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Once on a time, when the gods were constructing their abodes and had already finished Midgard and Valhalla, a certain artificer came and offered to build them a residence so well fortified that they should be perfectly safe from the incursions of the Frost giants and the giants of the mountains. But he demanded for his reward the goddess Freya, together with the sun and moon. The gods yielded to his terms provided he would finish the whole work himself without any one's assistance, and all within the space of one winter. But if anything remained unfinished on the first day of summer he should forfeit the recompense agreed on. On being told these terms the artificer stipulated that he should be allowed the use of his horse Svadilfari, and this by the advice of Loki was granted to him. He accordingly set to work on the first day of winter, and during the night let his horse draw stone for the building. The enormous size of the stones struck the gods with astonishment, and they saw clearly that the horse did one half more of the toilsome work than his mater. Their bargain, however, had been concluded, and confirmed by solemn oaths, for without these precautions a giant would not have thought himself safe among the gods, especially when Thor should return from an expedition he had then undertaken against the evil demons.

As the winter drew to a close, the building was far advanced, and the bulwarks were sufficiently high and massive to render the place impregnable. In short, when it wanted but three days to summer the only part that remained to be finished was the gateway. Then sat the gods on their seats of justice and entered into consultation, inquiring of one another who among them could have advised to give Freya away, or to plunge the heavens in darkness by permitting the giant to carry away the sun and the moon.

They all agreed that no one but Loki, the author of so many evil deeds, could have given such bad counsel, and that he should be put to a cruel death if he did not contrive some way to prevent the artificer from completing his task and obtaining the stipulated recompense. They proceeded to lay hands on Loki, who in his fright promised upon oath that, let it cost what it would, he would so manage matters that the man should lose his reward. That very night when the man went with Svadilfari for building- stone, a mare suddenly ran out of a forest and began to neigh. The horse thereat broke loose and ran after the mare into the forest, which obliged the man also to run after his horse, and thus between one and another the whole night was lost, so that at dawn the work had not made the usual progress. The man, seeing that he must fail of completing his task, resumed his own gigantic stature, and the gods now clearly perceived that it was in reality a mountain giant who had come amongst them. Feeling no longer bound by their oaths, they called on Thor, who immediately ran to their assistance, and lifting up his mallet, paid the workman his wages, not with the sun and moon, and not even by sending him back to Jotunheim, for with the first blow he shattered the giant's skull to pieces and hurled him headlong into Niffleheim.


Once upon a time it happened that Thor's hammer fell into the possession of the giant Thrym, who buried it eight fathoms deep under the rocks of Jotunheim. Thor sent Loki to negotiate with Thrym, but he could only prevail so far as to get the giant's promise to restore the weapon if Freya would consent to be his bride. Loki returned and reported the result of his mission, but the goddess of love was quite horrified at the idea of bestowing her charms on the king of the Frost giants. In this emergency Loki persuaded Thor to dress himself in Freya's clothes and accompany him to Jotunheim. Thrym received his veiled bride with due courtesy, but was greatly surprised at seeing her eat for her supper eight salmon and a full-grown ox, besides other delicacies, washing the whole down with three tuns of mead. Loki, however, assured him that she had not tasted anything for eight long nights, so great was her desire to see her lover, the renowned ruler or Jotunheim. Thrym had at length the curiosity to peep under his bride's veil, but started back in affright, and demanded why Freya's eyeballs glistened with fire. Loki repeated the same excuse and the giant was satisfied. He ordered the hammer to be brought in and laid on the maiden's lap. Thereupon Thor threw off his disguise, grasped his redoubted weapon and slaughtered Thrum and all his followers.

Frey also possessed a wonderful weapon, a sword which would of itself spread a field with carnage whenever the owner desired it. Frey parted with this sword, but was less fortunate than Thor and never recovered it. It happened in this way: Frey once mounted Odin's throne, from whence one can see over the whole universe, and looking round saw far off in the giant's kingdom a beautiful maid, at the sight of whom he was struck with sudden sadness, insomuch that from that moment he could neither sleep, nor drink, nor speak. At last Skirnir, his messenger, drew his secret from him, and undertook to get him the maiden for his bride, if he would give him his sword as a reward. Frey consented and gave him the sword, and Skirnir set off on his journey and obtained the maiden's promise that within nine nights she would come to a certain place and there wed Frey. Skirnir having reported the success of his errand, Frey exclaimed,

"Long is one night, Long are two nights, But how shall I hold out three? Shorter hath seemed A month to me oft Than of this longing time the half."

So Frey obtained Gerda, the most beautiful of all women, for his wife, but he lost his sword.

This story, entitled Skirnir For, and the one immediately preceding it, Thrym's Quida, will be found poetically told in Longfellow's Poets and Poetry of Europe.

Chapter XXXII Thor's Visit to Jotunheim

One day the god Thor, accompanied by his servant Thialfi, and also by Loki, set out on a journey to the giant's country. Thialfi was of all men the swiftest of foot. He bore Thor's wallet, containing their provisions. When night came on they found themselves in an immense forest, and searched on all sides for a place where they might pass the night, and at last came to a very large hall, with an entrance that took the whole breadth of one end of the building. Here they lay down to sleep, but towards midnight were alarmed by an earthquake which shook the whole edifice. Thor rising up called on his companion to seek with him a place of safety. On the right they found an adjoining chamber, into which the others entered, but Thor remained at the doorway with his mallet in his hand, prepared to defend himself, whatever might happen. A terrible groaning was heard during the night, and at dawn of day Thor went out and found lying near him a huge giant, who slept and snored in the way that had alarmed them so. It is said that for once Thor was afraid to use his mallet, and as the giant soon waked up, Thor contented himself with simply asking his name.

"My name is Skrymir," said the giant, "but I need not ask thy name, for I know that thou art the god Tor. But what has become of my glove?" Thor then perceived that what they had taken overnight for a hall was the giant's glove and the chamber where his two companions had sought refuge was the thumb. Skrymir then proposed that they should travel in company, and Thor consenting, they sat down to eat their breakfast, and when they had done, Skrymir packed all the provisions into one wallet, threw it over his shoulder, and strode on before them, taking such tremendous strides that they were hard put to it to keep up with him. So they travelled the whole day, and at dusk, Skrymir close a place for them to pass the night in under a large oak-tree. Skrymir then told them he would lie down to sleep. "But take ye the wallet," he added, "and prepare your supper."Skrymir soon fell asleep and began to snore strongly, but when Thor tried to open the wallet, he found the giant had tied it up so tight he could not untie a single knot. At last Thor became wroth, and grasping his mallet with both hands he struck a furious blow on the giant's head. Skrymir awakening merely asked whether a leaf had not fallen on his head, and whether they had supped and were ready to go to sleep. Thor answered that they were just going to sleep, and so saying went and laid himself down under another tree. But sleep came not that night to Thor, and when Skrymir snored again so loud that the forest re-echoed with the noise, he arose, and grasping his mallet launched it with such force at the giant's skull that it made a deep dint in it. Skrymir awakening cried out, "What's the matter? Are there any birds perched on this tree? I felt some moss from the branches fall on my head. How fares it with thee, Thor?" But Thor went away hastily, saying that he had just then awoke, and that as it was only midnight, there was still time for sleep. He however resolved that if he had an opportunity of striking a third blow, it should settle all matters between them. A little before daybreak he perceived that Skrymir was again fast asleep, and again grasping his mallet, he dashed it with such violence that it forced its way into the giant's skull up to the handle. But Skrymir sat up, and stroking his cheek, said, "An acorn fell on my head. What! Art thou awake, Thor? Methinks it is time for us to get up and dress ourselves; but you have not now a long way before you to the city called Utgard. I have heard you whispering to one another that I am not a man of small dimensions; but if you come to Utgard you will see there many men much taller than I. Wherefore I advise you, when you come there, not to make too much of yourselves, for the followers of Utgard-Loki will not brook the boasting of such little fellows as you are. You must take the road that leads eastward, mine lies northward, so we must part here."

Hereupon he threw his wallet over his shoulders, and turned away from them into the forest, and Thor had no wish to stop him or to ask for any more of his company.

Thor and his companions proceeded on their way, and towards noon descried a city standing in the middle of a plain. It was so lofty that they were obliged to bend their necks quite back on their shoulders in order to see to the top of it. On arriving they entered the city, and seeing a large palace before them with the door wide open, they went in, and found a number of men of prodigious stature, sitting on benches in the hall. Going further, they came before the king Utgard-Loki, whom they saluted with great respect. The king, regarding them with a scornful smile, said, "If I do not mistake me, that stripling yonder must be the god Thor." Then addressing himself to Thor, he said, "Perhaps thou mayst be more than thou appearest to be. What are the feats that thou and thy fellows deem yourselves skilled in, for no one is permitted to remain here who does not, in some feat or other, excel all other men?"

"The feat that I know," said Loki, "is to eat quicker than any one else, and in this I am ready to give a proof against any one here who may choose to compete with me."

"That will indeed be a feat," said Utgard-Loki, "if thou performest what thou promisest, and it shall be tried forthwith."

He then ordered one of his men who was sitting at the farther end of the bench, and whose name was Logi, to come forward and try his skill with Loki. A trough filled with meat having been set on the hall floor, Loki placed himself at one end, and Logi at the other, and each of them began to eat as fast as he could, until they met in the middle of the trough. But it was found that Loki had only eaten the flesh, while his adversary had devoured both flesh and bone, and the trough to boot. All the company therefore adjudged that Loki was vanquished.

Utgard-Loki then asked what feat the young man who accompanied Thor could perform. Thialfi answered that he would run a race with any one who might be matched against him. The king observed that skill in running was something to boast of, but if the youth would win the match he must display great agility. He then arose and went with all who were present to a plain where there was good ground for running on, and calling a young man named Hugi, bade him run a match with Thialfi. In the first course Hugi so much outstripped his competitor that he turned back and met him not far from the starting-place. Then they ran a second and a third time, but Thialfi met with no better success. Utgard-Loki then asked Thor in what feats he would choose to give proofs of that prowess for which he was so famous. Thor answered that he would try a drinking-match with any one. Utgard-Loki bade his cupbearer bring the large horn which his followers were obliged to empty when they had trespassed in any way against the law of the feast. The cupbearer having presented it to Thor, Utgard- Loki said, "Whoever is a good drinker will empty that horn at a single draught, though most men make two of it, but the most puny drinker can do it in three."

Thor looked at the horn, which seemed of no extraordinary size though somewhat long; however, as he was very thirsty, he set it to his lips, and without drawing breath, pulled as long and as deeply as he could, that he might not be obliged to make a second draught of it; but when he set the horn down and looked in, he could scarcely perceive that the liquor was diminished.

After taking breath, Thor went to it again with all his might, but when he took the horn from his mouth, it seemed to him that he had drunk rather less than before, although the horn could now be carried without spilling.

"How now, Thor," said Utgard-Loki, "thou must not spare thyself; if thou meanest to drain the horn at the third draught thou must pull deeply; and I must needs say that thou wilt not be called so mighty a man here as thou art at home if thou showest no greater prowess in other feats than methinks will be shown in this."

Thor, full of wrath, again set the horn to his lips, and did his best to empty it; but on looking in found the liquor was only a little lower, so he resolved to make no further attempt, but gave back the horn to the cupbearer.

"I now see plainly," said Utgard-Loki, "that thou art not quite so stout as we thought thee; but wilt thou try any other feat, though methinks thou art not likely to bear any prize away with thee hence."

"What new trial hast thou to propose?" said Thor.

"We have a very trifling game here," answered Utgard-Loki, "in which we exercise none but children. It consists in merely lifting my cat from the ground; nor should I have dared to mention such a feat to the great Thor if I had not already observed that thou art by no means what we took thee for."

As he finished speaking, a large gray cat sprang on the hall floor. Thor put his hand under the cat's belly and did his utmost to raise him from the floor, but the cat, bending his back, had, notwithstanding all Thor's efforts, only one of his feet lifted up, seeing which Thor made no further attempt.

"This trial has turned out," said Utgard-Loki, "just as I imagined it would. The cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison to our men."

"Little as ye call me," answered Thor, "let me see who among you will come hither now I am in wrath and wrestle with me."

"I see no one here," said Utgard-Loki, looking at the men sitting on the benches, "who would not think it beneath him to wrestle with thee; let somebody, however, call hither that old crone, my nurse Elli, and let Thor wrestle with her if he will. She has thrown to the ground many a man not less strong than this Thor is."

A toothless old woman then entered the hall, and was told by Utgard-Loki to take hold of Thor. The tale is shortly told. The more Thor tightened his hold on the crone the firmer she stood. At length, after a very violent struggle, Thor began to lose his footing, and was finally brought down upon one knee. Utgard-Loki then told them to desist, adding that Thor had now no occasion to ask any one else in the hall to wrestle with him, and it was also getting late; so he showed Thor and his companions to their seats, and they passed the night there in good cheer.

The next morning at break of day, Thor and his companions dressed themselves and prepared for their departure. Utgard-Loki ordered a table to be set for them, on which there was no lack of victuals or drink. After the repast Utgard-Loki led them to the gate of the city, and on parting asked Thor how he thought his journey had turned out, and whether he had met with any men stronger than himself. Thor told him that he could not deny but that he had brought great shame on himself. "And what grieves me most," he added, is that ye will call me a person of little worth."

"Nay," said Utgard-Loki, "it behooves me to tell thee the truth, now thou art out of the city, which so long as I live and have my way thou shalt never enter again. And, by my troth, had I known beforehand that thou hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst have brought me so near to a great mishap, I would not have suffered thee to enter this time. Know then that I have all along deceived thee by my illusions; first in the forest where I tied up the wallet with iron wire so that thou couldst not untie it. After this thou gavest me three blows with the mallet; the first, though the least, would have ended my days had it fallen on me, but I slipped aside and thy blows fell on the mountain where thou wilt find three glens, one of them remarkably deep. These are the dints made by thy mallet. I have made use of similar illusions in the contests you have had with my followers. In the first, Loki, like hunger itself, devoured all that was set before him, but Logi was in reality nothing else than Fire, and therefore consumed not only the meat, but the trough which held it. Hugi, with whom Thialfi contended in running, was Thought, and it was impossible for Thialfi to keep pace with that. When thou in thy turn didst attempt to empty the horn, thou didst perform, by my troth, a deed so marvellous, that had I not seen it myself, I should never have believed it. For one end of that horn reached the sea, which thou was not aware of, but when thou comest to the shore thou wilt perceive how much the sea has sunk by thy draughts. Thou didst perform a feat no less wonderful by lifting up the cat, and to tell thee the truth, when we saw that one of his paws was off the floor, we were all of us terror- stricken, for what thou tookest for a cat was in reality the Midgard serpent that encompasseth the earth, and he was so stretched by thee, that he was barely long enough to enclose it between his head and tail. Thy wrestling with Elli was also a most astonishing feat, for there was never yet a man, nor ever will be, whom Old Age, for such in fact was Elli, will not sooner or later lay low. But now, as we are going to part, let me tell thee that it will be better for both of us if thou never come near me again, for shouldst thou do so, I shall again defend myself by other illusions, so that thou wilt only lose thy labor and get no fame from the contest with me."

On hearing these words Thor in a rage laid hold of his mallet and would have launched it at him, but Utgard-Loki had disappeared, and when Thor would have returned to the city to destroy it, he found nothing around him but a verdant plain.

On another occasion Thor was more successful in an encounter with the giants. It happened that Thor met with a giant, Hrungnir by name, who was disputing with Odin as to the merits of their respective horses, Gullfaxi and Sleipnir, the eight-legged. Thor and the giant made an agreement to fight together on a certain day. But as the day approached, the giant, becoming frightened at the thought of encountering Thor alone, manufactured, with the assistance of his fellow-giants, a great giant of clay. He was nine miles high and three miles about the chest, and in his heart he had the heart of a mare. Accompanied by the clay giant, Hrungnir awaited Thor on the appointed day. Thor approached preceded by Thialfi, his servant, who, running ahead, shouted out to Hrungnir that it was useless to hold his shield before him, for the god Thor would attack him out of the ground. Hrungnir at this flung his shield on the ground, and, standing upon it, made ready. As Thor approached Hrungnir flung at him an immense club of stone. Thor flung his hammer. Miolnir met the club half way, broke it in pieces, and burying itself in the stone skull of Hrungnir, felled him to the ground. Meanwhile Thialfi had despatched the clay giant with a spade. Thor himself received but a slight wound from a fragment of the giant's hammer.

Chapter XXXIII The Death of Baldur The Elves — Runic Letters — Scalds — Iceland

Baldur, the Good, having been tormented with terrible dreams indicating that his life was in peril, told them to the assembled gods, who resolved to conjure all things to avert from him the threatened danger. Then Frigga, the wife of Odin, exacted an oath from fire and water, from iron and all other metals, from stones, trees, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of them would do any harm to Baldur. Odin, not satisfied with all this, and feeling alarmed for the fate of his son, determined to consult the prophetess Angerbode, a giantess, mother of Fenris, Hela, and the Midgard serpent. She was dead, and Odin was forced to seek her in Hela's dominions. This descent of Odin forms the subject of Gray's fine ode beginning,

"Up rose the king of men with speed And saddled straight his coal-black steed."

But the other gods, feeling that what Frigga had done was quite sufficient, amused themselves with using Baldur as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some stones, while others hewed at him with their swords and battle-axes, for do what they would none of them could harm him. And this became a favorite pastime with them and was regarded as an honor shown to Baldur. But when Loki beheld the scene he was sorely vexed that Baldur was not hurt. Assuming, therefore, the shape of a woman, he went to Fensalir, the mansion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the pretended woman, inquired of her if she knew what the gods were doing at their meetings. She replied that they were throwing darts and stones at Baldur, without being able to hurt him. "Ay," said Frigga, "neither stones, nor sticks, nor anything else can hurt Baldur, for I have exacted an oath from all of them. " "What," exclaimed the woman, "have all things sworn to spare Baldur?" "All things," replied Frigga, "except one little shrub that grows on the eastern side of Valhalla, and is called Mistletoe, and which I thought too young and feeble to crave an oath from."

As soon as Loki heard this he went away, and resuming his natural shape, cut off the mistletoe, and repaired to the place where the gods were assembled. There he found Hodur standing apart, without partaking of the sports, on account of his blindness, and going up to him, said, "Why dost thou not also throw something at Baldur?"

"Because I am blind," answered Hodur, "and see not where Baldur is, and have moreover nothing to throw."

"Come, then," said Loki, "do like the rest and show honor to Baldur by throwing this twig at him, and I will direct thy arm towards the place where he stands."

Hodur then took the mistletoe, and under the guidance of Loki, darted it at Baldur, who, pierced through and through, fell down lifeless. Surely never was there witnessed, either among gods or men, a more atrocious deed than this. When Baldur fell, the gods were struck speechless with horror, and then they looked at each other, and all were of one mind to lay hands on him who had done the deed, but they were obliged to delay their vengeance out of respect for the sacred place where they were assembled. They gave vent to their grief by loud lamentations. When the gods came to themselves, Frigga asked who among them wished to gain all her love and good will. "For this," said she, "shall he have who will ride to Hel and offer Hela a ransom if she will let Baldur return to Asgard." Whereupon Hermod, surnamed the Nimble, the son of Odin, offered to undertake the journey. Odin's horse, Sleipnir, which has eight legs, and can outrun the wind, was then led forth, on which Hermod mounted and galloped away on his mission. For the space of nine days and as many nights he rode through deep glens so dark that he could not discern anything until he arrived at the river Gyoll, which he passed over on a bridge covered with glittering gold. The maiden who kept the bridge asked him his name and lineage, telling him that the day before five bands of dead persons had ridden over the bridge, and did not shake it as much as he alone. "But," she added, "thou hast not death's hue on thee; why then ridest thou here on the way to Hel?"

"I ride to Hel," answered Hermod, "to seek Baldur. Hast thou perchance seen him pass this way?"

She replied, "Baldur hath ridden over Gyoll's bridge, and yonder lieth the way he took to the abodes of death."

Hermod pursued his journey until he came to the barred gates of Hel. Here he alighted, girthed his saddle tighter, and remounting clapped both spurs to his horse, who cleared the gate by a tremendous leap without touching it. Hermod then rode on to the palace where he found his brother Baldur occupying the most distinguished seat in the hall, and passed the night in his company. The next morning he besought Hela to let Baldur ride home with him, assuring her that nothing but lamentations were to be heard among the gods. Hela answered that it should now be tried whether Baldur was so beloved as he was said to be. "If, therefore," she added, "all things in the world, both living and lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to life; but if any one thing speak against him or refuse to weep, he shall be kept in Hel."

Hermod then rode back to Asgard and gave an account of all he had heard and witnessed.

The gods upon this despatched messengers throughout the world to beg every thing to weep in order that Baldur might be delivered from Hel. All things very willingly complied with this request, both men and every other living being, as well as earths, and stones, and trees, and metals, just as we have all seen these things weep when they are brought from a cold place into a hot one. As the messengers were returning, they found an old hag named Thaukt sitting in a cavern, and begged her to weep Baldur out of Hel. But she answered,

"Thaukt will wail With dry tears Baldur's bale-fire. Let Hela keep her own."

It was strongly suspected that this hag was no other than Loki himself, who never ceased to work evil among gods and men. So Baldur was prevented from coming back to Asgard. (In Longfellow's Poems, vol. 1, page 379, will be found a poem entitled Tegner's Drapa, upon the subject of Baldur's death.)

Among Matthew Arnold's Poems is one called "Balder Death" beginning thus:

"So on the floor lay Balder dead; and round Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts and spears, Which all the Gods in sport had idly thrown At Balder, whom no weapon pierced or clave; But in his breast stood fixt the fatal bough Of mistletoe, which Lok the Accuser gave To Hoder, and unwitting Hoder threw; "Gainst that alone had Balder's life no charm. And all the Gods and all the heroes came And stood round Balder on the bloody floor Weeping and wailing; and Valhalla rang Up to its golden roof with sobs and cries; And on the table stood the untasted meats, And in the horns and gold-rimmed skulls the wine; And now would night have fallen and found them yet Wailing; but otherwise was Odin's will."


The gods took up the dead body and bore it to the sea-shore where stood Baldur's ship Hringham, which passed for the largest in the world. Baldur's dead body was put on the funeral pile, on board the ship, and his wife Nanna was so struck with grief at the sight that she broke her heart, and her body was burned on the same pile with her husband's. There was a vast concourse of various kinds of people at Baldur's obsequies. First came Odin accompanied by Frigga, the Valkyrior, and his ravens; then Frey in his car drawn by Gullinbursti, the boar; Heimdall rode his horse Gulltopp, and Freya drove in her chariot drawn by cats. There were also a great many Frost giants and giants of the mountain present. Baldur's horse was led to the pile fully caparisoned and consumed in the same flames with his master.

But Loki did not escape his deserved punishment. When he saw how angry the gods were, he fled to the mountain, and there built himself a hut with four doors, so that he could see every approaching danger. He invented a net to catch the fishes, such as fishermen have used since his time. But Odin found out his hiding-place and the gods assembled to take him. He, seeing this, changed himself into a salmon, and lay hid among the stones of the brook. But the gods took his net and dragged the brook, and Loki finding he must be caught, tried to leap over the net; but Thor caught him by the tail and compressed it so, that salmons every since have had that part remarkably fine and thin. They bound him with chains and suspended a serpent over his head, whose venom falls upon his face drop by drop. His wife Siguna sits by his side and catches the drops as they fall, in a cup; but when she carries it away to empty it, the venom falls upon Loki, which makes him howl with horror, and twist his body about so violently that the whole earth shakes, and this produces what men call earthquakes.


The Edda mentions another class of beings, inferior to the gods, but still possessed of great power; these were called Elves. The white spirits, or Elves of Light, were exceedingly fair, more brilliant than the sun, and clad in garments of delicate and transparent texture. They loved the light, were kindly disposed to mankind, and generally appeared as fair and lovely children. Their country was called Alfheim, and was the domain of Freyr, the god of the sun, in whose light they were always sporting.

The black of Night Elves were a different kind of creatures. Ugly, long-nosed dwarfs, of a dirty brown color, they appeared only at night, for they avoided the sun as their most deadly enemy, because whenever his beams fell upon any of them they changed them immediately into stones. Their language was the echo of solitudes, and their dwelling-places subterranean caves and clefts. They were supposed to have come into existence as maggots, produced by the decaying flesh of Ymir's body, and were afterwards endowed by the gods with a human form and great understanding. They were particularly distinguished for a knowledge of the mysterious powers of nature, and for the runes which they carved and explained. They were the most skilful artificers of all created beings, and worked in metals and in wood. Among their most noted works were Thor's hammer, and the ship Skidbladnir, which they gave to Freyr, and which was so large that it could contain all the deities with their war and household implements, but so skilfully was it wrought that when folded together it could be put into a side pocket.


It was a firm belief of the northern nations that a time would come when all the visible creation, the gods of Valhalla and Niffleheim, the inhabitants of Jotunheim, Alfheim, and Midgard, together with their habitations, would be destroyed. The fearful day of destruction will not, however, be without its forerunners. First will come a triple winter, during which snow will fall from the four corners of the heavens, the frost be very severe, the wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no gladness. Three such winters will pass away without being tempered by a single summer. Three other similar winters will then follow, during which war and discord will spread over the universe. The earth itself will be frightened and begin to tremble, the sea leave its basin, the heavens tear asunder, and men perish in great numbers, and the eagles of the air feast upon their still quivering bodies. The wolf Fenris will now break his bands, the Midgard serpent rise out of her bed in the sea, and Loki, released from his bonds, will join the enemies of the gods. Amidst the general devastation the sons of Muspelheim will rush forth under their leader Surtur, before and behind whom are flames and burning fire. Onward they ride over Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, which breaks under the horses' hoofs. But they, disregarding its fall, direct their course to the battle-field called Vigrid. Thither also repair the wolf Fenris, the Midgard serpent, Loki with all the followers of Hela, and the Frost giants.

Heimdall now stands up and sounds the Giallar horn to assemble the gods and heroes for the contest. The gods advance, led on by Odin, who engages the wolf Fenris, but falls a victim to the monster, who is, however, slain by Vidar, Odin's son. Thor gains great renown by killing the Midgard serpent, but recoils and falls dead, suffocated with the venom which the dying monster vomits over him. Loki and Heimdall meet and fight till they are both slain. The Gods and their enemies having fallen in battle, Surtur, who has killed Dreyr, darts fire and flames over the world, and the whole universe is burned up. The sun becomes dim, the earth sinks into the ocean, the stars fall from heaven, and time is no more.

After this Alfadur (the almighty) will cause a new heaven and a new earth to arise out of the sea. The new earth, filled with abundant supplies, will spontaneously produce its fruits without labor or care. Wickedness and misery will no more be known, but the gods and men will live happily together.


One cannot travel far in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, without meeting with great stones, of different forms, engraven with characters called Runic, which appear at first sight very different from all we know. The letters consist almost invariably of straight lines, in the shape of little sticks either singly or put together. Such sticks were in early times used by the northern nations for the purpose of ascertaining future events. The sticks were shaken up, and from the figures that they formed a kind of divination was derived.

The Runic characters were of various kinds. They were chiefly used for magical purposes. The noxious, or, as they called them, the BITTER runes, were employed to bring various evils on their enemies; the favorable averted misfortune. Some were medicinal, others employed to win love, etc. In later times they were frequently used for inscriptions, of which more than a thousand have been found. The language is a dialect of the Gothic, called Norse, still in use in Iceland. The inscriptions may therefore be read with certainty, but hitherto very few have been found which throw the least light on history. They are mostly epitaphs on tombstones.

