Argonatus were a group of men who served as heroes in Greek mythology. They roamed Greece before the Trojan War (approximately 1300 BC). They also accompanied Jason to Colchis when he went on an adventure to look for the Golden Fleece. The group’s name comes from the name of their ship, Argo, which was built by Argus. The term “Argonauts” means “Argo sailors.”
When King Cretheus died, the Aeolian Pelias took over the Iolcan monarchy from his half-brother Aeson. He declared his was king of Iolcan in Thessaly. Thessaly was located near the modern Greek city of Volos. The Aeolian Pelias’s monarchy grab was an illegal move. An oracle warned that a Aeolus descendant would seek revenge against the Pelias. Pelias ordered that every important descendant of Aeolus be killed. Tyro, mother of Aeson, pled the Pelias to spare Aeson. Pelias granted this request but imprisoned Aeson and forced him to disclaim any inheritance.
Aeson went on to marry Alcimede. Alicimede became pregnant and gave birth to Jason. Pelias moved to kill the baby as it was a threat to his security over the crown. Alcimede got her friends to cry and act like the baby was stillborn. Alicimede faked a funeral and smuggled Jason to Mount Pelion. There, Jason was raised by Chiron. A well known hero trainer.
Jason turned 20 and an oracle told him to dress as a Magnesian and travel tot he Iolcan court. Jason lost his sandal as he crossed the Anavros river. He was helping an old woman at the time. Hera had disguised herself as this old woman. Hera was upset with Pelias because he killed his stepmother Sidero. Sidero attempted to seek refuge in Hera’s temple.
Pelias’s oracle warned him to be on the lookout for a man with only one shoe. Jason got to the Iolcan court and at the time Pelias was supervising a sacrafice to Poseidon. Neighboring kings were in attendance. Jason was dressed in leopard skin and only had on sandal. Pelias recognized Jason but could not kill Jason because
Pelias recognized that Jason was his nephew. He could not kill him because prominent kings of the Aeolian family were present. Rather than killing him, he asked Jason what he would do if his oracle announced that one of your own citizens were predicted to hill you? Jason replied that he would tell him to go look for the Golden Fleece. Jason did not know that Hera had put a spell on him and had gotten him to say that without knowing it.
Jason then learned that a ghost of Phrixus was haunting Pelias. Phrixus was riding a divine ram to avoid sacrafice at Orchomenus. He hid in Colchis and was later was refused a proper burial. An oracle predicted that Iolcus would only be successful if the ghost was taken back in a ship with the Golden Fleece.
The Golden Fleece was in a tree in the grove in the Colchian Ares, which was protected 24 hours a day by a dragon that didn’t sleep. Pelias promised Zeus that he would if Jason returned he would give up the crown. He believed that Jason would be killed if he tried to get the Golden Fleece. What Pelias didn’t know is that Hera ensured that Jason made it back safely with the Golden Fleece.
The Greeks never wrote a complete list of Argonauts. A researcher said that having an Argonautic ancestor was an addition to the best of Greek lineages.
- Actor, son of Hippas
- Amphion, son of Hypersaius
- Ancaeus, son of Poseidon
- Ancaeus, son of Lycurgus
- Argus, who build the Argo
- Argus, son of Phrixus
- Asterion, son of Cometes
- Asterius, brother to Amphion
- Autolycus, son of Deimachus
- Calaïs, son of Boreas
- Caeneus (son of Coronus)
- Castor (son of Tyndareus; twin and half-brother of Pollux)
- Cepheus, King of Tegea
- Clytius (son of Eurytus)
- Coronus (son of Caeneus)
- Deucalion of Crete
- Erginus (son of Poseidon)
- Erytus (brother of Echion)
- Eurymedon (son of Dionysus)
- Eurytus (son of Hermes)
- Heracles (son of Zeus)
- Iolaus (nephew of Heracles)
- Laërtes (Father of Odysseus)
- Laokoön (half-brother of Oeneus and tutor of Meleager)
- Medea (joined when the Fleece was recovered)
- Neleus (son of Poseidon)
- Palaimonius (son of Hephaestus)
- Periclymenus (grandson of Poseidon)
- Phanus (brother of Staphylus and Eurymedon)
- Phlias (son of Dionysus)
- Pollux (son of Zeus)
- Prias (brother of Phocus)
- Thersanon (son of Helios and Leucothoe)
- Theseus (son of Poseidon and slayer of the Minotaur)
- Zetes (son of Boreas)
In honor of the Argonauts, this blog will seek to discuss and highlight modern day heroes, whether real or in fiction. Hopefully this blog will inspire and encourage appreciation for the heroes in our lives.