Rhodius Apollonius.

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manner he tripped the other on his knees as he charged,
smitten with one stroke. And he cast from him his broad
shield on the earth, and kept those oxen twain where they
were fallen on their knees, stepping from side to side, now
here, now there, rushing headlong through the flame. But
JEetes marvelled at the might of the man. Meantime those
sons of Tyndarus, for so had it been long before ordained
for them, came near, and gave him the yoke from off the
ground to cast about them. And he bound it carefully
upon their necks, and lifting the brazen pole between them,
made fast its pointed tip unto the yoke. Then those twain
started back from the fire toward the ship ; but he once
more took up his shield, and slung it on his back behind,
and grasped the weighty helmet, full of sharp teeth, and
his resistless spear, wherewith, like some labourer with a
Pelasgian goad, he pricked them, thrusting beneath their
flanks ; and with a firm hand he guided the shapely plough-
handle, fashioned of adamant. But the bulls, the while,

1 on fiiv, answered by or' av. rpijrolQ \oavoi, the \odvos (%ew) is
the mould into which the liquid metal is poured for casting. Apparently
it had holes at the top (r(n]roig, i.e. bored through), through which jets
of flame leapt up at each blast of the bellows.

3 i.e. Jason kicked the bull's legs from under it.


were exceeding wroth, breathing against him furious
flaming fire ; and their breath was as the roar of bluster-
ing winds, in fear of which sea-faring folk do mostly furl
their wide sail.

But yet a little while, and they started in obedience to
the spear, and the grim fallow was cleft behind them,
broken up by the might of the bulls and the strong plough-
man. Terribly groaned the clods withal along the furrows
of the plough as they were broken, each a man's burden ;
and he followed, pressing down the left stilt with heavy
tread, while far from him he was casting the teeth along
the clods as each was tilled, with many a backward glance,
lest the fell crop of earth-born men should rise against him
ere he was done ; and on toiled those oxen, treading with
their brazen hoofs. Now when the third part of day, as it
waned from dawn, was still left, when swinked labourers
call the sweet unyoking hour to come to them at once, in
that hour the lea was finished ploughing by the tireless
ploughman, for all it was four plough-gates ; and he
loosed the plough from the oxen, and scared them in
flight o'er the plain. Then went he again unto the ship,
while yet he saw the furrows free of the earth-born men.
And he drew of the river's stream in his helmet, and
quenched his thirst with water ; and he bent his knees to
supple * them, and filled his mighty soul with courage, eager
as a wild boar, that whets his tusks against the hunters,
while from his angry mouth the foam runs in great flakes
to the ground. Lo ! now were those earth-born men spring-
ing up o'er all the tilth, and the acre of Ares the death-
dealer was all bristling with mighty shields and twy-
pointed 2 spears and gleaming helmets ; and the sheen
thereof went flashing through the air from earth beneath

k\a<ppd. The adjective is probably here a predicate, " bent
them into suppleness."

3 i.e. spears pointed at both enda.

L. 1325-1388.] THE AKGONATJTICA. 145

to Olympus. As when, in the murk of night, after a heavy
storm of snow hath fallen on the earth, the winds do
scatter the wintry clouds once more, and all the heavenly
signs at once are seen shining through the gloom ; even so
those warriors shone as they grew up above the earth. But
Jason remembered the counsel of crafty Medea, and caught
up from the plain a great round rock, a fearful quoit for
Ares l the War-god ; four strong men could not have stirred
it ever so little from the ground. This did he take in his
hand, and threw it very far into their midst with one
swing, while himself did boldly couch beneath his shield.
And the Colchians gave a mighty cry, like the cry of the
sea when it roars on jagged rocks, but on the king JEetes
came dumb dismay at the hurtling of that mighty quoit.
Then did they like sharp-toothed 2 dogs leap upon it, and
with loud yells did rend each other ; and they were falling
on their mother earth 'neath their own spears, like pines
or oaks, which sudden gusts of wind do shake. Like as
when a fiery meteor shoots from heaven, with a trail of
light behind, a marvel to mankind, whoso see it dart and
flash through the darkling air ; in such wise rushed the son
of JEson on. the earth-born men, and he bared his sword
from the scabbard, and smote them, mowing them down
one upon another, many in the belly and flanks as they
were but half risen to the air, and some in the legs as they
were rising, others just standing upright, and some as they
were even now hastening to the fray. As when some yeo-
man, when a war hath broken out upon his boundaries,
fearful lest men will ravage his fields, seizes in his hand a
curved sickle, newly-sharpened, and hastes to cut his crop

1 ff6\ov "Aptof, i.e. a stone big enough to serre Ares for a quoit.
Enyalius, or the War-god, a Homeric epithet of Ares ; so Enjo is the
goddess of war, Lat. Bellona.

