A Mythological Pirate Raid3 November 2015 Well, here I am sitting at home, on a public holiday, writing a review of a book that I have just finished Well, maybe I should be out doing something else, but sometimes just sitting at home with a hot cup of tea is just as enjoyable Anyway, apparently there is a horse race on today, a race that apparently stops a nation So, while everybody else is gathering around food and joining in office pools to get the chance of maybe winning some money, I am g A Mythological Pirate Raid3 November 2015 Well, here I am sitting at home, on a public holiday, writing a review of a book that I have just finished Well, maybe I should be out doing something else, but sometimes just sitting at home with a hot cup of tea is just as enjoyable Anyway, apparently there is a horse race on today, a race that apparently stops a nation So, while everybody else is gathering around food and joining in office pools to get the chance of maybe winning some money, I am going to continue to sit here, on the second year in a row when I don t have to participate in this national event seriously, it s a horse race and actually do something that I enjoy doing In fact if I don t find out who wins that race though the Guardian app on my phone will no doubt tell me it is going to be some knowledge that is simply going to have very little effect upon my life Anyway, the first thing that I have to say about this version of the book that I read, particularly since I just read another review where the writer suggests that the American cover of a certain book is a lot worse than the original cover I ve noticed that with some books, particularly the Discworld novels the Kirby covers are so much better than the American covers , is that I found the cover to be rather boring Basically it is a stone carving of Jason This cover is so much better Though I don t remember any scene in the book where the Argo actually flies Anyway, I m sure we are all familiar with the story of Jason and the Argonauts, where Jason is commissioned by the king to sail to the Land of Colchis and steal this golden fleece, so Jason brings together a crew of heroes and makes the perilous journey Upon arrival he is given some impossible tasks by the king, who then betrays him after Jason successfully completes them, so with the help of the king s daughter Medea they slay the dragon guarding the fleece and then both nick off back to Greece In fact I remember watching this old 1963 movie in Ancient History in High School based on this story The one thing that I remember from the movie, other than the pretty cool special effects, was the army of skeletons that came out of the ground whom Jason then fought to the death However, the one thing that disappointed me is that the movie ended with them sailing off into the sunset there was no homeward journey Anyway, one of the things I like about these modern translations of ancient texts are the introductions because they give you a pretty good rundown of the context of the story However I have to suggest that I found the introduction in this particular edition to be pretty dull Okay, Rieu did tell us how back in his student days pretty much nobody liked the Argonautica and my Classics history lecturer also made a similar observation and the lecturers would use parts of it as unseens confident in knowing that nobody would have read it Mind you, if I was studying at Oxford back then, and caught on to this practice, one of the first books I would have read would have been the Argonautica and I m sure some of the students would have cottoned on to this as well One of the things we must be aware of though, when approaching these ancient stories, is that the characters simply do not exist in a vacuum These stories aren t like our modern novels where the characters generally have no existence prior to the novel or afterwards, and everything we know about the character exists within the novel Many of these ancient stories are based on well established mythology, so when an ancient would pick up and read one of these epics they would already have a pretty clear idea of the character that the epic is about As such many of the authors were pretty restricted in how they would create their epics, and in many cases simply tweaked the characters, or explored certain aspects of their personality Okay, I would have to say that maybe I have been influenced by the attitudes of many of the scholars when it comes to this book because I would hardly say that it is one of my favourites However, it is still a rollicking good adventure In fact this story has everything heroes, monsters, battles, betrayals, witches, and of course a treasure What we must remember is that Jason and his crew are littlethan pirates Okay, he is given the task by a king who in his mind considers this to be an impossible task, namely because he was warned in a dream to beware of the man with one sandal, and the man who happens to rock up at his gates with one sandal is none other than Jason himself though why the king didn t just