The poet’s defence against the censurers of his fables.
You, fastidious critic, who carp at my writings, and disdain to read trifles of this kind, endure with some small patience this little book, while I smooth down the severity of your brow, and Æsop comes forward in a new and more lofty style.
Would that the pine had never fallen on the summits of Pelion under the Thessalian axe! and that Argus had never, with the aid of Pallas, invented a way boldly to meet certain death, in the ship which, to the destruction of Greeks and Barbarians, first laid open the bays of the inhospitable Euxine. For both had the house of the proud Æetes to lament it, and the realms of Pelias fell by the guilt of Medea, who, after concealing by various methods the cruelty of her disposition, there effected her escape, by means of the limbs of her brother, and here embrued the hands of the daughters of Pelias in their father’s blood.
What think you of this? “This, too, is mere folly,” say you, “and is an untrue story; for long before this, Minos, of more ancient date, subjected the Ægæan seas with his fleet, and by seasonable correction, punished piratical attacks.” What then can I possibly do for you, my Cato of a Reader, if neither Fables nor Tragic Stories suit your taste? Do not be too severe upon all literary men, lest they repay you the injury with interest.
This is said to those who are over-squeamish in their folly, and, to gain a reputation for wisdom, would censure heaven itself.