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Ch. 11: Golden Fleece, Medea,The Calydonian Hunt

In very ancient times there lived in Thessaly a king and queen
named Athamas and Nephele. They had two children, a boy and a
girl. After a time Athamas grew indifferent to his wife, put her
away, and took another. Nephele suspected danger to her children
from the influence of the step-mother, and took measures to send
them out of her reach. Mercury assisted her, and gave her a ram,
with a GOLDEN FLEECE, on which she set the two children, trusting
that the ram would convey them to a place of safety. The ram
sprung into the air with the children on his back, taking his
course to the east, till when crossing the strait that divides
Europe and Asia, the girl, whose name was Helle, fell from his
back into the sea, which from her was called the Hellespont,
now the Dardanelles. The ram continued his career till he
reached the kingdom of Colchis, on the eastern shore of the Black
Sea, where he safely landed the boy Phyrxus, who was hospitably
received by AEetes, the king of the country. Phryxus sacrificed
the ram to Jupiter, and gave the golden fleece to AEetes, who
placed it in a consecrated grove, under the care of a sleepless
dragon.

There was another kingdom in Thessaly near to that of Athamas,
and ruled over by a relative of his. The king AEson, being tired
of the cares of government, surrendered his crown to his brother
Pelias, on condition that he should hold it only during the
minority of Jason, the son of AEson. When Jason was grown up and
came to demand the crown from his uncle, Pelias pretended to be
willing to yield it, but at the same time suggested to the young
man the glorious adventure of going in quest of the golden
fleece, which it was well known was in the kingdom of Colchis,
and was, as Pelias pretended, the rightful property of their
family. Jason was pleased with the thought, and forthwith made
preparations for the expedition. At that time the only species
of navigation known to the Greeks consisted of small boats or
canoes hollowed out from trunks of trees, so that when Jason
employed Argus to build him a vessel capable of containing fifty
men, it was considered a gigantic undertaking. It was
accomplished, however, and the vessel was named the Argo, from
the name of the builder. Jason sent his invitation to all the
adventurous young men of Greece, and soon found himself at the
head of a band of bold youths, many of whom afterwards were
renowned among the heroes and demigods of Greece. Hercules,
Theseus, Orpheus, and Nestor were among them. They are called
the Argonauts, from the name of their vessel.

The Argo with her crew of heroes left the shores of Thessaly and
having touched at the Island of Lemnos, thence crossed to Mysia
and thence to Thrace. Here they found the sage Phineus, and from
him received instruction as to their future course. It seems the
entrance of the Euxine Sea was impeded by two small rocky
islands, which floated on the surface, and in their tossings and
heavings occasionally came together, crushing and grinding to
atoms any object that might be caught between them. They were
called the Symplegades, or Clashing Islands. Phineus instructed
the Argonauts how to pass this dangerous strait. When they
reached the islands they let go a dove, which took her way
between the rocks, and passed in safety, only losing some
feathers of her tail. Jason and his men seized the favorable
moment of the rebound, plied their oars with vigor, and passed
safe through, though the islands closed behind them, and actually
grazed their stern. They now rowed along the shore till they
arrived at the eastern end of the sea, and landed at the kingdom
of Colchis.

Jason made known his message to the Colchian king, AEetes, who
consented to give up the golden fleece if Jason would yoke to the
plough two fire-breathing bulls with brazen feet, and sow the
teeth of the dragon, which Cadmus had slain, and from which it
was well known that a crop of armed men would spring up, who
would turn their weapons against their producer. Jason accepted
the conditions, and a time was set for making the experiment.
Previously, however, he found means to plead his cause to Medea,
daughter of the king. He promised her marriage, and as they
stood before the altar of Hecate, called the goddess to witness
his oath. Medea yielded and by her aid, for she was a potent
sorceress, he was furnished with a charm, by which he could
encounter safely the breath of the fire-breathing bulls and the
weapons of the armed men.

