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Jason (in Greek mythology)

Jason, in Greek mythology, son of Aeson. When Pelias usurped the throne of Iolcus and killed (or imprisoned) Aeson and most of his descendants, Jason was smuggled off to the centaur Chiron, who reared him secretly on Mt. Pelion. Later Pelias promised Jason his rightful kingdom if he would bring the Golden Fleece to Boeotia. Jason assembled Greece's bravest heroes and together they sailed in the Argo in quest of the fleece. On their journey the Argonauts were seduced by beautiful women, attacked by warriors, buffeted by storms, and challenged by monstrous creatures. Finally the blind prophet Phineus told them how to make their way safely to Colchis, where the Golden Fleece was kept. When they arrived there, King Aeëtes demanded that before Jason take the fleece he yoke together two fire-breathing bulls, plow the field of Ares, and sow it with dragon's teeth obtained from Cadmus. Aeëtes' daughter Medea fell in love with Jason and gave him magical protection that allowed him to complete the tasks. In return Jason swore an oath of fidelity and promised to take her with him to Greece. When Aeëtes still refused to relinquish the fleece, Medea revealed its hiding place and drugged the guardian dragon. The Argonauts then fled Colchis with the fleece, pursued by Aeëtes. But Medea killed and cut to pieces his son Absyrtus, scattering the parts of his body in the sea. Aeëtes stopped to retrieve them. In another version, Absyrtus led the pursuit and, when Medea tricked him into an ambush, was killed by Jason.

Jason and Medea stopped to be purified of the murder by Circe at Aeaea, and there they were married. When they returned to Iolcus they found that Pelias had continued his tyrannical rule. Medea persuaded Pelias that he could be rejuvenated by having pieces of his body boiled in a magical brew. She then convinced his daughters that they should perform the task of cutting up their father. Pelias was thus murdered by his innocent daughters. Jason seized the city, but he and Medea were expelled by Acastus, the son of Pelias.

They sailed on to Orchomenses in Boeotia, where they hung the fleece in a temple. Then they went to Corinth. There Medea had rights to the throne, and Jason reigned for many years. But he forgot his oath and tried to divorce Medea so that he could marry Creusa, daughter of King Creon. In revenge, Medea, by magic and trickery, burned to death both the father and daughter. Because Jason had broken his oath, the gods caused him to wander homeless for many years. As an old man he returned to Corinth, where, resting in the shadow of the Argo, he was killed when the prow toppled over on him. The story of Jason and Medea appears frequently in literature, most notably in Euripides.

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Jason

Jason

In Greek mythology, Jason was the leader of a band of adventurers who set out on a long journey to find the Golden Fleece*. Although he succeeded in this quest, he never achieved his true goalto become king of the land of Iolcus. Jason's story is one of violence and tragedy as well as adventure, partly because of his relationship with the enchantress and witch Medea.


Background to the Quest. Like many Greek heroes, Jason was of royal blood. His father was King Aeson of Iolcus in northwestern Greece. The king's half brother Pelias wanted the throne himself and overthrew Aeson while Jason was still a boy Jason's mother feared for his safety. She sent him away to be guarded by Chiron, a wise centaur who took charge of the boy's education. Chiron taught Jason hunting and warfare, music and medicine. Some accounts say that the centaur also gave Jason his name, which means "healer," in recognition of the boy's skill in the medical arts.

At about the age of 20, Jason headed back to Iolcus, determined to gain the throne that rightfully belonged to him. On the way, he helped an old woman across a flooded stream and lost one of his sandals. Unknown to him, the old woman was the goddess Hera* in disguise. She vowed to destroy Pelias, who had failed to worship her properly, and to help Jason.

