Friday, April 1, 2016

How the Tortoise Got Its Shell

Isn't this lovely? It shows Hermes striking "chelone" (χελώνη, Greek for tortoise), making her carry her house about for forever. It is inspired by the Aesop's fable of what happened when Zeus invited the tortoise to come to his wedding... but the tortoise preferred to stay home. More at Wikipedia.

Here is a 17th-century version of the fable by Sir Roger L'Estrange:

When the Toy had once taken Jupiter in the Head to enter into a State of Matrimony, he resolv'd, for the Honour of his Celestial Lady, that the whole World should keep a Festival upon the Day of his Marriage, and so Invited all Living Creatures, Tag, Rag, and Bob-tail, to the Solemnity of the Wedding. They all came in very good Time, saving only the Tortoise. Jupiter told him 'twas ill done to make the Company Stay, and ask'd him, Why so late? Why truly, says the Tortoise, I was at Home, at my Own House, my dearly Beloved House, and "Home is Home let it be never so Homely." Jupiter took it very Ill at his Hands, that he should think himself Better in a Ditch, than in a Palace, and so he pass'd this Judgment upon him; that since he would not be persuaded to come out of his House upon that occasion, he should never Stir abroad again from that Day forward, without his House upon his Head.

from the neo-Classical collection
of Stan. Poniatowski

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