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Title: Lays and Legends of Ancient Greece

Date of first publication: 1880

Author: John Stuart Blackie 1809-1895

Date first posted: Dec. 15, 2022

Date last updated: Dec. 15, 2022

Faded Page eBook #20221232

This eBook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Al Haines, Tony Browne, Pat McCoy & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net

















All Rights reserved




Dear Friend, who by Corstorphine’s bosky bower,

From the shrill strife of wrangling law remote,

Reapest the mellow fruits of quiet thought,

Receive in Jeffrey’s quaint and ivied tower

This little book. Though from the grand parade

Of printed verdicts thou hast long been free,

The man who loved the Muse still found in Thee

A judge to value, and a friend to aid.

Thou, the nice student of fine-thoughted Keats,

Mayst find my rhymes cast in too rough a mould

For thy keen sense, fed with essential sweets:

If so, speak free; I’ll take thy blame for gold,

And count their coin for brass, with false fair phrase

Who blow the flattering trump before my Lays.


From this second edition of the ‘Lays and Legends of Ancient Greece’ I have excluded all the miscellaneous poems, which occupied about the half of the original edition, but which had no connection with the part which gave the title to the volume. I have also excluded one Hellenic poem—the “Pythagoras”—because its dramatic treatment naturally removed it to my ‘Wise Men of Greece,’ in which company, accordingly, in an expanded and improved shape, it will be found. The best of the other poems were republished either in my ‘Lays of the Highlands and Islands,’ or in my ‘Songs of Religion and of Life,’ in accordance with the category to which they seemed naturally to belong.

J. S. B.

Oban, 1st October 1880.






Muse of old Hellas, wake again!

  Thou wert not born to die—

And mingle sweet the Classic strain

  With Gothic minstrelsy!

I feel a tingling in my veins,

  My heart is beating strong;

Let novel-writers count their gains,

  I’ll pipe my Doric song.

The wood has warblers great and small;

God scatters free; let carpers cavil!

There’s room in Helicon for all

  That swell the tuneful revel.

On flaming chariot Shelley soars

  Through starry realms serene;

His volleyed thunder Byron pours

  With lurid flash between;

Lone in far mountains Wordsworth strolls

  And hums a thoughtful lay,

As a deep river slowly rolls

  Through beds of fruitful clay.

Like a fair country stretching wide

With woods on woods in leafy pride

  And fields of golden grain,

And moors with purple heather glowing,

And healthful breezes bravely blowing,

  Spreads Scott his vast domain.

Not I with these may dare to vie;

  Nor with thy learnèd lay,

Kehama’s bard! nor prophesy,

  With deep oracular bay,

Like him who sate on Highgate hill

  And taught, with mystic care,

The suckling priests who owned his skill

  To syllogise their prayer.

Far from such eagle-flight be mine!

But while I feel the thrill divine,

  I will not clip my wing;

The beetle, ‘neath his horny case,

Hath gauzy pinions that with grace

  Uplift the creeping thing.

Though sober friends forbid the verse,

My old Greek rhyme I will rehearse,

  Like a lone wandering bee

On a hillside, that sips sweet dew

From fragrant blooms of purple hue,

  And drones low minstrelsy.

The modest lay be slow to blame,

Piped more for pleasure than for fame:

Music to harmless souls belongs,

Cold worldly hearts are scant of songs.


The old Greek men, the old Greek men,

  No blinking fools were they:

But with a free and broad-eyed ken

  Looked forth on glorious day.

They looked on the Sun in their cloudless sky,

  And they saw that his light was fair;

And they said that the round full-beaming eye

  Of a blazing god was there.

They looked on the vast spread Earth, and saw

The various-fashioned forms with awe

  Of green and creeping life,

And said—“In every moving form

With buoyant breath and pulses warm,

In flowery crowns, and veinèd leaves,

A goddess dwells, whose bosom heaves

  With organising strife.”

They looked and saw the billowy ocean,

With its boundless swell of sleepless motion,

Belting the firm earth, far and wide,

With the flow of its deep untainted tide;

And wondering viewed in its clear blue flood

A quick and scaly-glancing brood,

Sporting innumerous in the deep,

With dart, and plunge, and airy leap;

And said—“Full sure a god doth reign

King of this watery wide domain,

And rides in a car of cerulean hue

O’er bounding billows of green and blue;

And in one hand a three-pronged spear

He holds, the sceptre of his fear,

And with the other shakes the reins

Of his steeds, with foamy flowing manes,

  And courses o’er the brine;

And when he lifts his trident mace,

Broad Ocean crisps his placid face,

  And mutters wrath divine;

The big waves rush with hissing crest,

And beat the shore with ample breast,

  And shake the toppling cliff;

A wrathful god hath roused the wave,

Vain is all pilot’s skill to save,

And lo! a deep black-throated grave

  Engulfs the reeling skiff.

Anon, the flood less fiercely flows,

The rifted cloud blue ether shows,

  The windy buffets cease;

Poseidon chafes his heart no more,

His voice constrains the billowy roar.

  And men may sail in peace.”

Thus every power that zones the sphere

With forms of beauty and of fear,

In starry sky, on grassy ground,

And in the fishful brine profound,

Were to the hoar Pelasgic men

That peopled erst each Grecian glen,

Gods, or the functions of a god.

Gods were in every sight and sound,

And every spot was hallowed ground

Where these far-wandering patriarchs trod.

In the old oak a Dryad dwelt,

The fingers of a nymph were felt

  In the fine-rippled flood;

At drowsy noon, when all is still,

Faunus lay sleeping on the hill,

And strange and bright-eyed gamesome creatures

With hairy limbs and goat-like features,

  Peered from the prickly-wood.

Nor less within that mystic realm

Where passions swell and thoughts o’erwhelm,

  Strong ruling powers divine

Were worshipped. All-controlling Jove

With clear-discerning eye did prove

Each human heart. The thoughts that move

To pity of the houseless poor,

The kindly hand that opes the door

Of refuge to a wandering wight,

Storm-battered on a starless night,

  Obeyed his law benign.

And when unreined wild passion flew,

And evil hate sharp daggers drew,

  And deathful blows were given,

Dream not that he who fled from man

Escaped the sleepless eyes that scan

  All sinful deeds in Heaven.

Far from the fell avenger’s tread

The pale guilt-haunted murderer fled;

O’er many a blasted heath he sped,

The dewy sky his curtain made,

  No sleep might reach his eyes;

For, when he fain would rest, a crew

Of murky-mantled maids from Hell,

Snuffing his blood, his track pursue

And pierce his ears with baleful yell,

  That blissful slumber flies:

Haggard he lives a little space,

  No fatness rounds his eyes;

The Furies’ mark is on his face;

Grim leaders of the airy chase

Perplex his path from place to place,

Till stumbling with a blinded fall,

With never a god to hear his call,

  The wasted outcast dies.


Old fables these and fancies old!

  But not, with hasty pride,

Let Logic cold and Reason bold

  Cast these old dreams aside.

Dreams are not false in all their scope;

  Oft from the sleepy lair

Start giant-shapes of fear and hope

  That, aptly read, declare

Our deepest nature. God in dreams

  Hath spoken to the wise;

And in a people’s mythic themes

  A people’s wisdom lies.

O’er the brown moor some love to roam,

  And with the hammer’s dint

To strike from its old chalky home

  The curious-rounded flint;

Or they with brightening eye will bring,

  From bed of dingy clay,

Some bony frame of a scaly thing

  Unused to garish day,

Lizard or crocodile or snake,

  Or mingled of the three;

Creatures of huge unwieldy make

  That in the primal sea

Paddled, or through the marsh did stalk

  With round and staring eyes,

Before the Serpent learned to talk

  With Eve in Paradise.

Others there be that love to soar

  Sublime in starry realms,

’Mid seas of worlds without a shore,

  Where vasty space o’erwhelms

Man’s shrinking soul. From star to star

  With glass in hand at leisure

They wander, and can tell how far

  The blue highway doth measure

From Earth to Phœbus, and from him

  To the star that wears a belt,

And to our system’s extreme rim

  Where never a ray was felt

Of throbbing heat. These men can write

  The Moon’s authentic history,

And of its mass, here dark, there bright,

  Expound the spotted mystery;

How like an apple by the fire

  It swells and cracks, and bubbles,

That no live creature can aspire

  ’Mid its volcanic troubles

To breathe; it hath no atmosphere

  For men or salamanders,

But with obedient pale career

  Through old grey Space it wanders

To lamp our Earth. I cannot say

  If this be true or no;

But in a far-diverging way

  My best-loved fancies go.

Man is my theme; Earth is my sphere!

  The struggling fates pursuing

Of earth-born men, I would not hear

  What Sun and Moon are doing.

Give me a tale of human passion,

Of oldest or of newest fashion,

Hard facts, or fictions that contain

Deep-pondered truth’s clear-running well,

Like mysteries hid from ken profane

In evangelic parable;

Hoariest oracles that linger

Round Parnassus’ rifted hollow,

Where the pale tripod-seated singer

Raved out thy mystic will, Apollo;

Ballad or song, or plaintive ditty

Chanted through the drizzly night,

Amid the hum of peopled city,

By some maimed and woe-worn wight.

Tell me how erst the Lydian king,

  Whom Pelops called his father,

Was borne sublime on eagle’s wing

  Where gods immortal gather

To eat ambrosia, and to quaff

  The nectared cup at leisure:

There sate the king at jovial board,

With Heaven’s dark-locked high-thundering lord,

And shared Olympian jest and laugh,

And blew dull care away like chaff,

  And sipped the deathless pleasure.

O Tantalus! thou wert a man

More blessed than all, since Earth began

  Its weary round to travel;

But placed in Paradise, like Eve,

Thine own damnation thou didst weave

  Without help from the Devil.

Alas! I fear thy tale to tell,

Thou’rt in the deepest pool of Hell,

  And shalt be there for ever.

For why?—When thou on lofty seat

Didst sit, and eat immortal meat

  With Jove, the bounteous Giver,

The gods before thee loosed their tongue.

And many a mirthful ballad sung,

And all their secrets open flung

  Into thy mortal ear.

And thou didst know what no man knows,

How gossip in Olympus goes,

When radiant glasses circle round,

And tinkling Muses beat the ground,

And gods to music’s thrilling sound

  Relax their brows severe.

Then Hermes spins his finest fibs,

And grinning Momus splits his ribs,

And Phœbus bright recounts his loves

On grassy slopes, in laurel-groves.

Thou saw’st, when awful Jove unbent

  O’er cups of sparkling sheen,

And on the rounded shoulder leant

  Of Juno, white-armed queen;

But she, with jealous reprobation,

Rated his partial conversation

  With Thetis, not unseen;

Which, when he heard, the Olympian Sire

Gathered his brows in anger dire,

And straight was hushed the festive lyre;

No sound of joyance shook the hall,

Dumb fear sate on the lips of all,

And the sweet nectar turned to gall.

And thou didst see how every god

Quailed at the wrathful father’s nod;

  But sooty Vulcan then,

With cup in hand and napkin white,

  Tired like a waiting knave,

On that divine assembly bright

  Such rare attendance gave,

And limped with such quaint grace, that they

With peals of unextinguished laughter

Shook the wide welkin’s beamy rafter;

Nor frowned again, while all were gay,

  The king of gods and men.

All this, and of the heavenly place

  More secrets rave were known

Of mortal men, by Jove’s high grace,

  To Tantalus alone.

But witless he such grace to prize;

  And with licentious babble,

He blazed the secrets of the skies

  Through all the human rabble,

And fed the greed of tattlers vain

  With high celestial scandal,

And lent to every itching brain

  And wanton tongue a handle

Against the gods. For which great sin,

  By righteous Jove’s command,

In Hell’s black pool, up to the chin,

  The thirsty king doth stand:

With parched throat, he longs to drink,

  But, when he bends to sip,

The envious waves receding sink,

  And cheat his pining lip.

Such tales delight me roaming free,

  At dusky eve o’er heathy common;

And such I’ve rhymed—a few—for thee,

  Of kindred fancy, man or woman.

There’s labour in a learnèd life

And many a tome with dulness rife

  The patient scholar reads;

He scrapes the ground, and breaks the crust,

And from deep heaps of choking dust

  Redeems the buried seeds;

But here I’ve cropped the bloom for thee:

Accept these old Greek flowers, free

  From thorns and hateful weeds.


              Ὀνόμηνε δε τήνδε γυναῖκα.

  Πανδώρην, ὁτι πάντες Ολύμπια δώματ’ ἔχοντες

δῶρον ἐδώρησαν, πῆμ’ ἀνδράσιν ἀλφηστῇσιν.—Hesiod.


Prometheus was a famous moulder

  In the old Greek time,

Ere the blind Smyrnéan minstrel[1]

  Wove his pictured rhyme.

Sprung from oldest Earth and Heaven’s

  Titan progeny,

Hardy-limbed, and sturdy labour’s

  Primal type was he.

One day, ’neath the slanting chariot

  Of the cooler sun,

He did sweat, his task to finish

  Ere the day was done.

With the finely plastic finger’s

  Soft-subduing sway,

He did shape the breathing feature

  From the senseless clay,

Like a god: and therefore jealous

  Of such godlike skill,

Mighty Jove the purpose nursed

  To break his hardy will.

Vainly; for Jove’s fire the Titan

  In a smoking reed,

From the glowing empyrean

  Drew with furtive speed;

And by might of all subduing

  Chymick fire had taught

Arts to crudest-witted mortals

  From wild wanderings brought.

Him and them the harsh Olympian,

  From his throne sublime,

Feared, lest they with strong invention

  To the stars should climb

And mar his new dominion. Wherefore

  He to daze the sight

Of the Titan wise prepares,

  With sensuous splendour bright.

With Apollo’s slanting chariot,

  And the cooler ray,

He hath sent his minion Hermes,

  Winged with speed to-day,

Shod with guile to where the Titan

  Kneads the pliant clay.

Lo! ho comes, the nimble-sandalled

  Airy-footed god,

And with softly-soothing motion

  Waves his golden rod.

Nor comes alone: behind him breathing

  Rosy beauty warm,

Veiled with glory iridescent,

  Floats a gentle form.

Oh, she is fair beyond compare!

  Her the thunderer high

With all beauty’s bravery pranked

  To trick the Titan’s eye.

Her thy forging wit, Hephæstus,

  Cunningly did frame;

Every god his virtue gave

  To make a perfect dame.

With soft-swelling smoothness Venus

  Rounded every limb,

And her full deep eye cerulean

  Dashed with wanton whim.

Round her chiselled mouth the Graces

  Wove their wreathings rare,

All his sunny radiance Phœbus

  Showered upon her hair.

Juno gave the lofty stature

  That beseems the queen,

Dian the light-footed grace

  That trips the springy green.

Tuned her throat the grace of Muses

  To the perfect bird;

Hermes from her tongue sweet-suasive

  Winged the witching word.

With a various-pictured vesture,

  Woven thin and fine,

From subtle-threaded loom Athena

  Clad the shape divine.

Thus with gifts well-dowered, Pandora,

  Now by Hermes led,

With a sudden beauty glorious,

  Floods the sober shed

Where the patient Titan labours;

  Him in wonder lost

Thus with glib address Jove’s courier

  Smartly doth accost:

“Son of Themis, lofty-counselled,

  This from Hermes know,

Jove the patient cunning honouring

  Of his whilom foe,

Sends for solace of thy labour,

  And thy thanks to claim,

Gift of gods this glory-garnished

  Beauty-breathing dame.

Shake the dust from off thy vesture;

  Pleasure after pain,

The just meed that virtue merits,

  Clears the cloudy brain.”

Thus the god; but wise Prometheus

  Turns his face away,

And with cool design deep-thoughted

  Kneads the yielding clay:

Nay, quoth Hermes, surely madness

  Makes the wise her own,

Or he to stony labour used

  Himself is grown a stone!

Charm his ear attendant Muses,

  With quick rapture thrill

Every life-string! mighty Music

  Tames the stoutest will.

Spake the god; and like bright wavelets

  Of the sounding sea

Filled the Titan’s ear a gentle

  Rush of melody;

Sounds as when the quire of Phœbus

  Trip with tinkling feet

Round thy fair fount, Aganippe,

  Singing clear and sweet;

Sounds as when goat-footed Faunus

  In a mossy nook

Pipes his drowsy reed at noon-day

  To the murmuring brook;

Sounds so rare as Jove Olympian

  Drinks with ravished ears

When he hears the beat canorous

  Of the travelling spheres;

Every sound that voiceful April

  Lends the floating breeze,

Laden with the fragrant burden

  From the fresh-tipt trees:

With such sweet assailing voices

  Cunning Hermes plied

Wise Prometheus; but the Titan

  The strong spell defied.

Eye and ear from soft seducement

  Stern he turned away,

Till his faithful hand had ended

  With its task the day.


On a grassy slope recumbent,

  Epimetheus lies;

Epimetheus, witless brother

  Of Prometheus wise.

In the pleasant sun he basketh,

  And with dreamful eyes,

Weeting half, and half unweeting,

  Follows, as it flies,

Every shade that sweeps the meadow;

  And with cradled ear,

The mingled hum of summer voices

  Drowsily doth hear.

Thus at ease supine he lieth,

  Nursing fancies vain,

Every frothy thought that bubbles

  From an idle brain,

Every wish that fond belief

  May shape into a creed,

Every floating loose ideal

  That begets no deed,

Thoughts of light and cloudy tissue,

  Thoughts of sunbeams wove,

Thoughts of rapture more than earthly,

  Thoughts of rosy love.

Him thus in luxurious musing

  Cunning Hermes found,

From his airy pathway lighting

  With a nimble bound,

And with him the fair Pandora;

  By the wise rejected,

On the witless now she beams

  With beauty unexpected,

And veiled in rosy splendour glorious.

