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THE MOUNTAIN CAUCASUS
HEY rested in the harbor of Thynias, the desert island, and
sailing from there they came to the land of the Mariandyni, a
people who were constantly at war with the Bebrycians; there the
hero Polydeuces was welcomed as a god. Twelve days afterward they
passed the mouth of the River Callichorus; then they came to the
mouth of that river that flows through the land of the Amazons,
the River Thermodon. Fourteen days from that place brought them
to the island that is filled with the birds of Ares, the god of
war. These birds dropped upon the heroes heavy, pointed feathers
that would have pierced them as arrows if they had not covered
themselves with their shields; then by shouting, and by striking
their shields with their spears, they raised such a clamor as
drove the birds away.
 They sailed on, borne by a gentle breeze, until a gulf of the sea
opened before them, and lo! a mountain that they knew bore some
mighty name. Orpheus, looking on its peak and its crags, said,
"Lo, now! We, the Argonauts, are looking upon the mountain that
is named Caucasus!"
When he declared the name the heroes all stood up and looked on
the mountain with awe. And in awe they cried out a name, and that
name was "Prometheus!"
For upon that mountain the Titan god was held, his limbs bound
upon the hard rocks by fetters of bronze. Even as the Argonauts
looked toward the mountain a great shadow fell upon their ship,
and looking up they saw a monstrous bird flying. The beat of the
bird's wings filled out the sail and drove the Argo swiftly
onward. "It is the bird sent by Zeus," Orpheus said. "It is the
vulture that every day devours the liver of the Titan god." They
cowered down on the ship as they heard that word—all the
Argonauts save Heracles; he stood upright and looked out toward
where the bird was flying. Then, as the bird came near to the
mountain, the Argonauts heard a great cry of anguish go up from
"It is Prometheus crying out as the bird of Zeus flies down upon
him," they said to one another. Again they cowered down on the
ship, all save Heracles, who stayed looking toward where the
great vulture had flown.
The night came and the Argonauts sailed on in silence, thinking
in awe of the Titan god and of the doom that Zeus had
 inflicted upon him. Then, as they sailed on under the stars,
Orpheus told them of Prometheus, of his gift to men, and of the
fearful punishment that had been meted out to him by Zeus.
The gods more than once made a race of men: the first was a
Golden Race. Very close to the gods who dwell on Olympus was this
Golden Race; they lived justly although there were no laws to
compel them. In the time of the Golden Race the earth knew only
one season, and that season was everlasting Spring. The men and
women of the Golden Race lived through a span of life that was
far beyond that of the men and women of our day, and when they
died it was as though sleep had become everlasting with them.
They had all good things, and that without labor, for the earth
without any forcing bestowed fruits and crops upon them. They had
peace all through their lives, this Golden Race, and after they
had passed away their spirits remained above the earth, inspiring
the men of the race that came after them to do great and gracious
things and to act justly and kindly to one another.
After the Golden Race had passed away, the gods made for the
earth a second race—a Silver Race. Less noble in spirit and in
body was this Silver Race, and the seasons that visited them were
less gracious. In the time of the Silver Race the gods made the
seasons—Summer and Spring, and Autumn
 and Winter. They knew
parching heat, and the bitter winds of winter, and snow and rain
and hail. It was the men of the Silver Race who first built
houses for shelter. They lived through a span of life that was
longer than our span, but it was not long enough to give wisdom
to them. Children were brought up at their mothers' sides for a
hundred years, playing at childish things. And when they came to
years beyond a hundred they quarreled with one another, and
wronged one another, and did not know enough to give reverence to
the immortal gods. Then, by the will of Zeus, the Silver Race
passed away as the Golden Race had passed away. Their spirits
stay in the Underworld, and they are called by men the blessed
spirits of the Underworld.
And then there was made the third race—the Race of Bronze.
They were a race great of stature, terrible and strong. Their
armor was of bronze, their swords were of bronze, their
implements were of bronze, and of bronze, too, they made their
houses. No great span of life was theirs, for with the weapons
that they took in their terrible hands they slew one another.
