Three major episodes set at what would be the sites of important Greek colonies are discussed as examples of a definition of space through colonialist discourse and ways in which the narrative complicates those claims. With the Argonauts’ landing in the trackless and void desert in North Africa (Book 4) and their carrying of the Argo following the prints of a horse that miraculously appeared to Lake Tritonis near the eventual site of Cyrene, the poem offers an archetype of the cultural production of space and claims this area for Greeks. The episode at Kyzikos (Book 1) is more mixed. The Argonauts kill their hosts by mistake in contravention of the basic Greek value of hospitality. This is memorialized by signs on the land, alongside other signs anticipating Greek colonization and the Argonauts’ ridding the area of earth-born giants and their appropriation of the Asiatic Cult of the Great Mother (Rheia/Cybele). The violence inherent in colonization is thus acknowledged. The episode at the site of Heraclea, by contrast, presents colonization as cooperation between newcomers and local people, with the mastery of the former acknowledged. But the strange aitia of the tombs of two dead Argonauts expose the limits of sign-making and spatial production.
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