  Epimetheus gazes

On the fair with blank emotion;

  While with smooth-trimmed phrases,

Thus the courier speaks—“Brave Titan,

  This from Hermes know,

Jove, whom thy proud brother vainly

  Deems the Titan’s foe,

Sends me here on blissful mission,

  Gracious to impart

Fruitage to the fairest dreams

  That stir thy lofty heart.

Earth-born thou, but not for earthy

  Plodding wert thou born,

With axe and spade to drudge inglorious

  From the mist-wreathed morn

To the grey-veiled eve; thy spirit’s

  Climate is the sky;

Traitor to himself who feareth

  Where it points to fly.

Flesh and blood with bread he feedeth,

  But immortal Jove

Feeds the soul that pants for beauty

  With immortal love.

Lo! thy heart’s divinely-thirsting

  Fever to abate,

He hath sent this glory-garnished,

  Beauty-breathing mate.”

Mute the spell-struck Epimetheus

  Eyed the wonder rare,

Heedless of what wiles Kronion

  Screened beneath the fair.

And in tranceful adoration

  Kissed his knees the ground;

While from rapture-glowing breast

  He poured the vow profound—

“Bless thee, bless thee, gentle Hermes!

  Once I sinned and strove

Vainly, with my haughty brother,

  ’Gainst Olympian Jove.

Now my doubts his love hath vanquished;

  Evil knows not he

Whose free-streaming grace prepared

  Such gift of gods for me.

Henceforth I and fair Pandora,

  Joined in holy love,

Only one in Heaven will worship,

  Cloud-compelling Jove.”

Thus he; and from the god received

  The glorious gift of Jove,

And with fond embracement clasped her,

  Thrilled by potent love;

And in loving dalliance with her

  Lived from day to day,

While her bounteous smiles diffusive

  Scared dull care away.

By the mountain, by the river,

  ’Neath the shaggy pine,

By the cool and mossy fountain

  Where clear waters shine,

He with her did lightly stray

  Or softly did recline,

Drinking sweet intoxication

  From that form divine.

One day when the moon had wheeled

  Four honeyed weeks away,

From her chamber came Pandora

  Decked with trappings gay,

And before fond Epimetheus

  Fondly she did stand,

A box all bright with lucid opal

  In her smooth white hand.

Dainty box! cried Epimetheus,

  Dainty well may’t be,

Quoth Pandora,—curious Vulcan

  Framed it cunningly;

Jove bestowed it in my dowry:

  Like bright Phœbus’ ray,

It shines without; within what wealth

  I know not to this day.

Let me see, quoth Epimetheus,

  What my touch can do!

And swiftly to his finger’s call

  The box wide open flew;

O Heaven! O Hell! what Pandemonium

  In the pouncet dwells!

How it quakes, and how it quivers!

  How it seethes and swells!

Steams in snaky twine upwreathing,

  Wave on wave is spread!

Like a charnel-vault ’tis breathing

  Vapours of the dead!

Fumes on fumes as from a throat

  Of sooty Vulcan rise,

Clouds of red and blue and yellow

  Blotting out the skies.

And the air with noisome stenches,

  As from things that rot,

Chokes the breather,—exhalations

  From the infernal pot.

And amid the writhing vapours

  Ghastly shapes I see

Of dire diseases, Epimetheus,

  Launched on Earth by thee;

A loathsome crew! some lean and dwindled,

  Some with boils and blains

Blistered, some with tumours swollen,

  And water in the veins.

Some with purple blotches bloated,

  Some with humours flowing

Putrid, some with creeping tetter

  Like a lichen growing

O’er the dry skin scaly-crusted;

  Some with twisted spine

Dwarfing low with torture slow

  The human form divine:

Limping some, some limbless lying;

  Fever with frantic air,

And pale consumption veiling death

  With looks serenely fair.

All the troop of cureless evils

  Rushing reinless forth

From thy damned box, Pandora,

  Seize the tainted Earth;

And to lay the marshalled legions

  Of our fiendish pains,

Hope alone, a sorry charmer,

  In the box remains.

Epimetheus knew the dolours,

  But he knew too late;

Jealous Jove himself now vainly

  Would revoke the Fate.

And he cursed the fair Pandora,

  But he cursed in vain;

Still to fools the fleeting pleasure

  Buys the lasting pain.


Πᾶσας τέχνας βροτοῖσιν ἐκ Προμηθέως.—Æschylus.


Blow blustering winds; loud thunders roll!

Swift lightnings rend the fervid pole

With frequent flash! his hurtling hail

Let Jove down-fling! hoarse Neptune flail

The stubborn rock, and give free reins

To his dark steeds with foamy manes

That paw the strand!—such wrathful fray

Touches not me, who, even as they,

Immortal tread this lowly sod,

    Born of the gods a god.


Jove roles above; Fate willed it so.

’Tis well; Prometheus rules below.

Their gusty game let wild winds play,

And clouds on clouds in thick array

Muster dark armies in the sky;

Be mine a harsher trade to ply,

This solid Earth, this rocky frame

To mould, to conquer, and to tame;

And to achieve the toilsome plan,

    My workman shall be man.


The Earth is young. Even with these eyes

I saw the molten mountains rise

From out the seething deep, while Earth

Shook at the portent of their birth.

I saw from out the primal mud

The reptiles crawl of dull cold blood,

While wingèd lizards with broad stare

Peered through the raw and misty air.

Where then was Cretan Jove? where then

    This king of gods and men?


When naked from his mother Earth,

Weak and defenceless, man crept forth,

And on mis-tempered solitude

Of unploughed field and unclipt wood

Gazed rudely; when with brutes he fed

On acorns, and his stony bed

In dark unwholesome caverns found;

No skill was then to till the ground,

No help came then from him above,

    This tyrannous-blustering Jove.


The Earth is young. Her latest birth,

This weakling man, my craft shall girth

With cunning strength. Him I will take,

And in stern arts my scholar make.

This smoking reed, in which I hold

The empyrean spark, shall mould

Rock and hard steel to use of man;

He shall be as a god to plan

And forge all things to his desire

    By alchemy of fire.


These jagged cliffs that flout the air,

Harsh granite blocks so rudely bare,

Wise Vulcan’s art and mine shall own,

To piles of shapeliest beauty grown.

The steam that snorts vain strength away

Shall serve the workman’s curious sway

Like a wise child; as clouds that sail

White winged before the summer gale,

The smoking chariot o’er the land

    Shall roll, at his command.


Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! my home

Stands firm beneath Jove’s thundering dome,

This stable Earth. Here let me work!

The busy spirits, that eager lurk

Within a thousand labouring breasts,

Here let me rouse; and whoso rests

From labour let him rest from life.

To live ’s to strive; and in the strife

To move the rock, and stir the clod,

    Man makes himself a god.


Παρθένοι ὀμβροφόροι

ἔλθωμεν λιπαράν χθόνα Πάλλαδος, εὔανδρον γᾶν

Κέκροπος ὀψόμεναι πολυήρατον.—Aristophanes.

On the rock of Erectheus the ancient, the hoary,

  That rises sublime from the far-stretching plain,

Sate Cecrops, the first in Athenian story

  Who guided the fierce by the peace-loving rein.

Eastward away by the flowery Hymettus,

  Westward where Salamis gleams in the bay,

Northward, beneath the high-peaked Lycabettus.

  He numbered the towns that rejoiced in his sway.

Pleased was his eye with the muster, but rested

  At length where he sate with an anxious love,

When he thought on the strife of the mighty broad-breasted

  Poseidon, with Pallas, the daughter of Jove;

For the god of the earth-shaking ocean had sworn it,

  The city of Cecrops should own him supreme,

Or the land and the people should ruefully mourn it,

  Swamped by the swell of the broad ocean-stream.

Lo! from the North, as he doubtfully ponders,

  A light shoots far-streaming; the welkin it fills;

Southward from Parnes bright-bearded it wanders,

  Swift as the courier-fires from the hills.

Far on the flood of the winding Cephissus,

  There gleams like the shape of a serpentine rod,

Shimmers the tide of the gentle Ilissus

  With radiance from Hermes the messenger-god.

’Twas he: on the Earth with light touch he descended,

  And struck the grey rock with his gold-gleaming rod,

While Cecrops with low-hushed devotion attended,

  And reverent awe to the voice of the god.

“Noble autochthon! a message I bear thee,

  From Jove in Olympus who regally sways;

Wise is the god the dark trouble to spare thee,—

  Blest is the heart that believes and obeys.

On the peaks of Olympus, the bright snowy-crested,

  The gods are assembled in council to-day;

The wrath of Poseidon, the mighty broad-breasted,

  ’Gainst Pallas, the spear-shaking maid, to allay;

And thus they decree—that Poseidon offended,

  And Pallas shall bring forth a gift to the place;

On the hill of Erectheus the strife shall be ended,

  When she with her spear, and the god with his mace,

Shall strike the quick rock; and the gods shall deliver

  The sentence as Justice shall order; and thou

Shalt see thy loved city established for ever

  With Jove for a judge, and the Styx for a vow.”

He spake; and, while Cecrops devoutly was bending,

  To worship the knees of the herald of Jove,

Shone from the pole, in full glory descending,

  The cloud-car that bore the bright gods from above,

Beautiful, glowing with many-hued splendour.

  O what a kinship of godhead was there!

Juno the stately, full-eyed; and the tender

  Bland-beaming Venus, so rosily fair;

Dian the huntress, with arrow and quiver,

  And airily tripping with light-footed grace;

Apollo, with radiance poured like a river

  Diffusive o’er Earth, from his joy-giving face;

Bacchus the rubicund; and with fair tresses,

  The bright-fruited Ceres, and Vesta the chaste;

And the god that delights in fair Venus’ caresses,

  Stout Mars, in his mail adamantine encased.

Then, while wild thunders innocuous gather

  Round his brow, diademed green with the oak,

On the rock of Erectheus descended the Father,

  And thus to good Cecrops serenely he spoke:

“Kingly autochthon! the sorrow deep-rooted

  That gnaweth thy heart, the Olympians know;

Too long with Poseidon hath Pallas disputed,—

  This day shall be peace, or great Jove is their foe.”

He spake; and a sound like the rushing of ocean,

  From smooth-grained Pentelicus, seizes their ears;

From his home in Eubœa, with haughty commotion,

  To the place of the judgment, the sea-monarch nears.

On the waves of the wind his blue car travelled proudly,

  Proudly his locks to the breeze floated free,

Snorted his mane-tossing coursers, and loudly

  Blew from the tortuous conch of the sea

Shrill Tritons the clear-throated blast undisputed,

  That curleth the wild wave, and cresteth the main;

While Nereids around him, the fleet foamy-footed,

  Floated, as floated his undulant rein.

Thus on the rock of Erectheus alighted

  The god of the sea, and the rock with his mace

Smote; for he knew that the gods were invited

  To judge of the gift that he gave to the place.

Lo! at the touch of his trident a wonder!

  Virtue to Earth from his deity flows:

From the rift of the flinty rock cloven asunder,

  A dark-watered fountain ebullient rose.

Inly elastic with airiest lightness

  It leapt, till it cheated the eyesight; and, lo!

It showed in the sun, with a various brightness,

  The fine-woven hues of the rain-loving bow.

Water is best!” cried the mighty broad-breasted

  Poseidon; “O Cecrops, I offer to thee

To ride on the back of the steeds foamy-crested,

  That toss their wild manes on the huge-heaving sea.

The globe thou shalt mete on the path of the waters,

  To thy ships shall the ports of far ocean be free;

The isles of the sea shall be counted thy daughters,

  The pearls of the East shall be treasured for thee!”

He spake; and the gods, with a high-sounding pæan,

  Applauded; but Jove hushed the many-voiced tide;

“For now, with the lord of the briny Ægean,

  Athena shall strive for the city,” he cried.

“See, where she comes!”—and she came, like Apollo,

  Serene with the beauty ripe wisdom confers;

The clear-scanning eye, and the sure hand to follow

  The mark of the far-sighted purpose, was hers.

Strong in the mail of her father she standeth,

  And firmly she holds the strong spear in her hand;

But the wild hounds of war with calm power she commandeth,

  And fights but to pledge surer peace to the land.

Chastely the blue-eyed approached, and, surveying

  The council of wise-judging gods without fear,

The nod of her lofty-throned father obeying,

  She struck the grey rock with her nice-tempered spear.

Lo! from the touch of the virgin a wonder!

  Virtue to Earth from her deity flows:

From the rift of the flinty rock cloven asunder,

  An olive-tree greenly luxuriant rose—

Green, but yet pale, like an eye-drooping maiden,

  Gentle, from full-blooded lustihood far;

No broad-staring hues for rude pride to parade in,

  No crimson to blazon the banners of war.

Mutely the gods, with a calm consultation,

  Pondered the fountain, and pondered the tree;

And the heart of Poseidon, with high expectation,

  Throbbed, till great Jove thus pronounced the decree:

“Son of my father, thou mighty broad-breasted

  Poseidon, the doom that I utter is true;

Great is the might of thy waves foamy-crested,

  When they beat the white halls of the screaming sea-mew:

Great is the pride of the keel when it danceth,

  Laden with wealth, o’er the light-heaving wave;

When the East to the West, gaily floated, advanceth,

  With a word from the wise, and a help from the brave.

But Earth, solid Earth, is the home of the mortal,

  That toileth to live, and that liveth to toil;

And the green olive-tree twines the wreath of his portal,

  Who peacefully wins his sure bread from the soil.”

Thus Jove; and aloft the great council celestial

  Rose, and the sea-god rolled back to the sea;

But Athena gave Athens her name, and terrestrial

  Joy, from the oil of the green olive-tree.


Ὃς τᾶς ὀφιώδεος υἱόν ποτε Γοργόνος

   ἦ πολλ’ ἀμφὶ κρουνοῖς

Πάγασον ζεῦξαι ποθέων ἔπαθεν

Πρίν γέ οἱ χρυσάµπυκα κούρα χαλινὸν

Παλλὰς ἤνεγκε.—Pindar.


Ἀλλ’ ὅτε δὴ καὶ κεῖνος ἀπήχθετο πᾶσι θεοῖσιν

ἤτοι ὁ κὰπ πεδίον τὸ Άλήιον οἷος ἀλᾶτο

ὃν θυμὸν κατέδων πάτον ἀνθρώπων ἀλεείνων.—Homer.


The sun shines bright on Ephyre’s height,

And right and left, with billowy might,

    Poseidon rules the sea;

But not the Sun that rules above,

Nor strong Poseidon, nor great Jove,

Can look with looks of favouring love,

    Bellerophon, on thee.

There’s blood upon thy hands; the hounds

    Of hell pursue thy path;

Nor they within rich Corinth’s bounds

    Shall slack their vengeful wrath.

Black broods the sky above thy head,

The Earth breeds serpents at thy tread,

    The Furies’ foot hath found thee;

A baleful pest their presence brings,

A curse to peasants and to kings;

The horrid shadow of their wings

    Turns day to darkness round thee.

Flee o’er the Argive hills, and there,

With suppliant branch and pious prayer,

    Thou shalt not crave in vain

Some prince, whose hands not worthless hold

The sceptre of Phoroneus old,

To cleanse thy guilt, and make thee bold

    To look on men again.


Darkly the Nemean forests frown,

    Where Apesantian Jove

From his broad altar-seat looks down

    On the Ogygian grove.

Fierce roars the lion from his den

In Tretus’ long and narrow glen;

    And many a lawless man

Here by the stony water-bed

Lists the lone traveller’s errant tread,

    And wakes the plundering clan.

Here be thy flight, Bellerophon,

    But danger fear thou none;

For she, the warlike and the wise,

Jove’s blue-eyed daughter, from surprise

    Secure shall lead thee on.

He flees: and, where the priestess bears

    To Hera on the hill

The sacred keys, he pours his prayers,

    And drinks the scanty rill.

He flees: and now before his eye,

With wall and gate and bulwark high,

And many a tower that fronts the sky,

    And many a covered way,

Strong Tiryns stands, whose massy blocks

Were torn by Cyclops from the rocks,

    And piled in vast array.

Here Prœtus reigns; and here, at length,

The suppliant flings his jaded strength

    Before a friendly door;

And now from hot pursuit secure,

And from blood-guiltiness made pure,

    His heart shall fear no more.


The princely Prœtus opes his gate,

And on the fugitive’s dark fate

    Smiles gracious; him from fear,

And terror of the scourge divine,

He purifies with blood of swine

    And sprinkled water clear.

O blessed was the calm that now

Lulled his racked brain, and smoothed his brow!

    Nor wildly now did roll

His sleepless eyes; from gracious Jove

Came down the gentle dew of love,

    And soothed his wounded soul.

And grateful was the face of man

To heart now free from Furies’ ban,

    And sweet the festive lyre.

Fair was each sight on that fair day,

Spread forth in beautiful array,

    To move the heart’s desire.

Each manly sport and social game

Thrilled with new joy his re-strung frame,

    And waked the living fire.

Antéa saw him poise the dart,

In the fleet race the foremost start,

And lawless Venus smote her heart;

    She loved her lord no more:

As no chaste woman sues she sued,

Her guest the partial hostess wooed,

    And lavished beauty’s store

Of luminous smiles and glistening tears,

And silvery speech; but he reveres

The rights of hospitable Jove,

Chastely repels her perilous love,

    Nor hears her parley more.


Who slights a woman’s love cuts deep,

And wakes a brood of snakes that sleep

    Beneath a bed of roses.