Thus they passed away, and went down under the earth to Hades,
leaving no name that men might know them by.
Then the gods created a fourth race—our own: a Race of Iron.
We have not the justice that was amongst the men of the Golden
Race, nor the simpleness that was amongst the men of the Silver
Race, nor the stature nor the great strength that the men of the
Bronze Race possessed. We are of iron that we
 may endure.
It is our doom that we must never cease from labor and that we
must very quickly grow old.
But miserable as we are to-day, there was a time when the lot of
men was more miserable. With poor implements they had to labor
on a hard ground. There was less justice and kindliness amongst
men in those days than there is now.
Once it came into the mind of Zeus that he would destroy the
fourth race and leave the earth to the nymphs and the satyrs. He
would destroy it by a great flood. But Prometheus, the Titan god
who had given aid to Zeus against the other Titans—Prometheus,
who was called the Foreseer—could not consent to the race of men
being destroyed utterly, and he considered a way of saving some
of them. To a man and a woman, Deucalion and Pyrrha, just and
gentle people, he brought word of the plan of Zeus, and he showed
them how to make a ship that would bear them through what was
about to be sent upon the earth.
Then Zeus shut up in their cave all the winds but the wind that
brings rain and clouds. He bade this wind, the South Wind, sweep
over the earth, flooding it with rain. He called upon Poseidon
and bade him to let the sea pour in upon the land. And Poseidon
commanded the rivers to put forth all their strength, and sweep
dykes away, and overflow their banks.
The clouds and the sea and the rivers poured upon the earth. The
flood rose higher and higher, and in the places where the pretty
lambs had played the ugly sea calves now
gam-  bolled; men in their
boats drew fishes out of the tops of elm trees, and the water
nymphs were amazed to come on men's cities under the waves.
Soon even the men and women who had boats were overwhelmed by the
rise of water—all perished then except Deucalion and Pyrrha, his
wife; them the waves had not overwhelmed, for they were in a ship
that Prometheus had shown them how to build. The flood went down
at last, and Deucalion and Pyrrha climbed up to a high and a dry
ground. Zeus saw that two of the race of men had been left alive.
But he saw that these two were just and kindly, and had a right
reverence for the gods. He spared them, and he saw their children
again peopling the earth.
Prometheus, who had saved them, looked on the men and women of
the earth with compassion. Their labor was hard, and they wrought
much to gain little. They were chilled at night in their houses,
and the winds that blew in the daytime made the old men and women
bend double like a wheel. Prometheus thought to himself that if
men and women had the element that only the gods knew of—the
element of fire—they could make for themselves implements for
labor; they could build houses that would keep out the chilling
winds, and they could warm themselves at the blaze.
But the gods had not willed that men should have fire, and to go
against the will of the gods would be impious. Prometheus went
against the will of the gods. He stole fire from the
 altar of Zeus, and he hid it in a hollow fennel stalk, and he
brought it to men.
Then men were able to hammer iron into tools, and cut down
forests with axes, and sow grain where the forests had been. Then
were they able to make houses that the storms could not
overthrow, and they were able to warm themselves at hearth fires.
They had rest from their labor at times. They built cities; they
became beings who no longer had heads and backs bent but were
able to raise their faces even to the gods.
And Zeus spared the race of men who had now the sacred element of
fire. But he knew that Prometheus had stolen this fire even from
his own altar and had given it to men. And he thought on how he
might punish the great Titan god for his impiety.
He brought back from the Underworld the giants that he had put
there to guard the Titans that had been hurled down to Tartarus.
He brought back Gyes, Cottus, and Briareus, and he commanded them
to lay hands upon Prometheus and to fasten him with fetters to
the highest, blackest crag upon Caucasus. And Briareus, Cottus,
and Gyes seized upon the Titan god, and carried him to Caucasus,
and fettered him with fetters of bronze to the highest, blackest
crag—with fetters of bronze that may not be broken. There they
have left the Titan stretched, under the sky, with the cold winds
blowing upon him, and with the sun streaming down on him. And
that his punishment might exceed all other punishments Zeus had
 a vulture to prey upon him—a vulture that tears at his
liver each day.
