After 1950 Henriette Mertz, following Apollonius Rhodius' scripts on Argonautica Book II, sailed over the east coasts of S.America and across the Amazon, covered long distances on foot in the Andes range in Perou, Bolibia and Colombia and then she came to the conclusion that the Argonauts had sailed as far as South America where gold was in plenty. According to her, the Miletian geographers quite mistakenly placed Colchis in the Euxinus Pontus where the ancient philologists sent off the Argonauts to get the "Golden Fleece".
As for the word "Bosporus" -used by Apoll.Rhod. Book II-, I.Passas in his "Hellenic Prehistory" says that it might not have been used as a geographic location but as a term for the strait which the Argo sailed through. The huge waves like mountains and the contrary winds they were confronted with as soon as they came out of Bosporus could not have occurred in the Euxinus Pontus which is an inland sea. Perhaps some ancient copyists quite ignorant of the fact that the Mediterranean had access to the Atlantic Ocean, placed Bosporus in the Euxinus Pontus which was a well-known sea at the time.
The Argo, after having sailed across the Mediterranean and through Hercules' Pillars, was carried to the American Continent by the Gulf Stream. They sailed to the south of the Sargasso Sea ("The floating islands", Apollonius Rhod. Book II 285, 295-298)and touched at Puerto-Rico. The Sargasso Sea was named after the weed, known as sargassum, which floats in scattered patches over hundreds of square miles throughout this vast area.
At Puerto-Rico they met the seer Phineus and freed him from the "Arpyias" which are not a poetic exaggerated invention but according to Apollonius' detailed description these birds must have been the "Hoatzin" as they are called now in S.America. From there the Argo passed through the Windward Passage between the two islands of Haiti and Cuba (Cyanean Rocks or Clashing Rocks). At this point I am citing the remarks of Henriette Mertz from her book "The Wine Dark Sea" regarding the detailed description of the natural phenomenon of tide by Apollonius Rhodius, which should make researchers think. "Apollonius Rhodius accurately described the high tide surging through the passage and the white-foamed spray clashing high on cliffs of both sides - the Cyanean Rocks. The allusion of rocks clashing together referred to the high tide - as the tide swelled rushing in, lower rocks became submerged by the rising seas, disappearing from sight and appearing to widen the passageway giving an optical illusion of the two headlands moving away. When the tide receded and the water level dropped, lower rocks again became exposed and appeared to suddenly come together. Thus they opened and closed. Since the vast surge of foaming sea rises twice every day with an unexpected suddenness the rocks were said to clash together (Symplygades-Clashing Rocks)".
According to Mertz the detailed and accurate description of this natural phenomenon would be possible only by eyewitness and this phenomenon exists precisely as described and exists in no other place. On the other hand, such tides do not take place in inland seas like the Black Sea or the Mediterranean -hardly of sufficient force to whirl a ship around ("The current whirled the ship around" Apoll.Rh.).
After passing through the Clashing Rocks the Argo was said to have sailed into another broad sea, the Caribbean, "where the two seas met" (Apoll.Rh.). Here the two seas are the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Coming out into the Caribbean Sea we read about a windless calm and airless silence while the Argonauts bending over the oars are sweating and panting. It is true that travelling from the cold and wild Atlantic into the warm and calm Caribbean through the Windward Passage one can instantly feel the sudden climatic change just as Apollonius describes it: humidity, sweat, hot and slackness.
Following down the eastern coast of S.America, the Argonauts came to the Rio De La Plata river (Phasis) and sailing up the river they came to the south of Titikaka lake where the tribe of Colchicourous lived. Mertz claims that the word "Colchicourous" is the Spanish word for the Hellenic "Colchis".
Last Updated: 21 March 1996