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the last war of Troy; Laërtes the father of Ulysses, Atalanta a warlike virgin, Idas and Lynceus the sons of Aphareus, who afterwards in fight with Castor and Pollux slew
Castor and wounded Pollux, but were slain themselves; - Lynceus by Pollux, Idas by Jupiter with lightning.
These and many other went with Jason in the ship Argo; in whose prow was a table of the beech of Dodona, which could speak. They arrived first at Lemnos; the women of which island having slain all the males, purposing to lead an Amazonian life, were nevertheless contented to take their pleasure of the Argonauts. Hence they came to the country about Cyzicus, where dwelt a people called Doliones, over whom then reigned one Cyzicus, who entertained them friendly; but it so fell out, that loosing thence by night, they were driven by contrary winds back into his port, neither knowing that it was the same haven, nor being known by the Doliones to be the same men; but rather taken for some of their bordering enemies, by which means they fell to blows, insomuch that the Argonauts slew the most part of the Doliones, together with their king Cyzicus; which when by daylight they perceived, with many tears they solemnized his funeral. Then departed they again, and arrived shortly in Mysia, where they left Hercules, and Polyphemus, the son of Elates, who went to seek Hylas the darling of Hercules, that was ravished by the nymphs.
Polyphemus built a town in Mysia, called Cios, wherein he reigned. Hercules returned to Argos: from Mysia the Argonauts sailed into Bithynia, which then was peopled by the Bebryces, the ancient inhabitants of the country, over whom Amycus, the son of Neptune, was then king. He being a strong man, compelled all strangers to fight with him at whirlbats, in which kind of fight he had slain many, and was now himself slain by Pollux. The Bebryces, in revenge of his death, flew all upon Pollux ; but his companions rescued him, with great slaughter of the people. They sailed from hence to Salmydessus, a town in Thrace, (perhaps of Thracia Adriatica,) wherein Phineus a soothsayer dwelt, who was blind, and vexed with the harpies. The harpies were said to be a kind of birds, which had the faces of women, and foul long claws, very filthy creatures, which when the table was furnished for Phineus came flying in, and devouring or carrying away the greater part of the victuals, did so defile the rest, that they could not be endured. When therefore the Argonauts craved his advice and direction for their voyage, You shall do well, quoth he, first of all to deliver me from the harpies, and then afterwards to ask my counsel. Whereupon they caused the table to be covered, and meat set on; which was no sooner set down, than that presently in came the harpies, and played their accustomed pranks; when Zetes and Calais, the winged young men, saw this, they drew their swords, and pursued them through the air; some say, that both the harpies and the young men died of weariness in the flight and pursuit. But Apollonius saith, that the harpies did covenant with the youths to do no more harm to Phineus, and were thereupon dismissed. For this good turn Phineus gave them informations of the way, and advertised them withal of the dangerous rocks, called Symplegades, which by force of winds running together did shut up the passage; wherefore he willed them to put a pigeon before them into the passage, and if that passed safe, then to adventure after her; if not, then by no means to hazard themselves in vain. They did so, and perceiving that the pigeon had only lost a piece of her tail, they observed the next opening of the rocks, and then rowing with all their might passed through safe, only the end of the poop was bruised. - From thenceforward (as the tale goeth)-the Symplegades have stood still ; for the gods, say they, had decreed, that after the passage of a ship they should be fixed. Thence the Argonauts came to the Mariandyni, a people inhabiting about the mouth of the river Parthenius, where Lycus the king entertained them courteously. Here Idmon, a soothsayer of their company, was slain by a wild boar; also here Typhis died, and Ancæus undertook to steer the ship. So they passed by the river Thermodon and mount Caucasus, and came to the river Phasis, which runs through the land of
Colchos. When they were entered the haven, Jason went to Æetes the king of Colchos, and told him the commandment of Pelias, and cause of his coming; desiring him to deliver the golden fleece, which Æetes, as the fable goeth, promised to do, if he alone would yoke together two brasen-hoofed bulls, and ploughing the ground with them sow dragon's teeth, which Minerva had given to him, being part of those which Cadmus did sow at Thebes. These bulls were great and fierce, and breathed out fire: Vulcan had given them to Æetes.
