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Gathering of the Argonauts, "Attic red-figure "krater, 460–450 BC, "Louvre (G 341).

The Argonauts ("/ˈɑːrɡənɔːt/; "Greek: Ἀργοναῦται Argonautai) were a band of heroes in "Greek mythology, who in the years before the "Trojan War, around "1300 BC,[1] accompanied "Jason to "Colchis in his quest to find the "Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, "Argo, named after its builder, "Argus. "Argonauts" literally means "Argo sailors". They were sometimes called "Minyans, after a "prehistoric tribe in the area.


Reason of the quest[edit]

"Pelias, king of "Iolcos, stops on the steps of a temple as he recognises young Jason by his missing sandal; Roman "fresco from "Pompeii, 1st century AD.

After the death of King "Cretheus, the Aeolian "Pelias usurped the Iolcan throne from his half-brother "Aeson and became king of "Iolcus in "Thessaly (near the modern city of "Volos). Because of this unlawful act, an oracle warned him that a descendant of "Aeolus would seek revenge. Pelias put to death every prominent descendant of Aeolus he could, but spared Aeson because of the pleas of their mother "Tyro. Instead, Pelias kept Aeson prisoner and forced him to renounce his inheritance. Aeson married "Alcimede, who bore him a son named Jason. Pelias intended to kill the baby at once, but Alcimede summoned her kinswomen to weep over him as if he were stillborn. She faked a burial and smuggled the baby to "Mount Pelion. He was raised by the "centaur "Chiron, the trainer of heroes.

When Jason was 20 years old, an oracle ordered him to dress as a "Magnesian and head to the Iolcan court. While traveling Jason lost his sandal crossing the muddy "Anavros river while helping an old woman ("Hera in disguise). The goddess was angry with King Pelias for killing his stepmother "Sidero after she had sought refuge in Hera's temple.

Another oracle warned Pelias to be on his guard against a man with one shoe. Pelias was presiding over a sacrifice to "Poseidon with several neighboring kings in attendance. Among the crowd stood a tall youth in leopard skin with only one sandal. Pelias recognized that Jason was his nephew. He could not kill him because prominent kings of the Aeolian family were present. Instead, he asked Jason: "What would you do if an oracle announced that one of your fellow-citizens were destined to kill you?" Jason replied that he would send him to go and fetch the "Golden Fleece, not knowing that Hera had put those words in his mouth.

Jason learned later that Pelias was being haunted by the ghost of "Phrixus. Phrixus had fled from "Orchomenus riding on a divine ram to avoid being sacrificed and took refuge in "Colchis where he was later denied proper burial. According to an oracle, Iolcus would never prosper unless his ghost was taken back in a ship, together with the golden ram's fleece. This fleece now hung from a tree in the grove of the Colchian Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Pelias swore before "Zeus that he would give up the throne at Jason's return while expecting that Jason's attempt to steal the Golden Fleece would be a fatal enterprise. However, Hera acted in Jason's favour during the perilous journey.

The crew of the Argo[edit]

There is no definite list of the Argonauts. H.J. Rose explains this was because "an Argonautic ancestor was an addition to even the proudest of pedigrees."[2] The following list is collated from several lists given in ancient sources.[3][4][5]











