The path of the return of the Argonauts

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Canto four deals wilt the return of the Argonauts

Since Medea had decided to flee with Jason, she made use of her powers to lull the monstrous dragon to sleep so that Jason could seize the Fleece.

Then the Argonauts boarded their ship again and sailed in haste to escape the wrath of Aeetes and stopped at Paphlagonia to offer a sacrifice to Hecate.

Phineus had advised them to take a different route on their return journey but nobody was familiar with this route. Then Argus spoke to them thus: “there used to indeed be a route revealed by the priests of Egypt even before the sacred race of the Danaans existed. This land of Egypt was watered by the river Triton. It is said that a man from this land travelled across Europe and Asia and founded thousands of cities including Aia, the capital of Aeetes. The descendants of the men who populated these cities preserved the inscriptions engraved by their fathers which show all the routes and give instructions to those who want to travel around the Earth and the sea. They would have gone up the river Istros that is very deep and can be navigated over a long distance. This river is the only one to cover such a vast territory, as it originates from a roaring far-away source in the distant Rhipaean Mountains beyond the winds of Boreas. ”

A goddess then sent a celestial ray indicating a direction, and following this favourable sign all of the Argonauts exclaimed that they would follow the indicated route.

The yoga proceeds through successive ascents and integrations. Every time a new stage is reached one must go backward to haul the entire being up to the present level. This is the reason why different myths allude to different “return” journeys. The most famous is that of the Argonauts and of the soldiers returning from the Trojan War, including the return of Ulysses narrated in the Odyssey.

Thus the poem 4 marks the beginning of a necessary integration since the seeker gained the highest awareness and sensitivity possible at this point on the journey when the forces employed in the quest and the intention of the soul converged.

The  bringing back of the Golden Fleece – a symbol of a well-developed sensitivity, a certain “awakening” – is just a formality because the trials and tests of mastery as well as the dissolution of some of the knots have already been successfully cleared.

The seeker is then seized by a strong determination to take responsibility for his destiny and the forces of ignorance which oppose evolution are temporarily put to sleep; Medea, “the intention of the soul” or “the protector” lulls to sleep the dragon born at the foot of the rock of Typhon (which is the symbol of ignorance). Thus with the Fleece the seeker acquires the possibility of True Knowledge.

The close union of the “intention of the soul” with “that which receives from above in an imperfect manner” (the union of Medea and Jason) will last during the entire return journey and for some time after that till the death of Pelias and Medea’s banishment by Creon.

However bringing the Fleece back does not mark the time when the great experience of union takes place, which will have to wait till the marriage of Jason and Medea and the crossing of the desert. It only marks an opening of consciousness which helps in recognising the personal path.

We have said that the Golden Fleece of the ram is a symbol of a developed sensitivity as well as an “awakening”. If we look at the character structure of the words Apollonius used to describe it we also find the idea of the opening up of consciousness into incarnation (κωας), the right evolution toward union (δερος) and for the ram the right opening of consciousness (κριος).

According to Apollonius’ tale the seeker has at that moment no idea of how to pursue his journey so that it does not follow the same route, or in other words so it does not use the same means as for the ascent. For the period of integration should unfold based on a different sâdhanâ and also gives rise to experiences of another nature.

At this point Apollonius makes a digression to indicate that the Egyptians had already experienced, elucidated and formalised the next steps of the path. He expresses himself through the words of Argus (son of Arestor) who is a symbol of that part of the seeker which is the most purified through the work of sincerity and is thus the most “luminous” of the Argonauts: the Egyptians had recorded on “engraved tables” all the necessary instructions.

Through initiation and his own search the seeker can use the ancient descriptions of the journey. In fact there lived in ancient Egypt an “Aerial” race “that had access to higher regions of the mind”, and a great initiated person of this race had travelled across Europe and Asia. (The classical translation of Ηεριη (αερια) is “Land of Mist” but it appears to be a misunderstanding.)

In other words this great initiated person had travelled the path that is accessed through “a vast vision” acquired through purification (Europe) as well as the confines of the ascent of the planes of consciousness and the descent of the corresponding forces (Asia). He had organised structures of consciousness which the seekers could rely on: he founded several cities, including Aia. Other initiated people followed in his footsteps and passed on their knowledge through hieroglyphics, “engraved sacred letters”. (Several of the initiates who followed him on this path “engraved” their journey on stone.)

The name of the river Istros comes from the word istwr “knowledge” which is a union of “vision” and “learning”. (On this subject refer to the Dictionnaire Etymologique de la Langue Grecque by Pierre Chantraine). The route of this river is that of the “seers” and “sages” from all traditions including the Vedic “rishis”.

This “knowledge-vision” is the only way to pursue the journey for an extended period (Istros being the only river to cover such a vast territory) till the end of personal asceticism (beyond the breeze of Boreas), when the Divine directly takes responsibility for the process of yoga, at the point at which the seeker reaches the stage when “higher sources” originating from the Rhipean Mountains act within himself and establish the “right link” (between spirit and matter).

Then the seeker receives a clear sign: a goddess sends a celestial ray indicating the direction that they must take.

(“Goddess” is the usual meaning ascribed to the word θεα, but this term also means “contemplation”.)

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