Rhodius Apollonius.

The Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius online

. (page 8 of 21)
Online LibraryRhodius ApolloniusThe Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius → online text (page 8 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


this," i.e. over and above this.

3 The sons of Tyndarus, Castor and Pollux, were the special pro-
tectors of sailors.



80 APOLLONIUS RHomrrs. [BOOK n.

shall all sailors seek when they see it in the far distance
o'er the sea ; yea, and hereafter will I set apart for them
before the city, as for gods, fat lands on the well-tilled
plain."

So then, the livelong day, they took their pastime at the
feast, but at dawn they went down in haste unto the ship,
yea, and with them went Lycus too, bringing countless
gifts to bear away, for with them was he sending from his
house his son to fare.

There the doom of his fate smote Idmon, son of
Abas, most excellent seer ; yet could not his divining
save him, for fate led him on to die. For within the water-
mead beside the reedy river lay a boar, with white tusks,
cooling his flanks and huge belly in the mud, a deadly
monster, whereof even the nymphs that haunt the meads
were afraid ; and no man knew of his being there, for all
alone along the broad marsh he browsed. Now he, the son
of Abas, was passing by the springs of that muddy river,
when lo ! the boar leapt up from some unseen lair among
the reeds and charged and smote him on the thigh, cutting
sinews and bone right in twain. And with one bitter cry l
down fell he upon the ground, and his comrades flocking
round cried o'er their smitten fellow. But Peleus made
one quick lunge with his hunting-spear at the boar as he
darted in flight into the marsh, and out he rushed again
to charge them, but Idas smote him, and with one grunt
he fell grovelling about the sharp spear. And there they
left him on the ground where he fell, and sorrowfully bare
their swooning comrade to the ship, but he died in his
companions' arms.

So they stayed them from all thought of sailing, and
abode in bitter grief for the burial of the dead man. Three
full days they mourned, and on the fourth made him a

1 6v K\dya(, " with one sharp cry." Notice the true force of the
aorist excellently exemplified instantaneous action.



L. 809-865.] THE AEGONAUTICA. 81

splendid funeral ; and the people, with Lycus their king as
well, joined in the funeral rites ; and at the grave- side they
cut the throats of countless sheep, as is the meed of the
departed. So in that land this warrior's cairn was heaped,
and upon it is a sign l for those who may yet be born, to see,
a log of wild olive such as ships are builded of, which
putteth forth her leaf a little below the Acherusiaii head-
land. Yea, and if I must needs declare this also clearly in
my song, Phoebus bade the Bceotians, who came from Nisaea,
worship him, nothing doubting, as the protector of their
city, and found a town about that log of ancient olive ;
but 2 these to-day do honour to Agamestor instead of Idmon,
god-like son of ^Eolus.

Who next did die ? that 3 must I tell ; for yet again the
heroes piled a barrow for a comrade dead. For verily there
are yet two tombs of those two men to be seen. 'Tis said
that Tiphys, son of Hagnias, died, for it was not appointed
him to voyage further. Nay, a short illness closed there
his eyes far from his fatherland, 4 while his company were
burying the dead son of Abas. And bitter was the grief
they felt at this cruel woe. For when they had buried him
too beside the other there, they threw themselves down in
their distress before the sea, closely wrapped from head to
foot, and never a word they spake nor had they any thought
for meat or drink, but sorrow made their spirit droop ; for
very far from their hopes was their return, and in their

1 ff/ifia, i.e. the monument to mark his grave.

2 i.e. Phrebus commanded the Nisseans to found a city near the
tomb of Idmon and pay him honour, but they in lapse of time con-
fused Idmon with Agamestor, a native hero, and worshipped the latter
instead.

3 yap cri " you must know," introducing something new ; collo-
quially we might say " to continue." yap ovv = " for indeed," giving a
reason for what has immediately preceded, i.e. "I should not have
mentioned this fact unless . . . ."

4 ilffort iv Qay xp6v<f>, " whilst."

G



82 APOLLONIUS RHODItJS. [BOOK II.

anguish would they have stopped from going any further,
had not Hera put exceeding courage in the breast of
Ancaeus, whom Astypalaea bare to Poseidon by the waters
of Imbrasus ; l for a right good steersman was he. So he
did up anon, and spake to Peleus, " Son of ^Eacus, how can
this be well to linger on in a strange land, neglectful of our
enterprise ? Jason hath in me, whom he is leading from
Parthenie away to fetch the fleece, a man whose skill in
war is only second to his knowledge of ships ; wherefore I
pray you, let this fear for the ship be short-lived. Yea, and
there be others here, men of skill ; and whomso of these we
shall set over the helm, none shall harm our voyaging.
But quickly tell all this comfort out; then boldly rouse
them to a remembrance of their labour."

