Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 70

  Prays she Venus to assuage
  The hurricane's increasing rage,
  And to sooth the billows' scorn.
  And as gale on gale arises,
  Vows to each as sacrifices
  Spotless steer with gilded horn.
  To all the goddesses below,
  To "all the gods in heaven that be,"
  She prays that oil of peace may flow
  Softly on the storm-tossed sea.

  Blest Leucothea, befriend me!
  From cerulean halls attend me;
  Hear my prayer of agony.
  In the ocean desert's raving,
  Storm-tossed seamen, succor craving,
  Find in thee their helper nigh.
  Wrap him in thy charmed veil,
  Secret spun and secret wove,
  Certain from the deepest wave
  To lift him to its crests above."

  Now the tempests wild are sleeping,
  And from the horizon creeping
  Rays of morning streak the skies,
  Peaceful as it lay before
  The placid sea reflects the shore,
  Skies kiss waves and waves the skies.
  Little ripples, lightly plashing,
  Break upon the rock-bound strand,
  And they trickle, lightly playing
  O'er a corpse upon the sand.

  Yes, 'tis he! Although he perished,
  Still his sacred troth he cherished,
  An instant's glance tells all to her;
  Not a tear her eye lets slip
  Not a murmur leaves her lip;
  Down she looks in cold despair;
  Gazes round the desert sea,
  Trustless gazes round the sky,
  Flashes then of noble fire
  Through her pallid visage fly!

  "Yes, I know, ye mighty powers,
  Ye have drawn the fated hours
  Pitiless and cruel on.
  Early full my course is over.
  Such a course with such a lover;
  Such a share of joy I've known.
  Venus, queen, within thy temple,
  Thou hast known me vowed as thine,
  Now accept thy willing priestess
  As an offering at thy shrine."

  Downward then, while all in vain her
  Fluttering robes would still sustain her,
  Springs she into Pontus' wave;
  Grasping him and her, the god
  Whirls them in his deepest flood,
  And, himself, becomes their grave.
  With his prizes then contented,
  Peaceful bids his waters glide,
  From the unexhausted vessels,
  Whence there streams an endless tide.

Chapter IX

Minerva and Arachne. Niobe. The Story of Perseus

Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, was the daughter of Jupiter. She, they say, sprang forth from his brain full grown and clad in complete armor. She presided over the useful and ornamental arts, both those of men, such as agriculture and navigation, and those of women, spinning, weaving, and needle-work. She was also a warlike divinity; but a lover of defensive war only. She had no sympathy with Mars's savage love of violence and bloodshed. Athens was her chosen seat, her own city, awarded to her as the prize of a contest with Neptune, who also aspired to it. The tale ran that in the reign of Cecrops, the first king of Athens, the two deities contended for the possession of the city. The gods decreed that it should be awarded to that one who produced the gift most useful to mortals. Neptune gave the horse; Minerva produced the olive. The gods gave judgment that the olive was the more useful of the two, and awarded the city to the goddess; and it was named after her, Athens, her name in Greek being Athene.