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Unformatted text preview: Jason and Medea 05/12/2007 09:34:00 Jason and Medea The story of the voyage of the Argo has much in common with the myths of Theseus (inasmuch as Jason relies on female aid), of Heracles (for Jason is forced to undergo labors by a king), of Cadmus (since Jason sows the teeth of the dragon at Thebes), and of Odysseus (because Jason also angers a god and his nostos (return home) is likewise delayed. In contrast to previous stories of heroes dependant on female aid, such as Minos, helped by Scylla to invade Megara, and Theseus, helped by Ariadne to kill the Minotaur, Jason neither kills nor abandons Medea (at least not right away), but in fact marries her in return for her help recovering the Golden Fleece. OUTLINE 1. The Golden Fleece 2. The Voyage of the Argo 3. Labors in Colchis 4. Tragedy in Corinth 1. The Golden Fleece As we saw earlier in the course, Phrixus and Helle escape the plots of their stepmother Ino on the back of a magic ram, the child of Poseidon and a nymph (both of whom had taken the sheep form during their affair). You remember that Ino was the sister of Semele, and that she, together with her husband Athamas, raised Dionysus (secretly, as a girl) after Semeles death. Hera was angry and drove them mad so that they killed their own two sons. In a way, then, Inos cruelty to Phrixus and Helle Ino is punishedalthough afterwards she will be transformed into the sea goddess Leucothea (who helps Odysseus reach the Phaeacian shore). Helle falls off the ram at a place that is named the Hellespont (Helles Sea) after her, but Phrixus flew all the way to Colchis, on the eastern edge of the Black Sea, where he was welcomed by King Aietes. The magic ram was sacrificed and hung up in a grove sacred to Ares. Phrixus married a daughter of Aietes, and never returned to Greece. 2. The Voyage of Argo In the generation after Athamas rule, Aeson, the rightful ruler of Iolcus in Thessaly, is usurped by his brother Pelias. Aesons son, Jason, is raised in secret (taught by Chiron the centaur in the mountains outside Iolcus). When he comes of age, Jason comes down from the mountains to Iolcus. He helps an old woman cross a river swollen with the melted winter snows, without knowing that the old woman is actually Hera in disguise. He loses one of his sandals in the river during the crossing. Hera becomes his strongest ally as a result of this act of kindness....
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- Fall '07