| Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew|
|by Josephine Preston Peabody|
|A child's first book of Greek tales containing many of the shorter myths retold with exceptional literary skill. Relates the stories of Prometheus, who brought to earth the bright-eyed fire treasured by the gods; of Orpheus, best of harpers; of the cunning Daedalus; the ambitious Phaethon; Apollo and Diana, and other gods and heroes of the olden time. Designed to supplement the myths retold by Nathaniel Hawthorne in A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales. Ages 8-10 |
PYGMALION AND GALATEA
 THE island of Cyprus was dear to the heart of Venus.
There her temples were kept with honor, and there, some
say, she watched with the Loves and Graces over the long
enchanted sleep of Adonis. This youth, a hunter whom
she had dearly loved, had died of a wound from the tusk of a
wild boar; but the bitter grief of Venus had won over even
the powers of Hades. For six months of every year, Adonis
had to live as a Shade in the world of the dead; but for the
rest of time he was free to breathe the upper air. Here
in Cyprus the people came to worship him as a god, for the
sake of Venus who loved him; and here, if any called upon
her, she was like to listen.
Now there once lived in Cyprus a young sculptor, Pygmalion
by name, who thought nothing on earth so beautiful as the
white marble folk that live without faults and never grow
old. Indeed, he said that he would never marry a mortal
woman, and people began to think that his daily life among
marble creatures was hardening his heart altogether.
But it chanced that Pygmalion fell to work upon an ivory
statue of a maiden, so lovely that it must have moved to
envy every breathing creature that came to look upon it.
With a happy heart the sculptor wrought day by day, giving
it all the beauty of his dreams, until, when the work was
completed, he felt powerless to leave it. He was bound to it
by the tie
 of his highest aspiration, his most perfect
ideal, his most patient work.
Day after day the ivory maiden looked down at him silently,
and he looked back at her until he felt that he loved her
more than anything else in the world. He thought of her no
longer as a statue, but as the dear companion of his life;
and the whim grew upon him like an enchantment. He
named her Galatea, and arrayed her like a princess; he hung
jewels about her neck, and made all his home beautiful and
fit for such a presence.
Now the festival of Venus was at hand, and Pygmalion, like
all who loved Beauty, joined the worshippers. In the temple
victims were offered, solemn rites were held, and votaries
from many lands came to pray the favor of the goddess. At
length Pygmalion himself approached the altar and made his
"Goddess," he said, "who hast vouchsafed to
me this gift of beauty, give me a perfect love, likewise,
and let me have for bride, one like my ivory maiden." And
Home to his house of dreams went the sculptor, loath to be
parted for a day from his statue, Galatea. There she stood,
looking down upon him silently, and he looked back at her.
Surely the sunset had shed a flush of life upon her
He drew near in wonder and delight, and felt, instead of the
chill air that was wont to wake him out of his spell, a
gentle warmth around her, like the breath of a plant. He
touched her hand, and it yielded like the hand of one
living! Doubting his senses, yet fearing to reassure
himself, Pygmalion kissed the statue.
In an instant the maiden's face bloomed like a waking rose,
her hair shone golden as returning
sun-  light; she lifted her
ivory eyelids and smiled at him. The statue herself had
awakened, and she stepped down from the pedestal, into the
arms of her creator, alive!
There was a dream to come true.
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