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Hercules & Argonauts

Hercules & Argonauts


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Golden Fleece

In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece (Greek: Χρυσόμαλλο δέρας , Chrysómallo déras) is the fleece of the golden-woolled, [a] winged ram, Chrysomallos, which was held in Colchis. [1] The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

It figures in the tale of the hero Jason and his crew of Argonauts, who set out on a quest for the fleece by order of King Pelias, in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly. Through the help of Medea, they acquire the Golden Fleece. The story is of great antiquity and was current in the time of Homer (eighth century BC). It survives in various forms, among which the details vary.

Nowadays, the heraldic variations of the Golden Fleece are featured frequently in the Republic of Georgia, especially for Coats of Arms and Flags associated with Western Georgian (Historical Colchis) municipalities and cities, including the Coats of Arms of City of Kutaisi, the ancient capital city of Colchis.


Myths of Hercules

This hero's popularity is unmatched in Greek mythology his greatest adventures have been cataloged as the 12 Labors of Hercules. These included slaying terrible monsters such as the Hydra, the Nemean Lion, and the Erymanthean Boar, as well as completing impossible tasks such as cleaning the vast and filthy stables of King Augus and stealing the golden apples of the Hesperides. These and other tasks were devised by King Eurystheus, Hercules' cousin, who was appointed by the Oracle at Delphi his taskmaster after the hero, in a misbegotten rage, killed his own family. Eurystheus also dubbed him Heracles — the "Glory of Hera" — as an ironic jab at the hero and his Olympian nemesis.

Hercules figured in a second suite of adventures, called the other labors the Parerga. He also was a companion of Jason on the Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece. Ultimately, Hercules was deified, and his cult spread throughout Greece, Asia Minor, and Rome.


Apollodorus wrote a different list, which includes the heroine Atalanta, whom Jason denied in Apollonius's version, but who is included by Diodorus Siculus. Siculus was the first-century Greek historian who wrote the monumental universal history, "Bibliotheca Historica." Apollodorus's list also includes Theseus, who was previously engaged in Apollonius's version.

According to Jimmy Joe, in his article, "An Explanation Of The Crew Of The Argo, published on the website, Timeless Myths, the earliest version of the list of Argonauts comes from Pindar's "Pythian Ode IV." Pindar was a poet who lived in the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. His list of Argonauts consists of Jason, Heracles, Castor, Polydeuces, Euphemus, Periclymenus, Orpheus, Erytus, Echion, Calais, Zetes, Mopsus.


Yvenna

Yvenna was a student at Cheiron's Academy with Hercules, with whom she had an uncomfortable relationship, due to their mutual attraction. After Jason began recruiting people for his quest for the Golden Fleece, she revealed that her Uncle owned the Argo and so she was made part of the Argonauts on their hunt for the Golden Fleece.

During this time, she revealed to her friends her reason for joining the crew: years ago, her home village had been attacked by raiders, and that although she and her people had fought bravely, they had been forced into slavery, with her the only one to escape. She now wished to save her village with the help of the Fleece. She later revealed privately to Hercules that this was only partially the truth: she had not fought to save her village, but had in fact, run away and hid in the woods while it was attacked. She believed that if she could prove herself worthy of retrieving the Fleece, then she would be ready to return and save her people.

When the Argonauts landed on the island of Discord, they were infected by the Goddess with violent and sexual desires, and Yvenna and Hercules nearly had sex while under her influence. However, Yvenna attempted to stab him with a knife, and he knocked her out. After they were cured, she and Hercules seemed to have begun a tenuous romantic relationship.

In order to retrieve the Fleece, the Argonauts had to fight a giant named Talos who was under Ares' command. In order to distract the giant in order to give Hercules the opportunity to kill it, she took the Fleece, and distracted the monster from atop a house in the village. However, she was unable to compete with his sheer power, and was mortally wounded when he knocked her off the house. Despite attempts to save her with the Fleece, she died of her injuries, but not before Hercules told her that she was a hero, and she begged him for a promise, but died before revealing it. Hercules later came to believe that her wish was for him to save her village, which he set off to do in memory of her. ( Young Hercules).


Hercules

Of all the Greek heroes, Hercules was by far the most famous. He was a mortal man, who through hard work became immortal and joined the gods of Olympus. Hercules was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. Alcmene&rsquos husband Amphiteryon was out avenging her brother&rsquos death at the hands of pirates. Zeus, disguised as Amphiteryon, came to her and told her stories of how he killed the pirates to avenge her brother&rsquos death. That night Zeus went to bed with Alcmene and impregnated her. The next day the real Amphiteryon returned with his stories of avenging the pirates, and he could not understand why his wife was irritated with him and seemed disinterested in the stories. It was then that Amphiteryon consulted a blind seer and became aware of what Zeus did.

Zeus talked Athena into tricking Hera into suckling Hercules. As the story goes, Athena and Hera came upon a baby abandoned at the walls of Thebes. Athena suggested to Hera to suckle the poor abandoned baby. Hera did so, but the baby sucked so hard that she had to push him away. The force was so strong that the milk from her breast spurted out and became the Milky Way.

