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when a number of warriors sailed, in a large armed vese sel, to the coasts of Colchis, and the river Phasis; and, after they had accomplished the other objects of their voyage, conveyed away with them Meded, the daughter of the king. Æetes, king of Colchos, and father of Me. dea, says my author, sent a herald or ambassador into Greece, to demand reparation for this outrage; but he was answered by the Greeks, that as no atonement or restitution had been made to them, for the rape of log so none were due to him, for the late transaction. In a succeeding age, Paris, it is said, was induced by the fame of these transactions, to think of obtaining for himself, by force, a wealthy bride in Greece. As no satisfaction had been given to the injured parties, on either of the former occasions, he was naturally led to hope, that, at all events, he should escape with similar impunity. Accordingly we find, that when the Greeks sent ambassadors, to require the restitution of Helen, and the punishment of Paris, the Irojans evaded their demands, and answered, that no redress had been obtained, by the Asiatics, for the rape of Medea. We should not be surprised at these acts of outrage, and the frequent carrying away of persons, of both sexes, for the purpose of selling them as slaves, in the dark and barbarous ages of Greece. The same practice was pursued, in modern times, by the piratical states on the coasts of Africa; nay, the same practice is pursued, at this day and hour, by the subjects of states, boasting of their humanity, and civilization, and professing a belief of the christian religion!!
Hitherto, the Greeks and Asiatics had been seen, to contend only, in partial inroads, and local reprisals, by confined acts of outrage. The first grand attack, the commencement of those perpetual hostilities, which raged between the tribes of Greece and Asia, and finally VOL. 1ll.
blazed forth in the Persian war, was made by the Greeks, in their armament under Agamemnon, which undertook the siege of Troy.-- The beginning of wars usually lies much deeper, and more remote, than the immediate injury or provocation, which kindles them; or the profest and ostensible causes, for which they are waged.There is a bitter series of silent aggravation, an occule growth of mutual jealousy, a rankling progress of dissembled injury and insult. This was manifestly the case, with respect to the war, which ended in the fall of Troy. The rape of Helen, and the wrongs of Menelaus, were the immediate provocation, and ostensible grounds of quarrel; but such motives could not have assembled all Greece in arms, if motives of private inte. rest, or national policy, had not operated on the different states: if the way to a general war had not been opened, and prepared, by a course of preceding hostilities. There were appropriate causes, which acted on the general mind; applied themselves to the hopes, and the fears, the jealousy, the ambition, the avarice, and resentment, of all the states, and individuals, of this heterogeneous mass; and led them to consider this expedition, as an enterprise, in which the glory, the prosperity, and even the safety, of all Greece was involved.
Such is the connexion of the Argonautic expedition, with the subsequent events of Grecian history, that it must be considered, as forming a necessary link, in a mighty chain. We must resort to it, as one of the original causes, introductory of the brilliant events, which distinguish the splendid history of that exalted nation. In fact, the story of this singular and romantic expedition, as it possesses more of historical verity, than is commonly supposed; so, also, is it, in itself, a more important argument, either of historical relation, or poetical embellishment, than the wrath of Achilles, the
wanderings wanderings of Ulysses, or the rage of Turnus, for Lavi. nia disespoused.---The farther back we trace the illustrious transactions of Greece, the seeds and origin of the godlike actors, and glorious atchievements of her heroic times; the more noble and interesting appears to be the theme. The vessel of the Argonauts seems to be the cradle of Grecian heroism, and chivalry. The history of those first adventurous worthies, holds, as it were, a torch, though somewhat clouded and darkened, to guide us to the true origin of the Greek states, and the foundations of their genuine history. From the Argonautic expedition, downward, the series of Grecian affairs is linked and connected; and becomes systematic and intelligible. It may be deduced from thence, in regular order, through the Theban and Trojan wars, to the origin of the great Persian war, and embraces the foundation of many of the states, kingdoms, and dynasties of Greece proper, not to speak of Asiatic Greece, and of Italy. The genealogy of houses began to be ascertained; the detail of facts to be defined; and something precise and solid was offered, on which the sagacity of historical research might operate, and the veracity and dignity of narration be worthily exercised.
If we consider the Argonautic expedition, as the first great naval enterprise, the primary voyage of discovery undertaken by the Greeks, as a nation, aspiring to supereminence in commerce, and naval warfare, it rises vastly in its importance. We may consider it, then, as a great public experiment, a national undertaking, which explored new paths of gain and grandeur, and opened, to a hardy people, an intercourse through the seas, with distant regions; which taught them, to accumulate in one spot, the blessings of various climes, to associate the most remote tribes, in acts of mutual benefit, and
unite and combine the opposite regions of the earth; by the arts of navigation.
It was natural, therefore, that the story of the firgonautic expedition, should be a grateful and popular theme of history and fable among the Greeks; not only, from the romantic and interesting details, with which it was filled, of the bravery of their ancestors, and the noble pictures of ancient manners, and heroic daring, which it displayed; but, also, for the more wise and solid national reason, that it commemorated a transaction, which was the groundwork of all those naval ex. peditions, which, in later ages, became the foundation of the fame and prosperity of the Greeks. Such a subject could not fail of exciting an universal interest; and that it really did so, appears, from the multitude of writers, by whom it was treated, from the time of Orpheus to that of Apollonius; and their reference to the names of places, and ancient monuments..
From the foregoing considerations, I am fully persuaded, that, we neither ought, with Mr. Bryant, to aim at allegorizing the whole story of the Argonautic expedition, nor ought we to receive it with scorn, and indifference, as wholly fabulous. We cannot consider, as altogether fictitious, a transaction so much celebrated, the subject, as I have already said, of so many historical compositions, and so many poetical productions. Many of these have reached us; and many more were written, which have perished, as appears from the scholiasts on Apollonius Rhodius, who refer to a multitude of authors, whose writings are lost, and whose very names are recorded only by those learned grammarians. Some foundation there must have been, in truth and fact, however exaggerated and disguised by fiction, to render the Argonautic expedition an event of such noto
riety, and apparent authenticity, in history, that it became an epoch for astronomical observation, and chropological calculation, with other memorable transactions, which have never been called into doubt, as historical facts, such as the Trojan war,* the return of the Hera. clide. We may conclude, then, that the history of this transaction is a mixture of historical truth, and legendary fables, like all the rude accounts, which are handed down to us, of the first origin, and early transactions, of all nations, as they are preserved in tradition, and popular songs. Poetry and rhyme are the first vehicles of historical record. Bards and minstrels, in the rude ages, when the arts of writing are little known, are the only brief Chronicles of the Time. The enthusiasm and love of the marvellous, incident to rude and early ages, naturally prone to wonder and exaggeration, -disposes men to embellish the accounts of every bold and extraordinary action, with many fabulous additions ; and to ascribe to magic, and supernatural agency, every thing, which seems, to their untaught minds, to surpass the measure of human strength, and reality. Thus, truth and nature are concealed, or disfigured, by a large superstructure of fiction. Yet, still, it cannot be questioned, that there is a considerable groundwork of truth, for the rhyming histories, the popular legends, and ancient traditions, that commemorate the exploits of early ages. In fact, if we substitute the fabulous beings of the Gothic mythology, its genii, fairies, wizards, witches, and goblins, for the deities, the nymphs, the centaurs, the sirens, and enchanters of Grecian mythology; the stories of the fabulous times of Greece, will not be found to differ very materially, in point of
* Yet, Mr. Brpant questions even the event of the Trojan war.