The Argonautica - The Argonautica - ebook
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(ll. 1-4) Beginning with thee, O Phoebus, I will recount the famous deeds of men of old, who, at the behest of King Pelias, down through the mouth of Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks, sped well-benched Argo in quest of the golden fleece. (ll. 5-17) Such was the oracle that Pelias heard, that a hateful doom awaited him to be slain at the prompting of the man whom he should see coming forth from the people with but one sandal. And no long time after, in accordance with that true report, Jason crossed the stream of wintry Anaurus on foot, and saved one sandal from the mire, but the other he left in the depths held back by the flood. And straightway he came to Pelias to share the banquet which the king was offering to his father Poseidon and the rest of the gods, though he paid no honour to Pelasgian Hera. Quickly the king saw him and pondered, and devised for him the toil of a troublous voyage, in order that on the sea or among strangers he might lose his home-return.

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Table of contents

INTRODUCTION

BOOK I

BOOK II

BOOK III

BOOK IV

ENDNOTES

INTRODUCTION

Much has been written about the chronology of Alexandrian literature and the famous Library, founded by Ptolemy Soter, but the dates of the chief writers are still matters of conjecture. The birth of Apollonius Rhodius is placed by scholars at various times between 296 and 260 B.C., while the year of his death is equally uncertain. In fact, we have very little information on the subject. There are two "lives" of Apollonius in the Scholia, both derived from an earlier one which is lost. From these we learn that he was of Alexandria by birth, 1001 that he lived in the time of the Ptolemies, and was a pupil of Callimachus; that while still a youth he composed and recited in public his "Argonautica", and that the poem was condemned, in consequence of which he retired to Rhodes; that there he revised his poem, recited it with great applause, and hence called himself a Rhodian. The second "life" adds: "Some say that he returned to Alexandria and again recited his poem with the utmost success, so that he was honoured with the libraries of the Museum and was buried with Callimachus." The last sentence may be interpreted by the notice of Suidas, who informs us that Apollonius was a contemporary of Eratosthenes, Euphorion and Timarchus, in the time of Ptolemy Euergetes, and that he succeeded Eratosthenes in the headship of the Alexandrian Library. Suidas also informs us elsewhere that Aristophanes at the age of sixty-two succeeded Apollonius in this office. Many modern scholars deny the "bibliothecariate" of Apollonius for chronological reasons, and there is considerable difficulty about it. The date of Callimachus' "Hymn to Apollo", which closes with some lines (105-113) that are admittedly an allusion to Apollonius, may be put with much probability at 248 or 247 B.C. Apollonius must at that date have been at least twenty years old. Eratosthenes died 196-193 B.C. This would make Apollonius seventy-two to seventy-five when he succeeded Eratosthenes. This is not impossible, it is true, but it is difficult. But the difficulty is taken away if we assume with Ritschl that Eratosthenes resigned his office some years before his death, which allows us to put the birth of Apollonius at about 280, and would solve other difficulties. For instance, if the Librarians were buried within the precincts, it would account for the burial of Apollonius next to Callimachus—Eratosthenes being still alive. However that may be, it is rather arbitrary to take away the "bibliothecariate" of Apollonius, which is clearly asserted by Suidas, on account of chronological calculations which are themselves uncertain. Moreover, it is more probable that the words following "some say" in the second "life" are a remnant of the original life than a conjectural addition, because the first "life" is evidently incomplete, nothing being said about the end of Apollonius' career.The principal event in his life, so far as we know, was the quarrel with his master Callimachus, which was most probably the cause of his condemnation at Alexandria and departure to Rhodes. This quarrel appears to have arisen from differences of literary aims and taste, but, as literary differences often do, degenerated into the bitterest personal strife. There are references to the quarrel in the writings of both. Callimachus attacks Apollonius in the passage at the end of the "Hymn to Apollo", already mentioned, also probably in some epigrams, but most of all in his "Ibis", of which we have an imitation, or perhaps nearly a translation, in Ovid's poem of the same name. On the part of Apollonius there is a passage in the third book of the "Argonautica" (11. 927-947) which is of a polemical nature and stands out from the context, and the well-known savage epigram upon Callimachus. 