Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/471

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contributed these poisonous specimens, lofty Pindus this! And this one is from the summits of Pangæus, and I see it has drooped its tender head, at the approach of the blood-stained pruning-knife! Well! The banks of the Tigris with its deep rapids, has reared this gem of a poison! This one comes from the Danube—this from the banks of the gem-yielding Hydaspes, which, in its course, waters with its tepid streams the arid plains around, and the banks of the Bætis which gives its name to the adjacent lands, and coursing onwards in languid streams, throws itself into the Hesperian Sea—This specimen, (taking up another,) I see, has been cut with a knife, before Phœbus entered upon his diurnal track (before day-light), this shrub evidently was cut in the dead hour of the night, but this one (handling it very carefully) is the golden harvest (god-send) of the entire collection, for it has been nicked with the nail of some one versed in magical incantations! She then gathers together the poisonous grasses, and squeezes out all the virus from the serpents! Then she devotes some time to the poisons yielded by the foul birds of prey,—she selects the heart of the mournful-voiced, common owl, and the entrails cut out of the inside of the screech-owl—whilst alive—these venomous articles of destruction this architect of crimes, this scientific poisoner arranges in order! She then adds to these the rapacious power of the most active flames, as an important item, and whatever resides in the icy frost arising from the most rigorous degree of cold, she adds as another element. Having then examined all the poisons, seriatim, she ejaculates some menacing, mystic words, which, from their tone, do not sound less terrible than all the poisons put together! Hark! Here she comes along at a maddened pace, sings forth some magic strains, and as she is commencing her solemn chants, the very earth seems to tremble at her first utterances.


The Manes being invoked, and the incantations having been duly carried out, Medea sends through her sons to Creusa a cloak impregnated with a destructive agent, together with a neck-band, and a golden head ornament, as wedding presents.

I conjure that silent multitude,-the Manes, and oh! ye deities that preside over the affairs of those departed spirits, Pluto and Proserpine, and darkest chaos, and the sombre palace of the God of the infernal regions, and the dark caverns of loathsome Mors, hemmed in