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Ch. 4: Midas, Baucis, Pluto, and Proserpine

Bacchus, on a certain occasion, found his old school master and
foster father, Silenus, missing. The old man had been drinking,
and in that state had wandered away, and was found by some
peasants, who carried him to their king, Midas. Midas recognized
him, and treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days
and nights with an unceasing round of jollity. On the eleventh
day he brought Silenus back, and restored him in safety to his
pupil. Whereupon Bacchus offered Midas his choice of whatever
reward he might wish. He asked that whatever he might touch
should be changed into GOLD. Bacchus consented, though sorry
that he had not made a better choice. Midas went his way,
rejoicing in his newly acquired power, which he hastened to put
to the test. He could scarce believe his eyes when he found that
a twig of an oak, which he plucked from the branch, became gold
in his hand. He took up a stone it changed to gold. He
touched a sod it did the same. He took an apple from the tree
you would have thought he had robbed the garden of the
Hesperides. His joy knew no bounds, and as soon as he got home,
he ordered the servants to set a splendid repast on the table.
Then he found to his dismay that whether he touched bread, it
hardened in his hand; or put a morsel to his lips, it defied his
teeth. He took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat
like melted gold.

In consternation at the unprecedented affliction, he strove to
divest himself of his power; he hated the gift he had lately
coveted. But all in vain; starvation seemed to await him. He
raised his arms, all shining with gold, in prayer to Bacchus,
begging to be delivered from his glittering destruction.
Bacchus, merciful deity, heard and consented. "Go," said he, "to
the river Pactolus, trace the stream to its fountain-head, there
plunge in your head and body and wash away your fault and its
punishment." He did so, and scarce had he touched the waters
before the gold-creating power passed into them, and the river
sands became changed into GOLD, as they remain to this day.

Thenceforth Midas, hating wealth and splendor, dwelt in the
country, and became a worshipper of Pan, the god of the fields.
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. Tmolus 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. Ravished with the
harmony, Tmolus at once awarded the victory to the god of the
lyre, and all but Midas acquiesced in the judgment. He
dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo would
not suffer such a depraved pair of ears any longer to wear the
human form, but caused them to increase in length, grow hairy,
within and without, and to become movable, on their roots; in
short, to be on the perfect pattern of those of an ass.

Mortified enough was King Midas at this mishap; but he consoled
himself with the thought that it was possible to hide his
misfortune, which he attempted to do by means of an ample turban
or headdress. But his hairdresser of course knew the secret. He
was charged not to mention it, and threatened with dire
punishment if he presumed to disobey. But he found it too much
for his discretion to keep such a secret; so he went out into the
meadow, dug a hole in the ground, and stooping down, whispered
the story, and covered it up. Before long a thick bed of reeds
sprang up in the meadow, and as soon as it had gained its growth,
began whispering the story, and has continued to do so, from that
day to this, with every breeze which passes over the place.

The story of King Midas has been told by others with some
variations. Dryden, in the Wife of Bath's Tale, makes Midas'
queen the betrayer of the secret.

"This Midas knew, and durst communicate
To none but to his wife his ears of state."

Midas was king of Phrygia. He was the son of Gordius, a poor
countryman, who was taken by the people and made king, in
obedience to the command of the oracle, which had said that their
future king should come in a wagon. While the people were
deliberating, Gordius with his wife and son came driving his
wagon into the public square.

Gordius, being made king, dedicated his wagon to the deity of the
oracle, and tied it up in its place with a fast knot. This was
the celebrated GORDIAN KNOT, of which, in after times it was
said, that whoever should untie it should become lord of all
Asia. Many tried to untie it, but none succeeded, till Alexander
the Great, in his career of conquest, came to Phrygia. He tried
his skill with as ill success as the others, till growing
impatient he drew his sword and cut the knot. When he afterwards
succeeded in subjecting all Asia to his sway, people began to
think that he had complied with the terms of the oracle according
to its true meaning.


