In Antiquity:

Almost as soon as the first copies of the poem were made, scholarly comment began: a friend of Apollonius, Chares, wrote about the sources of his poem and began a tradition of expounding the text which continued throughout antiquity. The names of commentators such as Theon of Alexandria (first century BC), Lucillus of Tarrha (mid-first century AD) and Sophocles (second century AD) are mentioned at the end of Book 4 of the mediaeval scholia. There is evidence that ancient texts of the Argonautica were annotated with variant readings, glosses, and marginal notes.

Roughly Forty-nine Apollonian papyri survive. Most date from between the first and the fourth centuries AD and come from Oxyrhynchus, although some take the evidence for texts of Apollonius up to the end of the seventh or eighth century AD,bridging the gap between antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Book 1 has the largest number of fragments by a long way, twenty-four, Book 2 has nine, Book 3 ten and Book 4 six. In antiquity, as now, readers who started long works did not always get to the end, or possibly they skipped to, or had copied out, their favourite passages. Among the texts from Book 1, seven are from the episode of the Lemnian Women and five are concerned with some aspect of the Argonauts’ departure. The fragments from Book 2 include one mention of the appearance of the ghost of Sthenelos, two from the description of the battle between the Argonauts and the Bebryces, and one from the meeting with the sons of Phrixos. The surprisingly small number from Book 3 cover Jason’s encounter with the bulls (3), scenes with Medea and Chalciope (2), the opening of the book on Mt. Olympus (2), but only one extract from the meeting between Jason and Medea. The sequence of episodes from Book 4 includes the murder of Apsyrtus (2), the visit to Phaeacia (1), and the speech of Argos (1). Although the numbers concerned are small, patterns are discernible. For example, perhaps the opening scenes of the poem with its emotional encounter between Jason and his mother, Alcimede, attracted an audience brought up on Euripidean tragedy.

The papyri chiefly discussed in this commentary are P.Oxy. 2694 (containing 2.917–53, 4.317–22, 4.416–61, 468–512), P.Oxy. 2691 (containing 4.348–56, 1128–35), together with several important fragments contained in the latest publication of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vol. LXXXIV, 2019).

Apollonius soon found imitators as well as copyists. The Sicilian Greek Moschus wrote Europa sometime during the second century BC. He shows a ‘pervasive verbal debt to Homer and Apollonius (sometimes both together), covering both vocabulary and specific, contextualised echoes’. At Rome Lucius Accius (c.170–86 BC), in what remains of his play Medea sive Argonautae, seems to show direct knowledge of 4.303–81. The play probably opens with the arrival of the Argo which terrifies a barbarian shepherd who has never seen a ship before, and then alludes to the plot between Jason and Medea to kill Apsyrtus.

After Accius, the poem continued to be much read and imitated among Latin poets. Only a few years after Catullus wrote poem 64, a Latin translation of the Argonautica was produced by Varro of Atax in Gallia Narbonensis, who seems to have made use of some form of the scholia to Apollonius. This is also true of Virgil whose overall debt to his Greek predecessor is considerable.Critics have emphasised the size of the ancient libraries that might have been available to him and the use that he would have made of ancient scholarship on both Homer and Apollonius.

Both Propertius and Ovid deal with different aspects of the Argonautic legend. The latter demonstrates a continuing fascination with the character of Medea, constantly adapting and building on the portraits drawn by Euripides and Apollonius. While carrying ‘out radical surgery on the plot as he found it’, he, nonetheless, shows deep knowledge of the Argonautica as he produces his own interpretation. Both Seneca and his nephew Lucan wrote tragedies entitled Medea, with the latter showing direct knowledge of Apollonius in his epic poem Bellum Civile. While Apollonian influences have been perceived on Statius’ Thebaid (c. 92 AD) it is with Valerius Flaccus that we have further evidence of engagement with Apollonius’ text and with scholarship connected with it.

After Statius, the authors who show knowledge of Apollonius are again Greek: Dionysius of Alexandria (c. 130 AD), two Oppians (AD 177–80 / 212–17), Quintus Smyrnaeus (3rd. century AD), Triphiodorus (end of 3rd. century AD), Nonnus (5th. century) and the author of the Orphic Argonautica (second half of the fifth century). About AD 140 Apollonius of Chalcedon, the Stoic philosopher was on his way to Rome to take up the post of tutor to the future emperor Marcus, accompanied by a large band of pupils. When Demonax, the Cynic, caught sight of him, he remarked: “Here comes Apollonius and his Argonauts,” Bearing in mind, the Stoic’s reputation for acquiring wealth, the joke seems to be comparing his trip to Rome, with Jason’s voyage to gain the Golden Fleece. Lucian’s story, therefore, suggests that the Argonautica was well-known in this period.

