VALERIUS FLACCUS 8
 

VALERIUS FLACCUS INDEX

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 1

1. Jason & King Pelias
2. Assembly of the Argonauts
3. Death of Aeson

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 2

1. Women of Lemnos
2. Hercules & the Sea Monster
3. The Hellespont

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 3

1. Cyzicus
2. Hylas & the Naiads

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 4

1. Wresling of Amcyus
2. Phineus & the Harpies
3. The Clashing Rocks

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 5

1. The Black Sea
2. Jason & King Aeetes

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 6

1. Colchian-Scythian War
2. Hera & the Love of Medea

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 7

1. Jason & Medea
2. Jason & the Bronze Bulls

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 8

1. Theft of the Golden Fleece
2. Marriage of Jason & Medea
3. Absyrtus' Pursuit

ARGONAUTICA BOOK 8, TRANSLATED BY J. H. MOZLEY

[1] But Medea in her chamber, trembling and terror-struck now at what she has done, is encompassed by all her father’s threatening rage; no fear has she any more of the dark ocean, no land seems far off to the wretched girl; over any waters whatever is she now fain to flee, any ship whatever would she climb. Then in tears she kissed for the last time her virgin fillets, and embracing the bed she was leaving first tore her hair and her cheeks amid the traces of her former slumbers, and pressing her face upon the couch uttered these piteous groans: “Alas, my father, would thou couldst give me a thousand last kisses ere I fly! Would, Aeetes, that thou couldst see the tears (ah, look!) that I am shedding! Nay think it not, father; I love not him whom I follow more than thee; oh, that I were drowned with him in the rolling waves! But thou, I pray, mayst thou long hereafter rule this land in peaceful old age, and be happier in thy other offspring!”

[16] She spoke, and took forth from the death-burdened caskets the hidden drugs that her Haemonian lord should never have spurned,1 and fills with the poisons her virgin bosom and even her necklace, and adds a sharp sword to the rest. Then, as though stung by the Furies’ twisted lash, she darts forth: even as Ino2 horror-stricken leaps into the sea, nor in her panic remembers the tiny babe she carries; her spouse strikes the far end of Isthmus – baffled.

[24] And now weighed down by care the hero had come first to the grove, and stood concealed within its sacred night, yet star-like shone ever his youthful countenance afar. Even as the Latmian hunter, while his comrades are yet scattered in troops about the glens, rests in the summer shade, fit lover for a goddess, and soon the Moon comes with veiled horns: so doth the prince fill the wood with his rosy beauty, such the mistress he awaits. But lo! the girl, like a frightened dove, that caught in the vast shadow of a hawk falls trembling on some man, no matter who he be, so doth she fling herself into his arms driven by strong fear; but he took her to him, and spoke first with word of soothing comfort: “O thou whose coming shall bring great glory to my home, O maiden who alone hast proved reason well worthy of such a voyage, no longer ask I for any fleece, thou art my ship’s sufficient prize. Yet come, add this too, since thou hast he power, to thy bounty and thy kindness; for command was laid on me to take back the golden pelt; its glory touches my comrades too.”

[44] So says he, and humbly lays a light kiss upon her hand. Sobbing afresh the girl made answer: “For thy sake I am leaving my father’s house and all the wealth of my kinsfolk, nor speak I now as princess any more, but deserting thrones I follow my heart’s desire; keep with the exile that word that thou first (ay, well thou knowest it) didst give her. The gods are present to our speech, and these stars regard both thee and me; with thee will I brave the seas and all the ways that we may travel, if but no chance wrest me from thee and bring me back hither and force me upon my father’s gaze; so pray I to the gods above, and to thee too, O stranger.”

[54] So saying she passes with rapid, frenzied step through the pathless places; he clings to her side and pities her as she goes, when suddenly amid the clouds he sees a mighty flame and the darkness quivering with angry gleams of light. “Why glows the heaven so, what is that baleful star?” he asks; and the maiden thus makes answer to his fear: “It is the eyes and angry glare of the dragon himself thou seest; from his crest shoot those quivering flashes, and at me alone doth he gaze in fear, and as of wont of his own accord he summons me, and with fawning tongue asks me for food. Come tell me now, wouldst thou rob him of the fleece while he wakes and can see his foe, or shall I steep his eyes in drowse and so deliver unto thee the serpent subdued?” The other is silent, such shuddering awe of the maiden has mastered him.

[67] And now the Colchian had stretched upward to the stars her hands that bare the wand, and pouring forth spells in barbaric rhythm was calling to thee, O father Sleep. “All-powerful Sleep, from all the quarters of the world do I the maid of Colchis summon thee and bid thee descend upon the snake alone; oft with thy horn3 have I subdued waves and clouds and lightning brands and all that gleams in heaven; but now, now come to my aid with mightier influence, most like thy brother Death. And thou too, faithful warden of Phrixus’ beast, it is time at last to turn thy vision away from this duty of thine. What guile dost thou fear while I am beside thee? For a space I will guard the grove myself, meantime lay by thy long toil.”

[79] He brooks not to leave the Aeolian gold through weariness nor to surrender his eyes, fain though he be, to permitted slumber; and when the first wafting of drowse assailed him, he shuddered and shook off from his body the beguiling sleep. But on her side the Colchian ceases not to foam with hellish poisons and to sprinkle all the silences of Lethe’s bough: exerting her spells she constrains his reluctant eyes, exhausting all her Stygian power of hand and tongue, until sleep gains the mastery over his blazing ire. And now the high crest sinks, now the head is nodding overpowered and the huge neck has slipped from around the fleece it guarded, like refluent Po or Nile that sprawls in seven streams or Alpheus when his waters enter the Hesperian word.4

[92] Medea herself, when she saw the head of her dear serpent on the ground, darted forward and flinging her arms about him wept alike for her charge and her own cruelty. “Not so wert thou when in deep night bringing the holy offerings and thy food I saw thee, nor such was I when I placed the honey-cakes in thy open mouth and faithfully led thee with my potions. In what gross bulk thou liest now! how sluggish a breathing holds thy inert frame! Yet at least, hapless once, I slew thee not! Alas! how cruel the daylight thou shalt endure! Soon shalt thou see no fleece, no gleaming offerings in the shadow of thy tree. Give place then, spend thine old age in other groves, forgetting me, I pray; nor let thy deadly hissing chase me from sea to sea. But thou too, son of Aeson, put by all tarrying, seize the fleece and hie thee. My noxious art has quenched my father’s bulls, has laid low the earth-born: lo! there lies the dragon’s body at thy feet, and at last – I hope, at last – I have accomplished all my deadly deeds.”

[109] Then when the hero asked by what way he should climb aloft to the summit of the gold-freighted tree: “Courage,” she cries, “go climb the serpent himself, and set thy footsteps on his back, there in thy path!” With no delay the child of Cretheus trusts her word and scales the ash tree, high though it soar, where still the branches guarded the skin of ruddy hue, like to illumined cloud or to Iris when she ungirds her robe and glides to meet glowing Phoebus. Jason snatches the longed-for prize and the final fruit of toil, and scarce did the tree give up the memorial of the flight of Phrixus, its year-long burden, but it uttered a groan and gloomy darkness closed in upon it. Forth thy go by the fields, seeking the highest point of the river-mouth; the whole landscape flashes while the hero now wraps about his body the fleece with its starry tufts of hair, now shifts it to his neck, now folds it upon his left arm. In such wise went the Tirynthian from the Inachian caves of Nemea, still fitting the lion to his head and to his shoulders. But when his comrades, who had gained the appointed river-mouth, saw him through the dark distance flashing all golden, the Haemonian crew sent forth a cheer; joyfully the vessel too moves to the nearest bank to greet the youth. Swiftly he comes, and hurls the golden fleece before him, then with the bewildered maiden leaps on board the ship, and stands triumphant spear in hand.

[133] Meantime her sire was shuddering at the cruel news that reached his ear: the doom of his house, the mourning, his daughter’s crafty flight. Thereupon of a sudden her ill-fated brother springs to arms, soon all the city gathers, Aeetes himself flies here and there, forgetful of his years, the shores are filled with war’s array; in vain, for the ship is away, full-sailed before the wind.

[140] Her mother was still stretching out her hands towards the sea, her sister too and all the other matrons and young brides of Colchis, and the maidens who were thy peers, Medea. Above all rings out her mother’s voice as she fills the air with her wailings: “Stop thy flight, turn back hither thy vessel from mid-sea; thou canst my daughter. Whither goest thou?” she cries; “here are all thy folk, and thy father, not yet angry; this thy land, thy kingdom. Why trustest thou thyself alone to Achaea? What place hast thou there, a stranger among Inachian maidens? Lies there thy home of thy desire, the wedlock thou awaitest? Is this the day I prayed my old age might see? Ah, would that like a bird I could rend with hooked talons the very face of that brigand, and hover above his ship and with loud cry demand my daughter back again! To the Albanian prince was she betrothed, not to thee; no compact made her unhappy parents with thee, Aesonides; by no such ruse doth Pelias bid thee escape, or rob the Colchians of their daughters. Keep the fleece, take aught else that our temples hold.

[158] “But why accuse I thus any man with undeserved complaint? She herself willed to flee, and avows (ah, horror!) the passion that consumes her. That then was the cause, unhappy girl (for each thing now do I recall), why, ever since the Thessalian oars drew nigh the shore, no feasting, no seasons gave thee pleasure. No colour hadst thou then, thy voice was faint, thy glance wandered, and thy face ever feigned the joy it showed. Why was not so dire a plague revealed to me, that Jason might have taken his place as a son-in-law in our palace, and that thou mightest not have stooped to a flight so base? Or at least we might now have shared all the crime between us, and were voyaging no matter where together; gladly should we both be seeking Thessaly and the city, whate’er its name, of the cruel stranger.”

[171] So spake her mother, and her sister filled everything with like complaints, shrieking aloud; with them the handmaidens raise cries of last farewell and scatter words upon the empty breeze, as by name they call mistress back again; but the winds and thine own destinies were bearing thee far away.

[175] Then by night and by day do they speed: more grateful was the breeze to the homeward-bound, and familiar were the shores that flew past the Minyae, when suddenly Erginus spoke thus from the lofty poop: “Ye all, Aesonides, content with the rape of the fleece, reck not what path, what hazard lies ahead. For to-morrow’s light summons us to the confines of the angry sea and to the Dark-blue Rocks, and I recall, O Tiphys, reverend sire, thy sore-won passage through those cliffs. Friends, we must change our path; another egress from the main must we win, and we must take the way that I will tell you. Not far from hence is the mighty outlet of Scythian Hister, who pours forth his streams, as we hear, by not one horn alone; by seven channels doth he flow forth, seven doors doth he fling open wide. Right up into his mouth now let us sail, into the waves that leftward fall into the main; then we shall follow the river’s course itself, till with sure stream it bear us onward and guide us to another sea. Hark to me, Jason, hold all delays worth while, so thou encounter not those rocks nor break through the Cyanean mountains a second time; that suffices me: lo! Argo returneth not with poop unharmed.” 5

[195] So said he, ignorant that the boulders now stood fast by power divine, and that cliff crashed never more on cliff. Aesonides replied: “Not vain the fears that assail thee, faithful helmsman, nor refuse I go by the longer road, nor to show myself to all lands as I return.” Forthwith they wheel and seek other kings and other places, and the sea that knows full well the nomad wains.

