The Argonautika: The Story of Jason and the Quest for the Golden Fleece

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Overview

Jason and the Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece is probably the oldest extant Greek myth. Homer referred to it as something "familiar to all." At one level this story is a classic fairy tale: The young prince is sent on a perilous expedition and triumphs over the obstacles put in his path - from clashing rocks to fire-breathing bulls - to win not only the Fleece but also the hand of the Medeia, the daughter of King Aietes, who rules over Kolchis. In addition to telling of the prince's quest, the myth also hints at accounts of early exploration and colonizing ventures, since the Argonauts returned home via Italy and Sicily after navigating several of Europe's great rivers, including the Po and the Rhone. Although the myth is old, the poem's treatment of it is Hellenistic - in effect, modern. Jason emerges as an all-too-human Everyman with the one real talent of being able to make women fall in love with him. Medeia becomes a major character: a virgin sorceress whose magic yields Jason's triumph yet cannot save her from her own infatuation. The supporting cast of manipulative goddesses behave uncommonly like middle-class Hellenistic ladies. Together, the combination of age-old myth and modern treatment produces a gripping and unforgettable narrative. Peter Green has translated this renowned poem with skill and wit, offering a refreshing interpretation of a timeless story. His commentary - the first on all four books since Mooney's in 1912 - both sheds light in dark places and takes account of the recent upsurge of scholarly interest in Apollonios.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
While Apollonios's long verse romance was originally scorned, it has grown in stature and remains the fullest account of the story of Jason, Medea, and the quest for the golden fleece and the only surviving epic of the Hellenistic period. This new translation joins that of F.V. Rieu (Penguin, 1959). Green (classics, Univ. of Texas), the author of a number of books on Alexander the Great and Hellenistic culture, as well as The Laughter of Aphrodite (Univ. of California, 1993), a novel about Sappho, translates Apollonios's Greek into fluent English verse while preserving his stateliness. The cloth version includes comprehensive notes and commentary. Green's efforts represent both fine literature and scholarship, making this book appropriate for public and academic libraries.Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520076860
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/1997
  • Series: Hellenistic Culture and Society Series
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author


Peter Green is Dougherty Centennial Professor of Classics at the University of Texas, Austin. His other books available from California include Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age (1990), Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography (1991), The Laughter of Aphrodite: A Novel about Sappho of Lesbos (1993), and The Greco-Persian Wars (1996).
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