Invocation of Phoebus and cause of the expedition (1–22). — Catalogue of the Argonauts (23–233). — March of the heroes to the port: farewell of Jason and Alcimede (234–305). — Preparations for departure and launching of Argo: sacrifice to Apollo: prediction of Idmon (306–447). — The festival, insolence of Idas, song of Orpheus and departure (448–558). — Voyage along the coast of Thessaly and across to Lemnos (559–608). — Recent history of Lemnos and stay of the Argonauts there: farewell of Jason and Hypsipyle (609–909). — Voyage from Lemnos by Samothrace to the Propontis: reception by the Doliones of Cyzicus (910–988). — Fight against the Giants: departure and return of the Argonauts to Cyzicus: sacrifice to Rhea on Mt. Dindymum (989–1152). — Arrival among the Mysians: rape of Hylas, which is announced to Heracles (1153–1260). — While Heracles and Polyphemus search for Hylas they are left behind (1261–1328). — The fate of Heracles and Polyphemus: arrival of Argo among the Bebrycians (1329–1362).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nor did Admetus, the lord of Pherae rich in sheep, stay behind beneath the peak of the Chalcodonian mount.
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.
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.
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.
Moreover Actor sent his son Menoetius from Opus that he might accompany the chiefs.
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.
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.
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.
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 Phocus. Telamon dwelt in the Attic island; but Peleus departed and made his home in Phthia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 readied 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.
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.
Idmon came last of all them that dwelt at Argos, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Moreover from Arcadia came Amphidamas and Cepheus, who inhabited Tegea and the allotment of Apheidas, two sons of Aleus; 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. Ancaeus 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.
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.
Asterius and Amphion, sons of Hyperasius, came from Achaean Pellene, which once Pelles their grandsire founded on the brows of Aegialus.
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.
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 sea-craft and in war.
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.
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.
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 halls.
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 Ilissus’ 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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.”
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:
“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.”
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:
“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 thee, 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 my dreams did I forebode this, that the flight of Phrixus would bring me woe.”
Thus with moaning she wept, and her handmaidens, standing by, lamented; but Jason spake gently to her with comforting words:
“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.”
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 Lycia 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.
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 Acastus 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:
“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.”
Thus he spake; and the young heroes turned their eves 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:
“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.”
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:
“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 Embasius6 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.”
6 i.e. God of embarcation.
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,7 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.
7 Or, reading [Greek: ektothen], “they strongly girded the ship outside with a well-twisted rope.” In either case there is probably no allusion to [Greek: hupozômata] (ropes for undergirding) which-were carried loose and only used in stormy weather.
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.
Next, piling up shingle near the sea, they raised there an altar on the shore to Apollo, under the name of Actius8 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:
8 i.e. God of the shore.
“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 weird 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.”
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:
“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.”
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:
“Son of Aeson, what is this plan thou art turning over in mind. Speak out thy thought in the midst. Does fear come on and master thee, fear, that confounds cowards? Be witness now my impetuous spear, wherewith in wars I win renown beyond all others (nor does Zeus aid me so much as my own spear), that no woe will be fatal, no venture will be unachieved, while Idas follows, even though a god should oppose thee. Such a helpmeet am I that thou bringest from Arene.”
He spake, and holding a brimming goblet in both hands drank off the unmixed sweet wine; and his lips and dark cheeks were drenched with it; and all the heroes clamoured together and Idmon spoke out openly:
“Vain wretch, thou art devising destruction for thyself before the time. Does the pure wine cause thy bold heart to swell in thy breast to thy ruin, and has it set thee on to dishonour the gods? Other words of comfort there are with which a man might encourage his comrade; but thou hast spoken with utter recklessness. Such taunts, the tale goes, did the sons of Aloeus once blurt out against the blessed gods, and thou dost no wise equal them in valour; nevertheless they were both slain by the swift arrows of Leto’s son, mighty though they were.”
Thus he spake, and Aphareian Idas laughed out, loud and long, and eyeing him askance replied with biting words:
“Come now, tell me this by thy prophetic art, whether for me too the gods will bring to pass such doom as thy father promised for the sons of Aloeus. And bethink thee how thou wilt escape from my hands alive, if thou art caught making a prophecy vain as the idle wind.”
Thus in wrath Idas reviled him, and the strife would have gone further had not their comrades and Aeson’s son himself with indignant cry restrained the contending chiefs; and Orpheus lifted his lyre in his left hand and made essay to sing.
He sang how the earth, the heaven and the sea, once mingled together in one form, after deadly strife were separated each from other; and how the stars and the moon and the paths of the sun ever keep their fixed place in the sky; and how the mountains rose, and how the resounding rivers with their nymphs came into being and all creeping things. And he sang how first of all Ophion and Eurynome, daughter of Ocean, held the sway of snowy Olympus, and how through strength of arm one yielded his prerogative to Cronos and the other to Rhea, and how they fell into the waves of Ocean; but the other two meanwhile ruled over the blessed Titan-gods, while Zeus, still a child and with the thoughts of a child, dwelt in the Dictaean cave; and the earthborn Cyclopes had not yet armed him with the bolt, with thunder and lightning; for these things give renown to Zeus.
He ended, and stayed his lyre and divine voice. But though he had ceased they still bent forward with eagerness all hushed to quiet, with ears intent on the enchanting strain; such a charm of song had he left behind in their hearts. Not long after they mixed libations in honour of Zeus, with pious rites as is customary, and poured them upon the burning tongues, and bethought them of sleep in the darkness.
