LIBRARY OF HISTORY, TRANS. BY C. H. OLDFATHER
JASON AND PELIAS
[4.40.1] As for the Argonauts, since Heracles joined them in their campaign, it may be appropriate to speak of them in this connection.
This is the account which is given:- Jason was the son of Aeson and the nephew through his father of Pelias, the king of the Thessalians, and excelling as he did above those of his years in strength of body and nobility of spirit he was eager to accomplish a deed worthy of memory.
[4.40.2] And since he observed that men of former times Perseus and certain others had gained glory which was held in everlasting remembrance from the campaigns which they had waged in foreign lands and the hazard attending the labours they had performed, he was eager to follow the examples they had set. As a consequence he revealed his undertaking to the king and quickly received his approval. It was not so much that Pelias was eager to bring distinction to the youth as that he hoped that in the hazardous expeditions he would lose his life.
[4.40.3] For he himself had been deprived by nature of any male children and was fearful of his brother, with his son to aid him, would make an attempt upon the kingdom. Hiding, however, this suspicion and promising to supply everything which would be needed for the expedition, he urged Jason to undertake an exploit by sailing to Colchis after the renowned golden-fleeced skin of the ram.
[4.40.4] The Pontus at that time was inhabited on all its shores by nations which were barbarous and altogether fierce and was called “Axenos,” 96 since the natives were in the habit of slaying the strangers who landed on its shores.
[4.40.5] Jason, who was eager for glory, recognizing that the labour was difficult of accomplishment and yet not altogether impossible, and concluding that for this very reason the greater renown would attach to himself, made ready everything needed for the undertaking.
EMBARKATION OF THE ARGONAUTS
[4.41.1] First of all, in the vicinity of Mount Pelion he built a ship which far surpassed in its size and in its equipment in general any vessel known in those days, since the men of that time put to sea on rafts or in very small boats. Consequently those who saw the ship at the time were greatly astonished, and when the report was noised about throughout Greece both of the exploit and of the enterprise of building the ship, no small number of the youths of prominence were eager to take part in the expedition.
[4.41.2] Jason, then, after he had launched the ship and fitted it out in brilliant fashion with everything which would astonish the mind, picked out the most renowned chieftains from those who were eager to share his plan, with the result that the whole number of those in his company amounted to fifty-four. Of these the most famous were Castor and Polydeuces, Heracles and Telamon, Orpheus and Atalantê the daughter of Schoeneus, and the sons of Thespius, and the leader himself who was setting out on the voyage to Colchis.
[4.41.3] The vessel was called Argo after Argus, as some writers of myths record, who was the master-builder of the ship and went along on the voyage in order to repair the parts of the vessel as they were strained from time to time, but, as some say, after its exceeding great swiftness, since the ancients called what is swift argos. Now after the chieftains had gathered together they chose Heracles to be their general, preferring him because of his courage.
HERACLES AND THE TROJAN SEA-MONSTER
[4.42.1] After they had sailed from Iolcus, the account continues, and had gone past Athos and Samothrace, they encountered a storm and were carried to Sigeium in the Troad. When they disembarked there, it is said, they discovered a maiden bound in chains upon the shore, the reason for it being as follows.
[4.42.2] Poseidon, as the story runs, became angry with Laomedon the king of Troy in connection with the building of its walls,97 according to the mythical story, and sent forth from the sea a monster to ravage the land. By this monster those who made their living by the seashore and the farmers who tilled the land contiguous to the sea were being surprised and carried off. Furthermore, a pestilence fell upon the people and a total destruction of their crops, so that all the inhabitants were at their wits’ end because of the magnitude of what had befallen them.
[4.42.3] Consequently the common crowd gathered together into an assembly and sought for a deliverance from their misfortunes, and the king, it is said, dispatched a mission to Apollo to inquire of the god regarding what had befallen them. When the oracle, then, became known, which told that the cause was the anger of Poseidon and that only then would it cease when the Trojans should of their own free will select by lot one of their children and deliver him to the monster for his food, although all the children submitted to the lot, it fell upon the king’s daughter Hesionê.
[4.42.4] Consequently Laomedon was constrained by necessity to deliver the maiden and to leave her, bound in chains, upon the shore.
[4.42.5] Here Heracles, when he had disembarked with the Argonauts and learned from the girl of her sudden change of fortune, rent asunder the chains which were about her body and going up to the city made an offer to the king to slay the monster.
[4.42.6] When Laomedon accepted the proposal and promised to give him as his reward his invincible mares, Heracles, they say, did slay the monster and Hesionê was given the choice either to leave her home with her saviour or to remain in her native land with her parents. The girl, then, chose to spend her life with the stranger, not merely because she preferred the benefaction she had received to the ties of kinship, but also because she feared that a monster might again appear and she be exposed by the citizens to the same fate as that from which she had just escaped.
[4.42.7] As for Heracles, after he had been splendidly honoured with gifts and the appropriate tokens of hospitality, he left Hesionê and the mares in keeping with Laomedon, having arranged that after he had returned from Colchis, he should receive them again; he then set sail with all haste in the company of the Argonauts to accomplish the labour which lay before them.
STARS OF THE DIOSCURI
[4.43.1] But there came on a great storm and the chieftains had given up hope of being saved, when Orpheus, they say, who was the only one on ship-board who had ever been initiated in the mysteries of the deities of Samothrace,98 offered to these deities the prayers for their salvation.
[4.43.2] And immediately the wind died down and two stars fell over the heads of the Dioscori,99 and the whole company was amazed at the marvel which had taken place and concluded that they had been rescued from their perils by an act of Providence of the gods. For this reason, the story of this reversal of fortune for the Argonauts has been handed down to succeeding generations, and sailors when caught in storms always direct their prayers to the deities of Samothrace and attribute the appearance of the two stars100 to the epiphany of the Dioscori.
