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Roughens the placid deep with eager breath of the morning,
Now when they were aloof, drew nigh from Pelion's summit
And after the river-god, who bore with him nodding plane-trees and lofty beeches, straight slim laurels, the lithe poplars, and the airy cypress to plant about the palace that thick foliage might give it shade, followed Prometheus, the bold and cunning of heart, wearing still the marks of his ancient punishment on the rocks of Caucasus. Finally the father of the gods himself came, with his holy spouse and his offspring, — all, save Phoebus and his one sister, who naturally looked askance upon a union to be productive of untold misfortune to their favored town of Troy.
... When now the gods had reclined their limbs on the ivory couches,
Still, as they span, as they span, was the tooth kept nipping and smoothing,
“Thou that exaltest renown of thy name with the name of thy valor, Bulwark Emathian, blest above sires in the offspring of promise, Hear with thine ears this day what oracles fall from the Sisters Chanting the fates for thee; — but you, ye destiny-drawing Spindles, hasten the threads of the destinies set for the future !
“Rideth the orb upon high that heralds boon unto bridegrooms —
“Erstwhile, never a home hath roofed like generous loving,
“Born unto you shall be the undaunted heart of Achilles,
So the sisters prophesied the future of the hero, Achilles. How by him the Trojans should fall, as fall the ears of corn when they are yellow before the scythe, — how because of him Scamander should run red, warm with blood, choked with blind bodies, into the whirling Hellespont; how finally he, himself, in his prime, should fall, and how on his tomb should be sacrificed the fair Polyxena, daughter of Priam, whom he had loved. “So,” says Catullus, “sang the Fates. For those were the days before piety and righteous action were spurned by mankind, the days when
Jupiter and his immortals deigned to consort with zealous man, to enjoy the sweet odor of his burnt-offering, to march beside him to battle, to swell his shout in victory and his lament in defeat, to smile on his peaceful harvests, to recline at his banquets, and to bless the weddings of fair women and goodly heroes. But now, alas," concludes Catullus, “ godliness and chastity, truth, wisdom, and honor have departed from among men":
Wherefore the gods no more vouchsafe their presence to mortals,
$ 165 b. Atreus was the son of Pelops and Hippodamia and grandson of Tantalus, therefore great-grandson of Jove. Both by blood and by marriage he was connected with Theseus. He took to wife Aërope, granddaughter of Minos II., king of Crete, and by her had two sons, Agamemnon, the general of the Grecian army in the Trojan War, and Menelaus, at whose solicitation the war was undertaken. Of Atreus it may be said that with cannibal atrocity like that of his grandsire, Tantalus, he on one occasion wreaked his vengeance on a brother, Thyestes, by causing him to eat the flesh of two of his own children. A son of this Thyestes, Ægisthus by name, revived, in due time, against Agamemnon the treacherous feud that had existed between their fathers.
§ 165 C. Tyndareus was king of Lacedæmon (Sparta). His wife was Leda, daughter of Thestius of Calydon, and sister of Althæa, the mother of Meleager and Dejanira. To Tyndareus Leda bore Castor and Clytemnestra ; to Jove she bore Pollux and Helen. The two former were mortal ; the two latter, immortal. Clytemnestra was married to Agamemnon of Mycenæ, to whom she bore three children, — Electra, Iphigenia, and Orestes. Helen, the fair immediate cause of the Trojan War, became the wife of Menelaus, who with her obtained the kingdom of Sparta.
$ 166. Castor and Pollux are mentioned here because of their kinship with Helen. They had, however, disappeared from earth
before the Siege of Troy was undertaken. They are famous for their fraternal affection. Endowed with various manly virtues, — Castor, a horse-tamer, Pollux, a boxer, — they made all expeditions in common. Together, they joined the Calydonian hunt. Together, they accompanied the Argonauts. During the voyage to Colchis it is said that, a storm arising, Orpheus prayed to the Samothracian gods, and played on his harp, and that when the storm ceased, stars appeared on the heads of the brothers. Hence they came to be honored as patrons of voyagers.
When Theseus and his friend Pirithoüs had carried off Helen from Sparta, the youthful heroes, Castor and Pollux, with their followers, hasted to her rescue. Theseus being absent from Attica, the brothers recovered their sister. Still later, we find Castor and Pollux engaged in a combat with Idas and Lynceus of Messene, whose brides they had attempted to abduct. Castor was slain ; but Pollux, inconsolable for the loss of his brother, besought Jupiter to be permitted to give his own life as a ransom for him. Jupiter so far consented as to allow the two brothers to enjoy the boon of life alternately, each spending one day under the earth and the next in the heavenly abodes. According to another version, Jupiter rewarded the attachment of the brothers by placing them among the stars as Gemini, the Twins. They received heroic honors as the Tyndaridæ (sons of Tyndareus); divine honors they received under the name of Dioscuri (sons of Jove).
... Back comes the chief in triumph
Who in the hour of fight
In harness on his right.
Through billows and through gales
Sit shining on the sails.1
1 Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome, The Battle of Lake Regillus,