Apollonius of Rhodes

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Apollonius of Rhodes (fl. first half of 3rd century BCE) is best known as the author of the Argonautica, an epic poem about Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece.


Argonautica (3rd century BC)[edit]

Quotations in English are taken from The Voyage of Argo, trans. E. V. Rieu (1959), unless otherwise noted. The Argonautica (Penguin Classics, 2nd edition, 1971), ISBN 978-0140440850.

Book I. Preparation and Departure[edit]

Moved by the god of song, I set out to commemorate the heroes of old who sailed the good ship Argo up the Straits into the Black Sea and between the Cyanean Rocks in quest of the Golden Fleece.
It was King Pelias who sent them out.
Jason lost one of his sandals, which stuck in the bed of the flooded river, but saved the other from the mud and shortly after appeared before the king.
Argos built the ship under the guidance of Athena.
  • Ἀρχόμενος σέο Φοῖβε παλαιγενέων κλέα φωτῶν
    μνήσομαι οἳ Πόντοιο κατὰ στόμα καὶ διὰ πέτρας
    Κυανέας βασιλῆος ἐφημοσύνῃ Πελίαο
    χρύσειον μετὰ κῶας ἐύζυγον ἤλασαν Ἀργώ.

  • Τοίην γὰρ Πελίης φάτιν ἔκλυεν, ὥς μιν ὀπίσσω
    μοῖρα μένει στυγερή, τοῦδ' ἀνέρος, ὅντιν' ἴδοιτο
    δημόθεν οἰοπέδιλον, ὑπ' ἐννεσίῃσι δαμῆναι.
    δηρὸν δ' οὐ μετέπειτα τεὴν κατὰ βάξιν Ἰήσων
    χειμερίοιο ῥέεθρα κιὼν διὰ ποσσὶν Ἀναύρου
    ἄλλο μὲν ἐξεσάωσεν ὑπ' ἰλύος, ἄλλο δ' ἔνερθεν
    κάλλιπεν αὖθι πέδιλον ἐνισχόμενον προχοῇσιν.
    • It was King Pelias who sent them out. He had heard an oracle which warned him of a dreadful fate – death through the machinations of the man whom he should see coming from the town with one foot bare. The prophecy was soon confirmed. Jason, fording the Anaurus in a winter spate, lost one of his sandals, which stuck in the bed of the flooded river, but saved the other from the mud and shortly after appeared before the king.
      • Lines 5–11

  • Αἶψα δὲ τόνγ᾽ ἐσιδὼν ἐφράσσατο, καί οἱ ἄεθλον
    ἔντυε ναυτιλίης πολυκηδέος, ὄφρ᾽ ἐνὶ πόντῳ
    ἠὲ καὶ ἀλλοδαποῖσι μετ᾽ ἀνδράσι νόστον ὀλέσσῃ.
    • And no sooner did the king see him than he thought of the oracle and decided to send him on a perilous adventure overseas. He hoped that things might so fall out, either at sea or in outlandish parts, that Jason would never see his home again.
      • Lines 15–17

  • Νῆα μὲν οὖν οἱ πρόσθεν ἔτι κλείουσιν ἀοιδοί
    Ἄργον Ἀθηναίης καμέειν ὑποθημοσύνῃσι.
    • Earlier bards whose songs still live tell how Argos built the ship under the guidance of Athena.
      • Lines 18–19 (tr. Richard Hunter)

  • Αὐτὰρ τόνγ᾽ ἐνέπουσιν ἀτειρέας οὔρεσι πέτρας
    θέλξαι ἀοιδάων ἐνοπῇ ποταμῶν τε ῥέεθρα.
    • Men say that he by the music of his songs charmed the stubborn rocks upon the mountains and the course of rivers.
      • Lines 26–27 (tr. R. C. Seaton); of Orpheus.

  • Λυγκεὺς δὲ καὶ ὀξυτάτοις ἐκέκαστο
    ὄμμασιν, εἰ ἐτεόν γε πέλει κλέος, ἀνέρα κεῖνον
    ῥηιδίως καὶ νέρθε κατὰ χθονὸς αὐγάζεσθαι.
    • Lynkeus had the sharpest eyes of any mortal, if the report is true that without trouble he could see even down beneath the earth.
      • Lines 153–155 (tr. Richard Hunter)

  • Kεῖνος ἀνὴρ καὶ πόντου ἐπὶ γλαυκοῖο θέεσκεν
    οἴδματος, οὐδὲ θοοὺς βάπτεν πόδας, ἀλλ᾽ ὅσον ἄκροις
    ἴχνεσι τεγγόμενος διερῇ πεφόρητο κελεύθῳ.
    • This man could run across the rolling waters of the grey sea without wetting his swift feet. His toes alone sank in as he sped along his watery path.
      • Lines 182–184; of Euphemus. Compare:
        • Ὅτε δὴ σκιρτῷεν ἐπ' εὐρέα νῶτα θαλάσσης,
          ἄκρον ἐπὶ ῥηγμῖνος ἁλὸς πολιοῖο θέεσκον.
          • When they played across the sea's wide ridges
            they would run the edge of the wave where it breaks on the grey salt water.
          • Homer, Iliad, Book XX, lines 228–229 (tr. R. Lattimore)
        • Vel mare per medium fluctu suspensa tumenti
          ferret iter celeris nec tingeret aequore plantas.
          • [She] sped her way o'er mid sea, poised above the swelling wave, nor dipped her swift feet in the flood.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VII, lines 810–811 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • Τὼ μὲν ἐπ᾽ ἀστραγάλοισι ποδῶν ἑκάτερθεν ἐρεμνὰς
    σεῖον ἀειρομένω πτέρυγας, μέγα θάμβος ἰδέσθαι,
    χρυσείαις φολίδεσσι διαυγέας· ἀμφὶ δὲ νώτοις
    κράατος ἐξ ὑπάτοιο καὶ αὐχένος ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα
    κυάνεαι δονέοντο μετὰ πνοιῇσιν ἔθειραι.
    • There they were making their dusky wings quiver upon their ankles on both sides as they rose, a great wonder to behold, wings that gleamed with golden scales: and round their backs from the top of the head and neck, hither and thither, their dark tresses were being shaken by the wind.
      • Lines 219–223 (tr. R. C. Seaton). Compare:
        • Like Maia's son he stood,
          And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance fill'd
          The circuit wide.

  • Μήτηρ δ' ὡς τὰ πρῶτ' ἐπεχεύατο πήχεε παιδί,
    ὧς ἔχετο κλαίουσ' ἀδινώτερον.
    • But his mother embraced her son as fast as ever in her arms, weeping without restraint.
      • Lines 268–269

  • "Μή μοι λευγαλέας ἐνιβάλλεο, μῆτερ, ἀνίας
    ὧδε λίην, ἐπεὶ οὐ μὲν ἐρητύσεις κακότητος
    δάκρυσιν, ἀλλ' ἔτι κεν καὶ ἐπ' ἄλγεσιν ἄλγος ἄροιο.
    πήματα γάρ τ' ἀίδηλα θεοὶ θνητοῖσι fέμουσιν,
    τῶν μοῖραν κατὰ θυμὸν ἀνιάζουσά περ ἔμπης
    τλῆθι φέρειν."
    • 'Mother,' he said, 'I beg you not to dwell so bitterly on your distress. No tears of yours will save me from misfortune; you will only be piling trouble upon trouble. We mortals cannot see what blows the gods may have in store for us; and you, for all your heartache, must endure your share with fortitude.'
      • Lines 295–300. Compare:
        • Ne, quaeso, ne me lacrimis neve omine tanto
          prosequere in duri certamina Martis euntem,
          o mater.
          • Nay, I beseech thee, not with tears, not with such omen, as I pass to stern war's conflicts, do thou send me forth, O my mother.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book XII, lines 72–74 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • Αὐτὸς νῦν ἄγε νῆα σὺν ἀρτεμέεσσιν ἑταίροις
    κεῖσέ τε καὶ παλίνορσον ἐς Ἑλλάδα.
    • I look to you to bring my ship to Colchis and back to Hellas with my comrades safe and sound.
      • Lines 415–416; Jason's prayer to Apollo.

  • Ὑμῖν μὲν δὴ μοῖρα θεῶν χρειώ τε περῆσαι
    ἐνθάδε κῶας ἄγοντας, ἀπειρέσιοι δ᾽ ἐνὶ μέσσῳ
    κεῖσέ τε δεῦρό τ᾽ ἔασιν ἀνερχομένοισιν ἄεθλοι·
    ἐμοὶ θανέειν στυγερῇ ὑπὸ δαίμονος αἴσῃ
    τηλόθι που πέπρωται ἐπ᾽ Ἀσίδος ἠπείροιο.
    κακοῖς δεδαὼς ἔτι καὶ πάρος οἰωνοῖσιν
    ἐμόν, πάτρης ἐξήιον, ὄφρ᾽ ἐπιβαίην
    νηός, ἐυκλείη δὲ δόμοις ἐπιβάντι λίπηται.
    • For you it is the will of heaven and destiny that ye shall return here with the fleece; but meanwhile both going and returning, countless trials await you. But it is my lot, by the hateful decree of a god, to die somewhere afar off on the mainland of Asia. Thus, though I learnt my fate from evil omens even before now, I have left my fatherland to embark on the ship, that so after my embarking fair fame may be left me in my house.
      • Lines 440–447 (tr. R. C. Seaton); Idmon's prophecy.

  • How, in the beginning, Ophion and Eurynome, daughter of Ocean, governed the world from snow-clad Olympus; how they were forcibly supplanted, Ophion by Cronos...
    • Lines 503–505. Compare:
      • How the Serpent, whom they call'd
        Ophion with Eurynome, the wide-
        Encroaching Eve perhaps, had first the rule
        Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven.

His lyre and his celestial voice had ceased together. Yet even so there was no change in the company; the heads of all were still bent forward, their ears intent on the enchanting melody.
  • Ἦ, καὶ ὁ μὲν φόρμιγγα σὺν ἀμβροσίῃ σχέθεν αὐδῇ·
    τοὶ δ᾽ ἄμοτον λήξαντος ἔτι προύχοντο κάρηνα
    πάντες ὁμῶς ὀρθοῖσιν ἐπ᾽ οὔασιν ἠρεμέοντες
    κηληθμῷ· τοῖόν σφιν ἐνέλλιπε θέλκτρον ἀοιδῆς.
    • The song was finished. His lyre and his celestial voice had ceased together. Yet even so there was no change in the company; the heads of all were still bent forward, their ears intent on the enchanting melody. Such was his charm – the music lingered in their hearts.
      • Lines 512–515; of Orpheus. Compare:
        • The angel ended, and in Adam's ear
          So charming left his voice, that he awhile
          Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear.

The armour on the moving ship glittered in the sunshine like fire.
  • Στράπτε δ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἠελίῳ φλογὶ εἴκελα νηὸς ἰούσης
    τεύχεα· μακραὶ δ᾽ αἰὲν ἐλευκαίνοντο κέλευθοι,
    ἀτραπὸς ὣς χλοεροῖο διειδομένη πεδίοιο.
    • The armour on the moving ship glittered in the sunshine like fire; and all the time she was followed by a long white wake which stood out like a patch across a green plain.
      • Lines 544–546

  • Πάντες δ᾽ οὐρανόθεν λεῦσσον θεοὶ ἤματι κείνῳ
    νῆα καὶ ἡμιθέων ἀνδρῶν μένος, οἳ τότ᾽ ἄριστοι
    πόντον ἐπιπλώεσκον.
    • On that day all the gods looked down from heaven upon the ship and the might of the heroes, half-divine, the bravest of men then sailing the sea.
      • Lines 547–549 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Σὺν καί οἱ παράκοιτις ἐπωλένιον φορέουσα
    Πηλεΐδην Ἀχιλῆα, φίλῳ δειδίσκετο πατρί.
    • She was carrying Peleus' little boy Achilles on her arm, and she held him up for his dear father to see.
      • Lines 557–558

  • Τῆς μὲν ῥηίτερόν κεν ἐς ἠέλιον ἀνιόντα
    ὄσσε βάλοις, ἢ κεῖνο μεταβλέψειας ἔρευθος.
    • More easily wouldst thou cast thy eyes upon the sun at its rising than behold that blazing splendour.
      • Lines 725–726 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Δένδρεα μὲν καρπὸν χέον ἄσπετον, ἀμφὶ δὲ ποσσὶν
    αὐτομάτη φύε γαῖα τερείνης ἄνθεα ποίης.
    • The trees shed abundant fruit, and round their feet the earth of its own accord put forth flowers from the tender grass.
      • Line 1142–1143 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν τηλοῦ κεν ἀποπλάγξειεν ἀοιδῆς.
    • But these tales would lead me far astray from my song.
      • Line 1220 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Οἱ δέ που ἄρτι
    νυμφάων ἵσταντο χοροί· μέλε γάρ σφισι πάσαις,
    ὅσσαι κεῖσ᾽ ἐρατὸν νύμφαι ῥίον ἀμφενέμοντο,
    Ἄρτεμιν ἐννυχίῃσιν ἀεὶ μέλπεσθαι ἀοιδαῖς.
    • The nymphs were about to hold their dances – it was the custom of all those who haunt that beautiful headland to sing the praise of Artemis by night.
      • Line 1222–1225

She threw her left arm round his neck in her eagerness to kiss his gentle lips. Then with her right hand she drew his elbow down and plunged him in midstream.
  • Ἡ δὲ νέον κρήνης ἀνεδύετο καλλινάοιο
    νύμφη ἐφυδατίη· τὸν δὲ σχεδὸν εἰσενόησεν
    κάλλεϊ καὶ γλυκερῇσιν ἐρευθόμενον χαρίτεσσιν.
    πρὸς γάρ οἱ διχόμηνις ἀπ᾽ αἰθέρος αὐγάζουσα
    βάλλε σεληναίη. τὴν δὲ φρένας ἐπτοίησεν
    Κύπρις, ἀμηχανίῃ δὲ μόλις συναγείρατο θυμόν.
    αὐτὰρ ὅγ᾽ ὡς τὰ πρῶτα ῥόῳ ἔνι κάλπιν ἔρεισεν
    λέχρις ἐπιχριμφθείς, περὶ δ᾽ ἄσπετον ἔβραχεν ὕδωρ
    χαλκὸν ἐς ἠχήεντα φορεύμενον, αὐτίκα δ᾽ ἥγε
    λαιὸν μὲν καθύπερθεν ἐπ᾽ αὐχένος ἄνθετο πῆχυν
    κύσσαι ἐπιθύουσα τέρεν στόμα· δεξιτερῇ δὲ
    ἀγκῶν᾽ ἔσπασε χειρί, μέσῃ δ᾽ ἐνικάββαλε δίνῃ.
    • One [nymph], the naiad of the spring, was just emerging from the limpid water as Hylas drew near. And there, with the full moon shining on him from a clear sky, she saw him in all his radiant beauty and alluring grace. Her heart was flooded by desire; she had a struggle to regain her scattered wits. But Hylas now leant over to one side to dip his ewer in; and as soon as the water was gurgling loudly round the ringing bronze she threw her left arm round his neck in her eagerness to kiss his gentle lips. Then with her right hand she drew his elbow down and plunged him in midstream.
      • Line 1228–1239

  • Ἠύτε τις θὴρ
    ἄγριος, ὅν ῥά τε γῆρυς ἀπόπροθεν ἵκετο μήλων,
    λιμῷ δ᾽ αἰθόμενος μετανίσσεται, οὐδ᾽ ἐπέκυρσεν
    ποίμνῃσιν· πρὸ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἐνὶ σταθμοῖσι νομῆες
    ἔλσαν· ὁ δὲ στενάχων βρέμει ἄσπετον, ὄφρα κάμῃσιν·
    • Like a wild animal who hears the bleating of a distant flock and in his hunger dashes after them, only to find that the shepherds have forestalled him, the sheep are in the pen, and he is left to roar in protest till he tires.
      • Lines 1243–1247. Compare:
        • Ac veluti pleno lupus insidiatus ovili
          cum fremit ad caulas ventos perpessus et imbris
          nocte super media; tuti sub matribus agni
          balatum exercent, ille asper et improbus ira
          saevit in absentis; collecta fatigat edendi
          ex longo rabies et siccae sanguine fauces.
          • As when a wolf, lying in wait about a crowded fold, roars beside the pens at midnight, enduring winds and rains; safe beneath their mothers the lambs keep bleating; he, fierce and reckless in his wrath, rages against the prey beyond his reach, tormented by the long-gathering fury of famine, and by his dry, bloodless jaws.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book IX, lines 59–64 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • Ὡς δ᾽ ὅτε τίς τε μύωπι τετυμμένος ἔσσυτο ταῦρος
    πίσεά τε προλιπὼν καὶ ἑλεσπίδας, οὐδὲ νομήων,
    οὐδ᾽ ἀγέλης ὄθεται, πρήσσει δ᾽ ὁδόν, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἄπαυστος,
    ἄλλοτε δ᾽ ἱστάμενος, καὶ ἀνὰ πλατὺν αὐχέν᾽ ἀείρων
    ἵησιν μύκημα, κακῷ βεβολημένος οἴστρῳ.
    • As when a bull stung by a gadfly tears along, leaving the meadows and the marsh land, and recks not of herdsmen or herd, but presses on, now without cheek, now standing still, and raising his broad neck he bellows loudly, stung by the maddening fly.
      • Lines 1265–1269 (tr. R. C. Seaton). Compare:
        • Οἱ δ' ἐφέβοντο κατὰ μέγαρον βόες ὣς ἀγελαῖαι·
          τὰς μέν τ' αἰόλος οἶστρος ἐφορμηθεὶς ἐδόνησεν.
          • Confus'd, distracted, thro' the rooms they fling,
            Like oxen madden'd by the breese's sting.
          • Homer, Odyssey, Book XXII, lines 299–300 (tr. Alexander Pope)

Book II. Onward to Colchis[edit]

  • Ἂψ δ᾽ αὖτις συνόρουσαν ἐναντίοι, ἠύτε ταύρω
    φορβάδος ἀμφὶ βοὸς κεκοτηότε δηριάασθον.
    • Then they fell upon each other once more, like two bulls tussling in grim rivalry for a fattened heifer.
      • Lines 88–89. Compare:
        • Cum duo conversis inimica in proelia tauri
          frontibus incurrunt.
          • As when two bulls charge, brow to brow, in mortal battle.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book XII, lines 716–717 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • Ὡς δὲ μελισσάων σμῆνος μέγα μηλοβοτῆρες
    ἠὲ μελισσοκόμοι πέτρῃ ἔνι καπνιόωσιν,
    αἱ δ᾽ ἤτοι τείως μὲν ἀολλέες ᾧ ἐνὶ σίμβλῳ
    βομβηδὸν κλονέονται, ἐπιπρὸ δὲ λιγνυόεντι
    καπνῷ τυφόμεναι πέτρης ἑκὰς ἀίσσουσιν.
    • As shepherds or beekeepers smoke out a huge swarm of bees in a rock, and they meanwhile, pent up in their hive, murmur with droning hum, till, stupefied by the murky smoke, they fly forth far from the rock.
      • Lines 130–134 (tr. R. C. Seaton). Compare:
        • Inclusas ut cum latebroso in pumice pastor
          vestigavit apes fumoque implevit amaro;
          illae intus trepidae rerum per cerea castra
          discurrunt magnisque acuunt stridoribus iras;
          volvitur ater odor tectis, tum murmure caeco
          intus saxa sonant, vacuas it fumus ad auras.
          • As when some shepherd has tracked bees to their lair in rocky covert, and filled it with stinging smoke; they within, startled for their safety, scurry to and fro through the waxen fortress, and with loud buzzings whet their rage; the black reek rolls through their dwelling, the rocks within hum with hidden murmur, and smoke issues to the empty air.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book XII, lines 587–592 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

The Harpies swooped down through the clouds and snatched the food from his mouth and hands with their beaks.
  • The Harpies swooped down through the clouds and snatched the food from his mouth and hands with their beaks, sometimes leaving him not a morsel, sometimes a few scraps, so that he might live and be tormented.
    • Compare:
      • At subitae horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt
        Harpyiae et magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas.
        • But suddenly, with fearful swoop from the mountains the Harpies are upon us, and with loud clanging shake their wings.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book III, lines 225–226 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • He rose from his bed, like a phantom in a dream, and with the aid of a staff crept to the door on withered feet, feeling his way along the walls. Weakness and age made his limbs tremble as he walked; his shrivelled flesh was caked with dirt, and his bones were held together only by the skin.

  • Like a couple of keen hounds on a hillside, hot on the track of a horned goat or a deer, pressing close behind the quarry and snapping at the empty air.
    • Compare:
      • Inclusum veluti si quando flumine nactus
        cervum aut puniceae saeptum formidine pennae
        venator cursu canis et latratibus instat;
        ille autem insidiis et ripa territus alta
        mille fugit refugitque vias, at vividus Umber
        haeret hians, iam iamque tenet similisque tenenti
        increpuit malis morsuque elusus inani est.
        • As when a hunter hound has caught a stag, pent in by a stream, or hedged about by the terror of crimson feathers, and, running and barking, presses him close; the stag, in terror of the snares and lofty bank, flees to and fro in a thousand ways, but the keen Umbrian clings close with jaws agape, and now, now grips, or, as though he gripped, snaps his jaws, and baffled, bites on nothing.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book XII, lines 749–755 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

The first thing you see will be the two Cyanean Rocks, at the end of the straits. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever made his way between them, for not being fixed to the bottom of the sea they frequently collide...
  • The first thing you see will be the two Cyanean Rocks, at the end of the straits. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever made his way between them, for not being fixed to the bottom of the sea they frequently collide, flinging up the water in a seething mass which falls on the rocky flanks of the straits with a resounding roar.
    • Compare:
      • Ἔνθεν μὲν γὰρ πέτραι ἐπηρεφέες, προτὶ δ' αὐτὰς
        κῦμα μέγα ῥοχθεῖ κυανώπιδος Ἀμφιτρίτης·
        Πλαγκτὰς δή τοι τάς γε θεοὶ μάκαρες καλέουσι.
        τῇ μέν τ' οὐδὲ ποτητὰ παρέρχεται οὐδὲ πέλειαι
        τρήρωνες, ταί τ' ἀμβροσίην Διὶ πατρὶ φέρουσιν,
        ἀλλά τε καὶ τῶν αἰὲν ἀφαιρεῖται λὶς πέτρη·
        ἀλλ' ἄλλην ἐνίησι πατὴρ ἐναρίθμιον εἶναι.
        τῇ δ' οὔ πώ τις νηῦς φύγεν ἀνδρῶν, ἥ τις ἵκηται,
        ἀλλά θ' ὁμοῦ πίνακάς τε νεῶν καὶ σώματα φωτῶν
        κύμαθ' ἁλὸς φορέουσι πυρός τ' ὀλοοῖο θύελλαι.
        οἴη δὴ κείνῃ γε παρέπλω ποντοπόρος νηῦς
        Ἀργὼ πᾶσι μέλουσα, παρ' Αἰήταο πλέουσα·
        καί νύ κε τὴν ἔνθ' ὦκα βάλεν μεγάλας ποτὶ πέτρας,
        ἀλλ' Ἥρη παρέπεμψεν, ἐπεὶ φίλος ἦεν Ἰήσων.
        • On one side beetling cliffs shoot up, and against them
          pound the huge roaring breakers of blue-eyed Amphitrite—
          the Clashing Rocks they're called by all the blissful gods.
          Not even birds can escape them, no, not even the doves
          that veer and fly ambrosia home to Father Zeus:
          even of those the sheer Rocks always pick off one
          and Father wings one more to keep the number up.
          No ship of men has ever approached and slipped past—
          always some disaster—big timbers and sailors' corpses
          whirled away by the waves and lethal blasts of fire.
          One ship alone, one deep-sea craft sailed clear,
          the Argo, sung by the world, when heading home
          from Aeetes' shores. And she would have crashed
          against those giant rocks and sunk at once if Hera,
          for love of Jason, had not sped her through.
        • Homer, Odyssey, Book XII, lines 60–73 (tr. Robert Fagles)

Send out a dove from Argo to explore the way. If she succeeds in flying in between the Rocks and out across the sea, do not hesitate to follow in her path.
  • Now if, as I take it, you are god-fearing travellers and men of sense, you will be advised by me: you will not rashly throw away your lives or rush into danger with the recklessness of youth. Make an experiment first. Send out a dove from Argo to explore the way. If she succeeds in flying in between the Rocks and out across the sea, do not hesitate to follow in her path, but get a firm grip on your oars and cleave the water of the straits. For that is the time when salvation will depend, not on your prayers, but on your strength of arm. So think of nothing else, be firm, and spend your energies on what will pay you best. By all means pray to the gods, but choose an earlier moment. And if the dove flies on, but comes to grief midway, turn back. It is always better to submit to heaven; and you could not possibly escape a dreadful end. The Rocks would crush you, even if Argo were an iron ship.

  • The fleece is spread on the top of an oak, watched over by a serpent, a formidable beast who peers all round and never, night or day, allows sweet sleep to conquer his unblinking eyes.
    • Lines 404–406; the Colchian Dragon guarding the Golden Fleece.

  • Αἶα δὲ Κολχὶς
    Πόντου καὶ γαίης ἐπικέκλιται ἐσχατιῇσιν.
    • Colchian Aea lies at the far end of the Black Sea and of the world itself.
      • Lines 417–418

She wept and pleaded with him piteously. But in the headstrong arrogance of youth he cut it down; and in revenge the nymph laid a curse on him and his children.
  • The more he toiled the harder he found it to keep body and soul together. He sank lower day by day, and there was no respite from his labours. He was paying in misery for a sin committed by his father, who had refused to listen to a Hamadryad's prayers when he was felling trees one day, alone in the mountains. She wished him to spare the stump of an oak which was as old as she and had been her only home for many a long year. She wept and pleaded with him piteously. But in the headstrong arrogance of youth he cut it down; and in revenge the nymph laid a curse on him and his children.

  • Ἦρι δ᾽ ἐτήσιαι αὖραι ἐπέχραον, αἵ τ᾽ ἀνὰ πᾶσαν
    γαῖαν ὁμῶς τοιῇδε Διὸς πνείουσιν ἀρωγῇ.
    • At dawn the Etesian winds blew strongly, which by the command of Zeus blow over every land equally.
      • Lines 498–499 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Once more the Rocks met face to face with a resounding crash, flinging a great cloud of spray into the air. The sea gave a terrific roar and the broad sky rang again.

  • Then the fears of all were turned to panic. Sheer destruction hung above their heads. They had already reached a point where they could see the vast sea opening out on either side, when they were suddenly faced by a tremendous billow arched like an overhanging rock. They bent their heads down at the sight, for it seemed about to fall and overwhelm the ship...

  • Argo clove the air like a winged arrow.

How can I tell whether I shall bring you safely back to Hellas?
  • 'Τῖφυ, τίη μοι ταῦτα παρηγορέεις ἀχέοντι;
    ἤμβροτον ἀασάμην τε κακὴν καὶ ἀμήχανον ἄτην.
    χρῆν γὰρ ἐφιεμένοιο καταντικρὺ Πελίαο
    αὐτίκ᾽ ἀνήνασθαι τόνδε στόλον, εἰ καὶ ἔμελλον
    νηλειῶς μελεϊστὶ κεδαιόμενος θανέεσθαι·
    νῦν δὲ περισσὸν δεῖμα καὶ ἀτλήτους μελεδῶνας
    ἄγκειμαι, στυγέων μὲν ἁλὸς κρυόεντα κέλευθα
    νηὶ διαπλώειν, στυγέων δ᾽, ὅτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἠπείροιο
    βαίνωμεν. πάντῃ γὰρ ἀνάρσιοι ἄνδρες ἔασιν.
    αἰεὶ δὲ στονόεσσαν ἐπ᾽ ἤματι νύκτα φυλάσσω,
    ἐξότε τὸ πρώτιστον ἐμὴν χάριν ἠγερέθεσθε,
    τὰ ἕκαστα σὺ δ᾽ εὐμαρέως ἀγορεύεις
    οἶον ἑῆς ψυχῆς ἀλέγων ὕπερ· αὐτὰρ ἔγωγε
    εἷο μὲν οὐδ᾽ ἠβαιὸν ἀτύζομαι· ἀμφὶ δὲ τοῖο
    καὶ τοῦ ὁμῶς, καὶ σεῖο, καὶ ἄλλων δείδι᾽ ἑταίρων
    εἰ μὴ ἐς Ἑλλάδα γαῖαν ἀπήμονας ὔμμε κομίσσω.'
    • 'Tiphys,' 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 that we must cross and of what may happen when we land and find the natives hostile, as we are sure to do at every point. Ever since you all rallied to my side these cares have occupied my mind, and when each day is done I spend the night in misery. It is easy for you, Tiphys, to talk in a cheerful vein. You are only concerned for your own life, whereas I care nothing for mine, but am concerned for each and all alike, you and the rest of my friends. How can I tell whether I shall bring you safely back to Hellas?'
      • Lines 622–637; Jason's speech.

The golden locks streamed down his cheeks in clusters as he moved; he had a silver bow in his left hand and a quiver slung on his back.
  • The golden locks streamed down his cheeks in clusters as he moved; he had a silver bow in his left hand and a quiver slung on his back; the island quaked beneath his feet and the sea ran high on the shore. They were awestruck at the sight and no one dared to face the god and meet his lovely eyes.

  • The lord Orpheus joined them in their worship. Striking his Bistonian lyre, he told them in song how Apollo long ago, when he was still a beardless youth rejoicing in his locks, slew the monster Delphyne with his bow beneath the rocky brow of Parnassus. 'Be gracious to us, King,' he sang, 'And may thy tresses for ever be unshorn, intact for ever!'
    • Note: "Nothing was deemed by the ancients more essential to the beauty of a young person (and Apollo was always represented a youth) than fine, long hair." Francis Fawkes, The Argonautics of Apollonius Rhodius (1780), p. 357.

  • He was a learned soothsayer, but not all his prophetic lore could save him now: he had to die.
    • Of Idmon. Compare:
      • ...augur, / sed non augurio potuit depellere pestem.
        • [An] augur; but not by augury could he avert his doom.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book IX, lines 327–328 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • In the water-meadow by a reedy stream there lay a white-tusked boar cooling his flanks and huge belly in the mud. This evil brute, who was feared even by the meadow-sprites, lived all alone in the wide fen, and no one was the wiser. But now, as Idmon made his way along the dykes of the muddy river, the boar leapt out of some hidden lair in the reeds, charged at him and gashed his thigh, severing the sinews and the bone itself. Idmon fell to the ground with a sharp cry.
    • Compare:
      • Concava vallis erat, quo se demittere rivi
        adsuerant pluvialis aquae; tenet ima lacunae
        lenta salix ulvaeque leves iuncique palustres
        viminaque et longa parvae sub harundine cannae:
        hinc aper excitus medios violentus in hostes
        fertur, ut excussis elisi nubibus ignes.
        • There was a deep valley that collected streams of rainwater, falling near it: and it held, in its depths, pliant willows, smooth sedges, and marsh grasses, and osiers and tall bulrushes, above the lowly reeds. The boar was roused from there, and made a violent charge into the midst of its enemies, like lightning forced from colliding clouds.
          • Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book VIII, lines 334–339 (tr. A. S. Kline)

  • [Zeus] was trapped by his own promise. In his passion for the girl he had solemnly sworn to fulfil her dearest wish, whatever that might be; and she very cleverly had said, 'I wish to remain a virgin.'

Here, when a woman is in childbirth, it is the husband who takes to his bed. He lies there groaning with his head wrapped up and his wife feeds him with loving care.
  • Τοὺς δὲ μετ᾽ αὐτίκ᾽ ἔπειτα Γενηταίου Διὸς ἄκρην
    γνάμψαντες σώοντο παρὲκ Τιβαρηνίδα γαῖαν.
    ἔνθ᾽ ἐπεὶ ἄρ κε τέκωνται ὑπ᾽ ἀνδράσι τέκνα γυναῖκες,
    αὐτοὶ μὲν στενάχουσιν ἐνὶ λεχέεσσι πεσόντες,
    κράατα δησάμενοι· ταὶ δ᾽ εὖ κομέουσιν ἐδωδῇ
    ἀνέρας, ἠδὲ λοετρὰ λεχώια τοῖσι πένονται.
    • ... the Argonauts rounded the headland of Genetaean Zeus and sailed in safety past the country of the Tibareni. Here, when a woman is in childbirth, it is the husband who takes to his bed. He lies there groaning with his head wrapped up and his wife feeds him with loving care. She even prepares the bath for the event.
      • Lines 1009–1014

  • Ἱρὸν δ᾽ αὖτ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ὄρος καὶ γαῖαν ἄμειβον,
    ᾗ ἔνι Μοσσύνοικοι ἀν᾽ οὔρεα ναιετάουσιν
    μόσσυνας, καὶ δ᾽ αὐτοὶ ἐπώνυμοι ἔνθεν ἔασιν.
    ἀλλοίη δὲ δίκη καὶ θέσμια τοῖσι τέτυκται.
    ὅσσα μὲν ἀμφαδίην ῥέζειν θέμις, ἢ ἐνὶ δήμῳ,
    ἢ ἀγορῇ, τάδε πάντα δόμοις ἔνι μηχανόωνται·
    ὅσσα δ᾽ ἐνὶ μεγάροις πεπονήμεθα, κεῖνα θύραζε
    ἀψεγέως μέσσῃσιν ἐνὶ ῥέζουσιν ἀγυιαῖς.
    οὐδ᾽ εὐνῆς αἰδὼς ἐπιδήμιος, ἀλλά, σύες ὣς
    φορβάδες, οὐδ᾽ ἠβαιὸν ἀτυζόμενοι παρεόντας,
    μίσγονται χαμάδις ξυνῇ φιλότητι γυναικῶν.
    αὐτὰρ ἐν ὑψίστῳ βασιλεὺς μόσσυνι θαάσσων
    ἰθείας πολέεσσι δίκας λαοῖσι δικάζει,
    σχέτλιος. ἢν γάρ πού τί θεμιστεύων ἀλίτηται,
    μιν κεῖν᾽ ἦμαρ ἐνικλείσαντες ἔχουσιν.
    • Next they passed the Sacred Mountain and the highlands where the Mossynoeci live in the mossynes or wooden houses from which they take their name. These people have their own ideas of what is right and proper. What we do as a rule openly in town or market-place they do at home; and what we do in the privacy of our houses they do out of doors in the open street, and nobody thinks the worst of them. Even the sexual act puts no one to blush in this community. On the contrary, like swine in the fields, they lie down on the ground in promiscuous intercourse and are not at all disconcerted by the presence of others. Then again, their king sits in the loftiest hut of all to dispense justice to his numerous subjects. But if the poor man happens to make a mistake in his findings, they lock him up and give him nothing to eat for the rest of the day.
      • Lines 1015–1029

  • Have some regard for suppliants and strangers, for the sake of Zeus who is their god. All suppliants and strangers belong to Zeus. And we ourselves, I have no doubt, are in his watchful care.
    • Compare:
      • Ἱκέται δέ τοί εἰμεν.
        Ζεὺς δ' ἐπιτιμήτωρ ἱκετάων τε ξείνων τε,
        ξείνιος, ὃς ξείνοισιν ἅμ' αἰδοίοισιν ὀπηδεῖ.
        • We're suppliants—at your mercy!
          Zeus of the Strangers guards all guests and suppliants:
          strangers are sacred—Zeus will avenge their rights!
        • Homer, Odyssey, Book IX, lines 269–271 (tr. Robert Fagles)
      • Iuppiter, hospitibus nam te dare iura loquuntur.
        • Jupiter, you, they say, are the god who grants
          the laws of host and guest.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book I, line 731 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • Its form was not that of an ordinary bird: the long quill-feathers of each wing rose and fell like a bank of polished oars.

Book III. Jason and Medea[edit]

Come, Erato, come lovely Muse, stand by me and take up the tale.
  • Εἰ δ᾽ ἄγε νῦν, Ἐρατώ, παρά θ᾽ ἵστασο, καί μοι ἔνισπε,
    ἔνθεν ὅπως ἐς Ἰωλκὸν ἀνήγαγε κῶας Ἰήσων
    Μηδείης ὑπ᾽ ἔρωτι.
    • Come, Erato, come lovely Muse, stand by me and take up the tale. How did Medea's passion help Jason to bring back the fleece to Iolcus?
      • Lines 1–3. Compare:
        • Erato...tu vatem, tu, diva, mone.
          • Erato...you, goddess, inspire your singer, come!
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VII, lines 37 and 41 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • Νήσοιο πλαγκτῆς.
    • A floating island.
      • Line 42. Compare: Πλωτῇ ἐνὶ νήσῳ ("A great floating island"), Homer, Odyssey, Book X, line 3 (tr. Robert Fagles).

  • Her white shoulders on each side were covered with the mantle of her hair and she was parting it with a golden comb and about to braid up the long tresses.
    • Of Cypris (tr. R. C. Seaton)

I was disguised as an old woman and he took pity on me, lifted me up, and carried me across the flood on his shoulders. For that, I will never cease to honour him.
  • Καὶ δ᾽ ἄλλως ἔτι καὶ πρὶν ἐμοὶ μέγα φίλατ᾽ Ἰήσων
    ἐξότ᾽ ἐπὶ προχοῇσιν ἅλις πλήθοντος Ἀναύρου
    ἀνδρῶν εὐνομίης πειρωμένῃ ἀντεβόλησεν
    θήρης ἐξανιών· νιφετῷ δ᾽ ἐπαλύνετο πάντα
    οὔρεα καὶ σκοπιαὶ περιμήκεες, οἱ δὲ κατ᾽ αὐτῶν
    χείμαρροι καναχηδὰ κυλινδόμενοι φορέοντο.
    γρηὶ δέ μ᾽ εἰσαμένην ὀλοφύρατο, καί μ᾽ ἀναείρας
    αὐτὸς ἑοῖς ὤμοισι διὲκ προαλὲς φέρεν ὕδωρ.
    τῶ νύ μοι ἄλληκτον περιτίεται.
    • ... I have been very fond of Jason ever since the time when I was putting human charity on trial and as he came home from the chase he met me at the mouth of the Anaurus. The river was in spate, for all the mountains and their high spurs were under snow and cataracts were roaring down their sides. I was disguised as an old woman and he took pity on me, lifted me up, and carried me across the flood on his shoulders. For that, I will never cease to honour him.
      • Lines 66–74; spoken by Here. Compare:
        • Καί τε θεοὶ ξείνοισιν ἐοικότες ἀλλοδαποῖσι,
          παντοῖοι τελέθοντες, ἐπιστρωφῶσι πόληας,
          ὕβριν τε καὶ εὐνομίην ἐφορῶντες.
          • And we know the gods go about disguised in all sorts of ways as people from foreign countries, and travel about the world to see who do amiss and who righteously.
          • Homer, Odyssey, Book XVII, lines 485–487 (tr. Samuel Butler)

  • [Aphrodite] set out, and after searching up and down Olympus for her boy, found him far away in the fruit-laden orchard of Zeus. With him was Ganymede, whose beauty had so captivated Zeus that he took him up to heaven to live with the immortals. The two lads, who had much in common, were playing with golden knuckle-bones. Eros, the greedy boy, was standing there with a whole handful of them clutched to his breast and a happy flush mantling his cheeks. Near by sat Ganymede, hunched up, silent and disconsolate, with only two left. He threw these for what they were worth in quick succession and was furious when Eros laughed. Of course he lost them both immediately – they joined the rest. So he went off in despair with empty hands and did not notice the goddess's approach. Aphrodite came up to her boy, took his chin in her hand, and said: 'Why this triumphant smile, you rascal?'

  • Πάντῃ καὶ ὅτις μάλα κύντατος ἀνδρῶν,
    ξεινίου αἰδεῖται Ζηνὸς θέμιν ἠδ᾽ ἀλεγίζει.
    • Every man on earth, even the greatest rogue, fears Zeus the god of hospitality and keeps his laws.
      • Lines 192–193

  • To this day the Colchians would think it sacrilege to burn the bodies of their men. They never bury them or raise a mound above them, but wrap them in untanned oxhide and hang them up on trees at a distance from the town. Thus, since it is their custom to bury women, earth and air play equal parts in the disposal of their dead.

  • While Jason and his friends were on their way, Hera had a kindly thought for them. She covered the whole town with mist so that they might reach Aeetes' house unseen by any of the numerous Colchians.
    • Compare:
      • Ἀμφὶ δ' Ἀθήνη
        πολλὴν ἠέρα χεῦε φίλα φρονέουσ' Ὀδυσῆϊ.
        • Pallas Athena, harboring kindness for the hero,
          drifted a heavy mist around him.
        • Homer, Odyssey, Book VII, lines 14–15 (tr. Robert Fagles)
      • ... at Venus obscuro gradientes aere saepsit,
        et multo nebulae circum dea fudit amictu,
        cernere ne quis eos.
        • ... but Venus screens the travelers off with a dense mist,
          pouring round them a cloak of clouds with all her power,
          so no one could see them.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book I, lines 411–413 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • Cultivated vines covered with greenery rose high in the air and underneath them four perennial springs gushed up. These were Hephaestus' work. One flowed with milk, and one with wine, the third with fragrant oil, while the fourth was a fountain of water which grew warm when the Pleiades set, but changed at their rising and bubbled up from the hollow rock as cold as ice.

  • Ὡς δὲ γυνὴ μαλερῷ περὶ κάρφεα χεύατο δαλῷ
    χερνῆτις, τῇπερ ταλασήια ἔργα μέμηλεν,
    ὥς κεν ὑπωρόφιον νύκτωρ σέλας ἐντύναιτο,
    ἄγχι μάλ᾽ ἐγρομένη· τὸ δ᾽ ἀθέσφατον ἐξ ὀλίγοιο
    δαλοῦ ἀνεγρόμενον σὺν κάρφεα πάντ᾽ ἀμαθύνει·
    τοῖος ὑπὸ κραδίῃ εἰλυμένος αἴθετο λάθρῃ
    οὖλος Ἔρως· ἁπαλὰς δὲ μετετρωπᾶτο παρειὰς
    ἐς χλόον, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἔρευθος, ἀκηδείῃσι νόοιο.
    • As when a woman heaps up twigs around a burning brand—a poor woman who must live from working wool—so that she might have light in her dwelling at night as she sits very close to the fire, and a fierce flame spurts up from the small brand and consumes all the twigs, just so was the destructive love which crouched unobserved and burnt in Medea's heart. At one moment her soft cheeks were drained of colour, at another they blushed red, the control of her mind now gone.
      • Lines 291–298 (tr. Richard Hunter). Compare:
        • cum femina primum,
          cui tolerare colo vitam tenuique Minerva
          impositum, cinerem et sopitos suscitat ignis ...
          • the housewife, her first task to sustain life
            by weaving and Minerva's humble arts,
            awakes the embers and the sleeping fires ...
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VIII, lines 408 et seq. (tr. Allen Mandelbaum)

If you had not eaten at my table first, I would tear your tongues out and chop off your hands, both of them, and send you back with nothing but your feet...
  • You scoundrels! Get out of my sight at once. Get out of my country, you and your knavish tricks, before you meet a Phrixus and a fleece you will not relish. It was no fleece that brought you and your confederates from Hellas, but a plot to seize my scepter and my royal power. If you had not eaten at my table first, I would tear your tongues out and chop off your hands, both of them, and send you back with nothing but your feet, to teach you to think twice before starting on another expedition. As for all that about the blessed gods, it is nothing but a pack of lies.
    • Spoken by Aeetes. Note: "The table was looked upon by the ancients as a sacred thing; and a violation of the laws of hospitality was esteemed the highest profanation imaginable." Francis Fawkes, The Argonautics of Apollonius Rhodius (1780), p. 364.

  • Grazing on the plain of Ares, I have a pair of bronze-footed and fire-breathing bulls. These I yoke and drive over the hard fallow of the plain, quickly ploughing a four-acre field up to the ridge at either end. Then I sow the furrows, not with corn, but with the teeth of a monstrous serpent, which presently come up in the form of armed men, whom I cut down and kill with my spear as they rise up against me on all sides. It is morning when I yoke my team and by evening I have done my harvesting. That is what I do. If you, sir, can do as well, you may carry off the fleece to your king's palace on the very same day.
    • Aeetes' challenge to Jason.

  • There is a girl living in Aeetes' palace whom the goddess Hecate has taught to handle with extraordinary skill all the magic herbs that grow on dry land or in running water. With these she can put out a raging fire, she can stop rivers as they roar in spate, arrest a star, and check the movement of the sacred moon.
    • Compare:
      • Hinc mihi Massylae gentis monstrata sacerdos,
        Hesperidum templi custos, epulasque draconi
        quae dabat et sacros servabat in arbore ramos,
        spargens umida mella soporiferumque papaver.
        Haec se carminibus promittit solvere mentes
        quas velit, ast aliis duras immittere curas,
        sistere aquam fluviis et vertere sidera retro,
        nocturnosque movet Manis: mugire videbis
        sub pedibus terram et descendere montibus ornos.
        • Thence a priestess of Massylian race has been shown me, warden of the fane of the Hesperides, who gave dainties to the dragon and guarded the sacred boughs on the tree, sprinkling dewy honey and slumberous poppies. With her spells she professes to set free the hearts of whom she wills, but on others to bring cruel love-pains; to stay the flow of rivers and turn back the stars; she awakes the ghosts of night; and thou shalt mark earth rumbling under thy feet and ash-trees coming down from mountains.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, lines 483–491 (tr. H. R. Fairclough)

  • Τῆς δ᾽ ἐρύθηνε παρήια· δὴν δέ μιν αἰδὼς
    παρθενίη κατέρυκεν ἀμείψασθαι μεμαυῖαν.
    μῦθος δ᾽ ἄλλοτε μέν οἱ ἐπ᾽ ἀκροτάτης ἀνέτελλεν
    γλώσσης, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἔνερθε κατὰ στῆθος πεπότητο.
    πολλάκι δ᾽ ἱμερόεν μὲν ἀνὰ στόμα θυῖεν ἐνισπεῖν·
    φθογγῇ δ᾽ οὐ προύβαινε παροιτέρω· ὀψὲ δ᾽ ἔειπεν
    τοῖα δόλῳ· θρασέες γὰρ ἐπεκλονέεσκον Ἔρωτες.
    • Medea's cheeks grew red, and for a long time maidenly shame held her back, though she longed to reply. Words rose to the very tip of her tongue, but then flew back again deep into her chest; often they rushed up to her lovely mouth to be uttered, but then went no further and were never spoken. Finally she did speak, and with cunning, for the bold Loves buffeted hard against her.
      • Lines 681–687 (tr. Richard Hunter)

Silence reigned over the deepening dark. But gentle sleep did not visit Medea. In her yearning for Jason, fretful cares kept her awake.
  • Νὺξ μὲν ἔπειτ᾽ ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἄγεν κνέφας· οἱ δ᾽ ἐνὶ πόντῳ
    ναῦται εἰς Ἑλίκην τε καὶ ἀστέρας Ὠρίωνος
    ἔδρακον ἐκ νηῶν· ὕπνοιο δὲ καί τις ὁδίτης
    ἤδη καὶ πυλαωρὸς ἐέλδετο· καί τινα παίδων
    μητέρα τεθνεώτων ἀδινὸν περὶ κῶμ᾽ ἐκάλυπτεν·
    οὐδὲ κυνῶν ὑλακὴ ἔτ᾽ ἀνὰ πτόλιν, οὐ θρόος ἦεν
    σιγὴ δὲ μελαινομένην ἔχεν ὄρφνην.
    ἀλλὰ μάλ᾽ οὐ Μήδειαν ἐπὶ γλυκερὸς λάβεν ὕπνος.
    πολλὰ γὰρ Αἰσονίδαο πόθῳ μελεδήματ᾽ ἔγειρεν
    δειδυῖαν ταύρων κρατερὸν μένος, οἷσιν ἔμελλεν
    φθίσθαι ἀεικελίῃ μοίρῃ κατὰ νειὸν Ἄρηος.
    Πυκνὰ δέ οἱ κραδίη στηθέων ἔντοσθεν ἔθυιεν.
    • Night threw her shadow on the world. Sailors out at sea looked up at the circling Bear and the stars of Orion. Travellers and watchmen longed for sleep, and oblivion came at last to mothers mourning for their children's death. In the town, dogs ceased to bark and men to call to one another; silence reigned over the deepening dark. But gentle sleep did not visit Medea. In her yearning for Jason, fretful cares kept her awake. She feared the great strength of the bulls; she saw him face them in the field of Ares; she saw him meet an ignominious end. Her heart fluttered within her, restless...
      • Lines 744–755. Compare:
        • Nox erat et placidum carpebant fessa soporem
          corpora per terras, silvaeque et saeva quierant
          aequora, cum medio volvuntur sidera lapsu,
          cum tacet omnis ager, pecudes pictaeque volucres,
          quaeque lacus late liquidos quaeque aspera dumis
          rura tenent, somno positae sub nocte silenti.
          [lenibant curas et corda oblita laborum.]
          at non infelix animi Phoenissa, neque umquam
          solvitur in somnos oculisve aut pectore noctem
          accipit: ingeminant curae rursusque resurgens
          saevit amor magnoque irarum fluctuat aestu.
          sic adeo insistit secumque ita corde volutat.
          • The dead of night,
            and weary living creatures throughout the world
            are enjoying peaceful sleep. The woods and savage seas
            are calm, at rest, and the circling stars are gliding on
            in their midnight courses, all the fields lie hushed
            and the flocks and gay and gorgeous birds that haunt
            the deep clear pools and the thorny country thickets
            lie quiet now, under the silent night, asleep.
            But not the tragic queen...
            torn in spirit, Dido will not dissolve
            into sleep—her eyes, her mind won't yield tonight.
            Her torments multiply, over and over her passion
            surges back into heaving waves of rage—
            she keeps on brooding, obsessions roil her heart.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, lines 522–533 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • Ἠελίου ὥς τίς τε δόμοις ἐνιπάλλεται αἴγλη
    ὕδατος ἐξανιοῦσα, τὸ δὴ νέον ἠὲ λέβητι
    ἠέ που ἐν γαυλῷ κέχυται· ἡ δ᾽ ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα
    ὠκείῃ στροφάλιγγι τινάσσεται ἀίσσουσα.
    • As a sunbeam quivers upon the walls of a house when flung up from water, which is just poured forth in a caldron or a pail may be; and hither and thither on the swift eddy does it dart and dance along.
      • Lines 756–759 (tr. R. C. Seaton). Compare:
        • Sicut aquae tremulum labris ubi lumen aenis
          sole repercussum aut radiantis imagine lunae
          omnia pervolitat late loca, iamque sub auras
          erigitur summique ferit laquearia tecti.
          • As when / the quivering light of water in bronze basins / reflected from the sun or from the moon's / glittering image glides across all things / and now darts skyward, strikes the roof's high ceiling.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VIII, lines 22–25 (tr. Allen Mandelbaum)
        • Qual d'acqua chiara il tremolante lume,
          dal sol percossa o da' notturni rai,
          per gli ampli tetti va con lungo salto
          a destra et a sinistra, e basso et alto.
          • As when, from sun or nightly planet shed,
            Clear water has the quivering radiance caught,
            The flashes through the spacious mansion fly,
            With reaching leap, right, left, and low, and high.
          • Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, Canto VIII, stanza 71 (tr. W. S. Rose)
        • Qual o reflexo lume do polido
          Espelho de aço ou de cristal fermoso,
          Que, do raio solar sendo ferido,
          Vai ferir noutra parte, luminoso,
          E, sendo da ouciosa mão movido
          Pela casa, do moço curioso,
          Anda pelas paredes e telhado
          Trémulo, aqui e ali, e dessossegado.
          • As in the sun's bright beam the gamesome boy
            Plays with the shining steel or crystal toy,
            Swift and irregular, by sudden starts,
            The living ray with viewless motion darts,
            Swift o'er the wall, the floor, the roof, by turns
            The sunbeam dances, and the radiance burns.
          • Luís de Camões, The Lusiads, Canto VIII, stanza 87 (tr. W. J. Mickle)

  • Δάκρυ δ᾽ ἀπ᾽ ὀφθαλμῶν ἐλέῳ ῥέεν· ἔνδοθι δ᾽ αἰεὶ
    τεῖρ᾽ ὀδύνη σμύχουσα διὰ χροός, ἀμφί τ᾽ ἀραιὰς
    ἶνας καὶ κεφαλῆς ὑπὸ νείατον ἰνίον ἄχρις,
    ἔνθ᾽ ἀλεγεινότατον δύνει ἄχος, ὁππότ᾽ ἀνίας
    ἀκάματοι πραπίδεσσιν ἐνισκίμψωσιν Ἔρωτες.
    • The tear of pity flowed from her eyes, and ever within anguish tortured her, a smouldering fire through her frame, and about her fine nerves and deep down beneath the nape of the neck where the pain enters keenest, whenever the unwearied Loves direct against the heart their shafts of agony.
      • Lines 761–765 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Δειλὴ ἐγώ, νῦν ἔνθα κακῶν ἢ ἔνθα γένωμαι;
    Πάντῃ μοι φρένες εἰσὶν ἀμήχανοι· οὐδέ τις ἀλκὴ
    πήματος· ἀλλ᾽ αὔτως φλέγει ἔμπεδον.
    • Poor wretch, must I toss hither and thither in woe? On every side my heart is in despair; nor is there any help for my pain; but it burneth ever thus.
      • Lines 771–773 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Ποῖον δ᾽ ἐπὶ μῦθον ἐνίψω;
    τίς δὲ δόλος, τίς μῆτις ἐπίκλοπος ἔσσετ᾽ ἀρωγῆς.
    • What story shall I tell them? What trickery will serve?
      • Lines 780–781

Ἐρρέτω αἰδώς, ἐρρέτω ἀγλαΐη.

'Away with modesty, farewell to my good name!'

  • Δύσμορος· οὐ μὲν ἔολπα καταφθιμένοιό περ ἔμπης
    λωφήσειν ἀχέων· τότε δ᾽ ἂν κακὸν ἄμμι πέλοιτο,
    κεῖνος ὅτε ζωῆς ἀπαμείρεται. ἐρρέτω αἰδώς,
    ἐρρέτω ἀγλαΐη· ὁ δ᾽ ἐμῇ ἰότητι σαωθεὶς
    ἀσκηθής, ἵνα οἱ θυμῷ φίλον, ἔνθα νέοιτο.
    αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν αὐτῆμαρ, ὅτ᾽ ἐξανύσειεν ἄεθλον,
    τεθναίην, ἢ λαιμὸν ἀναρτήσασα μελάθρῳ,
    ἢ καὶ πασσαμένη ῥαιστήρια φάρμακα θυμοῦ.
    ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς φθιμένῃ μοι ἐπιλλίξουσιν ὀπίσσω
    κερτομίας· τηλοῦ δὲ πόλις περὶ πᾶσα βοήσει
    πότμον ἐμόν· καί κέν με διὰ στόματος φορέουσαι
    Κολχίδες ἄλλυδις ἄλλαι ἀεικέα μωμήσονται·
    ἥτις κηδομένη τόσον ἀνέρος ἀλλοδαποῖο
    κάτθανεν, ἥτις δῶμα καὶ οὓς ᾔσχυνε τοκῆας,
    μαργοσύνῃ εἴξασα. τί δ᾽ οὐκ ἐμὸν ἔσσεται αἶσχος;
    ᾤ μοι ἐμῆς ἄτης. ἦ τ᾽ ἂν πολὺ κέρδιον εἴη
    αὐτῇ ἐν νυκτὶ λιπεῖν βίον ἐν θαλάμοισιν
    πότμῳ ἀνωίστῳ, κάκ᾽ ἐλέγχεα πάντα φυγοῦσαν,
    πρὶν τάδε λωβήεντα καὶ οὐκ ὀνομαστὰ τελέσσαι.
    • Indeed I am ill-starred, for even if he dies I have no hope of happiness; with Jason dead, I should taste real misery. Away with modesty, farewell to my good name! Saved from all harm by me, let him go where he pleases, and let me die. On the very day of his success I could hang myself from a rafter or take a deadly poison. Yet even so my death would never save me from their wicked tongues. My fate would be the talk of every city in the world; and here the Colchian women would bandy my name about and drag it in mud – the girl who fancied a foreigner enough to die for him, disgraced her parents and her home, went off her head for love. What infamy would not be mine? Ah, how I grieve now for the folly of my passion! Better to die here in my room this very night, passing from life unnoticed, unreproached, than to carry through this horrible, this despicable scheme.
      • Lines 783–801

  • Ἦ, καὶ φωριαμὸν μετεκίαθεν, ᾗ ἔνι πολλὰ
    φάρμακά οἱ, τὰ μὲν ἐσθλά, τὰ δὲ ῥαιστήρι᾽, ἔκειτο.
    ἐνθεμένη δ᾽ ἐπὶ γούνατ᾽ ὀδύρετο. δεῦε δὲ κόλπους
    ἄλληκτον δακρύοισι, τὰ δ᾽ ἔρρεεν ἀσταγὲς αὔτως,
    αἴν᾽ ὀλοφυρομένης τὸν ἑὸν μόρον. ἵετο δ᾽ ἥγε
    φάρμακα λέξασθαι θυμοφθόρα, τόφρα πάσαιτο.
    ἤδη καὶ δεσμοὺς ἀνελύετο φωριαμοῖο,
    ἐξελέειν μεμαυῖα, δυσάμμορος. ἀλλά οἱ ἄφνω
    δεῖμ᾽ ὀλοὸν στυγεροῖο κατὰ φρένας ἦλθ᾽ Ἀίδαο.
    ἔσχετο δ᾽ ἀμφασίῃ δηρὸν χρόνον, ἀμφὶ δὲ πᾶσαι
    βιότοιο μεληδόνες ἰνδάλλοντο.
    μνήσατο μὲν τερπνῶν, ὅσ᾽ ἐνὶ ζωοῖσι πέλονται,
    μνήσαθ᾽ ὁμηλικίης περιγηθέος, οἷά τε κούρη·
    καί τέ οἱ ἠέλιος γλυκίων γένετ᾽ εἰσοράασθαι,
    ἢ πάρος, εἰ ἐτεόν γε νόῳ ἐπεμαίεθ᾽ ἕκαστα.
    καὶ τὴν μέν ῥα πάλιν σφετέρων ἀποκάτθετο γούνων,
    Ἥρης ἐννεσίῃσι μετάτροπος, οὐδ᾽ ἔτι βουλὰς
    ἄλλῃ δοιάζεσκεν.
    • With that she went and fetched the box in which she kept her many drugs, healing or deadly, and putting it on her knees she wept. Tears ran unchecked in torrents down her cheeks and drenched her lap as she bemoaned her own sad destiny. She was determined now to take a poison from the box and swallow it; and in a moment she was fumbling with the fastening of the lid in her unhappy eagerness to reach the fatal drug. But suddenly she was overcome by the hateful thought of death, and for a long time she stayed her hand in silent horror. Visions of life and all its fascinating cares rose up before her. She thought of the pleasures that the living can enjoy. She thought of her happy playmates, as a young girl will. And now, setting its true value on all this, it seemed to her a sweeter thing to see the sun than it had ever been before. So, prompted by Hera, she changed her mind and put the box away.
      • Lines 802–819

  • Πυκνὰ δ᾽ ἀνὰ κληῖδας ἑῶυ λύεσκε θυράων,
    αἴγλην σκεπτομένη· τῇ δ᾽ ἀσπάσιον βάλε φέγγος
    Ἠριγενής, κίνυντο δ᾽ ἀνὰ πτολίεθρον ἕκαστοι.
    • Time after time she opened her door to catch the first glimmer of day; and she rejoiced when early Dawn lit up the sky and people in the town began to stir.
      • Lines 822–824

The pair then faced each other, silent, unable to speak, like oaks or tall firs, which at first when there is no wind stand quiet and firmly rooted on the mountains, but afterwards stir in the wind and rustle together ceaselessly.
  • Οὐδ᾽ ἄρα Μηδείης θυμὸς τράπετ᾽ ἄλλα νοῆσαι,
    μελπομένης περ ὅμως· πᾶσαι δέ οἱ, ἥντιν᾽ ἀθύροι
    μολπήν, οὐκ ἐπὶ δηρὸν ἐφήνδανεν ἑψιάασθαι.
    ἀλλὰ μεταλλήγεσκεν ἀμήχανος, οὐδέ ποτ᾽ ὄσσε
    ἀμφιπόλων μεθ᾽ ὅμιλον ἔχ᾽ ἀτρέμας· ἐς δὲ κελεύθους
    τηλόσε παπταίνεσκε, παρακλίνουσα παρειάς.
    ἦ θαμὰ δὴ στηθέων ἐάγη κέαρ, ὁππότε δοῦπον
    ἢ ποδὸς ἢ ἀνέμοιο παραθρέξαντα δοάσσαι.
    αὐτὰρ ὅγ᾽ οὐ μετὰ δηρὸν ἐελδομένῃ ἐφαάνθη
    ὑψόσ᾽ ἀναθρώσκων ἅ τε Σείριος Ὠκεανοῖο,
    ὃς δή τοι καλὸς μὲν ἀρίζηλός τ᾽ ἐσιδέσθαι
    ἀντέλλει, μήλοισι δ᾽ ἐν ἄσπετον ἧκεν ὀιζύν·
    ἄρα τῇ καλὸς μὲν ἐπήλυθεν εἰσοράασθαι
    Αἰσονίδης, κάματον δὲ δυσίμερον ὦρσε φαανθείς.
    δ᾽ ἄρα οἱ κραδίη στηθέων πέσεν, ὄμματα δ᾽ αὔτως
    ἤχλυσαν· θερμὸν δὲ παρηίδας εἷλεν ἔρευθος.
    γούνατα δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ὀπίσω οὔτε προπάροιθεν ἀεῖραι
    ἔσθενεν, ἀλλ᾽ ὑπένερθε πάγη πόδας. αἱ δ᾽ ἄρα τείως
    ἀμφίπολοι μάλα πᾶσαι ἀπὸ σφείων ἐλίασθεν.
    τὼ δ᾽ ἄνεῳ καὶ ἄναυδοι ἐφέστασαν ἀλλήλοισιν,
    ἢ δρυσίν, ἢ μακρῇσιν ἐειδόμενοι ἐλάτῃσιν,
    τε παρᾶσσον ἕκηλοι ἐν οὔρεσιν ἐρρίζωνται,
    νηνεμίῃ· μετὰ δ᾽ αὖτις ὑπὸ ῥιπῆς ἀνέμοιο
    κινύμεναι ὁμάδησαν ἀπείριτον· ὧς ἄρα τώγε
    μέλλον ἅλις φθέγξασθαι ὑπὸ πνοιῇσιν Ἔρωτος.
    • Despite the games, Medea's spirit could not be distracted to other thoughts. Whatever game she played, none gave her pleasure or kept her amused for long, but she kept breaking off, unable to concentrate. Nor could she keep her eyes fixed on the crowd of maidservants, but constantly she turned her face away and peered into the distance along the paths. Often indeed did her heart within her breast seem to shatter, whenever she was unsure whether what she heard was the rapid sound of a foot or of the wind. Soon, however, he appeared to her as she desired, like Sirius leaping high from Ocean; it rises brilliant and clear to behold, but to flocks it brings terrible misery. Just so did the son of Aison approach her, brilliant to behold, but his appearance roused the sickening weariness of desire. Her heart within her breast dropped, her eyes grew misty, and a hot flush seized her cheeks; she had no strength at all to move her legs, but her feet were held fast beneath her. In the meantime all the maidservants had withdrawn from them. The pair then faced each other, silent, unable to speak, like oaks or tall firs, which at first when there is no wind stand quiet and firmly rooted on the mountains, but afterwards stir in the wind and rustle together ceaselessly. Just so were this pair destined to have much to say under the inspiration of Love's breezes.
      • Lines 948–972 (tr. Richard Hunter)

Thus he spake, honouring her; and she cast her eyes down with a smile divinely sweet; and her soul melted within her.
  • Ὧς φάτο κυδαίνων· ἡ δ᾽ ἐγκλιδὸν ὄσσε βαλοῦσα
    νεκτάρεον μείδησ᾽ ἐχύθη δέ οἱ ἔνδοθι θυμὸς
    αἴνῳ ἀειρομένης.
    • Thus he spake, honouring her; and she cast her eyes down with a smile divinely sweet; and her soul melted within her.
      • Lines 948–972 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Ἰαίνετο δὲ φρένας εἴσω
    τηκομένη, οἷόν τε περὶ ῥοδέῃσιν ἐέρση
    τήκεται ἠῴοισιν ἰαινομένη φαέεσσιν.
    • Her heart was warmed and melted like the dew on roses under the morning sun.
      • Lines 1019–1021

  • Ἄμφω δ᾽ ἄλλοτε μέν τε κατ᾽ οὔδεος ὄμματ᾽ ἔρειδον
    αἰδόμενοι, ὁτὲ δ᾽ αὖτις ἐπὶ σφίσι βάλλον ὀπωπάς,
    ἱμερόεν φαιδρῇσιν ὑπ᾽ ὀφρύσι μειδιόωντες.
    • At one moment both of them were staring at the ground in deep embarrassment; at the next they were smiling and glancing at each other with the love-light in their eyes.
      • Lines 1022–1024

  • Ἑλλάδι που τάδε καλά, συνημοσύνας ἀλεγύνειν.
    • In Hellas, no doubt, honouring agreements is a fine thing.
      • Line 1105 (tr. Richard Hunter)

From somewhere in the bowels of the earth ... the pair of bulls appeared, breathing flames of fire.
  • And now, from somewhere in the bowels of the earth, from the smoky stronghold where they slept, the pair of bulls appeared, breathing flames of fire. The Argonauts were terrified at the sight. But Jason planting his feet apart stood to receive them... He held his shield in front of him, and the two bulls, bellowing loudly, charged and butted it with their strong horns...

  • Ὡς δ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἐνὶ τρητοῖσιν ἐύρρινοι χοάνοισιν
    φῦσαι χαλκήων ὁτὲ μέν τ᾽ ἀναμαρμαίρουσιν,
    πῦρ ὀλοόν πιμπρᾶσαι, ὅτ᾽ αὖ λήγουσιν ἀυτμῆς,
    δεινὸς δ᾽ ἐξ αὐτοῦ πέλεται βρόμος, ὁππότ᾽ ἀίξῃ
    νειόθεν· ὧς ἄρα τώγε θοὴν φλόγα φυσιόωντες
    ἐκ στομάτων ὁμάδευν, τὸν δ᾽ ἄμφεπε δήιον αἶθος
    βάλλον ἅ τε στεροπή· κούρης δέ ἑ φάρμακ᾽ ἔρυτο.
    • The bulls snorted and spurted from their mouths devouring flames, like a perforated crucible when the leather bellows of the smith, sometimes ceasing, sometimes blowing hard, have made a blaze and the fire leaps up from below with a terrific roar. The deadly heat assailed [Jason] on all sides with the force of lightning. But he was protected by Medea's magic.
      • Lines 1299–1305

Book IV. Homeward Bound[edit]

  • Αὐτὴ νῦν κάματόν γε, θεά, καὶ δήνεα κούρης
    Κολχίδος ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, Διὸς τέκος.
    • Now tell us, Muse, in your own heavenly tongue how the Colchian maiden schemed and suffered.
      • Lines 1–2

  • Κύσσε δ᾽ ἑόν τε λέχος καὶ δικλίδας ἀμφοτέρωθεν
    σταθμούς, καὶ τοίχων ἐπαφήσατο, χερσί τε μακρὸν
    ῥηξαμένη πλόκαμον, θαλάμῳ μνημήια μητρὶ
    κάλλιπε παρθενίης.
    • She kissed her bed, and the folding-doors on both sides, and stroked the walls, and tearing away in her hands a long tress of hair, she left it in the chamber for her mother, a memorial of her maidenhood.
      • Lines 26–29 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

The serpent with his sharp unsleeping eyes had seen them coming and now confronted them, stretching out his long neck and hissing terribly.
  • Αὐτὰρ ὁ ἀντικρὺ περιμήκεα τείνετο δειρὴν
    ὀξὺς ἀύπνοισιν προϊδὼν ὄφις ὀφθαλμοῖσιν
    νισσομένους, ῥοίζει δὲ πελώριον· ἀμφὶ δὲ μακραὶ
    ἠιόνες ποταμοῖο καὶ ἄσπετον ἴαχεν ἄλσος.
    • But the serpent with his sharp unsleeping eyes had seen them coming and now confronted them, stretching out his long neck and hissing terribly. The high banks of the river and the deep recesses of the wood threw back the sound...
      • Lines 127–130. Compare:
        • ... de culmine summo
          pastorale canit signum cornuque recurvo
          Tartaream intendit vocem, qua protinus omne
          contremuit nemus et silvae insonuere profundae...
          • She lights on the highest peak and sounds the herdsman's
            call to arms, a hellish blast from her twisted horn,
            and straightway all the copses shiver, all the woods
            resound to their darkest depths...
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VII, lines 512–515 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • Δείματι δ᾽ ἐξέγροντο λεχωίδες, ἀμφὶ δὲ παισὶν
    νηπιάχοις, οἵ τέ σφιν ὑπ᾽ ἀγκαλίδεσσιν ἴαυον,
    ῥοίζῳ παλλομένοις χεῖρας βάλον ἀσχαλόωσαι.
    • Babies sleeping in their mothers' arms were startled by the hiss, and their anxious mothers waking in alarm hugged them closer to their breasts.
      • Lines 136–138. Compare:
        • Et trepidae matres pressere ad pectora natos.
          • Anxious mothers clutched their babies to their breasts.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VII, line 518 (tr. Robert Fagles)
        • E as mães, que o som terríbil escutaram,
          Aos peitos os filhinhos apertaram.
          • And mothers who that baleful noise did hear,
            Clasp to their breasts their tender babes for fear.
          • Luís de Camões, The Lusiads, Canto IV, stanza 28 (tr. Richard Fanshawe)

Lord Jason held up the great fleece in his arms. The shimmering wool threw a fiery glow on his fair cheeks and forehead; and he rejoiced in it, glad as a girl who catches on her silken gown the lovely light of the full moon.
  • Ὡς δὲ σεληναίην διχομήνιδα παρθένος αἴγλην
    ὑψόθεν ἐξανέχουσαν ὑπωροφίου θαλάμοιο
    λεπταλέῳ ἑανῷ ὑποΐσχεται· ἐν δέ οἱ ἦτορ
    χαίρει δερκομένης καλὸν σέλας· ὧς τότ᾽ Ἰήσων
    γηθόσυνος μέγα κῶας ἑαῖς ἐναείρατο χερσίν·
    καί οἱ ἐπὶ ξανθῇσι παρηίσιν ἠδὲ μετώπῳ
    μαρμαρυγῇ ληνέων φλογὶ εἴκελον ἷζεν ἔρευθος.
    • Lord Jason held up the great fleece in his arms. The shimmering wool threw a fiery glow on his fair cheeks and forehead; and he rejoiced in it, glad as a girl who catches on her silken gown the lovely light of the full moon as it climbs the sky and looks into her attic room.
      • Lines 167–173

  • θάμβησαν δὲ νέοι μέγα κῶας ἰδόντες
    λαμπόμενον στεροπῇ ἴκελον Διός. ὦρτο δ᾽ ἕκαστος
    ψαῦσαι ἐελδόμενος δέχθαι τ᾽ ἐνὶ χερσὶν ἑῇσιν.
    • The youths marvelled to behold the mighty fleece, which gleamed like the lightning of Zeus. And each one started up eager to touch it and clasp it in his hands.
      • Lines 184–186 (tr. R. C. Seaton). Compare:
        • Ille deae donis et tanto laetus honore
          expleri nequit atque oculos per singula voluit,
          miraturque interque manus et bracchia versat...
          • Aeneas takes delight
            in the goddess' gifts and the honor of it all
            as he runs his eyes across them piece by piece.
            He cannot get enough of them, filled with wonder,
            turning them over, now with his hands, now his arms...
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VIII, lines 617–619 (tr. Robert Fagles)
        • But Tristram then despoiling that dead knight
          Of all those goodly implements of praise,
          Long fed his greedy eyes with the fair sight
          Of the bright metal, shining like sun rays;
          Handling and turning them a thousand ways.

  • I hope that you will think of me some day when you yourself are suffering. I hope the fleece will vanish like an idle dream, down into Erebus. And may my avenging Furies chase you from your home and so repay me for all I have endured through your inhumanity.
    • Medea to Jason

Σχέτλι᾽ Ἔρως, μέγα πῆμα, μέγα στύγος ἀνθρώποισιν, / ἐκ σέθεν οὐλόμεναί τ᾽ ἔριδες στοναχαί τε γόοι τε, / ἄλγεά τ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ἀπείρονα τετρήχασιν.

Unconscionable Love, bane and tormentor of mankind, parent of strife, fountain of tears, source of a thousand ills.

  • Σχέτλι᾽ Ἔρως, μέγα πῆμα, μέγα στύγος ἀνθρώποισιν,
    ἐκ σέθεν οὐλόμεναί τ᾽ ἔριδες στοναχαί τε γόοι τε,
    ἄλγεά τ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ἀπείρονα τετρήχασιν.
    δυσμενέων ἐπὶ παισὶ κορύσσεο, δαῖμον, ἀερθείς,
    οἷος Μηδείῃ στυγερὴν φρεσὶν ἔμβαλες ἄτην.
    • Unconscionable Love, bane and tormentor of mankind, parent of strife, fountain of tears, source of a thousand ills, rise, mighty Power, and fall upon the sons of our enemies with all the force you used upon Medea when you filled her with insensate fury.
      • Lines 445–449. Compare:
        • Improbe Amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis!
          • Unconscionable Love,
            To what extremes will you not drive our hearts!
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, line 412 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)

  • Αἶψα δὲ κούρη
    ἔμπαλιν ὄμματ᾽ ἔνεικε, καλυψαμένη ὀθόνῃσιν,
    μὴ φόνον ἀθρήσειε κασιγνήτοιο τυπέντος.
    • Medea quickly turned aside, covering her eyes with her veil so as not to see her brother's blood spilt.
      • Lines 465–467; the murder of Absyrtus.