Beginning of Journey
"Acastus son of Pelias "Pherae or Iolcus joined the Argonauts as a volunteer and at his own accord.
"Actor son of "Hippasus "Pellene, "Peloponnesus
"Admetus son of "Pheres Pherae his flocks they say were pastured by Apollo.
"Aethalides son of "Hermes "Larissa
"Amphiaraus √* son of "Oicles Argos *he could fit the description of Hyginus ". . . Thestius’ daughter, an Argive." which could be interpreted as Amphiaraus, son of Oicles and "Hypermnestra, "Thestius' daughter and an Argive.
"Amphidamas son of "Aleus "Tegea, "Arcadia
"Amphion son of Hyperasius or Hippasus "Pellene, "Peloponnesus
"Ancaeus son of "Poseidon Parthenia or "Samos
"Ancaeus son of "Lycurgus Tegea, Arcadia went clad in the skin of a Maenalian bear and wielded a huge two-edged battleaxe.
"Areius son of "Bias Argos
"Argus son of Arestor - builder of "Argo
"Argus son of "Phrixus - builder of "Argo (might be conflated with Argus the builder by late mythographers because Argus, the son of Phrixus appeared in the later part of the story according to earlier accounts on the Argonauts' voyage). see Argus below.
Argus son of "Polybus or Danaus Argos also called the builder of Argo; he might be the same as the above Argus who was otherwise called the son of Arestor.
"Ascalaphus son of "Ares "Orchomenus later one of the "Suitors of Helen and led the Orchomenians in the "Trojan War.
"Asclepius son of "Apollo "Tricca
"Asterion or Asterius son of "Cometes or Hyperasius Peiresiae, "Thessaly he was probably conflated by "Hyginus with Asterius below who was called also the son of Hyperasius.
Asterius or Asterion son of Hyperasius or Hippasus "Pellene, "Peloponnesus
"Atalanta daughter of "Schoeneus or "Iasus Arcadia Atalanta is included on the list by Pseudo-Apollodorus, but Apollonius[6] claims that Jason forbade her because she was a woman and could cause strife in the otherwise all-male crew. Other sources state that she was asked, but refused.
"Augeas son of "Helios and Nausidame Pisa, "Elis
"Autolycus "son of Hermes and Chione -
"Butes son of "Teleon and "Zeuxippe or of "Aeneus "Athens, "Attica
"Calaïs son of "Boreas and "Oreithyia "Thrace
"Caeneus father of Coronus, born a woman, daughter of "Atrax Gortyn
"Canthus son of Abas Euboea
"Castor son of Tyndareus; twin and half-brother of Pollux Lacedaemonia
"Cepheus son of Aleus and Cleobule or of Lycurgus Tegea, Arcadia King of Tegea
"Clymenus possibly son of "Phylacus and "Clymene as the brother of Iphiclus Phylace, Thessaly
"Clytius son of "Eurytus and "Antiope Oechalia
"Coronus son of "Caeneus
"Deucalion son of "Minos and "Pasiphae Crete
"Echion son of "Hermes and "Antianeira Alope
Eneus son of Caeneus
"Eribotes son of "Teleon
"Erginus son of "Poseidon
"Erytus son of Hermes and Antianeira Alope
"Euphemus son of Poseidon and Europe "Taenarus, Peloponesse
"Euryalus son of "Mecisteus
"Eurydamas son of Ctimenus or of Irus and "Demonassa Ctimene, "Dolopia
"Eurymedon son of "Dionysus
"Eurytus son of "Hermes
"Heracles son of "Zeus
Ialmenus sons of Ares
"Iolaus nephew of Heracles
"Iphiclus son of Phylacus and Clymene Phylace, Thessaly
Iphiclus son of Thestius
"Iphitos son of Eurytus
"Iphitos son of Naubolus
"Laërtes father of Odysseus
Laocoon half-brother of "Oeneus and tutor of Meleager
"Leodocus or Laodocus
"Neleus son of Poseidon
"Orpheus son of "Calliope and "Oeagrus Bistonian Pieria, Thrace ruler of Bistonian Pieria
"Palaimonius son of "Hephaestus
"Peleus father of Achilles
"Periclymenus grandson of Poseidon
Phanus brother of Staphylus and Eurymedon
"Phlias son of Dionysus
"Pollux son of Zeus
"Polyphemus son of Elatus Larisa, Thessaly one of the "Lapiths
Priasus brother of Phocus
"Theseus son of Poseidon slayer of the Minotaur; Apollonius claims that Theseus and "Pirithous were trapped in underworld by "Hades at the time and could not join.[7] Theseus being on the list is inconsistent with accounts of his life usually including him encountering "Medea at an early stage of his adventures, yet many years after the Argonauts completed their adventure (Medea, by that time, was not only abandoned by Jason, but also bore a child from Aegeus).[8]
"Zetes son of "Boreas
***thersanon son of "Helios and "Leucothoe
During or After the Journey
Argus son of "Phrixus and "Chalciope They joined the crew only after being rescued by the Argonauts: the four had been stranded on a desert island not far from Colchis, from where they initially sailed with an intent to reach their father's homeland.[9] However, Argus is not to be confused with the other Argus, son of Arestor or "Polybus, constructor and "eponym of the ship Argo and member of the crew from the beginning.[10]
"Autolycus son of Deimachus
Demoleon or Deileon
"Medea joined when the Fleece was recovered

