Greek and Roman Mythology > Aurora and Tithonus

Aurora and Tithonus

Aurora, the goddess of the Dawn, like her sister the Moon, was at
times inspired with the love of mortals. Her greatest favorite
was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy. She stole him away,
and prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but forgetting
to have youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to
discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old.
When his hair was quite white she left his society; but he still
had the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was
clad in celestial raiment. At length he lost the power of using
his limbs, and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his
feeble voice might at times be heard. Finally she turned him
into a grasshopper.

Memnon was the son of aurora and Tithonus. He was king of the
AEthiopians, and dwelt in the extreme east, on the shore of
Ocean. He came with his warriors to assist the kindred of his
father in the war of Troy. King Priam received him with great
honors, and listened with admiration to his narrative of the
wonders of the ocean shore.

The very day after his arrival, Memnon, impatient of repose, led
his troops to the field. Antilochus, the brave son of Nestor,
fell by his hand, and the Greeks were put to flight, when
Achilles appeared and restored the battle. A long and doubtful
contest ensued between him and the son of Aurora; at length
victor declared for Achilles, Memnon fell, and the Trojans fled
in dismay.

Aurora, who, from her station in the sky, had viewed with
apprehension the danger of her son, when she saw him fall
directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to the banks
of the river Esepus in Paphlagonia. In the evening Aurora came,
accompanied by the Hours and the Pleiads, and wept and lamented
over her son. Night, in sympathy with her grief, spread the
heaven with clouds; all nature mourned for the offspring of the
Dawn. The Aethiopians raised his tomb on the banks of the stream
in the grove of the nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and
cinders of his funeral-pile to be turned into birds, which,
dividing into two flocks, fought over the pile till they fell
into the flame. Every year, at the anniversary of his death,
they return and celebrate his obsequies in like manner. Aurora
remains inconsolable for the loss of her son. Her tears still
flow, and may be seen at early morning in the form of dew-drops
on the grass.

Unlike most of the marvels of ancient mythology, there will exist
some memorials of this. On the banks of the river Nile, in
Egypt, are two colossal statues, one of which is said to be the
statue of Memnon. Ancient writers record that when the first
rays of the rising sun fall upon this statue, a sound is heard to
issue from it which they compare to the snapping of a harp-
string. There is some doubt about the identification of the
existing statue with the one described by the ancients, and the
mysterious sounds are still more doubtful. Yet there are not
wanting some modern testimonies to their being still audible. It
has been suggested that sounds produced by confined air making
its escape from crevices or caverns in the rocks may have given
some ground for the story. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, a late
traveller, of the highest authority, examined the statue itself,
and discovered that it was hollow, and that "in the lap of the
statue is a stone, which, on being struck, emits a metallic
sound, that might still be made use of to deceive a visitor who
was predisposed to believe its powers."

The vocal statue of Memnon is a favorite subject of allusion with
the poets. Darwin, in his Botanic Garden, says,

"So to the sacred Sun in Memnon's fane
Spontaneous concords choired the matin strain;
Touched by his orient beam responsive rings
The living lyre and vibrates all its strings;
Accordant aisles the tender tones prolong,
And holy echoes swell the adoring song."

Myth Collection

Achelous and HerculesAcis and GalateaAdmetus and Alcestis
Agamemnon, Orestes, and ElectraAmphionAmphitrite
AntigoneApollo and DaphneApollo and Hyacinthus
Aurora and TithonusBacchusBaucis and Philemon
CadmusCastor and PolluxCephalus and Procris
Ceyx and HalcyoneClytieCupid and Psyche
DaedalusDiana and ActaeonDryope
Echo and NarcissusEndymionErisichthon
Glaucus and ScyllaHebe and GanymedeHercules
IbycusIo and CallistoLeucothea dnd Palaemon
LinusMarsyasMedea and Aeson
MelampusMenelaus and HelenMidas
Minerva and ArachneMonstersMusaeus
NeptuneNereus and DorisNiobe
Nisus and ScyllaOrionOrpheus and Eurydice
Pegasus and the ChimaeraPenelopePerseus and Medusa
PhaetonPluto and ProsperinePrometheus and Pandora
PygmalionPyramus and ThisbePython
ThamyrisThe Calydonian HuntThe Camenae
The CentaursThe Golden FleeceThe Graeae and Gorgons
The Griffin, or GryphonThe IliadThe Myrmidons
The PygmiesThe Rural DeitiesThe Sphinx
The Trojan WarThe Water DeitiesThe Winds
TheseusThetisVenus and Adonis
Vertumnus and Pomona

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