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The Argonautica

Page: 25

(ll. 1207-1239) Meantime Hylas with pitcher of bronze in hand had gone apart from the throng, seeking the sacred flow of a fountain, that he might be quick in drawing water for the evening meal and actively make all things ready in due order against his lord's return. For in such ways did Heracles nurture him from his first childhood when he had carried him off from the house of his father, goodly Theiodamas, whom the hero pitilessly slew among the Dryopians because he withstood him about an ox for the plough. Theiodamas was cleaving with his plough the soil of fallow land when he was smitten with the curse; and Heracles bade him give up the ploughing ox against his will. For he desired to find some pretext for war against the Dryopians for their bane, since they dwelt there reckless of right. But these tales would lead me far astray from my song. And quickly Hylas came to the spring which the people who dwell thereabouts call Pegae. And the dances of the nymphs were just now being held there; for it was the care of all the nymphs that haunted that lovely headland ever to hymn Artemis in songs by night. All who held the mountain peaks or glens, all they were ranged far off guarding the woods; but one, a water-nymph was just rising from the fair-flowing spring; and the boy she perceived close at hand with the rosy flush of his beauty and sweet grace. For the full moon beaming from the sky smote him. And Cypris made her heart faint, and in her confusion she could scarcely gather her spirit back to her. But as soon as he dipped the pitcher in the stream, leaning to one side, and the brimming water rang loud as it poured against the sounding bronze, straightway she laid her left arm above upon his neck yearning to kiss his tender mouth; and with her right hand she drew down his elbow, and plunged him into the midst of the eddy.

(ll. 1240-1256) Alone of his comrades the hero Polyphemus, son of Eilatus, as he went forward on the path, heard the boy's cry, for he expected the return of mighty Heracles. And he rushed after the cry, near Pegae, like some beast of the wild wood whom the bleating of sheep has reached from afar, and burning with hunger he follows, but does not fall in with the flocks; for the shepherds beforehand have penned them in the fold, but he groans and roars vehemently until he is weary. Thus vehemently at that time did the son of Eilatus groan and wandered shouting round the spot; and his voice rang piteous. Then quickly drawing his great sword he started in pursuit, in fear lest the boy should be the prey of wild beasts, or men should have lain in ambush for him faring all alone, and be carrying him off, an easy prey. Hereupon as he brandished his bare sword in his hand he met Heracles himself on the path, and well he knew him as he hastened to the ship through the darkness. And straightway he told the wretched calamity while his heart laboured with his panting breath.


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