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Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica

VALERIUS FLACCUS was a Roman poet who flourished in the late C1st A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. His only surviving work is an unfinished epic poem entitled the Argonautica, describing the voyage of the Argonauts in their quest for the golden fleece. The work differs in many respects from the like-themed Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, composed four centuries earlier in Greek.

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica. Translated by Mozley, J H. Loeb Classical Library Volume 286. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1928.

The most recent edition of this volume is available new from Amazon.com (click on image right for details). In addition to the translation, the book contains the source Greek text, as well as Mozley's introduction and footnotes.




1. Jason & King Pelias
2. Assembly of the Argonauts
3. Death of Aeson


1. Women of Lemnos
2. Hercules & the Sea Monster
3. The Hellespont


1. Cyzicus
2. Hylas & the Naiads


1. Wresling of Amcyus
2. Phineus & the Harpies
3. The Clashing Rocks


1. The Black Sea
2. Jason & King Aeetes


1. Colchian-Scythian War
2. Hera & the Love of Medea


1. Jason & Medea
2. Jason & the Bronze Bulls


1. Theft of the Golden Fleece
2. Marriage of Jason & Medea
3. Absyrtus' Pursuit

[1] My song is of the straits first navigated by the mighty sons of gods, of the prophetic ship that dared to seek the shores of Scythian Phasis, that burst unswerving through the clashing rocks, to slink at length to rest in the starry firmament.

[5] Phoebus, be thou my guide, if there stands in a pure home the tripod that shares the secrets of the Cymaean prophetess, if the green laurel lies on a worthy brow. And thou too, that didst win still greater glory for opening up the sea, after the Caledonian ocean had borne thy sails,1 the ocean that of yore would not brook the Phrygian Iuli, do thou, holy sire, raise me above the nations and the cloud-wrapped earth, and be favourable unto me as I hymn the wondrous deeds of old time heroes. Thy son shall tell of the overthrow of Idume – for well he can – of his brother foul with the dust of Solyma,2 as he hurls the brands and spreads havoc in every tower. In thy honour shall he ordain sacred rites and shall raise temples to his house,3 what time thou, Sire, shinest all over the sky; for if thy star guides then Cynosura shall not be a surer beacon to Tyrian ships, nor Helice, whom Grecian helmsmen must watch, but beneath thy guidance Greece and Sidon and Nile shall send forth their fleets. Look kindly now on me and aid my essay, that the sound of my voice may fill the cities of Latium.

[22] From his earliest years Pelias, now old and long the terror of nations, had ruled Haemonia: his were the rivers that go down to the Ionian sea, his good fortune was it to drive his plough on Othrys and Haemus and the slopes of Olympus. Yet had his mind no rest, through dread of his brother’s offspring and the threats of heaven; for the soothsayers foretold that through him destruction should come upon the king, and the victims at the altar repeated their fearful warnings: moreover, above all the great renown of the hero himself weighed upon his mind, and prowess never welcome to a tyrant. Wherefore he sought to forestall his fears and to destroy the son of Aeson, brooding how and when he might take his life. But nowhere was there any sign of warfare nor of any monsters throughout the cities of Greece; long ago had Alcides covered his temples with the huge jaws of the Cleonaean beast, long since had Arcadia been guarded from Lerna’s serpent, and the horns of the two bulls4 broken; the wrath of the sea and the perils of the mighty ocean – these he approves. Then facing the youth with calm countenance and anger banished from his brow, he first accosted him, and his look lent weight to his lying words:

[40] “Give thy consent, I pray thee, to this enterprise, fairer far than any deeds of olden time, yea thy whole heart. Thou hast heard how Phrixus of the seed of Cretheus our kinsman fled from the altars of his father. Him the savage Aeetes who dwells in Scythia and the frost-bound Phasis (alas! for the shame of the great Sun!), murdered amid the genial cups and ceremonial of the stricken banquet, recking nought of me or of heaven. This is no mere voice of rumour; the young man himself I see, groaning piteously, with my own eyes I see him, when at last slumber binds my tired limbs, and with its ceaseless complainings his mangled shade and Helle, goddess of the wide sea, trouble my sleep. Had I but my former strength, then shouldst thou see Colchis even now pay penalty, shouldst see here the head and weapons of the king. The years have long since dulled the old fire, and my son is scarce ripe for rule and war and seafaring: do thou who hast even now the cares and the spirit of a man, do thou, my pride, go, bring back the fleece of Nephele’s ram to its Grecian sanctuary, and think not thyself too frail for so perilous a task.”

[58] With such words did he urge on the youth, nay rather command him, and then held his peace; no word spake he of the Cyanean crags that clash upon the Scythian main, no word of the fleece held by the monstrous dragon with the flickering forked tongues, whom the princess called forth from the inmost chambers by charms and by food, to give him honey-cakes dark with the venom of strange lands.5

[64] Soon was his secret guile laid bare, and it was plain to Jason that the king cared nought for the fleece, but that by his hate alone he himself was driven forth to the terrible seas. Yet how to obey? how to set out in quest of Colchis? Had he but Perseus’ winged sandals now or the car and the fabled teams of dragons of him6 who first set the mark of the ploughshares upon lands that knew not Ceres, and preferred the golden ear to the acorn. Alas! what is he to do? Shall he summon to his aid a fickle populace, already girding at their aged lord, and the elders that long since have pitied Aeson? Or shall he trust rather to the aid of Juno and Pallas of the ringing armour, and launch forth at the king’s command, if haply, the sea subdued, some renown could arise from so great a task? Thou, Glory, thou alone doest fire man’s hearts and minds! thee he beholds fresh, untouched by time, standing upon the shore of Phasis, calling to the young heroes. At last his trust in heaven gives strength to his doubting, troubled heart, and raising his hands devoutly to the stars:

[81] “Almighty Queen,” he says, “whom when turbulent Jove was brandishing a murky tempest in the darkened sky, I bore on my own shoulders across Enipeus swollen by the storms of rain, away to the fields and safety, and could scarce believe thou wert a goddess, until I beheld how thou wast summoned back by the sound of thunder and thy husband’s beck, and rapt away in sudden and fearful wise,7 O grant me to reach Scythia and Phasis; and thou, virgin Pallas, save me! Then with my own hands will I offer that fleece in your temples; my father too shall offer up victims with gilded horns upon the fire, and snow-white herds shall stand round about the altars.”

[91] The goddesses hearkened, and moving swift through the air went upon their different ways. To the walls of Thespiae and her well-loved Argus Pallas flies lightly down; she bids him labour to fashion a ship and fell the timber with his axe, and now she goes forth at his side into Pelion’s shady forests; while Juno throughout all the cities of Argos and of Macedon proclaims abroad how Aeson’s son is making trial of the winds that his fathers never proved, how the ship stands ready and in her pride of oars is claiming men whom she may bring safe home and exalt to heaven by their glorious deeds.

