Roman Antiquities, and Ancient Mythology - For Classical Schools (2nd ed)
by Charles K. Dillaway
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Th{)a}l{=i}a presided over comedy, and whatever was gay, amiable, and pleasant. She holds a mask in her right hand, and on medals she is represented leaning against a pillar. She was the Muse of comedy, of which they had a great mixture on the Roman stage in the earliest ages of their poetry, and long after. She is distinguished from the other Muses in general by a mask, and from Melpom{)e}ne, the tragic Muse, by her shepherd's crook, not to speak of her look, which is meaner than that of Melpom{)e}ne, or her dress, which is shorter, and consequently less noble, than that of any other of the Muses.

Melpom{)e}ne was so styled from the dignity and excellence of her song. She presided over epic and lyric poetry. To her the invention of all mournful verses, and, particularly, of tragedy, was ascribed; for which reason Horace invokes her when he laments the death of Quintilius Varus. She is usually represented of a sedate countenance, and richly habited, with sceptres and crowns in one hand, and in the other a dagger. She has her mask on her head, which is sometimes placed so far backward that it has been mistaken for a second face. Her mask shows that she presided over the stage; and she is distinguished from Th{)a}l{=i}a, or the comic Muse, by having more of dignity in her look, stature, and dress. Melpom{)e}ne was supposed to preside over all melancholy subjects, as well as tragedy; as one would imagine at least from Horace's invoking her in one of his odes, and his desiring her to crown him with laurel in another.

Terps{)i}ch{)o}re; that is, the sprightly. Some attribute her name to the pleasure she took in dancing; others represent her as the protectress of music, particularly the flute; and add, that the chorus of the ancient drama was her province, to which also logic has been annexed. She is further said to be distinguished by the flutes which she holds, as well on medals as on other monuments.

Er{)a}to, presided over elegiac or amorous poetry, and dancing, whence she was sometimes called Saltatrix. She is represented as young, and crowned with myrtle and roses, having a lyre in her right hand, and a bow in her left, with a little winged Cupid placed by her, armed with his bow and arrows.

Polyhymnia. Her name, which is of Greek origin, and signifies much singing, seems to have been given her for the number of her songs, rather than her faithfulness of memory. To Polyhymnia belonged that harmony of voice and gesture which gives a perfection to oratory and poetry. She presided over rhetoric, and is represented with a crown of pearls and a white robe, in the act of extending her right hand, as if haranguing, and holding in her left a scroll, on which the word Suadere is written; sometimes, instead of the scroll, she appears holding a caduceus or sceptre.

Urania, or Coelestis. She is the Muse who extended her care to all divine or celestial subjects, such as the hymns in praise of the gods, the motions of the heavenly bodies, and whatever regarded philosophy or astronomy. She is represented in an azure robe, crowned with stars and supporting a large globe with both hands: on medals this globe stands upon a tripod.

Calli{)o}pe, who presides over eloquence and heroic poetry; so called from the ecstatic harmony of her voice. The poets, who are supposed to receive their inspirations from the Muses, chiefly invoked Calli{)o}pe, as she presided over the hymns made in honor of the gods. She is spoken of by Ovid, as the chief of all the Muses. Under the same idea, Horace calls her Regina, and attributes to her the skill of playing on what instrument she pleases.

ASTRAEA, or ASTREA, goddess of justice, was daughter of Astraeus, one of the Titans; or according to Ovid, of Jupiter and Themis. She descended from heaven in the golden age, and inspired mankind with principles of justice and equity, but the world growing corrupt, she re-ascended thither, where she became the constellation in the Zodiac called Virgo.

This goddess is represented with a serene countenance, her eyes bound or blinded, having a sword in one hand, and in the other a pair of balances, equally poised, or rods with a bundle of axes, and sitting on a square stone. Among the Egyptians, she is described with her left hand stretched forth and open, but without a head. According to the poets, she was conversant on earth during the golden and silver ages, but in those of brass and iron, was forced by the wickedness of mankind to abandon the earth and retire to heaven. Virgil hints that she first quitted courts and cities, and betook herself to rural retreats before she entirely withdrew.

NEMESIS, daughter of Jupiter and Necessity, or, according to some, of Oce{)a}nus and Nox, had the care of revenging the crimes which human justice left unpunished. The word Nem{)e}sis is of Greek origin, nor was there any Latin word that expressed it, therefore the Latin poets usually styled this goddess Rhamnusia, from a famous statue of Nem{)e}sis at Rhamnus in Attica. She is likewise called Adrastea, because Adrastus, king of Argos, first raised an altar to her. Nem{)e}sis is plainly divine vengeance, or the eternal justice of God, which severely punishes the wicked actions of men. She is sometimes represented with wings, to denote the celerity with which she follows men to observe their actions.


Gods of the Woods.

Pan, the god of shepherds and hunters, leader of the nymphs, president of the mountains, patron of a country life, and guardian of flocks and herds, was likewise adored by fishermen, especially those who lived about the promontories washed by the sea. There is scarcely any of the gods to whom the poets have given a greater diversity of parents. The most common opinion is, that he was the son of Mercury and Penel{)o}pe. As soon as he was born, his father carried him in a goat's skin to heaven, where he charmed all the gods with his pipe, so that they associated him with Mercury in the office of their messenger. After this he was educated on Mount Maen{)a}lus, in Arcadia, by Si{)o}ne and the other nymphs, who, attracted by his music, followed him as their conductor.

Pan, though devoted to the pleasures of rural life, distinguished himself by his valor. In the war of the giants he entangled Typhon in his nets. Bacchus, in his Indian expedition, was accompanied by him with a body of Satyrs, who rendered Bacchus great service. When the Gauls invaded Greece, and were just going to pillage Delphi, Pan struck them with such a sudden consternation by night, that they fled without being pursued: hence the expression of a Panic fear, for a sudden terror. The Romans adopted him among their deities, by the names of Lupercus and Lycaeus, and built a temple to him at the foot of Mount Palatine.

He is represented with a smiling, ruddy face, and thick beard covering his breast, two horns on his head, a star on his bosom, legs and thighs hairy, and the nose, feet, and tail of a goat. He is clothed in a spotted skin, having a shepherd's crook in one hand, and his pipe of unequal reeds in the other, and is crowned with pine, that tree being sacred to him.

Pan probably signifies the universal nature, proceeding from the divine mind and providence, of which the heaven, earth, sea, and the eternal fire, are so many members. Mythologists are of opinion that his upper parts are like a man, because the superior and celestial part of the world is beautiful, radiant, and glorious: his horns denote the rays of the sun, as they beam upwards, and his long beard signifies the same rays, as they have an influence upon the earth: the ruddiness of his face resembles the splendor of the sky, and the spotted skin which he wears is the image of the starry firmament: his lower parts are rough, hairy, and deformed, to represent the shrubs, wild creatures, trees, and mountains here below: his goat's feet signify the solidity of the earth; and his pipe of seven reeds, that celestial harmony which is made by the seven planets; lastly, his sheep-hook denotes that care and providence by which he governs the universe.

SILENUS. As Bacchus was the god of good humor and fellowship, so none of the deities appeared with a more numerous or splendid retinue, in which Sil{=e}nus was the principal person; of whose descent, however, we have no accounts to be relied on. Some say he was born at Malea, a city of Sparta; others at Nysa in Arabia; but the most probable conjecture is, that he was a prince of Caria, noted for his equity and wisdom. But whatever be the fate of these different accounts, Sil{=e}nus is said to have been preceptor to Bacchus, and was certainly a very suitable one for such a deity, the old man being heartily attached to wine. He however distinguished himself greatly in the war with the giants, by appearing in the conflict on an ass, whose braying threw them into confusion; for which reason, or because, when Bacchus engaged the Indians, their elephants were put to flight by the braying of the ass, it was raised to the skies, and there made a constellation.

The historian tells us that Sil{=e}nus was the first of all the kings that reigned at Nysa; that his origin is not known, it being beyond the memory of mortals: it is likewise said that he was a Phrygian, who lived in the reign of Midas, and that the shepherds having caught him, by putting wine into the fountain he used to drink of, brought him to Midas, who gave him his long ears; a fable intended to intimate that this extraordinary loan signified the faculty of receiving universal intelligence. Virgil makes Sil{=e}nus deliver a very serious and excellent discourse concerning the creation of the world, when he was scarcely recovered from a fit of drunkenness, which renders it probable that the sort of drunkenness with which Sil{=e}nus is charged, had something in it mysterious, and approaching to inspiration.

He is described as a short, corpulent old man, bald-headed, with a flat nose, prominent forehead and long ears. He is usually exhibited as over-laden with wine, and seated on a saddled ass, upon which he supports himself with a long staff in the one hand, and in the other carries a cantharus or jug, with the handle almost worn out with frequent use.

SYLVANUS. The descent of Sylv{=a}nus is extremely obscure. Some think him son of Faunus, some say he was the same with Faunus, whilst others suppose him the same deity with Pan, which opinion Pliny seems to adopt when he says that the AEgipans were the same with the Sylvans. He was unknown to the Greeks; but the Latins received the worship of him from the Pelasgi, upon their migration into Italy, and his worship seems wholly to have arisen out of the ancient sacred use of woods and groves, it being introduced to inculcate a belief that there was no place without the presence of a deity. The Pelasgi consecrated groves, and appointed solemn festivals, in honor of Sylv{=a}nus. The hog and milk were the offerings tendered him. A monument consecrated to this deity, by one Laches, gives him the epithet of Littor{=a}lis, whence it would seem that he was worshipped upon the sea-coasts.

The priests of Sylv{=a}nus constituted one of the principal colleges of Rome, and were in great reputation, a sufficient evidence of the fame of his worship. Many writers confound the Sylv{=a}ni, Fauni, Satyri, and Sil{=e}ni, with Pan.

Some monuments represent him as little of stature, with the face of a man, and the legs and feet of a goat, holding a branch of cypress in his hand, in token of his regard for Cyparissus, who was transformed into that tree. The pineapple, a pruning-knife in his hand, a crown coarsely made, and a dog, are the ordinary attributes of the representations of this rural deity. He appears sometimes naked, sometimes covered with a rustic garb which reaches down to his knee.

