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Jason and the Golden Fleece (The Argonautica) (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Apollonius of Rhodes , Richard Hunter
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Jun 1998 Oxford World's Classics
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 court at 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 an attention to detail that will appeal to readers both with and without Greek. `Based on a deep understanding of the text, this translation, with informative notes and an excellent introduction, will bring Apollonius to the audience he deserves....' (TLS)

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (18 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192835831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192835833
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.7 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,022,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Based on a deep understanding of the text, this translation, with informative notes and an excellent introduction, will bring Apollonius to the audience he deserves. (TLS)

About the Author

Richard Hunter is a Fellow of Pembroke College, and University Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Taking my start from you, Phoibos, I shall recall the glorious deeds of men of long ago who propelled the well-benched Argo through the mouth of the Pontos and between the Dark Rocks to gain the golden fleece. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip to Colchis.... 7 Feb 2005
I bought this book out of curiosity after having been a big fan of the Ray Harryhausen 'Jaon and the Argonauts' movie for many years. It's surprisingly readable and provides a whole host of mythological wonders and scenarios for the heroes to overcome. The introduction and notes are excellent. The references to Greek mythology and culture in this text are great, but they're more than adequetely explained by the notes (you do need to keep your thumb in the back section as you're reading). I read this purely for interest in Mythology, but I was surprised to find the story becomes quite gripping, particularly toward the end. Overall, a big thumbs up to both Apollonius and Richard Hunter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A revision of Homeric epic 16 Feb 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Written in the C3rd BCE Apollonius' Argonautica revisits and revises Homeric epic and takes a cynical look at the concept of heroism. Here Jason is frequently at a loss, only manages the heroic task through a combination of magic and Medea, and ends up murdering a pursuer - a far cry from either the warlike Achilles or the resourceful Odysseus of epic past.

While being immensely-literarily learned (as is the case with other Hellenistic literature) this is still a good read: full of wonders, magic, adventures and exotic set pieces. But a sense of both past versions of these stories (Euripides' Medea, and his Andromache for the future of the marriage between Peleus and Thetis) as well as future texts which deliberately recall Apollonius (Catullus' c.64, Vergil's Aeneid for another version of the epic hero in Aeneas, and even another Medea in Dido) contextualise this text far better than reading it in isolation.

But even if you're not interested in its literary place, it's still a great mythic tale, well told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Initiation Quest 4 July 2013
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a review of the Oxford World Classics edition of 1998, originally published in 1993. It has been translated and edited by Richard Hunter.

As usual with classic texts, I disregarded Hunter's introduction, vowing to read it after I had read Apollonius's words first. Instead, I went straight to the three maps supplied and was straightaway surprised. For someone like me who comes to the work after having watched avidly as a child (and many times thereafter as an adult) the Harryhausen movie of 1963, I was curious and intrigued to see the maps depicting Jason's return journey from Colchis by a roundabout route via the Danube, Croatia, Lombardy, Provence, Corfu, Libya, and Crete.

"The `Argonautica' is a difficult poem" is Hunter's opening and daunting remark in his preface, perhaps referring to his translation rather than problems for the reader. He continues, "Nevertheless, its importance within ancient literary history is not in doubt, even for those who do not actually like it."

First of all, the prospective reader should be assured that the text is presented in prose form. The first eight pages are indeed, not `difficult' as such, but a chore, a listing of names, ancestry, place of origin, and claim to fame. I'm not sure that the content of Hunter's endnotes makes matters easier for the reader. (Indeed, since there are quite a number of notes per page - seven on the first alone - footnotes would have been better.)

But after sailing, the text of the journey starts to flows in a jerking rhythm. Soon we arrive at Lemnos, where all the women have murdered the males - husbands, fathers, and sons - and now seek to `combine' with the Argonauts to repopulate their society. Hardly Hollywood material!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shorter, sweeter and varied in theme 11 Mar 2006
By Farz_B
Having seen the Jason London movie many years earlier, his face stuck in my mind as the hero for most part of reading this book. This beats the classical mythology canon in Apollonius' shorter, less convoluted and more modern plot, being written some 700 years after Homer. Although the actual mythological plotline is a much older tale than the story of Troy.
I enjoyed this story immensely, and wrote my final essay on the book. It reads much like an adventure/travel story among the hero and his friends, on a voyage to locate/redeem the Golden Fleece. They travel through the Mediterranean and ancient parts of Greece, Europe and Africa, emerging from obstacles and dangers, including the famous crashing rocks. Not withstanding the story's ancience and style of writing, it could easily be adapted to a modern movie setting, or children's flick like 'The Treasure Planet'.
The fourth and final chapter, with the entrance of Medea and her falling for Jason is a classical love story of its times. Read Euripides' 'Medea' to get the more gory, alternative ending to this mythological (happier) tale when Medea and Jason get married, some 10 years down the line.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit on the academic side 26 Jun 2013
By Orrery
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not a book for those who just want to know the story of Jason. It does tell the story, but I suspect that is is targeted more to those who are studying the classics, so it is a bit of a hard slog.
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