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Jupiter wished to join in marriage with Thetis, daughter of the sea-god Nereus. But it was prophesied that she should bear a son mightier than his father, so that Jupiter determined to wed her to a mortal, Peleus, son of Æacus. All the deities were invited to the wedding except Eris, goddess of discord. To avenge this slight Eris threw into the assembly a golden apple, upon which was inscribed “ for the fairest.” Juno, Minerva, and Venus claimed the apple, and decided to submit their claims to the judgment of Paris, son of King Priam of Troy. Paris was then a shepherd of the royal flocks on Mt. Ida, having been cast into the wilderness at his birth because his mother had dreamed that she gave birth to a fire brand. Paris awarded the prize of beauty to Venus, who promised him the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife. This was Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, daughter of Tyndarus (or Jupiter) and Leda. Paris came to Sparta as a guest and carried Helen away to Troy.
At the summons of Menelaus, and his brother Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, the Grecian chiefs assembled at Aulis to sail against Troy for the recovery of Helen. At Aulis they were detained by the winds until Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to appease the anger of Diana (Met. xii. 1-34). The siege of Troy lasted ten years, and ended with the destruction of the city. The commander-in-chief of the Grecian force was Agamemnon. The chief heroes were :— Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis, King of the Myrmidons in Phthia ; Ajax, son of Telamon, the brother of Peleus, King of Salamis ; Ulysses, son of Laertes, King of Ithaca ; and Diomedes, King of Argos, though many others played prominent parts in the siege, among them Philoctetes, who bore the arrows of Hercules. The foremost warrior of the Trojans was Hector, the greatest son of King Priam. Æneas, son of Venus and Anchises, was, perhaps, after Hector, the greatest of the Trojan chiefs. Cygnus, son of Neptune, Sarpedon, son of Jupiter, and Memnon, son of Aurora, were prominent allies of the Trojans. In returning from Troy many of the Greek chiefs met with various adventures. Ulysses, whose adventures are narrated in the Odyssey, was driven for ten years about the Mediterranean Sea before he reached Ithaca.
The mythology of Ovid and the other Roman poets was Greek mythology dressed up in Roman names. It is not necessary to remind the reader that the stories here told related to Zeus, Athene, Artemis, and the other members of the Greek Olympus, and could never have been attributed to the sober abstractions of the Roman Pantheon. Nevertheless, in commenting upon Ovid, it is impossible to avoid making use of the names in the same sense that he did, — the names long familiar in modern literature, which took them from the Romans and not the Greeks.
I. THE FOUR AGES AND THE FLOOD.
[Book 1. - 89–415.]
[PROEM (1-4). Description of Chaos (5-20). The Creator assigns the elements to their places, and divides the land from the waters : the zones and climates (26-58). The heavens are clear, and living things come forth upon the earth : lastly man, fashioned by Prometheus in the image of the immortals (69-88). See p. 202.]
The Four Ages : description of the Golden Age (89–112). The Age of Silver, Brass, and Iron : Astræa quits the earth ; the Giants, and men of violence that sprang from their blood (113–162). Jupiter recounts the crimes of Lycaon, and his transformation to a Wolf (163–243). He resolves to drown the world with a Flood rather than destroy it by Fire: description of the Deluge (244-312). The righteous Deucalion with his wife Pyrrha : when the waters are abated, they behold the earth desolate, and beseech aid at the shrine of Themis (313–380). Instructed by the oracle, they cast stones above their heads, which are miraculously converted into human beings, and thus repeople the earth (381-415).
AUREA prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo, sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat. poena metusque aberant, nec verba minacia fixo aere legebantur, nec supplex turba timebat judicis ora sui, sed erant sine judice tuti. nondum caesa suis, peregrinum ut viseret orbem, montibus in liquidas pinus descenderat undas, nullaque mortales praeter sua litora norant.
nondum praecipites cingebant oppida fossae :
Postquam Saturno tenebrosa in Tartara misso
Tertia post illas successit aënea proles, saevior ingeniis, et ad horrida promptior arma, non scelerata tamen. — De duro est ultima ferro. protinus inrupit venae pejoris in aevum omne nefas : fugere pudor verumque fidesque:
in quorum subiere locum fraudesque dolique
130 insidiaeque et vis et amor sceleratus habendi. vela dabant ventis, - nec adhuc bene noverat illos navita, — quaeque diu steterant in montibus altis, fluctibus ignotis insultavere carinae. communemque prius, ceu lumina solis et auras, 135 cautus humum longo signavit limite mensor. nec tantum segetes alimentaque debita dives poscebatur humus, sed itum est in viscera terrae; quasque recondiderat Stygiisque admoverat umbris, effodiuntur opes, inritamenta malorum. ..
Jamque nocens ferrum, ferroque nocentius aurum prodierat; prodit Bellum, quod pugnat utroque, sanguineaque manu crepitantia concutit arma. vivitur ex rapto : non hospes ab hospite tutus, non socer a genero; fratrum quoque gratia rara est. 145 imminet exitio vir conjugis, illa mariti; lurida terribiles miscent aconita novercae; filius ante diem patrios inquirit in annos. victa jacet pietas ; et virgo caede madentes, ultima caelestum, terras Astraea reliquit.
150 neve foret terris securior arduus aether, affectasse ferunt regnum caeleste Gigantas, altaque congestos struxisse ad sidera montes.
Tum pater omnipotens misso perfregit Olympum fulmine, et excussit subjecto Pelion Ossae.
155 obruta mole sua cum corpora dira jacerent, perfusam multo natorum sanguine Terram inmaduisse ferunt calidumque animasse cruorem, et, ne nulla suae stirpis monumenta manerent, in faciem vertisse hominum; sed et illa propago contemptrix superum saevaeque avidissima caedis et violenta fuit; scires e sanguine natos.