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The Argonautica

by Apollonius of Rhodes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,765207,440 (3.76)1 / 52
The Argonautica is the dramatic story of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece and his relations with the dangerous Colchian princess, Medea. The only extant Greek epic poem to bridge the gap between Homer and late antiquity, it is a major product of the brilliant world of the Ptolemaic courtat Alexandria, written by Apollonius of Rhodes in the 3rd century BC.Apollonius explores many of the fundamental aspects of life in a highly original way: love, deceit, heroism, human ignorance of the diven, the limits of science. This volume offers the first scholarly translation into English prose for many years, combining readability with accuracy and anattention to detail that will appeal to readers both with and without Greek.… (more)
  1. 30
    The Aeneid by Virgil (andejons)
    andejons: Both epics connects to the Iliad and the Odyssey, even if the Argonautica is a prequel of sorts and the Aeneid is a sequel. Also, both Jason and Aeneas as well as Medea and Dido shows similar traits.
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Okay, this was surprisingly good! I haven't really liked much of the ancient greek the class I'm reading these for has assigned, but this one caught me off guard!

I was a little hesitant going in since Hunter literally says in the preface "no one... is more conscious than I am of the failings of my translation"... Umm, cmon dude have a little confidence? It's a prose translation, so it's not accurate to the original metered verse, but as a non-scholar I didn't really mind that. Obviously when changing the form of a work this drastically you need to take some liberties, but I felt it was entirely adequate and much easier to read than the other epic poems that my professor has assigned. On top of that, I actually enjoyed it instead of slogging along-- this was a story I was unfamiliar with, and I found myself actively avoiding spoilers, for a work written thousands of years ago! I hesitate to use the word "riveting" but this was the closest classical literature to a page-turner I've ever read. This edition also has maps in the front, and it's really funny to watch how bad these guys are at navigation, but the overall effect is sort of like reading a high-fantasy novel that's set in a familiar location, so that's cool too.

A lot of people seemed to not like Jason's character but I found him a lot more interesting than Heracles for example. He's a lot more human, and this makes for a more realistic story. I wouldn't say he's relatable but the emotional journey was a lot more believable than some of the older Greek works (and I understand that this is a sort of aggregation of things written centuries before so that plays a role in its sophistication). Medea was obviously my favorite character, I found myself sympathizing with her the most throughout, and her speech on Drepane was quite powerful. I felt really bad for her, she deserved so much better!

So yeah that gets me to the failings of this poem, which are pretty common to the Greek I've read, which is listing people and misogyny lol. There's quite a bit of just listing names that contemporary readers would be familiar with, and it got frustrating to the point that I would just skip over those sections and figure out who's who later. This was made worse by the fact that the footnotes were all at the end instead of the bottom of each page, and I just didn't feel motivated to read them all, so I'm sure I missed important context. Also, I won't excuse misogyny just because it's old; after having read ancient literature that actually treats women as people (like the Homeric Hymn to Demeter) Apollonius honestly has no excuse :))) ( )
  jooniper | Sep 10, 2021 |
Classics
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
Argonautica tells the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece from remote Colchis. Their heroic adventures and Jason's relationship with the dangerous Colchian princess/sorceress Medea were already well known to Hellenistic audiences, which enabled Apollonius to go beyond a simple narrative, giving it a scholarly emphasis suitable to the times. It was the age of the great Library of Alexandria, and his epic incorporates his research in geography, ethnography, comparative religion, and Homeric literature. However, his main contribution to the epic tradition lies in his development of the love between hero and heroine.

