Book 2 397-418

Size: 42 x 98 cm
Handmade manuscript written with dip pen (with metallic nib) and acrylic ink in Greek minuscule script, as it has been styled in the late Byzantine era. Decoration inspired by an attic red figured volute krater, attributed to the Painter of Talos. One side of the krater represents Argonauts departing from Krete. Nearly 400 B.C., Ruvo di Puglia, Museo Jatta. From “Greek Art, Ancient Greek Pots”, Michalis Tiverios, Ekdotike Athenon, 1996.




The quote describes the moment when the Argonauts with the Argo, the ship of Jason, find the Golden Fleece.
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. It figures in the tale of the hero Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest for the fleece by order of King Pelias, in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly. Through the help of Medea, they acquire the Golden Fleece. The story is of great antiquity and was current in the time of Homer (eighth century BC). It survives in various forms, among which the details vary. The classic telling is the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, composed in mid-third century BC Alexandria, recasting early sources that have not survived. Apollonius of Rhodes is best known as the author of the Argonautica, an epic poem about Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. The Argonautica is a Greek epic poem written by Apollonius Rhodius in the 3rd century BC. The only surviving Hellenistic epic, the Argonautica tells the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece from remote Colchis. Their heroic adventures and Jason's relationship with the Colchian princess/sorceress Medea were already well known to Hellenistic audiences, which enabled Apollonius to go beyond a simple narrative, giving it a scholarly emphasis suitable to the times. It was the age of the great Library of Alexandria and his epic incorporates his researches in geography, ethnography, comparative religion and Homeric literature. However, his main contribution to the epic tradition lies in his development of the love between hero and heroine – he seems to have been the first narrative poet to study "the pathology of love". His Argonautica had a profound impact on Latin poetry. It was translated by Varro Atacinus and imitated by Valerius Flaccus. It influenced Catullus and Ovid and it provided Virgil with a model for his Roman epic, the Aeneid.


Book 2 397-418

But speed on in your ship, till ye touch the inmost bourne of the sea. And here at the Cytaean mainland and from the Amarantine mountains far away and the Circaean plain, eddying Phasis rolls his broad stream to the sea. Guide your ship to the mouth of that river and ye shall behold the towers of Cytaean Aeetes and the shady grove of Ares, where a dragon, a monster terrible to behold, ever glares around, keeping watch over the fleece that is spread upon the top of an oak; neither by day nor by night does sweet sleep subdue his restless eyes." 
(ll. 408-410) Thus he spake, and straightway fear seized them as they heard. And for a long while they were struck with silence; till at last the hero, son of Aeson, spake, sore dismayed at their evil plight: 
(ll. 411-418) "O aged sire, now hast thou come to the end of the toils of our sea-journeying and hast told us the token, trusting to which we shall make our way to Pontus through the hateful rocks; but whether, when we have escaped them, we shall have a return back again to Hellas, this too would we gladly learn from thee. What shall I do, how shall I go over again such a long path through the sea, unskilled as I am, with unskilled comrades? And Colchian Aea lies at the edge of Pontus and of the world." 

Translation by R.C. Seaton, 1912. 



ἀλλ᾽ ἐνὶ νηὶ
πείρεθ᾽, ἕως μυχάτῃ κεν ἐνιχρίμψητε θαλάσσῃ.
ἔνθα δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἠπείροιο Κυταιίδος, ἠδ᾽ Ἀμαραντῶν
τηλόθεν ἐξ ὀρέων πεδίοιό τε Κιρκαίοιο 400
Φᾶσις δινήεις εὐρὺν ῥόον εἰς ἅλα βάλλει.
κείνου νῆ᾽ ἐλάοντες ἐπὶ προχοὰς ποταμοῖο
πύργους εἰσόψεσθε Κυταιέος Αἰήταο,
ἄλσος τε σκιόειν Ἄρεος, τόθι κῶας ἐπ᾽ ἄκρης
πεπτάμενον φηγοῖο δράκων, τέρας αἰνὸν ἰδέσθαι, 405
ἀμφὶς ὀπιπεύει δεδοκημένος∙ οὐδέ οἱ ἦμαρ,
οὐ κνέφας ἥδυμος ὕπνος ἀναιδέα δάμναται ὄσσε.
ὧς ἄρ᾽ ἔφη∙ τοὺς δ᾽ εἶθαρ ἕλεν δέος εἰσαΐοντας.
δὴν δ᾽ ἔσαν ἀμφασίῃ βεβολημένοι∙ ὀψὲ δ᾽ ἔειπεν
ἥρως Αἴσονος υἱὸς ἀμηχανέων κακότητι∙ 410
«ὦ γέρον, ἤδη μέν τε διίκεο πείρατ᾽ ἀέθλων
ναυτιλίης καὶ τέκμαρ, ὅτῳ στυγερὰς διὰ πέτρας
πειθόμενοι Πόντονδε περήσομεν∙ εἰ δέ κεν αὖτις
τάσδ᾽ ἡμῖν προφυγοῦσιν ἐς Ἑλλάδα νόστος ὀπίσσω
ἔσσεται, ἀσπαστῶς κε παρὰ σέο καὶ τὸ δαείην. 415
πῶς ἔρδω, πῶς αὖτε τόσην ἁλὸς εἶμι κέλευθον,
νῆις ἐὼν ἑτάροις ἅμα νήισιν; αἶα δὲ Κολχὶς
Πόντου καὶ γαίης ἐπικέκλιται ἐσχατιῇσιν.»

[The Argonautica; edited with introd. and commentary by George W. Mooney (1912)]