IN a country that is far away there once lived a young man called Tithonus. He was strong and beautiful. Light of heart and light of foot, he hunted the deer or danced and sang the livelong day. Every one who saw him loved him, but the one that loved him most was a goddess named Aurora.
Every goddess had her own work, but the work of Aurora was most beautiful of all, for she was the goddess of the morning. It was she who went out to meet the sun and to light up his pathway. She watched. over the flowers, and whenever they saw her coming, their colors grew brighter. She loved everything beautiful, and that is why she loved Tithonus.
"Many a year have I roamed through this country," she said to herself, "but never have I seen such bright blue eyes as those. O fairest of youths," she cried, "who are you? Some name should be yours that sounds like the wind in the pine-trees, or like the song of a bird among the first blossoms."
The young man fell upon his knees before her. "I know well," said he, "that you are no maiden of the earth. You are a goddess come down to us from the skies. I am but a hunter, and I roam through the forest looking for deer."
"Come with me, fairest of hunters," said Aurora. "Come with me to the home of my father. You shall live among my brothers and hunt with them, or go with me at the first brightness of the morning to carry light and gladness to the flowers."
So it was that Tithonus went away from his own country and his own home to live in the home of Aurora.
For a long time they were happy together, but one day Aurora said, "Tithonus, I am a goddess, and so I am immortal, but some day death will bear you away from me. I will ask the father of the gods that you too may be immortal."
Then Aurora went to the king of the gods and begged that he would make Tithonus immortal.
"Sometimes people are not pleased even when I have given them what they ask," replied the king, "so think well before you speak."
"I have only one wish," said Aurora, "and it is that Tithonus, the fairest of youths, shall be immortal."
"You have your wish," said the king of the gods, and again Tithonus and Aurora roamed happily together through forest and field.
One day Tithonus asked, "My Aurora, why is it that I cannot look straight into your eyes as once I did?" Another day he said, "My Aurora, why is it that I cannot put my hand in yours as once I did?"
Then the goddess wept sorrowfully. "The king of the gods gave me what I asked for," she wailed, "and I begged that you should be immortal. I did not remember to ask that you should be always young."
Every day Tithonus grew older and smaller. "I am no longer happy in your father's home," he said, "with your brothers who are as beautiful and as strong as I was when I first saw you. Let me go back to my own country. Let me be a bird or an insect and live in the fields where we first roamed together. Let me go, dearest goddess."
"You shall do as you will," replied Aurora sadly. "You shall be a grasshopper, and whenever I hear the grasshopper's clear, merry song, I shall remember the happy days when we were together."