The lustful wife of Prœtus now

To earthly Venus vows a vow,

    And in her heart proposes

A fiendish thing. She, with the pin

That bound her peplos, pierced the skin

    Of her smooth-rounded arm;

And when the crimson stream began

To trickle down, she instant ran,

    And with a feigned alarm

Roused all her maids, and in the ear

Of the fond Prœtus, quick to hear,

    She poured the piteous lie,

That the false guest had sought to move

Her loyal-mated heart with love,

And with rude hands had dared assail

Her virtue, cased in surer mail

    Than Dian’s panoply:

Then, more to stir his wrathful mood,

She bared her arm that streamed with blood,

    And scared his jealous eye.

Hot boiled his Argive heart; his eyes

Flash vengeance; but himself denies

    The reins to his own spleen.

His public face in smiles is dressed,

He joins the banquet with the rest,

And tells the tale, and plies the jest,

    With easy social mien;

And to his high Corinthian guest

    Lets not a thought he seen.

“Take here,” quoth he, “thou high-souled knight,

To Iobates the Lycian wight,

    The brother of my queen,

These tablets; he will honour thee

Even more than I; and thou shalt see

A famous and a fruitful land,

With all Apollo’s beauty bland,

    And leafy splendour green.”

Uprose the knight with willing feet,

His heart was light, his pace was fleet;

Girt for the road and venture bold,

He left the strong Tirynthian hold,

    And gaily wends his way

O’er steep Arachne’s ridge, till he

Passed Æsculapius’ sacred fane,

Whose virtue soothes each racking pain,

And reached, with foot untired, the sea

That beats with billows bounding free

    The Epidaurian bay.


Thoughtful a moment here he stood,

And watched the never-sleeping flood,

    The ever-changing wave:

He knew no danger, feared no foes,

But from his heart a prayer uprose

    To her that guards the brave.

Wise prayer; for scarce the words are gone

From thy free mouth, Bellerophon,

    When, smote with holy awe,

Even at thy side, in light arrayed,

Serene with placid power displayed,

The chaste strong-fathered blue-eyed maid

    Thy wondering vision saw;

And in her hand—O wondrous sight!—

    A wingèd steed she led,

That bent the knee before the knight,

    And bowed its lofty head.

“Fear not, thou son of Æolus’ race,—

    Dear to the gods art thou;

This steed, by strong Poseidon’s mace

That leapt to life, through airy space

    Shall safely waft thee now.”

Thus spake the goddess, wise as fair;

And with the word, dissolved in air,

    Was seen no more. The knight

Brushed from his eyes the dazzling glare,

    And scarce believed his sight.

But, when he saw the steed was there,

He winged to Heaven a hasty prayer,

    And for the airy flight

Buckled his purpose. Mounted now

    With rapid wheel he soars,

O’er creek and crag, and rocky brow,

    And swift-receding shores.

A lovely sight was there, I trow,

    Where high on wingèd oars

He clove the blue. The broad sea’s face

With multitudinous-dimpled grace,

    Immense before him lay,

With many a coast far-stretching seen,

And many a high-cliffed isle between,

    And many a winding bay.

High o’er Œnone’s isle he sails,

Where Æacus’ justest law prevails,

    And masted armies ride;

O’er rocky Sunium’s pillar’d steep,

Where Pallas guards the Attic deep,

    He swept with airy pride.

Seriphus, Ceos, Syros, saw

His meteor-steed with wondering awe;

    And sacred Delos deemed

Apollo’s self was travelling o’er

The empyrean’s fervid floor,

    That with such brightness gleamed.

Swift o’er the Bacchic isle he glides,

Where music mingles with the tides

    From many a Mænad throat.

And nigh to Caria’s craggy shore,

Cos with her blushing winy store

    His sweeping view may note.

Anon, sublime he soars above

Thy temple, Atabyrian Jove,

    The lord of cloudless Rhodes,

Where Telchins wise, with busy clamour,

Who shape the steel ’neath skilful hammer,

    Possess their famed abodes:

And swiftly then he swoops, I ween,

Down on the steeps of Cragus green,

    Into the pleasant plain,

Where Xanthus rolls his yellow stream,

And Phœbus lights with glorious gleam

    The Patarean plain.

Here he alights. His heavenly steed,

With instant eye-outstripping speed,

    Scorning the earthly loam,

Wheels eastward far with vans sonorous,

And o’er the rosy peaks of Taurus

    Sails to his starry home.


The Xanthian gate is wide and free:

    The Xanthian towers are high;

The Xanthian streets are fair to see;

    The knight, with wondering eye,

Beholds, and enters. To the king

Close-circling throngs the stranger bring,

    And scan him o’er and o’er;

Curious that one so bright and trim,

And with such light unwearied limb,

    Had reached the Lycian shore.

With kindly heart the Xanthian lord

Opes his high hall and spreads his board

    And pours the Coan wine;

Nor question asked (for Jove gives free

To all a questless courtesy)

    Till days were numbered nine.

His tablets then the knight presents;

The monarch scans their dire contents,

    For here ’twas written plainly,

“If thou dost hate who works amiss,

Let not his hand that beareth this

    Have sinned against me vainly;

Thy Prœtus.” Sore vexed was the king

That he must do no gracious thing

    Against so brave a guest;

Put vows were strong, and family bonds;

Therefore, composed, he thus responds—

    “Brave knight, a fearful pest

Afflicts this land: a monster dire,

With terror armed, and breathing fire,

    In Cragus holds her den,

Chimera named: with savage jaw

She bites, and with voracious maw

    Consumes both beasts and men.

This hideous form its birth did take

From hoar Echidna, virgin-snake,

    Who to that fiery blaster,

Typhon, Cilicia’s curse of yore,

This triform goatish portent bore,

With serpent’s sting and lion’s roar,

    Our Lycian land’s disaster.

Harmless at first, for sport ’twas bred

    By Caria’s thoughtless king,

And by his innocent children led

    Obedient to a string.

Anon its hellish blood grew hot;

    It breathed a breath of fire,

And tainted every household spot

    With gouts of poison dire.

Full grown at length, and fierce and bold,

She ranges freely through each fold,

    And licks the fleecy slaughter;

And, when her humour waxes wild,

No flesh she spares of man or child,

    Echidna’s gory daughter.

Now hear me, noble Glaucus’ son,

Most valiant knight, Bellerophon;

Thou hast a face that seems to court

A dangerous business as a sport—

    This thing I ask thee then;

Wilt thou go forth, and dare to tame

This murtherous monster breathing flame,

And win thyself a deathless name

    Among the Xanthian men?”


Thus he—(for in his heart he thought

Such venture must with life be bought).

    But brave Bellerophon

Guileless received the guileful plan,

And, as an eager-purposed man,

    Buckled his armour on.

Alone he went: of such emprise

    With this bold-breasted stranger

No one shall share, a herald cries,

    The glory or the danger.

By Xanthus’ stream he wends him then,

And leftward up the hollow glen,

Where Pandarus’ city, like a tower,

Rises begirt with rocky power;

    Then upward still he goes,

Where black-browed mountains round him lower

And, ’neath chill winter’s grisly bower,

    The sunless water flows.

Upon a steep rock hoar with eld

A yawning cave his eye beheld,

High-perched; and to that cave no trace

Of road upon the mountain’s face,

    But, like an eagle’s nest,

Sublime it hung. He looked again,

And from the cave a tawny mane

    Shook o’er the rocky crest:

And now a lion’s head forth came,

And now, O Heaven! long tongues of flame

    Ran wreathing round the hill.

No fear the son of Glaucus knew,

    But pricked his forward will,

The rock-perched monster to pursue:

Now right, now left, he sought a clue

    To thread that steep-faced hill;

Hour after hour no pause he knew,

Till night came down with sable hue,

    And found him searching still.

Hid in the tangled brakes around

Next morn a rugged chasm he found,

That oped into an archway wide,

Right through the hollow mountain-side:

    Here plunged the knight; and then

With fervid foot emerging, speeds

Along a rocky ledge, that leads

    To dire Chimera’s den.

The monster hears his quickening tread,

    And with a hideous roar

Trails forth its length, and shows its head

    And mouth that dripped with gore.

The brave knight drew his sword, and flew

    Like lightning on the foe,

And on its hide of horny pride

    Dealt ringing blow on blow.

In vain; that hide, Bellerophon,

Dipt in the flood of Acheron,

    Is proof at every pore;

And where thy steel doth vainly hack,

A goat’s head rising on its back

    With living fire streams o’er;

And from behind, a serpent’s tail,

    With many mouths that hisses,

Rears round about thee like a flail,

    To give thee poisoned kisses.

The flame, the smoke, the sulphurous breath

    Doth choke thy mortal life:

Spare that dear life, for only death

    Can grow from such a strife.

Backward the flame-scorched hero sped,

And as he went, upon his tread

    The roaring Terror came.

Along the ridge, so sharp and jaggy,

Huge-limbed it strode, stiff-maned and shaggy,

    And swathed with sevenfold flame.

Down through the archway opening wide,

Bar through the hollow mountain-side,

    It drove him wrathful on;

Then through the black jaws of the rock

Down hurled him with a rumbling shock,

    And heaved a huge sharp stone

Blocking the rift. There in the vale,

With flickering life, all scorched and pale,

    Was left Bellerophon.


The evening dew was clear and cold:

Upon the harsh ungrateful mould,

All stiff and stark the hero bold

    Lay through the dreamless night;

But when the face of peering day

Shot o’er the cliff its crimson ray,

With aching frame, as low he lay,

    Sleep seized the weary knight,—

A blissful sleep; for, when the sense

Was bound with blindness most intense,

    With sharp-eyed soul he saw,

Ev’n at his side, in light arrayed,

Serene with placid power displayed,

The chaste strong-fathered blue-eyed maid,

    And worshipped her with awe;

And in her hand—a well-known sight—

    The wingèd steed she led,

That bent the knee before the knight,

    And meekly bowed its head.

Raptured he woke; with sense now clear

    He saw the Jove-born maid,

And in her hand a massive spear,

    Firm-planted, she displayed;

And thus she spoke: “Ephyrian knight,

    Dear to the gods art thou;

Not vainly did thy prayer invite

My aid, to wing thy airy flight

    To Cragus’ rocky brow.

A friendly god is thy provider;

    If thou hast wisely planned,

Fear not; the steed doth wait the rider,

    The spear doth claim the hand.

That snake-born monster’s horny hide,

    That was not made to feel,

May never yield life’s crimson tide

    To sharpest Rhodian steel:

But with this spear from Vulcan’s forge,

Bight through the mouth in the deep gorge

    If thou shalt pierce it, then

The dire Chimera breathing flame

Thou with a hero’s hand shalt tame,

And win thyself a glorious name

    Among the Xanthian men.”

Upstood the knight, with hope elate,

And felt the aching pain abate

    From all his sore-bruised limbs;

The wingèd steed he straight bestrode,

And to Chimera’s black abode

    Through liquid air he swims.

The deep-mouthed Terror ’gan to bray,

The forky fire-tongues ’gan to play,

The fretful serpents hissed dismay

    Round all the rocky wall;

But, with direct unwavering speed,

The rider and the heavenly steed

Rushed to achieve the fearless deed,

    At glorious danger’s call.

The knight, with searching eye, did note

The centre of the roaring throat,

And, while it gaped with gory jaws

    To thunder fear around,

Forward he rode—nor any pause,

But right into Chimera’s gorge

He drove the spear from Vulcan’s forge,

    And fixed it in the ground.

Up from the hack the fell goat’s head

    Rose, rough with tumid ire,

And right and left long tongues were spread

    Of forky-flaming fire;

But with immortal strength the steed

    Flaps his huge vans around,

And straight the eager spires recede,

    And harmless lick the ground.

Cowed lie the snakes, and, with quick eye.

A tender place the knight did spy,

    Where the neck joined the back;

There with a fatal swoop he came,

And through the fount of living flame

    He cuts with fierce attack.

Down dropt the goat’s head in its gore.

And with a sharp and brazen roar

    The writhing lion dies.

The palsied snakes, with stiffened fang,

Like lifeless leaves unconscious hang;

And, belching rivers of black gore

Upon the clotted rocky floor,

    The smoking carcass lies.


A famous man was Glaucus’ son

    Then when Chimera died;

In Lycian land like him was none

    In glory and in pride.

At public feast beside the king

He sate; him did the minstrel sing

    With various-woven lays;

And old men in the halls were gay,

And maidens smiled, and matrons grey,

And eager boys would cease their play

    To sound the hero’s praise.

The Xanthian burghers, wealthy men,

Chose the best acres in the glen

    Beside the fattening river,—

Acres where corn would goodliest grow,

Or vines with richest purple glow;

These, free from burden, they bestow

    On Glaucus’ son for ever.

The Xanthian king, to Prœtus bound,

For other dangers looks around,

    And finds, but finds in vain.

’Gainst the stout Solymi to fight

He sent the brave Ephyrian knight,

    With hope he might be slain;

But from the stiff embrace of Mars

He soon returned, and showed his scars,

    To glad the Xanthian plain

A Lycian army then he led

Against the maids unhusbanded,

    Where surly Pontus roars.

Before his spear the Amazon yields;

The breastless host, with moonèd shields,

Far o’er Thermodon’s famous fields

    He drove to Colchian shores.

The Xanthian king despairs the strife—

“Let Prœtus fight for Prœtus’ wife;

Not I will tempt the charmèd life

    Of valiant Glaucus’ son!”

Nor more against the gods he strives,

But with free hand his daughter gives

    To brave Bellerophon.


A prosperous man was Glaucus’ son

Then when the queenly maid he won,

    The pride of Lycian land:

The Lycian lords obey his nod,

The people hail him as a god,

    And own his high command.

Fearless he lived without annoy,

Plucking the bloom of every joy;

    For still, to help his need,

Jove’s blue-eyed daughter, when he prayed,

Was present with her heavenly aid,

    And lent the wingèd steed.

His heart with pride was lifted high

Beyond the bounds of earth to fly

Impious he weened, and scale the sky,

    And sit with Jove sublime.

Upward and northward far he sails,

O’er Carian crags and Phrygian vales,

    And blest Mæonia’s clime.

The orient breezes round him blowing

He feels; with light the ether glowing;

And from the planets in their spheres

Beating wise march, with charmèd ears

    Drinks in the mystic chime.

Bursts far Olympus on his view

Snowy, with gleams of rosy hue;

    And round the heavenly halls,

All radiant with immortal blue

The golden battlements he knew,

    And adamantine walls.

And on the walls, with dizzy awe,

Full many a shapely form he saw

    Of stately grace divine:

The furious Mars with terror crested,

Poseidon’s power the mighty-breasted,

    Who rules the billowy brine;

And, linked with golden Aphrodite,

The heavenly smith, in labour mighty,

    Grace matched with skill he sees;

And one that in his airy hand

Displayed a serpent-twisted wand,

    And floated on the breeze,

Both capped and shod with wings; and one

    That lay in sumptuous ease

On pillowed clouds, fair Semele’s son,

    And quaffed the nectared bowl;

And one from whom the locks unshorn

Flowed like ripe fields of Autumn corn,

And beaming brightness, like the morn,

    Showered radiance on the pole;

And matron Juno’s awful face;

And Dian, mistress of the chase;

And Pallas, that with eye of blue

Now sternly meets the hero’s view

    Whom erst she met with love;

And, like a star of purer ray,

Apart, whom all the gods obey,

    The thunder-launching Jove.

The ravishment of such fair sight

Thrilled sense and soul with quick delight

    To bold Bellerophon:

Entranced he looked; his wingèd steed,

Dazed with the brightness, checked its speed,

    Nor more would venture on.

Deaf to the eager rider’s call,

Who spurred to mount the Olympian wall,

    It stood like lifeless stone

A moment—then, with sudden wheel,

And headlong plunge, it ’gan to reel;

For awful now were heard to peal

    Sharp thunders from the pole,

And lightnings flashed, and darkly spread

O’er that rash rider’s impious head,

    The sulphurous volumes roll.

With rapid gust the fiery storm

Resistless whirls his quaking form

    Down through the choking air.

Loud and more loud the thunders swell

Him with blind speed the winds impel;

Three times three days and nights fell

    Down through the choking air.

At length, in mazy terror lost,

Him the celestial courser tossed

    With fiercely-fretted mane;

And, by the close-involving blast

Impetuous hurried, he was cast

    On the Aleian plain.


Senseless, but lifeless not, he lay.

    The gods had mercy shown,

If they had slain, on that black day,

    The blasted Glaucus’ son:

But all the gods conspired to hate

The man, with impious pride elate,

    Who dared to scale the sky.

Year after year, from that black day,

He pined his dreary life away,

Weak as a cloud or vapour grey,

    And vainly wished to die.

On a wide waste, without a tree,

The unfrequent traveller there might see

    The once great Glaucus’ son.

Far from the haunts and from the tread

Of men, a joyless life he led;

Less kin to living than to dead,

On folly’s fruitage there he fed,

    With his blank self alone.

Even as a witless boy at school

Would sit and gaze into a pool

    The moody Glaucus’ son,

Or to bring forth the blindworm red

That, creeping, loves a lightless bed,

    Would turn the old grey stone.

And thus he lived, and thus he died,

And ended to the brute allied,

    Who like a god began;

And he hath gained a mournful fame,

And marred immortal praise with blame,

And taught to whoso names his name,

    Pride was not made for man!



Λιτὰς δε καὶ κληδόνας πατρῴους

παρ’ ουδὲν αἰῶνα παρθένειόν τ’

ἔθεντο φιλόμαχοι βραβῆς

φράσεν δ’ ἀόζοις πατὴρ μετ’ εὐχὰν

δίκαν χιµαίρας ὕπερθε βωμοῦ

πέπλοισι περιπετῆ

παντὶ θυμῷ προνωπῆ

λαβεῖν ἀέρδην στόµατός τε καλλιπρώρου φυλακὰν κάτασχεῖν

ϕθόγγον ἀραῖον οἴκοις.—Æschylus.

