Project Gutenberg's 'Round the Year in Myth and Song, by Florence Holbrook

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Title: 'Round the Year in Myth and Song

Author: Florence Holbrook

Release Date: January 26, 2014 [EBook #44765]

Language: English

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Transcriber's Note

The chapter 'PERSONS AND PLACES MENTIONED' contains some less commonly used characters to indicate pronunciation, including the following:

upper and lower case c with hyphen through, C̵ and c̵
s with uptack below, s̝
y with breve above, y̆
y with macron above, ȳ
a with dot above, ȧ

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Decorative front cover of the book





Copyright, 1897, by
W. P. II




This book is intended for use in all grades of elementary schools, the method of presentation varying with the age of the pupils. It has been welcomed even by pupils in higher schools, because easily familiarizing them with myths and characters that figure so largely in the literary texts with which they are to deal.

In the first and second grades the teachers should read or tell some of the stories to the pupils, thus satisfying the demand of children for a story, and preparing the way for an appreciation of literature. The pupils should retell the stories, thus enriching their vocabulary and learning to express thought clearly, easily, consecutively, and confidently,—a power so much needed and so valuable to citizens of a republic.

Some of the poems, as “Daybreak,” “The Moss Rose,” “Forget-me-not,” “Sweet and Low,” “The Child’s World,” etc., should be memorized. If this work has been well done in these grades, the pupils of third and fourth grades will enjoy reading the stories, continuing the reciting of myth and poem. The pictures that so well illustrate the myths should be studied and described. In these classes and in the grammar grades the stories should be written and the poems reproduced accurately, serving as valuable lessons in form, in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. The reproduction of the myth and poem both orally and in written papers is an exercise whose value cannot be overestimated.

[8] While the myths are valuable in themselves as stories which appeal to and which nourish the imagination, and as aids to expression in oral and written language, they are also very helpful, when presented early, to the understanding of references with which our literature is filled, and make the reading of the best in literature more of a delight because of this knowledge. It is important that these myths be given to children who enjoy the world of fairy tale and myth,—children who in their imagination drive the car of Apollo with the bold Phaëthon, and see with Narcissus the nymph smiling in the brook.

The poems and pictures in the book serve to illustrate the debt both poets and artists owe to the fancies of the beauty-loving Greeks, the children of our race. With imagination and memory nourished and stored with stories that have been part of men’s literary possessions for centuries, and which have been embodied in all the arts, the love for literature which is permanent and valuable will leave no room for the worthless and transitory.

Acknowledgments are due to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Company for selections from Holmes, Whittier, and Longfellow; to Messrs. D. Appleton & Company for selections from Bryant; to Messrs. A. C. McClurg & Company for the poem, “Rainbow Fairies,” from Tomlin’s “Child’s Garden of Song”; and to Mr. John Burroughs for permission to use his poem, “Waiting.”



’Round the Year Gary Cooper 15
The Seasons   22
Worship of Nature John Greenleaf Whittier 27
How the Myths arose   28
The Months—Winter   30
The Voice of Spring Felicia Dorothea Hemans 31
The Months—Spring   33
On May Morning John Milton 34
The Child’s Wish in June Caroline Gilman 36
The Months—Summer   37
Autumn Anonymous 38
The Months—Autumn   39
The Old Year Alfred Tennyson 41
The Holidays of the Year   43
The Days of the Week   47
Ode Joseph Addison 50
Ceres   52
To the Fringed Gentian William Cullen Bryant 54
Ceres and Persephone   55
Arbutus Asleep William Whitman Bailey 57
The Search of Ceres   59
Waiting John Burroughs 61
[10]Apollo   62
Hark! hark! the Lark William Shakespeare 63
Diana   65
Lady Moon Anonymous 66
The Pleiades   68
The Stars Amelia 70
Aurora   73
Daybreak Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 75
Aurora and Tithonus   77
On the Grasshopper and Cricket John Keats 77
Aurora and Memnon   79
A Walk at Sunset William Cullen Bryant 79
The Nymphs and Other Goddesses   82
Give Adelaide Anne Procter 87
Apollo and the Muses   88
The Descent of the Muses Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 90
Apollo and Daphne   92
Forget-me-not Anonymous 94
Clytie   96
The Daisy James Montgomery 99
Niobe   102
Apollo George Gordon Byron 104
Jupiter   106
Abou Ben Adhem Leigh Hunt 108
Neptune   109
Neptune John Keats 111
Vulcan   112
Work Mary N. Prescott 114
[11]Venus   115
Her Face Robert Browning 119
Cupid and Psyche   121
Love Francis Bourdillon 122
Psyche and Venus   123
Longing James Russell Lowell 125
St. Valentine’s Day   127
What March does May Riley Smith 128
Phaëthon   129
Wings Mary F. Butts 131
Mercury   134
The Finding of the Lyre James Russell Lowell 135
Æolus   137
Æolus and Ulysses   140
The Chambered Nautilus Oliver Wendell Holmes 141
The Wind Tower   143
Mudjekeewis   145
Wabun   146
Shawondasee   149
Little Dandelion Helen B. Bostwick 150
Kabibonokka   151
What the Winds bring Edmund Clarence Stedman 153
Iris   155
The Rainbow William Wordsworth 155
Rainbow Stories   156
The Rainbow Fairies Lizzie M. Hadley 157
Narcissus   158
The Brook Alfred Tennyson 159
[12]Echo and Narcissus   161
Blue John Keats 163
Minerva   164
Minerva and Arachne   166
Minerva’s Weaving Edmund Spenser 169
Prometheus   171
Home Thoughts from Abroad Robert Browning 173
Adonis   174
Origin of the Opal Anonymous 176
The Apples of the Hesperides   177
Cleon and I Charles Mackay 179
Pandora   180
The Gladness of Nature William Cullen Bryant 183
Hebe and Ganymede   185
May Macdonald 186
Vesta   186
Sweet and Low Alfred Tennyson 188
The Origin of the Moss Rose   190
The Moss Rose Krummacher 192
Orpheus and Eurydice   193
The Child’s World Lilliput Lectures 197
Arion   198
June James Russell Lowell 200



Ä´bou bĕn Äd´hem (ä´bōō)
A c̵hĭl´lēs̝
A dō´nis
Æ ō´li a
Æ ō´li an Īs´lands̝
Æ´o lus
A pŏl´lo
Aq´ui lo (ăk´wi lo)
A răc̵h´ne
A ri´on
Au rō´ra

Bō´re as

Cæ´s̝ar Au gŭs´tus
C̵al lï´o pe
Cẽr´be rus
C̵ŏl i sē´um
Cy̆n´thi a

Di ā´na

En dy̆m´i on
Ep i mē´the us
Ĕr´a to
Eu rō´pa
Eu ry̆d´i ce
Eu tẽr´pe


Găn y mē´de

He li´a dēs̝
Hẽr´c̵u lēs̝
Hes pē´ri a
Hes pĕr´i dēs̝
Hēs´pe rus
Hi a wä´tha

Ĭt´a ly
Ĭth´a c̵a

Jūli us Cæ´s̝ar
Jū´pi ter

Kä´be yun
Ka bi bon ŏk´ka

La tō´na
Lĭp´ar i Īs´lands̝
Louvre (lōōvr)

Mā´i a
Mel pŏm´e ne
Mẽr´cu ry
Mĭ nẽr´va
Mud je kēē´wis

Nā´iads̝ (yādz)
Nar cĭs´sus
Nē´re ids̝
Nĭ´o be
No kō´mis

O ce ăn´ids̝ (she)
Oc tā´vi us Cæs̝ar
O ly̆m´pus
Ō´re ads̝
O rī´on
Ôr´phe us

Păl´las A thē´ne
Pan dō´ra
Par năs´sus
Pär´the non
Per i ăn´der
Per sĕph´o ne
Phā´ë thon
Phœ´bus (fē)
Pi ĕr´ i dēs̝
Pī´e rus
Plē´ia dēs̝ (yȧ)

Pol y hy̆m´ni a
Po mō´na
Pro mē´the us
Psȳ´c̵he (sȳ´)


Sha won dä´see
Sĭc´i ly

Ta rĕn´tum
Tẽrp sĭc̵h´o re
Tha lĭ´a
Ti thō´nus
Tiw (tū)

U ly̆s´sĕs̝
U rā´ni a

Val´en tīne

Wa bäs´so

Zĕph´y̆ rus (zĕf´)


A young woman walking in the countryside and releasing two birds from a cage
E. Semenowsky (modern).



O beautiful world of green!
When bluebirds carol clear,
And rills outleap,
And new buds peep,
And the soft sky seems more near;
With billowy green and leaves,—what then?
How soon we greet the red again!


A young woman in a garden, collecting roses in her apron
E. Semenowsky (modern).
[17] O radiant world of red!
When roses blush so fair,
And winds blow sweet,
And lambkins bleat,
And the bees hum here and there;
With thrill of bobolinks,—ah, then,
Before we know, the gold again!


A young woman in woodlands, collecting apples
E. Semenowsky (modern).
[19] O beautiful world of gold!
When waving grain is ripe,
And apples beam
Through the hazy gleam,
And quails on the fence rails pipe;
With pattering nuts and winds,—why then,
How swiftly falls the white again!


A young woman on a snowy riverbank warms her hands over a small fire
E. Semenowsky (modern).
[21] O wonderful world of white!
When trees are hung with lace,
And the rough winds chide,
And snowflakes hide
Each bleak unsheltered place;
When birds and brooks are dumb,—what then?
O, round we go to the green again!
—G. Cooper.


Bas-relief of a woman with two children
A. B. Thorwaldsen (1770-1844).


The earth receives light from the sun, and completes its course through the heavens once a year. Each year brings Spring with her garlands of flowers, Summer—golden Summer—with her sheaves of sunlit grain, [23] Autumn with the purple grape, and Winter clad in frost and snow.

Bas-relief of a man offering an apple to one of two women who are harvesting wheat
A. B. Thorwaldsen.

Every year there is the same order of the seasons. Therefore man knows when to plant the tiny seeds, when the harvests and fruits will ripen, and what provision to make for the cold but merry winter.


Bas-relief of a man returning, from hunting and foraging, to his wife and infant
A. B. Thorwaldsen.

Just as little children, tired with play, and men who work all day, must have the night for sleep and rest, so Mother Earth, who plays and works so gaily from March to October, must have the winter season for rest. Then she covers herself with a mantle of snow, and sings a sleepy lullaby song.

Each of the seasons has three months to attend her.


Bas-relief of an old man and a cat sitting as an elderly woman lights a lamp
A. B. Thorwaldsen.

Spring, clad in dainty green, has March with cleansing winds, changeable April with sunshine and rain, and tender May with the fragrant flowers.

Summer, in her golden dress, has June, July, and August to attend her.

Autumn, with September, October, and November, comes with her hands filled with baskets of fruit.

[26] Winter has December, January, and February to cover the earth with snow, to freeze the rivers, and to paint curious pictures upon the windowpanes.

Can you compare the passing of the year and the life of man? Childhood, the springtime of life, is the time for play and dance and merry song, the time to make the body supple and strong. When the body is strong and the mind has been trained, comes the summer time of work—hard work in all the fields of labor, that the harvest may not fail. In the autumn of life, when the labor of the summer ripens into fruit, how pleasant to reap the reward of work! Then slowly come the snowy hair and the winter of life, when we sit by the fire and tell the story of our battles, our struggles, our defeats, and our victories.

Each season of the year has its pleasures and its tasks, and so has each season of life. A youth of cheerful labor and study brings its own reward of a well-prepared and happy adult life. Then we can repeat Browning’s cheering words,—

“Grow old along with me!
The best of life is yet to be,
The last for which the first is made.”



The harp at Nature’s advent strung
Has never ceased to play;
The song the stars of morning sung
Has never died away.
And prayer is made, and praise is given,
By all things near and far;
The ocean looketh up to heaven,
And mirrors every star.
The green earth sends her incense up
From many a mountain shrine;
From folded leaf and dewy cup
She pours her sacred wine.
The mists above the morning rills
Rise white as wings of prayer;
The altar curtains of the hills
Are sunset’s purple air.
The blue sky is the temple’s arch,
Its transept earth and air,
The music of its starry march
The chorus of a prayer.
—John Greenleaf Whittier.



The Greeks lived much in the open air, and dearly loved the trees, the flowers, the birds, the sea and sky.

They watched the clouds floating in the beautiful azure dome, sometimes in long lines like soldiers, sometimes looking like great curly white feathers, and sometimes piled high like mountains of snow.

They saw the sun rise, coloring the clouds and awakening all things on the earth; and they watched him sink in the western sky, flooding the heavens with brilliant hues.

In the quiet night, they saw the lovely stars come, one by one at first, and then in such numbers that their eyes were dazzled, and they thought of God and of the beauty of His works.

“The million-handed sculptor molds
Quaintest bud and blossom folds;
The million-handed painter pours
Opal hues and purple dye;
Azaleas flush the inland floor,
And the tints of heaven reply.”

They listened to the carols of the birds and they believed that the brooks, the trees, and the flowers could talk to men.

[29] The poets dreamed and sang about the spirits which inhabited all the forms of nature. All the people loved these fancies, and repeated the stories again and again. These stories,—these beautiful fancies about nature, which to the Greeks seemed true,—we call myths, or fairy tales.

“The beauty of the sea and sky,
The airy flight of birds on high,
The lovely flowers, whose perfume rare
So softly fills the summer air;
The rainbow’s glow, the shimmering rain
When springtime buds peep out again,
The golden glory of the sun
The fields of ripening grain upon,
The winds that sigh harmoniously,
The tempest’s wrath o’er land and sea,
The purple haze of mountains far,
Or snowy crest, whereon the star
Of night shines soft and silvery:—
These joys that nature offers thee,
Wilt thou not know; wilt thou not feel
What God and thine own heart reveal?”
—F. H.



In addition to its four seasons—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—the year is divided into twelve months. Long ago, there were but ten months, and the first month was March. But when January and February were added, the year had twelve months, and January, the second month of the winter season, is now called the first month of the year.

“Month” and “moon” come from a word which means “to measure.” It takes the earth three hundred and sixty-five days, or a year, to revolve around the sun. The moon revolves around the earth about twelve times in one year; so the moon is the measurer of the year, and the twelve periods we call months.

