Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE DEPARTURE FROM LEMNOS
DAY came when Heracles left the Argo and went on the Lemnian
land. He gathered the heroes about him, and they, seeing Heracles
come amongst them, clamored to go to hunt the wild bulls that
were inland from the sea.
So, for once, the heroes left the Lemnian maidens who were their
friends. Jason, too, left Hypsipyle in the palace and went with
Heracles. And as they went, Heracles spoke to each of the heroes,
saying that they were forgetting the Fleece of Gold that they had
sailed to gain.
 Jason blushed to think that he had almost let go out of his mind
the quest that had brought him from Iolcus. And then he thought
upon Hypsipyle and of how her little hand would stay in his, and
his own hand became loose upon the spear so that it nearly fell
from him. How could he, he thought, leave Hypsipyle and this land
of Lemnos behind?
He heard the clear voice of Atalanta as she, too, spoke to the
Argonauts. What Heracles said was brave and wise, said Atalanta.
Forgetfulness would cover their names if they stayed longer in
Lemnos—forgetfulness and shame, and they would come to despise
themselves. Leave Lemnos, she cried, and draw Argo into the sea,
and depart for Colchis.
All day the Argonauts stayed by themselves, hunting the bulls. On
their way back from the chase they were met by Lemnian maidens
who carried wreaths of flowers for them. Very silent were the
heroes as the maidens greeted them. Heracles went with Jason to
the palace, and Hypsipyle, seeing the mighty stranger coming,
seated herself, not on the couch where she was wont to sit
looking into the face of Jason, but on the stone throne of King
Thoas, her father. And seated on that throne she spoke to Jason
and to Heracles as a queen might speak.
In the hall that night the heroes and the Lemnian maidens who
were with them were quiet. A story was told; Castor began it and
Polydeuces ended it. And the story that Helen's brothers told
THE GOLDEN MAID
 Epimetheus the Titan had a brother who was the wisest of all
Beings—Prometheus called the Foreseer. But Epimetheus himself
was slow-witted and scatter-brained. His wise brother once sent
him a message bidding him beware of the gifts that Zeus might
send him. Epimetheus heard, but he did not heed the warning, and
thereby he brought upon the race of men troubles and cares.
Prometheus, the wise Titan, had saved men from a great trouble
that Zeus would have brought upon them. Also he had given them
the gift of fire. Zeus was the more wroth with men now because
fire, stolen from him, had been given them; he was wroth with the
race of Titans, too, and he pondered in his heart how he might
injure men, and how he might use Epimetheus, the mindless Titan,
to further his plan.
While he pondered there was a hush on high Olympus, the mountain
of the gods. Then Zeus called upon the artisan of the gods, lame
Hephæstus, and he commanded him to make a being out of clay that
would have the likeness of a lovely maiden. With joy and pride
Hephæstus worked at the task that had been given him, and he
fashioned a being that had the likeness of a lovely maiden, and
he brought the thing of his making before the gods and the
All strove to add a grace or a beauty to the work of Hephæstus.
Zeus granted that the maiden should see and feel.
 Athene dressed
her in garments that were as lovely as flowers. Aphrodite, the
goddess of love, put a charm on her lips and in her eyes.
The Graces put necklaces around her neck and set a golden crown
upon her head. The Hours brought her a girdle of spring flowers.
Then the herald of the gods gave her speech that was sweet and
flowing. All the gods and goddesses had given gifts to her, and
for that reason the maiden of Hephæstus's making was called
Pandora, the All-endowed.
She was lovely, the gods knew; not beautiful as they themselves
are, who have a beauty that awakens reverence rather than love,
but lovely, as flowers and bright waters and earthly maidens are
lovely. Zeus smiled to himself when he looked upon her, and he
called to Hermes who knew all the ways of the earth, and he put
her into the charge of Hermes. Also he gave Hermes a great jar to
take along; this jar was Pandora's dower.
