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University of Louisville
Comparative Literature 101
Comparative Literature 101
University of Louisville
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The Norton Anthology of World Literature (Shorter Second Edition) (Vol. 1)
The Tempest (The Annotated Shakespeare)
Also by William F Russell The Gramma Game The Parents? Handbook of Grammar and Usage Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children More Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children :1 ii I ?1 WILLIAM F RUSSELL,Ed.D. ... ?????.?............... lassic .. .. . ?.... . ..e.. ??? .. .. .. .. ?...... MYTHS ..... ???..?...... ... .. . . .. ... .. . .. to ??????????????????????....... ..... Read Aloud ? ??? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?.?.?? ..??? . ? ??.? ? ? ??.? Crown Trade Paperbacks New York. Contents Reading Myths and the Myths of Reading Using ?A Few Words More? Greek and Roman Gods Listening Level I (Ages 5 and up) The Gift of Athena Icarus and Daedalus The Origin of the Seasons Echo and Narcissus Damon and Pythias The Battle of Marathon Europa and Cadmus The Sword of Damocles Pegasus, the Winged Horse Baucis and Philemon The Spinning Contest Orpheus and Eurydice The Story of lo Halcyone?s Dream Phaėton and the Chariot of the Sun Cupid and Psyche Pygmalion and Galatea The Story of Theseus Part One Part Two Jason and the Golden Fleece Part One Part Two Part Three Copyright © 1989 by William F Russell All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group. Crown Trade Paperbacks and colophon are trademarks of Crown Publishers, Inc. Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Russell, William F., 1945? Classic myths to read aloud / by William F. Russell. p. cm. Summary: Presents the essential Greek and Roman myths that form the basis of our cultural literary heritage. 1. Mythology, Classical?Juvenile literature. 1. Mythology, Classical.j I. Title. BL725.R87 1988 292?.13-.---dcl9 ISBN 0-517-58837-4 88-16230 10 9 8 7 6 CIP 1 6 7 9 11 15 19 26 32 36 42 49 53 59 64 68 73 78 83 90 99 106 112 118 122 126 V 98 CLASSIC MYTHS TO READ ALOUD to ruin. But the power of my love will save you.? And he knelt beside her and kissed her cheek. As if from a dream, Psyche awoke and found herself beau tiful once again. ?Take the box to my mother as she com manded you,? Cupid said, ?and I will take care of the rest.? He spread his rainbow wings once again, and Psyche watched him rise until he was far out of sight. He continued on and up until he reached the heights of Mount Olympus, where all the gods sat feasting, and he begged them to calm his mother?s anger and hatred for Psyche. They heard his story and their hearts were touched; the mighty Jupiter himself lent a favoring ear and, shortly thereafter, called Venus to him and persuaded her to accept Psyche as one of her own. Mercury was dispatched to bring the mortal maid up to Olympus, and there she was of fered ambrosia [am-BRO-zhuh] and nectar on which to feast. ?Take these,? Jupiter said, ?and become immortal; nor shall Cupid ever be apart from you again.? Psyche consumed all that she was given and, thereby, became a goddess. Cupid took her by the hand, and they remained together forever. A Few Words More Psyche is the Greek word for ?soul,? and from this base grew our words psychology, which is the study of (-logy) the mind; psychiatrist, a doctor or healer (-iatric) of disor ders of the mind; psychoanalysis, a technique for analyz ing mental processes; and many others. These words are frequently misspelled by students (and adults), but if one merely remembers the spelling of the maiden?s name that is at the core of all these words?Psyche? most of the subsequent spelling problems disappear. In this myth, too, we see Psyche?s parents consulting an oracle as a means of learning what the future held for their daughter. The word oracle comes from the Latin word that meant ?to speak? (the same root that gives us oral and orator). The priestess at an oracle would often go into a swoon or trance, thereby allowing a god to ?speak? through her and reveal the future. 1 Pygmalion and Galatea About the story: This is the story of a sculptor named Pygmalion, who could not find the ?ideal womat? in the real world, and so he ?created? her out of a block of marble. The British playwright George Bernard Shaw used this general idea as the theme of his play Pygmalion, in which a cultured professor of phonetics ?creates? a charming and sophis ticated lady out of a cockney flower seller simply by teaching her how to speak and act like a lady. Unlike the sculptor in the myth that follows, however, Shaw?s pro fessor discovers to his dismay that the soul he had awakened is now independent and no longer caters to his every zvhim. The play was adapted into one of the world?s favorite musicals, My Fair Lady. Approximate reading time: 14 minutes Vocabulary and pronunciation guide: Pygmalion [pig-MAY-lee-un] Galatea [gal-uh-TEE-uh] Amathus [AM-uth-us] I n the busy seaport of Amathus [AM-uth-us], on the south ern shore of Cyprus, there once lived a sculptor named Pygmalion [pig-MAY-lee-un], whose work meant every thing in the world to him. He scarcely knew any other joy but that which came from carving his statues, and that joy came not from the praises that others lavished on his handiwork, either, but just from the sheer exhilaration of creating beauty where none existed before. He did not choose to have friends or companions among the people in the town, although there were many fair maidens who would gladly have married this maker of beautiful statues. 99 100 CLASSIC MYTHS TO READ ALOUD I Pygmalion and Gala tea 101 There came a day, however, when, for the very first time, Pygmalion felt lonely and dispirited. From an upper window in his studio, he had been looking out at the busy life of the streets and the wharf, and it made him think that his own life, by comparison, was exceedingly dull and uninteresting. Look ing around his quiet studio only increased his loneliness: Of what good were these lovely statues of Minerva or Juno or Di ana to him? What companionship could he find in a marble Mercury? But these gloomy thoughts did not remain with the sculptor very long, for like a shaft of light from the rising sun, an in spiration came suddenly to him, and selecting a block of snow- white marble that had just been brought to his workshop, he began with feverish haste to give form to the shapeless mass. And as his practiced hand wielded the mallet and chisel, he exclaimed, ?0 Venus, goddess of love, I beseech thee: Direct my hand, and from this stone shall come the figure of a maiden worthy of acceptance in your eyes.? Little could Pygmalion imagine how fully his prayer would be answered. Venus heard his request, and forthwith she filled his mind with a vision of womanly beauty beyond anything he had dreamed, and she gave to his chisel the skill to reproduce it in the lifeless marble that stood before him. As the form took shape beneath his hand, its surpassing loveliness stirred him to the depths of his being, and he gave himself up wholly to the inspiration of Venus. Each morning he rose early, and, absorbed in his work, he labored ceaselessly as long as the daylight lasted. Night seemed to him but a cruel interruption to his work, and the dark hours were endurable only when brightened by dreams of the maidenly form that haunted his waking thoughts. Once, when the statue was all but completed, he grew ashamed of the eagerness he was displaying, and he decided to leave his stu dio and spend an entire day out in the woods, hoping that the change of scenery might bring him to a more wholesome frame of mind. But it was all in vain. Never did he spend a more wearisome day in his life. Oh, the countryside was beautiful, to be sure?the gentle West Wind swept over the scented flowers, and the bees busied themselves in the clover?but living things held no interest for Pygmalion that day; all his heart and mind remained back in his workshop with that lifeless form in marble. Long before sunset, he found himself running homeward, murmuring to himself, ?What a fool I was to leave her! What would I do if she were gone when I returned?? And then he paused, somewhat vexed at the realization that he had begun to speak of the statue as if she were a woman of flesh and blood. But this was just a fleeting worry, and he hastened on his way once again. No sooner had he reached his home than, taking up his chisel, he set to work, with such energy that before daylight had faded he had put the last masterly touches to his statue and was feasting his eyes upon the completed marvel. The im age stood with one hand outstretched toward him, and in the other was a beautiful rose. Her lips were parted, but without a smile, and her calm, grave face looked down upon the sculptor with eyes that seemed to harbor something of human love itself. Now, however, his toil finally at an end, Pygmalion felt only grief, and he sat before his creation and lamented, ?What a poor wretch I am. The statue I have fashioned has shown me how deeply I can love, but it is still just a statue. Other men can express their love to real women whom the gods send to them to share their lives, but my love is for no other than this figure in stone. Oh, if I could only perfect my work so that I could give life to this divine figure!? And as his lips framed the hopeless words, the impossibility of his longing sank into his weary soul. For a time, his grief overwhelmed him, but as he grew calmer, he comforted him self with the thought that at least he had this vision of love liness to gaze upon for the rest of his days. He then moved the figure to a place of prominence in his home, and he struggled to position it on a small platform, the better that it might be looked upon and idolized. Next he ransacked his chests in search of the costliest ornaments he owned, and finding his best still too poor for the marble maiden, he visited every jew eler?s shop in the town until he had collected gems that he felt were worthy enough to adorn his beloved. On the rounded arms and the slender fingers he placed bracelets and costly rings, and he encircled the delicate throat with the rarest of CLASS!C MYTHS TO READ ALOUD Pygmalion and Gala tea 103 jiveled necklaces. In the morning, still not content with these o.stly expressions of his devotion, he hurried to his garden and brought bunches of sweet flowers to lay at her feet. ?Dear image of the woman I love,? he cried, ?although you can never move nor speak, yet I will worship you till the day of my death, and you shall be to me just like the living woman of my dreams.? And he did worship her, too, morning and eve ning, just as though she were a goddess from above. But dur ing the day, he would look upon her as a real woman, and would talk to her, praising her loveliness or reproaching her playfully for her silence. He would tell her how honored he was that she would choose to remain with such a dull compan ion as he, and he would often take up a book and read to her a lover?s tale. The love that he had been unable to lavish upon any woman thus found a strange outlet in his devotion to the marble maiden. How foolish it was, and yet how natural, that he should find such pleasure even in pretending that his lovely rooms were at last brightened by the presence of a gracious lady. One morning, Pygmalion was awakened by the singing of townspeople outside his window. When he looked down into the streets, he saw that they were joyously parading behind a statue of Venus?one that his own hands had carved?for this was a day of celebration in honor of the goddess of love. As Pygmalion watched the throng stream past, he recalled many stories of how Venus had come to the aid of wretched, lovelorn men, and how she had often helped those who worshiped her to gain their heart?s desire. ?But of course!? he cried out. ?That is the answer to my loneliness.? Quickly he made himself ready to join the crowd that was following the statue through the streets. He had never before taken part in one of these ceremonies, and so he felt strangely refreshed as he dressed himself in colorful clothes and placed a wreath of flowers atop his head. Then, stooping to kiss the cold white feet of his marble love, he left his house and hastened after the procession, which was wending its way through all the streets in the city. To the impatient Pygmalion, it seemed that the parade was moving far too slowly, and that it needn?t cover every street and alley on its way to the temple of Venus. But in due course the procession finally reached the gates of the temple, and the statue was returned to its place on the altar. Praises were sung and priests conducted long and tedious rites to honor the god dess, but eventually the ceremonies concluded and the citizens returned to their town. Only Pygmalion remained in the tem ple. He crossed the inlaid floor, now thickly strewn with fresh flowers, and, standing before the altar, he threw some sweet incense into the flame, saying, ?Venus, Goddess of Love, to whom all things are possible, refuse not my prayer! Show me your kindness, I beg thee, 0 Goddess! Take pity on one who so madly loves a lifeless form, and grant me my heart?s desire. 0 Venus, I pray you to bestow the gift of life on the one who holds my heart and my soul and all my love.? Pygmalion waited for some sign that his prayer would be answered. He waited still longer, perhaps for a sign that it would be denied. Nothing happened. How foolish he had been, he thought to himself, to ask that marble be changed to flesh and blood. With a sigh of despair, he turned from the altar and passed out through the temple gates and the sur rounding orchard. He saw the townsfolk in the streets laugh ing and making merry with one another, while he alone was walking back to an empty, silent home, without a soul to wel come him. ?Life without companionship?how miserable!? he mur mured, thinking of his fate. And although he was eager to look again upon the face he loved, it saddened him to remember that that face could not be moved by his devotion. Suddenly, as he reached his own threshold, a strange change of feeling came over him. He saw for the first time what mad ness it was that he should lose his heart to a statue; he realized at last that love and companionship have meaning only if they are returned, and that that is an act only humans can perform. ?Thank you, Venus,? he exclaimed, as the first glimmers of peace and contentment appeared on his face. ?You have given me an answer to my prayer, unlike though it be to the one I had hoped for. Now I know how foolish it was to ask you to give life to a statue, and you have shown me that it is in this world that I must live, not in a dream world of marble images. Will you, 0 Goddess, someday send me a helpmate of flesh and blood, now that I have learned the sweetness of love for another?? 104 CLASSIC MYTHS TO READ ALOUD Pygmalion and Galatea 105 Then Pygmalion entered the room where his marble maiden resided, for he still took great joy in looking upon her form and face. He raised his eyes to gaze upon her once again, but there was no statue to be seen! ?Gone!? he cried out, his heart aching as never before. ?The only thing I have ever loved has been taken from me!? Just then, a low, soft voice fell upon his ears from behind him. ?Pygmalion!? it called. The poor artist turned quickly to the sound, and there, against the western windows, he saw his beloved standing in the golden light of sunset, a statue no longer, but changed to a living woman, whose breath came gently from the lips that he himself had chiseled. Her slim feet, which his lips had kissed so often, were moving toward him; a rosy blush tinged her cheeks; her hair swirled softly from the breeze that wafted through the open casement; and her eyes shone bright from the newborn life within. Timidly the maiden drew near, and these were the words that fell in silver tones upon the sculptor?s enraptured ears: ?Pygmalion, Venus has heard your prayer. She has given me life today, so that I may become your loving and beloved bride.? At first the sculptor could not believe that what he saw and heard was not a dream, but all doubt vanished when his former statue?now loving companion in life?laid her warm cheek against his and whispered, ?No, this is no dream, dearest. Will you still speak to me as lovingly as you did when I stood lifeless on that platform in the corner? Will you still read to me lovers? tales, now that we shall be lovers ourselves?? Then did Pygmalion assure her that it would always be so, and in overwhelming rapture he kissed her and welcomed her to his home. A Few Words More The story of Pygmalion is a love story, and so it is fitting that it is based in a city that paid homage to Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The Romans honored and re spected this goddess so much that, although we usually associate only the planet Venus and the rather indeli cate term venereal with her name, the modern word yen- erate, which means ?to look upon with respect, to revere,? has come to us from the way that Venus was so respected and revered by the Romans. Venus?s son was called Cupid by the Romans, and it is from his name that we get the word cupidity [kyoo PID-ih-tee], which means ?avarice, greed, the love of money.? (You may recall that it was cupidity?the love of money, not money itself?that the Bible describes as ?the root of all evil.?) The Greeks called this god of love Eros (he was the son of Aphrodite), which was the Greek word meaning ?love.? From the name Eros we get today?s lusty adjectives erotic and erogenous.
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