The Return Voyage (page 362)

Chapter 12: Iason and the Argo

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fr 547R – Sophokles, Skythai – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 4, p. 417, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

(The Argonauts) did not sail through Tanais, but made the same journey as before, as Sophokles states in the Skythai and Kallimakos (fr. 9 Pfeiffer).  (Transl. E. Bianchelli)

Herodoros 31F10 FGrH Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, p. 217, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Schol. Apoll. Rhod. 4.259:  Herodoros in the Argonautai says that they sailed through the same sea through which they had gone to Kolchis.  (Transl. E. Bianchelli)  Greek Text

Hes fr 241 MW – Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 117-18, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

Hekataios 1F18 FGrH Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, pp. 11-12, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Greek Text

Py 4.19-27 – Pyndar, Pythian Odes

That token shall make [20] Thera the mother-city of great cities, the token which once, beside the out-flowing waters of lake Tritonis, Euphemus received as he descended from the prow, a clod of earth as a gift of friendship from a god in the likeness of a man. And as a sign of favor, Zeus the son of Cronus sounded a peal of thunder, when the stranger found us hanging the bronze-jawed anchor [25] , the bridle of the swift Argo, against the ship. Before that we had been dragging our seafaring ship for twelve days from the Ocean over the deserted back of the land, having drawn it ashore by my counsels.  Greek Text

AR 4.282-96 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

There is a river, the uttermost horn of Ocean, broad and exceeding deep, that a merchant ship may traverse; they call it Ister and have marked it far off; and for a while it cleaves the boundless tilth alone in one stream; for beyond the blasts of the north wind, far off in the Rhipaean mountains, its springs burst forth with a roar. But when it enters the boundaries of the Thracians and Scythians, here, dividing its stream into two, it sends its waters partly into the Ionian sea, and partly to the south into a deep gulf that bends upwards from the Trinaerian sea, that sea which lies along your land, if indeed Achelous flows forth from your land.”

[294] Thus he spake, and to them the goddess granted a happy portent, and all at the sight shouted approval, that this was their appointed path.  Greek Text

Σ AR 4.282 – Scholia to Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika – Scholia in Apollonium Rhodium vetera, pp. 280-81, ed. C. Wendel. Berlin 1935. 

AR 4.305-521 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

but the rest went to the river, and them Apsyrtus led, and, turning aside, he entered the mouth called Fair. Wherefore he outstripped the heroes by crossing a neck of land into the furthest gulf of the Ionian sea. For a certain island is enclosed by Ister, by name Peuee, three-cornered, its base stretching along the coast, and with a sharp angle towards the river; and round it the outfall is cleft in two. One mouth they call the mouth of Narex, and the other, at the lower end, the Fair mouth. And through this Apsyrtus and his Colchians rushed with all speed; but the heroes went upwards far away towards the highest part of the island. And in the meadows the country shepherds left their countless flocks for dread of the ships, for they deemed that they were beasts coming forth from the monster-teeming sea. For never yet before had they seen seafaring ships, neither the Scythians mingled with the Thracians, nor the Sigynni, nor yet the Graucenii, nor the Sindi that now inhabit the vast desert plain of Laurium. But when they had passed near the mount Angurum, and the cliff of Cauliacus, far from the mount Angurum, round which Ister, dividing his stream, falls into the sea on this side and on that, and the Laurian plain, then indeed the Colchians went forth into the Cronian sea and cut off all the ways, to prevent their foes’ escape. And the heroes came down the river behind and reached the two Brygean isles of Artemis near at hand. Now in one of them was a sacred temple; and on the other they landed, avoiding the host of Apsyrtus; for the Colchians had left these islands out of many within the river, just as they were, through reverence for the daughter of Zeus; but the rest, thronged by the Colchians, barred the ways to the sea. And so on other islands too, close by, Apsyrtus left his host as far as the river Salangon and the Nestian land.

[338] There the Minyae would at that time have yielded in grim fight, a few to many; but ere then they made a covenant, shunning a dire quarrel; as to the golden fleece, that since Aeetes himself had so promised them if they should fulfill the contests, they should keep it as justly won, whether they carried it off by craft or even openly in the king’s despite; but as to Medea — for that was the cause of strife — that they should give her in ward to Leto’s daughter apart from the throng, until some one of the kings that dispense justice should utter his doom, whether she must return to her father’s home or follow the chieftains to the land of Hellas.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

AR 4.557-658 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

When Apsyrtus had fallen in mighty overthrow Zeus himself, king of gods, was seized with wrath at what they had done. And he ordained that by the counsels of Aeaean Circe they should cleanse themselves from the terrible stain of blood and suffer countless woes before their return. Yet none of the chieftains knew this; but far onward they sped starting from the Hyllean land, and they left behind all the islands that were beforetime thronged by the Colchians — the Liburnian isles, isle after isle, Issa, Dysceladus, and lovely Pityeia. Next after them they came to Corcyra, where Poseidon settled the daughter of Asopus, fair-haired Corcyra, far from the land of Phlius, whence he had carried her off through love; and sailors beholding it from the sea, all black with its sombre woods, call it Corcyra the Black. And next they passed Melite, rejoicing in the soft-blowing breeze, and steep Cerossus, and Nymphaea at a distance, where lady Calypso, daughter of Atlas, dwelt; and they deemed they saw the misty mountains of Thunder. And then Hera bethought her of the counsels and wrath of Zeus concerning them. And she devised an ending of their voyage and stirred up storm-winds before them, by which they were caught and borne back to the rocky isle of Electra. And straightway on a sudden there called to them in the midst of their course, speaking with a human voice, the beam of the hollow ship, which Athena had set in the centre of the stem, made of Dodonian oak. And deadly fear seized them as they heard the voice that told of the grievous wrath of Zeus. For it proclaimed that they should not escape the paths of an endless sea nor grievous tempests, unless Circe should purge away the guilt of the ruthless murder of Apsyrtus; and it bade Polydeuces and Castor pray to the immortal gods first to grant a path through the Ausonian sea where they should find Circe, daughter of Perse and Helios.

[592] Thus Argo cried through the darkness; and the sons of Tyndareus uprose, and lifted their hands to the immortals praying for each boon: but dejection held the rest of the Minyan heroes. And far on sped Argo under sail, and entered deep into the stream of Eridanus; where once, smitten on the breast by the blazing bolt, Phaethon half-consumed fell from the chariot of Helios into the opening of that deep lake; and even now it belcheth up heavy steam clouds from the smouldering wound. And no bird spreading its light wings can cross that water; but in mid-course it plunges into the flame, fluttering. And all around the maidens, the daughters of Helios, enclosed in tall poplars, wretchedly wail a piteous plaint; and from their eyes they shed on the ground bright drops of amber. These are dried by the sun upon the sand; but whenever the waters of the dark lake flow over the strand before the blast of the wailing wind, then they roll on in a mass into Eridanus with swelling tide.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

AR 4.659-981 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

And quickly from there they passed through the sea, beholding the Tyrrhenian shores of Ausonia; and they came to the famous harbour of Aeaea, and from the ship they cast hawsers to the shore near at hand. And here they found Circe bathing her head in the salt sea-spray, for sorely had she been scared by visions of the night. With blood her chambers and all the walls of her palace seemed to be running, and flame was devouring all the magic herbs with which she used to bewitch strangers whoever came; and she herself with murderous blood quenched the glowing flame, drawing it up in her hands; and she ceased from deadly fear. Wherefore when morning came she rose, and with sea-spray was bathing her hair and her garments. And beasts, not resembling the beasts of the wild, nor yet like men in body, but with a medley of limbs, went in a throng, as sheep from the fold in multitudes follow the shepherd. Such creatures, compacted of various limbs, did each herself produce from the primeval slime when she had not yet grown solid beneath a rainless sky nor yet had received a drop of moisture from the rays of the scorching sun; but time combined these forms and marshalled them in their ranks; in such wise these monsters shapeless of form followed her. And exceeding wonder seized the heroes, and at once, as each gazed on the form and face of Circe, they readily guessed that she was the sister of Aeetes.

[685] Now when she had dismissed the fears of her nightly visions, straightway she fared backwards, and in her subtlety she bade the heroes follow, charming them on with her hand. Thereupon the host remained stedfast at the bidding of Aeson’s son, but Jason drew with him the Colchian maid. And both followed the selfsame path till they reached the hall of Circe, and she in amaze at their coming bade them sit on brightly burnished seats. And they, quiet and silent, sped to the hearth and sat there, as is the wont of wretched suppliants. Medea hid her face in both her hands, but Jason fixed in the ground the mighty hilted sword with which he had slain Aeetes’ son; nor did they raise their eyes to meet her look. And straightway Circe became aware of the doom of a suppliant and the guilt of murder.  Continue Reading   Greek Text

