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The Argonautica

Page: 90

(ll. 1110-1120) Thus he spake, and at once sleep laid him to rest. And she stored up in her heart the word of wisdom, and straightway rose from her couch and went through the palace; and her handmaids came hasting together, eagerly tending their mistress. But quietly she summoned her herald and addressed him, in her prudence urging Aeson's son to wed the maiden, and not to implore Alcinous; for he himself, she said, will decree to the Colchians that if she is still a maid he will deliver her up to be borne to her father's house, but that if she shares a husband's bed he will not sever her from wedded love.

(ll. 1121-1127) Thus she spake, and quickly from the hall his feet bore him, that he might declare to Jason the fair-omened speech of Arete and the counsel of godfearing Alcinous. And he found the heroes watching in full armour in the haven of Hyllus, near the city; and out he spake the whole message; and each hero's heart rejoiced; for the word that he spake was welcome.

(ll. 1128-1169) And straightway they mingled a bowl to the blessed ones, as is right, and reverently led sheep to the altar, and for that very night prepared for the maiden the bridal couch in the sacred cave, where once dwelt Macris, the daughter of Aristaeus, lord of honey, who discovered the works of bees and the fatness of the olive, the fruit of labour. She it was that first received in her bosom the Nysean son of Zeus in Abantian Euboea, and with honey moistened his parched lips when Hermes bore him out of the flame. And Hera beheld it, and in wrath drove her from the whole island. And she accordingly came to dwell far off, in the sacred cave of the Phaeacians, and granted boundless wealth to the inhabitants. There at that time did they spread a mighty couch; and thereon they laid the glittering fleece of gold, that so the marriage might be made honoured and the theme of song. And for them nymphs gathered flowers of varied hue and bore them thither in their white bosoms; and a splendour as of flame played round them all, such a light gleamed from the golden tufts. And in their eyes it kindled a sweet longing; yet for all her desire, awe withheld each one from laying her hand thereon. Some were called daughters of the river Aegaeus; others dwelt round the crests of the Meliteian mount; and others were woodland nymphs from the plains. For Hera herself, the spouse of Zeus, had sent them to do honour to Jason. That cave is to this day called the sacred cave of Medea, where they spread the fine and fragrant linen and brought these two together. And the heroes in their hands wielded their spears for war, lest first a host of foes should burst upon them for battle unawares, and, their heads enwreathed with leafy sprays, all in harmony, while Orpheus' harp rang clear, sang the marriage song at the entrance to the bridal chamber. Yet not in the house of Alcinous was the hero, Aeson's son, minded to complete his marriage, but in his father's hall when he had returned home to Ioleus; and such was the mind of Medea herself; but necessity led them to wed at this time. For never in truth do we tribes of woe-stricken mortals tread the path of delight with sure foot; but still some bitter affliction keeps pace with our joy. Wherefore they too, though their souls were melted with sweet love, were held by fear, whether the sentence of Alcinous would be fulfilled.


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