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Melpomene   


oracle.
The following is the story as it is commonly told. When Jason
had finished building the Argo at the foot of Mount Pelion, he took on
board the usual hecatomb, and moreover a brazen tripod. Thus equipped,
he set sail, intending to coast round the Peloponnese, and so to reach
Delphi. The voyage was prosperous as far as Malea; but at that point a
gale of wind from the north came on suddenly, and carried him out of
his course to the coast of Libya; where, before he discovered the
land, he got among the shallows of Lake Tritonis. As he was turning it
in his mind how he should find his way out, Triton (they say) appeared
to him, and offered to show him the channel, and secure him a safe
retreat, if he would give him the tripod. Jason complying, was shown
by Triton the passage through the shallows; after which the god took
the tripod, and, carrying it to his own temple, seated himself upon
it, and, filled with prophetic fury, delivered to Jason and his
companions a long prediction. "When a descendant," he said, "of one of
the Argo's crew should seize and carry off the brazen tripod, then
by inevitable fate would a hundred Grecian cities be built around Lake
Tritonis." The Libyans of that region, when they heard the words of
this prophecy, took away the tripod and hid it.
The next tribe beyond the Machlyans is the tribe of the Auseans.
Both these nations inhabit the borders of Lake Tritonis, being
separated from one another by the river Triton. Both also wear their
hair long, but the Machlyans let it grow at the back of the head,
while the Auseans have it long in front. The Ausean maidens keep
year by year a feast in honour of Minerva, whereat their custom is
to draw up in two bodies, and fight with stones and clubs. They say
that these are rites which have come down to them from their
fathers, and that they honour with them their native goddess, who is
the same as the Minerva (Athene) of the Grecians. If any of the
maidens die of the wounds they receive, the Auseans declare that
such are false maidens. Before the fight is suffered to begin, they
have another ceremony. One of the virgins, the loveliest of the
number, is selected from the rest; a Corinthian helmet and a
complete suit of Greek armour are publicly put upon her; and, thus
adorned, she is made to mount into a chariot, and led around the whole
lake in a procession. What arms they used for the adornment of their
damsels before the Greeks came to live in their country, I cannot say.
I imagine they dressed them in Egyptian armour, for I maintain that
both the shield and the helmet came into Greece from Egypt. The
Auseans declare that Minerva is the daughter of Neptune and the Lake
Tritonis- they say she quarrelled with her father, and applied to
Jupiter, who consented to let her be his child; and so she became
his adopted daughter. These people do not marry or live in families,
but dwell together like the gregarious beasts. When their children are
full-grown, they are brought before the assembly of the men, which
is held every third month, and assigned to those whom they most
resemble.
Such are the tribes of wandering Libyans dwelling upon the
sea-coast. Above them inland is the wild-beast tract: and beyond that,
a ridge of sand, reaching from Egyptian Thebes to the Pillars of
Hercules. Throughout this ridge, at the distance of about ten days'
journey from one another, heaps of salt in large lumps lie upon hills.
At the top of every hill there gushes forth from the middle of the
salt a stream of water, which is both cold and sweet. Around dwell men
who are the last inhabitants of Libya on the side of the desert,
living, as they do, more inland than the wild-beast district. Of these
nations the first is that of the Ammonians, who dwell at a distance of
ten days' from Thebes, and have a temple derived from that of the
Theban Jupiter. For at Thebes likewise, as I mentioned above, the
image of Jupiter has a face like that of a ram. The Ammonians have
another spring besides that which rises from the salt. The water of
this stream is lukewarm at early dawn; at the time when the market
fills it is much cooler; by noon it has grown quite cold; at this

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