The Legend Of Jason And The Argonauts Finally Explained

If there were such a thing as the Avengers in the world of the Ancient Greeks, it would be the Argonauts, a ragtag group of mythical heroes assembled to save the day. And they're a fascinating group, especially when you realize they gathered to help one person get his kingdom back.

The myth of Jason and the Argonauts endured for centuries, mainly because its heroes' exploits exemplified resilience and took them on adventures to new lands. The Argonauts, named for the ship they sailed on, the Argo, were gathered by legendary hero Jason. According to PBS, Jason is the rightful heir to the throne of Iolkis, but after his father died, his uncle, Pelias, stole the crown. After a bunch of adventures on his own, Jason returned to Iolkis to reclaim his birthright. Pelias, however, wanted to make him suffer. So he ordered the young man to go on an impossible quest to prove his worth. He had to get the fabled Golden Fleece. 

The Ancient History Encyclopedia writes that the goddess Athena favored Jason, so to help him in this quest, she gifted him Greece's first longboat, the Argo. Then, like Nick Fury, he assembled the greatest heroic team. He called on Hercules, Theseus, Orpheus, the founders of Rome — Castor and Pollux — and Peleus, Achilles's father. This group of heroes set sail for the island of Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece.

The myth may have been inspired by a true story

According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, historians think Jason and the Argonauts reflect the journey undertaken by the Myceneans in the 13th century B.C. The Myceneans had begun to explore the islands to the east of Greece and faced different cultures there, much like the Argonauts did. The Caucasus Mountains in the east reportedly was filled with gold — you know, like the Golden Fleece. CNN reported that archaeologists even found ruins that may have inspired the myth.

The reason people believe the Argonauts told the story of the Myceneans is that the heroes traveled to many islands before finding the Golden Fleece. Classical Wisdom explained the Argonauts made multiple bad choices during the trip, but ultimately overcame them, showing how human and fallible they are, but also how strong they can be. For example, the Argonauts landed on the island of Lemnos, where the men, overcome by lust, bedded the women until they were persuaded to leave. The Argonauts also faced harpies, six-armed giants, and sirens.

Throughout the quest, several original Argonauts either died or, in the case of Hercules, left to pursue their own heroic feats and star in their own stories. Eventually, they did reach Colchis, and after a couple of trials, and magic help from new Argonaut Medea, Jason finally got the Golden Fleece. Of course, this was not the end of Jason's adventures; just ask anyone who's read Medea.