Jason and the Golden Fleece

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 282

Jason and the Golden Fleece is one of the oldest Greek myths. It is the classic story of a hero's quest, betrayal, and vengeance with a tragic ending. It is set during the era before the Trojan War. Jason, the main character of this epic, enlists the help of the Argonauts and is commissioned by king Palias to sail to the Land of Colchis to steal the golden fleece. A notable element of the epic is that the characters are written from a well-established mythology. Unlike modern novels where characters are written with no existence prior to or after the novel, the characters in this ancient story had a well established base for readers at the time. Not to mention that some of the crew Jason enlists are the fathers to some of the heroes in The Iliad. The epic, hence, has been compared to Homer's writing consistently. The use of irony and humor of the epic by Apollonius Rhodius is everything counter to Homer's writings. The novel contains all the elements of a great adventure; heroes, monsters, kings, battles, treasure, etc. However, the depiction of Jason is not that of typical classical mythological hero but one fraught with anxiety, uncertainty, and a second-rate leader status adding a more realistic and humorous portrayal of human nature. Another point of comparison between the depiction of characters could be found in the way Apollonius writes the women. It can be noted that most of the women are not written for qualities such as strength but rather flimsy, uncertainty or emotional vulnerability, similar to the character development of the men. In all, this epic was written in stark contrast to the glory sought by Homer.

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