So spake he, and the heart of the other went out to ' him
in gladness ; and anon, without delay, he made harangue
in their midst, " God help us, sirs ! why nurse we thus our
grief in vain ? The dead, I trow, have died the death that
fell to their lot, but there are amongst us, methinks, helms-
men in our company, aye, plenty of them. Wherefore
delay we no more our attempt, but up to your work, cast-
ing sorrow to the winds."

To him the son of .JSson made answer, much perplexed :
" Son of ^acus, where then be these steersmen ? For they
whom aforetime we boasted were men of skill, hang down
their heads, more vexed at me than ever. Wherefore I fore-
see a sorry fate for us as well as for the dead, if indeed it
be our lot neither to come to the city of baleful -Setes, nor
ever again to pass the rocks and reach the land of Hellas ;
for here will a miserable doom hide us without fame, till
we grow old for nought." So spake he ; but right speedily

1 A river in Samos, formerly called Parthenius.

2 opi^aro opeyw, literally '' I reach out ; " perhaps our phrase '' went
out to" may keep the meaning; in connexion with yrjBoavrymi' it means
little more than " was exceeding glad, yearned for joy."



L. 866-913.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 83

Ancseus took upon him to steer the swift ship, for verily lie
was turned thereto by the prompting of the goddess. And
after him arose Erginus and Nauplius and Euphemus, all
eager for to steer. But these did they hold therefrom, for
many of the crew would have Ancseus.

So they went aboard on the twelfth day at dawn ; for
lo ! a strong west wind did blow for them, and quickly they
passed through the Acheron with rowing ; and, trusting to
the wind, they shook out their sails, and so sped calmly on
a goodly stretch under canvas. Quickly came they past
the mouth of the river Callichorus, 1 where, men say, the
Nysean son of Zeus, what time he left the tribes of India
and came to dwell in Thebes, held his revels and led the
dance before the cave, wherein he would sleep away the
gloomy 2 hours of sacred night, wherefore they who dwell
around do call that river " Stream of fair dancing," and
that cave " the Bedchamber," 3 after him.

Sailing thence they saw the tomb of Sthenelus, 4 son of

1 A river in Paphlagonia sacred to Dionysus, because he had held
revels here and danced.

2 afjLEiSrjTovG, " gloomy," either an ordinary epithet of the darkness of
night, or possibly with an allusion to the secret mysteries of the opyia.

3 'AvXiov = " resting-place." It seems better to give an English
equivalent for these Greek names ; otherwise the point of the appella-
tion is apt to be lost.

4 The tomb of Sthenelus, the son of Actor, is in Paphlagonia ; he had
gone with Heracles against the Amazons, but had been wounded, and
had died on the way home. His wraith now appears to the heroes,
having been allowed by the queen of Hades to gaze a little space upon
his fellow-men.

It is but a grim picture the ancient Greek poets draw of life in the
other world. Everyone will remember the famous passage in Homer,
where Achilles' spirit declares that he would sooner be a bondman to a
poor man on earth than lord it over all the souls in Hades. This passage
here portrays the soul of another brave man craving, with many tears,
the scanty boon of seeing for a moment men in the flesh as he was once
Jiimself.



84 APOLLONIUS KHODIUS. [BOOK II.

Actor, who on his way back from the bold fight with the
Amazons for thither had he gone with Heracles died
there upon the beach, of an arrow wound. So then they
sailed on no further. For Persephone herself sent forth
the spirit of the son of Actor, at his piteous prayer, to gaze a-
little on men of like passions with himself. So he took his
stand on the summit of his tomb and watched for the ship,
in form even as when he went to the war, and on his head
shone his four-plumed helmet with the blood-red crest.
And then he passed once more beneath the mighty gloom j
but they marvelled at the sight, and Mopsus, son of
Ampycus, did prophesy, and bade them anchor there and
appease the spirit with drink-offerings. So they quickly
furled the sails, and making fast the cables on the strand
were busied about the tomb of Sthenelus, pouring libations
to him, and offering sheep as victims. Moreover they did
build, besides pouring libations, an altar to Apollo, pro-
tector of ships, and burnt sheep thereon; and there
Orpheus dedicated his lyre, whence that place is called
" the Lyre."