From Janus, a Roman god, comes the name of the first month of the year. Janus is the two-headed god. A temple of this divinity was placed at the city gate of Rome. His statue had one face looking toward the city and one beyond the gate. The month of January stands at the gateway of the year, with one face looking toward the past and one toward the future.

Our second month, February, receives its name from a Latin word which means “to purify,” for in this month the people used to purify their homes and offer sacrifices to the gods, who love order and cleanliness.



I come! I come! ye have called me long;
I come o’er the mountains, with light and song!
Ye may trace my steps o’er the wakening earth,
By the winds which tell of the violet’s birth,
By the primrose stars in the shadowy grass,
By the green leaves opening as I pass.
I have sent through the wood paths a glowing sigh,
And called out each voice of the deep blue sky,
From the night bird’s lay through the starry time,
In the groves of the soft Hesperian clime,
To the swan’s wild note, by the Iceland lakes,
Where the dark fir branch into verdure breaks.
From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain;
They are sweeping on to the silvery main,
They are flashing down from the mountain brows,
They are flinging spray o’er the forest boughs,
They are bursting fresh from their sparry caves,
And the earth resounds with the joy of waves!
Come forth, O ye children of gladness, come!
Where the violets lie may be now your home.
Ye of the rose lip and dew-bright eye,
And the bounding footstep, to meet me fly!
With the lyre, and the wreath, and the joyous lay,
Come forth to the sunshine, I may not stay.
—Felicia Dorothea Hemans.


A young woman carries a garland of leaves and flowers through woodland
F. A. Kaulbach (modern).



The name of the famous Mars, god of war, was given to the first month of spring. This month, formerly the first of the year, is now the third. Mars is fond of storm and strife, and his name is very appropriate for this windy, stormy month. In March the sun turns back in his journey among the stars, and begins to come north again. The days grow longer in our part of the world, and we know that summer is coming.

In April the snows melt, the little brooks awake and chatter over their pebbly beds, the birds return to gladden us with their songs, and the tiny leaves peep out of their winter nests. The earth seems to open to receive the moist rains and the warm winds. April, the beautiful name given to this second month of spring, comes from a Latin word meaning “to open.”

The lovely month of May is a great favorite with the poets. Many of them have written charming poems in her honor. Maia, in whose honor this month was named, is the mother of Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods. The Romans held this god in great honor, and gave the name of his mother to the loveliest of the months.



Now the bright morning star, day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flow’ry May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May! that dost inspire
Mirth and youth and warm desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
—John Milton.


A young woman reclines on a bank, a basket beside her
A. H. Dieffenbach (modern).



Mother, mother, the winds are at play;
Prithee, let me be idle to-day.
Look, dear mother, the flowers all lie
Languidly under the bright blue sky.
See, how slowly the streamlet glides;
Look, how the violet roguishly hides;
Even the butterfly rests on the rose,
And scarcely sips the sweets as he goes.
Poor Tray is asleep in the noonday sun,
And the flies go about him, one by one;
And pussy sits near with a sleepy grace,
Without ever thinking of washing her face.
There flies a bird to a neighboring tree,
But very lazily flieth he;
And he sits and twitters a gentle note,
That scarcely ruffles his little throat.
You bid me be busy. But, mother dear,
How the humdrum grasshopper soundeth near;
And the soft west wind is so light in its play,
It scarcely moves a leaf on the spray.
I wish, O I wish I were yonder cloud,
That sails about with its misty shroud;
Book and work I no more should see,
And I’d come and float, dear mother, o’er thee.
—Caroline Gilman.



June, the month of roses, is named in honor of the stately Juno, queen of the gods. Juno is the goddess of happy marriages, and June is the favorite month for weddings.

July is named in honor of Julius Cæsar, the greatest of the Romans in the art of war. In peace, also, he advanced the condition of the people, and he was a great statesman and writer. He it was who reformed the calendar, and so it is just that his name should be given to one of the months.

Octavius Cæsar was the nephew and heir of Julius Cæsar, the great commander. After conquering his enemies, he became the master of Rome and was named Emperor by the Roman Senate. He ruled the empire wisely and well, and received the title Augustus, which means “worthy of reverence.” From him the eighth month receives its name—August.

Cæsar Augustus was the friend of the poets and orators who lived during his reign. So many beautiful poems were written at that time, and all the arts so flourished, that the reign of Augustus has been called “The Golden Age.”



When leaves grow sear, all things take somber hue;
The wild winds waltz no more the woodside through,
And all the faded grass is wet with dew.
The forest’s cheeks are crimsoned o’er with shame,
The cynic frost enlaces every lane,
The ground with scarlet blushes is aflame.
The ripened nuts drop downward day by day,
Sounding the hollow tocsin of decay,
And bandit squirrels smuggle them away.
Inconstant Summer to the tropics flees,
And, as her rose sails catch the amorous breeze,
Lo! bare, brown Autumn trembles to her knees.
The stealthy nights encroach upon the days,
The earth with sudden whiteness is ablaze,
And all her paths are lost in crystal maze.
With blooms full-sapped again will smile the land,
The Fall is but the folding of His hand,
Anon with fuller glories to expand.
So shall the truant bluebirds backward fly,
And all loved things that vanish or that die
Return to us in some sweet by and by.



The months of September, October, November, and December are named from Latin words that mean “seven,” “eight,” “nine,” and “ten.”

When the beginning of the year was placed in March, these months were named from their position the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months. When the first day of January was made the first day of the year, these months became the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth months, but their names were not changed. December is, of course, the first month of winter.

Each year has three hundred and sixty-five days, except leap year, which comes once in four years. In leap years there are three hundred and sixty-six days, the extra day being added to the month of February.

The days are not evenly divided among the twelve months, but, as the old rhyme says,—

“Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine,
Till leap year gives it twenty-nine.”


Three angels are gathered close to two large bells
Blashfield (modern).
The New-year Bells.



Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
—Alfred Tennyson.


A little girl watches a woman bottlefeed one of a small group of lambs
A. H. Waterlow (modern).
A May Scene.



When the New Year comes, we all hold out our hands to the welcome guest, and are glad to see his young and smiling face. So we have made the first day of January a holiday, that friends may wish one another a “Happy New Year.”

February has many days that are dear to us. The birthdays of our noble presidents, Lincoln and Washington, are always celebrated with honor for their greatness and rejoicings for our country’s prosperity. Longfellow and Lowell, two of our greatest poets, are also remembered. St. Valentine’s Day is a festival welcome to children, and to all who love to see young people gay and happy.

In March we have no holiday.

In many of our states a very interesting holiday has been given to April. It is called “Arbor Day,” for on this day trees are planted. Men have always felt a reverence for trees, and have believed that

“The groves were God’s first temples.”

The Greeks gave a personality to trees, and the Druids worshiped the strong and noble oak. So we are setting aside a day when all the people shall make holiday, and plant trees whose shade shall refresh and [44] whose fruit shall nourish us. This is a beautiful holiday, and one full of meaning. Our poet Bryant says,—

“What plant we in this apple tree?
Sweets for a hundred flowery springs
To load the May wind’s restless wings,
When, from the orchard row, he pours
Its fragrance through our open doors;
A world of blossoms for the bee,
Flowers for the sick girl’s silent room,
For the glad infant sprigs of bloom,
We plant with the apple tree.”

May brings with her one of the most sacred and beautiful days of all the year. On Memorial, or Decoration, Day we cover with flowers the graves of those who died to preserve the nation.

In England and in Sweden, May Day is given up to dance and song and flower shows. This festival began in honor of Odin, the old Norse god of the sun.

June has no day that is remembered as a universal holiday. But in July we find the greatest day of the year—the Fourth of July, Independence Day. Every child knows that on this day our nation was born. The flags, the drums, the trumpets, the cannon,—all awaken in the breast of every American a thrill of love and pride that will never pass away.

Portrait depicting the young Christ
Prescott Davies (modern).
The Christ Child.

August is passed by; but on the first Monday in September comes Labor Day. This has been [46] celebrated for only a few years, but the meaning of the holiday lies deep in the minds and hearts of men who realize that labor is man’s greatest blessing and hope.

Thanksgiving Day, generally the last Thursday in November, is sacred to the memory of our honored ancestors, who bravely and nobly endured the cold and want of that first New England winter, confident that the God whom they trusted and served would not forget them.

“Aye, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod!
They have left unstained what there they found,—
Freedom to worship God!”

December has the children’s great festal day,—the blessed Christmas, when the lessons of Christ’s life blossom into deeds, and a loving spirit seems to spread over all the land. The carols, the Christmas trees, the merry bells, make the heart gay, and all the air resounds with Christmas glee. We read the Christmas stories, sing the old songs, send loving greetings to absent friends, and rejoice with the happy children, for “of such is the kingdom of heaven.”



In the southern countries of Europe, the days of the week were named after the gods of the Greeks and Romans. But in our country, and in some of the countries of northern Europe, the gods of the North have given their names to the days.

Sunday and Monday received their names from the sun and the moon—the radiant lamps that light the earth by day and by night.

Tiw is the god of honorable war, the son of Odin and Frigga, the earth mother. His emblem is the sword, and in olden days the people did him great homage. Tuesday, the third day of the week, was named in his honor.

Wednesday was called Woden’s day, in honor of Woden, or Odin, the king of the gods. He was often called the All Father.

Thor, the son of Odin, is one of the twelve great gods of northern mythology. “Whenever he throws his wonderful hammer,” they used to say, “the noise of thunder is heard through the heavens. He is the only god who cannot cross from earth to heaven upon the rainbow, for he is so heavy and powerful that the gods fear it will break under his weight.” Thursday was sacred to Thor.


Thor, carrying his hammer, rides in an open cart pulled by two goats
[49] “I am the Thunderer!
Here in my Northland,
My fastness and fortress,
Reign I forever!”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Friday was the day sacred to Frigga, queen of the gods.

Saturday received its name from Sæter, god of the harvest.

“One poor day!—
Remember whose, and not how short it is!
It is God’s day, it is Columbus’s.
A lavish day! One day, with life and heart,
Is more than time enough to find a world.”
—James Russell Lowell.
“No man is born into the world whose work
Is not born with him. There is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will;
And blesséd are the horny hands of toil!
The busy world shoves angrily aside
The man who stands with arms akimbo set,
Until occasion tells him what to do;
And he who waits to have his task marked out
Shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled.”
—James Russell Lowell.



The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator’s power display;
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly, to the listening earth,
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though, in solemn silence, all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice nor sound
Amidst their radiant orbs be found?
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing, as they shine,
“The hand that made us is divine!”
—Joseph Addison.


The sea at night breaks against steps leading to a turreted building
Moonlight on the Ocean.



All through the warm days of July and August, the grain ripens in the rays of the sun, and in September the fields are yellow with nodding heads of golden grain. Ceres, the earth mother, has been driving north and south, east and west.

Two beautiful maidens always attend her,—Flora, with garlands of roses, who cares for the lovely flowers, and Pomona, who ripens the fruits for man to eat.

As Ceres passes, the fields and woods gleam with color and beauty, and all the voices of nature join man’s in hymns of thanksgiving for her bounty. The old Greeks tell us, that it is she who taught men how to cultivate the fields; how to prepare the soil for the seed, when to plant the many grains and fruits, and how to care for the young and tender plants.

In autumn, after the work of spring and summer, she rejoices in the bounteous harvests, in the vineyards filled with purple grapes. Great golden pumpkins, like huge apples, lie basking in Apollo’s rays; the purple aster and the golden-rod add color to the landscape. Ceres is glad at heart. She is happy in the results of her labor and in the presence of her lovely daughter, Persephone. But when Persephone leaves her mother, Ceres is sad, and winter, cold and drear, settles over the earth.


Ceres, carrying wheat and leaning on a staff
Vatican, Rome.



Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven’s own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou comest not when violets lean
O’er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o’er the ground bird’s hidden nest.
Thou waitest late, and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue—blue—as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,
Hope, blossoming within my heart,
May look to heaven as I depart.
—William Cullen Bryant.



You will wonder why Persephone is not always with her mother. This is the story the Greeks tell.

As Ceres takes care of the ripening grains and fruits all over the earth, it is necessary for her to visit every country of the world. One day she was seated in her chariot drawn by those wonderful winged dragons, ready to set forth on her travels. She kissed her little daughter, and warned her not to go far from home. She had never before felt so anxious about leaving her little girl, but she had to go.

Persephone threw a loving kiss to her fond mother, and then went to the shore of the sea to play with the sea nymphs. They are graceful, slender girls, with sea-green hair and eyes like opals. They are charming playmates, but cannot come out of the water. Persephone gathered flowers for them, and was obedient to her mother’s command.

But Pluto, the god of the palaces of gold and silver under the earth, looking out from one of the caverns, saw the pretty child, and wanted to carry her away to his home. So he caused a wonderful flower, all crimson and gold, to charm Persephone farther away. She stooped to pick it; and lo! it came up by the roots, a [56] deep cavern yawned, and the chariot of King Pluto appeared.

The driver, who was King Pluto himself, caught the frightened Persephone in his arms. Whipping his coal-black steeds, he hurried away with her to his home in Hades.

Three young women carry firewood through snowy woodland
L. Munthe (modern).
A Winter Scene.


Arbutus lies beneath the snows,
While winter waits her brief repose,
And says, “No fairer flower grows!”
Of sunny April days she dreams,
Of robins’ notes and murmuring streams,
And smiling in her sleep she seems.
She thinks her rosy buds expand
Beneath the touch of childhood’s hand,
And beauty breathes throughout the land.
The arching elders bending o’er
The silent river’s sandy shore,
Their golden tresses trim once more.
The pussy willows in their play
Their varnished caps have flung away,
And hung their furs on every spray.
[58] The toads their cheery music chant,
The squirrel seeks his summer haunt,
And life revives in every plant.
“I must awake! I hear the bee!
The butterfly I long to see!
The buds are bursting on the tree!”
Ah! blossom, thou art dreaming, dear;
The wild winds howl about thee here
The dirges of the dying year!
Thy gentle eyes with tears are wet;
In sweeter sleep these pains forget;
Thy merry morning comes not yet!
—William Whitman Bailey.



