Serpent Rider – “Pour Forth Surquidous”

Among the many perils braved by Jason and his crew of Argonauts as they sailed toward the enchanted East was what we can rightly call the archetypal heavy-weight boxing match. Apollonius of Rhodes relates the episode most famously as the opening scene of Book 2 of his Hellenistic epic “Argonautica.” Shortly before encountering the Harpies and the Clashing Rocks, the Argo puts in at the Bithynian kingdom of the Bebrycians, ruled by the haughty king Amycus.

Flouting the Greek custom of offering warm hospitality to any strangers, king Amycus treats all his guests as prisoners, and only permits departure from his land on the condition that they defeat him in a boxing match – to the death. Trusting in his undefeated record, Amycus enters the ring with an Argonaut named Polydeuces, aka Pollux, twin brother of Castor and Helen of Sparta (not yet of Troy). The match commences in an exchange of punches and parries, until Polydeuces could identify the weaknesses in the king’s technique. At last Polydeuces lands a mighty blow on the side of Amycus’ head, with such force that it shatters his skull and sends the life pouring out of him. The Bebrycians, true to the stereotypical character of inhospitable barbarians, still refuse to let the Argonauts depart, and fight them in a pitched battle that Jason and his crew win with great slaughter. The heroes depart, Polydeuces’ immortal fame assured.

This lesser known episode from the Argonautica, and with it Polydeuces’ glory in our time, is given new life in this song by Serpent Rider, a band recently born in Los Angeles, California. Their lead vocalist, lyricist, and Athenian native Nick Varsamis injects his Hellenic heritage into an epic heavy metal ensemble. The dedicate this release in tribute to the memory of Mark Shelton of Manilla Road, who passed away last year. Serpent Rider carry on Mark’s musical legacy, as they do the pugilistic legacy of Polydeuces, by reviving the myths of old through epic metal.

They stood against, prest, with their gauntlets 
The lethal bargain’s on hand 
Contestants twain, quaint, stiff and potent 
They bandied blows, no deliverance 

He spawned behavior immodest and inapt 
(An) Ignoble and inimical welcome 
The challenge’s clear and immediate 
One of us must encounter the king 

Th’ one like a star in a full sky vault 
Th’ other like an acherontic beast 
Polydeukes ‘gainst lord Amycus 
Two corrivals in a boxing affair 

Goad him not for thou’ lt front on defeat 
Waive thy pride, withdraw and retreat 
Display him not thy brutish ill-mien 
Steer clear of troublous Death that’s eath to be seen 

They stood against, prest, with their gauntlets 
The lethal bargain’s on hand 

Huffing and puffing, panting for breath 
Gnashing their teeth, inviting Death 
Dioskur rushed Him with a blast ‘bove th’ ear 
The king fell down, his very life gushed out 

Dare him not for thou’ lt front on defeat 
Waive all elation, withdraw and retreat 

Depict him not thy brutish ill-mien 
Steer of spiteful Death that’s readily to be seen 

Amycus expired, his end ignites the war 

Of ill-fated Bebrycians be the doom they forced to meet, infamous and shameful 

Breathless one by one they fall 
Headless lie on palace’s floor 
Lord’s subjects sink to rise no more 

Thus don’t ponce ‘round when facing a fatiferous force 
When thy hostile manners raise futile strife 

Deny thy pride and skip thy idle rules, conceal, crush and burn ‘em

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