kill him is beyond me , but he is still simply travelling to another land with the explicit purpose of raiding it and carrying off its treasure The thing with the composition of the Argo is that, unlike the Odyssey, the crew are all heroes Among the crew we encounter Castor and Pollux orprecisely Polydeuces, though I prefer the name Pollux much better , the musician Orpheus, and of course Heracles However Heracles does pose a bit of a problem because he is such a famous character that having him as a part of the crew creates the problem that,likely than not, he is going to steal Jason s thunder It s sort of like where you cast a minor actor in a leading role, and then have Patrick Stewart in the supporting cast it generally doesn t work However the myth deals with this by having the Argonauts accidentally leave Heracles behind near the beginning of the journey though Apollonius does make a comment about this because it does seem to be a bit odd The story itself is very episodic, muchso than the Odyssey On the journey up we have Jason and his crew go through various encounters, including getting waylaid by an island of s who killed off all the men and then realised that they need men to procreate so decided that the Argonauts fit that role perfectly We also have the story of the man who would sit down to eat only to have the harpies dive from the sky, steal all of his food, and then leave again We have a similar structure on the return journey, though for a while the Argonauts are being chased by the Cholcians However, once they hit the Mediterranean we suddenly find them taking a very similar route back to Greece that Homer did Rieu makes a bit of a comment about this, suggesting that despite the Greeks being very familiar with this region during Apollonius time, to keep with the mythology of the setting, Apollonius purposely was not very accurate in his descriptions I m not really convinced that Apollonius did this on purpose, simply because he was writing about events back in the age of mythology that happened almost two generations prior to Odyssey s travels Jason isn t following Odysseus, Jason is actually travelling the route prior to Odysseus Also, what Jason would have encountered as he traversed this route would have been much different to what Apollonius would have seen What is interesting is that there are two routes that Jason could have taken, Apollonius s route, and the Orphic route and considering Orpheus was a member of the crew he probably was muchknowledgeable with the route they took though it s not as if we have Orpheus account the guy is a mythological figure Anyway, this is the route Apollonius uses This is the route attributed to Orpheus which also includes Apollonius route It is interesting that the Orphic route has them come out in the Baltic Sea and then sail around the coast of Western Europe back to the Mediterranean and no doubt the Greeks, by the time of Apollonius, had sailed out that far Herodotus does make mention of somebody circumnavigating Africa However, it looks as if Apollonius wanted to keep it simple, and by using a similar route to that of Odysseus his readers would have been quite familiar with the area The Argonautica A.K.A Jason the Argonauts or Jason the Golden Fleece is a Greek epic that is far superior to the Illiad or the Odyssey Instead of individual glory, the Argonautica is about the importance of bonds between loved ones and keeping one s word Although the story starts with a painfully lengthy discussion of each crew member, their lineages, and their glorious past deeds, the purpose of that become immediately clear each crew member is equally important Hercules Heracles The Argonautica A.K.A Jason the Argonauts or Jason the Golden Fleece is a Greek epic that is far superior to the Illiad or the Odyssey Instead of individual glory, the Argonautica is about the importance of bonds between loved ones and keeping one s word Although the story starts with a painfully lengthy discussion of each crew member, their lineages, and their glorious past deeds, the purpose of that become immediately clear each crew member is equally important Hercules Heracles Yes, that Hercules is the most famous crew member and is universally voted as captain He turns down the honor and encourages the crew to support Jason as the captain, because Jason did the hard work of bringing them all together for the voyage Jason is touched Throughout the epic, Jason demonstrates great leadership skills and motivates his crew every step of the way He s also complimentary, humble, and brave.Hercules is included in the story to make a point While Hercules, Achilles, and Odysseus are supernatural warriors and paragons of then traditional masculinity, Jason is a softer soul He has a need for human connection and dreams of romantic love The epic isn t the Jasonautica, but instead is named after the ship, the Argo Everyone on the ship the Argonauts are heroes Moreover, the ship is named after Prince Argus, the crew member who built the ship not named after Jason or Hercules The