ORPHEUS / ARGONAUTICA (XI)


(BEING  CONTINUED FROM  19/03/16-bookii)

(2.1068-1089) Thus he spake, and the helpful device pleased all. And on their heads they placed helmets of bronze, gleaming terribly, and the blood-red crests were tossing. And half of them rowed in turn, and the rest covered the ship with spears and shields. And as when a man roofs over a house with tiles, to be an ornament of his home and a defence against rain, and one the fits firmly into another, each after each; so they roofed over the ship with their shields, locking them together. And as a din arises from a warrior-host of men sweeping on, when lines of battle meet, such a shout rose upward from the ship into the air. Now they saw none of the birds yet, but when they touched the island and clashed upon their shields, then the birds in countless numbers rose in flight hither and thither. And as when the son of Cronos sends from the clouds a dense hailstorm on city and houses, and the people who dwell beneath hear the din above the roof and sit quietly, since the stormy season has not come upon them unawares, but they have first made strong their roofs; so the birds sent against the heroes a thick shower of feather- shafts as they darted over the sea to the mountains of the land opposite.

(2.1090-1092) What then was the purpose of Phineus in bidding the divine band of heroes land there? Or what kind of help was about to meet their desire?

(2.1093-1122) The sons of Phrixus were faring towards the city of Orchomenus from Aea, coming from Cytaean Aeetes, on board a Colchian ship, to win the boundless wealth of their father; for he, when dying, had enjoined this journey upon them. And lo, on that day they were very near that island. But Zeus had impelled the north wind’s might to blow, marking by rain the moist path of Arcturus; and all day long he was stirring the leaves upon the mountains, breathing gently upon the topmost sprays; but at night he rushed upon the sea with monstrous force, and with his shrieking blasts uplifted the surge; and a dark mist covered the heavens, nor did the bright stars anywhere appear from among the clouds, but a murky gloom brooded all around. And so the sons of Phrixus, drenched and trembling in fear of a horrible doom, were borne along by the waves helplessly. And the force of the wind had snatched away their sails and shattered in twain the hull, tossed as it was by the breakers. And hereupon by heaven’s prompting those four clutched a huge beam, one of many that were scattered about, held together by sharp bolts, when the ship broke to pieces. And on to the island the waves and the blasts of wind bore the men in their distress, within a little of death. And straightway a mighty rain burst forth, and rained upon the sea and the island, and all the country opposite the island, where the arrogant Mossynoeci dwelt. And the sweep of the waves hurled the sons of Phrixus, together with their massy beam, upon the beach of the island, in the murky night; and the floods of rain from Zeus ceased at sunrise, and soon the two bands drew near and met each other, and Argus spoke first:

(2.1123-1133) “We beseech you, by Zeus the Beholder, whoever ye are, to be kindly and to help us in our need. For fierce tempests, falling on the sea, have shattered all the timbers of the crazy ship in which we were cleaving our path on business bent. Wherefore we entreat you, if haply ye will listen, to grant us just a covering for our bodies, and to pity and succour men in misfortune, your equals in age. Oh, reverence suppliants and strangers for Zeus’ sake, the god of strangers and suppliants. To Zeus belong both suppliants and strangers; and his eye, methinks, beholdeth even us.”

(2.1134-1139) And in reply the son of Aeson prudently questioned him, deeming that the prophecies of Phineus were being fulfilled: “All these things will we straightway grant you with right good will. But come tell me truly in what country ye dwell and what business bids you sail across the sea, and tell me your own glorious names and lineage.”

(2.1140-1156) And him Argus, helpless in his evil plight, addressed: “That one Phrixus an Aeolid reached Aea from Hellas you yourselves have clearly heard ere this, I trow; Phrixus, who came to the city of Aeetes, bestriding a ram, which Hermes had made all gold; and the fleece ye may see even now. The ram, at its own prompting, he then sacrificed to Zeus, son of Cronos, above all, the god of fugitives. And him did Aeetes receive in his palace, and with gladness of heart gave him his daughter Chalciope in marriage without gifts of wooing. From those two are we sprung. But Phrixus died at last, an aged man, in the home of Aeetes; and we, giving heed to our father’s behests, are journeying to Orehomenus to take the possessions of Athamas. And if thou dost desire to learn our names, this is Cytissorus, this Phrontis, and this Melas, and me ye may. call Argus.”

(2.1157-1159) Thus he spake, and the chieftains rejoiced at the meeting, and tended them, much marvelling. And Jason again in turn replied, as was fitting, with these words:

(2.1160-1167) “Surely ye are our kinsmen on my father’s side, and ye pray that with kindly hearts we succour your evil plight. For Cretheus and Athamas were brothers. I am the grandson of Cretheus, and with these comrades here I am journeying from that same Hellas to the city of Aeetes. But of these things we will converse hereafter. And do ye first put clothing upon you. By heaven’s devising, I ween, have ye come to my hands in your sore need.”

