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of all occult knowledge in ancient times.

2 " The sons of Deucalion " were said to have founded a dynasty in
Thessaly, anciently called Pelasgia, from Pelasgus, one of its kings.

3 Is the Nile.

4 The theory that rain never falls in Egypt is not authenticated;
it does fall occasionally and heavily, though it is true that the rising of
the Nile is more to be depended on than the occasional showers.

6 The king Sesonchosis, sometimes called Sesostris. Herodotus in
his account of Egypt gives interesting details respecting this Egyptian


thence upon his travels through all Europe and Asia,
trusting in the might and strength of his people and in
Ms own courage ; and, as he went, he founded many a
town, some whereof men haply still inhabit, and some
maybe no longer ; for many a long age hath passed since

But Ma. still abides steadfast, and the children of those
men, whom that king did plant therein to dwell there ;
these men preserve writings of their fathers, graved upon
pillars, whereon are all the ways and limits of sea and
dry land, far and wide, for those who come thither. Now
there is a river, farthest branch of Ocean, broad and very
deep for e'en a merchant ship to pass thereon ; they call it
Ister, 1 and far away they have traced it on their chart ; for
a while it cleaveth through the boundless tilth in one
solitary stream, for its springs roar and seethe far away
beyond the north wind's breath in the Khipaean mountains.

But when it enters the boundaries of Thrace and Scythia,
thenceforth in two streams it pours one half its waters by
one channel into the Ionian sea, while the residue it sends,
after the division, through a deep bay that openeth into
the Trinacrian 2 sea, which lieth along your coast, if 3 in very
truth the Achelous flows forth from your land."

So spake he ; and the goddess vouchsafed them a lucky
sign, at sight whereof all gave glory to her, that this was
their appointed path. For before them went a trail of
heavenly radiance, where they might pass. So there they
left the son of Lycus, and sailed in gladness of heart across
the sea, with canvas set, their eyes upon the hills of the

1 The Ister (modern Danube), according to Apollonius, passing
through Scythia and Thrace, becomes two streams, one of which falls
into the Euxine, the other into the Tyrrhenian sea.

2 TpivoKpiov, i.e. Sicilian, so called from the three headlands of Sicily,
Pachynus, Lilybaeum, and Pelorus (rpi-aicpat).

3 ' iribv $. Argus only knew of Hellas by hearsay ; he is not
therefore certain if he has heard aright about the river Achelous.

L. 273-330.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 159

Paphlagones. But they did not round Carambis, for
the winds and the blaze of heavenly fire abode with them,
till they entered Ister's mighty stream.

Now some of the Colchians, after a vain search, had
sailed through the Cyanean rocks into Pontus, while others
had made for the river under the command of Absyrtus,
and he had withdrawn a space and entered the "fair
mouth." So he had just anchored before them beyond a
neck of land inside the furthest bay of the Ionian sea ; for
Ister floweth round an island by name Peuce, triangular
in shape, with its base unto the sea shore, and a narrow
angle toward the river's stream ; around it the river
branches into two channels. One they call the mouth of
Narex, the other below the bottom of the island, call they
the " fair mouth " ; and here it was that Absyrtus and his
Colchians put in and anchored in haste ; while the heroes
sailed further up-stream to the top of the island. And in
the water- meads the shepherds of the country left good
store of sheep, in fear of the ships, for they thought them
monsters coming forth from the teeming deep. For they
had never seen sea-faring ships anywhere before, nor yet
had the Scythians, who are mixed with the Thracians, nor
the Sigynni, nor yet the Graucenii, nor the Lindi who
dwell next to these on the great Laurian steppes.

Now when they had passed by the mountain of Anchurus
and the rock of Cauliacus, a little space from that moun-
tain, round which the Ister parts in twain and rolls his
full tide this way and that, and past that Laurian plain ;
then did the Colchians go forth into the Cronian l sea, and
cut off all the routes that they might not escape them.
Biit the heroes reached the river after them, and passed
close to the two Brygean 2 isles of Artemis, where on the

1 The Adriatic, so called because Cronos had lived upon its shores.

2 EpvyrjiSag. The Brygians were a savage Thracian tribe, worship-
ping Artemis.


one was a sacred building, and on the other they did land,
being ware of the host of Absyrtus ; for the Colchians had
left those islands within the river void of cities as they were,
in awe of the daughter of Zeus ; though the others, which
guarded the passages to the sea, were crowded with their
folk ; and so it was that Absyrtus left his host upon the
headlands, nigh to the isles, between the river Salangon
and the Thracian l land.

