GREEK FAIRY TALES
FOR MY CHILDREN.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS PRINTED IN ColOURS
MACMILLAN AND CO.
[Th Right of Translaion and Rleproducir ils nw ]
ROSE, MAURICE, AND MARY.
A LITTLE PRESENT
OF OLD GREEK FAIRY TALES.
MY DEAR CHILDREN,
SOME of you have heard already of
the old Greeks; and all of you, as you grow
up, will hear more and more of them. Those
of you who are boys will, perhaps, spend a
great deal of time in reading Greek books; and
the girls, though they may not learn Greek, will
be sure to come across a great many stories
taken from Greek history, and to see, I may
say every day, things which we should not have
had if it had not been for these old Greeks.
You can hardly find a well-written book which
has not in it Greek names, and words, and
proverbs; you cannot walk through a great
town without passing Greek buildings; you
cannot go into a well-furnished room without
seeing Greek statues and ornaments, even Greek
patterns of furniture and paper; so strangely
have these old Greeks left their mark behind
them upon this modern world in which we now
live. And as you grow up. and read more and
more, you will find that we owe to these old
Greeks the beginnings of all our mathematics
and geometry-that is, the science and know-
ledge of numbers, and of the shapes of things,
and of the forces which make things move and
stand at rest; and the beginnings of our geo-
graphy and astronomy; and of our laws, and
freedom, and politics-that is, the science of
how to rule a country, and make it peaceful and
strong. And we owe to them, too, the begin-
ning of our logic-that is, the study of words
and of reasoning; and of our metaphysics-
that is, the study of our own thoughts and
souls. And last of all, they made their language
so beautiful, that foreigners used to take to it
instead of their own; and at last Greek became
the common language of educated people all over
the old world, from Persia and Egypt even to
Spain and Britain. And therefore it was that
Sthe New Testament was written in Greek, that
it might be read and understood by all the
nations of the Roman empire; so that, next to
the Jews, and the Bible which the Jews handed
down to us, we owe more to these old Greeks
than to any people upon earth.
Now you must remember one thing, that
"Greeks" was not their real name. They
called themselves always Hellens," but the
Romans miscalled them Greeks; and we have
taken that wrong name from the Romans--it
would take a long time to tell you why. They
were made up of many tribes and many small
separate states; and when you hear in this book
of Minuai, and Athenians, and other such names,
you must remember that they were all different
tribes and peoples of the one great Hellen race,
who lived in what we now call Greece, in the
islands of the Archipelago, and along the coast
of Asia Minor (lonia as they call it), from
the Hellespont to Rhodes, and had afterwards
colonies and cities in Sicily, and South Italy
(which was called Great Greece), and along the
shores of the Black Sea, at Sinope, and Kertch,
and at Sevastopol. And after that, again, they
spread under Alexander the Great, and con-
quered Egypt, and Syria, and Persia, and the
whole East. But that was many hundred years
after my stories; for then there were no Greeks
on the Black Sea shores, nor in Sicily, or Italy,
or anywhere but in Greece and in Ionia. And
if you are puzzled by the names of places in this
book, you must take the maps and find them
out. It will be a pleasanter way of learning
geography than out of a dull lesson-book.
Now, I love these old Hellens heartily; and
I should be very ungrateful to them if I did
not, considering all that they have taught me;
and they seem to me like brothers, though they
have all been dead and gone many hundred
years ago. So as you must learn about them,
whether you choose or not, I wish to be the first
to introduce you to them, and to say, "Come
hither, children, at this blessed Christmas time,
when all God's creatures should rejoice together,
and bless Him who redeemed them all. Come
and see old friends of mine, whom I knew long
ere you were born. They are come to visit us
at Christmas, out of the world where all live to
God; and to tell you some of their old fairy-
Stales, which they loved when they were young
For nations begin at first by being children
like you, though they are made up of grown
men. They are children at first like you-men
and women with children's hearts; frank, and
affectionate, and full of trust, and teachable, and
loving to see and learn all the wonders round
them; and greedy also, too often, and passionate
and silly, as children are.
Thus these old Greeks were teachable, and
learnt from all the nations round. From the
Phcenicians they learnt ship-building, and some
say letters beside; and from the Assyrians they
learnt painting, and carving, and building in
wood and stone; amid from the Egyptians they
learnt astronomy, and many things which you
would not understand. In this they were like
our own forefathers, the Northmen, of whom you
love to hear, who, though they were wild and
rough themselves, were humble, and glad to
learn from every one. Therefore God rewarded
these Greeks, as He rewarded our forefathers,
and made them wiser than the people who
taught them, in everything they learnt; for He
loves to see men and children open-hearted, and
willing to be taught; and to him who uses what
he has got, He gives more and more day by
day. So these Greeks grew wise and powerful,
and wrote poems which will live till the world's
end, which you must read for yourselves some
day, in English at least, if not in Greek. And
they learnt to carve statues, and build temples,
which are still among the wonders of the world;
and many another wondrous thing God taught
them, for which we are the wiser this day.
For you must not fancy, children, that because
these old Greeks were heathens, therefore God
did not care for them, and taught them nothing.
The Bible tells us that it was not so, but that
God's mercy is over all his works, and that He
understands the hearts of all people, and fashions
all their works. And St. Paul told these old
Greeks in aftertimes, when they had grown
wicked and fallen low, that they ought to have
known better, because they were God's offspring,
as their own poets had said; and that the good
God had put them where they were, to seek the
Lord, and feel after Him, and find him, though
He was not far from any one of them. And
Clement of Alexandria, a great Father of the
Church, who was as wise as he was good, said
that God had sent down Philosophy to the
Greeks from heaven, as He sent down the
Gospel to the Jews.
For Jesus Christ, remember, is the Light who
lights every man who comes into the world.
And no one can think a right thought, or feel a
right feeling, or understand the real truth of
anything in earth and heaven, unless the good
Lord Jesus teaches him by his Spirit which
gives man understanding.
But these Greeks, as St. Paul told them,
forgot what God had taught them, and though
they were God's offspring, worshipped idols of
wood and stone, and fell at last into sin and
shame, and then, of course, into cowardice and
slavery, till they perished out of that beautiful
land which God had given them for so many
For, like all nations who have left anything
behind them, beside mere mounds of earth,
they believed at first in the One True God who
made all heaven and earth. But after a while,
like all other nations, they began to worship
other gods, or rather angels and spirits, who (so
they fancied) lived about their land. Zeus the
Father of gods and men (who was some dim
remembrance of the blessed true God), and Hera
his wife, and Phoebus Apollo the Sun-god, and
Pallas Athene who taught men wisdom and
useful arts, and Aphrodite the Queen of Beauty,
and Poseidon the Ruler of the Sea, and Hepha-
istos the King of the Fire, who taught men to
work in metals. And they honoured the Gods
of the Rivers, and the Nymph-maids, who they
fancied lived in the caves, and the mountains, and
the glens of the forest, and all beautiful wild
places. And they honoured the Erinnyes, the
dreadful sisters, who, they thought, haunted
guilty men until their sins were purged away.
And many other dreams they had, which parted
the One God into many; and they said, too, that
these gods did things which would be a shame
and sin for any man to do. And when their
philosophers arose, and told them that God
was One, they would not listen, but loved their
idols, and their wicked idol feasts, till they all
came to ruin. But we will talk of such sad
things no more.
But, at the time of which this little book
speaks, they had not fallen as low as that. They
worshipped no idols, as far as I can find; and
they still believed in the last six of the ten
commandments, and knew well what was right
and what was wrong. And they believed (and
that was what gave them courage) that the gods
loved men, and taught them, and that without
the gods men were sure to come to ruin. And
in that they were right enough, as we know-
more right even than they thought; for without
God we can do nothing, and all wisdom comes
Now, you must not think of them in this
hook as learned men, living in great cities, such
as they were afterwards, when they wrought all
their beautiful works, but as country people,
living in farms and walled villages, in a simple,
hard-working way; so that the greatest kings and
heroes cooked their own meals, and thought it
no shame, and made their own ships and weapons,
and fed and harnessed their own horses; and
the queens worked with their maid-servants, and
did all the business of the house, and spun, and
wove, and embroidered, and made their hus-
bands' clothes and their own. So that a man
was honoured among them, not because he
happened to be rich, but according to his skill,
and his strength, and courage, and the number
of things which he could do. For they were
but grown-up children, though they were right
noble children too; and it was with them as
it is now at school, the strongest and cleverest
boy, though he be poor, leads all the rest.
