At the foot of the hill was seen the huge funeral pyre, a heap of logs filled with combustible materials. After it had been adorned with the jars, vases, and dishes brought, and the bier lifted upon it, it was290 lighted by torches. Amid the sobs and wails of the spectators, the flames flared high into the air and in an instant the smoke and red blaze enveloped the bier, concealing it from every eye. Many an oil jar, many a box of ointment was now flung upon the fire as a last token of affection and, when it was once more possible to see the pyre, the bier had crumbled into a dark, shapeless mass, from which rose a column of black smoke.Throwing himself at Xenocles’ feet, he clasped his knees and with tears in his eyes exclaimed in the most imploring accents: “My father, punish me, let me be scourged by your slaves—I will offer my back to them myself, but forgive me! Your daughter is dearer to me than the light of my eyes.”
“Well then—home!” replied Hipyllos laughing, “but to-morrow....”“Well, let him rage,” she murmured, “let him rage and call down curses.... To drive my Clytie to this! How she must have suffered! But, by Hera, he shall hear the truth.”“How he snores!” added another.“First to make happiness a household goddess.”But Byssa bent backward over his arm to get as far away from him as possible. At that instant, she remembered her father’s parting charge: “Do not abandon Zeus Hypsistos, that Zeus Hypsistos may not abandon you.”232 The freedman, a short, stout fellow, with a foxy face, lifted a rumpled bird in the air and shrieked into its ear, as though trying to drown the shouts of victory. At the same time the other bird was borne away in triumph, and then carefully taken under its owner’s arm as if it were the most costly treasure.Some of the boldest came nearer, and an old bow-legged simpleton, ridiculously equipped with a gigantic helmet and an enormous club, strode toward the cliff,22 where he made a movement as though he was setting his foot on the neck of a conquered foe.As she sat there quietly she heard the business of the household pursuing its usual course. Her father was whetting his sacrificial knife, her mother was busying herself with the hand-mill, and the female slave was chopping wood outside. Then her mother began to hum a hymn:
- 252 And again the delicate hand moved as if to drop the curtain.
- 65 Byssa blushed and lowered her eyes, but she did not lose her presence of mind.
- “Hush!” she muttered. “I hear dogs barking. Hecate is near—in the cross-road yonder, where her altar stands. Strike these metal basins against each other—let the sound tell her that we feel her approach. Oh, Hecate, stern, exalted goddess, I will pour three libations in thy honor! Thrice accursed be each new fancy of the man this maiden loves. Let him instantly desert her rivals, as Theseus deserted the hapless Ariadne.”
- “Remember, child, that the service he has rendered to me is nothing in comparison to the crime he committed. If his own sin had not made me ill, I should never have needed his assistance.”
- “Let it stand till morning.”
- Byssa, without knowing what she was doing, obeyed and then looked out over the plain, where she beheld a sight that made her tremble from head to foot.
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