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▶  More from Histories Off Stand the Wolves
In the Wake of the Flying Ram
Off Stand the Wolves 5
Jason, preparing within his home,
Tended by many bustling slaves,
His mother wailing, arms wrapped about his neck,
His age-smote father abed like a carven stone,
The slave women mourning him as if dead,
His stricken father contributing his hollow moan—
Jason soothed them all with good-parting words
And directed his attendants to martial his panoply [1] down to the sea.
Following his armor-bearers, their eyes meekly on the ground,
Jason was hampered by his weeping mother,
Wailing like a girl to her old nurse, her one remaining friend,
Fresh from the blows of her brutal stepmother,
Sobbing too fast to speak of her wilting hope,
Telling of her loneliness and grief as she could to no other:
"Would that I died when King Pelias made his evil demand—
My son, my only child, cast to watery Fate.
That you might bury me;
That you might repay your stay in my womb with a caring tomb—
I dared wish for no more, life is so cruel.
How blind I was,
Cheering that boy Phrixus, flying off on the golden ram [1]
Away from the stepmother who would consign him to the altar, [2]
And here am I, a mother now robbed of her family's last man!"
Alcimede, once the most beautiful of her countrywomen, now clung and moaned, her slave-women gathered around, clinging to her ankles and hem, echoing her laments.
Recognizing this as a test of his commanding being, Jason set his mother gently down, slipping her hands apart:
"Mother, dry your tears,
Ease your distress,
Forget the bitterness of your years.
The gods work their mischief and we do our best,
You here, waiting my return.
As for me,
The Shining One has leant me his seer,
I have a fine crew,
Thought-Lady has leant me her steersman.
Now don't be a bird of bad-omen to my ship
And stay with your slave-women, stay here."
Jason was off like a god from his temple,
Down the way to the sea,
Past the House of the Huntress,
Whose aged priestess kissed his hand,
Left by the way, wordless, breathless,
Watching through her tears his golden-haired head—
The cast-out, young chief, fearless, heedless,
Ready for any danger in company with his hero band.
1. The panoply included the body armor, shield and weapons.
2. The fleece of this ram is none other than the object of Jason's quest as assigned by the king jealous of his prowess. The legend itself could symbolize a mission to regain control of a colonial venture to a gold-bearing or shepherding country. The 1700s through 700s B.C. was a time of colonizing and nomadism among the various shorebound communities of the Hellenic race.
3. Men of means, seeking large families, often lost the first wife to childbirth, with the lot of his existing children being one of legendary misery under the governance of the succeeding mother of the household.
By the Wine Dark Sea
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