3 0ooi = (1) quick, swift, active; (2) sharp, pointed. It occurs in
both senses frequently in Apollonius.


unripe, nor waiteth for it to ripen in its season by the
beams of the sun ; even so did he then cut the crop of
earth-born men, and the furrows were filled with blood, as
the channels of a spring are filled with water. There they
fell ; some on their faces, biting with their teeth the rough
clods ; some upon their backs ; others on the palms of their
hands and sides ; like sea-monsters in shape to behold. And
many wounded, or ever they had stept forth from the earth,
bowed their damp brows to the ground and rested there,
as much of them as had emerged to the air above. Even
so shoots newly-planted in an orchard do droop to the
ground, snapped from their roots, when Zeus sendeth a
torrent of rain, a toil to gardening folk ; and heavy grief
and bitter sorrow cometh on him who owns the plot of
ground and tends the plants. So then o'er the heart of
king JSetes stole heavy grief. And he gat him homeward
to his town together with his Colchians, musing darkly
how he might most quickly meet them. 1

And daylight died, and Jason's toil was ended.

1 i.e. devising some plan to overreach the heroes, and anticipate
their action. Oourtpov, i.e. more quickly than they expected.



jEetes discovers all ; but meantime Medea has fled to the Argonauts ;
and by her aid they have taken the fleece and gone. Absyrtus, son of
jEetes, gives chase; but coming up with them is treacherously slain, at
the mouth of the Ister, by Jason and Medea ; whereat Zeus is angry,
but Hera ever befriends them. Thence they come to Circe to be purified
of the murder ; and they pass through " the Wandering Rocks," and
through Scylla and Charybdis, and past the Sirens, all save Butes ; and
come unto Corcyra, where Medea is saved by Alcinous from the pursuit
of the Colchians, and is wedded to Jason. Next they are driven to the
Syrtis off Libya, and suffer greatly from thirst. Here Canthus and
Mopsus meet their doom ; and the rest are saved by Triton and sent
upon their way to Crete, where Talus withstands them, only to fall
before Medea's magic.

After this they make a straight run to ^Egina, and so without further
adventure to their home in Thessaly.


NOW tell, O Muse, child of Zeus, in thine own words,
the toil and plans of the Colchiau maiden. For
verily my mind within me is swayed perplexedly, as I
ponder thereon, whether I am to say, 'twas the sad out-
come of bitter infatuation or unseemly panic, that made
her leave the tribes of the Colchians.

JEetes, of a truth, amongst the chosen captains of his
people was devising sheer : treachery against the heroes all
night in his halls, in wild fury at the sorry ending of the
contest ; and he was very sure, that angry sire, that these
things were not being accomplished without the aid of his
own daughters.

But upon Medea's heart Hera cast most grievous fear,
and she trembled, like some nimble fawn, which the bark-
ing of hounds hath frighted in the thickets of a deep wood-
land. For anon she thought, that of a surety her help
would never escape her father's eye, and right soon would
she fill up her cup of bitterness. And she terrified her
handmaids, who were privy thereto ; and her eyes were full
of fire, and in her ears there rang a fearful sound ; and oft
would she clutch at her throat, and oft tear the hair upon
her head and groan in sore anguish. Yea, and in that hour
would the maid have overleapt her doom and died of a
poisoned cup, bringing to nought the plans of Hera ; but
the goddess drove her in panic to fly with the sons of

1 atiriv, strictly = steep, but metaphorically as here, "sheer, utter."
Cf. the expressions aiTrvg oXeOpog, aiiriiQ ^6\og.


Phrixus. And her fluttering heart was comforted within
her. So she in eager haste poured from the casket all
her drugs at once into the folds of her bosom. And she
kissed her bed and the posts of the doors on either side,
and stroked the walls fondly, and with her hand cut off
one long tress and left it in her chamber, a memorial of
her girlish days for her mother ; then with a voice all
choked with sobs she wept aloud, " Ah, mother mine ! I
leave thee here this one long tress instead of me, and go ;
so take this last farewell as I go far from hence ; farewell
Chalciope, farewell to all my home ! Would that the sea
had dashed thee, stranger, in pieces, or ever thou didst
reach the Colchian land ! "

So spake she, and from her eyes poured forth a flood of
tears. Even as a captive maid stealeth forth from a
wealthy house, one whom fate hath lately reft from her
country, and as yet knoweth she nought of grievous toil,
but a stranger to misery and slavish tasks, she cometh in
terror 'neath the cruel hands of a mistress ; like her the
lovely maiden stole forth swiftly from her home. And the
bolts of the doors yielded of their own accord to her touch,
springing back at her hurried spells. With bare feet she
sped along the narrow paths, drawing her robe with her
left hand over her brows to veil her face and fair cheeks,
while with her right hand she lifted up the hem of her
garment. Swiftly along the unseen track she came in her
terror outside the towers of the spacious town, and none of
the guard marked her, for she sped on and they knew it
not. Then marked she well her way unto the temple, for
she was not ignorant of the paths, having wandered thither
oft aforetime in quest of corpses and the noxious roots of
the earth, as a sorceress must ; yet did her heart quake
with fear and trembling. Now Titania, goddess of the
moon, 1 as she sailed up the distant sky, caught sight of that
1 The Moon was the child of Hyperion the Titan and Theia.

L. 23-86.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 151

maid distraught, and savagely she exulted o'er her in words
like these, " So I am not the only one to wander to the cave
on Latinos ; not I alone burn with love for fair Endymion !
How oft have I gone hence before thy cunning spells, with
thoughts of love, that thou mightest work in peace, in the
pitchy night, the sorceries so dear to thee. And now, I
trow, hast thou too found a like sad fate, and some god of
sorrow hath given thee thy Jason for a very troublous
grief. Well, go thy way ; yet steel thy heart to take up
her load of bitter woe, for all thy understanding."

So spake she ; but her feet bare that other hasting on
her way. Right glad was she to climb the river's high
banks, and see before her the blazing fire, which all night
long the heroes kept up in joy for the issue of the enter-
prise. Then through the gloom, with piercing voice, she
called aloud to Phrontis, youngest of the sons of Phrixus,
from the further bank ; and he, with his brethren and the
son of -<Eson too, deemed it was his sister's voice, and the
crew marvelled silently, when they knew what it really was.
Thrice she lifted up her voice, and thrice at the bidding of
his company cried Phrontis in answer to her ; and those
heroes the while rowed swiftly over to fetch her. Not yet
would they cast the ship's hawsers on the mainland, but
the hero Jason leapt quickly ashore from the deck above,
and with him Phrontis and Argus, two sons of Phrixus,
also sprang to land ; then did she clasp them by the knees
with both her hands, and spake : " Save me, friends, me
most miserable, aye, and yourselves as well from Metes.
For ere now all is discovered, and no remedy cometh.
Nay, let us fly aboard the ship, before he mount his swift

1 Latmos is a hill in Caria, where Endymion dwelt in a cave. He
had incurred the anger of Zeus by becoming enamoured of Hera,
wherefore he was condemned to sleep for ever ; and the Moon saw him
asleep and was struck by his beauty, so that she came often to the
cavern on Latmos.


horses. And I will give you the golden fleece, when I have
lulled the guardian snake to rest ; but thou, stranger, now
amongst thy comrades take heaven to witness to the pro-
mises thou didst make me, and make me not to go away
from hence in scorn and shame, for want of friends."

So spake she in her sore distress, and the heart of the
son of ^Eson was very glad ; at once he gently raised her
up, where she was fallen at his knees, and took her in his
arms and comforted her, " God help thee, lady ! Be Zeus
of Olympus himself witness of mine oath, and Hera, queen
of marriage, bride of Zeus, that I will of a truth establish
thee as my wedded wife in my house, when we are come on
our return to the land of Hellas."

So spake he, and therewith clasped her right hand in his
own. Then bade she them row the swift ship with all
speed unto the sacred grove, that they might take the fleece
and bear it away against the will of ^Eetes, while yet it was
night. Without delay deeds followed words ; for they
made her embark, and at once thrust out the ship from the
shore ; and loud was the din, as the heroes strained at their
oars. But she, starting back, stretched her hands wildly
to the shore ; but Jason cheered her with words, and stayed
her in her sore grief.

