The Life and Death of Jason

Notes, Book XI

XI.4 the deep green stream: for this northern river, see “The Voyage of the Argonauts,” by Dr. Peter Wright (Supplementary Materials), and Maps 6a and 6b.

XI.11 scouring: foraging for food.

XI.13 quaggy brooks: marshy creeks

XI.22 did they . . . appease: e. g., offered sacrifices

XI.46 Euboea: Euboea was a large Aegean island, also called Long Island (Makris) since it stretched from the Gulf of Pagasae to Andros. See Map 4, H-K, 6-9.

XI.113 Lynceus: In mythology, Lynceus was an Argonaut and one of those who joined the hunt for the Calydonian boar. A son of Aphareus and Arene of Messene, he was alleged to be so sharpsighted that he could see through walls, trees, and underground, and to distinguish objects more than nine miles away. The brothers Lynceus and Idas were probably betrothed to their uncle Leucippus's daughters Phoebe and Hilaeria, but those sisters were abducted (and possibly wedded) by Castor and Pollux. The rival pairs of brothers later fought to the death: on one version to avenge the abduction, in another in a quarrel over raided cattle. Lynceus, Idas and Castor were killed.

XI.137 Atalanta: daughter of Iasius, from Arcadia, a maiden huntress.

She is not necessarily to be identified with the Boeotian Atalanta, daughter of Schoeneus, who was exposed by her father as an infant and raised by hunters. This Atalanta took part in the hunt of the Calydonian boar, to which she gave the first wound with her arrows. Her father announced she would marry anyone able to run faster than she in a race. Atalanta's swiftness deterred most suitors, but Melanion or Hippomenes won her by throwing golden apples given to him by Aphrodite in front of her, and when she stooped to retrieve them he surged ahead, and they were married. This tale forms the basis for Morris's "Atalanta's Race," the first classical tale in The Earthly Paradise.

In some versions of the quest for the Golden Fleece, Atalanta sailed with the Argonauts as the only female among them, suffered injury in the battle at Colchis, and was healed by Medea. Other versions claim that Jason would not allow a woman on the ship; Morris chooses to include her.

XI.138 Arcas: in mythology, a son of Jupiter and Callisto, after whom Arcadia was named, and who taught its inhabitants the skills of agriculture and spinning wool. Juno, enraged at her husband's seduction/rape of Callisto, turned the latter into a bear, whom Arcas killed by accident. Zeus took pity on the pair and placed them in the constellations Ursa Major (Callisto) and Ursa Minor (Arcas) respectively.

XI.138 Theseus: legendary son of Aegeus or Poseidon, i.e., of a sea-god, and national hero of Athens. Accounts of Hercules seem to have influenced the legends associated with Theseus (e. g., encounters with brigands and monsters; a campaign against the Amazons), and it is not surprising that he is made Hercules’ friend and contemporary.

XI.142 Asclepius: i.e. Aesculapius, legendary son of Apollo and Coronis, demi-god of medicine and physician to the Argonauts. Angered at Coronis's love for Ischys, son of Elatus, Apollo arranged her death but rescued their son, whom he gave to the centaur Chiron to raise. Chiron taught Asclepius the art of surgery and the use of drugs, incantations and love potions. According to legend, Asclepius was married to Epione, and the couple had six daughters, Hygieia, Meditrina, Panacea, Aceso, Iaso, and Aglaea, and three sons, Machaon, Telesphoros, and Podalirius. He also fathered a son, Aratus, with Aristodama.

XI.163 stripling: youth, adolescent boy

XI.169 Argus:a renowned and skilled shipwright; in other versions he joins the Argo on its way through the Black Sea.

XI.182 adze: An axlike tool with a curved blade at right angles to the handle, used for shaping wood.

XI.200 Messenger: here, Iris.

XI.213 hawsers: cables or ropes used for mooring or hawling a ship.

XI.224 Argus: see note for XI.169.

XI.244 fells: skins

XI.254 bee-thief: bear

XI.261 landslip: a slide of a large amount of dirt or rock down a mountain or slope.

XI.270 Thermodon: The Thermodon river (now the Terme River in central northern Turkey) issued into the Black Sea, near Thermiskyra, the legendary capital of the Amazons. The major neighboring rivers were the Halys of Paphlagonia in the west, and the Phasis of Colchis to the east. See Map 5, K4 (west of Kerasous).

XI.320 unseamed: smooth, unlined.

XI.320 wain: wooden farm cart.

XI.335 yew-trees: a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and soutwest Asia, it is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree with thin, scaly brown bark and lanceolate, flat, dark green leaves arranged spirally on the stem in two flat rows on either side. Its leaves are highly poisonous and its soft, bright red berry-like seeds are poisonous and bitter. Its extreme longevity (2,000 years or longer) has prompted its association with death and/or survival; during the late middle ages its wood was used for longbows and it is often found in churchyards and for ornamental gardens.

XI.379 the Thracian: i. e., Orpheus

XI.386 carl: rough fellow

XI.390 Messenian: i. e., Lynceus.

XI.402 car: conveyance; here, the wheeled platform

XI.432 frayed: harassed, harried, attacked.

XI.437 dun: dark

XI.453 Arcas’ arrows: in mythology, Arcas was a son of Jupiter and Callisto, after whom Arcadia was named, and who taught its inhabitants the skills of agriculture and spinning wool. Juno, enraged at her husband's seduction/rape of Callisto, turned the latter into a bear, whom Arcas nearly killed by accident. Zeus took pity on the pair and placed them in the constellations Ursa Major (Callisto) and Ursa Minor (Arcas) respectively.

XI.462 equal clime: golden age of the legendary reign of Saturn, celebrated as a time of social equality and harmony. The Roman Saturnalia, a winter solstice holiday celebrated from December 17th-23rd, was a period during which war could not be declared, slaves and masters ate together, gifts were exchanged, and merrymaking and feasting prevailed.    

XI.463-64 told / Unwritten half-forgotten tales of old: compare the structure of The Earthly Paradise.