Old Greek Stories

Page: 47

"I know that the child's life is safe," she said, "so long as that stick is kept unburned."

And so, as the years went by, Meleager grew up to be a brave young man, so gentle and noble that his name became known in every land of Greece. He did many daring deeds and, with other heroes, went on a famous voyage across the seas in search of a marvelous fleece of gold; and when he returned to Calydon the people declared that he was the worthiest of the sons of OEneus to become their king.


Now it happened one summer that the vineyards of Calydon were fuller of grapes than they had ever been before, and there was so much wheat in the fields that the people did not know what to do with it.

"I will tell you what to do," said King OEneus. "We will have a thanksgiving day, and we will give some of the grain and some of the fruit to the Mighty Beings who sit among the clouds on the mountain top. For it is from them that the sunshine and the fair weather and the moist winds and the warm rains have come; and without their aid we could never have had so fine a harvest."

The very next day the king and the people of Calydon went out into the fields and vineyards to offer up their thank offerings. Here and there they built little altars of turf and stones and laid dry grass and twigs upon them; and then on top of the twigs they put some of the largest bunches of grapes and some of the finest heads of wheat, which they thought would please the Mighty Beings who had sent them so great plenty.

There was one altar for Ceres, who had shown men how to sow grain, and one for Bacchus, who had told them about the grape, and one for wing-footed Mercury, who comes in the clouds, and one for Athena, the queen of the air, and one for the keeper of the winds, and one for the giver of light, and one for the driver of the golden sun car, and one for the king of the sea, and one-which was the largest of all-for Jupiter, the mighty thunderer who sits upon the mountain top and rules the world. And when everything was ready, King OEneus gave the word, and fire was touched to the grass and the twigs upon the altars; and the grapes and the wheat that had been laid there were burned up. Then the people shouted and danced, for they fancied that in that way the thank offerings were sent right up to Ceres and Bacchus and Mercury and Athena and all the rest. And in the evening they went home with glad hearts, feeling that they had done right.

But they had forgotten one of the Mighty Beings. They had not raised any altar to Diana, the fair huntress and queen of the woods, and they had not offered her a single grape or a single grain of wheat. They had not intended to slight her; but, to tell the truth, there were so many others that they had never once thought about her.