An engraving of the Boreads Calais and Zetes drive out the hideous harpies.
The Boreads Calais and Zetes drive out the harpies that plague King Phineus. Presumably, Lynceus stands by on watch.
Credit: Joseph Anton Koch, engraver. Bibliothèque nationale de France. Public domain.

Lynceus

Messenian prince

In the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, Lynceus played a crucial role as one of the Argonauts. He was renowned for his exceptional vision, which made him a valuable asset to the expedition to spot approaching threats or find a path through treacherous waters. His eyesight was so good, he could see in the dark and through walls and skin. A trait akin to the modern-day superpower of X-ray vision.

Lynceus was the son of Aphareus and the brother of Idas. Unlike his blind brother Idas, Lynceus had the ability to see with incredible clarity, even able to spot objects or events from a great distance. His name, “Lynceus,” is derived from the Greek word “lygkos,” which means “lynx” – a creature known for its sharp eyesight.

One of the most notable episodes involving Lynceus occurred during the encounter with the Harpies on the Strophades Islands. The Harpies were vile creatures with the upper bodies of women and the wings and talons of birds. They tormented Phineus, the king of Thrace, by stealing his food every time he tried to eat.

When the Argonauts arrived on the Strophades Islands, they witnessed the torment of Phineus and decided to help him. Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of Boreas, chased the Harpies away, and Lynceus used his sharp eyesight to follow the creatures and ascertain their location, ensuring they were driven off for good.

Lynceus’ keen vision and his contributions to the success of the Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece made him an essential member of the crew. His abilities as a watchman and lookout were crucial in helping the heroes navigate through various trials and challenges, demonstrating the diverse skills and strengths of the Argonauts.

Despite the success of the Argonauts, Lynceus would eventually be killed by his crewmate Pollux in what is known as the “Leucippides’ Wedding.”

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