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    Chapter 1

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    Chapter 1
    Chapter I


    The literature of our time, as of all the centuries of
    Christendom, is full of allusions to the gods and goddesses of
    the Greeks and Romans. Occasionally, and, in modern days, more
    often, it contains allusions to the worship and the superstitions
    of the northern nations of Europe. The object of this book is to
    teach readers who are not yet familiar with the writers of Greece
    and Rome, or the ballads or legends of the Scandinavians, enough
    of the stories which form what is called their mythology, to make
    those allusions intelligible which one meets every day, even in
    the authors of our own time.

    The Greeks and Romans both belong to the same race or stock. It
    is generally known in our time as the Aryan family of mankind;
    and so far as we know its history, the Greeks and Romans
    descended from the tribes which emigrated from the high table-
    lands of Northern India. Other tribes emigrated in different
    directions from the same centre, so that traces of the Aryan
    language are found in the islands of the Pacific ocean.

    The people of this race, who moved westward, seem to have had a
    special fondness for open air nature, and a willingness to
    personify the powers of nature. They were glad to live in the
    open air, and they specially encouraged the virtues which an
    open-air people prize. Thus no Roman was thought manly who could
    not swim, and every Greek exercised in the athletic sports of the

    The Romans and Grecian and German divisions of this great race
    are those with which we have most to do in history and in
    literature. Our own English language is made up of the dialects
    of different tribes, many of whom agreed in their use of words
    which they had derived from our Aryan ancestry. Thus our
    substantive verb I AM appears in the original Sanscrit of the
    Aryans as ESMI, and m for ME (MOI), or the first person singular,
    is found in all the verbal inflections. The Greek form of the
    same verb was ESMI, which became ASMI, and in Latin the first
    and last vowels have disappeared, the verb is SUM. Similar
    relationships are traced in the numerals, and throughout all the
    languages of these nations.

    The Romans, like the Etruscans who came before them, were neither
    poetical nor imaginative in temperament. Their activity ran in
    practical directions. They therefore invented few, if any
    stories, of the gods whom they worshipped with fixed rites. Mr.
    Macaulay speaks of these gods as "the sober abstractions of the
    Roman pantheon." We owe most of the stories of the ancient
    mythology to the wit and fancy of the Greeks, more playful and
    imaginative, who seized from Egypt and from the East such
    legends as pleased them, and adapted them in their own way. It
    often happens that such stories, resembling each other in their
    foundation, are found in the Greek and Roman authors in several
    different forms.

    To understand these stories, we will here first acquaint
    ourselves with the ideas of the structure of the universe, which
    the poets and others held, and which will form the scenery, so to
    speak, of the narratives.

    The Greek poets believed the earth to be flat and circular, their
    own country occupying the middle of it, the central point being
    either Mount Olympus, the abode of the gods, or Delphi, so famous
    for its oracle.

    The circular disk of the earth was crossed from west to east, and
    divided into two equal parts by the SEA, as they called the
    Mediterranean, and its continuation the Euxine.

    Around the earth flowed the RIVER OCEAN, its course being from
    south to north on the western side of the earth, and in a
    contrary direction on the eastern side. It flowed in a steady,
    equable current, unvexed by storm or tempest. The sea, and all
    the rivers on earth, received their waters from it.

    The northern portion of the earth was supposed to be inhabited by
    a happy race named the Hyperboreans [this word means "who live
    beyond the north" from the word "hyper," beyond, and boreas, the
    north wind], dwelling in everlasting bliss and spring beyond the
    lofty mountains whose caverns were supposed to send forth the
    piercing blasts of the north wind, which chilled the people of
    Hellas (Greece). Their country was inaccessible by land or sea.
    They lived exempt from disease or old age, from toils and
    warfare. Moore has given us the "Song of a Hyperborean,"

    "I come from a land in the sun-bright deep,
    Where golden gardens glow,
    Where the winds of the north, becalmed in sleep,
    Their conch-shells never blow."

