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IT is universally confessed that of all systems of mythology and religion, that of the Greeks is the most admirably adapted to the purposes of poetry. The“ elegant forms and agreeable fictions," as Mr. Gibbon so justly styles them, which this scheme of things exhibit, soothes the imagination and feeds the curiosity of the reader with endless variety. The multitude of the Gods of the Greeks, however it might be calculated to shock the reasoning faculty if regarded as an object of faith, suits wonderfully the demands of the composer in verse, and from the majestic presence of Jupiter, to the Dryad of the oak, and the Nymph of the neighbouring fountain, supplies him on all sides with forms and agents to be brought forward at his convenience. They appear to have been scarcely ever conteniplated with those deep emotions which render the mind incapable of yielding to the flights of fancy; at the same time that, as partaking of the seriousness and magnificence of a polished religion, they were in no danger of ranking among the unsubstantial creations of a fairy region.
It was naturally to have been expected that a book containing the elements of this system, would have proved one of the most agreeable presents that could be put into the hands of youth. This has not been the case. The dulness of the compilers in some instances, and, still more extraordinary, their malice in others, have combined to place Pantheons and Histories of the Heathen Gods among the most repulsive articles of the juvenile library. The book in particular, written in Latin by the Jesuit Pomey, and known among us by the name of Tooke, contains in every page an elaborate calumny upon the Gods of the Greeks, and that in the coarsest thoughts
and words that rancour could furnish. The author seems continually haunted by the fear that his pupil might prefer the religion of Jupiter to the religion of Christ.
In writing this little volume I own I have been inpressed with no such fear. We have a religion in which “ life and immortality are brought to light,” and which inculcates the sublime lessons of the unity of God, and the love we should bear to “ our neighbours as ourselves.” This religion fears no comparison with the mythology of ancient Greece. It looks something like blasphemy for a Christian to think it necessary to the cause in which he is engaged, to inveigh against the amours of Jupiter, aud to revive all the libels of the ancient Fathers against the religion of the government under which they lived. I felt no apprehension, that while I vindicated the Heathen mythology from misinterpretation, and endeavoured to conciliate the favour of young persons to the fictions of the Greeks, I should risk the seducing one votary from the cross of Christ.
But while I suffered no apprehension on this side, I conceived I had a duty to perform to the other. The office of the writer of such a book as this, is to prepare bis young readers to admire and to enjoy the immortal productions of Honier, Horace and Virgil. There is no absolute necessity that these productions should be read at all; and it is quite absurd to set young persons upon the perusal of them, unless it be to improve their taste, and unless they are to be regarded as perpetual models in the art of fine writing. I am anxious therefore that every one who reads this book should draw from the perusal of it, not an aversion and contempt for the fictions of Greece and Rome, but an eager anticipation of their beauties, and a frame of mind prepared to receive the most agreeable emotions.
Nor could there indeed be any occasion to exaggerate the licentiousness of the Grecian inventors. It has long been a complaint, that books detailing the History of the Heathen Gods abounded with ideas and pictures by no means proper to be presented to the juvenile mind. Par
licular attention has been given to that article in the com-
Another circumstance equally called upon me for exer-
Anxious to take away from the subject the dry and pe-
religion. It is not the object of this book to make its
Different writers both in France and England have un-
The uses of the study of ancient mythology are, 1. to
CHAP. I. Introduction,
the Gods of the Greeks,
of} Cha ; }
15 Temples, Sacrifices, Altars and Priests, CHAP. V. Of the Religious Ceremonies of the
18 Athenians, CHAP. VI. Of the more Ancient Gods,
32 CHAP. VII. War of the Titans,
36 CHAP. VIII. Of the Twelve Superior Gods, 40 CHAP. IX. War of the Giants,
69 Chap. X. Of the Family of Iapetus, and the Creation of Man,
74 CHAP. XI. Of the Rural Deities,
81 CHAP. XII. Of the Domestic Deities,
98 CHAP. XIII. Of Monsters,
105 CHAP. XIV. Of the Gods of the Sea and the Winds,
113 Chap. XV. Of the Gods of Hell,