Abbildungen der Seite

The ship's name was Argo, and they who went in her were called Argonauts. Amongst the Argonauts, there were Hercules, the strongest of men, and two brothers, the sons of the North Wind, who had wings and could fly through the air, and another hero named Pollux, the best man in the world with his fists.

Then the Argonauts came with their ship to a country where there was a wicked king whose name was Amycus; when strangers came to his country, he made them fight with him, and he was very strong and killed them. But Pollux knocked him down and struck him dead.

After that, the Argonauts came to a town where there lived a king whose name was Phineus.

He had once made Zeus, king of the gods, angry, and Zeus, to punish him, had made him blind. Whenever Phineus sat down to eat, there came great foul birds, called Harpies, which had a skin as hard as iron, and long sharp claws, with which they tore the people to pieces who wished to drive them away. As soon as the food was served, they would come and carry it away, and if they could not carry away all, they dirtied the dishes and the table, so that it was all filthy. So Phineus was near starving.

When the heroes came, he told them of his troubles, and begged them to help him. The heroes sat down with him at the table, and, as soon as the food was brought, the Harpies came flying in. Jason and his comrades drew their swords and struck at them, but it was of no use. Then the two sons of Boreas, the North Wind, who had wings, flew into the air; and the Harpies, being frightened, flew away, and the two heroes flew after them. The Harpies at last were tired out, and fell into the

sea and were drowned. So Phineus had rest and could eat.

When the wind was fair, the heroes went on board their. ship Argo, to sail towards Colchis, and when they bade farewell to Phineus, he thanked them for the help they had given him, and gave them good counsel. In the wide sea over which they were to sail, two great rocks were floating, as icebergs float in the sea, and whenever they struck against each other, they crushed everything to pieces that had got between them. If a bird flew through the air when the rocks dashed together, they crushed it to death; and if a ship was about to sail through, they rushed together when the ship was in the middle, and crushed it into bits, and all that were in it died. Zeus had placed these rocks in the sea to prevent any ship from reaching Colchis. Phineus, however, knew that the rocks always parted very widely from each other after having struck each other. He gave advice to the Argonauts, how they might get safely through.

When they came near the place where the rocks were floating, the Argonauts sailed straight toward the passage; and when they were near, one of the heroes stood up, holding a dove in his hand, and let it fly. It went between the rocks, and they came swiftly together to crush it. But the dove flew so fast that the rocks caught only her tail, which was torn out, but the feathers soon grew again. Then the rocks again parted widely asunder, and then the heroes rowed with all their might and got safely through: so that when the rocks struck together again, they caught only a small bit of the ship's stern, which they knocked off.

When the Argonauts had passed happily through the Symplegades (as these rocks were called), they came at last to the river Phasis, which flows through Colchis. Some of them stayed in the ship; but Jason and Pollux and many other heroes went into the town where the king dwelt. The king's name was Æetes, and he had a daughter whose name was Medea. Jason told King Æetes that Pelias had sent him to fetch the golden fleece, and asked him to give it to him. Æetes did not like to lose the fleece, but he was afraid to refuse it; so he told Jason that he should have it: but first he must yoke certain brazen bulls to a plow, and plow up a great tract of land, and then sow the teeth of a dragon. The brazen bulls had been made by the god Hephaistos, who was a cunning smith. They walked and moved and were living like real bulls, and they belched out fire from their nostrils and mouths, and were far more fierce and strong than real bulls. Therefore, they were kept in a stable built of stone and iron, and were bound with strong iron chains. And when the dragon's teeth were sown in the earth, iron men would spring up with lances and swords, to kill him who had sown the teeth. Thus the king hoped that the bulls would kill Jason; and if the bulls should not kill him, then he thought that the iron men would do it.

Medea, the daughter of the king, saw Jason at her father's and loved him, and was sorry that he should perish. She knew how to brew magic liquors; she had a chariot drawn by flying serpents, and on this chariot she was carried where she wished; she gathered herbs on many mountains and in many vales on the brinks of

brooks, and from these herbs she pressed out the juice and prepared it. She went to Jason and brought him the juice, and told him to rub his face and his hands, and arms and legs, and also his armor, his sword and lance, with the juice; whereby he would become for a whole day stronger than all the other heroes together, and fire would not burn him, and steel would not wound him, but his sword and his lance would pierce steel as if it were butter.

Then a day was set when Jason should yoke the bulls and sow the teeth; and early in the morning, before the sun rose, King Æetes and his daughter and all his people came to see. The king sat down on a throne near the place where Jason was to plow, and the people sat around him.

Jason rubbed himself and his weapons with the juice, as Medea had told him, and came to the place. He opened the doors, and loosened the bulls from their chains, and seized each with one hand by its horn, and dragged them out. The bulls bellowed most horribly, and all that time fire came out from their nostrils and mouths. Then King Æetes felt glad; but when the people saw what a beautiful man and how brave Jason was, they were sorry that he should die; for they did not know that Medea was helping him. Jason pressed the heads of both bulls down to the ground; then they kicked with their hind legs, but Jason held them down so strongly that they fell on their knees.

The plow to which they were to be yoked was all of iron; Pollux brought it near and threw the yoke over their necks and the chain around their horns, whilst Jason kept their mouths and noses so close to the ground that they could not belch out fire. When Pollux had done

and the bulls were yoked, he leapt quickly away, and Jason seized the chain in one hand and the handle of the plow in the other, and let loose his grasp of the horns; the bulls strove to run away, but Jason held the chain so fast that they were obliged to walk slowly, and to plow the field. It was sunrise when they were yoked, and by noon, Jason had plowed up the whole field. Then he unyoked the bulls and let them loose; and they ran without looking behind them to the mountains. There they would have set all the woods on fire if Hephaistos had not come and caught them and led them away.

When Jason had done plowing, he went to King Æetes to get the dragon's teeth, and Æetes gave to Jason a helmet full of teeth. Jason took them out and went up and down the field and threw them into the furrows; and then with his large spear he beat the clods into small pieces, and smoothed the soil as a gardener does after having sowed. And then he went away and lay down to rest until evening, for he was very weary.

Towards sunset he returned to the field, and iron men were everywhere growing out of the soil. Some had grown out to the feet, others to the knees, others to the hips, others to the under part of the shoulders; of some only the helmet or forehead could be seen, whilst the rest of their bodies stuck in the ground. Those who had their arms already out of the earth and could move them, shook their lances and brandished their swords. Some were just freeing their feet and preparing to come against Jason.

Then Jason did what Medea had told him, and taking a big stone, he threw it upon the field just in the midst of

« ZurückWeiter »