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The Argonautica

Page: 29

(ll. 55-59) "Whichever of these thou wilt, without casting lots, I grant thee freely, that thou mayst not blame me hereafter. Bind them about thy hands; thou shalt learn and tell another how skilled I am to carve the dry oxhides and to spatter men's cheeks with blood."

(ll. 60-66) Thus he spake; but the other gave back no taunt in answer, but with a light smile readily took up the gauntlets that lay at his feet; and to him came Castor and mighty Talaus, son of Bias, and they quickly bound the gauntlets about his hands, often bidding him be of good courage. And to Amycus came Aretus and Ornytus, but little they knew, poor fools, that they had bound them for the last time on their champion, a victim of evil fate.

(ll. 67-97) Now when they stood apart and were ready with their gauntlets, straightway in front of their faces they raised their heavy hands and matched their might in deadly strife. Hereupon the Bebrycian king even as a fierce wave of the sea rises in a crest against a swift ship, but she by the skill of the crafty pilot just escapes the shock when the billow is eager to break over the bulwark—so he followed up the son of Tyndareus, trying to daunt him, and gave him no respite. But the hero, ever unwounded, by his skill baffled the rush of his foe, and he quickly noted the brutal play of his fists to see where he was invincible in strength, and where inferior, and stood unceasingly and returned blow for blow. And as when shipwrights with their hammers smite ships' timbers to meet the sharp clamps, fixing layer upon layer; and the blows resound one after another; so cheeks and jaws crashed on both sides, and a huge clattering of teeth arose, nor did they cease ever from striking their blows until laboured gasping overcame both. And standing a little apart they wiped from their foreheads sweat in abundance, wearily panting for breath. Then back they rushed together again, as two bulls fight in furious rivalry for a grazing heifer. Next Amycus rising on tiptoe, like one who slays an ox, sprung to his full height and swung his heavy hand down upon his rival; but the hero swerved aside from the rush, turning his head, and just received the arm on his shoulder; and coming near and slipping his knee past the king's, with a rush he struck him above the ear, and broke the bones inside, and the king in agony fell upon his knees; and the Minyan heroes shouted for joy; and his life was poured forth all at once.

(ll. 98-144) Nor were the Bebrycians reckless of their king; but all together took up rough clubs and spears and rushed straight on Polydeuces. But in front of him stood his comrades, their keen swords drawn from the sheath. First Castor struck upon the head a man as he rushed at him: and it was cleft in twain and fell on each side upon his shoulders. And Polydeuces slew huge Itymoneus and Mimas. The one, with a sudden leap, he smote beneath the breast with his swift foot and threw him in the dust; and as the other drew near he struck him with his right hand above the left eyebrow, and tore away his eyelid and the eyeball was left bare. But Oreides, insolent henchman of Amycus, wounded Talaus son of Bias in the side, but did not slay him, but only grazing the skin the bronze sped under his belt and touched not the flesh. Likewise Aretus with well-seasoned club smote Iphitus, the steadfast son of Eurytus, not yet destined to an evil death; assuredly soon was he himself to be slain by the sword of Clytius. Then Ancaeus, the dauntless son of Lycurgus, quickly seized his huge axe, and in his left hand holding a bear's dark hide, plunged into the midst of the Bebrycians with furious onset; and with him charged the sons of Aeacus, and with them started warlike Jason. And as when amid the folds grey wolves rush down on a winter's day and scare countless sheep, unmarked by the keen-scented dogs and the shepherds too, and they seek what first to attack and carry off; often glaring around, but the sheep are just huddled together and trample on one another; so the heroes grievously scared the arrogant Bebrycians. And as shepherds or beekeepers smoke out a huge swarm of bees in a rock, and they meanwhile, pent up in their hive, murmur with droning hum, till, stupefied by the murky smoke, they fly forth far from the rock; so they stayed steadfast no longer, but scattered themselves inland through Bebrycia, proclaiming the death of Amycus; fools, not to perceive that another woe all unforeseen was hard upon them. For at that hour their vineyards and villages were being ravaged by the hostile spear of Lycus and the Mariandyni, now that their king was gone. For they were ever at strife about the ironbearing land. And now the foe was destroying their steadings and farms, and now the heroes from all sides were driving off their countless sheep, and one spake among his fellows thus:


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