You are on page 1of 395

A

M YT H S

B OO K O F
B Y JE A N
(MRS

LAN G

JO HN

L AN G)

W IT H T W E N T Y O R I G I N A L
D RA W I N G S IN C O L O U R
BY

HEL EN

S T RA T T O N

N E W Y O RK

P UTNA

L ON D ON

S ON S

S
c

J ACK

P RE F A C E
JU S T as a little ch il d holds ou t its h a n d s to catch the
sunbeams to feel and to grasp what so its eyes tell it
is actually there so down through the ages men have
stretche d ou t their hands in eager endeavour to know
their God And because only through the human was
the divine knowable the o l d peoples o f the earth made
gods of their heroes and not unfrequently endowed
these gods with as many of the V ices as of the
virtues of their worshippers As we read the myths of
the East and the West we nd ever the same story
That portion of the ancient Aryan race which poured
from the central plain of Asia through the rocky de l e s

The Frontier to popul ate the


of what we n ow call
fertile lowlands of India had gods who must once have
been wholly heroic but who came in time to be more
degraded than the most vicious of lustful criminals
And the Greeks Latins Teutons Ce lts and Slavonians
who came of the same mighty Aryan stock did even as
those with whom they owned a common ancestry
O riginally they gave to their gods o f their best Al l
that was noblest in them all that was stron gest and
most seless all the higher instin cts of their natures
were their endowment And although their worship
in time became corrupt and l ost its beauty there yet
,

vi1

viii

MYTHS

OF

B OOK

remains for us in the old tales o f the gods a wonder


ful humanity that strikes a vibrant chord in the hearts
o f those who a re the descendants o f their worshippers
For though creeds and forms may change human nat ure
never changes We are less simple than our fathers :
1
that is all And a s Professor York P owell most truly
says : It is not in a man s creed but in his deeds ;
not in his knowledge but in his sympathy that there
lies the essence of what is good and of what will last in

human life
The most usual habits of mind in ou r own day are
the theoretical and analyt ica l habits Dissec tion vivi
s e ction analysis those are the processes to wh ich
all things not conclusively historical and all things
spiritual are bound to pass Thus we nd the old
myths classied into Sun Myths an d Dawn Myths
Earth Myths and Moon Myths Fire Myt hs and Wind
Myths until as one of the most sane and vigorous
thinkers o f the present day has justly observed : If
you take the rhyme of Mary and her little lamb and call
Mary the su n and the lamb the moon you will achieve
astonishing resul ts both in religion and astronomy
wh e n you nd that the lamb followed Mary to school
,

on e

d ay

In

this littl e collection of Myths the stories are not


prese nted to the student of folklore as a fre sh c on tribu
tion to his knowledge Rather is the book intended
for those who in the course of their reading frequently
,

Tcu ton ic Hea then dom

Jo

h K lm a
n

n,

D D

Am ong Famou s B ooks

PREFACE

ix

come across names which possess for them no meaning


and who care to read some ol d stories through which
run s the s ame hu manity that their o w n hearts know
For although the ol d worship has passed away it is
almost impossible for us to open a book that does not
conta in some mention of the gods of long ago In our
chil dhood we are given copies of Kingsley s Heroes and
of Hawthorne s Tangl ewood Tal es Later on we nd in
Shakespeare Spenser Milton Keats Shelley Long
fell ow Tennyson Mrs Browning and a host of other
writers constant allusion to the stories of the gods
Scarcely a poet has ever wr itten but makes mention
of them in on e or other of his poems It would seem
as if there were no get away from them
We might
expect in this twentieth century that the ol d gods of
Greece and of Rome the gods of our Northern fore
fathers the gods of E gypt the gods of the British race
might be forgotten But even w hen we read in a news
paper of aeroplan es someone is more than likely to quote
the story o f B ellerophon and his winged steed or of
Icarus the y er and in ou r daily speech the name s of
gods and goddesses continually crop up We drive o r
at least till lately we drovein Phaetons Not only
schoolboys swear by Jove or by Jupiter The silvery
substance in ou r thermometers and barometers is
Blacksmiths are accustomed to being
n amed Mercury

referred to as
sons of Vulcan and beautiful youths

to being called
young Adonises
We accept the
names of newspapers and debating societies as being

the Argus without perhaps quite realising who was


,

OF

B OOK

MYTHS

Argus the many eyed We talk o f a panic


and
forget that the great god Pan is father of the word
Even in o u r religious services we go back to heathen
ism Not only are the crockets o n ou r cathedra l spires
and church pews remnants of re worship but on e of
our o w n most beautiful Christian blessings is probably
of Assyrian origin
The Lord bless thee and keep
thee
The Lord make His face to shine upon
thee
The Lord lift up the light o f Hi s c ou n te
nance upon thee
So did the priests o f the su n
gods invoke bles sings upon those who worshipped
We make many dis c overies as we study the myths
In the story of Baldu r
of the North and o f the South
we nd that the goddess He l u ltimately gave her name
to the place of pun ishment precious to the Calvinisti c
mind An d be c ause the Norseman very mu c h dis
liked the bitter cruel cold of the long winter his heaven
was a warm well re d abode and his pla c e of punish
ment one of terrible frigidity Somewhere on the other
s ide of the Tweed and Cheviots was the spot selected
by the Celt of southern Britain On the other hand
the eastern mind which knew the terrors o f a su n smitten
land and of a heat that was tort u re had for a he ll a
ery pl ace of constantly burning ames
In the spa ce permitted it has not been possible to
deal with more than a small number of myths and the
well known stories of Herakles of These u s and of the
Argonauts have been purposely omitted These h ave
been so pe rfectly told by great writers that to retell
them would seem absurd The same applies to the
-

Xi

PREFACE

O dyssey and the Iliad the translation s of whi c h prob


ably tak e rank amon g st the nest translations in any
l anguage
The writer will feel that her obj ec t has been gained
shoul d any readers of these stories fee l that for a littl e
while they have left the toi lful utilitaria nism of the
present day behind them and with it its hampering
restri ctions o f sordid actualities that are so murderous
to imagination an d to all romance
,

Gr eat G d ! I d rath r b
A Pa ga u kl d i a cr e d utw r ;
thi p l a a t l ea
S m i ght I ta d i g
H av gl im p that w ld mak m l f r l r
H av i ght f Pr t ri i g f m th
;
bl w h i w r ath ed h r
O h ar l d Trit

n s

se s

e s

on

ou

o eus

on

o n

ro

s n

e ss

o n

e se a

o n.

JE AN L A N G
ED

I N UR
B

GH,

Ju l y 19 14

P O S T S C RI P T
hav c m i th
l a t l g m th t d at
happ i g a s
w
f
t h y hav v r ti l w b d at d by th
g rati
d b tw
th W
B ef
W S p a k f t h i g t h at t k pl a c
t h at ti m
ta d a barri r i m m a rab l
d th i
Thi s b k with it P r fa c wa s c m p l t d i 19 14 B ef th
WE

e,

un

e ne

s s

e an

oo

Wa r

no

een

en e

on

ar

an

e en

e.

su

e e

e,

en n

or e

our

o ur o

o se o

s,

oo

on

on

o se

ore

d ri g
i c A g t 19 14 th e t h ma ity f
ra c h b
Pr m th a a g i
a s P r m t h s i h i gl y b r e th
B t ev
d f c ld
f h
c r l ti
g r d f th i r t d th
f h at
f pai
t rt r i ict d by
b c e bir d f p r y s hav e d r d th e m
ati
with wh m w e
p r d t b a lli d
d f t h e ati
f
w s
M ch m r r m te t h a th y s e m d
li tt l y ar g
m th
y Gr c e B t if w hav t d i d th e tra g tra
l d t ri
f
m g ti
w
l k W i th i t r t if W i th
f th a c i t g d
i wh m w
h rr r at th T t r p r
t ti
b l i ve
f th G
a G D f p rf c t p rity f h
r d f l v A c c r d i g t th i r
i t r p r tati
f H im th G d f th H
w ld m t b
m ch
a c f d rat f th
a s th m t d g rad d g d f a ci t w r h ip :
A d if w t r W i th h a m fr m th D i vi ity
ft
d s g l ib l y
r f rr d t by b la ph m
l ip
d l k
a p i c t r t h at t ar
d y t m ak
h art
h art bi g wit h p ri d w
u d r ta d h w
it w t h at t h
h r w h f gh t d d i d i th V a ll y f th e
S c m a d r c m i t m t b r gard d t a s m e b t a s g d
Th r i
tal e i a l l th w r l d my t h l gy e r t h a th ta l that
b ga i A g t 19 14 H w f t r g rat i W i l l te l l th tal w h
.

es

ue

on e s.

o e

es o

s o

ri

ca

e e
e

e s our

ca n sa

on

en

no

o s

e s

s o ur

n,

as

as

an

e c an

u e

an

en

ns

es

ee

se e

e,

ou

so

oo

an

an

s no

ou

e oes

o se

s,

un s

ous

as

e.

en

o, n o

OD

os

ou

ar e

een e n

en

oo

an

e V l Cl o u S

u n

s, a n

ca n

on

on o u

e o

an

e s u

s,

e se n a

nc

on e

as

un

en

on o

on

e u on

eu

un

ee

on

n e

su n n

ou r

on s

en

os

an

an o

o n an

our n

en

n, o

u es

nes

us

us

o o

u e

ene

on s

e,

yP

w h m L if
v r b th s am a gai
with
a
l
l
y
ar t
I t i th m m ry t h at th s ld i r l av b h i d h im l i k
t h at i a l l wh ic h i
th l
g trai f light t h at f l l w th
k
w rt h c ar i g f whi ch d i ti g i h th d at h f th brav
th e
i g bl
A d
r ly t a l l th w h
ghti g d ff ri g d dy i g
f
th G
f g d th G
a b l ca
wh
f batt l
i al
th
G
f p ac
d th
G
f L v
b cm
v r ar d
h
t r a lly l m g tity

O
l i ttl y t m hav t h ir d y
Th y h v t h ir d y d c t b
Th y b t br k l i g h t f Th
A d Th
h L r d art m r t h
th y
J EA N L A N G
E DI N URG H J l y 1 9 15
B u t w e , for

on

no

or

OD

o r,

u s

es

su n

es

en

n , c an sa
n

su n

or

su

no

n o

n e s n e ss :

e ca n n e

u se ,

e,

an

a re

OD o

s,

on

en

iv

o se

e,

an

su

OD o

as

e s,

an

an

so

ne

an

ur
e

e s

s e

are

ou , o

an

en
,

e as e

s o

o e

e,

e e,

an

X 11

CO N T E N T S

PR OME T H E U S

AN D

P AN D O R A

P YGMA L I O N

11

P HA E T O N

16

E ND

YM I O N

26

RP H E U S

A P OL L O

31

AN D

APHN E

42

P S Y CH E
THE

46

A L Y D O N I A N H UN T

ATA L AN T A
A RA CHN E
ID

AS

78
82

M A RPE SS A

AN D

90

A RE T HU S A

PE R S E U S
NI

100

THE

HE R O

105

O BE

124

HYA CI N T H U S
KIN G

CE

YX

MI D

129

A S OF

AN D

THE

O L D E N T O U CH

HA L CY O N E

ARI S TZE US TH E B E E -

K E E PE R

PR O S E R P I N E

69

L A ON A AN D

1 34

144
154

1 61
TH E

R U S T I CS

1 69

A B OO K O F MYTHS

x iv

PAGE

HO

AN D

EC

A R CI S S U S

1 74

I CA RU S

1 81

YTI E

1 89

CL

TH E
S

CR

AN E S O F

I B Y CU S

192

Y RI N X

THE

DE

1 97

A TH O F

AD

ON I S

2 02
2 09

P AN
L

O RE L E I

FRE YA
T HE

BE

DE

2 20
Q UE E N

A TH O F

OF
B

THE

A L D UR

O W UL F

R OL AN D
T HE

TH E

D E I RD

RE

O R T H E RN

G OD S

227
2 34

2 44

P A L A D IN

HI LD RE N

or

L iR

2 66

2 89
30 6

IST

I L L U S T RA T I O N S

OF

Wh at w as

h e d o in g , th e g r e a t g o d P a n ,
in th e r e e d s b y th e r iv e r !

D ow n

F r on tisp iece

op en ed

P an do r a

Th e n P y g m

Sh e

al

io n

th e l id
cov e re d

yes

Th u s d id P sy ch e l o s e h e r f e a r ,
door s

Sh e

s to p p e d , a n

Ma r p e s sa

d p ic k e d

sa t a l o n e

Th e y w h im p e r e d

A gr e y

o r n in g

an

d m

d m

en

th e

e y e s of

52
80
92
112

Hy a c in th u s

1 32

th e

on

th e

s e a sh o r e

b r in g in g b a ck

of

15 2

P rose r
166

p in e

S h e h a u n te d h im l ik e h is sh a d o w

Co m

b in g

Fr e y a

h e r l o n g g o l d e n h a ir w ith

s a t s p in n in

g th e

176
a com

of red

gol d

A s tr o k e s h iv e re d th e
s e iz e d o n ce

On e to u ch f o r

e a ch

24 0

sw o r d

or e

w ith

S h e h e l d it a g a in st h e r

262

h is h o rn
a

2 24

22 8

cl ou d s

B a l du r th e B e a u tif u l is d e a d

Ro l a n d

38

h im

of

f ou n d h e r

e n r e o ice d a t

28

te r th e g o l d e n

th e tr e a s u r e

up

b e gg e d

an d

on

co l

an

b y th e f o u n ta in

D a r kn e s s f e l l

Go d s

12

k e d h e r h o u n d s a n d s to o d b e s id e E n dy m io n
h e tu r n e d a n d f o u n d h is W if e b e h in d h im

ch e c

S w if tl y

h is

GE

a g ica l

br e a st

282
w

an

of

th e D r u id s

2 94
332

BOOK

M YT H S

OF

PR O METHEUS AND PAND O RA


TH O S E who are interested in watching the mental de
v e10 p m e n t o f a child must have noted that when the
baby has learned to speak even a little it begins to show
it s growing intelligence by asking questions
What

is this !
it woul d seem at rst to a sk with regard to
simple things that to it are still mysteries
Soon it
arrives at the more far reaching inquiries
Why i s

this so !
How did this happen !
An d as the
chil d s mental growth continues the painstakin g and
cons cientious parent or guardi an is many times fa ced b y
questions which l ack of kn owledge or a sensitive honesty
prevents him from answering either with assuranc e o r
with ingenuity
As with the child so it has ever been with the human
ra ce
Man has always come into the world asking

What !
and so the Hebrew
How !
Wh y !
the Greek the Maori the Australian blackfellow the
Norseman in a word each race of mank ind has formed
for itself an explanation of existence an answer to the
questions o f the gropin g child mind
Who made the

world !
What is God !
What made a God
think of re and air and water !
Why am I I 9
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

Into the explanation of creation and existen c e given


by the Greeks come the stories of Prometheu s and of
Pandora The world as rst it was to the Greeks was
such a world as the on e o f which we read in the Book

without form and void


It was a su nl ess
o f Genesis
world in which land air and sea were mixed up to
gether and over which reigned a deity called Chaos
With him ruled the goddess of Night and their son was
Erebus god of Darkness When the two beautiful chil
dren of Erebus Light and Day had ooded formless
space with their radiance Eros the god of Love was
born and Light and Day and Love workin g together
turned discord into harmony and made the earth the sea
and the sky into on e perfect whole A giant race a rac e
of Titans in tim e popul ated this newly made earth and
of these on e of the mightiest was Prometheus To him
and to his brother E p im eth u s was entru sted by Eros the
distribution of the gifts of facul ties and of instincts to all
the living creatures in the world and the task of making
a creature lower than the gods something less great than
the Titans y et in kn owledge and in un derstandin g in
nitely higher than the beasts and bird s and shes At
the hands of the Titan brothers birds beasts and shes
had fared handsomely Th ey were Titanic in their
generosity and so prodigal had they been in their gifts
that when they woul d fain have carried ou t the com m m ds
of Eros they found that nothing w a s left for the equ ip
ment of this being to be c al l ed Man Yet nothing
daunted Prometheus took some clay from the ground
at his feet moistened it with water and fashioned it into
,

PR OMETHEUS AND PAND O RA

image in form like the gods Into its nostrils Ero s


breathed the spirit of life Pallas Athen e endowed it with
a soul and the rst man looked wonderingly roun d on
the ear th that was to be his heritage Prometheus
proud of the beautiful thing of his ow n creation woul d
fain have given Man a worthy gift but no gift remain ed
for him
He was naked unprotected more help less than
any of the beasts of the eld more to be pitie d than any
of them in that he had a soul to suffer
Sur ely Zeus the Al l Powerful ruler of Olympus woul d
have compassion on Man ! But Prometheus looked to
Zeus in vain ; compassion he had none Then in in
nite pity Prometheus bethought himself of a power
bel onging to the gods alone and unshared by any livin g
creature on the earth

We shall give Fire to the Man whom we have made


To E p im eth u s this seemed an
h e said to E p im ethu s
impossibility but to Prometheus nothing was impossible
He bided his time and unseen by the gods he made his
way into Olympus lighted a hollow torch with a spark
from the chariot of the Sun and hastened back to earth
with this royal gift to Man As sure dl y no other gift
coul d have brought him more completely the empire
that has since been his N o longer did he tremble and
cower in the darkness of c aves when Zeus hurled his
lightnings across the sky No more did he d read the
animals that hun ted him and drove him in terror before
them
With
Ar med with re the beasts became his vassals
re he forged weapons deed the frost and c old c oined
an

A B OO K O F MYTHS

money made implements for tillage introduced the arts


and was able to destroy as well as to create
From his throne on Olympus Zeus looked down on
th e earth and saw with wonder airy columns of blue
gre y smoke that cur led upwards to the sky He watched
more closely and realised with terrible wrath that the
moving ow ers of red and gold that he saw in that land
that the Titans shared with men came from re that had
hitherto been the gods own sacred power Spee dily he
assembled a council of the gods to mete out to Prometheus
a punishment t for the blasphemous daring of his crime
This co u ncil decided at length to create a thing that
shoul d for evermore charm the soul s and hearts of men
a n d yet for evermore be man s un doing
To Vul can god of re whose province Prometheus had
insu l ted was given the work of fashion in g ou t of clay
and water the creatur e by which the honour of the gods

was to be avenged
The lame Vulcan says Hesiod
poet of Greek mythology
formed out of the earth an
image resemblin g a chaste virgin Pallas Athen e of the
blue eyes hastened to ornament her and to robe her in a
white tun ic She dressed on the crown of her head a
long ve il skilfully fashioned and adm irable to see ; sh e
crown ed her forehead with graceful garlands of newly
opened owers and a golden diadem that the lame Vul
can the illustrious god had made with his own hands to
plea se t h e puissant Jove O n this crown Vu l can had
chiselled the in num erable animals that the continents
and the sea nour ish in the ir bosoms all endowed with a
marvellous grace and apparently alive When he had
,

PR OMETHEUS AND PAND O RA


nally

completed in stead o f some us eful work this il lus


triou s masterpiece he brought into the assembly this
virgin proud of the ornaments with which sh e had been
decked by the blue ey ed goddess daughter of a powerful

sire
To this beautiful creature destined by the god s
to be man s destroyer each of them gave a gift From
Aphrodite she got beauty from Apollo musi c from Hermes
the gif t of a winning tongue An d when all that great
company in Olym pus had bestowed their gifts they named

the woman Pandora


Gifted by all the Gods
Thus
equipped for victory Pandora was led by H ermes to the
world that was thenceforward to be her home As a
gift from the gods sh e was presented to Prometheus
But Prometheus gazing in wonder at the violet blue
eyes bestowed by A p hrodite that looked wonderin gly back
into his o wn as if they were indeed as innocent as two
violets wet with the morning dew hardened his great
heart and woul d have none of her As a hero a worthy
descendant of Titans sai d in later years
Timeo

Danaos et dona feren te s


I fear the Greeks even

when they brin g gifts


An d Prometheus the greatly
daring kn ow m g that he merited the anger of the gods
Not only
saw treachery in a gift outwardl y s o perfe ct
would h e n ot accept this exquisite creature for his ow n
but he hastened to caution his brother also to refuse her
But well were the y named Prometheus (Forethought )
and E p im ethu s (Afterthought )
For E p im ethu s it
was enough to look at this peerless woman sent
from the gods for him to love her and to believe in
her utterly
She was the fairest thing on earth
,

A B OO K O F MYTH S

worthy indeed of the deathless gods who had create d her


Perfect too was the happiness that sh e brought with
her to E p im eth u s Before her coming as he well knew
now the fair world had been incomplete Sin ce sh e c ame
the fragrant owers had grown more sweet for him the
song of the birds more full of melody He found new life
in Pandora and marvelled how his brother coul d ever
have fancied that she c oul d bring to the world aught but
peace and j oyousness
Now w hen the gods had entrusted to the Titan
brothers the endowment of all living things upon the
earth they had been careful to withhold everything
that might bring into the world pain sickness anx iety
bitterness of heart remorse or soul crushing sorrow All
these hur tful things were imprisoned in a coffer which wa s
given into the care of the trusty E pim ethu s
To Pandora the world into which sh e c ame was al l
fresh all new quite ful l of unexpected j oys and de
l ightful surprises
It was a world of mystery but mystery
of which her great adorin g simple Titan held the golden
key When sh e saw the coffer which never was opened
what then more natur al than that she should ask E p im e
thus what it contained ! But the contents were known
only to the gods E p im eth u s was unable to an swer
Day by day the curiosity of Pandora increased To her
the gods had never given anything but good Surely
there must be here gifts more preciou s still What if the
Olympians had destined her to be the on e to open the
casket and had sent her to earth in order that she might
bestow on this dear world on the men who lived on it
.

PR OMETHEUS AND PAND ORA

and on her ow n magnicent Titan happiness and bless


ings which onl y the minds of gods could have c onceived
Thus did there c ome a day when Pandora unconscious
instrume n t in the hands of a vengeful Olympian in all
faith and with the courage that is born of faith and of
love opened the lid of the prison house of evil An d a s
from coffers in the ol d Egyptian tombs the live plagu e
can still rush forth and slay the long imprisoned evils
rushed forth upon the fair earth and on the human beings
w h o lived on it malignant ruthless er c e treacherous
and cruel poisoning slaying devouring Plague and
pestilence and mur der envy and mali ce and revenge and
all Vi ci ousness an ugly wolf pack indeed was that on e
let loose by Pandora Terror doubt misery had all
rushed straightway to attack her heart while the evil s of
which sh e had never dreame d stung mind and soul into
dismay an d horror w hen by hastily shuttin g the lid of
the coffer sh e tried to undo the evil she had done
An d 10 sh e found that the gods had imprisoned on e good
gift onl y in this Inferno of horrors and of ugliness In
the world there had never been any need of Hope What
work was there for Hope to do where all was perfe ct and
where each creature possessed the desire of body and of
heart ! Therefore Hope was thrust into the chest that
held the evils a star in a black night a lily growing on a
dung heap And as Pandora white lipped and tremblin g
looked in to the otherwise empty box courage came back
to her heart and E p im eth u s let fall to his side the arm
that woul d have slain the woman of his love because there
c ame to him like a draught of wine to a warrior spent in
,

A B OO K OF MYTHS

battle an imperial vision of the sons of men through all


the aeons to come combatting all evil s o f body and of
soul going on conquering and to conquer Thus saved
by Hope the Titan and the woman faced the future an d
for them the vengeance of the gods w as stay ed
,

Agai s t H
n

Ye t

e av n s

O f h art h p
R i gh t
ward
O

or

ha d
n

but

u e n ot

wi ll
bat a j t
till b ar u p d t r

or
s

I arg
,

n or

an

s ee

on

of

So spoke Milton the b lind Titan


century ; and Shakespeare says :
,

Tr h p i wift
g d
K i g it m ak
O

ue

s s

es

an d

s eventeenth

i W i th wall w wi g
d m a r c r at r
ki g
es

s, a n

th e

ne

es

Upon the earth and on the children of men w h o were


as gods in their kn owledge and mastery of the forc e o f
re Jupiter had had his revenge For Prometheus he
reserved another punishment He the greatly daring
on ce the dear friend and compan ion of Zeus himself was
chained to a rock o n Mount Caucasus by the v indictive
deity There on a dizzy heigh t his body thrust against
the sun baked rock Prometheus had to endure the tor
ment of having a foul beaked v ul tur e tear out his liver
as though he were a piece of carrion lying o n the moun tain
side Al l day while the sun mercilessly smote him and the
blue sky turned from red to black before his pain racked
eyes the tortu re went on Each night when the lthy
bird of prey that worked the will of the gods spread its
dark wings and ew back to its eyrie the Titan endured
the cruel mercy of having his body grow whole once more
But with daybreak there came again the sil ent shadow
,

PR OMETHE US AN D PAN D O RA

the smell of the unclean thing and again with erce beak
and talon s the vu l ture gree dily began its work
Th irty thousand years was the time of his sentence and
yet Prometheus knew that at any moment he coul d have
brought his torment to an end A secret was his a
mighty secre t the revelation of which would have brought
him th e mercy of Zeus and have reinstated him in th e
favour of the all powerful god
Yet did he prefer to
endure his agonies rather than to free himself by bowin g
to the desires of a tyrant who had c aused Man to be made
yet denie d to Man those gifts that made him nobler than
the beasts and raised him almost to the heights of th e
Olympians Thus for him the weary centuries dr agged by
in suffering that knew no respite in enduran ce that
Prometheus had
th e gods might have ended
an imperial gift to the men that he had made and
erial l y he paid the penalty
p
,

th u a d y ar f l p s h l t r d h ur s
A d m m t y d ivi d d by k
pa g
Til l th y m d y ar t rt r
d
l it d
S c r d d p air th
mi
mp ir
M r gl ri far tha that whi c h th
t
y
F r m thi u vi d thr e 0 M ighty G d !
Al m i ghty ha d I d i g d t har th ha m
O f thi ill tyra y d h g t h r
N ai l d t thi wa ll f a gl b ti g m
tai
Bl a ck wi try d a d m a r d ; with ut h rb
I ct b a t
hap e
d f l if
A h m ! a l a p ai p ai e v r f v r !
S H E LL EY
Thr

ee

s n

es

ne

n se

nn

or

Th e

e en

ne

un

e s

un

no

e e

su e

su

os

s o

or e

n,

es

ou n

wh e i mmort l y
f m rta l ity
ff ri g
i th ir s a d r a li ty
to

o r so u n

n,

e-

e,

ne e

o s

an

or s

s,

Tita

on

so

u e an

o u su rv e

een

e e

un

e s e ar e

n en

ne

s,

ou s

s ee

se e

o n an

o e

en s a

s o

es

A B OO K O F MYTHS

10

W r
thi g that g d d p i
t
W hat w thy p ity r c m p e e P
A S il t ff ri g d i t
;
d th c hai
Th r ck th v l t r
Al l that th p r d
f l f p ai
Th e a g y th y d
t h w
ff cati g e
Th
fw
Whi ch p ak b t i it l l i s
i j al
le t th ky
A d th
S h ld hav a l i t e r
wi l l s i g h
U ti l it v i c i ch l e
e no

as

es

se

as

su

en

ou

ee

n,

on e

n es

e s

n or

s e

oe ,

ne

n,

ous

en

ca n

e n se

s n se o

o no

ns

u e , an

ou

on

e su

an

ss

B Y RON

I am ti ll P r m th u w i r g r w
By y ar f l it d that h ld a p art
Th p a t
d f t r
g ivi g th
lr m
T
ar c h i t it l f d l g c m m
With thi t r a l i l c m r a g d
I my l g
ff ri g
d tr g th t m t
W ith q a l fr t th d ir t haft s f fat
Tha th u i th y fai t h art d d p ti m
Th r f r gr at h art b ar p th u art b t typ
O f what a ll l fty Sp irit d ur that fai
W l d w i m ba ck t tr gth d p a c thr gh l v
E a c h hath h i l
ly p ak d
a c h h art
E vy
c r
hatr d t ar l if l g
W ith v l t r b ak y t th hi g h l i l ft ;
A d faith whi c h i b t h p g r w wi
d l v
A d p at i c wh i ch at l a t ha ll v r c m
L OW E
Ye t,

so

s o

s e

on

su

e o e,

an

ou

o r s o n or
u

on e

u e

en

e,

es

an

on e

ou

e on

so u

an

ee

en

e,

un e

en

o s

en

s en

oo

o e

es

on

e so u

an

en

on

se

s,

e,

se

e n

e,

o se

u u

an

'

se , an

LL .

PYGMALI ON
IN

days when the world was young and when the god s
walked on the earth there reigned over the island of
C yprus a s culptor kin g and kin g of scul ptors named
Pygmalion In the language of ou r own day we shoul d

c all him wedded to his art


In woman he only saw
the bane of man Women he believed lured men from
the paths to whi ch their destiny called them Wh ile
man walked alone he walked free h e had given n o

hostages to fortune
Alone man c ould live for his
art c oul d combat every danger that beset him c oul d
escape unhampered from every pitfall in life But
woman was the ivy that clin gs to the oak and throttles
the oak in the end No woman vowed Pygmalion
shoul d ever ham per him And so at lengt h he came to
hate women and free of hear t and mind his genius
wrought such great things that he became a very perfe ct
scul ptor He had on e passion a passion for his art and
that sufced him Out of great rough blocks of marble he
would hew the most perfe ct semblance of men and of
women and of everythin g that seemed to him most beauti
ful and the most worth preserving
Wh en we look now at the Venus of Milo at the Diana of
Versailles and at the Apollo Belvidere in the Vatican we
can imagine what were the greater things that the scul ptor
blocks of marble O ne
of Cypru s freed from the
dead
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

12

day as he chipped and chiselled there came to him like


the rough sketch of a great picture the semblance of a
woman How it came he knew not Only he knew that
in that great mass of pure white stone there seemed to be
imprisoned the exquisite image of a woman a woman
that he must set free Slowly gradual ly the woman
came Soon he knew that she was the most beautiful
thing that his art had ever wrought Al l that he had
ever thought that a woman shou l d be this woman was
Her form and featur es were all most perfect and so per
feet were they that he felt ve ry sure that had sh e been
a woman indeed most perfe ct would have been the soul
within For her he worked as he had never worked
before There came at last a day when he felt that
another touch would be insu lt to the exquisite thin g he
had created He laid his chisel aside and sat down to
gaze at the Perfect Woman She seemed to gaze back at
him Her parted lips were ready to speak to smile
Her hands were held ou t to hold his hands Th en P yg
m al ion covered his eyes
He the hater of women loved

a woman a woman of chil l y marble The women he


had scorned were avenged
Day by day his passion for the woman of his ow n
creation grew and grew His hands no longer w ielded
the chisel They grew idle He woul d stand under the
gre at pines and gaze across the sapphire blue sea and
dream strange dreams of a marble woman who walked
across the waves with arms outstretched with smiling
lips and who be c ame a woman of warm esh and blood
when her bare feet touched the yellow sand a n d
,

THE

N P Y M A I ON C O
G

V E RE

HIS

YS
E

PYGMALI ON

13

the bright sun of Cyprus touched her marble hair and


tur ned it into hair of living gold Then he woul d
hasten back to his studio to nd the miracle still u n
accomplished and woul d passionately kiss the little cold
hands and lay beside the little cold feet the presen ts he
knew that youn g girls loved bright shells and exquisite
precious stones gorgeous hued birds and fragran t owers
shining amber and beads that Sparkled and ashed with
all the most lovely combinations of c olour that the mind
Yet more he did for he spent vast
of artist coul d devise
sums on priceless pearls and hung them in her ears and
upon her cold white breast ; and the merchants wondered
who coul d be the one upon whom Pygmalion l avished the
money from his treasury
To his divinity he gave a name
Galatea
and
always on still n ights the myriad silver stars woul d seem
to breathe to him Galatea
and on those days
when the tempests blew across the sandy wastes of Arabia
and churned up the erce white su rf on the rocks of
Cy prus the very spirit of the storm seemed to moa n
through the crash of waves in longing hopeless and u nutter
able
Galatea !
Galatea
For her he decked a
couch with Tyrian purple and on the softest of pillows he
laid the beautiful head of the marble woman that he loved
So the time wore on until the festival of Aphrodite
drew near Smoke from many altars curled ou t to sea the
odour of incense mingled with the fragrance of the great
pine trees and garlanded victims lowed and bleated as
they were led to the sacrice As the leader of his people
Pygmalion faithful ly and perfectly performed all his part
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

14

the solemnities and at last he w a s left beside the altar


to pray alone Never before h a d his words faltered as he
laid his petitions before the gods but on this day he spoke
not as a scul ptor king but as a child who w as half afraid
of what he asked
O Ap h rodite
he said who can do all things give
me I pray you one like my Galatea for my wife

Give me my Galatea he dared not say but Aph ro


dite knew wel l the words he w ould fain have uttere d and
smiled to think how Pygmalion at last w a s on his knees
In token that his prayer w a s answ ered three times sh e
made the ames on the altar shoot up in a ery point
not
(1 Pygmalion went home s car cely darin g to hope
a llo wi ng his glad ness to conquer his fe a r
T he shadow s of evening we re fallin g as he went into
the room that he had made sa cred to Galatea O n the
purple covered couch sh e lay a nd as he entered it seemed
almost it
as though sh e met his eyes wi th her o w n ;
seemed that she smiled at h im in wel come He qu ickly
went up to her a nd k neeling by her side he pressed
his lips on those lips of chilly marb le So many tim es
he had done it before and al ways it was as though
the icy lips that coul d never live sent their chill right
thr ough his heart but now it surely seemed to him
that the lips were cold no longer He felt one of the
little hands and no more did it remain heavy an d cold
and stiff i n his touch but lay i n his own hand soft
and living an d warm He softl v laid h is ngers on the
marble hair an d 10 it w as the soft and wavy bu rnished
golden hair of his desire
Again reverently as he
in

PYGMALI ON

15

had laid his offerings that day on the altar of Ven u s


Pygmalion kissed her lip s An d then did Galatea with
warm and rosy cheeks widely open her ey es like pools in
a dark mountain stream on which the sun is shining and
gaze w ith timid gladness into his own
There are n o after tales of Pygmalion and Galatea
We only know that their l ives were happy an d that to
them was born a son Paphos from whom the city sacred
to Aphrodite received its name Perhaps Aphrodite may
have smil ed sometimes to watch Pygmalion once the
scorner of wome n the adorin g serv ant of the woman that
his ow n hands had rst designed
,

PHAET ON
Th e

r ad
o

to

d riv e

on

whi c h

k i l l e d w r P ha t
ha d
D A N T E P g t

'

uns

e on s

ur

a or o

Apollo the
god and Clymene a beautiful ocean
nymph there was born in the pleasant land of Gree c e a
child to whom was given the name of Phaeton the Bright
and Shining O ne The rays of the sun seemed to live in
the curls of the fearless little lad and when at noon other
children woul d seek the cool shade of the cypress grove s
Phaeton would hold his head aloft and gaze fearlessly up
at the brazen sky from whence erce heat beat down upon
his golden head
Behold my father drives his chariot a cross the
heavens ! he proudly proclaimed
In a little while I

also will dr ive the four snow white steeds


His elders heard the childish boast with a smile but
when E paph os half brother to Apollo had listened to it
man y time s an d beheld the child Phaeton grow into an
arrogant lad w h o held himself as though he were indeed
o n e o f the Immortals anger grew in his heart
One day
he turn ed upon Phaeton and spoke in erce scorn
Dost say thou art son of a god
A shameless
boaster and a liar art thou ! Hast ever spoken to th y
divine sire ! Give us some proof of thy sonship ! No more
child of the glorious Apollo art thou than are the vermin

his children that the su n b re e l s in the dust at my feet


To

u
s n

PHAET ON

17

a moment before the c ruel taun t the lad was


stricken into silence and then his pride a a m e his young
voic e shaking with rage and w ith bitter shame he cried
aloud
Thou E paph os art the liar I have but to ask
my father and thou shalt see me drive his golden chariot

a cross the sky


To his mother he hastened to get balm for his hurt
pride as many a time he had got it for the little bodily
wounds of childhood and with bur sting heart he pour ed
forth his story

True it is he said
that my father has never
deigned to S peak to me Yet I kn ow because thou hast
told me so that he is my sire And now my word is
pledged Apollo must let me drive his steeds else I
am for evermore branded braggart and l iar and shamed

amongst men
Clymene listened w ith grief to his c omplai n t He
was so you n g so gallant so foolish

Trul y thou art the son of Apollo she said


and
oh
son of my heart thy beauty is his and thy pride the
pride of a son of the gods Yet only partly a god art
thou and though thy proud courage would dare al l things
it were mad folly to thin k of doing what a god alone

can do
But at last sh e said to him
Naught that I can say
is of any avail Go seek thy father and ask him what
thou wil
Then sh e told him how he might nd the
place in the east where Apollo rested ere the labours of
the day began an d with eager gladness Phaeton set ou t
upon his j ourney A long way he travel led wi th never
For

A B OOK O F MYT H S

18

a ste p yet when the glittering dome and j ewelled turrets


and minarets of the Palace o f the Sun came into V iew he
forgot his weariness and hastened up the steep a sc ent to
the home of his father
Ph oebu s Apollo cla d in purple that glowed like the
radianc e of a cloud in the sunset sky sat upon his
golden throne The Day the M onth and the Year
stoo d b y him and beside them were the H ours S pring
was there her head wreathed with owers ; Summer
crowned with ripened grain ; Autumn with his feet
e mpurpled by the jui c e of the grapes ; an d W inter
with hair all white and stiff with h e ar frost An d when
Phaeton walked up the golden steps that led to his
father s throne it s eemed as though in c arnate Youth had
c o m e to j oin the court of the god of the Sun an d that
Youth was so beautiful a thing that it must s u rely l ive
forever
P rou dl y did Apollo k now him for his son
and when the boy looked in h is eyes with the arrogant
fearl essness of boyhoo d the go d greeted him ki n dly
and asked him to tell him why he c ame an d what
wa s his p etition
As to Clym ene so also to Apollo Phaeton told his
tal e an d his father l istened half in pride and amusement
half in puzzled vex ation When the boy stopped and
then breathlessly with shining eyes and u shed chee ks
ended u p his story with : And 0 light of the boundl ess
w orld if I am in deed th y son let it be as I have said and for
on e day only let me drive thy chariot a c ross the heavens
Apollo shook his head and answered very gravely

In truth thou art m y dear son he said


and by
,

P HAET ON

19

the dreadful Styx the river of the dead I swear that I will
give thee any gif t that thou dost name an d that wil l give
proof that thy father is the i m mortal Apoll o But never
to thee nor to any other be he mortal or im mort al shall

I grant the boon of driving m y chariot


But the boy pled on

I am shamed for ever my father he said


Sur ely
thou woul dst not have son of thine prove d l iar and
braggart

Not even the gods themselves c an d o this thing


answered Apollo
Nay not even the al mighty Zeus
None but I Ph oebus Apollo may drive the aming chariot
for the way is beset with dangers and none
of the su n

know it but I
On ly tell me the way m y father
cried P haeton

S o soon I could learn


Half in sadness Apollo smiled

The rst part of the way is uphill he said


So
stee p it is that only very slowly can my horses climb it
High in the heavens is the mid dl e so high that even I
grow di zzy when I look down upon the earth and the sea
And the last piece of the way is a precipice that rushes
so steeply downward that my hands can scarce che ck
the mad rush o f my galloping horses An d all the while
the heaven is sp irm in g round and the stars with it By
the horn s of the Bull I have to drive past the Archer whose
bow is taut and ready to slay close to where the Seor
pion stret ches out its arms and the great Crab s cl aws
grope for a prey
I fear none of these things oh my father ! cried
,

A BOO K O F MYTHS

20

Phaeton
Grant that for on e day only I drive thy
white maned steeds
Very pitiful ly Apollo l ooked at him an d for a little
spac e he was silent

The little human hands he said at length


the

little human frame


and with them the soul of a god
The pity o f it my son Dost not know that the boon
that thou dost crav e from me is Death

Rather Death than Dishonour said Phaeton and


prou dl y he added
For once would I drive like the god

my father I have no fear


S o was Apoll o vanquished and Phaeton gained his
heart s desire
From the courtyard of the Palace the four white
horses were led and they pawed the air and neighed aloud
in the glory of their strength They drew the chariot
who s e axle and pol e and wheels were of gold with spokes
while inside were rows of diamonds and of
of silver
chrysolites that gave dazzling reection of the su n Then
Apollo anointed the face o f Phaeton with a powerful
essenc e that might keep him from being smitten by the
ames and upon his head he placed the rays of the sun
An d then the stars went away even to the Daystar that
we nt l ast o f all and at Ap ollo s signal Aurora the rosy
n gere d thre w open the pur ple gates o f the east an d
Phaeton saw a path of pale rose colour open before him
With a cry o f exultation the boy leapt into the
chariot and laid hold o f the golden reins Barely did he
hear Apollo s parting words :
Hold fast the reins and
spare the whip Al l thy strength will be wanted to hold
.

PHAET ON

21

the horses in Go not too high n or too low The middl e


c ourse is safest and best Follow if thou canst in the
His glad voi c e of
ol d tracks o f my chariot wheels 1
thanks for the godlike boon rang back to where Apollo
stood an d watched h im vanishing into the dawn that stil l
was soft in hue as the feathers on the b reast of a dove
Uphill at rst the white steeds made their way an d
the re from their nostrils tinged with ame colour the
dark clouds that hung over the land and the sea With
rapture Phaeton felt that trul y he was the son of a god
and that at length he was enj oying his heritage The
day for which t h rough all his short life he had longed
had come at last He was driving the chariot whose
progress even now was awaking the sleeping earth The
radiance from its wheels and from the rays he wore roun d
his head was painting the cl ouds and he l aughed alou d
in rapture as he saw far down below the se a and the
rivers he had bathed in as a human boy mirroring the
reen
and
rose
and
purple
and
gold
and
silver
and
er
c
e
g
crimson that he Phaeton was placing in the sky The
grey mist rolled from the mountain tops at his desire The
white fog rolled up from the valleys All living thi ngs
awoke the owers opened their petals ; the grain grew
golde n the fruit grew ripe Could but E p aph os see him
now ! Surely he must see him and realise that not
Apollo but Phaeton was guiding the horses of his father
driving the chariot of the Sun
Quicker and yet more qu ick grew the pac e of the
white maned steeds Soon they left the morning bre ezes
behind and very soon they knew that these were not
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

22

the hands of the god their master that held the golden
reins Like an air ship without its accustomed ballast
the chariot rolled unsteadily and n ot only the boy s light
weight but his light hold on their bridles made them grow
mad with a lust for speed The white foam ew from
their mouths lik e the spume from the giant waves of a
fur ious sea and their pace w as swift as that of a b e l t
that is cast by the arm of Zeus
Yet Phaeton had no fear and when they heard
him shout in rapture
Quicker still brave ones ! more
swiftly still
it made them speed onwards madly
blindl y with the headlong rush of a storm There was
no hope for them to keep on the beaten track and soon
Phaeton had his raptu re checked by the terrible real isa
tion that they had strayed far ou t of the course and that
his hands were not strong enough to guide them Close
to the Great Bear and the Little Bear they passed and
these were scorched with heat The Serpent which torpid
chilly and harmless lies coiled round the North Pole felt
a warmth that made it grow erce and harmful again
Down ward ever dow nward galloped the maddened horses
and soon Phaeton saw the sea as a shield of molten brass
an d the earth so near that all things on it were visible
When they passed the Scorpion and onl y just missed
destruction from its menacing fangs fear entered into the
boy s heart His mother had spoken truth He was
onl y partly a god and he was very very young In
impotent horror he tugged at the reins to try to check the
horses descent then forgetful of Apoll o s warning he
smote them angril y But anger met an ger and the fury
,

PHAET ON

23

the immortal steeds had scorn for the wrath of a mortal


boy With a great toss of their mighty heads they had
torn the guiding reins from his grasp and as he stood
giddil y swaying from side to side Phaeton kn ew th at the
boon he had craved from his father must in truth be
death for him
And 10 it was a hideous death for with eyes that
were like ames that burned his brain the boy beheld
the terrible havoc that his pride had wrought
That
blazin g chariot of the Sun made the clouds smoke and
dried up all the rivers and water springs Fire bur st
from the mountain tops great cities were destroyed
The beauty of the earth was ravished woods and
meadows and all green and pleasant places were l ai d
waste The harvests perished the ocks and they w h o
had herded them lay dead Over Libya the horses took
him and the desert of Libya remains a barren wilderness
to this day while those sturdy Ethiopians w h o su rvive d
are black even now as a c onsequence of that c ruel heat
The Nile changed its course in order to es c ape and nymphs
and nereids in terror sought for the sanctuary of some
watery place that had escaped destruction The fa c e of
the burned and blackened earth where the bodies of
thousands of human beings lay charred to ashes cracked
and sent dismay to Pluto by the lurid light that penetrated
even to his throne
All this Phaeton saw saw in impotent agony of soul
His boyish folly and pride had been great but the ex
cruciating anguish that made him shed tears o f blood
was indeed a pun ishment even too heavy for an erring god
of

A B OO K O F MYTHS

24

From the havoc around her the Earth at last looked


Up and with blackened face and blinded ey e s and in a
voice that was harsh and very very weary sh e called
to Zeus to look down from Olympus and behold the ruin
that had been wrought by the chariot of the Sun And
Zeus the cloud
gatherer looked down and beheld And
at the sight of that piteous devastation his brow grew
dark and terrribl e was his wrath against him who had
held the reins of the chariot Calling upon Apollo and
all the other gods to witness him he seized a lightning
bolt and for a moment the deathless Zeus an d all the
dwellers in Olympus looked on the ery chariot in which
stood the swayin g slight lithe gu re of a young lad
blinded with horror shaken with agony T hen from
his hand Zeus east the bolt an d the chariot was dashed
into fragments and Phaeton his golden hair ablaze fell
like a bright shooting star from the heavens above
into the river Eridanus The steeds returned to the ir
master Apollo and in rage and grief Apollo lashed them
Angrily too and very rebelliously did he spea k of the
punishment meted to his son by the rul er of the Im m or
tals Yet in truth the punishment was a merciful o n e
Phaeton was only half a god and no human l ife were t
to live after the day of dire anguish that had been h is
Bitter was the mou rning of Clym ene over her beautiful
o n ly son and so ceaselessly did his three sisters the
Heliades weep for their brother that th e gods turned
them into poplar trees that grew by the bank of the river
and when still they wept their tears tur ned into precious
amber as they fell Yet another mourned for Phaeton
,

PHAET O N

25

Phaeton dead ere his prime


Cv n cu s King of Ligur i a
had dearly loved the gallant boy and again and yet again
he dived deep in the river and brought forth the charred
fragments of what h ad once been the beautiful son of a
god and gave to them honourable burial Yet he coul d
not rest satised that he had won all that remained of his
friend from the river s bed and so he continued to haunt
the stream ever div ing ever searching u ntil the gods
grew weary of h is restless sorrow and changed him into a
swan
And still we see the swan sailing mournful ly along
like a white sailed barque that is bearing the body of a
king to its rest and ever and anon plunging deep into
the water as though the search for the boy who would
fain have been a god were never to come to an end
To Phaeton the Italian Naiades reared a tomb and
inscribed on the stone these words :
3

riv r f P h b c ha i t Pha t
S tr ck by J v th d r r s ts b ath thi t
H c ld
t r l h i fath r
c ar f

O ID
b ly t a p ir
Y t wa s it m ch

oe u s

r o

un

e s

e on ,

en e

s s on e ,

ou

u e

no

re ,

so n o

ENDYMI ON
the modern popu lar mind perhaps none of the god

desses of Greece not even Venus herself has more


appeal than has the huntress goddess Diana Those
who know but little of ancient statuary can still brighten
to intelligent recognition of the huntress with her quiver
and her little stag when they meet with them in picture
gallery or in suburban garden That unlettered sports
man in weather worn pink slowly riding over the fragrant
dea d leaves by the muddy roadside on this chill grey
morn ing may never have heard of Artemis but he is
quite ready to make intelligent reference to Diana to the
handsome young sportswoman whom he nds by the
c overt side ; and Sir Walter s Diana Vernon has helpe d
the little read public to rea lise that the original Diana was
a goddess worthy of being sponsor to on e of the nest
heroines of ction
But not to the sportsman alone but also to the youth

they know not why to


o r maid who loves the moon
those whom the shadows of the trees on a woodland path
at night mean a grip of the heart while pale Dian
s cuds over the dark clouds that are soaring far beyon d
the tree tops and is peepin g chaste and pale through the
branches of the rs and giant pines there is somethin g
arresting enthralling in t e thought of the go ddess
To

ENDYMION

27

rm a

Diana w h o now has for hunting ground the blue


ment of heaven where the pale Pleiades
-

G l itt r l i k a warm

of

ta gl d

re ie s

in

a i l v r brai d
TE NNY S ON
w ld

g l a h e il va tr p hi ; d ow th
h ar th bbi g f th ta g that
M i x d wit h th m i c f th h ti g l l d
d l i gh t i a ll i ar ch ry
B th
d p ity w tt th h e
A d a ght f r th
M r tha h h d that f ll w th i ght ;
Th g d d e
d raw a g ld b w f m i ght
A d thi ck h e rai s th g t l haft that la y
l
h
l ck p th i ght
Sh t
A d thr u gh th d i m w d D ia thr e a d h
way
AN D R E W

Sh e
Sh e

ns

r s

e so

es

e s

ee

er

ou n

er

en

e s

oo

on

en

s u

ro

oo s e

o sse s

un

an

ss

o e

er

us

on

e n

er

AN G

Agai n and again in mythological history we come on


stories of the goddess sometimes under her best kn own
name o f Diana sometimes under her older Greek name
and now and again as Selene the moon
of Artemis
goddess the Luna of the Romans Her twin brother was
Apollo god of the su n and with him sh e shared the
power of un erringly wielding a bow and of sending grave
plagues and pestilences while both were patrons of music
and of poetry
When the sun god s golden chariot had driven down
into the west then would his sister s noiseless footed silver
steeds be driven across the sky while the huntress shot
from her bow at will silen t arrows that wou ld slay without
warn ing a j oyous y oun g mother with her newly born babe
or woul d wantonl y pierce with a lifelong pain the heart
of some luckless mortal
Now one night as sh e passed Mount L atm o s there
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

28

chanced to be a shepherd lad lying asleep beside his


slee p ing ock Many times had Endymion watched the
goddess from afar half afraid of o n e so beautiful and
yet so ruthless but never before had Diana realised the
youth s wonderful beauty She checked her hounds when
they woul d have swept on in their chase through the
and stood beside Endymion She judged him to
n ight
be as perfect as her own brother Apollo yet more
perfect perhaps for on his upturned sleeping face
was the silver glamour of her own dear moon Fierc e
and burning passion could come with the sun s burnin g
rays but love that came in the moon s pale light was
passion mixed with gramarye She gazed for long and
when in his sleep Endymion smiled sh e knelt beside
him and stooping gently kisse d his lips The touch of a
moonbeam on a sleepin g rose was no more gentl e than was
Diana s touch y et it was sufficient to wake Endymion
An d as while one s body sleeps on one s half waking mind
n ow and again in a l ifetime seems to realise an ecstasy
of happiness so perfect that one dares not wake lest b y
waking the wings o f one s realised ideal should slip
betwee n graspin g ngers and so escape forever so did
Endymion realise the kiss of the goddess But before
his sleep y eyes coul d be his senses witnesses Diana had
hastened away Endymion sprin ging to his feet saw
only his sleepin g ock nor did his dogs awake when he
heard what seemed to him to be the baying of hou nds in
full cry in a forest far up the mountain Onl y to his ow n
heart did he dare to whisper what was th is wonderful
thing that he believed had befallen him and although h e
.

S HE

CH C D
E

KE

HE R

HO

U N DS AN D S T OO D

B E SIDE

N D YM I O N

ENDYMION

29

laid himself down hoping that once again this miracle


might be granted to him no miracle came ; nor coul d
he sleep so great was his longing
Al l the next day through the su ltry hours while Apoll o
dr ove his chariot of burnished gold through the l and
Endymion as he watched his ocks tried to dr eam his
dr eam once more and longed for the day to end and the
cool dark night to return When night came he tried to
lie awake and see what might befall but when kind sleep
had closed his tired eyes
Th r c am a l v ly vi i f a m ai d
Wh
m d t
t p fr m a g l d car

L W
O t f th l w h
gm
M O RR IS
,

e e

o se e

o s e

un

s on o

as

oon

"

en

Is

Al way s sh e kissed him yet when her kiss awoke him


,

he never coul d see anythin g more tangible than a shaft


o f silver moonlight on the moving bushes of the mountain
side never hear anythin g more real than the far away
echo of the baying of pursuing hounds and if with eager
greatly daring eyes he l ooked skywards a dark cloud
so it seemed to him woul d alway s hasten to hide the moon
from his longing gaze
The days of Endy
In this manner time passed on
mion were lled b y longin g day dreams His sleeping
hours ever brought him ecstasy Ever too to the god
dess the human being that sh e loved seemed to her to
grow more precious For her all the joy of day and of
night was concentrated in the moments sh e spent b y the
side of the sleeping Endymion The ocks of the shep
herd ourished like those o f no other herd No wil d
beast dared come near them ; no storm nor disease
-

A BOO K O F MYTHS

30

assailed them Yet for Endymion the things of earth n o


longer held an y value He lived only for his dear dream s
sake Had he been permitted to grow old and worn and
tired and still a dreamer who knows how his story might
have ended
But to Diana there came the fear that w ith
age his beauty might wane and from her father Zeus
sh e obtained for the one sh e loved the gifts of unending
y outh and of eternal sleep
There came a night when the dreams o f Endymion
had no end That was a night when the moon made
for herself broad silver paths across the sea from far
horizon to the shore where the little waves lapped and
curled in a radiant ever moving sil ver frin ge Silver
also were the leaves of the forest trees and between the
branches of the solemn cypresses and of the stately
dark pines Diana shot her silver arrows No baying
of hounds came then to make Endymion s ocks move
uneasily in their sleep but the silver stars seemed
to sing in unison together
While still those gentle
lips touched his hands as gentle lifted up the sleeping
Endymion and bore him to a secret c ave in Mount Lat
mos And there for evermore sh e came to kiss the
mouth of her sleeping lover There forever slept Endy
mion happy in the perfect bliss of dreams that have no
ugly awaking of an ideal love that knows no ending
.

ORPHE US
O rp h e

with h i l t m a d tr
A d th m
t i t ps t h at fr z
B w th m
l v wh h d id i g ;
T h i m i c pla t
d w r
g
d h w r
E v r Sp r
Th r had m ad a la ti g p ri g
E v ry thi g that h ar d h m pl ay
Ev
th
bi ll w f th
H g th ir h a d d th lay by
I
w t m u i c i s u ch art
K i ll i g c ar
d g ri f f h art
F all a l p h ari g di
S H AK E SP E AR E
us

ou n a n

se

un

e e

un

ee

s ee

e s e a,

en

or

e an

e s

s, an

s o

n s

en

e s

an

e,

s n

s an

as su n

ee

en

e e s,

es

us

u e

all l v r
O rp h u w l vi g what i s g
fr m
d wi l d r
fr v r
k i g it vai l y i th s l i t d
d
f
m i d d y i g t E urydic t c m a gai ! A d
w
t
th
al l f l i h
O r ph
w
h p i g by th a g y f l v
d th
d d w
cs ta y f will t w i ba ck E ryd i c
O rp h
t a ll fai l
fai l d b ca
f r a k th way f th th r w rld f th way
w
F I ON A M AC E O D
f thi w r ld

Are

o e

us

n ot

cr

an

a s,

es

e no

ar e

on

e n e ss

an

an

on e

o s

as,

u se

as

eus

e s

as

se e

an

oo

we

as

or

an

no

eu s

is the custom nowaday s for scientists and for other


scholarly people to take hold of the old m yths to take
them to pieces and to nd some deep hidden meanin g in
each part of the story So you will nd that some will
tell y ou that O rpheus is the personication of the winds
whi ch tear up trees as they course along c hantin g their

and that Eurydi c e is the morning with its


Wil d music

short lived beauty


Others say that Orpheus is the
mythologi cal expression of t e delight which music gives

IT

A BO OK O F MYTH S

32

to the primitive races while yet others accept without


hesitation the idea that O rpheus is the su n that when day
is done plunges into the black abyss of night in the vain
hope of overtaking his lost bride Eurydice the rosy dawn
And whether they be right or wrong it would seem that
the sadness that comes to us sometimes as the day dies
and the last o f the sun s rays vanish to leave the h ill s and
valley s dark an d cold the sorrowful feeling that we cannot
un derstand when in country pla c es we hear music coming
from far away or liste n to the plaintive song of the bird
are things that very specially belong to the story of
O rpheus
In the country o f Thrace surrounded by all the best
gifts o f the gods O rp heus was born His father was
Apollo the god of music and of song his mother the
muse Calliope Apollo gave his little son a lyre and him
It was not long before
self taught him how to play it
al l the wild things in th e woods of Thrace crept out from
the green trees and thick undergrowth an d from the holes
and caves in the rocks to listen to the music that the
child s ngers made The coo o f the dove to his mate
th e u te clear trill o f the blackbird the song of the lark
the liquid carol o f the nightingale all cea sed when the
boy made music The winds that whispered their s ecrets
to the trees owned him for their lord and the proudest
trees of the forest bowed their heads that they might not
miss o n e exquisite sigh that his ngers drew from the
magical strings Nor man nor beast lived in his day that
he cou ld not sway by the power of his melody He play ed
a lul laby and all things slept He played a love lilt and
,

ORPHEUS

33

the owers sprang up in ful l bloom from the cold earth


and the dr eaming red rosebud opened wide her velvet
petals and all the land seemed full of the loving e choes of
the lilt he played He played a war march and afar off
the sleeping tyrants o f the forest sprang up wide awake
and bared their angry teeth and the untried youths of
Thra c e ran to beg their fathers to let them taste battle
while the s carred warriors felt on their thumbs the sharp
ness of their sword blades and smiled well content
Wh ile he played it would seem as though the very stones
and rocks gained hearts Nay the whole heart of the
a
l
i
t
i
g
beautifu
thing
a
t
n
l
un iverse became on e great
p p
an instrument from whose trembling strings wa s draw n
ou t the music of O rpheus
He rose to great power and became a mighty prince
N ot his lute alone but he himself play ed on
of Thrace
the heart of the fair Eury dice and held it captive It
seemed as though when they became m an and w ife all
happiness must be theirs But althou gh Hymen the god of
marriage himself came to bless them on the day they wed
the omens on that day w ere against them The torch that
Hymen carried had no golden ame but sent out pungent
black smoke that m ade their eyes water They feared
they knew not what ; but when soon afterwards as Eury
dice wandered with the nym phs her compan ions through
the blue shadowed woods of Thrace the reason was dis
covered A bold shepherd who did n ot know her for a
princess saw Eurydice and no sooner saw her than he
loved h er He ran after her to pro c laim to her his love
and sh e afraid of his wil d un couthness ed before him She
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

34

ran in her terror too sw iftly to watch whither sh e went


and a poisonous snake that lurked amongst the fern bit the
fair white foot that itted like a buttery across it In
agonised suffering Eurydice died Her spirit went to the
land of the Shades and O rpheus was left broken hearted
The sad winds that blow at night across the sea the
sobbing gales that tell o f wreck and death the birds that
wail in the darkness for their mates the sad soft whisper
of the aspen leaves and the leaves o f the heavy clad blue
black cypresses all now were hushed for greater than all
more full of bitter s orrow than any arose the musi c of
O rpheus a long drawn sob from a broken heart in the
Valley of the Shadow of Death
Grief came alik e to gods and to men as they listened
but no comfort came to him from the expression of his
sorr ow At length when to bear his grief longer was
impossible for h im O rpheus wandered to Olympus and
there besought Zeus to give him permission to seek his
Zeus moved
wife in the gloomy land of the Shades
b y his anguish granted the permission he sought but
solemnl y warned him of the terrible perils of his under
taking
But the l ove of O rpheus was too perfect to know any
fear ; thankfu lly he hastened to the dark cave on the
side of the promontory of Taeu aru s and soon arrived at
the entrance of Hades Stark and grim was the three
headed watchdog Cerberu s which guarded the door and
w ith the growls and the fur ious roaring o f a wild beast
athirst for its prey it greeted Orpheu s But O rpheus
tou ched his lute and the brute amazed sank into silence
,

O RPHEUS

35

And still he played and the dog would gently have licked
the player s feet and looked up in his face w ith its savage
eyes full of the light that we see in the eyes of the dogs of
this earth as they gaze with love at their masters O n
then strode Orpheus playin g still and the melody he dr ew
from his lute passed before him into the realm s of Pluto
Surely never were heard such strains They told of
perfect tender love of un endin g longing of pain too
great to end with death Of al l the beauties of the earth
they sangof the sorrow of the world of all the world s
desire of things past of things to come An d ever
through the song that the lute sang there came like a
thread of silver that is woven in a black velvet pall a
limpid melody It was as though a bird sang in the mirk
n ight and it spoke of pea c e and o f hope and o f j oy that
knows no end ing
Into the blackest depths of Hades the soun ds sped on
their way and the hands o f Time stood still From his
bitter task of trying to quaff the stream that ever receded
from the parched and burning lips Tantalus ceased for a
moment The ceaseless course of Ixion s wheel was stayed
the v ul tur e s relentless beak no longer tore at the Titan s
liver ; Sisyphus gave up his weary task of rol l in g th e stone
and sat on the rock to listen the Danaides rested from their
labour of dr awing water in a sieve For the rst time the
ch e ck s of the Furies were wet with tears and the restless
shades that came and went in the darkness like dead
autumn leaves driven by a winter gale stood still to ga ze
and listen Before the throne where Pluto and his queen
Proserpine were seated sable clad and stern the relentless
,

'

A B OO K O F MYTHS

36

Fates at the ir feet Orpheus still played on


And to
Proserpine then came the living remembrance of all the
j oy s of her girlhood by the blue ZEgean Sea in the fair
island of Sicily
Again sh e knew the fragrance and the
b eauty of the owers of spring Even into Hades the s cent
o f the violets seemed to come and fresh in her heart was
the sorrow that had been hers on the day o n which the
ruthl ess King of Darkness tore her from her mother and
from all that sh e held most dear Sil ent sh e sat beside
her frow ning stern faced lord but her ey es grew dim
When with a quivering sigh the music stopped
Orpheus fearlessly pled his cause To let him have Eu ry
dice to give him back his more than life to grant that he
might lead her with him up to the light of Heaven
that was his prayer
The eyes of Pluto and Proserpin e did not dare to meet
yet with one accord was their answer given Eurydice
shoul d be given back to h im but onl y on on e condition
Not un til he had reached the light of earth again was he
to tur n round and look upon the face for a sight of which
his e yes were tired with longin g Eagerly Orpheu s com
plied and with a heart almost breakin g with gladness he
heard the call for Eurydice and tu rned to retrace his way
with the li ght footfall of the little feet that he adored
making music behind him Too good a thing it seemed
too u nbelievable a j oy She was therequite close to
him Their days o f happiness were not ended His love
had won her back even from the lan d o f darkness Al l
that he had not told her of that love while yet sh e was on
earth he woul d tell her now All th at he had failed in
.

O RPHEUS

37

before he woul d make perfect now The little limping


foot how it made his soul overow w ith adoring tender
ness So near sh e was he might even touch her were he
to stretch back his han d
And then there came to him a hideous doubt What
if Pluto had played him false
What if there followe d
him n ot Eurydice but a mockin g shade
As he climbed
the steep ascent that led upwards to the light his fear grew
more cruelly real Al most he could imagine that her
footsteps had stopped that w hen he reached the light he
would nd himself left once more to his cruel loneliness
So nearly there
Too overwhelming for him was the doubt
they were that the darkness was no longer that of night
but as that of evening when the long shadows fall upon
the land and there seemed no reason for O rpheus to wait
S w iftly he turned and found his wife behind him but
onl y for a moment sh e stayed
Her arms were thrown
open and Orpheus would fain have grasped her in his
but before they could touch each other Eurydice
ow n
was borne from him back into the darkness

Farewell ! sh e said
Farewell ! and her voi ce
was a sigh of hopeless grief In mad desperation O rpheu s
sought to follow her but his attempt was vain At the
brink of the dark erce oode d Acheron the boat with its
boatman ol d Charon lay ready to ferry across to the
further shore those whose future lay in the land of Shade s
To him ran O rpheus in clamorous anx iety to undo the
evil he had wrought
But Charon angrily repul se d
him There was no place for such as O rpheus in his
ferry boat Those only who went never to return could
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

38

nd a passage there For seven long day s and seven


longer nights O rpheus waited beside the river hoping
that Charon would relent but at last ho pe died and he
sought the depths of the forests of Thra c e where trees
and ro cks and beasts and birds were all his friends
H e took his ly re again then and play ed
S ch trai
w uld hav w th
O f Pl ut t hav q it t fr
M I T ON
H i ha l f r gai d E ryd i c
.

n s as

o,

e se

e e ar

ee

ne

on

Day and night he stayed in the shadow of the wood


lands all the sorrow of his heart exp re ss m g i tself in
the song of his lute The ercest beasts of the forest
c rawled to his feet and looked up at him with e y es full
The song of the birds ceased and when the
of pity
wind moaned through the tre es the y e choed his cry

E urydice ! Eurydice !
In the dawn ing hours it would seem to him that he
a thing of mist and rising su n
saw her again itting
a cross the dimness of the woods
And when evening
came and all things rested and the night c alled ou t
the my stery of the forest again he would see her
In the long blue shadows of the trees she woul d stand
u p the woodl and paths sh e walk ed where her little
feet uttered the dry leaves as sh e passed
Her face
was white as a lily in the moonlight and ever sh e held
ou t her arms to Orp h e
A t that l m i ta d I tra c
D i mly th y
d l av ta k i g fa c
E ryd i c
E ryd i c
Th tr m l
l av r p at t m
L O W E
E uryd i c
E ryd i c
,

V s

sa

s en

e,

e-

e,

u ou s

es

LL

SW I F T Y
L

HE

U RN D A N D
E

FO U N D

H IS

IF

BE H I N D

H IM

O RPHEUS

39

O rpheus it was a good day when Jason c hief of


the Argonauts sought him ou t to bid him come with the
other heroes and aid in the quest of the Golden Fleece
Have I n ot ha d enough of t oi l and of weary wander

ing far an d wi d e sighe d O rpheu s


In vain is the
sk ill of the voi c e whi ch my go dd e ss mother gave me ;
in vain have I sung and laboured ; in vain I went down
to the dead and c harmed all the kin g s of H ades to win
back Eurydi c e m y bri d e For I w on her my be loved
and lost her a g ain the s ame day and wandered away
in my madness even to E gy p t and the Libyan sands
and the isle s of all the s eas
Whi l e I c harmed in
vain the hearts of men and the s ava g e fore s t bea st s
an d the trees and the l ifeless stones with my mag i c

harp and song giving rest but nding none


B ut in the good ship Argo O rpheus took his p l a c e
with the others and sail ed the watery ways and the
songs that O rpheu s sang to his shipmates and that tell
of all their great adventure s are c all e d the S ong s of
O rpheus or the O rphies to this day
Many were the mishaps and disasters that hi s mu sic
warded off With it he lulled monsters to sleep ; more
powerful to work magi c on the hearts of men were his
mel odies then were the songs of the sirens when they tried
to c aptu re the Argonauts by their wiles and in their
downward destroying rush his musi c checked mou ntains
When the quest of the Argonauts was ended O rpheus
returned to his ow n l and of Thra c e
As a hero he had
fought an d en du red hardship but hi s wounde d soul
Ki g l y
For

s e

A B OO K O F MYTHS

40

remained unhealed Again the trees listened to the


songs o f longing Again they echoe d
Eury dice !
Eury dice
As he sat on e day near a river in the stilln ess of the
forest there came from afar an ugly clamour of sound
It struck against the music of O rpheus lute and slew
it as the coarse cries o f the screaming gulls that ght
for carrion slay the song of a soaring lark It was the
day of the feast of Bacchus and through the woods
poured Bacchus and his Ba cchantes a shameless rout
satyrs capering around them centaurs neighing aloud
Long had the Bacchantes hated the loyal poet lover of
o n e fair woman whose dwelling was with the Sha d es
His ears were ever deaf to their passionate voices his
ey es blind to their passionate loveliness as they dan c ed
through the green trees a riot of colour of erce beauty
Mad they were indeed
o f laughter and o f mad song
this day and in their madness the very existence of
O rpheus was a thing not to be borne At rst the y
stoned him but his music made the stones fal l harmless
at his feet
Then in a frenzy o f cruelty with the
maniac lust to cause blood to ow to know the j oy o f
taking life they threw themselves upon O rpheus an d
did him to death From limb to limb they tore him
casting at last his head and his blood stained lyre into
the river An d still as the water bore them on the
lyre murmured its last music and the white lips o f
O rpheus still breathed o f her whom at last he had gone
to j oin in the shadowy land
Eury dice Eurydice
Combien d au tre s sont m orts de m eme ! C est l a
.

O RPHEUS

41

lutte ternelle de la force brutale contre l in tel l igen ce


douce et sublime inspir e du ciel dont 1e royaume n est

p as de cc monde
In the heavens as a bright c onstellation called
Lyra or O rpheus the gods placed his lute and to the
place o f his martyrdom c ame the Muses and with loving
care carried the fragments of the massacred body to
L ib etl era at the foot of Mount O ly mpus and there buried
them And there unto this day more sweetly than at
any other spot in any other land the nightingale sings
For it sings of a love that knows no ending of life
after death of a love so strong that it c an conquer even
Death the all powerful

AP O LL O AND DAPHNE
CO N Q UE R O R of all conquerable earth y et not always vi c
toriou s over the heart o f a maid was the golden locked
Apollo
As mischievous Eros play ed on e d ay with his bow
and arrows Apollo beheld him and spoke to hi m m oc k
,

in gl y

What hast thou to do with the weapon s of war


sau cy lad
he said
Leave them for hands such as
mine that know full well how to wield them Content
thy self with thy torch and kindle ames if indeed thou
canst but such bolts as thy white y oung arms c an

drive will surely not bring scathe to god nor to man


Then did the son of Aphrodite answer and a s he
made answer he laughed aloud in his glee
With
thine arrows thou may st strike all things else great
Ap oll o a shaft o f mine shall surely strike thy heart
Carefully then did Eros choose two arrows from his
quiver O ne sharp pointed and of gold he tted care
full y to his bow drew back the string until it was taut
and then let y the arrow that did not miss its mark
but ew straight to the heart of the su n god
With
the other arrow blunt and tipped with lead he smote
the beautiful Daphne daughter of Peneus the river god
An d then full j oy ou sly d i th e boy god l augh for his
,

d
2

AP OLL O AND DAPHNE

43

rogu ish heart knew well that to him who was struck by
the golden shaft must come the last pangs that have
proved many a man s and many a god s undoing while
that leaden tipped arrow meant to whomsoever it struck
a hatred of Love and an immunity from all the heart
weakness that Love c an bring Those were the day s
when Apollo was y oung Never before had he l oved
But as the rst erce storm that assails it bends the
y oung supple tree with its green budding l eaves before
its furious blast so did the rst love of Apollo bend low
his adoring heart All day as he held the golden rein s
of his chariot until evening when its ery wheels were
cooled in the waters of the western seas he thought of
Daphne Al l night he dreamed of her But never did
there come to Daphne a time when sh e loved Love for
Love s sake
Never did sh e look with gentle ey e on
the golden haired god whose fa c e was as th e fa c e of all
the exquisite things that the sunlight shows remem
bered in a dream
Her onl y passion was a passion for
the chase One of Diana s nymphs was sh e cold and
pure an d white in soul as the virgin goddess herself
There came a day when Apollo could no longer put
curbin g hands on his erce longin g The ames from
his chariot still lingered in reected glories o n sea a nd
hill and sky The very leaves of the budding trees of
spring were outlined in gold
And through the dim
wood walked Daphne ere ct and lithe and living as a
sapling in the early spring
With beseeching hands Apollo followed her A
god was he yet to him had come the vast humility of

A B OO K O F MYTHS

44

passionate intercession for the gift o f love to a littl e


ny mph She heard his steps behind her and turned
round proud and angry that on e shou ld follow her
when sh e had not willed it

Stay ! he said daughter of P eneus No foe am


I but thine own h umble lover To thee alone do I bow
my head To all others on earth am I c onqueror and

king
B ut Daphne hating his words of pas sionate l ove s p ed
And when his passion lent w ings to his feet and sh e
on
heard him gaining on her as sh e ed not a s a lover did
Daphn e look on deathless Apollo but as a hateful foe
More swiftly than sh e had ever run be s ide her mistress
Diana l eaving the ying winds behin d her as sh e sped
ran Daphne now But ever did Apollo gain upon her
and almost had he gras p ed her when sh e rea ched the
green banks of the river of which her father P eneus was
god
H elp me Peneus ! sh e cried
Save me oh my
father from him whose love I fear
As sh e s poke the arms of Apollo seized her y et
e ven as his arms met around her waist
lissome and
slight as a y oung willow Daphne th e ny mph was Daphne
the ny mph no longer Her fragrant hair her soft white
arms her tender body all changed as the su n god
tou ched them
Her feet took root in the soft damp
earth b y the river Her arm s sprouted into woody
branches and green leaves Her face vanished and the
bark of a big tree en closed her snow white bod y Yet
Apollo did not take away his embrace from her w h o had
.

AP O LL O AND DAPHNE

45

been his dear rst love He knew that her cry to Peneus
her father had been answered y et he said
Since thou
canst not be my bride at least thou shalt be my tree ;
my hair my lyre my quiver shall have thee alway s oh
laurel tree of the Immor tals !
So do we still speak of laurels won and worn b y those
of deathless fame and still does the rst love o f Apollo
crown the heads of those whose gifts have tted them
to d we ll with the dwe llers on O ly mpus
.

I p
th f my tr
f h
r dr w ;
B th
th p ri
h
t
d
t
p
m
c
r
w
Th d ath l
p
Th u ha l t th R m a f tival a d r
A d aft r p t b b y vi c t r w
O I D (D wdm
ou se

es

ze o

ou

e ss

oe

o e s,

on o u

an
n

ee

an

es

ee

or

en o

oe
s

o s

o n,

orn

'

l ra ns l a tion )

PS YC H E
T H O S E who read for the rst time the story o f Psy che
must at on c e be stru ck b y its kinship to the fairy
tales of childhood Here we have the three sisters the
two elder jeal ous and spiteful the y oungest beautiful
and gentle and quite unable to defend herself against
her sisters wicked arts
Here too is the my sterious
bridegroom who is never seen and who is lost to his
bride be c ause of her lack of faith
Truly it is an ol d

older than all fa i ry tales the story of l ove


ol d tale
that is not strong enough to believe and to wait and so
to win through in the end the story of seeds of su s
i
cion so wn b y on e full o f malice in an innocent heart
p
and which bring to the hapless reaper a cruel harvest
O nce upon a time so goes the tale a king and queen
had three beautiful daughters The rst and the second
were fair indeed but the beau ty of the youngest was
such that all the people of the land worshipped it as a
thing sent straight from O ly mpus They awaited her
outside the roy al palace and when sh e came the y
threw chaplets of roses and violets for her little feet to
tread upon and sang hy mn s of praise as though sh e were
no mortal maiden but a daughter of the deathless gods
There were man y who said that the beauty o f
Aphrodite herself was less perfect than the beauty of
P syche and when the godd ss found that men were for
.

PSYCHE

47

saking her altars in order to wors hip a mortal maiden


great was her wrath against them and against the prin
cess w h o all unwittingly had wrought her this shameful
harm
In her garden sitting amongst the owers and idly
watching his mother s fair white doves as the y preene d
their snowy feathers in the su n Aphrodite found her
son E ros and angr ily poured forth to him the story
of her shame
Thine must be the task of avenging thy mother s

honour
she said
Th ou w h o hast the power of
making the l oves of men stab with one of thine arrows
the heart of this presumptuous maiden and shame her
before all other mortals b y making her love a monster

from which all others shrink and which al l d e s pise


With wicked glee Eros heard his mother s c ommands
H is beautiful face still the fa c e of a mischievous boy
lit up with merriment This was in truth a game after
his ow n heart In the garden o f Aphrodite is a fountain
another of bitter water and Eros lled tw o
o f sweet
amber vase s on e from each fountain hung them from
his quiver and
S trai ght h r s fr m e arth d d w th wi d
W t gl i tt ri g twi x t th b l ky d th
,

en

o e

an

ue s

an

e sea

In her chamber Psyche lay fast asleep and swiftly


almost without a glan c e at her Eros sprinkled some of
the bitter drops upon her lips and then with o n e of
his sharpest arrows pricked her snowy breast Like a
child who half awakes in fear and looks up with puzzled
wondering eyes P sy c he with a little moan opened
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

48

ey es that were bluer than the violets in spring and gazed


at Eros He knew that he was invisible and yet her
gaze made him tremble
They spoke truth
said the lad to himself
Not

even my mother is as fair as this princess


For a moment her eyelids quivered and then dropped
Her long dark lashes fell on her cheeks that were pink as
the hearts of the fragile S hells that the waves toss up on
western beaches her red mouth curved like the bow of
Eros smiled happily and Psy che slept again With
hea rt that beat as it had never beaten before E ros
gazed upon her perfect loveliness With gentle pity ing
nger he wiped away the red drop where his arrow had
wounded her and then stooped and touched her lips with
his own so lightly that Psyche in her dreams thought
that they had been brushed by a b u ttery s wings Yet
in her sleep sh e moved and Eros starting back pricked
himself with on e of his arrows And with that prick
for Eros there passed away all the careless ease of the
heart of a boy and he knew that he loved Psyche with
the unquenchable love of a deathless god Now with
bitter regre t all his desire was to undo the wron g he
had done to the on e that he loved Speedily he sprin kled
her with the S weet water that brings j oy and when
Psy che rose from her couch she was radiant with the
beauty that comes from a new undreamed of happiness
F r m pla c t pl a c L v f ll w d h that d ay
h gr w
A d v r fair r t h i y
fr m h b w r h w
S that at l a t wh
d r
ath h i f t th m l it
A d
W t s h p h r d i g h i wav d i r d r ly
,

en

un

s e

en

e ne

ee

es s

er

er

o on

es

so

se a

PSYCHE

49

w r that f a ll g d d m
S h u ld h ld h i h i arm b t h a l
That h h ld d w ll with h im i gl ri wi
L i k t a g dd
i
m para d i
h w ld g t fr m Fath r J v thi g
Y
T h at h h l d ve r d i b t h w t fa c
d r
A d w d rfu l fair b d y h l d
f th m
Till th f d ati
ti
r
th
tt r ly
W r m lt
;
D id h f r g t h i m th r c r l ty
W I I A M M ORR IS
He

o e

er

e s

e a,

on

e ss

ou

e n , n o on e

so

on s o

e,

ou

e se a
o

ou s

se

en

ra c e

ee

u e

ou n a n s su

so u
s

er s

se

en i n

on e

ne

ou

s an

oun

e e

ou

e s

ue

LL

Meantime it came to be known all over that land


and in other lands to which the fame of the fair Psyche
had spread that the mighty goddess Aphrodite had
de clared herself the enemy of the princess Therefore
none dared s eek her in marriage and although many a
noble y outh sighed away his heart for love of her sh e
remained in her father s palace like an exquisite rose
whose thorns make those who fain would have it
for their o w n fear to pluck it from the parent stem
Her sisters married and her father marvelled why so
stran ge a thing shoul d come about and why the most
beautiful by far of his three daughters should remain
unwed
At length laden with roy al gifts an embassy was
sent b y the king to the oracle o f Apollo to inquire what
might be the will of the dwellers on O ly mpus concerning
his fairest daughter In a horror o f anxiety the king
and his queen and Psyche awaited the return of the
ambassadors And when they returned before ever a
word was spoken the y knew that the or cle had spoken
Psyche s doom

said the
N o mortal lover shall fair Psy che know
,

A B OO K OF MYTHS

50

ora cl e
For bridegroom sh e shall have a monster
that neither man n or god can resist On the mountain
top he awaits her coming Woe unutterable shall come
to the king and to all the dweller s in his land if he dares
to resist the unalterable dictum of the d eathl e ss gods
O f d a d c rp
hal t th u b th k i g
A d tu m b l i g thr g h th d ar k l a d ha l t th
g
H w l i g f c d d ath t d th y w W I I A M M ORR I S
.

or s e

on

ou

se s s

o en

oe .

ou

o,

LL

O nly for a little while did the wretched k in g strive


And in her o wn chamber
to resist the de c rees of fate
where so short a time before the l ittle prin c ess had
known the j oy of something inexpressible something
most exquisite intangible u nknown she sat lik e a
ower broken b y the ruthless storm sobbing p itifully
dry eyed with s obs that straine d her soul for the
shameful hideous fate that the gods had dealt her
Al l night until her worn out body c ould no longer
feel her worn ou t mind think and kind sleep c ame to
bring her oblivion P sy c he faced the horror for the sake
o f her father and of his people that sh e knew she could
not avoid When m ornin g c ame her handmaids white
faced and red ey ed c ame to dec k her in all the bridal
magnicen c e that b ette d the most beautiful daughter
and when sh e was dres s ed right royall y and
o f a king
as became a bride there started up the moun tain a
procession at sight of which the gods themselves must
have wept With bowed heads the k ing and queen
wal ked before the l itter upon which lay their daughter
in her marriage veil of saffron colour w ith rose wreath
White white were the face s o f the
o n her golden hair
.

PSYCHE

51

maidens who bore the torches and y et rose red were


they b y the side of Psy che Minstrels played wedding
hymn s as they mar ched onwards a n d it seemed as though
the souls of unh appy shades sobbed through the reeds
an d m oaned through the strings as the y played
At length they reached the rocky place where they
knew they must leave the victim bride and her father
dare d not meet her eyes as he turned his head to go
Yet P syche watched the procession wending its way
d ownhill N O more tears had sh e to shed and it seemed
to her that what sh e saw was not a wedding throng but
an assemb l y o f broken hearted people who went back
to their homes with heavy feet after bury ing on e that
they l oved She saw no S ign of the monster w h o was to
be her bridegroom yet at every little sound her heart
grew si ck with horror and when the night wind swept
through the craggy peaks an d its moans were echoed l n
loneliness she fell on her fa c e m deadly fear an d l ay on
the c old ro ck in a swoon
Yet had P sy che known it the wind w as her friend
For Eros had u s ed Zephy rus as his trusty messenger
and sent him to the mountain top to nd the bride of

him whom neither man nor god could resist Tenderly


very tenderly h e was told must he lift her in his
arms and bear her to the golden palace in that green
and pleasant l and where Eros had his home So with
all the gentleness of a loving nurse to a tired little child
Zephy rus lifted Psy che and sped with her in his strong
arms to the owery meadows behind which towered the
golden pala c e of Eros like the su n behind a sky of green
,

A B OOK OF MYTH S

52

and amber and blue and rose Deeply in the weariness


Psyche slept and when sh e awoke it was
o f her grief
to start up with the chill hands of the rea lisation of
terrible actualities on her heart But when her e y e s
looked round to nd the barren rocks the utter forsak en
ness the comin g of an unnameable horror before her
she saw only fair groves with trees bedecked with fruit
and blossom fragrant meadows owers whose beauty
made her eyes grow glad And from the trees sang
bir d s with song more sweet than any that P syche had
ever known and with brilliant plumage which they
p reened c aressingly when the y had dipped their wings
in cry stal sparkling fountains There too stoo d a
noble palace golden fronted and with arcades of stain
l ess marble that shone like snow in the su n At rst
all seemed like part of a dream from which sh e dreaded
to awake but soon there came to her the oy o f knowing
that al l the exquisite things that made appeal to her
senses were indeed realities Almost holding her breath
she walked forward to the open golden doors
It is a

trap sh e thought
By this means does the monster

subtly mean to lure me into his golden cage


Yet
even as she thought there seemed to be hovering round
her winged words like little golden birds with souls
And in her ears the y whispered
Fear not
Doubt not
Recall the half formed dreams that so short a time ago
brought to thy heart such unutterable j oy No evil
shall c ome to theeonly the bliss of l oving and o f being

loved
Th us did Psyche l ose her fear and enter the golden
.

TH

US

D ID

P S YC H E

O SE

HE R

F E AR

AN D N T
E

ER

TH E

OL D E N

D OORS

PSYCHE

53

d oors And inside the palace sh e found that a l l the


beautiful things of which sh e had ever dreamed all the
perfe ct things for which She had ever longed were there
to greet her From o n e to another sh e itted lik e a
humming bir d that sucks honey from on e and then
from another gorgeous ower And then when sh e wa s
tired with so much wearing ou t of her thankful mind
sh e foun d a banquet ready spread for her with all the
dainties that her dainty soul liked best ; and as
musi c so perfect rej oiced her ears that all her
sh e ate
soul wa s soothed and j oy ous and at peace When sh e
had refre shed herself a soft couch stood before
her read y for her there to repose and when that
strange day had come to an end Psyche knew that
monster or not sh e was beloved b y on e who ha d
thought for her ever y thought and who desired only
her desire
Night came at last and when a l l was dark and still
and Psyche wide awake was full of forebodings and fears
lest her happy dreams might only be misleading fan cies
and Horror incarnate might come to crown her pea c eful
day Eros softly entered the palace that Wa s his own
Even as he had gone to the palace o f her father he went
now and found Psyc he lying with violet eyes that
stared in to the velvety darkness seeking something
that sh e hoped for trembling before somethin g that
brought her drea d
His voi c e was as the voice of spring when it breathes
on the sleeping earth ;
he knew each note in Love s
music every word in the great thing that is Love s
.

A B OOK O F MYTHS

54

vocabulary Love loved and P sy che listened and soon


sh e knew that her lover was Love himself
Thu s for Psy che did a time of perfe ct happiness
begin Al l through the day she roamed in her Love s
d ominion and saw on every side the signs of his passion
and of his tenderness All through the night he stayed
b y her and satised all the l onging of her heart Yet
alway s ere daybreak Eros left her and when she begged
him to stay he only made answer
,

I a m with th
ly whi l I k p
My vi a g h i dd ; d if th u c h ld t
My fa c I m t f r ak th ; th hi g h g d
L i k L v with F aith
d h with d raw hi m l f
Fr m th f l l gaz f k wl dg
L E W I S M ORR IS
e e on

en

us

e,

an

o s

on

ee

an

e s

ou

se e

se

e o

ee

no

So did time glide past for Psy che and ever sh e grew
more in love with Love ; alway s did her happiness b e
come more c omplete Yet ever and again there
returned to her the remembrance of those sorrowful day s
when her father and mother had broken their hearts
over her marty rdom and her sisters had looked askance
at her a s at on e who se punishment must assuredly
have c ome from her o w n misdoing Thus at length sh e
asked Eros to grant her for love s sake a boonto
permit her to have her sisters come to see for them
selves the happiness that was hers Most unwillin gl y
was her request granted for the heart of Eros told him
that from their visit no good could come Yet he was
unable to deny an ything to Psyche and on the follow
ing day Zephyrus was sent to bring the two s isters to
the pleasant valle y where P sy che had her home
,

P SYCHE

55

Eagerly as sh e awaited them Psyche thought sh e


might make the prin c ely palace wherein sh e dwelt y et
fairer than it wa s
And almost ere sh e could think
her thoughts be c ame realities When the tw o sisters
c ame they were bewil dered with the beauty and the
magnicen c e of it all Beside this their ow n posses
sions were p altry tries in d ee d Quickly in their little
hearts black envy grew They had alway s been j eal ous of
their y ounger sister and now that they found her whom
all the world be l ieved to have been slain by a horrible
monster more beautiful than ever de cked w ith rare
j ewels ra d iant in her happiness and queen of a pala c e
t for the gods their envy soon turned to hatred and
they s ought how best to wreak their m alice upon th e
j oy ous c reature who loaded them with price less gift s
They began to p ly P sy che with question s He who wa s
her l ord to whom sh e owed all her happine ss where wa s
he
Why d i d he stay away when her sisters c ame to be
presented to him ! Wh at manner of man wa s he
Was he fair or dark ! Young or ol d ! And a s they
questione d her P sy che grew like a bewildered child
and answere d in frightened words that c ontradicte d on e
another And well the wicked sisters who broo d ed evil
in their heart s knew that this husband whom P sy che
had never seen must indeed be on e of the deathle ss gods
Wily words they spoke to her then

Alas ! unhapp y on e the y said


dost think to
escape the evil fate the gods meted ou t for thee ! Thy
husband is none other than the monster of which the
oracl e spake ! O h foolish Psyche ! canst not understand
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

56

that the monster fears the light


Too great horror would
it mean for thee to s ee the loathsome thing that comes in

the blackness o f night and speaks to thee words of love


White lipped and trembling Psyche listened Drop
by drop the poisonous words passed into her soul She

had thought him king o f all living things worthy to


rule over gods as well as men She was so sure that his
body was worth y sheath for the heart she knew so
wel l
She had pictured him beautiful as Eros

n
so
of Aphrodite
young and fair with crisp golden
locks a husband to glory in a lover to adore And
now sh e knew with shame and dread that he who had
w on her l ove between the twilight and the dawn was a
thing to shame her a monster to be shunned of men
piteously sh e asked of
Wh at then shall I do
her sisters And the wome n pitil essly and Well c on
tent answered
Provide thy self with a l amp and a knife sharp
enough to sl ay th e man or monster And when th is
creature to whom to th y undying shame thou b e
longest sleeps sound slip from thy couch and in the
ray s of the lamp have c ourage to look upon him in al l
Then when thou hast seen for thy self that
h is horror
what we s ay is truth with thy knife swiftly slay him
Thus shalt thou free thy self from the pitiless doom

meted ou t by the gods


Shaking with sobs Psyche made answer :

I love him so !
I love him so !
A nd her sisters turned upon her with furious s corn
and well simulated wrath
.

P SYCHE

57

Shameless on e !
they cried ;
and does ou r
father s daughter confess to a thing so unutterab l e !
Only by slay ing the monster canst thou hope to regain

thy place amongst the daughters of men


They left her when eve ning fell carrying with them
their roy al gifts And while sh e awaited the c oming of
her lord Psyche provided with knife and lamp crouched
with her head in her hands a lily broken b y a cruel storm
S o glad was Eros to come back to her to nd her safely

there for greatly had he feared the coming of that


treacherous pair that h e did not note her silence N or
did the dark night show him that her ey es in her sad
face looked like violets in a snow wreath He wanted
only to hold her safely in his arms and there sh e lay
passive and still until S leep came to lay upon him an
omnipotent hand Then very gently S he withdrew
herself from his embrace and stole to the place where
her lamp was hidden Her limbs shook under her as
her
sh e brought it to the couch where he lay asleep ;
arm trembled as sh e held it aloft
As a marty r walks to death so did sh e walk An d
when the y ellow light fell upon the form of him who lay
there stil l sh e gazed steadily
And 10 before her sh e saw the form of him w h o had
ever been the ideal o f her dreams L ove himself in
carnate Love perfect in beauty and in all else was he
whom her sisters had told her was a monster h e of
whom the oracle had said that neither gods nor men
could resist him For a moment of perfect happiness
sh e gazed upon h is beauty
Then he turned in h is
4

A B O O K O F MYTHS

58

sleep and smiled and stretched ou t his arms to nd


the on e of his love And Psyche starte d and starting
shook the lamp ; and from it fell a drop of burning oil
o n the white shoulder of Eros
At once he awoke an d
with piteous pitying ey es looked in those of Psy che
And when he spoke his words were l ike daggers that
pier c ed deep into her soul He told her all that had
been all that might have been Had sh e only had
faith and patience to wait an immortal life shoul d have
b een hers
Far w ll ! th gh I a g d
v rk w
H w th
c a t l th y p ai y t tim W i l l g
O v r thi h a d d th m ay t m i gl y t
d th
w t
q it f r g t
Th b i tt r
q i t r m m b r till th thi g ha l l m
N
Th e wav ri g m m ry f a l v ly d r a m W I I A M M ORR IS
,

ou

ou

ns

o se

ne

an

or

an

can n e

ou

ee

e se

no

n or

n,

e s

s s

se e

LL

H e l eft her alone then with h er despair and as the


slow hour s dragged b y Psy che as sh e awaited the
dawn felt that in her heart no sun c ould ever rise again
When day came at last sh e felt sh e could no longer
endure to stay in the palace where everything spoke to
her of the in nite tenderness of a lost love Through
the night a storm had raged and even with the day
there c ame no calm And Psyche weary and chill
wandered away from the place of her happiness on
ward and ever on until sh e stood on the bank of a
swift ow in g river For a little sh e stayed her steps
and listened to the sound o f its wash against the rocks
and tree roots as it hurried past and to her as sh e waited
came the thought that here had sh e found a me ans by
which to end her woe
,

PSYCHE

59

sh e
I have lost my Love
moaned
What
is Life to m e any longer ! Come to me then 0
Death
S o then sh e sprang into the wan water hoping that
very swiftly it might bear her grief worn soul down to
the shades But the river bore her up and carried her
to its shallows in a fair meadow where Pan himself sat
on the bank and merrily dabbled his feet in the owing
water And when Psy che shamed and wet looked at
him with sad ey es the god spoke to her gently and
chid her for her folly She was too y oung and much too
fair to try to end her life so rudely he said The river
gods would never be so unk ind as to drive so beautiful
a maiden in rough haste down to the Cocytus valley
Thou must dree thy weird like all other daughters of

men fair Psy che he said


H e or sh e who fain woul d
lose their lives are ever held longest in life O nl y when

the gods wil l it shall th y day s on earth be done


And P sy che knowing that in truth the gods had
spared her to endure more sorrow looked in his fa c e
with a very piteous gaze and wandered on As sh e
wandered sh e found that her feet had l ed her near the
plac e where her two sisters dwelt

I Shall tell them of the evil they have wrought


sh e
thought
Surely they must sorrow when they
know that by their cruel words the y stole my faith from

me and robbed me of my Love and of my happine ss


Gladly the two women saw the stricken form of
Psy che and looked at her face all marred b y grief
Wel l indeed had their plot su cceeded ; their mal ice
.

A BOO K O F MYTHS

60

had drunk deep yet deeper still they dran k for with
sco m ful laughter they drove her from their palace doors
Ve ry quickly when sh e had gone the elder sought the
p l ace where sh e had stood when Zeph yrus bore her in
safety to that p alace o f p l easure where Psyche dwe lt
with her Love Now that Psy che was no longer there
surely the god b y whom sh e had been beloved woul d
gla dl y have as her suc c essor the beautiful woman w h o
wa s now much more fair than the white fa c ed girl w ith
ey es all red with weeping And su ch certainty d i d the
vengeful gods put in her heart that she he ld out her
arms an d calling al oud :
Bear me to him in thine arms Zephy rus ! B ehold

I c ome my l ord !
she sprang from the high c l iff o n
which sh e stood into space An d the ravens that night
feasted on her shattered body So also did it befall the
y ounger sister deluded b y the O ly mpians to her own
d e stru ction so that her sin might be avenge d
For many a weary day and night Psyche wandered
ever seeking to nd her Love ever longing to do some
thing b y which to atone for the deed that had been her
undoing From temp l e to temp l e sh e went but no
where did sh e come near him until at length in C yprus
sh e came to the place where Aphrodite herself had her
dwelling And inasmuch as her love had made her very
bold and because sh e no longer feared death nor could
think of pangs more cruel than those that sh e already
knew P sy che sought the presence o f the goddess who
was her enemy and humbly begged her to take her
life away
,

PSYCHE

61

With a ming scorn and anger Aphrodite re c eived her


O th f l h ai d I wi l l t l t th d i
hal t r a p th harv e t t h ha t w
B t th
A d m a y a d ay that wr t ch d l t b m a
Th art my Slav
d
t a d a y ha ll b
m e tti g t k f th
B t I wi ll d
ou

oo

ou s

e s

e , an

ou

ou

ee

no

no

so

so

as

or

ee

There began then for Psy che a time of torturing


misery o f which only those coul d speak who have know
ledge of the merciless stripes with which the goddess
can scourge the hearts of her slaves With cru el iii
e n u ity Aphrodite invented labours for her
g
In uncountable quantity and mingled in inextricable
and bewildering conf usion there lay in the granary of
the go ddess grains of barley and of wheat peas and
m ill et poppy and c oriander seed To sort ou t each
kind and lay them in heaps was the task allotted for on e
day and woe be to her did sh e fail In despair Psyche
began her hopeless labour While the su n shone
through a day that was for her too short sh e strove to
separate the grains but when the shadows of evening
made it hard for her to distinguish on e sort from another
onl y a few very tiny piles were the result of her weary
toil Very soon the goddess would return and Psyche
dared not think what would be the punishment meted
Rapidly the darkness fell but while the
ou t to her
dying light still lingered in some parts of the granary
it seemed to Psyche as though little dark trickles of
water began to pour from underneath the doors and
through the cracks in the wall Trembl ing sh e watched
the c easeless motion of those long dark lines and then
.

A B OO K OF MYTHS

62

in amazement realised that what she saw were unending


processions of ants And as though on e who loved her
directed their labours the millions of busy little toilers
swiftly did for Psy che what sh e herself had failed to do
When at length the y went away in those long dark
lines that looked like the ow of a thread like stream
the grains were all piled up in high heaps and the sa d
heart of P syche knew n ot only thankful relief but had
a thril l of gladness

Eros sent them to me :


she thought
E ven

y et his l ove for me is n ot dead


And w hat sh e thought was true
Am azed and angry Aphrodite looked at the task
s he had deemed impossible well and swiftly performed
That Psy che should possess such magic skill onl y in
c ensed her m ore and ne xt day sh e sai d to her new
sl ave :
B ehold on the other side of that glittering stream
my golden ee ced sheep crop the sweet owers of the
meadow To day must thou cross the river and bring
me back b y evening a sample of wool pulled from ea ch

on e o f their S hining ee c es
Then did Psy che go down to the brink of the river
and even as her white feet splashed into the water sh e
heard a whisper of warning from the reeds that bowed
their heads b y the stream

Beware ! O Psy che


they said
Stay on the
sh ore and rest until the golden e e ce d sheep lie under
the shade of the trees in the evening and the mu rmur

of the river has lulled them to sleep


,

PSYCHE

63

But Psyche said Alas I must do the bidding of the


goddess It will take me many a weary hour to pluck

the wool that sh e requires


And again the reeds murmured
B eware ! for the
g olde n e ece d sheep with their great horns are evil
creatures that lust for the lives o f mortals and will slay
thee even as thy feet reach the other bank Only when
the sun goes down does their vi c e depart from the m
and while they sleep thou canst gather of their wool

from the bushes and from the trunks of the trees


And again the heart of P sy che felt a thrill of happi
ne ss because she knew that she was loved and cared for
still Al l day she rested in the wood b y the river and
dreamt pleasant day dreams and when the sun had set
sh e waded to the further shore and gathered the golden
wool in the way that the reeds had told her When in
the evenin g sh e came to the goddess bearing her shining
load the brow of Aphrodite grew dark
If thou art so skilled in magic that no danger is
danger to thee y et another task shall I give thee that is

worthy of thy skill sh e sai d an d l aid upon P syche her


fresh commands
Si ck with dread Psyche set ou t next morning to see k
the bla ck stream ou t of which Aphrodite had commanded
her to ll a ewer Part of its waters owed into the
Styx part into the Cocytus and well did Psyche know
that a hideous death from the loathly creatures that
prote cted the fountain must be the fate of those who
risked so proud an attempt Yet because sh e knew

that sh e must dree her weird as Pan had said sh e


,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

64

plodded onward towards that dark mountain from


whose side gushed the black water that sh e sought
And then once again there came to her a message of
love A whirring of wings sh e heard and
,

h a d th r w th bir d f J v
Th b ar r
f hi
rva t fri d f L v
Wh wh h
w h
traightway t war d h
w p t d wh h k w
w hy h
A d a k d h
h
h w
ai d C a a l l th y f ar
A d wh
t th
b l a ck wav I th y w r wi ll b ar
F
A d l l it f th
; b t r m mb r m
W h th u art c m u t thy m aj ty
O

er

h er
e

en

e r, s

a s,

e s

ee
o

an

e,

e,

es

or

en

s se

e sa

An d

er

o s

or

e e

en

o,

en

se

ne

ew ,

e,

es

er

y et once again the stricken heart of Psyche was


gladdened and when at nightfall She came with her
ewer full o f water from the dread stream and gave
it to Aphrodite although sh e knew that a yet more
arduous task was sure to follow her fear had all passed
away
With beautiful sullen ey es Aphrodite received her
when sh e brought the water And with black brow
If thou art s o skilled in magic that no
sh e said
danger is known to thee I shall now give thee a task

al l worth y o f th y skill
Thereon she told her that she must see k that dark
valle y where no silver nor golden light ever strikes o n
the black waters of Cocytus and of the Styx ; and where
Pluto reigns in gloomy maj esty over the restless shades
Fr om Prosperine S he was to crave for Aphrodite the
gift o f a box of magical ointment the secret of which
was known to the Queen of Darkness alone and which
was able to bring to those who used it beauty more
,

PSYCHE

65

exquisite than any that the eyes of gods or of men had


as yet l ooked upon

I grow weary an d careworn said Aphrodite and


sh e looked like a rose that has budded in Paradise as sh e
spoke
My son was wounded by a faithless slave in
whom most weakly he put his trust and in tending

to his wound my beauty has faded


And at these s c ornful words the heart of Psy che
leaped within her
In helping his mother I shall help him
sh e

thought An d again sh e thought


I shall atone
And
so when day was c ome sh e took her way along the
weary road that leads to that dark place from when c e
no traveller can ever hope to return and still with
gladness in her heart But as sh e went onward
c ol d
thoughts and dreadful fears came to her
Better were it for me to ha sten my j ourney to the

she thought
shades
And when sh e came to an ol d grey tower that seeme d
like an old man that Death has forgotten sh e resolved to
throw herself down from it and thus swiftly to nd her
self at her j ourne y s end But as sh e stood on the top o f
the tower her arm s outstretched like a white buttery
that poises its wings for ight a voice spoke in her ear

O h foolish one it said


why dost thou strive
to stay the h Op e that is not dead !
And while sh e held
her breath her great ey es w ide open the voice spoke on
and told her by what means sh e might speedily reach
Hades and there nd means to face w ith c ourage the
King of Darkness himself and his fair wife Proserpine
.

A B OOK O F MYTHS

66

Al l that

was bidden to do Psyche did and so


at last did sh e come before the throne of P roserpine
all that sh e saw all that
a n d all that Psyche endured
through which sh e c ame with bleeding heart and y et
with uns c athed soul cannot here be written
To her Proserpine gave the b o x of preciou s ointment
that Aphrodite described and gla dl y sh e hastened home
ward Good indeed it was to her when again sh e
rea ched the fair light of day Yet when She had won
there there c ame to Psyche a winged thought that
beat against the stern b arriers of her min d l ik e a l ittl e
moth against a window

This ointment that I c arry with me said P syche

is an ointment that will bring back to those


to herself
all faded b y time or worn b y suffering a beauty greater

than any beaut y that has j oy ed the Immortals !


An d then sh e thought :

r
Fo my beauty Ero s L ove l oved me ; and now
m y b eauty i s worn an d wasted and well nigh gone
W ere I to open this box and make u se of the ointment
o f P roserpine then indeed I should be fair enough to be
the bride of him who even now believe s that he l oves

me of Eros whose love is my life


S o it c ame to pas s that sh e opened the fateful box
And ou t of it there came not B eauty but Sleep that
put his gyv es u pon her limbs and on her eyelids laid
heavy ngers
An d P syc he sank d own b y the waysi d e
the prisoner of Sleep
But Eros who had loved her ever with a l ove that
knew the ebb and ow of no tides ro s e from his bed and
sh e

PSYCHE

67

went in search of her w h o had braved even the horrors


And by the way side he
of H ades for his dear sake
found her fettered by sleep Her little oval face w as white
as a snowdrop Like V iolets were her heavy eye lid s
and underneath her Sleeping eyes a V iolet shadow l ay
On c e had her mouth been as the bow of Eros painted
in c armine N ow eith er end of the bow was turned
d ownwards an d its c olou r wa s that of a fa de d rose
leaf
And as E ro s look e d at her that he l ove d pity stirred
hi s heart as the wind sweeps through the sighing
grey leave s of the wil low or s ings through th e b owing
ree ds
My B el oved
he s aid and he knew that P sy che
was indeed his beloved It was her fair soul that he
l oved n or did it matter to him whether her b ody
was like a rose in June or as a wind scourged tree in
December An d as his lips met hers P sy che awok e
an d heard his soft whisper
.

ar cl thi
ye s
w
Th m ay t l k m
Ig
m r
f r v r L W I S M O RR I S
B t a m thi
w
De

ou

oo

ne o

on

os e

un

e no

o e

ne e

o no

o e,

Then did there spring from the fair white shoulders


of P sy che
wings of silver and of gold and hand in
hand with Eros sh e winged her way to O lympu s
And there all the deathless gods were assembled
and Aphrodite no longer l ooked upon her w h o had
once been her slave with darkened brows but s miled
upon her as the su n smiles upon a new
born ower And
when into the hand of Psyche there was pla c e d a cup
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

68

gold the voi c e of the great Father and King


O lympus rang o u t loud and clear

of

of

ri k w 0 b a tif l d hav
F
with thi d ra ght ha l t th
v r fre e f m c ar
A d l iv f
D

no

or e

an

or
n

ou

ro

f ar !
b b r a gai
d p ai
WI I AM M ORR I S

e no
e

o n

n,

e an

n.

LL

In this wise did P syc he a human soul attain by bitter


,

suffering to the p erfect happiness of puried love


An d still do we watch the buttery which is her
emb lem bursting from its ugly tomb in the dark soil
and spreading j oyous white and gold powdered wings
in the caressing sunshine amidst the radiance and th e
fragranc e of the summer OWers Still too do we sadl y
wat ch her sister the white moth hee dl essly ru shing
into pangs u nutterable thoughtlessly see king the anguish
that brings her a cruel death
.

THE CALYD ONIAN HUNT


and Alth aea were king and queen of Calydon and
to them was born a s on w h o was his mother s j oy and
y et her bitterest sorrow Meleager was his name and
ere his b irth his mother d reamed a dream that the chil d
that sh e b ore was a bu rning reb ran d But when the
baby c ame he was a royal child indeed a little fearl ess
king from the rst moment that his ey es l ike unseeing
violets gazed steadily up at his mother To the chamber
where he lay b y his mother s s ide c a m e th e three Fate s
spinning ceaselessly spinning

He shall be strong said on e as sh e span her

threa d
He shall be fortunate and brave s aid the
secon d
B ut the third laid a billet o f wood on the
ames an d while her withered ngers held the fatal
threads sh e l ooke d with ol d ol d sad ey es at the new
b orn c hil d

she s aid and to this wood


To thee O N ew Born
that burns do we give the same span of day s to

l ive
Fro m her bed s prang Alth aea and heedless of th e
ames She s eized the burning wood trod on it with her
fair white feet and p oured on it water that swiftly
quenched its red glow
Thou shalt live forever 0

B eloved she said


for never again shall re char th e

brand that I have p lu cked f omthe b urning


(E N E U S

g
g

A B OO K O F MYTH S

70

And the baby laughed

g r y w m with b d hair
Wh fri g ht th g d fri g ht d
t hi m
h e l a gh e d
S i g th m d p h e d t ha d t fe e l a d ha l
d thr a d
D i ta ff

Th

o se

ee n

en

ou n

us

an

no

ou

"

an

sped on and from fearless and beautiful


babyhood Meleager grew into gallant boyhood and
then into magnicent y outh W hen Jason and hi s
heroes sailed away into a distant land to win th e Golden
Flee c e Meleager was on e of the noble band From all
men living he won great praise for his brave deeds and
when the tribes of the north and west made war upon
ZEtol ia he fought against their army and scattered it as
a wind in autumn drives the fallen leaves before it
But his victory brought evil upon him When his father
(En eu s at the end of a fruitful y ear offered sacri c es to
the gods he omitted to honour the goddess Diana by
sacricing to her and to punish his neglect sh e had sent
this destroy ing army When Meleager was victor her
wrath against his father gre w yet more hot and sh e
S ent a wild boar large as the bulls of Epirus and erce
an d s avage to kil l and to devour that it might ravage
and l ay waste the land of Caly don The elds of corn
were tramp led under foot the vineyards laid waste and
th e olive groves wrecked as by a winter hurricane
Fl o ck s and herds were slaughtered by it or driven
hither and thither in wild panic working havoc as they
ed
Many went out to slay it but went onl y to nd
a hideous death
Then did Meleager resolve that he
would ri d the land of thi s mon ster and c alled on al l his
Th e y ears

THE CALYD ONIAN HUNT

71

friends the heroes of Greece to come to his aid Theseus


Jason ; Peleus after
an d hi s friend Pirithous came ;
wards father of A chilles ; Telamon the father of Aj ax ;
Nestor then but a y outh ; Castor and Pollux and Toxeus
and Ple x ippus the brothers of Alth aea the fair queen
mother But there c ame none more fearle s s n or more
ready to ght the monster boar of Calydon than Ata
l anta the daughter of the king of Ar cadia
When
Atalanta was born her father heard of her birth with
H e desired no daughter but only sturdy sons
anger
who might ght for him and in the furious rage of bitter
disappointment he had the bab y princess l eft on the
Parthenian Hill that sh e might perish there A she
bear heard the baby s piteous cries and c arried it off
to its lair where sh e suckled it along with her young
and there the little Atalanta tumbled about and play ed
with her furry companions and grew strong an d vi gorous
as any other wild y oung c reature o f the fore s t
S ome hunters c ame on e day to raid the den and ki ll
the foster mother and fou nd amazed a fearl e s s white
skinned thing with rosy c heeks and brave eye s w h o
fought for her life and bit them as did her erc e foster
brothers and then cried human tears of rage and sorrow
when sh e saw the bear who had been her mother lying
bloody and dead Under the c are of the hunters
Atalanta grew into a maiden with all the beauty of a
maid and all the strength and the courage of a man
She ran as swiftly as Zephyrus runs when he rushes up
from the west and drives the white clouds before him
like a o ck of timid fawns that a hound is pursuin g
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

72

The shafts that her strong arm sped from her bow smote
straight to the heart of the beast that sh e chased and
almost as swift as her arrow was sh e there to drive her
spear into her quarry
When at l ength her father
the king learned that the beautiful huntress of whom
all men spoke a s of on e onl y a l ittle l ower than Diana
was none other than his daughter he was not slow to
So proud was he o f her beauty
o w n her as his child
and gra c e and of her marvellous swiftne s s of foot and skill
in the chase that he wo ul d fain have married her to o n e
but Atalanta ha d consulted
o f the great ones o f Greece

an oracle
Marry not said the ora cl e
To thee

marriage must bring w o e


So with untouched heart and with the daring an d
the c ourage o f a young l ad Atalanta came along with the
heroes to the Calydonian Hunt She was so radiantly
l ovely so young so strong so c ourageous that straight
way Meleager loved her and all the heroes gazed at her
with eyes that adored her b eauty An d Diana looking
d o wn at her also l oved the maiden who m from c hildhood
sh e had held in her p rote ctiona gal lant fearles s virgin
dear to her heart
The grey mist rose from the marshes a s the hunt
began and the hunters of the boar had gone but a
little way when they came upon traces of th e hated
boar Disembowelled beasts marked its track Here
in a owery meadow had it wallowed There in rich
wheat land had it routed and the marks of its bestial
tusks were on the gashed grey trunks of the trees that
had on c e lived in th e pea c e of a fruitful olive grove
,

THE CALYD ONIAN HUNT

73

In a marsh they found their enemy and all the reeds


quivered as it heaved its vast bulk and hove aside the weed
in which it had wallowed and rooted with its tusks
amongst the wounded water lilies before it leapt with a
snort to meet and to slay the men who had c ome against
it A lth y thing it was as its pink snout rose above
the green ooze of the marshes and it l ooked up l u stin gl y
defying the purity of the blue skies of heaven to bring
to those who came against it a cruel shameful death
Upon it rst of all Jason c ast his spear But the
sharp point only touched it and unwounded the boar
rushed on its gross bristly head down to disembowel
if it c oul d the gallant Nestor In the bran ches of a tree
Nestor found safety and Telamon rushed on to destroy
the lthy thin g that would have made c arrion of the sons
A straggling cypress root caught his eeting
of the gods
foot and laid him prone a helpless prey for the rooting
brute His hounds fell before it but ere it could reach
him Atalanta full of vengeful rage the pure angered

against the lthy and cruel let draw her h ow with a


prayer to Diana to guide her shaft aright Into the
boar s smoking ank sped the arrow
,

tri g
Ra g
d p ra g i war d
d th wat ri h air
H i d d th m i t p l m f th
gl r d
M v d
wav whi ch th wi d m v
m r
B ut th b ar h av d hal f t f z
d l im
Hi t
barb d w d
e a k tr m b l i g r u d th
H at f l d ry with i va iv y
A d bri t l i g with i t l rab l hair
Pl g d d th h d c l g d gr
w r s d whit
R dd
d d br k all r u d th m wh r th y ca m
Th e

ss e

an

an

en e

an

an

oo

e ss

es n o

e an

e e

o e.

ee

e,

ou n

es

o e

ou n

e son

ou

en s

es o

en s

o s

dd

an

e u

as a

un

an

su

un

an

ee n
e

an

e.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

74

An d ch ar g i n g with s h e e r t u sk h e d r o v e , an d sm o t e
Hy l e u s ; a n d shar p d e ath c a u g ht h is su dd e n s o u l

An d vio l e n t s e e p sh e d n igh t u p on h is e y e s I
,

SW N U N E

More than ever terrible was the monster now that


O ne after the other the hunters
it was wounded
fell before it s m ad rage and were s ent to the shades
b y a blood y and merciless death
Before its furious charge even the heart of a hero
might have been stricken Yet Meleager lik e a mighty
o ak of the forest that will not sway even a little before
the rush of a storm stood full in its way and met its
onsl aught
Ai m d th l ft i d e hi s w ll ha dl d p ar
Gra p d wh r th h w k tti t h w
d m t
A d with
m i i l w u d th m tr s b ar
R i ght i th hairi t h ll w f h i hi d
U d r th la t rib h r thr u gh b lk d b
D
i
d
d
ply
m
itt
d
t
d
ath
p
Th h av y h rr r W i th hi s ha g i g haft s
d f l l f ri
ly d fr m ra g i g l ips
L ap t

F am d t th lat t wrath f all h i l i f


.

on

ss

no

ee
e

es

an

ou

ee

an

as

e as

e e

no

ou s

an

es

n , an

ou

an

on e ,

o e,

e n , an

ee

on s

es

Great was the shout that rose from those w h o still


l ived when that grim hunt thus came to an end
An d
when with his keen blade Meleager struck o ff the head
even as the quivering throat drew its last agonised
breath l ouder still shouted the men of Gree c e But
not for himself did Meleager despoil the body of his foe
He laid the ugly thing at the feet of Atalanta

This is thy spoil not mine


he said
The
wounding s haft was sped b y thee To thee belong s the

p rai s e
An d Atal anta blushed ro sily an d l aughe d l ow an d
.

CAL YD ONIAN

THE

HUNT

75

gladly n ot only because Diana had heard her prayer


and helped her slay the beast but for happine ss that
Meleager was so noble in his giving
At that the brow s of th e heroes gre w d ark and
angrily on e cried
,

L o,

n ow ,

ha ll t th A r a d ia h t t l ips at
S ay i g a ll w w r d p i l d by t h i
g ir l

no

n s

e e

es

oo

ou

u s,

s on e

Lik e a spark that kindles the dry grass their kindling


anger spread and they rushed against Atalanta seized
the trophy sh e had been given and smote her as though
sh e were but a shameless wanton an d n ot the noble
dau ghter of a king
And because the heart of Me leager was given v ery
wholly to the fair huntress and be c a u s e those whom he
deemed his friends had not only dishonoured her but had
done him a very grievous wrong a great rage seized him
Right and left he smote and they who had been m ost
bitter in their eal ou sy of Atalanta the two brothers of
hi s ow n mother were laid low in death
Tidings of the slaying of the boar had been brought
to Al th aea by swift messengers and she wa s on her way
to the temples bearing gifts to the gods for the vi ctory
when sh e beheld the slow foote d pro cession
of her s on
And when
of tho s e w h o bore the bodies o f the dead
sh e saw the still faces of her two dear brothers qui c kl y
was her j oy turned into mou rning Terrible was her
grief and anger when sh e learned by whose hand they
were slain and her mother s love and pride dried up in
her heart like the clear water of a fountain before the
,

A B O OK O F MYTHS

76

s c orching of a devouring re N O sacrices to the god s


would sh e o ffer but her dead brothers should hav e the
greatest sa cri c e that mother c oul d make to aton e for
the guilt of her son B a ck to the pala c e sh e went and
from its safe hidi n g place d rew ou t the bran d that sh e
ha d res cued from the ames when Meleager the hero
was b ut a babe that made his mother s heart sing for
j oy S he commanded a re to be prepared and four
times as its ames blazed aloft sh e tried to lay the brand
up on the pile Yet four times She drew back and then
at last sh e threw into the reddest of the ashes the charred
brand that for a little sh e held so close to her breast
that it seemed as though sh e fondled her child
A wreath of l eaves as sign of victory was being
p l a c ed on Atal an ta s beautiful head by the adoring
hands of Me l eager w hen his mother gave him his doo m
Through his body there rushed a pang of mortal agony
His blood turned to re and the hand of Death that
smote him was as a hand of molten lead In torture his
gallant spirit passed away uncomplaining loving through
his p ain the maid for whose dear sake he had brought
As the last white ashes in the re
w oe upon himself
c rumbled and fell away into nothingness the soul of
Meleager departed Swiftly through the dark valley hi s
mother s shade followed him for sh e fell upon a sword
and so perished And Diana looking down on the grief
stricken sisters o f Meleager and on the bitter sorrow of
his father had c ompassion on the m and turned them
into birds
S o ended the C alydoni an Hu nt and Atal anta re
.

THE C AL YD ONIAN HUNT


Ar cadia

77

heavy at heart for the evil sh e had


unwittingly And still the Three Fates span
and the winds caught up the cold wood ashe s and
on
blew them a cross the ravaged land that Meleager had
saved and that quickly grew fertile again

turned

to

A T A L A N T A daughter of the k ing of Ar c adia returned


s ad at heart to her own l and O nl y a s c omrades as
thos e against whose skill in the c ha s e she was wont to p it
her ow n skill had she looke d upon men B ut Meleager
the hero w h o loved her and her fair honour more than
l ife itse lf an d whose l ove had made him haste in all hi s
gallant stren gth and y outhful b eauty to the l and of the
Shades wa s on e to tou ch her a s never before had she
been tou che d
Her father proud of her trium ph in
Calydon again b e s ought her to marry on e of her m any
nob l e suitor s
If indeed they l ove m e a s thou s ay e s
said
Atalanta to her father
then mu st they be rea dy to
fa c e for my sak e even the loss of dear life itsel f I shall
be the p rize of him who outrun s me in a foot ra c e B ut

he who tries and fails mu st pay to Death his penalty


Thereafter for many days a strange sight was to be
seen in Ar c adia F or on e after another the suitors came
to race with the m aiden whose face had bewit che d them
though trul y the race was no more fair to him who
ran than woul d be a race with Death N o mortal man
was as eet as Atalanta who had rst ra c ed w ith the
wil d things of the mountains and the forests and w h o
had dared at last to race with the winds and leave even
,

99

78

ATALANTA

79

them behind To her it was all a glorious gam e Her


c onquest was alway s sure and if the y ouths w h o entered
in the contest c ared to risk their lives wh y shoul d they
blame her ! So ea ch day they started throbbing hope
and erc e deter mination to win her in the heart of him

h
o
ran
fading hope an d despairing anger as he saw
w
her skimming ahead of him like a gay
hued buttery
that a tired child pursues in vain And each day a s the
ra c e ende d another man paid the price of his defeat
Daily amongst those w h o looked on stood h er
cousin Milanion H e woul d fain have hated Atalanta
for her ruthlessne ss and her j oyousness as he s aw h is
frien d s d ie for her s ake y et daily her beauty her purity
and her gallant un c ons ciousne s s took a rmer hold u p on
his heart To himself he vowed that he would win
Atal anta but n ot without help from the gods was this
p ossible Therefore h e s ought Ap hrodit e herse lf an d
asked her aid
Milanion was a beautiful y outh and to Aphrodite w h o
loved beauty he pled h is cause as he told her how Ata
lanta had be c ome to him more than life so that he had
c eased to pity the y ouths his friends who had died for
l ove of her The g odde s s s m il ed u pon hi m with gentle
sympathy
In the garden of her temple grew a tree with bran ches
and twigs of gold and leaves as y ellow as the little leave s
of the silver birch when the autumn sun kisses them as
it sets O n this tree grew golden apples and Ap hrodite
plucked three of them and gave them to the y outh w h o
had not feared to ask her to aid him to win the maid he
.

A B OO K OF MYTHS

80

loved H ow he was to use the apples sh e then told


him and well c ontent Mil anion returned home
Next day he spoke to Atalanta

So far has victory been thine Faire st on earth


he s aid but so far have thy little winged white feet had
only the heavy footed laggards to outrun Wilt have me
run a race with thee for assuredly I shall win thee for

my own
And Milanion looked into the eyes of Atalanta with
a smile as gay and fearless as that with whi ch a hero is
wont to look in the eyes o f his fellow
Look for look did the virgin huntress give him
Then her cheeks grew red as though the rosy
n ge re d dawn had touched them an d the dawning o f
love came into her heart
Even Meleager was not quite so goodly a youth as
thi s N ot even Meleager had been so wholly fearless

Thou art tempted b y the deathless gods


sh e
said but her long lashes drooped on her ch e ck as sh e
spoke
I pity you Milanion for when thou dost race
with me the goal is assuredly the meadows of asphodel
near w here sit Pluto and P ersephone on their gloomy

thrones

B ut Mil anion said


I am ready Atalanta Wilt

ra c e with me now !
And steadily he looked in h er
ey es until again they fell a s though at last they had
found a c onqueror
Like two swallows that skim a cross a sun ny sea
lled with the j oyousness of the c oming of spring
Atalanta and Milanion started Scarc ely did their feet
.

S HE

S T OPP D A N D P I C D U P
E

KE

TH E

TRE

AS UR

ATALANTA

81

eem to touch the solid earth and all those who stood
by vowed that now at length was a ra c e indeed a ra c e
worthy for the gods to behold
But as they ran almost abreast so that none c oul d
tell which was the gainer Milanion obey ed the b idding
Never
of Ap hrodite and let fall on e of the golden apples
before had Atalanta dreamed of such a thing an apple
She stopped poised on on e foot as a
of gli stening gold
y in g bird poises for a moment on the wing and picked
up the treasure But Milanion had sp ed several pa c e s
ahea d ere sh e was again abreast of him and even as she
gained on him he dro pp ed the se c ond apple Again
Atalanta was tempted
Again she stopped and again
Milanion shot ahead of her Her breath c ame short
an d fast as on c e more sh e gained the ground that sh e
had lost But y et a third time Milanion threw in her
way on e of the golden illusions of the gods And y et
again Atalanta stooped to pick up the apple of gol d
Then a mighty shout from those w h o wat ched rent
the air and Atalanta half fearful half ashamed yet
wholly happ y found herself running vanquished into
the arms of him who was indeed her conqueror For
not only had Milanion won the ra c e but he had w on
the heart of the virgin huntre s s a heart onc e as cold
and remote as the winter snow on the peak of Mount
Olympus
s

THE

hay that so short a time ago was long lush grass


with fragrant meadow sweet and gold ey ed marguerites
growing amongst it in the green meadow land by the

n
o
river i s
fragrant still though dead and
w dry hay
hidden from the sun s warm rays underneath the dark
wooden rafters of the barn O c c asionally a cat on a
hu nting foray c omes into the barn to look for mice or
to nestle c osil y d own into purring slumber Now and
then a hen c omes furtively tip toeing through the open
d oor and makes for itself a se cret nest in which to lay
the eggs w hi ch it subsequently heralds with such loud
clu cks of proud rej oicm g as to completely undo all its
p revious pre c autions Sometimes children come in pur
su in g cat or hen or merely to tumble each other over
amongst the soft hay which the y leave in chaoti c c on
fusion and when the y have gone away a little more of
the sky c an be seen through the little window in the roof
and through the wooden bars Of the window lower down
Yet whatever other living creatures may come or go by
those windows of the barn and high up on its dark
rafters there is alway s a living c reature working cease
l e ssly working When through the skylight the sun
god drive s a golden sunbeam and a long shaft of dancing
du st atoms p asses from the window to what was on ce a
,

82

ARAC HNE

83

p art of th e early summer s glory the work of the u n


resting toil er is also to be S een for the window is hung
with shimmering gre y tapestries made b y Ara chne th e
spider and from rafter to rafter her threads are su s
pended with inimitable skill
S he was a ny mph once they say the daughter of
Idm on the dy er of Colophon a c ity of Ly dia In all
Lydia there was none who c oul d weave as wove the
b eautiful Ara chne To Wat ch her card the wool of the
white eece d sheep until in her ngers it grew like the
soft c loud s that hang round the hill tops was pleasu re
enough to draw ny mphs from the golden river Pactolus
and from the viney ard s of Tym ol u s An d when sh e
drove her swif t shuttle hither and thither still it was
watch
her
wondrous
s
k
ill
Magical
was
the
t
o
o
j y
growth of the web ne of woof that her darting ng ers
span and y et more magi c al the exqui site devi ces that
For birds and owers and
sh e then w rought upon it
butteries and pi ctures of al l the beautiful th ings on
earth were li m n ed by Arachne an d ol d tale s gre w al ive
again under her c reative needle
To Pallas Athen e goddess of craftsmen c ame tidings
that at Colophon in Ly dia lived a ny mph whose skill
rivalled that of the goddess herself and sh e ever j ealou s
for her ow n honour took on herself the form of a woman
bent with age and leaning on her staff j oined the little
crowd that hung round Ara chne as sh e plied her busy
needle With white arms twined round each other the
eager ny mphs watched the owers spring up under her
ngers even a s owers spring from the grou nd on th e

A B OOK O F MYTHS

84

coming o f Demeter and Athen e was fain to admire whil e


she marvelled at the magic skill of the fair Arachne
Gently sh e spok e to Arach ne and with the p ersu a
sive words o f a W ise old woman warne d her that sh e
must not l et her ambition soar too high Greater than
all skilled craftswomen was the great goddess Athen e
and were Ara chne in impious vanity to dr eam that on e
d ay sh e might equal her that were indeed a crime for
an y god to punish
Glan c ing up for a moment from the picture whose
perfe ct colours grew fast under her slim ngers Arachne
xed sc ornful e y e s on the ol d woman and gave a m erry
,

Didst say equal Athen e ! ol d mother sh e said


In good sooth thy dwelling must be w ith the goat
h er ds in the far off hills and thou art not a dweller in ou r
c ity Else hadst thou not spoken to Ara chne of equa l
l ing the work of Athen e ; excel l ing were the better

w ord
In anger Pallas Athen e m ade answer

Impious on e ! sh e said
to those w h o woul d
m ak e themse lves higher than the gods must ever c ome
woe unutterab l e Take heed what thou say est for

p unishm ent will assuredly be thine


Laughing still Arachne m ade reply
I fear not Athen e nor does my hea rt shake

at the gloomy warning of a foolish ol d crone


And
turning to the ny mphs who hal f afraid listened to
her daring words she said : Fair nymphs who watch
m e day b y day we ll d o y e know that I mak e no i dle
.

