Classic Myths

Page: 42

"Minerva, as she was the goddess of wisdom, needed no such help as Poseidon had asked and received. Her plans were ready in a moment and she was waiting for the great day.

"When that day came all the people of the nameless city gathered together to see what was to be brought them. As they were seated on the side of mountain, on the top of which stood Jupiter, King Poseidon appeared on the plain before them, leading a wonderful black horse. It was covered with gold armor. It pawed the ground and stamped with its hoofs, and looked like the leader of a grand army. The people shouted and would have declared for Poseidon without waiting for his rival, but Jupiter quieted them.

MINERVA. From a <strong><a href=Roman statue.">

"Then the goddess came forward on the plain. She was beautiful, tall, stately. She seemed to be holding something very small in her hand. She opened her hand before the people and commanded a gardener to dig a hole in the earth at her feet. Into this hole she dropped the small something which was in her hand. As soon as the earth was over it, tiny leaves came out. Then it grew instantly into a tree covered with silver-gray leaves. Its trunk grew larger and larger. It seemed to touch the skies It was filled with fruit. She showed them how to extract the oil. She showed them how to use the fruit.

"The horse neighed and pawed, and Poseidon laughed at the woman's gift. 'Here is war, glory, and power!' he cried.

"'Here is life, peace, and plenty!' said the goddess.

"'The city shall be named Athena' came from Jupiter on the mountain top.

"And so the city of Athens was named and the people loved Athena for her gift of the olive tree."



Two grand trees stood on a hill near a lake. One was an oak with wide branches. The other was a linden.

"Man and wife," the people called them, and when asked why, said, "Because it is true. Once they could walk around and talk. Now they stand there side by side forever. But you can hear them whisper to each other sometimes."

And if asked, "Who were they?" even the little children would say, "Why, Philemon and Baucis."

Many children had these names in those days, and knew the story of the two trees well, for there were none like them anywhere else in the land.

It was said that these two people who lived in such strange form were once a poor old couple, and their home was a wretched house in the valley. Simple, honest, and quiet, they had little to do with their bustling neighbors.

One evening two strangers walked into the village, and stopping at the first house to ask for food, were sent away in a hurry.

"We work for a living and have nothing for those who don't. Go away."

They were told the same at the next house, and at the next, all down the street. Tired and hungry, they neared the cottage where Philemon and Baucis lived.