Sylv{=a}nus, as his name imports, presided over woods, and the fruits that grew in them; agreeable to which, (in some figures) he has a lap full of fruit, his pruning-hook in one hand, and a young cypress tree in the other. Virgil mentions the latter as a distinguishing attribute of this god: the same poet, on another occasion, describes him as crowned with wild flowers, and mentions his presiding over the cornfields as well as the woods.

SATYRI, or SATYRS, a sort of demi-gods, who with the Fauns and Sylvans, presided over groves and forests under the direction of Pan. They made part of the dramatis pers{=o}nae in the ancient Greek tragedies, which gave rise to the species of poetry called satirical.

There is a story that Euph{=e}mus, passing from Caria to the extreme parts of the ocean, discovered many desert islands, and being forced by tempestuous weather to land upon one of them, called Satyr{)i}da, he found inhabitants covered with yellow hair, having tails not much less than horses. We are likewise told, that in the expedition which Hanno the Carthaginian made to the parts of Lybia lying beyond Hercules' pillars, they came to a great bay called the Western Horn, in which was an island where they could find or see nothing by day-light but woods, and yet in the night they observed many fires, and heard an incredible and astonishing noise of drums and trumpets; whence they concluded that a number of Satyrs abode there.

It is pretended there really were such monsters as the pagans deified under the name of Satyrs; and one of them, it is said, was brought to Sylla, having been surprised in his sleep. Sylla ordered him to be interrogated by people of different countries, to know what language he spoke; but the Satyr only answered with cries, not unlike those of goats and the neighing of horses. This monster had a human body, but the thighs, legs, and feet of a goat. To the above stories may be added that of the Satyr who passed the Rubicon in presence of Caesar and his whole army.

The Satyrs of the ancients were the ministers and attendants of Bacchus. Their form was not the most inviting; for though their countenances were human, they had horns on their foreheads, crooked hands, rough and hairy bodies, feet and legs like a goat's, and tails which resembled those of horses. The shepherds sacrificed to them the firstlings of their flocks, but more especially grapes and apples; and they addressed to them songs in their forests by which they endeavored to conciliate their favor. When Satyrs arrived at an advanced age they were called Sil{=e}ni.

FAUNI, or FAUNS, a species of demi-gods, inhabiting the forests, called also Sylv{=a}ni. They were sons of Faunus and Fauna, or Fatua, king and queen of the Latins, and though accounted demi-gods, were supposed to die after a long life. Arnobius, indeed, has shown that their father, or chief, lived only one hundred and twenty years. The Fauns were Roman deities, unknown to the Greeks. The Roman Faunus was the same with the Greek Pan; and as in the poets we find frequent mention of Fauns, and Pans, or Panes, in the plural number, most probable the Fauns were the same with the Pans, and all descended from one progenitor.

The Romans called them Fauni and Ficarii. The denomination Ficarii was not derived from the Latin ficus a fig, as some have imagined, but from ficus, fici, a sort of fleshy tumor or excrescence growing on the eyelids and other parts of the body, which the Fauns were represented as having. They were called Fauni, a fando, from speaking, because they were wont to speak and converse with men; an instance of which is given in the voice that was heard from the wood, in the battle between the Romans and Etrurians for the restoration of the Tarquins, and which encouraged the Romans to fight. We are told that the Fauni were husbandmen, the Satyrs vine-dressers, and the Sylv{=a}ni those who cut down wood in the forests.

They were represented with horns on their heads, pointed ears, and crowned with branches of the pine, which was a tree sacred to them, whilst their lower extremities resembled those of a goat.

Horace makes Faunus the guardian and protector of men of wit, and Virgil, a god of oracles and predictions; but this is, perhaps, founded on the etymology of his name, for {phonein} in Greek, and Fari in Latin, of which it has been supposed a derivative, signify to speak; and it was, perhaps, for the same reason, they called his wife Fauna, that is, Fatidica, prophetess. Faunus is described by Ovid with horns on his head, and crowned with the pine tree.

PRIAPUS is said, by some, to have been the son of Bacchus and Nais, or as others will have it, of Chi{)o}ne; but the generality of authors agree, that he was son of Bacchus and Venus. He was born at Lamps{)a}chus, a city of Mysia, at the mouth of the Hellespont, but in so deformed a state, that his mother, through shame, abandoned him. On his growing up to maturity, the inhabitants of the place banished him their territories, on account of his vicious habits; but being soon after visited with an epidemic disease, the Lampsacans consulted the oracle of Dod{=o}na, and Pri{=a}pus was in consequence recalled. Temples were erected to him as the tutelar deity of vineyards and gardens, to defend them from thieves and from birds.

He is usually represented naked and obscene, with a stern countenance, matted hair, crowned with garden herbs, and holding a wooden sword, or scythe, whilst his body terminates in a shapeless trunk. His figures are generally erected in gardens and orchards to serve as scarecrows. Pri{=a}pus held a pruning-hook in his hands, when he had hands, for he was sometimes nothing more than a mere log of wood, as Martial somewhat humorously calls him. Indeed the Roman poets in general seem to have looked on him as a ridiculous god, and are all ready enough either to despise or abuse him.

Trimalchio, in his ridiculous feasts described by Petronius, had a figure of this god to be held up during his dessert: it was made of paste, and, as Horace observes on another occasion, that he owed all his divinity to the carpenter, Petronius seems to hint that he was wholly obliged for it to the pastry cook in this. Some mythologists make the birth of Pri{=a}pus allude to that radical moisture which supports all vegetable productions, and which is produced by Bacchus and Venus, that is, the solar heat, and the fluid whence Venus is said to have sprung. Some affirm that he was the same with the Baal of the Phoenicians, mentioned in scripture.

ARISTAEUS, son of Apollo, by the nymph Cyrene, daughter of Hypseus, king of the Lap{)i}thae, was born in Lybia, and in that part of it where the city Cyrene was built. He received his education from the nymphs, who taught him to extract oil from olives, and to make honey, cheese, and butter; all which arts he communicated to mankind. Going to Thebes, he there married Auton{)o}e, daughter of Cadmus, and, by her, was father to Actaeon, who was torn in pieces by his own dogs. At length he passed into Thrace, where Bacchus initiated him into the mysteries of the Orgia, and taught him many things conducive to the happiness of life. Having dwelt some time near Mount Hemus, he disappeared, and not only the barbarous people of that country, but the Greeks likewise decreed him divine honors.

It is remarked by Bayle, that Aristaeus found out the solstitial rising of Sirius, or the dog-star; and he adds, it is certain that this star had a particular relation to Aristaeus; for this reason, when the heats of the dog-star laid waste the Cycl{)a}des, and occasioned there a pestilence, Aristaeus was entreated to put a stop to it. He went directly into the isle of Cea, and built an altar to Jupiter, offered sacrifices to that deity, as well to the malignant star, and established an anniversary for it. These produced a very good effect, for it was from thence that the Etesian winds had their origin, which continue forty days, and temper the heat of the summer. On his death, for the services he had rendered mankind, he was placed among the stars, and is the Aquarius of the Zodiac.

TERMINUS was a very ancient deity among the Romans, whose worship was first instituted by Numa Pompilius, he having erected in his honor on the Tarpeian hill a temple which was open at the top. This deity was thought to preside over the stones or land-marks, called Term{)i}ni, which were so highly venerated, that it was sacrilege to move them, and the criminal becoming devoted to the gods, it was lawful for any man to kill him. The Roman Term{)i}ni were square stones or posts, much resembling our mile-stones, erected to show that no force or violence should be used in settling mutual boundaries; they were sometimes crowned with a human head, but had seldom any inscriptions; one, however, is mentioned to this effect, "Whosoever shall take away this, or shall order it to be taken away, may he die the last of his family."

VERTUMNUS, the Proteus of the Roman ritual, was the god of tradesmen, and, from the power he had of assuming any shape, was believed to preside over the thoughts of mankind. His courtship of Pom{=o}na makes one of the most elegant and entertaining stories in Ovid. The Romans esteemed him the god of tradesmen, from the turns and changes which traffic effects. There was no god had a greater variety of representations than Vertumnus. He is painted with a garland of flowers on his head, a pruning hook in one hand, and ripe fruits in the other. Pom{=o}na has a pruning hook in her right hand, and a branch in her left. Pliny introduces this goddess personally, even in his prose, to make her speak in praise of the fruits committed to her care. We learn from Ovid that this goddess was of that class which they anciently called Hamadryads.

Both these deities were unknown to the Greeks, and only honored by the Romans. Some imagine Vertumnus an emblem of the year, which, though it assume different dresses according to the different seasons, is at no time so luxuriant as in autumn, when the harvest is crowned, and the fruits appear in their full perfection and lustre; but historians say that Vertumnus was an ancient king of the Tuscans, who first taught his people the method of planting orchards, gardens, and vineyards, and the manner of cultivating, pruning, and grafting fruit-trees; whence he is reported to have married Pom{=o}na. Some think he was called Vertumnus, from turning the lake Curtus into the Tiber.


Goddesses of the Woods.

DIANA, daughter of Jupiter and Lat{=o}na, and sister of Apollo, was born in the island of Delos. She had a threefold divinity, being styled Di{=a}na on earth, Luna, or the moon, in heaven, and Hec{)a}te, or Proserpine, in hell. The poets say she had three heads, one of a horse, another of a woman, and the third of a dog. Hesiod makes Di{=a}na, Luna, and Hec{)a}te, three distinguished goddesses.

Of all the various characters of this goddess, there is no one more known than that of her presiding over woods, and delighting in hunting. The Di{=a}na Venatrix, or goddess of the chase, is frequently represented as running on, with her vest flying back with the wind, notwithstanding its being shortened, and girt about her for expedition. She is tall of stature, and her face, though so very handsome, is something manly. Her feet are sometimes bare, and sometimes adorned with a sort of buskin, which was worn by the huntresses of old. She often has a quiver on her shoulder, and sometimes holds a javelin, but more usually her bow, in her right hand. It is thus she makes her appearance in several of her statues, and it is thus the Roman poets describe her, particularly in the epithets they give this goddess, in the use of which they are so happy that they often bring the idea of whole figures of her into your mind by a single word. The statues of this Di{=a}na were very frequent in woods: she was represented there in all the different ways they could think of; sometimes as hunting, sometimes as bathing, and sometimes as resting herself after her fatigue. The height of Di{=a}na's stature is frequently marked out in the poets, and that, generally, by comparing her with her nymphs.

