Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Ch. 1: Hymn to Apollo

Mindful, ever mindful, will I be of Apollo the Far-darter. Before him, as he fares through the hall of Zeus, the Gods tremble, yea, rise up all from their thrones as he draws near with his shining bended bow. But Leto alone abides by Zeus, the Lord of Lightning, till Apollo hath slackened his bow and closed his quiver. Then, taking with her hands from his mighty shoulders the bow and quiver, she hangs them against the pillar beside his father's seat from a pin of gold, and leads him to his place and seats him there, while the father welcomes his dear son, giving him nectar in a golden cup; then do the other Gods welcome him; then they make him sit, and Lady Leto rejoices, in that she bore the Lord of the Bow, her mighty son.

[Hail! O blessed Leto; mother of glorious children, Prince Apollo and Artemis the Archer; her in Ortygia, him in rocky Delos didst thou bear, couching against the long sweep of the Cynthian Hill, beside a palm tree, by the streams of Inopus.]

How shall I hymn thee aright, howbeit thou art, in sooth, not hard to hymn? {104} for to thee, Phoebus, everywhere have fallen all the ranges of song, both on the mainland, nurse of young kine, and among the isles; to thee all the cliffs are dear, and the steep mountain crests and rivers running onward to the salt sea, and beaches sloping to the foam, and havens of the deep? Shall I tell how Leto bore thee first, a delight of men, couched by the Cynthian Hill in the rocky island, in sea-girt Delos--on either hand the black wave drives landward at the word of the shrill winds--whence arising thou art Lord over all mortals?

Among them that dwell in Crete, and the people of Athens, and isle AEgina, and Euboea famed for fleets, and AEgae and Peiresiae, and Peparethus by the sea-strand, and Thracian Athos, and the tall crests of Pelion, and Thracian Samos, and the shadowy mountains of Ida, Scyros, and Phocaea, and the mountain wall of Aigocane, and stablished Imbros, and inhospitable Lemnos, and goodly Lesbos, the seat of Makar son of AEolus, and Chios, brightest of all islands of the deep, and craggy Mimas, and the steep crests of Mykale, and gleaming Claros, and the high hills of AEsagee, and watery Samos, and tall ridges of Mycale, and Miletus, and Cos, a city of Meropian men, and steep Cnidos, and windy Carpathus, Naxos and Paros, and rocky Rheneia--so far in travail with the Archer God went Leto, seeking if perchance any land would build a house for her son.

But the lands trembled sore, and were adread, and none, nay not the richest, dared to welcome Phoebus, not till Lady Leto set foot on Delos, and speaking winged words besought her:

"Delos, would that thou wert minded to be the seat of my Son, Phoebus Apollo, and to let build him therein a rich temple! No other God will touch thee, nor none will honour thee, for methinks thou art not to be well seen in cattle or in sheep, in fruit or grain, nor wilt thou grow plants unnumbered. But wert thou to possess a temple of Apollo the Far- darter; then would all men bring thee hecatombs, gathering to thee, and ever wilt thou have savour of sacrifice . . . from others' hands, albeit thy soil is poor."

Thus spoke she, and Delos was glad and answered her saying:

"Leto, daughter most renowned of mighty Coeus, right gladly would I welcome the birth of the Archer Prince, for verily of me there goes an evil report among men, and thus would I wax mightiest of renown. But at this Word, Leto, I tremble, nor will I hide it from thee, for the saying is that Apollo will be mighty of mood, and mightily will lord it over mortals and immortals far and wide over the earth, the grain-giver. Therefore, I deeply dread in heart and soul lest, when first he looks upon the sunlight, he disdain my island, for rocky of soil am I, and spurn me with his feet and drive me down in the gulfs of the salt sea. Then should a great sea-wave wash mightily above my head for ever, but he will fare to another land, which so pleases him, to fashion him a temple and groves of trees. But in me would many-footed sea-beasts and black seals make their chambers securely, no men dwelling by me. Nay, still, if thou hast the heart, Goddess, to swear a great oath that here first he will build a beautiful temple, to be the shrine oracular of men--thereafter among all men let him raise him shrines, since his renown shall be the widest."

So spake she, but Leto swore the great oath of the Gods:

"Bear witness, Earth, and the wide heaven above, and dropping water of Styx--the greatest oath and the most dread among the blessed Gods--that verily here shall ever be the fragrant altar and the portion of Apollo, and thee will he honour above all."

