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Change, silent lips, fvrever fair,
To lips that have their day!
Wax warm, ere cold ye wane;
To love, to joy, to pain!”
The maiden was called Galatea. Venus blessed the nuptials, and from the union Paphos was born, by whose name the city, sacred to Venus, is known.
$ 98. Pyramus and Thisbe.? — Pyramus was the handsomest youth, and Thisbe the fairest maiden, in Babylonia, where Semiramis reigned. Their parents occupied adjoining houses. Propinquity brought the young people together, and acquaintance ripened into love. They would gladly have married, but their parents forbade. One thing, however, parents could not forbid (for Venus and Cupid favored the match), – that love should glow with equal ardor in the bosoms of both. They conversed by signs and glances, and the fire burned the more intensely that it was covered. In the wall between the two houses there was a crack, caused by some fault in the structure. It afforded a passage to the voice; and tender messages passed back and forth through the gap. When night came and they must say farewell, the lovers pressed their lips upon the wall, she on her side, he on his.
One morning, when Aurora had put out the stars, and the sun had melted the frost from the grass, they met at the accustomed spot, and arranged a meeting for that night, at a well-known edifice, standing without the city's bounds, — the Tomb of Ninus. The one who first arrived should await the other at the foot of a white mulberry-tree, near a cool spring. Evening came. Thisbe, arriving first, sat alone by the monument in the dim light of the evening. Suddenly she descried a lioness, her jaws reeking with
1 Andrew Lang, The New Pygmalion, or The Statue's Choice. A witty and exquisite bit of burlesque.
2 Ovid, Metam. 4:55-166.
recent slaughter, approaching the fountain to slake her thirst. The maiden fled at the sight, dropping her veil as she ran. The lioness, after drinking at the spring, turned toward the woods, and, seeing the veil on the ground, tossed and rent it with her bloody mouth.
Now Pyramus approached the place of meeting. He saw in the sand the footsteps of the lion. He found the veil all rent and bloody. “O, hapless girl," cried he, “ I have been the cause of thy death ; but I follow thee !” So saying, he drew his sword and plunged it into his heart. The blood spurted from the wound, and tinged the white mulberries of the tree all red, and, sinking into the earth, reached the roots, so that the sanguine hue mounted through the trunk to the fruit.
By this time, Thisbe, still trembling with fear, yet wishing not to disappoint her lover, stepped cautiously forth, looking anxiously for the youth, eager to tell him the danger she had escaped. When she came to the spot and saw the changed color of the mulberries, she doubted whether it was the same place. While she hesitated, she saw the form of her lover struggling in the agonies of death. She, screamed and beat her breast, she embraced the lifeless body, poured tears into its wounds, and imprinted kisses on the cold lips. “O, Pyramus," she cried, “what has done this? It is thine own Thisbe that speaks.” At the name of Thisbe Pyramus opened his eyes, then closed them again. She saw her veil stained with blood and the scabbard empty of its sword. “Thine own hand has slain thee, and for my sake,” she said. “I, too, can be brave for once, and my love is as strong as thine. But ye, unhappy parents of us both, deny us not our united request. As love and death have joined us, let one tomb contain us. And thou, tree, retain the marks of slaughter. Let thy berries still serve for memorials of our blood.” So saying, she plunged the sword into her breast. The two bodies were buried in one sepulchre, and the tree henceforth produced purple berries.
$ 99. Phaon ferried a boat between Lesbos and Chios. One day the queen of Paphos and Amathus, in the guise of an ugly crone, begged a passage, which was so good-naturedly granted that, in recompense, she bestowed on the ferryman a salve possessing magical properties of youth and beauty. As a consequence of the use made of it by Phaon, the women of Lesbos went wild for love of him. None, however, admired him more than the poetess Sappho, who addressed to him some of her warmest and rarest love-songs.
