Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/447

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427
MEDEA.

unsophisticated times, avaricious fraud being the last thing thought of. Every man, then, relying on ease and peace (as his summum bonum) kept close to his own shores, and did so, till he became old, confining himself to his fields and plains, rich with the little he possessed: he knew not, therefore sighed not for, any more wealth than what his own native soil afforded him! The Argonauts in the Thessalian Pine (The Argo) attempted the task of uniting what the far-seeingness of creation had wisely kept apart, and ordered the oars to be plied with vigorous strokes upon the surface of the ocean, and the sea was then selected to be made the fruitful factor of dread and forebodings, and the ship, Argo, brought upon us grievous sufferings, already having conducted its voyage through so many sources of alarm.—When the two mountains, one here, the other there, closing in the Euxine sea, driven together by a sudden collision, sound like a clap of thunder (from the sudden displacement of the air) and scatter the sea, which is forced upwards, into very clouds, towards the sides (by the same sudden displacement)—the bold Tiphys grew pale, and let go the helm from his feeble hands—Orpheus became silent and his lute was dumb—and Argo, herself lost her voice (from dread). (The Argo was said to have been prophetic, communicative and oracular, like the Dodonean Oak, in which were two hen doves, which gave responses. Some of the beams of the Argo were constructed of this oak, from which wood was derived her oracular power of warning those on board of her against approaching calamities.) What is this? They are all wondering, when the virgin of the Sicilian Pelorus presents herself! (Scylla the daughter of Phorcus,) surrounded by her girdle of rabid dogs, and she causes them all to bark at one time! Who would not have trembled all over his body, at such a phenomenon? What next to relate? When the dreadful pests, the Sirens, were charming the Ausonian Sea with their melodious strains, the Thracian Orpheus gave forth the sweet sounds from his Pierian Harp (given to him by his mother Calliope), and he almost compelled the bewitched Sirens to follow the Argo—those very Sirens who had always been accustomed to attract other navigators with their music, and detain their ships! And what was to be the crowning reward of all this?—the golden fleece, and Medea, a greater calamity than the sea itself, certainly a reward, worthy of the first ship that had ever rashly put to sea! Now the sea is brought under control, and obeys all the recognized rules of seamanship! No illustrious Argo built by the hands of a Minerva is now required with kings to man (handle)