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in which the grains of gold remain, and the water passeth through; which Strabo witnesseth to be true. The many rocks, straits, sands, and currents, in the passage between Greece and the bottom of Pontus, are poetically converted into those fiery bulls, the armed men rising out of the ground, the dragon cast asleep, and the like. The man of brass, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, were other hazards and adventures which they fell into in the Mediterranean sea, disguised, as the rest, by Orpheus, under poetical morals; all which Homer afterwards used (the man of brass excepted) in the description of Ulysses's travels on the same inland seas.
SECT. VII. Of Abimelech, Tholah, and Jair, and of the Lapitha, and of The
seus, Hippolytus, &c. * AFTER the death of Gideon, Abimelech his base son, begotten on a concubine of the Sechemites, remembering what offers had been made to his father by the people, who desired to make him and his their perpetual princes, and, as it seemeth, supposing (notwithstanding his father's religious modesty) that some of his brethren might take on them the sovereignty, practised with the inhabitants of Sechem (of which his mother was native) to make election of himself, ,who being easily moved with the glory to have a king of their own, readily condescended; and the better to enable Abimelech, they borrowed d seventy pieces of silver of their idol Baalberith, with which treasure he hired a company of loose and desperate vagabonds to assist his first detestable enterprise, to wit, the slaughter of his seventy brethren, the sons of Gideon, begotten on his wives, of which he had many; of all which none escaped but e Jotham the youngest, who hid himself from his present fury; all which he executed, on one stone, a cruelty exceeding all that hath been written of in any age. . Such is human ambition, a monster that neither feareth God, (though all powerful, and whose revenges are without date and for everlasting,) neither hath it respect to nature, which laboureth the preservation of d Judges ix. 4.
• Judges ix. 5.
which eventyd the
every being; but it rageth also against her, though garnished with beauty which never dieth, and with love that hath no end. All other passions and affections, by which the souls of men are tormented, are by their contraries oftentimes resisted or qualified. But ambition, which begetteth every vice, and is itself the child and darling of Satan, looketh only towards the ends by itself set down, forgetting nothing (how fearful and inhuman soever) which may serve it; remembering nothing, whatsoever justice, piety, right, or religion can offer and allege, on the contrary. It ascribeth the lamentable effects of like attempts to the error or weakness of the undertakers, and rather praiseth the adventure than feareth the like success. It was the first sin that the world had, and began in angels; for which they were cast into hell, without hope of redemption. It was more ancient than man, and therefore no part of his natural corruption. The punishment also preceded his creation ; yet hath the Devil, which felt the smart thereof, taught him to forget the one, as out of date, and to practise the other, as befitting every age and man's condition. .
Jotham, the youngest of Gideon's sons, having escaped the present peril, sought by his best persuasions to alienate the Sechemites from the assisting of this merciless tyrant, letting them know, that those which were virtuous, and whom reason and religion had taught the safe and happy estate of moderate subjection, had refused to receive, as unlawful, what others had not power to give without direction from the King of kings; who from the beginning (as to his own peculiar people) had appointed them, by whom and how to be governed. This he taught them by the olive, which contented itself with its fatness, the fig-tree with sweetness, and the vine with the good juice it had; the bramble only, who was most base, cut down all the rest, and accepted the sovereignty. He also foretold them by a prophetical spirit what should befall them in the end, and how a fire should come out of the bramble and consume the cedars of Libanon.
Now (as it is an easy matter to call those men back whom
rage without right led on) Gaal the son of Ebed withdrew the citizens of Sechem from the service of Abimelech ; who therefore, after some assaults, entered the place, and mastered it; and in conclusion fired the town, wherein their idol Baalberith was worshipped, and put all the people of all sorts to the slaughter. Lastly, in the assault of the castle or tower of Teber, himself was wounded in the head with a stone thrown over the wall by a woman; and finding himself mortally bruised, he commanded his own page to pierce his body, thereby to avoid the dishonour of being slain by so feeble a hand.
While Abimelech usurped the government, the Lapithæ and Centaurs made war against the Thebans. These nations were descended of Apollo, and were the first in those parts that devised to manage horses, to bridle and to sit them: insomuch, as when they first came down from the mountains of Pindus into the plains, those which had never seen horsemen before, thought them creatures compounded of men and horses: so did the f Mexicans, when Ferdinando Cortes the Spaniard first invaded that empire.