Now, while they were young and simple they
loved fairy tales, as you do now. All nations
do so when they are young: our old forefathers
did, and called their stories "Sagas." I will
read you some of them some day-some of the
Eddas, and the Volusph, and Beowulf, and the
noble old Romances. The old Arabs, again,
had their tales, which we now call "The Arabian
Nights." The old Romans had theirs, and they
called them Fabula," from which our word
"fable" comes; but the old Hellens called
theirs Muthoi," from which our new word
"myth" is taken. But next to those old
Romances, which were written in the Christian
middle age, there are no fairy tales like these
old Greek ones, for beauty, and wisdom, and
truth, and for making children love noble deeds,
and trust in God to help them through.
Now, why have I called this book "The
Heroes ?" Because that was the name which
the Ilellens gave to men who were brave and
skilful, and dare do more than other men.
At first, I think, that was all it meant: but
after a time it came to mean something more;
it came to mean men who helped their country;
men in those old times, when the country was
half-wild, who killed fierce beasts and evil men,
and drained swamps, and founded towns, and
therefore after they were dead, were honoured,
because they had left their country better than
they found it. And we call such a man a hero
in English to this day, and call it a "heroic"
thing to suffer pain and grief, that we may
do good to our fellow-men. We may all do
that, my children, boys and girls alike; and
we ought to do it, for it is easier now than
ever, and safer, and the path more clear. But
you shall hear how the Hellens said their heroes
worked, three thousand years ago. The stories
are not all true, of course, nor half of them;
you are not simple enough to fancy that; but
the meaning of them is true, and true for
ever, and that is-" Do right, and God will
[I owE an apology to the few scholars who may happen
to read this hasty jm deprit, for the inconsistent method
in which I have spelt Greek names. Tho rule which I
have tried to follow has been this: When the word has
been hopelessly Latinized, as "Phobus" has been, I have
left it as it usually stands : but in other cases I have tried
to keep the plain Greek spelling, except when it would
have seemed pedantic, or when, as in the word Tiphus,"
I should have given an altogether wrong notion of the
sound of the word. It has been a choice of difficulties,
which has been forced on me by our strain habit of
introducing boys to the Greek myths, not in their original
shape, but in a Roman disguise.]
PART I.-HOW PEasEus oAD HS MoTn E Cb To
SE OS . . .
II.-How PERSOEs VOWED A AH Vow . 9
IIL-How PsEOus sLa THE GOBO . 2
IV.-How PESEooS -Ea To To E TITHIOP 41
V.-How PE-SEOS CAME HOun AaN .. 60
STORY IL-THE ARGONAUTS.
PART I.-How THE CENTAa TRAINED THE HEI OS ON
PELIO .............. .71
II.-How JAsoD LOST HIs BNDAL IN AAUDRO 86
III.-How THEY BEUIe TEE NSOR ARoO Ir IoLcos 101
IV.-How THE AsONAOas SAILED TO CortC 108
V.--How THE ASOoNAur WERE DRIVEN I'NT THE
iOWn SCA . . .. 147
VI.-WiAr was TE EN D OF THE HERO 187
PART I-How TarEca LIFTED TEE STONE . 19
II-Hlow TassoUs sw oHo DEvovo ns oF MEN 203
Il.-How T~sErs SLrW THE MIsrTAU .. 243
IV.-How Ta EEs -EL BY HIS PnDm . 251
HoW PESa AD IS M -a A E TO SIIPxH08
ONCE upon a time there were two princes who were
twins Their names were Acrisius and PrFtus,
and they lived in the pleasant vale of Argos, far
away in Hellas. They had fruitful meadows and
vineyards, sheep and oxen, great herds of horses
feeding down in Lerna Fen, and all that men could
need to make them blest: and yet they were wretched,
because they were jealous of each other. From the
moment they were born they began to quarrel; and
when they grew up, each tried to take away the
other's share of the kingdom, and keep all for
hirselfo So first Acrisius drove out Proetus; and
HoW PESa AD IS M -a A E TO SIIPxH08
ONCE upon a time there were two princes who were
twins Their names were Acrisius and PrFtus,
and they lived in the pleasant vale of Argos, far
away in Hellas. They had fruitful meadows and
vineyards, sheep and oxen, great herds of horses
feeding down in Lerna Fen, and all that men could
need to make them blest: and yet they were wretched,
because they were jealous of each other. From the
moment they were born they began to quarrel; and
when they grew up, each tried to take away the
other's share of the kingdom, and keep all for
hirselfo So first Acrisius drove out Proetus; and
he went across the seas, and brought home a foreign
princess for his wife, and foreign warriors to help
him, who were called Cyelopes; and drove out
Aerisiun in his turn; and then they fought a long
while up and down the land, till the quarrel was
settled, and Acrisius took Argos and one half the
land, and Proetus took Tiryns and the other half.
And Protus and his Cyclopes built around Tiyns
great walls of unhewn stone, which are standing to
But there came a prophet to that hard-hearted
Acrisius, and prophesied against him, and said,
" Because you have risen up against your own blood,
your own blood shall rise up against you; because
you have sinned against your kindred, by your
kindred you shall be punished Your daughter
Danae shall bear a son, and by that son's hands you
shall die. So the Gods have ordained, and it will
surely come to pass."
And at that Acrisius was very much afraid; but
he did not mend his ways. He had been cruel to
his own family and instead of repenting and being
kind to them, he went on to be more cruel than ever:
for he shut up his fair daughter Danae in a cavern
underground, lined with brass, that no one might
come near her So he fancied himself more running
than the Gods: but you will see presently whether
he was able to escape them.
Now it came to pass that in time Danae bore a
son; so beautiful a babe that any but king Acrisius
would have had pity on it: but he had no pity
For he took Danae and her babe down to the sea-
shore, and put them into a great chest and thrust
them out to sea, for the winds and the waves to
carry them whithersoever they would.
The north-west wind blew freshly out of the blue
mountains, and down the pleasant vale of Argos,
and away and out to sea And away and out to
sea before it floated the mother and her babe while
all who watched them wept, save that cruel father
So they floated on and on, and the chest danced
up and down upon the billows, and the baby slept
upon its mother's breast: but the poor mother
could not sleep, but watched and wept, and she
sang to her baby as they floated; and the song
which she sang you shall learn yourselves some
And now they are past the last blue headland,
and in the open sea; and there is nothing round
them but the waves, and the sky, and the wind.
But the waves are gentle, and the sky is clear,
and the breeze is tender and low; for these are
the days when Halcyone and Ceyx build their
nests, and no storms ever ruffle the pleasant
And who were Halcyone and Ceyx? You shall
hear while the chest floats on. Halcyone was a fairy
maiden, the daughter of the beach and of the wind.
And she loved a sailor-boy, and married him;
and none on earth were so happy as they. But at
last Ceyx was wrecked; and before he could swim
to the shore, the billows swallowed him up. And
Ealcyone saw him drowning, and leapt into the sea
to him; but in vain. Then the Immortals took pity
on them both, and changed them into two fair sea-
birds; and now they build a floating nest every year,
and sail up and down happily for ever, upon the
pleasant seas of Greece.
So a night passed, and a day, and a long day it
was for Danae; and another night and day beside,
till Danae was faint with hunger and weeping, and
yet no land appeared. And all the while the babe
slept quietly; and at last poor Danae drooped her
head and fell asleep likewise, with her cheek against
After a while she was awakened suddenly; for the
chest was jarring and grinding, and the air was full
of sound. She looked up, and over her head were
mighty cliffs, all red in the setting sun, and around
her rocks and breakers, and flying flakes of foam.
She clasped her hands together, and shrieked aloud
for help. And when she cried, help met her: for
now there came over the rocks a tall and stately
man, and looked down wondering upon poor Danae
tossing about in the chest among the waves.
He wore a rough cloak of frieze, and on his head
a broad hat to shade his face: in his hand he carried
a trident for spearing fish, and over his shoulder
was a casting-net: but Danae could see that he
was no common man by his stature, and his walk,
and his flowing golden hair and beard; and by
the two servants who came behind him, carrying
baskets for his fish. But she had hardly time to
look at him, before he had laid aside his trident,
and leapt down the rocks, and thrown his casting-
net so surely over Danae and the chest, that he
drew it, and her, and the baby, safe upon a ledge
Then the fisherman took Danae by the hand, and
lifted her out of the chest, and said,-
"0 beautiful damsel, what strange chance has
brought you to this island in so frail a ship Who
are you, and whence? Surely you are some king's
daughter; and this boy has somewhat more than
And as he spoke, he pointed to the babe; for its
face shone like the morning star.
But Danae only held down her head, and sobbed
"Tell me to what land I have come, unhappy that
I am; and among what men I have fallen?"
And he said, "This isle is called Seriphos, and
I am a Hellen, and dwell in it I am the brother
of Polydectes the king; and men call me Dictys
the netter, because I catch the fish of the shore."
