Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Voyage of Argo - Apolonius of Rhodes

The Voyage of Argo – Apollonius of Rhodes

I first saw the movie “Jason and the Argonauts” when I was a little boy. Over the years I have told the story to my Greek and Roman classes for decades – but it took till now [2014] for me to actually read the book myself.

Apollonius of Rhodes was borne in 270 BC.  He would eventually become the chief Liberian at Alexandria.  I enjoyed reading the “history”, the thinking of the ancients, the stories of heroes I love (especially Castor, Polydeuces, and Peleus), and much about the gods – the powers they represent.  It is interesting that the two main characters, Jason and Medea, are so loathsome.  There physical beauty does not redeem their perfidy. 

1. “And now, from Sparta, Aetolian Lede sent the mighty Polydeuces and Castor, that famous that famous master of the racing horse.  She had borne these two in Tyndareus’ place at a single birth.  She loved them dearly, but she did not try to keep them back: hers was a spirit worthy of the love of Zeus.”  p. 39 

2. “First of all, at a word from Argus, they strengthened the ship by girding her with stout rope, which they drew taut on either side, so that her planks should not spring from their bolts but stand any pounding that the seas might give them.  Next they quickly hollowed out a runway wide enough to take her beam, extending it into the sea as far as the prow would reach when they launched her, and as the trench advanced, digging deeper and deeper below the level of her stem.  Then they laid smooth rollers of the bottom.  This done, they tipped her down onto the first rollers, on top of which she was to glide along.  Next, high up on both sides of the ship, they swung the oars inboard and fastened each handle to its tholepin so that a foot and a half projected.  They themselves took their stance on either side, one behind the other, breasting the oars and pressing with their hands.  And now Tiphys leapt on board to tell the young men when to push.  He gave the order with a mighty shout and they put their backs into it at once.  At the first heave they shifted her from where she lay; then strained forward with their feet to keep her on the move.  And move she did.  Between the two files of hustling shouting men. Pelian Argo ran swiftly down.  The rollers, chafed by the sturdy keel, groaned and reacted to the weight by putting up a pall of smoke.  Thus she slid into the sea, and would have run still farther, had they not stood by and checked her with hawsers.”  pp. 45-46

3. “His [Philyra] wife came too.   She was carrying Peleus’ little boy Achilles on her arm, and she held him up for his dear father to see.”  p. 51

4.  “Here, in the previous year, the women had run riot and slaughtered every male inhabitant.  The married men, seized with loathing for their lawful wives, had cast them off, conceiving an unruly passion for the captured girls they brought across the sea from raids in Thrace . . . Unhappy women!  Their soul-destroying and insensate jealousy drove them to kill not only their husbands and the girls who had usurped their beds, but every male as well in order that they might not have to pay the price one day for this atrocious massacre.”  p. 52

5. “But even if Heaven spares us that calamity [an attack wandering ships], there are many troubles worse than war that you will have to meet as time goes on.  When the older ones among us have died off, how are you younger women, without children, going to face the miseries of age?  Will the oxen yoke themselves?  Will they go out into the fields and drag the ploughshare through the stubborn fallow?”  p. 54

6. Message through the halcyon  “Bout towards the end of the next night, while Acastus and Mopsus watched over their comrades,  who had long been fast asleep, a halcyon hovered over the golden head of Aeson’s  son and in its piping voice announced the end of the gales.  Mopsus heard it and understood the happy omen.  So when the sea-bird, still directed by a god, flew off and perched on the mascot of the ship, he went to Jason, who lay comfortably wrapped in fleeces, woke him quickly with a touch . . . p. 65

7. On the Goddess Rhea  “’My lord, you must climb this holy peak to propitiate Rhea, Mother of all the happy gods, whose lovely throne is Dindymum itself – and then the gales will cease.  I learnt this from a halcyon just now: the sea-bird flew above you as you slept and told me all.  Rhea’s dominion covers the winds, the sea, the whole earth, and the gods’ home on snow-capped Olympus.  Zeus himself, the Son of Cronos, gives place to her when she leaves her mountain haunts and rises into the broad sky.  So too do the other blessed ones;  all pay the same deference to the dread goddess.’”  P. 65   