The ships are gathered in the bay,

  A thousand-masted army,

All eager for the Trojan fray,

  But the sky looks black and stormy.

From Strymon’s shore, with surly roar,

  The Thracian blasts are blowing;

With fretted breast, and foamy crest,

  The adverse tide is flowing.


And Aulis’ shore, so bright before,

  Is bleak, and grey, and dreary;

With dull delay, from day to day,

   The seamen’s hearts are weary.

Dire omen to their ears the roar

  Of Jove’s loud-rattling thunder;

The shivered sail, the shattered oar,

  The cable snapt in sunder.


What man is he that stands apart,

  In priestly guise long-vested,

Communing deep with his own heart,

  By sombre thoughts infested?

He hath a laurel in his hand,

  And on the dark storm gazing,

He broods, as he would understand

  The secret of its raising.


’Tis Calchas, whose divining mind

  The secret thought can follow

Of Jove, who shows to human kind

  His counsel by Apollo.

And they who trust in prophet’s skill,

  On the lone rock have found him,

And throng, to learn the Supreme will,

  In eager crowds around him.


He stands; he looks, and reads the ground:

  He will nor see nor hear them;

But still they press, with swelling sound

  Of blameful murmurs, near him.

He goes; against a host in vain

  He plants his single freedom;

And to the tent o’ the king of men

  With fretful force they lead him.


The Atridan stood without his tent,

  And scanned the welkin curiously,

If that the storm at length had spent

  Its gusty burden furiously.

Small help got he from cloud or sky,

  From sad thoughts that oppressed him;

But blithe was his eye, when the seer came nigh,

  And thus the king addressed him:—


“O son of Thestor! thou art wise,

  Thou see’st what wintry weather

Scowls on our bright-faced enterprise,

  And with a close-drawn tether

Holds us hound here against our will;

  What cause doth so delay us?

Speak, sith thou hast a prophet’s skill,

  To me and Menelaus.”


The seer was dumb; his fixed eye read

  The insensate sand demurely;

“Nay, speak the truth,” the Atridan said,

  “For thou dost know it surely.

Thou need’st not fear the strong man’s arm,

  The king of men doth swear it,

Even by this kingly staff—no harm

  Shall touch thee, while I bear it!”


The seer was dumb; the king was wroth:

  “Thou sellest dear thy prayers,

Thou sour-faced priest, and by my troth,

  Like thee are all soothsayers.

A mouthing and a mumping crew,

  With all things they will meddle;

And when they have made much ado,

  They speak a two-faced riddle!”


The seer was dumb. “Nay, not for me,

  Stiff priest, for love of Hellas,

If Jove hath shown the truth to thee,

  Untie thy tongue and tell us.

If, in our sacred things, a vice

  Some god hath sore offended,

Declare, and, at a tenfold price,

  I vow it shall be mended.


“If fault there be in me or mine,

  Or in the chiefs the highest,

I will not swerve, but so incline

  As Jove shall point, unbiassed.

My crown, my wealth, my blood, my all,

  Myself and Menelaus,

Will give, if so we may recall

  The blasts that now delay us.”


Then spake the prophet: “King, not well

  Apollo’s priest thou chidest;

But I the unwelcome truth will tell,

  And follow where thou guidest.

The best-loved stag of Dian thou

  Hast slain with evil arrow;

Therefore this vengeful tempest now

  Consumes the Argive marrow.


“And thou, even thou, whose was the guilt,

  Must work the just atoning;

When blood for blood is freely spilt,

  To joy will turn thy moaning.

If thou wilt ferry thee and thine

  Safe o’er the smooth-faced water,

Thou to the goddess must resign

  Blood of thy blood, thy daughter.”


The monarch stood, and with his staff

  He smote the ground in sorrow;

Nor spake: the cup that he must quaff

  Is fire that burns his marrow.

No aid Laertes’ son supplied,

  Nestor, or Menelaus;

For we must stay the winds, they cried,

  From Thrace, that so delay us.


And they have choked the father’s prayer;

  And this their general will is,

To bring the maid, with promise fair

  To wed her to Achilles.

And they have sent a courier far

  To Argos steed-delighting,

And Clytemnestra reins the car,

  To answer their inviting.


And they have come in trim array,

  The mother and the daughter,

As hasting to a bridal gay

  Beside the briny water.

But, when they reach the Aulian strand,

  No sight of gladness meets them;

Hushed lies the camp; with outstretched hand

  No forward father greets them.


And she is led, the daughter fair,

  By will that may not falter,

Where priests a sacrifice prepare

  For Dian’s gloomy altar;

Where Calchas stands with folded hands,

  And dense beholders gather;

And with grief bent, on a plane-tree leant

  With backward gaze, her father.


Ah, woe is me! and can it be,

  That, with sharp knife, thou darest

Strike such a neck, and forceful break

  This flower thy first and fairest?

Will he not hear, her father dear,

  When her shrill plaint she poureth;

Nor Jove above look down in love,

  When guiltless youth imploreth?


She stretched her hands to the standers by,

  And tenderly besought them;

With shafts of pity from her eye,

  The lovely maiden smote them.

O! like a picture to be seen

  Was she, so chaste and beautiful,

And to her father’s will had been

  In all so meek and dutiful.


How often, at his kingly board,

  With filial heart devoted,

To grace the banquet, she had poured

  The mellow lay clear-throated!

But now that voice shall sing no more;

  They gag her mouth, lest, dying,

A curse on Argos she should pour,

  With evil-omened crying.


And, as stern Calchas gives behest,

  They with a cord have bound her;

And she hath wrapt her saffron vest

  In decent folds around her.

And as a kid supine is laid,

  They on the altar lay her;

As bleeds a kid, so bleeds the maid,

  To the knife o’ the priestly slayer.


But a weight is rolled from the heart of Greece,

  And the clouds from the sky are driven;

And the sun looks down with an eye of peace

  From the fresh blue face of heaven.

The westering breeze the seamen hailed,

  That smoothed the Ægean water;

But with sad heart the monarch sailed,

  For he had lost a daughter.


Mὴ δή μοι θάνατόν γε παραύδα, ϕαίδιμ’ Ὀδυσσεῦ·

Bουλοίμην κ’ ἐπάρουρος ἑὼν θητευέμεν ἄλλῳ,

Ἀνδρὶ παρ’ ἀκλήρω, ᾧ μὴ βίοτος πολὺς εἴη,

Ἠ πᾶσιν νεκύεσσι καταϕθιμένοισιν ἀνάσσειν.—Homer.

O dreary, dreary shades!

O sad and sunless glades!

O yellow, yellow meads

  Of asphodel!

Where the dream-like idol strays,

On lone and lifeless ways,

Through Hades’ weary maze,

  And sings his own sad knell.


O sullen, solemn, silent clime!

O lazy pace of noiseless time!

O where is the blythe and gamesome change

  Of the many-nurturing earth?

  The dance of joy, the flush of mirth,

Life’s vast and varied range?


O dreary, dreary vales!

O heavy, heavy gales!

Fraught with the dreamy dew of sleep,

Over the joyless fields ye sweep;

O sullen, sullen, streaky sky,

Where the changeless moon, with a leaden eye,

   Aloft hangs languidly,

And yellow vapours mount up high,

And flickering lights in a wild dance fly,

Like the last fleet flash when the strangled die,

Shooting across the darkling eye.


      O sullen, sullen sky!

  Where the brown bat wings,

  And the lone bird sings

A chant like the chant of death;

        While sad souls wake

        The stagnant lake

With a sobbing, struggling breath.

O sad, O sad is the wail of the stream,

Mingling its sighs with the dead man’s dream:

      Winding, winding nine times round,

      Weary, wandering, ’scapeless bound!

          And the black, black kine,

              In lazy ranks,

      Are cropping the sickly herb

          From the reedy Stygian banks;

          And hissing things,

      With poisoned blood,

      Are crawling through the bubbling mud.

      O sad, O sad is the endless row

      Of poplars black; oh, sad and slow

      Is the long-drawn train of the sons of woe,

          The silent-marching ghosts!

And they share no more in the feast of glee,

And the dance, and the song, and the wine-cup free;

Where the bard divine, with mellow lays,

Is singing the gods’ and the heroes’ praise;

        And they share no more

        Loud laughter’s roar,

      The silent-marching ghosts!

        I hear their cry,

        As they flit swift by

          On noiseless wing,

Hurrying through the wide outspread

Gates that gape for the countless dead:

        I hear the cry

      Of the wailing ghosts;

        Their voices small,

        Like a drowning thing,

Drawn echoless along the long dim hall;

        And some are whirled,

  In the mighty void,

  Like a leaf in the gurgling tide

        And some are hurled,

        With a gusty fit,

  Into the deep Tartarean pit;

        And some do sway,

        Like a blind thing stray,

  To and fro in the pathless air;

And some, whom chance less stormy rules,

Sit sipping the blood from crimson pools.


          O sad is the throne,

          Dark, drear, alone,

      Of the stern, relentless pair!

          With gloom enveiled,

          In judgment mailed,

      A joyless sway they bear.

          No circling years,

          No sounding spheres,

          No hopes and fears,

              Are there;

          They sit on the throne,

          Dark, drear, alone,

      A stern relentless pair.

          And beside them sits

          A monster dire,

  Watching the darkness with eyes of fire,

    The dog of the triform head;

          And his harsh bark splits,

          Like thunder fits,

    The realm of the silent dead.

        Oh, sad is the throne,

        Dark, drear, alone,

    Of the stern, relentless pair!

        O dreary, dreary shades!

        O sad and sunless glades!

        O yellow, yellow meads

          Of asphodel!

        O loveless, joyless homes!

        O weary, starless domes!

        Where the wind-swept idol roams,

          And sighs his own sad knell.


        O sullen, solemn, silent clime!

        O lazy pace of noiseless time!

O where are the many-coloured joys of earth?

O where is the loud strong voice of mirth?

          The jubilant shout,

        Of the light-heeled rout,

Where the dance is whirling about and about;

          The roving joy

        Of the bright-faced boy,

When he plays with life as he plays with a toy.

        O where is the change

          Of joy and woe?

        The love of friend,

          The hate of foe?

O where is the hustle of many-winged life,

And of man with man the many-mingling strife?

      Where to live was to fight,

      And to fight was delight,

Where the fair face smiled on the strong-armed knight.

    O Hermes! leader of the dead,

        Thou wingèd god

        Of the golden rod,

    O lead me, lead me further still!

  Lead me to Lethe’s silent stream,

    That I may drink, deep drink my fill,

  And wash from my soul this long life-dream!

    O lead me, lead me to Lethe’s shore,

    Where Memory lives no more!


Χρυσοκόμης δε Διώνυσος ξανθὴν Ἀριάδνην

κούρην Μίνωος, θαλερὴν ποιήσατ’ ἄκοιτιν

τὴν τὲ οἱ ἀθάνατον καὶ ἀγήρω θῆκε Κρονίων.—Hesiod.


“Protinus adspicies venienti nocte coronam

Gnossida; Theseo crimine facta dea est.”—Ovid.


Ariadne, Ariadne,

Thou art left alone, alone!

And the son of Attic Aegeus,

Faithless Theseus, he is flown.

Ariadne, Ariadne,

In a sea-cave left she sleepeth;

In her dreams her bosom heaveth,

Through her dreams the maiden weepeth.

With an ugly dream she struggles;

In the bright and sunny weather,

O’er the meadows green and flowery,

She and Theseus walk together.

Suddenly there sweeps a change;

O’er a moor of hard brown heather,

O’er a bare and treeless waste,

She and Theseus walk together.

Cold and loveless is the air,

Huge white mists are trailing near her:

And the fitful swelling blast

Pipes with shrill note clear and clearer.

By an old grey tower she stands,

Where the ruin starts and crumbles;

Wandering by a lone black lake,

On a cold grey stone she stumbles.

“Theseus! Theseus!”—to his arms

Close she clings; but like a trailing

Mist he flees; and o’er the waste

Laughter answers to her wailing.

Dim confusion blinds her eye,

Through her veins the chilly horror

Shoots: she stands; she looks; she runs

O’er the moor with mazy error.

And she screams, with rending cries,

“Save me, Jove, save Ariadne!

Theseus, Theseus, in the waste

Hast thou left thy Ariadne?”

And the Spirits of the storm

Shout around her—“Ariadne!

Thou art left alone, alone,

In the waste, O Ariadne!”


From the painful dream she wakes,

Starts, and looks, and feels for Theseus;

On the cold rock-floor her hand

Falls, and feels in vain for Theseus.

“Theseus, Theseus!”—he is gone;

Dost thou see that full sail swelling?

There he hies, with rapid keel,

Soon to find his Attic dwelling.

“Theseus! Theseus!”—she doth beat

The breasted wave with idle screaming.

Like a white sea-bird so small,

Now his distant sail is gleaming:

Now ’tis vanished. O’er the isle

Hurries vagrant Ariadne;

None she sees, and, when she calls,

Answers none to Ariadne.

’Neath a high-arched rock she rests,

Weary, and, with meek behaviour,

Stretched upon a stony floor,

Plains her prayer to Jove the Saviour:—


      Mighty Jove, strong to destroy,

          Stronger to save,

      Hear; nor in vain may Minos’ daughter

          Thy mercy crave!

      Weak is a maiden’s wit: I saw

          The galliard stranger,

      And, with wise clue, I brought him through

          The mazy danger.

      My father’s halls I left; I gave

          My heart’s surrender;

      He loved the flower, and plucked the fruit,

          With hand untender.

      Mighty Jove, the suppliant’s friend,

          My supplication

      Hear thou, and touch my prostrate woe

          With restoration!

She spake; and, on the stony floor,

Stretched she lay in tearful sorrow;

Slumber, sent from Saviour Jove,

Bound her gently till the morrow.


Wake, Ariadne!

Wake from thy slumbers;

Wake with new heart,

Which no sorrow encumbers!

Black Night is away now,

And glorious Day now

  Reddens apace.

The white mists are fleeing,

And o’er the Ægean,

His shining steeds follow

The call of Apollo,

  And snort for the race.

Hark! through thy slumbers,

Undulant numbers

  Quicken the air!

O’er the Ægean

Swells the loud pæan

  With melody rare;

The clear-throated flute,

And the sweet-sounding lute,

The cymbals’ shrill jangle,

And tinkling triangle,

  And tambour, are there.

Wake, Ariadne!

Look through thy slumbers!

The Mænads, to meet thee,

Marshal their numbers.

Down, from the sky

Dionysus has sent them;

Rosiest beauty

Venus has lent them.

Hovering nigh,

Their thin robes floating,

With balm in their eye,

Thy wounds they are noting,

  O Ariadne!

Blest be the bride

(So echoes their song)

That shall sleep by the side

Of the wine-god strong,

  Fair Ariadne!

Daughter of Minos,

A mortal betrays thee,

But a god for his bride

To Olympus shall raise thee!

Like a gem thou shalt shine

’Mid the bright starry glory;

A name shall be thine

With the famous in story.

Wake, Ariadne,

From Earth’s heavy slumbers;

Wake to new life,

Which no sorrow encumbers!


Ariadne from her slumber

Woke and rose, and smiled benignly,

Radiant from the rapturous dreams

That stirred her inmost soul divinely.

Round her stood the Mænad maids,

Round her swelled their tuneful chorus;

Round her wheeled their floating dance,

To a piping reed sonorous.

With them wheeled a prick-eared crew,

Hairy-limbed, with goatish features;

Pans and Satyrs strange to view,

Forest-haunting, freakish creatures.

Old Silenus, bald and broad,

Stood beside, his bright face showing

Ploughed with laughter; his full eye

Brimmed with mirth to overflowing.

Strange; but Ariadne saw,

With broad eyes, a sight yet stranger;

Troops of shaggy forest whelps

Thronged around, and brought no danger.

Bearded goat, and tusky boar,

Fox that feasts on stealthy slaughter,

Tawny lion, tiger fierce,

Harmless looked on Minos’ daughter.

Lo! a spotted pard appears

At the feet of Ariadne;

Comes, and, like a prayerful child,

Kneels before thee, Ariadne.

Pleased the savage brute she sees

Stretch its brindled length demurely;

Mounts the offered seat, and rides

On the panther’s back securely.

Forward now the spotted pard

Moves with measured pace and wary;

Then aloft (O wonder strange!)

Paws the heavenward pathway airy.

Fear thee not, thou Gnossian maid,

Gods are with thee where thou fliest;

Dionysus waits for thee,

Near the throne of Jove the Highest.

In Olympus’ azure dells,

Waits the god in ivy bowers,

Where for thee immortal Hebe

Twines the amaranthine flowers;

Where the purple bowl of joy

Brims for thee; where bitter sorrow

Grows not; where to-day’s keen thrill

Leaves no languid throb to-morrow.

Flourish there, immortal bride,

In sculptor’s stone and minstrel’s story;

Shine, to sorrowing hearts a sign,

High amid the starry glory!


Δωρὶς καὶ Πανόπη καὶ εὐειδὴς Γαλάτεια.—Hesiod.


Hast heard the ancient story,

  The worthy old Greek theme

Of lovely Galatea

  And ugly Polypheme?

It is a tale of sadness,

  As many tales there be:

Attend, and I will tell it,

  As it was told to me.

There lived a heathen giant

  In ancient Sicily,

A son of strong Poseidon,

  Who rules the stormy sea;

A huge unsightly monster;

  Beneath his shaggy hair

(So learnèd Virgil sayeth),

  One big round eye did stare.

