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Herakles solemnly replied, "Not yet
Is it allowable thou hear the things
She has to tell thee; let evanish quite
That consecration to the lower Gods,
And on our upper world the third day rise!
Lead her in, meanwhile; good and true thou art,
Good, true, remain thou! Practise piety
To stranger-guests the old way! So, farewell!
Since forth I fare, fulfil my urgent task
Set by the king, the son of Sthenelos." 1
§ 82. Apollo, the Musician.—Not only in Arcadia, Laconia, and Thessaly did Apollo care, as a herdsman, for the cattle of a mortal master; in Mount Ida, too, by the order of Jupiter he herded for a year the "shambling, crook-horned kine" of King Laomedon, and, playing on the lyre, aided Neptune to build the walls of Troy, just as Amphion, in his turn, had aided in the building of Thebes. Apollo's life as herdsman was spent in establishing wise laws and customs, in musical contests on the flute, and the lyre, or in passages of love with nymphs and maidens of mortal mould.
§ 83. Apollo, Pan, and Midas.3 — It is said that on a certain occasion Pan had the temerity to compare his music with that of Apollo, and to challenge the god of the lyre to a trial of skill. The challenge was accepted, and Tmolus, the mountain-god, was chosen umpire. The senior took his seat, and cleared away the trees from his ears to listen. At a given signal Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower Midas, who happened to be present. Then Tmolus turned his head toward the sun-god, and all his trees turned with him. Apollo rose; his brow wreathed with Parnassian laurel, while his robe of Tyrian purple swept the ground. In his left hand he held the lyre, and with his right hand struck the strings. Tmolus at once awarded the victory to the lyric god, and all but Midas acquiesced in the judgment. He dissented, and
1 For the originals, see Iliad 2:715, and the Alcestis of Euripides.
2 Ovid, Metam. 11: 146-193.
questioned the justice of the award. Apollo promptly transformed his depraved pair of ears into those of an ass.
King Midas tried to hide his misfortune under an ample turban. But his hair-dresser found it too much for his discretion to keep such a secret; he dug a hole in the ground, and, stooping down, whispered the story, and covered it up. But a thick bed of reeds springing up in the meadow began whispering the story; and has continued to do so from that day to this, every time a breeze passes over the place.
In the following "Hymn,"1 Pan taunts Apollo as he might have done when Midas was sitting contentedly by:
From the forests and highlands
We come, we come; From the river-girt islands,
Where loud waves are dumb, Listening to my sweet pipings. The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
The bees on the bells of thyme,
The cicale above in the lime,
Liquid Peneiis was flowing,
And all dark Tempe lay,
The light of the dying day,
1 Shelley, Hymn of Pan.
Speeded by my sweet pipings.
And the Nymphs of the woods and waves,
And the brink of the dewy caves,
I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal Earth,
I pursued a maiden, and clasp'd a reed:
It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed:
§ 84. The Loves of Apollo. — Beside Psamathe of Argos,1 Coronis of Thessaly,2 and the nymph Clymene,3 Apollo loved the muse Calliope, who bore him Orpheus,4 and the nymph Cyrene, whose son was Aristaeus.5 Of his relations with two other maidens the following myths exist.
§ 85. Daphne.6—The lord of the silver bow was not always prosperous in his wooing. His first love, which, by the way, owed its origin to the malice of Cupid, — was specially unfortunate. It appears that Apollo, seeing the boy playing with his bow and arrows, had tauntingly advised him to leave warlike weapons for hands worthy of them and content himself with the torch of love. Whereupon the son of Venus had rejoined, "Thine arrows may strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike thee."
So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, — one to excite love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the rivergod Peneiis, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart. Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, but she, more than ever, abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight was in woodland sports and in the spoils of the chase. Spurning all lovers, she prayed her father that she might remain always unmarried, like Diana. He consented, but, at the same time, warned her that her beauty would defeat her purpose. It. was the face of this huntress-maiden that Apollo saw. He saw the charming disorder of her hair, and would have arranged it; he saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and was not satisfied with only seeing them. He longed for Daphne. He followed her; she fled, swifter than the wind, nor delayed a moment at his entreaties. "Stay," said he, " daughter of Peneiis; I am not a foe. It is for love I pursue thee. I am no clown, no rude peasant. Jupiter is my father. I am lord of Delphi and Tenedos. I know all things, present and future. I am the god of song and the lyre. My arrows fly true to the mark; but alas! an arrow more fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I am the god of medicine, and know the virtues of all healing plants. Alas! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure."
The nymph continues her flight, and leaves his plea half uttered. But even as she flies she charms him. The wind catches her garments, and her unbound hair streams loose behind her. The god, sped by Cupid, gains upon her in the race. His panting breath blows upon her hair. Her strength begins to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river-god: "Help me, Peneiis! open the earth to enclose me, or change my form, which has brought me into this danger!" Scarcely had she spoken, when a stiffness seized her limbs; and little by little she took on the appearance of a laurel tree. Apollo embraced the branches, and lavished kisses on the wood. The branches shrank from his lips. "Since thou canst not be my wife," said he, "thou shalt assuredly be my tree. I will wear thee for my crown. I will decorate with thee my harp and my quiver. When the Roman conquerors conduct the triumphal pomp to the Capitol, thou shalt be woven into wreaths for their brows. And, as eternal youth is mine, thou also shalt be always green, and thy leaf know no decay." The laurel tree bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.
The delicious humor of Lowell's extravaganza upon the story amply justifies the following citation : —
Phoebus, sitting one day in a laurel tree's shade,
Was reminded of Daphne, of whom it was made,
For the god being one day too warm in his wooing,
She took to the tree to escape his pursuing;
Be the cause what it might, from his offers she shrunk,
And, Ginevra-like, shut herself up in a trunk;
And, though 'twas a step into which he had driven her,
He somehow or other had never forgiven her;
Her memory he nursed as a kind of a tonic,
Something bitter to chew when he'd play the Byronic,
And I can't count the obstinate nymphs that he brought over
By a strange kind of smile he put on when he thought of her.
"My case is like Dido's," he sometimes remarked;
"When I last saw my love, she was fairly embarked
In a laurel, as she thought — but (ah, how Fate mocks!)
She has found it by this time a very bad box;
Let hunters from me take this saw when they need it,—
You're not always sure of your game when you've treed it.
Just conceive such a change taking place in one's mistress!
What romance would be left? — who can flatter or kiss trees?
And, for mercy's sake, how could one keep up a dialogue
With a dull wooden thing that will live and will die a log,—
Not to say that the thought would forever intrude
That you've less chance to win her the more she is wood?
Ah! it went to my heart, and the memory still grieves.
To see those loved graces all taking their leaves;
Those charms beyond speech, so enchanting but now,
As they left me forever, each making its bough!