William Morris Archive

Annotations for Book IX

IX. Absyrtus: Absyrtus or Apsyrtus was the son of Aeetes and brother of Medea and Chalciope. Accounts differ over whether he was murdered by Medea or by Jason.

IX.3 Medea: In mythology granddaughter of the sun-god Helios and and daughter of Aeëtes, king of Colchian Aea and his wife Eidyia; by tradition intelligent, crafty and learned in magical lore.

IX.4 goodlihead: goodly appearance; comeliness, beauty

IX.34 Hecate: A popular goddess from the time of Hesiod until late antiquity, Hecate was originally a mother-goddess associated with the wilderness and childbirth, but by the fifth century she was associated with magic and witchcraft, the moon, darkness, and creatures of the night.

IX.41 forsooth: in truth, truly

IX.54 guile: to deceive

IX.108 Enna: City and province in central Sicily; in classical mythology, Enna contained the meadow from which Proserpina was allegedly abducted by Pluto, and hence was a center for the worship of Ceres and Proserpina. See Map 5, AB, 6/7.

IX.111 Venus: Major goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, comparable to the Greek Aphrodite. She is variously described as the daughter of Zeus and Dione, or of Uranus and Gaia, and was the consort of Vulcan.

IX.130 crest: highest point; here, raised portion on top of dragon's head

IX.144 well-nigh: very nearly, almost wholly or entirely

IX.145 adown: to a lower place or situation; downward, down

IX.166 Neptune: Neptune is the god of the sea in Roman mythology. He is analogous but not identical to the Greek Poseidon. His festival Neptunalia, at which tents were made from the branches of trees, was held July 23rd, and two temples to his honor were built in Rome. Neptune was also associated with fresh water, as opposed to Oceanus, god of the world-ocean, and like Poseidon, he served a secondary role as a horse god, Neptune Equester, patron of horse-racing.

IX.167 Athamas: Legendary king of Orchomenos, son of Aeolus and father of Phryxus and Helle. He married first Nephele (a cloud-goddess), then Ino daughter of Cadmus. Ino became jealous of his children by Nephele, and arranged for an oracle to demand their sacrificial deaths. They escaped on a winged golden ram, headed toward Colchis, but Helle fell into the ocean. Phryxus survived to reach Colchis, where he was murdered by King Pelias who coveted the ram's Golden Fleece. The implication is that Jason is seizing something which originally belonged to his homeland.

IX.180 afeard: affected with fear or terror; frightened, afraid

IX.182 meed: In early use, something given in return for labour or service; wages, hire; recompense, reward, deserts. Later: a reward or prize given for excellence or achievement; a person's deserved share of (praise, honour, etc.).

IX.184 beechen bower: beechwood enclosure

IX.186 nought: nothing, not anything

IX.212 erst: soonest, first in order of time, before

IX.212 As he who erst on Hermes' shadowy track: a reference to Orpheus's loss of Eurydice.

In mythology, Hermes was the messenger of the Olympian gods, conductor of souls to the underworld, and versatile deity of boundaries and travellers, shepherds and cowherds, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics, weights and measures, invention, commerce in general, and the cunning of thieves and liars. According to legend, he was the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia (a daughter of the Titan Atlas), born on Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia.

Hermes is a god of abundance, fertility, and prosperity. His pastoral incarnation, especially popular in Boeotia and Arcadia, is as the patron of herdsmen and of the fruitfulness of herds and flocks. He is also sometimes associated with horses and with trade. Hermes' symbols were the rooster and the tortoise, and he was often represented as carrying a purse or pouch, wearing winged sandals and a winged cap, and bearing a herald's staff.

IX.218 anear: close by, approaching closely, adv.

