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Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 3


[Pg v]

ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOR

Lohengrin and Elsa the Beautiful.
Elsa on Her Knees Before Lohengrin Cover
The Good King Arthur.
Then Arthur Drew Out the Sword and was Proclaimed King Frontispiece
Prometheus, the Friend of Man. PAGE
Prometheus Punished for His Gift to Man 9
The Labors of Hercules.
The Hero Approached the Dreadful Monster 19
Deucalion and Pyrrha.
Deucalion and Pyrrha Casting the Bones of Their Mother Behind Them 31
Theseus and the Centaur.
The Centaur Fell Backward 35
Niobe.
Niobe Weeping for Her Children 40
The Gorgon's Head.
Perseus Slaying the Medusa 60
The Golden Fleece.
The Dragon Fell at Full Length Upon the Ground 104
The Cyclops.
The One-eyed Polyphemus 108
Œdipus and the Sphinx.
Œdipus Stood Before the Sphinx 116
Antigone, the Faithful Daughter and Sister.
The Blind Œdipus, Led by His Daughter Antigone 118
The Story of Iphigenia. [Pg vi]
Iphigenia About to be Sacrificed 140
The Sack of Troy.
The Trojan Horse 153
Beowulf and Grendel.
Beowulf Face to Face With the Fire-breathing Dragon 170
The Great Knight Siegfried.
Siegfried Came Off Victor in Every Encounter 214
Frithiof the Bold.
Frithiof and Ingeborg in the Temple of Balder 230
Wayland the Smith.
Wayland the Smith, Wearing the Wings He had Fashioned 234
Twardowski, the Polish Faust.
Twardowski in the Arms of the Evil One 242
Ilia Muromec of Russia.
Zidovin Threw the Iron Club High Into the Air and Caught It with One Hand 244
Kralewitz Marko of Servia.
They Gagged Marko and Bound Him to His Horse 246
The Decision of Libuscha.
Libuscha Insulted by Chrudis 248
Count Roland of France.
Roland's Own Death Was Very Near 265
The Cid.
The Youthful Cid Avenging the Death of His Father 267

[Pg 7]

PROMETHEUS, THE FRIEND OF MAN

Many, many centuries ago there lived two brothers, Prometheus or Forethought, and Epimetheus or Afterthought. They were the sons of those Titans who had fought against Jupiter and been sent in chains to the great prison-house of the lower world, but for some reason had escaped punishment.

Prometheus, however, did not care for idle life among the gods on Mount Olympus. Instead he preferred to spend his time on the earth, helping men to find easier and better ways of living. For the children of earth were not happy as they had been in the golden days when Saturn ruled. Indeed, they were very poor and wretched and cold, without fire, without food, and with no shelter but miserable caves.

"With fire they could at least warm their bodies and cook their food," Prometheus thought, "and later they could make tools and build houses for themselves and enjoy some of the comforts of the gods."

So Prometheus went to Jupiter and asked that he might be permitted to carry fire to the earth. But Jupiter shook his head in wrath.

"Fire, indeed!" he exclaimed. "If men had fire they would soon be as strong and wise as we who dwell on Olympus. Never will I give my consent."

Prometheus made no reply, but he didn't give up his idea of helping men. "Some other way must be found," he thought.

Then, one day, as he was walking among some reeds he broke off one, and seeing that its hollow stalk was filled with a dry, soft pith, exclaimed:

[Pg 8] "At last! In this I can carry fire, and the children of men shall have the great gift in spite of Jupiter."

Immediately, taking a long stalk in his hands, he set out for the dwelling of the sun in the far east. He reached there in the early morning, just as Apollo's chariot was about to begin its journey across the sky. Lighting his reed, he hurried back, carefully guarding the precious spark that was hidden in the hollow stalk.

Then he showed men how to build fires for themselves, and it was not long before they began to do all the wonderful things of which Prometheus had dreamed. They learned to cook and to domesticate animals and to till the fields and to mine precious metals and melt them into tools and weapons. And they came out of their dark and gloomy caves and built for themselves beautiful houses of wood and stone. And instead of being sad and unhappy they began to laugh and sing. "Behold, the Age of Gold has come again," they said.

But Jupiter was not so happy. He saw that men were gaining daily greater power, and their very prosperity made him angry.

"That young Titan!" he cried out, when he heard what Prometheus had done. "I will punish him."

But before punishing Prometheus he decided to vex the children of men. So he gave a lump of clay to his blacksmith, Vulcan, and told him to mold it in the form of a woman. When the work was done he carried it to Olympus.

Jupiter called the other gods together, bidding them give her each a gift. One bestowed upon her beauty, another, kindness, another, skill, another, curiosity, and so on. Jupiter himself gave her the gift of life, and they named her Pandora, which means "all-gifted."


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