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The Student's Mythology A Compendium of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Hindoo, Chinese, Thibetian, Scandinavian, Celtic, Aztec, and Peruvian Mythologies

Page: 32

The following lines are taken from Dale’s translation of the Antig´one. Creon reproaches the heroine with having violated the laws; she replies:

“Ne’er did eternal Jove such laws ordain,
Or Justice, throned amid th’ infernal powers,
Who on mankind these holier rites imposed—
Nor can I deem thine edict armed with power
To contravene the firm unwritten laws
Of the just gods, thyself a weak frail mortal!
. . . I knew before
That I must die, though thou had’st ne’er proclaimed it,
And if I perish ere th’ allotted term,
I deem that death a blessing. Who that lives
Like me encompassed by unnumbered ills,
But would account it blessedness to die?
If then I meet the doom thy laws assign,
It nothing grieves me. Had I left my brother,
From my own mother sprung, on the bare earth
To lie unburied, that, indeed, might grieve me;
But for this deed I mourn not.” . . .

[171]

CHAPTER XXXVII.

ÆNEAS.

Ques. Who was Æne´as?

Ans. He was a Trojan chief, the son of Venus and Anchi´ses. He was born on Mount Ida, where he was nurtured by the Dryads until he had attained his fifth year, when he was brought to his father. Anchi´ses was not on friendly terms with the family of Priam, but this coldness did not prevent Æne´as from exerting himself to the utmost in defence of his country. Excepting Hector only, there was no Trojan who so distinguished himself by his valor. When Troy was taken, Æne´as made his escape from the burning city, bearing on his shoulders the aged Anchi´ses, and leading his little son Ascanius by the hand. His wife was separated from him in the confusion and darkness, and perished by the sword of the enemy. Anchises bore with him the sacred Penates of Troy, and his household gods. Æne´as was joined by the greater part of the Trojans, both men and women, who had escaped from the horrors of that fatal night. They concealed [172] themselves in the neighboring mountains until the Greeks had departed, after which they constructed a fleet of twenty sail. In the second year after the destruction of Troy, the remnant of the Trojans embarked under the guidance of Æne´as in search of new settlements. After many wanderings and adventures, they landed at Epi´rus, and were rejoiced to learn that Hel´enus, one of the sons of Priam, was reigning in that country. He had married Androm´ache, and the meeting of Æne´as with the widow of the great Hector is the subject of a very beautiful passage in the Æneid. The Penates of Troy had appeared at night to Anchi´ses, and revealed to him that Italy was the land allotted by the Fates to the exiled Trojans. Æne´as recalled a prediction of Cassandra to the same effect; and Hel´enus, who was endowed with the gift of prophecy, now confirmed what had been already foretold. He rendered his exiled countrymen all the assistance in his power, and dismissed them at length, loaded with costly gifts. Æne´as was destined to pass through many perils before landing on the shores of Italy. In the seventh year of their wanderings, the Trojans were driven by a storm on the coast of Africa; here they were kindly entertained by Dido, who was then engaged in the erection of her new city of Carthage. The queen admired the great qualities of the Trojan chief, and felt her heart moved with compassion at the sight of so much undeserved misfortune. She resolved, therefore, to [173] share her throne with the hero, and to offer his followers a permanent settlement in the country. This proposal seems not to have been displeasing either to Æne´as or to the Trojans. Forgetful of the decrees of fate, they lingered many months in idle pleasure, and Æne´as was only roused to action by the direct intervention of the gods. Jupiter sent Mercury to the hero, commanding him to embark without delay, and proceed to his destined settlement in Italy. Æne´as obeyed, and made the necessary preparations for departure, disregarding the tears and reproaches of the queen.


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