When Ceres returned and could not find her little girl, she was frantic. Over the whole earth she drove her chariot, calling upon all things to help her in her search—but in vain!

Then she became so sad that she refused to allow the earth to produce any food for man or beast. The flowers and trees and harvests drooped and faded. In vain did gods and men plead with her. She would not be comforted.

At last Jupiter sent the swift-flying Mercury, messenger of the gods, to Pluto, commanding him to release Persephone. When Ceres saw her daughter restored to her, what joy was hers! Yet she feared one thing.

“Have you eaten anything in Pluto’s kingdom, my child?” was her anxious question.

“Yes, dear mother,” Persephone replied, “six pomegranate seeds.”

“Alas! then you must remain with Pluto six months of every year,” said the sad Ceres.

Thus it is that for six months Ceres and Persephone are together, the earth is covered with the blessed gifts of Ceres, and it is summer over the land. But when they are separated, the mother grieves, and winter is king.


A young woman sits on the shoreline and stares out to sea
Nonnenbruch (modern).
Copyright, 1895, by Photographische Gesellschaft.



Serene I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ’gainst time or fate
For lo, my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays;
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.
Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark away
Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And gather up its fruits of tears.
The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs from yonder height.
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky,
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high
Can keep my own away from me.
—John Burroughs.


Apollo in his chariot, which is surrounded by female figures, follows Aurora
Guido Reni (1575-1642).
The Aurora.


The palace of the sun is far away in the east. The walls are of silver, the ceilings of carved ivory, and the pillars of gold shining with many jewels.

Phœbus Apollo, in a robe of royal purple, sits upon a golden throne, and the bright rays shining from his golden hair light up the palace and dazzle the eyes. On either hand stand the Day, the Month, the Year, and the rosy Hours, who attend him in his daily course through the heavens.

When his beautiful twin sister, Diana, the queen of the night, has finished her course through the deep blue [63] sky, and all the stars are gone, Aurora, the dawn, opens the silvery eastern bars and shows a path covered with roses. Beautiful, rosy boys hold torches to light up the path, and to tell the people of the earth that the sun god is coming. The agile Hours quickly harness the impatient horses, Apollo mounts his chariot, takes the reins, and away they gallop, delighted with their task.

The wind arises from the sea, and wafts the clouds along; the birds stir in the trees, and begin their sweet morning song; the leaves rustle, and the flowers raise their perfumed heads and say “good morning!” The little children open their eyes with a laugh and shout, for another day of play. All the world is awake to give thanks for the glorious sunlight!


Hark! hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings,
And Phœbus ’gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs
On chaliced flowers that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin
To ope their golden eyes;
With everything that pretty bin
My lady sweet, arise!
Arise, arise!
—William Shakespeare.


Diana, crowned with a crescent moon, in her chariot and carrying bow and arrows
Correggio (1494-1534).
The Moon Goddess.



Diana, the goddess of the moon, is the twin sister of Apollo. She completes her journey around the earth once in a month. Her chariot is of polished silver, and her horses are dark as night. She is a strong and beautiful goddess, with a robe of deepest azure, and a golden crescent in her black hair.

When Apollo sinks in the west, the chariot of Diana appears, and she drives like a queen over the floor of heaven, which is studded with twinkling stars. How lovely is the night! Sometimes we see only a silver crescent, and the rim of the moon. This the children call the baby moon. But night after night the moon shows more and more of her silver face, until she seems like a great ball floating high in air. This we call the full moon. The stars are her maidens, who welcome her coming and attend her on her journey.

In September, the grains are gathered into the barns, and we call the full moon in that month the Harvest Moon.

The October full moon is the Hunter’s Moon, for in that month Diana leads the jolly hunters. Then, according to the old Greeks, she leaves her chariot, sees that her bow and arrows are ready, calls her maidens, and steps forward, strong and free, to the chase.


Fieldworkers return home from work by the light of a full moon
Mason (modern).
The Harvest Moon.


Lady moon, lady moon,
Sailing so high!
Drop down to baby
From out the blue sky:
Babykin, babykin,
Down far below,
I hear thee calling,
But I cannot go.
But lady moon sendeth thee
Soft, shining rays;
Moon loves the baby,
The moonlight says.
In her house dark and blue,
Though she must stay,
Kindly she’ll watch thee
Till dawns the new day.


A dark-haired young woman sits on a crescent moon
F. A. Kaulbach (modern).
Lady Moon.



Diana had seven graceful maidens who hunted the deer with her. One day they saw Orion, a great hunter, coming toward them with his dog and his big club. Orion was a giant, and the maidens feared him and ran away.

Orion called to them not to be afraid, for he wished to hunt with them. But still they fled, and when they were weary and saw that he was overtaking them, they called upon the gods to save them from the mighty hunter. The gods loved them, and listened to their cries. When Orion thought he had at last caught up with them, he saw, not the maidens, but seven snow-white doves flying away under the azure sky.

At night, when the queenly Diana looked down from her chariot, she saw that her attendants had been transformed to doves. As she could not give them their original form, she placed them in the heavens as stars to attend her during the night.

The seven sisters dance in a graceful circle
Elihu Vedder (modern).
The Dance of the Pleiades.

These sister stars we call the group of the Pleiades. For a long time they accompanied their queen in her journey. At last the Trojan war broke out, and they were terrified and covered their faces. The youngest of the sweet sisters was so frightened that she hid behind the others. In some way she became separated [70] from them and lost her way. Now there are only six stars in the constellation called the Pleiades, and the little sister is constantly searching for them.

There is a beautiful statue called “The Lost Pleiad” which shows a lovely young girl borne by the clouds and looking eagerly for her beloved sisters.


Ye snow-white clouds, whose fleecy wings enfold
The stars, that light yon boundless breadth of blue,
Roll back your edges, tinged with deepest gold,
And softly let the peaceful wanderers through;
Till, one by one, they burst upon my eyes,
O’ertaking my young heart with sudden sweet surprise.
How oft, when but a child, in wildest glee,
I’ve climbed the summit of some breezy hill,
Whose mossy sides went sloping to the sea
Where slept another heaven serenely still;
While, from the mighty stronghold of the seas,
The dead send up their dirge upon the twilight breeze.
And there beneath a fringe of dewy leaves,
That drooped away from many a bended bough,
I used to lie on summer’s golden eves,
And gaze about as I am gazing now,
Thinking each lustrous star a heavenly shrine
For an immortal soul, and wondered which was mine.


Sculpture of a young woman looking into the distance, hand shading her eyes
Randolph Rogers (1825-1892).
The Lost Pleiad.
[72] But now the moon, beside yon lonely hill,
Lifts high her cup of paly gold;
And all the planets, following slow and still,
Along the deep their solemn marches hold;
While here and there some meteor’s startling ray
Shoots streaks of arrowy fire far down the Milky Way.
The Milky Way: ah, fair, illumined path,
That leadeth upward to the gate of heaven;
My spirit, soaring from this world of scath,
Is lost with thee among the clouds of even,
And there, upborne on Fancy’s glittering wing,
Floats by the Golden Gate, and hears the angels sing.



Aurora, goddess of the dawn, is the young sister of Diana, the queen of night. It is her duty to open the eastern doors of the palace of the sun, and to strew the path of Apollo, the sun god, with roses. Just before sunrise she appears in the eastern sky, her rosy fingers tinting the misty clouds.

Aurora is goddess of the evening light, as well as of the dawn. Long after the chariot of the sun has disappeared below the horizon, the western clouds are bright with the rosy light of this beauty-loving goddess.

In some countries the twilights are very long, and Aurora seems to linger on the hilltops. She sprinkles refreshing dew upon the thirsty flowers, who have bravely raised their heads to the sun all day. They revive under her gentle care.

At evening, when she is slowly closing the gates of the west, the eyes of the little children grow tired of day and close in welcome sleep. The birds, too, who welcome the fair Aurora with their joyous matin songs, now seek their nests, and their last chirp is heard as the twilight deepens. Then Aurora bars the gates, gives the lantern, or evening star, to Hesperus, and returns to the east for her morning task.


Bas-relief of a female angel who flies dropping flowers, with a cherub who carries a torch
A. B. Thorwaldsen.



A wind came up out of the sea,
And said, “O mists, make room for me.”
It hailed the ships, and cried, “Sail on,
Ye mariners, the night is gone.”
And hurried landward far away
Crying, “Awake! it is the day.”
It said unto the forest, “Shout!
Hang all your leafy banners out!”
It touched the wood bird’s folded wing,
And said, “O bird, awake and sing.”
And o’er the farms, “O chanticleer,
Your clarion blow; the day is near.”
It whispered to the fields of corn,
“Bow down, and hail the coming morn.”
It shouted through the belfry tower,
“Awake, O bell! proclaim the hour.”
It crossed the churchyard with a sigh,
And said, “Not yet! in quiet lie.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


Aurora pauses to smell a flower
J. L. Hamon (1821-1874).



Aurora loves the pretty flowers and often wanders among the gardens watching and caring for the tender blossoms.

One morning she met the handsome youth, Tithonus. Aurora loved Tithonus, and, as he was a mortal, she begged the gods to give him immortal life. Unfortunately, she forgot to ask for him immortal youth, and after a while he began to grow old. Although he still lived in her palace and fed on ambrosia, the food of the gods, he became smaller and smaller, until Aurora was ashamed of him and turned him into a grasshopper.

This is the way you see him to-day—with the face of an old man on the body of a grasshopper.


The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead.
That is the grasshopper’s,—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for, when tired out with fun,
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
[78] On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems, to one in drowsiness half lost,
The grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.
—John Keats.
Bas-relief of an angel flying, carrying two sleeping babies, with an owl following
A. B. Thorwaldsen.



Memnon was the son of Aurora and Tithonus, and was dearly loved by his young and beautiful mother. He became a very brave man. When the Trojan war broke out, he came from the East to help the Trojans. At first he was successful, and he put the Greeks to flight; but when Achilles met him, a great struggle began. Long they fought and bravely; but at last Memnon fell.

Aurora, who had witnessed Memnon’s defeat, told his brothers, the Winds, to bear his body to his home in the far East. There in the evening Aurora came to weep over the body of her son. The Hours, the rosy sister goddesses, joined in her grief, and the shining Pleiades veiled their faces in sorrow.

Aurora still laments the untimely death of her son, and her tears you may find in the early morning as dewdrops upon the bending grass and flowers.


When insect wings are glistening in the beam
Of the low sun, and mountain tops are bright,
Oh! let me by the crystal valley stream,
Wander amid the mild and mellow light;
[80] And while the wood thrush pipes his evening lay,
Give me one lonely hour to hymn the setting day.
O sun! that o’er the western mountains now
Go’st down in glory! ever beautiful
And blesséd is thy radiance, whether thou
Colorest the eastern heaven and night mist cool,
Till the bright day-star vanish, or on high
Climbest and streamest thy white splendors from mid-sky.
Yet, loveliest are thy setting smiles, and fair,
Fairest of all that earth beholds, the hues
That live among the clouds, and flush the air,
Lingering and deepening at the hour of dews.
Then softest gales are breathed, and softest heard
The plaining voice of streams, and pensive note of bird.
—William Cullen Bryant.
People walk home from church in the evening
Leader (modern).
Copyright, 1894, by Photographische Gesellschaft.


Eleven nymphs dance and play music in woodland next to a stream
Kray (modern).
The Dance of the Nymphs.



The Greeks, in their love for nature, believed that all her forms had life and feeling. The mildness of their climate, their out-of-door life, the apparent nearness of sea and sky, the beauty of mountain, tree, flower, and glistening rivulet, made nature dear to them. Their love for the beautiful outside world was nourished, and caused them to look upon all nature as friendly. Their vivid fancy peopled grove and dale with forms that returned human affection.

They liked to believe that every stream had a naiad sporting in its waters, that dryads lived in the graceful trees, and that shrubs and flowers were the outward forms of spirits imprisoned there.

Oreads, or mountain nymphs, wandered over the mountains, and their laughter echoed in the valleys. Nereids and oceanids—water nymphs—sported in the waves of the ocean, and, with the tritons, attended Neptune, god of the deep blue sea.

The sunflower concealed the sea nymph Clytie, and lovely Echo was transformed into a voice. The laurel tree, with its glossy green leaves, was but the nymph Daphne, to whom, when fleeing from Apollo, her father, the river god, gave this form.

Sculpture of the three Graces standing in a circle facing outwards
Germain Pilon (1515-1590).
The Graces.

The sirens lived on an island of the sea. They sang [84] so beautifully that all the sailors who passed that way longed to see the singers, and, coming too near, were wrecked on the rocks which the water concealed.

There were some nymphs and goddesses who were always mentioned together. The Graces were three maidens of charming appearance, who waited upon Venus. No one was so beautiful that the Graces could not add to her charm and loveliness, and they were ever welcome guests in every home.

Spenser says,—

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

The Fates also numbered three. These severe goddesses could reveal the future to men and gods and no one could escape their decrees. Even Jupiter must obey the Fates, daughters of stern necessity. The decrees of the gods and the Fates were generally revealed to men by priestesses called sibyls. These wise women lived in caves. Their prophecies, or oracles, as they were called, were believed in and greatly respected [86] by the Greeks and Romans, who often went to the sibyls for advice and assistance.

The three Fates work at their spinning
Paul Thumann (modern).
The Fates.

The Furies were deities who searched out all wicked people and punished them for their crimes, pursuing them with whips and snakes. The Furies were really friends to man, because they wished him to repent of his guilty deeds, live a better and truer life, and do good and not evil in the world.

The nine Muses, those gracious daughters of Jupiter and Memory, sang their songs and joined in a graceful dance on Mount Parnassus. Apollo, god of poesy and song, was their teacher, and from him they learned how to inspire artists, poets, and musicians with thoughts of harmonies more beautiful than ordinary mortals know.

The Hours attended Apollo, as he drove his flaming chariot through the heavens.

“The rosy Hours, with agile grace, attend
Apollo, when, as god of the sun, he makes
His joyful journey through the heavens.”

Another group of four graceful beings Keats thus describes in his poem, “Endymion,”—

“An ethereal band
Are visible above: The Seasons four,—
Green-kirtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
In Autumn’s sickle, Winter’s frosty hoar.”



See the rivers flowing
Downwards to the sea,
Pouring all their treasures
Bountiful and free:
Yet to help their giving
Hidden springs arise;
Or, if need be, showers
Feed them from the skies!
Watch the princely flowers
Their rich fragrance spread,
Load the air with perfumes,
From their beauty shed:
Yet their lavish spending
Leaves them not in dearth,
With fresh life replenished
By their mother earth!
Give thy heart’s best treasures,—
From fair Nature learn;
Give thy love, and ask not,
Wait not a return!
And the more thou spendest
From thy little store,
With a double bounty
God will give thee more.
—Adelaide Anne Procter.


Apollo's chariot, drawn by four horses, travelling through the clouds
Raphael (1483-1520).
Apollo in his Chariot.


When Apollo’s daily task is done, he removes the dazzling rays from his head and places there the wreath of laurel which he much prefers. Then he goes to Parnassus, the beautiful mountain in Greece, where the Muses dwell. The Muses are nine maidens, the wonderful daughters of Memory, to each of whom Apollo has given some department of music or poetry. All musicians and poets are said to ask Apollo and the Muses for aid and inspiration.

[89] To Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, Homer and Vergil prayed when they sang of war and heroes.

Astronomers appeal to Urania, who presides over the stars—their song makes the music of the spheres; and those who write history must be aided by Clio.

To Thalia and Melpomene are given the realms of comic and tragic poetry.

Erato, who presides over the poems of love, generally accompanies the youngest and gayest of the Muses, Terpsichore. The chief pleasure and delight of Terpsichore is in the graceful movements of the dance. When Euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry, strikes her golden lyre, these three, with their music, song, and dance, create exquisite beauty and harmony, and they are much beloved by their sister Muses and by mortals.

The wisest and most dignified of all the Muses is Polyhymnia, who presides over sacred music. She it is who inspires the hymns of praise to the Almighty Ruler of the world.

Apollo instructs these maidens in the arts of poetry and music, and then they unite in a merry dance; for they are graceful beings and have strong, beautiful bodies. The Greeks believed in the culture of the body,—the temple of the soul,—and so Apollo, god of the sun, of poetry and music, was also their ideal of physical perfection.



Nine sisters, beautiful in form and face,
Came from their convent on the shining heights
Of Pierus, the mountain of delights,
To dwell among the people at its base.
Then seemed the world to change. All time and space,
Splendor of cloudless days and starry nights,
And men and manners, and all sounds and sights,
Had a new meaning, a diviner grace.
Proud were these sisters, but were not too proud
To teach in schools of little country towns
Science and song, and all the arts that please;
So that while housewives span, and farmers plowed,
Their comely daughters, clad in homespun gowns
Learned the sweet songs of the Pierides.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The Muses dance in a circle
Giulio Romano (1492-1546).
Apollo and the Muses.


A cherubic Cupid draws his bow
V. Tojetti (modern).
Cupid with his Bow.



One day Apollo found Cupid, the mischievous little god of love, playing with his arrows, and he said,—“Why are you playing with my arrows? You are only a boy and should not use manly weapons!” Cupid did not like to be called a child, and took from his own quiver two tiny arrows, one tipped with lead, one with gold. The golden arrow he shot into the heart of Apollo; the leaden, into the heart of a young and graceful wood nymph, Daphne.

When Apollo saw Daphne, the golden arrow in his heart made him love her, and he pursued her; but the heavy arrow of dull lead in her heart made her dislike him, and she fled.

Soon Daphne found that she could not run so fast as Apollo, and she called upon her father, the river god, to save her. He heard her cry and changed her into a beautiful laurel tree. When Apollo came up he saw that her body was growing rough with the bark, her slender feet were changing into the roots, and her long wavy hair was turning into the shiny green leaves.

The sun god grieved at this change, but said: “This tree shall be sacred to poets and musicians and artists. I shall wear a wreath of laurel, and all who follow the arts shall be crowned with the laurel wreath.”


A portrait of Daphne, wearing a laurel wreath
Rylands (modern).



When to the flowers so beautiful
The Father gave a name,
Back came a little blue-eyed one,—
All timidly it came.
And standing at the Father’s feet
And gazing on His face,
It said, in meek and timid voice,
Yet with a gentle grace:
“Dear Lord, the name Thou gavest me,
Alas, I have forgot.”
The Father kindly looked on her
And said, “Forget-me-not.”


A young woman holds a bunch of freshly picked forget-me-nots
G. Schrœdter (modern).
Copyright, 1894, by Photographische Gesellschaft.


Bust of a young woman
British Museum.


Clytie was a beautiful sea nymph who lived in a wonderful palace under the sea. Her dress was of pale green sea moss, and she wore ornaments of delicate [97] pink coral in her sunny curls. Her carriage was an exquisite shell of many brilliant hues, which glittered in the sunlight, and gold fish were her strange and beautiful horses.

One day, when she was driving over the surface of the sea, she saw the glorious god Apollo in his golden chariot. Day after day she watched him journey through the deep blue sky, and hoped he would see her. Alas! he never noticed the lonely sea maid, so far below.

At last she left her chariot, and all day long watched him from the shore. When the sun had gone and she started to return to her home under the waves, she could not move. Her feet had become fastened to the soil and her form began to change into the sunflower. Her green dress became the stalk and leaves, and her golden hair changed into the yellow petals.

But the flower still loves the sun. In the morning it looks toward the east and rejoices when the sun appears above the horizon, following his course and slowly turning its face toward the west.

So this flower is the emblem of constancy. Poets often speak of the great love and faithfulness of Clytie, and artists paint her picture or sculpture her form.

In the art galleries may be found a lovely bust of a young girl. The sculptor is unknown, but the bust is supposed to be one of Clytie, for the shoulders seem to rise from the leaves of the sunflower.


A young woman with a bunch and a crown of daisies
A. Cabanel (1823-1889).



There is a flower, a little flower,
With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour,
And weathers every sky.
The prouder beauties of the field
In gay but quick succession shine;
Race after race their honors yield,
They flourish and decline.
But this small flower, to Nature dear,
While moons and stars their courses run,
Enwreathes the circle of the year,
Companion of the sun.
It smiles upon the lap of May,
To sultry August spreads its charm,
Lights pale October on his way,
And twines December’s arm.
The purple heath and golden broom
On moory mountains catch the gale;
O’er lawns the lily sheds perfume,
The violet in the vale.
But this bold floweret climbs the hill,
Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
[100] Plays on the margin of the rill,
Peeps round the fox’s den.
Within the garden’s cultured round
It shares the sweet carnation’s bed;
And blooms on consecrated ground
In honor of the dead.
The lambkin crops its crimson gem;
The wild bee murmurs on its breast;
The blue fly bends its pensile stem
Light o’er the skylark’s nest.
’Tis Flora’s page; in every place,
In every season, fresh and fair,
It opens with perennial grace,
And blossoms everywhere.
On waste and woodland, rock and plain,
Its humble buds unheeded rise:
The rose has but a summer reign;
The daisy never dies!
—James Montgomery.


Sculpture of Niobe shielding one of her children
Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Niobe and Child.



Apollo and Diana are both hunters and carry bows and arrows. One day Niobe, queen of Thebes, boasted that she had more children than Latona, the mother of Apollo and Diana, and that her children were more beautiful.

Latona called upon her children to punish Niobe for her pride, and they shot their arrows at the children of the boasting Niobe. Soon all were slain, although their mother, in her grief, tried to protect those she loved so well. Apollo killed the seven handsome sons, and Diana aimed her arrows at the seven lovely daughters.

Niobe grieved so over the loss of her dear children that she turned into stone, but her tears still continued to flow.

There is a room in a famous gallery in Florence, Italy, called the Niobe room, because here are placed the famous statues of Niobe and her fourteen children, trying, in vain, to escape the fatal arrows of the divine archers.

Some people believe that this story means that the rays of the sun and moon are harmful. But others say that it only shows that Apollo, the sun, battles with Niobe and her children, who are the powers of winter. When his rays have overcome them, Niobe dissolves in tears, and the cold snows melt and disappear.


Sculpture of Diana with a hound
Hamo Thornycroft (modern).
Diana as Huntress.



Lord of the unerring bow,
The God of life and poesy and light—
The sun in human limbs arrayed, and brow
All radiant from his triumph in the fight.
The shaft has just been shot—the arrow bright
With an immortal’s vengeance; in his eye
And nostril, beautiful disdain and might
And majesty flash their full lightnings by,
Developing in that one glance the Deity.
—George Gordon Byron.


Sculpture of Apollo, standing with one arm outstretched
Vatican, Rome.
Apollo Belvedere.



Jupiter, or Jove, as he is sometimes called, king of the gods, lives in high Olympus, a mountain in Greece. All the gods obey him, except the Fates, who are more powerful than the gods.

Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, Diana, Mars, Minerva, Pluto, Ceres, Mercury, Venus, Neptune, and Vesta are the twelve gods whose home is on Mount Olympus. Vulcan prefers his home in Mount Etna, and is generally busy at work there. Pluto, also, is seldom away from his underground home.

In the palace of Jupiter, all the questions in which the gods are interested are discussed and settled. Ceres came hither to ask Jupiter to restore her dear Persephone. Cupid brought Psyche to Olympus after their many trials on earth. Minerva and Neptune had their celebrated contest for the honor of naming Athens, in the presence of these gods.

Juno, the wife of Jupiter, sits at his left. She wears a crown, and holds the royal scepter; for she is queen of gods and men. Peacocks with many-colored feathers draw her chariot, and Iris, with her rainbow wings, is Juno’s messenger.

Jupiter holds the terrible thunderbolts in his powerful right hand, and on his left hand stands the [107] goddess Victory. The eagle, king of birds, is sacred to Jove.

He has dominion over the sky, the earth, and the sea. As the clouds are continually changing their shape, now piling up like great white mountains, now looking like birds or fishes, Jupiter is said to change his form to an eagle, a swan, a cloud, or a shower of gold. He sometimes visits earth in mortal form, to see if men are just and kind. When he finds them cruel or wicked, he punishes them; but he rejoices to find those who are generous, just, and helpful.

Jove carries thunderbolts in his chariot, which is drawn by birds
Jove in his Chariot.



Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?” The vision raised its head,
And, with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel.—Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellowmen.”
The angel wrote and vanished. The next night
It came again, with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,—
And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!
—Leigh Hunt.



Jupiter gave to Neptune, his brother, dominion over the sea. He rides over the placid waves in his chariot, made of shells of many colors, gleaming in the sunlight. If he wishes a storm, he strikes upon the waves with his trident, and calls the winds, and the huge billows threaten the clouds. Tritons with wreathed horns follow his chariot, and naiads as graceful as the waves sport in the opaline waters.

The palaces of the water gods and nymphs are more wonderful than those on earth. Shells, glistening sand, corals, and sea mosses lend beauty of color and form. The music of the waves lulls these beings to sleep. They ride upon a dolphin’s back, or are borne onward by the waves,—free, happy, frolicking water sprites, dashing the spray and diving in graceful play through the deep waves of the sea.

Neptune is strong and calm. He is represented in art as bearing the trident, and surrounded by his attendants and the inhabitants of the sea. There is a celebrated fountain in Rome adorned with a fine statue of Neptune. It is said that a visitor who throws a coin into its waters will return to that famous city.

Sailors used to take offerings to the temples of Neptune, so that he would give them prosperous voyages.


Sculpture of Neptune, carrying a trident, and striding over a male figure
Adam (Louvre, Paris).



King of the stormy sea!
Brother of Jove, and coinheritor
Of elements! Eternally before
Thee the waves awful bow. Fast, stubborn rock,
At thy feared trident shrinking, doth unlock
Its deep foundations, hissing into foam.
All mountain rivers lost, in the wide home
Of thy capacious bosom ever flow.
Thou frownest, and old Æolus, thy foe,
Skulks to his cavern, ’mid the gruff complaint
Of all his rebel tempests. Dark clouds faint
When, from thy diadem, a silver gleam
Slants over blue dominion. Thy bright team
Gulfs in the morning light, and scuds along
To bring thee nearer to that golden song
Apollo singeth, while his chariot
Waits at the doors of heaven. Thou art not
For scenes like this: an empire stern hast thou
And it hath furrowed that large front: yet now,
As newly come of heaven, dost thou sit
To blend and interknit
Subduéd majesty with this glad time.
O shell-born king sublime!
We lay our hearts before thee evermore—
We sing, and we adore!
—John Keats.



Vulcan, the son of Jupiter and Juno, is the blacksmith of the gods. His forges are in the caverns of volcanic mountains, where the fires are bright and ready to heat the gold, silver, and iron, of which he has made many wonderful things.

Vulcan built the magnificent palaces of the gods on Mount Olympus, Juno’s golden throne, and the chariot of Apollo. The delicate girdle of Venus, the wife of Vulcan, was also made in his workshop. This was a magic girdle; for whoever wore it inspired love in all she met, and sometimes the goddesses would beg Venus to lend it to them.

The armor of Mars, god of war, and the shield of Minerva, goddess of wisdom, were the work of Vulcan. Sometimes he even manufactured armor for mortals, and Homer tells us of the marvelous shield he wrought for Achilles, the bravest of the Greeks. The most powerful weapons that Vulcan made at his forges were the dread thunderbolts of Jove and the arrows of mischievous Cupid, the winged god of love.

Vulcan is represented as rather short and thickset, lame in one foot, with a cap on his curly head, and a hammer in his hand. His workmen are the Cyclops, powerful giants, who excel in all work in metals.


A young woman sits on a low branch of a blossom tree
Gamba le Preydour (modern).



Sweet wind, fair wind, where have you been?
“I’ve been sweeping the cobwebs out of the sky;
I’ve been grinding a grist in the mill hard by;
I’ve been laughing at work while others sigh;
Let those laugh who win!”
Sweet rain, soft rain, what are you doing?
“I’m urging the corn to fill out its cells;
I’m helping the lily to fashion its bells;
I’m swelling the torrent and brimming the wells:
Is that worth pursuing?”
Redbreast, redbreast, what have you done?
“I’ve been watching the nest where my fledgelings lie;
I’ve sung them to sleep with a lullaby;
By and by I shall teach them to fly,
Up and away, every one!”
Honeybee, honeybee, where are you going?
“To fill my basket with precious pelf;
To toil for my neighbor as well as myself;
To find out the sweetest flower that grows,
Be it a thistle or be it a rose—
A secret worth the knowing!”
Wind and rain fulfilling His word!
Tell me, was ever a legend heard
Where the wind, commanded to blow, deferred;
Or the rain, that was bidden to fall, demurred?
—Mary N. Prescott.



Venus is the goddess of beauty, born of the ocean spray. When the tritons and nymphs who live in the sea beheld her, they loved her for her beauty, and the waves and gentle breezes bore her to Olympus.

Venus is attended by three maidens called the Graces, who give to the beauty of the goddess a charm which makes her lovely to all.

When she came to Olympus, all the gods loved her, but she proudly rejected the eager suitors. When Jupiter, the king of the gods, fared no better than the rest, he declared that she should be punished for her pride and must marry Vulcan, the lame blacksmith god who lived in the volcano, Mount Etna. Vulcan was delighted with her grace and beauty, and made for her a magic girdle, and the wonderful arrows of Cupid.

Joy and mirth always attend the goddess of beauty. Cupid, her son, the roguish god of love, is her constant companion, and he sends his arrows wherever she directs. Venus drives in a chariot drawn by graceful swans. Cooing doves are her favorite birds, and roses and myrtle are sacred to her.

Sculpture of Venus
Louvre, Paris.
Venus de Milo.

At the wedding of Thetis, a water nymph, all the gods and goddesses except Eris were seated at the banquet. [117] Eris is the goddess of discord, and she had not been invited, as she always causes people to quarrel and so is loved by no one. She was angry at this slight, and, coming to the door of the banquet hall, she threw a golden apple upon the table.

On the apple was written, “To the fairest.” Eris knew that this would be an apple of discord, because all the nymphs and goddesses were fair, and each would claim to be fairer than the others.

After much discussion, the guests agreed that Juno, Minerva, and Venus were fairer than all the others. These three at last decided to go to Paris and let him judge between them. Paris was a shepherd of Mount Ida, in Troy, and before him the lovely trio appeared in all their wonderful beauty. He held the apple long in his hand, for all were so fair that it was very difficult to decide. At last he gave the apple to Venus, and thus decided that she was fairest of all the goddesses.

This decision is called the “Judgment of Paris.”

Artists have often tried to paint their ideals of Venus. The most beautiful statues in the world, ideals of womanly beauty, are those of this goddess. They are in the galleries of the Old World. The one said to be the most lovely is the Venus de Milo, in the gallery of the Louvre, Paris.


Sculpture of a young woman dressed in a simple robe
A Star.



Such a starved bank of moss
Till, that May morn,
Blue ran the flash across:
Violets were born!
Sky—what a scowl of cloud
Till, near and far,
Ray on ray split the shroud:
Splendid, a star!
World—how it walled about
Life with disgrace,
Till God’s own smile came out:
That was thy face!
—Robert Browning.


Psyche sits near the sea, with a butterfly perched on her finger
Kray (modern).



There once lived a maid, called Psyche, who was so very beautiful that the people who knew her thought her more lovely than Venus. So they worshiped her, and refused to place garlands and offerings upon the shrines of the goddess.

Desiring to punish the people for their impiety, Venus sent Cupid to destroy the innocent Psyche. Although Cupid had used his weapons upon others, he himself had never loved. But when he saw Psyche, he started in surprise at her wonderful youthful beauty, and one of his own arrows pricked his heart. So he loved her, and, instead of obeying his mother’s command, he carried her away to his home on a distant mountain.

Here she lived in a palace of gleaming marble, surrounded by gardens wherein were fragrant flowers and sparkling fountains. But one thing troubled her. Cupid had told her that he could visit her only during the night, and so she had never seen his face.

One night Psyche yielded to her curiosity, and held a lamp over him while he slept. Dear Love was so beautiful as he lay there asleep, that she tipped the lamp in her surprise, and a drop of oil fell upon his rounded arm. Then he awoke and blamed Psyche for her curiosity and lack of confidence, and, spreading his [122] wings, flew far away to his home with the gods. Poor Psyche wept bitterly, but Cupid did not return.

Psyche means the soul, and this story teaches that love comes unsought and unseen to the soul which is faithful and worthy; but if doubt and curiosity possess the soul, love departs.

The Greeks chose the butterfly as the best emblem of the soul of man, because it emerges from the chrysalis state into which the caterpillar entered more beautiful than before. Psyche, the soul, is thus shown in the works of art with the wings of a butterfly, or holding one of the exquisite creatures in her hand.


The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.
—Francis Bourdillon.


Charon rows Psyche across the River Styx
E. Neide (modern).
Psyche and Charon.


Poor Psyche wandered far. At last she found Venus, whom she begged to have pity and restore Cupid to her. Venus gave her many tasks to perform. Although Psyche was often very tired, she knew she deserved to work and suffer, because of her lack of faith in Cupid. Finally, Venus sent her down to Hades, where King Pluto and Queen Persephone reign, to bring back a box of beauty ointment.

The way was long and rough and dark. But Psyche persevered, and finally reached the river Styx. She [124] called to the grim boatman, Charon, to row her across. He obeyed, and rowed her over the black river in his dingy boat, and Persephone gave her the box. Psyche was frightened by the terrible cries and the wretched dark faces of the souls in Hades. But she thought only of Love. Then all the monsters ceased to annoy her, and she came safely to earth again.

Alas, when her work was so bravely done, why did she yield to temptation? She thought Love would think more of her if she were fairer, and she opened the box to take just a little of the precious beauty ointment. There was nothing in the box but a bad dream, which immediately seized her, and she fell down in sleep.

Cupid loved and was sorry for Psyche, and he feared that some misfortune had befallen her; so he spread his wings and flew in search of the soul he loved. He soon found her asleep by the roadside. He awoke her, and together they went to Olympus, where Venus forgave them, and permitted them to be married.

Now Love and the Soul belong together, and although the way is dark and lonely and difficult, you must believe that

“Love leads the soul to its perfection.”



Of all the myriad moods of mind
That through the soul come thronging
Which one was e’er so dear, so kind,
So beautiful as Longing?
The thing we long for, that we are
For one transcendent moment,
Before the Present poor and bare
Can make its sneering comment.
Still, through our paltry stir and strife,
Glows down the wished Ideal,
And Longing molds in clay what Life
Carves in the marble Real:
To let the new life in, we know,
Desire must ope the portal;
Perhaps the longing to be so
Helps make the soul immortal.
Ah! let us hope that to our praise
Good God not only reckons
The moments when we tread His ways,
But when the spirit beckons,
That some slight good is also wrought
Beyond self-satisfaction,
When we are simply good in thought,
Howe’er we fail in action.
—James Russell Lowell.


A cherubic Cupid kisses a young Psyche on the cheek
W. A. Bouguereau (modern).
Cupid and Psyche.



In the old Roman days, the people, in the month of February, had a great feast, when they purified their homes and made sacrifices to the gods. After this, the young people had games, and one of them was like that of our valentine box. In this box were placed the names of maidens. The young men drew out the names, and each must be a true and loyal knight, for the following year, to the young woman whose name he drew.

The name “valentine” comes from a kind Christian monk, who was the friend of youth. We send valentines to those we love, and you know there are emblems of love and fidelity upon these pretty gifts. Here are the cooing doves, the graceful swan, the rose, and the myrtle—all sacred to Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Cupid, her mischievous son, has his bow and quiver filled with arrows with which to pierce the hearts of the young. Here is the butterfly, the emblem of Psyche, the Soul, whom Love chose to be his wife.

From the story of Cupid and Psyche we learn how love ennobles the soul, purifying it of doubt, and raising it to perfect faith. For this reason, we may well celebrate the day of kind St. Valentine, by sending words of love and gifts of affection to our friends, in the form of dainty valentines.



In the dark silence of her chamber low
March works sweeter things than mortals know.
Her noiseless looms ply on with busy care,
Weaving the fine cloth that the flowers wear;
She sews the seams in violet’s queer hood,
And paints the sweet arbutus of the wood.
Out of a bit of sky’s delicious blue
She fashions hyacinths, and harebells too;
And from a sunbeam makes a cowslip fair,
Or spins a gown for a daffodil to wear.
She pulls the cover from the crocus beds
And bids the sleepers lift their drowsy heads.
“Come, early risers; come, anemone,
My pale windflower, awake, awake,” calls she.
“The world expects you, and your lovers wait
To give you welcome at Spring’s open gate.”
She marshals the close armies of the grass,
And polishes their green blades as they pass
And all the blossoms of the fruit trees sweet
Are piled in rosy shells about her feet.
Within her great alembic she distills
The dainty odor which each flower fills.
Nor does she ever give to mignonette
The perfume that belongs to violet.
Nature does well whatever task she tries
Because obedient,—there the secret lies.
—May Riley Smith.



Phaëthon was the son of Apollo. One day he approached the palace of his father and begged a favor. Apollo was pleased with his youthful grace and beauty, and promised to grant his desire. Phaëthon then boldly asked the great god of the sun for permission to drive his horses for a single day.

Then did Apollo regret his hasty promise, and beg Phaëthon to ask anything but that—because it is so dangerous to drive those fiery steeds.

“You know not what you ask, my son, I am the only one who can drive the chariot of the sun safely through the heavens. Even Jupiter himself would not attempt so dangerous a task.”

But Phaëthon was bold and proud, and finally Apollo yielded. The horses were harnessed, the gates unbarred, Phaëthon seized the reins, and away they flew! The horses knew that a weak hand held them, but they were going uphill and kept well in the course. So Phaëthon grew careless, and when the zenith was reached the horses paid no heed to his guidance.

Exulting in their freedom from Apollo’s masterful hand, they galloped far from the path, now on this side, now on that.

Phaethon struggles to rein in the four horses pulling the chariot
Max F. Klepper (modern).
Phaëthon driving Apollo’s Chariot.

Sometimes they came so near the earth that the leaves [130] and grass withered, the crops were all destroyed, and the streams disappeared. Then they turned so far away that snow fell, and the people shivered and suffered from the cold.

All the people on earth were afraid, and even the gods on high Olympus wondered what was amiss with Apollo, that his horses were so unruly.

Finally Jupiter looked over the heavens, and, seeing the reckless Phaëthon, hurled a thunderbolt at him, and he fell headlong into the river Po.

Hither every day came his sisters, the Heliades, wringing their hands and weeping for their beloved brother. At length the gods changed them into poplar trees, and their tears into amber.

Phaëthon’s dearest friend, Cygnus, was continually plunging into the river, hoping to find the body of the rash youth, and he was changed into a swan. This bird now sails mournfully upon the waters, frequently dipping his head below the surface, as if still searching for his friend Phaëthon.


Wings that flutter in sunny air;
Wings that dive and dip and dare;
Wings of the humming bird flashing by;
Wings of the lark in the purple sky;
[132] Wings of the eagle aloft, aloof;
Wings of the pigeon upon the roof;
Wings of the storm bird swift and free,
With wild winds sweeping across the sea:
Often and often a voice in me sings,—
O, for the freedom, the freedom of wings!
O, to winnow the air with wings;
O, to float far above hurtful things—
Things that weary and wear and fret;
Deep in the azure to fly and forget;
To touch in a moment the mountain’s crest,
Or haste to the valley for home and rest;
To rock with the pine tree as wild birds may;
To follow the sailor a summer’s day:
Over and over a voice in me sings,—
O, for the freedom, the freedom of wings!
Softly responsive a voice in me sings,—
Thou hast the freedom, the freedom of wings;
Soon as the glass a second can count,
Into the heavens thy heart may mount;
Hope may fly to the topmost peak;
Love its nest in the vale may seek;
Outspeeding the sailor, Faith’s pinions may
Touch the ends of the earth in a summer’s day.
Softly responsive a voice in me sings,—
Thou hast the freedom, the freedom of wings.
—Mary F. Butts.


Sculpture of Mercury, balancing on one foot
National Museum, Florence.
Winged Mercury.


Mercury seated in his chariot, which is drawn by two cockerels
Raphael (Rome).
Mercury in his Chariot.


Mercury, or Hermes, is a very interesting god. He is the messenger of Jupiter, and has wings on his cap and sandals. He flies swifter than the wind and wears a cloak which makes him invisible. As the wind carries things away, Mercury is sometimes called the captain of thieves, and he likes to play tricks.

While walking along a river bank one day, he carelessly hit a tortoise shell, and it gave forth a musical sound. Mercury at once fashioned it into a lyre. This [135] musical instrument he gave to his brother Apollo, who was so delighted with it that he gave Mercury a wonderful wand called the caduceus. When animals or people quarrel, this wand will make them friends again. One day Mercury threw it upon the ground where two snakes were fighting, and at once they twined lovingly about it, and Mercury kept them there as an emblem of the power of the wand.

The caduceus represents the gift of language; for when men quarrel and are angry, if they use this wand and talk with each other, their differences will soon disappear and they will become friends.

You will recognize the statues of Mercury by his caduceus and by his winged cap and sandals. He is sometimes represented as standing upon a tongue; for he gave to man the gift of speech, and is the god of eloquence. Mercury is also the god of commerce; for if men could not speak and converse with one another, there would be no commerce in the world.


There lay upon the ocean’s shore
What once a tortoise served to cover.
A year and more, with rush and roar,
The surf had rolled it over,
Had played with it and flung it by,
As wind and weather might decide it,
[136] Then tossed it high where sand drifts dry
Cheap burial might provide it.
It rested there to bleach or tan,
The rains had soaked, the suns had burned it;
With many a ban the fisherman
Had stumbled o’er and spurned it;
And there the fisher girl would stay,
Conjecturing with her brother
How in their play the poor estray
Might serve some use or other.
So there it lay, through wet and dry,
As empty as the last new sonnet,
Till by and by came Mercury,
And, having mused upon it,
“Why, here,” cried he, “the thing of things
In shape, material, and dimensions!
Give it but strings, and lo, it sings,
A wonderful invention!”
So said, so done; the chords he strained,
And, as his fingers o’er them hovered,
The shell disdained a soul had gained,
The lyre had been discovered.
O empty world that round us lies,
Dead shell, of soul and thought forsaken,
Brought we but eyes like Mercury’s,
In thee what songs should waken!
—James Russell Lowell.