His trunk was like a huge tree

  Dug from an old brown moss;

His skin was hard and horny,

  Like a stiff rhinoceros.

On bloody food he feasted;

  As ancient tales relate,

Each blessed day to supper

  Two living men he ate,

A score of goats’ milk cheeses,—

  And, mingled with black gore,

Red wine he drank in rivers,

  Till he could drink no more.

This monster loved with hot love

  (That such a thing should be!)

The lovely Galatea,

  A daughter of the sea.

His love he plied full stoutly;

  He fell upon his knees,

And swore she might command him

  In all that she should please.

He filled the seas with weeping;

  His big round eye was red;

His hair he tore like forests

  From off his clumsy head.

He beat his breast—by Neptune

  He swore, and with wild nails

Digged his rude cheeks; and Ætna

  Re-echoed with his wails.

But the maid was cold as marble,

  She would nor see nor hear;

And shrank with fear and loathing

  When his brutish bulk came near.

“What shall I do?” quoth Cyclops;

  “This sin she shall atone:

Me shall she scout?—a sea-girl

  Strong Neptune’s son disown?”

He asked advice of Proteus;

  Old Proteus said, “Behold!

I change myself; but can I

  Change thy lead into gold?”

He asked advice of Nereus:

  The hoary god appeared;

He could not give the monster

  His own white snowy beard,

The beard that charmed young Doris

  More than mad Triton’s eye,

But Nereus had an eye, too,

  Of calm blue prophecy.

Quoth. Nereus, “Son of Neptune,

  If thou wilt win her love,

Eat not the flesh of mortals,

  Revere the name of Jove:—

And yet thy case is hopeless,

  Even wert thou free from blame,—

She loves a gentle shepherd,

  And Acis is his name.”

He spake: the Cyclops bellowed,

  And, like a cloven rock,

His monstrous jaws were sundered;

  Earth trembled at the shock.

Quoth he, “By Father Neptune,

  It will be wondrous strange

If this same piping shepherd

  Oust me—I vow revenge!”

And Ocean from his blue depths

  Replied, “It will be strange!”

And from their hollow caverns

  The rocks replied—“Revenge!”


It was an hour of stillness,

  In the green and leafy June,

Midway between the cool eve

  And the sultry ray of noon.

Thin clouds were floating idly,

  And with his changing rays

The playful sun bedappled

  The green and ferny braes.

The birds were chirping faintly,

  It scarcely was a song;

But the breath of green creation

  And fragrant life was strong.

The lazy trees were nodding,

  The flowers were half awake,

And toilsome men were basking,

  Like the serpent in the brake.

The Borean winds were sleeping,

  Asleep was ocean’s roar,

And ripple was chasing ripple

  On the silver-sounding shore.

The countless ocean-daughters

  Were weaving from the waves

Bright webs of scattered sunlight

  To deck their sparry caves;

And in her sapphire chamber,

  Of lucent beauty rare,

The sea-queen Amphitrite

  Was plaiting her sea-green hair.

But the chase, and the dance, and the gambol,

  And the tramp of Triton war

Were dumb—for father Neptune

  Had reined his billowy car.

The lovely Galatea,

  Within a silent bay,

With her dear shepherd Acis

  In blest seclusion lay.

High craggy rocks steep-rising,

  The bosomed beach enclose;

And at the feet of the goddess

  The rippling wavelet flows.

The shepherd sang to please her:

  He piped a simple air,

And as he sang gazed alway

  Into that face so fair;

He drank the dew of heaven,

  Deep draughts of beauty rare,

And he never could weary gazing

  On the face of the sea-nymph fair.

He sang the shepherd of Latinos,

  Endymion the blest;

He sang his sweet day labours,

  And his sweeter night of rest:

His labours sweet and easy,

  Beneath the sunny cope,

To watch the fleecy wanderers

  That cropped the Carian slope;

His rest more sweet, when Dian,

  Fleet huntress of the woods,

Came bounding over the mountains,

  Came leaping over the floods,

Came dancing over the rivers,

  That with her beauty shone,

To see in mellow moonlight

  The sleep of Endymion.

She looked on the lovely sleeper,

  The soul that knew no strife;

He looked like some spotless marble

  God-wakened into life.

She bended gently o’er him;

  Beneath his breast of snow,

She heard the pure blood flowing,

  So musical below.

She smoothed the mossy pillow

  All softly where he slept,

And a fragrant flower sprang near him,

  Each tear the goddess wept.

She kissed his cheeks so downy,

  So beautiful, so brown,

And amid his locks so golden

  She wove a silver crown.

Her breath was music round him,

  And her presence fancies fair,

That cradled the happy dreamer

  In a winged and rosy lair.

She looked on the sleeping shepherd,

  And her love with gazing grew,

And the limbs of the lovely mortal

  She bathed in immortal dew.

O happy shepherd of Latmos,

  What sleeping bliss divine!

I might close mine eyes for ever,

  To win one sleep like thine!

Thus sang the gentle Acis,

  And rose to pluck a bloom,

With the hair of the lovely sea-nymph

  To mingle its sweet perfume.

A noise was heard—a rumbling,

  A crashing sound.—“Oh stay!

O Acis, Acis!”—Buried

  Beneath a rock he lay.

The rock came from the high cliff,

  A huge and pointed stone,

By the hand of the savage monster,

  The bloody Cyclops, thrown.

He stood on the craggy coping,

  And laughed with a laughter wild;

“I have slain at once, and buried,

  False goddess, thy mortal child!”

The lovely Galatea,

  She fell in speechless woe;

On the rock that covered her Acis

  Her tears unceasing flow.


  ἐκρίθη δ’ ἔρις ἃν ἐν Ἴδᾳ

    κρίνει τρισσὰς μακάρων

      παῖδας ἀνὴρ βούτας

ἐπὶ δορὶ καὶ ϕόνῳ καὶ ἐμῶν μελάθρων λώβᾳ·

  στένει δὲ καί τις αμϕὶ τὸν εὔρουν Εὐρώταν

      Δάκαινα πολυδάκρυτος ἐν δόμοις κόρα,

        πολιὸν δ’ επὶ κρᾶτα μάτηρ

          τέκνων θανόντων τίθεται χέρα

            δρύπτεταί τε παρειὰν

      δίαιμον ὄνυχα τιθεμένα σπαραγμοῖς.



On lofty Ida’s grassy slope

  Sat Priam’s shepherd son,

What time Apollo’s beaming car

  Its course had wellnigh run,

One radiant day in June. He leant

  Upon his curvèd crook,

Musing; and to the sky around,

And to the various-dappled ground,

And the slow-oozing mossy rill,

On the green bosom of the hill,

  Sent many a wandering look.

And with intenter gaze he eyed

The palace of his father’s pride,

  That in the vale below

Rose regal; battlement and tower

And massy porch of brazen power

  To stay the battering foe:

And many a dwelling sheltered well,

’Neath Ilium’s sacred citadel

Far-smoking; and the firm-faced line

  Of the high-gated wall,

That rose with upright strength divine,

  At strong Poseidon’s call.

And in his heart the hopeful thought

Swelled venturous; and fair fancies float

Before him; and the secret germ

Of manhood’s ripening fate grew warm.

The pomp of life in rolling splendour,

  Bright wealth and purple power,

And rosy smiles and twinings tender,

  In love’s fresh-blossoming hour

O’ercame his spirit, and possessed

With pleasant tumult his young breast.

Thus finely rapt, he mused, and leant

  Upon his curvèd crook;

And, as the shadows came and went,

Upon the hill, he, like a seer,

Saw flitting shapes of hope and fear,

  In the heart’s shadowy book.


Serene and still the sun doth set,

  The wave with gold is gleaming;

But see a glory brighter yet

  From high Olympus streaming!

The shepherd lifts his eye, and looks:

  A splendour like a star

Sails westward; like a watch-fire now—

  Now ’tis a flaming car.

O Heavens! what glorious sight he sees!

  With sweep of breezy lightness

Down Ida’s slope the car descends,

  And fills the mount with brightness;

Then lights at Paris’ foot. The god

That bears a serpent-cinctured rod,

And guides, a winged charioteer,

That radiant cloud-car’s swift career,

Checks the keen steeds with cunning rein,

And thus bespeaks the princely swain:

“Beautiful son of Ilium’s king,

To thee from Jove on flaming wing

This word I bring: A contest rare,

Which is the fairest of the three,

Between Jove’s daughter and his wife

And Aphrodite golden-fair

Breaks Heaven’s sweet peace. Great Jove to thee

The judgment yields. This hour prepare

  Thy doom to end the strife.”

He spake; and forth from out the cloud

That doth the Olympian car enshroud,

Steps lofty Hera, with the mien

And posture of a queen.

“Shepherd, thou seest the Queen of Heaven,

  Jove’s thunder-hall is mine,

To me if beauty’s prize be given,

  Attend what meed is thine.

I give thee sway and lordly rule;

  This populous Asian land

Shall be to thee a training school,

  To mould with plastic hand

 The pliant millions of mankind;

  Thy lofty thought shall be

 A law to ages, that resigned

  Shall take their stamp from thee.

Where to Apollo swells the pæan,

From the bright isles of the Ægean—

Where the white peaks of Caucasus shine

O’er the dark Euxine’s horrent brine—

Where blest Arabia’s sunny shore

Teems with the fragrant spicy store—

Where Ganges rolls his ample flood,

And spreads wide leagues of pregnant mud,

Far as the wine-god tiger-borne

Travelled the bright realms of the morn;

So far, if beauty’s prize be mine,

Shall wealth, and state, and power be thine.”

She spake; and her proud form back drew

Into the cloud; when forth with spear,

And casque, and large round buckler clear,

Jove’s blue-eyed daughter stept to view.

“Thou seest the warrior-maid of Heaven,

  The strength of spears is mine,

To me if beauty’s prize be given,

  The hero’s fame is thine.

I give the strength of sinewy arm,

  And the sure-levelled blow,

To stay the march of haughty harm,

  And lay the lawless low.

The daring thought, the piercing eye,

  The free and fearless breath,

The grasp that snatches victory

  Even in the throat of death.

Where forests of the threatful spear

Flash o’er the line from van to rear;

Where furious Mars in scythèd car

Leads the hot chase of panting war;

Where quakes the air with arrowy storm,

And man to man works mortal harm,

Thou shalt not fear; but to the cry

Of freedom, and of fatherland,

Shalt feel thy manhood mounting high,

And, with a chosen true-sworn band,

Breasting wars crimson tide shalt stand

Firm as a rooted tree. Thy name

Shall be a charm to smother shame,

A travelling watchword to the free;

The peasant’s song shall tell of thee,

And little children shout for glee;

The hearth by thee shall blaze more brightly,

And loving hearts shall beat more lightly;

Thou shalt be blest of mothers; thou

Shalt see the ploughman turn his plough

  O’er fields of recent slaughter;

The full-eared corn shall wave its pride,

Where wisdom was true valour’s guide,

  From me, Jove’s blue-eyed daughter.”

She spake; and back the maid withdrew;

  When forth, in beauty mighty,

Stept radiant to the ravished view

  The golden Aphrodite.

“Shepherd, the strongest power in Heaven,

  All-conquering love, is mine;

To me if beauty’s prize be given,

  Earth’s fairest fair is thine.

I give thee beauty; being fair,

  A fairer thou shalt find,

And mated live the loveliest pair,

  From Gaul to furthest Ind.

The clear smooth brow, the glowing eye,

  The shining hue of health,

The living grace that none may buy

  With mines of golden wealth,

I give to thee. In fragrant beds,

Where violets nod their purple heads,

Where odorous jessamine and roses

Twine the cool bower where peace reposes,

Where glimpses of the stray sunshine,

Pierce the broad-leaved dark-clustered vine;

There thou shalt look in beauty’s face,

And gently twine the soft embrace,

Till thy full liquid eye shall swim

With ecstasy, and overbrim

Thy soul with joy, and every limb

Thrill with rare transport. Gods above

No keener joy have known than love,

Than when with impulse fresh and mighty,

It stirs the soul and elevates,

And every throbbing sense dilates,

By gift of golden Aphrodite.

Such bliss, if beauty’s prize be mine,

Shepherd of Ida, shall be thine.”

She spake; and the full-floating view

Of her bright fairness overthrew

All sterner purpose. “Thou art fair,”

He cried, “beyond the dull compare

Of meaner forms! Henceforth my duty,

With fervid heart-resolve, shall be

To win the fair, and worship beauty

In thee, and those most like to thee.”

He said; and straight the vision flew,

Dissolving from his tranceful view,

  And all the air was clear.

A wonder-stricken wight he stood,

Like poet, when in tranceful mood

  He feels the Muses near;

But, as he homeward bent his way,

’Neath the last streaks of rosy day,

Jove’s thunder from the hill-top grey

  Rolled ominous on his ear.


Θησεὺς εἰς τὴν νῦν πόλιν οὖσαν

ξυνῴκισε πάντας καὶ ἠνάγκασε

μιᾷ πόλει ταύτῃ χρῆσθαι.—Thucydides.


’Tis the eighth of Pyanepsion,

  The vintage-time is o’er,

And the Attic crowds are thronging

  To the bright Phalerian shore.

From the shrine of Dionysus,

  In the city, forth they fare,

And wave the green vine-branches

  In the breezy morning air.

Old men, and maids, and matrons,

  From household labour free,

And working men, red-bonneted,

  And boys with noisy glee.

The noble and the ploughman,

  The freeman and the slave,

In festal march commingling,

  The viny branches wave.

And ever, as they march along,

  They raise their blithe halloo,

And shout the name of Theseus,

  With Ἰοῦ ἰοῦ ἰοῦ.

“O son of Ægeus, fetched at last,

  Across the briny foam,

We welcome thee, again to see

  Thy long-lost Attic home!”

And some with godlike Theseus’ name

  The gallant Cimon join,

Who brought the bones of Ægeus’ son

  Across the foamy brine:

“O Cimon, gallant Cimon,

  Thou o’er the watery track

From the wild men of Scyros

  Didst win our hero back!”

And thus they sing, and thus they march,

  And like a stream they pour,

Until with swelling bands they come

  To the bright Phalerian shore.


Lift up thine eyes, and know them,

  In festal broad display,

The Attic tribes all camped around

  The bright Phalerian bay.

I see the well-bronzed mountaineers,

  The stout Acharnian blades,

Who hew the tree, and char the wood

  In Parnes’ piny glades;

The men who watch on Phyle,

  Proud neighbours of the sky,

And look o’er all the Attic plain

  From rocky fortress high;



Who dwell on Corydallus,

  To Theseus’ memory true,

For there the grim Procrustes

  That godlike hero slew;

The sailors of Piraeus,

  Where rests on rocky pillow

Lord of the seas, Themistocles,

  Beside the briny billow;

From verdant Cerameicus,

  Where sacred olives grow,

And sculptured stones and cypress-trees

  The sleeping heroes show;

The youths of the Lyceum,

  With light-heeled step elastic,

To every manly posture trained

  By noble art gymnastic;

The men of white Colonus,

  Where the awful Furies reign,

And Poseidon horse careering shows

  The mace that rules the main.

The people of Eleusis,

  Where the mystic goddess dwells;

The Rharian plain and Rheti,

  Where the briny fountain wells.

The men of Marathon I see,

  Brave men with welcome harsh,

Who met the Mede, and him with speed

  Drave through the blood-stained marsh

Back to the fretful sea. With them

  The men of Rhamnus stand,

Who, from the rock of Nemesis look

  On the peaked Eubœan land;

Then Brauron’s priestly choir, whose hands

  Have holy service done

To Dian’s idol bravely filched

  By Agamemnon’s son

From Tauris’ scowling shores; then they

  From Laurium’s rocky store

Who win from the harsh-grained mountain’s bowels

  The pliant silver ore.

And on the extreme beach I see

  The men of the Sunian strand,

From the high-perched shrine of the maid divine,

  With the strong spear-shaking hand

Who welcomes the storm-vext sailor back

  To his dear-loved Attic land.

Oh, fair to see on the storied ground

  Is the festive pomp to-day

Of the Attic tribes all camped around

  The bright Phalerian bay!


Ἰοῦ, ἰοῦ along the shore,

  Ἰοῦ among the hills,

Ἰοῦ, ἰοῦ the billowy blue

  Of the bright Phalerum fills!

Ἰοῦ, Ἰοῦ the gay trireme

  Of the gallant Cimon nears;

The pennons glitter in the sun,

  The lusty seaman cheers.

And now they hale the ships ashore;

  Now on the mole they stand,

The captains, and the admiral

  Who holds the high command.

“Jove bless thee, gallant Cimon!”

  For thus they sing and say;

“Thou bring’st the bones of Theseus

  To Theseus’ home to-day.

Thou tall and handsome Cimon,

  Brave, generous, and gay;

The gods do for thee even more

  Than thou for us this day!”

A fair and noble convoy

  Now on the shore behold

Around the bier of Theseus,

  That kingly hero old:

The high priest of Eleusis,

  With purple tunic dight,

And round his brow a fillet bound

  Of pure and spotless white;

The archon king, with myrtle bound,

  The archon of the year,

The polemarch and thesmothetes,

  Around great Theseus’ bier;

The pilots of the public weal,

  Free counsellors of the Free,

That watch the spark o’ the sleepless fire,

  And frame the wise decree;

The judges of the hill of Mars

  With reverend pomp are there,

That by the awful Furies’ shrine

  The doom of blood declare.

Then all the mingled people,

  The freeman and the slave,

Around the bier of Theseus

  Their viny branches wave,

Old men, and maids, and matrons,

  From household labour free,

And working men, red-bonneted,

  And boys with noisy glee.

