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ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL HEATHEN GODS.
by oral traditions, or written records. Fable is a creature of the human imagination, and owes its birth to that love of the marvellous, by which man is so peculiarly distinguished. Many circumstances conspired to extend and establish the empire of fable. The legislature employed fiction as the most effectual means of civilizing a rude world; philosophers, poets, and musicians, made this a vehicle of instruction to the savage tribes. A fondness for fable, and her attendants allegory and personification, early characterized the Orientals. The boldness and the extravagance of their mythology are to be attributed, in a great measure, to the genial warmth of the climate, and to the fertility of the soil ; to the face of nature perpetually blooming around them; and to the opportunity they had of contemplating the heaven ly bodies, continually shining under a cloudless sky. These were soon considered as the residence of Divine intelligence, and worshipped, together with the elements, as deities. The historians of antiquity were all poets. To immortalize the heroes, whose deeds they described, they elevated them to the skies, and bestowed on them the names of the celestial luminaries. The sculptor and the painter exercised all their skill to encourage this strange delusion. The use of hieroglyphics was another fertile source of error. The minutest animals and plants were worshipped as emblems of Deity.
QUESTIONS.-1. What does mythology comprehend ? 2. What is Fable? 3. By whom, and for what ends, was fiction employed? 4. What characterized the Orientals, or eastern nations? 5. What occasioned their peculiar mythology ? 6. Why did ancient historians encourage mythology? 7. To what other causes is this delusion to be attributed ?
Account of the principal Heathen Gods. Before the birth of our Saviour, the Jews were the only nation of the world who worshipped the true God. All the other nations worshipped different imaginary beings, which existed only in their absurd and ridiculous fancies. Most of these false gods, however, have now become forgotten, together with the nations that believed in them; but it is
ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL HÈATHEN GODS.
necessary to preserve a knowledge of the gods and goddesses worshipped by the Greeks and Romans, as they are much spoken of in the finest writings of antiquity, and are still frequently mentioned both in poetry and in prose. The most ancient of their gods were Cha'os, and his son Erlebus; or confusion, and darkness. Saturn, one of their descendants, is the same as Time : his reign is called the Golden Age; and it is said, that the earth then produced corn and fruits without labour, and justice prevailed among all mankind. Saturn was deposed by his son Jupiter, called also Jove; who then divided his father's power between himself and his two brothers, Neptune and Pluto. Jupiter was to reign over heaven ; and he was said to hold his court, or council of the gods, on the top of Olym'pus, a mountain in Thes'saly. He is called by the ancient poets, the king of gods and men; and the eagle is represented as being the bearer of his thunderbolts. Neptune, the god of the sea, is represented with a trident, or fork with three teeth in his hand instead of a sceptre. He was drawn in his chariot by sea-horses, with his son Triton blowing a trumpet made of a shell, and dolphins playing round him.
The dominions of Pluto, the god of the infernal regions, were divided into two parts, called Tar'tarus and Elys'ium. Tartarus was the place where the souls of the wicked were punished, and Elysium was the scene of perpetual happiness allotted to the good. The passage from the earth to these regions was across the river A'cheron, over which the departed spirits were conveyed by an old boatman, named Cha'ron; and the further bank was also guarded by a dog with three heads, named Cer'berus. There were two remarkable rivers of Tartarus: one named Styx, which the gods used to swear by when they intended to make their oath very solemn; and another named Le'the, which caused whoever bathed in it to forget every thing that was past. .Mars, the son of Jupiter, was the god of war. Apol·lo, likewise the son of Jupiter, was the god of music, poetry, and medicine. He is also represented as driving the chariot of the sun, drawn by four horses abreast; or rather, he is the sun itself. As a mark of affection, he intrusted this chariot one day to his son Phaëton; who was killed by being thrown out of it, but not till after he had set a part of the earth on fire. Apollo is called also Phæbus, and Hype'rion; and is
ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL HEATHEN GODS.
represented as a beautiful young man, without a beard, and with graceful hair. Mercury, a son of Jupiter, was the messenger of the gods; and is therefore represented with wings to his cap and his feet. He was said to be the inventor of letters, and hence he is the god of eloquence; and was the god of trade, and thence also of thieves. He was called also Her'mės; and is represented as carrying a wand, called cadu'ceus, with two serpents twisting round it. Vulcan, the god of fire and of smiths, was the artificer of heaven; and made the thunderbolts of Jupiter, and the armour and palaces of the gods. It is said that one of his principal forges was within Mount Etna. He is called also Mul'ciber.
