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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 11
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    Chapter XI
    The Golden Fleece. Medea. The Calydonian Hunt

    In very ancient times there lived in Thessaly a king and queen
    named Athamas and Nephele. They had two children, a boy and a
    girl. After a time Athamas grew indifferent to his wife, put her
    away, and took another. Nephele suspected danger to her children
    from the influence of the step-mother, and took measures to send
    them out of her reach. Mercury assisted her, and gave her a ram,
    with a GOLDEN FLEECE, on which she set the two children, trusting
    that the ram would convey them to a place of safety. The ram
    sprung into the air with the children on his back, taking his
    course to the east, till when crossing the strait that divides
    Europe and Asia, the girl, whose name was Helle, fell from his
    back into the sea, which from her was called the Hellespont,
    now the Dardanelles. The ram continued his career till he
    reached the kingdom of Colchis, on the eastern shore of the Black
    Sea, where he safely landed the boy Phyrxus, who was hospitably
    received by AEetes, the king of the country. Phryxus sacrificed
    the ram to Jupiter, and gave the golden fleece to AEetes, who
    placed it in a consecrated grove, under the care of a sleepless
    dragon.

    There was another kingdom in Thessaly near to that of Athamas,
    and ruled over by a relative of his. The king AEson, being tired
    of the cares of government, surrendered his crown to his brother
    Pelias, on condition that he should hold it only during the
    minority of Jason, the son of AEson. When Jason was grown up and
    came to demand the crown from his uncle, Pelias pretended to be
    willing to yield it, but at the same time suggested to the young
    man the glorious adventure of going in quest of the golden
    fleece, which it was well known was in the kingdom of Colchis,
    and was, as Pelias pretended, the rightful property of their
    family. Jason was pleased with the thought, and forthwith made
    preparations for the expedition. At that time the only species
    of navigation known to the Greeks consisted of small boats or
    canoes hollowed out from trunks of trees, so that when Jason
    employed Argus to build him a vessel capable of containing fifty
    men, it was considered a gigantic undertaking. It was
    accomplished, however, and the vessel was named the Argo, from
    the name of the builder. Jason sent his invitation to all the
    adventurous young men of Greece, and soon found himself at the
    head of a band of bold youths, many of whom afterwards were
    renowned among the heroes and demigods of Greece. Hercules,
    Theseus, Orpheus, and Nestor were among them. They are called
    the Argonauts, from the name of their vessel.

    The Argo with her crew of heroes left the shores of Thessaly and
    having touched at the Island of Lemnos, thence crossed to Mysia
    and thence to Thrace. Here they found the sage Phineus, and from
    him received instruction as to their future course. It seems the
    entrance of the Euxine Sea was impeded by two small rocky
    islands, which floated on the surface, and in their tossings and
    heavings occasionally came together, crushing and grinding to
    atoms any object that might be caught between them. They were
    called the Symplegades, or Clashing Islands. Phineus instructed
    the Argonauts how to pass this dangerous strait. When they
    reached the islands they let go a dove, which took her way
    between the rocks, and passed in safety, only losing some
    feathers of her tail. Jason and his men seized the favorable
    moment of the rebound, plied their oars with vigor, and passed
    safe through, though the islands closed behind them, and actually
    grazed their stern. They now rowed along the shore till they
    arrived at the eastern end of the sea, and landed at the kingdom
    of Colchis.

    Jason made known his message to the Colchian king, AEetes, who
    consented to give up the golden fleece if Jason would yoke to the
    plough two fire-breathing bulls with brazen feet, and sow the
    teeth of the dragon, which Cadmus had slain, and from which it
    was well known that a crop of armed men would spring up, who
    would turn their weapons against their producer. Jason accepted
    the conditions, and a time was set for making the experiment.
    Previously, however, he found means to plead his cause to Medea,
    daughter of the king. He promised her marriage, and as they
    stood before the altar of Hecate, called the goddess to witness
    his oath. Medea yielded and by her aid, for she was a potent
    sorceress, he was furnished with a charm, by which he could
    encounter safely the breath of the fire-breathing bulls and the
    weapons of the armed men.

