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Jason arriving to the palace of Pelias 1. Jason recognised by Pelias and his daughters (detail). Pompei, casa di Giasone o dell'Amor fatale (IX 5,18), triclinio (f). National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

Jason is the admiral of the ARGONAUTS. He fetched the Golden Fleece in Colchis, and returned with the Colchian princess Medea, whom he married. Later, however, it occurred to him that such a brave, handsome, and noble man as himself should not have as wife a foreigner and sorceress such as Medea, and that is why he had the fatal idea of marrying the younger Corinthian princess Glauce 4.

Political background of Iolcus

Jason's father Aeson was himself the son of Cretheus 1, the founder of Iolcus, a city in Thessaly on the coast of the Gulf of Pagasae. His mother was Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus and Alcidice, but she, they say, consorted with Poseidon, giving birth to the twins Neleus and Pelias 1. As this had been done secretly, Tyro abandoned them, and when they were exposed, a horse keeper found them and saved their lives. This is why the twins were reared by Sidero, who was Salmoneus' second wife, and notorious for having treated her stepdaughter Tyro very unkindly. When the twins were grown up, they discovered the truth about their mother and attacked Sidero, who took refuge in the precinct of Hera to no avail, for Pelias 1 killed her on the altars, thus incurring the hate of the goddess. Now, whereas Neleus, in connection with these events, was banished and came to Messenia in the southwestern Peloponnesus, Pelias 1 succeeded King Cretheus 1 in the throne of Iolcus, robbing his brother, or half-brother Aeson, of his royal rights.

Jason comes out of Chiron's cave

When Jason was still a child, he was secretly sent away by his dispossessed parents to be reared by the wise Centaur Chiron, with whom he stayed twenty years. When that period had elapsed, Jason came out of Chiron's cave determined to restore the power to his father, and as it appears, he was received with great joy, not only by his parents, but also by other relatives such as Pheres 1, the founder of Pherae, Amythaon 1 from Pylos, and their children Admetus 1 and Melampus 1, Jason's cousins. And all this men came to meet King Pelias 1, to let him know their opinion about the matter of power in the city of Iolcus.

Jason's claims

In this meeting Jason explained to Pelias 1 in which way things should be arranged if civil war was to be avoided; he said:

"It is not right for us to resort to swords of sharp bronze or spears in dividing the great honors of our ancestors. I leave you the flocks, and the golden herds of cattle, and all the fields, which you keep, having stolen them from my ancestors, feeding fat your wealth; and it does not grieve me that they provide for your household beyond all measure. But as for the royal scepter and the throne, in which Aeson son of Cretheus once sat, and dispensed straight justice for a nation of horsemen: without any distress between us, release these to me, lest some more disturbing evil arise from them." (Jason to Pelias 1. Pindar, Pythian Odes 4.149).

It was then that Pelias 1 asked Jason to sail to Colchis and recover the Golden Fleece, which was held by King Aeetes.

The Golden Fleece

This Golden Fleece was the hide of the Ram on which Athamas 1's son Phrixus 1, flying through the sky, had come to Colchis. The Ram itself was the offspring of Poseidon and Theophane, whom the god carried off, changing her into a ewe and himself into a ram. When Athamas 1's second wife Ino plotted against the children of his first wife Nephele 2, Hermes provided the Ram with the Golden Fleece so that Phrixus 1 and his sister Helle could safely leave the kingdom. Helle, however, fell into the sea which was named Hellespont after her and drowned, but her brother came to Colchis.

rus069: Jason and the Centaur Chiron. Painting by William Russell Flint (1880-1969). Charles Kingsley, Grekiska Hjältesagor (1924, Swedish Edition of The Heroes). Paintings (watercolors) from 1911.

Zeus' curse

On his arrival, Phrixus 1 sacrificed the Ram to Zeus, giving the Golden Fleece to King Aeetes, who nailed it to an oak in a grove of Ares. Some have said that Aeetes killed Phrixus 1, but others affirm that Phrixus 1 married Aeetes' daughter Chalciope 2, and after having many children by her, he died in Old Age. In any case, what happened to Phrixus 1, that is, the plot against him and the need to leave his country and go into exile, proved to be both a shame and a curse for the whole house of Aeolus 1. For it was said that Zeus had promised that no one in this family would escape his wrath until the Golden Fleece returned to Hellas.

