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Definition: Argonauts from Philip's Encyclopedia

In Greek legend, 50 heroes, including Heracles, Orpheus, and Castor and Pollux, who sailed the ship Argo to Colchis, a kingdom to the E of the Black Sea, in search of the Golden Fleece. Their leader was Jason, husband of Medea.


Summary Article: Argonauts from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Greek mythology, the band of heroes who accompanied Jason when he set sail in the Argo to find the Golden Fleece.

The Argo, a 50-oared ship, was named after its builder Argus, son of Phrixus. Landing first at Lemnos, an island inhabited only by women, the Argonauts remained there for one year. They next visited Samothrace and Bebrycia, whence they were driven by a storm to Salmydessa, and delivered the land from the Harpies.

After many adventures they came to Aea, the capital of Colchis. The king, Aeetes, promised to give up the Golden Fleece if Jason would yoke two fire-breathing bulls with brazen feet to a plough and sow the teeth of the dragon. This Jason accomplished with the help of Medea, the king's daughter, who provided him with the means of resisting fire and steel. However, Aeetes still refused to give over the fleece. Following the advice of Medea, who used a drug to lull the dragon to sleep, Jason took the fleece that night and fled, accompanied by her. Having secured the treasure the Argonauts started on their journey home, and reached Thessaly after many adventures.

The belief of some scholars that the legend is founded upon fact was strengthened by excavations at Iolcus 1956.

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