Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

turning every way to meet them. At last after Mezentius had three times made the circuit, Æneas threw his lance directly at the horse's head. The animal fell with pierced temples, while a shout from both armies rent the skies. Mezentius asked no mercy, but only that his body might be spared the insults of his revolted subjects, and be buried in the same grave with his son. He received the fatal stroke not unprepared, and poured out his life and his blood together.

Of Pallas. — While these things were doing in one part of the field, in another Turnus encountered the youthful Pallas. The contest between champions so unequally matched could not be doubtful. Pallas bore himself bravely, but fell by the lance of Turnus. The victor almost relented when he saw the brave youth lying dead at his feet, and spared to use the privilege of a conqueror in despoiling him of his arms. The belt only, adorned with studs and carvings of gold, he took and clasped round his own body. The rest he remitted to the friends of the slain.

Of Camilla. — After the battle there was a cessation of arms for some days to allow both armies to bury their dead. In this interval Æneas challenged Turnus to decide the contest by single combat, but Turnus evaded the challenge. Another battle ensued, in which Camilla, the virgin warrior, was chiefly conspicuous. Her deeds of valor surpassed those of the bravest warriors, and many Trojans and Etruscans fell pierced with her darts or struck down by her battle-axe. At last an Etruscan named Aruns, who had watched her long, seeking for some advantage, observed her pursuing a flying enemy whose splendid armor offered a tempting prize. Intent on the chase she observed not her danger, and the javelin of Aruns struck her and inflicted a fatal wound. She fell and breathed her last in the arms of her attendant maidens. But Diana, who beheld her fate, suffered not her slaughter to be unavenged. Aruns, as he stole away, glad but frightened, was struck by a secret arrow, launched by one of the nymphs of Diana's train, and he died ignobly and unknown.

The Final Conflict. — At length the final conflict took place

between Æneas and Turnus. Turnus had avoided the contest as long as he could ; but at last impelled by the ill success of his arms, and by the murmurs of his followers, he braced himself to the conflict. The outcome could not be doubtful. On the side of Æneas were the expressed decree of destiny, the aid of his goddess-mother in every emergency, and impenetrable armor fabricated by Vulcan, at her request, for her son. Turnus, on the other hand, was deserted by his celestial allies, Juno having been expressly forbidden by Jupiter to assist him any longer. Turnus threw his lance, but it recoiled harmless from the shield of Æneas. The Trojan hero then threw his, which penetrating the shield of Turnus pierced his thigh. Then Turnus' fortitude forsook him, and he begged for mercy; Æneas, indeed, would have spared his opponent's life, but at the instant his eye fell on the belt of Pallas, which Turnus had taken from the slaughtered youth. Instantly his rage revived, and exclaiming, “ Pallas immolates thee with this blow," he thrust him through with his sword.

Here the poem of the Æneid closes, and we are left to infer that Æneas, having triumphed over his foes, obtained Lavinia for his bride. Tradition adds that he founded a city and called it Lavinium, after her name. His son Iulus founded Alba Longa, which became the birthplace of Romulus and Remus and the cradle of Rome. . )

CHAPTER XXX

MYTHS OF THE NORSE GODS. 1

§ 177. The Creation. — According to the Eddas there was once no heaven above nor earth beneath, but only a bottomless deep, Ginungagap, and a world of mist, Niflheim, in which sprang a fountain. Twelve rivers issued from this fountain, Vergelmer, and when they had flowed far from their source, they froze into ice, and one iayer accumulating over another, the great deep was filled up.

Southward from the world of mist was the world of light, Muspelheim. From this proceeded a warm wind upon the ice and melted it. The vapors rose in the air and formed clouds, from which sprang Ymir, the Frost giant and his progeny, and the cow Audhumbla, whose milk afforded nourishment and food to the giant. The cow got nourishment by licking the hoar frost and salt from the ice. While she was one day licking the salt stones there appeared at first the hair of some being, on the second day his whole head, and on the third the entire form endowed with beauty, agility, and power. This new being was a god, Bori, from whom and his wife, a daughter of the giant race, sprang Bor, the father of Odin, Vili, and Ve. They slew the giant Ymir, and out of his body formed the earth, of his blood the seas, of his bones the mountains, of his hair the trees, of his skull the heavens, and of his brain clouds, charged with hail and snow. Of Ymir's eyebrows the gods built a fence around this Midgard or mid-earth between Nilfleim and Muspelheim, destined to become the abode of man.

