Nathan (vovat) wrote,

Countless Screaming Argonauts

I've never put any stock into astrology, but I'm quite interested in the constellations themselves, and they provide good jumping-off points for mythological discussions. I believe that today is the beginning of Aries being the dominant sign, and in Greek mythology, this constellation was associated with the flying ram Chrysomallos, who rescued Phrixus and Helle from their jealous stepmother Ino. Helle fell off and drowned in the Hellespont (hence its name), but Phrixus made it to Colchis, in modern-day Georgia (the former Soviet republic, not the American state). Once there, he sacrificed Chrysomallos to Zeus, and gave his golden fleece to King Aeetes. It was this fleece that the legendary Greek hero Jason sought, in order to win the throne of Iolcus from his usurping uncle Pelias.

As the ship that Jason used to sail to Colchis was known as the Argo (named after its builder Argus), the sailors were the Argonauts, and they made up a veritable who's who among classical Greek heroes. Castor, Polydeuces, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Herakles, Laertes, and Peleus have all been reported as crew members, and some lists even include Theseus. Considering that Theseus met an older version of Medea in Athens early in his career, his presence is somewhat unlikely, but consistency rarely seemed to be a priority for myth-makers. As I reported back in this entry, Aeetes' daughter Medea helped Jason and his crew to overcome the obstacles barring the way to the Fleece, but Jason later screwed her over in order to marry a Greek princess. Really, when you get right down to it, Greek heroes typically weren't very nice guys, but I guess people appreciated their ability to get things done.
Tags: mythology

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