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This was sufficient; and the utmost Ceres could obtain, was that she should pass six months of the year with her mother and six months with Pluto, when she became his wife. The attempts of Ceres to encourage the art of agriculture were not always favourably received: the King of the Scythians, who loved the sword more than the ploughshare, and the spear more than the reaping hook, having attempted to smother the art taught by Ceres in its infancy, was metamorphosed into a lynx.
Nor was this the only instance of the vengeance of the Goddess, who was irritable, and prompt to punish.
A young child, whose chief crime was having laughed to see her eat with avidity, was changed into a lizard: while a Thessalian, who had desecrated and attempted to destroy a sacred forest, was doomed to an hunger so cruel, that he devoured his own limbs, and died in the midst of fearful torments. We have already seen that the decrees of Destiny, or Fate, were superior even to the will of Jupiter, as the King of the Gods could not restore Proserpine to her mother, Destiny having decreed otherwise.
But of this being, as possessing a place among the heroes of mythology, we are left in considerable ignorance. Scarcely knowing even if he were a God, or only the name or symbol whereby to represent an immutable and unchangeable law. In the antique bas-reliefs he is often to be seen, with a bandage over his eyes, and near him an open book which the gods alone might consult: and in which are written those events which must inevitably come to pass, and which all are so anxious to discover.
Asteria, her sister, disdaining the embraces of the God, threw herself into the sea, and was changed into the isle which bears the name of Delos; where Latona afterwards sought refuge from the fury of Juno, when about to overwhelm her, for her frailty with her husband. The irritated Goddess, to punish Latona for her crime, excited against her the serpent Python, who pursued her wheresoever she went; until at last, in the Isle of Delos, alone and unfriended, bearing in her bosom the fruit of her weakness, she gave birth to Apollo and Diana.
During her residence at her father's court, Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, had the insolence to prefer herself to Latona, who had but two children, while Niobe possessed seven sons and seven daughters. She even ridiculed the worship which was paid to Latona, observing, that she had a better claim to altars and sacrifices than the mother of Apollo. This insolence provoked Latona, and she entreated her children to punish the arrogant Niobe.
The bodies of Niobe's children were left unburied in the plains for nine successive days, because Jupiter changed into stones all such as attempted to inter them. On the tenth, they were honoured with a funeral by the Gods. But so insolent an act could not remain unpunished, and Jupiter exiled him from Heaven.
While on earth, he loved the nymph Daphne, and Mercury who had invented the lyre, gave it to him that he might the more effectually give vent to his passion. This lyre, was formed of the shell of a tortoise, and composed of seven cords, while to its harmonious tones were raised the walls of Troy.
In vain, however, were the sweet sounds of the lyre tuned, to soften Daphne whose affection rested with another, and was insensible to that of Apollo, though he pursued her with fervour for a year.
Daphne, still inexorable, was compelled to yield to the fatigue which oppressed her, when the Gods, at her entreaty, changed her into a laurel. Apollo took a branch and formed it into a crown, and to this day the laurel remains one of the attributes of the God. The leaves of this tree are believed to possess the property of preserving from thunder, and of making dreams an image of reality to those who place it beneath their pillow.
However earnest Apollo might have been in his pursuit of Daphne, he did not long remain inconsolable, but formed a tender attachment for Leucothoe, daughter of king Orchamus, and to introduce himself with greater facility, he assumed the shape and features of her mother. Their happiness was complete, when Clytie, her sister, who was enamoured of the God, and was jealous of his amours with Leucothoe, discovered the whole intrigue to her father, who ordered his daughter to be buried alive. Apollo passing by accident over the tomb which contained her, heard her last melancholy cries, but unable to save her from death, he sprinkled nectar and ambrosia over her tomb, which penetrating as far as the body, changed it into the beautiful tree that bears the frankincense; while the unhappy Clytie, tormented by remorse, and disdained by the God, was changed into a sunflower, the plant which turns itself without ceasing, towards its deity, the sun.
These unhappy endeavours of Apollo, determined him to take refuge in friendship, and he attached himself to the young Hyacinth;. But misfortune appeared to cling to all who were favoured by Apollo, for as they played at quoits with Zephyr, the latter fired by jealousy, blew the quoit of Apollo on the forehead of the unhappy mortal, who fell dead upon the green turf on which they were playing; while his blood sinking into the ground, produced the flower which still bears his name.
Apollo was so disconsolate at the death of Hyacinth, that, as we have seen, he changed his blood into a flower which bore his name, and placed his body among the constellations. The Spartans established yearly festivals in his honour, which continued for three days; they did not adorn their hair with garlands during their festivals, nor eat bread, but fed only upon sweetmeats.
Saddened by his efforts to form an endearing friendship, Apollo once more sighed for the nymph Perses, daughter of Ocean, and had by her the celebrated Circe, remarkable for her knowledge of magic and venomous herbs.
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Bolina, another nymph to whom he was attached, wishing to escape from his pursuit, threw herself into the waves, and was received by the nymphs of Amphitrion. After this, Apollo lost the young Cyparissus, who had replaced Hyacinth in his favour, and guarded his flocks; this young shepherd having slain by accident a stag of which Apollo was fond, expired of grief, and was changed into the tree which bears his name.
Apollo now attached himself to the sybil of Cumes, and granted to her the boon of prolonging her life as many years as there were grains in a handful of sand which she held.
Full text of "Ovid's Metamorphoses, tr. by dr. Garth, and others"
But she lived to repent of this frightful gift. Cassandra, daughter of Priam, consented to her prayer, if Apollo would grant to her the power of divination.
