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stanch the wound and retain the flitting life, but in vain. As when one has broken the stem of a lily in the garden it hangs its head and turns its flowers to the earth, so the head of the dying boy, as if too heavy for his neck, fell over on his shoulder. "Thou diest, Hyacinth," spake Phoebus, "robbed of thy youth by me. Would that I could die for thee! But since that may not be, my lyre shall celebrate thee, my song shall tell thy fate, and thou shalt become a flower inscribed with my regret." While the golden god spoke, the blood which had flowed on the ground and stained the herbage, ceased to be blood; and a flower of hue more beautiful than the Tyrian sprang up, resembling the lily, save that this is purple and that silvery white. Phoebus then, to confer still greater honor, marked the petals with his sorrow, inscribing "Ai! ai!" upon them. The flower bears the name of Hyacinthus, and with returning spring revives the memory of his fate.1
It was said that Zephyrus (the west wind), who was also fond of Hyacinthus and jealous of his preference of Apollo, blew the quoit out of its course to make it strike Hyacinthus.
§ 75. While this youth met his death by accident, another of Apollo's favorites, his own son, brought death upon himself by presumption.
Phaeton2 was the son of Apollo and the nymph Clymene. One day Epaphus, the son of Jupiter and Io,2 scoffed at the idea of Phaeton's being the son of a god. Phaeton complained of the insult to his mother Clymene. She sent him to Phoebus to ask for himself whether he had not been truly informed concerning his parentage. Gladly Phaeton travelled toward the regions of sunrise, and gained at last the palace of the Sun. He approached his father's presence, but stopped at a distance, for the light was more than he could bear. Phoebus Apollo, arrayed in purple, sat on a throne that glittered with diamonds. Beside him stood the Day, the Month, the Year, the Hours, and the Seasons. Surrounded by these attendants, the Sun beheld the youth dazzled with the novelty and splendor of the scene, and inquired the purpose of
1 Ovid, Metam, 10: 162-219. 2 Properly spelled Phaethon.
his errand. The youth replied, " Oh, light of the boundless world, Phoebus, my father—if thou dost yield me that name—give me some proof, I beseech thee, by which I may be known as thine 1" He ceased. His father, laying aside the beams that shone around his head, bade him approach, embraced him, owned him for his son, and swore by the river Styx1 that whatever proof he might ask should be granted. Phaeton immediately asked to be permitted for one day to drive the chariot of the sun. The father repented of his promise, and tried to dissuade the boy by telling him the perils of the undertaking. "None but myself," he said, "may drive the flaming car of day. Not even Jupiter, whose terrible right arm hurls the thunderbolts. The first part of the way is steep, and such as the horses when fresh in the morning can hardly climb; the middle is high up in the heavens, whence I myself can scarcely, without alarm, look down and behold the earth and sea stretched beneath me. The last part of the road descends rapidly, and requires most careful driving. Tethys, who is waiting to receive me, often trembles for me lest I should fall headlong. Add to this that the heaven is all the time turning round and carrying the stars with it. Couldst thou keep thy course, while the sphere revolved beneath thee? The road, also, is through the midst of frightful monsters. Thou must pass by the horns of the Bull, in front of the Archer, and near the Lion's jaws, and where the Scorpion stretches its arms in one direction and the Crab in another. Nor wilt thou find it easy to guide those horses, with their breasts full of fire that they breathe forth from their mouths and nostrils. Beware, my son, lest I be the donor of a fatal gift; recall the request while yet thou canst." He ended; but the youth rejected admonition, and held to his demand. So, having resisted as long as he might, Phoebus at last led the way to where stood the lofty chariot.
It was of gold, the gift of Vulcan: the axle of gold, the pole and wheels of gold, the spokes of silver. Along the seat were rows of chrysolites and diamonds, reflecting the bright
i J 48.
