Rhodius Apollonius.

The Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius online

. (page 5 of 21)
Online LibraryRhodius ApolloniusThe Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius → online text (page 5 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

soft fleeces of sheep, and roused him instantly, and thus
unto him spake : " Son of ^Eson, to yonder temple on
rugged Dindymus thou must go up and seek the favour
of the fair-throned queen, 1 mother of all the blessed gods ;
then shall cease the stormy winds. For such was the
voice I heard but now of the halcyon, bird of the sea, which
flew above about thy sleeping form and told me all. For
this goddess hath experience of the winds and the sea and
all the earth beneath and the snow-capped seat of Olym-
pus ; and before her Zeus himself, the son of Cronos, doth
somewhat yield, when from her mountains she ascendeth
to the wide heaven. And hence it is the other blessed
deathless gods do reverence to this dread goddess."

So spake he, and welcome to Jason's ear was his word.
And he roused him from his bed with joy, and hasted to
awake all his crew ; and, when they were risen, he declared
to them the heavenly message of Mopsus, son of Ampycus.
Then straight did the young men drive up oxen from the
byres there to the steep mountain-top. And the rest
meantime loosed the cables from the sacred rock and rowed
to the Thracian 2 harbour, and themselves went forth, leav-
ing but a few of their fellows in the ship. Now upon their

1 Rhea was called the mother of all the gods.

2 i.e. the harbour of Cyzicus, which is here called Thracian because the
old inhabitants of Cyzicus had been Thracian. It is clear that the heroes
did not sail across to Thrace, because Mount Dindymus is a considerable
distance inland in Galatia, and it was hither they meant to come.


right hand the Macrian cliffs and all the Thracian main-
land rose clear in view, and the dim entrance to the Bos-
porus l and the hills of Mysia appeared ; while upon their
left was the stream of the river vEsepus, and the city and
plain of Nepeia, which is called Adresteia. Now there was
a sturdy stump of a vine growing in a wood, an exceeding
old tree ; this they cut out, for to make a sacred image of
the mountain goddess, and Argus polished it neatly, and
there upon that rugged hill they set it up beneath a canopy
of towering oaks, trees that have their roots deepest of all,
I trow. Next heaped they an altar of stones, and wreathed
it with oak-leaves, and busied themselves with sacrifice,
calling on the name of the Dindymian mother, queen re-
vered, that dwelleth in Phrygia, and on Titias 2 too and
Cyllene, who alone are called the dispensers of destiny and
assessors of the Idaean mother of all that band, who in
Crete are the Dactylian priests of Ida ; them on a day the
nymph Anchiale brought forth in the Dictsean 3 grotto,
clutching with both hands the CEaxian land. And the son
of JEson besought her with many prayers to turn away the
hurricane, pouring libations the while on blazing sacrifices ;
and therewith young men, by the bidding of Orpheus,
danced a measured step in full harness, 4 smiting swords and

1 Bosporus, the narrow part of Propontis, so called, according to
legend, from lo, who in the form of a cow swam across it.

a Titias and Cyllenus, the Dactylian priests of Cybele in Crete. They
were wizards, or, more probably, men skilled in medicine and metallurgy
who lived on Mount Ida, surrounding themselves carefully, no doubt,
with a certain air of mystery. They were the children of the nymph
Anchiale, so called because their mother in her travail clutched the
earth in her fingers (MicrvXoi).

3 DicUean, i.e. Cretan, from Mount Dicte in Crete.

* The Great Mother was always worshipped in Crete with the sound
of cymbals, drums, and other loud music; which custom Apollonius
dates from the time of the Argonauts, who, to drown the unlucky sound
of lamentation raised by the Cyzicenes for their dead king, clashed their
weapons together.

L. 1112-1167.] THE ARGONAITTICA. 43

bucklers, that the ill-omened cry might lose itself in wan-
dering through the air, even the lamentation, which the
folk were still raising at the funeral of their king. Whence
the Phrygians do ever seek the favour of Khea with tam-
bourine and drum. And now, I ween, the goddess turned
her ear to hearken to their pious worship ; and signs, that
are favourable, did appear. Trees shook down countless
fruits, and around their feet the earth of herself brought
forth the flowers of tender plants. Wild creatures left
their lairs in the thickets and came wagging their tails.
And yet another marvel she produced ; for aforetime Din-
dymus had no running water, but now they saw it gush
forth there and cease not from the thirsty hill ; wherefore
neighbouring folk in after time called that water Jason's
spring. Then did they make a feast in honour of the god-
dess on Mount Arctos, singing the praise of Rhea, august
queen ; and at dawn the wind ceased and they rowed away
from the island.

Then rivalry stirred each chieftain's heart to be the last
to leave his rowing. For around them the still air had
laid the tumbling waves and lulled the sea to rest. So they,
trusting to the calm, drave on the ship mightily, nor would
even Poseidon's steeds, that are swift as wind, have caught
her as she sped through the sea. Yet as the salt waves
began to rise beneath violent gusts, which toward evening
were just beginning to get up from the rivers, then were
they for ceasing, foredone with toil; but Heracles with
mighty hands pulled those tired rowers along all together,
making the joints of the ship's timbers to quiver.

But when, in their haste past the mainland of the
Mysians, they had sighted and sailed by the mouth of the
river Rhyndacus 1 and the great cairn of ^Egseon, a little
away from Phrygia ; in that hour did Heracles break his

1 A river of Phrygia.


oar in the middle as lie heaved aside the furrows of the
roughened surge. And backward fell he, grasping in both
hands one fragment, while the sea swept the other away on
its wash. And there he sat glaring round in silence, for
his hands knew not to be idle.

At the hour when some delver or ploughman cometh
from the field joyfully to his cottage, longing for his supper ;
and there on his threshold, all squalid with dust as he is,
he droops his weary knees, and, gazing on his toil-worn
hands, many a bitter curse he flingeth at that belly of his ;
in that hour, I trow, came those heroes to the abodes of
the land Ciauian about the Arganthonian mountain and the
mouth of the river Cios. And the Mysians welcomed them
with all hospitality and kindness on their coming, for they
dwelt in that land, and they gave them at their need $heep
and mead in plenty. So then some brought dry logs, and
others mowed the plenteous herbage of the meadows for
beds to strew withal, and others twirled sticks to get fire ;
and they mixed wine in bowls, and made ready a feast,
after sacrificing to Apollo, god of embarkation, as darkness

Now Heracles bade his comrades give good heed unto
the feast, while he went on his way to the wood, that son
of Zeus, that he might first fashion for himself an oar to
suit him. And in his wandering he found a pine that was
not burdened with many branches, nor had much foliage
thereon, but it was like some tall poplar sapling to look at
both in height and girth. Quickly then upon the ground
he laid his quiver, arrows and all, and doffed his lion-skin.
And when he with his heavy club of bronze had made it
totter from its base, then did he grip it low down about the
stump with both hands, trusting to his strength, and plant-
ing himself firmly he leant his broad shoulder against it,
and so clinging to it he dragged it from the ground, deep-
rooted though it was, clods of earth and all. As when a

L. 1168-1233.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 45

sudden squall of wind strikes aloft a ship's mast unex-
pectedly, just at the time of baleful Orion's winter setting,
and tears it from its stays, 1 wedges and all ; even thus the
strong man dragged it out. And at once he caught up his
bow and arrows, and his skin and club, and hasted to go

Meantime Hylas with a brazen pitcher went apart from
the company, in quest of a sacred running spring, that he
might ere his return draw for him water against supper-
time, and get all else ready and in order for him at his
coming. For Heracles had with his own hands brought
him up in such habits from his earliest childhood, having
robbed him from his father's house, goodly Theiodamas,
whom he slew ruthlessly amongst the Dryopes, because he
withstood him about a steer for ploughing. Now Theio-
damas was ploughing up a fallow field, when the curse fell
on him ; and Heracles bade him give up the steer he was
ploughing with, and he would not. For he longed to find
some grim pretext for war against the Dryopes, for there
they dwelt without regard for justice. But this would
send me straying far from my story. Quickly came Hylas-
to the spring, which they who dwell around and near call
Pegse. Now it chanced that lately choirs of nymphs had
settled there ; their care it was ever to hymn Artemis with
midnight song, as many of them as dwelt there round the
lovely peak. All those, whose lot it is to watch o'er hill-
tops and mountain-streams, and they who guard the woods,,
were all drawn up apart ; but she, the nymph of the water,
was just rising from her lovely spring, when she marked
him near with the blush of his beauty and sweet grace
upon him. For on him the full moon from heaven was
shedding her light. And Cypris made the nymph's heart:
flutter, and scarce in her confusion could she collect her-

, wedges to block the mast firmly in its hole.
stays from the top of the mast to the deck to keep it still firmer.


self. But he, so soon as he had dipped his pitcher in the
stream, leaning aslant over it, and good store of water was
flowing into the sounding brass and bubbling round it, lo !
in that instant the nymph from below the water laid her
left arm on his neck, longing to kiss his soft lips ; while
with her right hand she plucked him by the elbow and
plunged him amid the ripple.

