Did the Argonauts of Greek myth go underground in the Slovene karst?
R. Trevor Shaw, G. Macqueen James - (27/1,1998)
Lazius's maps of Carniola, the first of which was printed in 1545, have a note at Vrhnika, where the Ljubljanica rises from its subterranean course, saying that the Argonauts of the Greek golden fleece myth went underground there on their way from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. The original Greek sources describe only a surface route, either following a branch of the Sava running west to the sea, or requiring their ship to be carried overland for this part of the journey. Elsewhere, though, it was said that fish pass from one sea to the other by underground channels. The subterranean variant of the Argonaut story has not been traced before Lazius, though he may have got the idea from another mapmaker, Hirschvogel, who had lived in Ljubljana. Münster's map of 1550 implies the existence of an underground river between Vrhnika and the Mirna river in Istria, but it does not associate it with the Argonaut story. The idea seems to have arisen just when maps were showing that hills formed a barrier between the east-flowing Sava and the rivers of the Adriatic basin, and when the existence of caves and underground rivers was becoming more widely known.