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strode Tydeus the mighty, Tydeus Eneus' son, Tydeus the favoured of Athene, Tydeus in whom rested the spirit of his native Etolia. An exile was he from his father's house, as his hands were stained with blood. But Adrastus had welcomed him, had performed for him the mystic rites of purification, and had made him his guest-friend. Loudly did he boast of the evil that the might of his arm should bring upon the Cadmeian city. Unthinking one! For the undying gods hate a boaster, and the device upon his shield, the darkness of night, relieved though it was by the glitter of the stars, and the brightness of the moon, of stars the most glorious, was but a type of that night which was so soon to close over his own eyelids.
There was also Capaneus, the Argive hero, a giant of more than mortal stature. He poured forth his impious boasts against heaven itself, and vowed that whether with the consent of the gods or without their consent, he would surely tear down the towers of Thebes; yea, even if the lightning of Zeus stopped the way. For what to him were the lightning of Zeus and his dread thunder? heat at noonday. A naked warrior breathing flame and holding in his hand a burning torch gleamed on his shield, round which was wrought in letters of gold, the inscription, "I will burn a city.”
Even as the summer
Next to him stood another boaster, the Argive Eteoclus, who delighted in arms of strange barbarian form. On his shield he proclaimed that not even Ares himself could keep him out of the enemy's strongholds, and for a device he bare an armed warrior scaling a tower.
With him was another of gigantic form, Hippomedon. The disc of his shield as he whirled it round, struck terror into the heart of the beholder. The device, the work of a cunning workman, bare witness to his daring spirit. For he bore that enemy to the gods of heaven, Typho, breathing forth smoke and flame from his jaws, while around him hissed and twined the meetly attending serpents. There also appeared the youthful Parthenopaus, a maiden warrior from Arcadia, as his name declared, yet far removed from that of a maiden was the savage spirit that animated his youthful frame. Already was he the worshipper of his own spear. On his shield he bare that disgrace to Thebes, the Sphinx devouring one of the sons of Cadmus.
These all gladly followed Polyneices to the war, but with them went one unwillingly, for he loved not that expedition, and knew full well what the end would be, Amphiaraus the prophet, the loved of Apollo, who in days of old had slain the wild boar of Calydon, and had guided
well for the Argonauts their good ship across the pathless sea. had sworn with an oath to his wife to do whatever she might require, and now won over by Polyneices she had charged him to join the Argive chiefs against Thebes. Therefore he went, as his oath bound him, though sore against his will. No device did he bear upon his round shield, for he preferred to be, rather than to seem great. But with many a thought of wisdom did his brain teem, and the gods loved him.
Thus the gallant army was put in array against Thebes. Forth the Argive warriors marched, confident in their own prowess, burning with hope for the plunder of the well built city. And Polyneices marshalled them.
But though he spoke words of good omen, and with a clear open brow promised them a speedy victory, a gnawing care tortured his soul. His father's curse brooded over him, and he felt that he was marching to his doom. At times the remembrance of his sweet sister's pleadings all but unmanned him, and made him waver in his resolution, but then again the thought of his unmerited wrongs at the hands of his countrymen, and the memory of his brother's treachery stung his soul, and quickened yet more that hatred, black as hell, which he now felt for him whom his own mother had borne. Oh! the father's awful curse was now working dreadfully in both the brothers.
With no less courage, with no less resolution, and with no less hatred did Eteocles prepare to meet the invading host. A gallant company of daring warriors stood around him also, and no thought of his father's curse, no Nemesis for his daring impiety or for his treachery to his brother troubled his soul. In his own eyes he was a king maintaining that right which his own countrymen had placed in his hands, and a patriot defending his native land from a hostile invasion of foes seeking to destroy her. And now the hostile forces drew near to the city, and the sun flashed back from many a spear-head and glittering shield and polished helm, and the nodding plumes waved in the breeze, and the long array rolled itself round and round the beleaguered town; and the neighing of the horses, the clang of trumpets, the clash of arms, and the shouts of the warriors struck terror into the hearts of many within, of old men and tender maidens, of wives whose husbands were marshalled for the fight, of mothers, the light of whose house seemed quenched when their sons went forth to the battle. And in all the city the temples were filled with the supplicating crowds, who wearied with their cries the gods, the guardian protectors of the land, Ares, and
Poseidon, and Apollo, and Athene, and especially Zeus the father of all.
And then Eteocles displayed himself as a leader indeed, and he ordered out his forces, and stationed at six of the city gates one of his own chosen warriors to oppose the Argive leaders; but to the seventh he hastened himself, for he had heard that there Polyneices was in person urging on the war; and such was his hatred for his own mother's son, that he burned to match himself with him in single combat, and slaying or being slain gratify his deadly hate, and win for himself eternal renown.