And as he cried out, Polyphemus, son of Elatus, alone
of his comrades, heard him, as he came on along the path.
For he would welcome mighty Heracles, whensoever he
might come. Away rushed he towards Pegse like some
wild beast, to whom from afar hath come the bleating of
sheep, and furious with hunger he goeth to find them and
yet cometh not upon the flocks, for shepherds before have
penned them with their own hands within the fold ; but
he howls and roars unceasingly till he is tired. So then
did the son of Elatus cry aloud, and went to and fro about
the place shouting, and piteous was his voice. Anon drew
he his mighty sword and started to go forth, for fear that
the boy might be a prey to beasts, or men have taken him.
in ambush as he was alone, and be leading him away, an
easy booty. Then did he meet Heracles himself in the
way, as he was brandishing his naked sword in his hand,
and right well he knew him as he hasted toward the ship
through the darkness. At once he told the grievous news,
gasping hard for breath, " God help thee ! friend, a bitter
grief shall I be the first to tell thee. Hylas went unto the
spring, but he cometh not again in safety ; but robbers
have attacked him and are leading him away, or beasts are
tearing him, for I heard his loud cry."

So spake he ; and, as the other listened, there broke out
great beads of sweat upon his forehead, and beneath his
heart the dark blood surged. Down upon the ground in
wrath he cast the pine, and hasted along the path whither
his feet carried him in his hurrv. As when a bull some-

:L. 1234-1292.] THE ABGONATTTICA. 47

where, stung by the gadfly, rushes along, leaving the
meadows and marsh-lands, and heedeth not the herdsmen,
nor the herd, but passes on his way, at one time without
stopping, and again standing still, and lifting up his broad
neck he bellows aloud, 'neath the sting of that cursed
fly ; even so Heracles in his eagerness now made his swift
knees move without a check, and now again, ceasing from
his toil, he would make his loud shout peal afar.

Anon uprose the morning star above the topmost heights,
and down came the breeze ; quickly then did Tiphys urge
them go aboard and take advantage of the wind. So they
at once embarked eagerly, and they hauled in the anchor-
ropes of the ship and backed her out. 1 And the sails were
bellied out by the wind, and they were borne far from the
beach past the headland of Posideum, glad at heart. Now
when bright-eyed dawn, arising from the east, shed its
light from heaven, and the paths stood out clearly, and
the dew- spangled plains shone in the bright gleam, then
knew they those whom they had left behind in ignorance.
And there arose a fierce strife amongst them, and brawl-
ing unspeakable, to think that they had gone and left the
best of all their crew. But he, the son of ^Eson, mazed
and at a loss, had nought to say one way or the other, but
there he sat, inly consuming his soul with heavy woe ; but
Telamon 2 was seized with wrath and thus spake he, " Sit
thee then in silence thus, since it pleased thee well to leave
Heracles behind ; far from thee is any counsel, that so his
fame may not o'ershadow thee in Hellas, 3 if haply the gods

1 The ancient mode of landing was to beach the ship, if possible, and
then fasten by cables to the land, and by anchors from the stern in the
sea. Hence, to put to sea it was necessary first to haul up the anchor
stones, and then back the ship out.

2 Telamon had joined Heracles in his expedition against the Amazons,
and had also sailed with him to Ilium, so that they had become close

3 Telamon's taunt against Jason certainly gathers some weight from


grant a return home again. But what joy is there in
words ? for I will go even apart from thy crew, who helped
thee to devise this guile."

He spake, and sprung toward Tiphys, son of Hagnias,
and his two eyes were like the flash of glowing fire. And
now woxild they have come back to the Mysian land in
spite of the wide sea and the ceaseless roaring blast, had
not the two sons of Thracian Boreas held back the son of
^Eacus with harsh words, poor wights ; l verily upon them
came a grievous vengeance in the aftertime from the hands
of Heracles, for that they stayed the search for him. For
he slew them in sea-girt Tenos as they returned from the
games after the slaughter of Pelias, and he piled the earth
about them, and set up two pillars above them, whereof
the one, an exceeding marvel for men to see, is stirred by
the breath of the noisy north-wind. Thus were these
things to be brought to pass in days to come. But to them
appeared G-laucus 2 from the depth of the sea, wise ex-
pounder of the will of godlike Nereus ; and he raised aloft
his shaggy head and chest from the hollow depths, and
laid hold upon the ship's keel with his stalwart hand and
cried to them as they hastened, " Why against the will of
mighty Zeus are ye eager to take bold Heracles to the
city of JEetes ? His lot it is to toil in Argos for insolent

the poet's treatment of Jason's character ; not enough prominence is
given to him, who should be the central hero of all. Again and again
Jason is overshadowed by his comrades ; he fails to excite our lively in-
terest in anything like the way that Medea's beautiful portrait stirs it.

