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.

    “O latest born and loveliest vision far
       Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy! 
     Fairer than Phoebe’s sapphire-regioned star
       Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
     Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
       Nor altar heaped with flowers;
     Nor virgin choir to make delicious moan
       Upon the midnight hours;
     No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet,
       From chain-swung censor teeming;
     No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
       Of pale-mouthed prophet dreaming.”

In Moore’s “Summer Fete” a fancy ball is described, in which one of the characters personated is Psyche—­

    “... not in dark disguise to-night
     Hath our young heroine veiled her light;—­
     For see, she walks the earth, Love’s own. 
       His wedded bride, by holiest vow
     Pledged in Olympus, and made known
       To mortals by the type which now
       Hangs glittering on her snowy brow. 
     That butterfly, mysterious trinket,
     Which means the soul, (though few would think it,)
     And sparkling thus on brow so white
     Tells us we’ve Psyche here to-night.”

CHAPTER XII

CADMUS—­THE MYRMIDONS

Jupiter, under the disguise of a bull, had carried away Europa, the daughter of Agenor, king of Phoenicia.  Agenor commanded his son Cadmus to go in search of his sister, and not to return without her.  Cadmus went and sought long and far for his sister, but could not find her, and not daring to return unsuccessful, consulted the oracle of Apollo to know what country he should settle in.  The oracle informed him that he should find a cow in the field, and should follow her wherever she might wander, and where she stopped, should build a city and call it Thebes.  Cadmus had hardly left the Castalian cave, from which the oracle was delivered, when he saw a young cow slowly walking before him.  He followed her close, offering at the same time his prayers to Phoebus.  The cow went on till she passed the shallow channel of Cephisus and came out into the plain of Panope.  There she stood still, and raising her broad forehead to the sky, filled the air with her lowings.  Cadmus gave thanks, and stooping down kissed the foreign soil, then lifting his eyes, greeted the surrounding mountains.  Wishing to offer a sacrifice to Jupiter, he sent his servants to seek pure water for a libation.  Near by there stood an ancient grove which had never been profaned by the axe, in the midst of which was a cave, thick covered with the growth of bushes, its roof forming a low arch, from beneath which burst forth a fountain of purest water.  In the cave lurked a horrid serpent with a crested head and scales glittering like gold.  His eyes shone like fire, his body was swollen with venom, he vibrated a triple tongue, and showed a triple row of teeth.  No sooner

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.