Gray's ode on the Descent of Odin contains an allusion to the use of Runic letters for incantation:

"Facing to the northern clime, Thrice he traced the Runic rhyme; Thrice pronounced, in accents dread, The thrilling verse that wakes the dead, Till from out the hollow ground Slowly breathed a sullen sound."


The Skalds were the bards and poets of the nation, a very important class of men in all communities in an early stage of civilization. They are the depositaries of whatever historic lore there is, and it is their office to mingle something of intellectual gratification with the rude feasts of the warriors, by rehearsing, with such accompaniments of poetry and music as their skill can afford, the exploits of their heroes living or dead. The compositions of the Skalds were called Sagas, many of which have come down to us, and contain valuable materials of history, and a faithful picture of the state of society at the time to which they relate.


The Eddas and Sagas have come to us from Iceland. The following extract from Carlyle's Lectures on Heroes and Hero worship gives an animated account of the region where the strange stories we have been reading had their origin. Let the reader contrast it for a moment with Greece, the parent of classical mythology.

"In that strange island, Iceland, burst up, the geologists say, by fire from the bottom of the sea, a wild land of barrenness and lava, swallowed many months of every year in black tempests, yet with a wild, gleaming beauty in summer time, towering up there stern and grim in the North Ocean, with its snow yokuls (mountains), roaring geysers (boiling springs), sulphur pools, and horrid volcanic chasms, like the vast, chaotic battle-field of Frost and Fire, where, of all places, we least looked for literature or written memorials, the record of these things was written down. On the seaboard of this wild land is a rim of grassy country, where cattle can subsist, and men by means of them and of what the sea yields; and it seems they were poetic men these, men who had deep thoughts in them and uttered musically their thoughts. Much would be lost had Iceland not been burst up from the sea, not been discovered by the Northmen!"

Chapter XXXIV The Druids Iona

The Druids were the priests or ministers of religion among the ancient Celtic nations in Gaul, Britain, and Germany. Our information respecting them is borrowed from notices in the Greek and Roman writers, compared with the remains of Welsh and Gaelic poetry still extant.

The Druids combined the functions of the priest, the magistrate, the scholar, and the physician. They stood to the people of the Celtic tribes in a relation closely analogous to that in which the Brahmans of India, the Magi of Persia, and the priests of the Egyptians stood to the people respectively by whom they were revered.

The Druids taught the existence of one God, to whom they gave a name "Be'al," which Celtic antiquaries tell us means "the life of everything," or "the source of all beings,:" and which seems to have affinity with the Phoenician Baal. What renders this affinity more striking is that the Druids as well as the Phoenicians identified this, their supreme deity, with the Sun. Fire was regarded as a symbol of the divinity. The Latin writers assert that the Druids also worshipped numerous inferior Gods. They used no images to represent the object of their worship, nor did they meet in temples or buildings of any kind for the performance of their sacred rites. A circle of stones (each stone generally of vast size) enclosing an area of from twenty feet to thirty yards in diameter, constituted their sacred place. The most celebrated of these now remaining is Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, England.

These sacred circles were generally situated near some stream, or under the shadow of a grove or wide-spreading oak. In the centre of the circle stood the Cromlech or altar, which was a large stone, placed in the manner of a table upon other stones set up on end. The Druids had also their high places, which were large stones or piles of stones on the summits of hills. These were called Cairns, and were used in the worship of the deity under the symbol of the sun.

That the Druids offered sacrifices to their deity there can be no doubt. But there is some uncertainty as to what they offered, and of the ceremonies connected with their religious services we know almost nothing. The classical (Roman) writers affirm that they offered on great occasions human sacrifices; as for success in war or for relief from dangerous diseases. Caesar has given a detailed account of the manner in which this was done. "They have images of immense size, the limbs of which are framed with twisted twigs and filled with living persons. These being set on fire, those within are encompassed by the flames." Many attempts have been made by Celtic writers to shake the testimony of the Roman historians to this fact, but without success.

The Druids observed two festivals in each year. The former took place in the beginning of May, and was called Beltane or "fire of God." On this occasion a large fire was kindled on some elevated spot, in honor of the sun, whose returning beneficence they thus welcomed after the gloom and desolation of winter. Of this custom a trace remains in the name given to Whitsunday in parts of Scotland to this day. Sir Walter Scott uses the word in the Boat Song in the Lady of the Lake:

"Ours is no sapling, chance-sown by the fountain, Blooming at Beltane in winter to fade."

The other great festival of the Druids was called "Samh'in," or "fire of peace," and was held on Hallow-eve (first of November), which still retains this designation in the Highlands of Scotland. On this occasion the Druids assembled in solemn conclave, in the most central part of the district, to discharge the judicial functions of their order. All questions, whether public or private, all crimes against person or property, were at this time brought before them for adjudication. With these judicial acts were combined certain superstitious usages, especially the kindling of the sacred fire, from which all the fires in the district which had been beforehand scrupulously extinguished, might be relighted. This usage of kindling fires on Hallow-eve lingered in the British Islands long after the establishment of Christianity.

Besides these two great annual festivals, the Druids were in the habit of observing the full moon, and especially the sixth day of the moon. On the latter they sought the mistletoe, which grew on their favorite oaks, and to which, as well as to the oak itself, they ascribed a peculiar virtue and sacredness. The discovery of it was an occasion of rejoicing and solemn worship. "They call it," says Pliny, "by a word in their language which means 'heal- all,' and having made solemn preparation for feasting and sacrifice under the tree, they drive thither two milk-white bulls, whose horns are then for the first time bound. The priest then, robed in white, ascends the tree, and cuts off the mistletoe with a golden sickle. It is caught in a white mantle, after which they proceed to slay the victims, at the same time praying that god would render his gift prosperous to those to whom he had given it. They drink the water in which it has been infused, and think it a remedy for all diseases. The mistletoe is a parasitic plant, and is not always nor often found on the oak, so that when it is found it is the more precious."

The Druids were the teachers of morality as well as of religion. Of their ethical teaching a valuable specimen is preserved in the Triads of the Welsh Bards, and from this we may gather that their views of moral rectitude were on the whole just, and that they held and inculcated many very noble and valuable principles of conduct. They were also the men of science and learning of their age and people. Whether they were acquainted with letters or not has been disputed, though the probability is strong that they were, to some extent. But it is certain that they committed nothing of their doctrine, their history, or their poetry to writing. Their teaching was oral, and their literature (if such a word may be used in such a case) was preserved solely by tradition. But the Roman writers admit that "they paid much attention to the order and laws of nature, and investigated and taught to the youth under their charge many things concerning the stars and their motions, the size of the world and the lands , and concerning the might and power of the immortal gods."

Their history consisted in traditional tales, in which the heroic deeds of their forefathers were celebrated. These were apparently in verse, and thus constituted part of the poetry as well as the history of the Druids. In the poems of Ossian we have, if not the actual productions of Druidical times, what may be considered faithful representations of the songs of the Bards.

The Bards were an essential part of the Druidical hierarchy. One author, Pennant, says, "The bards were supposed to be endowed with powers equal to inspiration. They were the oral historians of all past transactions, public and private. They were also accomplished genealogists."

Pennant gives a minute account of the Eisteddfods or sessions of the bards and minstrels, which were held in Wales for many centuries, long after the Druidical priesthood in its other departments became extinct. At these meetings none but bards of merit were suffered to rehearse their pieces, and minstrels of skill to perform. Judges were appointed to decide on their respective abilities, and suitable degrees were conferred. In the earlier period the judges were appointed by the Welsh princes, and after the conquest of Wales, by commission from the kings of England. Yet the tradition is that Edward I., in revenge for the influence of the bards, in animating the resistance of the people to his sway, persecuted them with great cruelty. This tradition has furnished the poet Gray with the subject of his celebrated ode, the Bard.

There are still occasional meetings of the lovers of Welsh poetry and music, held under the ancient name. Among Mrs. Heman's poems is one written for an Eisteddfod, or meeting of Welsh Bards, held in London May 22, 1822. It begins with a description of the ancient meeting, of which the following lines are a part:

"——- midst the eternal cliffs, whose strength defied The crested Roman in his hour of pride; And where the Druid's ancient cromlech frowned, And the oaks breathed mysterious murmurs round, There thronged the inspired of yore! On plain or height, In the sun's face, beneath the eye of light, And baring unto heaven each noble head, Stood in the circle, where none else might tread."

The Druidical system was at its height at the time of the Roman invasion under Julius Caesar. Against the Druids, as their chief enemies, these conquerors of the world directed their unsparing fury. The Druids, harassed at all points on the main-land, retreated to Anglesey and Iona, where for a season they found shelter, and continued their now-dishonored rites.

The Druids retained their predominance in Iona and over the adjacent islands and main-land until they were supplanted and their superstitions overturned by the arrival of St. Columba, the apostle of the Highlands, by whom the inhabitants of that district were first led to profess Christianity.


One of the smallest of the British Isles, situated near a ragged and barren coast, surrounded by dangerous seas, and possessing no sources of internal wealth, Iona has obtained an imperishable place in history as the seat of civilization and religion at a time when the darkness of heathenism hung over almost the whole of Northern Europe. Iona or Icolmkill is situated at the extremity of the island of Mull, from which it is separated by a strait of half a mile in breadth, its distance from the main-land of Scotland being thirty-six miles.

