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[4]

Now the Dawn snatched away Tithonus for love and brought him to Ethiopia, and there consorting with him she bore two sons, Emathion and Memnon.1


1 As to the love of Dawn (Eos) for Tithonus, see the HH Aphr. 218ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 18; Scholiast on Hom. Il. 11.1; Prop. ii.18.7-18, ed. Butler. Homer speaks of Dawn (Aurora) rising from the bed of Tithonus (Hom. Il. 11.1ff.; Hom. Od. 5.1ff.). According to the author of the Homeric hymn, Dawn obtained from Zeus for her lover the boon of immortality; according to the Scholiast on Homer, it was Tithonus himself who asked and obtained the boon from the loving goddess. But the boon turned to be a bane; for neither he nor she had remembered to ask for freedom from the infirmities of age. So when he was old and white-headed and could not stir hand or foot, he prayed for death as a release from his sufferings; but die he could not, for he was immortal. Hence the goddess in pity either shut him up in his chamber and closed the shining doors on him, leaving him to lisp and babble there eternally, or she turned him into a grasshopper, the most musical of insects, that she might have the joy of hearing her lover's voice sounding for ever in her ears. The former and sadder fate is vouched for by the hymn writer, the latter by the Scholiast. Tzetzes perhaps lets us into the secret of the transformation when he tells us Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 18 that “the grasshoppers, like the snakes, when they are old, slough their old age” (τὸ γῆρας, literally “old age,” but applied by the Greeks to the cast skins of serpents). It is a widespread notion among savages, which the ancestors of the Greeks apparently shared, that creatures which cast their skins, thereby renew their youth and live for ever. See Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, i.66ff. The ancient Latins seem also to have cherished the same illusion, for they applied the same name (senecta or senectus) to old age and to the cast skins of serpents.

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