Apollonius Rhodius: Argonautica

Book I

Translated by Christopher Kelk

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Phoebus, of ancient heroes’ deeds I’ll sing,

Starting with you: they, at the ordering

Of King Pelias, out through Pontus’ gateway

And then across its rocks, sailed clean away

On well-benched Argo for the fleece of gold.

A dreadful fate stayed for him he’d been told

By an oracle – that he would slaughtered be

Through the prompting of a man whom he would see

One-sandalled, of the common folk. They say

That not long after, Jason made his way 10

By foot through chill Anaurus and, although

He saved one sandal from the mud, even so

He left the other mired in the sea.

He reached King Pelias immediately

To partake in a banquet he had planned

For Poseidon, the god who’d sired him, and

The other gods; no honour did he pay

To Grecian Hera. So, without delay,

Pelias eyed him and deliberated

And a laborious voyage formulated 20

That, being thrown amongst barbarian men

Or sailing on the sea, never again

Might he behold his native land. It’s stated

By ancient bards that Argos fabricated

The ship with Athene’s help. Now let me be

The bard who sings the heroes’ ancestry,

Their names, the lengthy voyage, all that they

Achieved while on they wandered. To my lay

May the Muses lend their hand. Initially,

I’ll sing of Orpheus whom Calliope, 30

They say, produced close to Pimpleis’ height,

When she with Oiagrus had spent a night

Of love, the Cretan. With his songs’ sweet sound

The harsh rocks of the mountains all around

He pacified, the rivers too, they say.

Wild oaks, still tokens of his songs today,

Growing on Thracian Zone’s shore, close stand

In rows, which Orpheus from the Pierian land

Conducted thither with his soothing lute.

And Aeson’s son received him at the suit 40

Of Chiron (he then held supremacy

Throughout Pieria) so he could be

A sharer in his toils. There went as well

Asterion, who by the whirling swell

Of Apidanus’ streams first saw the light

(His father Kometes within the sight

Of Mt. Phyes then dwelt – Peiresiae

Was his abode: bonding as one nearby

In deluge teemed great Apidanus and

Mighty Enipeus), then, to join their band 50

Polyphemus came, the son of Eilatus,

Who once had fought among the vigorous

Lapiths against the Centaurs. Now, despite

Stiff limbs, his spirit still retained its might.

Nor was Iphiclus left in Phylace

For long (Aeson had wed Alcimede,

His sister, there – with this as stimulation,

He entered into the association).

Nor did the ruler of sheep-rich Pherae,

Admetus, stay beneath the mountain high 60

Above Chalkodon. Nor yet in Alope

Did those two men well-versed in trickery,

Hermes’s sons, Erytus and Echion,

Each corn-rich, stay behind, and boldly on,

To keep them company, with them one more -

Their kin, whom Phthian Eupolemeia bore

To Aithalus, where Amphryssos sweeps on,

Myrmidon’s child; those two were each the son

Of Antianeira, child of Menetes.

And then came Coronus, as well as these, 70

The son of Kaineus, leaving rich Gyrton,

A stalwart man but in this not alone –

His father equalled him in gallantry.

Caineus, it is preserved in poetry,

Was killed by the Centaurs, while he was aside

From the other leaders, routing far and wide

The foe. In flight they could not move nor slay

The man – unbowed unbowed and underneath the clay.

Engulfed in sturdy pines. Then Mopsus went,

From Titarus, who was pre-eminent 80

In augury, tutored by Leto’s son.

Eurymadas was yet another one,

The child of Ctimenus: in Ctimene,

In Dolope, in the vicinity

Of Lake Xynias, he dwelt. To co-exist

With leaders, Actor sent into the list

Menoitius from their home in Opoeis.

Teleus’ son Eurytion took his place

As well, and stout Eurybates, the son

Of Actor’s son Iros. Another one 90

Was Oileus, an expert in soldiery,

Well-skilled in striking at the enemy,

Breaking their ranks. Also Canethus sent

Euboean Kanthos, keen and vehement

(Abantias was his grandfather). To see

Cerinthus once again grim Destiny

Would not allow. For he would evermore,

With prophet Mopsus, on the distant shore

Of Libya lie slain. No agony’s

Too great for mortals since for even these 100

Is Libya their grave – as far away

From Colchis as the rising of the day

Is from the setting sun. There Clytius

And Iphitus, sons of rich Eurytus,

Oechalia’s lords, foregathered (his own bow

Apollo gave to Eurytus, although

He had no joy of it, for willingly

He clashed with him who gave it). Subsequently

Came the Ajaxes, not in unison

Nor from the same place, for they both had gone 110

To live far from Aegina, having slain

Phocus, their brother, a deed quite insane.

Peleus now lived in Phthia, Telamon

Still on the isle. The child of Teleon,

Bold Boutes from Cecropia, also went,

And spearsman Phaleros, for Alcon sent

Him there, his father. No more sons had he

To care for him in his senility.

Young and an only child, yet nonetheless

He sent him that he might show worthiness 120

Among bold heroes. Under Taenarus

Theseus, who was the most illustrious

Of the Erechtheids, had been restrained

By dark chains, for the same path he’d maintained

As Peirithus. Both, by their industry,

Would have effected, with them all to see,

A better outcome. Tiphys, Hagnias’ child,

Predictor of when surging seas grow wild,

Of storms and when the time is right to sail,

Left Thespian Siphaes. Of avail 130

In urging him to join the hero throng

Was Athene, she herself going along,

A welcome friend. She was the very one

To build the swift ship, though Arestor’s son,

Argos, was her assistant. The best ship

It was of all that ever made a trip.

From Aerithyrea to join them there

Was Pthlias who, through Dionysus’s care,

His father, near the springs of Asopus

Settled in riches. Then, too, Tanaus 140

And Areius, Bias’s sons, who went

From Argos, also the magnificent

Leodokos, the issue of Pero,

Neleus’s daughter; she caused grievous woe

To Melampus of Aeolia when he

Strove in Iphiclus’ stables. Nor do we

Believe stout-hearted Heracles had spurned

Determined Jason’s call. No, when he learned

Of heroes gathering while on his way

To Argos from Arcadia that day, 150

A live boar in his arms, which until then

Had grazed the pasture in Lampeia’s glen,

In the great Erymanthian morass,

And reached Mycenae’s agora, that mass

Of trussed-up boar he dropped and with a will

Took off (although Eurystheus took it ill).

Young Hylas, too, went with him, a true friend,

To bear his arrows and his bow to tend.

Then Nauplius, who was from the holy race

Of Danaus: his ancestry we trace 160

Through Clytonaeos and through Naubolos,

And Lernus and Proitos and Nauplius:

Poseidon’s wife, Danaan Amymone,

Bore him, a man who gained supremacy

In seamanship. Last of the Argive men,

Idmon, had known through augury even then

His fate, yet went so that the Argive race

Might not begrudge that he would earn a place

Among the heroes. Abas, though, was not

His actual father – he had been begot 170

By Leto’s son, among the celebrated

Aeolians revered and educated

By Leto’s son himself in prophecy,

In avian auspices and augury

Through fire. Then Aetolian Leda pressed

To join the throng from Sparta in the west

Castor and stout Pollux, masterly

With winged steeds; extended pregnancy

Produced them in the House of Tyndareus

And in one birth; she managed to induce 180

Their going, for the thoughts that she possessed

Fit well a bride of Zeus. To join the rest,

From Arene Lynceus and proud Idas went,

Apharitos’s sons, both confident

In their great might. If rumour tells no lies,

Lynceus had such perceptive eagle eyes

That they could penetrate the earth below.

