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9/14/2018

Myth of Golden Fleece


Golden Fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. It was the fleece (skin) of a winged ram which had hair of golden colour. It was preserved in Colchis under the watch of King Aeetes. The Golden Fleece has a long background:

Asthma was the King of Orchomenus. He married Nephele , a goddess. He had two children with her—Phrixus and Helle. But he divorce Nephele and married Ino--- Learches and Melicertes. One year no crops grew in Orchomenus because of an acute drought. Ino to get rid of her stepchildren, asked Asthma to sacrifice his first two children to Zeus in order to restore rain and fertility. When he was ready to sacrifice the first two children, Nephele sent there a winged golden ram to save them. The ram flew with them over the sea. Helle fell down but the ram carried Phrixus to Colchis which was ruled by Aeetes. There Phrixus married one of Aeetes ‘s daughters, Chalciope . In gratitude Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and presented the fleece to Aeetes who hang it on an oak tree. Aeetes also employed an ever-watchful dragon to guard it. So it was almost impossible to steal it.

Pelias was the King of Iolcus in Thessaly. He was afraid that Jason, one of his nephews , would overthrough him. To get rid of him, he diplomatically sent Jason to Colchis to steal the golden fleece from Aeetes .  Jason set out with 50 herose of his choice, known as Argonauts, on a ship called Argo made by Argus. He reached Calchis safely . Medea , another daughter of Aeetes, fell in love with Jason  healed him. With her help, Jason killed the dragon, acquired the fleece and fled away with Medea whom he later married.

We come across the myth of Golden Fleece in Euripides’s “Medea” , Seneca's “Medea” and in several other texts.

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