George W. (George William) Cox.

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Benjamin Ide 7/hoeler

A Manual of Mythology.

In the form of question and answer. By Rev. G. W

Cox, M. A. 16mo, illustrated. $1.

From Prof. Max Mullens Chips from a German Workshop.

" Having undertaken to tell what can be told, in two hundred pages,
of classical mythology, he has chosen the most important, the .
instructive, and the most attractive portions of his subject. Thonirh
necessarily leaving large pieces of his canvas mere blanks or co\
with the faintest outlines, he has given to some of his sketches more
life and expression than can be found in many a lengthy article con-
tributed to cyclopedias and other works of reference. But while Mr.
Cox has thus stinted himself in telling the tales of'Greek r.nd Roman
mythology, he has made room for what is an entirely new feature ii
Manual namely, the explanations of Greek and Roaian myths, supplied

by the researches of comparative mythologists That;;

researches, so well summed up in Mr. Cox's * Manual of Mytholog
are in the main tending in the right direction, is, we believe, admitt
by all whose opinion on such matters carries much weight."

From the spectator.

" This new Manual of Mythol'.yy treats the whole subject of the Greek
and Latin mythologies, wit 1 short notices of those of other nation* ;
and adopt* Prof. Max M5ii< i of interpretation. . . . This

treatment of luj-t-.holor/ i a & hold attempt in the right direction, and
Mr. Cox deserves tut; best thanks of educational reformers for his bold-
ness in putting mythology in the sort of dress it will wear to our chil-

From the Saturday Review.

" In a former article we did our best to warn schoolmasters, goyarn-
e^ses, and conscientious mothers, against Hort's Manual of Mythology.
We are glad that, after telling them what to avoid, w-.> can likew
them what to choose. Mr. Cox's Manual of Mythology is the work of
a scholar thoroughly familiar with the sources of classical mythology.
. . . That he is able to sympathize with the ancient stories of
Greece, and to repeat them with truthfulness and vividness, nay, with
the warmth of a poet, he has amply proved by his former publications,
the Tales from Greek Mythology, the Tales of the Gods and Heroes, aric
the Tales of Thebes and Argoe." [See Tales of Ancient Greece below.
tl It does Mr. Cox the greatest credit that in his Manual Q}' Mythology lu
has availed himself so fully of all the new light which the researches oi 1
comparative mythologists have shed on the sacred traditions of Greece
and Rome."

(In Preparation By the same Author. )
Tales of Ancient Greece.

Consisting of the author's "Tales from Greek Mythology," "Tal
of the Gods and Heroes," and " Tales of Thebes and Argos/' rewrittei
and rearranged in one volume. See remarks on these books in notice
of Cox's Mythology, quoted above from the Saturday Review.

The Mythology of the Aryan Nations.
A History of Greece.

. u








First American, from the Second London Edition.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 18(58,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.

t. i



, i > > * e < '

Stereotyped by LITTLE, RKNNIE & Co.,
430 Broome St., New York.



Advertisement 7

Preface 9

The Origin and Growth of Mythology 21


Zeus 29

Poseidon 37

Hades 42

Hera, or Hera 45

Hestia 48

Demel6r , 51

Athene", or Athena 58

Ares 63

Aphrodite 67

HephaBstus 72

Pho3bus Apollo 75

Artemis 83

Hermes 85

Dionysus 95

Heracles 100

Perseus 110

Theseus 121

CEdipus 125

Procris 135

Orpheus 138

Europa 141

Meleagros (Melcager) 144




Phaethon 148

Asklepios (^Esculapius) 151

Admetus 154

Lycaon 155

Deucalion 158

lo 162

Epimetheus 166

Daedalus 169

Niobe , 171

Tantalus 172

Ixion 175

Bellerophon, or Bellerophontes 178

Skylla (Scylla) 181

lamos 183

Amphiaraos 185

Briareos (Briareus) 187

Arethusa 188

Tyro 189

Narcissus 190

The Argonauts 191

The Tale of Troy 198

The return of the Heroes from Troy 216

Inhabitants of the Greek Mythical World 228


Jupiter 238

Neptune 239

Pluto 240

Vesta , 240

Ceres 241

Minerva 241

Mars 242

Venus . . 243



Vulcan 244

Apollo 244

Diana and Janus 244

Mercury 245

^Esculapius 245

Bacchus 246

Hercules 246

Saturn 249

Aurora 250

Avernus 250

Latin deities not identified with Greek gods 251





JSToiisE MYTHOLOGY. . . 273


Mythical Genealogies 283

Index . 291


THE researches of Comparative Mythologists
during the present century have effected a com-
plete revolution in the treatment and classifica-
tion of the various systems of mythology.

