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Adventures of epic preportions have been written and told for thousands of years. The characteristics of these stories include, suspense, adventure, danger, and heroism. They mostly involve a task that needs to be completed. Whatever it may be, very few tales are able to take all characteristics of a good adventure and put it all into one story like The Voyage of Argo, by Apollonius.
The Voyage of Argo is about a man named Jason who bands together a group of extraordinary warriors and goes on an adventure in search of a golden fleece. This group called the Argonauts, is made up of sons of gods and heroes. Traveling up to the Black Sea in their boat, the Argo, they encounter various obstacles that they must overcome in order to secure the golden fleece for their own and return safely to their home.
King Aeson, Jason's father, was the rightful heir to a kingdom in Greece at the time. As Aeson got older his other son, Pelias, took advantage of his old father and stole his kingdom away from him. Fearing that Pelias would kill Jason after Jason was born, they fled him from the city where he was raised by a centaur. The centaur raised him and trained him in all kinds of skills like fighting, swordsmanship, and leadership. When it was time, the centaur told Jason his past and told him to go defeat his brother and get his kingdom back.
When Jason returned, his brother wanted to kill him then and there, but thought of a way to get rid of him. When Jason demanded the kingdom back, Pelias told him that he would gladly surrender the kingdom if Jason brings back the Golden Fleece from the land of Colchis. The Golden Fleece was from a magical flying ram delivered by Hermes, the messenger of god. The ram that originally wore the golden fleece was delivered for the sole purpose of carrying Phrixius, and Helle, the children of Nephele, to safety; away from their father's mistress who threatened their lives. After it had completed its task, The ram was sacrificed, but the fleece remained in the far away land of Colchis, which was ruled by King Aeetes. Jason agreed to the terms and sent heralds all across Greece to seek out fearless volunteers who would join him in such an adventure.
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Setting off on their voyage, the Argonauts, led by their leader Jason, embarked on a long and perilous journey. On their way to Colchis, they encounter numerous adventures. In one instance, they free a King named Phineus from Harpies. King Phineus was a seer and being grateful for Jason and his crew he instructed Jason on navigating the waters, especially some rocks that were hard to navigate. When they finally reach Colchis, the king is unwilling to give up the fleece, but gives Jason a task to try and win the golden fleece. He must subdue fire breathing bulls and plow a field with them. Then he has to plant serpent's teeth in the earth from which human creatures will rise from the ground and he must defeat them. With the help of the kings daughter, Medea, he is successful in his task. Fearing treason, Medea goes with Jason and the Argonauts back home. On the way back, she again assists them by killing the mighty monster Talos.
Mythology plays big role in telling the story as a narrative and understanding it too as the famous epic that it is. An excursion like this is not something that happens every day and some of the things that they see and do are not things that are normally portrayed in this day in age. The procedures, gods, and rituals described represent the power that the gods had back then and their meaning to such a voyage as this one. One of the prime examples of this is the repetitious sacrifices to the gods. In the case of the Argonauts, they sacrificed sheep to the god and built shrines to them in return for such things as good winds, happy landings, and calm seas. Even the main reason for Jason's voyage is based on a mythological fleece that he doesn't even know exists or not in the first place. The rams golden fleece and the story behind it is a myth in itself. If it wasn't for the great treasure that this fleece was and the great myth that was behind it, then the Voyage of Argo probably wouldn't have happened in the first place.
The Argonauts, the men who accompany Jason on this voyage, are all men of great notability. A vast cast of characters make up the men on the adventure and they come from all walks of ancient society and mythology. Over Fifty men are along for the ride, yet only a handful of them are actually mentioned or contribute to the excursion. Much like the selection of the baseball all stars, the idea was to create an all star compilement of some of the most heroic and adventurous men of that time (yet some of the men on the Argo are from different period's of time). These men were the best of the best. They were the cream of the crop and by how Apollonuis describes them, they are most heroic and noble men that you could find at the time. What better way to achieve a difficult task than to get the best men on the job. Judging from the vast variety of men on Argo and the perfect organization of the Argonauts with all of them being well educated and experts in their fields as well as good fighters you could therefore conclude that the Argonautic Expedition must have been a voyage of discovery as well.
As all great stories of adventure, the leader figure is considered to be brave, strong, smart, and have all the characteristics of a true hero. In this story, the question arises; is Jason truly a hero, or just an average person that got in with the right group of guys? The main character in the story, Jason, takes his own journey paralleling that of the Argo. Jason is an ordinary man but possesses after all some of the qualities that make a leader: brains, abundant charm, and above all a most persuasive tongue. He is a man who gets things done for him. Like many other heroes, it's initial problem that sets heroes off on a journey. It's for the same reasons that Budda left town, Thesisus slayed the minotaur, and Hercules completed his tasks that Jason went in search for the golden fleece. Having a solid base of being raised and trained in leadership and warriorship, he was born for the job, but the story gives us insight of how mortal Jason really is. His common "boo-hooing" to the gods and the uncertainty that he shows his crew at times show that Jason is not necessarily supernatural, but he is human. Jason learns to be a hero along the journey which is a journey in its own for Jason. In the end he is victorious in acquiring the golden fleece, and also realizing in his self that he had it in him the whole time.
Behind every great person there is a woman. In this story, her name is Medea. Medea aides Jason and the Argonauts in acquiring the golden fleece and in turn has to flee with them or face harsh persecution from her father. For doing this, Jason promises her marriage. Many of her phenomenal powers and attributes can be related to witchcraft, but is Medea actually a witch, or is she just a talented woman? Did she herself graze the ankle of Talos and bring him to his defeat? Although she conjures up an ointment of invunerablilty, what exactly did she do herself to it that made it so magical? These questions bring up the possibility that Medea finds her great power not in witchcraft and magic, but in intellect and talent. It was the fact that she was knowledgeable of the roots that possess the magical invunerablitity properties and her wisdom of it that had her create the ointment for Jason. In the case of Talos though, one might argue that it was a stroke of luck that he was defeated. Medea stood on the deck of the Argo and summoned the spirits of death to defeat him, but it could have been merely by accident that Talos grazed his ankle on a rock that led to his defeat. Luck or Magic whatever it may be, the power that Medea has was extraordinary. As extraordinary of a woman that Medea was, it is a wonder why she became hooked on Jason, betrayed her father and killed her own brother. The answer is simple; she was struck by an arrow of love by Eros, the little god of love. Again the mythological aspect of this story comes into play and shows how much gods had an effect on the everyday life of any person. By the single decision of one god, the life of one woman is changed while another mans life is spared.
The end of the story can be characterized as being very abrupt, but hinting to a much larger story than what we have just read. The Voyage of Argo is finished off as only a prequel to something much bigger, similar to the Star Wars trilogy. A final taste of action is given to us before we depart by Medea defeating Talos. Up to that point in the story, Medea seems to have become excess baggage on the voyage, so she had to prove herself one more time before returning home and finishing this chapter of the story. By quickly defeating Talos, in a sense, she again is worthy of Jason and the crew's thanks. By simply signing off of a story that he so illustrated and described though out the majority of it, Apollonius gives an idea that there is more of the story to go (which there is) and there was more of a story before that too (which there is too).