| 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 |
 PAN led a merrier life than all the other gods together.
He was beloved alike by shepherds and countrymen, and by
the fauns and satyrs, birds and beasts, of his own kingdom.
The care of flocks and herds was his, and for home he had
all the world of woods and waters; he was lord of everything
out-of-doors! Yet he felt the burden of it no more than he
felt the shadow of a leaf when he danced, but spent the days
in laughter and music among his fellows. Like him, the fauns
and satyrs had furry, pointed ears, and little horns that
sprouted above their
brows; in fact, they were all enough like wild creatures to
seem no strangers to anything untamed. They slept in the
sun, piped in the shade, and lived on wild grapes and the
nuts that every squirrel was ready to share with them.
The woods were never lonely. A man might wander away
into those solitudes and think himself friendless; but here
and there a river knew, and a tree could tell, a story of
its own. Beautiful creatures they were, that for one reason
or another had left off human shape. Some had been
transformed against their will, that they might do no more
harm to their fellow-men. Some were changed through the pity
 the gods, that they might share the simple life of Pan,
mindless of mortal cares, glad in rain and sunshine, and
always close to the heart of the Earth.
There was Dryope, for instance, the lotus-tree. Once a
careless, happy woman, walking among the trees with her
sister Iole and her own baby, she had broken a lotus that
held a live nymph hidden, and blood dripped from the wounded
plant. Too late, Dryope saw her heedlessness; and there her
steps had taken root, and there she had said good-bye to
her child, and prayed Iole to bring him sometimes to play
beneath her shadow. Poor mother-tree! Perhaps she took
comfort with the birds and gave a kindly shelter to some
There, too, was Echo, once a wood-nymph who angered the
goddess Juno with her waste of words, and was compelled now
to wait till others spoke, and then to say nothing but their
last word, like any mocking-bird. One day she saw and loved
the youth Narcissus, who was searching the woods for his
hunting companions. "Come hither!" he called, and Echo cried
"Hither!" eager to speak at last. "Here am I,—come!"
he repeated, looking about for the voice. "I come,"
said Echo, and she stood before him. But the youth, angry at
such mimicry, only stared at her and hastened away. From
that time she faded to a voice, and to this day she lurks
hidden and silent till you call.
But Narcissus himself was destined to fall in love with a
shadow. For, leaning over the edge of a brook one day, he
saw his own beautiful face looking up at him like a
water-nymph. He leaned nearer, and the face rose towards
him, but when he touched the surface it was gone in
a hundred ripples. Day after day
 he besought the lovely
creature to have pity and to speak; but it mocked him with
his own tears and smiles, and he forgot all else, until he
changed into a flower that leans over to see its image in
There, too, was the sunflower Clytie, once a maiden who
thought nothing so beautiful as the sun-god Phœbus Apollo.
All the day long she used to look after him as he journeyed
across the heavens in his golden chariot, until she came to
be a fair rooted plant that ever turns its head to watch the
Many others were there. Daphne the laurel, Hyacinthus (once a
beautiful youth, slain by mischance), who lives and renews
his bloom as a flower,—these and a hundred others. The
very weeds were friendly. . . .
But there were wise, immortal voices in certain caves and
trees. Men called them Oracles; for here the gods spoke in
answer to the prayers of folk in sorrow or bewilderment.
Sometimes they built a temple around such a befriending
voice, and kings would journey far to hear it speak.
As for Pan, only one grief had he, and in the end a glad
thing came of it.
One day, when he was loitering in Arcadia, he saw the
beautiful wood-nymph Syrinx. She was hastening to join Diana
at the chase, and she herself was as swift and lovely as any
bright bird that one longs to capture. So Pan thought, and he
hurried after to tell her. But Syrinx turned, caught one
glimpse of the god's shaggy
locks and bright eyes, and the two little horns on his head
(he was much like a wild thing, at a look), and she sprang
away down the path in terror.
Begging her to listen, Pan followed; and Syrinx,
 more and
more frightened by the patter of his hoofs, never heeded
him, but went as fast as light till she came to the brink of
the river. Only then she paused, praying her friends, the
water-nymphs, for some way of escape. The gentle,
bewildered creatures, looking up through the water, could
think of but one device.
Just as the god overtook Syrinx and stretched out his arms
to her, she vanished like a mist, and he found himself
grasping a cluster of tall reeds. Poor Pan!
The breeze that sighed whenever he did—and oftener—shook
the reeds and made a sweet little sound,—a sudden music. Pan
heard it, half consoled.
"Is it your voice, Syrinx?" he said. "Shall we sing together?"
He bound a number of reeds side by side; to this day,
shepherds know how. He blew across the hollow pipes and
they made music!
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