THE ARGONAUTS AND PHINEUS
[4.43.3] At that time, however, the tale continues, when the storm had abated, the chieftains landed in Thrace on the country which was ruled over by Phineus. Here they came upon two youths who by way of punishment had been shut within a burial vault where they were being subjected to continual blows of the whip; these were sons of Phineus and Cleopatra, who men said was born of Oreithyïa, the daughter of Erechtheus, and Boreas, and had unjustly been subjected to such a punishment because of the unscrupulousness and lying accusations of their mother-in-law.
[4.43.4] For Phineus had married Idaea, the daughter of Dardanus the king of the Scythians, and yielding to her every desire out of his love for her he had believed her charge that his sons by an earlier marriage had insolently offered violence to their mother-in-law out of a desire to please their mother.
[4.43.4] And when Heracles and his friends unexpectedly appeared, the youths who were suffering these tortures, they say, made supplication to the chieftains as they would to gods, and setting forth the causes of their father’s unlawful conduct implored that they be delivered from their unfortunate lot.
[4.44.1] Phineus, however, the account continues, met the strangers with bitter words and ordered them not to busy themselves with his affairs; for no father, he said, exacts punishment of his sons of his free will, unless they have overcome, by the magnitude of their crimes, the natural love which parents bear towards their children.
[4.44.2] Thereupon the young men, who were known as Boreadae101 and were of the company which sailed with Heracles, since they were brothers of Cleopatra, and because of their kinship with the young men, were the first, it is said, to rush to their aid, and they tore apart the chains which encircled them and slew such barbarians as offered resistance.
[4.44.3] And when Phineus hastened to join battle with them and the Thracian multitude ran together, Heracles, they say, who performed the mightiest deeds of them all, slew Phineus himself and no small number of the rest, and finally capturing the royal palace led Cleopatra forth from out the prison, and restored to the sons of Phineus their ancestral rule. But when the sons wished to put their stepmother to death under torture, Heracles persuaded them to renounce such a vengeance, and so the sons, sending her to her father in Scythia, urged that she be punished for her wicked treatment of them.
[4.44.4] And this was done; the Scythian condemned his daughter to death, and the sons of Cleopatra gained in this way among the Thracians a reputation for equitable dealing.
I am not unaware that certain writers of myths say that the son of Phineus were blinded by their father and that Phineus suffered the like fate at the hands of Boreas.
[4.44.5] Likewise certain writers have passed down the account that Heracles, when he went ashore once in Asia to get water, was left behind in the country by the Argonauts. But, as a general thing, we find that the ancient myths do not give us a simple and consistent story.
[4.44.6] Consequently it should occasion no surprise if we find, when we put the ancient accounts together, that in some details they are not in agreement with those given by every poet and historian.
At any rate, according to these ancient accounts, the sons of Phineus turned over the kingdom to their mother Cleopatra and joined the chieftains in the expedition.
AEETES, HECATE AND CIRCE
[4.44.7] And after they had set sail from Thrace and had entered the Pontus, they put in at the Tauric Chersonese, being ignorant of the savage ways of the native people. For it is customary among the barbarians who inhabit this land to sacrifice to Artemis Tauropolus the stranger who put in there, and it is among them, they say, that at a later time Iphigeneia became a priestess of this goddess and sacrificed to her those who were taken captive.
[4.45.1] Since it is the task of history to inquire into the reasons for this slaying of strangers, we must discuss these reasons briefly, especially since the digression on this subject will be appropriate in connection with the deeds of the Argonauts. We are told, that is, that Helius had two sons, Aeëtes and Perses, Aeëtes being king of Colchis and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel.
[4.45.2] And Perses had a daughter Hecatê, who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness; she was also fond of hunting, and when she had no luck she would turn her arrows upon human beings instead of the beasts. Being likewise ingenious in the mixing of deadly poisons she discovered the drug called aconite102 and tired out the strength of each poison by mixing it in the food given to the strangers. And since she possessed great experience in such matters she first of all poisoned her father and so succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess, she became known far and wide for her cruelty.
[4.45.3] After this she married Aeëtes and bore two daughters, Circê and Medea, and a son Aegialeus.
Although Circê also, it is said, devoted herself to the devising of all kinds of drugs and discovered roots of all manner of natures and potencies such as are difficult to credit, yet, notwithstanding that she was taught by her mother Hecatê about no a few drugs, she discovered by her own study a far greater number, so that she left to the other woman no superiority whatever in the matter of devising uses of drugs.
[4.45.4] She was given in marriage to the king of the Sarmatians, whom some call Scythians, and first she poisoned her husband and after that, succeeding to the throne, she committed many cruel and violent acts against her subjects.
[4.45.5] For this reason she was deposed from her throne and, according to some writers of myths, fled to the ocean, where she seized a desert island, and there established herself with the women who had fled with her, though according to some historians she left the Pontus and settled in Italy on a promontory which to this day bears after her the name Circaeum.103
AEETES AND MEDEA
[4.46.1] Concerning Medea this story is related:- From her mother and sister she learned all the powers which drugs possess, but her purpose in using them was exactly the opposite. For she made a practice of rescuing from their perils the strangers who came to their shores, sometimes demanding from her father by entreaty and coaxing that the lives be spared of those who were to die, and sometimes herself releasing them from prison and then devising plans for the safety of the unfortunate men. For Aeëtes, party because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hecatê, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers.