    At the time appointed, the people assembled at the grove of Mars,
    and the king assumed his royal seat, while the multitude covered
    the hill-sides. The brazen-footed bulls rushed in, breathing
    fire from their nostrils, that burned up the herbage as they
    passed. The sound was like the roar of a furnace, and the smoke
    like that of water upon quick-lime. Jason advanced boldly to
    meet them. His friends, the chosen heroes of Greece, trembled to
    behold him. Regardless of the burning breath, he soothed their
    rage with his voice, patted their necks with fearless hands, and
    adroitly slipped over them the yoke, and compelled them to drag
    the plough. The Colchians were amazed; the Greeks shouted for
    joy. Jason next proceeded to sow the dragon's teeth and plough
    them in. And soon the crop of armed men sprang up, and wonderful
    to relate! no sooner had they reached the surface than they began
    to brandish their weapons and rush upon Jason. The Greeks
    trembled for their hero, and even she who had provided him a way
    of safety and taught him how to use it, Medea herself, grew pale
    with fear. Jason for a time kept his assailants at bay with his
    sword and shield, till finding their numbers overwhelming, he
    resorted to the charm which Medea had taught him, seized a stone
    and threw it in the midst of his foes. They immediately turned
    their arms against one another, and soon there was not one of the
    dragon's brood left alive. The Greeks embraced their hero, and
    Medea, if she dared, would have embraced him too.

    Then AEetes promised the next day to give them the fleece, and
    the Greeks went joyfully down to the Argo with the hero Jason in
    their midst. But that night Medea came down to Jason, and bade
    him make haste and follow her, for that her father proposed the
    next morning to attack the Argonauts and to destroy their ship.
    They went together to the grove of Mars, where the golden fleece
    hung guarded by the dreadful dragon, who glared at the hero and
    his conductor with his great round eyes that never slept. But
    Medea was prepared, and began her magic songs and spells, and
    sprinkled over him a sleeping potion which she had prepared by
    her art. At the smell he relaxed his rage, stood for a moment
    motionless, then shut those great round eyes, that had never been
    known to shut before, and turned over on his side, fast asleep.
    Jason seized the fleece, and with his friends and Medea
    accompanying, hastened to their vessel, before AEETES, the king,
    could arrest their departure, and made the best of their way back
    to Thessaly, where they arrived safe, and Jason delivered the
    fleece to Pelias, and dedicated the Argo to Neptune. What became
    of the fleece afterwards we do not know, but perhaps it was
    found, after all, like many other golden prizes, not worth the
    trouble it had cost to procure it.

    This is one of those mythological tales, says a modern writer, in
    which there is reason to believe that a substratum of truth
    exists, though overlaid by a mass of fiction. It probably was
    the first important maritime expedition, and like the first
    attempts of the kind of all nations, as we know from history, was
    probably of a half-piratical character. If rich spoils were the
    result, it was enough to give rise to the idea of the golden
    fleece.

    Another suggestion of a learned mythologist, Bryant, is that it
    is a corrupt tradition of the story of Noah and the ark. The
    name Argo seems to countenance this, and the incident of the dove
    is another confirmation.

    Pope, in his Ode on St. Cecelia's Day, thus celebrates the
    launching of the ship Argo, and the power of the music of
    Orpheus, whom he calls the Thracian:

    "So when the first bold vessel dared the seas,
    High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain,
    While Argo saw her kindred trees
    Descend from Pelion to the main.
    Transported demigods stood round,
    And men grew heroes at the sound."

