Study Guide

Jason and the Golden Fleece

Jason and the Golden Fleece Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

In ancient Greece there lives a prince named Jason, son of a king who had been driven from his throne by a wicked brother named Pelias. To protect the boy from his cruel uncle, Jason’s father takes him to a remote mountaintop, where he is raised by Chiron the Centaur, who is half man and half horse. When Jason grows to young adulthood, Chiron the Centaur tells him that Pelias seized his father’s crown. Jason is destined to win back his father’s kingdom.

Pelias is warned by an oracle to beware of a stranger who will visit with one foot sandaled and the other bare. Jason loses one sandal in a river he crosses on his way to Iolcus, where Pelias rules. When Pelias sees the young man, he pretends to welcome him but secretly plots to kill him. At a great feast, he tells Jason the story of the golden fleece.

In days past, a Greek king called Athamus had banished his wife and taken another, a beautiful but wicked woman who had persuaded Athamus to kill his own children. A golden ram swooped down from the skies, however, and carried the children away. The girl slipped from his back and fell into the sea, but the boy came safely to the country of Colchis, on the shores of the Black Sea. Here, the boy had allowed the king of Colchis to slaughter the ram for its golden fleece. The gods were angered by these happenings and placed a curse on Athamus and all of his family until the golden fleece was returned from Colchis.

As Pelias tells Jason the story, he sees that the young prince is stirred, and is not surprised when Jason vows that he will bring back the golden fleece to Iolcus. Pelias promises to give Jason his rightful throne when he returns from his quest; Jason trusts Pelias and agrees to the terms. He next gathers about him many of the great heroes of Greece: Hercules, the strongest and bravest of all; Orpheus, whose music soothes savage beasts; Argus, who with the help of Juno built the wondrous ship Argo;...

(The entire section is 800 words.)