Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

Page: 44

The ocean nymphs were the first to discover her, cradled on a great blue wave; and they carried her down into their coral caves, where they tenderly nursed her, and taught her with the utmost care. Then, her education being completed, the sea nymphs judged it time to introduce her to the other gods, and, with that purpose in view, carried her up to the surface of the sea,—where Tritons, Oceanides, and Nereides all crowded around her, loudly expressing their ardent admiration,—and offered her pearls and choice bits of coral from the deep, as a tribute to her charms.


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[105] Then they pillowed her softly on a great wave, and intrusted her to the care of Zephyrus, the soft south wind, who blew a gentle breath, and wafted her to the Island of Cyprus.

The four beautiful Horæ (the Seasons), daughters of Jupiter and Themis, goddess of justice, stood there on the shore to welcome her.

“An ethereal band
Are visible above: the Seasons four,—
Green-kirtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
In Autumn’s sickle, Winter frosty hoar.”

And they were not alone to watch for her coming, for the three Charites (Graces, or Gratiæ) were also present.

“‘These three on men all gracious gifts bestow,
Which decke the body or adorne the mynde,
To make them lovely or well-favoured show;
As comely carriage, entertainement kynde,
Sweete semblaunt, friendly offices that bynde,
And all the complements of curtesie:
They teach us how to each degree and kynde
We should our selves demeane, to low, to hie,
To friends, to foes; which skill men call Civility.’”

Daughters of Jupiter and Eurynome, these maidens, who bore the respective names of Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, longed to show their love for their new mistress. When the wave upon which she reclined came nearer still, the “rosy-bosomed Hours, fair Venus’ train,” appeared. The wind finally brought the fair goddess in safety to the shore; and, as soon as her foot touched the white sand, all bent in homage to her surpassing beauty, and reverentially watched her dry her hair.

“Idalian Aphrodite beautiful,
Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells,
With rosy slender fingers backward drew
From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair
[106] Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat
And shoulder: from the violets her light foot
Shone rosy-white, and o’er her rounded form
Between the shadows of the vine bunches
Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved.”

This hasty and somewhat primitive toilet completed, Venus and her followers set out for Mount Olympus, and on their way thither were joined by Himerus, god of the desire of love; Pothos, god of the amities of love; Suadela, god of the soft speech of love; and Hymen, god of marriage.

Venus and Vulcan.

A throne had been prepared for the expected goddess, and, when she suddenly appeared to take possession of it, the assembled gods could not restrain a rapturous murmur of admiration. Her beauty took them by storm, and her grace won their hearts; but, although they one and all expressed a desire to marry her, Venus scornfully rejected their proposals. Even the king of gods was slighted, and, to punish her for her pride, he decreed she should marry Vulcan, god of the forge, the most ill-favored of all the heavenly council.