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.
has right on his side.  I think we shall be conquered; and if that must be the end of it, why should not love unbar the gates to him, instead of leaving it to be done by war?  Better spare delay and slaughter if we can.  And O if any one should wound or kill Minos!  No one surely would have the heart to do it; yet ignorantly, not knowing him, one might.  I will, I will surrender myself to him, with my country as a dowry, and so put an end to the war.  But how?  The gates are guarded, and my father keeps the keys; he only stands in my way.  O that it might please the gods to take him away!  But why ask the gods to do it?  Another woman, loving as I do, would remove with her own hands whatever stood in the way of her love.  And can any other woman dare more than I?  I would encounter fire and sword to gain my object; but here there is no need of fire and sword.  I only need my father’s purple lock.  More precious than gold to me, that will give me all I wish.”

While she thus reasoned night came on, and soon the whole palace was buried in sleep.  She entered her father’s bedchamber and cut off the fatal lock; then passed out of the city and entered the enemy’s camp.  She demanded to be led to the king, and thus addressed him:  “I am Scylla, the daughter of Nisus.  I surrender to you my country and my father’s house.  I ask no reward but yourself; for love of you I have done it.  See here the purple lock!  With this I give you my father and his kingdom.”  She held out her hand with the fatal spoil.  Minos shrunk back and refused to touch it.  “The gods destroy thee, infamous woman,” he exclaimed; “disgrace of our time!  May neither earth nor sea yield thee a resting-place!  Surely, my Crete, where Jove himself was cradled, shall not be polluted with such a monster!” Thus he said, and gave orders that equitable terms should be allowed to the conquered city, and that the fleet should immediately sail from the island.

Scylla was frantic.  “Ungrateful man,” she exclaimed, “is it thus you leave me?—­me who have given you victory,—­who have sacrificed for you parent and country!  I am guilty, I confess, and deserve to die, but not by your hand.”  As the ships left the shore, she leaped into the water, and seizing the rudder of the one which carried Minos, she was borne along an unwelcome companion of their course.  A sea-eagle ing aloft,—­it was her father who had been changed into that form,—­seeing her, pounced down upon her, and struck her with his beak and claws.  In terror she let go the ship and would have fallen into the water, but some pitying deity changed her into a bird.  The sea-eagle still cherishes the old animosity; and whenever he espies her in his lofty flight you may see him dart down upon her, with beak and claws, to take vengeance for the ancient crime.


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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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