Jason and Medea: The Lovers Behind the Quest of the Golden Fleece - A Mythological Romance Novel
The Quest of the Golden Fleece: A Mythical Adventure
Have you ever heard of the quest of the golden fleece? It is one of the most famous stories in Greek mythology, full of heroes, monsters, magic, and romance. It tells the story of Jason, a young prince who sets out to reclaim his throne from his wicked uncle by bringing back a magical sheepskin from a faraway land. Along the way, he faces many dangers and challenges, but also finds love and friendship with his crew of Argonauts, the greatest adventurers of their time. In this article, we will explore the origins, the journey, and the end of this epic quest, and see why it has captivated generations of readers and listeners.
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The Origin of the Golden Fleece
What is the golden fleece, and why is it so important? The golden fleece is the skin of a golden ram that was sent by the gods to save two children, Phrixus and Helle, from being sacrificed by their stepmother. The ram flew them across the sea, but Helle fell off and drowned in the strait that was named after her, the Hellespont. Phrixus reached the land of Colchis, where he was welcomed by King Aeetes, the son of the sun god Helios. As a thank you, Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave its fleece to Aeetes, who hung it on a tree in a sacred grove, guarded by a sleepless dragon.
Many years later, in the city of Iolcus, there lived a young prince named Jason, who was the rightful heir to the throne. However, his uncle Pelias had usurped the power and killed his father. Jason was raised by a wise centaur named Chiron, who taught him everything he needed to know. When Jason was old enough, he decided to return to Iolcus and claim his kingdom. On his way, he helped an old woman cross a river, who turned out to be Hera, the queen of the gods. She was grateful for his kindness and decided to help him in his quest. She also made him lose one of his sandals in the river, which would prove to be very significant.
The Challenge of King Pelias
The Prophecy and the Stranger
When Jason arrived at Iolcus, he went straight to the palace and demanded his throne from Pelias. Pelias was shocked to see him, because he had heard a prophecy that he would be overthrown by a man with one sandal. He recognized Jason as that man, but he did not want to give up his power. He pretended to be friendly and agreed to step down, but only if Jason could prove himself worthy by performing a great deed. He suggested that Jason should go on a quest to bring back the golden fleece from Colchis, thinking that it was impossible and that Jason would die trying.
Jason accepted the challenge, not knowing that it was a trap. He was confident that he could succeed with the help of Hera and his own courage. He also saw this as an opportunity to have an adventure and make a name for himself. He announced his intention to sail to Colchis and invited anyone who wanted to join him to come to the port of Iolcus.
The Assembly of the Argonauts
To his surprise, many heroes from all over Greece responded to his call. They were eager to take part in such a glorious quest and to see the wonders of the world. Among them were Hercules, the strongest man alive; Orpheus, the best musician and poet; Atalanta, the fastest runner and huntress; Bellerophon, the rider of Pegasus; Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers who could fight like no one else; Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of Boreas; and many more. They were called the Argonauts, after their ship, Argo, which was built by Argus, a skilled craftsman who followed Athena's instructions. Argo was not an ordinary ship: it had fifty oars, a golden prow that could speak, and a special device that allowed it to sail against the wind.
The Argonauts gathered at Iolcus and prepared for their departure. They brought with them weapons, provisions, gifts for foreign kings, and an oracle from Apollo that would guide them on their way. They also sacrificed to Zeus and asked for his protection. Then they boarded Argo and set sail for Colchis.
The Journey of the Argonauts
The Harpies and Phineus
One of the first challenges that the Argonauts faced was the Harpies, horrible creatures that had the faces of women and the bodies of birds. They were sent by Zeus to torment Phineus, a blind king who had angered the gods by revealing too much of the future. The Harpies would snatch away his food every time he tried to eat, leaving him starving and miserable. The Argonauts found him in his palace and offered to help him. Phineus agreed to tell them how to pass through the Clashing Rocks, a dangerous obstacle on their way, if they could get rid of the Harpies.
The Argonauts set a trap for the Harpies by placing a feast on a table and waiting for them to come. As soon as they appeared, Zetes and Calais, who had wings on their feet, chased them away with their swords. They would have killed them, but Iris, the messenger of the gods, intervened and promised that the Harpies would never bother Phineus again. Phineus was grateful and gave them the advice they needed: to release a dove before entering the Clashing Rocks and follow its path.
The Symplegades or Clashing Rocks
The Clashing Rocks were two huge rocks that moved back and forth in the sea, crushing anything that came between them. They were also called the Symplegades, which means "the ones that come together". The Argonauts followed Phineus' advice and released a dove before approaching them. The dove flew through the rocks, but lost some of its tail feathers as they closed behind it. The Argonauts rowed as fast as they could, hoping to make it in time. They barely managed to pass through, but Argo's stern was clipped by the rocks. However, Athena was watching over them and pushed them forward with her hand.
After they passed through, the Clashing Rocks stopped moving forever. The Argonauts rejoiced and thanked the gods for their help. They also erected an altar on a nearby island and sacrificed to Zeus. Then they continued their journey to Colchis.
