Fourthly, While we so eagerly adhere unto Antiquity, and the accounts of elder times, we are to consider the fabulous condition thereof. And that we shall not deny, if we call to mind the Mendacity of Greece, from whom we have received most relations, and that a considerable part of ancient Times, was by the Greeks themselves termed μύθικον, that is, made up or stuffed out with Fables. And surely the fabulous inclination of those days, was greater then any since; which swarmed so with Fables, and from such slender grounds, took hints for fictions, poysoning the World ever after; wherein how far they exceeded, may be exemplified from Palephatus,14 in his Book of Fabulous Narrations. That Fable of Orpheus, who, by the melody of his Musick, made Woods and Trees to follow him, was raised upon a slender foundation; for there were a crew of mad women, retired unto a Mountain from whence being pacified by his Musick, they descended with boughs in their hands, which unto the fabulosity of those times proved a sufficient ground to celebrate unto all posterity the Magick of Orpheus Harp, and its power to attract the sensless Trees about it. That Medea the famous Sorceress could renew youth, and make old men young again, was nothing else, but that from the knowledge of Simples she had a Receit to make white hair black, and reduce old heads, into the tincture of youth again. The Fable of Gerion and Cerberus with three heads, was this: Gerion was of the City of Tricarinia, that is, of three heads, and Cerberus of the same place was one of his Dogs, which running into a Cave upon pursuit of his Masters Oxen, Hercules perforce drew him out of that place, from whence the conceits of those days affirmed no less, then that Hercules descended into Hell, and brought up Cerberus into the habitation of the living. Upon the like grounds was raised the figment of Briareus, who dwelling in a City called Hecatonchiria, the fansies of those times assigned him an hundred hands. 'Twas ground enough to fansie wings unto Dædalus, in that he stole out of a Window from Minos, and sailed away with his son Icarus: who steering his course wisely, escaped; but his son carrying too high a sail was drowned. That Niobe weeping over her children, was turned into a Stone, was nothing else, but that during her life she erected over their Sepultures a Marble Tomb of her own. When Acteon had undone himself with Dogs, and the prodigal attendants of hunting, they made a solemn story how he was devoured by his Hounds. And upon the like grounds was raised the Anthropophagie15 of Diomedes his horses. Upon as slender foundation was built the Fable of the Minotaure; for one Taurus a servant of Minos gat his Mistris Pasiphae with child, from whence the Infant was named Minotaurus. Now this unto the fabulosity of those times was thought sufficient to accuse Pasiphae of Beastiality, or admitting conjunction with a Bull; and in succeeding ages gave a hint of depravity unto Domitian to act the Fable into reality. In like manner, as Diodorus plainly delivereth, the famous Fable of Charon had its Nativity; who being no other but the common Ferry-man of Egypt, that wafted over the dead bodies from Memphis, was made by the Greeks to be the Ferry-man of Hell, and solemn stories raised after of him. Lastly, we shall not need to enlarge, if that be true which grounded the generation of Castor and Helen out of an Egg, because they were born and brought up in an upper room, according unto the word ὦον, which with the Lacædemonians had also that signification.
-- Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica
(1646; sixth edition, 1672), chapter six, 'Of adherence unto Antiquity'