Chapter Seven - Jason
The King of Iolcus was Jason's father, but his uncle Pelias stole the throne. Pelias was always afraid of this unjustly won throne being taken away. Jason's uncle kept his father, The King, a prisoner and would have killed Jason, but Jason's mother tricked Pelias by acting as though Jason had died. At this time Jason was really being smuggled to Chiron the Centaur. Chiron taught Jason about hunting, plants and healing. When Jason was old enough he embarked on a journey to claim the throne that was his by birthright.
Without knowing it Jason would play an important role in a plan that was formed on lofty Mount Olympus.... Hera, Zeus' wife had was holding a grudge against King Pelias. You see, Uncle Pelias had honored all of the gods but Hera and she was outraged. In his ignorance he had not Given the Queen of heaven her due and he would pay... This plan of Hera's was full of risks and needed a true hero. (That would be where Jason comes into play) To test Jason, Hera caused him to be caught in a really bad rain storm while walking beside a stream. On the opposite bank there was a helpless old lady. What Hera needed to know was if Jason would just ignore the woman, or take her across the stream.
Jason was a good boy and gladly helped the old lady across the stream. About halfway across the weight of the old woman became almost too much for him to bear The old hag was of course none other than Hera herself in disguise, so of course she weighed more than your average grandma. Jason would never know of this great deed he was doing. It would affect the rest of his life. While crossing the stream Jason lost one of his shoes. This would prove quite significant for when Jason arrived in his home town, he immediately let everyone know that he was the rightful owner of the throne. But Ol' Uncle Pelias had no intention of giving it up, particularly to a one shoed stranger.
Uncle invited Jason to a dinner as to look hospitable. He started talking to Jason during the meal. " How would you get rid of someone that was causing some problems?" Jason pondered over it for a moment wanting to impress the king. "Send him after the Golden Fleece?" he suggested. "Not a bad idea," answered Pelias. "It's the sort of quest any true hero would jump up at." Why, if he succeeded he would be remembered generation after generation. "In fact, why don't you go?"
The word that Jason was leaving on perilous but rewarding quest spread like wild-fire and men lined up ready to sign on his ship. They signed up knowing the small factor that it was highly doubted that they would return alive, if they returned at all. These sailors would be remembered as the Argonauts after the name of their ship,
Argus the designer of the ship had a great advantage considering the fact that Hera had to get Athena all involved. Being the Goddess of crafts, she built a prow that would prophesy during the journey. The Argo set out on a crisp autumn morning, her crew was a heroic one. To Pelias' joy the crew ran into some bad luck not long after setting sail. Because you see they put in at Salmydessus.
The king welcomed them with false hospitality. He wasn't really in the mood for guests at the moment. He had been set upon by bird bodied, woman headed rrazor clawedscourges known , my friend, as Harpies. These creatures had no table manners whatsoever. They were even worse than a 2 year old eating spaghetti. In the evenings, about dinner-time, they would drop in and make loud almost unbearable nail-scraping-on-chalkboard noises. The King would not have been able to eat even if he had wanted to. For this reason King Phineus was becoming thin like an anorexic teen-ager. Lucky for the King a couple of Jason's crew were descendants of the North Wind, enabling them to fly. They courteously chased the Harpies away and the king was not annoyed by their presence any longer.
In his gratitude King Phineus informed our friends the Argonauts of a danger that they would soon be approaching. This danger was called the Sympleglades. The Sympleglades were two rocks that clashed together when an object passed through them. Getting through these rocks could cause a quite large problem. But the ever generous King offered them a solution to this problem. He proposed that if a bird could be persuaded to pass through this death trap first, the ship could follow speedily behind. By doing this the rocks would not be ready to close again when the Argo went through, and the ship would come through unscathed. By using the King's advice, the Argonauts and their ship made it safely through the Sympleglades.
Once Jason arrived at his desired location, he met the king. The king had previously come up with some challenges for Jason and was now letting Jason know about them. You see King Aeetes and his people hated strangers. Although previously the welcomed a stranger who came from Jason's home town. This might have had something to do with the small fact that he arrived on the back of a flying ram who wore a golden fleece. The name of the stranger was Phrixus. Phrixus was knocking on the sacrificial door, when out of the blue the ram appeared and carried him off. Having miraculously arrived safely, he sacrificed the ram to the gods and hung the fleece up in a clearing. The King liked him so much that he even gave him one of his daughters hands in marriage.