ARAC HN E

85

boast My skill is as great as that of Athen e and gre ater


still it shall be Let Athen e try a contest with me if she

dare
Well d o I know who will be the victor
Then Athen e cast off her disguise and before th e
frightened nymphs and the bold Arachne stood the
rad iant goddess with ey es that blazed with anger and
insul ted pride
she s aid and ny mph s and
L o Athen e is c ome !
wo men fell on their knee s before her humbly adoring
Arachne alone was unabashed Her cheeks showed h ow
fast her heart was beating From rosy red to white
went th e c ol our in the m y et in rm l ow voi c e sh e
spok e

I have sp oken truth


she said
Not woman
nor goddess c an do work such as mine Ready am I to
abide b y what I have s aid and if I did boast b y my
b oast I stand If thou wilt deign great goddess to try
thy skill against the skill of the dy er s daughter and dost
prove the vi ctor behol d me gl adly willing to pay the

p enalty
The eye s of Athen e the grey ey ed goddess grew dark
as the sea when a thunder cloud hangs over it and a
mighty storm is c oming Not for on e moment did sh e
delay but took her pla c e b y the side of Arachne O n
the loom they stretched ou t two webs with a ne warp
and made them fast on the beam
,

l y p arate th warp th w f i i e rt d i th m iddl e


with Sharp h uttl whi ch th g r h urry al g d b e i g d raw
withi th warp th e t th t ch d i th m vi g l y trik it B th
d g ir d i g p th ir g ar m t t th ir br a t th y m v
ha te
th e ir k il f l arms th e ir a g e r ss b g ui l i g th e ir fati g
Th e re b th

Th e

s e

se

on ,

e s,

no

ee

an

ne

oo

ns

on

en

an

s e

s s,

ue.

86

B OOK O F MYTH S

p rpl e i s b e i g w v
whi ch i s ubj ct d t th e Tyria braz
v e l d ha d f m i t d i ff r c ; j t th rai b w with
it m i ghty ar c h i w
t t ti t a l g tra c t f ky by m a
f th
ray r c t d by th h w r ; i whi c h th gh a t h a d d i ff r t
r e hi i g y e t th v ry tra iti
l d e s th y s that l k
c ol
p it
Th r to th e pl ia t g l d i m i x e d with th e thr ea ds
O V I D
th e

e ss

ne

an

es o

ou

s ar

n n

o,

e en

ns

on

as

ou

us

on

e e,

on

nu

on

en ,

ns

ou s n

e u

en

e en

oo

Their canvases wrought then did Athen e and Arachne


hasten to cover them with pi cture s such a s no skilled
worker of tapestry ha s ever sin c e dreamed of ae c om
l
i
n
Under
the
ngers
of Athen e grew up pictures
i
h
s
p
g
so real and s o perfect that the Watchers knew not whether
the goddess was indeed c reating life And each pi cture
wa s on e that told of the omnipoten c e of the gods and of
the doom that c ame up on tho se mortals who had dared
in their blasphemous presumption to struggle a s equal s
with the immortal dwellers in Ol y mpu s Ara c hne glan c ed
up from her web and looked with e y es that glowed with
the l ove of b eautiful things at the creations of Athen e
Yet un daunted her ngers still sped on and the goddess
s aw with brow that grew y et more clouded how the
d aughter of Idmon the d y er had chosen for subj ects
the tales that showed the weak nesses of the gods One
after another the l ivin g pictures grew beneath her hand
an d the n y mphs held their breath in mingled fear and
e cstasy at Ar a chne s godlik e sk ill and mo st arrogant
daring
B etween goddess and mortal none coul d have
chosen for the c olour and form and exquisite fancy of
the pi ctures of the d aughter of Zeus were equalled
though not ex c e lled b y those of the daughter of the
d y er of Col ophon
,

ARACHN E

87

Darker and y et more dark grew the eye s of Athen e


as they looked on the magical beauty of the picture s
ea ch on e of which was an insult to the gods What
pi cture had skilful hand ever drawn to c ompare with
that of Europa who
,

rid i g
th
ba ck f th d ivi h l l with
ha d cla sp d th e
d with th
b a t g r at h r
th r c a gh t p h gar m t p urp l
f l d l t it m i ght tra i l d b d r c h d i th b
a i it sp ray
A d h
d p r b wa s b l w
ai l f a hi p
t i th wi d l i k
th
war d M O S C H U S
d l i ght ly v r it waft d th m ai d

on

o n , an

ne

on e

er

en

an

es

ee

er

an

ou

en

o ar s e

en o n

Then at last did the storm break and with her


shuttle the enraged goddess smote the web of Ara chne
and the fair pictures were rent into motley rags and
ribbon s
Fu riously too with her shuttle of boxwood
B efore her rage the ny mphs
sh e s mote
Ar achne
ed back to their golden river and to the vineyards of
Tym ol u s and the women of Colophon in blind terror
rushed away An d Ara chne shamed to the dust k ne w
that life for her was no longer worth posse s sing S he
had aspired in the pride of her splendid genius to a
c ontest with a god and knew now that su c h a c onte st
must ever be vain A c ord hung from the W eaver s
beam and swiftly sh e seized it knotted it round her
white ne ck and would have hanged herself But ere
the life had passed out of her Athen e grasped the c ord
loosened it and spoke Arachne s doom

Live !
O guilty and sha meless on e !
sh e said
For evermore shalt thou l ive and hang as n ow thou and
thy descendants that men may never forget the punish

ment of the blasphemous on e w h o dared to rival a god


,

A BO OK O F MYTH S

88

Even as sh e spoke Arachne s fair form dried up and


withered Her straight limbs grew grey and crooked
and wiry and her white arms were no more An d from
the beam where the beautiful weaver o f Ly dia had been
suspended there hung from a ne grey thread the
cre ature from which to this day there are but few who
do not turn with loathing Yet stil l Ara chne spins and
still is without a compeer
,

wh i ch h va t th m t
I
ft i l k tw y
k il f l l k itti g f
N
a i w av r whi c h hi s w k d th b a t
i d m
k
i ly
I di p
N
a i k il d i w rkma hi p m b t
a i k il d i l p f g i g
N
M i ght i t h ir d iv r c i g v r d ar
W ith thi
curi u tw k t
SPENSE R
a i

Not

n e

n s

or

n e

d am z e l l ,
n

e r,

as

e, or

ou

os

en

n e,

or

n e s

or

so

un

er

n e,

ns

os

n e s

or

e s

s so

es o

un n n
or

s ne

ne,

r n

Thus perhaps does Arachne have her compensations


and in day s that followed long after the twilight o f the
gods did sh e not gain eternal honour in the heart o f
every Scot by the tale of how sh e saved a national hero
Kindly too are her labours for men as sh e slays their
mortal enemies the household ies and when the
peasant practical if not favoured b y ZE scul ap iu s and
Hy geia runs to raid the loom of Arachne in order to
staunch the quick ow in g blood from the cut hand of
her little child much more dear to her heart is Arachne
the spider than the unknown Athen e
,

Al

d f k
p i r be t k
wi g what
f d ivi ati
w ath e r hall fa ll f ft b y w ath r that h a ll fa ll m S p i
w av e hi gh r l w e r A l m u l tit d e f S p i e r i t k e of m u ch
rai B A R T H O L OM E W

in

nne

or

n.

so

or

en s

so

an

nn

no

e s

on,

so

or

AR AC HNE

89

The sun has not long enough shown his face to dry u p
the de w in the garden and behold on the little clipped
tree of boxwood a great marvel
For in and ou t and
all over its twigs and leaves Arachne has woven her
web and on the web the dew has dropped a million
diamond drops And suddenly all the col ours in the
sky are m irrored dazzlingly on the grey tapestry of h er
making Arachne has come to her ow n again
,

IDAS AND MARPESSA


day w hile the sun god drove his chariot in the high
heavens and turned the blue green ZEge an Sea into the
semblance of a blazing shie l d of brass Idas and Marpes sa
soft shades or walked in
sat together in the trees
shado wy valley s where violets and wild parsley grew
and where Apollo rarely deigned to come At eventide
when in royal splendour of purple and crimson and
gold Apollo sought his rest in the western sky Idas and
Marpessa wandered by the seashore watching the little
wavelets softly kissing the pebbles on the bea ch or
climbed to the mountain side from when c e the y c oul d
see the rst glimpse of Diana s silver crescent and the
twin kl ing lights of the Pleiades breaking through the
blue c anopy of the sky While Apollo sought in heaven
and on earth the best means to gratify his imperial whims
Idas for whom all j oy s had come to mean but one
sought ever to be by the side of Marpessa Shadowy
vall ey murmuring sea lonely mountain side or garden
where grew the purple amaranth and where roses of p ink
and amber y ell ow and deepest crimson dropped their
radiant petals on the snowy marble paths all were the
same to Idas Paradise for him were Marpess a by his
side ; without her dreary desert
More beautiful than ar y ower that gre w in the
BY

g
o

ID A S

AND

MAR PE S S A

91

garden was Marpe ssa N0 music that Apollo s lute


c ould make was as sweet in the ears of Idas as her dear
voice Its mu sic was ever new to him a melody to
make his heart more quickly throb New too ever was
her beauty For him it was alway s the rst time that
they met alway s the same fresh ravishment to look in
her ey es And when to Idas came the knowledge that Mar
pe ssa gave him love for l ove he had indeed won happi
ne ss so great as to draw upon him the envy of the gods

The course of true love never did run smooth


and like many and many another father sin ce his day
Evenos the father of Marpes sa was bitterly oppo sed to
a match where the bridegroom wa s rich only in y outh
in health and in love H is beautiful daughter naturally
seemed to him worth y of something much more high
Thus it was an unhapp y day for Marpessa when a s sh e
sat alone by the fountain whi ch d rip ped s l owly down on
the marble basin and dreamed of her l over Idas Apollo
himself led by c aprice noiselessly walked through the
rose bushes whose warm petals dropped at hi s feet as
he pas sed and beheld a m aiden more fair than the
fairest ower that grew The hum of bees the d rip
drip of the fountain these lul led her mind and heart
and soothed her day dream s and Marpessa s red l ips
curved like the b ow of Eros smile d as sh e thought of
Idas the man sh e loved Silently Apollo watched her
This queen of all the roses was not t to be the brid e of
mortal man Marpessa must be his
To Evenos Apollo quickly imparted his desire H e
was n ot u se d to h aving hi s imperial w ishes d enied nor

A B OO K OF MYTHS

92

was Evenos anxious to do so Here indeed was a


mat ch for his daughter No in signicant mortal but
the radiant su n god himself
And to Marpessa he
told what Apollo wished and Marpessa shyly looked
at her ree ction in the pool of the fountain and wondered
if sh e were indeed beautiful enough to win the l ove of
a god
sh e a sk e d her
Am I in truth so wondrou s fair
father
Fair enough to mate with Apollo him se lf !
p rou dl y answered Evenos
And j oyously Marpe ssa replied
Ah then am I

happ y indeed I would be beautiful for my Idas sake !


An angry man was her father There was to be n o
m ore pleasant dally ing with Idas in the shado w y wood
In the rose garden Apollo took hi s
or b y the seashore
place and charmed Marpessa s ears with his musi c
while her e y es c ould not but be charmed by his beauty
The god had no doubts or fears O nly a little time he
would give her for a very little only would he wait and
then undoubtedly this mortal maiden would be his her
heart c onquered as assuredly as the ray s from his chariot
c onquered the ros es whose Warm crimson petals they
strewed at his feet Yet as Marpessa looked and listened
her thoughts were often far away and alway s her heart
was with Ida s When Apollo play ed most exquisitely
to her it seemed that he put her love for Idas into music
When he spoke to her of his love sh e thought Thus

and thus did Idas speak and a sudden memory of the


human l a d s halting words brought to her heart a little
.

ARP SSA SA T A O N
E

BY

TH E

FO U N TAI N

IDAS AND MARPESSA

93

sh of tenderness and made her eyes sparkle s o that

Soon sh e will be mine


Ap ollo gladl y thought
And all this while Idas scheme d and plotted and
planned a way in which he could save his dear on e
from her obdurate father and from the passion of a god
He Went to Neptune told his tale and begged him to
lend him a winged chariot in which he could y away
with Marpessa Neptune good naturedly c onsented and
when Ida s ew up from the seashore on e day like a
great b ird that the tempests have blown inl and Mar
p essa j oy ously Sprang up beside her lover and swiftly
they took ight for a land where in p eace they might
l ive and l ove together No sooner did Evenos realis e
that his dau ghter was gone than in furious anger
against her and her l over he gave chase O ne has
wat che d a hawk in pursuit of a pigeon or a bird of the
moors and seen it a little dark speck at rst gradu a lly
growing larger an d more l arge until at length it domi
swooping down from
n ate d and c onquered its pre y
above like an arrow fro m a b ow to b ring w ith it su dden
u
g

So at rst it seemed that Evenos must conquer Idas


and Marpessa in the wing ed chariot of Ne p tune s lend ing
But onwards Idas drove the chariot ever faster and
faster un til before the ey es of Marpessa the trees of the
forest grew into blurs of blue and brown and the streams
and rivers as they ew past them were streak s of silver
Not until he had reached the river L ycorm as did the
angry father ow n that his pursuit had been in vain
Over the swift owin g strea m ew the chariot driven

A B O O K OF MYTH S

94

b y Idas but Eveno s knew that his hors e s e cke d with


white foam pumping each breath from hearts that were
strained to breakin g p oint no longer c oul d go on with
the chase The passage of that deep stream woul d
d estroy them The erce water woul d sweep the wearie d
beasts down in its impelling current and he with the m
A shamed man would he be forever Not for a moment
d i d he hesitate but drew hi s sharp sword from his belt
an d plunged it into the breast of on e steed and then of
the other who had been so willin g and who y et had
failed him in the end An d then as they still in their
tra c es neighed shrilly aloud and then fel l over an d died
where the y l ay Evenos with a great cry leaped into the
river O ver his head clo sed the eddies of the peat brown
Water O n c e only did he throw up his arms to ask the
god s for mercy ; then did his body drift down with the
stream and his soul hastened down wards to the S hades
An d from that day the river L y corm a s no more was
k nown b y that name but wa s called the river E ven os
forever
O nwards triumphantly dr ove Idas but s oon he
knew that a greater than Evenos had entered in the
chase and that the j ealous su n god s chariot was in
pursuit o f the winged car of Neptune Qui ckly it gained

l
n
soon it wou d have swept down o him a
on him
hawk indeed this time striking surely its helples s prey
but even as Apollo s aw the white face of Marpessa and
knew that he was the victor a mighty thunderbolt that
made the mountains shake and rolled it s echoe s through
the l onely fastnes ses of a thousand hills wa s s ent to
,

ID AS AND MAR PE SSA

95

earth by Ju p iter While the echoes still re e choe d there


came from O ly mpu s the voi c e of Zeus himself
he said
L et her decide
Apollo like a white ame blown ba ckward by the
w ind withhel d his hands that would have s eized from
Idas the woman who was his heart s desire
And then he spoke and while his burning gaze was
xed upon her and his face in beautiful fury was more
perfect than any exquisite pi cture of her dreams his
voi ce was as the voice of the sea as it calls to the shore
in the moonlit hour s a s the bird that sings in the dark
ness of a tropi c night to it s l onging mate
Marpessa
he cried
Marpessa ! wilt thou n ot
c ome to me
N o woe n or trouble never any pain c an
touch me Yet w oe indeed was mine when rst I saw thy
fairest fa c e For even n ow dost thou hasten to sorrow
to darkness to the dark shadowed tomb Thou art but
mortal thy beauty is short lived
Thy l ove for mortal
man shall qui ckly fade and die Come to me Marpessa
and my kisse s on y our lips shall make thee immortal
Together we Shall bring the sunb eams to a c old dark
land Together shall we coa x the spring ower s from the
still dead earth
Together we shall bring to men the
golden harvest and deck the tree s of autumn in ou r liveries
of red and gold
I love thee Marpe ss a not as mere mortal
l oves do I love thee C om e to me Marp e ssa m y Love

m y Desire
When his voi c e was silent it s ee med a s if the very
earth itself with all its thousand echoes still breathed his

words : Marpessam y Lovem y Desire


-

A B OOK O F MYTHS

96

Abashed before the god s entreaties stood Ida s An d


the heart of Marpessa was torn as sh e heard the burn ing
word s of the beautiful Apollo stil l rin ging through her
head and saw her mortal lover silent white lipped
gazing rst at the god and then into her own pal e fa c e
At l ength he spoke
A ft r ch argu m t what
I pl a d !
m a k P Y t S i c it i s
O W hat p a l p r m i
I w m a t p ity rath r tha t a p ir
A l ittl I wi ll p a k I l v th th
N t
l y f th y b dy p a ck d with w t
O f l l thi w rld that p f brimm i g Ju
That jar f vi l t wi
t i th air
That p al t r
w t i th i ght f l if
N
f
that tirri g b m all b i g d
By d r w i g l v r
th y p ril hair ;
f
that fa c that m ight i d d p r v k
N
f l d c iti
I va i
all
;
Th y fr s h
t al i g m l ik tra g sl p
thi ly d I l v th but
f
N
B ca e I ity p th br d ;
art f ll f whi p r d f ha d w
A d th
h
Th u m a t what th
triv t s ay
d y ar
d u p th cl i ff t t l l
S l g
Th u art what a ll th wi d hav tt r d t
W hat th til l i ght gg t th t th h art
Th y v i c i l ik t m i c h ar d
birth
S m p irit l t t ch d a p irit ;
Th y fa c r m m b r d i fr m th r w r ld
I t ha s b d i d f th gh I k w t wh
b
g f th gh I k w t wh e r
It h
It h th tra g s f th l ri g W t
h ri
A d f d
; b i d th
d la d
I a m awar f th r ti m
O f birth far ba ck f l i v i m a y tar
d l i k a ca dl cl r
0 b a ty l
try f th w rld Th art
I thi d ar k c
My w my arly l i ght my m i c dy i g S T E P H E N P H I P

su

on

or

es

o se s

us

ou

on

e s

e en

as

e s

sa

se a-

e o

on e a n

oun

oe ,

es

no

en,

no

es

s,

ea

us

s,

ee

no

e s an

no

es

e e

no

ou

z on s

sea

e re

on

en e s o

ee

ou

e u

or,

e e n su n

as

en

es e

us

ou

u e

e s

as s

su

e s an

oo

ne

ee

e se a

an

e s

ee,

n es

ee

on

ou s

on

n o, n o r

s on

or

es

n e ss s e

es e

n e,

o so

s on o

or

e n

e s, o r

or

ee

s n

ee

n e se

cu

o e

en

e,

ee

or

or

or

se

c an

en

ou

IL L

S.

IDAS AND MARPESSA

97

Then Idas in the humility that comes from perfect


love drooped low his head and was silent In silen c e
for a minute stood the three a god a man and a
wo man An d from on high the watching stars l ooked
down and marvelled and Diana stay ed for a moment
the c ours e of her silver car to watch as sh e thought th e
triu mph of her ow n invinc ible brother
From man to god pas sed the eye s of Marpes s a and
ba ck from god to man And the stars forgot to twinkle
an d D iana s sil ver maned horses pawed the blue oor of
the sky impatient at the rm hand of the mistress on the
re in s that che cke d their eager c ourse
Marpessa sp ok e at last in low words that seeme d to

come remembere d from other worlds


For all the j oys h e o ffere d her she thanked Apollo
What grander fate for mortal woman than to rule th e
sunbeams to bring bliss to the earth and to the sons of
men
What m ore could mortal wo m an crave than th e
gift of immortal ity shared with on e whose power ru led
the vast univers e and who stil l ha d stooped to lay the
red ro se s of hi s pa s sionate love at her little human feet
An d y et and y et in that s orrow free existen c e that
he promised might there not still be something aw an t
ing to on e who had on c e known tears
,

Ye t

I b
,

e in

g h ma
u

n,

um

an

so

rr w m i
o

ss

Then were he indeed to give her the gift o f immortal


life what value were life to on e whose beauty had
withered as the leaves in autumn whose heart was tired
and dead ! What uglier fate than this to endure an
,

98

BOO K O F MYTH S

endless existen c e in which no life was y oked to on e whose


y outh was immortal whose beauty was everlasting
Then did sh e turn to Idas w h o stood as on e w h o
awaits the judgment o f the judge in whose hands lies the
p ower of meting ou t life or death Thus sh e spoke
B t if I l iv with I d a s th
tw
w
O th l w art h ha ll p r p r ha d i ha d
I
d
r f th O p l d d l iv
I p ac f l
f th far m
d wat c h
i
Th p a t ra l ld b r d by th s tti g
A d h
hall g iv m p a i at c h l d r
t
S m ra d ia t g d that W ill d p i m q it
B t cl a mb ri g l i m b
d l itt l e h art s that
hall w l iv
S
A d th u g h th r t w e t s ti g f l v b p a s t
Th
w t that alm t v m i th u gh y th
W ith t d r d x trava ga t d l ight
Th r t
d
c r t k i by twi l i ght h dg
Th i a
far w ll r p at d
d
Pa ff th r hall s cc d a faithfu l p a c
B autif l fri d hi p tri d by
d wi d
D urab l fr m th d aily d t f l if
,

ou

en

s o

e s

ss o n

an

os

an

se

ss o

e e s
en

ss

e,

o e r an

ou

e,

o e r,

s u n an

us

ee

e rr

eno

se

ns ne

en , n o

su n

ee

e,

en

an

s an

es

O s

an

ne

e s

n o se s o

e u

os

s o

en

The sun god frown ed as her words fell from her lips
Even now as sh e looked at him he held ou t his arms
Surely she only play ed w ith this poor mortal y outh
To him she must come thi s ro s e w h o c ou l d own n o l e sser
god than the su n god himself
B ut Marpessa spok e on
A d th
b a tif l g d i that far tim
W h i thy tt i g w t th g t d w
r m m b r th
O h i g r y h a d wi l t th
That c I p l a d th that I c w y g !
-

en

se

on

So

e u

ou

ee

ou

se

e,

ee,

az e s

ou
e

on

en

as

ou n

did her voice cease and on the earth fell sudden


darknes s For to Apollo had c ome the shame of love
,

IDAS AND MAR PESSA

99

rejected and there were tho s e who said that to the earth
that night there came no sunset only the sullen darkness
that told of the ight of an angry god Yet later the
silver moonbeams of Diana s eemed to greet the dark earth
with a smile and in the winged c ar of Neptune Idas and
Marpessa sped on greater than the gods in a perfect
n or ti m e n or pain
harmony of human l ove that
nor Death himsel f
,

ARETHUSA

WE have victualled and watered

wrote Nelson from


Syracuse in 179 8
and sur ely watering at the fountain
W e shall sail with
of Arethusa we must have v i c tory
the rst breeze ; and be assured I wil l return either

c rown ed with l aure l or covered w ith cy pre ss


Three
days later he w on the B attle of the Ni l e one of th e
greatest sea gh ts of history
Here in ou r ow n l and the tale s of the Gr ee k gods
s eem very remote Like the c olour s in an ol d ol d por
trait the humanity of the stories s eem s to have faded
B ut in Sicil y they grow vivid at once Almost a s we
stand above S y racu s e that long yellow tow n b y the sea
a blue green s ea with deep purple S hadows where the
clouds above it grow dark and little white sailed boats
like white butteries wing their way a cross to the far
h orizon c an we
,

H av gl imp
e

O r h ar
e

ol

Pr ot ri i g fr m th s
Trito bl w h i wr e ath ed h r

se o f

s n

eu s

e a,

o n

H ere to this day on e of the myth s most impossible


o f a cc eptan c e to the s cienti c mo d ern m ind live s o n

and Arethusa is not yet forgotten


In Ortygia says
C i c ero
is a fountain of sweet water the name of whi ch
is Arethusa of in credible ow very full of sh which
wou ld b e entirely overwhelme d by the s ea were its
,

100

ARETHUS A

1 01

waters n ot prote cted from the wave s b y a ramp art and

a wall of stone
Wh ite marble walls have taken the
p la c e of the protecting barrier but the spring bubbles up
to this day and Ortygia (Qu ail Island ) is the name still
given to that part of S y racuse
Flu ffy heade d l ong
green stalks of papyrus grow in the fountain and red and
golden sh dart through its cl ear water Beyond lie
the l ow shore s of Pl em m griu m the fens of L y sim el eia
the hills above the An apu s and above all tower s Etna
in snowy and magnicent s erenity and in d ifferen c e
to the changes wrought by the centurie s to gods and to
men Yet here the pre sent is c ompletely overshad owed
b y the past and even the story of Arethusa kno cks loud ly
at the well barri c ade d doors of twentieth century in
credul ity
The beautiful Arethusa was a nymph in Diana s train
and many a time in the c hase did she thread her way
through the dim woodland as a strea m ows dow n
through the forest from the mountains to the s ea B ut
to her at last there came a day when sh e wa s n o l onger
the huntress but the hunted
The aming wheels of the chariot of Apoll o ha d m ade
the whole land scintillate with heat and the ny mph
sought the kind shelter of a wood where she might bathe
in the exquisite c oolness of the river that still was chilled
by the snows of the mountain O n the b ran ch of a tre e
that bent over the stream she hung her garment s and
joyously stepped into the l impid water A ray of th e
su n glanced through the leaves above her and made the
soft san d in the river s b e d gleam l ike gold and th e
.

A BOO K O F MYTH S

1 02

beautiful limbs o f the ny mph seem as though c arved from


pure white marble b y the hand of Pygmalion himself
There was no sound there but the gentle sound of the
stream that murmured c aressingl y to her as it slowly
m ove d on through the solitude and so gently it owed
that al most it se emed to stand stil l as though regretful
to l eave for the unk nown fore s t so beautifu l a thing as
Arethusa
Th E arth s e m d t l v h
A d H av
s m i l d ab v h
.

en

er

er

B ut suddenly the stillness of the stream was ruf ed


Waves like the newly born brothers of the billows of
the s ea swept both down stream an d u p stream upon
her and the river no l onger murmured gently but spoke
to her in a voice that thrilled with passionate longing
Al p heu s god of the river had beheld her and b ehold
An uncouth
in g her had loved her on c e and forever
creature of the fore st wa s he unversed in all the arts of
l ove making S o not as a supplicant did he c ome to her
but a s on e who demanded er cely love for love Terror
c am e upon Arethusa as sh e listened and hasti ly she
sp rang fro m the water that had brought fear upon her
an d hastene d to nd shelter in the woodland s Then
th e murmur a s of the murmur of a river before a mighty
ood comes to seize it and hold it for it s own took form
in a voi c e that pled with her in tone s that ma d e her
tre mble as she heard
Hear me Arethusa
it s ai d
I a m Alpheu s god
I am the
of the river that now thou hast made s acred

o
o
f
the
r
shing
s
trea
m
s
t
e
god
o
f
the
th
u
n
dering
d
h
u
g
.

ARETHUSA

1 03

catara cts Where the mountain streams crash over th e


rocks and echo through the shadowy hollows of the hills
I hold my kingship Down from Etna I come and the
re of Etna is in my veins I love thee
I love but

thee and thou shalt be mine and I thine forever


Then Arethusa in blind p ani c ed before the god
w h o loved her
Through the shadowy forest sh e sped
while he swiftly gained upon her The asphodel bent
under her y ing feet and the golden owers of the F iori
Maggio were swept aside as she ed Yet ever Alpheus
gained upon her until at length she felt that the chase
wa s ended and cried to Diana to save her
Then a
cloud gre y and thick and blinding as the mist that
wraps the mountain tops suddenly descended and
enfolded her and Alpheus groped for her in vain
Arethusa
She heard him cry in a voi c e of

piteous longing
Arethusa
m y belov ed
Patiently he waited with the love that make s u n
couth things beautiful until at length a little breath
from Zephy rus blew aside the soft grey veil that hid his
beloved from his sight and he saw that the ny mph had
been transformed into a fountain Not for a moment
did Alpheus delay but turning himself into a torrent
in ood he rushed on in pursuit of Arethusa Then did
Diana to save her votary cleave a way for her through
the dark earth even into the gloomy realm of Pluto
himself and the nymph rushed onward onward still
and then upward until at length sh e emerged again to
the freedom o f the blue sky and green trees and beheld
the golden orange grove s and the gre y olive s the burn
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

104

ing red geranium owers and the great snow capped


mountain o f Sicily
But Alpheus had a love for her that cast ou t all
fear Through the terrible blackness of the Cocytus
valley he followed Arethusa and found a means of
bursting through the encumbering earth and j oining her
again And in a spring that rises ou t of the se a near
the shore he was able at l ast to mingle his waters with
those of the on e for w hom he had lost his godship
A d
w fr m th ir f
tai
I Em a m
tai
D w
val wh r th m r i g ba k
L i k fri d
c p art d
Gr w i gl h art d
Th y ply th ir wat ry ta ks
A t ri th y l ap
F r m th ir c ra dl t p
f th
I th cav
h l vi g hi ll ;
At
tid th y w
Thr gh th w d b l w
f a sp h d l
A d th m a d w
A d at i ght th y Sl p
I th r ck i g d p
B ath th O rtyg ia h r ;
L i k S p irit that l i
I th az r
ky
S H E EY
W h th y l v b t l iv
m r
-

no

ou n

ns

ou n

n on e

s on

n s n

en

e-

en

e s

oo

s o

e o

ee

ee

n s

en e

s,

e s s ee

ou

e o

n oo n

o n n

se

sun

n s,

o e

u e s

e no

o e

LL

PERSEUS THE HER O


ca ll c h a m a h r i E gl i h t thi d
d g ri e f that w e m a y
h r i c thi g t ff r p ai

f ll w m
CH A R E S K I N G S EY
We

su

an

e o

e o

en

su

an

y
do
,

an

go d
o

a ll it a
to

ou r

the p l easant land of Argos n ow a p l a c e of unwhole


some marshes on c e upon a tim e there reigned a king
called Acrisius the father of on e fair daughter Dana e
was her name and sh e w as very dear to the king until a
day when he longed to know what lay hid for him in the
lap of the gods and c onsulted an ora cle With hanging
head he returned from the temple for the oracle had told
him that when his daughter Danae: had borne a son b y
the hand of that son death must surely come upon him
And because the fear of death was in him more strong
than the love of his daughter Acrisius resolved that b y
sacricing her he would bafe the gods and frustrate
Death itself A great tower of brass was speedil y built
at his command and in this prison Danae: was pla c e d
to drag ou t her weary days
But w h o can es c ape the desig ns of the gods
From
O lympus great Zeus himself looked down and saw the
air princess sighing away her youth And full o f pity
and of love he himself entered the brazen tower in a
golden shower and D an a became the bride of Zeus and
happily passed with him the time of her imprisonment
To her at length w as born a son a beautiful and

IN

105

A B OO K O F MYTHS

10 6

kingly c hild and great was the wrath of her father when
he had tidings of the birth Did the gods in the high
heavens laugh at him
The laugh should yet be on his
side Down to the seashore he hurried Danae and her
newly born babe the little Perseus put them in a great
chest and set them adrift to be a plaything for w inds and
waves and a prey for the cruel and hungry sea
,

'

Wh e i th c i gly wro ght ch e s t th ra gi g b l a s t d th e


tirr e d bi ll w d t rr r f l l u p h with t arful c h k h e ca t h e
d p ak
u
Al a my chi l d what s rr w i s m i e !
a m ar u d P e r
t i bab y W i e S l e p i g i thi w
f l ark m i d t th e
l mb
B t th
hi e t
d ar k e ss f th e braz riv t th
wart gl m
t
d i th
t th d
p f am f th e p a i g wave ab v th y
f rth ; th u h e e d t
l ck
v i c f th b l a t a s th u l i t i th y p rpl e c e i gj
th
w e t fa ce If t rr r ha d t rr r f th e
w rt g ivi g
d th
t
my g e tl e w r d I bi d th l e p my bab e d m ay th
l p d
m a ur l w ; d m ay cha g f f rt
c m e f rth Fath r
fr m th e F that I m ak my p ray e r i b old e
Z
d b y d
ri ght for g iv e m e S I MON I DE S K o

se

ou s u

e re s

n or

our

e u s,

oe

o s

an

es

e s

ou

an

se n

oo

ov

r n

e ar

e se a s e e

un e

oe u

s s

ss n

e , an

or

an

ee

or

ee

ee s e

e e ss

ou

an

s,

e r,

e,

on

no

an

es

en

an

un n n

ss an

an

on

or

s.

For day s and nights the mother and child were


tossed on the billows but y et no harm came near them
and on e morning the chest grounded on the rocky beach
Here a sh er
of S eriphos an island in the ZE ge an Sea
m an c ame on this strange otsam and j etsam of the
wave s and took the mother and child to P ol ydectes the
k ing and the y ear s that followed were p eaceful y ears
But as P erseus grew up
for Dana e and for Perseu s
growing ea ch day more goodly to l ook upon more fear
less more read y to gaze with serene c ourage into the
ey es of gods and of men an evil thing befell his mother
She was but a girl when he was born and as the y ears
passed sh e grew ever m ore fair An d the c rafty ey es of
,

PE RSEUS
ol d

10 7

the king ever watched her more eagerly


alway s more hotly desired her for his wife But Dana e
the beloved of Zeus himself had no wish to wed the ol d
king of the C y clades and proudly sh e scorned his suit
B ehind her as she knew well was the stout arm of her
son P ers eus and while Perseus was there the k ing could
do her no harm But Perseus unwitting of the danger
hi s mothe r daily had to face sailed the seas unfearingly
and felt that peace and safety surrounded him on every
side At Samos on e day while his ship was la di ng
Perseu s l ay dow n under the shade of a great tree and
soon his eyelids grew heavy with sleep and there c ame
to him like butteries that it over the owers in a sunlit
garden pleasant light winged dreams But yet another
dream followed close on the merry heels of those that
went before And before P erseus there stood on e whose
grey ey e s were as the fathomless sea on the dawn of a
summer day Her long robes were blue as the hya c inths
in spring and the spear that sh e held in her hand was of
a polished brightness as the dart with which the gods
smite the heart of a man with j oy inexpressible with
sorrow that is scar cely to be borne To Perseu s she
spoke winged words

I am Pallas Athen e she s aid


and to me the
soul s of men are known Those whose fat hearts are as
those of the beasts that perish do I know They live at
case
No bitter sorrow is theirs nor any erc e j oy that
lifts their feet free from the cumbering clay But dear
to my heart are the souls of those whose tears are tears
of bloo d w ho s e j oy is as the o
the
Immortals
P
ain
o
f
j y
Pol y de ctes

A B OO K O F MYTHS

108

is theirs and sorrow Disappointment is theirs and


grief Yet th eir love is as the love o f those who dwell on
Olympus Patient they are and long su ffering and
ever they hope ever do they trust Ever they ght
fearless and unashamed and when the sum of their day s
on earth is accomplished wings of whose existen c e the y
have never had knowledge bear them upwards ou t of
the mist and din and strife of life to the life that ha s n o

ending
Then sh e laid her hand on the hand of P erseus

Perseus sh e said art thou of those whose dull souls


forever dwell in p leasant ease or wouldst thou be as on e
of the Immortals
And in hi s d ream Perseus answered without hesita
tion
Rather let me die a y outh living m y life to the

ful l ghting ever suffering ever he said


than live
at case l ike a beast that feeds on owery pastures and

knows no ery gladness no heart b l eeding pain


Then Pallas Athen e laughing for j oy because sh e
l oved so well a hero s soul showed him a picture that
made even his brave heart S ick for dread and told him
a terrible story
In the dim cold far west she said there l ived three
sisters O ne of them Medusa had been on e of her
priestesses golden haired and most beautiful but when
Athen e found that sh e was as wicked as she was lovel y
swiftly had sh e meted ou t a punishment Every l ock
o f her golden hair had been changed into a venomous
snake Her eyes that had on c e been th e cradles of love
,

PERSEUS

109

were turned into love s stony tombs Her rosy ch e cks


were now o f Death s own livid hue Her smile which
drew the hearts of lovers from their bosoms had be c o me
a hideou s thing A grinning mask looked on the
world and to the world her gaping mouth an d p ro
tru d in g ton gu e meant a horror before which the worl d
stood terrie d dumb There are some sadnesses too
terrible for human hearts to bear so it came to p ass
that in the dark cavern in which sh e dwelt and in the
shadowy woods aroun d it all living things that ha d met
the awful gaze of her hopeless e y es were turned into
stone Then Pallas Athen e showed Perseus mirr ored
in a brazen shield the face of on e of the tragi c things of
the world And as Perseus looked his soul grew chill
within him But when Athen e in l ow voi c e a sked
him :
Perseus wilt even end the s orrow of this piteou s
sinful on e
he answered
E ven that will I d oth e

gods helping me
And Pallas Athen e s miling again in glad c ontent
left him to dream and P erseus awoke in sudden fear
and found that in truth he had but dreamed yet he ld
his dream as a holy thing in the secret treasure hou s e of
his heart
Back to Seriphos he sailed and found that his mother
walk ed in fear of P ol y de cte s the king
She told her
son a strong man n ow though y oung in y ears the
story of h is c ruel persecution P erseus saw red blood
and gladly woul d he have driven his keen bl ade
far home in the heart of Pol v de cte s
But hi s vengeance

A B OO K OF MYTHS

1 10

wa s to be a great vengean c e and the vengean c e wa s


delay ed
The king gave a feast and on that d ay every on e in
the land brought offerings of their best and most c ostly
to do him honour Perseus alone came empty han ded
and as he stood in the king s court as though he were a
beggar the other y ouths mo ck ed at him of whom they
had ever been jealous

Thou say e st that thy father is on e of the gods !


they said
Where is thy godlike gift 0 Perseus
And P ol y dectes glad to humble the lad w h o was
keeper of his mother s honour e choed their fool i sh
taunt
Where i s the gift of the gods that the noble son of
the gods has brought me
he a sked and his fat
cheeks an d loose m outh quivered with u gly m erri
ment
Then Perseu s his hea d thrown ba ck ga ze d in the
bold ey es of P ol ydectes
Son of Zeus he was indeed a s he l ook e d with roy al
s corn at those whom he despised

A godlike gift thou shalt have in truth 0 king he


said and his voice rang ou t as a trumpet call before the
battle
The gift of the gods shall be thine The g ods

helping me thou shalt have the head of Medusa


A laugh hal f born died in the throats of Pol ydectes
and of those who listened and Perseus strode ou t of the
palace a glow in his heart for he knew that Pallas
Athen e had lit the re that burned in him n ow and that
though he should shed the last drop of his life s b l ood
,

PERSEUS TH E HER O

111

win what he sought right would triumph and wrong


must be worsted
Still quivering w ith anger P erseus went down to the
blue sea that gently whispered its se crets to the s hore on
whi ch he stood

If Pallas Athen e woul d but c om e h e thought

if only m y dreams might c ome true


For like many a boy before and sin c e P erse u s ha d
dreamed of gallant fearl ess deeds Like many a b oy
before an d sin c e he had been the hero of a great ad
venture
Come to me ! I pray you Pallas
S o he pray e d

Athen e come an d let me dream tru e


His pray er was an swered
Into the sky there c ame a little silver cl oud that grew
and grew and ever it grew nearer and then as in his
dream P allas Athen e c ame to him and s m iled on him a s
the sun smiles on the water in spring N or was sh e
alone B eside her stood Hermes of the winged shoes
and P erseus kne lt before the tw o in worship Then very
entl
y
Pallas
Athen
e
g
ave
him
c
oun
s
e
l
an
d
m
ore
than
g
c ounsel sh e gave
In his han d sh e pl a ce d a p olishe d shie ld than whi ch
no mirror shone more brightl y
Do not look at Medusa herself ; l ook only on h er
image here ree ctedthen strike home har d and s w iftly
And when her head is s evered wrap it in the goatsk in
on whi c h the s hie l d han gs
S o wi lt thou retu rn in safety
and in honour
Bu t h ow then s hal l I c ros s the wet grey e lds of

to

A B OOK O F MYTHS

1 12

this watery way


asked Perseus
Woul d that I

were a white winged bird that skims across the waves


And with the smile of a loving comrade H erm es laid
his hand on the shoulder of Perseus

My winged shoes shall be thine he said and the

white winged se a birds shalt thou leave far far behind

Yet another gift is thine


said Athen e
Gird

on as gift from the go d s this sword that is immortal


For a moment Perseus lingered
May I not bi d
farewell to my mother ! he asked
May I not offer
burnt offerings to thee and to Hermes and to m y father
Zeus himse lf
But Athen e said Nay at his mother s weeping his
heart might relent and the offering that the O lympian s
desired was the head of Medusa
Then like a fea rless young golden eagle Perseus
S pread ou t his arms and the winged shoes carrie d him
across the seas to the c old northern l ands whither
Athen e had directed him
Each day his shoes took him a se ven day s j ourney
and ever the air through which he passed grew more
chill till at length he reached the land of everlasting
snow where the black ice never knows the conquering
warmth o f spring and where the white surf of the m oan
ing waves freezes solid even as it touches the shore
It was a dark grim pla c e to which he came and in a
gloomy cavern by the sea lived the Grae ae the three grey
sisters that Athen e had told him he must seek Old and
grey and horrible the y were with but on e tooth amongst
them an d but on e eye From hand to hand they passed
.

PERSEUS

1 13

the ey e and muttered and shivered in the blackness and


the cold
Boldly Perseu s spoke to them and asked them to
uide
him
o the pla c e where Medusa and her s isters
t
g
the Gorgons dwelt

No others know where the y d well he said


Tell

me I pray thee the way that I may nd them


B ut the Grey Women were kin to the Gorgons and
hate d all the children of men and ugly w as their evil
mirth as they mocked at Perseus and refused to tell him
where Medusa might be found
But Perseus grew wily in his desire not to fail and
as the ey e passed from on e withered clutching hand to
another he held ou t his own stron g y oun g palm an d in
her blindness on e of the three placed the eye W
ithin it
Then the Grey W omen gave a piteous cry er c e and
angry as the cry of ol d grey wolve s that have been robbed
of their p re y and g nashe d upon him with their toothless
j aws
And Perseus said :
W icked y e are and cruel at
heart and blind shall y e remain forever unless ye tell
me where I may nd the Gorgons But tell me that and

I give back the eye


Then they whimpered and begged of him and when
they found that all their beseeching was in vain at
length they told him

Go south they said


so far south that at length
thou comest to the uttermost limits of the sea to the
place where the day and night meet There is the
Garden of the Hesperides and of them must thou ask
,

A B OOK O F MY TH S

114

the way
And Give us back ou r ey e
they wailed
again most piteously and Perseus gave back the ey e
into a greedy trembling ol d hand an d ew south lik e a
swallow that is glad to l eave the gloom y frozen lan d s
behind
To the garden of the He sperides he came at last and
amongst the myrtles and roses and sunny fountains he
came on the ny mphs who there guard the golden fruit
and begged them to tell h im w hither he must wing his
way in order to nd the Gorgon s But the ny mphs
c ould not tell

We must ask Atlas they said the giant who sits


high up on the mountain and with hi s strong shoul der s

keeps the heavens and earth apart


And with the ny mphs Perseus went up the mountain
and asked the patient giant to guide him to the plac e of
his quest

Far away I can see them said Atlas


on an
island in the great ocean But unless thou wert to wear

the helme t of Pluto himself thy going must be in vain


What is this helmet
asked P ers eus
and how
can I gain it
Didst thou wear the helmet of the ruler of Dark
Places thou wouldst be as invisible as a shadow in the

blackness of night answered Atlas ; but no mortal


can obtain it for only the Immortals can brave the
terrors of the Shadowy Land and y et return ; y et if thou

wil t promise me one thing the helmet shall be thine


What wouldst thou
ask ed Perseus
And Atlas said
For many a long y ear have I
.

PERSEUS

1 15

this earth and I grow aweary of my burden


When thou hast slain Medusa let me gaze upon her
face that I may be turned into stone and suffer n o

more forever
An d Perseu s promised and at the bidding of Atla s
on e of the ny mph s s ped down to the land of the Shades
and for s even days Perseus and her sisters awaited her
return H er fa c e was as the face of a white lily and her
ey es were dark with sa dness when sh e came but w ith
her sh e bore the helmet of P luto and when sh e and her
sisters had kissed Pers eus and h idden him a sorrowful
farewell he put on the helmet and vanished away
Soon the gentle light of day had gone and he foun d
himself in a pla c e where clammy fog blotted ou t all
things and where the sea was bla ck as the water of that
stream that runs through the Cocytus valley And in
that silent land where there i s neither night n or day

n or cloud nor bree ze n or storm


he found the c ave of
horrors in which the Gorgon s dwelt
Tw o of them l i k e monstrous swine lay asl eep
B t a thir d w m a p a c d ab t th hall
A d v r tur d h
h a d fr m wa l l t wa ll
d hri k d i h
d p air
A d m a d al d
fh
B c a th g ld tr
hair
W r m v d by w rithi g ak fr m i d t i d
That i th ir writhi g ft tim w u ld gl i d
br a t
h dd ri g h u ld r whit
O t h
O r fall i g d w th hi d
thi g w ld l ight
U p h f t d c rawl i g th c w ld twi
Th ir l im y f ld p h a k l W I I A M M ORR I S
In the shield of Pallas Athen e the pi cture was mir
rore d and as P er seus gazed on it his sou l
rew
heav
y
for
g

h om

u se

er

er

on

ou

ee

or s

n,

an

s u

on

en

er

es

en

es

es

e ou s

er

es

er

sn

e sse s o

en

an

er

ou

ne

ne

e,

e s

ou

e,

ou
"

ne

o s

ne

LL

A B OO K OF MYTH S

116

the beauty and the horror of Medusa An d O h that it

had been her foul sisters that I must slay ! he thought

at rst but then


To slay her will be kind indeed he
said
Her beauty has become c orruption and all the
j oy of life for her has passed into the agony of reme m

brance the torture of unending remorse


And when he saw her brazen claws that still were
greedy and lustful to strike and to slay his face grew
stern and he paused no longer but with his sword he
smote her neck with all his might and main And to
the rocky oor the body of Medusa fell with brazen
clang but her head he wrapped in the goatskin while
he turned his ey es away Aloft then he sprang and
ew swifter than an arrow from the bow of Diana
With hideous outcry the two other Gorgons foun d
the body of Medusa and like foul vu ltures that hunt a
little song bird they ew in pursuit o f Perseus For
many a league they kept up the chase and their howling
was grim to hear Across the seas they ew and over
the y ellow sand of the Libyan desert and as Perseu s
ew before them some blood drops fell from the severe d
head of Medusa and from them bred the vipers that are
found in the desert to this day But bravely did the
w inged shoes o f Hermes bear Perseus on and by night
fall the Gorgon sisters had passed from sight and Perseus
found himself once more in the garden of the Hesperides
Ere he sought the nymphs he knelt by the sea to cleanse
from his hands Medusa s blood and still does the se a
weed that we nd o n sea beaches after a storm bea r the
crims on stains
.

PERSEUS

117

And when Perseus had received glad welcome from


the fair dwellers in the garden of the Hesperides he
sought Atlas that to him he might full his prom ise ;
and eagerl y Atlas behel d him for he was aweary of his
long toil
S o Perseus uncovered the fa c e o f Medusa an d he l d it
up for the Titan to g aze upon
An d when Atlas l ooked upon her whose beauty had
on c e been pure and living as that of a ower in spring
and saw only anguish and cruelty foul wickedness and
hideous despair his heart grew like stone within him
To stone too turned his great patient fa c e an d into
stone grew his vast limbs and strong crouching back
So did Atlas the Titan become Atlas the Mountain and
still his hea d white crow ned with snow and his great
shoulder far up in misty cl oud s would see m to hold
apart the earth and the sky
Then Perseus again too k ight and in his ight he
passed over many lan ds and suffered weariness and
want an d sometimes felt his faith growing l ow Yet
ever he sped on hoping ever enduring ever In Egypt
he had rest and was fed and honoured b y the people of
the land who were fain to keep him to be on e o f their
gods And in a pla c e called Chemmis they built a
statue of him when he had gone and for many hundreds
Of y ears it stood there
And the Egy ptians said that
ever and again Perseus returned and that when he came
the Nile rose high and the seas on was fruitful be cau se
he had blessed their land
Far down below him as he ew on e day h e saw
,

A B OOK O F MYTHS

1 18

someth ing white on a purple rock in the sea It seeme d


too large to be a snowy plumaged bird and he darted
swiftly downward that he might se e more clearly The
spray lashed against th e steep rocks of the des olate
island and showered itself upon a gu re that at rst he
took to be a statue of white marble The gure was but
that of a girl slight and very youthful y et more fair
even than any of the ny mphs of the Hesperides In
visible in his Helmet of Darkness Perseus drew near
and saw that the fragile white gure was shaken b y
shivering sobs The wave s every few moments lappe d
up on her little c old white feet and he saw that heavy
chain s held her imprisoned to that chilly rock in the
sea A great anger stirred the heart of Perseus and
swiftly he took the helmet from his head and stood
beside her The maid gave a cry of terror but there
was no evi l thing in the face of Perseus Naught but
strength and kindness and purity shone ou t of h is
steady ey es
Thus when very gently he asked her what was the
meaning o f her cruel imprisonment sh e told him the
piteous story as a little child tells the story of its grief
to the mother who comforts it Her mother was queen
of Ethiopia
sh e said
and very very beautiful But
when the queen had boasted that no ny mph who play ed
amongst the snow crested billow s of the sea was as fair
as sh e a terrible punishment was sent to her All al ong
the coast of her father s kingdom a loathsome sea
monster came to hold its sway and hideous were its
ravages Men and women children and animal s a ll
.

PERSEUS

1 19

were equally desirable food for its insatiate maw and


the whole lan d of Ethiopia lay in mourning because of
it At last her father the king had consulted an oracle
that he might nd help to rid the land of the m onster
And the oracle had told him that only when his fair
daughter Andromeda had been sacriced to the c reature
that scourged the sea c oast would the c ountry go free
Thu s had sh e been brought there b y her parent s that
on e life might be given for many and that her mother s
broken heart might expiate her sin of vanity Even
a s Andromeda S poke the sea was broken b y the track
of a creature that cleft the water as does the fore
running gale of a mighty storm And An dro m eda gave
a piteous cry

Lo ! he c ome s !
she c rie d
Sav e m e ! ah

s ave m e I am so y oung to die


Then Perseus darted high above her an d for an
instant hung poised like a hawk that is about to strike
Then like the hawk that cannot miss its prey swiftly
did he swoop down and smote with his sword the de
v ou rin g monster of the ocean
Not on c e but again and
again he smote until all the water round the rock w as
churned into slime and b l ood stained froth and until
hi s loathsome combatant oated on it s ba ck mere
carrion for the s c avenger s of the sea
Then P erseus hewed o ff the chains that held Andro
meda an d in his a rms he held her tenderly as he ew
with her to her father s land
Who so grateful then as the king an d queen of
Ethiopia and who s o happ y as Androm eda ! for P ers eu s
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

12 0

her deliverer dearest and greatest hero to her in all the


world not only had given her her freedom but had
given her his hear
Willingly and j oyfully her father agreed to gi ve her
to Perseus for his wife No marriage feast so s plendid
ha d ever been held i n Ethiopia in the memory of man
but as it went on an angry man with a band of sul len
faced followers strode into the banqueting hall It was
Phineus he who had been betrothed to Andromeda yet
who had not dared to strike a b l ow for her res cue
Straight at Perseus they rushed and erce was the ght
that then began But of a sudden from the goatsk in
where it lay hid Perseus drew forth the hea d of Medus a
and Phineus and his warriors were turned into stone
For seven day s the marriage feast l asted but on the
eighth night Pallas Athen e came to Perseus in a dream
Nobl y and well hast thou p l ay e d the hero 0 s on o f
Zeu s
but now that thy toil is near an end
sh e said ;
and thy sorrows have en d ed in j oy I come to claim the
shoes of Hermes the helmet of Pluto the s word and the
shie l d that is mine own Yet the head of the Gorgon
must thou yet guard awhile for I woul d have it laid in
my temple at Seriphos that I may wear it on my shie l d

for evermore
AS sh e ceased to s peak P erseus awoke an d l o the
shield and helmet and the sword and winged S hoes were
gone so that he knew that his dream was no false vision
Then did Perseus and Andromeda in a red prowed
galley made b y cunning craftsmen from Ph oenicia sail
away westward until at length they c ame to the blue
,

'

PERS E US

2
1 1

water of the ZEgean S ea and saw rising ou t of the waves


before them the rocks o f Seriphos And when th e
rowers re sted on their long oars an d the red prowe d
Ship ground on the pebbles of the beach P er seus and hi s
bride sought Danae the fair mother of P erseus
Black grew the brow of the son of Dana e when sh e
told him what cruel things sh e had suffere d in h is absence
from the hands of P ol y de cte s the king Straight to the
palace Perseus strode and there found the k ing and his
friends at their revels For seven y ears had P erseu s
been aw ayian d now it was no l onger a stripling who stood
in the palace hall but a m an in stature and b earing lik e
P ol y de cte s alone kne w him and from
on e of the god s
his wine he looke d up with mocking gaze
So thou hast returned oh namele ss son of a d eath

less god he s ai d
Thou didst b oa st but m ethinks
thy boast wa s an e m pty on e
But even as he spoke the j eerin g smile froze on his
face and the face s of those w h o sat with hi m stiffened
in horror

0 king Perseu s s aid


I swore that the gods he l p
ing me thou shouldst have the head of Medusa The

gods have helped me Behold the Gorgon s head


Wild horror in their e y e s Pol ydecte s and his frien d s
gazed on the unspeakab l e thing and as they gazed the y

turned into stone a ring of grey stone s that still sit on


a hillside of Seriphos
With his wife and his m other P ers eu s then saile d
away for he had a great longing to take Danae bac k to
the land of her birth and to see if her father Acrisius
,

122

B OOK O F MYTH S

still lived and might not now repent of hi s cru elty to her
and to his grandson But there he found that the sins
o f Acrisius had been punished and that he had been
driven from his throne and his o wn l and by a usurper
Not for long did the sword of Perseus dwell in its scab
bard and spee dily was the u surper c ast forth and all the
men of Argos acclaimed Perseus as their gloriou s king
But Pers eu s would not be their king

I go to seek Ac risius he sai d


My m other s

father is your king


Again his galley saile d away an d at l ast up the l ong
Euboean Sea the y came to the tow n of Larissa where
the ol d king now dwe lt
A feast and sport s were going on when they got there
and beside the king of the l an d s at A crisiu s an age d
man yet a kingly one indeed
And Perseus thought
If I a stranger tak e part in
the Sports and carry away prizes from the men of Larissa

surely the heart of Acrisius must soften towards me


Thus did he take off his helmet and cuiras s and
stood unclothed beside the y ouths of Larissa and so
godlike was he that they all said amazed
Surely this
stranger come s from O lympus and is on e of the Im

mortals
In his hand he took a discus and ful l ve fatho m s
beyond those of the others he cast it and a great shout
arose from those who watched and A crisius cried out as
l oudly as all the rest

Further still ! they cried


Further stil l c anst

thou hurl ! thou art a hero indeed !


.

PERSEUS

12 3

And Pers eus putting forth all his strength hurled on c e


again and the dis cus ew from his han d like a bolt from
the hand of Zeus The watchers held their breath an d
ma d e rea dy for a shout of delight as they saw it spee d
further than mortal man had ever hurled before
on
But j oy died in their hearts when a gust of wind c aught
the dis cus a s it sped and hurled it against Acrisius
the k ing And with a sigh like the sigh that passes
through the leaves of a tree as the woodman fells it an d
it crashes to the earth so did Acrisius fall and lie prone
To his side rushed Perseus and lifted him tenderly in
his arms B ut the spirit of Acrisius had ed An d with
a great cry of sorrow Perseus called to the people
B ehold me ! I a m P erseus grandson of the man I

have slain
Who can avoid the decree of the gods !
For many a y ear thereafter P erseus reigned a s k ing
and to him and to his fair w ife were born four son s and
three daughters Wisely and well he reigned an d
when at a good ol d age Death took him and the wife
of his heart the go d s who had alway s held him dear
took him up among the star s to live for ever and ever
And there still on clear an d starry nights we may see
him holding the Gorgon s head Near him are th e father
an d mother of Andromeda Cepheus and Cassiopeia
and cl ose beside him stands An dromeda with her white
arms spread ou t across the blue sky as in the day s when
sh e stood chained to the roc k
And those who sail th e
watery ways look up for guidance to on e whose voyaging
is done and whose warfare is accomplished and take
th eir b earings from the c onstellation of Cassiopeia
,

NI O BE
L

ik

i b a l l t ar S H AK ESP EA R E

e,

quotation is an overworked quotation like m any


another o f those from Ham l et ; yet have half of those
wh ose lips utter it more than the vaguest a c quaintance
with the story of Niobe and the cause of her tears ! The
noble group attributed to Praxiteles of Niobe an d her
last remaining child in the Ufzi Palace at Florence has
been so often reproduced that it also has helped to
make the anguished gure of the Theban queen a
familiar one in pictorial tragedy so that as l ong as th e
works o f those Titans of art Shakespeare and Praxite l es
endure n o other monument is wanted for the m emory
of Niobe
Like many of the tales of mythology her tragedy i s
a story of vengean c e wreaked upon a mortal b y an
angry god She was the daughter of Tan tal o s and her
husband was Amphion King of Th ebes himself a son of
Zeus To her were born seven fair daughters and seven
beautiful and gallant sons and it was not because of her
own beauty nor her husband s fame nor their proud
descent and the greatness of their kingdom that the
Queen of Thebes was arrogant in her pride Very sure
sh e was that no woman had ever borne children like her
o wn children whose peers were not to be foun d o n earth
THE

NI OBE

1 25

in heaven Even in ou r ow n day there are m ortal


mothers who feel as Niobe felt
But amongst the Immortal s there was also a mother
with children whom sh e c ounted as peerless Latona
mother of Apollo and Diana was magnice ntly certain
that in all time nor in eternity to c ome c ould there be
a son and daughter so perfect in beauty in wisdom and
in power as the tw o that were her own Loudly did sh e
proclaim her p rou d belief and when Niobe hear d it sh e
laughed in scorn
The goddess ha s a son and a daughter she said
B e autiful and wise and powerful they may be but I
have borne seven daughters and seven sons and each
s on is more than the peer of Apollo each daughter more
than the equal of Diana the m oon goddess
An d to her boastful words Latona gave ear and
anger began to grow in her heart
E ach year the people of Thebes were wont to hold a
great festival in honour of Latona and her son and
daughter and it was an evi l day for Niobe when sh e
came upon the adoring crowd that l aurel crowned bore
frankincense to lay before the altars of the gods whose
glories they had assembled together to c elebrate

O h foolish ones !
and her voi c e was
sh e said
full of scorn
am I not greater than Latona ! I am
the daughter of a goddess m y husband the king the
Am I not fair ! am I not queenly as
son of a god
Latona herself
And o f a surety I am richer by far
than the goddess w h o has but one daughter and on e son
Look on m y s even nob l e s on s behold the beauty of my
n or

A B O OK O F MYTHS

126

seven daughters and see if they in beauty and all el se


do not equal the dwellers in Oly mpus
And when the people looked and shouted aloud
for in truth Niobe and her children were like unto gods
their queen said
Do not Waste thy worship my
people Rather make the prayers to thy kin g and to
me and to my children who buttress us round and mak e
our strength so great that fearlessly we c an despise

the gods
In her home on the C ynthian mountain top Latona
heard the arrogant words of the queen of Thebes and
even as a gust of wind blows smoul dering ashes into
a consuming re her growing anger amed into rage
She called Apollo and Diana to her and commanded
them to avenge the blasphemous insul t which had been
given to them and to their mother And the twin gods
listened with burning hearts

Trul y shalt thou be avenged !


c ried Apoll o
The shameless one shall learn that not unscathed goes
sh e who profanes the honour of the m other of the death
less gods
And with their silver bows in their hands Apollo
the smiter from afar and Diana the virgin huntress
hasted to Thebes There they found a l l the noble
youths of the kingdom pursuing their sports Some
rode some were having chariot races and ex c elling in
all things were the seven sons of Niobe
Apollo lost no time A shaft from h is quiver ew
as ies a bolt from the hand of Zeus and the rst
born o f Niobe fell like a you ng pine broken by
,

NIOBE

127

the wind on the oor of his winning chariot His


brother who followed him went on the heels of his
c omrade swiftly down to the Shades Two of the other
s ons of Niobe were wrestling together their great muscles
moving under the skin of white satin that covered their
perfect bodies and as they gri p p ed ea c h other y et
another shaft was driven from the bow of Apollo and
both lads fell oin e d b y on e arrow on the earth an d
there breathed their lives away
Their elder brother ran to their aid and to him
The two y oungest
too c ame death swift and sure
even as they cried for mer cy to an unknown god were
hurried after them by the un erring arrows of Apollo
The cries of those who watched this terrible slaying
were not long i n bringing Niobe to the pla c e where
her sons lay dead Yet even then her pride was u n
c onquered and sh e deed the gods and Latona to
whose j ealousy sh e as cribe d the fate of her seven

spears
Not y et hast tn ou c onquered Latona
sh e c ried
My seven sons lie dead y et to me still remain the
seven perfe ct lovelinesses that I have borne Try to
match them if thou canst with the beauty of thy two !
Still am I richer than thou O c rue l and envious mother
of on e daughter and on e son
But even as sh e spoke Diana had dr awn her b ow
and as the scythe of a mower quickly cuts down on e
after the other the tall white blossoms in the m eadow
so did her arrows slay the daughters of Niobe
When
on e only remained
the pride of Niobe was broken
,

A B O O K O F MYTHS

128

With her arms round the little Slender frame of her


golden haired y oungest born sh e looked up to heaven
and cried upon all the gods for mercy

sh e
S he is so little !
wailed
S o y oung so

d e ar ! Ah spare me on e S he said
only on e out of
so many
B ut the gods laughed Like a harsh note of mus i c
sounded the twang of Diana s bow P ierced by a
silver arrow the littl e girl lay dead The dignity of
Latona was avenged
O ve rwhelmed b y despair K ing Amphion killed him
self and Niobe was left alone to gaze on the ruin
around her For nine day s sh e sat a Greek Ra chel
weepin g for her children and refusing to be comforted
be cause they were not O n the tenth day the sight
was too much even for the superhuman hearts of the
gods to endure The y turned the bodies into stone and
themselves buried them And when they looked on the
face of Niobe and saw on it a bleeding anguish that n o
human hand coul d stay n or the word of any god
c omfort the gods were merciful Her grief was im m or
tal ise d for Niobe at their will became a stone and
was carried b y a wailing tempest to the summit of
Mount S ipyl u s in Lydia where a spring of Argos bore
her name Yet although a ro ck was Niobe from her
blind ey es of stone the tears still owed a clear stream
o f running water
sy mbol of a mother s anguish and
never ending grief
-

HYAC INTHUS

ath
O f H ya c i th wh th c r l br ath
O f Z ph yr l w h im Z p hy r p it t
w
P h b m t th m m t
Wh
F dl s th w r am i d th s bbi g rai K EA T S
W H OM the gods l ove die y oung
truly it would
seem so as we read the old tales of men and of women
beloved o f the gods To those men who were deemed
worthy of being companions of the gods seemingly no
good fortune came Yet after all if even in a brief
span of life the y had tasted god given happiness was
their fate on e to be pitied ! Rather let us keep ou r
tears for those w h o in a colourless grey world have seen
the dull days go past laden w ith triing duties u n
necessary cares and ever narrowing ideals and have
reached old age and the grave no narrower than their
lives without ever having know n a fulness of happi
ness such as the Oly mpians knew or ever having dared
to reach upwards and to hold fellowship with the
Im mortals
Hy acinthus was a Spartan y outh son of Clio on e
of the
Muses and of the mortal with whom sh e
had mated and from mother or father or from the
gods themselves he had received the gift of beauty
It chanced on e day that as Apollo drove his chariot on
u s,

sa d

en

s e

o no

on

Th e

ue

e re

de

oe

us

en

ou n

en

en

n.