A small sailing boat in rough seas near a lighthouse
Le Sénéschal (modern).
Carbon by Braun, Clement & Co.
Storm King.


All nature is musical. If you will listen, you can hear the leaves singing sweet songs, and the reeds along the river banks join in with their voices. The brooks and the rivers sing and laugh; they are so happy shining in the golden sun, or hiding in the cool shade.

The fairies have the flowers for their musical bells, and the grasses sing softly to the dear mother earth. But the sweetest songs are the carols of the merry birds, and the songs of happy children.

The winds are often noisy, but sometimes they seem to sing a musical song. Some instruments in the [138] orchestra, the flute and the horn, are called wind instruments. There is a simple stringed instrument, called the æolian harp. When the winds blow upon its sensitive, delicate strings, musical sounds are heard, and we say that Æolus, king of the winds, is playing upon his harp.

Long ago, the Lipari Islands, off the coast of Italy, were called the Æolian Islands. Here in a rocky cave lived Æolus and the winds, who were the children of Aurora and Æolus. All the winds were noisy and fond of strife except Zephyrus, the youngest. Æolus kept them fastened in the rocky cave, generally letting out but one at a time. They were always rushing to the iron doors, quarreling and fighting among themselves, and begging Æolus to let them out of the narrow cave.

Whenever one of the gods wished a storm at sea, he would ask Æolus to release his sons; they would rush out of the cave, sweeping over the seas in a whirlwind, raising the waves mountain high. Then the ships were in great danger from wave and rock, as the winds rolled the billows over the ships, or drove the vessels against the sharp cliffs.

Vergil, the great Latin poet, thus describes a storm raised by Æolus, at the request of Juno,—

“Æolus thus in reply: ‘It is yours, O queen, to determine
What you may wish to accomplish; to do your command is my duty;
[139] You have procured me my place, my scepter, and Jupiter’s favor;
You, too, the privilege grant to recline with the gods at their banquet;
Over the tempest and storm, it is you who have made me the ruler.’
Turning, he struck with his spear the side of the cavernous mountain,
And, as in martial array, wherever an egress is granted,
Eagerly pour forth the winds, and sweep o’er the earth in a whirlwind;
Now on the sea have they fallen, and stirred to its deepest foundations;
Eastward and southward together, and blasts of the gusty southwest wind
Lash it all into a fury, and roll to the shore the vast billows.
Now come the cries of the men, and the shrieks of the wind through the rigging;
Then on a sudden collecting, the clouds, from the sight of the Trojans
Shut out the sky and the day, o’er the sea broods the darkness of midnight;
Thunder resounds through the sky, the air seems ablaze with the lightning;
Everything seems to portend immediate death to the heroes.”



The famous Trojan war lasted ten years. After the Greeks had captured the city, they were anxious to return to their homes in Greece. One of the heroes, the wise Ulysses, had many strange adventures on his way home from Troy. At last he and his men came in their ship to Æolia, the home of the winds, where they were welcomed and entertained by Æolus.

Æolus was so pleased with his guests that, when the time came for Ulysses to continue his journey, the god gave him a bag with all the dangerous winds shut up within it. Only one wind was not inclosed in the bag—Zephyrus, the gentle south wind, which filled the sails and bore him on his journey.

After eight days, Ulysses came in sight of Ithaca, the home he had so long desired to see. He had not slept since leaving Æolia. Now, within sight of his home, he believed that he and his ship were safe, and he yielded to his desire for rest. The sailors were very glad to see him sleep, for they wanted to know what Ulysses had in the bag he so carefully guarded. They thought it was filled with gold and precious stones.

Alas! when the avaricious sailors opened the bag, the winds rushed out in fury and drove them far from their homes. At last they were again cast upon the shores of the Æolian Islands.



This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl!
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
[142] Than ever Triton blew from wreathéd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
—Oliver Wendell Holmes.
An octagonal tower with panels depicting the winds at the top
Tower of the Winds.


In Athens is a temple called the Tower of the Winds. There the people came to offer sacrifices to the winds, and to hold games in their honor. The Athenians felt that the winds had great power, and therefore they built this beautiful tower. The tower has eight sides, and on each side is sculptured a representation of one of the winds.

All of the winds are shown with wings, and in a flying posture. Boreas, Aquilo, and Corus are the destructive winds, and are terrible in appearance. Boreas, the north wind, is the father of storms at sea, and carries a triton’s horn. Aquilo, the northeast wind, is showering [144] hailstones, and Corus, the dry and parching northwest wind, has in his hand a vessel of charcoal.

The east wind, which in Greece is a pleasant wind, is carrying fruit and flowers. The rainy southeast wind, Eurus, is forming rain clouds; while Notus, the south wind, who brings the sudden storms of rain, is pouring rain from a jar. The southwest wind carries an ornament which was always placed at the stern of every ancient ship, for it was an important wind to the sailors of Greece. Zephyrus, the welcome west wind, has a lap filled with spring flowers.

The gentle Zephyrus married Flora, goddess of the springtime. Together they wander joyously over all lands, bringing happiness to the people. The south wind wakes the flowers, and as Zephyrus and Flora pass, violets, pansies, daffodils, and roses lift their pretty heads, and fill the land with beauty and fragrance.

Portrait of two young women
Saintpierre (modern).
Carbon by Braun, Clement & Co.
Zephyrus and Flora.



The Indians tell the story that once Mudjekeewis, a mighty hunter, killed the great bear of the mountains. Mudjekeewis found the bear asleep, and after stealthily taking off the belt of wampum which the bear wore, he smote him in the middle of his forehead and stunned him. They fought, and Mudjekeewis conquered.

When he returned home, he told of his victory, and showed the magic belt. The Indians praised him for his bravery, and said,—“Mudjekeewis shall rule over the winds of heaven. He shall be king of the winds, and shall be called Kabeyun, the West-Wind.”

Mudjekeewis has three sons—Wabun, Shawondasee, and Kabibonokka. To Wabun, young and beautiful, he gave the east wind; to Shawondasee the south wind, and the north wind to the fierce Kabibonokka.

Longfellow thus tells the story in “Hiawatha,”—

“‘Honor be to Mudjekeewis!’
With a shout proclaimed the people,
‘Honor be to Mudjekeewis!
Henceforth he shall be the West-Wind,
And hereafter and forever
Shall he hold supreme dominion
Over all the winds of heaven.
Call him no more Mudjekeewis,
Call him Kabeyun, the West-Wind!’
[146] “Thus was Mudjekeewis chosen
Father of the Winds of Heaven.
For himself he kept the West-Wind,
Gave the others to his children;
Unto Wabun gave the East-Wind,
Gave the South to Shawondasee,
And the North-Wind, wild and cruel,
To the fierce Kabibonokka.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


Wabun was the son of Mudjekeewis. He was young and beautiful. When he came from the east in the morning, his breath was fresh with the perfume of flowers, and he painted the sky with streaks of crimson and gold. He woke the deer and called the hunters, and chased the dark over hill and valley.

But Wabun was lonely in the sky, and, although the birds sang to him and the rivers and the forests shouted at his coming, he longed for a friend to be with him always.

One day, when a fog lay on the river, he looked toward the earth and saw a slender maiden walking all alone upon the meadow. She was gathering water flags and bulrushes, which grew along the margin of the river. Her eyes were as blue as two blue lakes.

[147] Wabun loved the graceful maiden, for she was alone on the earth as he was alone in the heavens. So he drew her to his bosom, and changed her into a beautiful star.

They are still found together in the eastern sky, Wabun and the Wabun-Annung, the east wind and the morning star.

“Young and beautiful was Wabun;
He it was who brought the morning,
He it was whose silver arrows
Chased the dark o’er hill and valley;
He it was whose cheeks were painted
With the brightest streaks of crimson,
And whose voice awoke the village,
Called the deer, and called the hunter.
“Lonely in the sky was Wabun;
Though the birds sang gaily to him,
Though the wild flowers of the meadow
Filled the air with odors for him,
Though the forests and the rivers
Sang and shouted at his coming,
Still his heart was sad within him,
For he was alone in heaven.
“But one morning, gazing earthward
While the village still was sleeping,
And the fog lay on the river,
Like a ghost, that goes at sunrise,
[148] He beheld a maiden walking
All alone upon a meadow,
Gathering water flags and rushes
By a river in the meadow.
“Every morning, gazing earthward,
Still the first thing he beheld there
Was her blue eyes looking at him,
Two blue lakes among the rushes.
And he loved the lonely maiden,
Who thus waited for his coming;
For they both were solitary,
She on earth, and he in heaven.
“And he wooed her with caresses,
Wooed her with his smile of sunshine,
With his flattering words he wooed her,
With his sighing and his singing.
Gentlest whispers in the branches,
Softest music, sweetest odors,
Till he drew her to his bosom
Folded in his robes of crimson,
Till into a star he changed her,
Trembling still upon his bosom;
And forever in the heavens
They are seen together walking
Wabun and the Wabun-Annung,
Wabun and the Star of Morning.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.



Shawondasee, fat and lazy, rules the south wind. He lives in the warm and pleasant south land, the land of perpetual summer. He sends us the beautiful Indian summer in November, the month of snowshoes, that we may not forget him during the long, cold winter.

“From his pipe the smoke ascending
Filled the sky with haze and vapor,
Filled the air with dreamy softness,
Gave a twinkle to the water,
Touched the rugged hills with smoothness,
Brought the tender Indian Summer
To the melancholy north-land,
In the dreary moon of Snow-shoes.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Once Shawondasee thought he saw a maiden with golden tresses standing far away in the meadow. He loved her, but was too lazy to bestir himself to woo her. After watching her for some time, and always loving her, alas! her golden hair changed to white floss and was blown about the prairie.

Shawondasee was sad, and he thought that his brother Kabibonokka had turned her hair from gold to white. But it was no maiden he had seen. It was only the prairie dandelion.



Gay little Dandelion
Lights up the meads,
Swings on her slender foot,
Telleth her beads;
Lists to the robin’s note
Poured from above:
Wise little Dandelion
Asks not for love.
Cold lie the daisy banks
Clothed but in green,
Where in the days agone
Bright hues were seen.
Wild pinks are slumbering;
Violets delay:
True little Dandelion
Greeteth the May.
Brave little Dandelion;
Fast falls the snow,
Bending the daffodil’s
Haughty head low.
Under that fleecy tent,
Careless of cold,
Blithe little Dandelion
Counteth her gold.
[151] Meek little Dandelion
Groweth more fair,
Till dies the amber dew
Out from her hair.
High rides the thirsty sun,
Fiercely and high;
Faint little Dandelion
Closeth her eye.
Pale little Dandelion,
In her white shroud,
Heareth the angel breeze
Call from the cloud.
Tiny plumes fluttering
Make no delay;
Little winged Dandelion
Soareth away.
—Helen B. Bostwick.


To the fierce Kabibonokka, Mudjekeewis gave the cold and cruel north wind. He lives far away toward the north in the regions of ice and snow. In the autumn and winter he comes out from his home, and travels toward the south.

He stamps upon the rivers, and the waters freeze. Frost pictures appear upon the windowpanes, the birds fly southward, and no one remains in the kingdom of the north wind but the Diver. This brave Diver cares [152] not for the cold or for the stormy north wind. He sits in his wigwam, merry and warm; for he has four great logs for his fire, and each log will last a month. Kabibonokka enters the wigwam, but cannot stand the heat, and so taunts the Diver and dares him to a combat in the open air. Long they fight; but at length the Diver conquers, and the cold and fierce Kabibonokka is driven back into his kingdom of the north.

The Diver is the glorious sun, who, with his warm golden beams, beats back the cold, and brings the pleasant summer with the birds and flowers.

“But the fierce Kabibonokka
Had his dwelling among icebergs,
In the everlasting snowdrifts,
In the kingdom of Wabasso,
In the land of the White Rabbit.
He it was whose hand in Autumn
Painted all the trees with scarlet,
Stained the leaves with red and yellow;
He it was who sent the snowflakes,
Sifting, hissing, through the forest,
Froze the ponds, the lakes, the rivers,
Drove the loon and sea gull southward,
Drove the cormorant and curlew
To their nests of sedge and sea tang
In the realms of Shawondasee.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.



Which is the wind that brings the cold?
The north wind, Freddy, and all the snow;
And the sheep will scamper into the fold
When the north begins to blow.
Which is the wind that brings the heat?
The south wind, Katy; and corn will grow,
And peaches redden for you to eat,
When the south begins to blow.
Which is the wind that brings the rain?
The east wind, Arty; and farmers know
That cows come shivering up the lane,
When the east begins to blow.
Which is the wind that brings the flowers?
The west wind, Bessy; and soft and low
The birdies sing in the summer hours,
When the west begins to blow.
—Edmund Clarence Stedman.


Iris flying, carrying a pitcher aloft
Guy Head (Rome).



The Greeks lived much in the open air, and they loved to watch the fleecy clouds float lazily across the blue heavens, or at night to see the bright, golden stars shine down upon them like friendly eyes. They believed that Juno was goddess of the heavens when they were calm and peaceful, as Jupiter was god of the storm cloud and of the thunderbolt.

Whenever they saw the radiant rainbow, they said, “There is the glowing Iris, the messenger of Juno, carrying some message from the sky to the earth.” They thought that Iris had shining wings of various colors, and that while she stayed upon earth, you could see her path in the heavens marked by the many-colored rainbow.


My heart looks up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky.
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
—William Wordsworth.



The Indians had a lovely thought about the rainbow,—perhaps more beautiful than the belief of the Greeks.

You know how sweet and beautiful the flowers are, how we love the roses, the lilies, the pansies, and the golden-rod, and how sorry we are to have them leave us when the cold winds blow.

The Indians also loved the flowers; and they fancied, when they saw such lovely colors in the rainbow which spans the heavens, that all the wild flowers—the lilies, the buttercups, and windflowers, the dainty violets and the moss of the woods—were still living and blossoming in the heavens.

Our poet Longfellow has told us about this myth in his “Song of Hiawatha.” The little Hiawatha

“Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
Whispered, ‘What is that, Nokomis?’
And the good Nokomis answered:
‘’Tis the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the prairie,
When on earth they fade and perish,
Blossom in that heaven above us.’”

In the Old Testament we are told that many, many years ago there was a great flood. It had rained for forty [157] days and forty nights, when suddenly the rain ceased, and a beautiful rainbow was seen by the people on the earth. How glad they were to see it! For they knew it was God’s promise not to send another flood, and they were happy in this thought.

“And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant.”


Two little clouds one summer’s day
Went flying through the sky.
They went so fast they bumped their heads,
And both began to cry.
Old Father Sun looked out and said,
“O, never mind, my dears,
I’ll send my little fairy folk
To dry your falling tears.”
One fairy came in violet,
And one in indigo,
In blue, green, yellow, orange, red,—
They made a pretty row.
They wiped the cloud tears all away,
And then, from out the sky,
Upon a line the sunbeams made
They hung their gowns to dry.
—Lizzie M. Hadley.



Narcissus was a vain youth, and loved no one but himself. One day, while looking into a quiet stream, he thought he saw a lovely naiad in the water gazing up at him.

He smiled upon her, and she also smiled. Day after day he came to the bank and begged the lovely naiad to come out of the water, and roam with him through the flowery meadows of earth. Every day he believed she would come; for she seemed to smile upon him and welcome him, even as he spoke and smiled upon her.

Some days, when the waters were dark and ruffled by the wind, he could not see her blue eyes and golden ringlets, and he thought she was vexed with him.

He never knew it was his own face he saw reflected in the water, and at last, after weary watching and waiting, he pined away and died. Echo and all the nymphs of the stream and of the grove mourned for him. He was beautiful even in death, for the gods had changed him into a flower. His pale face and golden hair were changed into the delicate narcissus, which delights us with its graceful form and rare fragrance.

The narcissus grows upon the margin of streams, and, bending over the waters, seems to admire its image mirrored there.


A brook runs beneath an overhanging tree
The Brook.


I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
[160] I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.
I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling.
And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery water break
Above the golden gravel,
And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots,
That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.
And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
—Alfred Tennyson.



Diana had many young and lovely nymphs, who attended her in her rambles over the wooded hills. Among these maids was Echo, a very graceful and merry nymph of the mountain. Echo had one serious fault, however. She was too fond of talking, and was always anxious to say the last word.

One day she angered Juno, with whom she was talking, and the goddess punished her severely. She said,—“Echo, this shall be your punishment for trying to deceive me. You may still have the last word as you are so fond of it, but never the first. You shall not have the power to begin the conversation; you may only reply.”

Soon after this Echo met Narcissus, a handsome youth who was hunting upon the mountain. She admired his grace and skill in the hunt and wished very much to join in the chase. But she could not speak to him, and when he called to his companions she could only repeat the last words. Narcissus did not care to please the nymph, and so refused to speak with her or to allow her to join in the hunt.

Echo calls out across the hills. Painting signed Edouard Bisson, 1892
Copyright, 1893, by Photographische Gesellschaft.

After Narcissus left the mountain, Echo sought a lonely cave amid the rocks; and she grieved so over her punishment, that she pined away until nothing was left [163] of the lovely nymph but her voice. Sometimes, in the lonely mountain paths, if you call, you will hear Echo repeating your words softly from a distance. But you will never see her; she is nothing but a voice.


Blue! ’Tis the life of heaven,—the domain
Of Cynthia,—the wide palace of the sun,—
The tent of Hesperus, and all his train,—
The bosomer of clouds, gold, gray, and dun.
Blue! ’Tis the life of waters—ocean
And all its vassal streams; pools numberless
May range, and foam, and fret, but never can
Subside, if not to dark-blue nativeness.
Blue! Gentle cousin of the forest green,
Married to green in all the sweetest flowers—
Forget-me-not, the bluebell, and that queen
Of secrecy, the violet: what strange powers
Hast thou, as a mere shadow! But how great
When in an eye thou art alive with fate!
—John Keats.


The Parthenon viewed from the front. Drawing signed Guipon
The Parthenon.


The wonderful goddess Minerva is said to have come full-grown from the brain of her father, Jupiter, king of the gods. She is tall, and clad in full armor. Her name Minerva means “mind.” She is called the goddess of wisdom, and she took the throne which the stupid goddess Dullness had held before. Unlike Mars, Minerva does not love war, but she is very brave when compelled to fight.

A city in Greece was to be named, and Neptune and Minerva contended for the honor. The gods decided [165] that the one who produced the article most valuable to man should name the city.

Neptune struck the ground with his trident, and there sprang forth a horse, strong and noble. All admired Neptune’s gift, and did not believe that Minerva could surpass him.

When Minerva produced the olive tree, they laughed, and all thought that Neptune had won. But the goddess told them that the olive tree could furnish wood for fire, for building houses, and for making many useful articles; that food and oil could be obtained from it; and that even clothing could be made from its fiber.

The gods then said that, while men could live without horses, they could not live without food, warmth, and shelter, and Minerva had the honor of naming the city.

Minerva was called Pallas Athene by the Greeks, and so the city in Greece was named Athens. In this city was erected a beautiful temple in her honor, called the Parthenon. Its ruins are still standing.

In this temple was a magnificent statue of Minerva, made by the great sculptor Phidias. It was of ivory and gold. The goddess wears a long cloak and a helmet, and carries a shield and spear. At her feet is coiled a serpent, the emblem of wisdom. Minerva has clear blue eyes, is always calm and dignified, and helps all those who wish to excel in wisdom, or to obtain skill in the arts of peace.



Arachne was a young girl who was famous for her skill in embroidery and weaving. All the women of Greece knew that she excelled in this feminine work, and they liked to see her with her loom or needle. Even the nymphs, who love to sport about the fountains and in the groves, would leave their play to watch her.

It was pleasant to see her deftly separate the wool, and card it until it was soft and fleecy as down. Then dexterously twirling the spindle, she wove the web so quickly and easily that one watched her fingers with delight. Under her skillful touch, the trees in her tapestry seemed to bend before the gentle breeze, and the flowers were so perfect that they were as beautiful as those growing in the gardens.

“Minerva, the goddess of weaving, must be her teacher,” said all who saw her wonderful work.

But this did not please Arachne, who was vain and proud. “I am my own teacher,” she said, with a saucy toss of her pretty head, “and Minerva herself cannot compete with me.”

This proud boast Minerva heard. The gods do not like such boasting, and Minerva determined to correct her or to punish her. She changed her form, and appeared before Arachne as a wise old woman.


Minerva, carrying a spear and accompanied by a snake
Vatican, Rome.

[168] “My child,” she said, “do not challenge a goddess. Your work is beautiful and deserves praise, but Minerva’s skill is that of a goddess. You are a mortal, and you should ask forgiveness of Minerva for your rash speech.”

Arachne was angry at these wise words, and replied: “I do not wish your advice. I do not fear the goddess, and do not ask her forgiveness. If she is not afraid, let her come, and we will compare our work.”

Lo! as she spoke, Minerva dropped her disguise, and stood revealed—a goddess. All around were amazed, and trembled before the glorious Minerva, except the angry Arachne.

Her friends tried to influence her to give up the contest, and to ask Minerva to forgive her irreverent words. But Arachne still thought she could excel the goddess in weaving, and, as Minerva said no more, the contest began.

Each took her place. Wools of different dyes were given them. Both worked with speed, and the slender shuttle seemed to fly under their fingers.

Arachne showed Leda and the swan, and Europa and the bull, with such fidelity to nature that they seemed to move and breathe. But the goddess showed her contest with Neptune. Twelve of the great gods were represented. Neptune with his trident had just produced the horse, that animal so strong and so useful to man. [169] Minerva stood with her helmet and shield, showing her gift to man—the olive tree.

All the beholders saw that Minerva had surpassed Arachne, and felt that the proud girl must be punished for her pride and impiety. Minerva, more in pity than in anger, touched Arachne’s forehead and said, “Live, guilty woman, and thus shall you preserve the memory of this lesson to all future times.”

Speaking thus, the goddess changed the hapless Arachne into a spider. If you look at a spider’s web, you will see that the descendants of Arachne still show great patience and skill, and spin wonderful webs.


She made the story of the old debate
Which she with Neptune did for Athens try:
Twelve gods do sit around in royal state,
And Jove in midst with awful majesty,
To judge the strife between them stirréd late;
Each of the gods, by his like visnomy
Is to be known, but Jove above them all,
By his great looks and power imperial.
Before them stands the god of seas in place,
Claiming that seacoast city as his right;
And strikes the rocks with his three-forkéd mace;
Whenceforth issues a warlike steed in sight,
[170] The sign by which he challengeth the place;
That all the gods, which saw his wondrous might,
Did surely deem the victory his due;
But seldom seen, forejudgment proveth true.
Then to herself she gives her Ægide shield,
And steel-head spear, and morion on her head
Such as she oft is seen in warlike field:
Then sets she forth, how with her weapon dread
She smote the ground, the which straightforth did yield
A fruitful olive tree, with berries spread,
That all the gods admired: then, all the story
She compassed with a wreath of olives hoary.
Amongst these leaves she made a butterfly,
With excellent device and wondrous slight,
Flutt’ring among the olives wantonly,
That seemed to live, so like it was in sight:
The velvet nap which on his wings doth lie,
The silken down with which his back is dight,
His broad outstretchéd horns, his hairy thighs,
His glorious colors, and his glistening eyes.
—Edmund Spenser.


Bas-relief showing Minerva with a young boy and a bearded man
A. B. Thorwaldsen.
Minerva, Prometheus, and Man.


The gods told the wise Prometheus to bestow gifts upon all the animals of the earth, according to their need. So to the deer he gave swiftness; to the lion, courage; to the horse, strength; to the eagle, strong [172] pinions; to the ox, patience; to the dog, keenness of scent; and to the nightingale, a melodious voice.

After the animals had all received special gifts, the gods told Prometheus to make man to rule over them. Prometheus made man after the image of the gods, but smaller and weaker, and Minerva gave to him mind and soul. Prometheus loved the man he had made, but as he had already bestowed all the gifts he had upon the animals, for a long time he could not think of a way in which to give man power over them. At last he decided that he must obtain for man the gift of fire.

But how could he get this wonderful element? He knew that Jupiter would never grant it; for fire belonged to Apollo, the god of the sun, and punishment would be inflicted upon any one who attempted to obtain it by stealth or by force. Yet his love for man prevailed over his fear and by night he approached the chariot wheels of the sun and stole some fire, bringing it to earth in a hollow tube. With this power, man conquers the cold, makes the minerals plastic, forces his way through mountains, and crosses deep seas.

When Jupiter discovered that Prometheus had bestowed this great gift on man, he punished him very severely; but Prometheus endured the punishment bravely, conscious that man would always profit by his daring. Prometheus has always been called the friend of man, and many poets have written in his honor.



Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear tree in the hedge
Leans to the field, and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
That first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
Far brighter than this gaudy melon flower!
—Robert Browning.



Adonis was a youth of wonderful beauty. Tall and lithe and graceful, he seemed like a young god, although he was but a mortal. He was fond of hunting, and day after day found him roaming over the hills and through the forests with his bow and arrows. His step was light and bounding, and he seemed to belong to the life of the hills as much as the trees and flowers.

Tired with the hunt, he would throw himself upon the leafy turf and look up through the great branches of the trees to the azure skies.

It seemed to him that he could understand what the leaves were saying, as they rustled in the breeze. The clouds made him think of white-sailed boats floating on a blue sea, and he wished that he could sail with them to the home of the god of the golden sun. The grass seemed to whisper to him and tell him the secrets of the earth mother, and the streams leaping down the mountain sides seemed to laugh joyously and to call upon him to follow.

Adonis did not care for city life; the woods held all of beauty for him. And he was not at all surprised, one day, when he saw Venus coming towards him, her beauty radiant in the sunlight. She seemed to him to be at home in the woods he loved so well.

[175] Venus loved Adonis, and they went hunting together. Adonis was bold, and wished to chase the larger game; but Venus warned him against the fierce wild boars and the wolves. When Venus was with Adonis, he listened to her advice. But in her absence, one day, he pursued a wild boar. His arrow struck the boar and angered him. Fiercely the animal sprang upon the youthful hunter, and thrust his tusks through his side, and Adonis sank in death.

Venus grieved for his death. “Alas!” she cried, “why did you hunt the cruel beasts which care not for youth or grace or beauty? Long shall I lament your untimely death, Adonis. From your blood a flower shall spring to keep your memory upon the earth, and people shall say, ‘This is the flower of Adonis.’” At that moment blossomed the tender anemone, the windflower, which every spring adorns the warm hillsides.

This myth has almost the same meaning as the myth of Ceres and Persephone. When the youthful Adonis, the springtime of the year, is hunting over the hills and valleys, Venus, the cherishing mother, is glad and happy in his presence, and all the earth is filled with flower and fruit.

But before the tusk of the wild boar, the cruel and frosty winter, Adonis is slain; and Venus grieves, as Ceres laments when Persephone is in the kingdom of Pluto.



A dewdrop came, with a spark of flame
He had caught from the sun’s last ray,
To a violet’s breast, where he lay at rest
Till the hours brought back the day.
The rose looked down, with a blush and frown;
But she smiled all at once, to view
Her own bright form, with its coloring warm,
Reflected back by the dew.
Then the stranger took a stolen look
At the sky, so soft and blue;
And a leaflet green with its silver sheen,
Was seen by the idler too.
A cold north wind, as he thus reclined,
Of a sudden raged around;
And a maiden fair, who was walking there,
Next morning, an opal found.



Far away in the west was a beautiful land that belonged to King Hesperus. This king had three lovely daughters who cared for the fruits and flowers of the gardens. In the gardens were many graceful trees whose boughs bent under the weight of delicious fruit. Flowers red, yellow, and orange adorned the walks.

When Juno, goddess of the sky, married Jupiter, her sister Ceres gave her a handsome present. Ceres is the earth goddess who cultivates the fruits, flowers, and grains, and the best gift she could bestow upon her sister was some golden apples.

Juno prized these apples highly, and gave them to the Hesperides, the daughters of Hesperus. They placed them upon the shadiest tree of the garden, and watched and cared for them very carefully.

Once they were taken away by Hercules, the strong hero who performed many wonderful labors, but they were afterwards restored to the careful hands of the maidens.