[4.46.2] But since Medea as time went on opposed the purpose of her parents more and more, Aeëtes, they say, suspecting his daughter of plotting against him consigned her to free custody104; Medea, however made her escape and fled for refuge to a sacred precinct of Helius on the shore of the sea.
THE ARGONAUTS AND MEDEA
[4.46.3] This happened at the very time when the Argonauts arrived from the Tauric Chersonese and landed by night in Colchis at this precinct. There they came upon Medea, as she wandered along the shore, and learning from her of the custom of slaying strangers they praised the maiden for her kindly spirit, and then, revealing to her their own project, they learned in turn from her of the danger which threatened her from her father because of the reverence which she showed to strangers.
[4.46.4] Since they now recognized that it was to their mutual advantage, Medea promised to co-operate with them until they should perform the labour which lay before them, while Jason gave her his pledge under oath that he would marry her and keep her as his life’s companion so long as he lived.
[4.46.5] After this the Argonauts left guards to watch the ship and set off by night with Medea to get the golden fleece, concerning which it may be proper for us to give a detailed account, in order that nothing which belongs to the history which we have undertaken may remain unknown.
PHRIXUS, AEETES AND THE GOLDEN FLEECE
[4.47.1] Phrixus, the son of Athamas, the myths relate, because of his stepmother’s plots against him, took his sister Hellê and fled with her from Greece. And while they were making the passage from Europe to Asia, as a kind of Providence of the gods directed, on the back of a ram, whose fleece was of gold, the maiden fell into the sea, which was named after her Hellespont,105 but Phrixus continued on into the Pontus and was carried to Colchis, where, as some oracle had commanded, he sacrificed the ram and hung up its fleece as a dedicatory offering in the temple of Ares.
[4.47.2] After this, while Aeëtes was king of Colchis, an oracle became known, to the effect that he was to come to the end of his life whenever strangers should land there and carry off the golden fleece. For this reason and because of his own cruelty as well, Aeëtes ordained that strangers should be offered up in sacrifice, in order that, the report of the cruelty of the Colchi having been spread abroad to every part of the world, no stranger should have the courage to set foot on the land. He also threw a wall about he precinct and stationed there many guardians, these being men of the Tauric Chersonese, and it is because of these guards that the Greeks invented monstrous myths.
[4.47.3] For instance, the report was spread abroad that there were fire-breathing bulls (tauroi) round about the precinct and that a sleepless dragon (drakon) guarded the fleece, the identity of the names having led to the transfer from the men who were Taurians to the cattle because of their strength and the cruelty shown in the murder of strangers having been made into the myth of the bulls breathing fire; and similarly the name of the guardian who watched over the sacred precinct, which was Dracon, has been transferred by the poets to the monstrous and fear-inspiring beast, the dragon.
[4.47.4] Also the account of Phrixus underwent a similar working into a myth. For, as some men say, he made his voyage upon a ship which bore the head of a ram upon its bow, and Hellê, being troubled with a sea-sickness, while leaning far over the side of the boat for this reason, fell into the sea.
[4.47.5] Some say, however, that the king of the Scythians, who was a son-in-law of Aeëtes, was visiting among the Colchi at the very time when, as it happened, Phrixus and his attendant were taken captive, and conceiving a passion for the boy106 he received him from Aeëtes as a gift, loved him like a son of his own loins, and left his kingdom to him. The attendant, however, whose name was Crius (ram), was sacrificed to the gods, and when his body had been flayed the skin was nailed upon on the temple, in keeping with a certain custom.
[4.47.6] And when later an oracle was delivered to Aeëtes to the effect that he was to die whenever strangers would sail to his land and carry off the skin of Crius, the king, they say, built a wall about the precinct and stationed a guard over it; furthermore, he gilded the skin in order that by reason of its brilliant appearance the soldiers should consider it worthy of the most careful guardian. As for these matters, however, it rests with my readers to judge each in accordance with his own predilections.
THE ARGONAUTS AND THE GOLDEN FLEECE
[4.48.1] Medea, we are told, led the way for the Argonauts to the sacred precinct of Ares, which was seventy stades distant from the city which was called Sybaris and contained the palace of the rulers of the Colchi. And approaching the gates, which were kept closed at night, she addressed the guards in the Tauric speech.
[4.48.2] And when the soldiers readily opened the gates to her as being the king’s daughter, the Argonauts, they say, rushing in with drawn swords slew many of the barbarians and drove the rest, who were struck with terror by the unexpected happening, out of the precinct, and then, taking with them the fleece, made for the ship with all speed.
[4.48.3] Medea likewise, assisting the Argonauts, slew with poisons the dragon which, according to the myths, never slept as it lay coiled about the fleece in the precinct, and made her way with Jason down to the sea.
[4.48.4] The Tauri who had escaped by flight reported to the kin the attack which had been made upon them, and Aeëtes, they say, took with him the soldiers who guarded his person, set out in pursuit of the Greeks, and came upon them near the sea. Joining battle on the first contact with them, he slew one of the Argonauts, Iphitus, the brother of Eurystheus who had laid the Labours upon Heracles, but soon, when he enveloped the rest of them with the multitude of his followers and pressed to hotly into the fray, he was slain by Meleager.
[4.48.5] The moment the king fell, the Greeks took courage, and the Colchi turned in flight and the larger part of them were slain in the pursuit. There were wounded among the chieftains Jason, Laërtes, Atalantê, and the sons of Thespius, as they are called. However they were all healed in a few days, they say, by Medea by means of roots and provision for themselves, set out to sea, and they had already reached the middle of the Pontic sea when they ran into a storm which put them in the greatest peril.