 8. The loss of Hylas “Hylas soon found a spring, which the people of the neighborhood call Pegae. He reached it when the nymphs were about to hold their dances – it was the custom of all those who haunt that beautiful headland to sing the praise of Artemis by night.  The nymphs of the mountain peaks and caverns were all posted some way off to patrol the woods; but one, the naiad of the spring, was just emerging from the limpid water as Hylas drew near.  And there, with the full moon shining on him from a clear sky, she saw him in all his full radiant beauty and alluring grace. Her heart was flooded by desire; she had a struggle to regain her scattered wits.  But Hylas now leant over to one side to dip his ewer in; and as soon as the water was gurgling loudly round the ringing bronze she threw her left arm round his neck in her eagerness to kiss his gentle lips.  Then with her right hand she drew his elbow down and plunged him in midstream.”  p. 69

9. Oath on the River Styx “And she [Iris] went on to swear by the waters of Styx, the most portentous and inviolable oath that any god can take, that the Harpies would never visit Phineus’ house again, such being Fate’s decree.”  p. 81

10. Zeus’ Attitude on Prophesy “I [the Prophet Phineus] now realize that he himself intends a prophet’s revelations to be incomplete, so that humanity may miss some part of Heaven’s design.”  p. 82

11. On Apollo “Here they had a vison of Apollo on his way from Lycia to visit the remote and teeming peoples of the North.  Then golden locks streamed down his cheeks in clusters as he moved; he had a silver bow in his left hand and a quiver slung on his back . . . They were awe-struck at the sight and no one dared to face the god and meet his lovely eyes . . . The lord Orpheus joined them in their worship.  Striking his Bistonian lyre, he told them in song how Apollo long ago, when he was still a beardless youth rejoicing in his locks, slew the monster Delphyne with his bow beneath the rocky prow of Parnassus.”  pp. 91-92

12. The Debate between Jason and Peleus  “He [Ancaeus] ran up to Peleus and said:  ‘My lord, what sense is there in giving up the quest and wasting time in this outlandish spot?  Jason brought me all the way from Parthenia to help him find the fleece not because I am a fighter, but because I do know something about ships.  So believe me, you need have no fears at all for Argo.  And I am not the only one; there are others here who know the sea.  Not one of them would lead us into trouble if we put him at the helm.  I beg you to pass all this on at once and to remind them boldly of their duty.’    Peleus’ heart leapt up for joy and he quickly summoned the others.  ‘My friends,’ he said ‘why indulge in this unprofitable grief?  When our two comrades died, there must have been their destiny.  But we have other steersmen with us, plenty of them.  On the, without adventure; there is no excuse for loitering.  Wake up, I say, and work, casting your sorrows to the wind.’  But Jason took him up; he could see no light ahead.  ‘My lords Peleus,’ he said, ‘where are these pilots of yours?  The seamen whom we used to count on are even more despondent and unmanned than I am.  Indeed, I see nothing for us but a fate as sad as that of our lost friends.  For it looks as though we should neither reach the terrible Aeetes’ city nor find our way back to Hellas past the Clashing Rocks.  No, we are doomed to grow old here, inglorious and obscure, with nothing done.’  In spite of this, Ancaeus , inspired by Heaven, promptly undertook the steer and gallant ship.  Erginus too, and Nauplius and Euphemus all stood u, eager to have the task,  But there comrades held them back as the greater number voted for  Ancaeus.”  p. 97

13. On Amazons “Had the Argonauts stayed here as they intended and come to grips with the Amazons, the fight would have been a bloody one.  For the Amazons of the Doeantian plain were by no means gentle, well-conducted folk; they were brutal and aggressive, and their main concern in life was war.  War, indeed, was in their blood, daughters of Ares as they were and of the Nymph Harmonia, who lay with the god in the depth of the Acmonian Wood and bore him girls who fell in love with fighting . . . the Amozons of Themiscyra wer arming for battle.  I must explain that the Amazons did not all live in one city; there were three separate tribes settled in different parts of the country.  The party on the beach, whose queen at the time was Hippolyte, were Themiscyreans.  The Lycastians lived apart and so did the Chadesians, who were javelin-throwers.”   p. 100 

14. Men Suffer the Birth Pangs “the country of the Tibareni . . . Here, when a woman is in childbirth, it is the husband who takes to his bed.  He lies there groaning with his head wrapped up and his wife feeds him with loving care.  She even prepares the bath for the event.” p.101

15. “Backwards” People “Next they passed the Sacred Mountain and the highlands were the Mossynoeci live in the mossynes or wooden houses from which they take their name.  These people have their own ideas of what is right and proper.  What we as a rule do openly in town or market-place they do at home; and what we do in the privacy of our houses they do out of doors in the open street, and nobody thinks the worse of hem.  Even the sexual act puts no one to the blush in this community.  On the contrary, like swine in the fields, they lie down on the ground in promiscuous intercourse and are not al all disconcerted by the presence of others.  Then again, their king sits in the loftiest hut of all to dispense justice to his numerous subjects.  But if the poor man happen s to make a mistake in his findings, they lock him up and give him nothing to eat for the rest of the day.” p.101

16. Birth of Cheiron “ . . . Cronos and Philyra were surprised in the vey at by the goddess Rhea. Whereupon Cronos leapt out of bed and galloped off in the form of a long-maned stallion while Philyra in her shame left the place, deserting her old haunts, and came to the long Pelasgian ridges.  There she gave birth to the monstrous Cheiron, half horse and half divine, the offspring of a lover in a questionable shape.”  p. 107 

17. The Suffering of Prometheus “And now the last recess of the Black Sea opened up and they caught sight of the high crags of Caucasus, where Prometheus stood chained by every limb to the hard rock with fetters of bronze, and fed an eagle on his liver.  The bird kept eagerly returning to its feed.  They saw it in the afternoon flying high above the ship with a strident whirr.  It was near the clouds, yet it made all their canvas quiver to its wings as it beat by.  For its form was not that of an ordinary bird; the long quill-feathers of each wing rose and fell like a bank of polished oars.  Soon after the eagle had passed, they heard Prometheus shriek in agony as it pecked at his liver.  The air rang with his screams till at length they saw the flesh-devouring bird fly back from the mountain by the same way as it came.”  pp. 107-108

18. Here’s Test of Jason  “ . . . I have been very fond of Jason ever since the time when I was putting human charity on trial and as he came home from the chase he met me at the mouth of the Anaurus.  The river was in spate, for all the mountains and their high spurs were under snow and cataracts were roaring down their sides.  I was disguised as an old woman and he took pity on me, lifted me up, and carried me across he flood on his shoulders.  For that, I will never cease to honor him.”  p. 111

19. Here Calls on Aphrodite for Help “Here, choose her words with care, replied: ‘We are not asking you to use your hands: force is not needed.  All we require of you is quietly to tell your boy to use his wizardry and make Aeetes’ daughter fall in love with Jason.  With Medea on his side he should find it easy to carry off the golden fleece and make his way back to Iolcus.  She is something of a witch herself.” p. 111

20. Cupid Is Rebellious  “But ladies,” said Cyprus, speaking now to both of them, [Here and Athena] ‘he is far more likely to obey you than me.  There is no reverence in him, but faced by you he might display some spark of decent feeling.  He certainly pays no attention to me he defies me and always does the opposite of what I say.  In fact I am so worn out by his naughtiness that I have half a mind to break his bow and wicked arrows in his very sight, remembering how he threatened me with them in one of his moods.”  pp. 111-112

21. Free Speech and Democracy “’My friends,’ he said, ‘I am going to tell you what action I myself should like to take, though its success depends on you.  Sharing the danger as we do, we share the right of speech; and I warn the man who keeps his mouth shut when he ought to speak his mind that he will be the one to wreck our enterprise.’”  p. 114

22. The Power of Words  “We ought not to use force to rob him of his own without so much as seeing what a few words may do; it would be much better to talk to him first and try to win him over.  Speech, by smoothing the way, often succeeds where forceful measures might have failed.”  p. 114

23. Zeus, God of Hospitality  “Every man on earth, even the greatest rogue, fears Zeus the god of hospitality ad keeps his laws.”