Another great character of Di{=a}na is that under which she is represented as the intelligence which presides over the planet of the moon; in which she is depicted in her car as directing that planet. Her figure under this character is frequently enough to be met with on gems and medals, which generally exhibit her with a lunar crown, or crescent on her forehead, and sometimes as drawn by stags, sometimes by does, but, more commonly than either, by horses. The poets speak of her chariot and her horses; they agree with the artists in giving her but two, and show, that the painters of old generally drew them of a perfect white color.

A third remarkable way of representing Di{=a}na was with three bodies; this is very common among the ancient figures of the goddess, and it is hence the poets call her the triple, the three-headed, and the three-bodied Di{=a}na. Her distinguishing name under this triple appearance is Hec{)a}te, or Trivia; a goddess frequently invoked in enchantments, and fit for such black operations; for this is the infernal Di{=a}na, and as such is represented with the characteristics of a fury, rather than as one of the twelve great celestial deities: all her hands hold instruments of terror, and generally grasp either cords, or swords, or serpents, or fire-brands.

There are various conjectures concerning the name Hec{)a}te, which is supposed to come from a Greek word signifying an hundred, either because an hundred victims at a time used to be offered to her, or else because by her edicts the ghosts of those who die without burial, wander an hundred years upon the banks of the Styx. Mythologists say that Hec{)a}te is the order and force of the Fates, who obtained from the divine power that influence which they have over human bodies; that the operation of the Fates are hidden, but descend by the means and interposition of the stars, wherefore it is necessary that all inferior things submit to the cares, calamities, and death which the Fates bring upon them, without any possibility of resisting the divine will.

Hesiod relates of Hec{)a}te, to show the extent of her power, that Jupiter had heaped gifts and honors upon her far above all the other deities; that she was empress of the earth and sea, and all things which are comprehended in the compass of the heavens; that she was a goddess easy to be entreated, kind, and always ready to do good, bountiful of gold and riches, which are wholly in her power; that whatever springs from seed, whether in heaven, or on earth, is subject to her, and that she governs the fates of all things.

PALES was a rural goddess of the Romans. She was properly the divinity of shepherds, and the tutelar deity and protectress of their flocks. Her votaries had usually wooden images of her. A feast called Palilia or Parilia was celebrated on the twenty-first of April, or, according to some, in May, in the open fields. The offerings were milk and cakes of millet, in order to engage her to defend their flocks from wild beasts and infectious diseases. As part of the ceremony, they burned heaps of straw, and leaped over them. Some make Pales the same with Vesta or Cyb{)e}le. This goddess is represented as an old woman.

FLORA, the goddess of flowers, was a Roman deity. The ancients made her the wife of Zephyrus, to intimate that Flora, or the natural heat of the plant, must concur with the influence of the warmest wind for the production of flowers. Varro reckons Flora among the ancient deities of the Sabines, which were received into Rome on the union of the Sabines with the Romans. Ovid says, that her Greek name was Chloris, and that the Latins changed it into Flora.

FERONIA was the goddess of woods and orchards. She is called Feronia from the verb fero, to bring forth, because she produced and propagated trees, or from Fer{=o}n{)i}ci, a town situated near the foot of Mount Soracte, in Italy, where was a wood, and a temple dedicated to her; which town and wood are mentioned by Virgil, in his catalogue of the forces of Turnus. The Lacedemonians first introduced her worship into Italy under Evander; for these people, being offended at the rigor of the laws of Lycurgus, resolved to seek out some new plantation, and arriving, after a long and dangerous voyage, in Italy, they, to show their gratitude for their preservation, built a temple to Feronia, so called from their bearing patiently all the fatigues and dangers they had encountered in their voyage. This edifice casually taking fire, the people ran to remove and preserve the image of the goddess, when on a sudden the fire became extinguished, and the grove assumed a native and flourishing verdure.

Horace mentions the homage that was paid to this deity, by washing the face and hands, according to custom, in the sacred fountain which flowed near her temple. Slaves received the cap of liberty at her shrine, on which account they regarded her as their patroness. How Feronia was descended, where born, or how educated, is not transmitted to us; but she is said to have been wife to Jupiter Anxur, so called, because he was worshipped in that place.

NYMPHAE, the NYMPHS, were certain inferior goddesses, inhabiting the mountains, woods, valleys, rivers, seas, &c. said to be daughters of Oceanus and Tethys. According to ancient mythology, the whole universe was full of these nymphs, who are distinguished into several ranks and classes, though the general division of them is into celestial and terrestrial. I. The Celestial Nymphs, called Uraniae, were supposed to govern the heavenly bodies or spheres. II. The Terrestrial Nymphs, called Epigeiae, presided over the several parts of the inferior world; these were again subdivided into those of the water, and those of the earth.

The Nymphs of the water were ranged under several classes: 1. The Ocean{)i}des, or Nymphs of the ocean. 2. The Nereids, daughters of Nereus and Doris. 3. The Naiads, Nymphs of the fountains. 4. The Ephydri{)a}des, also Nymphs of the fountains; and 5. The Limni{)a}des, Nymphs of the lakes. The Nymphs of the earth were likewise divided into different classes; as, 1. The Ore{)a}des, or Nymphs of the mountains. 2. The Napaeae, Nymphs of the meadows; and 3. The Dryads and Hamadryads, Nymphs of the woods and forests. Besides these, there were Nymphs who took their names from particular countries, rivers, &c. as the Dardan{)i}des, Tiber{)i}des, Ismen{)i}des, &c.

Pausanias reports it as the opinion of the ancient poets that the Nymphs were not altogether free from death, or immortal, but that their years wore in a manner innumerable; that prophecies were inspired by the Nymphs, as well as the other deities; and that they had foretold the destruction of several cities: they were likewise esteemed as the authors of divination.

Meursius is of opinion, that the Greeks borrowed their notion of these divinities from the Phoenicians, for nympha, in their language, signifying soul, the Greeks imagined that the souls of the ancient inhabitants of Greece had become Nymphs; particularly that the souls of those who had inhabited the woods were called Dryads; those who inhabited the mountains, Ore{)a}des; those who dwelt on the sea-coasts, Nereids; and, lastly, those who had their place of abode near rivers or fountains, Naiads. Though goats were sometimes sacrificed to the Nymphs, yet their stated offerings were milk, oil, honey and wine. They were represented as young and beautiful virgins, and dressed in conformity to the character ascribed to them.


Gods of the Sea.

NEPTUNE was the son of Saturn, and Rhea or Ops, and brother of Jupiter. When arrived at maturity, he assisted his brother Jupiter in his expeditions, for which that god, on attaining to supreme power, assigned him the sea and the islands for his empire. Whatever attachment Neptune might have had to his brother at one period, he was at another expelled heaven for entering into a conspiracy against him, in conjunction with several other deities; whence he fled, with Apollo, to Laomedon, king of Troy, where Neptune having assisted in raising the walls of the city, and being dismissed unrewarded, in revenge, sent a sea-monster to lay waste the country.

On another occasion, this deity had a contest with Vulcan and Minerva, in regard to their skill. The goddess, as a proof of her's, made a horse, Vulcan a man, and Neptune a bull, whence that animal was used in the sacrifices to him, though it is probable that, as the victim was to be black, the design was to point out the raging quality and fury of the sea, over which he presided. The Greeks make Neptune to have been the creator of the horse, which he produced from out of the earth with a blow of his trident, when disputing with Minerva who should give the name to Cecropia, which was afterwards called Athens, from the name in Greek of Minerva, who made an olive tree spring up suddenly, and thus obtained the victory.

In this fable, however, it is evident that the horse could signify nothing but a ship; for the two things in which that region excelled being ships and olive-trees, it was thought politic by this means to bring the citizens over from too great a fondness for sea affairs, to the cultivation of their country, by showing that Pallas was preferable to Neptune, or, in other words, husbandry to sailing, which, without some further meaning, the production of a horse could never have done. It notwithstanding appears that Neptune had brought the management of the horse, as likewise the art of building ships, to very great perfection; insomuch that Pamphus, who was the most ancient writer of hymns to the gods, calls him the benefactor of mankind, in bestowing upon them horses and ships which had stems and decks that resembled towers.

If Neptune created the horse, he was likewise the inventor of chariot-races; hence Mithrid{=a}tes, king of Pontus, threw chariots, drawn by four horses, into the sea, in honor of Neptune: and the Romans instituted horse-races in the circus during his festival, at which time all horses ceased from working, and the mules were adorned with wreaths of flowers.

Neptune, represented as a god of the sea, makes a considerable figure: he is described with black or dark hair, his garment of an azure or sea-green color, seated in a large shell drawn by whales, or sea-horses, with his trident in his hand, attended by the sea-gods Palaemon, Glaucus, and Phorcys; the sea-goddesses Thetis, Melita, and Panop{=e}a, and a long train of Tritons and sea-nymphs.

The inferior artists represent him sometimes with an angry and disturbed air; and we may observe the same difference in this particular between the great and inferior poets as there is between the bad and the good artists. Thus Ovid describes Neptune with a sullen look, whereas Virgil expressly tells us that he has a mild face, even where he is representing him in a passion. Even at the time that he is provoked, and might be expected to have appeared disturbed, and in a passion, there is serenity and majesty in his face.

On some medals he treads on the beak of a ship, to show that he presided over the seas, or more particularly over the Mediterranean sea, which was the great, and almost the only scene for navigation among the old Greeks and Romans. He is standing, as he generally was represented; he most commonly, too, has his trident in his right hand: this was his peculiar sceptre, and seems to have been used by him chiefly to rouse up the waters; for we find sometimes that he lays it aside when he is to appease them, but he resumes it when there is occasion for violence. Virgil makes him shake Troy from its foundation with it; and in Ovid it is with the stroke of this that the waters of the earth are let loose for the general deluge. The poets have generally delighted in describing this god as passing over the calm surface of the waters, in his chariot drawn by sea-horses. The fine original description of this is in Homer, from whom Virgil and Statius have copied it.

