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The Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius

Part 2 out of 4

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Chalybes, most wretched of men, possess a soil rugged and
unyielding sons of toil, they busy themselves with working iron.
And near them dwell the Tibareni, rich in sheep, beyond the
Genetaean headland of Zeus, lord of hospitality. And bordering
on it the Mossynoeci next in order inhabit the well-wooded
mainland and the parts beneath the mountains, who have built in
towers made from trees their wooden homes and well-fitted
chambers, which they call Mossynes, and the people themselves
take their name from them. After passing them ye must beach your
ship upon a smooth island, when ye have driven away with all
manner of skill the ravening birds, which in countless numbers
haunt the desert island. In it the Queens of the Amazons, Otrere
and Antiope, built a stone temple of Ares what time they went
forth to war. Now here an unspeakable help will come to you from
the bitter sea; wherefore with kindly intent I bid you stay. But
what need is there that I should sin yet again declaring
everything to the end by my prophetic art? And beyond the island
and opposite mainland dwell the Philyres: and above the Philyres
are the Macrones, and after them the vast tribes of the Becheiri.
And next in order to them dwell the Sapeires, and the Byzeres
have the lands adjoining to them, and beyond them at last live
the warlike Colchians themselves. But speed on in your ship,
till ye touch the inmost bourne of the sea. And here at the
Cytaean mainland and from the Amarantine mountains far away and
the Circaean plain, eddying Phasis rolls his broad stream to the
sea. Guide your ship to the mouth of that river and ye shall
behold the towers of Cytaean Aeetes and the shady grove of Ares,
where a dragon, a monster terrible to behold, ever glares around,
keeping watch over the fleece that is spread upon the top of an
oak; neither by day nor by night does sweet sleep subdue his
restless eyes."

(ll. 408-410) Thus he spake, and straightway fear seized them as
they heard. And for a long while they were struck with silence;
till at last the hero, son of Aeson, spake, sore dismayed at
their evil plight:

(ll. 411-418) "O aged sire, now hast thou come to the end of the
toils of our sea-journeying and hast told us the token, trusting
to which we shall make our way to Pontus through the hateful
rocks; but whether, when we have escaped them, we shall have a
return back again to Hellas, this too would we gladly learn from
thee. What shall I do, how shall I go over again such a long
path through the sea, unskilled as I am, with unskilled comrades?
And Colchian Aea lies at the edge of Pontus and of the world."

(ll. 419-425) Thus he spake, and him the aged sire addressed in
reply: "O son, when once thou hast escaped through the deadly
rocks, fear not; for a deity will be the guide from Aea by
another track; and to Aea there will be guides enough. But, my
friends, take thought of the artful aid of the Cyprian goddess.
For on her depends the glorious issue of your venture. And
further than this ask me not."

(ll. 426-437) Thus spake Agenor's son, and close at hand the
twin sons of Thracian Boreas came darting from the sky and set
their swift feet upon the threshold; and the heroes rose up from
their seats when they saw them present. And Zetes, still drawing
hard breath after his toil, spake among the eager listeners,
telling them how far they had driven the Harpies and how his
prevented their slaying them, and how the goddess of her grace
gave them pledges, and how those others in fear plunged into the
vast cave of the Dictaean cliff. Then in the mansion all their
comrades were joyful at the tidings and so was Phineus himself.
And quickly Aeson's son, with good will exceeding, addressed him:

(ll. 438-442) Assuredly there was then, Phineus, some god who
cared for thy bitter woe, and brought us hither from afar, that
the sons of Boreas might aid thee; and if too he should bring
sight to thine eyes, verily I should rejoice, methinks, as much
as if I were on my homeward way."

(ll. 443-447) Thus he spake, but Phineus replied to him with
downcast look: "Son of Aeson, that is past recall, nor is there
any remedy hereafter, for blasted are my sightless eyes. But
instead of that, may the god grant me death at once, and after
death I shall take my share in perfect bliss."

(ll. 448-467) Then they two returned answering speech, each to
other, and soon in the midst of their converse early dawn
appeared; and round Phineus were gathered the neighbours who used
to come thither aforetime day by day and constantly bring a
portion of their food. To all alike, however poor he was that
came, the aged man gave his oracles with good will, and freed
many from their woes by his prophetic art; wherefore they visited
and tended him. And with them came Paraebius, who was dearest to
him, and gladly did he perceive these strangers in the house.
For long ere now the seer himself had said that a band of
chieftains, faring from Hellas to the city of Aceres, would make
fast their hawsers to the Thynian land, and by Zeus' will would
check tho approach of the Harpies. The rest the old man pleased
with words of wisdom and let them go; Paraebius only he bade
remain there with the chiefs; and straightway he sent him and
bade him bring back the choicest of his sheep. And when he had
left the hall Phineus spake gently amid the throng of oarsmen:

(ll. 468-489) "O my friends, not all men are arrogant, it seems,
nor unmindful of benefits. Even as this man, loyal as he is,
came hither to learn his fate. For when he laboured the most and
toiled the most, then the needs of life, ever growing more and
more, would waste him, and day after day ever dawned more
wretched, nor was there any respite to his toil. But he was
paying the sad penalty of his father's sin. For he when alone on
the mountains, felling trees, once slighted the prayers of a
Hamadryad, who wept and sought to soften him with plaintive
words, not to cut down the stump of an oak tree coeval with
herself, wherein for a long time she had lived continually; but
he in the arrogance of youth recklessly cut it down. So to him
the nymph thereafter made her death a curse, to him and to his
children. I indeed knew of the sin when he came; and I bid him
build an altar to the Thynian nymph, and offer on it an atoning
sacrifice, with prayer to escape his father's fate. Here, ever
since he escaped the god-sent doom, never has he forgotten or
neglected me; but sorely and against his will do I send him from
my doors, so eager is he to remain with me in my affliction."

(ll. 490-499) Thus spake Agenor's son; and his friend
straightway came near leading two sheep from the flock. And up
rose Jason and up rose the sons of Boreas at the bidding of the
aged sire . And quickly they called upon Apollo, lord of
prophecy, and offered sacrifice upon the health as the day was
just sinking. And the younger comrades made ready a feast to
their hearts' desire. Thereupon having well feasted they turned
themselves to rest, some near the ship's hawsers, others in
groups throughout the mansion. And at dawn the Etesian winds
blew strongly, which by the command of Zeus blow over every land

(ll. 500-527) Cyrene, the tale goes, once tended sheep along the
marsh-meadow of Peneus among men of old time; for dear to her
were maidenhood and a couch unstained. But, as she guarded her
flock by the river, Apollo carried her off far from Haemonia and
placed her among the nymphs of the land, who dwelt in Libya near
the Myrtosian height. And here to Phoebus she bore Aristaeus
whom the Haemonians, rich in corn-land, call "Hunter" and
"Shepherd". Her, of his love, the god made a nymph there, of
long life and a huntress, and his son he brought while still an
infant to be nurtured in the cave of Cheiron. And to him when he
grew to manhood the Muses gave a bride, and taught him the arts
of healing and of prophecy; and they made him the keeper of their
sheep, of all that grazed on the Athamantian plain of Phthia and
round steep Othrys and the sacred stream of the river Apidanus.
But when from heaven Sirius scorched the Minoan Isles, and for
long there was no respite for the inhabitants, then by the
injunction of the Far-Darter they summoned Aristaeus to ward off
the pestilence. And by his father's command he left Phthia and
made his home in Ceos, and gathered together the Parrhasian
people who are of the lineage of Lycaon, and he built a great
altar to Zeus Icmaeus, and duly offered sacrifices upon the
mountains to that star Sirius, and to Zeus son of Cronos himself.
And on this account it is that Etesian winds from Zeus cool the
land for forty days, and in Ceos even now the priests offer
sacrifices before the rising of the Dog-star.

(ll. 528-536) So the tale is told, but the chieftains stayed
there by constraint, and every day the Thynians, doing pleasure
to Phineus, sent them gifts beyond measure. And afterwards they
raised an altar to the blessed twelve on the sea-beach opposite
and laid offerings thereon and then entered their swift ship to
row, nor did they forget to bear with them a trembling dove; but
Euphemus seized her and brought her all quivering with fear, and
they loosed the twin hawsers from the land.

(ll. 537-548) Nor did they start unmarked by Athena, but
straightway swiftly she set her feel on a light cloud, which
would waft her on, mighty though she was, and she swept on to the
sea with friendly thoughts to the oarsmen. And as when one
roveth far from his native land, as we men often wander with
enduring heart, nor is any land too distant but all ways are
clear to his view, and he sees in mind his own home, and at once
the way over sea and land seems slain, and swiftly thinking, now
this way, now that, he strains with eager eyes; so swiftly the
daughter of Zeus darted down and set her foot on the cheerless
shore of Thynia.

(ll. 549-567) Now when they reached the narrow strait of the
winding passage, hemmed in on both sides by rugged cliffs, while
an eddying current from below was washing against the ship as she
moved on, they went forward sorely in dread; and now the thud of
the crashing rocks ceaselessly struck their ears, and the
sea-washed shores resounded, and then Euphemus grasped the dove
in his hand and started to mount the prow; and they, at the
bidding of Tiphys, son of Hagnias, rowed with good will to drive
Argo between the rocks, trusting to their strength. And as they
rounded a bend they saw the rocks opening for the last time of
all. Their spirit melted within them; and Euphemus sent forth
the dove to dart forward in flight; and they all together raised
their heads to look; but she flew between them, and the rocks
again rushed together and crashed as they met face to face. And
the foam leapt up in a mass like a cloud; awful was the thunder
of the sea; and all round them the mighty welkin roared.

(ll. 568-592) The hollow caves beneath the rugged cliffs rumbled
as the sea came surging in; and the white foam of the dashing
wave spurted high above the cliff. Next the current whirled the
ship round. And the rocks shore away the end of the dove's tail-
feathers; but away she flew unscathed. And the rowers gave a
loud cry; and Tiphys himself called to them to row with might and
main. For the rocks were again parting asunder. But as they
rowed they trembled, until the tide returning drove them back
within the rocks. Then most awful fear seized upon all; for over
their head was destruction without escape. And now to right and
left broad Pontus was seen, when suddenly a huge wave rose up
before them, arched, like a steep rock; and at the sight they
bowed with bended heads. For it seemed about to leap down upon
the ship's whole length and to overwhelm them. But Tiphys was
quick to ease the ship as she laboured with the oars; and in all
its mass the wave rolled away beneath the keel, and at the stern
it raised Argo herself and drew her far away from the rocks; and
high in air was she borne. But Euphemus strode among all his
comrades and cried to them to bend to their oars with all their
might; and they with a shout smote the water. And as far as the
ship yielded to the rowers, twice as far did she leap back, and
the oar, were bent like curved bows as the heroes used their

(ll. 593-610) Then a vaulted billow rushed upon them, and the
ship like a cylinder ran on the furious wave plunging through the
hollow sea. And the eddying current held her between the
clashing rocks; and on each side they shook and thundered; and
the ship's timbers were held fast. Then Athena with her left
hand thrust back one mighty rock and with her right pushed the
ship through; and she, like a winged arrow, sped through the air.
Nevertheless the rocks, ceaselessly clashing, shore off as she
passed the extreme end of the stern-ornament. But Athena soared
up to Olympus, when they had escaped unscathed. And the rocks in
one spot at that moment were rooted fast for ever to each other,
which thing had been destined by the blessed gods, when a man in
his ship should have passed between them alive. And the heroes
breathed again after their chilling fear, beholding at the same
time the sky and the expanse of sea spreading far and wide. For
they deemed that they were saved from Hades; and Tiphys first of
all began to speak:

(ll. 611-618) "It is my hope that we have safely escaped this
peril--we, and the ship; and none other is the cause so much as
Athena, who breathed into Argo divine strength when Argus knitted
her together with bolts; and she may not be caught. Son of
Aeson, no longer fear thou so much the hest of thy king, since a
god hath granted us escape between the rocks; for Phineus,
Agenor's son, said that our toils hereafter would be lightly

(ll. 619-637) He spake, and at once he sped the ship onward
through the midst of the sea past the Bithynian coast. But Jason
with gentle words addressed him in reply: "Tiphys, why dost thou
comfort thus my grieving heart? I have erred and am distraught
in wretched and helpless ruin. For I ought, when Pelias gave the
command, to have straightway refused this quest to his face, yea,
though I were doomed to die pitilessly, torn limb from limb, but
now I am wrapped in excessive fear and cares unbearable, dreading
to sail through the chilling paths of the sea, and dreading when
we shall set foot on the mainland. For on every side are
unkindly men. And ever when day is done I pass a night of groans
from the time when ye first gathered together for my sake, while
I take thought for all things; but thou talkest at thine ease,
eating only for thine own life; while for myself I am dismayed
not a whit; but I fear for this man and for that equally, and for
thee, and for my other comrades, if I shall not bring you back
safe to the land of Hellas."

(ll. 638-640) Thus he spake, making trial of the chiefs; but
they shouted loud with cheerful words. And his heart was warmed
within him at their cry and again he spake outright among them:

(ll. 641-647) "My friends, in your valour my courage is
quickened. Wherefore now, even though I should take my way
through the gulfs of Hades, no more shall I let fear seize upon
me, since ye are steadfast amid cruel terrors. But now that we
have sailed out from the striking rocks, I trow that never
hereafter will there be another such fearful thing, if indeed we
go on our way following the counsel of Phineus."

(ll. 648-668) Thus he spake, and straightway they ceased from
such words and gave unwearying labour to the oar; and quickly
they passed by the swiftly flowing river Rhebas and the peak of
Colone, and soon thereafter the black headland, and near it the
mouth of the river Phyllis, where aforetime Dipsaeus received in
his home the son of Athamas, when with his ram he was flying from
the city of Orchomenus; and Dipsacus was the son of a meadow-
nymph, nor was insolence his delight, but contented by his
father's stream he dwelt with his mother, pasturing his flocks by
the shore. And quickly they sighted and sailed past his shrine
and the broad banks of the river and the plain, and deep-flowing
Calpe, and all the windless night and the day they bent to their
tireless oars. And even as ploughing oxen toil as they cleave
the moist earth, and sweat streams in abundance from flank and
neck; and from beneath the yoke their eyes roll askance, while
the breath ever rushes from their mouths in hot gasps; and all
day long they toil, planting their hoofs deep in the ground; like
them the heroes kept dragging their oars through the sea.

(ll. 669-685) Now when divine light has not yet come nor is it
utter darkness, but a faint glimmer has spread over the night,
the time when men wake and call it twilight, at that hour they
ran into the harbour of the desert island Thynias and, spent by
weary toil, mounted the shore. And to them the son of Leto, as
he passed from Lycia far away to the countless folk of the
Hyperboreans, appeared; and about his cheeks on both sides his
golden locks flowed in clusters as he moved; in his left hand he
held a silver bow, and on his back was slung a quiver hanging
from his shoulders; and beneath his feet all the island quaked,
and the waves surged high on the beach. Helpless amazement
seized them as they looked; and no one dared to gaze face to face
into the fair eyes of the god. And they stood with heads bowed
to the ground; but he, far off, passed on to the sea through the
air; and at length Orpheus spake as follows, addressing the

(ll. 686-693) "Come, let us call this island the sacred isle of
Apollo of the Dawn since he has appeared to all, passing by at
dawn; and we will offer such sacrifices as we can, building an
altar on the shore; and if hereafter he shall grant us a safe
return to the Haemonian land, then will we lay on his altar the
thighs of horned goats. And now I bid you propitiate him with
the steam of sacrifice and libations. Be gracious, O king, be
gracious in thy appearing."

(ll. 694-713) Thus he spake, and they straightway built up an
altar with shingle; and over the island they wandered, seeking if
haply they could get a glimpse of a fawn or a wild goat, that
often seek their pasture in the deep wood. And for them Leto's
son provided a quarry; and with pious rites they wrapped in fat
the thigh bones of them all and burnt them on the sacred altar,
celebrating Apollo, Lord of Dawn. And round the burning
sacrifice they set up a broad dancing-ring, singing, "All hail
fair god of healing, Phoebus, all hail," and with them Oeagrus'
goodly son began a clear lay on his Bistonian lyre; how once
beneath the rocky ridge of Parnassus he slew with his bow the
monster Delphyne, he, still young and beardless, still rejoicing
in his long tresses. Mayst thou be gracious! Ever, O king, be
thy locks unshorn, ever unravaged; for so is it right. And none
but Leto, daughter of Coeus, strokes them with her dear hands.
And often the Corycian nymphs, daughters of Pleistus, took up the
cheering strain crying "Healer"; hence arose this lovely refrain
of the hymn to Phoebus.

(ll. 714-719) Now when they had celebrated him with dance and
song they took an oath with holy libations, that they would ever
help each other with concord of heart, touching the sacrifice as
they swore; and even now there stands there a temple to gracious
Concord, which the heroes themselves reared, paying honour at
that time to the glorious goddess.

(ll. 720-751) Now when the third morning came, with a fresh west
wind they left the lofty island. Next, on the opposite side they
saw and passed the mouth of the river Sangarius and the fertile
land of the Mariandyni, and the stream of Lycus and the
Anthemoeisian lake; and beneath the breeze the ropes and all the
tackling quivered as they sped onward. During the night the wind
ceased and at dawn they gladly reached the haven of the
Acherusian headland. It rises aloft with steep cliffs, looking
towards the Bithynian sea; and beneath it smooth rocks, ever
washed by the sea, stand rooted firm; and round them the wave
rolls and thunders loud, but above, wide-spreading plane trees
grow on the topmost point. And from it towards the land a hollow
glen slopes gradually away, where there is a cave of Hades
overarched by wood and rocks. From here an icy breath,
unceasingly issuing from the chill recess, ever forms a
glistening rime which melts again beneath the midday sun. And
never does silence hold that grim headland, but there is a
continual murmur from the sounding sea and the leaves that quiver
in the winds from the cave. And here is the outfall of the river
Acheron which bursts its way through the headland and falls into
the Eastern sea, and a hollow ravine brings it down from above.
In after times the Nisaean Megarians named it Soonautes (2) when
they were about to settle in the land of the Mariandyni. For
indeed the river saved them with their ships when they were
caught in a violent tempest. By this way the heroes took the
ship through (3) the Acherusian headland and came to land over
against it as the wind had just ceased.

(ll. 752-773) Not long had they come unmarked by Lycus, the lord
of that land, and the Mariandyni--they, the slayers of Amycus,
according to the report which the people heard before; but for
that very deed they even made a league with the heroes. And
Polydeuces himself they welcomed as a god, flocking from every
side, since for a long time had they been warring against the
arrogant Bebrycians. And so they went up all together into the
city, and all that day with friendly feelings made ready a feast
within the palace of Lycus and gladdened their souls with
converse. Aeson's son told him the lineage and name of each of
his comrades and the behests of Pelias, and how they were
welcomed by the Lemnian women, and all that they did at Dolionian
Cyzieus; and how they reached the Mysian land and Cius, where,
sore against their will, they left behind the hero Heracles, and
he told the saying of Glaucus, and how they slew the Bebrycians
and Amycus, and he told of the prophecies and affliction of
Phineus, and how they escaped the Cyanean rocks, and how they met
with Leto's son at the island. And as he told all, Lycus was
charmed in soul with listening; and he grieved for Heracles left
behind, and spake as follows among them all:

(ll. 774-810) "O friends, what a man he was from whose help ye
have fallen away, as ye cleave your long path to Aeetes; for well
do I know that I saw him here in the halls of Dascylus my father,
when he came hither on foot through the land of Asia bringing the
girdle of warlike Hippolyte; and me he found with the down just
growing on my cheeks. And here, when my brother Priolas was
slain by the Mysians--my brother, whom ever since the people
lament with most piteous dirges--he entered the lists with
Titias in boxing and slew him, mighty Titias, who surpassed all
the youths in beauty and strength; and he dashed his teeth to the
ground. Together with the Mysians he subdued beneath my father's
sway the Phrygians also, who inhabit the lands next to us, and he
made his own the tribes of the Bithynians and their land, as far
as the mouth of Rhebas and the peak of Colone; and besides them
the Paphlagonians of Pelops yielded just as they were, even all
those round whom the dark water of Billaeus breaks. But now the
Bebrycians and the insolence of Amycus have robbed me, since
Heracles dwells far away, for they have long been cutting off
huge pieces of my land until they have set their bounds at the
meadows of deep-flowing Hypius. Nevertheless, by your hands have
they paid the penalty; and it was not without the will of heaven,
I trow, that he brought war on the Bebrycians this day--he, the
son of Tyndareus, when he slew that champion. Wherefore whatever
requital I am now able to pay, gladly will I pay it, for that is
the rule for weaker men when the stronger begin to help them. So
with you all, and in your company, I bid Dascylus my son follow;
and if he goes, you will find all men friendly that ye meet on
your way through the sea even to the mouth of the river
Thermodon. And besides that, to the sons of Tyndareus will I
raise a lofty temple on the Acherusian height, which all sailors
shall mark far across the sea and shall reverence; and hereafter
for them will I set apart outside the city, as for gods, some
fertile fields of the well-tilled plain."

(ll. 811-814) Thus all day long they revelled at the banquet.
But at dawn they hied down to the ship in haste; and with them
went Lycus himself, when he had given them countless gifts to
bear away; and with them he sent forth his son from his home.

(ll. 815-834) And here his destined fate smote Idmon, son of
Abas, skilled in soothsaying; but not at all did his soothsaying
save him, for necessity drew him on to death. For in the mead of
the reedy river there lay, cooling his flanks and huge belly in
the mud, a white-tusked boar, a deadly monster, whom even the
nymphs of the marsh dreaded, and no man knew it; but all alone he
was feeding in the wide fell. But the son of Abas was passing
along the raised banks of the muddy river, and the boar from some
unseen lair leapt out of the reed-bed, and charging gashed his
thigh and severed in twain the sinews and the bone. And with a
sharp cry the hero fell to the ground; and as he was struck his
comrades flocked together with answering cry. And quickly Peleus
with his hunting spear aimed at the murderous boar as he fled
back into the fen; and again he turned and charged; but Idas
wounded him, and with a roar he fell impaled upon the sharp
spear. And the boar they left on the ground just as he had
fallen there; but Idmon, now at the last gasp, his comrades bore
to the ship in sorrow of heart, and he died in his comrades'

(ll. 835-850) And here they stayed from taking thought for their
voyaging and abode in grief for the burial of their dead friend.
And for three whole days they lamented; and on the next they
buried him with full honours, and the people and King Lycus
himself took part in the funeral rites; and, as is the due of the
departed, they slaughtered countless sheep at his tomb. And so a
barrow to this hero was raised in that land, and there stands a
token for men of later days to see, the trunk of a wild olive
tree, such as ships are built of; and it flourishes with its
green leaves a little below the Acherusian headland. And if at
the bidding of the Muses I must tell this tale outright, Phoebus
strictly commanded the Boeotians and Nisaeans to worship him as
guardian of their city, and to build their city round the trunk
of the ancient wild olive; but they, instead of the god-fearing
Aeolid Idmon, at this day honour Agamestor.

(ll. 851-868) Who was the next that died? For then a second
time the heroes heaped up a barrow for a comrade dead. For still
are to be seen two monuments of those heroes. The tale goes that
Tiphys son of Hagnias died; nor was it his destiny thereafter to
sail any further. But him there on the spot a short sickness
laid to rest far from his native land, when the company had paid
due honours to the dead son of Abas. And at the cruel woe they
were seized with unbearable grief. For when with due honours
they had buried him also hard by the seer, they cast themselves
down in helplessness on the sea-shore silently, closely wrapped
up, and took no thought for meat or drink; and their spirit
drooped in grief, for all hope of return was gone. And in their
sorrow they would have stayed from going further had not Hera
kindled exceeding courage in Ancaeus, whom near the waters of
Imbrasus Astypalaea bore to Poseidon; for especially was he
skilled in steering and eagerly did he address Peleus:

(ll. 869-877) "Son of Aeacus, is it well for us to give up our
toils and linger on in a strange land? Not so much for my
prowess in war did Jason take me with him in quest of the fleece,
far from Parthenia, as for my knowledge of ships. Wherefore, I
pray, let there be no fear for the ship. And so there are here
other men of skill, of whom none will harm our voyaging,
whomsoever we set at the helm. But quickly tell forth all this
and boldly urge them to call to mind their task."

