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ticular attention has been given to that article in the composition of this volume. It is expressly written for the use of young persons of both sexes, and I confidently trust that nothing will be found in it, to administer libertinism to the fancy of the stripling, or to sully the whiteness of mind of the purest virgin.
Another circumstance equally called upon me for exertion and diligence. The Gods of the Greeks are reckoned to amount to no fewer than thirty thousand. It is not much to be wondered at, that in discussing so multifarious a polytheism, the writers who have hitherto employed themselves in composing manuals on the subject have produced nothing but disorder and confusion. No person in reading these books could collect any distinct and well-ordered idea of the hierarchy of Heaven; and accordingly men in other respects no contemptible scholars, will often be found deficient in just notions on this point. I have set myself with some assiduity to disembroil this chaos; and though I have by no means done it in all instances to my satisfaction, yet I think it will be acknowledged that some success has attended my endeavours.
Anxious to take away from the subject the dry and dantic air which has usually characterised books of this sort, I have further endeavoured to make my narrative as simple and direct as possible. I have not been forward to collate the glosses of different commentators, and to bring together the discordant genealogies which by one writer or another have been exhibited in so doubtful a subject. This ambiguity has been carried the farther by my predecessors, from the improper use they have made of Cicero's Books on the Nature of the Gods. That great Roman has put into the mouth of Cotta, the Sceptic in his Dialogue, all the inconsistencies, real or specious, that could be raked together as accusations against the established religion: no orthodox believer would ever have talked as he does, of three Jupiters, five Mercuries, and six Demigods of the name of Hercules; nor is this to be admitted as a fair and impartial statement of the Grecian
religion. It is not the object of this book to make its young reader an adept in all the distinctions and controversies of mythology; I shall have more effectually succeeded in my design, if I leave upon his recollection a grand picture of the system of the fabulous Gods, and a bold outline of the properties and adventures attributed to each.
Different writers both in France and England have undertaken to show, that the whole system of the Grecian mythology is allegorical, and that, however its inventors and teachers accommodated themselves to the vulgar apprehension by a multiplication of their Gods, and assigning to every province and energy of nature its separate Deity, the true sense was not the less carefully explained to the refined and the liberal; the real object being nothing more than a mystical, but pure and just, representation of the attributes of the Father of the Universe. With this disquisition the present work has no strict concern. Such enquiries belong rather to philosophy, than poetry. It was no part of my purpose (the purpose of presenting an introduction to the study of the poets), to strip the Grecian religion of its beautiful forms, and present it in the nakedness of metaphysical truth; it was rather incumbent upon me to draw out those forms in their utmost solidity and permanence, and "give to airy nothing a local habitation" and substantial character.
The uses of the study of ancient mythology are, 1. to enable young persons to understand the system of the poets of former times, as well as the allusions so often to be found interspersed in writers of a more recent date: 2. as a collection of the most agreeable fables that ever were invented, it is admirably calculated to awaken the imagination; imagination, which it cannot be too often repeated, is the great engine of morality: 3. it presents us with an instructive lesson on the nature of the human mind, laying before us the manners and prejudices of a nation extremely different from our own, and showing us to what extravagant and fantastic notions of the invisible world the mind, once bewildered in error, may finally be led.
CHAP. II. Genius of the Grecian Religion.—Of }
CHAP. III. Of Allegory.-Historical Origin of
CHAP. IV. Of the Term God.-Of Worship,
CHAP. V. Of the Religious Ceremonies of the
CHAP. VI. Of the more Ancient Gods,
CHAP. IX. War of the Giants,
CHAP. X. Of the Family of Iapetus, and the
Creation of Man,
CHAP. XI. Of the Rural Deities,
CHAP. XII. Of the Domestic Deities,
CHAP. XIII. Of Monsters,
CHAP. XIV. Of the Gods of the Sea and the
CHAP. XV. Of the Gods of Hell,
CHAP. XVI. Of the Gods Representative of the
CHAP. XVII. Of Demigods,
CHAP. XVIII. Of Bacchus, God of Wine,
CHAP. XXI. Of Perseus and Medusa,
CHAP. XXII. Of the Family of Tantalus,
Loves of the Gods,
CHAP. XXIV. Of Hercules,
CHAP. XXV. Of the Argonautic Expedition, ..
CHAP. XXVI. Of the Argonauts,
CHAP. XXVII. Of Theseus,
CHAP. XXVIII. Of dipus King of Thebes,
and his Posterity,
CHAP. XXIX. Of the City of Troy,
CHAP. XXX. Of Romulus,
Statues of the Greeks Venus de Medicis, Apollo Belvidere, and Hercules Farnese.-Jupiter of Phidias.Grecian Games.-Beautiful Forms of the Greeks. Pantheon at Rome.
ONE reason why the Gods of the Greeks are so interesting to us, is that the Greeks were the finest writers in the world; and they have said such fine things about their Gods, that nobody who is acquainted with their writings, can recollect these imaginary beings without emotions of pleasure.
The Greeks are also supposed to have been the finest statuaries and painters that ever existed: none of their pictures, and few of their statues, have come down to us: but those we have, arc the wonder and admiration of every body that understands in what the highest excellence of the human form, and the imitations of the human form, consists: for all the Gods of the Greeks were represented under the forms of men; what