In searching for the mythological sense of the fable, we must again have recourse to Egypt, that kingdom which, above all others, has furnished the most ample harvest for the reaper of mysteries. The Egyptians, to denote navigation, and the return of the Phoenician fleet, which annually visited their coast, used the figure of an Osiris borne on a winged horse, and holding a three-forked spear, or harpoon. To this image they gave the name of Poseidon, or Neptune, which, as the Greeks and Romans afterwards adopted, sufficiently proves this deity had his birth here. Thus the maritime Osiris of the Egyptians became a new deity with those who knew not the meaning of the symbol.

TRITON. It is not agreed who were the parents of Triton; but he was a sea-deity, the herald and trumpeter of Oceanus and Neptune. He sometimes delighted in mischief, for he carried off the cattle from the Tanagrian fields, and destroyed the smaller coasting vessels; so that to appease his resentment, the Tanagrians offered him libations of new wine. Pleased with its flavor and taste, he drank so freely that he fell asleep, and tumbling from an eminence, one of the natives cut of his head. He left a daughter called Tristia.

The poets ordinarily attribute to Triton, the office of calming the sea, and stilling of tempests: thus in the Metamorphoses we read, that Neptune desiring to recall the waters of the deluge, commanded Triton to sound his trumpet, at the noise of which they retired to their respective channels, and left the earth again habitable, having swept off almost the whole human race.

This god is exhibited in the human form from the waist upwards, with blue eyes, a large mouth, and hair matted like wild parsley; his shoulders covered with a purple skin, variegated with small scales, his feet resembling the fore feet of a horse, and his lower parts terminating in a double forked tail: sometimes he is seen in a car, with horses of a bright cerulean. His trumpet is a large conch, or sea-shell. There were several Tritons, but one chief over all, the distinguished messenger of Neptune, as Mercury was of Jupiter, and Iris of Juno.

OCEANUS, oldest son of Coelus and Terra, or Vesta. He married Tethys, and besides her had many other wives. He had several sisters, all Nymphs, each of whom possessed an hundred woods and as many rivers. Oceanus was esteemed by the ancients as the father both of gods and men, who were said to have taken their beginning from him, on account of the ocean's encompassing the earth with its waves, and because he was the principal of that radical moisture diffused through universal matter, without which, according to Thales, nothing could either be produced or subsist.

Homer makes Juno visit Oceanus at the remotest limits of the earth, and acknowledge him and Tethys as the parents of the gods, adding, that she herself had been brought up under their tuition. Many of his children are mentioned in poetical story, whose names it would be endless to enumerate, and, indeed, they are only the appellations of the principal rivers of the world. Oceanus was described with a bull's head, to represent the rage and bellowing of the ocean when agitated by storms. Oceanus and Tethys are ranked in the highest classes of sea-deities, and as governors in chief over the whole world of waters.

NEREUS, a sea-deity, was son of Oceanus, by Tethys. Apollodorus gives him Terra for his mother. His education and authority were in the waters, and his residence, more particularly, the AEgean seas. He had the faculty of assuming what form he pleased. He was regarded as a prophet; and foretold to Paris the war which the rape of Helen would bring upon his country. When Hercules was ordered to fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides, he went to the Nymphs inhabiting the grottoes of Eridanus, to know where he might find them; the Nymphs sent him to Nereus, who, to elude the inquiry, perpetually varied his form, till Hercules having seized him, resolved to hold him till he resumed his original shape, on which he yielded the desired information. Nereus had, by his sister Doris, fifty daughters called Nereids. Hesiod highly celebrates him as a mild and peaceful old man, a lover of justice and moderation. Nereus and Doris, with their descendants the Nereids, or Oceaniads, so called from Oceanus, are ranked in the third class of water deities.

PALAEMON, or MELICERTES, was son of Athamas, king of Thebes and Ino. The latter fearing the rage of her husband, who in his madness had killed his son Learchus, took Melicertes in her arms, and leaped with him from the rock Molyris into the sea. Neptune received them with open arms, and gave them a place among the marine gods, only changing their names, Ino being called Leucothea, or Leucothoe, and Melicertes, Palaemon. Ino, under the name Leucothea, is supposed, by some, to be the same with Aurora: the Romans gave her the name of Matuta, she being reputed the goddess that ushers in the morning; and Palaemon, they called Portumnus, or Portunnus, and painted him with a key in his hand, to denote that he was the guardian of harbors. Adorations were paid to him chiefly at Tenedos, and the sacrifice offered to him was an infant.

Pausanias says that the body of Melicertes was thrown on the Isthmus of Corinth where Sisyphus, his uncle, who reigned in that city, instituted the Isthmian games in his honor. For this fable we are indebted to the fertile invention of the Greeks, Melicertes being no other than the Melcarthus or the Hercules of Tyre, who, from having been drowned in the sea, was called a god of it, and from his many voyages, the guardian of harbors.

GLAUCUS, a sea-deity. His story, which is very fanciful, shows the extravagance of poetical fiction amongst the ancients. Before his deification, Glaucus is said to have been a fisherman of Anthedon, who having one day remarked that the fishes which he laid on a particular herb revived and threw themselves into the sea, resolved himself to taste it, and immediately followed their example: the consequence was, that he became a Triton, and ever after was reputed a marine deity, attending with the rest on the car of Neptune.

The descent of this deity is exceeding dubious. He is said to have carried off Ariadne from the island Dia, for which Bacchus bound him fast with vine-twigs. The ship Argo is said to have been constructed by him, and he is not only mentioned as commanding her, when Jason fought with the Tyrrhenians, but as being the only one of her crew that came off without a wound. He dwelt some time at Delos, and, besides prophesying with the Nereids, is affirmed to have instructed Apollo in the art.

SCYLLA was the daughter of Phorcus, or Phorcys, by Ceto. Glaucus, being passionately fond of Scylla, after vainly endeavoring to gain her affections, applied to Circe, and besought her, by her art, to induce her to return his affection. On this, Circe disclosed to him her passion, but Glaucus remaining inexorable, the enchantress vowed revenge, and by her magic charms so infected the fountain in which Scylla bathed, that on entering it, her lower parts were turned into dogs; at which the nymph, terrified at herself, plunged into the sea, and there was changed to a rock, notorious for the shipwrecks it occasioned.

Authors are disagreed as to Scylla's form; some say she retained her beauty from the neck downwards, but had six dog's heads: others maintain, that her upper parts continued entire, but that she had below the body of a wolf, and the tail of a serpent. The rock named Scylla, lies between Italy and Sicily, and the noise of the waves beating on it is supposed to have occasioned the fable of the barking of dogs, and howling of wolves, ascribed to the imaginary monster.

CHARYBDIS was a rapacious woman, a female robber, who, it is said, stole the oxen of Hercules, for which she was thunder-struck by Jupiter, and turned into a whirlpool, dangerous to sailors. This whirlpool was situated opposite the rock Scylla, at the entrance of the Faro from Messina, and occasioned the proverb of running into one danger to avoid another. Some affirm that Hercules killed her himself; others, that Scylla committed this robbery, and was killed for it by Hercules.


Tartarus and its Deities.

TARTARUS or HELL, the region of punishment after death. The whole imaginary world, which we call Hell, though according to the ancients it was the receptacle of all departed persons, of the good as well as the bad, is divided by Virgil into five parts: the first may be called the previous region; the second is the region of waters, or the river which they were all to pass; the third is what we may call the gloomy region, and what the ancients called Erebus; the fourth is Tartarus, or the region of torments; and the fifth the region of joy and bliss, or what we still call Elysium.

The first part in it Virgil has stocked with two sorts of beings; first, with those which make the real misery of mankind upon earth, such as war, discord, labor, grief, cares, distempers, and old age; and, secondly, with fancied terrors, and all the most frightful creatures of our own imagination, such as Gorgons, Harpies, Chimaeras and the like.

The next is the water which all the departed were supposed to pass, to enter into the other world; this was called Styx, or the hateful passage: the imaginary personages of this division are the souls of the departed, who are either passing over, or suing for a passage, and the master of a vessel who carries them over, one freight after another, according to his will and pleasure.

The third division begins immediately with the bank on the other side the river, and was supposed to extend a great way in: it is subdivided again into several particular districts; the first seems to be the receptacle for infants. The next for all such as have been put to death without a cause; next is the place for those who have put a period to their own lives, a melancholy region, and situated amidst the marshes made by the overflowings of the Styx, or hateful river, or passage into the other world: after this are the fields of mourning, full of dark woods and groves, and inhabited by those who died of love: last of all spreads an open champaign country, allotted for the souls of departed warriors; the name of this whole division is Erebus: its several districts seem to be disposed all in a line, one after the other, but after this the great line or road divides into two, of which the right hand road leads to Elysium, or the place of the blessed, and the left hand road to Tartarus, or the place of the tormented.

The fourth general division of the subterraneous world is this Tartarus, or the place of torments: there was a city in it, and a prince to preside over it: within this city was a vast deep pit, in which the tortures were supposed to be performed: in this horrid part Virgil places two sorts of souls; first, of such as have shown their impiety and rebellion toward the gods; and secondly, of such as have been vile and mischievous among men: those, as he himself says of the latter more particularly, who hated their brethren, used their parents ill, or cheated their dependants, who made no use of their riches, who committed incest, or disturbed the marriage union of others, those who were rebellious subjects, or knavish servants, who were despisers of justice, or betrayers of their country, and who made and unmade laws not for the good of the public, but only to get money for themselves; all these, and the despisers of the gods, Virgil places in this most horrid division of his subterraneous world, and in the vast abyss, which was the most terrible part even of that division.

The fifth division is that of Elysium, or the place of the blessed; here Virgil places those who died for their country, those of pure lives, truly inspired poets, the inventors of arts, and all who have done good to mankind: he does not speak of any particular districts for these, but supposes that they have the liberty of going where they please in that delightful region, and conversing with whom they please; he only mentions one vale, towards the end of it, as appropriated to any particular use; this is the vale of Lethe or forgetfulness, where many of the ancient philosophers, and the Platonists in particular, supposed the souls which had passed through some periods of their trial, were immersed in the river which gave its name to it, in order to be put into new bodies, and to fill up the whole course of their probation, in an upper world.