At the time appointed, the people assembled at the grove of Mars,
and the king assumed his royal seat, while the multitude covered
the hill-sides. The brazen-footed bulls rushed in, breathing
fire from their nostrils, that burned up the herbage as they
passed. The sound was like the roar of a furnace, and the smoke
like that of water upon quick-lime. Jason advanced boldly to
meet them. His friends, the chosen heroes of Greece, trembled to
behold him. Regardless of the burning breath, he soothed their
rage with his voice, patted their necks with fearless hands, and
adroitly slipped over them the yoke, and compelled them to drag
the plough. The Colchians were amazed; the Greeks shouted for
joy. Jason next proceeded to sow the dragon's teeth and plough
them in. And soon the crop of armed men sprang up, and wonderful
to relate! no sooner had they reached the surface than they began
to brandish their weapons and rush upon Jason. The Greeks
trembled for their hero, and even she who had provided him a way
of safety and taught him how to use it, Medea herself, grew pale
with fear. Jason for a time kept his assailants at bay with his
sword and shield, till finding their numbers overwhelming, he
resorted to the charm which Medea had taught him, seized a stone
and threw it in the midst of his foes. They immediately turned
their arms against one another, and soon there was not one of the
dragon's brood left alive. The Greeks embraced their hero, and
Medea, if she dared, would have embraced him too.

Then AEetes promised the next day to give them the fleece, and
the Greeks went joyfully down to the Argo with the hero Jason in
their midst. But that night Medea came down to Jason, and bade
him make haste and follow her, for that her father proposed the
next morning to attack the Argonauts and to destroy their ship.
They went together to the grove of Mars, where the golden fleece
hung guarded by the dreadful dragon, who glared at the hero and
his conductor with his great round eyes that never slept. But
Medea was prepared, and began her magic songs and spells, and
sprinkled over him a sleeping potion which she had prepared by
her art. At the smell he relaxed his rage, stood for a moment
motionless, then shut those great round eyes, that had never been
known to shut before, and turned over on his side, fast asleep.
Jason seized the fleece, and with his friends and Medea
accompanying, hastened to their vessel, before AEETES, the king,
could arrest their departure, and made the best of their way back
to Thessaly, where they arrived safe, and Jason delivered the
fleece to Pelias, and dedicated the Argo to Neptune. What became
of the fleece afterwards we do not know, but perhaps it was
found, after all, like many other golden prizes, not worth the
trouble it had cost to procure it.

This is one of those mythological tales, says a modern writer, in
which there is reason to believe that a substratum of truth
exists, though overlaid by a mass of fiction. It probably was
the first important maritime expedition, and like the first
attempts of the kind of all nations, as we know from history, was
probably of a half-piratical character. If rich spoils were the
result, it was enough to give rise to the idea of the golden
fleece.

Another suggestion of a learned mythologist, Bryant, is that it
is a corrupt tradition of the story of Noah and the ark. The
name Argo seems to countenance this, and the incident of the dove
is another confirmation.

Pope, in his Ode on St. Cecelia's Day, thus celebrates the
launching of the ship Argo, and the power of the music of
Orpheus, whom he calls the Thracian:

"So when the first bold vessel dared the seas,
High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain,
While Argo saw her kindred trees
Descend from Pelion to the main.
Transported demigods stood round,
And men grew heroes at the sound."

In Dyer's poem of The Fleece there is an account of the ship Argo
and her crew, which gives a good picture of this primitive
maritime adventure:

"From every region of Aegea's shore
The brave assembled; those illustrious twins,
Castor and Pollux; Orpheus, tuneful bard;
Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed;
Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned.
On deep Iolcos' sandy shore they thronged,
Gleaming in armor, ardent of exploits;
And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone
Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark;
Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand
Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt;
And in the extended keel a lofty mast
Upraised, and sails full swelling; to the chiefs
Unwonted objects. Now first, now they learned
Their bolder steerage over ocean wave,
Led by the golden stars, as Chiron's art
Had marked the sphere celestial."

Hercules left the expedition at Mysia, for Hylas, a youth beloved
by him, having gone for water, was laid hold of and kept by the
nymphs of the spring, who were fascinated by his beauty.
Hercules went in quest of the lad, and while he was absent the
Argo put to sea and left him. Moore, in one of his songs, makes
a beautiful allusion to this incident:

"When Hylas was sent with his urn to the fount,
Through fields full of light and with heart full of play,
Light rambled the boy over meadow and mount,
And neglected his task for the flowers in the way.

"Thus many like me, who in youth should have tasted
The fountain that runs by Philosophy's shrine,
Their time with the flowers on the margin have wasted,
And left their light urns all as empty as mine."

But Hercules, as some say, went onward to Colchis by land, and
there performed many mighty deeds, and wiped away the stain of
cowardice which might have clung to him.


MEDEA AND AESON

Amid the rejoicings for the recovery of the golden Fleece, Jason
felt that one thing was wanting, the presence of AESON, his
father, who was prevented by his age and infirmities from taking
part in them. Jason said to Medea, "My wife, I would that your
arts, whose power I have seen so mighty for my aid, could do me
one further service, and take some years from my life to add them
to my father's." Medea replied, "Not at such a cost shall it be
done, but if my art avails me, his life shall be lengthened
without abridging yours." The next full moon she issued forth
alone, while all creatures slept; not a breath stirred the
foliage, and all was still. To the stars she addressed her
incantations, and to the moon; to Hecate (Hecate was a mysterious
divinity sometimes identified with Diana and sometimes with
Proserpine. As Diana represents the moonlight splendor of night,
so Hecate represents its darkness and terrors. She was the
goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, and was believed to wander by
night along the earth, seen only by the dogs whose barking told
her approach.), the goddess of the underworld, and to Tellus, the
goddess of the earth, by whose power plants potent for
enchantments are produced. She invoked the gods of the woods and
caverns, of mountains and valleys, of lakes and rivers, of winds
and vapors. While she spoke the stars shone brighter, and
presently a chariot descended through the air, drawn by flying
serpents. She ascended it, and, borne aloft, made her way to
distant regions, where potent plants grew which she knew how to
select for her purpose. Nine nights she employed in her search,
and during that time came not within the doors of her palace nor
under any roof, and shunned all intercourse with mortals.

She next erected two altars, the one to Hecate, the other to
Hebe, the goddess of youth, and sacrificed a black sheep, pouring
libations of milk and wine. She implored Pluto and his stolen
bride that they would not hasten to take the old man's life.
Then she directed that AESON should be led forth, and having
thrown him into a deep sleep by a charm, had him laid on a bed of
herbs, like one dead. Jason and all others were kept away from
the place, that no profane eyes might look upon her mysteries.
Then, with streaming hair, she thrice moved round the altars,
dipped flaming twigs in the blood, and laid them thereon to burn.
Meanwhile the caldron with its contents was got ready. In it she
put magic herbs, with seeds and flowers of acrid juice, stones
from the distant East, and sand from the shore of all-surrounding
ocean; hoar frost, gathered by moonlight, a screech-owl's head
and wings, and the entrails of a wolf. She added fragments of
the shells of tortoises, and the liver of stags, animals
tenacious of life, and the head and beak of a crow, that
outlives nine generations of men. These, with many other things
without a name, she boiled together for her purposed work,
stirring them up with a dry olive branch; and behold, the branch
when taken out instantly became green, and before long was
covered with leaves and a plentiful growth of young olives; and
as the liquor boiled and bubbled, and sometimes ran over, the
grass, wherever the sprinklings fell, shot forth with a verdure
like that of spring.

Seeing that all was ready, Medea cut the throat of the old man
and let out all his blood, and poured into his mouth and into his
wound the juices of her caldron. As soon as he had completely
imbibed them, his hair and beard laid by their whiteness and
assumed the blackness of youth; his paleness and emaciation were
gone; his veins were full of blood, his limbs of vigor and
robustness. AESON is amazed at himself, and remembers that such
as he now is he was in his youthful days, forty years before.

Medea used her arts here for a good purpose, but not so in
another instance, where she made them the instruments of revenge.
Pelias, our readers will recollect, was the usurping uncle of
Jason, and had kept him out of his kingdom. Yet he must have had
some good qualities, for his daughters loved him, and when they
saw what Medea had done for AESON, they wished her to do the same
for their father. Medea pretended to consent, and prepared her
caldron as before. At her request an old sheep was brought and
plunged into the caldron. Very soon a bleating was heard in the
kettle, and, when the cover was removed, a lamb jumped forth and
ran frisking away into the meadow. The daughters of Pelias saw
the experiment with delight, and appointed a time for their
father to undergo the same operation. But Medea prepared her
caldron for him in a very different way. She put in only water
and a few simple herbs. In the night she with the sisters
entered the bed-chamber of the old king, while he and his guards
slept soundly under the influence of a spell cast upon them by
Medea. The daughters stood by the bedside with their weapons
drawn, but hesitated to strike, till Medea chid their
irresolution. Then, turning away their faces and giving random
blows, they smote him with their weapons. He, starting from his
sleep, cried out, "My daughters, what are you doing? Will you
kill your father?:" Their hearts failed them, and the weapons
fell from their hands, but Medea struck him a fatal blow, and
prevented his saying more.

