Project Gutenberg's Classic Myths, by Retold by Mary Catherine Judd
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Title: Classic Myths
Author: Retold by Mary Catherine Judd
Release Date: February, 2006 [EBook #9855]
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CLASSIC MYTHS ***
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Tonya Allen
and PG Distributed Proofreaders
MARY CATHERINE JUDD
Principal of the Lincoln School
ANGUS MAC DONALL
with drawings entirely from classic sources
The very cordial reception given this little book by teachers and
children, both in school and out of school, has tempted me carefully to
revise the stories, omitting some and adding others, in the hope of
making the book still more welcome and more helpful. The illustrations
in the present edition are all from classic sources, and reproduce for
the reader something of the classic idea and the classic art.
The book was originally prepared as an aid in Nature Study, and this
thought has been retained in the present edition. By reading these myths
the child will gain in interest and sympathy for the life of beast,
bird, and tree; he will learn to recognize those constellations which
have been as friends to the wise men of many ages. Such an acquaintance
will broaden the child's life and make him see more quickly the true,
the good, and the beautiful in the world about him.
MARY CATHERINE JUDD.
_Minneapolis, October, 1901_.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How the Horses of the Sun Ran Away _Greek_
Woden, God of the Northern Sky _Norse_
Jupiter, God of the Southern Sky _Roman_
Diana, Queen of the Moon _Greek_
Jack and Jill on the Moon Mountains _Norse_
The Man in the Moon _German_
A Story of an Evening Star _Greek_
The Giant with a Belt of Stars _Greek_
The Great Bear in the Sky _Greek_
Castor and Pollux, the Starry Twins _Greek_
The Milky Way _Russian_
How Fire Came to Earth _Greek_
Beyond the Fire Island _Russian_
A Legend of the North Wind _Norse_
Orpheus, the South Wind _Greek_
The Little Wind-god _Greek_
The Voices of Nature _Finnish_
A Bag of Winds _Greek_
Echo, the Air Maiden _Greek_
Iris, the Rainbow Princess _Greek_
The Thunder-god and His Brother _Norse_
Neptune, King of the Seas _Greek_
Why Rivers Have Golden Sands _Greek_
Old Grasshopper Gray _Greek_
Where the Frogs Came from _Roman_
The Birds with Arrow Feathers _Greek_
Why the Partridge Stays Near the Ground _Greek_
Juno's Bird, the Peacock, _Roman_
The Gift of the Olive Tree, _Greek_
The Linden and the Oak, _Greek_
The Little Maiden Who Became a Laurel Tree _Greek_
The Lesson of the Leaves _Roman_
The Legend of the Seed _Greek_
The Girl Who Was Changed into a Sunflower _Greek_
Why the Narcissus Grows by the Water _Greek_
The Legend of the Anemone _Greek_
The Mistletoe _Norse_
The Forget-me-not _German_
Pegasus, The Horse With Wings _Greek_
Suggestions to Teachers
A Pronouncing Index
Thor, with His Red-hot Hammer, frontispiece
Phaeton Falling from the Chariot
Frigga, the Mother of the Gods
Jupiter and His Eagle
The Head of Jupiter
The Man in the Moon
The Man in the Moon
Orion with His Club
The Great Bear in the Sky
The Great Bear and the Little Bear
Castor and Pollux
Boreas, the God of the North Wind
Tower of the Winds at Athens
Cover of a Drinking Cup
The Head of Iris
A Greek Coin
Silenus Holding Bacchus
Aurora, the Goddess of the Dawn
Castor, the Horse-Tamer
Pollux, the Master of the Art of Boxing
Daedalus and Icarus Making Their Wings
Juno and Her Peacock
Adonis and Aphrodite
Woden on the Throne
Bellerophon and Pegasus
[Illustration: THOR, WITH HIS RED-HOT HAMMER]
HOW THE HORSES OF THE SUN RAN AWAY
Phaeton was the child of the Sun-god, Apollo.
"Mother Clymene," said the boy one day, "I am going to visit my
"It is well," she answered. "The land where the Sun rises is not far
from this. Go and ask a gift from him."
That night Phaeton bound his sandals more tightly, and, wrapping a
thicker silken robe about him, started for the land of Sunrise,
sometimes called India by mankind.
Many nights and many days he traveled, but his sandals never wore out
nor did his robe make him too hot or too cold.
At last, as he climbed the highest mountain peak of all the earth, he
saw the glittering columns of his father's palace. As he came nearer he
found that they were covered with millions of precious stones and inlaid
with gold. When he started to climb the numberless stairs, the silver
doors of the palace flew open, and he saw the wonderful ivory ceiling
and the walls of the long hall.
He was glad that the steps were many and he looked long at the pictures
carved on the walls by an immortal artist.
There were pictures of both land and sea. On the right was earth with
its towns, forests, and rivers, and the beings that live in each. On the
left was the ocean with its mermaids sporting among the waves, riding on
the backs of fishes, or sitting on the rocks drying their sea-green
hair. Their faces were alike, yet not alike, as sisters ought to be.
Up, up the hundreds of steps he climbed, never wearied. On the ceiling
of this marvelous hall he could see carved the stars of heaven. On the
silver doors were the twelve strange beings of the sky, formed of stars;
six on each door.
The last step was reached. Outside the sky was dark, but at the doorway
Phaeton stopped, for the light from his father was more than he could
bear. There sat Apollo, dressed in crimson, on a throne which glittered
with diamonds. On his right hand and on his left stood the Days, bright
with hope; and the Months, hand in hand with the Days, seemed listening
to what the Years were whispering to them.
Phaeton saw there the four seasons. Spring, young and lovely, came
first, her head crowned with flowers. Next came Summer, with her robe of
roses thrown loosely about her and a garland of ripe wheat upon her
head. Then came merry Autumn, his feet stained with grape juice; and
last, icy Winter, with frosty beard and hair, and Phaeton shivered as he
looked at him. Dazzled by the light, and startled to find himself in
such a presence, he stood still.
The Sun, seeing him with the eye that sees everything, asked:
"Why are you here?"
"Apollo, my father, grant me one request, that I may prove to mortals
that you are my father."
Apollo laid aside his dazzling crown of rays, clasped Phaeton in his
arms and said:
"Brave son, ask what you will, the gift is yours."
Quicker than a flash from his father's crown came the question
"Will you let me for one day drive your chariot?"
Foolish father, foolish son! Apollo shook his head three times in
"I have spoken rashly. This one thing no mortal can achieve. Nor can any
immortal save myself hold in the horses that draw the fiery car of day.
It is not honor, but death you ask. Change your wish."
"My mother taught me that my father always kept his promises."
"It is even so, rash boy. If you do not change, neither can I. Bring the
chariot of the Sun."
The daring child stood beside the glorious car that was higher than
his head. His eyes flashed bright as the diamonds that studded the
back of the golden chariot. The golden axle gleamed through the silver
spokes, for the chariot was made of naught but gold and silver and
Then Early Dawn threw open the purple doors of the eastern sky. The
stars, answering the signal of the Day Star, slowly passed from sight,
followed by their marshal.
The Hours obeyed Apollo's orders, and, harnessing the horses, led out
the wondrous creatures and fastened them to the chariot.
Apollo bathed Phaeton's face with ointment, and taking up the crown of
shining rays, fastened it on the rash boy's head.
With a sigh, he said:
"My son, you will at least take my advice in one thing: spare the whip
and hold tight the lines. You will see the marks of the wheels where I
have gone before, and they will guide. Go not too high or you will burn
the heavens, nor too low or you will set your mother's home, the earth,
on fire. The middle course is best. Take the reins, or, if even now you
will change your wish, abide here, and yield the car to me."
Phaeton leaped into the golden chariot, and with a proud smile thanked
his father. Then he gave the word to the horses.
They darted forward through the morning clouds with the fury of a
tempest. Men on the earth thought it was noonday and tried to do double
their daily work. The fiery horses soon found their load was light, and
that the hands on the reins were frail. They dashed aside from their
path, until the fierce heat made the Great and the Little Bear long to
plunge into the sea.
Poor Phaeton, looking down on the earth, grew pale and shook with
terror. He wished that he had never seen these shining steeds, had never
sought the palace of the Sun, and that he had never held his father to
that rash promise.
Diana, who drives the chariot of the Moon, heard the mad racket in the
sky, and shooting her arrows at the frightened horses, turned them aside
in time to prevent them from dashing her own silver car to pieces.
Earth cried for clouds and rain. The people of Africa became black
because of the terrible heat. Streams dried up, mountains burned, and
the River Nile hid his head forever in a desert. At last Earth cried in
a husky voice to Jupiter, the ruler of the gods:
"What have I done that this punishment should come? Slay me, or save my
people from this burning!"
[Illustration: PHAETON FALLING FROM THE CHARIOT]
Jupiter, from his seat in the thunderclouds, saw the danger the
heavens and the earth were in, and hurled his lightnings at the rash
driver. Phaeton fell dead from the chariot. From morning till night,
and from that night till morning, he fell like a shooting star, and
sank at last into an Italian river. His sisters trembled so at his
fall and wept so bitterly that they changed into poplar trees upon the
river banks. Even to this day they mourn for him and tremble at the
least breeze from heaven. Apollo's horses, calmed by Jupiter's voice,
finally found the track. When evening came they entered the western
gates of the sky and were taken back, by way of the north, to their
stalls near Apollo's palace.
WODEN, GOD OF THE NORTHERN SKY
Little Hilda Peterson sat by a table in her mother's room studying her
spelling lesson. Suddenly she startled her mother by giving the table a
sharp rap with her pencil and saying:
"What a queer name for a day! Why didn't the people who named the days
give them numbers instead of names? I can never remember how to spell
Wednesday. What is the use of the third letter in it?"
"My little girl, when you have finished your lesson I will tell you a
story; then I think you will always remember where the fourth day got
It did not take Hilda many minutes to finish her studying, with the
promise of a story before her.
This is the old Norse tale her mother told:
"Long years ago, before our fatherland, Norway, became a Christian
country, our people were taught that they must worship many gods. Nearly
all of these they feared; a very few they loved. The greatest was Woden.
When little children looked at the moon and stars, they were told that
Woden made them. When they asked about the clouds, everyone said, 'Woden
"In the spring they were told that Woden made the leaves come and the
flowers open. No one knew the true God then. Everyone said that Woden
lived in a beautiful city in the sky, north of our own Northland. All
the houses there were gold and silver, and the most splendid one was
Woden's royal palace. This was called Valhalla. To reach it one had to
ride or walk the whole length of the rainbow, as it arched from land to
land. But there was a sharp-eyed watchman at the gate who stopped anyone
who had no right to cross that seven-hued bridge.
"In Valhalla, Woden's people were always happy. They were never sick;
they never died. There were no little girls and no little boys in this
golden palace, only soldiers; and some of these were women! Woden
often sent his shield-maidens, as they were called, to battlefields to
carry to Valhalla the souls of brave men. When the choosers of the
slain rode through the air, their glittering, shining robes and
spears, and their swift horses made a strange, bright light in the
North. People called it Northern Lights, but Woden knew it was his
Valkyrias. Did you ever see them?
"In another palace of gold in this beautiful city of the northern sky
were Woden's wife and family. This palace was called Fensalir. Woden's
wife was Frigga and his eldest son was Thor. I must tell you about this
son. Thor owned three precious things. Can you guess what they were?
"One was a red-hot iron hammer. When he threw it at a mountain the rocks
split open wide and all the Frost Giants who lived within the rocks and
upon the mountain were killed.
"The second thing was a wonderful belt. When he put it on he was twice
as strong as before.
"The third was a pair of iron gloves. When he put these on he could
throw his hammer twice as far.
"There is a story told of how Thor once threw his hammer so far that it
could not return as it had always done. It fell near an immense giant
who seized it and hid it half a mile deep under the rocks. Thor sent the
God of Fire to win it back, but the cruel giant would not give it up
unless Thor would bring Freya, the loveliest of the goddesses, to marry
him. But Freya refused to go and live with a fierce giant.
"Thor wanted his hammer. At last the God of Fire, who had seen this
giant, told Thor to dress himself like Freya and to put on a heavy veil.
He did this and the two gods rode far away, on the rays of the setting
sun, to recover the lost hammer.
"When the giant saw them he took them to his house. At supper time he
wondered how a goddess could eat so much, for Thor devoured eight great
salmon and a whole roasted ox. Then he wondered how she could drink so
much, for Thor drank three hogsheads of honey wine. Then the giant
pulled the heavy veil aside and wondered what made her eyes like
fireballs. The God of Fire explained everything, for Thor would not
speak. Then the hammer was asked for. It was laid in the mock bride's
lap. As soon as Thor had it in his hand he stood up, slew all the giants
and utterly destroyed the wicked town. Then he went back to Fensalir and
told Frigga, his mother, how he had recovered his hammer.
"Frigga was as powerful as Woden or Thor. All things which Woden had
made obeyed her, nor dared harm anything when she forbade them. It may
be she did not know of the lost hammer or she would have saved Thor his
"Frigga was one of the most beautiful creatures the world has ever
known. No picture was ever so perfect and beautiful as she. Her robes
were lovelier than those of any other goddess. Sometimes they were of
gold and scarlet, sometimes of purest white, and many times of modest
green. She loved to spin, and no spider ever spun so fine a thread as
she on her spinning wheel. She worked so faithfully that Woden
changed the wheel into shining stars, and when you look up at Orion
again remember that the Norse people called that constellation
"And now, Hilda, these three, Woden, Thor, and Frigga, still live upon
our earth and are bound by loving ties. Strange to say, however, they
can never meet again, for only one comes to earth at a time. At
midnight, Woden, the father, leaves, and Thor, his son, stays with us
till another midnight. Then Frigga, the mother, comes for a single day,
but she never can see again her son nor her husband.
[Illustration: FRIGGA, THE MOTHER OF THE GODS]
"Does Hilda guess what my story means?"
"I am not quite sure, mother; help me a little bit."
"In my story, Hilda, I told for whom three days of our week are named.
Can you tell which days?"
"Why, mother, is that it? I know one, that is Woden's day, or Wednesday.
Yes, there is Thor's day, or Thursday, but what is the other?"
"Didn't I tell you the mother never could see again her son or her
husband? Do you see the meaning now?"
"Oh, I know! Friday is beautiful Frigga's day."
"Yes, you have guessed the three, Hilda. Now, do you see that Thor's day
comes when Woden's day goes? And as soon as Thor's day is over, then
comes Frigga's day. They come to earth, but never meet."
"Why, how queer it all is! When I say the names of the days of the week,
it will seem as if you were telling me the story again."
"And now a little more, Hilda. Do you remember the colors of the robes
that Frigga wore?"
"You said she wore green or white robes, or sometimes scarlet and gold.
Her dresses must have been very beautiful."
"Look out of the window Hilda. What color is the lawn?"
"Why, the grass makes it green."
"What color will it be in winter?"
"Why, white with snow, of course."
"And in the fall, Hilda?"
"Oh, I know now what you mean by Frigga is the ground, isn't she?"
"Not the ground, but the earth. Woden, with his one all-seeing eye and
his mantle of blue and gray, is the sky, and Thor, with his streaming
red beard and his crashing hammer, is the thunder."
"Oh, mother, how strange it is that such a story should come just from
the word Wednesday! I am glad that I am a Norwegian."
JUPITER, GOD OF THE SOUTHERN SKY
"Why do they call the eagle Jupiter's bird, Miss Folsom?"
"Where did you ever hear it called that, Mary?"
"It was in a book from which our teacher was reading a story to-day. She
let me take the book and there was a fine picture of an eagle on the
first page and it was marked 'Jupiter's bird.' I never knew exactly who
Jupiter was. Was he a real person, Miss Folsom?"
"He was one of the three great gods whom the Romans used to believe in,
Mary. They thought he ruled the sky and everything in it, and all living
things on earth, both the gods and the men. His bird was the eagle,
which carried the lightning in its claws. At Jupiter's command
thunderbolts dashed against the hardest rocks and broke them into
powder. No one dared to disobey him but his wife, Juno, and sometimes
even she had to suffer for doing so.
"Jupiter's father was Saturn, who was kind and good in every way but
one. He did not love his children, and, at the end of each year, one
went away never to return. Jupiter, in some way, was stronger than the
rest and refused to go when the order came. He even fought with the
messenger and made him beg for mercy.
[Illustration: JUPITER AND HIS EAGLE]
[Illustration: THE HEAD OF JUPITER. From a Greek Coin of about 280 B.C.]
Then Jupiter sent this messenger to Saturn, who agreed to bring back to
life Jupiter's brothers and sisters. They all rose up and sent Saturn
away forever, and gave the kingdom to the three bravest sons. Neptune
took the ocean, Pluto the center of the earth, and Jupiter the skies.
They reigned until men had learned wisdom and had become too wise to be
ruled by so many gods.
"Now Jupiter is the name of the largest planet, and when you see a great
beautiful star in the sky, shining almost like the moon, you may be sure
it is Jupiter. You can fancy he is looking down to see if Neptune is
holding his unruly winds and waves in check, or if Pluto is still
keeping guard over the watch-fires in the center of the earth.
"So Jupiter still reigns, but no one now is afraid of his power."
"How wicked of Saturn to put away his children! How could he?"
"Saturn is the same as old Father Time, Mary. Doesn't he put away one of
his children every twelve months?"
"Oh, is that what it means?"
"Year after year goes away, never to return."
"How could Saturn bring them back, then?"
"I don't know what that part of the story means. Maybe we will find out
sometime. But can you think of any day of the week that might be named
"Why, Saturday! surely that is the one, isn't it?"
"Yes, and the weeks never return either, do they, Mary?"
DIANA, QUEEN OF THE MOON
"When we were at grandpa's last summer, we used to stay out so long,
playing under the trees in the dooryard, that nearly every night we
saw the moon.
"Sometimes it was big and round, and sometimes it looked like grandpa's
sickle, only it had no handle.
"And you ought to have heard the queer stories aunt Hattie told about
the moon. Some of the stories were very funny, and some were very
"Let's find a window where we can see the moon and then tell stories
about it. Come, boys," and little Jack led the way.
"Here is a grand place to sit, Charlie. Right here, all of us together
on this sofa, and you must tell us a story."
So Charlie began:
"This is one of the stories I like best; maybe you won't, though.
