sit on a bright shining star


Senior Member
And Calypso, that fair Goddess, questioned Hermes, when she had made him sit on a bright shining star:

'Wherefore, I pray thee, Hermes of the golden wand, hast thou come hither, worshipful and welcome, whereas as of old thou wert not wont to visit me? Tell me all thythought; my heart is set on fulfilling it, if fulfil it I may, and if it hath been fulfilled in the counsel of fate. But now follow me further, that I may set before thee the entertainment of strangers.'

Tales of Troy and Greece, by Andrew Lang

Can I read 'star' literally?
Can it refer to other things?
Please help. Thank you.
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You can read it literally in the context of Greek myth. A bright light in the sky (many of which were formerly people and other types of beings, e.g. the Pleiades). You can't read it literally in a modern sense. He was not sitting on a giant ball of gases undergoing nuclear fusion many light years away.


    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    In the Greek, Calypso makes Hermes sit on a bright shining chair, not a star.

    Lang certainly knew that the Greek word θρόνος (thronos, from which English 'throne' is derived) meant 'chair' rather than 'star.' I'd be really surprised if he changed the story radically and introduced stars as seats for the gods; that idea is alien to Greek epic poetry and its concepts of the gods. And everything else about Calypso's island home is totally down to earth.

    I suspect 'star' is a transcription error in the Gutenberg version (earlier Gutenberg versions of books used to be full of transcription errors). I suppose the chair is bright and shining because it's been highly polished.