THE ARGONAUTS AND GLAUCUS
[4.48.6] But when Orpheus, as on the former occasion,107 offered up prayers to the deities of Samothrace, the winds ceased and there appeared near the ship Glaucus the Sea-god, as he is called. The god accompanied the ship in its voyage without ceasing for two days and night and foretold to Heracles his Labours and immortality, and to the Tyndaridae that they should be called Dioscori (“Sons of Zeus”) and receive at the hands of all mankind honour like that offered to the gods.
[4.48.7] And, in general, he addressed all the Argonauts by name and told them that because of the prayers of Orpheus he had appeared in accordance with a Providence of the gods and was showing forth to them what was destined to take place; and he counseled them, accordingly, that so soon as they touched land they should pay their vows to the gods through the intervention of whom they had twice already been saved.
[4.49.1] After this, the account continues, Glaucus sank back beneath the deep, and the Argonauts, arriving at the mouth of the Pontus, put in to the land, the king of the country being at that time Byzas, after whom the city of Byzantium was named.
[4.49.2] There they set up altars, and when they had paid their vows to the gods they sanctified the place,108 which is even to this day held in honour by the sailors who pass by.
HERACLES AND LAOMEDON
[4.49.3] After this they put out to sea, and after sailing through the Propontis and Hellespont they landed at the Troad. Here, when Heracles dispatched to the city his brother Iphiclus and Telamon to demand back both the mares and Hesionê, Laomedon, it is said, threw the ambassadors into prison and planned to lay an ambush for the other Argonauts and encompass their death. He had the rest of his sons as willing aids in the deed, but Priam alone opposed it; for he declared that Laomedon should observe justice in his dealings with the strangers and should deliver to them both his sister and the mares which had been promised.
[4.49.4] But when no one paid any heed to Priam, he brought two swords to the prison, they say, and gave them secretly to Telamon and his companions, and by disclosing the plan of his father he became the cause of their deliverance.
[4.49.5] For immediately Telamon and his companions slew such of the guards as offered resistance, and fleeing to the sea gave the Argonauts a full account of what had happened. Accordingly, these got ready for battle and went out to meet the forces which were pouring out of the city with the king.
[4.49.6] There was a sharp battle, but their courage gave the chieftains the upper hand, and Heracles, the myths report, performed the bravest feasts of them all; for he slew Laomedon, and taking the city at the first assault he punished those who were parties with the king to the plot, but to Priam, because of the spirit of justice he had shown, he gave the kingship, entered in to a league of friendship with him, and then sailed away in company with the Argonauts.
[4.49.7] But certain of the ancient poets have handed down the account that Heracles took Troy, not with the aid of the Argonauts, but on a campaign of his own with six ships, in order to get the mares; and Homer also adds his witness to this version in the following lines109:
Aye, what a man, they say, was Heracles in might, my father he, steadfast, with heart of lion, who once came here to carry of the mares of King Laomedon, with but six ships and scantier men, yet sacked he then the city of proud Ilium, and made her streets bereft.
[4.49.8] But the Argonauts, they say, set forth from the Troad and arrived at Samothrace, where they again paid their vows to the great gods and dedicated in the sacred precinct the bowls which are preserved there even to this day.
MEDEA AND THE DEATH OF PELIAS
[4.50.1] While the return of the chieftains was as yet not known in Thessaly, a rumour, they say, went the rounds there that all the companions of Jason in the expedition had perished in the region of the Pontus. Consequently Pelias, thinking that an occasion was now come to do away with all who were waiting for the throne,110 forced the father of Jason to drink the blood of a bull,111 and murdered his brother Promachus, who was still a mere lad in years.
[4.50.2] But Amphinomê, his mother, they say, when on the point of being slain, performed a manly deed and one worthy of mention; for fleeing to the hearth of the king she pronounced a curse against him, to the effect that he might suffer the fate which his impious deeds merited, and then, striking her own breast with a sword, she ended her life heroically.
[4.50.3] But as for Pelias, when he had utterly destroyed in this fashion all the relatives of Jason, he speedily received the punishment befitting his impious deeds. For Jason, who had sailed that night into a roadstead which lay not far from Iolcus and yet was not in sight of the dwellers in the city, learned from one of the country-folk of the misfortunes which had befallen his kinsmen.
[4.50.4] Now all the chieftains stood ready to lend Jason their aid and to face any peril on his behalf, but they fell into dispute over how they should make the attack; some, for instance, advised that they force their way at once into the city and fall upon the king while he was not expecting them, but certain others declared that each one of them should gather soldiers from his own birthplace and then raise a general war; since it was impossible, they maintained, for fifty-three men to overcome a king who controlled an army and important cities.
[4.50.5] While they were in this perplexity Medea, it is said, promised to slay Pelias all alone by means of cunning and to deliver to the chieftains the royal palace without their running any risk.
[4.50.6] And when they all expressed astonishment at her statement and sought to learn what sort of a scheme she had in mind, she said that she had brought with her many drugs of marvelous potency which had been discovered by her mother Hecatê and by her sister Circê; and though before this time she had never used them to destroy human beings, on this occasion she would by means of them easily wreak vengeance upon men who were deserving of punishment.
[4.50.7] Then, after disclosing beforehand to the chieftains the detailed plans of the attack she would make, she promised them that she would give them a signal from the palace during the day by means of smoke, during the night by fire, in the direction of the look-out which stood high above the sea.
[4.51.1] Then Medea, the tale goes on, fashioning a hollow image of Artemis secreted in it drugs of diverse natures, and as for herself, she anointed her hair with certain potent ointments and made it grey, and filled her face and body so full of wrinkles that all who looked upon her thought that she was surely an old woman. And finally, taking with her the statue o the goddess which had been so made as to strike with terror the superstitious populace and move it to fear of the gods, at daybreak she entered the city.
[4.51.2] She acted like one inspired, and as the multitude rushed together along the streets she summoned the whole people to receive the goddess with reverence, telling them that he goddess had come to them from the Hyperboreans to bring good luck to both the whole city and the king.
[4.51.3] And while all the inhabitants were rendering obeisance to the goddess and honouring her with sacrifices, and the whole city, in a word, was, along with Medea herself, acting like people inspired, she entered the palace, and there she threw Pelias into such a state of superstitious fear and, by her magic arts, so terrified his daughters that they believed that the goddess was actually there in person to bring prosperity to the house of the king.
[4.51.4] For she declared that Artemis, riding through the air upon a chariot drawn by dragons, had flown in the air over many parts of the inhabited earth and had chosen out the realm of the most pious king in all the world for the establishment of her own worship and for honours which should be for ever and ever; and that the goddess had commanded her not only to divest Pelias, by means of certain power which she possessed, of his old age and make his body entirely young, but also to bestow upon him many other gifts, to the end that his life should be blessed and pleasing to the gods.
[4.51.5] The king was filled with amazement at these astonishing proposals, but Medea, we are informed, promised him that then and there, in the case of her own body, she would furnish the proof of what she had said. Then she told one of the daughters of Pelias to bring pure water, and when the maiden at once cried out her request, she shut herself up, they say, in a small chamber and washing thoroughly her whole body she made it clean of the potent influences of the drugs. Being restored, then, to her former condition, and showing herself to the kin, she amazed those who gazed upon her, and they thought that a kind of Providence of the gods had transformed her old age into a maiden’s youth and striking beauty.
[4.51.6] Also, by means of certain drugs, Medea caused shapes of the dragons to appear, which she declared had brought the goddess through the air from the Hyperboreans to make her stay with Pelias. And since the deeds which Medea had performed appeared to be too great for mortal nature, and the king saw fit to regard her with great approval and, in a word, believed that she was telling the truth, she now, they say, in private conversation with Pelias urged him to order his daughters to co-operate with her and to do whatever she might command them; for it was fitting, she Said, that the king’s body should receive the favour which the gods were according to him through the hands, not of servants, but of his own children.
[4.51.7] Consequently Pelias gave explicit directions to his daughters to do everything that Medea might command them with respect to the body of their father, and the maidens were quite ready to carry out her orders.
[4.52.1] Medea then, the story relates, when night had come and Pelias had fallen asleep, informed the daughters that it was required that the body of Pelias be boiled in a cauldron. But when the maidens received the proposal with hostility, she devised a second proof that what she said could be believed. For there was a ram full of years which was kept in their home, and she announced to the maidens that she would first boil it and thus make it into a lamb again.
[4.52.2] When they agreed to this, we are told that Medea severed it apart limb by limb, boiled the ram’s body, and then, working a deception by means of certain drugs, she drew out of the cauldron an image which looked like a lamb. Thereupon the maidens were astounded, and were so convinced that they had received all possible proofs that she could do what she was promising that they carried out her orders. All the rest of them beat their father to death, but Alcestis alone, because of her great piety, would not lay hands upon him who had begotten her.
[4.52.3] After Pelias had been slain in this way, Medea, they say, took no part in cutting the body to pieces or in boiling it, but pretending that she must first offer prayers to the moon, she caused the maidens to ascend with lamps to the highest part of the roof of the palace, while she herself took much time repeating a long prayer in the Colchian speech, thus affording an interval to those who were to make the attack.
[4.52.4] Consequently the Argonauts, when from their look-out they made out the fire, believing that the slaying of the king had been accomplished, hastened to the city on the run, and passing inside the walls entered the palace with drawn swords and slew such guards as offered opposition. The daughters of Pelias, who had only at that moment descended from the roof to attend to the boiling of their father, when they saw to their surprise both Jason and the chieftains in the palace, were filled with dismay at what had befallen them; for it was not within their power to avenge themselves on Medea, nor could they by deceit make amends for the abominable act which they had done.
[4.52.5] Consequently the daughters, it is related, were about to make an end of their lives, but Jason, taking pity upon their distress, restrained them, and exhorting them to be of good courage, showed them that it was not from evil design that they had done wrong but it was against their will and because of deception that they had suffered the misfortune.
[4.53.1] Jason now, we are informed, promising all his kindred in general that he would conduct himself honourably and magnanimously, summoned the people to an assembly. And after defending himself for what he had done and explaining that he had only taken vengeance on men who had wronged him first, inflicting a less severe punishment on them than the evils he himself had suffered, he bestowed upon Acastus, the son of Pelias, the ancestral kingdom, and as for the daughters of the king, he said that he considered it right that he himself should assume the responsibility for them.
[4.53.2] And ultimately he fulfilled his promise, they say, by joining them all in marriage after a time to the most renowned men. Alcestis, for instance, the eldest he gave in marriage to Admetus of Thessaly, the son of Pheres, Amphinomê to Andraemon, the brother of Leonteus, Euadnê to Canes, who was the son of Cephalus and king at that time of the Phocians. These marriages he arranged at a later period; but at the time in question, sailing together with the chieftains to the Isthmus of Peloponnesus, he performed a sacrifice to Poseidon and also dedicated to the god the ship Argo.
[4.53.3] And since he received a great welcome at the court of Creon, the king of the Corinthians, he became a citizen of that city and spent the rest of his days in Corinth.
OATH OF THE ARGONAUTS, FOUNDING OF THE OLYMPICS
[4.53.4] When the Argonauts were on the point of separating and departing to their native lands, Heracles, they say, proposed to the chieftains that, in view of the unexpected turns fortune takes, they should exchange oaths among one another to fight at the side of anyone of their number who should call for aid; and that, furthermore, they should choose out the most excellent place in Greece, there to institute games and a festival for the whole race, and should dedicate the games to the greatest of the gods, Olympian Zeus.
