Chapter 17- Dominic Castor of the Dioscuri and the Argonauts

Castor and Polydeuces, better known as the Dioscuri, laughed merrily as they walked into the gathering of heroes. They were to join Jason on his quest. They were eager to prove themselves as all of the others were on the quest. It was said that retrieving the Golden Fleece from Colchis was an impossible task, every one of them there were going to prove that wrong. They all had something to bring to the mission and together they would succeed. Besides it would be fun.

The twins sat surrounded by the greatest heroes in the whole of the Greek nations and couldn't wait to get started. Polydeuces turned to speak to the man beside them, who also looked eager to start and introduced himself. "I am Polydeuces and this is my brother Castor." The man nodded politely. "Butes." Slowly each of the men introduced themselves. Some however did not need any introduction. Prime example of this was Heracles, the most well-known hero of their time, or indeed any time, was joining them.

As a result when Jason finally did arrive and suggested they vote on a leader, the decision was inevitable. Every single man present voted for Heracles on his reputation alone, they had all heard the tales. But Heracles himself refused, feeling that as this was Jason's Quest he should lead them. And that was good enough for them. Jason had been the one who summoned them, brought them together through their love of adventure, and now he would lead them.

That night they celebrated together, all of them at a feast in honour of the gods. Jason made the traditional sacrifice and together the band of warriors readied themselves for their quest ahead with good food and plenty of alcohol. There was one dicey moment when arguments began to break out, but Orpheus calmed everyone's tempers with his lyre. They sang and feasted and drank together until sleep took them and before long the sun was rising and they were on their way to adventure.

The first portion of their journey was actually fairly uneventful, and so the sailors took some time to get to know each other. They had much in common and many shared divine parentage. They got along well and where enjoying being out on the open water. Lemnos was their destination, but they were in no great hurry. If however they knew what awaited them there they might have shown more enthusiasm for their destination: Unbeknownst to the warriors, the women of Lemnos had risen up against their men and taken the island, killing them all. As a result once they landed on the Island and were met by the women it was quite a while until they were on their way again.

Their journey continued. Together they came to Samothrace and to ensure victory on their quest they became initiated into the mysteries of the Dark Queen Persephone and the other Cabeiri who protect sailors. Then they continued on their way, each feeling guilt over the time they had spent on Lemnos.

The first great peril came when they reached the entrance to Hellespont where King Laomedon of Troy dwelt. He had vowed to let no Greek ships pass through. So it was that they passed through the straits at night hugging tight to the Thracian coast and came safely to the sea of Marmara. From there they came to Dolionian territory. They landed on the Penisula of Arcton where King Cyzicus ruled. Cyzicus was the son of Aeneus who was an ally of Heracles and so they were welcomed by him, even though he was in the middle of his wedding feat, having just married his young bride Cleite.

Again trouble befell them as those who had elected to stay behind and guard the ship were attacked by the Gegeines, who were earthbound giants with six arms. They had taken advantage fo the fact that few had stayed behind to guard the ship and attacked. Luckily Heracles was amongst those left to guard the ship and managed to subdue the giants.

From Arcton they set sail for the Borphorus, but the sea and the winds turned against them. A harsh wind blew them around and losing their bearings they beached the Argo on the shore. The local people thinking them enemies attacked and in the dark the Argonauts fought until many of the attackers lay dead including their leader. It was ony once the sun rose that Jason recognised the people they had defeated. The Dolionians thinking the Argonauts pirates had attacked led by King Cyzicus who now lay dead at Jason's feet. Feeling more guilt sweep over him, Jason elected to stay and hold funeral games for the fallen King. They remained weather bound on the peninsula for some time before things got even worse. Young Cleite distraught over her husband's death hung herself.

After they had been stuck there for some time a great halcyon bird fluttered down onto the bow of the ship. Mopsus who could speak the language of the birds translated for it and they learned that the Goddess Rhea herself was responsible for Cyzicus' death. He had fought with her sacred lions on Mount Dindymum and killed them all. She was also vexed at the Argonauts themselves for fighting with her six armed brothers.

In an attempt to placate the Goddess Argus carved an image of the Goddess which thy raised on the mountaintop and danced beside In full armour. The Goddess acknowledging their efforts allowed them to leave the Dolionians and continue towards their destination. As they rowed Heracles issued a challenge to the other Argonauts. He challenged them to row for as long as they could. It took hours for them to flag but eventually one by one the sailors proclaimed themselves beaten and gave up. Soon there were only four left, including Castor and Polydeuces.

Castor looked across at his brother as they kept time. Polydeuces looked as if he wasn't even sweating, but Castor's arms ached. It was only himself, his brother, Heracles and Jason left in the contest and he wasn't sure he could keep going any longer. Unlike the other three his father was not divine. Although they were twins he and Polydeuces had different father's. Polydeuces was the son of Zeus, whereas he was simply the son of Tyndareus, King of Sparta but not a god.

Polydeuces looked across at his brother and saw him stuggle. Castor could not continue much longer but his pride would not let him fail. He would hurt himself if he went on any longer. Suddenly Polydeuces made a descision, he faked a cramp in his arm. It was not a difficult disicion, they were brothers, they did everything together, even this. Castor looked at him quizically as he to stopped rowing and Polydeuces knew that he was caught. Castor knew what he was doing but it didn't matter, they were both out of the contest. After that it was not long before Jason fainted and Heracles was proclaimed the winner, but then the his oar smashed under the force of his strokes. Heracles sighed heavily as the others took up their oars again and steered the boat towards the shore.

