'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

01 January 2011

The Argonauts

Jason and His Boat Load of Young Heroes.
Inspiration for all times.
Following the death of king Cretheus, his adopted son Pelias seized the throne of Iolcos in Thessaly from his half-brother Aeson, who fearing for his newborn son Jason, announced that the boy was dead, and sent him to Mt. Pelion to be brought up in secret by the famed Centaur Chiron his wife Chariclo and his mother Philyra. This centaur is also known for raising the young Achilles. After twenty years, Jason returned to Iolcos dressed in a tiger-skin with a spear in each hand, and with no sandal on his left foot (lost in a river). When Pelias saw him, he remembered an oracle  that warned him to mistrust a man with one sandal. Pelias asked the stranger who he was, and Jason declared that he was the son of Aeson, and had come to claim the throne. On the sixth day, to set a trap and get rid of Jason, Pelias offered to give up the throne if Jason travelled to Colchis and brought back the Golden Fleece. 

 (Phrixus had escaped sacrifice with his sister Helle, on the back of a golden ram. Helle drowned and Phrixus came to Colchis, sacrificed the Ram and  the Golden Fleece was given to Aeetes and to protect the kingdom. It was nailed  to an oak where it was guarded by a dragon.) 


Jason gathered together the  young heroes who would be the Argonauts. Argos built a fifty-oared ship, the Argo. ( the standard was 30 oars) Athena cut a beam from her father Zeus’ oak at Dodona, gave it the power of speech and prophecy and attached  it to the prow. 

The Argonauts gathered at Pagasae, where they sacrificed to Apollo. The omens were good; they were interpreted by Idmon who said that all of them would return  from the mission, except himself. Their first stop was Aphetae, to renew their water supplies and where some say Heracles may have left them. Chased by storms, the Argonauts reached the island of Lemnos which was ruled by women, who had killed all the men. They originally regarded the heroes as enemies, but eventually as lovers. Jason chose the queen Hypsipyle, the daughter of Thoas, and the others, except Heracles, indulged themselves there for  two years leaving numerous sons named after their fathers. 

On Orpheus’ advice, the Argonauts sailed to Samothrace, where they were initiated into the mysteries of Persephone. Then through the strait of Hellespont to the Propontis then the land of the Doliones, the descendants of Poseidon, and ruled by King Cyzicus who had just married Clite, the daughter of the soothsayer Merops. Cyzicus invited them to share his wedding banquet, but during the festivities, the Argo’s guards were attacked by six-handed giants; Heracles killed them all. The next day, the Argonauts continued their journey, but a storm drove them back. The Doliones attacked the Argonauts mistaking them for pirates and, in the battle, Jason killed king Cyzicus. After the  mistake was recognized, friendship was re-established, and Jason and his friends took part in funeral games for the king, however, the young king’s widow, hanged herself in sorrow. Because of unfavourable winds, the Argonauts remained for another twelve days. Hera then sent a bird with a message saying that the Argonauts should erect the statue of Cybele on Mount Dindymus, as appeasement for killing  the children of Mother Earth, the six-handed giants. As soon as they did that, the sea calmed down and they continued on. 

Heracles had initiated a rowing competition, but when they reached Mysia, near the mouth of the river Chius, Heracles’ oar broke, and they had to land to get a new oar and  water supplies. Heracles went to find wood for his oar, and his lover, the squire Hylas, went to find water. At Pegae wellspring, Hylas met Nymphs, who, enchanted by his beauty, lured him to the water and drowned him. Polyphemus heard Hylas’ cries and hurried to save him. On his way, he met Heracles who joined him in the vain search. Heracles cried his name, and the Nynphs, fearing being caught , transformed Hylas into an echo, so  when Heracles cried his name he would hear back "Hylas -, Hylas - Hylas."   They were left behind by the Argo. 