In the hour when huntsmen l were shaking sleep from
their eyes, men who trust unto their hounds and never
sleep away the end part of the night, but shun the light
of dawn, lest it smite them too soon with its clear beams,
and efface the track and scent of the game ; in that hour
the son of J<]son and the maiden stept from the ship into
a grassy spot, called " the Barn's couch," the spot where
first he rested his weary knees from bearing on his back
the Minyan son of Athamas. Nigh thereto are the founda-
tions of an altar, smirched with soot, which on a day

1 ayporai is here = aype vrai, " huntsmen," not " countrymen," as the
word properly means.

L. 87-150.] THE ARGONAITTICA. 153

Phrixus, son of J^olus, did build to Zeus, who aideth
fugitives, offering that strange creature with his fleece of
gold, even as Hermes had bidden, when of his good will he
met him. There it was that the heroes set them down by
the counsel of Argus. So they twain went along the path
to the sacred grove, in quest of the wondrous oak, whereon
the fleece was hung, resting there like a cloud that turns
to red in the fiery beams of the rising sun. But right in
their way that serpent with his keen sleepless eyes, stretched
out his long neck, when he saw them coming, and horribly
he hissed, so that the long banks of the river and the
grove echoed strangely all around. Even they heard it, who
dwelt in the Colchian land very far from Titanian l Ma, by
the mouth of the Lycus, that stream that parteth from the
roaring river Araxes, and brings his sacred flood to join
the Phasis ; and they twain flow on together and pour into
the Caucasian 2 sea. And women in their travail arose in
terror, and cast their arms in agony about their new-born
babes, who cried in their mothers' arms, trembling at the
serpent's hiss. As when, above smouldering wood, count-
less sooty eddies of smoke do whirl, and one upon another
rises ever upward from below, hovering aloft in wreaths ;
so then that monster writhed his endless coils, covered
with hard dry scales. But, as he writhed, the maiden
came in sight, calling with sweet voice Sleep, highest 3 of
gods, to her aid, to charm the fearsome beast; and she
called on the queen of the nether world, who roams by
night, to grant her a favourable enterprise. And the son
of jEson followed in fear. But lo ! that snake, charmed
by her voice, loosened the giant coil of his long spine, and

1 The land was so called from the river Titan.

2 i.e. the Euxine, into which the Phasis falls, so called from its vicinity
to the Caucasus.

3 Sleep is first or highest of gods, inasmuch as all must obey its


stretched out his countless folds, like a dark wave, dumb
and noiseless, rolling o'er a sluggish sea ; but yet he held
his gruesome head on high, eager to seize them both in his
deadly jaws ; but the maiden dipt a spray of juniper just
cut in her thick broth, 1 and sprinkled charms unmixed
upon his eyes, chanting the while ; and all around him the
potent smell of the drug shed slumber, and he let his jaw
sink down upon that spot, and far behind him through the
trunks of the wood his endless coils were stretched. Then
did Jason take the golden fleece from the oak, at the
maiden's bidding ; while she stood staunchly by him and
rubbed the beast's head with her drug, until the voice of
Jason bade her turn and come unto the ship, for he was
leaving the dusky grove of Ares. As a maiden catches on
her fine-wrought robe the rays of the moon at her full, 2
when she soareth above the high-roofed chamber, and her
heart within her rejoices at the sight of the lovely light ;
so then was Jason glad, as he lifted the great fleece in his
hands, and o'er his sun-burnt cheeks and brow there
settled a flush as of flame from the flashing of the fleece ;
as is the hide of a yearling ox, or of a hind which hunters
call a brocket, even such was the skin of the fleece, 3 all
covered with gold and heavy with wool ; and the ground
sparkled exceedingly before his feet as he went. On strode he
with it thrown now over his left shoulder, and hanging from
his neck above down to his feet, and now again would he
gather it up in his hands ; for he feared exceedingly, lest
some god or man should meet him and take it from him.
Dawn was spreading o'er the earth, when they came

1 A thick hell-broth of magical drugs, such as the witches in
" Macbeth" are represented as brewing.

a To see the moon at her full was a lucky omen for a young bride.

3 dwrov is strictly the best or choicest of its kind, the pick of the
whole. Here it is used of the finest wool. Homer employs it in the
same sense, and also of the finest linen, XiVoto XtTrrov dwrov.

