THE GODS AS INSTRUCTORS OF JUPITER′S SON. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE GODS AS INSTRUCTORS OF JUPITER′S SON. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

Jupiter youthful, once on a time,
Thought it no crime
To bring up his son as the mortal ones do;
And straightway this godlike one, given to jollity,
Love′s sweet frivolity,
Thought it no harm maiden′s favour to sue,
For in him love and reason,
Skipping over a season,
Long ere the usual time, taught him to woo.
Flora was first to set
His poor young heart in fret;
And with sighs and tears tender,
Forgetting no lovers trick,
This roguish young hero quick
Made her surrender.
And shortly it was evident
That, thanks to his supreme descent,
All other god-born children were
Surpassed by Jupiter′s young heir;
But Jupiter, rather dissatisfied
(In his pride),
Assembling his council, one thunderous day,
Said, "I′ve hitherto ruled all this universe wide
Alone; but I feel, now, the weight of my sway,
And would fain to my child give some power away.
He′s blood of my blood, and already, afar,
His altars are worshipped in many a star;
But before I entrust him with sovereign place,
I should like him to grow, both in knowledge and grace."
Thus the God of Thunder spoke,
And then, with one acclaim sonorous,
A shout of praise, in tuneful chorus,
The echoes deep of heaven awoke.
When silence was at length restored,
Mars, God of War, took up the word,
And said, "I will myself impart
To this young prodigy the art
Through which this realm so vast has grown,
And those who mortal were are now as godlike known."
Then Apollo, tunefully,
Murmured, "He shall learn from me
All that sweet and mystic lies
In music′s deepest harmonies."
Next Hercules, with eyes of flame,
Exclaimed, "I′ll teach him how to tame
The monsters that invade the breast,
The vain temptations that infest
The heart′s recesses; yes, I′ll teach
Your offspring how with toil to reach
Heights and honours that alone
Are to steadfast virtue known."
When all had spoken, with an air of scorn
Smiled, in reply, the child of Venus born:
"Leave," he said, "the boy alone to me,
And all that he can be he′ll be."
And, speaking thus, well spoke god Cupid;
For there′s nought on earth more plain
That he is not wholly stupid
Who, loving well, does all things gain.

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