Then Periclymenos was keen to go,

The eldest august Neleus had begot

In Argos: it had been his happy lot 190

That Lord Poseidon gave him boundless might,

Allowing him to take on in each fight

What shape he chose. Amphidamas went, too,

And Kepheus from Arcadia, both who

Lived in Tegea, on Apheidas’ land,

Both sons of Aleus, and, close at hand,

Ancaeos, who was sent to Lycourgos,

Their elder brother, sire to Ancaeos,

But he was left behind that he might tend

The aged Aleos, though glad to send 200

Ancaeus with his brothers. At their side

He was wrapped in a Maenalian bear-hide,

A massive, two-edged axe in his right hand,

For, to prevent his entering that band,

His grandfather had, deep within his den,

Concealed his arms. Augeias followed then

(Eëlius’ son, they say) – he was the king

Of Eleia, in riches glorying.

He longed to see Colchis and Aeëtes,

The ruler of that country. Next to these 210

Asterios and Amphion appeared,

The sons of Hyperasius, both reared

In Achaean Pellene, founded by

Their grandfather and perching way up high

Upon Aegalios. Leaving the land

Of Taenarus, Euphemos joined that band,

Poseidon’s son – Europe gave him birth,

Stout Tityos’s daughter – on this earth

No-one was swifter: on the grey-green sea

He sped and such was his rapidity 220

Only his toes got wet. Another two

Of Lord Poseidon’s sons then joined the crew:

From great Miletus’ city, Erginus

Arrived, as well as mighty Ankaeus,

Who left behind Parthenia, the land

Of Imbrian Hera, both with great command

Of seamanship and war. From Calydon

Stout Meleager went, Laocoön

As well, Oineus’s sons: the latter, though,

Was born of a mother whose status was low 230

(She was a slave). Oineus had him conveyed,

Now getting old, to be Meleager’s aide.

Still young himself, he joined the gallant team

Of heroes. There’d be no-one, I esteem,

Excepting Heracles, who could transcend

That man, had he but seen one more year’s end

With the Aetolians. Now Iphiclus,

His uncle and the son of Thestius,

Accompanied him, skilled in both hand-to-hand

And javelin. With him, to join the band, 240

There also went one Pylaemonius,

The son of Lernus from Olenios

(Or so it has been said, but actually

His father was Hephaestus). Therefore he

Was crippled in one foot, though there was none

Dared fault the great strength of Hephaestus’ son:

He too was added to that company

Of leaders, boosting the celebrity

Of Jason. From Phocia went Iphitus,

Born of Naubolus, son of Omytus 250

Who had been Jason’s host some time before

When he had gone to Pytho to explore

A forecast for a future odyssey

And offered him his hospitality.

Then went Zetes and Kalaïs, two more,

Boreas’s sons, whom Oreithyuia bore,

Erechtheus’ child, far off in wintry Thrace

(And from Cecropia in his firm embrace

He snatched her when he saw her dance and sway

Near Iphissos). He took her far away  260

To where there stands the Rock of Sarpedon,

Where Erigonus’ streams meander on,

And took her, hiding her beneath the screen

Of dusky vapours. Now they could be seen,

Their ankles shaking wings of ebony,

With scales of gold, a wondrous thing to see.

All down their backs, from head and neck, dark hair

Hither and yon would flutter in the air.

Stout Peleas’ son Acastus would be gone,

Not staying home, and he who waited on 270

Athene, Argos. Therefore they both planned

To be included in the hero-band.

All these were met, Jason’s authorities.

Those dwelling thereabouts called all of these

Great leaders Minyans, because the most

And best could from Minyas’ daughters boast

Their heritage. Thus Jason was the son

Of Alcimede, who had been just one

Of Minyas’ daughters, Clymene. Each maid

Had readied everything that should be laid 280

Within the ships when men must sail the seas,

Then through the city these celebrities

Went to their ships where that part of the coast

Is called Magnesian Pagasae; a host,

A very host, went with them. Stars that glow

Among the clouds they seemed. Seeing them go,

All armed, each man said: “Zeus, what’s Pelias

Up to? Where is he sending this huge mass

From all of Greece? They’d burn in just one day

Aeëtes’ halls with deadly fire if they 290

Did not receive from his consenting hand

The fleece. The ships, however, must be manned,

The venture will be hard.” From here and there

The city heard these words. Into the air

The women often raised their hands and prayed

To the immortals that they lend their aid

For a successful outcome. They all sighed,

Lamenting to each other as they cried:

“Sad Alcimede, pain is yours, though late.

Unhappy old age has become your fate. 300

Aeson as well, poor Aeson! It would be

Far better that, not knowing misery,

Before this day beneath the earth he lay,

Wrapped in his shroud. Thus Phrixus, on that day

Young Helle died, should, ram and all, have met

A Stygian engulfing wave. And yet

An evil, mortal-sounding augury

For Alcimede forecast misery

And countless woes thereafter.” As the men

Departed, thus the women spoke. By then 310

A host of slaves had gathered. There, also,

Came Jason’s grieving mother. There was woe

In every woman’s heart. Bowed down with years,

His father, closely wrapped in bed, shed tears

With them. But Jason then soothed their heartache

And cheered them, ordering the slaves to take

The weapons up: this silently they did

And sadly. First of all his mother slid

Her arms about her son, vociferously

Weeping, just as a maiden tenderly 320

Will fall upon her white-haired nurse, bereft,

And grieve, when there’s no other servant left

To aid her, living now an onerous life

Under her stepmother who turns the knife

With many fresh abuses, while her core

Is bound with woe while she bemoans once more

Each slight, nor can she utter every groan

That struggles in her throat. Thus did she moan

And cradle Jason and, in yearning, say

These words: ‘My child, would that upon that day 330

I heard King Pelias’s vile decree

I had expired, forgetting misery,

That you your dear self might put me to rest –

The only hope I’ve left: I have been blessed

By all the other fruits. Once so respected

Among Achaean women, now neglected,

Left like a slave within this empty palace,

Pining for you, the dupe of fate so callous:

Through you I had renown and majesty,

For you alone my prized virginity 340

I lost: you were my one and only one:

Eileithyuia begrudged me any son

Or daughter after you. Alas! I never,

Not even in my dreams, imagined ever

Phrixus’s flight could bring me misery.”

She and her women-servants vehemently

Thus mourned. But Jason tenderly addressed her:

“Dear mother, don’t let such resentment fester

Within your heart; tears won’t erase your sorrow,

But rather you’ll be dealt more pain tomorrow. 350

The gods give unseen grief to men: forebear

To weep, although your heart be filled with care.

Bear up and trust Athene’s guarantees

As well as the celestial prophecies

(For Phoebus augurs great prosperity)

And then the chieftains’ aid. Stay quietly

At home, you and your maids; pray, do not show

Yourself a fateful bird to the Argo.

With me shall go my servants and my kin.”

He spoke these words and set out from within 360

The house. As from a temple odorous

With balm Apollo sets out for Delos,

That holy isle, or Claros, or Pytho,

Or Lycia, that spacious land, where flow

The streams of Xanthos, thus he went among

The crowd of people and, from out that throng

There rose a mighty shout. Then the priestess

Of Artemis, the town’s benefactress,

Old Iphias there met him: as that band

Of people ran ahead, she kissed his hand. 370

She could not speak, though eager to, but she

Was pushed aside and, as the elderly

Are treated by the young, was left forsaken.

He was soon far away. When he had taken

The path of well-built city streets to reach

The place they called the Pagasaean beach,

His comrades welcomed him, all packed aboard

The Argo; then he stood before this horde

Right at the entrance, so they gathered there

And stood before him. They were all aware 380

Of Argos and Acastus making right

For them straight from the city in despite

Of Pelias. Argos wore a bull’s hide,

Arestor’s son, floor-length, black on one side

With hair. A lovely cloak he wore as well

From his child Pelopeia. Jason would not tell

Them anything they asked but made them go

And sit, assembled. Each then, in his row,

They sat upon the folded sail and mast.

Then Jason kindly spoke: “All’s firm and fast – 390

Our naval needs are all in readiness.

Let us make no delay – the breezes bless

Our ship. So, friends – for all of us have planned

To journey back as well as to the land

Of Aeëtes – let’s vote unstintingly,

To be the leader of this odyssey,

The bravest man to care for everything

And take our covenants and quarrelling

With enemies upon himself.” At that,

To the courageous Heracles, who sat 400

Amongst them, all the young men turned their eyes

And bade him with one shout up to the skies

To lead them. He extended his right hand

From where he sat and said: “Such a command

Of high esteem let none put upon me.

You’ll not persuade me. I shall also see

That none else will stand up. Let him who brought

Us here command the host.” A noble thought!

As he had ordered them, they acquiesced.

Bold Jason, glad at heart, rose and addressed 410

Them in their eagerness: “If you commend

Me for this honour, let there be an end

To more delay. Let’s show our piety

To Phoebus with incense and instantly

Prepare a meal. When those who oversee

My quarters, whose responsibility

Is to decide which oxen to convey

Hither, my slaves, arrive, let’s all away,

Dragging our ship down to the sea, and tote

All arms aboard and each one cast a vote 420

For the benches and along the waterline

To Phoebus Embrasius let’s build a shrine –

He promised by a prophecy the way

Across the sea to show – that thus I may

Begin my toil for Pelias the King

With sacrifice. “ Straight to his labouring

He turned and they all rose obediently

And piled their clothes on a smooth stone the sea

Did not approach (but in the distant past

The wintry waves had cleansed it). Hard and fast 430

They bound the ship, at Argos’s command,

With twined rope, stretching it in a tight band

On either side so that the planks may be

Well-nailed and face the lashing of the sea.

Straightway they dug a ship-wide waterway

Which stretched her journey’s length into the bay,

Dragged by their hands. Ahead of her they made

Deeper and deeper furrows while they laid

Smooth rollers on them. On the first of these

They dipped her so she should be borne with ease 440

While gliding on. High up on either side

They turned the oars and fitted them inside

The oarlocks so they stretched one cubit’s span,

And then in rows they settled, every man,

And pushed with chest and arms. Tiphys got on

To urge the youths to row in unison.

He shouted loudly, and immediately

In one great thrust with all their energy

They moved the Argo, giving her her head

By straining with their feet, and on she sped. 450

All yelled and ran on either side, elated.

Beneath the sturdy keel the rollers, grated,

Emitted groans. Due to the gravity,

Dark smoke gushed forth, and down into the sea

She slipped. They held her back as on she went.

Oars fitted, they placed each accoutrement,

The mast, the well-made sails on board. But when

All things were well attended to, why then

The benches were by lots all allocated,

Two men per bench, though one was designated – 460

The very centre one – for Heracles

And Ancaius, apart from all of these

Others (the latter was a resident

Of Tegea). An outright settlement –

No lot – gave them alone the middle row;

With one accord they voted to bestow

On Tiphys the responsibility

Of steering the well-keeled ship. Then, by the sea

They piled up stones and built on the seaboard

An altar to Apollo as the Lord 470

Of Shores and Embarkation. Soon they spread

Dried olive-logs on top. Two steers were led

By Jason’s herdsmen from the herd, and then

These were dragged forward by the younger men

Near to the altar. Barley was conveyed

And holy water, too. Then Jason prayed

To Apollo, his ancestral deity:

“O lord, who dwell in Pagasae, hear me,

O lord, who in Aesonis also dwell,

Named for my father, you who vowed to tell 480

How we should find and win our cherished aim

When to your Pythian oracle I came –

You were the cause of this our expedition –

Keep us, as on we sail, in sound condition,

Take us and bring us back. For each of us

Returning, just so many glorious

Bulls shall be sacrificed to you. As well,

I’ll carry countless gifts to where you dwell –

Ortygia and Pytho. Phoebus, King,

Far-Shooter, come, accept this offering, 490

First given as our fare. Grant that I may

Unloose the ropes and thus get underway

Unscathed, and may there be a gentle breeze

To help us make our way on quiet seas.”

He spoke and cast the barley with this prayer.

And then those two great men made to prepare

To kill the sacrifices, Heracles

And proud Ancaius; and while one of these,

The former, clubbed one smartly on the head

So that at once it sank and lay there dead, 500

The other’s spacious neck was lacerated

By Ancaius who quickly penetrated

With his bronze axe the tough, resilient

Sinews and, holding both its horns, he sent

It sprawling. Then their comrades swiftly ripped

Their throats apart and then their hides they stripped,

Sundered the joints, then carved the flesh, then tore

Apart the sacred thigh-bones; furthermore

They smothered all in fat and set it aflame

On cloven sticks of wood. Then Jason came 510

And poured unmixed libations; standing there,

Idmon rejoiced, beholding everywhere

The glowing sacrificial conflagration,

Auspicious smoke in purplish gyration

Arising. With blunt speed he spoke the bent

Of Leto’s son: “It is the gods’ intent

And destiny that you the fleece convey

Hither, though countless trials on your way

Will hound you. But there is a god’s decree

That must one day prove terrible to me, 520

Condemning me to die far, far away

On mainland Asia. Thus before today

I learned from evil auguries my fate

Yet boarded ship that I might generate

Fame for my house.” Hearing the prophecy,

The youths expressed their great felicity

At their return but grieved at Idmon’s fate.

So when the sun had passed the midday’s date

And boulders now were just about to shade

The fields in darkness and the sun to fade 530

Beneath the evening dusk, they thickly spread

A bower of leaves and lay down on that bed

In ranks just where the breakers reached the shore,

With food and honeyed wine, a spacious store,

The goblet-bearers having drawn the wine

Into their pitchers, then line after line,

They told such tales as youths often relate

When wine and viands pleasurably sate

And ravenous insolence is then elsewhere.

Then Jason, at a loss, weighed every care 540

Like someone troubled. Taking him to task

On seeing this, said Idas: “May I ask,

Son of Aeson, what scheme is in your head?

Tell all. Have you been overcome with dread,

Which cows all cowards? Witness, my staunch spear,

With which I win illustriousness clear

Beyond them all against my foes (not Zeus

Himself has ever been of greater use

Than has my spear), no pain proving to be

A fatal one, each risk destined to see 550

Fulfilment while Idas is close at hand.

That’s the ally you brought here from the land

Of Arene.” With these words a brimming cup

He grasped with both his hands and swallowed up

The unmixed wine, his lips and dark cheeks wet

With purple residue. Each man then let

A shout out, and Idmon spoke openly:

“You fool, you plan before your destiny

Your own destruction. Your stout heart’s distended

With unmixed wine: your life will soon be ended. 560

Dare you insult the gods? Some words of ease

May cheer a friend but haughty words are these,

Such as the sons of Aloeus, they say,

Once blurted out against the gods, and they

Were mightier than you. They were snuffed out

By Phoebus’s swift arrow, strong and stout

Though they had been.” Then Idas lengthily

Guffawed, then looked askance and stingingly

Replied: “Come, tell me through your prophecy 570

That by your father was granted those two

And say how these two hands will suffer you

Safely to dodge them both if you are seen

To be a charlatan.” Such was his spleen

In his reproach. More railing they’d have heard

Had not their comrades – Jason too – deterred

With shouts their scrap. Orpheus began to sing,

Holding his lyre, his theme the severing,

After destructive strife, of earth and sea

And sky, once fastened in one entity, 580

And how the sun’s paths, moon and stars up high

Had each its permanent locus in the sky:

The mountains rose, and every creeping thing

And rivers, with their nymphs, all clamouring

Then came alive. He sang how Ophion

And Ocean’s Eurynome first held the throne

In cloudy Olympus; Cronus snatched the sway

From one, and Rhea from the other; they

(That is Ophion and Euronyme)

Fell into Ocean. This authority 590

Over the blessed Titans was maintained

While Zeus was yet a child and entertained

Nothing but childish notions and still dwelt

In the Dictaean cave nor had been dealt

The bolt with thunder and lightning supplied

By the earthborn Cyclopes: these things provide

Zeus with renown.” At this he stayed his lyre

And his sweet voice, though all were still afire

To hear, bent forwards, pricking up each ear

In fascination, so great was the cheer 600

His singing left behind. Subsequently

They mixed libations, as is customary,

To Zeus; upon the flaming tongues it streamed.

They settled down for sleep. Bright Dawn now gleamed

On Pelion’s steep rocks with eyes that flashed,

And the calm headlands now were being splashed

By the seas unsettled by the wind’s attack.

Tiphys awoke and bade the men go back

On board and prime the oars. At Pagasae

The port and Argo cried a dreadful cry, 610

Urging departure. For a sacred spar

Had been sunk in her, brought there from afar

By Athena from a Dodonan oak which she

Had planted in her stem. Then orderly,

In single file, they then took up each row,

All which had been assigned some time ago,

And sat beside their arms, then came along

Ancaeus and stout Heracles among

That host; the latter placed beneath his heel

His club, which quite submerged the Argo’s keel. 620

The ropes were being slipped, while on the foam

Wine-offerings were poured. But Jason’s home

And country he averted from his sight.

Then they, just as a gang of young men might

Arrange for Phoebus in Pytho a dance,

Or in Ortygia, or yet, perchance,

Beside Ismenus’ stream, and to the sound

Of lyres round the altar beat the ground

Harmoniously with rapid feet, so they

Beat the tempestuous waters of the bay 630

To Orpheus’ lyre with their oars, each blade

Awash with surf, whose jet-black waters made

A gushing roar, engendered by the might

Of sturdy heroes. Armour shimmered bright

Like flames as on she sped, and far behind

Their wake gleamed white as you perhaps might find

A pathway through a green plain. On that day

All gods looked earthwards upon that display

Of ship and mighty half-divinities,

The bravest who then sailed upon the seas. 640

The nymphs of Pelion looked on, surprised,

From their high peaks at what had been devised

By Itonian Athena, as they plied

The oars; Chiron came to the Oceanside.

The son of Philyra, from his great height

And where the breakers crashed upon the bight,

He dipped his feet. Waving his heavy hand

A score of times he shouted to the band

And bade them safe return. His consort bore

Achilles and held out the infant for 650

Peleus, his sire, to see. So now when they

Had left behind the harbour’s curving bay,

Through warlike Tiphys’ plan, who skilfully

Handled the polished helm that he might be

A steadfast guide, they place the mighty mast

Straight into the cross-beam and tied it fast

On either side with mainstays, then let down

The sail once they had raised it to the crown

Of the masthead. Then there came a piping wind.

Upon the deck they separately pinned 660

The ropes with polished clasps, then peacefully

Sped by the long Tisaean promontory.

And then Oiagrus’ son took up his lyre

And sang the daughter of a noble sire,

The ship-protecting Artemis whose care

Were those sea-peaks and Iolcus, and this air

Was sweetly sung. The fish beneath the deep,

Both large and small at once, would dart and leap

Among those watery paths. So, just as when

Large flocks will trail their shepherds to the pen, 670

Sated with pasture, while he pipes a high

Bucolic tune, those fishes followed nigh,

While constant breezes bore her swiftly on.

Suddenly the Pelasgian land was gone,

Corn-rich and misty, out of sight, and they

Now passed the Pelian crags while on their way

They sped. The Sepian headland lost to view,

Sciathus loomed ahead, Piresias too,

And the serene Magnesian shore and where

Dolops was buried. Then at eve the air 680

Began to blow them backwards, so, that night,

They roasted sheep in sacrificial rite

To honour him nearby the swelling sea.

There on the shoreline in tranquillity

They sojourned for two days: the following day

They hoisted their huge sail and sped away.

Still do they call that beach-head Aphetae

Of Argo. Thence they hastened, passing by

Meliboea as its stormy shore they spied.

Then they at dawn came to the seaside 690

Port of Homole, and soon they would go by

Amyros’ streams, and then Eurymenae

They’d see as well as the well-sluiced ravines

Of Ossa and Olympus, hilly scenes

In Pallene, the hillocks hovering

Above Canastra: with the fluttering

Of winds they sped beyond them in the night.

Now Thracian Athos’ peak at morning light

Appeared: its top left Lemnos, obfuscated

As far as Myrine, though separated 700

From them as far as any merchantman,

Well-trimmed, sails till midday – a goodly span.

Then and into the night there came a blast

That strongly blew, the sails upon the mast

Ballooning. With the setting of the sun

The breezes ceased and then they came upon

The rocky isle of Sintians, Lemnos.

The year gone by they’d suffered a huge loss –

All of the men, due to the lechery

Of women, were victims of butchery. 710

Their lawful wives in hatred they’d repelled

And for their captive women now they held

An ardent passion, while upon their raids

In Thrace they seized and brought across these maids.

The dreadful wrath of Cypris they had earned

Because for many years now they had spurned

To render her her due. O ravenous

And to your own misfortune envious,

You wretched women! Not only each mate

And captive-maid did they obliterate 720

For their adultery but, so they may

For their foul deeds  no retribution pay,

All males as well. One man received a pass –

Hypsipyleia rescued old Thoas,

Her father, king of that community:

She found a chest and pushed it out to sea

With him inside to save him from the slaughter.

Oenoean fishers pulled him from the water

(The isle was Sicinos, though, latterly,

Because the water-nymph called Oenoe 730

Bore him of Thoas). Now a cowherd’s care,

Donning bronze armour, using the ploughshare

In cornfields for them all was easier

Than were Athena’s works which earlier

They had been busy with. But constantly

They looked with pitiful dread upon the sea

For fear of Thracians. So when they espied

The Argo pulling close they rushed outside

The gates, all armed, and dashed down to the strand

Like raging Bacchants. Thracians in our land! 740

They thought. With them Hypsipyleia wore

Her father’s arms as they began to pour

Out, helpless, speechless, hemmed in by unease.

The leaders then sent out Aethalides,

Their speedy herald who was in command

Of messages and carried in his hand

His father Hermes’ sceptre (for him he

Had gained a comprehensive memory,

An ageless gift). Although to Acheron

And its repellent eddies he had gone, 750

Forgetfulness had not planted its seed

Yet in his soul, though it had been decreed

That she is always moving here and there,

Sometimes beneath the earth and sometimes where

Men dwell under the sun. But why should I

Tell lengthy tales of him?  The day gone by

And creeping into night, he coaxed her then

To let ashore and entertain the men.

Nor did they loose the ropes at break of day.

The women of the island went away 760

Up to the city where they settled down

Within the meeting-place inside the town

At her command. Then to the congregation

At once she gave a spirited oration:

“My friends, let us give gifts that will content

These men, gifts fit for sailors, nourishment,

Sweet wine, that they resolve to stay beyond

Our towers nor create too great a bond,

Out of necessity, with us and thus

Provoke much talk. A dreadful deed by us 770

Was done, which would not please them if they knew it.

Such is our plan now: having listened to it,

If you know of a better, rise, for that

Is why I called you hither.” Then she sat

Back down upon her father’s stone-built seat.

But then her darling nurse got to her feet,

Polyxo, whose old legs had grown so bent

That she but limped as on her staff she leant,

Eager to speak. There were sat near her there

Four unwed maids with blond and downy hair. 780

She stood among them, slowly raised her head

Above her crooked back and thus she said:

“Let us send presents to these foreign men,

As Madam wishes – it were better then.

