Stories of the Old World

Stories of the Old World

Alfred John Church
Alfred John Church

Author: Church, Alfred John, 1829-1912
Greek — Juvenile literature
Roman — Juvenile literature
Stories of the Old World


Author of “Stories from Homer,” “Stories from Virgil,” “Stories from Livy,” etc.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1884, by
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

J. S. Cushing & Co., Printers, 115 High Street, Boston.


Chapter I. 7
Chapter II. 19
Chapter III. 30
Chapter I. 47
Chapter II. 57
Chapter I. 69
Chapter II. 86
Chapter III. 109
Chapter IV. 128
Chapter V. 147
Chapter VI. 156
Chapter VII. 171
The Adventures of Ulysses.
Chapter VIII. 182
Chapter IX. 204
Chapter X. 210
Chapter XI. 220
Chapter XII. 229
Chapter XIII. 237
Chapter XIV. 242
Chapter I. 247
Chapter II. 265
Chapter III. 291
Chapter IV. 307
Chapter V. 331
Chapter VI. 342


In “The Adventures of Æneas” the names of the gods are of the Latin form. As the story is taken from Virgil, this could not be avoided. The following table sets forth the correspondence of the Greek and Latin names:—

Greek. Latin.
Zeus Jupiter.
Heré Juno.
Aphrodité Venus.
Ares Mars.
Hermes Mercury.
Poseidon Neptune.
Artemis Diana.



THE son of Cretheus, Æson, bequeathed the kingdom of Thessaly to his brother Pelias, to keep for Jason, his son, whom he had sent to be taught by Chiron, the wise Centaur. Now when Jason was returning from Chiron he came to Anaurus, which is a river of Thessaly, and would have crossed it; but there was an old woman on the river bank, and she entreated of Jason that he would carry her over the river, for she feared herself, she said, to cross it. But the old woman was in truth the goddess Heré, who had taken upon herself the likeness of an old woman to try the young man’s heart. Jason therefore carried her over, but in crossing he lost one of his sandals, for it cleaved to the sand that was in the river; and so he came to the dwelling of King Pelias, where they were preparing a great sacrifice and feast to Poseidon and the other gods. Now there had come an oracle aforetime to Pelias, saying, “Beware of him who shall come to thee with one sandal only, for it is thy doom to die by his means.” Therefore, when Pelias saw Jason come in this plight, he was afraid; also he would fain keep the kingdom for himself. He dared not slay him; but he set him a task from which he might win great renown, hoping that he should never return therefrom; and the task was this: to fetch the fleece of gold from the land of the Colchians.
Now the story of the fleece is this: To Athamas, that was brother to Cretheus, were born two children of Nephele, his wife, and the names of these two were Phrixus and Helle. But Ino, whom Athamas had taken to wife when Nephele was dead, laid a plot against the children to cause them to be put to death, and the plot was this. She persuaded the women of the land to parch with fire the seed of the corn that their husbands sowed in the earth. And when the seed bare no increase, King Athamas sent to inquire of the oracle at Delphi what the cause might be. But Ino persuaded the messengers that they should bring back this message, as though it were the answer of the god, “Sacrifice the two children, Phrixus and Helle, if ye would be rid of this barrenness.” So Athamas, being persuaded, brought the children to the altar to sacrifice them; but the gods had pity on them, and sent a winged ram with a fleece of gold to carry them away. So the ram carried them away; but Helle fell from it and was drowned (for which cause the sea in those parts is called the Sea of Helle to this day), but Phrixus came safe to the land of the Colchians. There he sacrificed the ram as a thankoffering to Zeus, and afterwards married the daughter of the king of that land, and then died. And now Pelias would have Jason fetch the fleece of gold as belonging of right to his own house. To this Jason consented, and he sent messengers through the land of Greece to gather the heroes, that they might be his companions in this labor; and the heroes hearkened to his word.
First there came Orpheus, the great singer of Thrace, who could cause rocks to move from their places, and rivers to stay their course, and trees to follow him, so sweetly he sang; and Polyphemus, who in his youth had fought with the Lapithæ against the Centaurs, and though his limbs were burdened with many years, he bare a brave heart within him; and Admetus of Thessaly, for whom his wife Alcestis was willing to die; and the two sons of Æacus of Ægina, Telamon and Peleus, of whom Telamon dwelt in Salamis, and Peleus in Phthia, for they had fled from Ægina, having slain Phocus, their brother, unwittingly. But Theseus, the bravest of the sons of Attica, came not, being imprisoned with Pirithoüs in the dwellings of the dead. Also there came Tiphys, who was the most skilful of men to foresee when the waves would rise, and the winds blow, and to guide a ship by sun and stars; and Hercules, who was newly come to Argos from Arcadia, whence he had brought alive the great Erymanthian boar, and put him down in the market-place of Mycenæ; and the twin brethren, Castor, the tamer of horses, and Pollux, the mighty boxer; and Lynceus, who was keener of sight than all other men, so that he could see even the things below the earth. With these came also two brethren, sons of Boreas, Prince of Thrace, whom men call also the North Wind. Wings had these two upon their feet,—a wonder to see, black, shining with scales of gold,—and their hair streamed behind them on either side as they ran. These, and many more heroes whom it needs not name, did Jason gather together.
As for the ship Argo, the goddess Athene devised it, but the hands of Argus, the son of Arestor, builded it.
Great was the wonder among the people to see such a gathering of heroes. “Surely,” they said, “they will burn the house of Æætes with fire if he withhold from them the fleece.” But the women lifted up their hands and prayed for a safe return; also they wept one to another, no one more bitterly than Alcimedé, the mother of Jason, casting her arms about her son, and bewailing the day when Pelias had sent him on this errand, seeing that he was her only son, and she would be left desolate and alone. But Jason comforted her, saying that Athene would help him in his quest, and that Apollo had prophesied good things for him; only he bade her abide within the house, lest she should speak some word of ill omen at their departure.
When the heroes were gathered together at the ship, Jason stood up in the midst, and spake: “My friends, seeing that all things are now ready for the voyage, and that there is nothing to hinder us from sailing, the wind being favorable, let us choose for our leader him whom we judge to be the best among us, for our going and our returning concerneth us all.” Then the young men cast their eyes on Hercules, and cried out with one voice that he should be their leader. But the hero stretched forth his right hand from where he sat, and cried, “Not so; let no man seek to give me this honor, for I will not receive it. Let him that hath gathered us be also our leader.” So spake Hercules, and they all were obedient to his word, and chose Jason to be their leader. Then said Jason, “First let us make a feast and a sacrifice to Apollo. But while the slaves fetch the oxen, let us drag down the ship to the sea, and when we have put all her tackling into her, let us cast lots for the benches whereon we shall sit.” Then the heroes undergirded the ship with ropes, that she might be the stronger against the waves; and afterwards, standing on either side, pushed her with all their might; but Tiphys stood in the midst and gave the word, that they might do it with one heart and at one time. Quickly ran the Argo on the slips, and the heroes shouted as she ran. Then they fastened the oars in the rowlocks, and put a mast in the ship, and sails well woven. After this they divided the heroes among the benches, two heroes to a bench; and in the hindmost bench they set Hercules and Ancæus of Tegea, by choice and not by lot, considering the stature of the heroes, for there the ship was deepest. But for helmsman they chose Tiphys by common consent.
