HE heroes went the next day through the streets of Iolcus down
to where the ship lay. The ways they went through were crowded;
the heroes were splendid in their appearance, and Jason amongst
them shone like a star.
The people praised him, and one told the other that it would not
be long until they would win back to Iolcus, for this band of
heroes was strong enough, they said, to take King Æetes's city
and force him to give up to them the famous Fleece of Gold. Many
of the bright-eyed youths of Iolcus
 went with the heroes who had
come from the different parts of Greece.
As they marched past a temple a priestess came forth to speak to
Jason; Iphias was her name. She had a prophecy to utter about the
voyage. But Iphias was very old, and she stammered in her speech
to Jason. What she said was not heard by him. The heroes went on,
and ancient Iphias was left standing there as the old are left by
The heroes went aboard the Argo. They took their seats as at an
assembly. Then Jason faced them and spoke to them all.
"Heroes of the quest," said Jason, "we have come aboard the great
ship that Argus has built, and all that a ship needs is in its
place or is ready to our hands. All that we wait for now is the
coming of the morning's breeze that will set us on our way for
"One thing we have first to do—that is, to choose a leader who
will direct us all, one who will settle disputes amongst
ourselves and who will make treaties between us and the strangers
that we come amongst. We must choose such a leader now."
Jason spoke, and some looked to him and some looked to Heracles.
But Heracles stood up, and, stretching out his hand, said:
"Argonauts! Let no one amongst you offer the leadership to me. I
will not take it. The hero who brought us together and made all
things ready for our going—it is he and no one else who should
be our leader in this voyage."
 So Heracles said, and the Argonauts all stood up and raised a cry
for Jason. Then Jason stepped forward, and he took the hand of
each Argonaut in his hand, and he swore that he would lead them
with all the mind and all the courage that he possessed. And he
prayed the gods that it would be given to him to lead them back
safely with the Golden Fleece glittering on the mast of the Argo.
They drew lots for the benches they would sit at; they took the
places that for the length of the voyage they would have on the
ship. They made sacrifice to the gods and they waited for the
breeze of the morning that would help them away from Iolcus.
And while they waited Æson, the father of Jason, sat at his own
hearth, bowed and silent in his grief. Alcimide, his wife, sat
near him, but she was not silent; she lamented to the women of
Iolcus who were gathered around her. "I did not go down to the
ship," she said, "for with my grief I would not be a bird of ill
omen for the voyage. By this hearth my son took farewell of me—the
only son I ever bore. From the doorway I watched him go down
the street of the city, and I heard the people shout as he went
amongst them, they glorying in my son's splendid appearance. Ah,
that I might live to see his return and to hear the shout that
will go up when the people look on Jason again! But I know that
my life will not be spared so long; I will not look on my son
when he comes back from the dangers he will run in the quest of
the Golden Fleece."
 Then the women of Iolcus asked her to tell them of the Golden
Fleece, and Alcimide told them of it and of the sorrows that were
upon the race of Æolus.
Cretheus, the father of Æson, and Pelias, was of the race of
Æolus, and of the race of Æolus, too, was Athamas, the king who
ruled in Thebes at the same time that Cretheus ruled in Iolcus.
And the first children of Athamas were Phrixus and Helle.
"Ah, Phrixus and ah, Helle," Alcimide lamented, "what griefs you
have brought on the race of Æolus! And what griefs you
yourselves suffered! The evil that Athamas, your father, did you
lives to be a curse to the line of Æolus!
"Athamas was wedded first to Nephele, the mother of Phrixus and
Helle, the youth and maiden. But Athamas married again while the
mother of these children was still living, and Ino, the new
queen, drove Nephele and her children out of the king's palace.
"And now was Nephele most unhappy. She had to live as a servant,
and her children were servants to the servants of the palace.
They were clad in rags and had little to eat, and they were
beaten often by the servants who wished to win the favor of the
"But although they wore rags and had menial tasks to do, Phrixus
and Helle looked the children of a queen. The boy was tall, and
in his eyes there often came the flash of power, and the girl
looked as if she would grow into a lovely maiden. And when
Athamas, their father, would meet them by chance he would sigh,
 and Queen Ino would know by that sigh that he had still some love
for them in his heart. Afterward she would have to use all the
power she possessed to win the king back from thinking upon his
"And now Queen Ino had children of her own. She knew that the
people reverenced the children of Nephele and cared nothing for
her children. And because she knew this she feared that when
Athamas died Phrixus and Helle, the children of Nephele, would be
brought to rule in Thebes. Then she and her children would be
made to change places with them.
"This made Queen Ino think on ways by which she could make
Phrixus and Helle lose their lives. She thought long upon this,
and at last a desperate plan came into her mind.
"When it was winter she went amongst the women of the
countryside, and she gave them jewels and clothes for presents.
Then she asked them to do secretly an unheard-of thing. She asked
the women to roast over their fires the grains that had been left
for seed. This the women did. Then spring came on, and the men
sowed in the fields the grain that had been roasted over the
fires. No shoots grew up as the spring went by. In summer there
was no waving greenness in the fields. Autumn came, and there was
no grain for the reaping. Then the men, not knowing what had
happened, went to King Athamas and told him that there would be
famine in the land.
"The king sent to the temple of Artemis to ask how the people
might be saved from the famine. And the guardians of the temple,
 having taken gold from Queen Ino, told them that there would be
worse and worse famine and that all the people of Thebes would
die of hunger unless the king was willing to make a great
"When the king asked what sacrifice he should make he was told by
the guardians of the temple that he must sacrifice to the goddess
his two children, Phrixus and Helle. Those who were around the
king, to save themselves from famine after famine, clamored to
have the children sacrificed. Athamas, to save his people,
consented to the sacrifice.
"They went toward the king's palace. They found Helle by the bank
of the river washing clothes. They took her and bound her. They
found Phrixus, half naked, digging in a field, and they took him,
too, and bound him. That night they left brother and sister in
the same prison. Helle wept over Phrixus, and Phrixus wept to
think that he was not able to do anything to save his sister.
"The servants of the palace went to Nephele, and they mocked at
her, telling her that her children would be sacrificed on the
morrow. Nephele nearly went wild in her grief. And then,
suddenly, there came into her mind the thought of a creature that
might be a helper to her and to her children.
"This creature was a ram that had wings and a wonderful fleece of
gold. The god of the sea, Poseidon, had sent this wonderful ram
to Athamas and Nephele as a marriage gift. And the ram had since
been kept in a special fold.
"To that fold Nephele went. She spent the night beside the
 ram praying for its help. The morning came and the children were
taken from their prison and dressed in white, and wreaths were
put upon their heads to mark them as things for sacrifice. They
were led in a procession to the temple of Artemis. Behind that
procession King Athamas walked, his head bowed in shame.
"But Queen Ino's head was not bowed; rather she carried it high,
for her thought was all upon her triumph. Soon Phrixus and Helle
would be dead, and then, whatever happened, her own children
would reign after Athamas in Thebes.
"Phrixus and Helle, thinking they were taking their last look at
the sun, went on. And even then Nephele, holding the horns of the
golden ram, was making her last prayer. The sun rose and as it
did the ram spread out its great wings and flew through the air.
It flew to the temple of Artemis. Down beside the altar came the
golden ram, and it stood with its horns threatening those who
came. All stopped in surprise. Still the ram stood with
threatening head and great golden wings spread out. Then Phrixus
ran from those who were holding him and laid his hands upon the
ram. He called to Helle and she, too, came to the golden
creature. Phrixus mounted on the ram and he pulled Helle up
beside him. Then the golden ram flew upward. Up, up, it went, and
with the children upon its back it became like a star in the
"Then Queen Ino, seeing the children saved by the golden ram,
shrieked and fled away from that place. Athamas ran after her. As
she ran and as he followed hatred for her grew up within him. Ino
ran on and on until she came to the cliffs that rose over the
 sea. Fearing Athamas who came behind her she plunged down. But as
she fell she was changed by Poseidon, the god of the sea. She
became a seagull. Athamas, who followed her, was changed also; he
became the sea eagle that, with beak and talons ever ready to
strike, flies above the sea.
"And the golden ram with wings outspread flew on and on. Over the
sea it flew while the wind whistled around the children. On and
on they went, and the children saw only the blue sea beneath
them. Then poor Helle, looking downward, grew dizzy. She fell off
the golden ram before her brother could take hold of her. Down
she fell, and still the ram flew on and on. She was drowned in
that sea. The people afterward named it in memory of her, calling
it 'Hellespont'—'Helle's Sea.'
"On and on the ram flew. Over a wild and barren country it flew
and toward a river. Upon that river a white city was built. Down
the ram flew, and alighting on the ground, stood before the gate
of that city. It was the city of Aea, in the land of Colchis.