Now when gleaming dawn with bright eyes beheld the lofty peaks of Pelion, and the calm headlands were being drenched as the sea was ruffled by the winds, then Tiphys awoke from sleep; and at once he roused his comrades to go on board and make ready the oars. And a strange cry did the harbour of Pagasae utter, yea and Pelian Argo herself, urging them to set forth. For in her a beam divine had been laid which Athena had brought from an oak of Dodona and fitted in the middle of the stem. And the heroes went to the benches one after the other, as they had previously assigned for each to row in his place, and took their seats in due order near their fighting gear. In the middle sat Ancaeus and mighty Heracles, and near him he laid his club, and beneath his tread the ship’s keel sank deep. And now the hawsers were being slipped and they poured wine on the sea. But Jason with tears held his eyes away from his fatherland. And just as youths set up a dance in honour of Phoebus either in Pytho or haply in Ortygia, or by the waters of Ismenus, and to the sound of the lyre round his altar all together in time beat the earth with swiftly-moving feet; so they to the sound of Orpheus’ lyre smote with their oars the rushing sea-water, and the surge broke over the blades; and on this side and on that the dark brine seethed with foam, boiling terribly through the might of the sturdy heroes. And their arms shone in the sun like flame as the ship sped on; and ever their wake gleamed white far behind, like a path seen over a green plain. On that day all the gods looked down from heaven upon the ship and the might of the heroes, half-divine, the bravest of men then sailing the sea; and on the topmost heights the nymphs of Pelion wondered as they beheld the work of Itonian Athena, and the heroes themselves wielding the oars. And there came down from the mountain-top to the sea Chiron, son of Philyra, and where the white surf broke he dipped his feet, and, often waving with his broad hand, cried out to them at their departure, “Good speed and a sorrowless home-return!” And with him his wife, bearing Peleus’ son Achilles on her arm, showed the child to his dear father.
Now when they had left the curving shore of the harbour through the cunning and counsel of prudent Tiphys son of Hagnias, who skilfully handled the well-polished helm that he might guide them steadfastly, then at length they set up the tall mast in the mast-box, and secured it with forestays, drawing them taut on each side, and from it they let down the sail when they had hauled it to the top-mast. And a breeze came down piping shrilly; and upon the deck they fastened the ropes separately round the well-polished pins, and ran quietly past the long Tisaean headland. And for them the son of Oeagrus touched his lyre and sang in rhythmical song of Artemis, saviour of ships, child of a glorious sire, who hath in her keeping those peaks by the sea, and the land of Iolcos; and the fishes came darting through the deep sea, great mixed with small, and followed gambolling along the watery paths. And as when in the track of the shepherd, their master, countless sheep follow to the fold that have fed to the full of grass, and he goes before gaily piping a shepherd’s strain on his shrill reed; so these fishes followed; and a chasing breeze ever bore the ship onward.
And straightway the misty land of the Pelasgians, rich in cornfields, sank out of sight, and ever speeding onward they passed the rugged sides of Pelion; and the Sepian headland sank away, and Sciathus appeared in the sea, and far off appeared Piresiae and the calm shore of Magnesia on the mainland and the tomb of Dolops; here then in the evening, as the wind blew against them, they put to land, and paying honour to him at nightfall burnt sheep as victims, while the sea was tossed by the swell: and for two days they lingered on the shore, but on the third day they put forth the ship, spreading on high the broad sail. And even now men call that beach Aphetae9 of Argo.
9 i.e. The Starting.
Thence going forward they ran past Meliboea, escaping a stormy beach and surf-line. And in the morning they saw Homole close at hand leaning on the sea, and skirted it, and not long after they were about to pass by the outfall of the river Amyrus. From there they beheld Eurymenae and the sea-washed ravines of Ossa and Olympus; next they reached the slopes of Pallene, beyond the headland of Canastra, running all night with the wind. And at dawn before them as they journeyed rose Athos, the Thracian mountain, which with its topmost peak overshadows Lemnos, even as far as Myrine, though it lies as far off as the space that a well-trimmed merchantship would traverse up to mid-day. For them on that day, till darkness fell, the breeze blew exceedingly fresh, and the sails of the ship strained to it. But with the setting of the sun the wind left them, and it was by the oars that they reached Lemnos, the Sintian isle.
Here the whole of the men of the people together had been ruthlessly slain through the transgressions of the women in the year gone by. For the men had rejected their lawful wives, loathing them, and had conceived a fierce passion for captive maids whom they themselves brought across the sea from their forays in Thrace; for the terrible wrath of Cypris came upon them, because for a long time they had grudged her the honours due. O hapless women, and insatiate in jealousy to their own ruin! Not their husbands alone with the captives did they slay on account of the marriage-bed, but all the males at the same time, that they might thereafter pay no retribution for the grim murder. And of all the women, Hypsipyle alone spared her aged father Thoas, who was king over the people; and she sent him in a hollow chest to drift over the sea, if haply he should escape. And fishermen dragged him to shore at the island of Oenoe, formerly Oenoe, but afterwards called Sicinus from Sicinus, whom the water-nymph Oenoe bore to Thoas. Now for all the women to tend kine, to don armour of bronze, and to cleave with the plough-share the wheat-bearing fields, was easier than the works of Athena, with which they were busied aforetime. Yet for all that did they often gaze over the broad sea, in grievous fear against the Thracians’ coming. So when they saw Argo being rowed near the island, straightway crowding in multitude from the gates of Myrine and clad in their harness of war, they poured forth to the beach like ravening Thyiades; for they deemed that the Thracians were come; and with them Hypsipyle, daughter of Thoas, donned her father’s harness. And they streamed down speechless with dismay; such fear was wafted about them.