Argonauts each have their little adventures along the way, although Jason, naturally, has the larger story arch Hercules s divine labors are not part of this epic They each have their time to shine and help each other succeed without jealousy or bitterness They also learn all kinds of life lessons together as a group, especially the nature of Fate, prophecies, omens, and the gods Compared to the Illiad and Odyssey, the gods in the Argonautica are considerably less involved in mortal affairs Much of the decision making and responsibility are left up to the humans The epic is best known for the epic romance between Prince Jason and Princess Medea Jason falls for her hard and fast His vows to Medea are just as important as his vows to his crew, if notimportant Eros Cupid nudges Medea in Jason s direction, but Medea seems to have a lot of choice in the matter, because she thinks long and hard about her choice between her family and homeland or Jason It doesn t hurt that Jason is exceedingly handsome and charming Medea, powerful and complex woman that she is, helps Jason on his quest Jason delegates tasks based on his crew members individual skills and Medea, who is a priestess, helps the Argonauts with her adept witchcraft and by having the favor of various goddesses There is a nice balance of masculine power and male gods with feminine power and goddesses Let s be honest with ourselves here Apollonius of Rhodes is no Homer, hell he s miles away from even being a Virgil This 4 book rendition of Jason and the Argonauts is probably the strangest epic poem you will ever have the chance to read how Apollonius depicts his heroes is astonishing and complex on many levels For one thing, Jason is the most average Joe hero you will ever meet The entire trip over to Colchis for the golden fleece he s thinking about how he s gonna be able to make it Let s be honest with ourselves here Apollonius of Rhodes is no Homer, hell he s miles away from even being a Virgil This 4 book rendition of Jason and the Argonauts is probably the strangest epic poem you will ever have the chance to read how Apollonius depicts his heroes is astonishing and complex on many levels For one thing, Jason is the most average Joe hero you will ever meet The entire trip over to Colchis for the golden fleece he s thinking about how he s gonna be able to make it back to Greece This is some real gloomy stuff He s crying all the time and in general is consumed by a thick nervousness throughout the trip Even when it s all smooth sailing literally Jason s anxiety reveals how much he just wants the trip to just be over with Take this line for exampleTiphys, he said, why do you try to comfort me in my distress I was blind and made a fatal error When Pelias ordered me to undertake this mission, I ought to have refused outright, even though he would have torn me limb from limb without compunction But as things are, I am obsessed by fears and intolerable anxiety, hating the thought of the cruel sea.I mean Jesus Christ man At many times even the other Argonauts are tired of Jason s seemingly perpetual anxiousness and irresolution To put it simply, Jason is not really the Classical mythological leader that the situation desperately needs him to be To prove this point we need just turn to the beginning of the Argonauts voyage I m talking about the part where the general group consensus is that electing Heracles Hercules as the head of the voyage is an obvious choice, despite the fact it was divinely destined for Jason You know you re not cut out for the role of great hero when the others around you think there s a better choice even if he declines Jason s flimsy courageous traits doesn t mean the rest of his company is any better The way Apollonius writes about the various Argonaut pit stop activities makes it seem like anyone could have been one In Book 2 when they come face to face with the colliding Cyanean rocks they get caught in such a cold grip of panic they re practically shitting themselves from fright Keep in mind this is after consulting a seer named Phineus who has already mapped out the entire outcome of their trip step by step The only one who seems to have any real nerve is Heracles, but he s abandoned early on because his partner sexual gets abducted by nymphs, a loss the Argonauts as per usual consider a devastating tragedy for themselves Waterhouse has a nice representation of Hylas and the Nymphs Except it was night when he was taken, and there was exact one nymph not seven This whole situation is especially disappointing to me since the Argonaut lineup is absolutely stacked mythologically speaking Practically everyone is the son of some god or another, I mean we re talking about the likes of Heracles , Castor , Orpheus , Peleus Achilles father , Telamon Ajax s father , etc Apollonius had so many great figures to work with and basically threw any representational opportunities in the toilet No one other than Jason and maybe Medea has any real depth to them, they re all cardboard side characters and this has been well documented