[4.53.5] After the chieftains had taken their oath concerning the alliance and had entrusted Heracles with the management of the games, he, they say, picked the place for the festival on the bank of the Alpheius river in the land of the Eleans. Accordingly, this place beside the river he made sacred to the greatest of the gods and called it Olympia after his appellation. When he had instituted horse-raced and gymnastic contests, he fixed the rules governing the events and then dispatched sacred commissioners to announce to the cities the spectacle of the games.
[4.53.6] And although Heracles had won no moderate degree of fame because of the high esteem in which he was held by the Argonauts throughout their expedition, to this was now added the glory of having founded the festival at Olympia, so that he was the most renowned man among all the Greeks and, known as he was in almost every state, there were many who sought his friendship and who were eager to share with him in every danger.
[4.53.7] And since he was an object of admiration because of his bravery and his skill as a general, he gathered a most powerful army and visited all the inhabited world, conferring his benefactions upon the race of men, and it was in return for these that with general approval he received the gift of immortality. But the poets, following their custom of giving a tale of wonder, have recounted the myth that Heracles, single-handed and without the aid of armed forces, performed the Labours which are on the lips of all.
JASON AND MEDEA IN CORINTH
[4.54.1] But we have now recounted all the myths which are told about this god,112 and at this time must add what remains to be said about Jason. The account runs like this:– Jason made his home in Corinth and living with Medea as his wife for ten years he begat children by her, the two oldest, Thessalus and Alcimenes, being twins, and the third, Tisandrus, being much younger than the other two.
[4.54.2] Now during this period, we are informed, Medea was highly approved by her husband, because she not only excelled in beauty but was adorned with modesty and every other virtue; but afterward, as time more and more diminished her natural comeliness, Jason, it is said, became enamoured of Glaucê, Creon’s daughter, and sought the maiden’s hand in marriage.
[4.54.3] After her father had given his consent and had set a day for the marriage, Jason, they say, at first tried to persuade Medea to withdraw from their wedlock of her free-will; for, he told her, he desired to marry the maiden, not because he felt his relations with Medea were beneath him, but because he was eager to establish a kinship between the king’s house and his children.113
[4.54.4] But when his wife was angered and called upon the gods who had been the witnesses of their vows, they say that Jason, disdaining the vows, married the daughter of the king.
[4.54.5] Thereupon Medea was driven out of the city, and being allowed by Creon but one day to make the preparations for her exile,114 she entered the palace by night, having altered her appearance by means of drugs, and set fire to the building by applying to it a little root which had been discovered by her sister Circê and had the property that when it was kindled it was hard to put out. Now when the palace suddenly burst into flames, Jason quickly made his way out if it, but as for Glaucê and Creon, the fire hemmed them in on all sides and they were consumed by it.
[4.54.6] Certain historians, however, say that the son of Medea brought to the bride gifts which had been anointed with poisons, and that when Glaucê took them and put them about her body both she herself met her end and her father, when he ran to help her and embraced her body, likewise perished.115
[4.54.7] Although Medea had been successful in her first undertakings, yet she did not refrain, so we are told, from taking her revenge upon Jason. For she had come to such a state of rage and jealousy, yes, even of savageness, that, since he had escaped from the peril which threatened him at the same time as his bride, she determined, by the murder of the children of them both, to plunge him into the deepest misfortunes; for, except for the one son who made his escape from her, she slew the other sons and in company with her most faithful maids fled in the dead of night from Corinth and made her way safely to Heracles in Thebes. Her reason for doing so was that Heracles had acted as a mediator in connection with the agreements116 which had been entered into in the land of the Colchians and had promised to come to her aid if she should ever find them violated.
[4.55.1] Meanwhile, they go on to say, in the opinion of everyone Jason, in losing children and wife, had suffered only what was just; consequently, being unable to endure the magnitude of the affliction, he put an end to his life.117 The Corinthians were greatly distressed at such a terrible reversal of fortune and were especially perplexed about the burial of the children. Accordingly, they dispatched messengers to Pytho to inquire of the god what should be done with the bodies of the children, and the Pythian priestess commanded them to bury the children in the sacred precinct of Hera and to pay them the honours which are recorded to heroes.
[4.55.2] After the Corinthians had performed this command, Thessalus, they say, who had escaped being murdered by his mother, was reared as a youth in Corinth and then removed to Iolcus, which was the native land of Jason; and finding on his arrival that Acastus, the son of Pelias, had recently died, he took over the throne which belonged to him by inheritance and called the people who were subject to himself Thessalians after his own name.
[4.55.3] I am not unaware that this is not the only explanation given of the name the Thessalians bear, but the fact is that the other accounts which have been handed down to us are likewise at variance with one another, and concerning these we shall speak on a more appropriate occasion.118
MEDEA AND AEGEUS
[4.55.4] Now as for Medea, they say, on finding upon her arrival in Thebes that Heracles was possessed of a frenzy of madness and had slain his sons,119 she restored him to health by means of drugs. But since Eurystheus was pressing Heracles with his commands,120 she despaired of receiving any aid from him at the moment and sought refuge in Athens with Aegeus, the son of Pandion.
[4.55.5] Here, as some say, she married Aegeus and gave birth to Medus, who was later king of Media, but certain writers give the account that, when her person was demanded by Hippotes, the son of Creon, she was granted a trial and cleared of the charges he raised against her.