There would the handful of Minyae have yielded then in
pitiful fray to their more numerous foes ; but ere that they
made a treaty and covenant, avoiding the dire quarrel ;
they were still to keep fairly the golden fleece, since ^Eetes
himself had so promised them, if they should fulfil their
tasks, whether they did wrest it from him by guile or
haply in the open, against his will ; but for Medea, for
there was the quarrel, they were to deliver her to the
virgin child of Leto apart from their company, until one of
the kings, that defend justice, should decide whether she
must go again unto her father's house, or follow the
chieftains to the land of Hellas.

Now when the maiden inly mused on each thing, verily
sharp anguish shook her heart unceasingly, and she called
Jason apart from his crew and led him aside, till they were
far withdrawn ; then to his face she told her piteous tale,
" Son of .Sson, what is this purpose ye design together
about me ? hath thy triumph cast such exceeding f orget-
fulness on thee, and dost thou pay no heed to all that thou
didst promise in thine hour of need ? where are thy oaths
by Zeus, the god of suppliants ? where are all thy honied
promises fled ? for which, in shameful wise, with shame-
less will, I have put far from me my country, my glorious
home, my parents too, all that I held most dear ; and all
alone am I being carried far over the sea with the sad

c, i.e. Thracian. The Nestus is a small river in Thrace,
dividing it from Macedonia.

L. 331-395.] THE ABGONAUTICA. 161

king-fishers, for the sake of thy troubles, that by mine aid
thou mightest accomplish in safety thy toils with the bulls
and the earth-born warriors. Lastly, 'twas by my foolish
help thou didst take the fleece when it was found. But I
have spread a foul reproach on the race of women. Lo ! I
thought I should come with thee to the land of Hellas as
thy bride, thy wife, and sister dear. Oh ! save me with all
good will ! leave me not apart from thee, whilst thou goest
to the kings. Nay, save me as I am, and let that just and
sacred bond, that we twain made, be firmly tied ; else do
thou here at once cleave through this throat with thy
sword, that I may receive the gift my mad passion has
deserved. Ah ! woe is me ! if yon king, whose judgment
ye await in this your bitter covenant, should decide that I
am my brother's. How shall I come before my father ?
Will not my fame be passing fair ? what vengeance, what
grievous torture shall I not endure in agony for the awful
deeds that I have done ? and thou, shalt thou find the
return thou longest for ? No, that may the bride of Zeus,
queen of the world, in whom is thy joy, never bring to
pass ! And some day mayest thou remember even me,
when thou art racked with anguish ; and may the fleece,
like a dream, float away from thee into darkness on the
wings of the wind. Yea, and may my avenging spirit
chase thee anon from thy fatherland ; so terrible is my
fate through thy cruelty. Nor is it ordained that these
curses fall fruitless to the ground, for thou hast sinned
indeed against a mighty oath, without pity ; nay, ye shall
not long at your ease wink the eye in mockery of me here-
after, for all your covenant."

So spake she, in the heat of her vehement rage ; for she
was longing to fire the ship, and tear it all asunder, and then
to throw herself upon the devouring flame. But Jason,
though somewhat afraid, made answer thus with soothing
words : " God help thee, lady ! stay thine hand. These



things are not after mine own heart. But we seek some delay
from the conflict, so thick is the cloud of furious foes
around us for thy sake. For all who dwell in this land
are eager to help Absyrtus, that they may bring thee home
again unto thy father, like some captive maid. And we, if
we meet them in battle, shall all be slain ourselves by a
hateful doom ; and that surely will be a grief yet more
bitter, if we die and leave thee a prey in their hands. Now
this our covenant shall accomplish a cunning wile, whereby
we will bring Absyrtus to destruction. And they who dwell
around will never come against us for thy sake after all, to
pleasure the Colchians, without their prince, who is both
thy champion and thy brother ; nor will I shrink from
fighting them face to face, if so be they will not let us sail

So spake he, soothing her ; but she let fall a deadly :
speech : " Hearken now. Needs must one in sorry case
devise a sorry plan ; for at the first was I led astray by a
mistake, and evil were the desires I had from heaven. Do
thou in the turmoil ward off from me the spears of the
Colchians, and I will entice him 2 to come into your hands,
and do thou welcome him with gladdening gifts, if haply I
can persuade the heralds to depart and bring him all by
himself to agree to my proposals. Then, if this deed is to
thy mind, slay him and join in fray with the Colchians ;
'tis nought to me."

So they twain agreed and planned great treachery against
Absyrtus, and they gave him many a gift for stranger's
welcome, and amongst them that dark robe divine of Hyp-
sipyle ; the robe which the goddess Graces had made with
their own hands for Dionysus in sea-girt Naxos, and he
gave it afterwards to his son Thoas, who left it in turn

1 i.e. a speech that would bring death to someone in this case to
Absyrtus so that it comes to be predicative or prolative.

2 i.e. Absyrtus.

I,. 396-457.] THE AEGONAUTICA. 163

to Hypsipyle, and she gave that robe too, a fair-wrought
stranger's gift with many another wonder, unto the son of
.jEson for to take with him. Never wouldst thou satisfy
thy sweet longing in stroking it or gazing thereupon. And
the smell thereof was likewise wondrous sweet, from the
day on which the prince of Nysa l himself lay down thereon,
flushed with wine and nectar, with the fair form of Minos'
daughter in his arms, whom on a day Theseus had left in
the isle of Naxos, when she followed him from Crete.

Now when Medea had declared her meaning to the
heralds, so as to persuade them to depart, as soon as
Absyrtus came by agreement to the temple of the goddess
and night's black pall was over all, that so she might de-
vise with him a cunning plan whereby to take the fleece of
gold, and come again unto the house of ^Eetes ; for, said
she, the sons of Phrixus gave her by force unto the
strangers to bear away. Thus did she persuade them,
sprinkling the air and the breeze with magic drugs, such
as can draw the wild beast from the pathless hill, be he
never so far away.

cruel Love, man's chief est bane and curse ! from thee
proceed deadly feuds and mourning and lamentation ; yea,
and countless sorrows beside all these are by thee stirred
up. Up, and arm thee against the foemen's sons, thou
deity, as in the day thou didst inspire Medea, with her fell
murderous thoughts. But how did she slay Absyrtus by
an evil doom when he came to her ? For that must our
song tell next.

When they had left her in the isle of Artemis, as had
been agreed, then did these anchor their ships apart from
one another ; but that prince, Jason, went unto an ambush
to await Absyrtus and his company. But he, tricked by
their promises so dire for him, rowed quickly in his ship

1 Dionysus, who found Ariadne on the island of Naxos, after her
desertion by Theseus.


across the gulf of sea, as the night grew dark, and landed
on the sacred isle. Straight on his way he went alone, and
made trial of his sister with words, even as a tender child
tries a torrent in winter, which not even strong men can
pass ; if haply she would devise some guile against the
strangers. So they twain agreed together on all points,
when on a sudden the son of JEson leapt from the thick
ambush, clutching in his hand a naked sword ; quickly the
maiden turned away her eyes, covering them with her veil,
that she might not see the blood of her brother when he
was smitten. Him did Jason strike from his ambuscade,
as a butcher strikes a mighty bull with strong horns, hard
by the temple, which the Brygians, who dwell on the main-
land opposite, once had built for Artemis. There at its
threshold he fell upon his knees, but as the hero breathed
out his soul with his dying breath, he caught up in his
hands black blood from the wound, and dyed with crimson
his sister's silvery veil and robe, as she shrunk from him.
But a pitiless spirit of vengeance, irresistible, gave one
quick look askance at the murderous deed they wrought.
Then the hero, the son of ^Eson, first cut off some limbs l of
the murdered man, and thrice licked up some blood, and
thrice spat the pollution from his mouth, for so must they
make expiation who have murdered a man by treachery.
Then he buried the clammy corpse in the ground, where
to this day lie his bones amongst the Absyrtians. 2

In the same hour the heroes, seeing before them a
blazing torch, the signal which the maiden raised for them

1 Those who had committed murder cut off certain extremities of the
murdered one, by way of averting the curse of bloodshed. These they
hung as charms about their necks, and also performed certain other cere-
monies as here mentioned.

2 ' ' A-fyvprivmv. The followers of Absyrtus were afraid to return to
JEetea after the murder of his son, so they settled in Illyria, near the
Ceraunian mountains, under the name of Absyrtians.