"Apollo, the god of the sun, had a twin sister named Diana. Apollo liked
to hunt with his golden bow and arrow, and his sister loved him so much
that she was always with him. He taught her how to use the bow and arrow
as well as he could himself. Sometimes their mother would set up a
target for them, and she was just as proud of Diana's quick eyes as of
Apollo's strong hand, for no matter what they aimed at, Diana could
shoot as well as Apollo. By and by, when Apollo had grown too old for
idle sport, he was given the sun to rule over, and Diana begged for
something just as grand to do. 'Such work is too hard for my brave
girl,' her mother would say, but at last Apollo said he would help her,
and so she was given the moon to rule over."
[Illustration: DIANA. From a statue in the Louvre, Paris]
"Why, Charlie, how queer that sounds, for you know the sun does help the
moon to shine," said Jack.
"Keep still, Jack; it is almost nine o'clock, and I can't stop to talk
about the queer part; you must just watch for that," and Charlie went on
with the story.
"Diana was as grand and proud, driving the silver chariot of the moon,
as Apollo in his gold chariot of the sun. Sometimes, when her work was
over, she left the moon and came to earth again to hunt. She would call
her friends, the maidens she used to play with, and away they would go,
each with a silver bow in hand and a quiver full of arrows fastened at
"One day, while they were hunting, they heard strange dogs in the woods.
Each one of the girl hunters hid behind a tree and waited. Diana ran
from her tree to a cave so that she could not be found. At last a
foolish hunter came in sight. He seemed to act as if he knew he ought
not to be there, and he wandered from left to right, as if he had never
hunted before. Then he started for the very cave where Diana was hiding,
for he knew by the willows a spring was there."
"Oh, my!" said Jack.
"Yes, he started for Diana's cave, but the minute he was near enough he
felt a splash of water that seemed to cover him from head to foot and he
heard Diana say:
"'Now go and tell, if you can, that you have seen Diana.'
"Poor fellow! He could not move. As he stood there he found his arms
were changing to the straight fore legs of a deer. Horns came out of his
head, his brown eyes grew bigger, and so did his ears, and in a few
minutes even his own dogs did not know him. He bounded away, but his pet
hounds sprang at him and caught him.
"Diana and her friends were miles away, and no one could save the poor
fellow from the fate of a hunted deer."
"Oh, I think Diana was cruel," said Jack.
"I thought it served him right, when I heard it," Charlie said. "He knew
he had no right in Diana's forest, and she can't hunt in the moon, for
they say there are neither trees nor animals there."
JACK AND JILL ON THE MOON MOUNTAINS
"Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To get a pail of water;
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after."
That is what your father and mother used to say when they were children.
So did your grandfather and grandmother when they were little, and for
hundreds of years children have laughed at poor Jack and Jill's mishaps.
Now, I will tell you how the story first began.
In Norway, people used to believe that the chariot of the moon was
driven by a glorious youth, Mani. He was lonely in heaven. One night a
little boy on earth was sent by his parents to a well to get a pail of
water. This boy's name was Hjuki. He asked his sister Bil to go with
him. They had to carry with them the big bucket fastened to a long
pole, for there was no well-sweep. They thrust the pole, with the
bucket at the end of it, into the water, and, as they were both busy
straining every muscle to raise the bucket, Mani stood beside them and
To the children he looked like a friendly lad and they were glad
of his help.
Bil balanced the pail on the pole and together they started to carry the
The weight was so great on Hjuki's shoulder, for he tried to take the
heavier end, that he stumbled and down they both went.
Mani wanted the children's company and so picked them up and carried
them through the sky to the mountains of the moon. There you can see
them when the moon is full, wandering about, seeking to return, falling
and going out of sight, just as they did on earth.
They still carry the bucket and the pole, hoping yet dreading to meet
their parents. They fear that their parents think they ran away from
their task. But try as hard as they can, Mani keeps them from finding
the way back to earth.
THE MAN IN THE MOON
More than a thousand years ago, on a Sunday morning in the early fall,
an old German woodman told his wife, Gretchen, that he was going after
fagots. She begged him not to go, for it was Sunday and they did not
need the wood. The old man only laughed at her, and trudged away into
the forest where no one could see him.
[Illustration: THE MAN IN THE MOON. From an old painting.]
He cut his bundle of fagots, piled them together, tied them with a stout
band, and throwing them over his shoulder, started homeward. Then he
noticed that the wild creatures, that had never stirred as he entered
the woods before, were now afraid of him. The birds fluttered away with
a whirring noise, and an old mother hare, which he knew very well, made
wonderful leaps to get herself and family out of his sight. Even a bear
ran from him, instead of attacking him.
Soon he met a stranger with a sad, stern face, who stopped him.
"Don't you know that this is Sunday on earth, when all must rest
"Whether it is Sunday on earth or Monday in heaven, it is all the same
to me," laughed the old man.
"Then carry your bundle forever, and as you do not care for Sunday on
earth, you shall have a long Monday in heaven, where you shall be a
warning to all Sabbath-breakers evermore."
Then the old man found himself swiftly rising in the air. Quick as a
thought he was landed in the moon, where his wife saw him as she stood
outside her door that night to watch for his coming. There he still
stands bearing his fagots, and as all days are Mondays in the moon, he
can never Break Sunday Again.
[Illustration: THE MAN IN THE MOON. From a seal dated 1335.
The legend says "I will teach thee, Walter, why I carry thorns in
A STORY OF AN EVENING STAR
"Every night, mother, I see a beautiful star in the sky so different
from the others. It comes first and shines so bright that it seems as if
it were the loveliest star in the whole sky. Won't you watch for it
to-night with me?"
The mother smiled, for she thought she knew which one of the stars Mamie
would point out. Sure enough, that night as they both sat in the hammock
watching the sunset, out came the very star she expected. In a moment
Mamie saw it and nearly fell out of the hammock as she screamed and
clapped her hands.
"There it is, mamma! There it is! I know it because it looks straight at
me. It knows me, I believe, for it never trembles a bit, like the other
stars! Did you ever see such a lovely one?"
Her mother smiled an odd little smile.
"What makes you laugh at me, mother? I know you are laughing, by the
corners of your mouth; they go up so queerly. Tell me."
"Why, Mamie, that is Venus you are watching. I have watched her every
year since I first found her long ago."
"Venus? Who is Venus, mother? And what makes you call a star _her_? I
didn't know a star could have a name. Who named her? Did you, mother?
What made you call her Venus?"
"Seems to me you ask a great many questions, little girl. Which one
shall I answer first?"
"Did you name my star yourself?"
"No, Mamie, it was named hundreds of years ago when many stars had names
given them. You know people have watched and studied the stars almost
since the world began."
"And was Venus a little girl or a woman? I know she must have been
lovely or they would never have given her name to my star."
"Your star, as you call it, Mamie, is at present the evening star.
By and by it will be the morning star. I will tell you where it
got its name.
"Venus was a lovely woman, but she never was a little girl. The old, old
story books say that one day as some people were walking by the sea they
saw a rose-tinted shell rise on the crest of the wave. This great shell
opened, and beautiful Venus, clothed in raiment like sea-foam when the
sun shines on it, stepped out upon the waters. The people watching were
not surprised when they saw a sunset cloud sail down and take her to the
edge of the western sky, where the ruby gates opened and she passed
through to the world of the gods. That was her home. Whenever she wished
to return to earth she came in a silver chariot drawn by snow-white
swans. Her head was always wreathed with roses and myrtles. White doves
carried her messages. Her dress is of the finest silk, the color of the
"Why, mamma, you say _is_! Do you mean Venus is still alive?"
[Illustration: VENUS. From the statue in the Louvre, Paris]
"No, dear, she never was alive. It is only one of the many beautiful
myths that people used to believe two thousand years ago. But artists
love to paint pictures as beautiful as Venus was thought to be, and
there are many lovely statues of her. Sometimes it almost seems as if
she must have been alive. When we go to the art gallery, see if you can
find a Venus.
"But say good-night to your star, for it is late. Some time you will
miss her and find another in her place. Tell me, dear, when the new
"Oh, I am going to watch every night, mamma. Will the new one
have a name?"
"Yes, but I'm not going to tell you its name or its story till it
THE GIANT WITH A BELT OF STARS
It is an easy matter for any one to find the three great stars in the
sky that are arranged in a row, like three great diamonds sparkling on
the front of a mammoth crown. They shine out, clear and bright, whenever
Diana takes her silver bow, which we call the moon, and goes to hunt in
her secret fields or forests. These three stars have been called Orion's
Belt for thousands of years, and for ages children and grown people have
watched for their coming after the sun has gone below the horizon.
The story told of Orion by the ancient Greeks has been repeated by some
of our poets, and Henry W. Longfellow has written in his own beautiful
way of this same famous Greek hunter who never knew fear. Perhaps you
will be more interested in his poem after you have read this short
account of the mighty giant whose belt of stars is longer than other
giants were tall.
Orion was the son of Neptune, the god of the sea. His father gave him
power to walk upon the water or to wade in the deepest ocean without
drowning. You know that if he had the power of walking in such places,
he did not need to swim, and his steps were so long that he could walk
much faster than his swiftest enemy could run.
[Illustration: ORION WITH HIS CLUB]
Orion was very fond of hunting, and wore, as his mantle or robe, the
tawny skin of a huge lion he had slain. His club and his sword were his
only weapons, and he needed no others, for his long arms helped him to
strike before he himself could be hurt. Once he was made blind, but as
he wandered by the seashore the music of the singing waves which were
his father's home gave him comfort and led him to a friend who guided
him to Apollo. One bright sunbeam from Apollo's crown touched Orion's
eyes and they saw more clearly than ever before. Nearly everything was
Orion's friend, for with his great strength he was always ready to help
those who could not help themselves. But he was so huge that many who
did not know him were afraid, and one day the Pleiads, daughters of
Atlas, saw him coming and they fled away so fast that they were changed
into doves. You can find the place where they alighted in the sky, just
ahead of Orion. He still follows them, and his dog Sirius, who carries
the famous dog star, is close at his side; but the Pleiads never allow
Orion to overtake them in their long journey through the regions of the
sky. The Pleiads are so beautiful that you must learn to find them, and
this cluster of six twinkling stars, "a swarm of fireflies tangled in a
silver braid," will guide you in finding the belt of the mighty hunter
Orion, the giant of the heavens. Four other very brilliant stars mark
his shoulders and his knees.
THE GREAT BEAR IN THE SKY
"Oh mother, what do you think? Last night that English boy, Charlie
Thornton, asked me if I knew where Charles' Wain was, and when I said I
didn't know, what do you suppose he showed me? Why, nothing but the Big
Dipper up there among the stars. I told him he was mistaken and that
nobody ever called it the odd name he had for it. But he said his mother
called it that, and he wouldn't give it up. Wasn't that queer?"
"Why, no, Ralph, I don't think it was strange that he called it as his
mother had taught him. That is exactly what you do. Many English people
call it Charles' Wain. Wain means wagon, and it does look a little like
a cart or wagon."
"I don't think it does, not the least bit. It looks just like a big
dipper, and like nothing else."
"Why, you silly boy! What would you think if I should tell you that ever
so many people call it the Great Bear?"
"Why, that is queerer yet. Can you see a bear up there in the sky? Maybe
when it thunders it is the Great Bear growling!" and Ralph jumped off
the porch and rolled on the grass, laughing at his discovery.
[Illustration: THE GREAT BEAR IN THE SKY]
In a moment a thought seemed to come to him, and springing up, he ran to
his mother's chair on the porch and said: "Mother, is there any story
about the Great Bear? How did it get up there among the stars? Is the
North Star the Bear's eye? Does his nose always point to the North Star,
the same as the two pointers in the Big Dipper?"
"Now, my boy, you will be surprised again when I tell you that there are
two bears in the sky, the Great Bear and the Little Bear. The wonderful
North Star is in the tip of the tail of the Little Bear."
"Now, I know there is a story about them, just as there was about those
three beautiful ones you showed me in Orion's belt. You told me about
Orion, now you will tell me about the two bears, won't you?"
"It is a sad story, Ralph, and you know you don't like sad stories. But
I will tell it to you, and sometime, in the years to come, you may read
it in a language that is as old as the story.
"Near a beautiful city on the other side of the world was a large
forest. The trees in this forest were very tall, and their branches so
thick that they made a roof over the ground below. One could wander for
miles and miles in the shade of this forest and never find a house, or
any living creatures but the birds and wild animals.
"Once on a time some hunters came back, after having been gone many
days, and said that away in the heart of the forest they had had a
glimpse of a beautiful snow-white bear. Not one of them had been able
to get a shot at it with his arrows, and some thought it was only a
dream. The story spread throughout the city, and all the boys and young
hunters were anxious for a chance to win so fine a prize as the
snow-white skin. Not for himself, oh, no, for whoever brought it home
must hang it in the temple.
"One brave young hunter said, 'I am going into the heart of the forest.
I will take only the bravest with me, and I will never return without
"This young man was dearly loved by everyone. His mother had left him
when he was only a few years old, and gone, no one knew where. He was
cared for by his uncle, and grew up, hoping each year his mother would
return. He took long journeys trying to learn if she were still alive,
but no one could ever tell him a word about her. These journeys had made
him very bold and brave, and there was no cave so dark, nor mountain so
high, but that he would search it in the hope of finding his mother.
"He found six young hunters ready to go with him into the heart of the
forest. They looked very fine in their bright, shining hunting-suits,
with their bows and arrows, and every one wished them success.
"They wasted no time in the pleasant fields outside, but started for the
dark, sunless forest. It was slow work picking their way through the
tangled bushes growing under the trees, and it took many days to reach
the place described by the hunters who had told them the story of the
strange white bear.
"'Whoever sees it first must call to the others. It may be that this is
enchanted ground, and something dreadful will happen to the one who is
alone,' said the leader of the hunting party.
"'It is well said,' they all agreed. In the heart of this wild forest
they wandered, shooting the strange birds they saw there, and saving the
long feathers and wings, to bring home after the hunt was over.
"One day the leader of the hunt chased a wonderful bird for hours from
tree to tree, riding beneath the branches, trying to get a shot.
"At last, just as he had his arrow in his bow, ready to aim, his horse
reared and nearly threw him backward to the ground. There, beside him,
stood the snow-white bear.
"Its two fore paws were stretched out to meet him, and its eyes seemed
full of the love he used to see in his mother's eyes. It was a beautiful
sight, and the arrow meant for the bird shot upward into the sky,
harming no one, but bearing the next words of the hunter as a message to
the great Jupiter.
"'O, my mother, let me live forever with you!' exclaimed the hunter, as
his strong arms were clasped about the white bear's neck.
"'My mother is found!' he shouted, and Echo repeated over and over,
'Found! Found!' until the six fellow hunters came to where the mother
and her son were standing, gazing with loving eyes toward Mount Olympus,
the home of their gods.
"The winged arrow had taken its flight to Jupiter and the son's prayer
[Illustration: THE GREAT BEAR AND THE LITTLE BEAR. From an old wood cut.]
"Jupiter's lightnings flashed and the six hunters saw their strong
leader change into the Great Bear, and gently guide his mother, the
Little Bear, to her home in the sky. He took his place near her, at
Jupiter's command, and now follows wherever she leads. He points forever
to her and to the North Star which she keeps. Those who watch this
unchanging beacon among the stars sometimes remember that the people of
long ago thought that it was placed there to tell them of the unchanging
love of mothers."
"Oh, I knew there was a story. It came out all right at last, and that
takes the sad part away."
Then Ralph whispered, "We know it was only a myth, don't we?"
CASTOR AND POLLUX, THE STARRY TWINS
Among the star pictures in the sky may be found one called Gemini, or
the Twins. The ancient Greeks used to believe that twin brothers named
Castor and Pollux had been really placed in the sky. They once lived in
Sparta; their mother was the lovely Leda, and one of their sisters was
the beautiful Helen, whose capture caused the famous Trojan war.
These brothers were as devoted to each other as twins are said to be,
and one was never seen without the other being near. Their love for
their sisters was very great, and once when Helen was captured by two
noted warriors, these twin brothers of hers found her and brought her
safely back to their mother's house.
[Illustration: CASTOR AND POLLUX]
Castor was very fond of horses. He could tame the wildest one that was
ever caught, and lead it about like a pet dog as soon as his magic touch
had taught its fiery spirit that he was its master. He could ride better
than any one in the kingdom, for no horse had ever thrown him.
Pollux was just as famous in boxing and wrestling. He taught young men
many tricks with the hand and foot, and was the leader in all games.
The two brothers were proud to be allowed to go with the other heroes in
quest of the golden fleece. When the sweet music of Orpheus stilled the
wild storm that arose on the sea and threatened to wreck the Argo, stars
appeared upon the heads of Castor and Pollux, for their great love for
each other was known to the Olympian gods who had sent the storm.
When the curious flames, that sometimes during storms play about the
masts and sails of a ship, were seen on other ships after this voyage
of the Argo, the sailors would always cry out, "See the stars of Castor
Their love for each other made them more famous than anything else. When
at last Castor was slain in a great battle, Pollux prayed Jupiter to let
them be again united. The prayer was granted. Not long after this, the
poets tell us, the star picture of the Twins was discovered in the sky,
and there the two loving brothers stay forever watching the earth to see
if they may help others to be faithful to the end.
THE MILKY WAY
Soon after the world was made, God created a beautiful maiden and gave
her charge of all the birds beneath the heavens. Her name was Lindu. Her
father's name was Uko. She knew all the birds of passage, and where they
should go in autumn, and she sent each flock on its way.
Lindu cared for the birds tenderly, like a mother for her children, and
gave them help whenever it was possible. She sent the stormy wind to
blow dust into the eyes of the fierce hunters when they were seeking to
slay her pets. It was not surprising that all the world loved her, and
those who dwelt in the sky most of all.
The North Star wished to make her his wife. He drove up to Uko's palace
with a dusky coach drawn by six black horses, and in the coach were ten
fine presents. But Lindu did not love him.
"You always stay in one place, and cannot stir from it," said she. "Go
back to your watch-tower."
Then came the Moon drawn in a silver coach by ten gray horses, and the
Moon brought twenty presents. But Lindu did not love the Moon.
"You change your face too often and not your path, and that will never
suit me," she said.
So the Moon drove away wearing his saddest face. Scarcely had the Moon
gone before the Sun drove up. He rode in a golden coach drawn by twenty
gold-red horses, and he brought thirty presents with him. But all his
grandeur went for nothing with Lindu, for she said:
"I do not love you. You follow the same track day by day, just like
the Moon. I love the changing seasons, the changing winds, anything
At that the gold-red horses leaped away and Lindu was alone with
At length the Northern Light came from his home in the midnight land in
a diamond coach drawn by a thousand white horses. He was so grand that
Lindu went to the door to meet him. His servants carried a whole
coach-load of gold and silver, pearls and jewels into her house. She
loved this bright suitor at once.
