Hermes, the messenger of Zeus, stepped from the upper air and swooped down upon the sea, skimmed the waves like a sea-gull, and sped to Ogygia, Calypso’s realm, as the gods had commanded. He found the fair-tressed nymph at home. A fire was burning on her hearth, and the spicy fragrance of split cedar logs drifted over the island. Calypso was singing sweetly in her chamber, while she wove an exquisite web with a shuttle of gold. Her grotto stood in a grove green with alder, poplar, and cypress, and in the trees nested bright-colored birds and also hawks, owls, and crows. Vines clung to the vaulted rock, and clusters of ripening grapes glistened on the thick-leafed stalks. Four springs rose close to one another and ran a twisting course through meadows strewn with violets, parsley, and pungent herbs.
The hero soon had an opportunity to make the gods generous return for the precious gifts they had given him. The giants, creatures with frightful faces, long hair and beards, and scaly dragon tails instead of feet, were monsters whom Gaea, the Earth, had borne Uranus, the sky-god. Now their mother stirred them up against Zeus, the new ruler of the world, because he had ban-
ished her elder sons, the Titans, to Tartarus. And so they rushed forth from Erebus, the underworld, to the broad fields of Phlegra, in Thessaly. The very stars paled at sight of them, and Phoebus Apollo turned his sun-chariot in the other direction.
Jason was the child of Aeson, son of Cretheus. Now Cretheus had founded the city and the kingdom of Iolcus on a bay in the land of Thessaly, and he left it to his son Aeson. But his younger son Pelias usurped the throne, Aeson died, and Jason, his child, was hurried away to Chiron, the centaur, who had reared many boys to greatness. Chiron gave Jason a training befitting a hero. When Pelias was quite old, he was disturbed by a strange oracle which warned him of one who wore but a single shoe. Pelias had been vainly trying to unravel the meaning of these words, when J ason, who had been in Chiron’s care for twenty years, secretly set out for his native land of Iolcus to assert his family right to the throne against Pelias.
Legend has little to tell of the next few years of the war against Troy. The Argives were not idle, but since the Trojans husbanded their strength and seldom attacked, they turned their attention to the region surrounding Troy. In the course of time Achilles destroyed and looted twelve towns with his ships and conquered eleven on land. In a marauding expedition to Mysia he carried off Chryseis, the lovely daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo. When he invaded Lyrnessus he took the palace of Briseus, the king and priest of the city, who hanged himself with a rope. Briseis, his beautiful daughter, who was also called Hippodamia, fell into the hands of Achilles and he took her with him as his favorite among the captives. The island of Lesbos and Thebe in Cilicia, a city founded at the foot of Mount Placus, were also forced to yield to him.
The apparitions vanished, and Heracles was alone. He determined to walk in the path of Virtue, and soon found an opportunity to do a good deed. At that time Greece was still covered
with forests and swamps inhabited by savage lions, raging boars, and other dangerous beasts. To clear the country of these monsters and to free it from the robbers who lay in wait for the traveller in lonely places was one of the great goals of the heroes of old. Heracles was destined to continue this work.
When he returned to his people,
Long, long ago two brothers, Jasion and Dardanus, sons of Zeus and an ocean-nymph, ruled over Samothrace, an island in the Aegean Sea. Jasion, well aware that he was descended from immortals, ventured to raise his eyes to a daughter of Olympus. Overcome with impetuous passion he wooed the goddess Demeter, whereupon his father punished him for his boldness by striking him dead with a thunderbolt. Dardanus grieved so sorely for the death of his brother that he left his realm and his country and journeyed