L. 151-215.] THE AKGONAtTTICA. 155

unto their company ; and the young men were astonied at
sight of the great fleece, flashing like the lightning of
Zeus. And each man was eager to touch it and take it in
his hands. But the son of JEson checked them all, and
o'er it cast a new-made robe ; then he took and set the
maiden on the stern, and thus spake amongst them all :
"No longer, friends, shrink now from faring homeward.
For now is the need accomplished easily by the plans of
the maiden, for which we dared this grievous voyage in
toil and sorrow. Her of her own free will I will bear to my
home to be my wedded wife ; and do ye protect her, for
that she was a ready champion of all Achaea and of you.
For surely, an I think aright, Metes will come to stop us
with an armed throng from getting sea- ward from out the
river. So one half of you throughout the ship row at the
oars, seated man by man, while the other half hold up your
oxhide shields before them, a ready defence against the darts,
of the enemy, and fight ye for our return. For now, my
friends, we hold in our hands our children and our country
and our aged parents ; and the fate of Hellas hangeth on
our enterprise, to win deep shame or haply great renown."

So spake he, and did on his harness of war ; and they
cried aloud, filled with a strange desire. But he drew his
sword from the scabbard and cut the stern-cables of the
ship, and nigh to the maiden he set himself to fight by 1
the pilot Ancseus, with his helmet on his head ; then on
sped the ship, as they hasted to row her ever onward and
clear of the river.

But now was Medea's love and her work known to proud
jEetes and to all the Colchians, and they gathered to the
assembly in their harness. Countless as the waves, that
raise their crests before the wind on a stormy sea, or as the

1 napejSaaice, " set himself to fight by " = 77*' irapafSdnjf. The irapa-
j3a.TT]f was the warrior who stood beside the charioteer. Cf. Homer,
Iliad, ii. 104.


leaves, that fall to earth through the wood with its thick
branches in the month when leaves are shed, and who
shall tell their number? in such countless throngs they
flocked along the river-banks, with eager cries ; but their
king jEetes towered o'er all with his steeds in his shapely
car, those steeds which Helios did give him, swift as the
breath of the wind ; in his left hand he held his round
shield, and in the other a long pine-torch, 1 and his huge
sword was ready drawn before him, and Absyrtus grasped
the reins of the horses. But the ship was cleaving her
way out to sea already, driven on by the stout rowers and
the downward current of the mighty river. Then the king
in sore distress raised his hands and called on Helios and
Zeus to witness their evil deeds ; and forthwith uttered he
fearful threats against all his people, if they should not
bring the maiden with their own hands, either upon shore or
finding the ship on the swell of the open sea, that he might
sate his eager soul with vengeance for all these things,
while they should know and endure in their own persons
all his fury and all his revenge.

So spake JEetes, and on the self-same day the Colchians
launched their ships and put the tackling in them, and the
self-same day sailed out to sea ; thou wouldst not have
thought it was a fleet of ships so much as a vast flight of
birds, screaming o'er the sea in flocks.

Swift blew the wind by the counsels of the goddess
Hera, that so ^sean Medea might come most quickly to
the Pelasgian land to plague the house of Pelias ; and on
the third day at dawn they bound the cables of the ship
to the cliffs of the Paphlagones, at the mouth of the river
Halys ; for Medea bade them go ashore and appease Hecate
with sacrifice. Now that which the maiden did prepare

1 TTtvwj strictly = the fir-tree ; then anything made of it, as here
" a torch." JEetes intended to fire Argo first of all, and cut off all

L. 216-272.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 157

and offer in sacrifice, let no man know, nor let my heart
urge me to sing thereof. I shudder to utter it. Verily
that altar which the heroes builded on the strand unto the
goddess, abideth from that day forth until now, for men
of later days to see.

Anon the son of ^Eson minded him of Phineus, and
likewise did the other heroes, how that he told them they
should find a different course from ^Ea, but his meaning
was hidden from them all. But to their eager ears did
Argus made harangue : " Let us now to Orchomenus,
whither that unerring seer, whom ye met aforetime, fore-
told that ye would come. For there is another course,
well known unto the priests of the immortal gods, who are
sprung from Tritonian Thebe. 1 While as yet the stars,
which wheel in the firmament, were not ; nor yet was any
sacred race of Danai to be heard of, but only Apidanean
Arcadians, those Arcadians who are said to have lived before
ever the moon was, feeding on acorns in the hills ; nor as yet
was the Pelasgian land ruled by the famed soms of Deucalion ; 2
in the days when Egypt, mother of primeval men, was
called the rich land of the morning, with that Tritonian
river 3 of seven streams, whereby all that land of the morn-
ing is watered ; for no rain 4 from Zeus doth wet the soil,
and yet do crops spring up abundantly at the river's
mouth. Yea, and they tell how a man 5 went forth from

1 Thebe in Egypt. The Egyptian priests were the great repository

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

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