William Morris Archive

Annotations for Book VIII

VIII.4 fain: desirous, inclined, willing; here, in the hope that

VIII.7 raiment: clothing

VIII.10 pall: cloth, robe

VIII.13 Æetes: Mythological founder and king of Aea, a son of the sun-god Helios and the nymph Perseis (daughter of Oceanus), and brother of Circe and Pasiphae. Æetes was the father of Medea, Apsyrtus, and Chalciope, by Idya, one of the Oceanides. [As it was already narrated] he killed Phryxus son of Athamas, who had fled to his court on a golden ram. For Aea, see map 5, L3.

VIII.13 Minyae: In mythology, a name given to the inhabitants of Orchomenos, in Boeotia, from Minyas, legendary king of the country. Of the two great centers of legends, Thebes, with its Cadmean population, was a military stronghold, and Orchomenos a commercial center; here, the Argonauts, led by Jason of Iolchos. For Boeotian Orchomenos, see Map 2, H6.

VIII.32 Colchian folk: Inhabitants of Colchis, a large area along the eastern Black Sea coast. The Colchian culture flourished from around 1200 to 600 BC, and was a late Bronze Age and Iron Age civilization of the western Caucasus, mostly in present-day western Georgia. See Map 5, L4.

VIII.46 dight: built (in order to adorn)

VIII.52 Mars: In mythology, Mars was the tutelary deity of Rome and god of war, son of Jupiter and Juno, and legendary father of Romulus, the founder of Rome, and thus by extension, of all Romans. Initially, he was the Roman god of fertility and vegetation and protector of boundaries, but was later associated with Ares, the Greek god of war, and with battle.

VIII.58 twain: two (i. e. Medea and Æetes)

VIII.65 therefrom: from that place, from there

VIII.67 clangorous: noisy, ringing

VIII.73 corslet: a piece of defensive armor covering the torso of the body

VIII.74 King Phineus: The best known of several mythological persons so named was Thracian king. At Zeus’s instigation, he was plagued by the Harpies; since they stole or defiled all his food, he had nearly starved to death by the time the Argonauts arrived at his land.

VIII.76 Salmydessa: Actual ancient Thracian city west of the Black Sea (now Kirklareli, Turkey), erroneously located on the Propontis in the myth involving King Phineus and the Argonauts. See Map 5, G4/5.

VIII.81 helm: That part of the armor which covers the head; a helmet

VIII.83 scabbard: The case or sheath which serves to protect the blade of a sword, dagger, or bayonet when not in use

VIII.86 mien: air, bearing or demeanor

VIII.93 Juno: Roman goddess of women and civic virtue, an old and important Italian goddess and one of the chief deities of Rome. Her name derives from the same root as iuventas (youth), and she served both as a goddess of women and as a civic deity.

VIII.98 fallow: land left uncultivated for a time to recover its fertility before plowing it again

VIII.99 nowise: in no way or manner; not at all

VIII.108 wicket: A small door or gate made in, or placed beside, a large one, for ingress and egress when the large one is closed; also, any small gate for foot passengers, as at the entrance of a field or other enclosure.

VIII.112 hardihead: hardiness, strength

VIII.135 Anaurus: A river of Thessaly, near the foot of mount Pelion, where Jason lost one of his sandals. Morris would have found this detail in Lemprière. See Map 2, C6.

VIII.153 wan: pale

VIII.179 Euboea: Euboea was a large Aegean island, also called Long Island (Makris) since it stretched from the Gulf of Pagasae to Andros. See Map 4, H-K, 6-9.

VIII.181 Neptune: Neptune is the god of the sea, analogous but not identical to the Greek Poseidon. Neptune was also associated with fresh water, as opposed to Oceanus, god of the world-ocean.

VIII.191 unholpen: unhelped

VIII.195 askance: from the side, suspiciously, with disapproval or distrust

VIII.217 Æa: Æa was the capital of ancient Colchis, along the Rioni river; its current name is Kutaisi, in Georgia. See Map 5, L3.

VIII.224 trod: past tense of tread; walked firmly

VIII.226 Godhead: the character or quality of being God or a god; divine nature or essence; deity

VIII.239 whatso: whatever

VIII.243 Mars: In mythology, Mars was tutelary deity of Rome and god of war, son of Jupiter and Juno, and legendary father of Romulus, the founder of Rome, and thus by extension, of all Romans. Initially he was the Roman god of fertility and vegetation and protector of boundaries, but was later associated with Ares, the Greek god of war, and with battle.

VIII.286 foughten: fought

VIII.297 Bursten: burst

VIII.297 asunder: separated, divided

VIII.298 clang: to emit a loud resonant ringing sound as of pieces of metal struck together, etc.

