Rhodius Apollonius.

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after with savage cruelty, after the fashion of ^Eetes. 1

But king Alcinous restrained their eagerness for war, for
he would fain end their lawless quarrel for both sides without
going to battle. And the maiden, in deadly fear, earnestly
implored the companions of the son of ./Eson by their names,
and with suppliant hands she touched the knees of Arete,
wife of Alcinous : " I entreat thee, queen, and be thou
gracious ; give me not up to the Colchians to take unto
my father, if haply thou too art 2 only of the race of mortals,
whose heart rusheth headlong to their doom from trifling
slips. For I did lose my senses ; 'twas not mad passion led
me on. Witness the sacred light of Helios, witness the
rites of the maiden, who flieth by night, the daughter of
Perses ; 3 never of my own accord would I have started from
JEa with strange folk, but grievous terror urged me to plan
this flight, in the hour of my sin, for there was no other
remedy. Still is my honour pure and chaste, as in my
father's house. Oh ! pity me, great lady, and implore thy

1 ovv 'Airyrao wXivfly, i.e. not only would they do all they threatened,
but they would do it after the fashion of JEetes (if this is what this extraor-
dinary expression means). Kt\iv9o<; certainly is occasionally used in much
the same way as rpoiroQ. JEetes has the reputation of being cruel and re-
lentless, so it is as much as to say " relentlessly." av9i rt *ai ^.triirtira.
av9i = avroQi " at once on the spot and afterwards as well," i.e. they
would give them no peace from their vengeance, like true followers of

2 0tp/3fai, lit. " thou art fed," here = il, " thou art."

3 Hecate, the daughter of Perses and Asteria. As one who dealt in
sorcery and witchcraft, Medea would naturally swear by the queen of
darkness, who was supposed to have all black arts in her special

L. 100Q-1057.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 183

lord ; and may the gods grant thee a perfect life, and joy,
and children, and the glory of a town unsacked." l

Thus did she implore Arete through her tears, and thus
each man of the chieftains in turn : " For you, ye peerless
princes, and for your toils wherein I have helped you, am
I sore afflicted ; for by my help ye yoked the bulls, and
reaped the deadly harvest of earth-born warriors, and by
my means will ye return to Haemonia anon, and bear with
you the golden fleece. Lo ! here am I, a maid who hath
lost country, parents, home, aye, all the joy in life ; while
for you I have contrived a return unto your country and
your homes ; and ye will yet see your parents with glad
eyes ; but from me god's heavy hand hath reft all joy, and
I wander accursed with strangers. Fear your covenant and
your oaths ; fear the spirit who avengeth suppliants, and
the resentment of the gods, if I fall into the hands of
JEetes to be slain with grievous outrage. I have no temple,
no tower of defence, no protection else, but on you, and you
alone, I cast myself. Woe to your cruelty, ye pitiless men !
ye have no reverence in you for me, though ye saw me
helplessly stretch out my hands to supplicate the stranger
queen ; yet would ye, in your eagerness to get the fleece,
have met the whole Colchian nation and proud JEetes too
in battle ; but now have ye forgotten your chivalry, when
there be but these, and they severed from their people."

So prayed she ; and each of those she did entreat,
encouraged her, striving to stay her anguish. And they
brandished well-pointed lances in their hands, and swords
drawn from their sheaths ; for they declared they would
not hold their hands from her succour, if they should meet
with unrighteous judgment. But on the weary warriors,
thronging there, came down the night, that puts an end to

1 Not an unusual wish in heroic times, when life and property were
anything but safe. To become the prey of a conquering invader must
have been the constant dread of women in these disturbed times.


toil, and shed, calm o'er all the earth together ; but to the
maiden's couch came no sleep, no, never so little ; but her
heart within her breast was wrung with anguish. As when
a toiling woman winds her thread the livelong night, and
about her moan her orphan babes, now she is widowed ;
and the tear-drop courses down her cheek, as she weepeth
for the piteous lot that hath fallen to her ; even so Medea's
cheeks were wet, and her heart within her was throbbing,
pierced with sharp agony.

Now those twain, the lord Alcinous.and Arete, his wife
revered, were in their house within the city, as aforetime,
pondering the maiden's case, upon their bed by night ; and
thus the wife addressed her lord and husband with per-
suasive l words : " Dear husband, come, rescue this poor
maiden, I pray thee, from the Colchians, doing a favour to
the Minyae. For Argos and the men of Haemonia are very
nigh unto our island, but JEetes neither dwelleth near us,
nor know we aught of him save by hearsay ; and this poor
suffering maid hath broken my heart by her entreaties.
Give her not over to the Colchians to take to her father's
home, O king. 'Twas blindly done, when she did give him
at the first her drugs to charm the oxen ; and now, to cure
one evil by another close upon it, as oft we do through our
mistakes, she hath fled from the awful fury of her proud
father. Moreover Jason, as I hear, is bound by a mighty
oath of his own taking to make her his wedded wife within
his halls. Wherefore, dear husband, make not the son of
JEson to perjure himself, at least if thou canst help it ;
nor let the father in his fury do his child some terrible in-
jury, when thou canst stay it. For parents are exceeding
jealous of their children ; such punishment did Nycteus

i, etym. 6a\iiv, so = (1) blooming, fresh; vigorous, active;
(2) luxuriant, abundant. Apollonius uses it twice elsewhere, in iii.
114, as epithet of an orchard ; in iii. 1127, of young married men. The
transition from " vigorous " to " persuasive " is not difficult.

L. 1058-1103.] THE ABGONA.TJTICA. 185

devise for Antiope, 1 fair of face ; so grievous were the woes,
again, that Danae 2 endured upon the deep, all through her
father's infatuate folly ; yea, and but lately, and not so far
away, did Echetus 3 in wanton cruelty thrust bronze spikes
into his daughter's eyeballs ; and now she wastes away by
a piteous fate, grinding bronze * for corn within a gloomy

Thus spake she in entreaty ; and his heart melted at the
words of his wife, and thus he answered, " Arete, I would
even drive out the Colchians with their harness for the
maiden's sake, doing a favour to the heroes. But I do fear
to slight the just ordinance of Zeus. Nor is it well to treat
J^etes lightly, as thou sayest; for there is no mightier
prince than he. And if he will, he will carry his quarrel
against Hellas, though he come from far. Wherefore it
behoveth me to give the judgment that shall seem best
amongst all men, and I will not hide it from thee. If she

1 Antiope, the daughter of Nycteus, was ravished by Zeus, who had
changed himself into a satyr for the purpose. Her father was so
enraged that she had to fly for her life, and came to Sicyon, where she
bore Zethus and Amphion, and suffered many hardships for her secret

a Danae was the daughter of Acrisius. Her father had been told by
an oracle of Apollo that, if his daughter bore a son, this son would
cause his death. So Acrisius went to Argos, and there shut his daughter
up straitly in a tower of brass, but Zeus was enamoured of her beauty,
and introduced himself to her in a shower of gold, despite her keepers.
Perseus was the issue of their love. Acrisius, in his anger, set mother
and child adrift on the sea, but fishermen saved them. In after years,
when Perseus grew up, he engaged in some games at Larissa; and
there, by accident, threw a quoit upon the foot of Acrisius and slew
him, and so the oracle was fulfilled.

3 Echetus is also mentioned by Homer as the most savage of men, as
one who delighted in mutilating and torturing all who came within his

* Apparently the barbarous Echetus had >coi9ai made of bronze for
his daughter to grind, in order to render her toil harder and more


be yet a maid, my decision is, that they carry her back to
her father ; but, if she share a husband's bed, I will not
separate her from her lord ; nor, if she carry a child within
her womb, do I give her up unto her enemies."

So spake he ; and forthwith fell asleep. But she laid
up in her heart his wise words, and at once arose from her
bed, and went about the house ; and the women, her hand-
maids, hastened together, bustling about their mistress.
Quietly she had her herald called, and told him her com-
mands, in her shrewdness eager that the son of ^JEson
should at once wed the maiden, and so avoid entreating
king Alcinous ; for this was the decision he would carry
with his own lips to the Colchians, that, if she were yet a
maid, he would deliver her to her father's house ; but, if
she were already some man's wife, he would sever her no
more from honourable love.

So spake Arete, and quickly his feet bare him from the
hall, that he might announce to Jason the fair speech of
Arete, and the plan of godlike Alcinous. And he found
them keeping watch by the ship in harness in the Hyllic
harbour, near to the town ; so he told them all his message,
and the heart of each hero was glad, for he spake a word
that pleased them right well.

At once they mixed a bowl for the blessed gods, as was
right, and dragged sheep to the altar with pious hands,
and made ready that very night for the maiden her bridal
bed in the holy cave, where Maoris once did dwell, the
daughter of Aristseus, the bee-keeper, who discovered the
use of honey and the fatness of the olive, prize of toil.
She it was, that at the first took to her breast the Nysean
son of Zeus in Euboea, home of the Abantes, 1 and with honey
she moistened his parched lips, when Hermes brought him

1 'Eu/3ojc ' 'A/3airioc. Euboea was anciently called Abantis, from
the Abantes who came from Phocis and settled there.

L. 1104-1162.] THE AEGONAUTICA. 187

from out the fire; ' but Hera saw her, and in her rage drove
her right away from the island. So then she came to
dwell far away in the holy cavern of the Phaeacians,
and she granted to the folk around wondrous pros-
perity. There then they strewed a great couch, and
upon it did throw the glistering fleece of gold, that the
marriage might have honour and renown. And the
nymphs plucked every kind of blossom and brought them
in their white bosoms, and a blaze as of fire played round
them all ; so bright was the radiance gleaming from the
golden tufts. And it kindled in their eyes a sweet desire,
yet reverence prevented each one from laying hands
thereon, for all her longing. Of these some were called
the daughters of the river JEgseus ; others dwelt about the
peaks of the hill of Melite, and some came from the plains,
woodland nymphs. For Hera herself, the wife of Zeus,
had sent them, in honour of Jason. And that cave, to this
day, is called Medea's sacred grotto, where they spread fine
linen, very fragrant, and wedded those twain together.
Meantime the heroes brandished in their hands their war-
like spears, that no unseen host of foes might fall upon
them to fight withal, ere the deed was done ; and wreath-
ing their heads with leafy boughs, they sung in tune to the
clear music of Orpheus a marriage hymn at the entrance
to the bridal bower. Now the hero, the son of JUson, was
not minded to complete his marriage now, but in the halls
of his father, on his return to lolchos ; and Medea, too,
was of like mind with him. But needs must they wed

1 IK wpog. Dionysus, the son of Zeus and Semele, was saved when
his mother perished through her own folly in desiring to see Zeus
appear in all his majesty. The mother was killed by the blaze of the
lightning (cf. the opening of Euripides' "Bacchae"),but Hermes snatched
the untimely babe from her womb and carried it to Zeus, in whose side
it was sewn up until the proper time for its birth arrived. Zeus then
handed it over to the nymph Maoris to rear, but Hera's jealousy perse-
cuted Maoris relentlessly in consequence.


then and there. Yea, for never do we tribes of suffering
mortals embark on happiness without alloy ; but ever
there cometh with our gladness some bitter grief. Where-
fore they too, for all their joy of sweet love, were holden
with fear, whether the decision of Alcinous would be

Then came Dawn again with his light divine, and broke
up the gloom of night throughout the sky ; and the island
beach and the dewy paths across the plains laughed out
afar ; and in the streets was the noise of men ; for through
the city the inhabitants were astir, and the Colchians far
away at the end of the Macridian peninsula. Anon went
Alcinous to them, as he had agreed, to declare his purpose
concerning the maiden, and in his hand he held his golden
wand of judgment ; whereby the folk had righteous judg-
ment dealt them throughout the city. And with him came
the chiefs of the Phseacians in their warlike gear, drawn
up in ranks. And forth from the towers came the women
in crowds to see the heroes, and with them came the
country folk when they heard thereof, for Hera had sent
forth a sure report. One brought the chosen ram of his
flock, and another a heifer that never yet had worked, and
others set jars of wine nigh at hand for mixing ; and the
smoke and flame of sacrifice leapt up in the distance. But
the women brought fine linen, fruit of honest toil, as
women will, and toys of gold, and divers ornaments beside,
such as couples newly-wed are furnished with ; and they
were astonied to see the form and beauty of the noble
heroes, and the son of -Sager in their midst oft beating the
ground with his rich sandal in time to his ringing lyre and
song. And all the nymphs in chorus, whenever he made
mention of marriage, raised a joyous wedding hymn ; and
yet again would others sing alone, as they circled round in
the dance in thy honour, O Hera; for 'twas thou, who
didst put it in the heart of Arete to speak her word of

T,. 1163-1224.] THE AEGONAUTICA. 189

wisdom to Alcinous. But he, so soon as lie had declared
the issue of his judgment, and when already the marriage
was declared complete, took good care that so it should
abide for ever ; for no deadly fear, nor the grievous threats
of ..Eetes touched him, but he held fast bound by the oath
he would not break.

