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.

“‘Let us see this sad procession,’ said she, and mounted to a turret, whence through an open window she looked upon the funeral.  Scarce had her eyes rested upon the form of Iphis stretched on the bier, when they began to stiffen, and the warm blood in her body to become cold.  Endeavoring to step back, she found she could not move her feet; trying to turn away her face, she tried in vain; and by degrees all her limbs became stony like her heart.  That you may not doubt the fact, the statue still remains, and stands in the temple of Venus at Salamis, in the exact form of the lady.  Now think of these things, my dear, and lay aside your scorn and your delays, and accept a lover.  So may neither the vernal frosts blight your young fruits, nor furious winds scatter your blossoms!”

When Vertumnus had spoken thus, he dropped the disguise of an old woman, and stood before her in his proper person, as a comely youth.  It appeared to her like the sun bursting through a cloud.  He would have renewed his entreaties, but there was no need; his arguments and the sight of his true form prevailed, and the Nymph no longer resisted, but owned a mutual flame.

Pomona was the especial patroness of the Apple-orchard, and as such she was invoked by Phillips, the author of a poem on Cider, in blank verse.  Thomson in the “Seasons” alludes to him: 

    “Phillips, Pomona’s bard, the second thou
     Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfettered verse,
     With British freedom, sing the British song.”

But Pomona was also regarded as presiding over other fruits, and as such is invoked by Thomson: 

    “Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves,
     To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
     With the deep orange, glowing through the green,
     Their lighter glories blend.  Lay me reclined
     Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes,
     Fanned by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit.”



A certain king and queen had three daughters.  The charms of the two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest was so wonderful that the poverty of language is unable to express its due praise.  The fame of her beauty was so great that strangers from neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy the sight, and looked on her with amazement, paying her that homage which is due only to Venus herself.  In fact Venus found her altars deserted, while men turned their devotion to this young virgin.  As she passed along, the people sang her praises, and strewed her way with chaplets and flowers.

This perversion of homage due only to the immortal powers to the exaltation of a mortal gave great offence to the real Venus.  Shaking her ambrosial locks with indignation, she exclaimed, “Am I then to be eclipsed in my honors by a mortal girl?  In vain then did that royal shepherd, whose judgment was approved by Jove himself, give me the palm of beauty over my illustrious rivals, Pallas and Juno.  But she shall not so quietly usurp my honors.  I will give her cause to repent of so unlawful a beauty.”

Project Gutenberg
The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook