Athamas was a child of Aeolus, god of the winds. Athamas was married to the nymph Nephele, and had two children by her: Helle, a girl, and Phrixus, a boy. However, when he saw the mortal Ino, he was smitten by her, and left Nephele. With Ino, he had two more children, Learches and Melicertes.

Ino, however, was always jealous of the two children Athamas had had by Nephele, and conspired to have them eliminated. She roasted all of the seed corn in the kingdom so that it would not sprout, and, when famine struck, she bribed the messengers who went to the oracle to say that the gods demanded that the two children, Helle and Phrixus, be sacrificed. The people prepared to kill Helle and Phrixus.

But Nephele tried to save her children. As they were about to be killed, she sent a flying golden ram into the crowd. The ram knocked the priests away, put Helle and Phrixus on its back, and flew away.

But they were not yet safe. As they were flying over a narrow body of water, Helle fell from the ram into the water and drowned. Now called the Dardanelles, for centuries this strait was called the Hellespont, for Helle who fell there.

Phrixus, however, was still safe on the back of the ram. The ram took him to Colchis, to the court of King AEtes. AEtes did not like visitors… but when he saw the fine, golden ram that Phrixus had ridden on, he allowed Phrixus to stay. AEtes sacrificed the ram, and saved its fleece, which he nailed to a tree. He set a dragon to guard the fleece, so that it might never be taken from him.

Now, Jason was born prince of Thessaly, but the kingdom was stolen by his uncle, Pelias. In order to prove that he was capable of ruling the kingdom (and thus, to win back the throne), Jason was to get the golden fleece from AEtes, a king of another land, who had it nailed to a tree, and protected by a dragon.

Jason had built, a ship, the Argo, on which he and his crew sailed. Jason came to the kingdom of Salmydessos, ruled by Phineas. Now, Phineas had a problem with the Harpies. These creatures were half-bird, half women. They had razor-sharp claws and beaks, strident calls, and the worst table manners - they would steal the food that was set out for Phineas and his family, and defecate over the rest of it, and, as a result, the king was starving to death. But two of Jason's crew were children of the North Wind, who had given them the ability to fly. They took swords and armor, and chased the Harpies so far away that they never came back.

In gratitude, Phineas told Jason the secret of the Symplegades, the crashing rocks. These rocks hid in the Euxine sea, and would wait for something to come between them… then they would crash together, destroying whatever was in their way. Jason, on the advice of Phineas, sent a dove to fly between the rocks, which crashed together in an attempt to crush the dove; however, oit escaped, losing only a single tailfeather. Then, when the rocks were sliding apart, the ship had just enough time to slip between the rocks before they crashed together again… but for the rest of its voyage, it had a scrape on the stern when the rocks had almost crushed it.

Jason finally found the kingdom of Colchis, and went to AEtes, the king, to ask for the golden fleece. AEtes hated Jason on sight, for considered the fleece his rightful property. In order to make Jason go away, he told Jason to do a simple task: plow a small field with two oxen, and sow it with the seeds in a bag AEtes would give to Jason.

But these were no ordinary oxen. They breathed fire… and the seeds Jason had to sow were dragon's teeth, which would immediately grow up into an army that would destroy him! Jason had a stroke of luck, however, and that was that AEtes's daughter, Medea, fell in love with him on sight. Out of the hearing of her father, they promised to marry each other, and Medea gave Jason a magic salve that would save him from the oxen. But what to do about the army?

The next day, Jason covered himself with the salve, and plowed the field. He sowed the dragon's teeth, and, when the army sprang up, he fought them as best he could, until he was almost exhausted. Then he had an idea. Unseen, he threw a rock at one of the soldiers fighting against him. The soldier thought one of the other soldiers had thrown it, and began to fight him instead of Jason. Soon, all the soldiers were fighting among themselves… and Jason easily took on the few who did not kill each other!

That night, Jason and Medea went to the tree where the dragon guarded the fleece. Jason wanted to kill the dragon with his sword, but Medea told him how he would never survive if he tried. Instead, she used a sleeping potion on the dragon, and, while it was asleep, they stole the fleece and went back to Jason's kingdom in Thessaly. There, he left Medea for another woman… but that's another story.

Athamas: uh- THAMM- as
Aeolus: ay- OH- lus
Nephele: NEFF- eh lee
Helle: HELL- ee
Phrixus: FRIX- uss
Ino: Either EE- no or EYE- no
Learches: lee- ARK- eez
Melicertes: Mel- i- SERT- eez
Colchis: KOL- keess
Thessaly: THESS- uh- lee
Pelias: PEE- lee- as
AEtes: ay- EE- tease
Salmydessos: Sal- me- DESS- os
Phineas: FINN- ee- as
Symplegades: sim- PLEG- uh- deez
Euxine: YEWK-seen
Medea: me- DEE- uh



Our Mission GreekMythology The Viking Realm Ancient Egypt Dates & TimesEvents & AttractionsDirections
Group Information
Contact Us ConcessionsThe Myth ShoppeSitemap Photo Gallery Video ClipsInvestors
Become a SponsorVolunteersDonationsInvestorsSign Me UpHome
Purchase Tickets Greek History and Legends