Table of Contents:
And leading under endlesse night his age in great disease
Of scarcitie was Phiney seene, and Boreas sonnes had chaste
Away the Maidenfaced foules that did his victels waste.
And after suffring many things in noble Jasons band,
In muddie Phasis gushing streame at last they went aland.
There while they going to the King demaund the golden fleece
Brought thither certaine yeares before by Phryxus out of Greece,
And of their dreadfull labors wait an answere to receive:
Aeetas daughter in hir heart doth mightie flames conceyve.
And after strugling verie long, when reason could not win
The upper hand of rage: she thus did in hir selfe begin:
In vaine, Medea, doste thou strive: some God what ere he is
Against thee bendes his force. For what a wondrous thing is this?
Is any thing like this which men doe terme by name of Love?
For why should I my fathers hestes esteeme so hard above
All measure? sure in very deede they are too hard and sore.
Why feare I lest yon straunger whome I never saw before
Should perish? what should be the cause of this my feare so great?
Unhappie wench (and if thou canst) suppresse this uncouth heat
That burneth in thy tender brest: and if so be I coulde,
A happie turne it were, and more at ease then be I shoulde.
But now an uncouth maladie perforce against my will
Doth hale me. Love persuades me one, another thing my skill.
The best I see and like: the worst I follow headlong still.
Why being of the royall bloud so fondly doste thou rave,
Upon a straunger thus to dote, desiring for to have
An husband of another world? at home thou mightest finde
A lover meete for thine estate on whome to set thy minde.
And yet it is but even a chaunce if he shall live or no:
God graunt him for to live. I may without offence pray so,
Although I lovde him not: for what hath Jason trespast me?
Who woulde not pitie Jasons youth onlesse they cruell be?
What creature is there but his birth and prowesse might him move?
And setting all the rest asyde, who woulde not be in love
With Jasons goodlie personage? my heart assuredly
Is toucht therewith. But if that I provide not remedie,
With burning breath of blasting Bulles needes sindged must he bee.
Of seedes that he himselfe must sow a harvest shall he see
Of armed men in battell ray upon the ground up grow
Against the which it hoveth him his manhode for to show.
And as a pray he must be set against the Dragon fell.
If I these things let come to passe, I may confesse right well
That of a Tyger I was bred: and that within my brest
A heart more harde than any steele or stonie rocke doth rest.
Why rather doe I not his death with wrathfull eyes beholde?
And joy with others seeing him to utter perill solde?
Why doe I not enforce the Bulles against him? Why, I say,
Exhort I not the cruell men which shall in battell ray
Arise against him from the ground? and that same Dragon too
Within whose eyes came never sleepe? God shield I so should doo.
But prayer smally bootes, except I put to helping hand.
And shall I like a Caytife then betray my fathers land?
Shall I a straunger save whome we nor none of ours doth know?
That he by me preserved may without me homeward row?
And take another to his wife, and leave me, wretched wight,
To torments? If I wist that he coulde worke me such a spight,
Or could in any others love than only mine delight,
The Churle should die for me. But sure he beareth not the face
Like one that wold doe so. His birth, his courage, and his grace
Doe put me clearly out of doubt he will not me deceyve,
No nor forget the great good turnes he shall by me receyve.
Yet shall he to me first his faith for more assurance plight
And solemly he shall be sworne to keepe the covenant right.
Why fearste thou now without a cause? step to it out of hand:
And doe not any lenger time thus lingring fondly stand.
For ay shall Jason thinke himselfe beholding unto thee:
And shall thee marrie solemly: yea honored shalt thou bee
Of all the Mothers great and small throughout the townes of Greece
For saving of their sonnes that come to fetch the golden fleece.
And shall I then leave brother, sister, father, kith and kin?
And household Gods, and native soyle, and all that is therein?
And saile I know not whither with a straunger? Yea: why not?