    In Dyer's poem of The Fleece there is an account of the ship Argo
    and her crew, which gives a good picture of this primitive
    maritime adventure:

    "From every region of Aegea's shore
    The brave assembled; those illustrious twins,
    Castor and Pollux; Orpheus, tuneful bard;
    Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed;
    Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned.
    On deep Iolcos' sandy shore they thronged,
    Gleaming in armor, ardent of exploits;
    And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone
    Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark;
    Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand
    Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt;
    And in the extended keel a lofty mast
    Upraised, and sails full swelling; to the chiefs
    Unwonted objects. Now first, now they learned
    Their bolder steerage over ocean wave,
    Led by the golden stars, as Chiron's art
    Had marked the sphere celestial."

    Hercules left the expedition at Mysia, for Hylas, a youth beloved
    by him, having gone for water, was laid hold of and kept by the
    nymphs of the spring, who were fascinated by his beauty.
    Hercules went in quest of the lad, and while he was absent the
    Argo put to sea and left him. Moore, in one of his songs, makes
    a beautiful allusion to this incident:

    "When Hylas was sent with his urn to the fount,
    Through fields full of light and with heart full of play,
    Light rambled the boy over meadow and mount,
    And neglected his task for the flowers in the way.

    "Thus many like me, who in youth should have tasted
    The fountain that runs by Philosophy's shrine,
    Their time with the flowers on the margin have wasted,
    And left their light urns all as empty as mine."

    But Hercules, as some say, went onward to Colchis by land, and
    there performed many mighty deeds, and wiped away the stain of
    cowardice which might have clung to him.

    MEDEA AND AESON

    Amid the rejoicings for the recovery of the golden Fleece, Jason
    felt that one thing was wanting, the presence of AESON, his
    father, who was prevented by his age and infirmities from taking
    part in them. Jason said to Medea, "My wife, I would that your
    arts, whose power I have seen so mighty for my aid, could do me
    one further service, and take some years from my life to add them
    to my father's." Medea replied, "Not at such a cost shall it be
    done, but if my art avails me, his life shall be lengthened
    without abridging yours." The next full moon she issued forth
    alone, while all creatures slept; not a breath stirred the
    foliage, and all was still. To the stars she addressed her
    incantations, and to the moon; to Hecate (Hecate was a mysterious
    divinity sometimes identified with Diana and sometimes with
    Proserpine. As Diana represents the moonlight splendor of night,
    so Hecate represents its darkness and terrors. She was the
    goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, and was believed to wander by
    night along the earth, seen only by the dogs whose barking told
    her approach.), the goddess of the underworld, and to Tellus, the
    goddess of the earth, by whose power plants potent for
    enchantments are produced. She invoked the gods of the woods and
    caverns, of mountains and valleys, of lakes and rivers, of winds
    and vapors. While she spoke the stars shone brighter, and
    presently a chariot descended through the air, drawn by flying
    serpents. She ascended it, and, borne aloft, made her way to
    distant regions, where potent plants grew which she knew how to
    select for her purpose. Nine nights she employed in her search,
    and during that time came not within the doors of her palace nor
    under any roof, and shunned all intercourse with mortals.

    She next erected two altars, the one to Hecate, the other to
    Hebe, the goddess of youth, and sacrificed a black sheep, pouring
    libations of milk and wine. She implored Pluto and his stolen
    bride that they would not hasten to take the old man's life.
    Then she directed that AESON should be led forth, and having
    thrown him into a deep sleep by a charm, had him laid on a bed of
    herbs, like one dead. Jason and all others were kept away from
    the place, that no profane eyes might look upon her mysteries.
    Then, with streaming hair, she thrice moved round the altars,
    dipped flaming twigs in the blood, and laid them thereon to burn.
    Meanwhile the caldron with its contents was got ready. In it she
    put magic herbs, with seeds and flowers of acrid juice, stones
    from the distant East, and sand from the shore of all-surrounding
    ocean; hoar frost, gathered by moonlight, a screech-owl's head
    and wings, and the entrails of a wolf. She added fragments of
    the shells of tortoises, and the liver of stags, animals
    tenacious of life, and the head and beak of a crow, that
    outlives nine generations of men. These, with many other things
    without a name, she boiled together for her purposed work,
    stirring them up with a dry olive branch; and behold, the branch
    when taken out instantly became green, and before long was
    covered with leaves and a plentiful growth of young olives; and
    as the liquor boiled and bubbled, and sometimes ran over, the
    grass, wherever the sprinklings fell, shot forth with a verdure
    like that of spring.