in academic journals This roster should be un dauntingly shredding the terrifying ocean waves and prying the golden fleece from Aeetes bloody fists, not shivering and moping every time they spot a new obstacle in their path Some critics have defined Jason s unheroic personality in being in accordance with the realism genre instead of the epic Is Apollonius making fun of the old Greek model of manly virtue by depicting his characters in this way Possibly, but in my opinion Jason s Everyman personality seemslikely to be a rendering of acontemporary 3rd cen, BC world view and less a subversion of the old epic framework Either way, the real reason everyone reads the Argonautica is basically for Book 3 and this consideration is largely justified This is of course where the romantic interlude between Jason and the famous witch Medea develops, along with the long awaited landing at Colchis where the golden fleece is located To save yourself an incredibly pedantic account of hundreds of inconsequential mythological tidbits you may as well read a quick synopsis of the first two books and just skip to this one for the meaty substance This isn t to say that Book 1 2 don t have some captivating episodes, it s just that the majority of the text consists of rowing, rowing, rowing, rowing, let s stop to sacrifice and sleep , rowing, rowing, rowing The list of geographical areas and biographical info on very obscure figures in Greek history just drones on, and if you aren t a fan of these types of epic devices it s easy to get agitated with the author One of my favourite episodes actually comes from Book 2 when they land on an unidentified port that belongs to a king Amycus who is an absolute boxing fiendListen, sailormen, to something you should know No foreigner calling here is allowed to continue his journey without putting up his fists to mine So pick out your best man and match me on the spot Otherwise you will find to you sorrow that if you defy my laws you will be brought by main force to obey them Even the Argonauts can t handle someone this blatantly disobeying the laws of hospitality and Polydeuces exchanges haymakers with the king until the sun sets In general I m confused as to why the great seer Phineus , a man who is supposed to be blessed with all knowledge of the past and future is so worried about his own fate I mean, couldn t he just predict that Jason and the rest would come save him from his divine curse Why is he so worried Further, it s mentioned extremely briefly that two members of Jason s entourage Zetes and Calais can literally fly I don t know if this was common knowledge in the classical world but there flight came so suddenly that I had to reread the passages to make sure I wasn t missing something Why can t they just fly to Colchis and grab the fleece, why are they sailing in the first place This would save everyone a tremendous amount of trouble.If you like the Homeric epics and Greek mythology in general I would give this one a whirl, just note that Apollonius of Rhodes may write in ways that would greatly surprise you I just wish we had earlier versions of the tale so we could compare it this one Rated 3.5 5 stars The Argonautica tells the story of the journey of Jason and the Argonauts to the land of Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece The story of the Argonauts was a traditional cycle of myths which Apollonius of Rhodes wove into this saga at the turn of the third century BCE Apollonius, born aboutBC, was a librarian at the great Library of Alexandria He composed the Argonautica in his youth, but it got a poor reception in Alexandria Rejected, he moved to Rhodes where he gained fame as a teacher, and his poem got respect Eventually he returned to Alexandria, where the Argonautica was finally acclaimed Opinions differed in antiquity on the Argonautica some Romans such as Virgil held it in high esteem Quintillian and Longinus criticized it as mediocre In the Argonautica, Jason is impelled on his quest by King Peleas, who receives a prophecy that a man with one sandal would be his nemesis Jason, a hero in training, loses a sandal in a river, arrives at the court of Peleas, and the epic is set in motion So Peleas sends Jason off on the ultimate scavenger hunt for The Golden Fleece Jason assembles an A list of Greek heroes, including Odysseus, Orpheus, Heracles and dozens of others They journey in a great ship, the Argo, to the eastern end of the Black Sea, essentially to the ends of the earth This story is also retold for young adults at this site in The Heroes, by Charles Kingsley The Argonautica has impacted our culture from the Aeneid to Star Trek The Golden Fleece has become a byword for an unobtainable object And who can forget Ray Harryhausen s classic stop motion animation in thefilm Jason and the Argonauts The pre Raphaelite John William Waterhouse painting above, which is a favorite college dorm room poster, depicts an incident from the Argonautica where Hylas or Aeolas , the companion of Heracles, is seduced and carried away by a water