"You do not travel the same path all the time like the others. You set
out when you wish and rest when it pleases you. Each time you wear a new
robe, and each time you ride in a new coach with new horses. You shall
be my bridegroom."
And Lindu's choice was made.
The news was sent throughout the world, and guests came from the four
sides of the sky and of the earth to greet Lindu and the Northern Light.
It was agreed that the wedding should be when the birds flew south. Back
to his home in the midnight land went the Northern Light, knowing that
Lindu loved him best.
The torrent which fell half a thousand feet over the mountain side sent
Lindu her bridal veil. The Frost King sent her laces so fine that a
breath of summer air would have destroyed them, and they were stored
away in a block of ice for safe keeping. The birds brought her robes of
butterfly wings softer than silk and more beautiful than velvet. Her
sandals were from the wings of the honey bee, stronger than reindeer
skin, and fleeter than a chamois' foot.
Spring passed away. Summer came and went. The birds flew south, and
Lindu waited for the Northern Light's return. Snow sparkled on the
earth, but no hoof-beat of his thousand white horses broke the stillness
of the midnight air. Spring came, but never the Northern Light.
Then Lindu began to weep, and from her tears sprang the little brooks in
the valleys of Earth. The birds flew about her head and rested on her
shoulders. They tried to caress her in a hundred ways, but Lindu did not
heed them. Then they flew away and wandered in strange places, building
nests where no nests were ever seen before. Many an egg was lost and
many a nestling stolen because Lindu was not near to help her birds.
At last Uko heard their sad songs and then saw his daughter's grief.
Uko's heart was always merry and his hands so full of work that he had
not noticed Lindu's trouble. He ordered the Four Winds to lift her
gently and bring her to him in his sky palace.
She dressed herself in her bridal veil, her frosted laces, and robes of
butterfly wings, and the four strong Winds lifted her from the ground.
The song-birds of Earth gathered about her and sang their sweetest
songs. With her white bridal veil streaming far out on the air and a
happy smile on her lips, Lindu sailed across the sky to Uko's palace.
There she lives now, happy as her father Uko. Her white veil spreads
from one end of the heavens to the other, and whoever lifts his eyes to
the Milky Way beholds the maiden in her bridal robes.
From there she directs her birds. From there she waves her white hand in
greeting to the Northern Light as his thousand horses leap through the
sky. She has forgotten his unkindness and her sorrow. The Northern Light
still loves her, but is so changeful that he can never keep a promise.
Uko has given Lindu her station in the heavens and her work. Forever
beautiful and forever young, never changing, she forever smiles at the
changeful Northern Light.
HOW FIRE CAME TO EARTH
Once the earth was but a ball of dead, cold rock and barren sand. Once
the waters were nothing but a mass of icy waves.
Two great giants, Titans the Greeks called them, were given the task of
making the earth what it had been planned to be.
Epimetheus and Prometheus were the names of these giants. Epimetheus
took upon himself the task of making the lower animals and man.
Prometheus overlooked the work and gave hints if he saw that anything
Epimetheus made the fishes. He set them afloat in the water, and taught
them to swim. He made the lion and gave it courage. He gave wings to the
bird and showed it how to fly swiftly through the air. He covered the
crab with its shell and taught it how to creep.
Man came last. Epimetheus had nothing to give him. Claws, wings, shelly
covering, fur, everything had been bestowed on the creatures which he
had made first. Epimetheus saw how weak man was with all the fierce
animals around him. He went to Prometheus for help, and said:
"I have clothed this last creature which I have made with robes from the
garments the immortals have cast aside. The thorns cannot tear him, but
the wild beast can take his life in a moment. Help me to make him
conqueror of everything in earth and sea and sky."
Prometheus sought Minerva for wisdom. She gave him a golden torch, whose
wood was cut from the pines that grew nearest heaven on the earth's
highest peak, and said:
"Follow what this branch of pine is seeking. It will take and hold the
gift reserved for man."
When Prometheus grasped the torch, it leaped upward through the sky past
the pale, cold moon; past flashing stars; upward, till the torch and its
bearer stood in the high heavens by the burning chariot of the sun.
The pine kissed the leaping flames and a fire was kindled in its own
heart. Prometheus sprang backward from the sun chariot, and, bearing
the flaming torch in his hands, brought down to man, from the sun, the
gift of fire.
No creature but man can possess or use this gift. Man would not part
with it for all the treasures below the earth's surface, nor for all the
gifts that birds, beasts, and fishes can boast.
With fire, weapons are made that can subdue the strongest beast that
ever fought for its life. Tools with which man tills the earth and
blasts the rock are made with the aid of fire. With fire man warms his
dwelling. While the wild creatures shiver in the ice and snow man makes
summer within the four walls of his home.
Man walks the earth a conqueror, but should the gift of fire be taken
from him, how would he then teach the lower animals that he is their
master? Having this gift he excels all other creatures. Without it he
would be poor indeed.
Go where you will, the gift Prometheus brought is known to the race to
whom it was given. There is no savage so ignorant but that he has the
art of making fire.
Fire gleams from the eyeballs of the beasts when they are in anger, but
this fire is cold compared with the burning blaze of wood and coal.
No beast will attack mankind when protected by a blazing torch. The gift
of Prometheus shows the wisdom of Minerva.
BEYOND THE FIRE ISLAND
Once there was a man who decided to take a journey to the uttermost end
of the world where it touches the sky. He thought he could reach that
point only by sea, but being tired of the water decided to travel on the
wings of an eagle. A raven told him better, however, for the nights are
months long in the far Northland and the eagle loves the sunlight.
Then this man, who was a king, gave orders to fell the greatest oak tree
in his three kingdoms. Olaf the Brave undertook this task. The oak tree
was very large and neither sun, moon, nor stars could shine between its
leaves, they were so close together. The king commanded that deep-sea
sailing ships should be made from its trunk, warships from its crown,
merchant ships from its branches, children's boats from the splinters,
and maidens' rowing boats from the chips.
But the wise men of Norway and Finland assembled and gave the king
advice. They told him that it was no use building a wooden ship, for the
spirits of the Northern Lights would set it on fire. Then the king made
a ship of silver. The whole of the ship--planking, deck, masts, and
chains--was of silver, and he named his vessel "The Flyer."
Then--for this was ages ago--he provided golden armor for himself,
silver armor for his nobles, iron for the crew, copper for the old men,
and steel for the wise men.
When everything was ready, he and his sailors set out for Finland. But
they soon turned and headed "The Flyer" to the far north. The Great Bear
in the sky guided them.
At the helm of the ship was a wise pilot who knew all languages and
the speech of birds and beasts. The winds of Finland were angry
because he slighted their country, and a great storm arose and blew
the ship out of her course. The birds sang to the helmsman and told
him by their song that his ship was being driven on the bleak and
desolate coast of Lapland.
The king and his bold comrades succeeded in landing in Lapland, but
could find no people. At last a sailor discovered a house. In it
dwelt a wise man and his daughter. The king asked the wise man the
way to the end of the world. The wise man answered that he had asked
a vain question.
"The sea has no end, and those who go westward have found their death in
the Fire Island. Turn homeward and live," said the wise man.
The king only answered by asking the wise Lapp if he would be their
guide to the Fire Island. He consented and went aboard the ship. His
name was Varrak.
He steered the boat due north for thirty days and thirty nights. The
first danger they met was a great whirlpool, whose center was a vast
hole into which had been drawn many a brave ship. Varrak threw overboard
a small barrel wrapped in red cloth and trimmed with many red streamers,
but with a rope attached to it. A whale swallowed this bait and then
tried to escape as he felt the rope pulling him. In his flight he towed
the ship to a safe place in the open sea.
This brought them far westward and at last they came within sight of the
Island of Fire. Iceland, men call it now, but surely it has as much fire
as ice. From the middle of this Iceland they could see great pillars of
flame and vast clouds of smoke ascending into the air.
Varrak warned the king of his danger, but was commanded to run the boat
ashore. Those who explored the land found a vast mountain casting up
flames and another mountain pouring out smoke. Soon the party came
across great spouting fountains of boiling water, and they found the
ground beneath their feet to be burning lava.
The son of Sulev, who was leading this exploring party, wandered through
snow-fields covered with ashes. A shower of red-hot stones warned him
that he was near the volcano. Going too close to this burning mountain,
his hair and eyebrows were singed and his clothing took fire. He rolled
in the snow and saved himself.
Then the son of Sulev thought it best to go back to the ship. Calling
his party together, he found that the youngest, the yellow-haired boy
who was cupbearer to the king, was gone. The birds told the helmsman,
the wise Lapp, that the lad had made friends with the water-sprites
beyond the snow mountains and would never return.
The winds drove the ship about for many days till she grounded again on
a strange shore.
Another party of nobles and sailors went to search this country. Being
tired, they lay down under an ash tree and fell asleep. The people in
this land were giants, and a giant's daughter found them. They were so
very small to the giant child that she picked them up and put them in
her apron, and carried them home to her father.
"Look at these strange creatures, father," she said. "I found them
asleep under a head of cabbage in our garden. What are they?"
The giant knew them to be men from the east. Now the east has always
been noted for its wisdom, so he questioned these men with riddles.
"What walks along the grass, steps on the edge of the fence, and walks
along the sides of the reeds?" he asked.
"The bee," answered the wise man of the party.
"What drinks from the brooks and wells, and from the stones on
"The rainbow," replied the wise man.
Then the giant told his little daughter to put the strangers back
exactly where she had found them. But the wise man asked her to carry
them to the ship just for fun. She leaned over the vessel like a vast
cloud and shook them out of her white apron upon the deck. Then with one
long breath she blew the ship four miles out to sea. The king shouted
back his thanks.
But that wind blew northwest instead of north. The cold was intense and
they watched from midnight to midnight the combats in the air between
the spirits of the Northern Lights. The sailors were frightened, but the
king was pleased. He was farther north than ever before.
The helmsman warned them that they were approaching another shore. No
birds welcomed them or sang them the name of the country. Men dressed in
the skins of dogs and bears met them as they landed, and took them to
their homes on sledges of ice drawn by dogs. Their houses were of blocks
of ice and snow, and their talk sounded like dogs barking.
The king did not like these people, for their land was cold. The wise
man told him again that his search was an idle one. The end of the world
was not for mortal eyes to see. At last the king believed him and sailed
homeward. No man to this day has been able to find the far north, the
end of the world.
A LEGEND OF THE NORTH WIND
North Wind likes a bit of fun as dearly as a boy does, and it is with
boys he likes best to romp and play.
One day North Wind saw a brave little fellow eating his lunch under a
tree. Just as he went to bite his bread, North Wind blew it out of his
hand and swept away everything else that he had brought for his lunch.
"You hateful North Wind!" cried the little fellow. "Give me back my
supper. I'm so hungry."
[Illustration: BOREAS, THE GOD OF THE NORTH WIND]
Now North Wind, like all brave beings, is noble, and so he tried to make
up for the mischief he had done.
"Here, take this tablecloth," said North Wind, "and, in whatever house
you stay, spread it on the table; then wish, and you shall have
everything you wish for to eat."
"All right!" said the boy, and he took the tablecloth and ran as fast as
he could to the first house, which proved to be an inn.
"I have enough to pay for lodging, so I'll stay all night," he said
"Bring me a table," he ordered the innkeeper, as he went to his room.
"Ha! ha!" laughed the innkeeper. "You mean bring me a supper."
"No, I don't. I want only a table and that right quick. I'm hungry."
The innkeeper brought the table, but, after the door was shut, he
watched through the keyhole to see what would happen.
"Beans, bread, and bacon," ordered the boy, as he spread out his
tablecloth. On came beans, bread, and bacon through the open window,
whirled in by North Wind. Smoking hot they all were, too, for the dishes
were tightly covered. After supper was over, the boy went sound asleep.
North Wind did not waken him as the innkeeper took the table and the
table-cloth and carried them down-stairs. Next morning the boy was
hungry again, but there was no tablecloth and so no breakfast.
"You are a cheat, North Wind; you have taken back your tablecloth."
[Illustration: TOWER OF THE WINDS AT ATHENS]
"No," said North Wind, "that is not the way I do." But the boy did not
get his tablecloth.
After a time North Wind met him again out under the trees.
"This time I will give you a sheep," he said. "Each time that you rub
his wool, out will drop a gold piece. Take care of him."
The boy ran back and found the sheep at the door of the stable, behind
the inn. He caught the sheep by a strap which was around its neck, and
led it slowly up the stairs of the inn, to the room from which the
tablecloth had disappeared the night before.
As the boy was hungry for his breakfast, he obeyed North Wind's command
and patted the sheep upon its back. A gold piece fell out of its fleece
upon the floor.
"Good old North Wind!" said the boy. "Here's my breakfast and some
hay for my sheep. Come breakfast, come hay," and through the open
window came first a bundle of hay, and then a fine breakfast for the
hungry boy. After breakfast the boy paid for a week's lodging with
the gold piece.
He slept soundly that night with his sheep for his pillow, and the next
night also, but the third morning when the boy awoke, his head lay upon
the floor and the sheep was gone.
Perhaps too many gold pieces had been seen in the boy's hand, for he had
patted his sheep very often.
He accused North Wind again. "You have taken back your sheep. I don't
like you. You are as cold-hearted as you can be."
But North Wind said nothing. He put a queer stick into a bag and
gave it to the boy and told him to go back and lock his door as
tightly as before.
"Talk to the bag," he said, "and guard it as carefully as if there was a
jewel in it."
That night the boy was wakened out of his soundest sleep by screams for
help in his room. There was the innkeeper running about, and that queer
stick was pounding him, first on the head, then on the feet, then on his
back, then in his face.
"Help! help!" he cried.
"Give me back my sheep," said the boy.
"Get it; it is hidden in the barn," said the innkeeper.
The boy went out and found his sheep in the barn and drove it away as
fast as he could, but he forgot about the innkeeper, and, maybe, that
stick is pounding him to this day.
ORPHEUS, THE SOUTH WIND
In the land of Thrace there lived, years ago, one who was called
Orpheus. He was the sweetest singer ever known. His voice was low and
When men heard this voice all anger ceased, and their thoughts were
thoughts of peace. Even wild animals were tamed.
Orpheus went into the woods one day and took nothing but his harp with
No quiver of arrows was on his back, nor hunting spear at his side.
He sang and sang till the birds flew down on the ground about him, and
seemed to think that a creature with such a voice must be merely another
kind of bird.
[Illustration: ORPHEUS. Showing his broken harp]
A wild cat came creeping slyly between the trees, trying to catch the
little feathered listeners. Orpheus took his lute and played upon it,
and the wild cat became as tame as the birds. They all followed Orpheus
farther into the forest.
Soon, from behind a rock, a tiger sprang to attack the wild cat. The
birds and the wild cat called to Orpheus. When he saw the trouble he
took his harp again, and while he sang the tiger came trembling and
purring to his feet and the birds, the wild cat, and the tiger followed
Orpheus still farther into the forest.
He sat down by a tree to rest and the bees came and showed him where
their honey was hidden in the tree. He fed his friends, and then he and
the tiger led the way to a river where there was the purest water.
Tall trees bent low before him, and young trees tore themselves from the
ground and followed in his train.
Foul waters parted so that Orpheus and his band might pass through
unharmed; they knew no longer any evil thing.
Before they reached the river of pure water, to which the tiger was
leading them, a lion, fierce with anger, sprang madly at his old enemy.
Orpheus took his harp and played so wonderfully that the pine trees
sighed with sorrow, and the lion, loosing his hold on the tiger,
followed the sweet singer of Thrace. At the river the birds, the wild
cat, the tiger, and the lion drank together with Orpheus, with not one
thought of hurting one another.
"We are tired," said the birds. "Let us stay here by this river," and
Orpheus agreed. The birds flew to the trees, while the others tried to
rest on the huge rocks by the shore, but these were jagged and rough.
They would give no rest to any one.
Then Orpheus began to play, and the hardest rocks were stirred. They
rolled over and over into the river, and in their places the softest
beds of white sand were ready for all. Orpheus rested, with the lion and
the tiger for his night-watchers, and the wild cat asleep in the tree
with the birds.
In the morning the harp sounded again, and the strange company wandered
away, happy to be near the music. The three wild beasts fed together on
the river grasses and forgot that they had been life-long enemies.
Orpheus had said, before he came into the wood, that he was tired of men
and their quarrels; that wild beasts were easier to tame than angry men;
and so he found it during these two days in the forest.
He took his harp and played and sang a sweet, wild song of love and
peace, and overhead the leaves and branches of the oaks danced for joy
of living. Not one growl, not one quarrel was heard where even the
echoes of the music went. The very rocks answered the voice of Orpheus,
and everything was at peace.
Then came the sound of the hunting dogs. The lion raised his shaggy
head, but put it down again. Savage light came again into the eyes of
the tiger and of the wild cat. The dogs came nearer. Orpheus played on
his lute and the dogs came and lay down at his feet, and the hunters
went home without their prey.
That night Orpheus led the birds and beasts all back to the places
where he had found them, and went home to live once more in his cave
For years hunters told, over their camp-fires, strange stories of a
tiger and a lion who lived together in the deep forest; of a wild cat
with eyes like a pet fawn; and of birds whose songs were so sweet that
wild beasts grew tame as they listened.
Sometimes, even in these days, it seems as if Orpheus were
When the wind stirs, there comes sweet music. The pine trees sigh, the
leaves and branches of the forest trees dance as in the days when
Orpheus first went into the woods of Thrace.
When the south wind blows, earth's voices become low and sweet, and the
birds sing soft melodies to greet its coming.
Old books tell us that Orpheus was really the south wind itself.
THE LITTLE WIND-GOD
"What is it in the thermometer that shines so, mother?"
"Oh, that is quicksilver, Ethel. See the line of silver run up the tube
while I hold it in my hand."
"Quicksilver? I should think it was quick! See it run back, now the
tube is cool. But father called it something else the other night.
What was it?"
"Oh, yes; he called it mercury, my dear. It is named after one of the
gods the Greeks used to worship, their swift wind-god, Mercury. We read
of him in many old stories. He was so quick that he became a messenger
boy for the other gods."
"Oh, I like those old myths. Tell me about Mercury. I am going to
name my dove after him, for it takes messages for me. Tell me a long
"Well, my dear, Mercury is also the name of the planet that will soon be
our evening star. And, Ethel, if I tell you this story now, you must
tell it to me sometime when we watch his beautiful namesake in the sky.
Will you try to remember it?"
"Oh, yes, indeed, I'll remember. I love the stories about the stars. It
makes them seem so real. I know Venus and Jupiter, and Mars with his red
eye, and now I am going to have another friend among them. Oh, I am glad
I asked about that quicksilver," and Ethel settled down on a footstool
at her mother's feet.
This is the story Mrs. Brown told Ethel:
"In the days when the earth was young, a little baby lay alone in its
cradle in a beautiful cave in a mountain side. This baby was Mercury.
His mother had left him because someone had called her away for a
moment, but for some reason she stayed an hour.
"As soon as she had gone, this wee baby turned over, lifted his head,
and, seeing the door of the cave ajar, put out his hand. Touching the
sides of the cradle, he sprang out like a boy ten years old. Slipping
through the doorway, Mercury ran quickly down to the river bank near his
home. A river tortoise was in his way. His tiny toes tripped over it and
he fell. Vexed to be stopped by such a slow, clumsy creature, Mercury
dashed it on a rock and killed it. Then he threw it into the river and
watched the fish feed on its flesh. It seemed but a minute before the
empty shell drifted to his feet. Mercury picked it up and felt sorry for
what he had done.
"'I will make this shell live forever,' he said. 'I do not mean to be
cruel to earth's creatures.'
"Quick as a thought he bored nine holes in each side, and taking the
lacings from his tiny sandals, he split them and strung them into the
holes in the shell.
"Drawing his little hand across the strings, there came the sweetest
sounds, and the first harp on earth was made. He was so pleased that he
hid it under his white dress until he came to some thick reeds by the
river, and there he laid it safely away.
"Running swiftly homeward, he came softly through the narrow opening,
back into his own room, and, creeping into his cradle, he cuddled down
and went to sleep."
"Why, mother, he was so little! Only a baby; how could he?"
"The old myth says he was only three days old when he did this, but
remember, this is like a fairy story, and Mercury was the son of the
great Jupiter. But let me tell the rest. When his mother came back,
she was frightened to think he had been alone an hour, but he was
sleeping so sweetly when she looked at him that she felt he had not
been harmed. The mother never dreamed when she saw the open sandals
that he had been away."
"But the harp, mother; didn't she ever find that?"
"No, you know the little rogue had hidden the harp in the reeds by the
river. Another day he ran away and got into worse trouble than he
expected, for he dared to steal some of Apollo's cattle. They were
beautiful snow-white creatures, feeding in the violet meadows of the
sky. As he saw them drifting slowly toward him, the mischief in him made
him drive these gentle creatures into the sea, and, being tired and
hungry, he tore the last one to pieces and fed on it.
"Though this mischief-maker walked backward to his home, trying to
deceive any who would hunt for him, Apollo found him out. When the
sun-god saw him lying there, a helpless baby in a cradle, Mercury almost
made him think that he had not done the wrong. But at last even
Mercury's mother believed him guilty, for the proofs brought were many,
and Apollo came to take him away. Then the little wind-god took from
under his cradle-clothes the harp which he had hidden there, and
breathed upon it. Apollo was charmed by the melody and could only say:
"'Give me that, and I will not ask for my stolen cattle.'
[Illustration: MERCURY. From a statue in Florence, Italy.]
"That was just what Mercury wished. He quickly handed him the tortoise
shell. In Apollo's hands it made still sweeter music, for everything
Apollo did was best.
"So nimble Mercury was free. When the child was a few months older,
Apollo chose him for his messenger. He gave him a cap with wings at
either side, and winged sandals. In his hands he always carried a winged
wand with two serpents crossed and recrossed upon it. You have surely
seen his picture, Ethel?"
"Oh, yes. Down at the art store there is a little statue of him. I can
remember, this story always."
THE VOICES OF NATURE
Vanemuine, the god of song, dwelt on the Hill of Taara. But he grew
tired of living in Finland and of his beautiful hill, so he sent word
for all things to come to him to receive the language they were to speak
before he went away to his palace in the sky. As they gathered around
him, he opened his lips and sang so sweetly, so softly, that the murmur
of his harp strings seemed almost harsh as compared with the music of
his rich voice.
The wandering winds who listened afar off caught and remembered only the
loudest tones. The sacred stream that flows so softly around the Hill of
Taara chose for its language the rustling of the silken garments which
moved upon his shoulders as he played.
The listening trees of the forest heard the rushing of his flowing
mantle as he descended from his throne on the crest of the hill; and
ever since, this has been the language of the tree-tops. If one will sit
on the mossy bank of a little brook near by a full-leaved forest, he may
even now fancy that Vanemuine is come again to earth.
Some of the larger creatures took up the deeper tones of the heavy harp
strings, and their language is now full of these sounds. Others loved
the melody of the lighter strings, and this softer music is ever in
In his great joy Vanemuine sang songs never before heard on the earth,
and the listening nightingale caught their meaning, never to forget.
When you hear the nightingale pour out its song in the dusk of evening
hours, you hear an echo of the song the nightingale heard upon the
Hill of Taara.
Vanemuine sang of love and of the beautiful springtime. The happy lark
heard and understood, and the sweetest tones of the song she sings over
and over with each returning morning. As she soars higher and higher
into the clear air, she sings her song, trying to tell the whole world
of the love and beauty of which she heard so long ago.
While everything else was being made so happy, the poor fishes were
having a sad time. They could not leave the water to go to the Hill of
Taara, but they stretched their heads out of the brooks and rivers to
their very eyes, yet kept their ears under. So they saw Vanemuine, the
song-god, move his lips, but heard nothing, and they did as he did and
made no sound. To this day the poor, dumb fishes move their lips, but
speak no language.
Only the men and women who stood close around the Hill of Taara
understood everything that was sung. That is why human voices more than
any others can thrill us and make us see the beautiful and true.
Vanemuine sang of the glory of heaven and of the beauty of earth. He
sang of the flowing waters and of the rustling leaves. He sang of the
joys and the sorrows that come to all people, to children and parents,
to the rich and to the poor. If we listen to the songs sung to-day, with
open ears and expectant hearts, we may hear all that Vanemuine sang so
long ago upon the Hill of Taara.
When Vanemuine's songs had been heard by all the world, he rose on the
wings of the winds and went far into cloudland to his golden palace in
the sky. There he still sings his wonderful songs for those who are
greater than mankind.
To this very day the people of Finland think they can sometimes hear
Vanemuine's voice when the forest trees sigh in the wind, or the water
in the river softly laps against its rocky shore. Perhaps--who
knows?--we may hear him, too, if we listen well!
A BAG OF WINDS
"Oh, Grace, do see that man with all those little balloons! Don't they
look like a bunch of big cherries?"
"Yes, they do, Carrie, but cherries are all of one color, and some of
his balloons are red and some are blue. Oh, here is one that has burst.
See, it is only a little rubber sack that was once full of air."
"That makes me think, Carrie, of a story I read the other day about a
bag of winds. It was about the King of the Winds and his kindness. It
was this way:
"Once a man named Ulysses was sailing over a great sea, and he came to
an island. He and his sailors were so tired and hungry that they
stopped for food and rest. The King of the Winds--his name was
Aeolus--was very kind to them, and they feasted for fifteen days; then
they had to go forward on their journey again. King Aeolus thought so
much of Ulysses that he told him that he would see that he had good
sailing weather all the way home, if Ulysses would promise to take
charge of what he would give him.
[Illustration: ULYSSES. Making an offering of wine.]
"King Aeolus went alone to the great cave in the mountains where he kept
the four strong winds and some of the weaker ones. He pounded on the
door with his heavy key to let them know he was there, and that they
must wait his call. Then he unlocked the door and let out the strong
East Wind, but caught the others in a great bag made of a whole ox-hide.
This he tied with a stout cord, and the East Wind took it on his
shoulders and carried it to the boat that was about to sail.
"Then King Aeolus told Ulysses how to fasten it to the mast, and the East
Wind had great frolics with the queer bag in which were his brothers.
"King Aeolus told Ulysses never to sleep unless his faithful watchman was
guarding this treasure. Ulysses thanked him and promised faithfully.
Such beautiful weather had never been known before for so long a time.
The East Wind had no one to quarrel with, and the boat flew like a bird
for nine long days.
"The captain grew weary the tenth night and went to sleep while his
watchman was off duty. That was just the chance the sailors wanted.
Slyly up to the mast crept a strong sailor, thinking he would cut down
this treasure which he thought was gold. As soon as the string snapped,
he found out his mistake, and so did everyone in the boat.
"The mighty North Wind felt the loosening strings and rising from the
corner of the ox-hide bag, into which he had been thrust, rushed past
his brothers and escaped first into the open air. The West Wind came
after, screaming hoarsely, while the South Wind, roused to anger by
such rough treatment, whistled fiercely as his brother, North Wind,
grappled with him. The clouds were twisted into curious shapes as the
winds wrestled above the sea. The strong East Wind strove to drive
back the West Wind, but found that nine days of rest had given his
brother great strength, and the waves rose like mountains under their
feet. For seven hours the winds fought, while the waters were black,
for not one star dared to watch the battle. The boat of Ulysses was
tossed like a seaweed, and the sailors longed for the sunlight that
they might see if the storm had taken anyone from the ship. When the
light came and the fury of the winds grew less, it was found that not
one sailor had been lost; not even the traitor who had cut down the
bag. His punishment was to live.
"The boat drifted back to the land of King Aeolus, and Ulysses begged
for help. 'I cannot help you,' he said. 'You have done this by your
carelessness, and you must now toil at the oars, as before, while I seek
my lost winds.'
"When the winds were tired with their roaming, they came back and were
willing to be led to their cave, but the stout ox-hide bag was lost, and
King Aeolus never made another."
ECHO, THE AIR MAIDEN
"Grace, you should not try to have the last word. It is a bad habit to
get into. Shut your lips and run into another room if you can't stop
yourself by any other means."
"Why, auntie, what a funny way to cure me! But I don't see that I need
any such thing. Johnny was in the wrong and he knows it."
"You see, you are having the last word now. Do you remember what you
heard out by the great rocks the day of the picnic?"
"Oh, that echo! Wasn't it perfect! I said, 'come here,' and it
answered, 'here,' just as plainly as one of the girls, and we talked
with it ever so long."
"Can you call it answering, Grace? Think what it really did."
"Oh, I know now, but I don't like to tell, because--because it seems a
little as you say I do."
"Yes, Grace, and I am going to tell you a story about the very first
echo. Please try to remember it and shut your lips and run away whenever
you feel like having the last word. Will you, dear?"
"I'll remember the story, anyway," said Grace, as she cuddled down on a
footstool at the feet of her aunt.
"This is a sad little story," said her Aunt Kate to her, "and I'm glad
it is only a story.
"The first echo was a pretty girl who had only one fault--she would talk
too much. She not only talked too much and sometimes, I fear, too loud,
but when others tried to say a word, she would begin again and try to
outdo them. She loved to tease and to vex people. Still, she was so
beautiful that no one could bear to punish her.
"One day Queen Juno came down to earth (you see, Grace, this is one of
the old myths) and saucy Echo dared to torment even her. Juno had left
her throne in the sky to search for someone Echo knew.
"'Where is he, Echo?' Juno asked.
"'Is he Echo? Oh, no, I am Echo. Did you want me?' the saucy girl
"'How dare you do it?' Juno said.
"'Dare you do it? Oh, yes, I dare do anything. Tell me what to do.'
"'You have dared too much already, silly child, and for punishment you
shall lose the use of that tongue of yours, except for the one purpose
of answering back. You shall still have the last word, but never again
shall you speak first.'
"Just then Iris, Juno's maid of honor, came with a shining car drawn by
two peacocks, and away they both went over the rainbow bridge back to
"Echo in her sorrow ran and hid herself in a cavern.
[Illustration: From the cover of a drinking cup. Echo is seen in the
branches. Pan is sitting on the rock.]
"She wandered from cave to cave and rock to rock, always answering back
when those who tried to find her called, but never able to tell where
she was. She grew thinner and thinner, till at last nothing was left of
her but her voice.
"That she will always keep, and try as hard as you may, you can never
have the last word with Echo."
IRIS, THE RAINBOW PRINCESS
Queen Juno was the wife of Jupiter, the great king. She lived with her
husband in one of the cloud palaces of the sky, lighted by the moon and
stars at night and the sun by day.
Juno had many followers who were ready to do her bidding, but she loved
best of all her beautiful maid of honor, the princess Iris. No one dared
to use the rainbow but Iris, to whom it had been given by Jupiter.
Whenever Iris was in haste to obey Queen Juno's orders, down from the
palace she would sail in a chariot drawn by two peacocks, and if she
wished she might ride all the way over the rainbow.
[Illustration: IRIS. From an ancient fresco.]
Think of the beautiful Iris, wrapped in a fleecy cloud, gliding over
this wonderful path in the heavens! Wouldn't it have been a lovely
sight to see?
Once Juno sent her all the way to Dreamland to bring to Halcyone,
the daughter of Aeolus, a dream of her husband, who was far away on
Iris loved to help poor mortals, and tears filled her eyes when she
heard how this lonely woman longed to see the one she loved so well.
The clouds caught the tears from the eyes of Iris, and quickly made
ready for her the glorious rainbow bridge, reaching from Dreamland to
the wonderful Garden of the Gods.
She wrapped herself in a cloud chosen from the sunset and, stepping into
her chariot, gave the signal to her birds and drove swiftly down, down
to the dim country of the King of Sleep.
Before she could reach the entrance to his palace, she had to drive
through field after field of poppies, red as the sunset she had just
left in the sky, for poppies give sleep to the people of Dreamland.
Somnus, the King of Sleep, lived in a deep, still cave, so dark that he
had never seen the rainbow or the sun. There was no gate; soft black
plumes and curtains served as doors. Here in the heart of Dreamland Iris
saw all about her strange, beautiful dreams.
There were dreams for children of toys and candies and plays; dreams for
men and women of all that they had ever wished for; dreams, dreams,
everywhere. But Iris did not like darkness any better than you and I do,
and she quickly gave an order for the King of Sleep to send the best
dream possible to the anxious Halcyone. Then back she drove over the
rainbow bridge, up, up to the bright palace in the clouds.
[Illustration: THE HEAD OF IRIS. From a frieze on the Parthenon.]
As soon as she had left the rainbow's track it faded away, but, even
before it was out of sight, a dream of her husband had come to Halcyone,
and Iris was happy.
Iris loved the water best of all things on earth. She always wore a
chain of raindrops for pearls, and a cloud for a robe. She had an army
of soldiers by each river bank. Men called the soldiers plants, but
their swords were always drawn for Iris, and their stately heads were
adorned with her favorite colors.
When you see a group of plants clustered at the water's edge, with their
sword-like leaves pointing to the sky, and their great blue flowers
looking like a crown, remember that is the flower Iris loved.
THE THUNDER-GOD AND HIS BROTHER
Tiu, Ziu, or Tyr, were three names for one of Woden's sons. Tiu was
the brother of Thor, and his mother, Frigga, was always proud of his
courage in war and of his skill and strength in battle. The soldiers
of the Northland cried to him for help as often as they did to his
Tiu's sign was a sword, and the brave old kings of Norway and their
followers used to engrave his name upon their bright steel blades that
they might please the great warrior who lived in Asgard. It was
thought that if Tiu saw his name written in the strange Runic letters
he would give his help to the man who honored that name and keep his
good sword sharp.
Thor and Tiu went, in the olden time, to the house of a giant to secure
a large kettle which was in the giant's house.
Thor's goats drew with magic swiftness the chariot in which the two
rode, and Thor and Tiu arrived at the house in a few moments.
The giant's wife hid the two huge visitors under one of the many
caldrons she had in her kitchen. When her husband came he broke all the
kettles but one by just glancing at them. He welcomed his visitors in a
very grim way and ordered them to be seated at the table with him. Thor
ate so much that the giant grew angry, but Thor told him he would repay
all by bringing him fish from the sea the next day.
Thor caught two whales and carried them to the giant's house, as he had
promised. The giant laughingly said that he would give him one of the
kettles if he could carry it. Tin tried twice and failed, but Thor,
putting on his magic belt, lifted the kettle and set it on his head
like a cap.
Then the goats took the two sons of Woden back to their home in Asgard.
If anyone should tell you that the giant was winter, and his kettles the
strangely shaped icebergs of the arctic North, would you believe it?
Thor was the god of thunder riding in the clouds with his brother, the
god of bravery and of the strong winds.
Tiu's name has been given to the day before Woden's day, and when
Tuesday comes, try to be as true, brave, and swift as Tiu, the
son of Woden.
NEPTUNE, KING OF THE SEAS
"Mother, when papa came back from South America, he told us a queer
story about the sailors dressing up in masks. What holiday was it? And
what did they do it for?"
"That must have been, Charlie, when the ship crossed the line, or the
equator, as you call it in the geography class. I remember his telling
about King Neptune and his trident."
"What did the sailors do, mother?"
"Why, one dressed to represent Neptune, a famous ocean god, and the rest
masked as his followers. They were given presents by the passengers on
the ship, and it was a grand holiday."
"But who is King Neptune, and where does this ocean god live, mother?"
"People used to believe that Neptune was really king of all the waters
on the earth, Charlie. Doesn't that seem strange? I'll tell you a story
that I heard about Neptune and some of the other gods whom the Greeks
used to worship. Perhaps you will find more stories about him sometime."
"Wait a minute, mother, till I get that easy chair for you. Now we are
ready to begin."
"Once on a time, Juno, the wife of Jupiter, while watching from the sky,
saw some ships on the sea beneath her.
"After looking closely, she found they were the seven ships of Aeneas,
who was trying to reach the land of Italy and was now only a few miles
from its shore.
"Juno, for reasons of her own, did not want Aeneas to reach the land.
Knowing something must be done in the shortest possible time she went to
King Aeolus and asked his help. She promised him all manner of beautiful
gifts if he would only send his winds against the ships of Aeneas.
"King Aeolus knew he was doing wrong, but he would not refuse Juno. He
went to the mountain cave where he kept the storm winds, and, taking his
heavy war spear, burst open the massive door of the cavern and let all
the mad crew out at once.
"The storm they made was terrible. Great waves like mountains came
sweeping over the land, carrying trees and everything away.
"The ships of Aeneas were only playthings in such a hurricane, and the
winds seemed to know for what they had been let loose.
"The great cables that fastened heavy anchors to the ships were snapped
like stalks of corn. The winds roared like wild animals. The sky was as
black as night, and great waterspouts went whirling by like huge tops
set spinning by the blasts.
"One fierce wind blew against the ship of Aeneas and overturned it.
"A whirlwind caught three other ships and tossed them lightly on the
great rocks, on the shore. Another whirlwind sent three more ships into
the terrible quicksands and they were swallowed up.
"Aeneas, swimming in the water, saw around him his trusty sailors
clinging, like himself, to broken planks and pieces of timber. All about
them floated concave shields, outspread mantles, and overturned helmets.
Treasures, too, in the shape of precious home gifts, and robes covered
with jewels, drifted past them.
"But the only thing anyone wanted then was life, and it seemed as if the
winds and waters were ready and able to destroy every man of them.
"Aeneas called to Neptune, king of the seas, and Neptune heard him and
came riding up out of the bottom of the ocean.
"He held his golden-maned horses firmly in check, while his voice roared
over the waters, asking:
"'What is this, you winds, that you dare to trouble earth and sky
without leave from me? Who let you free from your rock prison?'
"The waves were afraid and quieted down. The clouds scattered like
naughty children caught in mischief. The winds flew home and, hurrying
back into their cave, blew the door tight-shut with a bang. Then
everybody waited to see what King Neptune would do.
"He ordered some of his ocean train to pry the three ships off the
rocks, but they could not, and he had to help them with his trident, or
three-pointed spear. Then King Neptune opened the quicksands and the
other three ships sailed out on the water again.
"Neptune knew Aeneas was a brave man and always quick to answer a call
for help, so the boat of Aeneas had been taken care of first, and he and
his men were put back safely into it.
[Illustration: A GREEK COIN. Made about 510 B.C. representing Neptune,
or Poseidon, as the Greeks called him]
"King Neptune, seeing everything was quiet again, showed Aeneas a
beautiful harbor where he and his sailors could rest. The brazen-hoofed
steeds that drew Neptune's chariot were tossing their heads and growing
restive. So Neptune called his followers, and in a flash they all
disappeared into the depths of the sea.
"Jupiter, ruler of the sky, praised Neptune for his skill in checking
the furious winds and maddened waves, and Pluto, ruler of the center of
the earth, said he was proud to call him brother."
"Well, that must have made King Aeolus ashamed of himself. Don't you
think so, mother?"
WHY RIVERS HAVE GOLDEN SANDS
Once a poor peasant named Gordius thought he would give himself and his
family a holiday in the city. He had no horses, but his yoke of oxen
could draw the heavy wagon very well. He fastened them to his cart and,
putting in his wife and boy, climbed in himself.
When near the city, the capital of Phrygia, he thought it would look
better for him to walk and drive his oxen. This he did. As he approached
the city he heard a great noise in the marketplace. He hurried his oxen
to find out what it was all about. He had to jump into his wagon to
avoid the crowd that was following him, and so drove to a great oak in
the public square.
Such a welcome as this poor countryman had!
"Here comes our king!" was the cry from everyone. "We were told he
should come this day in a wagon drawn by oxen, and here he is!"
Gordius could not believe what he heard. But the chief men brought the
crown and put it on his head and declared him king, and he agreed to do
his best to deserve the honor.
The oak near which he had stopped was in front of a temple. Gordius gave
away his oxen and, taking a heavy rope, tied his wagon with a tremendous
knot to the oak. The priest came out and declared that whoever in times
to come should be able to untie that knot would be king of all Asia. No
one ever did untie it. But Alexander the Great came to Phrygia many
years after and, failing to untie it, he took his sword and dealt the
rope such a blow that one stroke cut through the magic knot.
A short time after he left Phrygia all Asia owned Alexander the Great as
king, and maybe that was the way the knot was to be undone. Anyway, he
did not give it up, and that is a good thing for us to remember. Cut the
Gordian knots if they will not be untied.
The little boy who rode in the wagon with Gordius was Midas. After his
father Gordius died, Midas was chosen King of Phrygia. He was kind and
just to the people, as Gordius must have been, or they would not have
chosen his son Midas to be their king.
[Illustration: Silenus Holding Bacchus. From a statue in Rome]
One day while Midas was king some peasants found an old man wandering
about in the woods. The forest was strange to him and he had lost his
way. Midas knew him as soon as the peasants had brought him to the
king's palace. It was Silenus, a teacher whose fame had gone through all
the world. Midas treated Silenus with the greatest respect. For ten days
there was feasting and games in the palace in honor of Silenus. On the
eleventh day Midas took him back to the house of his greatest pupil.
This pupil was more than mortal, so the story goes. His name was
Bacchus. Midas told him all about the finding of Silenus, and Silenus
told all about the pleasant time he had at the king's palace. Then the
wonderful Bacchus told Midas he might have anything he should wish for
as a reward.
Now Gordius, his father, had always wished for more money, though he had
been made king and there was more gold for him and his good queen to
spend than you would think he could manage. Midas, too, had wished for
money. Yet all his life, since that lucky wagon ride, Midas had seen
riches and jewels enough to make him grow tired of such things. But, no;
when Bacchus asked him what he would have, Midas said, "Let everything I
touch turn into gold."
If you had been there and could have had your choice, what would you
have wished for? Can you tell? Never wish for anything quite so foolish
as King Midas did, for see what trouble it made him.
After making the wish, King Midas leaped into his chariot to return
home. As soon as his feet touched the chariot floor, it turned into
solid gold. The reins in his hands became gold. He returned to his
palace and the people thought it must be Apollo come to earth,
everything was so glorious. His wife met him in the palace halls. One
touch and she was turned into a golden statue. No help, no rescue! Midas
went out into his garden and reached for the fruit that hung on the
trees. Nothing but gold after he had touched it. Gold, gold, gold! How
he hated the sight of it! His food and drink were gold. His friends, his
home, even his pillow was cold hard gold.
In a few hours he raised his arms, glittering with cloth of gold,
in prayer, beseeching Bacchus to take his gift away. Bacchus was
kind and said:
"Go to the river Pactolus, find its fountain head, plunge in, and when
your body is covered your fault will be washed away."
Poor King Midas did just as he was told. When he touched the water the
strange power went into the river. The river sands changed into gold,
and to this day grains of gold are found by the river Pactolus.
After that, Midas lived in the country and dressed as plainly as the
poorest peasant. He was so thankful to be free from his terrible gift
that he never wanted anyone to remind him of the time when everything
he touched turned to gold. But even in the country, the yellow plums,
pears, and apples reminded Midas of the fruit he had touched in his
In autumn, when golden leaves are falling everywhere and the grain is
waving in the field, one may fancy King Midas is in our own land.
OLD GRASSHOPPER GRAY
"O, grasshopper, grasshopper gray,
Give me molasses and then hop away."
That is what Bessie Allen said to the little creature she held between
her thumb and fingers. Did you ever say that rhyme? I should not wonder
if you had said it an hundred times.
The grasshopper in Bessie's fingers seemed very ready to give her brown
molasses from his little mouth and then she let him hop away while she
went to catch another. She did not want that molasses; all she wanted
was the fun of catching the little "hoppity-hops," as she sometimes
"Come, catch me! I'm a hopper," called her five-year-old brother Willie.
And she saw the little fellow hopping through the grass.
Bessie had so much fun trying to catch this new "grasshopper gray," that
she forgot all about the little creatures she had been pinching.
At last she had her arms around her brother Willie.
"Now you are caught," she said. "Give me some molasses."
And then they both laughed so hard that their mother heard as she came
to the door to look for them.
That night their mother said to their father:
"I have a new name for Willie."
"What is it?" asked their father.
"Tithonus," said their mother.
[Illustration: AURORA, THE GODDESS OF THE DAWN. From a painting on an
"When I was in school one of my lessons was about the beautiful goddess
Aurora. She was said to open the rosy gates of dawn with her own
fingers, so that the wonderful horses of Apollo might pass through to
follow their shining track through the sky. She was so beautiful that
Tithonus, who lived on the earth, always watched for the sunrise, that
he might see Aurora. After a while she began to watch for him, too. She
looked down every morning on the wakening world and found that he was
almost the only one among mortals who enjoyed the glorious colors Apollo
painted in the sky with his arrows of light. One morning she dared to
sing to him, and then he answered that it was Aurora, and not Apollo,
for whom he was watching each morning at sunrise. She loved him for this
and became his wife.
"Being a goddess, she could live for ever, and she wanted Tithonus to
live forever, too. The gods and goddesses never drink wine or water, but
ambrosia from golden goblets. She brought a golden goblet of ambrosia to
Tithonus on the earth, and, after he had taken a drink, told him the
happy news that now he should live forever. But she had forgotten to ask
of the gods for him the gift of eternal youth.
"For many years they loved each other dearly. Then Aurora saw that
Tithonus was growing into a little old man.
"When he was one hundred years old he was shrunken to the size of a
boy of ten.
"When he was two hundred years old he was no larger than a baby, only he
was very lively, and could run as fast as a man.
"When he was three hundred years old Aurora could scarcely find him,
save as his song told her where he was. With his head bent down to the
ground he did not look like a man, and he made his home by the dusty
roadside. But every sunrise he sat upon the tallest spear of grass he
could find and chirped to Aurora as she opened the gates of dawn for
Apollo. After years and years Aurora forgot all about the little gray
grasshopper, but I don't think Tithonus has forgotten her, for he and
all his grasshopper friends chirp the same song as when he first came to
live among them."
"Poor old Tithonus!" said Bessie.
"Why, no," said her father; "mother said he could never die. Maybe it
was Tithonus who gave you molasses to-day. Yes, perhaps that was
ambrosia instead of molasses that the gray grasshopper dropped from
"Oh, don't tell any more!" laughed both Willie and Bessie. "We won't
catch another grasshopper."
WHERE THE FROGS CAME FROM
You see the sun every bright day, don't you?
And you see the moon every moonshiny night.
Now, listen, and I'll tell you a story about their mother. No, not about
their mother, but about the mother of the god of the sun, and of the
goddess of the moon, whose names were Apollo and Diana.
It is about Apollo's and Diana's mother this story is to be.
Once when they were little twin babies their mother was in great
trouble. She had to wander around and around, and get food and drink
wherever she could find them.
One day she went to a pond for water, for the people in the houses were
cross and would not give her any.
And just think of it! These people, careless about soiling their green
coats and white vests, ran down to the pond ahead of her, jumped in and
stirred the water so that it was black with mud.
And they called out, "Come and drink, Latona! Come and drink water, pure
and sweet, Latona!"
[Illustration: LATONA. Fleeing with her children]
This the cruel people did until Latona and her babies were so tired and
thirsty they could wait no longer.
"Why do you abuse us?" she said; "you have plenty of water in
your wells. Can you not see how these poor babies reach out their
hands to you?"
But the rude people were jealous of the beautiful woman and her lovely
twins, and only stirred the water till it was blacker, and cried the
more, until they were fairly hoarse:
"Come and drink! Come and drink!"
Latona put her two babies down on the warm grass. Then she looked
straight into the blue sky, and raising her hands said:
"May you never quit that pond in all your lives, neither you nor your
The story is that Jupiter heard her, and that these cruel people never
came out of the water again. They grew very small; their green coats and
white vests turned into skin, and their children wear to-day the same
kind of suits their parents wore that day they waded into the pool.
Though they have the whole pond to themselves, they croak away until
their mouths have grown wide and ugly, as mockingly as did their
forefathers at Latona.
"Come and drink!" But who wants to drink out of a frog pond?
Little heathen boys, who believed this story, used to pelt frogs with
stones, and there are some boys now who act just like those foolish
THE BIRDS WITH ARROW FEATHERS
There is an old story that tells how a man named Jason went on a long
journey in search of a golden fleece.
He fitted up a great boat, and the bravest and strongest men of his
country offered to go with him.
[Illustration: JASON. Putting on his sandals. From a Greek statue.]
They had no ships like ours, in those days, and when the sails were not
filled with wind, every man took an oar, and, with twenty oars or more
on each side, the boat was made to move through the waves very swiftly.
The heroes in Jason's boat had all won fame before they started out on
this voyage, and many were already warm friends. There was the great
Hercules, and Orpheus, the sweet singer; Castor, who could tame the
wildest horses, and his twin brother Pollux, who was the greatest boxer
the world has ever seen, or perhaps ever will see.
[Illustration: CASTOR, THE HORSE-TAMER; POLLUX, THE MASTER OF THE ART
OF BOXING. From a Greek coin.]
These and many others sat side by side in this boat, which Jason called
the Argo. Many strange things happened to them on their voyage after the
golden fleece. One was when they were attacked by birds. They saw many
new countries also, and one day the Argo sailed by a very strange island
where nearly all the people lived underground. These people never plowed
their land with the strong oxen, nor planted seed, nor reaped harvests.
They had no flocks of woolly sheep, nor herds of cattle.
All day long they worked away under the surface of the earth, digging
and digging at great black stones they found there. Then they sold these
stones or rocks to people in other countries, and so bought bread for
These people, with their black faces and grimy hands, left their work
for a little while when someone told them of the beautiful boat that was
in sight. They looked very strange to those in the ship, for no one in
the land from which the Argo came worked under the ground. In that happy
realm everyone lived in the sunshine and worked in the open fields. But
after a while the Argo sailed away from this home of the underground
people and on beyond. Suddenly the sky was darkened and great flocks of
giant birds flew thick and fast above them. Then the wind changed and
the frightened rowers had to take the oars.
The sky grew black as night. Down shot a feather from one of the birds.
It struck one of the rowers on the left shoulder and he dropped his oar,
for the pain was like a spear-thrust. Down sped another arrow feather,
so pointed and sharp that another rower who was hit had to drop his oar.
Thicker and faster came these arrow feathers upon the bare heads and
naked shoulders of the men at the oars.
The best archers shot back at the birds with their sharpest-pointed
arrows, but not a bird was harmed.
"What shall we do?" shouted the men still at the oars.
"You will never kill those birds," said one who had seen their
feather arrows before. "All that you can do is to cover your heads
and let us, who are too badly hurt for rowing, help cover your
shoulders with our shields."
Then those at the oars put on their shining helmets; those who did not
row held up the great war shields over them. The boat looked as if it
had a roof. Down on the helmets came the feathers, so sharp that many of
them made holes in the shining metal. Down on the shields they pelted,
till it seemed as if the sky was raining drops of lead. The birds
themselves came no nearer. But oh, their feather arrows were enough to
frighten even these bravest of men.
The rowers worked as hard and as steadily as they could, and after a
while they were out of reach of the terrible feathers.
The strange part of it all was that they never could find one of those
sharp-pointed arrows with which the birds had shot them.
When the sun came out they were in a safe harbor. They looked and
looked, but not a feather was to be found. One man declared that he knew
the feathers were white.
"But the birds were black," said all the rest. "How could the arrows be
white when even the sun was darkened by the black-winged creatures?"
How the dispute was settled I do not know, for the sharp-pointed
feathers had melted all away, like hailstones from dark storm-clouds. It
is certain, however, that the men never found any of the arrows with
which they had been shot.
WHY THE PARTRIDGE STAYS NEAR THE GROUND
Daedalus was a skillful workman in many ways. One of the first things he
did to make himself famous was to build a maze. It had so many winding
walks and crooked paths that anyone who walked in ten steps without a
guide never could get out unaided.
He built this maze for his king, but before many years he offended the
king in some way and was locked up in a high tower. In the roof of the
tower were hundreds of doves, and as they flew back and forth,
"My king rules the land and the sea, but not the air. I will try that
way of escape."
So he set to work to make wings for himself. He shaped two great frames
and covered them with feathers. The largest plumes he sewed on with
thread, and the smaller ones he fastened with wax.
Icarus, his son, stood and looked on, catching any of the feathers the
wind tried to blow away. He troubled his father much, however, by taking
the wax and making little balls, which he tossed about the room.
The keeper of the tower thought the wise man very silly to spend his
time making blankets of feathers, Daedalus never let the keeper of the
tower see how he curved and pointed the corners of his frames. The
keeper told how foolish the wise man had grown from being shut up so
long; how he spent his time gathering feathers to make great blankets.
The people pitied him, not knowing that this very punishment was giving
Daedalus another chance to make himself famous.
One dark night Daedalus fastened the broad wings to his shoulders, and
jumping from the window found he could sail like a dove, but he could
not carry his boy. Back he flew and, folding his wings, slipped into the
window. Now he must make a pair for Icarus.
[Illustration: DAEDALUS AND ICARUS MAKING THEIR WINGS. From a bas-relief
Soon this second pair was done, but the little fellow had to be taught
like a young bird how to use them. Many a time if Daedalus had not
caught him on his own great wings, Icarus would have gone tumbling heels
over head, down, down to the foot of the tower.
Finally, Icarus, too, could sail like a pigeon, and if the night had not
been so dark it would have been great fun to see these two new birds fly
out of that tower window.
Keeping their wings so close to each other that they almost touched,
they flew away over houses and fields. Before the sun came out, Daedalus
told his boy to be careful to keep near him. "Don't fly too near the
sun, for the heat will melt the wax, nor too low, for the damp will wet
the feathers. Keep close to me."
When the morning dawned they saw the men plowing in the fields stop work
to look at them. Shepherds left their flocks and ran miles to see where
those strange birds were going. No one could tell who they were. It was
grand to be so free and to fly so swiftly.
An eagle saw them and flew near. They felt the breeze from his powerful
wings, and swifter went their own. The eagle, frightened, turned and
mounted toward the sun. Icarus forgot his father's warning and followed.
Daedalus flew on and on, thinking his boy was beside him. Up, up went
Icarus swifter than the eagle and swept proudly past him toward the sun.
The next instant he felt his wings loosen and droop.
Just then, Daedalus, who was miles away, turned his head, for he heard
the boy call him.
"Icarus, Icarus, where are you?" his father shouted. There was no
answer, but the mass of feathers in the blue sea below told the story.
Flying down, Daedalus searched till he found the body, and, tenderly
laying it in the earth he wept that he had ever thought of wings.
The land where this happened was wild, and only savage beasts lived in
it, so Daedalus flew away to Sicily. There he built a temple and on its
walls hung up his wings forever.
He became so proud of his own success that he believed no one else
could invent anything. He was willing, though, to teach others all he
knew, and sister, living near, sent her son, Perdix, to him to learn
what he could.
This boy was quick to see, to hear, and to learn, and he could invent
One day when Daedalus was slowly cutting through a log with an ax, the
boy showed him how much quicker he could do it with a saw he had made.
No one had ever heard of a saw before, and Daedalus was angry.
"Who told you how to make this?" he asked.