    On the south side of the earth, close to the stream of Ocean,
    dwelt a people happy and virtuous as the Hyperboreans. They were
    named the AEthiopians. The gods favored them so highly that they
    were wont to leave at times their Olympian abodes, and go to
    share their sacrifices and banquets.

    On the western margin of the earth, by the stream of Ocean, lay a
    happy place named the Elysian Plain, whither mortals favored by
    the gods were transported without tasting of death, to enjoy an
    immortality of bliss. This happy region was also called the
    "fortunate fields," and the "Isles of the Blessed."

    We thus see that the Greeks of the early ages knew little of any
    real people except those to the east and south of their own
    country, or near the coast of the Mediterranean. Their
    imagination meantime peopled the western portion of this sea with
    giants, monsters, and enchantresses; while they placed around the
    disk of the earth, which they probably regarded as of no great
    width, nations enjoying the peculiar favor of the gods, and
    blessed with happiness and longevity.

    The Dawn, the Sun, and the Moon were supposed to rise out of the
    Ocean, on the western side, and to drive through the air, giving
    light to gods and men. The stars also, except those forming
    Charles' Wain or Bear, and others near them, rose out of and sank
    into the stream of Ocean. There the sun-god embarked in a winged
    boat, which conveyed him round by the northern part of the earth,
    back to his place of rising in the east. Milton alludes to this
    in his "Commmus."

    "Now the gilded car of day
    His golden axle doth allay
    In the steep Atlantic stream,
    And the slope sun his upward beam
    Shoots against the dusky pole,
    Pacing towards the other goal
    Of his chamber in the east."

    The abode of the gods was on the summit of Mount Olympus, in
    Thessaly. A gate of clouds, kept by the goddesses named the
    Seasons, opened to permit the passage of the Celestials to earth,
    and to receive them on their return. The gods had their separate
    dwellings; but all, when summoned, repaired to the palace of
    Jupiter [Or Zeus. The relation of these names to each other will
    be explained on the next page], as did also those deities whose
    usual abode was the earth, the waters, or the underworld. It was
    also in the great hall of the palace of the Olympian king that
    the gods feasted each day on ambrosia and nectar, their food and
    drink, the latter being handed round by the lovely goddess Hebe.
    Here they conversed of the affairs of heaven and earth; and as
    they quaffed their nectar, Apollo, the god of music, delighted
    them with the tones of his lyre, to which the muses sang in
    responsive strains. When the sun was set, the gods retired to
    sleep in their respective dwellings.

    The following lines from the Odyssey will show how Homer
    conceived of Olympus:--

    "So saying, Minerva, goddess azure-eyed,
    Rose to Olympus, the reputed seat
    Eternal of the gods, which never storms
    Disturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calm
    The expanse and cloudless shines with purest day.
    There the inhabitants divine rejoice
    Forever.:" Cowper

    Such were the abodes of the gods as the Greeks conceived them.
    The Romans, before they knew the Greek poetry, seem to have had
    no definite imagination of such an assembly of gods. But the
    Roman and Etruscan races were by no means irreligious. They
    venerated their departed ancestors, and in each family the
    worship of these ancestors was an important duty. The images of
    the ancestors were kept in a sacred place, each family
    observed, at fixed times, memorial rites in their honor, and
    for these and other religious observances the family hearth was
    consecrated. The earliest rites of Roman worship are supposed to
    be connected with such family devotions.

    As the Greeks and Romans became acquainted with other nations,
    they imported their habits of worship, even in early times. It
    will be remembered that as late as St. Paul's time, he found an
    altar at Athens "to an unknown god." Greeks and Romans alike
    were willing to receive from other nations the legends regarding
    their gods, and to incorporate them as well as they could with
    their own. It is thus that in the poetical mythology of those
    nations, which we are now to study, we frequently find a Latin
    and a Greek name for one imagined divinity. Thus Zeus, of the
    Greeks, becomes in Latin with the addition of the word pater (a
    father) [The reader will observe that father is one of the words
    derived from an Ayan root. Let p and t become rough, as the
    grammarians say, let p become ph, and t th, and you have
    phather or father], Jupiter Kronos of the Greeks appears as
    "Vulcanus" of the Latins, "Ares" of the Greeks is "Mars" or
    Mavors of the Latins, "Poseidon" of the Greeks is "Neptunus" of
    the Latins, "Aphrodite" of the Greeks is "Venus" of the Latins.
    This variation is not to be confounded with a mere translation,
    as where "Paulos" of the Greek becomes "Paulus" in Latin, or
    "Odysseus" becomes "Ulysses," or as when "Pierre" of the French
    becomes "Peter" in English. What really happened was, that as
    the Romans, more cultivated than their fathers, found in Greek
    literature a god of fire and smithery, they transferred his
    name "Hephaistos" to their own old god "Vulcanus," who had the
    same duties, and in their after literature the Latin name was
    used for the stories of Greek and Latin origin.

