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The Argonautica

Page: 57

(ll. 422-426) Thus he spake; and Jason, fixing his eyes on the ground, sat just as he was, speechless, helpless in his evil plight. For a long time he turned the matter this way and that, and could in no way take on him the task with courage, for a mighty task it seemed; and at last he made reply with crafty words:

(ll. 427-431) "With thy plea of right, Aeetes, thou dost shut me in overmuch. Wherefore also I will dare that contest, monstrous as it is, though it be my doom to die. For nothing will fall upon men more dread than dire necessity, which indeed constrained me to come hither at a king's command."

(ll. 432-438) Thus he spake, smitten by his helpless plight; and the king with grim words addressed him, sore troubled as he was: "Go forth now to the gathering, since thou art eager for the toil; but if thou shouldst fear to lift the yoke upon the oxen or shrink from the deadly harvesting, then all this shall be my care, so that another too may shudder to come to a man that is better than he."

(ll. 439-463) He spake outright; and Jason rose from his seat, and Augeias and Telamon at once; and Argus followed alone, for he signed to his brothers to stay there on the spot meantime; and so they went forth from the hall. And wonderfully among them all shone the son of Aeson for beauty and grace; and the maiden looked at him with stealthy glance, holding her bright veil aside, her heart smouldering with pain; and her soul creeping like a dream flitted in his track as he went. So they passed forth from the palace sorely troubled. And Chalciope, shielding herself from the wrath of Aeetes, had gone quickly to her chamber with her sons. And Medea likewise followed, and much she brooded in her soul all the cares that the Loves awaken. And before her eyes the vision still appeared—himself what like he was, with what vesture he was clad, what things he spake, how he sat on his seat, how he moved forth to the door—and as she pondered she deemed there never was such another man; and ever in her ears rung his voice and the honey-sweet words which he uttered. And she feared for him, lest the oxen or Aeetes with his own hand should slay him; and she mourned him as though already slain outright, and in her affliction a round tear through very grievous pity coursed down her cheek; and gently weeping she lifted up her voice aloud:

(ll. 464-470) "Why does this grief come upon me, poor wretch? Whether he be the best of heroes now about to perish, or the worst, let him go to his doom. Yet I would that he had escaped unharmed; yea, may this be so, revered goddess, daughter of Perses, may he avoid death and return home; but if it be his lot to be o'ermastered by the oxen, may he first learn this, that I at least do not rejoice in his cruel calamity."


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