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[22]

Being rid of the Harpies, Phineus revealed to the Argonauts the course of their voyage, and advised them about the Clashing Rocks1 in the sea. These were huge cliffs, which, dashed together by the force of the winds, closed the sea passage. Thick was the mist that swept over them, and loud the crash, and it was impossible for even the birds to pass between them. So he told them to let fly a dove between the rocks, and, if they saw it pass safe through, to thread the narrows with an easy mind, but if they saw it perish, then not to force a passage. When they heard that, they put to sea, and on nearing the rocks let fly a dove from the prow, and as she flew the clash of the rocks nipped off the tip of her tail. So, waiting till the rocks had recoiled, with hard rowing and the help of Hera, they passed through, the extremity of the ship's ornamented poop being shorn away right round. Henceforth the Clashing Rocks stood still; for it was fated that, so soon as a ship had made the passage, they should come to rest completely.


1 The Clashing Rocks are the islands which the Greeks called Symplegades. Another name for them was the Wandering Rocks (Planctae) or the Blue Rocks (Cyaneae). See Hdt. 4.85; Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.317ff.; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. iv.561ff.; Pliny, Nat. Hist. vi.32; Merry on Hom. Od. xii.61; Frazer's Appendix to Apollodorus, “The clashing Rocks.” As to the passage of the Argo between them, see Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.317ff., 549-610; Orphica, Argonautica 683-714; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. iv.561-702; Hyginus, Fab. 19. According to the author of the Orphica, the bird which the Argonauts, or rather Athena, let fly between the Clashing Rocks was not a dove but a heron (ἐρωδιός. )The heron was specially associated with Athena. See D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birds, p. 58.

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