Over the kingdom of Thessaly, in the days of long ago, there reigned a king whose name was Ceyx, son of Hesperus, the Day Star, and almost as radiant in grace and beauty as was his father. His wife was the fair Halcyone, daughter of Æolus, ruler of the winds, and most perfectly did this king and queen love one another.
Ulysses was well-nigh the last to sail for home after the great city of Troy was taken, for he had tarried many days to do pleasure to Agamemnon, lord of all the Greeks. Twelve ships he had with him—twelve he had brought to Troy—and in each there were some fifty men, being scarce half of those that had sailed in them in the old days, so many valiant heroes slept the last sleep by Simoïs and Scamander, and in the plain and on the seashore, slain in battle or by the shafts of Apollo.
In the country of Thrace, surrounded by all the best gifts of the gods, Orpheus was born. His father was Apollo, the god of music and of song, his mother the muse Calliope. Apollo gave his little son a lyre, and himself taught him how to play it.
After finally ridding himself of the Golden Touch, King Midas had now no wish for golden riches, nor even for power. He wished to lead the simple life and to listen to the piping of Pan along with the goatherds on the mountains or the wild creatures in the woods. Thus, it befell that he was present one day at a contest between Pan and Apollo himself.
In days when the world was young and when the gods walked on the earth, there reigned over the island of Cyprus a sculptor-king, and king of sculptors, named Pygmalion. In the language of our own day, we should call him “wedded to his art.” In woman he only saw the bane of man.
When all the world was young, and nymphs and fauns and dryads dwelt in the forests, there was no nymph more lovely and sweet than she whose name was Echo. Diana would smile on her for her fleetness of foot when she followed her in the chase, and those whom she met in the leafy pathways of the dim, green woods, would pass on smiling at the remembrance of her merry chatter and her tricksy humor.
Arachne was a nymph once, they say—the daughter of Idmon the dyer, of Colophon, a city of Lydia. In all Lydia there was none who could weave as wove the beautiful Arachne.
King Midas ever longed for more gold, that could buy him a place in the world that no descendant of a long race of kings should be able to contest. And from Olympus the gods looked down and smiled and vowed that Midas should have the chance of realizing his heart’s desire.
Once, in the old, old times, a fountain gushed out of a hillside, in the land of Greece. And, for aught I know, after so many thousand years, it is still gushing out of the very selfsame spot. At any rate, there was the pleasant fountain, welling freshly forth and sparkling down the hillside, in the golden sunset, when a handsome young man named Bellerophon drew near its margin.