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The Argonautica

Page: 60

(ll. 572-575) So he spake, and straightway sent Argus to return in haste to the city; and they drew the anchors on board at the command of Aeson's son, and rowed the ship close to the shore, a little away from the back-water.

(ll. 576-608) But straightway Aeetes held an assembly of the Colchians far aloof from his palace at a spot where they sat in times before, to devise against the Minyae grim treachery and troubles. And he threatened that when first the oxen should have torn in pieces the man who had taken upon him to perform the heavy task, he would hew down the oak grove above the wooded hill, and burn the ship and her crew, that so they might vent forth in ruin their grievous insolence, for all their haughty schemes. For never would he have welcomed the Aeolid Phrixus as a guest in his halls, in spite of his sore need, Phrixus, who surpassed all strangers in gentleness and fear of the gods, had not Zeus himself sent Hermes his messenger down from heaven, so that he might meet with a friendly host; much less would pirates coming to his land be let go scatheless for long, men whose care it was to lift their hands and seize the goods of others, and to weave secret webs of guile, and harry the steadings of herdsmen with ill-sounding forays. And he said that besides all that the sons of Phrixus should pay a fitting penalty to himself for returning in consort with evildoers, that they might recklessly drive him from his honour and his throne; for once he had heard a baleful prophecy from his father Helios, that he must avoid the secret treachery and schemes of his own offspring and their crafty mischief. Wherefore he was sending them, as they desired, to the Achaean land at the bidding of their father—a long journey. Nor had he ever so slight a fear of his daughters, that they would form some hateful scheme, nor of his son Apsyrtus; but this curse was being fulfilled in the children of Chalciope. And he proclaimed terrible things in his rage against the strangers, and loudly threatened to keep watch over the ship and its crew, so that no one might escape calamity.

(ll. 609-615) Meantime Argus, going to Aeetes' palace, with manifold pleading besought his mother to pray Medea's aid; and Chalciope herself already had the same thoughts, but fear checked her soul lest haply either fate should withstand and she should entreat her in vain, all distraught as she would be at her father's deadly wrath, or, if Medea yielded to her prayers, her deeds should be laid bare and open to view.

(ll. 616-635) Now a deep slumber had relieved the maiden from her love-pains as she lay upon her couch. But straightway fearful dreams, deceitful, such as trouble one in grief, assailed her. And she thought that the stranger had taken on him the contest, not because he longed to win the ram's fleece, and that he had not come on that account to Aeetes' city, but to lead her away, his wedded wife, to his own home; and she dreamed that herself contended with the oxen and wrought the task with exceeding ease; and that her own parents set at naught their promise, for it was not the maiden they had challenged to yoke the oxen but the stranger himself; from that arose a contention of doubtful issue between her father and the strangers; and both laid the decision upon her, to be as she should direct in her mind. But she suddenly, neglecting her parents, chose the stranger. And measureless anguish seized them and they shouted out in their wrath; and with the cry sleep released its hold upon her. Quivering with fear she started up, and stared round the walls of her chamber, and with difficulty did she gather her spirit within her as before, and lifted her voice aloud:


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