Jason and the Argonauts is a story from Greek mythology about a heroic quest to find a supposed magical sheepskin rug . It's tale of fighting monsters, strange prophecies and dominating women. It also involves a lot of rowing and men stripped down to their loin cloths. Heroic deeds need heroic men and in those pre-Sony PlayStation days, Jason's adventures were the entertainment highlight for those whose cultural tastes stretched further than just drinking and whoring. The undoubted star of the legend is Jason but in truth only half his story is ever remembered. Once [his quest had been achieved, Jason's post-Argonaut career was something of an anti-climax. Attempts to milk his exploits with Homer in epic poem deal fell through in an argument over money. Jason was run out of his home town when the locals took exception to his foreign-born wife and eventually ended up in Athens as a psychopathic ice hockey goalie. It was all a] bit of a heroic career come down.
edit It started With a sheep
The story goes that long ago, two orphaned Greek kids called Helle and Phrixus were accused of selling bad yogurt and rancid goat's cheese in a street market in Thessaly. Condemned to death by their neighbours, Zeus took pity on the urchins and sent in a flying sheep called Dolly to them away from danger.However, as Dolly flew over the Aegean, Helle slipped off and dropped into the sea. Phrixus urged Dolly to go back but the stubborn animal said that wasn't in her remit and that she was on a tight flying schedule. When they finally found dry land, Phrixus blamed the Dolly for abandoning his sister to drown and promptly slaughtered the luckless animal. He then offered Dolly up as mutton kebabs to the local ruler King Ouzo as a bribe to stay.
When the smell of roasted Dolly reached Mount Olympus, an angry Zeus threw a thunderbolt at Phrixus, frying the ungrateful yob on the spot. The god spared Ouzo and then as an apology, sprinkled god dust on Dolly's discarded skin and renamed it 'The Golden Fleece'. It was supposed to have magical powers about healing, curing spots etc but also had the power to encourage people to gamble. Taking advantage if the fame the fleece already had, King Ouzo built a full gaming and leisure business complex around the sheepskin to lure gamblers and tourists. Zeus considered this to be in bad taste and invited a dragon to move in and look after The Golden Fleece. Ouzo repented of his earlier exploitation of Zeus's gift and over time the exact location of Dolly's skin was lost but the memory of its powers remained.
edit My name is Jason and I am a hero not a hairdresser
Moving the legend along a few generations, we come to Jason of Thessaly. Like all Greek heroes he came from a typical messy/murderous family background. Jason didn't sleep with his mother or kill his father in a road rage incident like his good chum Oedipus or spend days at sea in a cast off wardrobe as what happened to Perseus. No, Jason's problem was that his Uncle Pelias had developed an extreme medical condition where he couldn't stand being in the same room as any members of his family. So Pelias had killed them all except his own children but had over looked Jason in the general carnage.
Smuggled out of Thessaly by his mother, Jason was brought up by a centaur called Chiron. It meant sharing Chiron's well-furnished stable and mucking out the old boy out every Saturday but it was a safe place to live and far away from Pelias. When Jason couldn't stand anymore horseman manure, he returned to Thessaly to see if Pelias had calmed down from his earlier killing rampage. He was also under the protection of the goddess Hera who had taken a liking to young Jason. Jason wasn't not one of her husband's semi-divine bastards he would often leave behind like a calling card. Hera would be Jason's sponsor for future adventures.
The arrival of Jason at Pelias's court was just part of a list of strange prophesies that had been bothering the old tyrant. His oracle-readers had recently warned him to look out for a man walking around town with one sandal. So when Jason turned up in that condition, he explained he had lost his shoe whilst carrying an old crone across a river. Jason didn't know that was Hera in disguise but she would later joke that it was her 'first hump by a mortal man' and had enjoyed it.
Jason know new that like MC Hammer, he couldn't be personally touched but Pelias had come up with another way to deal his rival. So Pelias offered Jason a challenge that if he could find and bring back the Golden Fleece, he would accept Jason as one of the family. Jason agreed and sent out flyers offering anyone who joined the adventure the chance to 'Urn Millions and Become a Greek Myth'.
edit Everyone gets their oar in
News that Jason was recruiting for his voyage soon got plenty of volunteers clamouring to join the ship. Trying to limit the crew to 50, amongst those signing with their mark to go Fleece Hunting were Hercules, Aesop, Sysop, Socrates and two sets of twins: The Bollox Brothers Castor and Oyl and their rivals Linux and Psion. Others included Aromatik Armpitikor, Hylas the Nymph-Hunter, Telamon from Telemarketing, Orpheus the Lyre player and Bellerophon the bellicose who was forced to leave his wing flapping horse Pegasus behind for storage reasons. There was even a couple on board, Meleager the hunter and his well built girlfriend Atalanta who would only ever run for apples and iPads. Atalanta's status as the only woman on board made her a deseired target for some the younger male crew but it was said her 'thunderous thighs' could crush a man's head like a melon if they got too close without permission.
The ship sailed under the name of 'Argo', Jason's idea though he would later say he had got the name from mishearing the word 'cargo'. It was only when they were out at sea that Jason realised that his crew may have looked the part manning the oars and singing lusty naval ballads but none of them had any clue about sailing or navigating the tub. Nor could they map read or tell the difference between a star in the sky or a lamp hanging from a tree. So it's not surprising the Argo bumped and crashed it's way about the Mediterranean Sea for momths on end.
Along the way, the Argonauts found many temptations to persuade them to abandon ship. On the island of Lemnos where the women had killed all their menfolk in an argument about personal hygiene, Jason's men took advantage at the lack of sexual competition and it took a month to get them back onboard. On an another island the Argonauts were chased away by a cranky Talos, a man made of recycled baked bean tins but the saddest loss was of Hylas. He was last seen heading to a lake with a large fishing net. When Hylas didn't come back, Hercules took the blame for not looking after his young friend and checked himself out this myth to carry on with his own franchise of adventures.
It took another island hop to finally get the right map coordinates from Phineas, a red-headed blind celt who had missed the ferry back to his homeland some years back. He agreed to show the Jason the way but only first if he got rid of the harpies, women who shrieked louder than Maria Sharapova on a tennis court and hadn't given him a wink of sleep for years.
More by luck than design, the Argo finally slipped into the Black Sea and heard they were getting very hot as to the location of the Golden Fleece. Jason was also told that many men had tried before him to get the fleece but none had come back from Colchis. This seemed to him the most likely place to find it but told the other Argonauts that they were not tell anyone why they were there. A cover story about getting lost or setting off early to join the Siege of Troy would have to do for now.
The Argonauts were initially welcomed by the locals but had arrived without any gifts to 'grease' any outstretched palms'. So Jason organised an impromptu Olympic games on the beach. But the sight of naked men running after each other, grabbing each other's balls in wrestling bouts and dancing in a line like a bunch of drunks on a night out didn't impress the people of Colchis. They planned to set fire to the Argo and its crew of cheap Greeks when a proclamation from the King of Colchis invited the Argonauts to a special holiday introduction party at the royal palace.
King Areola the Reasonably Aroused, Lord of Colchis and Owner of the One Fleece (Low flying mileage, cheap insurance, discount for minors who don't fall off) was a descendant of King Ouzo. When he heard the Argonauts leader Jason was from Thessaly, he invited him to sit at the main table with his family and next to his eldest daughter Medea. She had watched Jason on the beach and had been impressed with his physique and command of his men. Unlike her compatriots, the naked ass sporting action of the Greeks had tickled a lot more than just Medea's fancy and she expressed a strong interest in Jason. She even gave him some of her old fake eye lashes to emphasise her lustful intentions.
Areola at first played the pleasant host. He brought on the dancing girls, the dancing bears and a stand up comedian from Babylon with his Gilgamesh jokes. Areola also asked a lot of questions, wondering why a bunch of sweaty Greeks were so far from home. Jason came up with a story about his travel plans getting messed up and that the Greek Shipping Controllers had blocked his return to Thessaly with a ten year strike. Areola wasn't convinced and made various sheep jokes throughout dinner to see if the Argonauts would divulge their secret mission. When that failed, he asked his faithful servant Rohypnol to mix in some of his 'let it all hang out herbs' to undo the tongues of the Greeks. But Medea intervened and instead her father and his courtiers got the dodgy wine and fell into unslappable slumber. Then Medea turned to Jason and told him what she had done.
Jason, I know why you are here. It's about that bloody sheep isn't it? If I show you where it's kept, can you take me away from this dump and return with you and the Golden Fleece to Greece?? I am also a bit of bitch in bed, come on Jason..surely you haven't met anyone like me before??
The Argonauts thought that was 'the best plan we've ever heard' and followed Medea out of the palace and down to the cave where the Golden Fleece was hanging. As they got closer and noticed piles of half chewed bones and rusting armour, Medea added..oh sorry Argonauts, I forgot to tell you about Dennis the dragon.
edit Battle of the sheepskin
To Medea's surprise, the heroes cheered up at the task and Jason added:well it would be a piss-poor myth if we just unhooked it off a tree branch and returned home without a fight. So the Argonauts kicked and prodded the Dennis into action but he was an old lizard and practically rolled on his back to be finished off. Jason then took the Golden Fleece and said to everyone 'time to quit'.
