Roman Mythology





Anno Urbis - The Roman Empire Online

Bulfinch's Age of Fable

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LEUCOTHEA AND PALAEMON

Ino, the daughter of Cadmus and wife of Athamas, flying from her frantic husband with her little son Melicertes in her arms, sprang from a cliff into the sea. The gods, out of compassion, made her a goddess of the sea, under the name of Leucothea, and him a god, under that of Palaemon. Both were held powerful to save from shipwreck and were invoked by sailors. Palaemon was usually represented riding on a dolphin. The Isthmian games were celebrated in his honor. He was called Portunus by the Romans, and believed to have jurisdiction of the ports and shores.

Milton alludes to all these deities in the song at the conclusion of "Comus":

"... Sabrina fair,
Listen and appear to us,
In name of great Oceanus;
By the earth-shaking Neptune's mace, And Tethys' grave, majestic pace, By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look, And the Carpathian wizard's hook, [Footnote: Proteus] By scaly Triton's winding shell, And old soothsaying Glaucus' spell, By Leucothea's lovely hands, And her son who rules the strands. By Thetis' tinsel-slippered feet, And the songs of Sirens sweet;" etc.

Armstrong, the poet of the "Art of preserving Health," under the inspiration of Hygeia, the goddess of health, thus celebrates the Naiads. Paeon is a name both of Apollo and Aesculapius.

"Come, ye Naiads! to the fountains lead! Propitious maids! the task remains to sing Your gifts (so Paeon, so the powers of Health Command), to praise your crystal element. O comfortable streams! with eager lips And trembling hands the languid thirsty quaff New life in you; fresh vigor fills their veins. No warmer cups the rural ages knew, None warmer sought the sires of humankind; Happy in temperate peace their equal days Felt not the alternate fits of feverish mirth And sick dejection; still serene and pleased, Blessed with divine immunity from ills, Long centuries they lived; their only fate Was ripe old age, and rather sleep than death."


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