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The Argonautica

Page: 31

(ll. 209-239) "Listen, bravest of all the Hellenes, if it be truly ye, whom by a king's ruthless command Jason is leading on the ship Argo in quest of the fleece. It is ye truly. Even yet my soul by its divination knows everything. Thanks I render to thee, O king, son of Leto, plunged in bitter affliction though I be. I beseech you by Zeus the god of suppliants, the sternest foe to sinful men, and for the sake of Phoebus and Hera herself, under whose especial care ye have come hither, help me, save an ill-fated man from misery, and depart not uncaring and leaving me thus as ye see. For not only has the Fury set her foot on my eyes and I drag on to the end a weary old age; but besides my other woes a woe hangs over me the bitterest of all. The Harpies, swooping down from some unseen den of destruction, ever snatch the food from my mouth. And I have no device to aid me. But it were easier, when I long for a meal, to escape my own thoughts than them, so swiftly do they fly through the air. But if haply they do leave me a morsel of food it reeks of decay and the stench is unendurable, nor could any mortal bear to draw near even for a moment, no, not if his heart were wrought of adamant. But necessity, bitter and insatiate, compels me to abide and abiding to put food in my cursed belly. These pests, the oracle declares, the sons of Boreas shall restrain. And no strangers are they that shall ward them off if indeed I am Phineus who was once renowned among men for wealth and the gift of prophecy, and if I am the son of my father Agenor; and, when I ruled among the Thracians, by my bridal gifts I brought home their sister Cleopatra to be my wife."

(ll. 240-243) So spake Agenor's son; and deep sorrow seized each of the heroes, and especially the two sons of Boreas. And brushing away a tear they drew nigh, and Zetes spake as follows, taking in his own the hand of the grief-worn sire:

(ll. 244-253) "Unhappy one, none other of men is more wretched than thou, methinks. Why upon thee is laid the burden of so many sorrows? Hast thou with baneful folly sinned against the gods through thy skill in prophecy? For this are they greatly wroth with thee? Yet our spirit is dismayed within us for all our desire to aid thee, if indeed the god has granted this privilege to us two. For plain to discern to men of earth are the reproofs of the immortals. And we will never check the Harpies when they come, for all our desire, until thou hast sworn that for this we shall not lose the favour of heaven."

(ll. 254-255) Thus he spake; and towards him the aged sire opened his sightless eyes, and lifted them up and replied with these words:


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