Columba was a native of Ireland, and connected by birth with the princes of the land. Ireland was at that time a land of gospel light, while the western and northern parts of Scotland were still immersed in the darkness of heathenism. Columba, with twelve friends landed on the island of Iona in the year of our Lord 563, having made the passage in a wicker boat covered with hides. The Druids who occupied the island endeavored to prevent his settling there, and the savage nations on the adjoining shores incommoded him with their hostility, and on several occasions endangered his life by their attacks. Yet by his perseverance and zeal he surmounted all opposition, procured from the king a gift of the island, and established there a monastery of which he was the abbot. He was unwearied in his labors to disseminate a knowledge of the Scriptures throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and such was the reverence paid him that though not a bishop, but merely a presbyter and monk, the entire province with its bishops was subject to him and his successors. The Pictish monarch was so impressed with a sense of his wisdom and worth that he held him in the highest honor, and the neighboring chiefs and princes sought his counsel and availed themselves of his judgment in settling their disputes.

When Columba landed on Iona he was attended by twelve followers whom he had formed into a religious body, of which he was the head. To these, as occasion required, others were from time to time added, so that the original number was always kept up. Their institution was called a monastery, and the superior an abbot, but the system had little in common with the monastic institutions of later times. The name by which those who submitted to the rule were known was that of Culdees, probably from the Latin "cultores Dei" worshippers of God. They were a body of religious persons associated together for the purpose of aiding each other in the common work of preaching the gospel and teaching youth, as well as maintaining in themselves the fervor of devotion by united exercises of worship. On entering the order certain vows were taken by the members, but they were not those which were usually imposed by monastic orders, for of these, which are three, celibacy, poverty, and obedience, the Culdees were bound to none except the third. To poverty they did not bind themselves; on the contrary, they seem to have labored diligently to procure for themselves and those dependent on them the comforts of life. Marriage also was allowed them, and most of them seem to have entered into that state. True, their wives were not permitted to reside with them at the institution, but they had a residence assigned to them in an adjacent locality. Near Iona there is an island which still bears the name of "Eilen nam ban," women's island, where their husbands seem to have resided with them, except when duty required their presence in the school or the sanctuary.

Campbell, in his poem of Reullura, alludes to the married monks of Iona:

" ——-The pure Culdees Were Albyn's earliest priests of God, Ere yet an island of her seas By foot of Saxon monk was trod, Long ere her churchmen by bigotry Were barred from holy wedlock's tie. 'Twas then that Aodh, famed afar, In Iona preached the word with power. And Reullura, beauty's star, Was the partner of his bower."

In one of his Irish Melodies, Moore gives the legend of St. Senanus and the lady who sought shelter on the island, but was repulsed:

"Oh, haste and leave this sacred isle, Unholy bark, ere morning smile; For on thy deck, though dark it be, A female form I see; And I have sworn this sainted sod Shall ne'er by woman's foot be trod.

In these respects and in others the Culdees departed from the established rules of the Romish Church, and consequently were deemed heretical. The consequence was that as the power of the latter advanced, that of the Culdees was enfeebled. It was not, however, till the thirteenth century that the communities of the Culdees were suppressed and the members dispersed. They still continued to labor as individuals, and resisted the inroads of Papa usurpation as they best might till the light of the Reformation dawned on the world.

Ionia, from its position in the western seas, was exposed to the assaults of the Norwegian and Danish rovers by whom those seas were infested, and by them it was repeatedly pillaged, its dwellings burned, and its peaceful inhabitants put to the sword. These unfavorable circumstances led to its gradual decline, which was expedited by the supervision of the Culdees throughout Scotland. Under the reign of Popery the island became the seat of a nunnery, the ruins of which are still seen. At the Reformation, the nuns were allowed to remain, living in community, when the abbey was dismantled.

Ionia is now chiefly resorted to by travellers on account of the numerous ecclesiastical and sepulchral remains which are found upon it. The principal of these are the Cathedral or Abbey Church, and the Chapel of the Nunnery. Besides these remains of ecclesiastical antiquity, there are some of an earlier date, and pointing to the existence on the island of forms of worship and belief different from those of Christianity. These are the circular Cairns which are found in various parts, and which seem to have been of Druidical origin. It is in reference to all these remains of ancient religion that Johnson exclaims, "That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer amid the ruins of Iona."

In the Lord of the Isles, Scott beautifully contrasts the church on Iona with the Cave of Staffa, opposite:

"Nature herself, it seemed, would raise A minister to her Maker's praise! Not for a meaner use ascend Her columns or her arches bend; Nor of a theme less solemn tells The mighty surge that ebbs and swells, And still between each awful pause, >From the high vault an answer draws, In varied tone, prolonged and high, That mocks the organ's melody; Nor doth its entrance front in vain To old Iona's holy fane, That Nature's voice might seem to say, Well hast thou done, frail child of clay, Thy humble powers that stately shrine Tasked high and hard but witness mine."


We have seen throughout the course of this book how the Greek and Norse myths have furnished material for the poets, not only of Greece and Scandinavia, but also of modern times. In the same way these stories have been found capable of artistic treatment by painters, sculptors, and even by musicians. The story of Cupid and Psyche has not only been retold by poets from Apuleius to William Morris, but also drawn out in a series of frescoes by Raphael, and sculptured in marble by Canova. Even to enumerate the works of art of the modern and ancient world which depend for their subject-matter upon mythology would be a task for a book by itself. As we have been able to give only a few illustrations of the poetic treatment of some of the principal myths, so we shall have to content ourselves with a similarly limited view of the part played by them in other fields of art.

Of the statues made by the ancients themselves to represent their greater deities, a few have been already commented on. But it must not be thought that these splendid examples of plastic art, the Olympian Jupiter and the Athene of the Parthenon, represent the earliest attempts of the Greeks to give form to their myths in sculpture. Our most primitive sources of knowledge of much of Greek mythology are the Homeric poems, where the stories of Achilles and Ulysses have already taken on a poetic form, almost the highest conceivable. But in the other arts, Greek genius lagged behind. At the time when the Homeric poems were written, we find no traces of columned temples or magnificent statues. Scarcely were the domestic arts sufficiently advanced to allow the poet to describe dwellings glorious enough for his heroes to live in, or articles of common utility fit for their use. Of the two most famous works of art mentioned in the Iliad we must think of the statue of Athene at Troy (the Palladium) as a rude carving perhaps of wood, the arms of the goddess separated from the body only enough to allow her to hold the lance and spindle, which were the signs of her divinity. The splendor of the shield of Achilles must be attributed largely to the rich imagination of the poet.

Other works of art of this primitive age we know from descriptions in later classical writers. They attributed the rude statues which had come down to them to Daedalus and his pupils, and beheld them with wonder at their uncouth ugliness. It was long thought that these beginnings of Greek sculpture were to be traced to Egypt, but now-a-days scholars are inclined to take a different view. Egyptian sculpture was closely allied to architecture; the statues were frequently used for the columns of temples. Thus sculpture was subordinated to purely mechanical principles, and human figures were represented altogether in accordance with established conventions. Greek sculpture, on the contrary, even in its primitive forms was eminently natural, capable of developing a high degree of realism. From the first it was decorative in character, and this left the artist free to execute in his own way, provided only that the result should be in accordance with the highest type of beauty which he could conceive. An example of this early decorative art was the chest of Kypselos, on which stories from Homer were depicted in successive bands, the reliefs being partly inlaid with gold and ivory.

>From the sixth century before Christ date three processes of great importance in the development of sculpture; the art of casting in bronze, the chiselling of marble, and the inlaying of gold and ivory on wood (chryselephantine work). As early Greek literature developed first among the island Greeks, so the invention of these three methods of art must br attributed to the colonists away from the original Hellas. To the Samians is probably due the invention of bronze casting, to the Chians the beginning of sculpture in marble. This latter development opened to Greek sculpture its great future. Marble work was carried on by a race of artists beginning with Melas in the seventh century and coming down to Boupalos and Athenis, the sons of Achermos, whose works survived to the time of Augustus. Chryselephantine sculpture began in Crete.

Among the earliest of the Greek sculptors whose names have come down to us was Canachos, the Sicyonian. His masterpiece was the Apollo Philesios, in bronze, made for the temple of Didymas. The statue no longer exists, but there are a number of ancient monuments which may be taken as fairly close copies of it, or at least as strongly suggestive of the style of Canachos, among which are the Payne-Knight Apollo at the British Museum, and the Piombino Apollo at the Louvre. In this latter statue the god stands erect with the left foot slightly advanced, and the hands outstretched. The socket of the eye is hollow and was probably filled with some bright substance. Canachos was undoubtedly an innovator, and in the stronger modelling of the head and neck, the more vigorous posture of the body of his statue, he shows an advance on the more conventional and limited art of his generation.

As Greek sculpture progressed, schools of artists arose in various cities, dependent usually for their fame on the ability of some individual sculptor. "Among these schools, those of Aegina and Athens are the most important. Of the former school the works of Onatus are by far the most notable.

Onatus was a contemporary of Canachos, and reached the height of his fame in the middle of the fifth century before Christ. His most famous work was the scene where the Greek heroes draw lots for an opponent to Hector. It is not certain whether Onatus sculptured the groups which adorned the pediments of the temple of Athena at Aegina, groups now in the Glyptothek at Munich, but certainly these famous statues are decidedly in his style. Both pediments represent the battle over the body of Patroclus. The east pediment shows the struggle between Heracles and Laomedon. In each group a fallen warrior lies at the feet of the goddess, over whom she extends her protection. The Aeginetan marbles show the traces of dying archaism. The figures of the warriors are strongly moulded, muscular, but without grace. The same type is reproduced again and again among them. Even the wounded scarcely depart from it. The statues of the eastern pediment are probably later in date than those of the western, and in the former the dying warrior exhibits actual weakness and pain. In the western pediment the statue of the goddess is thoroughly archaic, stiff, uncompromisingly harsh, the features frozen into a conventional smile. In the eastern group the goddess, though still ungraceful, is more distinctly in action, and seems about to take part in the struggle. The Heracles of the eastern pediment, a warrior supported on one knee and drawing his bow, is, for the time, wonderfully vivid and strong. All of these statues are evidence of the rapid progress which Greek sculpture was making in the fifth century against the demands of hieratic conventionality.

