The myth of Jason, Medea, and the Golden Fleece - Iseult Gillespie
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Although there are different versions of Absyrtus’ murder, the event makes is part of what makes the myth one of Ancient Greece’s most transgressive - filled with complex characters and unclear motives. You can read the translation of Appolonius of Rhodes’ source text here. The saga has also been represented visually in painting, sculpture and drawing – see here and here for some examples.
Perhaps the most controversial character in the saga is Medea, traditionally portrayed as a witch who forsakes her family for love and power. In the ancient playwright Euripedes Medea, which you can read here, the princess is a bloodthirsty tyrant. But later versions complicate and revise this demonization
The myth gets even more debatable with questions about what the golden fleece itself represents. Mythically, it was thought to be the hide of a magical flying ram named Chrysomallos who sported glittering golden curls. You can learn more about this creature here. Other interpretations focus on the fleece as standing for abstract concepts like power and corruption. In this epic tale of a man that can never be satisfied, we could also think about the fleece as symbolizing the gleaming allure of adventure - or the flickering line between Jason as a mighty hero, and someone willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of power.
And the tale doesn’t end there. With the blood of Abyrstus on Jason and Medea’s the Gods debate what to do with the disgraced crew. Hera, Jason’s champion, insists that he has fulfilled his heroic duties by retrieving the fleece. But Zeus is furious at Jason’s brutality, and sends storms to put the ship hurtling off course. In the later sections of the saga, Jason has to account for his wrongdoing while his complicit crew are doomed to wander restlessly with him.
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