The Greek legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece is believed by some scholars to be founded on fact. The story begins in Thessaly when King Aeson was deposed from the throne by his step-brother, Pelias. When his son Jason grew up he demanded his father’s kingdom back. Pelias promised to surrender the kingdom if Jason would bring back from Colchis the golden fleece of a ram which hung in an oak grove there, which was guarded night and day by a serpent.
Jason set sail in his ship Argo which means ‘the swift’, with fifty or more other heroes, among them Castor and Pollux, Hercules and Orpheus. After many adventures they reached Aea, the capital of Colchis. The king refused to let Jason have the golden fleece until he had carried out a number of seemingly impossible tasks. He yoked a pair of fire-breathing bulls with brass feet to a plough, sowed a field with the teeth of a dragon which then grew immediately into armed warriors. Then he fought and overcame the help of Medea, the king’s daughter, who had fallen in love with him. Medea gave him the means to resist fire and steel, and a drug which charmed the serpent guarding the golden fleece.
Jason and his companions escaped in the Argo taking the golden fleece and Medea with them. The Argonauts survived many dangers and disasters before they finally reached Thessaly in safety.