Meantime from the ship the chiefs had sent Aethalides the swift herald, to whose care they entrusted their messages and the wand of Hermes, his sire, who had granted him a memory of all things, that never grew dim; and not even now, though he has entered the unspeakable whirlpools of Acheron, has forgetfulness swept over his soul, but its fixed doom is to be ever changing its abode; at one time to be numbered among the dwellers beneath the earth, at another to be in the light of the sun among living men. But why need I tell at length tales of Aethalides? He at that time persuaded Hypsipyle to receive the new-comers as the day was waning into darkness; nor yet at dawn did they loose the ship’s hawsers to the breath of the north wind.
Now the Lemnian women fared through the city and sat down to the assembly, for Hypsipyle herself had so bidden. And when they were all gathered together in one great throng straightway she spake among them with stirring words:
“O friends, come let us grant these men gifts to their hearts’ desire, such as it is fitting that they should take on ship-board, food and sweet wine, in order that they may steadfastly remain outside our towers, and may not, passing among us for need’s sake, get to know us all too well, and so an evil report be widely spread; for we have wrought a terrible deed and in nowise will it be to their liking, should they learn it. Such is our counsel now, but if any of you can devise a better plan let her rise, for it was on this account that I summoned you hither.”
Thus she spake and sat upon her father’s seat of stone, and then rose up her dear nurse Polyxo, for very age halting upon her withered feet, bowed over a staff, and she was eager to address them. Near her were seated four virgins, unwedded, crowned with white hair. And she stood in the midst of the assembly and from her bent back she feebly raised her neck and spake thus:
“Gifts, as Hypsipyle herself wishes, let us send to the strangers, for it is better to give them. But for you what device have ye to get profit of your life if the Thracian host fall upon us, or some other foe, as often happens among men, even as now this company is come unforeseen? But if one of the blessed gods should turn this aside yet countless other woes worse than battle, remain behind, when the aged women die off and ye younger ones, without children, reach hateful old age. How then will ye live, hapless ones? Will your oxen of their own accord yoke themselves for the deep ploughlands and draw the earth-cleaving share through the fallow, and forthwith, as the year comes round, reap the harvest? Assuredly, though the fates till now have shunned me in horror, I deem that in the coming year I shall put on the garment of earth, when I have received my meed of burial even so as is right, before the evil days draw near. But I bid you who are younger give good heed to this. For now at your feet a way of escape lies open, if ye trust to the strangers the care of your homes and all your stock and your glorious city.”
Thus she spake, and the assembly was filled with clamour. For the word pleased them. And after her straightway Hypsipyle rose up again, and thus spake in reply.
“If this purpose please you all, now will I even send a messenger to the ship.”
She spake and addressed Iphinoe close at hand: “Go, Iphinoe, and beg yonder man, whoever it is that leads this array, to come to our land that I may tell him a word that pleases the heart of my people, and bid the men themselves, if they wish, boldly enter the land and the city with friendly intent.”
She spake, and dismissed the assembly, and thereafter started to return home. And so Iphinoe came to the Minyae; and they asked with what intent she had come among them. And quickly she addressed her questioners with all speed in these words:
“The maiden Hypsipyle daughter of Thoas, sent me on my way here to you, to summon the captain of your ship, whoever he be, that she may tell him a word that pleases the heart of the people, and she bids yourselves, if ye wish it, straightway enter the land and the city with friendly intent.”
Thus she spake and the speech of good omen pleased all. And they deemed that Thoas was dead and that his beloved daughter Hypsipyle was queen, and quickly they sent Jason on his way and themselves made ready to go.
Now he had buckled round his shoulders a purple mantle of double fold, the work of the Tritonian goddess, which Pallas had given him when she first laid the keel-props of the ship Argo and taught him how to measure timbers with the rule. More easily wouldst thou cast thy eyes upon the sun at its rising than behold that blazing splendour. For indeed in the middle the fashion thereof was red, but at the ends it was all purple, and on each margin many separate devices had been skilfully inwoven.
In it were the Cyclops seated at their imperishable work, forging a thunderbolt for King Zeus; by now it was almost finished in its brightness and still it wanted but one ray, which they were beating out with their iron hammers as it spurted forth a breath of raging flame.
In it too were the twin sons of Antiope, daughter of Asopus, Amphion and Zethus, and Thebe still ungirt with towers was lying near, whose foundations they were just then laying in eager haste. Zethus on his shoulders was lifting the peak of a steep mountain, like a man toiling hard, and Amphion after him, singing loud and clear on his golden lyre, moved on, and a rock twice as large followed his footsteps.
Next in order had been wrought Cytherea with drooping tresses, wielding the swift shield of Ares; and from her shoulder to her left arm the fastening of her tunic was loosed beneath her breast; and opposite in the shield of bronze her image appeared clear to view as she stood.
And in it there was a well-wooded pasturage of oxen; and about the oxen the Teleboae and the sons of Electryon were fighting; the one party defending themselves, the others, the Taphian raiders, longing to rob them; and the dewy meadow was drenched with their blood, and the many were overmastering the few herdsmen.
And therein were fashioned two chariots, racing, and the one in front Pelops was guiding, as he shook the reins, and with him was Hippodameia at his side, and in pursuit Myrtilus urged his steeds, and with him Oenomaus had grasped his couched spear, but fell as the axle swerved and broke in the nave, while he was eager to pierce the back of Pelops.
And in it was wrought Phoebus Apollo, a stripling not yet grown up, in the act of shooting at mighty Tityos who was boldly dragging his mother by her veil, Tityos whom glorious Elare bare, but Earth nursed him and gave him second birth.
