Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/445

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Lines 295—326]
425
MEDEA.

another day.—Come!—I am in a hurry, the marriage ceremonies demand my presence—a joyful occasion, like this, involves the suitable prayers, vows and sacrifices to the God Hymenæus!


CHORUS.

The Chorus inveighs against the boldness of navigators, and sings to the effect that the principal navigators (the Golden Fleece expedition) have reaped the reward they so richly deserved for their daringness: singling out Medea.

Oh! thou too daring one, who first braved the dangers of the treacherous waves, in a vessel so frail, and whilst still retaining in sight the land thou hadst left behind thee, and entrusted thy life even to light winds, and ploughing the sea, steering a doubtful course—how could any man rely on a thin plank, with so insignificant a margin between the journeys of life and death! Not as yet had any man learned anything about the stars, he had never made any scientific use of the constellations with which the firmament is so thickly adorned, not as yet had his vessels been able to escape the stormy Hyades, (noted for the rains and tempests they give rise to at their rising and setting), nor was that constellation, the Olenian she-goat, understood (named from the town of Olenum in Achaia, at which place Jupiter was fed on goats' milk by Amalthea, who was subsequently made a constellation, Capella), nor was that slow-paced old waggoner Boötes known—the constellation that follows and guides the Arctic (Polar) Chariots—not as yet was Boreas or Zephyrus even known by any distinguishing name; at last Tiphys ventured to spread his sails over the vast ocean, and to lay down laws, and to point out in what way the winds would be available for the navigator—at one time to know when to put all his ropes on the stretch (hauled taut) with the sails amply spread out (full sail), at another time when to avail himself of the south wind, blowing athwart ships, by drawing his wide-spread sail down to the lowest point, where it is fastened to the ship's side (the lower part stretched aft, so as to expose as much spread of canvas as possible, to the wind, as it was blowing amidships, but regulating all this with the rudder, hard to port or starboard, as the case might be, that is whether he was steering east or west), at another time, when to haul down the yards half-mast (under snug canvas), then again, running the yards up to the highest point, when