Page:The fairy tales of science.djvu/326

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of black rams, spilt in a pit, was the peace-offering presented to him.

Pluto’s lord high-treasurer and secretary of state for the financial department was Plutus, the God of Wealth, son of Jasius and Ceres. We find that the ancient Greeks imputed to this god blindness and folly, which in fact would appear to have been the chief qualifications that recommended him for his high office. He was depicted lame in his approach, winged in his departure. Among the other high officers of state in Pluto’s court, figured more especially the three fatal sistersClotho, who held the spindle, and drew the thread of man’s life; Lachesis, who spun it; and Atropos, who cut it asunder with her relentless scissors; the three infernal judges—Minos, the lord chief-justice of hell, the son of Jupiter and Europa, whilom king and lawgiver of the Cretans; and his two assistant-judges, Æacus, the son of Jupiter and Ægina;[1] and Rhadamanthus, also a Cretan lawgiver. These three presided over the great interminable commission of oyer and terminer, and everlasting universal jail-delivery, held in the infernum. Before their dread tribunal had to appear all the shades of the departed; no

  1. The bestowal of the highest and most important “offices of state” upon the sons and nearest relatives of the chief gods, affords a curious illustration of how thoroughly the ancients had moulded their gods upon the model of human nature, and made them in their own image. Thus we find two out of three judgeships of hell given to sons of Jupiter—tout comme chez nous.