Anon, as the wind blew strong, they went aboard ; and
set the sail and made it taut to either sheet ; l and Argo was
carried at full speed to sea, even as when a falcon aloft
through the air spreading his wings to the blast goes
swiftly on his way, swerving not in his swoop, as he poises
on steady pinions. And so they passed by the streams of
Parthenius, 2 murmuring to the sea, gentlest of rivers,
wherein the virgin child of Leto doth cool her limbs in its
lovely waters, whenso she ascendeth to heaven from the
chase. Then speeding ever onward through the night

1 vodac, " the sheets," i.c. the ropes by which the sails are tightened
and slackened.

a ITapOtvioto, i.e. the Maiden's stream, so called because Artemis, the
virgin goddess, bathed therein, or because of the pureness of its water.
It is a river in Paphlagonia, falling into the sea near the city Sesamus.



li. 914-971.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 85

they sailed out past Sesamus and the steep Erythinian
hills, Crobialus, and Cromne, and wooded Cytorus. Next
after doubling Carambis, as the sun was rising, they rowed
all day and all night too along a vast stretch of sand.

Anon they set foot on the soil of Assyria, where Zeus,
tricked by his own promise, set down Sinope, daughter of
Asopus, and granted her her virgin state. For verily he
longed for her love ; so the great god promised to give her
whatsoever her heart desired; and she in her cunning
asked her maidenhood. So too did she beguile Apollo,
eager for her love, and after them the river Halys ; nor did
any man ever subdue her in love's embrace. There were
dwelling even yet at that day the sons of noble Deimachus,
prince of Triccse, Deileon and Autolycus and Phlogius,
after they had wandered away from Heracles. Now these,
when they marked the expedition of the chieftains, came
forth to meet them, and told them truly who they were ;
for they had no wish to abide there any longer, but went
aboard the ship, soon as ever the clear l south- wind blew.
So in their company they sped before the swift breeze, and
left the river Halys, and Iris, that flows hard by, yea, and
that part 2 of Syria that these have formed ; and on that day
they rounded the distant headland of the Amazons, that
shutteth in their harbour.

There on a day the hero Heracles laid in ambush for
Melanippe, daughter of Aretius, as she came forth ; and,
in ransom for her sister, Hippolyte gave him her dazzling
girdle ; so he set her free unhurt.



o, from dpyoe, " bright, shining," the same word that appears
in the Homeric apytupovrriQ. Hence the wind that clears the sky of
clouds and makes it bright, i.e. the South-wind.

2 irpoxvnv -xQuvos, " alluvial deposit " such as most great rirers wash
down in their course, e.g. the Delta of the Nile is entirely formed by the
earth brought down by the stream and deposited at its mouth. In this
case the Halys and Iris have formed what was called afterwards Leuco-
syria.



86 APOLLONIUS RHODIUS. [BOOK II..

They then anchored in a bay behind the headland, at the
mouth of the Thermodon, for the sea was rising against
their going. This river hath no counterpart, nor is there
any other that sendeth forth from itself upon the earth so
many streams. If a man should count each up, there
would lack but four of a hundred. 1 Yet is there only one
real spring, which cometh down from high mountains unto
the land. Men say these are called the Amazonian moun-
tains. Thence it spreads straight over a somewhat hilly
country far inland, wherefore it hath a winding course, and
ever it twists in different directions, wheresoever it can
best find a flat country ; one branch far away, another near
at hand ; and there be many of them, of which no man
knoweth, where they lose themselves in the sand ; but it,
mingling with a few openly, discharges its arching 2 flood of
foam into cheerless Pontus. And now would they have
stayed to do battle with the Amazons ; nor would they, I
trow, have striven without bloodshed, for the Amazons are
no gentle folk, and cared not for justice in their dwellings
on the plain of Doias ; nay, their thoughts were set on
deeds of grievous violence, and the works of Ares ; for they,
indeed, drew their stock from Ares and the nymph Har-
monia, who bare these warrior daughters unto him, what
time she won his love in the dells of the Acmonian grove ;.
but once more, from Zeus mayhap, came the breath of the
clear south-wind. And Argo left the round headland
before the wind, where the Themiscyrean Amazons were
doing on their harness.

These dwelt not all together in one city, but were
scattered over the land by tribes in three bodies ; apart

1 A curiously roundabout way of saying that there are ninety-six dis-
tinct streams, all starting, however, from one source.

2 Kvprijv d^vriv. If this reading be accepted, it means apparently the
volume of water discharged by the river in foaming, arching billows into-
the sea.



L. 972-1032.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 87

were those over whom Hippolyte was then queen ; and
apart dwelt the Lycastise, and apart the Chadesiae, who
hurl the spear. On the next day, as night drew on, they
came unto the land of the Chalybes. These take no thought
for ploughing with oxen, nor for any planting of luscious
fruit ; neither do they, strange folk, herd cattle in the
dewy pasture. But cleaving open the stubborn earth with
her store of iron, they do take therefrom a wage to barter
for food ; for them dawn never riseth without toil, but mid
soot and flame and smoke * they endure their heavy labour.

