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§ 157. Phædra and Hippolytus. — After the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phædra, sister of the deserted Ariadne, daughter of Minos. But Phædra, seeing in Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, a youth endowed with all the graces and virtues of his father, and of an age corresponding to her own, loved him. When, however, he repulsed her advances, her love was changed to despair and hate. Hanging herself, she left for her husband a scroll containing false charges against Hippolytus. The infatuated husband, filled, therefore, with jealousy of his son, imprecated the vengeance of Neptune upon him. As Hippolytus, one day, drove his chariot along the shore, a sea-monster raised himself above the waters, and frightened the horses so that they ran away and dashed the chariot to pieces. Hippolytus was killed, but by Æsculapius was restored to life; and then removed by Diana from the power of his deluded father, was placed in Italy under the protection of the nymph Egeria.
In his old age, Theseus, losing the favor of his people, retired to the court of Lycomedes, king of Scyros, who at first received him kindly, but afterwards treacherously put him to death.
THE HOUSE OF LABDACUS.
$ 158. The Misfortunes of Thebes. — Returning to the descendants of Inachus, we find that the curse which fell upon Cadmus when he slew the dragon of Mars followed inexorably every scion of his house. His daughters, Semele, Ino, Autonoë, Agave, — his grandsons, Melicertes, Actæon, Pentheus, — lived sorrowful lives, or suffered violent deaths. The misfortunes of one branch of his family, sprung from his son Polydorus, remain to be told. The curse seemed to have spared Polydorus himself. His son Lab
Laïus upon the throne. But ere long Laïus was warned by an oracle that there was danger to his throne and life if his son, new-born, should reach man's estate. He, therefore, committed the child to a herdsman, with orders for its destruction ; but the herdsman, moved with pity, yet not daring entirely to disobey, pierced the child's feet, purposing to expose him to the elements on Mount Cithæron.
$ 159. Edipus.' — In this plight the infant was given to a tender-hearted fellow-shepherd, who carried him to King Polybus of Corinth and his queen, by whom he was adopted and called (Edipus, or Swollen-foot.
Many years afterward, Edipus, learning from an oracle that he was destined to be the death of his father, left the realm of his reputed sire, Polybus. It happened, however, that Laïus was then driving to Delphi, accompanied only by one attendant. In a narrow road he met Edipus, also in a chariot. On the refusal of the youthful stranger to leave the way at their command, the attendant
killed one of his horses. Edipus, consumed with rage, slew both Laïus and the attendant; and thus unknowingly fulfilled both oracles.
Shortly after this event, the city of Thebes, to which (Edipus had repaired, was afflicted with a monster that infested the highroad. It was called the Sphinx. It had the body of a lion, and the upper part of a woman. It lay crouched on the top of a rock, and arresting all travellers who came that way, propounded to them a riddle, with the condition that those who could solve it should pass safe, but those who failed should be killed. Not one had yet succeeded in guessing it. (Edipus, not daunted by these alarming accounts, boldly advanced to the trial. The Sphinx asked him, “What animal is it that in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?" (Edipus replied, “ Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age goes with the aid of a staff.”
The Sphinx, mortified at the collapse of her riddle, cast herself down from the rock and perished.
$ 160. Edipus, the King. — In gratitude for their deliverance, the Thebans made (Edipus their king, giving him in marriage their queen, Jocasta. He, ignorant of his parentage, had already become the slayer of his father; in marrying the queen he became the husband of his mother. These horrors remained undiscovered, till, after many years, Thebes, being afflicted with famine and pestilence, the oracle was consulted, and, by a series of coincidences, the double crime of Edipus came to light. At once, Jocasta put an end to her life by hanging herself. As for Edipus, horror-struck, —
When her form