1 29

A B OO K O F MYTHS

1 30

its all conquering round he saw the boy Hy acinthus


was as fair to look upon as the fairest of women yet h e
was not only full o f grace but was muscul ar and strong
as a straight y oung pine on Mount O ly mpus that fears
not the blind rage of the North Wind nor the angry
tempests o f the South
Wh en Apollo had spok en with him he found that
the face of Hy a c inthus did not belie the heart within
him and gladly the god felt that at last he had foun d
the perfect companion the ever courageous an d j oy ous
y oun g mate whose mood was always ready to meet
his own Did Apollo desire to hunt with merry shout
Hyacinthus called the hounds Did the great god
deign to sh Hyacinthus was ready to fetch the nets
and to throw himself whole souled into the great affair
silvery shes Wh en
of chasing and of landing the
Apollo wished to climb the mountains to heights so
lonely that not even the moving of an eagle s wing
broke the everlasting stillness Hy acinthus his strong
limbs too perfect for the chise l of any s culptor worthil y
to reproduce was read y and eager for the climb An d
when on the mountain top Apollo gazed in silen c e over
illimitable space and watched the silver car of his
sister Diana rising slowly into the deep b lue of the
sky
silvering land and water as sh e passed it was
never Hyacinthus who was the rst to speak with
words to break the spell of Nature s perfect beauty
shared in perfect companionship There were times
too when Apollo would play his lyre and when naught
but the music of his own making could full his longing
-

HYACINTHUS
An d

1 31

when those times c ame Hyacinthus would lie at


the feet of his friend of the friend w h o w a s a god
and would listen with ey es of rapturous j oy to the
musi c that his master made A very perfe ct friend wa s
this friend of the sun god
Nor was it Apollo alone w h o desired the friend
ship of Hyacinthus
Zephyrus god of the South
Wind had know n him before Apollo crossed his path
and had eagerly desired him for a friend But w h o
c oul d stand against Apollo
Sulkily Zephy rus marked
their ever ripening friendship and in his heart eal ou sy
rew
into
hatred
and
hatred
whispered
to
him
f
o
g
revenge Hy acinthus excelled at all sports and when
he played quoits it was sheer j oy for Apollo w h o
loved all things beautiful to watch him as he stood
to throw the disc his taut muscles making him look
like Hermes ready to S purn the cumbering earth from
Further even than the god his friend
o ff his feet
could Hy acinthus throw and alway s his merry laugh
when he succeeded made the god feel that n or man n or
god c ould ever grow old And so there came that day
fore ordained by the Fates when Apollo and Hy acin
thus played a match toge ther Hyacinthus made a
valiant throw and Apollo took his place and cast the
discus high and far Hyacinthus ran forward eager to
measure the distance shouting with excitement over a
throw that had indeed been worthy of a god Thus did
Zephyrus gain his opportunity Swiftly through the
tree tops ran the murmuring South Wind and smote
the dis cus of Apollo with a cruel hand Against the
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

1 32

forehead of Hyacinthus it dashed smiting the locks that


lay upon it crashing through Skin and esh and bone
felling him to the earth Apollo ran towards him and
raised him in his arms But the head of Hy acinthus fell
over on the god s Shoulder like the head of a l ily whose
stem is broken The red blood gushed to the ground
an unquenchable stream and darkness fell on the ey es
of Hyacinthus and with the ow of his life s bl ood
his gallant young soul passed away

Woul d that I coul d die for thee Hy a c inthus !


cried the god his god s heart near breaking
I have
robbed thee of thy y outh Thine is the suffering mine

the crime I shall sing thee ever oh perfect friend !


And evermore shalt thou live as a ower that will speak
to the hearts of men of spring o f everlasting y outh

of life that lives forever


AS he spoke there sprang from the blood drop s at
his feet a cluster of owers blue as the sky in spring
yet hanging their heads as if in sorrow
And still w hen winter is ended and the song of
birds tell us of the promise of spring if we go to the
woods we nd traces of the vow of the sun god The
trees are budding in buds of rosy hue the willow branches
are decked with silvery catkins powdered with gold
The larches like slender dry ads wear a feathery garb of
tender gr een and under the trees of the woods the
primroses look up like fallen stars Along the wood
land path we go treading on fragrant pine needles and
,

ge d ay t h at
l tt r A i
Ala

th e

Le

on

th e

p tal
e

s of

th e

h ya c i th A p ll tra c rib d
n

ns

HYACINTHUS

1 33

the beech leaves of last y ear that have not y et lost


their radiant amber And at a turn of the way the
su n god suddenly shines through the great dark branche s
of the giants of the forest and before us lies a patch of
exquisite blue as though a god had robbed the sky
and torn from it a precious fragment that seems alive
and moving between the su n and the shadow
And as we look the su n caresses it and the S outh
Wind gently moves the little bell shaped owers of the
wild hyacinth as it softly sweeps across them So does
Hyacinthus live on ; s o do Apollo and Zephyrus still
love and mourn their friend
on

KING MIDAS O F THE G O LDEN T O UC H


the plays of Shakespeare we have three distin ct
divisions three separate volumes O ne deals w ith Tra
another
with
Comed
y
a
third
with
Histor
y
and
e dy
;
g
a mistake made b y the young in their aspe ct of
life is that they do the same thing and keep tragedy
and comedy severely apart relegating them to separate
volumes that so they think have nothing to do with
each other But those who have passed many mile
stones on the road know that History is the only
right l abel for the Book of Life s many parts an d
th at the a ctor s in the great play are in truth tragi c
comedians
This is the story of Midas on e of the c hief tragi c
c omedians of mythology
O nce upon a time the kingdom of Phry gia lacked a
king and in much perplexity the people sought help
from an oracle The answer was very denite
Th e rst man who enters y our c ity riding in a

c ar shall be y our king


That day there came S lowly j ogging into the city in
their heavy wooden wheeled wain the peasant Gordias
and his wife and son whose destination was the market
place and whose business was to sell the produce of their
little farm and vineyard fowls a goat or two and a
IN

1 34

KING MIDAS

1 35

c ouple of skin sfu l of strong purple red wine An eager


crowd awaited their entry and a loud shout of welcome
greeted them An d their ey es grew round and their
mouths fell open in amaze when they were hailed as
King and Queen and P rince of Phry gia
The gods had indeed b estowed upon Gordias the l ow
born peasant a surprising gift but he showed h is gratitude
by dedicating his wagon to the deity o f the oracle and
tying it up in its place w ith the wiliest knot that his
simple wisdom knew pulled as tight as his brawny arms
and strong rough hands c ould pull N or c ould anyone
untie the famous Gordian knot and therefore become
as the oracle promised lord of all Asia until centuries
had passed and Al exander the Great came to Phrygia and
Sliced through the knot with h is all conquering sword
In time Midas the son of Gordia s came to inherit
the throne and crown o f Phrygia Like many another
n ot born and bred to the purple h is honours sat heavily
upon him From the d ay that his father s wain ha d
entered the c ity amidst the a c clamations of the people
he had learned the value of power and therefore from
his boy hood onward power alway s more power was
what he coveted Also his peasant father had taught
him that gold c ould buy power and so Midas ever
longed for more gold that c oul d buy him a place in the
world that no descendant of a long race of kings should
be able to c ontest And from Olympus the gods looked
down and smiled and vowed that Midas shoul d have
th e chance o f realising his heart s desire
Therefore on e day when he and his c ou rt were sitting
-

A B OO K OF MYTHS

13 6

in the solemn state that Midas required there rode


into their midst tipsily swaying on the back of a gentle
full fed old grey ass ivy crow ned j ovial and foolish
the satyr Silenus guardian of the y oung god Bacchus
With all the deference due to the friend of a god
Midas treated this disreputable old pedagogue and for
ten days and nights on end he feasted him royally O n
the eleventh day Bacchus came in search of his p re ce p
tor and in deep gratitude bade Midas demand of him
what he would because he had done Silenus honour
when to dishonour him lay in his power
Not even for a moment did Midas ponder

I would have gold he said hastil y


much gold
I woul d have that touch by which all c ommon and

valueless things become golden treasures


And Bacchus knowing that here spoke the son of
peasants who many times had gone empty to bed after
a day of toilful striving on the rocky uplands of Phrygia
looked a little sadly in the eager face of Midas and
answered :
Be it as thou wilt Thine shall be the

golden touch
Then Bacchus and Silenus went away a rout of
singing revellers at their heels and Midas quickly put
to proof the words of Bacchus
An olive tree grew near where he stood and from it
he picked a little twig decked with leaves of softest grey
and 10 it grew heavy as he held it and glittered like a
piece of his crown He stooped to touch the green turf
on which some fragrant violets grew and turf grew into
cloth of gold and V iolets lost their fragrance and
,

KING MIDAS

1 37

became hard solid golden things He touched an


apple whose cheek grew rosy in the su n and at once i t
became like the golden fruit i n the Garden of the Hes
e rid es
The
stone
pillars
of his palace as he brushed
p
past them on entering blazed like a sunset sky The
gods had n ot deceived him Midas had the Golden
Touch Joy ou sl y he strode into the palace and com
m an de d a feast to be prepared a feast worthy of an
occasion so magnicent
But when Midas with the healthy appetite of the
peasant born would have eaten large ly of the savoury
food that his cooks prepared he found that his teeth
only touched roast kid to turn it into a slab of gold
that garlic lost its avour and became gritty as he
chewed that rice turned into golden grains and curdled
milk became a dower t for a prin c ess entirely unne
Bafed
and
miser
otiab l e for the digestion o f man
g
able Midas seized h is cup of W i ne but the red wine had
become on e with the golden vessel that held it ; nor could
he quench his thirst for even the limpid water from the
fountain was melted gold when it touched his dry lips
Only for a very few day s was Midas able to bear the
afiction o f his wealth There was nothing now for
h im to live for
He coul d buy the whole earth if he
pleased but even children shrank in terror from his
touch and hungry and thirsty and sick at heart he
wearily dragged along h is weighty robes of gold Gold
was power he knew well yet of what worth was gold
while he starved !
Gold could not buy him life and
health and happiness
,

A BOO K OF MYTHS

1 38

In despair at length he cried to the god who had


given him the gif t that he hated

Save me O Bacchus ! he said


A witless on e
am I and the folly of my desire has been my undoing
Take away from me the a c cursed Golden Tou ch and

faithfully and well Shall I serve thee forever


Then Bacchus very pitiful for him told Midas to go to
Sardis the chief city of his worshippers and to trace to its
source the river upon which it was built And in that
pool when he found it he was to plunge his head and so
he woul d for evermore be freed from the Golden Touch
It was a long j ourney that Midas then took and a
weary and a starving man was he when at length he
reached the spring where the river Pactolus had its
source He crawled forward an d timidly plunged in his
head and S houlders
Al most he expected to fee l the
harsh grit of golden water but instead there was the j oy
he had known as a peasant boy when he laved his face
and drank at a c oo l spring when his day s toi l was ended
And when he raised his face from the pool he knew that
his hateful power had passed from him but under the
water he saw grains of gold glittering in the sand and from
that time forth the river Pactolus was noted for its gold
One lesson the peasant king had l earnt b y pay ing in
suffering for a mistake but there was y et more suffering
in store for the tragic comedian
He had now no wish for golden riches nor even for
power He wished to lead the simple life and to listen
to the pipings of Pan along with the goatherds on the
mountains or the wild creature s in the woods Thus
,

KING MIDAS

139

it befell that he was present on e day at a contest between


Pan and Apollo himself It was a day of merry making
for ny mphs and fauns and dry ads and all those who
lived in the l onely solitudes of Phry gia came to listen to
the music of the god w h o ruled them For as Pan sat
in the S hade of a forest on e night and piped on his reeds
until the very Shadows danced and the water of th e
stream by which he sat leapt high over the mossy stone s
it passed and laughed aloud in its glee the god had so
gloried in his own power that he cried
Who speaks of Apollo and his ly re
Some of the
gods may be well pleased with his music and mayhap
a bloodless man or two But my music strikes to the
heart of the earth itse lf It stirs with rapture the very
and awakes to life and j oy the inner
sap o f the trees

most soul o f all things mortal


Apollo heard his boast and heard it angrily
O h thou whose sou l is the soul o f the unti ll ed
ground
he said
wouldst thou place thy music that
is like the wind in the reeds beside my musi c which is
as the music o f the spheres
And Pan splashing with his goat s feet amongst the
water lilies of the stream o n the bank o f which he sat
laughed l oudly and cried
Yea would I Apollo
Wil lingly woul d I play thee

a match thou on thy golden l yre I on my reeds fro m

the river
Thus did it c ome to pass that Apollo and Pan
mat ched against each other their musi c and King Midas
was on e of the judge s
-

A B O O K OF MYTHS

1 40

First of all Pan took his fragile reeds and as he


play ed the leaves on the trees shivered and the sleeping
lilies raised their heads and the birds ceased their song
to listen and then ew straight to their mates And al l
the beauty of the world grew m ore beautiful and all
its terror grew y et more grim and still P an piped
on and laughed to se e the nymphs and the fauns rst
dance in j oy ousness and then tremble in fear and the
buds to blossom and the stags to bellow in their lord
ship o f the hills When he ceased it was as though
a tensely drawn s tring had broken and al l the earth
lay breathless and mute
And Pan turned proudl y
to the golden haired god who had listened as he had
spoken through the hearts of reeds to the hearts of
men
Canst then make music like unto my musi c
Apollo
he said
Then Apollo his purple robes barely hiding the
perfection of his limbs a wreath of laurel crowning his
y ellow c urls l ooked down at Pan from his godlike
height and smiled in silence For a moment his hand
S ilently play ed over the golden strings of his ly re and
then his n ge r tips gently tou ched them And every
creature there who had a soul felt that that soul had
wings and the wings sped them straight to O lympus
Far away from all earth bound creatur es they ew
and dwelt in magnicent serenity amongst the Im m or
tals No longer w a s there strife or any dispea c e No
more was there erce warring between the actual and
the unk nown The green eld s and thick woods had
,

KING MIDAS

141

faded into nothingness and their creatures and th e


fair ny mphs and dry ads and the wild fauns and centaurs
longed and fought n o more and man had ceased to
desire the impossible Throbbing nature and passion
ately desiring life faded into dust before the melody
that Apollo call ed forth and when his strings had
ceased to quiver and only the faintly remembered echo
it was as though the earth h ad
of his music remained
passed away and all things had become new
For the space of many se c onds all was silen c e
Then in low voice Apol lo asked
Ye who listenwho is the victor
And earth and se a and sky and all the creatures of
earth and sky and of the deep replied as one

The victory is thine Divine Apollo


Yet was there on e dissentient voice
Midas sorely puzzled utterly u n understanding was
relieved when the music of Apollo ceased
If only

Pan would play again he murmured to himself


I
wish to live and Pan s music gives me life I love the
woolly vine buds and the fragrant pine leaves and the
scent of the violets in the spring The smell of the fresh
ploughed earth is dear to me the breath of the kine
that have grazed in the meadows of wild parsley and of
asphodel I want to drink red wine and to eat and
love and ght and work and be j oy ous and sa d erce and
strong and very weary and to sleep the dead sleep of

men w h o live only as weak mortals do


Therefore he raised his voice and called very loud :
Pan s music is sweeter and truer and greater than th e
,

A B O O K O F MYTHS

1 42

Apollo Pan is the vi ctor and I King Midas


give him the V ictor s crown
With scorn ineffable the sun god turned upon Midas
his peasant s face tran sgu re d by his proud decision
For a little he gazed at him in silen c e an d his l ook
m ight have turne d a su nbeam to an icicle
Then he spoke :

The cars of an ass have hea rd my musi c he s ai d

Hen c eforth shall Midas have ass s ears


And when Midas in terror clapped his hands to hi s
crisp black hair he found growing far beyond it th e
long pointed ears of an ass Perhaps what hurt him
most as he ed away was the shout of merriment that
came from Pan
An d faun s and ny mphs an d satyrs
echoed that shout most j oyously
Willingl y would he have hidden in the woods b u t
there he found no hiding pla c e The trees and shrub s
and owering thing s seemed to shake in cruel mo ckery
Back to his court he went and sent for the c ourt hair
dresser that he might bribe him to devise a covering
for these long peaked hairy sy mbols of his folly
Gladly the hairdresser accepted many and many oboli
many and many golden gifts and all Phrygia wondered
while it copied the strange headdress of the king
But although much gold had bought his silence the
court barber was unquiet of heart All day and a ll
through the night he wa s tormented by his w eight y
secret
And then at len gth silence was to him a
torture too great to be borne ; he sought a lonely place
there dug a deep hole and kneeling b y it softl y

m usic

of

KING MIDAS

143

whispered to the d amp earth


King Midas has ass s

ears
Greatl y relieved he hastened home and was well
c ontent un til on th e S pot where his se c ret lay buried
rushes grew u p And when the winds bl ew through
them the rushes whispered for all those who passed
b y to hear
King M ida s has ass s ears ! K ing Mi das
has ass s ea rs
Those who l isten very c arefully to
w hat the green rushes in marshy places whisper as the
wind passes through them m ay hear the same thing to
this day And those who hear the whisper of the rushes
m ay p erhaps give a pit y ing thought to Midas the
tragic comedian of my thology

CEYX AN D HALCY ONE


St

M arti

n s su m

r h a l cy
,

on

d ay

King Hen ry V I,

13 1

2,

H A L CY O N days how often is the expression made


use of how seldom do its users realise from when c e
the y have borrowed it
These we re halcy on day s say s the old man and
his memory wanders back to a time when for him
,

All th w rl d i y g lad
d a ll th tr s
gr ;
e

An

ee

An d
An d

e
e

oun

are

o ose

ss

e en

v ry g
a wa
v ry la a qu
e

n,

een

l ad ,

Yet the story of Halcy one is one best to be under


stood by the heavy hearted woman who wanders along the
bleak sea beach and strains her weary ey es for the brown
sa il of the sh in g boat that will never more return
Over the kingdom of Thessaly in the day s of long
ago there reigned a king whose name was Ce y x son of
Hesperus the Day Star and almost as radiant in grace
and beauty as was his father His wife was the fair
Halcyone daughter of ZE ol u s ruler of the winds and
most perfectly did this king and queen love on e another
Their happiness was unmarred u ntil there came a day
when Ceyx had to mourn for the loss of a brother
Following close on the heels o f this disaster came direful
-

1 44

CEYX AND HALCY ONE

14 5

p rodigie s which led Ceyx to fear that in so m e way he


must have incurred the hostility of the gods To him
there was n o way in whi ch to discover wherein lay his
fault and to make atonement for it but b y going to
consul t the oracle o f Apollo at Claros in Ionia When
he told Halcy one what he must do she knew well that
sh e must not try to turn him from his solemn purpose
y et there hung over her heart a black shadow of fear
an d of evil forebodin g that n o l oving words of assur
an c e c ould drive away Most piteously sh e begged him
to take her with him but the king knew too well the
dangers of the treacherous ZEgean Sea to risk on it the
life of the woman that he l oved so well

I pro mise he said


by the rays of my Father
th e D ay Star that if fate permits I will return before the
moon shal l have twice rounded her or
Down by the shore the sailors of King Ceyx awaited
hi s c omin g and when with passionately tender love he
an d Hal cy one had tak en farewell of each other the
rowers sat down on the ben ches and di p ped their long
c ars into the water
With rh ythmi c sw ing they drove the great ship over
the grey sea whil e Cey x stood on deck and gazed ba ck at
his wife u ntil his ey e s could n o longer distinguish her
from the rocks on the shore nor c ould sh e any longer
see the white sail s of the ship as it creste d the restles s
waves Heavier still was her heart when sh e turned
away from the shore and y et more heavy it grew as the
day wore on and dark night descended For the air was
full of the clamorous wailings of th e er c e winds whos e
.

A B O O K O F MYTH S

146

j oy it is to lash the waves into rage and to strew with


dead men and broken timber the angry surf beaten shore

My King sh e sighed to herself


My King my

O wn !
An d through the weary hours sh e pray ed to
the gods to bring him safely back to her and many
times she offered fragrant incense to Juno protectress of
women that sh e might have pity on a woman whose
husband and true lover was ou t in the storm a p laything
for ruthl ess winds and waves
A hel pless p l aything was the king of Thessaly Long
ere the dim evening light had made of the shore of
his ow n land a faint grey l ine the white maned horses
Poseidon king of the seas began to rear their
of
heads and as night fell a black curtain blotting out
every landmark and all home like things the East
Wind rushed across the ZEgean Sea smiting the se a
horses into madness sei zing the sails with cruel grasp
and casting them in tatters before it snapp ing the
mast as though it were but a dry reed by the river
Before so mighty a tempest no oars coul d be of any
avail and for a little time only the w inds and waves
gambolled like a half sated wolf pack over their helpless
prey With hun gry roar the great weight of black
water stove in the de ck and swept the sailors ou t of the
ship to choke them in its icy depths ; and ever it woul d
lift the wounded thing high up on its foaming white
crests as though to toss it to the dark sky and ever
again would suck it down into the blackness while the
shrieking winds drove it onward with howling taunts
and mo cking laughter While life stay ed in him Ceyx
-

CEYX AND HAL CY ONE

147

thought only of Halcyone He had no fear only the fear


of the grief his death must bring to her who loved him
His
as he l oved her his peerl ess queen his Halcy one
pray ers to the gods were prayers for her For himse lf

he asked on e thing only that the waves might h ear


his body to her sight so that her gentle hands might lay
him in his tomb With shout of triumph that they
had slain a king w inds and waves seized him even as
he pray ed and the Day Star that was hidden behind
the black pall of the sky knew that his son a brave king
and a faithful l over had gone down to the Shades
W hen Dawn the rosy n gered had c ome to Thessaly
Halcyone white faced and tired eyed anxiously watched
the sea that still was tos sing in half savage mood
Eagerly sh e gazed at the pla c e where last the white sail
had been seen Was it n ot p ossible that Ceyx havin g
Weathered the gale might for the pre sent have foregone
his voyage to Ionia and was returning to her to bring
pea ce to her heart
But the sea bea c h was strewn with
wrac k an d the winds still ble w bits of tattered surf along
the shore an d for her there was only the heav y labour
of waiting of waiting and of watching for the ship that
never c ame The in cense from her altars blew out in
heavy s weetness to meet the bitter sweet tang of th e
seaweed that was ca rried in by the tide for Hal cyone
prayed on fearful yet hoping that her prayers might
still keep safe her manher king her lover She busied
herself in laying ou t the garments he would wear on hi s
return and in choosing the clothes in which sh e might
be faire st in his eyes This robe a s b lu e a s the sky in
.

A B O O K O F MYTH S

148

springsilver bordered as the sea in k ind mood i s


bordered with a feathe ry silver fringe She c ould re c all
just h ow Ceyx looked when rst he saw her wear it
She c ould hear his very tones as he told her that of all
queens sh e was the peeress of all women the mo st
beautiful of all wives the most dear Al most sh e forgot
the horrors of the night so c ertain did it seem that his
dear voice must soon again tell her the word s that have
been l ove s litany sin c e ever time began
In the ears of Juno those petitions for him whose
dead body was even then being tossed hither an d
thither by the restless waves his murderers came at
last to be more than even sh e could bear She gave
command to her handmaiden Iris to go to the pala c e
god of S leep and brother of Death and to
of S on m u s
bi d him s end to Halcyone a vi sion in the form of Ceyx
to tell her that all her weary waiting was in vain
In a valley among the bla ck Cimmerian mountains
the death god S omnus had hi s abode In her rainbow
hued robes Iris darted through the sky at her m istre ss s
biddin g tingeing as sh e sped through them the cl ou ds
that sh e passed It was a silent vall ey that sh e rea ched
at last Here the su n never c ame nor was there ever
any sound to break the silence From the ground the
noiseless grey clouds whose work it is to hide the sun
and moon rose softly and rolled away up to the moun
tain tops and down to the lowest val leys to work the
will of the gods Al l aroun d the cave lurk ed the long
dark shadows that bring fear to the heart of children
and that at nightfall hasten the s teps of the timid
-

CEYX AND HALCY ONE

149

Wayfarer N o noise was there but from far down the


valley there came a mur mur so faint and so innitely
soothing that it was less a sound than of a lullaby
remembered in dreams
For past the valley of Sleep
ow the waters of Lethe the river of Forgetfulness
Close up to the door of the cave where dwelt the twin
brothers Sleep and Death blood red poppies grew and
at the door itself stood shadowy form s their ngers on
their lips enj oining silence on all those who woul d enter
in amaranth crown ed and softly waving sheaves of
poppies that bring dreams from which there i s n o
awakening There was there n o gate with hinges to
creak or bars to clang and into the stilly d arkness Iris
walked unhindered From outer cave to inner cave sh e
went and each c ave sh e l eft behind was less dark than
the on e that sh e entered In the innermost room of all
on an eb ony c ouch draped with sable cur tains the god
His garments were bla ck strewn
of s l eep lay drowsing
with golden stars A wreath of half opened poppies
crowned his sleepy head and he leaned on the strong
shoulder of Morpheus hi s favourite son Al l round his
bed hovered pleasant dreams gently stooping over him
to whisper their messages like a eld of wheat swayed
by the breeze or willows that h ow their silver heads and
murmur to each other the secrets that no on e ever knows
Brushing the idle dreams aside as a ray of sunshine b ru she s
away the grey wisps of mist that hang to the hillside
Iris walked up to the couch where Somnus lay The
light from her rainbow hued robe lit up the darkness of
the c ave yet Somnus lazily only half opened his eyes
.

A B OOK O F MYTH S

15 0

move d his head so that it rested more easily and in a


sleepy voice asked of her what might be her errand

Somnus sh e said
gentlest of gods tranquilli s er of
min d s and soother of c areworn hearts Juno s ends y ou
her com mands that y ou d espatch a dream to Halcyone
in the city of Tra ch in e representing her l ost hu sb an d

an d al l the event s of the wre ck


Her message del ivered Iris hastene d away for it
seeme d to her that already her eyelids grew heavy an d
that there were c reeping upon her limbs throwing si lver
dust in her eyes lulling into peaceful slumber her min d
those sprites born of the blood red poppies that brin g
to weary mortals rest and sweet forgetfulness
O nly rousing himse lf suf ciently to give his ord ers
S omnus entrusted to Morpheus the task imposed upon
him by Juno and then with a yawn turned over on his
d owny p illow and gave himself up to exquisite slumb er
When he had winged his way to Trach in e Morpheus
took upon himself the form of Ceyx and sought the roo m
where Hal cyone slept S he had watched the far hori
zon many hours that d ay For many an hour ha d sh e
vain ly burned in c ense to the gods Tired in heart an d
soul in b ody an d in mind sh e laid hers elf down on
her c ouch at last hoping for the gift of slee p N ot
long had sh e slept in the dead still sleep that wearines s
and a stri cken heart bring with them when Morpheus
c ame and stood b y her side H e was only a dream
yet his face was the fa c e of C eyx Not the radiant
beautiful son of the Day S tar was the C eyx who stoo d
b y her n ow and ga zed on her with piteous pitying dead
,

CEYX AND HALCY ONE

151

eye s His clothing dripped sea water ; in his hair was


tangled the weed of the sea uprooted b y the storm
Pale pale was his face and his white hands grip p ed the
stones and sand that had fail ed him in his dying agony
Halcy one whimpered in h er sl eep as sh e looked on
him and Morpheus stooped ove r her an d sp oke the
word that he had been told to say
I am thy husband Ceyx Hal cyone N o m ore do
prayers and the blue c urling smoke of incense avail me
Dead am I slain by the storm and the waves O n my
dead white face the skies look down and the restless sea
tosses my chill body that still seeks thee seeking a haven

in thy dear arms seeking rest on thy warm loving heart


With a cry Halcyone started up but Morpheus had
e d and there were no wet footprints nor drops of se a
water on the oor marking as sh e had hoped the way
that her l ord had taken Not again d id Sleep visit her
that night
A gre y col d morning dawn ed and foun d her on th e
seashore As ever her eyes sought the far horizon
but n o white sail a messenger of hope wa s there to
greet her
Yet surely sh e saw something a b lack
spe ck like a ship driven on by the long c ars of mariners
who knew well the path to home through the watery
ways From far away in the grey it hasted towards
her and then there c ame to Hal cyone the knowledge
that n o ship was this thing but a lifeless body swept
onward s by the hurrying waves Nearer and nearer it
c ame until at l ength sh e c ould re c ognise the form of this
otsam an d j etsam of the sea With heart that b roke
-

A B OO K

15 2

O F MYTH S

ttered the words sh e stretched ou t her arms and


c ried aloud :
O Ceyx ! my Beloved ! i s it thus that
thou retu rn e st to me
To break the er c e a s saults of sea an d of storm there
ha d been built ou t from the S hore a mole and on to thi s
barrier l eapt the distraught Halcyone S he ran a l ong
it an d when the d e ad white body of the man sh e l oved

s
h
e
prayed her l ast prayer a
w a s still ou t of reach
wordl ess prayer o f anguish to the god s

O nly let me get near him sh e breathe d


Grant
only that I n est l e close against his dear breast Let m e
show him that l iving or d ead I am hi s an d he m ine

forever
An d to Ha lcyone a great miracle was then vou ch
safe d for from ou t of her s nowy shoulders grew snow
white pinions and with them sh e skimmed over the
wave s until sh e rea c hed the rigid body of Ceyx drifting
a hel p l ess burden for the conquering waves in with the
swift ow in g tide As sh e ew sh e uttered cries of
l ove and of l onging but only strange rau c ous c ries c ame
from the throat that had on c e only made m usic And
when sh e reached the body of Ceyx and would fain have
kissed his marble lips Hal cyone found that n o longer
were her o wn lips like the petals of a fair red rose
warmed by the su n For the gods had heard her prayer
and her horny b eak seemed to the watchers on the shore
to be ercely tearing at the fa c e of hi m w h o had b een
king of Thessaly
Yet the gods were n ot m er c i l e s sor p erhaps th e
love of Halcyone w a s an all c onquering l ove For a s
a s sh e u

CEYX AND HAL CY O NE

153

th e

soul of Halcyone had passed into the body of a


white winged se a bird so also passed the soul of her
husband the king And for evermore Hal cyone and
her mate known as the Hal c yon bird s deed the storm
an d tempest
and proudly breasted side b y si d e the
angriest waves of the raging seas
To them too did the gods grant a boon : that for
seven days before the shortest day o f the year and for
seven days after it there should reign over the sea a
great c alm in which Hal cyone in her oating nest
shoul d hatch her young , An d to those days of calm
and sunshine the name of th e Halcyon Days was given
And still as a storm approaches the white winged
bird s c ome ying inland with shrill c ries of warning to
the mariners whose ships they pass in their ight
Ceyx
they cry
Remember Ceyx
And hastily the shermen ll their s ails and th e
smacks drive homeward to the haven where the blue
smoke curls upwards from the chin m ey s of their home
steads and where the red poppie s are nodding s leepi ly
amongst the yellow c orn
-

bir d
g r at
m ak i
halcy

Th e k i n g sh e r

th
ly k w
r ea l H a lcyo
O f i t S crat s ay
r c iv d
Th bir d i s
t g r at b t it h
h
r fr m th g d b ca e O f it l vi g e s ; f whi l e it i
g it e t al l th w rl d h th happy d ay whi ch it ca ll
i d e x c e ll i g al l th r s i th e ir ca lm e

N ote

on ou

on

ae,

s :

is

om

m on
e

as

no

us

no

as
e

ss.

as

or

s
s

ARISTZEUS

THE BEE KE E P ER
-

v ry
d i w t;
Myria d f rive r s h rry i g thr th l aw
Th m a
fd v
i i mm m ria l lms
A d m ur m ri g f i
m rab l b s TE NN Y S ON
E

s ou n

s s

ee

s o

n o

es
o

nnu

n,

e
e

ee

IN

the fragrance of the b l ossom of the l imes the bee s


are gleaning a luscious harvest Their busy humming
sounds like the surf on a reef heard from very far away
and would almost lull to sleep those who lazily drowsily
spend the sunny summer afternoon in the shadow of
the trees That line of bee hives by the sweet pea hedge
shows where they store their treasure that men may
rob them of it but out on the uplands where the heather
is purple the wild bees hum in and ou t of the honey
laden bells and carry home their s poils to their o wn
free fastnesses from whi ch none c an drive them unless
there c omes a foray against them from the brown men
of the moor s
H ow many of us who watch their ardent labours

know the story of Ar ist aeus h e who rst brought the


art of bee keeping to perfe ction in his own dear land of
Gree c e and whose followers are those men in veils of
blue and green that motley throng who beat re irons
and create a hideous clamou r in order that the queen
bee and her ex c ited followers m ay be c he cked in their
.

15 4

ARISTZEUS

155

p eril ous voyagings and beguiled to swarm in the s anc


tu ary of a hive
Ar ist aeus was a S hepherd the son of Cyrene a water
nymph and to him there had come on e day as he listened
to the wild bees humming amongst the wild thyme the
great thought that he might conquer these busy workers
and make their toil his gain He knew that hollow trees
or a hole in a roc k were used as the storage houses o f
their treasure and so the wily shepherd lad provided
for them the homes he knew that they would c ovet and
near them placed all the foo d that they most desired
Soon Arist aeus be c ame noted as a tamer of bees and even
in Olympus they spoke o f his honey as a thing that was
food for the go d s All might have gone well with Aris
t ecus ha d there not c ome for him the fateful day when
he saw the beautiful Eury dice and to her lost his heart
She ed before the ery protestations of his love and
trod upon the serpent whose bite brought her d own to
the Shades The gods were angry with Arist aeus and
a s pun ishment they slew his bee s
His hives stood
empty and silent and n o more did the murmuring of
innumerable bees drowse the ears of the herds who
wat ched their ocks cropping the red clover and the
a sp hodel of the meadows
Underneath the swift owin g water of a deep river
th e nymph who was the mother of Aristwu s sat on her
throne Fishes darted round her white feet and beside
her sat her attendants spinning the ne strong green
c ords that twine themselves round the throats of those
who perish when their arms c an no longer ght against
.

A B OOK O F MYTH S

15 6

the for c e of the rushing current A nymph sang a s sh e


worked an ol d ol d song that told on e of the ol d ol d
tales of man s weakness and the power of the creatures
of water but above her song those w h o listene d hea rd
a man s voi c e c alling loudly and pitifully
The voice was that of Arist aeu s c allin g al ou d for his
m other Then his mother gave c ommand and the
waters of the river rolled asunder and let Arist aeus pass
down far bel ow to where the fountain s of the great
rivers l ie A mighty roar of many waters dinned in his
ears as the rivers started on the ra c e that was to bring
the m a ll at l ast to their restless haven the Oc ean To
Cyrene he c ame at l en gth an d to her tol d hi s s orrowful
tale
To m en who l ive their l ittl e l ives an d work an d

die as I myse lf though son of a nymph an d of a g od


must do he said
I have brought two great gift s
o h my mother
I have taught them that from the gre y
olives they can reap a priceless harvest and from m e
they have l earned that the little brown bees that hum
in and ou t of the owers may be made slaves that bring
to the m the S weetest ri ches of which Nature may be

robbed

This do I already know my son said Cyrene and


smil ed upon Arist aeus

Yet dost thou not know


said Aristmu s
th e
doom that has overtaken my army o f busy workers
No longer doe s there c ome from my city of bees the
boom of m any wings and many busy little feet as they
y swift and strong hither and thither to bring ba ck
.

ARISTZEUS

1 57

the hive s their honeyed treasure The c omb is empty

The bees are all dead or if n ot dead th ey have for

s aken me forever

Then spoke C yrene


Hast heard my son
she
sai d
of P roteus !
It is he who herds the o ck s of
the b ound less se a O n days when the South Wind and
the North Wind wrestle together and when the Wind
from the East smites the West Wind in shame before
him thou mayst see hi m raise his snowy head an d long
white beard above the grey green waves o f the sea
and l ash the white maned unbridled er c e sea horses
into fury before him Proteus onlynone but Proteus
can tell thee by what art thou c an st win thy b ee s

ba ck on c e more
Then Ar ist aeus with eagerness questioned his mother
h ow he might nd P roteus and gain from hi m the
knowledge that he sought an d C yrene answered
No
matter how piteously thou dost entrea t him never
save by for c e wilt thou gain his se cret from Proteus
Onl y if thou c anst chain h im by gu ile as he sl eep s and
hol d fast the c hains undaunted by the shapes into whi c h
he has the power to change hi mse lf wilt thou w in his

knowledge from him


Then Cyrene sprin kled her son with the ne ctar of
the deathless gods and in his heart there was born a
nobl e c ourage and through him a new l ife s eemed to ru n

Lead me n ow to Proteus oh my mother ! he


s ai d and Cyrene left her throne and led him to the
cave where Proteus herdsman of the seas had his
dwelling Behind the seaweed c overed ro cks Aristaeus

to

A B OO K O F MYTH S

15 8

c on cealed himself while the nymph used the e e cy clou d s


An d when Apollo drove his chariot
for her covering
a cros s the high heavens at noon and all land and all sea
were hot as molten gold P roteus with his o ck s return ed
to the shade of his great cave by the sobbing sea an d on
its sandy oor he stret ched himself and soon lay hi s
limbs all l ax and restful in the exquisite j oy of a dream
less sleep From behind the rocks Arist aeu s wat che d
him and when at length he saw that Proteu s sl ept too
soundly to wake gently he stepped forward and on the
S leep drowsed limbs of Proteus xed the fetters that
made him his c aptive Then in j oy an d pride at having
been the un doin g of the shepherd of the seas Arist aeus
shouted aloud And Proteus awak ing swiftly turned
himself into a wild boar with white tusks that luste d
to thrust themselves into the thighs of Arist aeus But
Arist aeus uninching kept his rm hold of the chain
Next did he be c ome a tiger tawny and velvet black
and er c e to devour And still Arist aeus he ld the chain
and never l et his eye fall before the glare of the
beast that s ought to devour him A scaly dragon c ame
next b reathing ou t ame s and yet Arist aeus held him
Then c ame a lion its yellow pelt scented with the lust
of k il lin g
and while Arist aeus yet strove against him
there came to terrify his listening ears the sound of re
that l apped u p and thirstily devoured all thin gs that
would stand against it An d ere the crackle of the
ames and their great sigh of er c e desire had ceased
there came in his ears the sound of many waters the
booming ru sh of an angry river in furious ood the irre
,

ARISTZEUS

159

c ommand of the almighty waves of the s ea Yet


still Ar ist aeus held the chains and at last Proteus took
his own shape again and with a sigh like the sigh of
winds and waves on the desolate pla c es where ships become
wrecks and m en perish and there is never a human s oul
to save or to pity them he spoke to Arist aeus
Puny one
he said
and puny are thy wishes !
B e c ause thou didst by thy foolish wooing send the
beautiful Eurydi c e s wiftly down to the Shades and
break the heart of O rpheus whose music is the music of
the Immortals the bees that thou hast treasured have
left their hives empty and silent So little are the bees
0 Ar ist aeus the bliss or woe of O rpheus and
so great
Eurydice ! Yet because by guile thou hast won the
power to gain from me the knowledge that thou dost
hearken to me now Arist aeus ! Four bulls must
seek
thou n d four cows of equal beauty Then must thou
build in a leafy grove four altars and to O rpheus and
Eurydi c e pay such funeral honours as may allay their
resentment At the end of nine days when thou hast
ful lled thy piou s task return and s ee what the gods

have sent thee

This will I d o mo st faithfully O Proteus said


Arist aeus and gravely loosened the chains an d returned
to where his mother awaited him and then c e trave lled
to his own sunn y land of Gree c e
Most faithfully as he had said did Ar ist aeus perform
hi s v ow An d when on the ninth day he returned to
the grove of sacrice a sound greeted him which made
his heart stop and then go on beating and throbbing as
sistib l e

A B O O K O F MYTHS

1 60

the heart of a man w h o has s triven valiantly in a great


ght and to whom the battle is assured
For from the carcase of on e of the animal s offered
for sa cri ce and whose clea n white bones now gleamed
in the rays of the su n that for c e d its way through the
thick shade of the grove of grey ol ives there c ame th e

murmuring of innumerable bees


Out of the eater c ame forth meat ou t of th e stron g

c a m e forth sweetness
And Arist aeus a S amson of the ol d Greek days
rej oi c ed e xcee d ingly knowing that his thoughtless sin
was pardoned and that for evermore to him belonged
the p ride of giving to all men the power of taming bee s
the glory of masterin g the l ittle brown creatures that
pillage from the fragrant b right hued owers their
most pre c ious treasure
.

PR O SERPINE

S a cr d G dd

M th r E arth
fr m w h i mm rt l b m
Th
G d
d m
d b a t hav birth
d b d
m
L e af
d b la d
d bl
B r ath thi i c m t d ivi e
O thi e w c hi ld P r os e rp i e
o

s, an

e n , an

e , an

an

os e

en

e s s,

ne

u en

oso

s s

o sso

an

os

If with m i t f v i g d w
Th d t ri h th y u g we r s
Til l th y g r w i c t d h
Fair s t chi ld r f th h ur
B r ath thi i c m t d ivi
w
c hild P ro rp i
S H E EY
O thi
s s o

ou

os

n ou

ne o

s en

en o

ne

o se

en n

uen

ue,

an

s,

os

se

ne

ne

LL

story of Persephone of Proserpine is a story of


When the su n is warming th e bare brown earth
spring
an d the pale primroses l oo k up through the snowy bla ck
thorns at a kin d b lue sky almost c an We hear the soft
wind murmur a name as it gently s ways the da ffodils
and b reathes through the honey sweetness of the gol d
powdered catkins on the grey willows by the river
Persephone Per sephone
N ow on c e there Wa s a time when there was n o s pring
neither summer n or autu mn nor chilly winter with
its b lac k frosts an d crue l gales and brief d ark days
Always was there sunshine an d warmth ever were there
owers and corn an d fruit and nowhere did the owers
THE

1 61

A B OOK O F MYTH S

1 62

row
with
more
d
azzling
c
o
l
ours
and
m
ore
fra
g
rant
e
r
p
g
fume than in the fair garden of Si c ily
To D emeter the Earth Mother was born a daughter
m ore fair than any ower that grew and ever more d ear
to her be came her child the lovely P roserpine B y the
b lue sea i n the Si cilian meadows Proserpine and the fair
nymphs wh o were her c ompanions spent their happy days
Too short were the days for all their j oy and Demeter
made the earth yet fairer than it was that sh e might
brin g more gladness to her d aughter Pro serp ine Ea ch
d ay the blossoms that the nymphs twined into garl an d s
grew more perfe ct in form and in hue but fro m the
anemone s of royal purp le and crimson and the riotous
re d o f geraniums Pro s erpine turned one mornin g with
a c ry of gladness for there stoo d before her beside
a little stream on on e ere ct slim stem a wonderful
narc issus with a hundred blo ssoms Her eager hand
w as stret c hed ou t to pluck it when a s udden b l a ck cl oud
overshadowed the l and and the nymphs with shrie ks of
fea r ed swiftly away And as the cloud descende d
there was heard a terrible sound as of the ru shing of
many waters or the roll of the heavy wheels of the
c hariot of on e who c omes to slay Then was the earth
cleft open and from it there arose the four c oal b l a ck
horses of Pluto neighing aloud in their eagerness while
the dark browed god urged them on standing ere ct in his
car of gold
.

c al b la ck h r ri e th ey ri
0 m t h r m th r ! l w h c ri e s
P e r p h eP e r s ep h o e
Th e

o se s

se

on

se

PR O SERPINE

1 63

l i ght l ig ht l i ght ! h e cri e s far e w ell


wait f m e
Th e c a l b l a ck h r
O had f ha d e s wh r e I m t d w ll
fr m th e e
D e m e t r m th r f

o se s

e o

us

or

ar

In c old stron g arms P luto seized her in that mighty


grasp that will not be denie d and Pro serpine wept
c h il di sh tear s a s sh e shivered at hi s i cy tou ch and
sobbed be c aus e she had dropped the OWers sh e had
p i ck ed and had never pi cked the OWer sh e most de
s ired Whil e still sh e saw the fair light of day the little
Oddly shaped ro cky hills the vineyards and olive groves
she did not lose hope
an d owery m eadow s of Si c ily
Su rely the Kin g of Terror s c oul d not steal on e so young
She had only tasted the j oy Of
so happy and so fair
l iving and fain she woul d drin k deeper in the c oming

years H er mother must surely save her her mother

ha
d
never
yet
faile
d
her
her mother and the g ods
wh o
B ut ruthl es s as the m ower whose s cythe cuts down
th e s eeded gras s and the half Opened OWe r an d l ays
them in Sw athes on the m eadow Pluto drove on His
iron c ol oured reins were loose on the bla ck manes of his
horses and he urged them forwar d by name till the
froth ew from their mouths like the foam that the
furious surf of the sea d rives before it in a storm A cross
the bay and along the b ank of the river An apu s they
gall oped until at the river head they c ame to the pool
He smote the Water w ith his trident an d
of Cyane
downward into the bla ckness of darkness his horse s
passed and Prosperine knew no more the pleasant
light of d ay
J a I g l w
,

e n

e o

A B OOK O F MYTH S

1 64

Wha t ail h e that Sh e com e ot h om e !


far d wi d e
D m e t r ee k h
A d g l my br w e d d th c a s l s r a m
F r m m a y a m m ti ll v ti d
My l if im m rta l th gh it b e
Is
g ht h c ri e f wa t f th e e
P e r ep h o e P e r s p h
s

oo

s n

n ou

e es

en

ou

e,

an

er

s,

or

on e

S o to the great E arth Mother c ame the pangs that


have drawn tears of blood from many a mortal m other s
h eart for a c hil d b orne OHto the Sha d e s
,

My l ife i
P rs epho

s no

ne

u ght f wa t
or

th

e e,

Th e

c ry is borne d own through the ages to e ch o and re


e cho so long a s mothers love and Death is still un c hained
Over lan d an d sea from where D awn the rosy
n gere d rise s in th e East to where Apol l o c ool s the
ery wheels of his chariot in the water s of far western
s ea s th e god dess sought her daughter With a bla ck
robe over her hea d and c arry ing a aming torch in either
h an d for nine dreary days sh e sought her loved on e
An d y et for nine more weary days and nine sleeple s s
ra cke d by human s orrow sat in
n i ghts the g o dd e s s
Th e h ot su n beat upon her by day
h op e l ess mise ry
B y night th e s ilver ray s from D iana s c ar smote her more
gent ly an d th e de w d ren c hed her hair an d her bla ck
garments and m ingled with the saltness of her bitter
tears At the grey d awn ing of the tenth day her e l der
d aughter H e c ate s too d b e s i de h er Queen of ghosts and
sha des was sh e and to her all dark p l aces of the earth
were known

Let us go to the Sun God said H ecate


Surely
,

PROS E RP IN E

1 65

he hath seen the god who stole away the l ittle Proser
pine Soon his chariot will drive across the heavens
Come let us ask him to gu i d e us to the p l a c e where she

is hidden
Thu s did they c ome to th e c hariot o f th e gl orious
Apollo and standing by the heads of his horses like
two grey cl ouds that bar the passage o f the su n they
begged him to tel l the m th e name of hi m wh o ha d stolen
fair Proserpine

said Apollo
than Pluto
N O less a thief wa s he
King of Darkness an d robber of Life itself Moum
Demeter Thy dau ghter is safe in his keeping
n ot
The little nymph who played in the m eadows i s n ow
Queen of the Sha d es Nor doe s Plu to love her vainl y

She is n ow in love with Death


N o c omfort did the words of the Su n G o d brin g to
the l on ging soul of De m eter And her wounded heart
grew bitter Because sh e suffered others must suffer
as we ll Be c ause sh e mourned all the world mu st
mou rn
The fragrant owers spoke to her only of
Persephone the purp l e grape s re m inded her of a v in
tage when the white ng ers of her c hild had plu cked the
fruit The waving golden grain told her that Persephone
was a s an ear of wheat that is reaped before its time
Then upon the earth did there c ome d earth an d
d rought an d b arrenness
.

wh at
W b l i gh t d i
Bl h d m r
W r rr wf l
Th e

as

us

e so

no
o

th e

o e on

urpl grap s
th vi
d a ll th g d s
L E W I S M ORR I S
e a r,
e

th e p

n e s, a n

A B OO K O F MYTHS

166

Gods an d men alike suffered from the sorrow of


Demeter To her in pity for the barren earth Zeus
sent an embassy but in vain it came Mer ciless wa s the
great E arth Mother who had b een rob bed of what sh e
h e l d most dear

Give me ba ck my child ! sh e said


Gl a dly I
wat ch the sufferings of men for no s orrow is as my
sorrow Give m e ba ck my child and the earth shall

grow fertile on c e more


Unwillingly Zeus granted the request of Demeter

She shall come ba ck he said at last


and with
thee dwell on earth forever Yet only on on e c ondition
Persephone must eat no
do I grant thy fond reque st
food through al l the time o f her soj ourn in the real m

of P luto else must thy beseeching be all in vain


T hen did D emeter gla dl y l eave O lympus and hasten
down to the d arknes s of the shadowy l and that once
again sh e might hold in her strong mother s arms her
w h o had once been her little c lingin g c hild
But i n the d ark k in g dom of P luto a strange thing
had happened N o l onger had the pale fa ce d god with
dark l ocks and eyes l ike the sunless pools of a moun
tain stream any terrors for Pro s erp ine H e was strong
and cruel had she thought him yet now she knew that
the touch of his strong c old hand s was a touch o f in
nite tenderness When knowing the at o f the rul er
of O lympus
Pluto gave to his stolen bride a pome
granate red in heart as the heart of a m an sh e had
taken it from his hand and b e c ause he will ed it had eaten
o f the sweet seed s
Then in truth it was too l ate for
,

O DS

AND

M E N RE J

O I CE D

AT

TH E

B R I NG I N G B ACK OF PR O S E R P I N E

PR O SERPINE

1 67

Demeter to save her child She had eaten

seed and changed into another


H tak th cl ft p m g ra at s ds
thi p arti g day
L v
t with m
Th bi d th m f t ch th c a l b l a k t ds
D m t r d a ght r w l d t away
Th g at s f H a d
th
fr
;
S h wi ll r t r f ll s
aith h
I N G E O W
My wif my w if P r s eph
.

of

Love s

es

e, e a

e e

e u n

e,

ou

e s se

s ee

ee

er

o on ,

ee

en

on e

D ark dark was the k ingdom

Pluto Its rivers


never mirrored a sunbeam and ever moaned low as an
earthly river moans before a c oming ood and the feet
that trod the gloomy Co cytus valley were the feet of
those who never again woul d tread on the s oft grass and
owers of an earthly meadow Yet when Demeter ha d
braved all the shadows of Hade s only in part wa s her
end a ccomplished In part only was Pro serpine n ow
her c hild for while half her heart was in the sunshine
rej oi cin g in the beauties of earth the other half wa s
with the god who had taken her down to the Lan d of
Darkness and there had w on her for his own B a ck to
the owery isl an d of Si cily her mother brought her and
the pea ch trees and the al monds blossomed sn ow i
as sh e passed The olives de cked them selves with their
soft grey leave s the c orn sprang up green and lush and
strong The lemon and orange grove s grew golden with
lus c ious fruit and all the land was carpeted with owers
For six months of the year sh e stayed and gods and
men rej oiced at the bringing ba ck of Proserpine For
six months sh e left her green and pleasant land for the
dark k ingdom of him whom sh e loved and through
,

of

A B OOK O F MYTH S

1 68

those months the tree s were bare and the earth chill
and brown and under the earth the owers hid them
s e lves in fear an d awaited the return of the fair dau ghter
of D emeter
And evermore ha s sh e c om e an d gone and seedtime
an d harve st have never fai led an d th e cold sleeping
worl d h as awake d a n d rej oi c ed and hera l ded with
the s on g of birds and the bursting of green bud s and
the blooming o f owers th e resurre ction fro m the d ead
the c oming of s pring
,

Ti m e a ll
d Cha g
C mm a ds b th m
d g ds a d S p e ds u s
W k w t whith r b t th l d arth m i l s
S p ri g aft r p ri g d th
d b r t ag ai
O t f it p ri
m ld d th d a d l iv
R
w th m l v s d ri a l ft d ar
A d
tra f rm d cl thi g th ms l v s with cha g
L E W I S M ORR I S
Ti ll th e la t cha g b d
c

s, an

no

en e
n

son

se

se

on

an

an
,

e o

e se e

an

ou

ns o

are

no

e n an

s s

an

es

so

on e

e,

LAT ONA AND THE RUSTI CS


T H ROUG H the tropic nights their sonorous bell like
boo ming can be heard c o min g up from the marshes and
when they are unseen the son g of the bul l frogs w ould
suggest creatures ful l of sol e n m dignity The croak of
their l esser brethren is l ess impressive yet there is no
e scape from it on those evenings when the dragon ies
irides c ent wings are folded in sleep an d the birds in the
branches are still when the lilie s on the pond have
cl osed their golden hearts and even the late feeding
trout have c eased to plop and to make eddies in the
K rroak ! krroak ! krroak
quiet water
they go
-

krroak ! krroak ! krroak

It i s un ceasin g unending

It goe s on l ik e the whirr


of the whee l s of a great c lo ck that can never run down
a m elan c ho l y c omplaint against the hardships of destiny
a rau c ous protest against things a s they are
This is the story of the frog s that have helpe d to
Z
o
point the gibe s f Aristophanes the morals of Esop and
which have always been more or less regarded as the
l ow comedians of the animal world
Latona o r Leto was the goddess of dark nights
and upon her the mighty Zeus bestowed the doubtful
favour of his errant love Great was the wrath of Hera
hi s queen when sh e foun d that sh e was no l onger th e
,

1 69

A B OO K O F MYTHS

1 70

dearest wife o f her omnipotent lord and with furiou s


upbraidings sh e banished her rival to earth And when
Latona had reached the place of her exile sh e found that
the vengeful goddess had sworn that sh e would place her
everl asting ban upon anyone mortal or immortal who
dared to S how any kindness or pity to her whose only
fault had been that Zeus loved her From pla c e to place
an out ca st even a m on g men u ntil at
sh e wandered
length sh e c ame to Ly c ia
O ne evening as the darknes s of which sh e was g oddes s
ha d just begun to fall sh e reached a green and pleasant
valley The soft cool grass was a delight to her tire d
feet and when sh e saw the silvery gleam of water sh e
rej oi c ed for her throat was parched and her lips dry and
By the side o f this stil l pond
sh e Wa s very weary
where the lilies oated there grew lithe grey will ows and
fresh green osiers and these were being cut by a c rowd of
chattering rusti c s
Humbly for many a rude word and harsh rebu ff had
the di ctum of Hera brought her during her wanderings
Latona went to the edge of the pond and kneeling
down was most thankfully about to drink when the
peasants espied her
R oughly and rudely they told
her to begone nor dare to drin k unbidden of the cl ear
water beside which their willows grew Very pitifu lly
Latona looked up in their churlish faces and her eyes
were as the eyes of a doe that the hunters have pressed
very hard

Surely good people sh e s aid and her voice Wa s


sad and low
water is free to all Very far have I
,

LAT ONA AND THE RUSTICS

1 71

travelled and I am aweary almost to death O nly grant


that I dip my lips in the water for one deep draught

Of thy pity grant me this boon for I perish of thirst


Harsh and coarse were the mocking voi ces that made
answer Coarser still were the j ests that they made
Then on e bolder than his fellows spurned her kneeling
gu re with his foot while another brushed before h er
and stepping into the pond d e l e d its clarity by chum
ing u p the mu d that lay b elow with hi s great splay
feet
Loudl y the peasant s laughed at this merry j est and
they qui ckly followed his lead as b rainless sheep will
follow the on e that scramble s through a gap Soon they
were all j oyously stamping and dan cing in what had
so lately been a pe llu cid p ool Th e Water lilies and
blue forget me nots were trodden down the sh that
had their homes under the mossy stones in terror ed
away O nly the mud came up lthy d e l in g and the
rustics laughed in loud and fool ish laughter to s ee th e
havoc they had wrought
The godde s s Latona ro s e fro m her knees N o
long er did sh e seem a mere woman very weary hungry
and athirst travelled over far In their surprised eyes
sh e grew to a stature that was as that o f the deathless
go d s And her eyes were dark as an angry sea at even
Shameless ones
in a voice as the
sh e said
voice of a storm that sweeps destroyingly over forest and
moun tain
Ah ! shameless ones ! Is it thus that
thou wouldst defy on e who has dwelt on Olympus !
Behold from hen ceforth shalt thou have thy dwelling
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

1 72

in the mud of the green s cummed pool s thy homes in

the water that thy at feet have d e l e d


As sh e spoke a change strange and terrib l e passed
over the forms o f the trampling peasants Their stature
shrank They gre w s quat an d fat Their han ds and
feet Were webbed and their grinning mouths be ca me
great sad gaping openings by which to swal low worms
and ies Green and yellow and brown were thei r s kin s
and when they would fain have cried aloud for mer cy
from their throats there would c om e only the K rroak
that we know so we ll
krroak krroak
An d when that night the godde s s of darkne ss was
wrapped in peace in th e black silver star bespangl e d
robe that none could take from her there aros e from the
pond over whi c h the gre y will ow s hung weepin g th e
clamour of a great lamentation Yet n o piteous word s
were there only the incessant hars h c o mp l aint of the
frogs that w e hear in the marshes
From that time the world went wel l with Latona
D own to the seashore sh e c ame and when sh e held
ou t her arms in l onging appeal to the ZEge an is l an ds
that l ay lik e purple owers strewn far apart on a
soft carpet of limpid blue Zeus heard her prayer He
a sked Poseidon to send a dolphin to carry the wom an
he loved to the oating i sl and of Delos and when sh e
had been borne there in safety he chained the isl an d
with chains of a d amant to the gol den san ded oor of
the se a
And o n this s anctuary there were born to Latona
twin children thereafter to be amongst the m ost famed
-

LAT ONA AND TH E RUSTIC S

1 73

the god and goddess Ap ollo and


of the deathless gods
,

Diana

Th o hi d that w r tra form d


Rai l d at L at
a twi b r p r g y
d m
i f
Whi ch ft r h ld th
se

e e

ns

r g

to f

on

o n

n-

e su n an

en

oon

ee

M I T ON
L

Yet are there times as we look at the squat bronz e


bodie s of the frogs green bronze dark brown spotted
and a ll ecked with gold the turned down corners of
their wistful mouths their very exquisite bla ck velvety

eye s with golden rim s whe n the piteous croaks that


come forth from their throats of pale da ffodil colour d o
indeed awake a sympathy with their a pp eal against the
ine x orab l e de c rees of destiny
W e did not k now We did not understan d Pity
K rroak krroak
krroak
us ! Ah pity u s
,

NARCIS SUS

ECH O AN D

the solitudes of the hil l s we nd her and y et we may


come on her unawar e s in the din of a noi sy city She
wil l answer u s where the waves are lashing thems el ves
agains t the rug ged cl iffs of our own British coast or we
m ay n d her where the great ye ll ow pill ars of fal l en
templ es lie hot in the sun c lose to the vivid b lue water
of the Afri can sea At nightfall on the lonely northern
m oors sh e m im ics the cry of a wailing bird tha t call s for
its mate but it is sh e who prolong s the roll of the gr eat
organ in a vast cathe dr al sh e who repeats the rattle
and crack and boo m of the gun s no m a tter in wha t
In the desol ate Au stralian
l and the war m a y be
bus h she mak es the c rash of the fall ing limb of a dea d
gum tre e go on and on and to rtu res the hum an being
who is lo st ho p elessly lost and facing a c rue l dea th by
repeating his des pairin g call s for help Through the
night in ol d c ountry houses sh e sport s at will an d gives
new life to sa d old tal es of the r estless d ead who rest
lessly wal k But she e choes the chil dren s voi ce s as they
pl ay by the seashore or pick prim r oses in the woods in
sprin g and when th ev greet her with la ughter sh e
laug hs in me rry re spons e They may fear her when
the sun has gone down and when they are l eft all alone
they b e gin to dread her m kery Yet the nymph who
IN

qg

N ARCISSUS

ECH O AN D

1 75

s ought for l ove and failed to gain what sh e sought


mu st sur ely nd s ome comf ort on those bright days of
sum m er and of S prin g when sh e gives the littl e c hil dr en
hap piness and they give her their love
When all the world w as youn g an d nymph s an d
fauns and dryads dwelt in the forests there was no
nym ph more lovely and more gay than S he whose
name was E c ho Diana woul d s m il e on her for her
ee tn e ss of foot when S he followed her in the c hase
an d those whom sh e met in the l eafy pathways of the
d im green wo ods woul d pass on s miling at the remem
bran c e of her merry chatter and her tri cksy hum our
It wa s an evil day for E cho when she cros sed the path
The j eal ous g oddess sought
of H era queen of the g ods
her errant husband who was amu s in g himself with some
nym phs and Echo ful l of m isch ievous glee kept her in
tal k un til the nymp hs had ed to safety Hera was
furious indee d when S he found out that a froli csome
nymph had dared to p l ay on her su ch a trick an d ru th
le ssly She spoke fair Echo s d oom

Hen c eforth
sh e said
the tongu e with which
thou hast c heate d me S hall be in bon ds No l onge r
To the
w ilt thou have the power to spea k in greeting
ton gues of others shall thy tongue be S lave and from
this day until tim e shal l cease thou sh al t speak only to

re p eat the last wor d s that have fall en on thine cars


A maimed nymph indeed was E c ho then yet whole
in all that matters most in that her merry hea rt wa s
still her own But only for a little while did this endure
Nar cissus the bea utiful so n of a nym ph and a river
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

1 76

hunting in a lonely forest one day when E ch o


To her he see med more fair than god o r
him pa s s
m an and on ce sh e had seen him sh e kn ew that she must
e
ain
his
love
or
di
From
that
day
on
S
he
haunted
g
him like his S hadow glidin g from tree to tree nestl ing
down amongst thi ck fern and u ndergrowth motionl e ss
as one who sta lk s a wild thing watching him afar o ff
whil e he res ted gladde n in g her eyes with hi s bea uty
S o did sh e fee d her hungering hea rt and sought to n d
contentment by loo king on his fa c e ea ch d ay
To her at length ca me a p erfe ct moment when Nar
cissu s was separated from his companions in the ch ase
and sto pping suddenly where the evenin g su n chequered
the p athway of the forest with bla ck and gold hear d the
nym ph s s oft foo tf all on the rus tlin g leaves
Who s here
he called
an swered Echo
Here
Narcissus p eer ing amongst the tree s long sha d ows
Come
an d see in g no on e call ed
And Com e !
cal led the glad voice of Echo while
the nymph with fast bea ting heart felt that her day of
happiness had come inde ed
then called Nar c issus
Why do you shun me
Why do you shu n m e 9 Echo rep eated

Let u s jo in one another said the l ad and the


sim ple words seemed tu rned into song when E cho said
them over

L et u s j oi n one a n other !
S he sa id and not E o s
hers el f as with rosy ngers sh e tu rns a s ide the dark
clouds of n ight could be fairer than was the nym ph as
god
saw

w as

ECH O AND NARCISSUS

1 77

sh e

p ushed aside the leaves of the tra ckless wood and


ran forward with whit e a rms outstret che d to hi m w h o
was lord of her life
With c old eye s an d c old er heart th e one sh e love d
b ehe l d her

Away ! he cried shrinking back as if fro m s ome


Away
I woul d rather die than
thin g that he hated
that y ou shoul d have me
cried E cho pitiful ly bu t she p l ed in
Have m e
vain Narcissus had n o love to give her and hi s sc orn
lled her w ith sha me Then ceforth in the forest revels
sh e never more was seen and the nymphs dan c ed gaily
as ever w ith never a c are for her who had faded and gone
away a s c o mp letely as though she were a b l ossom in
the pas sing of S pring In the solitude of mountain
cli ffs and c ave s and ro cky places and in the l oneliest
depth s of the forest Echo hid her grief and whe n th e
wind s b l ew through the dark branches of the trees at
night m oaning and sighing they c ould hear far bel ow
the m the voi c e of Echo repea ting their lamentations
For h er lon g nights followed hopeless days a n d nights
and days only told her that her love was all in va in
Then c ame a night when the winds no longer saw the
gure of the nymph white and frai l as a broken ower
c rou ching close to the rocks they passed over Grief
had S lain the body of Echo O nly her voi c e was left
to repea t their mocking laughter their wistful sighs
only her voice that lives on still though all the ol d god s
are gone and b ut fe w there are who know her story
Heartwh ol e and happy Nar c issus slayer of happiness
,

A B OOK O F MY TH S

1 78

went on his way and other nymph s besides fair E cho


suffered from loving him in vain One nymph les s
gentle than Echo poured the tale of her l ove that was
s c orned into the sympatheti c ears of the god de s s of Love
and implored her to punish Narcissus
H ot and tired from the chase Narcissus s ought on e
d ay a lonely pool in the woods there to rest an d to quen c h
h is thirst
,

s m e d e l i c i ra m b l h e ha d f d
A l ittle p a c e with b gh a ll w v r u d
A d i th m i d t f a l l a cl e ar e r p l
Tha e r e cte d i it pl e a a t co l
d th e r
s e r e ely p e p i g
Th b l u e ky h e r
Throu gh t d ri l wr e ath fa ta s ti cal l y c r e p i g
In

s n

e,

e , an

en

en

oo

ou

ou n

e,

ou s

As he stooped down to drink a fa c e looked at hi s


through the cry stal clear water and a pair of b eautiful
eyes met hi s ow n H is surprise a n d j oy at th e S ight of
what he felt sure must be the most beautiful creatur e
wa s evidently s hared by the nymp h of the
o n earth
pool wh o gazed fearlessly up at him
Round her head She had a nimbu s of curl s than whi ch
that of Adonis nay of the su n god hims e lf was n ot
more perfe ct while her eyes were li ke the brown pools
o f water i n a ripp ling mountain s tream
e cke d with
sunshine yet with depths untold Wh en Nar cissu s
smiled at her in rap ture her red lips al so p arted in a
smile He stretched ou t hi s arms towards her an d her
arms were stret ched to him Al most tremb lin g in his
delight he slowly stooped to kiss her Nearer sh e drew
to hi m nearer still but when his m ou th wou l d have
,

EC H O AND NAR C ISSUS

1 79

gi ven its elf to that other mouth that was formed like th e

b ow of Ero s a thing t o slay hearts only the c hilly


w ater of the poo l tou c hed his l ips and the thing of hi s
delight vanished away In passionate d i s appoint ment
Nar c i s sus waited for her to return and as s oon as the
water of the pool gre w still on c e more h e s aw her e x
e face gazing wistful ly up into hi s
P
assionatel
y
u
i
s
i
t
q
he pled with the beautiful c reature spok e of his l ove
besought her to have pity on him but although the fa c e
in the pool ree cted his every look of adoration and of
l onging time and again he vainly tried to clasp in his
arms what was but the mirrored likenes s of himself
In full measure had the avenging goddes s m eted ou t
to Nar c issus the restless longing of unsatised love
By day and by night he haunted the forest pool and ere
long the fa c e that looked back at his was pal e as a lily
in the dawn When the moonbeams came straying
down through the branches and all the night w a s still
they found him kneeling by the pool and the white fa c e
that the water mirrored had the eyes of on e of the things
o f the woods to which a hun tsman has given a mortal
woun d Mortally woun ded he tru fy was slain like
many another since his day by a hopeless love for what
was in truth but an image and that an image of h is own
creation Even when his shade passe d a cross the dark
Stygian river it stoo p ed over the side of the boat that
it might try to c at ch a glimpse of the beloved on e in th e
inky waters
E cho an d the other nymphs were avenged yet when
they l ooked on the beautiful dead Narc i s su s they were
,

A B OO K O F MYT H S

1 80

ll ed w ith sorrow and when they lled the air with


their lamentations most piteously did the voi c e of Echo
repea t ea ch mournful c ry Even the gods were pitiful
and when the n ym phs w oul d have burned the body
on a funeral pyre whi c h their o wn fair hands had built
For the O lympians
for him ; they sou ght it in vain
had turn ed Narcissus into a white OWe r the ower
that sti ll bears his name an d k eeps his me m ory sweet
,

l o e ly w r h e p i e d
A m ee k
d for l r w e r w ith au g ht f p ri d e
D r p i g it b e a ty
th e wat ry cl e arn e s
d i m a g e i t n e arn e s ;
T w o it s w
D e af t l i g ht Z e p h y ru it w u ld
t m ve
B ut s ti ll w u ld e e m to d oop to p i e to lov e
an

o n

oo

o er

sa

s,

no

ICARUS
FO U RTE E N years only have passed since ou r twentieth
c entury began In those fourteen years h ow m any a
father s and mother s heart h as b led for the d eath of
gall ant sons greatly promisin g greatly daring w h o
have sought to rule the sk ies ! With wings not w ell
enough tried they have soared dauntles sly al oft only
to add more names to the tragic list of those whose live s
have been sa cri ced in or d er that the groping hands of
s c ien c e m ay be c ome sure so that in time the son s of men
may s ail through the hea vens as fearle ssly a s their
fathers sai l ed through the sea s
H igh overhead we wat c h the monopl ane the great
s woop ing thing like a m onster black winged bird and
ou r minds trave l ba c k to the story of Icaru s w h o die d
so m any years ago that there are those w h o say that his
story is but a fool ish fab l e an idl e myth
D aedalus gran d son of a k ing of Athens wa s the
greatest articer of hi s day N ot only as an ar chitect
was he great bu t as a s cul ptor he had the c reative
power not only to mak e men and wo men an d ani m als
that loo ked alive but to c ause them to m ove and to be
to all app earan c es endowe d with l ife To him th e
arti cers who follo wed hi m owe d the invention o f the
axe the w edge the wimble an d the carpenter s level
.

