Argonauts at Phineus

The next morning, the Argonauts set off on their further journey. Soon they arrived at the shores of Thrace. The heroes went ashore to replenish their supplies. They saw a house on the seashore and went to it. A blind old man came out of the house to meet the Argonauts; he could barely stand on his feet and was shaking all over from weakness. Having reached the threshold of his house, the elder sank to the ground in exhaustion. The Argonauts lifted him up, and a feeling of pity seized them. From the words of the elder, they learned that this is Phineus, the son of Agenor, who used to be the king of Thrace. But Phineas was punished by Apollo for abusing the gift of divination received from Apollo and revealing to people the secrets of Zeus. Apollo struck Phineus with blindness, and the gods sent harpies, half-devils, half-birds, who, arriving at his house, devoured all the food and spread a terrible stench around the house. The gods revealed to Phineus that he would get rid of this punishment of the gods only when the Argonauts arrived to him, among whom there would be two winged sons Borea, Zet and Kalaid. He began to beg the heroes' Phineas to free him from calamity, he begged the Boreads to expel the harpies; after all, he was not a stranger to the Boreads - he was married to their sister Cleopatra.

Phineas and harpies
Phineas and harpies.
At the top to the left is Phineas, to the right of him is the winged hero Zet and the harpy,
under her is the winged hero Kalaid; under Zet sits Hermes, to his left is the Thracian.
(Drawing on a vase.)

The heroes agreed to help Phineus. They prepared a rich meal, but only lay down Feeney at the table to satisfy hunger, how the harpies swooped down and, ignoring the cries of the Argonauts, devoured all the food, spreading a terrible stench throughout the house; then the harpies rose up and rushed out of Phineas' house. The Boreads chased them on their mighty wings. They pursued the harpies for a long time and finally overtook them at the Plotian Islands. The Boreads were drawing their swords and were about to strike the harpies, when suddenly the messenger of the gods was brought on her rainbow wings from high Olympus Iris. She stopped the Boreads and said that the gods had commanded the harpies not to return to Phineus anymore. The Boreads flew back to Thrace.

Since then, the Flat Rocks have been called Strophades, i.e. islands of return.

As soon as the harpies, pursued by the Boreads, flew away, the Argonauts prepared a new meal for Phineas, and the elder could finally satisfy his terrible hunger. During the meal, Phineus revealed to the Argonauts what other dangers await them on their way to Colchis and gave them advice on how to overcome them. Phineas also advised the heroes upon arrival in Colchis to call for the help of the golden one Aphrodite, since only she can help Jason get the golden Fleece. The Argonauts listened attentively to the prophetic elder, trying to remember everything he said to them.

Soon the Boreads also returned and told how they had chased the harpies. The elderly Phineus rejoiced when he learned that he was forever spared from the appearance of harpies.