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The Argonautica

Page: 91

(ll. 1170-1227) Now dawn returning with her beams divine scattered the gloomy night through the sky; and the island beaches laughed out and the paths over the plains far off, drenched with dew, and there was a din in the streets; the people were astir throughout the city, and far away the Colchians were astir at the bounds of the isle of Macris. And straightway to them went Alcinous, by reason of his covenant, to declare his purpose concerning the maiden, and in his hand he held a golden staff, his staff of justice, whereby the people had righteous judgments meted out to them throughout the city. And with him in order due and arrayed in their harness of war went marching, band by band, the chiefs of the Phaeacians. And from the towers came forth the women in crowds to gaze upon the heroes; and the country folk came to meet them when they heard the news, for Hera had sent forth a true report. And one led the chosen ram of his flock, and another a heifer that had never toiled; and others set hard by jars of wine for mixing; and the smoke of sacrifice leapt up far away. And women bore fine linen, the fruit of much toil, as women will, and gifts of gold and varied ornaments as well, such as are brought to newly-wedded brides; and they marvelled when they saw the shapely forms and beauty of the gallant heroes, and among them the son of Oeagrus, oft beating the ground with gleaming sandal, to the time of his loud-ringing lyre and song. And all the nymphs together, whenever he recalled the marriage, uplifted the lovely bridal-chant; and at times again they sang alone as they circled in the dance, Hera, in thy honour; for it was thou that didst put it into the heart of Arete to proclaim the wise word of Alcinous. And as soon as he had uttered the decree of his righteous judgement, and the completion of the marriage had been proclaimed, he took care that thus it should abide fixed; and no deadly fear touched him nor Aeetes' grievous wrath, but he kept his judgement fast bound by unbroken oaths. So when the Colchians learnt that they were beseeching in vain and he bade them either observe his judgements or hold their ships away from his harbours and land, then they began to dread the threats of their own king and besought Alcinous to receive them as comrades; and there in the island long time they dwelt with the Phaeacians, until in the course of years, the Bacchiadae, a race sprung from Ephyra, 1410 settled among them; and the Colchians passed to an island opposite; and thence they were destined to reach the Ceraunian hills of the Abantes, and the Nestaeans and Oricum; but all this was fulfilled after long ages had passed. And still the altars which Medea built on the spot sacred to Apollo, god of shepherds, receive yearly sacrifices in honour of the Fates and the Nymphs. And when the Minyae departed many gifts of friendship did Alcinous bestow, and many Arete; moreover she gave Medea twelve Phaeacian handmaids from the palace, to bear her company. And on the seventh day they left Drepane; and at dawn came a fresh breeze from Zeus. And onward they sped borne along by the wind's breath. Howbeit not yet was it ordained for the heroes to set foot on Achaea, until they had toiled even in the furthest bounds of Libya.


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