    Seeing that all was ready, Medea cut the throat of the old man
    and let out all his blood, and poured into his mouth and into his
    wound the juices of her caldron. As soon as he had completely
    imbibed them, his hair and beard laid by their whiteness and
    assumed the blackness of youth; his paleness and emaciation were
    gone; his veins were full of blood, his limbs of vigor and
    robustness. AESON is amazed at himself, and remembers that such
    as he now is he was in his youthful days, forty years before.

    Medea used her arts here for a good purpose, but not so in
    another instance, where she made them the instruments of revenge.
    Pelias, our readers will recollect, was the usurping uncle of
    Jason, and had kept him out of his kingdom. Yet he must have had
    some good qualities, for his daughters loved him, and when they
    saw what Medea had done for AESON, they wished her to do the same
    for their father. Medea pretended to consent, and prepared her
    caldron as before. At her request an old sheep was brought and
    plunged into the caldron. Very soon a bleating was heard in the
    kettle, and, when the cover was removed, a lamb jumped forth and
    ran frisking away into the meadow. The daughters of Pelias saw
    the experiment with delight, and appointed a time for their
    father to undergo the same operation. But Medea prepared her
    caldron for him in a very different way. She put in only water
    and a few simple herbs. In the night she with the sisters
    entered the bed-chamber of the old king, while he and his guards
    slept soundly under the influence of a spell cast upon them by
    Medea. The daughters stood by the bedside with their weapons
    drawn, but hesitated to strike, till Medea chid their
    irresolution. Then, turning away their faces and giving random
    blows, they smote him with their weapons. He, starting from his
    sleep, cried out, "My daughters, what are you doing? Will you
    kill your father?:" Their hearts failed them, and the weapons
    fell from their hands, but Medea struck him a fatal blow, and
    prevented his saying more.

    Then they placed him in the caldron, and Medea hastened to depart
    in her serpent-drawn chariot before they discovered her
    treachery, for their vengeance would have been terrible. She
    escaped, however, but had little enjoyment of the fruits of her
    crime. Jason, for whom she had done so much, wishing to marry
    Creusa, princess of Corinth, put away Medea. She, enraged at his
    ingratitude, called on the gods for vengeance, sent a poisoned
    robe as a gift to the bride, and then killing her own children,
    and setting fire to the palace, mounted her serpent-drawn chariot
    and fled to Athens, where she married King AEgeus, the father of
    Theseus; and we shall meet her again when we come to the
    adventures of that hero.

    The incantations of Medea will remind the reader of those of the
    witches in Macbeth. The following lines are those which seem
    most strikingly to recall the ancient model:

    "Round about the caldron go;
    In the poisoned entrails throw.
    * * * * * *
    Fillet of a fenny snake
    In the caldron boil and bake;
    Eye of newt and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat and tongue of dog.
    Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg and howlet's wing:
    * * * * *
    Maw of ravening salt-sea shark,
    Root of hemlock digged in the dark."
    Macbeth, Act IV., Scene 1

    And again:

    Macbeth. What is't you do?
    Witches. A deed without a name.

    There is another story of Medea almost too revolting for record
    even of a sorceress, a class of persons to whom both ancient and
    modern poets have been accustomed to attribute every degree of
    atrocity. In her flight from Colchis she had taken her young
    brother Absyrtus with her. Finding the pursuing vessels of
    AEETES gaining upon the Argonauts, she caused the lad to be
    killed and his limbs to be strewn over the sea. AEETES on
    reaching the place found these sorrowful traces of his murdered
    son; but while he tarried to collect the scattered fragments and
    bestow upon them an honorable interment, the Argonauts escaped.