On a certain hill in Phrygia stand a linden tree and an oak,
enclosed by a low wall. Not far from the spot is a marsh,
formerly good habitable land, but now indented with pools, the
resort of fen-birds and cormorants. Once on a time, Jupiter, in
human shape, visited this country, and with him his son Mercury
(he of the caduceus), without his wings. They presented
themselves at many a door as weary travellers, seeking rest and
shelter, but found all closed, for it was late, and the
inhospitable inhabitants would not rouse themselves to open for
their reception. At last a humble mansion received them, a small
thatched cottage, where Baucis, a pious old dame, and her husband
Philemon, united when young, had grown old together. Not ashamed
of their poverty, they made it endurable by moderate desires and
kind dispositions. One need not look there for master or for
servant; they two were the whole household, master and servant
alike. When the two heavenly guests crossed the humble
threshold, and bowed their heads to pass under the low door, the
old man placed a seat, on which Baucis, bustling and attentive,
spread a cloth, and begged them to sit down. Then she raked out
the coals from the ashes, kindled up a fire, and fed it with
leaves and dry bark, and with her scanty breath blew it into a
flame. She brought out of a corner split sticks and dry
branches, broke them up, and placed them under the small kettle.
Her husband collected some pot-herbs in the garden, and she shred
them from the stalks, and prepared them for the pot He reached
down with a forked stick a flitch of bacon hanging in the
chimney, cut a small piece, and put it in the pot to boil with
the herbs, setting away the rest for another time. A beechen
bowl was filled with warm water that their guests might wash.
While all was doing they beguiled the time with conversation.

On the bench designed for the guests was laid a cushion stuffed
with sea-weed; and a cloth, only produced on great occasions, but
old and coarse enough, was spread over that. The old woman, with
her apron on, with trembling hand set the table. One leg was
shorter than the rest, but a shell put under restored the level.
When fixed, she rubbed the table down with some sweet-smelling
herbs. Upon it she set some olives, Minerva's-fruit, some
cornel-berries preserved in vinegar, and added radishes and
cheese, with eggs lightly cooked in the ashes. All were served
in earthen dishes, and an earthenware pitcher, with wooden cups,
stood beside them. When all was ready, the stew, smoking hot,
was set on the table. Some wine, not of the oldest, was added;
and for dessert, apples and wild honey; and over and above all,
friendly faces, and simple but hearty welcome.

Now while the repast proceeded, the old folks were astonished to
see that the wine, as fast as it was poured out, renewed itself
in the pitcher, of its own accord. Struck with terror, Baucis
and Philemon recognized their heavenly guests, fell on their
knees, and with clasped hands implored forgiveness for their poor
entertainment. There was an old goose, which they kept as the
guardian of their humble cottage; and they bethought them to make
this a sacrifice in honor of their guests. But the goose, too
nimble for the old folks, eluded their pursuit with the aid of
feet and wings, and at last took shelter between the gods
themselves. They forbade it to be slain; and spoke in these
words: "We are gods. This inhospitable village shall pay the
penalty of its impiety; you alone shall go free from the
chastisement. Quit your house, and come with us to the top of
yonder hill." They hastened to obey, and staff in hand, labored
up the steep ascent. They had come within an arrow's flight of
the top, when turning their eyes below, they beheld all the
country sunk in a lake, only their own house left standing.
While they gazed with wonder at the sight, and lamented the fate
of their neighbors, that old house of theirs was changed into a
TEMPLE. Columns took the place of the corner-posts, the thatch
grew yellow and appeared a gilded roof, the floors became marble,
the doors were enriched with carving and ornaments of gold. Then
spoke Jupiter in benignant accents: "Excellent old man, and woman
worthy of such a husband, speak, tell us your wishes; what favor
have you to ask of us?" Philemon took counsel with Baucis a few
moments; then declared to the gods their united wish. "We ask to
be priests and guardians of this your temple; and since here we
have passed our lives in love and concord, we wish that one and
the same hour may take us both from life, that I may not live to
see her grave, nor be laid in my own by her." Their prayer was
granted. They were the keepers of the temple as long as they
lived. When grown very old, as they stood one day before the
steps of the sacred edifice, and were telling the story of the
place, Baucis saw Philemon begin to put forth leaves, and old
Philemon saw Baucis changing in like manner. And now a leafy
crown had grown over their heads, while exchanging parting words,
as long as they could speak. "Farewell, dear spouse," they said,
together, and at the same moment the bark closed over their
mouths. The Tyanean shepherd long showed the two trees, standing
side by side, made out of the two good old people.

