Professor Judith Fletcher (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), "The fabric of miasma and the gifts of the Lemnian women in Apollonius’ Argonautica"
This paper argues that Apollonius draws on the Aeschylean idea of miasma, including its
devastating effects on fertility, in his account of another kin murder, Jason and Medea’s
slaughter of Medea’s brother Apsyrtus in Argonautica 4, which is surrounded by
numerous allusions to the Oresteia. The killing is constructed as an episode in a narrative
of pollution and purification originating with the love affairs between the Argonauts and
Lemnian women, and apparently concluding with the expiatory ritual performed by
Circe, which borrows heavily from Aeschylus’ account of the purification of Orestes. But
does miasma still cling to Jason after Circe’s ritual? Apollonius’ subtle deployment of the
textile motif, which is such a significant element of the Oresteia’s system of imagery,
suggests that it might.