181

A B OOK O F MYTH S

1 82

and his restl ess mind was ever busy with new invention s
To his nephe w Talus or Perdrix he taught all that
he himself knew of all the mechanical arts Soon it
s eemed that the nephe w though he might not e xce l hi s
cl e equalled D aedalus in his inventive power
As
he walke d by the sea s hore the lad pi cked up the spine
of a sh an d havin g pon d ered its p ossibilities he took
it ho m e imitate d it in iron an d so invented the saw
A still greater invention foll owed thi s Wh il e tho s e
wh o ha d alw ays thou ght that there c oul d be none greater
than D aedalus were still a ccl aiming the l ad there c a m e
to hi m the idea of puttin g tw o pie c es of iron tog ether
c onne ctin g the m at on e en d with a rivet and sharp
e n in g both en d s
and a pair of compasses wa s m a d e
Louder stil l Were the ac clamations of the people S ure ly
greater than D aedalus was here
Too mu c h was thi s
for the a rtist s j ealous spirit
O ne day they stood together on the top of the Aero
poli s and D aedalus murder that c omes fro m jealousy in
his heart threw his nephew down Down down he fe ll
knowing we ll that he was going to meet a c rue l death
but P al las Athen e protectress of all c lever c raftsmen
came to his rescue By her Perdrix was turned into the
bird that still bears his name and D aedalus beheld Perdrix
the partridge rapidly winging his way to the far off
elds Since then n o partridge has ever built or roosted
in a high place but has nestled in the hedge roots and
amongst the standing c orn and as We mark it we c an
see that its ight is always low
For his c rime D aedalus was banished fro m Athen s
and in the c ou rt of Min e s king of Crete he found
.

I C ARUS

1 83

refuge
He p ut all his mighty powers at th e
service of Mino s and for him designed an intricate
l abyrinth whi ch like the river Meander had neither
be ginnin g n or ending but ever returned on itself in hop e
l ess intri c a cy S oon he stood high in the favour of the
k ing but ever gree dy for power he in curred by on e of
his daring inventions the wrath of Minos The angry
m onar ch thre w him into pri s on and imprisoned a l ong
with him hi s son Ic arus
But prison bars an d
locks d id n ot exist that were strong enough to
b af e this m aster craftsman and from the tower in
whi c h they were shut D aedalus and his son were n ot
l ong in mak ing their es c ape To es cape from Crete
was a l ess easy matter There Were many pla c es in
that wi l d isl and where it was easy for the father an d
son to hide
but the subj e cts of Min e s were mostly
mariners an d D aedalu s knew wel l that all along the shore
they k ept watch l est he should make him a boat hoist
o n it on e o f the sails of whi c h he was p art inventor and
S peed away to s afety like a sea bird driven before the
gale Then did there c om e to D aedalus the pioneer
of invention s
the great idea that by his skil l he might
make a way for himself and his son through another
element than water An d he laughed aloud in hi s
hiding pla c e among st the cypresses on the hillside at
the thought of h ow he would bafe the simp le sail orm e n
who wat ched each cree k and beach down on the shore
Mockingly too did he thin k of King Minos wh o had
dared to pit his power against the w its and skill of
D aedalus the mighty craftsman
Many a Cre tan bird wa s sa cri ced before the task
a

A B O O K O F MYTHS

1 84

whi ch the inventor had set himself was a cc omp lishe d


In a shady forest on the mountains he fashioned light
Wooden fra mes and de cked them with feathers u ntil at
length they l ooked lik e th e p inions of a great eagle or of
a swan that aps its majesti c way from lake to river
Ea ch feather was bound on with wax and the me chanism
o f the wings was s o perfect a re p rodu ction of that of the
wing s from whi c h the feathers h ad been plu ck ed that on
the rst day that he fastene d them to his ba ck an d S prea d
them ou t D ae dalus found that he c ould y even as the
bird ew Two p airs he m ade ; having tested on e pair a
se c ond pair was made for Icarus and c ir cl ing round him
lik e a mother bird that teaches her nestlings how to
y D aedalus his heart big with the pride of invention
showed I c arus how he might best soar upwards to the
su n or dive down to the blue se a far be l o w and how he
might c onquer the w inds an d the air current s of the sky
and make them his s erv ants
That was a j oyou s day for father and son for the
father had never before drun k d ee p er of the intoxi cating
w ine o f the gods Suc c ess and for the l ad it was all
pure j oy
Never before had he known freedom and
power so utterly gloriou s As a little child he had
watched the birds y far away over the blue hills to
where the su n was setting and had l onged for wings
that he might follow them i n their ight At times
in his dreams he had known the power and in his
dreaming fan cy had risen from the cumbering earth
and sc are d high above the trees an d elds on strong
pinions that bore him away to the fair land o f heart s

d esire to the Islands of the Blessed


B ut when S l eep
.

I CARUS

1 85

l eft him and the dreams silently slipped out before the
c oming of the l ight of d ay an d the boy s prang from
his cou ch and eagerly s prea d his arm s a s in his d ream s
he had done he c ou l d n o longer y Disappointment
and un s atised longing ever ca me with his w aking hours
N ow all that had come to an end and D aedalus was
glad and proud as well to watch his son s j oy and his fear
l e ss daring One word of coun sel only did he give hi m

B eware dear son of my heart he said


lest in
thy new found power thou see k est to soar even to the
gates of O lympus For as surely as the scorching rays
from the burnished wheels o f the chariot o f Apollo
smite thy wings the wax that binds on thy feathers
will melt and then will c o m e upon thee and on me woe

u nutterab l e
In his dreams that night I c arus ew and when he
awok e fearing to nd only the haunting remembran c e
of a dream he found his father standing by the side of
his be d o f soft leaves under the shadowy cypresse s
rea dy to bind on his wi lling shoul der s the great pinion s
that he had made
Gentl e Dawn the rosy n gere d was slowly making
her way up from the East when D aedalus and Icaru s
began their ight Slowly they went at rst and the

oat
herds
who
tende
d
their
ocks
on the slopes of
g
Mount Ida looked up in fear when they saw the
dark shadows of their wings and marked the monster
birds making their way ou t to sea From the river
beds the Waterfowl arose from the reeds and with great
outcry e w with all their swiftness to escape them
And do wn by the seashore the m ariners hearts sank
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

1 86

them a s they watched believing that a sight so


strange must b e a portent o f disaster Homewards they
went in haste to offer s a c ri ce s on the altar s of P os ei d on
ruler of the deep
S amos an d De l os were pa sse d on the left an d
L eb y n th os on the right l ong ere the sun go d had
started on his daily c ourse and as the mighty wings
the boy s slim body grew
o f Icaru s cl eft the c old air
chilled a n d he l onged for the sun s rays to turn the
Waters of the ZEgean Sea over which he ew from green
grey into limpid sapphire and emerald and burning gold
Towards Sicily he and his father bent their c ourse an d
when they saw the beautiful islan d afar o ff lying like
a gem in the sea Apoll o made the waves in whi ch it lay
With a cry of oy Icarus marked
for it a ttin g setting
the sun s ray s paint the chi ll water an d Apollo looked
dow n at the great white winge d bird a snowy swan
with the fa c e and form o f a beautiful boy who sped
exulting onwards while a clumsier thing with wings of
darker hue followed les s quickly in the same l ine of
ight As the god look ed the warmth that radiated
fro m his chariot tou ched the icy l imbs of Icaru s as w ith
the c aressing tou c h of gentle life giving hands Not
long before his ight had lagged a little but now it
seemed as if new life was his Like a bird that wheels
and sc ars and dives as if for l ightness of heart so did
Ic arus until ea c h feather of his plumage had a S heen of
silver and of gold Dow n down he darted so near
the water that almost the white tipped waves c aught
at his wings as he skimmed over them Then up up
up he soared ever higher higher sti ll and when he saw
within

ICARUS

1 87

the radiant
god smiling down on him the Warnin g
of D a
e dalus was forgotten
As he had e xc el led other
lads in foot ra ces n ow d id Ic arus wish to ex c e l the
bird s themselves D aedalus he left far behind and still
upwards he moun ted
So strong he fe lt so fearles s
wa s he that to him it seemed that he c ould storm
Olympus that he c oul d c all to Apollo as he swept past
him in his ight and dare him to ra ce for a wager from
th e [Egean S ea to where the su n g o d s horses too k their
nightly rest b y the tra ckle ss seas o f the un known West
In terror his father wat ched him and as he c alle d
to him in a voice of angu ished warning that was d rowne d
by the whistling rush of the air currents through the
wings of Icarus and the moist whisper of the cl ou ds as
through them he cleft a way for himself there b efe ll
the drea d ed thing
It seemed as though the stron g
wing s had begun to lose their power Like a wounded
b ird I carus uttered lunged s idewise from the straight
clean line of his ight re c overed himself and uttered
again And then like the bird into whose soft breast
the sure hand of a mighty archer ha s d riven an a rrow
down wards he fell turning over and yet turning again
downwards ever downwards until he fell with a plunge
into the sea that still was radiant in shining emerald an d
translu c ent blue
Then did the c ar of Apollo drive on His rays ha d
slain on e who was too greatly daring and now the y
fondl ed the little White feathers that had fallen fro m
the broken wings and oated on the water l ik e the
p etals of a torn OWer
O n the dead still fa c e of Ic arus they shone and the y
su n -

A B O O K O F MYTHS

1 88

S pangled as if with diamonds the wet p lumag e that stil l


w idespread bore him up on the Waves
Stricken at heart was D aedalu s but there wa s n o
time to lament his s on s untime ly en d for even n ow
the bla ck prowed S hips of Minos might be in pursu it
O nward he ew to safety an d in S i c ily built a temp l e to
Apo ll o and there hun g up his wing s a s a p rop itiatory
o ffering to the go d who had sl ain his son
And when grey night c ame down on that p art of the
s ea that bears the name of I carus to this day still there
oate d the body of the b oy whose dreams ha d c ome
true
For o nl y a l ittl e while ha d he known the e x
f
e real isation o f dreamed of p otentialities
or onl y
i
i
t
u
s
q
a few hours tasted the S weetne s s of perfe ct p leasure
an d then by an over daring ight had l ost it all for ever
The sorrowing Nerei d s s ang a dirg e over him as he
was swayed gent ly hither and thither by the tide and
when the silver stars c ame ou t from the dark rm a
ment of heaven and were ree cted in the bla ckness of
the se a at night it was a s though a ve lvet p al l silver
decked in his honour wa s spread aroun d the sl im white
body with its outstret ched snowy wings

S o mu c h had he dared so little a cc omp l ishe d


Is it not the oft told tale of those wh o have foll owed
Icar u s
Yet who c an say that gallant youth has live d
in vain when as I carus did he has breasted the very sk ie s
has own with fearless heart and soul to the provin ces of

the deathless gods


when even for the spa c e of a few
o f the heart beats o f Time he has tasted supreme power
the e c stasy of illimitable happiness
,

CLYTIE
sunbeams are basking on the high walls of the ol d
gardensmil ing on the fruit that grows red and golden
in their warmth The bees are humming round the
be d of purple heliotrope an d drowsily murmuring in
the shelter of the soft petals of the blush roses whose
sweetness brings back the fragran c e of days that are
gone O n the ol d grey su ndial the white winged pigeons
slee p ily croon as they preen their snowy plumage and
the Madonna lilies hang their heads like a procession
of white robed nuns who dare not loo k up from telling
their beads until the triumphal procession o f an all con
quering warrior has gone by What can they think of
that long line of tall yellow owers by the garden wall
who turn their faces sunwards with an arrogant assur
an c e and give stare for stare to golden haired Apollo as
he drives his blazing c ar triumphant through the high
heavens
Sunowers
is the name by which we know
those amboyant blossoms which somehow fail so
wholly to suggest the story of Clytie the nym ph whose
destru ction c ame from a faithful unrequited love
S h e was a water nymph a timid gentle being who fre
e n te d lonely strea ms and bathed where the blue dr agon
u
q
ies dart across the white water lil ies in pellu c id lakes
In the shade of the ta ll pop l ar trees and the silvery
THE

'

1 89

A B O O K O F MYTHS

190

willows sh e took her midday rest and feared the hours


when the owers drooped their heads and the rippling
water lost its c oolness before the er c e glare of the su n
But there came a day when into the dark pool
by whi c h sh e sat Apol lo the Conqueror looked d own
and mirrored his fa ce
And nevermore did she hide
fro m the gol den haired god who from the m oment
when she had seen in the water the pi ctu re of his radiant
beauty became the l ord and master of her heart and
soul
All night sh e awaited his c oming and the Dawn
saw her looking eastward for the rst golden gleams
from the wheels of his chariot All d ay sh e followe d
him with her l onging gaze n or did she ever c ease to
feast her e y es upon his beauty until the last ree ction of
hi s radian c e had fade d fro m the western sky
S u ch devotion might have touched the heart of the
sun god but he had n o wish to o wn a love for which he
had not s ought The nymph s adoration irked him nor
did pity c ome as Love s pale substitute when he marked
h ow day by day her fa c e grew whiter an d m ore white
and her lovely form wasted away For nin e days
without food or drink sh e k ept her shamed vigil Onl y
Unexacting in the
o n e word of love did sh e crave
humility of her devotion sh e woul d gratefully have
nourished her hungry heart upon on e kindly glan ce
But Apollo full of s c orn and anger lashed up his ery
steeds as he ea ch day drove past her nor deigned for her
a glan c e more ge ntle than that which he threw on the
satyrs as they hid in the dens e green fol iage of the
shadowy woods
,

CLYTIE

19 1

Half mo cking Diana said


In truth the fair nymph
w h o throws her heart s treasures at the feet of my
golden locked brother that he may tramp le on them is
c oming to look like a faded oWer
And as sh e spok e
the hearts o f the other i m mortal d wellers in O ly m pus
were stirred with pity
A ower sh e shall be !
they said
an d for al l
time shall sh e live in life that is renewed ea ch year when
the earth stirs with the quickening of spring The long
summer d ays shall sh e spend forever in fearle ss worship
of the god of her love
And as they willed the nymph p assed ou t of her
hu m an form and took the form of a ower and ever
m orethe emblem of c onstan cy does sh e g a ze with
fearl e s s ardour on the fa c e of her love
-

h art that h tr ly l v d v r f r g t s
B t
tr ly l v
t th cl
A th
h
d
u w rt r
wh
h
s
t
e
e
g
Th s a m l k that h tur d wh
h r

Th e

as

as

e s n

e s on

u n s on

oo

ne

er

o se

ne

e s

en

ose .

So me there are wh o say that n ot into the bold fa c ed


sunower did her metamorphosis take pla c e but into
that purp le heliotrope that gives an exquisite o ffering
of fragran c e to the su n go d when his warm rays tou c h
it
And in the ol d wall ed g arden while the bee s
drowsily h um and the white pi geons c roon an d the
d ashing su nower give s Apollo gaze for ga ze and the
scent of the m i gnonette mingles with that of c love pink s
and blush roses the fragran c e of the heliotrope is above
worthy in c ense to be offere d u pon his altar by th e
all
devout lover of a god
-

THE CRANE S O F I B Y C US
m ur d e r th g h it hav e
W ith m s t m ira c l ou s o r g a

For

ou

IB YCUS

t g wi ll p e a k
S H A K E SP EA R E

no

n.

on

u e,

p oet frien d of Apollo was a happy man a s


he j our neyed on foot through the c ountry where the
wild owers gre w thi ck and the trees were laden with
b lossom towards the c ity of C orinth H is tuneful voi c e
sang snat che s of s ong of hi s own m ak ing an d ever and
ag ain he wou ld try h ow his word s and musi c soun ded o n
his lyre H e was l ight of heart be c au se ever had he
thought of g ood and no t evil and had a lway s su ng only
of great and no b l e deed s and of tho s e thin gs that he l ped
hi s fellow m en An d n ow he Went to Corinth for the
great c hariot ra c e s an d for the great c ontest of mu si c ians
where every tru e p oet an d mu s i cian in Gree c e wa s sure to
th e

It wa s the ti me

the retu rn to earth of A d oni s an d


of P ro s er p ine a n d as he was reverently about to enter
the s a cre d grove of P o s ei d on where the trees grew
thi ck an d saw c rown ing the height b efore hi m the
glittering tower s of C orinth he hear d overhead the
harsh crie s of s om e other return ed e xi l e s Iby cus
smiled as he looked up and behe l d the great o ck of
grey birds with their long legs and strong outstretched
wings come ba ck fro m their winter soj ourn on the golden
of

1 92

THE CRANES O F IBYCUS

1 93

s ands of Egy pt to dance and bec k and bow to each


other by the marshe s of his hom eland

Welcome back little brothers !


he cried
May
o
u
and
I
both
meet
with
n
ught
but
k
in
d
e
s
s
fro
m
the
a
n
y
peop l e of this land
And when the c rane s again harsh ly crie d as if in
answer to his g reeting the poet walked gaily on further
into the shadow of that dark wood ou t of which he was
never to pass as living man Joyous and fearing n o
evil he had been struc k and c ast to the ground by cruel
an d m u fd erou s hands ere ever he k new that two robber s
were hi dden in a narrow pass where the brushwood grew
thi ck With al l his strength he fought but his arms
were thos e o f a musician and not of a warrior and ve ry
soon he was overp owered by those who assailed him
He cried in vain to gods and to men for he l p and in hi s
nal agony he heard on c e more the harsh voices of the
mi gratory birds a nd the rush of their speeding wings
From the grou n d where he ble d to d eath h e l oo ked u p
to them
Take up my caus e d ear crane s
sin c e
h e s aid
no voice but yours answers my c ry
And the c ranes s creamed hoarsely and m ou m ful l y
as they apped their way towards
a s if in fare w ell
Corinth an d l eft the p oet ly ing de ad
When his body was foun d robbed and terribly
wounded from all over Gree c e where he was known
and loved there upros e a great cl amour of l amentation
Is it th us I nd y ou restored to me
sa i d h e wh o
had expe cted hi m in C orinth as hi s honou red gu est ;
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

19 4

I who hoped to p la c e the V i ctor s l aurels on your hea d


when you triumphed in the temple of song
And all those whom the loving personali ty of Iby cus
and the charm of his music had made his friends were
a lert and eager to avenge so foul a mu rder But none
knew how the wi ck ed deed had c ome to p a ss none
save the crane s
Then c ame the day to which Iby cu s had l ooked
forward with su c h j oy when thousands upon thousands
o f his c ountrymen sat in the theatre at Cypru s and
watched a play that stirred their hearts within them
The theatre had for roof the blue vault of heaven ; the
s erved for footlights and for the lights above
su n
the heads of those who a cted The three Furies
the Eumenides w ith their hard and cruel fa c e s and
snaky l o cks and with blood dripping from their eyes
Were represented by actors s o great that the hearts of
their beholder s trembled within them In their dread
hands lay the p un ishment of murder of i nh ospitality
of ingratitude
and of all the cruellest and basest of
c rimes Theirs was the duty of hurrying the doomed
spirits entrusted to their mer ciless care over the Phle
the
river
re
that
ows
round
Hades
and
o
f
e
t
h
on
g
through the b razen gate s that l ed to Torment and their
rob es were rob es worn
.

W ith all

th e

p mp
o

h rr r
o

dy d in

g or e

VI

R GI

In s olemn caden c e while the thousands of beholders


watched and listened enthralled the Furies wa lked
round the theatre and s ang their Song of terror :
,

TH E C RAN ES O F IB YCUS

Woe

195

woe ! to him whose hands are soiled with


blood ! The darkness shall not hide him nor shall hi s
dread secret lie hidden even in the bowels of the earth
He Shall not seek by ight to es c ape us for vengean c e
is ours and swifter than a hawk that strikes its quarry
shall we stri ke
Unwearying we pursue nor are ou r
swift feet and ou r avenging arm s made slow by pity
Woe ! woe ! to the shedder of inno cent blood for n or
pea c e nor rest is his until We have hurried his tormented
soul down to torture that shall endure everlastingly
As the l isteners heard the dirge of doom there were
none who did not think of Ibycus the gentle hearted
p oet so mu ch beloved and so foul ly done to death an d
in the tensity of the moment when the voi c es cease d a
great thrill passed over the mul titudes as a voice shrill
with amazed horror burst from on e of the uppermost
benches
!

S ee there !

see

behol d,

there

com rade,

the

cran es o

Ibycu s

Every eye looked upwards and harshly crying


there pas sed overhead the ock of cranes to whom the
poet ha d entrusted his dying message Then like an
electric shock there c ame to all those who beheld the
knowledge that he w h o had c ried aloud was the mu rd erer
of Iby cus

S eize him ! seize him !


cried in unison the
voi c e s of thousan ds
S eize the m an and hi m to who m
he spoke
Frantically the trembling wretch tried to deny his
words but it wa s too l ate The re ar of the multitude s
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

19 6

was as that of an angry se a that hungers for its p re y


an d will n ot be denied He who had spoken and him
to who m he spoke were seized by a s c ore of ea g er
han d s
In white fa ced terror because the Furies had hunted
the m down they made c onfession of their crime and
Were put to death And the o ck of grey plumage d
rosy headed c ranes winge d their way on to the marshe s
there to be ck and bow to ea c h other and to dance in the
g ol den sunset well content be c ause their message was
de l ivered and Iby cus the poet musician who had given
the m wel c ome was avenged
.

SYRIN X
th
it b c a
W i ld w d p a i
ti l l l i
b cau
ti ll i
m i d th v i c f S yri x l i
m u i c th m u i c f r g r t d l g i g that f

i
t
t
a
ll
ru
i
g
wat
r
s
F
I
ON
A
M
AC
p
p

Is

se

so

u se

o en

oo

ou r

ss o n

an

nn n

on

AS

or

ger s i
h art s
g r s i m e l a ch ly
m t f u s th r i
EOD
n

os

ou r

e e

the evening shadows lengthen and the night win d


softly steals through the trees tou ching w ith restless
ngers the still waters of the little lochans that would
fain have rest there c an be heard a long l ong whisper
l ike a sigh There is no softer sadder note to be heard
in all Pan s great or che stra nor c an on e marvel that it
shou ld be so for the whi sp er comes from the reeds w h o
gently sway their hea d s while the win d passes over the m
as they grow by l one ly l ake or river
Th is is th e story of S yrinx the reed a s Ovid h as told
it to us
In Ar c adia there dwelt a nymph whose na me wa s
Syrinx So fair Sh e was that for her dear sake fauns
and satyrs forgot to gambol and sat in the green woods
in thoughtful stillness that they might see her as she
passed But for none of them had Syrinx a word of
kindness She had no wish for love
,

v tr l y I k w hi m t
I h av p a i at ly t r d my l i p th r fr m
A d fr m that fat th c ar l
g d all t
L ADY M A R G A R E T S AC K
Bu t

as

fo r L o

ss o n

e,

no

no

ne

e e ss

1 97

e e

V ILL

A B OOK O F MYTH S

19 8

To

only of the gods did sh e give her l oya l all e


n ce
She
worshipped
Diana
and
with
her
followed
i
a
g
the c hase As sh e lightly sped through the forest sh e
might have been Diana herself and there were those
who said they would not know nymph from goddess
but that the g oddess c arried a silver bow while that of
Syrinx was made of horn Fearles s an d without a c are
or sorrow
Syrin x passed her happy da ys Not for all
the g old of Midas would sh e have changed pla c es with
those l ove lorn nymphs who sighe d their hearts ou t for
love o f a god or of a man Heartw h ol e fan cy free gay
and happy and lithe and strong as a young boy whose
j oy it is to run and to ex c el in the chase was S yrinx
whose white arms against the greenwood tree s dazzle d
the eye s of the watching fauns when sh e drew ba ck h er
h ow to speed an arro w at the stag sh e had hunted sin c e
early d awn E a c h m orning that sh e awok e was the
morning of a day of j oy each night that sh e l ay down
to rest it was to sleep as a chil d w h o smiles in hi s slee p
at the remembran c e of a p erfe c t day
But to Syrinx who knew n o fear Fear c ame at last
She wa s returning on e evening from the shadowy hills
untired by the c has e that had lasted for many an hour
when fa c e to face sh e met w ith on e whom hitherto sh e
had only seen from afar O f him the other nymphs spok e

often Who was so great as Pan


Pan who ruled the
woods None c ould stand against Pan Those who de
e d him must ever come under his power in the end
He
was Fear ; he was Youth ; he wa s Joy ; he Was Love ; he
wa s B e ast ; h e wa s Po wer ; h e wa s Man ; he was God
on e

SYRINX

19 9

H e was Life itself S o did they talk and Syrinx listened


with a smile N ot Pan himself c ould brin g Fear to her
Yet when he met her in the silent loneliness of a
great forest and stoo d in her path and gazed on her with
eyes of j oyous amazement that one s o fair should be in
his king do m without his having had knowledge of it
Syrin x fe lt somethin g c om e to her heart that n ever
b efore had assailed it
Pan s head was c rowned with sharp pine l eave s His
fa c e was you ng and beautiful and yet older than the
mountain s and the sea s Sadness and j oy were in hi s
eyes at the same time and at the same moment there
l ooked ou t from them unutterable tendernes s and merci
less cruelty For only a littl e spa c e of time did he stand
and hold her eyes with his own and then in l ow caressing
voi c e he spok e and his words were l ike the song of a
bird to his mate like the cal l of the earth to the su n in
spring like the l ap of the waves when they tell the rocks
Of love he spoke of love that
of their eternal l onging
deman ded love and of the nymph s most perfe ct beauty
Yet as he spok e the unknown thing c am e an d s mote
w ith icy hand s the heart of Syrinx

sh e c rie d an d
Ah ! I have Fear ! I have Fear !
more crue l grew the crue lty in the eyes of Pan but hi s
words were still the word s of passionate tenderness
Like a bird that trembles help l ess before the serpent
that woul d slay it so did Syrinx the huntress stand and
her fa c e in the shade of the forest was like a white lily in
the night But when the god would have draw n her
clos e to him and kissed her red l ip s Fear leapt to Terror
.

A BOO K OF MYTHS

2 00

and Terror winged her feet Never in the chase with


Diana had sh e run as n ow sh e ran But like a rushing
storm di d P an pursue her and when he laughed sh e
knew that what the nymphs had said was true h e was
P ow er h e was Fear h e was B ea st h e was Life itself
The dar kness of the forest swiftly grew more dark The
cl imbing trails of iv y and the fragrant c ree p ing p l ants
c aught her yin g feet and made her stumb le Branches
and twigs grew a l ive and snatched at her an d baulked
Trees b l ocked her path Al l Nature
h er as sh e p assed
had grown cruel and everywhere there see med to her
to be a murmur of mo cking laughter l aughter from the
c rea tures of P an echoing the mer c i l ess merri m ent of
their l ord and master Nearer he ca m e ever nearer
Almost sh e c ould fee l his brea th o n her ne ck ; bu t
even a s he stretched ou t his ar m s to seize the nymp h
w ho s e breath came with s obs l i k e that of a you ng
doe spent by the chase they rea ched the brink of
the river L ade n An d to her
watery sisters
the
nymph s of the river Syr i nx breathe d a de sp erate prayer
for p ity and for hel p then stumb l ed forwar d a qu arry
ru n to the d eath
W ith an exul tant shout Pan gra sp e d her as sh e fell
And 10 in his arms he he l d no exquisite body with
er c ely be ating heart but a clump of s lender reeds
Bafed he stood for a l ittle s pace and as he stood the
s avagery of the beast faded from his eye s that were
fathomless as d ark m ountain tarns where the su n
rays se l dom c ome and there c ame into them a man s
unutterable woe At the reeds by the river he gazed
.

SYRIN X
an d

20 1

sighed a great sigh the sigh that comes from the


heart of a god who thinks of the pain of the w orld Like
a gentle zephyr the sigh breathed through the reeds
and from the reed s there c ame a sound a s of the s obbing
sorrow of the world s desire Then P an d rew hi s s harp
knife a n d with it he cut s even of the reed s that grew
by the murmuring river

Thus shalt thou still be mine my Syrinx he s ai d


D eftly he bound them together cut them into u n
equal lengths and fashioned for himse lf an instru ment
that to this day is c alled the Syrinx or Pan s P ipe s
S o di d the god make music
And all that night he sat by the s w ift ow in g river
and the musi c from his pipe of ree d s was so sweet and
yet so passing sad that it seeme d as though the very
heart of the earth itself were telling of its sadness Thus
Syrin x still lives still dies :
t f m u i c by it w br e ath l ai
A
B l w t d r ly fr m th frai l h art f a r e d
,

s o

no e o

n,

en

as the evening light c ome s down on silent p l a c e s


and the trembling shadows fall on the water We can
hear her mou rnful whisper through the swaying reeds
brown and si lvery golden that grow by l onely lo chan
and lake an d river

an d

THE DEAT H O F AD ONIS


Th e

fair t y t h t h at v r m ai d
es

ou

THE

en s

d r am c c iv e d
L E W IS M O RRI S
e

on

"

i deally beau tiful woman a subj e ct throughout th e


centur ies for all the greatest powers of s culptor s and
painter s ar t is Venus or Aphrodite goddess of beauty
and of love And he who shares with her an unending
suprema cy of perfection of form is not one of the gods
her equals but a mortal lad who was the son of a king
As Aphrodite sported on e day with Eros the little god
of l ove by a cc ident she wounded her s elf with on e of his
arrows And straightway there c ame into h er heart a
strang e l onging and an a che su ch as the mortal victims
While still the ache
of the bow o f Eros knew well
re m ained sh e heard in a forest of Cyprus the baying
of hound s and the shouts o f those who urged them on in
the chase For her the chase possessed no charms and
She stood aside while the quarry burst through the
branches and thi ck undergrowth of the wood and the
hounds followed in hot pursuit But sh e drew her
breath sharply and her eyes opened wide in amazed
gladness when sh e looked on the perfe ct beauty of the
e et footed hunter who was only a little less swift than
the shining spear that sped from his hand w ith the sure
ness of a bolt from the hand of Zeus And sh e knew
,

202

THE DE ATH O F AD ONIS

2 03

th at

this must be none o th er than Adonis so n of the


king of Paphos of whose matchless b e au ty sh e had
heard not only the dweller s on earth but the O lympians
themselves speak in wonder While gods and men were
ready to pay homage to hi s marvellous loveliness to
Adonis himself it counted for nothing But in the
vigour of his perfect frame he rej oiced ; in his eetn ess
of foot in the power of that arm that Mi chael Angelo
has modelled in the quickness and sureness of his aim
for the b oy Was a mighty hunter with a pas sion for the
,

Aphrodite felt that her heart wa s n o l onger her ow n


an d knew that the wound that the arrow of Eros had
dealt would never heal until sh e knew that Adonis loved
her No l onger was sh e to be found by the Cytherian
shores or in those places on c e held by her most dear
and the other gods smiled when they beheld her vying
with Diana in the chase an d following Adonis as he
pursued the roe the wolf and the wild boar through the
dark forest and up the mountain side The pride of the
godde s s of love must often have hung its head For
her l ove was a thing that Adonis could not understand
He he l d her Something better than his dog a little

dearer than his horse and wondered at her whim to


follow his hou nds through brake and marsh and lonely
forest Hi s re ckless c ourage was her pride and her
torture Be c ause he was to her so innitely dear his
path s ee m ed ever be strewn with dangers But when
sh e spoke to him with anxious warning and begged hi m
to beware of the er c e beasts that might one day turn
,

A BO O K OF MYTHS

2 04

him and bring him death the boy l aughed mockingly


and w i th scorn
There c ame at last a day when she ask e d him what
he did on the morrow and Adonis told her with sparkling
eyes that had n o heed for her beauty that he had word
older more erc e than any he
o f a wild boar larger
had ever sl ain and which before the chariot of Diana
next passed over the l and of Cypru s woul d be lying
d ead with a spear Wound thr ough it
With terrib l e foreboding Ap hr odite tried to dissua d e
hi m from his venture
on

a d vi d th u k w t t what it i
W ith jav l i p i t a ch r l i h wi t g r
Wh t h
v r h ath d h w h tt th s ti ll
L i k t a m rtal b t c h r b t t k i l l
0

be

se

us

o se

Ala

n s

o n

es ne

no

ne

en

no

o e,

au ght e s t e m that fa f thi


y p ay tr i butary gaz ;
T whi c h l v
N
th y ft ha d w t l i p
d c ry ta l yn
Wh f l l p rf c ti all th w r ld am az ;
B t havi g th
at va ta g w d r u s d r a d
h r t th m a d
W ld r t th s e b a ti
S H A K E SP EAR E
s,

he

or

ose

ou

e s e

so

oo

n e,

es

s, s

on

ee

ce o

es

s, a n

ee

on

e s as

e,

es

oo s

al l her w arnings Adonis woul d but give smiles


111 would it be c ome him to slink abashed away before
the ercen ess of an ol d monster of the woods and
laughing in the pride of a whole hearted boy at a woman s
idle fears he sped homewards with his hounds
With the gnawing dread of a mortal wom an in her
soul Aphrodite spent the next hours Early sh e sought
the forest that sh e might again plead with Adonis and
To

THE

DEATH O F AD ONIS

2 05

maybe p ersuade him for love of her to give u p the


perilous chase because sh e love d him so
But even as the rosy gates of the Dawn Were opening
Adonis had begun his hunt and from afar o ff the goddess
c ould hear the baying of his hounds Yet surely their
clamour Was n ot that of hounds in full cry nor wa s it the
triumphant noise that they so fiercely make as they pull
down their vanquished quarry but rather was it baying
mou rnful as that of the hounds of Hecate S wift a s a
great bir d Ap hrodite reached the spot from when c e
c ame the sound that made her tremble
Amidst the trampled brake where many a hound l ay
stiff and dead While others disembowelled by the tusks
of the boar howled aloud in morta l agony lay Adonis
As he l ay he
knew the strange sl ow c hill whi ch

stealing tells the young that it is death


And as in ewtrem is he thought of past things man
h ood c ame to Adonis and he knew something of th e
meaning of the love of Aphroditea love stronger than
life than time than death itse lf His hounds and his
spear seemed but plaything s now Only the eternitie s
remained bright Life and black robed Death
Very still he l ay as though he sle pt marble white
and beautiful as a statue Wrought by the hand of a god
But from the cruel wound in the white thigh ripped
open by the boar s profaning tusk the red blood dripped
in rhythmic ow crimsoning the green mos s under him
With a moan o f unutterable anguish Aphrodite threw
herself beside him and pillowed his dear head in her
tender arm s
Then for a little while life s e mbers
,

A B O O K O F MYTHS

206

i ckered up his c old l ips tried to form themselves into


a smile of understanding and held themselves up to hers
And while they kissed the soul of Adonis passed away
,

A cru l c ru l w

d h i thi g h hath A d i s b t a d p r w u d
b ear A b t h im h i d ar h d e
i
h e h art d th Cy th e r a
d th
l u dly bay i g
ym p h s f th e wi ld w d wai l hi m ; b t
Ap hr d it W i th b u d l ck thr gh th e gla d g wa d ri g
wr t ch d with hair brai d d with f e t a d all d d th th r a s
d p l ck th e b l
h
pa e w d h
m f h e a cr e d b l d
S hri ll h wai l d w th e w d l a d h e i b r
A d th riv e r s
d th e w e ll
b wai l th e rr w of A p hr di t
e we pi g A d
is
Th w r h
d f
a g i h d Cy th r a throu gh
th e m u tai
a ll th m ou t i k e e s thr u gh e v ry d e ll d th utte r p it e s d ir g
e

un

s as

so

ns

w oe

or

an

oo

e s

us

o s so

re

or

u s

s ar

o ns

oo

on

an

on

e e

ou n

an

ar
,

oe s

o ne

e , an

un s n

es

ou

ee

oo

ou

n a n-

on

er

oun

Woe

un

ss

on
e

an

ou n

ou

e :

B r0 N

Cy therea he ha th p erished, the l ovely Adon is


,

P assionately the god besought Zeus to give her bac k


her lost love and when there was no answer to her
prayers sh e cried in bitternes s : Yet shall I keep a

m emorial of Adonis that shall be to all everl asting !


And as sh e spoke her tears and hi s bloo d mingling
together were turned into OWers
A tear the P aphian s heds for each b lood drop of
Adonis and tears and blood on the earth are turned to
owers The b lood bring s forth the rose s the tears the

Wind ow er
Yet even then the grief of Aphrodite knew no
abate m ent An d when Zeus wearied with her c ryin g
heard her to his amazement beg to b e allowed to go
down to the Shades that sh e might there endure eternal
twilight with the on e of her heart his soul was softened

Never c an it be that the Queen of Love and of


Aphr dit
,

e.

TH E D EATH O F AD ONIS

2 07

B eauty l eaves O lympus and the p leasant earth to tread

he said
Nay
for evermore the dark Cocytus valley
rather s hall I p ermit the beauteous youth of thy l ove to
return for half of each year from the Underworld that
thou and he may together know the j oy of a love that

hath reached fruition


Thu s d id it c ome to pass that when dark w inter s
gloom was past Adonis returned to the earth and to th e
arms of her who loved him
.

v i d ath
tro g i s l ov e
I c uld t wh lly d i
d y ar b y y ar
d th e e arth l i ve s
W h e th bri ght p ri g tim c m
d a ll m f rth
th s d r a d g at
L v Op
A cr th g l f N t h r i d d h c m e
d i h av
B i g a g dd
b t m
th
My p ath t th l d arth wh r ti ll I k w
O
m r th w t l t d ay
d
c agai
Bl m
that ft br a t d a m a gai
A y uth d rap t i l v
d y t
t a ll
A c ar l
f y r ; b t
mt k w
Th
ar ly p ri g f p a i tam d by ti m
A d u ff ri g t a c alm r f ll r w
L e ss tf l but m or e s tr o g
L w 1 M ORR I S
Bu t

en

en s

oss

e o

n ce

osso

ee

e e ss as o

o e

on

no

no

oo

ss on ,

s,

no

se e

an

an

s , an

e e s

os

An d when the time

en ,

ee

an

e e

e e,

e s, an

e s, an

so

on

e s

o e

an

e ss an

e n

e e

so s

no

the singing of bird s ha s c ome


and the owers have thrown off their white snow pal l
and the brown earth grows radiant in it s adornments of
green b lade and of fragrant blossom we know that
Adonis has returned fro m his exile and trace hi s foot
print s b y the fragile ower that is his very o w n the
white ower with the golden heart that trembles in the
win d as onc e the white hands of a grief stri cken god d e ss
shook for sorrow
of

A B OO K O F MYTH S

2 08

The ower o f Death is the name that the Chine s e

give to the wind ow er the wood anemone Yet surely


the ower that was born of tears an d of blood tells us

f
a
life
that
is
beyond
the
rave
o
a
love
which
is
of
g
unending
The c ruel t u sk of a rough remorseless winter stil l

yearly slays the lovely Adonis an d drives him do w n


to the Shades Yet we know that S prin g with its
S ursu m Corda wi l l return as l ong as the earth shall
endure ; even as the su n must rise each day so long
as time shal l last to make
-

Le

Qu

c i e l t t ur m b l e
Ad i c l e te a tei t
ou

un

en

on s

se

un e

imm

de

r
a g D H E R ED I A
o se

e n se

son s n

W hat wa s h e d i g th gr at g d P
D w i th r d by th r i v r P
S p r ad i g r i d catt ri g b
S pl a hi g d p a ddl i g with h f f a g at
A d br a k i g th g l d
l i l i a at
W ith th d rag y th riv r
o n

ee

u n an

an

an ,

oo s o

en

on -

an ,

es

t r t a r d th gr at g d P
F r m th d p c l b d f th riv r
Th l im p i d wat r t rbi d l y
lili
dy i g lay
A d th br k
A d th d ra g
y h d d away
t f th riv r
E
h br ght it
He

o e ou

ee

re

en

e s a-

on -

ou

ou

ran ,

oo

ee

an ,

on

Thi i th way lau gh d th gr at g d P


h
L
a
g
h
d
whi
l
s
at
b
y
th riv r )
(
l y w y i c g d b ga
Th
w t m i c th y c l d s cc d
T m ak
Th d r pp i g hi s m uth t a h l i th r d
H b l w i p w r b y th riv r
S w t sw t w t 0 P !
P i r c i g w t by th r i v r !
B l i d i g w t 0 gr at g d P
th hi l l f r g t t d i
Th
r viv d d th d rag y
A d th l il i
th riv r
Ca m ba ck t d r a m
Y t ha l f a b a t i th gr at g d P
h S i t b y th riv r
T la g h
M ak i g a p t t f a m
g d i g h f th c t d p ai
Th tr
d whi ch gr w v r m r agai
th r
F
A a r d with th r d i th r i v r E B
s

e on

en ,

oe

ue

or

an

s s

ee

an

e,

on -

an ,

an

or

os

s ne

ee

ee

on

ou

o e

as

ee

an

ou

es

an

ee

ee

ee

e su n o n

s n

us

ee

ee

e s

ee

ee

209

an

n,

o e

B ROW N m
O

A BOO K OF MYTH S

2 10

WE RE we to take the whole o f that immense c onstruction


of fable that was once the religion o f Gree c e and treat it
as a vast play in which there were many thousands of
actors we should nd that on e o f these actors appeared
again and again In on e scene then in another in con
then with another u n e x
n ection with o n e character
e cte dl
slipping
u t from the shadows o f the trees from
o
p
y
the rst act even to the last we should see Pan so young
and yet so ol d so heedlessly gay yet so innitely sad
If rather we were to regard the mythology of
Greece as a c olossal and wonderful pie c e of music where
the thunders of Jupiter and the harsh hoo f beats of the
erc e black steeds of Pluto the king whose c omin g none
can stay made way for the limpid melodies o f O rpheus
an d the rustlin g whisper o f the footfall of nymphs and
of fauns o n the leaves through it all we shoul d have an
ever recurring m otif the clear magical u tin g of the
p ipes of Pan
We have the stories of Pan and of Echo of Pan and
o f Midas of P an and Syrinx o f P an and Selene o f Pan and
Pitys of Pan and Po mona Pan it was w h o taught Apollo
h ow to make music
It was P an who S poke what h e
dee med to be c omfort to the distraught Psyche Pan w h o
gave D iana her bou n ds The other gods had their own
specia l parts in the great p lay that at on e time woul d
have O lympus for stage at another the earth Pan was
Nature in ca rnate He was the Earth itself
Many are the stories of his genealogy but the on e
that is given in on e o f the Homeric hymns is that Hermes
the swift footed y oung god wedded D ryope the beautiful
,

PAN

211

d aughter of a shepherd in Ar c adia an d to them was


born under the greenwood tree the infant Pan When
Dryope rst loo ke d on her child sh e was smitten w ith
horr or and ed away from him
Th e deser te d baby
roared lustily and when his father Hermes exa mine d
him he fou nd a rosy cheeked thing with p ric k ears and
tin y horns that grew amongst his thick curls and with
the dappled furry chest of a faun while instea d of
di mpled baby legs he had the strong hairy hind l egs of
a goat H e was a fearless creature and merry withal
and when Hermes had Wrapped him up in a hare skin
he sped to O lympus and showed his fellow gods the son
that had been born to him and the beautiful nymph of
the forest B aby though he was P an made the O lym
pians l augh H e had only made a woman his o w n
mother cry al l others rej oiced at the new cr eature that
had come to in crease their merriment And B acchus
who l oved him most o f all an d felt that here was a babe
after his ow n heart bestowed on him the name by whi c h
he was forever known Pan meaning Al l
Thus P an grew up the earthly equal of the O lympians
and as he grew he took to himself the l ordship of
woods and of solitary places He was king of huntsmen
and of sherm en lord of ocks and herds and of al l the
wild creatures of the forest All living soul less thin gs
owned him their master ; even the wild bees claimed
him as their overlord H e was ever merry and when a
riot of music and of laughter slew the stillness of the
shadowy woods it was Pan who l ed the dancing throng
nym ph s and gamboll ing satyrs for
o f White limb e d
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

2 12

whom he made melody from the pipes for whose c reation


a maid had perished
R ound his horn s and thick curls he presently c ame to
wear a crown of sharp pine leaves remembran ce of another
fair nymph whose destruction he had brought about
P itys listened to the musi c of P an and followed him
even as the children followed the P ied Piper o f later
story And ever his playing lure d her further on an d
into more dangerous and desolate places until at length
sh e stood o n the edge o f a high cliff whose pitiless front
rushed sheer dow n to crue l rock s far below There
P an s music ceased and P ity s knew all the j oy an d the
sorrow of the world a s the god held ou t his arms to
embra c e her But neither Pan nor P itys had remem
bran c e of B oreas the mer c iles s north w ind whose love
the nymph had ou te d
Ere P an could touch her a blast erce and strong as
death had seized the nymph s fragile body and as a
W ind of Mar c h tears from the tree the rst white blossom
that has dared to brave the ruthl ess gales and c asts it
torn an d dying to the earth so did Boreas grip the
slender P itys and dash her life o u t o n the rocks far
down below From her body sprang the pine tree
slen der erect clinging for dear life to the sides of pre c i
k
i
ce
s
and
by
the
pri
c
ly
wreath
he
always
wore
P
an
p
showed that he held her in fond remembran c e
Joy and youth and force and spring was Pan to a l l
the c reatu res whose overlord he was Pan meant the
richness o f the sap in the trees the lushness of grass
and of the green stems of the blue hyacinths and the
.

P AN

2 13

g olden daffodils the throbbing of growth in the wood


land an d in the m eadows the trilling of birds that seek
for their mate s and nd them the coo o f the doves o n
their nests of young ; the arrogant virility of bulls and
of stags whose lowing and belling wake the sil ence of
the hills ; the lightness o f heart that made the nymphs
dance a n d sing the faun s leap high and shout aloud
for very j oy o f l iving Al l of these things wa s Pan to
those of his o w n kin gdom
Yet to the human men an d women wh o had also
listened to his playing Pan did not mean only j oyousness
H e was to them a force that m any times be came a terror
b e cause of its sheer irresistibleness
While the sun s hone and the herdsmen c oul d see the
n od di ng white c o tton grass the a sphodel and the golden
kingcups that hid the b lack death traps of the pitiless
marshes they had n o fear of Pan Nor in the day
time when in the woods the sun bea m s p layed amongst
the trees and the birds s ang of Sprin g and of love
an d
the syrinx sent an echo from far away that
made the little silver birches give a whispering laugh of
gladness and the pines cease to sigh did man or maid
have any fear
Yet when darkness fell on the land
terror woul d c ome with it and deep in their hearts
they would kn ow that the terror was Pan B lin dl y
madly they woul d ee from something that they c oul d
not see something they coul d barely h ear and many
times rush to their own destru ction And there woul d
be no sweet sound of musi c then only mocking laughter
P an ic was the name given to this fear th e name by
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

2 14

which it still is known And to this day panic yet


comes and not only by night but only in very lonely
pla ces
There are those who have known it and for
shame have scarce dared to o w n it in highland glens
in the loneliness of an island in the western sea in a
green valley amongst the
solemn kindly roun d
backed hill s o f the S c ottish Border in the remoteness
They have no reasons to give
o f the Australian bush
Only to them as to
or their reasons are far fetched
Mowgli F ear c ame and the fear seemed to them to
c ome from a malignant something from which they
must make all haste to ee did they value safety of
mind and o f body Was it for this reason that the
Roman legionaries on the Great Wall so often reared
altars in that lonely land of moor and moun tain where
so many o f them fou ht and died
g
.

T0 P a n ,

For

an

d to the Sy l va n deities

9
.

sur ely Pan was there w here the curlew crie d and
the pewit mourned and s ometimes the waiting s oldiers
must almost have imagined his mocking laughter borne
l
in the winds that swept across the bleak hil s of their
e xiled solitude
H e who was surely on e of the bravest of mankind
always In his own words
clun g to hi s
o n e who

paddle writes of such a fear when he escaped death


by drown ing from the O ise in ood
The devouring element in the universe had leaped
o u t against m e in this green vall ey quickened by a run
ning stream
The bells were al l very pretty in their
way but I had heard some of the hollow notes of Pan s
,

PAN

215

music Woul d th e wi cke d river d rag me down by the


hee ls indeed and look so beautiful all the time

Nature s good humour was only skin deep after all


And of th e reeds he writes
Pan once played upon
their forefathers ; and so by the hands o f his river he
still plays upon these later generations down all the valley
o f th e O ise ;
and plays the same air both sweet and

shrill to tell us o f the b eauty and the terror of the world


wa s n ot
The B eau ty an d the terror of the w orl d
this what P an stood for to the Gree ks of long ago

f
f
The gladness o living the terror o living the ex
that has been the
u
i
site j oy and the innite
pain
q
possession of Pan for we have n ot yet found a more

tting title since ever time began An d because Pan


is a s he is from him has evolved a higher Pantheism
We have done away with his goat s feet an d his horns
although these were handed on from him to S atan when
Christianity broke down the altars of Paganism
Nature which is the Time vesture of God and reveals

writes
Him to the wise hides H im from the foolish
Carlyle Pan is Nature and Natu re is n ot the ugly thing
that the Calvinists wou l d on c e have had us believe it to be
Nature is capable of b eing made the garment of God
I B i g d i A c ti
t rm
I wal k d w rk ab v b ath
!
d l s m ti
W r k d w av i
d D ath
B th
c a 3
A i it
A izi g d g ivi g
f L ivi g
Th
Ti th s at th r ari g l m f Ti m I ply
t H i m by
A d w av f G d th Garm t th u
.

'

e n

oo

an

an

s,

se
e

es

en

en e

e,

an

l r
n

on s s o

e o

an

on

re o

oo

or

en

se e s

A B OO K O F MYTHS

2 16

So speaks the E rdgezst in Goethe s F au st and yet


a nother of the greatest o f the poets writes
'

Th e

A re

su n ,

th s

n ot

e e,

A n d th e
Bu t

if w

th e

e ar o f
e co u

oo n ,

ld

S l
ou

m an

s tar

th e

th e V

ca

ii

s on o f

th e

hi ll

s an d

H im w h r ig
o

t h ar d th y e f m
h ar thi s V i i w r it

nno

s e e an d

se as

th e

s,

e e

an

s on

ns

an

e e

th e p

l ai s
n

ca

n no

n ot

se e

He

TE NN Y S ON

Carlyle

says that The whole universe is the Gar

and he w h o lives v erv close to Nature


m ent of God
m ust at l east once in a lifetime come in the s olitude of
th e lonely mountain tops upon that bush that burns and
i s n ot yet c onsumed and ou t of the midst of whi ch
s peaks the voice o f the Eternal

e
immortal
soul
the
human
body
u
n
ited
yet
T
h
g
e ver in c on ict that is Pan
The sighing and longing
f or things that must endure everlastingly the riotous

f
f
the beauty o life the perfect a ppreciation
e nj oyment o
Life is so real so strong so full
o f the things that are

~
f
o
j
oyousness
and
beauty
and on the other side o f a
of
dark stream cold menacing cruel stands Death Yet
Lif e and Death make up the su m of existence and until
w e who live our paltry little lives here on earth in the
h ope of a Beyond can realise what is the true air that is
layed
on those pipes o f Pan there is no hope for us of
p
e ven a vague comprehension o f the illimitable Im m or
tal ity
It is a very ol d tale that tells us o f the passing of
Pan In the reign of Tiberius on that day when on
the hill of Calvary at Jerusalem in S yr ia Jesus Christ
,

PAN

2 17

died as a malefa ctor on the cross


An d it was about
the sixth hour and there was a darkness all over the
earth Thamus an Egyptian pilot was guiding a ship
near the islands of Paxae in the Ionian Sea ; and to him
came a great voice saying Go make everywhere the
proclamation Great P an is dead !
And from the poop of his ship when in great beav i
ness of heart be c ause for him the j oy of the world seemed
to have passed a way Thamus had reached Pal o des he
shouted aloud the words that he had been told Then
from all the earth there arose a sound of great lamenta
tion an d th e sea and the trees the hills and all the
creatures of Pan sighed in sobbing unison an e cho of

d
P an is dead
the pilot s words
P an is dea
,

ly m

ti
A d th r
di g h r
A v i c f w p i g h ard d l d la m t ;
F r m ha t d p ri g d d a l
E d g d with p p l ar p a l
i s with i ghi g t ;
Th p arti g g i
W ith w i w v tr
t r

f t g l d thi ck t m r
Th N ymp h i twil i g ht ha d
M I T ON

Th e

on e

un

e,

r- n

en

ou

an

e sse s

en

se n

en u s

an

o e,

ee

e o

ou n a n s o er

e so u n

o n

an

e o

e s

ou n

Pan was dead and the gods died with him


,

G d
o

s of

H lla g d
s,

H lla

s of

s,

l i te i y r i l c !
y ur my ti c v i c t ll
W h e r y hi d ! I ati g i l a ds
W ith a wi d that v r m r e
t f i g ht f h r !
Ke p y
i d e ad
P ; P
Can y e
Can o
e

en

es

ou

o u ou
an

an

us

o
.

o e

A B O OK OF MYTHS

2 18

G d ! w vai ly d a djur y
Y re t r
v ic
s ig
N ta
tary
ld s c r y
a grav f y r D ivi !
Ev
h w th r by
N t a grav t
o

n n or

vo

e n or

c ou

en

e u e

ou

or

o s

ou ,

ou

ne

H ere these gr ey ol d gods do l ie,

Pan , Pan

i s d a d E B B RO W N I N G
e

Pan is dead In the Old Hellenistic sense Pan i s


gone forever Yet until Nature has cea sed to be the
thing we c all Pan must remain a livin g entity S ome
there b e who c all his musi c when he makes all humanity

dan c e to his piping J oie de vivre and De Musset

s peaks of L e zan de l a j eu nesse which ferments dan s

It is P an w h o inspire s Seumas the


l es vein es de D iea
of whom Fiona Ma c leod wr ites
and who
ol d is l ander
l ooking toward s the sea at sunrise says
Every
morning l ike thi s I tak e my hat off to the beauty of the

world
Half of the esh and half of the spirit is Pan
There are some who have never c ome into c ontact with
him who know him only as the emblem of Paganism a
c rue l thing more beast than man trampling with goat s
feet on the gentlest owers of spring They know not

the meaning of the Green Fire of Life nor have they


ever known Pan s moods of tender sa dn ess Never to
them has come in the forest where the grea t grey trunks
o f the beeches rise from a carpet o f primroses and blue
hyacinths and the slender silver beeches are the guar
dian angels o f the starry wood anemones and the sun
beams slant through the oak and beech leaves o f tender
green and play on the dead amber leaves of a year that
.

'

P AN

2 19

gone the whisper of little feet that cannot be seen th e


piercing sweet musi c from very far away that lls the
heart with gladness and yet with a strange pain the
ache of the Wel tschm erz the echo of the pipes of Pan

is

O ft
t i th d ark w d I h ar h im i g
r m m b r d thi g wh r th l d m e cl i g
D im ha l f
d th e fai t wa d ri g dd i
bri g
T th e Ol d tr
F I ON A M ACL E O D
Th e p ha t m e ch e s f a p ha t m p ri g
en e s

e e s, a n

oo

e e

s,

s n

e o

o ss

es

L O RELEI
c:

Ich
D

e iss

ch t,

trauri g b i
alt
M r ch
k mm t m i
d

ss i ch so

Bin
D as

e u ten ,

e n aus

b d

w a s 5 0 11

en

r au s

Ze

em

it

en ,

Sm n

Ju gf au it e t
w d rbar
D rt b
G ch m i d e b l i t
1h g ld
s H aar
S i k m m t ih g ld
D ie

sc h o ns te

un

en

es

n es

z e t,

S i e k am m

i gt
D
h t i
G wal t g

L ud
as

s n

g ld m
d d be i ;

es

m it

e in

L ie

e ne

ne

ne

a mm

e,

w un d e rsarn e ,

Me l od e i

H E N E
I

every land North and South Ea st and West from


se a to se a my th and legend h and down to us as cr u el and
mal igna nt creatur es who cea se les sly see k to sla y m a n s
body and to d es trov his soul the hal f human chil dre n
of the restless sea and of the er ce ly run nin g streams
In Scotland an d in Austral ia in every part of
Eur ope we have tal es of horrible form l es s things which
frequent lonely rivers and loch s and ma rshe s and
to mee t which mu st mea n Dea th
And equa l in malig
nity with them
and in n itely more dangerous ar e the
bea utiful beings who woul d see m to claim d escent from
Lilith the soul l es s w if e of Adam
S uch w e re the sir ens who woul d ha ve compassed the
,

L O RELEI

2 21

d es tru ction of O dysseu s Such are the mermaids to w ed


with one of whom must bring unutterable w oe upon any
of the sons of men
In lonely far off pla ces by the sea
there still are t al es of exquisite melodies heard in the
gloaming or at night when the m oon mak es a silver
pathway across the water ; stil l are there sto ries of
women whose home is in the dept h s of the o cean and
who c ome to charm away men s s oul s by their beauty
and by their pitiful longing for human love
Th ose w h o have l ooked on the y el low green waters
of the Sein e or who have s een the more turbid more
powerful Thames sweeping her ser ious maj esti c way
down towards the o p en oc ean at Westminster or at
London Bridge ca n perhaps rea lise something of that
inwardn ess of th ings that made the p eople of the pa st
an d th at m ak es the mentally un controll ed p e ople of the
present feel a fateful power cal l ing u p on them to listen
to the ins isten ce of the exactin g waters an d to surrender
their lives and their soul s forever to a th in g that called
and whi ch would brook no denial In the Morgu e or
in a mortu ary by the river side their p oo r b odi es ha ve
lain when the riv ers have work e d the ir wil l with them

Suicide
D eath by drown mg or B y Mis
an d
have been the verdict s given We live in
adventure
a to o practi ca l too utterly comm on sens i cal a ge to
con ceive a p oor woman with nothing on earth left to
l ive for bein g lured dow n to th e S h ades by a creatur e
of the water or a m an who longs for d eath seeing a
bea utiful daughter of a river god b ec kon ing to hi m to
come where he will n d p eace everl ast ing
.

A BO OK O F MYTH S

2 22

Yet ever we war with the sea Al l of us know her


seductive charm but all of u s fea r her The boun dary
line between ou r fear of the erce remorseless ever
seeking cruel waves that lap up life swiftly as a thirsty
beast laps water and the old belief in cruel sea creatur es
that sought c onstantly for the human things that were to
be their prey is a very narrow on e And once we have
seen the sea in a rage ingin g hersel f in terrib l e anger
against the poor frail toy that the han ds of men have
made an d that was intended to rul e an d to resist her
foa ming and frothing over the de cks of th e thing that
carries human lives we can understand much of the ol d
pagan be lief If on e has wat ch ed a river in spate red
as with blood r u shing tr ium phantly over all resista n c e
smashing down the trees that baul k it sweeping away each
poor helpless thing brute or human that it encounters
dealing out ruin an d dea th and p roc e ed ing superbly on
to carry its trophies of disaster to the bosom of th e
O cea n Mother very easy is it to see from whence came
those ol d tales of c ruelty of irresistible strength of
desire
Many are the tal es of se a maidens who have stol en
m en s lives from them and s ent their bodies to move
up and down amidst the wr ack l ike broken toys with
which a child has grown tired of p la ying and ca st
away in weariness In an eighth centur y chronicle con
cernin g St Fechin we read of evil powers whose rage
is seen in that watery fur y and the ir hel lish hate an d

turbul en c e in the beating of the sea against the rocks


The bitter gifts of our lord Poseidon is the name
.

