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Classic Myths

Page: 29

From the cover of a drinking cup. <strong><a href=Echo is seen in the branches. Pan is sitting on the rock.">

"She wandered from cave to cave and rock to rock, always answering back when those who tried to find her called, but never able to tell where she was. She grew thinner and thinner, till at last nothing was left of her but her voice.

"That she will always keep, and try as hard as you may, you can never have the last word with Echo."


IRIS. From an ancient fresco.

Think of the beautiful Iris, wrapped in a fleecy cloud, gliding over this wonderful path in the heavens! Wouldn't it have been a lovely sight to see?

Once Juno sent her all the way to Dreamland to bring to Halcyone, the daughter of Aeolus, a dream of her husband, who was far away on the ocean.

Iris loved to help poor mortals, and tears filled her eyes when she heard how this lonely woman longed to see the one she loved so well.

The clouds caught the tears from the eyes of Iris, and quickly made ready for her the glorious rainbow bridge, reaching from Dreamland to the wonderful Garden of the Gods.

She wrapped herself in a cloud chosen from the sunset and, stepping into her chariot, gave the signal to her birds and drove swiftly down, down to the dim country of the King of Sleep.

Before she could reach the entrance to his palace, she had to drive through field after field of poppies, red as the sunset she had just left in the sky, for poppies give sleep to the people of Dreamland.

Somnus, the King of Sleep, lived in a deep, still cave, so dark that he had never seen the rainbow or the sun. There was no gate; soft black plumes and curtains served as doors. Here in the heart of Dreamland Iris saw all about her strange, beautiful dreams.

There were dreams for children of toys and candies and plays; dreams for men and women of all that they had ever wished for; dreams, dreams, everywhere. But Iris did not like darkness any better than you and I do, and she quickly gave an order for the King of Sleep to send the best dream possible to the anxious Halcyone. Then back she drove over the rainbow bridge, up, up to the bright palace in the clouds.

THE HEAD OF <strong><a href=IRIS. From a frieze on the Parthenon.">

As soon as she had left the rainbow's track it faded away, but, even before it was out of sight, a dream of her husband had come to Halcyone, and Iris was happy.

Iris loved the water best of all things on earth. She always wore a chain of raindrops for pearls, and a cloud for a robe. She had an army of soldiers by each river bank. Men called the soldiers plants, but their swords were always drawn for Iris, and their stately heads were adorned with her favorite colors.

When you see a group of plants clustered at the water's edge, with their sword-like leaves pointing to the sky, and their great blue flowers looking like a crown, remember that is the flower Iris loved.


THE THUNDER-GOD AND HIS BROTHER

Norse

Tiu, Ziu, or Tyr, were three names for one of Woden's sons. Tiu was the brother of Thor, and his mother, Frigga, was always proud of his courage in war and of his skill and strength in battle. The soldiers of the Northland cried to him for help as often as they did to his father, Woden.

Tiu's sign was a sword, and the brave old kings of Norway and their followers used to engrave his name upon their bright steel blades that they might please the great warrior who lived in Asgard. It was thought that if Tiu saw his name written in the strange Runic letters he would give his help to the man who honored that name and keep his good sword sharp.

Thor and Tiu went, in the olden time, to the house of a giant to secure a large kettle which was in the giant's house.

Thor's goats drew with magic swiftness the chariot in which the two rode, and Thor and Tiu arrived at the house in a few moments.

The giant's wife hid the two huge visitors under one of the many caldrons she had in her kitchen. When her husband came he broke all the kettles but one by just glancing at them. He welcomed his visitors in a very grim way and ordered them to be seated at the table with him. Thor ate so much that the giant grew angry, but Thor told him he would repay all by bringing him fish from the sea the next day.

Thor caught two whales and carried them to the giant's house, as he had promised. The giant laughingly said that he would give him one of the kettles if he could carry it. Tin tried twice and failed, but Thor, putting on his magic belt, lifted the kettle and set it on his head like a cap.

Then the goats took the two sons of Woden back to their home in Asgard.

If anyone should tell you that the giant was winter, and his kettles the strangely shaped icebergs of the arctic North, would you believe it? Thor was the god of thunder riding in the clouds with his brother, the god of bravery and of the strong winds.


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