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IRIS, the daughter of Thaumas and Electra, was the messenger of the gods. She is identified with the rainbow, and is frequently drawn as such, overshadowing the chariot of Juno, whose especial attendant she was.

Iris usually administered the sacred water of the Styx, by which the oaths of the gods were proved. Ovid connects her with the deluge, and represents her as furnishing water for the destruction of the world. One of her various offices was to release the soul when struggling to quit the perishing body. Iris is sometimes known by the name of Thaumantia.

Swift-footed Iris, nymph of Thaumas born,
Takes with no frequent embassy her way
O'er the broad main's expanse, when haply strife
Be risen, and midst the gods dissension sown ;
And if there be among th' Olympian race
Who falsehood utters, Jove sends Iris down
To bring the great oath in a golden ewer:
The far-famed water, from steep sky-capt rock,
Distilling in cold stream. Beneath wide Earth,

Abundant from the sacred river head,

Through shades of blackest night the Stygian horn

Of ocean flows: a tenth of all the streams

To the dread oath allotted.

HESIOD'S Theogony.

The god that gilds the day,

And various Iris, wing their airy way;

Swift as the wind to Ida's hills they came,
(Fair Nurse of fountains, and of savage game.)
There sat th' Eternal; he whose nod controls
The trembling world, and shakes the steady poles :
Veiled in a mist of fragrance him they found,
With clouds of gold and purple circled round.
Well pleased the Thunderer saw their earnest care,
And prompt obedience to the queen of air ;
Then (while a smile serenes his awful brow)
Commands the goddess of the showery bow:
"Iris! descend, and what we here ordain,
Report to yon mad tyrant of the main.
Bid him from fight to his own deeps repair,
Or breathe from slaughter in the fields of air.
If he refuse, then let him timely weigh
Our elder birthright, and superior sway.
How shall his rashness stand the dire alarms,
If Heaven's omnipotence descend in arms?
Strives he with me, by whom his power was given,
And is there equal to the lord of heaven ?"

The Thunderer spoke: the goddess winged her flight
To sacred Ilion, from the Idæan height.

Swift as the rattling hail, or fleecy snows,

Drive through the skies when Boreas fiercely blows;
So from the clouds descending Iris falls:
And to blue Neptune thus the goddess calls:-

Iliad, book 15.


CALYPSO, occasionally styled the goddess of silence, is by some writers thought to have been a daughter of Atlas; by others, one of the Oceanides. She reigned in the island of Ogygia, said to have been situated opposite the promontory of Lacenium, in Magna Græcia, although Homer speaks of it as in the far Atlantic.'

When Ulysses, during his wanderings, was shipwrecked on her coasts, Calypso kindly entertained him, offered him a share of her dominion, and promised to bestow on him immortality, if he would consent to fix his residence there, and abandon his friends and native country. Ulysses was deaf to her entreaties, and it having been decreed, in a council of the gods, that he

should return to his beloved Ithaca, Mercury was sent to apprise Calypso of the loss that awaited her: at first she was inconsolable, but hearing that the fiat had gone forth, and that resistance to the power of Jove would be unavailing, she consented to suffer Ulysses to depart, after having detained him by her wiles upwards of seven years. She then assisted him in building and rigging his ship, supplied him with sails from her own loom, and invoked prosperous gales, to speed the vessel on its homeward course. Fenelon has introduced Calypso into

his beautiful production, the Adventures of Telemachus; but her love for that prince, and, indeed, the entire structure of the poem, are drawn from his own exquisite imagination only.

Homer describes the appearance of Calypso's cave, and the surrounding scenery, when Mercury descended at the command of Jupiter.

Large was the grot in which the nymph he found,
(The fair haired nymph with every beauty crowned ;)
She sat and sung; the rocks resound her lays:
The cave was brightened with a rising blaze;
Cedar and frankincense, an odorous pile,

Flamed on the hearth, and wide perfumed the isle;
While she with work and song the time divides,
And through the loom the golden shuttle guides.

Without the grot, a various sylvan scene
Appeared around, and groves of living green;
Poplars and alders ever quivering played,
And nodding cypress formed a fragrant shade;
On whose high branches, waving with the storm,
The birds of broadest wing their mansion form;
The chough, the sea-mew, the loquacious crow,
And scream aloft, and skim the deeps below.
Depending vines, the shelving cavern screen,
With purple clusters blushing through the green.
Four limpid fountains from the clefts distil,


every fountain pours a several rill,

In mazy windings wandering down the hill;

Where blooming meads with vivid greens were crowned,
And glowing violets threw odours round:

A scene, where if a god should cast his sight,
A god might gaze, and wonder with delight!

Joy touched the messenger of heaven: he stayed
Entranced, and all the blissful haunts surveyed.
Him, entering in the cave, Calypso knew;
For powers celestial to each others view
Stand still confessed, though distant far they lie,
Or habitants of earth, or sea, or sky.

Odyssey, book 5.

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