1002 Various combinations have been attempted by scholars, notably by Couat, in his "Poesie Alexandrine", to give a connected account of the quarrel, but we have not data sufficient to determine the order of the attacks, and replies, and counter-attacks. The "Ibis" has been thought to mark the termination of the feud on the curious ground that it was impossible for abuse to go further. It was an age when literary men were more inclined to comment on writings of the past than to produce original work. Literature was engaged in taking stock of itself. Homer was, of course, professedly admired by all, but more admired than imitated. Epic poetry was out of fashion and we find many epigrams of this period—some by Callimachus—directed against the "cyclic" poets, by whom were meant at that time those who were always dragging in conventional and commonplace epithets and phrases peculiar to epic poetry. Callimachus was in accordance with the spirit of the age when he proclaimed "a great book" to be "a great evil", and sought to confine poetical activity within the narrowest limits both of subject and space. Theocritus agreed with him, both in principle and practice. The chief characteristics of Alexandrianism are well summarized by Professor Robinson Ellis as follows: "Precision in form and metre, refinement in diction, a learning often degenerating into pedantry and obscurity, a resolute avoidance of everything commonplace in subject, sentiment or allusion." These traits are more prominent in Callimachus than in Apollonius, but they are certainly to be seen in the latter. He seems to have written the "Argonautica" out of bravado, to show that he could write an epic poem. But the influence of the age was too strong. Instead of the unity of an Epic we have merely a series of episodes, and it is the great beauty and power of one of these episodes that gives the poem its permanent value—the episode of the love of Jason and Medea. This occupies the greater part of the third book. The first and second books are taken up with the history of the voyage to Colchis, while the fourth book describes the return voyage. These portions constitute a metrical guide book, filled no doubt with many pleasing episodes, such as the rape of Hylas, the boxing match between Pollux and Amyeus, the account of Cyzicus, the account of the Amazons, the legend of Talos, but there is no unity running through the poem beyond that of the voyage itself.The Tale of the Argonauts had been told often before in verse and prose, and many authors' names are given in the Scholia to Apollonius, but their works have perished. The best known earlier account that we have is that in Pindar's fourth Pythian ode, from which Apollonius has taken many details. The subject was one for an epic poem, for its unity might have been found in the working out of the expiation due for the crime of Athamas; but this motive is barely mentioned by our author.As we have it, the motive of the voyage is the command of Pelias to bring back the golden fleece, and this command is based on Pelias' desire to destroy Jason, while the divine aid given to Jason results from the intention of Hera to punish Pelias for his neglect of the honour due to her. The learning of Apollonius is not deep but it is curious; his general sentiments are not according to the Alexandrian standard, for they are simple and obvious. In the mass of material from which he had to choose the difficulty was to know what to omit, and much skill is shown in fusing into a tolerably harmonious whole conflicting mythological and historical details. He interweaves with his narrative local legends and the founding of cities, accounts of strange customs, descriptions of works of art, such as that of Ganymede and Eros playing with knucklebones, 1003 but prosaically calls himself back to the point from these pleasing digressions by such an expression as "but this would take me too far from my song." His business is the straightforward tale and nothing else. The astonishing geography of the fourth book reminds us of the interest of the age in that subject, stimulated no doubt by the researches of Eratosthenes and others.The language is that of the conventional epic. Apollonius seems to have carefully studied Homeric glosses, and gives many examples of isolated uses, but his choice of words is by no means limited to Homer. He freely avails himself of Alexandrian words and late uses of Homeric words. Among his contemporaries Apollonius suffers from a comparison with Theocritus, who was a little his senior, but he was much admired by Roman writers who derived inspiration from the great classical writers of Greece by way of Alexandria. In fact Alexandria was a useful bridge between Athens and Rome. The "Argonautica" was translated by Varro Atacinus, copied by Ovid and Virgil, and minutely studied by Valerius Flaccus in his poem of the same name. Some of his finest passages have been appropriated and improved upon by Virgil by the divine right of superior genius. 1004 The subject of love had been treated in the romantic spirit before the time of Apollonius in writings that have perished, for instance, in those of Antimachus of Colophon, but the "Argonautica" is perhaps the first poem still extant in which the expression of this spirit is developed with elaboration. The Medea of Apollonius is the direct precursor of the Dido of Virgil, and it is the pathos and passion of the fourth book of the "Aeneid" that keep alive many a passage of Apollonius.

BOOK I

(ll. 1-4) Beginning with thee, O Phoebus, I will recount the famous deeds of men of old, who, at the behest of King Pelias, down through the mouth of Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks, sped well-benched Argo in quest of the golden fleece.(ll. 5-17) Such was the oracle that Pelias heard, that a hateful doom awaited him to be slain at the prompting of the man whom he should see coming forth from the people with but one sandal. And no long time after, in accordance with that true report, Jason crossed the stream of wintry Anaurus on foot, and saved one sandal from the mire, but the other he left in the depths held back by the flood. And straightway he came to Pelias to share the banquet which the king was offering to his father Poseidon and the rest of the gods, though he paid no honour to Pelasgian Hera. Quickly the king saw him and pondered, and devised for him the toil of a troublous voyage, in order that on the sea or among strangers he might lose his home-return.(ll. 18-22) The ship, as former bards relate, Argus wrought by the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and the names of the heroes, and of the long sea-paths and the deeds they wrought in their wanderings; may the Muses be the inspirers of my song!(ll. 23-34) First then let us name Orpheus whom once Calliope bare, it is said, wedded to Thracian Oeagrus, near the Pimpleian height. Men say that he by the music of his songs charmed the stubborn rocks upon the mountains and the course of rivers. And the wild oak-trees to this day, tokens of that magic strain, that grow at Zone on the Thracian shore, stand in ordered ranks close together, the same which under the charm of his lyre he led down from Pieria. Such then was Orpheus whom Aeson's son welcomed to share his toils, in obedience to the behest of Cheiron, Orpheus ruler of Bistonian Pieria.(ll. 35-39) Straightway came Asterion, whom Cometes begat by the waters of eddying Apidanus; he dwelt at Peiresiae near the Phylleian mount, where mighty Apidanus and bright Enipeus join their streams, coming together from afar.(ll. 40-44) Next to them from Larisa came Polyphemus, son of Eilatus, who aforetime among the mighty Lapithae, when they were arming themselves against the Centaurs, fought in his younger days; now his limbs were grown heavy with age, but his martial spirit still remained, even as of old.(ll. 45-48) Nor was Iphiclus long left behind in Phylace, the uncle of Aeson's son; for Aeson had wedded his sister Alcimede, daughter of Phylacus: his kinship with her bade him be numbered in the host.(ll. 49-50) Nor did Admetus, the lord of Pherae rich in sheep, stay behind beneath the peak of the Chalcodonian mount.(ll. 51-56) Nor at Alope stayed the sons of Hermes, rich in corn-land, well skilled in craftiness, Erytus and Echion, and with them on their departure their kinsman Aethalides went as the third; him near the streams of Amphrysus Eupolemeia bare, the daughter of Myrmidon, from Phthia; the two others were sprung from Antianeira, daughter of Menetes.(ll. 57-64) From rich Gyrton came Coronus, son of Caeneus, brave, but not braver than his father. For bards relate that Caeneus though still living perished at the hands of the Centaurs, when apart from other chiefs he routed them; and they, rallying against him, could neither bend nor slay him; but unconquered and unflinching he passed beneath the earth, overwhelmed by the downrush of massy pines.(ll. 65-68) There came too Titaresian Mopsus, whom above all men the son of Leto taught the augury of birds; and Eurydamas the son of Ctimenus; he dwelt at Dolopian Ctimene near the Xynian lake.(ll. 69-70) Moreover Actor sent his son Menoetius from Opus that he might accompany the chiefs.(ll. 71-76) Eurytion followed and strong Eribotes, one the son of Teleon, the other of Irus, Actor's son; the son of Teleon renowned Eribotes, and of Irus Eurytion. A third with them was Oileus, peerless in courage and well skilled to attack the flying foe, when they break their ranks.(ll. 77-85) Now from Euboea came Canthus eager for the quest, whom Canethus son of Abas sent; but he was not destined to return to Cerinthus. For fate had ordained that he and Mopsus, skilled in the seer's art, should wander and perish in the furthest ends of Libya. For no ill is too remote for mortals to incur, seeing that they buried them in Libya, as far from the Colchians as is the space that is seen between the setting and the rising of the sun.(ll. 86-89) To him Clytius and Iphitus joined themselves, the warders of Oechalia, sons of Eurytus the ruthless, Eurytus, to whom the Far-shooting god gave his bow; but he had no joy of the gift; for of his own choice he strove even with the giver.(ll. 90-94) After them came the sons of Aeacus, not both together, nor from the same spot; for they settled far from Aegina in exile, when in their folly they had slain their brother Phoeus. Telamon dwelt in the Attic island; but Peleus departed and made his home in Phthia.(ll. 95-104) After them from Cecropia came warlike Butes, son of brave Teleon, and Phalerus of the ashen spear. Alcon his father sent him forth; yet no other sons had he to care for his old age and livelihood. But him, his well-beloved and only son, he sent forth that amid bold heroes he might shine conspicuous. But Theseus, who surpassed all the sons of Erechtheus, an unseen bond kept beneath the land of Taenarus, for he had followed that path with Peirithous; assuredly both would have lightened for all the fulfilment of their toil.(ll. 105-114) Tiphys, son of Hagnias, left the Siphaean people of the Thespians, well skilled to foretell the rising wave on the broad sea, and well skilled to infer from sun and star the stormy winds and the time for sailing. Tritonian Athena herself urged him to join the band of chiefs, and he came among them a welcome comrade. She herself too fashioned the swift ship; and with her Argus, son of Arestor, wrought it by her counsels. Wherefore it proved the most excellent of all ships that have made trial of the sea with oars.(ll. 115-117) After them came Phlias from Araethyrea, where he dwelt in affluence by the favour of his father Dionysus, in his home by the springs of Asopus.(ll. 118-121) From Argos came Talaus and Areius, sons of Bias, and mighty Leodocus, all of whom Pero daughter of Neleus bare; on her account the Aeolid Melampus endured sore affliction in the steading of Iphiclus.(ll. 122-132) Nor do we learn that Heracles of the mighty heart disregarded the eager summons of Aeson's son. But when he heard a report of the heroes' gathering and had reached Lyrceian Argos from Arcadia by the road along which he carried the boar alive that fed in the thickets of Lampeia, near the vast Erymanthian swamp, the boar bound with chains he put down from his huge shoulders at the entrance to the market-place of Mycenae; and himself of his own will set out against the purpose of Eurystheus; and with him went Hylas, a brave comrade, in the flower of youth, to bear his arrows and to guard his bow.(ll. 133-138) Next to him came a scion of the race of divine Danaus, Nauplius. He was the son of Clytonaeus son of Naubolus; Naubolus was son of Lernus; Lernus we know was the son of Proetus son of Nauplius; and once Amymone daughter of Danaus, wedded to Poseidon, bare Nauplius, who surpassed all men in naval skill.(ll. 139-145) Idmon came last of all them that dwelt at Argos, for though he had learnt his own fate by augury, he came, that the people might not grudge him fair renown. He was not in truth the son of Abas, but Leto's son himself begat him to be numbered among the illustrious Aeolids; and himself taught him the art of prophecy—to pay heed to birds and to observe the signs of the burning sacrifice.(ll. 146-150) Moreover Aetolian Leda sent from Sparta strong Polydeuces and Castor, skilled to guide swift-footed steeds; these her dearly-loved sons she bare at one birth in the house of Tyndareus; nor did she forbid their departure; for she had thoughts worthy of the bride of Zeus.(ll. 151-155) The sons of Aphareus, Lynceus and proud Idas, came from Arene, both exulting in their great strength; and Lynceus too excelled in keenest sight, if the report is true that that hero could easily direct his sight even beneath the earth.(ll. 156-160) And with them Neleian Periclymenus set out to come, eldest of all the sons of godlike Neleus who were born at Pylos; Poseidon had given him boundless strength and granted him that whatever shape he should crave during the fight, that he should take in the stress of battle.