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With Jason went the stronge Hercules,
And many another that he with him ches.
But who so axeth who is with him goon,
Let him rede Argonauticon,1
For he wol telle a tale longe ynoughe.
Philoctetes anoon the sayle up droughe,
Whanne the wynde was good, and gan him hye
Out of his countree called Tessalye.
So longe he sayled iu the salt see,
Til in the ile of Lemnos" arryved he.
Al be this nat rehersed of Guydo,"
Yet seyth Ovyde in hys Epistoles4 so;
And of this ile lady was and queene,
The faire yonge Ypsiphile the shene,
That whilom Thoas doughter was, the kynge.5
Ypsiphile was goon in hire pleynge,
And romynge on the clyves by the sea
Under a brake anoon espiede shee
Where lay the shippe that Jason gan arryve.
Of hire goodnesse adoun she sendeth bly ve,
To weten, yf that any straunge wyghte
With tempest thider were yblow anyghte,
To doon hem socour; as was hire usaunce,
To fortbren every wyghte, and done plesaunce
Of very bountee, and of curteysie.
This messagere adoun him gan to hye,
And founde Jason and Ercules also, ',
That in a cogge6 to londe were ygo,
Hem to refresshen, and to take the eyre.
The morwenyng atempree was and faire,
1 The Argonauticon is an heroic poem of eight hooks, by Valerius Flaccus, a Latin poet who flourished in the reign of Domitian.
5 The MSS. read Leonon, evidently by mistake for Lemnos.
3 Guido de Colonna, who compiled a history of the expedition of the Argonauts and the Trojan war.—See vol. ill. p. 9, note 2.
4 Heroid. Epist. vi.
5 The direct construction is,' That whilom was daughter of Thoas the king.'
6 A cogge is a cock-boat, which ought, probably, to be written cogboat. Hence our word coxswain. .
And in hys wey this messagere hem mette;
Ful kunnyngely these lordes tvroo he grette,
And did his message, askyng hem anoon
If they were broken, or aught woo begon,
Or hadde nede of lodesmen or vitayle;
For socoure they shulde nothinge fayle,
For it was outerly the queenes wille.
Jason answerde mekely and stille;1
'My lady,' quod he, 'thanke I hertely
Of hire goodnesse; us nedeth trewely
Nothing as now, but that we wery bee,
And come for to pley out of the see,
Til that the wynde be better in oure wey.'
This lady rometh by the clyffe to pley
With hire meynee, endelonge the stronde,
And fyndeth this Jason and thise other stonde
In spekynge of this thinge, as I yow tolde.
This Ercules and Jason gan beholde
How that the queene it was, and faire hire grette,
Anoon ryghte as they with this lady mette.
And she tooke hede, and knywe by hire manere,
By hire array, by wordes, and by chere,
That hit were gentil men of grete degree.
And to the castel with hir ledeth she
These straunge folke, and dooth hem grete honour;
And axeth hem of travaylle and labour
That they han suffred in the salte see;
So that withynne a day two or three
She knywe by the folke that in his shippes be,
That hyt was Jason, full of renomee,
And Ercules, that hadde the grete los,
That soughten the aventures of Colcos.
And did hem honour more than before,
A.nd with hem deled ever the lenger the more;
i This line is omitted in the Fairfax MS., but given in MS. Arch. 8eld. B 24.
For they ben -worthy folke withouten les.
And, namely, she spak moste with Ercules,
To him hir herte bare, he sbulde be
Sad, wise, and trewe, of wordes avisee,
Withouten any other affeccioun
Of love, or any other ymaginacioun.'
This Ercules hathe this Jason preysed,
That to the sonne he hath hyt up reysed,
That halfe so trewe a man ther nas of love
Under the cope of hevene, that is above;
And he was wyse, hardy, secre, and ryche;
Of these thre poyntes there nas noon hym liche.
Of fredome passed he, and lustyhede
Alle thoo that lyven, or ben dede.
Therto so grete a gentil man was he,
And of Tessalye likely kynge to be.
