from The Argonautica

06-13 Apollonius
Apollonius of Rhodes
c. 300 B.C.


First in my song shalt thou be, O Phœbus, the song that I sing
Of the heroes of old, who sped, at the hest of Pelias the king,
When down through the gorge of the Pontus-sea, through the Crags Dark-blue,
On the Quest of the Fleece of Gold the strong-ribbed Argo flew.
For an oracle came unto Pelias, how that in days to be
A terrible doom should be dealt him of him whom his eyes should see
From the field coming in, with the one foot only sandal-shod.
Nor long thereafter did Jason fulfil the word of the God:
For in wading the rush of Amaurus swollen with winter-tide rain
One sandal plucked he forth of the mire, but the one was he fain
To leave in the depths, for the swirl of the waters to sweep to the main.
Straightway to the presence of Pelias he came, and his hap was to light
On a banquet, the which unto Father Poseidon the king had dight,
And the rest of the Gods, but Pelasgian Hêrê he heeded not.
And the king beheld him, and straightway laid for his life the plot,
And devised for him toil of a troublous voyage, that lost in the sea,
Or lost amid alien men his home-return might be.
Of the ship and her fashioning, bards of the olden time have told
How Argus wrought, how Athênê made him cunning-souled.
But now be it mine the lineage and names of her heroes to say,
And to tell of the long sea-paths whereover they needs must stray,
And the deeds that they wrought:—may the Muses vouchsafe to inspire the lay.


Translation by Arthur S. Way

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