(ll. 878-884) Thus he spake; and Peleus' soul was stirred with
gladness, and straightway he spake in the midst of all: "My
friends, why do we thus cherish a bootless grief like this? For
those two have perished by the fate they have met with; but among
our host are steersmen yet, and many a one. Wherefore let us not
delay our attempt, but rouse yourselves to the work and cast away
your griefs."

(ll. 885-893) And him in reply Aeson's son addressed with
helpless words: "Son of Aeacus, where are these steersmen of
thine? For those whom we once deemed to be men of skill, they
even more than I are bowed with vexation of heart. Wherefore I
forebode an evil doom for us even as for the dead, if it shall be
our lot neither to reach the city of fell Aeetes, nor ever again
to pass beyond the rocks to the land of Hellas, but a wretched
fate will enshroud us here ingloriously till we grow old for

(ll. 894-898) Thus he spake, but Ancaeus quickly undertook to
guide the swift ship; for he was stirred by the impulse of the
goddess. And after him Erginus and Nauplius and Euphemus started
up, eager to steer. But the others held them back, and many of
his comrades granted it to Ancaeus.

(ll. 899-910) So on the twelfth day they went aboard at dawn,
for a strong breeze of westerly wind was blowing. And quickly
with the oars they passed out through the river Acheron and,
trusting to the wind, shook out their sails, and with canvas
spread far and wide they were cleaving their passage through the
waves in fair weather. And soon they passed the outfall of the
river Callichorus, where, as the tale goes, the Nysean son of
Zeus, when he had left the tribes of the Indians and came to
dwell at Thebes, held revels and arrayed dances in front of a
cave, wherein he passed unsmiling sacred nights, from which time
the neighbours call the river by the name of Callichorus (4) and
the cave Aulion.(5)

(ll. 911-929) Next they beheld the barrow of Sthenelus, Actor's
son, who on his way back from the valorous war against the
Amazons--for he had been the comrade of Heracles--was struck
by an arrow and died there upon the sea-beach. And for a time
they went no further, for Persephone herself sent forth the
spirit of Actor's son which craved with many tears to behold men
like himself, even for a moment. And mounting on the edge of the
barrow he gazed upon the ship, such as he was when he went to
war; and round his head a fair helm with four peaks gleamed with
its blood-red crest. And again he entered the vast gloom; and
they looked and marvelled; and Mopsus, son of Ampycus, with word
of prophecy urged them to land and propitiate him with libations.
Quickly they drew in sail and threw out hawsers, and on the
strand paid honour to the tomb of Sthenelus, and poured out drink
offerings to him and sacrificed sheep as victims. And besides
the drink offerings they built an altar to Apollo, saviour of
ships, and burnt thigh bones; and Orpheus dedicated his lyre;
whence the place has the name of Lyra.

(ll. 930-945) And straightway they went aboard as the wind blew
strong; and they drew the sail down, and made it taut to both
sheets; then Argo was borne over the sea swiftly, even as a hawk
soaring high through the air commits to the breeze its outspread
wings and is borne on swiftly, nor swerves in its flight, poising
in the clear sky with quiet pinions. And lo, they passed by the
stream of Parthenius as it flows into the sea, a most gentle
river, where the maid, daughter of Leto, when she mounts to
heaven after the chase, cools her limbs in its much-desired
waters. Then they sped onward in the night without ceasing, and
passed Sesamus and lofty Erythini, Crobialus, Cromna and woody
Cytorus. Next they swept round Carambis at the rising of the
sun, and plied the oars past long Aegialus, all day and on
through the night.

(ll. 946-965) And straightway they landed on the Assyrian shore
where Zeus himself gave a home to Sinope, daughter of Asopus, and
granted her virginity, beguiled by his own promises. For he
longed for her love, and he promised to grant her whatever her
hearts desire might be. And she in her craftiness asked of him
virginity. And in like manner she deceived Apollo too who longed
to wed her, and besides them the river Halys, and no man ever
subdued her in love's embrace. And there the sons of noble
Deimachus of Tricca were still dwelling, Deileon, Autolycus and
Phlogius, since the day when they wandered far away from
Heracles; and they, when they marked the array of chieftains,
went to meet them and declared in truth who they were; and they
wished to remain there no longer, but as soon as Argestes (6)
blew went on ship-board. And so with them, borne along by the
swift breeze, the heroes left behind the river Halys, and left
behind his that flows hard by, and the delta-land of Assyria; and
on the same day they rounded the distant headland of the Amazons
that guards their harbour.

(ll. 966-1001) Here once when Melanippe, daughter of Ares, had,
gone forth, the hero Heracles caught her by ambuscade and
Hippolyte gave him her glistening girdle as her sister's ransom,
and he sent away his captive unharmed. In the bay of this
headland, at the outfall of Thermodon, they ran ashore, for the
sea was rough for their voyage. No river is like this, and none
sends forth from itself such mighty streams over the land. If a
man should count every one he would lack but four of a hundred,
but the real spring is only one. This flows down to the plain
from lofty mountains, which, men say, are called the Amazonian
mountains. Thence it spreads inland over a hilly country
straight forward; wherefrom its streams go winding on, and they
roll on, this way and that ever more, wherever best they can
reach the lower ground, one at a distance and another near at
hand; and many streams are swallowed up in the sand and are
without a name; but, mingled with a few, the main stream openly
bursts with its arching crest of foam into the inhospitable
Pontus. And they would have tarried there and have closed in
battle with the Amazons, and would have fought not without
bloodshed for the Amazons were not gentle foes and regarded not
justice, those dwellers on the Doeantian plain; but grievous
insolence and the works of Ares were all their care; for by race
they were the daughters of Ares and the nymph Harmonia, who bare
to Ares war-loving maids, wedded to him in the glens of the
Acmonian wood had not the breezes of Argestes come again from
Zeus; and with the wind they left the rounded beach, where the
Themiscyreian Amazons were arming for war. For they dwelt not
gathered together in one city, but scattered over the land,
parted into three tribes. In one part dwelt the Themiscyreians,
over whom at that time Hippolyte reigned, in another the
Lycastians, and in another the dart-throwing Chadesians. And the
next day they sped on and at nightfall they reached the land of
the Chalybes.

(ll. 1002-1008) That folk have no care for ploughing with oxen
or for any planting of honey-sweet fruit; nor yet do they pasture
flocks in the dewy meadow. But they cleave the hard iron-bearing
land and exchange their wages for daily sustenance; never does
the morn rise for them without toil, but amid bleak sooty flames
and smoke they endure heavy labour.

(ll. 1009-1014) And straightway thereafter they rounded the
headland of Genetaean Zeus and sped safely past the land of the
Tibareni. Here when wives bring forth children to their
husbands, the men lie in bed and groan with their heads close
bound; but the women tend them with food, and prepare child-birth
baths for them.

(ll. 1015-1029) Next they reached the sacred mount and the land
where the Mossynoeci dwell amid high mountains in wooden huts,
(7) from which that people take their name. And strange are
their customs and laws. Whatever it is right to do openly before
the people or in the market place, all this they do in their
homes, but whatever acts we perform at home, these they perform
out of doors in the midst of the streets, without blame. And
among them is no reverence for the marriage-bed, but, like swine
that feed in herds, no whit abashed in others' presence, on the
earth they lie with the women. Their king sits in the loftiest
hut and dispenses upright judgments to the multitude, poor
wretch! For if haply he err at all in his decrees, for that day
they keep him shut up in starvation.

(ll. 1030-1046) They passed them by and cleft their way with
oars over against the island of Ares all day long; for at dusk
the light breeze left them. At last they spied above them,
hurtling through the air, one of the birds of Ares which haunt
that isle. It shook its wings down over the ship as she sped on
and sent against her a keen feather, and it fell on the left
shoulder of goodly Oileus, and he dropped his oar from his hands
at the sudden blow, and his comrades marvelled at the sight of
the winged bolt. And Eribotes from his seat hard by drew out the
feather, and bound up the wound when he had loosed the strap
hanging from his own sword-sheath; and besides the first, another
bird appeared swooping down; but the hero Clytius, son of Eurytus
-- for he bent his curved bow, and sped a swift arrow against the
bird--struck it, and it whirled round and fell close to the
ship. And to them spake Amphidamas, son of Aleus:

(ll. 1047-1067) "The island of Ares is near us; you know it
yourselves now that ye have seen these birds. But little will
arrows avail us, I trow, for landing. But let us contrive some
other device to help us, if ye intend to land, bearing in mind
the injunction of Phineus. For not even could Heracles, when he
came to Arcadia, drive away with bow and arrow the birds that
swam on the Stymphalian lake. I saw it myself. But he shook in
his hand a rattle of bronze and made a loud clatter as he stood
upon a lofty peak, and the birds fled far off, screeching in
bewildered fear. Wherefore now too let us contrive some such
device, and I myself will speak, having pondered the matter
beforehand. Set on your heads your helmets of lofty crest, then
half row by turns, and half fence the ship about with polished
spears and shields. Then all together raise a mighty shout so
that the birds may be scared by the unwonted din, the nodding
crests, and the uplifted spears on high. And if we reach the
island itself, then make mighty noise with the clashing of

(ll. 1068-1089) Thus he spake, and the helpful device pleased
all. And on their heads they placed helmets of bronze, gleaming
terribly, and the blood-red crests were tossing. And half of
them rowed in turn, and the rest covered the ship with spears and
shields. And as when a man roofs over a house with tiles, to be
an ornament of his home and a defence against rain, and one the
fits firmly into another, each after each; so they roofed over
the ship with their shields, locking them together. And as a din
arises from a warrior-host of men sweeping on, when lines of
battle meet, such a shout rose upward from the ship into the air.
Now they saw none of the birds yet, but when they touched the
island and clashed upon their shields, then the birds in
countless numbers rose in flight hither and thither. And as when
the son of Cronos sends from the clouds a dense hailstorm on city
and houses, and the people who dwell beneath hear the din above
the roof and sit quietly, since the stormy season has not come
upon them unawares, but they have first made strong their roofs;
so the birds sent against the heroes a thick shower of feather-
shafts as they darted over the sea to the mountains of the land

(ll. 1090-1092) What then was the purpose of Phineus in bidding
the divine band of heroes land there? Or what kind of help was
about to meet their desire?

(ll. 1093-1122) The sons of Phrixus were faring towards the city
of Orchomenus from Aea, coming from Cytaean Aeetes, on board a
Colchian ship, to win the boundless wealth of their father; for
he, when dying, had enjoined this journey upon them. And lo, on
that day they were very near that island. But Zeus had impelled
the north wind's might to blow, marking by rain the moist path of
Arcturus; and all day long he was stirring the leaves upon the
mountains, breathing gently upon the topmost sprays; but at night
he rushed upon the sea with monstrous force, and with his
shrieking blasts uplifted the surge; and a dark mist covered the
heavens, nor did the bright stars anywhere appear from among the
clouds, but a murky gloom brooded all around. And so the sons of
Phrixus, drenched and trembling in fear of a horrible doom, were
borne along by the waves helplessly. And the force of the wind
had snatched away their sails and shattered in twain the hull,
tossed as it was by the breakers. And hereupon by heaven's
prompting those four clutched a huge beam, one of many that were
scattered about, held together by sharp bolts, when the ship
broke to pieces. And on to the island the waves and the blasts
of wind bore the men in their distress, within a little of death.
And straightway a mighty rain burst forth, and rained upon the
sea and the island, and all the country opposite the island,
where the arrogant Mossynoeci dwelt. And the sweep of the waves
hurled the sons of Phrixus, together with their massy beam, upon
the beach of the island, in the murky night; and the floods of
rain from Zeus ceased at sunrise, and soon the two bands drew
near and met each other, and Argus spoke first:

(ll. 1123-1133) "We beseech you, by Zeus the Beholder, whoever
ye are, to be kindly and to help us in our need. For fierce
tempests, falling on the sea, have shattered all the timbers of
the crazy ship in which we were cleaving our path on business
bent. Wherefore we entreat you, if haply ye will listen, to
grant us just a covering for our bodies, and to pity and succour
men in misfortune, your equals in age. Oh, reverence suppliants
and strangers for Zeus' sake, the god of strangers and
suppliants. To Zeus belong both suppliants and strangers; and
his eye, methinks, beholdeth even us."

(ll. 1134-1139) And in reply the son of Aeson prudently
questioned him, deeming that the prophecies of Phineus were being
fulfilled: "All these things will we straightway grant you with
right good will. But come tell me truly in what country ye dwell
and what business bids you sail across the sea, and tell me your
own glorious names and lineage."

(ll. 1140-1156) And him Argus, helpless in his evil plight,
addressed: "That one Phrixus an Aeolid reached Aea from Hellas
you yourselves have clearly heard ere this, I trow; Phrixus, who
came to the city of Aeetes, bestriding a ram, which Hermes had
made all gold; and the fleece ye may see even now. The ram, at
its own prompting, he then sacrificed to Zeus, son of Cronos,
above all, the god of fugitives. And him did Aeetes receive in
his palace, and with gladness of heart gave him his daughter
Chalciope in marriage without gifts of wooing. (8) From
those two are we sprung. But Phrixus died at last, an aged man,
in the home of Aeetes; and we, giving heed to our father's
behests, are journeying to Orehomenus to take the possessions of
Athamas. And if thou dost desire to learn our names, this is
Cytissorus, this Phrontis, and this Melas, and me ye may. call

(ll. 1157-1159) Thus he spake, and the chieftains rejoiced at
the meeting, and tended them, much marvelling. And Jason again
in turn replied, as was fitting, with these words:

(ll. 1160-1178) "Surely ye are our kinsmen on my father's side,
and ye pray that with kindly hearts we succour your evil plight.
For Cretheus and Athamas were brothers. I am the grandson of
Cretheus, and with these comrades here I am journeying from that
same Hellas to the city of Aeetes. But of these things we will
converse hereafter. And do ye first put clothing upon you. By
heaven's devising, I ween, have ye come to my hands in your sore

(ll. 1168-1178) He spake, and out of the ship gave them raiment
to put on. Then all together they went to the temple of Ares to
offer sacrifice of sheep; and in haste they stood round the
altar, which was outside the roofless temple, an altar built of
pebbles; within a black stone stood fixed, a sacred thing, to
which of yore the Amazons all used to pray. Nor was it lawful
for them, when they came from the opposite coast, to burn on this
altar offerings of sheep and oxen, but they used to slay horses
which they kept in great herds. Now when they had sacrificed and
eaten the feast prepared, then Aeson's son spake among them and
thus began:

(ll. 1179-1195) "Zeus' self, I ween, beholds everything; nor do
we men escape his eye, we that be god-fearing and just, for as he
rescued your father from the hands of a murderous step-dame and
gave him measureless wealth besides; even so hath he saved you
harmless from the baleful storm. And on board this ship ye may
sail hither and thither, where ye will, whether to Aea or to the
wealthy city of divine Orthomenus. For our ship Athena built and
with axe of bronze cut her timbers near the crest of Pelion, and
with the goddess wrought Argus. But yours the fierce surge hath
shattered, before ye came nigh to the rocks which all day long
clash together in the straits of the sea. But come, be
yourselves our helpers, for we are eager to bring to Hellas the
golden fleece, and guide us on our voyage, for I go to atone for
the intended sacrifice of Phrixus, the cause of Zeus' wrath
against the sons of Aeolus."

(ll. 1196-1199) He spake with soothing words; but horror seized
them when they heard. For they deemed that they would not find
Aeetes friendly if they desired to take away the ram's fleece.
And Argus spake as follows, vexed that they should busy
themselves with such a quest:

(ll. 1200-1215) "My friends, our strength, so far as it avails,
shall never cease to help you, not one whit, when need shall
come. But Aeetes is terribly armed with deadly ruthlessness;
wherefore exceedingly do I dread this voyage. And he boasts
himself to be the son of Helios; and all round dwell countless
tribes of Colchians; and he might match himself with Ares in his
dread war-cry and giant strength. Nay, to seize the fleece in
spite of Aeetes is no easy task; so huge a serpent keeps guard
round and about it, deathless and sleepless, which Earth herself
brought forth on the sides of Caucasus, by the rock of Typhaon,
where Typhaon, they say, smitten by the bolt of Zeus, son of
Cronos, when he lifted against the god his sturdy hands, dropped
from his head hot gore; and in such plight he reached the
mountains and plain of Nysa, where to this day he lies whelmed
beneath the waters of the Serbonian lake."

(ll. 1216-1218) Thus he spake, and straightway many a cheek grew
pale when they heard of so mighty an adventure. But quickly
Peleus answered with cheering words, and thus spake:

(ll. 1219-1225) "Be not so fearful in spirit, my good friend.
For we are not so lacking in prowess as to be no match for Aeetes
to try his strength with arms; but I deem that we too are cunning
in war, we that go thither, near akin to the blood of the blessed
gods. Wherefore if he will not grant us the fleece of gold for
friendship's sake, the tribes of the Colchians will not avail
him, I ween."

(ll. 1226-1230) Thus they addressed each other in turn, until
again, satisfied with their feast, they turned to rest. And when
they rose at dawn a gentle breeze was blowing; and they raised
the sails, which strained to the rush of the wind, and quickly
they left behind the island of Ares.

(ll. 1231-1241) And at nightfall they came to the island of
Philyra, where Cronos, son of Uranus, what time in Olympus he
reigned over the Titans, and Zeus was yet being nurtured in a
Cretan cave by the Curetes of Ida, lay beside Philyra, when he
had deceived Rhea; and the goddess found them in the midst of
their dalliance; and Cronos leapt up from the couch with a rush
in the form of a steed with flowing mane, but Ocean's daughter,
Philyra, in shame left the spot and those haunts, and came to the
long Pelasgian ridges, where by her union with the transfigured
deity she brought forth huge Cheiron, half like a horse, half
like a god.

(ll. 1242-1261) Thence they sailed on, past the Macrones and the
far-stretching land of the Becheiri and the overweening Sapeires,
and after them the Byzeres; for ever forward they clave their
way, quickly borne by the gentle breeze. And lo, as they sped
on, a deep gulf of the sea was opened, and lo, the steep crags of
the Caucasian mountains rose up, where, with his limbs bound upon
the hard rocks by galling fetters of bronze, Prometheus fed with
his liver an eagle that ever rushed back to its prey. High above
the ship at even they saw it flying with a loud whirr, near the
clouds; and yet it shook all the sails with the fanning of those
huge wings. For it had not the form of a bird of the air but
kept poising its long wing-feathers like polished oars. And not
long after they heard the bitter cry of Prometheus as his liver
was being torn away; and the air rang with his screams until they
marked the ravening eagle rushing back from the mountain on the
self-same track. And at night, by the skill of Argus, they
reached broad-flowing Phasis, and the utmost bourne of the sea.

(ll. 1262-1276) And straightway they let down the sails and the
yard-arm and stowed them inside the hollow mast-crutch, and at
once they lowered the mast itself till it lay along; and quickly
with oars they entered the mighty stream of the river; and round
the prow the water surged as it gave them way. And on their left
hand they had lofty Caucasus and the Cytaean city of Aea, and on
the other side the plain of Ares and the sacred grove of that
god, where the serpent was keeping watch and ward over the fleece
as it hung on the leafy branches of an oak. And Aeson's son
himself from a golden goblet poured into the river libations of
honey and pure wine to Earth and to the gods of the country, and
to the souls of dead heroes; and he besought them of their grace
to give kindly aid, and to welcome their ship's hawsers with
favourable omen. And straightway Ancaeus spake these words:

(ll. 1277-1280) "We have reached the Colchian land and the
stream of Phasis; and it is time for us to take counsel whether
we shall make trial of Aeetes with soft words, or an attempt of
another kind shall be fitting."

(ll. 1281-1285) Thus he spake, and by the advice of Argus Jason
bade them enter a shaded backwater and let the ship ride at
anchor off shore; and it was near at hand in their course and
there they passed the night. And soon the dawn appeared to their
expectant eyes.

(1) i.e. Polydeuces.
(2) i.e. Saviour of Sailors.
(3) i.e. through the ravine that divides the headland.
(4) i.e. river of fair dances.
(5) i.e. the bedchamber.
(6) The north-west wind.
(7) Called "Mossynes".
(8) i.e. without exacting gifts from the bridegroom. So in the
"Iliad" (ix. 146) Agamemnon offers Achilles any of his three
daughters ANAEONOS.


(ll. 1-5) Come now, Erato, stand by my side, and say next how
Jason brought back the fleece to Iolcus aided by the love of
Medea. For thou sharest the power of Cypris, and by thy
love-cares dost charm unwedded maidens; wherefore to thee too is
attached a name that tells of love.

(ll. 6-10) Thus the heroes, unobserved, were waiting in ambush
amid the thick reed-beds; but Hera and Athena took note of them,
and, apart from Zeus and the other immortals, entered a chamber
and took counsel together; and Hera first made trial of Athena:

(ll. 11-16) "Do thou now first, daughter of Zeus, give advice.
What must be done? Wilt thou devise some scheme whereby they may
seize the golden fleece of Aeetes and bear it to Hellas, or can
they deceive the king with soft words and so work persuasion? Of
a truth he is terribly overweening. Still it is right to shrink
from no endeavour."

(ll. 17-21) Thus she spake, and at once Athena addressed her: "I
too was pondering such thoughts in my heart, Hera, when thou
didst ask me outright. But not yet do I think that I have
conceived a scheme to aid the courage of the heroes, though I
have balanced many plans."

(ll. 22-29) She ended, and the goddesses fixed their eyes on the
ground at their feet, brooding apart; and straightway Hera was
the first to speak her thought: "Come, let us go to Cypris; let
both of us accost her and urge her to bid her son (if only he
will obey) speed his shaft at the daughter of Aeetes, the
enchantress, and charm her with love for Jason. And I deem that
by her device he will bring back the fleece to Hellas."

(ll. 30-31) Thus she spake, and the prudent plan pleased Athena,
and she addressed her in reply with gentle words:

(ll. 32-35) "Hera, my father begat me to be a stranger to the
darts of love, nor do I know any charm to work desire. But if
the word pleases thee, surely I will follow; but thou must speak
when we meet her."

(ll. 36-51) So she said, and starting forth they came to the
mighty palace of Cypris, which her husband, the halt-footed god,
had built for her when first he brought her from Zeus to be his
wife. And entering the court they stood beneath the gallery of
the chamber where the goddess prepared the couch of Hephaestus.
But he had gone early to his forge and anvils to a broad cavern
in a floating island where with the blast of flame he wrought all
manner of curious work; and she all alone was sitting within, on
an inlaid seat facing the door. And her white shoulders on each
side were covered with the mantle of her hair and she was parting
it with a golden comb and about to braid up the long tresses; but
when she saw the goddesses before her, she stayed and called them
within, and rose from her seat and placed them on couches. Then
she herself sat down, and with her hands gathered up the locks
still uncombed. And smiling she addressed them with crafty

(ll. 52-54) "Good friends, what intent, what occasion brings you
here after so long? Why have ye come, not too frequent visitors
before, chief among goddesses that ye are?"

(ll. 55-75) And to her Hera replied: "Thou dost mock us, but our
hearts are stirred with calamity. For already on the river
Phasis the son of Aeson moors his ship, he and his comrades in
quest of the fleece. For all their sakes we fear terribly (for
the task is nigh at hand) but most for Aeson's son. Him will I
deliver, though he sail even to Hades to free Ixion below from
his brazen chains, as far as strength lies in my limbs, so that
Pelias may not mock at having escaped an evil doom--Pelias who
left me unhonoured with sacrifice. Moreover Jason was greatly
loved by me before, ever since at the mouth of Anaurus in flood,
as I was making trial of men's righteousness, he met me on his
return from the chase; and all the mountains and long ridged
peaks were sprinkled with snow, and from them the torrents
rolling down were rushing with a roar. And he took pity on me in
the likeness of an old crone, and raising me on his shoulders
himself bore me through the headlong tide. So he is honoured by
me unceasingly; nor will Pelias pay the penalty of his outrage,
unless thou wilt grant Jason his return."

