Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Sect. VII.

Qf Abimelech, Tholan, and Jair, and the Lapithce, and of Theseus, Hippolytus, 8gc.

After the death of Gideon, Abimelech's base son, begotten on a concubine of the Sechemites, remembering what offers had been made to his father by the people, who desired to make him and his their perpetual princes; and, as it seemeth, supposing, (notwithstanding his father's religious modesty,) that some of his brethren might take on them the sovereignty, practised with the inhabitants of Sechem, (of which his mother was native,) to make election of himself; who, being easily moved with the glory to have a king of their own, readily condescended; and the better to enable Abimelech, they borrowed seventy pieces of silver of their idol Baalberith', with which treasure he hired a company of loose and desperate vagabonds, to assist his first detestable enterprise, viz. the slaughter of his seventy brethren, the sons of Gideon, begotten on his wives, of which he had many ; of all which, none escaped but Jotham*, the youngest, who hid himself from his present fury; all which he executed on one stone; a cruelty exceeding all that hath been written of in any age. Such is human ambition, a monster that neither feareth God, (though all-powerful, and whose revenges are without date and for everlasting,) neither hath it respect to nature, which laboureth the preservation of every being; but it rageth also against her, though garnished with beauty which never dieth, and with love that hath no end. All other passions and affections, by which the souls of men are tormented, are by their contraries oftentimes resisted or qualified. But ambition, which begetteth every vice, and is itself the child and darling of Satan, looketh only towards the ends by itself set down, forgetting nothing,

1 Judg. iz. 4. 2 Judg. is. 5.

(how fearful and inhuman soever,) which may serve it; remembering notliing, whatsoever justice, piety, right, or religion, can offer and allege on the contrary. It ascribeth the lamentable effects of like attempts to the error or weakness of the undertakers, and rather praiseth the adventure, than feareth the like success. It was the first sin that the world had, and began in angels; for which they were cast into hell, without hope of redemption. It was more ancient than man, and therefore no part of his natural corruption. The punishment also preceded his creation ; yet hath the devil, which felt the smart thereof, taught him to forget the one, as out of date, and to practise the other, as befitting every age, and man's condition.

Jotham, the youngest of Gideon's sons, having escaped the present peril, sought, by his best persuasions, to alienate the Sechemites, from the assisting of this merciless tyrant; lettingthem know, that those which were virtuous, and whom reason and religion had taught the safe and happy estate of moderate subjection, had refused to receive as unlawful, what others had not power to give, without direction from the King of Kings; who, from the beginning, (as to • his own peculiar people,) had appointed them by whom and how to be governed. This he taught them by the olive, which contented itself with its fatness, the fig-tree with sweetness, and the vine with the ood juice it had; the bramble only, who was most ase, cut down all the rest, and accepted the sovereignty. He also foretold them, by a prophetical spirit, what should befal then) in the end, and how a fire should come out of the bramble, and consume the cedars of Lebanon.

Now, (as it is an easy matter to call those men back, whom rage without right led on,) Gaal the son of Ebed withdrew the citizens of Sechem from the service of Abimelech; who, therefore, after some as. saults, enteredthp place, and mastered it; and in conelusion fired the town, wherein their idol Baalberith was worshipped, and put all the people of all sorts to the slaughter. Lastly, in the assault of the castle or tower of Teber, himself was wounded in the head with a stone thrown over the wall by a woman; and finding himself mortally bruised, he commanded his own page to pierce his body, thereby to avoid the dishonour of being slain by so feeble a hand.

While Abimelech usurped the government, the Lapithae and Centaurs made war against the Thebans. These nations were descended of Apollo, and were the first in those parts that devised to manage horses, to bridle and to sit them; insomuch as, when they first came down from the mountains of Pindus, into the plains, those who had never seen horsemen before, thought them creatures compounded of men and horses; so did the Mexicans3, when Ferdinando Cortes, the Spaniard, first invaded that empire. After the death of Abimelech, Thola or Issachar overned Israel twenty-three years; and after him air, the Gileadite, twenty-two years, who seemeth to be descended of Jair, the son of Manasseh, who, in Moses's time, conquered a great part of Gilead, and called the same after his own name, Haboth Jair4. For to this Jair there remained thirty of those cities5, which his ancestor had recovered from the Amorites. Of these judges, because there is nothing else written, it is an argument, that, during all their times, Israel lived without disturbance, and in peace.