    In the poems of Campbell will be found a translation of one of
    the choruses of the tragedy of Medea, where the poet Euripides
    has taken advantage of the occasion to pay a glowing tribute to
    Athens, his native city. It begins thus:

    "Oh, haggard queen! To Athens dost thou guide
    Thy glowing chariot, steeped in kindred gore;
    Or seek to hide thy damned parricide
    Where Peace and Justice dwell for evermore?"

    THE CALYDONIAN HUNT. MELEAGER AND ATALANTA

    The search for the Golden Fleece was undertaken by Jason, aided
    by heroes from all Greece, or Hellas as it was then called. It
    was the first of their common undertakings which made the Greeks
    feel that they were in truth one nation, though split up into
    many small kingdoms. Another of their great gatherings was for
    the Calydonian Hunt, and another, the greatest and most famous of
    all, for the Trojan War.

    The hero of the quest for the golden Fleece was Jason. With the
    other heroes of the Greeks, he was present at the Calydonian
    Hunt. But the chief hero was Meleager, the son of OEneus, king
    of Calydon, and Althea, his queen.

    Althea, when her son was born, beheld the three Destinies, who,
    as they spun their fatal thread, foretold that the life of the
    child should last no longer than a brand then burning upon the
    hearth. Althea seized and quenched the brand, and carefully
    preserved it for years, while Meleager grew to boyhood, youth,
    and manhood. It chanced, then, that OEneus, as he offered
    sacrifices to the gods, omitted to pay due honors to Diana, and
    she, indignant at the neglect, sent a wild boar of enormous size
    to lay waste the files of Calydon. Its eyes shone with blood and
    fire, its bristles stood like threatening spears, its tusks were
    like those of Indian elephants. The growing corn was trampled,
    the vines and olive trees laid waste, the flocks and herds were
    driven in wild confusion by the slaughtering foe. All common aid
    seemed vain; but Meleager called on the heroes of Greece to join
    in a bold hunt for the ravenous monster. Theseus and his friend
    Pirithous, Jason, Peleus afterwards the father of Achilles,
    Telamon the father of Ajax, Nestor, then a youth, but who in his
    age bore arms with Achilles and Ajax in the Trojan war, these
    and many more joined in the enterprise. With them came Atalanta,
    the daughter of Iasius, king of Arcadia. A buckle of polished
    gold confined her vest, an ivory quiver hung on her left
    shoulder, and her left hand bore the bow. Her face blent
    feminine beauty with the best graces of martial youth. Meleager
    saw and loved.

    But now already they were near the monster's lair. They
    stretched strong nets from tree to tree; they uncoupled their
    dogs, they tried to find the footprints of their quarry in the
    grass. From the wood was a descent to marshy ground. Here the
    boar, as he lay among the reeds, heard the shouts of his
    pursuers, and rushed forth against them. One and another is
    thrown down and slain. Jason throws his spear with a prayer to
    Diana for success; and the favoring goddess allows the weapon to
    touch, but not to wound, removing the steel point of the spear
    even in its flight. Nestor, assailed, seeks and finds safety in
    the branches of a tree. Telamon rushes on, but stumbling at a
    projecting root, falls prone. But an arrow from Atalanta at
    length for the first time tastes the monster's blood. It is a
    slight wound, but Meleager sees and joyfully proclaims it.
    Anceus, excited to envy by the praise given to a female, loudly
    proclaims his own valor, and defies alike the boar and the
    goddess who had sent it; but as he rushes on, the infuriated
    beast lays him low with a mortal wound. Theseus throws his
    lance, but it is turned aside by a projecting bough. The dart of
    Jason misses its object, and kills instead one of their own dogs.
    But Meleager, after one unsuccessful stroke, drives his spear
    into the monsters side, then rushes on and despatches him with
    repeated blows.

