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Melpomene   


Etearchus, who ruled over Axus, a city in Crete, and had a daughter
named Phronima. This girl's mother having died, Etearchus married a
second wife; who no sooner took up her abode in his house than she
proved a true step-mother to poor Phronima, always vexing her, and
contriving against her every sort of mischief. At last she taxed her
with light conduct; and Etearchus, persuaded by his wife that the
charge was true, bethought himself of a most barbarous mode of
punishment. There was a certain Theraean, named Themison, a
merchant, living at Axus. This man Etearchus invited to be his
friend and guest, and then induced him to swear that he would do him
any service he might require. No sooner had he given the promise, than
the king fetched Phronima, and, delivering her into his hands, told
him to carry her away and throw her into the sea. Hereupon Themison,
full of indignation at the fraud whereby his oath had been procured,
dissolved forthwith the friendship, and, taking the girl with him,
sailed away from Crete. Having reached the open main, to acquit
himself of the obligation under which he was laid by his oath to
Etearchus, he fastened ropes about the damsel, and, letting her down
into the sea, drew her up again, and so made sail for Thera.
At Thera, Polymnestus, one of the chief citizens of the place,
took Phronima to be his concubine. The fruit of this union was a
son, who stammered and had a lisp in his speech. According to the
Cyrenaeans and Theraeans the name given to the boy was Battus: in my
opinion, however, he was called at the first something else, and
only got the name of Battus after his arrival in Libya, assuming it
either in consequence of the words addressed to him by the Delphian
oracle, or on account of the office which he held. For, in the
Libyan tongue, the word "Battus" means "a king." And this, I think,
was the reason the Pythoness addressed him as she did: she he was to
be a king in Libya, and so she used the Libyan word in speaking to
him. For after he had grown to man's estate, he made a journey to
Delphi, to consult the oracle about his voice; when, upon his
putting his question, the Pythoness thus replied to him:-

Battus, thou camest to ask of thy voice; but Phoebus Apollo
Bids thee establish a city in Libya, abounding in fleeces;

which was as if she had said in her own tongue, "King, thou camest
to ask of thy voice." Then he replied, "Mighty lord, I did indeed come
hither to consult thee about my voice, but thou speakest to me of
quite other matters, bidding me colonise Libya- an impossible thing!
what power have I? what followers?" Thus he spake, but he did not
persuade the Pythoness to give him any other response; so, when he
found that she persisted in her former answer, he left her speaking,
and set out on his return to Thera.
After a while, everything began to go wrong both with Battus and
with the rest of the Theraeans, whereupon these last, ignorant of
the cause of their sufferings, sent to Delphi to inquire for what
reason they were afflicted. The Pythoness in reply told them "that
if they and Battus would make a settlement at Cyrene in Libya,
things would go better with them." Upon this the Theraeans sent out
Battus with two penteconters, and with these he proceeded to Libya,
but within a little time, not knowing what else to do, the men
returned and arrived off Thera. The Theraeans, when they saw the
vessels approaching, received them with showers of missiles, would not
allow them to come near the shore, and ordered the men to sail back
from whence they came. Thus compelled to return, they settled on an
island near the Libyan coast, which (as I have already said) was
called Platea. In size it is reported to have been about equal to
the city of Cyrene, as it now stands.
In this place they continued two years, but at the end of that
time, as their ill luck still followed them, they left the island to
the care of one of their number, and went in a body to Delphi, where
they made complaint at the shrine to the effect that,

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