The ship, as former bards relate, Argus wrought by the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and the names of the heroes, and of the long sea-paths and the deeds they wrought in their wanderings; may the Muses be the inspirers of my song!
Sailing between the lines by Jacqueline Klooster
Recent scholarship on Apollonius Rhodius (e.g. Fusillo 1985, Hunter 1993; 2001,
Cuypers 2004) has rightly emphasized the fact that he is a poet much concerned with the
representation of his authorial persona. The choices the narrator faces as to which material to include are emphatically brought to the reader’s attention. One of the instances in which this happens is the passage in i.18-19: The ship, as former bards relate, Argos wrought by the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and names of the heroes and the deeds they wrought in their wanderings. These lines, which seem to constitute an deliberate passing over of the tale of the building of the Argo, have been read in the light of narratological devices such as the ‘arbitraire du récit’ (Genette 1969:92-3); the way in which a narrator overtly shows the choices he makes regarding his narrative. The above mentioned critics explain the passage by saying that Apollonius wants to demarcate his own terrain here, to signal that he does not merely repeat what others have said. True as this may be, there is another aspect to this passage, which seems to have gone unnoticed until now.