(ll. 76-82) Thus she spake, and speechlessness seized Cypris.
And beholding Hera supplicating her she felt awe, and then
addressed her with friendly words: "Dread goddess, may no viler
thing than Cypris ever be found, if I disregard thy eager desire
in word or deed, whatever my weak arms can effect; and let there
be no favour in return."

(ll. 83-89) She spake, and Hera again addressed her with
prudence: "It is not in need of might or of strength that we have
come. But just quietly bid thy boy charm Aeetes' daughter with
love for Jason. For if she will aid him with her kindly counsel,
easily do I think he will win the fleece of gold and return to
Iolcus, for she is full of wiles."

(ll. 90-99) Thus she spake, and Cypris addressed them both:
"Hera and Athena, he will obey you rather than me. For unabashed
though he is, there will be some slight shame in his eyes before
you; but he has no respect for me, but ever slights me in
contentious mood. And, overborne by his naughtiness, I purpose
to break his ill-sounding arrows and his bow in his very sight.
For in his anger he has threatened that if I shall not keep my
hands off him while he still masters his temper, I shall have
cause to blame myself thereafter."

(ll. 100-105) So she spake, and the goddesses smiled and looked
at each other. But Cypris again spoke, vexed at heart: "To
others my sorrows are a jest; nor ought I to tell them to all; I
know them too well myself. But now, since this pleases you both,
I will make the attempt and coax him, and he will not say me

(ll. 106-110) Thus she spake, and Hera took her slender hand and
gently smiling, replied: "Perform this task, Cytherea,
straightway, as thou sayest; and be not angry or contend with thy
boy; he will cease hereafter to vex thee."

(ll. 111-128) She spake, and left her seat, and Athena
accompanied her and they went forth both hastening back. And
Cypris went on her way through the glens of Olympus to find her
boy. And she found him apart, in the blooming orchard of Zeus,
not alone, but with him Ganymedes, whom once Zeus had set to
dwell among the immortal gods, being enamoured of his beauty.
And they were playing for golden dice, as boys in one house are
wont to do. And already greedy Eros was holding the palm of his
left hand quite full of them under his breast, standing upright;
and on the bloom of his cheeks a sweet blush was glowing. But
the other sat crouching hard by, silent and downcast, and he had
two dice left which he threw one after the other, and was angered
by the loud laughter of Eros. And lo, losing them straightway
with the former, he went off empty handed, helpless, and noticed
not the approach of Cypris. And she stood before her boy, and
laying her hand on his lips, addressed him:

(ll. 129-144) "Why dost thou smile in triumph, unutterable
rogue? Hast thou cheated him thus, and unjustly overcome the
innocent child? Come, be ready to perform for me the task I will
tell thee of, and I will give thee Zeus' all-beauteous plaything
-- the one which his dear nurse Adrasteia made for him, while he
still lived a child, with childish ways, in the Idaean cave--a
well-rounded ball; no better toy wilt thou get from the hands of
Hephaestus. All of gold are its zones, and round each double
seams run in a circle; but the stitches are hidden, and a dark
blue spiral overlays them all. But if thou shouldst cast it with
thy hands, lo, like a star, it sends a flaming track through the
sky. This I will give thee; and do thou strike with thy shaft
and charm the daughter of Aeetes with love for Jason; and let
there be no loitering. For then my thanks would be the

(ll. 145-150) Thus she spake, and welcome were her words to the
listening boy. And he threw down all his toys, and eagerly
seizing her robe on this side and on that, clung to the goddess.
And he implored her to bestow the gift at once; but she, facing
him with kindly words, touched his cheeks, kissed him and drew
him to her, and replied with a smile:

(ll. 151-153) "Be witness now thy dear head and mine, that
surely I will give thee the gift and deceive thee not, if thou
wilt strike with thy shaft Aeetes' daughter."

(ll. 154-166) She spoke, and he gathered up his dice, and having
well counted them all threw them into his mother's gleaming lap.
And straightway with golden baldric he slung round him his quiver
from where it leant against a tree-trunk, and took up his curved
bow. And he fared forth through the fruitful orchard of the
palace of Zeus. Then he passed through the gates of Olympus high
in air; hence is a downward path from heaven; and the twin poles
rear aloft steep mountain tops the highest crests of earth, where
the risen sun grows ruddy with his first beams. And beneath him
there appeared now the life-giving earth and cities of men and
sacred streams of rivers, and now in turn mountain peaks and the
ocean all around, as he swept through the vast expanse of air.

(ll. 167-193) Now the heroes apart in ambush, in a back-water of
the river, were met in council, sitting on the benches of their
ship. And Aeson's son himself was speaking among them; and they
were listening silently in their places sitting row upon row: "My
friends, what pleases myself that will I say out; it is for you
to bring about its fulfilment. For in common is our task, and
common to all alike is the right of speech; and he who in silence
withholds his thought and his counsel, let him know that it is he
alone that bereaves this band of its home-return. Do ye others
rest here in the ship quietly with your arms; but I will go to
the palace of Aeetes, taking with me the sons of Phrixus and two
comrades as well. And when I meet him I will first make trial
with words to see if he will be willing to give up the golden
fleece for friendship's sake or not, but trusting to his might
will set at nought our quest. For so, learning his frowardness
first from himself, we will consider whether we shall meet him in
battle, or some other plan shall avail us, if we refrain from the
war-cry. And let us not merely by force, before putting words to
the test, deprive him of his own possession. But first it is
better to go to him and win his favour by speech. Oftentimes, I
ween, does speech accomplish at need what prowess could hardly
catty through, smoothing the path in manner befitting. And he
once welcomed noble Phrixus, a fugitive from his stepmother's
wiles and the sacrifice prepared by his father. For all men
everywhere, even the most shameless, reverence the ordinance of
Zeus, god of strangers, and regard it."

(ll. 194-209) Thus he spake, and the youths approved the words
of Aeson's son with one accord, nor was there one to counsel
otherwise. And then he summoned to go with him the sons of
Phrixus, and Telamon and Augeias; and himself took Hermes' wand;
and at once they passed forth from the ship beyond the reeds and
the water to dry land, towards the rising ground of the plain.
The plain, I wis, is called Circe's; and here in line grow many
willows and osiers, on whose topmost branches hang corpses bound
with cords. For even now it is an abomination with the Colchians
to burn dead men with fire; nor is it lawful to place them in the
earth and raise a mound above, but to wrap them in untanned
oxhides and suspend them from trees far from the city. And so
earth has an equal portion with air, seeing that they bury the
women; for that is the custom of their land.

(ll. 210-259) And as they went Hera with friendly thought spread
a thick mist through the city, that they might fare to the palace
of Aeetes unseen by the countless hosts of the Colchians. But
soon when from the plain they came to the city and Aeetes'
palace, then again Hera dispersed the mist. And they stood at
the entrance, marvelling at the king's courts and the wide gates
and columns which rose in ordered lines round the walls; and high
up on the palace a coping of stone rested on brazen triglyphs.
And silently they crossed the threshold. And close by garden
vines covered with green foliage were in full bloom, lifted high
in air. And beneath them ran four fountains, ever-flowing, which
Hephaestus had delved out. One was gushing with milk, one with
wine, while the third flowed with fragrant oil; and the fourth
ran with water, which grew warm at the setting of the Pleiads,
and in turn at their rising bubbled forth from the hollow rock,
cold as crystal. Such then were the wondrous works that the
craftsman-god Hephaestus had fashioned in the palace of Cytaean
Aeetes. And he wrought for him bulls with feet of bronze, and
their mouths were of bronze, and from them they breathed out a
terrible flame of fire; moreover he forged a plough of unbending
adamant, all in one piece, in payment of thanks to Helios, who
had taken the god up in his chariot when faint from the
Phlegraean fight. (1) And here an inner-court was built, and
round it were many well-fitted doors and chambers here and there,
and all along on each side was a richly-wrought gallery. And on
both sides loftier buildings stood obliquely. In one, which was
the loftiest, lordly Aeetes dwelt with his queen; and in another
dwelt Apsyrtus, son of Aeetes, whom a Caucasian nymph,
Asterodeia, bare before he made Eidyia his wedded wife, the
youngest daughter of Tethys and Oceanus. And the sons of the
Colchians called him by the new name of Phaethon, (2) because he
outshone all the youths. The other buildings the handmaidens
had, and the two daughters of Aeetes, Chalciope and Medea. Medea
then [they found] going from chamber to chamber in search of her
sister, for Hera detained her within that day; but beforetime she
was not wont to haunt the palace, but all day long was busied in
Hecate's temple, since she herself was the priestess of the
goddess. And when she saw them she cried aloud, and quickly
Chalciope caught the sound; and her maids, throwing down at their
feet their yarn and their thread, rushed forth all in a throng.
And she, beholding her sons among them, raised her hands aloft
through joy; and so they likewise greeted their mother, and when
they saw her embraced her in their gladness; and she with many
sobs spoke thus:

(ll. 260-267) "After all then, ye were not destined to leave me
in your heedlessness and to wander far; but fate has turned you
back. Poor wretch that I am! What a yearning for Hellas from
some woeful madness seized you at the behest of your father
Phrixus. Bitter sorrows for my heart did he ordain when dying.
And why should ye go to the city of Orchomenus, whoever this
Orchomenus is, for the sake of Athamas' wealth, leaving your
mother alone to bear her grief?"

(ll. 268-274) Such were her words; and Aeetes came forth last of
all and Eidyia herself came, the queen of Aeetes, on hearing the
voice of Chalciope; and straightway all the court was filled with
a throng. Some of the thralls were busied with a mighty bull,
others with the axe were cleaving dry billets, and others heating
with fire water for the baths; nor was there one who relaxed his
toil, serving the king.

(ll. 275-298) Meantime Eros passed unseen through the grey mist,
causing confusion, as when against grazing heifers rises the
gadfly, which oxherds call the breese. And quickly beneath the
lintel in the porch he strung his bow and took from the quiver an
arrow unshot before, messenger of pain. And with swift feet
unmarked he passed the threshold and keenly glanced around; and
gliding close by Aeson's son he laid the arrow-notch on the cord
in the centre, and drawing wide apart with both hands he shot at
Medea; and speechless amazement seized her soul. But the god
himself flashed back again from the high-roofed hall, laughing
loud; and the bolt burnt deep down in the maiden's heart like a
flame; and ever she kept darting bright glances straight up at
Aeson's son, and within her breast her heart panted fast through
anguish, all remembrance left her, and her soul melted with the
sweet pain. And as a poor woman heaps dry twigs round a blazing
brand--a daughter of toil, whose task is the spinning of wool,
that she may kindle a blaze at night beneath her roof, when she
has waked very early--and the flame waxing wondrous great from
the small brand consumes all the twigs together; so, coiling
round her heart, burnt secretly Love the destroyer; and the hue
of her soft cheeks went and came, now pale, now red, in her
soul's distraction.

(ll. 299-303) Now when the thralls had laid a banquet ready
before them, and they had refreshed themselves with warm baths,
gladly did they please their souls with meat and drink. And
thereafter Aeetes questioned the sons of his daughter, addressing
them with these words:

(ll. 304-316) "Sons of my daughter and of Phrixus, whom beyond
all strangers I honoured in my halls, how have ye come returning
back to Aea? Did some calamity cut short your escape in the
midst? Ye did not listen when I set before you the boundless
length of the way. For I marked it once, whirled along in the
chariot of my father Helios, when he was bringing my sister Circe
to the western land and we came to the shore of the Tyrrhenian
mainland, where even now she abides, exceeding far from Colchis.
But what pleasure is there in words? Do ye tell me plainly what
has been your fortune, and who these men are, your companions,
and where from your hollow ship ye came ashore."

(ll. 317-319) Such were his questions, and Argus, before all his
brethren, being fearful for the mission of Aeson's son, gently
replied, for he was the elder-born:

(ll. 320-366) "Aeetes, that ship forthwith stormy blasts tore
asunder, and ourselves, crouching on the beams, a wave drove on
to the beach of the isle of Enyalius (3) in the murky night; and
some god preserved us. For even the birds of Ares that haunted
the desert isle beforetime, not even them did we find. But these
men had driven them off, having landed from their ship on the day
before; and the will of Zeus taking pity on us, or some fate,
detained them there, since they straightway gave us both food and
clothing in abundance, when they heard the illustrious name of
Phrixus and thine own; for to thy city are they faring. And if
thou dost wish to know their errand, I will not hide it from
time. A certain king, vehemently longing to drive this man far
from his fatherland and possessions, because in might he outshone
all the sons of Aeolus, sends him to voyage hither on a bootless
venture; and asserts that the stock of Aeolus will not escape the
heart-grieving wrath and rage of implacable Zeus, nor the
unbearable curse and vengeance due for Phrixus, until the fleece
comes back to Hellas. And their ship was fashioned by Pallas
Athena, not such a one as are the ships among the Colchians, on
the vilest of which we chanced. For the fierce waves and wind
broke her utterly to pieces; but the other holds firm with her
bolts, even though all the blasts should buffet her. And with
equal swiftness she speedeth before the wind and when the crew
ply the oar with unresting hands. And he hath gathered in her
the mightiest heroes of all Achaea, and hath come to thy city
from wandering far through cities and gulfs of the dread ocean,
in the hope that thou wilt grant him the fleece. But as thou
dost please, so shall it be, for he cometh not to use force, but
is eager to pay thee a recompense for the gift. He has heard
from me of thy bitter foes the Sauromatae, and he will subdue
them to thy sway. And if thou desirest to know their names and
lineage I will tell thee all. This man on whose account the rest
were gathered from Hellas, they call Jason, son of Aeson, whom
Cretheus begat. And if in truth he is of the stock of Cretheus
himself, thus he would be our kinsman on the father's side. For
Cretheus and Athamas were both sons of Aeolus; and Phrixus was
the son of Athamas, son of Aeolus. And here, if thou hast heard
at all of the seed of Helios, thou dost behold Augeias; and this
is Telamon sprung from famous Aeacus; and Zeus himself begat
Aeacus. And so all the rest, all the comrades that follow him,
are the sons or grandsons of the immortals."

(ll. 367-371) Such was the tale of Argus; but the king at his
words was filled with rage as he heard; and his heart was lifted
high in wrath. And he spake in heavy displeasure; and was
angered most of all with the son of Chalciope; for he deemed that
on their account the strangers had come; and in his fury his eyes
flashed forth beneath his brows:

(ll. 372-381) "Begone from my sight, felons, straightway, ye and
your tricks, from the land, ere someone see a fleece and a
Phrixus to his sorrow. Banded together with your friends from
Hellas, not for the fleece, but to seize my sceptre and royal
power have ye come hither. Had ye not first tasted of my table,
surely would I have cut out your tongues and hewn off both hands
and sent you forth with your feet alone, so that ye might be
stayed from starting hereafter. And what lies have ye uttered
against the blessed gods!"

(ll. 382-385) Thus he spake in his wrath; and mightily from its
depths swelled the heart of Aeacus' son, and his soul within
longed to speak a deadly word in defiance, but Aeson's son
checked him, for he himself first made gentle answer:

(ll. 386-395) "Aeetes, bear with this armed band, I pray. For
not in the way thou deemest have we come to thy city and palace,
no, nor yet with such desires. For who would of his own will
dare to cross so wide a sea for the goods of a stranger? But
fate and the ruthless command of a presumptuous king urged me.
Grant a favour to thy suppliants, and to all Hellas will I
publish a glorious fame of thee; yea, we are ready now to pay
thee a swift recompense in war, whether it be the Sauromatae or
some other people that thou art eager to subdue to thy sway."

(ll. 396-400) He spake, flattering him with gentle utterance;
but the king's soul brooded a twofold purpose within him, whether
he should attack and slay them on the spot or should make trial
of their might. And this, as he pondered, seemed the better way,
and he addressed Jason in answer:

(ll. 401-421) "Stranger, why needest thou go through thy tale to
the end? For if ye are in truth of heavenly race, or have come
in no wise inferior to me, to win the goods of strangers, I will
give thee the fleece to bear away, if thou dost wish, when I have
tried thee. For against brave men I bear no grudge, such as ye
yourselves tell me of him who bears sway in Hellas. And the
trial of your courage and might shall be a contest which I myself
can compass with my hands, deadly though it be. Two bulls with
feet of bronze I have that pasture on the plain of Ares,
breathing forth flame from their jaws; them do I yoke and drive
over the stubborn field of Ares, four plough-gates; and quickly
cleaving it with the share up to the headland, I cast into the
furrows the seed, not the corn of Demeter, but the teeth of a
dread serpent that grow up into the fashion of armed men; them I
slay at once, cutting them down beneath my spear as they rise
against me on all sides. In the morning do I yoke the oxen, and
at eventide I cease from the harvesting. And thou, if thou wilt
accomplish such deeds as these, on that very day shalt carry off
the fleece to the king's palace; ere that time comes I will not
give it, expect it not. For indeed it is unseemly that a brave
man should yield to a coward."

(ll. 422-426) Thus he spake; and Jason, fixing his eyes on the
ground, sat just as he was, speechless, helpless in his evil
plight. For a long time he turned the matter this way and that,
and could in no way take on him the task with courage, for a
mighty task it seemed; and at last he made reply with crafty

(ll. 427-431) "With thy plea of right, Aeetes, thou dost shut me
in overmuch. Wherefore also I will dare that contest, monstrous
as it is, though it be my doom to die. For nothing will fall upon
men more dread than dire necessity, which indeed constrained me
to come hither at a king's command."

(ll. 432-438) Thus he spake, smitten by his helpless plight; and
the king with grim words addressed him, sore troubled as he was:
"Go forth now to the gathering, since thou art eager for the
toil; but if thou shouldst fear to lift the yoke upon the oxen or
shrink from the deadly harvesting, then all this shall be my
care, so that another too may shudder to come to a man that is
better than he."

(ll. 439-463) He spake outright; and Jason rose from his seat,
and Augeias and Telamon at once; and Argus followed alone, for he
signed to his brothers to stay there on the spot meantime; and so
they went forth from the hall. And wonderfully among them all
shone the son of Aeson for beauty and grace; and the maiden
looked at him with stealthy glance, holding her bright veil
aside, her heart smouldering with pain; and her soul creeping
like a dream flitted in his track as he went. So they passed
forth from the palace sorely troubled. And Chalciope, shielding
herself from the wrath of Aeetes, had gone quickly to her chamber
with her sons. And Medea likewise followed, and much she brooded
in her soul all the cares that the Loves awaken. And before her
eyes the vision still appeared--himself what like he was, with
what vesture he was clad, what things he spake, how he sat on his
seat, how he moved forth to the door--and as she pondered she
deemed there never was such another man; and ever in her ears
rung his voice and the honey-sweet words which he uttered. And
she feared for him, lest the oxen or Aeetes with his own hand
should slay him; and she mourned him as though already slain
outright, and in her affliction a round tear through very
grievous pity coursed down her cheek; and gently weeping she
lifted up her voice aloud:

(ll. 464-470) Why does this grief come upon me, poor wretch?
Whether he be the best of heroes now about to perish, or the
worst, let him go to his doom. Yet I would that he had escaped
unharmed; yea, may this be so, revered goddess, daughter of
Perses, may he avoid death and return home; but if it be his lot
to be o'ermastered by the oxen, may he first learn this, that I
at least do not rejoice in his cruel calamity."

(ll. 471-474) Thus then was the maiden's heart racked by love-
cares. But when the others had gone forth from the people and
the city, along the path by which at the first they had come from
the plain, then Argus addressed Jason with these words:

(ll. 475-483) "Son of Aeson, thou wilt despise the counsel which
I will tell thee, but, though in evil plight, it is not fitting
to forbear from the trial. Ere now thou hast heard me tell of a
maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate, Perses'
daughter. If we could win her aid there will be no dread,
methinks, of thy defeat in the contest; but terribly do I fear
that my mother will not take this task upon her. Nevertheless I
will go back again to entreat her, for a common destruction
overhangs us all."

(ll. 383-491) He spake with goodwill, and Jason answered with
these words: "Good friend, if this is good in thy sight, I say
not nay. Go and move thy mother, beseeching her aid with prudent
words; pitiful indeed is our hope when we have put our return in
the keeping of women." So he spake, and quickly they reached the
back-water. And their comrades joyfully questioned them, when
they saw them close at hand; and to them spoke Aeson's son
grieved at heart:

(ll. 492-501) "My friends, the heart of ruthless Aeetes is
utterly filled with wrath against us, for not at all can the goal
be reached either by me or by you who question me. He said that
two bulls with feet of bronze pasture on the plain of Ares,
breathing forth flame from their jaws. And with these he bade me
plough the field, four plough-gates; and said that he would give
me from a serpent's jaws seed which will raise up earthborn men
in armour of bronze; and on the same day I must slay them. This
task--for there was nothing better to devise--I took on
myself outright."

(ll. 502-514) Thus he spake; and to all the contest seemed one
that none could accomplish, and long, quiet and silent, they
looked at one another, bowed down with the calamity and their
despair; but at last Peleus spake with courageous words among all
the chiefs: "It is time to be counselling what we shall do. Yet
there is not so much profit, I trow, in counsel as in the might
of our hands. If thou then, hero son of Aeson, art minded to
yoke Aeetes' oxen, and art eager for the toil, surely thou wilt
keep thy promise and make thyself ready. But if thy soul trusts
not her prowess utterly, then neither bestir thyself nor sit
still and look round for some one else of these men. For it is
not I who will flinch, since the bitterest pain will be but

(ll. 515-522) So spake the son of Aeacus; and Telamon's soul was
stirred, and quickly he started up in eagerness; and Idas rose up
the third in his pride; and the twin sons of Tyndareus; and with
them Oeneus' son who was numbered among strong men, though even
the soft down on his cheek showed not yet; with such courage was
his soul uplifted. But the others gave way to these in silence.
And straightway Argus spake these words to those that longed for
the contest:

(ll. 523-539) "My friends, this indeed is left us at the last.
But I deem that there will come to you some timely aid from my
mother. Wherefore, eager though ye be, refrain and abide in your
ship a little longer as before, for it is better to forbear than
recklessly to choose an evil fate. There is a maiden, nurtured
in the halls of Aeetes, whom the goddess Hecate taught to handle
magic herbs with exceeding skill all that the land and flowing
waters produce. With them is quenched the blast of unwearied
flame, and at once she stays the course of rivers as they rush
roaring on, and checks the stars and the paths of the sacred
moon. Of her we bethought us as we came hither along the path
from the palace, if haply my mother, her own sister, might
persuade her to aid us in the venture. And if this is pleasing
to you as well, surely on this very day will I return to the
palace of Aeetes to make trial; and perchance with some god's
help shall I make the trial."

(ll. 540-544) Thus he spake, and the gods in their goodwill gave
them a sign. A trembling dove in her flight from a mighty hawk
fell from on high, terrified, into the lap of Aeson's son, and
the hawk fell impaled on the stern-ornament. And quickly Mopsus
with prophetic words spake among them all:

(ll. 545-554) "For you, friends, this sign has been wrought by
the will of heaven; in no other way is it possible to interpret
its meaning better, than to seek out the maiden and entreat her
with manifold skill. And I think she will not reject our prayer,
if in truth Phineus said that our return should be with the help
of the Cyprian goddess. It was her gentle bird that escaped
death; and as my heart within me foresees according to this omen,
so may it prove! But, my friends, let us call on Cytherea to aid
us, and now at once obey the counsels of Argus."

(ll. 555-563) He spake, and the warriors approved, remembering
the injunctions of Phineus; but all alone leapt up Apharcian Idas
and shouted loudly in terrible wrath: "Shame on us, have we come
here fellow voyagers with women, calling on Cypris for help and
not on the mighty strength of Enyalius? And do ye look to doves
and hawks to save yourselves from contests? Away with you, take
thought not for deeds of war, but by supplication to beguile
weakling girls."

(ll. 564-571) Such were his eager words; and of his comrades
many murmured low, but none uttered a word of answer back. And
he sat down in wrath; and at once Jason roused them and uttered
his own thought: "Let Argus set forth from the ship, since this
pleases all; but we will now move from the river and openly
fasten our hawsers to the shore. For surely it is not fitting
for us to hide any longer cowering from the battle-cry."

