Page:Omniana.djvu/233

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215
OMNIANA

109. Origin of the worship of Hymen.

The origin of the worship of Hymen is thus related by Lactantius. The story would furnish matter for an excellent pantomime. Hymen was a beautiful youth of Athens, who for the love of a young virgin disguised himself, and assisted at the (Eleusinian) rites: and at this time, he, together with his beloved, and divers other young ladies of that city, was surprized and carried off by pirates; who supposing him to be what he appeared, lodged him with his mistress. In the dead of the night, when the Robbers were all asleep, he rose and cut their throats. Thence making hasty way back to Athens, he bargained with the Parents that he would restore to them their Daughter, and all her companions, if they would consent to her marriage with him. They did so, and this marriage proving remarkably happy, it became the custom to invoke the name of Hymen at all nuptials.