1 Heracles heard afterwards how the sons of Boreas had checked the
proposed search for him, and, as he thought (not knowing the will of
the gods), prevented his sharing the farther adventures of the Argonauts ;
so in his rage he slew them in Tenos as they were returning from the
games held at the funeral of Pelias.

8 Glaucus, the son of Polybus, a sea-god endowed with prophetic
powers, explains the divine will in separating Polyphemus, Heracles,
and Hylas from their comrades to fulfil other destinies.

L. 1293-1346.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 49

Eurystheus till he complete twelve labours in all, and then
to dwell amongst the deathless gods, if haply he accom-
plish yet a few. Wherefore let there be no regret for him.
Yea, and even thus it is decreed that Polyphemus found a
famous town amongst the Mysians at the mouth of the
river Cios, and then wind up his clew of fate in the bound-
less country of the Chalybes. 1 And Hylas hath a goddess
nymph taken as her husband for love of him, and this was
why they wandered away and were left behind."

Therewith he dived below and wrapped the restless
wave around him, and the dark water seethed and foamed
in eddies about him, and he let the hollow ship go on
through the sea. Then were the heroes glad ; and he,
Telamon, son of ^acus, made haste to come to Jason, and
he grasped his hand in his own and embraced him, with
these words, " Son of JEson, be not angered with me, if in
my folly I was somewhat blinded, for exceeding grief
urged me to speak a haughty word I could not stay. Nay,
let us give our error to the winds, and be good friends even
as before."

Him in answer the son of Json cautiously addressed,
"Yea, good friend, that was a grievous word enough, I
trow, wherewith thou didst revile me, making me to be a
sinner against a comrade kind amongst all these. Yet no
long time will I nurse bitter wrath against thee, though
before distressed, for it was not for flocks of sheep nor
for possessions that thou wert angered into fury, but for a
man that was thy comrade. Yea, fain would I have thee
stand up for me too against another, if ever there come
such need."

He spake, and they sat them down, united as of old ;
and so by the counsel of Zeus, the one was destined to
found and build a city called after the river, namely

1 The Chalybes were a Scythian race, famous for working in iron,
which their country yielded in plenty.


Polyphemus, son of Elatus, while the other returned and
performed the labours of Eurystheus. Now he threatened
at once to ravage the Mysian land, since they could not
discover for him the fate of Hylas, either alive or dead.
But they chose out the noblest sons of the people, and
gave them as pledges for him, and took an oath that they
would never cease from the toil of seeking him. Where-
fore to this day the men of Cios ask after Hylas, the son
of Theiodamas, and take care of the stablished town of
Trachin, 1 for there it was that Heracles did place the boys,
whom they sent to him from Cios to take as hostages.

And all day long and all that night the wind bare on
the ship, blowing in its strength ; but as the dawn broke,
never a breath stirred. So they, having marked a head-
land, broad enow to look upon, stretching out from a bend
in the land, took to their oars and anchored there at sun-

1 A city in Thessaly, where Heracles placed the boys sent to him as
hostages for lost Hylas by the Mysians.



They reach Bithynia. Amycus, king of the Bfbryccs, having chal-
lenged any of them to box with him, is slain by Polydeuces, and in the
subsequent fight many of the Bebryces fall. At Salmydessa in Thrace
they find blind Phineus, whom the sons of Boreas relieve from the
attacks of the Harpies. In return he tells them of their voyage. Hence
they come to the Symplegades, and, after escaping through them, are
received by Lycus, king of the Mariandyni. Idmon and Tiphys die
there. They meet with strange adventures among the Chalybes, Tiba-
reni, and Mossynceci. Coming to an island infested by " the birds of
Ares," they pick up the shipwrecked sons of Chalciope, who henceforth
serve them as guides to Colchis.


