|Age Of Fable Or Beauties Of
Age Of Fable Or Beauties Of Mythology
Author: Bulfinch, Thomas
Chapter IV: Juno And Her Rivals.
Juno And Her Rivals, Io And Callisto - Diana And Actaeon - Latona And Rustics.
Juno one day perceived it suddenly grow dark, and immediately suspected
that her husband had raised a cloud to hide some of his doings that would not
bear the light. She brushed away the cloud, and saw her husband, on the banks
of a glassy river, with a beautiful heifer standing near him. Juno suspected
the heifer's form concealed some fair nymph of mortal mould, - as was, indeed,
the case; for it was Io, the daughter of the river god Inachus, whom Jupiter
had been flirting with, and, when he became aware of the approach of his wife,
had changed into that form.
Juno joined her husband, and noticing the heifer praised its beauty, and
asked whose it was, and of what herd. Jupiter, to stop questions, replied
that it was a fresh creation from the earth. Juno asked to have it as a gift.
What could Jupiter do? He was loath to give his mistress to his wife; yet how
refuse so trifling a present as a simple heifer? He could not, without
exciting suspicion; so he consented. The goddess was not yet relieved of her
suspicions; so she delivered the heifer to Argus, to be strictly watched.
Now Argus had a hundred eyes in his head, and never went to sleep with
more than two at a time, so that he kept watch of Io constantly. He suffered
her to feed through the day, and at night tied her up with a vile rope round
her neck. She would have stretched out her arms to implore freedom of Argus,
but she had no arms to stretch out, and her voice was a bellow that frightened
even herself. She saw her father and her sisters, went near them, and
suffered them to pat her back, and heard them admire her beauty. Her father
reached her a tuft of grass, and she licked the outstretched hand. She longed
to make herself known to him, and would have uttered her wish; but, alas!
words were wanting. At length she bethought herself of writing, and inscribed
her name - it was a short one - with her hoof on the sand. Inachus recognized
it, and discovering that his daughter, whom he had long sought in vain, was
hidden under this disguise, mourned over her, and, embracing her white neck,
exclaimed, "Alas! my daughter, it would have been a less grief to have lost
you altogether!" While he thus lamented, Argus, observing, came and drove her
away, and took his seat on a high bank, from whence he could see all round in
Jupiter was troubled at beholding the sufferings of his mistress, and
calling Mercury told him to go and despatch Argus. Mercury made haste, put
his winged slippers on his feet, and cap on his head, took his sleep-
producing wand, and leaped down from the heavenly towers to the earth. There
he laid aside his wings, and kept only his wand, with which he presented
himself as a shepherd driving his flock. As he strolled on he blew upon his
pipes. These were what are called in the Syrinx or Pandean pipes. Argus
listened with delight, for he had never seen the instrument before. "Young
man," said he, "come and take a seat by me on this stone. There is no better
place for your flock to graze in than hereabouts, and here is a pleasant shade
such as shepherds love." Mercury sat down, talked, and told stories till it
grew late, and played upon his pipes his most soothing strains, hoping to lull
the watchful eyes to sleep, but all in vain; for Argus still contrived to keep
some of his eyes open though he shut the rest.
Among other stories, Mercury told him how the instrument on which he
played was invented. "There was a certain nymph, whose name was Syrinx, who
was much beloved by the satyrs and spirits of the wood; but she would have
none of them, but was a faithful worshipper of Diana, and followed the chase.
You would have thought it was Diana herself, had you seen her in her hunting
dress, only that her bow was of horn and Diana's of silver. One day, as she
was returning from the chase, Pan met her, told her just this, and added more
of the same sort. She ran away, without stopping to hear his compliments, and
he pursued till she came to the bank of the river, where he overtook her, and
she had only time to call for help on her friends the water nymphs. They
heard and consented. Pan threw his arms around what he supposed to be the
form of the nymph, and found he embraced only a tuft of reeds! As he breathed
a sigh, the air sounded through the reeds, and produced a plaintive melody.
The god, charmed with the novelty, and with the sweetness of the music, said,
'Thus, then, at least, you shall be mine.' And he took some of the reeds, and
placing them together, of unequal lengths, side by side, made an instrument
which he called Syrinx, in honor of the nymph." Before Mercury had finished
his story he saw Argus's eyes all asleep. As his head nodded forward on his
breast, Mercury with one stroke cut his neck through, and tumbled his head
down the rocks. O, hapless Argus! the light of your hundred eyes is quenched
at once! Juno took them and put them as ornaments on the tail of her peacock,
where they remain to this day.
But the vengeance of Juno was not yet satiated. She sent a gadfly to
torment Io, who fled over the whole world from its pursuit. She swam through
the Ionian Sea, which derived its name from her, then roamed over the plains
of Illyria, ascended Mount Haemus, and crossed the Thracian strait, thence
named the Bosphorus, (cowford,) rambled on through Scythia, and the country of
the Cimmerians, and arrived at last on the banks of the Nile. At length
Jupiter interceded for her, and upon his promising not to pay her any more
attentions Juno consented to restore her to her form. It was curious to see
her gradually recover her former self. The coarse hairs fell from her body,
her horns shrank up, her eyes grew narrower, her mouth shorter; hands and
fingers came instead of hoofs to her fore feet; in fine there was nothing left
of the heifer, except her beauty. At first she was afraid to speak for fear
she should low, but gradually she recovered her confidence and was restored to
her father and sisters.
In a poem dedicated to Leigh Hunt, by Keats, the following allusion to
the story of Pan and Syrinx occurs: -
"So did he feel who pulled the boughs aside,
That we might look into a forest wide,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Telling us how fair trembling Syrinx fled
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph - poor Pan - how he did weep to find
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half-heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain"
Callisto was another maiden who excited the jealousy of Juno, and the
goddess changed her into a boar. "I will take away," said she, "that beauty
with which you have captivated my husband." Down fell Callisto on her hands
and knees; she tried to stretch out her arms in supplication, - they were
already beginning to be covered with black hair. Her hands grew rounded,
became armed with crooked claws, and served for feet; her mouth, which Jove
used to praise for its beauty, became a horrid pair of jaws; her voice, which
if unchanged would have moved the heart to pity, became a growl, more fit to
inspire terror. Yet her former disposition remained, and with continual
groaning, she bemoaned her fate, and stood upright as well as she could,
lifting up her paws to beg for mercy; and felt that Jove was unkind, though
she could not tell him so. Ah, how often, afraid to stay in the woods all
night alone, she wandered about the neighborhood of her former haunts; how
often, frightened by the dogs, did she, so lately a huntress, fly in terror
from the hunters! Often she fled from the wild beasts, forgetting that she
was now a wild beast herself; and, bear as she was, was afraid of the bears.
One day a youth espied her as he was hunting. She saw him and recognized
him as her own son, now grown a young man. She stopped and felt inclined to
embrace him. As she was about to approach, he, alarmed, raised his hunting
spear, and was on the point of transfixing her, when Jupiter, beholding,
arrested the crime, and snatching away both of them, placed them in the
heavens as the Great and Little Bear.
Juno was in a rage to see her rival so set in honor, and hastened to
ancient Tethys and Oceanus, the powers of ocean, and in answer to their
inquiries, thus told the cause of her coming. "Do you ask why I, the queen of
the gods, have left the heavenly plains and sought your depths. Learn that I
am supplanted in heaven, - my place is given to another. You will hardly
believe me; but look when night darkens the world, and you shall see the two
of whom I have so much reason to complain exalted to the heavens, in that part
where the circle is the smallest, in the neighborhood of the pole. Why should
any one hereafter tremble at the thought of offending Juno, when such rewards
are the consequence of my displeasure! See what I have been able to effect!
I forbade her to wear the human form, - she is placed among the stars! So do
my punishments result, - such is the extent of my power! Better that she
should have resumed her former shape, as I permitted Io to do. Perhaps he
means to marry her, and put me away! But you, my foster- parents, if you feel
for me, and see with displeasure this unworthy treatment of me, show it, I
beseech you, by forbidding this guilty couple from coming into your waters."
The powers of the ocean assented, and consequently the two constellations of
the Great and Little Bear move round and round in heaven, but never sink, as
the other stars do, beneath the ocean.
Milton alludes to the fact that the constellation of the Bear never sets,
when he says -
"Let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear," &c.
And Prometheus, in J. R. Lowell's poem, says, -
"One after one the stars have risen and set,
Sparkling upon the hoar frost of my chain;
The Bear that prowled all night about the fold
Of the North-star, hath shrunk into his den,
Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the Dawn."
The last star in the tail of the Little Bear is the Pol star, called also
the Cynosure. Milton says, -
"Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
While the landscape round it measures.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies
The Cynosure of neighboring eyes."
The reference here is both to the Pole-star as the guide of mariners, and
to the magnetic attraction of the North. He calls it also the "Star of
Arcady," because Callisto's boy was named Arcas, and they lived in Arcadia. In
Comus, the brother, benighted in the woods, says, -
" - Some gentle taper!
Though a rush candle, from the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long levelled rule of streaming light,
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Cynosure."
Diana And Actaeon.
Thus, in two instances, we have seen Juno's severity to her rivals; now
let us learn how a virgin goddess punished an invader of her privacy.
It was midday, and the sun stood equally distant from either goal, when
young Actaeon, son of King Cadmus, thus addressed the youths who with him were
hunting the stag in the mountains: -
"Friends, our nets and our weapons are wet with the blood of our victims;
we have had sport enough for one day, and to-morrow we can renew our labors.
Now, while Phoebus parches the earth, let us put by our implements and indulge
ourselves with rest."
There was a valley thick enclosed with cypresses and pines, sacred to the
huntress queen, Diana. In the extremity of the valley was a cave, not adorned
with art, but nature had counterfeited art in its construction, for she had
turned the arch of its roof with stones as delicately fitted as if by the hand
of man. A fountain burst out from one side, whose open basin was bounded by a
grassy rim. Here the goddess of the woods used to come when weary with
hunting and lave her virgin limbs in the sparkling water.
One day, having repaired thither with her nymphs, she handed her javelin,
her quiver, and her bow to one, her robe to another, while a third unbound the
sandals from her feet. Then Crocale, the most skilful of them, arranged her
hair, and Nephele, Hyale and the rest drew water in capacious urns. While the
goddess was thus employed in the labors of the toilet, behold Actaeon, having
quitted his companions, and rambling without any especial object, came to the
place, led thither by his destiny. As he presented himself at the entrance of
the cave, the nymphs, seeing a man, screamed and rushed towards the goddess to
hide her with their bodies. But she was taller than the rest and overtopped
them all by a head. Such a color as tinges the clouds at sunset or at dawn,
came over the countenance of Diana thus taken by surprise. Surrounded as she
was by her nymphs, she yet turned half away, and sought with a sudden impulse
for her arrows. As they were not at hand, she dashed the water into the face
of the intruder, adding these words; "Now go and tell, if you can, that you
have seen Diana unapparelled." Immediately a pair of branching stag's horns
grew out of his head, his neck gained in length, his ears grew sharp-pointed,
his hands became feet, his arms long legs, his body was covered with a hairy
spotted hide. Fear took the place of his former boldness, and the hero fled.
He could not but admire his own speed; but when he saw his horns in the water,
"Ah, wretched me!" he would have said, but no sound followed the effort. He
groaned, and tears flowed down the face which had taken the place of his own.
Yet his consciousness remained. What shall he do? - go home to seek the
palace, or lie hid in the woods? The latter he was afraid, the former he was
ashamed to do. While he hesitated the dogs saw him. First Melampus, a
Spartan dog, gave the signal with his bark, then Pamphagus, Dorceus, Lelaps,
Theron, Nape, Tigris, and all the rest, rushed after him swifter than the
wind. Over rocks and cliffs, through mountain gorges that seemed
impracticable, he fled and they followed. Where he had often chased the stag
and cheered on his pack, his pack now chased him, cheered on by his huntsmen.
He longed to cry out, "I am Actaeon; recognize your master!" but the words
came not at his will. The air resounded with the bark of the dogs. Presently
one fastened on his back, another seized his shoulder. While they held their
master, the rest of the pack came up and buried their teeth in his flesh. He
groaned, - not in a human voice, yet certainly not in a stag's, - and falling
on his knees, raised his eyes, and would have raised his arms in supplication,
if he had had them. His friends and fellow-huntsmen cheered on the dogs, and
looked every where for Actaeon, calling on him to join the sport. At the
sound of his name, he turned his head, and heard them regret that he should be
away. He earnestly wished he was. He would have been well pleased to see the
exploits of his dogs, but to feel them was too much. They were all around
him, rending and tearing; and it was not till they had torn his life out, that
the anger of Diana was satisfied.
In Shelley's poem Adonais is the following allusion to the story of
"Midst others of less note came one frail form,
A phantom among men: companionless
As the last cloud of an expiring storm,
Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess,
Had gazed on Nature's naked loveliness,
Actaeon-like, and now he fled astray
With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness;
And his own Thoughts, along that rugged way,
Pursued like raging hounds their father and their prey.'
The allusion is probably to Shelly himself.
Latona And The Rustics.
Some thought the goddess in this instance more severe than was just,
while others praised her conduct as strictly consistent with her virgin
dignity. As usual, the recent event brought older ones to mind, and one of
the bystanders told this story. "Some countrymen of Lycia once insulted the
goddess Latona, but not with impunity. When I was young, my father, who had
grown too old for active labors, sent me to Lycia to drive thence some choice
oxen, and there I saw the very pond and marsh where the wonder happened. Near
by stood an ancient altar, black with the smoke of sacrifice and almost buried
among the reeds. I inquired whose altar it might be, whether of Faunus or the
Naiads or some god of the neighboring mountain, and one of the country people
replied, 'No mountain or river god possesses this altar but she whom royal
Juno in her jealousy drove from land to land, denying her any spot of earth
whereon to rear her twins. Bearing in her arms the infant deities, Latona
reached this land, weary with her burden and parched with thirst. By chance
she espied in the bottom of the valley this pond of clear water, where the
country people were at work gathering willows and osiers. The goddess
approached, and kneeling on the bank would have slaked her thirst in the cool
stream, but the rustics forbade her. 'Why do you refuse me water?' said she;
'water is free to all. Nature allows no one to claim as property the
sunshine, the air, or the water. I come to take my share of the common
blessing. Yet I ask it of you as a favor. I have no intention of washing my
limbs in it, weary though they be, but only to quench my thirst. My mouth is
so dry that I can hardly speak. A draught of water would be nectar to me; it
would revive me, and I would own myself indebted to you for life itself. Let
these infants move your pity, who stretch out their little arms as if to plead
for me;' and the children, as it happened, were stretching out their arms.
"Who would not have been moved with these gentle words of the goddess?
But these clowns persisted in their rudeness; they even added jeers and
threats of violence if she did not leave the place. Nor was this all. They
waded into the pond and stirred up the mud with their feet, so as to make the
water unfit to drink. Latona was so angry that she ceased to mind her thirst.
She no longer supplicated the clowns, but lifting her hands to heaven
exclaimed, 'May they never quit that pool, but pass their lives there!' And it
came to pass accordingly. They now live in the water, sometimes totally
submerged, then raising their heads above the surface or swimming upon it.
Sometimes they come out upon the bank, but soon leap back again into the
water. They still use their base voices in railing, and though they have the
water all to themselves, are not ashamed to croak in the midst of it. Their
voices are harsh, their throats bloated, their mouths have become stretched by
constant railing, their necks have shrunk up and disappeared, and their heads
are joined to their bodies. Their backs are green, their disproportioned
bellies white, and in short they are now frogs, and dwell in the slimy pool."
This story explains the allusion in one of Milton's sonnets, "On the
detraction which followed upon his writing certain treatises."
"I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known laws of ancient liberty,
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs.
As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs
Railed at Latona's twin-born progeny,
Which after held the sun and moon in fee."
The persecution which Latona experienced from Juno is alluded to in the
story. The tradition was that the future mother of Apollo and Diana, flying
from the wrath of Juno, besought all the islands of the Aegean to afford her a
place of rest, but all feared too much the potent queen of heaven to assist
her rival. Delos alone consented to become the birthplace of the future
deities. Delos was then a floating island; but when Latona arrived there,
Jupiter fastened it with adamantine chains to the bottom of the sea, that it
might be a secure resting-place for his beloved. Byron alludes to Delos in
his Don Juan: -
"The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprun