The Library of History

Page 150

Page 150 But it happened, that at that time, the Boreadae, the Brothers of Cleopatra, were Companions with Hercules in this Expedition. These therefore were the First that (by reason of their near Relation) by force of Arms reliev'd the Young Men, and breaking in Pieces their Chains, kill'd as many of the Barbarians as oppos'd them. But when Phineus himself with a multitude of Thracians that came flocking in, marcht up to decide the matter by a Battel, it's said, that then Hercules stoutly laid about him, and slew both Phineus, and a great number of the other Thraclans. Then seizing upon the King's City and Palace, he set Cleopatra at liberty, and restor'd to her Sons their Father's Kingdom; who resolving to be reveng'd upon their Step-mother, he persuaded them to forbear doing any such thing, but rather to send Messengers into Scythia to her Father, to let him know that they left her wholly to his Discretion, to be punish'd for her Offences. Which being done accordingly, the Scythian put his Daughter to Death; and the Sons of Cleopatra were highly commended by the Thracians for their Mildness and Equity. But I am not ignorant how some of the Fabulous Authors relate, that Phineus put out his Two Sons Eyes, and that in retaliation when he was old, Boreas serv'd him the same Sauce: And they report likewise, that Hercules going out of the Ship to get a little fresh Water, was left behind by the Argonauts in Asia. For in ancient Stories no Historians unanimously agree one with another; and therefore it's not to be admir'd, that in giving account of things in ancient Times, we do not in every thing agree with the Poets and other Writers.

But it's said, that the Two Sons gave up the Kingdom to their Mother Cleopatra, and went along with the Argonauts in their Expedition; who sailing away from Thrace, and arriving at Pontus, landed in Taurica Chersonesus, being altogether ignorant of the cruelty of the Inhabitants: For it was a Custom amongst those Barbarians, to sacrifice all Strangers that arriv'd there, to Diana Taurica. Amongst whom it's said, that in after-times, Ephigenia, the Priests of the Goddess, practis'd the same Cruelty upon all she could lay hold on.

And here in regard the Course of the History requires it, it's requisite we should give an Account of the Causes of this horrid Cruelty executed upon Strangers, especially this Digression seeming pertinent to the Acts of the Argonauts.

They say, that Sol begat Two Sons, Aeetes and Perses, and that Aeetes was King of Colchis, and the other of Taurica, and that both were exceeding cruel. That Hecate was the Daughter of Perses, far more fierce and cruel than her Father; for being given to Hunting (if she could find no Game) she would sport her self with casting her Darts at Men instead of Beasts: She made it her business likewise to compound Deadly Poysons, and was the first that found out Aconitum; and made trial of the nature and efficacy of every Composition, by mixing them with the Food given to Strangers. Being thus grown extraordinary skilful in this devilish Art, she first poyson'd her own Father, and so usurpt the Crown.

Then she built Diana's Temple, and ordered all Strangers that arriv'd there, to be sacrific'd to that Goddess; so that her Cruelty was nois'd abroad in every Place. She afterwards Marry'd Aeetes, and by him had Two Daughters, Cerces and Medea, and one Son call'd Aegialeus. Cerces likewise being much addicted to the Compounding of all sorts of Medicines, found out the wonderful Natures and efficacy of divers sorts of Roots and Herbs, many she learnt of her Mother Hecate, but many more she discover'd by her own industry; so that she left nothing new (for any that came after her) which might any ways advance that Art. This Cerces was Marry'd to the King of the Sarmathians, whom some call Scythians; but she likewise poyson'd her Husband, and so usurping the Kingdom, executed many Butcheries and Cruelties upon the Subjects; for which (as some Writers relate) she was driven out of the Kingdom, and fled to the Ocean, and possessing herself of a certain Desert Island, settl'd there, together with the Women her Companions. But as other Historians say, leaving Pontus, she settl'd in the Promontory of Italy, now call'd from her Cerceum.

They report likewise, that Medea learnt the same Art from her Mother and Sister; but she plainly made use of it for contrary ends and purposes; for she constantly laid out her self to save the Lives of Strangers that were driven thither, sometimes begging the Lives of such as were condemn'd of her Father,

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