IX.228 baying: that bays; deep-barking

IX.229 natheless: nevertheless, notwithstanding

IX.237 Erginus: here, the Argonauts' second helmsman, a native of Miletus and legendary son of Neptune

IX.238 Lacedaemon: A son of Jupiter and Taygeta the daughter of Atlas. Lacedæmon married Sparta, the daughter of Eurotas, and their children were Amyclas and Eurydice, later the wife of Acrisius. He was the first to introduce the worship of the Graces in Laconia, and he built them a temple. The chief city of Laconia, Sparta, was also called Lacedæmon after Laedæmon and his wife. For Sparta, see Map 3, E7.

IX.242 Thessaly: A district of northern Greece which consists of two large and level plains separated by low mountains. See Map 1, EF3, E2.

IX.250 burthen: a ‘load’ (whether of man, animal, vehicle, etc.) considered as a weight, a burden

IX.256 loiter: In early use: to idle, waste one's time in idleness. Now only with more specific meaning: To linger indolently on the way when sent on an errand or when making a journey; to linger idly about a place; to waste time when engaged in some particular task, to dawdle.

IX.260 bewail: to express great sorrow for; to lament loudly, mourn

IX.261 turret: A small or subordinate tower, usually one forming part of a larger structure; esp. a rounded addition to an angle of a building, sometimes commencing at some height above the ground, and freq. containing a spiral staircase.

IX.264 dight: arrayed, dressed

IX.266 hawse-hole: That part of the bows of a ship in which the hawse-holes are cut for the cables to pass through; hence, sometimes, in pl., the hawse-holes themselves.

IX.270 Nauplius: Two personages bear this name, one the Argonaut and son of Neptune, and ancestor of Nauplius, the ruler of Nauplia and father of Oeax and Palamedes, who died in the Trojan War from Greek treachery.

IX.271 taut: tightly drawn, as by longitudinal tension; stiff, tense, not slack

IX.288 Argo: With Athena's help Jason had a marvellous ship, the Argo, built; the tradition that the Argo was actually the first ship is first found in Euripides.

IX.299 Orpheus: great Oeager’s son: i.e. Orpheus, legendary Thracian singer and founder of Orphism, whose doctrines and myths were conveyed through poems. Aeschylus and Euripides assert that his songs charmed trees, wild beasts and even stones as well as humans. In vase and wall paintings, even in the Catacombs, he is often represented singing.

The best-known myth associated with him recounts that when his wife Eurydice was killed by a snakebite, Orpheus descended to the Underworld and persuaded its lord to allow him to bring her back on the condition that he should not turn round and look at her before they reached the upper world, and when he did so, she vanished into Hades forever. Morris recounts this myth in an unpublished Earthly Paradise tale, "The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice."

IX.304 dell: a small deep natural hollow or vale, the sides usually covered with trees or foliage

IX.305 afield: to the field

IX.318 raiment: clothing, clothes, dress, apparel

IX.332 foundress: a female founder

IX.335 wan: lacking light, or lustre; dark-hued, dusky, gloomy, dark

IX.346 scape: escape

IX.346 meed: a reward, recompense; in a negative sense: to bribe

IX.355 turbid: of liquid, thick or opaque with suspended matter; not clear; cloudy, muddy

IX.364 Arcas: In mythology, a son of Jupiter and Callisto, after whom Arcadia was named, and who taught its inhabitants the skills of agriculture and spinning wool. Juno, enraged at her husband's seduction/rape of Callisto, turned the latter into a bear, whom Arcas almost killed by accident. Zeus took pity on the pair and placed them in the constellations Ursa Major (Callisto) and Ursa Minor (Arcas) respectively.

IX.365 clomb: climbed

IX.368 nowise: in no way or manner; not at all

IX.369 unfoughten: unfought

IX.370 wilt: to become limp; to lose energy or vigor; to become dispirited or nerveless

IX.376 bulwarks: walls or embankments used as fortifications, ramparts

IX.379 hearken: to apply the mind to what is said; to attend, have regard; to listen with sympathy or docility

IX.402 whelps: young offspring of a mammal, such as a dog or wolf

IX.404 smote: struck, past tense of smite

IX.411 sea-girt: surrounded by the sea, as e.g., a peninsula or island

IX.416 drave: past tense of drive

IX.436 bides: awaits