While Jason, the Argonauts and Medea prepare to leave, having defeated the warriors of Colchis, the men and women of Aulis advise the king, with the men alternating between giving up and pursuing the Greek sailors, and the women advising against any further retribution – knowing as they do that the Fleece now carries powerful and dreadful curses.
Men: Now we’ve exhausted all our cunning arts.
Give up, King Aeëtes: Jason will take
Both the fleece, and some portion of our hearts.
Help us, Aeëtes! Bind and nurse our hurts;
Share with us such comfort as Artemis sends,
When Medea boards Argo and departs.
Diane’s quiver holds many silver darts,
And each can make men sleep, or take a life.
Her bending, curving bow should scatter strife
Among the sailors. Though Argo departs,
They need not sail so securely away;
Let holy vengeance their insults repay.
Women: We must see things by Apollo’s harsh ray:
Jason won the Fleece, and now he departs.
Artemis will not answer when we pray;
And she has no authority to slay
Hera’s hero. We will not swiftly wake
To find the Fleece in its grove. Not today
Will any goddess cause the Fleece to stay,
And never again. What Fortune intends,
She’ll spur men to deeds to achieve her ends;
Women’s actions, too, Fate will shape like clay:
This one a virgin, and that one a wife;
This one joyous; that one bound in grief.
Men: They shamed us. We should harry them with strife.
Prepare the long-oared warships straight away.
The sea is stormy and will bring them to grief,
And our swords and spears will take Jason’s life –
And his crew with him! A warrior’s arts
May carry back to Greece our rage and strife;
We’ll take their treasures with spearpoint and knife..
The hymens of their daughters will we break;
From childhood dreams, their sons will not wake.
The Argonauts must suffer for our grief,
And we’ll make their blood run on their home sands,
And burn their palaces with flaming brands!
Women: Give up! The fleece is taken from your hands;
Medea has gone to be Jason’s wife,
And no one may know what Hera intends
For the Argonauts. Many dismal ends
May fall on them all, and the light of day
Must gleam less bright than Artemis intends –
Magic glows in moonlight Diana sends,
Yet rising sun diminishes the Art.
Jason forgot in his haste to depart
That a mere ram’s fleece will not make amends
With his crooked king. Medea will walk
From her dream of love, and vengeance she’ll take
Men: when Jason abandons her for the sake
Of some new princess…. Thus the Fleece defends
Its own honor from a thief who would take
Diane’s trophy so his fame might awake.
Slowly we rouse ourselves from dreams of strife;
Empire’s vision dissolves when we wake.
Would vengeance on Jason our passions slake?
Would victory wash desire away?
Revenge must lead to empire, some day.
So shall we find another course to take.
We’ll stay home, cultivating peaceful arts.
Let others seek the crown the Fleece imparts.
Women: Well done, men! Watch as the Argo departs,
Carrying Diana’s treasure away;
Medea leaves us too, as Jason’s wife.
Yet the Fleece brings doom to family and friends;
Murder and ruin shall ride in their wake.