| 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 |
A STORY OF THE SETTING SUN
 THERE were three goddesses who lived in the garden of Hesperides where the golden apples
grow. They were very beautiful and rosy, with white robes and golden hair. They
guarded the golden apples and watched over their favorite brother, Phaeton, whose
father was the great, shining sun-god Apollo.
 Apollo used to drive the chariot of the Sun, and he was very skillful and wise about
it. He kept it right in the middle of the heavens where it never ran against anything.
But Phaeton had heard some one say that he did not believe he was the son of Apollo,
because he never drove the heavenly horses and was not allowed the honors of a royal
prince. Phaeton begged his father, therefore, to let him drive the horses and guide the
chariot just for one day, so that he should prove to the people who sneered at him that
he really was beloved of Apollo, and his true son. The father unwillingly consented, and
 Phaeton mounted the chariot and drove off at great speed, but he was unskillful, and
the horses ran hither and thither in confusion, and soon the unhappy youth had driven
so close to the earth that he had scorched its surface everywhere, set the rivers all boiling,
dried up the fountains, burned the trees and the grass, and killed many people.
Jupiter in his wrath, seeing all these things, sent a thunderbolt to strike him dead, and his
beautiful sisters mourned and wept over him. They took his body to a field beyond the
garden of Hesperides and buried it, and erected over it a marble tomb on which was
inscribed these words, "Here lies
 Phaeton, the driver of his father's chariot, which he failed to manage. He died in the attempt to do a
great thing." His father, Apollo, sorrowed greatly over the loss of his son. If we can believe what
they say, he passed a whole day in sorrow, covering his face, and he did not drive the chariot
through the heavens for that day, so that the earth was left in darkness. The flaming forests set on
fire by Phaeton furnished all the light there was.
The Mother of Phaeton, whose name was Clymene, was a tall, dark-robed goddess, whose abode was
beneath the earth. When she learned of the fate of her beloved
 son, she traversed the whole earth, going round and round it full of woe, seeking his
lifeless form, and at last she came to a stream in the field beyond the garden of Hesperides,
on whose bank was the tomb of Phaeton. She laid herself down on the spot and bathed the
stone with her tears and warmed it with her kisses. The daughters of the Sun mourned no
less and wept unavailing tears over his death. There they called upon him night and day,
and lay on the ground near his tomb.
Four times did the Moon fill out her great round disk while they remained at the tomb
and uttered lamentations. Jupiter was angry
 with them for mourning so long over their brother, and decreed that they should remain
at the tomb and continue weeping forever. When they tried to rise from the ground they
found that their feet were rooted to the spot, and that their arms were stiffened. They had
turned into weeping-willow trees.
When their mother saw them turning into trees, she ran to them and pressed her lips to
theirs in a last kiss, and the bark of the tree came over them and covered them. There
they continued standing, and the tears oozed down their new formed branches and
hardened in the sun. The rain beat upon them
 and carried the hardened tears off into the river, down to the sea, and the sailors
gathered them for jewels. But Jupiter said to the other gods, let no one dare to
condemn the will of Zeus. Behold the fate of these maidens. Their. fidelity has
been their ruin.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics