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The Argonautica

Page: 15

(ll. 609-639) Here the whole of the men of the people together had been ruthlessly slain through the transgressions of the women in the year gone by. For the men had rejected their lawful wives, loathing them, and had conceived a fierce passion for captive maids whom they themselves brought across the sea from their forays in Thrace; for the terrible wrath of Cypris came upon them, because for a long time they had grudged her the honours due. O hapless women, and insatiate in jealousy to their own ruin! Not their husbands alone with the captives did they slay on account of the marriage-bed, but all the males at the same time, that they might thereafter pay no retribution for the grim murder. And of all the women, Hypsipyle alone spared her aged father Thoas, who was king over the people; and she sent him in a hollow chest, to drift over the sea, if haply he should escape. And fishermen dragged him to shore at the island of Oenoe, formerly Oenoe, but afterwards called Sicinus from Sicinus, whom the water-nymph Oenoe bore to Thoas. Now for all the women to tend kine, to don armour of bronze, and to cleave with the plough-share the wheat-bearing fields, was easier than the works of Athena, with which they were busied aforetime. Yet for all that did they often gaze over the broad sea, in grievous fear against the Thracians' coming. So when they saw Argo being rowed near the island, straightway crowding in multitude from the gates of Myrine and clad in their harness of war, they poured forth to the beach like ravening Thyiades: for they deemed that the Thracians were come; and with them Hypsipyle, daughter of Thoas, donned her father's harness. And they streamed down speechless with dismay; such fear was wafted about them.

(ll. 640-652) Meantime from the ship the chiefs had sent Aethalides the swift herald, to whose care they entrusted their messages and the wand of Hermes, his sire, who had granted him a memory of all things, that never grew dim; and not even now, though he has entered the unspeakable whirlpools of Acheron, has forgetfulness swept over his soul, but its fixed doom is to be ever changing its abode; at one time to be numbered among the dwellers beneath the earth, at another to be in the light of the sun among living men. But why need I tell at length tales of Aethalides? He at that time persuaded Hypsipyle to receive the new-comers as the day was waning into darkness; nor yet at dawn did they loose the ship's hawsers to the breath of the north wind.

(ll. 653-656) Now the Lemnian women fared through the city and sat down to the assembly, for Hypsipyle herself had so bidden. And when they were all gathered together in one great throng straightway she spake among them with stirring words:

(ll. 657-666) "O friends, come let us grant these men gifts to their hearts' desire, such as it is fitting that they should take on ship-board, food and sweet wine, in order that they may steadfastly remain outside our towers, and may not, passing among us for need's sake, get to know us all too well, and so an evil report be widely spread; for we have wrought a terrible deed and in nowise will it be to their liking, should they learn it. Such is our counsel now, but if any of you can devise a better plan let her rise, for it was on this account that I summoned you hither."


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