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that each of the longer narratives contains. Throughout the course, all stories and all minutia should be kept fresh in the mind of the pupil, whether by oral reviews, informal and frequent questioning, or by compositions and written examinations. The knowledge of the myths and the proper perspective of their relation, one to another, should be fixed by the study of the family ties that motivate many of the incidents of mythical adventure, and that must have been commonplaces of information to the inventors and narrators of these stories.
The myths may well be reproduced as exercises in narration, comparison, description; and they may be regarded as stimulus for imaginative invention concerning local wonders and beauties of nature. Pupils may also be encouraged to consider, and to comment upon, the moral qualities of the heroes and heroines of mythology. Thus they may be led to recognize the difference between ancient and modern standards of right and wrong. To this end, and for the supply of further nutriment, it is important that teachers collect from their reading of the classic originals, or from translations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Greek dramatists, the Æneid, the Metamorphoses, etc., material supplementary to the text, and give it freely to their classes. To facilitate this practice, the sources of the myths have been indicated in the footnotes of this volume, and a few of the best translations have been mentioned in $$ 10-12 of the Commentary. Instructors should also read to the classes illustrative English poems, or portions of them based upon the myths under consideration ; and they should encourage the pupils to collect from their English reading additional examples of the literary survival or adaptation of ancient fable. For this purpose special sections of the Commentary have been prepared indicating some of the best-known literary applications of each myth.
The myths should provide not only nutriment for thought, but material for memory. Our youth in the push for scientific facts and methods, so-called discipline, and literary acquisition, masticate little, swallow everything, digest nothing, — and having agonized, forget. If fewer things were despatched, especially in the study of literature, and if more were entrusted to the memory, there would be something to assimilate, and time to assimilate it ; there would be less dyspepsia and more muscle. Teachers and parents are over-considerate, nowadays, of the memory in children : they approach it gingerly; they have feared so much to wring its withers that in most children the memory has grown too soft for saddling. In our apprehension lest pupils may turn out parrots, we have too often turned them out loons. It is better that a few of the facts in their heads be wrong, than that no facts be there ai all. With all our study of children and our gabble about methods of teaching them, while we insist, properly enough, that youth is the seed-time of observation, we seem to have forgotten that it is also the harvest-time of memory. It is easy for children to remember what they learn, it is a delight for them to commit to memory; we act criminally when we send them forth with hardly a fact, or a date, or a glorious verse in the memory of one out of ten of them. Such unfortunately is the case in many of our schools ; and such was not the case in the day of our fathers. Pupils should be encouraged to recite memoriter the best poems and verses that accompany the myths here given ; and they should not be allowed to pass allusions already explained without recalling verses that contain them.
But, above all things, should be cultivated, by means of this study, the spiritual capabilities of our youth. Pabulum for thought, accurate habits of memory, critical judgment, simplicity and directness of oral and written expression may all be furnished or developed by other educative agencies; but what stimulus to fancy, to poetic sensitiveness and reflection, to a near kinship with the spirit of nature humanized can be found more cogent than the contemplation of the poetic traditions that abide in verse ? Mythology, fraught with the fire of imagination, kindles the present from the past.
In this new world of ours, shall slopes and mountains, gorges, cañons, flowery fields and forests, rivers, bays, Titanic lakes, and shoreless reach of ocean be seen of eyes that lack insight, be known of men for whom nature does not live? Surely the age of myth is not yet wholly past; surely the beauties and the wonders of nature are a fable of things never fully revealed ; surely this new republic of ours, no less than her prototypes by Tyrrhenian and Ægean seas, utters, in her queenly form and flowing robes, a spirit, a truth, a potential poetry, and a beauty of art, the mere grace of which we Americans for lack of imaginative training, and sympathy, and awe have not yet valued, and have yet to apprehend.
With young pupils, the teacher will probably find it best to begin recitations in this book at the fourth chapter (Greek Myths of the Creation). The first three chapters may be deferred until the class is better able to understand them, or may be summarized in informal talks supplementary to the earlier recitations. Pupils of advanced classes in the High Schools will experience no difficulty in mastering these chapters when they come to review them.
Since the myths are presented in a logical and genealogical arrangement, they should be recited in this order. When there is not time for detailed recitation on the whole book, some of the longer narratives, such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, or the Norse Myths, might be read at home, and reported in class by way of oral or written composition, once a week or fortnight. These narratives should not, however, be assigned in arbitrary and inconsequential fragments; their epical quality must be emphasized.
The Commentary is numbered in sections corresponding to those of the text. The Textual and Interpretative Notes should be studied by older pupils in connection with each lesson. But they should not be suffered to spoil the interest in the stories, as such. Allusions and interpretations which the younger pupil does not appreciate will, if the book is used for purposes of reference in his further English, Latin, or Greek studies, be clear before the end of his course. The masterpieces mentioned in the Illustrative Notes will suggest subjects for further study and for exercises in English Composition.
CLASSIC MYTHS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE.
THE ORIGIN AND ELEMENTS OF MYTH.
§ 1. Purpose of the Study. — Interwoven with the fabric of our English literature, of our epics, dramas, lyrics, and novels, of our essays and orations, like a golden warp where the woof is only too often of silver, are the myths of certain ancient nations. It is the purpose of this work to relate some of these myths, and to illustrate the uses to which they have been put in English literature, and, incidentally, in modern art.
The Fable and the Myth. — Careful discrimination must be made between the fable and the myth. A fable is a story, like that of King Log, or the Fox and the Grapes, in which characters and plot, neither pretending to reality nor demanding credence, are fabricated confessedly as the vehicle of moral or didactic instruction. Dr. Johnson narrows still further the scope of the fable : “It seems to be, in its genuine state, a narrative in which beings irrational, and sometimes inanimate, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions.” Myths, on the other hand, are stories of anonymous origin, prevalent among primitive peoples, and by them accepted as true, concerning supernatural beings and events, or natural beings and events influenced by supernatural agencies. Fables are made by individuals they may be told in any stage of a nation's history — by a Jotham when the Israelites were still under the Judges, 1200 years before Christ, or by Christ himself in the days of the most critical Jewish scholarship ; by a Menenius when Rome was still involved in petty squabbles of plebeians and patricians, or by Phædrus and Horace in the Augustan age of Roman imperialism and Roman letters; by an Æsop, well-nigh fabulous, to fabled fellow-slaves and Athenian tyrants, or by La Fontaine to the Grand Monarch and the most highly civilized race of seventeenth century Europe.
Fables are vessels made to order into which a lesson may be poured. Myths are born, not made. They are born in the infancy of a people. They owe their features not to any one historic individual, but to the imaginative efforts of generations of story-tellers. The myth of Pandora, the first woman, endowed by the immortals with heavenly graces, and of Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven for the use of man; the myth of the earthborn giants that in the beginning contested with the gods the sovereignty of the universe; of the moon-goddess who, with her buskined nymphs, pursues the chase across the azure of the heavens, or descending to earth cherishes the youth Endymion,these myths, germinating in some quaint and childish interpretation of natural events or in some fire-side fancy, have put forth unconsciously under the nurture of the simple folk that conceived and tended them, luxuriant branches and leaves of narrative, and blossoms of poetic comeliness and form.
The myths that we shall relate present wonderful accounts of the creation, histories of numerous divine beings, adventures of heroes in which magical and ghostly agencies play a part, and where animals and inanimate nature don the attributes of men and gods. Many of these myths treat of divinities once worshipped by the Greeks and the Romans, and by our Norse and German forefathers in the dark ages. Myths, more or less like these, may be found in the literatures of nearly all nations; many are in the memories and mouths of savage races at this time existent. But