Then they placed him in the caldron, and Medea hastened to depart
in her serpent-drawn chariot before they discovered her
treachery, for their vengeance would have been terrible. She
escaped, however, but had little enjoyment of the fruits of her
crime. Jason, for whom she had done so much, wishing to marry
Creusa, princess of Corinth, put away Medea. She, enraged at his
ingratitude, called on the gods for vengeance, sent a poisoned
robe as a gift to the bride, and then killing her own children,
and setting fire to the palace, mounted her serpent-drawn chariot
and fled to Athens, where she married King AEgeus, the father of
Theseus; and we shall meet her again when we come to the
adventures of that hero.

The incantations of Medea will remind the reader of those of the
witches in Macbeth. The following lines are those which seem
most strikingly to recall the ancient model:

"Round about the caldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw.
-
Fillet of a fenny snake
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing:
-
Maw of ravening salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digged in the dark."
Macbeth, Act IV., Scene 1

And again:

Macbeth. What is't you do?
Witches. A deed without a name.

There is another story of Medea almost too revolting for record
even of a sorceress, a class of persons to whom both ancient and
modern poets have been accustomed to attribute every degree of
atrocity. In her flight from Colchis she had taken her young
brother Absyrtus with her. Finding the pursuing vessels of
AEETES gaining upon the Argonauts, she caused the lad to be
killed and his limbs to be strewn over the sea. AEETES on
reaching the place found these sorrowful traces of his murdered
son; but while he tarried to collect the scattered fragments and
bestow upon them an honorable interment, the Argonauts escaped.

In the poems of Campbell will be found a translation of one of
the choruses of the tragedy of Medea, where the poet Euripides
has taken advantage of the occasion to pay a glowing tribute to
Athens, his native city. It begins thus:

"Oh, haggard queen! To Athens dost thou guide
Thy glowing chariot, steeped in kindred gore;
Or seek to hide thy damned parricide
Where Peace and Justice dwell for evermore?"


THE CALYDONIAN HUNT. MELEAGER AND ATALANTA

The search for the Golden Fleece was undertaken by Jason, aided
by heroes from all Greece, or Hellas as it was then called. It
was the first of their common undertakings which made the Greeks
feel that they were in truth one nation, though split up into
many small kingdoms. Another of their great gatherings was for
the Calydonian Hunt, and another, the greatest and most famous of
all, for the Trojan War.

The hero of the quest for the golden Fleece was Jason. With the
other heroes of the Greeks, he was present at the Calydonian
Hunt. But the chief hero was Meleager, the son of OEneus, king
of Calydon, and Althea, his queen.

Althea, when her son was born, beheld the three Destinies, who,
as they spun their fatal thread, foretold that the life of the
child should last no longer than a brand then burning upon the
hearth. Althea seized and quenched the brand, and carefully
preserved it for years, while Meleager grew to boyhood, youth,
and manhood. It chanced, then, that OEneus, as he offered
sacrifices to the gods, omitted to pay due honors to Diana, and
she, indignant at the neglect, sent a wild boar of enormous size
to lay waste the files of Calydon. Its eyes shone with blood and
fire, its bristles stood like threatening spears, its tusks were
like those of Indian elephants. The growing corn was trampled,
the vines and olive trees laid waste, the flocks and herds were
driven in wild confusion by the slaughtering foe. All common aid
seemed vain; but Meleager called on the heroes of Greece to join
in a bold hunt for the ravenous monster. Theseus and his friend
Pirithous, Jason, Peleus afterwards the father of Achilles,
Telamon the father of Ajax, Nestor, then a youth, but who in his
age bore arms with Achilles and Ajax in the Trojan war, these
and many more joined in the enterprise. With them came Atalanta,
the daughter of Iasius, king of Arcadia. A buckle of polished
gold confined her vest, an ivory quiver hung on her left
shoulder, and her left hand bore the bow. Her face blent
feminine beauty with the best graces of martial youth. Meleager
saw and loved.

