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Eight Brief Tales of Lovers

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Ceyx and Alcyone

The story is written by Ovid.

Ceyx, a king in Thessaly, was son of Lucifer, the light-bearer. His wife Alcyone was also of royal blood, she was daughter of Aeolus, King of the Winds. The two loved each other relentlessly, and forbade each other from every being apart. However a day came when Ceyx decided he must leave her to make a long journey across the sea. Various troubling matters convinced Ceyx to consult an oracle about his journey. When Alcyone learned of what Ceyx planned to do she was overwhelmed with grief and terror. She told Ceyx that he should not make this voyage for it was known how powerful the winds upon the sea are. Alcyone requested that if Ceyx go on the voyage that he take her with him for as they could endure anything that comes as longs as they were together.

Ceyx was deeply moved by here love for him as it was no better than his love for her, but he held stead fast on his decision. Ceyx set out to sea and that very night a fierce storm broke over the sea. The winds all met in a mad hurricane and sheets of rain poured from the heavens. All the men on the boat, quivering with fear, except one man Ceyx who had the of Alcyone in his mind as he rejoiced at her safety. Her name was on his lips as the ship sank and the waters closed over him.

Alcyone counted off the days. She kept herself busy weaving a robe for her husband to give to him upon his return and she made another robe for herself to be lovely in when he first saw her. Many times a day she prayed to the gods for him, to Juno most of all. The goddess was touched by the prayers for Alcyone did not know she was praying for a man who had fell to death. Juno summoned her messenger Iris and ordered her to go to the house of Somnus, God of Sleep, and bid him send a dream to Alcyone to tell her the truth about her husband.

The old God of Sleep aroused his son, Morpheus, skilled in assuming the form of any and every human being, and he gave him Juno's orders. With noiseless wings he set forth and flew through the night and stood by Alcyone's bed. He had taken on the face of Ceyx drowned and dripping with water. As Ceyx had told Alcyone what happened on the ship she began to wake up as she did she reached to grasp Ceyx but it was to late he was gone. She told herself, "I will not leave you, my husband; I will not try to live."

As the first rays of sunlight shone into her abode, she went to the shore, to the place where Ceyx had first departed. As she gazed seaward, for off in the water she saw something floating. The tide was setting and it brought this object closer and closer until she knew it was a dead body. Now it was close to the headland and she realized it was Ceyx, her husband. She ran and leaped into the water crying, "Husband, dearest!" and then instead of sinking into the waves she began to fly over them. She had wings; her body was covered with feathers. She had been changed into a bird. The gods were kind. They did the same with Ceyx. Ceyx joined her in there flight, there love was unchanged. They are always seen together, flying and riding the waves.

Every year there are seven days on end in which the sea lies still and calm. These are the days when Alcyone broods over her nest floating on the sea. After the young birds are hatched the charm is broken; but each and every winter these days of peace come, and they are called after her, Alcyon, or more commonly Halcyon days.

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Pygmalion and Galatea

This story is written by Ovid.

Pygmalion, a gifted young sculptor of Cyprus, was a women-hater. He resolved never to marry. His art, he convinced himself, was enough for him. Nevertheless, the statue that he gave and devoted his life to was that of a women. He was bent on forming the perfect women, one that no man had seen before.

He worked on it daily and it grew ever beautiful as his skillful fingers caressed it. When nothing could be added to make the statue perfect, a strange fate befitted its creator, Pygmalion had fallen in love with it.

He kissed those enticing lips - they were unresponsive; he took her in his arms - she remained a cold and passive. For a time he tried to pretend, as children do with their toys. He would dress her in rich robes and imagine her affection responses and he would tuck her into bed as children do their dolls.

This singular passion did not long remain concealed from the Goddess of Passionate Love, Venus. Venus was rarely interested in things that came her way, but this managed to grab her attention for it was a new kind of love. She was determined to help out this young man.

The feast day of Venus was, of course, especially honored in Cyprus, the island that first received the goddess after she rose from the sea foam. Many a young man and women were bearing gifts of great magnitude, and so too was Pygmalion. Venus know what he desired and she favored his prayer by making the flame at the altar leap up to the heavens three times.

Having noticed this good omen, Pygmalion sought out his house and his love. He caresses her and than started back. Was it self-deception or did she really feel warm to his touch? He kissed her lips, a long lingering kiss, and felt them grow soft beneath his lips. He touched her arms, her shoulders; their hardness vanished. It was like watching wax soften in the sun. He clasped her wrist; blood was pulsing there. "Venus," he thought, "This was the goddess' doing." With unutterable gratitude and joy, he put his arms around his love and saw her smile into his eyes and blush.

Venus herself graced their marriage with her presence, but it is not known what happened after that only that he soon named her Galatea, and that their son, Paphos, gave his name to Venus' favorite city.

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