In each of these three divisions, on the other side of the river Styx, which perhaps were comprehended under the name of Ades, as all the five might be under that of Orcus, was a prince or judge: Minos for the regions of Erebus; Rhadamanthus for Tartarus; and AEacus for Elysium, Pluto and Proserpine had their palace at the entrance of the road to the Elysian fields, and presided as sovereigns over the whole subterraneous world.

PLUTO, son of Saturn and Ops, assisted Jupiter in his wars, and after victory had crowned their exertions in placing his brother on the throne, be obtained a share of his father's dominions, which, as some authors say, was the eastern continent, and lower regions of Asia; but, according to the common opinion, Pluto's division lay in the west. He fixed his residence in Spain, and lived in Iberia, near the Pyrrenaean mountains: Spain being a fertile country, and abounding in minerals and mines, Pluto was esteemed the god of wealth; for it must be here observed, that the poets confound Pluto, god of hell, with Plutus, god of riches, though they were distinct deities, and always so considered by the ancients.

Pluto's regions being supposed to lie under ground; and as he was the first who taught men to bury their dead, it was thence inferred that he was king of the infernal regions, whence sprung a belief, that as all souls descended to him, so when they were in his possession, he bound them with inevitable chains, and delivered them to be tried by judges, after which he dispensed rewards and punishments according to their several deserts. Pluto was therefore called the infernal Jupiter, and oblations were made to him by the living, for the souls of their friends departed.

Although Pluto was brother of Jupiter, yet none of the goddesses would condescend to marry him, owing to the deformity of his person, joined to the darkness of his mansions. Enraged at this reluctance in the goddesses, and mortified at his want of issue, Pluto ascended his chariot, and drove to Sicily, where chancing to discover Proserpine with her companions gathering flowers in a valley of Enna, near mount AEtna, the grisly god, struck with her charms, instantly seized her, and forcing her into his chariot, went rapidly off to the river Chemarus, through which he opened himself a passage to the realms of night. Orpheus says, this descent was made through the Cecropian cave in Attica, not far from Eleusis.

His whole domains are washed with vast and rapid rivers, whose peculiar qualities strike horror into mortals. Cocytus falls with an impetuous roaring; Phlegethon rages with a torrent of flames; the Acharusian fen is dreadful for its stench and filth: nor does Charon, the ferryman, who wafts souls over, occasion any less horror; Cerberus, the triple-headed dog, stands ready with open mouths to receive them; and the Furies shake at them their serpentine locks.

Thus far the common fable; but the following seems the true foundation of the story which has been so much disguised; Pluto having retired into Spain, applied himself to the working of the mines of silver and gold, which in that country, were very common, especially on the side of Cadiz, where he fixed his abode. Boetica, his residence, was that province now called Andalusia, and the river Boetis, now Guadalquiver, gave that name to it. This river formed of old, at its mouth, a small island, called Tartessus, which was the Tartessus of the ancients, and whence Tartarus was formed.

It may be remarked, that though Spain be not now fertile in mines, yet the ancients speak of it as a country where they abounded. Posidonius says, that its mountains and hills were almost all mountains of gold; Arienus, that near Tartessus was a mountain of silver; and Aristotle, that the first Phoenicians who landed there, found such quantities of gold and of silver, that they made anchors for their ships of those precious metals. This, doubtless, is what determined Pluto, who was ingenius in such operations, to fix himself near to Tartessus; and this making him pass also for a wealthy prince, procured for him the name of Pluto, instead of that of Agelestus.

The situation of Pluto's kingdom, which was low in respect to Greece, occasioned him to be looked on as the god of hell; and as he continually employed laborers for his mines, who chiefly resided in the bowels of the earth, and there commonly died, Pluto was reputed the king of the dead. The ocean, likewise, upon whose coasts he reigned, was supposed to be covered with darkness. These circumstances united, appear to have been the foundation of the fables afterwards invented concerning Pluto and his realms of night. It is probable, for example, that the famous Tartarus, the place so noted in the empire of this god, comes from Tartessus, near Cadiz: the river Lethe not unlikely from the Guada-Lethe, which flows over against that city; and the lake Avernus, or the Acheronian fen, from the word Aharona, importing, at the extremities, a name given to that lake, which is near the ocean.

Pluto was extremely revered both by the Greeks and Romans. He had a magnificent temple at Pylos. Near the river Corellus, in Boeotia, he had also an altar, for some mystical reason, in common with Pallas. His chief festival was in February, and called Charistia, because their oblations were made for the dead. Black bulls were the victims offered up, and the ceremonies were performed in the night, it not being lawful to sacrifice to him in the day time, on account of his aversion to the light. The cypress tree was sacred to Pluto, boughs of which were carried at funerals.

He is usually represented in an ebony chariot, drawn by his four black horses, Orphnaeus, AEthon, Nycteus, and Alastor. As god of the dead, keys were the ensigns of his authority, because there is no possibility of returning when the gates of his palace are locked. Sometimes he holds a sceptre, to denote his power; at other times a wand, with which he directs the movements of his subject ghosts. Homer speaks of his hemlet as having the quality of rendering the wearer invisible; and tells us that Minerva borrowed it when she fought against the Trojans, that she might not be discovered by Mars. Perseus also used this hemlet when he cut off Medusa's head.

Mythologists pretend that Pluto is the earth, the natural powers and faculties of which are under his direction, so that he is monarch not only of all riches which come from thence, and are at length swallowed up by it, but likewise of the dead; for as all living things spring from the earth, so are they resolved into the principles whence they arose. Proserpine is by them reputed to be the seed or grain of fruits or corn, which must be taken into the earth, and hid there before it can be nourished by it.

PLUTUS, the god of riches. Though Plutus be not an infernal god, yet as his name and office were similar to Pluto's, we shall here distinguish them, although both were gods of riches. Pluto was born of Saturn and Ops, or Rhea, and was brother of Jupiter and Neptune; but Plutus, the god of whom we here speak, was son of Jason or Jasion by Ceres. He is represented blind and lame, injudicious and fearful. Being lame, he confers estates but slowly: for want of judgment, his favors are commonly bestowed on the unworthy; and as he is timorous, so he obliges rich men to watch their treasures with fear. Plutus is painted with wings, to signify the swiftness of his retreat, when he takes his departure. Little more of him remains in story, than that he had a daughter named Euriboea; unless the comedy of Aristophanes, called by his name, be taken into the account.

Aristophanes says that this deity, having at first a very clear sight, bestowed his favors only on the just and good: but that after Jupiter deprived him of vision, riches fell indifferently to the good and the bad. A design being formed for the recovery of his sight, Penia or poverty opposed it, making it appear that poverty is the mistress of arts, sciences, and virtues, which would be in danger of perishing if all men were rich; but no credit being given to her remonstrance, Plutus recovered his sight in the temple of AEsculapius, whence the temples and altars of other gods, and those of Jupiter himself, were abandoned, the whole world sacrificing to Plutus alone.

PROSERPINE, the daughter of Jupiter and Ceres, was educated with Minerva and Di{=a}na. By reason of this familiar intercourse, each chose a place in the island of Sicily for her particular residence. Minerva look the parts near Himera; Di{=a}na those about Syracuse; and Proserpine, in common with her sister goddesses, enjoyed the pleasant fields of Enna. Near at hand are groves and gardens, surrounded with morasses and a deep cave, with a passage under ground, opening towards the north. In this happy retirement was Proserpine situated, when Pluto, passing in his chariot through the cave, discovered her whilst busy in gathering flowers, with her attendants, the daughters of Oceanus. Proserpine he seized, and having placed her in his chariot, carried her to Syracuse, where the earth opening, they both descended to the infernal regions.

She had not been long there when the fame of her charms induced Theseus and Pirithous to combine for the purpose of carrying her thence; but in this they failed. When Ceres, who was disconsolate for the loss of her daughter, discovered where she was, Jupiter upon her repeated solicitations, promised that Proserpine should be restored, provided she had not yet tasted any thing in hell. Ceres joyfully descended, and Proserpine, full of triumph, prepared for her return, when lo! Ascalaphus, son of Acheron and Gorgyra, discovered that he saw Proserpine, as she walked in the garden of Pluto, eat some grains of a pomegranate, upon which her departure was stopped. At last, by the repeated importunity of her mother to Jupiter, she extorted as a favor, in mitigation of her grief, that Proserpine should live half the year in heaven, and the other half in hell.

Proserpine is represented under the form of a beautiful woman, enthroned, having something stern and melancholy in her aspect. Statius has found out a melancholy employment for her, which is, to keep a sort of register of the dead, and to mark down all that should be added to that number. The same poet mentions another of her offices of a more agreeable nature: he says, when any woman dies who had been a remarkably good wife in this world, Proserpine prepares the spirits of the best women in the other to make a procession to welcome her into Elysium with joy, and to strew all the way with flowers where she is to pass.

Some represent Proserpine, Luna, Hec{)a}te, and Di{=a}na, as one; the same goddess being called Luna in heaven, Di{=a}na on earth, and Hec{)a}te in hell: and they explain the fable of the moon, which is hidden from us in the hemisphere of the countries beneath, just so long as it shines in our own. As Proserpine was to stay six months with her mother, and six with her husband, she was the emblem of the seed corn, which lies in the earth during the winter, but in spring sprouts forth, and in summer bears fruit.

The mythological sense of the fable is this: the name of Proserpine, or Persephone, among the Egyptians, was used to denote the change produced in the earth by the deluge, which destroyed its former fertility, and rendered tillage and agriculture necessary to mankind.

PARCAE, or FATES, were goddesses supposed to preside over the accidents and events, and to determine the date or period of human life. They were reckoned by the ancients to be three in number, because all things have a beginning, progress, and end. They were the daughters of Jupiter and Themis, and sisters to the Horae, or Hours.

