Greece as Center
The account of the Argonauts’ launching of the Argo and departure from Iolkos in Greece in the first half of Book 1 establishes Greece as spatially and conceptually central in the poem, and the Argo as embodying normative Greek culture. The catalogue of Argonauts relates each of them to his home and gives each place a story connected with him. It progresses systematically around the Greek mainland and so links these places together to produce a Greek space that will exert a centripetal pull in the poem, a space of the heroes of Greek tradition. The scene of movement from city to shore emphasizes the significance of home. Scenes on the beach, where land and sea meet, are paradeigmatic of Greek society: the cooperative work of launching the Argo, the apportionment of rowing benches, which brings together traditional and contemporary models of Greek society, and the peaceful resolution of a quarrel, which provides a model of social harmony. The Argo and its company are thus an idealizing microcosm of Greek society. The episode at Lemnos is discussed as threatening the expedition by a confusion of categories that anticipates later events.
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