And then in banded ranks they form,

  And in festive lines they go,

To the city of Athena,

  Where the sacred olives grow;

And ever as they wind along,

  With measured pomp decorous,

From rank to rank well varied swells

  The mellow-throated chorus.



The son of old Ægeus was valiant and brave!

  From the near Trœzenian strand

He scorned to return o’er the smooth-flowing wave,

  To his home in the dear Attic land;

But over the mountains craggy and high,

Where the wild winds rave, and the dark clouds fly.

Where the fierce-hearted chief of the plundering clan

Lies in wait for the life of the wayfaring man:

    There, there, and only there,

    Would godlike Theseus go.


Where leech Æsculapius brooks his skill

  In the famed Epidaurian land,

Stood huge Periphetes, grim lord of the hill,

  With a brazen club in his hand.

Him where the pass with his bulk he bestrode,

Strong Theseus laid stark all his length on the road;

And his big brazen club for a trophy he bore,

As the hide of the lion strong Hercules wore:

    There, there, breathless there,

    He laid the monster low.


Hear Corinth, that looks east and west to the sea,

  Lived Sinis, the godless offender,

Who tore the stout limbs that were tied to the tree

  By the strength of the savage pine-bender.

Him Theseus grasps, and his huge limbs he joins

With cords to a brace of well-bended pines;

Then, freed with a jerk, the trees fly to heaven,

And limb from limb is asunder riven:

    There, there, the birds in the air

    His quivering body tore.


In Megaris Sciron kept his lair,

  On the rocks beside the sea;

No harmless wayfarer did Sciron spare

  On the rocks beside the sea.

“Come wash my feet, good stranger mine!”

And he kicked him into the billowy brine.

Mercy shall none to the merciless be.

Over the cliff and into the sea,

    Theseus flung his huge hulk there,

    To bleach on the stony shore!


Beneath Corydallus Procrustes dwelt,

  The life of the lawless he led;

His torturing force the traveller felt,

  Being racked on an iron bed.

Beneath Corydallus, in the hollow,

Theseus prayed to the archer Apollo;

Then gashed his brow with a blow unsightly,

And lopped his legs, and stretched him tightly:

    “There, there, sleep on the lair

    Which thine own blood made gory!”


The son of old Ægeus was valiant and brave;

  The sons of Pallas were banded,

Fifty foes with glittering glaive,

  But he smote them single-handed.

Over the brow of the flowery Hymettus,

Through the midland, by blooming Gargettus,

Circling they came with a bristling array,

As hunters the stag when he stands at bay;

    But there, there, he smote them there,

    And his name shall be famous in story.



Didst thou hear the voice of woe,

  Cries of woe and wailing,

Lifted hands and tearful flow

  O’er the land prevailing?

’Tis come! ’tis come! the year that shames

  The humbled Attic nation;

’Tis come! the black, black hour that claims

  The monstrous immolation.

Seven sires must send their sons,

  And seven dames their daughters,

The ripest and the loveliest ones,

  Across the Cretan waters.

Minos there, who lords the deep,

  With fate shall overpower them,

And in his darksome-winding keep

  The Minotaur devour them.

Woe! woe! the year of blood!

  The day of desolation!

When sorrow streameth like a flood

  O’er all the Attic nation!


The lot, the lot, the bloody lot!

  But why this dinsome cheering?

’Tis he! ’tis he! Greek mothers, see

  The kingly youth appearing!

The noble Theseus! he hath heard

  What blameful words do gather

Among the people blindly stirred

  Against his grey-haired father;

And he hath thought a kingly thing:

  To stay the rude commotion

Himself before the Fate will fling

  Himself with high devotion.

His blood the king’s own son shall pour,

  And share his people’s slaughter,

Or he will slay the Minotaur

  Across the Cretan water.

Bless thee! bless thee! noble youth!

  The gods shall help thy daring;

Return again, in thy white train

  The bright redemption bearing!


The summer’s sultry heat is gone,

  The fresh sea-breeze is blowing;

’Tis the feast of Pyanepsion,

  And the sweet new wine is glowing.

A cheer—a cheer across the main!

  A shout comes from the billow!

Theseus, Theseus comes again;

  Shake sorrow from your pillow!

No more, ye fathers, mourn your sons!

  Mothers, weep not your daughters!

He brings you back your dear-loved ones

  Across the Cretan waters.

From the trunk with trenchant glaive

  The monster’s head he severed,

The mazes of the darksome cave

  With prudent clue recovered.

Welcome to thy country’s shore,

  Thou king’s son girt with glory;

And live in song for evermore

  The pride of Attic story!



    Wise was the man, most wise,

Who first with cunning-thoughted phrase declared

    That earth and glowing skies

Were by the might of primal Jove prepared.

    Jove, first of gods, arose

From the chaotic sluggish Night inform;

    And lo! the dense dark glows

Forthwith, as the strong sunshine breaks the storm.

    By Jove the starry spheres

Were fired; by Jove the bright-eyed flowers peeped forth,

    And all the pomp appears

Of various-pulsing life that treads the jocund earth.


    This Theseus knew; and when

His ordering eye scanned the tumultuous life

    Of the old Attic men,

By love’s strong bond he quelled the unholy strife.

    The ploughman of the plain,

The mountain shepherd, and rough seaman flock

    To own the social rein

Swayed by his hand from the Cecropian rock.

    No more doth glen with glen

Hold feud; the soil reeks not with kindred slaughter;

    And all the Attic men

Love the Athenian maid, great Jove’s strong-hearted daughter.



Oh, hard is the poor man’s lot on earth!

  The rich man like a god

Rides through the sky, careering high;

  The poor man cleaves the clod.

Bent o’er the clay from day to day,

  He is grey before his prime;

And with aching bones beneath the stones

  He is laid before his time.


The rich man is lord of the heathy hills;

  He is king of the grassy plains,

Without a thought his chest he fills,

  And counts his careless gains.

The poor for him sore burdens bear,

  And in dark mines they burrow;

But he hath more care for a stag or a hare,

  Than for all the poor man’s sorrow.


But Theseus was the poor man’s friend,

  He felt their sore disaster,

He taught the proud man’s will to bend;

  The strong man found a master.

And equal law from him they sought,

  The great and eke the small;

The noble for his faction fought,

  The monarch stood for all.


Oh, hard is the poor man’s lot on earth!

  But when the just man reigns,

A cheerful blaze shines from his hearth

  That lightens all his pains.

O saviour Jove! to earth still send

  —This hope from thee we borrow—

Some champion bold, like Theseus old,

  To heal the poor man’s sorrow.


And thus they sang, and thus they marched,

  Till they reached Ilissus’ water,

And to the god-loved city came

  Of Jove’s spear-shaking daughter.

Beneath the awful hill of Mars,

  Where blood for blood atones,

A gently swelling knoll receives

  The godlike hero’s bones.

And round the bier the people throng

  With reverent circling ring,

And in the middle with myrtle bound,

  High stood the archon king;

And beside him stood a milk-white bull,

  That never had known the yoke,

And waited now with patient neck,

  The sacrificing stroke.

Then, with a heaven-directed gaze,

  And hands uplifted high,

The high priest of Eleusis prayed

  To Jove that rules the sky:

“O mighty Jove! who sway’st above,

  As kings are strong below,

To him that ruled our Attic land

  From thee shall honour flow.

The bull we slay, the stone we lay

  To Ægeus’ son divine,

But vain the toil unless thy smile

  May bless the rising shrine!”

He spoke, and straight with patient neck

  The bull received the stroke;

With gilded horn it smote the ground,

  And thus the high priest spoke:

“As humbled low beneath the blow

  The huge bull quivering falls,

So smite thou him, great Jove, whose hand

  Shall harm these rising walls!”

Then came the master-builder wise

  The corner-stone to lay,

And thus before the listening crowd

  With solemn voice doth say:

“This stable-pillared shrine secure

  While Athens stands shall stand,

And the frequent oar shall beat the shore

  Of the godlike Attic land!”

And while the corner-stone he lays

  With weighty pomp decorous,

Upswells the crowning hymn of praise

  From the mellow-throated chorus.



Famous is Thebes, by thy birth made immortal,

  Son of Alcmena, whose bravery won

A place with the gods when Olympus’ wide portal

  Flew open to welcome Jove’s club-bearing son.

He griped the fierce lion with arm strong and pliant;

The oxen he stole from the three-bodied giant,

  Where the sun has his westering bed;

The snake hundred-headed to death he devoted,

From Hades he dragged the grim hound triple-throated,

  Whose bark splits the realm of the dead.

    Through labours enorm

    His conquering form

Pressed on with unsleeping endeavour,

    Till wrapt in pure flame

    He rose without blame

To the throne of his father for ever.


Son of Alcmena, thy brother in danger

  Was Theseus, the pride of the old Attic land:

Nor he to thine honour might long be a stranger;

  Jove claimed him to swell the Olympian band.

The mountain centaurs, the shaggy assaulters

Of women he tamed: and from Attica’s altars

  He drave the fierce Amazons far.

His arm still was raised for the poor and unfriended,

The reign of rude force by his strong will was ended,

  And law was the watchword of war.

    And now at the board

    Where Jove is the lord

He sits with the son of Alcmena;

    And looks from the sky

    With a joy-beaming eye

On the temple and town of Athena.


Παλλάδος ἐν πόλει

τᾶς καλλιδίϕρου τ’ Ἀθαναίας

    ἐν κροκέῳ πέπλῳ

ζεύξομαι ἅρματι πώλους,

    ἐν δαιδαλέαισι

ποικίλλουσ’ ἀνθοκρόκοισι πήναις,

    ἢ Τιτάνων γενεὰν,

    τὰν Ζεὺς ἀμϕιπύρῳ

κοιμίζει ϕλογμῷ Kρονίδας;—Euripides.

“Praise to Pallas, virgin Pallas, Jove-born Pallas, praise to thee!

Thou dost crown with grace the worthy, thou dost gird with strength the free!

Mighty Jove unmothered bore thee; when the Highest throbbed with pain

Thou didst leap, an armèd maiden, perfect from his procreant brain.

From the strongest strong thou camest, from the wisest god most wise,

Piercing through each cloudiest error with thy clear cerulean eyes.

Thou dost wield the Thunderer’s thunder with thy strong-compelling spear;

Where thou lookest stands the opposer powerless with the palsied fear;

Where thy father’s shield thou shakest, fringed with snakes, what man may bear

All their bristling terror, who the trunkless Gorgon’s stony glare?

Where with firm-set foot thou marchest, lawless-swelling murmurs cease;

Rebel thousands fall before thee, where by war thou pavest peace;

Jove alone in high Olympus, maid divine, is like to thee;

Thou dost crown with grace the worthy, thou dost gird with strength the free.”

Thus the city rings with praises, rock to plain gives back the glee,

For the great feast of Athena Athens rings with revelry.

Nobly have the games been ordered, nobly were the vases won;

With a wreath of sacred olive Athens twines each conquering son;

Nobly have the swift torch-bearers in long lines a nimble band,

Like swift light upon the waters, winged the torch from hand to hand;

Nobly with their fervid wheels the rattling chariots turned the goal,

While in billows multitudinous far the rival plaudits roll;

Nobly have the stout athletes displayed the breadth of manly form,

In the strife of graceful mastery brandished well the brawny arm;

Nobly the clear-throated singer taught the stable-banded chorus

How to swell the notes of triumph, how to lift the wail sonorous:

And thy song, Aristogeiton, and Harmodius’ patriot lay,

While their swords they wreathe with myrtle, thrills each freeman’s heart to-day.

How the last, the greatest honour of this pomp of many days,

Fills each eye with bright amazement, fills each heart with forward praise.

Lo! it comes the fair procession: see, where flaunting in the gale,

From the sacred ship of Pallas floats the golden-broidered sail!

’Tis the stole of chaste Athena sporting in the breezy air;

Modest maids with pious labour wove the gown that she shall wear;

Who is near may see the cunning of those fingers fine that wove,

On that sacred stole, the combat of the godless crew who strove

’Gainst the immortals. Warlike Pallas stood at the right hand of Jove,

Firm with reasoned calm resistance ’gainst the Titans blindly blustering.

On they come portentous-roaring, all their gusty legions mustering,

Breathing fire, and belching smoke, and shaking Earth with fits of fear,

Where their serpent-feet huge-twining, where their hundred hands appear.

Thrice from their rocky sockets firm the stiff and far-fanged roots they tore

Of the trees that huge Olympus on his shaggy bosom bore;

Thrice was Ossa piled on Pelion; and the monstered height uphove,

On its top, the rebel brood who dared defy the might of Jove.

With her father’s thunder, Pallas, and with lightning’s scorching flare,

Hurled them thrice in fall precipitous through the dark-convolvèd air;

And in senseless rout confounded through the yawning gates of hell,

Stiff with stony stupefaction from the blue-eyed maid they fell.

’Neath the ocean’s root she bound them, by fair Sicily’s smoking shore,

There to sleep an aching sleep, with feverish dreams for evermore,—

Dreams that tell by pillared flame, reeking earth, and seething water,

Vain, how vain is witless force against great Jove’s high-counselled daughter.

Such the story of the stole the gentle-handed maidens wove,

To adorn thine ancient image mighty seed of mighty Jove;

And in triumph now they bear it, and to pave the festal way

Wisely marshalled bands attendant march in beautiful array.

From the highlands, from the lowlands, from steep Sunium’s sounding waves,

Came to join the pious convoy all the lovely, all the brave:

Ancient elders hoary-bearded in the solemn van we see,

Bearing high the wavy branches of the sacred olive-tree;

Aged women with them banded; well beseems the old to bear

Peaceful signs, with peaceful words to tame hot hands that rashly dare.

Them the graceful riders follow, firm-set men that scour the field,

With the spear the brazen-pointed, with the hollow-rounded shield.

Then the matrons, decent-vested, faithful to their husbands’ bed,

And the stranger women bearing water-pitchers on their head.

Next the young men crowned with millet, march with light and gladsome foot,

Singing praises to the goddess with the players of the flute,

And the noble-blooded maidens of Cecropia’s purest race,

Bearing baskets nicely stored with tools for use of holy place.

Marshalled thus, and trimly banded with sedately measured speed,

From the Ceramicus wending they the long procession lead,

By the shrine of boon Demeter, by the old Pelasgic wall,

By the place where Pythian Phœbus rears his lofty pillared hall,

By the Pnyx, the people’s platform, whence the word electric speeds,

Word that fires the patriot’s heart, and nerves his arm to manly deeds.

Thence with gradual sweep ascending to Erectheus’ rocky home,

To the shrine of high-perched Pallas, with their jubilant troops they come;

Then before the sacred doorstead, when the last had reached the goal,

They unfurl the floating glory of the rich and saffron stole.

To the inmost cell they bring it, where the sacred image lies,

On a couch with flowers bestrewn, of Pallas, with cerulean eyes;

And selectest hands invest her with the robe which virgins wove

For the maid that keeps the city, daughter of immortal Jove—

While within the pictured porch, and round the far-drawn colonnade,

Thus the sacred hymn was sounded to Cecropia’s blue-eyed maid:


“Praise to Pallas, virgin Pallas, Jove-born Pallas, praise to thee!

Thou hast crowned with gold the worthy, thou has girt with strength the free;

Not like Mars in blood delighting, blind, impetuous, warreth she,

Lashing wild the waves of battle like the tempest-fretted sea;

But with clear and calm decision, and with holy-glowing heart,

She to shield the peaceful labourer, whirls the spear and wings the dart;

From the rock with old Erectheus where sublime the virgin dwells,

Bight and law and stable order she with gracious force compels.

When the gods in consultation sate to fix the doubtful claim

If Athena or Poseidon should be sponsor to its fame,

With his three-pronged mace the sea-god proudly struck the pregnant ground,

And with sounding hoof four-footed forth the generous steed did bound.

Like Poseidon’s waves mane-tossing it did spurn the Attic clay,

High its strength-clad neck uprearing, proudly snorting for the fray.

Laughed the gods with loud approval; but with look serene and clear

Smote the rock Jove’s blue-eyed daughter with her fine celestial spear;

And in green and graceful beauty rose the gentle olive-tree.

Jeered the gods; but Jove the wisest gave the peaceful palm to thee.

Wield who will the imperious sceptre, hold the tribes of earth in awe,

By the sword that knows no mercy, by the conqueror’s ruthless law,

Athens, thine a nobler triumph; to be wise and to be free,

And to star thy track with science, this thy Pallas gave to thee.

Every art that peace can cherish she hath marked out in her plan,

By thy ministry to smooth each rough and savage-minded man.

With the axe and with the chisel, with the needle pointed fine,

She hath made each firmest fabric, every nicest texture thine.

She to rib the stoutly-timbered, stable-masted ship hath taught thee,

And with wings of flaxen tissue spread to willing winds hath brought thee

Gainful to the wealth-producing harbours of the foodful earth.

In the earthly breast she planted lofty thoughts of heavenly birth;

She for use of holy worship shapely stones on stones hath laid,

Piled the pillared porch, and gently curved the sweeping colonnade.

She hath taught the curious limner how to trace with breathing lines

Every limber form that moveth, every shifting hue that shines;

Taught the cunning-handed sculptor how the cold stone to inspire

With pure thought’s calm brooding sweetness, with the glow of deep desire.

Wisdom she gave to the poet; though the brightest fancies flit,

Pointless falls the numerous strophe, where wise Pallas lends not wit.

Praise to Pallas, virgin Pallas, mighty Jove’s thrice-mighty daughter!

She hath writ her nation’s record not in lines of crimson slaughter.

She will make her people teachers of the wise in many lands,

And their tongue shall ring sonorous where the thinker’s watch-tower stands;

And from age to age unending, and from rolling sea to sea,

Whoso names wise Athen’s sages, wise Athena, nameth thee!”


ἔϕη δὲ Αἰσχύλος µειράκιον ὢν καθεύδειν ἐν ἀγρῷ ϕυλάσσων σταϕυλὰς, καὶ οἱ Διόνυσον ἐπιστάντα κελεῦσαι τραγωδίαν ποιεῖν ὡς δὲ ἦν ἡμέρα (πείθεσθαι γὰρ ἐθέλειν) ῥᾷστα ἤδη πειρώμενος ποιεῖν.—Pausanias.

Near Elensis’ holy city,

By the sacred-winding way,

Where the pomp was yearly marshalled

On Demeter’s festal day,

Sate a youth, the vineyard watching,

’Neath the moony welkin fair,

’Mid the rich and leafy greenness,

Gazing mutely through the air;

Sate and mused, high-vaulting fancies

Taming with devoutest fear;

Mingling thoughts of far adventure

With the peaceful goddess near.

While pure Phœbe high was wheeling,

Thus his lonely watch he kept,

O’er each dim conception brooding,

Till the musing watchman slept.

Through his soft sleep’s dreamy rapture,

Festive notes in tinkling war

Thrilled his ear; his eye bright Bromius

High-borne in a tiger-car,

Smote with wonder. Soft-limbed beauty

Shone in him divinely fair,

Swam his eye in wavy gambol,

Floated free his sun-bright hair;

Crimson-mantled health, not faintly,

O’er his rounded cheeks was spread,

Coolest ivy bound his temples,

Horns of strength rayed from his head.

Thus the blooming vine-god beauteous

Lighted on the grassy sod,

And, with keen-felt presence glowingly,

To the mortal spake the god:

“Son of Euphorion, from Olympus

Sent, I come with haste to thee

Not unworthy; thou my singer

And Apollo’s bard shalt be.

I thy thoughts have known the deepest,

The strong love that stirs thy soul;

Thou shalt run, divinely strengthened,

To the glory-glittering goal.

Where the stable-banded chorus

Voices Dionysus’ praise,

Thou shalt lead their songs in triumph,

Through the curious-measured maze.

From the cloudy dim tradition

Thou shalt call the heroes old;

To thy great conception imaged,

Kings and gods thine art shall mould.

From old Homer’s banquet nicely

Thou shalt cull the various feast;

And the king of men from Hades’

All-embracing hold released,

At thy call shall march to Argos,

At thy word retrace his path

Back to where false Clytemnestra

Stabs him in the treacherous hath.

Thou the son shalt arm with vengeance,

Till the blood-stained mother die;

At thy call the hell-hounds furious,

With a sense-confounding cry,

Shall pursue the mother-murderer,

O’er the land and o’er the sea,

Wan and weary, worn and wasted,

Till a god shall speak him free.

To the old Cadmean fortress,

Breathing breath of haughty war,

Thou shalt guide the host white-shielded,

In the dust-enveloped car.

Thou the haughty-hearted Titan,

That with bitter words did rail

’Gainst the thunderer, to the storm-swept,

Ice-ribbed, snow-capt crag shalt nail.”

Thus with words of lofty promise,

To the mortal spake the god;

Thrilled him with his keen-felt presence,

Touched him with his pine-tipt rod,

And waked the dreamer. He, upstarting

From his sweet entrancement, saw

In thin air the god evanishing,

And he worshipped him with awe.

And he vowed to be his singer,

And he sang full many a lay,

With religious power deep-throated,

From that consecrating day.

And he kept the trust committed

To his ward with reverent care,

Voicing fearless inspiration,

That men felt a god was there;

Till, with ivy crowned victorious,

He was hailed by Attic throngs:

Time their high approval glorious

Through far-sounding halls prolongs.


Λειμῶνα τόν ἐρόεντα Μαραθῶνος.—Aristophanes.


From Pentelicus’ pine-clad height[11]

  A voice of warning came,

That shook the silent autumn night

  With fear to Media’s name.

Pan from his Marathonian cave[12]

  Sent screams of midnight terror,

And darkling horror curled the wave

  On the broad sea’s moonlit mirror.

      Woe, Persia, woe! thou liest low, low!

        Let the golden palaces groan!

      Ye mothers weep for sons that shall sleep

        In gore on Marathon!


Where Indus and Hydaspes roll,

  Where treeless deserts glow,

Where Scythians roam beneath the pole,

  O’er fields of hardened snow,

The great Darius rules; and now,

  Thou little Greece, to thee

He comes; thou thin-soiled Athens, how

  Shalt thou dare to be free?

      There is a God that wields the rod

        Above: by Him alone

      The Greek shall be free, when the Mede shall flee

        In shame from Marathon.


He comes; and o’er the bright Ægean,

  Where his masted army came,

The subject-isles uplift the pæan

  Of glory to his name.

Strong Naxos, strong Eretria yield;

  His captains near the shore

Of Marathon’s fair and fateful field,

  Where a tyrant marched before.[13]

      And a traitor guide, the sea beside,

        Now marks the land for his own,

      Where the marshes red shall soon be the bed

        Of the Mede in Marathon.


Who shall number the host of the Mede?

  Their high-tiered galleys ride,

Like locust-bands with darkening speed,

  Across the groaning tide.

Who shall tell the many-hoofed tramp

  That shakes the dusty plain?

Where the pride of his horse is the strength of his camp,

  Shall the Mede forget to gain?

Oh fair is the pride of those turms as they ride,

  To the eye of the morning shown!

But a god in the sky hath doomed them to lie

  In dust, on Marathon.


Dauntless beside the sounding sea

  The Athenian men reveal

Their steady strength. That they are free

  They know; and inly feel

Their high election, on that day,

  In foremost fight to stand,

And dash the enslaving yoke away,

  From all the Grecian land.

      Their praise shall sound the world around,

        Who shook the Persian throne,

      When the shout of the free travelled over the sea,

        From famous Marathon.


From dark Cithæron’s sacred slope,

  The small Platæan band

Bring hearts, that swell with patriot hope,

  To wield a common brand

With Theseus’ sons, at danger’s gates;

  While spell-bound Sparta stands,

And for the pale moon’s changes waits

  With stiff unkindly hands;

      And hath no share in the glory rare,

        That Athens shall make her own,

      When the long-haired Mede with fearful speed

        Falls back from Marathon.


“On, sons of the Greeks!” the war-cry rolls;

  “The land that gave you birth,

Your wives, and all the dearest souls

  That circle round each hearth;

The shrines upon a thousand hills,

  The memory of your sires,

Nerve now with brass your resolute wills,

  And fan your valorous fires!”

      And on like a wave came the rush of the brave—

        “Ye sons of the Greeks, on, on!”

      And the Mode stept back from the eager attack

        Of the Greek, in Marathon.


Hear’st thou the rattling of spears on the right?

  Seest thou the gleam in the sky?

The gods come to aid the Greeks in the fight,

  And the favouring heroes are nigh.

The lion’s hide I see in the sky,

  And the knotted club so fell,

And kingly Theseus’ conquering eye,

  And Macaria, nymph of the well.[14]

Purely, purely the fount did flow,

  When the morn’s first radiance shone;

But eve shall know the crimson flow

  Of its wave, by Marathon.


On, son of Cimon, bravely on!

  And Aristides just!

Your names have made the field your own,

  Your foes are in the dust!

The Lydian satrap spurs his steed,

  The Persian’s bow is broken;

His purple pales; the vanquished Mode

  Beholds the angry token

      Of thundering Jove who rules above;

        And the bubbling marshes moan[15]

      With the trampled dead that have found their bed

        In gore, at Marathon.


The ships have sailed from Marathon,

  On swift disaster’s wings;

And an evil dream hath fetched a groan

  From the heart of the king of kings.

An eagle he saw, in the shades of night,

  With a dove that bloodily strove;

And the weak hath vanquished the strong in fight,

  The eagle hath fled from the dove.[16]

      Great Jove, that reigns in the starry plains,

        To the heart of the king hath shown,

      That the boastful parade of his pride was laid

        In dust, at Marathon.


But through Pentelicus’ winding vales

  The hymn triumphal runs,

And high-shrined Athens proudly hails

  Her free-returning sons.

And Pallas, from her ancient rock,

  With her shield’s refulgent round,

Blazes; her frequent worshippers flock,

  And high the pæans sound,

      How in deathless glory the famous story

        Shall on the winds he blown,

      That the long-haired Mede was driven with speed

        By the Greeks, from Marathon.


And Greece shall be a hallowed name,

  While the sun shall climb the pole,

And Marathon fan strong freedom’s flame

  In many a pilgrim soul.

And o’er that mound where heroes sleep,[17]

  By the waste and reedy shore,

Full many a patriot eye shall weep,

  Till Time shall be no more.

And the bard shall brim with a holier hymn,

  When he stands by that mound alone,

And feel no shrine on earth more divine

  Than the dust of Marathon.


Ὦ κλεινὰ Σαλαμὶς σὺ µέν που ναίεις ἁλίπλαγκτος, εὐδαίμων πᾶσιν περίϕαντος ἀεί.—Sophocles.

Seest thou where, sublimely seated on a silver-footed throne,

With a high tiara crested, belted with a jewelled zone,

Sits the king of kings, and, looking from the rocky mountain-side,

Scans with masted armies studded far the fair Saronic tide?

Looks he not with high hope beaming? looks he not with pride elate?

Seems he not a god, the Thunderer? and his words are winged with fate.

He hath come from far Euphrates, and from Tigris’ rushing tide,

To subdue the strength of Athens, to chastise the Spartan’s pride:

He hath come with countless armies, gathered slowly from afar,

From the plain, and from the mountain, marshalled ranks of motley war;

From the land, and from the ocean, that the burdened billows groan,

That the air is choked with banners, which great Xerxes calls his own.

Soothly he hath nobly ridden, o’er the fair fields, o’er the waste,

As the Earth might bear the burden, with a weighty-footed haste;

He hath cut in twain the mountain, he hath bridged the rolling main,

He hath lashed the flood of Helle, bound the billow with a chain;

And the rivers shrink before him, and the sheeted lakes are dry,

From his burden-bearing oxen, and his hordes of cavalry;

And the gates of Greece stand open; Ossa and Olympus fail;

And the mountain-girt Æmonia spreads the many-watered vale;

And her troops of famous horse, before the puissant Persian’s nod,

Flee; the death-defying Spartans prostrate lie beneath his rod,

Where with fleshy breast they walled thy famous pass, Thermopylæ.

And the god that shakes Cithæron feared to block his forceful way;

And the blue-eyed maid of Athens shook not then her heavenly spear,

Rock-perched Pallas, when the tread of the high-clambering foe was near;

And the sacred snake, huge-twining guardian of the virgin shrine,

Where the honeyed cake was waiting, tasted not the food divine;

Stood nor man nor god before him; he hath scoured the Attic land,

Chased the valiant sons of Athens to a barren island’s strand;

He hath hedged them round with triremes, lines on lines of bristling war;

He hath doomed the prey for capture; he hath spread his meshes far;

And he sits sublimely seated on a throne with pride elate,

To behold the victim fall beneath the sudden-swooping Fate.


Who may stand against his might?—with thy thin slip of rocky coast,

Athens, wilt thou tell thy fifties ’gainst the thousands of his host?

All the might of all the Orient, from the Ganges-watered Ind

To the isles that fringe the Ægean, ’gainst thy little state combined;

Turbaned Persians, with gay panoply from the gold of distant mines,

Host immortal with their wives, and troops of spangled concubines;

Mitred Cissians, high-capped Sacae, and the Assyrian brazen-crested;

The high-booted Paphlagonian; the swart Indian cotton-vested;

Shaggy warriors, goatskin-mantled, from the dreary Caspian strand,

And the camel-mounted riders from the incense-bearing land,

Thracians fierce, with shouts Bacchantic, and more savage war-halloo;

Sacred Tmolus’ sons, and Lydia’s soft and silken-vested crew;

And the sons of hoariest Thebes, and sacerdotal Memphis, where

Gods, in brutish incarnation, bellow through the sacred air;

And the sun-scorched, painted Ethiop, with his huge-spanned bow of war,

And the woolly-headed Libyan, driving swift the scythèd car;

And the boatmen of the lowland, that, with frequent-heating oar,

Plough the pools where floats the lotus, by the fat Nile’s peopled shore:

Such a crew he drives against thee. ’Neath the dusky-vested blight,

He hath ranged them to entrap thee.


                  Now behold the glorious light,

Beaming broadly from the chariot of the silver-steeded day,

Shows revealed the triple barrier of his ships in close array,

Girdling in the coast of Ajax. Yet no wavering fear is there;

Firmly stands the line of Athens.


            Hark! their loud shouts split the air.

Not the expected note of terror, not the wild cry of despair;

Foolish Xerxes! ’tis the exultant power that swells strong manhood’s breast;

’Tis the broadly-billowed pæan from the freemen of the West.


“Sons of the Greeks! now save your country! save your wives and children dear!

Save the sepulchres of your fathers! save the shrines of gods that hear

When the patriot prays! This day makes us free or slaves for ever!”

On they sail, with steady helming, sworn to die or to deliver.

Now they meet. Now beak on beak is furious dashed; and Sidon old

Drives her brazen-breasted triremes ’gainst the ships of Athens bold.

A moment equal; but the Athenian, in the desperate-handed strife,

Wields, as patriots well may wield, a surer sword and sharper knife.

On he presses—close and closer; cloven booms and shattered sails,

And the frequent-crashing oarage, mark the track where he prevails.

Ocean seethes beneath his fury; and the hostile-fretted flood

Yawns to drink the reeling Tyrian, and the floundering Cyprian’s blood.

Sobs the wave with drowned and drowning: where the narrow channels flow,

Vain the strife with death two-handed, here the water, there the foe.

Ship on ship is rudely clashed; for in the narrow strait confined,

Room is none to use their numbers; and, with strivings vain and blind,

Where they move they clog the movements of the friend they hoped to aid,

Where they fight they help the battle of the foe they should have stayed.

Vainly, with her Carian triremes, o’er the terror-tangled scene

Artemisia rides the battle like an Amazonian queen;

All is reasonless confusion. O’er the purple-streaming tide,

Helmless ships and shipless pilots struggle with the billows’ pride

Vainly—for the west wind rising with harsh wing and savage roar

Drives the foundered and the drowning countless on the Colian shore.

And to crown such wreck and carnage, when the hottest fight was o’er,

Rode the Athenian galleys proudly to a rocky islet’s shore,

Near to Salamis—there the king, to top the sure-deemed victory,

Susa’s chiefest bloom had stationed; and in waiting there they lie

To help their conquering friends, and swell the hoped-for triumph. Them the foe

Circle round with bristling beaks, and, where the billowy waters flow,

Blast them with the arrowy tempest, crush them with the huge-heaved rock,

Mow them down in rows defenceless, like the butchered bleating flock.

From his throne the monarch sees it, heap on heap of helpless slaughter,

With the life of Persia crimsoned far the fair Saronic water.

Bend thy robes, thou foolish Xerxes, rend the air with piteous cries!

On the rocky coast of Hellas gashed the pride of Persia lies!


Wake thee! wake thee! blinded Xerxes! God hath found thee out at last;

Snaps thy pride beneath His judgment, as the tree beneath the blast.

Haste thee! haste thee! speed thy couriers—Persian couriers travel lightly—

To declare thy stranded navy, and by cruel death unsightly

Dimmed thy glory. Hie thee! hie thee! hence e’en by what way thou earnest,

Dwarfed to whoso saw thee mightiest, and where thou wert fiercest, tamest!

Hide thee, where blank Fear shall hunt thee, and, more surely to undo thee,

Thirst and hunger where thou goest, brothered demons, shall pursue thee.

Where Cithceron dear to Bromius nods his horror-crested wood,

To the Phocian, to the Dorian, where Spercheius rolls his flood,

Through Æmonia steed-delighting, by Magnesia’s wave-lashed strand,

Through the hardy Macedonian’s, through the fierce-souled Thracian’s land,

By the reedy Bolbe’s waters, by the steep Pangæan height,

By the stream of holy Strymon thou shalt spur thy sleepless flight.

Frost and Fire shall league together, wrathful Heaven to Earth respond,

Strong Poseidon with his trident break thy impious vaunted bond;

Where he passed, with mouths uncounted eating up the famished land,

Now a slender skiff shall ferry Xerxes to the Asian strand.

Haste thee! haste thee! they are waiting by the palace-gates for thee,

By the golden gates of Susa eager mourners wait for thee;

Haste thee, where the guardian elders wait, a hoary-bearded train;

They shall see their king, but never see the sons they loved again.

Where thy weeping mother waits thee, queen Atossa waits to see

Dire fulfilment of her troublous vision-haunted sleep in thee.

She hath dreamt, and she shall see it, how an Eagle cowed with awe

Gave his kingly crest to pluck before a puny Falcon’s claw.

Haste thee! where the mighty shade of great Darius through the gloom

Rises dread, to teach thee wisdom, couldst thou learn it, from the tomb.

There begin the sad rehearsal, and, while streaming tears are shed,

To the thousand tongues that ask thee, tell the myriads of the dead!

Blame the god that so deceived thee—for the mighty men that died

Blame all gods that be, but chiefly blame thyself, and thine own pride!

Drown thy sorrow with much wailing! beat thy breast, thy vesture rend,

Tear thy hair, and pluck thy beard—weep till thou hast no tears to spend;

Call the mourning women to thee! while they lift the Mysian wail,

Thou to Susa’s sonless mothers pour the sorrow-streaming tale!


Λέγει που Ἡράκλειτος ὅτι πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ ουδὲν μένει, καὶ ποταμοῦ ῥοῇ ἀπεικάζων τὰ ὄντα λέγει ὡς δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.—Plato.