But now already they were near the monster's lair. They
stretched strong nets from tree to tree; they uncoupled their
dogs, they tried to find the footprints of their quarry in the
grass. From the wood was a descent to marshy ground. Here the
boar, as he lay among the reeds, heard the shouts of his
pursuers, and rushed forth against them. One and another is
thrown down and slain. Jason throws his spear with a prayer to
Diana for success; and the favoring goddess allows the weapon to
touch, but not to wound, removing the steel point of the spear
even in its flight. Nestor, assailed, seeks and finds safety in
the branches of a tree. Telamon rushes on, but stumbling at a
projecting root, falls prone. But an arrow from Atalanta at
length for the first time tastes the monster's blood. It is a
slight wound, but Meleager sees and joyfully proclaims it.
Anceus, excited to envy by the praise given to a female, loudly
proclaims his own valor, and defies alike the boar and the
goddess who had sent it; but as he rushes on, the infuriated
beast lays him low with a mortal wound. Theseus throws his
lance, but it is turned aside by a projecting bough. The dart of
Jason misses its object, and kills instead one of their own dogs.
But Meleager, after one unsuccessful stroke, drives his spear
into the monsters side, then rushes on and despatches him with
repeated blows.

Then rose a shout from those around; they congratulated the
conqueror, crowding to touch his hand. He, placing his foot upon
the slain boar, turned to Atalanta and bestowed on her the head
and the rough hide which were the trophies of his success. But
at this, envy excited the rest to strife. Phlexippus and Toxeus,
the uncles of Meleager and Althea's brothers, beyond the rest
opposed the gift, and snatched from the maiden the trophy she had
received. Meleager, kindling with rage at the wrong done to
himself, and still more at the insult offered to her whom he
loved, forgot the claims of kindred, and plunged his sword into
the offenders' hearts.

As Althea bore gifts of thankfulness to the temples for the
victory of her son, the bodies of her murdered brothers met her
sight. She shrieks, and beats her breast, and hastens to change
the garments of rejoicing for those of mourning. But when the
author of the deed is known, grief gives way to the stern desire
of vengeance on her son. The fatal brand, which once she rescued
from the flames, the brand which the Destinies had linked with
Meleager's life, she brings forth, and commands a fire to be
prepared. Then four times she essays to place the brand upon the
pile; four times draws back, shuddering at the thought of
bringing destruction on her son. The feelings of the mother and
the sister contend within her. Now she is pale at the thought of
the purposed deed, now flushed again with anger at the act of her
son. As a vessel, driven in one direction by the wind, and in
the opposite by the tide, the mind of Althea hangs suspended in
uncertainty. But now the sister prevails above the mother, and
she begins as she holds the fatal wood: "Turn, ye Furies,
goddesses of punishment! Turn to behold the sacrifice I bring!
Crime must atone for crime. Shall OEneus rejoice in his victor
son, while the house of Thestius (Thestius was father of Toxeus,
Phlexippus and Althea) is desolate? But, alas! To what deed am I
borne along? Brothers, forgive a mother's weakness! My hand
fails me. He deserves death, but not that I should destroy him.
But shall he then live, and triumph, and reign over Calydon,
while you, my brothers, wander unavenged among the shades? No!
Thou has lived by my gift; die, now, for thine own crime. Return
the life which twice I gave thee, first at thy birth, again when
I snatched this brand from the flames. O that thou hadst then
died! Alas! Evil is the conquest; but, brothers, ye have
conquered." And, turning away her face, she threw the fatal wood
upon the burning pile.

It gave, or seemed to give, a deadly groan. Meleager, absent and
unknowing of the cause, felt a sudden pang. He burns and only by
courageous pride conquers the pain which destroys him. He mourns
only that he perishes by a bloodless and unhonored death. With
his last breath he calls upon his aged father, his brother, and
his fond sisters, upon his beloved Atalanta, and upon his mother,
the unknown cause of his fate. The flames increase, and with
them the pain of the hero. Now both subside; now both are
quenched. The brand is ashes and the life of Meleager is
breathed forth to the wandering winds.

Althea, when the deed was done, laid violent hands upon herself.
The sisters of Meleager mourned their brother with uncontrollable
grief; till Diana, pitying the sorrows of the house that once had
aroused her anger, turned them into birds.