The foregoing are the principal gods, but there were many of a second or still lower order. Bac'chus was the god of wine, and was crowned with leaves of the vine and the ivy. E'olus was the god of the winds: the north wind was called Boʻreas, the south wind Au'ster, the east wind Eu'rus, and the west wind Zeph'yrus. Moʻmus was the god of satire, and likewise of laughter and jokes. Plu'tus was the god of riches. Hy'men was the god of marriage : he is represented with the burning torch. Cu'pid was the god of love: he is represented as a beautiful child, but blind or hoodwinked, and carries a bow and arrows. Ja'nus, a god with two faces, looking forward and backward, had a temple which was open in time of war, and shut in peace. Escula'pius was an inferior god of medicine, below Apollo : he is represented as accompanied by a serpent, which was thought the most long-lived of all animals. Pan was the god of shepherds; and he is represented as having horns, and as carrying the musical instrument, now called Pan's pipes. There were other rural deities called Sat'yrs, Fauns, and Sylvans; their figures were half man and half goat, and they dwelt chiefly in forests. Every river also was supposed to have its own god; who was drawn with a long beard, a crown of reeds, and leaning on an urn. There were likewise a great number of demi-gods, or half-gods; the principal one of these was Her'cules; who was accounted the god of strength, from his having performed some wonderful undertakings, called his Twelve Labours. He is represented leaning on a large club, and wearing a lion's skin.
278 ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL HEATHEN GODDESSES.
Account of the principal Heathen Goddesses. Ju'no was the wife of Ju'piter, and was of course the queen of heaven. She is represented as drawn by peacocks in a chariot of gold. Her favourite messenger was I'ris the goddess of the rainbow. Miner'va, a daughter of Jupiter, was the goddess of wisdom and of war.
She was represented in complete armour, bearing a shield, called ægis, with a head on it, so terrible, that every one who looked on it was turned into stone. She was likewise the patroness of spinning, needle-work, and embroidery. She was called also Pallas, and her principal eniblem was the ow. Dian'a was the twin sister of Apollo; and as he drove the chariot of the sun, so she presided in that of the moon. the goddess of hunting ; and is drawn as carrying a bow and arrows, with a half moon as an ornament on her furehead, and attended by several nymphs as her companions, and by her hounds. She is called also Phæbe; and Cyn'. thia, from having been born on Mount Cynthus, and she had a very famous temple at Ephiesus, which is mentioned in the New Testament, in the 19th chapter of the Acts.
Venus was the goddess of beauty and of love; and the wife of Vulcan, and mother of Cupid ; her chariot was drawn by doves, and the myrtle was sacred to her. She was said to have sprung from the sea, near the island of Cythe'ra ; and her most celebrated temple was at the city of Pa'phos, in the island of Cyprus; hence she is called also Cythere'a; and the Pa'phian, or the Cyprian, goddess. Ves'ta was the goddess of the earth and of fire. In her temple at Rome, a perpetual fire was maintained, which was kindled from the rays of the sun, and was constantly watched by priestesses chosen from the most noble families. They were called vestal virgins, and had very great honours and privileges. Ce'res was the goddess of corn and of harvest. Cyb'ele was one of the most ancient of the goddesses, being the wise of Saturn; and in some respects represents the earth. She is displayed as crowned with towers, holding a key in her hand, and drawn in her chariot by lions. Pros'erhe was the wife of Pluto, and of course the queen of the ernal regions. She was the daughter of Ceres. Amphi
ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL HEATHEN GODDESSES. 279
triste was the wife of Neptune. Her sister was Tho'tis, another sea-goddess; and hence, when the sun sets, she is said to sink into Thetis's lap. The foregoing are the principal goddesses.
Flo'ra was the goddess of flowers, and Pomo'na was the goddess of fruits.
Bello'na was an inferior goddess of war. Auroʻra was the goddess of the morning, or rather of daybreak. The'mis, the sister of Sa'turn, was the goddess of righteousness and justice : her daughter Astre'a also represents justice; she is sometimes called the Virgin, and in this character has a place among the stars, being denoted by the constellation Vir'go, or the Virgin. Hyge'ia was the goddess of health. He'be was the goddess of youti), and was cup-bearer to Jupiter. A'te was the goddess of mischief. The Muses were nine virgin-goddesses who presided over every kind of learning, and in that character attended on Apollo. They were sisters ; the principal of them were Cli'o, who was the muse of history ; Thali'a, of comedy, Melpom'ene, of tragedy ; Terpsic'hore, of dancing; and Ura'nia, of mathematics and astronomy. They are sometimes called merely the Nine, in reference to their Zumber.
Parnas'sus and Hel'icon were two mountains Sucred to Apollo and the Muses; at the feet of which flowed two streams, whose waters were supposed to communicate the inspiration of prophecy, or of poetry. Pegʻasus was a winged horse of the Muses. The Graces were three sisters, who were supposed to give its attractive charms to beauty of every kind, and to dispense the gift of pleasing. The Furies were three sisters of a very different character; they were the most deformed and horrible of all the dcities. Instead of hair, they had snakes hanging from their heads. They carried chains, and whips with lashes of iron or of scorpions in one hand, and lighted torches in the other. They were the bearers of the vengeance of heaven. The Destinies or Fates, were also three sisters, of whom one was represented as holding a distaff; another drawing from it a thread, signifying the life of man; and the third with a pair of shears, ready to cut the thread whenever she should choose. The Dry'ads and Ham'adryads were rural goiidesses, each having a single tree in her charge. The Na'. íads were goddesses presiding over springs, wells, and foun