[4.55.6] After this, when Theseus returned to Athens from Troezen, a charge of poisoning was brought against her and she was exiled from the city; but by the gift of Aegeus she received an escort to go with her to whatever country she might wish and she came to Phoenicia.
MEDEA IN ASIA
[4.55.7] From there she journeyed into the interior regions of Asia and married a certain king of renown, to whom she bore a son Medus; and the son, succeeding to the throne after the death of the father, was greatly admired for his courage and named the people Medes after himself.
[4.56.1] Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvelous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out; and some indeed, in their desire to win favour with the Athenians, say that she took that Medus who she bore to Aegeus and got off safe to Colchis; and at that time Aeëtes, who had been forcibly driven from the throne by his brother Perses, ahd regained his kingdom, Medus, Medea’s son, having slain Perses; and that afterwards Medus, securing the command of an army, advanced over a large part of Asia which lies above the Pontus and secured possession of Media, which has been named after this Medus.
[4.56.2] But since in our judgment it is unnecessary and would be tedious to record all the assertions which the writers of myths have made about Medea, we shall add only those items which have been passed over concerning the history of the Argonauts.
ARGONAUTS ALTERNATIVE ROUTES
[4.56.3] Not a few both of the ancient historians and of the later ones as well, one of whom is Timaeus,121 say that the Argonauts, after the seizure of the fleece, learning that the mouth of the Pontus had already been blockaded by the fleet of Aeëtes, performed an amazing exploit which is worthy of mention. They sailed, that is to say, up the Tanaïs river122 as far as its sources, and at a certain place they hauled the ship overland, and following in turn another river which flows into the ocean they sailed down it to the sea; then they made their course from the north to the west,123 keeping the land on the left, and when they had arrived near Gadeira (Cadiz) they sailed into our sea.124
[4.56.4] And the writers even offer proofs of these things, pointing out that the Celts who dwell along the ocean venerate the Dioscori above any of the gods, since they have a tradition handed down from ancient times that these gods appeared among them coming from the ocean. Moreover, the country which skirts the ocean bears, they say, not a few names which are derived from the Argonauts and the Dioscori.
[4.56.5] And likewise the continent this side of Gadeira contains visible tokens of the return voyage of the Argonauts. So, for example, as they sailed about the Tyrrhenian Sea, when they put in at an island called Aethaleia125 they named its harbour, which is the fairest of any in those regions, Argoön126 after their ship, and such ahs remained its name to this day.
[4.56.6] In like manner to what we have just narrated a harbour in Etruria eight hundred stades from Rome was named by them Telamon, and also at Phormia127 in Italy the harbour Aeëtes, which is now known as Caeëtes.128 Furthermore when they were driven by winds to the Syrtes and had learned from Triton, who was king of Libya at that time, of the peculiar nature o the sea there, upon escaping safe out of the peril they presented him with the bronze tripod which was inscribed with ancient characters and stood until rather recent times among the people of Euhesperis.129
[4.56.7] We must not leave unrefuted the account of those who state that the Argonauts sailed up the river Ister130 river as far as its sources and then, by its arm which flows in the opposite direction, descended to the Adriatic Gulf.
[4.56.8] For time has refuted those who assumed that he Ister which empties by several mouths into the Pontus and the Ister which issues into the Adriatic flow from the same regions. As a matter of fact, when the Romans subdued the nation of the Istrians it was discovered that the latter river has its sources only forty stades from the sea. But the cause of the error on the part of the historians was, they say, the identity in name of the two rivers.131
THE HERACLEIDES AND EURYSTHEUS
[4.57.1] Since we have sufficiently elaborated the history of the Argonauts and the deeds accomplished by Heracles, it may be appropriate also to record, in accordance with the promise we made, the deeds of his sons.
[4.57.2] Now after the deification of Heracles his sons made their home in Trachis at the court of Ceÿx the king. But later, when Hyllus and some of the others had attained manhood, Eurystheus, being afraid lest, after they had all come of age, he might be driven from his kingdom at Mycenae, decided to send the Heracleidae into exile from the whole of Greece.
[4.57.3] Consequently he served notice upon Ceÿx, the king, to banish both the Heracleiae and the sons of Licymnius,132 and Iolaüs as well and the band of Arcadians who had served with Heracles on his campaigns, adding that, if he should fail to do these things, he must submit to war.
[4.57.4] But the Heracleidae and their friends, perceiving that they were of themselves not sufficient in number to carry on a war against Eurystheus, decided to leave Trachis of their own free will, and going about among the most important of the other cities they asked them to receive them as fellow-townsmen. When no other city had the courage to take them in, the Athenians alone of all, such being their inborn sense of justice, extended a welcome to the sons of Heracles, and they settled them and their companion in the flight in the city of Tricorythus, which is one of the cities of what is called the Tetrapolis.133
[4.57.5] And after some time, when all the sons of Heracles had attained to manhood and a spirit of pride sprang up in the young men because of the glory of descent from Heracles, Eurystheus, viewing with suspicion their growing power, came up against them with a great army.
[4.57.6] But the Heracleidae, who had the aid of the Athenians, chose as their leader Iolaüs, the nephew of Heracles, and after entrusting to him and Theseus and Hyllus the direction of the war, they defeated Eurystheus in a pitched battle. In the course of the battle the larger part of the army of Eurystheus was slain and Eurystheus himself, when his chariot was wrecked in the flight, was killed by Hyllus, the son of Heracles; likewise the sons of Eurystheus perished in the battle to a man.134
[4.58.1] After these events all the Heracleidae, now that they had conquered Eurystheus in a battle whose fame was noised abroad and were well supplied with allies because of their success, embarked upon a campaign against Peloponnesus with Hyllus as their commander.
