"So when the first bold vessel dared the seas, High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain, While Argo saw her kindred trees Descend from Pelion to the main. Transported demigods stood round, And men grew heroes at the sound."
In Dyer's poem of The Fleece there is an account of the ship Argo and her crew, which gives a good picture of this primitive maritime adventure:
"From every region of Aegea's shore The brave assembled; those illustrious twins, Castor and Pollux; Orpheus, tuneful bard; Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed; Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned. On deep Iolcos' sandy shore they thronged, Gleaming in armor, ardent of exploits; And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark; Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt; And in the extended keel a lofty mast Upraised, and sails full swelling; to the chiefs Unwonted objects. Now first, now they learned Their bolder steerage over ocean wave, Led by the golden stars, as Chiron's art Had marked the sphere celestial."
Hercules left the expedition at Mysia, for Hylas, a youth beloved by him, having gone for water, was laid hold of and kept by the nymphs of the spring, who were fascinated by his beauty. Hercules went in quest of the lad, and while he was absent the Argo put to sea and left him. Moore, in one of his songs, makes a beautiful allusion to this incident:
"When Hylas was sent with his urn to the fount, Through fields full of light and with heart full of play, Light rambled the boy over meadow and mount, And neglected his task for the flowers in the way.
"Thus many like me, who in youth should have tasted The fountain that runs by Philosophy's shrine, Their time with the flowers on the margin have wasted, And left their light urns all as empty as mine."
But Hercules, as some say, went onward to Colchis by land, and there performed many mighty deeds, and wiped away the stain of cowardice which might have clung to him.
Amid the rejoicings for the recovery of the golden Fleece, Jason felt that one thing was wanting, the presence of AESON, his father, who was prevented by his age and infirmities from taking part in them. Jason said to Medea, "My wife, I would that your arts, whose power I have seen so mighty for my aid, could do me one further service, and take some years from my life to add them to my father's." Medea replied, "Not at such a cost shall it be done, but if my art avails me, his life shall be lengthened without abridging yours." The next full moon she issued forth alone, while all creatures slept; not a breath stirred the foliage, and all was still. To the stars she addressed her incantations, and to the moon; to Hecate (Hecate was a mysterious divinity sometimes identified with Diana and sometimes with Proserpine. As Diana represents the moonlight splendor of night, so Hecate represents its darkness and terrors. She was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, and was believed to wander by night along the earth, seen only by the dogs whose barking told her approach.), the goddess of the underworld, and to Tellus, the goddess of the earth, by whose power plants potent for enchantments are produced. She invoked the gods of the woods and caverns, of mountains and valleys, of lakes and rivers, of winds and vapors. While she spoke the stars shone brighter, and presently a chariot descended through the air, drawn by flying serpents. She ascended it, and, borne aloft, made her way to distant regions, where potent plants grew which she knew how to select for her purpose. Nine nights she employed in her search, and during that time came not within the doors of her palace nor under any roof, and shunned all intercourse with mortals.