Classics 430:
Greek and Roman Mythology
27 February 2002

I.   Jason and the Argonauts!

1. Things: Argo, bad odor, the Harpies (Phineus), the Symplegades (Clashing Rocks), Golden Fleece, fire-breathing bulls, dragon's teeth (cf. Cadmus),  sleeping dragon, poison.
2. Places: Iolcus, Lemnos (stinky women), Bear Mountain (Doliones), Mysia, Bebryces, Salmydessus (Phineus), Colchis / Aea
3. People:  Jason, Argonauts (Herakles, Orpheus, Dioscuri [Castor and Polluxóchildren of Leda and Zeus], Boreads [Zetes and Calaisóchildren of Boreas], Telamon [father of Ajax], Peleus [father of Achilles], Idas, Lynceus, Admetus, Augeas [cf. Herakles' labor!], Tiphys, Argus [builder of the Argo], Acastus [Pelias' own son!]), Lemnian Women, Hylas [Herakles' little boyfriend; dies in Mysia], Cyzicus [king of Doliones], Amycus [boxer killed by Pollux at Bebryces], King Phineus [tortured by Harpies], Phineusí wife, Cleopatra.

Please remember to be very careful with names!  Do not confuse Iolcus with Colchis, Aeson with Iason (Jason), or Pelias with Peleus!  Oy, the names...

II. The Legends, in short (main sources:  the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius [Greek], the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus [Latin])

1. Jason has Argus build a huge ship, the Argo (in some versions, the Argo is the 'first ship' ever builtónote Greek anxieties about sea travel)
2. Jason gathers a group of heroes to accompany him on his trip.  These men are called the Argonauts, which means, 'sailors on the Argo' (cf. 'astronauts,' which means 'sailors on the stars' [but 'astronauts' sounds kind of cool, whereas 'star sailors' sounds like a Japanese animation series)
3. Women of Lemnos: Aphrodite / smell / no sex / murder!  (Herakles stays on the Argo with his boyfriend Hylas and refuses to have sex with the women).  Note for this other stories about Lemnos' famous odor: Philoctetes was left there because he had a disgusting stinky foot wound.  Remember what I said in class about Lemnos being particularly volcanic, and thus it has been thought that various odoriferous gasses (such as sulfur) might have incited the olfactory element of these myths..)
4. Cyzicus: warned to 'be nice to strangers,' but attack the Argonauts ("by mistake"), and are killed.
5. Herakles' oar breaks near Mysia.  They stop there to build a new oar, and Hylas dies (is drowned) by ëjoiningí water nymphs in a pond.  The Argonauts leave Herakles and Hylas in Mysia and keep sailing.  Herakles later kills Zetes and Calais for this slight, as they were the ones who wouldn't allow the Argonauts to return to pick up Herakles.
6. Bebryces: Pollux kills the evil boxer, Amycus.
7. Phineus and the Harpies:  misuse of oracular power, torture, starvation.
8. Symplegades: the 'Clashing Rocks'

III. Medea, Jason, the Golden Fleece

1. Jason and his men ask for the fleece (Medea made by Hera to love and help Jason)
2. Aeetes says, "no way!" and gives Jason a task: yoke fire-breathing bulls, sow dragon's teeth (more earth-born men!).  Medea helps out with protective ointment and advice.
3. Jason throws huge rock into midst of soldiers, they start in-fighting, Jason kills them.
4. Medea helps Jason get fleece from dragon; the two flee Colchis and return to Iolcus.
5.  Death of Pelias in Iolcus; Medea and Jason flee to Corinth
6. Jason and Medea in Corinth:  Creon, Glauke, the sons, Aegeus. (to be continued)

Compare the elements of this myth with those we've encountered before:  the impossible task as an element in 'hero-creation,' the Greek man who travels abroad for a quest, the sowing of dragon's teeth, the autochthonous soldiers who are bested by the Greek man, the non-Greek woman who betrays her family to 'come over to the Greek side,' the eventual betrayal of this foreign woman...