Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Sailing of the Argo

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Iolchos, Thessaly

The Sailing of the Argo

By Pindar (c. 522–433 B.C.)

(From Pythian IV)
Translated by H. F. Cary

BY Juno, kindled in the heroes’ breast,

For the ship Argo, a sweet longing rose;

That with his mother none at home would rest,

Ripening unperilled days, but rather chose,

E’en unto death, amid his peers, to find

The cure most beautiful for noble mind.

But when the flower of mariners

To Iolchos was gone down,

Jason, with praises on them all,

There numbered every one.

Next did the soothsayer for him,

Mopsus, his aid afford,

With holy lots and auguries,

To put the band aboard.

And soon as by the vessel’s bow,

The anchor was hung up;

Then took the leader on the prow,

In hands, a golden cup;

And on great Father Jove did call;

And on the winds, and waters all,

Swept by the hurrying blast;

And on the nights, and ocean ways;

And on the fair auspicious days,

And loved return at last.

From out the clouds, in answer kind,

A voice of thunder came;

And shook in glistening beams around

Burst out the lightning-flame.

The chiefs breathed free; and at the sign,

Trusted in the power divine.

Hinting sweet hopes, the seer cried,

Forthwith their oars to ply;

And swift went backward from rough hands,

The rowing ceaselessly.

Conducted by the breezy south,

They reached the stormy Axine’s mouth;

There a shrine for Neptune reared;

Of Thracian bulls, a crimson herd

Was ready; and heaven-founded stone,

Wide-spread, to lay the altar on.

Peril deep before them lay;

And to the Lord of ships they pray,

Amidst their ever-raging shocks,

To ’scape the justle of fierce rocks.

For twain there were, alive, that whirled

Swifter than bellowing winds are hurled.

But now to them, that voyage blest

Brought their final day of rest.

After the band of heroes bright

Had glided into Phasis’ flood;

With dusk-faced Colchians, mingling might,

Before Æetes’ self they stood.

The first the Cyprian Queen,

Mistress of weapons keen,

Her maddening bird from earth to mortals bore;

To the four-spoked round,

Indissolubly bound,

Iynx, with motley plumage speckled o’er:

And whispered into Jason’s ear

Soft prayers and fond enchantments dear,

Of power Medea to disarm

Of daughter’s shame; and work a charm

That should for Greece her bosom fire,

Dizzied with scourge of strange desire.