|Greek and Roman Mythology > Endymion
One calm, clear night, Diana, the Moon, looked down and saw him
sleeping. The cold heart of the virgin goddess was warmed by his
surpassing beauty, and she came down to him, kissed him, and
watched over him while he slept.
Another story was that Jupiter bestowed on him the gift of
perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Of one so gifted we
can have but few adventures to record. Diana, it was said, took
care that his fortunes should not suffer by his inactive life,
for she made his flock increase, and guarded his sheep and lambs
from the wild beasts.
The story of Endymion has a peculiar charm from the human meaning
which it so thinly veils. We see in Endymion the young poet, his
fancy and his heart seeking in vain for that which can satisfy
them, finding his favorite hour in the quiet moonlight, and
nursing there beneath the beams of the bright and silent witness
the melancholy and the ardor which consumes him. The story
suggests aspiring and poetic love, a life spent more in dreams
than in reality, and an early and welcome death.
S. G. Bulfinch
The Endymion of Keats is a wild and fanciful poem, containing
some exquisite poetry, as this, to the moon:
"The sleeping kine
Couched in thy brightness dream of fields divine.
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes,
And yet thy benediction passeth not
One obscure hiding place, one little spot
Where pleasure may be sent; the nested wren
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken."
Dr. Young in the Night Thoughts alludes to Endymion thus:
"These thoughts, O Night, are thine;
>From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs,
While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,
In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere,
Her shepherd cheered, of her enamored less
Than I of thee."
Fletcher, in the Faithful Shepherdess, tells,
"How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,
First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
She took eternal fire that never dies;
How she conveyed him softly in a sleep,
His temples bound with poppy, to the steep
Head of Old Latmos, where she stoops each night,
Gilding the mountain with her brother's light,
To kiss her sweetest."