ness of the sun. While the daring youth gazed in admiration, the early Dawn threw open the purple doors of the east, and showed the pathway strewn with roses. The stars withdrew, marshalled by the Daystar, which last of all retired also. The father, when he saw the earth beginning to glow, and the Moon preparing to retire, ordered the Hours to harness up the horses. They led forth from the lofty stalls the steeds full fed with ambrosia, and attached the reins. Then the father, smearing the face of his son with a powerful unguent, made him capable of enduring the brightness of the flame. He set the rays on the lad's head, and, with a foreboding sigh, told him to spare the whip and hold tight the reins; not to take the straight road between the five circles, but to turn off to the left; to keep within the limit of the middle zone, and avoid the northern and the southern alike; finally, to keep in the well-worn ruts, and to drive neither too high nor too low, for the middle course was safest and best.1
Forthwith the agile youth sprang into the chariot, stood erect, and grasped the reins with delight, pouring out thanks to his reluctant parent. But the steeds soon perceived that the load they drew was lighter than usual; and as a ship without ballast is tossed hither and thither on the sea, the chariot, without its accustomed weight, was dashed about as if empty. The horses rushed headlong and left the travelled road. Then, for the first time, the Great and Little Bears were scorched with heat, and would fain, if it were possible, have plunged into the water; and the Serpent which lies coiled round the north pole, torpid and harmless, grew warm, and with warmth felt its rage revive. Bootes, they say, fled away, though encumbered with his plough, and unused to rapid motion.
When hapless Phaeton looked down upon the earth, now spreading in vast extent beneath him, he grew pale, and his knees shook with terror. He lost his self-command, and knew not whether to draw tight the reins or throw them loose; he forgot the names of the horses. But when he beheld the monstrous forms scattered
1 Medio tutissimus ibis. — OV1d.
over the surface of heaven, — the Scorpion extending two great arms, his tail, and his crooked claws over the space of two signs of the zodiac, — when the boy beheld him, reeking with poison and menacing with fangs, his courage failed, and the reins fell from his hands. The horses, unrestrained, went off into unknown regions of the sky, in among the stars, hurling the chariot over pathless places, now up in high heaven, now down almost to the earth. The moon saw with astonishment her brother's chariot running beneath her own. The clouds began to smoke. The forest-clad mountains burned,—Athos and Taurus and Tmolus and GEte; Ida, once celebrated for fountains; the Muses' mountain Helicon, and Haemus: yEtna, with fires within and without, and Parnassus, with his two peaks, and Rhodope, forced at last to part with his snowy crown. Her cold climate was no protection to Scythia; Caucasus burned, and Ossa and Pindus, and, greater than both, Olympus,—the Alps high in air, and the Apennines crowned with clouds.
Phaeton beheld the world on fire, and felt the heat intolerable. Then, too, it is said, the people of ^Ethiopia became black because the blood was called by the heat so suddenly to the surface; and the Libyan desert was dried up to the condition in which it remains to this day. The Nymphs of the fountains, with dishevelled hair, mourned their waters, nor were the rivers safe beneath their banks; Tanais smoked, and Caicus, Xanthus, and Maeander; Babylonian Euphrates and Ganges, Tagus, with golden sands, and Cayster where the swans resort. Nile fled away and hid his head in the desert, and there it still remains concealed. Where he used to discharge his waters through seven mouths into the sea, seven dry channels alone remained. The earth cracked open, and through the chinks light broke into Tartarus, and frightened the king of shadows and his queen. The sea shrank up. Even Nereus and his wife Doris, with the Nereids, their daughters, sought the deepest caves for refuge. Thrice Neptune essayed to raise his head above the surface, and thrice was driven back by the heat. Earth, surrounded as she was by waters, yet with head and shoulders bare, screening her face with her hand, looked up to heaven, and with husky voice prayed Jupiter if it were his will that she should perish by fire, to end her agony at once by his thunderbolts, or else to consider his own heaven, how both the poles were smoking that sustained his palace, and that all must fall if they were destroyed.
Earth, overcome with heat and thirst, could say no more. Then Jupiter, calling the gods to witness that all was lost unless some speedy remedy were applied, thundered, brandished a lightning bolt in his right hand, launched it against the charioteer, and struck him at the same moment from his seat and from existence. Phaeton, with his hair on fire, fell headlong, like a shooting star which marks the heavens with its brightness as it falls, and Endanus, the great river, received him and cooled his burning frame. His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate, were turned into poplar trees, on the banks of the river; and their tears, which continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the stream. The Italian Naiads reared a tomb for him, and inscribed these words upon the stone : —
"Driver of Phoebus' chariot, Phaeton,
§ 76. It was not, however, only by accident, or by the ill-advised action of those whom he loved, that Apollo's gifts of light and heat were turned into misfortunes. Mortals who offended him were levelled by the cruel sunstroke, by arrows of malarial venom, of manifold sickness and death.
The Plague sent upon the Greeks before Troy. —When the host of the Achaeans was encamped before Troy, the king of men, Atrides, unjustly declined to restore his captive, Chrysei's of the
1 Hie situs est Phaeton, currus auriga patemi.
The story will be found in the Metam. 3: 1-400.