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Lecture 22

CLAS104 Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Phrixus, Harpy, Pelias

Classical Studies
Course Code
Ronald Kroeker

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March 25th – Jason and Medea (And the Argonauts)
Main source of info about Jason in the Argonautica [gods mocked] by Appolonius. Jason is either helped by
friends, gods, or Medea. Or by luck. Euripedes’ account/play Medea is more serious.
I. THE GOLDEN FLEECE, Nephele, Helle, Phrixus to Colchis. Nephele marries Atamus, had Helle
(girl) and Phrixus (boy), after having kids, she didn’t like being grounded, when back into sky
(she was a cloud.) Athamus married Ino, daughter of Cadmus. Ino wanted to get rid of Phrixus
and Helle. She parched the grain of the Thebans so when they sowed the grain, it didn’t spring
forth suffered famine. Thebans had to send delegation to Delphi to see what the problem
was. Ino subhorned delegates and bribed them to say what she wanted. When they came
back, they said the way to relieve the famine would be to sacrifice Phrixus. Athamas was about
to do that until Nephele snatched them up and places them onto golden fleeced ram given by
Hermes. Carried children off east to Colchis. Helle fell off and died (Origin: Hellespont; passage
between Europe and asia named after her.) Phrixus made it east to Colchis. Under power of
king Eties, they sacrificed golden ram and used the Golden Fleece (hung on oak tree) as a
talisman for success in a grove sacred to Ares. Eties set a serpent up as a guard to the golden
II. Jason and Pelias: Aeson’s (jasons dad) kingship (Iolchus in northern Greece, Thessily) taken
away. Rule was taken away by step brother Pelias. Aeson had Jason sent away as he was in
danger, to be raised by Chiron the centaur. After 20 years, Jason returned to Iolchus to
reclaim throne of his father. Pelias told Jason he would give him throne if he went to throne if
he went to Far East and got the Golden Fleece. Before he came to Iolchus, he saw a women
stuck in a river, carried her across a river and in the process got his sandal stuck into mud, lost
one. Old woman was Hera, who favoured him after. Pelios was told in a prophecy to “Beware
the one-sandaled man” who would kill him, when Jason came, he was ready and decided to
have Jason do something that would kill him in the process.
a) Ship and Crew – Built ship called the Argo (shining/swift), was a supernatural ship as
Athena help built it. She placed a piece of wood from oak of Dodona, famous place where
people went to inquire of Zeus, in bow of ship and caused the ship to be able to talk. The
crew (Argonauts) consisted of Heracles, Theseus and all kinds of heroes. some Argonauts
had special gifts which were used to help Hason perform his otherwise impossible tasks
b) Voyage EG. Phineus and the Harpies - Phineas, a king and prophet who they met on the
way, was blind. Harpies were monsters/snatchers… cross of women and eagles. Everytime
Phineus would have a meal set up for him, Harpies (bird) would snatch it away and eat it
some and soil the rest, Argonauts came to Salmydessus and said they would help him. Had
two sons of Boreus with them (god of North Wind) chased the Harpies and were about to
have a battle until gods told them not to fight. Made them come to an agreement. Xethius
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