Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 45

It was said that Zephyrus (the West-wind), who was also fond of Hyacinthus and jealous of his preference of Apollo, blew the quoit out of its course to make it strike Hyacinthus. Keats alludes to this in his Endymion, where he describes the lookers- on at the game of quoits:

  "Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent
  On either side, pitying the sad death
  Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath
  Of Zephyr slew him; Zephyr penitent,
  Who now ere Phoebus mounts the firmament,
  Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain."

An allusion to Hyacinthus will also be recognized in Milton's

"Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe."


Ceyx was King of Thessaly, where he reigned in peace without violence or wrong. He was son of Hesperus, the Day-star, and the glow of his beauty reminded one of his father. Halcyone, the daughter of Aeolus, was his wife, and devotedly attached to him. Now Ceyx was in deep affliction for the loss of his brother, and direful prodigies following his brother's death made him feel as if the gods were hostile to him. He thought best therefore to make a voyage to Claros in Ionia, to consult the oracle of Apollo. But as soon as he disclosed his intention to his wife Halcyone, a shudder ran through her frame, and her face grew deadly pale. "What fault of mine, dearest husband, has turned your affection from me? Where is that love of me that used to be uppermost in your thoughts? Have you learned to feel easy in the absence of Halcyone? Would you rather have me away?" She also endeavored to discourage him, by describing the violence of the winds, which she had known familiarly when she lived at home in her father's house, Aeolus being the god of the winds, and having as much as he could do to restrain them. "They rush together," said she, "with such fury that fire flashes from the conflict. But if you must go," she added, "dear husband, let me go with you, Otherwise I shall suffer, not only the real evils which you must encounter, but those also which my fears suggest."

These words weighed heavily on the mind of king Ceyx, and it was no less his own wish than hers to take her with him, but he could not bear to expose her to the dangers of the sea. He answered, therefore, consoling her as well as he could, and finished with these words: "I promise, by the rays of my father the Day-star, that if fate permits I will return before the moon shall have twice rounded her orb." When he had thus spoken he ordered the vessel to be drawn out of the ship-house, and the oars and sails to be put aboard. When Halcyone saw these preparations she shuddered, as if with a presentiment of evil. With tears and sobs she said farewell, and then fell senseless to the ground.