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Jason and the Golden Fleece (The Argonautica) (Oxford Worlds Classics) 1st , Kindle Edition
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|Length: 224 pages||Word Wise: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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!Read more ›
Yes there’s a nice simile in Book Three describing Medea’s pangs of love for Jason – “As when a sunbeam, which is reflected out of water that has just been poured into a bowl or a bucket, dances inside a house and darts this way and that as it is shaken in the rapid swirl, so did the young girl’s heart quiver in her breast” the love affair and the harnessing of the bulls are the highlights of the work.
But with the exception of Book Three, the rest of it is otherwise rather dull. Jason is also not the most courageous and resourceful of heroes. And when it came to the episode of the Harpies and Phineus, I yearned for the film version where those winged creatures are captured using a large net.
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.
One of the elements of Jason that works well is that it is not just about the lead character. A few of the Argonauts crop up regularly and while Jason is clearly the lead hero, his is a band of followers that merit their own characters. As they are not faceless, their actions and roles impact on the rest of the team. The deaths of two characters early on in this snippet plunges the Argonauts into grief. Too often elsewhere, the death of a comrade has no real meaning but here such depth of feeling demonstrates a kinship worth being a part of.
The action sequences are great from the very beginning of the snippet when Argonaut Polydeuces takes on King Amycus in a boxing match. While this is not a blow-by-blow account, it is a great rendition of martial sport told by a writer who clearly understood what he was talking about. Apollonius is also wise to include the gods but to not deliver them an automaticity in that they too are striving for success. This is a useful reminder of the Greek understanding of the world in that reliance on divine intervention alone could not be enough for success.
Romance is not always easy but Apollonius hits some terrific notes between Medea and Jason. His depiction of the passion that Medea holds within her after Eros has hit her with love's arrow is highly believable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Echoing some of the other reviewers who have pointed out that the Kindle edition is not what it says, but expanding ... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Starwalker
Growing up on classic mythology movies, this was a must read. Brought home childhood memories and made them vibrant and vivid.Published 10 months ago by Den
The intro was unnecessarily long and complex such that I found it discouraging at times to read the actual story. Read morePublished 21 months ago by ebrkn
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... Read morePublished on 26 Jun. 2013 by Orrery
As has been mentioned before, the 'Kindle edition' here is not the Oxford World Classics version. It is in fact a ripped-off version of R. C. Read morePublished on 11 Mar. 2012 by J. E. S. Leake
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