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.

The famous statue of Apollo called the Belvedere represents the god after this victory over the serpent Python.  To this Byron alludes in his “Childe Harold,” iv., 161: 

“...  The lord of the unerring bow, The god of life, and poetry, and light, The Sun, in human limbs arrayed, and brow All radiant from his triumph in the fight The shaft has just been shot; the arrow bright With an immortal’s vengeance; in his eye And nostril, beautiful disdain, and might And majesty flash their full lightnings by, Developing in that one glance the Deity.”

APOLLO AND DAPHNE

Daphne was Apollo’s first love.  It was not brought about by accident, but by the malice of Cupid.  Apollo saw the boy playing with his bow and arrows; and being himself elated with his recent victory over Python, he said to him, “What have you to do with warlike weapons, saucy boy?  Leave them for hands worthy of them.  Behold the conquest I have won by means of them over the vast serpent who stretched his poisonous body over acres of the plain!  Be content with your torch, child, and kindle up your flames, as you call them, where you will, but presume not to meddle with my weapons.”  Venus’s boy heard these words, and rejoined, “Your arrows may strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike you.”  So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, one to excite love, the other to repel it.  The former was of gold and sharp pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead.  With the leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river god Peneus, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart.  Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, and she abhorred the thought of loving.  Her delight was in woodland sports and in the spoils of the chase.  Many lovers sought her, but she spurned them all, ranging the woods, and taking no thought of Cupid nor of Hymen.  Her father often said to her, “Daughter, you owe me a son-in-law; you owe me grandchildren.”  She, hating the thought of marriage as a crime, with her beautiful face tinged all over with blushes, threw arms around her father’s neck, and said, “Dearest father, grant me this favor, that I may always remain unmarried, like Diana.”  He consented, but at the same time said, “Your own face will forbid it.”

Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her; and he who gives oracles to all the world was not wise enough to look into his own fortunes.  He saw her hair flung loose over her shoulders, and said, “If so charming in disorder, what would it be if arranged?” He saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and was not satisfied with only seeing them.  He admired her hands and arms, naked to the shoulder, and whatever was hidden from view he imagined more beautiful still.  He followed her; she fled, swifter than the wind, and delayed not a moment at his entreaties.  “Stay,”

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.