The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 980 pages of information about The Age of Fable.
feel grieved at his attaining this honor, yet no one can deny that he has deserved it.”  The gods all gave their assent; Juno only heard the closing words with some displeasure that she should be so particularly pointed at, yet not enough to make her regret the determination of her husband.  So when the flames had consumed the mother’s share of Hercules, the diviner part, instead of being injured thereby, seemed to start forth with new vigor, to assume a more lofty port and a more awful dignity.  Jupiter enveloped him in a cloud, and took him up in a four-horse chariot to dwell among the stars.  As he took his place in heaven, Atlas felt the added weight.

Juno, now reconciled to him, gave him her daughter Hebe in marriage.

The poet Schiller, in one of his pieces called the “Ideal and Life,” illustrates the contrast between the practical and the imaginative in some beautiful stanzas, of which the last two may be thus translated: 

   “Deep degraded to a coward’s slave,
    Endless contests bore Alcides brave,
    Through the thorny path of suffering led;
    Slew the Hydra, crushed the lion’s might,
    Threw himself, to bring his friend to light,
    Living, in the skiff that bears the dead. 
    All the torments, every toil of earth
    Juno’s hatred on him could impose,
    Well he bore them, from his fated birth
    To life’s grandly mournful close.

   “Till the god, the earthly part forsaken,
    From the man in flames asunder taken,
    Drank the heavenly ether’s purer breath. 
    Joyous in the new unwonted lightness,
    Soared he upwards to celestial brightness,
    Earth’s dark heavy burden lost in death. 
    High Olympus gives harmonious greeting
    To the hall where reigns his sire adored;
    Youth’s bright goddess, with a blush at meeting,
    Gives the nectar to her lord.”

    —­S.  G. B.

HEBE AND GANYMEDE

Hebe, the daughter of Juno, and goddess of youth, was cup-bearer to the gods.  The usual story is that she resigned her office on becoming the wife of Hercules.  But there is another statement which our countryman Crawford, the sculptor, has adopted in his group of Hebe and Ganymede, now in the Athenaeum gallery.  According to this, Hebe was dismissed from her office in consequence of a fall which she met with one day when in attendance on the gods.  Her successor was Ganymede, a Trojan boy, whom Jupiter, in the disguise of an eagle, seized and carried off from the midst of his playfellows on Mount Ida, bore up to heaven, and installed in the vacant place.

Tennyson, in his “Palace of Art,” describes among the decorations on the walls a picture representing this legend: 

   “There, too, flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh
      Half buried in the eagle’s down,
    Sole as a flying star shot through the sky
      Above the pillared town.”

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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