VIII.315 smitten: beaten, struck

VIII.326 pennon: a pennant, banner or flag

VIII.331 smite: to administer a blow to (a person, etc.) with the hand, a stick, or the like; to strike or hit; to beat or buffet; to slap or smack

VIII.339 queller: one who overpowers or subdues

VIII.344 satiate: satisfy

VIII.355 flit: fluttering or darting

VIII.365 Jove: English variant for Jupiter, Roman god who served the same functions as did Zeus in Greek mythology. A patron deity of the Roman state, he ruled over laws and social order, and along with his wife Juno and Minerva, goddess of wisdom, formed a “Capitoline Triad.” By legend he was the father of Mars and grandfather of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The name Jupiter derives from a compound form of the words “Iovis” and “pater,” father. He gave his name to Thursday (Iovis Dies). The largest temple in Rome was that of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill, where he was worshipped with Juno and Minerva, with whom he formed the Capitoline Triad. Temples to Juppiter Optimus Maximus or the Capitoline Triad as a whole were also often built at the center of new cities in Roman colonies. In ancient rome, people swore to Jove in courts of law, from whence arose the expression "By Jove.”

VIII.369 Saturn: Saturn was a major deity, identified with the Greek Cronus. His wife was Ops, and his children included Ceres (goddess of the harvest), Jupiter, his successor, Hestia, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, among others. He gave his name to Saturday (dies Saturni).

A prophecy foretold that Saturn would be deposed by one of his children. To prevent this, he ate each of his children as soon as they were born, but Ops (Rhea) managed to spirit Jupiter away to the island of Crete upon birth, and gave Saturn a stone to swallow instead. When grown, Jupiter attacked his father, forcing him to regurgitate the swallowed siblings, and with the help of Prometheus and his fellow Olympians conquered the heavens. Saturn fled to Rome, establishing a temporary Golden Age and time of peace (Aeneid, trans. William Morris, Bk. VIII, 319-28; Virgil based this on the tradition that the exiled god Saturn was the founder of agriculture, a role that made Saturn establish a Golden Age in Italy to which he supposedly fled).

VIII.369 clime: Probably the Golden Age established by Saturn, mentioned in the preceding note.

VIII.379 keel: The lowest longitudinal timber of a ship or boat, on which the framework of the whole is built up; in boats and small vessels forming a prominent central ridge on the under surface.

VIII.380 wary: given to caution, habitually on one's guard against danger, deception, or mistake; circumspect

VIII.400 quay: An artificial bank or landing-place, built of stone or other solid material, lying along or projecting into a navigable water for convenience of loading and unloading ships.

VIII.401 Argo: With Athena's help Jason had a marvelous ship, the Argo, built; the tradition that the Argo was actually the first ship is first found in Euripides. The greatest heroes of the age gathered to join Jason on the voyage.

VIII.415 Nestor: In Greek mythology, Nestor, the son of Neleus and Chloris, was king of Pylos, husband of Eurydice (a different Eurydice than the wife of Orpheus), and father of Peisistratus and others. Noted for his wisdom and hospitality, Nestor helped fight the centaurs, participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt, and joined the Argonauts. He and his sons Antilochus and Thrasymedes fought on the side of the Achaeans in the Trojan War, and though old, he served with courage and skill. In the Iliad he is portrayed as giving advice to younger warriors, and advises Agamemnon and Achilles to reconcile. In the Odyssey, he is represented as having returned safely to Pylos, and Odysseus’s son Telemachus travels to Pylos to seek his advice.

VIII.416 Butes: Supposed founding ancestor of a family which provided priestesses of Athena and priests of Erechtheus.

VIII.417 Philas: Argonaut and son of Dionysus and Chthonophyle, a native of Araithyrea, here presented as a wine-growing country.

VIII.420 manifold delight: delight many times over, in multiple forms

VIII.449 King 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.

VIII.450 Phryxus: The story of Phryxus and Helle had been recounted in Book II. The son of Athamas, king of Orchomenos (Boetia), and his wife Nephele, Phryxus/Phrixus and his sister Helle were intended victims of a plot by his second wife Ino, mother of Learchus and Melicertes.

Ino sought to have them made human sacrifices, but they escaped on the back of a magic winged ram which set out with them on his back toward Colchis on the Euxine Sea. En route, Helle fell into the Hellespont but Phryxus survived to kill the ram as a sacrifice and place the fleece in his home, but King Aetes of Colchis killed him in order to steal the fleece and place it in a temple to Mars within his royal palace, where it was guarded by a dragon.