| Famous Men of Greece|
|by John H. Haaren|
|Attractive biographical sketches of thirty-five of the most prominent characters in the history of ancient Greece, from legendary times to its fall in 146 B.C. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner, and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination. Ages 9-12 |
THE GODS OF GREECE
 IN the southern part of Europe is a little country called
Greece. It is the home of a nation called the Greeks, and
Greeks have lived in it for more than three thousand years.
In olden times they believed that before they came to the
land it was the home of the gods, and they used to tell
wonderful stories of what happened when the gods lived in
the country. One of these stories was about a god called
Cronos, and his children.
Cronos was the first king of the gods. He had a wife named
Rhea. His mother told him that one of his children would
take his kingdom from him. He determined that this should
never happen, and so he swallowed his children as soon as
they were born. His cruelty distressed Rhea very much, and
when a sixth child was born she made a plan to save its
life. She gave Cronos a stone wrapped in baby-clothes, and
this he swallowed.
 Then Rhea took the child and hid him in a cave. And though
the cave was dark he filled it with bright light; so she
named him Zeus, which means brightness. We call him
Jupiter had one of the strangest nurses that a baby ever
had. It was a goat. However, she took such good care of
him that when she died she was changed into a group of
stars, which shine in the sky to this day.
When Jupiter grew up he went to war against his cruel
father. Cronos persuaded some giants, called Titans, to
help him in fighting Jupiter. These Titans were so strong
that they pulled up hills and mountains and threw them at
Jupiter as easily as boys throw snowballs at one another.
Jupiter soon saw that he must find some match for the
Titans. So he asked another family of giants to aid him.
They were called Cyclops, or Round-Eye, because each had
only one eye, which was round and was in the middle of his
forehead. The Cyclops were famous blacksmiths, and they
made thunder and lightning for Jupiter. So when the Titans
hurled mountains, Jupiter hurled back bolts of thunder and
flashes of lightning. The battle was a terrible one.
Jupiter was the victor.
After this great battle Jupiter made Cronos bring back to
life the children whom he had swallowed,
 and then he gave to each of his brothers and sisters a part
of the kingdom of their wicked father. He made himself the
king of the gods, and for his own kingdom he took the blue
sky. He made his sister Here, whom we call Juno, the
goddess of the clouds and queen of all the gods.
To his brother Poseidon, whom we call Neptune, he gave
the ocean, and he made his brother Hades, whom we call
Pluto, king of the regions under the earth and sea.
NEPTUNE AND HIS HORSES
He made his sister Demeter, whom we call Ceres, queen of
the grains, the fruits and the flowers.
His sister Hestia, whom we call Vesta, he made the goddess
of fire and gave her charge of the homes and hearthstones of
WHEN the kingdom of Cronos had been divided, the new rulers
found a great deal to do. In the depths of the sea Neptune
built a palace whose floor was of snow-white shells and
blood-red coral, while the walls were of shining mother-of-pearl.
When the waves above his palace were wild, Neptune
would yoke his brazen-hoofed horses to his chariot and,
standing with his trident, or three-pronged spear, in his
hand, would drive swiftly over
 the water. And as the brazen hoofs of the horses trampled
upon the waves the sea became calm.
The underground world of Pluto was a dreary region. It was
the home of the dead. Round it flowed a black river called
the "Styx," or "Hateful." The only way to cross this river was in
a ferryboat rowed by a silent boatman named Charon. At the
gateway of the under world was the terrible watch-dog
Kerberus, or, as we spell the name, Cerberus. When the old Greeks
buried a person they put a coin in his mouth and a barley-cake
sweetened with honey in his hand. The coin was to pay Charon
for taking the spirit across the Styx and the cake was to be
thrown to Cerberus, so that,
 while he was eating it, the spirit
might pass unnoticed into the spirit-land.
PLUTO AND CERBERUS
No goddess was willing to be Pluto's wife and live in his world of
gloom. So he was very lonely. One day he visited the upper
world in his chariot drawn by four handsome coal-black steeds.
He saw a beautiful maiden, named Persephone, whom we call
Proserpine, gathering flowers in a meadow. Pluto at once bore
her off to his kingdom of darkness and married her. Thus she
became the queen of the lower world.
