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The Argonautica

Page: 11

(ll. 394-401) Now when they had carefully paid heed to everything, first they distributed the benches by lot, two men occupying one seat; but the middle bench they chose for Heracles and Ancaeus apart from the other heroes, Ancaeus who dwelt in Tegea. For them alone they left the middle bench just as it was and not by lot; and with one consent they entrusted Tiphys with guarding the helm of the well-stemmed ship.

(ll. 402-410) Next, piling up shingle near the sea, they raised there an altar on the shore to Apollo, under the name of Actius 1103 and Embasius, and quickly spread above it logs of dried olive-wood. Meantime the herdsmen of Aeson's son had driven before them from the herd two steers. These the younger comrades dragged near the altars, and the others brought lustral water and barley meal, and Jason prayed, calling on Apollo the god of his fathers:

(ll. 411-424) "Hear, O King, that dwellest in Pagasae and the city Aesonis, the city called by my father's name, thou who didst promise me, when I sought thy oracle at Pytho, to show the fulfilment and goal of my journey, for thou thyself hast been the cause of my venture; now do thou thyself guide the ship with my comrades safe and sound, thither and back again to Hellas. Then in thy honour hereafter we will lay again on thy altar the bright offerings of bulls—all of us who return; and other gifts in countless numbers I will bring to Pytho and Ortygia. And now, come, Far-darter, accept this sacrifice at our hands, which first of all we have offered thee for this ship on our embarcation; and grant, O King, that with a prosperous wind I may loose the hawsers, relying on thy counsel, and may the breeze blow softly with which we shall sail over the sea in fair weather."

(ll. 425-439) He spake, and with his prayer cast the barley meal. And they two girded themselves to slay the steers, proud Ancaeus and Heracles. The latter with his club smote one steer mid-head on the brow, and falling in a heap on the spot, it sank to the ground; and Ancaeus struck the broad neck of the other with his axe of bronze, and shore through the mighty sinews; and it fell prone on both its horns. Their comrades quickly severed the victims' throats, and flayed the hides: they sundered the joints and carved the flesh, then cut out the sacred thigh bones, and covering them all together closely with fat burnt them upon cloven wood. And Aeson's son poured out pure libations, and Idmon rejoiced beholding the flame as it gleamed on every side from the sacrifice, and the smoke of it mounting up with good omen in dark spiral columns; and quickly he spake outright the will of Leto's son:

(ll. 440-447) "For you it is the will of heaven and destiny that ye shall return here with the fleece; but meanwhile both going and returning, countless trials await you. But it is my lot, by the hateful decree of a god, to die somewhere afar off on the mainland of Asia. Thus, though I learnt my fate from evil omens even before now, I have left my fatherland to embark on the ship, that so after my embarking fair fame may be left me in my house."


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