When Jair judged Israel, Priamus began to reign in Troy, who at such time as Hercules sacked Ilium, was carried away captive with his sister Hesione into Greece ; and being afterwards redeemed for ransom, he rebuilt, and greatly strengthened and adorned Troy; and so far enlarged his dominions, as he became the supreme lord in effect of all Asia the Less. He married Hecuba, the daughter of Cisseus,

8 Pilsephatus, 1. i. de incredib. ♦ Deut iii. II. Numb, xii. tU

6 Judg. X.

king of Thrace, and had in all, (saith Cicero6,) fifty sons, whereof seventeen by Hecuba, of whom Paris was one; who, attempting to recover his aunt Hesione, took Helena, the wife of Menelaus, the cause of the war which followed.

Theseus, the tenth king of Athens, began likewise to reign in the beginning of Jair; some writers call him the son of Neptune and iEthra; but Plutarch, in the story of his life, finds him begotten of iEgeus, of whom the Grecian sea between it and Asia the Less took name. For when Minos had mastered the Athenians, so far as he forced them to pay him seven of their sons every year for tribute, whom he enclosed within a labyrinth, to be devoured by the monster Minotaur; because belike, the sons of Taurus, which he begat on Pasiphae the queen, had the charge of them ; among these seven, Theseus thrust himself, not doubting by his valour to deliver the rest, and to free his country of that slavery, occasioned for the death of Androgeus, Minos's son.

And having possessed himself of Ariadne's affection, who was Minos's daughter, he received from her a bottom of thread, by which he conducted himself through all the crooked and inextricable turnings of the labyrinth, made in all like that of the city of crocodiles in Egypt; by means whereof) having slain the Minotaur, he found a ready way to return. But whereas his father iEgeus had given order, that if he came back with victory and with safety, he should use a white sail in sign thereof, and not that mournfulblack sail, under which they left the port of Athens ;—this instruction being either forgotten or neglected, iEgeus descrying the ship of Theseus with a black sail, cast himself over the rocks down into the sea, afterwards called of his name iEgeum.

One of the first famous acts of Theseus, was the killing of Scyron, who kept a passage between

S In Tusc.

Megara and the Peloponnesian Isthmus, and threw all whom he mastered into the sea, from the high rocks. Afterwards he did the like to Cercyon, by wrestling, who used by that art to kill other3. He also rid the country of Procrustes, who used to bend down the strong limbs of two trees, and fastened by cords such as he took, part of them to one, and part to the other bough, and by their springing up tore them asunder. So did be root out Periphetes, and other mischievous thieves and murderers. He overthrew the army of the Amazons, who after many victories and vastations, entered the territory of Athens. Theseus having taken their queen Hippolyta prisoner, begat on her Hippolytus; with whom afterwards his mother-in-law Phaedra falling in love, and he refusing to abuse his father's bed, Phaedra persuaded Theseus that his son offered to force her; after which it is feigned, that Theseus besought Neptune to revenge this wrong of his son's, by some violent death. Neptune, taking a time of advantage, sent out his sea-calves, as Hip

Solytus passed by the sea-shore, and so affrighted his orses, as casting the coach over, he was, (by being intangled therein,) torn in pieces; which miserable and undeserved destiny, when Phaedra had heard of, she strangled herself. After which it is feigned, that Diana entreated iEsculapius to set Hippolytus's pieces together, and to restore him to lire; which done, because he was chaste, she led him with her . into Italy, to accompany her in her hunting and field sports.

It is probable that Hippolytus, when his father sought his life, thinking to escape by sea, was affronted thereat, and received many wounds in forcing his passage and escape; which wounds iEsculapius, to wit, some skilful physician or chirurgeon, healed again; after which he passed into Italy, where he lived with Diana, that is, the life of a hunter, in which he most delighted. But of those ancient profane stories,

« AnteriorContinuar »