Anon, after these, they doubled the headland of Zeus,
the great father, and sailed safely by the land of the
Tibareni. Here it is that when the women bear children
to the men, 'tis the men that throw themselves upon their
beds and groan, with their heads veiled, while the women
tend them carefully with food, and get ready for them the
bath they use after child-birth. 2

Next they passed the Holy mountain and land, wherein
upon the hills dwell the Mossynoeci in wooden houses, and
hence they have their name. Strange is their justice ;
strange their ordinances. All that men may do openly,
either among the people or in the market-place, all this they
perform at home ; but all that we do in our houses, that
do they out of doors in the midst of the streets, with none
to blame. In love is there no modesty among this people,
but like swine that feed in herds, caring not a jot for the
presence of any, they lie with their women upon the ground.
Now their king sitteth in a house of wood, high above the
rest, and declareth just judgment to the throng of folk.
Poor wretch ! for if haply he do err at all in his judging,
they keep him shut up that day without food.

By these they passed, and, rowing all day long, cleft

1 Xiyw is properly smoke with flame showing through it.

2 Travellers assert that the extraordinary customs here alluded to as
practised by the Tjbareni may still be witnessed amongst the Chinese.



88 APOLLONIXJS RHODIUS. [BOOK n.

their way, till they were almost opposite to the isle of
Ares, for towards dusk the light breeze failed. Already
they saw one of those birds of Ares that haunt the isle
come swooping through the air from above, which did
stretch his pinions o'er the speeding ship and shoot against
her a sharp feather, and it fell on the left shoulder of
goodly Oileus ; and he let his oar fall from his hands, for
he was wounded ; but they marvelled to see the feathered
shaft. And Eribotes from his seat hard by drew forth the
feather and bound up the wound, having loosed the baldric
hanging from his own scabbard ; and lo ! there appeared
another swooping down after the former, but the hero
Clytius, the son of Eurytus slew it, for he had ere this
stretched his bended bow, and he shot a swift arrow at the
bird, even as it flew above ; and it fell with a rush hard by the
swift ship ; then amongst them spake Amphidamas, the
son of Aleus : " Nigh to us is the isle of Ares ; be sure of
that from seeing these birds with your own eyes. And I
think that arrows will not help us much to disembark ;
but let us provide some other counsel for our help, if haply
ye mean to anchor here, mindful of the bidding of Phineus.
For not even Heracles, when he came to Arcadia, was able
to drive away with his arrows the birds that swam l on the
Stymphalian mere ; that saw I with mine own eyes. But
he, shaking his rattling bronze armour in his hands, did
raise a din upon a lofty height, and they were scared afar,
screaming in frightful terror. Wherefore now let us too
devise some such plan, and I will tell you myself, since I
have ere this thought upon it. Put on your heads your
high-crested helmets, and half of you take turns at rowing,
and the other half guard 2 the ship with polished spears and

1 irXwi'cac, so called because they swam about the Stymphalian lake
in Arcadia, whence Heracles had chased them.

1 apatre, Ionic future from apapioKti), i.e. from the notion of joining
conies that of roofing in the ship, as it were, with a penthouse of shields.



L. 1033-1099.] THE ARUONAUTICA. 89

bucklers. And at .once raise a mighty shout all together,
that they may be scared by the uproar, from being unused
thereto, and the nodding plumes and uplifted spears. And
if we reach the island itself, then shout and raise a hideous
din by smiting on your shields."

So spake he ; and his helpful counsel pleased them all ;
so about their heads they put their brazen helmets, dread-
fully flashing, and upon them waved the blood- red plumes.
And part took turns at rowing, while the rest with sword
and shield did guard the ship. As when a man doth roof
a house with tiles, an ornament to his house and a defence
against the rain, as one tile is fitted firmly on another ; so
they covered in the ship with a pent-house of shields. And
as the clash that goeth up from a warlike throng of men in
motion, what time the lines of battle meet, even such was
the sound that rose into the air on high from the ship.
Nor could they see any of the birds the while, but when
they drew nigh the island and smote upon their bucklers,
forthwith those birds rose in thousands, flying this way and
that. As when the son of Cronos sends a heavy hailstorm
from the clouds on city and houses, and they who dwell
beneath them hear the rattle on their roofs and sit in
silence, for the wintry season is not come upon them un-
awares, but ere its coming have they made fast the roof ;
even so the birds let loose on them, a thick shower of shafts,
as they darted high o'er the sea to the hills on the farther
shore.

