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.

ARION

Arion was a famous musician, and dwelt in the court of Periander, king of Corinth, with whom he was a great favorite.  There was to be a musical contest in Sicily, and Arion longed to compete for the prize.  He told his wish to Periander, who besought him like a brother to give up the thought.  “Pray stay with me,” he said, “and be contented.  He who strives to win may lose.”  Arion answered, “A wandering life best suits the free heart of a poet.  The talent which a god bestowed on me, I would fain make a source of pleasure to others.  And if I win the prize, how will the enjoyment of it be increased by the consciousness of my widespread fame!” He went, won the prize, and embarked with his wealth in a Corinthian ship for home.  On the second morning after setting sail, the wind breathed mild and fair.  “O Periander,” he exclaimed, “dismiss your fears!  Soon shall you forget them in my embrace.  With what lavish offerings will we display our gratitude to the gods, and how merry will we be at the festal board!” The wind and sea continued propitious.  Not a cloud dimmed the firmament.  He had not trusted too much to the ocean—­but he had to man.  He overheard the seamen exchanging hints with one another, and found they were plotting to possess themselves of his treasure.  Presently they surrounded him loud and mutinous, and said, “Arion, you must die!  If you would have a grave on shore, yield yourself to die on this spot; but if otherwise, cast yourself into the sea.”  “Will nothing satisfy you but my life?” said he.  “Take my gold, and welcome.  I willingly buy my life at that price.”  “No, no; we cannot spare you.  Your life would be too dangerous to us.  Where could we go to escape from Periander, if he should know that you had been robbed by us?  Your gold would be of little use to us, if on returning home, we could never more be free from fear.”  “Grant me, then,” said he, “a last request, since nought will avail to save my life, that I may die, as I have lived, as becomes a bard.  When I shall have sung my death song, and my harp-strings shall have ceased to vibrate, then I will bid farewell to life, and yield uncomplaining to my fate.”  This prayer, like the others, would have been unheeded,—­they thought only of their booty,—­but to hear so famous a musician, that moved their rude hearts.  “Suffer me,” he added, “to arrange my dress.  Apollo will not favor me unless I be clad in my minstrel garb.”

He clothed his well-proportioned limbs in gold and purple fair to see, his tunic fell around him in graceful folds, jewels adorned his arms, his brow was crowned with a golden wreath, and over his neck and shoulders flowed his hair perfumed with odors.  His left hand held the lyre, his right the ivory wand with which he struck its chords.  Like one inspired, he seemed to drink the morning air and glitter in the morning ray.  The seamen gazed with admiration.  He strode forward to the vessel’s side and looked

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.