nymph, to Heracles inconsolable sorrow Like an ancient Greek Avengers A bunch of mythological superheroes go on a quest, fight some enemies, and have dealings with the gods. Here is an adventure tale that continues to impress itself upon our lives Though little is known about the author, the story is one of iconic legend accompanied by many a commentary on Hellenic origin myths The writing is often quite lyrical, and many situations are dealt with in a humorous combination of overstatement and wry remark.What impressed me the most as I read this book was the author s keen eye for human nature and the dramatic moment This story is in many ways still as lively and Here is an adventure tale that continues to impress itself upon our lives Though little is known about the author, the story is one of iconic legend accompanied by many a commentary on Hellenic origin myths The writing is often quite lyrical, and many situations are dealt with in a humorous combination of overstatement and wry remark.What impressed me the most as I read this book was the author s keen eye for human nature and the dramatic moment This story is in many ways still as lively and entertaining as when it was written Part of the success of this work is that Apollonius portrays Jason not as an epic hero but as an ordinary man This distinction becomes quite clear when Jason is faced by task he must complete to win the Golden Fleece Ultimately love wins the day, which becomes one of the genuine surprises of this book The narrative very skillfully changes from a tale of violent conquest into a highly symbolic romance.Further, this story is in a way the antipodes of Homer s Odyssey in that Odysseus is fighting to find his way home to his wife while Jason is fighting to find the woman he is destined to marry In the end, The Voyage of Argo has a great deal to say about the fickleness of love The passages on Medea s romance still strike the right chords There are moments that are downright heartbreaking, and one is left wondering at how little people have changed in all these many years 62 The Argonautika Expanded Edition by Apollonius Rhodius, translated with Introduction, commentary and glossary by Peter Greencomposition circa 200 s bce, translation 1997 notes completed 2008 format 490 page paperback, University of California press I read 383 pages, skipping 60 page glossary, etc acquired March, fromread Sep 23 Oct 12rating 4Part 1 some settingHomer left me wondering about Jason and his voyage in the Argo with his Argonauts and his quest for the go 62 The Argonautika Expanded Edition by Apollonius Rhodius, translated with Introduction, commentary and glossary by Peter Greencomposition circa 200 s bce, translation 1997 notes completed 2008 format 490 page paperback, University of California press I read 383 pages, skipping 60 page glossary, etc acquired March, fromread Sep 23 Oct 12rating 4Part 1 some settingHomer left me wondering about Jason and his voyage in the Argo with his Argonauts and his quest for the golden fleece The Iliad and the Odyssey reference the storiesbecause they have to It was the children of the Argonauts who fought the Trojan War And one has to wonder how much of the tales of the Odyssey were taken from Argonauts voyage, if any But these Homeric epics never get involved enough to write out the story lines It seems the Jason resides, along with the Calydonian Boar Hunt, in the darker shadows of mythology fundamental and yet lost along with the oral storytelling past His story chronicles the first shipboard odyssey aboard the mythical first ship, but it lacks any standard truly ancient version.What Apollonius created is something far removed from Homer Apollonius lived in what was maybe the peak of Alexandria s cultural flowering when that library was collecting all the ancients works We know the names of several head librarians from the 3rd century BCE Alexandria Zenodotus, Eratosthenes, Aristophanes of Byzantium, Aristarchus of Samothrace, and Apollonius of Rhodes, our author These surely must be the most famous librarians in history Callimachus is credited with writing the first catalogue of the library, but was never a librarian Apollonius, his student, appears have been chosen over him and there is a mythology of sorts around their rivalry In a nutshell, Callimachus wrote shorter, original works of poetry, while Apollonius,a traditionalist, clung to Homer and the epic Part 2 mythical backgroundThe background myth behind the Argonautika is complicated tossed salad of stories involving a golden ram rescuing a brother and sister, Phrixos and Hell , and racing them off away from Greece proper to the far side of the Black Sea Hell falls off a cliff, now named Hellespont after her Phrixos finds shelter under the barbarian king of Kolchis, Ai t s, and rewards his ram by fleecing ithence the golden fleece Jason, meanwhile, walks into a trap, one that says a lot about what s not going on in his head The local king, Pelias, foretold that the Jason, who is the son of Aison from whom Pelias stole his crown, would