BOOK IV - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
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Page 157 concerning Medea; therefore we shall now proceed with what remains of the History of the Argonauts.

Many both of the Ancient and Modern Writers (amongst whom is Timaeus) report that the Argonauts (after the carrying away of the Golden Fleece) coming to understand that Aeetes had blockt up the Mouth of Pontus with his Fleet, to prevent their return, perform'd that which was wonderfully remarkable: For it's said, they sail'd up to the Head of the River Tanais, and there drew the Ship a considerable way over Land into another River that ran into the Ocean, and so fell down that way into the Sea; and then bending their Course from the North to the West, leaving the Continent on their Left-Hand, they at length enter'd our Sea near Gades: And to confirm this, they use these Arguments.

First, that the Celts, the Inhabitants near the Ocean, do adore Castor and Pollux above all the rest of the Gods; for amongst these Celts, there's an ancient Tradition, that these Gods appear'd, and came to them out of the Ocean: And they affirm, that there are several Places near the Sea, that had their Names from the Argonauts and the Dioscuri, which remain still to this Day; and that within the Continent beyond Gades, there are apparent Marks and Signs of the return of the Argonauts: For sailing by Tyrrhenia, and arriving at a certain Island call'd Aethalia, there's a Spacious Haven, was call'd by them Argo, from the Name of their Ship, which Name the Port retains to this Day: And that there is another Harbour in Hetruria, Eight Hundred Furlongs from Rome, which they nam'd Telamon, and that the Port at the City Formia into Italy they call'd Aeetes, which is now nam'd Caieta.

They further say, that being driven upon the Quick-sands in Lybia, by a Violent Tempest, they were inform'd by Triton the King, of the nature of the Sea in those Parts, and how to avoid the Danger; for which Kindness they presented him with a Brass Tripode, on which were inscrib'd very ancient Characters, which not long since it's said was amongst the Hesperians.

We are not here to omit refuting those Historians, that affirm the Argonauts sailing through the River Ister to the Spring-heads below, pass'd through the Channel there straight before them into the Adriatick Gulf. But Time has now clearly manifested the mistakes of those Authors, who thought that that Ister which disimbogues itself by several Mouths into the Pontick-Sea, and that other which falls into Adria, rise from one and the same Spring-head. For since the Conquest of Istria by the Romans, it's known by experience, that the Fountainheads of this River, are not above Forty Furlongs from the Sea: But the Identity of Rivers Names has been the occasion of Historians Mistakes.

Having now insisted long enough upon the Acts of Hercules, and the Argonauts, it's requisite according to my Promise, to relate the Actions of his Sons.

After the Translation of Hercules to the Gods, his Children dwelt in Trachinia, with Ceyces the King. When Hyllus and some of the rest were grown up to Mens Estates, Eurystheus began to fear, lest when they were all grown up, he should be ejected out of the Kingdom of Micaena: Therefore he resolv'd to expel the Heraclides out of all parts of Greece. To this end he requir'd Ceyces, to banish the Heraclides and the Posterity of Licymnius, together with Iolaus and the Arcadian Regiments (that assisted Hercules in his Expeditions) out of his Dominions, and threatned him that if he did not he would proclaim War against him.

Hereupon the Heraclides and their Friends, considering they were not able to contend with him, resolv'd to fly from Trachine of their own accord: Making therefore away to other Cities more wealthy and considerable, they desir'd Residence amongst them: But none durst receive them but the Athenians, who out of their natural Generosity, entertain'd them, and gave them and their Friends Habitations in Tricorynthus, which is one of the Four Cities of that part of Attica call'd Tetrapolis.



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