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A Book of Myths

Page: 4

[1] Teutonic Heathendom.

[2] John Kelman, D.D., Among Famous Books.


[Pg xiii]

CONTENTS

PAGE
PROMETHEUS AND PANDORA 1
PYGMALION 11
PHAETON 16
ENDYMION 26
ORPHEUS 31
APOLLO AND DAPHNE 42
PSYCHE 46
THE CALYDONIAN HUNT 69
ATALANTA 78
ARACHNE 82
IDAS AND MARPESSA 90
ARETHUSA 100
PERSEUS THE HERO 105
NIOBE 124
HYACINTHUS 129
KING MIDAS OF THE GOLDEN TOUCH 134
CEYX AND HALCYONE 144
ARISTÆUS THE BEE-KEEPER 154
PROSERPINE 161
LATONA AND THE RUSTICS 169
[Pg xiv]ECHO AND NARCISSUS 174
ICARUS 181
CLYTIE 189
THE CRANES OF IBYCUS 192
SYRINX 197
THE DEATH OF ADONIS 202
PAN 209
LORELEI 220
FREYA, QUEEN OF THE NORTHERN GODS 227
THE DEATH OF BALDUR 234
BEOWULF 244
ROLAND THE PALADIN 266
THE CHILDREN OF LÎR 289
DEIRDRÊ 306

[Pg xv]

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

“What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?”
Frontispiece
PAGE
Then Pygmalion covered his eyes 12
She checked her hounds, and stood beside Endymion 28
Swiftly he turned, and found his wife behind him 38
Thus did Psyche lose her fear, and enter the golden doors 52
She stopped, and picked up the treasure 80
Marpessa sat alone by the fountain 92
They whimpered and begged of him 112
Darkness fell on the eyes of Hyacinthus 132
A grey cold morning found her on the seashore 152
She haunted him like his shadow 176
Freya sat spinning the clouds 228
“Baldur the Beautiful is dead!” 240
A stroke shivered the sword 262
Roland seized once more his horn 282
One touch for each with a magical wand of the Druids 294

[Pg 1]

A BOOK OF MYTHS

PROMETHEUS AND PANDORA

Those who are interested in watching the mental development of a child must have noted that when the baby has learned to speak even a little, it begins to show its growing intelligence by asking questions. “What is this?” it would seem at first to ask with regard to simple things that to it are still mysteries. Soon it arrives at the more far-reaching inquiries—“Why is this so?” “How did this happen?” And as the child’s mental growth continues, the painstaking and conscientious parent or guardian is many times faced by questions which lack of knowledge, or a sensitive honesty, prevents him from answering either with assurance or with ingenuity.

As with the child, so it has ever been with the human race. Man has always come into the world asking “How?” “Why?” “What?” and so the Hebrew, the Greek, the Maori, the Australian blackfellow, the Norseman—in a word, each race of mankind—has formed for itself an explanation of existence, an answer to the questions of the groping child-mind—“Who made the world?” “What is God?” “What made a God think of fire and air and water?” “Why am I, I?”

[Pg 2] Into the explanation of creation and existence given by the Greeks come the stories of Prometheus and of Pandora. The world, as first it was, to the Greeks was such a world as the one of which we read in the Book of Genesis—“without form, and void.” It was a sunless world in which land, air, and sea were mixed up together, and over which reigned a deity called Chaos. With him ruled the goddess of Night and their son was Erebus, god of Darkness. When the two beautiful children of Erebus, Light and Day, had flooded formless space with their radiance, Eros, the god of Love, was born, and Light and Day and Love, working together, turned discord into harmony and made the earth, the sea, and the sky into one perfect whole. A giant race, a race of Titans, in time populated this newly-made earth, and of these one of the mightiest was Prometheus. To him, and to his brother Epimethus, was entrusted by Eros the distribution of the gifts of faculties and of instincts to all the living creatures in the world, and the task of making a creature lower than the gods, something less great than the Titans, yet in knowledge and in understanding infinitely higher than the beasts and birds and fishes. At the hands of the Titan brothers, birds, beasts, and fishes had fared handsomely. They were Titanic in their generosity, and so prodigal had they been in their gifts that when they would fain have carried out the commands of Eros they found that nothing was left for the equipment of this being, to be called Man. Yet, nothing daunted, Prometheus took some clay from the ground at his feet, moistened it with water, and fashioned it into [Pg 3] an image, in form like the gods. Into its nostrils Eros breathed the spirit of life, Pallas Athené endowed it with a soul, and the first man looked wonderingly round on the earth that was to be his heritage. Prometheus, proud of the beautiful thing of his own creation, would fain have given Man a worthy gift, but no gift remained for him. He was naked, unprotected, more helpless than any of the beasts of the field, more to be pitied than any of them in that he had a soul to suffer.


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