(2.1168-1178) He spake, and out of the ship gave them raiment to put on. Then all together they went to the temple of Ares to offer sacrifice of sheep; and in haste they stood round the altar, which was outside the roofless temple, an altar built of pebbles; within a black stone stood fixed, a sacred thing, to which of yore the Amazons all used to pray. Nor was it lawful for them, when they came from the opposite coast, to burn on this altar offerings of sheep and oxen, but they used to slay horses which they kept in great herds. Now when they had sacrificed and eaten the feast prepared, then Aeson’s son spake among them and thus began:

(2.1179-1195) “Zeus’ self, I ween, beholds everything; nor do we men escape his eye, we that be god-fearing and just, for as he rescued your father from the hands of a murderous step-dame and gave him measureless wealth besides; even so hath he saved you harmless from the baleful storm. And on board this ship ye may sail hither and thither, where ye will, whether to Aea or to the wealthy city of divine Orthomenus. For our ship Athena built and with axe of bronze cut her timbers near the crest of Pelion, and with the goddess wrought Argus. But yours the fierce surge hath shattered, before ye came nigh to the rocks which all day long clash together in the straits of the sea. But come, be yourselves our helpers, for we are eager to bring to Hellas the golden fleece, and guide us on our voyage, for I go to atone for the intended sacrifice of Phrixus, the cause of Zeus’ wrath against the sons of Aeolus.”

(2.1196-1199) He spake with soothing words; but horror seized them when they heard. For they deemed that they would not find Aeetes friendly if they desired to take away the ram’s fleece. And Argus spake as follows, vexed that they should busy themselves with such a quest:

1200     “̂Ὠ φίλοι, ἡμέτερον μὲν ὅσον σθένος, οὔποτ’ ἀρωγῆς
1201 σχήσεται, οὐδ’ ἠβαιόν, ὅτε χρειώ τις ἵκηται.
1202 ἀλλ’ αἰνῶς ὀλοῇσιν ἀπηνείῃσιν ἄρηρεν
1203 Αἰήτης: τῶ καὶ περιδείδια ναυτίλλεσθαι.
1204 στεῦται δ’ Ἠελίου γόνος ἔμμεναι: ἀμφὶ δὲ Κόλχων
1205 ἔθνεα ναιετάουσιν ἀπείρονα: καὶ δέ κεν Ἄρει
1206 σμερδαλέην ἐνοπὴν μέγα τε σθένος ἰσοφαρίζοι.
1207 οὐ μὰν οὐδ’ ἀπάνευθεν ἑλεῖν δέρος Αἰήταο
1208 ῥηίδιον, τοῖός μιν ὄφις περί τ’ ἀμφί τ’ ἔρυται
1209 ἀθάνατος καὶ ἄυπνος, ὃν αὐτὴ Γαῖ’ ἀνέφυσεν
1210 Καυκάσου ἐν κνημοῖσι, Τυφαονίη ὅθι πέτρη,
1211 ἔνθα Τυφάονά φασι Διὸς Κρονίδαο κεραυνῷ
1212 βλήμενον, ὁππότε οἱ στιβαρὰς ἐπορέξατο χεῖρας,
1213 θερμὸν ἀπὸ κρατὸς στάξαι φόνον: ἵκετο δ’ αὔτως
1214 οὔρεα καὶ πεδίον Νυσήιον, ἔνθ’ ἔτι νῦν περ
1215 κεῖται ὑποβρύχιος Σερβωνίδος ὕδασι λίμνης.”

1216     Ὧς ἄρ’ ἔφη: πολέεσσι δ’ ἐπὶ χλόος εἷλε παρειὰς
1217 αὐτίκα, τοῖον ἄεθλον ὅτ’ ἔκλυον. αἶψα δὲ Πηλεὺς
1218 θαρσαλέοις ἐπέεσσιν ἀμείψατο, φώνησέν τε:

(2.1219-1225) “Be not so fearful in spirit, my good friend. For we are not so lacking in prowess as to be no match for Aeetes to try his strength with arms; but I deem that we too are cunning in war, we that go thither, near akin to the blood of the blessed gods. Wherefore if he will not grant us the fleece of gold for friendship’s sake, the tribes of the Colchians will not avail him, I ween.”

(2.1226-1230) Thus they addressed each other in turn, until again, satisfied with their feast, they turned to rest. And when they rose at dawn a gentle breeze was blowing; and they raised the sails, which strained to the rush of the wind, and quickly they left behind the island of Ares.

(2.1231-1241) And at nightfall they came to the island of Philyra, where Cronos, son of Uranus, what time in Olympus he reigned over the Titans, and Zeus was yet being nurtured in a Cretan cave by the Curetes of Ida, lay beside Philyra, when he had deceived Rhea; and the goddess found them in the midst of their dalliance; and Cronos leapt up from the couch with a rush in the form of a steed with flowing mane, but Ocean’s daughter, Philyra, in shame left the spot and those haunts, and came to the long Pelasgian ridges, where by her union with the transfigured deity she brought forth huge Cheiron, half like a horse, half like a god.