HEEE were the steadings and the farm of Amycus,
proud king of the Bebryces, whom on a day the
Bithynian nymph, Melie, bare from the embraces of Posei-
don, 1 lord of birth, to be the haughtiest of men, for he laid
this unseemly ordinance even on his guests, that none
should go away, till he had made trial of his boxing ; and
many of his neighbours had he slain. So then he came to
the ship, but scorned to ask the object of their voyage and
who they were, in his exceeding insolence ; but this word
at once spake he amongst them all : " Hearken, ye rovers
o'er the deep ; 'tis right ye should know these things. Of
stranger folk none may get him hence, whoso draweth nigh
to the Bebryces, ere he have lifted up his hands to fight
with me. Wherefore set the best man of your company
alone and apart to do battle with me in boxing on the spot.
But if ye neglect and trample on my decrees, verily some
hard necessity shall follow you to your sorrow."

So spake he in his great pride. But savage anger seized
them as they listened. And most of all his chiding smote
Polydeuces. Quickly he stood up as champion of his fel-
lows, and spake, " Hold thee now, and show no coward
violence, whoever thou boastest to be ; for we will yield to
thy ordinance, as thou declarest it. I myself willingly do
undertake to meet thee in this very hour."

1 Poseidon is called " Lord of Creation " because he had power over
all moisture, without which nothing could come into being.


So spake he bluntly ; but the other rolled his eyes and
gazed at him, as when a lion is wounded by a spear, and
men encompass him upon the hills ; but he, hemmed in,
though he be, by the press, yet recketh no more of them,
but only mindeth in his solitude that man who first did
wound him and slew him not. Then did the son of Tyn-
darus lay aside his fine close- woven robe, that robe which
one of the Lemnian maidens had given him for a stranger's
gift, and he threw down his dark cloak of double woof with
the brooches thereupon, and the rough shepherd's crook of
wild mountain olive that he was carrying. Anon they
looked about for a convenient spot near, and made their
comrades all sit down in two bands upon the beach ; nor
were they in form or stature like each other to behold. The
one was like some monstrous birth of baleful Typhoeus l or
haply of Earth herself, such as she aforetime bare to Zeus
in her displeasure ; 2 while the other, the son of Tyndarus,
was like a star of heaven, whose twinklings are most lovely
when he shineth in the gloaming. So fair was the son of
Zeus, with the young down still sprouting on his face and
the glad light yet in his eyes. But his might and his spirit
waxed as doth a beast's ; and he swung his arms, testing
them to see if they moved nimbly as of yore, or lest they
might be stiff withal from toil and rowing. Amycus how-
ever made no trial of himself ; there he stood apart in
silence, and kept his eyes on him, and his heart beat high
with eagerness to dash the other's life-blood from his breast.
Betwixt them Lycoreus, henchman of Amycus, laid at their
feet two pairs of thongs, 3 rough, dry, and wrinkled all about.

1 Typhoeus, a fearful giant slain by Zeus, and buried by him in

2 The legend was that when Zeus slew the Titans, children of Earth,
their mother in anger and revenge produced the Giants.

3 tfiavraf , lit. " thongs," which were bound round the hands and arms
of boxers, sometimes loaded with metal as well, to increase the effect of
the blows. They were called

L. 25-84.] THE AKGONAUTICA. 55

And Amycus with haughty words addressed the other :
"Here will I freely give thee without casting lots which-
ever of these thou wilt, that thou mayst not find fault with
me hereafter. Come, bind it about thy hand ; and, when
thou hast learnt, thou mayst tell another, how far I excel
in cutting the hides of oxen when they are dry, and in
dabbling men's cheeks with blood."

He spake ; but the other answered him with never a taunt,
but, lightly smiling, readily took up the thongs that lay at
his own feet ; and Castor came to be his squire, and mighty
Talaus, the son of Bias ; and quickly they bound the thongs
about his arms, very earnestly exhorting him to show his
prowess ; while for that other Aretus and Ornytus did the
like, and little they knew, poor fools, that they had bound
them for the last time, with ill luck to boot.

But they then, when they were ready with their thongs,
face to face, at once held out before their bodies their
weighty fists, and brought their might to meet each other.
Then the king of the Bebryces, like a wave of the sea that
rears its rugged crest against a swift ship that only just
avoids it by the skill of the crafty pilot, as the billow is
eager to sweep her away within its wall of water ; even so
the king pressed hard the son of Tyndarus to frighten him,
nor would he give him any respite. But the other, un-
wounded ever, kept avoiding his rush by his skill ; and

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryRhodius ApolloniusThe Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius → online text (page 5 of 21)