Epimetheus lived in a deep-down valley. Now one day, as he was
sitting on a fallen pillar in the ruined place that was now
forsaken by the rest of the Titans, he saw a pair coming toward
him. One had wings, and he knew him to be Hermes, the messenger
of the gods. The other was a maiden. Epimetheus marveled at the
crown upon her head and at her lovely garments. There was a glint
of gold all around her. He rose from where he sat upon the broken
pillar and he stood to watch the pair. Hermes, he saw, was
carrying by its handle a great jar.
 In wonder and delight he looked upon the maiden. Epimetheus
had seen no lovely thing for ages. Wonderful indeed was this
Golden Maid, and as she came nearer the charm that was on her
lips and in her eyes came to the Earth-born One, and he smiled
with more and more delight.
Hermes came and stood before him. He also smiled, but his
smile had something baleful in it. He put the hands of the Golden
Maid into the great soft hand of the Titan, and he said, "O
Epimetheus, Father Zeus would be reconciled with thee, and as a
sign of his good will he sends thee this lovely goddess to be thy
Oh, very foolish was Epimetheus the Earth-born One! As he
looked upon the Golden Maid who was sent by Zeus he lost memory
of the wars that Zeus had made upon the Titans and the Elder
Gods; he lost memory of his brother chained by Zeus to the rock;
he lost memory of the warning that his brother, the wisest of all
beings, had sent him. He took the hands of Pandora, and he
thought of nothing at all in all the world but her. Very far away
seemed the voice of Hermes saying, "This jar, too, is from
Olympus; it has in it Pandora's dower."
The jar stood forgotten for long, and green plants grew over
it while Epimetheus walked in the garden with the Golden Maid, or
watched her while she gazed on herself in the stream, or searched
in the untended places for the fruits that the Elder Gods would
eat, when they feasted with the Titans in the old days, before
Zeus had come to his power. And lost to
Epime-  theus was the memory
of his brother now suffering upon the rock because of the gift
he had given to men.
And Pandora, knowing nothing except the brightness of the
sunshine and the lovely shapes and colors of things and the sweet
taste of the fruits that Epimetheus brought to her, could have
stayed forever in that garden.
But every day Epimetheus would think that the men and women
of the world should be able to talk to him about this maiden with
the wonderful radiance of gold, and with the lovely garments, and
the marvelous crown. And one day he took Pandora by the hand, and
he brought her out of that deep-lying valley, and toward the
homes of men. He did not forget the jar that Hermes had left with
her. All things that belonged to the Golden Maid were precious,
and Epimetheus took the jar along.
The race of men at the time were simple and content. Their
days were passed in toil, but now, since Prometheus had given
them fire, they had good fruits of their toil. They had
well-shaped tools to dig the earth and to build houses. Their
homes were warmed with fire, and fire burned upon the altars that
were upon their ways.
Greatly they reverenced Prometheus, who had given them fire,
and greatly they reverenced the race of the Titans. So when
Epimetheus came amongst them, tall as a man walking with stilts,
they welcomed him and brought him and the Golden
 Maid to their
hearths. And Epimetheus showed Pandora the wonderful element that
his brother had given to men, and she rejoiced to see the fire,
clapping her hands with delight. The jar that Epimetheus brought
he left in an open place.
In carrying it up the rough ways out of the valley Epimetheus may
have knocked the jar about, for the lid that had been tight upon
it now fitted very loosely. But no one gave heed to the jar as it
stood in the open space where Epimetheus had left it.
At first the men and women looked upon the beauty of Pandora, upon
her lovely dresses, and her golden crown and her girdle of
flowers, with wonder and delight. Epimetheus would have every one
admire and praise her. The men would leave off working in the
fields, or hammering on iron, or building houses, and the women
would leave off spinning or weaving, and come at his call, and
stand about and admire the Golden Maid. But as time went by a
change came upon the women: one woman would weep, and another
would look angry, and a third would go back sullenly to her work
when Pandora was admired or praised.