The present Manual, which is an attempt to
give the results of those researches in a form
suitable for the young, must necessarily differ
widely from the manuals or elementary works
which have preceded it. But no apology seems
to be needed for changes which remove from
our common heritage of mythical tradition all
that may appear gross and repulsive in it, and
exhibit the exquisite poetry which lies at the
root of all these ancient stories.

In some portions of the subject, differences of
opinion must still exist. I have, therefore, been
careful to make no statements of any importance
for which I cannot claim the authority of such
writers as Niebuhr, Thirlwall, Grimm, Max Miil-
ler, Kuhn, Muir, Cornewall Lewis, Grote, Dasent,


and Breal. The Comparative Mythologist must
still say with Grimm : " I shall indeed interpret
all that I can, but I cannot interpret all that I
should like." I venture, therefore, to add, that
for any suggestions or remarks which may be
forwarded to me through the publishers, I shall
feel grateful. My obligations to Professor Max
Miiller I thankfully acknowledge.

The sections on Vedic, Persian, and Teutonic
Mythology are short ; but a lengthened treat-
ment of these systems would have swelled the
volume to too great a size ; and many names
which are not specially mentioned in those sec-
tions, have been noticed with sufficient fulness
in the section on Greek Mythology.

The references given in the text of the
answers, are to the tales in which the myth or
legend under notice has been recounted at
length. 1

The quantity of syllables in the several names,
is, in all cases which may appear doubtful, given
in the Index.

1 Cox's Tales of Ancient Greece, soon to be published by Leypoldt &


I HOPE that students who may have to use
this little book will read the few sentences which
I write by way of preface.

You may have heard the stories which are
told about Apollo, or Prometheus, or Tantalus ;
and you may have thought them uninteresting,
or tiresome, or horrible. The deeds which they
are said to have done may have seemed to you
(as they seemed to many good men among the
old Greeks and Eomans) the deeds of savages ;
and you may have asked, "Why should we learn
these things at all, and what good will it do us
to know them ?"

You may, perhaps, have been also puzzled by
the many names which you were obliged to
learn without attaching any meaning to them,
and by the ranks or classes into which the gods
and heroes were divided ; and thus you may
have seen nothing good or beautiful in your task


to make up for what was dull or disagreeable
in it.

And yet these old stories about Greek gods,
and nymphs, and Titans, are amongst the love-
liest things which men have ever imagined, as
you will see, I think, if you follow w me in what I
am now going to say.

Many ages ago, long before Europe had any
of the nations who now live in it, and while
everything was new and strange to the people
who then lived on the earth, men talked of the
things which they saw and heard, in a way very
different from our way of speaking now. We
talk of the sun rising and setting, as of some-
thing which is sure to happen : but they did not
know enough to feel sure about these things ;
and so when the evening came, they said, " Our
friend the sun is dead; will he come back
again?" and when they saw him once more in
the east, they rejoiced because he brought back
their light and their life with him. Knowing
very little about themselves, and nothing at all
of the things which they saw in the world
around them, they fancied that everything had
the same kind of life which they had themselves.
In this way they came to think that the sun and
stars, the rivers and streams, could see, and feel,


and think, and that they shone or moved of
their own accord. Thus they spoke of every-
thing as if it were alive, and instead of saying,
as we say, that the morning comes before the
sunrise, and that the evening twilight follows
the sunset, they spoke of the sun as the lover
of the dawn or morning who went before him,
as longing to overtake her, and as killing her
with his bright rays, which shone like spears.
We talk of the clouds which scud along the
sky ; but they spoke of the cows of the sun,
which the children of the morning drove every
day to their pastures in the blue fields of
heaven. So, too, when the sun set, they said
that the dawn, with its soft and tender light, had
come to soothe her son or her husband in his
dying hour. In the same way, the sun was the
child of darkness, and in the morning he wove
for his bride in the heavens a fairy network of
clouds, which reappeared when she came back
to him in the evening. When the sun shone
with a pleasant warmth, they spoke of him as
the friend of men : jyhen his scorching heat
brought a drought, they said that the sun was
slaying his children, or that some one else, who
knew not how to guide them, was driving the
horses of his chariot through the sky. As they


