previous next

[21]

Thence they put to sea and came to land at Salmydessus in Thrace, where dwelt Phineus, a seer who had lost the sight of both eyes.1 Some say he was a son of Agenor,2 but others that he was a son of Poseidon, and he is variously alleged to have been blinded by the gods for foretelling men the future; or by Boreas and the Argonauts because he blinded his own sons at the instigation of their stepmother;3 or by Poseidon, because he revealed to the children of Phrixus how they could sail from Colchis to Greece. The gods also sent the Harpies to him. These were winged female creatures, and when a table was laid for Phineus, they flew down from the sky and snatched up most of the victuals, and what little they left stank so that nobody could touch it. When the Argonauts would have consulted him about the voyage, he said that he would advise them about it if they would rid him of the Harpies. So the Argonauts laid a table of viands beside him, and the Harpies with a shriek suddenly pounced down and snatched away the food. When Zetes and Calais, the sons of Boreas, saw that, they drew their swords and, being winged, pursued them through the air. Now it was fated that the Harpies should perish by the sons of Boreas, and that the sons of Boreas should die when they could not catch up a fugitive. So the Harpies were pursued and one of them fell into the river Tigres in Peloponnese, the river that is now called Harpys after her; some call her Nicothoe, but others Aellopus. But the other, named Ocypete or, according to others, Ocythoe ( but Hesiod calls her Ocypode)4 fled by the Propontis till she came to the Echinadian Islands, which are now called Strophades after her; for when she came to them she turned (estraphe) and being at the shore fell for very weariness with her pursuer. But Apollonius in the Argonautica says that the Harpies were pursued to the Strophades Islands and suffered no harm, having sworn an oath that they would wrong Phineus no more.5


1 As to Phineus and the Harpies, see Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.176ff., with the Scholiast on 177, 178, 181; Scholiast on Hom. Od. xii.69; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. iv.422ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 19; Serv. Verg. A. 3.209; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 9ff., 124 (First Vatican Mythographer 27; Second Vatican Mythographer 142). Aeschylus and Sophocles composed tragedies on the subject of Phineus. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 83, 284ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. ii. pp. 311ff. The classical description of the Harpies is that of Verg. A. 3.225ff.). Compare Hes. Th. 265-269ff. In his account of the visit of the Argonauts to Phineus, the rationalistic Diod. 4.43ff. omits all mention of the Harpies.

2 So Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.237, 240 and Hyginus, Fab. 19.

3 See below, Apollod. 3.15.3 with note.

4 Hes. Th. 267 calls her Ocypete.

5 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.284-298, who says that previously the islands were called the Floating Isles (Plotai).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Thrace (Greece) (1)
Peloponnesus (Greece) (1)
Greece (Greece) (1)
Colchis (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (5):
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: