Alpheus and Arethusa:
In the city of Syracuse in Sicily there is a spring called Arethusa that has an interesting story. Once, Arethusa was not a spring but a beautiful young Greek huntress and a follower of Artemis. Like the goddess, she would have nothing to do with men. She loved running and hunting in the forest. One day after an exhausting hunt, she came to a crystal clear stream shaded by silvery willows. She decided to take a swim, and slipped into the water and swam about in utter peace for a while. Then she seemed to feel something beneath her in the water. Frightened, she scampered out of the water, and heard a voice that seemed to come from the water. "Why are you leaving, fair maiden?"
Now terrified, she ran into the forest as fast as she could. She was pursued by one stronger, if not swifter than she. The voice of the unknown told her that he was Alpheus, the god of the river, and that he was only following because he loved her. She ran on, but she could never escape; a river, after all, can run longer than any mortal. Finally, completely exhausted, Arethusa called out to Artemis, and the goddess answered by changing her into a spring, but not an ordinary spring. Aretmis cut the earth so that an underground channel was made from Greece all the way to Sicily. Arethusa plunged down and emerged near Syracuse where the spring bubbles forth today, on land sacred to Artemis. Alpheus, being a river god, turned himself back into a river, and plunged down the same channel. Arethusa was not free of Alpheus. Their waters mingled. Even today, you can believe it or not, that Greek flowers are sometimes seen in the Sicilian spring, and if you throw a wooden cup in the Alpheus river in Greece, it will reappear in Arethusa's spring.
Aphrodite and Adonis
Aphrodite saw Adonis when he was born and noticed his potential beauty. She entrusted his care taking to Persephone who later fell in love with him and would not give him back to Aphrodite. Zeus had to judge as neither goddess would relinquish their claim. He decided that Adonis would spend half of the year with Persephone and the other with Aphrodite. During the time with Aphrodite Adonis loved to hunt. She would follow him dressed like a huntress as he drove her swan-chariot through the woodlands. One such occasion Aphrodite was not with him as he and his hunting dogs tracked a wild boar. Adonis' spear only wounded the mighty boar that turned mad with pain and gored Adonis with his tusks. Aphrodite heard his cries and fled to him. The dark blood flowed down his skin and his eyes grew heavy. She kissed him as he died. The crimson anemone, a wind flower, sprang up where his blood had dropped. She wept for him as did all the Muses.
3.Apollo And Daphne
Daphne was an independent-minded, love- and marriage-hating young huntress, a follower of Artemis (Diana). Her father, the river god Peneus, wished her to marry and have children, but all Daphne that wanted was to hunt alone in the deep woods, rejoicing in her freedom.
One day Apollo saw her. She was hunting, her dress short to the knee, her arms bare, her hair in disarray. She was enchantingly beautiful and Apollo thought, "She is lovely now, but what would she look like properly dressed with her hair nicely arranged." The idea inflamed him, and he started running after the nymph. Daphne fled, and she was an excellent runner. Apollo was hard put to overtake her, although he grew steadily closer. He cried out, "Do not fear, stop and find out who I am. I am no rude rustic or shepherd but the Lord of Delphi, and I love you!" But Daphne flew on, even more frightened than before. She knew she could never outrun Apollo, but she was determined to resist to the end. She could almost feel Apollo's breath on the back of her neck when she saw her father's river ahead of her. She screamed to him, "Help me father, help me." At these words a dragging numbness came over her, and her feet seemed rooted in the earth. Bark was enclosing her body, and leaves were sprouting from her arms. She had been changed into a laurel tree.
Apollo sadly watched the transformation as he held her in his arms. "Oh, lovely tree," he mourned, "you will always be mine. I will give you the gift of eternal life. Your leaves will always be green and victors will wear your leaves as wreathes upon their brows." Poets also write that Apollo took a limb from one of her branches and made a musical instrument, the guitar.
Another version of Apollo's instant love for Daphne was the cause of a trick played by Cupid who struck Apollo with one of his golden arrows when he first saw the nymph, and her with a lead arrow when she noticed his advancement.
4.Apollo and Hyacinth
Apollo enjoyed the sport of discus throwing, especially with a youth named Hyacinth or Hyacinthus, his dearest companion. There was no rivalry; they tried for the farthest goal. Apollo's cast swiftly sped beyond his aim and struck Hyacinth full in the forehead. Apollo was horror struck to see the terrible wound with blood gushing forth. As he caught the dying youth in his arms, Hyacinth's head fell back. As Apollo knelt beside his friend and wept for him, he noticed the bloodstained grass turned green and a wondrous flower bloomed, not like the hyacinth we call by that name, but a deep purple lily-shaped flower. Apollo inscribed the petals with two letters "ai" meaning alas. Another version tells the story that Hyacinth was killed in the same manner when playing this sport with Zephyr, the west wind. There is also a story that Zephyr purposefully killed Hyacinth in his jealous anger at Apollo's preference to him.
5.Ceyx and Alcyone
Ceyx, the king of Thessaly, was the son of Lucifer, the light bringer, the star that brings in the day. His wife, Alcyone, was the daughter of Aeolus, the King of the Winds. They were a faithful and devoted couple and never separated. Nevertheless, there came a time when Ceyx decided that he must leave her and make a long journey across the sea to consult an oracle. Alcyone was hysterical with grief and worry. She had grown up in the palace of the King of the Winds and knew very well what often happened to ships at sea. When she was that he was firm in his determination to make this trip, she begged to be allowed to go with him, "I can endure whatever comes to us together." Yet, although Ceyx loved Alcyone as much as she loved him, he would not allow it. So he sailed alone.
Cupid and Psyche
There was a certain king who had three lovely daughters. The older ones had married princes of wealth and fame, but the youngest, Psyche, was so radiantly beautiful, so striking attractive that men thought she was Venus on earth. They were satisfied just to pass by her house, sing hymns in her praise and then go on about their business.
Venus soon noticed that her temples were deserted. There were no warm ashes on her alters. In anger, she summoned her winged son, Cupid. "Cupid, my temples are deserted; men no longer make sacrifices there and all because of this mere mortal called Psyche. I want you to go down and shoot her with one of your love arrows and make her fall in love with some loathsome, ill-mannered man who will treat her cruelly.
When Cupid found Psyche, he too fell in love with her beauty. Some say it was as though he had struck himself with one of his own arrows. He did not follow through with his mother's orders and returned home saying not a word.
Venus watched but no suitor came to ask for Psyche's hand in marriage. Psyche's parents became alarmed. Her parents decided to consult an oracle of Apollo for advice. Cupid had prearranged a meeting with Apollo for this consultation; "Dress the princess for her marriage and her death. Take her to yonder mountain top and leave her there alone. There her destined husband, a fearful winged serpent, stronger than the gods will come and take her away."
"Don't weep for me now, father," said Psyche," my beauty has drawn down upon me the jealousy of Heaven. Now go, knowing that I am glad the end has come."
Her parents left. Psyche sat down and as she wept and trembled, a soft breeze came through the stillness of her, the gentle breeze of Zephyr, sweetest and mildest of the winds. He lifted Psyche away and took her to a grassy meadow, soft as a bed and fragrant with flowers. She slept there. When she woke, she saw a mansion stately and beautiful as though built for a god. She walked toward the mansion hearing not a sound nor hearing a single word. The place seemed deserted. At the threshold she heard voices, invisible voices, inviting her to come inside. "We are your servants; ready to do whatever you desire."
At this new home, she was waited upon day after day hearing voices yet seeing no one. At last one evening, her dear unseen husband came. He demanded she never light an oil lamp. He could only come at night. He warned her never to try to see him. He later warned her about her two sisters. "They are coming to the hill where you had disappeared. Do not let them come," admonished Cupid. However, Psyche wanted to see someone and she loved her sisters. Psyche allowed Zephyr to carry them back and forth. They were jealous at first, then upon their second visit discovered that Psyche had never seen her husband.
Her sisters reminded Psyche of the oracles reply. "He will turn into a monster and devour you. You must kill him! Light a lamp when you are sure he is asleep and take a knife and kill him."
Psyche knew her husband had been nothing but good to her. So she determined to do one thing; to see him. But as she lit the lamp she saw no monster but a handsome winged man. As she fell on her knees, she dropped hot oil on Cupid who awoke. He rushed out saying, "Love cannot live where there is no trust. I warned you!"
Psyche left journeying she knew not where. She ended up in a temple of Ceres and began straightening. Ceres came and advised Psyche to seek out Venus and offer herself as a humble servant. Venus first laughed but decided to give Psyche various tasks to teach her to be dutiful.
First Psyche had to separate a pile of various seeds, one grain at a time. An army of ants came in and assisted her. Then Psyche had to gather some golden wool from fearful rams. A river god spoke to Psyche telling her to wait until evening when the rams come to drink. As they walk through the thickets some of their golden wool will be caught. Her third task was to go to the source of the river Styx and fill a flash of its water. Psyche climbed a tower; she felt she would have to kill herself to go to the river. As she climbed stones in the tower spoke to her telling her how to get there. Then an eagle flew by picking the flash from her hands and dipping it in the river. Task by task Psyche had help. Venus felt sure this fourth task would be the last. Venus told Psyche, "I have lost some of my beauty tending to my wounded son. Go down to the underworld with this box and ask Persephone for some of her beauty. Bring me the box. Here are two honey cakes for Cerberus and two coins for Charon. Bring me the box."
Psyche did as she was ordered. On her way back to earth, Psyche decided that she too had lost some of her beauty. Venus surely would not miss just a particle. She opened the box and fell beside the palace. In the box was death, the trick of Venus.
Cupid flew by; finding her, he wiped the sleep of death from her eyes and put it back in the box. She was given ambrosia and nectar. She became immortal. Venus was happy now. Psyche would not longer turn men's eyes. They would return to her temples.
Narcissus and Echo
Narcissus was a very handsome mortal lad. All the maidens longed to be his, but he would have none of them. He wanted someone as beautiful as he was handsome. Heart broken maidens were nothing to him. Even the saddest case of the fairest nymph, Echo, did not move him. Hera happened to come inquiring where Zeus was, as she suspected him of seeing one of the nymphs. Echo's gay chattering kept Hera diverted from her investigation as all nymphs left. Hera turned against Echo in rage. She condemned her never to use her tongue again except to repeat what was said to her.
"You will never initiate a conversation; you will always have the last word."
As Echo followed Narcissus one day in the woods, he became lost. He looked around and cried out, "Does anyone know the way out of the woods?" Echo softly cried, "The woods!"
"Yes, I'm lost and need to know the way out of the woods."
"Don't you understand? Help me find the way out of the woods."
Echo ran to him and threw herself at his feet! Narcissus, confused, picked her up and said, "Oh, you are just like all the other nymphs who try to kiss me and tell me 'I love you.'"
Her pushed her away, turned and went on his way. Echo prayed for help silently. Nemesis, the goddess of righteous anger, heard Echo's prayer, for prayers to not have to be spoken to be heard and replied, "May he who loves not others love himself."
As Narcissus bent over a pool for a drink, he saw there his own reflection and for a moment thought it was a beautiful nymph, as beautiful as he was handsome, and fill in love with it. He stayed by the pool vowing he would stay there until the nymph came out. Echo was nearby and heard Narcissus' plea, "Won't you ever come out?"
As Narcissus came close to dying, he faintly cried, "Farewell!"
Narcissus became a very handsome flower whose head bends toward the water rather than the sun. The flower, narcissus, is a daffodil, one whose flowers have a short corona and are usually borne separately. The word "narcissism" means egoism, love of oneself.
.Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus was a musician whose songs could charm even the most wild of animals. Many women loved him but he loved only Eurydice. Eurydice was a beautiful maiden who was also loved by many but she and Orpheus loved only each other. On their wedding day, Eurydice was walking in a meadow when a man came and tried to force her to marry him. She ran away from him and accidentally stepped on a poisonous snake, which bit her. The man who had been chasing her ran away when she fell down dead. Orpheus waited and waited for his bride, but she never came.
Finally, he went to look for her and found her body. He was so much in love with her that he vowed to go the underworld if necessary to get her back. He took his lyre and went to the river Styx, where Charon ferried the dead souls across to the land of the dead. Charon refused to ferry Orpheus across at first, but when Orpheus began to play his beautiful music he willingly rowed him to the grim kingdom of the dead. When he got to the gates of the Underworld he still had to get past Cerberus. He started to play another song and charmed Cerberus to sleep. He got past the gates and saw all the people there. He played his beautiful music and charmed even the Furies, who paused in their task of punishing mortals who had lead horrible lives.
Orpheus came at last to the thrones of Persephone and Hades. He asked for Eurydice but they refused, so he began to play and sing again. His music was so wonderful that it brought tears to even Hades' eyes.
"Please Hades, let him have Eurydice," Persephone begged.
Hades agreed and told Orpheus, "You may have your Eurydice, but you must not turn back to look at her until you are both out of the underworld."
Orpheus promised to do so and waited while Eurydice was called. He started to walk to the upperworld, wondering all the while whether Eurydice was really behind him. Finally, when he was almost out of the underworld, he turned around, unable to wait any longer. Eurydice was there after all!
"Orpheus, why did you turn around? If we had been a little farther, I would have been yours again!" she said sadly and disappeared forever.
After this, Orpheus continued to play his music, but he never loved again. One day, he was torn to pieces by the Bacchantes, followers of Dionysus and joined his Eurydice at last in death.
9.Philemon and Baucis
Love stories also belong to the old. Philemon and Baucis were elderly peasants in the country of Phrygia. Their story comes from a wish granted to them by Zeus, the god of hospitality.
One day Zeus grew bored on Mt. Olympus. Hermes was nearby and suggested they venture to earth and test how hospitable the people of Phrygia were, but they must first disguise themselves. As poor, wandering travelers they knocked at each and every house asking for food and a place to rest. But each time they were refused.
At last they came to the poor hut of Philemon and Baucis. The old couple cheerfully greeted them and entertained them with great kindness. During the meal Philemon poured wine from a mixing bowl and noticed it kept filling. Suddenly Philemon realized that their guest were not human. The gods revealed themselves and led the old couple to the top of the hill. When they looked around, they saw the town in the valley had disappeared below a lake. Their neighbors had not been kind, but still the old couple wept for them. Their sadness soon turned to wonder as their humble hut was turned into a stately pillared home with a golden roof.
Zeus said, "I will grant you whatever you wish." The old couple whispered to each other, and then Philemon said, "Oh, mighty Zeus, let us be your priests and serve you in this temple. When it comes time for one of us to die, please let us die together." Zeus agreed as the gods assented to Mt. Olympus.
The old couple served a long time in that great temple not missing their small hut and cozy hearth. One day as they were standing in front of the building, they started talking about about the old days. Suddenly as they talked they saw each other putting forth leaves, and then their skin became tree bark. They embraced each other and cried, "Farewell!" Baucis became a linden tree and Philemon an oak, two beautiful but different trees intertwined. People, in wonder, came from afar to admire and hang wreathes on the branches in their honor.
10.Pygmalion and Galatea
Pygmalion was a confirmed bachelor; there were so many qualities in women that he despised that he could not bear the idea of marriage. He was a sculptor, and had made with wonderful skill a statue of ivory, so beautiful that no living woman came anywhere near it. It was indeed the perfect semblance of a maiden that seemed to be alive, and only prevented from moving by modesty. His art was so perfect that it concealed itself and its product looked like the workmanship of nature. Pygmalion admired his own work, and at last fell in love with the counterfeit creation. Oftentimes he laid his hand upon it as if to assure himself whether it were living or not, and could not even then believe that it was only ivory. He caressed it, and gave it presents such as young girls love, - bright shells and polished stones, little birds and flowers of various hues, beads and amber. He put raiment on its limbs, and jewels on its fingers, and a necklace about its neck. To the ears he hung earrings, and strings of pearls upon the breast. Her dress became her, and she looked not less charming than when unattired. He laid her on a couch spread with cloths of Tyrian dye, and called her his wife, and put her head upon a pillow of the softest feathers, as if she could enjoy their softness.
The festival of Venus (Aphrodite) was at hand - a festival celebrated with great pomp at Cyprus. Victims were offered, the altars smoked, and the odour of incense filled the air. When Pygmalion had performed his part in the solemnities, he stood before the altar and timidly said, "Ye gods, who can do all things, give me, I pray you, for my wife" - he dared not say "my ivory virgin," but said instead - "one like my ivory virgin." Venus (Aphrodite), who was present at the festival, heard him and knew the thought he would have uttered; and as an omen of her favour, caused the flame on the altar to shoot up thrice in a fiery point into the air. When he returned home, he went to see his statue, and leaning over the couch, gave a kiss to the mouth. It seemed to be warm. He pressed its lips again, he laid his hand upon the limbs; the ivory felt soft to his touch and yielded to his fingers like the wax of Hymettus. While he stands astonished and glad, though doubting, and fears he may be mistaken, again and again with a lover's ardour he touches the object of his hopes. It was indeed alive! The veins when pressed yielded to the finger and again resumed their roundness. Then at last the votary of Venus found words to thank the goddess, and pressed his lips upon lips as real as his own. The virgin, named Galatea, felt the kisses and blushed, and opening her timid eyes to the light, fixed them at the same moment on her lover. Venus blessed the nuptials she had formed, and from this union Paphos was born, from whom the city, sacred to Venus, received its name.
11.Pyramus and Thisbe
Pyramus and Thisbe grew up in adjoining houses in Babylon. They fell in love but their parents would not allow them to marry one another. After many nights of whispering through a crack in the garden wall, they determined to slip away together in freedom. They agreed to meet at a well-known place, the Tomb of Ninus, under a tall mulberry tree full of white berries, near a cool spring. Thisbe arrived first, but was frightened away by a lioness, which mauled with its bloody jaws the cloak that Thisbe had dropped. That is what Pyramus saw when he appeared a few minutes later. He concluded that Thisbe was dead and that he was responsible. He lifted up the cloak, kissed it, and carried it to the mulberry tree. He drew his sword and plunged it into his side. His blood changed the blooms and fruit of the tree from white to purple.
Thisbe returned, wishing that the lioness was gone and longing to see Pyramus. Discovering Pyramus' body, she kissed him, begging him to look at her. At the sound of her voice he opened his heavy eyes then died. She found his sword and her cloak. She killed herself with the same sword. The ashes of the unfortunate pair were placed in the same urn. Mulberry trees continue to produce deep red fruit, a memorial of the two lovers.