[202] Away on the summit of the poop behind the vigilant steersman Medea clung to the knees of Minerva’s gilded image; there sitting with her robe cast about her eyes she still was weeping, solitary, though she journeyed with the Haemonian princes, and unsure of the wedlock that was to be. For her the coasts of the Sarmatian sea feel pity, for her, as she sails by, Diana weeps where Thoas6 ruled. No lake, no river of Scythia but mourns for her as she passes; the sight of her, who late was queen of so many realms, stirred the Hyperborean snows; even the Minyae now cease their murmuring, and now consent to take her. Scarce lifts she her head at close, if ever, of some feast that her dear Jason spreads himself, while he points out that now they pass Carambis with its pall of cloud, now Lycus’ kingdom, and as oft beguiles her sighs by bidding her stand to see the hills of Thessaly.7

[217] An island, called Peuce from the name of the Sarmatian nymph, stands where Hister, savage stream, whose either bank is ever terrible, flows down through his wild nurslings to the sea; on its shore the leader was bold at length to end what cares remained, and first to tell his companions of his treaty and plighted troth of marriage and the bridal compact; they all with joy unfeigned urge him thereto, and praise her worthiness. He begins to raise an altar to Pallas, now displeased,8 and not to spurn the godhead of the Idalian queen, and if ever he was comely, never more brilliantly shone his comeliness among the Minyae than on his marriage-day: like unto Gradivus was he, when he comes in triumph from blood-stained Hebrus and steals into Idalium or beloved Cythera; or when Alcides has leisure at last to visit the heavenly banquet, and Hebe, child of Juno, sustains his weary form.

[232] Venus smiled upon the lovers, and Cupid with his pleadings roused Aeetes’ daughter from the gloomy thoughts that vexed her; Cytherea clothes the girl with her own robe of saffron texture, and gives her her own twofold9 coronal and the jewels destined to burn upon another bride. Then did a new beauty inform her features, her yellow tresses received the tiring that was due to them, and she moved without a thought of ill. So when the holy Almo washes away Mygdonian sorrows,10 and Cybele now is glad and festal torches gleam in the city streets, who would think that cruel wounds have lately gushed in the temples? or when of the votaries themselves remember them?

[243] Then, when Jason came to the altar of sacrifice with his bride, and together they drew nigh and together began to pray, Pollux proffered fire and nuptial water, and both together turn rightward in a circle.11 But no bright flame then won its way upward through the odorous air, nor does Mopsus see concord in the frankincense or lasting troth, but a brief term of love. Both of them doth he hate,12 and both at the same time pity, nor any more desires he children for thee, barbarian maid. Then they prepare the feast and the sacrifice; an easy chase brings the prizes of the woodland in abundance to the revellers; some cook the quarry on spits, some in bubbling cauldrons. Then upon grassy mounds they take their places for the banquet, where once within her bower Hister had caught the panting Peuce to his breast. Midmost of them all in rosy radiance of youth the pair recline on a loftier couch and upon the gold of their own fleece.

[259] What new alarm impeded the nuptials just begun, and disturbed the couches and interrupted the still glowing sacrifice? Absyrtus in hot haste with his father’s swift-assembled fleet draws nigh, and shakes a threatening torch at the escaping Greeks and with clamour assails his terrible sister: “On with you, Colchians, if ye have any grief or anger, hasten speed! No Jove is he, this ravisher flying o’er the sea, no false bull’s tracks do we pursue. The robber takes with him in his ship (ah, villainous deed!) the fleece of Phrixus; he returns with the girl, taking what path he pleases, and left us (ah, shame!) our houses and walls still standing. What will satisfy me, then? I seek not the fleece, nor do I take thee, sister, as his gift; no thought have I of treaty, nor set I a limit to my wrath. Could I so soon return thereafter to my father’s presence? Ha! would fifty lives and the sinking of one ship suffice to appease me? Thou, treacherous Greece, thou art my quarry, against thy walls do I shake this brand; nor thee, sister, do I thy brother fail at these high nuptials; nay, look, I am the first to bring my torch and wave it at thy wedding, the first to celebrate the marriage rites; I indeed was able: pardon, I pray, our sire’s grey hairs.13 Verily all the rest, senate and folk alike, are with me here, that thou, the royal daughter of the mighty Sun, mightest not in despicable state approach the chamber of thy Haemonian lord; so large a fleet did it beseem us to assemble, so many torches to illume.”

[295] He spoke, and once more praying men and winds went himself in haste entreating them along the ship’s thwarts and the benches of the late-recruited rowers, and spreads banners before the new helmsmen. With leafy poles the men churn up the water, and the tree that in one day had hurriedly been shaped and but now rolled down from its mountain (what could not the bitter wrath of men of old accomplish?) is distant now by no long reach of sea, and the barbarian vessel follows the flying ship of Pallas, until they see the mouths of Danube and green Peuce lying before the mouth, and recognise the yard-tips of Argo’s mast. Then indeed all raise the exulting war-cry, then louder is the plash of oars, when Argo has been sighted afar, and all the prows make for one ship alone. Styrus, foremost of all, seizes a ship’s hook of knotted oak and looks forward from the distant wave, kindled once again by thought of marriage and desire for his betrothed. And now others are bringing forth shields and spear-shafts for their hands to wield, others with smeared pitch are arming firebrands for the fight. Impatient of delay the lances are quivering, nor remains there too long a stretch of sea to deny the javelin-throw. Meanwhile their shouts are urgent, and yelling they beat upon the deck planks with their feet.

[306] When the Minyae saw the suddenly-appearing fleet and the seas gleaming with torches, they rise in manifold alarm, and first their leader, leaving the maiden, leaps upon the poop and towering there snatches his helmet from the spear-point; from sword at once and shield flashes light; nor are the rest of the crew more slow to seize their weapons and form upon the beach. But thou, Medea – how then did thy crimes appear to thee? What shame didst thou feel, seeing the Colchians and thy brother once more, and all that thou, safe at last, hadst deemed cut off by the broad ocean? Therefore did she hide herself in that ill-omened bower, resolved on naught else but death, whether her dear Jason fall, or her brother be slain by a Grecian spear.

[318] But not so slothfully sits Juno in the height of heaven, nor suffers she the Minyae to decide the issue by battle, because she sees them unequal to the Colchians both in ships and men. So when the goddess perceives the hostile fleet advancing, she comes herself to earth, and unbars the dwelling of winds and storms. Out bursts the turbulent tribe of swift-winged brethren, with her right hand the Saturnian points out the fleet. They saw, and straightway all together with angry cry swoop down upon one sea, all else neglected, and make the waters unfriendly to the Colchians and set billows rolling towards them from the shore.

[328] Styrus14 is tossed aloft and carried away among the Minyae and the sails of Argo; again, he sinks down in the vast abyss, flung back by the precipitous wave. And now every vessel is flung back and forth to the stars and down again as the waters sink; some are swallowed by the abyss, others are driven by all the violence of the flood; on every side terror flashes full in their faces, heaven falls in torrents and loosens the barriers of the sky.

[335] Yet the red-hot fury of Styrus will not yield; in the midst of the battle of the gods he exhorts his men: “Shall then the Colchian take my dowry to what towns she will? Shall a Haemonian adulterer supplant me? and amid so many kings and suitors shall the favouring judgment of her unhesitating sire have availed me naught? Or is his worth set above mine, and is he whom she follows the braver man? I would yoke fire-breathing bulls without enchantments, and pursue the savage offspring of the Echionian serpent with the sword. Nay, watch from this shore the combat of us twain, thou shalt be the victor’s; soon shalt thou see a fight worth watching, and that head so dear to thee soon sink beneath the bloodstained waves, and the body of the Achaean eunuch and his tresses perfumed not with myrrh but with pitch and flames and sulphur. Do ye, waves, but cast me even alone upon the shore – then thou, father Aeetes, shalt not be ashamed of thy son-in-law, nor thou, O mighty Sun. Am I wrong? or is she now herself moving these winds by magic spells against us, and with her dread tongue raising this towering sea? Is Jason saved by her wonted art once more? Naught shall songs and futile mutterings avail him. Onward, ye ships, and crush the billows of a girl!?

[356] He spoke, and leapt forward as his warrior comrades whirled their oars; but the vessel, weakened by the returning wave, breaks up and pours forth her crew and himself, hurling threats even then and making for the shore with arm upraised. Shipwrecked as he was, he made way with armour and drawn sword, and he begins to look for the oars and strewn benches of the foundered vessel, and to call in despairing tones to the lofty poops, but amid such rollers none can aid him, nor were any fain to help; and so oft as he draws nigh, another sea sunders him again. Yet now is he above the surface, and now he vanishes, once again violently struggling he rises from the depths, but a wave is upon him, and in a mighty whirlpool buries him beneath a mountain of water, and at last he gave up his claim to the maiden.

[369] Absyrtus is downcast with grief at the bitter sight. Now what can he do? By what power is he to seize the harbour and the river-mouth? How attack the Minyae? for he sees them cut off, and avows it with cries of rage; the seas fight against him and the savage tempest, and the ocean, all one swirling whirlpool. At length he turned away, calming his fruitless wrath, and withdrew from the vessel’s awful fate. Then with his comrades he makes for the left coast15 and the fronting shore of Peuce far away (for a double bend of Danube sunders the islet from the land); here in their anchorage have long been waiting the Minyae and the ship Pagasae, there the Aeetian hero leads up his fleet to besiege the Thessalian camp, eager to fight. Yet no chance of battle is given him; night and day the waters seethe with mighty billows between them, till Juno’s schemes work themselves out and her anxious care set some ending to the war.

[385] But the Minyae, as they ponder the issue of so bitter a fight, all assail and weary the son of Aeson with protests and entreaties. Why does he expose them, entrapped thus, for a foreign woman’s sake? why compel them to court such perils? Let him regard the more numerous lives, the nobler destinies of so many comrades who are following him over the sea, not through promptings of frenzy or unhallowed desire, but through gallantry alone. Or have they come that one only may indulge the joys of wedlock and stolen nuptials? A fitting time, indeed! For the Greeks the fleece were enough, and to be able to end the war by giving up the maiden. Let him suffer each to seek his home, nor let this Fury16 first pit Europe against Asia in bloody war. For this was what the Fates decreed, as Mopsus sang in supplication and fear, that that quarrel should rather pass to their latest offspring and another ravisher17 expiate so dire a conflagration.

[400] He, groaning deeply and overborne by cries so importunate, though law divine and the binding sanctity of the holy vow and the first sweet beginnings of wedlock urge him on, yet tarries and would fain fight, and bethinks him of her who shares his peril18 . . . no further does he resist his companions. When the heroes were thus decided, they wait for quiet waves and a favouring moment; Medea herself meanwhile they suffer to be ignorant of what is in store, and keep unspoken their cruel counsels.

[408] But unhappy love arouses fears, oft vain indeed, yet often real, nor suffers the maiden for all her tender years to be deceived. Nay, she herself first took hint of guile and marked the signs, how subtle soever, that her husband was no longer true, and the unwonted silence of his comrades. Yet was she never forgetful of herself nor dismayed by sudden signs of danger, but first questioned him alone, and drawing him aside she thus begins: “Do the gallant Minyae discuss me too by day and by night with thee, my husband? Let me learn at length thereof, if I be not the captive of thy Pelian bark nor a slighted handmaid in her master’s train, if I be suffered to hear your counsels. No fears have I, my faithful spouse, yet pity me, and let our plighted marriage endure at least to the harbours of Thessaly, and spurn me only in thine own house. Thou knowest at any rate that thou hast sworn to me, and not thy comrades. They perchance might justly give me up, but thou hast no such power. Nay, I will drag thee with me; not I only, the guilty maid, am demanded back again; on this ship we all alike have fled.

[427] “Or is it my brother’s threats and my country’s ships of war that terrify thee? Is the foe too mighty for thy powers? Suppose yet other vessels and still mightier armaments were gathering? Hast thou no confidence? Am I worth no dangers? Have I not deserved that thou and thy men should face death for me? Would indeed that they had reached my father’s shores without thee, that another, no matter who, had been their leader. But as it is they return, and look! (O shame!) they bid thee give up – me! And that is their sole hope! Nay, at least listen to my counsels, and yield not to thy companions’ needless terror. Who believed then that thou couldst yoke the fiery bulls, or couldst venture to the precinct of the fierce serpent? Would then that my love were not able to do all things for thy sake, but doubted even a little! Nay, now too I ask what thou commandest. Alas! cruel one, art thou silent? Is there a dread menace in that shame of thine? Were it right for me – O son of Aeson, once so noble! – for me to offer prayers, and wear a suppliant aspect? Not this now is my father thinking, or that I am being punished for wrongdoing and enduring a master’s frowns.”

