This cruelty, horrible in itself, the calamities of one particular family rendered still more so.
Philip had, many years before, put to death Herodicus, a Thessalian of distinction; and afterwards his sons-in-law. His daughters were left widows, having each a little son. The names of the women [p. 1857]
were Theoxena and Archo.
Theoxena, though courted by many, rejected every offer of marriage.
Archo married a certain Poris, by far the first of the Aenean nation; and, after bearing him many children, died, leaving them all quite young. Theoxena then, in order that her sister's children might be educated under her own inspection, married Poris,
and as if she herself had borne them all, treated her own and her sister's sons with the same affectionate care.
When she heard of the king's order for seizing the children of the persons who had been put to death, supposing that they were destined to afford sport not only to the king's lust, but to that of his guards, she formed in her mind a horrid project, and had the hardiness to declare, that she would kill them
all with her own hand, rather than they should come into the power of Philip.
Poris, abhorring the mention of such a dreadful deed, told her that he would carry them away to Athens, to some faithful friends, and would himself accompany them in their flight.
They all went from Thessalonica to Aenea, to a stated sacrifice, which they offer yearly, with great solemnity, in honour of Aeneas, the founder of the nation. Having spent the day there, in the anniversary feast, about the third watch, when all were asleep, they embarked in a vessel ready prepared by Poris, as if intending to return to Thessalonica;
but their design was to cross over to Eubœa.
However, daylight surprised them at a small distance from the land, struggling in vain against a contrary wind, and the king's officers, who commanded the garrison of the port, despatched an armed bark to bring back their ship, with a strict injunction not to return without it. When they were now drawing nigh, Poris was intently occupied in animating the rowers and sailors, and, at times, raising his hands towards heaven, supplicated the gods to assist him.
Meanwhile, the woman, with desperate fury recurring to the shocking design which she had long premeditated, dissolves some poison, and produces swords; then, placing the cup in their view, and unsheathing the swords, she says, “Death is our only refuge.
These paths lead thither, by whichever of them each one's inclination leads them to adopt, let them escape the tyranny of the king.
Come then, dear youths, let those of you who are the elder, first take the sword; or, if a slower death is your choice, drain the cup.” At the same time the enemy was fast [p. 1858]
approaching, and she, who urged them to despatch themselves, was urgent; the young men, having put an end to their lives, some by the one and some by the other fatal expedient, were thrown expiring into the sea.
Then, embracing her husband and companion in death, she plunged into the deep. The king's officers then took possession of the ship, deserted by its owners.