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[108] I was dumb with terror of being punished, and too upset to find a word to say, for the case was only too clear. . . .We were in no position to speak, or do anything, for to say nothing of the disgrace of our shaven heads, our eyebrows were as bald as our pates. But when a wet sponge was wiped down my doleful countenance, and the ink ran over all my face and of course blotted out every feature in a cloud of smut, anger passed into loathing. Eumolpus cried out that he would not allow anyone to disfigure free young men without right or reason, and cut short the angry sailors' threats not only by argument but by force. His slave stood by him in his protest, and one or two of the most feeble passengers, who rather consoled him for having to fight than increased his strength. For my part I shirked nothing. I shook my fist in Tryphaena's face, and declared in a loud open voice that I would use violence to her if she did not leave off hurting Giton, for she was a wicked woman and the only person on the ship who deserved flogging. Lichas's wrath blazed hotter at my daring, and he taunted me with throwing up my own case and only shouting for somebody else. Tryphaena was equally hot and angry and abusive, and divided the whole ship's company into factions. On our side, the slave barber handed out his blades to us, and kept one for himself, on the other side Tryphaena's slaves were ready with bare[p. 223] fists, and even the cries of women were not unheard on the field. The helmsman alone swore that he would give up minding the ship if this madness, which had been stirred up to suit a pack of scoundrels, did not stop. None the less, the fury of the combatants persisted, the enemy fighting for revenge and we for dear life. Many fell on both sides without fatal results, still more got bloody wounds and retired in the style of a real battle, and still we all raged implacably. Then the gallant Giton turned a razor on himself and threatened to put an end to our troubles by self-mutilation, and Tryphaena averted the horrible disaster by a fair promise of freedom. I lifted a barber's knife to my throat several times, no more meaning to kill myself than Giton meant to do what he threatened. Still he filled the tragic part more recklessly, because he knew that he was holding the very razor with which he had already made a cut on his throat. Both sides were drawn up in battle array, and it was plain that the fight would be no ordinary affair, when the helmsman with difficulty induced Tryphaena to conclude a treaty like a true diplomat. So the usual formal undertakings were exchanged, and she waved an olivebranch which she took from the ship's figure-head, and ventured to come up and talk to us: What madness," she cried, “is turning peace into war? What have our hands done to deserve it? No Trojan hero1 carries the bride of the cuckold son of Atreus in this fleet, nor does frenzied Medea2 fight her foe by slaying her brother. But love despised is powerful. Ah! who courts destruction among these waves by drawing[p. 225] the sword? Who does not find a single death enough? Do not strive to outdo the sea and heap fresh waves upon its savage floods.”

1 Paris.

2 Absyrtus, Medea's brother, and son of Aietes, king of Colchis, plotted against Jason, who had come seeking the Golden Fleece. Medea killed him and fled with Jason.

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