Abbildungen der Seite

of the chance did institute solemn funeral games called Nemæan, wherein Adrastus won the prize with his swift horse Arion, Tydeus with whirlbats, Amphiaraus at running and quoiting, Polynices at wrestling, Parthenopæus at shooting, and one Laodocus in darting. This was the first institution of the Nemæan games, which continued after famous in Greece for very many ages. There are who think that they were ordained in honour of one Opheltus, a Lacedæmonian; some say by Hercules, when he had slain the Nemæan lion; but the common opinion agrees with that which is here set down.

From Nemæa, the Argives marching onwards arrived at Citheron, whence Tydeus was by them sent ambassador to Thebes, to require of Eteocles the performance of covenants between him and Polynices. This message was nothing agreeable to Eteocles, who was thoroughly resolved to hold what he had as long as he could: which Tydeus perceiving, and intending partly to get honour, partly to try what mettle was in the Thebans, he made many challenges, and obtained victory in all of them, not without much envy and malice of the people, who laid fifty men in ambush to intercept him at his return to the army; of which fifty he slew all but one, whom he sent back to the city, as a reporter and witness of his valour. When the Argives understood how resolved Eteocles was, they presented themselves before the city, and encamped round about it. Thebes is said to have had at that time seven gates, which belike stood not far asunder, seeing that the Argives (who afterward, when they were very far stronger, could scarce muster up more thousands than Thebes had gates) did compass the town. Adrastus quartered before the gate Homoloides, Capaneus before the Ogygean, Tydeus before Crenis, Amphiaraus at Proetis, Hippomedon at Anchais, Parthenopæus at Electra, and Polynices at Hypsista. In the mean season, Eteocles, having armed his men, and appointed commanders unto them, took advice of Tiresias the soothsayer, who promised victory to the Thebans, if Menæcius, the son of Creon, a principal man of the city, would vow himself to be slain in honour of Mars the god of war. So full of malice and pride is the Devil, and so envious at his Creator's glory, that he not only challengeth honours due to God alone, as oblations and sacrifices, with all divine worship, but commandeth us to offer ourselves and our children unto him, when he hath sufficiently clouded men's understanding, and bewitched their wills with ignorance and blind devotion. And such abominable sacrifice of men, maids, and children hath he exacted of the Syrians, Carthaginians, Gauls, Germans, Cyprians, Egyptians, and of many other, if not of all nations, when through ignorance or fear they were most filled with superstition. But as they grew more wise, so did he wax less impudent in cunning, though not less malicious in desiring the continuance of such barbarous inhumanity. For king Diphilus in Cyprus, without advice of any oracle, made the idol of that country rest contented with an ox instead of a man. Tiberius forbade human sacrifices in Afric; and crucified the priests in the groves where they had practised them. Hercules taught the Italians to drown men of hay instead of the living; yet among the savages in the West Indies these cruel offerings have been practised of late ages; which as it is a sufficient argument that Satan's malice is only covered and hidden by this subtlety among civil people, so may it serve as a probable conjecture of the barbarisms then reigning in Greece. For Menæcius, as soon as he understood that his death might purchase victory to his people, bestowed himself (as he thought) upon Mars, killing himself before the gates of the city. Then was a battle fought, wherein the Argives prevailed so far at the first, that Capaneus, advancing ladders to the walls, got up upon the rampart; whence, when he fell, or was cast down, or (as writers have it) was stricken down by Jupiter with a thunderbolt, the Argives fled. Many on each part were slain in this battle, which caused both sides to desire that Eteocles and Polynices might try out the quarrel in single fight; where the two brethren accordingly slew each other.

Another battle was fought after their death, wherein the sons of Astacus behaved themselves very valiantly : Ismarus, one of the sons, slew Hippomedon, which was one of the seven princes; Parthenopæus, being another of the seven, (who was said to have been so fair that none would hurt him when his face was bare,) was slain by Amphidicus, or, as some say, by Periclymenus, the son of Neptune; and the valiant Tydeus by Menalippus; yet ere Tydeus died, the head of Menalippus was brought unto him by Amphiaraus, which he cruelly tore open, and swallowed up the brains. Upon which fact, it is said, that Pallas, who had brought from Jupiter such remedy for his wound as should have made him immortal, refused to bestow it upon him ; whereby perhaps was meant that his honour, which might have continued immortal, did perish through the beastly rage that he shewed at his death.

The host of the Argives being wholly discomfited, Adrastus and Amphiaraus fled; of whom Amphiaraus is said to have been swallowed quick into the earth, near to the river Ismenus, together with his chariot, and so lost out of men's sight, being peradventure overwhelmed with dead carcasses or drowned in the river, and his body never found, nor greatly sought for. Adrastus escaped on his good horse Arion, and came to Athens; where sitting at an altar, called the altar of mercy, he made supplication for their aid to recover their bodies. For Creon having obtained the government of Thebes, after the death of Eteocles, would not suffer the bodies of the Argives to be buried; but caused Antigone, the only daughter then living of Edipus, to be buried quick, because she had sought out and buried the body of her brother Polynices, contrary to Creon's edict. The Athenians condescending to the request of Adrastus, did send forth an army under the conduct of Theseus, which took Thebes, and restored the bodies of the Argives to sepulchre; at which time Evadne, the wife of Capaneus, threw herself into the funeral fire, and was burnt willingly with her husband. But it little contented the sons of those captains which were slain at Thebes, that any less revenge should be taken of their fathers' death than the ruin of the

city; wherefore ten years after having levied forces, Ægialeus the son of Adrastus, Diomedes of Tydeus, Promachus of Parthenopæus, Sthenelus of Capaneus, Thersander of Polynices, and Euripylus of Mecisteus, marched thither under the conduct of Alcmæon the son of Amphiaraus; with whom also went his brother Amphiloctus. Apollo promised victory if Alcmæon were their captain, whom afterward by another oracle he commanded to kill his own mother.

When they came to the city, they were encountered by Laodamas the son of Eteocles, then king of the Thebans, (for Creon was only tutor to Laodamas,) who though he did valiantly in the battle, and slew Ægialeus, yet was he put to the worst, and driven to fly, or (according to Apollodorus) slain by Alcmæon. After this disaster the citizens began to desire composition ; but in the mean time they conveyed themselves with their wives and children away from thence by night, and so began to wander up and down, till at length they built the town called Estiæa. The Argives, when they perceived that their enemies had quitted the town, entering into it, sacked it, threw down the walls, and laid it waste; howbeit it is reported by some, that the town was saved by Thersander, the son of Polynices, who, causing the citizens to return, did there reign over them. That he saved the city from utter destruction, it is very likely, for he reigned there, and led the Thebans to the war of Troy, which very shortly after ensued.

SECT. IX. Of Jephta, and how the three hundred years which he speaketh of,

Judg. xi. 28, are to be reconciled with the places, Acts xiii. 20. i Kings vi. 1; together with some other things touching chronology about these times.

AFTER the death of Jair, (near about whose times these things happened in Greece, and during whose government, and that of Thola, Israel lived in peace and in order,) they revolted again from the law and service of God, and became more wicked and idolatrous than ever. For where

as in the former times they worshipped P Baal and Asteroth, they now became followers of all the heathen nations adjoining, and embraced the idols of the Aramites, of the Zidonians, Moabites, and Ammonites; with those of the Philistines. And as before it pleased God to correct them by the Aramites, by the Amalekites, and Midianites; so now he scourged them by the 9 Ammonites, and afterward by the Philistines.

Now among the Israelites, those of Gilead being most oppressed, because they bordered upon the Ammonites, they were enforced to seek Jephta, whom they had formerly despised and cast from them, because he was base born; but he (notwithstanding those former injuries) participating more of godly compassion than of devilish hatred and revenge, was content to lead the Gileadites to the war, upon condition that they should establish him their governor after victory. And when he had disputed with Ammon for the land, disproved Ammon's right, and fortified the title of Israel by many arguments, the same prevailing nothing, he began the war; and being strengthened by God, overthrew them; and did not only beat them out of the plains, but forced them over the mountains of Arabia, even to Minnith, and Abel of the vineyards, cities expressed heretofore in the description of the Holy Land. After which victory, it is said that he performed the vain vow which he made, to sacrifice the first living creature he encountered coming out of his house to meet him; which happened to be his own daughter, and only child, who with all patience submitted herself, and only desired two months time to bewail her virginity on the mountains of Gilead, because in her the issues of her father ended; but the other opinion, that she was not offered, is more probable, which s Borræus and others prove sufficiently.

After these things the children of Israel, of the tribe of Ephraim, either envious of Jephta's victory, or otherwise P Judg. x.

which year Jephta began, Judg. xi.. 9 The persecution of the Ammon Judg. xi. 33. ites lasted eighteen years, and ended Bor. in Judg. in the year of the world 2820, in

« ZurückWeiter »