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Tales beyond belief

The Myth of Clytie
Clytie and her sister, Leucothea, were water nymphs. Early every morning they used to come up from the depths of their river, with other nymphs from neighboring streams and fountains, and dance among the water-plants on its shores. But with the first rays of the rising sun, all the dancers plunged back into the water and disappeared; for that was the law among water-nymphs.

One morning Clytie and Leucothea broke this law. When the sun began to show above the hills, and all the other nymphs rushed back to their streams, these two sat on the bank of their river, and watched for the coming of the sun-god. Then as Apollo drove his horses across the sky, they sat and watched him all day long.

They thought they had never seen anything so glorious. The god sat in his golden chariot with his crown on his head, and kept a firm rein on the four fire-breathing horses. The sisters were dazzled by the glitter of the chariot and the radiance of the jewelled crown. Apollo smiled upon them, and they were happy.

When night came, they returned to their river, where they could think of nothing else but Apollo and his golden chariot.

Before morning they fell to quarrelling, as sisters sometimes will. Then Clytie told King Oceanus how Leucothea had broken the law of the water-nymphs, but she did not say that she herself had broken it also. King Oceanus was very angry, and shut Leucothea up in a cave.

Just before daylight, Clytie went up to dance with the other nymphs, as usual, and once more she remained on the shore all day to watch the Sun. This time Apollo would not smile upon her, because he knew she had been unkind to her sister.

When night came, she did not go down to her home at the bottom of the river, but sat on its sandy bank, waiting for the coming of the Sun; and when he came again, she watched him, all day, and so on for nine days and nine nights. As she had broken the law, she did not dare to go home, therefore she had nothing to live on but the dew which fell from the sky. She grew so very thin that you would have thought the wind might blow her away. Foolish Clytie!

Yet, she sat there and watched the Sun, who never looked her way, and never smiled on her any more. At last her dainty feet, that had danced so lightly with the other nymphs, took root in the loose sand; her fluttering garments became green leaves; and her face, which was always turned toward the Sun, became a flower.

This flower still grows, in wet, sandy places, and still it turns slowly on its stem, always keeping its face toward the sun.

The Legend and Myth of Clytie

The Myth of Clytie
The story of Clytie is featured in the book entitled Favorite Greek Myths by Lilian Stoughton Hyde, published in 1904 by D. C. Heath and Company.

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