What’s your survival plan if we’re brought low

By Thracian soldiers or some other foe,

As often happens? Unexpectedly

Did they arrive. If some divinity

Relieves us now, much woe is still ahead,

Worse than mere battles, when old ones are dead 790

And you young maids, still childless, then arrive

At hateful old age? How will you survive

In wretchedness? Will oxen, yoked by you

To the deep plough, of their accord cut through

The fallow? At the ending of the year

Will they, with no ado, harvest each ear

Of corn? Till now the Fates have bypassed me

In horror, yet next year I well may be

Clothed in earth’s garments, with my share of rites,

As it should be, before the blackest nights 800

Appear. You younger ones, I beg, take heed

Of what I say. A chance of being freed

Lies at your feet: turn over to the crew

The care of home, stock, glorious city, too.”

The place was filled with shouts: they liked this speech.

Hypsipyle leapt fast into the breach

And said: “If all of you approve this plea,

I’ll send an envoy to the company.”

At that, she said to one who sat nearby,

Iphinoë: “Iphinoë, go hie 810

You to that man (their leader, I surmise);

Tell him to come here that I may apprise

Him of some news that our community

Will love, and bid them enter fearlessly

Our land and town, if that’s their inclination.”

With these words she dismissed the convocation

And set off home, and to the Minyae

Went Iphinoë. They inquired why

She came. Quickly she said: “Hypsipyle,

Thoas’s child, said our community 820

Will love the news the leader of your band

Shall hear from me – you may enter our land,

Our town, if that you wish, and feel no fear.”

Her happy words filled all of them with cheer.

Since Thoas was deceased, Hypsipyle

They deemed was now their queen, thus speedily

They sent their chief and started to prepare

To go themselves. He buckled, then and there,

A two-fold purple cloak, Athena-wrought,

Upon his shoulders, which she once had brought 830

To give to Jason when she first had laid

The keel-props of the Argo and had made

Him master of the art of measuring

The timbers with a rule. An easier thing

It were to watch the sun’s ascendancy

Than look upon that blazing majesty.

For in the centre it was flaming red

Yet purple at its foot and at its head,

While at each edge were fashioned skilfully

A segregated multiplicity 840

Of artworks. One beheld the Cyclopes

Applying their deathless abilities,

Fashioning a thunderbolt for Father Zeus,

Now almost finished, almost set for use:

A shaft of light was all it was without,

And this one thing was being hammered out

With iron mallets as it shot a flare

Of raging flame. Antiope’s sons were there,

Zethus and Amphion, Asopus’ brace

Of grandsons. Thebe, too, took up a space 850

Nearby, yet unprotected, whose foundation

They were just then, in keen anticipation,

Laying. Zethos was heaving shoulder-high

The peak of a steep mountain while, nearby,

With golden lyre and a loud, clear song,

Amphion led a rock that rolled along

Behind him, twice its size. Then following

Was long-tressed Cythereia, handling

Ares’ swift shield: her tunic was untied

From her left shoulder and all down that side 860

Beneath her breast. Reflected in that shield

Of bronze she stood out clear. There was a field

Of oxen, where there was a skirmishing

In place between Alectryon’s offspring

And the Teleboae, who were on a foray,

Taphian brigands, being kept at bay

By the former. With their blood the dewy lea

Was drizzling, while the majority

Conquered the fewer herdsmen. Then a race

Between two chariots upon its face 870

Was worked, Pelops, shaking the reins, before,

Hippodameia, and then yet one more,

Myrtilus, drove his horses, and, his spear

Grasped, couched, in hand, Oenomaus stood near,

Yet falling when an axle turned and split,

Though eager to stab Pelops’ back. Near it

Was wrought Apollo, yet a youth, although

A strapping lad, who’s shooting from his bow

Great Tityus who dragged audaciously

His mother  by the veil, Tityus, he 880

To whom the glorious Elare gave birth

(Though nursed and given life again by Earth),

Then Minyan Phrixus, listening, seemingly,

To a ram that seemed to talk. Were you to see

These things you’d be struck speechless and mislead

Your soul in hope that you might have indeed

Heard actual words of wisdom as you viewed

Them long and with that hopeful attitude.

These were Athena’s gifts. In his right hand

He held a lengthy spear which, in the land 890

Of Maenalus, Atalanta had bestowed,

As guest-gift, with warm greetings, for that road

Of exploration she desired to take;

Yet he prevented her, fearing she’d make

Resentful rivals in carnality.

He entered the city, glowing dazzlingly,

As though he were a star which maidens eye,

While pent in splendid huts, ascending high

Above their homes, gleaming both red and fair,

Charming their eyes as through the dark-blue air 900

It goes; each maid delights while pining for

Her youth who sojourns on a foreign shore,

For whom her parents keep him for his bride.

Thus he approached the city. In a tide

Its women surged behind him, revelling

In him. He went straight on, though, focussing

His eyes upon the ground, until he came

To Hypsipyle’s mansion of glorious fame.

When he appeared her servants opened wide

The double doors which had been beautified 910

With well-wrought panels, and then, straightaway

Leading him through a handsome passageway,

Iphinoë placed him on a gleaming seat

Facing her mistress, who down at her feet

Now cast her eyes while blushing prettily;

And yet she spoke, for all her modesty,

With crafty words: “Why stay so long out there,

Stranger, beyond our walls? Not anywhere

Will you see men residing in this place:

They plough their wheat-filled furrows out in Thrace 920

As immigrants. I’ll tell you of our hell

That you might know it all and know it well.

Thoas, my father, once was ruler here:

Back then our men would sometimes disappear

And plunder from their ships the habitations

In Thrace (there’s little space between our nations)

And brought back loot aplenty, maids as well;

Deadly Cypris was planning to propel

Her scheme which brought lethal infatuation

To them. There now evolved a detestation 930

Of their true wives: to madness giving way,

They threw them out and took their spear-won prey

Into their beds, the rogues. We stuck it out

For some time, hoping that they’d start to doubt

Their choice. This bitter plight, however, grew

And doubled. In the halls their children, too,

Were treated badly, and a bastard race

Sprang up, and thus there roamed throughout this place

Each widowed mother and unmarried maid.

No heed, however fleetingly, was paid 940

By fathers to their daughters, in despite

Of evil stepmothers, before their sight,

Murdering them; and, not as formerly,

Mothers against such foul indignity

Received no help from sons; there was no care

Of brother for sister: and everywhere,

At home or in the dance, a convocation

Or at a feast, their one consideration

Would be their concubines. Eventually

Some god gave them a desperate bravery 950

No longer to allow them back when they

Returned from Thrace, that they might choose the way

Of right or, with their captive-maids, take sail

And leave. They begged of us each infant male

Left in the city, then took off. So now

They still reside in Thrace and ply the plough

On snowy fields. Stay here, and, should you yearn

To do so and it pleases you, you’ll earn

My father Thoas’ privilege. You’ll not,

I think, despise our land, for it has got 960

A deeper soil in the Aegean Sea

Than any other isle. Listen to me,

Go to your ship, relate all that I say

To your companions; do not stay away

Beyond our walls.” These were her words, but she

Did not disclose to him the butchery

Of all their men. He answered: “Very dear

Is the support you offer to us here,

For we’re in need of you, Hypsipyle.

I shall return when I accordingly 970

Have told them all. Continue to possess

The island’s sovereignty: no scornfulness

Provokes my yielding it, but I’m impelled

To grievous woes.” He spoke and briefly held

Her right hand, then set off back; all around

There whirled about him with a joyful sound

The countless maidens until he had cleared

The gates. Then later on they all appeared

On smoothly-running wagons on the beach

With many gifts (by now he’d told them each 980

And every thing she’d said). Then readily

They took them to their homes for company.

For Cypris gave to them a sweet allure,

For the sake of wise Hephaestus, to ensure

That Lemnos, uneradicated, be

Inhabited by men eternally.

Then Jason for the regal residence

Of Hypsipyle set out. As providence

Dictated, all the others went their way,

Except for Heracles, who chose to stay 990

With just a few picked friends. Immediately

The whole town danced and feasted joyously,

And all around them sacrificial savour

Was wafted here and there. They showed their favour

Above all of the other deities

To noted Ares and Cypris, for these

With sacrifice and song they adulated.