[4.58.2] Atreus, after the death of Eurystheus, had taken over the kingship in Mycenae, and having added to his forces the Tegeatans and certain other peoples as allies, he went forth to meet the Heracleidae.
[4.58.3] When the two armies were assembled at the Isthmus, Hyllus, Heracles’ son challenged to single combat any one of the enemy who would face him, on the agreement that, if Hyllus should conquer his opponent, the Heracleidae should receive the kingdom of Eurystheus, but that, if Hyllus were defeated, the Heracleidae would not return to Peloponnesus for a period of fifty years.135
[4.58.4] Echemus, the king of the Tegeatans, came out to meet the challenge, and in the single combat which followed Hyllus was slain and the Heracleidae gave up, as they had promised, their effort to return and made their way back to Tricorythus.
[4.58.5] Some time later Licymnius and his sons and Tlepolemus, the son of Heracles, made their home in Argos, the Argives admitting them to citizenship of their own accord; but all the rest who had made their homes in Tricorythus, when the fifty-year period had expired, returned to the Peloponnesus. Their deeds we shall record when we have come to those times.136
[4.58.6] Alcmenê returned to Thebes, and when some time later she vanished from sight she received divine honours at the hands of the Thebans. The rest of the Heracleidae, they say, came to Aegimius, the son of Dorus, and demanding back the land which their father had entrusted to him137 made their home among the Dorians.
THE EXILE OF TLEPOLEMUS
[4.58.7] But Tlepolemus, the son of Heracles, while he dwelt in Argos, slew Licymnius, the son of Electryon, we are told, in a quarrel over a certain matter, and being exiled from Argos because of this murder changed hi residence to Rhodes. The island was inhabited at that time by Greeks who had been planted there by Triopas, the son of Phorbas.
[4.58.8] Accordingly, Tlepolemus, acting with the common consent of the natives, divided Rhodes into three parts and founded there three cities, Lindus, Ielysus (Ialysus), and Cameirus; and he became king over all the Rhodians, because of the fame of his father Heracles, and in later times took part with Agamemnon in the war against Troy.
96. “Hostile to strangers;” cp. 4. 16. 1 n.
97. Poseidon and Apollo had been compelled by Zeus to labour for Laomedon for hire, but when they had built the walls of Troy Laomedon refused to pay them.
98. i.e. the Cabeiri.
99. i.e. Castor and Polydeuces.
100. The Gemini, the appearance of which was believed to have a quieting influence on the sea; thus Horace (Odes, 1. 3. 2) prays to “Helen’s brethren, stars of light,” safely to bring to Greece the ship which bears Vergil. Cp. Macaulay, The Lays of Ancient Rome: Safe comes the ship to haven, Through billows and through gales, If once the Great Twin Brethren Sit shining on the sails.
101. “Sons of Boreas.”
102. According to Ovid, Metamorphoses, 7. 409 ff., the plant which gave aconite came from the foam which dropped from the jaws of Cerberus when Heracles brought him out of Hades. For this reason the plant was reputed to grow near Heraclea on the Black Sea where the entrance to Hades was pointed out.
103. In early times the southern boundary of Latium.
104. The libera custodia of the Romans, which corresponded in general to our release on bail or on parole, a citizen frequently assuming responsibility for the person of the prisoner.
105. i.e. Sea of Hellê.
106. i.e. Phrixus.
107. Cp. chap. 43. 1.
108. This was on the Asiatic side and was called by Polybius (4. 39. 6) the “Holy Place, where they say Jason on his voyage back from Colchis first sacrificed to the twelve gods” (tr. of Paton in the L.C.L.).
109. Iliad 5. 638-42; quoted before, chap. 32.
110. Cp. chap. 40.
111. According to Aristotle, Historia Animalium (3. 19), the blood was supposed to coagulate and choke the drinker.
112. i.e. Heracles.
113. The plea urged by Jason in Euripides, Medea, 551 ff.
114. i.e. from the territory of Corinth.
115. This is the manner of Glaucê’s death in the Medea of Euripides. His version also differs from the account which follows, in that there are only two sons of Jason and Medea, and after slaying them Medea carries off their bodies so that Jason may not even give them formal burial, and that Jason does not commit suicide. The fountain of Glaucê has been found (cp. Am. Journ. of Archaeology, 4 (1900), 458-75; 14 (1910), 19-55), but not as yet the tomb of the children which was pointed out to Pausanias (2. 3. 6).
116. i.e. that Jason would wed Medea and “keep her as his life’s companion so long as he lived” (cp. chap. 46. 4).
117. According to Euripides (Medea, 1386), a beam of wood fell from the rotting Argo upon Jason and killed him.
118. This is not in the extant portions of Diodorus.
119. Cp. chap. 11.
120. i.e. with the Labours which Heracles had to perform for him.
121. Cp. 4. 21. 7 note.
122. The Don.
123. i.e. south-west.
124. The Mediterranean.
126. The Roman Portus Argous, the harbour of the present capital of the island, Portoferraio.
129. The most western city, later called Berenicê, of the Pentapolis in Cyrenê.
131. Strabo (1. 3. 15) mentions the same erroneous belief, and in language which shows that he knew no river of that name in Istria.
132. A half-brother of Alcmenê and so an uncle of Heracles.
133. A union of four cities in Attica of which Marathon was the most important.
134. Euripides’ drama, The Children of Heracles, centres about the persecution of the children of Eurystheus and about the war with Argos which Athens undertakes in defence of the refugees.
135. Herodotus (9. 26) says “one hundred” years and the statement of Thucydides (1. 12) would suggest about the same number.
136. This is not in the extant portions of Diodorus.
137. Cp. chap. 37. 4.