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The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 69

And Jason fell down at his father’s knees, and wept, and called him by his name. And the old man stretched his hands out, and felt him, and said, ‘Do not mock me, young hero. My son Jason is dead long ago at sea.’

‘I am your own son Jason, whom you trusted to the Centaur upon Pelion; and I have brought home the golden fleece, and a princess of the Sun’s race for my bride. So now give me up the kingdom, Pelias my uncle, and fulfil your promise as I have fulfilled mine.’

Then his father clung to him like a child, and wept, and would not let him go; and cried, ‘Now I shall not go down lonely to my grave. Promise me never to leave me till I die.’

p. 161PART VI
WHAT WAS THE END OF THE HEROES

And now I wish that I could end my story pleasantly; but it is no fault of mine that I cannot. The old songs end it sadly, and I believe that they are right and wise; for though the heroes were purified at Malea, yet sacrifices cannot make bad hearts good, and Jason had taken a wicked wife, and he had to bear his burden to the last.

And first she laid a cunning plot to punish that poor old Pelias, instead of letting him die in peace.

For she told his daughters, ‘I can make old things young again; I will show you how easy it is to do.’ So she took an old ram and killed him, and put him in a cauldron with magic herbs; and whispered her spells over him, and he leapt out again a young lamb. So that ‘Medeia’s cauldron’ is a proverb still, by which we mean times of war and change, when the world has become old and feeble, and grows young again through bitter pains.

Then she said to Pelias’ daughters, ‘Do to your father as I did to this ram, and he will grow young and strong again.’ But she only told them half the spell; so they failed, while Medeia mocked them; and poor old Pelias died, and his daughters came to misery. But the songs say she cured Æson, Jason’s father, and he became young, and strong again.

But Jason could not love her, after all her cruel deeds. So he was ungrateful to her, and wronged her; and she revenged herself on him. And a terrible revenge she took—too terrible to speak of here. But you will hear of it yourselves when you grow up, for it has been sung in noble poetry and music; and whether it be true or not, it stands for ever as a warning to us not to seek for help from evil persons, or to gain good ends by evil means. For if we use an adder even against our enemies, it will turn again and sting us.


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