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CHARLES MILLS GAYLEY, LlTT.D., LL.D.
Professor Of The English Language And Literature
TO THE MUSES.
Whether on Ida's shady brow,
The chambers of the sun, that now
Whether in Heav'n ye wander fair,
Or the blue regions of the air,
Where the melodious winds have birth;
Whether on crystal rocks ye rove,
Wandering in many a coral grove,
How have you left the ancient love
The languid strings do scarcely move,
It has long been evident to me that much of our best English poetry lies beyond the imaginative reach of many readers because of their unfamiliarity with the commonplaces of literary allusion; reference, and tradition. Of such commonplaces few are more frequently recurrent than the situations and agencies of myth.
In view of this consideration, the Academic Council of the University of California, some two years ago, introduced into its requirements for entrance in English the subject of Classical Mythology in its relation to English Literature, and recommended, as a text-book for preparation, Bulfinch's Age of Fable. The experience of English and classical teachers in the schools of the state has attested the wisdom of the requirement; but the demand for some text-book adapted to the needs of the class-room has made necessary the preparation of this volume. For, while the Age of Fable offers a tempting collection of Greek, Norse, and Oriental narratives with illustrations from English literature, — while it has delighted one generation of American boys and girls, and will, no doubt, delight many generations to come, — it was designed neither as a school-book nor as a systematized presentation and interpretation of the myths that have most influenced English literature.
At the request of my publishers, I have accordingly undertaken such a revision and rearrangement of the materials of the Age of Fable as may adapt it to the purposes of teacher and pupil, and to the taste of readers somewhat more advanced in years than those addressed by the original work or by the edition which bears the name of the Rev. Edward Everett Hale. But,