As the Argonauts started to prepare their evening meal Heracles wandered off to find himself a branch to fashion himself a new oar. By the time he returned he realised that his squire and friend Hylas had left to explore. Worried for his safety the massive warrior went to find him, even though Polyphemus had already started the search. Heracles met Polyphemus as he searched. "I heard Hylas shouting for help; and ran towards his voice. But when I reached Pegae I found no signs of struggle either with wild beasts or with other enemies." Heracles and Polyphemus searched for Hylas all right but they did not find him.

By dawn they had not returned and so the Argonauts sailed on without them and came to Bebrycos were Poseidon's son Amicus was king. Amicus was a very proud man and the moment the Argonauts landed on his coast he was challenging them to a boxing match. Without thought Polydeuces accepted the challenge as the king was witholding hospitality from them. He was full of confdence as he slipped on the leather gloves the king provided. He had won the boxing match at the olympic games and had never been beaten.

Castor watched his brother with a small smile on his face until he saw the King making ready for the match. Amycius' gloves looked similar to the ones he had given Polydeuces at first glance, but on closer inspection he noticed the spikes studded on the leather. Castor had no doubt in his brothers ability, he was unbeatable, but Amycius was huge, much larger than Polydeuces and younger. Yes Polydeuces had never been beaten, but there was always a first time.

Polydeuces took up a defensive stance as the king came into the ring. He to had seen the gloves and noticed how overly muscled his oponent was. He fought cautiosly at first, dodging the blows as the other man charged at him again and again. Eventually he caught the gap in the kings defences and with quick jabs gradually wore him down. Then suddenly Amycius grabbed his left hand and pulled while swinging his other arm to hit him. But Polydeuces moved further into the other man causing his swing to go wide so Polydeuces was able to hit back killing the king instantly.

Seeing the king lying dead at Polydeuces' feet his men sprung up taking arms to attack the Argonauts but they fought back and took the palace. To placate the dead King's father Jason sacrificed a group of red bulls to him and then they were on their way again.

The next stop on their journey was Salmydessus in Eastern Thrace. The king there was Phineus, the son of Agenor. Phineus was blind. He had the gift of foresight but had betrayed Zeus by revealing the future to mortal men. For this he was punished with not only blindness but by a pair of Harpies.

The old man met them as they disembarked from the ship and told them his tale. Every day the two Harpies Aellopus and Ocypete, would come to his table while he was eating and steal any food that was put in front of him. They had tormented him for years and only after he had been relieved of their torment would he tell Jason how to get to Colchis and obtain the golden fleece. Jason agreed and a great banquet was laid out for the Argonauts.

Just as they sat to take their meal Aellopus and Ocypete descended and started their usual game of stealing food as it was about to be eaten. Two of the Argonauts, Calais and Zetes who were the sons of Boreas spread their wings and grabbing their swords took flight after the creatures. The rest of the Argonauts watched in awe as they disappeared and waited anxiously for their return. When the two did return they reported that the Harpies had given up and been sent away by Hera, never to bother Phineus again.

Phineus as was his part of the bargain instructed them in how to pass the dangerous Bosphorus and advised them on what to expect when they reached Colchis. One phrase that Phineus uttered seemed to stick in Jason's mind. "When you reach Colchis, trust in Aphrodite." With those words echoing in his mind the Argonauts set sail once again eager to continue their quest.

The main danger that they had to face when they reached the Bosphorus, were the terrifying Sympleglade rocks which were always shrouded in mist. Legend had it that whenever a ship attempted to pass through them they would crash together and destroy the vessel. But Phineus had advised them on how to procede through the deadly rocks. Euphemus let loose a dove to fly ahead of the Argo. They watched cautiously as the dove flew ahead of them and when the crashed together nipping the birds tail feathers and started to withdraw again, they rowed with all of their might. They just managed to get through the gap losing their stern ornament but nothing else.

Soon they came to the Islet of Thynias and then to the City of Mariandyne where they were welcomed by King Lycus. Lycus offered them much gratitude as he had heard about the death at their hands of his enemy King Amycus. In fact he even offered his son Dascylus as their guide as they journeyed along the coast. The good feeling however did not last as when they were preparing to leave the next morning Idmon the seer was attacked. He was attacked by a ferocious boar and although Idas sprang to his aid he was mortally wounded and bled to death. They mourned him for three days in Mariandyne before their navigator Tiphys fell ill and died. They buried him next to Idmon before setting sail again.

They journeyed on again coming to Sinope where more heros joined their ranks before they continued on past lands of legend. They passed by the domain of the Amazons, then past the lands of the Chalybians, then the Tibarenians, followed by the Moesynoechians and finally the islet of Ares. It was here that they were attacked by a flock of birds. Remembering Phineus' advice Jason ordered his men to don their helmets and shout at the top of their voices. Half of them rowed while the others protected them with their shields and banging their swords to scare away the birds. They rowed frantically towards the shore and beached the Argo and forced the birds to go.

That night there was an incredible storm which washed more allies up on the shore. Cytisorus, Argeus, Phrontis and Melanion were the grandchildren of the King of Colchis but were swayed by Jason's plans to honor their father. Together the Argonauts old and new sailed on and came at last to the Caucasus range where they concealed the Argo and made their plans of attack.