Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece

Jason and the Argonauts and the labor of the Golden Fleece

Jason

Jason was the son of Polymeda, who was an aunt of Odysseus and Aeson, an expelled king of Thessaly, who was unjustly overthrown from his throne by his half brother Pelion.

Jason's Early Life

Upon his birth, his parents pretended that Jason had died at birth and secretly gave the child to the wise Centaur Chiron to be protected from the enemies. Jason grew up safely in the Mountains of Pelion, practicing perfectly his body and mind under the guidance of the gentle Centaur.

By the age of twenty, Jason, with the help of goddess Hera, decided to return to his father's kingdom in Iolcus to re-claim his family's throne. On his way, Jason encountered a helpless old woman and offered himself to carry her across a river; the old woman, in fact, was no other than Hera in disguise who was putting Jason's kind soul to a test. While crossing the river, Jason lost his sandal and therefore arrived at Iolcus with only one sandal.

When Pelias saw Jason he got very much frightened because once a prophecy had warned him he would lose his life from the "one sandaled". In order to protect himself, Pelias set Jason an impossible feat: to bring back the Golden Fleece from the divine forest of Ares in Colchis. To accomplish this, Jason needed to pass the Black Sea between Colchis and Thessaly and, once there, to take the Golden Fleece away from its fierce guarding dragon.

Jason and the Golden Fleece

The journey would be long and the mission tedious and of great difficulty, so Jason needed to find a strong ship and brave shipmates. Goddess Athena, who was helping the goddess Hera, ordered from the shipwright Argos a fast ship with fifty oars; Athena herself was observing Argos' work. The spectacular ship was named after his builder, "Argo".

The comrades that were chosen for the journey took the name Argonauts. All of them were volunteers and were exceptionally strong and brave warriors. Among them were the strong Heracles, Theseus,the king of Athens and the musician and poet Orpheus.

While the ship of Argo was sailing along, Jason and the Argonauts went through numerous adventures, but since they always were frank and cooperative, they were given a lot of valuable information for their course and could pass any obstacle they encountered on their way.

When they reached Colchis, they encountered Aetes, the King of Colchis. The king pretended to be friendly at first, although he didn't really want to give up the Golden Fleece. He therefore set Jason an impossible task: to plow the field with two fire-breathing bulls and then to sow the field with the teeth of a dragon, while armed men would be growing like plants.

The feat seemed to be impossible, but Jason was not alone. Medea, the daughter of Aetes who possessed magic powers, had fallen in love with Jason and helped the hero through by giving him a magic stone to throw to the armed men. By doing so, Jason managed to accomplish Aetes' order successfully.

However, Aetes then went back on his word and set his army to attack the Argo at night. Medea, who knew about her father's plan, quickly brought Jason to the grove where the Golden Fleece was hanging. She sang the dragon to sleep with a lullaby and Jason quickly seized the Golden Fleece and ran back to the ship. Jason and the Argonauts rowed away and Medea followed them. Later on Medea became Jason's wife.

The Death of Jason

When the ship of Argo returned to Thessaly, Jason found Pelias still unwilling to give up his land. So Medea put a spell to Pelias to sleep and convinced his daughters that her father had died. In order to return to life, they were advised to cut him to pieces and boil- and so they did. Without knowing, they killed their father all by themselves.

Jason and Medea lived happily together for 10 years, when Jason fell in love with Glauce, a princess of Corinth. When Medea found out about her husband's affair, she killed all her children and then fled from Thessaly. Jason grew old lonely and in the end he killed himself by falling from the stern of the Argo.

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