The Ancient Library

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On this page: Phaeaces – Phaedra – Phaedus – Phaethon



who formed the heavy infantry (hoplltce). {See warfare.)

PhssacSs. A fabulous people in Homer, to whom Odysseus comes in his wanderings [Od. vi-viiij. They stand as near to the gods as the Giants and CyclOpls, seeing them face to face. Originally settled in Hj'pereia, they were compelled by the violence of their neighbours the Cyclopes to migrate, tinder their king Nauslthoiis, son of P6sei-don and Perlbcea, daughter of EurymSdon, the last king of the Giants, to the happy island of Scherla, where they built a city. On the arrival of Odysseus their ruler was Alcinous, _the wise son of Nausithoiis; his wife was Arete, his brother's daughter, and besides many sons he was the father of the fair Nausicaa, Odysseus' preserver. Far from the turmoil of the world, the Phaeaces are described as leading a life of undisturbed happiness in the enjoyment of the goods wherewith they are richly blessed ; above all Alcinous, who had the fairest of orchards and a most beautiful palace. Their business is solely with the sea, with shipping and the provision of all that belongs to it. Their ships are of wondrous sort. Without steersman or rudder, divining of themselves the wishes and thoughts of all men, and knowing all lands, they traverse the sea awift as a bird or a thought, wrapped in mist and darkness, yet have never suffered wreck or foundering. But when the ship, that brought the sleeping Odysseus in one night to Thrace, came back, POseidon, of whose envious malice a prophecy had long ago bidden them beware, changed it to a rock in sight of harbour, and the Phgeaces were in fear that the rest of the saying would come true, and mountains rise up all round their city. Though it is obvious that the Phaeaces and their abodes, Hypereia and Scheria, are purely mythical, the kingdom of Alcinous was early identified as Corcyra (Corfu). He had a shrine there, and the harbour was named after him. Near the island was also shown the petrified ship. Hence the later Argonautic legends made even Jason and Medea touch at Corcyra on their flight from Metes, and, like Odys­seus, find protection and help from Alcinous. (See argonauts.)

Phaedra. Daugh ter of Minos and Paslphae, wife of Theseus, and mother of Acainas and Demophoon. When her stepson Hippolytus rejected her love, she compassed his death by slandering him to Theseus. Afterwards, in remorse for her guilt, she put an end to her life. (See hippolttds.)

Phaedrus. A Roman poetical fabulist; by birth a Macedonian of the district of Plerla, he came early to Rome as a slave, and acquired a knowledge of Roman literature while still a boy. If the traditional title of his five books of fables after ^Esop is to be trusted (Phtedri, Augusti Ijberti, fab&liE jEsopiis), he was set free by Augustus. To Phaedrus belongs the credit of introducing fable-writing into Latin poetical literature; a fact of which he was fully conscious, but which secured him neither relief from his miserable position, nor recognition on the part of the educated public; his patrons seem to have been only freedmen like himself. In fact, he even drew upon him­self, by his two first published books, the illwill and persecution of the all-powerful favourite of Tiberius, Sejanus, who suspected in them malicious references to contemporary events. In consequence he did not publish the remaining books till after the fall of Sejanus in 31 a.d., and the death of Tiberius in 37.

The five books are preserved, though not in a complete form. Whether the further collection of thirty-two fables transcribed from a MS in the 15th century by Archbishop Nicolo Perotti (Fabulce Perottiance) [and published at Naples in 1809] are a genuine work of Phaedrus, is doubtful. The matter of the fables is only to a small extent borrowed from ^Esop. Some include stories from history, partly referring to the pre­sent or immediate past. In relation to the Greek originals, the material is not always skilfully used, especially in the " morals." The drawing of the characters is at first very cramped, but is afterwards more broadly treated ; the language fluent, and in general correct ; the metre too (iambic senHrius), used with strictness, though wanting the purity which, in this kind of verse, became general from the time of Catullus. About the 10th century an author calling himself Romulus, drew up a prose version of Phaedrus, which served as a model for the mediaeval collections of fables.

Pk&ethon. Son of HelI6s (who is him­self sometimes called Phaethon) and the Sea-nymph Clymene, wife of M8rops, king of jEthiopia. When he grew up, he de­manded of his father, as a proof of his birth, the privilege of driving the chariot of the sun for a single day. He proved, however, too weak to restrain the horses, who soon ran away with him, and plunged, now close up to heaven, now right down to

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