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Friday, January 13, 2012

Jason Part 4 The Clashing Rocks, January 13

"I don't like the looks of this."
Before Jason could reach Iolcus and retrieve the Golden Fleece, he had to navigate the Symplegades, “the clashing rocks,” two huge rocks on either side of a narrow channel that had a way of mashing together and crushing ships.  Robert Graves and others suggest that since Jason was sailing to what is now the Black Sea Coast of Georgia (The cold one, not the Peach State) these were actually icebergs.  But since this is myth, these are mythological perils and had to be dealt with in a mythological way.  No use telling Jason, “No worries captain, these are ordinary icebergs.  Just wait for the end of the current ice age, and they’ll melt right up.”  He wouldn’t have listened to you.  Instead, he followed the advice of Phineas, the starving king he’d saved from the harpies. 1 He shot an arrow (some say he released a dove, but I think the arrow is cooler) through the rocks.  Sure enough they smashed together barely clipping the feathers on the arrow’s tip.  Knowing they could make it now, the crew rowed forward with all their might, and the rocks crashed together, but only slightly damaged the stern-most part of the ship. 2 After that the rocks never moved again, which is the way it works in myths sometimes: after you answer the Sphinx’s riddle or get through the clashing rocks, the spell is broken.  Once is all it takes.

1. And what's the point of saving a man from harpies if you're not going to follow his advice?
2. Which doesn't quite make sense, because a ship is a lot bigger and slower than an arrow, or come to that, a dove.

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