Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome (con't)



One of the most ancient and important among the festivals observed by the Greeks was that of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which was celebrated in honour of Demeter and Persephone. The name was derived from Eleusis, a town in Attica, where the Mysteries were first introduced by the goddess herself. They were divided into the [197]Greater and Lesser Mysteries, and, according to the general account, were held every five years. The Greater, which were celebrated in honour of Demeter, and lasted nine days, were held in autumn; the Lesser, dedicated to Persephone (who at these festivals was affectionately called Cora, or the maiden), were held in spring.

It is supposed that the secrets taught to the initiated by the priests—the expounders of the Mysteries—were moral meanings, elucidated from the myths concerning Demeter and Persephone; but the most important belief inculcated was the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That the lessons taught were of the highest moral character is universally admitted. "The souls of those who participated in them were filled with the sweetest hopes both as to this and the future world;" and it was a common saying among the Athenians: "In the Mysteries no one is sad."

The initiation into these solemn rites (which was originally the exclusive privilege of the Athenians) was accompanied with awe-inspiring ceremonies; and secrecy was so strictly enjoined that its violation was punished by death. At the conclusion of the initiation great rejoicings took place, chariot-races, wrestling matches, &c., were held, and solemn sacrifices offered.

The initiation into the Lesser Mysteries served as a preparation for the Greater.


The Thesmophoria was another festival held in honour of Demeter, in her character as presiding over marriage and social institutions resulting from the spread of agriculture.

This festival was celebrated exclusively by women.


A joyous spring festival was held in honour of Dionysus, in the month of March, and lasted several days.


This festival, which was called the Greater Dionysia, was celebrated with particular splendour at Athens, when strangers flocked from all parts of the world to take part in the ceremonies. The city was gaily decorated, the houses were garlanded with ivy-leaves, crowds perambulated the streets, everything wore its holiday garb, and wine was freely indulged in.

Celebrating the Dionysia

In the processions which took place during these festivities, the statue of Dionysus was carried, and men and women, crowned with ivy and bearing the thyrsus, were dressed in every description of grotesque costume, and played on drums, pipes, flutes, cymbals, &c. Some representing Silenus rode on asses, others wearing fawn-skins appeared as Pan or the Satyrs, and the whole multitude sang pæans in honour of the wine-god. Public shows, games, and sports took place, and the entire city was full of revelry.

What lent additional interest to these festivals was the custom of introducing new comedies and tragedies to the public, representations of which were given, and prizes awarded to those which elicited the greatest admiration.

Celebrating the Dionysia

The Lesser Dionysia were vintage festivals, celebrated in rural districts in the month of November, and were characterized by drinking, feasting, and joviality of all kinds.

In connection with some of the festivals in honour of Dionysus were certain mystic observances, into which only women, called Menades or Bacchantes, were initiated. Clad in fawn-skins, they assembled by night on the mountain sides, [199]some carrying blazing torches, others thyrsi, and all animated with religious enthusiasm and frenzy. They shouted, clapped their hands, danced wildly, and worked themselves up to such a pitch of excitement and fury that in their mad frenzy they tore in pieces the animal brought as a sacrifice to Dionysus.

Under the name of Bacchanalia, these mystic rites were introduced into Rome, where men also were allowed to participate in them; but they were attended with such frightful excesses that the state authorities at length interfered and prohibited them.


The Panathenæa was a famous festival celebrated in Athens in honour of Athene-Polias, the guardian of the state. There were two festivals of this name, the Lesser and the Greater Panathenæa. The former was held annually, and the latter, which lasted several days, was celebrated every fourth year.

For the Greater Panathenæa a garment, embroidered with gold, called the Peplus, was specially woven by Athenian maidens, on which was represented the victory gained by Athene over the Giants. This garment was suspended to the mast of a ship which stood outside the city; and during the festival, which was characterized by a grand procession, the ship (with the Peplus on its mast) was impelled forward by means of invisible machinery, and formed the most conspicuous feature of the pageant. The whole population, bearing olive branches in their hands, took part in the procession; and amidst music and rejoicings this imposing pageant wended its way to the temple of Athene-Polias, where the Peplus was deposited on the statue of the goddess.

At this festival, Homer's poems were declaimed aloud, and poets also introduced their own works to the public. Musical contests, foot and horse races, and wrestling matches were held, and dances were performed by boys in armour.


Men who had deserved well of their country were presented at the festival with a crown of gold, and the name of the person so distinguished was announced publicly by a herald.

The victors in the races and athletic games received, as a prize, a vase of oil, supposed to have been extracted from the fruit of the sacred olive-tree of Athene.


The Daphnephoria was celebrated at Thebes in honour of Apollo every ninth year.

The distinguishing feature of this festival was a procession to the temple of Apollo, in which a young priest (the Daphnephorus) of noble descent, splendidly attired and wearing a crown of gold, was preceded by a youth, carrying an emblematical representation of the sun, moon, stars, and days of the year, and followed by beautiful maidens bearing laurel branches, and singing hymns in honour of the god.



The Saturnalia, a national festival held in December in honour of Saturn, was celebrated after the ingathering of the harvest, and lasted several days.

It was a time of universal rejoicing, cessation from labour, and merry-making. School children had holidays, friends sent presents to each other, the law-courts were closed, and no business was transacted.

Crowds of people from the surrounding country flocked to Rome for this festival attired in every variety of masquerade dress; practical jokes were given and received with the utmost good humour, shouts of exultation filled [201]the air, all classes abandoned themselves to enjoyment, and unrestrained hilarity reigned supreme. Social distinctions were for a time suspended, or even reversed; and so heartily was the spirit of this festival entered into, that masters waited upon their slaves at banquets which they provided for them; the slaves being dressed upon these occasions in the garments of their masters.

There appears little doubt that the modern Carnival is a survival of the ancient Saturnalia.


This festival was celebrated in honour of Ceres. It was solemnized exclusively by women, who, dressed in white garments, wandered about with torches in their hands, to represent the search of the goddess for her daughter Proserpine.

During this festival, games were celebrated in the Circus Maximus, to which none were admitted unless clothed in white.


The Vestalia was a festival held in honour of Vesta on the 9th of June, and was celebrated exclusively by women, who walked barefooted in procession to the temple of the goddess.

The priestesses of Vesta, called Vestales or Vestal Virgins, played a conspicuous part in these festivals. They were six in number, and were chosen—between the ages of six and ten—from the noblest families in Rome. Their term of office was thirty years. During the first ten years, they were initiated in their religious duties, during the second ten they performed them, and during the third they instructed novices. Their chief duty was to watch and feed the ever-burning flame on the altar of Vesta, the extinction of which was regarded as a national calamity of ominous import.


Great honours and privileges were accorded to them; the best seats were reserved for their use at all public spectacles, and even the consuls and prætors made way for them to pass. If they met a criminal on his way to execution they had the power to pardon him, provided it could be proved that the meeting was accidental.

The Vestales were vowed to chastity, a violation of which was visited by the frightful punishment of being buried alive.




The following is the legendary account of the founding of Thebes:—

After the abduction of his daughter Europa by Zeus, Agenor, king of Phœnicia, unable to reconcile himself to her loss, despatched his son Cadmus in search of her, desiring him not to return without his sister.

For many years Cadmus pursued his search through various countries, but without success. Not daring to return home without her, he consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi; and the reply was that he must desist from his task, and take upon himself a new duty, i.e. that of founding a city, the site of which would be indicated to him by a heifer which had never borne the yoke, and which would lie down on the spot whereon the city was to be built.

Scarcely had Cadmus left the sacred fane, when he observed a heifer who bore no marks of servitude on her neck, walking slowly in front of him. He followed the animal for a considerable distance, until at length, on the site where Thebes afterwards stood, she looked towards heaven and, gently lowing, lay down in the long grass. Grateful for this mark of divine favour, Cadmus resolved to offer up the animal as a sacrifice, and accordingly sent his followers to fetch water for the libation from a neighbouring spring. This spring, which was sacred to Ares, was situated in a wood, and guarded by a fierce dragon, who, at the approach of the retainers of Cadmus, suddenly pounced upon them and killed them.

After waiting some time for the return of his servants [204]Cadmus grew impatient, and hastily arming himself with his lance and spear, set out to seek them. On reaching the spot, the mangled remains of his unfortunate followers met his view, and near them he beheld the frightful monster, dripping with the blood of his victims. Seizing a huge rock, the hero hurled it with all his might upon the dragon; but protected by his tough black skin and steely scales as by a coat of mail, he remained unhurt. Cadmus now tried his lance, and with more success, for it pierced the side of the beast, who, furious with pain, sprang at his adversary, when Cadmus, leaping aside, succeeded in fixing the point of his spear within his jaws, which final stroke put an end to the encounter.

While Cadmus stood surveying his vanquished foe Pallas-Athene appeared to him, and commanded him to sow the teeth of the dead dragon in the ground. He obeyed; and out of the furrows there arose a band of armed men, who at once commenced to fight with each other, until all except five were killed. These last surviving warriors made peace with each other, and it was with their assistance that Cadmus now built the famous city of Thebes. In later times the noblest Theban families proudly claimed their descent from these mighty earth-born warriors.

Ares was furious with rage when he discovered that Cadmus had slain his dragon, and would have killed him had not Zeus interfered, and induced him to mitigate his punishment to that of servitude for the term of eight years. At the end of that time the god of war became reconciled to Cadmus, and, in token of his forgiveness, bestowed upon him the hand of his daughter Harmonia in marriage. Their nuptials were almost as celebrated as those of Peleus and Thetis. All the gods honoured them with their presence, and offered rich gifts and congratulations. Cadmus himself presented his lovely bride with a splendid necklace fashioned by Hephæstus, which, however, after the death of Harmonia, always proved fatal to its possessor.

The children of Cadmus and Harmonia were one son, [205]Polydorus, and four daughters, Autonoe, Ino, Semele, and Agave.

For many years the founder of Thebes reigned happily, but at length a conspiracy was formed against him, and he was deprived of his throne by his grandson Pentheus. Accompanied by his faithful wife Harmonia, he retired into Illyria, and after death they were both changed by Zeus into serpents, and transferred to Elysium.


Perseus, one of the most renowned of the legendary heroes of antiquity, was the son of Zeus and Danaë, daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos.

An oracle having foretold to Acrisius that a son of Danaë would be the cause of his death, he imprisoned her in a tower of brass in order to keep her secluded from the world. Zeus, however, descended through the roof of the tower in the form of a shower of gold, and the lovely Danaë became his bride.

For four years Acrisius remained in ignorance of this union, but one evening as he chanced to pass by the brazen chamber, he heard the cry of a young child proceeding from within, which led to the discovery of his daughter's marriage with Zeus. Enraged at finding all his precautions unavailing, Acrisius commanded the mother and child to be placed in a chest and thrown into the sea.

But it was not the will of Zeus that they should perish. He directed Poseidon to calm the troubled waters, and caused the chest to float safely to the island of Seriphus. Dictys, brother of Polydectes, king of the island, was fishing on the sea-shore when he saw the chest stranded on the beach; and pitying the helpless condition of its unhappy occupants, he conducted them to the palace of the king, where they were treated with the greatest kindness.

Polydectes eventually became united to Danaë, and [206]bestowed upon Perseus an education befitting a hero. When he saw his stepson develop into a noble and manly youth he endeavoured to instil into his mind a desire to signalize himself by the achievement of some great and heroic deed, and after mature deliberation it was decided that the slaying of the Gorgon, Medusa, would bring him the greatest renown.

For the successful accomplishment of his object it was necessary for him to be provided with a pair of winged sandals, a magic wallet, and the helmet of Aïdes, which rendered the wearer invisible, all of which were in the keeping of the Nymphs, the place of whose abode was known only to the Grææ. Perseus started on his expedition, and, guided by Hermes and Pallas-Athene, arrived, after a long journey, in the far-off region, on the borders of Oceanus, where dwelt the Grææ, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. He at once applied to them for the necessary information, and on their refusing to grant it he deprived them of their single eye and tooth, which he only restored to them when they gave him full directions with regard to his route. He then proceeded to the abode of the Nymphs, from whom he obtained the objects indispensable for his purpose.

Equipped with the magic helmet and wallet, and armed with a sickle, the gift of Hermes, he attached to his feet the winged sandals, and flew to the abode of the Gorgons, whom he found fast asleep. Now as Perseus had been warned by his celestial guides that whoever looked upon these weird sisters would be transformed into stone, he stood with averted face before the sleepers, and caught on his bright metal shield their triple image. Then, guided by Pallas-Athene, he cut off the head of the Medusa, which he placed in his wallet. No sooner had he done so than from the headless trunk there sprang forth the winged steed Pegasus, and Chrysaor, the father of the winged giant Geryon. He now hastened to elude the pursuit of the two surviving sisters, who, aroused from their slumbers, eagerly rushed to avenge the death of their sister.


His invisible helmet and winged sandals here stood him in good stead; for the former concealed him from the view of the Gorgons, whilst the latter bore him swiftly over land and sea, far beyond the reach of pursuit. In passing over the burning plains of Libya the drops of blood from the head of the Medusa oozed through the wallet, and falling on the hot sands below produced a brood of many-coloured snakes, which spread all over the country.

Perseus continued his flight until he reached the kingdom of Atlas, of whom he begged rest and shelter. But as this king possessed a valuable orchard, in which every tree bore golden fruit, he was fearful lest the slayer of the Medusa might destroy the dragon which guarded it, and then rob him of his treasures. He therefore refused to grant the hospitality which the hero demanded, whereupon Perseus, exasperated at the churlish repulse, produced from his wallet the head of the Medusa, and holding it towards the king, transformed him into a stony mountain. Beard and hair erected themselves into forests; shoulders, hands, and limbs became huge rocks, and the head grew up into a craggy peak which reached into the clouds.

Perseus then resumed his travels. His winged sandals bore him over deserts and mountains, until he arrived at Æthiopia, the kingdom of King Cepheus. Here he found the country inundated with disastrous floods, towns and villages destroyed, and everywhere signs of desolation and ruin. On a projecting cliff close to the shore he beheld a lovely maiden chained to a rock. This was Andromeda, the king's daughter. Her mother Cassiopea, having boasted that her beauty surpassed that of the Nereides, the angry sea-nymphs appealed to Poseidon to avenge their wrongs, whereupon the sea-god devastated the country with a terrible inundation, which brought with it a huge monster who devoured all that came in his way.

In their distress the unfortunate Æthiopians applied to the oracle of Jupiter-Ammon, in the Libyan desert, [208]and obtained the response, that only by the sacrifice of the king's daughter to the monster could the country and people be saved.

Cepheus, who was tenderly attached to his child, at first refused to listen to this dreadful proposal; but overcome at length by the prayers and solicitations of his unhappy subjects, the heart-broken father gave up his child for the welfare of his country. Andromeda was accordingly chained to a rock on the sea-shore to serve as a prey to the monster, whilst her unhappy parents bewailed her sad fate on the beach below.

On being informed of the meaning of this tragic scene, Perseus proposed to Cepheus to slay the dragon, on condition that the lovely victim should become his bride. Overjoyed at the prospect of Andromeda's release, the king gladly acceded to the stipulation, and Perseus hastened to the rock, to breathe words of hope and comfort to the trembling maiden. Then assuming once more the helmet of Aïdes, he mounted into the air, and awaited the approach of the monster.

Presently the sea opened, and the shark's head of the gigantic beast of the deep raised itself above the waves. Lashing his tail furiously from side to side, he leaped forward to seize his victim; but the gallant hero, watching his opportunity, suddenly darted down, and producing the head of the Medusa from his wallet, held it before the eyes of the dragon, whose hideous body became gradually transformed into a huge black rock, which remained for ever a silent witness of the miraculous deliverance of Andromeda. Perseus then led the maiden to her now happy parents, who, anxious to evince their gratitude to her deliverer ordered immediate preparations to be made for the nuptial feast. But the young hero was not to bear away his lovely bride uncontested; for in the midst of the banquet, Phineus, the king's brother, to whom Andromeda had previously been betrothed, returned to claim his bride. Followed by a band of armed warriors he forced his way into the hall, and a desperate encounter took place between the rivals, [209]which might have terminated fatally for Perseus, had he not suddenly bethought himself of the Medusa's head. Calling to his friends to avert their faces, he drew it from his wallet, and held it before Phineus and his formidable body-guard, whereupon they all stiffened into stone.

Pallas-Athene with her shield

Perseus now took leave of the Æthiopian king, and, accompanied by his beautiful bride, returned to Seriphus, where a joyful meeting took place between Danaë and her son. He then sent a messenger to his grandfather, informing him that he intended returning to Argos; but Acrisius, fearing the fulfilment of the oracular prediction, fled for protection to his friend Teutemias, king of Larissa. Anxious to induce the aged monarch to return to Argos, Perseus followed him thither. But here a strange fatality occurred. Whilst taking part in some funereal games, celebrated in honour of the king's father, Perseus, by an unfortunate throw of the discus, accidentally struck his grandfather, and thereby was the innocent cause of his death.

After celebrating the funereal rites of Acrisius with due solemnity, Perseus returned to Argos; but feeling loath to occupy the throne of one whose death he had caused, he exchanged kingdoms with Megapenthes, king of Tiryns, and in course of time founded the cities of Mycenæ and Midea.

The head of the Medusa he presented to his divine patroness, Pallas-Athene, who placed it in the centre of her shield.

Many great heroes were descended from Perseus and Andromeda, foremost among whom was Heracles, whose mother, Alcmene, was their granddaughter.

Heroic honours were paid to Perseus, not only [210]throughout Argos, but also at Athens and in the island of Seriphus.


Ion was the son of Crëusa (the beauteous daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens) and the sun-god Phœbus-Apollo, to whom she was united without the knowledge of her father.

Fearing the anger of Erechtheus, Crëusa placed her new-born babe in a little wicker basket, and hanging some golden charms round his neck, invoked for him the protection of the gods, and concealed him in a lonely cave. Apollo, pitying his deserted child, sent Hermes to convey him to Delphi, where he deposited his charge on the steps of the temple. Next morning the Delphic priestess discovered the infant, and was so charmed by his engaging appearance that she adopted him as her own son. The young child was carefully tended and reared by his kind foster-mother, and was brought up in the service of the temple, where he was intrusted with some of the minor duties of the holy edifice.

And now to return to Crëusa. During a war with the Eubœans, in which the latter were signally defeated, Xuthus, son of Æolus, greatly distinguished himself on the side of the Athenians, and as a reward for his valuable services, the hand of Crëusa, the king's daughter, was bestowed upon him in marriage. Their union, however, was not blest with children, and as this was a source of great grief to both of them, they repaired to Delphi in order to consult the oracle. The response was, that Xuthus should regard the first person who met him on leaving the sanctuary as his son. Now it happened that Ion, the young guardian of the temple, was the first to greet his view, and when Xuthus beheld the beautiful youth, he gladly welcomed him as his son, declaring that the gods had sent him to be a blessing and comfort to his old age. Crëusa, however, who concluded that the youth was the offspring of a secret marriage on the part of her husband, was filled with suspicion and jealousy; [211]when an old servant, observing her grief, begged her to be comforted, assuring her that the cause of her distress should be speedily removed.

When, upon the occasion of the public adoption of his son, Xuthus gave a grand banquet, the old servant of Crëusa contrived to mix a strong poison in the wine of the unsuspecting Ion. But the youth—according to the pious custom of the ancients, of offering a libation to the gods before partaking of any repast—poured upon the ground a portion of the wine before putting it to his lips, when suddenly, as if by a miracle, a dove flew into the banquet-hall, and sipped of the wine of the libation; whereupon the poor little creature began to quiver in every limb, and in a few moments expired.

Ion's suspicions at once fell upon the obsequious servant of Crëusa, who with such officious attention had filled his cup. He violently seized the old man, and accused him of his murderous intentions. Unprepared for this sudden attack he admitted his guilt, but pointed to the wife of Xuthus as the instigator of the crime. Ion was about to avenge himself upon Crëusa, when, by means of the divine intervention of Apollo, his foster-mother, the Delphic priestess appeared on the scene, and explained the true relationship which existed between Crëusa and Ion. In order to set all doubts at rest, she produced the charms which she had found round the neck of the infant, and also the wicker basket in which he had been conveyed to Delphi.

Mother and son now became reconciled to each other, and Crëusa revealed to Ion the secret of his divine origin. The priestess of Delphi foretold that he would become the father of a great nation, called after him the Ionians, and also that Xuthus and Crëusa would have a son called Dorus, who would be the progenitor of the Dorian people, both of which predictions were in due time verified.


Dædalus, a descendant of Erechtheus, was an Athenian architect, sculptor, and mechanician. He was the first [212]to introduce the art of sculpture in its higher development, for before his time statues were merely rude representations, having the limbs altogether undefined.

But great as was his genius, still greater was his vanity, and he could brook no rival. Now his nephew and pupil, Talus, exhibited great talent, having invented both the saw and the compass, and Dædalus, fearing lest he might overshadow his own fame, secretly killed him by throwing him down from the citadel of Pallas-Athene. The murder being discovered, Dædalus was summoned before the court of the Areopagus and condemned to death; but he made his escape to the island of Crete, where he was received by king Minos in a manner worthy of his great reputation.

Dædalus constructed for the king the world-renowned labyrinth, which was an immense building, full of intricate passages, intersecting each other in such a manner, that even Dædalus himself is said, upon one occasion, to have nearly lost his way in it; and it was in this building the king placed the Minotaur, a monster with the head and shoulders of a bull and the body of a man.

In the course of time the great artist became weary of his long exile, more especially as the king, under the guise of friendship, kept him almost a prisoner. He therefore resolved to make his escape, and for this purpose ingeniously contrived wings for himself and his young son Icarus, whom he diligently trained how to use them. Having awaited a favourable opportunity, father and son commenced their flight, and were well on their way when Icarus, pleased with the novel sensation, forgot altogether his father's oft-repeated injunction not to approach too near the sun. The consequence was that the wax, by means of which his wings were attached, melted, and he fell into the sea and was drowned. The body of the unfortunate Icarus was washed up by the tide, and was buried by the bereaved father on an island which he called after his son, Icaria.

After this sad event, Dædalus winged his flight to the island of Sicily, where he met with a kind welcome from [213]king Cocalus, for whom he constructed several important public works. But no sooner did Minos receive the intelligence that his great architect had found an asylum with Cocalus than he sailed over to Sicily with a large army, and sent messengers to the Sicilian king demanding the surrender of his guest. Cocalus feigned compliance and invited Minos to his palace, where he was treacherously put to death in a warm bath. The body of their king was brought to Agrigent by the Cretans, where it was buried with great pomp, and over his tomb a temple to Aphrodite was erected.

Dædalus passed the remainder of his life tranquilly in the island of Sicily, where he occupied himself in the construction of various beautiful works of art.


Aeson, king of Iolcus, was forced to fly from his dominions, which had been usurped by his younger brother, Pelias, and with difficulty succeeded in saving the life of his young son, Jason, who was at that time only ten years of age. He intrusted him to the care of the Centaur Chiron, by whom he was carefully trained in company with other noble youths, who, like himself, afterwards signalized themselves by their bravery and heroic exploits. For ten years Jason remained in the cave of the Centaur, by whom he was instructed in all useful and warlike arts. But as he approached manhood he became filled with an unconquerable desire to regain his paternal inheritance. He therefore took leave of his kind friend and preceptor, and set out for Iolcus to demand from his uncle Pelias the kingdom which he had so unjustly usurped.

In the course of his journey he came to a broad and foaming river, on the banks of which he perceived an old woman, who implored him to help her across. At first he hesitated, knowing that even alone he would find some difficulty in stemming the fierce torrent; but, [214]pitying her forlorn condition, he raised her in his arms, and succeeded, with a great effort, in reaching the opposite shore. But as soon as her feet had touched the earth she became transformed into a beautiful woman, who, looking kindly at the bewildered youth, informed him that she was the goddess Hera, and that she would henceforth guide and protect him throughout his career. She then disappeared, and, full of hope and courage at this divine manifestation, Jason pursued his journey. He now perceived that in crossing the river he had lost one of his sandals, but as it could not be recovered he was obliged to proceed without it.

On his arrival at Iolcus he found his uncle in the market-place, offering up a public sacrifice to Poseidon. When the king had concluded his offering, his eye fell upon the distinguished stranger, whose manly beauty and heroic bearing had already attracted the attention of his people. Observing that one foot was unshod, he was reminded of an oracular prediction which foretold to him the loss of his kingdom by a man wearing only one sandal. He, however, disguised his fears, conversed kindly with the youth, and drew from him his name and errand. Then pretending to be highly pleased with his nephew, Pelias entertained him sumptuously for five days, during which time all was festivity and rejoicing. On the sixth, Jason appeared before his uncle, and with manly firmness demanded from him the throne and kingdom which were his by right. Pelias, dissembling his true feelings, smilingly consented to grant his request, provided that, in return, Jason would undertake an expedition for him, which his advanced age prevented him from accomplishing himself. He informed his nephew that the shade of Phryxus had appeared to him in his dreams, and entreated him to bring back from Colchis his mortal remains and the Golden Fleece; and added that if Jason succeeded in obtaining for him these sacred relics, throne, kingdom, and sceptre should be his.



Athamas, king of Bœotia, had married Nephele, a cloud-nymph, and their children were Helle and Phryxus. The restless and wandering nature of Nephele, however, soon wearied her husband, who, being a mortal, had little sympathy with his ethereal consort; so he divorced her, and married the beautiful but wicked Ino (sister of Semele), who hated her step-children, and even planned their destruction. But the watchful Nephele contrived to circumvent her cruel designs, and succeeded in getting the children out of the palace. She then placed them both on the back of a winged ram, with a fleece of pure gold, which had been given to her by Hermes; and on this wonderful animal brother and sister rode through the air over land and sea; but on the way Helle, becoming seized with giddiness, fell into the sea (called after her the Hellespont) and was drowned.

Phryxus arrived safely at Colchis, where he was hospitably received by king Aëtes, who gave him one of his daughters in marriage. In gratitude to Zeus for the protection accorded him during his flight, Phryxus sacrificed to him the golden ram, whilst the fleece he presented to Aëtes, who nailed it up in the Grove of Ares, and dedicated it to the god of War. An oracle having declared that the life of Aëtes depended on the safe-keeping of the fleece, he carefully guarded the entrance to the grove by placing before it an immense dragon, which never slept.

Building and Launch of the Argo.—We will now return to Jason, who eagerly undertook the perilous expedition proposed to him by his uncle, who, well aware of the dangers attending such an enterprise, hoped by this means to rid himself for ever of the unwelcome intruder.

Jason accordingly began to arrange his plans without delay, and invited the young heroes whose friendship he [216]had formed whilst under the care of Chiron, to join him in the perilous expedition. None refused the invitation, all feeling honoured at being allowed the privilege of taking part in so noble and heroic an undertaking.

Jason now applied to Argos, one of the cleverest ship-builders of his time, who, under the guidance of Pallas-Athene, built for him a splendid fifty-oared galley, which was called the Argo, after the builder. In the upper deck of the vessel the goddess had imbedded a board from the speaking oak of the oracle of Zeus at Dodona, which ever retained its powers of prophecy. The exterior of the ship was ornamented with magnificent carvings, and the whole vessel was so strongly built that it defied the power of the winds and waves, and was, nevertheless, so light that the heroes, when necessary, were able to carry it on their shoulders. When the vessel was completed, the Argonauts (so called after their ship) assembled, and their places were distributed by lot.

Jason was appointed commander-in-chief of the expedition, Tiphys acted as steersman, Lynceus as pilot. In the bow of the vessel sat the renowned hero Heracles; in the stern, Peleus (father of Achilles) and Telamon (the father of Ajax the Great). In the inner space were Castor and Pollux, Neleus (the father of Nestor), Admetus (the husband of Alcestes), Meleager (the slayer of the Calydonian boar), Orpheus (the renowned singer), Menoctius (the father of Patroclus), Theseus (afterwards king of Athens) and his friend Pirithöus (the son of Ixion), Hylas (the adopted son of Heracles), Euphemus (the son of Poseidon), Oileus (father of Ajax the Lesser), Zetes and Calais (the winged sons of Boreas), Idmon the Seer (the son of Apollo), Mopsus (the Thessalian prophet), &c. &c.

Before their departure Jason offered a solemn sacrifice to Poseidon and all the other sea-deities; he also invoked the protection of Zeus and the Fates, and then, Mopsus having taken the auguries, and found them auspicious, the heroes stepped on board. And now a favourable breeze having sprung up, they take their allotted places, [217]the anchor is weighed, and the ship glides like a bird out of the harbour into the waters of the great sea.

Arrival at Lemnos.—The Argo, with her brave crew of fifty heroes, was soon out of sight, and the sea-breeze only wafted to the shore a faint echo of the sweet strains of Orpheus.

For a time all went smoothly, but the vessel was soon driven, by stress of weather, to take refuge in a harbour in the island of Lemnos. This island was inhabited by women only, who, the year before, in a fit of mad jealousy, had killed all the male population of the island, with the exception of the father of their queen, Hypsipyle. As the protection of their island now devolved upon themselves they were always on the look-out for danger. When, therefore, they sighted the Argo from afar they armed themselves and rushed to the shore, determined to repel any invasion of their territory.

On arriving in port the Argonauts, astonished at beholding an armed crowd of women, despatched a herald in one of their boats, bearing the staff of peace and friendship. Hypsipyle, the queen, proposed that food and presents should be sent to the strangers, in order to prevent their landing; but her old nurse, who stood beside her, suggested that this would be a good opportunity to provide themselves with noble husbands, who would act as their defenders, and thus put an end to their constant fears. Hypsipyle listened attentively to the advice of her nurse, and after some consultation, decided to invite the strangers into the city. Robed in his purple mantle, the gift of Pallas-Athene, Jason, accompanied by some of his companions, stepped on shore, where he was met by a deputation consisting of the most beautiful of the Lemnian women, and, as commander of the expedition, was invited into the palace of the queen.

When he appeared before Hypsipyle, she was so struck with his godlike and heroic presence that she presented him with her father's sceptre, and invited him to seat himself on the throne beside her. Jason thereupon [218]took up his residence in the royal castle, whilst his companions scattered themselves through the town, spending their time in feasting and pleasure. Heracles, with a few chosen comrades, alone remained on board.

From day to day their departure was delayed, and the Argonauts, in their new life of dissipation, had almost forgotten the object of the expedition, when Heracles suddenly appeared amongst them, and at last recalled them to a sense of their duty.

Giants and Doliones.—The Argonauts now pursued their voyage, till contrary winds drove them towards an island, inhabited by the Doliones, whose king Cyzicus received them with great kindness and hospitality. The Doliones were descendants of Poseidon, who protected them against the frequent attacks of their fierce and formidable neighbours, the earth-born Giants—monsters with six arms.

