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Here begynnes the first Boke. How Kyng
In Tessaile hit tyde as thus in tyme olde, 100 A prouynce appropret aperte to Rome,
An yle enabit nobli and wele
With a maner of men, mermydons called : There was a kyng in pat coste pat pe kithe ought, 104 A noble man for þe nonest is namet Pelleus. That worthy hade a wyfe walit hym-seluon, The truthe for to telle, Tetyda she heght: pes gret in pere gamyn gate hom betwene, 108 Achilles by chaunce chiualrous in armes. (More of thies Myrmydons mell I not now, Enabit in (pat aile,) [ne] Etill will I ferre, How Mawros were men made on a day At þe prayer of a prinse pat peopull hade lost.) This Pelleus pert, prudest in armys, Hade a broper of birthe born or hym-seluyn, That heire was & Eldist, and Eson he hight. 116 Till it fell hym by fortune, faintyng of elde, Unstithe for to stire, or stightill the Realme, And all were, & weike, wantide his sight, Of Septur and soile he sesit his brothir, 120 And hym crownede as kyng in pat kithe riche. Eson afterwarde erdand on lyffe,
Endured his dayes drowpyaite in age,
As Ovid openly in Eydos tellus,
How Medea the maiden made hym all new,
Jason, son of
Aeson, seeks his father's throne.
Pelias devises the plan of sending
Jason in search of the golden
(fol. 4 b.)
Where and how
the golden fleece vas kept.
(MS. has "us.")
By crafte pat she kouth of hir coint artys.
Hade a son of hym-selfe semly to wale,
As meke as a Mayden, & mery of his wordis. This Jason for his gentris was ioyfull till all, 132 Well louit with pe lordes & the londe hole; All worshipped put worthy inwones aboute, No les pan pe lege, þat hom lede shuld:
And he as bainly obeyede to the buerne his Eme, 136 As pof his syre hade the soile & septure to yeme. Pelleus persayuit the people anone,
That the londe so hym louede, lorde as he were,
140 Lest he put hym from priuelage & his place take, Of Tessaile, as truthe wold, to be trew kyng.
Thus Pelleus with payne was pricket in hert, ffull egurly with enuy, & euer hym bethoght, 144 With a course of vnkyndnes he caste in his thoghte,
The freike vpon faire wise ferke out of lyue,
And borne was a brode for a bare aunter.
Was (an) aunter in a nyle þat I nem shall,
HOW THE FLEECE WAS GUARDED.
He was mighty on molde & mekull goode hade, 160 His pride well ouerput, past into elde.
This whethur and þe wole were wonderly keppit
164 Thus coyntly it kept was all with clene art,
These balfull bestes were, as pe boke tellus,
Æetes, king of
The wether guarded by two oxen and a fiery
172 And wo this wethur shuld wyn bude wirke as Whoever would
Ayre euyn to pe Oxen, entre hom in yoke,
win the fleece
must seize the oxen, enter them
in the yoke and
With striffe or with stroke till þai stonde wold; plough up the
176 Sythen drawe to pe dragon, & pe derfe qwelle,
Girde out the grete teth of the grym best,
And alse sede in þe season sowe it on þe erthe,
180 The tethe shall turne tite vnto knightes
Armyt at all peses, able to were
Thai to falle vpon fight as fomen belyue,
He must then quell the dragon; tear out his teeth and sow them like seed.
The teeth will turn into armed
knights, who will fight till they destroy each
With depe woundes and derfe till all be dede other.
184 All thes perels to passe with-outen payne other,
(fol. 5 a)
Why the fleeco was so carefully guarded. Eetes had a great sum of money hid in the earth, and thus kept it.
get Jason away from Iolcus.
At a great feast arranged for the purpose,
he entices him to
go to Colchis for
the golden fleece.
(fol. 5 b.)
192 And for to get of this gold & the grete sommys,
196 Iff he might sleghly be sleght & sletyng of wordes,
He were seker as hym semyd for sight of him
And most likly be loste & his los keppit. 200 He purpast hym plainly in his pure wit ffor to tyse hym perto, if it tyde might, To take it hertely on hond in a high pride, And pe way for to wylne with wilfull desyre. He cast hym full cointly be cause of this thyng, In a Cité be-syde to somyn a fest,
With princes and prelates & prise of the lond, Thre dayes to endure with daintes ynogh. 208 The iijd day throly he thoght in his hert
ffor to mele of this mater, þat he in mynde hade :
"Cosyn, it is knowen þat I am Kyng here,
But more it Joyes me, Jason, of þi just werkes, hat so mighty & meke & manly art holdyn: 216 Now pi fame shall go fer & pu furse holdyn, And all prouyns & pertes pi pes shall desyre. To tessayle a tresure tristy for euer,
Thy selfe to be sene and in suche fame, 220 By pi name pus anoisyt & for noble holden, Whyle you rixlis in this Reame no riot we drede, But all fferd be perfore and frendship dyssire. Hit wold sothely me set as souerayne in Joye, 224 Iff our goddes wold graunt þat þu grace hade,
THE REWARDS PROMISED.
That the filese pat is freshe flamond of gold Were brought throw pi boldness into pis byg yle And pat wold doutles be done & no dere In, 228 Wold þu afforce pe perfore and pe fight take, Be of gouernance graithe & of good wille.
Yiff þu puttes þe pristly pis point for to do,
I shall spare for no spence & pu spede wele,
þu may be glad for to get such a good name,
I will fayne pe [no] faintis vnder faith wordes.
Halfe for to haue & hold for pi name,
And with all weghis to be worshipt to be worldes
The rewards promised if he should be successful.
WHEN PELLEUS his proses hade puplishit on Jason undertakes
248 And all soburly said with a sad wille,
Jason was Joly of his Juste wordes,
bat in presens of the pepull po profers were made,
252 He hedit not the harme pat in his hert lurkyt,
But hooped full hertely it come of hegh loue. 256 pen he trist hym full tyte in his tried strenght,
(fol. 6 a.)
and has no suspicion of harm, falsehood, or deceit on the part of his uncle