Then Danae fell down at his feet, and embraced
his knees, and cried,-
" Oh, sir, have pity upon a stranger, whom a cruel
doom has driven to your land; and let me live in
your house as a servant; but treat me honourably,
for I was once a king's daughter, and this my boy
(as you have truly said) is of no common race. I
will not be a charge to you, or eat the bread of
idleness; for I am more skilful in weaving and
embroidery than all the maidens of my land."
And she was going on: but Dictys stopped her,
and raised her up, and said.-
"My daughter, I am old, and my hairs are
growing grey; while I have no children to make
my home cheerful Come with me then, and you
shall be a daughter to me and to my wife, and
this babe shall be our grandchild. For I fear the
Gods, and show hospitality to all strangers; knowing
that good deeds, like evil ones, always return to
those who do them."
So Danae was comforted, and went home with
Dictys the good fisherman, and was a daughter to
him and to his wife, till fifteen years were past
FaPmer years were past and gone, and thf babe was
now grown to be a tall lad and a sailor, and went
manyvoyages after merchandise to the islands round.
His mother called him Perseus: but all the people
in Seriphos said that he was not the son of mortal
man, and called him the son of Zeu, the king of the
Immortals For though he was but fifteen, he was
taller by a head than any man in the island; and
he was the most skilful of all in running and
wrestling and boxing, and in throwing the quoit
and the javelin, and in rowing with the oar, and
in playing on the harp, and in all which befits a
ma. And he was brave and truthful, gentle and
courteous, for good old Dictys had trained him
well; and well it was for Perseus that he had done
so. For now Danae and her son fell into great
10 PER sS.
danger, and Perseus had need of all his wit to
defend his mother and himself.
I said that Dictys' brother was Polydectes, king
of the island. He was not a righteous man, like
Dictys: but greedy, and running, and cruel And
when he saw fair Danae. he wanted to marry her.
But she would not; for she did not love him, and
cared for no one but her boy, and her boy's father,
whom she never hoped to see again. At last Poly-
dectes became furious ; and while Perseus was away
at sea, he took poor Danae away from Dictys, say-
ing, "If you will not be my wife, you shall be my
slave" So Danae was made a slave, and had to
fetch water from the well, and grind in the mill,
and perhaps was beaten, and wore a heavy chain,
because she would not marry that cruel king. But
Perseus was far away over the seas in the isle of
Samos, little thinking how his mother was lan-
goishing in griei
Now one day at Samos, while the ship was lading,
Perseus wandered into a pleasant wood to get out of
the sun. and sat down on the turf, and fell asleep.
And as he slept, a strange dream came to him; the
strangest dream which he had ever had in his life.
There came a lady to him through the wood
taller than he, or any mortal man: but beautiful
exceedingly, with great grey eyes, lear and piercing
but strangely soft and mild On her head was a
helmet, and in her hand a spear. And over her
shoulder, above her long blue robes, hung a goat-
skin, which bore up a mighty shield of brass,
polished like a mirror. She stood and looked at
him with her clear grey eyes; and Perseus saw that
her eyelids never moved, nor her eyeballs, but looked
straight through and through him, and into his very
heart, as if she could see all the secrets of his soul.
and knew all that he had ever thought or longed
for since the day that he was born. And Perseus
dropped his eyes, trembling and blushing, as the
wonderful lady spoke.
"Perseus, you must do an errand for me."
"Who are you, lady? And how do you know
my name ?"
"I am Pallas Athen ; and I know the thoughts
of all men's hearts, and discern their manhood or
their baseness And from the souls of clay I turn
away; and they are blest, but not by me. They
fatten at ease, like sheep in the pasture, and eat
what they did not sow, like oxen in the stall They
grow and spread, like the gourd along the ground;
but like the gourd, they give no shade to the tra-
veller; and when they are ripe death gathers them,
and they go down unloved into hell, and their name
vanishes out of the land.
"But to the souls of fire I give more fir, and
to those who are manful I give a might more than
man's. These ar the heroes, the sons of the Im-
mortals, who are blest, but not like the soul of clay.
For I drive them forth by strange paths, Perseus,
that they may fight the Titans and the monsters,
the enemies of Gods and men. Through doubt and
need, danger and battle, I drive them; and some of
them are slain in the flower of youth, no man
knows when or where; and some of them win
noble names, and a fair and green old age; but
what will be their latter end I know not, and none,
rave Zeus, the father of Gods and men. Tell me
now, Perseus, which of these two sorts of men seem
to you more blest?"
Then Perseus answered boldly: "Better to die in
the flower of youth, on the chance of winning a
noble name, than to live at ease like the sheep,
and die unloved and unrenowned."
Then that strange lady laughed, and held up her
brazen shield, and cried: "See here, Perseus; dare
you face such a monster as this, and slay it that I
may place its head upon this shield "
And in the mirror of the shield there appeared a
face, and as Perseus looked on it his blood ran cold.
It was the face of a beautiful woman; but her cheeks
were pale as death, and her brows were knit with
everlasting pari and her lips were thin and bitter
like a snake's; and instead of hair, vipers wreathed
about her temples, and shot out their forked tongue;
while round her head were folded wings like an
eagle's, and upon her bosom claws of brasa
And Perseus looked awhile, and then said: "If
there is anything so fire and foul on earth, it were
a noble deed to kill it Where can I find the
Then the strange lady smiled again, and said:
" Not yet; you are too young, and too unskilled; for
this is Medusa the Gorgon, the mother of a monstrous
brood. Return to your home, and do the work which
waits there for you. You must play the man in that
before I can think you worthy to go in search of the
Then Perseus would have spoken, but the strange
lady vanished, and he awoke; and behold it was a
dream. But day and night Perseus saw before him
the face of that dreadful woman, with the vipers
writhing round her head.
So he returned home; and when he came to
Seriphos, the first thing which he heard was
that his mother was a slave in the house of Poly-
Grinding his teeth with rage he went out, and
away to the king's palace, and through the men's
rooms, and the women's rooms, and so through all
the house, (for no one dared stop him, so terrible
and fair was he,) till he found his mother sitting on
the floor, turning the stone hand-mill, and weeping as
she turned it And he lifted her up, and kissed her,
and bade her follow him forth. But before they could
pass out of the mom, Polydectes ame in, raging.
And when Perseus saw him, he flew upon him as the
mastiff flies on the boar "Villain and tyrant I" he
cried; "is this your respect for the Gods, and thy
mercy to strangers and widows? Yon shall die "
And because he had no sword, he caught up the
stone hand-mill and lifted it to dash out Polydectes
But his mother clung to him, shrieking, Oh. my
son, we are strangers and helpless in the land; and
if you kill the king,all the people will fal on us, and
we shall both die"
Good Dictys, too, who had come in, entreated him
"Remember that he is my brother. Remember how
I have brought you up, and trained you as my own
son, and spare him for my sake."
Then Perseus lowered his hand; and Polydeotes,
who had been trembling all this while like a coward,
because he knew that hewas in thewrong let Perses
and his mother pass
Persens took his mother to the temple of Athend,
and there the priestess made her one of the temple-
sweepers; for there they knew she would be safe,
and not even Polydetes would dare to drag her away
from the altar. And there Perseus, and the good
Dictys, and his wife, came to visit her every day;
while Polydeotes, not being able to get what he
wanted by force, east about in his wicked heart how
he might get it by cunning.
Now he was sure that he could never get back
Danae as long as Perseus was in the island; so he
made a plot to rid himself of him. And first he
pretended to have forgiven Perseus and to have
forgotten Danae; so that for a while, all went as
smoothly as ever.
Next he proclaimed a great feast, and invited to
it all the chief, and landowners, and the young
men of the island, and among them Perseus, that
they might all do him homage as their king, and
eat of his banquet in his hall.
On the appointed day they all came; and as the
custom was then, each guest brought his present
with him to the king: one a horse, another a shawl,
or a ring or a sword; and those who had nothing
better brought a basket of grapes, or of game; but
Perseus brought nothing for he had nothing to
bring being but a poor sailor-lad.
He was ashamed, however, to go into the king's
presence without his gift; and he was too proud
to ask Dictys to lend him one. So he stood at
the door sorrowfully, watching the rich men go in;
and his face grew very red as they pointed at him,
and smiled, and whispered, "What has that found-
ling to give "
Now, this was what Polydectes wanted; and as
soon as he heard that Perseus stood without, he
bade them bring him in, and asked him scornfully
before them all,- Am I not your king, Perseus,
and have I not invited you to my feast Where is
your present, then?"
Perseus blushed and stammered, while all the
proud men round laughed, and some of them began
jeering him openly. "This fellow was thrown
ashore here like a piece of weed or drift wood,
and yet he is too proud to bring a gift to the
"And though he does not know who his father
is, he is vain enough to let the old women call
him the son of Zeus."