What did Phineus mean, (that must I tell,) in bidding
the divine company of heroes anchor here ? or what help
was to come to them at their desire ? The sons of Phrixus
had gone on board a Colchian ship, and were faring to the
city of Orchomenus from ^Ea, at the direction of Cytaean
JEetes, that they might take unto themselves the boundless
wealth of their father, for he, as he lay a-dying, laid this
journev on them. And very nigh were they to the island



90 APOLLONIUS BHODIUS. [BOOK II.

on that day. But Zeus stirred up thejnighty north-wind
to blow, marking the wet path of Arcturus in the waves ;
so all day long he shook the leaves upon the mountains a
little, blowing lightly on the topmost branches, but at night
came he seaward in his giant strength, roaring and stirring
the billow with his breath ; and a dark mist veiled the sky,
nor were the bright stars to be seen from the clouds, but a
curtain of gloom settled over all. And they, the sons of
Phrixus, dripping and in terror of a fearsome death, were
drifting thus before the waves. And the furious wind rent
their sails, yea, and brake their ship in pieces, shaken as it
was by the breakers. Then by heaven's guidance those
four men seized hold upon a mighty beam, such as were
scattered in plenty, after the wreck, held together by sharp
bolts. And them did the waves and the breath of the wind
drive in sore distress unto the island, within a little of death.
Anon there burst on them a wondrous l storm of rain, and
it rained over the sea and the island, and all the coast over
against the island, where dwelt the haughty Mossynceci.
And the onset of the wave hurled them, the sons of Phrixus,
together with the stout beam, upon the beach of the island
in the gloom of night ; but at sunrise it ceased, that heaven-
sent torrent, and quickly they drew nigh and met one an-
other, and Argus first made harangue :

" By Zeus, who seeth all, we do entreat you, whosoever
ye be, to be favourable and help us at our need. For rough
tempests, grievously buffeting the sea, have scattered piece-
meal the timbers of our shameful barque, 2 wherein we were

1 d9iff<t>arof. Etymol. a negat., 6t6c, <j>dvai, i.e. impossible for even
gods to tell, i.e. marvellously great.

2 dttKi\ii]c vriog = " that sorry ship of ours/' ^Eetes, wishing to get
rid of the sons of Phrixus, had encouraged them to undertake their
voyage to Orchomenus, but had purposely given them an unseaworthy
ship that they might be wrecked. He was afraid of them, because an oracle
had warned him of dangers to come from his own family. He failed to guess
that Medea, not Chalciope and her sons, was the real cause of danger.



L. 1100-1161.] THE ARGONAUTICA. 91

cleaving our way, on business bent. Wherefore now we
implore you, if ye will hearken, give us some rag to wrap
around our skin and take us hence, in pity for companions
in adversity. Yea, reverence suppliant strangers for the
sake of Zeus, the god of strangers and suppliants ; for we
are both suppliants of Zeus and strangers. And, I trow,
he hath his eye even upon us."

Him in answer did the son of yEson question carefully,
for he thought that the prophecies of Phineus were being
accomplished, " Anon will we provide all these things with
good will. But come now, tell me truly, in what country
ye dwell, and the business that bids you fare across the sea,
and your own famous name and lineage."

And Argus answered him in helpless misery, " Haply ye
have heard yourselves even aforetime, I deem, and of a
surety, how one Phrixus, son of ^Eolus, came from Hellas
unto ^Ea, that Phrixus, who came to the town of ^Eetes,
sitting astride a ram, the ram that Hermes made of gold ;
yea, and even now might ye see the fleece fluttering on the
rough branches of an oak. For afterwards, by the ram's
own counsel, Phrixus sacrificed him to Zeus, the son of
Cronos, who helpeth fugitives, 1 before all other gods. Him
did Metes receive into his house and gave to him his
daughter Chalciope without gifts of wooing in the gladness
of his heart. From these twain are we sprung. But he,
even Phrixus, died long ago, full of years, in the halls of
JEetes ; and we, obeying our father's command, set out at
once to Orchomenus to take the possessions of Athamas.
And if, as thou sayest, thou hast a mind to learn our name,
lo ! this man is called Cytisorus, and this Phrontis, and
that Melas, and me myself shall ye call Argus."

So spake he ; and the chieftains were glad at the meet-
ing, and they crowded round them in wonder. But Jason

1 *i>iof. Zeus was worshipped under this title amongst the Thes-


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryRhodius ApolloniusThe Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius → online text (page 8 of 21)