Accius, Tragedies

LCL 314: 456-457

Go To Section
Go To Section


Medea sive Argonautae

Based perhaps on a play by Sophocles. R., 528 ff. The plot seems to be formed out of the adventures described by Apollonius Rhodius, IV, 303 ff. When Jason and Medea sailed away from Colchis with the golden fleece, Aeetes ordered that they should be pursued. Apsyrtus, son of Aeetes and brother of Medea, came in pursuit with some Colchians to the neighbourhood of the mouth of the Ister (Danube), where the rude tribes had never seen a ship before. When the Argonauts were hard pressed by their enemies, Medea passionately exhorted them to entrust the fleece to Diana until one of the Scythian or Thracian kings should decide whether it must go back to Aeetes or remain in the hands of the Argonauts. Jason


Cicero, de Nat. Deor., II, 35, 89: Ille apud Accium pastor, qui navem numquam ante vidisset, ut procul divinum et novum vehiculum Argonautarum e monte conspexit, primo admirans et perterritus hoc modo loquitur—

Pastor Tanta moles labitur fremibunda ex alto ingenti sonitu et spiritu; prae se undas volvit, vortices vi suscitat; ruit prolapsa, pelagus respergit reflat. 385Ita dum interruptum credas nimbum volvier, dum quod sublime ventis expulsum rapi saxum aut procellis, vel globosos turbines existere ictos undis concursantibus;
  • 382spiritu Prisc. strepitu Cic.
  • 384reflat Prisc. profluit Cic.


Medea or The Argonauts

refused to consent; whereupon Medea suggested that she should entice her own brother Apsyrtus into Jason’s hands, slay him, and so leave the Colchians leaderless. This was decided on; Medea sent gifts to Apsyrtus and trapped him by a promise that she would unfold to him a trick whereby she could return home secretly to Aeetes with the fleece. They met at Diana’s temple on an island, and Jason sprang on Apsyrtus and slew him.

Scene—mouth of the Ister. Chorus of Argonauts (Minyae?). Cf. L. Delage, Mélanges offerts a M. Octave Navarre (1935).

381–96 Approach of the Argo:

Cicero: In Accius your shepherd, who had never yet seen a ship, as from a mountain he spied in the distance the strange and god-built conveyance of the Argonauts, in his first astonishment and great alarm spoke in this manner— a


So huge a mass glides roaring thus from out The deep with mighty blare and blast! In front It billows rolls and swirling eddies stirs; Headlong it hurtles, splashing back, and back Blowing the sea. So came it that you would Believe now that a thundercloud rolled riven, Now that a rock was caught and flung aloft By winds or storms, or round-balled waterspouts Uprose, upbeaten by the brawling billows;

  • aCp. Apoll. Rhod., IV, 316–322.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.accius-tragedies.1936