Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

71

AMBITION; A GREEK TALE.*

CHAPTER V.

H A P P Y NUPTIALS.

The loving couple believed the nuptial flame to be hid in the depths of their breasts, although it shone in their faces, their eyes, and their actions; for without perceiving that they were led by an insidious deity, they used to try and search out, and converse with one another. They planted flowers together; were happy when in each other's society, but miserable if separated. Agarista and Thestoris, well versed in human affections, quickly perceived that, which became the more manifest, as there was less attempt at conccalment. It appeared to them, that this open affection should proceed no further, without some fixed purpose ; Thestoris commenced, by saying, “You know, Agarista, since you are so intelligent, how great is the power of the feeling which has overcome our children. I call you the mother of Posseideo, because you have in his case completely fulfilled, and do fulfil, all maternal duties; nevertheless, you are not, in fact, his mother. Hence it is, that a disagreeable obscurity spreads itself over the cradle of your Posseideo ; the Gods, who alone know his condition, have concealed it from mortals. Hence, though he be of heroic race, and of an illustrious country, his sad fate will not admit him to boast of either one or the other, and he remains therefore only exposed to the licentious judgment of the vulgar; now, in such uncertainty you well know how much opinions and customs are opposed to the gratification of amorous desires." With much readiness she answered, “ I am aware how much you would be blamed for uniting an illustrious daughter to a husband who can point to no cradle but the bark of a vine, nor any other patrimony but his misfortunes; but it appears to me, that the affection with which, (not without the will of the Gods), 1 have received and grown old with him, can compensate the hostility of fortune ; this very moment I am prepared to fulfil my duty worthily, and am therefore ready to be his mother, not only in name, but in the right of the laws, and, as my son, leave him heir to all my fortune. In this way, you see every stain will be blotted out from his birth, and he will become worthy of a noble match.” Thestoris consented to the noble offer, and they agreed to second cordially the mutual desire of the two lovers.

* Continued from page 16, vol. ii. No. X. VOL. II.-NO. XI.

1

To extinguish warlike hatred is a difficult task, even for the most eloquent tongue; but to join in love two hearts, already palpitating, requires few and common words. The conditions of marriage therefore being settled, the purchase of necklaces, rings, silver goblets, and splendid garments being effected, the young people burned to plight their hands at the altar. Neither did a less anxiety stimulate the parents to unite them, for Posseideo, always violent in his passion, was now consuming with a voracious fire; and Glycystoma, not more happy, but even sorrowful and silent, showed herself already the votary of Hymen. The isle of Samothracia, an inviolable asylum, and sacred to the Gods, was but a short distance from Lemnos. Agarista, to procure for the nuptials happy auspices, wished that the ceremony should be therefore performed in the temple of Juno. Hence a ship was prepared, covered with a purple awning, under which soft feather beds were placed, and the marriage party lay down upon them. The poop was crowned with ivy, mixed with flowers. At the prow a concert of harps, lyres, flutes, and singers filled with delightful harmony the sails, just expanded to the breeze. The damsel leaped upon deck, with a step light through the joy which filled her breast. A white and slender garment covered her limbs, as mist on a lily.

The bridegroom, in a surcoat adorned with gold and gems, cared nothing for the delights of harmony, but extracted others far superior from the eyes of the lovely girl by his side. The zephyrs urged the ship, and the sea was swelling with the favourable breeze. The dancing dolphins spouted water from their nostrils. Aurora had scarcely yet extended her rosy mantle, when the kingfishers left the rock, and fluttered over the placid waves. The sun had not yet brushed away the dew, when the bridal party reached their destination.

The servants of Agarista, who had been sent on the preceding day to a neighbouring hill, commanded a view of the sea. There, in a delightful pavilion, delicate viands smoked upon the table; neither were fruits wanting, nor exquisite wines. The couple tasted but little of them, feeding on thoughts of amorous delight. Their eager eyes shone, and their laughing lips betrayed the happiness of their hearts. The residue of the guests enjoyed themselves at the prepared feast, but when they rose from table, and adjourned to the threshold, there a company of damsels met them, crowned with flowers, and invited them, in pleasant words, to swear fidelity in the temple. The inhabitants ran to witness the spectacle, and with hospitable pleasantry some praised in extemporaneous verses the beauty of the bride, and the valour of the bridegroom; others scattered flowers in their path, and upon ther; some invoked the Gods and Hymen, with devout hymns, and sometimes from the crowd a bold word was utterd, which was admitted on the festive occasion. Mothers called the parents of such a couple happy. In the midst of these acclamations, Glycystoma walked forward with downcast brow, and slow pace. Erostratus felt his own gaiety increased by that of the multitude. A band of youths in tight garments danced around the procession, and others performed the nuptial dance with steps of wonderful agility. A band of matrons of staid manners, clothed in ample mantles, followed in the rear. Thus did the party arrive at the temple; and when it entered, drums and trumpets resounded.

The grave priests, arrayed in splendid vestments, stood at the altar, and gemmed diadems glittered on their foreheads. A boy was sprinkling incense upon live coals. The chief of the priests extended his arms towards the bride and bridegroom, and invited them to draw near, which they obeyed, with their faces gently declined, and their hands crossed on their bosoms; then, turning to the image of the deity, with a loud voice he prayed in this wise

« Oh, kind consort of the Almighty thunderer! turn a propitious ear upon these betrothed people, who have come to implore your mercy. One of your celestial smiles can render for ever happy the ties which will now bind them. Grant them an obedient, beautiful, and illustrious offspring, by which they may be comforted in the decline of life.”

