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(So hard it is of perfect joy to find so great excesse,
But that some sorrow therewithall is medled more or lesse),
Aegeus had not in his sonnes recoverie such delight,
But that there followed in the necke a piece of fortunes spight.
King Minos was preparing war, who though he had great store
Of ships and souldiers yet the wrath the which he had before
Conceyved in his fathers brest for murthring of his sonne
Androgeus made him farre more strong and fiercer for to ronne
To rightfull battell to revenge the great displeasure donne.
Howbeit he thought it best ere he his warfare did begin
To finde the meanes of forreine aides some friendship for to win.
And thereupon with flying fleete where passage did permit
He went to visit all the Iles that in those seas doe sit.
Anon the Iles Astypaley and Anaphey both twaine
The first constreynde for feare of war, the last in hope of gaine,
Tooke part with him. Low Myconey did also with him hold
So did the chalkie Cymoley, and Syphney which of olde
Was verie riche with veynes of golde, and Scyros full of bolde
And valiant men, and Seryphey the smooth or rather fell,
And Parey which for Marblestone doth beare away the bell.
And Sythney which a wicked wench callde Arne did betray
For mony: who upon receit thereof without delay
Was turned to a birde which yet of golde is gripple still,
And is as blacke as any cole, both fethers, feete and bill.
A Cadowe is the name of hir. But yet Olyarey,
And Didymey, and Andrey eke, and Tene, and Gyarey,
And Pepareth where Olive trees most plenteously doe grow,
In no wise would agree their helpe on Minos to bestow.
Then Minos turning lefthandwise did sayle to Oenope
Where reignde that time King Aeacus. This Ile had called be
Of old by name of Oenope: but Aeacus turnde the name
And after of his mothers name Aegina callde the same.
The common folke ran out by heapes desirous for to see
A man of such renowne as Minos bruited was to bee.
The Kings three sonnes Duke Telamon, Duke Peley, and the yong
Duke Phocus went to meete with him. Old Aeacus also clung
With age, came after leysurely, and asked him the cause
Of his repaire. The ruler of the hundred Shires gan pause:
And musing on the inward griefe that nipt him at the hart,
Did shape him aunswere thus: O Prince vouchsafe to take my part
In this same godly warre of mine: assist me in the just
Revengement of my murthred sonne that sleepeth in the dust.
I crave your comfort for his death. Aeginas sonne replide:
Thy suite is vaine: and of my Realme perforce must be denide.
For unto Athens is no lande more sure than this alide:
Such leagues betweene us are which shall infringde for me abide.
Away went Minos sad: and said: full dearly shalt thou bie
Thy leagues. He thought it for to be a better pollicie
To threaten war than war to make, and there to spend his store
And strength which in his other needes might much availe him more.
As yet might from Oenopia walles the Cretish fleete be kend.
When thitherward with puffed sayles and wind at will did tend
A ship from Athens, which anon arriving at the strand
Set Cephal with Ambassade from his Countrimen aland.
The Kings three sonnes though long it were since last they had him seene,
Yet knew they him. And after olde acquaintance eft had beene
Renewde by shaking hands, to Court they did him streight convay.
This Prince which did allure the eyes of all men by the way,
As in whose stately person still remained to be seene
The markes of beautie which in flowre of former yeares had beene,
Went holding out an Olife braunch that grew in Atticke lande
And for the reverence of his age there went on eyther hand
A Nobleman of yonger yeares. Sir Clytus on the right
And Butes on the left, the sonnes of one that Pallas hight.
When greeting first had past betweene these Nobles and the King,
Then Cephal setting streight abroche the message he did bring,
Desired aide: and shewde what leagues stoode then in force betweene
His countrie and the Aeginites, and also what had beene
Decreed betwixt their aunceters, concluding in the ende
That under colour of this war which Minos did pretende
To only Athens, he in deede the conquest did intende
Of all Achaia. When he thus by helpe of learned skill
His countrie message furthred had, King Aeacus leaning still
His left hand on his scepter, saide: My Lordes, I would not have
Your state of Athens seeme so straunge as succor here to crave.
I pray commaund. For be ye sure that what this Ile can make
Is yours. Yea all that ere I have shall hazard for your sake.
I want no strength. I have such store of souldiers, that I may
Both vex my foes and also keepe my Realme in quiet stay.
And now I thinke me blest of God that time doth serve to showe
Without excuse the great good will that I to Athens owe.
God holde it sir (quoth Cephalus) God make the number grow
Of people in this towne of yours: it did me good alate
When such a goodly sort of youth of all one age and rate
Did meete me in the streete. But yet me thinkes that many misse
Which at my former being here I have beheld ere this.
At that the King did sigh, and thus with plaintfull voice did say:
A sad beginning afterward in better lucke did stay.
I would I plainly could the same before your faces lay.
Howbeit I will disorderly repeate it as I may.
And lest I seeme to wearie you with overlong delay,
The men that you so mindefully enquire for lie in ground
And nought of them save bones and dust remayneth to be found.
But as it hapt what losse thereby did unto me redound?
A cruell plague through Junos wrath who dreadfully did hate
This Land that of hir husbands Love did take the name alate,
Upon my people fell: as long as that the maladie
None other seemde than such as haunts mans nature usually,
And of so great mortalitie the hurtfull cause was hid,
We strove by Phisicke of the same the Pacients for to rid.
The mischief overmaistred Art: yea Phisick was to seeke
To doe it selfe good. First the Aire with foggie stinking reeke
Did daily overdreepe the earth: and close culme Clouds did make
The wether faint: and while the Moone foure times hir light did take
And fillde hir emptie homes therewith, and did as often slake:
The warme South windes with deadly heate continually did blow.
Infected were the Springs, and Ponds, and streames that ebbe and flow.
And swarmes of Serpents crawld about the fieldes that lay untillde
Which with their poison even the brookes and running water fillde.
In sodaine dropping downe of Dogs, of Horses, Sheepe and Kine,
Of Birds and Beasts both wild and tame as Oxen, Wolves, and Swine,
The mischiefe of this secret sore first outwardly appeeres.
The wretched Plowman was amazde to see his sturdie Steeres
Amid the furrow sinking downe ere halfe his worke was donne.
Whole flocks of sheepe did faintly bleate, and therewithall begonne
Their fleeces for to fall away and leave the naked skin,
And all their bodies with the rot attainted were within.
The lustie Horse that erst was fierce in field renowne to win
Against his kinde grew cowardly: and now forgetting quight
The auncient honor which he preast so oft to get in fight,
Stoode sighing sadly at the Racke as wayting for to yeelde
His wearie life without renowne of combat in the fielde.
The Boare to chafe, the Hinde to runne, the cruell Beare to fall
Upon the herdes of Rother beastes had now no lust at all.
A languishing was falne on all. In wayes, in woods, in plaines,
The filthie carions lay, whose stinche, the Ayre it selfe distaines.
(A wondrous thing to tell) not Dogges, not ravening Foules, nor yit
Horecoted Wolves would once attempt to tast of them a bit.
Looke, where they fell, there rotted they: and with their savor bred
More harme, and further still abrode the foule infection spred.
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