Day followed day while they procrastinated

Their setting sail. A long time they’d have dallied

In idleness had Heracles not harried 1000

Them all, far from the womenfolk, and thus

Rebuked them: “Wretches, is this keeping us,

From home, this kindred-butchery?  Have we

Come here to wed and make a mockery

Of our own women? Do you think it grand

To dwell here, ploughing Lemnos’ fertile land?

We’ll win no fame kept back day after day

By foreign women. After such delay

No god will grant our prayers and thus bestow

The moving fleece. Let every man, then, go 1010

Back to his own: all day let Jason lie

In bed with her until he can supply

Lemnos with men and thus achieve great fame.”

Thus he rebuked them all. A sense of shame

Caused them to drop their eyes nor would they talk.

Then from the meeting they prepared to walk.

Learning their plan, the women speedily

 Came running to them. Just as, droningly,

Bees haunt the splendid lilies when they shoot

From their rock-hive and gather the sweet fruit 1020

While dewy meadows smile, thus, sorrowing,

They streamed and thronged the heroes, welcoming

Each one with hands and voice while they implored

The gods a safe homecoming to afford.

Hypsipyle prayed too and wept to lose

Her lover: “Go,  and may the gods all choose

To grant that you may in all safety bring

The golden fleece and give it to the king,

As is your wish. This island and the sway

Of my father shall be here should you, one day, 1030

Returning, come to Lemnos. Easily

Could you amass a  goodly company

From other lands. You will not wish it, though;

I prophesy that it will not be so.

Remember me both when you’re far away

And on your homeward journey. May you say

Your wish and I will grant it readily

Should heaven grant to me maternity.”

Then Jason answered her in admiration:

“May heaven allow all this its consummation. 1040

Both think more nobly of me – by the grace

Of Pelias, to dwell in my birthplace

Is quite enough. May the gods just set me free

Of all my labours. If my destiny

Is not to see Greece more once, under sail,

I’ve travelled far, and, if you bear a male,

Send him when grown to Iolcus as relief

To my father and my mother from their grief

(If they still live) that, distanced far away

From the king, they may be cared for while they stay 1050

Within their home. “ He was the first to board,

The other chiefs behind. Each then was oared

In rows. The ship unloosed the ropes from round

The sea-girt rock. They made the sea resound

 With their long oars. At Orpheus’ decree,

That evening to Electra’s island (she

Who was Atlanta’s child) they came, that they

May learn the rites, that one may never say,

In gentleness, then cross the icy sea

In safety. You will hear no more from me 1060

Of this; however, let us say farewell

To the island and the gods that in her dwell,

The keepers of those rites, of which to sing

Is not allowed. With eager labouring

Upon the oars they crossed the deep black sea

(The land of Thrace at one extremity

And Imbrus on the other); day was through

When they reached Chersonese; upon them blew

A mild south wind, and, raising to the breeze

Their sails, they rowed to the profundities 1070

Of Athamas’s virgin child, Helle;

At dawn they left behind the northern sea,

Sailing by night past the Rhoetaean strand

With Ida on their right, their left the land

Of Dardanus and for Abydos set

Their course, then, sailing further still, they met

Percote and the sandy waterside

Of Pityeia; by night they applied

Both sail and oar and passed the dark blue sea

Of eddying Hellespont. There happens to be 1080

A steep isle in Propontis, looming near

The corn-rich Phrygia, plunging so sheer

Her isthmus is immersed. Two shores are there,

The Aesepus below them; it’s called Bear

Mountain by those who dwell around the isle;

Its own inhabitants are fierce and vile,

Earthborn, who are, to dwellers thereabouts,

A wonder to behold. Each of them sprouts

Six heavy hands – each sturdy shoulderblade

Has two, while on their dread sides are arrayed 1090

Four more. The isthmus and the plain contained

The Doliones, over whom there reigned

The son of Aeneeus and of Ainete,

Commendable Eusorus’ progeny.

Though dread, the Earthborn caused no aggravation

To them thanks to Poseidon’s preservation

From whom these people had originated.

And then, by Thracian winds accelerated,

The Argo sailed into the anchorage

Of Kalos as upon their pilgrimage 1100

They sped, and it was there that they set free

Their little anchor-stone at the decree

Of Tiphys, leaving it beneath the spring

Of Artacia; a fitter one (a thing

Much heavier) they took. Subsequently,

According to Apollo’s prophecy,

The Ionians, sons of Neleus, built of it

A temple, as is proper, right and fit,

In Jason’s Athens. Cyzicus, along

With the Doliones, in a friendly throng, 1110

Met them and when they learned of their crusade

And lineage, a cordial welcome made

And urged them to row closer and to tie

Their hawsers in their harbour, then nearby

They built an altar right upon the strand

To Phoebus, god of disembarking, and

Gave sacrifices. Of his own largess

The king supplied them in their neediness

With sheep and sweet wine (he’d heard people say

That, if a godlike army came their way, 1120

He should receive them kindly and not seek

To fight them). As with Jason, on his cheek

There grew soft down, nor yet had he the pleasure

Of fatherhood, and in domestic leisure

His wife lived free of childbirth’s misery,

Percopian Merops’s progeny,

Fair-haired Cleite, whom from the opposite land,

With countless gifts, winning the lady’s hand,

He‘d just from her father brought. He left her bed

And chamber, then he organized a spread 1130

For them and cast all terror from his heart.

They asked each other questions. For his part,

He learned their quest and Pelias’ decree,

While they each bay of the Propontic Sea,

So broad, and neighbour cities learned, although

He could not tell them more, howeverso

They longed to hear. The dawn saw them ascend

Great Dindymum so they some time might spend

In scanning for themselves each passageway

Upon that sea, and then they made their way 1140

To Chytus Port from where they first had bound

Their hawsers, and the passage that they found

Was called Jasonian Way. But then there ran

From the far side of the isle each Earthborn man

Down from the mountain and with rocks below

Blocked up the mouth of vast Chytus, as though

They lay in wait for beasts inside their den.

But Heracles, left with the younger men,

Drew back his arching bow immediately,

Plunging them earthwards individually. 1150

They, in their turn, raised jagged rocks and threw

Them. Zeus’s wife, dread Hera, I construe,

Had nurtured them to be a cause of woe

To Heracles. Back then, to meet the foe,

Came all the rest before they’d reached the height

Of outlook, mighty heroes all, to fight

And slay the Earthborn, spears, and darts as well,

Impaling them till each and every knell

Was knolled among them. As woodcutters throw

Tall, newly-cut tress row on mounting row 1160

Upon the beach that they, once drenched in brine,

May be fast-bolted, so, line after line,

At the foam-skirted harbour-mouth they lay,

Some with both head and breast bent to the spray

In heaps, their limbs spread out upon the strand,

Some with their heads resting upon the sand,

Feet in the deep, to birds and fish left there

As prey. The heroes, once the armed affair

Was over, loosed their hawsers to the breeze

And sailed on through the swelling of the seas. 1170

All day they sped by sail; at the advent

Of night the breezes failed and back they went,

Impelled by adverse winds, and they once more

Arrived at the kindly Doliones’ shore.

That night they disembarked:             The Sacred Rock

Is still its name. Then quickly to the dock

They lashed their hawsers. No-one was aware

It was the same isle, and that they were there

The Doliones in the dark of night

Had no clear knowledge, thinking that they might 1180

Be the warlike Macrians. They armed and raced

At them; with shields and spears each faction faced

The other like a fervid fire’s rush

That plunges down upon some barren brush.

