Gateway to the Classics: Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by Mary E. Burt
Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers by  Mary E. Burt


Memory and Her Beautiful Daughters

One might suppose that a great king sitting on a throne high up among the clouds ruling the world must have everything that heart could wish. Just think how grand one would feel to throw the lightning from cloud to cloud and send the thunder rolling through the sky. Fire-crackers and sky-rockets would seem quite tame after that.

King Zeus grew very tired of it sometimes. He had it in his power to make the earth glad with warm sunshine, but he grew tired of that, too. He could make the earth dreary and sad with frost and cold. He could crush giants under great rocks, and rule over the gods, and banquet on nectar and ambrosia, but he became weary of all these things. And the reason why he grew tired was that he kept thinking all the time about the events that were taking place just before him.



He looked down on the earth and he saw men quarreling with one another and he thought about that. His wife, Juno, teased him, and he thought about that. His fellow gods on Mount Olympus played tricks on him and he played tricks on them and all was vexation. It is no wonder he wearied of looking at and thinking of what was going on just around him.

He wished that he might remember the beautiful things of the past and that he might know good things that would happen after awhile, so he made a mighty wish in his heart and this is what it was.

He wished that there would come to him some lovely daughters who would dance about him and keep him thinking of the beautiful things which had happened long ago, so that he would forget his troubles. And he wanted them to sing of the wonderful things that were going to happen some time in the future.

After awhile it all happened just as he desired. There came a beautiful goddess, whose name was Memory, leading nine grown-up daughters to him that they might please him by causing him to think of the pleasant things of the past and to anticipate the pleasures of the future.

King Zeus was so happy when he saw the pretty maidens before him that he forgot to think of the quarrels on earth and other disagreeable matters. He could do nothing but admire his daughters and tell them how glad he was that they had come to him. They danced before him and sang songs to him and he gave them a whole mountain for their home, and there they lived, bathing in the violet-tinted fountains, and dancing around the altar which was sacred to their father.

They burnt incense to Zeus on this altar, and taught people to sing songs praising him. There was a beautiful flying horse which came to their home on top of this mountain. Once, when it was very thirsty, it struck the side of the mountain with its hoof, and a fountain of clear cold water sprang up, so that the winged horse could drink.

The nine daughters of King Zeus used to pet the flying horse and give him delicious food and he was not afraid of them. He was a gentle creature and flew away from cross and ugly people, but he came to poets and musicians. They never tried to yoke him down to a plough to do dirty work, but gave him pleasant burdens to bear. He often carried their music up to Mount Olympus. So it is no wonder that the nine daughters of Zeus loved him.

It was wonderful the comfort Zeus took in his pretty daughters. When he saw that they were wise and good and could drive away cares, he gave them the power to shed honeyed dew upon the lips of all babies who were going to grow up and become kings or wise men. This was a greater gift to any babe than to give him gold or silver, for he was sure to speak gentle words and make wise laws.

And Zeus gave the power also to his daughters to take sorrow out of the heart and make all sad people forget their troubles. I do not suppose you quite believe my story, but perhaps if you will stop to think how dreadful it would be to forget all your kind friends and all the pleasant things that have happened to you, you may agree with me that Memory has beautiful daughters.

And perhaps you will want to learn many poems and stories while you are very young, so that you can think of them when you grow older and get tired of storm-clouds and every-day cares.

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