Greek and Roman Mythology > The Pygmies

The Pygmies

The Pygmies were a nation of dwarfs, so called from a Greek word
which means the cubit (a cubit was a measure of about thirteen
inches), which was said to be the height of these people. They
lived near the sources of the Nile, or according to others, in
India. Homer tells us that the cranes used to migrate every
winter to the Pygmies' country, and their appearance was the
signal of bloody warfare to the puny inhabitants, who had to take
up arms to defend their cornfields against the rapacious
strangers. The Pygmies and their enemies the cranes form the
subject of several works of art.

Later writers tell of an army of Pygmies which finding Hercules
asleep made preparations to attack him, as if they were about to
attack a city. But the hero awaking laughed at the little
warriors, wrapped some of them up in his lion's-skin, and carried
them to Eurystheus.

Milton used the Pygmies for a simile, Paradise Lost, Book I:

"----------like that Pygmaean race
Beyond the Indian mount, or fairy elves
Whose midnight revels by a forest side,
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
(Or dreams he sees), while overhead the moon
Sits artibress, and nearer to the earth
Wheels her pale course; they on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear.
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds."



Myth Collection


Achelous and HerculesAcis and GalateaAdmetus and Alcestis
Agamemnon, Orestes, and ElectraAmphionAmphitrite
AntigoneApollo and DaphneApollo and Hyacinthus
AriadneArionAristaeus
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
RhoecusSapphoSimonides
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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