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.
that I could die for thee!  But since that may not be, thou shalt live with me in memory and in song.  My lyre shall celebrate thee, my song shall tell thy fate, and thou shalt become a flower inscribed with my regrets.”  While Apollo spoke, behold the blood which had flowed on the ground and stained the herbage ceased to be blood; but a flower of hue more beautiful than the Tyrian sprang up, resembling the lily, if it were not that this is purple and that silvery white. [Footnote:  It is evidently not our modern hyacinth that is here described.  It is perhaps some species of iris, or perhaps of larkspur or of pansy.] And this was not enough for Phoebus; but to confer still greater honor, he marked the petals with his sorrow, and inscribed “Ah! ah!” upon them, as we see to this day.  The flower bears the name of Hyacinthus, and with every returning spring revives the memory of his fate.

It was said that Zephyrus (the West wind), who was also fond of Hyacinthus and jealous of his preference of Apollo, blew the quoit out of its course to make it strike Hyacinthus.  Keats alludes to this in his “Endymion,” where he describes the lookers-on at the game of quoits: 

    “Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent
       On either side, pitying the sad death
       Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath
     Of Zephyr slew him; Zephyr penitent,
     Who now ere Phoebus mounts the firmament,
       Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain.”

An allusion to Hyacinthus will also be recognized in Milton’s “Lycidas”: 

    “Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe.”



Ceyx was king of Thessaly, where he reigned in peace, without violence or wrong.  He was son of Hesperus, the Day-star, and the glow of his beauty reminded one of his father.  Halcyone, the daughter of Aeolus, was his wife, and devotedly attached to him.  Now Ceyx was in deep affliction for the loss of his brother, and direful prodigies following his brother’s death made him feel as if the gods were hostile to him.  He thought best, therefore, to make a voyage to Carlos in Ionia, to consult the oracle of Apollo.  But as soon as he disclosed his intention to his wife Halcyone, a shudder ran through her frame, and her face grew deadly pale.  “What fault of mine, dearest husband, has turned your affection from me?  Where is that love of me that used to be uppermost in your thoughts?  Have you learned to feel easy in the absence of Halcyone?  Would you rather have me away?” She also endeavored to discourage him, by describing the violence of the winds, which she had known familiarly when she lived at home in her father’s house,—­Aeolus being the god of the winds, and having as much as he could do to restrain them.  “They rush together,” said she, “with such fury that fire flashes from the conflict.  But if you must go,” she added, “dear husband, let me go with you, otherwise I shall suffer not only the real evils which you must encounter, but those also which my fears suggest.”

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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