looked on the dark clouds which rested on the
earth without giving any rain, they said that the
terrible being whom they named the snake or
dragon was shutting up the waters in a prison-
house. When the thunder rolled, they said that
this hateful monster was uttering his hard rid-
dles ; and when, at last, the rain burst forth,
they said that the bright sun had slain his
enemy, and brought a stream of life for the
thirsting earth.

Now, so long as men remained in the same
place, there was no fear that the words which
they spoke would be misunderstood : but as
time went on they were scattered, and some
wandered to the south, and some to the north
and west ; and so it came to pass that they kept
the names which they gave to the sun and the
clouds and all other things, when their meaning
had been almost or quite forgotten. In this way
they still spoke of Phoebus as loving Daphne,
after they had forgotten that this meant only
" The Sun loves the Dawn." So the name of
the dew had been Procris^ and it had been said
that the sun killed (dried up) the dew as he
rose in the sky : but now Kephalos (Cephalus)
became a man who, without knowing it, killed
a woman named Procris, whom he loved. In-

niEFACE. 13

stead of saying any more that the moon came
to see the sun die, they said that Selene came
to look on Endymion, or that Antigone soothed
(Edipus in his last hour. Instead of saying
that the sun was the child of darkness, they
said that Phoebus was the son of Leto ; and in
place of the fairy network of clouds, they spoke
of the robe which Helios gave to the wise
maiden Medea. So, too, the dragon or snake
which imprisoned the rain in the clouds, be-
came the Sphinx, and the sun, who smote it,
was turned into (Edipus, who alone could un-
derstand her dark sayings and deliver men from
the plague of drought.

But some of these tales, when so changed,
became coarse or horrible, or even disgusting.
Long ago men had said that the sun, when he
glared too fiercely, killed the fruits which his
warmth was ripening, or that he dried up the
streams over which he passed ; but when they
had forgotten the meaning of the old names,
they spoke of the king Tantalus, who killed and
roasted his own child, and set him on the ban-
quet-table of the gods. It was the same with
the stories told of Heracles (Hercules), which
had once been only a name of the sun. We,
too, might speak now of the sun as " coming


forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber," as
" rejoicing as a giant to run his course," and as
" going about from one end of heaven to the
other ;" 1 we might say that wherever he goes
the earth smiles under his pleasant light, and
yields her fruit with gladness. But when, in-
stead of thinking of the sun, they fancied that
Heracles was a man, then the story went that,
although he was strong, and brave, and kind,
yet he never remained with those whom he had
loved, but constantly found new brides in many
lands ; and just as we might speak of the sun
as feasting on the fruits of the earth, so Her-
acles became a man very fond of eating and
drinking, and at last was changed into some-
thing like a clown or a buffoon.

Thus, then, mythology, as we call it now, is
simply a collection of the sayings by which men
once upon a time described whatever they saw
and heard in the countries where they lived.
This key, which has unlocked almost all the
secrets of mythology, was placed in our hands
by Professor Max Miiller, who has done more
than all other writers to bring out the exquisite
and touching poetry that underlies these an-
cient legends. He has shown us that in this

1 Psalm xix. 5, 6.


their first shape, these sayings were all perfectly
natural, and marvellously beautiful and true.
"We see the lovely evening twilight die out be-
fore the coming night ; but when they saw this,
they said that the beautiful Eurydike (Eury-
dice) had been stung by the ' serpent of dark-
ness, and that Orpheus was gone to fetch her
back from the land of the dead. We see the
light which had vanished in the west reappear
in the east ; but they said that Eurydike was
now returning to the earth. And as this tender
light is seen no more when the sun himself is
risen, they said that Orpheus had turned round
too soon to look at her, and so was parted from
the wife whom he loved so dearly.