And in it was Phrixus the Minyan as though he were in very deed listening to the ram, while it was like one speaking. Beholding them thou wouldst be silent and wouldst cheat thy soul with the hope of hearing some wise speech from them, and long wouldst thou gaze with that hope.
Such then were the gifts of the Tritonian goddess Athena. And in his right hand Jason held a far-darting spear, which Atalanta gave him once as a gift of hospitality in Maenalus as she met him gladly; for she eagerly desired to follow on that quest; but he himself of his own accord prevented the maid, for he feared bitter strife on account of her love.
And he went on his way to the city like to a bright star, which maidens, pent up in new-built chambers, behold as it rises above their homes, and through the dark air it charms their eyes with its fair red gleam and the maid rejoices, love-sick for the youth who is far away amid strangers, for whom her parents are keeping her to be his bride; like to that star the hero trod the way to the city. And when they had passed within the gates and the city, the women of the people surged behind them, delighting in the stranger, but he with his eyes fixed on the ground fared straight on, till he reached the glorious palace of Hypsipyle; and when he appeared the maids opened the folding doors, fitted with well-fashioned panels. Here Iphinoe leading him quickly through a fair porch set him upon a shining seat opposite her mistress, but Hypsipyle turned her eyes aside and a blush covered her maiden cheeks, yet for all her modesty she addressed him with crafty words:
“Stranger, why stay ye so long outside our towers? for the city is not inhabited by the men, but they, as sojourners, plough the wheat-bearing fields of the Thracian mainland. And I will tell out truly all our evil plight, that ye yourselves too may know it well. When my father Thoas reigned over the citizens, then our folk starting from their homes used to plunder from their ships the dwellings of the Thracians who live opposite, and they brought back hither measureless booty and maidens too. But the counsel of the baneful goddess Cypris was working out its accomplishment, who brought upon them soul destroying infatuation. For they hated their lawful wives, and, yielding to their own mad folly, drove them from their homes; and they took to their beds the captives of their spear, cruel ones. Long in truth we endured it, if haply again, though late, they might change their purpose, but ever the bitter woe grew, twofold. And the lawful children were being dishonoured in their halls, and a bastard race was rising. And thus unmarried maidens and widowed mothers too wandered uncared for through the city; no father heeded his daughter ever so little even though he should see her done to death before his eyes at the hands of an insolent step-dame, nor did sons, as before, defend their mother against unseemly outrage; nor did brothers care at heart for their sister. But in their homes, in the dance, in the assembly and the banquet all their thought was only for their captive maidens; until some god put desperate courage in our hearts no more to receive our lords on their return from Thrace within our towers so that they might either heed the right or might depart and begone elsewhither, they and their captives. So they begged of us all the male children that were left in the city and went back to where even now they dwell on the snowy tilths of Thrace. Do ye therefore stay and settle with us; and shouldst them desire to dwell here, and this finds favour with thee, assuredly thou shalt have the prerogative of my father Thoas; and I deem that thou wilt not scorn our land at all; for it is deep-soiled beyond all other islands that lie in the Aegaean sea. But come now, return to the ship and relate my words to thy comrades, and stay not outside our city.”
She spoke, glozing over the murder that had been wrought upon the men; and Jason addressed her in answer:
“Hypsipyle, very dear to our hearts is the help we shall meet with, which thou grantest to us who need thee. And I will return again to the city when I have told everything in order due. But let the sovereignty of the island be thine; it is not in scorn I yield it up, but grievous trials urge me on.”
He spake, and touched her right hand; and quickly he turned to go back: and round him the young maids on every side danced in countless numbers in their joy till he passed through the gates. And then they came to the shore in smooth-running wains, bearing with them many gifts, when now he had related from beginning to end the speech which Hypsipyle had spoken when she summoned them; and the maids readily led the men back to their homes for entertainment. For Cypris stirred in them a sweet desire, for the sake of Hephaestus of many counsels, in order that Lemnos might be again inhabited by men and not be ruined.
Thereupon Aeson’s son started to go to the royal home of Hypsipyle; and the rest went each his way as chance took them, all but Heracles; for he of his own will was left behind by the ship and a few chosen comrades with him. And straightway the city rejoiced with dances and banquets, being filled with the steam of sacrifice; and above all the immortals they propitiated with songs and sacrifices the illustrious son of Hera and Cypris herself. And the sailing was ever delayed from one day to another; and long would they have lingered there, had not Heracles, gathering together his comrades apart from the women, thus addressed them with reproachful words:
“Wretched men, does the murder of kindred keep us from our native land? Or is it in want of marriage that we have come hither from thence, in scorn of our countrywomen? Does it please us to dwell here and plough the rich soil of Lemnos? No fair renown shall we win by thus tarrying so long with stranger women; nor will some god seize and give us at our prayer a fleece that moves of itself. Let us then return each to his own; but him leave ye to rest all day long in the embrace of Hypsipyle until he has peopled Lemnos with men-children, and so there come to him great glory.”
Thus did he chide the band; but no one dared to meet his eye or to utter a word in answer. But just as they were in the assembly they made ready their departure in all haste, and the women came running towards them, when they knew their intent. And as when bees hum round fair lilies pouring forth from their hive in the rock, and all around the dewy meadow rejoices, and they gather the sweet fruit, flitting from one to another; even so the women eagerly poured forth, clustering round the men with loud lament, and greeted each one with hands and voice, praying the blessed gods to grant him a safe return. And so Hypsipyle too prayed, seizing the hands of Aeson’s son, and her tears flowed for the loss of her lover:
“Go, and may heaven bring thee back again with thy comrades unharmed, bearing to the king the golden fleece, even as thou wilt and thy heart desireth; and this island and my father’s sceptre will be awaiting thee, if on thy return hereafter thou shouldst choose to come hither again; and easily couldst thou gather a countless host of men from other cities. But thou wilt not have this desire, nor do I myself forbode that so it will be. Still remember Hypsipyle when thou art far away and when thou hast returned; and leave me some word of bidding, which I will gladly accomplish, if haply heaven shall grant me to be a mother.”