Hercules had several teachers in his youth who taught him well. Here is a partial list of his teachers and the areas they instructed him in:


Amphitrton &ndash chariot driving

Castor &ndash art of riding horses in battle

Cheiron &ndash (centaur) politics, manners, and wisdom

Eumolpus &ndash playing the lyre and singing

Not only was he well trained, but Hercules also received lavish gifts from the gods of Olympus. He was well equipped with special swords, shields, bows, and horses.

Hercules, of all of Zeus&rsquos illegitimate children seemed to be the focus of Hera&rsquos anger. She sent a two-headed serpent to attack him when he was just an infant. He simply strangled the snake with one head in each hand. When Hercules married Megara of Thebes, Hera drove Hercules to madness. This madness caused Hercules to kill his wife and all of his children. He did not stop this killing streak until Athena struck him with a rock, knocking him unconscious. When he awoke, he realized what he had one and consulted the Oracle of Delphi to see how he could purify himself. The oracle instructed him to complete ten labors that King Eurystheus set before him, and he could be purified and also attain immortality.

Labor #1 Kill the Nemean Lion

The lion had a skin which could not be penetrated by any sword or spear. Hercules had to kill the lion with his bare hands.

Labor #2 Kill the Hydra of Lerna

Hercules attacked the Hydra and began to chop off its many heads. Yet each time he chopped off a head, the Hydra would grow two more in its place. He called on his friend Iolaus to burn each wound which did not allow the heads to grow back. In this way he defeated the Hydra. Eurystheus refused to count this labor because Hercules had help in completing it.

Labor #3 Capture the Cerynitian Hind

The Cerynitian Hind was a deer with golden antlers. Hercules hunted it for a year and finally captured it with a net while it was sleeping. After completing this Labor, Hercules joined Jason and the Argonauts for a period of time.

Labor #4 Capture the Erymanthian Boar

Hercules captured the boar in a snowdrift and brought it back in chains.

Labor #5 Clean the Stables of Augeas

The Stables of Augeas held thousands of cattle and had not been cleaned in thirty years. Hercules had to clean all of them in a single day. To accomplish this, Hercules diverted two rivers into the stables to carry away all the dung. He also made a deal with King Augeas to receive one tenth of the cattle as payment for his work. After completing the work, the King refused to pay. In addition, Hercules did not receive credit for the labor because Eurystheus stated he did the labor for profit.

Labor #6 Drive out the Stymphalian Birds

The Stymphalian Birds were man-eating birds. Hercules used a bronze rattle to confuse and drive out the birds.

Labor #7 Fetch the Cretan Bull

The bull was a beautiful creature given to King Minos of Crete by Poseidon. Hercules had a long struggle wrestling the bull, but he captured it, brought it to Tiryns, and released it.

Labor #8 Capture the Mares of Diomedes

Four mares of Diomedes were man eating animals. Hercules drove them down to the sea. Diomedes then to attacked Hercules. Hercules clubbed Diomedes and fed him to his horses. He then harnessed the horses, took them back to Tiryns, and then set them free on Mount Olympus.

Labor #9 Bring back the Amazon Girdle

Hercules simply asked the queen of the Amazons for the girdle, and she gave it to him. Hera was so angry at the ease in which he got the item that she disguised herself and warned the other Amazon women that Hercules planned to abduct the queen. When Hercules saw the army coming after him, he figured the queen had betrayed him. He than killed her and escaped with the girdle.

Labor #10 Steal Cattle of Geryon

Hercules had to defeat a son of Ares and several other monsters. In doing so, he was able to complete this task.

Labor #11 Retrieve the Golden Apples of Hesperides

Hercules convinced the Titan Atlas to help him with this task. Hercules agreed to take the weight of the world while Atlas retrieved the apples from his daughters. When Atlas returned, he did not want the weight of the world again. Hercules agreed to keep the world but asked Atlas to take it for just a minute so he could get some cushions for his head. Once Atlas took the weight again, Hercules took the apples and walked away. On the way back from this journey, Hercules came across the Titan Prometheus, who was chained to a rock. He killed the bird which came every day to feed on his liver, and freed Prometheus.

Labor #12 Retrieve Cerberus from the Underworld

Hercules had to fight Hades to get into the underworld. Hercules was able to injure Hades, who left for Mont Olympus to be healed. He then wrestled the three- headed dog Cerberus with his bare hands and took it back to Eurystheus. After seeing the dog, Eurystheus had Hercules return the creature to the underworld. With this last act, Hercules completed his tasks, was purified, and made immortal.

Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, Antico, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar, Laurent Delvaux, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels


Hercules

The son of Zeus and strongest mortal ever born, Hercules is a celebrated hero whose exploits are already a legend told throughout Greece. Despite his fame, he remains boisterous and good-natured, as fond of a good jest as a good fight.

Hercules is an old friend of Jason's, and was proud to stand with him on his wedding day. After Jason's wife was murdered, Hercules was instrumental in preventing her Assassin from escaping. Of all the Argonauts, Hercules can best relate to Jason's quest—he knows the pain of losing a loved one, and accepts Jason's decision not to give up without question. Hercules will have Jason's back every step of the way.

In battle, Hercules' immense strength is the only weapon he needs. He can crush an armored man with his bare hands, or hold him fast while Jason cleaves him in two. With a single punch, he can send foes flying, then trample them under his feet.

Basis: Greek Mythology

The son of Zeus and Alcmene, Hercules was the last mortal son of Zeus, the strongest of all mortals, and stronger than many gods.

Hercules is best known in mythology for his strength, which enabled him to perform the twelve labors for King Eurystheus of Mycenae and was the deciding factor in turning the tide of the Olympian Gods battle with the giants.

As the greatest of the Greek heroes, he was welcomed into Olympus upon his death, becoming the gatekeeper of heaven, the god of strength and heroic endeavor, and the warder against evil.


Theseus was a friend of Hercules who had helped another friend of his, Pirithous, on the absurd attempt to abduct Persephone. While in the Underworld, the pair was chained. When Hercules was in the Underworld, he rescued Theseus.

Hercules went hunting with King Thespius for 50 days and each night he slept with one of the king's 50 daughters because the king wanted to have grandchildren that were fathered by the hero. Hercules didn't realize it was a different woman each night. He impregnated all or all but one of them and their offspring, sons, under ​the leadership of their uncle Iolaus, colonized Sardinia.


Argonaut

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Argonaut, in Greek legend, any of a band of 50 heroes who went with Jason in the ship Argo to fetch the Golden Fleece. Jason’s uncle Pelias had usurped the throne of Iolcos in Thessaly, which rightfully belonged to Jason’s father, Aeson. Pelias promised to surrender his kingship to Jason if the latter would retrieve the Golden Fleece from Colchis.

The Golden Fleece had originated in the following manner. Jason’s uncle Athamas had had two children, Phrixus and Helle, by his first wife, Nephele, the cloud goddess. Ino, his second wife, hated the children of Nephele and persuaded Athamas to sacrifice Phrixus as the only means of alleviating a famine. But before the sacrifice, Nephele appeared to Phrixus, bringing a ram with a golden fleece on which he and his sister Helle tried to escape over the sea. Helle fell off and was drowned in the strait that after her was called the Hellespont. Phrixus safely reached the other side, and, proceeding to Colchis on the farther shore of the Euxine (Black) Sea, he sacrificed the ram and hung up its fleece in the grove of Ares, where it was guarded by a sleepless dragon.

Jason, having undertaken the quest of the fleece, called upon the noblest heroes of Greece to take part in the expedition. According to the original story, the crew consisted of the chief members of Jason’s own race, the Minyans later, other and better-known heroes, such as Castor and Polydeuces, were added to their number.

The Argonauts arrived at Lemnos, which was occupied only by women, and remained there several months. Proceeding up the Hellespont, they sailed to the country of the Doliones, by whose king, Cyzicus, they were hospitably received. After their departure, however, they were driven back to the same place by a storm and were attacked by the Doliones, who did not recognize them, and in the ensuing battle Jason killed Cyzicus. On reaching the country of the Bebryces, the Argonauts were challenged by the king Amycus, who forced all passing travelers to box with him in the hope of killing them. Polydeuces accepted the challenge and slew him. At the entrance to the Euxine Sea the Argonauts met Phineus, the blind and aged king whose food was constantly polluted by the Harpies. After being freed by the winged sons of Boreas, Phineus told them the course to Colchis and how to pass through the Symplegades, or Cyanean rocks—two cliffs that moved on their bases and crushed whatever sought to pass. Following his advice, Jason sent ahead a dove that was damaged between the rocks, but thanks to Athena the Argo slipped through while the rocks were rebounding. From that time the rocks became fixed and never closed again.

When the Argonauts finally reached Colchis, they found that the king, Aeëtes, would not give up the fleece until Jason yoked the king’s fire-snorting bulls to a plow and plowed the field of Ares. That accomplished, the field was to be sown with dragon’s teeth from which armed men were to spring. Aeëtes’ daughter, the sorceress Medea, who had fallen in love with Jason, gave him a salve that protected him from the bulls’ fire and advised him to cast a stone at the newborn warriors to cause them to fight to the death among themselves. After these tasks were accomplished, Aeëtes still refused to give over the fleece. Medea, however, put the dragon to sleep, and Jason was able to abscond with the fleece and Medea. Various accounts are given of the homeward course eventually the Argo reached Iolcos and was placed in a grove sacred to Poseidon in the Isthmus of Corinth.

The story of the expedition of the Argonauts is mentioned by Homer (Odyssey, Book XII), and the wandering of Odysseus may have been partly founded on it. The lyric poet Pindar (5th century bce ) gives an account, but the fullest version is Argonautica, a 3rd-century- bce epic by Apollonius of Rhodes. In the 1st century ad the Latin poet Valerius Flaccus began an epic (incomplete) also called Argonautica. In ancient times the expedition was regarded as a historical fact, an incident in the opening up of the Black Sea to Greek commerce and colonization.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


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