“The gods have come down from Olympus! The gods greet the earth! They greet beauty! They greet youth! They greet wisdom and the arts! The gods greet the earth! Long live the gods! Live Venus, the mother of love! Long live Minerva, the unapproachable virgin, full of wisdom! Long live Zeus, the god of gods, men transformed into gods, and gods into men! Olympus live on earth!”
So sang they and rejoiced in triumphant chorus, and high above from the clouds pealed forth music, and from thicket and shrubbery sounded sweet songs, dying away in gentle whispers. Then all was still, for the gods, who had traversed the halls in dazzling procession, had now taken their places at the long rose-crowned tables. An Olympic festival was being solemnized that evening in the Media Nocte. Earth was forsaken now, and the children of earth found themselves again on Olympus, changed to gods. Those were not the drawing rooms in which they had been wont to assemble, commingling in cheerful pastimes, in hilarious merriment, these people clad in light Greek robes. No, this was cloud-capped Olympus, this was heaven upon earth; rose-colored, luminous clouds encircled the space, and behind them the galleries which ran round the hall had vanished. Instead of the ceiling usually bounding this vast room, they now looked up to the deep blue sky, and star after star twinkled there, and filled the apartment with soft mild light. And not in a hall furnished with chairs and divans did they find themselves this evening, but in a monstrous grotto in the heart of Olympus—a grotto of sparkling, glittering mountain crystal, bright and transparent as silver gauze, and behind this a magical moving to and fro of beauteous human shapes, of genii and Cupids. Only the long table in the middle of the grotto reminded of earth, or maybe the home of heathen gods.
For, like the children of earth, the gods on Olympus used to carouse and drink, and, like the children of men, did they enjoy fullness of food and luscious wine. Golden goblets, wreathed with roses, stood before the silver plates loaded with fruits and tempting viands. In crystal flasks sparkled the golden wine, in silver vases the gay-colored flowers exhaled their sweets. Luxurious cushions, soft as swan’s down, spangled and silvery as were the clouds which stooped from heaven, lined both sides of the long table, and on them the gods and goddesses had just sank in blissful silence, gazing on the glorious place, and rejoicing that men are gods and gods are men! There, on high, sits Zeus on golden throne, and Ganymede, the beautiful boy, stands near and hands him on golden dishes the fragrant ambrosia, and Hebe, the lovely, childlike maid, hovers about, and presents in crystal cups the gleaming purple wine, glistening like gold. Juno, the radiant queen of heaven, sits beside Zeus; and as if woven of silvery clouds and stars seems the garment that lightly and loosely envelops but does not hide the wondrous shape. A light cloud of silver gauze covers her countenance, as that of all the other goddesses.