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Page:Masterpieces of Greek Literature (1902).djvu/112

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Part of the description of the expedition of the Argonauts to Colchis for the Golden Fleece, which was in the possession of King Aietes, son of Helios, and father of Medea, who was skilled in sorcery. The Golden Fleece was the skin of the wonderful ram which had borne Phrixus from danger in Greece, and had been sacrificed by him in Asia.

And with breezes of the South they came wafted to the mouth of the Axine [1] sea; there they founded a shrine and sacred close of Poseidon, god of seas, where was a red herd of Thracian bulls, and a new-built altar of stone with hollow top.

Then as they set forth toward an exceeding peril they prayed the lord of ships that they might shun the terrible shock of the jarring rocks:[2] for they were twain that had life, and plunged along more swiftly than the legions of the bellowing winds; but that travel of the seed of gods made end of them at last.

After that they came to the Phasis; there they fought with dark-faced Colchians even in the presence of Aietes. And there the queen of keenest darts, the Cyprus-born,[3] first brought to men from Olympus the frenzied bird, the speckled wry-neck, binding it to a four-spoked wheel without deliverance, and taught the son of Aison [4] to be wise in prayers and charms, that he might make Medea take no thought to honor her

  1. Axine is inhospitable,—the early name of the Black Sea, which was later called Euxine, or hospitable.
  2. The "justling rocks," which lay at the mouth of the Black Sea, were thought to clash together until the Argo passed through safely.
  3. Aphrodite, the Roman Venus.
  4. Jason, leader of the Argonauts.