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  • 8/22/2019 Reconciliation MORI


    Jason's Reconciliation with Telamon: A Moral Exemplar in Apollonius' "Argonautica" (1.1286-1344)Author(s): Anatole MoriSource: The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 126, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 209-236Published by: The Johns Hopkins University PressStable URL: .Accessed: 25/02/2011 18:07

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    Anatole Mori

    Abstract. At the end of the first book of Apollonius' Argonautica, Telamonaccuses Jason of plotting to leave Heracles behind, an insult for which Telamonlater apologizes. This article suggests that their reconciliation unites the Alex-andrian interest in what is appropriate for epic with Aristotelian views on angerand political friendship, two themes that resonate throughout the poem. WhileTelamon's apology and Jason's moderate response revise the structure oftraditional epic quarrels, the portrayal of self-control in this episode constitutes amoral exemplar in keeping with those Homeric scenes that were admired byancient philosophers.

    INTERPRETERS OF THE THIRD-CENTURY B.C.E. EPIC ARGONAUTICAhave, for the most part, relied on literary parallels and allusions in orderto explicate the innovative choices made by its author, the Alexandrianscholar-poet Apollonius of Rhodes. It is certainly true that Apolloniusmodels his poem on the Homeric epics, yet it is also true that Apollonius'emulation of Homer does not always yield the results one might expector even readily understand. Accordingly, it occasionally proves helpful tobroaden the field of comparanda and to consider other influences on thepoem. This article shows how the long-standing philosophical debateregarding the moral utility of epic affected the portrayal of Jason, theelected leader of the Argonauts and the poem's central male character.Jason's calm reconciliation with his fellow Argonaut Telamon exempli-fies a moral response that is at odds with the wrathful resentment ofAchilles under comparable circumstances in the Iliad.

    While Jason's avoidance of anger sets him apart from Achilles, itnevertheless reveals concern on the part of Apollonius to emulate whatwas seen as Homer's depiction of morally admirable behavior. Suchdepictions were admittedly rare in epic from the perspective of ancientphilosophers, but they represent an appropriate and even essential com-ponent of the genre. My first section, 'Anger in the Argonautica" therefore

    AmericanournalfPhilology262005)09-236 2005 yThe ohnsHopkinsniversityress

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    210 ANATOLE MORIcontrasts the treatment of anger in the Argonautica with that of otherepics and suggests that Jason's atypical emotional self-control owes muchto Aristotelian ideas about appropriate displays of anger. The secondsection, "The Moral Utility of Epic," follows the philosophical debateregarding the capacity of poetry to instruct and concludes that Apollonius,like other scholars working in third-century Alexandria, placed a pre-mium on the moral as well as the textual integrity of epic poetry. Finally,the third section, "Epic Friendship and Philosophical Reconciliation,"considers Apollonius' emphasis on social harmony throughout the Argo?nautica and compares the speeches of Jason and Telamon during thereconciliation with specific passages in Homer and the Aristotelian corpus.


    Apollonius experiments with the theme of epic anger in several episodesof the Argonautica. Anger is, of course, fundamental to the narrative ofthe Iliad, which begins with a quarrel and ends with a reconciliation,whereas quarrels in the Hellenistic epic are resolved quickly: within asingle episode in most cases. Unlike the wrathful Idas, Jason is marked byrationalization and the inclination toward compromise,1 and scholarshave long viewed him in a relatively negative light: as an anti-hero, love-hero, anxious realist, and even a coward.2 Although Mooney (1912, 36-37), for example, recognizes that Jason is "slow to wrath," he dismisseshim as "tame and insipid" in contrast to the passionate Medea.3 In

    1Moreau (1994, 187), for example, claims that Jason lacks, among other heroicqualities, "l'impetuosite martiale d'un Idas." For Jason as a new heroic type, see Frankel1960. Drager (2001, 102-3, 121-23) agrees with Frankel and also observes that Idas' im-pious rage is a foil to the justified anger of the gods. Hunter (1993, 58) notes that Idasexemplifies "the purposelessness of 'brawn' without 'brainV Clauss (1993, 205-8) charac-terizes Telamon and Heracles as blustering Homeric types. For a positive reading of Aeetesas a Homeric warrior, see Williams 1996a and Thiel 1996.2See Hunter, 1993, 8-15, 25, for an extensive discussion of epic character and thecritical reception of Jason (e.g., Carspecken 1952, Lawall 1966, Beye 1969, Zanker 1979,Jackson 1992). Pietsch (1999, 158) suggests that Jason charts a middle course betweengreatness and weakness; we sympathize with Jason because of his youth and the immensityof the task that he undertakes, yet we cannot accept Jason as superior because of his lackof resourcefulness.

    3At Arg. 4.394: Jason is frightened (hypoddeisas) at Medea's fury;she is boiling withrage and yearns, like Aeetes (3.581-83), to burn the Argo.The verb \)7co8e{8co"feel awe" or"tremble") appears only in connection with Aeetes: at 3.318, Argos fears Aeetes' reactionto the Argonauts, and at 3.435,Aeetes threatens Jason should he be afraid to yoke the bulls.

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    evaluating the significance of Jason's moderate temper we should not,however, discount the fact that anger is largely ineffectual in the Argo-nautica: those characters who express anger are usually rebuked, ig-nored, or even dismissed. The Argonauts work together to silence Idas'outbursts when he insults Jason and Idmon (1.463-71,487-91), when heobjects to their reliance on Medea (3.558-63), and when he tries to breakJason's enchanted weapons (3.1252-55). Although anger (cholos) maycertainly be justified against an openly hostile enemy, as when Amycuschallenges and insults the Argonauts (2.19-20) and is then killed in aboxing match by an angry Pollux (2.67-97),4 the poem consistently con-demns the rebellious, like Idas, and punishes the belligerent, like Amycusand Aeetes.5

    Of particular interest in this regard are Jason's responses toTelamon.Telamon is the heroic obverse of the arrogant Idas, whose rashness isportrayed unfavorably.6 Telamon, by contrast, enjoys respect and goodreputation among the Argonauts: he demonstrates courage in battle(1.1043, 2.121-22), is chosen for two embassies to Aeetes (3.196, 1172-75), and quickly volunteers to plough the field of Ares (3.515-16).7 Never-theless, Telamon's impulsive nature gets the better of him on two occa-sions: during the initial audience with Aeetes (3.382-85) and, more

    Thus Jason's fear at 4.394 does not undermine his heroism but rather reminds us ofMedea's supernatural lineage. Similarly,in Homeric usage imoSeCScoefers to the awe onefeels at supernatural or unusual power (//. 1.406; Od. 2.66, 9.377, 10.296) as well as on thebattlefield or in assembly (//. 5.521,12.413,18.199, 22.282, 24.265; Od. 16.425,17.564).4The poet takes care to show that Pollux's anger is justified. In this instance he actson behalf of his comrades against an openly hostile enemy. Note that Pollux, in contrast toHomeric warriors,refrains from taunting Amycus and meets his boasts with a smile (2.60-62). Medea's anger against the ancient bronze giant Talos (4.1671-72) is similarly justifiedinasmuch as he attacked the Argo without provocation (4.1638-39).5The poet refers to Aeetes' anger on a number of occasions: he angrily threatens theColchians as he plots to destroy the Argonauts (3.606-8); Medea fears the dread wrath ofher father (3.614); Aeetes is furious at Jason's success (4.6-10); Aeetes is enraged andthreatens t