1. 458-517.] THE ARGOKAUTICA. 165

to cross, laid their ship alongside the Colchian barque, and
slew the crew thereof, as hawks drive flocks of doves in
confusion, or fierce lions a great flock of sheep, when they
have leapt upon the fold. Not one of them escaped death,
but they fell on the whole crew, destroying them as fire
doth ; at the last came Jason up, eager to help them, but
they had no need of his succour ; but were already anxious
on his account. Then they sat them down and took sage
counsel about the voyage ; and as they mused thereon
came the maiden to join them, and Peleus first made
harangue : " Lo ! I bid you embark now, while it is yet
night, upon the ship, and take the passage opposite to that
which the enemy hold ; for at dawn, as soon as they per-
ceive all, methinks there is no argument which will urge
them to pursue us further, so as to prevail with them ;
but they will part asunder in grievous quarrels, as men do
who have lost their king. And when once the folk are
divided, 'twill be an easy route for us, or indeed for any
who come hither hereafter."

So spake he, and the young men approved the word
of the son of ^Eacus. So they went quickly aboard and
bent to their oars unceasingly, until they came to the
sacred isle of Electra, chiefest of isles, nigh to the river

Now the Colchians when they learnt the death of their
prince, were right eager to search the Cronian sea through-
out for Argo and the Minyse. But Hera restrained them
by fearful thunderings and lightnings from the sky. And
they ended by being afraid of their own homes in the
Cytsean land for fear of Petes' savage fury. So they came
to land in different places and settled there securely.
Some landed on those very islands, on which the heroes
had halted ; and there they dwell, called after Absyrtus ;
others built a fenced city by the deep black stream of the
Ulyrian river, where is the tomb of Harmonia and Cadmus,


settling amongst the Encheleans ; and others dwell upon
the mountains, which are called " the Thunderers," from
the day that the thunder of Zeus the son of Cronos
stayed them from going to the island over against them.

But the heroes, when now their return seemed assured
them, did then bind their cables on the shore of the
Hylleans and go forth. For there be groups of islands scat-
tered there, making the passage through them hard for
sailors. But the Hylleans no more devised enmity against
them, as before ; but of themselves did further their
voyage, getting as their guerdon Apollo's mighty tripod.
For Phoebus gave to the son of JEson tripods twain, to
carry to that far country, when he journeyed thither in
obedience to an oracle, on the day when he came to sacred
Pytho to enquire about this very voyage ; and it was
ordained that wheresoever these were set up, that land
should never be ravaged by the attack of f oemen. Where-
fore to this day that tripod is buried in yon land near the
pleasant city of Hyllus, deep beneath the soil, that it may
ever be hidden from mortal ken.

But they found not king Hyllus still living there, whom
comely Melite bare to Heracles in the land of the Phaea-
cians. For Heracles came hither to the house of Nausithous
and to Maoris, the nurse of Dionysus, to wash away the awful
murder of his children ; there did that hero vanquish in
love's warfare the daughter of the river ^Egaeus, Melite, the
water-nymph, and she bare strong Hyllus. But he, when
he grew up, cared not to abide in the island itself, under
the eye of Nausithous, its prince, but went o'er the Cronian
sea, having gathered to him the people of the Phaeacians
who dwelt there ; for the hero Nausithous helped him on
his way ; there did he settle, and was slain by the
Mentores, as he stood up to do battle for the oxen of his

But, ye goddesses, how came Argo's wondrous pennon in

L. 518-578.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 167

clear view outside the sea, about the Ausonian 1 land and the
Ligystian islands, which are called " the line of isles ? "
what need, what business brought her so far away ? what
breezes bare them hither ?

Zeus, I trow, the king of gods, was seized with fury at
their deed, when Absyrtus was mightily o'erthrown ; but
yet he ordained that they should wash away the guilt
of blood by the counsels of JEsean Circe, and after first en-
during countless woes should return. Now none of the
chieftains was ware thereof ; but starting from the land of
Hyllus they hasted far on their way, and they left on the
lee those islands of the Liburni that lie in order on the sea,
peopled formerly by Colchians, Issa and Dusceladus and
lovely Pityeia. And, next to them, they came unto Corcyra,
where Poseidon had settled the daughter of Asopus, Cor-
cyra of the fair tresses, far from the land of Phlius, whence
he had snatched her in his love ; and sailors, seeing it rise
darkly from the main with black woodland all around, do
call it Corcyra the Black. Next passed they Melite,
rejoicing greatly at the gentle breeze, and steep Cerossus,
and Nymphaea on the far horizon, where queen Calypso,
daughter of Atlas, had her home ; and lo ! they deemed
they saw the shadowy " hills of thunder." Then was Hera
ware of the angry counsels and the heavy wrath of Zeus for
their sake ; and forasmuch as she was planning the fulfilment
of that voyage, she did stir up head-winds, 2 whereby they
were caught and carried back upon the rocky isle of Electra.

