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PREFACE.

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

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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

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licular attention has been given to that article in the com-
position 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 liber-
tinism to the fancy of the stripling, or to sully the white-
ness of mind of the purest virgin.

Another circumstance equally called upon me for exer-
tion and diligence. The Gods of the Greeks are rec-
koned to amount to no fewer than thirty thousand. It is
not much to be wondered at, that in discussing so mul-
tifarious a polytheism, the writers who have hitherto em-
ployed 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 scho-
lars, will often be found deficient in just notions on this
point. I have set myself with some assiduity to disem-
broil 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 en-
deavours.

Anxious to take away from the subject the dry and pe-
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
mypredecessors, 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 es-
tablished religiou: 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

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religion. It is not the object of this book to make its
young reader an adept in all the distinctions and contro-
versies of mythology; I shall have more effectually suc-
ceeded 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 un-
dertaken to show, that the whole system of the Grecianny-
thology is allegorical, and that, however its inventors and
teachers accommodated themselves to the vulgar appre-
hension 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 dis-
quisition 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 Gre-
cian religion of its beautiful forms, and present it in the
nakedness of metaplıysical truth; it was rather incum-
bent upon me to draw out those foris in their utmost so-
lidity 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.

CONTENTS.

PAGE

1

CHAP. I. Introduction,
Chap. II. Genius of the Grecian Religion.-Of}

Abstraction,
CHAP. III. Of Allegory.-Historical Origin of

the Gods of the Greeks,

5

9

-Of }

of} Cha ; }

be}

....

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,

.. 119

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