The Athenaid: Volume I: Book the Tenth

Now is the season, when Vertumnus leads
Pomona's glowing charms through ripen'd groves
Of ruddy fruitage; now the loaden vine
Invites the gath'ring hand, which treasures joy
For hoary winter in his turn to smile.
An eastern course before autumnal gales
To Ephesus the Carian gallies bend;
While Medon coasts by Locris, and deplores
Her state of thraldom. Thrice Aurora shews
Her placid face; devourer of mankind,
The sea, curls lightly in fallacious calms;
To Medon then the wary master thus:

My chief, the dang'rous equinox is near
Whose stormy breath each prudent sailor shuns,
Secure in harbour; turbulent these streights
Between Euboea and the Locrian shore;
Fate lurks in eddies, threatens from the rocks;
The continent is hostile; we must stretch
Across the passage to Euboea's isle,
There wait in safety till the season rude
Its wonted violence hath spent. The chief
Replies: An island, Atalanté nam'd,
Possess'd by Locrians, rises in thy view;
There first thy shelter seek; perhaps the foe
Hath left that fragment of my native state
Yet undestroy'd. Th' obedient rudder guides,
The oars impel the well directed keel
Safe through an inlet op'ning to a cove
Fenc'd round by rising land. At once the sight,
Caught by a lucid aperture of rock,
Strays up the island; whence a living stream,
Profuse and swift beneath a native arch,
Repels encumb'ring sands. A slender skiff,
Launch'd from the ship, pervades the sounding vault;
With his companions Medon bounds ashore,
Addressing Timon: Delphian guest, these steps,
Rude hewn, attain the summit of this rock;
Thence o'er the island may our wary ken,
By some sure sign, discover if we tread
A friendly soil, or hostile. They ascend.
The topmost peak was chisell'd to display
Marine Palæmon, colossean form,
In art not specious. Melicertes once,
Him Ino, flying from th' infuriate sword
Of Athamas her husband, down a cliff,
Distracted mother, with herself immers'd
In ocean's salt-abyss. Their mortal state
Neptunian pity to immortal chang'd;
From Ino she became Leucothea, chief
Among the nymphs of Tethys; he that god
Benign, presiding o'er the tranquil port,
Palæmon, yielding refuge to the toils
Of mariners sea-worn. One mighty palm
Lean'd on a rudder, high the other held
A globe of light, far shooting through the dark,
In rays auspicious to nocturnal keels
Which plough the vex'd Euripus. Fair below,
Her cap of verdure Atalanté spreads,
Small as a region, as a pasture large,
In gentle hollows vary'd, gentle swells,
All intersected by unnumber'd tufts
Of trees fruit-laden. Bord'ring on the streights,
Rich Locris, wide Boeotia, lift their woods,
Their hills by Ceres lov'd, and cities fam'd;
Here Opus, there Tanagra; Delium shews
Her proud Phoebean edifice, her port
Capacious Aulis, whence a thousand barks
With Agamemnon sail'd; a lengthen'd range
Euboea's rival opulence oppos'd,
Queen of that frith; superb the structures rise
Of Oreus, Chalcis, and the ruins vast
Of sad Eretria, by Darius crush'd.

The Locrian chief salutes the figur'd god:
Still dost thou stand, Palæmon, to proclaim
Oïlean hospitality of old,
Which carv'd thee here conspicuous, to befriend
The sailor night-perplex'd? Thou only sign
Left of Oïlean greatness! wrapp'd in woe
Is that distinguish'd house! Barbarians fill
Her inmost chambers! O propitious god!
If yet some remnant of the Locrian state
Thou dost protect on Atalanté's shore,
Before I leave her shall thy image smoke
With fattest victims! Timon quick subjoins:

I see no hostile traces; numerous hinds
Along the meadows tend their flocks and herds;
Let us, descending, and the crested helm,
The spear, and shield, committing to our train,
In peaceful guise salute a peaceful land.

They hear, approving; lightly back they speed;
Disarm'd, they follow an inviting path,
Which cuts a shelving green. In sportive laugh,
Before the threshold of a dwelling nigh,
Appear young children; quickning then his pace,
O Haliartus, Medon cries, I see
My brother's offspring! They their uncle knew,
Around him flock'd, announcing his approach
In screams of joy: Their sire, Leonteus, came.

As Leda's mortal son in Pluto's vale
Receiv'd his brother Pollux, who, from Jove
Deriv'd, immortal, left the realms of day,
And half his own divinity resign'd,
His dear-lov'd Castor to redeem from death;
So rush'd Leonteus into Medon's arms,
Thus utt'ring loud his transport: Dost thou come
To me and these a saviour! When that cloud
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"The Athenaid: Volume I: Book the Tenth" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/43397/the-athenaid:-volume-i:-book-the--tenth>.

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