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Vulcan, the son of Jupiter and Juno, the god who presided over fire, and the patron of all the artificers, was thrown from heaven by Jupiter for endeavouring to rescue his mother when suffering from the anger of her husband, and after a descent of nine days duration, he alighted in the island of Lemnos, but unfortunately broke his leg in the fall. He was assisted in his labours by the Cyclops, a race of monsters, of whom the celebrated Polyphemus was chief; their principal forges were under Mount Etna, where they manufactured many splendid presents for the gods and heroes of antiquity, amongst which
were the shield of Achilles, the brazen club of Hercules, a sceptre for Agamemnon, king of Argos, and a collar given to the wife of Cadmus; it is said that he also formed Pandora. Vulcan was worshipped in Greece, Rome, and Egypt; festivals called Vulcanalia were celebrated in honour of him at Rome, when sacrifices were offered and intercessions made to him; by the Egyptians he was adored under the form of a monkey. He is usually known amongst mythologists as a lame and deformed man, working his forges, and preparing thunderbolts for Jove. His singular union with the goddess of beauty has been already adverted to. He is sometimes identified with the Tubal-Cain of Scripture, and he is also distinguished by the names of Lemnius, Mulciber, and Ætneus.
The Thunderer spoke, nor durst the queen reply;
Thou, goddess-mother, with our sire comply,
The Sinthians raised me on the Lemnian coast."
Which, with a smile, the white-armed queen received.
Each to his lips applied the nectared urn.
HOMER'S Iliad, book 1.
Bacchus, the god of wine and festivity, was the son of Jupiter and Semele (the daughter of Cadmus, king of Thebes); she added one more to the list of victims sacrificed to the jealousy of Juno, who persuaded her to request Jupiter to visit her in all the divinity of a god; he consented, but Semele, being a mortal, was unable to bear the sight of the celestial majesty, and perished by the splendour of her immortal lover. The education of Bacchus is by some said to have been con
ducted by the nymphs of Nysa; others assert that he was brought up at Naxos, an Island in the Ægean sea, under the care of the nymphs Coronis, Philia, and Clyda. It is evident, from the different traditions which have descended to these times, that there were several persons who bore the name of Bacchus, which has occasioned some confusion: one of them greatly distinguished himself in the battle between the gods and the giants, under the form of a lion, but this exploit is said to have taken place before the birth of the son of Semele. In gratitude for the hospitality shown by Midas, king of Phrygia, to Silenus, one of his favourites, Bacchus promised to grant whatever he should request; being avaricious, Midas desired the power of transforming whatever he touched into gold; but he soon found the inconvenience of his newlyacquired property, being in danger of starvation, from the circumstance of his food becoming metal the moment he attempted to raise it to his lips. He then entreated Bacchus to recal his troublesome gift, and was by him desired to bathe in the river Pactolus, the sands of which, from that time, were intermixed with gold. Hymen, the god of marriage, was the son of Bacchus by Ariadne, to whom he gave a crown of seven stars, which, after her death, was placed amongst the constellations. He is known by the appellations Psilas, Bromius, Evan, Thyonus, Liber Pater, Iacchus, Lyæus, &c.