The contemporary Athenian school boasted the names of Hegias, Critios, and Nesiotes. Their works have all perished, but a copy of one of the most famous works of Critios and Nesiotes, the statue of the Tyrannicides, is to be found in the Museum of Naples. Harmodius and Aristogeiton killed, in 514 B.C., the tyrant-ruler of Athens, Hipparchus. In consequence of this Athens soon became a republic, and the names of the first rebels were held in great honor. Their statues were set up on the Acropolis, first a group by Antenor, then the group in question by Critios and Nesiotes after the first had been carried away by Xerxes. The heroes, as we learn from the copies in Naples, were represented as rushing forward, one with a naked sword flashing above his head, the other with a mantle for defence thrown over his left arm. They differ in every detail of action and pose, yet they exemplify the same emotion, a common impulse to perform the same deed.

At Argus, contemporary with these early schools of Athens and Aegina, was a school of artists depending on the fame of the great sculptor Ageladas. He was distinguished for his statues in bronze of Zeus and Heracles, but his great distinction is not through works of his own, but is due to the fact that he was the teacher of Myron, Polycleitos, and Pheidias. These names with those of Pythagoras and Calamis bring us to the glorious flowering time of Greek sculpture.

Calamis, somewhat older than the others, was an Athenian, at least by residence. He carried on the measure of perfection which Athenian sculpture had already attained, and added grace and charm to the already powerful model which earlier workers had left him. None of his works survive, but from notices of critics we know that he excelled especially in modelling horses and other animals. His two race-horses in memory of the victory of Hiero of Syracuse at Olympia in 468 were considered unsurpassable. However, it is related that Praxiteles removed the charioteer from one of the groups of Calamis and replaced it by one of his own statues "that the men of Calamis might not be inferior to his horses." Thus it would appear that Calamis was less successful in dealing with the human body, though a statue of Aphrodite from his hand was proverbial, under the name Sosandra, for its grace and grave beauty.

Pythagoras of Rhegium carried on the realism, truth to nature, which was beginning to appear as an ideal of artistic representation. He is said to have been the first sculptor to mark the veins and sinews on the body.

In this vivid naturalness Pythagoras was himself far surpassed by Myron. Pythagoras had seen the importance of showing the effect of action in every portion of the body. Myron carried the minuteness of representation so far that his Statue of Ladas, the runner, was spoken of not as a runner, but as a BREATHER. This statue represented the victor of the foot-race falling, overstrained and dying, at the goal, the last breath from the tired lungs yet hovering upon the lips. More famous than the Ladas is the Discobolos , or disc-thrower, of which copies exist at Rome, one being at the Vatican, the other at the Palazzo Massimi alle Colonne. These, though doubtless far behind the original, serve to show the marvellous power of portraying intense action which the sculptor possessed. The athlete is represented at the precise instant when he has brought the greatest possible bodily strength into play in order to give to the disc its highest force. The body is bent forward, the toes of one foot cling to the ground, the muscles of the torso are strained, the whole body is in an attitude of violent tension which can endure only for an instant. Yet the face is free from contortion, free from any trace of effort, calm and beautiful. This shows that Myron, intent as he was upon reproducing nature, could yet depart from his realistic formulae when the requirements of beautiful art demanded it.

The same delight in rapid momentary action which characterized the two statues of Myron already mentioned appears in a third, the statue of Marsyas astonished at the flute which Athene had thrown away, and which was to lead its finder into his fatal contest with Apollo. A copy of this work at the Lateran Museum represents the satyr starting back in a rapid mingling of desire and fear, which is stamped on his heavy face, as well as indicated in the movement of his body.

Myron's realism again found expression in the bronze cow, celebrated by the epigrams of contemporary poets for its striking naturalness. "Shepherd, pasture thy flock at a little distance, lest thinking thou seest the cow of Myron breathe, thou shouldst wish to lead it away with thine oxen," was one of them.

The value and originality of Myron's contributions to the progress of Greek sculpture were so great that he left behind him a considerable number of artists devoted to his methods. His son Lykios followed his father closely. In statues on the Acropolis representing two boys, one bearing a basin, one blowing the coals in a censer into a flame, he reminds one of the Ladas, especially in the second, where the action of breathing is exemplified in every movement of the body. Another famous work by a follower of Myron was the boy plucking a thorn from his foot, a copy of which is in the Rothschild collection.

The frieze of the Temple of Apollo at Phigales has also been attributed to the school of Myron. The remnants of this frieze, now in the British Museum, show the battle of the Centaurs and Amazons. The figures have not the calm stateliness of bearing which characterizes those of the Parthenon frieze, but instead exhibit a wild vehemence of action which is, perhaps, directly due to the influence of Myron.

Another pupil of Ageladas, a somewhat younger contemporary of Pheidias, was Polycleitos. He excelled in representations of human, bodily beauty. Perfection of form was his aim, and so nearly did he seem to the ancients to have attained this object that his Doryphoros was taken by them as a model of the human figure. A copy of this statue exists in the Museum of Naples and represents a youth in the attitude of bearing a lance, quiet and reserved. The figure is rather heavily built, firm, powerful, and yet graceful, though hardly light enough to justify the praise of perfection which has been lavished upon it.

A companion statue to the Doryphorus of Polycleitos was his statue of the Diadumenos, or boy binding his head with a fillet. A supposed copy of this exists in the British Museum. It presents the same general characteristics as the Doryphorus, a well-modelled but thick-set figure standing in an attitude of repose.

What Polycleitos did for the male form in these two statues he did for the female form in his Amazon, which, according to a doubtful story, was adjudged in competition superior to a work by Pheidias. A statue supposed to be a copy of this masterpiece of Polycleitos is now in the Berlin Museum. It represents a woman standing in a graceful attitude beside a pillar, her left arm thrown above her head to free her wounded breast. The sculptor has succeeded admirably in catching the muscular force and firm hard flesh beneath the graceful curves of the woman warrior.

Polycleitos won his chief successes in portraying human figures. His statues of divinities are not numerous: a Zeus at Argos, an Aphrodite at Amyclae, and, more famous than either, the chryselephantine Hera for a temple between Argos and Mycenae. The goddess was represented as seated on a throne of gold, with bare head and arms. In her right hand was the sceptre crowned with the cuckoo, symbol of conjugal fidelity; in her left, the pomegranate. There exists no certain copy of the Hera of Polycleitos. The head of Hera in Naples may, perhaps, give us some idea of the type of divine beauty preferred by the sculptor who was preeminent for his devotion to human beauty.

Polycleitos was much praised by the Romans Quintilian and Cicero, who nevertheless, held that though he surpassed the beauty of man in nature, yet he did not approach the beauty of the gods. It was reserved for Pheidias to portray the highest conceptions of divinity of which the Greek mind was capable in his statues of Athene in the Parthenon at Athens, and the Zeus of Olympus.

Pheidias lived in the golden age of Athenian art. The victory of Greece against Persia had been due in large measure to Athens, and the results of the political success fell largely to her. It is true the Persians had held the ground of Athens for weeks, and when, after the victory of Salamis, the people returned to their city, they found it in ruins. But the spirit of the Athenians had been stirred, and in spite of the hostility of Persia, the jealousy of neighboring states, and the ruin of the city, the people felt new confidence in themselves and their divinity, and were more than ever ready to strive for the leadership of Greece. Religious feeling, gratitude to the gods who had preserved them, and civic pride in the glory of their own victorious city, all inspired the Athenians. After the winter in which the Persians were finally beaten at Plataea, the Athenians began to rebuild. For a while their efforts were confined to rendering the city habitable and defensible, since the activity of the little state was largely political. But when th leadership of Athens in Greece had become firmly established under Theistocles and Cimon, the third president of the democracy, Pericles, found leisure to turn to the artistic development of the city. The time was ripe, for the artistic progress of the people had been no less marked than their political. The same long training in valor and temperance which gave Athens her statesmen, Aristides and Pericles, gave her her artists and poets also. Pericles became president of the city in 444 B.C., just at the time when the decorative arts were approaching perfection under Pheidias.

Pheidias was an Athenian by birth, the son of Charmides. He studied first under Hegias, then under Ageladas the Argive. He became the most famous sculptor of his time, and when Pericles wanted a director for his great monumental works at Athens, he summoned Pheidias. Artists from all over Hellas put themselves at his disposal, and under his direction the Parthenon was built and adorned with the most splendid statuary the world has ever known.