"The king was in the street of the city, and he joined with the
crowd that gathered around the strange golden creature that had a
youth upon its back. The ram folded its wings and then the youth
stood beside it. He spoke to the people, and then the king—Æetes
was his name—spoke to him, asking him from what place he
had come, and what was the strange creature upon whose back he
"To the king and to the people Phrixus told his story, weeping
tell of Helle and her fall. Then King Æetes brought him into the
city, and he gave him a place in the palace, and for the golden
ram he had a special fold made.
"Soon after the ram died, and then King Æetes took its golden
fleece and hung it upon an oak tree that was in a place dedicated
to Ares, the god of war. Phrixus wed one of the daughters of the
king, and men say that afterward he went back to Thebes, his own
"And as for the Golden Fleece it became the greatest of King
Æetes's treasures. Well indeed does he guard it, and not with
armed men only, but with magic powers. Very strong and very
cunning is King Æetes, and a terrible task awaits those who
would take away from him that Fleece of Gold."
So Alcimide spoke, sorrowfully telling to the women the story of
the Golden Fleece that her son Jason was going in quest of. So
she spoke, and the night waned, and the morning of the sailing of
the Argo came on.
And when the Argonauts beheld the dawn upon the high peaks of
Pelion they arose and poured out wine in offering to Zeus, the
highest of the gods. Then Argo herself gave forth a strange cry,
for the beam from Dodona that had been formed into her prow had
endued her with life. She uttered a strange cry, and as she did
the heroes took their places at the benches, one after the other,
as had been arranged by lot, and Tiphys, the helmsman, went to
the steering place. To the sound of Orpheus's lyre they
with oars the rushing sea water, and the surge broke over the oar
blades. The sails were let out and the breeze came into them,
piping shrilly, and the fishes came darting through the green
sea, great and small, and followed them, gamboling along the
watery paths. And Chiron, the king-centaur, came down from the
Mountain Pelion, and standing with his feet in the foam cried
out, "Good speed, O Argonauts, good speed, and a sorrowless
THE BEGINNING OF THINGS
Orpheus sang to his lyre, Orpheus the minstrel, who knew the ways
and the stories of the gods; out in the open sea on the first
morning of the voyage Orpheus sang to them of the beginning of
He sang how at first Earth and Heaven and Sea were all mixed and
mingled together. There was neither Light nor Darkness then, but
only a Dimness. This was Chaos. And from Chaos came forth Night
and Erebus. From Night was born Æther, the Upper Air, and from
Night and Erebus wedded there was born Day.
And out of Chaos came Earth, and out of Earth came the starry
Heaven. And from Heaven and Earth wedded there were born the
Titan gods and goddesses—Oceanus, Cœus, Crius, Hyperion,
Iapetus; Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, gold-crowned Phoebe, and
lovely Tethys. And then Heaven and Earth had for their child
Cronos, the most cunning of all.
 Cronos wedded Rhea, and from Cronos and Rhea were born the gods
who were different from the Titan gods.
But Heaven and Earth had other children—Cottus, Briareus, and
Gyes. These were giants, each with fifty heads and a hundred
arms. And Heaven grew fearful when he looked on these giant
children, and he hid them away in the deep places of the Earth.
Cronos hated Heaven, his father. He drove Heaven, his father, and
Earth, his mother, far apart. And far apart they stay, for they
have never been able to come near each other since. And Cronos
married to Rhea had for children Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Aidoneus,
and Poseidon, and these all belonged to the company of the
deathless gods. Cronos was fearful that one of his sons would
treat him as he had treated Heaven, his father. So when another
child was born to him and his wife Rhea he commanded that the
child be given to him so that he might swallow him. But Rhea
wrapped a great stone in swaddling clothes and gave the stone to
Cronos. And Cronos swallowed the stone, thinking to swallow his
That child was Zeus. Earth took Zeus and hid him in a deep cave
and those who minded and nursed the child beat upon drums so that
his cries might not be heard. His nurse was Adrastia; when he was
able to play she gave him a ball to play with. All of gold was
the ball, with a dark-blue spiral around it. When the boy Zeus
would play with this ball it would make a track across the sky,
flaming like a star.
 Hyperion the Titan god wed Theia the Titan goddess, and their
children were Helios, the bright Sun, and Selene, the clear Moon.
And Cœus wed Phœbe, and their children were Leto, who is kind
to gods and men, and Asteria of happy name, and Hecate, whom Zeus
honored above all. Now the gods who were the children of Cronos
and Rhea went up unto the Mountain Olympus, and there they built
their shining palaces. But the Titan gods who were born of Heaven
and Earth went up to the Mountain Othrys, and there they had
Between the Olympians and the Titan gods of Othrys a war began.
Neither side might prevail against the other. But now Zeus, grown
up to be a youth, thought of how he might help the Olympians to
overthrow the Titan gods.
He went down into the deep parts of the Earth where the giants
Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes had been hidden by their father.
Cronos had bound them, weighing them down with chains. But now
Zeus loosed them and the hundred-armed giants in their gratitude
gave him the lightning and showed him how to use the thunderbolt.
Zeus would have the giants fight against the Titan gods. But
although they had mighty strength Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes
had no fire of courage in their hearts. Zeus thought of a way to
give them this courage; he brought the food and drink of the gods
to them, ambrosia and nectar, and when they had eaten and drunk
their spirits grew within the giants, and they were ready to make
war upon the Titan gods.
 "Sons of Earth and Heaven," said Zeus to the hundred-armed
giants, "a long time now have the Dwellers on Olympus been
striving with the Titan gods. Do you lend your unconquerable
might to the gods and help them to overthrow the Titans."
Cottus, the eldest of the giants, answered, "Divine One, through
your devising we are come back again from the murky gloom of the
mid Earth and we have escaped from the hard bonds that Cronos
laid upon us. Our minds are fixed to aid you in the war against
the Titan gods."
So the hundred-armed giants said, and thereupon Zeus went and he
gathered around him all who were born of Cronos and Rhea. Cronos
himself hid from Zeus. Then the giants, with their fifty heads
growing from their shoulders and their hundred hands, went forth
against the Titan gods. The boundless sea rang terribly and the
earth crashed loudly; wide Heaven was shaken and groaned, and
high Olympus reeled from its foundation. Holding huge rocks in
their hands the giants attacked the Titan gods.
Then Zeus entered the war. He hurled the lightning; the bolts
flew thick and fast from his strong hand, with thunder and
lightning and flame. The earth crashed around in burning, the
forests crackled with fire, the ocean seethed. And hot flames
wrapped the earth-born Titans all around. Three hundred rocks,
one upon another, did Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes hurl upon the
Titans. And when their ranks were broken the giants seized upon
them and held them for Zeus.
But some of the Titan gods, seeing that the strife for them
 was vain, went over to the side of Zeus. These Zeus became
friendly with. But the other Titans he bound in chains and he
hurled them down to Tartarus.
As far as Earth is from Heaven so is Tartarus from Earth. A
brazen anvil falling down from Heaven to Earth nine days and nine
nights would reach the earth upon the tenth day. And again, a
brazen anvil falling from Earth nine nights and nine days would
reach Tartarus upon the tenth night. Around Tartarus runs a fence
of bronze and Night spreads in a triple line all about it, as a
necklace circles the neck. There Zeus imprisoned the Titan gods
who had fought against him; they are hidden in the misty gloom,
in a dank place, at the ends of the Earth. And they may not go
out, for Poseidon fixed gates of bronze upon their prison, and a
wall runs all round it. There Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes stay,
And there, too, is the home of Night. Night and Day meet each
other at that place, as they pass a threshold of bronze. They
draw near and they greet one another, but the house never holds
them both together, for while one is about to go down into the
house, the other is leaving through the door. One holds Light in
her hand and the other holds in her arms Sleep.
There the children of dark Night have their dwellings—Sleep,
and Death, his brother. The sun never shines upon these two.
Sleep may roam over the wide earth, and come upon the sea, and he
is kindly to men. But Death is not kindly, and whoever he seizes
upon, him he holds fast.
 There, too, stands the hall of the lord of the Underworld,
Aidoneus, the brother of Zeus. Zeus gave him the Underworld to be
his dominion when he shared amongst the Olympians the world that
Cronos had ruled over. A fearful hound guards the hall of
Aidoneus: Cerberus he is called; he has three heads. On those who
go within that hall Cerberus fawns, but on those who would come
out of it he springs and would devour them.
Not all the Titans did Zeus send down to Tartarus. Those of them
who had wisdom joined him, and by their wisdom Zeus was able to
overcome Cronos. Then Cronos went to live with the friendly Titan
gods, while Zeus reigned over Olympus, becoming the ruler of gods
So Orpheus sang, Orpheus who knew the ways and the histories of
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