The Life and Death of Jason

Notes, Book XV:

XV.title Medea: in mythology granddaughter of the sun-god Helios and daughter of Aeëtes, king of Colchian Aia and his wife Eidyia; by tradition intelligent, crafty and learned in magical lore.

XV.title Iolchos: city from which the Argonauts set forth, a city of Thessalian Magnesia, situated on the northern shore of the Bay of Volo, where it was sheltered by Mt. Pelion, and center from which Mycenaean influence spread over most of Thessaly. The surrounding region contained pastureland and meadows suitable for grazing. See Map 4, H5.

XV.1 Minyae: in mythology, a name given to the inhabitants of Orchomenos, in Boeotia, from Minyas, legendary king of the country. Of the two great centers of legends, Thebes, with its Cadmean population, was a military stronghold, and Orchomenos a commercial center; here, the Argonauts, led by Jason of Iolchos. See Map 1.

XV.2 Thessaly: a district of northern Greece which consists of two large and level plains separated by hilly country. See Map 1, EF3, E2.

XV.13 Euboea: 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.

XV.23 Phoenician: Phœnicia or Phœnice was a country at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, with leading cities Sidon and Tyre. See Map 5, K7,8.

Phoenicia was an imperial and seafaring power known for its commercial prominence, development of the arts of writing and navigation, and fine craft and cloth wares.

XV.32 Erginus: here, an Argonaut from Miletus and legendary son of Neptune.

XV.47 Tauric: Tauris was the name of the Crimea in Antiquity. According to legend, Artemis rescued Iphigeneia from serving as a human sacrifice as her father Agamemnon intended, and carried her off to Tauris to serve in her temple. Here, she was forced by the Taurian king Thoas to perform human sacrifices on any foreigners who came ashore, as recounted in Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris. See Map 5, IJ2/3.

XV.47 Artemis: an important Olympian deity, the daughter of Zeus and Leto, Apollo's elder twin sister, a virgin and a huntress, who presided over crucial aspects of life. She was the patroness of women's transitions, most crucially their transformation from parthenos (virgin) to mature woman, childbirth and the rearing of children. She was also a patroness of selected male activities, including the rites of transition to adulthood and hunting.

She was often believed to have three incarnations: Selene/Luna, the moon goddess in the heavens; Artemis/Diana, the woodland huntress, on earth; and Persephone/Proserpina, spouse of Pluto in the underworld.

XV.95 Eurydamas: Argonaut and oarsman of the shallop; in the Argonautica, a son of Ctimenus.

XV.99 quays: A quay is an artificial bank or landing-place, built of stone or other solid material, lying along or projecting into a navigable water for convenience of loading and unloading ships.

XV.124 hearkening: giving ear, listening with attention; giving attention.

XV.137 phial: A vessel for holding liquids; (formerly generally) any of various types of containers for liquids, esp. drinks; (later) spec. a small, slim, sealable glass bottle for holding liquid medicine, drugs, chemicals, etc.

XV.161 coppice: A small wood or thicket consisting of underwood and small trees grown for the purpose of periodical cutting.

XV.183 Aglaia: a goddess of beauty and magnificence, Aglaia was one of the three graces; for her pseudonym Medea has picked a common name with pleasant associations.

XV.189 Thrace: Ancient Thrace (i.e. the territory where ethnic Thracians lived) included present day Bulgaria, European Turkey, northeastern Greece and the easternmost parts of Serbia. Its boundaries were the Danube River to the north and the Aegean Sea and Propontis to the south, the Black Sea to the east, and on the west it reached the river Strymon. See Map 5, F4 and surrounding areas.

The Greeks believed that the tribes of the mountainous regions were warlike and ferocious, but they found the plains peoples more peaceable and willing to maintain more contacts with their Greek neighbors.

XV.205 Diana: goddess of the hunt and daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana was originally a moon goddess anciently identified with Artemis, from whom she took over the patronage of margins and savageness, and she was associated with chastity, beauty and athletic skill. That she was later a goddess of women is shown by the processions of women bearing torches in her honor at Aricia, and the votive offerings there which have reference to children and childbirth. Her links with women, members of the lower classes, slaves, and the seekers of asylum suggest that she was a goddess of margins; for example, slaves could receive asylum in her temples.

XV.229 Latona: According to most accounts, Latona (Leto) was the mother of Artemis and Apollo, and Zeus was their father.

XV.232 Aeson: in Greek mythology, Aeson (or Aison) was the son of Tyro and Cretheus, and brother of Pheres and Amythaon and half-brother of Pelias and Neleus, his mother's sons by Poseidon. The rightful king of Iolchos, he was deposed by his step-brother Pelias. Aeson was the father of Jason and in some accounts, Promachus. In most accounts Aeson was imprisoned and killed by Pelias before Jason could return with the Golden Fleece.

