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The Argonautica

Page: 89

(ll. 1053-1067) Thus she spake, beseeching; and to whomsoever she bowed in prayer, that man tried to give her heart and to check her anguish. And in their hands they shook their sharp pointed spears, and drew the swords from their sheaths; and they swore they would not hold back from giving succour, if she should meet with an unrighteous judgement. And the host were all wearied and Night came on them, Night that puts to rest the works of men, and lulled all the earth to sleep; but to the maid no sleep brought rest, but in her bosom her heart was wrung with anguish. Even as when a toiling woman turns her spindle through the night, and round her moan her orphan children, for she is a widow, and down her cheeks fall the tears, as she bethinks her how dreary a lot hath seized her; so Medea's cheeks were wet; and her heart within her was in agony, pierced with sharp pain.

(ll. 1068-1072) Now within the palace in the city, as aforetime, lay lordly Alcinous and Arete, the revered wife of Alcinous, and on their couch through the night they were devising plans about the maiden; and him, as her wedded husband, the wife addressed with loving words:

(ll. 1073-1095) "Yea, my friend, come, save the woe-stricken maid from the Colchians and show grace to the Minyae. Argos is near our isle and the men of Haemonia; but Aeetes dwells not near, nor do we know of Aeetes one whit: we hear but his name; but this maiden of dread suffering hath broken my heart by her prayers. O king, give her not up to the Colchians to be borne back to her father's home. She was distraught when first she gave him the drugs to charm the oxen; and next, to cure one ill by another, as in our sinning we do often, she fled from her haughty sire's heavy wrath. But Jason, as I hear, is bound to her by mighty oaths that he will make her his wedded wife within his halls. Wherefore, my friend, make not, of thy will, Aeson's son to be forsworn, nor let the father, if thou canst help, work with angry heart some intolerable mischief on his child. For fathers are all too jealous against their children; what wrong did Nycteus devise against Antiope, fair of face! What woes did Danae endure on the wide sea through her sire's mad rage! Of late, and not far away, Echetus in wanton cruelty thrust spikes of bronze in his daughter's eyes; and by a grievous fate is she wasting away, grinding grains of bronze in a dungeon's gloom."

(ll. 1096-1097) Thus she spake, beseeching; and by his wife's words his heart was softened, and thus he spake:

(ll. 1098-1109) "Arete, with arms I could drive forth the Colchians, showing grace to the heroes for the maiden's sake. But I fear to set at nought the righteous judgment of Zeus. Nor is it well to take no thought of Aeetes, as thou sayest: for none is more lordly than Aeetes. And, if he willed, he might bring war upon Hellas, though he dwell afar. Wherefore it is right for me to deliver the judgement that in all men's eyes shall be best; and I will not hide it from thee. If she be yet a maid I decree that they carry her back to her father; but if she shares a husband's bed, I will not separate her from her lord; nor, if she bear a child beneath her breast, will I give it up to an enemy."


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