The little book of Old Greek Folk Stories, written in the late 1800's was written to supplement the myths told in Hawthorne's classics, the Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales. It is shorter and simpler than Hawthorne's work and appropriate for younger children. Some of the characters it features include Prometheus, who brought fire to earth, Orpheus, the most talented of musicians, the cunning Daedalus who created the Labyrinth on Crete, Phaethon, Apollo, and many other well-known gods and heroes.
HAWTHORNE, in his Wonder-Book and Tanglewood Tales, has told, in a manner familiar to multitudes of American children and to many more who once were children, a dozen of the old Greek folk stories. They have served to render the persons and scenes known as no classical dictionary would make them known. But Hawthorne chose a few out of the many myths which are constantly appealing to the reader not only of ancient but of modern literature. The group contained in the collection which follows will help to fill out the list; it is designed to serve as a complement to the Wonder-Book and Tanglewood Tales, so that the references to the stories in those collections are brief and allusive only. In order to make the entire series more useful, the index added to this number of the Riverside Literature Series is made to include also the stories contained in the other numbers of the series which contain Hawthorne's two books. Thus the index serves as a tolerably full clue to the best-known characters in Greek mythology.
Once upon a time, men made friends with the Earth. They listened to all that woods and waters might say; their eyes were keen to see wonders in silent country places and in the living creatures that had not learned to be afraid. To this wise world outside the people took their joy and sorrow; and because they loved the Earth, she answered them.
It was not strange that Pan himself sometimes brought home a shepherd's stray lamb. It was not strange, if one broke the branches of a tree, that some fair life within wept at the hurt. Even now, the Earth is glad with us in springtime, and we grieve for her when the leaves go. But in the old days there was a closer union, clearer speech between men and all other creatures, Earth and the stars about her.
Out of the life that they lived together, there have come down to us these wonderful tales; and, whether they be told well or ill, they are too good to be forgotten.