Some of these authors, mentioned above, imitated A. with direct reference to Book 4: Quintus Smyrnaeus alludes to Medea’s flight when describing Oinone’s secret departure during the night. Triphiodorus echoes A. in some thirty passages, while Nonnus’ imitations are of a more varied and subtle nature. The author of the late Orphic Argonautica is heavily indebted to his Alexandrian predecessor.

In Modern Times:




Description, Edition and/or translation


John Garland


Due lotrices


Maffeo Vegio, Vellus Aureum


Putnam, M. C. J. (ed.) (2004), Maffeo Vegio: Short Epics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lefèvre or Caxton/ Lefèvre

Raoul Lefèvre, History of Jason


Munro, J. (1913), The History of Jason, London: Kegan Paul. Translated by William Caxton.


Cavalli Giasone


Cavalli, Il Giasone (2012), [opera DVD] Cond. Federico Maria Sardelli, Dir. Mariame Clément. Austria: Dynamic SRL.


Franz Grillparzer, The Golden Fleece


Grillparzer, F. (1995), Das goldene Vliess, Stuttgart: Reclam.

Solomon, S. (1969), Franz Grillparzer: Plays on Classic Themes, New York: Random House.


Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales


Hawthorne, N. (1950), Tanglewood Tales,

London: Dent.


Charles Kingsley, The Heroes


Kingsley, C. (1912), The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children, London: Riccardi Press.



William Morris, The Life and Death of Jason


Morris, W. (n.d.) ‘The Life and Death of Jason’,in The William Morris Archive, ed. Florence Boos. Available online: (accessed 17th August 2019). This text collates the draft, 1867, 1882 and 1895 editions.


Padraig Colum, The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles


Colum, P. (1921), The Golden Fleece and the Heroes who Lived Before Achilles, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Golden FleeceGF

Robert Graves, The Golden Fleece


Graves, R. (1944), The Golden Fleece, London: Hutchinson.


Graves’s Greek Myths

Robert Graves, The Greek Myths


Graves, R. (1955), The Greek Myths, Vol. 2, London: Penguin.


Lancelyn Green

Roger Lancelyn Green, Tales of the Greek Heroes


Lancelyn Green, R. (1958), Tales of the Greek Heroes, London: Penguin.



Le Fatiche di Ercole

Le Fatiche di Ercole


Le Fatiche di Ercole (1958), [Film] Dir. Pietro Francisci, Italy: Lux Film.

I Giganti della Tessaglia

I Giganti della Tessaglia


I Giganti della Tessaglia (1960), [Film] Dir. Riccardo Freda, Italy and France: Alexandra and Lyre.


Henry Treece, Jason


Treece, H. (1961), Jason, London: Sphere.



Ray Harryhausen, Jason and the Argonauts


Jason and the Argonauts (1963), [Film] Dir. Don Chaffey, USA: Columbia Pictures.


Ian Seraillier, The Clashing Rocks


Seraillier, I. (1963), The Clashing Rocks, Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Pier Paolo Pasolini, Medea


Medea (1969), [Film] Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy: San Marco.


John Gardner, Jason and Medeia


Gardner, J. (1973), Jason and Medeia, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.



C. J. Naden, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Naden, C. J. (1981), Jason and the Golden Fleece, Mahwah, NJ: Troll Associates. Illustrated by Robert Baxter.


Claudia Zeff, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Zeff, C. ([1982] 2003), Jason and the Golden Fleece, London: Usborne. Illustrated by Stephen Cartwright.


Tim Severin, The Jason Voyage


Severin, T. (1985), The Jason Voyage: The Quest for the Golden Fleece, London: Hutchinson.



Bernard Evslin, Jason and the Argonauts


Evslin, B. (1986), Jason and the Argonauts, New York: Morrow. Illustrated by Bert Dodson.


Robert Sawyer, Golden Fleece


Sawyer, R. ([1990] 2016), Golden Fleece, Mississauga:



Sofia Zarabouka, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Zarabouka, S. ([1993] 2004), Jason and the Golden Fleece, Los Angeles: Getty.


Felicity Brooks, Jason and the Argonauts


Brooks, F. ([1995] 1997), Jason and the Argonauts, London: Usborne. Illustrated by Graham Humphreys.


Christa Wolf, Medea

1998 [1996]

Wolf, C. ([1996] 1998), Medea, London: Virago. Trans. John Cullen.


Young Hercules

Young Hercules(TV series)


Young Hercules (1998-1999), [TV series] Creators: Andrew Dettmann, Rob Tapert, Daniel Truly. USA, NZ: MCA Television, Renaissance Pictures.

2000 mini-series

Jason and the Argonauts


Jason and the Argonauts (2000), [Mini-series] Dir. Nick Willing. USA: Hallmark.


Ken Catran, Voyage with Jason


Catran, K. (2000), Voyage with Jason, Melbourne: Lothian.


Riordan/ Cockroft

James Riordan, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Riordan, J. and Cockcroft, J. (2003), Jason and the Golden Fleece, London: Frances Lincoln. Text by Riordan and illustrations by Cockcroft.

Bradman/ Ross

Tony Bradman, Jason and the Voyage to the Edge of the World


Bradman, T. and Ross, T. (2004), Jason and the Voyage to the Edge of the World, Orchard Books: London. Text by Bradman and illustrations by Ross.



Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris, Jason and the Gorgon’s Blood


Yolen, J. and Harris, R. J. (2004), Jason and the Gorgon's Blood, New York: HarperCollins.

Malam/ Antram

John Malam, Jason and the Argonauts


Malam, J. and Antram, D. (2005), Jason and the Argonauts, Brighton: Book House.



Colston West, Jason


West, C. (2005), Jason!, Bristol: Eagle House Press.


Michael Wood, In Search of Myths and Heroes


Wood, M. (2005), In Search of Myths and Heroes, London: BBC Books. Book to accompany TV series: In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005), [TV Mini-series] BBC2, last broadcast 9 May 2007.


Robert Holdstock, The Merlin Codex


Holdstock, R. (2001), Celtika, London: Simon and Schuster.

Holdstock, R. (2002), The Iron Grail, London: Simon and Schuster.

Holdstock, R. (2006), The Broken Kings, London: Gollancz.

Rise of the Argonauts

Rise of the Argonauts


Rise of the Argonauts (2007), [Computer game] UK: Codemasters.


Saviour Pirotta, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Pirotta, S. and Lewis, J. (2008), First Greek Myths: Jason and the Golden Fleece, London: Orchard Books. Text by Saviour Pirotta. Illustrations by Jan Lewis.

Yomtov/ Sandoval

Nel Yomtov and Gerardo Sandoval, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Yomtov, N. and Sandoval, G. (2009), [Comic] Jason and the Golden Fleece, Minneapolis: Stone Arch Books. Text: Yomtov; art: Sandoval.


Whitehead/ Banerjee

Dan Whitehead and Sankha Banerjee, Jason and the Argonauts


Whitehead, D. and Banerjee, S. (2011), [Comic] Jason and the Argonauts, New Delhi: Campfire. Text: Whitehead; art: Banerjee.


Gunderson/ Takvorian

Jessica Gunderson and Nadine Takvorian, Jason and the Argonauts


Gunderson, J. and Takvorian, N. (2012), Jason and the Argonauts, London: Raintree. Text: Gunderson; art: Takvorian.



Atlantis TV series


Atlantis (2013-2015), [TV series] Creators: Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy, Howard Overman. UK: Urban Myth Films, BBC Cymru Wales, BBC America.

Jeffrey/ Verma

Gary Jeffrey and Dheeraj Verma, Jason and the Argonauts


Jeffrey, G. and Verma, D. (2013), [Comic] Jason and the Argonauts, New York: Gareth Stevens Publishing. Text: Jeffrey, art: Verma.



Mary Zimmerman, Argonautika


Zimmerman, M. (2013), Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, [Script] Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Argonautsboard game

Argonauts board game


Argonauts (2014), [Board game] Creators: Lefteris Iroglidis, Konstantinos Iovis and Ioannis Stammatis. Athens: AF Games.


Simon Spence, Jason and the Golden Fleece


Spence, S. (2014), Jason and the Golden Fleece, Itunes: Early Myth.


Hoena/ Estudio Haus

Blake Hoena and Estudio Haus, Jason and the Argonauts


Hoena, B. and Estudio Haus (2015), [Comic] Jason and the Argonauts, Minnesota: Capstone. Text: Hoena; art: Estudio Haus.



Robert Byrd, Jason and the Argonauts


Byrd, R. (2016), Jason and the Argonauts, New York: Dial Books.



Kevin Kneupper, Argonauts


Kneupper, K. (2016), Argonauts, Createspace: Kevin Kneupper.



Emily Hauser, For the Winner


Hauser, E. ([2017] 2018), For the Winner, London: Black Swan.

Hoena/ Takvorian

Blake Hoena, Nadine Takvorian, James Nathan, Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece


Hoena, B., Takvorian, N. and Nathan, J. (2017), [Choose your own adventure book] Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece, Minnesota: Capstone. Text: Hoena; illustrations: Takvorian and Nathan.