The Amazon Women and the Black Sea
As they sailed across the Black Sea, the Argonauts encountered many strange lands and peoples. One of them was the Amazon women, a tribe of fierce female warriors who lived without men and fought with bows and arrows. They were ruled by Hippolyta, who wore a golden belt given to her by Ares, the god of war. The Amazon women attacked the Argonauts as they landed on their shore, thinking that they were invaders. A fierce battle ensued, in which many warriors on both sides were wounded or killed.
Hercules, who was the strongest and bravest of the Argonauts, fought his way to Hippolyta and tried to take her belt. He almost succeeded, but Hera intervened and caused a confusion among the fighters. She made both sides think that their leaders had been captured by the enemy, and urged them to rescue them. The Amazon women retreated to their city, while the Argonauts returned to their ship. Hercules was left behind, searching for his friend Hylas, who had been abducted by a water nymph. He decided to abandon the quest and look for him elsewhere.
The Island of Ares and the Stymphalian Birds
The Argonauts sailed on without Hercules, feeling sad and worried. They reached an island that belonged to Ares, the god of war. There they saw a huge bronze statue of Ares standing on a cliff, holding a spear and a shield. They also heard a loud noise coming from the sky: it was a flock of Stymphalian birds, which had metal feathers that they could shoot like arrows. The birds attacked the Argonauts as they approached the island, wounding some of them and damaging their ship.
The Argonauts did not know how to fight back against these flying enemies. They tried to shoot them with their bows, but their arrows bounced off their feathers. They tried to hide under their shields, but their shields were pierced by their beaks. They were about to give up hope when Athena came to their rescue. She gave them a pair of bronze rattles that belonged to Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalwork. She told them to shake the rattles and make a loud noise that would scare the birds away.
The Argonauts did as Athena said and shook the rattles with all their strength. The noise was so loud that it echoed through the island and reached the ears of Ares. He was angry that someone was disturbing his peace and looked down from his cliff. He saw the Argonauts on his island and the Stymphalian birds flying away. He was about to throw his spear at them, but Athena stopped him and told him that they were under her protection. She explained that they were on a quest for the golden fleece, which was also made of metal, and asked him to let them go. Ares agreed, but warned them not to come back to his island again.
The Arrival at Colchis
The King and the Princess
After many days and nights of sailing, the Argonauts finally reached Colchis, the land where the golden fleece was kept. They anchored their ship near the mouth of the river Phasis, which flowed through the city of Colchis. They were greeted by a group of soldiers, who escorted them to the palace of King Aeetes, the son of Helios, the sun god. King Aeetes was a powerful and cruel ruler, who had many treasures and secrets in his possession. He also had a daughter named Medea, who was a beautiful and clever princess, but also a sorceress, who knew how to use magic herbs and potions.
Jason and his companions entered the palace and met King Aeetes. Jason introduced himself as the leader of the Argonauts and explained his quest for the golden fleece. He asked King Aeetes to give him the fleece as a gift or to let him buy it with gold or other valuables. He also reminded him that Phrixus, the original owner of the fleece, was his cousin, and that he had a right to claim it as his inheritance.
King Aeetes was not pleased to hear Jason's request. He knew that the golden fleece was a source of power and wealth for him, and he did not want to give it up. He also suspected that Jason was sent by Pelias, his enemy, who wanted to take his throne and his lands. He decided to get rid of Jason by setting him impossible tasks that would surely kill him. He pretended to be friendly and agreed to give him the fleece, but only if he could prove himself worthy by performing three feats of strength and skill.
Meanwhile, Medea was watching from a window and saw Jason for the first time. She was struck by his handsome appearance and noble bearing, and felt a strange attraction towards him. She also felt sorry for him, knowing that her father was planning to trick him and kill him. She did not know what to do: should she help him or obey her father? She decided to wait and see what would happen next.
The Impossible Tasks
King Aeetes led Jason and his companions to a large field outside the city, where he showed them the first task he had prepared for them. He pointed to a pair of fire-breathing bulls, which had bronze hooves and iron horns, and which were yoked to a plough. He told Jason that he had to yoke the bulls himself, plough the field with them, and sow it with dragon teeth, which he gave him in a helmet. He did not tell him that the dragon teeth would sprout into armed men, who would attack him as soon as they grew.
Jason was amazed by the sight of the fire-breathing bulls, which snorted and stamped on the ground, ready to burn anyone who came near them. He wondered how he could possibly yoke them without being roasted alive. He looked around for help, but saw none: his companions were too far away to reach him, and King Aeetes and his soldiers were watching with malicious smiles. He felt hopeless and afraid, but he did not want to give up or show weakness. He prayed to Hera for guidance and courage.
make her fall in love with Jason at first sight.
Eros did as his mother told him and flew to Colchis. He found Medea in her chamber, where she was preparing some magic herbs and potions. He waited for the right moment and shot his arrow into her heart. Medea felt a sudden surge of emotion and looked out of the window. She saw Jason standing in the field, facing the fire-breathing bulls. She felt a strong attraction towards him and a desire to help him. She also felt a pang of guilt and fear, knowing that her father would be angry if she betrayed him. She was torn between love and duty, but love was stronger. She decided to help Jason with her magic.