The noise of this battle finally roused Medea's father who came down to the Golden Fleece grove just in time to see Dennis get a fatal thrust right down his fiery cakehole. Enraged at seeing a dragon he had raised from hatching, Areola pulled out Dennis's dentures and sowed them into the ground to take revenge on Jason and his sheep skin stealers. There was another mighty battle but the bones lost out this time, having empty sockets for eyes didn't improve their aim and they were soon dead (or dead again). Areola didn't tarry much longer with living either as he got a javelin in the guts. Jason did apologise to Medea but she said that was fine as she hadn't planned to invite her dad to their wedding anyway.
This news of Medea's marital plans was not welcome to Jason. He hadn't bargained on marrying any woman quite yet, certainly not a strange foreigner with some foreceful ways of getting her own way. When Jason offered to leave her there for the moment but would come back to collect her 'in a few months'..Medea insisted to be taken along. She also pointed out that unless the Argonauts were planning to spend the next year heading in all the wrong directions, that it would be better if she was in charge of navigation. Medea didn't need a map, she wasn't afraid to ask people along the way the quickest route back to Greece.
edit Back to Greece and meeting the Sirens
The Argonauts high sailed it out of Colchis harbour and tried to get ahead of the angry locals. Before leaving the city, Medea had kidnapped one of her brothers as a hostage. When the Colchis fleet refused to stop chasing them, Medea had her brother casseroled and thrown over the side. This so scared the pursuers that they gave up the chase and returned home. Medea now had the Golden Fleece laid out in her cabin and demanded Jason lay with her to produce the next generation of heroes. But Jason declined, claiming that making love on a ship made him violently sea-sick. Nor were his fellow Argonauts impressed with Medea either, she was to them a bronze plated bitch.
The Argo was soon close to home but had to make it past the notorious island where the Sirens lived. These strange women with long fish tails and pert breasts were noted for their songs. Passing passing sailors would fling themselves off ships and attempt to swim away further from the noise but few vessels had ever sailed away without losing many crew members who would fall into a stupor and then crash their ships on the jagged rocks all around. Jason's solution was to hook up Orpheus's lyre to the Argo's sound system which literally blew the sirens off the island before they could open their mouths.
edit I got it..now what?
King Pelias saw the Argo drop anchor and the crew dancing around with the famous Golden Fleece. So Jason had found it and would be expecting a reward. Pelias was taken by his first sight of Medea in her strange un-Greek dress and hair styling. But Pelias had been feeling very old and feeble of late and was now afraid that Jason would organise a palace revolution and stick his head on a pole. Medea said she had just the thing for rejuvenating old flesh and told Pelias's daughters that back where she came from, the children would cut and boil they parents bodies to make them younger. She said it 'was easy-peasy' and gave the women her recipe.
Pelias was unaware of what was going on until he was surprised in his bath and had his throat cut by his dimwit daughters. When they fetched Medea to ask what would happen next, the exotic foreigner said er...I have forgotten the rest of it... When it was learnt that Pelias was dead and it had been Medea's fault, the people of Thessaly refused to have Jason as their next king and told him to leave. The Argonauts were told to piss off too and be heroic elsewhere. As for the Golden Fleece, it was said to have been buried, or burnt..or turned into a hearth rug.. or tossed into the sea where all the fake gold was said to have been seen to float off.
edit Jason dumps Medea and loses all his friends
Fleeceless and friendless, Jason and Medea arrived in Corinth. Medea soon got a job at the local temple but Jason had no solid plans. He did some work in the theatre, sang a few songs and dyed his hair blond. He also fell for a skinny singer called Kylie of Kookaburra and promised her he would go on a new adventure. He wasn't sure but asked what she thought of 'Jason and the Astronauts' or 'Jason and the Juggernauts'. Medea soon found out that Jason was being unfaithful and so she cursed Kylie's career and made his hair fall out. Jason told Medea it was all over and she left him. But when Jason then tried to look for his new love, Kylie had gone far away, to a land Down Under with the King of Inxs.
edit Avoid rotten boats
Jason returned to Thessaly, hoping that as he was now a bachelor again and no longer associated with Medea that the people would welcome him. But no one wanted to have much to do with the fallen boy wonder and he was reduced living on his old ship, the Argo. Jason did turn it into to a floating nightclub but the vessel stank of old sailor sweat and other unpleasant smells so no one came. When Jason tried to get the party by stamping on the dance floor, the rotten timbers gave way and dumped him into the sea where he drowned.
- ↑ They discovered she was a murdereress. Read on.
edit Why are they called The Argonauts
Although the etymology of the term is not entirely certain, general consensus among experts suggest it comes from an old pirate dialect. Hence the prefix "Arghhh!". As for the rest, it's probably the fault of the Scots.