The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,207 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

   “Down fell the red skin of the lion
    Into the river at his feet. 
    His mighty club no longer beat
    The forehead of the bull; but he
    Reeled as of yore beside the sea,
    When blinded by Oenopion
      He sought the blacksmith at his forge,
      And climbing up the narrow gorge,
    Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun.”

Tennyson has a different theory of the Pleiads: 

   “Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising through the mellow
    Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.”

    —­Locksley Hall.

Byron alludes to the lost Pleiad: 

“Like the lost Pleiad seen no more below.”

See also Mrs. Hemans’s verses on the same subject.


The goddess of the Dawn, like her sister the Moon, was at times inspired with the love of mortals.  Her greatest favorite was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy.  She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but, forgetting to have youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old.  When his hair was quite white she left his society; but he still had the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was clad in celestial raiment.  At length he lost the power of using his limbs, and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice might at times be heard.  Finally she turned him into a grasshopper.

Memnon was the son of Aurora and Tithonus.  He was king of the Aethiopians, and dwelt in the extreme east, on the shore of Ocean.  He came with his warriors to assist the kindred of his father in the war of Troy.  King Priam received him with great honors, and listened with admiration to his narrative of the wonders of the ocean shore.

The very day after his arrival, Memnon, impatient of repose, led his troops to the field.  Antilochus, the brave son of Nestor, fell by his hand, and the Greeks were put to flight, when Achilles appeared and restored the battle.  A long and doubtful contest ensued between him and the son of Aurora; at length victory declared for Achilles, Memnon fell, and the Trojans fled in dismay.

Aurora, who from her station in the sky had viewed with apprehension the danger of her son, when she saw him fall, directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to the banks of the river Esepus in Paphlagonia.  In the evening Aurora came, accompanied by the Hours and the Pleiads, and wept and lamented over her son.  Night, in sympathy with her grief, spread the heaven with clouds; all nature mourned for the offspring of the Dawn.  The Aethiopians raised his tomb on the banks of the stream in the grove of the Nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders of his funeral pile to be turned into birds, which, dividing into two flocks, fought over the pile till they fell into the flame.  Every year at the anniversary of his death they return and celebrate his obsequies in like manner.  Aurora remains inconsolable for the loss of her son.  Her tears still flow, and may be seen at early morning in the form of dew-drops on the grass.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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