And so forth, till poor Perseus grew mad with
shame, and hardly knowing what he said, cried
out-" A present! who are you who talk of pre-
sents See if I do not bring a nobler one than all
of yours togetherI"
So he said, boasting: and yet he felt in his heart
that he was braver than all those scoffers, and
more able to do some glorious deed.
"Hear him I Hear the boaster 1 What is it to
be?" cried they all, laughing louder than ever.
Then his dream at Samos came into his mind,
and he cried aloud, "The head of the Gorgon."
He was half afraid after he had said the words;
for all laughed louder than ever, and Polydectes
loudest of all
"You have promised to bring me the Gorgon's
head Then never appear again in this island
without it. Go!"
Perseus ground his teeth with rage, for he saw
that he had fallen into a trap: but his promise
lay upon him, and he went out without a word.
Down to the cliffs he went, and looked across
the broad blue sea; and he wondered if his dream
were true, and prayed in the bitterness of his soul
"Pallas Athen, was my dream true and shall
I slay the Gorgon ? If thou didst really show me
her face, let me not come to shame as a liar and
boastful. Rashly and angrily I promised: but
cunningly and patiently will I perform"
But there was no answer, nor sign; neither
thunder or any appearance; not even a cloud in
And three times Perseus called weeping, "Rashly
and angrily I promised: but cunningly and patiently
will I perform."
Then he saw afar off above the sea a small
white cloud, as bright as silver. And it came eon
nearer and nearer, till its brightness dazzled his
Perseus wondered at that strange cloud, for there
was no other cloud all round the sky; and he
trembled as it touched the cliff below. And as it
touched, it broke, and parted, and within it appeared
Pallas Athend, as he had seen her at Samos in his
dream, and beside her a young man more light.
limbed than the stag, whose eyes were like sparks
of fire. By his side was a scimitar of diamond,
all of one clear precious stone, and on his feet were
golden sandals, from the heels of which grew living
They looked upon Perseus keenly, and yet they
never moved their eyes; and they came up the
cliffs towards him more swiftly than the seagull,
and yet they never moved their feet, nor did the
breeze stir the robes about their limbs; only the
wings of the youth's sandals quivered, like a hawk's
when he hangs above the cliff And Perseus fell
down and worshipped, for he knew that they were
more than man.
But Athend stood before him and spoke gently,
and bid him have no fear. Then-
"Perseus," she said, "he who overcomes in one
trial merits thereby a sharper trial still You have
braved Polydectes, and done manfully. Dare you
brave Medusa the Gorgon?"
And Perseus said, "Try me; for since you spoke
to me in Samos, a new soul has come into my
breast and I should be ashamed not to dare any-
thing which I can do. Show me, then, how I can
"Perseus," said Athene, "think well before you
attempt; for this deed requires a seven years
journey, in which you cannot repent or turn back
nor escape; but if your heart fails you, you must
die in the unshapen land, where no man will ever
find your bones"
"Better so than live here, useless and despised,"
said Peseuas "Tell me, then, oh tell me, fair and
wise Goddess, of your great kindness and conde-
scension, how I can do but this one thing, and then,
if need be, die I"
Then Athend smiled and said,-
"Be patient, and listen; for if you forget my
words, you will indeed die. You must go north-
ward to the country of the Hyperboreans, who live
beyond the pole, at the sources of the cold north
wind; till you find the three Grey Sisters, who
have but one eye and one tooth between them.
You must ask them the way to the Nymphs, the
daughters of the Evening Star, who dance about
the golden tree, in the Atlantic island of the west.
They will tell you the way to the Gorgon, that
you may slay her, my enemy, the mother of mon-
strous beasts. Once she was a maiden as beautiful
as morn, till in her pride she sinned a sin at which
the sun hid his face; and from that day her hair
was turned to vipers, and her hands to eagle's
claws; and her heart was filled with shame and
rage, and her lips with bitter venom; and her eyes
became so terrible that whosoever looks on them
is turned to stone; and her children are the winged
horse, and the giant of the golden sword; and her
grandchildren are Eclidna the witch-adder, and
Geryon the three-headed tyrant, who feeds his herds
beside the herds of hell So she became the sister
of the Gorgons, Stheino and Euryte the abhorred,
the daughters of the Queen of the Sea Touch
them not, for they are immortal: but bring me
only Medusa's head."
"And Iwill bring it!" said Perseus; "but how
am I to escape her eyes? Will she not freeze me
too into stone?"
"You shall take this polished shield," said Athend;
"and when you come near her look not at her
herself but at her image in the brass; so you may
strike her safely. And when you have struck off
her head, wrap it with your face turned away, in
the folds of the goat-skin on which the shield hangs,
the hide of Amalthei6, the nurse of the Egis-holder.
So you will bring it safely back to me, and win to
yourself renown, and a place among the heroes
who feast with the Immortals upon the peak where
no winds blow."
Then Perseus said, "I will go, though I die in
going. But how shall I coss the seas without
a ship And who will show me my way ? An
when I find her, how shall I slay her, if her
scales be iron and brass "
Then the young man spoke: "These sandals of
mine will bear you across the seas, and over hill
and dale like a bird, as they bear me all day long;
for I am Hermes, the far-famed Argus-layer, the
messenger of the Immortals who dwell on Olympus"
Then Perseus fell down and worshipped, while the
young man spoke again:
"The sandals themselves will guide you on the
road, for they are divine and cannot stray; and this
sword itself, the Args-slayer, will kill her, for it is
divine, and needs no second stroke. Arise, and gird
them on, and go forth"
So Perseus arose, and girded on the sandals and
And Athend cried, "Now leap from the cliff and
But Perseus lingered.
"May I not bid farewell to my mother and to
Dictys ? And may I not offer burnt-offerings to you,
and to Hermes, the far-famed Argus-slayer, and to
Father Zeus above ?"
"You shall not bid farewell to your mother, lest
your heart relent at her weeping. I will comfort her
and Dietys until you return in peace. Nor shall you
offer burnt-offerings to the Olympians; for your offer-
ing shall be Medusa's head. Leap, and trust in the
armour of the Immortals."
Then Perseus looked down the cliff and shuddered;
but he was ashamed to show his dread. Then he
thought of Medusa and the renown before him, and
he leaped into the empty air.
And behold, instead of falling he floated, and
stood, and ran along the sky. He looked back, but
Athen6 had vanished, and Hermes; and the sandals
led him on northward ever, like a crane who follows
the spring toward the Ister fens
sea ssss se's an o .o.
So Perseus started on his journey, going dry-shod
over land and sea; and his heart was high and
joyful, for the winged sandals bore him each day
a seven days' journey.
And he went by Cythnus, and by Ceos, and the
pleasant Cyclades to Attica; and past Athens and
Thebes, and the Copaic lake, and up the vale of
Cephissus, and past the peaks of (Eta and Pindus,
and over the rich Thessalian plains, till the sunny
hill of Greece were behind him, and before him
were the wilds of the north Then he passed the
Thracian mountains, and many a barbarous tribe,
Paons and Dardans and Triball, till he came to the
Ister stream, and the dreary Seythian plains. And
he walked aroess the Ister dry-shed, and away
through the moors and fens, day and night toward
the bleak north-west, turning neither to the right
hand nor the left, till he came to the Unshapon Land,
and the place which has no name.
And seven days he walked through it, on a path
which few can tell; for those who have trodden it
lke least to speak of it and those who go there again
in dreams are glad enough when they awake; till he
came to the edge of the everlasting night where the
air was full of feathers, and the soil was hard with
ice; and there at last he found the three Grey
Sisters, by the shore of the freezing sea, nodding upon
a white log of drift-wood, beneath the cold white
winter moon; and they chanted a low song together,
"Why the old times were better than the new."
There was no living thing around them, not a fly,
not a moss upon the rocks Neither seal nor sea-gull
dare come near, lest the ice should clutch them in its
claws. The surge broke up in foam, but it fell again
in flakes of snow; and it frosted the hair of the three
Grey Sisters, and the bones in the ice-cliff above
their heads. They passed the eye from one to the
other, but for all that they could not see; and they
passed the tooth from one to the other, but for all
that they could not eat; and they sat in the full
glare of the moon, but they were none the warmer
for her beam. And Perseus pitied the three Grey
Sisters; but they did not pity themselves.
So he said, "Oh venerable mothers, wisdom is the
daughter of old age. You therefore should know
many things Tell me, if you can, the path to the
Then one cried, "Who is this who reproaches us
with old age?" And another, "This is the voice of
one of the children of men"
And he,-"I do not reproach, but honour your old
age, and I am one of the sons of men and of the
heroes. The rulers of Olympus have sent me to you
to ask the way to the Gorgon."
Then one-"There are new rulers in Olympus, and
all new things are bad." And another,-"We hate
your rulers, and the heroes, and all the children of
men. We are the kindred of the Titans, and the
Giants, and the Gorgon, and the ancient monsters
of the deep." And another--Who is this ash and
insolent man, who pushes unbidden into our world?"
