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The Argonautica

Page: 58

(ll. 471-474) Thus then was the maiden's heart racked by love-cares. But when the others had gone forth from the people and the city, along the path by which at the first they had come from the plain, then Argus addressed Jason with these words:

(ll. 475-483) "Son of Aeson, thou wilt despise the counsel which I will tell thee, but, though in evil plight, it is not fitting to forbear from the trial. Ere now thou hast heard me tell of a maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate, Perses' daughter. If we could win her aid there will be no dread, methinks, of thy defeat in the contest; but terribly do I fear that my mother will not take this task upon her. Nevertheless I will go back again to entreat her, for a common destruction overhangs us all."

(ll. 383-491) He spake with goodwill, and Jason answered with these words: "Good friend, if this is good in thy sight, I say not nay. Go and move thy mother, beseeching her aid with prudent words; pitiful indeed is our hope when we have put our return in the keeping of women." So he spake, and quickly they reached the back-water. And their comrades joyfully questioned them, when they saw them close at hand; and to them spoke Aeson's son grieved at heart:

(ll. 492-501) "My friends, the heart of ruthless Aeetes is utterly filled with wrath against us, for not at all can the goal be reached either by me or by you who question me. He said that two bulls with feet of bronze pasture on the plain of Ares, breathing forth flame from their jaws. And with these he bade me plough the field, four plough-gates; and said that he would give me from a serpent's jaws seed which will raise up earthborn men in armour of bronze; and on the same day I must slay them. This task—for there was nothing better to devise—I took on myself outright."

(ll. 502-514) Thus he spake; and to all the contest seemed one that none could accomplish, and long, quiet and silent, they looked at one another, bowed down with the calamity and their despair; but at last Peleus spake with courageous words among all the chiefs: "It is time to be counselling what we shall do. Yet there is not so much profit, I trow, in counsel as in the might of our hands. If thou then, hero son of Aeson, art minded to yoke Aeetes' oxen, and art eager for the toil, surely thou wilt keep thy promise and make thyself ready. But if thy soul trusts not her prowess utterly, then neither bestir thyself nor sit still and look round for some one else of these men. For it is not I who will flinch, since the bitterest pain will be but death."

(ll. 515-522) So spake the son of Aeacus; and Telamon's soul was stirred, and quickly he started up in eagerness; and Idas rose up the third in his pride; and the twin sons of Tyndareus; and with them Oeneus' son who was numbered among strong men, though even the soft down on his cheek showed not yet; with such courage was his soul uplifted. But the others gave way to these in silence. And straightway Argus spake these words to those that longed for the contest:


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