Imágenes de páginas

ing otherwise, and to higher desires transported, he enjoyed no pleasure at aU by the rest. Of whom.

'Quaerit aquas in aquis, et poma fugacia captat
'Tantalus, hue illi. garrula lingua dedit.'

'H$re Tantalus in water seeks

'For water, and doth miss;
'The fleeting fruit he catcheth at:

'His long tongue brought him this.'

This punishment, they say, was inflicted upon him, for that he discovered the secrets of the gods; that is, because he taught wisdom and virtue to mortal men; which story Cornelius Gallus hath elegantly expressed in verse. Others expound this fable otherwise, and say, that Tantalus, though he excelled in riches, yet being thirsty of more abundance, was never satisfied. Of whom Horace against covetousness:

'Tantalus a labiis sitiens fug*entia captat

'Flumina. Quid rides ? mutato nomine de te

'Fabula narratur.

* The thirsting Tantalus doth catch,
'At streams that from him flee.

'Why laughest thou ? the name but changed,
'The tale is told of thee.'

Others conceive, where it is feigned of Tantalus, that he gave the nectar and ambrosia of the gods to vain and unworthy men, that he was therefore by them in that sort punished. Of which Natalis out of Pindarus:

* Immortalitatem quod furatus, ''Coaetancis convivis

'Nectar ambrosiamque dedit.

'Because that stealing immortality,

* He did both nectar and ambrosia give

'To guests of his own age, to make them live.'

[ocr errors]

Whereby it was meant, that the secrets of divinity ought not to be imparted to the impure vulgar. For, as the cleanest meats, in a foul stomach, are therein corrupted; so the most high and reserved mysteries are often perverted by an unclean and defiled mind.

'To you it is given,' (saith Christ in St. Mark iv. 11.,) ' to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, 4 but unto them that are without, all things be done * in parables.' So it is said of him in Mark iv. 34., that' he expounded all things to his disciples apart,' And therefore doth Gregory Nazianzen infer, upon a place of St. Paul5, * Quod si Paulo licuisset effari 'ea, quorum ipsi cognitionem caelum tertium et us'que ad illud progressio suppeditavit, fortasse de Deo 'nobis aliquid amplius constaret:' if Paul might have uttered the things, the knowledge whereof the third heavens, and his going thither, did bring unto him, peradventure we might know somewhat more of God.

Pythagoras, saith Revelin, thought it not the part of a wise man, ' asino lyram exponere, aut mysteria, 'quae ita reciperet, ut sus tubam, et fidem graculus, 'et unguenta scarabaeus; quare silentium indixitdis'cipulis, ne vulgo divinorum arcana patefacerent, 'quae meditando facilius, quam loquendo apprehen'dantur:' to set an ass to a harp, or to learn mysteries, which he would handle as a swine doth a trumpet, or a jay a vial, or scarabees and unclean flies sovereign ointment; wherefore he commanded silence to his disciples, that they should not disclose divine mysteries to the common sort, which are easier learnt by meditation, than by babbling.—And therefore did the Egyptians communicate their mysteries among their priests, in certain hieroglyphic letters, to the end that their secrets might be hidden from the vulgar; and that they might bestow the more time in the contemplation of their covered meanings.

But to proceed with the contemporaries of Aod, or Ehud. With him it is also said, that Tityus lived, whom

6 Greg, in Oral de recta ratioae di1. de de Deo. 2 Cor. xii.

Apollo slew, because he sought to force his mother Latona. Euphorion hath it thus: that Tityus was the son of Elara, the daughter of Orchomenus; which Elara being beloved of Jupiter, to avoid Juno's revenge, he hid Elara in the earth, where she was delivered of Tityus; whose mother dying, and himself" therein nourished, he was therefore called the son of* the earth. Pausanias, speaking of the grave of this giant, affirms that his body occupies the third part of' a furlong. But Tibullus hath a louder lie of his stature, out of Homer7:

* Porrectusque novem Tityus per jugera lerrae,

* Assiduas atro viscerc pascit aves.'

* Nine furlongs stretch'd lies Tityus,

* Who for his wicked deeds,

* The hungry birds with his

* Renewing liver daily feeds.'

This Strabo doth thus expound: that Apollo killing this cruel and wicked tyrant of Panopea, a city in Phocis, it was feigned by the poets, to the terror of others, that he was still eaten in hell by birds, and yet still lived, and had his flesh renewed.

Admetus, king of Thessaly, lived also in this age, whom, it is said, that Apollo first served as a herdsman, and afterwards for his excellent wit was by him advanced; but having slain Hyacinthus, he crossed the Hellespont, and fled into Phrygia; where, together with Neptune, he was entertained by Laomedon, and got his bread by working in brick, for building of the walls of Troy ;—not by making the bricks leap into their places, by playing on his harp, according to him in Ovid, which saith:

* Ilion aepicies, firinataque turribus altis,

'Moenia Apollineae structa canore lyrse.'

* Strong Ilion thou shalt see,

* With walls and towers high,

* Built with the harp of wise

'Apollo's harmony.*

7 Horn. Odyi. xi.

Thus the poets: but others, that he laboured with his hands, as hired in this work; and that he also laboured at the building of the Labyrinth in Greece, all the Megarians witness, saith Pausanias 8.

In these days also of Ehud, or (as some find it) in the days of Deborah, lived Perseus the son of Jupiter and Danae, by whose soldiers, (as they sailed out of Peloponnesus to seek their adventure on Africa side,) Medusa the daughter and si.ccessor of Phorcus, being weakly accompanied as she hunted near the lake Triton,9 was surprised and slain; whose beauty, when Perseus beheld, he caused her head to be irobalmed, and carried into Greece: the beauty whereof was such, and so much admired, and the beholders so astonished which beheld it, as thereof grew the fiction, that all that looked on Medusa's head were turned into stones.

Cecrops, the second of that name, and seventh king of Athens, and Acrisius the thirteenth, or, after Eusebius, the fourteenth king of the Argives,10 began also their reigns, as it is said, in the time of this judge; of which the first ruled forty years, and the second thirty-one years. Also Bellerophon lived in this age, being the son of Glaucus, the son of Sisyphus ; who, enticed by Antea or Sthenobia the wife of Praetus of the Argives, to accompany her, but refusing it, she accused him to her husband that he offered to force her; whereupon Praetus sent Bellerophon into Lycia, about some affairs of weight between him and his son-in-law Jobates, giving secret order to Jobates to dispatch him; but Jobates thinking it dishonourable to lay violent hands on him, employed him against Chimaera, a monster vomiting or breathing fire. Now the gods (as the report is) pitying his innocency, sent him the winged horse Pegasus, sprung up of the blood of Medusa, formerly slain by the soldiers of Perseus in Africa, to transport him; a horse that

8 Pim. in Att. 9 Triton a lake of Africa, which Piiny calleth Pjliintias.'io. in ycreg. hist. 10 Euieb. in Chron.

none other could master or bridle but Minerva; upon which beast Bellerophon overcame Chimaera, and performed the other services given him in charge; which done, as he returned toward Lycia, the Lyci.ans lay in ambush to have slain him; but being victorious also over all those, he arrived to Jobates iri safety; whom Jobates for his eminent virtues honoured, first, with one of his daughters, and afterward with his kingdom. After which he grew so insolent, as he attempted to fly up to heaven upon his Pegasus; whose pride Jupiter disdaining, caused one of his stinging flies so to vex Pegasus, as he cast off Bellerophon from his back, into the valley of Cilicia, where he died blind; of which burthen Pegasus being discharged, (as the fable goeth,) he flew back to heaven; and being fed in Jupiter's own stable, Aurora begged him of Jupiter to ride on before the sun. This tale is diversly expounded; as first, by some, that it pleaseth God to relieve men in then* innocent, and undeserved adversity, and to cast down those which are too high-minded; according to that which is said of Bellerophon, that when he was exposed to extreme hazard, or rather certain death, he found both deliverance and honour; but waxing over-proud and presumptuous in his glorious fortunes, he was again thrown down into the extremis ty of sorrow and ever-during misery. Secondly, By others, that under the name of Chimaera", was meant a cruel pirate of the Lycians, whose ship had in her prow a lion, a goat in the mid-ship, and a dragon in the stern; of which three beasts this monster Chimaera. was said to be compounded; whom Bellerophon pursued with a kind of galley, of such swiftness, that it was called the flying horse; to whom the invention of sails (the wings of a ship,) are also attributed. Many other expositions are made of this tale by other authors; but it is not unlikely, that Chimaera was

11 Plutarch, in claris mulier.

« AnteriorContinuar »