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The Argonautica

Page: 52

(ll. 106-110) Thus she spake, and Hera took her slender hand and gently smiling, replied: "Perform this task, Cytherea, straightway, as thou sayest; and be not angry or contend with thy boy; he will cease hereafter to vex thee."

(ll. 111-128) She spake, and left her seat, and Athena accompanied her and they went forth both hastening back. And Cypris went on her way through the glens of Olympus to find her boy. And she found him apart, in the blooming orchard of Zeus, not alone, but with him Ganymedes, whom once Zeus had set to dwell among the immortal gods, being enamoured of his beauty. And they were playing for golden dice, as boys in one house are wont to do. And already greedy Eros was holding the palm of his left hand quite full of them under his breast, standing upright; and on the bloom of his cheeks a sweet blush was glowing. But the other sat crouching hard by, silent and downcast, and he had two dice left which he threw one after the other, and was angered by the loud laughter of Eros. And lo, losing them straightway with the former, he went off empty handed, helpless, and noticed not the approach of Cypris. And she stood before her boy, and laying her hand on his lips, addressed him:

(ll. 129-144) "Why dost thou smile in triumph, unutterable rogue? Hast thou cheated him thus, and unjustly overcome the innocent child? Come, be ready to perform for me the task I will tell thee of, and I will give thee Zeus' all-beauteous plaything—the one which his dear nurse Adrasteia made for him, while he still lived a child, with childish ways, in the Idaean cave—a well-rounded ball; no better toy wilt thou get from the hands of Hephaestus. All of gold are its zones, and round each double seams run in a circle; but the stitches are hidden, and a dark blue spiral overlays them all. But if thou shouldst cast it with thy hands, lo, like a star, it sends a flaming track through the sky. This I will give thee; and do thou strike with thy shaft and charm the daughter of Aeetes with love for Jason; and let there be no loitering. For then my thanks would be the slighter."

(ll. 145-150) Thus she spake, and welcome were her words to the listening boy. And he threw down all his toys, and eagerly seizing her robe on this side and on that, clung to the goddess. And he implored her to bestow the gift at once; but she, facing him with kindly words, touched his cheeks, kissed him and drew him to her, and replied with a smile:

(ll. 151-153) "Be witness now thy dear head and mine, that surely I will give thee the gift and deceive thee not, if thou wilt strike with thy shaft Aeetes' daughter."

(ll. 154-166) She spoke, and he gathered up his dice, and having well counted them all threw them into his mother's gleaming lap. And straightway with golden baldric he slung round him his quiver from where it leant against a tree-trunk, and took up his curved bow. And he fared forth through the fruitful orchard of the palace of Zeus. Then he passed through the gates of Olympus high in air; hence is a downward path from heaven; and the twin poles rear aloft steep mountain tops the highest crests of earth, where the risen sun grows ruddy with his first beams. And beneath him there appeared now the life-giving earth and cities of men and sacred streams of rivers, and now in turn mountain peaks and the ocean all around, as he swept through the vast expanse of air.


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