[444] So spoke she, and while the hero strove to answer she fled away in a mad fury, crying aloud upon him. Like a Thyiad when Bacchic frenzy dries her to the Ogygian hills and dashes her against Aonian trees, so was she then, so madly raged the maiden upon the thwarts, in fear of all that might befall: she flees the brandished spears of threatening giants, in terror she flees from fiery bulls . . . if she could but see Pagasae at last or the clouds upon Pelion or Tempe’s glittering haze, at that sight content to die. Then all day is spent in weeping and complaint, and alone beneath the stars she makes the same lament, as though that night were full of the dismal howling of wolves, and savage lions were hungrily roaring or cows lowed sadly for their lost ones . . . No pride of race shines forth, no glory of the mighty Sun her grandsire, no brilliance of barbaric youth, as when in triumph she bore the fleece that once gleamed upon the Chaonian tree, and amid the mighty names of Greece stood a second virgin upon Pallas’ prow . . .

[464] He hestitates; on one side urgent shame, on the other the stern counsels of his men sway him. Yet as best he may he tries to soothe her as she sobs, sobbing himself the while, and calms her anger by his words: “Thinkest thou that I had fear of aught? that such is my wish? . . . “

THE END

1. The poet is looking forward to the time when Jason’s desertion of Medea shows that he despises her magic.
2. Fleeing from Athamas, her husband, she leapt with her small son Palaemon into the sea by the Isthmus of Corinth, and the blow that Athamas dealt at her fell upon the Isthmus. Some explain “ferit” by “stamps with his feet upon.”
3. Sleep is described as pouring drowsiness from his horn by Statius, Theb. 2. 144, 5. 199 and Silius, Pun. 10. 352.
4. The point of the contrast is probably in the slackening of the stream of these rivers when beaten back by the sea or dispersed into a delta or merged in ocean as compared with the slackening of the serpent’s ardour.
5. It was slightly damaged by the Clashing Rocks, cf. 4. 691.
6. King of the Tauric Chersonese where Diana had her shrine.
7. He pretends that they have already reached their destination.
8. Presumably because Jason had become involved in a love affair with Medea, the consequences of which she foresaw.
9. Valerius perhaps has in mind the Virgilian “duplicem gemmis auroque coronam” (Aen. 1. 655).
10. The festival of Cybele, the Great Mother, on March 27th (Ovid, Fasti 4. 337); the image of the goddess was washed in the Almo, a tributary of the Tiber.

11. This was a Roman custom at the conclusion of a sacrifice; a sacrifice was usually performed at some stage of a Roman marriage, and the bride was received by her husband with fire and water, probably symbolising either purification or welcome (cf. “interdicere aqua et igni”).
12. As objects of divine displeasure as shown in the sacrifice.
13. Absyrtus ironically asks pardon for Aeetes who was too old to attend his daughter’s nuptials.
14. What is said by the poet of Styrus must, it seems, be understood of his ship.
15. There seems to be an inconsistency between this passage and 188, where Erginus says he must make for the left-hand channel (“laevum latus”); here Absyrtus also goes to the “sinistrum latus,” which is opposite to that occupied by the Argonauts. The poet is perhaps confusing the left as seen from the open sea with the left bank of the river.
16. Medea is so called in reminiscence of the Virgilian passage (Aen. 2. 573), in which Helen is called the Fury of her country (“Troiae et patriae communis Erinys”).
17. Paris, who by his death pays for the ruin of his country, taking “tam dira incendia” to refer to the burning of Troy; but if the poet intends it to refer to the theft of the fleece and of Medea, “luret” may mean that he avenges it.
18. The sense required for the hiatus is: “but, as the crew still urge him . . . “

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