A modern Antaeus
The Antaeus of Greek myth wins his fame before men's eyes only at the decisive moment when the gift of his birthright fails him.
The contest which by fresh sips of strength he maintains against one stronger than himself comes suddenly to an end, when Hercules, clipping him from his mother's embrace, has crushed and flung him back to earth like a squeezed orange.
It is as though we only came on Achilles in overthrow when the arrow of the Trojan pierces his heel, or on Meleager at the moment when his mother restores his fate to the flames; and the modern mind feels a longing to know more of a legend lovelier in itself than that of the arbitrary protection given by the gods to their chosen among mortals.
For about the life of Antaeus, there was a natural rather than a miraculous charm: he had but in ex- cess the gift which lies, remote or near, in us all.
What, one wonders, must his childhood and growth have been like, from the moment when he emerged earthy out of some cleft of rocks which had once given lap to Oceanus on a day of spring tides and crawling to his first wash in the bay, had there lain rocked by the railing shallows, a confident suckling; till the day when, as the plough turns the clod back into the furrow, Hercules, the pioneer of the gods of the uncouth ways of earth, turned him back to the place whence he had come.
One sees him a valiant crawler from his birth, toppling to his feet early in the first moon of his existence; presently a runner and a jumper, rebellious against leading strings, yet always back again, rolling a tough hide in mould and flowers, and grass which for him soon ceases to have rough edges at all. One fancies him later testing his strength by the roots and small saplings which he manages to tug up out of Mother Earth; and Earth herself, Hke the pelican in piety, giving her torn breast gladly that out of it her youngling may fetch strength
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