My father surely cruell is, my Countrie rude God wot:
My brother yet a verie babe: my sister I dare say
Contented is with all hir heart that I should go away:
The greatest God is in my selfe: the things I doe forsake
Are trifles in comparison of those that I shall take.
For saving of the Greekish ship renoumed shall I bee.
A better place I shall enjoy with Cities riche and free,
Whose fame doth florish fresh even here, and people that excell
In civill life and all good Artes: and whome I would not sell
For all the goods within the worlde, Duke Aesons noble sonne.
Whome had I to my lawfull Feere assuredly once wonne,
Most happie yea and blest of God I might my selfe account,
And with my head above the starres to heaven I should surmount.
But men report that certaine rockes (I know not what) doe meete
Amid the waves, and monstrously againe asunder fleete:
And how Charybdis, utter foe to ships that passe thereby,
Now sowpeth in, now speweth out the Sea incessantly:
And ravening Scylla being hemde with cruell dogs about,
Amids the gulfe of Sicilie doth make a barking out.
What skilleth that? As long as I enjoy the thing I love,
And hang about my Jasons necke, it shall no whit me move
To saile the daungerous Seas: as long as him I may embrace
I cannot surely be afraide in any kinde of case.
Or if I chaunce to be afraide, my feare shall only tende
But for my husband. Callste thou him thy husband? Doste pretende
Gay titles to thy foule offence, Medea? nay not so:
But rather looke about how great a lewdnesse thou doste go,
And shun the mischiefe while thou mayst. She had no sooner said
These wordes, but right and godlinesse and shamefastnesse were staid
Before hir eyes, and frantick love did flie away dismaid.
She went me to an Altar that was dedicate of olde
To Perseys daughter Hecate (of whome the witches holde
As of their Goddesse) standing in a thicke and secrete wood
So close it coulde not well be spide: and now the raging mood
Of furious love was well alaide and clearely put to flight:
When spying Aesons sonne, the flame that seemed quenched quight
Did kindle out of hand againe. Hir cheekes began to glowe,
And flushing over all hir face the scarlet bloud did flowe.
And even as when a little sparke that was in ashes hid,
Uncovered with the whisking windes is from the ashes rid,
Eftsoones it taketh nourishment and kindleth in such wise,
That to his former strength againe and flaming it doth rise:
Even so hir quailed love which late ye would have thought had quight
Bene vanisht out of minde, as soone as Jason came in sight
Did kindle to his former force in vewing of the grace
With which he did avaunce himselfe then comming there in place.
And (as it chaunced) farre more faire and beautifull of face
She thought him then than ever erst, but sure it doth behove
Hir judgement should be borne withall bicause she was in love.
She gapte and gazed in his face with fixed staring eyen
As though she never had him seene before that instant time.
So farre she was beside hir selfe she thought it should not bee
The face of any worldly wight the which she then did see.
She was not able for hir life to turne hir eyes away,
But when he tooke hir by the hand and speaking gan to pray
Hir softly for to succor him, and promisde faithfully
To take hir to his wedded wife, she falling by and by
A weeping, said: Sir, what I doe I see apparantly.
Not want of knowledge of the truth but love shall me deceive.
You shalbe saved by my meanes. And now I must receive
A faithfull promise at your hand for saving of your life.
He made a solemne vow, and sware to take hir to his wife,
By triple Hecates holie rites, and by what other power
So ever else had residence within that secret bower,
And by the Sire of him that should his Fathrinlaw become
Who all things doth behold, and as he hopte to overcome
The dreadfull daungers which he had soone after to assay.
Duke Jason being credited receivde of hir streight way
Enchaunted herbes: and having learnde the usage of the same,
Departed thence with merrie heart, and to his lodging came.
Next Morne had chaste the streaming stars: and folke by heapes did flocke
To Marsis sacred field, and there stoode thronging in a shocke,
To see the straunge pastimes. The King most stately to beholde
With yvorie Mace above them all did sit in throne of golde.
Anon the brazenhoved Bulles from stonie nostrils cast
Out flakes of fire: their scalding breath the growing grasse did blast.
And looke what noise a chimney full of burning fewell makes,
Or Flint in softning in the Kell when first the fire it takes
By sprincling water thereupon: such noyse their boyling brests
Turmoyling with the firie flames enclosed in their chests,
Such noise their scorched throtebolles make. Yet stoutly Jason went
To meete them. They their dreadfull eyes against him grimly bent, '
And eke their homes with yron tipt: and strake the dust about
In stamping with their cloven clees: and with their belowing out
Set all the fielde upon a smoke. The Mynies seeing that
Were past their wits with sodaine feare, but Jason feeled nat
So much as any breath of theirs: such strength hath sorcerie.
Their dangling Dewlaps with his hand he coyd unfearfully.
And putting yokes upon their neckes he forced them to draw
The heavie burthen of the plough which erst they never saw,
And for to breake the fielde which erst had never felt the share.
The men of Colchos seeing this, like men amazed fare.
The Mynies with their shouting out their mazednesse augment,
And unto Jason therewithall give more encouragement.
Then in a souldiers cap of steele a Vipers teeth he takes,
And sowes them in the new plowde fielde. The ground then soking makes
The seede foresteepte in poyson strong, both supple lithe and soft,
And of these teeth a right straunge graine there growes anon aloft.
For even as in the mothers wombe an infant doth begin
To take the lively shape of man, and formed is within
To due proportion piece by piece in every limme, and when
Full ripe he is, he takes the use of Aire with other men:
So when that of the Vipers teeth the perfect shape of man
Within the bowels of the earth was formed, they began
To rise togither orderly upon the fruitefull fielde:
And (which a greater wonder is) immediatly they wielde
Their weapons growing up with them, whom when the Greekes behilde
Preparing for to push their Pikes (which sharply headed were)
In Jasons face, downe went their heades, their heartes did faint for feare:
And also she that made him safe began abasht to bee.
For when against one naked man so huge an armie shee
Beheld of armed enmies bent, hir colour did abate
And sodainly both voyd of bloud and livelie heate she sate.
And lest the chaunted weedes the which she had him given before
Should faile at neede, a helping charme she whispred overmore,
And practisde other secret Artes the which she kept in store.
He casting streight a mightie stone amid his thickest foes,
Doth voyde the battell from him selfe and turnes it unto those.
These earthbred brothers by and by did one another wound
And never ceased till that all lay dead upon the ground.
The Greekes were glad, and in their armes did clasp their Champion stout,
And clinging to him earnestly embraced him about.
And thou fond Medea too couldst well have found in hart
The Champion for to have embraste, but that withheld thou wart
By shamefastnesse, and yet thou hadst embraced him, if dread
Of stayning of thine honor had not staid thee in that stead.
But yet as far forth as thou maist, thou doste in heart rejoyce,
And secretly (although without expressing it in voyce)
Doste thanke thy charmes and eke the Gods as Authors of the same.
Now was remaining as the last conclusion of this game,
By force of chaunted herbes to make the watchfull Dragon sleepe
Within whose eyes came never winke: who had in charge to keepe
The goodly tree upon the which the golden fleeces hung.
With crested head, and hooked pawes, and triple spirting tung,
Right ougly was he to beholde. When Jason had besprent
Him with the juice of certaine herbes from Lethey River sent,
And thrice had mumbled certaine wordes which are of force to cast
So sound a sleepe on things that even as dead a time they last,
Which make the raging surges calme and flowing Rivers stay,
The dreadfull Dragon by and by (whose eyes before that day
Wist never erst what sleeping ment) did fall so fast asleepe
That Jason safely tooke the fleece of golde that he did keepe.
Of which his bootie being proud, he led with him away
The Author of his good successe another fairer pray:
And so with conquest and a wife he loosde from Colchos strand,
And in Larissa haven safe did go againe aland.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.