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The Argonautica

Page: 22

(ll. 989-1011) But the Earthborn men on the other side rushed down from the mountain and with crags below blocked up the mouth of vast Chytus towards the sea, like men lying in wait for a wild beast within. But there Heracles had been left behind with the younger heroes and he quickly bent his back-springing bow against the monsters and brought them to earth one after another; and they in their turn raised huge ragged rocks and hurled them. For these dread monsters too, I ween, the goddess Hera, bride of Zeus, had nurtured to be a trial for Heracles. And therewithal came the rest of the martial heroes returning to meet the foe before they reached the height of outlook, and they fell to the slaughter of the Earthborn, receiving them with arrows and spears until they slew them all as they rushed fiercely to battle. And as when woodcutters cast in rows upon the beach long trees just hewn down by their axes, in order that, once sodden with brine, they may receive the strong bolts; so these monsters at the entrance of the foam-fringed harbour lay stretched one after another, some in heaps bending their heads and breasts into the salt waves with their limbs spread out above on the land; others again were resting their heads on the sand of the shore and their feet in the deep water, both alike a prey to birds and fishes at once.

(ll. 1012-1076) But the heroes, when the contest was ended without fear, loosed the ship's hawsers to the breath of the wind and pressed on through the sea-swell. And the ship sped on under sail all day; but when night came the rushing wind did not hold steadfast, but contrary blasts caught them and held them back till they again approached the hospitable Doliones. And they stepped ashore that same night; and the rock is still called the Sacred Rock round which they threw the ship's hawsers in their haste. Nor did anyone note with care that it was the same island; nor in the night did the Doliones clearly perceive that the heroes were returning; but they deemed that Pelasgian war-men of the Macrians had landed. Therefore they donned their armour and raised their hands against them. And with clashing of ashen spears and shields they fell on each other, like the swift rush of fire which falls on dry brushwood and rears its crest; and the din of battle, terrible and furious, fell upon the people of the Doliones. Nor was the king to escape his fate and return home from battle to his bridal chamber and bed. But Aeson's son leapt upon him as he turned to face him, and smote him in the middle of the breast, and the bone was shattered round the spear; he rolled forward in the sand and filled up the measure of his fate. For that no mortal may escape; but on every side a wide snare encompasses us. And so, when he thought that he had escaped bitter death from the chiefs, fate entangled him that very night in her toils while battling with them; and many champions withal were slain; Heracles killed Telecles and Megabrontes, and Acastus slew Sphodris; and Peleus slew Zelus and Gephyrus swift in war. Telamon of the strong spear slew Basileus. And Idas slew Promeus, and Clytius Hyacinthus, and the two sons of Tyndareus slew Megalossaces and Phlogius. And after them the son of Oeneus slew bold Itomeneus, and Artaceus, leader of men; all of whom the inhabitants still honour with the worship due to heroes. And the rest gave way and fled in terror just as doves fly in terror before swift-winged hawks. And with a din they rustled in a body to the gates; and quickly the city was filled with loud cries at the turning of the dolorous fight. But at dawn both sides perceived the fatal and cureless error; and bitter grief seized the Minyan heroes when they saw before them Cyzicus son of Aeneus fallen in the midst of dust and blood. And for three whole days they lamented and rent their hair, they and the Dollones. Then three times round his tomb they paced in armour of bronze and performed funeral rites and celebrated games, as was meet, upon the meadow-plain, where even now rises the mound of his grave to be seen by men of a later day. No, nor was his bride Cleite left behind her dead husband, but to crown the ill she wrought an ill yet more awful, when she clasped a noose round her neck. Her death even the nymphs of the grove bewailed; and of all the tears for her that they shed to earth from their eyes the goddesses made a fountain, which they call Cleite, 1107 the illustrious name of the hapless maid. Most terrible came that day from Zeus upon the Doliones, women and men; for no one of them dared even to taste food, nor for a long time by reason of grief did they take thought for the toil of the cornmill, but they dragged on their lives eating their food as it was, untouched by fire. Here even now, when the Ionians that dwell in Cyzicus pour their yearly libations for the dead, they ever grind the meal for the sacrificial cakes at the common mill. 1108


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