[100] And now every captain approved renown in warfare is athirst for the voyage, and all they who in the first flower of manhood have passed not beyond essays, nor been given the chance of glorious deeds. But they whose labour was in the fields and with the peaceful plough are aroused by the sight of Fauns about the thickets and ways in the clear light of day, and woodland goddesses and rivers with lofty horns, singing the high praises of the vessel.

[107] Forthwith the hero of Tiryns speeds unsummoned from Inachian Argos; his arrows dipped in burning poison from Arcadia and his bow, a light burden for glad shoulders, the boy Hylas bears; fain would he, but his small hand cannot yet match the weight nor grasp the club. And now frenzied Juno upbraids them with these words, and breaks again into her old complainings: “O that all the flower of the Grecian youth were not hastening to new destinies, and that these were now the behests of Eurystheus my servant! 8 O then long ere this hand I myself scattered storms and darkness abroad with the fierce trident, and had hurled my husband’s fires, even against his will. Even now I would not have this man the ally an the strength of our ship, nor may I ever trust in the help of Hercules, or be beholden for so much to so proud a comrade.”

[120] So spake she, and turned her eyes toward the Haemonian waters. There she sees all astir with the throng of men, and at the same moment the forest felled on every side and the shores ringing with the deft blows of the axe; already Thespian Argus is cleaving pines with the thin saw, and lo! the side is being made and the planks are being softened into pliancy over a slow frame9; the oars are ready, and Pallas is seeking a yard for the sail-bearing mast. When the ship stood firm in its huge bulk, proof against long tracts of sea, and when fine wax had filled the lurking holes, Argus adds paintings of varied grace.

[130] On one side Thetis, whom a god had hoped to win, is being borne upon the back of a Tyrrhene fish to the bridal chamber of Peleus; the dolphin is speeding over the sea; she herself is sitting with her veil drawn down over her eyes, and is sorrowing that Achilles shall not be born greater than Jupiter.10 Panope and her sister Doto and Galatea with bare shoulders, revelling in the waves, escort her toward the caverns; Cyclops from the Sicilian shore calls Galatea back. Opposite to this is a fire and a bed of green leaves, a banquet and wines, and in the midst of the sea-gods the son of Aeacus with his wife; they have drunk, and now Chiron is touching the lyre. On the other side is Pholoe and Rhoetus mad with much wine, and the strife that broke out over the Atracian maid.11 Bowls and tables are flying, altars of the gods and cups, the marvellous work of ancient craftsmen. Here may one recognise Peleus, lord of the spear, and here Aeson raging with his sword. Monychus is toiling beneath the weight of his conqueror Nestor, mounted on his unwilling back; Clanis is sealing death to Actor with a blazing oak tree; Nessus the black centaur is bleeding, and in the midst of all Hippasus leaning against he coverlets is burying his head in an empty golden goblet.

[149] But though the men gaze in wonder at these sights the son of Aeson marvels not, and thus he reasons with himself: “Alas! for those of us who have fathers or sons alive! Is this the ship in which we thoughtless souls are sent forth in the face of a clouded sky? shall the ocean spend its wrath on Aeson alone? shall I not snatch away the young Acastus to undergo the same fortunes and the same perils? Then let Pelias desire a safe voyage for the hated ship, and join with our mothers to appease the waves by prayer!”

[156] This is he faint to attempt, when on the left the thunder-bearer of Jove draws near from on high and bears aloft a lamb caught in his strong talons. But from the folds hard by with a shout the fearful shepherds pursue and the barking dogs; too swift the ravisher has mounted into the air, and flies off over the Aegean deep. Jason hails the omen, and joyfully sets out to the halls of haughty Pelias. Then first the king’s son comes running toward him, and casts his arms about him in cousinly embrace.

[164] “Nay, Acastus,” says the leader, “I am not come, as thou deemest, to utter ignoble plaints; I am minded to make thee partner of our enterprise; for I hold not Telamon nor Canthus nor Idas nor Tyndareus’ son more worthy than thou art to seek the fleece of Helle. Lo! what mighty tracts of land, what vast expanse of sky it is granted us to know! To what great ends are we opening the paths of the sea! At this time perchance thou thinkest the labour too heavy: yet when the vessel shall speed joyfully home, and give me back my loved Iolcos, ah! how shalt thou sign as I tell of all the nations we have seen!”

[173] The prince suffered him not to say more; “Enough, enough! I am ready for anything to which thou callest. And think not, friend,” he says, “that I am a laggard, or that I trust more in the kingdom of my fathers than in thee, so but thou grant me to win beneath thy guidance the first rewards of my prowess, and to grow to the measure of a cousin’s fame. Nay, I myself, lest a father’s too timorous care hinder me, will escape from him unawares, and of a sudden will be with you when you are ready, what time the vessel puts off from the strand.” He ceased; the other joys to see such courage and to hear this promise, and turns his eager footsteps to the shore.

[184] Meanwhile the thronging Minyae, admonished by the command of their leader, put their shoulders to the vessel, and bending forwards with straining knees run down into the water. Then rose the sailors’ cry as they panted, and the sound of Orpheus’ soothing lyre. Next in joy they pile altars; chiefly unto thee, lord of the waters, is reverence paid, unto thee, unto the West Winds and unto Glaucus upon the shore Ancaeus sacrifices an ox decked with dark blue filets, unto Thetis a heifer. None more sure than he at cleaving the fat necks with the deadly axe.

[193] Jason himself thrice pours a libation to the father of the sea from a goblet and says: “O thou with thy nod dost make to tremble the realms of foam, and doest engirdle all lands with the brine, grant me thy favour. Yea, I know that I alone of all mankind am venturing on unlawful paths and do deserve tempests; yet it is not of my own accord that I go, nor after all is it my will to pile mountain on mountain, or to call down lightning from Olympus’ summit. O be not swayed by Pelias’ vows; he hath devised these cruel commands, this voyage to Colchis, to bring sorrow on me and on my kin. To me hath he – only with unresentful waters do thou receive this my life and the vessel with its freight of kings.” Thus he spake, and poured the rich offering plenteously on the fire.

[205] As soon as the flame, struggling among the heap of entrails, sent forth a tongue of fire and climbed the throbbing flesh of the bull, lo! along the shore the holy Mopsus possessed of the god, wondrous to view, shook the fillets and his hair, tossing in the wind, and the laurel garland. At length speech issued, speech whereat men shuddered; then was silence ordered for the seer. “Alas! what is this sight I see! Lo! Neptune, freshly roused by our daring, is summoning the gods of ocean, a vast assemblage. They cry aloud, and all exhort him to defend the law. So, even so, Juno, clasp thy brother,12 yea, clasp him to thy heart; and do thou, Pallas, not fail thy ship; oh now, even now turn aside thine uncle’s threats. They have yielded, they have received the vessel on the sea. I find my way now through many a change of fortune! Ah! wherefore does fair Hylas of a sudden veil his locks with rushes? Whence the pitcher upon his shoulders that blue raiment upon his snowy limbs? Thou Pollux, whence hast thou these wounds? Ah! mark the fierce flames from the heaving nostrils of the bulls! Helms are springing forth and spears from every furrow, and lo! at every moment shoulders! What strife is this I see around the fleece? What woman is this, drenched with slaughter, that cleaves the air upon winged serpents? Whom doth she strike with the sword? Unhappy Jason, snatch the little ones away! Yonder I discern the bridal chambers all ablaze!”

