BOOK IV - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
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Page 130
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 .
The Muses Nine with Voices sweet do cant.

Hesiod likewise summs up their Names in these Verses—

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
Clio, Thalia and Melpomene,
Likewise Erato and Terpsichore,
Polymnia, Urania, Euterpe,
And one beyond them all, Calliope.

To each of these they attribute their peculiar Art in particular sorts of Sciences, as poetical Harmony, Dancing, Singing, Astrology and the rest of the liberal Arts. They are said by most to be Virgins, because liberal Sciences seem to be uncorrupt, and virtuous Qualifications.

They are call'd Muses from the Greek Word Myein, which signifies the teaching of things commendable and profitable, and such as are unknown to them that are instructed. They apply likewise to each a particular Reason of their several Names. Clio, they say, is so call'd, because she advances Mens Names to the Skies in assisting the Poets to resound their Praise. Euterpe, because she delights her Auditors with wholesom and commendable Instructions. Thalia, from the constant Glory and Honour that attends upon Learning. Melpomene, is so call'd from Melody, by which means she insinuates her self with Delight into the Minds of Men. Terpsichore, because she delights her Scholars with those Pleasures that result from Learning. Erato, because she procures Love and Respect to Learned Men from all. Polymnia, from the many Hymns whereby she advances the Renown of her Poets, and crowns their Names with immortal Praise and Glory. Urania, because those that are taught and improv'd by her are even lifted up to Heaven. Lastly, Calliope, from the Sweetness of her Voice, that is, her elegant Language and exact Composures of her Verse, whereby she gains the general Applause of her Learned Auditors.

Having treated sufficiently of these Matters, we shall now bend our Discourse to the things done by Hercules.

I am not ignorant that those that write of the Actions of the Ancients, especially of the Acts of Hercules, meet with many Difficulties; for of all the great Actions that ever were done in the World, those of Hercules far exceed all that ever have been recorded. A most difficult Task therefore it is to give such an Account of what this Hero did, as may be agreeable to the Worth and Dignity of his Actions, or to frame such a Discourse as may equalize the Greatness of them, for which he attain'd to a State of Immortality. For in as much as things that are ancient and unusual are judg'd incredible by most, its absolutely necessary, though with the Diminution of this God's Glory, to omit some of his Acts, lest by relating all, the whole History be rejected as fabulous. For some unreasonably expect as clear Evidence for things that are ancient, as for those done in our own Age, and judge of the Greatness of Actions (which makes them seem incredible) according to the Rule of things done in the present time; and judge of the Strength of Hercules according to the weak Measure of Mens Strength now.

And so by reason of the Greatness and Strangeness of things related, History suffers in its Credit and Reputation. But in old Stories the Truth ought not to be search'd into too critically and punctually: For in the Plays and Theaters, tho' we do not believe for certain that there ever were such Creatures as Centaurs, or Creatures of a double Nature of several Species's, nor such a one as Geryon, that had three Bodies, yet we favourably receive and entertain those Fables, and with a general Applause advance the Honour of the God. How unjust is it then that Men should forget the Labours of Hercules while he was here upon Earth? Whereby he did Good to all the World, and instead of rendring him his due Praises,



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