When she had sworn and done that oath, then Delos was glad in the birth of the Archer Prince. But Leto, for nine days and nine nights continually was pierced with pangs of child-birth beyond all hope. With her were all the Goddesses, the goodliest, Dione and Rheia, and Ichnaean Themis, and Amphitrite of the moaning sea, and the other deathless ones--save white-armed Hera. Alone she wotted not of it, Eilithyia, the helper in difficult travail. For she sat on the crest of Olympus beneath the golden clouds, by the wile of white-armed Hera, who held her afar in jealous grudge, because even then fair-tressed Leto was about bearing her strong and noble son.

But the Goddesses sent forth Iris from the fair-stablished isle, to bring Eilithyia, promising her a great necklet, golden with amber studs, nine cubits long. Iris they bade to call Eilithyia apart from white-armed Hera, lest even then the words of Hera might turn her from her going. But wind-footed swift Iris heard, and fleeted forth, and swiftly she devoured the space between. So soon as she came to steep Olympus, the dwelling of the Gods, she called forth Eilithyia from hall to door, and spake winged words, even all that the Goddesses of Olympian mansions had bidden her. Thereby she won the heart in Eilithyia's breast, and forth they fared, like timid wild doves in their going.

Even when Eilithyia, the helper in sore travailing, set foot in Delos, then labour took hold on Leto, and a passion to bring to the birth. Around a palm tree she cast her arms, and set her knees on the soft meadow, while earth beneath smiled, and forth leaped the babe to light, and all the Goddesses raised a cry. Then, great Phoebus, the Goddesses washed thee in fair water, holy and purely, and wound thee in white swaddling bands, delicate, new woven, with a golden girdle round thee. Nor did his mother suckle Apollo the golden-sworded, but Themis with immortal hands first touched his lips with nectar and sweet ambrosia, while Leto rejoiced, in that she had borne her strong son, the bearer of the bow.

Then Phoebus, as soon as thou hadst tasted the food of Paradise, the golden bands were not proof against thy pantings, nor bonds could bind thee, but all their ends were loosened. Straightway among the Goddesses spoke Phoebus Apollo: "Mine be the dear lyre and bended bow, and I will utter to men the unerring counsel of Zeus."

So speaking, he began to fare over the wide ways of earth, Phoebus of the locks unshorn, Phoebus the Far-darter. Thereon all the Goddesses were in amaze, and all Delos blossomed with gold, as when a hilltop is heavy with woodland flowers, beholding the child of Zeus and Leto, and glad because the God had chosen her wherein to set his home, beyond mainland and isles, and loved her most at heart.

But thyself, O Prince of the Silver Bow, far-darting Apollo, didst now pass over rocky Cynthus, now wander among temples and men. Many are thy fanes and groves, and dear are all the headlands, and high peaks of lofty hills, and rivers flowing onward to the sea; but with Delos, Phoebus, art thou most delighted at heart, where the long-robed Ionians gather in thine honour, with children and shame-fast wives. Mindful of thee they delight thee with boxing, and dances, and minstrelsy in their games. Who so then encountered them at the gathering of the Ionians, would say that they are exempt from eld and death, beholding them so gracious, and would be glad at heart, looking on the men and fair-girdled women, and their much wealth, and their swift galleys. Moreover, there is this great marvel of renown imperishable, the Delian damsels, hand-maidens of the Far-darter. They, when first they have hymned Apollo, and next Leto and Artemis the Archer, then sing in memory of the men and women of old time, enchanting the tribes of mortals. And they are skilled to mimic the notes and dance music of all men, so that each would say himself were singing, so well woven is their fair chant.

But now come, be gracious, Apollo, be gracious, Artemis; and ye maidens all, farewell, but remember me even in time to come, when any of earthly men, yea, any stranger that much hath seen and much endured, comes hither and asks:

"Maidens, who is the sweetest to you of singers here conversant, and in whose song are ye most glad?"

Then do you all with one voice make answer:

"A blind man is he, and he dwells in rocky Chios; his songs will ever have the mastery, ay, in all time to come."

But I shall bear my renown of you as far as I wander over earth to the fairest cities of men, and they will believe my report, for my word is true. But, for me, never shall I cease singing of Apollo of the Silver Bow, the Far-darter, whom fair-tressed Leto bore.

O Prince, Lycia is thine, and pleasant Maeonia, and Miletus, a winsome city by the sea, and thou, too, art the mighty lord of sea-washed Delos.



