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.

Now there was nothing left of Dryope but her face.  Her tears still flowed and fell on her leaves, and while she could she spoke.  “I am not guilty.  I deserve not this fate.  I have injured no one.  If I speak falsely, may my foliage perish with drought and my trunk be cut down and burned.  Take this infant and give it to a nurse.  Let it often be brought and nursed under my branches, and play in my shade; and when he is old enough to talk, let him be taught to call me mother, and to say with sadness, ’My mother lies hid under this bark.’  But bid him be careful of river banks, and beware how he plucks flowers, remembering that every bush he sees may be a goddess in disguise.  Farewell, dear husband, and sister, and father.  If you retain any love for me, let not the axe wound me, nor the flocks bite and tear my branches.  Since I cannot stoop to you, climb up hither and kiss me; and while my lips continue to feel, lift up my child that I may kiss him.  I can speak no more, for already the bark advances up my neck, and will soon shoot over me.  You need not close my eyes, the bark will close them without your aid.”  Then the lips ceased to move, and life was extinct; but the branches retained for some time longer the vital heat.

Keats, in “Endymion,” alludes to Dryope thus: 

    “She took a lute from which there pulsing came
     A lively prelude, fashioning the way
     In which her voice should wander.  ’T was a lay
     More subtle-cadenced, more forest-wild
     Than Dryope’s lone lulling of her child;” etc.


Venus, playing one day with her boy Cupid, wounded her bosom with one of his arrows.  She pushed him away, but the wound was deeper than she thought.  Before it healed she beheld Adonis, and was captivated with him.  She no longer took any interest in her favorite resorts—­Paphos, and Cnidos, and Amathos, rich in metals.  She absented herself even from heaven, for Adonis was dearer to her than heaven.  Him she followed and bore him company.  She who used to love to recline in the shade, with no care but to cultivate her charms, now rambles through the woods and over the hills, dressed like the huntress Diana; and calls her dogs, and chases hares and stags, or other game that it is safe to hunt, but keeps clear of the wolves and bears, reeking with the slaughter of the herd.  She charged Adonis, too, to beware of such dangerous animals.  “Be brave towards the timid,” said she; “courage against the courageous is not safe.  Beware how you expose yourself to danger and put my happiness to risk.  Attack not the beasts that Nature has armed with weapons.  I do not value your glory so high as to consent to purchase it by such exposure.  Your youth, and the beauty that charms Venus, will not touch the hearts of lions and bristly boars.  Think of their terrible claws and prodigious strength!  I hate the whole race of them.  Do you ask me why?” Then she told him the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes, who were changed into lions for their ingratitude to her.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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