She took a magic potion that she had made from a plant called promethea, which had the power to protect from fire. She also took a magic charm that she had made from a stone called magnet, which had the power to attract or repel metal. She put them in a small box and ran out of her chamber. She made her way to the field, avoiding her father and his soldiers. She reached Jason and gave him the box, telling him to use the potion and the charm to yoke the bulls and plough the field. She also told him to throw a rock at the armed men that would sprout from the dragon teeth, which would make them fight each other instead of him. She did not tell him her name or who she was, but she told him that she loved him and that she would help him again if he needed it. Then she ran back to her chamber before anyone noticed her.
Jason was surprised and grateful for Medea's help. He did not know who she was or why she helped him, but he felt a connection with her and a curiosity about her. He also felt more confident and hopeful, knowing that he had a secret ally. He opened the box and used the potion and the charm as Medea had instructed him. He approached the fire-breathing bulls without fear, and yoked them with ease. He ploughed the field with them, and sowed it with the dragon teeth. He then waited for the armed men to grow from the ground.
Soon enough, he saw helmets, shields, and spears emerging from the soil. Then he saw fully grown men, wearing armor and carrying weapons, ready to kill him. He remembered Medea's advice and threw a rock at them. The rock hit one of them on the helmet, making a loud noise. The armed men thought that one of their own had attacked them, and started to fight each other. They did not pay attention to Jason, who watched them from a safe distance. They killed each other until none of them was left alive.
Jason had completed the first task successfully, thanks to Medea's help. He unyoked the fire-breathing bulls and returned them to their place. He then went back to King Aeetes and his companions, who were astonished by his feat. King Aeetes was furious and disappointed, but he did not show it. He pretended to be impressed and congratulated Jason for his skill and bravery. He then told him about the second task he had prepared for him: he had to tame and harness two wild horses, which had wings like birds and claws like lions, and which breathed fire like dragons. He did not tell him that they were his own pets, which he had trained to obey only him.
The Betrayal of Medea
Jason was not afraid of the second task, because he trusted Medea's help. He waited for her to come to him again with another magic potion or charm that would make his job easier. He did not have to wait long: Medea came to him at night, when everyone was asleep. She brought with her another magic potion that she had made from a plant called hippomanes, which had the power to tame wild animals. She also brought with her a magic veil that she had woven from moonbeams, which had the power to make anyone invisible.
She gave Jason the potion and the veil, telling him to use them to tame and harness the wild horses. She also told him that she was King Aeetes' daughter, and that she was risking her life by helping him against her father's will. She asked him to take her with him when he left Colchis, and to marry her as his wife. Jason agreed, because he was grateful for her help and because he felt a strong attraction towards her. He also thought that having her as his wife would be useful for his future plans. He promised to take her with him and to marry her, and kissed her passionately.
Jason used the potion and the veil as Medea had instructed him. He approached the wild horses without being seen, and sprinkled the potion on their manes. The potion made them calm and docile, and they let Jason harness them without resistance. He then drove them around the field, showing everyone that he had completed the second task successfully.
King Aeetes was enraged and shocked, but he did not show it. He pretended to be amazed and pleased, and congratulated Jason for his courage and wisdom. He then told him about the third and final task he had prepared for him: he had to enter the sacred grove of Ares, where the golden fleece was hung on a tree, and take it from there. He did not tell him that the fleece was guarded by a sleepless dragon, which was his brother and which could not be killed by any weapon.
Jason was confident of the third task, because he knew that Medea would help him again. He waited for her to come to him with another magic potion or charm that would make his job easier. He did not have to wait long: Medea came to him at dusk, when the sun was setting and the moon was rising. She brought with her another magic potion that she had made from a plant called poppy, which had the power to induce sleep. She also brought with her a magic sword that she had forged from meteorite iron, which had the power to cut through anything.
She gave Jason the potion and the sword, telling him to use them to put the dragon to sleep and cut off its head. She also told him that she would go with him to the sacred grove, because she knew the way and because she wanted to see him succeed. She asked him to swear by Zeus that he would keep his promise and take her with him as his wife. Jason swore by Zeus, because he wanted her help and because he felt a strong attraction towards her. He also thought that having her as his wife would be useful for his future plans. He thanked her for her help and kissed her passionately.
Jason and Medea went to the sacred grove of Ares, where the golden fleece was kept. They saw the fleece shining like gold on a tree, and they saw the dragon coiled around it, watching with its bright eyes. The dragon was huge and terrifying, with scales like armor and teeth like daggers. It hissed and roared at them, ready to attack them if they came closer.
Jason used the potion and the sword as Medea had instructed him. He threw the potion into the dragon's mouth, which made it drowsy and sleepy. He then ran towards it and cut off its head with one swift stroke of the sword. The dragon fell dead on the ground, and Jason took the golden fleece from the tree. He wrapped it around his shoulders, feeling its warmth and power.
Jason had completed the third task successfully, thanks to Medea's help. He rejoiced and praised Medea for her help. He then took her by the hand and ran back to his ship, where