Whilst Jason was in a great perplexity about this task, Medea, the daughter of Æetes, fell into a most vehement love of him, so far forth, that being excellent in magic, she came privily to him, promising her help, if he would assure her of his marriage. To this Jason agreed, and confirmed his promise by oath. Then gave she to him a medicine, wherewith she bade him to anoint both his body and his armour, which would preserve him from their violence ; further she told him, that armed men would arise out from the ground, from the teeth which he should sow, and set upon him. To remedy which inconvenience, she bade him throw stones amongst them as soon as they came up thick, whereupon they would fall together to blows, in such wise that he might easily slay them. Jason followed her counsel; whereto when the event had answered, he again demanded the fleece. But Æetes was so far from approving such his desire, that he devised how to destroy the Argonauts, and burn their ship; which Medea perceiving, went to Jason, and brought him by night to the fleece, which hung upon an oak in the grove of Mars, where they say it was kept by a dragon that never slept. This dragon was by the magic of Medea cast into a sleep; so taking away the golden fleece, she went with Jason into the ship Argo, having with her her brother Absyrtus.
Æetes understanding the practices of Medea, provided to pursue the ship; whom when Medea perceived to be at hand, she slew her brother, and cutting him in pieces, she scattered his limbs in divers places; of which Æetes finding some, was fain to seek out the rest, and suffer his daughter to pass : the parts of his son he buried in a place which thereupon he called Tomi ; the Greek word signifieth division. Afterwards he sent many of his subjects to seek the ship Argo, threatening that if they brought not back Medea, they should suffer in her stead. In the mean while the Argonauts were driven about the seas, and were come to the riyer Eridanus, which is Po in Italy.
Jupiter offended with the slaughter of Absyrtus vexed them with a great tempest, and carried them they knew not whither. When they came to the islands Absyrtides, there the ship Argo (that there might want no incredible thing in this fable) spake to them, and said, that the anger of Jupiter should not cease till they came to Ausonia, and were cleansed by Circe from the murder of Absyrtus. Now they thereupon sailing between the coasts of Libya and Gallia, and passing through the sea of Sardinia, and along the coast of Hetruria, came to the isle of Æea, wherein Circe dwelt, who cleansed them. Thence they sailed by the coast of the Sirens, who sang to allure them into danger; but Orpheus on the other side sang so well, that he stayed them. Only Butes swam out unto them, whom Venus ravished, and carried to Lilybæum in Sicily to dwell.
Having passed the Sirens, they came between Scylla and Charybdis, and the straggling rocks which seemed to cast out great store of flames and smoke. But Thetis and the Nereides conveyed them safe through at the appointment of Juno. So they coasted Sicily, where the beeves of the sun were, and touched at Corcyra, the island of the Phæaces, where king Alcinous reigned. Meanwhile the men of Colchos, that had been sent by Æetes in quest of the ship Argo, hearing no news of it, and fearing his anger if they fulfilled not his will, betook themselves to new habitations ; some of them dwelt in the mountains of Corcyra, others in the islands Absyrtides, and some coming to the Phæaces, there found the ship Argo, and demanded Medea of Alcinous; whereto Alcinous made answer, that if she were not Jason's wife they should have her, but if she were already married, he would not take her from her husband. Arete, the wife of Alcinous, hearing this, married them: wherefore they of Colchos not daring to return home, stayed with the Phæaces; so the Argonauts departed thence, and after a while came to Crete. In this island Minos reigned, who had a man of brass given to him (as some of the fablers say) by Vulcan. This man had one vein in his body reaching from the neck to the heel, the end whereof was closed up with a brasen nail; his name was Talus; his custom was to run thrice a day about the island for the defence of it. When he saw the ship Argo pass by, he threw stones at it; but Medea with her magic destroyed him. Some say, that she slew him by potions, which made him mad; others, that promising to make him immortal, she drew out the nail that stopped his vein, by which means all his blood ran out, and he died; others there are, that say he was slain by Pæan, who wounded him with an arrow in the heel. From hence the Argonauts sailed to Ægina, where they were fain to fight for fresh water. And lastly, from Ægina they sailed by Euboea and Locris home to Iolchos, where they arrived, having spent four whole months in the expedition.
Some there are, that by this journey of Jason understand the mystery of the philosopher's stone, called the golden fleece; to which also other superfine chymists draw the twelve labours of Hercules. Suidas thinks, that by the golden fleece was meant a book of parchment, which is of sheep's skin, and therefore called golden, because it was taught therein how other metals might be transmuted. Others would signify by Jason, wisdom and moderation, which overcometh all perils; but that which is most probable is the opinion of Dercilus, that the story of such a passage was true, and that Jason with the rest went indeed to rob Colchos, to which they might arrive by boat. For not far from Caucasus there are certain steep falling torrents, which wash down many grains of gold, as in many other parts of the world, and the people there inhabiting use to set many fleeces of wool in those descents of waters,