An oracle had warned Pelias to beware of a man wearing one sandal. When Jason arrived in Iolcus, the king confronted him. Jason identified himself and declared that he had come for his throne. Prevented by the laws of hospitality from attacking Jason openly, Pelias resorted to trickery. He said that if Jason could bring him the fabled Golden Fleece, he would make him his heir. Pelias believed that obtaining the heavily guarded fleece from the distant land of Colchis was a nearly impossible task.

centaur half-human, half-animal creature with the body of a horse and the head, chest, and arms of a human

oracle priest or priestess or other creature through whom a god is believed to speak; also the location (such as a shrine) where such words are spoken

The Quest. Jason assembled a band of brave adventurersincluding the sons of kings and gods and some other former students of Chironto accompany him in his quest. They sailed in a magic ship called the Argo and were known as the Argonauts. Among them were the famous musician Orpheus* and the demigod hero Hercules*.

The Argonauts' eventful journey to Colchis, their seizure of the Golden Fleece, and their long voyage home became the subject of many tales and works of art. They might never have succeeded without the help of Medea, the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, who fell in love with Jason. Some versions of the story say that Hera persuaded Aphrodite, the goddess of love, to inspire Medea's passion. Both a clever woman and a witch with knowledge of magic, Medea would be a useful helpmate to Jason.

demigod one who is part human and part god

When Jason arrived in Colchis, Aeëtes set harsh conditions for handing over the Golden Fleece, including the accomplishment of several seemingly impossible tasks. Jason had to yoke two fire-breathing bulls to a plow, sow a field with dragons' teeth, and then fight the armed warriors that grew from those teeth. In all these trials, Medea used her magic powers to protect and guide

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

Jason. Then after Jason promised to marry her, she helped him steal the fleece from the serpent that guarded it.

With the fleece on board, the Argo sailed away from Colchis, pursued by Medea's brother Apsyrtus. Apsyrtus caught up with the ship and spoke with Jason, promising to let him keep the Golden Fleece if he would give up Medea. However, Medea objected to this plan. When she and Jason next met Apsyrtus, Jason killed him.


Return to Iolcus. After a long journey home with many adventures along the way, Jason and the Argonauts finally arrived back in Iolcus. Jason delivered the Golden Fleece to Pelias. Meanwhile, Medea decided to get rid of Pelias (accounts differ on whether Jason knew of her plan). She persuaded the king's daughters that she could make their father young again, but first they would have to cut him up and put him in a pot. This procedure led only to a messy death, and the horrified people of Iolcus drove Jason and Medea away. The couple settled in Corinth, where they lived for ten years and had several children.

Their peaceful interlude ended when Creon, the king of Corinth, offered Jason his daughter in marriage. Jason accepted and divorced Medea. Enraged at this shabby treatment, Medea sent the new bride a poisoned wedding gown, which killed her when she put it on and killed Creon as he tried to save her. Some versions of this myth say that, to punish Jason still further, Medea went on to kill the children she had borne him, while other accounts say that the angry Corinthians killed them. Either way, the children perished and Medea fled to Athens.

According to some accounts, Medea killed Jason at Corinth as part of her bloodbath. Much more common, though, is the story that Jason lived out his last days at Corinth, alone and broken by tragedy. One day as he sat near the Argo, which was rotting away, a piece of wood broke off from the ship and fell on him, killing the one-time hero of the Golden Fleece.

See also Argonauts; GOLDEN FLEECE; GREEK MYTHOLOGY; Medea.

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Jason

Jason in Greek mythology, the son of the king of Iolcos in Thessaly, and leader of the Argonauts in the quest for the Golden Fleece, during which Jason has to perform such tasks as yoking a pair of fire-breathing bulls for ploughing, and sowing the dragon's teeth of Cadmus, from which spring up armed men. Assisted by the sorceress Medea, whom he marries, he is successful in his quest, but later when he deserts her for Creusa, daughter of the king of Corinth, Medea takes vengeance by killing the princess as well as her own children by Jason.

