Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica: Abbreviated Voyages in Silver Latin Epic

By Debra Hershkowitz | Go to book overview

3
Recuperations: Better, Stronger, Faster

THE BIONIC MAN

The heroic status of Apollonius Rhodius' Jason has been the subject of -- and has come in for -- much criticism.1 Remarkable more for his depressive episodes and his beauty than for his skills in battle or in other traditional epic pursuits, Jason has been labelled everything from a love-hero to an anti-hero to a 'realistic' human being. Not only is Apollonius' Jason no Achilles or Odysseus, but the implicit rejection of Homeric heroic values, exemplified by his character, is further emphasized by the jettisoning of Heracles. Cast in an archaic mould and a figure with whom Jason can scarcely compete in conventional terms,2 Heracles is removed from the epic before the end of its first book.3

It may come as something of a shock, then, for the reader of Valerius' Argonautica to discover that Jason shares few of the unheroic qualities for which his Hellenistic namesake is famous, and those which he does share appear in significantly modified form.4 At times his heroic character has prompted eulogistic enthusiasm of a sort quite unthinkable for Apollonius' Jason: 'The Jason of Valerius Flaccus is an outstanding success. He is heroic in the full measure demanded by an epic saga; he excels in courage and leadership; he is handsome, dashing and has a colourful and attractive

____________________
1
The literature on the heroism of Apollonius' Jason is vast: see e.g. Lawall ( 1966); Bcye ( 1969); G. Zanker ( 1979), and (1987), 201-4; Hunter ( 1988), and (1993), 8-25; Hutchinson ( 1988), 85-6; Goldhill ( 1991), 313-21; Jackson ( 1992); Clauss ( 1993); Pike ( 1993). On the deflationary trend in the portrayal of the character of Jason see Hadas ( 1936); Moreau ( 1994), 173-90.
2
On the contrast of Apollonius' Jason and Heracles see e.g. Lawall ( 1966), 123-31; Beye ( 1969), 39-48; Adamietz ( 1970); Galinsky ( 1972), 108-9; Goldhill ( 1991), 314-15; Clauss ( 1993), 33; Hunter ( 1993), 25-36; DeForest ( 1994), 47-69.
3
Cf. Lawall ( 1966), 130-1; Beye ( 1969), 39, 45; Galinsky ( 1972), 112; Feeney ( 1986), 61; Clauss ( 1993), 170-211; DeForest ( 1994), 66.
4
For the comparison of Apollonius' Jason with Valerius' Jason see Hull ( 1979), and cf. Garson ( 1963), 264-5; Burck ( 1975); Taliercio ( 1992), 25-31; Ferenczi ( 1995), 147-8.

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Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica: Abbreviated Voyages in Silver Latin Epic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preace vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1 - Incompleteness: Me Talia Uelle? 1
  • 2 - Belatedness: Silver Linings 35
  • 3 - Recuperations: Better, Stronger, Faster 105
  • 4 - Digressions: the Road Not Taken 190
  • 5 - Dissimulation: Unlearnèd in the World's False Subtleties 242
  • References 275
  • Index of Passages 289
  • General Index 298
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