THE FOUNDING OF DELPHI


The son of glorious Leto fares harping on his hollow harp to rocky Pytho, clad in his fragrant raiment that waxes not old, and beneath the golden plectrum winsomely sounds his lyre. Thence from earth to Olympus, fleet as thought, he goes to the House of Zeus, into the Consistory of the other Gods, and anon the Immortals bethink them of harp and minstrelsy. And all the Muses together with sweet voice in antiphonal chant replying, sing of the imperishable gifts of the Gods, and the sufferings of men, all that they endure from the hands of the undying Gods, lives witless and helpless, men unavailing to find remede for death or buckler against old age. Then the fair-tressed Graces and boon Hours, and Harmonia, and Hebe, and Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, dance, holding each by the wrist the other's hand, while among them sings one neither unlovely, nor of body contemptible, but divinely tall and fair, Artemis the Archer, nurtured with Apollo. Among them sport Ares, and the keen-eyed Bane of Argos, while Phoebus Apollo steps high and disposedly, playing the lyre, and the light issues round him from twinkling feet and fair-woven raiment. But all they are glad, seeing him so high of heart, Leto of the golden tresses, and Zeus the Counsellor, beholding their dear son as he takes his pastime among the deathless Gods.

How shall I hymn thee aright, howbeit thou art, in sooth, not hard to hymn? Shall I sing of thee in love and dalliance; how thou wentest forth to woo the maiden Azanian, with Ischys, peer of Gods, and Elation's son of the goodly steeds, or with Phorbas, son of Triopes, or Amarynthus, or how with Leucippus and Leucippus' wife, thyself on foot, he in the chariot . . .? {115} Or how first, seeking a place of oracle for men, thou camest down to earth, far-darting Apollo?

On Pieria first didst thou descend from Olympus, and pass by Lacmus, and Emathia, and Enienae, and through Perrhaebia, and speedily camest to Iolcus, and alight on Cenaeum in Euboea, renowned for galleys. On the Lelantian plain thou stoodest, but it pleased thee not there to stablish a temple and a grove. Thence thou didst cross Euripus, far-darting Apollo, and fare up the green hill divine, and thence camest speedily to Mycalessus and Teumesos of the bedded meadow grass, and thence to the place of woodclad Thebe, for as yet no mortals dwelt in Holy Thebe, nor yet were paths nor ways along Thebe's wheat-bearing plain, but all was wild wood.

Thence forward journeying, Apollo, thou camest to Onchestus, the bright grove of Poseidon. There the new-broken colt takes breath again, weary though he be with dragging the goodly chariot; and to earth, skilled though he be, leaps down the charioteer, and fares on foot, while the horses for a while rattle along the empty car, with the reins on their necks, and if the car be broken in the grove of trees, their masters tend them there, and tilt the car and let it lie. Such is the rite from of old, and they pray to the King Poseidon, while the chariot is the God's portion to keep.

Thence faring forward, far-darting Apollo, thou didst win to Cephisus of the fair streams, that from Lilaea pours down his beautiful waters, which crossing, Far-darter, and passing Ocalea of the towers, thou camest thereafter to grassy Haliartus. Then didst thou set foot on Telphusa, and to thee the land seemed exceeding good wherein to stablish a temple and a grove.

Beside Telphusa didst thou stand, and spake to her: "Telphusa, here methinketh to stablish a fair temple, an oracle for men, who, ever seeking for the word of sooth, will bring me hither perfect hecatombs, even they that dwell in the rich isle of Pelops, and all they of the mainland and sea-girt islands. To them all shall I speak the decree unerring, rendering oracles within my rich temple."

So spake Phoebus, and thoroughly marked out the foundations, right long and wide. But at the sight the heart of Telphusa waxed wroth, and she spake her word:

"Phoebus, far-darting Prince, a word shall I set in thy heart. Here thinkest thou to stablish a goodly temple, to be a place of oracle for men, that ever will bring thee hither perfect hecatombs--nay, but this will I tell thee, and do thou lay it up in thine heart. The never-ending din of swift steeds will be a weariness to thee, and the watering of mules from my sacred springs. There men will choose rather to regard the well-wrought chariots, and the stamping of the swift-footed steeds, than thy great temple and much wealth therein. But an if thou--that art greater and better than I, O Prince, and thy strength is most of might--if thou wilt listen to me, in Crisa build thy fane beneath a glade of Parnassus. There neither will goodly chariots ring, nor wilt thou be vexed with stamping of swift steeds about thy well-builded altar, but none the less shall the renowned tribes of men bring their gifts to Iepaeon, and delighted shalt thou gather the sacrifices of them who dwell around."

