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The Argonautica

Page: 18

(ll. 768-773) Such then were the gifts of the Tritonian goddess Athena. And in his right hand Jason held a fardarting spear, which Atalanta gave him once as a gift of hospitality in Maenalus as she met him gladly; for she eagerly desired to follow on that quest; but he himself of his own accord prevented the maid, for he feared bitter strife on account of her love.

(ll. 774-792) And he went on his way to the city like to a bright star, which maidens, pent up in new-built chambers, behold as it rises above their homes, and through the dark air it charms their eyes with its fair red gleam and the maid rejoices, love-sick for the youth who is far away amid strangers, for whom her parents are keeping her to be his bride; like to that star the hero trod the way to the city. And when they had passed within the gates and the city, the women of the people surged behind them, delighting in the stranger, but he with his eyes fixed on the ground fared straight on, till he reached the glorious palace of Hypsipyle; and when he appeared the maids opened the folding doors, fitted with well-fashioned panels. Here Iphinoe leading him quickly through a fair porch set him upon a shining seat opposite her mistress, but Hypsipyle turned her eyes aside and a blush covered her maiden cheeks, yet for all her modesty she addressed him with crafty words:

(ll. 793-833) "Stranger, why stay ye so long outside our towers? for the city is not inhabited by the men, but they, as sojourners, plough the wheat-bearing fields of the Thracian mainland. And I will tell out truly all our evil plight, that ye yourselves too may know it well. When my father Thoas reigned over the citizens, then our folk starting from their homes used to plunder from their ships the dwellings of the Thracians who live opposite, and they brought back hither measureless booty and maidens too. But the counsel of the baneful goddess Cypris was working out its accomplishment, who brought upon them soul destroying infatuation. For they hated their lawful wives, and, yielding to their own mad folly, drove them from their homes; and they took to their beds the captives of their spear, cruel ones. Long in truth we endured it, if haply again, though late, they might change their purpose, but ever the bitter woe grew, twofold. And the lawful children were being dishonoured in their halls, and a bastard race was rising. And thus unmarried maidens and widowed mothers too wandered uncared for through the city; no father heeded his daughter ever so little even though he should see her done to death before his eyes at the hands of an insolent step-dame, nor did sons, as before, defend their mother against unseemly outrage; nor did brothers care at heart for their sister. But in their homes, in the dance, in the assembly and the banquet all their thought was only for their captive maidens; until some god put desperate courage in our hearts no more to receive our lords on their return from Thrace within our towers so that they might either heed the right or might depart and begone elsewhither, they and their captives. So they begged of us all the male children that were left in the city and went back to where even now they dwell on the snowy tilths of Thrace. Do ye therefore stay and settle with us; and shouldst thou desire to dwell here, and this finds favour with thee, assuredly thou shalt have the prerogative of my father Thoas; and I deem that thou wilt not scorn our land at all; for it is deepsoiled beyond all other islands that lie in the Aegaean sea. But come now, return to the ship and relate my words to thy comrades, and stay not outside our city."


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