Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

Page: 35

To commemorate this miracle, the gods placed Arion’s harp, together with the dolphin, in the heavens, where they form a constellation.

In the sunny plains of Greece there once dwelt Clymene, a fair nymph. She was not alone, however, for her golden-haired little son Phaeton was there to gladden her heart with all his childish graces.

Story of Phaeton.

Early in the morning, when the sun’s bright orb first appeared above the horizon, Clymene would point it out to her boy, and tell him that his father, Apollo, was setting out for his daily drive. Clymene so often entertained her child with stories of his father’s beauty and power, that at last Phaeton became conceited, and acquired a habit of boasting rather loudly of his divine parentage. His playmates, after a time, wearied of his arrogance, and, to avoid the constant repetition of his vain speeches, bade him show some proof of his divine origin, or keep his peace.

Stung to the quick by some insolent taunts which they added, Phaeton hastened to his mother, and begged her to direct him to his father, that he might obtain the desired proof. Clymene immediately gave him all necessary information, and bade him make haste if he would reach his father’s palace in the far east before the sun chariot passed out of its portals to accomplish its daily round. Directly eastward Phaeton journeyed, nor paused to rest until he came in view of the golden and jeweled pinnacles and turrets of his father’s abode.

“The sun’s bright palace, on high columns rais’d
With burnish’d gold and flaming jewels blaz’d,
The folding gates diffus’d a silver light,
And with a milder gleam refresh’d the sight.”

[84] Quite undazzled by this splendor, the youth still pressed on, straining his eyes to catch the first glimpse of the godly father, whose stately bearing and radiant air his mother had so enthusiastically described.

Apollo, from his golden throne, had watched the boy’s approach, and, as he drew nearer, recognized him as his own offspring. Timidly now Phaeton advanced to the steps of his father’s throne, and humbly waited for permission to make his errand known. Apollo addressed him graciously, called him his son, and bade him speak without fear. In a few minutes the youth impetuously poured out the whole story, and watched with pleasure the frown which gathered on Apollo’s brow when he repeated his companions’ taunts. As soon as he had finished his tale, Apollo exclaimed that he would grant him any proof he wished, and confirmed these words by a solemn oath.

“‘By the terrible Styx!’ said the angry sire,
While his eyes flashed volumes of fury and fire,
‘To prove your reviler an infamous liar,
I swear I will grant you whate’er you desire!’”