Template:No footnotes

For other uses of this term, see Argonaut.
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File:Lorenzo Costa 001.jpg

The Argonauts (Template:Lang-el, Argonautai; Template:Lang-ka, ArgonavTebi, (Laz language: Argonatepe)) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis (modern day west of Georgia) in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means "Argo sailors". They were sometimes called Minyans, after a prehistoric tribe of the area.


After the death of King Cretheus, the Aeolian Pelias usurped the Iolcan throne from his half-brother Aeson and became king of Iolcus in Thessaly (near the modern city of Volos). Because of this unlawful act, an oracle warned him that a descendant of Aeolus would seek revenge. Pelias put to death every prominent descendant of Aeolus he could, but spared Aeson because of the pleas of their mother Tyro. Instead, Pelias kept Aeson prisoner and forced him to renounce his inheritance. Aeson married Alcimede, who bore him a son named Diomedes. Pelias intended to kill the baby at once, but Alcimede summoned her kinswomen to weep over him as if he were stillborn. She faked a burial and smuggled the baby to Mount Pelion. He was raised by the centaur Chiron, who changed the boy's name to Jason.

When Jason was 20 years old, an oracle ordered him to dress as a Magnesian and head to the Iolcan court. While traveling Jason lost his sandal crossing the muddy Anavros river while helping an old woman (Hera in disguise) ford. The goddess was angry with King Pelias for killing his stepmother Sidero after she had sought refuge in Hera's temple.

Another oracle warned Pelias to be on his guard against a man with one shoe. Pelias was presiding over a sacrifice to Poseidon with several neighboring kings in attendance. Among the crowd stood a tall youth in leopard skin with only one sandal. Pelias recognized that Jason was his cousin. He could not kill him because prominent kings of the Aeolian family were present. Instead, he asked Jason: "What would you do if an oracle announced that one of your fellow-citizens were destined to kill you?". Jason replied that he would send him to go and fetch the Golden Fleece, not knowing that Hera had put those words in his mouth.

Jason learned later that Pelias was being haunted by the ghost of Phrixus. Phrixus had fled from Orchomenus riding on a divine ram to avoid being sacrificed and took refuge in Colchis where he was later denied proper burial. According to an oracle, Iolcus would never prosper unless his ghost was taken back in a ship, together with the golden ram's fleece. This fleece now hung from a tree in the grove of the Colchian Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Pelias swore before Zeus that he would give up the throne at Jason's return while expecting that Jason's attempt to steal the Golden Fleece would be a fatal enterprise. However, Hera acted in Jason's favour during the perilous journey.

Jason was accompanied by some of the principal heroes of ancient Greece. The number of Argonauts varies, but usually totals between 40 and 55; traditional versions of the story place their number at 50.

Some have hypothesized that the legend of the Golden Fleece was based on a practice of the Black Sea tribes; they would place a lamb's fleece at the bottom of a stream to entrap gold dust being washed down from upstream. This practice was still in use in recent times, particularly in the Svaneti region of Georgia. See Golden Fleece for other interpretations.

The crew of the ArgoEdit

Template:Unreferenced section There is no definite list of Argonauts. Many Greeks would claim their ancestors were Argonauts, and there were too many named for them all to be accurate. The following list is no more than an educated guess.Template:Citation needed

The Argonauts (Jason and Medea are sometimes not counted) were: Template:Div col

  1. Acastus
  2. Admetus
  3. Aethalides
  4. Amphion
  5. Ancaeus
  6. Argus
  7. Ascalaphus
  8. Atalanta (others claim Jason forbade her because she was a woman or that she was asked, but refused)
  9. Autolycus
  10. Bellerophon
  11. Butes
  12. Calais
  13. Canthus
  14. Castor
  15. Cytissorus
  16. Echion
  17. Erginus
  18. Euphemus
  19. Euryalus
  20. Heracles/Hercules
  21. Hylas
  22. Idas
  23. Idmon
  24. Iolaus
  25. Iphitos
  26. Jason
  27. Laertes
  28. Lynceus
  29. Medea
  30. Melas
  31. Meleager
  32. Mopsus
  33. Nestor
  34. Oileus
  35. Orpheus
  36. Palaemon
  37. Palaimonius
  38. Peleus
  39. Philoctetes
  40. Phrontis
  41. Poeas
  42. Polydeuces (or Pollux)
  43. Polyphemos (Eilatos' son, who fought with the Lapiths against the Centaurs)
  44. Poriclymenus
  45. Talaus
  46. Telamon
  47. Theseus
  48. Tiphys
  49. Zetes

