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Argonautica

I grew up on Greco-Roman mythology... mostly not so much translated as retold. Bullfinch and all. I did read a translation of the Metamorphoses, though of course a lot of that was a retelling already.

Recently I've started reading the Argonautica, which I'm not sure I knew was a thing. It's, guess what, the tale of Jason and the Argonauts, seeking for the Golden Fleece. I've certainly read "the story", but not this work.

And I can kind of see why. As with the Iliad, or the second part of the Aeneid, a lot of it is not of timeless interest. Homer has the Catalogue of Ships, this has a catalogue of heroes and where they were born. And the places they pass, most of little meaning to me. And the shrines to one god or another than they raise along the way. And the thighbones wrapped in fat they keep offering.

OTOH something about the writing carries me along. There's a plethora of Homeric simile, for good or for ill, and I've learned that smoking beehives out for their honey is at least as old as the Hellenistic period.

As with Homer, the descriptions feel surprisingly visceral, like I can easily imagine a mental movie of what's going on. Which I could pass on when it comes to the gory fight scenes.

The Argo seems to have traveled at least twice by night, which I don't think was a common thing in the Mediterranean.

I mostly read of Rhea in cosmogony, as mother of the big six Olympians, but this work includes an altar being built to her, and her being pleased thus magically bringing forth harvest. So, active worship, then.

The heroes have diverse powers. Being really strong, of course. Flying (sons of Boreas.) Walking on water. Prophecy.

Everyone's almost half-worshipping Heracles already. "Let's make him the leader." "I refuse, Jason should be the leader." "Sir yes sir! Jason is our leader, sir!" They lose him early on, though, he's got to go back to his labors at Argos. Theseus is stuck somewhere, probably on his underworld raid. Atalanta wanted to come but Jason was afraid having one woman on board would cause too much strife.

At some point the Mysians are twirling sticks to make fire. No flint-and-steel, or bringing coals from existing fires?

I tried looking up maps of the voyage. They seem insane.

Three of the Amazons were daughters of Ares. Hippolyte, Antiope, Melanippe. No idea who the mother was... in Wikipedia, but this says the nymph Harmonia. Makes me think of Xena.

Music: Pirates of the Caribbean

***

I'm reading a questionably scanned version of R. C. Seaton's translation.

Hmm, I seem to not have good tags for this already. Did I not talk here about Homer? Distinct lack of fitting userpics, too. I'll go with Queen of the Pirates Liz.

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Damien Sullivan
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