Once the women were gathered together, and one who was the
wisest amongst them said: "Once we did not think about ourselves,
and we were content. But now we think about ourselves, and we say
to ourselves that we are harsh and ill-favored indeed compared to
the Golden Maid that the Titan is so enchanted with. And we hate
to see our own men praise and
 admire her, and often, in our
hearts, we would destroy her if we could."
"That is true," the women said. And then a young woman cried
out in a most yearnful voice, "O tell us, you who are wise, how
can we make ourselves as beautiful as Pandora!"
Then said that woman who was thought to be wise, "This Golden
Maid is lovely to look upon because she has lovely apparel and
all the means of keeping herself lovely. The gods have given her
the ways, and so her skin remains fair, and her hair keeps its
gold, and her lips are ever red and her eyes shining. And I think
that the means that she has of keeping lovely are all in that jar
that Epimetheus brought with her."
When the woman who was thought to be wise said this, those around
her were silent for a while. But then one arose and another
arose, and they stood and whispered together, one saying to the
other that they should go to the place where the jar had been
left by Epimetheus, and that they should take out of it the
salves and the charms and the washes that would leave them as
beautiful as Pandora.
So the women went to that place. On their way they stopped at a
pool and they bent over to see themselves mirrored in it, and
they saw themselves with dusty and unkempt hair, with large and
knotted hands, with troubled eyes, and with anxious mouths.
They frowned as they looked upon their images, and they said in
harsh voices that in a while they would have ways of making
themselves as lovely as the Golden Maid.
 And as they went on they saw Pandora. She was playing in a
flowering field, while Epimetheus, high as a man upon stilts,
went gathering the blossoms of the bushes for her. They went on,
and they came at last to the place where Epimetheus had left the
jar that held Pandora's dower.
A great stone jar it was; there was no bird, nor flower, nor
branch painted upon it. It stood high as a woman's shoulder. And
as the women looked on it they thought that there were things
enough in it to keep them beautiful for all the days of their
lives. But each one thought that she should not be the last to
get her hands into it.
Once the lid had been fixed tightly down on the jar. But the lid
was shifted a little now. As the hands of the women grasped it to
take off the lid the jar was cast down, and the things that were
inside spilled themselves forth.
They were black and gray and red; they were crawling and flying
things. And, as the women looked, the things spread themselves
abroad or fastened themselves upon them.
The jar, like Pandora herself, had been made and filled out of
the ill will of Zeus. And it had been filled, not with salves and
charms and washes, as the women had thought, but with Cares and
Troubles. Before the women came to it one Trouble had already
come forth from the jar—Self-thought that was upon the top of
the heap. It was Self-thought that had afflicted the women,
making them troubled about their own looks, and envious of the
graces of the Golden Maid.
 And now the others spread themselves out—Sickness and War and
Strife between friends. They spread themselves abroad and entered
the houses, while Epimetheus, the mindless Titan, gathered
flowers for Pandora, the Golden Maid.
Lest she should weary of her play he called to her. He would take
her into the houses of men. As they drew near to the houses they
saw a woman seated on the ground, weeping; her husband had
suddenly become hard to her and had shut the door on her face.
They came upon a child crying because of a pain that he could not
understand. And then they found two men struggling, their strife
being on account of a possession that they had both held
In every house they went to Epimetheus would say, "I am the
brother of Prometheus, who gave you the gift of fire." But
instead of giving them a welcome the men would say, "We know
nothing about your relation to Prometheus. We see you as a
foolish man upon stilts."
Epimetheus was troubled by the hard looks and the cold words of
the men who once had reverenced him. He turned from the houses
and went away. In a quiet place he sat down, and for a while he
lost sight of Pandora. And then it seemed to him that he heard
the voice of his wise and suffering brother saying, "Do not
accept any gift that Zeus may send you."