ruin him, sends Jason off on an adventure sure to kill him He is to the cross the Black Sea and get the golden fleece and bring it back to Pelias Unfortunately for Pelias, goddess Hera intervenes In the various myths Jason will acquire a magical ship built by Argos and the goddess Athena, and acquire a heroic crew that would include Orpheus, Heracles and the fathers of some heroes of the Iliad He will sail himself and his crew into a barbarian trap in Kolchis and be rescued only because of the emotional swings of the king s daughter, Medea, who decides to help him, use him, or whatever She saves Jason from sure doom, gets him the fleece, kills her brother, Ai t s heir, and thoroughly ruins Ai t s It s not clear whether this plays any part in the origin of the word fleeced Part 3 the actual bookThere were several written versions of the Argonautika, and I think other than Apollonius s version they are all lost, although some summaries and commentaries survive So, depending on how you look at it, we both blessed and stuck with Apollonios s version And actually there is a lot going for it I don t know how it stands on poetic grounds, since I read it in translation, but the epic reads quickly It s an adventure with many curiosities, typically based on the world knowledge of the times In a sense it s a natural history of the poorly known non Asian world Apollonios s geography is quite cooked, as he has Jason go up the Danube and come out the Adriatic Sea Then go up the Po, and through some mythical Swiss lake reach the Rhine, make a u turn and come out of something like the Rhone That obviously doesn t fly, but he s trying to match the Odyssey in mythical geography and there wasn t anyone around to correct him in the 3rd century bce But, regardless, Apollonius was influential, and had a huge impact on Virgil, from the Roman era The Aeneid pulls from this version of the Argonautika freely, using the same phrases and similes The Argonautika pulls from the Odyssey, and Euripides play Medea and many other sources, but also appears to have many original aspects to it and these then fed into the future literary traditions The Argonautika is probably most noteworthy for its anti heroes Herakles is essentially humor and quickly dispatched or the story wouldn t work Many of the other heroes are noteworthy for silly aspects, and some are simply not so smart But Jason especially stands out as a fop, a second rate leader at best, only saved by Medea and his guardian goddesses All this is told straight, it s in there as an understated irony, Alexandrian humor I supposed It s an irony that stands in a marked contrast the glory sincerely sought by Homer s heroes.The one aspect that most disappointed me by Apollonius was his women First of all he kicks Atalanta off the Argo He gives some brief sorry explanation Medea has some original and creative aspects, and probably is his most important creation especially with her psychological complexity and emotional wavering, but this is not Euripides dominant force of a character This is a emotionally vulnerable woman struck down by Aphrodite for a second rate hero, eventually strung out to dry by her own silly decisions Homer s women of the Odyssey are all notable for their strengths, and the Athenian tragic Greek poets of the 5th century wrote wonderfully terribly strong female characters That s all gone here Apollonius sees women simply as a lesser sex.Part 4 translationA note about the translator, Peter Green The translation is merely one part of this physical and quietly beautiful book The notes are actually longer than the text They are another whole book, 200 pages of really nicely done commentary And then there is a 60 page glossary that is, simply, wonderful I actually tried to read it, and made it about 12 pages in I was still on A and all the names were blending together because they were too similar So, I gave it up Finally his bibliography has it s own format that identifies whether the book was actually cited in the notes, or is an un cited reference What I m trying to say is this was a labor of love I was very impressed.In summaryRight, so what was my overall impression I really liked the beginning, the rapid moving story, and the extensive notes there to slow me down But I felt like Apollonius got a bit lost along the way trying to get all his odd story details in By the time I got to the last book there are four I was ready to just rush through it and be done But, for 50 pages of text there were 70 pages of notes, and I simply found that, all those notes, overwhelming, regardless of how I tried to break them up I m glad I read this, but I hope I don t read it again I now feel very well prepped for Virgil It is hard to pin down why Argo is not a particularly satisfying read It is unfair to compare any author to Homer, although the style, antiquity, and subject matter of this book invite the comparison Apollonius is at his best when he is describing scenes like Medea s indecision over whether to go to Jason or obey her father Unfortunately long sections