At Ephesus, by Cäyster’s flood,

  The son of Blyson sate,

And mused, in darkly thoughtful mood,

  On God, and man, and fate.

And as he looked on the sleepless torrent

  Rolling to the sea,

With a whirling, swirling, eddying current,

  Thus to himself spake he:

      Nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


The tender blade, whose eager seed

  Broke through the teeming plain,

Shall blossom bear, with fated speed

  And end in seed again.

And when Spring’s plastic sunbeam warm

  Shall thaw the wintry snow,

Abroad shall leap the prisoned germ,

  And life from death shall grow.

      For nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


Life from death, and death from life,

  So round and round it goes,

A ceaseless self-provoking strife,

  That ever ebbs and flows.

Within, without, and round about,

  Sans end, and sans beginning;

My brain reels with the mystic rout

  Of things for ever spinning.

      For nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


Like the clouds that scour the sky,

  In the sleepless-shifting weather,

I know not how, I ask not why,

  Our thoughts chase one another.

Foolish fancies fret my brain,

  And thoughts which men call clever—

Waking, sleeping, pleasure, pain,

  The same, but shifting ever.

      For nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


The giant-snouted mountains grey,

  That seem to scorn mutation,

And see, like shadows, fleet away

  Man’s feeble generation;

Their brows, which tyrannous blasts assail,

  Their peaks, which lightnings shiver,

With ceaseless ruin fill the vale,

  And feed the flowing river.

      For nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


All things that be like water flow,—

  The type of life is water;

But Heat makes motion swift or slow;

  Fire is the soul of Water.

When Heat invades the stiffened stream,

  The icy bonds are riven;

When sunbeams pierce the flood, the steam

  Swells in light airs to heaven.

      For nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


Motion, motion, holy Force,

  And Fire, pure fount of motion,

This sleepless-whirling world’s course

  Shall claim my heart’s devotion!

So float each thing of mortal name,

  On tides of joy and sorrow,

Ever the same, and never the same,

  The sport of each to-morrow!

      For nothing to hold itself is strong;

        But all things, like a river,

      Roll along, and swirl along,

        And bubble along for ever.


Ἀναξαγόρας τοῖς ὅλοις πρῶτος οὐ τύχην, οὐδ’ ἀνάγκην διακοσµήσεως ἀρχὴν, αλλὰ νοῦν ἐπέστησε καθαρὸν καὶ ἄκρατον, ἐμμεμιγμένον πᾶσι τοῖς ἄλλοις, ἀποκρίνοντα τὰς ὁμοιομερίας.—Plutarch.

Slow rolls the year that makes the sour grape mellow,

Slow spreads the blade that weaves the matted sod;

Slow o’er the grey rock creeps the lichen yellow,

Slow finds man’s wandering wit its way to God.

Water, quoth Thales, is the first of things;

Nay, quoth Anaximander, to my sight

The primal thing must be the Infinite;

Quoth Anaximenes, ’tis Air that brings

Life to all living; nay, ’tis Fire that goes,

Quoth Blyson’s son, through everything that flows.

Fools! saith, at length, wise Anaxagoras,

Cause never dwelt in aught of sensuous kind;

Sole first and last of all that is, and was,

And yet shall be, in Heaven or Earth, is Mind.


Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.—John iii. 3.

Peregrinatus est hic in nequitiâ, non habitavit.

Valerius Maximus.

’Tis morn. On Parnes, nurse of hardy pines,

    Gleams the new-started day,

And on Ægina’s briny water shines

    The clear far-shimmering ray.


’Neath the old Attic rock white vapours creep;

    And on the dusty road,

O’er the meek army of his bleating sheep

    The shepherd wields his goad.


The city sleeps; save where the market shows

    The first green-furnished stalls,

And from his lair of shelterless repose

    The squalid beggar crawls.


Who bursts into the peaceful street, with sound

    Of brawl, and wrangling fray,

Rushing with blushless stare and staggering bound,

    To greet the modest day?


A band of revellers, with torn chaplets crowned;

    And at their head I know

The rich man’s son, for shameless vice renowned,

    Licentious Polemo.


Onward they reel, as whim may point the way;

    But he, with firmer pace,

Who hath a will strong to assert its sway

    Even in the drunkard’s place.


And whither now? Sometimes God leads a fool

    To knock at wisdom’s door;

And so the reveller rushes to the school

    Where Plato’s holy lore


Is taught by sage severe Xenocrates,

    Who, at that early hour,

Mingled wise disputation with the breeze

    That stirred the learnèd bower.


Amid the listening scholars Polemo

    Sate down; and, from his place,

With impudent stare his strong contempt did show

    In the mild lecturer’s face.


The teacher saw, nor stirred his soul serene,

    That reveller to reprove,

But changed his theme, and, with unaltered mien,

    More apt discourse he wove


Of temperance, purity, high self-control,

    Ideal harmonies fine,

And all that lifts man’s doubtful-swaying soul

    From bestial to divine.


The scoffer heard; but soon, with softened stare

    And flinching look, confessed

How deep the preacher probed his heart; for there

    He felt a strange unrest.


And as the wise man, with the waxing theme,

    More grave and weighty grew,

With swelling doubts he felt his bosom teem.

    His flushed cheek paled its hue.


And from his head he plucked the violets blue;

    And, as the speaker woke

More fretful tempest in his breast, he drew

    His hand beneath his cloak;


And rose; and stood as one that fronts a foe;

    Then, with a sudden turn,

Sank; in a gushing flood the salt tears flow;

    And, with wild thoughts that burn,


He from the audience rushed. But not his soul

    From the new awe that found him

Might rush; but, with a tyrannous strong control,

    Missioned from God, it bound him,


And with his mutinous temper wrestled long,

    Till, like a lamb, he lay;

Then rose, like one with a new nature strong,

    To a new life that day;


And by the chaste and blue-eyed goddess sware

    That, from that sacred hour,

He the philosopher’s sober garb should wear,

    And walk in learned bower:


And, as he sware, so lived, that not a breath

    Might his pure fame besmirch;

And taught by word, and mightier deed, till death:

    A saint in Plato’s church.


Note 1, p. 17.

The blind Smynéan minstrel.

Homer.—Of all the cities which contended for the honour of having given birth to the great epic singer of Greece, Smyrna has the best claims. See Müller’s ‘History of Greek Literature;’ Lauer’s ‘Homerische Poesie;’ or my ‘Homer,’ vol. i., Dissertation III.

Note 2, p. 32.


No character of primeval Greek tradition has been a greater favourite with modern poets than the hero of the well-known play of Æschylus. The common conception of him, however, made fashionable by Shelley and Byron, as the representative of freedom in contest with despotism, is quite modern; and Goethe is nearer the depth of the old myth, when, in his beautiful lyric, he represents the Titan as the impersonation of that indefatigable endurance in man which conquers the earth by skilful labour, in opposition to and in despite of those terrible influences of the wild elemental powers of Nature, which, to the Greek imagination, were concentrated in the person of Jove. On the apparent impiety of the position of Prometheus, as against the Olympian, see my ‘Horæ Hellenicæ.’

Note 3, p. 37.

The Naming of Athens.

The beautiful and significant local myth embodied in this ballad conveys a grand lesson in political economy to all nations who, in the pursuit of wealth by manufactures, commerce, or otherwise, may be tempted to neglect the fundamental interests of landed property, and the rights of the honest food-producing labourers who till the soil. It were well for modern Greece, at the present hour, if it could be brought to understand, and practically to strive after, the realisation of this great principle. A people consisting of mere merchants, without any root in the native soil, can never become a nation. The contest between Pallas and Poseidon was represented on the posterior pediment of the Parthenon.—Pausanias, i. 24, 5. The same struggle between the same adverse deities existed in Troczene, and was wisely compromised.—Pausan., ii. 30, 6. Gerhard remarks that in these contests of local gods with Neptune the sea-god is generally the loser.—‘Mythol.,’ 633; C. O. Muller, ‘Minerva Pol.,’ p. 7. To the English people, as the conservators of the Elgin Marbles, the whole subject possesses a peculiar interest.

Note 4, p. 46.


This famous Corinthian legend has also become, in a manner, the property of the British nation, by the labours of Sir Charles Fellowes, and the existence of a “Xanthian Chamber” in the British Museum. Ephyre is the old name for Corinth. That Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, should appear as the special protector of a homicide, will seem strange to no thinker; for in those wild days of imperfect and partial law, feuds were always arising, and murders everywhere committed, and Furies invoked and feared by persons of the most reputable character. The scenery of the pass of Tretus, as given in p. 48, will be found described in Colonel Mure’s two admirable volumes, entitled ‘A Tour in Greece;’ also in Curtius’ ‘Peloponessus,’ ii. 505. The purification from the guilt of manslaughter by blood of swine (p. 49) is according to the well-known tradition of the ancient poets. On Xanthus, its topography and antiquities, besides the works of Sir Charles Fellowes, the reader may consult the two volumes of travels in Lycia, by the late Professor Edward Forbes and Colonel Spratt.

Note 5, p. 78.


This subject has been as great a favourite with modern poets as the Prometheus. Goethe’s play of this name is, by many, and for very good reasons, accounted his masterpiece. The sacrifice of the Argive princess, besides its general human interest, is a striking testimony to the fact, that even among the most cultivated peoples of the ancient world, human sacrifice prevailed at an early period of their history. There are certain principles in the human heart which, at a certain stage of civilisation, seem to make such a practice a sort of moral necessity. That this practice existed even in the most polished age of Athens in a modified form is certain—vide the dictionaries, in voce φαρμακός. The idea of the substitution of the stag by Diana, in order to save the virgin’s life, and the conveyance of the destined victim of a bloody devotion to the barbarous service of a grim idol in the Crimea, was an afterthought—one of those beautiful lies with which the legendary lore of old Hellas is replete. Æschylus, as is well-known, in his sublime description of the sacrifice, in the opening chorus of the Agamemnon, altogether disregards the posterior fiction. How closely I have followed this great master in the closing stanzas of the ballad, will be obvious to the scholar. To have attempted originality after such a precedent would have been to insure failure.

Note 6, p. 88.

Wail of an Idol.

In this lyric I have endeavoured to represent the very stupid and comfortless doctrine of the Greeks with regard to the state of human souls after death. The Greeks believed in a heaven and a hell, but only for the few: heaven for the very good, and hell for the very bad; but the shades of the millions of common mortals were left floating about in a lethargic, inane sort of Limbo, not at all enviable. On this subject there is an excellent essay by Archbishop Whately, in his discourses on some characteristic points of Christianity. The reader may also consult my essay on the Theology of Homer, Proposition xix. in the ‘Horæ Hellenicæ.’

Note 7, p. 95.


This most beautiful legend of the Dionysiac series embodies a principle more Christian than Hellenic, but which belongs so essentially to the moral nature of man, that it is not possible for any religious mythology altogether to exclude it: the principle that I mean may be called the consecration of sorrow. Christian legends containing this moral, of which the number is very great, always represent suffering as the road to glory, and the cave of despair as the propylæa of the temple of bliss. The Hellenic legend has been a favourite subject with modern painters and sculptors; and the travelled reader will scarcely require to be told that the concluding part of this ballad is only a verbal paraphrase of the well-known statue of Ariadne by Dannecker, exhibited as one of the lions of Frankfort.

Note 8, p. 125.


The name of Theseus in early Attic civil history has the same significance as that of the bishop of Rome in the early history of the Christian Church. It signifies that unification of social aggregates, under a central directing power, which constitutes a state or a church; and such a unity in the common course of things is personal in its rise and monarchical in its character. It conics into birth by the influence of a dominant personality, and continues personal in its form till a more ripe state of society invites the experiment of a form of social organism more or less democratic. The bringing of the bones of Theseus from the island of Scyros to his native city, afforded the Athenians an opportunity of publicly recognising this significant position of their great local hero in the history of their society; and of this recognition the temple of Theseus, the best preserved of all Athenian monuments, presents a visible testimony to the eye of the intelligent traveller at the present day. The reader who may be anxious to verify the allusions in the text, may consult Plutarch’s ‘Lives of Theseus and Cimon,’ and the article “Pyanepsion” in Dr Smith’s ‘Dictionary of Classical Antiquities.’

Note 9, p. 148.

The Feast of Pallas Athena.

The possessors of the Elgin Marbles scarcely require to be reminded that the Athenians celebrated the supremacy of their great national goddess in a great feast recurring at stated intervals, called the “Panathenæa.” The principal materials from which the present ballad was composed will be found in Dr Smith’s Dictionary under that word. And the procession described in the text is the same as that which appears on the well-known frieze of the Elgin Marbles, which are as familiar to every person of cultivated taste as the Madonnas of Raphael or the portraits of Rembrandt.

Note 10, p. 161.


The occupation of watching the vineyards, in which the father of tragedy is here represented as engaged, when the first inspiration came to his soul by the Epiphany of the patron god of the “goat song,” is often alluded to by ancient writers.—See Song of Solomon, i. 6. The works of the poet alluded to in the ballad are the ‘Agamemnon,’ the ‘Choephoræ,’ the ‘Furies,’ the ‘Seven against Thebes,’ and the ‘Prometheus Bound,’ being five out of the seven extant. The allusion to Homer in p. 163 is with reference to a well-known saying of the bard, reported by Athenæus (viii. p. 348), that his numerous tragedies were only “slices from the great banquet of Homeric dainties.”

Note 11, p. 166.

Pentelicus’ pine-clad height.

Pentelicus overhangs the south side of the plain of Marathon, separating it from the great Attic plain. Those who have seen the beautiful Bay of Brodick, in the island of Arran, have seen Marathon on a small scale, except that Goat Fell, which represents Pentelicus, is on the north. On the south, or Athenian side, this famous mountain is sufficiently bare, but towards Marathon it is richly wooded; and the direct road from the village of Vrana to the valley of the Cephissus, over the north-west shoulder of the mountain, is one of the wildest and most picturesque passes in Greece.

Note 12, p. 166.

Pan’s Marathonian cave.

Pan played a somewhat prominent part in the great Persian war (Herodotus, vi. 105). He had a famous cave near Marathon (Pausan., i. 32), which archæologists have idly endeavoured to identify.

Note 13, p. 168.

A tyrant marched before.

Darius was led by Hippias, who was familiar with this approach to Attica, having come this way with his father Pisistratus, when that tyrant established himself in the sovereignty of Attica for the last time.

Note 14, p. 171.

Macaria, nymph of the well.

Hercules was the patron saint, to use modern language, of Marathon; and, where the Athenians conquered, Theseus could not be absent. These two heroes, therefore, were represented in the picture of the battle of Marathon in the painted Stoa (Pausan., i. 15; Plutarch—Theseus, 35). The fountain of Macaria, the daughter of Hercules and Deianeira, is mentioned by Pausanias (i. c. 32) as being on the field of Marathon; and sure enough there is a well on the road from Marathon to Rhamnus, near the north end of the plain, which Mr Finlay is willing to baptise with the name of the old classical nymph.

Note 15, p. 172.

The bubbling marshes moan.

There are two extensive marshes, mostly overgrown with great reeds, one at each end of the field. The Persians, of course, were driven back into the marsh at the north end. This was represented in the painting on the Stoa.

Note 16, p. 173.

The eagle hath fled from the dove.

The idea hero is taken from Atossa’s dream, in ‘The Persians’ of Æschylus, mentioned in the previous ballad.

Note 17, p. 174.

That mound where heroes sleep.

The famous mound in the middle of the battle-field, mentioned by Pausanias, and described by all modern travellers.

Note 18, p. 176.


In this ballad an attempt has been made to unite the descriptions of this great naval combat, given by Herodotus and Æschylus. The tragic writer was a soldier, and present at the battle, which circumstance makes his testimony, as given in ‘The Persians,’ peculiarly valuable. The concluding part of the ballad is a sort of lyrical epitome of that very singular, and in some respects altogether unique, remnant of the lost riches of tragic art in Athens.

Note 19, p. 189.


The striking contrast between rest and motion, permanence and mutability, eternity and time, being and becoming, which the phenomena of the universe present, could not fail to occupy, at a very early period, the subtle minds of the Greek speculators. In Heraclitus the more sensuous of these two aspects, or the external of the two factors, was raised into a watchword of his philosophy, in the maxim πάντα ῥεῖ; a view of things which, when stated absolutely and unqualified by the recognition of the opposite view springing from the principle of λόγος or νοῡς, leads directly to universal scepticism, and shallow sophistry of that kind which became afterwards so rank in Athens, and required all the diligence of such master-workmen as Socrates and Plato to weed it out. Modern Sensationalism, issuing from the loose inductions of Locke, has produced similar results, for which a Scotsman does not require to seek far.

Note 20, p. 194.


Though Socrates, in several places of Plato, expresses his dissatisfaction with the doctrine of νοῦς, as taught by Anaxagoras, the friend of Pericles, there can be no doubt that, in comparison with those who preceded him, the philosopher of Clazomenæ is fully entitled to the proud position given him by Aristotle, and which has been asserted in the present sonnet.

Note 21, p. 195.


The very remarkable history of the conversion of this father of the old Academy, from a licentious to a saintly life, will be found in Valerius Maximus, lib. vi. c. 9, and in Diogenes Laertius. Those who wish to know where the Christian Church was before Christ (as we talk of “Reformers before the Reformation”), must search in the lives of the old Greek philosophers, who were not mere talkers and speculators, but men of character and action, and exhibiting in many cases a self-control and a self-denial, and a plain godly simplicity of life, which might shame not a few British Christians, who contrive in a very questionable sort of way to unite the worship of God with that of Mammon. A Socrates and a Polemo would certainly not have sinned after this fashion.

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[The end of Lays and Legends of Ancient Greece by John Stuart Blackie]