And now the conflict commenced at each of the seven gates of Thebes, hero against hero. But the wrath of Zeus was hot against the invaders, for many a proud vaunt thrown out by them had trenched upon his own majesty, as they sware, that whether with his will or without his will they would surely sack the Cadmeian city. And his lightning gleamed forth, struck the boaster Capaneus, dried up his great strength of body, and withered his beauty. And others saw this and feared, and the hearts of the men of Thebes were strengthened, and everywhere their enemies gave way before them. But at the seventh gate dreadful deeds were done, for there the two brothers, the sons of the same mother, met together in fierce combat. Each smote the other, each felt the other's spear, each fell by the other's hand. Thus the curse of Edipus came upon them, and men shuddered as they thought of that unnatural strife, and viewed with awe those corpses, still even in death scowling hatred at one another.
The Cadmeians again enjoyed the blessings of peace, but they had to lament the loss of their king. So they took up the body, and bare it into the city, and mourned over it with a sore lamentation. And they laid it in the tomb and celebrated the burial with royal honours. And then the spirit crossed the dark river, and entered into the place allotted to it in the regions below, in the gloomy realms of Aidoneus.
But the shade of Polyneices knew no rest. It wandered about, a sad, discontented, melancholy ghost, along the banks of the dismal river which it tried in vain to cross. For his body had been cast forth by his indignant countrymen, unhonoured by the funeral rites, unhonoured with a tomb, a prey to the dogs and birds. Such was the will of the people, such was the decree of Creon, who was now called once again to exercise the royal power. He threatened death by stoning to any one who should scatter even the three handfuls of dust
upon the royal corse, and so enable the unhappy spirit to cross the dark river. A watch was set before the unburied remains, that none might even approach them. So great had been the terror which this Argive invasion had inspired in the rulers of Thebes; so hateful did the treason of Polyneices appear to his countrymen.
S. C. A.
"I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me."-Gen. xxxii. 26.
"I held Him, and would not let Him go. . . . The King is held in the galleries. Before ever I was aware my soul set me on the chariots of Amminadib,” (of a willing people.)-Solomon's Song iii. 4, vii. 5, vi. 12.
"Willing in the day of Thy power."-Ps. cx. 3.
"He made as though He would have gone further, but they constrained Him,.. And He went in to tarry with them."-S. Luke xxiv. 28, 29.
How wonderful is this subjection of JESUS to His people! Surely we forget what power we possess, or we should wield it more effectually. Think for a moment of JESUS' subjection to His earthly parents. This of course is a peculiar case, yet, in humble, adoring reverence, we may make it in a sense our own also, for in the Holy Eucharist, when He comes to make our heart His home, He is even nearer to us than He then was to His blessed mother, and if we but desire it, He will-O wondrous thought!-be subject to the heart in which He is enshrined. Think then of the ways in which thy LORD may be subject to thee. "Or ever I was aware, my soul set me on the chariots of a willing people." There is the constraining power, subject to the willing heart, constrained “to set Himself upon the chariots of a willing people." Every Communion might be such a constraining of JESUS. Why is it not always so? O JESUS, is it the willing heart that is wanting? My prayer then must be, that Thou wouldest make me willing in the day of Thy power, and let me feel that every Communion is such a day, for though there is also the hiding of that power, yet it is there as much as when lying dead upon the Cross, Thou didst cause the centurion to exclaim, "Truly this was this Son of GOD." Think again of how through longing desire and fervent prayer, we may constrain our GOD. There is the night of wrestling in prayer, such as that night was to Jacob; some good earnestly desired, some evil that
must be overcome, some doubt to be solved, some ray of light longed for, some life and death struggle, leaving its mark for ever after; but at length the day breaketh, strength has come when needed most, victory when heart and flesh are failing, and power to constrain Him, who even then seems to turn His face away. "I could not do without Thee" is his cry, that night has brought GOD too close ever to bear being without Him again, and "I will not let Thee go" is the end of it. Then the answer according to the desires of his heart, the blessing, the new name, and the ineffaceable mark, “I bear in my body the marks of the LORD JESUS," and in that day when JESUS comes, bearing
"In His hands and feet the nail-prints,
He will acknowledge the likeness in those marks, and "set His servant before His face for ever."
There is the long day of sorrow also, in which we may walk unconscious that JESUS is by our side. Sorrow may have blinded our eyes, darkened our faith, we cannot see Him whom our soul loveth, and weak faith cries, "we trusted that it had been He, but now it is the third day," doubt and despair have taken the place of hope; yet all the while He is walking by their side, and somehow though their eyes are holden that they cannot see Him, His presence is so sweet they feel they must constrain Him to be with them still. The lonely home is near, evening is coming on, they cannot face either without Him, so though He makes as though He would have gone further, they constrain Him. He comes in to tarry with them, then the breaking of the bread, the unsealing of the eyes, and "It is the LORD.” With all reverence we may say, that God's purposes seem changed through the constraining power of His feeble servants, "or ever I was aware, my soul set me on the chariots of a willing people."
And here also is comfort for those whose faith is weak, for the faith of His disciples was weak and faulty as well, they knew not that it was JESUS, though He walked by their side they doubted even His own words, the truth of His resurrection. Yet weak as was their faith it was rewarded, and their prayer without perfect knowledge was granted; so now, with those who are feeling after Him, if haply they might find Him,
"With eyes too tremblingly awake
To bear with dimness for His sake;"