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Jason

Jason In Greek mythology, hero and leader of the Argonauts. Sent on a quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason sailed aboard the Argo. After surviving many perils, he found the fleece in Colchis and stole it, with the help of the sorceress Medea, whom he married.

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Jason (in the Bible)

Jason, in the New Testament. 1 St. Paul's host at Thessalonica. 2 Companion of Paul at Corinth, perhaps the same as 1.

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Jason

Jason •Masson •flaxen, Jackson, klaxon, Sachsen, Saxon, waxen •Samson •Branson, Jansen, Manson, Nansen •arson, Carson, fasten, parson, sarsen •Bresson, delicatessen, Essen, lessen, lesson •Texan •Belsen, keelson, Nelson •Mendelssohn • Empson •Benson, ensign •Stetson •basin, caisson, chasten, diapason, hasten, Jason, mason •Bateson • handbasin • washbasin •Freemason • stonemason • Nielsen •Stevenson •christen, glisten, listen •Gibson, Ibsen •Blixen, Nixon, vixen •Nilsson, Stillson, Wilson •Nicholson • Simpson • Whitsun •Robinson • Acheson •Addison, Madison •Edison •Atkinson • Dickinson • Alison •Tennyson, venison •unison •caparison, comparison, garrison, Harrison •Ericsson • Morrison •archdiocesan, diocesan •jettison • Davisson •bison, Meissen, Tyson •Michelson • Robson •coxswain, oxen •Mommsen, Thompson •Johnson, Jonson, sponson, Swanson •Watson •coarsen, hoarsen, Orson •boatswain, bosun •Robeson • Jolson • moisten • loosen •Wolfson • Cookson • Hudson •Bunsen • tutsan •Grierson, Pearson •Culbertson • Richardson • Anderson •Jefferson • Ferguson • Rowlandson •Amundsen • Emerson • Jespersen •Saracen • Peterson • Williamson •person, worsen •Bergson • chairperson • layperson •salesperson • sportsperson •spokesperson

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Jason

JASON

JASON (second century b.c.e.), high priest. Jason, who adopted this Greek form of his Hebrew name Joshua, was the son of the high priest Simeon ii and a brother of *Onias iii. According to Josephus he was also the brother of *Menelaus, but it is almost certain, in the light of ii Maccabees, that this is inaccurate. The events that occurred at the end of the high priesthood of Onias iii undermined his standing in the Seleucid court. Jason exploited the ascent of Antiochus iv to the throne (176 b.c.e.) and his need of money to have his brother deposed and to obtain the high priesthood for himself (175), against the promise of large sums of money. Antiochus also granted him authority to establish in Jerusalem a Hellenist polis whose citizens were selected and registered by Jason himself. Armed with this authority, he established within Jerusalem a city-state called Antiochia, whose citizens he chose from the Hellenized aristocracy of Jerusalem, and erected a gymnasium in the capital. His actions led to a strengthening of Hellenistic culture in the city and to a weakening of the traditional way of life and of religious worship (ii Macc. 4:7–15). This policy of Jason and his supporters was the chief cause of the Hasmonean revolt which broke out afterward, and which finally freed Judea from the rule of the Seleucids and gave birth to the Hasmonean dynasty. Jason sent envoys and gifts to Tyre in honor of the festivities to the Tyrean god Heracles. He also welcomed Antiochus when he visited Jerusalem in 174 b.c.e. However, three years later he was dismissed from the high priesthood by the king, and Menelaus, who offered Antiochus a larger sum of money for the office, was appointed in his stead. A few years later, in 168 b.c.e., when a false rumor spread that Antiochus was dead, he attempted to return and seize power in Jerusalem. He was unsuccessful, however, and was compelled to leave the city after instituting a slaughter of the inhabitants. For a while he was imprisoned by the Arabian king, Aretas. His last years were spent wandering from place to place, and he was not buried in the family sepulcher.

bibliography:

ii Macc. 4:7–29; 5:5–10; Jos., Ant., 12:238ff.; Schuerer, Hist, 24–26; A. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (1959), index; S.K. Eddy, The King Is Dead (1961), 206–11.

