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A thousand various thoughti confound the chief,
Ver. 383. Thus in the third book of the Odyssey, Polycaste, the daughter of Nestor, bathes and anoints Telemachus.
Sweet Polycaste took the pleasing toil
To bathe the prince, and pour the fragrant oil.
On which Dr. Broome remarks, that the practice of women bathing and anointing men frequently occurs in the Odyssey: neither is this done by women of inferior quality: but we have h re a young princess bathing, anointing, and clothing the naked Telemachus.
Ver. 494." They were lovely and pleasant in "their lives, and in their death they were notdi. "vided."
3 Sam. (baf>, I. w. 33.
Tut anchor of this poem was the son of Silleus at*! Ideus. H» was born at Alexuidtia in Egypt, and educated under Callimachus: He received the name of Rhodiuv or the Rhodian, either from hi* mother, whose name was Rhoda, or, mere probably, from the city Rhodes. During his stay in this place, he finished his Argonautic poem, and founded a school of rhetoric. Ptolemy Eaergetes, in whose reign our po^t flourished. two hundred and forty-four years before Christ, recalled him from his retirement at Rhodes, and appointed him successor to Eratosthenes in the care of the Alexandrian library. The savours which hit been conferred on Callimachus in the court cf Ptolemy Philadelphia, were continued to him by his successor Ptolemy Euergetes. So that Calliimchus. no les* than'his scholar, was protected sad patronized by his prince- This circumstance, anong <vher«, gave occasion to those jealousies ud dissensions which subsisted between these rival poets. Callimachus is supposed to have alladed, in the following lines, to that invidious spirit which prevailed in hit scholar.
A (fins *Axa>.X*»?flr IV fi*rae Xafyit; uriv,
Call. Hymn, ad Ap v. I05.
For Apolionius, anxious to establish his own reputation, and jealous of his master's, had depreciated those o-iore numerous, but lighter production, in which the muse of Callimachus excelled; epigrams, hymns, and elegies.
It will be no improper introduction to the following poem, to trace the suhjict of it to its soarce: nor can we expect to he guided through its intricacies by a safer clue, than that which the ir.cients have afforded us.
Ino was the wife of Athamas, king of OrchoBerof: from whom he was soon aster divorced, ad married Nephele. BHt she incurring his dis(ieasure, he restored the repudiated lno to his kd. By her he had two children, Learchus and 11 Ijcerta; by Nephele he had Phrixus aud Helle. Uu *h. Id the children of her rival with a jealous I ejr. for tfiey, being the eldest, had a prior I
claim to their father's inheritance. Resolved on their destruction, she concerted the following p'an, as most likely to tffsct it. A grievous famine laying waste the country, it was judged expedient to consult the nracle about the means of suppressing it. Ino having gained over the priests ta her interest, prevailed on them to return this answer: that the tavages of famine could no otherwise be suppicssed, than by the sacrifice of Nephele » children. Phrixus, who was man acquainted with the cruel purpose os Ir.o sri i^H'ed , his vessel with his father's treasure*, and cmbarked with his sister Helle for Colchis, she voyage proved fatal to her; and the sea, into which she sell, was named from her the Hellespont. But Phrixus arrived fif- at Colchis; and was protected from the cruelties -if his step mother Ino, at the coutc of Æetes his kins .ran, who bestowed on him hi« daughter Chase ope. in marriage. Upon his arrival, he c-.nlecrated his ship to Mar- on whose prow was reprefen ed the figure of a ram. This embellishment, it is supposed by some of the hiit ..ians, gave :ise to '.ik siphon, of his having swam to Colchis on the hack of that animal, of his having fitrificed it to M irs, and hung up ic> fleece in the tempi; f that g'd. It is this imaginary fleece which is celebrated by the poets for having given hitth to the expedition of ( the Argonauts. A variety .if whimsical renjectures have been f-rr^ed concerning it. Some ate of opinion, that it was a bonk of shecj' skins, containing the mysteries of the chemic art Other* have assured us, that it signified the riches of t.'te country, with which their rives, that-abounded 111 gold supplied its inhabitants: and tint, from the sheep-skins made uie of in coih:ct.".i< the golden dust, it was called the Golden Vic.ee.
Fur a further illu!tration""ot the sutj. it of 'hi«. poem, it will be necessity to inh.rt ine loll -wing history.
1'yro. the daughter of Salmoticus, had r*o son" by Nepiti' e. Neletu and P-n i-: by C. theus (lie had ÆO n, Phvre> and b»<> > . 14 city of iolco< in I'heflaiy. wfic. Crr.h:b.i't, was the capital cf hi> di-niiu-.cnj. He Its. -.
kingdom at his death to Æson hi» eldest son; but Blade no provision for Pelias. Pelias, however, growing every day more powerful, a' length dethroned Æson. And hearing that his wife Al cimeda was delivered of a son, he was resolutely bent on his destruction. For he had been forewarned by the oracle that he must be dethroned by a prince, descended from Æolus, and who should appear before him with one soot bare. Æson and Alcimeda being informed of the tyrant's intention, conveyed their Ion to mount Pelion, where he was educated by Chiron. Having attained to maturity, he consulted the oracle: who encouraged him to r«pair to the court of lolcos Pelias, heating of the arrival of this stranger, and of the circumstance of his appearance with only one sandal, concluded tha' this must be the person, whom the oracle had foretold. Having made himself and hii situation known to his uncle, Jason demanded of him the crown, which he had so unjustly usurped. Pelias •was greatly alarmed at this requisition. But knowing that a thirst for glory is the darling passion of youth, he contrived to appease his nephew's resentment by disclosing to him the means of gratifying his ambition He assured him, that Phrixus, when he sailed from Orchoinenos, had carried with him a fleece of gold, the possession of which would at the iame time enrich and immortalize him. The proposal had its desired effect Jason signified his acceptance of it, and collected speedily the most illustrious princes of Greece, who were eager to embark in a cause, (hat was at once advantageous and honourable. Who these heroes were, the route they took, the dangers with which they encountered, and the success they met with, are particulars recorded by Apollonius, and on which he has lavished all the graces os poetry.
Such is the history of the Golden Fleece, as dc livered down to us by the ancient poets and historians. This celebrated expedition is generally supposed to be the first era of true history. Sir Isaac Newton places it about forty-three years after the death of Solomon, and nine hundred and thirty-seven years before the birth of Christ. He apprehends, that the Greeks, hearing of the distractions of Egypt, sent the most'renowsted heroes of'their country in the ship Argo, to persuade the nations on the coast of the Euxine sea to throw off the Egyptian yoke, as the Lybia'ns, Ethiopians, and Jews had before done. Bat Mr. Bryant has given us a far different account of this nutter in his very learned system of mythology: whose sentiments on this head 1 have endeavoured to collect, and have ventured to give them a place In this preface- For the novelty of his hypothesis, and the learning and ingenuity with which it is supported, cannot sail to entertain and instruct ui.
The main plot, says the learned and ingenious xnythologise, as it is transmitted to us, is certainly a fable, and replete with inconsistencies and contradictions. Yet many writers, ancient and modern, have taken the account in gross; aud with
out hesitation, or exception to any particular psrt, have presumed to fix the time of this transaction, And having satisfied themselves in this point, they have presumed to make use of it for a stated era. Mr. Bryant is of opinion, that this history, upon which Sir Isaac Newton built so much, did certainly not relate to Greece; though adopted by the people of that country. He contends, that Sir Isaac's calculation rested npon a weak foundation That it is doubtful, whether such persons as Chiron or Mulxus ever existed; and still more doubtful, whether they formed a sphere for the Argonauts He produces many arguments to convince us, that the expedition itself was not i Grtciap operation; and that this sphere at any rate was not a Grecian work: and if not from Greece, it must certainly be the produce of Egypt, For the astronomy of Greece confessedly cam: from that country: consequently the hisLry to which it alludes, must have been from the fane quarter. Many of the constellations, fays our author, are of Egyptian original. The zodiac, which Sir Isaac Newton supposed to relate to the Argonautic expedition, was, he asserts, an assemblage of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
After having enumerated all the particular! ef their voyage, the different routes they art sopposed to have taken, and the many inconSflri.Ki with which the whole story abounds, Mr. Bryant proceeds to observe, that the mythology, »«U as the rites of Greece, wars borrowed from EgTT"'> and that it was founded upon ancient histories, which had been transmuted in hicroglyphical representations. Theft, by length of time, became obscure; and the sign was taken for tb» reality and accordingly explained Hence arose the sabli about the bull of Kuropa, and the like. In a. these is the fame history under a different allegor] and emblem. In the wanderings of Rhca, Ifu Astarte, Inna and Damater, is figured out the se paration of mankind by their families, and tbei journeying to their places of allotment. At tb fame time, the dispersion of one particular rat of men, and their flight over the face of the carts is principally described. Of this family were th persons, who preserved the chief memorials of th ark in the Gentile world. They represented under different emblems, and called it Demate Pyrrha, Selene, Meen, Argo, Argus, Arenas, an Archaius, or Afchite. The Grecians, proceet the learned writer, by taking this story of th Argo to themselves, have plunged into nunibei less difficulties. Hi the account of the Argo, « have undeniably the history of a sacred ship, il first that was eVer constructed. This truth tl best writers among the Grecians confess, tfci tf the merit of the performance they would fain tal to themselves. Yet after all their prejudices, the continually betray the truth, and show that th history was derived to them from Egypt. Th caule of all the! mistakes in this curious piece of n ;. thdlogy arose from hence. The Arkites, who cam into Greece, settled in many parts, but especially i Argolis and Thessatia; where they introduce their rites and worship. In the former of these si