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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Voyage Route Map