(ll. 572-575) So he spake, and straightway sent Argus to return
in haste to the city; and they drew the anchors on board at the
command of Aeson's son, and rowed the ship close to the shore, a
little away from the back-water.

(ll. 576-608) But straightway Aeetes held an assembly of the
Colchians far aloof from his palace at a spot where they sat in
times before, to devise against the Minyae grim treachery and
troubles. And he threatened that when first the oxen should have
torn in pieces the man who had taken upon him to perform the
heavy task, he would hew down the oak grove above the wooded
hill, and burn the ship and her crew, that so they might vent
forth in ruin their grievous insolence, for all their haughty
schemes. For never would he have welcomed the Aeolid Phrixus as
a guest in his halls, in spite of his sore need, Phrixus, who
surpassed all strangers in gentleness and fear of the gods, had
not Zeus himself sent Hermes his messenger down from heaven, so
that he might meet with a friendly host; much less would pirates
coming to his land be let go scatheless for long, men whose care
it was to lift their hands and seize the goods of others, and to
weave secret webs of guile, and harry the steadings of herdsmen
with ill-sounding forays. And he said that besides all that the
sons of Phrixus should pay a fitting penalty to himself for
returning in consort with evildoers, that they might recklessly
drive him from his honour and his throne; for once he had heard a
baleful prophecy from his father Helios, that he must avoid the
secret treachery and schemes of his own offspring and their
crafty mischief. Wherefore he was sending them, as they desired,
to the Achaean land at the bidding of their father--a long
journey. Nor had he ever so slight a fear of his daughters, that
they would form some hateful scheme, nor of his son Apsyrtus; but
this curse was being fulfilled in the children of Chalciope. And
he proclaimed terrible things in his rage against the strangers,
and loudly threatened to keep watch over the ship and its crew,
so that no one might escape calamity.

(ll. 609-615) Meantime Argus, going to Aeetes' palace, with
manifold pleading besought his mother to pray Medea's aid; and
Chalciope herself already had the same thoughts, but fear checked
her soul lest haply either fate should withstand and she should
entreat her in vain, all distraught as she would be at her
father's deadly wrath, or, if Medea yielded to her prayers, her
deeds should be laid bare and open to view.

(ll. 616-635) Now a deep slumber had relieved the maiden from
her love-pains as she lay upon her couch. But straightway
fearful dreams, deceitful, such as trouble one in grief, assailed
her. And she thought that the stranger had taken on him the
contest, not because he longed to win the ram's fleece, and that
he had not come on that account to Aeetes' city, but to lead her
away, his wedded wife, to his own home; and she dreamed that
herself contended with the oxen and wrought the task with
exceeding ease; and that her own parents set at naught their
promise, for it was not the maiden they had challenged to yoke
the oxen but the stranger himself; from that arose a contention
of doubtful issue between her father and the strangers; and both
laid the decision upon her, to be as she should direct in her
mind. But she suddenly, neglecting her parents, chose the
stranger. And measureless anguish seized them and they shouted
out in their wrath; and with the cry sleep released its hold upon
her. Quivering with fear she started up, and stared round the
walls of her chamber, and with difficulty did she gather her
spirit within her as before, and lifted her voice aloud:

(ll. 636-644) "Poor wretch, how have gloomy dreams affrighted
me! I fear that this voyage of the heroes will bring some great
evil. My heart is trembling for the stranger. Let him woo some
Achaean girl far away among his own folk; let maidenhood be mine
and the home of my parents. Yet, taking to myself a reckless
heart, I will no more keep aloof but will make trial of my sister
to see if she will entreat me to aid in the contest, through
grief for her own sons; this would quench the bitter pain in my

(ll. 645-673) She spake, and rising from her bed opened the door
of her chamber, bare-footed, clad in one robe; and verily she
desired to go to her sister, and crossed the threshold. And for
long she stayed there at the entrance of her chamber, held back
by shame; and she turned back once more; and again she came forth
from within, and again stole back; and idly did her feet bear her
this way and that; yea, as oft as she went straight on, shame
held her within the chamber, and though held back by shame, bold
desire kept urging her on. Thrice she made the attempt and
thrice she checked herself, the fourth time she fell on her bed
face downward, writhing in pain. And as when a bride in her
chamber bewails her youthful husband, to whom her brothers and
parents have given her, nor yet does she hold converse with all
her attendants for shame and for thinking of him; but she sits
apart in her grief; and some doom has destroyed him, before they
have had pleasure of each other's charms; and she with heart on
fire silently weeps, beholding her widowed couch, in fear lest
the women should mock and revile her; like to her did Medea
lament. And suddenly as she was in the midst of her tears, one
of the handmaids came forth and noticed her, one who was her
youthful attendant; and straightway she told Chalciope, who sat
in the midst of her sons devising how to win over her sister.
And when Chalciope heard the strange tale from the handmaid, not
even so did she disregard it. And she rushed in dismay from her
chamber right on to the chamber where the maiden lay in her
anguish, having torn her cheeks on each side; and when Chalciope
saw her eyes all dimmed with tears, she thus addressed her:

(ll. 674-680) "Ah me, Medea, why dost thou weep so? What hath
befallen thee? What terrible grief has entered thy heart? Has
some heaven-sent disease enwrapt thy frame, or hast thou heard
from our father some deadly threat concerning me and my sons?
Would that I did not behold this home of my parents, or the city,
but dwelt at the ends of the earth, where not even the name of
Colchians is known!"

(ll. 681-687) Thus she spake, and her sister's cheeks flushed;
and though she was eager to reply, long did maiden shame restrain
her. At one moment the word rose on the end of her tongue, at
another it fluttered back deep within her breast. And often
through her lovely lips it strove for utterance; but no sound
came forth; till at last she spoke with guileful words; for the
bold Loves were pressing her hard:

(ll. 688-692) "Chalciope, my heart is all trembling for thy
sons, lest my father forthwith destroy them together with the
strangers. Slumbering just now in a short-lived sleep such a
ghastly dream did I see--may some god forbid its fulfilment and
never mayst thou win for thyself bitter care on thy sons'

(ll. 693-704) She spake, making trial of her sister to see if
she first would entreat help for her sons. And utterly
unbearable grief surged over Chalciope's soul for fear at what
she heard; and then she replied: "Yea, I myself too have come to
thee in eager furtherance of this purpose, if thou wouldst haply
devise with me and prepare some help. But swear by Earth and
Heaven that thou wilt keep secret in thy heart what I shall tell
thee, and be fellow-worker with me. I implore thee by the
blessed gods, by thyself and by thy parents, not to see them
destroyed by an evil doom piteously; or else may I die with my
dear sons and come back hereafter from Hades an avenging Fury to
haunt thee."

(ll. 705-710) Thus she spake, and straightway a torrent of tears
gushed forth and low down she clasped her sister's knees with
both hands and let her head sink on to her breast. Then they
both made piteous lamentation over each other, and through the
halls rose the faint sound of women weeping in anguish. Medea,
sore troubled, first addressed her sister:

(ll. 711-717) "God help thee, what healing can I bring thee for
what thou speakest of, horrible curses and Furies? Would that it
were firmly in my power to save thy sons! Be witness that mighty
oath of the Colchians by which thou urgest me to swear, the great
Heaven, and Earth beneath, mother of the gods, that as far as
strength lies in me, never shalt thou fail of help, if only thy
prayers can be accomplished."

(ll. 718-723) She spake, and Chalciope thus replied: "Couldst
thou not then, for the stranger--who himself craves thy aid --
devise some trick or some wise thought to win the contest, for
the sake of my sons? And from him has come Argus urging me to
try to win thy help; I left him in the palace meantime while I
came hither."

(ll. 724-739) Thus she spake, and Medea's heart bounded with joy
within her, and at once her fair cheeks flushed, and a mist swam
before her melting eyes, and she spake as follows: "Chalciope, as
is dear and delightful to thee and thy sons, even so will I do.
Never may the dawn appear again to my eyes, never mayst thou see
me living any longer, if I should take thought for anything
before thy life or thy sons' lives, for they are my brothers, my
dear kinsmen and youthful companions. So do I declare myself to
be thy sister, and thy daughter too, for thou didst lift me to
thy breast when an infant equally with them, as I ever heard from
my mother in past days. But go, bury my kindness in silence, so
that I may carry out my promise unknown to my parents; and at
dawn I will bring to Hecate's temple charms to cast a spell upon
the bulls."

(ll. 740-743) Thus Chalciope went back from the chamber, and
made known to her sons the help given by her sister. And again
did shame and hateful fear seize Medea thus left alone, that she
should devise such deeds for a man in her father's despite.

(ll. 744-771) Then did night draw darkness over the earth; and
on the sea sailors from their ships looked towards the Bear and
the stars of Orion; and now the wayfarer and the warder longed
for sleep, and the pall of slumber wrapped round the mother whose
children were dead; nor was there any more the barking of dogs
through the city, nor sound of men's voices; but silence held the
blackening gloom. But not indeed upon Medea came sweet sleep.
For in her love for Aeson's son many cares kept her wakeful, and
she dreaded the mighty strength of the bulls, beneath whose fury
he was like to perish by an unseemly fate in the field of Ares.
And fast did her heart throb within her breast, as a sunbeam
quivers upon the walls of a house when flung up from water, which
is just poured forth in a caldron or a pail may be; and hither
and thither on the swift eddy does it dart and dance along; even
so the maiden's heart quivered in her breast. And the tear of
pity flowed from her eyes, and ever within anguish tortured her,
a smouldering fire through her frame, and about her fine nerves
and deep down beneath the nape of the neck where the pain enters
keenest, whenever the unwearied Loves direct against the heart
their shafts of agony. And she thought now that she would give
him the charms to cast a spell on the bulls, now that she would
not, and that she herself would perish; and again that she would
not perish and would not give the charms, but just as she was
would endure her fate in silence. Then sitting down she wavered
in mind and said:

(ll. 772-801) "Poor wretch, must I toss hither and thither in
woe? On every side my heart is in despair; nor is there any help
for my pain; but it burneth ever thus. Would that I had been
slain by the swift shafts of Artemis before I had set eyes on
him, before Chalciope's sons reached the Achaean land. Some god
or some Fury brought them hither for our grief, a cause of many
tears. Let him perish in the contest if it be his lot to die in
the field. For how could I prepare the charms without my
parents' knowledge? What story call I tell them? What trick,
what cunning device for aid can I find? If I see him alone,
apart from his comrades, shall I greet him? Ill-starred that I
am! I cannot hope that I should rest from my sorrows even though
he perished; then will evil come to me when he is bereft of life.
Perish all shame, perish all glow; may he, saved by my effort, go
scatheless wherever his heart desires. But as for me, on the day
when he bides the contest in triumph, may I die either straining
my neck in the noose from the roof-tree or tasting drugs
destructive of life. But even so, when I am dead, they will
fling out taunts against me; and every city far away will ring
with my doom, and the Colchian women, tossing my name on their
lips hither and thither, will revile me with unseemly mocking --
the maid who cared so much for a stranger that she died, the maid
who disgraced her home and her parents, yielding to a mad
passion. And what disgrace will not be mine? Alas for my
infatuation! Far better would it be for me to forsake life this
very night in my chamber by some mysterious fate, escaping all
slanderous reproach, before I complete such nameless dishonour."

(ll. 802-824) She spake, and brought a casket wherein lay many
drugs, some for healing, others for killing, and placing it upon
her knees she wept. And she drenched her bosom with ceaseless
tears, which flowed in torrents as she sat, bitterly bewailing
her own fate. And she longed to choose a murderous drug to taste
it, and now she was loosening the bands of the casket eager to
take it forth, unhappy maid! But suddenly a deadly fear of
hateful Hades came upon her heart. And long she held back in
speechless horror, and all around her thronged visions of the
pleasing cares of life. She thought of all the delightful things
that are among the living, she thought of her joyous playmates,
as a maiden will; and the sun grew sweeter than ever to behold,
seeing that in truth her soul yearned for all. And she put the
casket again from off her knees, all changed by the prompting of
Hera, and no more did she waver in purpose; but longed for the
rising dawn to appear quickly, that she might give him the charms
to work the spell as she had promised, and meet him face to face.
And often did she loosen the bolts of her door, to watch for the
faint gleam: and welcome to her did the dayspring shed its light,
and folk began to stir throughout the city.

(ll. 825-827) Then Argus bade his brothers remain there to learn
the maiden's mind and plans, but himself turned back and went to
the ship.

(ll. 828-890) Now soon as ever the maiden saw the light of dawn,
with her hands she gathered up her golden tresses which were
floating round her shoulders in careless disarray, and bathed her
tear-stained cheeks, and made her skin shine with ointment sweet
as nectar; and she donned a beautiful robe, fitted with well-bent
clasps, and above on her head, divinely fair, she threw a veil
gleaming like silver. And there, moving to and fro in the
palace, she trod the ground forgetful of the heaven-sent woes
thronging round her and of others that were destined to follow.
And she called to her maids. Twelve they were, who lay during
the night in the vestibule of her fragrant chamber, young as
herself, not yet sharing the bridal couch, and she bade them
hastily yoke the mules to the chariot to bear her to the
beauteous shrine of Hecate. Thereupon the handmaids were making
ready the chariot; and Medea meanwhile took from the hollow
casket a charm which men say is called the charm of Prometheus.
If a man should anoint his body therewithal, having first
appeased the Maiden, the only-begotten, with sacrifice by night,
surely that man could not be wounded by the stroke of bronze nor
would he flinch from blazing fire; but for that day he would
prove superior both in prowess and in might. It shot up first-
born when the ravening eagle on the rugged flanks of Caucasus let
drip to the earth the blood-like ichor of tortured Prometheus.
And its flower appeared a cubit above ground in colour like the
Corycian crocus, rising on twin stalks; but in the earth the root
was like newly-cut flesh. The dark juice of it, like the sap of
a mountain-oak, she had gathered in a Caspian shell to make the
charm withal, when she had first bathed in seven ever-flowing
streams, and had called seven times on Brimo, nurse of youth,
night-wandering Brimo, of the underworld, queen among the dead,
-- in the gloom of night, clad in dusky garments. And beneath,
the dark earth shook and bellowed when the Titanian root was cut;
and the son of Iapetus himself groaned, his soul distraught with
pain. And she brought the charm forth and placed it in the
fragrant band which engirdled her, just beneath her bosom,
divinely fair. And going forth she mounted the swift chariot,
and with her went two handmaidens on each side. And she herself
took the reins and in her right hand the well-fashioned whip, and
drove through the city; and the rest, the handmaids, laid their
hands on the chariot behind and ran along the broad highway; and
they kilted up their light robes above their white knees. And
even as by the mild waters of Parthenius, or after bathing in the
river Amnisus, Leto's daughter stands upon her golden chariot and
courses over the hills with her swift-footed roes, to greet from
afar some richly-steaming hecatomb; and with her come the nymphs
in attendance, gathering, some at the spring of Amnisus itself,
others by the glens and many-fountained peaks; and round her
whine and fawn the beasts cowering as she moves along: thus they
sped through the city; and on both sides the people gave way,
shunning the eyes of the royal maiden. But when she had left the
city's well paved streets, and was approaching the shrine as she
drove over the plains, then she alighted eagerly from the smooth-
running chariot and spake as follows among her maidens:

(ll. 891-911) "Friends, verily have I sinned greatly and took no
heed not to go among the stranger-folk 1 who roam over our land.
The whole city is smitten with dismay; wherefore no one of the
women who formerly gathered here day by day has now come hither.
But since we have come and no one else draws near, come, let us
satisfy our souls without stint with soothing song, and when we
have plucked the fair flowers amid the tender grass, that very
hour will we return. And with many a gift shall ye reach home
this very day, if ye will gladden me with this desire of mine.
For Argus pleads with me, also Chalciope herself; but this that
ye hear from me keep silently in your hearts, lest the tale reach
my father's ears. As for yon stranger who took on him the task
with the oxen, they bid me receive his gifts and rescue him from
the deadly contest. And I approved their counsel, and I have
summoned him to come to my presence apart from his comrades, so
that we may divide the gifts among ourselves if he bring them in
his hands, and in return may give him a baleful charm. But when
he comes, do ye stand aloof."

(ll. 912-918) So she spake, and the crafty counsel pleased them
all. And straightway Argus drew Aeson's son apart from his
comrades as soon as he heard from his brothers that Medea had
gone at daybreak to the holy shrine of Hecate, and led him over
the plain; and with them went Mopsus, son of Ampycus, skilled to
utter oracles from the appearance of birds, and skilled to give
good counsel to those who set out on a journey.

(ll. 919-926) Never yet had there been such a man in the days of
old, neither of all the heroes of the lineage of Zeus himself,
nor of those who sprung from the blood of the other gods, as on
that day the bride of Zeus made Jason, both to look upon and to
hold converse with. Even his comrades wondered as they gazed
upon him, radiant with manifold graces; and the son of Ampycus
rejoiced in their journey, already foreboding how all would end.

(ll. 927-931) Now by the path along the plain there stands near
the shrine a poplar with its crown of countless leaves, whereon
often chattering crows would roost. One of them meantime as she
clapped her wings aloft in the branches uttered the counsels of

(ll. 932-937) "What a pitiful seer is this, that has not the wit
to conceive even what children know, how that no maiden will say
a word of sweetness or love to a youth when strangers be near.
Begone, sorry prophet, witless one; on thee neither Cypris nor
the gentle Loves breathe in their kindness."

(ll. 938-946) She spake chiding, and Mopsus smiled to hear the
god-sent voice of the bird, and thus addressed them: "Do thou,
son of Aeson, pass on to the temple, where thou wilt find the
maiden; and very kind will her greeting be to thee through the
prompting of Cypris, who will be thy helpmate in the contest,
even as Phineus, Agenor's son, foretold. But we two, Argus and
I, will await thy return, apart in this very spot; do thou all
alone be a suppliant and win her over with prudent words."

(ll. 947-974) He spake wisely, and both at once gave approval.
Nor was Medea's heart turned to other thoughts, for all her
singing, and never a song that she essayed pleased her long in
her sport. But in confusion she ever faltered, nor did she keep
her eyes resting quietly upon the throng of her handmaids; but to
the paths far off she strained her gaze, turning her face aside.
Oft did her heart sink fainting within her bosom whenever she
fancied she heard passing by the sound of a footfall or of the
wind. But soon he appeared to her longing eyes, striding along
loftily, like Sirius coming from ocean, which rises fair and
clear to see, but brings unspeakable mischief to flocks; thus
then did Aeson's son come to her, fair to see, but the sight of
him brought love-sick care. Her heart fell from out her bosom,
and a dark mist came over her eyes, and a hot blush covered her
cheeks. And she had no strength to lift her knees backwards or
forwards, but her feet beneath were rooted to the ground; and
meantime all her handmaidens had drawn aside. So they two stood
face to face without a word, without a sound, like oaks or lofty
pines, which stand quietly side by side on the mountains when the
wind is still; then again, when stirred by the breath of the
wind, they murmur ceaselessly; so they two were destined to tell
out all their tale, stirred by the breath of Love. And Aeson's
son saw that she had fallen into some heaven-sent calamity, and
with soothing words thus addressed her:

(ll. 975-1007) "Why, pray, maiden, dost thou fear me so much,
all alone as I am? Never was I one of these idle boasters such
as other men are--not even aforetime, when I dwelt in my own
country. Wherefore, maiden, be not too much abashed before me,
either to enquire whatever thou wilt or to speak thy mind. But
since we have met one another with friendly hearts, in a hallowed
spot, where it is wrong to sin, speak openly and ask questions,
and beguile me not with pleasing words, for at the first thou
didst promise thy sister to give me the charms my heart desires.
I implore thee by Hecate herself, by thy parents, and by Zeus who
holds his guardian hand over strangers and suppliants; I come
here to thee both a suppliant and a stranger, bending the knee in
my sore need. For without thee and thy sister never shall I
prevail in the grievous contest. And to thee will I render
thanks hereafter for thy aid, as is right and fitting for men who
dwell far oft, making glorious thy name and fame; and the rest of
the heroes, returning to Hellas, will spread thy renown and so
will the heroes' wives and mothers, who now perhaps are sitting
on the shore and making moan for us; their painful affliction
thou mightest scatter to the winds. In days past the maiden
Ariadne, daughter of Minos, with kindly intent rescued Theseus
from grim contests--the maiden whom Pasiphae daughter of Helios
bare. But she, when Minos had lulled his wrath to rest, went
aboard the ship with him and left her fatherland; and her even
the immortal gods loved, and, as a sign in mid-sky, a crown of
stars, which men call Ariadne's crown, rolls along all night
among the heavenly constellations. So to thee too shall be
thanks from the gods, if thou wilt save so mighty an array of
chieftains. For surely from thy lovely form thou art like to
excel in gentle courtest."

(ll. 1008-1025) Thus he spake, honouring her; and she cast her
eyes down with a smile divinely sweet; and her soul melted within
her, uplifted by his praise, and she gazed upon him face to face;
nor did she know what word to utter first, but was eager to pour
out everything at once. And forth from her fragrant girdle
ungrudgingly she brought out the charm; and he at once received
it in his hands with joy. And she would even have drawn out all
her soul from her breast and given it to him, exulting in his
desire; so wonderfully did love flash forth a sweet flame from
the golden head of Aeson's son; and he captivated her gleaming
eyes; and her heart within grew warm, melting away as the dew
melts away round roses when warmed by the morning's light. And
now both were fixing their eyes on the ground abashed, and again
were throwing glances at each other, smiling with the light of
love beneath their radiant brows. And at last and scarcely then
did the maiden greet him:

(ll. 1026-1062) "Take heed now, that I may devise help for thee.
When at thy coming my father has given thee the deadly teeth from
the dragon's jaws for sowing, then watch for the time when the
night is parted in twain, then bathe in the stream of the
tireless river, and alone, apart from others, clad in dusky
raiment, dig a rounded pit; and therein slay a ewe, and sacrifice
it whole, heaping high the pyre on the very edge of the pit. And
propitiate only-begotten Hecate, daughter of Perses, pouring from
a goblet the hive-stored labour of bees. And then, when thou
hast heedfully sought the grace of the goddess, retreat from the
pyre; and let neither the sound of feet drive thee to turn back,
nor the baying of hounds, lest haply thou shouldst maim all the
rites and thyself fail to return duly to thy comrades. And at
dawn steep this charm in water, strip, and anoint thy body
therewith as with oil; and in it there will be boundless prowess
and mighty strength, and thou wilt deem thyself a match not for
men but for the immortal gods. And besides, let thy spear and
shield and sword be sprinkled. Thereupon the spear-heads of the
earthborn men shall not pierce thee, nor the flame of the deadly
bulls as it rushes forth resistless. But such thou shalt be not
for long, but for that one day; still never flinch from the
contest. And I will tell thee besides of yet another help. As
soon as thou hast yoked the strong oxen, and with thy might and
thy prowess hast ploughed all the stubborn fallow, and now along
the furrows the Giants are springing up, when the serpent's teeth
are sown on the dusky clods, if thou markest them uprising in
throngs from the fallow, cast unseen among them a massy stone;
and they over it, like ravening hounds over their food, will slay
one another; and do thou thyself hasten to rush to the battle-
strife, and the fleece thereupon thou shalt bear far away from
Aea; nevertheless, depart wherever thou wilt, or thy pleasure
takes thee, when thou hast gone hence."

(ll. 1063-1068) Thus she spake, and cast her eyes to her feet in
silence, and her cheek, divinely fair, was wet with warm tears as
she sorrowed for that he was about to wander far from her side
over the wide sea: and once again she addressed him face to face
with mournful words, and took his right hand; for now shame had
left her eyes:

(ll. 1069-1076) "Remember, if haply thou returnest to thy home,
Medea's name; and so will I remember thine, though thou be far
away. And of thy kindness tell me this, where is thy home,
whither wilt thou sail hence in thy ship over the sea; wilt thou
come near wealthy Orchomenus, or near the Aeaean isle? And tell
me of the maiden, whosoever she be that thou hast named, the
far-renowned daughter of Pasiphae, who is kinswoman to my

(ll. 1077-1078) Thus she spake; and over him too, at the tears
of the maiden, stole Love the destroyer, and he thus answered

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