24. Cupid Shoots Medea “Meanwhile Eros, passing through the clear air, had arrived unseen and bent on mischief, like a gadfly setting out to plague the grazing heifers, the fly that cowherds call the breese.  In the porch, under the lintel of the door, he quickly strung his bow and from his quiver took a new arrow, fraught with pain.  Still unobserved, he ran across the threshold glancing around him sharply.  Then he crouched low at Jason’s feet, fitted the notch to the middle of the string, and drawing the bow as far as his hands would stretch, shot at Medea.  And her heart stood still.  With a happy laugh Eros sped out of the high-roofed hall on his way back, leaving his shaft deep in the girl’s beast, hot as fire.  Time and again she darted a bright glance at Jason.  All else was forgotten.  Her heart, brimful of this new agony, throbbed within her and overflowed with the sweetness of the pain.  A working woman, rising before dawn to spin and needing light in her cottage room, piles brushwood on a smoldering log, and the whole heap kindled by the little brand goes up in a mighty blaze.  Such was the fire of Love, stealthy but all consuming, that swept through Medea’s heart.  In the turmoil of her soul her soft cheeks turned from rose to white and white to rose.”  pp. 116-117  

25. More on Medea’s Passion  “As the party wen tout of the hall, Jason’s comeliness and char singled him out fro all the rest; and Medea, plucking her bright veil aside, turned wondering eyes upon him.  Her heart smoldered with pain and as he passed from sight her soul crept out of her, as in a dream, and fluttered in his steps . . . Medea too retired, a prey to all the inquietude that Love awakens. The whole scene was still before her eyes – how Jason looked, the clothes he wore, the things he said, the way he sat, and how he walked to the door.  It seemed to her, as she reviewed these images, that there was nobody like Jason.  His voice and the honey-sweet words that he had used still rang in her ears.  But she feared for him.  She was afraid that the bulls or Aeetes with his own hands might kill him; and she mourned him as one already dead.  The pity of it overwhelmed her; a round tear ran down her cheek . . . “ p. 121

26.  “But oh, how bleak the prospect is, with our one hope of seeing home again in women’s hands!” p. 122

27. Heroes Ready to Act [Peleus, Castor, and Polydeuces]  “ The task, as Jason had described it, seemed so impossible to all of them that for awhile they stood there without a sound or word, looking at one another in impotent despair.  But at last Peleus took heart and spoke out to his fellow chieftains: ‘The time has come.  We must confer and settle what to do.  Not that debate will help us much: I would rather trust to strength of arm.  Jason, my lord, if you fancy the adventure and mean to yoke Aeetes’ bulls you will naturally keep your promise and prepare.  But if you have the slightest fear that your nerve may fail you, do not force yourself.  And you need not sit there looking round for someone else  I, for one, am willing.  The worst that I shall suffer will be death.’  So said the son of Aeacus.  Teamon too was stirred and eagerly leapt up; next Idas, full of lofty thoughts, then Castor and Polydeuces; and with them one who was already numbered with the men of might though the down scarcely showing on his cheeks,  Meleager son of Oeneus, his heart uplifted by the courage that dares all.  But the others made no move, leaving it to these . . .” pp. 122-123

28. Blossom from the Blood of Prometheus  “It first appeared in a plant that sprang from the blood-like ichor of Prometheus in his torment, which the flesh-eating eagle had dropped on the spur of Caucasus.  The flowers, which grew on twin stalks a cubit high, were of the color of Corycian saffron, while the root looked like flesh that has just been cut, and the juice like the dark sap of a mountain oak.”  p. 132

29. Medea’s Instructions to Jason  “In the morning, melt this charm, strip, and using it like oil, anoint you body.  It will endow you with tremendous strength and boundless confidence.  You will feel yourself a match, not for mere men, but for the gods themselves.  Sprinkle you spear and shield and sword with it as well; and neither the spear-points of the earthborn men nor the consuming flames the savage bulls spew out will find you vulnerable.  But you will not be immune for long – only for the day.  Nevertheless, do not at any moment flinch from the encounter.  And here is something else that will stand you in good stead.  You have yoked the mighty bulls; you have ploughed the stubborn fallow (with those great hands and all that strength it will not take you long); you have sown the serpent’s teeth in the dark earth; and now the giants are springing up along the furrows.  Watch till you see a number of them rise from the soil, then, before they see you, throw a great boulder in among them; and they will fall on it like famished dogs and kill one another.  That is your moment; plunge into the fray yourself.”  p. 137

30.  Jason’s Oath to Medea “As she spoke, tears of misery ran down her cheeks.  But Jason said: ‘Dear lady, you may spare the wandering Winds that task, and your tell-tale bird as well, for you are talking nonsense.  If you come to us in Hellas you will be honored and revered by both the women and the men.  Indeed they will treat you as a goddess, because it was through you that their sons come home alive, or their brothers, kinsmen, or beloved husbands were saved from hurt.  And there shall be a bridal bed for you, which you and I will share.  Nothing will part us in our love till Death at his appointed hour removes us fro the light of day.’”  p. 139

31. The Serpent’s Teeth  “The teeth were those of the Aonian serpent, the guardian of Are’s spring.  Which Cadmus killed in Ogygian Thebes.  He had come there in his search for Europa, and there he settled, under the guidance of a heifer picked out for him by Apollo in an oracle.  Athene, Lady of Trito, tore the teeth out of the serpent’ jaws and divided them between Aeetes and Cadmus, the slayer of the beast.  Cadmus sowed them in the Anoian plain and founded an earthborn clan with all that had escaped the spear of Ares when he did his harvesting.  Such were the teeth that Aeetes let them take back to the ship. He gave them willingly as he was satisfied the Jason, even if he yoked the bulls, would prove unable to finish off the task.” p. 140

32. The Yoking of the Bulls  “Jason, as soon as his men had made the hawsers fast, leapt from the ship and entered the lists with spear and shield.  He also took with him a shining bronze helmet full of sharp teeth, and his sword was slung from his shoulder.  But his body was bare, so that he looked like Apollo of the golden sword as much as Ares god of war.  Glancing round the field, he saw the bronze yoke for the bulls and beside it the plough of indurated steel,  all in one piece.  He went up to them, planted his heavy spear in the ground by its butt an laid the helmet down, leaning it against the spear.  Then he went for war with his shield alone to examine the countless tracks that the bulls had made.  And now, from somewhere in the bowels of the earth, from the smoky stronghold where they slept, the pair of bulls appeared, breathing flames of fire.  The Argonaut were terrified at the sight.  But Jason planting his feet apart stood to receive them, as a reef in the sea confronts the tossing billows in a gale.  He held his shield in front o him, and the two bulls, bellowing loudly, charged and gutted it with their strong horns.  But he was not shifted from his stance, not by so much as an inch.  The bulls snorted and spurted from their mouths devouring flames, like a perforated crucible when the leather bellows of the smith, sometimes ceasing, sometimes blowing hard, have made a blaze and the fire leaps up from below with a terrific roar.  The deadly heat assailed him on all sides with the force of lightning.  But he was protected by Medea’s magic.  Seizing the right-hand bull by the tip of its horn, he dragged it with all his might towards the yoke, and then brought it down on its knees with a sudden kick on its bronze foot.  The other charged, and was felled in the same way at a single blow; and a Jason, who had cast his shield aside, stood with his feet apart, and though the flames at once enveloped him, held them both down on their fore-knees where they fell.  Aeetes marveled at the man’s strength.  Castor and Polydeuces picked up the yoke and gave it to Jason –they had been detailed for the task and were close hand.  Jason bound it tight on the bulls’ necks, lifted the bronze pole between them and fastened it to the yoke by its pointed end, while the Twins backed out of the heat and returned to the ship.” pp. 143-144

33. Slaughter of the Earthborn Men  “ By now the earthborn men were shooting up like corn in all parts of the field.  The deadly War-god’s sacred plot bristled with stout shields, double-pointed spears, and glittering helmets.  The splendor of it flashed through the air above and struck Olympus.  Indeed this army springing from the earth shone out like the full congregation of the stars piercing the darkness of a murky night, when snow lies deep and the winds have chased the wintry clouds away.  But Jason did not forget the counsel he had had from Medea of the many wiles.  He picked up from the field a huge round boulder, a formidable quoit that Ares might have thrown, but four strong men together could not have budged from its place.  Rushing forward with this in his hands he hurled it far away among the earthborn men,  then crouched behind his shield, unseen and full of confidence.  The Colchians gave a mighty shout like the roar of the sea beating on jagged rocks; and the king himself was astounded as he saw the great quoit hurtle through the air.  But the earthborn men, like nimble hounds, leapt on one another and with loud yells began to slay,   Beneath each other’s spears they fell on their mother earth, as pines or oaks are blown down by a gale.  An now, like a bright meteor that leaps from the heaven and leaves a fiery trail behind it, portentous to all those who see it flash across the night, the son of Aeson hurled himself on them with his sword unsheathed and in promiscuous slaughter mowed them down, striking as he could, for many of them had but half emerged and showed their flanks and bellies only, some had their shoulders clear, some had just stood up, and others were afoot already and rushing into battle.  So might some farmer threatened by a frontier war snatch up a newly sharpened sickle and , lest the enemy should rep hi fields before him, hasten to cut down the unripe corn, not waiting for the season and the sun to ripen it.  Thus Jason cut his crop of earthborn men.  Blood filled the furrows as water fills the conduits of a spring.  And still the fell, some on their faces biting the rough clods, come on their backs, and others on their hands and sides, looing lice monsters from the sea.  Many were struck before they could lift up their feet, and rested there with the death-dew on their brows, each trailing on the earth so much of him as had come up into the light of day.  They lay like saplings in an orchard bowed to the ground when Zeus has sent torrential rain and snapped them at the root, wasting the gardeners’ toil and bringing heat break to the owner of the plot, the man who planted them.”  pp. 145-146

34. Fate of a Slave-girl “. . .  shedding many tears she went, much as a newly captured girl, torn from her own land by the fortune of war, makes off from some rich house before she is inured to work and schooled in the miseries of servitude under the cruel eye of  a mistress.” p. 148

35. Prophesy of the Moon “Rising from the distant east, the Lady Moon, Titanian goddess, was the girl wandering distraught, and  in wicked glee said to herself: ‘ So I am not the only one to go astray for love, I that burn for beautiful Engymion and seek I in the Latmian cave,  How many times, when I was bent on love, have you disgorged me with your incantations, making the night moonless so that you might practice your beloved witchcraft undisturbed!  And now you are as lovesick as me.  The little god of mischief has given you Jason, and many a heartache with him. Well, go your way; but clever as you are, steel yourself now to face a life of sighs and misery.’”  p.147

36. Jason’s Oath  “Then, to comfort her, he [Jason] said: “Dear Lady, I swear,  and may Olympian Zeus and his Consort Here, goddess of wedlock, be my witness, that when we are back in Hellas I will take you into my home as my own wedded wife.’  And with that he took her right hand in his own.”  p. 149

37. Medea’s Spell on the Snake “But the giant snake, enchanted by her song, was soon relaxing the whole length of his serrated spine and smoothing out his multitudinous undulations, like a dark and silent swell rolling across a sluggish sea.  Yet his grim head still hovered over them and the cruel jaws threatened to snap them up.  But Medea, chanting a spell, dipped a fresh sprig of juniper in her brew and sprinkled his eyes wither most potent drug; and as the all-pervading magic scent spread round his head, sleep felon him.”  p. 151

38. The Fleece Described “The young men marveled when the saw the mighty fleece, dazzling as the lightning of Zeus, and they all leapt up in their eagerness to touch it and hold it in their hands.” pp. 151-152 

39. Jason Cuts the Hawsers “. . . and Jason drawing his sword cut through the hawsers at the stern.”  p. 152

40. Temple Secrets “Medea had told them to land there and propitiate Hecate with a sacrifice.  But with what ritual she prepared the offering, no one must hear.  Nor must I let myself be tempted to describe it; my lips are sealed by awe.”  p. 153

41. A Look Back on History “Think of a time when the wheeling constellations did not yet exist; when on would have looked in vain for the sacred Danaan race, finding only the Apidanean Arcadians, who are said to have lived before the moon itself was there, feeding on acorns in the hills.  These were the days before the noble scions of Dencalion ruled the Pelasgian land, when Egypt, mother of an earlier race, was known as the corn-rich country of the Dawn, and the Nile that waters all its length was called the Triton, a generous river flowing through a rainless land, yet by its floods producing crops in plenty.  Now we are told that from this country a certain king set out, supported by a loyal force, and made his way through the whole of Europe and Asia, founding many cities as he went.” p. 154

42. Medea Reminds Jason of His Oath “Where are the honied promises that I believed in when I defied convention and my own conscience, abandoning my country, the glories of my home, even my parents, everything I valued most?  And now I am carried off, far away across the sea, with only the wistful halcyons for company.  All this because I saw you through your troubles, saw that you won your battle with the bulls and giants and came out alive.  And then the fleece, for which you crossed the sea.  You got it through my own folly.  I have disgraced my sex . . . I hope that Here, Queen of Heaven, whose favorite you claim to be, will never let you have it.  I hope that you will think of me some day when you yourself are suffering.  I hope the fleece will vanish like an idle dream, down into Erebus.  And my avenging Furies chase you from your home and so repay me for all I have endured through you inhumanity.  You have broken a most solemn oath.  It is not in reason that my curses should miscarry.  ‘You are inflexible.  But wait a while.  You and your friends think that this covenant has solved your problems, and I am nothing in your eyes.  You will learn better soon.’  She boiled with rage,  She longed to set the ship on fire, to break it up and hurl herself into the flames.  But Jason calmed her.  She had frightened him.”  p. 157

43.  Lying, Love, and Killing One’s Brother  “Such was the lure; and she reinforced her words with magic, scattering to the four winds spells of such potency as would have drawn wild creatures far away to come down from their mountain fastnesses.  Unconscionable Love, bane and tormentor of mankind, parent of strife, fountain of tears, source of a thousand ills, rise, mighty Power, and fall on the sons of our enemies with all the force you used upon Medea when you filled her with insensate fury. For Apsyrtus did obey her call and she destroyed him foully.” p. 159

44. Sacrifice of the Prince “Jason marked him down and struck him, as a butcher fells a mighty strong-horned bull.  The deed was done at the temple of Artemis, which Brygi from the mainland coast had built.  Apsyrtus sank to his knees in the porch and in his death throes cupped his hands over the wound to stanch the dark blood.  Even so, as Medea shrank aside, he painted red her silvery veil and dress.  With eyes askance the unforgiving and indomitable Fury took quick note of the heinous deed.  But Jason, after lopping off the dead man’s extremities, licked up some blood three times and three times spat the pollution out, as killers do in the attempt to expiate a treacherous murder.  The he hid the cold corpse in the earth.  And the bones still lie, among a people who have kept Aqsyrtus’s name alive.” p. 160

45. On Castor and Polydeuces  “ . . . owing their safety on this occasion to Castor and Polydeuces.  Which is why these sons of Zeus have eve since been honored with altars and sacred rites, though this was not the only voyage where they played the part of saviors.  Zeus put the ships of generations then unborn in the keeping of the Twins.”

