Myths That Every Child Should Know A Selection Of The Classic Myths Of All Times For Young People

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If the men who created the myths had set to work to make wonder tales as stories are sometimes made to instruct while they entertain children, they would have left a mass of very dull tales which few people would have cared to read. They had no idea of doing anything so artificial and mechanical; they made these old stories because all life was a story to them, full of splendid or terrible figures moving across the sky or through the sea and in the depths of the woods, and whichever way they looked they saw or thought they saw mysterious and wonderful things going on. They were as much interested in their world as we are in ours; we write hundreds of scientific books every year to explain our world; they told hundreds of stories every year to explain theirs.

This selection represents the work of several authors, and does not, therefore, preserve uniformity of style. It is probably better for the young reader that the Greek Myths should come from one hand, and the Norse Myths from another. The classical work of Hawthorne has been generously drawn upon. No change of any kind has been made in the text, but the introductions connecting one myth with another have been omitted.

Hamilton Wright Mabie.

Myths That Every Child Should Know



Did you ever hear of the golden apples that grew in the garden of the Hesperides? Ah, those were such apples as would bring a great price, by the bushel, if any of them could be found growing in the orchards of nowadays! But there is not, I suppose, a graft of that wonderful fruit on a single tree in the wide world. Not so much as a seed of those apples exists any longer.

And, even in the old, old, half-forgotten times, before the garden of the Hesperides was overrun with weeds, a great many people doubted whether there could be real trees that bore apples of solid gold upon their branches. All had heard of them, but nobody remembered to have seen any. Children, nevertheless, used to listen, open-mouthed, to stories of the golden apple tree, and resolved to discover it, when they should be big enough. Adventurous young men, who desired to do a braver thing than any of their fellows, set out in quest of this fruit. Many of them returned no more; none of them brought back the apples. No wonder that they found it impossible to gather them! It is said that there was a dragon beneath the tree, with a hundred terrible heads, fifty of which were always on the watch, while the other fifty slept.

In my opinion it was hardly worth running so much risk for the sake of a solid golden apple. Had the apples been sweet, mellow, and juicy, indeed that would be another matter. There might then have been some sense in trying to get at them, in spite of the hundred-headed dragon.