: The Argonauts
: The Heroes

So the heralds went out, and cried to all the heroes of the Minuai,

'Who dare come to the adventure of the golden fleece?'

And Hera stirred the hearts of all the princes, and they came from

all their valleys to the yellow sands of Pagasai. And first came

Heracles the mighty, with his lion's skin and club, and behind him

Hylas his young squire, who bore his arrows and his bow; and

Tiphys, the skilful stee
sman; and Butes, the fairest of all men;

and Castor and Polydeuces the twins, the sons of the magic swan;

and Caeneus, the strongest of mortals, whom the Centaurs tried in

vain to kill, and overwhelmed him with trunks of pine-trees, but

even so he would not die; and thither came Zetes and Calais, the

winged sons of the north wind; and Peleus, the father of Achilles,

whose bride was silver-footed Thetis, the goddess of the sea. And

thither came Telamon and Oileus, the fathers of the two Aiantes,

who fought upon the plains of Troy; and Mopsus, the wise

soothsayer, who knew the speech of birds; and Idmon, to whom

Phoebus gave a tongue to prophesy of things to come; and Ancaios,

who could read the stars, and knew all the circles of the heavens;

and Argus, the famed shipbuilder, and many a hero more, in helmets

of brass and gold with tall dyed horse-hair crests, and embroidered

shirts of linen beneath their coats of mail, and greaves of

polished tin to guard their knees in fight; with each man his

shield upon his shoulder, of many a fold of tough bull's hide, and

his sword of tempered bronze in his silver-studded belt; and in his

right hand a pair of lances, of the heavy white ash-staves.

So they came down to Iolcos, and all the city came out to meet

them, and were never tired with looking at their height, and their

beauty, and their gallant bearing and the glitter of their inlaid

arms. And some said, 'Never was such a gathering of the heroes

since the Hellens conquered the land.' But the women sighed over

them, and whispered, 'Alas! they are all going to their death!'

Then they felled the pines on Pelion, and shaped them with the axe,

and Argus taught them to build a galley, the first long ship which

ever sailed the seas. They pierced her for fifty oars--an oar for

each hero of the crew--and pitched her with coal-black pitch, and

painted her bows with vermilion; and they named her Argo after

Argus, and worked at her all day long. And at night Pelias feasted

them like a king, and they slept in his palace-porch.

But Jason went away to the northward, and into the land of Thrace,

till he found Orpheus, the prince of minstrels, where he dwelt in

his cave under Rhodope, among the savage Cicon tribes. And he

asked him, 'Will you leave your mountains, Orpheus, my fellow-

scholar in old times, and cross Strymon once more with me, to sail

with the heroes of the Minuai, and bring home the golden fleece,

and charm for us all men and all monsters with your magic harp and


Then Orpheus sighed, 'Have I not had enough of toil and of weary

wandering, far and wide since I lived in Cheiron's cave, above

Iolcos by the sea? In vain is the skill and the voice which my

goddess mother gave me; in vain have I sung and laboured; in vain I

went down to the dead, and charmed all the kings of Hades, to win

back Eurydice my bride. For I won her, my beloved, and lost her

again the same day, and wandered away in my madness, even to Egypt

and the Libyan sands, and the isles of all the seas, driven on by

the terrible gadfly, while I charmed in vain the hearts of men, and

the savage forest beasts, and the trees, and the lifeless stones,

with my magic harp and song, giving rest, but finding none. But at

last Calliope my mother delivered me, and brought me home in peace;

and I dwell here in the cave alone, among the savage Cicon tribes,

softening their wild hearts with music and the gentle laws of Zeus.

And now I must go out again, to the ends of all the earth, far away

into the misty darkness, to the last wave of the Eastern Sea. But

what is doomed must be, and a friend's demand obeyed; for prayers

are the daughters of Zeus, and who honours them honours him.'

Then Orpheus rose up sighing, and took his harp, and went over

Strymon. And he led Jason to the south-west, up the banks of

Haliacmon and over the spurs of Pindus, to Dodona the town of Zeus,

where it stood by the side of the sacred lake, and the fountain

which breathed out fire, in the darkness of the ancient oakwood,

beneath the mountain of the hundred springs. And he led him to the

holy oak, where the black dove settled in old times, and was

changed into the priestess of Zeus, and gave oracles to all nations

round. And he bade him cut down a bough, and sacrifice to Hera and

to Zeus; and they took the bough and came to Iolcos, and nailed it

to the beak-head of the ship.

And at last the ship was finished, and they tried to launch her

down the beach; but she was too heavy for them to move her, and her

keel sank deep into the sand. Then all the heroes looked at each

other blushing; but Jason spoke, and said, 'Let us ask the magic

bough; perhaps it can help us in our need.'

Then a voice came from the bough, and Jason heard the words it

said, and bade Orpheus play upon the harp, while the heroes waited

round, holding the pine-trunk rollers, to help her toward the sea.

Then Orpheus took his harp, and began his magic song--'How sweet it

is to ride upon the surges, and to leap from wave to wave, while

the wind sings cheerful in the cordage, and the oars flash fast

among the foam! How sweet it is to roam across the ocean, and see

new towns and wondrous lands, and to come home laden with treasure,

and to win undying fame!'

And the good ship Argo heard him, and longed to be away and out at

sea; till she stirred in every timber, and heaved from stem to

stern, and leapt up from the sand upon the rollers, and plunged

onward like a gallant horse; and the heroes fed her path with pine-

trunks, till she rushed into the whispering sea.

Then they stored her well with food and water, and pulled the

ladder up on board, and settled themselves each man to his oar, and

kept time to Orpheus' harp; and away across the bay they rowed

southward, while the people lined the cliffs; and the women wept,

while the men shouted, at the starting of that gallant crew.