So when the Colchians learnt that they were come to him
in vain, and he bade them either hold his ordinances
in honour or withdraw their ships far from the harbours of
his land; then but not before were they afraid of the
threats of their own king, and besought Alcinous to receive
them among his people ; so for a very long time afterward
they dwelt among the Phseacians, until the Bacchiadse, 1 a.
race of men that came from Corinth, settled among them
after a while ; then they crossed to the island over against
them, and from thence they were soon to go to the Cerau-
nian hills of the Abantes and the Nestseans 2 and to Oricum j
but these things happened after a long lapse of years. Yet
still do the altars, which Medea builded there to the Fates
and the Nymphs in the holy place of Apollo, god of shep-
herds, receive their yearly sacrifice. Now when the Minya&
went away, Alcinous gave them many a stranger's gift, and
Arete did the like; moreover she gave to Medea twelve
Phaeacian slave-girls from her house, to bear her company.
'Twas on the seventh day they left Drepane ; and a fresh
breeze came forth from Zeus at dawn, and they went hast-
ing onward before the breath of the wind. Still it was not
ordained for the heroes yet to set foot in Achsea, till they

Bacchius, a son of Dionysus, founded a dynasty at
Corinth, called the Bacchiadse, who held sway until an act of cruelty
roused the Corinthians to expel them. So they came to Corcyra, and
colonized it, driving out the Colchians, who were there already.
'EtyvfjriQev, i.e. from Corinth, Ephyra being its old name.

3 Another name for the Thracians, from the river Nestus in


had toiled somewhat further, even in Libya's utmost

Lo! they had even now left the bay behind, that is
named after the Ambracians ; even now had they left, with
all sail set, the land of ^Etolia l and next thereto the isles of
the Echinades with their narrow passage, and the land of
Pelops just hove in sight, when the baleful blast of the
north-wind caught them in mid course and swept them
nine whole nights and as many days towards the Libyan
sea, till they came right within the Syrtis, 2 whence cometh
no ship forth again, when once 'tis forced inside that gulf.
For all around are shoals, and masses of sea-weed on every
side, and thereon are bubbles of noiseless foam, while on
the dim horizon stretches a plain of sand. No creeping
thing nor winged creature moveth thereupon. 'Twas here
that the flood-tide thrust them far up the beach on a sud-
den, and only a little of the keel was left in the water, for
yon tide full oft recoils from the land, and then again with
furious onset discharges itself over the beach.

But they leapt forth from the ship, and sorrow seized
them, when they beheld the great wide stretch of misty
land, reaching on and on into the distance like a haze ; nor
could they see any place to water in, nor path, nor herds-
men's steading far away ; but all was wrapt in deathless
calm. And one would ask his neighbour sorrowfully,
" What land doth this call itself ? whither have the tem-
pests thrust us forth ? Would that we, setting deadly fear
aside, had dared to try the way even betwixt the rocks !
Far better had it been to go even beyond the will of Zeus
and die, venturing some high resolve ! For now what can
we do, if we be forced here to abide holden by the winds,

1 Kowpi/nv, i.e. ^Etolia, from the Curetes who inhabited Pleuron in

a Svprtv, a dangerous sandbank on the coast of Africa. There were
two of this name, called the Syrtis Major and Minor.

1. 1225-1287.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 191

be it never so short a while ? so desolate is the strand of
this vast land, that looms before us."

Thus would he say ; and amongst them Ancaeus, the
helmsman, made harangue, sore grieved himself at the
hopelessness of their evil case : " We are undone, it seems,
by a most grievous fate, and there is no escaping from our
trouble, but now must we suffer ghastly woes where we
liave fallen on this wilderness, if haply the winds blow
steadily from the land, for I see on all sides a sea of shoals
after a wide look-out, and the water is fretted into long
lines of foam as it washes just the surface of the gray sand.
Yea, and long, long ago would yon sacred ship have been
miserably shattered far from the shore, unless the tide
itself had borne her high ashore from out the deep. But
now hath it rushed back sea- ward, and nought but spray
and spray alone, that covereth but the top of the ground,
breaks about us. Wherefore I deem that all hope of our
voyage and our return is utterly cut off. So let some other
shew his skill, for he may sit at the helm striving to win
our escape. But Zeus hath no great wish to bring about
the day of return, after all our toil."