[Uriel Rappaport]

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Jason

Jason

Nationality/Culture

Greek

Pronunciation

JAY-suhn

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

Ovid's Metamorphoses, Hyginus's Fabulae

Lineage

Son of King Aeson and Queen Alcimede of Iolcus

Character Overview

In Greek mythology , Jason was the leader of a band of adventurers who set out on a long journey to find the Golden Fleece. Although he succeeded in this quest, he never achieved his true goal—to become king of the land of Iolcus (pronounced ee-AHL-kuhs), to which he was the rightful heir. Jason's story is one of violence and tragedy as well as adventure, pardy because of his relationship with the enchantress and witch Medea (pronounced me-DEE-uh).

Early Life Like many Greek heroes , Jason was of royal blood. His father was King Aeson (pronounced EE-son) of Iolcus in northwestern Greece. The king's half brother Pelias (pronounced PEEL-ee-uhs) wanted the throne himself and overthrew Aeson while Jason was still a boy. Jason's mother feared for his safety. She sent him away to be guarded by Chiron (pronounced KYE-ron), a wise centaur—a creature that is half man and half horse—who took charge of the boy's education. Chiron taught Jason hunting, warfare, music, and medicine. Some accounts say that the centaur also gave Jason his name, which means “healer,” in recognition of the boy's skill in the medical arts.

At about the age of twenty, Jason headed back to Iolcus, determined to gain the throne that rightfully belonged to him. On the way, he helped an old woman across a flooded stream and lost one of his sandals. Unknown to him, the old woman was the goddess Hera (pronounced HAIR-uh) in disguise. She vowed to destroy Pelias, who had failed to worship her properly, and to help Jason.

An oracle, or person who could communicate with the gods, had warned Pelias to beware of a man wearing one sandal. When Jason arrived in Iolcus, the king confronted him. Jason identified himself and declared that he had come for his throne. Prevented by the laws of hospitality from attacking Jason openly, Pelias resorted to trickery. He said that if Jason could bring him the fabled Golden Fleece, he would make him his heir. Pelias believed that obtaining the heavily guarded fleece from the distant land of Colchis (pronounced KOL-kis) was a nearly impossible task.

The Quest for the Golden Fleece Jason assembled a band of brave adventurers—including the sons of kings and gods and some other former students of Chiron—to accompany him on his quest. They sailed in a magic ship called the Argo (pronounced AHR-goh) and were known as the Argonauts (pronounced AHR-guh-nawts). Among them were the famous musician Orpheus (pronounced OR-fee-uhs) and the hero Heracles (pronounced HAIR-uh-kleez).

The Argonauts' eventful journey to Colchis, their seizure of the Golden Fleece, and their long voyage home became the subject of many tales and works of art. They might never have succeeded without the help of Medea, the daughter of King Aeetes (ay-EE-teez) of Colchis, who fell in love with Jason. Some versions of the story say that Hera persuaded Aphrodite (pronounced af-ro-DYE-tee), the goddess of love, to inspire Medea's passion. Both a clever woman and a witch with knowledge of magic, Medea would be a useful helpmate to Jason.

When Jason arrived in Colchis, Aeetes set harsh conditions for handing over the Golden Fleece, including the accomplishment of several seemingly impossible tasks. Jason had to hook two fire-breathing bulls to a plow, sow a field with dragons' teeth, and then fight the armed warriors that grew from those teeth. In all these trials, Medea used her magic powers to protect and guide Jason. Then after Jason promised to marry her, she helped him steal the fleece from the serpent that guarded it.

With the fleece on board, the Argo sailed away from Colchis, pursued by Medea's brother Apsyrtus (pronounced ap-SUR-tuhs). Apsyrtus caught up with the ship and spoke with Jason, promising to let him keep the Golden Fleece if he would give up Medea. However, Medea objected to this plan. When she and Jason next met Apsyrtus, Jason killed him.

