The Argonautic expedition

The Argonauts on board the ship Argo, 420-390 BC
Argonauts on board their ship Argo, 420 - 390 BC. 


The purpose of the Argonautic expedition was to fetch the golden fleece from Colchis (Aea), which lied at the end of the Black sea. The golden fleece belonged to the ram, which Phrixus used to flee from his father, the king of Orchomenos in Boeotia, and his stepmother, when they were preparing to sacrifice him. Phrixus reached the palace of king Aetes, who received him with honors and gave him his daughter. When Phrixus sacrificed the lamp to Zeus, he gave the fleece to Aetes and he hung it up in an oak, in the grove of Ares and put a sleepless dragon to guard it, day and night. 
The reason for the expedition was, as follows: king Pelias of Lokris in Thessaly, had been warned with oracles, that he would be killed by a descendant of Aeolus and to be aware of a man with one sandal. When Jason appeared with one sandal in his right leg, in order to get rid of him, he sent him to fetch the golden fleece.
In the expedition took part all the heroes of Greece, including Herakles, fifty in number. Among them were the Dioskuri, Kastor and Polydeukes, Idas and Lynkeus, Orpheus, Peleus, Meleager, Tydeus, Amphiaraos and Atalanta the huntress, the only female.
The leader of the expedition was Jason and when Herakles, who had just completed the labor of the Erymanthian boar was asked to take the leadership, he declined.
The vessel for the voyage was build by Argus, the son of Phrixus and named after him, Argo. It was build from aged pines of the mount Pelion, under the protection of Athena. It had fifty oars and in the prow, had a piece from the speaking oak of Dodona, inserted by Athena.
They set sail from Pagasae, the port of Iolkos. When the ship arrived at Mysia, Hylas the companion of Herakles, disappeared while he was looking for water and Herakles stayed behind to search for him and he did not take part anymore in the expedition. The Argonauts, after many adventures, arrived at the mouth of the river Phasis, in Colchis.
There, king Aetes promised to give them the golden fleece, if Jason would sow the remaining teeth of the dragon, which have not been used by Kadmos at Thebes and plough the two fire breathing oxen, with the brazen feet.
Jason with the help of Medea, the daughter of Aetes who had fallen in love with him, managed to acquire the golden fleece. With Medea together, they sailed for home. Apsyrtus, half brother of Medea, pursued them with a band of Colchians, and, overtaking them, was treacherously slain by Jason with the help of Medea. They continue their journey, but in a big storm were driven to Italy.
In another version, when Aetes discovered the daring deeds done by Medea, he started off the pursuit by the ship; when Medea  saw him, she murdered her brother and cutting him in pieces, threw them into the deep. Gathering his child's limbs, Aetes fell behind in the pursuit. Finally after many adventures the Argo returned to Iolkos.



Athena is helping in the building of the ship Argo
Athena is helping Tiphys to erect the sail, while Argus is building the ship,
50 AD Roman relief. 


The Argonauts - Jason's companions
Jason, the captain of the expedition
the Thespian, builder of the Argo, son of
Tiphys the helmsman, of Boeotian Siphae
Kastor the Spartan wrestler and
Polydeukes the boxer, his brother (Dioskuri)
Idas son of Aphareus of Messene and
Lynkeus, the look-out man, his brother
Atalanta of Calydon, the virgin huntress
Meleager of Calydon
Acastos, son of king Pelias
Actor, son of Deion the Phokian
Admetos, prince of Pherae
Amphiaraos, the Argive seer
Ancaeus the Great of Tegea, son of Poseidon
Ancaeus the Little, the Lelegian of Samos
Ascalaphus of Orchomenos, son of Ares
Asterius, son of Cometes
Augeias, son of king Phorbas of Elis
Butes of Athens, the bee master
Kaeneus the Lapith
Kalais, the winged son of Boreas and
Zetes, his brother
Canthus the Euboean
Cepheus, son of Aleus the Arcadian
Coronus the Lapith, of Gyrton in Thessaly
Echion, son of Hermes
of Miletus
Euphemus of Taenarum, the swimmer
Eurualus son of Mecisteus, one of the Epigonoi
Eurydamas the Dolopian, from lake Xynias
Hylas the Dryopian, squire to Herakles
Idmon the Argive, Appolo's son
Iphiclus, son of Thestius the Aetolian
Iphitus, brother of king Eurystheus of Mykenae
Laertes, son of Akrisius the Argive
Melampus of Pylos, son of Posidon
Mopsus the Lapith
Nauplius the Argive, son of Poseidon
Telamon the Locrian, father of Ajax
Orpheus, the Thracian poet
Palaemon, son of Hephaestos, an Aetolian
Peleus the Myrmidon
Peneleos, son of Hippalcimus, the Boeotian
Periclymenus of Pylos, son of Poseidon
Phalerus, the Athenian archer
Phanus the Cretan, son of Dionysos and
Staphylus, his brother
Poeas, son of Thaumakus the Magnesian
Polyphemus, son of Elatus, the Arcadian

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