of the book read like this line from page 180 Later on, the Bacchiadae, whose native place was Ephyra, settled there too, and the Colchians c It is hard to pin down why Argo is not a particularly satisfying read It is unfair to compare any author to Homer, although the style, antiquity, and subject matter of this book invite the comparison Apollonius is at his best when he is describing scenes like Medea s indecision over whether to go to Jason or obey her father Unfortunately long sections of the book read like this line from page 180 Later on, the Bacchiadae, whose native place was Ephyra, settled there too, and the Colchians crossed to an island opposite, only to leave it at a later date and pass over to the Ceraunian Mountains where the Abantes lived, to join the Nestaeans, and so reach Oricum Beg pardon The biggest let down for me was Jason himself He may be the subject of one of the most popular heroic legends of Ancient Greece, but he doesn t come across as much of a hero He frequently despairs of completing his quest and returning home and one of his crew men has to encourage him, when as captain he should really be the one encouraging his crew Most of the great deeds of the journey are performed by other heroes, such as the defeat of the harpies by Zetes and Calais or Tiphys steering the ship through the clashing rocks Jason s greatest moment, passing the trail of Aeetes, is only made possible by the magic of Medea, not by Jason s cleverness, courage, or strength Jason is basically just the guy whose existence sets the story in motion and then the other characters provide the great accomplishments From the mists of ancient days long past, comes the tale of the Greek hero Jason and his 56 heroic friends They set sail on the inland sea towards the Bosporus to claim the golden fleece with which to allay a family curse that has hung over Jason This task is supposed to result in his death, and was given him by one King who wanted him dead By securing the fleece he is to secure release from the King and in doing so, engage the wrath of another King.The Argonautica is a story that was writ From the mists of ancient days long past, comes the tale of the Greek hero Jason and his 56 heroic friends They set sail on the inland sea towards the Bosporus to claim the golden fleece with which to allay a family curse that has hung over Jason This task is supposed to result in his death, and was given him by one King who wanted him dead By securing the fleece he is to secure release from the King and in doing so, engage the wrath of another King.The Argonautica is a story that was written by one of the librarians of the famed library of Alexandria of ancient times Though Apollonius of Rhodes was no Homer, he does not disappoint with this adventure filled journey His words aren t quite as flowery, but the plot is very eventful Early after hearing of this mission, we are given the list of men who valiantly answer Jason s call to journey with him on the sea I found this part muchinteresting than I should have probably Just those little glimpses of the time, like that of Pelius, who had been living in exile from his home city, as had his brother 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 Since Jason is an only child much weeping attends their leave taking And, great are the number of witnesses who are there to say goodbye We are told up front that Canthus Mopsus the seer are to die in Libya Idmon already knew of his coming death by augury But, Tiphys the Helmsman s death doesn t seem to be foretold, and die he will As they sail away from the shores of home, we catch a glimpse of a Centaur and his wife on the beach They are waving to the ship, with the son of the exile in hand It seems they made their way to the mainland when they heard that the exiled young father would be departing, just to allow him to catch a glimpse of his son Achilles And there came down from the mountain top to the sea Cheiron, the centaur, 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 With him was his wife, bearing Peleus son Achilles on her arm and she showed the child to his dear father We are just getting our feet wet in the adventure now, for there is much to come There is an encounter with the Lemnian women who had slain all their unfaithful men Then comes the abduction of young Hylas by nymphs while Tiphys urges them to depart to catch the winds Jason and crew depart the island, unknowingly leaving Heracles and Polyphemus behind in their search for Hylas As soon as they take note of the missing, in their grief they start to turn back risking the winds But, Zetes and Calais stopped the search We are informed that in the future, Heracles will punish these two for stopping the search, but he will survive, as will Polyphemus who is destined to found and build a city there among the Mysians But the journey is not to be shunned, the toil is hard for those who venture Wars are fought, and victories are gained, like in the contest with the arrogant Bebrycians and the accidental nighttime battle with the