Whilst his companions were attending a banquet given by king Cyzicus, Heracles, who, as usual, had remained behind to guard the ship, observed that these Giants were busy blocking up the harbour with huge rocks. He at once realized the danger, and, attacking them with his arrows, succeeded in considerably thinning their numbers; then, assisted by the heroes, who at length came to his aid, he effectually destroyed the remainder.

The Argo now steered out of the harbour and set sail; but in consequence of a severe storm which arose at night, was driven back once more to the shores of the kindly Doliones. Unfortunately, however, owing to the darkness of the night, the inhabitants failed to recognize their former guests, and, mistaking them for enemies, commenced to attack them. Those who had so recently parted as friends were now engaged in mortal combat, and in the battle which ensued, Jason himself pierced to the heart his friend king Cyzicus; whereupon the Doliones, being deprived of their leader, fled to their city and closed the gates. When morning dawned, and both sides perceived their error, they were filled with [219]the deepest sorrow and remorse; and for three days the heroes remained with the Doliones, celebrating the funereal rites of the slain, with every demonstration of mourning and solemnity.

Heracles left behind.—The Argonauts once more set sail, and after a stormy voyage arrived at Mysia, where they were hospitably received by the inhabitants, who spread before them plentiful banquets and sumptuously regaled them.

While his friends were feasting, Heracles, who had declined to join them, went into the forest to seek a fir-tree which he required for an oar, and was missed by his adopted son Hylas, who set out to seek him. When the youth arrived at a spring, in the most secluded part of the forest, the nymph of the fountain was so struck by his beauty that she drew him down beneath the waters, and he was seen no more. Polyphemus, one of the heroes, who happened to be also in the forest, heard his cry for help, and on meeting Heracles informed him of the circumstance. They at once set out in search of the missing youth, no traces of whom were to be found, and whilst they were engaged looking for him, the Argo set sail and left them behind.

The ship had proceeded some distance before the absence of Heracles was observed. Some of the heroes were in favour of returning for him, others wished to proceed on their journey, when, in the midst of the dispute, the sea-god Glaucus arose from the waves, and informed them that it was the will of Zeus that Heracles, having another mission to perform, should remain behind. The Argonauts continued their voyage without their companions; Heracles returned to Argos, whilst Polyphemus remained with the Mysians, where he founded a city and became its king.

Contest with Amycus.—Next morning the Argo touched at the country of the Bebrycians, whose king Amycus was a famous pugilist, and permitted no strangers to leave his shores without matching their [220]strength with his. When the heroes, therefore, demanded permission to land, they were informed that they could only do so provided that one of their number should engage in a boxing-match with the king. Pollux, who was the best pugilist in Greece, was selected as their champion, and a contest took place, which, after a tremendous struggle, proved fatal to Amycus, who had hitherto been victorious in all similar encounters.

Phineus and the Harpies.—They now proceeded towards Bithynia, where reigned the blind old prophet-king Phineus, son of Agenor. Phineus had been punished by the gods with premature old age and blindness for having abused the gift of prophecy. He was also tormented by the Harpies, who swooped down upon his food, which they either devoured or so defiled as to render it unfit to be eaten. This poor old man, trembling with the weakness of age, and faint with hunger, appeared before the Argonauts, and implored their assistance against his fiendish tormentors, whereupon Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of Boreas, recognizing in him the husband of their sister Cleopatra, affectionately embraced him, and promised to rescue him from his painful position.

The heroes prepared a banquet on the sea-shore, to which they invited Phineus; but no sooner had he taken his place, than the Harpies appeared and devoured all the viands. Zetes and Calais now rose up into the air, drove the Harpies away, and were pursuing them with drawn swords, when Iris, the swift-footed messenger of the gods, appeared, and desired them to desist from their work of vengeance, promising that Phineus should be no longer molested.

Freed at length from his tormentors the old man sat down and enjoyed a plentiful repast with his kind friends the Argonauts, who now informed him of the object of their voyage. In gratitude for his deliverance Phineus gave them much useful information concerning their journey, and not only warned them of the manifold [221]dangers awaiting them, but also instructed them how they might be overcome.

Passage of the Symplegades.—After a fortnight's sojourn in Bithynia the Argonauts once more set sail, but had not proceeded far on their course, when they heard a fearful and tremendous crash. This was caused by the meeting of two great rocky islands, called the Symplegades, which floated about in the sea, and constantly met and separated.

Before leaving Bithynia, the blind old seer, Phineus, had informed them that they would be compelled to pass between these terrible rocks, and he instructed them how to do so with safety. As they now approached the scene of danger they remembered his advice, and acted upon it. Typhus, the steersman, stood at the helm, whilst Euphemus held in his hand a dove ready to be let loose; for Phineus had told them that if the dove ventured to fly through, they might safely follow. Euphemus now despatched the bird, which passed swiftly through the islands, yet not without losing some of the feathers of her tail, so speedily did they reunite. Seizing the moment when the rocks once more separated, the Argonauts worked at their oars with all their might, and achieved the perilous passage in safety.

After the miraculous passage of the Argo, the Symplegades became permanently united, and attached to the bottom of the sea.

The Stymphalides.—The Argo pursued her course along the southern coast of the Pontus, and arrived at the island of Aretias, which was inhabited by birds, who, as they flew through the air, discharged from their wings feathers sharp as arrows.

As the ship was gliding along, Oileus was wounded by one of these birds, whereupon the Argonauts held a council, and by the advice of Amphidamas, an experienced hero, all put on their helmets, and held up their glittering shields, uttering, at the same time, such fearful cries that [222]the birds flew away in terror, and the Argonauts were enabled to land with safety on the island.

Here they found four shipwrecked youths, who proved to be the sons of Phryxus, and were greeted by Jason as his cousins. On ascertaining the object of the expedition they volunteered to accompany the Argo, and to show the heroes the way to Colchis. They also informed them that the Golden Fleece was guarded by a fearful dragon, that king Aëtes was extremely cruel, and, as the son of Apollo, was possessed of superhuman strength.

Arrival at Colchis.—Taking with them the four new-comers they journeyed on, and soon came in sight of the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus, when, towards evening, the loud flapping of wings was heard overhead. It was the giant eagle of Prometheus on his way to torture the noble and long-suffering Titan, whose fearful groans soon afterwards fell upon their ears. That night they reached their journey's end, and anchored in the smooth waters of the river Phases. On the left bank of this river they beheld Ceuta, the capital of Colchis; and on their right a wide field, and the sacred grove of Ares, where the Golden Fleece, suspended from a magnificent oak-tree, was glittering in the sun. Jason now filled a golden cup with wine, and offered a libation to mother-earth, the gods of the country, and the shades of those of the heroes who had died on the voyage.

Next morning a council was held, in which it was decided, that before resorting to forcible measures kind and conciliatory overtures should first be made to king Aëtes in order to induce him to resign the Golden Fleece. It was arranged that Jason, with a few chosen companions, should proceed to the royal castle, leaving the remainder of the crew to guard the Argo. Accompanied, therefore, by Telamon and Augeas, and the four sons of Phryxus, he set out for the palace.

When they arrived in sight of the castle they were struck by the vastness and massiveness of the building, at the entrance to which sparkling fountains played in [223]the midst of luxuriant and park-like gardens. Here the king's daughters, Chalciope and Medea, who were walking in the grounds of the palace, met them. The former, to her great joy, recognized in the youths who accompanied the hero her own long-lost sons, whom she had mourned as dead, whilst the young and lovely Medea was struck with the noble and manly form of Jason.

The news of the return of the sons of Phryxus soon spread through the palace, and brought Aëtes himself to the scene, whereupon the strangers were presented to him, and were invited to a banquet which the king ordered to be prepared in their honour. All the most beautiful ladies of the court were present at this entertainment; but in the eyes of Jason none could compare with the king's daughter, the young and lovely Medea.

When the banquet was ended, Jason related to the king his various adventures, and also the object of his expedition, with the circumstances which had led to his undertaking it. Aëtes listened, in silent indignation, to this recital, and then burst out into a torrent of invectives against the Argonauts and his grand-children, declaring that the Fleece was his rightful property, and that on no consideration would he consent to relinquish it. Jason, however, with mild and persuasive words, contrived so far to conciliate him, that he was induced to promise that if the heroes could succeed in demonstrating their divine origin by the performance of some task requiring superhuman power, the Fleece should be theirs.

The task proposed by Aëtes to Jason was that he should yoke the two brazen-footed, fire-breathing oxen of the king (which had been made for him by Hephæstus) to his ponderous iron plough. Having done this he must till with them the stony field of Ares, and then sow in the furrows the poisonous teeth of a dragon, from which armed men would arise. These he must destroy to a man, or he himself would perish at their hands.

When Jason heard what was expected of him, his heart for a moment sank within him; but he determined, nevertheless, not to flinch from his task, but to trust to the[224]assistance of the gods, and to his own courage and energy.

Jason ploughs the Field of Ares.—Accompanied by his two friends, Telamon and Augeas, and also by Argus, the son of Chalciope, Jason returned to the vessel for the purpose of holding a consultation as to the best means of accomplishing these perilous feats.

Argus explained to Jason all the difficulties of the superhuman task which lay before him, and pronounced it as his opinion that the only means by which success was possible was to enlist the assistance of the Princess Medea, who was a priestess of Hecate, and a great enchantress. His suggestion meeting with approval, he returned to the palace, and by the aid of his mother an interview was arranged between Jason and Medea, which took place, at an early hour next morning, in the temple of Hecate.

A confession of mutual attachment took place, and Medea, trembling for her lover's safety, presented him with a magic salve, which possessed the property of rendering any person anointed with it invulnerable for the space of one day against fire and steel, and invincible against any adversary however powerful. With this salve she instructed him to anoint his spear and shield on the day of his great undertaking. She further added that when, after having ploughed the field and sown the teeth, armed men should arise from the furrows, he must on no account lose heart, but remember to throw among them a huge rock, over the possession of which they would fight among themselves, and their attention being thus diverted he would find it an easy task to destroy them. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Jason thanked her, in the most earnest manner, for her wise counsel and timely aid; at the same time he offered her his hand, and promised her he would not return to Greece without taking her with him as his wife.

Next morning Aëtes, in all the pomp of state, surrounded by his family and the members of his court, [225]repaired to a spot whence a full view of the approaching spectacle could be obtained. Soon Jason appeared in the field of Ares, looking as noble and majestic as the god of war himself. In a distant part of the field the brazen yokes and the massive plough met his view, but as yet the dread animals themselves were nowhere to be seen. He was about to go in quest of them, when they suddenly rushed out from a subterranean cave, breathing flames of fire, and enveloped in a thick smoke.

The friends of Jason trembled; but the undaunted hero, relying on the magic powers with which he was imbued by Medea, seized the oxen, one after the other, by the horns, and forced them to the yoke. Near the plough was a helmet full of dragon's teeth, which he sowed as he ploughed the field, whilst with sharp pricks from his lance he compelled the monstrous creatures to draw the plough over the stony ground, which was thus speedily tilled.

While Jason was engaged sowing the dragon's teeth in the deep furrows of the field, he kept a cautious look-out lest the germinating giant brood might grow too quickly for him, and as soon as the four acres of land had been tilled he unyoked the oxen, and succeeded in frightening them so effectually with his weapons, that they rushed back in terror to their subterranean stables. Meanwhile armed men had sprung up out of the furrows, and the whole field now bristled with lances; but Jason, remembering the instructions of Medea, seized an immense rock and hurled it into the midst of these earth-born warriors, who immediately began to attack each other. Jason then rushed furiously upon them, and after a terrible struggle not one of the giants remained alive.

Furious at seeing his murderous schemes thus defeated, Aëtes not only perfidiously refused to give Jason the Fleece which he had so bravely earned, but, in his anger, determined to destroy all the Argonauts, and to burn their vessel.

Jason secures the Golden Fleece.—Becoming aware of the treacherous designs of her father, Medea at [226]once took measures to baffle them. In the darkness of night she went on board the Argo, and warned the heroes of their approaching danger. She then advised Jason to accompany her without loss of time to the sacred grove, in order to possess himself of the long-coveted treasure. They set out together, and Medea, followed by Jason, led the way, and advanced boldly into the grove. The tall oak-tree was soon discovered, from the topmost boughs of which hung the beautiful Golden Fleece. At the foot of this tree, keeping his ever-wakeful watch, lay the dreadful, sleepless dragon, who at sight of them bounded forward, opening his huge jaws.

Medea now called into play her magic powers, and quietly approaching the monster, threw over him a few drops of a potion, which soon took effect, and sent him into a deep sleep; whereupon Jason, seizing the opportunity, climbed the tree and secured the Fleece. Their perilous task being now accomplished, Jason and Medea quitted the grove, and hastened on board the Argo, which immediately put to sea.

Murder of Absyrtus.—Meanwhile Aëtes, having discovered the loss of his daughter and the Golden Fleece, despatched a large fleet, under the command of his son Absyrtus, in pursuit of the fugitives. After some days' sail they arrived at an island at the mouth of the river Ister, where they found the Argo at anchor, and surrounded her with their numerous ships. They then despatched a herald on board of her, demanding the surrender of Medea and the Fleece.

Medea now consulted Jason, and, with his consent, carried out the following stratagem. She sent a message to her brother Absyrtus, to the effect that she had been carried off against her will, and promised that if he would meet her, in the darkness of night, in the temple of Artemis, she would assist him in regaining possession of the Golden Fleece. Relying on the good faith of his sister, Absyrtus fell into the snare, and duly appeared at the appointed trysting-place; and whilst Medea kept her [227]brother engaged in conversation, Jason rushed forward and slew him. Then, according to a preconcerted signal, he held aloft a lighted torch, whereupon the Argonauts attacked the Colchians, put them to flight, and entirely defeated them.

The Argonauts now returned to their ship, when the prophetic board from the Dodonean oak thus addressed them: "The cruel murder of Absyrtus was witnessed by the Erinyes, and you will not escape the wrath of Zeus until the goddess Circe has purified you from your crime. Let Castor and Pollux pray to the gods that you may be enabled to find the abode of the sorceress." In obedience to the voice, the twin-brothers invoked divine assistance, and the heroes set out in search of the isle of Circe.

They arrive at the Island of Circe.—The good ship Argo sped on her way, and, after passing safely through the foaming waters of the river Eridanus, at length arrived in the harbour of the island of Circe, where she cast anchor.

Commanding his companions to remain on board, Jason landed with Medea, and conducted her to the palace of the sorceress. The goddess of charms and magic arts received them kindly, and invited them to be seated; but instead of doing so they assumed a supplicating attitude, and humbly besought her protection. They then informed her of the dreadful crime which they had committed, and implored her to purify them from it. This Circe promised to do. She forthwith commanded her attendant Naiads to kindle the fire on the altar, and to prepare everything necessary for the performance of the mystic rites, after which a dog was sacrificed, and the sacred cakes were burned. Having thus duly purified the criminals, she severely reprimanded them for the horrible murder of which they had been guilty; whereupon Medea, with veiled head, and weeping bitterly, was reconducted by Jason to the Argo.

Further Adventures of the Argonauts.—Having left the island of Circe they were wafted by gentle [228]zephyrs towards the abode of the Sirens, whose enticing strains soon fell upon their ears. The Argonauts, powerfully affected by the melody, were making ready to land, when Orpheus perceived the danger, and, to the accompaniment of his magic lyre, commenced one of his enchanting songs, which so completely absorbed his listeners that they passed the island in safety; but not before Butes, one of their number, lured by the seductive music of the Sirens, had sprung from the vessel into the waves below. Aphrodite, however, in pity for his youth, landed him gently on the island of Libibaon before the Sirens could reach him, and there he remained for many years.

And now the Argonauts approached new dangers, for on one side of them seethed and foamed the whirlpool of Charybdis, whilst on the other towered the mighty rock whence the monster Scylla swooped down upon unfortunate mariners; but here the goddess Hera came to their assistance, and sent to them the sea-nymph Thetis, who guided them safely through these dangerous straits.

The Argo next arrived at the island of the Phæaces, where they were hospitably entertained by King Alcinous and his queen Arete. But the banquet prepared for them by their kind host was unexpectedly interrupted by the appearance of a large army of Colchians, sent by Aëtes to demand the restoration of his daughter.

Medea threw herself at the feet of the queen, and implored her to save her from the anger of her father, and Arete, in her kindness of heart, promised her her protection. Next morning, in an assembly of the people at which the Colchians were invited to be present, the latter were informed that as Medea was the lawful wife of Jason they could not consent to deliver her up; whereupon the Colchians, seeing that the resolution of the king was not to be shaken, and fearing to face the anger of Aëtes should they return to Colchis without her, sought permission of Alcinous to settle in his kingdom, which request was accorded them.


After these events the Argonauts once more set sail, and steered for Iolcus; but, in the course of a terrible and fearful night, a mighty storm arose, and in the morning they found themselves stranded on the treacherous quicksands of Syrtes, on the shores of Libya. Here all was a waste and barren desert, untenanted by any living creature, save the venomous snakes which had sprung from the blood of the Medusa when borne by Perseus over these arid plains.

They had already passed several days in this abode of desolation, beneath the rays of the scorching sun, and had abandoned themselves to the deepest despair, when the Libyan queen, who was a prophetess of divine origin, appeared to Jason, and informed him that a sea-horse would be sent by the gods to act as his guide.

Scarcely had she departed when a gigantic hippocamp was seen in the distance, making its way towards the Argo. Jason now related to his companions the particulars of his interview with the Libyan prophetess, and after some deliberation it was decided to carry the Argo on their shoulders, and to follow wherever the sea-horse should lead them. They then commenced a long and weary journey through the desert, and at last, after twelve days of severe toil and terrible suffering, the welcome sight of the sea greeted their view. In gratitude for having been saved from their manifold dangers they offered up sacrifices to the gods, and launched their ship once more into the deep waters of the ocean.

Arrival at Crete.—With heartfelt joy and gladness they proceeded on their homeward voyage, and after some days arrived at the island of Crete, where they purposed to furnish themselves with fresh provisions and water. Their landing, however, was opposed by a terrible giant who guarded the island against all intruders. This giant, whose name was Talus, was the last of the Brazen race, and being formed of brass, was invulnerable, except in his right ankle, where there was a sinew of flesh and a vein of blood. As he saw the Argo [230]nearing the coast, he hurled huge rocks at her, which would inevitably have sunk the vessel had not the crew beat a hasty retreat. Although sadly in want of food and water, the Argonauts had decided to proceed on their journey rather than face so powerful an opponent, when Medea came forward and assured them that if they would trust to her she would destroy the giant.

Enveloped in the folds of a rich purple mantle, she stepped on deck, and after invoking the aid of the Fates, uttered a magic incantation, which had the effect of throwing Talus into a deep sleep. He stretched himself at full length upon the ground, and in doing so grazed his vulnerable ankle against the point of a sharp rock, whereupon a mighty stream of blood gushed forth from the wound. Awakened by the pain, he tried to rise, but in vain, and with a mighty groan of anguish the giant fell dead, and his enormous body rolled heavily over into the deep. The heroes being now able to land, provisioned their vessel, after which they resumed their homeward voyage.

Arrival at Iolcus.—After a terrible night of storm and darkness they passed the island of Ægina, and at length reached in safety the port of Iolcus, where the recital of their numerous adventures and hair-breadth escapes was listened to with wondering admiration by their fellow-countrymen.

The Argo was consecrated to Poseidon, and was carefully preserved for many generations till no vestige of it remained, when it was placed in the heavens as a brilliant constellation.

On his arrival at Iolcus, Jason conducted his beautiful bride to the palace of his uncle Pelias, taking with him the Golden Fleece, for the sake of which this perilous expedition had been undertaken. But the old king, who had never expected that Jason would return alive, basely refused to fulfil his part of the compact, and declined to abdicate the throne.


Indignant at the wrongs of her husband, Medea avenged them in a most shocking manner. She made friends with the daughters of the king, and feigned great interest in all their concerns. Having gained their confidence, she informed them, that among her numerous magic arts, she possessed the power of restoring to the aged all the vigour and strength of youth, and in order to give them a convincing proof of the truth of her assertion, she cut up an old ram, which she boiled in a cauldron, whereupon, after uttering various mystic incantations, there came forth from the vessel a beautiful young lamb. She then assured them, that in a similar manner they could restore to their old father his former youthful frame and vigour. The fond and credulous daughters of Pelias lent an all too willing ear to the wicked sorceress, and thus the old king perished at the hands of his innocent children.

Death of Jason.—Medea and Jason now fled to Corinth, where at length they found, for a time, peace and tranquillity, their happiness being completed by the birth of three children.

As time passed on, however, and Medea began to lose the beauty which had won the love of her husband, he grew weary of her, and became attracted by the youthful charms of Glauce, the beautiful daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. Jason had obtained her father's consent to their union, and the wedding-day was already fixed, before he disclosed to Medea the treachery which he meditated against her. He used all his persuasive powers in order to induce her to consent to his union with Glauce, assuring her that his affection had in no way diminished, but that for the sake of the advantages which would thereby accrue to their children, he had decided on forming this alliance with the royal house. Though justly enraged at his deceitful conduct, Medea dissembled her wrath, and, feigning to be satisfied with this explanation, sent, as a wedding-gift to her rival, a magnificent robe of cloth-of-gold. This robe was imbued with a deadly [232]poison which penetrated to the flesh and bone of the wearer, and burned them as though with a consuming fire. Pleased with the beauty and costliness of the garment, the unsuspecting Glauce lost no time in donning it; but no sooner had she done so than the fell poison began to take effect. In vain she tried to tear the robe away; it defied all efforts to be removed, and after horrible and protracted sufferings, she expired.

Maddened at the loss of her husband's love Medea next put to death her three sons, and when Jason, thirsting for revenge, left the chamber of his dead bride, and flew to his own house in search of Medea, the ghastly spectacle of his murdered children met his view. He rushed frantically to seek the murderess, but nowhere could she be found. At length, hearing a sound above his head, he looked up, and beheld Medea gliding through the air in a golden chariot drawn by dragons.

In a fit of despair Jason threw himself on his own sword, and perished on the threshold of his desolate and deserted home.


Pelops, the son of the cruel Tantalus, was a pious and virtuous prince. After his father was banished into Tartarus, a war ensued between Pelops and the king of Troy, in which the former was vanquished and forced to fly from his dominions in Phrygia. He emigrated into Greece, where, at the court of Œnomaus, king of Elis, he beheld Hippodamia, the king's daughter, whose beauty won his heart. But an oracle having foretold to Œnomaus that he would die on the day of his daughter's marriage, he threw every obstacle in the way of her suitors, and declared that he would only give her to him who succeeded in vanquishing him in a chariot race, but that all unsuccessful competitors should suffer death at his hands.

The conditions of the contest were as follows:—The race was to be run from a given point at Pisa to the altar of Poseidon at Corinth; the suitor was allowed to start [233]on his course whilst Œnomaus performed his sacrifice to Zeus, and only on its completion did the king mount his chariot, guided by the skilful Myrtilus, and drawn by his two famous horses, Phylla and Harpinna, who surpassed in swiftness the winds themselves. In this manner many a gallant young prince had perished; for although a considerable start was given to all competitors, still Œnomaus, with his swift team, always overtook them before they reached the goal, and killed them with his spear. But the love of Pelops for Hippodamia overcame all fears, and, undeterred by the terrible fate of his predecessors, he announced himself to Œnomaus as a suitor for the hand of his daughter.

On the eve of the race, Pelops repaired to the sea-shore and earnestly implored Poseidon to assist him in his perilous undertaking. The sea-god heard his prayer, and sent him out of the deep a chariot drawn by two winged horses.

When Pelops appeared on the course, the king at once recognized the horses of Poseidon; but, nothing daunted, he relied on his own supernatural team, and the contest was allowed to proceed.

Whilst the king was offering his sacrifice to Zeus Pelops set out on the race, and had nearly reached the goal, when, turning round, he beheld Œnomaus, spear in hand, who, with his magic steeds, had nearly overtaken him. But in this emergency Poseidon came to the aid of the son of Tantalus. He caused the wheels of the royal chariot to fly off, whereupon the king was thrown out violently, and killed on the spot, just as Pelops arrived at the altar of Poseidon.

As the hero was about to return to Pisa to claim his bride, he beheld, in the distance, flames issuing from the royal castle, which at that instant had been struck by lightning. With his winged horses he flew to rescue his lovely bride, and succeeded in extricating her uninjured from the burning building. They soon afterwards became united, and Pelops reigned in Pisa for many years in great splendour.


HERACLES (Hercules).

Heracles, the most renowned hero of antiquity, was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, and the great grandson of Perseus.

At the time of his birth Alcmene was living at Thebes with her husband Amphitryon, and thus the infant Heracles was born in the palace of his stepfather.

Aware of the animosity with which Hera persecuted all those who rivalled her in the affections of Zeus, Alcmene, fearful lest this hatred should be visited on her innocent child, intrusted him, soon after his birth, to the care of a faithful servant, with instructions to expose him in a certain field, and there leave him, feeling assured that the divine offspring of Zeus would not long remain without the protection of the gods.

Soon after the child had been thus abandoned, Hera and Pallas-Athene happened to pass by the field, and were attracted by its cries. Athene pityingly took up the infant in her arms, and prevailed upon the queen of heaven to put it to her breast; but no sooner had she done so, than the child, causing her pain, she angrily threw him to the ground, and left the spot. Athene, moved with compassion, carried him to Alcmene, and entreated her kind offices on behalf of the poor little foundling. Alcmene at once recognized her child, and joyfully accepted the charge.

Soon afterwards Hera, to her extreme annoyance, discovered whom she had nursed, and became filled with jealous rage. She now sent two venomous snakes into the chamber of Alcmene, which crept, unperceived by the nurses, to the cradle of the sleeping child. He awoke with a cry, and grasping a snake in each hand, strangled them both. Alcmene and her attendants, whom the cry of the child had awakened, rushed to the cradle, where, to their astonishment and terror, they beheld the two reptiles dead in the hands of the infant Heracles. Amphitryon was also attracted to the chamber by the [235]commotion, and when he beheld this astounding proof of supernatural strength, he declared that the child must have been sent to him as a special gift from Zeus. He accordingly consulted the famous seer Tiresias, who now informed him of the divine origin of his stepson, and prognosticated for him a great and distinguished future.

When Amphitryon heard the noble destiny which awaited the child intrusted to his care, he resolved to educate him in a manner worthy of his future career. At a suitable age he himself taught him how to guide a chariot; Eurytus, how to handle the bow; Autolycus, dexterity in wrestling and boxing; and Castor, the art of armed warfare; whilst Linus, the son of Apollo, instructed him in music and letters.

Heracles was an apt pupil; but undue harshness was intolerable to his high spirit, and old Linus, who was not the gentlest of teachers, one day corrected him with blows, whereupon the boy angrily took up his lyre, and, with one stroke of his powerful arm, killed his tutor on the spot.

Apprehensive lest the ungovernable temper of the youth might again involve him in similar acts of violence, Amphitryon sent him into the country, where he placed him under the charge of one of his most trusted herdsmen. Here, as he grew up to manhood, his extraordinary stature and strength became the wonder and admiration of all beholders. His aim, whether with spear, lance, or bow, was unerring, and at the age of eighteen he was considered to be the strongest as well as the most beautiful youth in all Greece.

The Choice of Heracles.—Heracles felt that the time had now arrived when it became necessary to decide for himself how to make use of the extraordinary powers with which he had been endowed by the gods; and in order to meditate in solitude on this all-important subject, he repaired to a lonely and secluded spot in the heart of the forest.

Here two females of great beauty appeared to him. [236]One was Vice, the other Virtue. The former was full of artificial wiles and fascinating arts, her face painted and her dress gaudy and attractive; whilst the latter was of noble bearing and modest mien, her robes of spotless purity.

Vice stepped forward and thus addressed him: "If you will walk in my paths, and make me your friend, your life shall be one round of pleasure and enjoyment. You shall taste of every delight which can be procured on earth; the choicest viands, the most delicious wines, the most luxuriant of couches shall be ever at your disposal; and all this without any exertion on your part, either physical or mental."

Virtue now spoke in her turn: "If you will follow me and be my friend, I promise you the reward of a good conscience, and the love and respect of your fellowmen. I cannot undertake to smooth your path with roses, or to give you a life of idleness and pleasure; for you must know that the gods grant no good and desirable thing that is not earned by labour; and as you sow, so must you reap."

Heracles listened patiently and attentively to both speakers, and then, after mature deliberation, decided to follow in the paths of virtue, and henceforth to honour the gods, and to devote his life to the service of his country.

Full of these noble resolves he sought once more his rural home, where he was informed that on Mount Cithæron, at the foot of which the herds of Amphitryon were grazing, a ferocious lion had fixed his lair, and was committing such frightful ravages among the flocks and herds that he had become the scourge and terror of the whole neighbourhood. Heracles at once armed himself and ascended the mountain, where he soon caught sight of the lion, and rushing at him with his sword succeeded in killing him. The hide of the animal he wore ever afterwards over his shoulders, and the head served him as a helmet.

As he was returning from this, his first exploit, he met [237]the heralds of Erginus, king of the Minyans, who were proceeding to Thebes to demand their annual tribute of 100 oxen. Indignant at this humiliation of his native city, Heracles mutilated the heralds, and sent them back, with ropes round their necks, to their royal master.

Erginus was so incensed at the ill-treatment of his messengers that he collected an army and appeared before the gates of Thebes, demanding the surrender of Heracles. Creon, who was at this time king of Thebes, fearing the consequences of a refusal, was about to yield, when the hero, with the assistance of Amphitryon and a band of brave youths, advanced against the Minyans.

Heracles took possession of a narrow defile through which the enemy were compelled to pass, and as they entered the pass the Thebans fell upon them, killed their king Erginus, and completely routed them. In this engagement Amphitryon, the kind friend and foster-father of Heracles, lost his life. The hero now advanced upon Orchomenus, the capital of the Minyans, where he burned the royal castle and sacked the town.

After this signal victory all Greece rang with the fame of the young hero, and Creon, in gratitude for his great services, bestowed upon him his daughter Megara in marriage. The Olympian gods testified their appreciation of his valour by sending him presents; Hermes gave him a sword, Phœbus-Apollo a bundle of arrows, Hephæstus a golden quiver, and Athene a coat of leather.

Heracles and Eurystheus.—And now it will be necessary to retrace our steps. Just before the birth of Heracles, Zeus, in an assembly of the gods, exultingly declared that the child who should be born on that day to the house of Perseus should rule over all his race. When Hera heard her lord's boastful announcement she knew well that it was for the child of the hated Alcmene that this brilliant destiny was designed; and in order to rob the son of her rival of his rights, she called to her aid the goddess Eilithyia, who retarded the birth of [238]Heracles, and caused his cousin Eurystheus (another grandson of Perseus) to precede him into the world. And thus, as the word of the mighty Zeus was irrevocable, Heracles became the subject and servant of his cousin Eurystheus.

When, after his splendid victory over Erginus, the fame of Heracles spread throughout Greece, Eurystheus (who had become king of Mycenæ), jealous of the reputation of the young hero, asserted his rights, and commanded him to undertake for him various difficult tasks. But the proud spirit of the hero rebelled against this humiliation, and he was about to refuse compliance, when Zeus appeared to him and desired him not to rebel against the Fates. Heracles now repaired to Delphi in order to consult the oracle, and received the answer that after performing ten tasks for his cousin Eurystheus his servitude would be at an end.

Soon afterwards Heracles fell into a state of the deepest melancholy, and through the influence of his inveterate enemy, the goddess Hera, this despondency developed into raving madness, in which condition he killed his own children. When he at length regained his reason he was so horrified and grieved at what he had done, that he shut himself up in his chamber and avoided all intercourse with men. But in his loneliness and seclusion the conviction that work would be the best means of procuring oblivion of the past decided him to enter, without delay, upon the tasks appointed him by Eurystheus.

1. The Nemean Lion.—His first task was to bring to Eurystheus the skin of the much-dreaded Nemean lion, which ravaged the territory between Cleone and Nemea, and whose hide was invulnerable against any mortal weapon.

Heracles proceeded to the forest of Nemea, where, having discovered the lion's lair, he attempted to pierce him with his arrows; but finding these of no avail he felled him to the ground with his club, and before the animal had time to recover from the terrible blow, [239]Heracles seized him by the neck and, with a mighty effort, succeeded in strangling him. He then made himself a coat of mail of the skin, and a new helmet of the head of the animal. Thus attired, he so alarmed Eurystheus by appearing suddenly before him, that the king concealed himself in his palace, and henceforth forbade Heracles to enter his presence, but commanded him to receive his behests, for the future, through his messenger Copreus.

2. The Hydra.—His second task was to slay the Hydra, a monster serpent (the offspring of Typhon and Echidna), bristling with nine heads, one of which was immortal. This monster infested the neighbourhood of Lerna, where she committed great depredations among the herds.

Heracles fighting the Hydra

Heracles, accompanied by his nephew Iolaus, set out in a chariot for the marsh of Lerna, in the slimy waters of which he found her. He commenced the attack by assailing her with his fierce arrows, in order to force her to leave her lair, from which she at length emerged, and sought refuge in a wood on a neighbouring hill. Heracles now rushed forward and endeavoured to crush her heads by means of well-directed blows from his tremendous club; but no sooner was one head destroyed than it was immediately replaced by two others. He next seized the monster in his powerful grasp; but at this juncture a giant crab came to the assistance of the Hydra and commenced biting the feet of her assailant. Heracles destroyed this new adversary with his club, and now called upon his nephew to come to his aid. At his command Iolaus set fire to the neighbouring trees, [240]and, with a burning branch, seared the necks of the monster as Heracles cut them off, thus effectually preventing the growth of more. Heracles next struck off the immortal head, which he buried by the road-side, and placed over it a heavy stone. Into the poisonous blood of the monster he then dipped his arrows, which ever afterwards rendered wounds inflicted by them incurable.

3. The Horned Hind.—The third labour of Heracles was to bring the horned hind Cerunitis alive to Mycenæ. This animal, which was sacred to Artemis, had golden antlers and hoofs of brass.

Not wishing to wound the hind Heracles patiently pursued her through many countries for a whole year, and overtook her at last on the banks of the river Ladon; but even there he was compelled, in order to secure her, to wound her with one of his arrows, after which he lifted her on his shoulders and carried her through Arcadia. On his way he met Artemis with her brother Phœbus-Apollo, when the goddess angrily reproved him for wounding her favourite hind; but Heracles succeeded in appeasing her displeasure, whereupon she permitted him to take the animal alive to Mycenæ.

A Centaur

4. The Erymantian Boar.—The fourth task imposed upon Heracles by Eurystheus was to bring alive to Mycenæ the Erymantian boar, which had laid waste the region of Erymantia, and was the scourge of the surrounding neighbourhood.

On his way thither he craved food and shelter of a Centaur named Pholus, who received him with generous hospitality, setting before him a good and plentiful repast. When Heracles expressed his surprise that at such a well-furnished board [241]wine should be wanting, his host explained that the wine-cellar was the common property of all the Centaurs, and that it was against the rules for a cask to be broached, except all were present to partake of it. By dint of persuasion, however, Heracles prevailed on his kind host to make an exception in his favour; but the powerful, luscious odour of the good old wine soon spread over the mountains, and brought large numbers of Centaurs to the spot, all armed with huge rocks and fir-trees. Heracles drove them back with fire-brands, and then, following up his victory, pursued them with his arrows as far as Malea, where they took refuge in the cave of the kind old Centaur Chiron. Unfortunately, however, as Heracles was shooting at them with his poisoned darts, one of these pierced the knee of Chiron. When Heracles discovered that it was the friend of his early days that he had wounded, he was overcome with sorrow and regret. He at once extracted the arrow, and anointed the wound with a salve, the virtue of which had been taught him by Chiron himself. But all his efforts were unavailing. The wound, imbued with the deadly poison of the Hydra, was incurable, and so great was the agony of Chiron that, at the intercession of Heracles, death was sent him by the gods; for otherwise, being immortal, he would have been doomed to endless suffering.

Pholus, who had so kindly entertained Heracles, also perished by means of one of these arrows, which he had extracted from the body of a dead Centaur. While he was quietly examining it, astonished that so small and insignificant an object should be productive of such serious results, the arrow fell upon his foot and fatally wounded him. Full of grief at this untoward event, Heracles buried him with due honours, and then set out to chase the boar.

With loud shouts and terrible cries he first drove him out of the thickets into the deep snow-drifts which covered the summit of the mountain, and then, having at length wearied him with his incessant pursuit, he captured the exhausted animal, bound him with a rope, and brought him alive to Mycenæ.


5. Cleansing the Stables of Augeas.—After slaying the Erymantian boar Eurystheus commanded Heracles to cleanse in one day the stables of Augeas.

Augeas was a king of Elis who was very rich in herds. Three thousand of his cattle he kept near the royal palace in an inclosure where the refuse had accumulated for many years. When Heracles presented himself before the king, and offered to cleanse his stables in one day, provided he should receive in return a tenth part of the herds, Augeas, thinking the feat impossible, accepted his offer in the presence of his son Phyleus.

Near the palace were the two rivers Peneus and Alpheus, the streams of which Heracles conducted into the stables by means of a trench which he dug for this purpose, and as the waters rushed through the shed, they swept away with them the whole mass of accumulated filth.

But when Augeas heard that this was one of the labours imposed by Eurystheus, he refused the promised guerdon. Heracles brought the matter before a court, and called Phyleus as a witness to the justice of his claim, whereupon Augeas, without waiting for the delivery of the verdict, angrily banished Heracles and his son from his dominions.

6. The Stymphalides.—The sixth task was to chase away the Stymphalides, which were immense birds of prey who, as we have seen (in the legend of the Argonauts), shot from their wings feathers sharp as arrows. The home of these birds was on the shore of the lake Stymphalis, in Arcadia (after which they were called), where they caused great destruction among men and cattle.

On approaching the lake, Heracles observed great numbers of them; and, while hesitating how to commence the attack, he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking round he beheld the majestic form of Pallas-Athene, who held in her hand a gigantic pair of brazen clappers made by Hephæstus, with which she [243]presented him; whereupon he ascended to the summit of a neighbouring hill, and commenced to rattle them violently. The shrill noise of these instruments was so intolerable to the birds that they rose into the air in terror, upon which he aimed at them with his arrows, destroying them in great numbers, whilst such as escaped his darts flew away, never to return.

7. The Cretan Bull.—The seventh labour of Heracles was to capture the Cretan bull.

Minos, king of Crete, having vowed to sacrifice to Poseidon any animal which should first appear out of the sea, the god caused a magnificent bull to emerge from the waves in order to test the sincerity of the Cretan king, who, in making this vow, had alleged that he possessed no animal, among his own herds, worthy the acceptance of the mighty sea-god. Charmed with the splendid animal sent by Poseidon, and eager to possess it, Minos placed it among his herds, and substituted as a sacrifice one of his own bulls. Hereupon Poseidon, in order to punish the cupidity of Minos, caused the animal to become mad, and commit such great havoc in the island as to endanger the safety of the inhabitants. When Heracles, therefore, arrived in Crete for the purpose of capturing the bull, Minos, far from opposing his design, gladly gave him permission to do so.

The hero not only succeeded in securing the animal, but tamed him so effectually that he rode on his back right across the sea as far as the Peloponnesus. He now delivered him up to Eurystheus, who at once set him at liberty, after which he became as ferocious and wild as before, roamed all over Greece into Arcadia, and was eventually killed by Theseus on the plains of Marathon.

8. The Mares of Diomedes.—The eighth labour of Heracles was to bring to Eurystheus the mares of Diomedes, a son of Ares, and king of the Bistonians, a warlike Thracian tribe. This king possessed a breed of wild horses of tremendous size and strength, whose food consisted of human flesh, and all strangers who had the[244]misfortune to enter the country were made prisoners and flung before the horses, who devoured them.

When Heracles arrived he first captured the cruel Diomedes himself, and then threw him before his own mares, who, after devouring their master, became perfectly tame and tractable. They were then led by Heracles to the sea-shore, when the Bistonians, enraged at the loss of their king, rushed after the hero and attacked him. He now gave the animals in charge of his friend Abderus, and made such a furious onslaught on his assailants that they turned and fled.

But on his return from this encounter he found, to his great grief, that the mares had torn his friend in pieces and devoured him. After celebrating due funereal rites to the unfortunate Abderus, Heracles built a city in his honour, which he named after him. He then returned to Tiryns, where he delivered up the mares to Eurystheus, who set them loose on Mount Olympus, where they became the prey of wild beasts.

It was after the performance of this task that Heracles joined the Argonauts in their expedition to gain possession of the Golden Fleece, and was left behind at Chios, as already narrated. During his wanderings he undertook his ninth labour, which was to bring to Eurystheus the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons.

9. The Girdle of Hippolyte.—The Amazons, who dwelt on the shores of the Black Sea, near the river Thermodon, were a nation of warlike women, renowned for their strength, courage, and great skill in horsemanship. Their queen, Hippolyte, had received from her father, Ares, a beautiful girdle, which she always wore as a sign of her royal power and authority, and it was this girdle which Heracles was required to place in the hands of Eurystheus, who designed it as a gift for his daughter Admete.

Foreseeing that this would be a task of no ordinary difficulty the hero called to his aid a select band of brave companions, with whom he embarked for the Amazonian[245]town Themiscyra. Here they were met by queen Hippolyte, who was so impressed by the extraordinary stature and noble bearing of Heracles that, on learning his errand, she at once consented to present him with the coveted girdle. But Hera, his implacable enemy, assuming the form of an Amazon, spread the report in the town that a stranger was about to carry off their queen. The Amazons at once flew to arms and mounted their horses, whereupon a battle ensued, in which many of their bravest warriors were killed or wounded. Among the latter was their most skilful leader, Melanippe, whom Heracles afterwards restored to Hippolyte, receiving the girdle in exchange.

On his voyage home the hero stopped at Troy, where a new adventure awaited him.

During the time that Apollo and Poseidon were condemned by Zeus to a temporary servitude on earth, they built for king Laomedon the famous walls of Troy, afterwards so renowned in history; but when their work was completed the king treacherously refused to give them the reward due to them. The incensed deities now combined to punish the offender. Apollo sent a pestilence which decimated the people, and Poseidon a flood, which bore with it a marine monster, who swallowed in his huge jaws all that came within his reach.

In his distress Laomedon consulted an oracle, and was informed that only by the sacrifice of his own daughter Hesione could the anger of the gods be appeased. Yielding at length to the urgent appeals of his people he consented to make the sacrifice, and on the arrival of Heracles the maiden was already chained to a rock in readiness to be devoured by the monster.

When Laomedon beheld the renowned hero, whose marvellous feats of strength and courage had become the wonder and admiration of all mankind, he earnestly implored him to save his daughter from her impending fate, and to rid the country of the monster, holding out to him as a reward the horses which Zeus had presented to[246]his grandfather Tros in compensation for robbing him of his son Ganymede.

Heracles unhesitatingly accepted the offer, and when the monster appeared, opening his terrible jaws to receive his prey, the hero, sword in hand, attacked and slew him. But the perfidious monarch once more broke faith, and Heracles, vowing future vengeance, departed for Mycenæ, where he presented the girdle to Eurystheus.

10. The Oxen of Geryones.—The tenth labour of Heracles was the capture of the magnificent oxen belonging to the giant Geryon or Geryones, who dwelt on the island of Erythia in the bay of Gadria (Cadiz). This giant, who was the son of Chrysaor, had three bodies with three heads, six hands, and six feet. He possessed a herd of splendid cattle, which were famous for their size, beauty, and rich red colour. They were guarded by another giant named Eurytion, and a two-headed dog called Orthrus, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna.

In choosing for him a task so replete with danger, Eurystheus was in hopes that he might rid himself for ever of his hated cousin. But the indomitable courage of the hero rose with the prospect of this difficult and dangerous undertaking.

After a long and wearisome journey he at last arrived at the western coast of Africa, where, as a monument of his perilous expedition, he erected the famous "Pillars of Hercules," one of which he placed on each side of the Straits of Gibraltar. Here he found the intense heat so insufferable that he angrily raised his bow towards heaven, and threatened to shoot the sun-god. But Helios, far from being incensed at his audacity, was so struck with admiration at his daring that he lent to him the golden boat with which he accomplished his nocturnal transit from West to East, and thus Heracles crossed over safely to the island of Erythia.

No sooner had he landed than Eurytion, accompanied by his savage dog Orthrus, fiercely attacked him; but Heracles, with a superhuman effort, slew the dog and [247]then his master. Hereupon he collected the herd, and was proceeding to the sea-shore when Geryones himself met him, and a desperate encounter took place, in which the giant perished.

Heracles then drove the cattle into the sea, and seizing one of the oxen by the horns, swam with them over to the opposite coast of Iberia (Spain). Then driving his magnificent prize before him through Gaul, Italy, Illyria, and Thrace, he at length arrived, after many perilous adventures and hair-breadth escapes, at Mycenæ, where he delivered them up to Eurystheus, who sacrificed them to Hera.

Heracles had now executed his ten tasks, which had been accomplished in the space of eight years; but Eurystheus refused to include the slaying of the Hydra and the cleansing of the stables of Augeas among the number, alleging as a reason that the one had been performed by the assistance of Iolaus, and that the other had been executed for hire. He therefore insisted on Heracles substituting two more labours in their place.

11. The Apples of the Hesperides.—The eleventh task imposed by Eurystheus was to bring him the golden apples of the Hesperides, which grew on a tree presented by Gæa to Hera, on the occasion of her marriage with Zeus. This sacred tree was guarded by four maidens, daughters of Night, called the Hesperides, who were assisted in their task by a terrible hundred-headed dragon. This dragon never slept, and out of its hundred throats came a constant hissing sound, which effectually warned off all intruders. But what rendered the undertaking still more difficult was the complete ignorance of the hero as to the locality of the garden, and he was forced, in consequence, to make many fruitless journeys and to undergo many trials before he could find it.

He first travelled through Thessaly and arrived at the river Echedorus, where he met the giant Cycnus, the son of Ares and Pyrene, who challenged him to single combat. In this encounter Heracles completely vanquished [248]his opponent, who was killed in the contest; but now a mightier adversary appeared on the scene, for the war-god himself came to avenge his son. A terrible struggle ensued, which had lasted some time, when Zeus interfered between the brothers, and put an end to the strife by hurling a thunderbolt between them. Heracles proceeded on his journey, and reached the banks of the river Eridanus, where dwelt the Nymphs, daughters of Zeus and Themis. On seeking advice from them as to his route, they directed him to the old sea-god Nereus, who alone knew the way to the Garden of the Hesperides. Heracles found him asleep, and seizing the opportunity, held him so firmly in his powerful grasp that he could not possibly escape, so that notwithstanding his various metamorphoses he was at last compelled to give the information required. The hero then crossed over to Libya, where he engaged in a wrestling-match with king Anteos, son of Poseidon and Gæa, which terminated fatally for his antagonist.

From thence he proceeded to Egypt, where reigned Busiris, another son of Poseidon, who (acting on the advice given by an oracle during a time of great scarcity) sacrificed all strangers to Zeus. When Heracles arrived he was seized and dragged to the altar; but the powerful demi-god burst asunder his bonds, and then slew Busiris and his son.

Resuming his journey he now wandered on through Arabia until he arrived at Mount Caucasus, where Prometheus groaned in unceasing agony. It was at this time that Heracles (as already related) shot the eagle which had so long tortured the noble and devoted friend of mankind. Full of gratitude for his deliverance, Prometheus instructed him how to find his way to that remote region in the far West where Atlas supported the heavens on his shoulders, near which lay the Garden of the Hesperides. He also warned Heracles not to attempt to secure the precious fruit himself, but to assume for a time the duties of Atlas, and to despatch him for the apples.[249]

On arriving at his destination Heracles followed the advice of Prometheus. Atlas, who willingly entered into the arrangement, contrived to put the dragon to sleep, and then, having cunningly outwitted the Hesperides, carried off three of the golden apples, which he now brought to Heracles. But when the latter was prepared to relinquish his burden, Atlas, having once tasted the delights of freedom, declined to resume his post, and announced his intention of being himself the bearer of the apples to Eurystheus, leaving Heracles to fill his place. To this proposal the hero feigned assent, merely begging that Atlas would be kind enough to support the heavens for a few moments whilst he contrived a pad for his head. Atlas good-naturedly threw down the apples and once more resumed his load, upon which Heracles bade him adieu, and departed.

When Heracles conveyed the golden apples to Eurystheus the latter presented them to the hero, whereupon Heracles placed the sacred fruit on the altar of Pallas-Athene, who restored them to the garden of the Hesperides.

12. Cerberus.—The twelfth and last labour which Eurystheus imposed on Heracles was to bring up Cerberus from the lower world, believing that all his heroic powers would be unavailing in the Realm of Shades, and that in this, his last and most perilous undertaking, the hero must at length succumb and perish.


Cerberus was a monster dog with three heads, out of whose awful jaws dripped poison; the hair of his head and back was formed of venomous snakes, and his body terminated in the tail of a dragon.

After being initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, and [250]obtaining from the priests certain information necessary for the accomplishment of his task, Heracles set out for Tænarum in Lacolia, where there was an opening which led to the under-world. Conducted by Hermes, he commenced his descent into the awful gulf, where myriads of shades soon began to appear, all of whom fled in terror at his approach, Meleager and Medusa alone excepted. About to strike the latter with his sword, Hermes interfered and stayed his hand, reminding him that she was but a shadow, and that consequently no weapon could avail against her.

Arrived before the gates of Hades he found Theseus and Pirithöus, who had been fixed to an enchanted rock by Aïdes for their presumption in endeavouring to carry off Persephone. When they saw Heracles they implored him to set them free. The hero succeeded in delivering Theseus, but when he endeavoured to liberate Pirithöus, the earth shook so violently beneath him that he was compelled to relinquish his task.

Proceeding further Heracles recognized Ascalaphus, who, as we have seen in the history of Demeter, had revealed the fact that Persephone had swallowed the seeds of a pomegranate offered to her by her husband, which bound her to Aïdes for ever. Ascalaphus was groaning beneath a huge rock which Demeter in her anger had hurled upon him, and which Heracles now removed, releasing the sufferer.

Before the gates of his palace stood Aïdes the mighty ruler of the lower world, and barred his entrance; but Heracles, aiming at him with one of his unerring darts, shot him in the shoulder, so that for the first time the god experienced the agony of mortal suffering. Heracles then demanded of him permission to take Cerberus to the upper-world, and to this Aïdes consented on condition that he should secure him unarmed. Protected by his breastplate and lion's skin Heracles went in search of the monster, whom he found at the mouth of the river Acheron. Undismayed by the hideous barking which proceeded from his three heads, he seized the [251]throat with one hand and the legs with the other, and although the dragon which served him as a tail bit him severely, he did not relinquish his grasp. In this manner he conducted him to the upper-world, through an opening near Troezen in Argolia.

When Eurystheus beheld Cerberus he stood aghast, and despairing of ever getting rid of his hated rival, he returned the hell-hound to the hero, who restored him to Aïdes, and with this last task the subjection of Heracles to Eurystheus terminated.

Murder of Iphitus.—Free at last Heracles now returned to Thebes; and it being impossible for him to live happily with Megara in consequence of his having murdered her children he, with her own consent, gave her in marriage to his nephew Iolaus. Heracles himself sought the hand of Iole, daughter of Eurytus, king of Œchalia, who had instructed him when a boy in the use of the bow. Hearing that this king had promised to give his daughter to him who could surpass himself and his three sons in shooting with the bow, Heracles lost no time in presenting himself as a competitor. He soon proved that he was no unworthy pupil of Eurytus, for he signally defeated all his opponents. But although the king treated him with marked respect and honour he refused, nevertheless, to give him the hand of his daughter, fearing for her a similar fate to that which had befallen Megara. Iphitus, the eldest son of Eurytus, alone espoused the cause of Heracles, and essayed to induce his father to give his consent to the marriage; but all to no purpose, and at length, stung to the quick at his rejection, the hero angrily took his departure.

Soon afterwards the oxen of the king were stolen by the notorious thief Autolycus, and Heracles was suspected by Eurytus of having committed the theft. But Iphitus loyally defended his absent friend, and proposed to seek out Heracles, and with his assistance to go in search of the missing cattle.[252]

The hero warmly welcomed his staunch young friend, and entered cordially into his plan. They at once set out on their expedition; but their search proved altogether unsuccessful. When they approached the city of Tiryns they mounted a tower in hopes of discovering the missing herd in the surrounding country; but as they stood on the topmost summit of the building, Heracles became suddenly seized with one of his former attacks of madness, and mistaking his friend Iphitus for an enemy, hurled him down into the plain below, and he was killed on the spot.

Heracles now set forth on a weary pilgrimage, begging in vain that some one would purify him from the murder of Iphitus. It was during these wanderings that he arrived at the palace of his friend Admetus, whose beautiful and heroic wife (Alcestes) he restored to her husband after a terrible struggle with Death, as already related.

Soon after this event Heracles was struck with a fearful disease, and betook himself to the temple of Delphi, hoping to obtain from the oracle the means of relief. The priestess, however, refused him a response on the ground of his having murdered Iphitus, whereupon the angry hero seized upon the tripod, which he carried off, declaring that he would construct an oracle for himself. Apollo, who witnessed the sacrilege, came down to defend his sanctuary, and a violent struggle ensued. Zeus once more interfered, and, flashing his lightnings between his two favourite sons, ended the combat. The Pythia now vouchsafed an answer to the prayer of the hero, and commanded him, in expiation of his crime, to allow himself to be sold by Hermes for three years as a slave, the purchase-money to be given to Eurytus in compensation for the loss of his son.

Heracles becomes the Slave of Omphale.—Heracles bowed in submission to the divine will, and was conducted by Hermes to Omphale, queen of Lydia. The three talents which she paid for him were given [253]to Eurytus, who, however, declined to accept the money, which was handed over to the children of Iphitus.

Heracles now regained his former vigour. He rid the territory of Omphale of the robbers which infested it and performed for her various other services requiring strength and courage. It was about this time that he took part in the Calydonian boar-hunt, details of which have already been given.

When Omphale learned that her slave was none other than the renowned Heracles himself she at once gave him his liberty, and offered him her hand and kingdom. In her palace Heracles abandoned himself to all the enervating luxuries of an oriental life, and so completely was the great hero enthralled by the fascination which his mistress exercised over him, that whilst she playfully donned his lion's skin and helmet, he, attired in female garments, sat at her feet spinning wool, and beguiling the time by the relation of his past adventures.

But when at length, his term of bondage having expired, he became master of his own actions, the manly and energetic spirit of the hero reasserted itself, and tearing himself away from the palace of the Mæonian queen, he determined to carry out the revenge he had so long meditated against the treacherous Laomedon and the faithless Augeas.

Heracles executes vengeance on Laomedon and Augeas.—Gathering round him some of his old brave companions-in-arms, Heracles collected a fleet of vessels and set sail for Troy, where he landed, took the city by storm, and killed Laomedon, who thus met at length the retribution he had so richly deserved.

To Telamon, one of his bravest followers, he gave Hesione, the daughter of the king, in marriage. When Heracles gave her permission to release one of the prisoners of war she chose her own brother Podarces, whereupon she was informed that as he was already a prisoner of war she would be compelled to ransom him. [254]On hearing this Hesione took off her golden diadem, which she joyfully handed to the hero. Owing to this circumstance Podarces henceforth bore the name of Priamus (or Priam), which signifies the "ransomed one."

Heracles now marched against Augeas to execute his vengeance on him also for his perfidious conduct. He stormed the city of Elis and put to death Augeas and his sons, sparing only his brave advocate and staunch defender Phyleus, on whom he bestowed the vacant throne of his father.

Heracles and Deianeira.—Heracles now proceeded to Calydon, where he wooed the beautiful Deianeira, daughter of Œneus, king of Ætolia; but he encountered a formidable rival in Achelous, the river-god, and it was agreed that their claims should be decided by single combat. Trusting to his power of assuming various forms at will, Achelous felt confident of success; but this availed him nothing, for having at last transformed himself into a bull, his mighty adversary broke off one of his horns, and compelled him to acknowledge himself defeated.

After passing three happy years with Deianeira an unfortunate accident occurred, which for a time marred their felicity. Heracles was one day present at a banquet given by Œneus, when, by a sudden swing of his hand, he had the misfortune to strike on the head a youth of noble birth, who, according to the custom of the ancients, was serving the guests at table, and so violent was the blow that it caused his death. The father of the unfortunate youth, who had witnessed the occurrence, saw that it was the result of accident, and therefore absolved the hero from blame. But Heracles resolved to act according to the law of the land, banished himself from the country, and bidding farewell to his father-in-law, set out for Trachin to visit his friend King Ceyx, taking with him his wife Deianeira, and his young son Hyllus.

In the course of their journey they arrived at the river Evenus, over which the Centaur Nessus was in the habit [255]of carrying travellers for hire. Heracles, with his little son in his arms, forded the stream unaided, intrusting his wife to the care of the Centaur, who, charmed with the beauty of his fair burden, attempted to carry her off. But her cries were heard by her husband, who without hesitation shot Nessus through the heart with one of his poisoned arrows. Now the dying Centaur was thirsting for revenge. He called Deianeira to his side, and directed her to secure some of the blood which flowed from his wound, assuring her that if, when in danger of losing her husband's affection, she used it in the manner indicated by him, it would act as a charm, and prevent her from being supplanted by a rival. Heracles and Deianeira now pursued their journey, and after several adventures at length arrived at their destination.

Death of Heracles.—The last expedition undertaken by the great hero was against Eurytus, king of Œchalia, to revenge himself upon this king and his sons for having refused to bestow upon him the hand of Iole, after having fairly won the maiden. Having collected a large army Heracles set out for Eubœa in order to besiege Œchalia, its capital. Success crowned his arms. He stormed the citadel, slew the king and his three sons, reduced the town to ashes, and carried away captive the young and beautiful Iole.

Returning from his victorious expedition, Heracles halted at Cenœus in order to offer a sacrifice to Zeus, and sent to Deianeira to Trachin for a sacrificial robe. Deianeira having been informed that the fair Iole was in the train of Heracles was fearful lest her youthful charms might supplant her in the affection of her husband, and calling to mind the advice of the dying Centaur, she determined to test the efficacy of the love-charm which he had given to her. Taking out the phial which she had carefully preserved, she imbued the robe with a portion of the liquid which it contained, and then sent it to Heracles.

The victorious hero clothed himself with the garment, [256]and was about to perform the sacrifice, when the hot flames rising from the altar heated the poison with which it was imbued, and soon every fibre of his body was penetrated by the deadly venom. The unfortunate hero, suffering the most fearful tortures, endeavoured to tear off the robe, but it adhered so closely to the skin that all his efforts to remove it only increased his agonies.

In this pitiable condition he was conveyed to Trachin, where Deianeira, on beholding the terrible suffering of which she was the innocent cause, was overcome with grief and remorse, and hanged herself in despair. The dying hero called his son Hyllus to his side, and desired him to make Iole his wife, and then ordering his followers to erect a funeral pyre, he mounted it and implored the by-standers to set fire to it, and thus in mercy to terminate his insufferable torments. But no one had the courage to obey him, until at last his friend and companion Philoctetes, yielding to his piteous appeal, lighted the pile, and received in return the bow and arrows of the hero.

Soon flames on flames ascended, and amidst vivid flashes of lightning, accompanied by awful peals of thunder, Pallas-Athene descended in a cloud, and bore her favourite hero in a chariot to Olympus.

Heracles became admitted among the immortals; and Hera, in token of her reconciliation, bestowed upon him the hand of her beautiful daughter Hebe, the goddess of eternal youth.


Bellerophon, or Bellerophontes, was the son of Glaucus, king of Corinth, and grandson of Sisyphus. In consequence of an unpremeditated murder Bellerophon fled to Tiryns, where he was kindly received by King Prœtus, who purified him from his crime. Antea, the wife of Prœtus, was so charmed with the comely youth that she fell in love with him; but Bellerophon did not return her affection, and she, in revenge, slandered him to the king by a gross misrepresentation of the facts.[257]

The first impulse of Prœtus, when informed of the conduct of Bellerophon, was to kill him; but the youth, with his gentle and winning manners, had so endeared himself to his host that he felt it impossible to take his life with his own hands. He therefore sent him to his father-in-law, Iobates, king of Lycia, with a kind of letter or tablet which contained mysterious signs, indicating his desire that the bearer of the missive should be put to death. But the gods watched over the true and loyal youth, and inclined the heart of Iobates, who was an amiable prince, towards his guest. Judging by his appearance that he was of noble birth, he entertained him, according to the hospitable custom of the Greeks, in the most princely manner for nine days, and not until the morning of the tenth did he inquire his name and errand.

Bellerophon now presented to him the letter intrusted to him by Prœtus. Iobates, who had become greatly attached to the youth, was horror-struck at its contents. Nevertheless he concluded that Prœtus must have good reasons for his conduct, and that probably Bellerophon had committed a crime which deserved death. But as he could not make up his mind to murder the guest he had grown to esteem, he decided to despatch him upon dangerous enterprises, in which he would in all probability lose his life.

The Chimæra

He first sent him to kill the Chimæra, a monster which was at this time devastating the country. The fore part of its body was that of a lion, the centre of a goat, and the hind part of a dragon; whilst out of its jaws issued flames of fire.

Before starting on this difficult task Bellerophon invoked the protection of the gods, and in answer to his prayer they despatched to his aid the immortal-winged horse Pegasus, the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. But the divine animal would not suffer himself to be [258]caught, and at last, worn out with his fruitless exertions, Bellerophon fell into a deep sleep beside the sacred spring Pirene. Here Pallas-Athene appeared to him in a dream, and presented him with a magic bridle for the purpose of capturing the divine steed. On awaking Bellerophon instinctively put out his hand to grasp it, when, to his amazement, there lay beside him the bridle of his dream, whilst Pegasus was quietly drinking at the fountain close by. Seizing him by the mane Bellerophon threw the bridle over his head, and succeeded in mounting him without further difficulty; then rising with him into the air he slew the Chimæra with his arrows.

Bellerophon and Pegasus

Iobates next sent him on an expedition against the Solymans, a fierce neighbouring tribe with whom he was at enmity. Bellerophon succeeded in vanquishing them, and was then despatched against the much-dreaded Amazons; but greatly to the astonishment of Iobates the hero again returned victorious.

Finally, Iobates placed a number of the bravest Lycians in ambush for the purpose of destroying him, but not one returned alive, for Bellerophon bravely defended himself and slew them all. Convinced at length that Bellerophon, far from deserving death, was the special favourite of the gods, who had evidently protected him throughout his perilous exploits, the king now ceased his persecutions.

Iobates admitted him to a share in the government, and gave him his daughter in marriage. But Bellerophon having attained the summit of earthly prosperity became intoxicated with pride and vanity, and incurred the displeasure of the gods by endeavouring to mount to heaven on his winged horse, for the purpose of gratifying his idle curiosity. Zeus punished him for his impiety by sending [259]a gadfly to sting the horse, who became so restive that he threw his rider, who was precipitated to the earth. Filled with remorse at having offended the gods Bellerophon fell a prey to the deepest melancholy, and wandered about for the remainder of his life in the loneliest and most desolate places.

After death he was honoured in Corinth as a hero, and an altar was erected to him in the grove of Poseidon.


Aegeus, king of Athens, being twice married, and having no children, was so desirous of an heir to his throne that he made a pilgrimage to Delphi in order to consult the oracle. But the response being ambiguous, he repaired to Troezen to consult his wise friend Pittheus, who reigned over that city, by whose advice he contracted a secret marriage with his friend's daughter Aethra.

After passing some time with his bride, Aegeus prepared to take his departure for his own dominions; but before doing so he led Aethra to the sea-shore, where, after depositing his sword and sandals under a huge rock, he thus addressed her: "Should the gods bless our union with a son, do not reveal to him the name and rank of his father until he is old enough to possess the strength requisite for moving this stone. Then send him to my palace at Athens bearing these tokens of his identity."

A son was born to Aethra, whom she called Theseus, and who was carefully trained and educated by his grandfather Pittheus. When he had developed into a strong and manly youth his mother conducted him to the spot where the rock had been placed by Aegeus, and at her command he rolled away the stone, and took possession of the sword and sandals which had lain there for sixteen years, and which she now desired him to convey to his father Aegeus, king of Athens.

His mother and grandfather were anxious that the youth should travel by the safe sea route, the road between Troezen and Athens being at this time infested [260]with robbers of great ferocity and enormous strength. But feeling within himself the spirit of a hero, Theseus resolved to emulate the deeds of Heracles, with whose fame all Greece resounded, and therefore chose the more dangerous journey by land, as calculated to afford him an opportunity of distinguishing himself by feats of valour.

His first adventure occurred at Epidaurus, where he met Periphetes, a son of Hephæstus, who was armed with an iron club, with which he killed all travellers. Having received from his grandfather a full description of this savage, Theseus at once recognized him, and rushing upon him with his sword, succeeded after a desperate encounter in killing him. He appropriated the club as a trophy of his victory, and proceeded on his journey without hinderance until he arrived at the Isthmus of Corinth.

Here the people warned him to beware of Sinnis the robber, who forced all travellers to bend with him one of the branches of a tall pine-tree. Having dragged it to the ground, the cruel Sinnis suddenly released his hold, whereupon the bough rebounding high up into the air, the unfortunate victim was dashed to the ground and killed. When Theseus beheld Sinnis advancing towards him he steadily awaited his approach; then seizing his powerful club, he killed the inhuman wretch with one blow.

Passing through the woody district of Crommyon Theseus next slew a wild and dangerous sow which had long ravaged the country.

He then continued his journey and approached the borders of Megara, where, on a narrow path overhanging the sea, dwelt the wicked Scyron, another terror to travellers. It was his custom to compel all strangers who passed his abode to wash his feet, during which operation he kicked them over the rock into the sea. Theseus boldly attacked the giant, overcame him, and then flung his body over the cliff where so many of his victims had perished.

Theseus now journeyed on to Eleusis, where he found [261]another adversary in the person of King Cercyon, who forced all comers to wrestle with him, and killed those whom he vanquished; but Theseus overcame the mighty wrestler and slew him.

Near Eleusis, on the banks of the river Cephissus, Theseus met with a new adventure. Here lived the giant Damastes, called Procrustes or the Stretcher, who had two iron beds, one being long and the other short, into which he forced all strangers; In the short one he placed the tall men, whose limbs he cut to the size of the bed, whilst to the short ones he assigned the large bed, stretching them out to fit it; and thus he left his victims to expire in the most cruel torments. Theseus freed the country from this inhuman monster by serving him as he had done his unfortunate victims.

The hero now continued his journey, and at length reached Athens without meeting with any further adventures. When he arrived at his destination he found his father a helpless tool in the hands of the sorceress Medea, whom he had married after her departure from Corinth. Knowing, by means of her supernatural powers, that Theseus was the king's son, and fearing that her influence might be weakened by his presence, she poisoned the mind of the old king against the stranger, whom she represented as being a spy. It was accordingly arranged that Theseus should be invited to a banquet, and a strong poison mixed with his wine.

Now Theseus had resolved to reveal himself at this feast to the father whom he yearned to embrace. Before tasting the wine he put his plan into execution, and drew out his sword so that the eyes of the king might rest upon it. When Aegeus beheld once more the well-known weapon which he had so often wielded, he knew that it was his son who stood before him. He warmly embraced him, presented him as his heir to his courtiers and subjects, and then, no longer able to endure the sight of Medea, he banished her for ever from his dominions.

When Theseus was acknowledged as the rightful heir to the throne he was opposed by the fifty sons of Pallas, [262]the king's brother, who had confidently expected that on the demise of the old king the government of the country would devolve upon them. They therefore resolved to put Theseus to death; but their plans becoming known to him, he surprised them as they lay in ambush awaiting his approach, and destroyed them all.

Fearing, however, lest the Athenians might entertain a prejudice against him on account of his extermination of their fellow-citizens, the Pallantids, Theseus resolved to perform some signal service for the state, which should gain for him the hearts of the people. He accordingly decided to rid the country of the famous bull of Marathon, which had become a terror to the cultivators of the land. He captured the animal and brought him in chains to Athens, where, after publicly exhibiting him to the astonished multitude, he solemnly sacrificed him to Apollo.

The next enterprise undertaken by Theseus far surpassed all his other feats of heroic daring, and secured to him the universal admiration and gratitude of his fellow-citizens. This was the slaying of the Minotaur, which put an end for ever to the shameful tribute of seven youths and seven maidens which was exacted from the Athenians every nine years.

The origin of this barbarous tribute was as follows: Androgeos, the youthful son of Minos, king of Crete, having been treacherously murdered by the Athenians, his father, anxious to avenge the death of his son, declared war against their king Aegeus, and conquered Athens and the villages in its vicinity. The conqueror henceforth compelled the Athenians to send to him every nine years a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens of the noblest families of the land, who became the prey of the Minotaur, a monster, half-man, half-bull, whose lair was in the wonderful labyrinth, constructed by Dædalus for the Cretan king.

When Theseus informed his father of his heroic determination, he was overwhelmed with grief, and endeavoured, by every means in his power, to shake his son's resolution, but, confident of success, Theseus assured his [263]father that he would slay the Minotaur and return home victorious.

It was customary for the vessel bearing its unhappy freight of human victims to use on this voyage black sails only; but Theseus promised his father that, should he return in safety, he would hoist white ones in their place.

Before leaving Athens Theseus, by the advice of an oracle, chose Aphrodite as his guardian and protectress, and accordingly offered up a sacrifice to her. When he arrived in the presence of king Minos, the goddess of Love inspired Ariadne, the beautiful daughter of the king, with an ardent attachment for the noble young hero. During a secret interview, in which a mutual confession of affection took place, Ariadne furnished him with a sharp sword and a clue of thread, the end of which she desired him to fasten at the entrance to the labyrinth and to continue to unwind it till he reached the lair of the Minotaur. Full of hope as to the successful issue of his undertaking, Theseus took leave of the kind maiden, after expressing his gratitude for her timely aid.

At the head of his companions he was now conducted by Minos to the entrance of the labyrinth. Strictly adhering to the injunctions of the fair Ariadne he succeeded in finding the Minotaur, whom, after a fierce and violent struggle, he defeated and killed; then carefully feeling his way, by means of the clue of thread, he led his companions safely out of the labyrinth. They then fled to their ship, taking with them the lovely maiden to whose affection for their deliverer they owed their safety.

Arrived at the island of Naxos, Theseus had a dream, in which Dionysus, the wine-god, appeared to him, and informed him that the Fates had decreed that Ariadne should be his bride, at the same time menacing the hero with all kinds of misfortunes should he refuse to resign her. Now Theseus, having been taught from his youth to reverence the gods, feared to disobey the wishes of Dionysus. He accordingly took a sad farewell of the [264]beautiful maiden who so tenderly loved him, and left her on the lonely island, where she was found and wooed by the wine-god.

Theseus and his companions felt keenly the loss of their benefactress, and in their grief at parting with her, forgot that the ship still bore the black sails with which she had left the Attic coast. As she neared the port of Athens, Aegeus, who was anxiously awaiting the return of his son on the beach, caught sight of the vessel with its black sails, and concluding that his gallant son had perished, threw himself in despair into the sea.

With the unanimous approval of the Athenians, Theseus now ascended the vacant throne, and soon proved himself to be not only a valiant hero but also a wise prince and prudent legislator. Athens was at this time but a small city surrounded by a number of villages, each of which possessed its own separate form of government; but by means of kind and conciliatory measures Theseus induced the heads of these different communities to resign their sovereignty, and to intrust the administration of public affairs to a court which should sit constantly at Athens, and exercise jurisdiction over all the inhabitants of Attica. The result of these judicious measures was, that the Athenians became a united and powerful people, and that numbers of strangers and foreigners flocked to Athens, which became a flourishing maritime port and a commercial centre of great importance.

Theseus renewed the Isthmian Games, and also instituted numerous festivals, the principal of which was the Panathenæa, held in honour of Athene-Polias.

It is related that Theseus upon one occasion arrived during a voyage at the Amazonian coast. Anxious to ascertain the object of his visit, the Amazons sent Hippolyte, one of their number, with presents to the stranger; but no sooner did the fair herald set foot on board his vessel than Theseus set sail and carried her off to Athens, where he made her his queen. Enraged at this indignity the Amazons determined to be revenged. Some time afterwards, when the whole affair would [265]appear to have been forgotten, they seized the opportunity when the city of Athens was in a defenceless condition and landed an army in Attica. So sudden was their attack that they had penetrated into the very heart of the city before the Athenians could organize their forces; but Theseus expeditiously collected his troops and commenced such a furious onslaught upon the invaders that, after a desperate encounter, they were driven from the city. Peace was then concluded, whereupon the Amazons evacuated the country. During this engagement Hippolyte, forgetful of her origin, fought valiantly by the side of her husband against her own kinsfolk, and perished on the field of battle.


It was soon after this sad event that Theseus joined the world-renowned Calydonian Boar-hunt, in which he took a leading part. He also formed one of the brave band who shared in the perils of the Argonautic expedition.

The remarkable friendship which existed between Theseus and Pirithöus originated under such peculiar circumstances that it is worthy of mention.

Hearing upon one occasion that his herds, pasturing in the plains of Marathon, had been carried off by Pirithöus, Theseus collected together an armed force and sallied forth to punish the plunderer. But, when the two heroes met face to face, both were seized with an impulse of sympathetic admiration for each other. Pirithöus, holding out his hand in token of peace, exclaimed, "What satisfaction shall I render thee, oh Theseus? Be thou thyself the judge." Theseus seized the proffered hand and replied, "I ask nought save thy [266]friendship;" whereupon the heroes embraced each other and swore eternal fidelity.

When, soon afterwards, Pirithöus became united to Hippodamia, a Thessalian princess, he invited Theseus to the wedding-feast, which was also attended, among other guests, by a large number of Centaurs, who were friends of Pirithöus. Towards the end of the banquet Eurytion, a young Centaur, heated and flushed with wine, seized the lovely bride and sought by force to carry her off. The other Centaurs, following his example, each endeavoured to capture a maiden. Pirithöus and his followers, aided by Theseus, who rendered most valuable assistance, attacked the Centaurs, and after a violent hand-to-hand struggle in which many perished, forced them to relinquish their prey.

After the death of Hippolyte Theseus sought the hand of Phædra, the sister of his former bride Ariadne, to whom he became united. For some years they lived happily together, and their union was blessed by the birth of two sons. During this time Hippolytus, the son of the Amazonian queen, had been absent from home, having been placed under the care of the king's uncles in order to be educated. When, having grown to manhood, he now returned to his father's palace, his young stepmother, Phædra, fell violently in love with him; but Hippolytus failed to return her affection, and treated her with contempt and indifference. Filled with rage and despair at his coldness Phædra put an end to her existence; and when she was discovered by her husband she held in her hand a letter, accusing Hippolytus of being the cause of her death, and of having conspired against the honour of the king.

Now Poseidon had upon one occasion promised to grant Theseus whatever request he should demand; he therefore called upon the sea-god to destroy Hippolytus, whom he cursed in the most solemn manner. The father's awful malediction fell but too soon upon his innocent son; for, as the latter was driving his chariot along the sea-shore, between Troezen and Athens, a [267]monster, sent by Poseidon, rose out of the deep, and so frightened the horses that they became altogether unmanageable. As they rushed on in their mad career the chariot was dashed to pieces, and the unfortunate youth, whose feet had become entangled in the reins, was dragged along until life was nearly extinct.

In this condition he was found by the unhappy Theseus, who, having ascertained the true facts of the case from an old servant of Phædra, had hastened to prevent the catastrophe. But he arrived too late, and was only able to soothe the last moments of his dying son by acknowledging the sad mistake which he had committed, and declaring his firm belief in his honour and innocence.

After these events Theseus was persuaded by his friend Pirithöus, who had also about this time lost his young wife, Hippodamia, to join him in a journey through Greece, with the object of carrying off by force the most beautiful maidens whom they should chance to meet.

Arrived at Sparta they beheld, in the temple of Artemis, Helen, the daughter of Zeus and Leda, who was engaged in performing sacred dances in honour of the goddess. Although the maiden was only nine years old the fame of her beauty, which was destined to play so important a part in the history of Greece, had already spread far and wide. Theseus and Pirithöus forcibly abducted her, and then having cast lots for her, she fell to Theseus, who placed her under the charge of his mother Æthra.

Pirithöus now requested Theseus to assist him in his ambitious scheme of descending to the lower world and carrying off Persephone, the queen of Hades. Though fully alive to the perils of the undertaking Theseus would not forsake his friend, and together they sought the gloomy realm of Shades. But Aïdes had been forewarned of their approach, and scarcely had the two friends set foot within his dominions when, by his orders, they were seized, bound with chains, and secured to an enchanted rock at the entrance of Hades. Here the two [268]friends languished for many years, until Heracles passed by in his search for Cerberus, when he released Theseus; but in obedience to an injunction of the gods, left Pirithöus to endure for ever the punishment of his too daring ambition.

While Theseus was imprisoned in the under world Castor and Pollux, the brothers of Helen, invaded Athens, and demanded the restoration of their young sister. Seeing his country threatened with the horrors of warfare, an Athenian citizen named Academus, who knew of Helen's place of concealment, repaired to the camp of the Dioscuri, and informed them where they would find her. Æthra at once resigned her charge, whereupon the brothers took leave of Athens, and, accompanied by Helen, returned to their native country.

But the prolonged absence of Theseus gave rise to other troubles of a more serious character. Thinking the opportunity favourable for a revolt, a faction, headed by Menesthius, a descendant of Erechtheus, arrogated to themselves supreme power, and seized the reins of government.

Returned to Athens, Theseus at once took active measures to quell the insubordination which existed on all sides. He expelled Menesthius from office, rigorously punished the ringleaders of the revolt, and placed himself once more upon the throne. But his hold upon the people was gone. His former services were all forgotten, and, finding at length that dissensions and revolts were rife, he voluntarily abdicated the throne, and retired to his estates in the island of Scyros. Here Lycomedes, king of the island, feigned to receive him with the utmost friendship; but being, as it is supposed, in league with Menesthius, he led the old king to the summit of a high rock, under pretence of showing him his estates, and treacherously killed him by pushing him over the cliff.

Many centuries after his death, by the command of the oracle of Delphi, Cimon, the father of Miltiades, at the conclusion of the Persian war, brought the remains of Theseus, the great benefactor of Athens, to that city, [269]and in his honour a temple was erected, which exists to the present day, and serves as a museum of art.


Laius, king of Thebes, the son of Labdacus, and a direct descendant of Cadmus, was married to Jocaste, the daughter of a noble Theban. An oracle having foretold that he would perish by the hand of his own son, he determined to destroy the infant to whom Jocaste had just given birth. With the consent of his wife, whose affection for her husband overcame her love for her child, he pierced the feet of the babe, bound them together, and handed the infant over to a servant, with instructions to expose him on Mount Cithæron to perish. But instead of obeying this cruel command, the servant intrusted him to a shepherd who was tending the flocks of Polybus, king of Corinth, and then returned to Laius and Jocaste, and informed them that their orders had been obeyed. The parents were satisfied with the intelligence, and quieted their conscience by the reflection that they had thus prevented their son from committing the crime of parricide.

Meanwhile the shepherd of king Polybus had unbound the feet of the infant, and in consequence of their being much swollen he called him Œdipus, or Swollen-foot. He then carried him to the king, his master, who, pitying the poor little waif, enlisted for him the kind offices of his wife, Merope. Œdipus was adopted by the king and queen as their own son, and grew up in the belief that they were his parents, until one day a Corinthian noble taunted him at a banquet with not being the son of the king. Stung at this reproach the youth appealed to Merope, but receiving an equivocal, though kindly answer, he repaired to Delphi to consult the oracle. The Pythia vouchsafed no reply to his inquiry, but informed him, to his horror, that he was fated to kill his father and to marry his own mother.

Filled with dismay, for he was tenderly attached to Polybus and Merope, Œdipus determined not to return [270]to Corinth, and took instead the road leading to Bœotia. On his way a chariot passed him, in which sat an old man with two servants, who rudely pushed the pedestrian out of the path. In the scuffle which ensued Œdipus struck the old man with his heavy stick, and he fell back dead on the seat of the chariot. Struck with dismay at the unpremeditated murder which he had committed, the youth fled, and left the spot without learning that the old man whom he had killed was his father, Laius, king of Thebes.

Not long after this occurrence the Sphinx (full details of whom have already been given) was sent by the goddess Hera as a punishment to the Thebans. Stationed on a rocky height just outside the city, she propounded to the passers by riddles which she had been taught by the Muses, and whoever failed to solve them was torn in pieces and devoured by the monster, and in this manner great numbers of the inhabitants of Thebes had perished.

Now on the death of the old king Laius, Creon, the brother of the widowed queen, had seized the reins of government and mounted the vacant throne; and when at length his own son fell a victim to the Sphinx, he resolved at all costs to rid the country of this fearful scourge. He accordingly issued a proclamation, that the kingdom and the hand of his sister Jocaste should be awarded to him who should succeed in solving one of the riddles of the Sphinx, it having been foretold by an oracle that only then would the country be freed from the monster.

Just as this proclamation was being made in the streets of Thebes Œdipus, with his pilgrim's staff in his hand, entered the city. Tempted by the prospect of so magnificent a reward he repaired to the rock, and boldly requested the Sphinx to propound to him one of her riddles. She proposed to him one which she deemed impossible of solution, but Œdipus at once solved it; whereupon the Sphinx, full of rage and despair, precipitated herself into the abyss and perished. Œdipus [271]received the promised reward. He became king of Thebes and the husband of Jocaste, the widow of his father, king Laius.

For many years Œdipus enjoyed the greatest happiness and tranquillity. Four children were born to him—two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. But at last the gods afflicted the country with a grievous pestilence, which made terrible havoc among the people. In their distress they entreated the help of the king, who was regarded by his subjects as a special favourite of the gods. Œdipus consulted an oracle, and the response was that the pestilence would continue to rage until the land was purified of the blood of king Laius, whose murderer was living unpunished at Thebes.

The king now invoked the most solemn imprecations on the head of the murderer, and offered a reward for any information concerning him. He then sent for the blind old seer Tiresias, and implored him, by means of his prophetic powers, to reveal to him the author of the crime. Tiresias at first hesitated, but yielding to the earnest solicitations of the king, the old prophet thus addressed him: "Thou thyself art the murderer of the old king Laius, who was thy father; and thou art wedded to his widow, thine own mother." In order to convince Œdipus of the truth of his words, he brought forward the old servant who had exposed him as a babe on Mount Cithæron, and the shepherd who had conveyed him to king Polybus. Horrified at this awful revelation Œdipus, in a fit of despair, deprived himself of sight, and the unfortunate Jocaste, unable to survive her disgrace, hanged herself.

Accompanied by his faithful and devoted daughter Antigone, Œdipus quitted Thebes and became a miserable and homeless outcast, begging his bread from place to place. At length, after a long and painful pilgrimage, he found a place of refuge in the grove of the Eumenides (at Colonus, near Athens), where his last moments were soothed and tended by the care and devotion of the faithful Antigone.



After the voluntary abdication of Œdipus, his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, took possession of the crown and reigned over the city of Thebes. But Eteocles, being an ambitious prince, soon seized the reins of government himself, and expelled his brother from the throne.

Polynices now repaired to Argos, where he arrived in the dead of night. Outside the gates of the royal palace he encountered Tydeus, the son of Œneus, king of Calydon. Having accidentally killed a relative in the chase, Tydeus was also a fugitive; but being mistaken by Polynices in the darkness for an enemy, a quarrel ensued, which might have ended fatally, had not king Adrastus, aroused by the clamour, appeared on the scene and parted the combatants.

By the light of the torches borne by his attendants Adrastus observed, to his surprise, that on the shield of Polynices a lion was depicted, and on that of Tydeus a boar. The former bore this insignia in honour of the renowned hero Heracles, the latter in memory of the famous Calydonian boar-hunt. This circumstance reminded the king of an extraordinary oracular prediction concerning his two beautiful daughters, Argia and Deipyle, which was to the effect that he would give them in marriage to a lion and a boar. Hailing with delight what he regarded as an auspicious solution of the mysterious prophecy, he invited the strangers into his palace; and when he heard their history, and had convinced himself that they were of noble birth, he bestowed upon Polynices his beautiful daughter Argia, and upon Tydeus the fair Deipyle, promising at the same time that he would assist both his sons-in-law to regain their rightful patrimony.

The first care of Adrastus was to aid Polynices in regaining possession of his lawful share in the government of Thebes. He accordingly invited the most powerful chiefs in his kingdom to join in the expedition, [273]all of whom readily obeyed the call with the exception of the king's brother-in-law, Amphiaraus, the seer. As he foresaw a disastrous termination to the enterprise, and knew that not one of the heroes, save Adrastus himself, would return alive, he earnestly dissuaded the king from carrying out his project, and declined to take any part in the undertaking. But Adrastus, seconded by Polynices and Tydeus, was obstinately bent on the achievement of his purpose, and Amphiaraus, in order to escape from their importunities, concealed himself in a hiding-place known only to his wife Eriphyle.

Now on the occasion of the marriage of Amphiaraus it had been agreed, that if he ever differed in opinion with the king, his wife should decide the question. As the presence of Amphiaraus was indispensable to the success of the undertaking, and, moreover, as Adrastus would not enter upon it without "the eye of the army," as he called his brother-in-law, Polynices, bent on securing his services, determined to bribe Eriphyle to use her influence with her husband and to decide the question in accordance with his wishes. He bethought himself of the beautiful necklace of Harmonia, wife of Cadmus, which he had brought with him in his flight from Thebes. Without loss of time he presented himself before the wife of Amphiaraus, and held up to her admiring gaze the glittering bauble, promising that if she revealed the hiding-place of her husband and induced him to join the expedition, the necklace should be hers. Eriphyle, unable to withstand the tempting bait, accepted the bribe, and thus Amphiaraus was compelled to join the army. But before leaving his home he extorted a solemn promise from his son Alcmæon that, should he perish on the field of battle, he would avenge his death on his mother, the perfidious Eriphyle.

Seven leaders were now chosen, each at the head of a separate detachment of troops. These were Adrastus the king, his two brothers Hippomedon and Parthenopæus, Capaneus his nephew, Polynices and Tydeus, and Amphiaraus.


When the army was collected they set out for Nemea, which was at this time governed by king Lycurgus. Here the Argives, being short of water, halted on the outskirts of a forest in order to search for a spring, when they saw a majestic and beautiful woman seated on the trunk of a tree, nursing an infant. They concluded from her noble and queenly appearance that she must be a goddess, but were informed by her that she was Hypsipile, queen of the Lemnians, who had been carried away captive by pirates, and sold as a slave to king Lycurgus, and that she was now acting as nurse to his infant son. When the warriors told her that they were in search of water, she laid the child down in the grass, and led them to a secret spring in the forest, with which she alone was acquainted. But on their return they found, to their grief, that the unfortunate babe had been killed during their absence, by a serpent. They slew the reptile, and then collecting the remains of the infant, they buried them with funereal honours and proceeded on their way.

The warlike host now appeared before the walls of Thebes, and each leader placed himself before one of the seven gates of the city in readiness for the attack. Eteocles, in conjunction with Creon, had made due preparations to repel the invaders, and had stationed troops, under the command of trusty leaders, to guard each of the gates. Then, according to the practice of the ancients of consulting soothsayers before entering upon any undertaking, the blind old seer Tiresias was sent for, who, after carefully taking the auguries from the flight of birds, declared that all efforts to defend the city would prove unavailing, unless the youngest descendant of the house of Cadmus would offer himself as a voluntary sacrifice for the good of the state.

When Creon heard the words of the seer his first thought was of his favourite son Menœceus, the youngest scion of the royal house, who was present at the interview. He therefore earnestly implored him to leave the city, and to repair for safety to Delphi. But the gallant youth heroically resolved to sacrifice his life for the [275]benefit of his country, and after taking leave of his old father, mounted the city walls, and plunging a dagger into his heart, perished in the sight of the contending hosts.

Adrastus now gave his troops the word of command to storm the city, and they rushed forward to the attack with great valour. The battle raged long and furiously, and after heavy losses on both sides the Argives were routed and put to flight.

After the lapse of some days they reorganized their forces, and again appeared before the gates of Thebes, when Eteocles, grieved to think that there should be such a terrible loss of life on his account, sent a herald into the opposite camp, with a proposition that the fate of the campaign should be decided by single combat between himself and his brother Polynices. The challenge was readily accepted, and in the duel which took place outside the city walls, in the sight of the rival forces, Eteocles and Polynices were both fatally wounded and expired on the field of battle.

Both sides now claimed the day, and the result was that hostilities recommenced, and soon the battle raged with greater fury than ever. But victory at last declared itself for the Thebans. In their flight the Argives lost all their leaders, Adrastus excepted, who owed his safety to the fleetness of his horse Arion.

By the death of the brothers, Creon became once more king of Thebes, and in order to show his abhorrence of the conduct of Polynices in fighting against his country, he strictly forbade any one to bury either his remains or those of his allies. But the faithful Antigone, who had returned to Thebes on the death of her father, could not endure that the body of her brother should remain unburied. She therefore bravely disregarded the orders of the king, and endeavoured to give sepulture to the remains of Polynices.

When Creon discovered that his commands had been set at defiance, he inhumanly condemned the devoted maiden to be entombed alive in a subterranean vault. [276]But retribution was at hand. His son, Hæmon, who was betrothed to Antigone, having contrived to effect an entrance into the vault, was horrified to find that Antigone had hanged herself by her veil. Feeling that life without her would be intolerable, he threw himself in despair on his own sword, and after solemnly invoking the malediction of the gods on the head of his father, expired beside the dead body of his betrothed.

Hardly had the news of the tragic fate of his son reached the king, before another messenger appeared, bearing the tidings that his wife Eurydice, on hearing of the death of Hæmon, had put an end to her existence, and thus the king found himself in his old age both widowed and childless.

Nor did he succeed in the execution of his vindictive designs; for Adrastus, who, after his flight from Thebes, had taken refuge at Athens, induced Theseus to lead an army against the Thebans, to compel them to restore the dead bodies of the Argive warriors to their friends, in order that they might perform due funereal rites in honour of the slain. This undertaking was successfully accomplished, and the remains of the fallen heroes were interred with due honours.


Ten years after these events the sons of the slain heroes, who were called Epigoni, or descendants, resolved to avenge the death of their fathers, and with this object entered upon a new expedition against the city of Thebes.

By the advice of the Delphic oracle the command was intrusted to Alcmæon, the son of Amphiaraus; but remembering the injunction of his father he hesitated to accept this post before executing vengeance on his mother Eriphyle. Thersander, however, the son of Polynices, adopting similar tactics to those of his father, bribed Eriphyle with the beautiful veil of Harmonia, bequeathed to him by Polynices, to induce her son [277]Alcmæon and his brother Amphilochus to join in this second war against Thebes.

Now the mother of Alcmæon was gifted with that rare fascination which renders its possessor irresistible to all who may chance to come within its influence; nor was her own son able to withstand her blandishments. Yielding therefore to her wily representations he accepted the command of the troops, and at the head of a large and powerful army advanced upon Thebes.

Before the gates of the city Alcmæon encountered the Thebans under the command of Laodamas, the son of Eteocles. A fierce battle ensued, in which the Theban leader, after performing prodigies of valour, perished by the hand of Alcmæon.

After losing their chief and the flower of their army, the Thebans retreated behind the city walls, and the enemy now pressed them hard on every side. In their distress they appealed to the blind old seer Tiresias, who was over a hundred years old. With trembling lips and in broken accents, he informed them that they could only save their lives by abandoning their native city with their wives and families. Upon this they despatched ambassadors into the enemy's camp; and whilst these were protracting negotiations during the night, the Thebans, with their wives and children, evacuated the city. Next morning the Argives entered Thebes and plundered it, placing Thersander, the son of Polynices (who was a descendant of Cadmus), on the throne which his father had so vainly contested.


When Alcmæon returned from his expedition against the Thebans he determined to fulfil the last injunction of his father Amphiaraus, who had desired him to be revenged on his mother Eriphyle for her perfidy in accepting a bribe to betray him. This resolution was further strengthened by the discovery that his unprincipled mother had urged him also to join the expedition [278]in return for the much-coveted veil of Harmonia. He therefore put her to death; and taking with him the ill-fated necklace and veil, abandoned for ever the home of his fathers.

But the gods, who could not suffer so unnatural a crime to go unpunished, afflicted him with madness, and sent one of the Furies to pursue him unceasingly. In this unhappy condition he wandered about from place to place, until at last having reached Psophis in Arcadia, Phegeus, king of the country, not only purified him of his crime, but also bestowed upon him the hand of his daughter Arsinoë, to whom Alcmæon presented the necklace and veil, which had already been the cause of so much unhappiness.

Though now released from his mental affliction, the curse which hung over him was not entirely removed, and on his account the country of his adoption was visited with a severe drought. On consulting the oracle of Delphi he was informed that any land which offered him shelter would be cursed by the gods, and that the malediction would continue to follow him till he came to a country which was not in existence at the time he had murdered his mother. Bereft of hope, and resolved no longer to cast the shadow of his dark fate over those he loved, Alcmæon took a tender leave of his wife and little son, and became once more an outcast and wanderer.

Arrived after a long and painful pilgrimage at the river Achelous, he discovered, to his unspeakable joy, a beautiful and fertile island, which had but lately emerged from beneath the water. Here he took up his abode; and in this haven of rest he was at length freed from his sufferings, and finally purified of his crime by the river-god Achelous. But in his new-found home where prosperity smiled upon him, Alcmæon soon forgot the loving wife and child he had left behind, and wooed Calirrhoë, the beautiful daughter of the river-god, who became united to him in marriage.

For many years Alcmæon and Calirrhoë lived happily together, and two sons were born to them. But [279]unfortunately for the peace of her husband, the daughter of Achelous had heard of the celebrated necklace and veil of Harmonia, and became seized with a violent desire to become the possessor of these precious treasures.

Now the necklace and veil were in the safe-keeping of Arsinoë; but as Alcmæon had carefully concealed the fact of his former marriage from his young wife, he informed her, when no longer able to combat her importunities, that he had concealed them in a cave in his native country, and promised to hasten thither and procure them for her. He accordingly took leave of Calirrhoë and his children, and proceeded to Psophis, where he presented himself before his deserted wife and her father, king Phegeus. To them he excused his absence by the fact of his having suffered from a fresh attack of madness, and added that an oracle had foretold to him that his malady would only be cured when he had deposited the necklace and veil of Harmonia in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Arsinoë, deceived by his artful representations, unhesitatingly restored to him his bridal gifts, whereupon Alcmæon set out on his homeward journey, well satisfied with the successful issue of his expedition.

But the fatal necklace and veil were doomed to bring ruin and disaster to all who possessed them. During his sojourn at the court of king Phegeus, one of the servants who had accompanied Alcmæon betrayed the secret of his union with the daughter of the river-god; and when the king informed his sons of his treacherous conduct, they determined to avenge the wrongs of their sister Arsinoë. They accordingly concealed themselves at a point of the road which Alcmæon was compelled to pass, and as he neared the spot they suddenly emerged from their place of ambush, fell upon him and despatched him.

When Arsinoë, who still loved her faithless husband, heard of the murder, she bitterly reproached her brothers for the crime which they had perpetrated, at which they were so incensed, that they placed her in a chest, and conveyed her to Agapenor, son of Ancæus, at Tegea. [280]Here they accused her of the murder of which they themselves were guilty, and she suffered a painful death.

Calirrhoë, on learning the sad fate of Alcmæon, implored Zeus that her infant sons might grow at once to manhood, and avenge the death of their father. The ruler of Olympus heard the petition of the bereaved wife, and, in answer to her prayer, the children of yesterday became transformed into bearded men, full of strength and courage, and thirsting for revenge.

Hastening to Tegea, they there encountered the sons of Phegeus, who were about to repair to Delphi, in order to deposit the necklace and veil in the sanctuary of Apollo; and before the brothers had time to defend themselves, the stalwart sons of Calirrhoë rushed upon them and slew them. They then proceeded to Psophis, where they killed king Phegeus and his wife, after which they returned to their mother with the necklace and veil, which, by the command of her father Achelous, were deposited as sacred offerings in the temple of Apollo at Delphi.


After the apotheosis of Heracles, his children were so cruelly persecuted by Eurystheus, that they fled for protection to king Ceyx at Trachin, accompanied by the aged Iolaus, the nephew and life-long friend of their father, who constituted himself their guide and protector. But on Eurystheus demanding the surrender of the fugitives, the Heraclidæ, knowing that the small force at the disposal of king Ceyx would be altogether inadequate to protect them against the powerful king of Argos, abandoned his territory, and sought refuge at Athens, where they were hospitably received by king Demophoon, the son of the great hero Theseus. He warmly espoused their cause, and determined to protect them at all costs against Eurystheus, who had despatched a numerous force in pursuit of them.

When the Athenians had made all necessary preparations to repel the invaders, an oracle announced that the [281]sacrifice of a maiden of noble birth was necessary to ensure to them victory; whereupon Macaria, the beautiful daughter of Heracles and Deianira, magnanimously offered herself as a sacrifice, and, surrounded by the noblest matrons and maidens of Athens, voluntarily devoted herself to death.

While these events were transpiring in Athens, Hyllus, the eldest son of Heracles and Deianira, had advanced with a large army to the assistance of his brothers, and having sent a messenger to the king announcing his arrival, Demophoon, with his army, joined his forces.

In the thick of the battle which ensued, Iolaus, following a sudden impulse, borrowed the chariot of Hyllus, and earnestly entreated Zeus and Hebe to restore to him, for this one day only, the vigour and strength of his youth. His prayer was heard. A thick cloud descended from heaven and enveloped the chariot, and when it disappeared, Iolaus, in the full plenitude of manly vigour, stood revealed before the astonished gaze of the combatants. He then led on his valiant band of warriors, and soon the enemy was in headlong flight; and Eurystheus, who was taken prisoner, was put to death by the command of king Demophoon.

After gratefully acknowledging the timely aid of the Athenians, Hyllus, accompanied by the faithful Iolaus and his brothers, took leave of king Demophoon, and proceeded to invade the Peloponnesus, which they regarded as their lawful patrimony; for, according to the will of Zeus, it should have been the rightful possession of their father, the great hero Heracles, had not Hera maliciously defeated his plans by causing his cousin Eurystheus to precede him into the world.

For the space of twelve months the Heraclidæ contrived to maintain themselves in the Peloponnesus; but at the expiration of that time a pestilence broke out, which spread over the entire peninsula, and compelled the Heraclidæ to evacuate the country and return to Attica, where for a time they settled.

After the lapse of three years Hyllus resolved on [282]making another effort to obtain his paternal inheritance. Before setting out on the expedition, however, he consulted the oracle of Delphi, and the response was, that he must wait for the third fruit before the enterprise would prove successful. Interpreting this ambiguous reply to signify the third summer, Hyllus controlled his impatience for three years, when, having collected a powerful army, he once more entered the Peloponnesus.

At the isthmus of Corinth he was opposed by Atreus, the son of Pelops, who at the death of Eurystheus had inherited the kingdom. In order to save bloodshed, Hyllus offered to decide his claims by single combat, the conditions being, that if he were victorious, he and his brothers should obtain undisputed possession of their rights; but if defeated, the Heraclidæ were to desist for fifty years from attempting to press their claim.

The challenge was accepted by Echemon, king of Tegea, and Hyllus lost his life in the encounter, whereupon the sons of Heracles, in virtue of their agreement, abandoned the Peloponnesus and retired to Marathon.

Hyllus was succeeded by his son Cleodæus, who, at the expiration of the appointed time, collected a large army and invaded the Peloponnesus; but he was not more successful than his father had been, and perished there with all his forces.

Twenty years later his son Aristomachus consulted an oracle, which promised him victory if he went by way of the defile. The Heraclidæ once more set out, but were again defeated, and Aristomachus shared the fate of his father and grandfather, and fell on the field of battle.

When, at the expiration of thirty years, the sons of Aristomachus, Temenus, Cresphontes, and Aristodemus again consulted the oracle, the answer was still the same; but this time the following explanation accompanied the response: the third fruit signified the third generation, to which they themselves belonged, and not the third fruit of the earth; and by the defile was indicated, not the isthmus of Corinth, but the straits on the right of the isthmus.


Temenus lost no time in collecting an army and building ships of war; but just as all was ready and the fleet about to sail, Aristodemus, the youngest of the brothers, was struck by lightning. To add to their misfortunes, Hippolytes, a descendant of Heracles, who had joined in the expedition, killed a soothsayer whom he mistook for a spy, and the gods, in their displeasure, sent violent tempests, by means of which the entire fleet was destroyed, whilst famine and pestilence decimated the ranks of the army.

The oracle, on being again consulted, advised that Hippolytes, being the offender, should be banished from the country for ten years, and that the command of the troops should be delegated to a man having three eyes. A search was at once instituted by the Heraclidæ for a man answering to this description, who was found at length in the person of Oxylus, a descendant of the Ætolian race of kings. In obedience to the command of the oracle, Hippolytes was banished, an army and fleet once more equipped, and Oxylus elected commander-in-chief.

And now success at length crowned the efforts of the long-suffering descendants of the great hero. They obtained possession of the Peloponnesus, which was divided among them by lot. Argos fell to Temenus, Lacedæmon to Aristodemus, and Messene to Cresphontes. In gratitude for the services of their able leader, Oxylus, the kingdom of Elis, was conferred upon him by the Heraclidæ.


Troy or Ilion was the capital of a kingdom in Asia Minor, situated near the Hellespont, and founded by Ilus, son of Tros. At the time of the famous Trojan war this city was under the government of Priam, a direct descendant of Ilus. Priam was married to Hecuba, daughter of Dymas, king of Thrace; and among the most celebrated of their children were the renowned and [284]valiant Hector, the prophetess Cassandra, and Paris, the cause of the Trojan war.

Before the birth of her second son Paris, Hecuba dreamt that she had given birth to a flaming brand, which was interpreted by Æsacus the seer (a son of Priam by a former marriage) to signify that she would bear a son who would cause the destruction of the city of Troy. Anxious to prevent the fulfilment of the prophecy, Hecuba caused her new-born babe to be exposed on Mount Ida to perish; but being found by some kind-hearted shepherds, the child was reared by them, and grew up unconscious of his noble birth.

As the boy approached manhood he became remarkable, not only for his wonderful beauty of form and feature, but also for his strength and courage, which he exercised in defending the flocks from the attacks of robbers and wild beasts; hence he was called Alexander, or helper of men. It was about this time that he settled the famous dispute concerning the golden apple, thrown by the goddess of Discord into the assembly of the gods. As we have already seen, he gave his decision in favour of Aphrodite; thus creating for himself two implacable enemies, for Hera and Athene never forgave the slight.

Paris became united to a beautiful nymph named Œnone, with whom he lived happily in the seclusion and tranquillity of a pastoral life; but to her deep grief this peaceful existence was not fated to be of long duration.

Hearing that some funereal games were about to be held in Troy in honour of a departed relative of the king, Paris resolved to visit the capital and take part in them himself. There he so greatly distinguished himself in a contest with his unknown brothers, Hector and Deiphobus, that the proud young princes, enraged that an obscure shepherd should snatch from them the prize of victory, were about to create a disturbance, when Cassandra, who had been a spectator of the proceedings, stepped forward, and announced to them that the humble peasant who had so signally defeated them was their own [285]brother Paris. He was then conducted to the presence of his parents, who joyfully acknowledged him as their child; and amidst the festivities and rejoicings in honour of their new-found son the ominous prediction of the past was forgotten.

As a proof of his confidence, the king now intrusted Paris with a somewhat delicate mission. As we have already seen in the Legend of Heracles, that great hero conquered Troy, and after killing king Laomedon, carried away captive his beautiful daughter Hesione, whom he bestowed in marriage on his friend Telamon. But although she became princess of Salamis, and lived happily with her husband, her brother Priam never ceased to regret her loss, and the indignity which had been passed upon his house; and it was now proposed that Paris should be equipped with a numerous fleet, and proceed to Greece in order to demand the restoration of the king's sister.

Before setting out on this expedition, Paris was warned by Cassandra against bringing home a wife from Greece, and she predicted that if he disregarded her injunction he would bring inevitable ruin upon the city of Troy, and destruction to the house of Priam.

Under the command of Paris the fleet set sail, and arrived safely in Greece. Here the young Trojan prince first beheld Helen, the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and sister of the Dioscuri, who was the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, and the loveliest woman of her time. The most renowned heroes in Greece had sought the honour of her hand; but her stepfather, Tyndareus, king of Sparta, fearing that if he bestowed her in marriage on one of her numerous lovers he would make enemies of the rest, made it a stipulation that all suitors should solemnly swear to assist and defend the successful candidate, with all the means at their command, in any feud which might hereafter arise in connection with the marriage. He at length conferred the hand of Helen upon Menelaus, a warlike prince, devoted to martial exercises and the pleasures of the chase, to whom he resigned his throne and kingdom.


When Paris arrived at Sparta, and sought hospitality at the royal palace, he was kindly received by king Menelaus. At the banquet given in his honour, he charmed both host and hostess by his graceful manner and varied accomplishments, and specially ingratiated himself with the fair Helen, to whom he presented some rare and chaste trinkets of Asiatic manufacture.

Whilst Paris was still a guest at the court of the king of Sparta, the latter received an invitation from his friend Idomeneus, king of Crete, to join him in a hunting expedition; and Menelaus, being of an unsuspicious and easy temperament, accepted the invitation, leaving to Helen the duty of entertaining the distinguished stranger. Captivated by her surpassing loveliness, the Trojan prince forgot every sense of honour and duty, and resolved to rob his absent host of his beautiful wife. He accordingly collected his followers, and with their assistance stormed the royal castle, possessed himself of the rich treasures which it contained, and succeeded in carrying off its beautiful, and not altogether unwilling mistress.

They at once set sail, but were driven by stress of weather to the island of Crania, where they cast anchor; and it was not until some years had elapsed, during which time home and country were forgotten, that Paris and Helen proceeded to Troy.

Preparations for the War.—When Menelaus heard of the violation of his hearth and home he proceeded to Pylos, accompanied by his brother Agamemnon, in order to consult the wise old king Nestor, who was renowned for his great experience and state-craft. On hearing the facts of the case Nestor expressed it as his opinion that only by means of the combined efforts of all the states of Greece could Menelaus hope to regain Helen in defiance of so powerful a kingdom as that of Troy.

Menelaus and Agamemnon now raised the war-cry, which was unanimously responded to from one end of Greece to the other. Many of those who volunteered 

[287]their services were former suitors of the fair Helen, and were therefore bound by their oath to support the cause of Menelaus; others joined from pure love of adventure, but one and all were deeply impressed with the disgrace which would attach to their country should such a crime be suffered to go unpunished. Thus a powerful army was collected in which few names of note were missing.

Only in the case of two great heroes, Odysseus (Ulysses) and Achilles, did Menelaus experience any difficulty.

Odysseus, famed for his wisdom and great astuteness, was at this time living happily in Ithaca with his fair young wife Penelope and his little son Telemachus, and was loath to leave his happy home for a perilous foreign expedition of uncertain duration. When therefore his services were solicited he feigned madness; but the shrewd Palamedes, a distinguished hero in the suite of Menelaus, detected and exposed the ruse, and thus Odysseus was forced to join in the war. But he never forgave the interference of Palamedes, and, as we shall see, eventually revenged himself upon him in a most cruel manner.

Achilles was the son of Peleus and the sea-goddess Thetis, who is said to have dipped her son, when a babe, in the river Styx, and thereby rendered him invulnerable, except in the right heel, by which she held him. When the boy was nine years old it was foretold to Thetis that he would either enjoy a long life of inglorious ease and inactivity, or that after a brief career of victory he would die the death of a hero. Naturally desirous of prolonging the life of her son, the fond mother devoutly hoped that the former fate might be allotted to him. With this view she conveyed him to the island of Scyros, in the Ægean Sea, where, disguised as a girl, he was brought up among the daughters of Lycomedes, king of the country.

Now that the presence of Achilles was required, owing to an oracular prediction that Troy could not be taken without him, Menelaus consulted Calchas the soothsayer, who revealed to him the place of his concealment. Odysseus was accordingly despatched to Scyros, where, by [288]means of a clever device, he soon discovered which among the maidens was the object of his search. Disguising himself as a merchant, Odysseus obtained an introduction to the royal palace, where he offered to the king's daughters various trinkets for sale. The girls, with one exception, all examined his wares with unfeigned interest. Observing this circumstance Odysseus shrewdly concluded that the one who held aloof must be none other than the young Achilles himself. But in order further to test the correctness of his deduction, he now exhibited a beautiful set of warlike accoutrements, whilst, at a given signal, stirring strains of martial music were heard outside; whereupon Achilles, fired with warlike ardour, seized the weapons, and thus revealed his identity. He now joined the cause of the Greeks, accompanied at the request of his father by his kinsman Patroclus, and contributed to the expedition a large force of Thessalian troops, or Myrmidons, as they were called, and also fifty ships.

For ten long years Agamemnon and the other chiefs devoted all their energy and means in preparing for the expedition against Troy. But during these warlike preparations an attempt at a peaceful solution of the difficulty was not neglected. An embassy consisting of Menelaus, Odysseus, &c., was despatched to king Priam demanding the surrender of Helen; but though the embassy was received with the utmost pomp and ceremony, the demand was nevertheless rejected; upon which the ambassadors returned to Greece, and the order was given for the fleet to assemble at Aulis, in Bœotia.

Never before in the annals of Greece had so large an army been collected. A hundred thousand warriors were assembled at Aulis, and in its bay floated over a thousand ships, ready to convey them to the Trojan coast. The command of this mighty host was intrusted to Agamemnon, king of Argos, the most powerful of all the Greek princes.

Before the fleet set sail solemn sacrifices were offered to the gods on the sea-shore, when suddenly a serpent was seen to ascend a plane-tree, in which was a sparrow's[289]nest containing nine young ones. The reptile first devoured the young birds and then their mother, after which it was turned by Zeus into stone. Calchas the soothsayer, on being consulted, interpreted the miracle to signify that the war with Troy would last for nine years, and that only in the tenth would the city be taken.

Departure of the Greek Fleet.—The fleet then set sail; but mistaking the Mysian coast for that of Troy, they landed troops and commenced to ravage the country. Telephus, king of the Mysians, who was a son of the great hero Heracles, opposed them with a large army, and succeeded in driving them back to their ships, but was himself wounded in the engagement by the spear of Achilles. Patroclus, who fought valiantly by the side of his kinsman, was also wounded in this battle; but Achilles, who was a pupil of Chiron, carefully bound up the wound, which he succeeded in healing; and from this incident dates the celebrated friendship which ever after existed between the two heroes, who even in death remained united.

The Greeks now returned to Aulis. Meanwhile, the wound of Telephus proving incurable, he consulted an oracle, and the response was, that he alone who had inflicted the wound possessed the power of curing it. Telephus accordingly proceeded to the Greek camp, where he was healed by Achilles, and, at the solicitation of Odysseus, consented to act as guide in the voyage to Troy.

Just as the expedition was about to start for the second time, Agamemnon had the misfortune to kill a hind sacred to Artemis, who, in her anger, sent continuous calms, which prevented the fleet from setting sail. Calchas on being consulted announced that the sacrifice of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, would alone appease the incensed goddess. How Agamemnon at length overcame his feelings as a father, and how Iphigenia was saved by Artemis herself, has been already related in a previous chapter.

A fair wind having at length sprung up, the fleet [290]once more set sail. They first stopped at the island of Tenedos, where the famous archer Philoctetes—who possessed the bow and arrows of Heracles, given to him by the dying hero—was bitten in the foot by a venomous snake. So unbearable was the odour emitted by the wound, that, at the suggestion of Odysseus, Philoctetes was conveyed to the island of Lesbos, where, to his great chagrin, he was abandoned to his fate, and the fleet proceeded on their journey to Troy.

Commencement of Hostilities.—Having received early intelligence of the impending invasion of their country, the Trojans sought the assistance of the neighbouring states, who all gallantly responded to their call for help, and thus ample preparations were made to receive the enemy. King Priam being himself too advanced in years for active service, the command of the army devolved upon his eldest son, the brave and valiant Hector.

At the approach of the Greek fleet the Trojans appeared on the coast in order to prevent their landing. But great hesitation prevailed among the troops as to who should be the first to set foot on the enemy's soil, it having been predicted that whoever did so would fall a sacrifice to the Fates. Protesilaus of Phylace, however, nobly disregarding the ominous prediction, leaped on shore, and fell by the hand of Hector.

The Greeks then succeeded in effecting a landing, and in the engagement which ensued the Trojans were signally defeated, and driven to seek safety behind the walls of their city. With Achilles at their head the Greeks now made a desperate attempt to take the city by storm, but were repulsed with terrible losses. After this defeat the invaders, foreseeing a long and wearisome campaign, drew up their ships on land, erected tents, huts, &c., and formed an intrenched camp on the coast.

Between the Greek camp and the city of Troy was a plain watered by the rivers Scamander and Simois, and it was on this plain, afterwards so renowned in history, [291]that the ever memorable battles between the Greeks and Trojans were fought.

The impossibility of taking the city by storm was now recognized by the leaders of the Greek forces. The Trojans, on their side, being less numerous than the enemy, dared not venture on a great battle in the open field; hence the war dragged on for many weary years without any decisive engagement taking place.

It was about this time that Odysseus carried out his long meditated revenge against Palamedes. Palamedes was one of the wisest, most energetic, and most upright of all the Greek heroes, and it was in consequence of his unflagging zeal and wonderful eloquence that most of the chiefs had been induced to join the expedition. But the very qualities which endeared him to the hearts of his countrymen rendered him hateful in the eyes of his implacable enemy, Odysseus, who never forgave his having detected his scheme to avoid joining the army.

In order to effect the ruin of Palamedes, Odysseus concealed in his tent a vast sum of money. He next wrote a letter, purporting to be from king Priam to Palamedes, in which the former thanked the Greek hero effusively for the valuable information received from him, referring at the same time to a large sum of money which he had sent to him as a reward. This letter, which was found upon the person of a Phrygian prisoner, was read aloud in a council of the Greek princes. Palamedes was arraigned before the chiefs of the army and accused of betraying his country to the enemy, whereupon a search was instituted, and a large sum of money being found in his tent, he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to be stoned to death. Though fully aware of the base treachery practised against him, Palamedes offered not a word in self-defence, knowing but too well that, in the face of such damning evidence, the attempt to prove his innocence would be vain.

Defection of Achilles.—During the first year of the campaign the Greeks ravaged the surrounding country, [292]and pillaged the neighbouring villages. Upon one of these foraging expeditions the city of Pedasus was sacked, and Agamemnon, as commander-in-chief, received as his share of the spoil the beautiful Chrysëis, daughter of Chryses, the priest of Apollo; whilst to Achilles was allotted another captive, the fair Brisëis. The following day Chryses, anxious to ransom his daughter, repaired to the Greek camp; but Agamemnon refused to accede to his proposal, and with rude and insulting words drove the old man away. Full of grief at the loss of his child Chryses called upon Apollo for vengeance on her captor. His prayer was heard, and the god sent a dreadful pestilence which raged for ten days in the camp of the Greeks. Achilles at length called together a council, and inquired of Calchas the soothsayer how to arrest this terrible visitation of the gods. The seer replied that Apollo, incensed at the insult offered to his priest, had sent the plague, and that only by the surrender of Chrysëis could his anger be appeased.

On hearing this Agamemnon agreed to resign the maiden; but being already embittered against Calchas for his prediction with regard to his own daughter Iphigenia, he now heaped insults upon the soothsayer and accused him of plotting against his interests. Achilles espoused the cause of Calchas, and a violent dispute arose, in which the son of Thetis would have killed his chief but for the timely interference of Pallas-Athene, who suddenly appeared beside him, unseen by the rest, and recalled him to a sense of the duty he owed to his commander. Agamemnon revenged himself on Achilles by depriving him of his beautiful captive, the fair Brisëis, who had become so attached to her kind and noble captor that she wept bitterly on being removed from his charge. Achilles, now fairly disgusted with the ungenerous conduct of his chief, withdrew himself to his tent, and obstinately declined to take further part in the war.

Heart-sore and dejected he repaired to the sea-shore, and there invoked the presence of his divine mother. In answer to his prayer Thetis emerged from beneath [293]the waves, and comforted her gallant son with the assurance that she would entreat the mighty Zeus to avenge his wrongs by giving victory to the Trojans, so that the Greeks might learn to realize the great loss which they had sustained by his withdrawal from the army. The Trojans being informed by one of their spies of the defection of Achilles, became emboldened by the absence of this brave and intrepid leader, whom they feared above all the other Greek heroes; they accordingly sallied forth, and made a bold and eminently successful attack upon the Greeks, who, although they most bravely and obstinately defended their position, were completely routed, and driven back to their intrenchments, Agamemnon and most of the other Greek leaders being wounded in the engagement.

Encouraged by this marked and signal success the Trojans now commenced to besiege the Greeks in their own camp. At this juncture Agamemnon, seeing the danger which threatened the army, sunk for the moment all personal grievances, and despatched an embassy to Achilles consisting of many noble and distinguished chiefs, urgently entreating him to come to the assistance of his countrymen in this their hour of peril; promising that not only should the fair Brisëis be restored to him, but also that the hand of his own daughter should be bestowed on him in marriage, with seven towns as her dowry. But the obstinate determination of the proud hero was not to be moved; and though he listened courteously to the arguments and representations of the messengers of Agamemnon, his resolution to take no further part in the war remained unshaken.

In one of the engagements which took place soon afterwards, the Trojans, under the command of Hector, penetrated into the heart of the Greek camp, and had already commenced to burn their ships, when Patroclus, seeing the distress of his countrymen, earnestly besought Achilles to send him to the rescue at the head of the Myrmidons. The better nature of the hero prevailed, and he not only intrusted to his friend the command of [294]his brave band of warriors, but lent him also his own suit of armour.

Patroclus having mounted the war-chariot of the hero, Achilles lifted on high a golden goblet and poured out a libation of wine to the gods, accompanied by an earnest petition for victory, and the safe return of his beloved comrade. As a parting injunction he warned Patroclus against advancing too far into the territory of the enemy, and entreated him to be content with rescuing the galleys.

At the head of the Myrmidons Patroclus now made a desperate attack upon the enemy, who, thinking that the invincible Achilles was himself in command of his battalions, became disheartened, and were put to flight. Patroclus followed up his victory and pursued the Trojans as far as the walls of their city, altogether forgetting in the excitement of battle the injunction of his friend Achilles. But his temerity cost the young hero his life, for he now encountered the mighty Hector himself, and fell by his hands. Hector stripped the armour from his dead foe, and would have dragged the body into the city had not Menelaus and Ajax the Greater rushed forward, and after a long and fierce struggle succeeded in rescuing it from desecration.

Death of Hector.—And now came the mournful task of informing Achilles of the fate of his friend. He wept bitterly over the dead body of his comrade, and solemnly vowed that the funereal rites should not be solemnized in his honour until he had slain Hector with his own hands, and captured twelve Trojans to be immolated on his funeral pyre. All other considerations vanished before the burning desire to avenge the death of his friend; and Achilles, now thoroughly aroused from his apathy, became reconciled to Agamemnon, and rejoined the Greek army. At the request of the goddess Thetis, Hephæstus forged for him a new suit of armour, which far surpassed in magnificence that of all the other heroes.

Thus gloriously arrayed he was soon seen striding [295]along, calling the Greeks to arms. He now led the troops against the enemy, who were defeated and put to flight until, near the gates of the city, Achilles and Hector encountered each other. But here, for the first time throughout his whole career, the courage of the Trojan hero deserted him. At the near approach of his redoubtable antagonist he turned and fled for his life. Achilles pursued him; and thrice round the walls of the city was the terrible race run, in sight of the old king and queen, who had mounted the walls to watch the battle. Hector endeavoured, during each course, to reach the city gates, so that his comrades might open them to admit him or cover him with their missiles; but his adversary, seeing his design, forced him into the open plain, at the same time calling to his friends to hurl no spear upon his foe, but to leave to him the vengeance he had so long panted for. At length, wearied with the hot pursuit, Hector made a stand and challenged his foe to single combat. A desperate encounter took place, in which Hector succumbed to his powerful adversary at the Scæan gate; and with his last dying breath the Trojan hero foretold to his conqueror that he himself would soon perish on the same spot.

The infuriated victor bound the lifeless corse of his fallen foe to his chariot, and dragged it three times round the city walls and thence to the Greek camp. Overwhelmed with horror at this terrible scene the aged parents of Hector uttered such heart-rending cries of anguish that they reached the ears of Andromache, his faithful wife, who, rushing to the walls, beheld the dead body of her husband, bound to the conqueror's car.

Achilles now solemnized the funereal rites in honour of his friend Patroclus. The dead body of the hero was borne to the funeral pile by the Myrmidons in full panoply. His dogs and horses were then slain to accompany him, in case he should need them in the realm of shades; after which Achilles, in fulfilment of his savage vow, slaughtered twelve brave Trojan captives, who were [296]laid on the funeral pyre, which was now lighted. When all was consumed the bones of Patroclus were carefully collected and inclosed in a golden urn. Then followed the funereal games, which consisted of chariot-races, fighting with the cestus (a sort of boxing-glove), wrestling matches, foot-races, and single combats with shield and spear, in all of which the most distinguished heroes took part, and contended for the prizes.

Penthesilea.—After the death of Hector, their great hope and bulwark, the Trojans did not venture beyond the walls of their city. But soon their hopes were revived by the appearance of a powerful army of Amazons under the command of their queen Penthesilea, a daughter of Ares, whose great ambition was to measure swords with the renowned Achilles himself, and to avenge the death of the valiant Hector.

Hostilities now recommenced in the open plain. Penthesilea led the Trojan host; the Greeks on their side being under the command of Achilles and Ajax. Whilst the latter succeeded in putting the enemy to flight, Achilles was challenged by Penthesilea to single combat. With heroic courage she went forth to the fight; but even the strongest men failed before the power of the great Achilles, and though a daughter of Ares, Penthesilea was but a woman. With generous chivalry the hero endeavoured to spare the brave and beautiful maiden-warrior, and only when his own life was in imminent danger did he make a serious effort to vanquish his enemy, when Penthesilea shared the fate of all who ventured to oppose the spear of Achilles, and fell by his hand.

Feeling herself fatally wounded, she remembered the desecration of the dead body of Hector, and earnestly entreated the forbearance of the hero. But the petition was hardly necessary, for Achilles, full of compassion for his brave but unfortunate adversary, lifted her gently from the ground, and she expired in his arms.

On beholding the dead body of their leader in the [297]possession of Achilles, the Amazons and Trojans prepared for a fresh attack in order to wrest it from his hands; but observing their purpose, Achilles stepped forward and loudly called upon them to halt. Then in a few well-chosen words he praised the great valour and intrepidity of the fallen queen, and expressed his willingness to resign the body at once.

The chivalrous conduct of Achilles was fully appreciated by both Greeks and Trojans. Thersites alone, a base and cowardly wretch, attributed unworthy motives to the gracious proceedings of the hero; and, not content with these insinuations, he savagely pierced with his lance the dead body of the Amazonian queen; whereupon Achilles, with one blow of his powerful arm, felled him to the ground, and killed him on the spot.

The well-merited death of Thersites excited no commiseration, but his kinsman Diomedes came forward and claimed compensation for the murder of his relative; and as Agamemnon, who, as commander-in-chief, might easily have settled the difficulty, refrained from interfering, the proud nature of Achilles resented the implied condemnation of his conduct, and he once more abandoned the Greek army and took ship for Lesbos. Odysseus, however, followed him to the island, and, with his usual tact, succeeded in inducing the hero to return to the camp.

Death of Achilles.—A new ally of the Trojans now appeared on the field in the person of Memnon, the Æthiopian, a son of Eos and Tithonus, who brought with him a powerful reinforcement of negroes. Memnon was the first opponent who had yet encountered Achilles on an equal footing; for like the great hero himself he was the son of a goddess, and possessed also, like Achilles, a suit of armour made for him by Hephæstus.

Before the heroes encountered each other in single combat, the two goddesses, Thetis and Eos, hastened to Olympus to intercede with its mighty ruler for the life of their sons. Resolved even in this instance not to act in opposition to the Moiræ, Zeus seized the golden scales [298]in which he weighed the lot of mortals, and placed in it the respective fates of the two heroes, whereupon that of Memnon weighed down the balance, thus portending his death.

Eos abandoned Olympus in despair. Arrived on the battlefield she beheld the lifeless body of her son, who, after a long and brave defence, had at length succumbed to the all-conquering arm of Achilles. At her command her children, the Winds, flew down to the plain, and seizing the body of the slain hero conveyed it through the air safe from the desecration of the enemy.

The triumph of Achilles was not of long duration. Intoxicated with success he attempted, at the head of the Greek army, to storm the city of Troy, when Paris, by the aid of Phœbus-Apollo, aimed a well-directed dart at the hero, which pierced his vulnerable heel, and he fell to the ground fatally wounded before the Scæan gate. But though face to face with death, the intrepid hero, raising himself from the ground, still performed prodigies of valour, and not until his tottering limbs refused their office was the enemy aware that the wound was mortal.

By the combined efforts of Ajax and Odysseus the body of Achilles was wrested from the enemy after a long and terrible fight, and conveyed to the Greek camp. Weeping bitterly over the untimely fate of her gallant son, Thetis came to embrace him for the last time, and mingled her regrets and lamentations with those of the whole Greek army. The funeral pyre was then lighted, and the voices of the Muses were heard chanting his funeral dirge. When, according to the custom of the ancients, the body had been burned on the pyre, the bones of the hero were collected, inclosed in a golden urn, and deposited beside the remains of his beloved friend Patroclus.

In the funereal games celebrated in honour of the fallen hero, the property of her son was offered by Thetis as the prize of victory. But it was unanimously agreed that the beautiful suit of armour made by Hephæstus should be awarded to him who had contributed the most to the [299]rescue of the body from the hands of the enemy. Popular opinion unanimously decided in favour of Odysseus, which verdict was confirmed by the Trojan prisoners who were present at the engagement. Unable to endure the slight, the unfortunate Ajax lost his reason, and in this condition put an end to his existence.

Final Measures.—Thus were the Greeks deprived at one and the same time of their bravest and most powerful leader, and of him also who approached the nearest to this distinction. For a time operations were at a standstill, until Odysseus at length, contrived by means of a cleverly-arranged ambush to capture Helenus, the son of Priam. Like his sister Cassandra, Helenus possessed the gift of prophecy, and the unfortunate youth was now coerced by Odysseus into using this gift against the welfare of his native city.

The Greeks learned from the Trojan prince that three conditions were indispensable to the conquest of Troy:—In the first place the son of Achilles must fight in their ranks; secondly, the arrows of Heracles must be used against the enemy; and thirdly, they must obtain possession of the wooden image of Pallas-Athene, the famous Palladium of Troy.

The first condition was easily fulfilled. Ever ready to serve the interests of the community, Odysseus repaired to the island of Scyros, where he found Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. Having succeeded in arousing the ambition of the fiery youth, he generously resigned to him the magnificent armour of his father, and then conveyed him to the Greek camp, where he immediately distinguished himself in single combat with Eurypylus, the son of Telephus, who had come to the aid of the Trojans.

To procure the poison-dipped arrows of Heracles was a matter of greater difficulty. They were still in the possession of the much-aggrieved Philoctetes, who had remained in the island of Lemnos, his wound still unhealed, suffering the most abject misery. But the [300]judicious zeal of the indefatigable and ever-active Odysseus, who was accompanied in this undertaking by Diomedes, at length gained the day, and he induced Philoctetes to accompany him to the camp, where the skilful leech Machaon, the son of Asclepias, healed him of his wound.

Philoctetes became reconciled to Agamemnon, and in an engagement which took place soon after, he mortally wounded Paris, the son of Priam. But though pierced by the fatal arrow of the demi-god, death did not immediately ensue; and Paris, calling to mind the prediction of an oracle, that his deserted wife Œnone could alone cure him if wounded, caused himself to be transported to her abode on Mount Ida, where he implored her by the memory of their past love to save his life. But mindful only of her wrongs, Œnone crushed out of her heart every womanly feeling of pity and compassion, and sternly bade him depart. Soon, however, all her former affection for her husband awoke within her. With frantic haste she followed him; but on her arrival in the city she found the dead body of Paris already laid on the lighted funeral pile, and, in her remorse and despair, Œnone threw herself on the lifeless form of her husband and perished in the flames.

The Trojans were now shut up within their walls and closely besieged; but the third and most difficult condition being still unfulfilled, all efforts to take the city were unavailing. In this emergency the wise and devoted Odysseus came once more to the aid of his comrades. Having disfigured himself with self-inflicted wounds, he assumed the disguise of a wretched old mendicant, and then crept stealthily into the city in order to discover where the Palladium was preserved. He succeeded in his object, and was recognized by no one save the fair Helen, who after the death of Paris had been given in marriage to his brother Deiphobus. But since death had robbed her of her lover, the heart of the Greek princess had turned yearningly towards her native country and her husband Menelaus, and Odysseus now found in her a most unlooked-for ally. On his return to the camp [301]Odysseus called to his aid the valiant Diomedes, and with his assistance the perilous task of abstracting the Palladium from its sacred precincts was, after some difficulty, effected.

The conditions of conquest being now fulfilled, a council was called to decide on final proceedings. Epeios, a Greek sculptor, who had accompanied the expedition, was desired to construct a colossal wooden horse large enough to contain a number of able and distinguished heroes. On its completion a band of warriors concealed themselves within, whereupon the Greek army broke up their camp, and then set fire to it, as though, wearied of the long and tedious ten years' siege, they had abandoned the enterprise as hopeless.

Accompanied by Agamemnon and the sage Nestor, the fleet set sail for the island of Tenedos, where they cast anchor, anxiously awaiting the torch signal to hasten back to the Trojan coast.

Destruction of Troy.—When the Trojans saw the enemy depart, and the Greek camp in flames, they believed themselves safe at last, and streamed in great numbers out of the town in order to view the site where the Greeks had so long encamped. Here they found the gigantic wooden horse, which they examined with wondering curiosity, various opinions being expressed with regard to its utility. Some supposed it to be an engine of war, and were in favour of destroying it, others regarded it as a sacred idol, and proposed that it should be brought into the city. Two circumstances which now occurred induced the Trojans to incline towards the latter opinion.

Chief among those who suspected a treacherous design in this huge contrivance was Laocoon, a priest of Apollo, who, in company with his two young sons, had issued from the city with the Trojans in order to offer a sacrifice to the gods. With all the eloquence at his command he urged his countrymen not to place confidence in any gift of the Greeks, and even went so far as to pierce the [302]side of the horse with a spear which he took from a warrior beside him, whereupon the arms of the heroes were heard to rattle. The hearts of the brave men concealed inside the horse quailed within them, and they had already given themselves up for lost, when Pallas-Athene, who ever watched over the cause of the Greeks, now came to their aid, and a miracle occurred in order to blind and deceive the devoted Trojans;—for the fall of Troy was decreed by the gods.

Laocoon and his sons

Whilst Laocoon with his two sons stood prepared to perform the sacrifice, two enormous serpents suddenly rose out of the sea, and made direct for the altar. They entwined themselves first round the tender limbs of the helpless youths, and then encircled their father who rushed to their assistance, and thus all three were destroyed in sight of the horrified multitude. The Trojans naturally interpreted the fate of Laocoon and his sons to be a punishment sent by Zeus for his sacrilege against the wooden horse, and were now fully convinced that it must be consecrated to the gods.

The crafty Odysseus had left behind his trusty friend Sinon with full instructions as to his course of action. Assuming the rôle assigned to him, he now approached king Priam with fettered hands and piteous entreaties, alleging that the Greeks, in obedience to the command of an oracle, had attempted to immolate him as a sacrifice; but that he had contrived to escape from their hands, and now sought protection from the king.

The kind-hearted monarch, believing his story, released [303]his bonds, assured him of his favour, and then begged him to explain the true meaning of the wooden horse. Sinon willingly complied. He informed the king that Pallas-Athene, who had hitherto been the hope and stay of the Greeks throughout the war, was so deeply offended at the removal of her sacred image, the Palladium, from her temple in Troy, that she had withdrawn her protection from the Greeks, and refused all further aid till it was restored to its rightful place. Hence the Greeks had returned home in order to seek fresh instructions from an oracle. But before leaving, Calchas the seer had advised their building this gigantic wooden horse as a tribute to the offended goddess, hoping thereby to appease her just anger. He further explained that it had been constructed of such colossal proportions in order to prevent its being brought into the city, so that the favour of Pallas-Athene might not be transferred to the Trojans.

Hardly had the crafty Sinon ceased speaking when the Trojans, with one accord, urged that the wooden horse should be brought into their city without delay. The gates being too low to admit its entrance, a breach was made in the walls, and the horse was conveyed in triumph into the very heart of Troy; whereupon the Trojans, overjoyed at what they deemed the successful issue of the campaign, abandoned themselves to feasting and rioting.

Amidst the universal rejoicing the unhappy Cassandra, foreseeing the result of the admission of the wooden horse into the city, was seen rushing through the streets with wild gestures and dishevelled hair, warning her people against the dangers which awaited them. But her eloquent words fell on deaf ears; for it was ever the fate of the unfortunate prophetess that her predictions should find no credence.

When, after the day's excitement, the Trojans had retired to rest, and all was hushed and silent, Sinon, in the dead of night, released the heroes from their voluntary imprisonment. The signal was then given to the Greek fleet lying off Tenedos, and the whole army in unbroken silence once more landed on the Trojan coast.[304]

To enter the city was now an easy matter, and a fearful slaughter ensued. Aroused from their slumbers, the Trojans, under the command of their bravest leaders, made a gallant defence, but were easily overcome. All their most valiant heroes fell in the fight, and soon the whole city was wrapt in flames.

Priam fell by the hand of Neoptolemus, who killed him as he lay prostrate before the altar of Zeus, praying for divine assistance in this awful hour of peril. The unfortunate Andromache with her young son Astyanax had taken refuge on the summit of a tower, where she was discovered by the victors, who, fearing lest the son of Hector might one day rise against them to avenge the death of his father, tore him from her arms and hurled him over the battlements.

Æneas alone, the son of Aphrodite, the beloved of gods and men, escaped the universal carnage with his son and his old father Anchises, whom he carried on his shoulders out of the city. He first sought refuge on Mount Ida, and afterwards fled to Italy, where he became the ancestral hero of the Roman people.

Menelaus now sought Helen in the royal palace, who, being immortal, still retained all her former beauty and fascination. A reconciliation took place, and she accompanied her husband on his homeward voyage. Andromache, the widow of the brave Hector, was given in marriage to Neoptolemus, Cassandra fell to the share of Agamemnon, and Hecuba, the gray-haired and widowed queen, was made prisoner by Odysseus.

The boundless treasures of the wealthy Trojan king fell into the hands of the Greek heroes, who, after having levelled the city of Troy to the ground, prepared for their homeward voyage.


During the sacking of the city of Troy the Greeks, in the hour of victory, committed many acts of desecration and cruelty, which called down upon them the wrath of the[305]gods, for which reason their homeward voyage was beset with manifold dangers and disasters, and many perished before they reached their native land.

Nestor, Diomedes, Philoctetes, and Neoptolemus were among those who arrived safely in Greece after a prosperous voyage. The vessel which carried Menelaus and Helen was driven by violent tempests to the coast of Egypt, and only after many years of weary wanderings and vicissitudes did they succeed in reaching their home at Sparta.

Ajax the Lesser having offended Pallas-Athene by desecrating her temple on the night of the destruction of Troy, was shipwrecked off Cape Caphareus. He succeeded, however, in clinging to a rock, and his life might have been spared but for his impious boast that he needed not the help of the gods. No sooner had he uttered the sacrilegious words than Poseidon, enraged at his audacity, split with his trident the rock to which the hero was clinging, and the unfortunate Ajax was overwhelmed by the waves.

Fate of Agamemnon.—The homeward voyage of Agamemnon was tolerably uneventful and prosperous; but on his arrival at Mycenæ misfortune and ruin awaited him.

His wife Clytemnestra, in revenge for the sacrifice of her beloved daughter Iphigenia, had formed a secret alliance during his absence with Ægisthus, the son of Thyestes, and on the return of Agamemnon they both conspired to compass his destruction. Clytemnestra feigned the greatest joy on beholding her husband, and in spite of the urgent warnings of Cassandra, who was now a captive in his train, he received her protestations of affection with the most trusting confidence. In her well-assumed anxiety for the comfort of the weary traveller, she prepared a warm bath for his refreshment, and at a given signal from the treacherous queen, Ægisthus, who was concealed in an adjoining chamber, rushed upon the defenceless hero and slew him.[306]

During the massacre of the retainers of Agamemnon which followed, his daughter Electra, with great presence of mind, contrived to save her young brother Orestes. He fled for refuge to his uncle Strophius, king of Phocis, who educated him with his own son Pylades, and an ardent friendship sprung up between the youths, which, from its constancy and disinterestedness, has become proverbial.

As Orestes grew up to manhood, his one great all-absorbing desire was to avenge the death of his father. Accompanied by his faithful friend Pylades, he repaired in disguise to Mycenæ, where Ægisthus and Clytemnestra reigned conjointly over the kingdom of Argos. In order to disarm suspicion he had taken the precaution to despatch a messenger to Clytemnestra, purporting to be sent by king Strophius, to announce to her the untimely death of her son Orestes through an accident during a chariot-race at Delphi.

Arrived at Mycenæ, he found his sister Electra so overwhelmed with grief at the news of her brother's death that to her he revealed his identity. When he heard from her lips how cruelly she had been treated by her mother, and how joyfully the news of his demise had been received, his long pent-up passion completely overpowered him, and rushing into the presence of the king and queen, he first pierced Clytemnestra to the heart, and afterwards her guilty partner.

But the crime of murdering his own mother was not long unavenged by the gods. Hardly was the fatal act committed when the Furies appeared and unceasingly pursued the unfortunate Orestes wherever he went. In this wretched plight he sought refuge in the temple of Delphi, where he earnestly besought Apollo to release him from his cruel tormentors. The god commanded him, in expiation of his crime, to repair to Taurica-Chersonnesus and convey the statue of Artemis from thence to the kingdom of Attica, an expedition fraught with extreme peril. We have already seen in a former chapter how Orestes escaped the fate which befell all strangers [307]who landed on the Taurian coast, and how, with the aid of his sister Iphigenia, the priestess of the temple, he succeeded in conveying the statue of the goddess to his native country.

But the Furies did not so easily relinquish their prey, and only by means of the interposition of the just and powerful goddess Pallas-Athene was Orestes finally liberated from their persecution. His peace of mind being at length restored, Orestes assumed the government of the kingdom of Argos, and became united to the beautiful Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaus. On his faithful friend Pylades he bestowed the hand of his beloved sister, the good and faithful Electra.

Homeward Voyage of Odysseus.—With his twelve ships laden with enormous treasures, captured during the sacking of Troy, Odysseus set sail with a light heart for his rocky island home of Ithaca. At length the happy hour had arrived which for ten long years the hero had so anxiously awaited, and he little dreamt that ten more must elapse before he would be permitted by the Fates to clasp to his heart his beloved wife and child.

During his homeward voyage his little fleet was driven by stress of weather to a land whose inhabitants subsisted entirely on a curious plant called the lotus, which was sweet as honey to the taste, but had the effect of causing utter oblivion of home and country, and of creating an irresistible longing to remain for ever in the land of the lotus-eaters. Odysseus and his companions were hospitably received by the inhabitants, who regaled them freely with their peculiar and very delicious food; after partaking of which, however, the comrades of the hero refused to leave the country, and it was only by sheer force that he at length succeeded in bringing them back to their ships.

Polyphemus.—Continuing their journey, they next arrived at the country of the Cyclops, a race of giants remarkable for having only one eye, which was placed in the centre of their foreheads. Here Odysseus, whose love of adventure overcame more prudent considerations, [308]left his fleet safely anchored in the bay of a neighbouring island, and with twelve chosen companions set out to explore the country.

Near the shore they found a vast cave, into which they boldly entered. In the interior they saw to their surprise huge piles of cheese and great pails of milk ranged round the walls. After partaking freely of these provisions his companions endeavoured to persuade Odysseus to return to the ship; but the hero being curious to make the acquaintance of the owner of this extraordinary abode, ordered them to remain and await his pleasure.

Towards evening a fierce giant made his appearance, bearing an enormous load of wood upon his shoulders, and driving before him a large flock of sheep. This was Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon, the owner of the cave. After all his sheep had entered, the giant rolled before the entrance to the cave an enormous rock, which the combined strength of a hundred men would have been powerless to move.

Having kindled a fire of great logs of pine-wood he was about to prepare his supper when the flames revealed to him, in a corner of the cavern, its new occupants, who now came forward and informed him that they were shipwrecked mariners, and claimed his hospitality in the name of Zeus. But the fierce monster railed at the great ruler of Olympus—for the lawless Cyclops knew no fear of the gods—and hardly vouchsafed a reply to the demand of the hero. To the consternation of Odysseus the giant seized two of his companions, and, after dashing them to the ground, consumed their remains, washing down the ghastly meal with huge draughts of milk. He then stretched his gigantic limbs on the ground, and soon fell fast asleep beside the fire.

Thinking the opportunity a favourable one to rid himself and his companions of their terrible enemy, Odysseus drew his sword, and, creeping stealthily forward, was about to slay the giant when he suddenly remembered that the aperture of the cave was effectually closed by the immense rock, which rendered egress impossible. He[309]therefore wisely determined to wait until the following day, and set his wits to work in the meantime to devise a scheme by which he and his companions might make their escape.

When, early next morning, the giant awoke, two more unfortunate companions of the hero were seized by him and devoured; after which Polyphemus leisurely drove out his flock, taking care to secure the entrance of the cave as before.

Next evening the giant devoured two more of his victims, and when he had finished his revolting meal Odysseus stepped forward and presented him with a large measure of wine which he had brought with him from his ship in a goat's skin. Delighted with the delicious beverage the giant inquired the name of the donor. Odysseus replied that his name was Noman, whereupon Polyphemus, graciously announced that he would evince his gratitude by eating him the last.

The monster, thoroughly overcome with the powerful old liquor, soon fell into a heavy sleep, and Odysseus lost no time in putting his plans into execution. He had cut during the day a large piece of the giant's own olive-staff, which he now heated in the fire, and, aided by his companions, thrust it into the eye-ball of Polyphemus, and in this manner effectually blinded him.

The giant made the cave resound with his howls of pain and rage. His cries being heard by his brother Cyclops, who lived in caves not far distant from his own, they soon came trooping over the hills from all sides, and assailed the door of the cave with inquiries concerning the cause of his cries and groans. But as his only reply was, "Noman has injured me," they concluded that he had been playing them a trick, and therefore abandoned him to his fate.

The blinded giant now groped vainly round his cave in hopes of laying hands on some of his tormentors; but wearied at length of these fruitless exertions he rolled away the rock which closed the aperture, thinking that his victims would rush out with the sheep, when it would [310]be an easy matter to capture them. But in the meantime Odysseus had not been idle, and the subtlety of the hero was now brought into play, and proved more than a match for the giant's strength. The sheep were very large, and Odysseus, with bands of willow taken from the bed of Polyphemus, had cleverly linked them together three abreast, and under each centre one had secured one of his comrades. After providing for the safety of his companions, Odysseus himself selected the finest ram of the flock, and, by clinging to the wool of the animal, made his escape. As the sheep passed out of the cave the giant felt carefully among them for his victims, but not finding them on the backs of the animals he let them pass, and thus they all escaped.

They now hastened on board their vessel, and Odysseus, thinking himself at a safe distance, shouted out his real name and mockingly defied the giant; whereupon Polyphemus seized a huge rock, and, following the direction of the voice, hurled it towards the ship, which narrowly escaped destruction. He then called upon his father Poseidon to avenge him, entreating him to curse Odysseus with a long and tedious voyage, to destroy all his ships and all his companions, and to make his return as late, as unhappy, and as desolate as possible.

Further Adventures.—After sailing about over unknown seas for some time the hero and his followers cast anchor at the island of Æolus, king of the Winds, who welcomed them cordially, and sumptuously entertained them for a whole month.

When they took their leave he gave Odysseus the skin of an ox, into which he had placed all the contrary winds in order to insure to them a safe and speedy voyage, and then, having cautioned him on no account to open it, caused the gentle Zephyrus to blow so that he might waft them to the shores of Greece.

On the evening of the tenth day after their departure they arrived in sight of the watch-fires of Ithaca. But here, unfortunately, Odysseus, being completely wearied [311]out, fell asleep, and his comrades, thinking Æolus had given him a treasure in the bag which he so sedulously guarded, seized this opportunity of opening it, whereupon all the adverse winds rushed out, and drove them back to the Æolian island. This time, however, Æolus did not welcome them as before, but dismissed them with bitter reproaches and upbraidings for their disregard of his injunctions.

After a six days' voyage they at length sighted land. Observing what appeared to be the smoke from a large town, Odysseus despatched a herald, accompanied by two of his comrades, in order to procure provisions. When they arrived in the city they discovered to their consternation that they had set foot in the land of the Læstrygones, a race of fierce and gigantic cannibals, governed by their king Antiphates. The unfortunate herald was seized and killed by the king; but his two companions, who took to flight, succeeded in reaching their ship in safety, and urgently entreated their chief to put to sea without delay.

But Antiphates and his fellow-giants pursued the fugitives to the sea-shore, where they now appeared in large numbers. They seized huge rocks, which they hurled upon the fleet, sinking eleven of the ships with all hands, on board; the vessel under the immediate command of Odysseus being the only one which escaped destruction. In this ship, with his few remaining followers, Odysseus now set sail, but was driven by adverse winds to an island called Ææa.

Circe.—The hero and his companions were in sore need of provisions, but, warned by previous disasters, Odysseus resolved that only a certain number of the ship's crew should be despatched to reconnoitre the country; and on lots being drawn by Odysseus and Eurylochus, it fell to the share of the latter to fill the office of conductor to the little band selected for this purpose.

They soon came to a magnificent marble palace, which was situated in a charming and fertile valley. Here [312]dwelt a beautiful enchantress called Circe, daughter of the sun-god and the sea-nymph Perse. The entrance to her abode was guarded by wolves and lions, who, however, to the great surprise of the strangers, were tame and harmless as lambs. These were, in fact, human beings who, by the wicked arts of the sorceress, had been thus transformed. From within they heard the enchanting voice of the goddess, who was singing a sweet melody as she sat at her work, weaving a web such as immortals alone could produce. She graciously invited them to enter, and all save the prudent and cautious Eurylochus accepted the invitation.

As they trod the wide and spacious halls of tesselated marble objects of wealth and beauty met their view on all sides. The soft and luxuriant couches on which she bade them be seated were studded with silver, and the banquet which she provided for their refreshment was served in vessels of pure gold. But while her unsuspecting guests were abandoning themselves to the pleasures of the table the wicked enchantress was secretly working their ruin; for the wine-cup which was presented to them was drugged with a potent draught, after partaking of which the sorceress touched them with her magic wand, and they were immediately transformed into swine, still, however, retaining their human senses.

When Odysseus heard from Eurylochus of the terrible fate which had befallen his companions he set out, regardless of personal danger, resolved to make an effort to rescue them. On his way to the palace of the sorceress he met a fair youth bearing a wand of gold, who revealed himself to him as Hermes, the divine messenger of the gods. He gently reproached the hero for his temerity in venturing to enter the abode of Circe unprovided with an antidote against her spells, and presented him with a peculiar herb called Moly, assuring him that it would inevitably counteract the baneful arts of the fell enchantress. Hermes warned Odysseus that Circe would offer him a draught of drugged wine with the intention of transforming him as she had done his companions. He bade him drink the wine, the effect of [313]which would be completely nullified by the herb which he had given him, and then rush boldly at the sorceress as though he would take her life, whereupon her power over him would cease, she would recognize her master, and grant him whatever he might desire.

Circe received the hero with all the grace and fascination at her command, and presented him with a draught of wine in a golden goblet. This he readily accepted, trusting to the efficacy of the antidote. Then, in obedience to the injunction of Hermes, he drew his sword from its scabbard and rushed upon the sorceress as though he would slay her.

When Circe found that her fell purpose was for the first time frustrated, and that a mortal had dared to attack her, she knew that it must be the great Odysseus who stood before her, whose visit to her abode had been foretold to her by Hermes. At his solicitation she restored to his companions their human form, promising at the same time that henceforth the hero and his comrades should be free from her enchantments.

But all warnings and past experience were forgotten by Odysseus when Circe commenced to exercise upon him her fascinations and blandishments. At her request his companions took up their abode in the island, and he himself became the guest and slave of the enchantress for a whole year; and it was only at the earnest admonition of his friends that he was at length induced to free himself from her toils.

Circe had become so attached to the gallant hero that it cost her a great effort to part with him, but having vowed not to exercise her magic spells against him she was powerless to detain him further. The goddess now warned him that his future would be beset with many dangers, and commanded him to consult the blind old seer Tiresias,[52] in the realm of Hades, concerning his future destiny. She then loaded his ship with provisions for the voyage, and reluctantly bade him farewell.


The Realm of Shades.—Though somewhat appalled at the prospect of seeking the weird and gloomy realms inhabited by the spirits of the dead, Odysseus nevertheless obeyed the command of the goddess, who gave him full directions with regard to his course, and also certain injunctions which it was important that he should carry out with strict attention to detail.

He accordingly set sail with his companions for the dark and gloomy land of the Cimmerians, which lay at the furthermost end of the world, beyond the great stream Oceanus. Favoured by gentle breezes they soon reached their destination in the far west. On arriving at the spot indicated by Circe, where the turbid waters of the rivers Acheron and Cocytus mingled at the entrance to the lower world, Odysseus landed, unattended by his companions.

Having dug a trench to receive the blood of the sacrifices he now offered a black ram and ewe to the powers of darkness, whereupon crowds of shades rose up from the yawning gulf, clustering round him, eager to quaff the blood of the sacrifice, which would restore to them for a time their mental vigour. But mindful of the injunction of Circe, Odysseus brandished his sword, and suffered none to approach until Tiresias had appeared. The great prophet now came slowly forward leaning on his golden staff, and after drinking of the sacrifice proceeded to impart to Odysseus the hidden secrets of his future fate. Tiresias also warned him of the numerous perils which would assail him, not only during his homeward voyage but also on his return to Ithaca, and then instructed him how to avoid them.

Meanwhile numbers of other shades had quaffed the sense-awakening draught of the sacrifice, among whom Odysseus recognized to his dismay his tenderly-loved mother Anticlea. From her he learned that she had died of grief at her son's protracted absence, and that his aged father Laertes was wearing his life away in vain and anxious longings for his return. He also conversed with the ill-fated Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Achilles. The latter [315]bemoaned his shadowy and unreal existence, and plaintively assured his former companion-in-arms that rather would he be the poorest day-labourer on earth than reign supreme as king over the realm of shades. Ajax alone, who still brooded over his wrongs, held aloof, refusing to converse with Odysseus, and sullenly retired when the hero addressed him.

But at last so many shades came swarming round him that the courage of Odysseus failed him, and he fled in terror back to his ship. Having rejoined his companions they once more put to sea, and proceeded on their homeward voyage.

The Sirens.—After some days' sail their course led them past the island of the Sirens.

Now Circe had warned Odysseus on no account to listen to the seductive melodies of these treacherous nymphs; for that all who gave ear to their enticing strains felt an unconquerable desire to leap overboard and join them, when they either perished at their hands, or were engulfed by the waves.

In order that his crew should not hear the song of the Sirens, Odysseus had filled their ears with melted wax; but the hero himself so dearly loved adventure that he could not resist the temptation of braving this new danger. By his own desire, therefore, he was lashed to the mast, and his comrades had strict orders on no account to release him until they were out of sight of the island, no matter how he might implore them to set him free.

As they neared the fatal shore they beheld the Sirens seated side by side on the verdant slopes of their island; and as their sweet and alluring strains fell upon his ear the hero became so powerfully affected by them, that, forgetful of all danger, he entreated his comrades to release him; but the sailors, obedient to their orders, refused to unbind him until the enchanted island had disappeared from view. The danger past, the hero gratefully acknowledged the firmness of his followers, which had been the means of saving his life.[316]

The Island of Helios.—They now approached the terrible dangers of Scylla and Charybdis, between which Circe had desired them to pass. As Odysseus steered the vessel beneath the great rock, Scylla swooped down and seized six of his crew from the deck, and the cries of her wretched victims long rang in his ears. At length they reached the island of Trinacria (Sicily), whereon the sun-god pastured his flocks and herds, and Odysseus, calling to mind the warning of Tiresias to avoid this sacred island, would fain have steered the vessel past and left the country unexplored. But his crew became mutinous, and insisted on landing. Odysseus was therefore obliged to yield, but before allowing them to set foot on shore he made them take an oath not to touch the sacred herds of Helios, and to be ready to sail again on the following morning.

It happened, unfortunately, however, that stress of weather compelled them to remain a whole month at Trinacria, and the store of wine and food given to them by Circe at parting being completely exhausted, they were obliged to subsist on what fish and birds the island afforded. Frequently there was not sufficient to satisfy their hunger, and one evening when Odysseus, worn out with anxiety and fatigue, had fallen asleep, Eurylochus persuaded the hungry men to break their vows and kill some of the sacred oxen.

Dreadful was the anger of Helios, who caused the hides of the slaughtered animals to creep and the joints on the spits to bellow like living cattle, and threatened that unless Zeus punished the impious crew he would withdraw his light from the heavens and shine only in Hades. Anxious to appease the enraged deity Zeus assured him that his cause should be avenged. When, therefore, after feasting for seven days Odysseus and his companions again set sail, the ruler of Olympus caused a terrible storm to overtake them, during which the ship was struck with lightning and went to pieces. All the crew were drowned except Odysseus, who, clinging to a mast, floated about in the open sea for nine days, when, after once more [317]escaping being sucked in by the whirlpool of Charybdis, he was cast ashore on the island of Ogygia.

Calypso.—Ogygia was an island covered with dense forests, where, in the midst of a grove of cypress and poplar, stood the charming grotto-palace of the nymph Calypso, daughter of the Titan Atlas. The entrance to the grotto was entwined with a leafy trellis-work of vine-branches, from which depended clusters of purple and golden grapes; the plashing of fountains gave a delicious sense of coolness to the air, which was filled with the songs of birds, and the ground was carpeted with violets and mosses.

Calypso cordially welcomed the forlorn and shipwrecked hero, and hospitably ministered to his wants. In the course of time she became so greatly attached to him that she offered him immortality and eternal youth if he would consent to remain with her for ever. But the heart of Odysseus turned yearningly towards his beloved wife Penelope and his young son. He therefore refused the boon, and earnestly entreated the gods to permit him to revisit his home. But the curse of Poseidon still followed the unfortunate hero, and for seven long years he was detained on the island by Calypso, sorely against his will.

At length Pallas-Athene interceded with her mighty father on his behalf, and Zeus, yielding to her request, forthwith despatched the fleet-footed Hermes to Calypso, commanding her to permit Odysseus to depart and to provide him with the means of transport.

The goddess, though loath to part with her guest, dared not disobey the commands of the mighty Zeus. She therefore instructed the hero how to construct a raft, for which she herself wove the sails. Odysseus now bade her farewell, and alone and unaided embarked on the frail little craft for his native land.

Nausicaa.—For seventeen days Odysseus contrived to pilot the raft skilfully through all the perils of the deep, directing his course according to the directions [318]of Calypso, and guided by the stars of heaven. On the eighteenth day he joyfully hailed the distant outline of the Phæacian coast, and began to look forward hopefully to temporary rest and shelter. But Poseidon, still enraged with the hero who had blinded and insulted his son, caused an awful tempest to arise, during which the raft was swamped by the waves, and Odysseus only saved himself by clinging for bare life to a portion of the wreck.

For two days and nights he floated about, drifted hither and thither by the angry billows, till at last, after many a narrow escape of his life, the sea-goddess Leucothea came to his aid, and he was cast ashore on the coast of Scheria, the island of the luxurious Phæaces. Worn out with the hardships and dangers he had passed through he crept into a thicket for security, and, lying down on a bed of dried leaves, soon fell fast asleep.

It chanced that Nausicaa, the beautiful daughter of king Alcinous and his queen Arete, had come down to the shore, accompanied by her maidens, to wash the linen which was destined to form part of her marriage portion. When they had finished their task they bathed and sat down to a repast, after which they amused themselves with singing and playing at ball.

Their joyous shouts at last awoke Odysseus, who, rising from his hiding place, suddenly found himself in the midst of the happy group. Alarmed at his wild aspect the attendants of Nausicaa fled in terror; but the princess, pitying the forlorn condition of the stranger, addressed him with kind and sympathetic words. After hearing from him the account of his shipwreck and the terrible hardships he had undergone, Nausicaa called back her attendants, reproached them for their want of courtesy, and bade them supply the wanderer with food, drink, and suitable raiment. Odysseus then left the maidens to resume their games, whilst he bathed and clothed himself with the garments with which they had furnished him. Athene now appeared to the hero and endowed him with a commanding and magnificent stature, and with more than mortal beauty. When he reappeared, the young [319]princess was struck with admiration, and requested the hero to visit the palace of her father. She then desired her attendants to yoke the mules to the wagons and prepare to return home.

Odysseus was cordially received by the king and queen, who entertained him with magnificent hospitality, and in return for their kindness the hero related to them the history of his long and eventful voyage, and the many extraordinary adventures and miraculous escapes which had befallen him since his departure from the coast of Ilion.

When he at last took leave of his royal entertainers Alcinous loaded him with rich gifts, and ordered him to be conveyed in one of his own ships to Ithaca.

Arrival at Ithaca.—The voyage was a short and prosperous one. By the direction of king Alcinous rich furs had been laid on deck for the comfort of his guest, on which the hero, leaving the guidance of the ship to the Phæacian sailors, soon fell into a deep sleep. When next morning the vessel arrived in the harbour of Ithaca the sailors, concluding that so unusually profound a slumber must be sent by the gods, conveyed him on shore without disturbing him, where they gently placed him beneath the cool shade of an olive-tree.

When Odysseus awoke he knew not where he was, for his ever-watchful protectress Pallas-Athene had enveloped him in a thick cloud in order to conceal him from view. She now appeared to him in the disguise of a shepherd, and informed him that he was in his native land; that his father Laertes, bent with sorrow and old age, had withdrawn from the court; that his son Telemachus had grown to manhood, and was gone to seek for tidings of his father; and that his wife Penelope was harassed by the importunities of numerous suitors, who had taken possession of his home and devoured his substance. In order to gain time Penelope had promised to marry one of her lovers as soon as she had finished weaving a robe for the aged Laertes; but by secretly undoing at night [320]what she had done in the day she effectually retarded the completion of the work, and thus deferred her final reply. Just as Odysseus had set foot in Ithaca the angry suitors had discovered her stratagem, and had become in consequence more clamorous than ever. When the hero heard that this was indeed his native land, which, after an absence of twenty years, the gods had at length permitted him to behold once more, he threw himself on the ground, and kissed it in an ecstacy of joy.

The goddess, who had meanwhile revealed her identity to Odysseus, now assisted him to conceal in a neighbouring cave the valuable gifts of the Phæacian king. Then seating herself beside him she consulted with him as to the best means of ridding his palace of its shameless occupants.

In order to prevent his being recognized she caused him to assume the form of an aged mendicant. His limbs became decrepid, his brown locks vanished, his eyes grew dim and bleared, and the regal robes given to him by king Alcinous were replaced by a tattered garb of dingy hue, which hung loosely round his shrunken form. Athene then desired him to seek shelter in the hut of Eumæus his own swine-herd.

Eumæus received the old beggar hospitably, kindly ministered to his wants, and even confided to him his distress at the long continued absence of his beloved old master, and his regrets at being compelled by the unruly invaders of his house, to slaughter for their use all the finest and fattest of the herd.

It chanced that the following morning Telemachus returned from his long and fruitless search for his father, and going first to the hut of Eumæus, heard from him the story of the seeming beggar whom he promised to befriend. Athene now urged Odysseus to make himself known to his son; and at her touch his beggar's rags disappeared, and he stood before Telemachus arrayed in royal robes and in the full strength and vigour of manhood. So imposing was the appearance of the hero that at first the young prince thought he must be a god; but when [321]he was convinced that it was indeed his beloved father, whose prolonged absence had caused him so much grief, he fell upon his neck and embraced him with every expression of dutiful affection.

Odysseus charged Telemachus to keep his return a secret, and concerted with him a plan whereby they might rid themselves of the detested suitors. In order to carry it into effect Telemachus was to induce his mother to promise her hand to the one who could conquer in shooting with the famous bow of Odysseus, which the hero had left behind when he went to Troy, deeming it too precious a treasure to be taken with him. Odysseus now resumed his beggar's dress and appearance and accompanied his son to the palace, before the door of which lay his faithful dog Argo, who, though worn and feeble with age and neglect, instantly recognized his master. In his delight the poor animal made a last effort to welcome him; but his strength was exhausted, and he expired at his feet.

When Odysseus entered his ancestral halls he was mocked and reviled by the riotous suitors, and Antinous, the most shameless of them all, ridiculed his abject appearance, and insolently bade him depart; but Penelope hearing of their cruel conduct, was touched with compassion, and desired her maidens to bring the poor mendicant into her presence. She spoke kindly to him, inquiring who he was and whence he came. He told her that he was the brother of the king of Crete, in whose palace he had seen Odysseus, who was about starting for Ithaca, and had declared his intention of arriving there before the year was out. The queen, overjoyed at the happy tidings, ordered her maidens to prepare a bed for the stranger, and to treat him as an honoured guest. She then desired the old nurse Euryclea to provide him with suitable raiment and to attend to all his wants.

As the old servant was bathing his feet her eyes fell upon a scar which Odysseus had received in his youth from the tusks of a wild boar; and instantly recognizing the beloved master whom she had nursed as a babe, she [322]would have cried aloud in her joy, but the hero placing his hand upon her mouth, implored her not to betray him.

The next day was a festival of Apollo, and the suitors in honour of the occasion feasted with more than their accustomed revelry. After the banquet was over Penelope, taking down the great bow of Odysseus from its place, entered the hall and declared that whosoever of her lovers could bend it and send an arrow through twelve rings (a feat which she had often seen Odysseus perform) should be chosen by her as her husband.

All the suitors tried their skill, but in vain; not one possessed the strength required to draw the bow. Odysseus now stepped forward and asked permission to be allowed to try, but the haughty nobles mocked at his audacity, and would not have permitted it had not Telemachus interfered. The pretended beggar took up the bow, and with the greatest ease sent an arrow whizzing through the rings; then turning to Antinous, who was just raising a goblet of wine to his lips, he pierced him to the heart. At this the suitors sprang to their feet and looked round for their arms; but in obedience to the instructions of Odysseus Telemachus had previously removed them. He and his father now attacked the riotous revellers, and after a desperate encounter not one of the whole crew remained alive.

The joyful intelligence of the return of Odysseus being conveyed to Penelope she descended to the hall, but refused to recognize, in the aged beggar, her gallant husband; whereupon he retired to the bath, from which he emerged in all the vigour and beauty with which Athene had endowed him at the court of Alcinous. But Penelope, still incredulous, determined to put him to a sure test. She therefore commanded in his hearing that his own bed should be brought from his chamber. Now the foot of this bed had been fashioned by Odysseus himself out of the stem of an olive-tree which was still rooted in the ground, and round it he had built the walls of the chamber. Knowing therefore that the bed could not be moved, he exclaimed that the errand was useless, for that no [323]mortal could stir it from its place. Then Penelope knew that it must be Odysseus himself who stood before her, and a most touching and affectionate meeting took place between the long-separated husband and wife.

The following day the hero set out to seek his old father Laertes, whom he found on one of his estates in the country engaged in digging up a young olive-tree. The poor old man, who was dressed in the humble garb of a labourer, bore the traces of deep grief on his furrowed countenance, and so shocked was his son at the change in his appearance that for a moment he turned aside to conceal his tears.

When Odysseus revealed himself to his father as the son whom he had so long mourned as lost, the joy of the poor old man was almost greater than he could bear. With loving care Odysseus led him into the house, where at length, for the first time since the departure of his son, Laertes once more resumed his regal robes, and piously thanked the gods for this great and unlooked-for happiness.

But not yet was the hero permitted to enjoy his well-earned repose, for the friends and relatives of the suitors now rose in rebellion against him and pursued him to the abode of his father. The struggle, however, was but a short one. After a brief contest negotiations of a peaceful nature were entered into between Odysseus and his subjects. Recognizing the justice of his cause, they became reconciled to their chief, who for many years continued to reign over them.



[Note.—The system of pronunciation here followed is the English system, because it is the one at present most used among English-speaking peoples. In it the letters have substantially their English sound. Upon the continent of Europe the pronunciation of Latin and Greek is in like manner made to correspond in each nation to the pronunciation of its own language, and thus there is much diversity among the continental systems, though they resemble each other more closely than they do the English. In England and America also the continental methods of pronunciation have been extensively used. Thus Æneas may be pronounced A-na´-ahss; Aïdes ah-ee´-daze. Since the true, the ancient, pronunciation has been lost, and, as many contend, cannot be even substantially recovered, it is a matter of individual preference what system shall be followed.]


Abderus (ab-dee´-rus), 244.

Absyrtus (ab-sir´-tus), 226.

Academus (ak-ă-dee´-mus), 268.

Achelous (ak-e-lo´-us), 254278.

Acheron (ak´-e-ron), 132250.

Achilles (ă-kil´-leez), 131291287297.

Acis (ā´-sis), 105167.

Acrisius (ă-crish´-e-us), 189205209.

Acropolis (ă-crop´-o-lis), 189.

Actæon (ak-tee´-on), 91.

Admete (ad-mee´-te), 244.

Admetus (ad-mee´-tus), 76119216.

Adonis (ă-don´-iss), 59.

Adrastia (ad-ras-ti´-ah), 142.

Adrastus (ă-dras´-tus), 272.

Æacus (ee´-ă-cus), 34.

Ææa (ee-ee´-ah), island of, 67.

Ægean Sea (ee-gee´-an), 287.

[53]Ægeus (ee´-juce), 259262264.

Ægina (ee-ji´-nah), island of, 230.

Ægis (ee´-jiss), 26.

Ægisthus (ee-jiss´-thus, th as in both), 305.

Ægle (egg´-le), 163.

Ægyptus (ee-jip´-tus), 135.

Aello (ă-el´-lo), 137.

Æneas (ee-nee´-ass), 304.

Æolus (ee´-o-lus), 170210.

Aër (ā´-er), 12.

Æsacus (es´-a-cus), 284.

Æsculapius (es-cu-la´-pe-us), 177.

Æson (ee´-son), 213.

Æetes (ee-ee´-teez), 215222.

Æther (ee´-ther), 12.

Æthiopia (e-thi-o´-pe-ah), 207.

Æthra (ee´-thrah), 259267288.

Ætna, Mount (et´-nah), 100.

Agamemnon (ag-ă-mem´-non), 94286305.

Agave (ă-ga´-ve), 127205.

Agenor (ă-jee´-nor), 203.

Ages, 22.

Aglaia (ag-lay´-yah), 163.

Agraulos (ă-graw´-lŏs), 122.

Agrigent (ag´-ri-jent), 213.

Aïdes (a-i´-deez), 52130250.

—helmet of 206208.

Aïdoneus (a-i-do´-nuce), 130.

Air, 12.

Ajax (ā´-jax) the Greater, 298.

—the Lesser, 305.

Alcestis (al-ses´-tiss), 76.

Alcinous (al-sin´-o-us), 228318.

Alcippe (al-sip´-pe), 113

Alcmæon (alk-mee´-on), 273277.

Alcmene (alk-mee´-ne), 35234.

Alecto (a-leck´-to), 138.

Alexander (al-ex-an´-der), 284.

Aloidæ (al-o-i´-de), 113.

Alpheus (al´-fuce), 242.

Altars, 191.

Althea (al-thee´-ah, th as in both), 90.

Altis (al´-tis) the, 41.

Amalthea (am-al-thee´-ah), 15.

Amazons (am´-a-zons), 244258264.

Ambrosia (am-bro´-zhah), 15.


Amor (ā´-mor), 150.

Amphiaraus (am´-fe-a-ray´-us), 273.

Amphidamas (am-fid´-a-mass), 221.

Amphilochus (am-fil´-o-cus), 277.

Amphion (am-fi´-on), 33.

Amphitrite (am-fe-tri´-te), 104167.

Amphitrion (am-fit´-re-on), 35234.

Amycus (am´-i-cus), 219.

Anaitis-Aphroditis (an-a-i´-tis-af-ro-di´-tis), 92.

Ananke (an-ang´-ke), 147.

Anciliæ (an-sil´-e-e), 115.

Androgeos (an-dro´-je-oss), 262.

Andromache (an-drom´-a-ke), 295304.

Andromeda (an-drom´-e-dah), 207.

Antea (an-tee´-ah), 256.

Anteos (an-tee´-ŏs), 248.

Anteros (an´-te-ross), 150.

Antigone (an-tig´-o-ne), 271275.

Antinous (an-tin´-o-us), 321.

Antiope (an-ti´-o-pe), 32.

Antiphates (an-tif´-a-teez), 311.

Aphareus (af´-a-ruce), 34.

Aphrodite (af-ro-di´-te), 5899152.

Apollo (ă-pol´-lo), 68.

—(Roman), 83.

Apple of Discord, 39.

Arachne (a-rak´-ne), 45.

Arcadia (ar-ca´-de-ah), 240.

Arctos (ark´-tŏs), 35.

Areopagus (a-re-op´-a-gus), 44113212.

Ares (ā´-reez), 99112.

—grove of, 215.

—field of, 223225.

Arete (a-ree´-te or ar´-e-te), 228318.

Arethusa (ar-e-thu´-sah), 163.

Aretias (ă-ree´-she-ass), 221.

Argia (ar-ji´-ah), 272.

Argives (ar-jives), 274.

Argo, 215230321.

Argonauts (ar´-go-nawts), 213.

Argos (ar´-gŏs), 209216283.

Argus, 224.

Argus-Panoptes (pan-op´-teez), 36.

Ariadne (a-re-ad´-ne), 128263.

Aricia (a-rish´-e-ah), 97.

Arion (a-ri´-on), 275.

Aristæus (ar-iss-tee´-us), 81.

Aristodemus (a-ris´-to-de´-mus), 282.

Aristomachus (ar-is-tom´-a-cus), 282.

Arsinoë (ar-sin´-o-e), 278.

Artemis (ar´-te-miss), 87.

Ascalaphus (ass-cal´-a-fuss), 55250.

Asclepius (ass-clee´-pe-us), 7176176.

Ashtoreth (ash´-to-reth), 61.

Asphodel meadows (ass-fo-del), 133.

Astarte (ass-tar´-te), 61.

Astræa (ass-tree´-ah), 85.

Astræus (ass-tree´-us), 68.

Astyanax (ass-ti´-a-nax), 304.

Atalanta (at-a-lan´-tah), 89.

Ate (ā´-te), 149.

Athamas (ath´-a-mass), 111215.

Athene (a-thee´-ne, th as in both), 43.

Athene-Polias (po´-le-ass), 44189199264.

Athens, 264.

Atlas, 207248.

Atreus, (ă´-truce), 282.

Atropos (at´-ro-pŏs), 139.

Atys (ā´-tiss), 19.

Augeas (aw´-je-ass), 242254.

Augurs, 196.

Aulis (aw´-lis), 97.

Aurora (aw-ro´-rah), 1367.

Autochthony (aw-tok´-tho-ny), 22.

Autolycus (aw-tol´-i-cus), 235251.

Autonoe, (aw-ton´-o-e), 205.

Avernus (a-ver´-nus), 132.

Avertor (ā-ver´-tor), 180.

Averuncus (av-e-run´-cus), 180.


Bacchanalia (bac-ca-na´-le-ah), 199.

Bacchantes (bac-can´-teez), 198.

Bacchus (bac´-cus), 130.

Battus (bat´-tus), 119.

Baucis (baw´-sis), 37.

Bebricians (be-brish´-e-anz), 219.

Beech-nymph, 168.

Bellerophon (bel-ler´-o-fon), 256.

Bellerophontes (bel-ler´-o-fon´-teez), 256.

Bellona (bel-lo´-nah), 116.

Belvedere (bel´-vi-deer), 85.

Benthesicyme, (ben-the-siss´-i-me), 105.

Berecynthia-Idea (ber´-e-sin´-the-ah-i-dee´-ah), 19.

Beroe (ber´-o-e, first e like ei in their), 35.

Birch-nymph, 168.

Bistonians (bis-to´-ne-anz), 243.

Bithynia (bi-thin´-e-ah), 220.

Boreas (bo´-re-ass), 171.

Brauron (braw´-ron), 96.

Brazen Age, 23.

Briareus (bri´-a-ruce), 13.

Brisëis (bri-see´-iss), 292.

Brontes (bron´-teez), 16.

Busiris (bu-si´-ris), 248.

Butes (bu´-teez), 228.


Cadmus, 203.

Caduceus (ca-du´-she-us), 121.

Calais (cal´-a-iss), 171220.

Calchas (cal´-kas), 94287289292.

Calirrhoë (cal-lir´-ro-e), 278.

Calliope (cal-li´-o-pe), 80159.

Callisto (cal-lis´-to), 35.


Calydonian Boar-hunt, 89.

Calypso (ca-lip´-so), 317.

Camenæ (ca-mee´-nee), 184.

Campus Martius (mar´-she-us), 115.

Canens (ca´-nenz), 182.

Capaneus (cap´-a-nuce), 273.

Caphareus, Cape (ca-fa´-ruce), 305.

Carmenta (car-men´-tah), 184.

Carmentalia (car-men-ta´-le-ah), 184.

Carnival, 201.

Carpo, 164.

Cassandra (cas-san´-drah), 284303305.

Cassiopea (cas´-se-o-pee´-ah), 207.

Castalian Spring, 159195.

Castor, 33187268.

Caucasus (caw´-că-sus), Mount, 222.

Cecrops (see´-crops), 189.

Celæno (se-lee´-no), 137.

Celeus (see´-le-us), 53.

Celts, 10.

Cenæus (se-nee´-us), 255.

Centaurs (sen´-tawrs), 266.

Ceos (see´-ŏs), 13.

Cepheus (see´-fuce), 207.

Cephissus (se-fiss´-us), 169.

Cerberus (ser´-be-rus), 133153249.

Cercyon (ser´-se-on), 261.

Cerealia (se-re-a´-le-ah), 201.

Ceres (see´-reez), 58201.

Cerunitis (ser-u-ni´-tis), 240.

Cestus (ses´-tus), 59.

Ceto (see´-to), 111.

Ceuta (su´-tah), 222.

Ceyx (see´-ix), 110254280.

Chalciope (cal-si´-o-pe), 223.

Chaos (ka´-oss), 11.

Chares (ca´-reez), 99.

Charites (car´-i-teez), 163.

Charon (ca´-ron), 132153.

Charybdis (ca-rib´-dis), 228316.

Chimæra (ki-mee´-rah), 257162.

Chiron (ki´-ron), 289.

Chloris (clo´-ris), 171.

Chrysaor (cris-ā´-or), 145.

Chrysëis (cri-see´-iss), 292.

Chryses (cri´-seez), 292.

Cimmerians (sim-me´-ri-anz), 132314.

Cimon (si´-mon), 268.

Circe (sir´-se), 64182227311.

Cithæron (si-thee´-ron, th as in both), 40.

—Mount, 236.

Cleodæus (cle-o-dee´-us), 282.

Cleopatra (cle-o-pat´-rah), 220.

Clio (cli´-o), 159.

Cloacina (clo-a-si´-nah), 61.

Clotho (clo´-tho), 139.

Clymene (clim´-e-ne), 64.

Clytæmnestra (clit-em-nes´-trah), 94305306.

Clytie (cli´-ti-e), 63.

Cocalus (coc´-a-lus), 213.

Cocytus (co-si´-tus), 132314.

Cœlus (see´-lus), 11.

Colchis (col´-kis), 215222.

Colonus (co-lo´-nus), 271.

Colossus of Rhodes (co-lŏs´-sus), 66.

Comus (co´-mus), 184.

Consualia (con-su-a´-le-ah), 183.

Consus (con´-sus), 183.

Copreus (co´-pruce), 239.

Cora, 197.

Cornucopia (cor-noo-co´-pe-ah), 148.

Coronis (co-ro´-nis), 75.

Corybantes (cor-i-ban´-teez), 19.

Cos, island of (coss), 104.

Cottos (cot´-tŏs), 13.

Crania, island of (cra-ni´-ah), 286.

Creon (cree´-on), 237275.

Cresphontes (cres-fon´-teez), 282.

Cretan Bull, 243.

Crete (creet), 229.

Crëusa (cre-yu´-sah), 210.

Crios (cri´-ŏs), 13.

Crœsus (cree´-sus), 195.

Crommyon (crom´-me-on), 260.

Cronus (cro´-nus), 14179.

Ctesiphon (tes´-i-fon), 93.

Cumæan Sibyl, the (cu-mee´-an), 84.

Cupid (cu´-pid), 150.

Curetes (cu-ree´-teez), 15.

Cybele (sib´-i-le), 18128.

Cyclops (si´-clops), 105307.

Cycnus (sik´-nus), 66247.

Cyllene, Mount (sil-lee´-ne), 119.

Cyparissus (sip-a-ris´-sus), 77182.

Cyprus, island of (si´-prus), 60.

Cyrus (si´-rus), 195.

Cythera (sith-ee´-rah), 60.

Cyzicus (siz´-i-cus), 218.


Dædalus (ded´-a-lus), 211.

Dæmons (de´-mons), 185.

Damastes (da-mas´-teez), 261.

Danaë (dan´-a-e), 205209.

Danaïdes (dan-a´-ĭ-deez), 135.

Danaus (dan´-a-us), 135.

Danneker (dan´-ek-ker), 129.

Daphne (daf´-ne), 74.

Daphnephoria (daf-ne-fo´-re-ah), 200.

Daphnephorus (daf-nef´-o-rus), 200.

Deianeira (de-i´-a-ni´-rah), 254.

Deiphobus (de-if´-o-bus), 300.

Deipyle (de-ip´-i-le), 272.

Delia (dee´-le-ah), 83.

Delos, island of (dee´-lŏs), 6983.

Delphi (del´-fi), 82.

Delphic Oracle, 194.

Demeter (de-mee´-ter), 50197.

Demi-gods, 8.

Demophoon (de-mof´-o-on), 53280.

Deucalion (du-ca´-le-on), 21.

Diana (di-an´-nah), 87.

—of Versailles, 88.


Dice (di´-se), 164.

Dictys (dic´-tiss), 205.

Dindymene (din-di-mee´-ne), 19.

Dino (di´-no), 145.

Diomedes (di-o-mee´-deez), 112243297305.

Dione (di-o´-ne), 58.

Dionysia (di-o-nish´-e-ah), 180197.

Dionysus (di-o-ni´-sus), 124193198263.

Dioscuri (di-ŏs-cu´-ri), 33.

Diræ (di´-ree), 138.

Dirce (dir´-se), 33.

Dis (diss), 137.

Discord, goddess of, 284.

Dodona (do-do´-nah), 29216.

Doliones (do-li´-o-neez), 218.

Dorians (do´-re-anz), 211.

Doris (do´-ris), 108.

Dorus (do´-rus), 211.

Dryades (dri´-a-deez), 168.

Dryas (dri´-ass), 126.

Dymas (di´-mass), 283.


Echedorus (ek-e-do´-rus), 247.

Echemon (ek-kee´-mon), 282.

Echidna, (ek-kid´-nah), 146.

Echo (ek´-o), 169.

Egeria (e-gee´-re-ah), 184.

Eilithyia (i-lith-i´-yah), 41237.

Electra (e-lek´-trah), 111306.

Electryon (e-lek´-tre-on), 35.

Eleusinian Mysteries (el-u-sin´-e-an), 56132196.

Eleusis (e-lu´-sis), 54.

Elis (ee´-lis), 254283.

Elysian Fields (e-lizh´-e-an), 133.

Elysium (e-lizh´-e-um), 133.

Enceladus (en-sel´-a-dus), 20.

Endymion (en-dim´-e-on), 87.

Enipeus (e-ni´-puce), 106.

Enyo (e-ni´-o), 113.

Eos (ee´-ŏs), 67297.

Epaphus (ep´-a-fus), 3664.

Epeios (ep-i´-ŏs), 301.

Ephesus, temple of (ef´-e-sus), 92.

Ephialtes (ef-e-āl´-teez), 105.

Epidaurus (ep-e-daw´-rus), 260.

Epigoni (e-pig´-o-ni), 276.

Epimetheus (ep-e-me´-thuce), 25.

Epopeus (e-po´-puce), 32.

Erato (er´-a-to), 159.

Erebus (er´-e-buss), 13.

Erechtheus (e-rek´-thuce), 210.

Eresichthon (er-e-sik´-thon), 57.

Erginus (er-ji´-nus), 237.

Eridanus, river, the (e-rid´-a-nus), 65227248.

Erinnyes (e-rin´-ne-eez), 138.

Eriphyle (er-i-fi´-le), 273.

Eris (ee´-ris), 39.

Eros (ee´-rŏs), 74150.

Erymantian Boar (er-e-man´-shun), 240.

Erythia (er-e-thi´-ah), 246.

Eteocles (e-tee´-o-cleez), 272275.

Ether (ee´-ther), 12.

Eubœans (u-bee´-anz), 210.

Eumæus (u-mee´-us), 320.

Eumenides (u-men´-i-deez), 138271.

Eunomia (u-no´-me-ah), 164.

Euphemus (u-fee´-mus), 221.

Euphrosyne (u-fros´-i-ne), 163.

Europa (u-ro´-pah), 34.

Eurus (u´-rus), 171.

Euryale (u-ri´-a-le), 144.

Eurybia (u-rib´-e-ah), 13.

Euryclea (u-ri-clee´-ah), 321.

Eurydice (u-rid´-i-se), 81.

Eurylochus (u-ril´-o-kus), 311.

Eurynome (u-rin´-o-me), 98.

Eurypylus (u-rip´-i-lus), 299.

Eurystheus (u-riss´-thuce), 237280.

Eurytion (u-rit´-e-on), 246266.

Eurytus (u´-ri-tus), 235.

Euterpe (u-ter´-pe), 159.

Evander (e-van´-der), 184.

Evenus (e-ve´-nus), 254.


Farnese Bull, the (far´-neez), 33.

Fates, 139.

Fauns (fawns), 175.

Faunus (faw´-nus), 174.

Festivals, 196.

Fetiales (fe-she-a´-leez), 124.

Flora, 180.

Floralia (flo-ra´-le-ah), 180.

Fortuna (for-tu´-nah), 147.

Furies, 278306.


Gadria (gad´-re-ah), 246.

Gæa (je´-ah), 11.

Galatea (gal-a-tee´-ah), 167.

Ganymede (gan-i-mee´-de), 156246.

Ganymedes (gan-i-mee´-deez), 156246.

Ge, 11.

Genii (jee´-ne-i), 185.

Geryon (jee´-re-on), 246.

Geryones (je-ri´-o-neez), 246.

Giants, 13199218.

Gigantomachia (ji-gan´-to-ma´-ke-ah), 20.

Glauce (glaw´-se), 231.

Glaucus (glaw´-cus), 109219.

Golden Age, 22185.

Golden Fleece, 215223226230.

Gordius (gor´-de-us), 128.

Gorgons, 144206.

Graces, 163.


Gradivus (gra-di´-vus), 115.

Grææ (gree´-ee), 145206.

Gratiæ (gra´-she-ee), 163.

Gyges (ji´-jeez), 13.


Hades (ha´-deez), 250.

Hæmon (hee´-mon), 276.

Halcyone (hal-si´-o-ne), 110.

Halirrothius (hal-ir-ro´-the-us), 113.

Hamadryades (ham-a-dry´-a-deez), 168.

Harmonia (har-mo´-ne-ah), 204276.

Harpies (har´-piz), 137220.

Harpinna (har-pin´-nah), 233.

Hebe (hee´-be), 41156256.

Hebrus, river, the (hee´-brus), 82.

Hecate (hec´-a-te), 85.

Hecatombs (hec´-a-tomes), 193.

Hecatoncheires (hec´-a-ton-ki´-reez), 13.

Hector, 284290293.

Hecuba (hec´-u-bah), 283304.

Helen, 267286304.

Helenus (hel´-e-nus), 299.

Helicon (hel´-e-con), 158162.

Helios, (hee´-le-ŏs), 61316.

Helios-Apollo, 70.

Helle (hel´-le), 215.

Hemera (hee´-me-rah), 13142.

Heosphorus (he-ŏs´-fo-rus), 68.

Hephæstus (he-fes´-tus), 97.

Hera (he´-rah), 38214.

Heracles [54] (her´-a-cleez), 26218234.

Heraclidæ [54] (her-a-cli´-dee), 280.

Heræ (he´-ree), 41.

Hercules (her´-cu-leez) See Heracles.

—Pillars of, 246.

Hermæ (her´-mee), 118.

Hermes (her´-meez), 117250312.

Hermione (her-mi´-o-ne), 307.

Heroes, 8.

Herostratus (he-ros´-tra-tus), 93.

Herse (her´-se), 87122.

Hesiod's Theogony (he´-she-od), 24150.

Hesione (he-si´-o-ne), 245253285.

Hesperia (hes-pee´-re-ah), 163.

Hesperides (hes-per´-i-deez), 162247.

Hesperus (hes´-pe-rus), 68.

Hestia (hes´-te-ah), 48.

Hip´pocamp, 229.

Hippocamps, 102.

Hippocrene (hip-po-cree´-ne), 159162.

Hippodamia (hip´-po-da-mi´-ah), 232266.

Hippolyte (hip-pol´-i-te), 264.

Hippolyte's Girdle, 244.

Hippolytes (hip-pol´-i teez), 283.

Hippolytus (hip-pol´-i-tus), 266.

Hippomedon (hip-pom´-e-don), 273.

Hippomenes (hip-pom´-e-neez), 91.

Horæ (ho´-ree), 164.

Horned Hind, 240.

Hyacinthus (hi-a-sin´-thus), 77.

Hyades (hi´-a-deez), 170.

Hydra, Lernean, the (hi´-drah, ler-nee´-an), 239.

Hygeia (hi-jee´-yah), 177.

Hylas (hi´-las), 216219.

Hyllus (hil´-lus), 254281.

Hymen (hi´-men), or Hymenæus (hi-me-nee´-us), 154.

Hyperion (hi-pee´-re-on), 13.

Hypermnestra (hip-erm-nes´-trah), 135.

Hypnus (hip´-nus), 142.

Hypsipyle (hip-sip´-i-le), 274.


Iambe (i-am´-be), 53.

Iapetus (i-ap´-e-tus), 24.

Iasion (i-a´-zhe-on), 137.

Iberia (i-bee´-re-ah), 247.

Icaria (i-ca´-re-ah), 212.

Icarus (ic´-a-rus), 211.

Ichor (i´-kor), 7.

Ida, Mount, 157284300.

Idas (i´-dass), 3475.

Idmon (id´-mon), 216.

Idomeneus (i-dom´-e-nuce), 286.

Ilion (il´-e-on), 283.

Illyria (il-lir´-e-ah), 205.

Ilus (i´-lus), 283.

Inachus (in´-a-cus), 36.

Ino (i´-no), 205215.

Inuus (in´-u-us), 174.

Io (i´-o), 36.

Iobates (i-ob´-a-teez), 257.

Iolaus (i-o-la´-us), 239251281.

Iolcus (i-ol´-cus), 213230.

Iole (i´-o-le), 251255.

Ion (i´-on), 210.

Iphigenia (if´-i-ge-ni´-ah), 94289307.

Iphitus (if´-i-tus), 251.

Iris (i´-ris), 155220.

Iron Age, 23.

Ismene (iss-mee´-ne), 271.

Ister (iss´-ter), 226.

Isthmian Games (isth´-me-an), 107264.

Ithaca (ith´-a-cah), 310319.

Ixion (ix-i´-on), 135.


Jani (ja´-ni), 178.

Janus (ja´-nus), 18178.


Jason (ja´-son), 213.

Jocasta (jo-cas´-tah), 269270.

Juno (ju´-no), 42185.

Jupiter (ju´-pe-ter), 38.

Jupiter-Ammon, 207.

Juventas (ju-ven´-tăss), 156183.


Keidomos (ki´-do-mos), 113.

Ker (cur), 149.

Keres (kee´-reez), 149.


Labdacus (lab´-da-cus), 269.

Labyrinth (lab´-i-rinth), 212262.

Lacedæmon (las-e-dee´-mon), 283.

Lac´edæmo´nians, 189.

Lachesis (lak´-e-sis), 139.

Lacolia (la-co´-le-ah), 250.

Lacus Nemorensis (la´-cus nem-o-ren´-sis), 97.

Ladon (la´-don), 240.

Laertes (la-er´-teez), 314323.

Læstrygones (les-trig´-o-neez), 311.

Laius (la´-yus), 269.

Lampetus (lam´-pe-tus), 67.

Lampsacus (lamp´-sa-cus), 176.

Laocoon (la-oc´-o-on), 301.

Laodamas (la-od´-a-mass), 277.

Laomedon (la-om´-e-don), 104245253.

Lar, 186.

Lares Familiares (la´-reez fa-mil´-e-a´-reez), 186.

Larissa (la-ris´-sah), 189209.

Latmus Mount, 87.

Latona (la-to´-nah), 31.

Laverna (la-ver´-nah), 184.

Leda (lee´-dah), 33.

Lemnos, island of, (lem´-noss), 98217.

Lemuralia (lem-u-ra´-le-ah), 186.

Lemures (lem´-u-reez), 186.

Lerna, 239.

Lernean Hydra. See Hydra.

Lesbos (lez´-bos), 290.

Lethe (lee´-the, th as in both), 133.

Leto (lee´-to), 31.

Leucippus (lu-sip´-pus), 34.

Leucothea (lu-co´-the-ah, th as in both), 111318.

Liber (li´-ber), 130.

Liberalia (lib-er-a´-le-ah), 130.

Libya (lib´-yah), 207229.

Limoniades (lim-o-ni´-a-deez), 170.

Linden-nymph, 168.

Linus (li´-nus), 235.

Lion, Nemean (ne´-me-an), 238.

Ludi Maximi (lu´-di max´-i-mi), 48.

Ludovici Villa (lu-do-vee´-chee), 116.

Luna (lu´-nah), 8697.

Lupercus (lu-per´-cus), 174.

Lycaon (li-cay´-on), 37.

Lycomedes (lic-o-mee´-deez), 268287.

Lycurgus (li-cur´-gus), 126189274.

Lycus (li´-cus), 32.

Lynceus (lin´-suce), 34216.


Macaria (ma-ca´-re-ah), 281.

Machaon (ma-ca´-on), 177300.

Magna-Mater (may´-ter), 19.

Maia (may´-yah), 119.

Mamers (ma´-merz), 114.

Manes (ma´-neez), 185.

Marathonian Bull (mar-a-tho´-ne-an), 262.

Mares of Diomedes, 243

Marpessa (mar-pes´-sah), 75.

Mars (marz), 114.

Marspiter (mars´-pe-ter), 114.

Marsyas (mar´-she-ass), 78.

Mater-Deorum (dee-o´-rum), 19.

Matronalia (ma-tro-na´-le-ah), 43.

Mecone (me-co´-ne), 24.

Medea (me-dee´-ah), 223261.

Medusa (me-du´-sah), 45144206.

Megæra (me-jee´-rah), 138.

Megapenthes (meg-a-pen´-theez), 209.

Megara (meg´-a-rah), 138237251.

Melanippe (mel-a-nip´-pe), 245.

Meleager (me-le-a´-jer), 89216.

Meliades (me-li´-a-deez), 170.

Melissa (me-lis´-sah), 15.

Melpomene (mel-pom´-e-ne), 159.

Memnon (mem´-non), 297.

Memphis (mem´-fiss), 36.

Menades (men´-a-deez), 198.

Menelaus (men-e-la´-us), 294304305.

Menesthius (me-nes´-the-us), 268.

Menœceus (me-nee´-suce), 274.

Menœtius (me-nee´-she-us), 216.

Mercury (mer´-cu-ry), 123.

Merope (mer´-ope, first e like ei in their), 269.

Messene (mes-see´-ne), 283.

Metaneira (met-a-ni´-rah), 53.

Metis (mee´-tiss), 30.

Metra (mee´-trah), 5792.

Midas (mi´-das), 79128.

Midea (mi-dee´-ah), 209.

Milo (mi´-lo), 60.

Miltiades (mil-ti´-a-deez), 268.

Mimas (mi´-mass), 20.

Minerva (mi-ner´-vah), 47.

Minerval (mi-ner´-val), 47.

Minos (mi´-nŏs), 34134212243.

Minotaur (min´-o-tawr), 212262.

Minyans (min´-yanz), 237.

Mnemosyne (ne-mŏs´-i-ne), 1331.

Moira (moy´-rah), 139.

Moiræ (moy´-ree), 297139.


Moly (mo´-ly), 312.

Momus (mo´-mus), 149.

Moneta Juno (mo-nee´-tah), 42.

Mopsus, 216.

Morpheus (mor´-fuce), 143.

Mors (morz). See Thanatos.

Musagetes (mu-saj´-e-teez), 71.

Muses, 157.

Mutunus (mu-tu´-nus), 176.

Mycenæ (mi-see´-ne), 209305.

Myrmidons (mir´-mi-dons), 288293295.

Myrtilus (mir´-ti-lus), 233.

Mysia (mish´-e-ah), 219.

Mysians, 289.


Naiads (na´-yads), or Naiades (na-i´-a-deez), 166227.

Napææ (na-pee´-ee), 169.

Narcissus (nar-sis´-sus), 169.

Nausicaa (naw-sic´-a-ah), 317.

Naxos (nax´-oss), 128263.

Necessitas (ne-ses´-si-tass), 148.

Nectar, 15.

Neleus (nee´-luce), 106119216.

Nemea (nee´-me-ah), 274.

Nemean Lion. See Lion.

Nemesis (nem´-e-siss), 141.

Nemoralia (nem-o-ra´-le-ah), 97.

Neoptolemus (ne-op-tol´-e-mus), 299304.

Nephalia (ne-fa´-le-ah), 139.

Nephelæ (nef´-e-lee), 12.

Nephele (nef´-e-le), 215.

Neptunalia (nep-tu-na´-le-ah), 107.

Neptune (nept´-une), 14107.

Nereides (ne-ree´-i-deez), 108167.

Nereus (nee´-ruce), 13108.

Nessus, 254.

Nestor, 286301305.

Nike (ni´-ke), 117.

Niobe (ni´-o-be), 79141.

Noman, 309.

Notus (no´-tus), 171.

Nox. See Nyx.

Nyctimus (nic´-ti-mus), 38.

Nycteus (nic´-tuce), 32.

Nymphs, 165.

Nysa, Mount (ni´-sah), 125.

Nyx (nix), 13142.


Oceanides (o-se-an´-i-deez), 108166.

Oceanus (o-see´-a-nus), 12107166314.

Ocypete (o-sip´-e-te), 137.

Odysseus (o-dis´-suce), 131287307.

Œchalia (e-ka´-le-ah), 255.

Œdipus (ed´-i-pus), 146269.

Œneus (ee´-nuce), 89254.

Œnomaus (ee-nom´-a-us), 232.

Œnone (ee-no´-ne) 284300.

Ogygia (o-jij´-e-ah), 317.

Oileus (o-i´-luce), 216221.

Olympia (o-lim´-pe-ah), 29123.

Olym´pic Games, 30.

Olym´pus, Mount, 27.

Omphale (om´-fa-le), 252.

Ops, 19.

Oracles, 194.

Orchamus (or´-ca-mus), 63.

Orchomenus (or-com´-e-nus), 237.

Orcus (or´-cus), 136.

Oreades (o-ree´-a-deez), 169.

Orithyia (or´-i-thi´-yah), 171.

Orestes (o-res´-teez), 95139306.

Orpheus (or´-fuce), 80216228.

Orthrus (or´-thrus), 246.

Ossa (oss´-sah), 106.

Othrys, Mount, (o´-thris), 16.

Otus (o´-tus), 105.

Oxen of Geryones. See Geryones.

Oxylus (ox´-i-lus), 283.


Palæmon (pa-lee´-mon), 111.

Palamedes (pal-a-mee´-deez), 287291.

Palatine (pal´-a-tin), 181.

Pales (pa´-leez), 181.

Palilia (pa-lil´-e-ah), 181.

Palladium (pal-la´-de-um), 299301.

Pallan´tids, 262.

Pallas (pal´-lass), 117.

Pallas-Athene, 43234302.

Pan, 79171198.

Panacea (pan-a-see´-ah), 177.

Panathenæa (pan´-ath-e-nee´-ah), 199.

Pandareos (pan-da´-re-oss), 138.

Pandora (pan-do´-rah), 25.

Panisci (pa-nis´-si), 174.

Panoptes (pa-nop´-teez), 246.

Parcæ (par´-see). See Moiræ.

Paris (par´-ris), 39284286.

Parnassus (par-nas´-sus), 158.

Parthenon (par´-the-non), 46.

—Hill, 89.

Parthenopæus (par´-then-o-pee´-us), 273.

Patroclus (pă-tro´-clus), 288293314.

Pedasus (ped´-a-sus), 292.

Pegasus (peg´-a-sus), 145162257.

Peitho (pi´-tho), 134.

Peleus (pee´-luce), 39287.

Pelias (pee´-le-ass), 106213230.

Pelion, Mount (pee´-le-on), 106.

Peloponnesus (pel´-o-pon-nee´-sus), 281.

Pelops (pee´-lops), 135232.

Penates (pe-na´-teez), 187.


Penelope (pe-nel´-o-pe), 287319.

Peneus (pe-nee´-us), 74242.

Penthesilea (pen´-the-si-lee´-ah), 296

Pentheus (pen´-thuce), 126205.

Pephredo (pe-free´-do), 145.

Peplus (pee´-plus), 199.

Periphetes (per-i-fee´-teez), 260.

Perse (per´-se), 64312.

Persephone (per-sef´-o-ne), 52197267.

Perseus (per´-suce), 145205.

Petasus (pet´-a-sus), 121.

Phæaces (fee-a´-seez), 228318.

Phædra (fee´-drah), 266.

Phaëthon (fa´-e-thon), 6467.

Pharos, isle of, (fa´-rŏs), 108.

Phases, river (fa´-seez), 222.

Phegeus (fee´-juce), 278.

Phidias (fid´-e-ass), 28.

Philemon (fi-lee´-mon), 37.

Philoctetes (fil-oc-tee´-teez), 256290299.

Phineus (fi´-nuce), 208220.

Phlegethon (flej´-e-thon), 134.

Phocis (fo´-siss), 306.

Phœbe (fee´-be), 13.

Phœbus-Apollo (fee´-bus), 68298.

Pholus (fo´-lus), 240.

Phorcys (for´-siss), 13111.

Phrygia (frij´-e-ah), 18.

Phryxus (frix´-us), 222.

Phylace (fil´-a-se), 290.

Phyleus (fi´-luce), 242254.

Phylla (fil´-lah), 233.

Picumnus (pi-cum´-nus), 182.

Picus (pi´-cus), 182.

Pieria (pi-ee´-re-ah), 119158.

Pierides (pi-er´-i-deez), 158162.

Pierus (pi´-e-rus), 158.

Pilumnus (pi-lum´-nus), 182.

Pindus, Mount, 158.

Pirithöus (pi-rith´-o-us), 216250265.

Pisa (pi´-sah), 232.

Pittheus (pit´-thuce), 259.

Platea (pla-tee´-ah), 40.

Pleiades (plee´-ya-deez), 119.

Pluto (plu´-to), 136.

Plutus (plu´-tus), 132137148.

Podalirius (pod-a-lir´-e-us), 177.

Podarces (po-dar´-seez), 253.

Pollux, 33187227268.

Polybotes (pol-e-bo´-teez), 104.

Polybus (pol´-e-bus), 269.

Polydectes (pol-e-dec´-teez), 205.

Polydeuces (pol-e-du´-seez). See Pollux.

Polydorus (pol-e-do´-rus), 205.

Polyhymnia (pol-e-him´-ne-ah), 159.

Polynices (pol-e-ni´-seez), 271272275.

Polyphemus (pol-e-fee´-mus), 105219307.

Pomona (po-mo´-nah), 180.

Pontus, 13.

Porta Lavernalis (lav-er-na´-lis), 184.

Poseidon (po-si´-don), 101162266.

Praxiteles (prax-it´-e-leez), 123.

Priam (pri´-am), 254283304.

Priamus (pri´-a-mus). See Priam.

Priapus (pri-a´-pus), 175.

Priests, 191.

Procrustes (pro-crus´-teez), 261.

Prœtus (pree´-tus), 257.

Prometheus (pro-mee´-thuce), 24149193222.

Proserpine (pross´-er-pine), See Persephone.

Protesilaus (pro-tess´-i-la´-us), 290.

Proteus (pro´-tuce), 108.

Prytaneum (prit-a-nee´-um), 49.

Psophis (so´-fiss), 278.

Psyche (si´-ke), 150.

Pylades (pil´-a-deez), 95306.

Pylos (pi´-lŏs), 286.

Pyracmon (pi-rac´-mon), 16.

Pyrrha (pir´-rah), 22.

Pythia (pith´-e-ah) 195269.

Pythian Games, 83.

Python (pi´-thon), 3172195.


Quirinus (que-ri´-nus), 115.


Remus (ree´-mus), 114.

Rhadamanthus (rad-a-man´-thus), 34134.

Rhamnus (ram´-nus), 142.

Rhamnusia (ram-nu´-zhe-ah), 142.

Rhea (ree´-ah), 1318.

Rhoda (ro´-dah), 105.

Rhodes (roads), 105.

Rhodope, Mount (rod´-o-pe), 130.

Rhœtus (ree´-tus), 20.

Robigus (ro-bi´-gus), 180.

Romulus (rom´-u-lus), 114.


Sacrifices, 192.

Sagaris (sag´-a-ris), 19.

Salamis (sal´-a-mis), 285.

Salii (sa´-le-i), 115.

Samos (sa´-mos), 34.

Saturn (sat´-urn), 17200.

Saturnalia (sat-ur-na´-le-ah), 200.

Satyrs (sa´-turz), 174198.

Scamander (sca-man´-der), 290.

Scheria (skee´-re-ah), 318.

Schœneus (skee´-nuce), 89.

Scyros, island of, (si´-rŏs), 268287.

Scylla (sil´-lah), 104316.

Scyron (si´-ron), 260.


Seasons, 164.

Selene (se-lee´-ne), 86.

Selene-Artemis, 96.

Selli (sel´-li), 29.

Semele (sem´-e-le), 35205215.

Seriphus (se-ri´-fus), 205.

Servius Tullius (ser´-ve-us tul´-le-us), 184.

Shades, realm of, 267314.

Sibyls (sib´-bles), 84.

Silens (si´-lenz), 174.

Silenus (si-lee´-nus), 125198.

Silvanus (sil-va´-nus), 115182.

Silver Age, 23.

Simois (sim´-o-iss), 290.

Sinnis (sin´-nis), 260.

Sinon (si´-non), 302.

Siphylus (sif´-i-lus), 80.

Sirens (si´-renz), 112158315.

Sisyphus (sis´-i-fus), 135.

Sol (soll). See Helios.

Solymans (sol´-i-mans), 258.

Somnus (som´-nus). See Hypnus.

Soothsayers, 195.

Sparta, 285.

Sphinx (sfinks), 146.

Stables, Augean (aw-jee´-an), 242.

Statues, 190.

Stellio (stel´-le-o), 57.

Steropes (ster´-o peez, the first e like ei in their), 16.

Stheno (sthee´-no), 144.

Strophius (stro´-fe-us), 306.

Stymphalides (stim-fal´-i-deez), 221242.

Styx (sticks), 117132287.

Symplegades (sim-pleg´-a-deez), 221.

Syrinx (si´-rinks), 172.

Syrtes (sir´-teez), 229.


Tænarum (ten´-a-rum), 132250.

Talaria (ta-la´-re-ah), 121.

Talus (ta´-lus), 229.

Tantalus (tan´-ta-lus), 134.

Tarquinius Superbus (tar-quin´-e-us su-per´-bus), 84.

Tartarus (tar´-ta-rus), 14134.

Taurica Chersonesus (taw´-ri-cah ker-so-nee´-sus), 93306.

Tauris (taw´-ris), 93306.

Tegea (tee´-je-ah), 279.

Telamon (tel´-a-mon), 216253285.

Telemachus (tel-lem´-a-cus), 287320.

Telephus (tel´-e-fus), 289.

Temenus (tem´-e-nus), 282.

Temples, 188.

Tenedos (ten´-e-dos), 290301303.

Terminus (ter´-mi-nus), 182.

Terpsichore (terp-sic´-o-re), 159.

Terra (ter´-rah, the e like ei in their), 11.

Tethys (tee´-thiss, th as in both), 107166.

Teutamias (tu-ta´-me-ass), 209.

[55]Thalia (tha-li´-ah), 159163.

Thallo (thal´-lo), 164.

Thamyris (tham´-i ris), 158.

Thanatos (than´-a-tos), 142.

Thaumas (thaw´-mass), 13111137.

Thebes (theebs), 203.

Theia (thi´-ah), 13.

Themis (thee´-mis), 3148.

Themiscyra (the-mis´-se-rah), 245.

Thermodon (ther-mo´-don), 244.

Thersander (ther-san´-der), 276.

Thersites (ther-si´-teez), 297.

Theseus (thee´-suce), 250259.

Thesmophoria (thes-mo-fo´-re-ah), 197.

Thes´saly, 77.

Thestius (thes´-te-us), 33.

Thetis (thee´-tis), 3998110297.

Thyone (thi-o´-ne), 128.

Tiphys (ti´-fiss), 216.

Tiresias (ti-ree´-she-ass), 235271274277313.

Tiryns (ti´-rinz), 209252.

Tirynth (ti´-rinth), 209252.

Tisiphone (ti-sif´-o-ne), 138.

Titanomachia (ti´-tan-o-ma´-ke-ah), 17.

Titans (ti´-tanz), 13.

Tithonus (ti-tho´-nus), 68297.

Tityus (tit´-e-us), 134.

Trachin (tra´-kin), 254.

Trachis (tra´-kis), 254.

Trinacria (tri-na´-cre-ah), 316.

Triptolemus (trip-tol´-e-mus), 53.

Triton (tri´-ton), 109.

Trivia (triv´-e-ah), 97.

Trœzen (tree´-zen), 251

Tros (trŏss), 157246.

Troy, 283.

— walls of, 104.

Tubal-Cain (too´-bal-cane), 101.

Tyche (ti´-ke), 147.

Tydeus (ti´-duce), 272.

Tyndareus (tin-da´-re-us), 285.

Typhœus (ti-fo´-yuce), 21.

Typhon (ti´-fon), 21.

Tyro (ti´-ro), 106.


Uffizi Gallery (oof´-fid-ze), 80.

Ulysses (u-lis´-seez), See Odysseus.

Urania (u-ra´-ne-ah), 159.

Uranus (u´-ra-nus), 11.


Veneralia (ven-e-ra´-le-ah), 61.


Venus (vee´-nus), 61183.

— of Milo, 60.

Vertumnus (ver-tum´-nus), 181.

Vesta (ves´-tah), 50201.

Vestalia (ves-ta´-le-ah), 59201.

Via Salavia (vi´-ah sa-la´-ve-ah), 184.

Victo´ria, 117.

Vulcan, 100.


Winds, 170298.

Wooden Horse, 301.


Xuthus (zoo-thus), 210.


Zephyrus (zef´-i-rus), 151171310.

Zetes (zee´-teez), 171.

Zethus (zee´-thus), 33.

Zeus (zuce), 26.

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[1] The early Greeks supposed the earth to be a flat circle, in the centre of which was Greece. Oceanus, the ocean stream, encircled it; the Mediterranean being supposed to flow into this river on the one side, and the Euxine, or Black Sea, on the other.

[2] Owing to the vagueness of the various accounts of creation, the origin of the primeval gods is variously accounted for. Thus, for instance, Oceanus, with some, becomes the younger brother of Uranus and Gæa.

[3] The myth of Cronus swallowing his children is evidently intended by the poets to express the melancholy truth that time destroys all things.

[4] Nectar was the drink, and ambrosia the food of the gods.

[5] The Cyclops are generally mentioned as the sons of Uranus and Gæa, but Homer speaks of Polyphemus, the chief of the Cyclops, as the son of Poseidon, and states the Cyclops to be his brothers.

[6] Possibly an image of him placed in readiness.

[7] This age was contemporary with the commencement of the dynasty of Zeus.

[8] Hesiod is said to have lived 850 years before the Christian era, consequently about 200 years after King David. He lived in Bœotia, where his tomb is still shown at Orchomenus. This ancient writer left behind him two great poems, one entitled "The Works and Days," in which he gives us some of the earliest Greek legends, and the other, "The Theogony," containing the genealogies of the gods; but, unfortunately, both these poems have been so interpolated by the writers of the Alexandrian school that they have lost their value as reliable sources of information with regard to the early beliefs of the Greek nation.

[9] Epimetheus signifies after-thought, Prometheus fore-thought.

[10] There are various versions of this myth. According to some the jar or vase was full of all "the ills which flesh is heir to."

[11] From Diaus, the sky.

[12] A sacred shield made for Zeus by Hephæstus, which derived its name from being covered by the skin of the goat Amalthea, the word Ægis signifying goat's-skin.

[13] See Demeter.

[14] This frightful monster had sprung from the slimy and stagnant waters which remained on the surface of the earth after the deluge of Deucalion.

[15] Castor and Pollux were known by the name of the Dioscuri, from dios, gods, and kuroi, youths.

[16] The ancient Greeks attributed much of the subsequent character of an individual to early influences; hence Hera, the future queen and mistress of heaven, is represented as being brought up in a domesticated and orderly household, where home virtues are carefully inculcated.

[17] In the Homeric age peacocks were unknown; it is therefore the later poets who describe Hera surrounded with peacocks, which were brought to Greece from India.

[18] This circumstance has given rise to the erroneous conclusion that Juno presided over the finances of the state, but the word moneta is derived from the Latin monere, which means to warn or admonish.

[19] See Roman Festivals.

[20] The first large ship possessed by the Greeks fit for more than coast navigation.

[21] When Perseus, with the help of Athene, had cut off the head of the Medusa, the two sisters caused a sad dirge-like song to issue from the mouths of the many snakes of which their hair was composed, whereupon Athene, pleased with the sound, imitated the melody on a reed, and thus invented the flute.

[22] For details see Roman Festivals.

[23] See Legend of Troy.

[24] Some, with but little reason, make Demeter the daughter of Uranus and Gæa.

[25] Demeter transformed Ascalaphus into an owl for revealing the secret.

[26] The course which the sun ran was considered by the ancients to be a rising and descending curve arc the centre of which was supposed to be reached by Helios at mid-day.

[27] The river Po.

[28] This great work of antiquity was destroyed by an earthquake fifty-six years after its erection, B.C. 256. The fragments remained on the ground for many centuries, until Rhodes was conquered by the Turks, and they were eventually sold by one of the generals of Caliph Othman IV. to a merchant of Emesa for £36,000, A.D. 672.

[29] According to some authorities, Strymon.

[30] This wonderful lyre, which had been given to Apollo by Hermes (Mercury) in exchange for the Caduceus or rod of wealth, is said to have possessed such extraordinary powers, that it caused a stone, upon which it was laid, to become so melodious, that ever afterwards, on being touched, it emitted a musical sound which resembled that produced by the lyre itself.

[31] Aristæus was worshipped as a rural divinity in various parts of Greece, and was supposed to have taught mankind how to catch bees, and to utilize honey and wax.

[32] Astræa was the daughter of the Titans Cœus and Phœbe. Perses was son of the Titans Crios and Eurybia.

[33] Called also Anaitis-Aphroditis.

[34] This occurred during the night Alexander the Great was born.

[35] Another version with regard to the origin of this defect, is that being born ugly and deformed, his mother Hera, disgusted at his unsightliness, herself threw him violently from her lap, and it was then that his leg was broken, producing the lameness from which he suffered ever after. On this occasion he fell into the sea, and was saved by the sea-nymphs Thetis and Eurynome, who kept him for nine years in a cavern beneath the ocean, where he made for them, in gratitude for their kindness, several beautiful ornaments, and trinkets of rare workmanship.

[36] According to some accounts Chares was the wife of Hephæstus.

[37] The trident resembled the arrow-headed pronged fork, used by the fishermen of the Mediterranean Sea in the eel-fishery.

[38] Scylla is a dangerous rock, much dreaded by mariners, in the Straits of Messina.

[39] The island of Rhodes owes its name to her.

[40] It is worthy of notice that the sons of Poseidon were, for the most part, distinguished by great force and turbulence of character, in keeping with the element over which their father was the presiding deity. They were giants in power, and intractable, fiery, and impatient by nature, spurning all efforts to control them; in all respects, therefore, fitting representatives of their progenitor, the mighty ruler of the sea.

[41] A cubit is the length from the elbow to the extremity of the middle finger, and therefore an indefinite measure, but modern usage takes it as representing a length of seventeen to eighteen inches.

[42] On the Egyptian coast.

[43] See Legend of the Argonauts.

[44] His two sons Deimos and Phobos.

[45] Romulus was deified by the Romans after death, and was worshipped by them under the name of Quirinus, an appellation which he shared in common with his father Mars.

[46] Midas was the son of Cybele and Gordius, the king who tied the celebrated and intricate knot.

[47] The shades of those mortals whose lives had neither been distinguished by virtue nor vice, were condemned to a monotonous, joyless, existence in the Asphodel meadows of Hades.

[48] Echidna was a bloodthirsty monster, half maiden, half serpent.

[49] One of the horns of the goat Amalthea, broken off by Zeus, and supposed to possess the power of filling itself with whatsoever its owner desired.

[50] According to another account, Momus discovered that Aphrodite made a noise when she walked.

[51] The word Psyche signifies "butterfly," the emblem of the soul in ancient art.

[52] Tiresias alone, of all the shades, was in full possession of his mental vigour.

[53] Most of the words ending in eus may also be pronounced thus: Æ´-ge-usā´-tre-uspro-me´-the-us, etc.

[54] The first e like ei in their.

[55] Th at the beginning of a word has its soft sound, as in both.