King Aeetes hated Jason on sight. He had no room in his heart left for tall, dark, and handsome strangers. Especially ones who came traipsing into his kingdom. Even more than that he hated tall, dark, and handsome men who came traipsing into his kingdom on a heroic quest featuring the trampling of his sacred grove and making off with his personal property. You see the King already basically claimed the Golden Fleece as his own property. He was in the middle of telling Jason what he thought of his heroic quest when his daughter Medea brought back to his memory the word 'hospitality'. Medea was encouraged by more than propriety. You see Hera had been looking out for Jason, and she had succeeded in persuading her fellow goddess Aphrodite to intervene for Jason's sake.
It was all in a day's work for Aphrodite to arrange for Medea to be stricken with love for Jason the moment she set eyes on him. This little favor should make Jason even more gratified towards Hera. For not only was he saved from a royal pain-in-the-rear conversation. But she also offered to help him in his latest predicament. You see once Medea's father calmed down, he became mysteriously reasonable. Of course Jason could have the Fleece and anything else he wanted. The king couldn't imagine what had caused him to be so hasty. The King Aeetes only required that as a token of faith, Jason should assist him in the simplest of farmyard chores.
Two bulls were standing in the pasture next-door. If Jason would be so kind as to harness them, plow the field, sow it and reap the harvest in one day, The King would be very thankful, and only too happy to hand over the Golden Fleece. There was only one hazard, the bulls hooves were made of steel sharp enough to rip open a person from top to bottom. And then there was the other small factor of the bulls dire need of a Tic-Tac, in other words, there breath was smokin'. If you still haven't caught on to what I'm trying to say then here it is in very plain words: the bulls could breathe fire. At about this time , our friend Jason thought he heard his mother calling. But, in the nick of time Medea took him aside and proposed that she might be of aid.
Quite conveniently for Jason, Medea was a famous sorceress, magic potions being her stock in trade. She sneaked Jason some lotion that would make him bull-hoof-proof, and flame proof.. Now Jason just walked right up to the bulls, and they gave him no problem. By ignoring the fire that danced all about him and staying away from the razor-sharp hooves, he forced the bulls into the harness and started plowing the field. It wasn't really a chore for jason to do the plowing now that his hope had been renewed. He threw the seed around like a nymph flinging flowers in springtime, but he did not really notice the nature of the seed.
The King had gotten his hands onto some dragons teeth, that had some interesting factors. As soon as these "seeds" hit the dirt, they started growing. This almost immediate sprouting was good from Jason's point of view, since he was trying to finish his little chore by nightfall Except for the little fact that these "seeds" grew into fully armed warriors. They popped up and immediately joined the throng of menacing soldiers. King Aeetes on the other hand was chuckling silently to himself on the outer edge of the pasture. It was kind of annoying to the king when Medea slipped through the neatly plowed rows to Jason's side, but he thought no more of it . He probably thought that his daughter was just politely saying her farewells.
Actually she was not doing what the king thought at all, the was once more involved in saving her hero's life. This time she didn't brew up any body moisturizer for Jason, but instead gave him a bit of pschcology. Jason whose brains weren't quite as large as his brawn, at least had the intelligence to recognize good advice. By using the proposal given by the king's daughter, he finished on deadline by using a little more of his brawn. He merely threw a stone at one of the "seed warriors", and the warrior thinking it was his neighbor that had tried to stone him, and in almost no time all of the seed men had killed one another with their own weapons until none were left.
Our not-so-friendly friend the king, had to make it look as though he would stay true to his word and surrender the fleece, although he had no intention of doing that at all. But our stupid friend the king made the stupid error of telling this little fact to his daughter, Medea. Medea, who was still possessed by the goddess of love, in turn, told Jason of this plan. She even offered to lead him under the cover of darkness to the clearing where the fleece was on display. The only obstacle here was that the fleece was guarded by a dragon. As planned, late that night they slipped into the holy temple of Ares, the god of war. Jason, ever the idiot, drew his sword out of its scabbard, but the king's daughter restrained his hot-headedness.
Instead, ever the sorceress, she just happened to be carrying a sleeping potion for dragons. They stole the fleece and made off to the Argo while darkness still lasted. They set sail at once, in which way, they were not pursued In this way, Jason succeeded in his heroic challenge, and immediately returned to Greece. Jason, who had sworn his love to Medea for her courageous service towards him, abandoned her for another princess upon their return to Greece. His promises were about as good as his single-handed questing.
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