And the fist,-"There never was such a world as
ours, nor will be; if we let him see it, he will spoil
Then one cried, "Give me the eye, that I may see
him;" and another," Give me the tooth, that I
may bite him." But Perseus, when he saw that they
were foolish and proud, and did not love the children
of men, left off pitying them, and said to himself
"Hungry men must needs be hasty; if I stay
making many words here, I shall be starved." Then
he stepped close to them, and watched till they
passed the eye from hand to hand. And as they
groped about between themselves, he held out
his own hand gently, till one of them put the
eye into it, fancying that it was the hand of her
sister. Then he sprang back, and laughed, and
" Cruel and proud old women, I have your eye;
and I will throw it into the sea, unless you tell me
the path to the Gorgon, and swear to me that you
ell me right.'
Then they wept, and chattered, and scolded; but
in vain. They were forced to tell the truth, though,
when they told it, Perseus could hardly make out
"You must go," they said, "foolish boy, to the
southward, into the ugly glare of the sun, till you
come to Atlas the Giant, who holds the heaven and
the earth apart And you must ask his daughters,
the Hesperides, who are young and foolish like your-
self And now give us back our eye; for we have
forgotten all the rest"
So Perseus gave them back their eye: but instead
of using it, they nodded and fell fast asleep, and were
turned into blocks of ice, till the tide came up and
washed them all away. And now they float up and
down like icebergs for ever, weeping whenever they
meet the sunshine, and the fruitful summer, and
the warm south wind, which fill young hearts with
But Perseus leaped away to the southward, leaving
the snow and the ice behind; past the isle of the
Hyperboreans, and the tin isles, and the long Iberian
shore; while the sun rose higher day by day upon
a bright blue summer sea And the terns and the
seagulls swept laughing round his head, and called
to him to stop and play, and the dolphins gam-
bolled up as he passed, and offered to carry him
on their backs. And all night long the sea-nymphs
sang sweetly, and the Tritons blew upon their
conchs, as they played round Galatea their queen,
in her car of pearled shell. Day by day the sun
rose higher, and leaped more swiftly into the sea at
night, and more swiftly out of the sea at dawn;
while Perseus skimmed over the billows like a sea-
gull, and his feet were never wetted; and leapt on
from wave to wave, and his limbs were never weary,
till he saw far away a mighty mountain, all rose-red
in the setting sun. Its feet were wrapped in forests,
and its head in wreaths of cloud; and Perseus knew
that it was Atlas, who holds the heavens and the
He came to the mountain, and leapt on shore,
and wandered upward, among pleasant valleys and
waterfalls, and tall trees and strange orus and
flowers; but there was no smoke rising from any
glen, nor house nor sign of man.
At last he heard sweet voices singing ; and he
guessed that he was come to the garden of the
Nymphs, the daughters of the Evening Star.
They sang like nightingales among the thickets
and Perseus stopped to hear their song: but the
words which they spoke he could not understand;
no, nor no man after him for many a hundred years.
So he stepped forward and saw them dancing, hand
in hand around the charmed tree, which bent under
its golden fruit; and round the tree-foot was coiled
the dragon, old Ladon the sleepless snake, who lies
there for ever, listening to the song of the maidens,
blinking and watching with dry bright eyes.
Then Perseus stopped, not because he feared the
dragon, but because he was bashful before those
fair maids : but when they saw him, they too
stopped, and called to him with trembling voie-s,-
"Who are you? Are you Heracles the mighty,
who will come to rob our garden, and carry off
our golden fruit?" And he answered,-
"I am not lHeacles the mighty, and I want none
of your golden fruit Tell me, fair nymphs, the
way which leads to the Gorgon, that I may go on
my way and slay her."
"Not yet not yet fair hoy; come dance with
us around the tree, in the garden which knows no
winter, the home of the south wind and the sun.
Come hither and play with us awhile; we have
danced alone here for a thousand years, and our
hearts are weary with longing for a playfellow.
So come, come, comeI"
"I cannot dance with you, fair maidens; for I
must do the errand of the Immortals. So tell me
the way to the Gorgon, lest I wander and perish
in the waves"
Then they sighed and wept; and answered-
"The Gorgon! she will freeze you into stone."
"It is better to die like a hero than to live like
an ox in a stall The Immortals have lent me
weapons, and they will give me wit to use them"
Then they sighed again and answered.-" Fair
boy, if you are bent on your own rin, be it so
We know not the way to the Gorgon: but we will
ask the giant Atlas, above upon the mountain peak,
the brother of our father, the silver Evening Star.
He sits aloft and sees across the ocean, and far away
into the Unshapen Land"
So they went up the mountain to Atlas their
uncle, and Perseus went up with them. And they
found the giant kneeling, as he held the heavens
and the earth apart.
They asked him, and he answered mildly, pointing
to the sea-board with his mighty hand; "I can see the
Gorgons lying on an island far away, but this youth
can never come near them, unless he has the hat of
darkness, which whosoever wears cannot be seen"
Then cried Perseus, Where is that hat, that I
may fid it?"
But the giant smiled. "No living mortal can
find that hat, for it lies in the depths of Hades, in
the regions of the dead. But my nieces are im-
mortal, and they shall fetch it for you, if you will
promise me one thing and keep your faith."
Then Perseus promised; and the giant said--
"When you come back with the head of Medusa,
you shall show me the beautiful horror; that I may
lose my feeling and my breathing, and become a
stone for ever; for it is weary labour for me, to
hold the heavens and the earth apart."
Then Perses promised, and the eldest of the
nymphs went down, and into a dark cavern among
the clifs, out of which came smoke and thunder,
for it was one of the months of Hell
And Perseus and the nymphs sat down seven
days, and waited trembling, till the nymph came up
again; and her face was pale, and her eyes dazzled
with the light, for she had been long in the dreary
darkness; but in her hand was the magio hat
Then all the nymphs kissed Perseus, and wept
over him a long while: but he was only impatient
to be gone. And at last they put the hat upon
his head, and he vanished out of their sight.
But Perseus went on boldly, past many an ugly
sight far away into the heart of the Unshapen JLad,
beyond the streams of Ocean, to the isles where no
ship cruises, where is neither night nor day, where
nothing is in its right place, and nothing has a
name; till he heard the rustle of the Gorgons' wings.
and saw the glitter of their brazen talons; and then
he knew that it was time to halt leat Medusa should
freeze him into stone.
He thought awhile with himself and remembered
Atheno's words He rose aloft into the air, and
held the mirror of the shield above his head, and
looked up into it that he might see all that was
And he saw the three Gorgons sleeping as huge
as elephants. He knew that they could not se him,
because the hat of darkness hid him; and yet he
trembled as he sank down near them, so terrible
were those brazen claws
Two of the Gorgons were foul as swine, and lay
sleeping heavily, as swine sleep, with their mighty
wings outspread : but Medusa tossed to and fro
restlessly, and as she tossed, Perseus pitied her, she
looked so fair and sad. Her plumage was like the
rainbow, and her face was like the face of a nymph,
only her eyebrows were knit, and her lips clenched,
with everlasting care and pain; and her long neck
gleamed so white in the mirror, that Perseus had
not the heart to strike, and said, "Ah, that it had
been either of her sisters I"
But as he looked, from among her tresses the
vipers' heads awoke, and peeped up with their
bright dry eyes, and showed their fangs, and hissed;
and Medusa, as she tossed, threw back her wings
and showed her brazen claws; and Perseus saw that,
for all her beauty, she was as foul and venomous
as the rest
Then he came down and stepped to her boldly,
and looked steadfastly on his mirror, and struck
with Herp4 stoutly once; and he did not need to
Then he wrapped the head in the goat-skin, turn-
ing away his eyes, and sprang into the air aloft,
faster than he ever sprang before.
For Medusa's wings and talons rattled as she sank .
dead upon the rocks; and her two foul sisters woke,
and saw her lying dead.
Into the air they sprang yelling, and looked for
him who had done the deed. Thrice they swung
round and round, like hawks who beat for a part-
ridge; and thrice they snuffed round and round, like
hounds who draw upon a deer. At last they struck
upon the scent of the blood, and they cheeked for a
moment to make sure; and then on hey rushed
with a fearful howl, while the wind rattled hoarse
in their wwgs.
On they rushed, sweeping and flapping, like eagles
after a hare ; and Perseus' blood ran cold, for all his
courage, as he saw them come howling on his track;
and he cried, "Bear me well now, brave sandals, for
the hounds of Death are at my heels 1"
And well the brave sandals bore him, aloft
through cloud and sunshine, across the shoreless
sea: and fast followed the hounds of Death, as the
roar of their wings came down the wind. But the
roar came down fainter and fainter, and the howl
of their voices died away; for the sandals were
too swift, even for Gorgons, and by nightfall they
were far behind, two black specks in the southern
sky, till the sun sank and he saw them no more.