This made life much pleasanter for Pluto, but it was very hard for
Proserpine. She loved sunshine and flowers, and she grieved for
them so much that at last Jupiter took pity upon her and
persuaded Pluto to let her come back to the land of light for a
part of every year. When she made her yearly visits, the flowers
that she loved so dearly bloomed for her, the grass grew green,
and it was spring. When
 the time came that she must return to Pluto, all the flowers
drooped and died, the grass turned brown, and bleak winter
PLUTO CARRYING OFF PROSERPINE
The sisters of Jupiter had a great deal to do in their fair kingdoms.
Every spring and summer Ceres caused the different kinds of
fruits and grains and flowers to grow. As she could not do all this
work alone she had thousands of beautiful maidens, called
nymphs, to help her. There was a wood-nymph in every tree to
make its leaves green and glossy and to color its blossoms. There
was a water-nymph in every spring that bubbled out of the hills,
and one in every stream that flowed through the valleys. The
nymphs of the springs and brooks watered the plants and crops of
Ceres and made them grow.
 Vesta was the sister to whom had been given charge of the home
and hearthstone. She caused the fires to glow, which burned on
the hearth and made home cheery and gave warmth to the family
and to strangers who came to see them. In every city and town of
Greece a fire sacred to Vesta was always kept burning.
In his kingdom of the sky Jupiter dwelt in splendor, but he was not
always happy; for although Juno, his queen, was a lovely in face
and form, she was more beautiful than good-tempered; and
sometimes she and Jupiter had bitter quarrels.
JUPITER AND JUNO
One of the sons of Jupiter was named
Hermes or Mercury. He
wore golden sandals and carried a wonderful wand. On the heels
of the sandals were wings with which he could fly through the air
like a bird. Because he could travel so swiftly he became the
messenger of the gods.
Another son of Jupiter was Hephaestus, whom we call Vulcan. He was the god of fire and the friend of workers in metals. He
had a great forge under Mount Ætna, and there he made
wonderful things of iron and brass. The round-eyed Cyclops
were his blacksmiths. One day Vulcan was rude to his
 father, who to punish him hurled him from heaven. Vulcan fell
upon rocks and broke his leg and ever after that was lame.
Ares, the terrible god of war, whom we call Mars, was another
son of Jupiter. He delighted in battle and bloodshed.
Apollo and his twin sister Artemis, or Diana, were also
children of Jupiter. They were both beautiful. Apollo's beauty
was so great that when we wish to say that a man is handsome in
face and form, we say, "He is an Apollo." Apollo and Diana
were great favorites with Jupiter, who made Apollo
 the god of
the sun, and Diana the goddess of the moon. To each he gave a
silver bow, from which they shot arrows of light.
The most wonderful daughter of Jupiter was Athene, whom we
usually call Minerva. One day the king of the gods had a
headache from which he could get no relief; so he sent for
Vulcan. When the great blacksmith arrived at his father's palace
Jupiter said to him, "Split open my head with your axe." As soon
as Vulcan had done this, a maiden goddess, clothed in armor,
sprang from the head of Jupiter. The maiden was Minerva, the
goddess of wisdom.
Most beautiful of all the goddesses was Aphrodite, or Venus, who sprang from the foam of the sea. She was the goddess of
love. Several of the gods wished to marry her. Jupiter decided
 matter strangely by giving her to Vulcan, the ugliest of all the
Venus had a son named Eros, or Cupid, the god of love. He
carried a bow and arrows, and if one of his arrows pierced the
heart of a mortal, that mortal fell in love.
JUNO, CUPID, and VENUS
There was a fair goddess named Iris, who caused the rainbow to
brighten dark storm-clouds, and often bore messages from heaven
There were also many other gods and goddesses. Three sisters
were known as the Graces. They made mortals gracious and
lovable, friendly and pleasant in their ways.
 There were three other sisters called the Furies. Their forms were
draped in black, and their hair was twined with serpents. They
punished wicked people and gave them no peace as long as they
Higher than all gods and goddesses were three weird sisters,
called the Fates. Not even Jupiter could change the plans of the
Fates. Whatever they said must come to pass always happened.
Whatever they said should not happen never took place. When a
child was born, one of the sisters began to spin the thread of its
life. The second decided how long the thread should be. The
third cut the thread when the moment came for the life to end.
After men came to Greece and dwelt there the gods and
goddesses withdrew to the far-away peaks of Olympus, the
highest mountain in Greece, and made their home there.
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