ἀλλά, θεαί, πῶς τῆσδε παρὲξ ἁλός, ἀμφί τε γαῖαν
Αὐσονίην νήσους τε Λιγυστίδας, αἳ καλέονται
Στοιχάδες, Ἀργῴης περιώσια σήματα νηὸς
νημερτὲς πέφαται; τίς ἀπόπροθι τόσσον ἀνάγκη555
καὶ χρειώ σφ᾽ ἐκόμισσε; τίνες σφέας ἤγαγον αὖραι;
αὐτόν που μεγαλωστὶ δεδουπότος Ἀψύρτοιο
Ζῆνα, θεῶν βασιλῆα, χόλος λάβεν, οἷον ἔρεξαν.
Αἰαίης δ᾽ ὀλοὸν τεκμήρατο δήνεσι Κίρκης
αἷμ᾽ ἀπονιψαμένους, πρό τε μυρία πημανθέντας,560
νοστήσειν. τὸ μὲν οὔτις ἀριστήων ἐνόησεν:
ἀλλ᾽ ἔθεον γαίης Ὑλληίδος ἐξανιόντες
τηλόθι: τὰς δ᾽ ἀπέλειπον, ὅσαι Κόλχοισι πάροιθεν
ἑξείης πλήθοντο Λιβυρνίδες εἰν ἁλὶ νῆσοι,
Ἴσσα τε Δυσκέλαδός τε καὶ ἱμερτὴ Πιτύεια.565
αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ᾽ ἐπὶ τῇσι παραὶ Κέρκυραν ἵκοντο,
ἔνθα Ποσειδάων Ἀσωπίδα νάσσατο κούρην,
ἠύκομον Κέρκυραν, ἑκὰς Φλιουντίδος αἴης,
ἁρπάξας ὑπ᾽ ἔρωτι: μελαινομένην δέ μιν ἄνδρες
ναυτίλοι ἐκ πόντοιο κελαινῇ πάντοθεν ὕλῃ570
δερκόμενοι Κέρκυραν ἐπικλείουσι Μέλαιναν.
τῇ δ᾽ ἐπὶ καὶ Μελίτην, λιαρῷ περιγηθέες οὔρῳ,
αἰπεινήν τε Κερωσσόν, ὕπερθε δὲ πολλὸν ἐοῦσαν
Νυμφαίην παράμειβον, ἵνα κρείουσα Καλυψὼ
Ἀτλαντὶς ναίεσκε: τὰ δ᾽ ἠεροειδέα λεύσσειν575
οὔρεα δοιάζοντο Κεραύνια. καὶ τότε βουλὰς
ἀμφ᾽ αὐτοῖς Ζηνός τε μέγαν χόλον ἐφράσαθ᾽ Ἥρη.
μηδομένη δ᾽ ἄνυσιν τοῖο πλόου, ὦρσεν ἀέλλας
ἀντικρύ, ταῖς αὖτις ἀναρπάγδην φορέοντο
νήσου ἔπι κραναῆς Ἠλεκτρίδος. αὐτίκα δ᾽ ἄφνω580
ἴαχεν ἀνδρομέῃ ἐνοπῇ μεσσηγὺ θεόντων
αὐδῆεν γλαφυρῆς νηὸς δόρυ, τό ῥ᾽ ἀνὰ μέσσην
στεῖραν Ἀθηναίη Δωδωνίδος ἥρμοσε φηγοῦ.
τοὺς δ᾽ ὀλοὸν μεσσηγὺ δέος λάβεν εἰσαΐοντας
φθογγήν τε Ζηνός τε βαρὺν χόλον. οὐ γὰρ ἀλύξειν585
ἔννεπεν οὔτε πόρους δολιχῆς ἁλός, οὔτε θυέλλας
ἀργαλέας, ὅτε μὴ Κίρκη φόνον Ἀψύρτοιο
νηλέα νίψειεν: Πολυδεύκεα δ᾽ εὐχετάασθαι
Κάστορά τ᾽ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖς ἤνωγε κελεύθους
Αὐσονίης ἔμπροσθε πορεῖν ἁλός, ᾗ ἔνι Κίρκην590
δήουσιν, Πέρσης τε καὶ Ἠελίοιο θύγατρα.
ὧς Ἀργὼ ἰάχησεν ὑπὸ κνέφας: οἱ δ᾽ ἀνόρουσαν
Τυνδαρίδαι, καὶ χεῖρας ἀνέσχεθον ἀθανάτοισιν
εὐχόμενοι τὰ ἕκαστα: κατηφείη δ᾽ ἔχεν ἄλλους
ἥρωας Μινύας. ἡ δ᾽ ἔσσυτο πολλὸν ἐπιπρὸ595
λαίφεσιν, ἐς δ᾽ ἔβαλον μύχατον ῥόον Ἠριδανοῖο:
ἔνθα ποτ᾽ αἰθαλόεντι τυπεὶς πρὸς στέρνα κεραυνῷ
ἡμιδαὴς Φαέθων πέσεν ἅρματος Ἠελίοιο
λίμνης ἐς προχοὰς πολυβενθέος: ἡ δ᾽ ἔτι νῦν περ
τραύματος αἰθομένοιο βαρὺν ἀνακηκίει ἀτμόν.600
οὐδέ τις ὕδωρ κεῖνο διὰ πτερὰ κοῦφα τανύσσας
οἰωνὸς δύναται βαλέειν ὕπερ: ἀλλὰ μεσηγὺς
φλογμῷ ἔπι θρώσκει πεποτημένος. ἀμφὶ δὲ κοῦραι
Ἡλιάδες ταναῇσιν †ἀείμεναι αἰγείροισιν,
μύρονται κινυρὸν μέλεαι γόον: ἐκ δὲ φαεινὰς605
ἠλέκτρου λιβάδας βλεφάρων προχέουσιν ἔραζε,
αἱ μέν τ᾽ ἠελίῳ ψαμάθοις ἔπι τερσαίνονται:
εὖτ᾽ ἂν δὲ κλύζῃσι κελαινῆς ὕδατα λίμνης
ἠιόνας πνοιῇ πολυηχέος ἐξ ἀνέμοιο,
δὴ τότ᾽ ἐς Ἠριδανὸν προκυλίνδεται ἀθρόα πάντα610
κυμαίνοντι ῥόῳ. Κελτοὶ δ᾽ ἐπὶ βάξιν ἔθεντο,
ὡς ἄρ᾽ Ἀπόλλωνος τάδε δάκρυα Λητοΐδαο
ἐμφέρεται δίναις, ἅ τε μυρία χεῦε πάροιθεν,
ἦμος Ὑπερβορέων ἱερὸν γένος εἰσαφίκανεν,
οὐρανὸν αἰγλήεντα λιπὼν ἐκ πατρὸς ἐνιπῆς,615
χωόμενος περὶ παιδί, τὸν ἐν λιπαρῇ Λακερείῃ
δῖα Κορωνὶς ἔτικτεν ἐπὶ προχοῇς Ἀμύροιο.