Then he came again to Atlas, and the garden
of the Nymphs; and when the giant heard him
coming, he groaned and said, "Fulfil thy promise
to me." Then Perseus held up to him the Gorgon's
head, and he had rest from all his toil; for he
became a crag of stone, which sleeps for ever fai
above the clouds.
Then he thanked the Nymphs, and asked them,
"By what mad shall I go homeward again, for
I wandered far round in coming hither?"
And they wept and cried, "Go home no more,
but stay and play with us, the lonely maidens, who
dwell for ever far away from Gods and men."
But he refused, and they told him his road and
said, Take with you this magic fruit, which, if
you eat once, you will not hunger for seven days.
For you must go eastward and eastward ever, over
the doleful Lybian shore, which Poseidon gave to
Father Zeus, when he burst open the Bosphorus
and the Hellespont, and drowned the fair Lectonian
land. And Zeus took that land in exchange, a fair
bargain, much bad ground for a little good, and to
this day it lies waste and desert, with shingle, and
rock, and sand."
Then they kissed Pereusn, and wept over him,
and he leapt down the mountain and went on,
lessening and lessening like a sea-gull, away and
out to sea
So Perseus flitted onward to the north-east, over
many a league of sea, till he came to the rolling
sand-hills, and the dreary Lybian shore
And he flitted on across the desert, over rock-
ledges, and banks of shingle, and level wastes of
sand, and shell-drifts bleaching in the sunshine,
and the skeletons of great sea-monsters and dead
bones of ancient giants, strewn up and down upon
the old se-floor. And as he went, the blood-drops
fell to the earth from the Gorgon's head, and
became poisonous asps and adders, which breed
in the desert to this day.
Over the sands he went, he never knew how far
or how long, feeding on the fruit which the Nymphs
had given him, till he saw the hills of the Psylli
and the Dwarfs who fought with cranes Their
spears were of reeds and rushes, and their houses
of the egg-shells of the cranes; and Perseus laughed,
and went his way to the north-east, hoping all day
long to see the blue Mediterranean sparkling, that
he might fly across it to his home.
But now came down a mighty wind, and swept
him back southward toward the desert All day
long he strove against it; but even the winged
sandals could not prevail So he was forced to
float down the wind all night; and when the
morning dawned there was nothing to be seen,
save the same old hateful waste of sand.
And out of the north the sandstorms rushed upon
him, blood-red pillars and wreaths, blotting out the
noonday sun; and Perseus fled before them, lest
he should be choked by the burning dust At last
the gale fell calm, and he tried to go northward
again; but again came down the sandstorms, and
swept him back into the waste, and then all was
calm and cloudless as before. Seven days he strove
against thestorms, and seven days he was driven
back, till he was spent with thirst and hunger, and
PE BsUs. 43
his tongue clove to the roof of his mouth. Here
and there he fancied that he saw a fair lake, and
the sunbeams shining on the water; but when he
came to it it vanished at his feet and there was
nought but burning sand. And if he had not been
of the race of the Immortals, he would have perished
in the waste; but his life was strong within him.
because it was more than man's
Then he cried to Athen, and said,-
" Oh, fair and pure, if thou hearest me, wilt thou
leave me here to die of drought? I have brought
thee the Gorgon's head at thy bidding, and hitherto
thou hast prospered my journey; dost thou desert
me at the last ? Else why will not these immortal
sandals prevail, even against the desert storms?
Shall I never see my mother more, and the blue
ripple round Seriphos, and the sunny hills of
So he prayed; and after he had prayed there
was a great silence
The heaven was still above his head, and the sand
was still beneath his fee; and Perseus looked up,
but there was nothing but the blinding sun in the
blinding blue; and round him, but there was
nothing but the blinding sand.
And Perseus stood still a while, and waited, and
said-" Surely I am not here without the will of
the Immortal for Athend will not lie. Were not
these sandals to lead me in the right road Then
the road in which I have tried to go must be a
Then suddenly his ears were opened, and he
heard the sound of running water
And at that his heart was lifted up, though he
scarcely dare believe his ears; and weary as he
was, he hurried forward, though he could scarcely
stand upright; and within a bowshot of him was
a glen in the sand, and marble rocks, and date-
trees and a lawn of gay green grass. And through
the lawn a streamlet sparkled and wandered out
beyond the tires, and vanished in the sand.
The water trickled among the rocks, and a
pleasant breeze rustled in the dry date-branches;
and Perseus laughed for joy, and leapt down the
clffi and drank of the cool water, and ate of the
dates, and slept upon the turW and leapt up and
went forward again: but not toward the north this
time; for he said-" Surely Athend hath sent me
hither, and will not have me go homeward yet
What, if there be another noble deed to be done,
before I see the sunny hills of Hellas?"
So he went east, and east for ever, by fresh cases
and fountains, date-palms, and lawns of grass, till
he saw before him a mighty mountain-wall all
rose-red in the setting sun.
Then he towered in the air like an eagle, for his
limbs were strong again; and he flew all night
across the mountain till the day began to dawn,
and rosy-fingered Eos came blushing up the sky.
And then, behold, beneath him was the long green
garden of Egypt, and the shining stream of Nile.
And he saw cities walled up to heaven, and
temples, and obelisks, and pyramids, and giant Gods
of stone. And he came down amid fields of barley,
and flax, and millet, and clambering gourds; and
saw the people coming out of the gates of a great
city, and setting to work, each in his place, among
the watercourses, parting the streams among the
plants cunningly with their feet, according to the
wisdom of the Egyptians. But when they saw him
they all stopped their work, and gathered round
him, and cried,-
"Who art thou, fair youth? and what nearest
thou beneath thy goatskin there? Surely thou art
one of the Immortals; for thy skin is white like
ivory, and ours is red like clay. Thy hair is like
threads of gold, and ours is black and curled. Surely
thou art one of the Immortals;a-aud they would
have worshipped him then and there: but Perseus
"I am not one of the Immortals; but I am a
hero of the Hellens And I have slain the Gorgon
in the wilderness, and bear her head with me. Give
me food, therefore, that I may go forward and finish
Then they gave him food, and fruit, and wine;
but they would not let him go. And when the
news came into the city that the Gorgon was alain,
the priests came out to meet him, and the maidens,
with songs and dances, and timbrels and harps;
and they would have brought him to their temple
and to their king; but Perseus put on the hat of
darkness, and vanished away out of their sight.
Therefore the Egyptians looked long for his return,
but in vain, and worshipped him as a hero, and made
a statue of him in Chemmis, which stood for many
a hundred years; and they said that he appeared
to them at times, with sandals a cubit long; and
that whenever he appeared the season was fruitful,
and the Nile rose high that year
Then Perseus went to the eastward, along the
Red Sea shore; and then, because he was afraid to
go into the Arabian deserts, he turned northward
once more, and this time no storm hindered him.
He went past the Isthmus, and Mount Casius,
and the vast Serbonian bog, and up the shore of
Palestine, where the dark-faced tEthiops dwelt.
He flew on past pleasant hills and valleys, like
Argos itself, or Lcedomon, or the fair Vale of
Tempe. But the lowlands were all drowned by
floods, and the highlands blasted by fire, and the
hills heaved like a bubbling cauldron, before the
wrath of king Poseidon, the shaker of the earth
And Perseus feared to go inland, but flew along
the shore above the sea; and he went on all the
day, and the sky was black with smoke; and he
went on all the night, and the sky was red with
And at the dawn of day he looked toward the
cliffs; and at the water's edge, under a black rock,
he saw a white image stand.
"This," thought he, "must surely be the statue
of some sea-God; I will go near and see what kind
of Gods these barbarians worship."
So he came near; but when he came, it was no
statue, but a maiden of flesh and blood; for he
could see her tresses streaming in the breeze; and
as he came closer still, he could see how she shrank
and shivered, when the waves sprinkled her with
cold salt spray. Her arms were spread above her
head, and fastened to the rock with chains of
brass; and her head drooped on her bosom, either
with sleep, or weariness, or grief But now and then
she looked up and wailed, and called her mother;
yet she did not see Perseus, for the cap of dark-
uess wvas on his head.
Full of pity and indignation, Perseus drew near
add looked upon the maid. Her cheeks were darker
than his were, and her hair was blue-black like a
hyacinth: but Perseus thought- I have never
seen so beautiful a maiden; no, not in all our Isles
Surely, she is a king's daughter. Do barbarians
treat their kings' daughters thus ? She is too fair, at
least to have done any wrong. I will speak to her."