hospitable Doliones Oops You never know who you are fighting in the dark it seems But, with a favoring wind they soon steer through the eddying Bosporus There they hear the prophecy of the aged Phineus In return for delivering him from the Harpies, he explains how they should make it through the Cyanean rocks into the Black Sea, by first sending a dove through For they are not firmly fixed with roots beneath, but constantly clash against one another to one point I was enthralled by the picturesque descriptions like when they arrived at Ares, the Island of the birds And half of them rowed in turn, and the rest covered the ship with spears and shields And as when a man roofs over a house with tiles to be an ornament of his home and a defence against rain, and one fits firmly into another, each after each so they roofed over the ship with their shields, locking them together And as a din arises from a warrior host of men sweeping on when lines of battle meet, such a shout rose upward from the ship into the air Now they saw none of the birds yet, but when they touched the island and clashed upon their shields, then the birds in countless numbers rose in flight hither and thither And as when the son of Cronos sends from the clouds a dense hailstorm on city and houses, and the people who dwell beneath hear the din above the roof and sit quietly, since the stormy season has not come upon them unawares, but they have first made strong their roofs so the birds sent against the heroes a thick shower of feather shafts as they darted over the sea to the mountains of the land opposite When our voyagers meet the sons of Phrixus on the island, their kinsmen, we learn the backstory of the Golden Fleece which I am never sure was worth all that trouble, until near the end when it is actually put to use But, first they have to win the fleece Aphrodite sends her erstwhile son Eros to save Jason by the love of King Aeetes daughter Medea It seems dear old Dad is not such a dear He not only does not intend to allow Jason to have the fleece, but he sets him another impossible task to obtain this first impossible task I have two bulls with feet of bronze that pasture on the plain of Ares, breathing forth flame from their jaws I yoke them and drive them over the stubborn four acre field of Ares and quickly cleaving it with the share up to the headland, I cast into the furrows the seed, not the corn of Demeter, but the teeth of a dread serpent that grow up into the fashion of armed men them I slay at once, cutting them down beneath my spear as they rise against me on all sides In the morning I yoke the oxen, and at eventide I cease from the harvesting There is not so much profit, I believe, in counsel as in the might of our hands Pitiful indeed is our hope when we have put our return in the keeping of women The day was finished and Jason s contest was done, and so it seems that the good counsel was at least as helpful as the might of their hands, and that they did well by placing their hope in the keeping of women But, the question remains Is Medea justified in placing her hope and future in the hands of a sailor who has promised to marry her Sadly, she soon becomes a political exile on the ship, as her Father continually sends men to force the men to return her He so wants revenge upon his own daughter that he sends her brother to capture her Later a neighboring king is being strong armed into extraditing Medea back to King Aeetes, when the King s wife warns Jason that her husband will not send Medea back if Jason and Medea are already married So, they move the wedding ahead to that very night, instead of waiting to get home to his family It was there, at that time, did the Argonauts spread a mighty couch and thereon they laid the glittering fleece of gold, that so the marriage might be honoured and become the theme of song the sacred cave of Medea, where they spread the fine and fragrant linen and brought these two together The confusing return journey has left much speculation over the centuries Numerous maps have been speculated, in an attempt to rectify the geography Apollonius had a poor understanding of the world outside the Mediterranean, as did most of the Greeks of that age This rough attempt to map a journey around terra incognita was much like Sci fi writers today attempting to describe a space journey through the universe In this way, the book speaks of the unknown ancient worldsthe blank map That is a priceless feat to bring a reader from the twenty first century back in time, to experience first hand the unknown perils of a map that is now printed in every school age child s mind I divine that our mother is none else than our ship herself for surely she bore us in her womb and groans unceasingly with grievous travailing No we will not need a ship to make that journey This is highly readable ancient Greek I read it in the Kindle and Audible not quite whisper synced and enjoyed the narration as well as the translation of the text by Seaton Now when dawn the light bringer was touching the edge of heaven