Sunday, January 07, 2007


Apollo Serving King Admetus

Henry David Thoreau, Journals (September 20, 1851):
As I go through the fields, endeavoring to recover my tone and sanity and to perceive things truly and simply again, after having been perambulating the bounds of the town all the week, and dealing with the most commonplace and worldly-minded men, and emphatically trivial things, I feel as if I had committed suicide in a sense. I am again forcibly struck with the truth of the fable of Apollo serving King Admetus, its universal applicability. A fatal coarseness is the result of mixing in the trivial affairs of men. Though I have been associating even with the select men of this and the surrounding towns, I feel inexpressibly begrimed. My Pegasus has lost its wings; he has turned a reptile and gone on his belly. Such things are compatible only with a cheap and superficial life.
Apollodorus 3.10.4 (tr. J.G. Frazer):
But Zeus, fearing that men might acquire the healing art from him [Apollo's son Aesculapius] and so come to the rescue of each other, smote him with a thunderbolt. Angry on that account, Apollo slew the Cyclopes who had fashioned the thunderbolt for Zeus. But Zeus would have hurled him [Apollo] to Tartarus; however, at the intercession of [Apollo's mother] Latona he ordered him to serve as a thrall to a man for a year. So he went to Admetus, son of Pheres, at Pherae, and served him as a herdsman, and caused all the cows to drop twins.

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