The story of Baucis and Philemon has been imitated by Swift, in a
burlesque style, the actors in the change being two wandering
saints and the house being changed into a church, of which
Philemon is made the parson The following may serve as a

"They scarce had spoke when, fair and soft,
The roof began to mount aloft;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
The heavy wall climbed slowly after.
The chimney widened and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there stood fastened to a joist,
But with the upside down, to show
Its inclination for below;
In vain, for a superior force,
Applied at bottom, stops its course;
Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,
'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack, which had almost
Lost by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels,
Increased by new intestine wheels;
And, what exalts the wonder more,
The number made the motion slower;
The flier, though 't had leaden feet,
Turned round so quick you scarce could see 't:
But slackened by some secret power,
Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near allied,
Had never left each other's side.
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone;
But up against the steeple reared,
Became a clock, and still adhered;
And still its love to household cares
By a shrill voice at noon declares.
Warning the cook-maid not to burn
That roast meat which it cannot turn.
The groaning chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And, with small change, a pulpit grew.
A bedstead of the antique mode,
Compact of timber many a load,
Such as our ancestors did use,
Was metamorphosed into pews,
Which still their ancient nature keep
By lodging folks disposed to sleep."


Under the island of Aetna lies Typhoeus the Titan, in punishment
for his share in the rebellion of the giants against Jupiter.
Two mountains press down the one his right and the other his
left hand while Aetna lies over his head. As Typhoeus moves,
the earth shakes; as he breathes, smoke and ashes come up from
Aetna. Pluto is terrified at the rocking of the earth, and fears
that his kingdom will be laid open to the light of day. He
mounts his chariot with the four black horses and comes up to
earth and looks around. While he is thus engaged, Venus, sitting
on Mount Eryx playing with her boy Cupid, sees him and says: "My
son, take your darts with which you conquer all, even Jove
himself, and send one into the breast of yonder dark monarch, who
rules the realm of Tartarus. Why should he alone escape? Seize
the opportunity to extend your empire and mine. Do you not see
that even in heaven some despise our power? Minerva the wise,
and Diana the huntress, defy us; and there is that daughter of
Ceres, who threatens to follow their example. Now do you, if you
have any regard for your own interest or mine, join these two in
one." The boy unbound his quiver, and selected his sharpest and
truest arrow; then, straining the bow against his knee, he
attached the string, and, having made ready, shot the arrow with
its barbed point right into the heart of Pluto.

In the vale of Enna there is a lake embowered in woods, which
screen it from the fervid rays of the sun, while the moist ground
is covered with flowers, and spring reigns perpetual. Here
Proserpine was playing with her companions, gathering lilies and
violets, and filling her basket and her apron with them, when
Pluto saw her from his chariot, loved her, and carried her off.
She screamed for help to her mother and her companions; and when
in her fright she dropped the corners of her apron and let the
flowers fall, childlike, she felt the loss of them as an addition
to her grief. The ravisher urged on his steeds, calling them
each by name, and throwing loose over their heads and necks his
iron-colored reins. When he reached the River Cyane, and it
opposed his passage, he struck the river bank with his trident,
and the earth opened and gave him a passage to Tartarus.

Ceres sought her daughter all the world over. Bright-haired
Aurora, when she came forth in the morning, and Hesperus, when he
led out the stars in the evening, found her still busy in the
search. But it was all unavailing. At length, weary and sad,
she sat down upon a stone and continued sitting nine days and
nights, in the open air, under the sunlight and moonlight and
falling showers. It was where now stands the city of Eleusis,
then the home of an old man named Celeus. He was out in the
field, gathering acorns and blackberries, and sticks for his
fire. His little girl was driving home their two goats, and as
she passed the goddess, who appeared in the guise of an old
woman, she said to her, "Mother," and the name was sweet to the
ears of Ceres, "why do you sit here alone upon the rocks?" The
old man also stopped, though his load was heavy, and begged her
to come into his cottage, such as it was. She declined, and he
urged her. "Go in peace," she replied, "and be happy in your
daughter; I have lost mine." As she spoke, tears or something
like tears, for the gods never weep fell down her cheeks upon
her bosom. The compassionate old man and his child wept with
her. Then said he, "Come with us, and despise not our humble
roof; so may your daughter be restored to you in safety." "Lead
on," said she, "I cannot resist that appeal!" So she rose from
the stone and went with them. As they walked he told her that
his only son, a little boy, lay very sick, feverish and
sleepless. She stooped and gathered some poppies. As they
entered the cottage they found all in great distress, for the boy
seemed past hope of recovery. Metanira, his mother, received her
kindly, and the goddess stooped and kissed the lips of the sick
child. Instantly the paleness left his face, and healthy vigor
returned to his body. The whole family were delighted that is,
the father, mother, and little girl, for they were all; they had
no servants. They spread the table, and put upon it curds and
cream, apples, and honey in the comb. While they ate, Ceres
mingled poppy juice in the milk of the boy. When night came and
all was still, she arose, and taking the sleeping boy, moulded
his limbs with her hands, and uttered over him three times a
solemn charm, then went and laid him in the ashes. His mother,
who had been watching what her guest was doing, sprang forward
with a cry and snatched the child from the fire. Then Ceres
assumed her own form, and a divine splendor shone all around.
While they were overcome with astonishment, she said, "Mother,
you have been cruel in your fondness to your son. I would have
made him immortal, but you have frustrated my attempt.
Nevertheless, he shall be great and useful. He shall teach men
the use of the plough, and the rewards which labor can win from
the cultivated soil." So saying, she wrapped a cloud about her,
and mounting her chariot rode away.

Ceres continued her search for her daughter, passing from land to
land, and across seas and rivers, till at length she returned to
Sicily, whence she at first set out, and stood by the banks of
the River Cyane, where Pluto made himself a passage with his
prize to his own dominions.

The river-nymph would have told the goddess all she had
witnessed, but dared not, for fear of Pluto; so she only ventured
to take up the girdle which Proserpine had dropped in her flight,
and waft it to the feet of the mother. Ceres, seeing this, was
no longer in doubt of her loss, but she did not yet know the
cause, and laid the blame on the innocent land. "Ungrateful
soil," said she, "which I have endowed with fertility and clothed
with herbage and nourishing grain, No more shall you enjoy my
favors" Then the cattle died, the plough broke in the furrow, the
seed failed to come up; there was too much sun, there was too
much rain; the birds stole the seeds, thistles and brambles
were the only growth. Seeing this, the fountain Arethusa
interceded for the land. "Goddess," said she, "blame not the
land; it opened unwillingly to yield a passage to your daughter.
I can tell you of her fate, for I have seen her. This is not my
native country; I came hither from Elis. I was a woodland nymph,
and delighted in the chase. They praised my beauty, but I cared
nothing for it, and rather boasted of my hunting exploits. One
day I was returning from the wood, heated with exercise, when I
came to a stream silently flowing, so clear that you might count
the pebbles on the bottom. The willows shaded it, and the grassy
bank sloped down to the water's edge. I approached, I touched
the water with my foot. I stepped in knee-deep, and not content
with that, I laid my garments on the willows and went in. While
I sported in the water, I heard an indistinct murmur coming up as
out of the depths of the stream; and made haste to escape to the
nearest bank. The voice said, 'Why do you fly, Arethusa? I am
Alpheus, the god of this stream.' I ran, he pursued; he was not
more swift than I, but he was stronger, and gained upon me, as my
strength failed. At last, exhausted, I cried for help to Diana.
'Help me, goddess! Help your votary!' The goddess heard, and
wrapped me suddenly in a thick cloud. The river-god looked now
this way and now that, and twice came close to me, but could not
find me. 'Arethusa! Arethusa!' he cried. Oh, how I trembled,
like a lamb that hears the wolf growling outside the fold. A
cold sweat came over me, my hair flowed down in streams; where my
foot stood there was a pool. In short, in less time than it
takes to tell it I became a fountain. But in this form Alpheus
knew me, and attempted to mingle his stream with mine. Diana
cleft the ground, and I, endeavoring to escape him, plunged into
the cavern, and through the bowels of the earth came out here in
Sicily. While I passed through the lower parts of the earth, I
saw your Proserpine. She was sad, but no longer showing alarm in
her countenance. Her look was such as became a queen, the
queen of Erebus; the powerful bride of the monarch of the realms
of the dead."

