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The Argonautica

Page: 70

(ll. 1191-1224) Far away in the west the sun was sailing beneath the dark earth, beyond the furthest hills of the Aethiopians; and Night was laying the yoke upon her steeds; and the heroes were preparing their beds by the hawsers. But Jason, as soon as the stars of Heliee, the bright-gleaming bear, had set, and the air had all grown still under heaven, went to a desert spot, like some stealthy thief, with all that was needful; for beforehand in the daytime had he taken thought for everything; and Argus came bringing a ewe and milk from the flock; and them he took from the ship. But when the hero saw a place which was far away from the tread of men, in a clear meadow beneath the open sky, there first of all he bathed his tender body reverently in the sacred river; and round him he placed a dark robe, which Hypsipyle of Lemnos had given him aforetime, a memorial of many a loving embrace. Then he dug a pit in the ground of a cubit's depth and heaped up billets of wood, and over it he cut the throat of the sheep, and duly placed the carcase above; and he kindled the logs placing fire beneath, and poured over them mingled libations, calling on Hecate Brimo to aid him in the contests. And when he had called on her he drew back; and she heard him, the dread goddess, from the uttermost depths and came to the sacrifice of Aeson's son; and round her horrible serpents twined themselves among the oak boughs; and there was a gleam of countless torches; and sharply howled around her the hounds of hell. All the meadows trembled at her step; and the nymphs that haunt the marsh and the river shrieked, all who dance round that mead of Amarantian Phasis. And fear seized Aeson's son, but not even so did he turn round as his feet bore him forth, till he came back to his comrades; and now early dawn arose and shed her light above snowy Caucasus.

(ll. 1225-1245) Then Aeetes arrayed his breast in the stiff corslet which Ares gave him when he had slain Phlegraean Mimas with his own hands; and upon his head he placed a golden helmet with four plumes, gleaming like the sun's round light when he first rises from Ocean. And he wielded his shield of many hides, and his spear, terrible, resistless; none of the heroes could have withstood its shock now that they had left behind Heracles far away, who alone could have met it in battle. For the king his well-fashioned chariot of swift steeds was held near at hand by Phaethon, for him to mount; and he mounted, and held the reins in his hands. Then from the city he drove along the broad highway, that he might be present at the contest; and with him a countless multitude rushed forth. And as Poseidon rides, mounted in his chariot, to the Isthmian contest or to Taenarus, or to Lerna's water, or through the grove of Hyantian Onchestus, and thereafter passes even to Calaureia with his steeds, and the Haemonian rock, or well-wooded Geraestus; even so was Aeetes, lord of the Colchians, to behold.


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