This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
was yielding to the multitude, he said,
“Since you have forced disaster on yourselves,
why should I hesitate to save myself?—
O friends, avert your faces if ye stand
before me!” And he raised Medusa,s head.
Thescelus answered him; “Seek other dupes
to chase with wonders!” Just as he prepared
to hurl the deadly javelin from his hand,
he stood, unmoving in that attitude,
a marble statue.
Ampyx, close to him,
exulting in a mighty spirit, made
a lunge to pierce Lyncides in the breast;
but, as his sword was flashing in the air,
his right arm grew so rigid, there he stood
unable to draw back or thrust it forth.
But Nileus, who had feigned himself begot
by seven-fold Nile, and carved his shield with gold
and silver streams, alternate seven, shouted;
“Look, look! O Perseus, him from whom I sprung!
And you shall carry to the silent shades
a mighty consolation in your death,
that you were slain by such a one as I.”
But in the midst of boasting, the last words
were silenced; and his open mouth, although
incapable of motion, seemed intent
to utter speech.
Then Eryx, chiding says;
“Your craven spirits have benumbed you, not
Medusa's poison.—Come with me and strike
this youthful mover of magician charms
down to the ground.”—He started with a rush;
the earth detained his steps; it held him fast;
he could not speak; he stood, complete with arms,
Such a penalty was theirs,
and justly earned; but near by there was one,
aconteus, who defending Perseus, saw
medusa as he fought; and at the sight
the soldier hardened to an upright stone.—
Assured he was alive, Astyages
now struck him with his long sword, but the blade
resounded with a ringing note; and there,
astonished at the sound, Astyages,
himself, assumed that nature; and remained
with wonder pictured on his marble face.
And not to weary with the names of men,
sprung from the middle classes, there remained
two hundred warriors eager for the fight—
as soon as they could see Medusa's face,
two hundred warriors stiffened into stone.
At last, repentant, Phineus dreads the war,
unjust, for in a helpless fright he sees
the statues standing in strange attitudes;
and, recognizing his adherents, calls
on each by name to rescue from that death.
Still unbelieving he begins to touch
the bodies, nearest to himself, and all
are hard stone.
Having turned his eyes away,
he stretched his hands and arms obliquely back
to Perseus, and confessed his wicked deeds;
and thus imploring spoke;
“Remove, I pray,
O Perseus, thou invincible, remove
from me that dreadful Gorgon: take away
the stone-creating countenance of thy
unspeakable Medusa! For we warred
not out of hatred, nor to gain a throne,
but clashed our weapons for a woman's sake.—
“Thy merit proved thy valid claim, and time
gave argument for mine. It grieves me not
to yield, O bravest, only give me life,
and all the rest be thine.” Such words implored
the craven, never daring to address
his eyes to whom he spoke.
And thus returned
the valiant Perseus; “I will grant to you,
O timid-hearted Phineus! as behoves
your conduct; and it should appear a gift,
magnanimous, to one who fears to move.—
Take courage, for no steel shall violate
your carcase; and, moreover, you shall be
a monument, that ages may record
your unforgotten name. You shall be seen
thus always, in the palace where resides
my father-in-law, that my surrendered spouse
may soften her great grief when she but sees
the darling image of her first betrothed.”
He spoke, and moved Medusa to that side
where Phineus had turned his trembling face:
and as he struggled to avert his gaze
his neck grew stiff; the moisture of his eyes
was hardened into stone.—And since that day
his timid face and coward eyes and hands,
forever shall be guilty as in life.
After such deeds, victorious Perseus turned,
and sought the confines of his native land;
together with his bride; which, having reached,
he punished Proetus—who by force of arms
had routed his own brother from the throne
of Argos. By his aid Acrisius,
although his undeserving parent, gained
his citadels once more: for Proetus failed,
with all his arms and towers unjustly held,
to quell the grim-eyed monster, snake-begin.
Yet not the valour of the youth, upheld
by many labours, nor his grievous wrongs
have softened you, O Polydectes! king
of Little Seriphus; but bitter hate
ungoverned, rankles in your hardened heart—
there is no limit to your unjust rage.
Even his praises are defamed by you
and all your arguments are given to prove
Medusa's death a fraud.—Perseus rejoined;
“By this we give our true pledge of the truth,
avert your eyes!” And by Medusa's face
he made the features of that impious king
a bloodless stone.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.