And as it is with this sad and beautiful tale,
so it is with all those which may seem to you
coarse or dull or ugly. They are so only be-
cause the real meaning of the names has been
half forgotten or wholly lost. CEdipus and Per-
seus, we are told, killed their parents, but it is
only because the sun was said to kill the dark-
ness from which it seems to spring. So again,
it was said that the sun was united in the
evening to the light from which he rose in the
morning : but in the later story it was said that
GEdipus became the husband of his mother


locaste (Jocasta), and a terrible history was
built up on this notion.

. But, as you see, none of these fearful or dis-
gusting stories were ever made on purpose.
No one ever sat down to describe gods and
great heroes as doing things which all decent
men would be ashamed to think of. There can
scarcely be a greater mistake than to suppose
that whole nations were suddenly seized with a
strange madness, which drove them to invent all
sorts of ridiculous and contemptible tales, and
that every nation has at some time or other gone
mad in this way. You must not fancy that
things so foolish and wicked were done, es-
pecially by that people who have left us the
beautiful legends of Demeter, and Niobe, and
Cadmus, of Helen and (Enone, of Perseus and
Sarpedon. It may be very absurd to be told
that Cronos (the father of Zeus, or Jupiter)
swallowed his own children ; but we know it is
not absurd to say that time swallows up the
days which spring from it ; and the old phrase
meant simply this and nothing more, although
before the people came to Greece they had for-
gotten its meaning.

Thus we may look upon mythology as on
something exceedingly beautiful, over which


much dust has settled, disfiguring some parts
and hiding others. Most of this dust we are
able now to sweep away, and then the jewels
hidden beneath it shine again in all their bril-
liance and purity. You may be sure that in all
these tales there is nothing of which, in its old
shape, we ought to be ashamed, and that, when
you have lifted the veil which conceals them, you
will find only true and beautiful thoughts which
are as much ours as ever they were the thoughts
of men who lived in that very early time.

The task of removing this covering is gener-
ally as easy as it is delightful. Many of these
tales, perhaps most of them, explain themselves.
Phoebus (the shining one) is born in Delos (the
bright land) ; he is the son of Leto (the dark-
ness) ; he slays the children of Niobe (the
clouds which are dried up by the sun). Europa
(the broad shining morning) i3 the daughter of
Telephassa (who gleams from afar). The cattle
of Helios (the sun) are driven to their pastures
by Phaethusa and Lampetie, the bright and glis-
tening children of Neaira (the early morning).
So, as the sun goes from east to west, Europa
is carried westward, and Telephassa dies on
the western plains of Thessaly, just as the twi-
light dies out in the western sky.



I need say no more to show that these old
stories contain the truest and the most touching
poetry poetry which may make us cheerful or
sad, gay or grave, happy or mournful, just as we
might feel if from a mountain-top we were to
watch the shortlived glories of morning and
evening tide. Nor is any thing more needed to
show you that in the mythology, whether of
Greece or Germany or Norway, there is nothing
which should make you less upright and simple,
while there is much in it which you may be the
better and the happier for knowing. All its dis-
agreeable features are simply distortions, caused
by forgetting the original meaning of words ;
and when these are removed, we shall see only
things true and beautiful, lovely and of good re-
port : we shall find there only the simple
thoughts of childlike men on the wonderful
works of God, and nothing which we can laugh
at, or despise, or pity. Their words will make
us feel as we feel when we look on the glory
and beauty of the heavens and the earth, that
the thoughts of God are very deep, and that we
have the same joys and sufferings, the same
fears and hopes, which were felt by these men
and women of old time. And as you read some
of these tales, you will begin to understand how


God led them on, slowly perhaps, yet surely, to
the consciousness that He was a loving and
righteous Father, and that it is He who made
the sun and moon and all other things in their
season. You will see that the Greek or the
Eoman did not pray to the Zeus or the Jupiter
who was unjust, or coarse, or tyrannical. The
god to whom they prayed in times of need or
sorrow was indeed named Zeus (or Jupiter), but
he was, as their own poets expressed it, the
great and holy God who made all things, and
in whom all things live and move and have their

When you come to see this, you may be
thankful that you learnt something about this
old mythology, which grew up slowly without
any wilfully evil thoughts in the minds of Greeks
or Eomans or any other people. The process
was simple, and it could not be avoided. They
never sat down to arrange their gods and heroes
in ranks or classes. The order in which they
are sometimes given is the work of a very late
age ; and if we fix our minds upon it, it will
hinder rather than help us in our efforts to
understand these legends.

