ὧς ἔφατ᾽ Αἰήτης: αὐτῷ δ᾽ ἐνὶ ἤματι Κόλχοι
νῆάς τ᾽ εἰρύσσαντο, καὶ ἄρμενα νηυσὶ βάλοντο,
αὐτῷ δ᾽ ἤματι πόντον ἀνήιον: οὐδέ κε φαίης
τόσσον νηίτην στόλον ἔμμεναι, ἀλλ᾽ οἰωνῶν
ἰλαδὸν ἄσπετον ἔθνος ἐπιβρομέειν πελάγεσσιν.240
οἱ δ᾽ ἀνέμου λαιψηρὰ θεᾶς βουλῇσιν ἀέντος
Ἥρης, ὄφρ᾽ ὤκιστα κακὸν Πελίαο δόμοισιν
Αἰαίη Μήδεια Πελασγίδα γαῖαν ἵκηται,
ἠοῖ ἐνὶ τριτάτῃ πρυμνήσια νηὸς ἔδησαν
Παφλαγόνων ἀκτῇσι, πάροιθ᾽ Ἅλυος ποταμοῖο.245
ἡ γάρ σφ᾽ ἐξαποβάντας ἀρέσσασθαι θυέεσσιν
ἠνώγει Ἑκάτην. καὶ δὴ τὰ μέν, ὅσσα θυηλὴν
κούρη πορσανέουσα τιτύσκετο, μήτε τις ἴστωρ
εἴη, μήτ᾽ ἐμὲ θυμὸς ἐποτρύνειεν ἀείδειν.
ἅζομαι αὐδῆσαι: τό γε μὴν ἕδος ἐξέτι κείνου,250
ὅ ῥα θεᾷ ἥρωες ἐπὶ ῥηγμῖσιν ἔδειμαν,
ἀνδράσιν ὀψιγόνοισι μένει καὶ τῆμος ἰδέσθαι.
αὐτίκα δ᾽ Αἰσονίδης ἐμνήσατο, σὺν δὲ καὶ ὧλλοι
ἥρωες, Φινῆος, ὃ δὴ πλόον ἄλλον ἔειπεν
ἐξ Αἴης ἔσσεσθαι: ἀνώιστος δ᾽ ἐτέτυκτο255
πᾶσιν ὁμῶς. Ἄργος δὲ λιλαιομένοις ἀγόρευσεν:
"Νισσόμεθ᾽ Ὀρχομενὸν τὴν ἔχραεν ὔμμι περῆσαι
νημερτὴς ὅδε μάντις, ὅτῳ ξύμβλησθε πάροιθεν.
ἔστιν γὰρ πλόος ἄλλος, ὃν ἀθανάτων ἱερῆες
πέφραδον, οἳ Θήβης Τριτωνίδος ἐκγεγάασιν.260
οὔπω τείρεα πάντα, τά τ᾽ οὐρανῷ εἱλίσσονται,
οὐδέ τί πω Δαναῶν ἱερὸν γένος ἦεν ἀκοῦσαι
πευθομένοις: οἶοι δ᾽ ἔσαν Ἀρκάδες Ἀπιδανῆες,
Ἀρκάδες, οἳ καὶ πρόσθε σεληναίης ὑδέονται
ζώειν, φηγὸν ἔδοντες ἐν οὔρεσιν. οὐδὲ Πελασγὶς265
χθὼν τότε κυδαλίμοισιν ἀνάσσετο Δευκαλίδῃσιν,
ἦμος ὅτ᾽ Ἠερίη πολυλήιος ἐκλήιστο,
μήτηρ Αἴγυπτος προτερηγενέων αἰζηῶν,
καὶ ποταμὸς Τρίτων ἠύρροος, ᾧ ὕπο πᾶσα
ἄρδεται Ἠερίη: Διόθεν δέ μιν οὔποτε δεύει270
ὄμβρος: ἅλις προχοῇσι δ᾽ ἀνασταχύουσιν ἄρουραι.
ἔνθεν δή τινά φασι πέριξ διὰ πᾶσαν ὁδεῦσαι
Εὐρώπην Ἀσίην τε βίῃ καὶ κάρτεϊ λαῶν
σφωιτέρων θάρσει τε πεποιθότα: μυρία δ᾽ ἄστη
νάσσατ᾽ ἐποιχόμενος, τὰ μὲν ἤ ποθι ναιετάουσιν,275
ἠὲ καὶ οὔ: πουλὺς γὰρ ἄδην ἐπενήνοθεν αἰών.
Αἶά γε μὴν ἔτι νῦν μένει ἔμπεδον υἱωνοί τε
τῶνδ᾽ ἀνδρῶν, οὓς αὖθι καθίσσατο ναιέμεν Αἶαν,
οἳ δή τοι γραπτῦς πατέρων ἕθεν εἰρύονται,
κύρβιας, οἷς ἔνι πᾶσαι ὁδοὶ καὶ πείρατ᾽ ἔασιν280
ὑγρῆς τε τραφερῆς τε πέριξ ἐπινισσομένοισιν.
ἔστι δέ τις ποταμός, ὕπατον κέρας Ὠκεανοῖο,
εὐρύς τε προβαθής τε καὶ ὁλκάδι νηὶ περῆσαι:
Ἴστρον μιν καλέοντες ἑκὰς διετεκμήραντο:
ὅς δή τοι τείως μὲν ἀπείρονα τέμνετ᾽ ἄρουραν285
εἷς οἶος: πηγαὶ γὰρ ὑπὲρ πνοιῆς βορέαο
Ῥιπαίοις ἐν ὄρεσσιν ἀπόπροθι μορμύρουσιν.
ἀλλ᾽ ὁπόταν Θρῃκῶν Σκυθέων τ᾽ ἐπιβήσεται οὔρους,
ἔνθα διχῆ τὸ μὲν ἔνθα μετ᾽ ἠοιήν ἅλα βάλλει
τῇδ᾽ ὕδωρ, τὸ δ᾽ ὄπισθε βαθὺν διὰ κόλπον ἵησιν290
σχιζόμενος πόντου Τρινακρίου εἰσανέχοντα,
γαίῃ ὃς ὑμετέρῃ παρακέκλιται, εἰ ἐτεὸν δὴ
ὑμετέρης γαίης Ἀχελώιος ἐξανίησιν."
The flight of the Colchians begins. The passage ends with a mysterious speech of prophecy from Argos.
236 ὥς ἔφατ(ο): acts as the trigger to the next part of the action; as soon as he finishes speaking his men put to sea. The repetition of αὐτῷ δ ̓ ἤματι stresses the immediacy of the action in the same way as 4.103 ἔνθ ̓ ἔπος ἠδὲ καὶ ἔργον and adds to the vigour of the transition.
237 νῆάς . . . εἰρύσσαντο: εἰρύσσαντο: aor. ind. mid. 3rd. pl. The phrase recalls Od. 2.389–90.
237 ἅρμενα . . . βάλοντο: The phrase recalls Hes. Op. 808. βάλοντο = ἐνεβάλαντο.
238 πόντον ἀνήιον: 'they set sail," imperf. ind. act. 3rd pl. < ἄνειμι, "to set out for"
238–40 οὐδέ κε φαίης . . . ἐπιβρομέειν πελάγεσσιν: “You would not have said that such a great number made up a naval expedition but a great family of birds screaming over the seas.” These lines seem to be a shorthand version of a traditional epic simile. ‘You would say’ this, if you were an epic poet (Il. 4.429–30). In Homer the Greeks are silent, while the Trojans are noisy and likened to bleating sheep (Il. 4.433–6). A. is imitating this contrast but uses an object of comparison from another simile: Il. 3.2–3). Greek order and discipline - the Argonauts go on board in orderly fashion at 4.199–201 - develops into a topos, especially with the Persian War when the noisy East encounters the self– controlled West (Aesch. Pers. 399–407).
239 ἔμμεναι: pres. inf. act. (epic) < εἰμί (sum)
241 ἀέντος: pres. part. act. masc. gen. sg. < ἄημι, "to blow"
241–3 οἱ δ ̓ ἀνέμου . . . Πελασγίδα γαῖαν ἵκηται: “Swiftly the wind blew, as the goddess Hera planned, so that most quickly Aeaean Medea might reach the Pelasgian land, an evil to the house of Pelias.” Hera is the directing deity of the Argonautica and so her name is placed in emphatic first position with immediately following pause. In raising a wind, she is carrying out a duty usually fulfilled by her husband. The elaborate word order of 241 emphasises that the wind rises because the goddess wishes it. ὄφρ ̓ ὤκιστα: a variation on the more common ὄφρα τάχιστα, stresses the speed with which Hera’s plan will be accomplished. The juxtaposition of adjectives, Αἰαίη ~ Πελασγίδα, underlines the theme of barbarian and Greek.
244–5 ἠοῖ ἐνὶ τριτάτῃ . . . πάροιθ ̓ Ἅλυος ποταμοῖο: A. shortens the formulae that Homer uses to describe landings (Il. 1.436–7 = Od. 15.498–9; also Il. 13.794, Od. 5.390). The chief emphasis of the passage is to be the mysteries of Hecate and the poet’s silence about them.
246 ἀρέσσασθαι: aor. inf. mid.< ἀρέσκω, "to make offerings to the gods"
246–50 ἡ . . . ἅζομαι αὐδῆσαι: “For Medea had ordered them to disembark and to propiate Hecate with sacrifices. I am in awe to speak of all that the maiden did in preparing these sacrifices (no one must know, nor must I let myself be tempted to sing of it).” Mystery rites, such as those of Eleusis and Hecate, were kept secret. One might have expected them to pray to Apollo the god of disembarkation. However, assistance from Hecate has ensured the success of the mission (4.147–8).
This makes her the subject of the first aetiological stop of the Argonauts’ return and, with typical Hellenistic irony, the subject of the aetion will remain undescribed, because the poet, rather than the Muses, is taking responsibility for the content of his poem. Just as he hesitates at 4.982–92 to narrate an inappropriate myth about Ouranos, here he steps back from full disclosure by reversing an echo of Alcinoos’ description of Demodocus (Od. 8.44–5). A.’s interjection (μήτε . . . ἀείδειν) shows him adopting the role of priest or seer as does Callimachus at the beginning of the Hymn to Zeus (h. 1.5).
250–3 τό γε μὴν ἕδος ἐξέτι κείνου . . . καὶ τῆμος ἰδέσθαι: “From that time, however, the shrine which the heroes raised on the beach to the goddess remains till now, for men of a later day to see.” The Argonauts initiate rituals and cults and leave traces for future generations (ἀνδράσιν ὀψιγόνοισι). For other aitia concerning the marks which heroes have left on the physical world cf. 2.717 (temple to Homonoia), 1.1060–1 (tomb of Cyzicus), 2.841 (tomb of Idmon). γε μήν: is adversative and stresses that although nothing can be said about the ritual in honour of Hecate, the Argonauts physically mark the site with some kind of shrine not an altar. καὶ τῆμος: must mean ‘even now’ or ‘even today.’
252 ἰδέσθαι: "to be seen," aor. inf. mid. < εἶδον
253–6 αὐτίκα δ ̓ Αἰσονίδης . . . Ἄργος δὲ λιλαιομένοις ἀγόρευσεν: “Straightaway Aeson’s son together with the other heroes recalled Phineus how he had said that their voyage from Aea would be different. However it was unknown to all. Argos addressed them in their eagerness.”
253 σὺν δὲ καὶ ὧλλοι: is an Ionic form and could be an allusion to the Homeric text of Zenodotus who read it at Il. 2.1 and 10.1. It is typical of A.’s eclecticism with respect to Homeric scholarship that A. has 1.1101, 3. 992 ὧς δὲ καὶ ὧλλοι as well as 1.910 ὧς δὲ καὶ ἄλλοι. This being so, it seems best to print the transmitted text ὧλλοι.
257–93 Argos’ first words remind us of another μάντις νημερτής, Teiresias, speaking to Odysseus: Od.11.100–1. His references to Egypt seem influenced by Herodotus ( 2.3.1) and by Plato (cf. 279 οἳ δή τοι γραπτῦς πατέρων ἕθεν εἰρύονται with the words of the priest at Tim. 23a.
At 4.272–5 Argos alludes to the story of a mysterious, all-conquering Egyptian king. In the priest’s narrative something similar is described at Pl. Tim. 24e. The anonymous conqueror mentioned by Argos is usually taken to be the mythical pharaoh Sesostris. However, in a Ptolemaic context these lines would doubtless be read as a reference to the Ptolemies themselves. praising and magnifying the present régime. Overall, Argos’ speech is rhetorical and grandiloquent. Noteworthy features are the evocation of prehistory 261 οὔπω τείρεα . . . and 282 ἔστι δέ τις ποταμός, the epanalepsis 263–4 Ἀρκάδες . . . / Ἀρκάδες, the high-flown language of 276 πουλὺς γὰρ ἄδην ἐπενήνοθεν αἰών, the balancing of Αἶά . . . Αἶάν in 277–8 and the archaic ring of 279 οἳ δή τοι γραπτῦς πατέρων ἕθεν εἰρύονται.
257 νισσόμεθα is imperfect. The Argonauts are not going to Orchomenos in Boeotia, as the last line of the poem shows. The opening to the speech is abrupt. Before Argos begins to speak, Jason and the Argonauts have been discussing an alternative route (254 πλόον ἄλλον) and this phrase is picked up by Argos in the next line. He is about to describe the alternative return route that is hinted at in 2.421.
258 νημερτὴς ὅδε μάντις: Phineus. The prase recalls the phrase used of Proteus in the Odyssey, γέρων ἅλιος νημερτής (Od. 4.349).
258 ὅτῳ ξύμβλησθε πάροιθεν: "whom you met previously." ὅτῳ is dat. (< ὅστις) as normal after συμβάλλω.
ξύμβλησθε: should be read for the transmitted ξυνέβητε, as συμβαίνω only rarely means ‘meet’; cf. LSJ s.v. I 3. The usual Homeric words are ξυμβλήμενος (Od. 24.260), ξύμβληται (Od. 7.204), ξύμβληντο (Od.10.105); LSJ συμβάλλω s.v II.3. For the form in A. see ξύμβλητο, 1.1253, 4.121 ξυμβλήμενος. The corruption resulted from a copyist who did not recognise the verb formed by analogy from Homer.
259 ἔστιν γὰρ πλόος ἄλλος: “for there is another route, which the priests of the immortals who spring from Tritonian Thebes, told of”, a variation for the formula ἔστι δὲ τίς, marking a change in A.'s approach to the geography of the voyage. Phineus (in Book 2) had described the tribes and peoples that the Argonauts would encounter; Argos gives directions based on his knowledge of an ancient map. Ethnography has given place to cartography.
260 Θήβης Τριτωνίδος ἐκγεγάασιν: is a reference to the city. The general background to the passage is a section of Herodotus where he is consulting priests, designated as coming from a particular city (257–93n.). A. uses ‘geographical doublets’ (in this case Boeotian and Egyptian Thebes) not as a recherché literary display but as a way of joining Greek and Egyptian worlds.
261 οὔπω τείρεα πάντα τά τ ̓οὐρανῷ εἱλίσσονται: “Not yet did all the constellations whirl around the heavens.” This and the following lines are an attempt to link the prehistory of Greece with that of ancient Egypt, which begins in 267. The whole line recalls Il. 18.485 and Hes. Th. 382. εἱλίσσω is a technical term for the movement of the planets; Arat. 265 (of the Pleiades).
262 οὐδέ ... ἦεν: "it was not possible." See LSJ εἰμί A.6 for this impersonal construction.
262–3 οὐδέ τί πω Δαναῶν ἱερὸν γένος ἦεν ἀκοῦσαι / πευθομένοις: “nor was it possible for enquirers to learn of the sacred race of the Danaans.” Does πευθομένοις refer to the priests of Thebes, travelling historians such as Herodotus, or Alexandrian geographers such as Timagetus(see further (Green 1997, 302) and Timosthenes? Τhe vagueness adds to the mystery. πυνθάνομαι is a word associated with the traveller Herodotus (2.2.2). The enjambment gives it added stress.
263–5 οἶοι δʼ ἔσαν Ἀρκάδες Ἀπιδανῆες . . . οὔρεσιν: “only the Apidanean Arcadians existed, Arcadians, who are said to have lived before the moon, eating acorns in the mountains.” Aristotle said that Arcadia, before the Greeks, had a population of Pelasgians who ruled the land before the moon was in the sky and that for this reason they were known as Προυσέληνοι (Arist. fr. 591 Rose).
The Apidaneans were the Arcadians who lived before the moon (in other words, the oldest of Greeks), and the scholiast etymologizes the name as from Apis, the son of Phoroneus. Ἀρκάδες . . . Ἀρκάδες: Virgil copied this example of epanalepsis(Eclog. 10. 31–3). There is no certain example of the verb ὑδέω before Callimachus; ὑδείομεν in the sense of ὑμνέομεν at h. 1.76. Acorns were the food source before the invention of agriculture: Pausanias (8.1.6. describing Arcadia) “it was Pelasgos who . . . discovered that the fruit of oak trees was a food.” ἐν οὔρεσιν: adds a detail to A.’s description of the mythical past (Hes. Op. 232–3).
265 οὐδὲ Πελασγίς: “nor at that time was the Pelasgian land.” A.’s use of ‘Pelasgian’ is sometimes particular, as at 1.580, and sometimes a general term for the ancient time before the Hellenes, as here.
266 Δευκαλίδῃσιν: The four-syllable word at the end of the line echoes the portentousness of the speaker’s statement.
267 ἦμος ὅτ(ε): "in the days when." The second part of the prehistory begins and primeval Greece is linked with ancient Egypt. The wealth and fertility of Egypt is mentioned in Greek literature, since Achilles’ declaration that he would not yield to Agamemnon, even if he offered him all the riches that ‘pour into Orchomenos, or Thebes in Egypt’ (Il. 9.379–85).
267 ἐκλήιστο: < κλῄζω: plup. ind. mp. 3rd. sg. (Ιonic). A. uses κληΐζομαι rather than καλέω and, by analogy, forms from it a pluperfect ἐκλήισμαι (4.267, 1202). The archaic form and the spondaic ending increase the assonance and sonority of the line.
270 Ἠερίη: “when Egypt . . .was called fertile Eerie.” A.’s different uses of ἠέριος seem to reflect Alexandrian Homeric scholarship. In Homer it means either ‘at early dawn’ or ‘misty’ and the former meaning is found at 3.417 when Aietes talks of yoking his bulls ‘early in the morning’. There is no authority for the word used as a proper name, apart from Et. Mag. (421.11 Gaisford) Ἠερίη· ἡ Αἴγυπτος τὸ πρὶν ἐκαλεῖτο. What A. may have done here is to take a rare Homeric adjective and turn it into a proper name, supposedly used in antiquity.
268 μήτηρ Αἴγυπτος προτερηγενέων αἰζηῶν: "Egypt, mother of vigorous (men) born in ancient times." Composed of only four words and heavy with long vowels also emphasises the weightiness of Argos’ pronouncements. προτερηγενέων is a rare word and A. writes αἰζηῶν, rather than ἀνθρώπων, for its sound and for its elevated tone.
269 καὶ ποταμὸς Τρίτων: “and the river wide-flowing Triton.” ‘This was what the Nile was called in former times’ comments Σ (p. 277 Wendel). There is no other authority for ‘Triton’ as a name for the river except Lycophron Alex. 576 (also 119).
However, this is not a matter of literary precedent but an example of metonymy. In a passage where A. has used ἠέριος to create an imaginary name for ancient Egypt such a metonymic use of ‘Triton’ would not be out of place. εὐρύρροος: recalls Aesch. fr. 300 1–6 TrGF = fr. 161 ‘theoi.com.’ The proverbial fertility of Egypt is caused by the annual flood. The Ptolemies emphasised the richness of the land and used it as an ideological weapon (Theocr. 17.77–85, 95–7).
269-70 ᾧ ὕπο πᾶσα / ἄρδεται Ἠερίη: “by which all Eerie is watered,” recalling Eur. Hel. 1–3.
270-1 Διόθεν δέ μιν οὔ ποτε δεύει / ὄμβρος: “and never does the rain from Zeus moisten the earth.” There is the possibility that A. is playing with possible meanings of δεύω, more usually ‘wet’ or ‘drench’ but also ‘miss, want’ (= δέω, LSJ δεύω (B)).
271 ἅλις προχοῇσι: Take ἅλις with the rest of the line, not ὄμβρος, omitting δέ, which was added to avoid the asyndeton. The floods (προχοῇσι) provide sufficient irrigation (ἅλις). This interpretation is supported by Tibull. 1.7.23.
272-3 ἔνθεν δή τινά φασι . . . Εὐρώπην Ἀσίην “From this land, it is said, a certain (king) made his way all round through the whole of Europe and Asia.” The use of indefinite τινά conveys a sense of the distant past, as well as the conjectural vagueness of the style of the earliest geographers. However, ‘campaigning through Europe and Asia’ and ‘founding many cities’ might also allude to the conquests of Alexander. It has been generally assumed that Argos means Sesostris, a semi-mythical king of Egypt whose conquests are described in Hdt. 2.102–11.
In a Ptolemaic context, one also thinks of Dionysus, linked with whom would be Osiris. A familiar story connected with both gods is a triumphal trip throughout the known civilised world and the language in which this is described in a passage from Diodorus Siculus (1.27.5), ‘I am Osiris the King, who campaigned to every country, as far the unhabited regions of the Indians and those who lie in the far north, as far as the sources of the River Ister and back to the other areas as far as Ocean’ is similar to the present passage.
273 Εὐρώπην Ἀσίην τε: The landmass, according to ancient geographers was divided into three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Both Herodotus and Eratosthenes seemed to deny the usefulness and validity of these divisions (Hdt. 4.45.5, Strabo 1.4.7,) in a world where geographical knowledge, due to the impetus provided by Alexander’s conquests was constantly increasing. the Egyptian priest at Pl. Tim. 24e describes a similar conquering progress: πορευομένην ἅμα ἐπὶ πᾶσαν Εὐρώπην καὶ Ἀσίαν; and Herodotus describing Sesostris’ triumphal tour at 2.103. says that he is supposed to have marked his conquests with statues of himself inscribed with the words ἐγὼ τήνδε τὴν χώρην ὤμοισι τοῖσι ἐμοῖσι ἐκτησάμην (see link above). A.’s words are a reversal of this phrase. The mysterious leader is collegiate just like Jason at 3.173–4 ξυνὴ γὰρ χρειώ, ξυνοὶ δέ τε μῦθοι ἔασιν.
βίῃ καὶ κάρτεϊ λαῶν: recalls Od. 13.143 = 18.139 βίῃ καὶ κάρτεϊ ἔικων, also Il. 17.329. It has its origins in early hexameter poetry but is later developed by the Hellenistic poets. A. develops the use of σφωίτερος compared with Homer (LSJ σφωίτερος II).
274–6 μυρία δ ̓ ἄστη / νάσσατ ̓ ἐποιχόμενος, τὰ μὲν ἤ ποθι ναιετάουσιν, / ἠὲ καὶ οὔ: “and countless cities did he found wherever he came, of which some are still inhabited and some not.” While, on the one hand, A. specifically places Sesostris’ city founding in a primeval time, before the constellations, before the moon, μυρία δ ̓ ἄστη: could be a reference to the 33,333 cities of Ptolemaic Egypt (Theocr. 17.82–4), which according to Hunter ad loc. is a number that derives from Hecataeus of Abdera (Diod. Sic. 1.31.7–8) and evokes the Egyptian and Ptolemaic passion for counting and census making. It might also contain a reference to Herodotus’ opening (Hdt. 1.5.3–4) in which he says that he will describe how some cities have become great and others small.
276 πουλὺς γὰρ ἄδην ἐπενήνοθεν αἰών: “A great age has passed by unceasingly (since then).” The Ionicism πουλύς is appropriate in a passage with an Herodotean background.
Perhaps read παρενήνοθεν for transmitted ἐπενήνοθε. At Il. 2.219 ψεδωὴ δ ̓ ἐπενήνοθε λάχνη (similar is Il. 10.134) and Od. 8.364–5 the word means ‘to be upon the surface of’ (cf. Apollon. Soph. s.v. (p. 71 Bekker) ἐπενήνοθε ἐπῆν· ἐπέκειτο). There is no connection between this and A.’s desired meaning ‘for a long age has passed’. A. is using the compound of the rare ἐνήνοθε to emphasise the elevated nature of Argos’ discourse (see Richardson on Hom. Hym. 2.279). For less elevated expressions concerning ‘the passage of time’ cf. Hdt. 2.86 ἐπεὰν δὲ παρέλθωσι αἱ ἑβδομήκοντα (sic. ἡμεραί), Eur. fr. 1028.2 TrGF τόν τε παρελθόντ ̓ . . . χρόνον; also Soph. Tr. 69, Pl. Prt. 310a, Xen. Cyr. 8.8.20. παρενήνοθεν occurs elsewhere in A. as a coinage at 1.664 (Hypsipyle) παρενήνοθε μῆτις (cf. Σ (p. 58 Wendel) ἀντὶ τοῦ παρελήλυθε). There is a similar mss. confusion at Eur. Ba. 16 ἐπελθὼν ~ παρελθὼν where Dionysus is describing a similar triumphal progress to that of Sesostris.
277–8 Αἶα γε μὴν . . . ναιέμεν Αἶαν: “On the other hand (γε μὴν), Aia remains unshaken even now and the sons of those men whom settled there to dwell in Aia.” For adversative γε μήν see 250–3n. and Hdt. 1.1.1 ‘having settled in the land where they continue even now to inhabit’ (the Phoenicians’ first colonisations). For more Herodotean references to Aia: 1.2.2, 22.214.171.124.3 Aia was originally a mythical land in the far east. It was the golden home of the rising sun; cf. Mimn. fr. 11a 1–3 IEG Αἰήταο πόλιν, τόθι τ ̓ ὠκέος Ἠελίοιο. The earliest evidence of its identification with Colchis is Eumelus Corinthica. ἔτι νῦν μένει ἔμπεδον: is part of an implicit comparison with Egypt. The stability of its institutions and its use of writing (279 γραπτούς / γραπτῦς) were defining characteristics of Egypt; cf. Pl. Phdr. 274c5–75b1. ὅσγε: The transmitted text is ὅγε. The usually printed ὅσγε does not exist as a demonstrative pronoun in either A. or Homer. With recently published P.Oxy. 5424 (Benaissa, Slattery, and Henry 2019, 108), read αὖθι which provides “a definite solution to a long standing puzzle.” The relative pronoun made its way into the text from an annotation indicating that Sesostris is the subject of the verb. ναιέμεν Αἶαν: another phonetic echo: Il. 15.190 πολιὴν ἅλα ναιέμεν αἰεὶ (272–4n. κάρτεϊ λαῶν). There is a similar anagrammatic and assonantal pattern at Philitas fr.12.3 Lightfoot ἀμφὶ δὲ τοι νέαι αἰὲν ἀνῖαι τετρήχασιν. For the epanalepsis (here with polyptoton) see 263–4n.
279–81 οἳ δή τοι γραπτοὺς πατέρων . . . πέριξ ἐπινισσομένοισιν: ‘(They) who preserve the inscribed writings of their fathers, tablets upon which are (marked) all the roads and the limits, on sea and land, for those who journey around.” There are echoes of Herodotus describing Aristagoras of Miletos, asking Cleomenes of Sparta for military assistance (Hdt. 5.49); also Pl. Tim. 23a quoted on 257–93n., Diog. Laert. 5.51.10 ἀναθεῖναι δὲ καὶ τοὺς πίνακας ἐν οἷς αἱ τῆς γῆς περίοδοί εἰσιν. The added significance of these tablets lies in the fact they preserve knowledge that comes from Egypt through the Colchians, who, according to Herodotus, (Hdt. 2.104) were descended from the Egyptian conquerors under Sesostris. The description is part of the cartographical theme, which runs throughout the Argonautica, particularly the latter half; on maps and narrative.
Perhaps we should read γραπτοὺς . . . κύρβιας with Wellauer (see his note ad loc.). It creates an enjambment of the type frequent in Argos’ speech. γραπτῦς, printed by Fränkel, is a Homeric hapax (cf. Od. 24.229 where Laertes is described in his garden: κνημῖδας ῥαπτὰς δέδετο, γραπτῦς ἀλεείνων ‘. . . to save him from the scratches’). It also occurs in a papyrus fragment of Eratosthenes’ Hermes γραπτῦς ἀνθρώπω [ (fr. 397 col. ii 1 SH with note ad loc.), which seems to have some connection with writing. For κύρβιας cf. Σ on Ar. Nub. 448 ὡς Ἐρατοσθένης φησίν, ἄξων Ἀθήνῃσιν οὕτω καλούμενος, ἐν ᾧ οἱ νόμοι περιέχονται ‘as Eratosthenes says (referring to κύρβις in the text of Aristophanes) this was what the revolving block was called at Athens on which the laws were preserved’. Davis (2011) 17, discussing the evidence about κύρβεις, concludes that they were widely employed throughout the Greek-speaking world in the sixth century BC to early fifth century to carry any authoritative text. A.’s use of the word here enhances the antiquity of his description.
There are also traces of a scholarly discussion of γραπτῦς at Apollon. Soph. Lex. Homer. s.v. (p. 55 Bekker) γραπτῦς· τὰς ἀμύξεις καὶ καταξύσεις· κνημῖδας γραπτὰς (v.l. in the Odyssey passage quoted above for ῥαπτάς) δέδετο, γραπτῦς ἀλεείνων. τοιοῦτο καὶ τὸ “ἐπέγραψε χρόα φωτός” καὶ “νῦν δέ μ’ ἐπιγράψας ταρσῷ” καὶ “γράψας ἐν πίνακι πυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά,” οἷον ἐγχαράξας σημεῖα πολλά, which after glossing γραπτῦς with an explanation, (‘tearing and scrapping’) tries to make a link between the Homeric use of ἐπιγράφω ‘graze’ and γράφω ‘write’ ‘such as the line “he grazed the skin of a man (Il. 4.179)” and “now you have grazed me on the foot” and having written on a folded tablet many soul- destroying things (Il. 6.169)” that is to say you have engraved many signs’.
The ancient critics, perhaps beginning with A. himself, were puzzled by the strange Homericism ‘γραπτῦς’ and tried to explain it by linking it with a more explicable root (γραφ / γραπτ). This possibility is reinforced by Athen. 10.451d (II 481.17–19 Kaibel) ‘And Achaeus the Eretrian . . . sometimes makes his language obscure, and says many things in an enigmatic way; for instance, in his ‘Iris’ (I.20 F 19 TrGF), a satyr play, he says: “ a flask made of litharge full of ointment was suspended from a Spartan tablet, written upon and twisted on a double stick”, meaning to say a white strap, from which a silver flask was suspended; and he has spoken of a Spartan written tablet (γραπτὸν . . . κύρβιν) when he merely meant the Spartan ‘scytale’ (a Spartan method of sending dispatches). And that the Lacedaimonians put a white strip of leather, on which they wrote whatever they wished, around the “scytale” we are told plainly enough by Apollonius Rhodius in his treatise on Archilochus.’ In view of the evidence that A. wrote about a related textual point (Archil. fr. 185 IEG ἀχνυμένῃ σκυτάλῃ), we should see A.'s γραπτοὺς . . . κύρβιας as his interpretation of a difficult word, which has been mistakenly corrected by a particularly learned scribe who remembered the Homeric parallel. On Achaeus the Eretrian and the Spartan Scytale see S. West (1988) 42–8.
ἕθεν: "their," genitive of the relative possessive pronoun, = οὗ. There are five forms of the gen. of the 3rd person singular pronoun in A. ἕθεν, εἷο, ἑοῦ, ἑοῖο, and οὗ (in the combination οὗ ἕθεν). ἕθεν is used not only for the 3rd person singular reflexive (e.g. 2.973), but also here for the 3rd person plural. It adds an appropriate archaic tone to Argos’ description of ancient times. εἰρύονται: the same is true of the rare use of ἐιρύομαι to mean “guard, protect, preserve,” based on Il. 1.238–9 where εἰρύαται is explained as an Ionicism for εἴρυνται, a perfect form with present sense, ‘have guarded and still guard’. πείρατ ̓ ἔασι: recalls Hes. Th. 738 ἑξείης πάντων πηγαὶ καὶ πείρατ ̓ ἔασιν. The more usual phrase is πείρατα γαίης, often associated closely with Oceanus. As part of the variation A. has added another epic phrase ἐπὶ τραφερήν τε καὶ ὑγρήν changed from its more usual accusative form (Il. 14.308,). πέριξ: recalls Hdt. 4.36. Argos, in describing his own ancient, engraved map, stresses that he, like Herodotus, holds the key to accurate information.
278: αὖθι instead of the difficult transmitted ὅγε is owed to the new Papyrus reading (P.Oxy. 5428: Slattery, and Henry 2019),
282–3 ἔστι δέ τις ποταμός . . . περῆσαι: ‘There is a river, the uppermost horn of Ocean, broad and exceeding deep, crossable in a merchant ship.” This type of scene-setting goes back to Homer (Il. 11.722, 6.152; see further (Hulse 2015, 184) for a fuller commentary on this passage (and others).
282 κέρας Ὠκεανοῖο: is a reversal of the beginning of Hes. Th. 789. The metaphor is probably connected with the representation of rivers as bulls (also Eur. Or. 1378). νηὶ περῆσαι: another Herodotean touch: Hdt. 4.47–8, 5.52.4 ἐστὶ ποταμὸς νηυσιπέρητος.
284 Ἴστρον μιν καλέοντες ἑκὰς διετεκμήραντο: ‘they call it Ister and have marked it far off.’ The Greeks had known about the lower reaches of the Ister for a long time. Hdt. (4.48) describes the Ister as the most important of the rivers known to him and located its sources in the land of the Celts: (quoted above). According to A., the Black Sea and Adriatic Sea are linked by the Ister, which he sees as a network of waterways connected with the Okeanos. ἑκὰς διετεκμήραντο: refers to the primitive maps denoted by γραπτῦς (γραπτούς) / κυρβιας in 279–80. ἑκάς (and ὕπατον in 282) must refer to the river as the ὕπατον κέρας Ὠκεανοῖο, marked at the outer limits of the map, Ocean being the great river encompassing the earth and the source of all other rivers.
285–7 ὅς δή . . . μορμύρουσιν: “which for a while cuts through the boundless pasture alone in one stream; for beyond the blasts of the north wind, far off in the Rhipaean mountains, its springs bubble forth.” ἀπείρονα . . . ἄρουραν is a combination of ἀπείρονα γαῖαν (Il. 7.446 and often) and ζείδωρον ἄρουραν (Od. 5.463 and often). Perhaps read τέμνει (with Fränkel ad loc.) rather than transmitted τέμνετ ̓, which as a present middle form with elision is difficult to parallel. τέμνει is supported by Od. 3.175, Pi. P. 3.68, Hdt. 2.33 and Eur. El. 410–1
More Herodotean reminiscences complete these lines: εἷς οἶος: 2.17.3, πηγαί 1.189: ὑπὲρ πνοιῆς βορέαο: varies Il. 5.697, and 15.171(Bacchyl. 5.46 ῥιπᾷ γὰρ ἴσος βορέα). There is word play between πνοιῆς βορέαο and Ῥιπαίοις ἐν ὄρεσσιν. The blasts (ῥιπαί) of Boreas were supposed to come from these mythical mountains.Ῥιπαίοις ἐν ὄρεσσιν shows A. closely following Timagetus,
288–90 ἀλλ ̓ ὁπόταν . . . τῇδ ̓ ὕδωρ: “But when it enters the boundaries of the Thracians and Scythians, here, dividing its stream into two, it sends its waters partly into the eastern sea.” In general Herodotus’ description of the course of the Ister (284n.). In view of Hdt. 4.125.4, Pl. Leg. 778e read οὔρων for the mss. οὔρους. διχῆ with σχίζω: Pl. Tim. 21e, Hdt. 1.75.5
289: The second mss. ἔνθα seems awkward. Read αὖθι and cf. 1.303 1.315. See also the new Papyrus reading at line 278. The passage is to be construed ἔνθα διχῆ . . . σχιζόμενος, τὸ μὲν αὖθι . . . τὸ δ ̓ ὄπισθε. Perhaps the scribe had the common Homeric tag ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα in mind.
The conjecture is also supported by Σ on 282–91b (p. 281 Wendel) σχίζεται εἰς δύο καὶ τὸ μὲν αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν Εὔξεινον πόντον βάλλει, τὸ δὲ ἕτερον εἰς τὴν Τρινακρίαν θάλασσαν. The scholiast’s τὸ μὲν αὐτοῦ strongly suggests that he had αὖθι in his text. For similar corruptions cf. Eur. Tro. 1098–1100 and also [Hes.] fr. 276 M–W.
Read ἠοιήν for transmitted Ἰονίην. An allusion to the Pontos is required: the eastern sea (the Black Sea) as seen from the Greek perspective
Wilamowitz’s μεθ ̓ ἡμετέρην ((1924) 187) is possible because of the contrast created with 292–3 γαίῃ ὅς ὑμετέρῃ. However the paraphrase in Σ (p. 280 Wendel) on which it is based εἰς τὴν καθ ̓ἡμᾶς θάλασσαν seems to refer to the Mediterranean. ἠῴην (Gerhard) 1816 80–82 or ἠοιήν (Platt (1914) 42) is preferable; see Delage (1930) 201 and cf. 2.745 εἰς ἄλα βάλλων / ἠοιήν.
290–3 τὸ δ ̓ ὄπισθε βαθὺν . . . ὑμετέρης γαίης Ἀχελώιος ἐξανίησιν: “and behind it the other branch flows through a deep gulf that connects with the Trinacrian sea, that sea which lies along your land, if indeed Achelous flows forth from your land.” One ancient name of Sicily, referring to its triangular shape, was Trinakria. Perhaps A. had in mind the myth of Arethusa A. seems to think that the western branch of the Ister similarly flowed under the Adriatic, either to join up with the Acheloos or else, like the Alpheios, to Sicily. εἰσανέχοντα recalls another Herodotean passage: Hdt. 7.198. παρακέκλιται: "lies beside" < παρακλίνω: perf. ind. mp. 3rd. sg. used as a geographical term (Hecat. 1 F 286 FGrH = M449.8, Call. h. 4.72, A.R. 4.1239.
ἐρύομαι, to draw, to launch
ἄρμενα, τά, tackle of a ship
ἄνειμι, to go up; to set out for
φημί, to say: φαίης: pres. opt. act. 2nd. sg
νηΐτης, ου, ὁ, of or belonging to a ship
στόλος, ὁ, expedition by land or (more frequently) sea
οἰωνός, ὁ, a bird
εἰλαδόν, or ἰλαδόν, Adv. swarm on swarm, in abundance 240
ἄσπετος, ον, unspeakably great, huge
αὐτίκα, immediately, straightway, at once; presently
ἔθνος, εος, τό, swarm, flock, tribe
ἐπιβρομέω, to rumble, roar
λαιψηρός, ά, όν, light, nimble, swift
ἄημι, to blow
ὤκιστος, superlative of ὠκύς, swift
Αἰαίη, ἡ, Aeaean, of Colchis
Πελασγίς, ίδος, ἡ, Pelasgian
πρυμνήσιος, α, ον, of a stern, mostly neut. pl. πρυμνήσια (sc. δεσμά), stern-cables
δέω, bind, tie, fetter
πάροιθε, before, in front 245
ἐξαποβαίνω, step out of, land from
ἀρέσκω, to make offerings to the gods
θύος, εος, τό, burnt sacrifice
θῠηλή, ἡ, sacrifice
πορσύνω, to prepare
τῐτύσκομαι, to make, make ready, prepare (used only in pres. and impf.)
ἴστωρ, ορος, ὁ, ἡ, knowing a thing, skilled in it
ἐποτρύνω, stir up, excite, urge on
ἀείδω, to sing
ἅζομαι, stand in awe of; to shrink from doing something (+ infin.) 250
αὐδάω, to say, to speak
ἕδος, εος, τό, base, foundation
ἐξέτι, ever since
ῥηγμίν, or ῥηγμίς, gen. -ῖνος, ἡ, where the sea breaks on the beach
δέμω, aor. ἔδειμα, to build
ὀψῐγονος, ον, late-born
τῆμος, now, today
μιμνήσκω, μνήσω, ἔμνησα, ---, μέμνημαι, ἐμνήσθην, ---, remember
ἥρως, -ωος ὁ, hero, warrior
Φινεύς, ὁ, Phineus (an Argonaut)
πλόος, ὁ, a sailing, voyage
Αἶα, ἡ, Colchis 255
ἀνώϊστος, ον, unknown
Ἄργος, ὁ, Argus (an Argonaut)
λιλαίομαι, to be eager, to long
ἀγορεύω, ἀγορεύσω, ἠγόρευσα, ἠγόρευκα, ἠγόρευμαι, ἠγορεύθην, address, harangue, speak
νίσσομαι, to go, go away
Ὀρχομενός, ὁ, also ἡ, Orchomenus
χράω, χρήσω, ἔχρησα, ---, κέχρημαι, ἐχρήσθην, to proclaim or direct by oracle (mid. χράομαι)
περάω, περάσω, (or περῶ), ἐπέρασα, πεπέρακα, --- ---, pass through
νημερτής, ές, unerring, infallible
μάντις, -εως ὁ, prophet
συμβαίνω, συμβήσομαι, συνέβην, συμβέβηκα, meet, happen, result
πλόος, ὁ, a sailing, voyage
ἀθάνατος, -ον, immortal, deathless
ἱερεύς, -έως, ὁ, priest, sacrificer
φράζω, φράσω, ἔφρασα, πέφρακα, πέφρασμαι, ἐφράσθην, point out, show 260
Θῆβαι, αἱ Thebes (often pl. but can be used in sing.)
Τριτωνίς, ἡ, Tritonian
ἐκγίγνομαι, to be born of
τεῖρος, τό, the heavenly constellations, signs
οὐρανός, -οῦ ὁ, heaven, sky
ἑλίσσω, to turn round, to turn
Δᾰναοί, οἱ, the Greeks, descendants of Danaus
πεύθομαι, to inquire (older form of πυνθάνομαι)
Ἀρκάς, άδος, ὁ, Arcadian
Ἀπῐδᾰνῆες, -έων, οἱ, Peloponnesians
σελήνης, ἡ, moon
ὑδέω, call, name
ζῶ, live 265
φηγός -οῦ, ἡ, acorn, oak
ἔδω, to eat
ὄρος, ὄρους, τό, mountain, hill
χθών, χθονός, ἡ, the earth, ground
κῡδάλιμος, ον, glorious, renowned, famous
ἀνάσσω, be king, lord, or master of, rule over, reign
Δευκαλίδης -ου, ὁ, son of Deucalion; (pl.) the descendants of Deucalion, rulers of Thessaly
ἦμος, at which time, when
Ἠερίη, Morning Land, i.e. Egypt
πολυλήϊος, rich in plains, rich in harvests
κλῄζω, to call
Αἴγυπτος ἡ, Egypt
προτερηγενής, born earlier, older
αἰζηός, strong, lusty, vigorous
ἄρδω, to water 270
μιν, it, himself, herself (indecl.)
δεύω, to wet, drench
ὄμβρος, storm of rain, thunder-storm
προχοή, outpouring, flooding
ἀνασταχύω, to put forth crops
ἄρουρα, tilled or arable land, ground
ἔνθεν, whence; thence
πέριξ, round about, all round
ὁδεύω, to go, travel
Εὐρώπη, Europa, Europe
βία, -ας ἡ, strength, force
κάρτος, -εος τό, strength, courage
λαός, -οῦ ὁ, people, host
σφωίτερος, his own (= σφέτερος)
θάρσος, courage, boldness
μυρίος, -α, -ον, numberless, infinite
ἄστυ, -εως, τό, town
ναίω, aor. ἔνασσα or νάσσα, middle ἐνασσάμην, dwell, inhabit; (mid.) found (a city) 275
ἐποίχομαι, to go on a journey, travel
ναιετάω, to dwell; (of places) exist
ἐπενήνοθε(ν), has passed
αἰών, -ῶνος, ὁ, time
μένω, μενῶ, ἔμεινα, μεμένηκα, --- ---, remain, await, stand fast
ἔμπεδος, in the ground, firm-set, steadfast
υἱωνός, a grandson
καθίζω, set, place; (of people) cause to settle
ναίω, dwell, inhabit, be situated
γραπτύς, -ύος, acc. pl. γραπτῦς, ἡ, scratching; (pl.) writings
ἐρύομαι, maintain, preserve, protect
κύρβεις, -εων, acc. pl. κύρβιας, αἱ, pillars or tablets with inscriptions 280
πεῖραρ, -ᾰτος, τό, an end, limit
ὑγρός, wet, moist, running, fluid=sea
τραφερή, (sc. γῆ), ἡ, dry land
πέριξ, round about, all round
ἐπινίσσομαι, come upon, visit, travel
ὕπατος, -η, -ον, highest, the top of
κέρας, -ως, τό, horn
εὐρύς, -εῖα, -ύ, broad
προβαθύς, very deep
ὁλκάς, -άδος, ἡ, merchant ship
περάω, περάσω, (or περῶ), ἐπέρασα, πεπέρακα, --- ---, pass through
Ἴστρος, Ister, Danube
ἑκάς, far, afar, far off
διατεκμαίρομαι, to mark out
τέως (or τείως), for a while 285
ἀπείρων, without bounds, immense
τέμνω, τεμῶ, ἔτεμον, τέτμηκα, τέτμημαι, ἐτμήθην, cut, maim; sacrifice, divide
ἄρουρα, tilled or arable land, ground
οἶος, -α, -ον, alone
πηγή, running waters, streams
πνοή, a blowing, blast, breeze
Βορέας, ου, ὁ, the North Wind
Ῥιπαῖος, Rhipean, referring to a fabulous range of mountains in the far North
ἀπόπροθι, far away
μορμύρω, to roar and boil
Θρῆιξ, inhabitant of Thrace, Thracian
Σκύθης ὁ, Scythian
ἐπιβαίνω, ἐπιβήσομαι, ἐπέβην, ἐπιβέβηκα, --- ---, enter, arrive at
ὅρος, -ου, acc. pl. οὔρους, ὁ, boundary; (pl.) bounds, lands
διχῆ, (adv.) into two ways
ἠοῖος, eastern, toward the dawn
ἅλς, ἁλός, ἡ, sea
τῇδε (dat. fem. of ὅδε, as adv.), here 290
ὕδωρ, ὕδατος, τό, water
ὄπισθε, behind (see notes)
βαθύς, -εῖα, -ύ, deep, high
κόλπος, -ου, ὁ, bay, gulf
ἵημι, ἥσω, ἧκα, εἷκα, εἷμαι, εἵθην, put in motion, let go, shoot
σχίζω, to split, cleave
εἰσανέχω, rise above
ὑμέτερος, -α, -ον, your
παρακλίνω, to lie beside (+ dat.)
ἐτεός, true, real, genuine
Ἀχελώϊος, Achelous (river)
ἐξανίημι, to send forth, let loose