ORPHEUS / ARGONAUTICA (III)


(CONTINUED FROM  19/03/11 )

Yea, and Minyan Phrixus was there, even as though he
were really listening to the ram, while it was like to one
that spoke. Ah ! shouldst thou see them, thou wouldst
be silent and deceive thy soul, expecting haply to hear
their voice aloud ; and long mightest thou gaze thereon in
that hope.
Such then were the presents of the Tritonian goddess
Athene. And in his right hand he held a spear, far-darting,
which on a day Atalanta gave to him in Msenalus as a
gift to a stranger, what time she met him graciously ; for
greatly did she long to join him on that voyage ; but yet of
himself and willingly he held her back, for he feared
grievous quarrels for her love.
So he went on his way toward the city like a bright star,
which maidens through their curtains, newly made, do see,
when they awake, rising o’er their home, and through the
dark mist it charms their eyes with its lovely blush ; and
the maiden is cheered in her longing for the youth who is
amongst strange folk, for whom her parents are keeping
her to be his wedded wife ; like to that star the hero
stepped along the path before the city. Now when they
were come within the gates of the city, the maidens of the
people surged behind them, glad to see the stranger ; but
he, with his eyes upon the ground, kept straight on, until
he reached the glorious halls of Hypsipyle ; and at his
appearing maids threw wide the folding-doors, fitted with
planks well wrought. Then did Iphinoe lead him hastily
through a fair hall, and seat him on a shining couch before
her mistress ; but that lady cast down her eyes, and a
.blush stole o’er her maiden cheek ; yet for all her modesty
found she wheedling word to address him withal :

” Strange sir, why sat ye thus so long outside our battlements ? for
our husbands abide not now within the city, but they are
sojourners awhile upon the Thracian mainland, and do
plough the wheat-bearing tilths. And I will tell thee

truly all our trouble, that ye may know it surely for yourselves.
When my father Thoas was king over the burghers,
then did bands of our folk start forth and plunder from
their ships the folds of the Thracians who dwell over
against us, and hither they brought endless booty and
maidens too. But Cypris, deadly goddess, schemed a
scheme, which cast upon them a fatal curse. For lo!
they loathed their wedded wives, and chased them from
their homes, yielding to their folly, and they took for concubines
the captives of their spears, luckless wights ! Long
time did we endure, if haply they might change their mind
again at last ; but ever the evil went on and doubled, for
they dishonoured their true children in their halls, and
there grew up a bastard race. And so maids unwed, and
widowed mothers with them, went wandering in neglect
through the city. Nor did a father care ever so little for
his daughter, though he saw her done to death before his
eyes by the hand of an insolent step-mother ; nor did children
ward off unseemly outrage from their mother as
before, nor had brothers any thought for a sister. But
only captive maidens found favour at home and in the
dance, in the place of assembly, and at festivals, till some
god put overweening boldness in our hearts, that we
would no more receive them in our battlements on their
return from the Thracians, that so they might either be
minded aright, or start and go elsewhither, captive maids
and all. Thereon did they demand all the male children
that were left within the city, and went back again to the
place where still they dwell on the snowy ploughlands of
Thrace. Wherefore tarry ye here and sojourn ; and if,
indeed, thou wilt dwell here, and it find favour with thee,
verily then shalt thou have the honour of my father
Thoas. And methinks thou canst not scorn my land,
for very fruitful is it beyond all other isles that lie in
the JSgean sea. Nay, come now, get thee to thy ship,and tell our words unto thy crew, and abide not outside
the city.”

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still called the sacred rock, whereto they bound the cables
of the ship in their haste. Nor did any man surely know
that it was really the island, nor did the Doliones by night
perceive for certain that it was the heroes again coming to
them ; but they supposed maybe some band of Pelasgian
warriors from the Macrians l was landing. Wherefore they
did on their harness and stretched forth their hands against
them. And they drove their ashen spears and shields
against each other, like a swift rush of fire, which falling
on a dry thicket rears its head; and withal upon the
Dolionian folk fell the din of battle, terrible and furious.
Nor was he, their king, to rise above the doom of battle
and come again home to his bridal chamber and bed. Nay,
him did the son of JEson, with one bound, smite through
the middle of the breast as he turned to face him, and the
bone splintered about his spear, and he grovelling on the
sand wound up his clew of fate. For mortal man may not
escape his fate, but on all sides is spread a mighty snare
around him. Thus upon that night it caught him in its
toils, as he thought, maybe, to avoid the bitter doom dealt
out by the chieftains, what time he fought with them ; and
many other champions were slain. Heracles slew Telecles
and Megabrontes ; and Acastus stript Sphodris of his arms ;
and Peleus laid Zelys low, and Gephyrus, that fleet warrior.
And Telamon of the stout ashen spear killed Basileus.
Idas slew Promeus, and Clytius Hyacinthus ; and the two
sons of Tyndarus slew Megalossaces and Phlogius.
Besides these the son of (Eneus smote bold Itymoneus,
yea, and Artaces, a leader of men ; all these do the inhabitants
still honour with the worship due to heroes.

1 The Macrians or Macrones were colonists from Eubcea, and neighbours
of the Doliones.
2″Pelasgic,” because Eutcea was close to Peloronnesus, the old name
of which was Pelasgia.

 

(TO BE CONTINUED)

By Apollonius

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE FROM THE  TEXT OF R. MEKKEL
EDWARD P. COLERIDGE, B.A.
E COLL. ORIEL, OXON.

 

LONDON :GEORGE BELL AND SONS, YORK STREET,COVENT GARDEN.
1889.

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