    Then rose a shout from those around; they congratulated the
    conqueror, crowding to touch his hand. He, placing his foot upon
    the slain boar, turned to Atalanta and bestowed on her the head
    and the rough hide which were the trophies of his success. But
    at this, envy excited the rest to strife. Phlexippus and Toxeus,
    the uncles of Meleager and Althea's brothers, beyond the rest
    opposed the gift, and snatched from the maiden the trophy she had
    received. Meleager, kindling with rage at the wrong done to
    himself, and still more at the insult offered to her whom he
    loved, forgot the claims of kindred, and plunged his sword into
    the offenders' hearts.

    As Althea bore gifts of thankfulness to the temples for the
    victory of her son, the bodies of her murdered brothers met her
    sight. She shrieks, and beats her breast, and hastens to change
    the garments of rejoicing for those of mourning. But when the
    author of the deed is known, grief gives way to the stern desire
    of vengeance on her son. The fatal brand, which once she rescued
    from the flames, the brand which the Destinies had linked with
    Meleager's life, she brings forth, and commands a fire to be
    prepared. Then four times she essays to place the brand upon the
    pile; four times draws back, shuddering at the thought of
    bringing destruction on her son. The feelings of the mother and
    the sister contend within her. Now she is pale at the thought of
    the purposed deed, now flushed again with anger at the act of her
    son. As a vessel, driven in one direction by the wind, and in
    the opposite by the tide, the mind of Althea hangs suspended in
    uncertainty. But now the sister prevails above the mother, and
    she begins as she holds the fatal wood: "Turn, ye Furies,
    goddesses of punishment! Turn to behold the sacrifice I bring!
    Crime must atone for crime. Shall OEneus rejoice in his victor
    son, while the house of Thestius (Thestius was father of Toxeus,
    Phlexippus and Althea) is desolate? But, alas! To what deed am I
    borne along? Brothers, forgive a mother's weakness! My hand
    fails me. He deserves death, but not that I should destroy him.
    But shall he then live, and triumph, and reign over Calydon,
    while you, my brothers, wander unavenged among the shades? No!
    Thou has lived by my gift; die, now, for thine own crime. Return
    the life which twice I gave thee, first at thy birth, again when
    I snatched this brand from the flames. O that thou hadst then
    died! Alas! Evil is the conquest; but, brothers, ye have
    conquered." And, turning away her face, she threw the fatal wood
    upon the burning pile.

    It gave, or seemed to give, a deadly groan. Meleager, absent and
    unknowing of the cause, felt a sudden pang. He burns and only by
    courageous pride conquers the pain which destroys him. He mourns
    only that he perishes by a bloodless and unhonored death. With
    his last breath he calls upon his aged father, his brother, and
    his fond sisters, upon his beloved Atalanta, and upon his mother,
    the unknown cause of his fate. The flames increase, and with
    them the pain of the hero. Now both subside; now both are
    quenched. The brand is ashes and the life of Meleager is
    breathed forth to the wandering winds.

    Althea, when the deed was done, laid violent hands upon herself.
    The sisters of Meleager mourned their brother with uncontrollable
    grief; till Diana, pitying the sorrows of the house that once had
    aroused her anger, turned them into birds.