After this they built an altar of stones upon the shore. Then Jason prayed to Apollo, “O king, bring us again safe to Greece; so will we offer young bullocks on thy altars, both at Delphi and in Delos. And now let us raise our cable in peace, and give us favorable winds and a calm sea.” Then Hercules smote one of the oxen with his fist between the horns and felled him to the earth; and Ancæus slew the other, smiting him on the neck with an axe. And the young men cut them in pieces, and they covered the thighs with fat, and burned them in the fire. But when Idmon, the seer, saw the blue smoke, how it arose in circles above the flames, he cried, by the inspiration of Apollo, “Truly ye shall come hither again, and bring the fleece of gold with you; but as for me, I must die far from my home in the land of Asia. This, indeed, I knew before, yet am I with you to-day, that I may share the glory of this voyage.” And now the sun was setting, and the heroes sat in order on the shore, and drank the wine out of great cups, talking with each other as men are wont to talk at the banquet. But Jason sat apart, busy with many thoughts, which, when the hero Idas saw, he said, “What fearest thou, son of Æson? By this spear I swear—and in truth my spear helpeth me more than Zeus—thou shalt fail in nought if only Idas be with thee.” And as he spake he raised with both his hands a mighty bowl of wine, and drenched his lips and bearded cheeks. Then the heroes murmured against him; but Idmon, the seer, spake aloud, “These are evil words that thou speakest against thyself. Hath the wine so wrought with thee that thou revilest the gods? Remember the sons of Aloeus, how mighty they were; but when they spake against the gods, Apollo slew them with his darts.” Then Idas laughed aloud, and cried, “Thinkest thou, then, that the gods will slay me as Apollo slew the sons of Aloeus? Only take heed to thyself if thou shalt be found to have prophesied falsely concerning me.” But Jason stayed them, that they should not strive together any more.
After this Orpheus took his harp and sang. He sang how the earth and heaven and sky, having had but one form before, were divided from each other; and how the stars are fixed in heaven; and of the moon and the courses of the sun. Also he sang how the mountains arose, and the rivers flowed; and how of old Chronos reigned in Olympus, ruling the Titan gods, while Zeus was yet a child, dwelling in the caves of Ida, before the Cyclopes had armed his hand with the thunderbolt. Then Orpheus ended his song; but the heroes sat awhile, after that he had ceased, with their heads bent forwards, so mighty was the spell upon them. After this they burnt the tongues of the beasts with fire, and poured wine upon them, and so lay down to sleep.
But when the morning shone on the top of Pelion, Tiphys first woke out of sleep, and roused the heroes, bidding them embark and prepare for rowing. But before they departed came Chiron down from the hills, and his wife with him, carrying in her arms the little Achilles, that Peleus, his father, might embrace him. And Chiron prayed aloud to the gods that the heroes might have a safe return.
Thus did the ship Argo depart upon her voyage. The heroes smote the sea with their oars in time to the music of Orpheus, and drave her on her course with a marvellous quickness. The tackling of the ship glistened like gold in the sun, and the waves were parted, foaming on either side of the prow, and their way was white behind them, plain to see as the path upon a meadow.
So soon as they were clear of the harbor’s winding ways—and well did Tiphys guide them, holding the polished tiller in his hands—they set up the great mast in its socket, fastening it by ropes on either side; and upon the mast they spread out the sail, setting it duly with pulleys and sheets. Then, with the wind blowing fair behind them, they sped forward; and Orpheus sang the while of Artemis; and the fishes followed, leaping out of the sea about the ship, even as sheep when they are fed to the full follow back the shepherd to the sheepfold as he goes before them, making sweet music on his oaten pipe. Past the rocks of Pelion they sped, and Sciathos and Magnessa; and when they came to the tomb of Dolops, they drave their ship to the shore and did sacrifice by the tomb. There they abode for two days, for the sea was stormy; but on the third day they launched their ship and hoisted the great sail. Whereupon to this day they call this place “The Launching of the Argo.” Then as they sailed they saw the valleys of Ossa and Olympus; all night the wind carried them on, and the next day there appeared Athos, the great mountain of Thrace; so great is it that its shadow falls on Myrina in Lemnos, though it be a half-day’s journey for a fleet ship.
Then they came to Lemnos. There, but a year before, had been wrought a dreadful deed; for the women had slain their husbands, aye, and every male throughout the land, lest the children, being grown to manhood, should avenge their fathers. Only Hypsipyle had spared the old man Thoas, her father, hiding him in a cave by the sea, that she might send him away alive. And now the women ploughed the fields, and donned the armor of men; nevertheless, they watched ever in fear lest the Thracians that dwelt on the shore over against them should come upon them. And now, when they saw the Argo and the band of heroes, they sallied forth from their city, duly armed, with Hypsipyle their Queen for their leader; for they thought that now indeed the Thracians were come. Speechless they were for fear, for all their brave show of war. But the heroes sent their herald to tell who they were, and whence they had come, and whither they went. For that day, therefore, they abode on the shore. But the Queen called the women to council; and when these were gathered together, she rose in the midst, and said: “Let us give gifts to these strangers, food and wine; but let them abide without the walls, for we have done a dreadful deed, and it is not well that they should know it. But if anyone have some better counsel, let her speak.” Then Polyxo, that was nurse to the Queen, stood forth. Very old she was; she halted upon her feet, she leant upon her staff; and four young maidens, with long yellow hair, held her up. Yet could she scarce lift up her head, so bowed she was with age; nevertheless, age had not tamed her tongue. Thus she spake: “It is well, as saith the Queen, to send gifts to these strangers. Yet, bethink you, my daughters, what will ye do in the time to come? How will it fare with you, if these Thracians come, or other enemies? When ye are old, how will ye live? Will the oxen yoke themselves to the plough, or the harvests come without toil? As for me, though hitherto the Fates have passed me by, I shall surely die this year or the next, and escape from the evil to come. But what will ye do, my daughters? Wherefore my counsel is that ye make these men the partners of all that ye have.” And the whole assembly gave their consent, and they sent Iphinoe as their herald to the heroes. And when these had heard the words of the daughter of Lemnos, the thing pleased them.
Then indeed had they dwelt in Lemnos to the end of their days, but Hercules called them apart and said: “Did ye come hither, my friends, to marry wives? Are there not maidens fair enough whom ye may wed at home? Will ye be content to plough and sow and reap in Lemnos? Think you that some god will put this fleece of gold into your hands while ye tarry here?” So did he rebuke them; but they answered him not again, nor dared so much as to lift their eyes from the ground. But the next day they climbed into their ship, and ranged themselves in order on the benches, and so departed. And after a while, the south wind blowing, they entered the Hellespont, and passing through it, came to the sea which men call the Propontis, and to a certain city of which Cyzicus was king, and now men call it by his name. Here were they entertained with all hospitality; for the King had been warned that if a ship of strangers should come, he should deal kindly with them, if haply he might so escape his fate. For his fate was this, that he should die by the hands of a stranger. Wherefore he gave them great store of flesh and wine. Now the next day some would climb the hill Dindymus, that they might behol

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