Whilst the priest was saying this, the multitude remained reverently silent, and some drops fell from the beautiful eyes of Glycystoma ; Erostratus observed a becoming position. Then the priest placed on both their foreheads a chaplet of flowers, perfumed them with incense, and sprinkled wine upon the altar. The bridegroom then placed upon her finger a ring, the pledge of eternal faith ; and a bull which had been bowing under the axe, was at that moment slaughtered as a victim.* The temple resounded with hymns to the goddess, beseeching her to accept the burnt-offering, which the priests afterwards distributed, with the accustomed ceremonies.

When all these were completed, the young couple became anxious to set sail. The islanders dismissed the navigators with happy auspicies, and prayed that the sea might continue calm, for the sake of the newly-married couple. The northren breeze blew propitious, the serene sky was mirrored in the sea, and it seemed as if the celestial and marine Gods smiled upon the happy union.

Glycystoma also was gratified, and admired the placid aspect of the elements. Erostratus, gazing on her lovely countenance, forgot heaven, the sea, and himself.

* In ancient sacrifices it was customary not to accept a victim unless it had previously bowed at the altar, and given as it were its consent to be offered up; as the animal would seldom do this of its own accord, compulsory means were restored to, by pouring wine into its ears, &c.

CHAPTER VI.

FICKLENESS OF FORTUNE.

The ship was fast reaching the end of its passage, when the ho- . rizon, till now quite clear, was covered with a sudden darkness. In a short time the black clouds thickened, and Boreas raged among them. The waves were rising afar off

. The angry whirlwind drove the storm towards the ship, and damaged the sails by their violence. The experienced captain watched the approaching storm with apprehensions, and in a short time it increased so much, that the very air became black; every shore disappeared; the wind and the waves began to swell; the sails were furled, and the ship abandoned to its fate. Oh! deceitful Thetis ! how you invite us with smiling looks to plough your insidious bosom. Behold the mountains and abysses of water; the ship rises and sinks with them ; every shock appears the last; the devouring waves roar, and the thunder rattles over them; frequent lightning alone discloses the formidable aspect of death. The trembling hand but ill governs the helm, and the sailors, already naked, prepare for swimming. Tears and groans were mixed with the wind, the thunder, and the waves. Erostratus, with firm voice, was comforting the disheartened sailors, and, consoling Glycystoma, pretended to laugh at the danger, and said that Lemnos was close at hand. Oppressed with terror, and swooning in his embrace, she was at this moment less unhappy than the rest. Behold the boat dashed against the rocks ; the tremendous shock announces death; a wave burst the shattered vessel open, and planks, yard-arms, and sails are seen floating on the sea. One man prays to Heaven, but a wave closes his mouth for ever; another seeks safety in swimming, and becoming weary, shortly sinks to the bottom. Glycystonia, torn form the arms which in vain attempted to retain her, was dashed into the sea; and Erostratus, while swimming, seized hold of a rudder which was near him, and floating upon it, was at the will of fortune.

The poor girl, half-dead, by a wonderful chance, kept floating about on part of the poop, which had come off safe in the wreck; but another wave, as big as Caucasus, dashed this fragment upon rocks which jutted out near the shore. Not far off, a few sailors, rolling their eyes in vain through the black air, caught hold of the rocks and sea-weed with their weary hanıls, having reached the shore by swimming. But some were torn off in this last endeavour, and, dashed away by new waves, were drowned. Some mounted on them by crawling, and then dropped down exhausted. Erostratus was dashed against them, and his first words were to call upon the waves, upon Heaven,

and the rocks, for his Glycystoma ; but his lamentations were dissipated by the winds.

Meanwhile, dawn appeared, and every one turned his afflicted eyes towards the east. The scene which was discerned through the doubtful light so filled their minds with terror, that they remained silent, and withdrew towards a higher eminence. There they saw the dead cast upon the shore, and others still the sport of the waves. Their tears dropped together into the waters of the sea. More miserable than the rest, Erostratus deemed his incredible disasters a dream excited by a convulsive motion of the heart. He clambered up amongst the hari stones in search of his wretched companions. He desired, an i at the same time feared, to see them. A deep anguish seized his heart, and he thought of throwing himself as a victim into the sea to appease it. But he saw, at last, his wife prostrate on a remnant of the ship. To behold her, to rush towards her, to embrace her, to kiss her, were but the work of a moment. She, pale, clammy, and disfigured by the sea, remained cold to all these affectionate actions. Her form was still elegant, for she had not been drowned, but exhausted through fear. Behold her now, the object of tears, so lately the delight of all eyes.

In the mean time, the parents in Lemnos, when they saw the sca stormy, underwent terrible apprehensions. They hoped the prudent sailors might have waited for a calm ; and then, again, they feared they might have set sail on account of the impatience of the young couple. In such doubts did they gaze upon the stormy waves, as long as it was day; and when, at last, the veil of night was extended over them, the one kept awake, talking sorrowfully about the dreaded misfortune, and the other, grieving with her maidens, burnt incense to the household gods, beseeching them to restrain the trident, the shaker of the sea. Both of them tried to persuade the boatmen all along the shore to put off to their assistance, but every one refused to try such a boisterous sea. They were, however, relieved from fear when they saw the sun rise. About twenty boats left in search, one of which, passing the shore of Imbros, saw some people on it imploring succour, with desperate gesticulations. The sailors, therefore, went on shore, and recognised the shipwrecked inhabitants of Lemnos, and heard from them an account of their misfortunes.

The island of Imbros lies between Lemnos and Samothracia, and it is surrounded on the west by the rocks, which are much dreaded by sailors. On these the wretched remant of the hymeneal party had sought protection. There, the bride descended into the tomb, just as she was about to ascend the marriage-bed; and the bridegroom dissolved in tears, who was but lately crowned with nuptial robes. He, mute and immovable as the rock on which he sat, with his eyes fixed on the remains of Glycystoma, did not hear the kind invitation of the

« AnteriorContinuar »