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Brushing away the dreams, that hovered around her, Iris lit up the cave, and delivered her message to the god, who, scarce opening his eyes, had great difficulty in shaking himself free from himself.
Then Iris hasted away from the drowsiness creeping over her, and returned by her bow as she had come. But Somnus called one of his sons — Morpheus — the most expert in counterfeiting forms of men, to perform the command of Iris; then laid his head on his pillow, and yielded himself again to grateful repose.
The Halcyon Birds. — Morpheu. flew, on silent wings, to the Haemonian city, where he assumed the form of Ceyx. Pale like a dead man, naked and dripping, he stood before the couch of the wretched wife, and told her that the winds of the ^Egean had sunk his ship; that he was dead.
Weeping and groaning, Halcyone sprang from sleep, and, with the dawn, hastening to the seashore, descried an indistinct object washed to and fro by the waves. As it floated nearer, she recognized the body of her husband. In despair, leaping from the mole, she was changed instantly to a bird, and poured forth a song of grief as she flew. By the mercy of the gods Ceyx was likewise transformed. For seven days before and seven days after the winter solstice, Jove forbids the winds to blow. Then Halcyon broods over her nest; then the way is safe to seafarers. ^Eolus confines the winds that his grandchildren may have peace.
§ 114. Aurora and Tithonus.1—Aurora seems frequently to have been inspired with the love of mortals. Her greatest favorite, and almost her latest, was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy. She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but forgetting to have youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old. When his hair was white she left his society; but he still had the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was clad in celestial raiment. In time he lost the power of using his limbs; and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence
1 Homeric Hymn to Venus; Horace, Odes. 1: 22; 2: 16; Apollod. III. 12, §4.
his feeble voice might at times be heard. Finally she turned him into a grasshopper. The following is, according to the finest of poetic conceptions, the lament of the white-haired shadow :1
"The woods decay, the woods decay and fall
"Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man —
"A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
1 Tennyson's Tilhonus.
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
"Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful
"Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
"Ay me! ay me! with what another heart
"Yet hold me not forever in thine East: How can my nature longer mix with thine? Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam Floats up from those dim fields about the homes Of happy men that have the power to die, And grassy barrows of the happier dead. Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:
§ 115. Memnon,-the son of Aurora and Tithonus, was king of the /Ethiopians. He went with warriors to assist his kindred in the Trojan War, and was received by King Priam with honor. He fought bravely, slew Antilochus, the brave son of Nestor, and held the Greeks at bay, until Achilles appeared. Before that hero he fell.
Then Aurora, seeing her son's fate, directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to the banks of the river /Esepus, in Mysia. In the evening, Aurora, accompanied by the Hours and the Pleiads, bewept her son. Night spread the heaven with clouds; all nature mourned for the offspring of the Dawn. The /Ethiopians raised his tomb on the banks of the stream, in the grove of the Nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders of his funeral pile to be turned into birds, which, dividing into two flocks, fought over the pile till they fell into the flame. Every year at the anniversary of his death they celebrated his obsequies in like manner. Aurora remained inconsolable. The dew-drops are her tears.1
The kinship of Memnon to the Dawn is certified even after his death. On the banks of the Nile are two colossal statues, one of which is called Memnon's; and it was said that when the first rays of morning fell upon this statue, a sound like the snapping of a harp-string issued therefrom.2
"So to the sacred Sun in Memnon's fane
MYTHS OF THE LESSER DIVINITIES OF EARTH, AND THE UNPERWORLD.
§ 116. Pan, and the Personification of Nature. — It was a
pleasing trait in the old paganism that it loved to trace in every operation of nature the agency of deity. The imagination of the Greeks peopled the regions of earth and sea with divinities, to whose agency it attributed the phenomena that our philosophy ascribes to the operation of natural law. So Pan, the god of woods and fields,1 whose name seemed to signify all, came to be considered a symbol of the universe and a personification of Nature. "Universal Pan," says Milton in his description of the creation: —
Later, Pan came to be regarded as a representative of all the Greek gods, and of paganism itself. Indeed, according to an early Christian tradition, when the heavenly host announced to the shepherds the birth of Christ, a deep groan, heard through the isles of Greece, told that great Pan was dead, that the dynasty of Olympus was dethroned, and the several deities sent wandering in cold and darkness.
"The lonely mountains o'er, •
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
1 His name is not derived from the Greek pSn = all, but from the root fd = io feed, to pasture (U. the flocks and herds).