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SwordOne of the great Greek heroes, Jason was born to Aeson, king of Iolkos in Thessaly, and grew up under the care of the wise Centaur Cheiron, after he had been smuggled out of the city, his father's throne having been usurped by his stepbrother, Pelias. At the age of twenty, Jason was told by an oracle to return to Iolkos and present himself to Pelias, claiming back his father's throne. Pelias, however, had also been advised by an oracle that a descendant of Aeson would dethrone him, and moreover, that that descendant would appear wearing only one sandal.

Jason - from Movie "Jason and the Argonauts"

On his way back to Iolkos, Jason had to ford the river Enipeus, and was helped across by Hera, taking the form of an old woman. In the crossing, however, Jason lost one sandal, and so arrived at the court of Pelias wearing but one sandal. The king, recognizing him, but reluctant to abdicate, instead set Jason the task of proving himself, by fetching the fabled Golden Fleece from Aea - Capital of Kolchis. Agreeing to this, Jason set about having a ship built, the largest vessel at the time, which he called Argo. When the ship was ready, he sent out a call for the greatest heroes in Greece to join him on his quest. Among those who answered his call were Hercules, Castor and Pollux, Meleagros, Orpheus, Peleus, Neleus, Admetos, Theseus, Peirithoos, his personal friend, and two sons of the wind god Boreas, called Kalais and Zetes.

Golden Fleece

The story of the Golden Fleece was thus:Nephele, the departed wife of Athamas, himself a son of Jason's grandfather, the wind god Aeolos, appeared to Athamas, warning him that his new wife, Ino, disliked her two children, Phrixos and Helle, and was plotting to kill them. To save the two children, Nephele presented to Athamas a large golden ram, on which the two children escaped over the sea, Helle being drowned on the way. But Phrixos survived, and landing at Kolchis, sacrificed the ram to Zeus, and hung the fleece up in the temple of Ares. The heroes, or Argonauts, as they became known, set off on their search, and reached the island of Lemnos, where they stayed awhile, siring a new race of heroes. Jason fell in love with Hypsipyle, who bore to him a son called Euneos. Leaving the island, the heroes proceeded to Kyzikos, where Hercules, having broken his oar, went ashore to cut wood for a new one, accompanied by Hylas. But some nymphs on the island, taken with the beauty of Hylas, captured him, and Hercules resolved to remain there until he rescued his friend. The expedition could not wait, and the Argonauts had to proceed without their greatest hero.

Next they reached Scutari, where the king, Amykos challenged them to a boxing match, as he did all strangers in his land. Famed as a boxer, and as a man of extraordinary cruelty, Amykos nevertheless met his match in Pollux, and the Argonauts continued their journey, reaching the district where the blind Phineus lived, constantly plagued by Harpies. Kalais and Zetes released him from this bondage, driving the foul creatures off, and in gratitude the aged man showed them a safe path through the Symplegades, two giant cliffs that closed together, crushing all caught in their deadly embrace. Jason sent a pigeon through the gap, and the rocks closed on the bird. Then, as they were moving apart again, the Argo sailed quickly through, passing safely, with the loss of her rudder only.

Finally, the heroes reached Kolchis, but the king there, Aeetes, refused to give up the fleece unless the Argonauts could perform certain tasks for him. The first was to yoke his unmanageable bulls, which snorted fire and had hooves of brass, to a plough, and then to sow the fields with dragon's teeth, from which armed men would spring in the furrows. This was all done, and Jason was allowed fetch the Golden Fleece, which was guarded by a huge dragon where it hung on an oak, in a grove sacred to Ares. Jason, however, had been made proof against fire and sword by Medea, and he succeeded in taking the fleece.

Medea & JAson

The Argonauts left Kolchis, Jason taking with him Medea, Aeetes' daughter. When he missed her, the king gave chase, and was only stopped when Medea, dismembering her younger brother and casting the pieces in the sea, delayed him. Jason returned to present the Golden Fleece to Pelias, who, refusing yet to give over the throne, was slain by the hero, who then ruled over Iolkos, as well as Corinth, which Medea's father had ruled before leaving for Kolchis. Jason ruled for some years with Medea by his side, but then he formed a relationship with Kreusa, and married her. Incensed by this, Medea sent her rival a poisoned dress, which took her life, and not content with this, set fire to the palace of her father, Kreon, and slew all the children she herself had borne to Jason. Then she fled to Athens, where she married Aegeus, living with him until Theseus drove her out. Jason himself, troubled at the grief his ex-wife had caused, retired to the isthmus of Corinth, where the Argo lay. But on approaching the ship, part of the stern gave way and fell on him, killing him.

Word MEDICINE derives from Medea since it was believed that she possessed healing powers by mixing herbs and people were coming to her from all over Kolchis for cure.

Argonauts' Voyage Route Map
Argonauts' Voyage Route Map