1 'Avaovirjv, i.e. Italy. As a matter of fact, Apollonius is guilty of
an anachronism in using this name for Italy in the time of the Argo-
nauts, for it took the title in later times from Anson, the son of Odys-
seus and Calypso.

AtyvirriSag. These islands are three in number, and lie in a row off
the coast of Italy.

2 Hera brought them by contrary winds to the island of Electra, in
order that Jason and Medsa might there be purified by Circe of the
blood of Absyrtus.


Anon from out the hollow ship, in mid course, the oaken
beam from Dodona, which Athene had fitted down the
middle of the keel, found a tongue and cried out in human
voice. And deadly fear came on them as they heard the
voice, that told of Zeus's grievous wrath. For it said they
should not escape a passage o'er a lengthy sea, nor troublous
tempests, unless Circe purged them of the ruthless murder
of Absyrtus ; and it bade Polydeuces and Castor pray to the
deathless gods to grant a passage first across the Ausonian
sea, wherein they should find Circe, daughter of Perse and

So cried Argo in the gloom ; and they, the sons of Tyn-
darus, arose, and raised their hands to the immortals,
praying for each and all ; for deep dismay was come upon
the other Minyan heroes. But the ship sped on apace ;
and they entered far into the stream of Eridanus, where on
a day Phaethon, smitten through the breast with a blazing
bolt, fell scorched from the chariot of Helios into the mouth
of that deep sheet of water, and it belches forth heavy
clouds of steam from his wound that still is smouldering.
No bird can spread his light pinions and cross that water,
but half-way it flutters and then plunges in the flame.
Eound about the daughters of the Sun l sadly raise their
dirge of woe, as they dance round the tall poplars; and from
their eyes they shed upon the ground bright drops of amber,
which dry up on the sand beneath the sun's heat ; but when
the swollen billows of the dark mere do dash against the
rocks before the blast of the noisy wind, then are they
rolled all together along the billowy tide into the Eridanus.
And the Celts have set this legend to them, how that they

1 The daughters of the Sun are represented as ever weeping for the
death of their brother Phaethon, who was slain by the thunderbolt of
Zeus, for Fhaethon had persuaded his father Helios to let him drive his
chariot for one day, but he had proved unable to manage the steeds, and
had endangered the safety of the universe.

1. 579-640.] THE ABaONAUTICA. 169

are the tears of Apollo, son of Leto, hurried away in the
swirling stream, all those many tears he shed the day he
came to the sacred race of the Hyperboreans, 1 leaving
radiant heaven at the chiding of his father, wroth at the
slaying of his son, whom divine Coronis bare in rich
Lacereia by the mouth of the Amyrus. So runs the legend
'mongst those folk. But these felt no desire for meat or
drink, nor did their spirit turn to mirth. But all day,
I trow, were they worn out and grievously weakened by the
foul stench, which the streams of Eridanus sent up unceas-
ingly from smouldering Phaethon ; and all night too
they heard the shrill lament of the daughters of the Sun,
loudly wailing ; and as they mourned their tears were
borne along the waters, as it were drops of oil.

Thence they entered the deep stream of Rhodanus,
which comes to join the Eridanus ; and at their meeting
doth the water roar in wild commotion. Now that river,
rising in a land very far away, where are the portals and
the habitation of Night, doth pour himself on one side
upon the ocean's cliffs, on another doth he fall into the
Ionian sea, while by yet a third channel he casts his
stream through seven mouths into the Sardinian sea and
its boundless bay. Thence they sailed into stormy lakes,
which open out along the vast mainland of the Celts, and
there would they have met with a foul mishap. For a
certain off-stream was bearing them into the ocean-gulf,
and they not knowing were about to sail thereinto ;
whence they would never have won a safe return. But
Hera sped forth from heaven and shouted from the
Hercynian rock ; and one and all did quake with fear at
her shout, for terribly rumbled the wide firmament. So

1 Apollo left Olympus and went to live among the Hyperboreans,
the most remote of men, when Zeus had slain his son ^Esculapius,
because he, i.e. ,/Esculapius, by his physician's art had raised men to life
after death.


they turned back before the goddess, noting now the way
along which they must go for their return. At last they

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