previous next
It was a very true story, quoth Pittacus, and there are divers still alive who will attest it, if need be. The builders or founders of Lesbos were commanded by the oracle to sail till they came to a haven called Mesogaeum, there they should sacrifice a bull to Neptune, and for the honor of Amphitrite and the sea-nymphs they should offer a virgin. The principal persons in this colony were seven in number; the eighth was one Echelaus by name, and appointed head of the rest by the oracle himself; and he was a bachelor. A daughter of one of these seven was to be sacrificed, but who it should be was to be decided by lot, and the lot fell upon Smintheus's sister. Her they dressed most richly, and so apparelled they conveyed her in abundance of state to the water-side, and having composed a prayer for her, they were now ready to throw her overboard. There was in the company a certain ingenuous young gentleman whose name was Enalus; he was desperately in love with this young lady, and his love prompted him to endeavor all he could for her preservation, or at least to perish in the attempt. In the very moment she was to be cast away, he clasps her in his arms and throws himself and her together into the sea. Shortly after there was a flying report they were both conveyed safe to land. A while after Enalus was seen at Lesbos, who gave out they were preserved by dolphins. I could tell you stories [p. 39] more incredible than these, such as would amuse some and please others; but it is impossible to command men's faith. The sea was so tempestuous and rough, the people were afraid to come too near the waters, when Enalus arrived. A number of polypuses followed him even to Neptune's temple, the biggest and strongest of which carried a great stone. This Enalus dedicated, and this stone is therefore called Enalus to this day. To be short and to speak all in a few words,—he that knows how to distinguish between the impossible and the unusual, to make a difference between the unlikely and the absurd, to be neither too credulous nor too distrustful,—he hath learned your lesson, Do not overdo.1

1 Μηδὲν ἄγαν, Ne quid nimis.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: