Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/166

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Why does the red-robin live near the dwellings of men, a bold and friendly bird? The Chippeway Indians say he was once a young brave whose father set him a task too cruel for his strength, and made him starve too long when he reached man's estate. He turned into a robin, and said to his father, "I shall always be the friend of man, and keep near their dwellings. I could not gratify your pride as a warrior, but I will cheer you by my songs."[1] The converse of this legend is the Greek myth of the hawk. Why is the hawk so hated by birds? Hierax was a benevolent person who succoured a race hated by Poseidon. The god therefore changed him into a hawk, and made him as much detested by birds, and as fatal to them, as he had been beloved by and gentle to men.[2] The Hervey Islanders explain the peculiarities of several fishes by the share they took in the adventures of Ina, who stamped, for example, on the sole, and so flattened him for ever.[3] In Greece the dolphins were, according to the Homeric hymn to Dionysus, metamorphosed pirates who had insulted the god. But because the dolphin found the hidden sea-goddess whom Poseidon loved, the dolphin, too, was raised by the grateful sea-god to the stars.[4] The vulture and the heron, according to Bœo (said to have been a priestess in Delphi and the author of a Greek treatise on the traditions about birds), were once a man named

  1. Schoolcraft, ii. 229–230.
  2. Bœo, quoted by Antoninus Liberalis.
  3. Gill, South Sea Myths, pp. 88–95.
  4. Artemidorus in his Love Elegies, quoted by the Pseud-Eratosthenes.