The Parthenon was fashioned in honor of Athene or Minerva, the guardian deity of Athens, the preserver of Hellas, whom the Athenians in their gratitude sought to make the sovereign goddess of the land which she had saved. The eastern gable of the temple was adorned with a group representing the appearance of Minerva before the gods of Olympus. In the left angle of the gable appeared Helios, the dawn, rising from the sea. In the right angle Selene, evening, sank from sight. Next to Helios was a figure representing either Dionysus or Olympus, and beside were seated two figures, perhaps Persephone and Demeter, perhaps two Horae. Approaching these as a messenger was Iris. Balancing these figures on the side next Selene were two figures, representing Aphrodite in the arms of Peitho, or perhaps Thalassa, goddess of the sea, leaning against Gaia, the earth. Nearer the centre on this side was Hestia, to whom Hermes brought the tidings. The central group is totally lost, but must have been made up of Zeus, Athene, and Vulcan, with, perhaps, others of the greater divinities.

The group of the western pediment represented Athene and Poseidon, contesting for the supremacy of Athens. Athene's chariot is driven by Victory, Poseidon's by Amphitrite. Although the greater part of the attendant deities have disappeared, we know the gods of the rivers of Athens, Eridanas and Ilissos, in reclining postures filled the corners of the pediment. One of these has survived, and remains in its perfection of grace and immortal beauty to attest the wonderful skill that directed the chiselling of the whole group.

Although the gable groups have suffered terribly in the historic vicissitudes of the Parthenon, still enough remains of them to show the dignity of their conception, the rhythm of composition, and the splendid freedom of their workmanship. The fragments were purchased by Lord Elgin early in this century and are now in the British Museum.

The frieze of the Parthenon, executed under the supervision of Pheidias, represented one of the most glorious religious ceremonies of the Greek, the Pan-Athenaic procession. The deities surround Zeus as spectators of the scene, and toward them winds the long line of virgins bearing incense, herds of animals for sacrifice, players upon the lute and lyre, chariots and riders. On the western front the movement has not yet begun, and the youths and men stand in disorder, some binding their mantles, some mounting their horses. The frieze is noteworthy for its expression of physical and intellectual beauty which marked the highest conceptions of Greek art, and for the studied mingling of forcible action and gracious repose. The larger part of this frieze has been preserved and is to be seen at the British Museum.

The third group of Parthenon sculptures, the ornaments of the metope, represents the contest between centaurs and the Lapithae with some scenes interspersed of which the subjects cannot now be determined. The frieze is in low relief, the figures scarcely starting from the background. The sculptures of the metope, on the contrary, are in high relief, frequently giving the impression of marbles detached from the background altogether. They were, moreover, colored. Or course, Pheidias himself cannot have had more than the share of general director in the sculptures of the metope; many of them are manifestly executed by inferior hands. Nevertheless, the mind of a great designer is evident in the wonderful variety of posture and action which the figures show. Indeed, when we consider the immense number of figures employed, it becomes evident that not even all the sculptures of the pediments can have been executed entirely by Pheidias, who was already probably well advanced in life when he began the Parthenon decorations; yet all the sculptures were the work of Pheidias or of pupils working under him, and although traces may be found of the influence of other artists, of Myron, for example, in the freedom and naturalness of the action in the figures of the frieze, yet all the decorations of the Parthenon may fairly be said to belong to the Pheidian school of sculpture.

The fame of Pheidias himself, however, rested very largely on three great pieces of art work: The Athene Promachos, the Athene Parthenos, and the Olympian Zeus. The first of these was a work of Pheidias's youth. It represented the goddess standing gazing toward Athens lovingly and protectingly. She held a spear in one hand, the other supported a buckler. The statue was nine feet high. It was dignified and noble, but at the time of its conception Pheidias had not freed himself from the convention and traditions of the earlier school, and the stiff folds of the tunic, the cold demeanor of the goddess, recall the masters whom Pheidias was destined to supersede. No copy of this statue survives, and hence a description of it must be largely conjectural, made up from hints gleaned from Athenian coins.

Pheidias sculptured other statues of Athene, but none so wonderful as the Athene Parthenos, which, with the Olympian Zeus, was the wonder and admiration of the Greek world. The Athene Parthenos was designed to stand as an outward symbol of the divinity in whose protecting might the city had conquered and grown strong, in whose honor the temple had been built in which this statue was to shine as queen. The Olympian Zeus was the representative of that greater divinity which all Hellas united in honoring. We may gain from the words of Pausanias some idea of the magnificence of this statue, but of its unutterable majesty we can only form faint images in the mind, remembering the strength and grace of the figures of the pediments of the temple at Athens. "Zeus," says Pausanias, "is seated on a throne of ivory and gold; upon his head is laced a garland made in imitation of olive leaves. He bears a Victory in his right hand, also crowned and made in gold and ivory, and holding in her right hand a little fillet. In his left hand the god holds a sceptre, made of all kinds of metals; the bird perched on the tip of the sceptre is an eagle. The shoes of Zeus are also of gold, and of gold his mantle, and underneath this mantle are figures and lilies inlaid."

Both the Olympian Zeus and the Athene were of chryselephantine work offering enormous technical difficulties, but in spite of this both showed almost absolute perfection of form united with beauty of intellectual character to represent the godhead incarnate in human substance. These two statues may be taken as the noblest creations of the Greek imagination when directed to the highest objects of its contemplation. The beauty of the Olympian Zeus, according to Quintilian, "added a new element to religion."

In the works of art just mentioned the creative force of the Greeks attained its highest success. After the death of Pheidias his methods were carried on in a way by the sculptors who had worked under him and become subject to his influence; but as years went on, with less and less to remind us of the supreme perfection of the master. Among these pupils of Pheidias were Agoracritos and Colotes in Athens, Paionios, and Alcamenes. Of Paionios fortunately one statue survives in regard to which there can be no doubt. The Victory erected to the Olympian Zeus shows a tall goddess, strongly yet gracefully carved, posed forward with her drapery flattened closely against her body in front as if by the wind, and streaming freely behind. The masterpiece of Alcamenes, an Aphrodite, is known only by descriptions. The pediments of the temple at Olympia have been assigned, by tradition, one to Alcamenes, one to Paionios. They are, however, so thoroughly archaic in style that it seems impossible to reconcile them with what we know of the work of the men to whom they are attributed. The group of the eastern front represented the chariot races of Oinomaos and Pelops; that of the western, the struggle of the Centaurs and Lapithae. In the latter the action is extremely violent, only the Apollo in the midst is calm and commanding. In both pediments there are decided approaches to realism.

In Athens, after Pheidias, the greatest sculptures were those used to adorn the Erechtheion. The group of Caryatids, maidens who stand erect and firm, bearing upon their heads the weight of the porch, is justly celebrated as an architectural device. At the same time, the maidens, though thus performing the work of columns, do not lose the grace and charm which naturally belongs to them.

Another post-Pheidian work at Athens was the temple of Nike Apteros, the wingless Victory. The bas-reliefs from this temple, now in the Acropolis Museum at Athens, one representing the Victory stooping to tie her sandal, another, the Victory crowning a trophy, recall the consummate grace of the art of Pheidias, the greatest Greek art.

Agoracritos left behind him works at Athens which in their perfection could scarcely be distinguished from the works of Pheidias himself, none of which have come down to us. But from the time of the Peloponnesian war, the seeds of decay were in the art of Hellas, and they ripened fast. In one direction Callimachus carried refined delicacy and formal perfection to excess; and in the other Demetrios, the portrait sculptor, put by ideal beauty for the striking characteristics of realism. Thus the strict reserve, the earnest simplicity of Pheidias and his contemporaries, were sacrificed sacrificed partly, it is true, to the requirements of a fuller spiritual life, partly to the demands of a wider knowledge and deeper passion. The legitimate effects of sculpture are strictly limited. Sculpture is fitted to express not temporary, accidental feeling, but permanent character; not violent action, but repose. In the great work of the golden age the thought of the artist was happily limited so that the form was adequate to its expression. One single motive was all that he tried to express a motive uncomplicated by details of specific situation, a type of general beauty unmixed with the peculiar suggestions of special and individual emotion. When the onward impulse led the artist to pass over the severe limits which bounded the thought of the earlier school, he found his medium becoming less adequate to the demands of his more detailed and circumstantial mental conception. The later sculpture, therefore, lacks in some measure the repose and entire assurance of the earlier. The earlier sculpture confines itself to broad, central lines of heroic and divine character, as in the two masterpieces of Pheidias. The latter dealt in great elaboration with the details and elements of the stories and characters that formed its subjects, as in the Niobe group, or the Laocoon, to be mentioned later.

These modern tendencies produced as the greatest artists of the later Greek type Scopas and Praxiteles.

Between these, however, and the earlier school which they superseded came the Athenian Kephisodotos, the father, it may be supposed of Praxiteles. His fame rests upon a single work, a copy of which has been discovered, the Eirene and Ploutos. In this, while the simplicity and strictness of the Pheidian ideal have been largely preserved, it has been used as the vehicle of deeper feeling and more spiritual life.

Scopas was born at Paros, and lived during the fist half of the fourth century. He did much decorative work including the pediments of the temple of Athena at Tegea. He participated also in the decoration of the Mausoleum erected by Artemisia to the memory of her husband. In this latter, the battle of the Amazons, though probably not the work of Scopas himself, shows in the violence of its attitudes and the pathos of its action the new elements of interest in Greek art with the introduction of which Scopas is connected. The fame of Scopas rests principally on the Niobe group which is attributed to him. The sculpture represents the wife of Amphion at the moment when the curse of Apollo and Diana falls upon her, and her children are slain before her eyes. The children, already feeling the arrows of the gods, are flying to her for protection. She tries in vain to shield her youngest born beneath her mantle, and turns as if to hide her face with its motherly pride just giving place to despair and agony. The whole group is free from contortion and grandly tragic. The original exists no longer, but copies of parts of the group are found in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence.

