Hero Tales

Page: 6

Then the Cretans did as he had bidden them: they drew their vessel high up on the white beach, and when they had unladen it of their goods, they built an altar on the shore, and offered white barley to Phoebus Apollo, and gave thanks to the ever-living powers who had saved them from the terrors of the deep. After they had feasted and rested from their long voyage, they turned their faces toward Parnassus; and Apollo, playing sweeter music than men had ever heard, led the way; and the folk of Delphi, with choirs of boys and maidens, came to meet them, singing songs of victory as they helped the Cretans up the steep pathway to the temple in the cleft of the mountain.

"I leave you now to have sole care of my temple," said Apollo. "I charge you to keep it well. Deal righteously with all men; let no unclean thing pass your lips; forget self; guard well your thoughts, and keep your hearts free from guile. If you do these things, you shall be blessed with length of days and all that makes life glad. But if you forget my words, and deal treacherously with men, and cause any to wander from the path of right, then shall you be driven forth homeless and accursed, and others shall take your places in the service of my house."

Then the bright youth left them and hastened away to Mount Olympus. But every year he came again, and looked into his house, and spoke words of warning and of hope to his servants; and men say that he has often been seen on Parnassus, playing his lyre to the listening Muses, or with his sister, Artemis, chasing the mountain deer.



"When I was younger than I am to-day," said the old chief, as they sat one evening in the light of the blazing brands—"when I was much younger than now, it was my fortune to take part in the most famous boar hunt the world has ever known.

"There lived at that time, in Calydon, a mighty chief named Oineus—and, indeed, I know not but that he still lives. Oineus was rich in vineyards and in orchards, and no other man in all Greece was happier or more blessed than he. He had married, early in life, the Princess Althea, fairest of the maidens of Acarnania; and to them a son had been born, golden-haired and beautiful, whom they called Meleager.

"When Meleager was yet but one day old, his father held him in his arms, and prayed to Zeus and the mighty powers above: 'Grant, Father Zeus, and all ye deathless ones, that this my son may be the foremost among the men of Greece. And let it come to pass, that when they see his valiant deeds, his countrymen shall say, "Behold, this youth is greater than his father," and all of one accord shall hail him as their guardian king.'