  • As they ran before the gale, there suddenly cried out to them in human speech the talking beam of Dodonian oak that Athene had fitted in the middle of Argo's stem... Out of the night Argo had spoken.

  • Time, combining this with that, brought the animal creation into order.

  • There is something else that I must tell you, a prophecy concerning your son Achilles, who is now with Cheiron the Centaur and is fed by water-nymphs though he should be at your breast. When he comes to the Elysian Fields, it has been arranged that he shall marry Medea the daughter of Aeetes...
    • Here to Thetis. Note: "According to the Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius (Argon. iv. 815), the first to affirm that Achilles married Medea in the Elysian Fields was the poet Ibycus, and the tale was afterwards repeated by Simonides." James Frazer, The Library (Apollodorus), Vol. II (1921), p. 217.

  • Ἔνθα σφιν κοῦραι Νηρηίδες ἄλλοθεν ἄλλαι
    ἤντεον· ἡ δ᾽ ὄπιθεν πτέρυγος θίγε πηδαλίοιο
    δῖα Θέτις, Πλαγκτῇσιν ἐνὶ σπιλάδεσσιν ἐρύσσαι.
    • The Nereids, swimming in from all directions, met them here, and Lady Thetis coming up astern laid her hand on the blade of the steering-oar to guide them through the Wandering Rocks.
      • Lines 930–932. Compare:
        • Cymothoe simul et Triton adnixus acuto
          detrudunt navis scopulo.
          • Struggling shoulder-to-shoulder, Triton and Cymothoë
            hoist and heave the ships from the jagged rocks.
          • Virgil, Aeneid, Book I, lines 144–145 (tr. Robert Fagles)
        • ... Convoca as alvas filhas de Nereu ...
          Repartem-se e rodeiam nesse instante
          As naus ligeiras, que iam por diante ...
          Põem no madeiro duro o brando peito,
          Para detrás a forte nau forçando ...
          • From heav'n she darted to the wat'ry plain,
            And call'd the sea-born nymphs, a lovely train ...
            The curving billows to their breasts divide
            And give a yielding passage through the tide ...
            Against the leader's prow, her lovely breast
            With more than mortal force the goddess press'd;
            The ship recoiling trembles on the tide,
            The nymphs, in help, pour round on every side ...
            The ship bounds up, half lifted from the wave,
            And, trembling, hovers o'er the wat'ry grave ...
            So toil'd the nymphs, and strain'd their panting force
            To turn the navy from its fatal course.
          • Luís de Camões, The Lusiads, Canto II, stanzas 18–22 (tr. W. J. Mickle)

  • Ὡς δ᾽ ὁπόταν δελφῖνες ὑπὲξ ἁλὸς εὐδιόωντες
    σπερχομένην ἀγεληδὸν ἑλίσσωνται περὶ νῆα,
    ἄλλοτε μἑν προπάροιθεν ὁρώμενοι, ἄλλοτ᾽ ὄπισθεν,
    ἄλλοτε παρβολάδην, ναύτῃσι δὲ χάρμα τέτυκται·
    ὧς αἱ ὑπεκπροθέουσαι ἐπήτριμοι εἱλίσσοντο
    Ἀργῴῃ περὶ νηί, Θέτις δ᾽ ἴθυνε κέλευθον..
    • As when in fair weather herds of dolphins come up from the depths and sport in circles round a ship as it speeds along, now seen in front, now behind, now again at the side and delight comes to the sailors; so the Nereids darted upward and circled in their ranks round the ship Argo, while Thetis guided its course.
      • Lines 933–938 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • Αἱ δ᾽, ὥστ᾽ ἠμαθόεντος ἐπισχεδὸν αἰγιαλοῖο
    παρθενικαί, δίχα κόλπον ἐπ᾽ ἰξύας εἱλίξασαι
    σφαίρῃ ἀθύρουσιν περιηγέι· αἱ μὲν ἔπειτα
    ἄλλη ὑπ᾽ ἐξ ἄλλης δέχεται καὶ ἐς ἠέρα πέμπει
    ὕψι μεταχρονίην· ἡ δ᾽ οὔποτε πίλναται οὔδει·
    ὧς αἱ νῆα θέουσαν ἀμοιβαδὶς ἄλλοθεν ἄλλη
    πέμπε διηερίην ἐπὶ κύμασιν, αἰὲν ἄπωθεν
    • It was like the game that young girls play beside a sandy beach, when they roll their skirts up to their waists on either side and toss a ball round to one another, throwing it high in the air so that it never touches the ground. Thus, though the water swirled and seethed around them, these sea-nymphs kept Argo from the Rocks.
      • Lines 948–955

  • Οἷον ὅτε κλωστῆρα γυνὴ ταλαεργὸς ἑλίσσει
    ἐννυχίη· τῇ δ᾽ ἀμφὶ κινύρεται ὀρφανὰ τέκνα
    χηροσύνῃ πόσιος· σταλάει δ᾽ ὑπὸ δάκρυ παρειὰς
    μνωομένης, οἵη μιν ἐπὶ σμυγερὴ λάβεν αἶσα·
    ὧς τῆς ἰκμαίνοντο παρηίδες· ἐν δέ οἱ ἦτορ
    ὀξείῃς εἰλεῖτο πεπαρμένον ἀμφ᾽ ὀδύνῃσιν.
    • Even as when a toiling woman turns her spindle through the night, and round her moan her orphan children, for she is a widow, and down her cheeks fall the tears, as she bethinks her how dreary a lot hath seized her; so Medea's cheeks were wet; and her heart within her was in agony, pierced with sharp pain.
      • Lines 1062–1067 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

  • The hearts of all were chilled, their cheeks grew pale, and they began to stray, dragging their feet along the endless beach. So, in some doomed city, when the gods' statues are sweating blood and bellowing is heard in the temples, or the midday sun has been eclipsed and stars shine out in the darkened sky, men wander ghostlike in the streets, expecting war, or pestilence, or the flooding of their fields by torrential rain.

  • Medea's maids had gathered round their mistress.They laid their golden tresses in the dust and all night long made piteous lament, shrill as the twittering of unfledged birds fallen from a cleft in the rock and crying for their mother, and sad as the music that is echoed by dewy meadows and the river's lovely stream when swans begin to sing on the banks of Pactolus.

  • As a man, when the month begins, sees or thinks he sees the new moon through the clouds.
    • Compare:
      • Qualem primo qui surgere mense
        aut videt aut vidisse putat per nubila lunam.
        • As one / when the month is young may see or seem to see
          the new moon rising up through banks of clouds.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book VI, lines 453–454 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • They also took the sheep.

  • They gave him solemn burial, marched in full armour three times round the grave, and raised a mound above it.
    • Compare:
      • Ter circum accensos cincti fulgentibus armis
        decurrere rogos, ter maestum funeris ignem
        lustravere in equis ululatusque ore dedere.
        • Three times they ran
          their ritual rounds about the burning pyres,
          in gleaming bronze, three times they rode
          on horseback, circling the fires lit in mourning,
          lifting their wails of sorrow.
        • Virgil, Aeneid, Book XI, lines 188–190 (tr. Robert Fagles)

  • She flung at him the full force of her malevolence, and in an ecstasy of rage she plied him with images of death.

  • Αἵδε δ᾽ ἀοιδαὶ
    εἰς ἔτος ἐξ ἔτεος γλυκερώτεραι εἶεν ἀείδειν
    • May these songs year after year be sweeter to sing among men.
      • Lines 1773–1775 (tr. R. C. Seaton)

Quotes about Apollonius[edit]

  • Ἐπείτοιγε καὶ ἄπτωτος ὁ Ἀπολλώνιος ἐν τοῖς Ἀργοναύταις ποιητὴς ... ἆῤ οὖν Ὅμηρος ἂν μᾶλλον ἢ Ἀπολλώνιος ἐθέλοις γενέσθαι;
    • Apollonius, for instance, in his Argonautica is an impeccable poet ... Yet would you not rather be Homer than Apollonius?
    • Longinus, On the Sublime, XXXIII, 3–4 (Loeb translation)
  • The connexion between Virgil and Apollonius is closer than could have been presumed from any mere general considerations. After the Iliad and Odyssey, the Argonautics is the only poem which the intelligent criticism of antiquity declares to have furnished an actual model to the author of the Aeneid, and the similarity is one which the reader of the two works does not take long to discover. Not only is the passion of Medea in Apollonius' Third Book confessedly the counterpart of the passion of Dido in Virgil's Fourth, but the instances are far from few where Virgil has conveyed an incident from his Alexandrian predecessor, altering and adapting, but not wholly disguising it. The departure of Jason from his father and mother resembles the departure of Pallas from Evander; the song of Orpheus is contracted into the song of Iopas, as it had already been expanded into the song of Silenus; the reception of the Argonauts by Hypsipyle is like the reception of the Trojans by Dido, and the parting of Jason from the Lemnian princess reappears, though in very different colours, in the parting of Aeneas from the queen of Carthage; the mythical representations in Jason's scarf answer to the historical representations which distinguished the shield of Aeneas from that of Achilles; the combat of Pollux with Amycus is reproduced in the combat of Entellus with Dares; the harpies of Virgil are the harpies of Apollonius, while the deliverance of Phineus by the Argonauts may have furnished a hint for the deliverance of Achemenides by the Trojans, an act of mercy which has another parallel in the deliverance of the sons of Phrixus; Phineus' predictions are like the predictions of Helenus; the cave of Acheron in Asia Minor suggests the cave of Avernus in Italy; Evander and Pallas appear once more in Lycus and Dascylus; Here addresses Thetis as Juno addresses Juturna; Triton gives the same vigorous aid in launching the Argo that he gives to the stranded vessels of Aeneas, or that Portunus gives to the ship of Cloanthus in the Sicilian race.
  • The Medea and Jason of the Argonautica are at once more interesting and more natural than their copies, the Dido and Aeneas of the Aeneid. The wild love of the witch-maiden sits curiously on the queen and organiser of industrial Carthage; and the two qualities which form an essential part of Jason—the weakness which makes him a traitor, and the deliberate gentleness which contrasts him with Medea—seem incongruous in the father of Rome.
    • Gilbert Murray, A History of Ancient Greek Literature (1897), p. 381

See also[edit]

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