A fierce and violent disquieting

Fell on the Doliones. Their own king

Would not escape his fate and go home free

From harm to his dear wife: immediately

The son of Aeson, as he wheeled around,

Impaled the king’s chest with a single bound; 1190

Around the spear the bone was shattered and,

His fate fulfilled, he rolled across the sand –

No man avoids his lot: an ample net

Is spread around us. While he hoped even yet

To dodge his bitter death, that very night

Fate tangled with him as he faced the might

Of Jason’s chiefs. More seeming enemies

Were slain: Heracles dispatched Megabrontes

As well as Teleclus; Acastus slew

Sphodris, Peleus Zelys and that man who 1120

Was swift in war, Gephyros. The king, however,

Telamon slew, that man proficient ever

With the ash-spear. Promeus and Hyacinthos

Were slaughtered by Idas and Klytius,

Phlogios by the two Tyndaridae,

And Megalossaces, two others by

The son of Oeneus, brave Itymoneus

And one of their commanders, Artaceus.

Heroic praise is given them today

By the locals. All the others ran away 1130

In fear, as doves in swarms timidly flee

The rapid hawks. They scampered noisily

Into the gates in throngs: then mournful weeping

Because of this reverse was swiftly sweeping

Throughout the city. Both sides at daybreak

Took in the fatal fault, which to unmake

Were hopeless. The heroic company

Of Minyans was gripped by misery

In seeing dead amid the dust and gore

Cyzicus, son of Aineus. Both sides tore 1140

Their hair in mourning for three days, but then

Three times in their bronze armour all the men

Paced round the tomb, performed rites for the slain

And rightly held games on the meadowy plain

Where even now this tomb can be descried

By later folk. Cleite did not abide

Long past her husband’s death, for now she found

An even greater wretchedness – she bound

A rope around her neck. Her sad demise

Even the grove-maids wept at. From their eyes 1150

What tears they shed the goddesses created

A spring they called Cleite, after the fated

Lady herself; a day of misery

It was for men and women equally

Among the Doliones: none would take

One bite of food nor, for their sorrow’s sake,

Would  undertake to labour at the mill

To grind the corn, but, so that they might still

Live on, they ate raw meat. Even today,

When the Ionian Cyzicans must pay 1160

Their annual libations for the dead,

The sacrificial cakes that must be fed

To them are made of corn that has been ground

At the common mill. Fierce storms began to pound

And lasted twelve whole days and nights, impeding

Departure. As the next night was receding,

The chieftains were asleep and as they slept

In deep repose a careful watch was kept

By Mopsus and Acastus, the issue

Of Ampycos. A kingfisher then flew 1170

Round Jason’s golden head: its piercing mew

Now prophesied good weather. Mopsus knew

The shore-bird’s omen. Some god made it turn

And, flying high, alight upon the stern.

As Jason, sleeping on soft fleeces, lay

The seer nudged him awake with no delay

And said: “O Jason, now you must repair

To stark Dindymus’ temple and, once there,

The godhead’s fair-throned queen propitiate.

The dreadful storms will cease: I heard of late 1180

The sea-bird’s cry – it told me everything

While round your sleeping self a-fluttering.

Upon the winds, upon the earth, the sea,

Snowy Olympus she has mastery.

Even the son of Cronus, Zeus, concedes

To her when from the mountains she proceeds

To mighty heaven. To this dread goddess

The other gods bestow a copiousness

Of reverence.” These words he joyed to hear.

He hurried from his bed, filled full of cheer. 1190

He roused all of his men immediately

As he sped on and told the prophecy

Of Mopsus, son of Ampycus, and then

Quickly the oxen by the younger men

Were driven from their stalls up to the tip

Of the sheer mountain; then upon the ship

They loosed the hawsers from the Holy Rock

And plied their oars to reach the Thracian dock.

They climbed the mountain, leaving but a few

Aboard. The Mithrian heights were close in view 1200

And Thrace. The misty Bosporus they spied

And Mysian heights, and on the other side

The Aesepus, the city and the plain

Of Nepeian Adrasteia. A stout skein

Of vine there was, and very old, which they

Chopped down in order that they might display

This idol for the peak’s divinity,

Which Argos chiselled very skilfully.

They placed it on the rugged hill below

Tall oaks than which no other species go 1210

So deep beneath the earth. Then alongside

They built a gravel altar, then they tied

Oak leaves around their heads and took great care

With sacrifice, intoning to the air

To call upon the Mother, nonpareil

Of Dindymum, who holds all Phrygian sway,

And Titias and Cyllenus, the possessors

Of the right to dispense doom and be assessors

Of the Idaean Mother (only they can be,

Of many, owners of this liberty), 1220

Idaean Dactyls of the Cretan land

Whom, grasping Oiaxian soil with either hand,

Anchiale bore in the Dictaian cave.

The son of Aeson prayed that she might save

Them from the storms with frequent supplications

As he poured out the glittering libations.

The young men, then, at Orpheus’s decree,

Began in armoured choreography

To move as on their shields their swords they struck

To dissipate the outcry of ill luck 1230

With which the people mourned their king. That scene

Has prompted kettledrum and tambourine

To be applied in their propitiation

Of Rhea by the Phrygian population

Even today. The goddess, I dare state,

Began to soften at those consummate

Procedures, for auspicious auguries

Appeared: abundant fruit grew on the trees,

While flowers sprang up automatically

Straight through the tender grass, while fawningly 1240

Wild beasts, their dens and thickets left behind,

Would wag their tails at men. Another find

Was marvellous to behold: for formerly

No water flowed in the vicinity

Of Dindymum, but now there gushed nonstop

Fresh water from the thirsty mountaintop.

And now its name the locals had devised

Is Jason’s Spring. So then they organized

For Rhea, queen of queens,  a solemn feast

Upon the Mount of Bears. The winds had ceased 1250

By early light and so they rowed away.

A spirit of contention rose that day

With each chief as to who would be the last

To leave his oar. A calming zephyr passed

Across the eddies, quieting the sea.

So, trusting in this new tranquillity,

They pressed the Argo: so fast did she race

That Lord Poseidon’s horses have kept pace,

Storm-footed though they were. Nevertheless

Fierce blasts that evening caused a restlessness 1260

Brought for the rivers, harrying the seas.

The chieftains, spent, retired. But Heracles

With mighty arms pulled on the weary crew:

The ship’s strong timbers shook. Now eager to

Reach Mysia, they passed Rhyndeius’ bay

And Aegaeon’s great cairn, a little way

From Phrygia. But, ploughing through the swell,

Heracles then broke his oar and sideways fell,

One piece still in his hand, the other gone,

Swept backwards by the sea-surge. He sat on 1270

In silence, glaring: inactivity

Was not his wont. That time when from the lea

The delver or the ploughman in delight

Goes to his hut, desirous of a bite

To eat, and each one bends his weary knees

Upon the threshold, caked with dust, then sees

His toil-worn hands and curses to the sky

His belly  - that was when they glided by

Cianian homes around Cius’ gateway

And Mount Arganthon. Amicably they 1280

Were welcomed by those living thereabout,

The Mysians, who to them handed out

Comestibles and wine in plenteousness

As well as sheep for they in their distress

Lacked these. Some brought dry wood, some leaves to spread

Aplenty to provide for each a bed.

Some rubbed together firesticks to afford

A flame, some mixed wine, others spread the board,

Once they had to Apollo at nightfall

Made sacrifice (for he was god of all 1290

Who sailed to sea). The son of Zeus then bade

Them to prepare the feast but then he made

His way into a wood that he might mould

An oar to fit his hand: lo and behold,

Roaming, he found a pine with branches few

And not too leafy, likening it to

The shaft of a tall poplar, for so high

And thick it was. He laid his quiver by

Posthaste, his bow as well. His lion’s hide

He doffed, and then his bronzed club he applied 1300

To it and, putting both his hands around

The trunk, he loosed the whole thing from the ground,

Relying on his strength, then, legs astride

For purchase, he upheld it on one side

Of his broad neck and ripped it totally

Skyward, though it had stood deep-rootedly

Within the earth. Just as in wintry days

Calamitous Orion starts his phase

Of setting and a sudden current shocks,

Falls on the ship’s mast and removes the blocks 1310

And stays, it was the same with Heracles.