And lifting the hat from his head, he flashed into
her sight. She shrieked with terror, and tried to
hide her face with her hair, for she could not with
her hands; but Perseus cried,-
"Do not fear me, fair one; I am a Hellen, and
no babaraian. What cruel men have bound you
But first I will set you free."
And he tore at the fetters; but they were too
strong for him; while the maiden cried,-
"Touch me not; I am accused, devoted as a
50 PESEUS .
victim to the sea-Gods. They will slay you, if you
dare to set me free."
"Let them try," said Persens; and drawing Herpd
from his thigh, he cut through the brass as if it
had been flax.
"Now," he said, "you belong to me, and not
to these sea-Gods, whosoever they may be But
she only called the more on her mother.
Why call on your mother She can be
no mother to have left yu here. If a bird is
dropped out of the nest it belongs to the man
who picks it up. If a jewel is cast by the way-
side, it is his who dare win it and wear it as
I will win you and will wear you. I know now
why Pallas Athene sent me hither. She sent me
to gain a prize worth all my toil and more"
And he clasped her in his arm, and cried-
"Where are these sea-Gods, cruel and unjust, who
doom fair maids to death? I carry the weapons
of Immortals. Let them measure their strength
against mine I But tell me, maiden, who you are,
and what dark fate brought you here?"
And she answered, weeping-
I am the daughter of Cepheus, King of Iopa,
and my mother is Cassiopcria of the beautiful tresses,
and they called me Andomeda, as long as life was
mine And I std found here, hapless haat I a,
for the sea-monster's food, to atone for my mother's
sin For she boasted of me once that I was fairer
than Atergatis, Queen of the Fishes; so she in her
wrath sent the sea-floods, and her brother the Fire
King sent the earthquakes, and wasted all the land,
and after the floods a monster bred of the slime, who
devours all living things. And now he must devour
me, guiltless though I am-me who never harmed a
living thing, nor saw a fish upon the shore but I
gave it life, and threw it back into the sea; for in
our land we eat no fish,for fear of Atergatis their
Queen Yet the priests say that nothing but my
blood can atone for a sin which I never committed."
But Perseus laughed, and said-"A sea-monster?
I have fought with worse than him: I would have
faced Immortals for your sake; how much more a
beast of the seat"
Then Andromeda looked up at him, and new hope
was kindled in her breast so proud and fair did he
stand, with one hand round her, and in the other
the glittering sword. But she only sighed, and
wept the more, and cried,-
"Why will you di, young as you are Is there
not death and sorrow enough in the world already?
It is noble for me to die, that I may save the lives
of a whole people; but you, better than them all,
why should I slay you too? Go you your way;
I must go mine'.
But Perseus cried-" Not so; for the Lords of
Olympus, whom I serve, are the friends of the
heroes, and help them on to noble deeds Led by
them, I slew the Gorgon, the beautiful horror; and
not without them do I come hither, to slay this
monster with that same Gorgon's head. Yet hide
your eyes when I leave you, lest the sight of it
freeze you too to stone."
But the maiden answered nothing, for she could
not believe his words And then, suddenly looking
up, she pointed to the sea, and shrieked,-
"There he comes, with the sunrise, as they
promised. I must die now. How shall I endure
it? Oh, go Is it not dreadful enough to be torn
piecemeal, without having you to look on?" And
she tried to thrust him away.
But he said-"I go: yet promise me one thing
ere I go; that if I slay this beast you will be my
wife, and come back with me to my kingdom in
fiitful Argos, for I am a king's heir. Promise me
and seal it with a kiss."
Then she lifted up her face, and kissed him; and
Perseus laughed for joy, and flew upward, while
Andromeda crouched trembling on the rock, waiting
for what might befal.
On came the great sea-mnster, coasting along
like a huge black galley, lazily breasting the ripple
and stopping at times by creek or headland, to
watch for the laughter of girls at their bleaching
or cattle pawing on the sand hills, or boys bathing
on the beack His great sides were fringed with
clustering shells and sea-weeds, and the water
gurgled in and out of his wide jaws, as he rolled
54 PE sUB.
along, dripping and glistening, in the beams of the
At last he saw Andromeda, and shot forward to
take his prey, while the waves foamed white behind
him, and before him the fish fled leaping.
Then down from the height'of the air-fell Perseus
like a shooting star; down to the crests of the
waves, while Andromeda hid her face as he shouted;
and then there was silence for a while.
At last she looked up trembling and saw Perseus
springing toward her; and instead of the monster
a long black rock, with the sea rippling quietly
Who then so proud as Perseus, as he leapt back
to the rock, and lifted his fair Andromeda in his
arms, and flew with her to the cliff-top, as a falcon
carries a dove ?
Who so proud as Perseus, and who so joyful
as all the AEthiop people ? For they had stood
watching the monster from the cliffs, wailing for
the maiden's fate. And already a messenger had
gone to Cepheus and Cassioposia, where they sat in
sackcloth and ashes on the ground, in the inne-
most palace chambers, awaiting their daughters
end. And they came, and all the city with them,
to see the wonder, with songs and with dances,
with cymbals and harps, and received their daughter
back again, as one alive from the dead.
Then Cepheus said "Hero of the Hellens, stay
here with me and be my son-in-law, and I will
give you the half of my kingdom."
"I will be your son-in-law," said Perseus, "but
of your kingdom I will have none; for I long after
the pleasant land of Greece, and my mother who
waits for me at home"
Then Cephens said-" You must not take my
daughter away at once, for she is to us like one
live from the dead. Stay with us here a year,
and after that you shall return with honour." And
Perseus consented; but before he went to the palace,
he bade the people bring stones and wood, and built
three altars, one to Athend, and one to Hermes,
and one to Father Zeus, and offered bullocks and
And some said-" This is a pious man:" yet
the priests said-'The Sea Queen will be yet more
fierce against us, because her monster is slain"
But they were afraid to speak aloud, for they feared
the Gorgon's head. So they went up to the palace:
and when they came in, there stood in the hall
Phineus, the brother of Cepheus, chafing like a
bear robbed of her whelps, and with him his sons,
and his servants, and many an armed man; and
he cried to Oepheus,-
"You shall not marry your daughter to this
stranger, of whom no one knows even the name
Was not Andromeda betrothed to my son? And
now she is safe again, has he not a right to claim
But Perseus laughed and answered-" If your
son is in want of a bride, let him save a maiden
for himself As yet he seems but a helpless bride-
groom. He left this one to die, and dead she is
to him. I saved her alive, and alive she is to me,
but to no one else. Ungrateful man have I not
saved your land, and the lives of your sons and
daughters, and will you requite me thus? Go, or
it will be worse for you.' But all the men-at-arms
drew their swords, and rushed on him like wild
Then he unveiled the Gorgon's head, and said-
"This has delivered my bride from one wild beast;
it shall deliver her from many." And as he spoke,
Phineus and all his men-at-arms stopped short,
and stiffened each man as he stood; and before
Perseus had drawn the goat-skin over the face
again, they were all turned into stone.
Then Perseus bade the people bring levers and
roll them out; and what was done with them after
that, I cannot tell
So they made a great wedding-feast, which lasted
seven whole days, and who so happy as Perseus
But on the eighth night, Perseus dreamed a
dream; and he saw standing beside him Pallas
Athend, as he had seen her in Seripho, seven long
years before; and she stood and called him by
name, and said,-
" Perseus, you have played the man, and see,
you have your reward Know now that the Gods
are just, and help him who helps himself Now
give me here Herp the sword, and the sandals,
and the hat of darkness, that I may give them
back to their owners ; but the Gorgon's head you
shall keep a while, for you will need it in your
land of Greece. Then you shall lay it up in my
temple at Serphos, that I may wear it on my
shield for ever, a terror to the Titans and the
monsters, and the foes of Gods and men And as
for this land, I have appeased the sea and the fire,
and there shall be no more foods nor earthquakes
But let the people build altars to Father Zeus, and
to me, and worship the Immortals, the Iords of
heaven and earth"
And Perseus rose to give her the sword, and the
cap, and the sandals: but he woke, and his dream
vanished away. And yet it was not altogether a
dream; for the goat-skin with the head was in its
place; but the sword, and the cap, and the sandals
were gone, and Perseus never saw them more.
Then a great awe fell on Perseus; and he went
out in the morning to the people, and told his
dream, and bade them build altars to Zeus the
Father of Gods and men, and to Atheno who gives
wisdom to heroes; and fear no more the earth-
quakes and the floods, but sow and build in peace.
And they did so for a while, and prospered: but
after Perseus was gone, they forgot Zeus and Athend,
and worshipped again Atergatis the queen, and the
undying fish of the sacred lake, where Deucalion's
deluge was swallowed up, and they burnt their
children before the Fire King, till Zeus was angry
with that foolish people, and brought a strange
nation against them out of Egypt, who fought
against them and wasted them utterly, and dwelt
in their cities for many a hundred years.