And Aeson’s son in admiration thus replied: “Hypsipyle, so may all these things prove propitious by the favour of the blessed gods. But do thou hold a nobler thought of me, since by the grace of Pelias it is enough for me to dwell in my native land; may the gods only release me from my toils. But if it is not my destiny to sail afar and return to the land of Hellas, and if thou shouldst bear a male child, send him when grown up to Pelasgian Iolcus, to heal the grief of my father and mother if so be that he find them still living, in order that, far away from the king, they may be cared for by their own hearth in their home.”
He spake, and mounted the ship first of all; and so the rest of the chiefs followed, and, sitting in order, seized the oars; and Argus loosed for them the hawsers from under the sea-beaten rock. Whereupon they mightily smote the water with their long oars, and in the evening by the injunctions of Orpheus they touched at the island of Electra,10 daughter of Atlas, in order that by gentle initiation they might learn the rites that may not be uttered, and so with greater safety sail over the chilling sea. Of these I will make no further mention; but I bid farewell to the island itself and the indwelling deities, to whom belong those mysteries, which it is not lawful for me to sing.
Thence did they row with eagerness over the depths of the black Sea, having on the one side the land of the Thracians, on the other Imbros on the south; and as the sun was just setting they reached the foreland of the Chersonesus. There a strong south wind blew for them; and raising the sails to the breeze they entered the swift stream of the maiden daughter of Athamas; and at dawn the sea to the north was left behind and at night they were coasting inside the Rhoeteian shore, with the land of Ida on their right. And leaving Dardania they directed their course to Abydus, and after it they sailed past Percote and the sandy beach of Abarnis and divine Pityeia. And in that night, as the ship sped on by sail and oar, they passed right through the Hellespont dark-gleaming with eddies.
There is a lofty island inside the Propontis, a short distance from the Phrygian mainland with its rich cornfields, sloping to the sea, where an isthmus in front of the mainland is flooded by the waves, so low does it lie. And the isthmus has double shores, and they lie beyond the river Aesepus, and the inhabitants round about call the island the Mount of Bears. And insolent and fierce men dwell there, Earthborn, a great marvel to the neighbours to behold; for each one has six mighty hands to lift up, two from his sturdy shoulders, and four below, fitting close to his terrible sides. And about the isthmus and the plain the Doliones had their dwelling, and over them Cyzicus son of Aeneus was king, whom Aenete the daughter of goodly Eusorus bare. But these men the Earthborn monsters, fearful though they were, in nowise harried, owing to the protection of Poseidon; for from him had the Doliones first sprung. Thither Argo pressed on, driven by the winds of Thrace, and the Fair haven received her as she sped. There they cast away their small anchorstone by the advice of Tiphys and left it beneath a fountain, the fountain of Artacie; and they took another meet for their purpose, a heavy one; but the first, according to the oracle of the Far–Darter, the Ionians, sons of Neleus, in after days laid to be a sacred stone, as was right, in the temple of Jasonian Athena.
Now the Doliones and Cyzicus himself all came together to meet them with friendliness, and when they knew of the quest and their lineage welcomed them with hospitality, and persuaded them to row further and to fasten their ship’s hawsers at the city harbour. Here they built an altar to Ecbasian11 Apollo and set it up on the beach, and gave heed to sacrifices. And the king of his own bounty gave them sweet wine and sheep in their need; for he had heard a report that whenever a godlike band of heroes should come, straightway he should meet it with gentle words and should have no thought of war. As with Jason, the soft down was just blooming on his chin, nor yet had it been his lot to rejoice in children, but still in his palace his wife was untouched by the pangs of child-birth, the daughter of Percosian Merops, fair-haired Cleite, whom lately by priceless gifts he had brought from her father’s home from the mainland opposite. But even so he left his chamber and bridal bed and prepared a banquet among the strangers, casting all fears from his heart. And they questioned one another in turn. Of them would he learn the end of their voyage and the injunctions of Pelias; while they enquired about the cities of the people round and all the gulf of the wide Propontis; but further he could not tell them for all their desire to learn. In the morning they climbed mighty Dindymum that they might themselves behold the various paths of that sea; and they brought their ship from its former anchorage to the harbour, Chytus; and the path they trod is named the path of Jason.
11 i.e. god of disembarcation.
But the Earthborn men on the other side rushed down from the mountain and with crags below blocked up the mouth of vast Chytus towards the sea, like men lying in wait for a wild beast within. But there Heracles had been left behind with the younger heroes and he quickly bent his back-springing bow against the monsters and brought them to earth one after another; and they in their turn raised huge ragged rocks and hurled them. For these dread monsters too, I ween, the goddess Hera, bride of Zeus, had nurtured to be a trial for Heracles. And therewithal came the rest of the martial heroes returning to meet the foe before they reached the height of outlook, and they fell to the slaughter of the Earthborn, receiving them with arrows and spears until they slew them all as they rushed fiercely to battle. And as when woodcutters cast in rows upon the beach long trees just hewn down by their axes, in order that, once sodden with brine, they may receive the strong bolts; so these monsters at the entrance of the foam-fringed harbour lay stretched one after another, some in heaps bending their heads and breasts into the salt waves with their limbs spread out above on the land; others again were resting their heads on the sand of the shore and their feet in the deep water, both alike a prey to birds and fishes at once.