Apollo agreed, and swore to the truth of his promise by the river Styx. Scarcely had he uttered the oath, than the gods, who could not absolve him from it, rallied him on his folly. Irritated at the ridicule they poured upon him, he added to this gift, the restriction, that she should never believe her own prophecies. To this nymph succeeded the chaste Castalia, whom he pursued to the very foot of Parnassus, where the Gods metamorphosed her into a fountain.
As Apollo was lamenting his loss on the bank of that river, he heard an exquisite melody escaping from the depth of the wood. He approached the place from whence the sound seemed to issue, and recognized the nine muses, children of Jupiter and Mnemosyne. The taste and feelings of Apollo responded to those of these noble sisters: they received him in their palace, and assembled together with him to converse on the arts and sciences. Among their possessions, the Muses and Apollo had a winged horse, named Pegasus. This courser, born of the blood of Medusa, fixed his residence on Mount Helicon, and, by striking the earth with his foot, caused the spring of Hippocrene to gush from the ground.
While the courser was thus occupied, Apollo mounted his back, placed the Muses with him, and Pegasus, lifting his wings, carried them to the court of Bacchus. Envious of the fame of Apollo at this court, Marsyas, the Phrygian, declared that, with his flute, he could surpass the melody of the God's divine lyre, and challenged Apollo to a trial of his skill as a musician; the God accepted the challenge, and it was mutually agreed, that he who was defeated should be flayed alive. The Muses were appointed umpires.
Ovid's Valley (Book One of The Recruiters)
Each exerted his utmost skill, and the victory was adjudged to Apollo. The God, upon this, tied his opponent to a tree, and punished him as had been agreed. Undeterred by this example, Pan, favourite of Midas, King of Lydia, wished also to compete with Apollo in the art of which the latter was master. Pan began the struggle, and Midas repeated his songs with enthusiasm, without paying the least attention to his celestial rival. Pan again sang, and Midas repeated; when, to his surprise, the latter felt, pressing through his hair, a pair of ears, long and shaggy.
Alarmed at this phenomenon, Pan took to flight, and the prince, desolate at the loss of his favourite, made one of his attendants, some say his wife, the confidant of his misfortune, begging her not to betray his trust. The secret was too great for the bosom of its holder; she longed to tell it, but dared not, for fear of punishment; and as the only way of consoling herself, sought a retired and lonely spot, where she threw herself on the earth, whispering "King Midas has the ears of an ass, King Midas has the ears of an ass. When Phaeton received the reins from his father, he immediately betrayed his ignorance and incapacity.
The flying horses took advantage of his confusion, and departed from their accustomed track. Phaeton repented too late of his rashness, for heaven and earth seemed threatened with an universal conflagration, when Jupiter struck the rider with a thunderbolt, and hurled him headlong into the river Po. His body, consumed by fire, was found by the nymphs of the place, and honoured with a decent burial. The Heliades, his sisters wept for four months, without ceasing, until the Gods changed them into poplars, and their tears into grains of amber; while the young king of the Ligurians, a chosen friend of Phaeton, was turned into a swan at the very moment he was yielding to his deep regrets.
Aurora is also the daughter of Apollo. She granted the gift of immortality to Tithonus, her husband, son of the king of Troy; but soon perceiving that the gift was valueless, unless the power of remaining ever young was joined with it, she changed him into a grasshopper. From their union sprang Memnon, who was killed by Achilles at the siege of Troy.
The tears of his mother were the origin of the early dew, and the Egyptians formed, in honour of him, the celebrated statue which possessed the wonderful property of uttering a melodious sound every morning at sunrise, as if in welcome of the divine luminary, like that which is heard at the breaking of the string of a harp when it is wound up. This was effected by the rays of the sun when they fell on it. At its setting, the form appeared to mourn the departure of the God, and uttered sounds most musical and melancholy; this celebrated statue was dismantled by the order of Cambyses, when he conquered Egypt, and its ruins still astonish modern travellers by their grandeur and beauty.
It is from his encounter with this serpent, that in the statues which remain of him, our eyes are familiar with the bow placed in his grasp. But the gods grew jealous of the homage shewn to Apollo, and recalling him from earth, replaced him in his seat at Olympus. The fable of Apollo is, perhaps, that which is most spread over the faith of antiquity.
On his altars are immolated a bull or a white lamb—to him is offered the crow, supposed to read the future, the eagle who can gaze on the sun, the cock whose cry welcomes his return, and the grasshopper, who sings during his empire. This God is represented in the figure of a young man without beard, with curling locks of hair, his brow wreathed with laurels, and his head surrounded with beams of light.
Sometimes he carries a buckler, and is accompanied by the three Graces, who are the animating deities of genius and the fine arts, and at his feet is placed a swan. He had temples and statues in every country, particularly in Egypt, Greece, and Italy; the most famous was that of Delos, where they celebrated the Pythian games, that of Soractes, where the priests worshipped by treading with their naked feet on burning coals, though without feeling pain, and that of Delphi, in which the youth of the place offered to the gods their locks of hair, possibly because this offering was most difficult to the vanity of youth.
Apollo made known his oracles through the medium of a sibyl.
Numéros en texte intégral
This was a female, named also a Pythoness, on account of her seat being formed of massive gold resembling the skin of the serpent Python. The history of the tripod will be found to afford much interest. The fishermen who had found it in their nets, sought the oracle to consult its responses. This was to offer it to the wisest man in Greece. They presented it to Thales, who had told them that the most difficult of all human knowledge was the art of knowing ourselves.
Thales offered the tripod to Bias. When the enemy was reducing his native city to ashes, he withdrew, leaving behind him his wealth, saying, "I carry all that is worthy within myself.