    ATALANTA

    The innocent cause of so much sorrow was a maiden whose face you
    might truly say was boyish for a girl, yet too girlish for a boy.
    Her fortune had been told, and it was to this effect: "Atalanta,
    do not marry; marriage will be your ruin." Terrified by this
    oracle, she fled the society of men, and devoted herself to the
    sports of the chase. To all suitors (for she had many) she
    imposed a condition which was generally effectual in relieving
    her of their persecutions: "I will be the prize of him who
    shall conquer me in the race; but death must be the penalty of
    all who try and fail." In spite of this hard condition some
    would try. Hippomenes was to be judge of the race. "Can it be
    possible that any will be so rash as to risk so much for a wife?"
    said he. But when he saw her lay aside her robe for the race, he
    changed his mind, and said, "Pardon me, youths, I knew not the
    prize you were competing for." As he surveyed them he wished them
    all to be beaten, and swelled with envy of any one that seemed at
    all likely to win. While such were his thoughts, the virgin
    darted forward. As she ran, she looked more beautiful than ever.
    The breezes seemed to give wings to her feet; her hair flew over
    her shoulders, and the gay fringe of her garment fluttered behind
    her. A ruddy hue tinged the whiteness of her skin, such as a
    crimson curtain casts on a marble wall. All her competitors were
    distanced, and were put to death without mercy. Hippomenes, not
    daunted by this result, fixing his eyes on the virgin, said, "Why
    boast of beating those laggards? I offer myself for the
    contest." Atalanta looked at him with a pitying countenance, and
    hardly knew whether she would rather conquer him or not. "What
    god can tempt one so young and handsome to throw himself away? I
    pity him, not for his beauty (yet he is beautiful), but for his
    youth. I wish he would give up the race, or if he will be so
    mad, I hope he may outrun me." While she hesitates, revolving
    these thoughts, the spectators grow impatient for the race, and
    her father prompts her to prepare. Then Hippomenes addressed a
    prayer to Venus; "Help me, Venus, for you have led me on" Venus
    heard, and was propitious.

    In the garden of her temple, in her own island of Cyprus, is a
    tree with yellow leaves and yellow branches, and golden fruit.
    Hence Venus gathered three golden apples, and, unseen by all
    else, gave them to Hippomenes, and told him how to use them. The
    signal is given; each starts from the goal, and skims over the
    sand. So light their tread, you would almost have thought they
    might run over the river surface or over the waving grain without
    sinking. The cries of the spectators cheered on Hippomenes:
    "Now, now do your best! Haste, haste! You gain on her! Relax
    not! One more effort!" It was doubtful whether the youth or the
    maiden heard these cries with the greater pleasure. But his
    breath began to fail him, his throat was dry, the goal yet far
    off. At that moment he threw down one of the golden apples. The
    virgin was all amazement. She stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes
    shot ahead. Shouts burst forth from all sides. She redoubled
    her efforts, and soon overtook him. Again he threw an apple.
    She stopped again, but again came up with him. The goal was
    near; one chance only remained. "Now, goddess," said he,
    "prosper your gift!" and threw the last apple off at one side.
    She looked at it, and hesitated; Venus impelled her to turn aside
    for it. She did so, and was vanquished. The youth carried off
    his prize.

    But the lovers were so full of their own happiness that they
    forgot to pay due honor to Venus; and the goddess was provoked at
    their ingratitude. She caused them to give offence to Cybele.
    That powerful goddess was not to be insulted with impunity. She
    took from them their human form and turned them into animals of
    characters resembling their own: of the huntress-heroine,
    triumphing in the blood of her lovers, she made a lioness, and of
    her lord and master a lion, and yoked them to her ear, there they
    are still to be seen in all representations, in statuary or
    painting, of the goddess Cybele.

    Cybele is the Latin name of the goddess called by the Greeks Rhea
    and Ops. She was the wife of Cronos and mother of Zeus. In
    works of art, she exhibits the matronly air which distinguishes
    Juno and Ceres. Sometimes she is veiled, and seated on a throne
    with lions at her side, at other times riding in a chariot drawn
    by lions. She sometimes wears a mural crown, that is, a crown
    whose rim is carved in the form of towers and battlements. Her
    priests were called Corybantes.

    Byron in describing the city of Venice, which is built on a low
    island in the Adriatic Sea, borrows an illustration from Cybele:

    "She looks a sea-Cybele fresh from ocean,
    Rising with her tiara of proud towers
    At airy distance, with majestic motion,
    A ruler of the waters and their powers."
    Childe Harold, IV

    In Moore's Rhymes on the Road, the poet, speaking of Alpine
    scenery, alludes to the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes, thus:

    "Even here, in this region of wonders, I find
    That light-footed Fancy leaves Truth far behind,
    Or at least, like Hippomenes, turns her astray
    By the golden illusions he flings in her way."

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