(2.1242-1261) Thence they sailed on, past the Macrones and the far-stretching land of the Becheiri and the overweening Sapeires, and after them the Byzeres; for ever forward they clave their way, quickly borne by the gentle breeze. And lo, as they sped on, a deep gulf of the sea was opened, and lo, the steep crags of the Caucasian mountains rose up, where, with his limbs bound upon the hard rocks by galling fetters of bronze, Prometheus fed with his liver an eagle that ever rushed back to its prey. High above the ship at even they saw it flying with a loud whirr, near the clouds; and yet it shook all the sails with the fanning of those huge wings. For it had not the form of a bird of the air but kept poising its long wing-feathers like polished oars. And not long after they heard the bitter cry of Prometheus as his liver was being torn away; and the air rang with his screams until they marked the ravening eagle rushing back from the mountain on the self-same track. And at night, by the skill of Argus, they reached broad-flowing Phasis, and the utmost bourne of the sea.

1262     Αὐτίκα δ’ ἱστία μὲν καὶ ἐπίκριον ἔνδοθι κοίλης
1263 ἱστοδόκης στείλαντες ἐκόσμεον: ἐν δὲ καὶ αὐτὸν
1264 ἱστὸν ἄφαρ χαλάσαντο παρακλιδόν: ὦκα δ’ ἐρετμοῖς
1265 εἰσέλασαν ποταμοῖο μέγαν ῥόον: αὐτὰρ ὁ πάντῃ
1266 καχλάζων ὑπόεικεν. ἔχον δ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρῶν
1267 Καύκασον αἰπήεντα Κυταιίδα τε πτόλιν Αἴης,
1268 ἔνθεν δ’ αὖ πεδίον τὸ Ἀρήιον ἱερά τ’ ἄλση
1269 τοῖο θεοῦ, τόθι κῶας ὄφις εἴρυτο δοκεύων
1270 πεπτάμενον λασίοισιν ἐπὶ δρυὸς ἀκρεμόνεσσιν.
1271 αὐτὸς δ’ Αἰσονίδης χρυσέῳ ποταμόνδε κυπέλλῳ
1272 οἴνου ἀκηρασίοιο μελισταγέας χέε λοιβὰς
1273 Γαίῃ τ’ ἐνναέταις τε θεοῖς ψυχαῖς τε καμόντων
1274 ἡρώων: γουνοῦτο δ’ ἀπήμονας εἶναι ἀρωγοὺς
1275 εὐμενέως, καὶ νηὸς ἐναίσιμα πείσματα δέχθαι.
1276 αὐτίκα δ’ Ἀγκαῖος τοῖον μετὰ μῦθον ἔειπεν:

(2.1277-1280) “We have reached the Colchian land and the stream of Phasis; and it is time for us to take counsel whether we shall make trial of Aeetes with soft words, or an attempt of another kind shall be fitting.”

1277     “Κολχίδα μὲν δὴ γαῖαν ἱκάνομεν ἠδὲ ῥέεθρα
1278 Φάσιδος: ὥρη δ’ ἧμιν ἐνὶ σφίσι μητιάασθαι,
1279 εἴτ’ οὖν μειλιχίῃ πειρησόμεθ’ Αἰήταο,
1280 εἴτε καὶ ἀλλοίη τις ἐπήβολος ἔσσεται ὁρμή.”

(2.1281-1285) Thus he spake, and by the advice of Argus Jason bade them enter a shaded backwater and let the ship ride at anchor off shore; and it was near at hand in their course and there they passed the night. And soon the dawn appeared to their expectant eyes.

1281    Ὧς ἔφατ’: Ἄργου δ’ αὖτε παρηγορίῃσιν Ἰήσων
1282 ὑψόθι νῆ’ ἐκέλευσεν ἐπ’ εὐναίῃσιν ἐρύσσαι
1283 δάσκιον εἰσελάσαντας ἕλος: τὸ δ’ ἐπισχεδὸν ἦεν
1284 νισσομένων, ἔνθ’ οἵγε διὰ κνέφας ηὐλίζοντο.
1285 ἠὼς δ’ οὐ μετὰ δηρὸν ἐελδομένοις ἐφαάνθη.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

By Apollonius  εκ ροδου

tr. R.C. Seaton

with parallel Greek text
[1912]

About sooteris kyritsis

Job title: (f)PHELLOW OF SOPHIA Profession: RESEARCHER Company: ANTHROOPISMOS Favorite quote: "ITS TIME FOR KOSMOPOLITANS(=HELLINES) TO FLY IN SPACE." Interested in: Activity Partners, Friends Fashion: Classic Humor: Friendly Places lived: EN THE HIGHLANDS OF KOSMOS THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF AMENTHE
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