AR 4.982-1223 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

Fronting the Ionian gulf there lies an island in the Ceraunian sea, rich in soil, with a harbour on both sides, beneath which lies the sickle, as legend saith — grant me grace, O Muses, not willingly do I tell this tale of olden days — wherewith Cronos pitilessly mutilated his father; but others call it the reaping-hook of Demeter, goddess of the nether world. For Demeter once dwelt in that island, and taught the Titans to reap the ears of corn, all for the love of Macris. Whence it is called Drepane, the sacred nurse of the Phaeacians; and thus the Phaeacians themselves are by birth of the blood of Uranus. To them came Argo, held fast by many toils, borne by the breezes from the Thrinacian sea; and Alcinous and his people with kindly sacrifice gladly welcomed their coming; and over them all the city made merry; thou wouldst say they were rejoicing over their own sons. And the heroes themselves strode in gladness through the throng, even as though they had set foot in the heart of Haemonia; but soon were they to arm and raise the battle-cry; so near to them appeared a boundless host of Colchians, who had passed through the mouth of Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks in search of the chieftains. They desired forthwith to carry off Medea to her father’s house apart from the rest, or else they threatened with fierce cruelty to raise the dread war-cry both then and thereafter on the coming of Aeetes. But lordly Alcinous checked them amid their eagerness for war. For he longed to allay the lawless strife between both sides without the clash of battle. And the maiden in deadly fear often implored the comrades of Aeson’s son, and often with her hands touched the knees of Arete, the bride of Alcinous: “I beseech thee, O queen, be gracious and deliver me not to the Colchians to be borne to my father, if thou thyself too art one of the race of mortals, whose heart rushes swiftly to ruin from light transgressions. For my firm sense forsook me — it was not for wantonness. Be witness the sacred light of Helios, be witness the rites of the maiden that wanders by night, daughter of Perses. Not willingly did I haste from my home with men of an alien race; but a horrible fear wrought on me to bethink me of flight when I sinned; other device was there none. Still my maiden’s girdle remains, as in the halls of my father, unstained, untouched. Pity me, lady, and turn thy lord to mercy; and may the immortals grant thee a perfect life, and joy, and children, and the glory of a city unravaged!”

[1029] Thus did she implore Arete, shedding tears, and thus each of the chieftains in turn: “On your account, ye men of peerless might, and on account of my toils in your ventures am I sorely afflicted; even I, by whose help ye yoked the bulls, and reaped the deadly harvest of the earthborn men; even I, through whom on your homeward path ye shall bear to Haemonia the golden fleece. Lo, here am I, who have lost my country and my parents, who have lost my home and all the delights of life; to you have I restored your country and your homes; with eyes of gladness ye will see again your parents; but from me a heavy-handed god has raft all joy; and with strangers I wander, an accursed thing. Fear your covenant and your oaths, fear the Fury that avenges suppliants and the retribution of heaven, if I fall into Aeetes’ hands and am slain with grievous outrage. To no shrines, no tower of defence, no other refuge do I pay heed, but only to you. Hard and pitiless in your cruelty! No reverence have ye for me in your heart though ye see me helpless, stretching my hands towards the knees of a stranger queen; yet, when ye longed to seize the fleece, ye would have met all the Colchians face to thee and haughty Aeetes himself; but now ye have forgotten your courage, now that they are all alone and cut off.”  Continue Reading   Greek Text

AR 4.1223-1781 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

And on the seventh day they left Drepane; and at dawn came a fresh breeze from Zeus. And onward they sped borne along by the wind’s breath. Howbeit not yet was it ordained for the heroes to set foot on Achaea, until they had toiled even in the furthest bounds of Libya.

[1228] Now had they left behind the gulf named after the Ambracians, now with sails wide spread the land of the Curetes, and next in order the narrow islands with the Echinades, and the land of Pelops was just descried; even then a baleful blast of the north wind seized them in mid-course and swept them towards the Libyan sea nine nights and as many days, until they came far within Syrtis, wherefrom is no return for ships, when they are once forced into that gulf. For on every hand are shoals, on every hand masses of seaweed from the depths; and over them the light foam of the wave washes without noise; and there is a stretch of sand to the dim horizon; and there moveth nothing that creeps or flies. Here accordingly the flood-tide — for this tide often retreats from the land and bursts back again over the beach coming on with a rush and roar — thrust them suddenly on to the innermost shore, and but little of the keel was left in the water. And they leapt forth from the ship, and sorrow seized them when they gazed on the mist and the levels of vast land stretching far like a mist and continuous into the distance; no spot for water, no path, no steading of herdsmen did they descry afar off, but all the scene was possessed by a dead calm. And thus did one hero, vexed in spirit, ask another: “What land is this? Whither has the tempest hurled us? Would that, reckless of deadly fear, we had dared to rush on by that same path between the clashing rocks! Better were it to have overleapt the will of Zeus and perished in venturing some mighty deed. But now what should we do, held back by the winds to stay here, if ever so short a time? How desolate looms before us the edge of the limitless land!”  Continue Reading   Greek Text

Σ AR 4.282 – Scholia to Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika – Scholia in Apollonium Rhodium vetera, pp. 280-81, ed. C. Wendel. Berlin 1935. 

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

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