Ther nas no lakke, but that he was agaste
To love, and for to speke shamefaste;
Him had lever himselfe to mordre and dye,
Thanne that men shulde a lover him espye.
As wolde God that I hadde iyive
My bloode and flessh, so that I myghte lyve
With the bones, that he hadde ought where a wif
For his estaat! for suche a lusty lyf
She sholde lede with this lusty knyghte!
And al this was compassed on the nyghte
Betwix him Jason, and this Ercules.
Of these twoo here was a shrewede lees,
To come to house upon an innocent,
For to bedote this queene was hire entent.
This Jason is as coy as ys a mayde;
He loketh pitousely, but noghte he sayde
But freely yaf he to hire counselleres
Yiftes grete, and to hire officeres,
As wolde God that I leyser had and tyme,
By processe al his wowyng for to ryme!
But in this house yf any fals lover be,
Ryghte as himselfe now dothe, ryghte so did he,
With feynynge, and with every sobtil dede.
Ye gete no more of me, but ye wol rede
The original that telleth al the cas.
The sothe is this, that Jason weddid was
Unto this queene, and toke of hire substaunce
What so him lyste unto hys purveyaunce;
And upon hire begate children twoo,
And drough his saylle, and saugh hire never moo.
A letter sente she to hym certeyne,
Which were to longe to writen and to seyne;
And him repreveth of his grete untrouthe,
And preyeth him on hire to have some routhe.
And of his children two, she seyde him this;
That they be lyke of alle thinge, y wis,
To Jason, save they cotithe nat begile.
And prayede God, or hit were longe while,
That she that had his herte yrefte hire fro,
Most fynden him to hire untrewe alsoo;
And that she moste booth hire children spille,
And al tho that suffreth hym his wille;
And trewe to Jason was she al hire lyve,
And ever kept hire chaste, as for his wyve;
And never had she joye at hire herte,
But dyed for his love of sorwes smerte.
To Colcos comen is this duke Jason,
That is of love devourer and dragon,
As nature appeteth forme alwey,1
And from forme to forme it passen may;
Or as a welle that were bottomeles,
Byghte so kan Jason have no pees,
For to desiren, thurgh his appetite,
To doon with gentil wymmen hys delyte;
1 The printed editions read matin, which is, perhaps, better than nature. It would mean that even as the accident of form is inseparable from matter, and as in all its changes it can only pass from form to form, so Jason, whatever might be the circumstances in which he was placed, was still the same, one who loved merely to satisfy his appetite.
This is bis luste, and his felicite.
Jason is romed forthe to the cite,
That whylome cleped was Jasonicos,
That was the maister toune of al Colcos,
And hath ytolde the cause of his comynge
Unto JEetes, of that countree kynge;
Praynge him that he most doon his assay
To gete the flese of golde, yf that he may.
Of which the kynge assenteth to hys boone,
And dothe him honour as hyt is doone,
So ferforthe, that his doghtre and his eyre,
Medea, which that was so wise and feyre,
That feyrer saugh ther never man with ye,
He made hire done to Jason companye
Atte mete, and sitte by him in the halle.
Now was Jason a seemely man withalle,
And like a lorde, and had a grete renoun,
And of his loke as rial as lyoun,
And goodly of his speche, and famulere,
And koude of love al crafte and arte plenere
Withoute boke, with everyche observaunce.
And as fortune hire oughte a foule meschaunce,
She wex enamoured upon this man.
'Jason,' quod she, ' for ought I se or kan,
As of this thinge the whiche ye ben aboute,
Ye, and your selfe ye put in moche doute;
For who so wol this aventure acheve,
He may nat wele asterten, as I leve,
Withouten dethe, but I his helpe be.
But nathelesse, hit ys my wille,' quod she,
'To forthren yow, so that ye shal not dye,
But turne sounde home to youre Tessalye.'
'My ryghte lady,' quod thys J ason, 'thoo,
That ye han of my dethe or my woo
Any rewarde, and doon me this honour,
I wote wel, that my myghte, ne my labour,
May nat deserve hit in my lyves day;
God thanke yow, ther I ne kan ne may.