But the heroes, when the contest was ended without fear, loosed the ship’s hawsers to the breath of the wind and pressed on through the sea-swell. And the ship sped on under sail all day; but when night came the rushing wind did not hold steadfast, but contrary blasts caught them and held them back till they again approached the hospitable Doliones. And they stepped ashore that same night; and the rock is still called the Sacred Rock round which they threw the ship’s hawsers in their haste. Nor did anyone note with care that it was the same island; nor in the night did the Doliones clearly perceive that the heroes were returning; but they deemed that Pelasgian war-men of the Macrians had landed. Therefore they donned their armour and raised their hands against them. And with clashing of ashen spears and shields they fell on each other, like the swift rush of fire which falls on dry brushwood and rears its crest; and the din of battle, terrible and furious, fell upon the people of the Doliones. Nor was the king to escape his fate and return home from battle to his bridal chamber and bed. But Aeson’s son leapt upon him as he turned to face him, and smote him in the middle of the breast, and the bone was shattered round the spear; he rolled forward in the sand and filled up the measure of his fate. For that no mortal may escape; but on every side a wide snare encompasses us. And so, when he thought that he had escaped bitter death from the chiefs, fate entangled him that very night in her toils while battling with them; and many champions withal were slain; Heracles killed Telecles and Megabrontes, and Acastus slew Sphodris; and Peleus slew Zelus and Gephyrus swift in war. Telamon of the strong spear slew Basileus. And Idas slew Promeus, and Clytius Hyacinthus, and the two sons of Tyndareus slew Megalossaces and Phlogius. And after them the son of Oeneus slew bold Itomeneus, and Artaceus, leader of men; all of whom the inhabitants still honour with the worship due to heroes. And the rest gave way and fled in terror just as doves fly in terror before swift-winged hawks. And with a din they rushed in a body to the gates; and quickly the city was filled with loud cries at the turning of the dolorous fight. But at dawn both sides perceived the fatal and cureless error; and bitter grief seized the Minyan heroes when they saw before them Cyzicus son of Aeneus fallen in the midst of dust and blood. And for three whole days they lamented and rent their hair, they and the Doliones. Then three times round his tomb they paced in armour of bronze and performed funeral rites and celebrated games, as was meet, upon the meadow-plain, where even now rises the mound of his grave to be seen by men of a later day. No, nor was his bride Cleite left behind her dead husband, but to crown the ill she wrought an ill yet more awful, when she clasped a noose round her neck. Her death even the nymphs of the grove bewailed; and of all the tears for her that they shed to earth from their eyes the goddesses made a fountain, which they call Cleite,12 the illustrious name of the hapless maid. Most terrible came that day from Zeus upon the Doliones, women and men; for no one of them dared even to taste food, nor for a long time by reason of grief did they take thought for the toil of the cornmill, but they dragged on their lives eating their food as it was, untouched by fire. Here even now, when the Ionians that dwell in Cyzicus pour their yearly libations for the dead, they ever grind the meal for the sacrificial cakes at the common mill.13
12 Cleite means illustrious.
13 i.e. to avoid grinding it at home.
After this, fierce tempests arose for twelve days and nights together and kept them there from sailing. But in the next night the rest of the chieftains, overcome by sleep, were resting during the latest period of the night, while Acastus and Mopsus the son of Ampycus kept guard over their deep slumbers. And above the golden head of Aeson’s son there hovered a halcyon prophesying with shrill voice the ceasing of the stormy winds; and Mopsus heard and understood the cry of the bird of the shore, fraught with good omen. And some god made it turn aside, and flying aloft it settled upon the stern-ornament of the ship. And the seer touched Jason as he lay wrapped in soft sheepskins and woke him at once, and thus spake:
“Son of Aeson, thou must climb to this temple on rugged Dindymum and propitiate the mother14 of all the blessed gods on her fair throne, and the stormy blasts shall cease. For such was the voice I heard but now from the halcyon, bird of the sea, which, as as it flew above thee in thy slumber, told me all. For by her power the winds and the sea and all the earth below and the snowy seat of Olympus are complete; and to her, when from the mountains she ascends the mighty heaven, Zeus himself, the son of Cronos, gives place. In like manner the rest of the immortal blessed ones reverence the dread goddess.”
Thus he spake, and his words were welcome to Jason’s ear. And he arose from his bed with joy and woke all his comrades hurriedly and told them the prophecy of Mopsus the son of Ampycus. And quickly the younger men drove oxen from their stalls and began to lead them to the mountain’s lofty summit. And they loosed the hawsers from the sacred rock and rowed to the Thracian harbour; and the heroes climbed the mountain, leaving a few of their comrades in the ship. And to them the Macrian heights and all the coast of Thrace opposite appeared to view close at hand. And there appeared the misty mouth of Bosporus and the Mysian hills; and on the other side the stream of the river Aesepus and the city and Nepeian plain of Adrasteia. Now there was a sturdy stump of vine that grew in the forest, a tree exceeding old; this they cut down, to be the sacred image of the mountain goddess; and Argus smoothed it skilfully, and they set it upon that rugged hill beneath a canopy of lofty oaks, which of all trees have their roots deepest. And near it they heaped an altar of small stones, and wreathed their brows with oak leaves and paid heed to sacrifice, invoking the mother of Dindymum, most venerable, dweller in Phrygia, and Titias and Cyllenus, who alone of many are called dispensers of doom and assessors of the Idaean mother — the Idaean Dactyls of Crete, whom once the nymph Anchiale, as she grasped with both hands the land of Oaxus, bare in the Dictaean cave. And with many prayers did Aeson’s son beseech the goddess to turn aside the stormy blasts as he poured libations on the blazing sacrifice; and at the same time by command of Orpheus the youths trod a measure dancing in full armour, and clashed with their swords on their shields, so that the ill-omened cry might be lost in the air — the wail which the people were still sending up in grief for their king. Hence from that time forward the Phrygians propitiate Rhea with the wheel and the drum. And the gracious goddess, I ween, inclined her heart to pious sacrifices; and favourable signs appeared. The trees shed abundant fruit, and round their feet the earth of its own accord put forth flowers from the tender grass. And the beasts of the wild wood left their lairs and thickets and came up fawning on them with their tails. And she caused yet another marvel; for hitherto there was no flow of water on Dindymum, but then for them an unceasing stream gushed forth from the thirsty peak just as it was, and the dwellers around in after times called that stream, the spring of Jason. And then they made a feast in honour of the goddess on the Mount of Bears, singing the praises of Rhea most venerable; but at dawn the winds had ceased and they rowed away from the island.
Thereupon a spirit of contention stirred each chieftain, who should be the last to leave his oar. For all around the windless air smoothed the swirling waves and lulled the sea to rest. And they, trusting in the calm, mightily drove the ship forward; and as she sped through the salt sea, not even the storm-footed steeds of Poseidon would have overtaken her. Nevertheless when the sea was stirred by violent blasts which were just rising from the rivers about evening, forspent with toil, they ceased. But Heracles by the might of his arms pulled the weary rowers along all together, and made the strong-knit timbers of the ship to quiver. But when, eager to reach the Mysian mainland, they passed along in sight of the mouth of Rhyndacus and the great cairn of Aegaeon, a little way from Phrygia, then Heracles, as he ploughed up the furrows of the roughened surge, broke his oar in the middle. And one half he held in both his hands as he fell sideways, the other the sea swept away with its receding wave. And he sat up in silence glaring round; for his hands were unaccustomed to lie idle.
Now at the hour when from the field some delver or ploughman goes gladly home to his hut, longing for his evening meal, and there on the threshold, all squalid with dust, bows his wearied knees, and, beholding his hands worn with toil, with many a curse reviles his belly; at that hour the heroes reached the homes of the Cianian land near the Arganthonian mount and the outfall of Cius. Them as they came in friendliness, the Mysians, inhabitants of that land, hospitably welcomed, and gave them in their need provisions and sheep and abundant wine. Hereupon some brought dried wood, others from the meadows leaves for beds which they gathered in abundance for strewing, whilst others were twirling sticks to get fire; others again were mixing wine in the bowl and making ready the feast, after sacrificing at nightfall to Apollo Ecbasius.
But the son of Zeus having duly enjoined on his comrades to prepare the feast took his way into a wood, that he might first fashion for himself an oar to fit his hand. Wandering about he found a pine not burdened with many branches, nor too full of leaves, but like to the shaft of a tall poplar; so great was it both in length and thickness to look at. And quickly he laid on the ground his arrow-holding quiver together with his bow, and took off his lion’s skin. And he loosened the pine from the ground with his bronze-tipped club and grasped the trunk with both hands at the bottom, relying on his strength; and he pressed it against his broad shoulder with legs wide apart; and clinging close he raised it from the ground deep-rooted though it was, together with clods of earth. And as when unexpectedly, just at the time of the stormy setting of baleful Orion, a swift gust of wind strikes down from above, and wrenches a ship’s mast from its stays, wedges and all; so did Heracles lift the pine. And at the same time he took up his bow and arrows, his lion skin and club, and started on his return.
Meantime Hylas with pitcher of bronze in hand had gone apart from the throng, seeking the sacred flow of a fountain, that he might be quick in drawing water for the evening meal and actively make all things ready in due order against his lord’s return. For in such ways did Heracles nurture him from his first childhood when he had carried him off from the house of his father, goodly Theiodamas, whom the hero pitilessly slew among the Dryopians because he withstood him about an ox for the plough. Theiodamas was cleaving with his plough the soil of fallow land when he was smitten with the curse; and Heracles bade him give up the ploughing ox against his will. For he desired to find some pretext for war against the Dryopians for their bane, since they dwelt there reckless of right. But these tales would lead me far astray from my song. And quickly Hylas came to the spring which the people who dwell thereabouts call Pegae. And the dances of the nymphs were just now being held there; for it was the care of all the nymphs that haunted that lovely headland ever to hymn Artemis in songs by night. All who held the mountain peaks or glens, all they were ranged far off guarding the woods; but one, a water-nymph was just rising from the fair-flowing spring; and the boy she perceived close at hand with the rosy flush of his beauty and sweet grace. For the full moon beaming from the sky smote him. And Cypris made her heart faint, and in her confusion she could scarcely gather her spirit back to her. But as soon as he dipped the pitcher in the stream, leaning to one side, and the brimming water rang loud as it poured against the sounding bronze, straightway she laid her left arm above upon his neck yearning to kiss his tender mouth; and with her right hand she drew down his elbow, and plunged him into the midst of the eddy.
Alone of his comrades the hero Polyphemus, son of Eilatus, as he went forward on the path, heard the boy’s cry, for he expected the return of mighty Heracles. And he rushed after the cry, near Pegae, like some beast of the wild wood whom the bleating of sheep has reached from afar, and burning with hunger he follows, but does not fall in with the flocks; for the shepherds beforehand have penned them in the fold, but he groans and roars vehemently until he is weary. Thus vehemently at that time did the son of Eilatus groan and wandered shouting round the spot; and his voice rang piteous. Then quickly drawing his great sword he started in pursuit, in fear lest the boy should be the prey of wild beasts, or men should have lain in ambush for him faring all alone, and be carrying him off, an easy prey. Hereupon as he brandished his bare sword in his hand he met Heracles himself on the path, and well he knew him as he hastened to the ship through the darkness. And straightway he told the wretched calamity while his heart laboured with his panting breath.
“My poor friend, I shall be the first to bring thee tidings of bitter woe. Hylas has gone to the well and has not returned safe, but robbers have attacked and are carrying him off, or beasts are tearing him to pieces; I heard his cry.”
Thus he spake; and when Heracles heard his words, sweat in abundance poured down from his temples and the black blood boiled beneath his heart. And in wrath he hurled the pine to the ground and hurried along the path whither his feet bore on his impetuous soul. And as when a bull stung by a gadfly tears along, leaving the meadows and the marsh land, and recks not of herdsmen or herd, but presses on, now without check, now standing still, and raising his broad neck he bellows loudly, stung by the maddening fly; so he in his frenzy now would ply his swift knees unresting, now again would cease from toil and shout afar with loud pealing cry.
But straightway the morning star rose above the topmost peaks and the breeze swept down; and quickly did Tiphys urge them to go aboard and avail themselves of the wind. And they embarked eagerly forthwith; and they drew up the ship’s anchors and hauled the ropes astern. And the sails were bellied out by the wind, and far from the coast were they joyfully borne past the Posideian headland. But at the hour when gladsome dawn shines from heaven, rising from the east, and the paths stand out clearly, and the dewy plains shine with a bright gleam, then at length they were aware that unwittingly they had abandoned those men. And a fierce quarrel fell upon them, and violent tumult, for that they had sailed and left behind the bravest of their comrades. And Aeson’s son, bewildered by their hapless plight, said never a word, good or bad; but sat with his heavy load of grief, eating out his heart. And wrath seized Telamon, and thus he spake:
“Sit there at thy ease, for it was fitting for thee to leave Heracles behind; from thee the project arose, so that his glory throughout Hellas should not overshadow thee, if so be that heaven grants us a return home. But what pleasure is there in words? For I will go, I only, with none of thy comrades, who have helped thee to plan this treachery.”
He spake, and rushed upon Tiphys son of Hagnias; and his eyes sparkled like flashes of ravening flame. And they would quickly have turned back to the land of the Mysians, forcing their way through the deep sea and the unceasing blasts of the wind, had not the two sons of Thracian Boreas held back the son of Aeacus with harsh words. Hapless ones, assuredly a bitter vengeance came upon them thereafter at the hands of Heracles, because they stayed the search for him. For when they were returning from the games over Pelias dead he slew them in sea-girt Tenos and heaped the earth round them, and placed two columns above, one of which, a great marvel for men to see, moves at the breath of the blustering north wind. These things were thus to be accomplished in after times. But to them appeared Glaucus from the depths of the sea, the wise interpreter of divine Nereus, and raising aloft his shaggy head and chest from his waist below, with sturdy hand he seized the ship’s keel, and then cried to the eager crew:
“Why against the counsel of mighty Zeus do ye purpose to lead bold Heracles to the city of Aeetes? At Argos it is his fate to labour for insolent Eurystheus and to accomplish full twelve toils and dwell with the immortals, if so be that he bring to fulfilment a few more yet; wherefore let there be no vain regret for him. Likewise it is destined for Polyphemus to found a glorious city at the mouth of Cius among the Mysians and to fill up the measure of his fate in the vast land of the Chalybes. But a goddess-nymph through love has made Hylas her husband, on whose account those two wandered and were left behind.”
He spake, and with a plunge wrapped him about with the restless wave; and round him the dark water foamed in seething eddies and dashed against the hollow ship as it moved through the sea. And the heroes rejoiced, and Telamon son of Aeacus came in haste to Jason, and grasping his hand in his own embraced him with these words:
“Son of Aeson, be not wroth with me, if in my folly I have erred, for grief wrought upon me to utter a word arrogant and intolerable. But let me give my fault to the winds and let our hearts be joined as before.”
Him the son of Aeson with prudence addressed: “Good friend, assuredly with an evil word didst thou revile me, saying before them all that I was the wronger of a kindly man. But not for long will I nurse bitter wrath, though indeed before I was grieved. For it was not for flocks of sheep, no, nor for possessions that thou wast angered to fury, but for a man, thy comrade. And I were fain thou wouldst even champion me against another man if a like thing should ever befall me.”
He spake, and they sat down, united as of old. But of those two, by the counsel of Zeus, one, Polyphemus son of Eilatus, was destined to found and build a city among the Mysians bearing the river’s name, and the other, Heracles, to return and toil at the labours of Eurystheus. And he threatened to lay waste the Mysian land at once, should they not discover for him the doom of Hylas, whether living or dead. And for him they gave pledges choosing out the noblest sons of the people and took an oath that they would never cease from their labour of search. Therefore to this day the people of Cius enquire for Hylas the son of Theiodamas; and take thought for the well-built Trachis. For there did Heracles settle the youths whom they sent from Cius as pledges.
And all day long and all night the wind bore the ship on, blowing fresh and strong; but when dawn rose there was not even a breath of air. And they marked a beach jutting forth from a bend of the coast, very broad to behold, and by dint of rowing came to land at sunrise.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:47