XV.235 Æetes: mythological founder and king of Aea/Colchis, a son of the sun-god Helios and the nymph Perseis (daughter of Oceanus), and brother of Circe and Pasiphae. Æetes was the father of Medea, Apsyrtus, and Chalciope, by Idya, one of the Oceanides. As narrated in Book II, he killed Phryxus son of Athamas, who had fled to his court on a golden ram. See Map 3.

XV.240 Æa: Æa was the leading city of ancient Colchis, along the Rioni river; its current name is Kutaisi, in Georgia. See Map 5, L3.

XV.244 unholpen: unhelped

XV.247 crone: an old woman, somewhat derogatory.

XV.248 Pelias: Jason's half-uncle, the mythological twin brother of Neleus, the son of Neptune by Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus. His birth was concealed from the world by his mother, who, fearful of her father's wrath at the news of the birth, caused him to be exposed in the woods. The infant's life was preserved by shepherds, who named him Pelias, from a lead-colored spot of the colour of lead in his face. Sometime afterwards, Tyro married Cretheus, son of Aeolus, king of Iolchos, and bore three other children, of whom Aeson was the eldest.

XV.267 Hesperides: in Greek mythology, the Hesperides are nymphs who tend a paradisal garden in a far western corner of the world, near the Atlas mountains in Libya, or on a distant island at the edge of the encircling Oceanus, the world-ocean. Allegedly the daughters of Night and Erebus or, in later versions, of Hesperis and Atlas or of Ceto and Phorcys, they were guardians of a tree of golden apples given by Earth to Hera at her marriage.

In most accounts there are three sisters, and names attributed to them include Aigle, Erytheia, Arethusa, Hespere, and Hesperethusa. According to legen, one of these golden apples was used by Melanion in winning his race against Atalanta, and Heracles succeeded in taking the apples after slaying Ladon, the dragon who guarded the tree. The Hesperides was a popular subject in Greek art, especially on painted pottery. Tennyson's poem "The Hesperides" was admired by Morris, and he used the story of Melanion for his Earthly Paradise tale "Atalanta's Race," and the story of Heracles and the three sisters in his Earthly Paradise tale "The Golden Apples."

XV.304 Alcestis: daughter of King Pelias and later wife of King Admetus of Boeotia, who with Apollo's help wooed her, and who sacrificed her life for his. Her story is told in Euripdes' Alcestis and Morris's Earthly Paradise tale, "The Love of Alcestis."

XV.309 Amphinome: in mythology, this name is sometimes given to the wife of Aeson; here simply a euphonic name given to Pelias's daugther.

XV.324 Saturn: Saturn was a major roman deity of agriculture and harvest, identified with the Greek deity Cronus. His wife was Ops, and his children included Ceres (goddess of the harvest), Jupiter, his successor, Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Veritas, among others. He gave his name to Saturday (dies Saturna).

According to legend, a prophecy foretold that Saturn would be deposed by one of his children. To prevent this, he ate each of his children as soon as they were born, but Oops (Rhea) managed to spirit Zeus away to the island of Crete upon birth, and gave Saturn a stone to swallow instead. When grown, Zeus attacked his father, forcing him to regurgitate the swallowed siblings, and with the help of Prometheus and his fellow Olympians conquered the heavens. Saturn fled to Rome, establishing a temporary Golden Age and time of peace (see Hesiod, Works and Days, ll. 109-126 and Ovid, Metamorphoses, Bk. I, 113-24).

XV.329 Juno: Roman goddess of women and civic virtue, an old and important Italian goddess and one of the chief deities of Rome. Her name derives from the same root as iuventas (youth), and she served both as a goddess of women as as a civic deity.

XV.331 Centaur: here, Jason's teacher Chiron. Among the Centaurs, Chiron was the wise and aged medicine-man. Of divine origin as the son of Kronos and Philyra, he was well-versed in medicine and other arts. To him was entrusted the education of Achilles, Asclepius, and Jason, and he was the object of a cult in Thessaly.

XV.420 Erectheus: Erechtheus was the fourth king of Athens and son of king Pandian the First. He and his wife Praxithea were the parents of sons Cecrops II, Metion, Pandorus, Thespius, and Eupalamus, and daughters Creusa, Oreithyia, Procris, Merope and Othonia.

XV.424 Thrace: Ancient Thrace (i.e. the territory where ethnic Thracians lived) included present day Bulgaria, European Turkey, northeastern Greece and the easternmost parts of Serbia. Its boundaries were between the Danube River to the north and the Aegean Sea and Propontis to the south, the Black Sea to the east, and on the west it reached the river Strymon. See Map 5, F4 and surrounding areas.

