|Author||John H. Haaren|
|Publisher||A. J. Cornell Publications|
|Publication Date||April 9, 2011|
Originally published in 1904 as individual chapters of the authors’ larger work, “Famous Men of Greece,” this Kindle edition, equivalent in length to a physical book of approximately 55 pages, describes, in simple language for young readers, the heroic feats of Hecules (including his 12 labors), Jason (and his quest for the golden fleece), Achilles (and his role in the Trojan War), and Ulysses (also known as Odysseus, the central figure of Homer’s “Oddysey”).
(Hercules) This hydra was a nine-headed water serpent whose very breath was poisonous. It was hard to kill the creature because as soon as one head was cut off two others at once sprang up in its place. This task might have proved too much for Hercules if a friend had not prevented new heads from growing by burning each neck with a firebrand the instant that Hercules cut off the head.
(Jason) This fleece became one of the wonders of the world; and lest it should be stolen, a dragon was set to watch it. Many persons tried to get possession of it, but most, if not all of them, lost their lives in the attempt. Jason knew all this, but he said at once that he would get the fleece. Before setting out on the journey, however, he went to a place called Dodona to ask the advice of Jupiter; for at Dodona there was a wonderful talking oak which told men the advice and commands of Jupiter. As soon as Jason came near the oak the leaves began to rustle, and a voice from within the tree said: “Build a fifty-oared ship. Take as companions the greatest heroes of Greece. Cut a branch from the talking oak and make it a part of the prow of the vessel.”
(Achilles) When Achilles learned that his friend had been slain he forgot his wrongs and rushed from his tent, shouting the war-cry of the Greeks. He had neither shield nor spear. Yet the Trojans fled at the sound of his voice; and the ships and tents of the Greeks were saved. The body of Patroclus was then carried into the tent of Achilles, and the hero wept for his friend. As he sat mourning his mother Thetis rose from her home in the sea and came to comfort him. She then went to Vulcan the great blacksmith, who made all things of iron and bronze for the gods, and said: “Good Vulcan, make for my son such a suit of armor as never mortal has worn.”
(Ulysses) After passing the Sirens’ Isle, Ulysses had to sail through a dangerous strait, now known as the Strait of Messina. In a rocky cave on one side of it dwelt a monster called Scylla that had six heads and six mouths. Each mouth could take in a whole man at once. Near the other side of the strait was Charybdis, a whirlpool that sucked down all ships that came near it. Ulysses saw that he could not escape both these dangers, and so to avoid Charybdis he steered close to Scylla. He ordered his men to row as fast as they could past the monster’s cave; and the ship fairly spun through the water. But Scylla was also quick. Darting out all her heads at once, she seized six of the crew. While she was devouring them the ship sped past her, and Ulysses with the rest of his men escaped.
About the authors:
John H. Haaren (1855-1916) and Addison B. Poland (1851?-1917) were educators and historians. Haaren was District Superintendent of Schools of the City of New York; Poland was Superintendent of Schools of Newark, NJ. Other works by Haaren and Poland include “Famous Men of the Middle Ages” and “Famous Men of Rome.”