Therewith she won over the heart of the Far-darter, even that to Telphusa herself should be honour in that land, and not to the Far-darter.

Thenceforward didst thou fare, far-darting Apollo, and camest to the city of the overweening Phlegyae, that reckless of Zeus dwelt there in a goodly glade by the Cephisian mere. Thence fleetly didst thou speed to the ridge of the hills, and camest to Crisa beneath snowy Parnassus, to a knoll that faced westward, but above it hangs a cliff, and a hollow dell runs under, rough with wood, and even there Prince Phoebus Apollo deemed well to build a goodly temple, and spake, saying: "Here methinketh to stablish a right fair temple, to be a place oracular to men, that shall ever bring me hither goodly hecatombs, both they that dwell in rich Peloponnesus, and they of the mainland and sea-girt isles, seeking here the word of sooth; to them all shall I speak the decree unerring, rendering oracles within my wealthy shrine."

So speaking, Phoebus Apollo marked out the foundations, right long and wide, and thereon Trophonius and Agamedes laid the threshold of stone, the sons of Erginus, dear to the deathless Gods. But round all the countless tribes of men built a temple with wrought stones to be famous for ever in song.

Hard by is a fair-flowing stream, and there, with an arrow from his strong bow, did the Prince, the son of Zeus, slay the Dragoness, mighty and huge, a wild Etin, that was wont to wreak many woes on earthly men, on themselves, and their straight-stepping flocks, so dread a bane was she.

[This Dragoness it was that took from golden-throned Hera and reared the dread Typhaon, not to be dealt with, a bane to mortals. Him did Hera bear, upon a time, in wrath with father Zeus, whenas Cronides brought forth from his head renowned Athene. Straightway lady Hera was angered, and spake among the assembled Gods:

"Listen to me, ye Gods, and Goddesses all, how cloud-collecting Zeus is first to begin the dishonouring of me, though he made me his wife in honour. And now, apart from me, he has brought forth grey-eyed Athene who excels among all the blessed Immortals. But he was feeble from the birth, among all the Gods, my son Hephaestos, lame and withered of foot, whom I myself lifted in my hands, and cast into the wide sea. But the daughter of Nereus, Thetis of the silver feet, received him and nurtured him among her sisters. Would that she had done other grace to the blessed Immortals!

"Thou evil one of many wiles, what other wile devisest thou? How hadst thou the heart now alone to bear grey-eyed Athene? Could I not have borne her? But none the less would she have been called thine among the Immortals, who hold the wide heaven. Take heed now, that I devise not for thee some evil to come. Yea, now shall I use arts whereby a child of mine shall be born, excelling among the immortal Gods, without dishonouring thy sacred bed or mine, for verily to thy bed I will not come, but far from thee will nurse my grudge against the Immortal Gods."

So spake she, and withdrew from among the Gods with angered heart. Right so she made her prayer, the ox-eyed lady Hera, striking the earth with her hand flatlings, {121} and spake her word:

"Listen to me now, Earth, and wide Heavens above, and ye Gods called Titans, dwelling beneath earth in great Tartarus, ye from whom spring Gods and men! List to me now, all of you, and give me a child apart from Zeus, yet nothing inferior to him in might, nay, stronger than he, as much as far-seeing Zeus is mightier than Cronus!"

So spake she, and smote the ground with her firm hand. Then Earth, the nurse of life, was stirred, and Hera, beholding it, was glad at heart, for she deemed that her prayer would be accomplished. From that hour for a full year she never came to the bed of wise Zeus, nor to her throne adorned, whereon she was wont to sit, planning deep counsel, but dwelling in her temples, the homes of Prayers, she took joy in her sacrifices, the ox-eyed lady Hera.

Now when her months and days were fulfilled, the year revolving, and the seasons in their course coming round, she bare a birth like neither Gods nor mortals, the dread Typhaon, not to be dealt with, a bane of men. Him now she took, the ox-eyed lady Hera, and carried and gave to the Dragoness, to bitter nurse a bitter fosterling, who received him, that ever wrought many wrongs among the renowned tribes of men.]

Whosoever met the Dragoness, on him would she bring the day of destiny, before the Prince, far-darting Apollo, loosed at her the destroying shaft; then writhing in strong anguish, and mightily panting she lay, rolling about the land. Dread and dire was the din, as she writhed hither and thither through the wood, and gave up the ghost, and Phoebus spoke his malison:

"There do thou rot upon the fruitful earth; no longer shalt thou, at least, live to be the evil bane of mortals that eat the fruit of the fertile soil, and hither shall bring perfect hecatombs. Surely from thee neither shall Typhoeus, nay, nor Chimaera of the evil name, shield death that layeth low, but here shall black earth and bright Hyperion make thee waste away."

So he spake in malison, and darkness veiled her eyes, and there the sacred strength of the sun did waste her quite away. Whence now the place is named Pytho, and men call the Prince "Pythian" for that deed, for even there the might of the swift sun made corrupt the monster. {124}

Then Phoebus Apollo was ware in his heart that the fair-flowing spring, Telphusa, had beguiled him, and in wrath he went to her, and swiftly came, and standing close by her, spoke his word:

"Telphusa, thou wert not destined to beguile my mind, nor keep the winsome lands and pour forth thy fair waters. Nay, here shall my honour also dwell, not thine alone." So he spoke, and overset a rock, with a shower of stones, and hid her streams, the Prince, far-darting Apollo. And he made an altar in a grove of trees, hard by the fair-flowing stream, where all men name him in prayer, "the Prince Telphusian," for that he shamed the streams of sacred Telphusa. Then Phoebus Apollo considered in his heart what men he should bring in to be his ministers, and to serve him in rocky Pytho. While he was pondering on this, he beheld a swift ship on the wine-dark sea, and aboard her many men and good, Cretans from Minoan Cnossus, such as do sacrifice to the God, and speak the doom of Phoebus Apollo of the Golden Sword, what word soever he utters of sooth from the daphne in the dells of Parnassus. For barter and wealth they were sailing in the black ship to sandy Pylos, and the Pylian men. Anon Phoebus Apollo set forth to meet them, leaping into the sea upon the swift ship in the guise of a dolphin, and there he lay, a portent great and terrible.

[Of the crew, whosoever sought in heart to comprehend what he was . . . On all sides he kept swaying to and fro, and shaking the timbers of the galley.] But all they sat silent and in fear aboard the ship, nor loosed the sheets, nor the sail of the black-prowed galley; nay, even as they had first set the sails so they voyaged onward, the strong south-wind speeding on the vessel from behind. First they rounded Malea, and passed the Laconian land and came to Helos, a citadel by the sea, and Taenarus, the land of Helios, that is the joy of mortals, where ever feed the deep- fleeced flocks of Prince Helios, and there hath he his glad demesne. There the crew thought to stay the galley, and land and consider of the marvel, and see whether that strange thing will abide on the deck of the hollow ship or leap again into the swell of the fishes' home. But the well-wrought ship did not obey the rudder, but kept ever on her way beyond rich Peloponnesus, Prince Apollo lightly guiding it by the gale. So accomplishing her course she came to Arene, and pleasant Arguphea, and Thryon, the ford of Alpheius, and well-builded Aepu, and sandy Pylos, and the Pylian men, and ran by Crounoi, and Chalcis, and Dyme, and holy Elis, where the Epeians bear sway. Then rejoicing in the breeze of Zeus, she was making for Pherae, when to them out of the clouds showed forth the steep ridge of Ithaca, and Dulichium, and Same, and wooded Zacynthus. Anon when she had passed beyond all Peloponnesus, there straightway, off Crisa, appeared the wide sound, that bounds rich Peloponnesus. Then came on the west wind, clear and strong, by the counsel of Zeus, blowing hard out of heaven, that the running ship might swiftest accomplish her course over the salt water of the sea.

Backward then they sailed towards the Dawn and the sun, and the Prince was their guide, Apollo, son of Zeus. Then came they to far-seen Crisa, the land of vines, into the haven, while the sea-faring ship beached herself on the shingle. Then from the ship leaped the Prince, far-darting Apollo, like a star at high noon, while the gledes of fire flew from him, and the splendour flashed to the heavens. Into his inmost Holy Place he went through the precious tripods, and in the midst he kindled a flame showering forth his shafts, and the splendour filled all Crisa, {127} and the wives of the Crisaeans, and their fair-girdled daughters raised a wail at the rushing flight of Phoebus, for great fear fell upon all. Thence again to the galley he set forth and flew, fleet as a thought, in shape a man lusty and strong, in his first youth, his locks swathing his wide shoulders. Anon he spake to the seamen winged words:

"Strangers, who are ye, whence sail ye the wet ways? Is it after merchandise, or do ye wander at adventure, over the salt sea, as sea-robbers use, that roam staking their own lives, and bearing bane to men of strange speech? Why sit ye thus adread, not faring forth on the land, nor slackening the gear of your black ship? Sure this is the wont of toilsome mariners, when they come from the deep to the land in their black ship, foredone with labour, and anon a longing for sweet food seizes their hearts."

So spake he, and put courage in their breasts, and the leader of the Cretans answered him, saying:

"Stranger, behold thou art no whit like unto mortal men in shape or growth, but art a peer of the Immortals, wherefore all hail, and grace be thine, and all good things at the hands of the Gods. Tell me then truly that I may know indeed, what people is this, what land, what mortals dwell here? Surely with our thoughts set on another goal we sailed the great sea to Pylos from Crete, whence we boast our lineage; but now it is hither that we have come, maugre our wills, with our galley--another path and other ways--we longing to return, but some God has led us all unwilling to this place."

Then the far-darting Apollo answered them:

"Strangers, who dwelt aforetime round wooded Cnossus, never again shall ye return each to his pleasant city and his own house, and his wife, but here shall ye hold my rich temple, honoured by multitudes of men. Lo! I am the son of Zeus, and name myself Apollo, and hither have I brought you over the great gulf of the sea, with no evil intent. Nay, here shall ye possess my rich temple, held highest in honour among all men, and ye shall know the counsels of the Immortals, by whose will ye shall ever be held in renown. But now come, and instantly obey my word. First lower the sails, and loose the sheets, and then beach the black ship on the land, taking forth the wares and gear of the trim galley, and build ye an altar on the strand of the sea. Thereon kindle fire, and sprinkle above in sacrifice the white barley-flour, and thereafter pray, standing around the altar. And whereas I first, in the misty sea, sprang aboard the swift ship in the guise of a dolphin, therefore pray to me as Apollo Delphinius, while mine shall ever be the Delphian altar seen from afar. Then take ye supper beside the swift black ship, and pour libations to the blessed Gods who hold Olympus. But when ye have dismissed the desire of sweet food then with me do ye come, singing the Paean, till ye win that place where ye shall possess the rich temple."

So spake he, while they heard and obeyed eagerly. First they lowered the sails, loosing the sheets, and lowering the mast by the forestays, they laid it in the mast-stead, and themselves went forth on the strand of the sea. Then forth from the salt sea to the mainland they dragged the fleet ship high up on the sands, laying long sleepers thereunder, and they builded an altar on the sea-strand, and lit fire thereon, scattering above white barley-flour in sacrifice, and, standing around the altar, they prayed as the God commanded. Anon they took supper beside the fleet black ship, and poured forth libations to the blessed Gods who hold Olympus. But when they had dismissed the desire of meat and drink they set forth on their way, and the Prince Apollo guided them, harp in hand, and sweetly he harped, faring with high and goodly strides. Dancing in his train the Cretans followed to Pytho, and the Paean they were chanting, the paeans of the Cretans in whose breasts the Muse hath put honey-sweet song. All unwearied they strode to the hill, and swiftly were got to Parnassus and a winsome land, where they were to dwell, honoured of many among men.

Apollo guided them, and showed his holy shrine and rich temple, and the spirit was moved in their breasts, and the captain of the Cretans spake, and asked the God, saying:

"Prince, since thou hast led us far from friends and our own country, for so it pleases thee, how now shall we live, we pray thee tell us. This fair land bears not vines, nor is rich in meadows, wherefrom we might live well, and minister to men."

Then, smiling, Apollo, the son of Zeus, spoke to them:

"Foolish ones, enduring hearts, who desire cares, and sore toil, and all straits! A light word will I speak to you, do ye consider it. Let each one of you, knife in right hand, be ever slaughtering sheep that in abundance shall ever be yours, all the flocks that the renowned tribes of men bring hither to me. Yours it is to guard my temple, and receive the tribes of men that gather hither, doing, above all, as my will enjoins. But if any vain word be spoken, or vain deed wrought, or violence after the manner of mortal men, then shall others be your masters, and hold you in thraldom for ever. {133} I have spoken all, do thou keep it in thy heart."

Even so, fare thou well, son of Zeus and Leto, but I shall remember both thee and another song.


Andrew Lang