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fair cheeks, to her father Chryses, the priest of far-darting Apollo. Then the aged Chryses went apart, and prayed aloud, " Hear me,
god of the silver bow, ... let the Danaans pay by thine arrows for my tears!"
So spake he in prayer; and Phoebus Apollo heard him, and came down from the peaks of Olympus wroth at heart, bearing on his shoulders his bow and covered quiver. And the arrows clanged upon his shoulders in his wrath, as the god moved; and he descended like to night. Then he sate him aloof from the ships, and let an arrow fly; and there was heard a dread clanging of the silver bow. First did he assail the mules and fleet dogs, but afterward, aiming at the men his piercing dart, he smote; and the pyres of the dead burnt continually in multitude. Nor until Agamemnon had sent back his winsome captive to her father did Apollo remove from the Danaans the loathsome pestilence.1
§ 77. The Punishment of Niobe is another illustration of the swift and awful vengeance of Apollo, and also of his sister Diana. This Niobe was the daughter of a certain Tantalus, king of Phrygia, who had been received at the table of the gods by his father, Jupiter. But there was a strain of ingratitude and conceit in both father and daughter. The father not only betrayed the secrets of the gods, but, to ridicule their reputed omniscience, attempted, at a banquet, to deceive them into eating the roasted flesh of his own son Pelops. The gods were not deceived. Pelops was restored to life, — Tantalus consigned to Tartarus. The daughter, Niobe, although she owed her happy marriage with Jupiter's son Amphion, and her seven stalwart sons and seven blooming daughters, to the favor of the gods, and of Latona in particular, boasted of her birth, her marriage, and her offspring, bragged of her superiority to Latona, and, on one occasion, scoffed at the annual celebration in
1 From Lang, Leaf & Myers's Iliad, 1: 43-52.
honor of the goddess and her two children. Surveying the people of Thebes with haughty glance, she said, "What folly to prefer beings whom you have never seen to those who stand before your eyes! Will you prefer to me this Latona, the Titan's daughter, with her two children? I have seven times as many. Were I to lose some of my children, I should hardly be left as poor as Latona with her two only. Put off the laurel from your brows, — have done with this worship 1" The people left the sacred services uncompleted.
The goddess was indignant. On the Cynthian mountain top she thus addressed her son and daughter: "My children, I who have been so proud of you both, and have been used to hold myself second to none of the goddesses except Juno alone, begin now to doubt whether I am indeed a goddess. I shall be deprived of my worship altogether unless you protect me." She was proceeding in this strain, but Apollo interrupted her. "Say no more," said he; "speech only delays punishment." So said Diana also. Darting through the air, veiled in clouds, they alighted on the towers of the city. Spread out before the gates was a broad plain, where the youth of the city pursued their warlike sports. The sons of Niobe were there with the rest, — some mounted on spirited horses richly caparisoned, some driving gay chariots. Ismenos, the first-born, as he guided his foaming steeds, was struck by an arrow from above. "Ah me !" he cried, —dropped the reins and fell lifeless. Another, hearing the sound of the bow, gave the rein to his horses and attempted to escape. The inevitable arrow overtook him as he fled. Two others, younger, stood, wrestling, breast to breast: one arrow pierced them both. Alphenor, an elder brother, hastened to the spot to render assistance, but fell in the act of brotherly duty. One only was left, Ilioneus. "Spare me, ye gods!" he cried, addressing all of them, in his ignorance that all needed not his supplication; and Apollo would have spared him, but the arrow had already left the string, and it was too late.
When Niobe was acquainted with what had taken place, she was indignant that the gods had dared and amazed that they had been able to do it. Her husband, Amphion, overwhelmed with the blow, destroyed himself. But the mother knelt over the lifeless bodies, and kissed them Raising her pallid arms to heaven, "Cruel Latona," said she, "satiate thy hard heart, while I follow to the grave my seven sons. Yet where is thy triumph? Bereaved
as I am, I am still richer than thou, my conqueror." Scarce had she spoken, when the bow sounded and struck terror into all hearts except Niobe's alone. She was brave from excess of grief. Her daughters stood in garments of mourning over the biers of their dead brothers. One after another they fell, struck by arrows, beside the corpses that they were bewailing. Only one remained, whom the mother held clasped in her arms, and covered, as it were, with her whole body. "Spare me one, and that the youngest! Oh, spare me one of so many!" she cried; and while she spoke, that one fell dead. Desolate she sat, among sons, daughters, husband, all dead, and seemed torpid with grief. The breeze moved not her hair, no color was on her cheek, her eyes glared fixed and immovable, there was no sign of life about her. Her very tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth, and her veins ceased to convey the tide of life. Her neck bent not, her arms made no gesture, her foot no step. She was changed to stone, within and without. Yet tears continued to flow; and, borne on a whirlwind to her native mountain, she still remains, a mass of rock, from which a trickling stream flows, the tribute of her never-ending grief.1
"Amid nine daughters slain by Artemis
'Thou heardest, Artemis, my daily prayer
One prayer remains
For me to offer yet.
More than nine arrows: bend thy bow; aim here!
§ 78. The Lamentation for Linus. — How the people of Argos fell under the displeasure of Apollo is told in the story of Linus, a beautiful son of Apollo and Psamathe. In fear of her father the king, Psamathe exposed the child on the mountains, where, brought up by shepherds among the lambs, he was in tender youth torn to pieces by dogs. Meanwhile Psamathe, herself, was driven from her father's home, wherefore Apollo sent against the land of the Argives a monster that for a season destroyed the children, but at last was slain by a noble youth named Corcebus. To appease the wrathful
deity, a shrine was erected midway between Argos and Delphi; and every year Linus and his mother were bewailed in melancholy lays by the mothers and children of Argos, especially by such as had lost by death their own beloved.
§ 79. .Ssculapius.—The Thessalian princess Coronis (or the Messenian, Arsinoe) bore to Apollo a child who was named yEsculapius. On his mother's death the infant was intrusted to the charge of Chiron, most famous of the Centaurs, himself instructed by Apollo and Diana in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy. When the sage returned to his home bearing the infant, his daughter Ocyrrhoe came forth to meet him, and at sight of the child burst into a prophetic strain, foretelling the glory that he should achieve, ^isculapius, when grown up, became a renowned physician j in one instance he even succeeded in restoring the dead to life. Pluto resented this; and, at his request, Jupiter struck the bold physician with lightning and killed him, but after his death received him into the number of the gods.1
§ 80. Apollo in Exile. — Apollo, indignant at the destruction of this son, wreaked his vengeance on the innocent workmen who had made the thunderbolt. These were the Cyclopes, who had their workshop under Mount ^Etna, from which the smoke and flames of their furnaces are constantly issuing. Apollo shot his arrows at the Cyclopes, a deed which so incensed Jupiter that he condemned him to serve a mortal for the space of one year. Accordingly, Apollo went into the service of Admetus, king of Thessaly, and pastured his flocks for him on the verdant banks of the river Amphrysus. How the god lived among men, and what they thought of him, is well told in the following verses: —
1 Cicero, Natura Deorum, 3, 23.