After the death of Abimelech, Thola of Issachar governed Israel 23 years, and after him Jair the Gileadite 22 years, who seemeth to be descended of Jair the son of Manasse, who in Moses's time conquered a great part of Gilead, and called the same after his own name, 8 Habeth Jair. For to this Jair there remained h thirty of those cities which his ancestor had recovered from the Amorites. Of these judges because there is nothing else written, it is an argument that during all their times Israel lived without disturbance and in peace.
When Jair judged Israel, Priamus began to reign in Troy, who, at such time as Hercules sacked Ilium, was carried away captive with his sister Hesione into Greece, and being afterwards redeemed for ransom, he rebuilt and greatly strengthened and adorned Troy; and so far enlarged his dominions, as he became the supreme lord in
h Judges x.
f Palaphatus, 1. 1. de Incredib. & Deut. iii. 14. Numb. xii. 41.
effect of all Asia the Less. He married Hecuba, the daughter of Cisseus, king of Thirace, and had in all (saith iCicero) fifty sons, whereof seventeen by Hecuba, of whom Paris was one; who, attempting to recover his aunt Hesione, took Helena, the wife of Menelaus, the cause of the war which followed.
Theseus, the tenth king of Athens, began likewise to reign in the beginning of Jair: some writers call him the son of Neptune and Æthra ; but Plutarch, in the story of his life, finds him begotten by Ægeus, of whom the Grecian sea between it and Asia the Less took name. For when Minos had mastered the Athenians so far, as he forced them to pay him seven of their sons every year for tribute, whom he enclosed within a labyrinth, to be devoured by the monster Minotaur; because belike the sons of Taurus, which he begat on Pasiphaë the queen, had the charge of them ; among these seven Theseus thrust himself, not doubting by his valour to deliver the rest, and to free his country of that slavery occasioned for the death of Androgeus, Minos's son. · And having possessed himself of Ariadne's affection, who was Minos's daughter, he received from her a bottom of thread, by which he conducted himself through all the crooked and inextricable turnings of the labyrinth, made in all like that of the city of crocodiles in Egypt; by mean whereof, having slain Minotaur, he found a ready way to return. But whereas his father Ægeus had given order, that if he came back with victory and in safety he should use a white sail in sign thereof, and not that mournful black sail under which they left the port of Athens; this instruction being either forgotten or neglected, Ægeus descrying the ship of Theseus with a black sail, cast himself over the rocks into the sea, afterward called of his name Ægeum.
One of the first famous acts of Theseus was the killing of Scyron, who kept a passage between Megara and the Peloponnesian isthmus, and threw all whom he mastered into
i In Tusc. RALEGH, HIST, WORLD, VOL. II.
the sea from the high rocks. Afterward he did the like to Cercyon by wrestling, who used by that art to kill others. He also rid the country of Procrustes, who used to bend down the strong limbs of two trees, and fastened by cords such as he took, part of them to one and part to the other bough, and by their springing back tare them asunder. So did he root out Periphetes, and other mischievous thieves and murderers. He overthrew the army of the Amazons, who, after many victories and vastations, entered the territory of Athens. Theseus, having taken their queen Hippolyta prisoner, begat on her Hippolytus ; with whom afterward his mother-in-law Phædra falling in love, and he refusing to abuse his father's bed, Phædra persuaded Theseus that his son offered to force her; after which it is feigned, that Theseus besought Neptune to revenge this wrong of his son's by some violent death. Neptune, taking a time of advantage, sent out his sea-calves, as Hippolytus passed by the sea-shore, and so affrighted his horses, as casting the coach over, he was (by being entangled therein) torn in pieces; which miserable and undeserved destiny when Phædra had heard of, she strangled herself. After which it is feigned, that Diana entreated Æsculapius to set Hippolytus's pieces together, and to restore him to life; which done, because he was chaste, she led him with her into Italy, to accompany her in her hunting and field sports.
It is probable that Hippolytus, when his father sought his life, thinking to escape by sea, was affronted thereat, and received many wounds in forcing his passage and escape, which wounds Æsculapius, to wit, some skilful physician or chirurgeon, healed again; after which he passed into Italy, where he lived with Diana, that is, the life of a hunter, in which he most delighted. But of these ancient profane stories, Plutarch saith well, that as cosmographers in their descriptions of the world, where they find many vast places, whereof they know nothing, fill the same with strange beasts, birds, and fishes, and with mathematical lines; so do the Grecian historians and poets embroider and intermix the tales of ancient times with a world of fictions and fabulous