So spake he through his tears ; and all they that knew
aught of ships spake with him in his distress; but the
heart of all, I trow, was cold and stiff, and paleness spread
o'er their cheeks. As when men move like lifeless spectres,
about a town, awaiting the end that war or famine bring,
or the issue of some fearful storm, which hath washed away
acres of the oxen's toil ; 1 or when images do sweat and
of themselves run down with blood, and bellowing is heard
in sacred shrines, or the sun maybe at noon brings
night from the sky, while through the gloom the stars
shine bright ; even so the chieftains wandered now,
groping their way along the weary strand. Anon dark eve

1 i.e. the tilled lands.


came down upon them ; and they, piteously embracing
each other, were fain to weep, that thereafter they might
lie down, each man apart, to die upon the sand. Hither
and thither they went their way to find a resting-place
further off ; and then they wrapped their heads in their
cloaks and laid them down without meat 1 or drink the whole
night and the dawn, waiting a death most miserable.
Apart from them beside the daughter of ^Eetes her
maidens moaned, huddled all together. As when in the
wilderness young birds unfledged fall from a hole in the
rock and loudly do they twitter ; or as when on the banks
of fair- flowing Pactolus 2 swans lift up their melody, and the
dewy meadow echoes around, and the river's fair streams ;
even so those maidens, casting their golden tresses in the
dust, wailed the livelong night a piteous lament. And all,
then and there, would have vanished from among the
living, out of the ken of mortal men, yea, those chosen
heroes on their aimless quest, had not the heroines, 3 who
watch o'er Libya, pitied them hopelessly wasting away;
these be the goddesses, who erst, when Athene sprang
in bright armour from her father's head, 4 met her at the
waters of Triton and bathed her. 'Twas noon, and terribly
the sun's piercing rays were scorching Libya ; when lo !
they stood beside the son of <3<]son, and lightly drew his

1 dic/jirivoi, with accent proparoxytone = fasting, must be carefully
distinguished from aKfirivoi = full-grown. The derivation of the first
is uncertain ; the latter is from ae/ijj.

* A river in Lydia whose waters were said to flow with gold, from
the large amount of it washed down in the sand.

3 Apparently these are demi-goddesses or tutelary deities of the
country, who watch over Libya, and are honoured there with divine

* (K iraTpbf K{(f*&TJ. The legend was that Zeus, being troubled with
severe pains in his head, sent for Hephaestus, who with a blow of his
hammer cleft open the skull of Zeus, whence issued Athene, full-grown
and in full armour.

L. 1288-1340.] THE ABGONAUTICA. 193

mantle from his head. But lie cast down his eyes and
looked aside, in reverence for the goddesses. And they
with gentle words spake unto him alone openly in his
affliction, " Poor wretch ! why art thou so cast down ? We
know ye went in quest of the golden fleece ; we know each
toil of yours, all the wondrous things that ye have done in
your wanderings o'er land and sea. We are the goddesses
of this land ; here tend we sheep, 1 and speak the speech of
men ; heroines we, daughters of Libya and warders of her
land. Up now ; no longer be so disquieted with grief, and
rouse 'thy comrades. But mark, when Amphitrite doth
loose anon the smooth-running car of Poseidon ; in that
very hour make recompense to your mother 2 for all her
travail in bearing you so long time in her womb ; and so
shall ye yet return to holy Achsea."

So spake they, and forthwith vanished from their place,
as their words died away. But Jason sat up on the
ground and looked about him, and thus spake he : " Be
gracious, noble goddesses, who dwell in this wilderness,
but I understand not very clearly what ye said about our
return. Verily I will gather my crew together and tell
them all, if haply we can find somewhat that points to
our escape; for the wisdom of many is better than the
wisdom of one."

Therewith he sprang up and cried aloud to his com-
rades, all squalid with dust, like a lion, who roars as he
seeks his mate through the woodland; and the glens in
the mountains far away tremble at his deep voice ; and
oxen in the field and they that herd them shudder horribly

1 oioTroXot, probably derived from oif, iroXftv, i.e. tenders of sheep,
cf. 1. 1411, infra. Another derivation is from oloj, TrtXo/tat = being
alone, solitary. The word is found in both significations, but the first
meaning suits the context of Apollonius best.

2 The ship which had carried them so long like a mother in her



with fear. Yet had his voice nought to make them shud-
der, friend calling unto friends. So they gathered near
him with downcast looks, and he made them sit down in
their sorrow nigh to where the ship lay, together with
the women, 1 and made harangue, declaring each thing:
" Friends, hearken ; there stood above my head, very nigh
to me, as I lay grieving, three goddesses, girt in goat-
skins from the neck above about the back and waist, like

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