Capitulum decimum octavum.
Eusebius in Cronica. Fables were founde specially in Grece in the tyme of Aioth, and hit is seide that Ysopus founde theym firste to onorne trawthe naturalle, leste the secrete Page 365, vol.2 thynges of nature scholde wexe vile. Wherefore thei fey|nede diuerse names and actiones of goddes after diuerse natures and qualites of thynges. Alexander in Mythologia. As thei seide men to haue bene made of stones after the grete floode; whiche was a thynge feynede of olde men, for men inhabite other in dennes made of ston, other in holo trees, afore that they hade howses made; other elles, if thei hade not suche habitaciones, thei wente abowte in the maner of bestes. Augustinus, libro decimo octavo, capitulo 13o. Fables were made in the londe of Grece after the dethe of Iosue vn to the batelle of Troy, as Vulcanus to haue tariede with Minerva, and that Erutonius was geten with the feete of a dragon, whiche is but a fable and a fenyede thynge of poetes. Neuerthelesse there was a childe founde in the temple of Vulcanus and of Minerua at Athenes, sette þer compassede and wrappede abowte with the tayle of a dragon, whiche signifiede the childe to be a grete man in tyme to comme, whiche childe was callede the childe of Vulcanus and of Minerva, the faders of whom were not knowen in trawthe. Also hit is seide off Tritho|lomus, Page 367, vol.2 that corne beenge skarse, he was brouȝhte in to the aier with bryddes, whiche flyenge brouȝhte cornes to londes hauenge necessite þer of. Also that Cerberus scholde be a dogge of helle. Also that Frixus and Elle hys sustyr cariede with a weder did flye. Also that the ylle dis|posede woman, Gorgones by name, chaungede men be|holdenge here into stones. Also of Bellofrons, that he was cariede with an horse flyenge with wynges, þe horse of whom was callede Pegasus. Also of Amphion, that he attracte stones to hym thro the swetnesse off an harpe. Also of Dedalus, and Icarus his son, that they did flye. Also that Anteus was the son of the erthe, whom Hercules did sle, in that he fallenge and towchenge þe erthe was more stronge when he did aryse. Isidorus, libro undecimo. Also hit is but a fable that Geryon the gigaunte and kynge of Speyne, sleyne by Hercules, was of thre similitudes. For there were thre breþer of suche concorde that thei were alle as of oon sawle. That the commune women, Gorgones by theire names, turnede men beholdenge them in to stones, is but a fable. But there were iij. sustyrs as of oon pul|critude, Page 369, vol.2 whiche meruaylede theire beholders, as if thei were stones. Also that poetes feyne iij. meremaydes to be in parte virgines and in parte bryddes, hauenge wynges and talandes, of whom oon songe with here voyce, an other with a trumpe, þat other with an harpe, whiche drawede men in the see to grete perelles, hit is but a fable. But there were iij. commune women, whiche inducede men drawenge to theym to grete pouerte, wherefore thei were seide to induce men in to grete perelle. Also that thei feyne Scylla*. [Scilla, MS., and Silla below.] to be a woman succincte with the hedes of dogges, with grete berkenge; that is seide for the see of Scicille, where in men saylenge and dredenge the turnenges of water þer trawede the water to berke like a dogge. Soe in like wise men feyne Idra, þe serpente, to haue hade ix. hedes, so that oon kytte awei iij. increasede, whiche Idra was a place conteynenge water, and euomet|enge hit, where of oon place stoppede other broste vp in mony places, whiche thynge Hercules perceyvenge schutte those goenges furthe; wherefore hit is seyde that Hercules Page 371, vol.2 did slee Idra the serpente. Isidorus, libro primo, capitulo tricesimo primo. Hit is to be attended that poetes in|ducede fables for iij. especialle causes. Oon was for cause of pleasure and delectacion, as Plautus*. [Plauctus, or Plauttus, Harl. MS., and so below.] and Terentius do reherse, and also the fables that be rehersede of commune peple. An other cause was for nature to be couerede and onornede that as a figmente callede chimera, expressenge the age of a man, scholde be of a triplicate nature. The firste parte of whom, that is adolescency, is cruelle as a lyon. The secunde is youthe, scharpe of siȝhte, or elles ille sauorenge like to a goote. The thrydde is age, de|clynenge to feblenesse like to a dragon. Therefore hit may be schewede that fables were ordeinede to the com|posicion and cause of vertuous exercise, that thauȝhe thynges be feynede the significacion of theyme is profit|able, as in Oratius of the mowse and wesylle, in Ysope and Arrian of the fox and of the wulfe, and Demosthenes*. [Demostines, Harl. MS.]Page 373, vol.2 of wulfes and dogges, made to the deliueraunce of poetes. Seynte Austyn acordethe to this, libro De Mendacio, sey|enge, thauȝhe fables be not trewe, neuertheles thei cause trawthe in the thynge significate by theyme. Augustinus de Civitate Dei, libro tertio, capitulo tertio. Also hit is confirmate by the auctorite of the Romanes that Eneas was geten of that goddesse callede Venus, and that Romu|lus was gotten of that godde callede Mars; but y ȝiffe not credence to that seienge, neither Varro the writer of stories of the Romanes ȝaffe credence þerto, seyenge, Hit is profitable that men of nobilite ȝiffe to credence þeim to be geten of goddes, and also to citesynnes, that the herte of man bolde thro hit scholde presume and be more bolde to go to grete thynges. Alexander, in Mythologia. As Macrobius rehersethe of the dreames of Scipio, somme fables be feynede for cause of delectation, as the fables of Menander and of Terentius; and thei do not perteyne to philosophres. Somme be feynede for cause of vtilite to the exhortacion of peple, in whom other þat mater, other Page 375, vol.2 the ordre of the narracion of the thynge y-feynede, that is feynede falsely, and tellede by a fals thynge; and these fables perteyne not to a philosophre; as the fables of Isope and Auian. Other elles a trewe thynge is rehersede by a feynede thynge, as the seyenges of Esiodus and of Orpheus of the acte and progeny of goddes; and that is not a fable, but a fabulous narracion; whiche perteyne not to philosophres and to diuines. But fables whiche be re|hersede by meke thynges and honeste, as Plato feynede a knyȝhte, Er by name, to haue risen from dethe, and to haue schewede mony thynges of the immortalite of the sawle. Soe in lyke wise Tullius feynede Scipio to haue dreamede of the immortalite of the sawle. ℞. Also Boe|tius, the grete clerke, feynede philosophy to haue apperede to hym. A diuyne may vse these maneres, the laste maner excepte but oon. Petrus. The latere Apollo, son of Latona, after the wrytenge of men of Grewe, founde the arte of medicines, and made an harpe, in the tyme of Aioth. ℞. And, after Isidorus, Ethymol., libro 3o, that man Page 377, vol.2 Mercurius did adde to the harpe vij. cordes, in the tyme of Gedeon, and streynede þeim in to a sownde in this maner folowenge. When that grete floode callede of Nilus after the flooenge of hit returnede ageyne, levenge diuerse bestes in the feldes, a schelle fische was lefte also, whiche putrefiede, the senowes of hit were extente within the couerenge of that fische, whiche ȝafe a lytelle sownde; Mercurius perceyvenge that, made an harpe vn to the similitude of hit, and toke hit to Orpheus the nowble harper. Petrus. The seide Mercurius founde in that tyme siringas, whiche be musicalle instrumentes made of pipes other reedes, whiche name was taken of Siringa, wife to Cadmus, whiche departede from here howsebonde for the luffe of armony. But hit is not hade in certitude what Mercury this was, wheder hit was Hermes, other Tri|megistus the philosopher, other elles grete Mercurius. For Iosephus rehersethe that there were thre nowble men cal|lede by that name Mercurius. Isidorus, Ethym., libro 5 to, etPage 379, vol.2Petrus. A instrumente callede chorus, other a chore, was founde in Grece, of fewe cordes and strynges, whiche is callede nowe a crowthe or a crowde.