The Niobe group shows the distinction between Scopas and Praxiteles and the earlier artists in choice of subject and mode of treatment. The same distinction is shown by the Raging Bacchante of Scopas. The head is thrown back, the hair loosened, the garments floating in the wind, an ecstacy of wild, torrent- like action.

Of the work of Praxiteles we know more directly than of the work of any other Greek sculptor of the same remoteness, for one statue has come down to us actually from the master's own hand, and we possess good copies of several others. His statues of Aphrodite, of which there were at least five, are known to us by the figures on coins and by two works in the same style, the Aphrodite in the Glyptothek, and that of the Vatican. The most famous of all was the Aphrodite of Cnidos, which was ranked with the Olympian Zeus and was called one of the wonders of te world. King Nicomedes of Bithynia offered vainly to the people of Cnidos the entire amount of their state debt for its possession. Lucian described the goddess as having a smile somewhat proud and disdainful; yet the eyes, moist and kindly, glowed with tenderness and passion, and the graceful lines of the shoulders, the voluptuous curves of the thighs, are full of sensuous feeling. The goddess, as represented in coins, stood beside a vase, over which her drapery is falling, while with her right hand she shields herself modestly. The head of Aphrodite in the British Museum, with its pure brows, its delicate, voluptuous lips, and sweet, soft skin, is, perhaps, the nearest approach which we possess to the glorious beauty of the original.

Other Aphrodites, the draped statue of Cos among them, and several statues of Eros, representing tender, effeminate youths, illustrate further the departure which Praxiteles marks from the restraint of Pheidias. Another of his masculine figures is the graceful Apollo with the Lizard. The god, strong in his youthful suppleness, is leaning against a tree threatening with his darts a small lizard which is seeking to climb up. Still another type of masculine grace left us by Praxiteles is his statue of the Satyr, of which a copy exists in the Capitoline Museum. The Satyr, in the hands of Praxiteles, lost all his ancient uncouthness, and became a strong, graceful youth, with soft, full form. In the Capitoline representation the boy is leaning easily against a tree, throwing his body into the most indolent posture, which brings out the soft, feminine curves of hips and legs. In fact, so thoroughly is the feminine principle worked into the statues of the Apollo, the Eros, and the Satyr, that this characteristic became considered typical of Praxiteles, and when, in 1877, was discovered the one authentic work which we possess of this artist, the great Hermes of Olympia, critics were at a loss to reconcile this figure with what was already known of the sculptor's work, some holding that it must be a work of his youth, when, through his father, Kephisodotos, he felt the force of the Pheidian tradition, others that there must have been two sculptors bearing the great name of Praxiteles.

The Hermes was found lacking the right arm and both legs below the knees, but the marvellous head and torso are perfectly preserved. The god is without the traditional symbols of his divinity. He is merely a beautiful man. He stands leaning easily against a tree, supporting on one arm the child Dionysus, to whom he turns his gracious head with the devotion and love of a protector. The face, in its expression of sweet majesty, is distinctly a personal conception. The low forehead, the eyes far apart, the small, playful mouth, the round, dimpled chin, all bear evidence to the individual quality which Praxiteles infused into the ideal thought of the god. The body, though at rest, is instinct with life and activity, in spite of its grace. In short, the form of the god has the superb perfection, as the face has the dignity, which was attributed to Pheidias. Nevertheless, the Hermes illustrates sensual loveliness of the later school. The freedom with which the god is conceived belongs to an age when the chains of religious belief sat lightly upon the artist. The gds of Praxiteles are the gods of human experience, and in his treatment of them he does not always escape the tendency of the age of decline to put pathos and passion in the place of eternal majesty.

The influence of Scopas and Praxiteles continued to be felt through a number of artists who worked in sufficient harmony with them to be properly called of their school. To one of these followers of Praxiteles, some say as a copy of a work of the master himself, we must attribute the Demeter now in the British Museum. This is a pathetic illustration of suffering motherhood. There is no exaggeration in the grief, only the calm dignity of a sorrow which in spite of hope refuses to be comforted.

Another work of an unknown artist, probably a follower of Scopas, is the splendid Victory of Samothrace, now in the Louvre. The goddess, with her great wings outspread behind her, is being carried forward, her firm rounded limbs striking through the draperies which flutter behind her, and fall about her in soft folds. Vigorous and stately, the goddess poises herself on the prow of the ship, swaying with the impulse of conquering daring and strength.

Another statue which belongs, so far as artistic reasoning may carry us, to the period and school of Praxiteles, is the so- called Venus of Milo. The proper title to be given to this statue is doubtful, for the drapery corresponds to that of the Roman type of Victory, and if we could be sure that the goddess once held the shield of conquest in her now broken arms we should be forced to call the figure a Victory and place its date no earlier than the second century B.C. However this may be, the statue is justly one of the most famous in the world. It represents an ideal of purity and sweetness. There is not a trace of coarseness or immodesty in the half-naked woman who stands perfect in the maidenly dignity of her own conquering fairness. Her serious yet smiling face, her graceful form, the delicacy of feeling in attitude and gaze, the tender moulding of breast and limbs, make it a worthy companion of the Hermes or Praxiteles. It seems scarcely possible that it should not have sprung from the inspiration of his example.

The last of the great sculptors of Greece was Lysippos of Sikyou. He differed from Pheidias on the one hand and from Polycleitos on the other. Pheidias strove to make his gods all god-like; Lysippos was content to represent them merely as exaggerated human beings; but therein he differed also from Polycleitos, who aimed to model the human body with the beauty only which actually existed in it. Lysippos felt that he must set the standard of human perfection higher than it appears in the average of human examples. Hence we have from him the statues of Heracles, in which the ideal of manly strength was carried far beyond the range of human possibility. A reminiscence of this conception of Lysippos may be found in the Farnese Heracles of Glycon, now in the Museum of Naples. Lysippos also sculptured four statues of Zeus, which depended for their interest largely on their heroic size.

Lysippos won much fame by his statues of Alexander the Great, but he is chiefly known to us by his statue of the athlete scraping himself with a strigil, of which an authentic copy is in the Vatican. The figure differs decidedly from the thick-set, rather heavy figures of Polycleitos, being tall, and slender in spite of its robustness. The head is small, the torso is small at the waist, but strong, and the whole body is splendidly active.

The changes in the models of earlier sculptors made by Lysippos were of sufficient importance to give rise to a school which was carried on by his sons and others, producing among many famous works the Barberini Faun, now at the Glyptothek, Munich. The enormous Colossus of Rhodes was also the work of a disciple of Lysippos.

But from this time the downward tendency in Greek art is only too apparent, and very rapid. The spread of Greek influence over Asia, and later, in consequence of the conquest of Greece by Rome, over Europe, had the effect of widening the market for Greek production, but of drying up the sources of what was vital in that production. Athens and Sikyou became mere provincial cities, and were shorn thenceforth of all artistic significance; and Greek art, thus deprived of the roots of its life, continued to grow for a while with a rank luxuriance of production, but soon became normal and conventional. The artists who followed Lysippos contented themselves chiefly with seeking a merely technical perfection in reproducing the creations of the earlier and more original age.

At Pergamon under Attalus, in the last years of the third century, there was something of an artistic revival. This Attalus successfully defended his country against an overwhelming attack of the Gauls from the north. To celebrate this victory, an altar was erected to Zeus on the Acropolis of Pergamon, of which the frieze represented the contest between Zeus and the giants. These sculptures are now to be found in Berlin. They are carved in high relief; the giants with muscles strained and distended, their bodies writhing in the contortions of effort and suffering; the gods, no longer calm and restrained, but themselves overcome with the ardor of battle. Zeus stretches his arms over the battle-field hurling destruction everywhere. Athene turns from the field, dragging at her heels a young giant whom she has conquered, and reaches forward to the crown of victory. The wild, passionate action of the whole work remove it far from the firm, orderly work of Pheidias, and carry it almost to the extreme of pathetic representation in sculpture shown by the Laocoon.

The contests with the Gauls, the fear inspired by the huge forms of the barbarians, seem to have influenced powerfully the imaginative conceptions of the sculptors of the school of Pergamon. One of the most famous works which they have left is the figure long known as the Dying Gladiator, of which a copy exists in the Capitoline Museum. This represents a Gaul sinking wounded to the ground, supporting himself on his right arm. It is remarkable for its stern realism. The pain and sense of defeat comes out in every feature. Moreover, the nationality of the fallen warrior is clearly expressed in the deep indentation between the heavy brow and the prominent nose, in the face, shaven, except the upper lip, in the uncouth, fleshy body, in the rough hands and feet. Usually the artist preferred to hint at the race by some peculiarities of costume. Here nothing but uncompromising realism of feature will satisfy the sculptor. A companion piece to the Wounded Gaul, though less famous, is the group of the Villa Ludovisi, which represents a Gaul, who has slain his wife, in the act of stabbing himself in the neck.

In addition to inspiring the sculptures at Pergamon, Attalus dedicated to the gods of Athens a votive offering in return for the help which they had given him. This was placed on the Acropolis at Athens. It consisted of four groups, representing the gigantomachia or giant combat, the battle of the Amazons, the battle of Marathon, and the victory of Attalus. Figures from these survive, a dead Amazon at Naples and a kneeling Persian at the Vatican being the best known.

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