91. The hound Tempest becomes a statue

Once upon a time, Oedipus, the son of Iocaste and King Laius of Thebes, had solved the riddle of the Sphinx, who in despair, fell from the hill and died. To take revenge for the voluntary death of the Sphinx, the mighty goddess Themis, raised another beast, so that Thebes suffered. This beast killed people, ate the cattle and ruined the land.

Many brave men of the realm went to Thebes, to offer their help to fight the beast. Cephalus, the Athenian noble and hero, also went with them. Along with him, he took the wonderful javelin and the speedy hound Tempest, which goddess Diana had kindly gifted to his wife Procris.

Assembling at Thebes, several heroes of many lands, together proceeded in their task of fighting the beast. They encircled the area with meshed nets, hoping to trap the beast, but the beast giving a fearful howl, leapt over every trap that was set. Then, the fierce hunting dogs were set loose, but the beast swiftly ran and left the futilely barking dogs far behind. When every effort had failed, all present entreated Cephalus, to release his hound Tempest.

No sooner had Cephalus released the taut leash, the hound swiftly pursued the beast and vanished from sight, with a hot dust arising at wherever his quick feet, struck the ground. Tempest chased the beast with more swiftness than a speedily flying spear, or a rapid stone from a sling, or a feathered arrow discharged from a twanging bow.

From a hilltop, Cephalus saw the beast was elusive in its flight. It suddenly turned and circled, in an effort to gain speed or deceive the pursuer. But Tempest pursued hotly, snapping the vacant air with fearsome sharp teeth. Cephalus steadied his hand on the never-missing javelin, to throw at the beast. Suddenly, both the beast and Tempest, were turned to marble statues, in postures of one fleeing while the other, in hot pursuit behind. It seemed, as if some god, finding them to be equal, had stopped the match, by transforming them into marble statues.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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