In Bithynia, on the coast of Propontis a country ruled by King Amycus, (the son of Poseidon) they were refused food or water, until one of them fought with him in the ring. Polydeuces accepted the challenge and defeated the King, and he was made to promise he would stop harming strangers. They arrived at the land of King Phineus to whom the gods had given the gift of prophecy, but after he had started to reveal their plans to mortals, Zeus blinded him and gave him a long life plagued by a pair of Harpies, the ugly, winged, female creatures who snatched away everything that was put before him, especially food. Phineus promised Jason that he would tell him how to reach the Colchis and win the golden fleece, if he freed him from Harpies. Calais and Zetes, the winged sons of Boreas, took this task on themselves, so when the Harpies descended, they chased them into the air and across the sea, or killed them. Phineus told Jason how to guide the ship between the Symplegades rocks that guarded the entrance to the Bosphorus. When reaching the ‘Clashing Rocks’,  the rocks would drive together and crush the ship, but as advised, Euphemus let a dove fly in front of Argo. The dove managed to get through the channel before the moving rocks closed, and when they separated again, the Argonauts rowed through in full speed, with the help of Hera and Athena. From then on, the rocks remained motionless, as the prophecy said that once a ship passed between them safely, they could move no more. Into the Black Sea, the Argonauts reached the island of Thynias then to the land of the Mariandyni, where they were welcomed by king Lycus. Lycus had already heard that his bitter enemy king Amycus was killed by the Argonauts, and grateful, he offered them his son Dascylus to guide them on their voyage. During their stay with Mariandyni, the seer Idmon was attacked by a boar and died. While the funeral rites organized in his honour were still on, the steersman Tiphys got sick and died as well. Next they reached the city of Sinope in Paphalogonia, where Autolycus and his brothers joined Jason. Then they sailed past the lands of the Amazons and the Chalybians. Near the island Aria, they were attacked by a flock of bronze birds who showered them with their sharp metal feathers but they drove them away by clashing their swords against their shields. On the same island, they met Argos, Cytissorus, Melas and Phrontis, the sons of Phrixus, who were shipwrecked. They soon reached Colchis, the land of the Helios’ son, king Aeetes. Jason presented himself to the king and demanded the Golden Fleece. Remembering an old prophecy saying that he would rule as long as he possessed the Golden Fleece, king Aeetes got scared for his life and crown, and decided to destroy Jason. He promised him the Golden Fleece, on condition that he should yoke two fire-breathing bulls with brazen hoofs, the creations of Hephaestus. After that, he would have to plough the Field of Ares and sow it with the dragon’s teeth (these were the rest of the teeth of the Ares’ dragon at Thebes, which Athena had given to Aeetes). 

Jason was helped by Aeetes’ daughter, the sorceress Medea. Athena and Hera had convinced Aphrodite to send her son Eros to make Medea fall in love with Jason.  He promised her eternal love and she gave him a magic lotion made from saffron that grew out of Prometheus’ blood, with which he was to cover his body, spear and shield before he attacked the bulls. He yoked the bulls and ploughed the field but from the sowed dragon’s teeth, an army of armed men immediately sprouted, but Jason threw a stone among them, and men started to attack and kill each other. 
The King then threatened to burn the Argo and kill its crew. But Medea took Jason to where the fleece hung on the oak-tree, guarded by a huge dragon. Medea put a spell on the dragon, and Jason unfastened the fleece from the tree. They hurried down to the beach where the Argonauts were waiting, to escape. Aeetes gave chase, but Medea, killed her half-brother Apsyrtus, cut him into pieces, and then threw the pieces into the sea. While the Colchians were searching the sea for the body parts, the Argo sailed away.
After Apsyrtus’ murder, Zeus sent a storm to drive the Argo off course. The ship itself then started to speak, saying that Zeus wouldn’t calm down unless Jason and Medea went to Circe, Medea’s aunt, to be purified. The Argonauts then sailed up the rivers Danube and Save, and then down the Po, into the Adriatic Sea. Finally they reached the island of Aeaea, where the sorceress Circe lived. She purified both Jason and Medea of the murder, but refused to offer them hospitality. They passed the island of the Sirens but were saved as Orpheus’ song was louder then the singing of the Sirens. Only Butes responded to the voices and jumped into the sea, but he was rescued by Aphrodite who took him to Lilybaeum in Sicily and made him her lover.    
Then, the Argonauts passed through the straits of Scylla and Charybdis, past  the island of Thrinacia where the cattle of Helios grazed, and then arrived at Corcyra, in the land of the Phaeacians. At the court of the Phaeacian king Here they met a group of Colchians who demanded Medea and the Golden Fleece. The King Alcinous consulted his wife Arete and then told the Colchians that they could bring Medea to Colchis only if she was still a virgin. Jason’s and Medea got married that night. When a storm drove them to the shores of Libya, they had to carry the Argo on their shoulders for twelve days, until they reached the Lake Tritonis, where the god Triton appeared, and showed them the way to Mediterranean Sea. The Argonauts reached Crete, but when they tried to disembark, they were attacked by Talos who hurled huge stones. Talos, the bronze giant created by Hephaestus, protected the island from strangers, but was invulnerable except in the lower part of his leg, where there was a vein closed at the top by a bronze nail. Medea promised him immortality, gave him a magic potion that put him into sleep, she removed the nail, opened up the vein, and Talos died. On the Cretan Sea, the Argo was caught again in a terrible storm. Apollo sent a flesh of light which showed them that they were very close to the island of Anaphe. The Argonauts landed on the island and raised a shrine to Apollo, but instead of wine, they offered water. When they saw this unusual sacrifice, the female servants given to Medea by queen Arete, started to laugh at the Argonauts. Since then, this custom was repeated on the island; every sacrifice in the honour of Apollo was accompanied with jokes and celebrations. They sailed to Aegina, and then to Iolcos, but, when they arrived there, they found no one to greet them and that Pelias had killed his parents, as well as their newborn son, Promachus. When Medea heard this she decided to punish Pelias. She went to the court, claiming that Artemis had sent her to rejuvenate him. In front of Pelias and his daughters, she took an old ram, cut him into pieces, boiled him in a cauldron, and then took a lamb out of the cauldron. Convinced that he would be rejuvenated, Pelias lay on a couch. Medea put him to sleep; then she instructed his daughters to cut him into pieces, the same way she had just done with the ram, and to boil the pieces in the same cauldron. Pelias’ daughters did what they were told. When Pelias  was dead, Acastus, his son and one of the Argonauts, became king, and  expelled Jason and Medea from Iolcus. Jason and Medea went to Corinth, and lived there for ten years. But Jason decided to marry the king's daughter and divorce Medea.  Medea  with the help of poisonous drugs  made a golden crown and bade her sons give it as a gift to their stepmother. When this was done she also killed her own sons and fled to Athens. Jason either died with his new wife or killed himself. Medea having plotted against Theseus, was driven from Athens. She returned to Colchis, killed her uncle and restored the kingdom to her deposed father.
The Argonauts are many- according to which tale one hears. Below is a list of the contenders.

Acastus.  Son of Pelias 1 and joined the Argonauts against his father's will.
Actor.  Son of Hippasus 2.
Admetus.  King of Pherae,  whom Apollo served for having killed the Cyclops.
Aethalides.  The herald of the Argonautswas the son of Hermes & Eupolemia.
Amphiaraus.  See one of the band of Seven against Thebes.
Amphidamas.  Son of King Aleus.
Amphion.  A Macedonian.
Ancaeus 1. Son of King Lycurgus 2.
Ancaeus 2.  King of Samos.
Argus.  He built the Argo.
Ariu.  Son of King Bias 1.
Ascalaphus 1.  Became a leader in the wars against Troy.
Asterion.  From Pellene.
Asterius.  A Thessalian.
Atalanta.  She was exposed by her father at birth, but was suckled by a she-bear until hunters found her and brought her up.
Autolycus.  Son of Hermes who gave him the gift of being a skilful thief & could change whatever he stole into something else.
Butes.  Swam  to the Sirens but was carried away by Aphrodite and settled  in Sicily.
Caeneus.  Son of a Lapith general.
Calais.  Son of the North Wind. He had wings on head and feet.
Canthus.  Died wandering in the furthest ends of Libya.
Castor.  One of the Twins
Cepheus.  King of Tegea
Clymenus.  Brother of Iphiclus 1.
Clytius.  Son of the Oechalian prince Eurytus 4.
Coronus.  General of the Lapiths.
Deucalion 2.  Son of King Minos 2 of Crete.
Echion.  Son of Hermes.
Euphemus.  From Psamathe.
Euryalus.  Later an Achaean Leader.
Eurymedon.  Son of Dionysus 2 & Ariadne
Eurytion.  King of Phthia.
Eurytus.  Son of Hermes.
Heracles.  Hercules
Hylas.  Hercules Lover,dwawn into the water by Nymphs and disappeared.
Ialmenus.  Later an Achaean Leader.
Idas.  Prince of Messenia.
Idmon.  A seer.
Iolaus.  The charioteer and lover of Heracles.
Iphiclus 1.  He could run on fruit of the asphodel and not break it, and run with his feet upon wheaten ears and not hurt the fruit.
Iphiclus 2.  Son of Thestius 1.
Iphis.  Killed in battle in Colchis.
Iphitus.  Gave Odysseus his  bow.
Jason.  Captain of the Argonauts.
Laertes.  Odysseus' father.
Leitus.  Later an Achaean Leader.
Lynceus.  Could see so well that he could even see things under ground
Menoetius.  Son of Actor 3 & Aegina.
Mopsus.  A seer.
Nauplius 1.  To avenge his son's death  he made the wives of the soldiers of Troy unfaithful and lured sailors to death by false lights.
Nauplius 2.  A descendant of Nauplius 1.
Neleus  Founder of Pylos.
Nestor  Son of Neleus. In age he went to the war in Troy.
Oileus.  Father of Ajax 2. Oileus 1 was son of Hodoedocus & Agrianome, daughter of Perseon.
Peleus.  Achilles' father.
Peneleus.  Later an Achaean Leader.
Periclymenus.  Poseidon granted him the power of changing his shape into a lion, or snake or a bee, or other forms.
Phalerus.  An Athenian.
Phanus.  Son of Dionysus .
Phlias.  Phliasia near Sicyonia is called after him.
Pirithous.  Wooed Persephone and for her sake descended to Hades.
Poeas.  Kindled the pyre of Heracles  and received his bow. Father of Philoctetes.
Polyphemus.  Was left in Mysia by the ARGONAUTS and founded there a city Cius and reigned as king.
Talaus.  King of the Argives.
Telamon.  Father of Ajax.
Tiphys.  Pilot of the Argo (the vessel of the ARGONAUTS).
Tydeus.  Later one of the Seven against Thebes.
Zetes.  Son of  the North Wind. He is said to have wings on his head and feet.
Modern archaeology is beginning to suggest that Iolocus was real and Jason did indeed live around 1400 years BCE. He was perhaps a trader who designed a large ship which set sail from Greece through the Bosporus and across the Black Sea to what is now modern Georgia in search of trade and gold. There the ancient method of gathering gold washed from the mountains was to catch it from sediment rinsed through a woollen fleece.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment here or in side bar or you can email me at pepispictures@gmail.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...