In the Argonautica, an epic on the voyage of the Argonauts, Apollonius adapted the language of Homer to the needs of a romantic epic with considerable success; in recounting Medea’s love for Jason, he shows a capacity for sympathetic analysis not found in earlier Greek literature. Apollonius often holds the reader by his fresh handling of old episodes, his suggestive similes, and his admirable descriptions of nature. In general, his style is informed by a selection of traditional themes and forms that he recasts in accordance with the poetic ideals of his age. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Feb 19, 2021 |
A delightful Grecian tale written in Alexandria during the Hellenic period; a great prequel to the play Medea by Euripides. Recommended for those interested in Greek tales and mythology. ( )
  MusicforMovies | Feb 13, 2021 |
I decided to read both the Loeb Classical Library (vol. I – Apollonius Rhodius – Argonautica) and the Penguin Classics (Apollonius of Rhodes – The Voyage of Argo) editions of the story of the quest for the Golden Fleece. The Loeb Classical Library edition uses the translation by R. C. Seaton, which was first published in 1912. The Penguin Classics version uses the E. V. Rieu translation which was first published in 1959.

The two translations are quite different, and the Rieu translation undoubtedly benefited from the existence of Seaton’s translation. He uses that advantage to fairly good effect, by producing a narrative that is easier to read and has a better flow. The Loeb book has the advantage of providing the Greek and English side by side, and in this case seems to follow the Greek more closely.

Looking at just the first sentence, which provides a good example of the difference in translations, we have the following:

Seaton produces the following translation:
“Beginning with thee, O Phoebus, I will recount the famous deeds of men of old, who at the behest of King Pelias, down through the mouth of Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks, sped well-benched Argo in quest of the golden fleece.”

Rieu produces something quite different, he uses part of the narrative to provide an introduction type paragraph, and then a very short sentence to start the narrative:

“Moved by the god of song, I set out to commemorate the heroes of old who sailed the good ship Argo up the Straits into the Black Sea and between the cyanean Rocks in quest of the Golden Fleece

It was King Pelias who sent them out. …”

One can see here that Seaton provides the name of the god of song, while Rieu is more about providing the information than the name of the deity, and that is true throughout the translation, though not to say that he never provides the name, especially with the more well-known deities.

Ultimately, the Penguin Classics edition with the Rieu translation is better suited for a casual read, while the Loeb Classical edition with Seaton’s translation is probably more suited for study, especially considering the Greek and English are side by side. Both editions are decent, but I am left wondering if it is possible to produce a more readable version which also provides more of the depth that one gets with the Loeb translation. ( )
  dave_42 | Oct 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Apollonius dramatically closed the distance between the writer and the reader in what is, arguably, the prototype of a new genre in literature; the poet used the epic form to write a traditional tale of high romance and adventure, but the Argonautica is historically unique in its psychological insight and personal point of view.
 

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Apollonius of Rhodesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Björkeson, IngvarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coleridge, Edward PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cuartero Iborra, Francesc JosepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dietz, NormanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dräger, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Egnéus, DanielIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fränkel, HermannEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fusillo, MassimoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glei, Reinhold F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hadas, MosesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunter, Richard L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kassies, WoltherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linnér, StureForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Natzel-Glei, Stephanie A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norfolk, LawrenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paduano, GuidoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Race, William H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, Émile VictorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seaton, Robert CooperTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slavitt, David R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tassos, A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beginning with thee, O Pheobus, I will recount the famous deeds of men of old, who, at the behest of King Pelias, down through the mouth on Pontus and between the Cyanean rocks, sped well-beched Argo in quest of the golden fleece.
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The Argonautica is the title of two major epics from antiquity: the Argonautica (actually title Ἀργοναυτικά in Greek) of Apollonius of Rhodes is a Greek epic poem written in the 3rd century BCE; and The Argonautica of Gaius Valerius Flaccus is a Latin epic poem written in the 2nd century CE. Both deal with the same basic story, Jason's search for the Golden Fleece.
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The Argonautica is the dramatic story of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece and his relations with the dangerous Colchian princess, Medea. The only extant Greek epic poem to bridge the gap between Homer and late antiquity, it is a major product of the brilliant world of the Ptolemaic courtat Alexandria, written by Apollonius of Rhodes in the 3rd century BC.Apollonius explores many of the fundamental aspects of life in a highly original way: love, deceit, heroism, human ignorance of the diven, the limits of science. This volume offers the first scholarly translation into English prose for many years, combining readability with accuracy and anattention to detail that will appeal to readers both with and without Greek.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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