"I brought home yesterday the backbone of a great fish cast up by the
sea, and I made this like it, but of iron; that is all," said Perdix.
Another time Daedalus was trying to draw a perfect circle. Thirteen
times he tried and failed.
"Take my irons, if you will not be angry with me," said Perdix, and he
handed him a pair of compasses.
Here again was something no man had ever seen. But Daedalus, instead of
being proud of his nephew, was angrier than before.
"You will be claiming that you are greater than Daedalus, who first
sailed through the air, ungrateful boy," said his uncle.
"I have only tried to help you," answered Perdix.
Not long after this, when the two were in a tall building, Daedalus gave
Perdix a push that sent him headlong toward the ground. The goddess
Minerva, who loves learning, saw him falling and changed him into a
partridge before he touched the earth. Unlike Daedalus, he has always
kept his wings.
Perdix, the partridge, builds his nest low on the ground and stays in
low branches. Perhaps he is afraid he may not be saved from another fall
if he goes again into high places.
JUNO'S BIRD, THE PEACOCK
"Oh, isn't it a pity the peacock doesn't know that he can't sing? Why
doesn't he stop that fearful screeching?"
Little Katie put her hands over her ears to keep out the sound.
[Illustration: JUNO AND HER PEACOCK. From an ancient fresco]
"You know the peacock was once an animal that hasn't a very sweet
voice," said Jack.
"No, I don't know, but Charlie Green's pet donkey makes a better noise
than this bird. There, I am glad he has stopped."
"Shall I tell you a story?" asked Jack.
"Once upon a time a donkey felt that he was much abused just because his
coat was rough and his face and shape were so homely; so he begged of
Jupiter to make him into something beautiful. In a short time he was
changed into a peacock and, looking down upon his fine feathers, began
to sing. But, oh, the trouble he was in then! He had forgotten to have
his voice changed, too, and it was the same old donkey voice that he had
"That's a funny story, Jack. It seems to me that mother told us that a
long time ago."
"Then I know another story of how the eyes came into the peacock's
"You are a queer boy, Jack. Those eyes were always there."
"Oh, no, they were not, Kate. You watch the young peacock chickens,
and I'll prove my story, or part of it, anyway. Don't you remember
that at first they are a dull brown, and then, when they are about a
year old, they begin to show a little green? They are three years old
before the eyes begin to show in the feathers. You are a queer girl to
"Well, tell your story, and I will see if it is a good one." So
"Argus was a watchman. His great eyes were like green balls, but with
fifty little eyes in each. Yes, he had a hundred eyes, and never more
than two went to sleep at once. He could see even better in the night
than in the daytime, so he was a fine watchman.
"Once Argus was told to watch a certain prisoner who could not be shut
in a room, but had to be left in a field. Not once was he to lose sight
of this prisoner. If he did, every one of his hundred eyes would be
taken from him.
"Day and night Argus watched, never sleeping except with two eyes at a
time. He was as faithful as fifty soldiers.
"But he loved music, and the friends of the prisoner knew it. So they
sent some one to him who could play upon the harp and sing, thinking
that perhaps Argus might be charmed to sleep.
"This player's name was Mercury, and he was so quick that some thought
he wore wings on his feet. If he did wear them, he could take them off
when he liked, for he was just a plain shepherd in a sheepskin coat and
sheepskin sandals when Argus saw him.
"If he had come with a spear, or with bow and arrow, Argus would have
been ready to keep him out, but Mercury was too bright for that.
"No, he was just a plain shepherd, and he sat down in a field near the
one Argus was in, to watch his sheep. While he sat there, he played such
sweet music that Argus said, 'Bring your sheep into my field and we will
"That was just what Mercury had planned. So he was not very long in
getting his sheep into the field with Argus. There the two lay in the
shade of the trees and told stories, and Mercury played and watched the
green eyes of Argus, while Argus watched the prisoner.
"One night Mercury played so softly, so sweetly, that for one minute
every one of the hundred green eyes of Argus closed, the watchman
nodded, and in that minute Mercury struck him on the neck and cut off
his head. Then the prisoner was free. Juno took the green eyes of Argus
and put them on her pet bird, the peacock."
"Oh, Jack, I don't believe a word of it."
"I don't, either," said Jack, "but these stories are both more than two
thousand years old, and I shouldn't wonder if some one did believe them
a long time ago."
THE GIFT OF THE OLIVE TREE
"Has everything a name, father?" asked a wide-awake boy one day.
"Everything I know of has a name," answered the father.
"What is the name of this stone, then?"
"The name of the stone you have just picked up happens to be granite."
"I believe you made that up, father, just because I asked you so
quickly. Really is it granite? Has a rock a name?"
"Why, certainly, my boy. It seems strange that a boy of ten does not
know granite when he sees it."
"But you lived in the country, father, when you were a boy, and I
have been here hardly a month. Oh, here is another kind of stone;
what is this?"
The father cracked the bit of rock so as to get a fresh surface and
"Common white quartz, Harold. You are giving me easy specimens, which is
lucky for both of us."
"Why, father, where did you learn all their names?"
"I don't know all their names. I know only the most common ones. To find
the names of some kinds of rock or stone I should need quite an outfit,
such as you may have seen in the high-school laboratory."
"Do all the flowers have names, too, father?"
"Harold, if you could find a flower that has not been named you would
become quite famous. The flower probably would be named after you. Think
of that! There is something to work for; and you were wishing only last
night that you could be a famous man."
"Where did all the flowers get their names? Did the teachers name them?"
"Oh, I suspect the teachers named some, and many people helped them. I
don't believe I ever stopped to think that it is curious that everything
on the earth and in the sea and in the sky is named. You are a very
thoughtful boy, Harold. Ask all the questions you please."
This praise from his quiet father made Harold happier than anything in
the world. He was silent a moment, but then asked:
"Have the stars names, too, father? I mean all of them. I know those
large ones have, for you told me."
"Yes, Harold, every star has a name of some kind. Some of them have only
a letter or a number. But that answers for a name, you know."
"And all the animals, and all the birds, and all the beetles, and all
the--everything! I'll have to go to school just all my life!"
And then Mr. Hadley laughed aloud.
"To-day, father, in the geography class, I learned about many cities,
and there are more in the large geography. Do you know how any of the
cities got their names?"
"What country were you studying about to-day, Harold?"
"It was about Greece, and some of the cities had such long hard names
that I can't remember them. Oh, yes, now I remember Athens. Why, father,
you were there once, for I have heard you tell about Greece; and one of
the pictures in the parlor is named 'In Athens.' Do tell me something
about the place, for I can't make it seem like a real city like New York
"Do you like olives, Harold?"
"Yes, indeed, I do, and you like olive oil. Oh, of course, olives grow
in Greece. I couldn't think what made you ask such a queer question. Now
tell me about Greece, won't you, please? Is it a beautiful country?"
"Yes, and I'll tell you a tale of the sea, of olives, and of Athens, all
in one. You remember that beautiful head of Minerva, which is near my
book-shelf, do you not? Minerva has another name. She is often called
Athena. She was known to the ancient people of Greece as the goddess of
wisdom and learning. Can you remember the name of the king of the sea?"
[Illustration: ATHENA. From a Greek statue.]
"Neptune, father. You have his picture, too, haven't you?"
"Yes, Harold, but now you must learn the name by which the Greeks called
him. It was Poseidon. The story goes that Athena and Poseidon were each
very anxious to name a certain city in Greece.
"Jupiter said that he would let the one who brought the greatest gift to
the people have the honor of naming the place. And then such strife
began as you can hardly imagine. Poseidon put his wits at work and
called together all his friends for counsel. At last his gift was ready
for the day on which they were to appear before Jupiter.
"Minerva, as she was the goddess of wisdom, needed no such help as
Poseidon had asked and received. Her plans were ready in a moment and
she was waiting for the great day.
"When that day came all the people of the nameless city gathered
together to see what was to be brought them. As they were seated on the
side of mountain, on the top of which stood Jupiter, King Poseidon
appeared on the plain before them, leading a wonderful black horse. It
was covered with gold armor. It pawed the ground and stamped with its
hoofs, and looked like the leader of a grand army. The people shouted
and would have declared for Poseidon without waiting for his rival, but
Jupiter quieted them.
[Illustration: MINERVA. From a Roman statue.]
"Then the goddess came forward on the plain. She was beautiful, tall,
stately. She seemed to be holding something very small in her hand. She
opened her hand before the people and commanded a gardener to dig a hole
in the earth at her feet. Into this hole she dropped the small something
which was in her hand. As soon as the earth was over it, tiny leaves
came out. Then it grew instantly into a tree covered with silver-gray
leaves. Its trunk grew larger and larger. It seemed to touch the skies
It was filled with fruit. She showed them how to extract the oil. She
showed them how to use the fruit.
"The horse neighed and pawed, and Poseidon laughed at the woman's gift.
'Here is war, glory, and power!' he cried.
"'Here is life, peace, and plenty!' said the goddess.
"'The city shall be named Athena' came from Jupiter on the mountain top.
"And so the city of Athens was named and the people loved Athena for her
gift of the olive tree."
THE LINDEN AND THE OAK
Two grand trees stood on a hill near a lake. One was an oak with wide
branches. The other was a linden.
"Man and wife," the people called them, and when asked why, said,
"Because it is true. Once they could walk around and talk. Now they
stand there side by side forever. But you can hear them whisper to each
And if asked, "Who were they?" even the little children would say, "Why,
Philemon and Baucis."
Many children had these names in those days, and knew the story of the
two trees well, for there were none like them anywhere else in the land.
It was said that these two people who lived in such strange form were
once a poor old couple, and their home was a wretched house in the
valley. Simple, honest, and quiet, they had little to do with their
One evening two strangers walked into the village, and stopping at the
first house to ask for food, were sent away in a hurry.
"We work for a living and have nothing for those who don't. Go away."
They were told the same at the next house, and at the next, all down the
street. Tired and hungry, they neared the cottage where Philemon and
"I will try here," said the shorter of the two strangers. The other
But before they reached the door, Philemon came to meet them. And Baucis
placed the best chairs for them as they entered, first spreading over
the chairs pieces of cloth she had woven.
"You are hungry," she said, and she went to the fire-place and uncovered
the few coals she had saved in the ashes for her morning fire. On these
she put sticks and dry bark, and with all her little strength, blew hard
on them, and the fire began to burn.
On a hook over the fire she hung a small iron kettle, and getting ready
the beans her husband had brought in from their little garden, she put
them in to stew. All this she did eagerly, as if the strangers were
invited friends. While his wife set the table, Philemon brought a bowl
of water for the guests to bathe their hands. As one leg of the table
was too short, Baucis put a flat shell under to make it level with the
rest. Tired and trembling, she set out a few rude dishes. They were her
best. She added the pitcher of milk Philemon had bought for their own
meal, and when the beans were cooked, everything was ready. For dessert,
she had apples and wild honey.
Drawing a bench to the table, she laid on it a thin cushion made soft
with dried seaweed, and then called the strangers. The smiles and gentle
welcome of the two old people made the meal seem like a feast.
The strangers were very thirsty, but each time Baucis poured out a cup
of milk the pitcher filled again.
"You are people from the skies, and not men!" the old couple cried, and
fell on their knees and begged the strangers to forgive them for their
"Why did you come to us? Others could have done so much better."
"You have done the best you could; who could do better than that?" said
the tall one. "Come with us," and he led them to the top of the hill.
Then he stretched out his hand toward the village, and they saw it sink
down, down out of sight, and the river came rushing in, and the place
was a lake. Nothing could be seen but the house they had just left. It
stood on the shore of the lake. Its timbers were growing higher and
higher, and the yellow straw that thatched the roof changed to shining
gold. It was now a beautiful temple.
"Ask of me anything you wish and I will give it to you," said the tall
"I know now you are Jupiter," said Philemon. "Let us take care of your
temple while we live, and when it is time for us to leave it let us go
together. Let not one be taken and the other left."
Philemon and Baucis cared for the beautiful temple for years. Feeling
old and weary, they went to the top of the hill one day to say good-by
to all things. As they stood there they saw each other change, one into
this oak and the other into this linden.
"Good-by," they said together, as the bark grew up over their lips.
No tree has so strong and true a heart as the oak, and in the leafy
linden hundreds of birds sing and are happy.
THE LITTLE MAIDEN WHO BECAME A LAUREL TREE
Cupid was a beautiful little boy. Between the wings on his shoulders he
always carried a quiver full of tiny arrows. Bow in hand, he started out
every morning ready, like any boy, for mischief. One day he came to
drink from a fountain with some thirsty doves who were his friends.
Apollo saw the little fellow and, to tease him, asked:
"What do you carry arrows for, saucy boy? It is for great gods like
myself to do that. My arrow shot the terrible python, the serpent of
darkness. What can _you_ do?"
"Apollo may hit serpents, but I will hit Apollo," said Cupid, and taking
out two tiny arrows, one of gold and one of lead, he touched their
points together and then shot the golden one straight into Apollo.
Quick as a flash of Apollo's sun-crown, Cupid shot the other, the leaden
one, into a river cloud he saw floating by. In it he knew Daphne, the
daughter of the river, was hidden. The leaden arrow hit her true, but
she drifted away on the swift breeze.
Apollo, the sun-god, can see through everything except fog and mist, but
as Daphne fled he caught one glimpse of her face, and Cupid laughed to
see how his arrow did its work. His arrows never kill; sometimes,
indeed, they make life happier. Apollo now loved Daphne more than
anything else on earth. Daphne was more afraid of him than of anything
else in the sky.
On flew Daphne, hoping her misty cloud would hide her till she could
reach her river home. On flew Apollo, begging her to stop for fear his
arrows might hurt her. His great arrows of sunlight must do their work
even if his friends should perish by them.
As they neared the river he saw her face again. She sank on the river
bank. She was faint and he would comfort her but she cried to her
father, the river, "O father, help!" The earth opened, and before
Apollo could reach her he saw her waving hair change into glistening
leaves. Her arms became branches. Her skin changed to dainty bark, and
her face to a tree-top whose pink flowers show, even yet, the beauty of
Daphne's cheek. Apollo reached out and gathered the leaves and made
them into a crown.
[Illustration: DAPHNE. Changing into a laurel tree. From an old painting]
"This tree shall be called laurel, and it shall be mine," he said. "I
cannot grow old and the leaves of this tree shall be always green.
Daphne has won the race against Apollo, the wreath of these leaves shall
be her gift and mine to the bravest in every race. Kings and captains
shall be proud to wear it."
Apollo hid his face for days behind dark clouds. Heavy rains fell. The
immortal gods cannot weep, but these great drops seemed like tears for
Even saucy Cupid mourned, and he did not dare go out till the storms
were over, for fear Apollo's grief would spoil his wings.
In cold northern lands you can find Daphne's tree in greenhouses among
the roses and lilies. And if you ask for Daphne, the gardener will point
her out, for he calls the tree by her name.
THE LESSON OF THE LEAVES
In a cave by the seashore lived an old, old woman. This very old woman
was also very wise.
She remembered everything that had ever happened and she knew almost
everything that was going to happen in her country.
She lived in Italy and was called the Sibyl.
One day a man named Aeneas came to her cave to question her. She was
very kind to him. She even took him far down into the center of the
earth, Pluto's kingdom, to see those whom Pluto had carried away.
When they came back, Aeneas said he would build a temple to her and have
gifts brought to her. She had so much power and was so wise he felt sure
she must be more than mortal. But she would not let Aeneas build the
temple. Instead she told him her story. It was this:
"Apollo saw me when I was young, and told me to ask him for any gift I
would have. We were standing on the seashore. I stooped down and filled
my hand with the white sand at our feet.
"'Give me as many birthdays as there are grains of sand in my hand, O
Apollo!' I said.
"'It is granted,' said Apollo. But, in my foolishness, I forgot to ask
for everlasting youth.
"When one hundred grains of sand had slipped away from the glass in
which I placed them all, I was old. My youth was gone.
"Seven hundred grains have slipped through now. I have counted the rest.
I shall yet see three hundred springs and three hundred harvests; then
the Sibyl will be no more. My body has shriveled. Soon I shall be only a
warning voice to the children of men, but I shall live till the grains
are gone from that glade. While my voice lasts men will respect my
sayings. As long as I live, I will strive to help the human race."
Aeneas went with her into the cave. The leaves were thick on the floor.
The Sibyl picked them up and wrote with an eagle's quill on each.
She let him read as many as he wished. He found some of them were
warnings to his friends. Some were for people he had never seen. The
Sibyl placed them in rows on the ledges of rock inside the cavern.
A fierce wind blew into the cave and carried the written leaves away.
"Save them, O Sibyl!" cried Aeneas.
[Illustration: A SIBYL. From a Roman statue.]
"My work is to write, Aeneas. I am no man's slave. If he wishes his leaf,
he must come for it before the wind takes it away. There are thousands
of leaves not written upon yet. But no man may have a second leaf. He
must be here on time."
"One leaf, one life!" said Aeneas. "I see your meaning, O Sibyl, and go
about my work. My ship shall sail to-day. Each day shall bring me nearer
my journey's end, and when I reach my home the leaves on my forest trees
shall teach me your lesson over again. I will rise early each day and be
the first in all things. Even the winds shall not be quicker than I am
in the work it is my duty to do. Farewell."
Here is another story which is told of the Sibyl. It shows that she
could write on something beside leaves.
She appeared one day at the king's palace gate with a heavy burden on
her back. The keeper let her in.
With a guard on either side the Sibyl was shown into the presence
of the king.
The burden proved to be nine large books closely written. She offered
them for sale at an enormous price. The king refused to pay it. The
Sibyl only smiled and threw three of the books into the open fire. The
king had wished to own those three, for he knew that future events were
written in them.
"I have now six books and the price is the same as for the nine. Does
the king want them?" The king hesitated. While he was thinking what to
do, the little old woman threw three more into the fire.
"I have now three books and the price is the same as for the nine. Does
the king want them?" And the king said, "Yes," without a minute's
waiting, and took the books.
The little old woman vanished. Her thousand years were nearly gone, but
her voice was still heard when people visited her cave.
The king searched the three books and found that all things concerning
his city, Rome, were foretold in them for hundreds of years. Perhaps
many wars and troubles would have been saved if he had bought all the
books instead of only three.
It is usually best to decide a matter quickly when one knows that
nothing can be gained by waiting.
THE LEGEND OF THE SEED
Once upon a time the earth was so very young and the people upon it so
pure and good that they could hear the morning stars as they sang
together. It was during the Golden Age, as it is now called, that one
morning in the early springtime a little group of girls were playing
together and gathering wild flowers.