King Pelias 1's proposal

King Pelias 1 argued that he knew these things because he had asked the Oracle at Delphi, and he added that if Jason would willingly fulfil this quest, bringing back the Golden Fleece, he Pelias 1 would, in exchange, deliver up to him the royal power and the kingdom. And he made an oath that he would do as he promised, invoking Zeus as his witness. This is how Jason's claims upon the throne of Iolcus were postponed, and instead he started sending messengers to every corner of Hellas in order to gather the men that were to take part in the expedition, and that later were called ARGONAUTS after the name of their ship.

More about Jason's arrival to Iolcus

Others (for poets as well as mythographers often dissent) have described the meeting between Pelias 1 and Jason differently. Pelias 1, some say, who had ruled the country from his earliest years, was, when he met Jason, an old man with no rest in his mind; for seers had prophesied that destruction would come upon him through Aeson's son. And they say that Pelias 1 commanded his subject Jason to sail to Colchis as a way of getting rid of him. Others have said that an oracle told Pelias 1 that his death was drawing near if a man wearing only one sandal, arrived. So when Pelias 1 was making his yearly offerings to Poseidon, there arrived Jason to make sacrifice, after having lost his sandal when crossing the river Evenus, which is in Aetolia (or perhaps the river Anaurus, which is in Thessaly). It was after noticing the missing sandal, they say, that Pelias 1 ordered him to procure the Golden Fleece from his enemy King Aeetes of Colchis. Jason had left his sandal in the mud of the river by the will of Hera, who arranged everything in order to destroy King Pelias 1, the man that had outraged the goddess' shrine, when punishing his stepmother Sidero. It is also told that Hera was waiting near the river, disguised as an old woman and testing men's minds, to see if there would appear someone to carry her across the river, and that Jason, helping her, lost his sandal. Yet others affirm that Pelias 1 asked the man with the single sandal what he would do if he had received an oracle that he should be murdered by one of the citizens. Jason then replied that he would command him to fetch the Golden Fleece, and Pelias 1, on hearing the answer, bade him to go in quest of this interesting item. It has been added that it was Hera who put that words in Jason's mind and mouth, for the goddess knew that Jason was fated to bring the witch Medea to Hellas and that she would prove to be a curse for Pelias 1, the man who outraged her shrine. This is why Jason was dear to Hera.

Jason gathers the ARGONAUTS

In any case, after gathering those best men of his time who came to be known as the ARGONAUTS, Jason persuaded King Pelias 1's young son Acastus to come with him. For in that way—that is, with his son undergoing the same perils and fortunes—the king would not set himself against the expedition, nor wish its failure.



Having sailed from Iolcus (today called Volos), Jason and his ARGONAUTS came first to the island of Lemnos, where the Lemnian women had killed their husbands and all males in Lemnos because of their having taken Thracian wives. They also had deposed King Thoas 3, who would have followed the other Lemnian men to Hades, had not his daughter Hypsipyle, who was now appointed queen, secretly spared him and hidden him. When the ARGONAUTS arrived to Lemnos, the women loaded them with lies, saying that their husbands had moved to Thrace with their new wives. And as they realised that there was no future for them without men, and also because they feared invasions, the Lemnian women invited the ARGONAUTS to stay with them. That is why the visitors remained in the island, enjoying the hospitality that the women offered, both in bed and otherwise. And so, having conquered through love and not through weapons, the ARGONAUTS obtained great pleasure during their sojourn in Lemnos, forgetting all about the Golden Fleece, Zeus' curse against the house of Aeolus 1, and all other matters that, until then, had been their ambition, their honor, their duty, and their quest.

Watching the ship is not fun

Some say that Heracles 1, who had been left watching the ship, reproached his comrades, ironically wondering whether they had left their countries in want of marriage, but others assert that it was Tiphys who admonished them. In any case, Jason decided to leave with his ARGONAUTS, probably after a couple of years; for he had two sons by Queen Hypsipyle.

Aeetes' test

When the ARGONAUTS, after several adventures, came to Colchis, Jason's courage and abilities were put to the test by King Aeetes, who invited him to yoke the brazen-footed bulls that breathed fire from their jaws, and with their help plough the field of Ares where he was to sow from the half of the Dragon's teeth which Aeetes had got from Athena, after the killing of the Boeotian dragon by Cadmus years ago. From these teeth, and in the same way as the SPARTI were born in Boeotia, armed men would grow up from the earth; and these Jason had to slay when they would rise against him on all sides.

