| Stories of the Ancient Greeks|
|by Charles D. Shaw|
|Delightful collection of both mythological and historical stories of the ancient Greeks, in language simple enough for younger listeners, yet appealing to all ages. Provides an excellent introduction to ancient Greece, beginning with 32 of the best-known myths, and then continuing with 32 short stories of the historical era, arranged in chronological order. An extensive pronunciation guide is included. Ages 8-11 |
AMONG THE STARS
HE Greeks did not know that the stars were worlds, but
fancied that they were the homes of bright spirits who
once had lived on earth. In fact, they often spoke as
if the stars were the spirits themselves.
In the northern sky are seven bright stars arranged in
a peculiar order, which have been noticed and admired
from very early times.
These are sometimes call the "Dipper," but they are
part of a group named the "Great Bear."
It was said that Hera was angry with a woman called
Callisto and changed her into a bear. Instead of being
beautiful she became frightful, and dogs and hunters
chased her through the forest. She still kept her
human knowledge and feelings, and was afraid, not only
of the hunters, but of the wild beasts among who she
must live. For many years she remained in that
When she lived among mankind she had a son whom she
love dearly; but when she was a bear she did not dare
go near him. He had grown up, when she met him one day
in the woods, and ran toward him, forgetting that she
was a wild beast.
The lad was afraid, and was just about to kill her with
his hunter spear. Zeus, who saw this, was sorry for
both. He caught them up into heaven
and set them there. The mother is the
"Great Bear," and another smaller group of stars near
by is called the "Little Bear."
These stars move always around the North Pole, and
never set in the ocean as other stars seem to do. The
last star in the tail of the Little Bear is the Polar
Poseidon had a son named Orion. He was a giant and
very fond of hunting. His father had taught him how to
walk under water, or, as some say, on the water.
He loved Merope, daughter of the king of Chios, who
told him that he must clear that island of wild beasts
before he could claim his bride. Orion went into the
forest every day, and at night carried to the king the
skins of the beasts he had killed. When there were no
more wolves or bears on the island, he said, "Now, give
me your daughter."
But the king made so many excuses that Orion tried to
carry off the girl. Her father was angry. He gave
wine to Orion, and, when he had taken too much, blinded
him with hot irons, and threw him out on the seashore.
When he came to himself he wandered around until heard
the noise of a hammer. He followed it and came to the
place where Hepæstus was working. The blacksmith
was sorry for the poor blind giant, and sent a man to
lead him into the sun. They went eastward until they
met Apollo, who gave Orion his sight again.
He then became a hunter for Artemis. She loved him and
would have married him, but her brother, the sun-god,
did not like that, and determined to prevent it. One
 day he saw Orion wading in the sea with his head just
out of water.
"Sister," said Apollo, "you think you are a good shot
with your arrows."
"Yes, I am," she said.
"Well, do you see that black thing bobbing up and down
in the sea? I don't believe you can hit that in three
"You shall see," cried Artemis. She shot one arrow,
and the black thing disappeared. After a while the
waves rolled poor Orion to the shore. Artemis was very
sorry, but she could not bring back his life. She
could only set him among the stars, where he shines on
winter nights. Three bright stars are his belts. Look
up into the sky any clear night in December, and you
can see his belt, and, hanging below it, his sword.
His dog, Sirius, is at his heels, and the Pleiades fly
before him. They were seven sisters who hunted with
Artemis. One day in his lifetime Orion chased them,
and they prayed to the gods for help. Zeus changed
them into pigeons, but afterward set them into the sky
as a group of stars. We can only see six now, because,
it is said, one of them could not bear to look down and
see the burning city of Troy. Her son had founded that
city, and she was so sorry for its ruin that she went
away, and since then has never been seen. She is
called "The Lost Pleiad." Her sisters were so grieved
that since then they have shone with a paler light.
There is another group of stars, called the Hyades, of
 which this story was told. When the god of wine,
Dionysus, or Bacchus, was a little child, his mother, Semele,
died, and he was left helpless. A
family of sisters pitied him, and took care of him
until he was grown up. The king of the gods was
greatly pleased with their kindness, and to reward them
took them up to heaven, and made them shine like stars.
They are often called "the rainy Hyades."
Other constellations or clusters of stars were supposed
to be shaped like animals. Not only were there two
bears, but also a lion, a bull, a ram, a goat, a crab,
a scorpion, and two fishes. Among these the sun
journeyed every day, though his bright light hid them
from human eyes.
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