$ 100. Venus did not fail to follow with her vengeance those who dishonored her rites or defied her power. The youth Hippolytus who, eschewing love, preferred Diana to her, she brought miserably to his ruin (§ 157). Polyphonte she transformed into an owl, Arsinoë into a stone, and Myrrha into a myrtle-tree.? Her influence in the main was of mingled bane and blessing; as in the cases of Helen, (Enone, Pasiphaë, Ariadne, Procris, Eriphyle, Laodamia, and others whose stories are elsewhere told.3
§ 101. Homer's Hymn to Mercury. — Maia bore Mercury at the peep of day, - a schemer subtle beyond all belief. He began playing on the lyre at noon; for, wandering out of the lofty cavern of Cyllene, he found a tortoise, picked it up, bored the life out of the beast, fitted the shell with bridge and reeds, and accompanied himself therewith as he sang a strain of unpremeditated sweetness. At evening of the same day, he stole the oxen of his half-brother Apollo from the Pierian mountains, where they were grazing. He covered their hoofs with tamarisk twigs, and, still further to deceive the pursuer, drove them backward into a cave at Pylos. There rubbing laurel branches together, he made fire, and sacrificed, as an example for men to follow, two heifers to the twelve gods (himself included). Then
i § 93 and Commentary.
home he went and slept, innocent as a new-born child! To his mother's warning that Apollo would catch and punish him, this innocent replied, in effect, “I know a trick better than that !” And when the puzzled Apollo, having traced the knavery to this babe in swaddling clothes, accused him of it, the sweet boy swore a great oath by his father's head that he stole not the cows, nor knew even what cows might be, for he had only that moment heard the name of them. Apollo proceeded to trounce the baby ; with scant success, however, for Mercury persisted in his assumption of ignorance. So the twain appeared before their sire, and Apollo entered his complaint : he had not seen nor ever dreamed of so precocious a cattle-stealer, liar, and fullfledged knave as this young rascal. To all of which Mercury responded that he was, on the contrary, a veracious person, but that his brother Apollo was a coward to bully a helpless little newborn thing that slept, nor ever had thought of“ lifting" cattle. The wink with which the lad of Cyllene accompanied this asseveration threw Jupiter into uncontrollable roars of laughter. Consequently, the quarrel was patched up: Mercury gave Apollo the new-made lyre; Apollo presented the prodigy with a glittering whip-lash, and installed him herdsman of his oxen. Nay even, when Mercury had sworn by sacred Styx no more to try his cunning in theft upon Apollo, that god in gratitude invested him with the magic wand of wealth, happiness, and dreams (the caduceus), it being understood, however, that Mercury should indicate the future only by signs, not by speech or song, as did Apollo. It is said that the god of gain avenged himself, for this enforced rectitude, upon others : upon Venus, whose girdle he purloined; upon Neptune, whose trident he filched; upon Vulcan, whose tongs he borrowed; and upon Mars, whose sword he stole.
The most famous exploit of the Messenger, the slaughter of Argus, has already been narrated.'
MYTHS OF THE GREAT DIVINITIES OF EARTH.
MYTHS OF BACCHUS.
§ 102. Since the adventures of Ceres, although she was a goddess of earth, are intimately connected with the life of the underworld, they will be related in the sections pertaining to Proserpine and Pluto. The god of vernal sap and vegetation, of the gladness
that comes of youth or of wine, the goldencurled, sleepy-eyed Bacchus, — his wanderings, and the fortunes of mortals brought under his influence: Pentheus, Acetes, Ariadne, and Midas, here challenge our attention.
The Wanderings of Bacchus. — After the death of Semele, Jove took the infant Bacchus and gave him in charge
to the Nysæan nymphs, who nourished his infancy and childhood, and for their care were placed by Jupiter as the Hyades, among the stars. Another guardian and tutor of young Bacchus was the pot-bellied, jovial Silenus, son of Pan and a nymph, and oldest of the Satyrs. Silenus was probably an indulgent preceptor. He was