How PEBSEos oCnA OaM ABAIM.
AND when a year was ended, Perseus hired Phoe-
nicians from Tyre, and cut down cedars, and built
himself a noble galley; and painted its cheeks
with vermilion, and pitched its aides with pitch;
and in it he put Andromed, and all her dowry
of jewels, and rich shawls, and spices from the
East; and great was the weeping when they rowed
away. But the remembrance of his brave deed
was left behind; and Andromeda's rock was shown
at Jops in Palestine, till more than a thousand
years were past
So Perseus and the Phoenicians rowed to the
westward, across the sea of Crete, till they came
to the blue gean and the pleasant Isles of Hellas,
and Seriphos, his ancient home
Then he left his galley on the beach, and went
up as of old; and he embraced his mother, and
Dictys his good foster-father, and they wept over
each other a long while, for it was seven years
and more since they had met
Then Perseus went out, and up to the hall of
Polydectes; and underneath the goat-skin he bore
the Gorgon's head.
And when he came into the hall, Polydectes sat
at the table-head, and all his nobles and landowners
on either side, each according to his rank, feasting
on the fish and the goats-flesh, and drinking the
blood-red wine. The harpers harped, and the revel-
lers shouted, and the wine-cups rang merrily as
they passed from hand to hand, and great was the
noise in the hall of Polydectes.
Then Perseus stood upon the threshold, and called
to the king by name But none of the guests knew
Perseus, for he was changed by his long journey.
He had gone out a boy, and he was come home
a her ; his eye shone like an eagle's, and his beard
was like a lion's beard, and he stood up like a
wild bull in his pride.
But Polydectes the wicked knew him, and
hardened his heart still more; and scornfully
Ah, foundling I Have you found it more easy
to promise than to fulfil ?"
"Those whom the Gods help fulf their promises;
and those who despise them, reap as they have
sown Behold the Gorgon's head "
Then Perseus drew back the goat-skin, and held
aloft the Gorgon's head.
Pale grew Polydectes and his guests, as they
looked upon that dreadful face. They tried to
rise up from their seats: but from their seats they
never rose, but stiffened, each man where he sat,
into a ring of cold grey stones.
Then Perseus turned and left them, and went
down to his galley in the bay; and he gave the
kingdom to good Dietys, and sailed away with his
mother and his bride.
And Polydectes and his guests sat still, with the
wine-cups before them on the board; till the rafters
crumbled down above their heads, and the walls
behind their backs, and the table crumbled down
between them, and the grass sprung up about their
feet: but Polydectes and his guests sit on the hill-
side, a ring of grey stones until this day.
But Perseus rowed westward toward Argos, and
landed, and went up to the town And when he
came, he found that Acrisins his grandfather had
fled. For Pretus his wicked brother had made
war against him afresh; and had come across the
river from Tiryns, and conquered Argos, and Acrisius
had fled to Larissa, in the country of the wild Pelasgi
Then Perseus called the Argives together, and
told them who he was, and all the noble deeds
which he had done. And all the nobles and the
yeomen made him king, for they saw that he had
a royal heart; and they fought with him against
Argos, and took it and killed Pretus, and made
the Cyclopes serve them, and build them walls
round Argos, like the walls which they had built
at.Tiryns; and there were great rejoicings in the
vale of Argos, because they had got a king from
But Perseus' heart yearned after his grandfather,
and he said, "Surely he is my flesh and blood
and he will love me now that I am come home
with honour: I will go and find him, and bring
him home, and we will reign together in peace."
So Perseus sailed away with his Phoenicians,
round Hydrea and Sunium, past Marathon and the
Attic shore, and through Euripus, and up the long
Eubcean sea till he came to the town of Larissa,
where the wild Pelasgi dwelt
And when he came there, all the people were
in the fields, and there was feasting, and all kinds
of games; for Teutamenes their king wished to
honour Acrisius, because he was the king of a
So Perseus did not tell his name, but went up to
the games unknown; for he said, "If I carry away
the prize in the games, my grandfather's heart
will be softened toward me"
So he threw off his helmet and his cuirass and
all his clothes, and stood among the youths of
Larissa, while all wondered at him, and said, "Who
is this young stranger, who stands like a wild
bull in his pride ? Surely he is one of the heroes,
the sons of the Immortals, from Olympus"
And when the games began, they wondered yet
more; for Perseus was the best man of all, at
running, and leaping, and wrestling, and throwing
the javelin: and he won four crowns, and took
them, and then he said to himself There is a
fifth crown yet to be won; I will win that, and
lay them all upon the knees of my grandfather."
And as he spoke, he saw where Acrisius sat,
by the side of Teutamenes the king, with his white
beard flowing down upon his knees, and his royal
staff in his hand; and Perseus wept when he looked
at him, for his heart yearned after his kin; and
he said, "Surely he is a kingly old man, yet he
need not be ashamed of his grandson"
Then he took the quoits, and hurled them, five
fathoms beyond all the rest; and the people shouted,
"Further yet, brave stranger I There has never
been such a hurler in'this land."
Then Perseus put out all his strength, and hurled.
But a gust of wind came from the sea, and carried
the quoit aside, and far beyond all the rest; and
it fell on the foot of Acrisius, and he swooned
away with the pain
Perseus shrieked, and ran up to him: but when
they lifted the old man up, he was dead; for his
life was slow and feeble
Then Persens rent his clothes, and cast dust upon
his head, and wept a long while for his grandfather.
At last he rose, and called to all the people aloud,
"The Gods are true, and what they have ordained
must be. I am Perseus, the grandson of this dead
man, the far-famed slayer of the Gorgon"
Then he told them how the prophecy had declared
that he should kill his grandfather, and all the
story of his life.
So they made a great mourning for Aerisius, and
burnt him on a right rich pile; and Perseus went
to the temple, and was purified from the guilt of
the death, because he had done it unknowingly.
Then he went home to Argos, and reigned there
well with fair Andromeda; and they had four sons
and three daughters, and died in a good old age.
And when they died, the ancients say, Atheno
took them up into the sky, with Cephus and
Cassiopeia And there on starlight nights you
may see them shining still; Cepheus with his
kingly crown, and Cassiopoeia in her ivory chair,
plaiting her star-spangled tresses, and Perseus with
the Gorgons head, and fair Andromeda beside him,
spreading her long white arms across the heaven,
as she stood when chained to the stone for the
monster. All night long they shine, for a beacon
to wandering sailors: but all day they feast with
the Gods, on the still blue peaks of Olympus
STORY II.-THE ARGONAUTS.
I BAV told you of a hero who fought with wild
beasts and with wild men; but now I have a tale
of heroes who sailed away into a distant land, to
win themselves renown for ever, in the adventure
of the Golden Fleece.
Whither they sailed, my children, I cannot clearly
tell It all happened long ago; so long that it
has all grown dim, like a dream which you dreamt
last year. And why they went, I cannot tell: some
say that it was to win gold It may be so: bunt
the noblest deeds which have been done on earth
have not been done for gold. It was not for the
72 Tnm ARooNAUTS.
sake of gold that the Iord came down and died,
and the Apostles went out to preach the good news
in all lands The Spartans looked for no reward in
money when they fought and died at Thermopylee;
and Socrates the wise asked no pay from his coun-
trymen, but lived poor and barefoot all his days, only
caring to make men good. And there are heroes in
our days also, who do noble deeds, but not for gold.
Our discoverers did not go to make themselves rich
when they sailed out one after another into the
dreary frozen seas; nor did the ladies, who went
out last year, to drudge in the hospitals of the East,
making themselves poor, that they might be rich in
noble works. And young men too, whom you know,
children, and some of them of your own kin, did they
say to themselves, "How much money shall I earn?"
when they went out to the war, leaving wealth,
and comfort, and a pleasant home, and all that
money can give, to face hunger and thirst, and
wounds and death, that they might fight for their
country and their Queen ? No, children, there is
a better thing on earth than wealth, a better thing
THE ARGOOAUT. 78
than life itself; and that is, to have done some-
thing before you die, for which good men may
honour you, and God your Father smile upon your
Therefore we will believe-why should we not?
-of these same Argonauts of old, that they too
were noble men, who planned and did a noble
deed; and that therefore their fame has lived, and
been told in story and in song, mixed up, no doubt,
with dreams and fables, and yet true and right at
heart So we will honour these old Argonauts, and
listen to their story as it stands; and we will try
to be like them, each of us in our place; for each
of us has a Golden Fleece to seek, and a wild sea
to sail over ere we reach it, and dragons to fight
ee it be ours
And what was that first Golden Fleece I do
not know, nor care The old Hellens said that it
hung in Colchis, which we call the Circassian
coast nailed to a beech-tree in the war-God's wood;
and that it was the fleece of the wondrous ram,