Gateway to the Classics: The Golden Fleece and the Heroes by Padraic Colum
The Golden Fleece and the Heroes by  Padraic Colum

The Departure from Lemnos

dropcap image DAY came when Heracles left the Argo  and went on the Lemnian land. He gathered the heroes about him, and they, seeing Heracles come amongst them, clamored to go to hunt the wild bulls that were inland from the sea.

So, for once, the heroes left the Lemnian maidens who were their friends. Jason, too, left Hypsipyle in the palace and went with Heracles. And as they went, Heracles spoke to each of the heroes, saying that they were forgetting the Fleece of Gold that they had sailed to gain. Jason blushed to think that he had almost let go out of his mind the quest that had brought him from Iolcus. And then he thought upon Hypsipyle and of how her little hand would stay in his, and his own hand became loose upon the spear so that it nearly fell from him. How could he, he thought, leave Hypsipyle and this land of Lemnos behind?

He heard the clear voice of Atalanta as she, too, spoke to the Argonauts. What Heracles said was brave and wise, said Atalanta. Forgetfulness would cover their names if they stayed longer in Lemnos—forgetfulness and shame, and they would come to despise themselves. Leave Lemnos, she cried, and draw Argo  into the sea, and depart for Colchis.

All day the Argonauts stayed by themselves, hunting the bulls. On their way back from the chase they were met by Lemnian maidens who carried wreaths of flowers for them. Very silent were the heroes as the maidens greeted them. Heracles went with Jason to the palace, and Hypsipyle, seeing the mighty stranger coming, seated herself, not on the couch where she was wont to sit looking into the face of Jason, but on the stone throne of King Thoas, her father. And seated on that throne she spoke to Jason and to Heracles as a queen might speak.

In the hall that night the heroes and the Lemnian maidens who were with them were quiet. A story was told; Castor began it and Polydeuces ended it. And the story that Helen's brothers told was:

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