He rose up and he hurried away from that place, leaving Pandora
playing by herself. There came into his scattered mind Regret and
Fear. As he went on he stumbled. He fell
 from the edge of a
cliff, and the sea washed away the body of the mindless brother
Not everything had been spilled out of the jar that had been
brought with Pandora into the world of men. A beautiful, living
thing was in that jar also. This was Hope. And this beautiful,
living thing had got caught under the rim of the jar and had not
come forth with the others. One day a weeping woman found Hope
under the rim of Pandora's jar and brought this living thing into
the house of men. And now because of Hope they could see an end
to their troubles. And the men and women roused themselves in the
midst of their afflictions and they looked toward gladness. Hope,
that had been caught under the rim of the jar, stayed behind the
thresholds of their houses.
As for Pandora, the Golden Maid, she played on, knowing only the
brightness of the sunshine and the lovely shapes of things.
Beautiful would she have seemed to any being who saw her, but now
she had strayed away from the houses of men and Epimetheus was
not there to look upon her. Then Hephæstus, the lame artisan of
the gods, left down his tools and went to seek her. He found
Pandora, and he took her back to Olympus. And in his brazen house
she stays, though sometimes at the will of Zeus she goes down
into the world of men.
When Polydeuces had ended the story that Castor had begun,
Heracles cried out: "For the Argonauts, too, there has been
 a Golden Maid—nay, not one, but a Golden Maid for each. Out of
the jar that has been with her ye have taken forgetfulness of
your honor. As for me, I go back to the Argo lest one of these
Golden Maids should hold me back from the labors that make great
So Heracles said, and he went from Hypsipyle's hall. The heroes
looked at each other, and they stood up, and shame that they had
stayed so long away from the quest came over each of them. The
maidens took their hands; the heroes unloosed those soft hands
and turned away from them.
Hypsipyle left the throne of King Thoas and stood before Jason.
There was a storm in all her body; her mouth was shaken, and a
whole life's trouble was in her great eyes. Before she spoke
Jason cried out: "What Heracles said is true, O Argonauts! On the
Quest of the Golden Fleece our lives and our honors depend. To
Colchis—to Colchis must we go!"
He stood upright in the hall, and his comrades gathered around
him. The Lemnian maidens would have held out their arms and
would have made their partings long delayed, but that a strange
cry came to them through the night. Well did the Argonauts know
that cry—it was the cry of the ship, of Argo herself. They knew
that they must go to her now or stay from the voyage for ever.
And the maidens knew that there was something in the cry of the
ship that might not be gainsaid, and they put their hands before
their faces, and they said no other word.
 Then said Hypsipyle, the queen, "I, too, am a ruler, Jason, and I
know that there are great commands that we have to obey. Go,
then, to the Argo. Ah, neither I nor the women of Lemnos will
stay your going now. But to-morrow speak to us from the deck of
the ship and bid us farewell. Do not go from us in the night,
Jason and the Argonauts went from Hypsipyle's hall. The maidens
who were left behind wept together. All but Hypsipyle. She sat on
the throne of King Thoas and she had Polyxo, her nurse, tell her
of the ways of Jason's voyage as he had told of them, and of all
that he would have to pass through. When the other Lemnian women
slept she put her head upon her nurse's knees and wept; bitterly
Hypsipyle wept, but softly, for she would not have the others
hear her weeping.
By the coming of the morning's light the Argonauts had made
all ready for their sailing. They were standing on the deck when
the light came, and they saw the Lemnian women come to the shore.
Each looked at her friend aboard the Argo, and spoke, and went
away. And last, Hypsipyle, the queen, came. "Farewell,
Hypsipyle," Jason said to her, and she, in her strange way of
"What you told us I have remembered—how you will come to the
dangerous passage that leads into the Sea of Pontus, and how by
the flight of a pigeon you will know whether or not you may go
that way. O Jason, let the
 dove you fly when you come to that
dangerous place be Hypsipyle's."
She showed a pigeon held in her hands. She loosed it, and the
pigeon alighted on the ship, and stayed there on pink feet, a
white-feathered pigeon. Jason took up the pigeon and held it in
his hands, and the Argo drew swiftly away from the Lemnian land.