I to Iolaos Iole to Ixion


The son of Aison and Alkimede (Alcimede) and the great-grandson of Minyas.

The life of Iason was defined by two major and interconnected events: the quest for the Golden Fleece and the love of the sorceress, Medea (Medeia).

As in most heroic episodes in Greek pre-history, there is no clear beginning or starting point from which we can draw a clear cause-and-effect relationship for Iason’s glory and his, seemingly pointless, death; Iason’s father, Aison, was supposed to take the throne of Iolkos (Iolcos) after the death of his father, Kretheus (Cretheus), but he was cheated out of his inheritance by his brother-in-law, Pelias.

As a child, Iason was removed from Iolkos and put in the care of the Centaur, Kheiron (Chiron), for his protection and education; the goddess, Hera, on one of her frequent excursions into the world of mortal humans, disguised herself as an old woman and waited on the banks of the river Anauros for a kind stranger to help her cross the surging river; Iason, now a young man, assisted Hera and, by this simple demonstration of his chivalrous character, earned the eternal love and protection of the queen of the Immortals.

King Pelias, on the other hand, earned Hera’s wrath by neglecting her at his sacrifices; Hera’s love of Iason and her hatred of Pelias combined to set the stage for the quest for the Golden Fleece, the love affair with Medea and the cruel death of Pelias.

When Iason came to Iolkos in the bloom of his manhood, Pelias knew that he was doomed unless he could contrive Iason’s death; Pelias had been given an oracle that said that a youth wearing one sandal would come to Iolkos and take his throne; Iason had lost one of his sandals in the river Anauros and had entered Iolkos just as the oracle had predicted; Pelias was foolish, or arrogant, enough to think that he could thwart the will of the Immortals and avoid his prescribed fate by sending Iason on a seemingly hopeless quest; he commanded Iason the retrieve the Golden Fleece from king Aietes (Aeetes) in the far-off land of Kolkhis (Colchis); Pelias knew that king Aietes would not surrender the Golden Fleece willingly and that Iason would probably be killed by king Aietes if he was lucky enough to survive the dangerous sea voyage to Kolkhis.

Iason accepted the challenge and gathered the most renowned group of heroes ever assembled in the ancient world to accompany him on the quest for the Golden Fleece; the goddess, Athene (Athena), assisted in the construction of the ship the sailors were to use and the craft was named Argo, i.e. Swift, and the crew members were called the Argonauts; Athene even spoke to Iason and his crew through the keel of the magical ship; with the protection of Hera and Athene, Iason set sail for Kolkhis.

When the Argo reached the island of Lemnos, the crew was delighted to find that the island was inhabited only by women; they did not realize that the women of Lemnos had killed all the men of the island and were eager to find new husbands; Iason became involved with the former king’s daughter, Hypsipyle, and fathered two children with her; after leaving Lemnos, the Argo sailed through many dangers and arrived on the shores of Kolkhis with only a few casualties among the Argonauts.

Iason approached king Aietes and humbly asked for the Golden Fleece but Aietes was not inclined to be cooperative; he demanded that Iason prove his strength and bravery by completing a series of tests to prove himself worthy of such a divine artifact; the Golden Fleece had been taken from a ram that had been created by Hermes and the Golden Fleece had been enshrined in a precinct of Kolkhis that was sacred to Ares (god of War); the Golden Fleece was not something that could be given or taken lightly and Iason was required to harness two supernatural brass-footed bulls, sow the teeth of a dragon and fight the warriors that grew from the dragon’s teeth.

King Aietes’ daughter, Medea, became the crux of the situation; she was also the niece of the mistress of spells and potions, Kirke (Circe), and a priestess of the goddess Hekate (Hecate); Hera and Athene went to Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and asked her to prompt Eros (the primal god of Love) to shoot Medea with one of his irresistible arrows of desire; after she had been wounded by Eros’ arrow, Medea could not help but to love Iason when he arrived at her father’s palace; Medea gave Iason a potion which would allow him to complete all the tasks her father had deemed necessary and then charmed the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece so that Iason could take it; knowing that her father would be very angry at her for assisting Iason, Medea fled Kolkhis with Iason and the Argonauts.

Medea’s half-brother, Apsyrtos, followed with a fleet of ships and was determined to capture Medea and return her to Aietes for punishment; at this point, Iason became a man blinded by his passions; instead of confronting Apsyrtos in manly combat, Iason and Medea devised a clever, but cowardly, plan by which they could evade Apsyrtos’ pursuit and escape with the Golden Fleece; Medea approached Apsyrtos and pretended to surrender to him while Iason laid in ambush; Apsyrtos was caught unawares and murdered by Iason.

Zeus, who sees and knows all, was very angry with Iason and Medea and contrived that they should seek forgiveness from Medea’s aunt, Kirke; when Kirke heard their sad tale, she would not forgive them and sent them on their way to suffer the shame and hardships that Zeus had devised; Hera implored Thetis and the other Nereids, Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and Aiolos (Aeolus) (lord of the Winds) to protect the Argonauts and guide them through the dangers that awaited them on the open sea.

When Iason and Medea arrived on the island of the Phaiakians (Phaeacians), they asked for sanctuary from king Alkinoos (Alcinous); Aietes demanded that king Alkinoos surrender Medea but Alkinoos declared that he would help Iason and Medea only if they were married; Iason and Medea took the scared wedding vows and were given sanctuary.

After leaving the protection of king Alkinoos, Medea continued to use her magical powers to assist Iason by killing the brass-man, Talos, on the island of Crete; when they finally returned to Iolkos with the Golden Fleece, Iason was distressed to learn that king Pelias was responsible for the death of his father, Aison; as an act of revenge, Medea convinced the daughters of Pelias that she had the power to give the aging king eternal youth if the girls would only chop their father into bits and boil him in a magical potion; the unwitting girls killed their father but he was not brought back to life as Medea had promised.

Pelias’ son, Akastos (Acastus), assumed the throne of Iolkos and forced Iason and Medea to leave the country; they settled in the city of Korinth (Corinth) and lived under the protection of king Kreon (Creon); many years and two children later, Iason fell in love with the king Kreon’s daughter, Glauke (Glauce) and the shunned Medea used her magical powers in their most destructive and cruel way; she killed Kreon, Glauke, her own children and fled to the city of Athens.

After this event, Iason’s fate becomes unclear; he either killed himself in desperate sorrow or was crushed under the decks of the Argo as he slept; Medea went on to play a significant role in the life if the Athenian hero, Theseus, and the founding of the race known as the Medes in Asia Minor.

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I to Iolaos Iole to Ixion


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