L O RELEI

2 23

given to them by on e of the earl iest p oets of Greece


and a poet of ou r o wn time poet of the sea of ru nning
water and of lonely places quotes from the saying of
a sherm an of the isle of Ulva words that show why
simple minds have so many times materialised the rest
less devouring element into the form of a woman who
is very beautiful but whose tender mercies are very
c ruel
She is lik e a woman of the ol d tales whose
beauty is dreadf
s aid Seumas the islander
and
who breaks your heart at last whether sh e smil es or
frowns But sh e doesn t care about that or whether
you are hur t or not It s be c ause she has no heart

be ing all a wild water


Treacherous bea utiful remorseless that is how men
regard the se a and the rushing rivers of whom the
sirens and mermaids of old tradition have c ome to
stand as symbols Treacherous and pitiless yet with a
fascination that can draw even the moon and the stars
to her breast
O c I t up a p r m t ry
a d l p hi s ba ck
A d h ar d a m r m aid
U tt ri g c h d ul t d harm i br ath
That th r d e gr w c iv 1 at h
g;
rtai tar h t m a dly fr m th ir p h r
A d
mai d m i c S H A K ESP EA R E
T h e ar th e
1

ce

e s a

s s

on

e r s on

on o u s

se a -

an

ce

su

on o

on

sa

e e s,

us

Very many are the stories of the women of the se a


and of the rivers but that on e who must forever hold
her ow n be cause Heine has immortal ised her in song

is the river maiden of the Rhine the Lorelei


,

ch i l ch f P ar
F i Macl e d (Th
Ar

on a

us o

os

Wtnged

D estin y)

A B OO K O F MYTH S

22 4

Near St Goar there rises out of the waters of the


Rhine a p erpendicular rock some four hundred feet high
Many a boatman in bygone days there met his death
and the echo which it possesses i s still a mournful on e
Those who know the great river under which l ies hid
the treasure of the Nibelungs with its gleaming towns
by the river side and the green vineyards c ombed along

the hills and who have felt the romance of the rugged
crags c rown ed by ruined castles that sta nd like fan tastic
and very ancient sentries to guard its channel can we ll
understand how easy of belief was the legend of the
Lorelei
Down the green waters came the b oatman s frail
craft ever drawing nearer to the perilous ro ck Al l his
care and all his skill were required to avert a very visible
danger
But high above him from the roc k round
which the swirling eddies s plashed and foamed there
c ame a voi c e
.

v i c w l i k th v i c th
H a d wh th y a g t g th r
Her

as

e s

tar s

en

s n

An d

when the boatman looked up at the ound of


su ch sweet music he beheld a maiden more fair than any
he had ever dreamed of O n the ro ck sh e sat c ombing
her long golden hair with a c omb of red g ol d Her l imbs
were white as foam and her eyes green like the emerald
green of the r u shing river And her red lips smiled on
him and her arms were held ou t to him in wel c ome and
the sound of her song thrilled through the heart of hi m
who l istened and her eyes drew his soul to her arms
s

CO BI N
M

HE R L

O NG

OL D E N

AI R W I TH A C OM B

OF

RE D

OL D

L O RELEI

225

Forgotten was all peril The rushing stream seized the


little boat and did with it as it willed And while the
boatman still gazed upwards intoxicated by her match
less beauty and the magic of her voice his boat was
swept against the rock and with the jar and crash
knowledge came ba ck to him and he heard w ith broken
heart the mocking l aughter of the Lorelei as he was
dragged down as if by a thousand icy hands and with
a c hoking sigh surrendered his life to the pitiless river
To on e man only was it granted to see the siren so
near that he could hold her littl e c old white hands
and feel the wondrous golden hair swee p a c ross his

eye s This was a young sherman who met her by


the river and listened to the entrancing songs that sh e
sang for him alone Each evening sh e would tell him
where to cast his nets on the morrow and he prospered
greatly and was a marvel to all others w h o shed in
the waters of th e Rhine But there came an evening
when he was seen j oyously hastening down the river
bank in response to the voi c e of the Lorelei that surely
never had soun ded so honey sweet before and he came
back nevermore They said that the Lorelei had
dragged him down to her c oral caves that he might live
with her there forever and if it were not so the rush
ing water could never whisper her secret an d theirs of
a lifeless plaything that they swept seawards and that
wore a look of horror and of great wonder in its dead
wide open eyes

a l egend o f
It is e in Marc hen aus alten Zeiten
long ago
.

A BOO K OF MYTHS

22 6

But it is a very much older M archen that tells us of


the warning of Circe to O dysseus
To the Sirens rst shalt thou come who bewitch
all men whosoever shall come to them Whoso draws
nigh them unwittingly and hears the sound of the Siren s
voice never doth he se e wife or babes stand by him on
his return n or have they j oy at his coming ; but the

S irens enchant him with their c lear song


And until there shall be no more sea and the rivers
have ceased to run the enchantment that comes from
the call of the water to the hearts of men must go on
Day by day the toll of lives is paid and still the cruel
daughters of the deep remain unsatised We can hear
their hun gry whimper from the rushing river through
the night and the waves of the se a that thunders along
the c oast would seem to voice the insistence of their
desire And we who listen to their c ease l ess restless
moan c an say with Heine
,

Ich m eiss
D

ass

ich

n icht,
so

w as

s at!

tra u rig bin

bedeuten

For the sadness of heart the melancholy that their


music brings us is a mystery which none on this earth
may ever unravel
,

F REYA Q UEE N OF TH E NO RTHE RN G O D S


,

F RI D AY S bairn is loving and giving says the ol d


rhyme that sets forth the spe cial qualities of the chil
d ren born on ea ch day of the week and to the su p ersti
tious who re gard Friday as a day of evil omen it seem s
strange that Friday s bairn should be so bles sed But
they forget that before Christianity swept paganism
before it and taught tho s e who worshipped the northern

gods the story of that rst black Good Friday the


tragedy in which all humanity was involved Friday

was the day of Freya


The Beloved gentle protec
tress and most generous giver of all j oys delights and
From her in medi aeva l times the high born
p leasures
women who acted as dispensers to their lords rst took
the title F rou wa
and when in its transition
stage the ol d heathenism had evolved into a religion of
strong nature worship overshadowed by fatalism only
thinly veneered by Christianity the mind s of the Chris
tian c onve rts of S c andinavia like those of puzzled
children transferred to the Virgin Mary the attributes

f
that had formerly been those o their Lady
Frey a
the god dess of Love
Long before the Madonna was worshipped Freya
gave her name to plants to owers and even to insects
and the c hild wh o says to the beautiful little insect
that he nds on a leaf
Ladybird l adybird y away

227

A BO OK OF MYTH S

2 28

home is commemorating the name o f the Lady Freya


to whom his ancestors offered their prayers
In her home in the Hall of Mists Freya (or Frigga )
wife of O din the Al l Father sat with her golden
distaff spinning the c louds O rion s Belt w as know n
as Frigga s spin dl e by the Norsemen and the men
on the earth as they watched the great cumul ous masse s
o f sno wy white golden or silver edge d the e e cy cloud
lets of grey s oft as the feathers on the brea st of a dove
or the angry banks o f bla ck and purple portending a
storm had constant proof of the diligen c e of their god
dess S he was the protectress of those who sailed the
seas and the c are of children as they c ame into the
world was al so hers Hers too was the happy ta s k
of brin g in g together after death lovers whom Death had
parted an d to her belonged the glorious task of goin g
down to the elds of battle where the slain lay str ewn
l ike leaves in autumn an d l eadin g to V ah al l a the half
of the warriors who as heroes had died Her vision
enabled her to look over all the earth and sh e could se e
into the Future but she held her knowledge as a profound
se cret that none c ould preva il upon her to b etray
,

g d a pr g
d a ll t h at i t c m
Ik w
my w br e a t d hav e t

Of m
An
In

th e

re s

an

un

no

bu t

l ck
o

o n on e r e v e a l

M A T T H W ARNO L D
E

Thus sh e came to be pictured crowned with heron


plu mes the symbol o f silence the silence of the lonely
marshes where the heron stands in mutest c ontempla

tion a tall very state ly very queenly wholly beautifu l


,

F RE

YA

S AT

P I NN I N G

TH E

CL

O U DS

FREYA

22 9

woman with a b un c h of keys at her girdl e symbol of


her protection of the Northern housewife sometimes
clad in snow white robes sometimes in robes of sombre
black And be c ause her c are was for the anxious w eary
housewife for the mother and her new born babe for the
storm tossed mariner ghting the billows of a hungry
sea f o r those whose true and pure love had suffered
the c ru c ixion of death and for the glorious dea d on
the eld of battle it is very easy to see Freya as her
worshippers saw her an ideal of perfect womanhood
But the gods of the Norsemen were never wholly
go d s Al ways they like the gods of Gree c e endeared
themselves to humanity by possessing some littl e or
big human weakness An d Freya is none the less
lovable to the desce n dants of her worshippers be c ause

possessed the s o c alle d femi nine weakness


of
sh e
love of dress
Jewels too she loved and kn ow m g
the wondrous skill of the dwarfs in fashioning ex
u isite ornaments
h
e broke off a piece of gold fro m
s
q
the statue of O din her husband and gave it to the m
to make into a necklace the marvellous j ewelled neck
lace Brisingamen that in time to come was possessed
by Beow ul f It was so exquisite a thing that it made
her beauty twi ce more perfect and O din loved her
doubly much because of it But when he discovered that
his statue had been tampered with his wrath was very
great and furiously he summoned the dwarfs they

who dealt always with ne metal and demanded of them


which of them had done him this grievous w rong But
the dwarfs loved Freya and fro m them he got no answer
,

A B O O K O F MYTHS

2 30

Then he pla ced the statue above the temple gate


and laboured with guile to devise runes that might give
it the power o f speech so that it might shout aloud the
name of the impious robber as the robber went by
Freya n o l onger an o n m ip oten t goddess but a frightened
wife trembled before his wrath and begged the dwarfs

to help her And when on e of them the most hideous

all
p romised that he woul d prevent the statue fro m
f
o
speaking if Freya woul d but deign to smile upon him
the qu een of the gods wh o ha d no d read of u gly
things and whose heart was full of l ove an d of pity
smiled her gentle smile on the piteous littl e c reature
w h o had never known looks o f anything b ut horror
and d isgust from any of the deathless gods It was
for him a wondrous moment and the payment was
worth Death itself That night a deep sleep fell on the
guards of O din s statue and while they slept the
statue was pu lled down from its pedesta l and smashed
into pieces The dwarf had ful lle d hi s part of the
bargain
When O din next morning dis c overed the s a c rilege
great was his anger and when n o inquiry c oul d nd for
him the c riminal he quitted Asgard in furious wrath
For seven months he stayed away and in that time the
I c e Giants invaded his realm and all the l and was
c overed w ith a pall of snow vi ciously pin ched by blac k
frosts chilled by clinging deadening impenetrable
mists
But at the end of seven dreary months O din
returned and with him came the blessings of light and
of su nshine and the I c e Giants in terror e d away
,

FREYA

2 31

W ell was it for woman or for warrior to gain th e


favour of Freya the Beloved w h o knew how to rul e
even O din the Al l Father himself The Win il ers w h o
were warring with the Vandals on c e sought her aid
and gained her promise of help From Hl idskial f the
mighty wat ch tower highest point in Asgard from
when c e Odin and his queen coul d look down and behol d
what wa s happening a ll the world over amongst g od s
and men dwarfs elves and giants and all creatures of
their kingdom Freya wat ched the Vandals and the
Win il ers making ready for the battle which was to
d ecide forever whi ch people shoul d rul e the other
Night was des c ending but in the evening light the
tw o gods beheld the glitter of spears the gleam of bras s
hel mets and of swords and heard from afar the hoarse
shouts of the warriors as they made ready for the great
ght on the morrow Knowing well that her lord fav
ou re d the Vandals Freya as k ed him to tel l her w hi c h
army was to gain the victory
The army upon whi c h

my eyes shall rst rest when I awake at the dawning


said O din ful l well knowing that h is c ouch was so place d
that he coul d not fail to see the Vandals when he woke
Well pleased with his ow n astuteness he then retire d
to rest and soon sleep lay heav y on his eyelids B ut
while he slept Freya gently moved the couch upon
which he lay so that he must open h is eyes not on the
army who had won his favou r but on the army that
owned hers To the Win il ers sh e gave command to
dress up their women as men and let them meet the gaze
o f O din in th e d awn ing in full battle array
,

A B OO K OF MYTHS

2 32

Tak th th y w m f lk
d W iv
M aid
Ov r y r a kl
th whit w
h
L ac
Ov r y r b m
t
L i k p th har d m ail
O v r y r l i ps
Pl ait l g tr
W i th c i g
S war b a t f l l b ar d d
K i g O d i s ha l l d m y

b ach
ff th g r y
Wh
A t ri y g r t hi m CH A R E S
e

ou

o se

ar-

oso

ou

es

e on

es

e n s an

en - o

ou

ne

ou

on

e sse s

s s

un n n

en o

su n

se

ee

ou ,

se a

ee

KI

N G S EY
L

When the su n sent its rst pale green light next


m orning over grey sky and se a O din awoke and gazed
from his watch tower at the army on the beach And
with great amazement
What Longbea r ds are tho s e
he cried
They are Win il e rs
said Freya in j oyous tri
umph
but you have given them a new name Now
must you also give them a gift
Let it be the vi ctory

I pray y ou dear lord of mine


An d O din seeing himself outwitted and knowing
that honour bade him follow the Northern custom and
give the people he had named a gift bestowed on the
Longbeards and the ir men the victory that Freya craved
Nor was the gift of O din one for that day alone for
to him the L angobarden attributed the many victories
that led them at last to nd a ho me in the sunny land
of Italy w here beautiful Lombardy stil l co m m e m o
rates by its name the stratagem of Freya the queen
With the coming of Christianity Freya the Beloved
was cast ou t along with all the other ol d forgotten gods
,

FREYA

2 33

The peop l e who had l oved and worshippe d her were


taught that she was an evil thing and that to worship
her was sin Thus sh e was banished to the lonely peaks
of the mountains of Norway and of Sweden and to the
Brocken in Germany no longer a goddess to be love d
but transformed into a malignant power full of horror
and o f wickedness O n Walpu rgis Night sh e le d the
witches revels on the Brocken and the cats who were
said to draw her c ar while stil l sh e was regarded as a
b en e cen t p rote ctress of the wea k and needy c eased
to be the gentle creatures of Freya the Good and came
under the ban of religion a s the satani c c ompanions of
witches by habit and repute
O ne gentle thing only was her memory allowed to
keep When not as an omnipotent g oddess but as a
heart broken mother sh e wept the death of her dearly
loved son Baldur the B eautiful the tears that sh e
shed were turned as they fell into pure gold that is
found in the beds of lone ly mountain streams And
we w h o claim descent from the peoples w h o worshipped
.

ax

on

an

r a

d No m

an

d D

n e ar e

we

can surely cleanse her memory from all the ugly im


purities of superstition and remember only the pure gold
of the fact that ou r warrior ancestors did not only pray
to a erce and mighty god of battles but to a woman

who was loving and giving


the little child s de ica
tion of the m other whom it l oves an d who hold s it very
dear
,

OF

DEATH

THE

BALDUR

h ar d a v i c that c ri d
B ald r th e B autif l
I d ad i d ad
A d thr g h th e m i ty air
Pa s e d l ik th e m r f l y
O f s war d s ai l i g c ra e s L ON GFE LL O W
I

e,

ou

ou n u

cr

un

AM O N G the gods o f Greece we n d god s an d goddesses


who do unworthy deeds but none to act the permanent
part of villain of the play In the mythology of the
Norsemen we have a god who is wholly treacherous
and evil ever the villain of the pie c e cunning malicious
vindictive and cruel the god Loki
And as his
foil and his victim we have Baldur best of all gods
most beautiful most greatly beloved Baldur was the
Galahad of the court of O din the king his father
,

My tr gt h i f th tr g th
B ca m y h art i p r
s

en

u se

s o

e s

en

of

te n ,

No impure thing was to be found in his dwelling ;


none coul d impugn his courage yet ever he co unselled
p ea c e ever was gentle and innitely wise and his beauty
was as the beauty of the whitest of all the owers of
th e Northland called after him B al drshra
The god
o f the Norsemen was essentially a god of battles and we
are told by great authorities that Baldur was originally
,

234

THE DEATH OF BALDUR

2 35

a hero who fought on the earth and who in time c ame


to be deied Even if it be so it is good to think that
a race of warriors c ould worship on e whose c hief quali
ties were wisdom pur ity and love
In perfe ct happiness loving and beloved Baldu r
lived in Asgard with his wife Nanna until a night when
his sl eep was assailed by horrible dreams of evil o m en
In the morning he tol d the gods that he had dreamed
that Death a thing till th en un kn own in Asgard had
c ome and cruelly taken his life away Solemn ly th e
gods debated how this il l happening might be averted
and Freya his mother fear for her best beloved hanging
heavy over her heart took upon herself the task of layin g
under oath re and water iron and all other metals
trees and shrubs birds beasts and creepin g thin gs to
With eager haste sh e went from
do no harm to Baldur
place to place nor did sh e fail to exact the oath from any
thing in all nature animate or inanimate save on e only
A twig of mistletoe tender and fair grew high

above the eld and such a little thing it was w ith its
dainty green leaves and waxen white berries nestling for
protection under the strong arm of a great oak that the
goddess passed it by Assuredly no scathe could come
to Baldur the Beautifu l from a creatu re so insignicant
and Freya returned to Asgard well pleased with her quest
Then indeed was there j oy and laughter amongst
the gods for each on e tried how he might slay Baldu r
but neither sword nor stone hammer nor battle ax e
c ould work him any il l
O din alone remaine d unsatised Mou nted on his
,

A B O O K OF MYTHS

236

eight footed grey steed S l eipnir he galloped o ff in haste


to consult the giant prophetess An grb oth a who was dead
an d had to be followed to N ih eim the chilly underworld
that l ies far north from the worl d of men and where the
H el the daughter of Loki and of
su n never comes
An grb oth a was queen of this dark domain
-

Th r i a bitt rly c ld pla c h r iv d th


l f al l w h
s
car w h b d h g r h d i h tarvati
ld g
d i d f i ck
k if H wall w r hi gh d tr g d h b l t s d bar s
h
h g
H al f b l w h k i
d ha l f th c l ur f h m a h
A
d g ri m
g dd
ay t k w
d i
a l l thi gs v ry t r
o

er

nes

er

e.

ue

D AS E N T

e ss

an

as

an

er s

as

no

or o

e ce

e, s

e e,

er

un

on

er

on

an

s e n

er

an

o o

n , an

so u s o

es

an

her kingdom no soul that passed away in glorious


battle was received nor any that fought out the last of
life in a er c e c ombat with the angry waves o f the sea
O nly those who died ingloriously were her guests
When he had reached the rea lm of Hel O din found
that a feast was being p repared and the couches were
spread as for an honoured guest with rich tapestry and
with gold For many a year had An grb oth a rested there
in peace and it was only by chanting a magic spell and
tracing those runes which have power to raise the dead
that O din awoke her When sh e raised herself terrible
and angry from her tomb he did not tell her that he was
the mighty father of gods and men He only asked her
for whom the great feast was prepared and why Hel was
spreading her couches so gorgeously An d to the father
of Baldur sh e revealed the secret of the future that
Baldur was the expected guest and that by his blind
brother Hodur his soul was to be hastened to the Shades
In

THE DEATH OF BALDUR

2 37

Wh o then would avenge him

asked the father


great wrath in his heart And the prophetess replied
that his death should be aven ged by Vali his youngest
brother who should not wash his hands n or c omb his
hair until he had brought the slayer of Baldur to the
fun eral pyr e But yet another question O din would
fain have answered

Who he asked wou l d refu se to weep at B al du r s


,

9
t
h
dea
.

Thereat the prophetess knowing that her questioner


c ould be none other than O din for to no mortal man
c oul d be known so much of the future refuse d for
evermore to s peak and returned to the silence of her
tomb And O din was for ced to mount his steed and
to return to his ow n land of warmth and pleasure
O n his return he found that all was well with Baldur
Thu s he tried to still his anx ious heart and to forget the
feast in the chill regions of N ih e im spread for the son
who was to him the dearest and to laugh with those
who tried in vain to bring scathe to Baldur
O nly one among those w h o looked at those sports
and grew m erry as he whom they loved stood like a
great cliff against whi ch the devouring waves of the
erce Nor th Sea beat and foam and crash in vain had
mali c e in his heart as he beheld the wonder In the
evil heart of Loki there came a desire to overthrow
the god who w a s beloved by al l gods and by all men
He hated him be c ause he was pure and the mind of
Loki was as a stream into which all the lth of the world
is dis charged He h ate d him be cause Baldur was truth
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

2 38

and l oy alty and he Lo k i w as trea chery and di shonour


He hated him b e ca use to Loki there cam e never a
thou ht that w as not ful l of meanness and greed and
cru el tv an d v ice and B al dur was indee d one s an s p eu r
,

et s a n s rep roc he

Thus Lo k i ta k in g upo n himself the form of a woman


went to Fensa l ir th e p al a ce all silver an d gold where
dwelt Fre y a the mother of Bal dur
Th e go d des s sa t in happ y ma j es ty sp inn ing the
cl ouds and when Lo ki app aren tl v a gentl e old woman
pas se d b v where sh e sat and then pa u sed and aske d
as if am az ed what were the shouts of merrim ent th at
sh e hea rd the smil in g god dess rep lied
Al l t hing s on ea rth have sworn to me never to
injur e Bal dur and al l the gods use their wea pon s against

Bal dur is safe for evermore


him in vain
queri ed Lo ki
Al l thin gs
And Fre v a answered
Al l thin gs but the mistle
No h ar m can come to him fro m a thin g so weak
toe

th at it onl y lives b v the liv es of others


The n the vi cious heart of Loki grew joy ous Qui ckl y
h e went to where the mistletoe grew ou t a slender green
bran ch shap e d it into a p oin t an d so u ht the blin d god
,

Hodur stoo d as ide whil e the other gods merrily p ur


su e d their spo rt

Wh y dost thou not tak e aim at Baldur wi th a

we a po n that fail s and s o join in the laughter !


ask ed
,

An d

Hodur sa dl y

m ade

answ er

THE

DEATH O F B AL D UR

2 39

Well dost thou know that darkness is my lot nor

have I ought to ca st at my brother


Then Loki placed in his hand the shaft of m istletoe
and gui ded his aim and well and sur ely H odur ca st the
dart He waited then for the merry laughter that fol
lowed ever on the ons laught of those agains t him whom
none c oul d do harm But a great and terrible cry smote
hi s ears
B aldu r the B eautifu l is de ad is de ad !
On the ground lay Bal dur a white ower cut down
by the scythe of the mower An d al l thr ou gh the real m
of the gods and al l thr ough the land of the Northmen
there arose a cry of bitter lamentation
That w as the greatest woe that ever befell gods

and men sa ys the story


Th e sound of terrible mournin g in place of laughter
brought Freya to where
,

r l ay B al d d a d ; d r d l y t h i ckl tr w w r d
a x d art
d p ar wh i c h l l th
g d i p rt h d l igh t ly t h r w
at B al d r w h m
w ap p i r c d
c l v ; b t i h i br a t t d
x d th fata l b gh f mi t l t
ARNO D
th e

on

oo

ur

s, an

e s,

no

ou

When

on

s,

e oe

o un

an

or

s,

s oo

what had befallen him Freya s grief


was a grief that re fused to be comf ort ed but when the
g ods ov e rw h e l m with sorrow knew not what course
t o take sh e qui ckly comm anded that one shoul d ride to
N ih e im and offer Hel a ransom if sh e woul d perm it
Bal dur to retur n to As gard
Herm od er the Nimble another of the sons of O din
undert ook the mission and mounted on his father s
eight foot ed steed he spee dily rea ched the ice c old
domain of Hel

sh e saw

A B OO K OF MYTH S

2 40

There he found Baldur sitting on the noblest seat


rul ing among the people of the
o f those w h o feasted
Underworld With burning words Herm od er pled with
Hel that sh e woul d permit Baldur to return to the world
of gods and the worl d of men by both of who m he wa s so
Said Hel
cl early beloved
,

m th ! if B a l d r w
d ar b e l v e d
d s ch a l
i H
A d thi i tr e
ve
H ar h w t H e av e m ay B al d r b r e t r d
S h w m thr gh all th e w r l d th i g f gri e f !
F ai l b t
t h i g t gri v h r e B a ld r s t p !
d m v
p th e e arth
L t a ll that l i v
W e p him d a l l that i with t l ife w e p ;
brut b w e p h im p l a t s d s to e s
L tG d m
hall I k w th l w d ar i d e d
S
d g iv hi m ba ck t H av e
A d b e d my h art
M A TT HE W ARNOL D
Co

an

no

o s

o ss

an

on

n s

ns o

as

s o e

ou

ea

e,

e s,

e s

es u

en ,

s,

e s an

os s

ou

on e

an

a s so

en

an

Gladly Herm o der made answer :


Al l things shall weep for Baldur
Swiftly he m ade his perilous return j our ney and
at once when the gods heard what Hel had said
messengers were despatched all over the earth to beg
all things livin g and dead to weep for Baldur and so
dear to al l nature was the beautiful god that the m es
s en ers everyw here l eft behind the m a tra ck of the tea rs
g
that they caused to be shed
Meantime in Asgard preparations were made for
Baldur s pyr e Th e longest of the pine s in the forest
were cut down by the gods and piled up in a mighty
pyre on the de ck of his great ship Ringkorn th e l argest
in the world
,

THE D EATH OF BALD UR

S v ty ll

f r xt d d
O th g ra th v
l k l;
H i gh ab v it g i l t d S pl d i d

R
th g
h ad f r ci
W ith it cr t f t l L ON G E O W
en

s an d

ou

24 1

en

ss

o se

ee

en

an

u re

esse

ou s

es

s ee

LL

Down to the seashore they bore the body and laid


it o n the pyr e with rich gifts all round it and the
pine trunks of the Northern forests that formed the
pyre they covered w ith gorgeous tapestrie s an d fragrant
owers And when they had laid him there with all
love and gentleness and his fair young wife Nanna
looked o n his beautiful still face sorrow smote her
heart so that it was broken and sh e fell down dead
Tenderly they laid her beside him and by him too
they l aid the bodies of his horse and his hounds
which they slew to bear their master company in the
land whither his soul had ed ; and around the pyre
they twined thorns the emblem o f sleep
Yet even then they looked for his speedy return
radiant and glad to come home to a sunlit land of
happiness And when the messengers who were to have
brought tidings of his freedom were seen drawing near
eagerly the y c rowded to hear the glad words
Al l
,

creatu res

w eep ,

an d

B a l du r

sha l l

retu rn

But with them they brought not hope but despair


All things living and dead had wept save on e only
A giantess who sat in a dark cave had laughed them
to scorn With devilish merriment sh e mocked
,

ith r i l if
t
i
d
ath
y
Gav h m gl a d
L t H l k p h
pr y
Ne

e , n or

ee

er

A B OOK O F MYTHS

242

Then all knew that yet a second time had Baldur


been betrayed and that the giantess was none other
than Loki and Loki realising the erce wrath of O din
and of the other gods ed before them yet c oul d not
esca pe his doom And grief unspeakable was that of
gods and o f men when they knew that in the chill real m
o f the inglorious dead Baldu r must remain until the
twilight o f the gods had come u ntil Old things ha d p a s sed
away and all things had become new
Not only the gods but the giants of the storm and
frost and the frost elves came to behold the last of him
whom they loved Then the pyre was se t alight and
the great vesse l was l aunched and glided ou t to sea with
its sails of ame
Th y l a ch e d th e bur i g s hi p
It at e d far away
O v e r th e m i ty s
T ill l i k th e
it e m e d
S i k i g b e ath th e wav s
B ald r r tur e d m r
,

un

n n

su n

ea,

ne

no

o e

Yet ere he parted from his dead son O din stoo p ed


over him and whispered a word in his car An d there
are those w h o say that as the gods in innite sorrow
stood on the beach staring ou t to se a darkness fell and
only a ery track on the waves showed whither he had
gone whose passing had robbed Asgard and the Earth of
their most beautiful thing heavy as the weight of ch ill
Death s remorseless hand woul d have been their hearts
but for the knowledge of that word They knew that
with the death of Baldur the twilight of the gods had
begun and that by much strife and innite suffering down
,

THE

D E ATH OF BALDUR

243

through th e ages the work of their purication an d hal l ow


ing must be wrought B ut wh en all were t to re ceive
him an d p ea c e and happiness reigne d again on earth
and in heaven Baldur would c ome ba ck For the
was Resu rrection
S p ri h th O ld G d
B t
t f th
O f ti m
w la d
f
Ri s a
g
F air r tha th O ld L ON G E O W
.

ou

e se a

ne

se

so n

H arti ly k w
e

Wh

no

F LL

ha l f g d g
g d arriv E M E RSON

en

Th e

o,

BE O WULF
He
In

ma k i d

m i ght th tr g e t L
w as

of

e s

on

o N G F E LL Ow s

T R A N S AT I ON
L

W H E T H E R those who read it be schol ar s w h o woul d


argue about the origin and date of the poem ingenious
theorists w h o would fain use all the fragmentary tales
and rhymes of the nursery as parts of a vast jig saw
puzzle of nature myths or merely simple folk who read
a tale for a tale s sake every reader o f the poem of
Beowu lf must own that it is on e of th e nest stories
ever written
It is the most an cient heroic poem in the Germani c

language and was b rought to Britain by th e Winged


Hats who sailed a cross the grey North S ea to c onquer
and to help to weld that great amalgam of p eop les into
What is now the British Race
But once it had arrived in England the l egend wa s
p ut into a dress that the British born c ould more readily
appreciate In all probability the scene of the story wa s
a c orner of that islan d of Saeland upon which Copenh agen
n o w stands but he w h o wrote down the poem for his
c ountrymen and who wrote it in the pure literary Anglo
Saxon of Wessex painted th e scenery from the places
that he and his readers knew best And if you shoul d
walk along the breezy magnicent rugged Yorkshire
coast for twelve m iles from Whitby northward to the top
o f Bowlby Cliff you would n d it quite easy to believe
that it was there amongst th e high sea cliffs that Beowulf
,

BE OWULF

2 45

and his hearth sharers once lived and there on the high
e st ness of ou r eastern c oast under a great barrow that

B eow ulf was buried


l
B eowu fesby B owl by seems a
quite easy transition B ut the people of ou r islan d
race have undoubtedly a gift for seizing the imports of
other lands and hall marking them as their ow n and
in all probability the Beowu lf of the heroic poem wa s
one who lived and died in the land of Scandinavia
In D enmark so goes the story when the people were
l onging for a king to their shores there drifted on a day
when the white birds were s creaming over the sea tangle
an d wreckage that a stormy sea now sinking to rest
was sweeping up on the shore a little boat in whi ch
on a sheaf o f ripe wheat and surrounded by priceless
weapon s and jewels there lay a most beautiful babe
who smiled in his sleep That he was the son of O din
they had n o doubt and they made him their king and
s erved him faithful ly and loyally for the rest o f his life
A worthy and a noble king was King Scyld S ce n g
a ruler on land and on the sea of whi c h even a s
an infant he had had n o fear
B ut when many years
had come and gone and when Scyld S ce n g felt that
death drew near he c alled his nobles to him and told
them in what mann er he fain would pass So they di d
as he said and in a ship they built a funeral pyre and
round it placed much gold and j ewels and on it laid a
sheaf of wheat Then with very great pain and labour
for he was ol d and Death s hand lay heavy upon him
the king climbed into the ship and stretched ou t his
limbs on the pyr e and said farewell to all his faithful
people And th e ship drifted ou t with the tide and th e
-

'

A B OOK O F MYTH S

2 46

hearts of the watchers were heavy as they saw the sail s


o f the vesse l that bore him vanish into the grey and knew
that their king had gone back to the place from when ce
he c ame and that they shou l d l ook on hi s fa c e n o more
B ehind him S cyl d l eft des c endants and on e after
the other reigned over Denmark It was in the reign
Hrothgar that there took pl a ce
of his great grandson
those things that are told in the story of Beowul f
A m ighty king and warrior was Hrothgar an d far
across the northern sea s his fame s p read wide s o that
all the warriors of the land that he rul e d were proud
to s erve under him in p eace and in war to die for him
During his l ong life he and his men never went forth in
their black prowed ships without returning with the
j oyous shouts of the victor with for c argo the rich s p oi l
they had won from their enemies As he grew ol d
Hrothgar determined to raise for himse lf a mighty
monument to the magnic en c e of his reign and s o there
was builded for him a vast hall with maj estic towers

and l ofty pinna cles the nest banqueting hall that his
skilled articers c ould dream of An d when at length
the hall was completed Hrothgar gave a feast to al l his
thanes and for days and for nights on end the great

f
e
o
H
o
r
o
rafter s
t as his pala c e was named e choe d
the shouts and laughter of the mighty warriors an d the
music of the minstrels and the songs that they sang
A proud man was Hrothgar on the night that the ban
quet was ended amidst the acclamation s of his people
and a proud and happy man he l ay down to rest while
his bodyguard of mighty warriors stretched themse lves
o n the rush strewn oor o f the great room where they
had feasted and deeply slumbered there
,

BE OW ULF

'

2 47

Now in the dark fens of that land there dwelt a mon

ster erce noisome and cruel a thing that loved evil


and hated all that was j oyous and good To it s ears
came the ring of the laughter and the shouts of King
Hrothgar s revellers and the sweet song of the gleemen
and the me l ody of harps lled it with erc e hatred
From its wallow in the marshes where the p estilent grey
fog hung round its dwelling the monster known to all
men a s the Grende l c ame forth to kill and to devour
Through the dark night across the lonely moorland
it made its way and the birds of the moor ew scream
ing in terror before it and the wild creatures o f the
desolate country over which it padded clapped down
in their coverts and trembled as it passed It c ame
at length to the great hall where
,

A fair tr p f warri r tha g ardi g it f d h


H dl ly l p i g th y r ck d t O f rr w
o

00

ee

s ee

e ss

n es

no

ou n

so

Never a thought did they give to the Gren d el


A hau t r f m ar h a h ld r f m r s
S cr t
t d way
Th l a d h i h abit ; d ar k w l f ha
O f th wi dy hi ll i d by th tr a ch r tar
O r wh r c v r d u p i it s m i s t th e hi ll tr a m
D w war d w
n

e s,

oo

e e,

e,

e e

un

ou s

Soundly slept Hrothgar n or opened eye until in


the bright light o f the morning he was roused by terried
servants forgetful of his august royalty impelled by
terror crying aloud their terrible tale They had
c ome they said to lay on the oor of the banquetin g
hall sweet fresh rushes from the meadows and to c lear
away al l tra c e of the feasting overnight But the two
and
thirty knights who in full armour had l ain down
,

A B OO K OF MYTHS

2 48

to sleep were all gone and on the oor was the S poor
o f something foul and noisome and o n the walls and on
the trampled rushes were great and terrible smears of
human blood
They tracked the Grende l back to the marsh from
whence he had come and shuddered at the sight of
bestial footprints that l eft blood stains behind
Terrible indeed was the grief of Hrothgar but stil l
more terrible was his anger He offered a royal reward to
any man who woul d slay the Grendel and ful l gladly ten
o f h is warriors pledged themselves to sleep that night in
the great hall and to slay the Grendel ere morning came
B ut dawn showed once more a piteous sight Again
there were only trampled and blood stained rushes
with the l oathsome smell of uncl ean esh Again the
foul tracks of the m onster were found where it ha d
padded softly back to its noisome fens
There were many brave men in the kingdom of
Hrothgar the Dane a n d yet again did they str1v e to
maintain the dignity of the great hall He orot and to
uphold the honour o f their k ing But through twe lve
dismal years the Grendel took its toll o f the bravest in
the realm and to sleep in the place that Hrothgar had
built as monument to his magnicent supremacy ever
meant for the sleeper shameful death Well cont ent
was the Grendel that grew fat and lusty amongst the
grey mists o f the black marshes unknowing that in the
land o f the Goths there was growing to manhood one
whose feet already should be echoing along that path
from which Death was to come
In the realm of the Goths Hy gel a c was king and
,

BE O WULF

2 49

greater hero lived in his kingdom than Beowulf


his o w n sister s son From the age of seven Beowul f
was brought up at the court o f his uncle
A great fair blue eyed lad was Beow ulf la zy and
When he had at last be c ome
V ery slow to wrath
a yellow haired giant of wondrous good temper and
leisurely in movement the other young warriors of
Goth l an d had mocked at him as at one who was only
a very huge very amiable child But like others of
the same descent Beowulf s anger if slow to kindle
was a terrible re once it began to ame
A few
of those are s u p had shown the folk of his uncle s
kingdom that no mean nor evil deed might lightly be
done nor evil word spoken in the presence of Beowulf
In battle against the Swedes no sword had hewn down
more men than the sword of Beowulf And when the
champion swimmer of the land o f the Goths chal
lenged the young giant Beowulf to swim a match with
him for ve whole days they swam together
A tem
pest driving down from the twilight land o f the ice and
snow parted them then and he who had been cham
pion was d riven ashore and thankfully struggled o n
to the beach of his own dear country once again B u t
the foaming seas c ast Beowulf on some j agged cliffs
and woul d fain have battered his body into broken
fragments against them and as he fought and struggled
to resist their raging c ruelty mermaids and nixies and
many monsters of the deep j oined forces with the waves
and strove to wrest his life from him And while with
on e hand he held on to a sharp rock with the other he
dealt with h is sword stark blows on those children of

no

A B O O K OF MYTHS

250

the deep w h o would fain have devoured him Their


bodies deep gashed and dead oated down to the
coast of Goth l an d and the king and all those w h o
looked for the corpse of Beow ulf saw them amazed
Then at length c ame Beowulf hi m self and with great
gladness was he welcomed and the king his uncle gave
him his treasured sword N agel in g in token of his val our
In the c ourt of Hrothgar the number of brave war
riors ever grew smaller O ne man only had witnessed
the terrib l e slaughter of on e of those blac k nights and

yet had k ept his life H e was a bard a scald and from
the land where he ha d seen such grim horror he ed to
the land of the Goths and there in the c ourt of the k ing
he sang the gloomy tale of the never ending s l aughter
of noble warriors by the foul Grende l o f the fen s and
moors
Beowu lf listened enthralled to his s ong B ut those
who knew him saw his eyes gleam as the good steel
blade of a sword gleams when it is drawn for battle
and when he asked his un cle to allow him to go to the
land of the Danes and slay this lthy thing his un cle
smiled with n o surprise and wa s very well c ontent
So it came to pass that B eowul f in hi s b lac k prowed
ship with fourteen trusty followers set sail from Goth
land for the kingdom of Hrothgar
The warden o f the Dani sh coast was riding his
rounds on e morning when he beheld from the white cliffs
a strange war vessel making for the shore Skil ful ly
the men on board her ran her through the surf and
beached her in a l ittl e cree k between the cl iffs and
made her fast to a ro ck by stout cab les
O nly for a
.

B E OWULF

251

littl e time the valiant warden watched them from afar


and then on e man against fteen he rode quickl y d own
an d challenged the warriors
,

W hat a e y e warl i k e m e
wi e ld i g bri g ht w a p
W e ari g gr ey c r e l e t d
b ar a d r e d h e lm e t
Wh
with y ur f a m i g k e e l
th wat r p ath
c m
Pl g hi g th c a
r ge !
I wa s a pp i t d
W ar d
h re ;
wat ch h ld I by th e wave
f D e m ar k
That th is D a i h c a s t
d e a dly e my
L a d i g tr ps v r
h ld l a d t i jur e
N o e hav e h r e l a d d y e t
m r e fra kly c m i g
Tha thi s fair c mp a y
d y t y a swe r
t
Th e p a w r d f warri r s
d c u s t ms f k i m e
b h e ld
a m i g hti r warri r
N e e r hav m i
ey
A e ar l m o r l r dly tha
i h e th e c hi f o f y
c mm m ;
if l ok b l i e hi m ot
He i
H e i s a h e r b ld
w rthi ly w ap d
A m t I k w fy
k i d r e d d c u try
f sp i e s h ld g
fr e
D a i h s il
L t y
fr m afar
ai l i g th r g i g e
N w y m
H av e h ear d my ar t th ou ght
b e s t i a q i ck r ply
That I m ay wiftly k w
wh e ce y e have hith r c m
n

o o er

ou

e o

s an

o s

o n

s s

on

n s

oo

ss

ou

ne

s no

e o

ou

ou

n es

ou

no

n s

e su

on o u r

an

n.

ns

on e

an

no

en

on

us

es

n on

es

no

an

an

ne

no

se a

o n

en o

s,

su

on s,

s a,
u

Then Beowulf with fearless eyes gazed in the fa c e


o f the warden and told him simply and unboastfull y
w h o he was from when c e he ca me and what was his
errand H e had c o m e a s the nation s d e liverer to sl ay
the thing that
,

m th i d ark f i ght
W r k th thr gh fe ar m
Co

ou

sa te th

so

e aw e ,

s e cr t hate
l a g hte r d ham e

h is
s

an

With j oy the warden heard his noble words

My men shall beach your ship he said


and
mak e her fast with a barrier of oars again st the greedy

tide Come with me to the king


It was a gallant band that strode into He orot where
.

A B OOK O F MYTH S

252

the Old king gloom overshadowing his soul An d


t leader for a band of heroes was Beow ulf a giant gu re
in ring mail spear and shield gleaming in his hand
and by his side the mighty sword N agel in g To Hroth
gar as to the warden Beowulf told the reason of his
coming and hope began again to l ive in the hea rt of the
king
That night the warriors from the l and of the Goths
were feasted in the great banqueting hall where for
twelve unh appy years voices had never rung ou t s o
bravely and so merrily The queen herself poured ou t
the mead with which the king and the men from Goth
land pledged each other and with her own hand sh e
passed the goblet to each on e When last o f it al l
it came to the guest o f honour B eowulf took the cup of
mead from the fair queen and solemnly pledged him
self to save the lan d from the evil thing that devoured
it like a pestilence or to die in his endeavo ur
sat

d m u t I w p rf rm k ightly d ds i thi ha ll
O r h e r e m u t m e t my d m i d ark m i ght
Nee

no

ee

oo

so

e n

When darkness fell the feast came to an end and all


left the hall save Beowulf and his fourteen foll owers
In their armour with swords girt on their sides the
fourteen heroes lay down to rest but Beowul f laid aside
all his arms and gave his sword to a thane to bear away
For said he
,

I hav h ar d
That that f l m i c r a t d ark d t bb r h
t th f r c
R ck
f ar m
H a d t ha d
B w l f W l l grappl with th m i ghty
e

ou

s no

e o

an

o n

s u

es

eo

fo e

BE OWULF

253

From his fastnesses in the fens the Grendel had


heard the shouts o f revelry and as the Goths closed their
eyes to sleep knowing they might Open them again only
to grapple with hideous death yet unafraid be c ause of
their sur e belief that What is to be goes ever as it

must the monster roused himself Through the dank


chil l clinging mists he came and his breath made the
poisonous miasma of the marshes more deadly as he
padde d o ver the shivering reeds and trembli ng rushes
a cross the bleak moorland and the high cliffs where
the fresh tang of the grey sea was d el e d by the hideous
sten ch of a foul beast of prey There was fresh food for
him to night he knew some blood more potent than
any that for twelve years had come his bestial way
An d he hastened on with greedy eagern ess nightmare
in c arnate He found the great door of the banqueting
hall bolted and barred but on e angry wren ch set at
naught the little pre c autionary measures of mere men
The dawn was breaking dim and grey and very chill
when Beowul f heard the stealthy tread without and the
qui ck fol lowing crash of the bolts and bars that gave
He made no movement but only waited
so rea dily
In a n instant the dawn was blotted ou t by a vast bla ck
shadow and swifter than any great bear could strike
a s caly hand had struck on e of the friends of Beowulf
In an instant the man was torn from limb to limb and
in a W ild disgust and hatred Beowulf heard the lapping
of blood the scrunching of bones and chewing of warm
esh as the monster ravenously devoured him Again
the loathso m e hand was stretched ou t to seize and to
,

A B O O K OF MYTHS

25 4

devour But in the darkness two hands like han ds


o f iron gripped the outstretched arm and the Grende l
knew that he had met his match at last The warriors
o f Beo w ulf awoke to nd a struggle going on such as
their eyes never before beheld for it was a ght to the
dea th between man and monster Vainly they trie d
to aid their leader but their weapons only glan ced harm
lessly o ff the Gren de l s s c aly hide Up and dow n the
hall the c ombatants wrestled until the walls shook an d
the great building itsel f ro cked to its foundations
Ever and again it seemed as though no human power
coul d prevail against teeth and claws and demoni c fu ry
and as tab les and benches c rashed to the ground and
brok e under the tramping feet of the Grende l it ap
e are d an i mp ossible thing that Beowul f shoul d over
p
come Yet ever tighter and more tight grew the iron
rip
His
ngers
s
eemed
turned
to
iron
of Beo w ul f
g
His hatred and l oathing made his grasp crash through
scales into esh and crush the marrow ou t of the bone
it found there An d when at length the Grendel c oul d
no more and with a terrible cry wren c hed himse lf free
and ed wailing back to the fenland still in his grasp
Beowulf held the limb The Grendel had freed himsel f by
tearing the whole arm ou t o f its socket and for once the
trail of blood across the moors was that of the m onster
and not of its victims
Great indeed was the rej oicing of Hrothgar an d of his
people when in the morning instead of crimson stained
rushes and the track o f vermin claws imbrued in human
blood they found all but on e of the men from Goth l an d
,

B E O WUL F

255

al ive and looked upon the hideous trophy that told


them that thei r enemy c oul d only have gone to nd
a shameful death in the marshes They cleansed ou t
the great hall hung it with lordl y trappings and made
it on c e more t habitation for the lordliest in the lan d
That night a feast was held in it such as had never
before been hel d all through the magnicent reign of
Hrothgar The best of the scalds sung songs in honour
o f the triumph of Beowulf and the queen herself pledged
the hero in a cup of mead and gave to him the beautiful
most richly j ewelled coll ar Brisingamen of exquisite
an c ient workmanship that once was owned by Freya
queen of the gods and a great ring of the purest red gold
T o Beowul f too the king gave a banner all broidere d
in gold a sword of th e nest with helmet and
corselet a n d eight eet steeds and on the back of the
that he deemed the best Hrothgar had pla c ed
on e
his ow n saddle cunningly w rought and decked with
golden ornaments To each of the warriors of Beowul f
there were also given rich gifts An d ere the queen with
her maidens left the hall that night sh e said to Beow ul f
Enj oy thy reward O dear Beowulf while enj oy it
thou canst Live noble and blessed ! Keep well thy
great fame and to my dear sons in time to c o me should
ever they be in need be a kind protector !
With happy hearts in very weary bodies Beowulf and
his m en left the hall when the feast was ended and they
slept through the night in another lodging as those sleep
who have fa c ed death through a very long night an d to
who m j oy has c ome in the morning
,

A B O O K O F MYTH S

25 6

B ut the Danish knights careless in the knowledge


that the Grendel must even now be in his dying agonies
and that once more Here ot was for them a safe and
noble sleeping place l ay themselves down to sleep in
the hall their shields at their heads and fastened
high up on the roof above them the hideous trophy of
Beowul f
Next morning as the grey da w n broke over the nor
th ern sea it saw a sight that made it more chill than

death Across the moorland went a thing half wolf


half woman the mother o f Grendel The c reature sh e
had borne had come home to die and to her belonge d
his avenging Softly sh e went to Here ot Softly sh e
Opened the unguarded door Gladly in her s avage j aws
the thane who was to Hrothgar
sh e seized Asch ere
most dear an d from the roof sh e plucked her desired

treasure the arm o f Grendel her son Then sh e


trotted off to her far off lthy den leaving behind her
the noise of lamentation
Terrible was the grief of Hrothgar over the death
o f Asch e re dearest o f friends and S harer o f his councils
An d to his l amentations Beowulf listened sa d at heart
humble yet with a heart that burned for vengeance
The hideous creature of the night was the mother of
Grendel as all knew well O n her Beowulf would be
avenged for Aschere s sake for the kin g s and for the
sake of his own honour
Then once again did he
pledge himself to d o all that man s strength could do
to rid the land o f an evil thing
Well did he kn ow how
d angerous was the task before him and he gave d ire c
,

B E O WUL F

257

'

tions for the disposal of all that he valued shoul d h e


never return from his quest To the King who feare d
greatly that he was goin g forth on a forlorn hope he said
.

t u d r g d ath at th
whi l h m a y war l ik fam i th w r ld !
L t h im w i
That i s b t a fte r d ath f th l ai warri r
Gri v
e

e n ot

n,

a ch
e

es

m an m u s

or

e s

e e n d of

l i fe

His ow n men and Hrothgar and a great company


of Danes went with him when he set ou t to tra c e the
blood stained tracks of the Gren del s mother Near
the edge of a gloomy m ere they foun d the hea d o f
And when they looked at the ord itself it
Asch ere

s eeme d to b e blood stained stained with blood that


ever welled upwards and in which revelled with a

erc e sort of j oy the rapture of b estial c ruelty


water m onsters without number
B eowulf his fa c e white and grim l ik e that of an
image of Thor c ast in silver watched a little while
then drew h is b ow and drove a bolt into the heart
and when they had drawn the slain
o f on e of them
c ar ca s e to shore the thane s of Hrothgar marvell e d at
the horror Of it
Then Beowulf took le ave of Hrothgar and told him
that if in tw o days he did n ot return c ertain it would
be that he woul d return no more The hearts of all w h o
but B eowulf laughed
s aid farewell to him were heavy
and bade them be of good cheer Then into the blac k
waters he dived sword in hand clad in ring armour
and the dark pool c losed over him as the river of Death
cl oses over the head of a man when his day is done
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

25 8

To him it seemed as if the spa c e of a day had passed


ere he reached the bottom and in his passing he e n
c ountered many dread dangers from tusk and horn of
a myriad evil creatures of the water who sought to
destroy him Then at length he rea c hed the botto m
and there was clasped in the
of that sinister mere
murderou s grip o f the Wolf W oman w h o strove to crush
his l ife ou t against her loathsome b reast Again and
again when her hideous embrace failed to slay him she
stabbed him with her knife Yet ever di d he es ca p e
His g ood armour resisted the power of her arm an d his
o w n great muscles thrust h er from him
Yet his ow n
sword failed him when he woul d have smitten her and
the hero woul d have been in evil case had he n ot spied
hanging on the w al l of that most foul den
,

A gl ri
o

An
An

bra d g i ga ti c
h ir l m f h r
Ol

oo

tru ty i
s

e oe s

w rd
i t d e dge

ou s s

po

an

Swiftly he seized it and with it he dealt the Wo lf


Woman a blow that shore her head from her b ody
Through the foul blood that owed from her and that
mingled with the black water of the m ere B eowul f
saw a very terrible horror the bod y of the Grendel
lyin g moaning ou t the l ast of his life Again his strong
arm descended and his l eft hand gri pp ing the coile d
locks of the Evil Thing he sprang upwards through
the water that lost its blackness and its clouded c rimson
as he went ever higher and more high In his han d
he still bore the sword that had saved him but the
poisonous blood of the dying monsters had made the
,

B E OWULF

259

water of such ery heat that the blade melted as he ros e


and only the hilt w ith strange runes engrave d up on it
re mained in his hand
Where he left them his followers and the Dane s
w h o went with them
remained watching waiting
ever growin g more hopeless as night turned into day
an d day faded into night and they saw the black waters
of the lone l y fen bubbling up terrible and blood stained
B ut when the waters c leare d hope returned to their
heart s and when at length B eowul f uprose from the
water of the mere and they saw that in his han d he
bore the head of the Gren d el there was no l onely scaur
n or cl iff nor ro ck o f the l an d of the Danes that d i d not
B eowu lf ! B eowu lf !
e c ho the gl a d c ry o f
Well nigh overwhelmed by gifts from those whom
he had preserved was the hero Beowul f B ut in modest
wise word s he s p ok e to the K ing
,

We ll has t th u tr at d
d m r e t w i th y l v e
tha I hav e wr u ght y e t
w ap s t wi eld f th ee
th e c ir cl i g
d
thr at th y ati s fa ll
s wift wi ll I bri g t th e
h r t h el p th
o

If

thi arth I
f warri r
0 p ri
H r ta d I r a dy w
If I s ha ll v r h ar
That y i ghb uri g f
A s Gr d l gri m b f r
Th u a d f bl tha
on

n ce o

e e s

an

en

s n

ne

e o e,

no

s o

o er

oe s

n e s,

on

oo

en

on

e oes

or

as

no

o s,

c an

s e

us

ee

T hen in their ship that the Warden o f the Coast once


had chal lenged B eowulf and his warriors set sail for their
o w n d ear l and
Gaily the V esse l dan c ed over the waves heavy
though it was with treasure nobly gained And when
B eowu lf ha d c om e in s afety to hi s homel an d an d had
,

A B OO K OF MYTH S

2 60

told his kinsman the tale of the slaying o f the Grendel


and of the Wolf Woman he gave the nest of his steeds
to the King an d to the Queen the j ewelled collar
B risingamen that the Queen of the Goths had bestowed
o n him
An d the heart o f his uncle was glad and prou d
indeed and there was much royal banqueting in the
hero s honour O f him too the scal ds m ade up songs
and there was n o hero in all that northern l and whose
fam e was as great as was the fame of Beowul f
The Must Be Often helps an undoomed man when
h e is b rave was the pre c ept on which he ruled h is life
an d he never failed the K ing whose chief c hampion
and warrior he was When in an expedition against
the Frie sl an ders King Hy gel ac fell a victim to the
cunning o f his foes the sword of Beowul f fought nobly
for him to the end and the hero was a grievously
wounded man when he brought ba ck to Goth l an d the
b ody of the dead King The Goths woul d fain have
made him their K ing in Hy gel ac s stead but Beowulf
was too l oyal a soul to supplant his uncle s o wn son
On
his shie l d he laid the infant prince Hardre d and held
him up for the peop l e to se e And when he had pro
claimed the c hi l d K ing and vowed to serve him faith
fully all the days of his life there was no man there who
did not loyally echo the promise o f their hero B eowulf
When Hardre d a grown man was treacherously slain
by a son of Oth e re he who discovered the North Cape
Beowulf once again was chosen King and for forty years
he reigned wisely and well The fame of his arms kept
war away from the land and his wisdom as a statesman
-

B E OWULF

2 61

brought great prosperity and happiness to his people


He had never known fear and so for him there was
no thing to dread when the weakness of age fell upon
hi m and when he knew that his remaining years c ou l d
be but few
S i g that D ath a c ary d
W i l l c m wh it wil l c m
.

ee n

ne

en

e ss

en

Through all those years of peace the thing that was


to bring death to him had lurk ed un known u n
imagined in a c ave in the lonely mountains
Many centuries before the birth o f Beowul f a family
o f mighty warriors had won by their swords a priceless
trea sure of weapons and of armour of richly chased
goblets and cups of magnicent ornaments and precious

j ewels and o f gold beyond the dreams of avari c e


In a great cave among the rocks it was hoarded by the
last o f their line and o n his death none knew where it
was hidden Upon it on e day there stumbled a ery
dragon a Firedrake and for three hundred years the
monster gloated unchallenged over the magni cent
possession But at the end o f that time a bondsman
who ed before his master s vengean c e and sought
sanctuary in the mountains came on an opening in the
rocks and creeping in found th e Firedrake asleep upon
a mass of red gold and o f sparkling gems that dazzled
his eyes even in the darkness For a moment he stood
trembling then sure of his master s forgiveness if he
brought him as gift a golden cup all studded with jewels
he seized on e and ed with it ere the monster coul d
,

hak

es

pe

ar

(Ju l iu s Caesar)

A B OOK O F MYTH S

2 62

awake Wi th its awakening terror fell up on the l and


Hither and thither it ew searching for him w h o had
robbed it and as it ew it sent ames on the earth and
left behind it a b l ac k trai l of ruin and of death
When news of its d estroy in gs ca m e to the ears of
the father of his peop l e B eowu lf kn ew that to him
belonge d the tas k o f savin g the l and for them an d for
all those to c ome after them But he was an ol d man
and strength had gone from him n or was he able now
to wrestl e with the Firedrake as on c e he had wr estl ed
with the Grende l a n d the Wolf Woman but ha d to trust
to his arms
He had an iron shield made to withstand
the Firedrake s aming breath and with a band of
e l even picke d foll owers an d taking the bon d sm an as
guide B eowulf went ou t to ght his last ght As they
d rew near the place he bade his followers stay where

they were
For I alone h e said
will win th e gol d

a n d save my peop l e o r Death shall ta k e me


From the entran c e to the c ave there poured forth
a sic kening cloud of steam and smoke suffocatin g and
b l inding an d so hot that he could not go forward B ut
with a l oud voi c e the ol d warrior shouted an arrogant
challenge of dean c e to hi s enemy and the Firedra ke
ru shed forth from its l air roaring with th e roar of an
unquenchab l e re whose fury will destroy a city Fro m
its wings of ame and from its eyes heat poure d forth
s corchingly and its great m outh b el che d forth d evourin g
ames as it cas t itself on Beowulf
The hero s sword ashed and sm ote a stark b l ow
upon its s c aly head B ut B eow ul f c oul d n ot d eal d eath
,

B E O WULF

2 63

strokes as on c e he had done an d onl y for a moment wa s


his adversary stunned In hideous rage the monster
c oiled its snaky fold s around him and th e heat from hi s
b o dy m ade the iron shie l d redden as though the black
smith in his smithy were we l ding it and each ring of the
armour that Beow ulf wore seared right into his esh
His breast swelled with the agony and his great heart
must have c om e near bursting for pain and for sorrow
For he saw that p anic had come on his followers and
that they were eeing l eaving him to his fate Yet n ot
all of them were faithl ess Wigl af young and daring a
d ear kinsman of Beowulf from whom he had re ceive d
many a kindness c alling shame on the dastards who
e d rushed forward sword in hand and with n o pro
Li k e a
te ction but that of his shield of linden wood
leaf scorched in a furna c e the shie l d curl ed up but new
strength came to B eowul f with the knowledge that
Wigl af had not fail ed h l m 1n his need Together the two
heroes made a gallant stand although blood owed in
a swift red stream from a wound that the monster had
ma de in B eowul f s ne ck with its venomous fangs an d
ran d own hi s corsel et A stroke which left the Firedrake
unh armed shivered the sword that had seen many ght s
but Wigl af smote a shrewd blow ere his lord coul d be
destroyed and B eowul f swiftly drew his broa d knife an d
with an effort so great that all the life that was left in him
seemed to go with it he shore the Firedrake asun der
Then B eowulf knew that his end drew very near
and when he had thank ed Wigl af for his loyal help he
bade him enter the cave and bring forth the treasure
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

2 64

that he might please his dying eyes by lookin g on the


riches that he had won for his people An d Wigl af
hastened into the c av e for he kn ew that he raced with
Death and brought forth armful s o f weapons of mag
of bars of
of goblets and of cup s
n i cen t ornaments
red gold Han dful s o f sparkl ing jewels too he brought
and each time he came and went s eizing w ithout choos
ing whatever l ay nea rest it seeme d as though the Fire
drake s hoard were en dl ess A magical golden standard
and armour and swords that the dwarfs had made
brought a smile of j oy into the dying Ki n g s eyes An d
when the ten shamed warriors seeing that the ght
was at an end came to where their mighty rul er lay
they found h im lyin g near the vil e carcase of the monster
he had slain and surrounded b y a dazzlement of treasur e
uncountable To them and to Wigl af Beowu lf s p ok e
his valediction urging on them to maintain the honour
o f the land of the Goths an d then he said
.