καὶ τὰ μὲν ὧς κείνοισι μετ᾽ ἀνδράσι κεκλήισται.
τοὺς δ᾽ οὔτε βρώμης ᾕρει πόθος, οὐδὲ ποτοῖο,
οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ γηθοσύνας τράπετο νόος. ἀλλ᾽ ἄρα τοίγε620
ἤματα μὲν στρεύγοντο περιβληχρὸν βαρύθοντες
ὀδμῇ λευγαλέῃ, τήν ῥ᾽ ἄσχετον ἐξανίεσκον
τυφομένου Φαέθοντος ἐπιρροαὶ Ἠριδανοῖο:
νύκτας δ᾽ αὖ γόον ὀξὺν ὀδυρομένων ἐσάκουον
Ἡλιάδων λιγέως: τὰ δὲ δάκρυα μυρομένῃσιν625
οἷον ἐλαιηραὶ στάγες ὕδασιν ἐμφορέοντο.
From the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea
From the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Argonauts' nostos continues on its circuitous way.
552–556 A. interrupts the narrative of his poem to ask for further information from his Muses. He is planning ahead and wants to know how the Argonauts leave the Adriatic and get into the Western Mediterranean. A bridge passage is necessary if they are to make traditional Argonautic landfalls on the West coast of Italy. The Muses are his sources of information but are, perhaps, equivalent in A.’s mind to the access that he has to the greatest research library in the ancient world at Alexandria, where he could consult logographers, geographers and historians such as Timaios and the mysterious Timagetus on the questions that he lyrically poses in these lines.
552 ἀλλά, θεαί: Callimachus telling a part of the story of the Argonauts does the same: fr. 7c: κῶς δέ, θεαί. The poet sees the Muses as a source of information. τῆσδε παρὲξ ἁλός: “beyond this sea” i.e. the Adriatic. παρέξ here takes the genitive.
552–3 ἀμφί τε γαῖαν / Αὐσονίην: The area of Tuscany and Campania. νήσους τε Λιγυστίδας: “The Ligurian islands called the Stoichades” (Hansen and Nielsen 2004,160). They are usually identified with the Îles d’ Hyères off Toulon.
554 Ἀργῴης περιώσια σήματα νηὸς: “very many signs of the ship called Argo.”
555 νημερτὲς πέφαται: “infallibly brought to light”, or “proclaimed with all truth.” A typical Alexandrian philological joke. πέφαται (Pass. pf. 3rd. sg.) belongs either to φαίνω (LSJ A. 1.5), or to φημί. In Homer πέφαται also occurs at Il. 15.140, meaning “has been killed.” νημερτές seems to be an amusing reference to the ambiguity concerning the verb. ἀπόπροθι τόσσον: “so far away.” σφ᾿(ε) = αὐτούς (LSJ 2a): “them” i.e. the Argonauts. A. shows off his Alexandrian learning by using another form of the same pronoun in the next phrase. Virgil copies A.’s run of questions at Aen. 3.337 (Andromache questioning Aeneas) sed tibi qui cursum venti, quae fata dedere? “But to you what winds, what fates gave a course?”
557–61 Throughout the Argonautica Zeus remains threatening and inscrutable. His anger at the earlier murder of Apsyrtus drives the action for the central part of Book 4. He has decided that the Argonauts must be purified by Circe and suffer “countless troubles” (μυρία πημανθέντας) before returning home. This is based on Od. 9.534–5, Polyphemus’ prayer to Poseidon, that Odysseus’ return home will be a miserable one, after having lost his companions, on a foreign ship and finding πήματα at home; see further Hunter 1993,80.
557 αὐτόν που: A.’s answer to his own questioning begins emphatically. Zeus comes first (αὐτόν), even if his title is delayed and Apsyrtus’ death is described in heroic style (μεγαλωστί). The participle (δεδουπότος) carries tragic overtones: δεδουπότος Οἰδιπόδαο (Il. 23.679). In spite of this strong opening, που introduces an element of doubt, “I suppose.” Although Zeus is mentioned throughout the poem (see Fränkel OCT index: Ζεύς), he never appears, so how can we mortals truly know what his plan is in detail?
558 χόλος λάβεν: Zeus’ anger is also described using heroic language (Walsh 2005,126). οἷον ἔρεξαν: “what they had done.” This echo of 475 almost suggests that Zeus was present at the murder, along with the Fury.
559–60 The order is intricate. Αἰαίης . . . δήνεσι Κίρκης: “by the instructions (δήνεσι) of Aeaean Circe”. τεκμήρατο: comes from Od. 10.563 ἄλλην δ’ ἧμιν ὁδὸν τεκμήρατο Κίρκη, echoing a previous Circe reference. ὀλοὸν . . . αἷμ᾿ ἀπονιψαμένους: “should cleanse themselves from the murderous blood,” recalling the earlier reference to Heracles’ mission of purification (541). πρό: is used adverbially; see further (Oswald 1904,46) μυρία πημανθέντας: Suffering, wandering and return (νόστος) are consistent themes in Greek Literature: “it obviously forms the central plot device of the Odyssey, as well as of the Nostoi (The Returns) from the Epic Cycle and of the Nostoi by Stesichorus, and even in the Iliad . . .” (Finglass 2018, 57), discussing the Nostos theme and its relevance to the criticism of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King; see also (Montiglio 2005).
561 τὸ μὲν οὔ τις ἀριστήων ἐνόησεν: “None of the heroes realised this.” Odysseus hears the Cyclops prayer to Poseidon (557–61n.). The Argonauts are more “in the dark” (sometimes literally towards the end of Book 4) about the intentions of the gods.
562 γαίης Ὑλληίδος ἐξανιόντες: “setting out from the Hyllean land.” The Argonauts continue on their way South through the Croatian islands.
563 τὰς δ᾿ ἀπέλειπον: “they left behind all (ὅσαι . . . Λιβυρνίδες) the Liburnian Islands.
564 ἑξείης πλήθοντο: “occupied in succession.” This must refer to the previous (πάροιθεν) confrontation between Argonauts and Colchians described in 326–337.
565 Ἴσσα τε Δυσκέλαδός τε καὶ ἱμερτὴ Πιτύεια: a mellifluous line: “Issa, Dysceladus, and lovely Pityeia.” A. has in mind: Od. 9.24 Δουλίχιόν τε Σάμη τε καὶ ὑλήεσσα Ζάκυνθος (later imitated by Virgil at Aen. 3.271 Dulchiciumque Sameque et Neritos ardua saxis). Issa is probably modern Vis, Pityeia could be Pitve and Dyskelados is difficult to identify. Possible candidates are Brattia (mod. Brac), Pharos (mod. Hvar), and Olunta / Sollentia. It could conceivably be an adjective describing Issa, “harsh-sounding” (balancing ἱμερτή); see further (Fortis 1778, 320). The explorer and author, R. F. Burton speculated on all of these places when he was British Consul in Trieste in 1876 and travelled in the area (Burton 1876, 280).
566 αὐτὰρ ἔπειτ’: is sometimes satirised as a line-filling phrase but see 539a n. ἐπὶ τῇσι: “After these.” παραὶ Κέρκυραν: “past, by the side of Kerkyra;” see (Oswald 1904, 192). This is not the more familiar island, that will play a significant part later in the book, but “Black Corcyra”, modern Korčula. A. explains the adjective in the following lines.
567 Ἀσωπίδα . . . κούρην: “daughter of the river Asopus.” A. is adapting a complicated piece of mythology (see table in the “Asopus” link) and playing with his reader’s expectations. νάσσατο: aor. ind. mid. 3rd. sg. (epic) < ναίω, “settled.”
568 ἠύκομον Κέρκυραν: “Lovely-haired Kerkyra.” This is the nymph but it might conceivably be the island. ἠύκομος can refer to foliage (δένδρεσιν ἠϋκόμοισιν Emp.127.2) but in Homer it is a frequent epithet of Helen (Il. 3.329 . . . Ἑλένης . . . ἠϋκόμοιο et al.). ἑκὰς Φλειουντίδος αἴης: “far from the land of Phlius.” A. is consciously altering the locations associated with the traditional stories of the abductions of Asopus’ daughters. The Asopus river runs near Phlius in the area of Sicyon, west of Corinth.
569 ἁρπάξας ὑπ᾿ ἔρωτι: “having abducted her out of love.” This confirms the fact that, for the moment, we are talking about the Nymph; though she soon metamorphoses into the island. A. poses his reader a question. In what way are they one and the same? μελαινομένην: “black (in appearance),” introducing the idea that this is a “different” Kerkyra.: μιν: is very ambiguous at the end of this line: it / her?
569–71 ἄνδρες / ναυτίλοι . . . δερκόμενοι: it is natural that the name comes from what passing sailors, such as the Argonauts, see (δερκόμενοι). Similarly, Pindar Paeans 7b.46–9 S-M: δέ μιν ἐν πέλ̣[α]γ̣[ο]ς̣ / ῥιφθεῖσαν εὐαγέα πέτραν φανῆναι[·/ καλέ̣οντί μιν Ὀρτυγίαν ναῦται πάλαι. / πεφόρητο δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ Αἰγαῖον θαμά (“But they say that she was flung into the sea and appeared as a conspicuous rock. Sailors have long called it Ortygia. It often travelled over the Aegean…”). κελαινῇ πάντοθεν ὕλῃ: with dark forest everywhere”, making clear that we are talking about dark foliage. ἐπικλείουσι: “they call it ‘Black Corcyra.’ Words such as κικλήσκουσι, κλείουσι, καλέουσι, and ἐπικλείουσι are frequent in writers of later epic. A. and Callimachus are particularly fond of showing off what they have found among the resources of the great library of Alexandria. On this narrative feature of learned poetry see further (Geisz 2017, 68–69). There is a certain degree of faux naivety about its use here (“the sailors saw that the island was covered with dark forest, so they called it ‘Black’”). Is A. entirely serious?
572 τῇ δ᾿ ἐπί: “next.” Μελίτην: the naiad Melite was mentioned previously (543). The island Melite is the modern Mljetoff the Croatian coast (see the map in Media section). λιαρῷ περιγηθέες οὔρῳ: “rejoicing in the warm breeze.” The breeze that takes Odysseus away from Calypso (who might have lived on Melite) is also λιαρός.
573 αἰπεινήν τε Κερωσσόν: “and steep Kerossos.” This island is generally given as unidentified but useful information concerning this group of islands and the location of Calypso’s island is collected here: (Bilić, 2009, 82) with English translation. ὕπερθε δὲ πολλὸν ἐοῦσαν: “much further on.”
574 Νυμφαίην παράμειβον: “they passed by Nymphae.” Such a location is not unknown to later authors; see further (Bilić, 2009, 80–1), but in calling the place where Calypso, the nymph, lived “Nymphaea”, A. is not giving a lot away. Neum might be another possibility to be added but in Homer (Od. 7.245–6) she lived on Ogygia (“primeval island”) and that was much discussed. Callimachus said that Ogygia was the island of Gaudos (mod. Gozo, next to Malta; fr. 470 Pfeiffer; see further Caesar Roger Vella 2010). It is not surprising to find A. taking an opposite view.
575 ναίεσκε: “used to live”: iterative imperfect: a favourite form in A. (Rzach 1878, 168–72).
575–6 ἠεροειδέα λεύσσειν οὔρεα δοιάζοντο Κεραύνια: “they thought they saw the misty Keraunian mountains.” Elegantly the word for mountains (οὔρεα) is placed in the middle of the clause. ἠεροειδέα: “misty, in the distance.” More likely, they saw the Dinara range, so the emphasis is on δοιάζοντο: “imagined, thought”; for A.’s adaption of this verb, meanings range from “doubt” to “imagine,” see further (Garson 1972, 1). The real Keraunian mountains are far to the South, running through Albania, a piece of Geo-philological humour on the part of A.
576–7 τότε βουλάς: Zeus rarely shows his hand in the Argonautica, which makes the following intervention the more remarkable. In some unspecified way Hera has learned (ἐφράσαθ᾿) what Zeus has in store for the Argonauts. Everything is vague and threatening. There is no clarity about the gods’ wishes. Does Hera forestall Zeus or is she, his instrument? Both reader and Argonauts can only wait in fearful anticipation. Ζηνός: to be understood with both βουλάς and χόλον stands in the middle of the phrase. ἀμφ᾿ αὐτοῖς: “about them,” i.e. the Argonauts.
578 μηδομένη: “devising,” as often in the poem, Hera directs operations. ἄνυσιν τοῖο πλόου: “accomplishment of that voyage.” Almost an Apollonian formula: 1.981 πεύθετο ναυτιλίης ἄνυσιν, Πελίαό τ᾽ ἐφετμάς, 2.310 πείρατα ναυτιλίης ἐνέπων ἄνυσίν τε κελεύθου. τοῖο is demonstrative and refers to the accomplishment of Zeus’ plans: the Argonauts must suffer πήματα before they can achieve their return (557–561).
579–80 ὦρσεν ἀέλλας / ἀντικρύ: “roused winds from the opposite direction.” A typical Apollonian variation on: Od. 11.400 ὄρσας ἀργαλέων ἀνέμων ἀμέγαρτον ἀϋτμήν. The Argonauts are blown back up the Adriatic. Like Odysseus (Od. 10.48), when almost in sight of Ithaca, they are not destined to return home yet; see further (Knight 1995,125). ταῖς αὖτις: “by which back again.” These storms (see 510n.) carry them some distance at some considerable speed (581 μεσσηγὺ θεόντων).
580 νήσου ἔπι κραναῆς Ἠλεκτρίδος: the preposition is in anastrophe. “upon the rocky island of Elektris.” (see 505n.). There is also a clever allusion to Il. 3.445 (νήσῳ δ’ ἐν Κραναῇ: Paris speaking to Helen). αὐτίκα δ᾿ ἄφνω: “Suddenly, straightaway.” As often, at moments of high drama, the focus of the action switches mid-line.
581 ἴαχεν ἀνδρομέῃ ἐνοπῇ: “cried aloud with a human voice.” There is an echo of Hesiod here: φέρον δ᾽ ἰαχήν τ᾽ ἐνοπήν τε (Th. 708). It is almost as though the Argo gave its own war-cry. That she spoke is an old part of the story. It goes back to Aeschylus (fr. 20R ἀνέστεν᾿ Ἀργοῦς ἱερὸν αὐδᾶεν ξύλον) and is maybe alluded to in the Red figure vase in the Media section: (Richter 1936, 119 vol. 1). 581–3 are similar in wording to Arg. 1.525–7 and 583 is identical to 1.527. In the Argonautica, almost the ‘anti-repetition’ epic, this is very unusual. Both moments in the story are very significant. μεσσηγὺ θεόντων: “as they rushed along.” A. repeats the word below (584), where it almost signals the “breaks coming on.”
582 γλαφυρῆς νηὸς δόρυ: “the plank of the hollow ship” alludes to and combines two Homeric formulae: δόρυ νήϊον (Il. 15.410 etc) and γλαφυρῆς ἐκ νηὸς (Od. 9.548 etc).
582–3 τό ῥ᾿ ἀνὰ μέσσην / στεῖραν: “which . . . in the middle of the keel.” Reminiscences of another Homeric passage: ἀμφὶ δὲ κῦμα / στείρῃ πορφύρεον μεγάλ᾽ ἴαχε νηὸς ἰούσης (Il. 1.482, also Od. 2.428). Ἀθηναίη: helped to build the Argo. Δωδωνίδος . . . φηγοῦ: “the oak of Dodona.” The sacred oak issued oracles. The plank in the Argo has inherited its capabilities. ἥρμοσε: “fitted.” The same verb is used, when Odysseus is building his raft to leave Calypso’s island(Od. 5.247).
584 τούς: “the Argonauts.” ὀλοὸν μεσσηγὺ δέος λάβεν: “dread fear seized them in mid-course . . .” “Mid-course” as they sailed along but also as they listened to the oracle (εἰσαΐοντας). The consequences of Zeus’ words do not take long to have their effect. The position of μεσσηγὺ stresses this.
585 φθογγήν τε Ζηνός τε βαρὺν χόλον: deliberately echoing the phrase used in 577 and introducing the indirect speech of Zeus’ commands. ἀλύξειν: fut. inf. act. < ἀλύσκω, “avoid.”
586 ἔννεπεν: “it said”, i.e. the plank. Or, perhaps, we are hearing the actual voice of Zeus. The word order of the previous line leaves uncertain the relationship between "voice" and "Zeus." The indirect mode reinforces the obscurity of divine action and the uncertainty and fear with which the Argonauts are filled. πόρους δολιχῆς ἁλός: “the ways of the vast ocean.” This phrase is announced as one of the poem’s themes at the beginning of the Argonautica (Arg. 1.21).
588–9 νηλέα νίψειεν: Referring back to 561 and 541n. Πολυδεύκεα . . . Κάστορά: Polydeuces and Castor, the Dioskouroi: “patrons of travellers and of sailors in particular, who invoked them to seek favourable winds.” The present episode is to be thought of as taking place before they truly take on that role. As A. states at the very beginning of his poem, he is exploring the time of παλαιγενέων κλέα φωτῶν, “of men of long ago.” εὐχετάασθαι: see LSJ εὐχετάομαι Aii and Smyth 643. ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖς: Homer treats them initially as ordinary mortals.
589–90 κελεύθους / Αὐσονίης ἔμπροσθε πορεῖν ἁλός: “to grant (πορεῖν) passage (κελεύθους) within (ἔντοσθε) the Ausonian Sea (Αὐσονίης . . . ἁλός)”. The Ausonian Sea (552n.) is a term of wide application. With reference to Circe, it must mean Campania / Tuscany; see further (Hornblower 2015,133), and (Smith 2017 448).
591 Πέρσης τε καὶ Ἠελίοιο θύγατρα: “The daughter of Perse and the Sun.” See link above (587n.) and also (Yarnall 1994, 79–80).
592 ὣς Ἀργὼ . . . ὑπὸ κνέφας: a striking conclusion to Argo’s report of Zeus’ intention. ἰάχησεν: “she cried aloud.” The ship is a character in the drama. The short sentences and language of the following lines add to the excitement of the moment when the Argonauts enter the river Po and venture into the truly unknown. ἀνόρουσαν: “rushed forward,” continuing the drama.
593 Τυνδαρίδαι: “the sons of Tyndareus.” They are members of the band of heroes and not yet gods; see further (Larson 2007,189). There is another close link between this passage and Callimachus’ version of the Argonauts’ story (fr.18). ἀνέσχεθον: “they lifted up,” aor. ind. act. 3rd. pl. < ἀνασχέθω (ἀνέχω). One lifts up hands, when praying to the gods. Virgil had this passage in mind at Aen. 3.263-4 et pater Anchises passis de litore palmis / numina magna uocat meritosque indicit honores, “and father Anchises, with hands outstretched, from the beach, calls upon the mighty gods and proclaims sacrifices due.”
594 εὐχόμενοι τὰ ἕκαστα: “prayed for everything in detail,” carrying out their instructions exactly. κατηφείη: “dejection” at setbacks and moments of crisis is a mark of the Argonauts.
595 ἥρωας Μινύας: A. sometimes calls the Argonauts “Minyans,” (117n.). ἔσσυτο: “sped on:” imperf. ind. mid. 3rd. sg. (epic, ionic) < σεύω. Now under sail (λαίφεσιν), the Argo, herself, seems almost to be in control of the action.
596 ἐς δ᾿ ἔβαλον μύχατον ῥόον Ἠριδανοῖο: “they entered the innermost stream of the Eridanus.” The Eridanus is the river Po.
597–8 Φαέθων: Phaethon is struck down by Zeus to save the earth from total conflagration. It is not known when the myth of Phaethon, son of Helios, made its first appearance in Greek literature. In Homer the participle φαέθων is several times attached as an epithet of Helios; and just as Υπερίων is used in early poetry both as an epithet of Helios and as the name of Helios' father,' φαέθων came to be used, at whatever date, as the name of a son of Helios, Phaethon; see further (Diggle 1970, 3–32) and (Bridgman 2004, 107). αἰθαλόεντι τυπεὶς πρὸς στέρνα κεραυνῷ: “struck by a blazing lightning bolt on his chest.” τυπείς: aor. part. pass. masc. nom. < τύπτω. Varro Atacinus’ rendering of these Apollonian lines survives: tum in flagranti deiectum fulmine (Phaethon (fr. 10 Blänsdorf = fr. 11 Courtney).
599 λίμνης ἐς προχοὰς πολυβενθέος: “into the waters of that deep swamp.” ἡ δ᾿: refers to the lake (λίμνης). ἔτι νῦν περ: “And even now” emphasises A.’s aetiological interests. Typhaon is similarly described at Arg. 2.1211–14. Virgil, also, recalls the passage when describing Enceladus at Aen. 3.578-9.
600 τραύματος αἰθομένοιο: genitives of separation (Smyth 1395). βαρὺν . . . ἀτμόν: The exhalation or smoke rising from the smouldering corpse could definitely be described as “hard to bear” or “disgusting.” One of the ways by which A. makes this whole passage remarkably effective is the use of such realistic physical details: the “heavy vapour”, Phaethon’s “smouldering wound”, the amber tears of the Heliades, all bring an other-worldly atmosphere to the story of Phaethon’s fall; see further (Green 1997, 317).
601–2 οὐδέ τις . . .οἰωνὸς: “nor is any bird.” διὰ πτερὰ κοῦφα τανύσσας: “spreading its light wings.” The verb is in tmesis. βαλέειν ὕπερ: “fly over.” The infinitive is in anastrophe. “Birdless” regions play a part in a number of traditions; see further (Lord 1991, 188): Virgil, Aen. 6.237–42, Lucretius, DRN 6. 738–55, Od. 12.55–66. are relevant here.
602–3 ἀλλὰ μεσηγὺς . . . πεποτημένος: “but in mid-flight.” πεποτημένος: perf. part. masc. nom. sg. < ποτέομαι. There is no reason to adopt (Vian, Hunter) the conjecture ἐνιθρῴσκει (Damsté). The verb is not well-attested (Il. 21.233, 24.79, Pind. P. 3.37 seem different) and transmitted ἐπιθρῴσκει can be well-paralleled. The bird is stopped in mid-flight by the “heavy-vapour,” and, as it were, almost “leaps” upon the flame. One might be tempted to read φλογμῷ ἔπι θρῴσκει, to intensify this effect. A. is fond of anastrophe. Theocritus 7.25 is always printed as λανὸν ἔπι θρώσκεις, “or rushing to some townsman’s winepress?”
603–4 ἀμφὶ δὲ κοῦραι / Ἡλιάδες: the Heliades were transformed into poplar trees. That is not inappropriate for the banks of a river. grieving for themselves as well as their brother still, the girls inside the poplars weep, and the tears emerge as sap. For an account of all extant and fragmented classical references to the sisters of Phaethon, see (Irving 1992, 269–71). See Media section for “Heliades in Arbores.” Johannes Spreng, Metamorphoses Ovidii, 1563 (Courtesy of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut).
604 ταναῇσιν . . . αἰγείροισιν: “poplar trees.” †ἀείμεναι: The transmitted text (?) < ἄημι, “blown about by the winds, in the poplar trees?” does not give good sense. In the oldest Medieval witness to the text (Laurentianus gr. 32.09) a second correcting hand tried ἐφήμεναι (presumably < ἐπί-ἧμαι): According to an early commentator on the text (Brunck), this conveyed a picture of the Heliades “seating in the branches of the poplar tree” (on v.604 Enfermées; see further (“Apollonius de Rhodes : Argonautiques : Livre II (Bilingue)” 2009). The legend, however, says that the Heliades turn into polar trees (Hyginus 152A) and are, as it were, “imprisoned” within them. One conjecture and, possibly, one ms. give this sense: ἐελμέναι (< εἴλω) which was suggested by Gerhard (Gerhard 1816, 52). D (Paris, gr. 2729, 1490-1510) has ἑλιγμέναι (< ἑλίσσω), which has been seen as “the preservation of an ancient variant” (Speake 1974, 132), comparing Hes. Th. 791 of which “wound around with silver streams” seems a better translation than Speake’s “whirling.” Bearing in mind that it has ms. authority, ἑλιγμέναι should perhaps be preferred. It is what Brunck (Brunck 1780, 161–62) printed and supported in his notes ad loc.
605 μύρονται . . . μέλεαι: “wretchedly grieve.” The interwoven alliteration adds to the plaintive moment. κινυρὸν . . . γόον: “a wailing lament.”
605–6 ἐκ δὲ: with βλεφάρων and also perhaps in tmesis with προχέουσιν. Amber (φαεινὰς / ἠλέκτρου λιβάδας) did not and does not come from poplar trees and is not suddenly hardened by the sun. It was a resin, but a fossilized one, found in prehistoric Tertiary levels, especially those of northern Europe. Greeks and Romans considered it a precious gem and imported it as a luxury item. Some amber was washed out by the Po, as Pliny reports (HN 37.11); see further (Anderson, 1997, 269). βλεφάρων: “from their eyes.” We are to imagine that the Heliades retain their human emotions, although wholly or partly covered by bark. Perhaps A. is thinking of a scene from a lost tragedy of Aeschylus: the Heliades; see further (Sistakou 2016,144).
607 αἱ μέν: i.e. “the drops of resin (λιβάδας). ἠελίῳ ψαμάθοις ἔπι τερσαίνονται: “are dried by the sun on the sands (ψαμάθοις ἔπι, in tmesis).”
608 εὖτ᾿(ε) takes the subjunctive (κλύζῃσι: 3rd. sg. pres. subj. act.) and means “whenever” (LSJ 2b). A. is recalling Il. 23.61 κύματ’ ἐπ’ ἠϊόνος κλύζεσκον. For ὕδατα: “the waters”: neuter plural subject see Smyth 958. This construction is not observed (958a) in the parallel: Il. 23.61(above). κελαινῆς . . . λίμνης: “of the dark lake.”
609 is a combination of Homeric Il.24.342 ἅμα πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο “along with, (i.e. swift as), blasts of wind” (19.415 ἅμα πνοιῇ Ζεφύροιο, 12.207 πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο) and Il. 11.307–8 πολλὸν δὲ τρόφι κῦμα κυλίνδεται, ὑψόσε δ’ ἄχνη / σκίδναται ἐξ ἀνέμοιο πολυπλάγκτοιο ἰωῆς which is almost a direct parallel for the present phrase.
610 προκυλίνδεται: pres. ind. 3rd sg. Neuter plural subject (ἀθρόα πάντα) with sing. Verb. The amber dries in the sun (607) and when “the waters of the dark lake” (608) wash over it (κλύζῃσι), it is taken with the swelling current (κυμαίνοντι ῥόῳ) in to the Eridanus (Po) and then gathered up as it is still done (“Amber Washed Up On Beaches of Kaliningrad” 2015) today.
611–12 Κελτοὶ δ᾿ ἐπὶ βάξιν ἔθεντο, / ὡς ἄρ᾿: The ancient Greeks knew about the existence of Celts since the 6th century BC. The amount of contact and interaction, however, between the Greek and Celtic worlds is a much-discussed topic; see further (“Celtic and Mediterranean Interaction” 1977),with (Momigliano 1990,55). A’s use of the term Κελτοί seems to refer to the people around or east of Marseille, a centre for Hellenising Celts, (see Momigliano above). The only other literature before Polybios that contains the term Κελτοί is the single occurrence in Callimachus (Κελτὸν – Hymn to Delos, 173) and Lykophron (Κελτοῦ- Alexandra, 188); see further (Campbell 2009, 136). βάξις can sometimes mean a “story” or “rumour.” A. is perhaps implying that there is some doubt about the facts. What happens to the Argonauts in 619–26 does not seem to connect very closely with the story about Apollo. ἐπί is in tmesis with ἔθεντο, followed by an indirect statement introduced by ὡς (Smyth 2577). As often, the order of the words is interlaced (τάδε δάκρυα of Ἀπόλλωνος . . . Λητοΐδαο = masc. gen. epic of Λητοίδης). The drops (or tears) of amber are truly part of the river’s flow. The construction of the sentence is concise and needs more words in an English translation: “that these are in fact the tears of Leto’s son Apollo, which are borne along by the swirling waters, the innumerable tears he shed long before.” The use of ἄρα in the subordinate clause may well denote that A. does not give much credence to the Celtic tale (Smyth 2798). Apollo is the son of Leto.
613 For the τε attached to the relative ἅ see Smyth 2970.
615–6 ἐκ πατρὸς ἐνιπῆς: “because of his father’s (Zeus) rebuke.” χωόμενος περὶ παιδί: “angry about his child.” Asclepius is Apollo’s son and he is angry (χωόμενος) about his death. The traditional story says that Zeus exiled him to Thessaly. λιπαρῇ Λακερείῃ: “in bright Lacereia." (“Lacereia” 2019).
618 κεκλήισται: “has been told,” perf. pass. < κλῄζω. On the significance of this verb and cognates in Alexandrian poetry, see 570 n.
619 τοὺς δ᾿: i.e “the Argonauts.” The tricolon with οὔτε stresses their pitiful state: ᾕρει: imperf. ind. act. 3rd. sg.< αἱρέω: “possessed, took hold of.” βρώμης . . . πόθος . . . ποτοῖο: “desire for food and drink.” There is unsettling ambiguity in the way in which the Argonauts know nothing about the circumstances surrounding the fate of Phaethon and yet are themselves suffering under the constraints of some dimly perceived divine purpose; see further (Byre 1996, 280).
620 τράπετο νόος: “nor did the mind turn.” ᾿ ἐπὶ γηθοσύνας: “towards joy(s).” For the phrase see LSJ A3 τρέπω. There is no need to emend the text (νόος ἐτράπετ’) because of the lengthened ‘o.’ See (Mooney 1912, 424) for more examples where the lengthening is to be explained solely by ictus: Arg. 1.289, 1198, 2.360, 4.282, 1398, 1422. τράπετο only occurs once in Homer at Il. 17.733 σταίησαν, τῶν δὲ τράπετο χρώς, οὐδέ τις ἔτλη. A. may be thinking of this line.
