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N.S. Gill

Myth Monday - Who Were the Argonauts

By June 25, 2012

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Image ID: 1703411  [Jason appoints Tiphys to be helmsman] (1918)

In the 3rd century B.C., at the center of learning at Alexandria, Apollonius of Rhodes wrote a famous epic poem about the heroes and demigods known as Argonauts who sailed to the Black Sea in search of adventure. Named for them, the poem is called the Argonautica. It begins:

(ll. 1-4) Beginning with thee, O Phoebus, I will recount the famous deeds of men of old, who, at the behest of King Pelias, down through the mouth of Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks, sped well-benched Argo in quest of the golden fleece.
Read more about the Argonauts.

Picture © NYPL Digital Gallery

Previous 2012 Myth Mondays:

  1. Hercules Hurls His Guest
  2. Scylla
  3. Olympics Origins II: Myrtilos
  4. Hercules the Giant-Killer
  5. The First Tyrant
  6. The King and the Harpies
  7. The Dawn Goddess Loves a Mortal
  8. Vediovis
  9. Even a Boar Wishes to Kiss Adonis
  10. Hero and Leander
  11. Who Were the Argonauts?
  12. The Chimera
  13. Narcissus and Echo
  14. How Perseus Fits In
  15. Hesiod and the Bestiary
  16. The First Olympics Origins I
  17. Dionysus and the Return of Hephaestus
  18. Zeus, the Recent Victor of the Titanomachy, Wins Once More in Hesiod's 'Theogony'
  19. Atlas, the Titan Who Didn't Shrug
  20. Troilus and ... Polyxena

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February 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm
(1) Bill says:

I liked that comparison of Jason to Jonah, even acknowlegding that the image of Jason in the dragon’s mouth is rare. So John R. Salverda please tell us more about Ginzberg’s legends Thanks


February 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm
(2) John R. Salverda says:

Thanks Bill, the pertinent quote from Ginzberg’s “legends” runs thus; “On the same vessel were representatives of the seventy nations of the earth, each with his peculiar idols. They all resolved to entreat their gods for succor, and the god from whom help would come should be recognized and worshipped at the only one true God. … Jonah confessed to the captain that he was to blame for the whole misfortune, and he besought him to cast him adrift, and appease the storm. The other passengers refused to consent to so cruel an act. … they first tried to save the vessel by throwing the cargo overboard.”

Elsewhere in Ginzberg we may glean more clues to Jonah’s “Messiahship.” For instance, he had died and was resurrected by Elijah (the forerunner of the Messiah); “God resorted to the expedient of causing him pain through the death of the son of the widow with whom Elijah was abiding, and by whom he had been received with great honor. When her son, who was later to be known as the prophet Jonah, died, … Elijah supplicated God to revive the child.” And that he had achieved a kind of immortality; “God exempted him from death: living he was permitted to enter Paradise.”

There is much more to the story of Jonah than the Scriptures have afforded us. (The Jews often downplayed the role of any “supposed” character of Messianic attributes, such as Jesus or Jonah, making them out to be “merely” a prophet. In the case of Jonah, the Jews referred to him as “the false prophet.”) Jesus, the Christian Messiah, compared his Messianic attributes to that of Jonah; “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Mat 12:40, See also Luke 11:29-32). It seems that the “swallowing and regurgitation” of Jonah was known, in the days of Jesus, to be an allegory to the “death and resurrection” of the Messiah.

January 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm
(3) David says:

When will Bellerophon return to eradicate the remaining Nephilim?

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