(ll. 161-171) Moreover from Arcadia came Amphidamas and Cepheus, who inhabited Tegea and the allotment of Apheidas, two sons of Aldus; and Ancaeus followed them as the third, whom his father Lycurgus sent, the brother older than both. But he was left in the city to care for Aleus now growing old, while he gave his son to join his brothers. Antaeus went clad in the skin of a Maenalian bear, and wielding in his right hand a huge two-edged battleaxe. For his armour his grandsire had hidden in the house's innermost recess, to see if he might by some means still stay his departure.(ll. 172-175) There came also Augeias, whom fame declared to be the son of Helios; he reigned over the Eleans, glorying in his wealth; and greatly he desired to behold the Colchian land and Aeetes himself the ruler of the Colchians.(ll. 176-178) Asterius and Amphion, sons of Hyperasius, came from Achaean Pellene, which once Pelles their grandsire founded on the brows of Aegialus.(ll. 179-184) After them from Taenarus came Euphemus whom, most swift-footed of men, Europe, daughter of mighty Tityos, bare to Poseidon. He was wont to skim the swell of the grey sea, and wetted not his swift feet, but just dipping the tips of his toes was borne on the watery path.(ll. 185-189) Yea, and two other sons of Poseidon came; one Erginus, who left the citadel of glorious Miletus, the other proud Ancaeus, who left Parthenia, the seat of Imbrasion Hera; both boasted their skill in seacraft and in war.(ll. 190-201) After them from Calydon came the son of Oeneus, strong Meleagrus, and Laocoon—Laocoon the brother of Oeneus, though not by the same mother, for a serving-woman bare him; him, now growing old, Oeneus sent to guard his son: thus Meleagrus, still a youth, entered the bold band of heroes. No other had come superior to him, I ween, except Heracles, if for one year more he had tarried and been nurtured among the Aetolians. Yea, and his uncle, well skilled to fight whether with the javelin or hand to hand, Iphiclus son of Thestius, bare him company on his way.(ll. 202-206) With him came Palaemonius, son of Olenian Lernus, of Lernus by repute, but his birth was from Hephaestus; and so he was crippled in his feet, but his bodily frame and his valour no one would dare to scorn. Wherefore he was numbered among all the chiefs, winning fame for Jason.(ll. 207-210) From the Phocians came Iphitus sprung from Naubolus son of Ornytus; once he had been his host when Jason went to Pytho to ask for a response concerning his voyage; for there he welcomed him in his own hails.(ll. 211-223) Next came Zetes and Calais, sons of Boreas, whom once Oreithyia, daughter of Erechtheus, bare to Boreas on the verge of wintry Thrace; thither it was that Thracian Boreas snatched her away from Cecropia as she was whirling in the dance, hard by Hissus' stream. And, carrying her far off, to the spot that men called the rock of Sarpedon, near the river Erginus, he wrapped her in dark clouds and forced her to his will. There they were making their dusky wings quiver upon their ankles on both sides as they rose, a great wonder to behold, wings that gleamed with golden scales: and round their backs from the top of the head and neck, hither and thither, their dark tresses were being shaken by the wind.(ll. 224-227) No, nor had Acastus son of mighty Pelias himself any will to stay behind in the palace of his brave sire, nor Argus, helper of the goddess Athena; but they too were ready to be numbered in the host.(ll. 228-233) So many then were the helpers who assembled to join the son of Aeson. All the chiefs the dwellers thereabout called Minyae, for the most and the bravest avowed that they were sprung from the blood of the daughters of Minyas; thus Jason himself was the son of Alcimede who was born of Clymene the daughter of Minyas.