Odin then regulated the periods of day and night and the seasons by placing in the heavens the sun and moon, and appointing to them their respective courses. As soon as the sun began to shed its rays upon the earth, it caused the vegetable world to bud and sprout. Shortly after the gods (the Anse-race, Anses, Aesir, or Asa-folk) had created the world, they walked by the side of the sea, pleased with their new work, but found that it was still incomplete, for it was without human beings. They therefore took an ashen spar and made a man out of it; woman they made out of a piece of alder; and they called the man Ash and the woman Embla. Qdin then gave them life and soul, Vili reason and motion, and Ve bestowed upon them the senses, expressive features, and speech. Midgard was then given them as their residence, and they became the progenitors of the human race.

1 For Records of Norse Mythology see s 13 and Commentary.

Yggdrasil. — The mighty ash tree Yggdrasil was supposed to support the whole universe. It sprang from the body of Ymir, — this earth, — and had three immense roots, extending one into Asgard (the dwelling of the gods), the other into Jötunheim (the abode of the giants), and the third to Niflheim (the region of darkness and cold). By the side of each of these roots is a spring, from which it is watered. The root that extends into Asgard is carefully tended by the three Norns, — goddesses who are regarded as the dispensers of fate. They are Urdur (the past), Verdandi (the present), Skuld (the future). The spring at the Jötunheim side is Mimir's well, in which wisdom and wit lie hidden, but that of Nifheim feeds the adder, Nidhogge (darkness), which perpetually gnaws at the root. Four harts run across the branches of the tree and bite the buds ; they represent the four winds. Under the tree lies Ymir, and when he tries to shake off its weight the earth quakes.

§ 178. Odin and his Valhalla. — To Asgard, the abode of the gods, access is gained only by crossing the bridge, Bifrost (the rainbow). Asgard — Gladsheim for the gods, Vingolf for the goddessés — consists of golden and silver palaces; but the most beautiful of these is Valhalla, the great hall of Odin. When seated on his throne he overlooks heaven and earth. Beside him sits Frigga, his wife, who knows all things. Upon his shoulders are the ravens Hugin and Munin, — Thought and Memory, — who fly every day over the whole world, and on their return report to him what they have seen and heard. At his feet lie his two wolves, Geri and Freki, to whom Odin gives the meat that is set before him, for he himself stands in no need of food. Mead is for him both food and drink. He invented the Runic characters; the decrees of fate, inscribed therein, it is the business of the Norns to engrave upon a metal shield. From Odin's name, spelt Woden, as it sometimes is, comes Wednesday.

Odin is frequently called Alfadur (All-father), but this name is sometimes used in a way that shows that the Scandinavians had an idea of a deity superior to Odin, uncreated and eternal. In Valhalla Odin feasts with his chosen heroes, all those who have fallen bravely in battle, for all who die a peaceful death are excluded. The flesh of the boar Serimnir is served up to them, and is abundant for all. For although this boar is cooked every morning, he becomes whole again every night. For drink the heroes are supplied abundantly with mead from the she-goat Heidrun. When the heroes are not feasting they amuse themselves with fighting. Every day they ride out into the court or field and fight until they cut each other in pieces. This is their pastime; but when meal time comes, they recover from their wounds and return to feast in Valhalla.

The Valkyries. — The Valkyries are warlike virgins, mounted upon horses and armed with helmets, shields, and spears. Odin is desirous of gathering many heroes in Valhalla that he may gloriously meet the giants in the day of the final contest; he therefore sends to every battle-field for the bravest of those who shall be slain. The Valkyries, Choosers of the Slain, are his messengers. When they ride forth on their errand, their armor sheds a weird flickering light over the northern skies, making what men call the Aurora Borealis.?

1 Gray's ode, The Fatal Sisters, is founded on this superstition.

« НазадПродовжити »