CLASSIC 45C Lecture 6: Jason and the Argonauts: Background for Medea

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Zacharitsa Giannopoulou

Class: Classics 45C Topic: Jason and the Argonauts- Background for Medea Date: 4-26-17 Background of The ● The Argonautica- brief epic by Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica ● Written during 3rd c. BCE ● Describes Jason’s adventures to and from Colchis and his romance with Medea at Colchis ● Medea- story of Jason and Medea’s relationship that takes place in Corinth after the Argonautica story Jason, Medea, and the ● Date: saga took final form in archaic period, before 6th century BC Argonauts ● Authors: Euripides, Ovid, Pindar, Apollonius ● Historical context and setting ○ Covers much of Greek world and includes many of leading pre- Trojan War Greek heroes ○ Period of colonization and discovery in Greek world ○ Return voyage of Argonauts recalls actual voyages but impossible to match details from stories to actual places ■ Argo crew: descendants of gods and ancestors of Greek nobles; referred to as Minyae ■ Minyae- descendants of Iolcus in Thessaly and Mileus in Ionia ■ Jason belonged to ruling family of Iolcus The Hero’s Quest ● Jason’s legend seen as a Quest-retrieval of Golden Fleece from Colchis ● Folktale elements fall into coherent structure ● Jason as a hero-what kind of hero is he? The Early Life of Jason ● Cretheus - king of Iolchus ● His stepson Pelias usurped throne from rightful heir, Aeson ● Jason grows up away from palace and educated by Chiron ● On maturity, Jason returns to Iolcus to reclaim the throne; mono-sandal ● Pelias has received oracle warning him to “beware of the man with one sandal” ● Orders Jason to fetch the Golden Fleece, upon which he would yield the throne to him ● Medea- comes from greek word “to devise”, “to plan” Jason at Colchis ● In order to get Golden Fleece, has to perform impossible tasks ○ Yoke a pair or fire-breathing bulls ○ Plow l
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