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Lecture 7

CLA201H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Comparative Religion, Origin Myth, Harpy

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Jody Cundy

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The Argonautica - Apollonius
- Argonauts is the term for the group of heroes (also called Minyae) mainly belonging to
the pre Trojan generation (before Troy) who were sent by Pelias under Jason’s leadership
on the Argo (ship) to fetch the golden fleece (heroic quest)
- The Odyssey book 12.66-72
- Epic poem in dactylic hexameter. Dates to the Hellenistic period
- 1.1-17 Phoebus (Apollo). Does not begin with invocation of the muses but with Apollo.
- Section 5 Pelias (uncle) is a descendant of Poseidon and Jason is a favorite of Hera.
Pelias honors all the gods except Hera. Identify Jason because he is missing a sandal.
Pelias sets up this heroic quest not to save their land but to get Jason out of the way of his
oracle so he can lose his homecoming
Argonautica and the Hellenistic Period
- Refashioning Homer for the Hellenistic period
- The Argonautica was an adventure for the poet. It was a rewriting Homeric epic in a way
that would meet the demanding tastes of his contemporaries
- Texts talking to other texts
- The literary fashion in the Hellenistic period was for small, meticulous poems, featuring
displays of erudition and paradoxography (the account of marvels and oddities) as
represented by the work of Callimachus
- In adapting the epic genre to this audience, Apollonius went a long way towards
inventing the romance novel
- 1.341-363 Heracles he doesn’t want to lead/replace Jason even though people want to
follow him. He forbids people to disobey him
- 3.422-438 Jason is assigned the heroic task. He is not portrayed as heroic. Comparing
- 3.1-30 (1,6,17,22) Athena usually helps heroes (wisdom). Medea playing an important
part in Jason’s success notion of Medea as an enchantress, she has the power to get
things done
Harpies and Phineus’ Prophecy
- 2.178 (178) Argonauts need Phineus’ prophetic skills (blind). He does not reverence
Zeus and the Harpies steal his food offerings
- The Clashing Rocks - what makes the Argo famous is that it survived going through it
Talos (book 4)
- Protects the Island of Crete by running around it, throws rocks at the Argonauts when
passing it. He has Achilles’ heel with a bronze body. Medea subdues him, not the men.
Jason gets his powers through Medea and makes him more heroic to accomplish more
deeds. This poem is later than Euripides’ Medea
Argonautica as Hellenistic epyllion
- A Callimachian epic Argonautica is only 4 books compared to 24 (Iliad and Odyssey)
- Epic hero? unheroic characteristics of Jason and his crew
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