- Argo was here: the ideology of geographical space in the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes
- Colloquium Space and Literature, Amsterdam
- Book/source title
- The ideologies of lived space in literary texts, ancient and modern
- Pages (from-to)
- Gent: Academia Press
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
In this paper I will look at the representation of space in the Argonautica, the third century BCE epic poem by the Alexandrian poet Apollonius of Rhodes, with an eye on its politico-ideological overtones. The Argonautica relates the mythical journey of the Argonauts, a group of fifty young heroes, from Greek Iolcus to exotic Colchis on the edge of the Black Sea and back again in search of the Golden Fleece, which they obtain with the help of the Colchian princess Medea. The journey encompasses some remarkably detours, most notably past the Libyan coast and through a river network in central Europe. It is immediately clear on a first reading that the route of the Argo is not told in a purely realistic way; literary tradition and myth play an important role in its constitution.
Apart from being a rich tale of adventure, a refined psychological portrait of first love gone wrong and a creative commentary on Homeric poetry, the Argonautica is also a (literarily) allusive and a geographical epic that deals in various significant ways with the spaces passed by or entered by the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece. In the scope of this paper, I cannot do justice to the complexity of the epic’s composition, but nevertheless I hope to highlight some of its key themes with regard to ideologies in its spatial representation.
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