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The Argonautica

Page: 65

(ll. 891-911) "Friends, verily have I sinned greatly and took no heed not to go among the stranger-folk 1 who roam over our land. The whole city is smitten with dismay; wherefore no one of the women who formerly gathered here day by day has now come hither. But since we have come and no one else draws near, come, let us satisfy our souls without stint with soothing song, and when we have plucked the fair flowers amid the tender grass, that very hour will we return. And with many a gift shall ye reach home this very day, if ye will gladden me with this desire of mine. For Argus pleads with me, also Chalciope herself; but this that ye hear from me keep silently in your hearts, lest the tale reach my father's ears. As for yon stranger who took on him the task with the oxen, they bid me receive his gifts and rescue him from the deadly contest. And I approved their counsel, and I have summoned him to come to my presence apart from his comrades, so that we may divide the gifts among ourselves if he bring them in his hands, and in return may give him a baleful charm. But when he comes, do ye stand aloof."

(ll. 912-918) So she spake, and the crafty counsel pleased them all. And straightway Argus drew Aeson's son apart from his comrades as soon as he heard from his brothers that Medea had gone at daybreak to the holy shrine of Hecate, and led him over the plain; and with them went Mopsus, son of Ampycus, skilled to utter oracles from the appearance of birds, and skilled to give good counsel to those who set out on a journey.

(ll. 919-926) Never yet had there been such a man in the days of old, neither of all the heroes of the lineage of Zeus himself, nor of those who sprung from the blood of the other gods, as on that day the bride of Zeus made Jason, both to look upon and to hold converse with. Even his comrades wondered as they gazed upon him, radiant with manifold graces; and the son of Ampycus rejoiced in their journey, already foreboding how all would end.

(ll. 927-931) Now by the path along the plain there stands near the shrine a poplar with its crown of countless leaves, whereon often chattering crows would roost. One of them meantime as she clapped her wings aloft in the branches uttered the counsels of Hera:

(ll. 932-937) "What a pitiful seer is this, that has not the wit to conceive even what children know, how that no maiden will say a word of sweetness or love to a youth when strangers be near. Begone, sorry prophet, witless one; on thee neither Cypris nor the gentle Loves breathe in their kindness."

(ll. 938-946) She spake chiding, and Mopsus smiled to hear the god-sent voice of the bird, and thus addressed them: "Do thou, son of Aeson, pass on to the temple, where thou wilt find the maiden; and very kind will her greeting be to thee through the prompting of Cypris, who will be thy helpmate in the contest, even as Phineus, Agenor's son, foretold. But we two, Argus and I, will await thy return, apart in this very spot; do thou all alone be a suppliant and win her over with prudent words."


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