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THE PASSAGE OF THE SYMPLEGADES
HEY came near Salmydessus, where Phineus, the wise king, ruled,
and they sailed past it; they sighted the pile of stones, with
the oar upright upon it that they had raised on the seashore over
the body of Tiphys, the skillful steersman whom they had lost;
they sailed on until they heard a sound that grew more and more
thunderous, and then the heroes said to each other, "Now we come
to the Symplegades and the dread passage into the Sea of Pontus."
It was then that Jason cried out: "Ah, when Pelias spoke of this
quest to me, why did I not turn my head away and refuse to be
drawn into it? Since we came near the dread passage that is
before us I have passed every night in groans. As for you who
have come with me, you may take your ease,
 for you need care only
for your own lives. But I have to care for you all, and to strive
to win for you all a safe return to Greece. Ah, greatly am I
afflicted now, knowing to what a great peril I have brought you!"
So Jason said, thinking to make trial of the heroes. They, on
their part, were not dismayed, but shouted back cheerful words to
him. Then he said: "O friends of mine, by your spirit my spirit
is quickened. Now if I knew that I was being borne down into the
black gulfs of Hades, I should fear nothing, knowing that you are
constant and faithful of heart."
As he said this they came into water that seethed all around the
ship. Then into the hands of Euphemus, a youth of Iolcus, who was
the keenest-eyed amongst the Argonauts, Jason put the pigeon that
Hypsipyle had given him. He bade him stand by the prow of the
Argo, ready to loose the pigeon as the ship came nigh that
dreadful gate of rock.
They saw the spray being dashed around in showers; they saw the
sea spread itself out in foam; they saw the high, black rocks
rush together, sounding thunderously as they met. The caves in
the high rocks rumbled as the sea surged into them, and the foam
of the dashing waves spurted high up the rocks.
Jason shouted to each man to grip hard on the oars. The Argo
dashed on as the rocks rushed toward each other again. Then there
was such noise that no man's voice could be heard above it.
As the rocks met, Euphemus loosed the pigeon. With his
 keen eyes he watched her fly through the spray. Would she, not
finding an opening to fly through, turn back? He watched, and
meanwhile the Argonauts gripped hard on the oars to save the ship
from being dashed on the rocks. The pigeon fluttered as though
she would sink down and let the spray drown her. And then
Euphemus saw her raise herself and fly forward. Toward the place
where she had flown he pointed. The rowers gave a loud cry, and
Jason called upon them to pull with might and main.
The rocks were parting asunder, and to the right and left broad
Pontus was seen by the heroes. Then suddenly a huge wave rose
before them, and at the sight of it they all uttered a cry and
bent their heads. It seemed to them that it would dash down on
the whole ship's length and overwhelm them all. But Nauplius was
quick to ease the ship, and the wave rolled away beneath the
keel, and at the stern it raised the Argo and dashed her away
from the rocks.
They felt the sun as it streamed upon them through the sundered
rocks. They strained at the oars until the oars bent like bows in
their hands. The ship sprang forward. Surely they were now in the
wide Sea of Pontus!
The Argonauts shouted. They saw the rocks behind them with the
sea fowl screaming upon them. Surely they were in the Sea of
Pontus—the sea that had never been entered before through the
Rocks Wandering. The rocks no longer dashed together; each
remained fixed in its place, for it was the will of
 the gods that
these rocks should no more clash together after a mortal's ship
had passed between them.
They were now in the Sea of Pontus, the sea into which flowed the
river that Colchis was upon—the River Phasis. And now above
Jason's head the bird of peaceful days, the Halcyon, fluttered,
and the Argonauts knew that this was a sign from the gods that
the voyage would not any more be troublous.