    As the English literature came into being largely on French and
    Latin models, and as French is but a degraded Latin and retains
    Latin roots largely, in our older English poets the Latin forms
    of these names are generally used. In our own generation, with
    the precision now so much courted, a fashion has come in, of
    designating Mars by his Greek name of "Ares," Venus by her name
    of "Aphrodite," and so on. But in this book, as our object is to
    make familiar the stores of general English literature which
    refer to such subjects, we shall retain, in general, the Latin
    names, only calling the attention of the reader to the Greek
    names, as they appear in Greek authors, and in many writers of
    the more recent English schools.

    The real monarch of the heavens in the mythology of both Greece
    and Rome is Jupiter (Zeus-pater, father-Jove) [Jove appears to be
    a word derived from the same root as Zeus, and it appears in the
    root dev of the Sanscrit, where devas are gods of different
    forms. Our English word devil probably comes from the French
    diable, Italian diavolo, Latin diabolus, one who makes division,-
    - literally one who separates balls, or throws balls about,--
    instead of throwing them frankly and truly at the batsman. It is
    not to be traced to the Sanscrit deva.]

    In the mythological system we are tracing Zeus is himself the
    father of many of the gods, and he is often spoken of as father
    of gods and men. He is the father of Vulcan [In Greek
    Hephaistos], of Venus [in Greek Aphrodite], of Minerva [in Greek
    Pallas Athene, or either name separately], of Apollo [of
    Phoebus], Diana [in Greek Artemis], and of Mercury [in Greek
    Hermes], who are ranked among the twelve superior gods, and of
    many inferior deities. But Jupiter himself is not the original
    deity in these systems. He is the son of Saturnus, as in the
    Greek Zeus is the son of Kronos. Still the inevitable question
    would occur where did Saturnus or Kronos come from. And, in
    forms and statements more and more vague, the answer was that he
    was born from Uranus or Ouranos, which is the name of the Heaven
    over all which seemed to embrace all things. The Greek name of
    Saturn was spelled Kronos. The Greek name of Time was spelled
    Chronos. A similarity between the two was imagined. And the
    whole statement, when reduced to rationalistic language, would be
    that from Uranus, the infinite, was born Chronos, Time,-- that
    from Time, Zeus or Jupiter was born, and that he is the only
    child of Time who has complete sway over mortals and immortals.

    "The will of Jove I own,
    Who mortals and immortals rules alone."
    Homer, II.xii

    Jupiter was son of Saturn (Kronos) [The names included in
    parentheses are the Greek, the others being the Roman or Latin
    names] and Ops (Rhea in Greek, sometimes confounded with the
    Phrygian Cybele).

    Saturn and Rhea were of the race of Titans, who were the children
    of Earth and Heaven, which sprang from Chaos, of which we shall
    give a further account in our next chapter.

    In allusion to the dethronement of Ouranos by Kronos, and of
    Kronos or Saturnus by Zeus or Jupiter, Prometheus says in
    AEschylus's tragedy,--

    "You may deem
    Its towers impregnable; but have I not
    already seen two monarchs hurled from them."

    Thee is another cosmogony, or account of the creation, according
    to which Earth, Erebus, and Love were the first of beings. Love
    (Eros)_ issued from the egg of Night, which floated on Chaos. By
    his arrows and torch he pierced and vivified all things,
    producing life and joy.