Return to lolcus After a long journey home with many adventures along the way, Jason and the Argonauts finally arrived back in lolcus. Jason delivered the Golden Fleece to Pelias. Meanwhile, Medea decided to get rid of Pelias (accounts differ on whether Jason knew of her plan). She persuaded the king's daughters that she could make their father young again, but first they would have to cut him up and put him in a pot. This procedure led only to a messy death, and the horrified people of lolcus drove Jason and Medea away. The couple settled in Corinth, where they lived for ten years and had several children.

Their peaceful interlude ended when Creon (pronounced KREE-ahn), the king of Corinth, offered Jason his daughter in marriage. Jason accepted and divorced Medea. Enraged at this poor treatment, Medea sent the new bride a poisoned wedding gown, which killed her when she put it on and killed Creon as he tried to save her. Some versions of this myth say that, to punish Jason still further, Medea went on to kill the children she had borne him, while other accounts say that the angry Corinthians killed them. Either way, the children perished and Medea fled to Athens.

According to some accounts, Medea killed Jason at Corinth as part of her bloodbath. Much more common, though, is the story that Jason lived out his last days at Corinth, alone and broken by tragedy. One day as he sat near the Argo, which was rotting away, a piece of wood broke off from the ship and fell on him, killing the one-time hero of the Golden Fleece.

Jason in Context

The story of Jason centers on the passing of royal power from one generation to the next. These myths pre-date government rule by elected officials and represent an older system of rule still common in many regions during the height of the Greek empire. Historical records suggest that plots and overthrows of rulers were all too common in ancient Greece and Rome. The story of Jason helps to encourage the tradition of passing of power from a king to his son; this is done by showing Jason to be a sympathetic hero, prompting the audience to root for his success. The seeds of Jason's downfall are sown when he accepts help from Medea, a witch with few scruples. In the end, Jason's desire for power leads to the deaths of Medea's brother, Pelias, Creon, Creon's daughter, and his own children. The myth warns that not all paths to power are worth taking.

Key Themes and Symbols

In the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, the Golden Fleece is a symbol of that which is unattainable or cannot be gotten. Pelias only gives Jason the task because he believes it cannot be completed. Even after arriving in Colchis, the fleece seems impossible to take. And once Jason returns to Iolcus with the fleece, he is still unable to attain his rightful place as king. The Golden Fleece can also be seen as a symbol of rightful heirs to royal power, as Jason possessed the fleece and was the rightful heir to his father's throne.

Jason himself represents justice, as the heir who returns in an attempt to claim the throne that, according to tradition, rightfully belonged to him. He may also represent a method of leadership that was growing increasingly unpopular in the face of more democratic forms of government; in the end, Jason does not reclaim his kingdom for himself, and dies in a way not at all befitting a hero or rightful king.

Jason in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Many writers have been inspired by the subject of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. Among the ancient Greek works concerning the subject are Pindar's Pythian Ode, Apollonius Rhodius's Argonautica, and Euripides' play Medea. In the Middle Ages, English writer Geoffrey Chaucer retold the story in the Legend of Good Women, and in the 1800s, William Morris wrote the long narrative poem Life and Death of Jason which centered on the quest. Robert Graves's novel The Golden Fleece was published in 1944, and John Gardner's Jason and Medeia was published in 1973. The story of the search for the Golden Fleece has also been adapted to film, most notably the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

Voyage with Jason by Ken Catran (2000) is a re-telling of Jason's adventures during his search for the Golden Fleece. The tale focuses on Pylos, a young apprentice shipbuilder who is taken aboard the Argo as the only crew member who is not a hero. The novel, first published in New Zealand, was named Book of the Year at the 2001 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

SEE ALSO Argonauts; Golden Fleece; Greek Mythology; Medea

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