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Perseus. Atlas. Andromeda.


The fortune of their grandson, Bacchus, gave
great comfort to them—as a god adored
in conquered India; by Achaia praised
in stately temples. — But Acrisius
the son of Abas, of the Cadmean race,
remained to banish Bacchus from the walls
of Argos, and to lift up hostile arms
against that deity, who he denied
was born to Jove. He would not even grant
that Perseus from the loins of Jupiter
was got of Danae in the showering gold.

So mighty is the hidden power of truth,
Acrisius soon lamented that affront
to Bacchus, and that ever he refused
to own his grandson; for the one achieved
high heaven, and the other, (as he bore
the viperous monster-head) on sounding wings
hovered a conqueror in the fluent air,
over sands, Libyan, where the Gorgon-head
dropped clots of gore, that, quickening on the ground,
became unnumbered serpents; fitting cause
to curse with vipers that infested land.

Thence wafted by the never-constant winds
through boundless latitudes, now here now there,
as flits a vapour-cloud in dizzy flight,
down-looking from the lofty skies on earth,
removed far, so compassed he the world.

Three times did he behold the frozen Bears,
times thrice his gaze was on the Crab's bent arms.
Now shifting to the west, now to the east,
how often changed his course? Time came, when day
declining, he began to fear the night,
by which he stopped his flight far in the west—
the realm of Atlas—where he sought repose
till Lucifer might call Aurora's fires;
Aurora chariot of the Day.

There dwelt
huge Atlas, vaster than the race of man:
son of Iapetus, his lordly sway
extended over those extreme domains,
and over oceans that command their waves
to take the panting coursers of the Sun,
and bathe the wearied Chariot of the Day.

For him a thousand flocks, a thousand herds
overwandered pasture fields; and neighbour tribes
might none disturb that land. Aglint with gold
bright leaves adorn the trees,—boughs golden-wrought
bear apples of pure gold. And Perseus spoke
to Atlas, “O my friend, if thou art moved
to hear the story of a noble race,
the author of my life is Jupiter;
if valiant deeds perhaps are thy delight
mine may deserve thy praise.—Behold of thee
kind treatment I implore—a place of rest.”

But Atlas, mindful of an oracle
since by Themis, the Parnassian, told,
recalled these words, “O Atlas! mark the day
a son of Jupiter shall come to spoil;
for when thy trees been stripped of golden fruit,
the glory shall be his.”

Fearful of this,
Atlas had built solid walls around
his orchard, and secured a dragon, huge,
that kept perpetual guard, and thence expelled
all strangers from his land. Wherefore he said,
“Begone! The glory of your deeds is all
pretense; even Jupiter, will fail your need.”

With that he added force and strove to drive
the hesitating Alien from his doors;
who pled reprieve or threatened with bold words.
Although he dared not rival Atlas' might,
Perseus made this reply; “For that my love
you hold in light esteem, let this be yours.”
He said no more, but turning his own face,
he showed upon his left Medusa's head,
abhorrent features.—Atlas, huge and vast,
becomes a mountain—His great beard and hair
are forests, and his shoulders and his hands
mountainous ridges, and his head the top
of a high peak;—his bones are changed to rocks.

Augmented on all sides, enormous height
attains his growth; for so ordained it, ye,
O mighty Gods! who now the heavens' expanse
unnumbered stars, on him command to rest.


In their eternal prison, Aeous,
grandson of Hippotas, had shut the winds;
and Lucifer, reminder of our toil,
in splendour rose upon the lofty sky:
and Perseus bound his wings upon his feet,
on each foot bound he them; his sword he girt
and sped wing-footed through the liquid air.

Innumerous kingdoms far behind were left,
till peoples Ethiopic and the lands
of Cepheus were beneath his lofty view.

There Ammon, the Unjust, had made decree
Andromeda, the Innocent, should grieve
her mother's tongue. They bound her fettered arms
fast to the rock. When Perseus her beheld
as marble he would deem her, but the breeze
moved in her hair, and from her streaming eyes
the warm tears fell. Her beauty so amazed
his heart, unconscious captive of her charms,
that almost his swift wings forgot to wave.—

Alighted on the ground, he thus began;
“O fairest! whom these chains become not so,
but worthy are for links that lovers bind,
make known to me your country's name and your's
and wherefore bound in chains.” A moment then,
as overcome with shame, she made no sound:
were not she fettered she would surely hide
her blushing head; but what she could perform
that did she do—she filled her eyes with tears.

So pleaded he that lest refusal seem
implied confession of a crime, she told
her name, her country's name, and how her charms
had been her mother's pride. But as she spoke
the mighty ocean roared. Over the waves
a monster fast approached, its head held high,
abreast the wide expanse.—The virgin shrieked;—
no aid her wretched father gave, nor aid
her still more wretched mother; but they wept
and mingled lamentations with their tears—
clinging distracted to her fettered form.

And thus the stranger spoke to them, “Time waits
for tears, but flies the moment of our need:
were I, who am the son of Regal Jove
and her whom he embraced in showers of gold,
leaving her pregnant in her brazen cell, —
I, Perseus, who destroyed the Gorgon, wreathed
with snake-hair, I, who dared on waving wings
to cleave etherial air—were I to ask
the maid in marriage, I should be preferred
above all others as your son-in-law.
Not satisfied with deeds achieved, I strive
to add such merit as the Gods permit;
now, therefore, should my velour save her life,
be it conditioned that I win her love.”

To this her parents gave a glad assent,
for who could hesitate? And they entreat,
and promise him the kingdom as a dower.

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