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[23]

The Argonauts now arrived among the Mariandynians, and there King Lycus received them kindly.1 There died Idmon the seer of a wound inflicted by a boar;2 and there too died Tiphys, and Ancaeus undertook to steer the ship.3

And having sailed past the Thermodon and the Caucasus they came to the river Phasis, which is in the Colchian land.4 When the ship was brought into port, Jason repaired to Aeetes, and setting forth the charge laid on him by Pelias invited him to give him the fleece. The other promised to give it if single-handed he would yoke the brazen-footed bulls. These were two wild bulls that he had, of enormous size, a gift of Hephaestus; they had brazen feet and puffed fire from their mouths. These creatures Aeetes ordered him to yoke and to sow dragon's teeth; for he had got from Athena half of the dragon's teeth which Cadmus sowed in Thebes.5 While Jason puzzled how he could yoke the bulls, Medea conceived a passion for him; now she was a witch, daughter of Aeetes and Idyia, daughter of Ocean. And fearing lest he might be destroyed by the bulls, she, keeping the thing from her father, promised to help him to yoke the bulls and to deliver to him the fleece, if he would swear to have her to wife and would take her with him on the voyage to Greece. When Jason swore to do so, she gave him a drug with which she bade him anoint his shield, spear, and body when he was about to yoke the bulls; for she said that, anointed with it, he could for a single day be harmed neither by fire nor by iron. And she signified to him that, when the teeth were sown, armed men would spring up from the ground against him; and when he saw a knot of them he was to throw stones into their midst from a distance, and when they fought each other about that, he was taken to kill them.6 On hearing that, Jason anointed himself with the drug,7 and being come to the grove of the temple he sought the bulls, and though they charged him with a flame of fire, he yoked them.8 And when he had sowed the teeth, there rose armed men from the ground; and where he saw several together, he pelted them unseen with stones, and when they fought each other he drew near and slew them.9 But though the bulls were yoked, Aeetes did not give the fleece; for he wished to burn down the Argo and kill the crew. But before he could do so, Medea brought Jason by night to the fleece, and having lulled to sleep by her drugs the dragon that guarded it, she possessed herself of the fleece and in Jason's company came to the Argo.10 She was attended, too, by her brother Apsyrtus.11 And with them the Argonauts put to sea by night.


1 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.720ff.; Orphica, Argonautica 715ff.; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. iv.733ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 18.

2 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.815ff.; Orphica, Argonautica 725ff.; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. v.1ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 14, 18. According to Apollonius, the barrow of Idmon was surmounted by a wild olive tree, which the Nisaeans were commanded by Apollo to worship as the guardian of the city.

3 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.851-898; Orphica, Argonautica 729ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 890; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. v.13ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 14, 18.

4 As to Jason in Colchis, and his winning of the Golden Fleece, see Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.1260ff., iii.1ff., iv.1-240; Diod. 4.48.1-5; Valerius Flaccus, Argon. v.177-viii.139; Ov. Met. 7.1-158. The adventures of Jason in Colchis were the subject of a play by Sophocles called The Colchian Women. See The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. ii. pp. 15ff.; TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 204ff.

5 Compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.401ff., 1176ff.

6 As to the yoking of the brazen-footed bulls, compare Pind. P. 4.224ff.; Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.1026ff. As to the drug with which Jason was to anoint himself, see further Pind. P. 4.221ff.; Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.844ff. It was extracted from a plant with a saffron-coloured flower, which was said to grow on the Caucasus from the blood of Prometheus. Compare Valerius Flaccus, Argon. vii.355ff.; Pseudo-Plutarch, De Fluviis v.4.

7 Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.1246ff.

8 Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii. 1278ff.

9 Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii. 1320-1398.

10 Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.123-182.

11 Here Apollodorus departs from the version of Apollonius Rhodius, according to whom Apsyrtus, left behind by Jason and Medea, pursued them with a band of Colchians, and, overtaking them, was treacherously slain by Jason, with the connivance of Medea, in an island of the Danube. See Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.224ff., 30Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.223, 228). The version of Apollonius is followed by Hyginus, Fab. 23 and the Orphic poet (Ap. Rhod., Argon., 1027ff.). According to Sophocles, in his play The Colchian Women, Apsyrtus was murdered in the palace of Aeetes (Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.228); and this account seems to have been accepted by Eur. Med. 1334. Apollodorus's version of the murder of Apsyrtus is repeated verbally by Zenobius, Cent. iv.92, but as usual without acknowledgment.

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