ページの画像
PDF
ePub

my elbow one of the most popular manuals published upon the Sunday-school lessons of the current year. I look over its pages, and I find that the author seeks to inculcate religious truth through the aid of the myths of Cadmus and the dragon's teeth, the gardens of the Hesperides, the ring of Gyges, the punishment of Prometheus, and the songs of the Sirens. In a word, a familiar acquaintance with these old-time traditions is necessary to a liberal education.

In Jason's QUEST the story of one of the oldest and most interesting myths — the Argonautic Expedition in search of the Golden Fleece — is told with a fulness of detail which, I think, has never been attempted for young readers. Many allied myths are outlined in passing, and the constant endeavor is made to arouse the interest of the reader in others of importance, so that he may investigate them for himself.

An Appendix at the end of the volume shows where one may find, in his maturer years, the originals of the story which he must now take through the medium of a translator, and a carefully prepared Index makes the whole available as a book of reference.

In the preparation of this work, I have found it a delightful, and well-nigh necessary, task to consult and carefully compare the ancient narratives of the Argonautic Expedition as given by Apollodorus, Apollonius Rhodius, Diodorus Siculus, Hyginus, the pseudo-Orpheus, Pindar, and Valerius Flaccus. While so doing I have come to agree heartily with what Dr. Wm. Smith says in his great, but sometimes erroneous,' three-volume “ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology:" —

“ There is scarcely any other adventure in the ancient stories of Greece, the detail of which has been so differently related by poets of all kinds."

The learned mythologist, Jacob Bryant, also says (" Analysis of Antient Mythology,” v. 2, p. 491), “Some references to the Argonautic Expedition are interspersed in most of the writings of the antients, but there is scarce a circumstance concerning it in which they are agreed.”

In this story of Jason's Quest, no attempt is made to harmonize, or even mention, all the varying accounts, though some of the most striking differences are recorded in the notes. The chief object has been to produce a story that shall be both attractive and helpful to children and youth, and possibly to some of larger growth who have not quite outgrown their youthfulness, or love of folk-lore and fairy tales.

In order to do this, and to give an air of reality

1 E. g. In the duel between Amycus and Polydeuces (Art. Argonautae) he says it is the latter who is slain!

and continuity to the whole, I have not scrupled to combine the statements of various classic writers. But I have omitted many points of discord, and in a few cases, where even then the chain of events seemed irreparably broken, I have imitated the tragic poets and forged a connecting link.

Beyond this confession I have no apology except a quotation from Diodorus Siculus.

After stating that when the Argonauts approached Salmydessus, Phineus went out to fight them and was slain by Heracles, — an account widely different from that which I have recorded on pp. 107-113,the last-named writer adds (B. iv. 44, 5.): –

“ I am not ignorant that some mythographers pretend that Phineus had put out his children's eyes, and that he received a similar treatment at the hands of Boreas. Certain others also say that Heracles, having landed in search of water, had been left behind on the coast of Asia by the Argonauts; in a word, the ancient myths are far from being in accord with each other. This is why one should not be astonished if some of the facts which I relate are not consistent with the accounts of all the poets and historians.”

My thanks are especially due to the well-known artist Mr. C. W. Reed, who has thrown his soul into the work of illustrating the text. With his graphic pencil he has lent a spirit and a color to the narrative which any words of mine would be powerless to impart. His work has been ably presented herein, through the genius of Messrs. J. P. Simonds & Co., of Boston, photo-engravers. Their fidelity of reproduction and carefulness of detail have been a delight to both artist and author.

I am also deeply grateful to Mr. William C. Collar, Headmaster of the Roxbury Latin School, for valuable suggestions and helpful criticisms.

D. 0. S. LOWELL. Boston, APRIL, 1893.

« 前へ次へ »