Hero Tales

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To know something of these three great cycles, or groups, of classic and romantic stories—the hero tales of Troy, those of the ancient North, and those of Charlemagne—is essential to the acquirement of refined literary tastes. For this knowledge will go far toward helping its possessor to enjoy many things in our modern literature that would otherwise be puzzling or obscure. The importance, therefore, of placing some of the best of such tales early within the reach of school children and all young readers cannot be disputed.

In three volumes somewhat larger than the present one—"A Story of the Golden Age," "The Story of Siegfried," and "The Story of Roland"—I have already endeavored to introduce young readers to the most interesting portions of these great cycles of romance, narrating in each the adventures of the hero who is the central figure in the group of legends or tales under consideration. The present volume, made up of selections from these earlier books, has been prepared in response to repeated suggestions that certain portions of them, and especially some of the independent shorter stories, are well adapted to use in reading-classes at school. Of the seventeen stories herein presented, nine are from the "Golden Age," four from "Siegfried," and four from "Roland." They are, for the most part, episodes, complete in themselves, and connected only by a slender thread with the main narrative. Their intrinsic value is in no way diminished by being thus separated from their former setting, and each tale being independent of the others, they lend themselves more readily to the demands of the schoolroom.

It is well to observe that in no case have I endeavored to repeat the story in its exact original form. To have done so would have defeated the purpose in view; for without proper adaptation such stories are usually neither interesting nor intelligible to children. I have therefore recast and rearranged, using my own words, and adding here a touch of color and here a fanciful idea, as the narrative has seemed to permit or as my audience of school children may demand. Nevertheless, in the end, the essential features of each tale—those which give it value in its original form—remain unchanged.


  How Apollo Came to Parnassus
  The Hunt in the Wood of Calydon
  The Choice of Hercules
  Alpheus and Arethusa
  The Golden Apple
  Paris and Oenone
  Paris and Helen
  The Hoard of the Elves
  The Forging of Balmung
  Idun and Her Apples
  The Doom of the Mischief-maker
  The Hunt in the Wood of Puelle
  Ogier the Dane and the Fairies
  How Charlemagne Crossed the Alps
  What Happened at Roncevaux


A very long time ago, Apollo was born in the island of Delos. When the glad news of his birth was told, Earth smiled, and decked herself with flowers; the nymphs of Delos sang songs of joy that were heard to the utmost bounds of Greece; and choirs of white swans flew seven times around the island, piping notes of praise to the pure being who had come to dwell among men. Then Zeus looked down from high Olympus, and crowned the babe with a golden head-band, and put into his hands a silver bow and a sweet-toned lyre such as no man had ever seen; and he gave him a team of white swans to drive, and bade him go forth to teach men the things which are right and good, and to make light that which is hidden in darkness.