    Saturn and Rhea were not the only Titans. There were others,
    whose names were Oceanus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Ophion, males;
    and Themis, Mnemosyne, Eurynome, females. They are spoken of as
    the elder gods, whose dominion was afterwards transferred to
    others. Saturn yielded to Jupiter, Oceanus to Neptune, Hyperion
    to Apollo. Hyperion was the father of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn.
    He is therefore the original sun-god, and is painted with the
    splendor and beauty which were afterwards bestowed on Apollo.

    "Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself." Shakespeare

    Ophion and Eurynome ruled over Olympus till they were dethroned
    by Saturn and Rhea. Milton alludes to them in Paradise Lost. He
    says the heathen seem to have had some knowledge of the
    temptation and fall of man,--

    "And fabled how the serpent, whom they called
    Ophion, with Eurynome (the wide-
    Encroaching Eve perhaps), had first the rule
    Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven."

    The representations given of Saturn are not very consistent, for
    on the one hand his reign is said to have been the golden age of
    innocence and purity, and on the other he is described as a
    monster who devoured his own children [This inconsistency arises
    from considering the Saturn of the Romans the same with the
    Grecian deity Chronos (Time), which, as it brings an end to all
    things which have had a beginning, may be said to devour its own
    offspring.] Jupiter, however, escaped this fate, and when grown
    up espoused Metis (Prudence), who administered a draught to
    Saturn which caused him to disgorge his children. Jupiter, with
    his brothers and sisters, now rebelled against their father
    Saturn, and his brothers the Titans; vanquished them, and
    imprisoned some of them in Tartarus, inflicting other penalties
    on others. Atlas was condemned to bear up the heavens on his

    On the dethronement of Saturn, Jupiter with his brothers Neptune
    (Poseidon) and Pluto (Dis) divided his dominions. Jupiter's
    portion was the heavens, Neptune's the ocean, and Pluto's the
    realms of the dead. Earth and Olympus were common property.
    Jupiter was king of gods and men. The thunder was his weapon,
    and he bore a shield called AEgis, made for him by Vulcan. The
    eagle was his favorite bird, and bore his thunderbolts.

    Juno (Hera)[pronounce He-re, in two syllables] was the wife of
    Jupiter, and queen of the gods. Iris, the goddess of the
    rainbow, was her attendant and messenger. The peacock was her
    favorite bird.

    Vulcan (Hephaistos), the celestial artist, was the son of Jupiter
    and Juno. He was born lame, and his mother was so displeased at
    the sight of him that she flung him out of heaven. Other
    accounts say that Jupiter kicked him out for taking part with his
    mother, in a quarrel which occurred between them. Vulcan's
    lameness, according to this account, was the consequence of his
    fall. He was a whole day falling, and at last alighted in the
    island of Lemnos, which was thenceforth sacred to him. Milton
    alludes to this story in Paradise lost, Book I.

    "From morn
    To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
    A summer's day; and with the setting sun
    Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star,
    On Lemnos, the AEgean isle."

    Mars (Ares), the god of war, was the son of Jupiter and Juno.
    Phoebus Apollo [this is a Greek name of a Greek divinity, who
    seems to have had no Roman resemblance], the god of archery,
    prophecy, and music, was the son of Jupiter and Latona, and
    brother of Diana (Artemis). He was god of the sun, as Diana, his
    sister, was the goddess of the moon.

    Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love and beauty, was the
    daughter of Jupiter and Dione. Others say that Venus sprang from
    the foam of the sea. The zephyr wafted her along the waves to
    the Isle of Cyprus, where she was received and attired by the
    Seasons, and then led to the assembly of the gods. All were
    charmed with her beauty, and each one demanded her for his wife.
    Jupiter gave her to Vulcan, in gratitude for the service he had
    rendered in forging thunderbolts. So the most beautiful of the
    goddesses became the wife of the most ill-favored of the gods.
    Venus possessed an embroidered girdle called the Cestus, which
    had the power of inspiring love. Her favorite birds were swans
    and doves, and the plants sacred to her were the rose and the

    Cupid (Eros), the god of love, was the son of Venus. He was her
    constant companion; and, armed with bow and arrows, he shot the
    darts of desire into the bosoms of both gods and men. There was
    a deity named Anteros, who was sometimes represented as the
    avenger of slighted love, and sometimes as the symbol of
    reciprocal affection. The following legend is told of him:--

    Venus, complaining to Themis that her son Eros continued always a
    child, was told by her that it was because he was solitary, and
    that if he had a brother he would grow apace. Anteros was soon
    afterwards born, and Eros immediately was seen to increase
    rapidly in size and strength.

    Minerva (Pallas Athene), the goddess of wisdom, was the offspring
    of Jupiter, without a mother. She sprang from his head,
    completely armed. Her favorite bird was the owl, and the plant
    sacred to her the olive.

    Byron, in "Childe Harold," alludes to the birth of Minerva thus:-

    "Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,
    And freedom find no champion and no child,
    Such as Columbia saw arise, when she
    Sprang forth a Pallas, armed and undefiled?
    Or must such minds be nourished in the wild,
    Deep in the unpruned forest, 'midst the roar
    Of Cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
    On infant Washington? Has earth no more
    Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?"

    Mercury (Hermes), was the son of Jupiter and Maia. He presided
    over commerce, wrestling and other gymnastic exercises; even over
    thieving, and everything, in short, which required skill and
    dexterity. He was the messenger of Jupiter, and wore a winged
    cap and winged shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with
    two serpents, called the Caduceus.

    Mercury is said to have invented the lyre. Four hours after his
    birth he found the shell of a tortoise, made holes in the
    opposite edges of it, and drew cords of linen through them, and
    the instrument was complete [From this origin of the instrument,
    the word "shell" is often used as synonymous with :"lyre," and
    figuratively for music and poetry. Thus Gray, in his ode on the
    "Progress of Poesy," says,-- "O Sovereign of the willing soul,
    Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs, Enchanting shell! The
    sullen Cares And Frantic Passions hear thy soft control."] The
    cords were nine, in honor of the nine Muses. Mercury gave the
    lyre to Apollo, and received from him in exchange the caduceus.

    Ceres (Demeter) was the daughter of Saturn and Rhea. She had a
    daughter named Proserpine (Persephone), who became the wife of
    Pluto, and queen of the realms of the dead. Ceres presided over

    Bacchus (Dionysus)_, the god of wine, was the son of Jupiter and
    Semele. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine,
    but its social and beneficent influences likewise; so that he is
    viewed as the promoter of civilization, and a lawgiver and lover
    of peace.

    The muses were the daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne (Memory).
    They presided over song, and prompted the memory. They were nine
    in number, to each of whom was assigned the presidency over some
    particular department of literature, art, or science. Calliope
    was the muse of epic poetry, Clio of history, Euterpe of lyric
    poetry, Melpomene of tragedy, Terpischore of choral dance and
    song, Erato of love-poetry, Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, Urania
    of astronomy, Thalia [Pronounced Tha-lei-a, with the emphasis on
    the second syllable] of comedy.

    Spenser described the office of the Graces thus:--

    "These three on men all gracious gifts bestow
    Which deck the body or adorn the mind,
    To make them lovely or well-favored show;
    As comely carriage, entertainment kind,
    Sweet semblance, friendly offices that bind,
    And all the compliments of courtesy;
    They teach us how to each degree and kind
    We should ourselves demean, to low, to high.
    To friends, to foes; which skill men call Civility."

    The Fates were also three Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Their
    office was to spin the thread of human destiny, and they were
    armed with shears, with which they cut it off when they pleased.
    They were the daughters of Themis (Law), who sits by Jove on his
    throne to give him counsel.

    The Erinnyes, or Furies, were three goddesses who punished crimes
    by their secret stings. The heads of the Furies were wreathed
    with serpents, and their whole appearance was terrific and
    appalling. Their names were Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera.
    They were also called Eumenides.

