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old man's life. Then she directed that Æson be led forth; and throwing him into a deep sleep, she laid him on a bed of herbs, like one dead. No eye profane looked upon her mysteries. With streaming hair, thrice she moved round the altars, dipped faming twigs in the blood, and laid them thereon to burn. Meanwhile the caldron with its contents was preparing. In it she put magic herbs, with seeds and flowers of acrid juice, stones from the distant East, and sand from the shore of all-surrounding ocean, hoar frost — gathered by moonlight, a screech owl's head and wings, and the entrails of a wolf. She added fragments of the shells of tortoises and the liver of stags — animals tenacious of life - and the head and beak of a crow, which outlives nine generations of men. These, with many other things “ without a name," she boiled together for her purposed work, stirring them with a dry olive branch. The branch when taken out instantly was green, and erelong was covered with leaves and a plentiful growth of young olives; and as the liquor boiled and bubbled, and sometimes bubbled over, the grass wherever the sprinklings fell leaped into verdure like that of spring.
Seeing that all was ready, Medea cut the throat of the old man, let out his blood, and poured into his mouth and his wound the juices of her caldron. As soon as he had completely imbibed them, his hair and beard lost their whiteness, and assumed the color of youth ; his paleness and emaciation were gone ; his veins were full of blood, his limbs of vigor and robustness; and Æson, on awakening, found himself forty years younger.
$ 147. Pelias.' — In another instance, Medea made her arts the instrument of revenge. Pelias, the usurping uncle of Jason, still kept him out of his heritage. But the daughters of Pelias wished Medea to restore their father also to youth. Medea simulated consent, but prepared her caldron for him in a new and singular way. She put in only water and a few simple herbs. In the night she persuaded the daughters of Pelias to kill him. They, at first, hesitated to strike, but, Medea chiding their irreso
1 Ovid, Metam. 7:297-353.
lution, they turned away their faces and, giving random blows, smote him with their weapons. Starting from his sleep, the old man cried out, “My daughters, would you kill your father?” Whereat their hearts failed them, and the weapons fell from their hands. Medea, however, struck the fatal blow.
They placed him in the caldron, but, as might be expected, with no success. Medea herself had taken care to escape before they discovered the treachery. She had, however, little profit of the fruits of her crime. Jason, for whom she had sacrificed so much, put her away, for he wished to marry Creusa, princess of Corinth. Whereupon Medea, enraged at his ingratitude, called on the gods for vengeance : then, sending a poisoned robe as a gift to the bride, killing her own children, and setting fire to the palace, she mounted her serpent-drawn chariot and Aed to Athens. There she married King Ægeus, the father of Theseus; and we shall meet her again when we come to the adventures of that hero.
The incantation of Medea readily suggests that of the witches in Macbeth :
“ Round about the caldron go;
Root of hemlock digged i' the dark.” 2
2 Macbeth, Act IV, 1. Consult,
THE FAMILY OF ÆTOLUS.
$ 148. The Calydonian Hunt.' — One of the heroes of the Argonautic expedition had been Meleager, a son of Eneus and Althæa, rulers of Calydon in Ætolia. His parents were cousins, descended from a son of Endymion named Ætolus, who had colonized that realm. By ties of kinship and marriage they were allied with many historic figures. Their daughter Dejanira had become, as we have already noted, the wife of Hercules ;? while Leda, the sister of Althæa, was mother of Castor and Pollux, and of Clytemnestra and Helen, intimately concerned in the Trojan War.
When her son Meleager was born, Althæa had beheld the three Destinies, who, as they spun their fatal thread, foretold that the life of the child should last no longer than a certain brand then burning upon the hearth. Althæa seized and quenched the brand, and carefully preserved it, while Meleager grew to boyhood, youth, and man's estate. It chanced, then, that Eneus, offering sacrifices to the gods, omitted to pay due honors to Diana ; wherefore she, indignant at the neglect, sent a boar of enormous size to lay waste the fields of Calydon. Meleager called on the heroes of Greece to join in a hunt for the ravenous monster. Theseus and his friend Pirithous," Jason, Peleus, the father of Achilles, Telamon, the father of Ajax, Nestor, then a youth, but who in his age bore arms with Achilles and Ajax in the Trojan War,' — these and many more joined in the enterprise. With them came, also, Atalanta, the daughter of Iasius, –
1 Ovid, Metam. 8:260-546.
6 $$ 145, 165.
5 $ 145.
Arcadian Atalanta, snowy-souled,
Fair as the snow and footed as the wind.1 A buckle of polished gold confined her vest, an ivory quiver hung on her left shoulder, and her left hand bore the bow. Her face blended feminine beauty with the graces of martial youth. Meleager saw, and with chivalric reverence, somewhat thus addressed her :
“For thy name's sake and awe toward thy chaste head,
O holiest Atalanta ! no man dares
But there was no time then for love : on to the hunt they pushed. To the hunt went, also, Plexippus and Toxeus, brothers of Queen Althæa, braggarts, envious of Meleager. Speedily the hunters drew near the monster's lair. They stretched strong nets from tree to tree; they uncoupled their dogs; they sought the footprints of their quarry in the grass. From the wood was a descent to marshy ground. Here the boar, as he lay among the reeds, heard the shouts of his pursuers, and rushed forth against them. One and another is thrown down and slain. Jason, Nestor, Telamon open the attack, but in vain.
... Then all abode save one,
It was a slight wound, but Meleager saw and joyfully proclaimed it. The attack was renewed. Peleus, Amphiaraüs, Theseus, Jason, hurled their lances. Ancæus was laid low by a mortal wound. But Meleager, —
Rock-rooted, fair with fierce and fastened lips,
1 From Swinburne's Atalanta in Calydon.