Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 8

  "From morn
  To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
  A summer's day; and with the setting sun
  Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star,
  On Lemnos, the AEgean isle."

Mars (Ares), the god of war, was the son of Jupiter and Juno. Phoebus Apollo [this is a Greek name of a Greek divinity, who seems to have had no [Roman] resemblance], the god of archery, prophecy, and music, was the son of Jupiter and Latona, and brother of Diana (Artemis). He was god of the sun, as Diana, his sister, was the goddess of the moon.

Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love and beauty, was the daughter of Jupiter and Dione. Others say that Venus sprang from the foam of the sea. The zephyr wafted her along the waves to the Isle of Cyprus, where she was received and attired by the Seasons, and then led to the assembly of the gods. All were charmed with her beauty, and each one demanded her for his wife. Jupiter gave her to Vulcan, in gratitude for the service he had rendered in forging thunderbolts. So the most beautiful of the goddesses became the wife of the most ill-favored of the gods. Venus possessed an embroidered girdle called the Cestus, which had the power of inspiring love. Her favorite birds were swans and doves, and the plants sacred to her were the rose and the myrtle.

Cupid (Eros), the god of love, was the son of Venus. He was her constant companion; and, armed with bow and arrows, he shot the darts of desire into the bosoms of both gods and men. There was a deity named Anteros, who was sometimes represented as the avenger of slighted love, and sometimes as the symbol of reciprocal affection. The following legend is told of him:—

Venus, complaining to Themis that her son Eros continued always a child, was told by her that it was because he was solitary, and that if he had a brother he would grow apace. Anteros was soon afterwards born, and Eros immediately was seen to increase rapidly in size and strength.

Minerva (Pallas Athene), the goddess of wisdom, was the offspring of Jupiter, without a mother. She sprang from his head, completely armed. Her favorite bird was the owl, and the plant sacred to her the olive.

Byron, in "Childe Harold," alludes to the birth of Minerva thus:—

  "Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,
  And freedom find no champion and no child,
  Such as Columbia saw arise, when she
  Sprang forth a Pallas, armed and undefiled?
  Or must such minds be nourished in the wild,
  Deep in the unpruned forest, 'midst the roar
  Of Cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
  On infant Washington? Has earth no more
  Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?"

Mercury (Hermes), was the son of Jupiter and Maia. He presided over commerce, wrestling and other gymnastic exercises; even over thieving, and everything, in short, which required skill and dexterity. He was the messenger of Jupiter, and wore a winged cap and winged shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with two serpents, called the Caduceus.