The Greeks believed that the tribes of the mountainous regions were warlike and ferocious, but they found the plains peoples more peaceable and willing to maintain more contacts with their Greek neighbors.

XV.428 quern: a large hollowed out grinding stone.

XV.441 betid: happened, occurred, transpired.

XV.497 Theban: on the south edge of the east plain of Boeotia, Thebes replaced, according to tradition, Orchomenus (q.v.) as the leading city of Boeotia. It plays an important part in Greek saga in the generations before the Trojan War. See Map 1, F5.

XV.497 Athamas: legendary king of Orchomenos, son of Aeolus and father of Phryxus and Helle. He married first Nephele (a cloud-goddess), then Ino daughter of Cadmus. Ino became jealous of his children by Nephele, and arranged for an oracle to demand their sacrificial deaths. They escaped on a winged golden ram, headed toward Colchis, but Helle fell into the Hellespont. Phryxus survived to reach Colchis, where he was murdered by King Æetes, who coveted the ram's Golden Fleece. The implication is that Jason is seizing something which originally belonged to his homeland.

XV.498 Phryxus: the story of Phryxus and Helle is recounted in book II. The son of Athamas, king of Orchomenos (Boeotia), and his wife Nephele, partly of divine ancestry, Phryxus/Phrixus and his sister Helle were intended victims of a plot by his second wife Ino, mother of Learchus and Melicertes.

Ino sought to have Phryxus and Helle made human sacrifices, but they escaped on the back of a magic winged ram which set out with them on his back toward Colchis on the Black Sea. En route Helle fell into the Hellespont but Phryxus survived to kill the ram as a sacrifice and place the fleece in his home. King Aeetes of Colchis killed him in order to steal the fleece and place it in a grove sacred to Mars, where it was guarded by a dragon.

XV.545 Ilissus: river of Attica, in southern Greece. See Map 4, I9.

XV.637 vetch: The bean-like fruit of various species of the leguminous plant.

XV.638 Phasis: river flowing through Colchis which runs into the Black Sea near Phasis, Medea's home and scene of the theft of the Golden Fleece. In ancient times the Phasis River was sometimes seen as a boundary between Europe and Asia. See Map 5, L3.

XV.644-65 fair casket-bearer. . . the luckless man: Pandora and her husband Epimitheus.

XV.747 Anaurus: a river of Thessaly, near the foot of mount Pelion, where Jason lost one of his sandals. Morris would have found this detail in Lemprière. See Map 2, C6.

XV.814 Pelias: Jason's half-uncle, the mythological twin brother of Neleus, the son of Neptune by Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus. His birth was concealed from the world by his mother, who, fearful of her father's wrath at the news of the birth, caused him to be exposed in the woods. The infant's life was preserved by shepherds, who named him Pelias, from a lead-colored spot of the colour of lead in his face. Sometime afterwards, Tyro married Cretheus, son of Aeolus, king of Iolchos, and bore three other children, of whom Aeson was the eldest. See also Neleus, I.187 below.

XV.868 Juno: Roman goddess of women and civic virtue, an old and important Italian goddess and one of the chief deities of Rome. Her name derives from the same root as iuventas (youth), and she served both as a goddess of women as as a civic deity.

XV.920 certes: of a truth, certainly, assuredly; used to confirm a statement.

XV.958 Mysian: Mysia was a region in the extreme northwest of Asia minor, bounded on the north by the Propontis, on the west by the Aegean Sea, on the south by Lydia, and on the east by Phrygia. Its chief cities were Cyzicum and Lampsacus. See Map 1, K2.

According to Homer, the Mysians fought on the side of Troy in the Trojan War. Herodotus (Bk. VII, ch. 20) reports that before the war the Mysians and Teucrians invaded "all of Thrace" and a part of Greece.

XV.1009 Orchomenus: a name given at various times to several cities in Phthiotic Achaea, Boeotia, and Arcadia. The name is also associated with the eponymous Boeotian Orchomenus, a vague geneological figure allegedly the son of Zeus and the Danaid Isonoe and father of Minyas. For Boeotian Orchomenus, see Map 2, H6.

XV.1163 Chiron: Among the Centaurs, Chiron was the wise and aged medicine-man. Of divine origin as the son of Kronos and Philyra, he was well-versed in medicine and other arts. To him was entrusted the education of Achilles, Asclepius, and Jason, among other heroes, and he was the object of a cult in Thessaly.

XV.1163 Pelion: Mount Pelion is a mountain of 5,300+ feet, a little northeast of Iolchos. See Map 2, H3.