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Orestes, who had slain his mother. Therefore, like the accusing voice of conscience, they marshalled to punishment the murderers of Ibycus.
This poet, beloved of Apollo, was, while journeying to the musical contest of the Isthmus at Corinth, attacked by two robbers in the Corinthian grove of Neptune. Overcome by them, he commended his cause, as he fell, to a flock of cranes that happened to be screaming hoarsely overhead. But when his body was found, all Greece, then gathered at the festival, demanded vengeance on the murderer.
Soon afterward, the vast assemblage in the amphitheatre sat listening to a play in which the Chorus personated the Furies. The Choristers, clad in black, bore in their fleshless hands torches blazing with a pitchy flame. Advancing with measured step, they formed ranks in the orchestra. Their cheeks were bloodless, and in place of hair writhing serpents curled around their brows. Forming a circle, these awful beings sang their hymn. High it swelled, overpowering the sound of the instruments :
“ Happy the man whose heart is pure from guilt and crime ! Him we avengers touch not; he treads the path of life secure from us. But woe! woe! to him who has done the deed of secret murder. We, the fearful brood of Night, fasten ourselves upon him, soul and Aesh. Thinks he by night to escape us? Fly we still faster in pursuit, twine our snakes around his feet and bring him to the ground. Unwearied we pursue ; no pity checks our course ; still on, still on to the end of life, we give no peace, no rest."
Stillness like the stillness of death sat over the assembly. Suddenly a cry burst from one of the uppermost benches, — “ Lo, comrade, the cranes of Ibycus !” A dark object sailed across the sky. “The murderer has informed against himself,” shouted the assemblage. The inference was correct. The criminals, straightway seized, confessed the crime and suffered the penalty.
MYTHS OF LESSER DIVINITIES OF THE WATERS.
These gods may be roughly classed as dwellers in the sea, and dwellers in the streams.
§ 126. Galatea. — Of the sea-divinities, daughters of Nereus and Doris, none was fairer than Galatea, sister of Amphitrite and Thetis. She loved Acis, the son of Faunus by a Naiad, and was loved in return; but her happiness was disturbed and finally ruined by the persistent and jealous attentions of the Cyclops Polyphemus.
Polyphemus in Love. — For the first time in his life the Cyclops began to care for his appearance; he harrowed his coarse locks with a curry-comb, mowed his beard with a sickle, and, looking into the sea when it was calm, soliloquized, “ Beautiful seems my beard, beautiful my one eye, - as I count beauty, — and the sea reflects the gleam of my teeth whiter than the Parian stone." ]
... He loved, not with apples, nor roses, nor locks of hair, but with fatal frenzy; and all things else he held but trifles by the way. Many a time from the green pastures would his ewes stray back, self-shepherded, to the fold. But he was singing of Galatea; and pining in his place, he sat by the seaweed of the beach from the dawn of day with the direst hurt beneath his breast of mighty Cypris's sending, - the wound of her arrow in his heart!
Yet this remedy he found, and sitting on the crest of the tall cliff, and looking to the deep, 'twas thus he would sing:
“Oh, milk-white Galatea, why cast off him that loves thee? More white than is pressed milk to look upon, more delicate than the lamb art thou, than the young calf wantoner, more sleek than the unripened grape! Here dost thou resort, even so, when sweet sleep possesses me, and home straightway dost thou depart when sweet sleep lets me go, fleeing me like an ewe that
1 Theocritus, Idyl VI. See Andrew Lang's translation.
has seen the gray wolf. I fell in love with thee, maiden, I, on the day when first thou camest, with my mother, and didst wish to pluck the hyacinths from the hill, and I was thy guide on the way. But to leave loving thee, when once I had seen thee, neither afterward, nor now at all, have I the strength, even from that hour. But to thee all this is as nothing, by Zeus, nay, nothing at all!
