Silver Fleece (Retired)
Silver Fleece (Retired)
One day, Nephele, a beautiful Nymph, descended from the clouds to admire the beauty of the city Orchomenus. She met and married King Athamas of Orchomenus. They had two wonderful children together, a son Phrixus, meaning “thrilling causing shivers,” and a daughter Helle, meaning “the shining brilliant one.” The family lived happily together, for a time.
As her children grew up, Nephele became depressed and longed for the freedom of the skies she once called home. After Phrixus and Helle were grown she could not stay and when a cloud came close enough for her to step onto ... she left. Heartbroken, King Athamas barely had time to recover when a mysterious girl arrived at his palace seeking a place to call home. They eventually married.
Phrixus and Helle were loved by King Athamas’s new wife Ino. However, once she had children of her own she grew jealous and began to hate the offspring of Nephele. Athamas had proclaimed Phrixus as his successor. Ino’s hidden fury knew no bounds. She manipulated an Oracle's words to convince everyone that Phrixus must be sacrificed to appease the gods in order to bring back the crops which she had secretly sabotaged.
King Athamas finally relented and as they gathered at the top of a hill for the sacrifice a cloud floated down with a golden ram, a gift from Zeus, and Nephele. She arrived just when her children needed her most. Ino was in shock as his mother told Phrixus to climb onto the ram, that it would carry him to safety. Helle, not wanting to be left behind without her brother, climbed onto the golden ram behind him.
Phrixus and Helle rose into the sky on the flying ram headed to the distant land Colchis. After many days and nights in the sky Helle, exhausted and weak from fear, fell from the ram to the watery abyss below. The ocean strait that claimed her, bears her name: Hellespontus.
Phrixus, now alone, was welcomed in Colchis by King Aeetes. As instructed by his mother Nephele, the ram was sacrificed to the God Zeus and the Golden Fleece was kept hung upon a thousand year old oak tree in the temple of the God of War Ares. A formidable dragon, that did not rest, guarded the fleece at all times.
Colchis experienced an age of wealth and prosperity like no other.
In Iolcus, a distant kingdom, Pelias, half-brother of Aeson, son of Poseidon/Neptune, took the throne, circumventing his brother Aeson’s ascension and locked him in the dungeons.
An Oracle warned Pelias of a one-sandaled man, a descendant of Aeson, who would seek revenge against him for his deplorable actions.
Aeson, while in the dungeon of Iolcus, married Alcimede and had children, one named Jason. When Jason left the dungeons to study with the centaur Chiron he wore only one sandal. Pelias believed he was the one which the Oracle spoke of and to save himself sent Jason on an impossible mission to bring back the Golden Fleece of Colchis. He believed such a quest would surely kill Jason.
Jason set sail. Hercules and Theseus who studied under Chiron with Jason as well as Orpheus, Nestor, and many more totalling 50 heroes of Greece joined Jason on the boat “Argos,” named for its builder Argus. Jason's voyage was known as Argonautica.
On the bow of the ship was a branch from the Goddess Athena from the holy oak tree of Dodoni. Jason also had a divine ally in the Goddess Hera who sought revenge on King Pelias for not worshipping her. On the island of Doliones they slew a hoard of six-armed giants, and when they arrived in Thrace they saved the prophet Phineas, cursed by Zeus, from harpies. In gratitude he told them how to safely navigate to Colchis.
When the Argos finally arrived in Colchis Jason asked the King for the Golden Fleece, adding that it was also the wish of the Goddess Hera. Aeetes reluctantly agreed, but wanting to keep the Fleece, which he believed brought his lands prosperity, set Jason on a trial that he was sure he would fail.
Aeetes asked Jason to plow the land using two bulls with metallic legs which threw flames from their nostrils, and gave him a bag of dragon teeth to sow into the field. Aeetes did not say that by sowing the teeth a large army of warriors would sprout and attack him.
Medea, daughter of Aeetes, after she was blessed by Aphrodite at Hera’s request, fell in love with Jason. Secretly she approached him and with the promise to marry her she would offer her help to complete his task. He agreed. Medea, a sorceress, gave Jason an ointment that would make him invincible to fire and told him about her father's plan. She instructed him to throw a stone amongst the warriors so that during the confusion, they would turn on one another and kill each other instead.
After Jason succeeded in his tasks, King Aeetes told him he could have the Golden Fleece, believing that the dragon protecting it would kill him.
Medea cast a sleeping spell upon the dragon so Jason could retrieve the Golden Fleece from the thousand year old oak where it had been kept. Aeetes made a final attempt to keep the Fleece and set Jason’s ship on fire, but he was thwarted again.
Medea left with Jason and the Argonauts on the Argos. Zeus was angered by Medea’s familial betrayal and blew the ship off course. A challenging return trip included Sirens with their enchanting music drowned out by Orpheus, son of Apollo, playing his lyre, the sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis, and Talos, the giant bronze robot in Crete. With the help of the god Apollo they arrived home where Jason gave the Golden Fleece to Pelias and claimed the throne. Jason’s reign was short as the people grew weary of Medea’s magic. Eventually they were banished from Iolcus.
One day, Jason traveled back to Iolcos, alone, his life and loves behind him. Finding his boat, Argos, on display he sat beneath its shadows and wept. The rotting ship gave way and a beam fell on Jason, ending his life.
What happened to the Fleece? We don’t know. Perhaps, like so many other trinkets it faded and was lost and forgotten as just another sheep skin, not worth the trouble it had cost to procure it. Embrace this moment and embrace those you love. Things are things. Beads are beads. People are people. #EmbraceTheAdventure #FindLove #LiveLife
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