I hope that what I have now said may be
clear and intelligible to all. But if any thing


should still seem dark, it will probably not long
remain so. The key now placed in your hands
will unlock almost every door, and wherever you
go, you will find something which will amply
repay you for your trouble. It is scarcely too
much to say that in these old legends we have
" a fountain of delight which no man can ever
drain dry ;" and this delight will, I trust, be felt
by all whom this little book is meant to teach.


1. What is mythology ?

A collection of tales or legends relating to
the gods, heroes, demons, or other beings whose
names have been preserved in popular belief.

2. Are such tales found only in the traditions of the an-
cient Greeks and Romans ?

No ; every nation has had its mythology, and


some nations still retain their old faitli in these
stories. Thus we have the mythology not. only
of Greece and Home, but of India, Persia, Nor-
way, Germany, and other countries.

3. What circumstance is especially forced on our notice
when we compare the legends of these different lands ?

The close resemblance which runs through
them in all their most important features.

4. What is the conclusion to be drawn from this ?

That the legends of all these nations have
one common source.

5. And what is this source ?

The words or phrases used by the most
ancient tribes in speaking of the things which
they saw, heard, or felt in the world around

6. If these words related to things of every-day life, how
came they to give rise to stories about giants and nymphs
and other unreal beings ?

Because, as time went on, and the people
were scattered, the meaning of the old words
was either wholly or in part forgotten.

7. How is this proved ?

By the fact that many names, which in Greek
and Latin have no meaning, are perfectly intel-
ligible in other languages.


8. Give some instances.

Such names as Argynnis, Phoroneus, and
Erinys, are, in Greek, words which convey no
sense : in the old mythology of India they ex-
plain themselves. Erinys is thus seen to be
the dawn as it creeps along the sky ; Argynnis
is a name for the morning, denoting its bril-
liance ; and Phoroneus is the god of fire,

9. Mention an instance in which the old meaning of the
words was not wholly forgotten.

In the story of Endymion, Selene, who visits
him, is still the moon ; all that had been for-
gotten was that Endymion is a name for the
sun as he plunges into the sea : and thus it was
thought that Endymion was some young man
on whom the moon looked down lovingly.

10. Do many names in Greek mythology explain them-
selves in this way ?

Yes. Perhaps the greater number do so.
Thus Phoebus means lord of light or of life;
and Delos, where he is born, means the bright
land. Hence he is also called Lykegenes,
sprung from light. His mother is Leto (Latona),
which means the night, from which the sun
seems to spring. So too Endymion, the setting
sun, sleeps in Latinos, the land of forgetfulness.


11. In these tales are the same names, or names very like
each other, given both to men and women ?

Yes. The mother of Cadmus and Europa is
Telephassa, which means " she who shines from
far." This is only another form of the name
Telephus, who is also a child of Auge, the light.
So too the names Europa and Eurytus, Eury-
medon, Euryanassa, Euryphassa, with many
others, all denote a broad spreading light, like
that of the dawn as it rushes across the sky.

12. Do the incidents in these tales resemble each other
as closely as the names?

Yes. In a very large number of legends the
parents, warned that their son will destroy
them, expose their children, who are saved by
some wild beast and brought up by some herds-
man. The children so recovered always grow
up beautiful, brave, strong, and generous ; but,
either unconsciously or against their will, they
fulfil the warnings given before their birth, and
become the destroyers of their parents,

13. Mention any tales which thus resemble each other.
Perseus, (Eclipus, Cyrus, Eomulus, Paris, are

all exposed as infants, are all saved from death,
and discovered by the splendor of their counte-
nances and the dignity of their bearing. Either
consciously or unconsciously, Perseus kills Acri-


sios, (Edipus kills Laios, Cyrus slays Astyagcs,

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Online LibraryGeorge W. (George William) CoxA manual of mythology in the form of question and answer → online text (page 1 of 13)