Sacred Texts  Classics  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at


(3.401-421) "Stranger, why needest thou go through thy tale to the end? For if ye are in truth of heavenly race, or have come in no wise inferior to me, to win the goods of strangers, I will give thee the fleece to bear away, if thou dost wish, when I have tried thee. For against brave men I bear no grudge, such as ye yourselves tell me of him who bears sway in Hellas. And the trial of your courage and might shall be a contest which I myself can compass with my hands, deadly though it be. Two bulls with feet of bronze I have that pasture on the plain of Ares, breathing forth flame from their jaws; them do I yoke and drive over the stubborn field of Ares, four plough-gates; and quickly cleaving it with the share up to the headland, I cast into the furrows the seed, not the corn of Demeter, but the teeth of a dread serpent that grow up into the fashion of armed men; them I slay at once, cutting them down beneath my spear as they rise against me on all sides. In the morning do I yoke the oxen, and at eventide I cease from the harvesting. And thou, if thou wilt accomplish such deeds as these, on that very day shalt carry off the fleece to the king's palace; ere that time comes I will not give it, expect it not. For indeed it is unseemly that a brave man should yield to a coward."

401     "Ξεῖνε, τί κεν τὰ ἕκαστα διηνεκέως ἀγορεύοις;
402 εἰ γὰρ ἐτήτυμόν ἐστε θεῶν γένος, ἠὲ καὶ ἄλλως
403 οὐδὲν ἐμεῖο χέρηες ἐπ' ὀθνείοισιν ἔβητε,
404 δώσω τοι χρύσειον ἄγειν δέρος, αἴ κ' ἐθέλῃσθα,
405 πειρηθείς. ἐσθλοῖς γὰρ ἐπ' ἀνδράσιν οὔτι μεγαίρω,
406 ὡς αὐτοὶ μυθεῖσθε τὸν Ἑλλάδι κοιρανέοντα.
407 πεῖρα δέ τοι μένεός τε καὶ ἀλκῆς ἔσσετ' ἄεθλος,
408 τόν ῥ' αὐτὸς περίειμι χεροῖν ὀλοόν περ ἐόντα.
409 δοιώ μοι πεδίον τὸ Ἀρήιον ἀμφινέμονται
410 ταύρω χαλκόποδε, στόματι φλόγα φυσιόωντες:
411 τοὺς ἐλάω ζεύξας στυφελὴν κατὰ νειὸν Ἄρηος
412 τετράγυον, τὴν αἶψα ταμὼν ἐπὶ τέλσον ἀρότρῳ
413 οὐ σπόρον ὁλκοῖσιν Δηοῦς ἐνιβᾴλλομαι ἀκτήν,
414 ἀλλ' ὄφιος δεινοῖο μεταλδήσκοντας ὀδόντας
415 ἀνδράσι τευχηστῇσι δέμας. τοὺς δ' αὖθι δαΐζων
416 κείρω ἐμῷ ὑπὸ δουρὶ περισταδὸν ἀντιόωντας.
417 ἠέριος ζεύγνυμι βόας, καὶ δείελον ὥρην
418 παύομαι ἀμήτοιο. σύ δ', εἰ τάδε τοῖα τελέσσεις,
419 αὐτῆμαρ τόδε κῶας ἀποίσεαι εἰς βασιλῆος:
420 πρὶν δέ κεν οὐ δοίην, μηδ' ἔλπεο. δὴ γὰρ ἀεικὲς
421 ἄνδρ' ἀγαθὸν γεγαῶτα κακωτέρῳ ἀνέρι εἶξαι."

(3.422-426) Thus he spake; and Jason, fixing his eyes on the ground, sat just as he was, speechless, helpless in his evil plight. For a long time he turned the matter this way and that, and could in no way take on him the task with courage, for a mighty task it seemed; and at last he made reply with crafty words:

422      Ὧς ἄρ' ἔφη: ὁ δὲ σῖγα ποδῶν πάρος ὄμματα πήξας
423 ἧστ' αὔτως ἄφθογγος, ἀμηχανέων κακότητι.
424 βουλὴν δ' ἀμφὶ πολὺν στρώφα χρόνον, οὐδέ πῃ εἶχεν
425 θαρσαλέως ὑποδέχθαι, ἐπεὶ μέγα φαίνετο ἔργον:
426 ὀψε δ' ἀμειβόμενος προσελέξατο κερδαλέοισιν:

(3.427-431) "With thy plea of right, Aeetes, thou dost shut me in overmuch. Wherefore also I will dare that contest, monstrous as it is, though it be my doom to die. For nothing will fall upon men more dread than dire necessity, which indeed constrained me to come hither at a king's command."

