William Morris Archive

Annotations for Book VII

VII Medea: In mythology, granddaughter of Helios and daughter of Aeëtes, king of Colchian Aea and his wife Eidyia; by tradition intelligent, crafty and learned in magical lore.

VII.3 Aeetes: Mythological founder and king of Aea/Colchis, a son of the sun-god Helios and the nymph Perseis (daughter of Oceanus), and brother of Circe and Pasiphae. Aeetes was the father of Medea, Apsyrtus, and Chalciope, by Idya, one of the Oceanides. As narrated in Book II, he killed Phryxus son of Athamas, who had fled to his court on a golden ram. See Map 5, L3/4.

VII.14 Fleece: As narrated, King Pelias of Iolcus sought to rid himself of the threat to his kingship posed by the legitimate heir Jason by sending the latter off to recover the fleece of a golden ram upon which Phrixus had fled to the fabulous kingdom of the sun, Aia, ruled over by King Aeëtes.

VII.29 anigh: near

VII.34 dais: The raised platform at one end of a hall for the high table, or for seats of honor, a throne, or the like: often surmounted by a canopy.

VII.44 golden fell: golden fleece

VII.45 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 Hellespont. 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.

VII.54 Pontus: A region of northern Asia Minor on the southern coast of the Black Sea with a series of mountain ranges with deep valleys running parallel to the coast. Today it is located in Turkey. See Map 5, J4.

VII.56 enow: enough

VII.59 God of War: Ares, the Greek war-god, was the embodiment of the destructive forces of life, in contrast to Athena, who represented their intelligent and orderly use to defend the polis.

VII.62 heath: Open uncultivated ground; an extensive tract of wasteland; a wilderness; now chiefly applied to a bare, more or less flat, tract of land, naturally clothed with low herbage and dwarf shrubs, esp. with the shrubby plants known as heath, heather or ling.

VII.67 seven keys of the shrine: In some systems of numerology, seven was the number of completion.

VII.74 writhe: to twist, to move with a twisting or contorting motion

VII.88 betwixt: between

VII.99 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.

VII.120 withal: in addition; besides; moreover; likewise; as well

VII.127 Adown: in a descending direction upon or along

VII.149 enow: enough

VII.184 flit: swift, nimble, quickly-moving

VII.190 silken fret: woven with an interlaced design, as in fretwork furniture ornamentation

VII.193 millet seeds: small cereal seeds from grasses planted annually for food or animal forage

VII.196 O Three-formed: Hecate, goddess of magic and the night, whom Medea is here worshipping, was often believed to have three spirits: Selene/Luna, the moon goddess in the heavens; Artemis/Diana, the woodland huntress, on earth; and Persephone/Proserpina, spouse of Pluto in the underworld.

VII.209 flinty windings: stony pathways

VII.212 raiment: clothing, clothes, dress, apparel

VII.215 Delos: A small island (3 sq. km.: 1.2 sq. mi.) between Myconos and Rheneia, regarded in antiquity as the centre of the Cyclades, and birthplace of Artemis and of Apollo, one of whose chief temples stood there. See Map 1, H6.

VII.215 Argos: Country and city in the southern part of the Argive plain 5 km. (3 mi.) from the sea, at the foot of the Larissa hill which was occupied in prehistoric, through classical, Hellenistic, Frankish and Turkish times. See Map 3, F4/5.

VII.215 Carian: Caria was a mountainous region inhabited by the Carians in SW Asia Minor (western Anatolia) south of the Maeander River, northwest of Lycia and west of Phyrgia, with Greek cities Cnidus and Halicarnassus occupying the salient peninsulas and mixed communities on the shores of the gulfs. Until the 4th century B. C. E. the pastoral Carians lived mainly in hilltop villages grouped under native dynasties (some of which paid tribute to the Athenian empire in the 5th century) and organized round sanctuaries, the principal seat being Mylasa. They preserved their language until Hellenistic times. See Map 1, L6.

VII.217 unshod: barefooted

VII.230 trim-shod huntress: Artemis, goddess of the hunt and of the moon

VII.267 phial: A vessel for holding liquids; any of various types of containers for liquids, esp. drinks.

VII.282 yew wood: A hard, durable, and relatively water-resistant wood, the yew was used for weapons in the ancient world.

VII.289 sedge: Any of several grasslike plants of the family Cyperaceae, having solid stems, leaves in three vertical rows, and spikelets of inconspicuous flowers.

VII.299 shallop: A flat-bottomed, slow-moving boat used for leisure.

VII.306 Jove: ("Almighty Jove," "The Saving Jove,"),  English variant for Jupiter, Roman god who served the same functions as did Zeus in Greek mythology.

VII.335 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.

VII.379 Temple of the Fleece: Morris has made Aretes say clearly (Bk. IV, ll. 123) that the fleece hangs in the Temple of the Far-Darter, i. e. the Sun. The Argonautica (Bk. IV, ll. 120-60) and other ancient sources, however, usually place it in a grove (not a temple), sometimes sacred to Ares.