- Art Gallery -

Jack Gwillim as King Aeëtes

in Jason and the Argonauts, 1963

In Greek mythology, Aeëtes (Georgian: აიეტი, Greek Αιήτης / Αἰήτης), a King of Colchis, figured prominently in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. He was the father of Medea and Absyrtus, and son of the sun-god Helios and the nymph Perse (also called Perseis

Phrixus, son of Athamas and Nephele, along with his twin Helle, were hated by their stepmother, Ino. Ino hatched a devious plot to get rid of the twins, roasting all the towns crop seeds so they would not grow. The local farmers, frightened of famine, asked a nearby oracle for assistance. Ino bribed the men sent to the oracle to lie and tell the others that the oracle required the sacrifice of Phrixus. Before he was killed though, Phrixus and Helle were rescued by a golden ram sent by Nephele, their natural mother. Helle fell off the ram and died, but Phrixus survived all the way to Colchis, where Aeetes took him in and treated him kindly, giving Phrixus his daughter, Chalciope, in marriage. In gratitude, Phrixus gave the king the golden fleece of the ram, which Aeetes hung in a tree in his kingdom.

Some time later, Jason arrived to claim the fleece as his own. Aeëtes promised to give it to him only if he could perform certain tasks. First, Jason had to plow a field with fire-breathing oxen that he had to yoke himself. Then, Jason sowed the teeth of a dragon into a field. The teeth sprouted into an army of warriors. Jason was quick-thinking, however, and before they attacked him, he threw a rock into the crowd. Unable to decipher where the rock had come from, the soldiers attacked each other and defeated themselves. Finally, Aeëtes made Jason fight and kill the sleepless dragon that guarded the fleece. Jason then took the fleece and sailed away with Medea, who had fallen in love with him and helped him win the fleece. Medea distracted her father as they fled by killing her brother Absyrtus. Aeëtes stopped to gather the pieces of his son.

Some time later, Jason arrived to claim the fleece as his own. Aeëtes promised to give it to him only if he could perform certain tasks. First, Jason had to plow a field with fire-breathing oxen that he had to yoke himself. Then, Jason sowed the teeth of a dragon into a field. The teeth sprouted into an army of warriors. Jason was quick-thinking, however, and before they attacked him, he threw a rock into the crowd. Unable to decipher where the rock had come from, the soldiers attacked each other and defeated themselves. Finally, Aeëtes made Jason fight and kill the sleepless dragon that guarded the fleece. Jason then took the fleece and sailed away with Medea, who had fallen in love with him and helped him win the fleece. Aeëtes pursued them in his own ship as they fled, but Medea distracted her father by killing and dismembering her brother, Absyrtus, and throwing pieces of his cadaver overboard. Aeëtes paused to gather the pieces of his son, and thus Medea and Jason escaped.

See also

Golden Fleece

Aeetes was a son of Helios with Perse and brother of Aegea, Calypso, Circe and Pasiphae


Greek Mythology

See also : Greek Mythology. Paintings, Drawings

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