The God of Happiness
Eratones was the god of Happiness and Literature. He lived in a splendid palace overlooking and the rivers that flowed into it.
Eratones was the son of Hermes and Erato, one of the Muses. He had the gift of making beautiful poetry and writing wonderful stories. He also kept all the people in all of Greece happy. It is said that except for the Elysian Fields, where the good people go when they die, there was no place happier than Paxos, his island. The inhabitants were content, whether they were rich or poor. Everyone had a smile on his/her face because of the spirit of Happiness that surrounded the island.
Being the good god of Literature, Eratones taught writing to the willing learners and aspiring writers of Greece. Of course, none of them surpassed the god himself, who was the son of a Muse, but Eratones was always willing to share his knowledge.
But the god of Happiness had not always been so happy. In fact, once, when he was so saddened, the rest of his people and much of Greece felt unhappy as well. If not for Zephyra, a young nymph, Eratones would have ceased to remain the god of Happiness.
A long, long time ago, the god of Happiness fell in love. He thought he was content—he was a god, a ruler, and happy one, after all—but when his gaze fell on Xantheia, a river-nymph, Cupid's arrow struck him, and gazing upon the beauty and charm of that daughter of Aphrodite, Eratones resolves to woo her and try to win her affection.
The god wrote all sorts of lovely poetry for Xantheia, he sent her precious gems, flowers, and sweet things to eat. Yet the nymph would not pay heed to her fervent admirer. She was in love with someone else, you see—not a god, but a young prince from Crete. Thus the charming Xantheia refused the love of the god of Happiness, causing him to despair.
Eratones, always so selfless, cheerful and contented, started to change. Why wouldn't Xantheia love him? he asked himself. Other gods would have destroyed their rivals for the heart of a young maiden, but Eratones was not like that. He grew bitter, but instead of comparing himself to others, he looked into himself. He saw his imperfections. He wondered if Xantheia had experienced sorrow before, and now refused to love a god who knew only happiness. Eratones knew sadness from poems he read, or tragedies concerning other gods, but only now had he experienced it himself.
And so Paxos became a gloomier place, and the spirit of Happiness ceased to dwell in the hearts of men. This was all because of Eratones' resolve not to be happy anymore, and to never love a girl again.
Pretty soon the gods and goddesses in Olympus noticed that there was a cloud of gloom settling over the land and sea, and even Olympus seemed less joyful. They begged Eratones to take heart and be happy once more, but the god only felt that he was a useless, selfish god, and still he did nothing about it.
One of Eratones students, Zephyra, the daughter of the West Wind and a mortal woman, quietly observed the situation on her island. She wrote about the gloom, how strange it was. The girl was not used to it, of course, but somehow she realized that this crisis could make her stronger if she did something to fix it.
Zephyra went to her mentor and read him the poems and stories she wrote. He would not listen, for he refused to teach anymore, but she persevered. She loved Paxos, and wanted her neighbors to be happy again. She loved her mentor as well, but was careful to keep it secret.
Later on, as Eratones grew weaker and more cynical, his companions at the palace grew more and more irritated with him. They left him, because they felt that his sadness and cynicism was too much to bear. Only Zephyra stayed behind. She tried to point out to Eratones the beauty in nature and in his palace; she read and wrote to him, but Eratones remained hard-hearted.
At last, close to despair herself, Zephyra prayed to Aphrodite that she soften Eratones' heart, and then she made a beautiful poem of love to Eratones. Upon hearing the sweet words of her poetry, Eratones' heart, hardened with cynicism and longing for someone to love him back, softened.
Afterwards, Eratones made Zephyra his goddess, and Happiness was restored to Paxos and Greece.