Many heroes heard of the beautiful land, Hesperia, and of the wonderful apples growing there, and sailed westward to find them. Some people think that the golden apples were really the oranges of Spain, a rich and famous country west of Greece.


Sculpture of Juno, one hand raised
National Museum, Naples.



Cleon hath ten thousand acres,
Ne’er a one have I;
Cleon dwelleth in a palace.
In a cottage I;
Cleon hath a dozen fortunes,
Not a penny I:
Yet the poorer of the twain is
Cleon, and not I.
Cleon is a slave to grandeur,
Free as thought am I;
Cleon fees a score of doctors,
Need of none have I;
Wealth surrounded, care environed,
Cleon fears to die;
Death may come—he’ll find me ready,
Happier man am I.
Cleon sees no charms in Nature,
In a daisy I;
Cleon hears no anthems ringing
’Twixt the sea and sky;
Nature sings to me forever,
Earnest listener I:
State for state, with all attendants—
Who would change? Not I.
—Charles Mackay.



Vulcan was always trying his skill, and he made many wonderful and beautiful things. One day he invited the gods to see his latest creation. Here stood a beautiful figure, resembling Venus in beauty. The gods were delighted with his work, and decided each to bestow upon the woman some excellent gift.

Minerva gave skill in handicraft, Mercury gave wit in conversation, Venus the power to please, the Graces added charm to her beauty, and Jupiter at last gave life and immortality. Because of these many gifts, she was named Pandora, a Greek word meaning “all gifts.”

The gods sent Pandora to Prometheus and Epimetheus, the brothers who loved mankind. Prometheus would not receive the lovely maiden, for he knew the gods did not love him and he feared their gifts. But Epimetheus welcomed her to his home.

For some time they lived happily, but trouble came to them because of Pandora’s curiosity. In the palace of Epimetheus was a quaintly carved box. Pandora had wondered what was in it, for Epimetheus did not know.

“The winged messenger brought it,” he told her, “and said that it contained a secret of the immortal gods. We must not open it, dear Pandora, for mortals should not know the secrets of the immortals.”

[181] But Pandora was not to be satisfied. Day after day the longing grew upon her to open the box. She believed it contained beautiful garments or ornaments, and she said to herself: “Why should the gods leave the box here, if we must not open it? There are many places where they could have hidden it.” So she persuaded herself that she would not be doing wrong to open the box, although a little voice seemed to warn her not to disobey.

Slowly she approached the box. The figures upon it seemed to smile upon her. She thought she would open it just a little and peep in. Poor Pandora! The moment she lifted the cover, all the sorrow and sickness and sin which had been shut up in this wonderful box, flew out and winged their way all over the earth.

Pandora was overcome with remorse and let the cover fall. In the midst of her grief, she heard a sweet voice say, “Pandora, dear Pandora, do not grieve so; let me out to comfort you.”

“No, indeed,” replied Pandora; “too many of your sisters and brothers have I let out already.”

But the voice persisted, and was so kind and gentle that at last Pandora yielded, and Hope came forth to comfort and help man to endure all the evils of this life. In sickness or sorrow, hope points to happier to-morrows, and when we have done wrong and repent, hope encourages us to do what we know is right.


A group of people in woodland
J. B. C. Corot (1796-1878).
A Landscape.



Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our mother nature laughs around;
When even the deep blue heavens look glad,
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hangbird and wren,
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground squirrel gayly chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space
And their shadows at play on the bright green vale;
And here they stretch to the frolic chase,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There’s a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There’s a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There’s a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles,
On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray,
On the leaping waters and gay young isles;
Ay, look, and he’ll smile thy gloom away.
—William Cullen Bryant.


Sculpture of Hebe, one arm raised
A. Canova (1757-1822).



As you know, the home of the gods and goddesses was a mountain in Greece called Olympus. It is the loftiest mountain of that country, and its top is often encircled by clouds. Here were the marble palaces of the gods. On this mountain, they would meet in council to decide upon the fate of mortals, or they would come together for a merry feast.

Fair Hebe, the goddess of youth, was their cupbearer. It was her duty to pour out the delicious nectar. She was so graceful and light-footed that she seemed to float rather than to walk. The rosy light of youth and health shone from her bright eyes and glowing cheeks.

But, alas! one day she stumbled, and some of the nectar fell upon the marble floor. The gods demand perfect service, and dislike awkwardness, so poor Hebe was in disgrace. Although she was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno, she could no longer serve the gods, and Jupiter sought another cupbearer.

This god can assume any shape he chooses, and as an eagle he flew over the lands until he saw Ganymede, the son of a Trojan king. Jupiter was so pleased with him that he carried him to high Olympus for cupbearer in place of Hebe.



Merry, rollicking, frolicking May
Into the woods came skipping one day;
She teased the brook till he laughed outright,
And gurgled and scolded with all his might;
She chirped to the birds and bade them sing
A chorus of welcome to Lady Spring;
And the bees and butterflies she set
To waking the flowers that were sleeping yet.
She shook the trees till the buds looked out
To see what the trouble was all about,
And nothing in Nature escaped that day
The touch of the life-giving, bright, young May.


A beautiful little building in Rome is called the Temple of Vesta. Hundreds of years have passed since the Romans built this shrine. Many buildings and temples erected since have been destroyed, but this little temple still stands to show the thought and the artistic taste of the old Romans.

Vesta is the goddess of the hearth. Fire is the emblem of friendship and hospitality, and in the temple of Vesta the fire was kept burning night and day. The Romans believed that if this fire went out, great [187] trouble would come upon the people. So maidens were chosen to guard the fire and honor the goddess.

Little girls, six years old, were taken from the best families in Rome, for it was considered a great honor to be chosen. For ten years they were taught the duties of a vestal virgin. Then for ten years they served the goddess at her altar fires, and after that they became the teachers of the young children.

When a great general had won a victory over the enemies of Rome, and all the people gathered to celebrate the return of the soldiers from the battlefield, the vestal virgins had an honored place in the procession. At the great games held in the Coliseum, the vestals sat next to the emperor; for they guarded the fire of home—the dearest place on earth.



Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
—Alfred Tennyson.


A woman holds a sleeping infant
Saubès (modern).
Mother and Child.



One beautiful summer day a fairy saw a butterfly with golden wings. He tried to catch the lovely insect, and it led him a merry chase from flower to flower. At last the fairy found himself in a strange wood, and he did not know the way home. The sun had set, the wind had gone away, and no one could direct him.

Wearied with his search, he determined to rest until the moon rose, when the fairies would come forth to dance upon the mossy banks. He looked about him for a resting place, and asked a stately lily to let him sleep on her broad leaves; but the petals were closed, and she would not receive him. Many flowers refused him shelter. At last, worn out and almost hopeless, he came to a rose. This lovely flower spread wide her soft, fragrant petals as a downy couch for the tired fairy.

After a quiet nap he awoke, rested and grateful, and asked the rose what return he could make for her kindness. The rose bowed her pretty head, and replied, “Make me more beautiful.”

The fairy looked at the rose blushing in the silvery moonlight, and wondered how she could be more lovely. Soon he noticed the dainty green moss at his feet, and drew a delicate veil of it over the rose.


A cherubic Cupid asleep on the bank of a stream
L. Perrault (modern).
Cupid Asleep.



The angel of the flowers, one day,
Beneath a rose tree sleeping lay,—
That spirit to whose charge ’tis given
To bathe young buds in dews of heaven;
Awaking from his light repose,
The angel whispered to the rose:
“O fondest object of my care,
Still fairest found, where all are fair;
For the sweet shade thou giv’st to me,
Ask what thou wilt, ’tis granted thee.”
“Then,” said the rose, with deepened glow,
“On me another grace bestow.”
The spirit paused, in silent thought,—
What grace was there that flower had not?
’Twas but a moment,—o’er the rose
A veil of moss the angel throws;
And, robed in nature’s simplest weed,
Could there a flower that rose exceed?



The Greeks said that Orpheus was a handsome youth, who loved music and song. He was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope.

Apollo, who is god of music, loved his son, and gave him a lyre with golden strings. When he played upon this musical lyre, and sang words of harmony and love, all the voices of nature became silent to listen. The ocean waves ceased their strife, the noisy winds said “Hush,” and the flowers turned their pretty heads to listen to his strains.

Orpheus loved his wife Eurydice dearly, and when she died, he would not be comforted. One day, lonely and sad, he took his lyre and wandered to the mountains.

Soon he struck his strings, and the words he sang were so mournful that the trees leaned down their branches to comfort him, the rocks on the mountain side moved to follow him, the flowers bent their tender heads and their eyes filled with tears of sympathy, while the rippling brooks sighed in pity. All nature seemed sad, and the glorious sun drew a heavy cloud about him.

Orpheus sings his lament in the countryside
J. B. C. Corot.

Now the gods who dwell on high Olympus heard his lamentations, and begged Jupiter to relieve his sorrow. Therefore, the king of gods sent Mercury to tell [195] Orpheus to search for his loved Eurydice in Hades. Such was the power of his music that Cerberus with the three great heads, the fierce watchdog of Hades, licked his feet, and let him pass. All the souls of the wicked who were suffering punishment for their sins, when they heard his heavenly music, forgot their torments, and ceased from suffering.

Finally Eurydice appeared. Imagine the joy of that meeting! Pluto, won by the melody of Orpheus, said that Eurydice might return to earth with her husband, if Orpheus would lead the way, and not look back until after she had crossed the threshold.

But, alas! Just as the lovely Eurydice stood in the doorway, the anxious Orpheus looked back. His great love and longing overcame his prudence. A last loving glance, and they were separated, until gentle Death took Orpheus by the hand and led him to her.

This charming myth shows us how music wins all hearts, and, with those wonderful harmonies which tell us that God, who is the maker of all harmony, is guiding us all, helps us to endure pain and loneliness.


A little girl sits outdoors. Painting also known as The Age of Innocence.
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792).



Great, wide, wonderful, beautiful world,
With the wonderful water about you curled,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast—
World, you are beautifully dressed!
The wonderful air is over me,
And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree;
It walks on the water and whirls the mills,
And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.
You friendly earth; how far do you go
With the wheat fields that nod and the rivers that flow,
With cities and gardens, and cliffs and isles,
And people upon you for thousands of miles?
Ah, you are so great, and I am so small,
I tremble to think of you, world, at all;
And yet, when I said my prayer to-day,
A whisper within me seemed to say:
“You are more than the earth, though you’re such a dot;
You can love and think, and the world cannot.”
—Lilliput Lectures.



Arion was a famous musician who lived at the court of Periander, King of Corinth. He wished to compete for the prize in the musical contest, celebrated in Sicily in honor of Apollo. But Periander, who loved the musician, dreaded to have him go so far away. Arion entreated him, saying,—“I wish to make the people better and happier by the gift which the gods have given me. It is my duty to Apollo to sing in his honor.”

So Arion went to Sicily, and his music was so excellent and so sweet that he won the great prize. The gold and the laurel wreath were put on board the ship, and he embarked for home. Wind and wave were favorable, the sky was clear. He gave thanks to Apollo for his good fortune, and promised to offer sacrifices in the temple.

The wicked sailors, however, knew that Arion had a large amount of gold and jewels in his chests. They gathered around him and told him that he must die.

“Do you want my gold?” he asked. “That you may have and welcome, but spare my life.”

But the sailors did not dare let him go to Periander, knowing that the king loved him and would have them punished for the robbery. They said they would kill him in the ship, or he might plunge into the sea.

[199] Arion was brave and chose to give his life to the waves. He dressed as if going to a festival, with his handsomest garments, his jewels, and a crown of golden laurel leaves. Taking his lyre, he played so exquisitely that even the cruel sailors were moved to pity, but the thought of his gold hardened their hearts.

As he plunged beneath the waves, a dolphin, charmed by his music, offered its broad back for him to ride upon.

The sailors thought him drowned and continued on their way. Meanwhile Arion journeyed on, singing and playing as he went. The dolphin bore him safely to the shore. He reached Corinth, and told his friend Periander of the treachery of the sailors.

When the ship arrived, the sailors landed and were conducted to the palace. “Where is Arion?” asked Periander. “Has he not returned?” The sailors replied that he was safe in Tarentum.

At this moment Arion appeared, tall and handsome, wearing elegant robes and shining jewels. Amazed to see one whom they believed dead, the sailors fell on their knees and cried,—“We murdered him, and he has become a god! O earth, open and receive us!”

“Yes,” replied the king, “the gods delight to honor the poet, and they have saved the life of one whose music charms all hearts but yours. Arion does not desire your death. Go, avaricious souls, and never know the joy that beauty and music can bring.”



No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there’s never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,—
In the nice ear of nature which song is the best?
—James Russell Lowell.



¶ This grading, which is simply suggestive, represents the earliest years in which these books can be read to advantage.

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OVERTON’S APPLIED PHYSIOLOGIES form a series of text-books for primary, grammar, and high schools, which departs radically from the old-time methods pursued in the teaching of physiology. These books combine the latest results of study and research in biological, medical, and chemical science with the best methods of teaching.

¶ The fundamental principle throughout this series is the study of the cells where the essential functions of the body are carried on. Consequently, the study of anatomy and physiology is here made the study of the cells from the most elementary structure in organic life to their highest and most complex form in the human body.

¶ This treatment of the cell principle, and its development in its relation to life, the employment of laboratory methods, the numerous original and effective illustrations, the clearness of the author’s style, the wealth of new physiological facts, and the logical arrangement and gradation of the subject-matter, give these books a strength and individuality peculiarly their own.

¶ The effects of alcohol and other stimulants and narcotics are treated in each book sensibly, and with sufficient fullness. But while this important form of intemperance is singled out, it is borne in mind that the breaking of any of nature’s laws is also a form of intemperance, and that the whole study of applied physiology is to encourage a more healthful and a more self-denying mode of life.

¶ In the preparation of this series the needs of the various school grades have been fully considered. Each book is well suited to the pupils for whom it is designed.


Transcriber's Note

Minor punctuation errors have been repaired.

Archaic and variable spelling is preserved as printed.

Page 73—repeated 'the' deleted—... and to strew the path of Apollo, ...

Illustrations have been moved where necessary so that they are not in the middle of a paragraph.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of 'Round the Year in Myth and Song, by 
Florence Holbrook


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