Their names, amongst the Greeks, were Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis, and among the Latins, Nona, Decima, Morta. They are called Parcae, because, as Varro thinks, they distributed to mankind good and bad things at their birth; or, as the common and received opinion is, because they spare nobody. They were always of the same mind, so that though dissensions sometimes arose among the other gods, no difference was ever known to subsist among these three sisters, whose decrees were immutable. To them was intrusted the spinning and management of the thread of life; Clotho held the distaff, Lachesis turned the wheel, and Atropos cut the thread.

Plutarch tells us they represented the three parts of the world, viz. the firmament of the fixed stars, the firmament of the planets, and the space of air between the moon and the earth; Plato says they represented time past, present, and to come. There were no divinities in the pagan world who had a more absolute power than the Fates. They were looked upon as the dispensers of the eternal decrees of Jupiter, and were all of them sometimes supposed to spin the party-colored thread of each man's life. Thus are they represented on a medal, each with a distaff in her hand. The fullest and best description of them in any of the poets, is in Catullus: he represents them as all spinning, and at the same time singing, and foretelling the birth and fortunes of Achilles, at Peleus' wedding.

An ingenious writer, in giving the true mythology of these characters, apprehends them to have been, originally, nothing more than the mystical figure or symbols which represented the months of January, February, and March, among the Egyptians, who depicted them in female dresses, with the instruments of spinning and weaving, which was the great business carried on in that season. These images they called Parc, which signifies linen cloth, to denote the manufacture produced by this temporary industry. The Greeks, ever fertile in invention, and knowing nothing of the true sense of these allegorical figures, gave them a turn suitable to their genius.

FURIES, EUMENIDES or DIRAE, were the daughters of Nox and Acheron. Their names were Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. As many crimes were committed in secret, which could not be discovered from a deficiency of proof, it was necessary for the judges to have such officers as by wonderful and various tortures should force from the criminals a confession of their guilt. To this end the Furies, being messengers both of the celestial and terrestrial Jupiter, were always attendant on their sentence.

In heaven they were called Dirae, (quasi Deorum irae) or ministers of divine vengeance, in punishing the guilty after death; on earth Furies, from that madness which attends the consciousness of guilt; Erynnis, from the indignation and perturbations they raise in the mind; Eumenides, from their placability to such as supplicate them, as in the instance of Orestes, and Argos, upon his following the advice of Pallas, and in hell, Stygian dogs.

The furies were so dreaded that few dared so much as to name them. They were supposed to be constantly hovering about those who had been guilty of any enormous crime. Thus Orestes, having murdered his mother Clytemnestra, was haunted by the Furies. OEdipus, indeed, when blind and raving, went into their grove, to the astonishment of all the Athenians, who durst not so much as behold it. The Furies were reputed so inexorable, that if any person polluted with murder, incest, or any flagrant impiety, entered the temple which Orestes had dedicated to them in Cyrenae, a town of Arcadia, he immediately became mad, and was hurried from place to place, with the most restless and dreadful tortures.

Mythologists have assigned to each of these tormentresses their proper department. Tisiphone is said to punish the sins arising from hatred and anger; Megaera those occasioned by envy; and Alecto the crimes of ambition and lust. The statues of the Furies had nothing in them originally different from the other divinities. It was the poet AEschylus who, in one of his tragedies, represented them in that hideous manner which proved fatal to many of the spectators. The description of these deities by the poet passed from the theatre to the temple: from that time they were exhibited as objects of the utmost horror, with Terror, Rage, Paleness, and Death, for their attendants; and thus seated about Pluto's throne, whose ministers they were, they awaited his orders with an impatience congenial to their natures.

The Furies are described with snakes instead of hair, and eyes inflamed with madness, brandishing in one hand whips and iron chains, and in the other torches, with a smothering flame. Their robes are black, and their feet of brass, to show that their pursuit, though slow, is steady and certain. As they attended at the thrones of the Stygian and celestial Jupiter, they had wings to accelerate their progress through the air, when bearing the commands of the gods: they struck terror into mortals, either by war, famine, pestilence, or the numberless calamities incident to human life.

NOX, or NIGHT, the oldest of the deities, was held in great esteem among the ancients. She was even reckoned older than Chaos. Orpheus ascribes to her the generation of gods and men, and says, that all things had their beginning from her. Pausanias has left us a description of a remarkable statue of this goddess. "We see," says he, "a woman holding in her right hand a white child sleeping, and in her left a black child likewise asleep, with both its legs distorted; the inscription tells us what they are, though we might easily guess without it: the two children are Death and Sleep, and the woman is Night, the nurse of them both."

The poets fancied her to be drawn in a chariot with two horses, before which several stars went as harbingers; that she was crowned with poppies, and her garments were black, with a black veil over her countenance, and that stars followed in the same manner as they preceded her; that upon the departure of the day she arose from the ocean, or rather from Erebus, and encompassed the earth with her sable wings. The sacrifice offered to Night was a cock because of its enmity to darkness, and rejoicing at the light.

SOMNUS, or SLEEP, one of the blessings to which the pagans erected altars, was said to be son of Erebus and, Night, and brother of Death. Orpheus calls Somnus the happy king of gods and men; and Ovid, who gives a very beautiful description of his abode, represents him dwelling in a deep cave in the country of the Cimmerians. Into this cavern the sun never enters, and a perpetual stillness reigns, no noise being heard but the soft murmur caused by a stream of the river Lethe, which creeps over the pebbles, and invites to slumber; at its entrance grow poppies, and other soporiferous herbs. The drowsy god lies reclined on a bed stuffed with black plumes, the bedstead is of ebony, the covering is also black, and his head is surrounded by fantastic visions.

We learn from Statius, that the attendants and guards before the gates of this palace were Rest, Ease, Indolence, Silence, and Oblivion; as the ministers or attendants within are a vast multitude of Dreams in different shapes and attitudes. Ovid teaches us who were the supposed governors over these, and what their particular districts or offices were. The three chiefs of all are Morpheus, Phobetor, and Phantasos, who inspire dreams into great persons only: Morpheus inspires such dreams as relate to men, Phobetor such as relate to other animals, and Phantasos such as relate to inanimate things. They have each their particular legions under them, to inspire the common people with the sort of dreams which belong to their province.

MINOS was son of Jupiter and Europa, and brother of Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon. After the death of his father, the Cretans, who thought him illegitimate, would not admit him as a successor to the kingdom, till he persuaded them it was the divine pleasure he should reign, by praying Neptune to give him a sign, which being granted, the god caused a horse to rise out of the sea, upon which he ascended the throne.

Nothing so much distinguished him as the laws he enacted for the Cretans, which obtained him the name of one of the greatest legislators of antiquity. To confer the more authority on these laws, Minos retired to a cave of Mount Ida, where he feigned that Jupiter, his father, dictated them to him; and every time he returned thence a new injunction was promulgated by him. Homer calls him Jupiter's disciple; and Horace says he was admitted to the secrets of that god. Strabo and Ephorus contend, that Minos dwelt nine years in retirement in this cave, and that it was afterwards called the cave of Jupiter.

Antiquity entertained the highest esteem for the institutes of Minos: and the testimonies of ancient authors on this head are endless. It will, therefore, suffice to observe that Lycurgus travelled to Crete on purpose to collect the laws of Minos for the benefit of the Lacedemonians; and that Josephus, partial as he was to his own nation, has owned, that Minos was the only one among the ancients who deserved to be compared to Moses. He was reputed the judge of the supreme court of Pluto, AEacus judged the Europeans; the Asiatics and Africans fell to the lot of Rhadamanthus; and Minos, as president of the infernal court, decided the differences which arose between these two judges. He sat on a throne by himself, and wielded a golden sceptre.

RHADAMANTHUS was the son of Jupiter and Europa, and brother of Minos. He was one of the three judges of hell. It is said that Rhadamanthus, having killed his brother, fled to OEchalia in Boeotia, where he married Alcmena, widow of Amphitryon. Some make Rhadamanthus a king of Lycia, who on account of his severity and strict regard to justice, was said to have been one of the three judges of hell, where his province was to judge such as died impenitent. It is agreed, that he was the most temperate man of his time, and was exalted amongst the law-givers of Crete, who were renowned as good and just men. The division assigned to Rhadamanthus in the infernal regions was Tartarus.

AEACUS, son of Jupiter and AEgina, was king of OEnopia, which, from his mother's name, he called AEgina. The inhabitants of that country being destroyed by a plague, AEacus prayed to his father that by some means he would repair the loss of his subjects, upon which Jupiter, in compassion changed all the ants within a hollow tree into men and women, who, from a Greek word signifying ants, were called Myrmidons, and actually were so industrious a people as to become famous for their ships and navigation.

The meaning of which fable is this: The pirates having destroyed the inhabitants of the island, excepting a few, who hid themselves in caves and holes for fear of a like fate, AEacus drew them out of their retreats and encouraged them to build houses, and sow corn; taught them military discipline, and how to fit out and navigate fleets, and to appear not like ants in holes, but on the theatre of the world, like men. His character for justice was such, that in a time of universal drought he was nominated by the Delphic oracle to intercede for Greece, and his prayers were heard. The pagan world also believed that AEacus, on account of his impartial justice, was chosen by Pluto, with Minos and Rhadamanthus, one of the three judges of the dead, and that it was his province to judge the Europeans, in which capacity he held a plain rod as a badge of his office.


The condemned in Hell.

TYPHOEUS, a giant of enormous size, was, according to Hesiod, son of Erebus, or Tartarus and Terra. His stature was prodigious. With one hand he touched the east, and with the other the west, while his head reached to the stars. Hesiod has given him an hundred heads of dragons, uttering dreadful sounds, and eyes which darted fire; flame proceeded from his mouths and nostrils, his body was encircled with serpents, and his thighs and legs were of a serpentine form. When he had almost discomfited the gods, who fled from him into Egypt, Jupiter alone stood his ground, and pursued the monster to Mount Caucasus in Syria, where he wounded him with his thunder; But Typhoeus, turning upon him, took the god prisoner, and after having cut, with his own sickle, the muscles of his hands and feet, threw him on his shoulders, carried him into Cilicia, and there imprisoned him in a cave, whence he was delivered by Mercury, who restored him to his former vigor. Typhoeus afterwards fled into Sicily, where the god overwhelmed him with the enormous mass of mount AEtna.

Historians report, that Typhoeus was brother of Osiris, king of Egypt, who in the absence of that monarch, formed a conspiracy to dethrone him; and that having accordingly put Osiris to death, Isis, in revenge of her husband, raised an army, the command of which she gave to Orus her son, who vanquished and slew the usurper: hence the Egyptians, in abhorrence of his memory, painted him under their hieroglyphic characters in so frightful a manner. The length of his arms signified his power, the serpents about him denoted his address and cunning, the scales which covered his body, expressed his cruelty and dissimulation, and the flight of the gods into Egypt showed the precautions taken by the great to screen themselves from his fury and resentment. Mythologists take Typhoeus and the other giants, to have been the winds; especially the subterraneous, which cause earthquakes to break forth with fire, occasioned by the sulphur enkindled in the caverns under Campania, Sicily, and the AEolian islands.

TITYOS, or TITYUS, was son of Jupiter and Elara. He resided in Panopea, where he became formidable for rapine and cruelty, till Apollo killed him for offering violence to his mother Latona. After this he was thrown into Tart{)a}rus, and chained down on his back, his body taking up such a compass as to cover nine acres. In this posture two vultures continually preyed upon his liver, which constantly grew with the increase of the moon, that there might never be wanting matter for eternal punishment.

PHLEGYAS, son of Mars and Chryse, daughter of Halmus, was king of Lapithae, a people of Thessaly. Apollo having seduced his daughter Coronis, Phlegyas, in revenge, set fire to the temple of that god at Delphi, for which sacrilege the deity killed him with his arrows, and then cast him into Tart{)a}rus; where he was sentenced to sit under a huge rock, which threatened him with perpetual destruction.

IXION was son of Phlegyas, king of the Lapithae in Thessaly. He married Dia, daughter of Deioneus, whose consent he obtained by magnificent promises, but, failing afterwards to perform them, Deioneus seized on his horses. Ixion dissembled his resentment, and inviting Deioneus to a banquet, received him in an apartment previously prepared, from which, by withdrawing a door, his father-in-law was thrown into a furnace of fire. Stung, however, with remorse, and universally despised, Ixion was overpowered with frenzy, till Jupiter at length re-admitted him to favor, and not only took him into heaven, but intrusted him also with his counsels. So ungrateful, notwithstanding, did Ixion become, as to attempt the chastity of Juno herself. This so incensed Jupiter that the angry deity hurled him into Tart{)a}rus, and fixed him on a wheel encompassed with serpents, which was doomed to revolve without intermission.

SALMONEUS, king of Elis, was son of AEolus, (not he who was king of the winds, but another of the name) and Anarete. Not satisfied with an earthly crown, Salmoneus panted after divine honors; and, in order that the people might esteem him a god, he built a brazen bridge over the city, and drove his chariot along it, imitating, by this noise, Jupiter's thunder; at the same time throwing flaming torches among the spectators below, to represent his lightning, by which many were killed. Jupiter, in resentment of this insolence, precipitated the ambitious mortal into hell, where, according to Virgil, AEneas saw him.

SISIPHUS, or SISYPHUS, a descendant of AEolus, married Merope, one of the Pleiades, who bore him Glaucus. He resided at Ephyra, in Peloponnesus, and was conspicuous for his craft. Some say he was a Trojan secretary, who was punished for discovering secrets of state; whilst others contend that he was a notorious robber killed by Theseus. However, all the poets agree that he was punished in Tart{)a}rus for his crimes, by rolling a great stone to the top of a hill, which constantly recoiling and rolling down again, incessantly renewed his fatigue, and rendered his labor endless.

Ovid, in one passage, seems to describe Sisyphus as bending under the weight of a vast stone; "but the more common way of speaking of his punishment," says the author of Polymetis, "agrees with the fine description of him in Homer, where we see him laboring to heave the stone that lies on his shoulders up against the side of a steep mountain, and which always rolls precipitately down again before he can get it to rest upon the top. Lucretius makes him only an emblem of the ambitious; as Horace too seems to make Tant{)a}lus only an emblem of the covetous."

BELIDES, or DANAIDES: They were the fifty daughters of Dan{)a}us, son of Belus, surnamed the ancient. Some quarrel having arisen between him and Egyptus his brother, it determined Dan{)a}us on his voyage into Greece; but Egyptus having fifty sons, proposed a reconciliation, by marrying them to his brother's daughters. The proposal was agreed to, and the nuptials were to be celebrated with singular splendor, when Dan{)a}us, either in resentment of former injuries, or being told by the oracle that one of his sons-in-law should destroy him, gave to each of his daughters a dagger, with an injunction to stab her husband. They all executed the order but Hypermnestra, the eldest, who spared the life of Lyncaeus. These Bel{)i}des, for their cruelty, were consigned to the infernal regions, there to draw water in sieves from a well, till they had filled, by that means, a vessel full of holes.

TANTALUS, king of Phrygia, was the son of Jupiter and Plota. Whether it was for this cause, the violation of hospitality, or for his pride, his boasting, his want of secrecy, his insatiable covetousness, his imparting nectar and ambrosia to mortals, or for all of them together, since he has been accused of them all, Tant{)a}lus was thrown into Tart{)a}rus, where the poets have assigned him a variety of torments. Some represent a great stone as hanging over his head, which he apprehended to be continually falling, and was ever in motion to avoid it. Others describe him as afflicted with constant thirst and hunger, though the most delicious banquets were exposed to his view; one of the Furies terrifying him with her torch whenever he approached towards them. Some exhibit him standing to the chin in water, and whenever he stooped to quench his thirst, the water as constantly eluding his lip. Others, with fruits luxuriously growing around him, which he no sooner advanced to touch, than the wind blew them into the clouds.


Monsters of Hell.

HARPYIAE, or HARPIES, were three in number, their names, Celaeno, Aello, and Ocyp{)e}te. The ancients looked on them as a sort of Genii, or Daemons. They had the faces of virgins, the ears of bears, the bodies of vultures, human arms and feet, and long claws, hooked like the talons of carnivorous birds. Phineas, king of Arcadia, being a prophet, and revealing the mysteries of Jupiter to mortals, was by that deity struck blind, and so tormented by the Harpies that he was ready to perish for hunger; they devouring whatever was set before him, till the sons of Boreas, who attended Jason in his expedition to Colchis, delivered the good old king, and drove these monsters to the islands called Stroph{)a}des: compelling them to swear never more to return.

The Harpies, according to the ingenious Abbe la Pluche, had their origin in Egypt. He further observes, in respect to them, that during the months of April, May, and June, especially the two latter, Egypt being very subject to tempests, which laid waste their olive grounds, and carried thither numerous swarms of grasshoppers, and other troublesome insects from the shores of the Red Sea, the Egyptians gave to their emblematic figures of these months a female face, with the bodies and claws of birds, calling them Harop, or winged destroyers. This solution of the fable corresponds with the opinion of Le Clerc, who takes the harpies to have been a swarm of locusts, the word Arbi, whence Harpy is formed, signifying, in their language, a locust.

GORGONS were three in number, and daughters of Phorcus or Porcys, by his sister Ceto. Their names were Med{=u}sa, Eury{)a}le, and Stheno, and they are represented as having scales on their bodies, brazen hands, golden wings, tusks like boars, and snakes for hair. The last distinction, however, is confined by Ovid to Med{=u}sa.

According to some mythologists, Perseus having been sent against Med{=u}sa by the gods, was supplied by Mercury with a falchion, by Minerva with a mirror, and by Pluto with a helmet, which rendered the wearer invisible. Thus equipped, through the aid of winged sandals, he steered his course towards Tartessus, where, finding the object of his search, by the reflection of his mirror, he was enabled to aim his weapon, without meeting her eye, (for her look would have turned him to stone) and at one blow struck off her head. When Perseus had slain Med{=u}sa, the other sisters pursued him, but he escaped from their sight by means of his helmet. They were afterwards thrown into hell.

SPHINX was a female monster, daughter of Typhon and Echidna. She had the head, face, and breasts of a woman, the wings of a bird, the claws of a lion, and the body of a dog. She lived on mount Sphincius, infested the country about Thebes, and assaulted passengers, by proposing dark and enigmatical questions to them, which if they did not explain, she tore them in pieces. Sphinx made horrible ravages in the neighborhood of Thebes, till Creon, then king of that city, published an edict over all Greece, promising that if any one should explain the riddle of Sphinx, he would give him his own sister Iocasta in marriage.

The riddle was this, "What animal is that which goes upon four feet in the morning, upon two at noon, and upon three at night?" Many had endeavored to explain this riddle, but failing in the attempt, were destroyed by the monster; till OEdipus undertook the solution, and thus explained it: "The animal is man, who in his infancy creeps, and so may be said to go on four feet; when he gets into the noon of life, he walks on two feet; but when he grows old, or declines into the evening of his days, he uses the support of a staff, and thus may be said to walk on three feet." The Sphinx being enraged at this explanation, cast herself headlong from a rock and died.


Dii indig{)e}tes, or Heroes who received divine Honors after Death.

HERCULES was the son of Jupiter by Alcmena, wife of Amphitryon, king of Thebes, and is said to have been born in that city about 1280 years before the Christian era. During his infancy Juno sent two serpents to kill him in his cradle, but the undaunted child grasping one in either hand, immediately strangled them both. As he grew up, he discovered an uncommon degree of vigor both of body and of mind. Nor were his extraordinary endowments neglected; for his education was intrusted to the greatest masters. The tasks imposed on him by Eurystheus, on account of the danger and difficulty which attended their execution, received the name of the Labors of Hercules, and are commonly reckoned, (at least the most material of them) to have been twelve.

The first was his engagement with Cleonaean lion, which furious animal, it is said, fell from the orb of the moon by Juno's direction, and was invunerable. It infested the woods between Phlius and Cle{=o}ne, and committed uncommon ravages. The hero attacked it both with his arrows and club, but in vain, till, perceiving his error, he tore asunder its jaws with his hands.

