P. 357

Pindar, Pythian 4.207-11

And as they rushed into deep danger, they entreated the lord of ships that they might escape the irresistible onset of the clashing rocks. There was a pair of them; they were alive, and they rolled onward more swiftly [210] than the battle-lines of the loud-thundering winds. But that voyage of the demigods put an end to them.  Greek Text

Euripides, Medeia 1-2

Would that the Argo had never winged its way to the land of Colchis through the dark-blue Symplegades!  Greek Text

Herodotos, Historiae 4.85

But Darius, when he came to that place in his march from Susa where the Bosporus was bridged in the territory of Calchedon, went aboard ship and sailed to the Dark Rocks (as they are called), which the Greeks say formerly moved; there, he sat on a headland and viewed the Pontus, a marvellous sight. [2] For it is the most wonderful sea of all. Its length is eleven thousand one hundred stades, and its breadth three thousand three hundred stades at the place where it is widest. [3] The channel at the entrance of this sea is four stades across; the narrow neck of the channel, called Bosporus, across which the bridge was thrown, is about one hundred and twenty stades long. The Bosporus reaches as far as to the Propontis; [4] and the Propontis is five hundred stades wide and one thousand four hundred long; its outlet is the Hellespont, which is no wider than seven stades and four hundred long. The Hellespont empties into a gulf of the sea which we call Aegean.  Greek Text

Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.317-40

“First of all, after leaving me, ye will see the twin Cyanean rocks where the two seas meet. No one, I ween, has won his escape between them. For they are not firmly fixed with roots beneath, but constantly clash against one another to one point, and above a huge mass of salt water rises in a crest, boiling up, and loudly dashes upon the hard beach. Wherefore now obey my counsel, if indeed with prudent mind and reverencing the blessed gods ye pursue your way; and perish not foolishly by a self-sought death, or rush on following the guidance of youth. First entrust the attempt to a dove when ye have sent her forth from the ship. And if she escapes safe with her wings between the rocks to the open sea, then no more do ye refrain from the path, but grip your oars well in your hands and cleave the sea’s narrow strait, for the light of safety will be not so much in prayer as in strength of hands. Wherefore let all else go and labour boldly with might and main, but ere then implore the gods as ye will, I forbid you not. But if she flies onward and perishes midway, then do ye turn back; for it is better to yield to the immortals. For ye could not escape an evil doom from the rocks, not even if Argo were of iron.  Greek Text

Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.549-610

Now when they reached the narrow strait of the winding passage, hemmed in on both sides by rugged cliffs, while an eddying current from below was washing against the ship as she moved on, they went forward sorely in dread; and now the thud of the crashing rocks ceaselessly struck their ears, and the sea-washed shores resounded, and then Euphemus grasped the dove in his hand and started to mount the prow; and they, at the bidding of Tiphys, son of Hagnias, rowed with good will to drive Argo between the rocks, trusting to their strength. And as they rounded a bend they saw the rocks opening for the last time of all. Their spirit melted within them; and Euphemus sent forth the dove to dart forward in flight; and they all together raised their heads to look; but she flew between them, and the rocks again rushed together and crashed as they met face to face. And the foam leapt up in a mass like a cloud; awful was the thunder of the sea; and all round them the mighty welkin roared.

[568] The hollow caves beneath the rugged cliffs rumbled as the sea came surging in; and the white foam of the dashing wave spurted high above the cliff. Next the current whirled the ship round. And the rocks shore away the end of the dove’s tail- feathers; but away she flew unscathed. And the rowers gave a loud cry; and Tiphys himself called to them to row with might and main. For the rocks were again parting asunder. But as they rowed they trembled, until the tide returning drove them back within the rocks. Then most awful fear seized upon all; for over their head was destruction without escape. And now to right and left broad Pontus was seen, when suddenly a huge wave rose up before them, arched, like a steep rock; and at the sight they bowed with bended heads. For it seemed about to leap down upon the ship’s whole length and to overwhelm them. But Tiphys was quick to ease the ship as she laboured with the oars; and in all its mass the wave rolled away beneath the keel, and at the stern it raised Argo herself and drew her far away from the rocks; and high in air was she borne. But Euphemus strode among all his comrades and cried to them to bend to their oars with all their might; and they with a shout smote the water. And as far as the ship yielded to the rowers, twice as far did she leap back, and the oar, were bent like curved bows as the heroes used their strength.

[593] Then a vaulted billow rushed upon them, and the ship like a cylinder ran on the furious wave plunging through the hollow sea. And the eddying current held her between the clashing rocks; and on each side they shook and thundered; and the ship’s timbers were held fast. Then Athena with her left hand thrust back one mighty rock and with her right pushed the ship through; and she, like a winged arrow, sped through the air. Nevertheless the rocks, ceaselessly clashing, shore off as she passed the extreme end of the stern-ornament. But Athena soared up to Olympus, when they had escaped unscathed. And the rocks in one spot at that moment were rooted fast for ever to each other, which thing had been destined by the blessed gods, when a man in his ship should have passed between them alive. And the heroes breathed again after their chilling fear, beholding at the same time the sky and the expanse of sea spreading far and wide. For they deemed that they were saved from Hades.  Greek Text

ApB 1.9.22 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Being rid of the Harpies, Phineus revealed to the Argonauts the course of their voyage, and advised them about the Clashing Rocks in the sea. These were huge cliffs, which, dashed together by the force of the winds, closed the sea passage. Thick was the mist that swept over them, and loud the crash, and it was impossible for even the birds to pass between them. So he told them to let fly a dove between the rocks, and, if they saw it pass safe through, to thread the narrows with an easy mind, but if they saw it perish, then not to force a passage. When they heard that, they put to sea, and on nearing the rocks let fly a dove from the prow, and as she flew the clash of the rocks nipped off the tip of her tail. So, waiting till the rocks had recoiled, with hard rowing and the help of Hera, they passed through, the extremity of the ship’s ornamented poop being shorn away right round. Henceforth the Clashing Rocks stood still; for it was fated that, so soon as a ship had made the passage, they should come to rest completely.  Greek Text

♠ Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.648-719

Thus he spake, and straightway they ceased from such words and gave unwearying labour to the oar; and quickly they passed by the swiftly flowing river Rhebas and the peak of Colone, and soon thereafter the black headland, and near it the mouth of the river Phyllis, where aforetime Dipsaeus received in his home the son of Athamas, when with his ram he was flying from the city of Orchomenus; and Dipsacus was the son of a meadow- nymph, nor was insolence his delight, but contented by his father’s stream he dwelt with his mother, pasturing his flocks by the shore. And quickly they sighted and sailed past his shrine and the broad banks of the river and the plain, and deep-flowing Calpe, and all the windless night and the day they bent to their tireless oars. And even as ploughing oxen toil as they cleave the moist earth, and sweat streams in abundance from flank and neck; and from beneath the yoke their eyes roll askance, while the breath ever rushes from their mouths in hot gasps; and all day long they toil, planting their hoofs deep in the ground; like them the heroes kept dragging their oars through the sea.

[669] Now when divine light has not yet come nor is it utter darkness, but a faint glimmer has spread over the night, the time when men wake and call it twilight, at that hour they ran into the harbour of the desert island Thynias and, spent by weary toil, mounted the shore. And to them the son of Leto, as he passed from Lycia far away to the countless folk of the Hyperboreans, appeared; and about his cheeks on both sides his golden locks flowed in clusters as he moved; in his left hand he held a silver bow, and on his back was slung a quiver hanging from his shoulders; and beneath his feet all the island quaked, and the waves surged high on the beach. Helpless amazement seized them as they looked; and no one dared to gaze face to face into the fair eyes of the god. And they stood with heads bowed to the ground; but he, far off, passed on to the sea through the air; and at length Orpheus spake as follows, addressing the chiefs: “Come, let us call this island the sacred isle of Apollo of the Dawn since he has appeared to all, passing by at dawn; and we will offer such sacrifices as we can, building an altar on the shore; and if hereafter he shall grant us a safe return to the Haemonian land, then will we lay on his altar the thighs of horned goats. And now I bid you propitiate him with the steam of sacrifice and libations. Be gracious, O king, be gracious in thy appearing.”

[694] Thus he spake, and they straightway built up an altar with shingle; and over the island they wandered, seeking if haply they could get a glimpse of a fawn or a wild goat, that often seek their pasture in the deep wood. And for them Leto’s son provided a quarry; and with pious rites they wrapped in fat the thigh bones of them all and burnt them on the sacred altar, celebrating Apollo, Lord of Dawn. And round the burning sacrifice they set up a broad dancing-ring, singing, “All hail fair god of healing, Phoebus, all hail,” and with them Oeagrus’ goodly son began a clear lay on his Bistonian lyre; how once beneath the rocky ridge of Parnassus he slew with his bow the monster Delphyne, he, still young and beardless, still rejoicing in his long tresses. Mayst thou be gracious! Ever, O king, be thy locks unshorn, ever unravaged; for so is it right. And none but Leto, daughter of Coeus, strokes them with her dear hands. And often the Corycian nymphs, daughters of Pleistus, took up the cheering strain crying “Healer”; hence arose this lovely refrain of the hymn to Phoebus.

[714] Now when they had celebrated him with dance and song they took an oath with holy libations, that they would ever help each other with concord of heart, touching the sacrifice as they swore; and even now there stands there a temple to gracious Concord, which the heroes themselves reared, paying honour at that time to the glorious goddess.  Greek Text

Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.720-898

Now when the third morning came, with a fresh west wind they left the lofty island. Next, on the opposite side they saw and passed the mouth of the river Sangarius and the fertile land of the Mariandyni, and the stream of Lycus and the Anthemoeisian lake; and beneath the breeze the ropes and all the tackling quivered as they sped onward. During the night the wind ceased and at dawn they gladly reached the haven of the Acherusian headland. It rises aloft with steep cliffs, looking towards the Bithynian sea; and beneath it smooth rocks, ever washed by the sea, stand rooted firm; and round them the wave rolls and thunders loud, but above, wide-spreading plane trees grow on the topmost point. And from it towards the land a hollow glen slopes gradually away, where there is a cave of Hades overarched by wood and rocks. From here an icy breath, unceasingly issuing from the chill recess, ever forms a glistening rime which melts again beneath the midday sun. And never does silence hold that grim headland, but there is a continual murmur from the sounding sea and the leaves that quiver in the winds from the cave. And here is the outfall of the river Acheron which bursts its way through the headland and falls into the Eastern sea, and a hollow ravine brings it down from above. In after times the Nisaean Megarians named it Soonautes when they were about to settle in the land of the Mariandyni. For indeed the river saved them with their ships when they were caught in a violent tempest. By this way the heroes took the ship through the Acherusian headland and came to land over against it as the wind had just ceased.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.911-29

Next they beheld the barrow of Sthenelus, Actor’s son, who on his way back from the valorous war against the Amazons — for he had been the comrade of Heracles — was struck by an arrow and died there upon the sea-beach. And for a time they went no further, for Persephone herself sent forth the spirit of Actor’s son which craved with many tears to behold men like himself, even for a moment. And mounting on the edge of the barrow he gazed upon the ship, such as he was when he went to war; and round his head a fair helm with four peaks gleamed with its blood-red crest. And again he entered the vast gloom; and they looked and marvelled; and Mopsus, son of Ampycus, with word of prophecy urged them to land and propitiate him with libations. Quickly they drew in sail and threw out hawsers, and on the strand paid honour to the tomb of Sthenelus, and poured out drink offerings to him and sacrificed sheep as victims. And besides the drink offerings they built an altar to Apollo, saviour of ships, and burnt thigh bones; and Orpheus dedicated his lyre; whence the place has the name of Lyra.  Greek Text

Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2022.

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