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Classic Myths

Page: 17

When Prometheus grasped the torch, it leaped upward through the sky past the pale, cold moon; past flashing stars; upward, till the torch and its bearer stood in the high heavens by the burning chariot of the sun.

The pine kissed the leaping flames and a fire was kindled in its own heart. Prometheus sprang backward from the sun chariot, and, bearing the flaming torch in his hands, brought down to man, from the sun, the gift of fire.

No creature but man can possess or use this gift. Man would not part with it for all the treasures below the earth's surface, nor for all the gifts that birds, beasts, and fishes can boast.

With fire, weapons are made that can subdue the strongest beast that ever fought for its life. Tools with which man tills the earth and blasts the rock are made with the aid of fire. With fire man warms his dwelling. While the wild creatures shiver in the ice and snow man makes summer within the four walls of his home.

Man walks the earth a conqueror, but should the gift of fire be taken from him, how would he then teach the lower animals that he is their master? Having this gift he excels all other creatures. Without it he would be poor indeed.

Go where you will, the gift Prometheus brought is known to the race to whom it was given. There is no savage so ignorant but that he has the art of making fire.

Fire gleams from the eyeballs of the beasts when they are in anger, but this fire is cold compared with the burning blaze of wood and coal.

No beast will attack mankind when protected by a blazing torch. The gift of Prometheus shows the wisdom of Minerva.


BEYOND THE FIRE ISLAND

Russian

Once there was a man who decided to take a journey to the uttermost end of the world where it touches the sky. He thought he could reach that point only by sea, but being tired of the water decided to travel on the wings of an eagle. A raven told him better, however, for the nights are months long in the far Northland and the eagle loves the sunlight.

Then this man, who was a king, gave orders to fell the greatest oak tree in his three kingdoms. Olaf the Brave undertook this task. The oak tree was very large and neither sun, moon, nor stars could shine between its leaves, they were so close together. The king commanded that deep-sea sailing ships should be made from its trunk, warships from its crown, merchant ships from its branches, children's boats from the splinters, and maidens' rowing boats from the chips.

But the wise men of Norway and Finland assembled and gave the king advice. They told him that it was no use building a wooden ship, for the spirits of the Northern Lights would set it on fire. Then the king made a ship of silver. The whole of the ship--planking, deck, masts, and chains--was of silver, and he named his vessel "The Flyer."


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