Several more names are discoverable from other sources. Amyrus, eponym of a "Thessalian city, is given by "Stephanus of Byzantium as "one of the Argonauts";[11]

The Argo, by "Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907).

he is otherwise said to have been a son of "Poseidon and to have given his name to the river Amyrus.[12] Azorus was the helmsman of Argo according to "Hesychius of Alexandria;[13] he could be the same as the Azorus mentioned by Stephanus as founder of the city Azorus in "Pelagonia.[14]

The journey[edit]

Jason, along with his other 49 crew-mates, sailed off from Iolcus to Colchis to fetch the golden fleece. They first stopped at "Lemnos.

When the Argonauts came to the island of Lemnos, they learned that all the males had been murdered. For the Lemnian women, having learned that their husbands had taken Thracian wives, resolved to kill all men on Lemnos. The women deposed King "Thoas, and he should have died along with the other men, but his daughter "Hypsipyle, who became queen after him, secretly spared her father. When the Argonauts arrived, Hypsipyle fell in love with their captain Jason and had children with him. But later, when the other women learned that Hypsipyle had spared her father, they sold her as a slave and killed Thoas.["citation needed] (Hypsipyle reappeared years later, when the "Argives marching against "Thebes learned from her the way to a spring in "Nemea, where she served as nurse of "the king's son.) The Argonauts consorted with the Lemnian women, and their descendants were called "Minyans, since some among them had previously emigrated from "Minyan Orchomenus to Iolcus. (Later, these Minyans were driven out from the island, and came to "Lacedaemon.)

The Argonauts made their second stop at "Bear Mountain, an island[15] shaped like a bear; the locals, called the "Doliones, all descended from "Poseidon. Their king "Cyzicus, who had just got married, decided to have a huge party with the Argonauts. At the party the king tried to tell Jason to not go to the eastern side of the island, but he got distracted by Hercules, and forgot to tell Jason.

Adaptations of the myth[edit]


Film and television[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/greeks/jason_01.shtml
  2. ^ Rose, A Handbook of Greek Mythology (New York: Dutton, 1959), p. 198
  3. ^ "Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 23 - 228
  4. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, "Bibliotheca 1. 9. 16
  5. ^ "Hyginus, Fabulae, 14
  6. ^ Arg. 1. 770
  7. ^ Arg. 1. 100
  8. ^ "Roger Lancelyn Green, in his Tales of the Greek Heroes, gets round this problem by suppressing the name of the witch-wife who Theseus encountered in his early life.
  9. ^ Arg. 2. 1193
  10. ^ Arg. 1. 112; Hyg. Fab. 14
  11. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Amyros
  12. ^ "Scholia on "Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 596. The Argonauts are reported to have sailed past this river by both Apollonius (1. 596) and Valerius Flaccus (2. 11)
  13. ^ Hesychius s. v. Azōros
  14. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Azōros
  15. ^ "Freely, John (2000). The Companion Guide to Istanbul and Around the Marmara. Companion guide to Turkey. 1. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Companion Guides. p. 350. "ISBN "9781900639316. Retrieved 2018-03-04. The Kapidağ peninsula was in antiquity known variously as Arctonoros (Bear Mountain) or Arctonissos (Bear Island). It was then indeed an island, which its early settlers linked to the mainland by bridges that could be removed when enemies appeared; in later times alluvial deposits created the isthmus that we see today. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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