(ll. 234-241) Now when all things had been made ready by the thralls, all things that fully-equipped ships are furnished withal when men's business leads them to voyage across the sea, then the heroes took their way through the city to the ship where it lay on the strand that men call Magnesian Pagasae; and a crowd of people hastening rushed together; but the heroes shone like gleaming stars among the clouds; and each man as he saw them speeding along with their armour would say:(ll. 242-246) "King Zeus, what is the purpose of Pelias? Whither is he driving forth from the Panachaean land so great a host of heroes? On one day they would waste the palace of Aeetes with baleful fire, should he not yield them the fleece of his own goodwill. But the path is not to be shunned, the toil is hard for those who venture."(ll. 247-250) Thus they spake here and there throughout the city; but the women often raised their hands to the sky in prayer to the immortals to grant a return, their hearts' desire. And one with tears thus lamented to her fellow:(ll. 251-260) "Wretched Alcimede, evil has come to thee at last though late, thou hast not ended with splendour of life. Aeson too, ill-fated man! Surely better had it been for him, if he were lying beneath the earth, enveloped in his shroud, still unconscious of bitter toils. Would that the dark wave, when the maiden Helle perished, had overwhelmed Phrixus too with the ram; but the dire portent even sent forth a human voice, that it might cause to Alcimede sorrows and countless pains hereafter."(ll. 261-277) Thus the women spake at the departure of the heroes. And now many thralls, men and women, were gathered together, and his mother, smitten with grief for Jason. And a bitter pang seized every woman's heart; and with them groaned the father in baleful old age, lying on his bed, closely wrapped round. But the hero straightway soothed their pain, encouraging them, and bade the thralls take up his weapons for war; and they in silence with downcast looks took them up. And even as the mother had thrown her arms about her son, so she clung, weeping without stint, as a maiden all alone weeps, falling fondly on the neck of her hoary nurse, a maid who has now no others to care for her, but she drags on a weary life under a stepmother, who maltreats her continually with ever fresh insults, and as she weeps, her heart within her is bound fast with misery, nor can she sob forth all the groans that struggle for utterance; so without stint wept Alcimede straining her son in her arms, and in her yearning grief spake as follows:(ll. 278-291) "Would that on that day when, wretched woman that I am, I heard King Pelias proclaim his evil behest, I had straightway given up my life and forgotten my cares, so that thou thyself, my son, with thine own hands, mightest have buried me; for that was the only wish left me still to be fulfilled by time, all the other rewards for thy nurture have I long enjoyed. Now I, once so admired among Achaean women, shall be left behind like a bondwoman in my empty halls, pining away, ill-fated one, for love of thee, thee on whose account I had aforetime so much splendour and renown, my only son for whom I loosed my virgin zone first and last. For to me beyond others the goddess Eileithyia grudged abundant offspring. Alas for my folly! Not once, not even in nay dreams did I forebode this, that the flight of Phrixus would bring me woe."(ll. 292-294) Thus with moaning she wept, and her handmaidens, standing by, lamented; but Jason spake gently to her with comforting words:(ll. 295-305) "Do not, I pray thee, mother, store up bitter sorrows overmuch, for thou wilt not redeem me from evil by tears, but wilt still add grief to grief. For unseen are the woes that the gods mete out to mortals; be strong to endure thy share of them though with grief in thy heart; take courage from the promises of Athena, and from the answers of the gods (for very favourable oracles has Phoebus given), and then from the help of the chieftains. But do thou remain here, quiet among thy handmaids, and be not a bird of ill omen to the ship; and thither my clansmen and thralls will follow me."(ll. 306-316) He spake, and started forth to leave the house. And as Apollo goes forth from some fragrant shrine to divine Delos or Claros or Pytho or to broad Lyeia near the stream of Xanthus, in such beauty moved Jason through the throng of people; and a cry arose as they shouted together. And there met him aged Iphias, priestess of Artemis guardian of the city, and kissed his right hand, but she had not strength to say a word, for all her eagerness, as the crowd rushed on, but she was left there by the wayside, as the old are left by the young, and he passed on and was gone afar.(ll. 317-331) Now when he had left the well-built streets of the city, he came to the beach of Pagasae, where his comrades greeted him as they stayed together near the ship Argo. And he stood at the entering in, and they were gathered to meet him. And they perceived Aeastus and Argus coming from the city, and they marvelled when they saw them hasting with all speed, despite the will of Pelias. The one, Argus, son of Arestor, had cast round his shoulders the hide of a bull reaching to his feet, with the black hair upon it, the other, a fair mantle of double fold, which his sister Pelopeia had given him. Still Jason forebore from asking them about each point but bade all be seated for an assembly. And there, upon the folded sails and the mast as it lay on the ground, they all took their seats in order. And among them with goodwill spake Aeson's son:(ll. 332-340) "All the equipment that a ship needs for all is in due order—lies ready for our departure. Therefore we will make no long delay in our sailing for these things' sake, when the breezes but blow fair. But, friends,—for common to all is our return to Hellas hereafter, and common to all is our path to the land of Aeetes—now therefore with ungrudging heart choose the bravest to be our leader, who shall be careful for everything, to take upon him our quarrels and covenants with strangers."(ll. 341-344) Thus he spake; and the young heroes turned their eyes towards bold Heracles sitting in their midst, and with one shout they all enjoined upon him to be their leader; but he, from the place where he sat, stretched forth his right hand and said:(ll. 345-347) "Let no one offer this honour to me. For I will not consent, and I will forbid any other to stand up. Let the hero who brought us together, himself be the leader of the host."(ll. 348-350) Thus he spake with high thoughts, and they assented, as Heracles bade; and warlike Jason himself rose up, glad at heart, and thus addressed the eager throng:(ll. 351-362) "If ye entrust your glory to my care, no longer as before let our path be hindered. Now at last let us propitiate Phoebus with sacrifice and straightway prepare a feast. And until my thralls come, the overseers of my steading, whose care it is to choose out oxen from the herd and drive them hither, we will drag down the ship to the sea, and do ye place all the tackling within, and draw lots for the benches for rowing. Meantime let us build upon the beach an altar to Apollo Embasius 1101 who by an oracle promised to point out and show me the paths of the sea, if by sacrifice to him I should begin my venture for King Pelias."(ll. 363-393) He spake, and was the first to turn to the work, and they stood up in obedience to him; and they heaped their garments, one upon the other, on a smooth stone, which the sea did not strike with its waves, but the stormy surge had cleansed it long before. First of all, by the command of Argus, they strongly girded the ship with a rope well twisted within, 1102 stretching it tight on each side, in order that the planks might be well compacted by the bolts and might withstand the opposing force of the surge. And they quickly dug a trench as wide as the space the ship covered, and at the prow as far into the sea as it would run when drawn down by their hands. And they ever dug deeper in front of the stem, and in the furrow laid polished rollers; and inclined the ship down upon the first rollers, that so she might glide and be borne on by them. And above, on both sides, reversing the oars, they fastened them round the thole-pins, so as to project a cubit's space. And the heroes themselves stood on both sides at the oars in a row, and pushed forward with chest and hand at once. And then Tiphys leapt on board to urge the youths to push at the right moment; and calling on them he shouted loudly; and they at once, leaning with all their strength, with one push started the ship from her place, and strained with their feet, forcing her onward; and Pelian Argo followed swiftly; and they on each side shouted as they rushed on. And then the rollers groaned under the sturdy keel as they were chafed, and round them rose up a dark smoke owing to the weight, and she glided into the sea; but the heroes stood there and kept dragging her back as she sped onward. And round the thole-pins they fitted the oars, and in the ship they placed the mast and the well-made sails and the stores.(ll. 394-401) Now when they had carefully paid heed to everything, first they distributed the benches by lot, two men occupying one seat; but the middle bench they chose for Heracles and Ancaeus apart from the other heroes, Ancaeus who dwelt in Tegea. For them alone they left the middle bench just as it was and not by lot; and with one consent they entrusted Tiphys with guarding the helm of the well-stemmed ship.(ll. 402-410) Next, piling up shingle near the sea, they raised there an altar on the shore to Apollo, under the name of Actius 1103 and Embasius, and quickly spread above it logs of dried olive-wood. Meantime the herdsmen of Aeson's son had driven before them from the herd two steers. These the younger comrades dragged near the altars, and the others brought lustral water and barley meal, and Jason prayed, calling on Apollo the god of his fathers:(ll. 411-424) "Hear, O King, that dwellest in Pagasae and the city Aesonis, the city called by my father's name, thou who didst promise me, when I sought thy oracle at Pytho, to show the fulfilment and goal of my journey, for thou thyself hast been the cause of my venture; now do thou thyself guide the ship with my comrades safe and sound, thither and back again to Hellas. Then in thy honour hereafter we will lay again on thy altar the bright offerings of bulls—all of us who return; and other gifts in countless numbers I will bring to Pytho and Ortygia. And now, come, Far-darter, accept this sacrifice at our hands, which first of all we have offered thee for this ship on our embarcation; and grant, O King, that with a prosperous wind I may loose the hawsers, relying on thy counsel, and may the breeze blow softly with which we shall sail over the sea in fair weather."(ll. 425-439) He spake, and with his prayer cast the barley meal. And they two girded themselves to slay the steers, proud Ancaeus and Heracles. The latter with his club smote one steer mid-head on the brow, and falling in a heap on the spot, it sank to the ground; and Ancaeus struck the broad neck of the other with his axe of bronze, and shore through the mighty sinews; and it fell prone on both its horns. Their comrades quickly severed the victims' throats, and flayed the hides: they sundered the joints and carved the flesh, then cut out the sacred thigh bones, and covering them all together closely with fat burnt them upon cloven wood. And Aeson's son poured out pure libations, and Idmon rejoiced beholding the flame as it gleamed on every side from the sacrifice, and the smoke of it mounting up with good omen in dark spiral columns; and quickly he spake outright the will of Leto's son:(ll. 440-447) "For you it is the will of heaven and destiny that ye shall return here with the fleece; but meanwhile both going and returning, countless trials await you. But it is my lot, by the hateful decree of a god, to die somewhere afar off on the mainland of Asia. Thus, though I learnt my fate from evil omens even before now, I have left my fatherland to embark on the ship, that so after my embarking fair fame may be left me in my house."(ll. 448-462) Thus he spake; and the youths hearing the divine utterance rejoiced at their return, but grief seized them for the fate of Idmon. Now at the hour when the sun passes his noon-tide halt and the ploughlands are just being shadowed by the rocks, as the sun slopes towards the evening dusk, at that hour all the heroes spread leaves thickly upon the sand and lay down in rows in front of the hoary surf-line; and near them were spread vast stores of viands and sweet wine, which the cupbearers had drawn off in pitchers; afterwards they told tales one to another in turn, such as youths often tell when at the feast and the bowl they take delightful pastime, and insatiable insolence is far away. But here the son of Aeson, all helpless, was brooding over each event in his mind, like one oppressed with thought. And Idas noted him and assailed him with loud voice: