Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/165

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invited the alliance of Tereus of Thrace, the son of Ares. Having brought the war, with the aid of Tereus, to a happy end, he gave him his daughter Procne to wife. By Procne, Tereus had a son, Itys, and thereafter fell in love with Philomela, whom he seduced, pretending that Procne was dead, whereas he had really concealed her somewhere in his lands. Thereon he married Philomela, and cut out her tongue. But she wove into a robe characters that told the whole story, and by means of these acquainted Procne with her sufferings. Thereon Procne found her sister, and slew Itys, her own son, whose body she cooked, and served up to Tereus in a banquet. Thereafter Procne and her sister fled together, and Tereus seized an axe and followed after them. They were overtaken at Daulia in Phocis, and prayed to the gods that they might be turned into birds. So Procne became the nightingale, and Philomela the swallow, while Tereus was changed into a hoopoe."[1] Pausanias has a different legend; Procne and Philomela died of excessive grief.

These ancient men and women metamorphosed into birds were honoured as ancestors by the Athenians.[2] Thus the unceasing musical wail of the nightingale and the shrill cry of the swallow were explained by a Greek story. The birds were lamenting their old human sorrow, as the honey-bird in Africa still repeats the name of her lost son.

  1. A Red Indian nightingale-myth is alluded to by J. G. Müller, Amerik. Urrel., p. 175. Some one was turned into a nightingale by the sun, and still wails for a lost lover.
  2. Pausanias, i. v. Pausanias thinks such things no longer occur.