| Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers|
|by Mary E. Burt|
|Twenty-seven stories adapted for young children from selections of works of classic writers of the ancient world. The stories were chosen by the author for their inspirational value, either 'because they contained fine moral points, or else because they were poetic statements of natural phenomena which might enhance the study of natural science.' Writers represented in the collection include Plato, Homer, Hesiod, Aristophanes, Pliny, and Ovid. Ages 6-9 |
THE MOUNTAIN THAT LOVED A WHITE WAVE
 THERE is a huge mountain standing down by the blue sea. It has stood there ages and ages
and is just as firm on its base as ever. It is covered over with shaggy woods and it
has a great eye in the middle of its forehead, a large fiery eye.
Perhaps we ought to call it a mouth instead of an eye, for it grumbles and mumbles
and mutters dreadful things.
The mountain carries a mighty
 fire in its bosom and when it is not asleep it hurls rocks far out into the sea or down
into the valley at its foot.
There are rivers running down the mountain. They gather red sand from the red rocks
as they go dashing along so that they look like red rivers. They run to meet the white
waves of the sea, and the white waves come rushing up to receive them as if they
were very welcome visitors.
When the winds blow, the old mountain looks over the waters and if it isn't blind,
it must see hundreds of white waves come frolicking up until they dash on the shore at its base.
 If the grand old mountain had a heart in his bosom as well as a raging fire, how he
would love the blue sea with its hundreds of white waves sporting like water-nymphs
on dolphins' backs. It must be that the old mountain did love the waves, or how could
people have thought of the story which they told about him.
Old Nereus, they said, was a grand old sea-god, a servant to Neptune, who dwelt in the
waters, and he had a hundred daughters who lived in a splendid cave at the bottom of the sea.
When the winds blew and the dolphins rolled sporting on the waves, these sea-nymphs came up
 to ride about on their backs and enjoy the rocking of the billows. Now one of these
nymphs was named Galatea, and she was very white, as white as marble. And she
combed her hair while she swam around basking in the sunshine. There was a great
giant standing on the shore. He had one vast fiery eye in the middle of his forehead.
He was a shaggy monster who muttered and mumbled and threw great stones when angry.
GALATEA AND CYCLOPS
He looked out upon the waters and saw the beautiful Galatea with
 her white robes and her white face surrounded by her hundred sisters. When the
rough old giant looked at her, his heart began to melt within him and he loved the
white maiden with a raging love that kindled a mighty fire in his bosom.
He never had been used to comb his hair and his locks had become stiff for want of
brushing. As soon as he saw Galatea, he began to think how he might make himself
beautiful. So he took a great rake and raked out his hair which hung in masses over his brows.
And he cut his shaggy beard with a sickle and having no mirror, he looked into the
waters at his fierce face to see how to compose
 his features, how to wreathe his face in sweet smiles.
The old Cyclops had looked cross so long that it was not easy to look pleasant at
once. For a long time the ships came and went in safety before him. He threw no
stones at them lest the white water-nymph might see him and fear him. There is a
great hill in the form of a wedge, which projects out over the sea. The waves of the
ocean flow around it on both sides.
The giant sat down on the middle of this rock to watch for Galatea. He forgot his
woolly sheep, which followed him because there was no one to care for them. He
laid down his staff at his feet.
 It was a pine-tree as large as the mast of a ship. He took up a pipe of a hundred reeds
and began playing on it. So loud was his music that the mountain trembled and the
sea shook from shore to shore. He sang these words playing on the pipe:
"O Galatea! fairer than the petal of the snow-white blossom, more blooming than
the meadows, brighter than glass, clearer than ice, more beauteous than apples,
whither has thou fled?
If thou didst know me thou wouldst repine at having fled and thou wouldst call me to thee.
I have a cave in the mountain where the warm sun is not felt in
 summer nor the cold in winter. There are apple-trees laden with fruit and golden grapes on
the vines, as well as purple ones. I will give thee both kinds, and with thy white hands thou
shalt gather strawberries in the wood-land shade.
And when I am thy husband I will bring thee chestnuts and fruit from all the trees.
I am so rich in cattle that I cannot count them, and here is an abundance of milk and
cheese. I will give thee
rab-  bits and goats and a pair of doves, or a nest from the top of a tall tree. I have found on the
mountain top the twin cubs of a shaggy bear, so like each other that thou canst not tell
them apart and thou shalt have them for play-mates.
Oh, Galatea, lift thy white face out of the blue sea and do not scorn my presents. Surely I
know myself how beautiful I am for I have looked in the smooth waters and have seen
my image. Yes, I looked at myself in the waters and my figure pleased me very much.
See how huge I am. Even Jupiter is not larger than I.
Plenty of hair hangs over my grisly features, and, like a grove,
 it covers my shoulders. Do not think it unhandsome that I am covered with stiff bristles.
A tree is covered with leaves, feathers cover the birds, and wool is an ornament to
sheep. So my shaggy hair and rough beard are ornaments to me.
I have but one eye in the middle of my forehead. The Sun looks down from the
heavens and beholds all things, yet the Sun has but one eye. And my father, Neptune,
owns the sea in which you live. Him I offer you for a father-in-law.
 And if you do not hear my prayer, I shall carry a volcano in my heart, so great will be my fury."
Galatea was afraid of this shaggy monster and beside that she had promised to marry a
very gentle youth whose name was Acis. Acis was wandering about on the top of the
mountain when the Cyclops began his song and he felt the mountain shake with the
great roar and he was frightened for fear that the Cyclops might throw .a huge stone
at Galatea if she scorned him.
So Acis began to run down the side of the mountain. Like a deer, he bounded over
the rocks to reach Galatea that they might hide away from the Cyclops in the dark sea
 caves. And Galatea was frightened, too, and she came swimming up to meet him,
hand in hand With her hundred sisters, her face whiter than it had ever been before.
When Cyclops saw Acis hurrying to meet Galatea, the raging fire in his bosom
burned more fiercely than ever and he hurled an immense rock at the youth.
The rock was so large that Acis was completely buried under it and the Cyclops
thought he had crushed him to death.
But Acis was instantly changed into a leaping river which ran out from under the rock and in that
 form went leaping toward the sea. At first it was very red, all stained with his blood,
but it cleared itself as it ran on and on, growing whiter and brighter until it leapt into
the sea and clasped the beautiful Galatea in its limpid eddies. Then Galatea and her
hundred sisters took Acis down to their home in the sea caves and there they all lived
as happily as if Cyclops had never thrown any rocks.
And now you may tell me whether we have been reading about a giant and his sheep
and sea-nymphs and a gentle youth, or about a mountain, a volcano, a river, fleecy
clouds, sea-waves, and other things in nature.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics