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.

After the slaughter of Medusa, Perseus, bearing with him the head of the Gorgon, flew far and wide, over land and sea.  As night came on, he reached the western limit of the earth, where the sun goes down.  Here he would gladly have rested till morning.  It was the realm of King Atlas, whose bulk surpassed that of all other men.  He was rich in flocks and herds and had no neighbor or rival to dispute his state.  But his chief pride was in his gardens, whose fruit was of gold, hanging from golden branches, half hid with golden leaves.  Perseus said to him, “I come as a guest.  If you honor illustrious descent, I claim Jupiter for my father; if mighty deeds, I plead the conquest of the Gorgon.  I seek rest and food.”  But Atlas remembered that an ancient prophecy had warned him that a son of Jove should one day rob him of his golden apples.  So he answered, “Begone! or neither your false claims of glory nor parentage shall protect you;” and he attempted to thrust him out.  Perseus, finding the giant too strong for him, said, “Since you value my friendship so little, deign to accept a present;” and turning his face away, he held up the Gorgon’s head.  Atlas, with all his bulk, was changed into stone.  His beard and hair became forests, his arms and shoulders cliffs, his head a summit, and his bones rocks.  Each part increased in bulk till he became a mountain, and (such was the pleasure of the gods) heaven with all its stars rests upon his shoulders.

THE SEA-MONSTER

Perseus, continuing his flight, arrived at the country of the Aethiopians, of which Cepheus was king.  Cassiopeia his queen, proud of her beauty, had dared to compare herself to the Sea-Nymphs, which roused their indignation to such a degree that they sent a prodigious sea-monster to ravage the coast.  To appease the deities, Cepheus was directed by the oracle to expose his daughter Andromeda to be devoured by the monster.  As Perseus looked down from his aerial height he beheld the virgin chained to a rock, and waiting the approach of the serpent.  She was so pale and motionless that if it had not been for her flowing tears and her hair that moved in the breeze, he would have taken her for a marble statue.  He was so startled at the sight that he almost forgot to wave his wings.  As he hovered over her he said, “O virgin, undeserving of those chains, but rather of such as bind fond lovers together, tell me, I beseech you, your name, and the name of your country, and why you are thus bound.”  At first she was silent from modesty, and, if she could, would have hid her face with her hands; but when he repeated his questions, for fear she might be thought guilty of some fault which she dared not tell, she disclosed her name and that of her country, and her mother’s pride of beauty.  Before she had done speaking, a sound was heard off upon the water, and the sea-monster appeared, with his head raised above the surface, cleaving the waves with his broad

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.