When Ceres heard this, she stood for a while like one stupefied;
then turned her chariot towards heaven, and hastened to present
herself before the throne of Jove. She told the story of her
bereavement, and implored Jupiter to interfere to procure the
restitution of her daughter. Jupiter consented on one condition,
namely, that Proserpine should not during her stay in the lower
world have taken any food; otherwise, the Fates forbade her
release. Accordingly, Mercury was sent, accompanied by Spring,
to demand Proserpine of Pluto. The wily monarch consented; but
alas! the maiden had taken a pomegranate which Pluto offered her,
and had sucked the sweet pulp from a few of the seeds. This was
enough to prevent her complete release; but a compromise was
made, by which she was to pass half the time with her mother, and
the rest with her husband Pluto.

Ceres allowed herself to be pacified with this arrangement, and
restored the earth to her favor. Now she remembered Celeus and
his family, and her promise to his infant son Triptolemus. When
the boy grew up, she taught him the use of the plough, and how to
sow the seed. She took him in her chariot, drawn by winged
dragons, through all the countries of the earth, imparting to
mankind valuable grains, and the knowledge of agriculture. After
his return, Triptolemus build a magnificent temple to Ceres in
Eleusis, and established the worship of the goddess, under the
name of the Eleusinian mysteries, which, in the splendor and
solemnity of their observance, surpassed all other religious
celebrations among the Greeks.

There can be little doubt but that this story of Ceres and
Proserpine is an allegory. Proserpine signifies the seed-corn,
which, when cast into the ground, lies there concealed, that
is, she is carried off by the god of the underworld; it
reappears, that is, Proserpine is restored to her mother.
Spring leads her back to the light of day.

Milton alludes to the story of Proserpine in Paradise lost, Book

"Not that fair field
Of Enna where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis (a name for Pluto)
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world,
. . . . might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive."

Hood, in his Ode to Melancholy, uses the same allusion very

"Forgive, if somewhile I forget,
In woe to come the present bliss;
As frightened Proserpine let fall
Her flowers at the sight of Dis."

The River Alpheus does in fact disappear under ground, in part of
its course, finding its way through subterranean channels, till
it again appears on the surface. It was said that the Sicilian
fountain Arethusa was the same stream, which, after passing under
the sea, came up again in Sicily. Hence the story ran that a cup
thrown into the Alpheus appeared again in Arethusa. It is this
fable of the underground course of Alpheus that Coleridge alludes
to in his poem of Kubla Khan:

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man,
Down to a sunless sea."

In one of Moore's juvenile poems he alludes to the same story,
and to the practice of throwing garlands, or other light objects
on the stream to be carried downward by it, and afterwards thrown
out when the river comes again to light.

"Oh, my beloved, how divinely sweet
Is the pure joy when kindred spirits meet!
Like him the river-god, whose waters flow,
With love their only light, through caves below,
Wafting in triumph all the flowery braids
And festal rings, with which Olympic maids
Have decked his current, as an offering meet
To lay at Arethusa's shining feet.
Think, when he meets at last his fountain bride,
What perfect love must thrill the blended tide!
Each lost in each, till mingling into one,
Their lot the same for shadow or for sun,
A type of true love, to the deep they run."

The following extract from Moore's Rhymes on the Road gives an
account of a celebrated picture by Albano at Milan, called a
Dance of Loves:

"'Tis for the theft of Enna's flower from earth
These urchins celebrate their dance of mirth,
Round the green tree, like fays upon a heath,
Those that are nearest linked in order bright,
Cheek after cheek, like rosebuds in a wreath;
And those more distant showing from beneath
The others' wings their little eyes of light.
While see! Among the clouds, their eldest brother,
But just flown up, tells with a smile of bliss,
This prank of Pluto to his charmed mother,
Who turns to greet the tidings with a kiss."


Glaucus was a fisherman. One day he had drawn his nets to land,
and had taken a great many fishes of various kinds. So he
emptied his net, and proceeded to sort the fishes on the grass.
The place where he stood was a beautiful island in the river, a
solitary spot, uninhabited, and not used for pasturage of cattle,
nor ever visited by any but himself. On a sudden, the fishes,
which had been laid on the grass, began to revive and move their
fins as if they were in the water; and while he looked on
astonished, they one and all moved off to the water, plunged in
and swam away. He did not know what to make of this, whether
some god had done it, or some secret power in the herbage. "What
herb has such a power?" he exclaimed; and gathering some, he
tasted it. Scarce had the juices of the plant reached his palate
when he found himself agitated with a longing desire for the
water. He could no longer restrain himself, but bidding farewell
to earth, he plunged into the stream. The gods of the water
received him graciously, and admitted him to the honor of their
society. They obtained the consent of Oceanus and Tethys, the
sovereigns of the sea, that all that was mortal in him should be
washed away. A hundred rivers poured their waters over him .
Then he lost all sense of his former nature and all
consciousness. When he recovered, he found himself changed in
form and mind. His hair was sea-green, and trailed behind him on
the water; his shoulders grew broad, and what had been thighs and
legs assumed the form of a fish's tail. The sea-gods
complimented him on the change of his appearance, and he himself
was pleased with his looks.

One day Glaucus saw the beautiful maiden Scylla, the favorite of
the water-nymphs, rambling on the shore, and when she had found a
sheltered nook, laving her limbs in the clear water. He fell in
love with her, and showing himself on the surface, spoke to her,
saying such things as he thought most likely to win her to stay;
for she turned to run immediately on sight of him and ran till
she had gained a cliff overlooking the sea. Here she stopped and
turned round to see whether it was a god or a sea-animal, and
observed with wonder his shape and color. Glaucus, partly
emerging from the water, and supporting himself against a rock,
said, "Maiden, I am no monster, nor a sea-animal, but a god; and
neither Proteus nor Triton ranks higher than I. Once I was a
mortal, and followed the sea for a living; but now I belong
wholly to it." Then he told the story of his metamorphosis and
how he had been promoted to his present dignity, and added, "But
what avails all this if it fails to move your heart?" He was
going on in this strain, but Scylla turned and hastened away.

Glaucus was in despair, but it occurred to him to consult the
enchantress, Circe. Accordingly he repaired to her island, the
same where afterwards Ulysses landed, as we shall see in another
story. After mutual salutations, he said, "Goddess, I entreat
your pity; you alone can relieve the pain I suffer. The power of
herbs I know as well as any one, for it is to them I owe my
change of form I love Scylla. I am ashamed to tell you how I
have sued and promised to her, and how scornfully she has treated
me. I beseech you to use your incantations, or potent herbs, if
they are more prevailing, not to cure me of my love, for that I
do not wish, but to make her share it and yield me a like
return." To which Circe replied, for she was not insensible to
the attractions of the sea-green deity, "You had better pursue a
willing object; you are worthy to be sought, instead of having to
seek in vain. Be not diffident, know your own worth. I protest
to you that even I, goddess though I be, and learned in the
virtues of plants and spells, should not know how to refuse you
If she scorns you, scorn her; meet one who is ready to meet you
half way, and thus make a due return to both at once." To these
words Glaucus replied, "Sooner shall trees grow at the bottom of
the ocean, and seaweed on the top of the mountains, than I will
cease to love Scylla, and her alone."

The goddess was indignant, but she could not punish him, neither
did she wish to do so, for she liked him too well; so she turned
all her wrath against her rival, poor Scylla. She took plants of
poisonous powers and mixed them together, with incantations and
charms. Then she passed through the crowd of gambolling beasts,
the victims of her art, and proceeded to the coast of Sicily,
where Scylla lived. There was a little bay on the shore to which
Scylla used to resort, in the heat of the day, to breathe the air
of the sea, and to bathe in its waters. Here the goddess poured
her poisonous mixture, and muttered over it incantations of
mighty power. Scylla came as usual and plunged into the water up
to her waist. What was her horror to perceive a brood of
serpents and barking monsters surrounding her! At first she
could not imagine they were a part of herself, and tried to run
from them, and to drive them away; but as she ran she carried
them with her, and when she tried to touch her limbs, she found
her hands touch only the yawning jaws of monsters. Scylla
remained rooted to the spot. Her temper grew as ugly as her
form, and she took pleasure in devouring hapless mariners who
came within her grasp. Thus she destroyed six of the companions
of Ulysses, and tried to wreck the ships of Aeneas, till at last
she was turned into a rock, and as such still continues to be a
terror to mariners.

The following is Glaucus's account of his feelings after his

"I plunged for life or death. To interknit
One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff
Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt,
And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt
Whole days and days in sheer astonishment;
Forgetful utterly of self-9ntent,
Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow.
Then like a new-fledged bird that first doth show
His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill,
I tried in fear the pinions of my well.
"Twas freedom! And at once I visited
The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed."

Thomas Bulfinch

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