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Ancient Greek myth about the Argonauts and the golden fleece
Ancient Greek myth about the Argonauts and the golden fleece

Video: Ancient Greek myth about the Argonauts and the golden fleece

Video: Ancient Greek myth about the Argonauts and the golden fleece
Video: The Epic Tale of Jason & The Argonauts Explained | Best Greek Mythology Documentary 2023, November

The myths of Ancient Greece, known all over the world, gave human culture the legend of the sailors from Hellas.

The birth of a myth

According to the myths of Ancient Greece, the wife of King Afamant was the goddess Nephela, who bore him children - the son of Phrix and the daughter of Gella. Once, when there was a poor harvest in the country, the gods demanded to sacrifice the descendants of the head of state. In exchange, they promised to fix the situation.

Everything was already ready for the rite of sacrifice when Nephele decided to save her children by sending a golden ram that could fly after them. The animal flew away with Frix and Gella towards the north, and later the mythical creature was sacrificed to Zeus.

After these events, the descendants of Afamant built Iolk - a port in Thessaly. Eson, who ruled in Iolca, was overthrown by his half-brother Pelias. Aeson, who had renounced power, was afraid for his offspring and decided to hide his son, named Jason, in the mountains. The boy grew up among pure nature, and was raised by the centaur Chiron.

From him, Iason learned the story of his real family. Eson's son matured and planned to return to Iolk. On the way to the port city, Jason helped an old woman he met to cross to the other side of the river. He did not even suspect that in fact it was the goddess Hera, who was testing his generosity. Hera became Jason's patroness.

Appearing to Pelius, Jason immediately announced his desire to restore justice. Frightened by the son of Eson, Pelius decided to deceive his relative, saying that he could not let go of the power, since the spirit of Frix demands the return of the golden fleece.

Jason brings Pelias the golden fleece
Jason brings Pelias the golden fleece

Jason brings Pelias the golden fleece. Source:

Jason did not flinch, he found volunteers, among whom were Hercules, Theseus, the brothers Castor and Polidevkus, the singer Orpheus and many others. Soon a ship was built for travelers. It received the name "Argo", after the name of the ship and received the nickname of the participants in the sea voyage - the Argonauts. To the music of Orpheus, the heroes set off on a journey from Iolca.

The beginning of the journey

The Argonauts first stopped at Lemnos. The hostile inhabitants of the island, who had recently killed the entire male population for treason with Thracian girls, prepared to attack the travelers.

However, instead of a battle, they arranged a council at which the idea was expressed that without men, the entire population of Lemnos would die out. Therefore, the Argonauts were allowed into the city of Mirina. Many seafarers found their love there, children were born from these unions. But Hercules, who remained faithful to his wife, began to reproach the Argonauts for inaction, and the journey continued.

Lorenzo Costa, Argo
Lorenzo Costa, Argo

Lorenzo Costa, Argo. Source:

Having sailed from Lemnos, the Argonauts reached the Sea of Marmara, bypassing the strait at night, subordinate to the king of Troy Laomedont. Travelers landed on a peninsula called Arkton. They were greeted with joy by the local king, who invited the travelers to his wedding. During the holiday, the people who remained to guard the ship were attacked by monsters with six arms.

They crawled out of the ground, but their attack was quickly repulsed. After this incident, the travelers set off towards the Bosphorus. On the way there, a strong wind overtook them, driving the ship aside. The seafarers were attacked by well-equipped troops, some of which fell fighting the Argonauts, while others fled. Soon, Jason discovered that the wind had brought the ship to the eastern coast of the Arkton, and the king of Cyzicus, with whom they had recently feasted at the wedding, lay dead - he mistook the Argonauts for pirates and fell in battle with them.

The travelers buried the glorious king. After several days of bad weather caused by the death of the king, they were able to continue their journey.

In the sea, the Argonauts had a dispute: Hercules offered to arrange a competition for the best rower. In the end, the demigod won, and Jason was the last to surrender. True, Hercules' enthusiasm let down - the Greek hero broke the oar, and "Argo" stood near the shore. In the evening of the same day, Hercules found a tree that could be turned into an oar.

However, the hero learned that his squire Gilas was missing. Hercules' assistant fell in love with the nymphs and went to the underwater grotto with them. The son of Zeus went to look for the squire. Without waiting for Hercules, Jason ordered the Argonauts to sail in the morning.

In an effort to get the golden fleece, the Argonauts went through many more adventures. They participated in the Olympic Games, accepting a challenge from the son of Poseidon Amicus, fought with the troops of the Babrik, performed a sacrifice ritual to appease the god of the seas, and saved the king Salmidesse Phineus from the harpies. By the way, the latter helped the Argonauts get through the rocks and suggested that Aphrodite would help them get the golden fleece. The Argonauts overcame the cliffs of the Symplegada, colliding with each other.

The travelers let a pigeon in front of them - it flew by, only the tail of the bird was injured. After that, the sailors sailed through the natural "guards" of the Bosphorus, who hit only the stern decoration of the ship. This was followed by an attack by dangerous Stymphalian birds, from which the travelers fled to the island of Ares. There, by the way, the Argonauts accepted into their ranks the refugees who had been thrown ashore during a storm at night.

Medea - the beloved woman and the salvation of Jason

The Argonauts' ship soon arrived at Colchild. The patron goddesses of travelers were able to persuade Aphrodite to arouse love for Jason in Medea.

The leader of the Argonauts asked the local ruler to give him the golden fleece, promising to do whatever Eet wanted. The king, who did not want to part with the legendary relic, came up with an impossible task for Jason: he needed to harness the royal fire-breathing bulls into a plow, plow the field of the god of war Ares on it, sow it with dragon teeth and kill the armored warriors who will grow out of these teeth.


Argonauts. Source:

Jason could have died, completing the task of Eet, if it were not for Medea, who is in love with him. The girl gave the leader of the Argonauts the magic ointment of the goddess Hecate. The ointment made a person invulnerable. Jason reciprocated Medea and offered to sail to Hellas with him. At night he brought a sacrifice to Hecate, and in the daytime he was already carrying out the tasks set by this. With the help of the ointment and advice from his beloved, Jason coped with all the difficulties.

The king was shocked by the exploits of Jason, on the same night, along with Medea, went for the golden fleece. With the help of spells, the girl put the dragon that was guarding the treasure to sleep. Jason took the fleece, and the Argonauts, and with them Medea, went home, fearing the persecution of Eet, who did not want to say goodbye to the relic.

Spirit, son of Eeth, went in pursuit of the Argonauts. His troops wanted to attack the Argo. However, it did not come to a battle, since Medea lured her brother to the temple, which stood on the shore, where Jason finished with him. Taking advantage of the confusion of the Colchisians, the Argonauts gained time and fended off their pursuers.

After the chase, the Argonauts stumbled upon new trouble. They were caught in a violent storm and nearly died. Jason and Medea had to go ashore in order to ask the gods for forgiveness for the death of Alcohol in a nearby temple.

Arriving in Korkira, which was then called Drepana, the Colchisians found that the Argo was standing opposite the Makrida island, and the whole team was celebrating the safe end of the voyage. The persecutors demanded that the local authorities hand over Medea and the golden fleece to Eet. However, the young people deceived the king of Colchis, quickly getting married - according to the laws, Medea had the right in this case to stay with Jason.

The ship of the Argonauts passed Scylla and Charybdis, the singing of sirens, strong winds and powerful waves that carried the team of travelers into the lifeless desert, in which the people of Jason were helped only by the ritual of sacrifice and the source previously obtained by Hercules.

Medea again rescued the Argonauts, giving the hostile giant Talos, who threw stones at anyone who approached the island of Crete, with a sleeping pill. While the monster slept, the girl drove a nail into the only vein that ran from the neck to the ankle.

Later, the Argonauts were helped by the forces of the god Apollo, who saved the travelers from the storm, illuminating their route with golden arrows. Finally the sailors arrived at Iolk. Jason brought the golden fleece to Pelius, but he did not fulfill his promise and did not return the royal throne to the leader of the Argonauts.