Jason and the Golden Fleece Analysis

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Iolcus (i-ohl-kuhz). Greek city at the foot of Mount Pelion in Thessaly where Jason is a prince. From Iolcus, Jason and the crew of his ship, the Argo, set forth in their quest for the Golden Fleece. While Jason’s uncle Pelias keeps Jason’s father, Æson, the rightful king, imprisoned in the royal palace at Iolcus and rules illegally, Jason is secretly brought up on Mount Pelion, home to the centaur Chiron. When Jason returns to Iolcus as a man, Pelias sends him on his quest to find the fleece. Iolcus is a location of divine-human conflict: Hera hates Pelias and uses Jason to bring back Medea to destroy him. Iolcus was on the trade route to the Black Sea, and its commercial activity is an important underlying element of the myth.


*Lemnos. Greek island in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea where Jason and his crew make their first stop after setting out from Iolcus. Inhabited only by women, Lemnos is the first of many locations where the Argonauts encounter representations of otherness—non-Greek, non-male, or non-human forms. Lemnos is a site of danger for the Argonauts, who risk being entrapped by sexual desire and diverted from their quest. This danger is reflected in the landscape, as the boy Hylas is pulled into a cooling spring by water nymphs and drowned.

Clashing Rocks

Clashing Rocks. Known as the Symplegades in Greek, these massive rocks are shrouded in an impenetrable mist and by smashing together destroy anything that attempts to pass between them. They bar access to the Black Sea from the Aegean and are a mythical outgrowth of the narrow straits of the Bosporos, or perhaps the Hellespont. The rocks are a symbolic barrier between the world of the living and the realm of the dead, for the voyage of the Argo to Colchis is, on one level, the...

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(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bacon, Janet Ruth. The Voyage of the Argonauts. Boston: Small, Maynard, 1925. Excellent study of the story of Jason and the golden fleece. Follows the Argonauts through their extended history with literary evidence and illustrations. Excellent interpretations of the myth, including maps of voyage and art illustrations.

Deforest, Mary Margolies. Apollonius’ “Argonautica.” Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1994. Extensive bibliography and detailed index. Examines the significance of the Golden Fleece in the myth of Jason as well as relationships between the characters. Symbolic comparison of Medea to the golden fleece.

Graves, Robert. Greek Myths. Rev. ed. 2 vols. London: Penguin Books, 1973. Cites the sources and various interpretations of the themes involved in the myth. Excellent companion to the historical study of the myth through literature. Details most of the major Greek myths and identifies the history and relationships of the gods and heros.

Pinsent, John. Greek Mythology. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 198. Includes a number of Greek art illustrations and interprets the meaning of the myth through the symbols found in literature and art.

Severin, Tim. The Jason Voyage. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985. Follows the voyage of the Argonauts with a twentieth century crew. Captures the atmosphere and time of Jason’s voyage. Provides excellent archeological details, evidence, and explanation of the origins of the myth. Final chapter examines the reasons behind the timelessness of the legend of the golden fleece.