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slaughter of the people. They sailed from hence to Salmydessus, a town in Thrace, (somewhat out of" their way,) wherein Phineus a soothsayer dwelt, who was blind and vexed with the harpies. The harpies were said to be a kind of birds, which had the faces of women and foul long claws, very filthy creatures, which when the table was furnished for Phineus, came flying in, and devouring or carrying away the greatest part of the victuals, did so defile the rest, that they could not be endured. When therefore the Argonauts craved his advice and direction for their voyage; you shall do well, (quoth he,) first of all to deliver me from the harpies, and then afterwards to ask my counsel. Whereupon they caused the table to be covered, and meat set on; which was no sooner set down, than that presently in came the harpies, and played their accustomed pranks; when Zetes and Calais the winged young men saw this, they drew their swords, and pursued them through the air; some say, that both the harpies and the young men died of weariness in the fight, and pursuit. But Apollonius saith, that the harpies did covenant with the youths, to do no more harm to Phineus, and were thereupon dismissed. For this good turn Phineus gave them informations of the way, and advertised them withal of the dangerous rocks, calledSymplegades, which, byforceof winds, running together, did shut up the passage; wherefore he. willed them to put a pigeon before them in the passage; and if that passed safe, then to adventure after her; if not, then by no means to hazard themselves in vain. They did so, and perceiving that the pigeon had only lost a piece of her tail, they observed the next opening of the rocks, and then rowing with all their might, passed through safe, only the end of the poop was bruised.
From thenceforward, (as the tale goeth,) the Symplegades have stood still; for the Gods, say they, had decreed that, after the passage of a ship, they should be fixed. Thence the Argonauts came to the Mariandyni, a people inhabiting about the month of the river Parthenius, where Lycus the king entertained them courteously. Here Idmon, a soothsayer of their company, was slain by a wild boar; also here Typhis died, and Ancaeus undertook to steer the ship. So they passed by the river Thermodon, and mount Caucasus, and came to the river Phasis, which runs through the land of Colchis. When they were entered the haven, Jason went to -5£etes the king of Colchis, and told him the commandment of Pelias, and cause of his coming; desiring him to deliver the golden fleece, which ^Eetes, as the fable goeth, promised to do, if he alone would yoke together two brazen-hoofed bulls, and, ploughing the ground with them, sow dragons teeth, which Minerva had given to him, being part of those which Cadmus did sow at Thebes. These bulls were great and fierce, and breathed out fire; Vulcan had given them to iEetes.
Whilst Jason was in a great perplexity about this task, Medaea, the daughter of iEetes, fell into a most vehement love of him, so far forth, that being excellent in magic, she -c&me privily to him, promising her help, if he would assure her of his marriage. To this Jason agreed, and confirmed his promise by oath. Then gave she to him a medicine, wherewith she bad him to anoint both his body and his armour, which would preserve him from their violence; further, she told him that armed men would arise out of the ground, from the teeth which he should sow, and set upon him. To remedy which inconvenience, she bid him throw stones amongst them, as soon as they came up thick, whereupon they would fall together to blows, in such wise that he might easily slay them. Jason followed her counsel; whereto, when the event had answered, he a^ain demanded the fleece. But iEetes was so far from approving such his desire, that he devised how to destroy the
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Argonauts, and burn their ship; which Medaea perceiving, went to Jason, and brought him by night to the fleece, which hung upon an oak in the grove of* Mars, where they say it was kept by a dragon, that never slept. This dragon was, by the magic of Medaea, cast into a sleep; so taking away the golden fleece, she went with Jason into the ship Argo j having with her, her brother Absyrtus.
iEetes understanding the practices of Medaea, provided to pursue the ship; whom when Medaea perceived to be at hand, she slew her brother, and cutting him in pieces, she scattered his limbs in divers places \ of which ^Eetes finding some, was fain to seek out the rest, and suffer his daughter to pass; the parts of his son he buried in a place, which thereupon he called Tomi; the Greek word signifieth division. Afterwards he sent many of his subjects to seek the ship Argo, threatening that if they brought not back Medaea, they should suffer in her stead. In the meanwhile the Argonauts Were driven about the seas, and were come to the river Eridanus, which is Po in Italy.