[227] Long enough hath the seer been daunting the Minyae and their leader with this dark utterance. But then in answer Idmon, Phoebus’ son, not pale with sickly fear, nor awful to look upon with upstanding hair, but instinct with destiny and the calm influence of Apollo (to him the Father gave by his ordinance the foreknowledge of omens divine, whether he inquired of flames or close-viewed entrails smooth, or of the air thick with fowls that cannot lie), prophesied thus to his comrades and to Mopsus: “As surely as the seer Apollo and that first tongue of flame teach me, so do I behold all our course full of toil and grievous to be borne; yet shall the ship with long suffering overcome all things. Great hearts, be strong, and struggle forward to the sweet embraces of father and mother.” The tears fell as he spoke, for already he divined by the flames that for him Argos was closed for evermore.

[240] Scarce had he uttered these words, when the Aesonian captain spake further: “Inasmuch as ye see the decrees of heaven, my comrades, and mighty hopes are vouchsafed to so great an enterprise, do ye also now bring thereto the might and courage of your sires. Not mine is it to blame the Thessalian tyrant for the honour he doth his kin, or his suspected wiles; it is god, god that by this fair omen enjoins this on us; Jupiter himself hath willed the fellowship of men throughout his world, and their union in such mighty tasks. Come then all ye with me, and achieve, though fortune be doubtful, such things as ye may recall with gladness, such things as may urge on our grandsons. Yet, friends, do ye spend the coming night joyously upon the strand in sweet converse and in merriment.” Thus do they. The young men lay them down upon the soft sea-weed, and the hero of Tiryns conspicuous on his couch. Straightway the servitors take the entrails off the spits, and place the bread in the baskets.

[255] And now speeding down from the mountain-tops came Chiron, holding up to view Achilles who called to his sire from afar. As soon as the child saw Peleus start at the well-known voice and stretch out his arms in wide embrace, he sprang forward and hung long on his dear neck. The foaming goblets of strong wine tempt him not, the chasing of the ancient metal fair to look on holds not his gaze: rather he marvels at the captains, drinking in their loud words, and brings his face close to the lion-skin of Hercules. But Peleus in joy clasps his son and kisses him eagerly, and looking up to the heavens he cries: “Surely as ye wish that Peleus speed over calm wave and that he desire a following breeze, even so, ye gods, do ye preserve this life. All else do thou, Chiron, vouchsafe. Let my little son marvel to hear thee speak of clarions and of wars; do thou teach him to wield his boyish weapons in the chase, and ere long to grasp my spear.” Then were all filled with passion for the voyage; with courage high they long to pass over the deep. They vow they will have the distant fleece of Phrixus, and that Argo will return decked in ivy-clusters.

[274] The sun sank and all the daylight drew away across the waters as the Minyae rejoiced. Scattered along the curving shore lights shine, but to no sailors yet do they show the land.13 And now the Thracian bard with the melody of his lyre beguiles the night, singing how Phrixus stood, his temples bound about with fillets, of how he fled from the sinful altar veiled in cloud, and left Athamas to Learchus, Ino’s son; of how the golden ram bore the lad into the pitying waves, of how Helle sat grasping the horns. Seven times had Aurora fulfilled her course, and seven nights had the Moon completed in heaven, when Sestos, that from afar the waters seemed not to sunder from Abydos, began to part from its twin city.14 Then the sister whose name shall live for all time forsakes Aeolus’ son, saved, alas! in vain from her cruel stepmother. Still with weary hands she strains far behind the wet fleece, but the waves draw down her garments heavy now with the drenching water, and her hands slip off the smooth gold. What grief was thine, Phrixus, when rapt on by the whirling tide thou didst look back and see the face of the hapless maid as she called to thee – her hands only – then her hair spread out upon the waters.

[293] And now there was an end of drinking and of merriment, and laid upon quiet couches all were still; alone amid the ranks of the sleepers the leaders is left and courts not slumber. The aged Aeson and Alcimede, sleepless too, gaze at him with brimming eyes and would not hold him back. Jason ministers to them with gentle speech and soothes their troubled hearts. Soon, when their eyelids had sunk overcome with deep sleep, the shining guardian15 of the wreath-bound vessel seemed to exhort the leader with these words: “An oak from Dodona, the servant of Chaonian Jupiter, thou seest here. With thee I launch upon the ocean, and the Saturnian goddess could not have torn me from the prophetic woods had not heaven been promised to me. The hour is at hand; up, an end to delay! and even though while we roam over all the ocean the uncertain sky be veiled in cloud, trust even now in heaven and in me, and banish your fears.” She ceased. He in fear, favourable thou the omen from heaven was, sprang from his couch. Straightway Tithonus’ bounteous wife, ruffling the sea with the new-born sunlight, brought all the Minyae before him. They hasten to and fro on the decks; these make ready the yard on the high mast, others try the oars for the fist time on the glassy surface, Argus from the lofty prow draws in the cable.

[315] The wailings of mothers grow louder and the stout hearts of fathers sicken; long they cling weeping in one another’s embrace. But the voice of Alcimede sounds far above all other lamentations; her ravings overmaster the cries of the women, even as the martial trumpet overwhelms the Idaean pipe. And thus she speaks: “My son, thou art going forth to hardships undeserved, and we must part; and yet it has not been given me to subdue my spirit to meet this misfortune, but ever feared I wars and strange lands on thy behalf. To other gods must I make vows. If the Fates bring thee back to me, if the sea can be appeased by the prayers of trembling mothers, then can I endure the light of life and the long fear. But if Fortune have other things in store for thee, then, kind Death, have pity on us parents, while fear alone is ours and anguish is not yet upon us. Ah, woe! how could I have feared Colchis and the fleece of the vanished Phrixus? And now what days, what nights of sleepless anxiety I foresee! How oft shall I swoon at sound of the hoarse breakers on the shore, in terror at the Scythian main and the Scythian sky, and as touching thee put no trust in our sunny skies, unthankful for them! Cast thine arms about me, I pray, and leave me with words that shall ever sound in mine ears, and even now close these eyes with they dear hands.”

[335] Thus did Alcimede grieve; but Aeson stouter of heart raised his spirit with these words: “Ah, had I but such strength as of old I had when this hand crushed Pholus, as he threatened me with a figured bowl, crushed him with a golden cup as heavy: I would have been the first to plant my arms upon the brazen stern, and would rejoice to heave the ship onward with quivering oar. But thy father’s prayers have prevailed, and the high gods have heard my vows. For I behold a host of kings on this our sea, and thee their captain. Such, such were all those whom I was wont to lead and to follow. And now that day alone remains – may Jupiter grant my prayer! – that day when as conqueror of the Scythian king and the Scythian ocean, thy shoulders ablaze with the rescued fleece, I receive thee, and my deeds give way before thy youth.” So spake he. Jason held up his mother, who had sunk upon his breast, and received his aged father upon his broad neck.

[350] And now there was an end: and the third blast of the trumpet with its mournful signal loosed the embraces that made wind and ship tarry. Each man gives his name his oar and to his bench.

[353] Here to larboard Telamon has his place, loftier than he Alcides takes his seat to starboard, the rest of the youth go to this side or to that; the nimble Asterion, whom as he slipped from his mother’s womb his father, the Piresian Cometes, bathed at the joining of two rivers, where the sluggish Enipeus feels the might of Apidanus . . .

[358] On one side Talaus strains, and Leodocus presses his brother’s back with his oar; lordly Argos sent the pair to join the host. On this side too is Idmon, sent despite warning omens; but it is shameful for a man to dread the future.

[362] Here too Iphitus, son of Naubolus, rises to strike the curling waves, here Neptune’s son cleaves his father’s sea, even Euphemus who dwells in Psamathe, washed with the sounding waters, and ever yawning Taenarus, and from the sandy shores of Pella Deucalion of the unerring javelin, and Amphion renowned in the close fight, whom Hypso at one birth brought forth and could not nor wished to tell their faces apart, so like they were.

[369] Next Clymenus, striking his breast with the strong oar, and his brother Iphiclus move the vessel, and Nauplius soon with cruel beacon to drive the Greeks upon thy rocks, Caphareus, and Oileus, who will one day lament the bolt that Jupiter hurled not, as his son’s body hissed over the Aegean waves;16

[374] Cepheus too who did aid Amphitryon’s son, sweating beneath the burden of the beast of Erymanthus on the threshold of Tegea, and Amphidamas (though his brother, fuller of years, chose rather to let the fleece of Phrixus fall to Ancaeus), and Eurytion, his neck covered with the hair he let grow, until he return and his father crop it at the Aonian altars.

[380] Thou too, Nestor, art drawn to the waves of the renown of the Thessalian ship, thou who one day shalt marvel to see the ocean plain white with the Mycenaean sails, and a thousand eager captains.

[383] Here sits Mopsus the prophet, no empty pledge of the fatherhood of Phoebus; his white cloak falling about his scarlet buskins touches the soles of his feet, a helmet bound with fillet shades his brow, and a laurel spray from Peneus crowns the peak.

[387] On Hercules’ side too Tydeus rises to his oar, and Periclymenus, son of Neleus, whom small Methone and Elis rich in horses and Aulon exposed to the waves saw break his adversary’s face with the gauntlets.

[391] Thou also, son of Poeas, twice destined to see Lemnos, art rowing to Phrixean Colchis, famed now for thy father’s spear, but one day shalt thou ply the arrows of Hercules.

[394] Next on the same side is Butes, rich from the shores of Attica, for countless are the bees that he shuts in his hives, boasting of their long cloud that darkness the day, while he opens the honey-laden cells and lets the kings go forth to flowery Hymettus.

[398] Thou followest him, Phalerus, and on thy arms is stamped the picture of thy fortune; a snake is slipping from a spreading tree, and thrice and four times is coiling its fiery back about thy small body; close by thy father stands in dread looking at his uncertain bow; Eribotes also bears arms carved in terrible fashion.

[403] And Peleus was there, trusting in the parents of his bride and in his goddess wife, and from the high prow gleams thy lance, Aeacides, taller far than all other spears, even as on Pelion’s summit it overtopped the mountain ashes.

[407] Also Actor’s son leaves his child17 in Chiron’s cave, side by side with his dear Achilles, to study the chords of the harp, and side by side to hurl a boy’s light javelins, and to learn to mount and ride upon the back of his genial master.

[411] And he whom report did not falsely make the son of Lycaeus, Phlias, with locks falling from his head in his father’s manner. Nor does Ancaeus’ mother fear to entrust her son to the ocean, whom she bore when pregnant by the king of the sea.

[414] So too Erginus, offspring of Neptune, comes down with a light heart to the waters; he can tell the guile of the deep, and the stars of the clear night, and what wind Aeolus is planning to unprison from his caves; him may Tiphys without fear trust to rule the vessel and to watch the heavens, when weary-eyed with ceaseless gazing on the bear.

[420] The hero18 of Sparta wears thongs of bull’s hide studded with wounding lead, that to the empty airs at least he may deal his random blows, and that the Pagasean ship may watch the grandson of Oebalus filling the shore with his harmless sport; and Castor skilled rather at breaking in the mouths of horses with the Thessalian bridle, who, until he should find the beast that bore the trembling Helle, left Cyllarus to fatten upon the grass of Amyclae. On both alike there gleams a purple cloak bright with Taenarian dye, fair work that their mother wove on twin looms; twice had she broidered massive Taygetus and its leafy woods, twice in pliant gold the streaming Eurotas; each is borne upon his own horse, worked in snow-white thread, and on the breast of each their swan-father is flying.19

[433] But thou, Meleager, see, the clasp is loosening thy gathered raiment, and lays bare thy strong shoulders and thy broad breast that proudly vies with Hercules in strength of muscle.

[436] Here in serried throng are the Cyllenian brethren:20 Aethalides so sure at sending the arrows with the rebounding string: thou, Eurytus, skilled at clearing a way with thy sword through the midst of the enemy: and Echion, of no mean esteem among the Minyae for his father’s calling, who brings the peoples the messages of his captain. But thee, Iphis, Argo, that shall never return aided by thy arms, shall leave alas! but ashes on the Scythian strand, and shall mourn for the oar resting idle in thy row.

[444] The plains of Pherae send thee too, Admetus, blest in so glorious a shepherd, for it is in thy fields that the god of Delos pays for having struck down Steropes with his thankless bow. Ah! how often his sister, meeting him as a servant in her familiar woods, did weep, whenever he wooed the coolness of the oaks of Ossa or marred his sorry locks in the thick waters of Boebeis.

[450] Canthus rises up over the thwarts and churns the waters with his oar; him will the alien spear send rolling in the dust of Aeaea; but meantime the glory of a bright-orbed shield is at his side, borne once by his father Abas; Euripus with its waves divides the golden covering, and flees from the sands of Chalcis, and thou, Neptune, shaking the high bridles of thy wolves,21 half beast, half fish, in the midst art rising up from oyster-bearing Geraestus.

[457] Nor does it await thee, Polyphemus, to return in the ship of Pallas and find the last remains of thy father burning before the city, though his servants had long delayed the due rites, if only thou wouldest come.

[460] With shorter oar now Idas strikes the blue waters and his seat far away, last in his row. But his brother Lynceus is being kept for high ends, he whom Arene bore, one that can pierce the earth and with penetrating gaze discover the secrets of Styx; from mid-ocean he will point the helmsman to the land, will point out the stars to the ship, and when Jupiter has veiled the clear heaven in shadow Lynceus alone will pierce the clouds.

[468] Furthermore, the offspring of Cecropian Orithyia, Zetes and his brother, are free that they may trim the quivering braces.

[470] Nor yet does Odyrsian Orpheus spend himself upon the thwarts or plough the sea with an oar, but with his song he teaches the oars to swing, that they clash not everywhere upon the surface of the tide.

[473] To Iphiclus too Aeson’s son remits the young men’s toils upon the sea: Phylace had sent him forth wearied with years, no longer to share in the tasks, but that he may give the men shrewd counsels, and may fire them with the praise of their mighty forefathers.

[477] To thee, Argus, falls the care of thine own vessel, thou with the skill that Pallas hath bestowed on thee art the gift of Thespiae’s city; it is thy lot to see that the ship on no side let in the stealthy water, and to seal the wounds cleft by the waves with pitch or pliant wax.

[481] The watchful Tiphys, Hagnius’ son, hung his gaze upon the Arcadian constellation,22 favoured mortal, that found use for the laggard stars, and giving men power to steer their path across the sea with heaven as their guide.

[484] Lo! hurrying by short paths down the mountain slope the exultant leader, rejoicing at his cunning, recognises Acastus, bristling with javelins and aglow with glittering shield. Soon as he leapt into the midst of the ship through the shields and the men, Jason with flashing steel cut the cables; even as the huntsman flies from the forest and from the despoiled lair, urging forward the horse that fears for its master, and clasping the tiger cubs to his breast; deftly but trembling has he seized them, while the fierce mother is far from her young, hunting upon the other side of Amanus. The ship moves forward to the measured strokes of the oars; the mothers stand upon the shore, and with their gaze follow the bright sails and the shields of the heroes flashing in the sunlight, until at length the ocean overtops the mast and immeasurable space takes the vessel out of their sight.

[498] Then the Father from his starry citadel beholding these glorious deeds of the Greeks and how the mighty work went forward, is glad; for he cares not for the ease of his sire’s rule.23 With him all the gods rejoice, and the Fates mark how the coming age and the paths over the waters increase for their own gain. But not like them untroubled by the peril of his Scythian child the Sun-god pours forth these words from his breast: “Supreme Creator, for whom as the years go round our light completes and renews its manifold changes, are these things thy will? Is it beneath thy guidance and with thy favouring consent that the Grecian vessel now sails the sea? May I too break forth into complaints? – they are but just! Through fear of this and that none might move an envious hand against my son, I chose not the wealth of some middle land24 or the teeming fields of a rich country – let Teucer and the Libyan and the stock of thine own Pelops hold the most fruitful spots25 – nay, in chill fields oppressed by thy fierce cold and by icebound rivers did we settle. Even from these would my son withdraw and retreat without recompense still further did not a region dense with clouds, a stranger to spring, lie beyond and beat back our rays. How can that terrible land, how can savage Phasis be an offence to other rivers, or my offspring to nations so remote? What, is the Grecian fleece a possession won by force? Nay, but my son would not consent to join forces with the exiled Phrixus and came not as an avenger to the Inoan altars, but did persuade him to tarry with a portion of his kingdom and his daughter’s hand, and now sees before him grandchildren of a Grecian stock, and calls for sons-in-law upon the lands united to himself in blood. Turn the vessel’s course, sire, and open not the sea for them to my hurt; the wood of Padus knows enough of my ancient sorrows, and the sisters who weep as they look upon their father.” 26

[528] The Lord of War gave loud assent and shook his head, for he saw the fleece assailed that hung as a trophy in his honour; on the other side Pallas and Juno girded at the complaint of the two gods.

[531] Then spake the Father: “All these things have been established by us from of old and now move forward each in its appointed order and remain unalterable from the beginning of things; for there was no stock of ours in any land when I laid down the laws of destiny; wherefore I had the power to deal justly when I was founding a line of kings to last throughout the ages. So then I will unfold the decrees that I made in my providence. The region that stretches down from the measureless East to the sea of the virgin Helle as far as the Tanais has long been rich in horses and famed for its men, and none has dared to rise against her in valorous chivalry and to win renown in war: so did I myself cherish the land and its destinies. But now her last day is hastening on and we are leaving Asia tottering to her fall, while the Greeks now claim of me their time of prosperity. Therefore have my oak trees, the tripods and the spirits of their ancestors sent forth this band upon the sea. For thee, Bellona, has a path fashioned through the billows and through storms.

[544] “Nor is it the fleece alone that is fated to rouse resentment and the still closer pang that comes from a ravished maid, but also – and no resolve is more firmly fixed in my mind – there shall soon come from Phrygian Ida a shepherd who shall bring lamentation and rage and a rich requital to the Greeks.27 Ah, what wars shalt thou see when the suitors pour forth from the fleet! How many times shall Mycenae bewail its wintry bivouacs before Troy! How many a prince, how many sons of gods, how many a mighty man shalt thou see fall, and Asia yield to the high fates! Thereafter am I resolved upon the end of the Danai, and shortly will take other nations into my care. Let mountains, forests, lakes and all the barriers of ocean open out before them; hope and fear shall decide the day for all alike. I myself by shifting the seat of empire upon earth shall make trial which kingdom I shall elect to let rule longest over all peoples, and in whose hands I can without fear leave the reins of power once bestowed.” 28

[561] Then he turns his eyes to the blue Aegean sea, gazing upon mighty Hercules and the sons of Leda, and speaks thus: “Strain forward to the stars, my heroes; it was only after the battle with fierce Iapetus and the toils of Phlegra that Olympus’ palace set me over the universe; painful and wearisome for you have I made the path to heaven. Only so did my Bacchus after traversing the world, only so did Apollo after his life upon earth return.” So he spoke, and through the void aimed a shaft that burned a long furrow in the clouds; and as it neared the ship it broke in twain and sought the two sons of Tyndareus, and forthwith settled with tranquil flame on the midst of their brows and harmlessly shed abroad its bright radiance, to which hapless mariners one day would cry for help.

[574] Meantime fierce Boreas from his eyrie in Pangaeus spied the sails set to the wind in the midst of the deep, and straightway turns his rapid course to Aeolia and the Tyrrhene caves. Every forest groans beneath the speeding wings of the god, the crops are laid, and the sea darkens beneath his hurtling flight. There stands in the Sicilian sea on the side of retreating Pelorum a crag, the terror of the straits; high as are the piles it lifts into the air, even so deep are those that sink below the surface of the waters. Hard by may one see another land with rocks and caverns no less terrible; in the former dwell Acamas and naked Pyragmon, the latter is the home of squalls and winds and shipwrecking storms; from here they pass to the lands and over the wide ocean, from here in bygone days would they spread turmoil in the heavens and in the disastrous sea – for at that time no Aeolus was their master, when the intruding sea broke Calpe off from Libya, when Oenotria to her sorrow lost the lands of Sicily and the waters burst into the heart of the mountains – until the All-powerful thundered from the sky upon the trembling blasts and appointed them a king, whom the fierce band were bidden to revere: iron and a twofold wall of rocks quell the East winds within the mountain. When this king can no longer curb their roaring mouths, then of his own will he unbars the doors and by granting egress lulls their savage complaints.

[597] Boreas now with these tidings drives him from his lofty throne: “Ah! what monstrous deed, Aeolus, have I spied from the heights of Pangaeus! Grecian heroes have devised a strange engine with the axe, and now go forward triumphing joyously over the seas with a huge sail, nor have I power of myself to stir up the sea from its sandy depths, as I had or ever I was fettered and imprisoned. This it is that gives them courage and confidence in the vessel they have built, that they see Boreas ruled by a king. Grant me to overwhelm the Greeks with their mad bark: the thought of my children29 moves me not, only do thou quench these threats of mortal man, while still the shores of Thessaly and as yet no other lands have seen their sails.”

[608] He ceased speaking: but within all the winds began to roar and clamour for the open sea. Then did Hippotades30 drive against the mighty door with a whirling blast. Joyfully from the prison burst the Thracian horses, the West wind and the South wind of the night-dark pinions with all the sons of the storms, and the East wind, his hair dishevelled with the blasts, and tawny with much sand; they drew the tempest on, and in thunderous advance together drive the curling waves to shore, and stir not the trident’s realms alone, for at the same time the fiery sky falls with mighty peal, and night buries all things beneath a pitchy sky.

[618] The oars are dashed from the rower’s hands; the ship’s head is turned aslant, and on her side she receives the sounding shocks; a sudden whirlwind tears away the sails that flap over the tottering mast. What dread came then upon the trembling Minyae, when the darkling heavens shone and flashing lightning fell ahead of the terror-stricken ship, and the yardarm dipped to larboard and tossed up the water of the gulfy waves upon its point! They think not in their ignorance that storm and wind arose at a god’s behest, but that even thus is the sea. Then with sorrowful cry: “So this was why our fathers feared unlawfully to profane the waters. Scarcely have we weighed anchor when lo! the Aegean rises with fearful tumult. Is this the sea where clash the Cyanean rocks? Or can there be waters yet more perilous awaiting us wretched men? Leave all hope of seafaring, ye dwellers upon land, and once more31 shun the holy waves.”

[633] Thus did they cry, sorrowing the while that they must die a dullard’s death. Amphitryon’s great-hearted son gazes on his quivers and his oak-club, useless now; the rest in fear join for the last time in converse, clasp hands and weary their lips, sunk in contemplation of the woeful sight, and forthwith the timbers are loosened and the vessel drinks in the sea through a gaping cleft. Now the East wind lashes and turns the ship this way and that; now the South wine roaring with the West carries it along: all round the waters boil, when suddenly Neptune armed with his three-pronged spear raised his dark-blue head from the depths. “This ship,” said he, “let Pallas and my sister, softening my heart with their tears, save from me; yea, let the vessels come from Pharos and from Tyre, and think they are but doing what is lawful. O many are the sails that I shall see ere long torn away by the South winds, and the waves ringing with cries of affliction! Neither my son Orion nor the Bull fierce with his train of Pleiads32 is the cause of this strange form of death. Thou, Argo, thou hast devised death for unhappy nations, and thou, Tiphys, never henceforth doest deserve that any mother pray that thou mayest find peace in Elysium and among the spirits of the holy dead.” 33

[651] So spoke the Father and lulled the sea and the beaten shores, and rove away the South winds, in whose train dark curling waters, surge-laden folds of heavy billows and the rainstorm far behind move on together to the seas of the Aeolian gate.34 The day unprisoned shone forth, a rainbow disclosed the sky, and the clouds rose again to the mountain summits. Now the vessel stands high out of calm waters, and Thetis and father-in-law35 Nereus with mighty arms supports it from the bottom of the sea.

[659] Therefore the leader covers his shoulders in a sacred robe and takes a goblet pertaining unto Aeson, which Salmoneus for joy at his presents had left him in friendship’s name and repaid his arrows and quiver with its gold, not yet the madman he was when he strove to fashion the weapons of high Jupiter from a four-forked beam, and seeking to rival him in his onslaught against Athos or Rhodope himself burnt the tall forests of unhappy Pisa and the hapless fields of Elis. From this goblet he pours a libation into the sea and begins to speak: “O ye gods to whom belongs the rule over water and sounding storm, whose palace measures all the depth of the mighty sky, and thou Father, whose lot are the seas and the twy-formed gods, whether that darkness was but chance, or, even as the heavenly vault moves round, the sea also must needs stand clam and then again be upheaved, or the strange and sudden spectacle of a ship and armed warriors drove thee to such savage anger, grant that I may at least have paid ample atonement, and may thy godhead, O Lord, look kindlier on me now. O let me restore these lives to the land, and let me embrace the portals of my home again. Then in every place shall many a sacrifice feed thy well-deserving altars, wherever it be that thou, Father, standest terrible to view with thy chariot and horses, while on either side a huge Triton holds the flowing reins – throughout our cities shalt thou be established in all thy majesty.”

[681] So he spake. Then rose a shout, and all with uplifted hands approved their leader’s words. Even so when the heavy anger of the gods and Sirius, ravager of the Calabrian fields, has swooped down upon pen and cornland, a fearful band of countryfolk gathers in an ancient wood, while a priest dictates reverent vows for them in their distress. But lo! they see the southern breezes come gliding downwards; the hollow vessel flies onward with loosened reins, cleaving the brine and dashing up the foam with its three-forked brazen prow. Tiphys is at the helm, and silently his helpers sit to do his bidding; even as by the throne of highest Jupiter all things are round about him alert and ready for the god, winds, showers, lightning, thunder, and rivers still in their springs.