I tha k

th gr at K i g f G l ry
t r al
F
th va t tr a
r
wh ic h I h r gaz u p
Th t I
m i g ht f m y p pl
m y d ath d ay
Wi
gr at w a l th
S i c I hav g iv m y l if
th
Th m t w l k t
d f th ati ;
f
D ti y c a ll th m !
H r d w ll I l g r
Bid th m y war i r
aft r my f ra l py
B i ld m a b ria l cair
hi gh th
C l ff h a d ;
It h a ll f
m m ry
tw r pt H
S that th
far r
B w l f s B arr w
H c f rt h ha ll a m it
th y w h d riv e far d wi d
O v r th m i ghty d
th ir f a m i g R l
Th art th l a t f a l l
th k i d r d f W gm
d!
V y d h
w p t al l my ki
a ll th brav c hi f away
N w m t I f l l w th m
G dd
f Fat

Go d

or

e re

ou

us

ou

e o

as s

us

an

e e s.

e ss o

on

ron e sn e s s,

e,

re

e s e a-

oo

eo

un e

en

e n

on

ou
-

e s

on ,

s o

es

eo

or

en

e s ea

or

e n ee

r o s

oo

on

or

no

e e

no

es

su

n so

e n

e.

un

e s

B E OWULF

2 65

Such was the passing of Beowulf greatest of Northern


heroes and un der a mighty barrow on a cliff very high
above the se a they buried him and with him a great
fortune from the treasure he had won
Th en with
heavy hearts round about the mound ro d e his hearth
sharers who sang that he was o f kings of men the
mildest kin dest to his p eop l e sweetest an d the readi est
in search of praise
,

G tl t m t g ra c i
en

An d

es

os

o u s,

m tk
os

een

to w in

gl ry
o

if in time the great deed s o f a mighty king of


the Goths have b ecom e more lik e fairy tale than sol i d
history this at least we know that whether it is in

S aeland or on the Yorkshire c oast where


,

H i gh
Th e

the barrow

cl iff l dg s
white g ull
tr p i g
on

th e

s ea -

s a re

of

oo

an

ryi g
n

B eowulf c overs a very valiant hero


very perfect gentl em an
.

chival ry
E xp ir d at R ce l l T H OM A S CA M P E L
H e ro wor hip e d r e s f e v e r whi l e m e d r CA RL YL E
R l a d th e g d e k i ght
TU R P I N S Hi t y f Ch l m g
Ro

la d

PAL AD IN

THE

RO LAND
n

w r

th e

on

or

va

an

of

s or

es

ar e

ne

chronicler s tell us that on that momentous


morning when Will iam the Conqueror l e d his army to
victory at H astings a Norman knight named Tail lefer
f
u re ly was his ) spurred his h orse
and
a

re
o
iron
s
u
(
g
to the front In face of the enemy who hate d all things
that had to do with France he lifted u p his voice
an d c hanted aloud the exploits of Charlemagne an d of
R oland As he sang he threw his sword in the air
and always caught it in his right hand as it fell and
prou dl y the whole army moving at once j oined with
him in the Chan son de Rol an d and shouted a s c horus
God be ou r hel p ! God be ou r hel p
THE

ol

Tai ll f r
e e

E h d Ol iv ie r,

Qui

m o u re n t

et

en

h an toit d e

de V

Rol l an t

a a x
ss u

Ra in sch e v a u x

W ACE

Roma n de Rose

Fifteen thousand of those who sa ng fell on that


bloody day and on e wonders how many of those who
went down to the Shades owed hal f their desperate
courage to the remembrance of the magni c ent d eeds
,

266

R O LAND THE PALAD IN

2 67

the hero of whom they sang ere ever sword met


s word or spear m et the sullen impa ct o f the stark frame
o f a Briton born ghting for his o w n
The story of R oland so we are told is only a sp l en d i d
c oating of paint put on a very sl ender bit of drawing
A c ontemporary c hronicle tells of the battl e of Ronces
valles and says
In which battle was slain Roland
prefect o f the marches of Britta ny
Merely a Breton

t
quire
we
are
told
believe
o
a very gallant country
s
gentleman whose name woul d not have b een preserved
in p riestly archives had he not won for himself by his
ne courage such an unfading laure l crown But b e

c ause we are so sure that it is the memory that the


sol dier l eaves after him like the l ong trail of light that

foll ows the sunk en su n


an d because so often oral
tradition is less misl eading than the written word we
gla dl y and undoubtingly give R oland high place in the
Val hall a of heroes of all ra c es and of every time
777 or 7 78 A D is the date xed for the great ght
at Roncesvalles where Rolan d won death and gl ory
Charl emagne King of the Fran k s and Head of the H oly
Roman Empire was returning V ictoriously from a seven
years c ampai gn against the S aracens in Spain

of

NO

N or

f rtr s s ta d b f r
wall
c ity l ft t
o

es
,

n or

e o e

bd d

d tr y d

him

be

u n su

es

ue

save on e the city of Saragossa the stronghold of King


Marsil e or Marsiglio H ere amongst the mountains the
King and his peop l e still held to their idols worshipped
and l ooked
Mah om m e d Apoll o an d Term agau n
,

A BO OK O F MYTHS

2 68

forward with horror to a day when the mighty Charl e


magne might by the power of the sword thrust upon
them the worship of the crucied Christ Ere Charl e
magne had returned to his ow n land Marsil e held a
council with his peers To believe that the great con
u e ror woul d rest content with Saragossa still u n con
q
quered were too nuch to hope for Surely he woul d
return to force his rel igion upon them Wh at then
was it best to do
A very wily emir was Bl an can drin
brave in war and wise in counsel and on his advice
Marsil e sent ambassadors to Charlemagne to ask o f him
upon what conditions he woul d be allowed to retain
his kingdom in peace and to c ontinue to worship the
gods of his fathers Mounted on white mul es with
silver saddles and with reins o f gold and bearing olive
branches in their hands B l an can drin an d the ten mes
by Marsil e arrived at Cordova where
sen gers sent
Charl emagne rested with his army Fifteen thousand

tried veterans were with him there and his Douze


peres his Twe l ve P eers who were to him what the
Knights of the Round Tab l e were to King Arthur o f
Britain H e held his court in an orchard and under
a great pine tree from which the wild honeysuckle
hung like a fragrant canopy the mighty king and
emperor sat o n a throne o f gold
The messen gers of Marsil e saw a man of much more
than ordinary stature an d with the commanding presence
of one who might indeed c onquer kingdoms but his
sword was laid aside and he watched contentedl y the
contests between the older o f his knights who played
,

R O LAND THE PALADIN

2 69

chess under the shade of the fruit trees and the fencing
bouts of the younger warriors Very dear to him were
all his D ou zep ere s yet dearest o f a ll was his ow n nephew
Roland In him he saw his ow n youth again his ow n
imperiousness his reckless gallantry his utter fearl ess
ness all those qualities which endeared him to the
heart s of other men Roland was his sister s son and it
was an evil d ay for the fair Bertha when sh e told her
brother that in spite of his anger and s c orn she had
disobeyed his c omman ds and had wed the m an sh e
l oved Milon a poor young knight
N o l onger woul d Charlemagne recognise her as
sister and in obscurity and poverty Roland was born
He was still a very tiny lad when his father in attempt
ing to ford a ooded river was swept down stream and
drowned and Bertha had no on e left to fend for her
and for her child Soon they had no food left and the
l ittle Roland watched with amazed eyes his famished
m other growing so wea k that sh e could not rise from the
bed where sh e lay nor answer him when he pulled her
by the hand and tried to make her come with him to
see k his father and to nd something to eat And
when he saw that it was hopeless the child knew that
he must take his father s place and get food for the
mother w h o lay so pale an d so very still Into a great
hall where Charlemagne and his lords were banqueting
R oland strayed Here was food in plenty ! Savoury
s melling delicious to his little empty stomach were the
daintily cooked meats whi ch the Emperor an d his
c ou rt ate from o ff their si lver platters Only on e
,

A B O O K OF MYTH S

270

plateful of food such as this mu st of a surety make hi s


dear mother strong and wel l on c e more N ot for a
moment di d R ol and hesitate Even as a tiny sparrow
darts into a l ion s cage and picks up a s crap almost ou t
s o a cted R oland
A
o f the monarch s hungry j aws
plateful of food stood beside the K ing At this Rolan d
sprang seized it with both hands and j oyful ly ran o ff
with his p rey When the serving men woul d have
c aught him Charlemagne laughing bade them desist

A hungry on e this he said


and very bold
S o the meal went on and when R oland had fed his
mother with some piece s of the ri c h food and had s een
her gradually revive y et another thought c am e to his
b aby min d

My father gave her wine he thought


They
were drinking wine in that great hal l It wil l m ake her

white cheeks red again


Thus he ran back as fast as his l egs c oul d c arry
him and Charlemagne smiled yet m ore when he saw
the beautiful c hild who knew no fear retu rn to the
plac e where he had thieved Right up to the King s
c hair he came solemnly measured with his eye the cup s
of wine that the great company qua ffed
saw that the
cup of Charlemagne was the most bea utiful an d the
ful lest of the purple red wine stret ched out a d aring
little hand grasped the cup and prepared to go o ff
again l ik e a marauding bright eyed bird Then the
King s eized in his own hand th e han d that held
the cup

N o ! n o ! bold thief
he s aid
I c annot have
,

R OLAND T HE PALADIN

2 71

my golden cup stolen from me be it done by ever


so s turdy a robber
Te ll m e w h o s ent thee ou t to
stea l
An d R oland an erect gallant l ittle gure his hand
still in the iron grip o f the King fearlessly an d proudl y
gazed back into th e eyes of Charlemagne

he said
My mother l ay very
N o on e s ent me
c old an d still and woul d not speak and sh e had said
my father would come back no more so there was none
but m e to s ee k her food Give me the wine I say for
and the c hil d
sh e is so c ol d and so very very white
stru ggl ed to free his hand that still held the cup
asked Charlemagne
Wh o art thou then

My name is Roland let me go I pray thee an d


again he tried to drag hi ms elf free And Charlemagne
m o ckingly said
Roland I fear thy father an d m other have taught

thee to be a cl ever thief


Then anger bl azed in R oland s eye s

My mother is a l ady o f high degree ! he cried


I am her page her cupbearer her knight
an d
and he would have
I do n ot s peak false words
struck the King for very rage
Then Charlemagne turned to his lords and aske d
Who is this child
He i s the son o f thy
An d on e ma d e answer
sister Bertha an d of Milon the knight who was drowned

these three weeks agone


Then the heart o f Charlemagne grew heavy with
remorse when he found that his sister had so nearly died
,

A B O O K OF MYTH S

2 72

want and from that day sh e never knew aught but


k indness and tenderness from him while Roland was
dear to him as his own child
He was a D ou zep e re now an d when the envoys from
S aragossa had delivered their message to Charlemagne
he was on e of those who helped to do them honour at
a great feast that was hel d for them in a p avilion raised
in the orchard
Early in the morning Charlemagne heard mass an d
then on his golden throne under the great p ine he sat
and took counsel with his D ou zep ere s Not on e of them
trusted Marsil e but Ganel on who had married the
widowed Bertha and who had a jealous hatred for his
step son so be l ove d b y his mother so loved and
honoured by the K ingwas ever ready to oppose the
c ounse l of Roland Thus did he persuade Charlemagne
to send a messenger to Marsil e commanding him to
d e l iver up the keys o f Saragossa in all haste to become
a Christian and in person to come and with a ll humility
pay homage as vassal to Charlemagne
Then arose the question as to which of the p eers
shoul d bear the arrogant message R oland ever greedy
for the p ost o f danger impetuously asked that he might
be chosen B ut Charlemagne woul d have neither him
nor his dear friend and fellow knight O li ver h e who
was the Jonathan o f Roland s David nor wou l d he
have N aism e s de Bavi ere nor Turpin
the chivalrous

and undaunted Bishop of Rheims


He coul d not
a fford to risk their lives and Marsil e wa s know n to be
treacherous Then he said to his peers
of

R O LAND THE PALADIN

2 73

Choose ye for me whom I shall send Let it be


brave yet not over rash and who will
on e who is wise

defend mine honour valiantly


Then Roland who never knew an ungenerous thought
quickly said :
Then indeed it must be Ganelon w h o
goes for if he goes or if he stays y ou have none bette r

than he
An d all the other peers a pplauded the choice and
Charlemagne said to Ganelon
Come hither Ganelon and re ceive my staff and
glove which the voice of all the Franks have given to

thee
But the honour which all the others coveted was
n ot held to be an honour by Ganelon
In fu rious rage
he turned upon Roland
You and your friends have sent me to my death
he c ried
But if by a miracle I should return look
o
e
u
to
yourse
l
f
Roland
for
assuredly
I
shall
be
r
y
venged
And R oland grew red then very white and said
I had taken thee for another man Ganelon Gladly
will I take thy place Wilt give m e the honour to bear
And eagerly
thy staff and glove to Saragossa sire 9
he looked Charlemagne in the face e ager as when a
child he had c raved the cup of wine for his mother s
s ake
But Charlemagne with darkened brow shook his head

Ganelon must go he said


for so have I com
Go ! for the honour of Jesus Christ an d for
m an d e d

your Emperor
.

A B OOK O F MYTH S

2 74

Thus sullenly and unwillingly and with burnin g


hatred against Roland in his heart Ganelon accompanied
the Sara c ens ba ck to Saragossa A hate so bitter was
not easy to hide and as he rode beside him the wily
Bl an can drin was not long in laying a probing nger on
this festering sore Soon he saw that Ganel on woul d
pay even the pri c e of his honour to revenge himse lf
up on R olan d and on the other D ou ze p eres whose lives
were more pre ci ous than his in the e y e s of Charl emagne
Yet when Sarag ossa was reached l ike a brave man and
a true did Ganelon de l iver the insulting m essage that his
with
ow n brain had con c eive d an d that the Em p eror
magnicent arrogance had bidden him de l iver An d
this he did although he knew his life hung b ut by a threa d
whi l e Marsil e and the Sara c en l ords l istene d to his word s
But Marsil e k ept his anger un d er think ing with c omfort
o f what B l an ca n drin ha d tol d him o f his d is c overy b y
the way And very s oon he ha d shown Ganelon how he
might be avenged on R oland and on the friends of R ol an d
and in a manner which his treachery need never b e
known and very ri c h were the bribe s that he offered
to the faithless knight
Thus it c ame about that Ganelon sold his honour
and bargained with the Sara c ens to betray R olan d and
his c ompanions into their hand s in their passage of
the narrow d e l es of Ron c esvalles For more than fty
pieces of silver Marsil e purchased the soul of Gane l on
and when this Judas o f the D ou zep eres returned in
safety to Cordova bringing with him princely gifts for
Charlemagne the keys of Saragossa and the promise
,

R O LAND THE PALAD IN

2 75

that in sixteen days Marsil e woul d repair to Fran c e


to d o homage and to embra c e the Christian faith the
Emperor was happy indeed Al l had fallen ou t a s he
desired Ganelon who had gon e forth in wrath had
returned calm and gallant and had c arrie d h imself
throughout his di f cult embassy a s a wise state sman an d
a brave and loyal soldier

Thou has done we ll Ganelon


s aid the k ing
I give thanks to my God and to thee Thou shalt be

wel l rewarded
Th e order then wa s s peedily given for a return to
Fran c e and for ten miles the great army marched
before they halted and en c a mped for the night
B ut
when Charlemagne slept instead of dream s of pea c e he
had tw o dreams which disturbed him greatly In the
rst Ganel on roughly seized the imperial spear of tough
In
a sh wood and it broke into splinters in his hand
the ne xt Charlemagne saw himself atta cked by a leopard
and a bear whi c h tore off his right arm and as a grey
hound darted to his aid he awok e and rose from his cou c h
heavy at heart because of tho s e dreams of evil omen
In the morning he held a c ouncil and reminded hi s
knights of the dangers of the lonely pass o f R on c e s
valle s It was a small oval plain shut in all round
save on the south where the river found its outlet by
pre cipitou s mounta in ridges densely c overed with bee c h
wo ods Mountains ran sheer up to the sky above it
pre cipi ces rushed sheer down below and the path that
c rossed the c rest of the Pyrenees and led to it was so
narrow that it mu st be traver sed in single l e Th e
,

A BOO K OF MYTH S

2 76

dangers for the rearguard naturally seemed to Charle


magne to be the greatest and to his D ou zep eres he
turned as before for cou nsel

Who then shall command the rearguard ! he asked


And quickl y Ganel on answered
Who but R oland !

Ever w oul d he seek the post where danger lies


An d Charlemagne feel ing he owed much to Ganel on
gave way to his counsel though with heavy foreb od
in gs in his heart Then all the other D ou zepere s save
Ganel on said that for love of R ol and they woul d go
with hi m and se e him safely through the dangers of the
way Loudly they vaunted his bravery
,

F or dred

dethe, he hid

ne u er

his hed

ing them behind with twenty thousand men and


with Ganel on c omm andin g the vanguard Charlemagne

C hrist kee p y ou

he said

I betak you to Crist

on

parting with R oland

And R oland cl ad in his shining armour his lordly


helmet on his head his sword D u ren dal a by his side
his horn Ol iv an t slung round him and his ow er
painted shie l d on his arm mounted his good steed
V e il l an tif and holding his bright lan c e with its white
pennon and golden fringe in his hand led the way for
his fellow knights and for the other Frank s who so
dearly loved him
Not far from the pass of Ron c esvalles he sa w gleam
ing against the dark side o f the purple mountain the
S pears of the Sara c ens Ten thousand men under Sir
,

R O LAND THE PALADIN

2 77

Gautier were sent by Roland to reconnoitre but from


every side the heathen pressed upon them and every
on e of the ten thousa nd were slain hurled into the vall ey
far down bel ow Gautier alone sorely wounded re
turned to Roland to tell him ere his life ebbed away
of the betrayal by Gane l on
and to warn him of the
ambush Yet even then they were at R on c esvall e s
and the warning came too late Afar o ff amongst the
beech trees and coming down amongst the l onely passes
of the mounta ins
the Franks coul d se e the gleam of
s ilver armour and Oliver well knowing that n ot even
the most dauntless valour c ould withstand such a host
as the on e that came against them besought Roland
to b l ow a blast on his magic horn that Charlemagne m ight
hear an d return to aid him And all the other Douze
peres be gged of him that thus he woul d c all for help
But Roland woul d not listen to them
I will ght with th m that bath ugh t
A d
I m y br t b l d th gh my har
y
Bl w v r h r f
h lp th
,

or

es

se

e so

us

ro u

n es r

ne

o n

or n o

en

Through the night they knew their enemies were


c oming ever nearer hemming them in but there were
no night alarms and day broke fair and still There
was no wind there was dew on the grass
dew dy m m d

the oure s and amongst the trees the birds sang merrily
At daybre ak the good Bishop Turpin celebrated Mass
and blessed them and even as his voice ceased they b e
held the Sara c en host close upon them Then R oland
spoke brave words of cheer to his army a n d commended

their s ouls and h is o w n to Christ w h o su ffrid for us


,

A B O O K OF MYTHS

2 78

paynes sore an d for whose sak e they had to ght the


enemies of the Cross
Behind every tree and rock
a Sara cen see med to be hidden an d in a mo ment the
whol e pas s was alive with men in mortal strife
Surely never in any ght were greater prodigie s of
val our performe d than those of R ol and and his comrades
Twe lve Saracen kings fel l before their m ighty swords
and many a Sara c en warrior was hurled down the cl iffs
to p ay fo r the l ive s of th e m en of France whom the y
ha d trappe d to their d eath Never before in on e d ay
did on e man slay so m an y as did Rol and and Oliver his

friend
A R oland for an O liver was n o good exchange
an d yet a very fair o n e as the heathen qui ckl y l earne d
,

Re d w as R ol a n d r e d with b l oo d sh e d ;
Re d h is c or s e l e t r e d h is s h ou ld e r s

Re d h is ar m an d r e d hi s char g e r
,

In the thickest o f the ght he and Oliver c ame together


and Roland saw that his friend was using for weapon
an d deal in g death b lows with the truncheon of a spear
,

Fri e d what ha s t th u th e r e ! c ri e d R l a d
I th i g am
ti s t a d t
B t a b l a d e f t e l th u n e e d e s t
W h r e i w H te cl i e th y g d s w rd
G ld e hi l t d c ry ta l p mme ll e d
H r ai d O l iv r ;
ght I
That I hav e t tim t d raw it
Fri e d q th R l a d m re I l ov e th e e
E v r h e c f rth tha a br th e r
n

n-

e e,

no

uo

e o

so

oo

a r

no

is a

au

'

s e

s no

When the sun set on that we lter of b l ood n ot a s ingl e


Saracen was left and those of the Fran ki sh reargu ard
w h o sti ll l ive d were very weary m en
,

R O LAND THE PALADIN

2 79

Then Roland c alled on his men to give thanks to


God and Bishop Turpin whose stout ar m had fou ght
wel l on that bloo dy day o ffered up thanks for the
army though in sorry plight were they almost none
unwoun d ed their swords and lan ces broken and their
hauberks rent and blood stained
Gladly the y lai d
the m se lve s down to rest beside the comrade s whose
e ye s never more woul d open on the fair land o f Fran c e
bu t even as Rol and was about to take his rest he saw
d e sc ending upon him and his littl e band a host of
S ara cens led by Marsil e hims elf
A hu ndred thousa nd men untired and er c e ly thirst
in g for revenge c ame against the handful o f wearied
wounded heroes
Yet with unwavering c ourage the
Franks re s ponded to their leaders call
Montj oie !
Th e war cry of the s o l diers of Fran c e
Montj oie rang cl ear above the erc e sou nd of th e
tru mp et s of the S ara cen army
,

S ld i r

r d c ri d T r p i
B y va l ia t
d s t a d fa t
F
thi s d ay s hall r w b e g iv e y u
M i d t th w e r f Para d i
am f G d
S avi ur
I th
fri ght d
Be y
t d i m ay d
L t fy
b s ham f l l e g d
f m i tr ls
Cha t d by th t g
d i vi t ri u s
R ath r l t
S i thi
hall see u s l if l s
H av ha s r m f
war ds
b ly ght d vai ly
K i g ht w h
Y ha ll it a m g th h ly
I th e bl ss d ld
f H av e
F ri d f G d t gl ry !
O th
o

e s of

th e L o

an

e o

ou r

e no

n or

es

ns

e s

en ,

on

en

or co

oo

o no

s,

e es

no

en

en

c o

us

ues o

s eve s

n ce

on

e u

ou

se

e n

n,

ns

s o

c o

or

n.

s o

s o

an

B OOK O F MYT HS

2 80

Hars il e fel l th e r st v i ctim to a blow fro m th e sword


of Ro la n d an d even more er ce ly tha n th e one that had
,

this terrible ht
An d n ow it seem ed as th ou h th e Powers of Go od an d
for a sto rm swept down
of Evil al s o t oo k par t in the fra y
from th e moun tain s thick da rk n ess fell an d the rumble
o f th und e r an d th e rus h of hea v y rain dul l ed th e shouts
of th ose who fou ht an d the cla h an d clang of their
w ea p o n
Wh en a bl ood red cloud ca m e up its lur id
light sh owed th e tram pl e d groun d stre w n with d ea d and
dy ing At tha t piteo us s ight Roland pro po sed to send
a m e sseng e r to Charl em agne to ask him for aid but it
w as then too la te
Wh en onl y
P rank s re m a in ed the pride of Rol a n d
gave w a y to p ity for th e men whom he h a d l ed to dea th
an d he to ok the magi c hor n O lifant in his han d that he
m ight b l o w on it a b la s t th at woul d b rin g Ch a rle m agne
b ehin d him to w ipe ou t the Sar a ce n
ar m y
his
ho st that h ad d on e him such ev il
But O liver bitterly
pro tes ted E arlier in th e da y when he h ad wil l ed it
R ola nd h ad re f used to cal l for help Now the dav w as

w
e
done Th t ilight of dea th Dea th the in evi ta ble w as
cl osin g in upo n the m It
then ca ll n ow for Ch arle
!
m a gn e w hen nor he nor an y other co ul d help them
But Tu rp in wi th all h is forc e b a cked the w ish of Rolan d
Th e b la s t of th y horn ca n n ot brin g ba ck th e dea d
"
to life h e sai d
Yet if ou r E m p eror retur n he can
sa ve our corp se s and w eep over them an d bea r them
re veren t l y to l a b e l l e Fra n ce An d there shall they lie
in san c tua ry an d not in a Pan iim l and where th e wild
prece ded

it w aged

R OLAND

TE E

PAL AD IN

2 81

beasts devour them and croakin g w retch e s w ith foul

bea ks tear our es h and l ea ve our bo nes dis honoured

That is well said quoth Ro land and Ol iver


Then did Roland blow thr ee mi hty b la sts upo n his
horn and so grea t w as the third tha t a blood ve ssel
burst an d the red drops trickl ed from his mouth
F or day s on end Ch a rlemagne had bee n al a rmed at
the de lay of his reargu ard but ever the fal se Gan el on
ha d reas s ured him
3
Why shoul dst thou fear sire
he asked
Ro la nd
h as sure ly gone afte r some wil d bo ar or dee r so fond is

he of the cha se
But when Roland blew the b last tha t bro ke his
mighty hea rt Charlema gne h eard it clearly an d no
longe r had an y doubt of th e mean ing of its cal l
He
lm ew that his drea ms h ad c ome true and at on ce he
se t hi s face to wa r ds the dire p as s of Roncesv alles t h at
he might even at the eleventh hour sa ve Ro land an d
.

his m e n

Lo ng e re Charlema gne coul d reach the c hildr en


of his soul who sto od in su ch dir e need the uncle of
Har sil e h a d rea ch ed the p l a ce of b a ttle wi th a force of
fty thou sand men Pierced fr om be hind by a cow ardl v
lan ce O liver w a s sobbin g out his lif e s bl ood Yet ever
he cried
Montjoie ! Montj oie I an d ea ch time his
voice form e d the words a thr us t from his sword or from
the lan ces of his men drove a soul down to Hades
And when he was b rea thing his last an d l ay on the
e arth h u m bl v conf es sin g his s in s an d be ggin g Go d to
gran t him re st in Para di s he as ked God s bl e ssing up on
,

'

'

MYTH S

A BO OK O F

2 82

C harlemagne his lord the k ing and upon hi s fair l an d


and above all other men to keep free from
of Fran c e
scathe his heart s true brother and c omrade R oland
the gallant knight Then d id he gently sigh his l ast
little m easure of l ife away and as Roland bent over
him he fe lt that half of the glamou r of living Wa s gone
Yet still so dearly did he l ove Aude the Fair the si ster
who Wa s to be his bride that hi s mus cles
of O liver
grew taut as he gri p ped hi s sword an d his c ourage was
the dauntl e ss c ourage of a furious wave that fa c es all
the cl iffs of a rocky c oast in a winter storm when again
h e fa c ed the Sara c en host
Of all the D ou zep eres only Gautier an d Turpin and
Rolan d n ow remaine d an d with the m a poor littl e
handful o f mai m e d m en at arms Soon a Sara cen arrow
d rove through the heart of Gautier an d Turpin wounde d
by four lan c es stood alone by Rol and s side But for
ea ch lan c e thrust he s l ew a hun d re d men an d when at
length he fell R oland himself s orel y wounde d sei z ed
on c e more his horn an d b l ew upon it a p ierc ing bla st
a b l a t f that d r e a d h rn
O F t
bi
b r e
e ch e
That t Ki g Char l e d i d c m e
Wh R w l a d brav
d O l ivi e r
A d e v e ry p a l a d i
d peer

O R
c vall e d i e d
S ir WA L T E R S C O TT
,

on

en

ara

an

o n

e , an

n an

on

es

That bl ast pier c ed right into the hea r t of Charl e magn e


and straightway he turned his army towards the pass of
R on c esvalles th at he m ight su cc our R oland whom he so
greatly loved Yet then it was too late Tu rpin was
nearly dead Rolan d knew him sel f to b e dying Veil
,

R O LAND THE PALAD IN

2 83

R oland s faithful warhorse was enduring agonies


from wounds o f the Paynim arr ows and him Roland sle w
with a shrewd blow from his well tried sword From
far far away the hero c ould hear the blare of the tru mp ets
o f the Frankish army and at the sound what was left
He m ade his way
of the Saracen host ed in terror
b lindly painfully to where Turpin lay and with fumbling
ngers took off his hauberk and unla ced his gol den
he lmet With what poor skill was left to him he strove
to bind up hi s terrib l e wounds with strips of his ow n
tuni c an d he dragged him as gently as he c ould to a
spot under the beech trees where the fresh m oss still
was green
Ah g e t l l r d s ai d R l a d g ive m l av e
arry h r
c m ra d w h
d ad
T
Wh m w
d ar ly l v d th y m t t l i
U b l t b t I wi l l bri g th ir c rp s h r
d m
th d i
A d th u s ha l t b l s th m
s ai d th dy i g p ri t b t
r t r
G
Tha k G d th vi t ry i y r s d m i

l an tif,

e e ou r

o c

e so

es

o,

es

c o

no

se

ou

so on

an

e , e re

an

us

o a re

es

es

ou

e u n

ne

With e x qu isite pain R ol and c arried the bodie s


Oliver and of the rest of the D ou zep eres fro m
of
the pl a c e s where they ha d died to where Turpin their
dear b ishop l ay a dying Each step that he took c ost
hi m a pang of agony ; each step took from him a
toll of blood Yet faithfully he performed his task
until they al l lay around Turpin who gladly b l essed
the m an d absolved them all And then the agony of
soul and of heart and body that Roland ha d endured
grew overmuch for him to bear and he gave a great cry
li k e the last sigh of a mighty tre e that the woodcutters
,

2 84

B OO K O F MYTHS

fel l an d dropped down stiff and chil l in a deathly swoon


Then the dying bishop dragg ed him s elf towards him
and l ifted the horn O lifant and with it in his hand he
struggled inch by in ch with ve ry grea t pain an d labour
to a l ittle stream that tr i ckl ed down th e dark ravine
that he might fetch some water to revive the hero
that he an d al l m en loved But ere he c oul d rea c h the
strea m the m ists of d eath had veil ed his eyes He
join ed his hands in prayer though ea ch movement
mean t a pang an d gave his soul to Chri st his Saviour
and hi s Capta in And so pas sed away the soul of a
y warr ior and a sta inl ess priest
t
h
g
Thus was Roland al one amongst the dea d when con
W ith feeble hands he u h
sc ious n e ss ca me bac k to him
la ced his he lmet an d ten d ed to him se lf as b est he m ight
And as
h ad done so al so di d he p ainfully c rawl
towards the str eam Th ere he found Turp in the horn
O lifant by his side an d knew that it w as in trying
to fetch him water that the brave bishop h ad died
an d for tenderness an
d pity the hero wept
Al I brav p ri t f i l r d f b l b i th
Th y
ul I g iv t th g r t K i g f H v !
,

as

so

es

a r

ea

M ay t hy f
ul c p
A d P ara d i e r c iv th
ai r so

es a

th e

no

ea

pai

n s o

en

H ll
e

b w r
Then di d Ro land know that for him also there

w as no other way but death


With dr aggin g steps
he toiled uphill a little way his g ood sword D uren dal a in
one hand and in the other hi s horn O lifant Under a little
clump of pines were some rough steps hewn in a boul der of
marble l eading yet high er up the hill an d th ese R oland
n

ee

in its

TH E

R O LAND

PAL AD IN

2 85

woul d have climbed but his throbbing heart c oul d no


more an d again he fell S wooning on the groun d A Saracen
who ou t of fear had feigned death saw him lying there
and crawled ou t of the covert where he lay c oncealed
It is Roland the nephew of the Emperor
he j oy
ou sl y thought and in triumph he said to himself
I shall
But as his Pagan hand
h e ar his sword bac k with me i
tou c hed the hilt of the sword and would have torn it from
Rol and s dying graSp th e hero was aroused from his swoon
On e great stroke cleft the Saracen s skull and laid him dead
at R oland s feet Th en to D uren dal a Roland spoke :
,

ur ely d i

I d
that th art d d t my fri d
L tm b
h ul d a h at h g a p th wh I m c lay
F
My gh t w l d g ri v f ll r
ti l th j d gm t d a y !
I

or s

; b u t,

en

e re

e s ur e

os

ou

en

ou

en

oo

ee

en

so e u n

en

en

More ghost than man he look ed as with a mighty


effort of wil l and of body he struggled to his feet an d
smote with his blade the marble boul der Before the
stroke the marble split asunder as though the pick ax e
O n a rock of sardonyx he
o f a m iner had cloven it
strove to break it then but D u ren dal a remained u n
harmed A third time he strove and struck a r oc k of
b lue marble with such force that the sparks rush ed
Then he k n ew that
ou t as from a blacks m ith s anvil
it was in vain for D ur e n dal a woul d not be shattered
An d s o he raised O lifant to his lips and blew a dyin g
blast that ech oed down the c liffs and up to the mou ntain
tops and rang through the trees of the forest And still
to this day do they say when the spirit of the warrior
rides by night down the heights and through the dark
.

A B OO K OF MY THS

2 86

pas s of Ron c e svalles even such a blast may be heard


waking all the echoes and s ounding through the l onely
holl ows of the hill s
Then he made confession and with a prayer for pardon
o f his sins and for mercy from the God whose faithful
servant and sol dier he had been unto his l ife s en d the
soul of R ol and passed away
W ith ha d d v ut ly j i d
G d
t h i Ch r bi m
H br ath d h i l a t
S ai t Rapha l S ai t M i ch l d l P ril
T g th r with th m Gabri l c a m A ll bri g
t R ll a d t P ara d i
Th s u l f C
,

o ne

e u

ou n

se n

se

Aoi

C harl ema gne an d his army found him lying thus an d


very terrib l e were the grief and the rage of the Emperor
as he l ooked on him an d on the others of his D ou zeperes
an d on the bodie s of that army o f twenty thousand
Many
Al l the eld was with bl od ouer roun
a good swerd was broken ther
Many a fadirl e s

c hild ther was at home


By the side of R oland Charlemagne vowed venge
an c e but ere he avenged his death he mourned over
him with innite angu ish
Th L r d hav m e r cy R l a d
thy s u l !
N v e r a g ai
ha ll
fair F ra c e b h ld
A k i ght w rthy ti l l F ra c b e m r !
,

so

our

on

no

o e

wi d w d l i s
fair F ra c
d h w l
W i ll th r a lm t h at I h av way d r b l
N w th
art ta k fr m m y w ary g
S d p my w
that fai w l d I d i t
A d j i my va l ia t P r i P ara d i
W hi l m
i t r m y w ary l i m b with thi !
H ow
H ow

ou

e s

oe

o n

en

e , an

en

ee

our

ee

ou

on e

oo

se,

ne

RO LAND TH E PALAD IN
A terrible vengeance was th e

2 87

that he took next


day when the Saracen army w a s utterly exterminated ;
a n d when al l the noble dead had been buried where
they fell save only Roland O liver and Turpin the
bodies o f these three heroes were carried to Blaye and
interred with great honour in the great c athedral
there
Charlemagne then returned to Aix and as he entered
his pala c e Aude the Fair sister of Oliver and the
betrothed of R oland hastened to meet him Where
What was the m oaning murmur
were the D ou ze p ere s
as of wo men w h o wept that had heral ded the arrival
in the town of the Emperor and his conquering army
Eagerly sh e questioned Charlemagne of the safety of
Roland and when the Emp eror in pitying grief told
her :

Roland thy hero like a hero die d Au d e gave a


bitter c ry and fell to the ground like a white lily slain
by a c ruel wind
The Emperor thought sh e had
fainted but when he would have lifted her up he found
that sh e was d ead and in innite pity he had h er
taken to Blaye an d burie d by the side of Roland
Very tender was Charl emagne to the maiden who m
Rol and had loved but when the trea chery of Gane l on
had been p roved for him there was no mercy
At
AiX l a Chapell e torn asunder by wild horses he m et a
shameful and a horrib l e death nor is his name forg otten
as that of the blackest of traitors But the memory
o f Roland and o f the other D ou ze p eres live s on an d is
however fan c iful forever fragrant
on e

A B OO K O F MYTHS

2 88

Ro

An d

f th e

tw l v
e

la d
n

Ol yve re,

an d

Tu ssyp e r e ,

That d i d i th b t y l f R y
J l r d h av k i g
h m
T h i bl i
d
b th bri g
T l iv
with ut e bal
S ir OTU
e

e su
o

en

en

ss

en

a a

e o

un c

v al e

an

us

EL

THE

OF L iR

CHILDREN

S il t O M yl

r ar f thy wat r ;
B r a k t y br z y r chai f r p
Whi l m r muri g m r f l ly L ir s l ly d au ght r

M R
T ll t th i ght s tar h tal f w
en

no

b e th e

ee

e n

e s,

ou

e,

ou

er

n o

e o

o se

on e

oe s

00

are the tragedies not the comedies of the ol d


ol d days that are hande d down to us a n d the literature
To the romantic and
of the Celts is rich in tragedy
s orrowful imagination of the Celts of the green island
of Erin we ow e the hauntingly pit e ou s s tory of th e
chil dren of Lir
In the earliest times of all when Ireland was rule d
by the D edann an s a people who came from Europ e
and brought with them from Gree c e magic and other
arts so wonderful that the people of the land bel ieved
them to be gods the D e dan n an s had so many chiefs
that they met on e day to de c ide who was the best
man of them all that they might choose him to be
their king The choice fell upon Bodb the Red and
gladly did every man acclaim him as king all save Lir
who left the council in great wrath
o f Shee F in n a h a
because he thought that he and not Bodb should have
been chosen
In high dudgeon he retired to his ow n
place and in the years that followed he and Bodb the
Red waged erce war against o n e another At last a
great s orrow came to Lir for after an illness o f three

T HE Y

289

'

A B OO K O F MYTHS

2 90

d ays

his wife who was very dear to him was taken from
him by death Then B odb saw an Opportunity for re
c onciliation with the c hief whose enemy he had no wish to
be And to the grief stricken husband he sent a message
My heart weeps for thee yet I pray thee to be
c omforted In my house have I three maidens my
foster daughters the most beautiful and the best in
structed in all Erin Choose which on e thou wilt for
thy wife and ow n me for thy l ord and my friendshi p

shall be thine forever


An d the message brought c omfort to L ir and he s et
nor ever
ou t with a gallant company Of fty c hariots
halted until he ha d rea ched the palace of Bodb the Red
at Lough Derg on the Shannon Warm and kindly was
the wel c o m e that Lir received fro m his overlord and
next d ay as the three beautiful foster daughters of Bodb
sat on the sa m e c ou c h as his queen B odb said to L ir
B ehold my three d aughters C hoo s e whi ch on e

thou wilt
And Lir answered
They are all beautiful but
Eve is the el dest so sh e must be the noble st of the three

I would have her for my wife


That day he married Eve and Lir took his fair young
wife b ack with him to his ow n place Shee Fin n ah a and
happy were both Of them in their love To them in
course Of time were born a twin son an d a daughter
The daughter they named Finol a and the son Aed and
the ch ildren were as beautifu l as good and as happy
as their mother Again sh e bore twins boys whom they
named Fiera and Conn but as their eyes Opened on
,

THE

CHILDREN

OF L iR

291

the world the eyes of their mother closed on pleasant


life forever and on c e again Lir was a widower m ore bowed
down by grief than before
The tidings of the death Of Eve brought great sorrow
to the palace Of Bodb the Red for to all w h o knew her
Eve was very dear But again the kin g s ent a m es s age
of comfort to Lir :
We sorrow with thee yet in proof Of ou r friendship
with thee and ou r love for the on e who is gone we would
give thee another of ou r daughters to be a mother to th e

children who have lost their mother s c are


And again Lir went to the palace at Lo ch Derg the
Great Lake and there he married Eva the se cond of the
foster daughters Of the king
At rst it seemed as if Eva loved her dead sister s
children as though they were her o w n But when sh e
saw how passionate was her husband s devotion to
them how he would have them to sleep near him and
would rise at their slightest whimper to c omfort an d to
care ss them and h ow at dawn sh e woul d wake to nd
he had left her side to see that all was well with them
the poisonous weed of j ealousy began to grow up in the
garden of her heart She was a childl ess woman and sh e
knew not whether it was her sister who had borne them
whom sh e hated or whether sh e hated the children
themselves But steadily the hatred grew an d the love
that Bodb the Red bore for them only embittered her
the more Many times in the year he woul d come to
many times would take them away to stay
see them
with him and ea ch year when the D edann an s held the
,

A B OOK O F MYTH S

292

Feast o f Agethe fe ast Of the great god Mann an an Of

r
t
which those w h o pa ook never grew Old the four
c hildren o f Lir were present and gave 0 y to all who
beheld them by their great beauty their nob ility and
their gentleness
But as the love that all others gave to the four
children o f Lir grew the hatred of Eva their step
mother k ept pa c e with it until at length the poison
in her heart ate into her b o dy as well as her soul and she
grew worn and ill ou t of her very wickedn ess For
nearly a year sh e l ay sick in bed whil e the sound of the
children s l aughter and their happy voices their l ovely
fa ces l ike the faces Of the children Of a god and the
prou d and loving words with which their father spoke
to her like a c id in a festering wound
of them were
At last there came a bla ck day when jealousy had
c hoked all the fl owers Of goodness in her he art and only
trea chery and merciless c ruelty remained She rose
from her c ouch an d ordered the horses to be yoked to
her c hariot that sh e might take the four children to
th e Great Lak e to see the king her foster father
Th ey
were but little children yet the instin ct that sometimes
tell s even a ve ry little child when it is near an evil thing
warned Finola that harm would come to her and to
her brothers were they to go It may also have been
perhaps that sh e had s een with the sharp V ision of a
woman child the thing to which Lir was quite blind
and that in a tone Of her stepmother s voi c e in a look
sh e had surprised in her eyes
sh e had l earned that th e
l ov e that her father s wife professed for her and for the
,

THE

OF L IB

CHILDREN

2 93

others was only hatred cunningly disguised Thus


sh e tried to make excuses for herself and the little b ro
th ers to whom sh e was a child mother so that they need
not go But Eva listened with deaf ears and the
children said farewell to L ir who must have wondered
at the tears that stood in P inola s eyes and the shadow
that darkened their blue an d d rove Off in the c hariot
with their stepmother
When they had driven a l ong way Eva turned to

her attendants
Much wealth have I sh e said
and
all that I have shall be yours if you will slay for me
those four hateful thin gs that have stol en from m e

the love Of my man


The servants heard her in horror and in horror and
sham e for her they answered
Fearful is the deed
thou woul dst have us do ; more fearful still is it that
thou shoul dst have so wicked a thought
Evil wil l
su rely come upon thee for having wished to tak e th e

lives Of Lir s innocent little children


Angrily then sh e seized a sword and herself woul d
fain have done what her s ervants had s c orned to do
But sh e lacked streng th to carry ou t her Own evil
wi sh and so they j ourn eyed onwards
They came

to Lake D arv ra at last now Lough D errav aragh in


West Mea th and there they all alighted from the cha
riot and the children feeling as though they had been
made to play at an ugly game but that n ow it was Over
and all was safety and happiness again were sent into
the loch to bathe Joy ou sl y and with merry laughter
the little boys splashed into the clear water by th e
.

A B OO K O F MYTH S

294

rushy shore all three seeking to hold the hands of their


sister whose little slim white body was whiter than the
water l ilies and her hair more golden than their heart s
It was then that Eva struck them as a snake
strik es its prey O ne touch for ea ch w ith a magi ca l
w and of the Druids then the l ow c hanting of an Ol d
Old rune and the beautiful chil dren ha d vanished and
where their tiny feet had pressed the sand and their
ad shown above the water l ike four daffo d i l
el
l
ow
hair
h
y
heads that dan c e in the wind there oated four white
swans But although to Eva belonged the power of
be w itching their bodie s their heart s and soul s and speech
still belonged to the children of Lir An d when Finola
spoke it was not as a little timid child but as a woman
w h o c oul d loo k with sad eye s into the future and c o ul d
there see the terrible punishment Of a shameful a ct

Very evil is the deed that thou hast done sh e


said
We onl y gave thee love and we are very young
and all ou r days were happiness
By cruelty and
trea chery thou hast brought ou r childhood to an end
yet is ou r d oom less p iteous than thine W oe woe unto
thee O Eva for a fearful doom lies before thee

s
h
e
Then
asked a child still l onging to know when
the dreary days of its banishment from other children
should be over
Tell us how long a time must pa ss

until we can take ou r ow n forms again


And relentlessly Eva made answer : Better h ad
it been for thy peace hadst thou left unsought that
knowledge Yet will I tel l thee thy doom Three
hun dred years shal l ye l ive in the smooth waters o f Lake
,

THE

D arv ra

OF L IR

CH I L DREN

2 95

three hundred years on the S ea of Moyle


which is between Erin and Al ba ; three hundred years
3
more at Iv ros D om n an n and at Inis Gl ora on the
Western Sea
Until a prince from the north shall
marry a prin c es s from the s outh ; until the Tail l eken
l
St
P
atrick
shal
c ome to Erin and unti l ye shall hear
(
)
th e s ound Of the Christian bell neither my power nor
thy power nor the power Of any Druid s rune s c an set

f
ree
until
that
weird
is
dreed
e
y
As sh e spoke a strange s oftening c ame into th e
evi l woman s heart They were so still those white
c reatures who gazed up at her with eager beseeching
eyes through which looked the souls Of the little chil
d ren that o nce sh e had loved They were so silent an d
piteous the little Fiera and Conn whose dimpled baby
faces sh e Often used to kiss And sh e s aid that her
burden of guilt might be the lighter
This relief shall ye have in your trouble s Though
ye keep your human reason and your human s pe ech
yet shall ye suffer n o grief because your form is the
form Of swans and you shall sing songs more sweet than

any music that the earth has ever known


Then Eva went back to her chariot and drove to the
palace of her foster father at the Great Lake and the
four white swans were l eft on the lonel y waters o f D arvra
When sh e reached the palace without the c h ildren
the king asked in disappointm ent why sh e had not
brought them with her
1

The N o

rt h Cha l
A m all i la
n ne

n d off

rri

B en m u l l e t

s,

in

Mayo

A B O O K O F MYTHS

2 96

Lir loves thee n o longer sh e made answer


He
will not trust his children to thee lest thou shoulds t work

them some ill


But her father did not believe her lying wor d s
Speedily he sent messengers to Shee Fin n ah a that they
might bring back the children who ever carried oy
with them Amazed Lir received the message and
when he learned that Eva had reached the palace alone
a terrible dread arose in his heart In great haste he
and as he passed by Lake D arv ra he heard
set ou t
voices singing melodies so sweet and moving that he
was fain in spite Of his fears to stop and listen An d
10 as he listened he found that the singers were four
swans that swam cl ose up to where he stood and
greeted him in the glad voices o f his ow n dear c hil
dren Al l that night he stayed beside them and when
they had told him their piteous tale and he knew that
no power could free them till the years Of their doom
were a c complished Lir s heart was like to break with
pitying love and innite sorrow At dawn he took a
tender leave Of them and drove to the house of Bodb
the Red Terrible were the words of Lir an d dark
was his fac e as he told the king the evil thing that Eva
had done An d Eva who had thought in the madness
Of her j ealousy that Lir woul d give her all his love when
he was a childless man shrank white and trembling
away from him when sh e saw the furious hatred in his
eyes Then said the king and h is anger was even as the
anger Of Lir
The suffering Of th e little chil dren who are dear
.

THE CHILDREN O F LIR

297

to ou r souls shall c ome to an en d at last Thine shall

be an eternal doom
And he put her on oath to tell him what shape Of
all others on the earth or above the earth or beneath
the earth sh e most abhorred and into which sh e most

dreaded to be transformed

A demon Of the air answered the c owering wo man


A demon Of the air shalt thou be unti l time shall

c ease !
said her foster father Thereupon he smote
her with his d ruidical wand and a c reature too hideous
for men s eyes to look upon gave a great scream Of
anguish and app e d its black wings as it ew away to
j oin the other demons Of the air
Then the king of the D edan n an s and all his peop le
went with Lir to Lake D arv ra and listened to the
honey sweet melodie s that were sung to them by th e
white swans that had been the children Of their hearts
And such magic was in the musi c that it coul d lull
away all sorrow and pain and give rest to the grief
stricken and sleep to the toil worn and the heavy at
heart And the D e dan n a n s made a great en c amp
ment on the shores Of the lake that they might never be
far from them There too as the centuries went by
came the Milesians who succeeded the D e dann an s in
Erin and so for the children Of L ir three hundred years
passed happily away
Sad for them and for Lir and for all the people
was the day when the years at
of the D e da n n an s
D arv ra were ended and the four swans said farewell
to their father and to all who were so dear to them
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

2 98

spread their snowy pinions and took ight for the


stormy s ea They sang a song of parting that made
grief sit heavy o n the hearts of all those who listened
and the men of Erin in memory of the children of Lir
and of the go od things they had wrought by the magic
of their music made a law and pro claimed it throughout
all the land that from that time forth no man of their
land sh ould harm a swan
Weary were the great white win g s of the c hil dren
of Lir when they rea c hed the jagged rock s by the side
Of the erce grey sea Of Moyle whose turbulent waves
fought angrily together And the d ays that came to
them there were days Of weariness of l oneliness an d
Of hardship Ve ry cold were they Often very hungry
and yet the sweetness of their song pier c ed through the
vicious shrie k of the tempest and the sullen boom an d
crash Of the great billows that un g themselves against
the cli ffs or thundered in devouring maj esty over th e
wra ck strewn shore like a thread of silver that runs
through a pall O ne night a tempest drove a cross and
d own the Sea of Moyle from the north east and lashe d
it into fury And the mirk darkness an d the sleet
that drove in the teeth Of the gale like b ul lets of ice
and the huge irresistib l e breakers that threshed the
shore lled the hearts of the children Of Lir with dread
For always they had desired l ove an d beauty and the
ugliness o f u nrestrained crue lty an d fury made the m
si ck at soul
To her brothers Fino l a said :
B el oved ones of a
surety the storm must drive u s apart Let us then
,

THE CHILDREN O F

L IR

299

appoint a place of meeting lest we never look upon

each other again


And knowing that she spoke wisely and well the
three brothers appointed as their meeting p la c e the
rock Of Carrickn aron e
Never did a ercer storm rage on the sea between
Alba and Erin than the storm that raged that night
Thunderous murky clouds blotted ou t stars and moon
nor wa s there any dividing line between sky and sea
but both churned themselves up together in a pas sion
of d estruction When the lightning ashed it showed
only the fury Of the cruel seas the shattered vi ctims
Of the d estroyin g storm Very soon the swans were
driven on e from another and s c attered over the fa c e
angry deep Scarcely c ould their souls cl ing
o f the
to their bodies while they struggl ed with the winds and
waves When the long l ong night ca me to an end
in the grey and c heerless dawn Finola swam to the rock
But no swans were there only the
of Ca rrickn aron e
greedy gulls that sought after w re ckage an d the tern s
that cried very dolorously
Then great grief came up on Finola for sh e feare d
brothers nevermore But rst Of
sh e woul d se e her
all c ame Conn his feathers all battered and broken
and his head drooping and in a little Fiera appeared
s o drenched and cold and beaten by the winds that no
word c ould he speak An d Finola took her younger
brothers under her great white wings and they were
comforte d and rested in that warm shelter

If Aed would only come sh e said


then should
we be happy indeed
,

A B OO K OF MYTH S

3 00

even as sh e spoke they beheld Ae d sa iling


towards them like a proud ship with its white sails
shining in the su n and Finola held him close to the snowy
plumage of her brea st and happiness returne d to the
children Of Lir
Many another tempest had they to strive with and
very c ruel to them were the snow and biting frosts
Of the dreary winters
O ne January night there
ca me a frost that turned even the restless sea into
solid ice and in the m orning when the swans strove
to rise from the ro ck Of Carrickn aron e the iron frost
clung to them and they left behind them the skin Of
their feet the quills Of their wings and the soft feathers
Of their breasts and when the frost had gone the salt
water was torture for their wounds Yet ever they sang
their songs pier c ing sweet and speaking Of the pea c e
and j oy to come and many a storm tossed mariner by
them was lulled to sleep and dreamt the happy dreams
Of his childhood nor knew who had sung him so magical
a lullaby It was in those years that Finola sang the
song whi ch a poet w h o possessed the wonderful heritage
Of a perfect comprehension Of th e soul of th e Gae l has
put into English words for us
H appy
fath r L i afar
W ith m ad d
g Of l v
d war
Th
al t bri
d th whit f am
W ith th h i c hild r hav th ir h m
I th
w t d ay f l g g
S ft c lad w wa d r d t d f
B t
w c ld wi d
f d aw
d i ght
Pi rc d p
f ath r thi
d l i g ht
An d

ou r
e

an

e s

e s

s o
e

o ur

e an

en

ee

ee

no

so n

n e , an

e se

on

o an

e s

e.

o,

s o

ro :

an

n an

CH IL DRE N OF L IR

THE

301

B ath my wi g my br th r l i
W h th r c
wi d h rtl by ;
it h r i d d ath m y br t
O
L ir
have k w
th r r t
F I ON A M A C E O D (WI I A M S H A R P)
en e

en

s so n s

e Ic e -

e an

e s

ne

ea s

n no o

no

es

LL

Onl y on c e during those dreary three hundred years


did the children o f Lir se e any of their friends When
they saw riding down to the shore at the mouth of the
Bann on the north coast Of Erin a compan y in gallant
attire with glittering arms an d mounted on white
horses the swans hastened to meet them And glad
were their hearts that day for the company was led
by tw o sons Of Bodb the Red who had searched for the
swans along the rocky c oast of Erin for many a day
and who brought them loving greetings from the good
k ing o f the D e dan n an s and from their father L ir
At length the three hundred years on the Sea Of Moyle
came to an end and the swans ew to Ivr os D om n an n
and the Isle of Gl ora in the western sea And there
they had sufferings and hardships to bear that were
even more grievous than those that they had endured
on the Sea o f Moyle and on e night the snow that drifted
down upon them from the ice was scourged o n by a
north west wind and there came a moment when the
three brothers felt that they c ould endu re no more
But Finola said to them
It is the great God of truth who made both land
and se a who alone can succour us for He alone can
wholly understand the sorrows of ou r hearts Put
your trust in Him dear brothers and He will send us

comfort and help


.

A B OOK OF MYTHS

302

Then said her brothers


In Him we put our trust
and from that moment the Lord Of Heaven gave them
His help so that no frost n or snow nor cold nor tempest
nor any of the c reature s Of the d eep c ould work them
any harm
Wh en the nine hundred years Of their sorrowful
doom had ended the children o f Lir j oy ou sl y spread
their wings and ew to their father s home at S hee
,

Fin n ah a

But the house was there n o more for L ir their


father was dead
O nly stones round which grew
and where no human creature
rank grass and n ettles
had his habitation marked the p la c e for w hich they
had longed with an aching hungry longing through
all their weary years Of doom The ir cries were piteous
as the cries of lost children as they looked on the desolate
ru ins but all night they s tayed there and their songs
were songs that m ight have m ade the very stone s shed
tears
Next day they winged their way ba ck to Inis Gl ora
and there the sweetness of their singing drew so many
birds to listen that the little lake got the name Of
the Lake of the Bird Flocks Near and far for long
therea fter ew the swans all along the coast Of the
Western Sea and at the island of In iskea they held
converse with the lonely crane that has lived there
since the beginning o f the world and which will live
there until time is no more
And while the years went by there c ame to Erin
o n e who brought glad tidings for the holy Patrick c ame
,

THE

OF L IR

CH IL DREN

39 9

l ead men ou t Of darkness into light With him c am e


K e m oc and K e m oc made his home on Ini s Gl ora
At dawn on e morning the four swans were rou se d by
the tinkl e of a little bell It was so far away that it
rang faintly but it was like n o sound they had ever
known and the three brothers were lled with fear and
ew hither and thither trying to discover from when c e
B u t when they returned to
the strange sound c ame
Finola they found her oating at pea c e on the water

Dost not know what sound it is !


she asked
divining their thoughts

We heard a faint fearful voi c e they said


but

we know not what it is


Then said Finola : It is the voi c e of the Christian
bell Soon n ow shall ou r suffering be ended for su ch

is the w il l of God
S O very happily and pea c efully they listened to the
ringing of the bell until K em oc had said matins Then

said Finola : Let us now sing our musi c and they


praised the Lord of heaven an d earth
An d when the w on d erful melody Of their s ong reached
the ears of K em oc he knew that none but the c hil dren
m agic sweet melody S O he
of Lir c ould make s u c h
hastened to where they were and when he asked them if
they were indeed the children Of Lir for whose sake he had
come to Inis Gl ora they told him all their piteous tale
Then said K em oc Come then to land and put your
trust in me for on this island shall your enchantment

come to an end
And when most gladly they c ame he
ca used a cunning workman to fashion two sl ender s ilver
to

A B OOK O F MYTHS

304

chains on e he put between Finola and Ae d and the other


between P icra and Conn and s o j oyous were they to know
again human love an d so happy to j oin each day with
K e m o c in praising God that the memory of their suffer
ing and sorrow lost all its bitterness
Thus in part
were the words Of Eva ful lled but there had yet to
take place the entire fullment of her words
Dec ca a prin c ess o f Munster had wed Larguen king
Of Connaught and when news came to her of the wonder
ful swans o f K em oc nothing would sufce her but that
have them for her ow n By constant b e
sh e should
se e ch in g sh e at len gth prevailed upon Larguen to send
messengers to K em oc demand ing the swans When
the messengers returned with a stern refusal from
H ow dare d a
K e m oc the king was angry indeed
mere cleric refuse to gratify the whim o f the queen Of
Larguen o f Connaught ! TO Inis Clora he Went post
haste himself
Is it truth that ye have dared to refuse a gift of
your birds to my queen
he asked in wrath

And K e m o c answered
It is truth
Then Ke m oc in furious anger seized hold Of the
silver chain that bound Finola and Ae d together and
Of the chain by which Conn and Ficra were bound and
d ragged them away from the altar by which they sat
that he might take them to his queen
But as the king held their c h ains in his rude grasp
a wondrous thing took place
Instead of swans th e re followed Larguen a very Old
woman white haired and feeble and three very Old men
,

THE

OF L iR

CH I L DRE N

39 5

bony and wrinkled and grey An d when Larguen beheld


them terror came upon him and he hastened homeward
followed by the bitter denunciations of K e m oc Then
the children Of Lir in human form at last turned to
K e m oc and besought him to baptize them because they
knew that death was very near
Thou art not more sorrowful at parting from us

than we are to part with you dear K e m oc they sai d

Bury us I pray y ou together


An d Finola said
.

l if my br th r d ar
W r e th d by m e t r t
F i ra d C b ath my wi gs
A d A d b f r e m y br a t ;
As

o ft

in

so o

on n

an

p l a ce

e s

es

en e

e o

ith r h a d
Cl
l i k th l v t h at b d m e 3
P la c A d cl b f r m y fa c

A d twi
th ir arm ar d m
J O YCE

SO

th e tw o
e

o se ,

as

ne

on

o se

ou n

e o e
s

e,

ou n

igned them in Holy Baptism with the


blessed Cross and even as the water touched their
foreheads and W hile his Words were in their ears death
took them And as they passed K e m oc looked up
and behold four beautiful children their faces radiant
with j oy and with white wings lined with s ilver ying
upwards to the clouds And soon they vanished from
his sight and he saw them no more
He buried them as Finola had wished and raised a
mound over them and carved their names on a stone
And over it he sang a lament and prayed to the God
of all love and purity a prayer for the pure and loving
soul s Of those who had been the children Of Lir
S O K e m oc

D EIRDR E

ll d th O ld w r l d O f th Ga l with a w t w d rful
Th
am O f D ir d r e h b
a har p t
d abi d i g r m r
d b a tif l w m
th a d p t I a l a d O f h
s d brav
am s rviv ! Y t t thi d ay d f v r m will
h w ha ll
FI ON A M AC E O D
r m m b r D ir d r e
H e r b e auty

an

oe s

ou s n

SO
so

on e

ou

as

ee n

an

an

an

ee

e ro e

on

as

o a

or e

en,

en

long ago that it wa s b efore the bi rth Of


say s tradition there was born that
,

Lord

ou r

M r i g tar O f l v l i

U ha ppy H e l f a W e s t er l a d

o n n

en o

n e ss,
n

who is kn own to the Celts Of Scotland as D arth o ol to


those Of Ire land as Deirdr e As in the story of Helen
it is not easy or even possible in the story of Deir dr e
to disentangle the Old Old facts Of a ctual history from
the web of romanti c fairy tale that time has woven
about them yet so great is the power of Deirdr e even
unto this day that it has been the fond task Of those
men and women to whom the Gael owes so much to
preserve and to translate for posterity the tragic rO
man c e of Deirdr e the Beautiful and the Sons Of Usna
In many an cient manuscripts we get the story in
more or less c omplete form In the Advoc ates Library
o f Edinburgh
in the Gl en m asan M S we get the best
and the fullest version whil e the Oldest and the shortest
is to be found in the tw el ft i century B ook of L einster
ag
,

DEIRDRE

3 07

But those who would revel in the Old tale and have
Deirdr e lead them by the hand into the enchanted
realm Of the roman c e Of misty ancient days of ou r
Western Isles must go for help to Fiona Macleod to
Al exander Carmichael to Lady Gregory to Dr Douglas
Hyde to W F Skene to W B Yeats to J M Syn ge
and to those others who like true descen dants of the
Druids possess the power Of unl ocking the entrance
gates of the Green Islands of the Blest
Conchubar or Conor rul ed the kingdom of the
Ultonians now Ul ster when Deirdr e was born in Erin
All the most famous warriors Of his time heroes whose
mighty deeds live on in legend and whose title w as

The Champions Of the Red Branch


he gathered
round him and all through Erin and Al ba rang the
fame of the warlike Ultonians
There came a day when Conor and his c hampions gor
eou s in their gala dress of crimson tunic with brooches Of
g
inlaid gold and white hooded shirt embroidered in red
gold went to a feast in the house Of one called Fel im
Fe l im w as a bard and because not only was his arm in
war strong and swift to strike but because in peace his
ngers coul d draw the sweetest Of musi c from his harp
he was dear to the kin g As they feasted Conor beheld
a dark shadow of horror and o f grief fall on the face Of
Cath b ad a Druid who had c ome in his train and saw
that his aged eyes were gazing far into the Unseen
Speedily he bade him tell him what evil thing it was that
he saw and Cath b ad turned to the childless Fel im and
told him that to hi s wife there wa s about to be born a
,

A B OOK O F MYTHS

30 8

daughter with eyes like stars that are mirrored by night


in the water with lips red as the rowan berries and teeth
more white than pearls with a voice more sweet than the
music Of fairy harps
A maiden fair tall long haired
for whom champions will contend
and mighty

kings be envious of her lovely faultless form


For her
sweet sake he said more blood shoul d be spilt in Erin
than for generations and ages past and many heroes
and bright torches Of the Gaels shoul d lose their lives
For love Of her three heroes Of eternal renown must
give their lives away the sea in which her starry eyes
shoul d mirror themselves woul d be a sea of blo od and
woe unutterable should c ome on the sons of Erin
Then up S poke the lords Of the Red Branch and grimly
they looked at Fel im the Harpe
If the babe that thy wife is about to bear I s to
bring such evil upon ou r land better that thou shoul dst
shed her innocent blood ere sh e spills the blood o f ou r

nation
And Fe l im made answer
It is w ell spoken Bitter it is for my wife and for
me to lose a child so beautiful yet shall I slay her that

my land may be saved from such a doom


But Conor the king spoke then and because the
witchery Of the perfect bea uty and the magic charm of
Deirdr e was felt by him even before sh e was born he
said
She shall not die Upon myself I take the
doom The child shall be kept apart from all men
until sh e is of an age to wed Then shall I take her for

my wife and none sh all dare to c ontend for her


,

DEIRDR E

39 9

His voi ce had barely ceased when a messenger


came to Fel im to tell him that a daughter was born to
him and on his heels ca me a procession Of chanting
women bearing the babe on a ow e r decked cushion
An d all who saw the tiny thing with milk white skin
and locks more yellow than the western gold of the

summer su n looked on her with the fear that even


the bravest heart feels on facing the Unknown And
Cath b ad spoke
Let Deirdr e be her name sweet

menace that sh e is
An d the babe gazed up with starry
eyes at the white haired Druid as he chanted to her :
,

Many

w il l

be j

0 am e

f
f or y our sake
heroes sha l l go to exil e
F or
i s h arm in
a ce
i
t
w
il
l
ou r
b
rin
b
an ish
f
y
g
m en t an d d ea th on the son s of hinge
In y ou r f a te 0 beau tif u l chil d are
woun ds a n d il l doings a n d shedding of bl ood
You w il l have a l ittl e grav e ap art to y ourself y ou w il l be a ta l e of w on der
D Y G RE G OR Y S T R A N SL A TI ON
L
or ever
A
f
ea ou s
.

ou r

y
th ere

a ce,

bea uty

As Conor commanded Deirdr e the little


babe

Of destiny was left with her mother for only a month


and a day and then was sent with a nurse and with
Ca th b ad the Druid to a lonely island thickly wooded
and only accessible by a sort of causeway at low tide
Here sh e grew into maidenhood and each day became
more fair She had instruction from Cathb ad in re
l igion and in all manner of wisdom and it woul d see m
as though sh e also learned from him some Of that mys
tic al power that enabled her to se e things hidden from
human eyes

Tell me on e day sh e asked her tea cher


who
made the stars the rm am e n t above the earth the
owers both thee and me
,

A B O O K OF MYTH S

3 10

answered : God But who God is

no man can say


al as
Then Deirdr e an impetuous child seized the druidi
c al staff from the hand of Cathb ad broke it in two
and ung the pieces far ou t on the water
Ah Cath
bad
there shall come O ne in the dim future
sh e cried

for whom all your Druid spells and charms are naught
Then seeing Cathb ad hang his head and a tear
trickle down his fa c e for he knew that the c hild spoke
truth the child grieved at giving pain to the friend
whom sh e loved threw her arms about the Old man s
neck and by her kisses strove to comfort him
As Deirdr e grew Older Conor sent o n e from his court
to educate her in all that any queen should know They
called her the L av arcam which in ou r tongue really
means the Gossip and sh e was on e Of royal blood who
belonged to a class that in those days had been trained
to be chroniclers o r story tellers The L av arcam was
a clever woman and sh e marvelled at the wondrous
beauty of the child sh e came to tea ch and at her equally
marvellous mind
O ne winter day when the snow lay deep it came to
pass that Deirdr e saw lying on the snow a calf that had
been slain for her food The red blood that ran from
its neck had brought a black raven sw ooping down
u pon the snow
And to L av arcam Deirdr e said :
If
there were a man who had hair of the blackness Of that
raven skin of the whiteness of the snow and cheeks as
red as the blood that stains its whiteness to him shoul d

I give my heart
An d Cath b ad

DEIRDR E

31 1

An d L av arcam W ithout

thought m ade answer :


One I know whose skin is whiter than the snow
whose cheeks are ruddy as the blood that stained the
snow and whose hair is black and glossy as the raven s
wing He ha s eyes of the darkest blue Of the sky and

head and shoul ders is he ab ove all the men of Erin


And what will be the name of that man Lavar

An d when c e is he and what


c am !
asked Deirdr e
his degree
And L av arcam made answer that he Of whom sh e
Spoke was Naoise on e of the three sons of Usna a grea t
lord of Alba and that these three sons were mighty
champions w h o had been trained at the famed military
1
school at Sgath aig in the Isle of Skye
Then said Deirdr e :
My love shall b e given to
none but Naoise son Of Usna
To him shall it belong

forever
From that day forward Naoi se held kingship over
the thoughts and dreams of Deirdre
And when L av arca m saw how deep her ca rel e ss
words had sunk into the hea rt of the maiden sh e grew
and tried to thin k of a means by whi ch to
afraid
undo the harm which in her thoughtlessness she had
,

Now Conor had made a law that n one but Cath b ad


L av arca m a n d the n urse of Deirdr e shoul d pass through
the forest that led to her hiding place and that none
but they shoul d look upon her until his ow n eyes beheld
her and he took her for his wife But as L av arcam
,

N OW D u n skaith

A B OO K O F MYTHS

312

day came from seeing Deirdr e an d from listenin g


to her many eager questions about Naoise sh e met a
swineherd rough in looks and speech and clad in the
nd
elt
of
a
deer
bo
an d with him two rough fellows
p
men Of the Ultonians and to her quick mind there
came a plan Thus sh e bade them follow her into the
forbidden forest and there to remain by the s ide of a
well until they shoul d hear the bark of a fox and the
~
cry of a j ay Then they were to walk slowly on t h rough
the woods speaking to none whom they might meet
a n d still keep ing silen c e when they were again out of the
s hadow of the trees
Then L av arca m sped back to Deirdr e an d begged
h er to come with her to enj oy the beauty of the woods
In a little L av arcam strayed away from her charge and
s oon the cry o f a jay and the bark Of a fox were heard
and while Deirdr e still marvelled at the sounds that
eame so close together L av arcam returned
Nor had
sh e been back a minute before three men came through
the trees and slowly walk ed past close to where
L av arca m and Deirdr e were hidden

I have never seen men so near before


said
Deirdr e
Only from the outskirts o f the forest have
I s een the m very far away Wh o are these men who
b ring n o j oy to my eyes
And Lav arcam made answer
These are Naoise

Ardan and Ainl e the three sons of Usna


But Deirdr e looked hard at L av arcam an d sc orn and
laughter were in her merry eyes
Then shall I have spee ch with Naoise Ardan and
on e

