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.

   “Thou fell’st mature; and in the loamy clod,
    Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
    Didst burst thine, as theirs the fabled Twins
    Now stars; twor lobes protruding, paired exact;
    A leaf succeede and another leaf,
    And, all the elements thy puny growth
    Fostering propitious, thou becam’st a twig. 
    Who lived when thou wast such?  Of couldst thou speak,
    As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
    Oracular, I would not curious ask
    The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
    Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.”

Tennyson, in his “Talking Oak,” alludes to the oaks of Dodona in these lines: 

    And I will work in prose and rhyme,
     And praise thee more in both
    Than bard has honored beech or lime,
     Or that Thessalian growth
    In which the swarthy ring-dove sat
     And mystic sentence spoke; etc.

Byron alludes to the oracle of Delphi where, speaking of Rousseau, whose writings he conceives did much to bring on the French revolution, he says: 

    “For the, he was inspired, and from him came,
       As from the Pythian’s mystic cave of yore,
    Those oracles which set the world in flame,
       Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more.”


Origin of mythology—­statues of gods and goddesses—­poets of mythology


Having reached the close of our series of stories of Pagan mythology, and inquiry suggests itself.  “Whence came these stories?  Have they a foundation in truth or are they simply dreams of the imagination?” Philosophers have suggested various theories on the subject; and 1.  The Scriptural theory; according to which all mythological legends are derived from the narratives of Scripture, though the real facts have been disguised and altered.  Thus Deucalion is only another name for Noah, Hercules for Samson, Arion for Jonah, etc.  Sir Walter Raleigh, in his “History of the World,” says, “Jubal, Tubal, and Tubal-Cain were Mercury, Vulcan, and Apollo, inventors of Pasturage, Smithing, and Music.  The Dragon which kept the golden apples was the serpent that beguiled Eve.  Nimrod’s tower was the attempt of the Giants against Heaven.”  There are doubtless many curious coincidences like these, but the theory cannot without extravagance be pushed so far as to account for any great proportion of the stories.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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