“I know, thou gracious maiden, why it is that thou dost shun me. It is all for the shaggy brow that spans my forehead, from this to the other ear, one long, unbroken eyebrow. And but one eye is on my forehead, and broad is the nose that overhangs my lip. Yet I (even such as thou seest me)
feed a thousand cattle, and from these I draw and drink the best milk in the world. And cheese I never lack, in summer time or autumn, nay, nor in the dead of winter, but my baskets are always overladen.
“Also I am skilled in piping, as none other of the Cyclopes here, and of thee, my love, my sweet apple, and of myself, too, I sing, many a time, deep in the night. And for thee I tend eleven fawns, all crescent browed, and four young whelps of the bear. Nay, come thou to me, and thou shalt lack nothing that now thou hast. ...
“But if thou dost refuse because my body seems shaggy and rough, well, I have faggots of oak-wood, and beneath the ashes is fire unwearied, and I would endure to let thee burn my very soul, and this my one eye, the
dearest thing that is mine. “Ah me, that my mother bore me not a finny thing, so would I have gone down to thee, and kissed thy hand, if thy lips thou would not suffer me to kiss! And I would have brought thee either white lilies, or the soft poppy with its scarlet petals. Nay, these are summer's flowers, and those are flowers of winter, so I could not have brought thee them all at one time.
"Now, verily, maiden, now and here will I learn to swim, if perchance some stranger come hither, sailing with his ship, that I may see why it is so dear to thee to have thy dwelling in the deep. Come forth, Galatea, and forget as thou comest, even as I that sit here have forgotten, the homeward way! ...
"Oh, Cyclops, Cyclops, whither are thy wits wandering? Ah, that thou wouldst go, and weave thy wicker-work, and gather broken boughs to carry to thy lambs: in faith, if thou didst this, far wiser wouldst thou be!
“ Milk the ewe that thou hast; why pursue the thing that shuns thee? Thou wilt find, perchance, another, and a fairer, Galatea. Many be the girls that bid me stay with them, and softly they all laugh, if perchance I answer them. On land it is plain that I, too, seem to be somebody !”
Having, one day, in such wise, sung, Polyphemus wandered, beside himself for passion, into the woods. On a sudden he came in sight of Galatea and Acis, in the hollow of a rock, where they had hearkened to the strains of the Cyclops. The monster, infuriate, crying that this should be the last of their love-meetings, overwhelmed his rival with a tremendous rock. Purple blood spirted from under the stone, by degrees grew paler, and finally became the stream that still bears the name of the unfortunate youth. But Galatea remained inconsolable.?
$ 127. Glaucus and Scylla.3 - Another deity of the sea was Glaucus, the son of that Sisyphus who was punished in Hades for his treachery to the gods. Glaucus had been a comely young fisherman; but having noticed that a certain herb revived fishes after they were brought to land, he ate of it, and suffered metamorphosis into a something new and strange, half man, half fish, and after the fashion of a sea-god. Of his experience during this "sea-change," the following is an account:
“I plunged for life or death. To interknit
One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff
1 Lang, Theocritus, Idyl XI.
Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
He became guardian of fishes and divers, and of those who go down to the sea in ships. Later, being infatuated of the fair virgin Scylla (daughter of the sea-god Phorcys and granddaughter of
Pontus), he paid his court to her. But the maiden rejected him. Whereupon, in desperation, Glaucus sought the aid of Circe, an enchantress. She, because she coveted for herself the handsome seagreen god, transformed her rival into a monster hideously fashioned of serpents and barking dogs.” In this shape Scylla, thereafter, infested the shore of
Sicily, and worked evil to
V mariners, till finally she was petrified as a reef, none the less perilous to all seafarers.
A modern version of the fate of Glaucus and Scylla is given by Keats in the Endymion. Glaucus consents to Circe's blandish
i From Keats's Endymion. 2 $$ 52-54, Text, and Commentary. 8 See $$ 171, 174, Adventures of Ulysses and Æneas.