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Classic Mythology.

Let us now turn to classic mythology, which has been called “the large utterance of the early gods.” But as we attach to it no Divine inspiration, we can only regard it as the embodiment of the conceptions of the profoundest and devoutest minds of that Old Time and Civilization which, like the Golden Age, have “melted into the Infinite Azure of the past.” In it the lofty position and equality of the female sex are clearly taught.

In the Olympian System, Hera or Juno is treated with the same reverence as great Zeus or Jupiter—the Fulminator of Law. Zeus himself listened to her counsel and communicated to her his secrets. She was obstinate, jealous, and quarrelsome, however, so there were tremendous domestic jars in the celestial palace, and once Zeus hung Hera up in the clouds, with her hands tied and an anvil hung on each foot, that she might beat her music and kick her temper out, I suppose. Still she came to be worshipped as the Queen of Heaven, and she was specially the Protectress of all women.

Pallas Athena, or Minerva, who sprang fully armed from the head of Zeus, was the Goddess in whom power and wisdom were blended. She was the preserver of the State, and of everything which gave strength and prosperity to the State. Among the Greeks she was the Patroness of agriculture, she created the olive, and invented the plough; and among both the Greeks and Romans she was the Patroness of the arts and trades.

Artemis—the chaste Diana—twin-sister to Apollo, shared with him the arrows of vengeance, and, like him, was the Defender of the Helpless. She was also the Goddess of hunting, a peculiarly virile and daring pursuit. Bellona, the sister of Mars, was the Roman Goddess of war.

Thus large realms of the life of mortals were under the control and sovereignty of female Deities; and all nature was under the sway and protection of the Nymphæ—the Nymphs. The Oceanides watched over the seas; the Naiades over the rivers and springs; the Oreades over the mountains and grottoes; the Dryades and Hamadryades over the trees and woods.

Pandora, the first woman on earth, made out of earth by Hephæstus, was the All-Gifted. Aphrodite gave her beauty, and Hermes boldness and cunning, and each of the gods endowed her with some power; alas! —so 'twas said—to work the ruin of man; and out of her fatal box flew all the ills of humanity, Hope alone remaining.

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