    Nemesis was also an avenging goddess. She represents the
    righteous anger of the gods, particularly towards the proud and

    Pan [the name Pan means everything, and he is sometimes spoken of
    as the god of all nature] was the god of flocks and shepherds.
    His favorite residence, as the Greeks describe him, was in

    The Satyrs were deities of the woods and fields. They were
    conceived to be covered with bristly hair, their heads decorated
    with short, sprouting horns, and their feet like goats' feet.

    Momus was the god of laughter, and Plutus the god of wealth.


    The preceding are Grecian divinities, though received also by the
    Romans. Those which follow are peculiar to Roman mythology.

    Saturn was an ancient Italian deity. The Roman poets tried to
    identify him with the Grecian god Kronos, and fabled that after
    his dethronement by Jupiter, he fled to Italy, where he reigned
    during what was called the Golden Age. In memory of his
    beneficent dominion, the feast of Saturnalia was held every year
    in the winter season. Then all public business was suspended,
    declarations of war and criminal executions were postponed,
    friends made presents to one another, and the slaves were
    indulged with great liberties. A feast was given them at which
    they sat at table, while their masters served them, to show the
    natural equality of men, and that all things belonged equally to
    all, in the reign of Saturn.

    Faunus [there was also a goddess called Fauna, or Bona Dea], the
    grandson of Saturn, was worshipped as the god of fields and
    shepherds, and also as a prophetic god. His name in the plural,
    Fauns, expressed a class of gamesome deities, like the Satyrs of
    the Greeks.

    Quirinus was a war god, said to be no other than Romulus the
    founder of Rome, exalted after his death to a place among the

    Bellona, a war goddess.

    Terminus, the god of landmarks. His statue was a rude stone or
    post, set in the ground to mark the boundaries of fields.

    Pales, the goddess presiding over cattle and pastures.

    Pomona presided over fruit trees.

    Flora, the goddess of flowers.

    Lucina, the goddess of childbirth.

    Vesta (the Hestia of the Greeks) was a deity presiding over the
    public and private hearth. A sacred fire, tended by six virgin
    priestesses called Vestals, flamed in her temple. As the safety
    of the city was held to be connected with its conservation, the
    neglect of the virgins, if they let it go out, was severely
    punished, and the fire was rekindled from the rays of the sun.

    Liber is another Latin name of Bacchus; and Mulciber of Vulcan.

    Janus was the porter of heaven. He opens the year, the first
    month being named after him. He is the guardian deity of gates,
    on which account he is commonly represented with two heads,
    because every door looks two ways. His temples at Rome were
    numerous. In war time the gates of the principal one were always
    open. In peace they were closed; but they were shut only once
    between the reign of Numa and that of Augustus.

    The Penates were the gods who were supposed to attend to the
    welfare and prosperity of the family. Their name is derived from
    Penus, the pantry, which was sacred to them. Every master of a
    family was the priest to the Penates of his own house.

    The Lares, or Lars, were also household gods, but differed from
    the Penates in being regarded as the deified spirits of mortals.
    The family Lars were held to be the souls of the ancestors, who
    watched over and protected their descendants. The words Lemur
    and Larva more nearly correspond to our word Ghost.

    The Romans believed that every man had his Genius, and every
    woman her Juno; that is, a spirit who had given them being, and
    was regarded as a protector through life. On birthdays men made
    offerings to their Genius, women to their Juno.

    Macaulay thus alludes to some of the Roman gods:--

    "Pomona loves the orchard,
    And Liber loves the vine,
    And Pales loves the straw-built shed
    Warm with the breath of kine;
    And Venus loves the whisper
    Of plighted youth and maid
    In April's ivory moonlight,
    Beneath the Chestnut shade."
    "Prophecy of Capys."

    N.B. It is to be observed that in proper names the final e and
    es are to be sounded. Thus Cybele and Penates are words of three
    syllables. But Proserpine and Thebes have been so long used as
    English words, that they may be regarded as exceptions, to be
    pronounced as if English. Hecate is sometimes pronounced by the
    poets as a dissylable. In the Index at the close of the volume,
    we shall mark the accented syllable, in all words which appear to
    require it.

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