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PREFACE.

As a general knowledge of ancient mythology is indispensable to a clear understanding, not only of the ancient poets and historians, but, also, of the best modern poets, the duty of enlightening youth in this important department of classical literature cannot be too strongly inculcated.

The object of the author of this treatise, is to adapt a compendium of Heathen Mythology to the juvenile capacity; especially to free this subject from those licentious and indelicate stories, with which it has so long been encumbered and defaced, and which are totally unfit for the eye of youth. The work also brings down the study of Mythology to the more common purposes of education.

As an object of faith, the countless throng of the heathen gods, when compared with the God of Christians, appears fantastical and preposterous; but the elegant and agreeable fictions which Mythology furnishes, are admirably suited to the purposes of poetry, statuary, and painting.

The elegant, the beautiful, the graceful, the lovely, the amorous, the novel, the romantic, the marvellous, the fairy, the fantastical, the sublime-these are the feasts in which imagination revels; the beauties and the terrors of creation;-to survey forests, precipices,

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caves, groves, valleys, mountains, rivers, winds, fields, and hospitable habitations-the happiness of the domestic scene-the alternate smiles and frowns of nature the immense power of human industry-the wrestling of worth with poverty, of good with evil, of virtue with vice, of piety with persecution, of patriotism with usurpation;-these, and countless images like these affecting, melancholy, serious, gay, ingenious, interesting, new-are the subjects for which she seeks with restless assiduity. How many times, waking to the roar of divine wrath, while stupid and lustful indolence snores on in happy forgetfulness, does she scale the giddy wall of the celestial courthouse, and picture the judgment:-now she follows the blasphemous in a wide path over the edge of the infernal precipices, where she beholds a thousandfanged serpent come up and gnaw their guilty hearts; and, at last dropped by that serpent, she sees them trembling headlong from redhot rock to redhot rock into the fire-waving abyss, the victim of a trillion-fold death.

Observation and reason afford ample testimony to the importance of being familiarly acquainted with the productions of Homer, Herodotus, Virgil, Horace, and so on, which are held out as models of fine writing. To improve the taste, the mind ought to be prepared by a perusal of the fictions of Greece and Rome. These contain many allegorical and mystical things, the true sense of which, though not suited to vulgar apprehension, the refined and liberal may explain.

In cases where evident morals are inculcated by Fables, observations have been given; while poetical extracts have been selected, which cannot fail to show

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how Mythology is mingled with poetry: and thus I
have attempted to demonstrate the importance of my-
thological knowledge, and, at the same time, to render
the work more valuable and interesting.

When the student has acquainted himself with the
brief abstract here introduced, principally with the
view of awaking in him a spirit of inquiry and there-
by leading him to a more minute and useful investi-
gation of the various subjects which are laid before
him, the author would recommend him for farther in-
formation to the reading of Lempriere's Classical Dic-
tionary, edited by Charles Anthon, Esq., or by Messrs.
Da Pont and Ogilby, of New York. That dictionary
is a universal note-book to all the editions of all the
classics.

By way of translation from the French, the author
has added some things which that popular author does
not contain, namely, an account of Temples, Oracles,
Sibyls, and Games, and also of the Mythology of
Northern Europe.

The engravings introduced, will, it is anticipat-
ed, brighten the mental eye of the student.

At the suggestion of an experienced teacher, the
author has been induced to arrange and introduce an
appropriate set of questions at the close of each chap-
ter, with the hope of thereby better adapting the work
to the convenience and utility of families and schools.

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