Зображення сторінки

Then rose a shout from those around; they glorified the conqueror, — crowded to touch his hand. But he, placing his foot upon the head of the slain boar, turned to Atalanta, and bestowed on her the head and the rough hide — trophies of his success. Therea' she laughed

Lit with a low blush to the braided hair,
And rose-colored and cold like very dawn,
Golden and godlike, chastely with chaste lips,
A faint grave laugh; and all they held their peace,
And she passed by them. Then one cried, “Lo now,
Shall not the Arcadian shoot out lips at us,
Saying all we were despoiled by this one girl?”
And all they rode against her violently
And cast the fresh crown from her hair, and now
They had rent her spoil away, dishonoring her,
Save that Meleager, as a tame lion chafed,
Bore on them, broke them, and as fire cleaves wood,
So clove and drove them, smitten in twain; but she
Smote not nor heaved up hand; and this man first,
Plexippus, crying out, “ This for love's sake, Sweet,”
Drove at Meleager, who with spear straightening
Pierced his cheek through; then Toxeus made for him,
Dumb, but his spear shake; vain and violent words,
Fruitless; for him, too, stricken through both sides
The earth felt falling, ...
... And these being slain,
None moved, nor spake.

Of this fearful sequel to the hunt, Althæa has heard nothing. As she bears thank-offering to the temples for the victory of her son, the bodies of her murdered brothers meet her sight. She shrieks, and beats her breast, and hastens to change the garments of joy for those of mourning. But when the author of the deed is known, grief gives way to the stern desire of vengeance on her son. The fatal brand, which the Destinies have linked with Meleager's life, she brings forth. She commands a fire to be prepared. Four times she essays to place the brand upon the pile ;

1 From Swinburne's Atalanta in Calydon.

four times draws back, shuddering before the destruction of her son. The feelings of the mother and the sister contend within her. Now she is pale at the thought of the purposed deed, now flushed again with anger at the violence of her offspring. Finally the sister prevails over the mother :— turning away her face, she throws the fatal wood upon the burning pile. Meleager, absent and unconscious of the cause, feels a sudden pang. He burns; he calls upon those whom he loves, Atalanta and his mother. But speedily the brand is ashes, and the life of Meleager is breathed forth to the wandering winds.

When, at last, the deed was done, the mother laid violent hands upon herself.



$ 149. Minos of Crete was a descendant of Inachus, in the sixth generation. A son of Jupiter and Europa, he was, after death, transferred, with his brother Rhadamanthus and with King Æacus, to Hades, where the three became judges of the Shades. This is the Minos mentioned by Homer and Hesiod, — the eminent law-giver. Of his grandson, Minos II., it is related that when aiming at the crown of Crete, he boasted of his power to obtain by prayer whatever he desired; and as a test, he implored Neptune to send him a bull for sacrifice. The bull appeared ; but Minos, astonished at its great beauty, declined to sacrifice the brute. Neptune, therefore incensed, drove the bull wild, — worse still, drove Pasiphaë, the wife of Minos, wild with love of it. The wonderful brute was finally caught and overcome by Hercules, who rode it through the waves to Greece. But its offspring, the Minotaur, a monster, bull-headed and man-bodied, remained, for many a day, a terror to Crete, — till finally a famous artificer, Dædalus, constructed for him a labyrinth, with passages and turnings winding in and about like the river Mæunder, so that whoever was enclosed in it might by no means find his way out. The Minotaur, roaming therein, lived upon human victims. For, it is said that, after Minos had subdued Megara,' a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens was sent every year froin Athens to Crete to feed this monster; and it was not until the days of Theseus of Athens that an end was put to both tribute and Minotaur.? $ 150. Dædalus and Icarus." — Dædalus, who abetted the love of Pasiphaë for the Cretan bull, afterwards lost the favor of Minos,

1$ 128.

? § 152. Apollod. 3. I. $ 3; 15, § 8; Pausanias, 1. 27. $ 9, etc.; Ovid, Metam. 7:456.

and was imprisoned by him. Seeing no other way of escape, the artificer made, out of feathers, wings for his son Icarus and himself, which he fastened on with wax. Then poising themselves in the air, they flew away. Icarus had been warned not to approach too near to the sun, and all went well till they had passed Samos and Delos on the left and Lebynthos on the right. But then the boy, exulting in his career, soared

upward. The blaze of the torrid sun softened the waxen fastenings of his wings. Off they came; and down the lad dropped into the sea, which after him is named Icarian.

"... with melting wax and loosened strings

Sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings;
Headlong he rushed through the affrighted air,
With limbs distorted and dishevelled hair;
His scattered plumage danced upon the wave,
And sorrowing Nereids decked his watery grave;
O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
And strewed with crimson moss his marble bed;
Struck in their coral towers the passing bell,
And wide in ocean tolled his echoing knell." 2

Dædalus, mourning his son, arrived finally in Sicily, where, being kindly received by King Cocalus, he built a temple to Apollo, and hung up his wings, an offering to the god. But Minos, having learned of the hiding-place of the artificer, fol. lowed him to Sicily with a great fleet; and Dædalus would surely

[ocr errors]

have perished had not one of the daughters of Cocalus disposed of Minos by scalding him to death while he was bathing.

It is said that Dædalus could not bear the idea of a rival. His sister had placed her son Perdix under his charge to be taught the mechanical arts. He was an apt scholar, and gave striking evidences of ingenuity. Walking on the seashore, he picked up the spine of a fish, and imitating it in iron, invented the saw. He invented, also, a pair of compasses. But Dædalus, envious of his nephew, pushed him off a tower, and killed him. Minerva, however, in pity of the boy, changed him into a bird, the partridge, which bears his name.

To the descendants of Inachus we shall again return in the account of the house of Labdacus.

« НазадПродовжити »