DE IRDR E
Ainle

313

said and ere L av arcam c ould stop her


sh e had itte d through the trees by a path amongst
the fern and stood suddenl y before the three men
And the rough hinds seeing such perfect l ov el i
1
ness made very sure that Deirdr e was on e o f the sidhe
and stared at her with the round eyes and gaping mouths
Of wondering terror
For a moment Deirdr e gazed at them Then :
sh e asked
Are ye the Sons of Usna
And when they stood like sto cks frightened and
stupid she lashed them with her mockery u ntil the
swineherd could n o more and blurted out the whole
truth to this most beautiful of all the world Then
very gently like pearls from a silver string the words
fell from the rowan red lips Of Deirdr e : I blame thee

sh e said
and that thou mayst
n o t poor swin eherd
know that I deem thee a true man I woul d fain ask

thee to do one thing for me


An d when the eyes Of th e herd met the eyes of
Deirdr e a soul was born in him and he knew things
of which he never before had dreamed
If I c an do one thin g to plea se thee that will I

he said
Aye and gladl y pay for it with my
do

life Thenceforth my life is thine


I woul d fain see Naoise on e Of
An d Deirdr e said

th e Sons Of Usna
And once more the swineherd said :
My life is

thine
Then D eirdr e seeing in his eyes a very beautiful
Fairi
sh e

es

A B OO K O F MYTHS

3 14

thing stooped and kissed the swineherd on his weather


beaten tanned forehead

to Naoise Tell him that I


sh e said
GO then
Deirdr e dream of him all the night and think Of him all
the day and that I bid him meet me here to morrow an

hour before the setting Of the su n


The swineherd watched her it into the shadows
and then went on his way through the
of the trees
snow y woods that he might pay with his life for the kiss
that Deirdr e had given him
Sorely puzzled was L av arcam over the doings of
Deirdr e that day for Deirdr e told her not a word of what
had passed between her and the swineherd O n the
morrow when sh e left her to go back to the c ourt Of
King Conor sh e s aw as sh e drew near E m ain Macha
where he stayed black wings that app e d over some
thing that lay on the snow At her approach there rose
three ravens three kites and thre e hoodie crows an d
sh e saw that their prey was the body Of the swineherd
with gaping spear wounds all over him
Yet even
then he looked happy He had died laughing and there
was still a smile on his lips Faithful ly had he delivered
h is message and when he had spoken Of the beauty
of Deirdr e rumour o f h is speech had reached the king
and the spears Of Conor s men had enabled him to make
true the words he had said to Deirdr e
I will pay for it

In this way was shed the r st bl ood of


with my life
that great sea o f blood that w as spilt for the love Of
Deirdr e the Beauty of the World
From where the swineherd lay L av arcam went to
,

DE IRDR E

31 5

the camp of the Sons Of Usna and to Naoise sh e told


the story Of the love that Deirdr e bore him and coun
sel l e d him to c ome to the place where sh e w as hidden
and behold her bea uty
And Naoise who had seen
how even a rough cl Od of a hind coul d a chieve the
noble chivalry of a race Of k ings for her dear sake felt

I wi ll c ome he said to
h is heart throb within him
,

L av arcam

Days passed and Deirdr e waited very sure that


Naoise must c ome to her at last And on e day sh e
heard a song of magical sweetness coming through the
trees Three voices sung the song and it was as though
o n e of the sidhe played a harp to cast a spell upon men
The v oice of Ainle youngest of the Sons Of Usna was
like the sweet upper strings of the harp that of Ar dan
the strings in the middle and the voi c e Of Naoise was like
the strings whose deep resonance can play upon the
hearts Of warriors and move them to tears Then Deir
d re knew that sh e heard the voice of her beloved an d
Even as
sh e sped to him as a bird S peeds to her mate
L av arcam had told her was Naoise eldest of the Sons of
Usna but no words had been able to tell Naoise of the
beauty of Deirdr e
It w
th gh a dd d f
hi b r t f rth i that
p l a c F a w m a c am fr m th thi ck t m r b a tif l t h a
y
Sh w
c l ad i a affr r b v r whit
d r am h h d v r d r am d
d thi w
that w l ik th hi i g O f th
f am f th
c la p t with gr at ba d O f y l l w g l d d v r h
h l d r w th
ri pp l i g d O f h hair th p ray O f w h i ch l i gh t d I t d l i c at
whi ch h c l d
y s
h
d m a d a m i t b f r h im i th

lik tw b l p l wh r i p rpl s ha d w s d r am d
F I ONA M AC E O D
,

as

e s

n n

er

oo

re , an

ue

oo s

e o e

e e n

an

er

on

on

ne

o e

as

su n

su n s

oo

en

or

su

ou

as a s

se a ,

ou

an

en e

ou

se e

an

as

as

er

A B O O K O F MYTHS

316

From that moment Naoise gave his love to Deir

and their souls rushed


dr e above every other c reature
together and were on e for evermore It was for them
the beginning of a perfect love and S O sure were they of
that love from the very rst moment that it seemed
as though they must have been born loving one another
Of that love they talked of the anger Of Conor when
he knew that his destined bride was the love of Naoise
and together they plann ed how it was best for Deirdr e
to escape from the furious wrath of the king who desired
h er for his own
Of a sudden the hands Of Naoise gripped the iron
pointed javelin that hung by his side and drove it
into a place where the snow weighed down the bracken
IS it a wolf
cried Deir dr e
Either a dea d man
An d Naoise made answer
o r the mark of where a man has lain hidden thou wilt

nd under the bracken


An d when they went to look they found like the
clap of a hare the mark of where a man had lain hidden
and close beside the j avelin that was driven in the
ground there lay a wooden hilted knife
Then said Naoise
Well I knew that Conor would
s et a s y on my tracks
Come
with
me
now
Deirdr
e
p

else may I lose thee forever


And with a glad heart Deirdre went with him who
was to be her lord and Naoise took her to where his bro
th er s awaited his coming
TO Deirdre both Ainle and
Ardan swiftly gave their lifelong allegiance and their
love but they were full Of forebodings for her and for
,

D E IRDR E

31 7

Naoise be cause Of the certain w rath Of Conor th e


king
Al though harm shoul d c ome
The n said Naoise :
for her dear sake I am willing to live in disgra c e for the

rest of my days
Of a cer
An d Ar dan and Ainle made answer
tainty evil will be Of it yet though there be thou shalt n ot
be under disgrace as long as we shall be alive We will
go with her to another c ountry There is not in Erin

a king who will n ot bid u s welcome


Then did the S ons of Usna de cide to cross the Sea
o f Moyle and in their o w n land of Al ba to nd a happy
sa nctuary That night they ed and with them took
three times fty men three times fty women three
times fty horses and three times fty greyhounds
And when they looked back to where they had had their
dwelling they saw red ames against the deep blue
sky o f the night and knew that the vengean c e Of Conor
had already begun And rst they travell ed round
Erin from Essa to B e in n E tair and then in a great
black galley they set sail and Deirdre had a heart light
as the white winged sea birds as the men pul led at the
lo ng oars and sang together a rowing song and sh e
leaned on the strong arm Of Naoise and saw the blue
c oast line Of Erin fadin g in to nothingness
In the bay of Aros on the eastern S hores Of the
island of Mull they found their rst resting place
but there they feared treachery from a lord of Appin
For the starry eyes o f Deirdre were swift to discern evil
Th H 11 f H wt h at D b l i Ba y
,

A BO OK O F MYTH S

318

that the eyes o f the Sons of Usna coul d not see Thu s
they fared onward until they reached the great sea loch
Of E tiv e with hills around it and Ben Cruachan its head
in mist towering above it like a watchman pla ced
there by Time to wait and to watch over the people
o f those S ilent hills and lonely glens until Time S houl d
give pla c e to his brother Eternity
Joy was in the hearts of the three Sons Of Usna when
they came back to the home of their fathers Usna
was dead but beyond the Falls of Lora was still the great

dun the vitried fort which he had built for himself


and for those who should follow him
For Deirdre then began a time of perfect happines s
Naoise was her heart but very dear to her also were
the brothers of Naoise and each Of the three vied with
o n e another in their acts of tender a n d loving servi c e
Their thrice fty vassals had no love for Al ba and re
Naoise
allowed
them
to
return
e d when their lord
o
i
c
j
to Erin but the Sons of Usna were glad to have none
to c ome between them and their serving Of Deirdre
the queen of their heart s Soon She c ame to kn ow
well each littl e bay ea c h b each an d each little lonely
glen of Loch E tiv e for the Sons of Usna did not alway s
stay at the dun which had been their father s but went
a hunting up the loch
At various spots on the S hores
o f E tiv e they had c amping pla c es and at Dail an ea s
they built for Deirdr e a sunny b ower
O n a sloping bank above the waterfall they built the
l ittle nest thatched with the royal fern of the mou ntain s
D l
f th Wat r fall
w D l
.

a e o

no

a n ess

DE IRDR E

31 9

the red clay Of the pools and with soft feathers from the
breasts of birds There S h e could S it and listen to the
murmur and drip of the c lear water over the mossy
boulders the spla sh Of the salmon in the dark pools a n d
When the summer su n
se e the distant silver o f the loch
w a s hot o n the bog myrtle and heather the hum Of the
wild bees woul d lul l her to sleep and in au tu rrm when
the bra cken grew red and golden and the rowan berries
grew red as Deirdre s lips her keen eyes would see the
sta gs grazing high up among the grey boul ders Of the
mist crow ned mountains and woul d warn the brothers
The crow of the grouse
of the sport awaiting them
the bel ling Of stags the bark of the hill fox the swish
of the great wings Of the golden eagle the song Of birds
the lilt of runn ing water the complaining of the wind

through the birches all these things made music to


Deirdre to whom all things were dear
Is tu m ein n a D earshu l agha
The tenderness of

e
e
Deirdr
t
e
S O runs a line in an Old Ol d Gaelic
e
r
t
s
w
a
h
verse and it is always Of her tenderness as well as her
beauty that the Old Oea S peak
Sometimes sh e would hunt the red deer with Naoise
and his brothers up the lonely glens up through the
clouds to the S ilent mountain tops and in the evening
when S he was weary her three loyal worshippers woul d
proudly bear her home upon their bucklers
S O the happy days pa ssed away and in Erin the
angry heart Of Conor grew yet more angry when tidings
came to him Of the happiness Of Deirdre and the Sons of
Usna Rumour came to him that the king of Al ba
,

A B OOK O F MYTHS

320

had planned to come against Naoise to slay him an d


to take D eirdre for his wife but that ere he could c ome
the Sons of Usna and Deirdre had sailed yet further
north in their galley and that there in the land of his
mother Naoise rul ed as a king And not only on Loch
E tiv e but on Loch Awe and Loch Fy n e Loch Striven
Loch Ard Loch Long Loch Lomond and all along the
S ea loch coast the fa me Of the Sons Of Usna S pread and
the wonder Of the beauty of Deirdre fairest o f women
And ever the hatred of Conor grew until on e day
there came into his mind a plan of evil by which his
burning thirst for revenge might be handsomely a ssuaged
He made therefore a great feast at which all the
heroes of the Red Branch were present When he had
done them every honour he asked them if they were

content As on e man : Well conten t indeed ! a n


s w e r e d they

And that is what I am n ot said the king


Then
with the guile Of fair words he told them that to him
it was great sorrow that the three heroes with whose
deeds the Western Isles and the whole Of the north and
west of Alba were ringing S hould n ot be numbered
amongst his friends sit at his board in peace and amity
and ght for the Ul tonians like all the other heroes Of
the Red Branch
They took from me the on e who would have been

my wife he said
yet even that I can forgive and if

they woul d return to Erin glad woul d my welc ome be


At these words there was great rej oicing amongst
the lords of the Red Branch and al l those who listened
,

DEIRDRE

32 1

and Conor glad at heart said


My three best cham

pions S hall go to bring them back from their exile


and he named Conall the Victorious Cuchulainn an d
Fergus the son of Rossa the Red Then secretly he
called Conall to him and asked him what he woul d do
if he were sent to fetch the Sons of Usna and in Spite
of his safe conduct they were S lain when they reached
th e land Of the Ultonians
And Conall made answer
that Shoul d such a shameful thing come to pass he
woul d Slay with h is own hand all the traitor dogs Then
he sent for Cuchul ainn and to him put the same
question and in angry scorn the young hero replied
that even Conor himself would not be safe from his
vengeance were such a deed of black treachery to be
p erformed
Well did I know thou didst bear me no
said Conor and black was his brow
He c alled for Fergus then and Fergus sore troubled
made answer that were there to be such a betrayal th e
king al one would be held sacred from his vengeance
Then Conor gladl y gave Fergus command to go to
Al ba as his emissary and to fetch back with him the thre e
brothers and Deir dre the Beautiful

so
Thy name Of Ol d was Honeymonth he said
I know wel l that with guile thou canst bring them to
E rin And when thou shalt have returned with them
send them forward but stay thyself at the house o f

B orra ch shall have warning of thy coming


B orrach
This he sa id because to F ergus and to all the other
Of the Red Branch a geasa or pledge was sacrosanct
,

A B OO K OF MYTHS

32 2

An d
a
e
u
s
g

well he knew that Fergus had as on e of his


that h e woul d never refus e an invitation to a

feast
Next day Fergus and hi s two sons Il l an n the Fair
and B u in n e the Red set ou t in their galley for th e dun
Of the Sons of Usna on Loch E tiv e
The day before their hurried ight from Erin Ainl e
and Ardan ha d been playin g chess in their dun with
Conor the king The board was of fair ivory and the
c hessmen were of red gold wrought in stran ge devi c es
It h ad come from the mysterious East in years far b e
vond the memory Of any living man and was one of the
dearest Of Conor s possessions Thus when Ainle and
Ardan c arried Off the chess board with them in their ight
after the loss Of Deirdre that was the loss that gave the
king the greatest bitterness Now it came to pass that
as Naoise and Deirdre were S itting in front of their du n
the little wave s Of Loch E tiv e lapping up on the sea
weed yellow as the hair Of Deirdre far below and play
ing chess at this board they heard a S hout from the
woods down by the shore where the haze l s and birches
grew thick
That is the voi c e Of a man of Erin
said Naoise
and stopped in h is game to listen
But Deirdre said very quickly
N ot so i It i s the

voice Of a Gael Of Al ba
Yet so sh e spoke th at S he might try to d eceive her
ow n
heart that even then was chill ed by the black
shadow of an approaching evil Then came another
Shout and yet a third And when they hea rd the
.

DEIRDR E

323

third Shout there was n o doubt left in their minds for


they all knew the voice for that of Fergus the son Of
Rossa the Red And when Ardan hastened down to
the harbour to greet him Deirdre con fessed to Naoise
why sh e had refused at rst to ow n that it was a voice
from Erin that S he heard

I saw in a dream last night S h e said three birds


that ew hither from E m ain Macha carrying three
S ips Of honey in their beaks The honey they left with

us but took away three S ips of blood


And Naoise said : Wh at then best beloved d ost
thou read from this dream of thine
And Deirdre said
I read that Fergus comes from
C onor with honeyed words Of peace but behind his

trea cherous words lies death


AS they spake Ardan and F ergus and hi s foll owing
climbed up the height where the bog myrtl e and the
heather and S weet fern yielded their Sweetest incen s e
as they were wound ed under their rm tread
And when Fergus stood before Deirdre and Naoise
the man of her heart he told them Of Conor s message
and of the peace and the glory that awaited them in
Erin if they would but listen to the words of welcome
that he brought
Then said Naoise :
I am ready
But his eyes
d ared not meet the se a blue eyes of Deirdre his queen
Knowest thou that my pledge is on e Of honour
a sked Fergu s

I know it well said Naoise


S O in j oyous feasting was that night spent an d only
,

99

A B OO K O F MYTHS

32 4

over the heart o f Deirdre hung that black cloud of sorr ow


to come of woe unspeakable
When the golden dawn crept over the blue hills of
Loch E tiv e and the white winged birds of the sea
swooped and dived and cried in the s ilver waters the
galley Of the Sons o f Us na set out to sea
An d Deirdre over whom hung a doo m Sh e ha d not
the courage to name sang a song at parting
.

TH E L AY

D E I RD RE

0F

B l v d l a d t h at Ea t r l a d
Alba with it w d r
O t h at I m i gh t t d p art fr m it
B t that I g with N a i
e

e o

s e n

on

e s

no

o se

e o

e o

un

Co il l ch u an

en

ra

Fin ;

n e.

un

nn s

un

a an

un

B l v d i D d gh
d D
B l v d th D ab v t h m
B l v d i I i d igh d ;
2
S ibh
A d bel ved D
e o

Coil l ch u an

W h r Ai l w l d a l a ! r e rt ;
h rt I d m w th my t y
T
Wi th Ai l i Oi i Al ba
e

OO s

nn e

ou

ee

nn

as

so

en

r r

s a

n.

O G l l idh e !
I d t l p by t
thi g m rm r ;
F i h d h O f W i l d b ar d ba dg r
W my r p a t i G l e l idh e
G l e n l aidh e !
u se
s

en a

an

s so o

o s ee

es

as

ss

In istry n ich

A t th h a
e

D
d of

ou

e o

n ve r

asan

s,

as

4
O Gl e m
H igh it h rb fair t b gh
S l itary w
th
plac f
r p
m
O g ra y I

G l e n m asa n !

an

n a

our

ose

a san .

un

e en .

H ly L ch A rgyll h ir
o

G
e.

en

L ug

DEIRDR E
Gl e n e itch e !

32 5

G l e n e itch e

Th r w rai d my ar l i t h m
B a tif l it w d
ri i g
Wh th
tr ck Gl it h
Gl U h i
0 Gl
U h i !
It w th trai gh t g l O f m th ri d g s
N t m r j yf l w
am
f hi
g
Tha N a i i G l U h i
dh
Gl d
O Gl d
dh !
My l v a ch m O f t i h rita c
S w t th ic f th c ck
b d i g b gh
dh
O th hi l l ab v G l d
B l v d i s D igh
d it
di g h r
B l v d i th wat r
a d
th p r
t d p art fr m th
at
0 t h at I m i g ht
B t that I g with my b l v d
l t d by W F SK E N E L L D
T
as

e e

e su n s

en

en

as

o se

en

aru a

e e

ra

oo

a n

oo , o n

a ru a

en a n

s a

en

no

en

ou

s sou n

o e

o er

u e s

e o

e e

e.

aru a

e o

en

an

e Vo

ee

a n

an

rc

rc

en

e.

en e

en

s n

on

e s

o e

es

s on

a n

rc

as

e o

oo

en

e o

se

ra n s a e

Thus they fared across the grey green sea betwixt


Al b a and Erin and when Ardan and Ainl e an d Naoise
heard the words Of the song Of Deirdr e on their hearts
also descended the strange sorrow of an evil thing from
which n o courage coul d save them
At Ball ycastle opposite Rath l in Island where a
ro ck on the S hore
Carraig Uisn each
still bears
the name Of the Sons of Usna Fergus and the returned
exiles landed And scarcely were they out Of S ight of
the Shore when a messenger came to Fergus bidding
him to a feast o f ale at the dun of B orrach Then
Fergus knowing well that in this was the hand Of Conor
and th at treachery w as meant reddened all over with
anger and with shame But yet he dared not break
his geasa even although by holding to it the honour he
E ti
rchy
Gl
Gl
Gl dar l
-

en

ve.

en o

en

ue

A B OO K O F MYTHS

32 6

had pledged to the three brothers for their safe condu ct


and that Of Deirdre was dragged through the m ire
He therefore gave them his sons for escort and went
to the feast at the du n of B orrach ful l well knowing
that Deirdre Spoke truth when sh e told him sadly that
he had sold his honour Th e gloomy forebodings that
had a s sailed the heart of Deirdr e ere they had left Loc h
E tiv e grew ever the stronger as they went southwards
She begged Naoise to let them go to some place of safety
and there wait until Fergus ha d ful ll ed hi s geasa an d
c ould rej oin them and go w ith them to E m ain Macha
But the Sons Of Usna strong in the knowledge of their
and S imp ly trustful Of the pledged word
ow n strength
Of Conor and of Fergus laughed at her fears and con
tinn ed on their way Dreams Of dread portent haunted
her S leep and by dayt ime her eyes in her white fa c e
looked like violets in the snow She saw a cloud Of
blood always hanging over the beautiful Sons o f Usna
and all Of them sh e saw and Il l an n the Fair with their
heads shorn Off gory and awful Yet no pleading words
could prevail upon Naoise His fate drove him on

To E m ain Macha we must go my beloved he


said
To do other than this would be to Show that

we have fear an d fear we have none


Thus at last did they arrive at E m ain Macha and
with courteous welcome Conor sent them word that the
house of the heroes of the Red Branch was to be theirs
that night And although the place the king had
chosen for their l odgment conrmed all the intuitions
and forebodings Of Deirdre the even ing was spent by in
-

DEIRDR E

327

good cheer and Deirdr e had the j oy Of a welcome there


from her Old friend Lav arcam For to L av arcam C onor
had said
I would have thee go to the House Of the
Red Branch and bring me back tidings if the beauty
Of Deirdre has waned or if S h e is still the most beautifu l

Of all women
And when L av arca m saw her whom sh e ha d l oved
as a little ch ild playing chess with her husband at the
board of ivory and gold sh e knew that love had made
the beauty of D eirdre blossom a n d that sh e was now
more beautiful than the words Of any man or woman
c oul d tell Nor was it possible for her to be a tool for
Conor when She l ooked in the starry eyes Of Deirdre
and so S he poure d forth warning Of the treachery Of
Conor and the Sons Of Usna knew that there was truth
in the dreams o f her who was the queen Of their hearts
An d even as L av arc am ceased there came to the eyes of
Deirdre a vision such as that Of Cathbad the Druid on
th e night Of her birth
,

thr t r c h q c h d thi s i ght


h
s ai d
A d
th s thr t r c h s
Thr e T r ch O f V al u a m g th
th
Ga l d th ir a m
th
am O f th S s O f U a A d m r
R d B ra ch ha l l l tim at ly
bitt r ti ll i thi s s rr w b
e that th
l
h
ri
h
thr
g
h
it
d
d
it
l
f
b
v
rthr
w
d
b
l
d
fa
ll
thi
U
p
way d that a s th whir l d rai f wi t r F I ON A M AC E O D

ee

se e

ee

e e

an
s

an

an

u en

ar e

es

ou

es

e n

are

es

es

se

ns o

sn

on

e ca u s

n , an

on

oo

o e

Then L av arcam wen t her way and returne d to the


palace at E m ain Macha and told Conor that the cruel
winds and snows Of Al ba had robbed Deirdre Of al l her
loveliness S O that sh e was no more a thing to be desired
B ut Naois e ha d said to Deirdr e when sh e foretold his
,

A B OO K OF MYTHS

328

d oom

Better to die for thee and for thy deathless


b eauty than to have lived without know ledge of thee

and thy love and it may have been that some memory
o f the face Of Deirdre when S h e heard these w ords
dwelt in the eyes of L av arca m and put quick suspicion
into the evil heart Of the king For when L av arca m had
gane forth well pleased that S he had saved her darling

Conor sent a spy a man whose father and three brothers

had fallen in battle under the Sword o f Naoise that he


might see Deirdre and conrm or contradict the report
Of L av arca m And when this man reached the house
he found that the Sons Of Usna
o f the Red Branch
h ad been put on their guard for all the doors and win
dows were barred Thus he climbed to a narrow upper
window and peered in There lyin g on the couches
th e chess board Of ivory and gold between them were
N aOise and Deirdre S O beautiful were they that they
were as the deathless gods and as they played that last
game of their lives they spoke together in low voices of
love that sounded like the melody of a harp in the hands
o f a master player
Deirdre was the rst to see the
peering face with the eyes that gloated on her love l iness
N O word said S he but silently made the gaze of Naoise
f ollow her own even as he held a golden chessman in
h is hand pondering a move
Swift as a stone from a
sling the chessman was hurled and the man fell back to
th e ground with his eyeball smashed and found his
way to E m ain Macha as best he could shaking with
agony and snarling with lust for revenge Vividly he
p ainted for the king the picture of the most beautiful
:

DEIRDRE

32 9

woman on earth as She played at the chess board that


he held so dear and the rage of Conor that had sm oul
dered ever since that day when he learned that Naoise
had s tolen Deirdre from him amed up into madness
With a bellow like that of a wounded bull he called
upon the Ultonians to come with him to the House of
the Red Branch to burn it down and to slay all those
within it with the sword save only Deirdre who was to
be saved for a more cruel fate
In the House o f the Red Branch Deirdre and the three
brothers and the two sons Of Fergus heard the S houts Of
the Ultonians and knew that the storm was about to
break But calm as rocks against which the angry
waves beat themselves in vain sat those whose portion
at dawn was to be cruel death And Naoise and Ainle
played chess with hands that did not tremble At the
rst onslaught B u in n e the Red son Of Fergus sallied
forth quenched the ames and drove back the Ultonians
with great S laughter But Conor called to him to
parley and Offered him a bribe of land and B u in n e
treacherous son Of a treacherous father went over to
the enemy His brother Il l an n the Fair lled with
shame did what he could to make amends He went
forth and many hundreds of the besieging army fell
before him ere death stayed h is loyal hand At his
death the Ultonians again red the house and rst
Ardan and then Ainle left their chess for a erc e r game
and glutted their sword blades with the blood of their
enemies Last came the turn Of Naoise He kissed
Deirdre and drank a drink and went out against the
-

A B OO K O F MYTHS

3 30

men of Conor and where his brothers had S lain hu ndreds


a thousand fell before his Sword
Then fear came into the heart of Conor for he fore
saw that against the Sons of Usna n o man could pre
vail save by magic Thus he sent for Cathb a d the
Druid who was even then very near death and the
Old man was carried on a litter to the House of the Red
Branch from which the ames were l eaping and before
which the dead lay in heaps
And Conor besought him to help him to subdue
the Sons o f Usna ere they S hould have S lain every
Ultonian in the land S O by his magi c Cathb a d raised
a hedge Of S pears roun d the house But Na oise Ardan
and Ainle with Deirdre in their centre S heltered by
their shields burst suddenly forth from the blazing
house and cut a way for themse lves through the hedge
And laughing
a s though they sheared green wheat
aloud they took a terrible tol l Of lives from the UI
Then again
ton ian s who woul d have withstood them
the Druid put forth his power and a noise like the noise
Of many waters was in the ears Of all who were there
So suddenly th e magic ood arose that there was no
chance Of escape for the Sons Of Usna Higher it
mounted ever higher and Naoise hel d Deirdre o n his
shoulder and smiled up in her eyes as the water rose
past his middle
Then suddenly as it had come the
ood abated an d all w as well with the Ul tonians who
had sheltered o n a rising ground But the Sons of Usna
found themselves entrapped in a morass where the
water had been Conor seeing them in his hands at
,

DEIRDR E

331

last bade some Of h is warriors go and take them But


for shame no Ul tonian would go and it was a man from
Norway who walk ed along a dry spit of land to wh ere
they stood sunk deep in the green bog
Slay me

rst ! called Ardan as he drew near sword in hand


I am the youngest and w h o knows my death may
change the tides of fate
And Ainle also craved that death might be dealt
to him th e rst But Naoise held ou t his ow n sword

The Retaliator to the executioner


Man n an an the s on of Lir gave me my good

s word
he said
With it strike my dear brothers
and me on e blow only as we stand here like three trees
planted in the soil Then shall none Of us know the

grief and S hame Of seeing the other beheaded


An d
because it w as hard for any man to disobey the com
mand o f Naoise a king Of men the Norseman reached
But Deirdre S prang from
o u t his hand for the sword
the shoulder Of Naoise and would have killed the man
ere he struck Roughly he threw her aside and with
on e blow he shore Off the heads of the three greate s t
heroes of Al ba
For a little while there was a great stillness there
like the silence before the coming Of a storm And
then all who had beheld the end Of the fair and noble
Sons of Usna broke into great lamentation
Only
Conor stood silent gazing at the havoc he had wrought
To Cuchulainn the mighty champion a good man and a
true Deirdre ed and begged him to protect her for
the little span of life that S he knew yet remained to her
,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

3 32

And with him S h e went to where the head Of Naoise


lay and tenderly S he cleansed it from blood and from
the stains Of strife and stress and smoothed the hair
that was black as a raven s wing and kissed the cold
l ips again and a gain
And as S h e held it against her
white breast as a mother holds a little child sh e
chanted for Naoise her heart and for his brothers a
lament that still lives in the langu age of the Gael
,

r that y l v brav d c hiva l r Ul t ia !


O r i th e w r d O f a ba k i g b tt r tha
bl tr th !
ur
Of a s r ty y m t b gl a d w h hav ba ly l ai h
I
lay i g th thr
b l t d b e t f y ur br th e rh d
Is

it h

o n ou

n s

e an

e,

se

us

ee n o

n no

es

ous

an

se

on

ns

on o

oo

my b e a ty that se t all thi warri g m e


L et
w my b e a ty b qu e c h e d
a t r ch that i s sp e t
F her
hall I q e c h it h e r wh e r e my l v e d e l i e s
A tor ch ha ll it b e fo him s ti ll thr gh th e d ark e ss f d ath
F I ON A M AC L E O D S T R A NS L ATI ON
L et

n ow

no

e s

or

as

e,

on

ou

Then at the bidding of Cu chu lainn the Ultonian


three graves were dug for the brothers but the grave
of Nao ise was made wider than the others and when
he Wa s placed in it standing upright with his head
pla c ed on his S houlders Deirdre stood by him and held
him in her white arms and murmured to him Of the
love that was theirs and of which not Death itself coul d
rob them And even as S h e spoke to him merc iful
Death took her and together they were buried At
that same hour a terrible c ry was heard :
The Red
,

B ran ch p erisheth !

Ul adh p asseth

when he had S O spoken


Dru id passed away
.

Ul adh p asseth

the soul

of

Cath bad

an d

the

S HE

HE L

IT

A AI N S T
G

HER

B RE AS T

DEIRDRE

3 33

TO

the land of the Ultonians there came on the


morrow a mighty host and the Red Branch was wiped
out for ever E m ain Macha was cast into ruins and
Conor died in a madness of sorrow
And still in that land Of Erin where S he died still in
the lonely cleuchs and glens and up the mist hung
moun tain S ides o f Loch E tiv e where sh e knew her truest
happiness we can sometimes almost hear the wind S igh

ing the lament


Deirdr e the b eautiful i s dead
is
dead
,

I h ar a v i ce ryi g cry i g ry i g
I h ar cry i g it Ol d w ary c ry ti m
e

it th wi d
t f mi d 9

is

e ou

The grey w in d w eep s, the grey n in d w eep s, the gr ey win d w eeps

D ust on her breast, dust on her ey es, the grey w in d w eep s


'

F I ON A M AC E O D
L

IN D E X

A C H E RON 37
Achi ll 7 1
m
A
1 05 12 1 1 2 2 12 3
A d a m 2 20
A d i 178 192 202 203 205
2 08
A d cat L ibr ry 306

Arch il ch 22 3
A d L ch 3 20
A da 312 3 15 316 317 322 323 325
Ar th a 100 101 1 02 103 10 4
Ar g 3 9
Arg a t 39
A g 105 1 22 1 28
A i ta
1 5 4 1 5 5 1 5 6 15 7 1 5 8 1 5 9
160
Ari t ph
1 69
Argyll h ir 324
Ar l d Matth w 228 239 24 0
Ar 317
A t m i 26 2 7
Arth r K i g 2 68
A h r 256
A gard 230 231 2 35 239 240 2 42
A i 135
Atala ta 71 72 73 74 7 6 78 79 80 8]
Ath P alla 3 4 83 84 85 86 87 88
o

es ,

cr i s

s,

on s ,

es

vo

206, 2 07,

la

o,

ra c

rc

e re ,

oe

u s,

an ,

89

e s,

sc
s

s a,

s,

e n e,

10 9 , 1 1 0, 1 11, 1 12 , 1 1 5 , 120,

18% f

1 81 , 182
Atl s , 1 14 , 1 15 , 1 1 7
Aad e th e F , 2 82 , 2 87
u o a , 2 0, 2 1
iAn stbal ia , 2 2 0
A e , L o , 320

a
A rr

air

ch
w
B ACC H AN T S 4 0
B h 40 1 36 138
B l d b a 2 34
Bald r 2 33 2 34 235 236
24 0 2 4 1 2 4 2 24 3
B ally ca tl 32 5
B a 30 1
B rth l m w 88
Bavier N m d 2 72
B lvid r Ap ll 1 1
B
Cr a cha
318
E

acc

us,

rs

2 37, 2 38, 2 39 ,

e,

o o
e,

nn

en

ne,

e,

s,

r e

os,

e v

an es ,

no

eu s,

s o

3 30, 331
Ain n l e , 324
, 2 87
l a C p e e , 287
j a , 71
317 , 318, 3 1 9 ,
, 2 9 5 , 2 9 9 , 307 , 311 ,
320 , 321 , 3 2 2, 32 5 , 3 2 7 , 33 1
an , Oiri r , 32 4
U
e an d e th e G e t, 135 1
e u s , 1 02, 10 3, 104 1 f i
t ae , 69 , 71, 75
on , 124 , 1 28
m
An ap u s , 101
U
n d ro m e d a , 119 , 12 0 , 1 2 3
a
3
i5
i
H
M
n e o , M c a e , 203
a o n 24 5
n
o
An grb oth a , 236
od te , 5 , 1 3, 14 , 1 5 , 4 2 , 4 6, 4 7, 4 9 ,
5 6, 60 , 6 1 , 62 , 63 , 64 65 , 66, 67 , 79 , 8 1 ,
2 02 , 203 , 204 , 2 05 2 06
o o , 5 , 1 6, 1 8, 1 9 , 2 0, 2 1 , 2 2
24 , 2 7,
28 , 2 9 , 32 , 4 2 , 4 3, 4 4 , 4 5 , 4 9 , 9 1 9 2 , 9 3 ,
9 4 9 5 , 9 6, 9 7, 9 8 , 10 1 , 1 2 5 , 12 6, 1 2 7 ,
129 , 1 30, 1 31 , 1 32 , 1 3 3, 1 39 1 4 0 , 14 1 ,
14 2 , 1 4 5 , 1 64 , 1 65 , 1 73, 1 85 , 1 86, 1 87,
1 9 1 , 1 9 2, 2 67

A p ll B l i d 11
A p ll P h b 19
App i 3 17
A h 82 83 84 85 86 88
A ad i a 7 1 77 78 19 7 2 1 1
Arcadi 7 5

u s,

r s

Ai l

A p ll

os ,

us

on

o,

Aix
A i x ha ll
A x
Alba
Alb
Al x
r
ra
Alph
Al h a
A phi
A
A gl ih l
A gl S x
A phr i

n,

A e d , 290 , 2 99 , 300, 304 , 305


ZEgean S ea 36, 90 106, 1 21 , 14 5 , 14 6, 186
ZEg ean I s n d s , 1 72
ZEol u s , 14 4
ZEs c u l a p iu s 88
ZES Op , 1 69
n e , 3 13, 3 1 5 , 316, 31 7, 32 2 ,
,

u s,

e e,
u

ai s

es

e,

o,

n,

B en E tai r , 3 1 7
B e n m u l l e t, 2 9 5
e ow u
2 2 9 , 2 44 , 2 4 5 , 2 4 6, 2 4 9 , 2 5 0,
,
2 5 1, 2 5 2 , 2 5 3 , 2 5 4 , 2 5 5 , 2 5 6, 2 5 7, 2 5 8,
2 5 9 , 2 60, 2 61 , 2 62, 2 63, 264 , 2 65

334

lf

IND E X

lf Barr

ow , 2 64
B e ow u s
B e ow u l f e sb y , 2 4 5
B e rt , 2 69 , 2 71 , 2 72
on , 2 06
Bl a n c an d rin , 2 68, 2 74
a e , 287
B od th e Re d , 2 89 , 2 9 0 , 29 1 , 2 9 6, 30 1

ha

Bi
Bl y
b
B r 2 12
h 3 2 1 32 5 326
B
B lby Cliff 2 44 24 5
o e a s,

orra c

ow

ra h R d 307 308 320 32 1


32 9 3 30 33 1 332 333
Br t
2 67
2 29 2 5 5 260
B
mg m
Brit i 24 4 2 68
B itt y 267
Br k 2 33
B w i g E B 2 09 2 18
th R d 32 2 329
B i
By r
10
I O E 32
CA
C al ary 2 16
C l m m 2 15
C aly d
69 70 7 1 78
ia H t 69 72 76
C ly d
Ca m pb ll Th
2 66
Th 2 15 2 1 6 266
C a lyl
Carm i ha l A l x a d r 307
h 32 5
C r i g Ui
i k
C
2 9 9 230
C a i p ia 12 3
C a t r 71
Mt 8
C ca
B

nc

32 7, 3 2 8

en ,

a n,

oc

u nne

on ,

LL

a v

is

os

naro n e ,

arr c

ss o
s o

h m pi
ha
d
ha 2
h lm g

on s of

n s on

ly

es ,

th e

Re d

R olan d

ne ,

h l Ki g
hr
h i
hi
h i ia
hri i i y
i ri
i
la

Bra h
nc

307 3308

2 66

2 66, 2 67 , 268 , 2 69 , 2 70 , 2 7 1 ,
2 72 , 2 73 , 2 74 , 275 , 2 76, 2 77, 2 80, 2 81 ,
2 82 , 2 86, 28 7
n , 2 82
C ar e s ,
C a on , 3 7, 3 8
C e m m s , 1 17
C n e se , 2 08
C r st n , 2 72 , 275 , 2 9 5 , 303
C
s t a n t , 2 1 5 , 2 2 7 , 2 32
C m m e an Mou n t n s , 1 4 8
C rc e , 22 6
C ro s , 1 4 5
0 110 , 1 2 9
C m e n e , 1 6, 1 7, 18, 24
a

e as ,

ne,

os ,

ar e

e,

an a1

Ce ts , 2 89 , 306
Ce h e u s , 123
Ce e ru s , 34
14 5 , 14 6, 14 7, 14 8, 1 5 Q, 1 513
Ce
, 14 4 ,
C
C
C
C

ah

su s ,

a n es s ,

p ha g

ZE D

s n ea c

ar a

l
p
rb
yx

os . ,

e,

au

un

on

on ,

ch bar
a gh
r

en ,

n n

ro

an

lyti
cy
l ph
ll

C
e , 1 89
Co tu s , 5 9 , 63 , 64 , 104 , 1 15 , 167, 2 07
Coil l c h u a n , 324
on , 83, 86, 8 7
Co o
Con a , 32 1
u
Con
, 307
Con n , 2 9 0 , 2 9 5 , 2 99 , 304 , 305
Conn u
t, 3 04
Con o , 307, 3 08 , 309 , 3 10 31 1, 3 13, 3 1 6,
3 17, 3 1 9 , 320 , 3 2 1 , 322 , 323, 32 5 , 32 6
32 7, 32 8 , 329 , 330 , 331 , 333
Co en
e n , 24 4
Co d o , 2 68, 2 74
Co n t , 192 , 1 9 3
C e e , 1 82 , 1 83
C u
n , B e n 3 18
u
n n , 3 2 1, 3 31, 332
Cu
C n e , 163
C
d e s , 107
Cyn cu s , 2 4:
C nt
n , 1 26
C
u s , 1 1 , 13 , 60 19 4 , 202 , 2 04
C e n e , 1 5 5 , 15 6 , 15 7
C
e e , 2 06
C t e an s o e s , 2 03

r va
ri h
rt
r acha
ch lai
ya
y c la
y h ia
ypr
yr
yt h r a
y h ri h r
D
A U S 181 182 183 184 185
D ai l
318
D l
318
Da a
105 106 107 12 1
d
D
35
Da
2 33 24 8 25 0 2 5 7 2 5 9

e on ,

ri s

3 35

ai

D arth ool , 306


K
D drivra ; L ke , 293 , 2 9 5 , 29 6, 2 9 7
236

ca
i r

D ec
, 30 4
D e da n n a n s 2 89 , 2 9 1 , 29 7, 301
D e rd e 3 06 , 307 30 8 , 309 , 3 10 , 3 1 1
3 12 , 3 14 , 3 1 5 , 3 1 6 3 1 7, 3 18 , 3 1 9 , 3 20,
32 1 , 3 2 2 , 3 2 3, 3 2 4 32 5 , 32 6, 32 7, 3 2 8,
3 2 9, 330, 33 1, 3 32 , 333
D e os , 1 72 , 1 86
D e m e te , 8 4 , 1 62 1 65 1 66, 167, 168
D e n m r , 2 4 5, 25 1
91
D e , L ou
, 2 90 , 2
D errav ara g h , L o u
, 2 93
D e st n , Th e W n e d , 22 3
D an , II , 2 6, 2 7 , 2 8 , 29 3 0 , 4 3 , 70 , 72 ,
73, 75 , 7 6, 9 0, 9 7 , 9 9 , 101 , 1 03, 1 1 6,
12 5 , 12 6, 1 2 7, 1 2 8, 130, 1 64 , 1 73 , 175 ,
19 0, 19 8, 200, 2 03, 2 04 2 10
,

ak

rg
gh
gh
i y
i g
i a
.

A B OO K O F MYTHS

33 6

ia a V

AU T
hi
F l m 307 308
F
l ir 2 38

F
S , 2 16
F ec n , S t , 222

e rn on 2 6
D n
D ou ze p e res, 2 68, 269 , 2 72 , 2 74 , 2 75 , 2 77,
,

2 8 2 , 2 83, 2 86, 2 8 7
D rai gh e n , 32 5
D u d , 307, 309 , 3 1 0, 32 7, 330, 332
D r u d s u n e s, 2 95
D u d s, 2 9 4
D d e n , 45
D
o e , 2 10, 21 1
n B ay , 3 1 7
Du
D u n d gh a , 32 4
D u n F i n , 324
D u n sk a i th , 31 1
D u n S u i b h n e 324
D u n w e e n , 32 4
D u ren d al a, 2 7 6 2 84 , 2 85

e i

a,

177, 1 78 , 2 10

32 3, 326, 32 7

32 8,

i
r pa
rp
ry i
,

300,

ea ,

n e on ,

2 87

easa ,
e

an

n c

an

e,

Gl en d aru ad h 32 5
,

ri

EL,

a
hi p a
thi p ia

pir
git
b

333
E m erson 24 3
E n d m on , 2 6, 2 8 , 29 , 30
E n an d 344
E n n a , 1 04
E p aph o s , 1 6, 1 7, 2 1
E p im eth u s , 2 , 5 , 6, 7
u s , 70
E
E r d e s , 2 16
E re u s 2
E ri d a m u s 2 4
H
E r n , 289 29 0 , 2 9 5 ,
302 , 307, 30 8, 3 11, 3 1 7, 3 1 9,
322 , 3 2 3, 32 5 , 3 33
E r s , 29 5
E ros , 2 4 2, 4 7, 4 8, 5 1 , 5 3 , 5 4 , 56, 5 , 5 8
7
62, 6 6, 67,
2 03
Cmi
E s s , 31 7
E tair , B e n , 317
E t o i , 1 1 8, 11 9 120
E
o
n s, 2 3
E tiv e , G e n , 3 2 5
E tiv e , L oc , 31 8 , 3 20, 32 2 32 4 , 3 26
333
E tn , 101 , 103
E u b ce an S e a , 1 22
E u m e n d e s, 1 9 4
Eu o
, 87
E u o e 2 89
E u d c e , 31, 3 2 , 3 3 , 34 , 3 6, 37, 38, 3 9 ,
4 0 1 15 , 1 59
Ev a , 2 9 1 , 2 9 2 , 2 9 3, 29 4 , 2 9 5 , 2 9 6
E v e , 29 0, 2 9 1
E e n os , 9 1 , 9 2, 9 3 , 9 4

y i
gl

an s ,
a

i ri
ir ak
l c l
lr c
ac
ra k
r ya
i ay
rigg
ri
GA RI
286
Ga l 300 3 06 307 32 2 332
Ga l ic 3 1 9
G l aha d 2 34
Galat
1 3 14 1 5
Ga l
2 72 2 73 2 74 2 75 2 76 2 77
Ga ti r S i r 2 77 2 82
G
326
G rm a i l
g ag 244
G rm
y 233

an ,

a n

3 04 , 305
F o Ma g g i o, 103
F e dr e , 2 61, 2 62 , 2 63, 2 64
F e e e , G o d en , 3 9 70
F o e n e , 1 24
F on tara b ian , 282
Fr n e , 2 66, 2 75 , 278, 2 79 , 2 80, 2 82 286
F n s 2 67, 2 73 , 276, 2 77, 2 79 , 2 80
2 32 , 233, 235 ,
F e ,
238 , 2 3 9 2 5 5
Fr d
2 77
Fri e sl an d ers , 260
F
a , 2 28
F u es, 35 , 194 1 9 6

301 , 303

u s,

no

cra,

C H O 1 74 175 176
E d i b rg h 30 6
E gyp t 3 9 1 1 7 1 9 3
E gyp ti
2 17
E gypti
1 17
E m i M ch
3 14

309

g 321 322 323 325 326 329


Fi
290 2 9 5 2 9 9 304 30 5
F i la 29 0 2 9 2 2 9 3 2 4 2 9 8 2 99
Fer

en s a

ri
i r
ri
ry
ry p
bli
S

Gl endarii el , 3 2 5
Gl e n e au e , 3 25

Gle n l ai d h e 3 24
.

Gl e n m asan 324
,

G l en m a san

Gl en or c h

MS

306

325
(2q ar ,3S t , 2 2 4
Goe t e , 2 16
Go d e n F e e c e , 39 , 70
Gord i a s , 1 34 , 135
G o on s , 1 1 3 , 1 14 , 1 1 5 , 11 6, 120,
12 3
Go s , 2 4 8, 2 4 9 2 5 0, 2 5 2 , 2 5 3, 2 60 ,
2 65
Goth l a n d 24 9 , 2 5 0, 2 5 2 , 260
G eae, 1 12
G e e e , 2 6, 71 , 72 , 74 , 1 5 4 1 9 2 ,
2 10, 2 2 3 , 2 2 9 , 2 3 4 , 2 89
Gre e , 1 00 , 1 2 8, 1 60
Gre e s , 3 , 2 1 5
G e e n I s a n d s , 307
G e o , L d , 30 7 , 3 0 9
G e n d e , 2 4 7, 2 4 3 , 2 50 , 253, 2 5 4 ,
2 60, 2 62

rg
th

ra
r c

121,
2 64 ,

1 9 3,

k
k

r
l
r g ry a y
r l

2 5 6,

INDEX
HA D S 34 35 36 39 65 67 167 1 94
H l y b ird 1 5 3
Hly
14 4 1 4 5 1 4 6 14 7 14 8 1 5 0
1 5 1 15 2 153
H m l t 1 24
H d d 2 60
H ti g 266
H t l i
2 78
H c t 164 205
H i 220 2 23 2 26
H l 2 36 2 39 2 40 2 4 1
H li d 24
H lla 2 17
H ll i tic 2 18
H y V I K i g 14 4
H
t 24 6 2 48 25 1 2 5 6
H ra 169 1 70 175
H r d ia D 2 08
H rm 5 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 6 120 2 10 2 1 1
239 2 40
H m d
H id 4
H p rid Gard f th 1 13 1 14 1 16
1 1 7 1 18 37
H p r 144
Hl id ki l f 2 31
H d r 238 2 39
H ly L ch 324
H m ri c Hym 2 10
H w th Hi ll f 3 1 7
Hr th g r 2 46 2 47 24 8 2 50 2 5 1 25 4
25 5 2 5 6 2 5 7
Hy ci th 129 130 13 1 132 133
H y d D D gl 3 0 7
Hyg ia 8 8
Hy g l
2 4 8 260
Hyl 74
H y m 33
I Y CU S 192 1 9 4 1 9 5 196
181 1 83 1 84 1 85 186 1 87 1 88
I
I
G i t 2 30
E

a c

on

a c

on e ,

ar

re

as

s,

a u e c a re ,

a e,

s,

en s

eo ro

e e
e

es,

er

es o

er ,

e s,

en o

e,

ns,

u s,

e,

as,

ou

r.

e a c,

an s ,

en ,

c aru s ,

an s ,

ce

Id a ,

Mou n t

1 85
I d as , 9 0, 9 1 , 9 2 , 93, 9 4 , 9 7, 9 8, 9 9
Id m on , 83,
22 , 32 6, 32 9
Il l an n th e F
, 3
In e ow , Je n , 167
In s Gl ora , 2 9 5 , 301 302 , 30 3, 304
In s Re a , 302
In istry n ich , 324
In n is d ra igh en d e , 3 2 4
Inve rm a san , 3 2 4
I on , 14 5 , 1 4 7
I on n S e a , 2 1 7
Ire an d , 289 , 306
I s, 14 8, 14 9
Iv ros D om n a n n , 2 9 5 , 30 1
I on , 35

gl
i
i

air
a

ia
ia

ri
xi

oc ,

s e

e s,

an

u en ,

en ,

os ,

ou n

ona ,

L a v a rcam , 310, 3 1 1 , 312 , 3 13, 3 14 , 3 15 ,


32 7, 328
L e by n th os , 186
L e n ste , oo of, 30 6
L et e , 1 4 9
L e to , 1 69
L ib e tl e ra , 4 1
L
1 16
, 23,
L
n , 39
L
t, 2
L ur
24
L t , 220
L ir, 289 2 9 0, 2 9 1, 292 , 2 9 3, 2 9 4 2 9 6

a
e sa

1 72

es e u s,
s

us

ssa ,

as,

e,

es

e,

e os ,

en r

o e,

es ,

an ,

ona

u n o,

e ne,

e u sa e

JA S O 39 70 71 73
J r l m 2 16
J th 2 72
J v 4 25 4 9 64
J yc 305
J d 274
J l i C r 2 61
J
1 4 6 1 4 8 1 50
J p i t r 8 9 5 2 10
K A T S 129 180
K 106
K m
30 3 304 305
K i g l y Charl 105 232
L A DO N 200
L a g A dr w 27
L
g b rd 232
L rg
304 305
L ari
1 22
M
t 27 30
L tm
L at
1 25 1 2 6 12 7 1 28 1 69
N,

s,

3 37

rB k

i bya
i bya
ig h
ig ia
ili h

ki
ba y
h
Bi g
h
gb ar
gf ll
ra all
rli
ll

L o , 2 34 , 2 36, 2 3 7, 2 38 , 2 39 , 242
rd
L om
2 32
L om on d , L oc , 320
r d e , 221
L on d on
L on g L oc , 320
d s , 2 32
e
L on
L on e o w , 2 34 2 4 1 , 24 3, 2 4 4
s o f, 3 1 8
Lo , F
L o e e , 2 20 , 223, 224 , 22 5
L ov e , 2
L ow e , 10, 38
L un a 2 7
L c , 1 70
L y c or m a s , 9 3, 9 4
L d a , 8 3 , 8 8 , 1 28
1
L
, 4
L y sim e l e ia , 10 1
,

y ia
yi
yra
,

MAC L E

OD Fi

3 1, 19 7 , 2 18, 2 19 , 2 2 3,
301 , 306, 30 7, 315 , 3 32 , 333
,

on a ,

A B OO K O F MYTHS

3 38
Mad on n a

r
r
r h ha l
h p
rh
ay
O D I 228 229 230 2 3 1 2 32 2 34 2 35
2 36 2 37
Ody
2 21 2 26
O
3 19
O
69 70
Oi 2 14 2 15
Oli fa t 2 76 2 80 2 84 2 85
Ol iv r 272 2 77 278 280 281 282 283
287
Ol ivi r 272 2 77 2 78 280 2 81 282 283
28 7
Olym pia 6 9 60 1 12 12 9 1 80 2 1 1
Olym p 3 4 5 2 4 4 5 4 6 4 9 67 68

22 7
Mah om m e d , 267
Man n an an 2 9 2 , 331
Ma e ss , 90, 9 1 , 9 2 , 9 3, 9 4 , 9 5 , 9 6, 9 7,
9 8, 9 9
M s o, 267
Ma rs rl e , 267, 268, 2 72 , 2 74, 2 75 , 2 79 , 2 80 ,
2 81
M , rgin , 2 2 7
Ma o, 2 9 5
Me n d e , 1 83
Me at We st, 2 9 3
Me d u s , 108, 1 10, 1 1 1, 1 12 , 1 13 , 1 1 5 ,
1 16, 1 20
Me e e , 69 70 , 72 , 7 4 , 75 , 76, 7 7, 78,
80
M c e , S t , 2 86
M das, 1 34 , 135 , 1 36, 137, 138, 139 , 141,
14 2 , 1 4 3, 19 8, 2 10
M an on , 79 , 80, 8 1
M es n s , 2 97
Mi l e , 10
M on , 2 69 , 27 1
M ton , 8, 38, 2 1 7
M n os, 1 82, 1 83, 188
Mon tj o e , 2 79 , 2 81
Moo e ,
o s , 2 89
Mor u e , 22 1
Mo
e u s , 14 9 , 1 5 0, 15 1
Mo r s , W
m , 4 9 , 5 0 , 5 8, 68 , 1 15
L e s, 2 9 , 67, 1 65 , 168, 2 02, 2 07
Mos u s, 87
m u s , 4 1 , 81
Mou nt
Mow , 2 14
Mo e , 2 89 , 2 9 5 , 2 9 8 , 30 1 , 3 17
Mu , 317
Mu n ste , 304
Mu se s, 4 1 , 1 29
Musset, D e , 2 18

N o s e m a n , 33 1
N o sem e n , 2 2 8 , 2 2 9 , 2 34
No t C n n e , 2 9 5
N ort Ca e , 2 60
N o t S e a , 2 44
N or w
, 2 33 , 33 1

N A G E L I N G , 2 5 0, 2 5 1
N ai d es , 25
N aism es d e Bav i re 2 72
N n n , 2 35 , 2 4 1
N a o s e , 3 1 1 , 3 1 2, 3 1 3 , 314 , 315 , 3 1 6, 3 17 ,
3 18, 320, 32 2 , 3 23 , 3 24 3 2 6, 3 2 7, 32 8,
32 9 , 330 , 3 3 1 , 3 32
N arc ssu s , 174, 1 75 , 1 76, 1 77 , 1 78 , 17 9 ,
180
N e son , 100
N e tu n e , 9 3, 9 4 , 9 9
N ere d s, 1 88
N e sto , 71, 72
N e u n s 224
N i h e im , 2 36, 2 37 2 39
N o e , 1 2 4 , 1 2 5 , 1 2 6, 12 7, 128
N o m n , 2 33, 266

Pa ra
Pa h i
P ph ia
P ph
Par
Parth ia H i l
P a ri ck
Pa y i
Pl
P
P r ri x
Pr

rp a
ar igli

ary Vi
y
a r
h
a
l ag r
i ha l
i
il i
il ia
il
il
i
i
r Th
g
rph
r i ill i a
wi
ch
Oly p
gli
,

yl
ll

a a
i

l
p

ib l g
ib
r a

N,

sse u s,

ea ,

e n e u s,
s e,

u s,

ns,

86, 9 5 , 10 5 , 1 0 8 , 1 22 , 1 2 6, 13 5 , 1 4 0 ,
1 5 5 , 1 66, 171, 185 , 1 87,
2 07,
210, 2 1 1
O m u s, Mou n , 1 30

O on s Be t, 228
e u s , 3 1 , 3 2 , 3 3, 34 , 35 , 3 6, 37, 38,
39 , 15 9 , 2 10
Orp h ic s, 3 9 , 4 0, 4 1
Orty gia , 100, 1 04
Otu e l ,
, 288
v d , 2 5 , 4 5 , 86, 19 7

ly p
ri
Orph

Sir

Oi
P AC TO U S 83 138
P g 2 85
P a g i m 2 1 5 2 16
Palla Ath e 3 83
L

an ,

an s
s

en

84 , 10 7, 108, 109 ,

110, 1 1 1 , 1 15 , 12 0
P a l od es , 2 17
P a n , 5 9 , 63, 138, 139 , 1 4 0, 1 4 1 , 1 42 ,
19 8, 1 9 9 , 200 , 20 1 , 2 09 , 2 10 , 2 1 1 ,
2 13, 2 14 , 2 1 5 , 2 1 6, 2 1 7, 2 18, 2 1 9
n do
, 1, 2 , 5 , 6 , 7
n t e s m , 2 1 5 , 2 16
a
n , 2 06
a
os , 1 5 , 2 03
o s, 2 2 3
l , 71
en
n
t
S t , 2 9 5 , 302
,
Pa xae, 2 1 7
n m , 2 80, 283
e e u s, 71
e n e u s, 4 2 , 43, 4 4 , 4 5
e d
, 182
e s eu s , 1 05 , 1 0 6, 1 07, 108, 109 , 1 10,
1 1 2 , 1 1 3, 1 14 , 11 5 , 1 1 6, 1 1 7, 118,

1 97,
2 12 ,

P r ph
e se

on e ,

80 , 161, 164 , 165 , 167

1 11,
12 0,

INDEX
Ph a t 16 17 18 2 0 2 1 2 2
P h illip S t ph 9 6
Phi
120
P hl g th 194
Ph b 12 9
Ph b Ap ll l 8 l 9
Ph i cia 120
P hryg ia 134 135 136 142
P i d P i p r 2 12
P i ith 71
P ity 2 10 2 12
Pl iad 27 90
Pl m m g i m l Ol
Pl x i pp 71
e on ,

2 3, 24 , 2 5

en ,

s,

n e u s,

us ,

oe

us

ou s ,

s,

u s,

Pyh

ae

in

nc

nc

on s

n e,

of ,

307, 308 ,

3 2 8 , 32 9 , 3 3 0

2 66 2 67 , 2 69 , 2 70 , 2 71 , 2 72 , 2 73 ,
2 74 , 2 76, 2 77, 2 78, 279 , 2 80 , 281 , 2 82 ,
2 83,
2 87, 2 88
Rol l an t, 266
R om n (13 Rose , 266
R om n E m e , 267
R om n s , 2 7
Ron c ev al l , 266
Ron ce v al l e s , 267, 2 74 , 2 75 , 2 76, 2 77, 2 81 ,
282 , 2 86
th e Re d , 32 1 , 32 3
oss
R oun d
e , 2 68

a
a
a

R a

p ir

Tabl

e en e ,

er

os,

eu

s,

e re ,

es

ai

2 2 3,

1 86,

an n on ,
r

ee

a,

e n us,
on

es ,

u s,

ou n

u s,

s e O

es,

n u s,

n,

n,

e ne,

Rin gh orn 2 4 0

Rolan d

ce

o r

e,

s,

ou s e o

e,

e ne ,

an

e v au x ,

re n s ,

EL,

ai n s c

P a
P i
P
h
P rpi

2 79

on ,

P ll x

P gat ri
Pyg ali
Pyr
QUA I I la d 10 1
R AC H A
128
R
h
2 66
R p h l S t 2 86
R thl
I la d 3 25
R d Bra h Cha m p i
320 321 332 3 33
R d B ra h H
f 32 7
R tal iat r Th 3 3 1
R h i m B i h p f 2 72
R h i 224 22 5

c n

2 3, 3 5 , 36, 3 7, 3 8, 64 , 80 , 103, 1 1 5
120 , 162, 163, 165 , 166, 1 67, 2 10
o u , 71
P ol y d ecte s , 106, 10 7, 10 9 , 1 10, 12 1
om on , 2 10
os e d o n , 14 6, 172 , 18 6, 19 2, 222
P i a xitel es, 12 4
rom e t e u s , l , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 8, 9 , 10
n e , 35 , 3 6 , 64 , 65 , 66, 1 6 1, 1 62 ,
ros e
163, 1 65 , 166, 1 67, 19 2
rote u s , 100 , 1 5 7 , 1 5 8, 1 5 9
s c e , 4 6, 4 7, 48 , 4 9 , 5 0 , 5 1 , 5 2 , 5 3 , 5 4 ,
5 5 , 5 6, 5 7, 5 8 , 5 9 , 60, 61 , 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 ,
66, 67 , 68, 2 10
ur
o o, 16
m
on , l l , 12 , 1 3, 1 4 , 1 5 , 102
e n e es, 275

os sa ,

u to ,

re

en s ,

e s,

r u

LL E ,

s on ,

ar

SAC K I
L d y Ma ga t 19 7
Sa l d 24 4 265
Sam 107 186
S m 160
S ac 2 67 274 2 76 2 77 278
2 80 2 82 2 83 285 286
Sa a g
2 67 2 72
S x 2 33
S a d i avia 2 27 24 5
S c tl d 220 306
S c tt S i r W lt r 26 2 82
S yld S g 2 4 5 2 4 6
S i 221
S l 2 7 2 10
S i ph 106 109 120 12 1
S m a 2 18 223
S g th g 3 1 1
S h k p a 31 124 134 19 2 204
261
Sh
2 90
Sha p Wi lliam 301
S h F i ab 2 89 2 90 29 6 302
Sh ll y 9 104 161
S i i ly 36 100 1 04 1 62 1 63 1 67
188
Sil
136
S i m id 106
S p yl
M
t 12 8
Si
22 6
S i y pl
35
S k W F 307
S ky I l f 3 1 1
S l i p ir 2 36
S c at 1 5 3
Sm
1 4 8 1 4 9 1 50
S pai 267
Spa ta 129
Sp
88
St iv L ch 320
Sty x 19 63 64
S w d 2 33
S w d 2 49
74
Swm b
S ylva d i ti 2 14
S y g J M 30 7
Sy a
100 1 01
S y ia 2 1 6
S y i x 19 7 19 8 1 99 2 00 201 210
a

os ,

282
Ru n cyval e, 2 88

e an

n s,

oen

Pl

o,

R ow lan d
V

on ,

oe

33 9

e n se r ,

en ,

en ,

es,

u rn e ,

es,

e,

c u se ,

r n

TA E N A RUS , 34
e e , 2 66
Tail l e k in , 2 9 5
u s , 1 82
n t u s , 35 , 124

Tai ll f r
Tal
Ta al

A B OO K O F MYTHS

3 40
Te

a m on ,

7 1 , 73
e n n s on , 2 7 , 1 5 4 , 2 1 6
Te rm a ga u n t, 2 67
am e s , 2 2 1
m u s 2 17
e
n , 124
e e s , 1 24 , 1 2 5 , 126
e se u s , 71
es s
1 4 6 14 7, 1 5 2
, 14 4
a c e , 32 33 , 3 8, 3 9
e as , 2 1 6
ta n , 8 , 9 , 3 5
tan s , 2 4 1 1 7, 1 2 4
o eu s, 71
Tra c h i n e , 1 5 0
r ton , 1 00
Tu s sy p e re , 2 88
u
n , 2 66, 2 77, 2 79 , 2 80, 28 2 , 2 83 , 2 84 ,
2 87
Ty m ol u s, 83 , 87
r an , 86

T y
Th
Tha
T h ba
Th b
Th
Th aly
Th r
Ti b r i
Ti
Ti
Tx
Ti
T rpi
,

Ty i

Pal c

UF FIZ Z I
a e 1 24
U ste 307
U ton n s , 30 7 313 320, 329 330 , 3 31

l r
l ia

332 , 333
Ul u ad h , 332
U v , 2 22
Urc h a in , G e n , 32 5
Usn a , on s Of , 30 6, 3 11 , 3 12 , 313, 3 1 5 ,
3 17, 3 18 , 3 1 9 , 3 20, 3 2 1, 32 2, 3 2 4 , 325 ,
32 6 ,
329 , 330, 33 1 , 332 , 33 3

la

Pi

r n te d

by

VA H A A 2 28 267
V l i 2 37
Va dal 231
Vati ca 11
V il l
tif 2 7 6 2 82
V
1 1 2 6 2 02
V r D i 26
V r ill 1 1
V irg il 1 94
V lc a 4
L

s,

n,

an

en u s ,

e non ,

a n a,

es,

e sa

n,

WAGE

2 66
W agm u n d , 2 64
,

l g

Wa pu r i s N i ht 233
We ss e x 24 4
We stm in ster 2 2 1
Whit , 244
Wigl a f 2 63 2 64
Wi iam th e Con q u eror 266
Wi n e d D e sti n Th e 223
Win il e rs 2 31 2 32
Wo Wom an 2 5 8 260 262
,

by

ll
g
lf

A T S W B 307
rk h ir 24 4 2 65
U 3 4 8 9 22

YE
Yo

ZE

S,

2 63

e,

24 , 30, 3 4 , 8 6, 9 5 ,
1 05 , 106, 107, 1 12 , 12 0, 12 3 1 2 4 , 1 66,
1 69 , 170, 1 72 , 2 02 , 2 06
Ze
, 1 29
u s , 5 1 , 5 4, 5 9 , 7 1 , 103
Ze
133,
, 1 31 ,
1 80
,

p h yr
p h yr

LL

u rg

BA ANTYN
b h6

E din

LL

E,

AN N

SO

L on d o n

8 Co