427     "Αἰήτη, μάλα τοί με δίκῃ περιπολλὸν ἐέργεις.
428 τῶ καὶ ἐγὼ τὸν ἄεθλον ὑπερφίαλόν περ ἐόντα
429 τλήσομαι, εἰ καί μοι θανέειν μόρος. οὐ γὰρ ἔτ' ἄλλο
430 ῥίγιον ἀνθρώποισι κακῆς ἐπικείσετ' ἀνάγκης,
431 ἥ με καὶ ἐνθάδε νεῖσθαι ἐπέχραεν ἐκ βασιλῆος."

(3.432-438) Thus he spake, smitten by his helpless plight; and the king with grim words addressed him, sore troubled as he was: "Go forth now to the gathering, since thou art eager for the toil; but if thou shouldst fear to lift the yoke upon the oxen or shrink from the deadly harvesting, then all this shall be my care, so that another too may shudder to come to a man that is better than he."

432     Ὧς φάτ' ἀμηχανίῃ βεβολημένος: αὐτὰρ ὁ τόνγε
433 σμερδαλέοις ἐπέεσσι προσέννεπεν ἀσχαλόωντα:
434 "Ἔρχεο νῦν μεθ' ὅμιλον, ἐπεὶ μέμονάς γε πόνοιο:
435 εἰ δὲ σύγε ζυγὰ βουσὶν ὑποδδείσαις ἐπαεῖραι,
436 ἠὲ καὶ οὐλομένου μεταχάσσεαι ἀμήτοιο,
437 αὐτῷ κεν τὰ ἕκαστα μέλοιτό μοι, ὄφρα καὶ ἄλλος
438 ἀνὴρ ἐρρίγῃσιν ἀρείονα φῶτα μετελθεῖν."

(3.439-463) He spake outright; and Jason rose from his seat, and Augeias and Telamon at once; and Argus followed alone, for he signed to his brothers to stay there on the spot meantime; and so they went forth from the hall. And wonderfully among them all shone the son of Aeson for beauty and grace; and the maiden looked at him with stealthy glance, holding her bright veil aside, her heart smouldering with pain; and her soul creeping like a dream flitted in his track as he went. So they passed forth from the palace sorely troubled. And Chalciope, shielding herself from the wrath of Aeetes, had gone quickly to her chamber with her sons. And Medea likewise followed, and much she brooded in her soul all the cares that the Loves awaken. And before her eyes the vision still appeared -- himself what like he was, with what vesture he was clad, what things he spake, how he sat on his seat, how he moved forth to the door -- and as she pondered she deemed there never was such another man; and ever in her ears rung his voice and the honey-sweet words which he uttered. And she feared for him, lest the oxen or Aeetes with his own hand should slay him; and she mourned him as though already slain outright, and in her affliction a round tear through very grievous pity coursed down her cheek; and gently weeping she lifted up her voice aloud:

439     Ἴσκεν ἀπηλεγέως: ὁ δ' ἀπὸ θρόνου ὤρνυτ' Ἰήσων,
440 Αὐγείης Τελαμών τε παρασχεδόν: εἵπετο δ' Ἄργος
441 οἶος, ἐπεὶ μεσσηγὺς ἔτ' αὐτόθι νεῦσε λιπέσθαι
442 αὐτοκασιγνήτοις: οἱ δ' ἤισαν ἐκ μεγάροιο.
443 θεσπέσιον δ' ἐν πᾶσι μετέπρεπεν Αἴσονος υἱὸς
444 κάλλεϊ καὶ χαρίτεσσιν: ἐπ' αὐτῷ δ' ὄμματα κούρη
445 λοξὰ παρὰ λιπαρὴν σχομένη θηεῖτο καλύπτρην,
446 κῆρ ἄχεϊ σμύχουσα: νόος δέ οἱ ἠύτ' ὄνειρος
447 ἑρπύζων πεπότητο μετ' ἴχνια νισσομένοιο.
448 καί ῥ' οἱ μέν ῥα δόμων ἐξήλυθον ἀσχαλόωντες.
449 Χαλκιόπη δὲ χόλον πεφυλαγμένη Αἰήταο
450 καρπαλίμως θάλαμόνδε σὺν υἱάσιν οἷσι βεβήκει.
451 αὔτως δ' αὖ Μήδεια μετέστιχε: πολλὰ δὲ θυμῷ
452 ὥρμαιν', ὅσσα τ' Ἔρωτες ἐποτρύνουσι μέλεσθαι.
453 προπρὸ δ' ἄρ' ὀφθαλμῶν ἔτι οἱ ἰνδάλλετο πάντα,
454 αὐτός θ' οἷος ἔην, οἵοισί τε φάρεσιν ἕστο,
455 οἷά τ' ἔειφ', ὥς θ' ἕζετ' ἐπὶ θρόνου, ὥς τε θύραζε
456 ἤιεν: οὐδέ τιν' ἄλλον ὀίσσατο πορφύρουσα
457 ἔμμεναι ἀνέρα τοῖον: ἐν οὔασι δ' αἰὲν ὀρώρει
458 αὐδή τε μῦθοί τε μελίφρονες, οὓς ἀγόρευσεν.
459 τάρβει δ' ἀμφ' αὐτῷ, μή μιν βόες ἠὲ καὶ αὐτὸς
460 Αἰήτης φθίσειεν: ὀδύρετο δ' ἠύτε πάμπαν
461 ἤδη τεθνειῶτα, τέρεν δέ οἱ ἀμφὶ παρειὰς
462 δάκρυον αἰνοτάτῳ ἐλέῳ ῥέε κηδοσύνῃσιν:
463 ἦκα δὲ μυρομένη λιγέως ἀνενείκατο μῦθον:

(3.464-470) Why does this grief come upon me, poor wretch? Whether he be the best of heroes now about to perish, or the worst, let him go to his doom. Yet I would that he had escaped unharmed; yea, may this be so, revered goddess, daughter of Perses, may he avoid death and return home; but if it be his lot to be o'ermastered by the oxen, may he first learn this, that I at least do not rejoice in his cruel calamity."

464     "Τίπτε με δειλαίην τόδ' ἔχει ἄχος; εἴθ' ὅγε πάντων
465 φθίσεται ἡρώων προφερέστατος, εἴτε χερείων,
466 ἐρρέτω. ἦ μὲν ὄφελλεν ἀκήριος ἐξαλέασθαι.
467 ναὶ δὴ τοῦτό γε, πότνα θεὰ Περσηί, πέλοιτο,
468 οἴκαδε νοστήσειε φυγὼν μόρον: εἰ δέ μιν αἶσα
469 δμηθῆναι ὑπὸ βουσί, τόδε προπάροιθε δαείη,
470 οὕνεκεν οὔ οἱ ἔγωγε κακῇ ἐπαγαίομαι ἄτῃ."

(3.471-474) Thus then was the maiden's heart racked by love- cares. But when the others had gone forth from the people and the city, along the path by which at the first they had come from the plain, then Argus addressed Jason with these words:

471     Ἡ μὲν ἄρ' ὧς ἐόλητο νόον μελεδήμασι κούρη.
472 οἱ δ' ἐπεὶ οὖν δήμου τε καὶ ἄστεος ἐκτὸς ἔβησαν
473 τὴν ὁδόν, ἣν τὸ πάροιθεν ἀνήλυθον ἐκ πεδίοιο,
474 δὴ τότ' Ἰήσονα τοῖσδε προσέννεπεν Ἄργος ἔπεσσιν:

(3.475-483) "Son of Aeson, thou wilt despise the counsel which I will tell thee, but, though in evil plight, it is not fitting to forbear from the trial. Ere now thou hast heard me tell of a maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate, Perses' daughter. If we could win her aid there will be no dread, methinks, of thy defeat in the contest; but terribly do I fear that my mother will not take this task upon her. Nevertheless I will go back again to entreat her, for a common destruction overhangs us all."

475      "Αἰσονίδη, μῆτιν μὲν ὀνόσσεαι, ἥντιν' ἐνίψω:
476 πείρης δ' οὐ μάλ' ἔοικε μεθιέμεν ἐν κακότητι.
477 κούρην δή τινα πρόσθεν ὑπέκλυες αὐτὸς ἐμεῖο
478 φαρμάσσειν Ἑκάτης Περσηίδος ἐννεσίῃσιν.
479 τὴν εἴ κεν πεπίθοιμεν, ὀίομαι, οὐκέτι τάρβος
480 ἔσσετ' ἀεθλεύοντι δαμήμεναι: ἀλλὰ μάλ' αἰνῶς
481 δείδω, μή πως οὔ μοι ὑποσταίη τόγε μήτηρ.
482 ἔμπης δ' ἐξαῦτις μετελεύσομαι ἀντιβολήσων,
483 ξυνὸς ἐπεὶ πάντεσσιν ἐπικρέμαθ' ἧμιν ὄλεθρος."

(3.383-491) He spake with goodwill, and Jason answered with these words: "Good friend, if this is good in thy sight, I say not nay. Go and move thy mother, beseeching her aid with prudent words; pitiful indeed is our hope when we have put our return in the keeping of women." So he spake, and quickly they reached the back-water. And their comrades joyfully questioned them, when they saw them close at hand; and to them spoke Aeson's son grieved at heart:

484     Ἴσκεν ἐυφρονέων: ὁ δ' ἀμείβετο τοῖσδ' ἐπέεσσιν:
485 "̂Ὠ πέπον, εἴ νύ τοι αὐτῷ ἐφανδάνει, οὔτι μεγαίρω.
486 βάσκ' ἴθι καὶ πυκινοῖσι τεὴν παρὰ μητέρα μύθοις
487 ὄρνυθι λισσόμενος: μελέη γε μὲν ἧμιν ὄρωρεν
488 ἐλπωρή, ὅτε νόστον ἐπετραπόμεσθα γυναιξίν."
489 ὧς ἔφατ': ὦκα δ' ἕλος μετεκίαθον. αὐτὰρ ἑταῖροι
490 γηθόσυνοι ἐρέεινον, ὅπως παρεόντας ἴδοντο:
491 τοῖσιν δ' Αἰσονίδης τετιημένος ἔκφατο μῦθον:

(3.492-501) "My friends, the heart of ruthless Aeetes is utterly filled with wrath against us, for not at all can the goal be reached either by me or by you who question me. He said that two bulls with feet of bronze pasture on the plain of Ares, breathing forth flame from their jaws. And with these he bade me plough the field, four plough-gates; and said that he would give me from a serpent's jaws seed which will raise up earthborn men in armour of bronze; and on the same day I must slay them. This task -- for there was nothing better to devise -- I took on myself outright."

492     "̂Ὠ φίλοι, Αἰήταο ἀπηνέος ἄμμι φίλον κῆρ
493 ἀντικρὺ κεχόλωται, ἕκαστα γὰρ οὔ νύ τι τέκμωρ
494 οὔτ' ἐμοί, οὔτε κεν ὔμμι διειρομένοισι πέλοιτο.
495 φῆ δὲ δύω πεδίον τὸ Ἀρήιον ἀμφινέμεσθαι
496 ταύρω χαλκόποδε, στόματι φλόγα φυσιόωντας.
497 τετράγυον δ' ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ἐφίετο νειὸν ἀρόσσαι:
498 δώσειν δ' ἐξ ὄφιος γενύων σπόρον, ὅς ῥ' ἀνίῃσιν
499 γηγενέας χαλκέοις σὺν τεύχεσιν: ἤματι δ' αὐτῷ
500 χρειὼ τούσγε δαΐξαι. ὃ δή νύ οἱ--οὔτι γὰρ ἄλλο
501 βέλτερον ἦν φράσσασθαι--ἀπηλεγέως ὑποέστην."

Next: line 502