One of these girls was named Proserpina. She was the merriest of them
all, though her dress was of the plainest brown. Her little feet danced
everywhere and her little fingers seemed to touch the flowers as lightly
as the butterfly that flitted by her.
Carelessly she danced close to a great opening in the ground. Looking
down she saw a yellow daffodil growing on the edge. Leaning over to pick
it, she felt herself caught by her dress, and the next minute found
herself sailing far down into the earth through the great crevice. She
was in a chariot drawn by black horses, which were driven by a driver
who seemed to be both deaf and dumb. He neither answered when she
pleaded with him to take her back, nor even seemed to hear her.
The girls who were left gathering wild flowers had missed
Proserpina almost the moment she was out of sight, but no one knew
what had happened.
"Come back! come back!" the girls called, but no answer came up from the
great opening or from the forest near them. Only Echo marked their cry
of "Proserpina, oh, Proserpina, come back!" "She has vanished," the
girls whispered. "I always felt as though she had wings beneath that
plain brown dress she wore," said one.
"But who can tell Queen Ceres, her mother?" they asked one another.
No one could go alone, so they all went together to Queen Ceres and told
her what had happened.
[Illustration: CERES. From a painting in Pompeii.]
The good queen wept bitterly. That day she laid aside her regal robes
and began her search for Proserpina. Up and down the world went this
royal mother seeking for her lost daughter. At last she came to the land
of King Celeus. When Ceres reached his land she was so ragged and poor
that she was glad to earn money by taking care of the king's baby son.
As nurse to the little prince, Queen Ceres was almost comforted.
Because she was the goddess of the wheat and the fruits, the crops upon
the land of King Celeus, while she was there, were very wonderful. In
the land near Mount Aetna, where Proserpina had been lost, no rain fell
and no corn nor apples grew.
Juno sent Iris down to earth to beg of Ceres to give rain to the
suffering people of her own home. Ceres said no rain should fall till
Proserpina came back to her mother. One day as Ceres was weeping by a
fountain her tears fell into the springing water, and, as they did so,
she heard a silvery voice:
"Why do you grieve, Queen Ceres?" said the water sprite or nymph.
"Proserpina, my beautiful daughter, is gone from me," said Ceres. "I
have sought everywhere on the earth for her. I cannot find my daughter."
"Listen to me," said the voice from the fountain. "I have seen her. She
is not on the earth; she is in the earth. She is in the palace of King
Pluto, who rules below. I saw her as I ran with a river through Pluto's
kingdom. She longs to come back to you."
Queen Ceres was like a stone for a time after she heard the story told
by the murmuring waters of the fountain.
Proserpina alive and longing for her! It did not seem true, but she
would know soon. Taking back the little prince to his mother, she hid
herself in a forest, called for her chariot, and, when it came, drove
straight to the top of Mount Olympus, where Jupiter sat on his
She begged of him to command his brother Pluto to return her
daughter to her.
"It is granted on one condition; that is, that Proserpina has never
tasted food nor drink since she has been beneath the earth."
Mercury, the wing-footed messenger, and Flora, the goddess of Spring,
sought the center of the earth to bring back Proserpina to Ceres.
Pluto loved his stolen prize as much as Queen Ceres did; and, being
unhappy because she refused to eat, succeeded at last in making her
taste one of the beautiful pomegranates that are both food and drink.
Even while she was tasting it Mercury and Flora stood at Pluto's gate
with the command to return her to Ceres. What was to be done? Mercury,
quick-witted as well as quick-footed, decided that if she dwelt with
Ceres for half the year and with Pluto the other half, Jupiter's
commands would be satisfied. This proved to be as Jupiter wished.
So, arrayed in shining green, Proserpina swiftly set out with Flora and
Mercury to find Queen Ceres. Ceres saw her the minute her bright head
appeared above the brown earth and knew her through her disguise. You
remember when Proserpina was taken she wore a plain brown suit.
They lived together, the mother and daughter, through the bright spring
days and the warm summer weather. When autumn came Proserpina donned her
brown suit again and Pluto claimed her. There, in his underground realm,
she reigns all the cold winter months. She is happy now because Queen
Ceres is happy. The mother knows that when spring breathes over the
earth again Proserpina will come back to her.
Can you guess who Proserpina is? You have seen her a thousand times.
Yes, and when you see her next you will say how strange that the Greeks
could tell such a story of only a little brown seed.
THE GIRL WHO WAS CHANGED INTO A SUNFLOWER
Years ago there was a beautiful girl who lived near a large garden. This
girl's name was Clytie. She had wonderful golden hair and big brown
eyes, and she was tall and slender.
Clytie stood in this large garden one day, watching her pet doves as
they flew about in the sky, when she caught a glimpse of the sun chariot
of Apollo. She even had a glimpse of Apollo himself, as he guided his
wonderful horses along their course, which was the circle of the
heavens. There were many fleecy clouds in the sky, and one had veiled
the burning sunlight from the eyes of Clytie, or she would never have
been able to see the sight, which only the eyes of Jupiter's eagle may
endure and not become blind.
After this the foolish girl went every day into the garden and, staring
up into the sky, tried to see Apollo once more. Every day for more than
thirty days she went into the garden. Her mother often told her that she
would make Apollo angry, for he shines brightly so as to hide himself
from people on the earth.
"Clytie! Clytie!" her mother would call, "come in and take your sewing."
[Illustration: APOLLO. From a statue in Rome.]
But Clytie never would obey. Sometimes she would answer:
"Oh, mother, let me stay. He was so beautiful. I have no heart
Apollo saw the foolish girl day after day and he became out of
patience with her.
"Mortal maidens must obey their mothers," he said, and a burning
sun-arrow fell on Clytie's bright head.
Such a strange change came upon Clytie from that moment. Her brown
eyes grew larger. Her golden hair stood straight out around them, and
her pretty clothing changed into great heart-shaped leaves which clung
to a stiff stalk. Her feet grew firmly into the ground, and the ten
little toes changed into ten strong roots that went creeping
everywhere for water.
When Clytie's mother called again no answer came and she found, in going
into the garden, a flower in place of her child.
And now Clytie always stares at the sun all day long. In the morning her
face is toward the east, and at night it is toward the west.
Did you ever think that the sunflower was once a lovely girl?
WHY THE NARCISSUS GROWS BY THE WATER
Down in the heart of the woods there was a clear spring with water like
silver. No shepherds ever brought their flocks there to drink, no lions
nor other wild beasts came in the night time. No leaves nor branches
fell into it, but the green grass grew around it all the year, and the
rocks kept it from the sun.
One day a boy hunter found it, and, being thirsty, he stooped down to
drink. As he bent he saw, for the first time in his life, his own fair
face, and did not know who it was.
He thought it must be a water fairy, and he put his lips to the water,
but as soon as their touch disturbed the surface, away went the
shadow-face from out of his sight.
"Nothing has escaped me yet, and here I shall stay till this
curly-haired creature comes out of the water," he said. "See its shining
eyes and smiling mouth!"
He forgot his hunt, he forgot everything but to watch for this water
sprite. When the moon and stars came out, there it was just the same
as in the sunshine, and so he lingered from day to night and from
night to day.
He saw the face in the water grow thinner day by day, but never thought
of himself. At last he was too weak to watch any longer. His face was as
white as the whitest lily, and his yellow hair fell over his hollow
cheeks. With a sigh his breath floated away, his head dropped on the
green grass, and there was no longer any face in the water.
[Illustration: NARCISSUS. From a painting from Pompeii.]
The fairies came out of the woods and would have covered him with
earth, but, looking for him, they found nothing but a lovely flower,
gazing with bended head into the silver spring, just as the boy
hunter had done.
The fairies told the story to a little child, and she told it to her
father and mother. When they found this spring in the heart of the woods
they called the flower growing beside it Narcissus, after the boy hunter
who had perished watching his own face in the silver water.
THE LEGEND OF THE ANEMONE
Just see the basketful of anemones we got down in the glen! They were as
thick there as they could be. We picked and picked and it didn't seem to
make a bit of difference, there were so many left. Aren't they lovely?"
"They are dainty little flowers, boys. Where did you say you
"On the low land in the glen by the brook. There were great trees on
both sides of the glen, and it was so still the little brook and the
waterfall sounded as loud as a big river. How we wished you were there!"
"What else did you find besides the windflowers, or anemones, boys?"
"Here's a little moss and a few blood-root flowers, and Will Johnson
carried home a big bouquet of wild bleeding-hearts."
"That makes me think, Charlie, of a myth there is about the first
"A myth? What is that, mother? Oh, I know, John," said Charlie; "it is
one of those stories that people used to believe just as we used to
believe in Santa Claus. He's a myth, you know, and now you please keep
still and maybe mother has time to tell us about the first anemones. I
"This is a hunting story, so I know you will like it, boys.
"But just think of hunting with bow and arrows and spears! Would you
"Yes, yes!" shouted both the boys.
"Well, years ago in the Golden Age when the world was young there lived
a Greek hunter whose name was Adonis. He was tall and straight and
handsome. His friends thought it a great pity that he should spend his
time in the woods, with only his dogs for company. Away he would go day
after day with his arrows at his back and his spear at his side. His
dogs were fierce and would attack any creature. His horse was as brave
as he. His friends begged him to wait till he was older and stronger
before he went into the deep forests, but he never waited. He had killed
bears, wolves, and lions. Why should he wait?
[Illustration: ADONIS AND APHRODITE (Aphrodite is the Greek name
"But the wild hog is fiercer than the tiger. One spring morning while
hunting in the forest, Adonis wounded two. Leaving his dogs to worry one
while he killed the other, he got off his horse, and, running, threw his
spear at the hog. Its thick hide was tough and the spear fell to the
ground. He drew out an arrow, but before he could place it in the bow,
the ugly beast had caught him with its horrid tusks.
"He tore away and, bleeding at every step, bounded down a hillside
toward a brook to bathe his wounds. But the savage beast reached it as
soon as he. A flock of white swans that had been drinking from the
brook, rose on their strong wings and, flying straight to their
mistress, Venus, told the story.
"Back they brought her in her silver chariot, sailing so steadily
that, from the silver cup of nectar she brought with her, not a drop
"'Adonis! Adonis!' cried Venus.
"There was nothing but drops of blood on the grass to tell her where he
had been. It was all that was left of the handsome hunter.
"Venus sprinkled some of the nectar on these drops and, in an hour, tiny
flower buds showed their heads. Then she drove sadly home. Soft winds
blew the tiny buds open, and at night blew them away. So people called
them wind-flowers, or anemones. And they believe that the pink and
purple which colored them came from the heart of Adonis."
"But why didn't tiger-lilies or some other big and showy flowers come,
not these pretty little things?"
"I don't know, John; go and ask Venus."
Baldur, the youngest brother of Thor, was called The Beautiful. His
thoughts were so kind and his ways so pleasant that all who lived in
Asgard, the home of the Norse gods, loved him.
Baldur's days were the happiest of all in Asgard, but when he slept his
dreams were so strange that his nights were often unhappy.
He feared danger. So Frigga, his mother, who was the wife of Woden, went
to the sea and made it promise that no water should drown Baldur.
She went to the stones and made them promise not to harm her son.
Everything promised to let no evil come upon Baldur the Beautiful.
Iron and all the other metals, rocks, and trees all promised. Birds,
beasts, and creeping things all agreed to help and never to hurt
Frigga's youngest son.
Woden, his father, went to ask a wise old woman what his son's dreams
meant. She was dead, and Woden had to go to the center of the universe
to find her. She gave him what help she could, and Woden and Frigga felt
that now nothing could hurt their child.
The other gods that lived in Asgard knew that Baldur was safe from
all harm. But to prove this and to have a little fun among
themselves, they would sometimes use him as a mark at which to throw
their spears or darts.
Setting Baldur in the middle of the ring, these gods of Asgard would
each throw something at him.
If a stone struck him it would only glance off and never hurt. No arrow
could pierce his skin. Nothing harmed him, and Baldur would smile as
they played their rough play, for he knew that no one of them would work
him any ill.
But Loki was different from all the others in Asgard. He could not
endure to have Baldur so loved, and wished that some one could harm
him. At last Loki dressed himself up as an old woman and went to
Frigga's palace. Kind Frigga took the old woman by the hand and brought
her into Fensalir.
Loki, in the shape of the old woman, pretended to be very friendly.
"Do you know what the gods are doing to Baldur when you are not by?"
"Yes, they are proving that all things have kept their promise not to
hurt my boy."
"What!" said the old woman, "have all things promised not to hurt
"All things," said Frigga. "All but one little plant that grows on the
eastern side of Valhalla. It is called the mistletoe. It is so weak and
small that I did not ask it to join with the others. I thought it could
harm no one."
The old woman left Fensalir. In a few moments Loki appeared on the
eastern side of Valhalla and plucked a bit of mistletoe from an old oak
that shaded Woden's palace. No one saw him, for he was as sly as a fox
and as tricky. Hiding the mistletoe in his hand, he hurried back to the
circle of gods who were seated around Baldur.
One god who was blind sat outside the ring.
"Why don't you join in the sport?" asked the wicked Loki.
"I cannot see where Baldur is; and nothing could or would harm anyone so
good," said the blind god.
"I will show you where to sit and you shall have this little sprig that
is in my hand to throw. You must not be left out of the sport because
you are blind," and Loki handed the mistletoe to him.
The others welcomed the blind god to the ring and made him happy by
telling him that Baldur smiled at all of their strokes.
"Let me throw next," said Hodur, the blind god. Loki stood by him and
directed his hand as Hodur threw the mistletoe.
Poor Baldur! The mistletoe pierced his heart through and through. He
fell backward dead.
Hodur was wild with grief. The other gods knew that the treacherous Loki
had done it, and did not blame Hodur. Frigga asked which of the gods
would dare to ride to Loki's home to bring Baldur back.
Hermod, called the nimble, an older brother of Baldur, said he would go.
Woden, his father, told him to take the horse Sleipnir. Sleipnir had
never carried any one but Woden himself. He had twice as many legs as
any other horse. He made eight tracks instead of four.
Hermod mounted Sleipnir and rode fast for nine days and nine nights
until he came to the land of Death, where Loki loved to stay.
Hela, who ruled there, said Baldur might return if all things above
mourned for him.
[Illustration: WODEN ON THE THRONE. Thor on the left, Freya on the
right, holding mistletoe. Loki at the bottom, suffering for the murder
of Baldur. From an ancient bas-relief.]
Hermod rode back and asked all things if Baldur should return. All
begged for Baldur but one old hag, who sat on the side of a mountain.
Everything else wept for Baldur. Tears stood on the rocks about her as
we have seen drops of water on the hardest rock in early morning; the
leaves of the trees shed tears of grief. This old hag refused to weep.
Baldur could not return.
After the test was over, the gods believed that the old creature on the
mountain side was Loki disguised in this way. It must have been the evil
Loki, for nothing else could have been so cruel.
Loki met his punishment at last, but that did not save Baldur the
Beautiful, the golden-haired god, whom his blind brother, dwelling in
darkness, slays again at every even fall.
There is a legend connected with the name of the little blue
forget-me-not which everyone loves so much.
It is said that a boy and a girl were walking by a river that flows into
the Rhine. The girl saw a lovely flower growing just by the water's
edge. The bank of the river was steep and the water swift.
"Oh, the beautiful flower!" she cried.
"I will get it for you," said the boy. He sprang over the side of the
steep bank and, catching hold of the shrubs and bushes, made his way to
the place where the flower grew.
He tried to tear the plant from the earth with both hands, hoping to get
it all for her who was watching him from the bank above.
The stem broke and, still clasping the flower, he fell backward into the
"Forget me not!" he cried to her as the waters bore him down to the
falls below. She never did forget her blue-eyed friend who had lost his
life trying to get her a flower.
"Forget me not!" she would say over and over until her friends called
the little blue flower by this name.
Now these blossoms are called forget-me-nots all over the world. And
whether this story is true or only a legend, the dear little flower
could not have a prettier name.
PEGASUS, THE HORSE WITH WINGS
There is an old myth of a winged horse. Would you like to hear
This wonderful horse was under the care of the nine Muses. These nine
fair daughters of Jupiter taught men all that is known of music, poetry,
history, and the stars. It was said and believed that they helped people
to remember what they taught.
And now even their names are forgotten except by the few who love to
remember the things others forget.
One beautiful summer morning this winged horse appeared at the fountain
of the Muses on Mount Helicon. The laughing Thalia, the Muse of Comedy,
saw him as she dropped from the sky. Dancing Terpsichore tried to take
him by the mane, but the white wings flashed in her face and the
wonderful steed was gone before she had touched him.
Urania, the Muse who loved the heavens, believed that he was from some
Clio, the Muse of History, knew that no such creature had ever lived on
They all watched for his return. The next morning he was seen again at
the fountain; after that he came every day. The Muses named him Pegasus.
"We know that there is a work for all created things. What can his be?"
the sisters asked one another.
Sure enough his work came at last.
In a distant land was a brave young soldier named Bellerophon. He was so
bold, so fearless, and so handsome that those who ought to have been his
friends became jealous of him. That means trouble, you know.
Bellerophon wished to travel. His king gave him letters on parchment to
take to King Iobates of Lycia.
The king did not read the letters for ten days after Bellerophon came to
Lycia. During those ten days there was feasting and dancing in honor of
the new guest.
After the feasts of welcome were over, King Iobates read the letters and
found that the one who sent them wanted Bellerophon punished for certain
misdeeds which people said he had done.
It was a sharp trick to send such letters by the very person who was to
be punished. King Iobates was puzzled as to what to do.
Then some of his wise men told him of the terrible chimera that was in
the west of his kingdom. This strange creature had the head of a lion,
the body of a goat, and the tail of a crocodile. Its breath was flames
of fire, so the peasants said. Nobody dared to attack it.
"Just the thing," said Iobates to himself, and sent for Bellerophon.
"You are the one to rid my country of this terrible monster. Do you dare
to try such a task?"
Brave Bellerophon answered, "I have no fear; my heart is pure; my
strength is as the strength of ten. I will go."
[Illustration: BELLEROPHON AND PEGASUS. At the Fountain of the Muses on
That night he slept in the temple of Minerva, the wise goddess. He
dreamed that Minerva brought him a golden bridle and told him to go to
the fountain of Pirene and find Pegasus.
When he awoke the golden bridle was in his hand.
He went to the fountain and there he saw Pegasus drinking. Bellerophon
held up the bridle and for the first time Pegasus was caught.