Medea helps the lovely stranger

These were difficult tasks, but the gods, wishing to punish King Pelias 1 back home, made King Aeetes' daughter Medea fall in love with the stranger. And as she was, not just a princess but also a priestess and a witch, she found the way to help Jason, not only to meet Aeetes' challenge, but also to steal the Golden Fleece. In exchange for such invaluable services, Jason promised Medea to take her to Hellas, and there marry her and never dishonour her for want of kinsmen.

7110: Medea, Ercolano. National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

What Medea did for Jason

Many things did Medea for the sake of this handsome young man, so that he, escaping all dangers and performing great deeds, would become mighty and famous. For she betrayed her country and her father, helping Jason to cope with the brazen-footed bulls and the sown men, and leading him to the Golden Fleece, which was guarded by a sleepless dragon, whom she lulled to sleep by art and drugs. And when they left Colchis pursued by the fleet of Aeetes, she murdered her own brother Apsyrtus, and having cut him limb from limb, cast the pieces into the sea, so that Aeetes, gathering Apsyrtus' limbs, would fall behind in the pursuit. And if she did not perform this terrible deed, as others say, she nevertheless helped her lover to get rid of Apsyrtus, sending him to the next world in one way or another. And when the ARGONAUTS came to Crete, she destroyed the warder of the island Talos 1, who was made of bronze and was invulnerable, by drawing out a nail, so that all the ichor gushed out and he died. On their return to Iolcus, some say, Medea restored Jason's father Aeson to youth; and having deceived King Pelias 1's daughters, she had the king cut into pieces.

How Jason paid back

villenave01225: Medea revives Aeson. "Medea, with streaming hair after the fashion of the Bacchantes, moved round the blazing altars ..." (Ov. Met. 7.257). Guillaume T. de Villenave, Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide (Paris, Didot 1806–07). Engravings after originals by Jean-Jacques François Le Barbier (1739–1826), Nicolas André Monsiau (1754–1837), and Jean-Michel Moreau (1741–1814).

This is how Jason achieved all his aims. However, for the murder of Pelias 1, Medea and Jason were expelled from Iolcus by the king's son Acastus, and came as husband and wife to Corinth, where they lived happily for ten years. When this time passed, Jason discovered that what is advantageous in some situations may be a drawback in others. Medea, he reasoned, was useful in time of trouble, because of her strength and skills; but now, leading the life of peaceful citizens of Corinth, she could be seen rather as a foreign barbarian and an aged witch. This is why Jason, eager to build up a brilliant future for himself and his children, forgot all his promises and decided to get rid of her lawful wife and benefactress, by marrying the younger princess Glauce 4, daughter of King Creon 3 of Corinth.

How Medea ruined him

However, this never happened. For Medea sent a robe steeped in poison as a wedding gift, and when Glauce 4 had put it on, she was consumed with fire. Also her father Creon 3 died when he tried to rescue his daughter; for he fell upon his daughter's corpse and could not separate from her, as his flesh was torn from his bones when he tried to rise. And not satisfied with these deeds, Medea killed her own children by Jason, in case he had not yet understood how much he had risked and lost by betraying her.

Wife of Acastus plots against Peleus

Now, it has been said that when Acastus became king of Iolcus, his wife Astydamia 3 fell in love with Peleus (later father of Achilles) and sent him a proposal for a meeting but he refused. She then, feeling scorned, sent a word to Peleus' wife Antigone 1, daughter of King Eurytion 2 of Phthia, the man who purified Peleus of a murder, giving him his daughter and the third part of the country. In her letter Astydamia 3 explained that Peleus was about to marry Sterope 5, her own daughter by Acastus. When Antigone 1 received the message she killed herself.

Jason or his son back in Iolcus

But when Jason attacked Iolcus, helped by Peleus and the DIOSCURI, Peleus slaughtered Astydamia 3 and divided her limb from limb on account of her ugly trick. Jason might have taken the throne of Iolcus at this time, or else his own son by Medea, Thessalus 2, became king.

Death in some way or another

After these events, Medea was forced to escape and came to Athens, where she married King Aegeus 1. But Jason, some say, being unable to endure the loss of both wife and children, killed himself. Yet others have said that Medea foretold him a foul death: the wreckage of the Argo would fall upon Jason and kill him.






Aeson & Alcimede 1


Aeson & Polymede


Aeson & Amphinome 2


Aeson was son of Cretheus 1, son of Aeolus 1. He should have been king of Iolcus, but the throne was taken by Pelias 1. It is said that Aeson, threatened to death by Pelias 1, drank freely of a bull's blood and died. But others have said that he was restored to youth by Medea, and in this case his death was never reported.
Alcimede 1 was the daughter of Clymene 3, either by Phylacus 1 or Cephalus 1, both sons of Deion, son of Aeolus 1. Cephalus 1 is also known for having been married to Procris 2.
King Pelias 1 forced her and her husband Aeson to commit suicide, and she cursed him before dying. Some have said that she, threatened to death by Pelias 1, drank freely, along with her husband and their child Promachus 2, of a bull's blood and died, but others say that she hanged herself.
Polymede was daughter of Autolycus 1, the skilful thief, and Amphithea 3. Polymede is sister of Anticlia 1, Odysseus' mother.
After the death of her husband, Polymede cursed Pelias 1 and hanged herself.
Amphinome 2, whose parents are unknown, pronounced a curse against Pelias 1 and then killed herself with a sword.


a) Euneus 1
Nebrophonus 1 

b) Euneus 1
Deipylus 2

 c) Euneus 1
Thoas 9

"a)", "b)", etc. = different versions.

Hypsipyle was the daughter of King Thoas 3 of Lemnos. When the Lemnian women decided to kill their husbands and all men in Lemnos because of their having taken Thracian wives, Hypsipyle secretly spared her father. She nevertheless became queen of the Lemnian women, but when her trick was discovered, she was sold into slavery by them. When the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES came to Nemea, where Lycurgus 3 was king, she showed them the way to a spring. At the time she nursed the child Opheltes 1, son of King Lycurgus 3.

Euneus 1 became king of Lemnos, and sent ships from this island with cargoes of wine for the Achaeans during the Trojan War.

Both Euneus 1 and Thoas 9 has been reported to have taken part in the chariot-race at Opheltes 1's funeral games.




Mermerus 1

Pheres 2


Eriopis 2

Alcimenes 2

Thessalus 2


Some say that Mermerus 1 was killed by Medea. Others say that the Corinthians killed him, and still others affirm that he was killed by a lioness while hunting.
Pheres 2 was killed either by Medea or by the Corinthians.
Medus, who called his country Media after himself, is sometimes said to be the son of Aegeus 1 and Medea.
Thessalus 2 escaped being murdered by his mother, was reared as a youth in Corinth, and later moved to Iolcus, where he seized the throne and became king, thus taking what belonged to him by inheritance.
Tisandrus was much younger than his brothers Thessalus 2 and Alcimenes 2.

Glauce 4


Daughter of King Creon 3 of Corinth.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Acastus, Aeolus 1, Aeson, Alcestis, Alcidice, Alcimenes 2, Aleus, Amythaon 1, Antinoe 2, Aphidas 1, Arcas 1. Asteropia, Athamas 1, Cretheus 1, Deucalion 1, Eriopis 2, Euneus 1, Glauce 4, Helle, Hellen 1, Hippothoe 2, Hypsipyle, Jason, Medea, Medus, Medusa 4, Mermerus 1, Neleus, Nestor, Pelias 1, Pelopia 1, Pheres 1, Pheres 2, Phrixus 1, Pisidice 2, Poseidon, Promachus 2, Salmoneus, Sidero, Thessalus 2, Tisandrus, Tyro.

Related sections

Aeetes, Athamas 1, Medea, Pelias 1


AO.82; Apd.1.8.2, 1.9.16-17, 1.9.28; Arg.3.330 and passim; Dio.4.50.2, 4.53.2, 4.55.1; Eur.Med.1386 and passim; Hes.CWE.13; Hes.The.993-1001; Hyg.Fab.3, 12, 14, 15, 25; Nonn.30.205; Pau.2.3.8-9; Pin.Nem.3.54; Pin.Pyth.4.102ff.; Stat.Theb.6.342; Val.1.297 and passim.