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THE GIFT OF THE MUSES
 IT happened on a warm day in summer that a man and a
boy lay down under a tree. There was a cold fountain
close by. It ran over a grassy slope among images and
statues which showed it to be a fountain sacred to the
There was a choir of grass-hoppers in the tree and they
added their music to the summer-like harmony of the
 The man was a famous wise man and he said to the boy,
"The grass-hoppers are singing over our heads as is
their custom in the heat of the day.
They are talking with each other and appear to be
looking down on us. If they should see us falling
asleep, as most men do at noontime, they would think us
indolent of mind, and they would laugh us to scorn.
They would say some slaves or other had come to listen
to their music and that they had gone to sleep like
sheep by the side of the fountain.
But if they see us talking together and sailing by them
 they were sirens who had lost their power of
enchantment, the gift which the have from the Muses, to
confer upon men, they may perchance bestow upon us. "
"What is this gift from the gods?" said the boy. "I
have never heard of it."
"It is not proper," said the man, "that a lover of
wisdom should not have heard of these things. Know,
then, that it is said that these grass-hoppers were men
before the Muses were born.
But when the Muses came they invented song, and some
of the men who lived at that time, were so overcome by
the pleasure of listening to their singing that they
forgot to eat and drink.
Thus they died thoughtlessly from starvation. From
their bones the race of grass-hoppers sprang up, and
the Muses gave them this gift, that they could live
without food from the time of their birth, and they
could sing all the time without food or drink until
And the Muses gave them another gift, that after death
they should go to the Muses and live with them, and
inform each Muse by whom she was honored on the earth.
So now they tell the goddess of the dance who honors
her and they make the dancers dear to
 that goddess.
And they tell the goddess of love all about lovers.
And so on with all the rest.
But the goddess of wisdom and the goddess of learning
they tell of t hose that pass their lives in speaking
wisely. And upon these people most of all, the Muses
pour forth their heavenly gifts. Therefore, my boy,
let us not sleep lest we lose the gift of the Muses. "
"No, indeed," said the boy, "let us talk of wise things
and not sleep."