[694] But, on a sudden, fear keener than any anxiety and bodings of misfortune rack the leader, in that he had assailed the king’s son and having cruelly seized Acastus by treachery had left the remainder of his kin exposed to death and his father in the toils of crime, and had not fenced about his unguarded life with arms, while he himself now far away has won safety; for upon them will all the king’s wrath burst. Nor are these fears idle, but he has misgivings for things that will come to pass.36

[700] Savage Pelias rages as from a high peak he beholds the sails of his enemy, and knows not how his anger can find vent. Nor courage, nor empire avail; hemmed in by the barrier of the sea his soldiery chafe, and the brine sparkles with their weapons and torches. Even so when winged Daedalus37 soared away from Ida that rang with the clash of bronze, his comrade with shorter pinions at his side, even so did Minos’ warriors in vain utter a cry of rage as the strange cloud rose from the homes of man, and every horseman wearied his eyes in aimless gazing, and returned to Gortyn with quivers unemptied. Moreover, Pelias lying stretched upon the ground in the threshold of Acastus’ chamber presses with his lips the places where the lad has trod and the empty traces of him, and with his white locks dishevelled goes over every step: “It may be that there rise before thee too,” he cries, “the vision of thy mourning father and the sight of my grief; and now thou seest all around thee treachery and a thousand risks of a cruel death. Where, unhappy child, to what shores can I follow thee? It is not toward the homes of Scythia or the mouth of Pontus that he cruel man directs his voyage; but thee, my boy, ensnared by the love of empty renown, the hard-hearted wretch even now torments to bring anguish on my old age. What! had the straits been navigable by the high ships, would I not of my own accord have given him men and vessels? O my house, O spirits of my ancestors that trusted to no purpose in your offspring!”

[724] He spoke, and straightway frenzy and threatening rage made him fearful to look upon: “Here too, thou robber, are the mans to wound thee, and here what shall move thy tears – thy loved father.” At the same time he walks to and fro in the lofty palace, muttering to himself, and turning over plots most cruel: even such, when Thyoneus has turned his savage horns against the guilty Thracians, and now the mountains of unhappy Haemus filled with madness a thousandfold, now the tall forests of Rhodope groan – such was Lycurgus38 before whom wife and sons in flight speed down the long colonnades.

[730] Just then unto the lord of Tartarus and unto the Stygian ghosts was Alcimede bringing holy offerings in fear for her mighty son, if shades summoned forth might give her surer knowledge. Even Aeson himself, who shares her anxiety but who hides such unmanly fears in his heart, yields and is led by his wife. In a trench stands blood and a plenteous offering to hidden Phlegethon, and with fierce cries an aged witch calls upon her departed ancestors and the grandson of great Pleione.39 And now at the sound of the spell rose a face, unsubstantial, and Cretheus gazed upon his mournful son and daughter-in-law, and when he had sipped the blood he began to utter these words: “Banish all fear! he is flying over the ocean, and as he draws ever nearer more and more does Aea marvel at the manifold miracles of heaven, and fierce Colchis is shaken by the prophecies. Alas! to what destinies doth he move forward! His coming is the terror of nations! A little while and he shall return glorying in the spoils and the brides of Scythia; then would I, even I, long to burst the weight of earth. But against thee the violent king prepareth a deadly crime and arms, brother against brother, and is nursing the fierce fires of his passion. Why dost though not snatch away thy life, and quickly escape from these trembling limbs? Come then, thou art my son, already the silent throng of the sanctified call thee to their glades, and Aeolus thy father who flits in the sequestered fields.”

[752] Meanwhile the sorrowing home shuddered with the despairing cries of the slaves, and throughout the walls of the city the rumour spreads that the king is levying a thousand troops and is already giving command to those summoned. In haste the priest leaves the blazing altars and the grove and casts aside his robes, and Aeson in fear at these sudden happenings looks around him wondering what he should devise. Even as a lion hemmed round by a thick mass of men will hesitate a long while, and with huge gaping jaws wrinkles up cheeks and yes, so do doubts crowd upon the prince – is he to seize a feeble sword? shall he in his old age wield the weapons of early youth? shall he stir up the elders and the fickle folk of the kingdom? But his wife, with outstretched hands, clinging to his breast, cries: “Nay, but thou shalt take me as partner in whatever fortune shall shortly be thine; I will not prolong my life, nor look upon my son without thee, I who had endured long enough the light of day when first he set sail over the main, I who had strength to bear this deep sorrow.” So she spoke through her tears.

[767] And now Aeson bethinks him by what end he may outstrip the threats of the king, how he may embrace a worthy fate: his son, his home, the race of Aeolus and the wars he has fought demand a noble death. Furthermore, he sees before him his second son of unripe years, into whom he would fain instil high courage and the knowledge of brave deeds, and the memory in days to come of his father’s death.

[774] Therefore he returns to the holy rites. Beneath the gloom of an ancient cypress, squalid and ghastly with darksome hue, a bull still stood, dark blue fillets on his horns, his brow rough with the foliage of yew; the beast too was downcast, panting and restless, and terrified at the sight of the shade. The witch, according to the custom of her evil race, had kept him, chosen above all others, to use him now at last for these hellish practices. When Aeson saw that the bull still remained at the hour of the awful rites unslain, he dooms him to death, and with one hand upon the horns of the fated victim speaks for the last time:

[784] “O ye who received from Jupiter your reign and the light of life not idly spent, names known to me in councils and in wars, names hallowed by the good report of your grandchildren; and thou, my father, summoned forth from the shades to view my death and to endure again the forgotten sorrows of men on earth, O grant me entry to the abode of quiet, and may the victim that I send before me win favour for me in your dwelling. And thou, O maid, that dost report guilty deeds to Jove,40 who lookest down upon earth with unerring eyes, ye avenging goddesses, thou Divine Law, and thou Retribution, aged mother of Furies, enter into the sinful palace of the king, and bring upon him your fierce torches. Let accursed fear ravish his maddened heart; nor let him deem that my son alone will come with grim weapons in his bark, but let his mind be troubled with fleets and the banners of Pontus and indignant princes from an outraged shore41; let him ever in fear hurry down to the water’s edge, calling to his warriors; let death long delayed shut every path of escape he essays, let him not outstrip my curses, but let him behold every moment the heroes returning and the road sparkling with the fleece of gold. I shall stand vaunting, and move before him with countenance and hands triumphant. Then, if there still remain some monstrous deed ye have not dared, some secret horror, some manner of death as yet unknown, oh grant to his old age – the traitor! – a shameful end, a death unseemly. And I pray that he may never be deemed worthy to fall by the War-god’s hand, by arms of by the sword of my son; let the band he trusteth, let his own kin that he holds dear tear in sunder and mutilate the aged man, and never bury his limbs in a tomb.42 Such be the retribution that my son exacts from the king, and all the nations, alas! whom the king has sent to sea.”

[812] Then he appeases the goddess of triple form, and with his last sacrifice offers a prayer to the Stygian abodes, rehearsing backward a spell soon, soon to prove persuasive; for without that no thin shade will the dark ferryman take away, and bound they stand at the mouth of Orcus.43 The chief of the Furies stood close by him, and touched with heavy hand the cup that steamed with deadly venom; eagerly they drank and drained the blood from the bowl.

