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The Argonautica

Page: 80

(ll. 410-420) Thus he spake soothing her; and she uttered a deadly speech: "Take heed now. For when sorry deeds are done we must needs devise sorry counsel, since at first I was distraught by my error, and by heaven's will it was I wrought the accomplishment of evil desires. Do thou in the turmoil shield me from the Colchians' spears; and I will beguile Apsyrtus to come into thy hands—do thou greet him with splendid gifts—if only I could persuade the heralds on their departure to bring him alone to hearken to my words. Thereupon if this deed pleases thee, slay him and raise a conflict with the Colchians, I care not."

(ll. 421-422) So they two agreed and prepared a great web of guile for Apsyrtus, and provided many gifts such as are due to guests, and among them gave a sacred robe of Hypsipyle, of crimson hue. The Graces with their own hands had wrought it for Dionysus in sea-girt Dia, and he gave it to his son Thoas thereafter, and Thoas left it to Hypsipyle, and she gave that fair-wrought guest-gift with many another marvel to Aeson's son to wear. Never couldst thou satisfy thy sweet desire by touching it or gazing on it. And from it a divine fragrance breathed from the time when the king of Nysa himself lay to rest thereon, flushed with wine and nectar as he clasped the beauteous breast of the maiden-daughter of Minos, whom once Theseus forsook in the island of Dia, when she had followed him from Cnossus. And when she had worked upon the heralds to induce her brother to come, as soon as she reached the temple of the goddess, according to the agreement, and the darkness of night surrounded them, that so she might devise with him a cunning plan for her to take the mighty fleece of gold and return to the home of Aeetes, for, she said, the sons of Phrixus had given her by force to the strangers to carry off; with such beguiling words she scattered to the air and the breezes her witching charms, which even from afar would have drawn down the savage beast from the steep mountain-height.

(ll. 445-451) Ruthless Love, great bane, great curse to mankind, from thee come deadly strifes and lamentations and groans, and countless pains as well have their stormy birth from thee. Arise, thou god, and arm thyself against the sons of our foes in such guise as when thou didst fill Medea's heart with accursed madness. How then by evil doom did she slay Apsyrtus when he came to meet her? For that must our song tell next.

(ll. 452-481) When the heroes had left the maiden on the island of Artemis, according to the covenant, both sides ran their ships to land separately. And Jason went to the ambush to lie in wait for Apsyrtus and then for his comrades. But he, beguiled by these dire promises, swiftly crossed the swell of the sea in his ship, and in dark night set foot on the sacred island; and faring all alone to meet her he made trial in speech of his sister, as a tender child tries a wintry torrent which not even strong men can pass through, to see if she would devise some guile against the strangers. And so they two agreed together on everything; and straightway Aeson's son leapt forth from the thick ambush, lifting his bare sword in his hand; and quickly the maiden turned her eyes aside and covered them with her veil that she might not see the blood of her brother when he was smitten. And Jason marked him and struck him down, as a butcher strikes down a mighty strong-horned bull, hard by the temple which the Brygi on the mainland opposite had once built for Artemis. In its vestibule he fell on his knees; and at last the hero breathing out his life caught up in both hands the dark blood as it welled from the wound; and he dyed with red his sister's silvery veil and robe as she shrank away. And with swift side-glance the irresistible pitiless Fury beheld the deadly deed they had done. And the hero, Aeson's son, cut off the extremities of the dead man, and thrice licked up some blood and thrice spat the pollution from his teeth, as it is right for the slayer to do, to atone for a treacherous murder. And the clammy corpse he hid in the ground where even now those bones lie among the Apsyrtians.


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