46. Evolution “A number of creatures whose ill-assorted limbs declared them to be neither man nor beast had gathered round her like a great flock of sheep following their shepherd fro the fold.  Nondescript monsters such as these, fitted with miscellaneous limbs, were once produced spontaneously by Earth out of the primeval mud, when she had not yet solidified under a rainless sky and was deriving no moisture from the blazing sun.   But Time, combining this with that, brought the animal creation into order.”  p. 165

47. Thetis  “Now you will not have forgotten that I[Here] brought you up myself and loved you ore than any other Lady of the Sea because you rejected the amorous advances of my consort Zeus.  He, of course, has made a habit of such practices and sleeps with goddess and girls alike.  But you were frightened and out of your regard for me you would to let hi have his will.  In return for which he took a solemn oath that you should never be the bride of an immortal god. Yet in spite of your refusal he did not cease to keep his eye on you, till the day when the venerable Themis made him understand that you were destined to bear a son who would be greater than his father.  Then he heard this, Zeus gave you up though he still desired you.  He wished to keep his power for eve and was terrified at the thought that he might meet his match and be supplanted as the King of Heaven. Then, in the hope of making you a happy bride and mother, I chose Peleus, the noblest man alive to be your husband; I invited all the gods and goddesses to the wedding-feast; and I carried the bridal torch myself, in return for the good will and deference you had shown me.  And there is something else that I must tell you, a prophecy concerning your son Achilles, who is now with Cheiron the Centaur and is fed by water-nymphs though he should be at your breast.  When he comes to the Elysian Fields, it has been arranged that he shall marry Medea the daughter of Aeetes; so you, as her future mother-n-law, should be ready to help her now.  Help Peleus too.  Why are you still so angry with him?  He was very foolish; but even the gods are sometimes visited by Ate.”   pp. 168-169

48. Cronos and Uranus  “In the Ceraunian Sea, fronting the Ionian Straits, there is a rich and spacious island under the soil of which is said to lie (bear with me Muses; it gives me little pleasure to recall the old tale) the sickle used by Cronos to castrate his father Uranus.  Others al lit the reaping-hook of Demeter of the underworld, who lived there once and taught the Titans to reap corn for food, in her affection for Macris.  From this reaping-hook the island takes its name the Drepane, the sacred Nurse of the Phaeacians, who by the same token trace their origin to Uranus.”

49. On the Kings Justice “My lord, do not let the Colchians take her back to her father.  She was out of her mind when she gave that man the magic charm for the bulls.  Then, as w sinners often do, she tried to cover one fault with another by running away from her domineering father and his wrath.  But I hear that Jason has given her his solemn oath that he will take her into his home as his wedded wife. [King Alcinous wife Arete speaking] . . . Fathers are much too jealous where their daughters are concerned . . . Why, only recently and not so far from us, , the brutal Echetus drove brazen spikes into his daughter’s eyes, and now the miserable girl is wasting away in a gloomy cell, grinding grains of bronze.’  Alcinous was touched by his wife’s prayers.  ‘Arete,’ he said; I could certainly repel the Colchians by force of arms, siding with the young lords for Medea’s sake.  But I should think twice before defying a just sentence from Zeus.  Nor would it be wise to make little of Aeetes, as you would have me do.  There is no greater king; and far away as he is, he could bring war to Hellas if he wished.  No; it is my duty to give a decision that the whole world will acknowledge as the best.  I will tell you what I mean to do.  If Medea is still a virgin, I shall direct them to take her back to her father.  If she is a married woman, I will not separate her from her husband.  Nor will give a child of hers to the enemy if she has conceived.’  . .  .  When he [Orpheus] sang of the wedding, all the nymphs joined in the lovely marriage song; and then again, as they circled in the dance they sang alone, tendering their thanks to Here, who had put it in Arete’s mind to reveal the wise decision of the king . . . From the moment when he delivered judgment and it was know that the air were now man and wife, Alcinous remained inflexible.  He was shaken by no deadly fears, no dread of Aeetes’ enmity.  He had taken oaths that were not to be broken and he would not beak them.  So when the Colchians perceived that their protestations were in vain and were told that if they did not accept his ruling he would close his harbors to their ships, they recalled their own king’s threats and besought Alcinous to receive the as friends.”  pp.176-180 

50. Blown to Africa  “ . . . they had just sighted the land of Pelops when they were caught by a northerly gale which swept them south for nine days and nights over the Libyan Sea and drove them deep into Syrtis.”  p. 180

51. “Many heads are wiser than one.”  p. 183



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