THE aim of this volume is to present

 
The two charming love-stories which come second and third in this series, though unquestionably Greek in origin, reach us from Roman sources, and bear clear evidence in their form and spirit of belonging to a later age. The character of the love romance in "Hero and Leander" and the transparent allegory of "Eros and Psyche" (Love and the Soul), leave little doubt on this point. The former tale is ascribed to a late Greek epic poet, Mus?us, of whom nothing else is known; and the latter we owe to Apuleius, a Roman philosopher and man of letters in the second century a.d.
 
The fifth and tenth stories (in both of which Atalanta appears) rest in their present shape on the authority of Apollodorus; but the incidents of the Calydonian boar-hunt, and the race for the hand of the princess, won by the suitor's clever trick of the golden apples, are found as local traditions connected with two different parts of Greece, Arcadia and B?otia, and may be in their earliest form of great antiquity.
 
The two fanciful stories of Echo and Narcissus, and Alpheus and Arethusa, which form the sixth and ninth in this series, are among the prettiest of Nature myths, and are characteristic Greek inventions. The chase of Arethusa under the sea by the river-god Alpheus was to a Greek the most natural of fancies, for to him all water was protected by, or identified with, some god, nymph, or spirit; and the fancy was especially easy to a dweller in the limestone district of Arcadia, where streams may run underground for long distances, and reappear as full-grown rivers from a cavern at the foot of the hills. The tale of Echo in its present form comes only from Latin poetry (Ovid); but the fancy that Echo was a spirit or nymph, which is the heart of the story, may well be of unknown antiquity, especially among the most imaginative of races, living in a land of rocky hills, the native home of echoes.
 
Of the remaining stories (Pygmalion, Orpheus, and ?none), the briefest comment will suffice. The beautiful and pathetic tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, which is best known to us from the incomparable version of it at the close of Vergil's fourth "Georgic," we know on good evidence to have been extant at least as early as ?schylus (fifth century b.c.), and possibly much earlier. The touching story of ?none is post-Homeric, and is known to us only from Ovid and Apollodorus. It is familiar to all Englishmen from the two beautiful poems of Tennyson, which are respectively among the earliest and latest of his works. The strange yet striking tale of Pygmalion also comes to us from Apollodorus; and though it may be much older, it is perhaps not likely to belong to an earlier time than the fourth century b.c., a date which seems to be suggested both by the character of the story, and the development of the art of sculpture implied in.

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