Jupiter, offended with the slaughter of Absyrtus, vexed them with a great tempest, and carried them they knew not whether. When they came to the islands Absyrtides, there the ship Argo, (that there might want no incredible thing in this fable,) spake to them, and said, that the anger of Jupiter should not cease till they came to Ausonia, and were cleansed by Circe from the murder of Absyrtus. Now they thereupon sailing between the coasts of Libya, and Gallia, and passing through the sea of Sardinia, and along the coast of Hetruria, came to the isle of JEea, wherein Circe dwelt, who cleansed them. Thence they sailed by the coast of the Syrens, who sung to allure them into danger; but Orpheus, on the other side, sung so well that he stayed them. Only Butes swam, out unto them, whom
Venus ravished, and carried to Lylibaeum in Sicily to dwell.
Having passed the Syrens, they came between Scylla and Charybdis, and the straggling rocks, which seemed to cast out great store of flames and smoke. Bat Thetis, andj the Nereides, conveyed them safe through, at the appointment of Juno. So they coasted Sieily, where the beeves of the sun were, and touched at Coreyra, the island of the Phaeaces, where king Alcinous reigned. Meanwhile the men of Colchis, that had been sent by JEetea, in quest of the Ship Argo, hearing no news of it, and fearing his anger if they fulfilled not his witt, betook themselves to new habitations; some of them dwelt in the mountains of Coreyra, others in the islands of Absyrtides, and some coming to the Phaeaces, there found the ship Argo, and demanded Medaea of Alcinous; whereunto Alcinous made answer, that if she were not Jason's wife, they should have her, but if she were already married, He would not take her from her husband. Arete, the Wife of Alcinous, hearing this, married them; wherefore, they of Colchis not daring to return home, stayed with the Phaeaces ; so the Argonauts' departed thence, and, after a while, came to Crete. In this- island Minos reigned, who had a man of brass given to him-, (as some of the fablers say,) by Vulcan. This man had one vein in his body, reaching from the neck to the heel, the end whereof Was closed up with a brasen nail; his name was Tafris ; his- custom was1 to run thrice a-day about the island, for the defence of it. When he saw the ship Argo pass-by, he threw stones at it; but Medaea with her magic destroyed him. Some say, that she iflew him by potions* which made him mad; others, that, promising to make him immortal, she drew out the nail that stopped his vein, by which means all his blood ran out, and he died; others there are that say, he was slain by Paean, who wounded him with an arrow in the heel. From hence the Argonauts sailed to Mg'ma, where they were fain to fight for fresh Water. And, lastly, from iEgina they sailed by Euboea and Locris, home to Iolchos, where they arrived, having spent four whole months in the expedition.
Some there are, that by this journey of Jason, understand the mystery of the philosopher's stone, called the golden fleece; to which also other superfine chemists draw the twelve labours of Hercules. Suidas thinks, that, by the golden fleece, was meant a golden book of parchment, which is of sheep's skin, and therefore called golden, because it was taught thereinhow othermetalsmight be transmuted. Others would signify, by Jason, wisdom and moderation, which overcometh all perils: but that which is most probable, is the opinion of Dercilus, that the story of such a passage was true, and that Jason with the rest went indeed to rob Colchis, to which they might arrive by boat. For not far from Caucasus, there are certain steep falling torrents, which wash down many grains of gold, as in many other parts of the world; and the people there inhabiting, use to set many fleeces of wool in those descents of waters, in which , the grains of gold remain, and the water passeth through; which Strabo witnesseth to be true. The many rocks, straits, sands, and currents, in the passage between Greece and the bottom of Pontus, are poetically converted into those fiery bulls, the armed men rising out of the ground, the dragon cast asleep, and the like. The man of brass, the Syrens, Scylla and Charybdis, were other hazards and adventures which they fell into in the Mediterranean sea, disguised, as the rest, by Orpheus, under poetical morals ; all which Homer afterwards used, (the man of brass excepted,) in the description of Ulysses's travels on the same inland seas.