[819] A tumult arose; with a shout there burst in soldiers bearing stern commands and weapons drawn at the king’s behest. They behold the aged pair already in the grip of doom, their eyes dulled in death, and spewing forth a poisonous stream of blood; and thee, child, innocent on the threshold of life and pale at the sight of thy parents’ death, they mutilate and set thee with thy kindred. Near by Aeson shuddered as he passed away, and his ghost carried the memory to the clouds above.44

[827] Beneath our pole, cut off from the things of the upper world, deep down lies the palace of the Tartarean Father; never would it share the fate of the toppling sky, even if the mass were sent rolling . . . wide-mouthed Chaos lies, so huge that it could swallow all matter, wearied with its own burden, and the falling universe. Here are the twin doors of the shades below; one, by stern law ever open ,receives nations and kings; but the other none may try, none may struggle to unbar; seldom only and of itself does it open, whenever a leader comes with glorious wounds upon his breast, whose home bears trophies of helmets and chariot-wheels, or one who strove to ease the cares of man, whose honour was kept lively, who had banished fear and knew not desire, or if a priest in fillets and pure apparel draws near. All such the son of Atlas45 guides forward, moving with gentle step, a torch in his hand. Afar the path gleams with the light of the god, until they come to the woods and the pleasant dwellings of the sanctified and the meads where all the year sun and sunlit days endure, where are revels and dancing and singing, and such things as the nations have no desire of now. Into this resting-place and these everlasting walls the father leads his son with his wife. Then he shows them what terrible torments await Pelias by the left gate, how many monstrous creatures stand upon the threshold. They marvel at the mighty uproar, at the onrushing host; they marvel at the region where kindly virtue is rewarded in the world below.

1. Vespasian had served under Aulus Platius in Britian during the reign of Claudius, who boasted that he had extended the Roman empire beyond the ocean. The expedition of Julius Caesar were to some extent handicapped by disasters to his fleet. “Caledonian” is an exaggeration in order to flatter the Emperor.
2. The famous siege of Jerusalem (A.D. 71) by Titus, the Emperor’s eldest son, was to be sung of by his brother Domitian, whose skill as a poet is the subject of many flattering references (cf. Silius, iii. 618; Statius, Ach. i. 14), until his death allowed writers to be more frank (cf. Suet. Dom. 2). Idume here must mean Jerusalem, though more commonly used by the poets for Palestine.
3. Almost certainly a reference to the Templum Gentis Flaviae built by Domitian.
4. The Cretan bull tamed by Hercules and the Minotaur by Theseus, or, according to some, the river Achelous, whose horn Hercules broke (cf. Ovid, Met. ix. 85); the Cleonaean beast is the Nemean lion.
5. i.e. Colchian poison, stronger than Thessalian.
6. Triptolemus.
7. Jason had once carried an old woman across the foaming torrent of Enipeus, a river of Thessaly; when they arrived at the other side, the old woman vanished in a flash of lightning, by which Jason knew that she was Juno.
8. These words of Juno are inspired by her hatred of Hercules; she wishes that this were one of the labours imposed on him by Eurystheus, and that he were not aiding an enterprise which she favours; if it had been a task imposed on Hercules alone, she would soon, she says, have roused sky and sea against him.
9. The poet is alluding to the method of making wood pliant by steaming it.
10. It was fated that if Thetis was married to Jupiter her son would be greater than his father; consequently she was compelled to marry a mortal.

11. Hippodamia; the fight is the famous quarrel of the Centaurs with the Lapiths.
12. Neptune who was the brother of Juno. It is he and the other gods of the sea who are referred to in 216 (“cessere.”)
13. There were as yet no other sailors than the Argonauts themselves.
14. At a distance the two towns, though on different sides of the strait, seem to be joined; it is only on approaching nearer that they are seen to be separated.
15. The oak of Dodona, from which the ship was made, is here personified as its guardian spirit. In 8, 203 Minerva is spoken of as guardian deity of the ship. In 5, 65 the oak again intervenes.
16. Ajax, son of Oileus, slain by Pallas Athene for his attempted rape of Cassandra.
17. Patroclus.
18. Pollus.
19. Castor and Pollux were the sons of Leda, whom Jupiter visited in the form of a swan.
20. Sons of Mercury, who was born on Mt. Cyllene.

21. Valerius has chosen to substitute sea-wolves, half wolves, half fish, for the usual sea-horses.
22. The Great Bear; Callisto, an Arcadian girl, loved by Jupiter, was changed into a bear and placed amongst the stars.
23. Saturn’s reign was proverbially tranquil.
24. i.e. in the temperate zone.
25. Teucer settled in Cyprus, Pelops in the Peloponnese.
26. The reference is to the death of Phaethon, wept for by his sisters, the daughter of the Sun, who were changed into poplar trees by the banks of the Po.
27. Ironically, of the requital which Paris will bring for the rape of Medea, i.e. the rape of Helen.
28. This is obviously meant to be a prophecy of the Roman Empire.
29. Zetes and Calais, sons of Boreas, were among the Argonauts (cf. 468).
30. i.e. Aeolus, son of Hippotes.

31. i.e. as men used to do before the Argonauts dared to sail upon them.
32. Orion and the Pleiads (the latter being very near to the Bull) are frequently referred to as being the cause of the bad weather that accompanies their setting in early autumn.
33. Neptune saves the ship because it will be the means of enticing many other ships to sail upon the sea and thus get shipwrecked; this will be the fault, not of the constellations usually blamed for it, but of Argo herself.
34. The gate of Aeolus, to which the winds are returning after their escapade.
35. “father-in-law,” i.e. of Peleus, who was among the Argonauts.
36. Pelias, in revenge for the abduction of his son Acastus, plans to slay Jason’s parents, Aeson and Alcimede.
37. Jason, braving the new element of water in the Argo, is well compared to Daedalus braving the element of air.
38. King of the Edonians, who resisted Bacchus and was driven mad by him in revenge.
39. Mercury, son of Maia, one of the Pleiads, who conducts the spirits of the dead.
40. Probably Astraea is meant.

41. The princes of all the southern shore of the Black Sea, who will come to exact vengeance from Pelias for sending Argo.
42. The reference is to the dismemberment of Pelias by his own daughters, who expected in vain that Medea would rejuvenate him.
43. Hecate, who was also Diana and the Moon, must be appeased as goddess of the underworld, in order that the spirits sent up thence might be allowed to return. The lines 781-4 in the MSS. have been transposed here, as they are clearly out of place there.
44. The spirit of Aeson rises into the upper air on its release from the body, subsequently joining the spirits of the blest in Elysium. Valerius combines the philosophic doctrine with the more popular belief. (Cf. Cic. Somn. Scip. ch. V, Statius, Silv. 2. 7. 107 and specially Lucan 9. init.)
45. [Mercury, guide of the dead, his mother Maia was a daughter of Atlas.]