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Classic Myths

Page: 26

To this very day the people of Finland think they can sometimes hear Vanemuine's voice when the forest trees sigh in the wind, or the water in the river softly laps against its rocky shore. Perhaps--who knows?--we may hear him, too, if we listen well!


ULYSSES. Making an offering of wine.

"King Aeolus went alone to the great cave in the mountains where he kept the four strong winds and some of the weaker ones. He pounded on the door with his heavy key to let them know he was there, and that they must wait his call. Then he unlocked the door and let out the strong East Wind, but caught the others in a great bag made of a whole ox-hide. This he tied with a stout cord, and the East Wind took it on his shoulders and carried it to the boat that was about to sail.

"Then King Aeolus told Ulysses how to fasten it to the mast, and the East Wind had great frolics with the queer bag in which were his brothers.

"King Aeolus told Ulysses never to sleep unless his faithful watchman was guarding this treasure. Ulysses thanked him and promised faithfully. Such beautiful weather had never been known before for so long a time. The East Wind had no one to quarrel with, and the boat flew like a bird for nine long days.

"The captain grew weary the tenth night and went to sleep while his watchman was off duty. That was just the chance the sailors wanted. Slyly up to the mast crept a strong sailor, thinking he would cut down this treasure which he thought was gold. As soon as the string snapped, he found out his mistake, and so did everyone in the boat.

"The mighty North Wind felt the loosening strings and rising from the corner of the ox-hide bag, into which he had been thrust, rushed past his brothers and escaped first into the open air. The West Wind came after, screaming hoarsely, while the South Wind, roused to anger by such rough treatment, whistled fiercely as his brother, North Wind, grappled with him. The clouds were twisted into curious shapes as the winds wrestled above the sea. The strong East Wind strove to drive back the West Wind, but found that nine days of rest had given his brother great strength, and the waves rose like mountains under their feet. For seven hours the winds fought, while the waters were black, for not one star dared to watch the battle. The boat of Ulysses was tossed like a seaweed, and the sailors longed for the sunlight that they might see if the storm had taken anyone from the ship. When the light came and the fury of the winds grew less, it was found that not one sailor had been lost; not even the traitor who had cut down the bag. His punishment was to live.


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