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The Argonautica

Page: 28





BOOK II

(ll. 1-10) Here were the oxstalls and farm of Amycus, the haughty king of the Bebrycians, whom once a nymph, Bithynian Melie, united to Poseidon Genethlius, bare the most arrogant of men; for even for strangers he laid down an insulting ordinance, that none should depart till they had made trial of him in boxing; and he had slain many of the neighbours. And at that time too he went down to the ship and in his insolence scorned to ask them the occasion of their voyage, and who they were, but at once spake out among them all:

(ll. 11-18) "Listen, ye wanderers by sea, to what it befits you to know. It is the rule that no stranger who comes to the Bebrycians should depart till he has raised his hands in battle against mine. Wherefore select your bravest warrior from the host and set him here on the spot to contend with me in boxing. But if ye pay no heed and trample my decrees under foot, assuredly to your sorrow will stern necessity come upon you."

(ll. 19-21) Thus he spake in his pride, but fierce anger seized them when they heard it, and the challenge smote Polydeuces most of all. And quickly he stood forth his comrades' champion, and cried:

(ll. 22-24) "Hold now, and display not to us thy brutal violence, whoever thou art; for we will obey thy rules, as thou sayest. Willingly now do I myself undertake to meet thee."

(ll. 25-54) Thus he spake outright; but the other with rolling eyes glared on him, like to a lion struck by a javelin when hunters in the mountains are hemming him round, and, though pressed by the throng, he reeks no more of them, but keeps his eyes fixed, singling out that man only who struck him first and slew him not. Hereupon the son of Tyndareus laid aside his mantle, closely-woven, delicately-wrought, which one of the Lemnian maidens had given him as a pledge of hospitality; and the king threw down his dark cloak of double fold with its clasps and the knotted crook of mountain olive which he carried. Then straightway they looked and chose close by a spot that pleased them and bade their comrades sit upon the sand in two lines; nor were they alike to behold in form or in stature. The one seemed to be a monstrous son of baleful Typhoeus or of Earth herself, such as she brought forth aforetime, in her wrath against Zeus; but the other, the son of Tyndareus, was like a star of heaven, whose beams are fairest as it shines through the nightly sky at eventide. Such was the son of Zeus, the bloom of the first down still on his cheeks, still with the look of gladness in his eyes. But his might and fury waxed like a wild beast's; and he poised his hands to see if they were pliant as before and were not altogether numbed by toil and rowing. But Amycus on his side made no trial; but standing apart in silence he kept his eyes upon his foe, and his spirit surged within him all eager to dash the life-blood from his breast. And between them Lyeoreus, the henchman of Amycus, placed at their feet on each side two pairs of gauntlets made of raw hide, dry, exceeding tough. And the king addressed the hero with arrogant words:


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