Template:Div col end

Spoken-word myths — audio filesEdit

Argonaut myths as told by story tellers
1. Heracles in Mysia (Hylas episode), read by Timothy Carter, music by Steve Gorn, compiled by Andrew Calimach
Bibliography of reconstruction: Homer, Odyssey, 12.072 (7th c. BC); Theocritus, Idylls, 13 (350 - 310 BC); Callimachus, Aetia (Causes), 24. Thiodamas the Dryopian, Fragments, 160. Hymn to Artemis (310 - 250? BC); Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika, I. 1175 - 1280 (c. 250 BC); Apollodorus, Library and Epitome 1.9.19, 2.7.7 (140 BC); Sextus Propertius, Elegies, i.20.17ff (50 - 15 BC); Ovid, Ibis, 488 (AD 8 - 18); Gaius Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, I.110, III.535, 560, IV.1-57 (1st c. AD); Hyginus, Fables, 14. Argonauts Assembled (1st c. AD); Philostratus the Elder, Images, ii.24 Thiodamas (AD 170 - 245); First Vatican Mythographer, 49. Hercules et Hylas
2. Orpheus and the Thracians, read by Timothy Carter, music by Steve Gorn, compiled by Andrew Calimach
Bibliography of reconstruction: Pindar, Pythian Odes, 4.176 (462 BC); Roman marble bas-relief, copy of a Greek original from the late 5th c. (c. 420 BC); Aristophanes, The Frogs 1032 (c. 400 BC); Phanocles, Erotes e Kaloi, 15 (3rd c. BC); Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika, i.2 (c. 250 BC); Apollodorus, Library and Epitome 1.3.2 (140 BC); Diodorus Siculus, Histories I.23, I.96, III.65, IV.25 (1st c. BC); Conon, Narrations 45 (50 - 1 BC); Virgil, Georgics, IV.456 (37 - 30 BC); Horace, Odes, I.12; Ars Poetica 391-407 (23 BC); Ovid, Metamorphoses X.1-85, XI.1-65 (AD 8); Seneca, Hercules Furens 569 (1st c. AD); Hyginus, Poetica Astronomica II.7 Lyre (2nd c. AD); Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.30.2, 9.30.4, 10.7.2 (143 - 176 AD); Anonymous, The Clementine Homilies, Homily V Chapter XV.-Unnatural Lusts (c. 400 AD); Anonymous, Orphic Argonautica (5th c. AD); Stobaeus, Anthologium (c. 450 AD); Second Vatican Mythographer, 44. Orpheus

Adaptations of the myth Edit

Literature Edit

  • The Life and Death of Jason (1867) by William Morris
  • Hercules, My Shipmate (1945) by Robert Graves
  • The Greek Myths by Robert Graves
  • Jason and Medeia by John Gardner -- a modern, epic poem in English.
  • The Argonautica by Gaius Valerius Flaccus -- a first-century AD Latin epic poem.
  • The Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes -- a Hellenistic, Greek epic poem.
  • Despoiled Shore Medea Material Landscape with Argonauts (1982) -- a play in the synthetic fragment form by Heiner Müller
  • Matthew Reilly's Hover Car Racer alludes to this myth, with the main character being called Jason, and his hovercraft the Argonaut

"Celtika" by Robert Holdstock; a tale of Jason sailing far beyond Colchis

Film Edit

Two movies titled Jason and the Argonauts have been made, and a film entitled Rise of the Argonauts is in production but is not an adaptation of the game and will act as a prequel to the first film. This film will be released sometime in spring 2011.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963), directed by Don Chaffey and featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen, shows Jason hosting Olympics-like games and selecting his crew from among the winners.

A Hallmark presentation TV movie, Jason and the Argonauts (2000), on the other hand, shows Jason having to settle for men with no sailing experience. This includes a thief who says "Who better than a thief to grab the Golden Fleece?"

A movie titled "Vesyolaya hronika opasnogo puteshestviya" (Amusing Chronicle of a Dangerous Voyage) was made in the Soviet Union in 1986 starring a famous Russian actor Alexander Abdulov. (imdb)

Radio Edit

In 2001, a radio drama adaptation of Apollonius' Argonautica was presented on the Radio Tales series for National Public Radio.

Video games Edit

Jason and the Argo, along with a small number of the more legendary Argonauts and Greeks, were featured in the 2008 video game Rise of the Argonauts

See alsoEdit

Template:Commons category

Notes Edit

References Edit


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