THE RECUYELL OF THE
HISTORYES OF TROY
(Le Recueil des histoires de Troyes)
translated by William Caxton (c. 1474)
RAOUL LEFÈVRE was a Catholic priest and the chaplain to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. He would later writer a full History of Jason under the Duke's commission, but first he composed a lengthy epic on the Trojan War derived from medieval sources, including Guido delle Colonne's Historia destructionis Troiae (translated into English as John Lydgate's Troy Book) and Boccaccio's Geneaology of the Gods. Unlike the later History of Jason, where he is the subject, here the hero appears only briefly. Below is Jason's one big scene, as rendered by the English printer William Caxton in the first book ever printed in the English language. Caxton's Middle English translation is on the left, and my own modern English version appears on the right.
How hercules put to deth the kynge laomedon And destroyed Troye the seconde tyme.
Hercules theseus and philotes departed from thebes and wente in to many dyuerce landes sechyng their aduentures . And passyng by Licie where hercules was maad kynge / on a day they cam in to myrodonne vnto the palays of kynge Efon where Iason was. whiche had than enprised for to faile to the yle of Colcos / And maad his thynges redy / Whan hercules had be fested of Iason and of duc pelleus and that he knewe of thenterpryse that Iason wold goo & conquere the flees of gold / he vowed and promysed that he wold accompanye hym. And yf fortune wold be wyth hym he wolde aduenture to brynge his empryse vnto an ende / what shall I make longe processe is Iason and hercules made redy a right gode shippe / and wente to the See And renewed not her vitayll tyll they cam to the porte of Troyes . But yet they renewid not hem at this poort / ffor the kynge Laomedon was than in troye whiche had fortefied meruayllosly the Cyte agayn. And knowyng that ther was descended at his porte a shipp full of grekes / he sente doun a man that comanded them rudeli that they shold departe thens and that he was enemye vnto the grekes / Iason as Capitayn of the Armee answerd courtosli the messanger of kynge laomedon . and prayed hym that he might haue vitayll for his monoye / the messenger ansswerd hym that he shold none haue there but yf they gate hit with the swerd / than hercules myght no lenger tarie but sware to the troiane that yf he myght retorne from the viage that he had enprised / that he shold yet ones agayn destroye Troyes and that he shold not leue oon stone vpon another / wyth this conclusion hercules and Iason departed fro troyes / And by fortune they were brought to the poort of Lennos / wherof was a woman lady and quene named ysiphyle / whiche waxe amerous of Iason / as hyt is conteyned in the historye of Iason / In this poort of lennos hercules was aduertysed that there by was a kynge named Phyneus whiche suffrid hym to be gouerned of an auaricyous woman / Phyneus had ben maryed to a nother woman to fore / and had by her two sones . These two sones were vnrightfully by theyr stepmoder put in exyle / ffor to saye veray trouthe this seconde wyf / was corrumpid wyth auaryce / that she tooke fro the kyng his rychesse and helde gretter astate than he / Whan than hercules had knowleche herof / he wente and spack to the kynge phyneus and to the quene / And shewid vnto them theyr vyces in so good manyer and facion / that the two children were repelled fro their exyle / and so that the kynge helde his astate royall. Than retorned hercules in to lennos And toke the see wyth Iason and wente in to the yle of Colcos. where Iason by the lernyng and Industrie of medea conquered the sheep with the flees of gold whiche he bare with hym in to grece / Than hercules recomaunded strongly Iason amonge hys parents and frendes / And tolde hem of the ryght grete vnkyndenes of the kynge laomedon . And how that he had sworn for to destroye troyes for the ruydenes that the kynge laomedon had doon vnto them / They swore alle to gyder wyth hercules the destruccyon of Troyes and concluded the day of their department and after maad redy their shippis and alle that was necessarie for them / And than hercules held so well his hand in their exercyte . that at the day concluded amonge them . they entred in to the see / And did so moche that they defcended at the porte of troyes with so grete an Oost that Iaomedon durst not defsende hem the porte
Source: Raoul Lefèvre, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troy, trans. William Caxton, ed. H. Oskar Sommer vol. 2 (London: David Nutt, 1894), 347-349.
How Hercules Put to Death King Laomedon and Destroyed Troy the Second Time.
Hercules, Theseus, and Philotes departed from Thebes and went into many diverse lands searching for their fates. And passing by Licies, where Hercules was made king, in a day they came into Myrodonne, into the palace of King Aeson, where was Jason, who had then undertaken to sail for the Isle of Colchis and had made his things ready. When Hercules had to be entertained by Jason and Duke Pelleus and knew of the enterprise that Jason would go and conquer the Fleece of gold, he vowed and promised that he would accompany him. And if fortune would be with him, he would venture to bring his enterprise to an end. What shall I make a long story is that Jason and Hercules mady ready a right good ship and went to the sea and renewed not her provisions until they came to the port of Troy. But yet they rewewed them not at this port, for the king, Laomedon, who was then in Troy, which city he had fortefied marvelously again. And knowing that there had landed at his port a ship full of Greeks, he sent down a man that commanded them rudely that they should depart then and that he was an enemy unto the Greeks. Jason, as Captain of the Army, answered courteously the messenger of King Laomedon and begged his pardon that he might have supplies for his money. The messenger answered him that he should have none there, but if they got hit with the sword, that Hercules might no longer tarry but swear to the Trojan that if he might return from the voyage he had undertaken that he should yet once again destroy Troy and that he should not leave one stone upon another. With this conclusion, Hercules and Jason departed for Troy, and by fortune they were brough to the port of Lemnos where there was a woman, a lady and a queen, named Hypsipyle, who waxed amorous of Jason, as is contained in the History of Jason. In this port of Lemnos, Hercules was notified that there was nearby a king named Phineus who suffered himself to be governed by an avaricious woman. Phineus had been married to another woman before and had by her two sons. These two sons were unrightfully by their stepmother put in exile, for to say the real truth, this second wife was corrupt with avarice. In fact, she took from the king his riches and held a greater estate that he. When Hercules had gained knowledge of this, he went to speak to the King Phineus and to the Queen, and he showed to them their vices in so good a manner and fashion that the two children were recalled from their exile so that the king again held his royal estate. Then there returned Hercules to Lemnos, and he took to the sea with Jason and went to the Isle of Colchis, where Jason by the learning and industry of Medea conquered the sheep with the Fleece of gold, which he bore with him to Greece. Then Hercules recommended Jason strongly among his relatives and friends, and he told them of the right great unkindness of the King Laomedon and how he had sworn to destroy Troy for the rudeness that the King Laomedon had one to them. They swore all to join with Hercules in the destruction of Troy and set the day of their departure and after made ready their ships and all that was necessary for them. And then Hercules held so well his hand in their exercises that at the day set among them, they entered into the sea and did so much that they landed at the port of Troy with so great an army that Laomedon dared not defend the port.
Modern English translation copyright © 2011 Jason Colavito. All rights reserved.