And yet Prometheus does not cry out that he has repented of
his gift to man; although the winds blow upon him, and the sun
streams upon him, and the vulture tears at his liver, Prometheus
will not cry out his repentance to heaven. And Zeus may not
utterly destroy him. For Prometheus the Foreseer knows a secret
that Zeus would fain have him disclose. He knows that even as
Zeus overthrew his father and made himself the ruler in his
stead, so, too, another will overthrow Zeus. And one day Zeus
will have to have the fetters broken from around the limbs of
Prometheus, and will have to bring from the rock and the vulture,
and into the Council of the Olympians, the unyielding Titan god.
When the light of the morning came the Argo was very near to
the Mountain Caucasus. The voyagers looked in awe upon its black
crags. They saw the great vulture circling over a high rock, and
from beneath where the vulture circled they heard a weary cry.
Then Heracles, who all night had stood by the mast, cried out to
the Argonauts to bring the ship near to a landing place.
But Jason would not have them go near; fear of the wrath of
Zeus was strong upon him; rather, he bade the Argonauts put all
their strength into their rowing, and draw far off from that
forbidden mountain. Heracles, not heeding what Jason
 ordered, declared that it was his purpose to make his way up to
the black crag, and, with his shield and his sword in his hands,
slay the vulture that preyed upon the liver of Prometheus.
Then Orpheus in a clear voice spoke to the Argonauts. "Surely
some spirit possesses Heracles," he said. "Despite all we do or
say he will make his way to where Prometheus is fettered to the
rock. Do not gainsay him in this! Remember what Nereus, the
ancient one of the sea, declared! Did Nereus not say that a great
labor awaited Heracles, and that in the doing of it he should
work out the will of Zeus? Stay him not! How just it would be if
he who is the son of Zeus freed from his torments the
much-enduring Titan god!"
So Orpheus said in his clear, commanding voice. They drew near to
the Mountain Caucasus. Then Heracles, gripping the sword and
shield that were the gifts of the gods, sprang out on the landing
place. The Argonauts shouted farewell to him. But he, filled as
he was with an overmastering spirit, did not heed their words.
A strong breeze drove them onward; darkness came down, and the
Argo went on through the night. With the morning light those who
were sleeping were awakened by the cry of Nauplius—"Lo! The
Phasis, and the utmost bourne of the sea!" They sprang up, and
looked with many strange feelings upon the broad river they had
Here was the Phasis emptying itself into the Sea of Pontus! Up
that river was Colchis and the city of King Æetes, the
 end of their voyage, the place where was kept the Golden Fleece!
Quickly they let down the sail; they lowered the mast and they
laid it along the deck; strongly they grasped the oars; they
swung the Argo around, and they entered the broad stream of the
Up the river they went with the Mountain Caucasus on their left
hand, and on their right the groves and gardens of Aea, King
Æetes's city. As they went up the stream, Jason poured from a
golden cup an offering to the gods. And to the dead heroes of
that country the Argonauts prayed for good fortune to their
It was Jason's counsel that they should not at once appear before
King Æetes, but visit him after they had seen the strength of his
city. They drew their ship into a shaded backwater, and there
they stayed while day grew and faded around them.
Night came, and the heroes slept upon the deck of Argo. Many
things came back to them in their dreams or through their
half-sleep: they thought of the Lemnian maidens they had parted
from; of the Clashing Rocks they had passed between; of the look
in the eyes of Heracles as he raised his face to the high, black
peak of Caucasus. They slept, and they thought they saw before
them THE GOLDEN FLEECE; darkness surrounded it;
it seemed to the
dreaming Argonauts that the darkness was the magic power that
King Æetes possessed.