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II. ISMENUS.

ISMENUS is a river of Boeotia, that washes the walls of Thebes. It was formerly called the foot of Cadmus, upon this occasion. When Cadmus had slain the dragon which kept the fountain of Mars, he was afraid to taste of the water, believing it was poisoned; which forced him to wander about in search of another fountain to allay his [p. 479] thirst. At length, by the help of Minerva, he came to the Corycian den, where his right leg stuck deep in the mire. And from that hole it was that, after he had pulled his leg out again, sprung a fair river, which the hero, after the solemnity of his sacrifices performed, called by the name of Cadmus's foot.

Some time after, Ismenus, the son of Amphion and Niobe, being wounded by Apollo and in great pain, threw himself into the said river, which was then from his name called Ismenus;—as Sostratus relates in his Second Book of Rivers.

Near to this river lies the mountain Cithaeron, formerly called Asterion for this reason. Boeotus the son of Neptune was desirous, of two noble ladies, to marry her that should be most beneficial to him; and while he tarried for both in the night-time upon the top of a certain nameless mountain, of a sudden a star fell from heaven upon the shoulders of Eurythemiste, and immediately vanished. Upon which Boeotus, understanding the meaning of the prodigy, married the virgin, and called the mountain Asterion from the accident that befell him. Afterwards it was called Cithaeron upon this occasion. Tisiphone, one of the Furies, falling in love with a most beautiful youth whose name was Cithaeron, and not being able to curb the impatience of her desires, declared her affection to him in a letter, to which he would not return any answer. Whereupon the Fury, missing her design, pulled one of the serpents from her locks, and flung it upon the young lad as he was keeping his sheep on the top of the mountain Asterion; where the serpent twining about his neck choked him to death. And thereupon by the will of the Gods the mountain was called Cithaeron;—as Leo of Byzantium writes in his History of Boeotia. But Hermesianax of Cyprus tells the story quite otherwise. For he says, that Helicon and Cithaeron were two [p. 480] brothers, quite different in their dispositions. For Helicon was affable and mild, and cherished his aged parents. But Cithaeron, being covetous and greedily gaping after the estate, first killed his father, and then treacherously threw his brother down from a steep precipice, but in striving together, fell himself along with him. Whence, by the providence of the Gods, the names of both the mountains were changed. Cithaeron, by reason of his impiety, became the haunt of the Furies. Helicon, for the young man's love to his parents, became the habitation of the Muses.

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