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.

Byron, in his “Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte,” alludes to the story of Milo: 

   “He who of old would rend the oak
      Deemed not of the rebound;
    Chained by the trunk he vainly broke,
      Alone, how looked he round!”


The Egyptians acknowledged as the highest deity Amun, afterwards called Zeus, or Jupiter Ammon.  Amun manifested himself in his word or will, which created Kneph and Athor, of different sexes.  From Kneph and Athor proceeded Osiris and Isis.  Osiris was worshipped as the god of the sun, the source of warmth, life, and fruitfulness, in addition to which he was also regarded as the god of the Nile, who annually visited his wife, Isis (the Earth), by means of an inundation.  Serapis or Hermes is sometimes represented as identical with Osiris, and sometimes as a distinct divinity, the ruler of Tartarus and god of medicine.  Anubis is the guardian god, represented with a dog’s head, emblematic of his character of fidelity and watchfulness.  Horus or Harpocrates was the son of Osiris.  He is represented seated on a Lotus flower, with his finger on his lips, as the god of Silence.

In one of Moore’s “Irish Melodies” is an allusion to Harpocrates: 

   “Thyself shall, under some rosy bower,
      Sit mute, with thy finger on thy lip;
    Like him, the boy, who born among
      The flowers that on the Nile-stream blush,
    Sits ever thus,—­his only song
      To Earth and Heaven, ‘Hush all, hush!’”


Osiris and Isis were at one time induced to descend to the earth to bestow gifts and blessings on its inhabitants.  Isis showed them first the use of wheat and barley, and Osiris made the instruments of agriculture and taught men the use of them, as well as how to harness the ox to the plough.  He then gave men laws, the institution of marriage, a civil organization, and taught them how to worship the gods.  After he had thus made the valley of the Nile a happy country, he assembled a host with which he went to bestow his blessings upon the rest of the world.  He conquered the nations everywhere, but not with weapons, only with music and eloquence.  His brother Typhon saw this, and filled with envy and malice sought during his absence to usurp his throne.  But Isis, who held the reins of government, frustrated his plans.  Still more embittered, he now resolved to kill his brother.  This he did in the following manner:  Having organized a conspiracy of seventy-two members, he went with them to the feast which was celebrated in honor of the king’s return.  He then caused a box or chest to be brought in, which had been made to fit exactly the size of Osiris, and declared that he wouldd would give that chest of precious wood to whosoever could get into it.  The rest tried in vain, but no sooner was Osiris in it than Typhon

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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