Taking bow, darts, hide, club, with all of these

He started back. Hylas began to turn

From the heroic crew, with a bronze urn,

And sought the holy spring that he might take

Some water for the evening meal and make

All else shipshape for Heracles when he

Returned, for Heracles had similarly

Brought up the boy from early infanthood

Without his father, Theiodamas the Good 1320

Whom he over an ox slew cruelly

Among the Dryopians after he,

While ploughing fallow land, met with distress

When Heracles had, for its usefulness

For ploughing, compelled him, against his will,

To render up the ox: he yearned for ill

To the Dryopians while seeking a device

To wage a war against them for their vice.

This would, however, lead me far astray

From what I sing about. But, as I say, 1330

Hylas came to the fountain, called Pegae

By the inhabitants who lived nearby.

The dances of the nymphs were being held

Just at this time, for all three nymphs who dwelled

Upon that lovely headland took great care

Always to honour with a nightly air

Queen Artemis. Those nymphs who singled out

The peaks and dells were ranging far about

To guard the woods. A water-nymph, outside

The lovely, flowing spring, however, spied 1340

Close by, as she appeared, the ruddy lad

In comeliness and sweet enchantment clad

(For the full moon was beaming high above,

Displaying him). Cypris so filled with love

Her trembling heart that she could scarcely draw

Her breath in her confusion. When she saw

Him dip the urn into the stream as he

Leaned over and the water brimmingly

Roared as it poured around the vessel there,

She laid her left arm on his neck four-square, 1350

Agog to kiss his tender mouth: her right

She laid upon his elbow and the sprite

Pulled him into the stream. One man alone,

Eilatus’ son, Polyphemus, heard the groan

While on the path, for he was looking out

For Heracles’ return. He dashed without

Delay to Pegae like a beast that’s caught

The sound of far-off bleating, being fraught

With blazing hunger, so it turns around

But not a flock of sheep can there be found, 1360

The shepherds having driven them within,

And so he roars in an incessant din

Until he’s weary: groaning loudly thus

Did Polyphemus, son of Eilatus,

Wander about in the vicinity

And shouted while his voice rang piteously.

He drew his great sword and was on his way

For fear that Hylas be to beasts a prey

Or men might ambush him and easily

Drag him away. Then on the pathway he 1370

Met Heracles himself while brandishing

His naked sword, for in the deepening

Of night he knew him well as on he went

To the ship. He told him of the dread event

At once, his breathing laboured: “I shall be

The first to tell of dire calamity,

My poor friend; Hylas set off for the well

But has not safe returned. What man can tell

If thieves attacked and now are dragging him

Away or beasts are tearing limb from limb 1380

His corpse? I heard him cry.” That’s what he said.

When Heracles heard this, down his forehead

Ran streams of sweat, black blood was bubbling

Within his gut and anger made him fling

The pine-tree to the ground, then off he went

Upon the path, his spirit vehement.

Just as a bull stung by a gadfly flees,

Abandoning the marshlands and the leas:

No thoughts of herd, no thoughts of shepherd fill

His head; he goes, now dashing, now stockstill, 1390

He bellows loudly, broad neck rising high,

Assaulted by the maddening gadfly –

It was in this way frenzied Heracles

Now restlessly applied his speedy knees

To running fast, and then, putting aside

His toil, he shouted loudly far and wide.

Immediately the morning star shone through

The mountain-tops while down the breezes blew.

Speedily Tiphys urged them all to board

The ship and, what the breezes could afford, 1400

Make use of, and they did this eagerly,

Hauling the ropes, and thrust off from the quay.

The sails were bellied by the wind, the strand

Left far behind and gladly the headland

Of Poseidon now they passed. Now dawn, bright-eyed,

Arisen from the east, they all espied

Beaming from heaven, and the ways showed, too,

So clearly, while the meadows, thick with dew,

Shone brightly: then it was they comprehended

That they had left behind, though unintended, 1410

Some men, and so a mighty quarrel fell

Among them, and incessant brawl as well

That they had left the bravest of their crew.

Bewildered, Jason knew not what to do

And sat in silence, eating out his heart

In grievous sorrow. With an angry start

Did Telamon speak out: “Oh sit there, please!

It’s fitting to abandon Heracles!

For his repute, it was your strategy,

Should not eclipse your own in Greece, should we 1420

Be blessed to come safe home. What joy is there

In words, though? I will take myself elsewhere,

Far from your friends who showed complicity

In your deceit. Those were his words. Then he

At Tiphys, son of Hagnas, swiftly came,

His eyes like curling licks of ravening flame.

They should have quickly come to Mysian turf

While battling through the endless winds and surf

But that the sons of Boreas the Thracian

Restrained the man with words of indignation: 1430

Alas, the dire revenge of Heracles

For staying of a search awaited these

Two men: in sea-girt Tenos they were slain

By him as they were coming back again

From the games for Pelias’ death; the earth he piled

Around them, then two monuments he styled

Above them, one, a wondrous sight to see,

Which moves when the North Wind blows stormily

Upon it. These events in future time

Would be fulfilled. Out of the deep sea’s rime 1440

Glaucus appeared, divine Nereus’s wise

Interpreter. They all observed him rise,

His shaggy head and chest imposingly

Drawn up above his flanks, then sturdily

He seized the keel and to the eager crew

Cried: “Why do you pay no attention to

Great Zeus’s counsel, proposing to bring

Bold Heracles to the city of the king

Aeëtes? He for the contemptuous

Eurystheus must complete twelve strenuous 1450

Labours and dwell in immortality,

Should he fulfil a few more; let there be

No grief for him. It’s the gods’ will, likewise,

That Polyphemus is to organize

A glorious city at the entranceway

Of Kios with the Mysians and stay

Thenceforward in the Chalybes’ great land.

The holy nymph has taken Hylas’ hand

In loving wedlock, for whose sake those two

Wandered around, now left behind by you.” 1460

He spoke and with a plunge the restless swell

He swathed about himself; round him, pell-mell,

The dark waves foamed in eddies and assailed

The hollow ship as through the sea she sailed.

The heroes were excited. Eagerly

To Jason Telamon, the progeny

Of Aeacus, went up and grasped his hand

Within his own, embraced him warmly and

Said: “Jason, cease your anger, please, I pray:

I erred in folly – sorrow made me say 1470

Things arrogant and dreadful. Let me throw

My error to the winds that we may show

Our friendship as before:” Then prudently

The son of Aeson said: “You slandered me,

Good friend, with vicious words, to all men here

Saying I wronged a kind friend. Never fear,

However, for my anger I’ll not keep,

Though pained beforehand. It was not for sheep

Or property that you felt indignation

But for a friend. I hold the expectation 1480

That you would fight another man for me

In such a case.” And then, as formerly,

They sat united. It was Zeus’s will

That of those two, Polyphemus would fulfil

A city’s founding in the Mysian land,

Named for the river flowing by it, and

The other, Heracles, would go and toil

 For Eurystheus. He threatened to despoil

The Mysian territory instantly

Should they not bring to light the destiny 1490

Of Hylas, quick or dead. Then they all chose

The worthiest male progeny of those

Who lived there and then pledged a guarantee

Not to forsake their search. Accordingly

The people of Kios even today

Seek Hylas, Theiodamas’s son, while they

Watch over well-built Trachis – Heracles

Had settled in that place their guarantees,

Those noble sons. The ship, all day and night,

Was carried by strong winds but at first light 1500

No breeze was felt at all. A promontory

They then detected, very broad to see,

Rising above the bay, so on they rowed

And came to landfall as the rooster crowed.