ATALANTA

The innocent cause of so much sorrow was a maiden whose face you
might truly say was boyish for a girl, yet too girlish for a boy.
Her fortune had been told, and it was to this effect: "Atalanta,
do not marry; marriage will be your ruin." Terrified by this
oracle, she fled the society of men, and devoted herself to the
sports of the chase. To all suitors (for she had many) she
imposed a condition which was generally effectual in relieving
her of their persecutions: "I will be the prize of him who
shall conquer me in the race; but death must be the penalty of
all who try and fail." In spite of this hard condition some
would try. Hippomenes was to be judge of the race. "Can it be
possible that any will be so rash as to risk so much for a wife?"
said he. But when he saw her lay aside her robe for the race, he
changed his mind, and said, "Pardon me, youths, I knew not the
prize you were competing for." As he surveyed them he wished them
all to be beaten, and swelled with envy of any one that seemed at
all likely to win. While such were his thoughts, the virgin
darted forward. As she ran, she looked more beautiful than ever.
The breezes seemed to give wings to her feet; her hair flew over
her shoulders, and the gay fringe of her garment fluttered behind
her. A ruddy hue tinged the whiteness of her skin, such as a
crimson curtain casts on a marble wall. All her competitors were
distanced, and were put to death without mercy. Hippomenes, not
daunted by this result, fixing his eyes on the virgin, said, "Why
boast of beating those laggards? I offer myself for the
contest." Atalanta looked at him with a pitying countenance, and
hardly knew whether she would rather conquer him or not. "What
god can tempt one so young and handsome to throw himself away? I
pity him, not for his beauty (yet he is beautiful), but for his
youth. I wish he would give up the race, or if he will be so
mad, I hope he may outrun me." While she hesitates, revolving
these thoughts, the spectators grow impatient for the race, and
her father prompts her to prepare. Then Hippomenes addressed a
prayer to Venus; "Help me, Venus, for you have led me on" Venus
heard, and was propitious.

In the garden of her temple, in her own island of Cyprus, is a
tree with yellow leaves and yellow branches, and golden fruit.
Hence Venus gathered three golden apples, and, unseen by all
else, gave them to Hippomenes, and told him how to use them. The
signal is given; each starts from the goal, and skims over the
sand. So light their tread, you would almost have thought they
might run over the river surface or over the waving grain without
sinking. The cries of the spectators cheered on Hippomenes:
"Now, now do your best! Haste, haste! You gain on her! Relax
not! One more effort!" It was doubtful whether the youth or the
maiden heard these cries with the greater pleasure. But his
breath began to fail him, his throat was dry, the goal yet far
off. At that moment he threw down one of the golden apples. The
virgin was all amazement. She stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes
shot ahead. Shouts burst forth from all sides. She redoubled
her efforts, and soon overtook him. Again he threw an apple.
She stopped again, but again came up with him. The goal was
near; one chance only remained. "Now, goddess," said he,
"prosper your gift!" and threw the last apple off at one side.
She looked at it, and hesitated; Venus impelled her to turn aside
for it. She did so, and was vanquished. The youth carried off
his prize.

But the lovers were so full of their own happiness that they
forgot to pay due honor to Venus; and the goddess was provoked at
their ingratitude. She caused them to give offence to Cybele.
That powerful goddess was not to be insulted with impunity. She
took from them their human form and turned them into animals of
characters resembling their own: of the huntress-heroine,
triumphing in the blood of her lovers, she made a lioness, and of
her lord and master a lion, and yoked them to her ear, there they
are still to be seen in all representations, in statuary or
painting, of the goddess Cybele.

Cybele is the Latin name of the goddess called by the Greeks Rhea
and Ops. She was the wife of Cronos and mother of Zeus. In
works of art, she exhibits the matronly air which distinguishes
Juno and Ceres. Sometimes she is veiled, and seated on a throne
with lions at her side, at other times riding in a chariot drawn
by lions. She sometimes wears a mural crown, that is, a crown
whose rim is carved in the form of towers and battlements. Her
priests were called Corybantes.

Byron in describing the city of Venice, which is built on a low
island in the Adriatic Sea, borrows an illustration from Cybele:


"She looks a sea-Cybele fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A ruler of the waters and their powers."
Childe Harold, IV

In Moore's Rhymes on the Road, the poet, speaking of Alpine
scenery, alludes to the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes, thus:

"Even here, in this region of wonders, I find
That light-footed Fancy leaves Truth far behind,
Or at least, like Hippomenes, turns her astray
By the golden illusions he flings in her way."

Thomas Bulfinch

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