The brave soldier leapt on the winged horse's back and Pegasus struck
his hoofs once against the earth, and then sprang lightly towards the
sky. He spread his wings and the nine Muses saw him sailing in the air
with a rider on his back.
"He has found his work," said Clio.
Bellerophon could see over all the land. He found the terrible chimera
and slew it. For all its strange shape and fearful looks, it was not
such a fierce animal as he had feared.
Pegasus took his rider quickly back to King Iobates' palace and then
vanished. He was found the next morning by the nine Muses drinking at
Bellerophon was given another hard task to do when the king found that
he had lived through his first.
Pegasus came at his call, and with his help everything was easy.
But as soon as one work was done King Iobates found another.
Bellerophon suspected nothing, and went bravely out to help his
friend the king.
At last King Iobates said he had nothing more for him to do. After a
time Bellerophon married the king's daughter and lived quietly at
home in Lycia.
Pegasus, the pet of the nine Muses, became so gentle that he would let
them soar to the skies on his back, but no mortal save Bellerophon dared
to touch him.
Bellerophon, having no more great earthly tasks to do, called his winged
steed one morning and dared to attempt to guide him to Mount Olympus,
011 whose lofty top sat the great Jupiter on his throne in the clouds.
Jupiter, seeing him coming, sent a single gadfly to sting the tender
skin of Pegasus. The gadfly dealt a cruel blow and proud Pegasus thought
Bellerophon had dared to strike him.
He reared upon his haunches and sent Bellerophon reeling downward to
earth, the victim of a selfish wish to outdo others. Bellerophon fell
upon a rocky field far from any city. His fall made him both lame and
blind. Separated from his friends he wandered alone, living as best he
could, and it is not known what became of him. His winged steed fled to
the fountain on Mount Helicon, but never again came at his call. He
could not forget the sharp sting of the gadfly.
Some have fancied that those who love the Muses see him even in these
days, and that the flash of his golden bridle is caught by a gifted few
once in each century.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS
In the earlier ages everything in nature had its myth. We have been too
practical and too full of haste in these latter days to listen to nature
or to myths, but let us inspire the children to do so. Who among us has
not regretted his lack of knowledge of some mythical person, in song,
picture, or story?
The greater number of ways in which a truth is presented to the child,
the stronger the impression that truth makes upon him. Music, painting,
sculpture, architecture, and language, written or spoken, have each told
the story of the sun and its glorious power over earthly creatures.
Each nation has its myth concerning the sun's personality. Some may have
adapted or adopted those of other nations; some may have originated
their own theory to explain the origin of the heat and light which come
from the apparent ruler of the skies. The myth is preserved through the
ages, and the child in the school perceives its beauty, while he
understands as well as his teacher its impossibility.
Let the plain scientific truths of the latest researches be given
first. Then the fable, or folklore, or former explanation which once
vouched for the origin of the sun, moon, or stars, or other natural
objects, seems to the children like their own childish fancies about
The story should follow, if possible, a tale or lesson on the subject of
the myth. If the children have already had the scientific truths given
them, then the myth serves as a reminder of facts already learned.
The special directions are merely suggestive. Teachers will supplement
them or substitute others at their pleasure.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE LESSON ON PHAETON.
Secure, if possible, before the reading of the story of Phaeton, a good
plaster cast or marble bust of Apollo, or some reproduction of the
Aurora of Guido Reni. Show a picture of the temple of Apollo, if one can
be obtained; let the children understand how much a part of the life of
the Greek was this belief in Apollo's power and Apollo's beauty. The
child will then begin to understand how much the ancients strove after
beauty in all things.
The Indian, African, and Chinese all have their stories of the origin
of light and heat, and history and geography may assist in this lesson
Sprinkle water on the window sill, and notice its disappearance,
caused by the heat of sunshine or of the room. Ask for the reason of a
similar loss of water in the street, road, or river. What is the sun's
color? What is the color of fire? What is the sun's effect on ice and
snow, on vegetable and animal life? Does it work quietly? Is great
power usually quiet?
Lower the shades in the schoolroom. Why is it dark? Close the eyes. Why
is it dark? What is darkness? What causes dark or dull days? What shapes
do clouds take? Are they ever like horses, cattle, sheep, or swans? Is
the sun somewhere always shining? Are clouds like curtains? Paint or
draw a sunrise or sunset.
Notice a rainbow, when possible, and form one with a prism in the
schoolroom. What colors of the prism are shown most in sunset or
sunrise? Are all shown each time? How many have seen the same colors on
a soap bubble or elsewhere? Mention some other name of the sun, as Sol;
the derivation of Sunday; the effect of the sun on the seasons. Describe
spring, summer, autumn, and winter as persons. Is the sun king of the
hours, the days, the months, and the years? Did the ancients know the
real truth concerning the distance, size, and nightly disappearance of
the sun? Where is the Great Bear? The Little Bear? Do you think the
ancient Greeks really believed the story of Phaeton?
Reproduce it orally after reading.
_Each myth may be developed in a similar way_.
The following list is given as containing many books which will be
helpful for reference or study, as indicating the sources of myths and
the customs of the ancients, and as supplying an extended account of any
mythical person or object referred to in this volume.
While each book is considered valuable, those marked with a star are
especially compact, concise, and helpful to readers who can have access
to but few books, and that by purchase.
GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHS.
"Age of Fable," compiled by Thomas Bulfinch.
_McKay, Philadelphia_ $1 25
"Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography,
Mythology, and Geography." _D. Appleton
& Co., New York_. Half morocco 6 00
"The Mythology of Greece and Rome," with
special reference to its use in art, Oscar
Seeman. _American Book Company, New
"Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature
and Antiquities," edited by Harry Thurston
Peck. _Harper Bros., New York_, 1 vol. 6 00
2 vols. 7 00
"Seiffert's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities,"
from the German of Oskar Seiffert.
_The Macmillan Co., New York_ 3 00
"Makers," by John Fiske.
_Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston_ 2 00
"The Classic Myths in English Literature,"
by C.M. Gayley. _Ginn & Co., Boston_ 1 50
"Myths of Greece and Rome," narrated with
special reference to literature and art, by
H.A. Guerber. _American Book Company,
New York_ 1 50
"The Heroes," by Charles Kingsley. Several
publishers; various prices.
"The Queen of the Air," by John Ruskin.
Several publishers; various prices.
"Myths of Northern Lands," by H.A. Guerber.
_American Book Company, New York_ 1 50
"Norse Mythology, or the Religion of Our
Forefathers," by R.B. Anderson. _Scott,
Foresman & Co., Chicago_ 2 50
"Dr. Wilhelm Wagner's Asgard and the Gods,
a Manual of Norse Mythology," edited by
W.W. Macdowall. _Sonnenshein & Co.,
London, England_ 2 00
"The Hero of Esthonia," and other studies in
the romantic literature of that country,
compiled by W.F. Kirby. _John C. Nimmo,
London, England._ 2 vols. 6 00
"Selections from the Kalevala, the Epic Poem
of Finland." _Henry Holt, New York_ 1 50
This epic is in the same measure as Longfellow's
"Hiawatha," and is interesting to all those
who enjoy that poem.
OLDEST EGYPTIAN TALES.
"Egyptian Tales, Translated from the Papyri."
_Frederick A. Stokes & Co., New York._
2 vols., each 1 50
These tales are interesting from their evident
antiquity and from the insight they give as to
ancient Egyptian customs.
A PRONOUNCING INDEX
The following key explains the symbols which
are used in the pronouncing index to indicate
the pronunciation of the words. It is based
upon the 1900 edition of Webster's International
a- _as in_ fate.
a- _as in_ pref' ace.
a- _as in_ add.
a- _as in_ air.
a- _as in_ far.
a- _as in_ grass.
a- _as in_ all.
e- _as in_ eve.
e- _as in_ e-vent'.
e- _as in_ end.
e- _as in_ her.
i- _as in_ ice.
i- _as in_ i-de' a.
i- _as in_ pin.
o- _as in_ row.
o- _as in_ o-bey'.
o- _as in_ not.
o- _as in_ lord.
u- _as in_ use.
u- _as in_ u-nite'.
u- _as in_ up.
u- _as in_ furl.
u- _as in_ rude.
u- _as in_ full.
y- _as in_ fly.
y- _as in_ pit' y.
oo- _as in_ moon.
oo- _as in_ good.
ou- _as in_ out.
oi- _as in_ oil.
n=ng _as in_ ink.
Silent letters are italicized. Certain vowels, as _a_
and _e_, when obscured, are also italicized.
_Adonis_ (a do' nis). A youth famed for his beauty
and beloved by Venus.
_Aeneas_ (e ne' as). A valiant Trojan warrior.
_Aeolus_ (e' o lus). The king of the winds.
_Aetna_ (et'na). The chief mountain in Sicily and
highest volcano in Europe. It figures in Greek
mythology as the burning mountain.
_ambrosia_ (am bro' zha). The fabled food of the gods,
which conferred immortality upon those who
partook of it.
_Ammon_ (am' mun). The Egyptian Jupiter, or supreme god.
_ancient_ (an' shent). Old; antique.
_anemone_ (a nem' o ne) The windflower.
_Antaeus _(an te' us). The son of the sea and earth, or
of Neptune and Terra.
_Apollo_ (a pol' lo). The god of the sun.
_Ares_ (a' rez). The Greek name for Mars.
_Argo_ (ar' go). The ship in which Jason sailed.
_Argus_ (ar' gus). A mythical person with a hundred
eyes, set by Juno to watch Io.
_Asgard_ (as' gard). The home of the Northern gods.
_Athena_ (a the' na). The Greek name for Minerva.
_Athens_ (ath' enz). A city in Greece.
_Atlas_ (at' las). The giant who bears up the sky on
_Aurora_ (a ro' ra). The goddess of the dawn.
_Bacchus_ (bak' kus). The god of wine.
_Baldur_ (bal'der). Son of Woden and brother of
Thor. The god of summer.
_Baucis_ (ba' sis). The wife of Philemon.
_Bellerophon_ (bel ler' o fon). The son of Glaucus. The
youth who slew the chimera.
_Briareus_ (bri a' re us). A famous giant, fabled to
have a hundred arms.
_Byrgir_ (byr' gir). The well to which Hjuki went for water.
_Cadmus_ (kad' mus). Son of a king of Phoenicia, said
to be the inventor of letters.
_caldron_ (kal' drun). A large metal kettle.
_Castor_ (kas' tor). Twin brother of Pollux, noted for
his skill in managing horses.
_Celeus_ (se' le us). A king of Eleusis, father of
Triptolemus. He gave a kind reception to Ceres,
who taught his son the cultivation of the earth.
_Ceres_ (se' rez). The goddess of grains and fruits.
_chamois_ (sham' my). A small species of antelope of
_chimera_ (ki me' ra). A fabulous monster in Lycia,
which was slain by Bellerophon.
_Clio_ (kli' o). The muse of history.
_Clymene_ (kli me' ne). Mother of Phaeton.
_Clytie_ (kli' ti e). The maiden who was changed into
_Cupid_ (ku' pid). The god of love, possessing eternal
youth, son of Mars and Venus.
_Daedalus_ (ded' a lus). The builder of the Cretan labyrinth.
_Daphne_ (daf' ne). A nymph beloved by Apollo.
_Diana_ (di a' na). Goddess of the moon, twin sister
_dolphin_ (dol' fin). Large sea fish.
_Echo_ (ek' o). A nymph who pined away until nothing
was left but her voice.
_Epimetheus_ (ep' i me' the us). The Titan who made
man and the lower animals.
_fagots_ (fag' utz). Twigs.
_Fensalir_ (fen sa ler'). The home of Frigga.
_forget-me-not_ (for get'-me-not). A small herb bearing
a blue flower, and considered the emblem of
_Frigga_ (frig' ga). The supreme goddess of the Northland,
wife of Woden.
_Gemini_ (jem' i ni). A constellation containing the
two bright stars, Castor and Pollux.
_Gordius_ (gor' di us). A peasant who, by direction of
an oracle, was proclaimed King of Phrygia.
_Great Bear_ (great bear). The name often given to
the stars forming the Big Dipper, or Charles'
_Halcyone_ (hal si' o ne). A daughter of Aeolus, who,
for love of her drowned husband, threw herself
into the sea and was changed into the kingfisher.
_Hela_ (hel' a). The ruler of the land of death.
_Helicon_ (hel' i kon). Famous mountain of Greece.
_Hercules_ (her' ku lez). The most famous hero of
Greek mythology, son of Zeus or Jupiter.
_Hermod_ (her' mod). A hero of Norse mythology,
and a brother of Baldur.
_Hjuki_ (ju' ki). Jack, the boy who went with Bil, or
Jill, for water.
_Hodur_ (ho' der). The blind god who threw the fatal
branch of mistletoe at Baldur. The god of winter.
_Icarus_ (ik' a rus). A son of Daedalus.
_Iobates_ (i ob' a tez). The King of Lycia.
_Iris_ (i' ris). Juno's maid, a personification of the
_Jason_ (ja' sun). A prince of Thessaly, who brought
away from Colchis the golden fleece.
_Juno_ (ju' no). The wife of Jupiter.
_Jupiter_ (ju' pi ter). In Roman mythology, the supreme
god of heaven.
_laboratory_ (lab' o ra to ry). The workroom of a chemist.
_Latin_ (lat' in). The language of the ancient Romans.
_Latona_ (la to' na). The wife of Jupiter and the
mother of Apollo and Diana.
_Leda_ (le' da). The mother of Castor and Pollux, and
of Helen of Troy.
_Lindu_ (lin' du). A maiden who had charge of the
birds, identified with the Milky Way.
_Loki_ (lo' ki). The god who caused Hodur to throw
the fatal branch of mistletoe at Baldur. The god of fire.
_Mani_ (ma' ni). The Norse god of the moon.
_Mars_ (marz). The Roman god of war.
_Mercury_ (mer' ku ry). The Roman god of commerce
and gain. Personification of the wind, which
fills the sails of merchant-vessels.
_Midas_ (mi' das). Son of Gordius and King of Phrygia.
_Minerva_ (mi ner' va). The goddess of wisdom.
_Mount Olympus_ (o lim' pus). The home of Jupiter
and the Greek gods.
_Narcissus_ (nar sis' sus). A beautiful youth, who was
changed into the flower narcissus.
_nectar_ (nek' ter). The drink of the gods.
_Neptune_ (nep' tune). The ruler of the sea.
_Norwegian_ (nor we' ji an). A native of Norway.
_Odin_ (o' din). The same as Woden.
_Olympian_ (o lim' pi an). Pertaining to Olympus, the
seat of the gods.
_Orion_ (o ri' on). A giant hunter, whose name was
given to a constellation.
_Orpheus_ (or' fe us). A poet and musician, who with
his sweet lyre charmed the very rocks and trees
to follow him.
_Pactolus_ (pak to' lus). A river of Lydia.
_Pegasus_ (peg' a sus). A winged horse belonging to
Apollo and the Muses.
_Perdix_ (per' diks). The nephew of Daedalus; changed
by Athena into a partridge.
_Phaeton_ (fa' e ton). A son ot Apollo.
_Phenice_ (fe ni' se). Phoenicia; Tyre and Sidon; a
land west of Palestine.
_Philemon_ (fi le' mun). An aged Phrygian, the husband
_Phrygia_ (frij' i a). A country of Asia Minor.
_Pirene_ (pi re' ne). The fountain at which Pegasus
could be found.
_Pleiades_ (ple' ya dez). The seven daughters of Atlas.
Made by Jupiter a constellation in the sky.
_Pluto_ (plu' to). The god of the lower world, or Hades.
_Pollux_ (pol' luks). A famous pugilist, and twin
brother of Castor.
_Poseidon_ (po sei' don). The Greek name of Neptune.
_Prometheus_ (pro me' the us). The Titan who gave
fire to man.
_Proserpina_ (pro ser' pi na). The daughter of Ceres.
_python_ (py' thon). A mythical serpent killed near
Delphi by Apollo.
_realm_ (realm). Kingdom.
_reigned_ (rand). Ruled; governed.
_Runic_ (ru' nik). Pertaining to the letters called
"runes," belonging to the language of the ancient
_sandal_ (san' dal). A kind of shoe consisting of a sole
strapped to the foot.
_Saturn_ (sat' urn). The father of Jupiter, Neptune,
_Scandinavian_ (skan di na' vi an). Of or pertaining
to Scandinavia; that is, Sweden, Norway, and
_Sibyl_ (sib' il). A woman supposed to be endowed
with a spirit of prophecy.
_Sicily_ (sis' i ly). The largest island in the Mediterranean
_Silenus_ (si le' nus). The foster-father of Bacchus.
_Sleipnir_ (slap' ner). The swift eight-legged horse of
_Sonmus_ (som' nus). The king of sleep.
_Sparta_ (spar' ta). Ancient city of Greece.
_Taara_ (taa' ra.). The mythical home of Vanemuine.
_Terpsichore_ (terp sik' o re). The muse who presided
_Terra_ (ter' ra). The personification of earth.
_Thalia_ (tha li' a). The muse of joy.
_Thebes_ (thebz). Greek city now called Thion; birth-place
of Hercules. Also name of Egyptian city.
_Thor_ (thor). The Norse god of thunder.
_Thrace_ (tras). A region in Southeastern Europe,
with varying boundaries. In early times it was
regarded as the entire region north of Greece.
_Titans_ (ti' tanz). Primeval giants, children of heaven
_Tithonus_ (ti tho' nus). The husband of Aurora;
changed into a grasshopper.
_tortoise_ (tor' tis). A kind of turtle.
_trident_ (tri' dent). A spear with three prongs--the
common attribute of Neptune.
_Trojan_ (tro' jan). Of or pertaining to ancient Troy.
_Uko_ (u' ko). The father of Lindu; also spelled Ukko.
_Ulysses_ (u lis' sez). The King of Ithaca.
_Urania_ (u ra' ni a). The muse of astronomy.
_Valkyrias_ (val kir' i as). Woden's shield-maidens
who presided over battlefields and marked those
who were to be slain.
_Valhalla_ (val hal' la). The Norse heaven.
_Vanemuine_ (va nem' u en). A god of Finland.
_Varrak_ (var' rak). A Laplander.
_Venus_ (ve' nus). A Roman goddess of love and beauty.
_Woden_ (wo' den). In Norse myths the supreme god
of heaven; also spelled Odin.
_Zeus_ (zus). Greek name for Jupiter.
End of Project Gutenberg's Classic Myths, by Retold by Mary Catherine Judd
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