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To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia:
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.

Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Jason and Medea taking the Golden Fleece

In Greek mythology, the ram with the Golden Fleece (Okros Satsmisi in Georgian) was given to Nephele of Thessaly by Hermes for her to transport her children, Helle and Phrixus, away from Ino. The ram flew eastwards and while Helle fell into the sea (at the point named Hellespont) Phrixus was carried to Colchis (Georgian name of the Kingdom of Colchis is Kolkheti, territory of modern West Georgia). Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and presented its fleece to the King of Colchis, Aeetes (Ayeti in Georgian).

The legend of the Argonauts relates that once upon a time in Aea-Colchis there ruled the mighty King Aeetes, son of Helios and father of Medea. Alongside with other numerous riches he possessed the Golden Fleece - the skin of a sheep with golden fleece. Jason and the Argonauts tried to take the fleece from Colchis to enable Jason to claim his inheritance. Overcoming many hazards, they eventually recovered the fleece with the help of Medea, who married Jason.

There are claims the golden fleece of Argonaut fame was woven from a type of thread produced by mussels called byssus, which are used to attach mussels to surfaces.

Jason with the Golden Fleece, Bertel Thorvaldsen

Ancient authors (Apollodorus, Dionysius of Miletus, Strabo, Appian and others) give a different interpretation of the Golden Fleece. Evidently, by this notion we should mean a whole complex of cultural achievements of ancient tribes and mainly sheep-breeding which was widespread among the ancient west-Georgian tribe of Tibareni (Tibarens) and highly developed Metallurgy among the other ancient west-Georgian (Colchian) tribe of Halybes (or Khalib/Khaldi). Ancient Greeks considered Halybes to be "the inventors of iron". Materials of material culture discovered in Georgia dating back to the 3rd-2nd millennia BC speak of the high level of development of metal processing, gold in particular, thus corroborating the reality of the historic basis of the myth of the Golden Fleece.

Bulfinch's Mythology, The Age of Fable: The Golden Fleece

Jason with the Golden Fleece, Erasmus Quellinus II

The Golden Fleece, Herbert James Draper

Literature

Akaki Urushadze. "The Country of the Enchantress Medea", Tbilisi, 1984, 25 pp (in Russian and English)


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