621 ἤματα μέν: “during the day(s)”, balanced by νύκτας δ’ (624), “during the nights.” Indeterminate indications of time add to the uncertainty of the situation. στρεύγοντο: “they were afflicted,” a strong verb used of distress in battle or of being cast away in a deserted place, in a way similar to the plight of the Argonauts. περιβληχρὸν βαρύθοντες: “weighed down, in a greatly weakening way:” a highly compressed phrase, the more powerful for being so.
622 ὀδμῇ λευγαλέῃ: “by the foul stench.” The Argonauts are troubled in the same way that Phineus suffered from the smell of the Harpies in Book 2 (2.191 καὶ δ᾽ ἐπὶ μυδαλέην ὀδμὴν χέον, “they poured a foul stench over his food”.) A sense of death and decay is enveloping the Argonauts, doubtless a part of the troubles that they were promised earlier (560 μυρία πημανθέντας). On the symbolic nature of odor / ὀδμή in epic poetry see further (Allen 2015, 73). ἄσχετον: “not to be checked, irresistible,” and so perhaps, “ceaselessly, without a break” (Hunter ad loc.): LSJ. ἐξανίεσκον: “were sending forth.” For the iterative imperfect see 575–6n.
623 τυφομένου Φαέθοντος: “from the burning Phaethon.” The phrase depends on ἐξανίεσκον (“sent forth from”). ἐπιρροαὶ Ἠριδανοῖο: “the streams of the Eridanus.” ἐπιρροαί: is a rare use: LSJ ἐπιρροή.
624 νύκτας δ᾿ αὖ: see above. γόον ὀξὺν: “shrill lamentation.” Together with λιγέως, this emphasises the remaining humanity of the Heliades after their partial metamorphosis. On such metamorphoses in Hellenistic poetry see further (Buxton 2009,118).
625 τὰ δὲ δάκρυα μυρομένῃσιν: “lit. the tears to them weeping,” “their tears as they wept. The phrase recalls Il. 17.437–9 where Achilles’ horses mourn for Patroclus. The Heliades, too, have lost a charioteer in Phaethon. The allusion to the pathos of the Iliadic scene (on its effect see further Schein 2016, 17) combined with the fine image in 626 makes a strong conclusion to this unsettling and bizarre episode.
626 οἷον ἐλαιηραὶ στάγες: “like drops of olive oil.” ὕδασιν ἐμφορέοντο: “are carried on the waters,” echoing 613 and giving closure to the passage. It seems wrong to try to rationalise this description too much but maybe the amber drops of the Heliades’ tears did “seem to hang in the water”; see further (Elton 1882, 63).
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Αὐσόνιος -α, -ον, Ausonian, Italian
Λιγυστίδες -αἱ, Ligystides (name)
Στοιχάδες, Stoichades Islands
Ἀργῷος -η, -ον, of the Argo
περιώσιος, immense, countless
σῆμα τό, a sign, mark, token
νημερτής, unerring, infallible, with all truth 555
πέφᾰται, belongs either to φαίνω or to φημί
ἀπόπροθι, far away
τόσος, so great, so vast
ἀνάγκη -ης ἡ, necessity
χρειώ ἡ, want, need;
κομίζω κομιῶ ἐκόμισα κεκόμικα κεκόμισμαι ἐκομίσθην, bring
αὔρα ἡ, air in motion, a breeze
μεγαλωστί, in his tall stature
δουπέω, to fall dead
χόλος -ου ὁ, anger
ῥέζω, do, accomplish
Αἰαίη ἡ, Aeaea, island of Circe
ὀλοός, destructive, fatal, deadly, murderous
τεκμαίρομαι, to determine
δήνεα τά, counsels, plans, arts
αἷμα -ατος τό, blood 560
ἀπονίζω, wash off
μυρίος -α -ον, numberless, infinite
πημαίνω, to bring into misery, plunge into ruin, undo
νοστέω , return home
νοέω νοοῦμαι --- --- --- ---, perceive, observe, think
θέω θεύσομαι --- --- --- ---, to speed, sail quickly
Ὑλληίς -ίδος, ἡ, Hylle (name)
ἐξάνειμι, put out from
τηλόθι, far onward
ἑξείης, one after another, in order, in a row
πλήθω, to be or become full
Λιβυρνίδες, Liburnian Islands
Ἴσσα ἡ, (name of an island) 565
Δυσκέλαδος ἡ, Dyskelados (name of an island)
ἱμερτός, longed for, lovely
Πιτύεια ἡ, Pityeia (name of an island)
παραί, by/to the side of
Ποσειδῶν -ῶνος ὁ, Poseidon
Ἀσωπίς ἡ, daughter of Asopus
ναίω, dwell, inhabit, be situated
Κέρκυρα ἡ, Corcyra
ἑκάς, far from
Φλειους -ουντίδος, ἡ, Phleious (name)
αἶα ἡ, land
ἁρπάζω ἁρπάσομαι ἥρπασα ἥρπακα ἥρπασμαι ἡρπάσθην, snatch away, steal
μελαίνω, mid. to be black
ναυτίλος ὁ, a seaman, sailor 570
κελαινός, black, swart, dark, murky
πάντοθεν, from all quarters, from every side
δέρκομαι, to see clearly, see
ἐπικλείω, to extol, to name
Μελίτη ἡ, Melite
λιαρός, warm, balmy
περιγηθής, very joyful
οὖρος ὁ, a fair wind
αἰπεινός, high, lofty
Κερωσσός, Kerossos (name of an island)
ὕπερθε δὲ πολλὸν, much further out to sea
Νυμφαία, Nymphaea (name of an island)
παραμείβω, to leave on one side, pass by
κρείων -οντος ὁ, queen
Καλυψώ ἡ, Calypso
Ἀτλαντίς ἡ, the daughter of Atlas 575
λεύσσω, to look
ὄρος ὄρους τό, mountain, hill
δοιάζω, consider, think, imagine
Κεραύνια τά, Thunder mountains
βουλή -ῆς ἡ, advice, will; council
φράζω φράσω ἔφρασα πέφρακα πέφρασμαι ἐφράσθην, think about
μήδομαι, to devise
πλόος ὁ, a sailing, voyage
ὄρνυμι, arouse, stir up
ἄελλα ἡ, a stormy wind, whirlwind, eddy
ἀντικρύ, over against, right opposite
ἀναρπάγδην, snatching up violently
φορέω, bear or carry habitually or repeatedly
κραναός, rocky, rugged 580
Ἠλεκτρίς ἡ, Electris island
ἄφνω, unawares, of a sudden
ἰάχω, to cry, shout, shriek
ἀνδρόμεος, of man
ἐνοπή ἡ, crying, shouting
μεσσηγύ, in the middle, between
θέω θεύσομαι --- --- --- ---, to run speed
αὐδήεις, speaking with human voice
γλᾰφῠρός -ά, -όν, hollow
δόρυ δόρατος τό, wood, plank
μέσσος -η -ον, middle, in the middle
στεῖρα ἡ, a ship's keel
Δωδωνίς -ίδος, connected with the Oracle at Dodona
ἁρμόζω ἁρμόσω ἥρμοσα ἥρμοκα ἥρμοσμαι ἡρμόσθην, fit together, adapt
φηγός ὀ, oak
ὀλοός, destroying, destructive, fatal
μεσσηγύ, in the middle, between
δέος -ους τό, fear
εἰσαίω, to listen
φθογγή ἡ, voice 585
ἀλύσκω, to flee from, shun, avoid, forsake
πόρος -ου ὀ, means of passing; way (see notes)
θύελλα ἡ, a furious storm, hurricane
ἀργᾰλέος -α, -ον, grievous, hard to endure
φόνος -ου ὁ, murder, slaughter, corpse
νηλής, pitiless, ruthless
νίζω, to purge, cleanse
Πολυδεύκης ὁ, Polydeuces
εὐχετάομαι, to pray
Κάστωρ ὁ, Castor
ἀνώγω, bid, command
κέλευθος ὁ, a road, way, path, track
πόρω, to furnish, provide 590
δήω, to find, meet with
Ἀργώ ἡ, the ship named Argo
κνέφας τό, darkness
ἀνορούω, to start up, leap up, rush forward
Τυνδαρίδαι οἱ, the sons of Tyndareus
ἀνέχω, raise up
ἀθάνατος -ον, immortal, deathless
εὔχομαι εὔξομαι ηὐξάμην ηὖγμαι, pray, boast
κατηφείη ἡ, dejection, sorrow, shame
Μινύαι οἱ, the Minyans 595
σεύω, drive, rush
ἐπιπρό, right through, onwards
λαῖφος τό, a sail
ῥόος ὁ, a stream, flow, current
Ἠριδανός ὁ, Eridanus
αἰθαλόεις, smoky, sooty
τύπτω, beat, strike, mid. mourn
στέρνον -ου τό, chest
κεραυνός ὁ, a thunderbolt
Φαέθων ὁ, Phaethon
πίπτω πεσοῦμαι ἔπεσον πέπτωκα --- ---, to fall
ἅρμα -ατος τό, chariot
λίμνη -ης ἡ, lake
προχοή ἡ, outpouring
πολυβενθής, very deep
τραῦμα -ατος τό, wound 600
αἴθω, to light up, kindle
ἀνακηκίω, to spout up, gush forth
ἀτμός ὁ, steam, vapor
πτερόν -οῦ τό, wing
κοῦφος, light, nimble
τανύω, stretch, strain, extend
οἰωνός ὁ, bird
ὑπερβάλλω βαλῶ ἔβαλον βέβληκα βέβλημαι ἐβλήθην, to pass over
μεσηγὺς, in the middle, between
φλογμός ὁ, flame, blaze
ἐπιθρώσκω, to leap upon
ποτάομαι, to fly about
ταναός, tall, long, tapering
εἴλω / ἑλίσσω, shut in, closed in
αἴγειρος ἡ, the poplar
μύρω, to flow, run, trickle 605
κινυρός, wailing, plaintive
μέλεος, idle, useless
γόος -ου, ὁ, wailing, lamentation
φᾰεινός, ή, όν, bright, brilliant, radiant
ἤλεκτρον τό, electron
λιβάς ἡ, anything that drops
βλέφαρον τό, mostly in pl. the eyelids
προχέω, to pour forth (see notes)
ἔραζε, to the earth
ψάμαθος ἡ, sand, sea-sand
τερσαίνω, to dry up, wipe up
εῦτε, when, after
κλύζω, to dash over
κελαινός, dark, murky
λίμνη -ης ἡ, lake
ἠιών ἡ, shore, beach
πνοή ἡ, a blowing, blast, breeze
ἄνεμος -ου ὁ, wind, spirit
Ἠριδανός ὁ, Eridanus 610
προκυλίνδομαι, to roll forward
ἀθρόος -α -ον, crowded together, many
κυμαίνω, to swell
Κελτοί, the Kelts
βάξις ἡ, a saying
δάκρυον τό, a tear
Λητοΐδης ὁ, son of Leto
ἐμφέρω, to bear or bring in
δίνη ἡ, a whirlpool, eddy
μυρίος -α -ον, numberless, infinite
χέω χέω ἔχεα κέχυκα κέχυμαι ἐχύθην, to pour
πάροιθε, before, on a previous occasion
ὑπερβόρεοι, the Hyperboreans
γένος -ους τό, birth, offspring; race
εἰσαφικάνω, to come to
οὐρανός -οῦ ὁ, heaven, sky 615
αἰγλήεις, dazzling, radiant, lustrous
ἐνιπή ἡ, a rebuke, reproof
χώομαι, to be angry, wroth, indignant
Λακερεία, ἡ, Lacereia (name)
δῖος -α -ον, divine, godlike
Κορωνίς ἡ, Coronis
τίκτω τέξομαι ἔτεκον τέτοκα --- ---, beget, bear
Ἀμυρος, river Amyrus
κλῄζω, to make famous; mention, call
βρώμη ἡ, food
πόθος ὁ, a longing, yearning, fond desire
ποτός -η -ον, drink
γηθοσύνη, ἡ, joy, delight 620
τρέπω τρέψω ἔτρεψα , turn, direct
στρεύγομαι, to be afflicted
περίβληχρος, to the point of great weakness
βαρύθω, to be weighed down
ὀδμή ἡ, a smell, scent, odour
λευγαλέος, wretched, wearisome
ἄσχετος, ceaseless, without a break
ἐξανίημι, to send forth, let loose
τύφω, to smoke
ἐ πιρροή, stream
γόος -ου, ὁ, wailing, lamentation
εἰσακούω, to hearken
λιγέως, clearly, shrilly 625
μύρομαι, to lament
ἐλαιηρός, oily, of oil
σταγών ἡ, a drop
ἐμφορέω, to be borne about in