| Gods and Heroes|
|by Robert Edward Francillon|
|One of the best introductions to Greek mythology for children. Includes the stories of all the prominent gods and heroes, woven together into a continuous narrative, ending with a full treatment of the twelve labors of Hercules. Ages 8-12 |
THE GODS AND THE GIANTS
HEN Jupiter became god and king of the whole
world, he made his two brothers, Neptune and
Pluto, kings under him. He made Neptune god and
king of the sea: Pluto he made god and king of
Hades. Hades was a world underground, in the
middle of the earth, where men and women go and
live when they die.
The next thing that Jupiter did was to marry Juno.
Their wedding was the grandest and most wonderful
that ever was seen. Invitations were sent out to all
the gods and nymphs. The nymphs were a sort of
fairies—some of them waited upon the goddesses;
some of them lived in rivers, brooks, and trees. All of
them came to the wedding, except one nymph named
She refused to come: and, besides that, she laughed
at the whole thing. When they told her that Jupiter
was going to marry Juno, she laughed so loud that
 Jupiter himself could hear her. I don't know why she
thought it so ridiculous, but I can guess pretty well.
I expect she knew Juno's bad temper better than
Jupiter did, and how Jupiter was just the sort of
husband to spoil any wife's temper. But Jupiter was
very fond of Juno just then, and he did not like to be
laughed at on his wedding-day. So he had Chelone
turned into a tortoise, so that she might never be able
to laugh again. Nobody ever heard a tortoise laugh,
nor ever will.
Jupiter and Juno set up their palace in the sky, just
over the top of Mount Olympus, a high mountain in
the north of Greece. And very soon, I am sorry to
say, his quarrels with Juno began—so that, after all,
poor Chelone had been right in not thinking much of
the grand wedding. He always kept her for his
Queen; but he cared for a great many Titanesses and
nymphs much more than he did for her, and married
more of them than anybody can reckon, one after
another. This made Juno very angry, and they used
to quarrel terribly. But something was going to
happen which was almost as bad as quarreling, and
which must have made Jupiter envy the peace and
comfort of old Saturn, who had become only an earthly
The Titans made another war. And this time they
got the help of the Giants, who were more terrible
 even than the Titans. They were immense monsters,
some almost as tall as the tallest mountain, fearfully
strong, and horribly ugly, with hair miles long, and
rough beards down to their middle. One of them had
fifty heads and a hundred hands. Another had serpents
instead of legs. Others, called Cyclopes, had
only one eye, which was in the middle of their foreheads.
But the most terrible of all was a giant
named Typhon. He had a hundred heads, each like
a dragon's, and darted flames from his mouth and
eyes. A great battle was fought between the gods
and the giants. The giants tried to get into the sky
by piling up the mountains one upon another. They
used oak-trees for clubs, and threw hills for stones.
They set whole forests on fire, and tossed them up
like torches to set fire to the sky. And at last Typhon's
hundred fiery mouths set up a hundred different
yells and roars all at once, so loud and horrible that
Jupiter and all the gods ran away into Egypt and hid
themselves there in the shapes of animals. Jupiter
turned himself into a ram, and Juno became a cow.
But, when their fright was over, the gods came
back into their own shapes, and fought another battle,
greater and more terrible than before. And this time
the gods won. Some of the giants were crushed under
mountains or drowned in the sea. Some were taken
prisoners: and of these some were beaten to death and
 others were skinned alive. Atlas, who was the tallest,
was ordered to spend all his days in holding up the
sky on his shoulders,—how it was held up before, I
do not know. Some of the Cyclopes were set to work
in making thunderbolts for Jupiter. They became the
blacksmiths of the gods, and Mount Ætna, which is a
volcano, was one of their forges.
After this, the gods lived in peace: though Jupiter
and Juno never left off quarreling a good deal.
Jupiter made most of his children gods and goddesses,
and they all lived together over Mount Olympus,
ruling the earth and the sky, and the air, the sun, and
the stars. You will read the stories of all of them.
They used to eat a delicious food called Ambrosia,
and their wine was a wonderful drink called Nectar.
Hebe, the goddess of Youth, mixed and poured out
the Nectar, and Ganymede was Jupiter's own page and
cup-bearer. These gods and goddesses of the sky were
a sort of large family, with Jupiter and Juno for father
and mother. Of course Neptune with his gods of the
sea, and Pluto with his gods of Hades, were like different
families, and lived in their own places.
Whenever it thunders, that is the voice of Jupiter.
One of the planets is named after him—it is a beautiful
large white star. In pictures, he is a large, strong
man, with a thick brown beard, looking like a king.
He sits on a throne, with lightning in his hand, and an
 eagle by his side. Juno is a large, beautiful woman,
tall and grand, looking like a queen, with a proud face
and splendid eyes. The peacock is her favorite bird,
just as Jupiter's is the eagle.
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