The second labor was his conquest of the Lernaean hydra, a formidable serpent or monster which harbored in the fens of Lerna, and infected the region of Argos with his poisonous exhalations. This seems to have been one of the most difficult tasks in which Hercules was ever engaged. The number of heads assigned the hydra is various; some give him seven, some nine, others fifty, and Ovid an hundred; but all authors agree that when one was cut off, another sprung forth in its place, unless the wound was immediately cauterized. Hercules, not discouraged, attacked him, and having ordered I{)o}las, his friend and companion, to cut down wood sufficient for fire-brands, he no sooner had cut off a head than he applied these brands to the wounds; by which means searing them up, he obtained a complete victory.

The third labor was to bring alive to Eurystheus an enormous wild boar which ravaged the forest of Erymanthus in Arcadia, and had been sent to Phocis by Di{=a}na to punish AEn{=e}as, for neglecting her sacrifices. Hercules brought him bound to Eurystheus. There is nothing descriptive of this exploit in any of the Roman poets.

The fourth labor was the capture of the Maenalaean stag. Eurystheus, after repeated proofs of the strength and valor of Hercules, resolved to try his agility, and commanded him to take a wild stag that frequented mount Maen{)a}lus, which had brazen feet and golden horns. As this animal was sacred to Di{=a}na, Hercules durst not wound him; but though it were no easy matter to run him down, yet this, after pursuing him on foot for a year, the hero at last effected.

The fifth labor of Hercules consisted in killing the Stymphal{)i}des, birds so called from frequenting the lake Stymph{=a}lis in Arcadia, which preyed upon human flesh, having wings, beaks, and talons of iron. Some say Hercules destroyed these birds with his arrows, others that Pallas sent him brazen rattles, made by Vulcan, the sound of which so terrified them, that they took shelter in the island of Aretia. There are authors who suppose these birds called Stymphal{)i}des, to have been a gang of desperate banditti who had their haunts near the lake Stymph{=a}lis.

The sixth labor was his cleansing the stable of Augeas. This Augeas, king of Elis, had a stable intolerable from the stench occasioned by the filth it contained, which may be readily imagined from the fact that it sheltered three thousand oxen, and had not been cleansed for thirty years. This place Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clear in one day, and Augeas promised, if he performed the task, to give him a tenth part of the cattle. Hercules, by turning the course of the river Alph{=e}us through the stable, executed his design, which Augeas seeing, refused to fulfil his promise. The hero, to punish his perfidy, slew Augeas with his arrows, and gave his kingdom to his son Phyleus, who abhorred his father's treachery.

The seventh labor was the capture of the Cretan bull. Minos, king of Crete, having acquired the dominion of the Grecian seas, paid no greater honor to Neptune than to the other gods, wherefore the deity, in resentment of this ingratitude, sent a bull, which breathed fire from his nostrils, to destroy the people of Crete. Hercules took this furious animal, and brought him to Eurystheus, who, because the bull was sacred, let him loose into the country of Marathon, where he was afterwards slain by Theseus.

The eighth labor of Hercules, was the killing of Diom{=e}des and his horses. That infamous tyrant was king of Thrace, and son of Mars and Cyr{=e}ne. Among other things he is said to have driven in his war-chariot four furious horses, which, to render the more impetuous, he used to feed on the flesh and blood of his subjects. Hercules is said to have freed the world from this barbarous prince, and to have killed both him and his horses, as is signified in some drawings, and said expressly by some of the poets. Some report that the tyrant was given by Hercules as a prey to his own horses.

The ninth labor of Hercules was his combat with Geryon, king of Spain. Geryon is generally represented with three bodies agreeable to the expressions used of him by the poets, and sometimes with three heads. He had a breed of oxen of a purple color, (which devoured all strangers cast to them) guarded by a dog with two heads, a dragon with seven, besides a very watchful and severe keeper. Hercules, however, killed the monarch and all his guards, and carried the oxen to Gades, whence he brought them to Eurystheus. Some mythologists explain this fable by saying that Geryon was king of three islands, now called Majorca, Minorca, and Ivica, on which account he was fabled to be triple bodied and headed.

The tenth labor of Hercules was his conquest of Hippolyte queen of the Amazons. His eleventh labor consisted in dragging Cerebus from the infernal regions into day. The twelfth and last was killing the serpent, and gaining the golden fruit in the gardens of the Hesperides.

Hercules, after his conquests in Spain, having made himself famous in the country of the Celtae or Gauls, is said to have there founded a large and populous city, which he called Alesia. His favorite wife was Dejanira, whose jealousy most fatally occasioned his death. Hercules having subdued OEchalia and killed Eurytus the king, carried off the fair I{)o}le, his daughter, with whom Dejanira suspecting him to be in love, sent him the garment of Nessus, the Centaur, as a remedy to recover his affections; this garment, however, having been pierced with an arrow dipped in the blood of the Lernaean hydra, whilst worn by Nessus, contracted a poison from his blood incurable by art. No sooner, therefore, was it put on by Hercules than he was seized with a delirious fever, attended with the most excruciating torments. Unable to support his pains, he retired to mount OEta, where, raising a pile, and setting it on fire, he threw himself upon it, and was consumed in the flames, after having killed in his phrenzy Lycus his friend. His arrows he bequeathed to Philoct{=e}tes, who interred his remains.

After his death he was deified by his father Jupiter. Di{=o}dorus Siculus relates that he was no sooner ranked amongst the gods than Juno, who had so violently persecuted him whilst on earth, adopted him for her son, and loved him with the tenderness of a mother. Hercules was afterwards married to Hebe, goddess of youth, his half sister, with all the splendor of a celestial wedding; but he refused the honor which Jupiter designed him, of being ranked with the twelve gods, alleging there was no vacancy; and that it would be unreasonable to degrade any other god for the purpose of admitting him.

Both the Greeks and Romans honored him as a god, and as such erected to him temples. His victims were bulls and lambs, on account of his preserving the flocks from wolves; that is, delivering men from tyrants and robbers. He was worshipped by the ancient Latins under the name of Dius, or Divus Fidius, that is, the guarantee or protector of faith promised or sworn. They had a custom of calling this deity to witness by a sort of oath expressed in these terms, Me Dius Fidius! that is, so help me the god Fidius! or Hercules.

PERSEUS was the son of Jupiter and Dan{)a}e, daughter of Acrisius king of Argos. When Perseus was grown up, Polydectes, who was enamored of his mother, finding him an obstacle to their union, contrived to send him on an exploit, which he hoped would be fatal to him. This was to bring him the head of Med{=u}sa, one of the Gorgons. In his expedition Perseus was favored by the gods; Mercury equipped him with a scymetar, and the wings from his heels; Pallas lent him a shield which reflected objects like a mirror; and Pluto granted him his helmet, which rendered him invisible. In this manner he flew to Tartessus in Spain, where, directed by the reflection of Med{=u}sa in his mirror, he cut off her head, and brought it to Pallas. From the blood arose the winged horse Peg{)a}sus.

After this the hero passed into Mauritania, where repairing to the court of Atlas, that monarch ordered him to retire, with menaces, in case of disobedience; but Perseus, presenting his shield, with the dreadful head of Med{=u}sa, changed him into the mountain which still bears his name. In his return to Greece he visited Ethiopia, mounted on Peg{)a}sus, and delivered Androm{)e}da, daughter of Cepheus, (who was exposed on a rock of that coast to be devoured by a monster of the deep) on condition he might make her his wife: but Phineas, her uncle, sought to prevent him, by attempting, with a party, to carry off the bride. The attempt, notwithstanding, was rendered abortive; for the hero, by showing them the head of the Gorgon, at once turned them to stone.

Perseus having completed these exploits, was desirous of revisiting home, and accordingly set off for that purpose with his wife and his mother. Arriving on the coast of Peloponnesus, and learning that Teutamias, king of Larissa, was then celebrating games in honor of his father, Perseus, wishing to exhibit his skill at the quoit, of which he has been deemed the inventor, resolved to go thither. In this contest, however, he was so unfortunate as to kill Acrisius, the father of his mother, who, on the report that Perseus was returning to the place of his nativity, had fled to the court of Teutamias his friend, to avoid the denunciation of the oracle, which had induced him to exercise such cruelty on his offspring. At what time Perseus died is unknown; but all agree that divine honors were paid him. He had statues at Myc{=e}nae and in Seriphos. A temple was erected to him in Athens, and an altar in it consecrated to Dictys.

ACHILLES was the offspring of a goddess. Thetis bore him to Peleus, king of Thessaly, and was so fond of him, that she charged herself with his education. By day she fed him with ambrosia, and by night covered him with celestial fire, to render him immortal. She also dipped him in the waters of Styx, by which his whole body became invulnerable, except that part of his heel by which she held him. He was afterwards committed to the care of Chiron the Centaur, who fed him with honey, and the marrow of lions and wild boars; whence he obtained that strength of body and greatness of soul which qualified him for martial toil.

When the Greeks undertook the siege of Troy, Calchas the diviner, and priest of Apollo, foretold that the city should not be taken without the help of Achilles. Thetis, his mother, who knew that Achilles, if he went to the siege of Troy, would never return, clothed him in female apparel, and concealed him among the maidens at the court of Lycom{=e}des, king of the island of Scyros. But this stratagem proved ineffectual; for Calchas having informed the Greeks where Achilles lay in disguise, they sent Ulysses to the court of Lycom{=e}des, where, under the appearance of a merchant, he was introduced to the king's daughters, and while they were studiously intent on viewing his toys, Achilles employed himself in examining an helmet, which the cunning politician had thrown in his way.

Achilles thus detected, was prevailed on to go to Troy, after Thetis had furnished him with impenetrable armor made by Vulcan. Thither he led the troops of Thessaly, in fifty ships, and distinguished himself by a number of heroic actions; but being disgusted with Agamemnon for the loss of Briseis, he retired from the camp, and resolved to have no further concern in the war. In this resolution he continued inexorable, till news was brought him that Hector had killed his friend Patr{=o}clus; to avenge his death he not only slew Hector, but fastened the corpse to his chariot, dragged it round the walls of Troy, offered many indignities to it, and sold it at last to Priam his father.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse