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Greek mythology, the Argonauts ( Ancient Greek: polytonic|Αργοναύται) were a band of heroes who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jasonto Colchis(modern day Georgia) in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the " Argo", which was named after its builder, Argus. " Argonauts", therefore, literally means "Argo" sailors". They were sometimes called Minyans, after a prehistorictribe of the area.
After the death of King
Cretheus, the Aeolian Peliasusurped the Iolcan throne from his half-brother Aesonand became king of Iolcusin Thessaly(near the modern city of Volos). Because of this unlawful act, an oracle had warned him that a descendant of Aeoluswould seek revenge. Pelias put to death every prominent descendant of Aeolus he could reach, but spared Aeson at the dramatic pleas of his mother Tyro. Pelias, however, kept Aeson prisoner and forced him to renounce his inheritance. Later, Aeson married Alcimede, who bore him a son named Diomedes. Pelias intended to kill the baby at once, but Alcimede summoned her kinswomen to weep over him, as if he were a still-born. She faked a burial and smuggled the baby to Mount Pelion, where he was raised by the centaur Chiron, who changed the boy's name to Jason.
When Jason was 20 years old, he went to consult an oracle who ordered him to dress himself as a Magnesian, wear a leopard skin and carry two spears. Then he should head to the Iolcan court. Jason did as he was told. Now a new oracle warned Pelias to be on his guard against a man with one shoe. One day, Pelias was presiding over a solemn sacrifice to
Poseidon, which some neighboring kings attended. Among the crowd there stood a tall youth in leopard skin with only one sandal. Pelias came to recognize him as his nephew. Jason had lost his sandal while crossing the muddy Anavrosriver. He helped an old woman who was begging to be transported. That woman was Heraunder disguise, who wanted to punish Pelias for having neglected the customary sacrifices to her. When Pelias met Jason, he could not kill him on the spot, for some prominent kings of the Aeolian family were there. Instead, he approached the youth and asked: "What would you do if an oracle announced that one of your fellow-citizens were destined to kill you?". Jason replied that he would send him to go and fetch the Golden Fleece, not knowing that Hera had put those words in his mouth.
Jason learned later that Pelias was being haunted by the ghost of
Phrixus, who had fled from Orchomenusriding on a divine ram to avoid being sacrificed, and took refuge in Colchiswhere he was later denied proper burial. According to an oracle, Iolcus would never prosper unless his ghost was taken back in a ship, together with the golden ram's fleece. This fleece now hung from a tree in the grove of the Colchian Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Pelias swore before Zeusthat he would give up the throne at Jason's return, while expecting that Jason's attempt to steal the Golden Fleece would be a fatal enterprise. Hera, however, would act on Jason's favour during this perilous journey.
Jason was accompanied by some of the principal heroes of
ancient Greece. The number of Argonauts varies, but usually totals between 40 and 55; traditional versions of the story place their number at 50.
Some have hypothesised that the legend of the Golden Fleece was based on a practice of the
Black Seatribes of placing a lamb's fleece at the bottom of a stream to entrap gold dustbeing washed down from upstream. This practice was still in use in recent times, particularly in the Svanetiregion of Georgia.
The crew of the Argo
There is no definite list of Argonauts. Many Greeks would claim their ancestors were Argonauts, and there were too many named for them all to be accurate. The following list is no more than an educated guess.
The Argonauts (
Jasonand Medeaare sometimes not counted) were:
Atalanta(others claim Jason forbade her because she was a woman)
#Polydeuces (or Pollux)
#Polyphemos (Eilatos' son, who fought with the
Lapithsagainst the Centaurs)
poken-word myths — audio files
The Argonauts in literature
*"The Life and Death of Jason" (1867) by
*"Hercules, My Shipmate" (1945) by
The Greek Myths" by Robert Graves
*"Jason and Medea" by John Gardner -- a modern, epic poem in English.
* The Argonautica by
Gaius Valerius Flaccus-- a first-century AD Latin epic poem.
* The "
Argonautica" by Apolloniusof Rhodes -- a Hellenistic, Greek epic poem.
The Argonauts on film
Two movies titled "Jason and the Argonauts" have been made.
"Jason and the Argonauts" (1963), directed by Don Chaffey, shows Jason hosting Olympics-like games and selecting his crew from among the winners. Jason is very satisfied with his crew.
A Hallmark presentation TV movie, "Jason and the Argonauts" (2000), on the other hand, shows Jason having to settle for men with no sailing experience. This includes a thief who says "Who better than a thief to grab the Golden Fleece?"
A movie titled "Vesyolaya hronika opasnogo puteshestviya" (Amusing Chronicle of a Dangerous Voyage) was made in the
Soviet Unionin 1986 starring a famous Russian actor Alexander Abdulov. ( [http://imdb.com/title/tt0267092/ imdb] )
The Argonauts on radio
Australian Broadcasting Corporationfeatured Jason and the Argonauts in its children's radio broadcasting in Australia. "The Argonauts' Club" ran from 1933 until its closure on 2 April 1972. Children listened to the afternoon radio program and interacted with the presenters, whose leader was "Jason", by sending in stories, poems, and art works, some of which were described on air. Their interaction helped them gain status within the organisation, such as the Order of the Dragon's Toothand the Order of the Golden Fleece; but children were always only known by their Ship and number (Oar) in its crew. The format was devised initially by author Nina Murdoch. The longest serving presenter, and "Jason" throughout the show's run, was Athol Fleming who died in May of 1972.
Also, The Argonauts are referenced in the
They Might Be Giantssong Birdhouse in Your Soul. Kate Bushalso refers to argonauts on various songs. Metal band, 3 Inches of Blood reference the Argonauts in their song "The Hydra's Teeth". Warwick Lobbanalso referenced the Argonauts in his song 'The Prospective Argonaut'.
In 2001, a radio drama adaptation of Apollonius Rhodius' epic, Jason and the Argonauts, was produced by the
Radio Talesseries for National Public Radio, and is rebroadcast by XM Satellite Radio. For the synopsis of the Radio Tales adaptation, see Jason and the Argonauts (radio) summary.
California gold rush
Jasonfor more details on the quest for the Golden Fleece
Toronto Argonauts, a Canadian Football League Team
* [http://www.volosradio.gr/Argo_EN.htm Today's voyage of the Argonauts] Experimental voyage from Iolkos to Venice
* [http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical Timeless Myths: Argonauts]
Apollonius Rhodius, " Argonautica" I, 23-227;
Apollodorus, " Bibliotheke" I, ix, 16.
Ken Inglis, "This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932-1983", 2006
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