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.

His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate, were turned into poplar trees, on the banks of the river, and their tears, which continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the stream.

Milman, in his poem of “Samor,” makes the following allusion to Phaeton’s story: 

    “As when the palsied universe aghast
     Lay mute and still,
     When drove, so poets sing, the Sun-born youth
     Devious through Heaven’s affrighted signs his sire’s
     Ill-granted chariot.  Him the Thunderer hurled
     From th’ empyrean headlong to the gulf
     Of the half-parched Eridanus, where weep
     Even now the sister trees their amber tears
     O’er Phaeton untimely dead”

In the beautiful lines of Walter Savage Landor, descriptive of the
Sea-shell, there is an allusion to the Sun’s palace and chariot. 
The water-nymph says: 

    “I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
     Within, and things that lustre have imbibed
     In the sun’s palace porch, where when unyoked
     His chariot wheel stands midway on the wave. 
     Shake one and it awakens; then apply
     Its polished lip to your attentive ear,
     And it remembers its august abodes,
     And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.”

    —­Gebir, Book I.

CHAPTER VI

MIDAS—­BAUCIS AND PHILEMON

Bacchus, on a certain occasion, found his old schoolmaster and foster-father, Silenus, missing.  The old man had been drinking, and in that state wandered away, and was found by some peasants, who carried him to their king, Midas.  Midas recognized him, and treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and nights with an unceasing round of jollity.  On the eleventh day he brought Silenus back, and restored him in safety to his pupil.  Whereupon Bacchus offered Midas his choice of a reward, whatever he might wish.  He asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold.  Bacchus consented, though sorry that he had not made a better choice.  Midas went his way, rejoicing in his new-acquired power, which he hastened to put to the test.  He could scarce believe his eyes when he found a twig of an oak, which he plucked from the branch, become gold in his hand.  He took up a stone; it changed to gold.  He touched a sod; it did the same.  He took an apple from the tree; you would have thought he had robbed the garden of the Hesperides.  His joy knew no bounds, and as soon as he got home, he ordered the servants to set a splendid repast on the table.  Then he found to his dismay that whether he touched bread, it hardened in his hand; or put a morsel to his lips, it defied his teeth.  He took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat like melted gold.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.