Golden Fleece

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Golden Fleece,

in Greek mythology, the magic fleece of the winged ram that saved Phrixus and Helle, the children of Nephele and Athamas, from the jealousy of Ino, Athamas' second wife. The ram flew to ColchisColchis
, ancient country on the eastern shore of the Black Sea and in the Caucasus region. Centered about the fertile valley of the Phasis River (the modern Rion), Colchis corresponds to the present-day region of Mingrelia in Georgia.
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, but Helle fell into the sea, which was thereafter known as the Hellespont. Phrixus arrived safely, sacrificed the ram, and hung its fleece in a wood guarded by a dragon. The ram became the constellation AriesAries
[Lat.,=the ram], constellation lying on the ecliptic (the sun's apparent path through the heavens) between Taurus and Pisces; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It contains the bright star Hamal (Alpha Arietis).
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. Phrixus married a daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis and begot Argus and three other sons. The quest of JasonJason,
in Greek mythology, son of Aeson. When Pelias usurped the throne of Iolcus and killed (or imprisoned) Aeson and most of his descendants, Jason was smuggled off to the centaur Chiron, who reared him secretly on Mt. Pelion.
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 and the Argonauts was for this fleece. The legend of the Golden Fleece may have some basis in reality. Ancient Colchis is the modern Georgian region of Mingrelia, and in neighboring Svanetia, inland in the Caucasus, miners have for centuries used sheepskins to collect gold grains and flakes from mountain streams.

Golden Fleece

 

in ancient Greek mythology, the golden skin of the ram on whose back the children of the Orchomenian king Athamas, Phrixus and Helle, set out for the shores of Asia in order to escape from their stepmother’s persecutions. On the way Helle fell into the sea which since that time, supposedly, has been called the Hellespont, or “Helle’s sea” (the modern Dardanelles). Having reached land safely, Phrixus came to the country of Aea, which the ancient Greeks knew as Colchis (present-day western Georgia). Here, he sacrificed the ram to Zeus, but he removed the fleece and presented it to the king of Colchis, Aeetes. Later, the golden fleece, which was guarded by a dragon, was stolen and carried off to Greece by the Argonauts, led by Jason. The myth of the golden fleece reflects the history of the early links between ancient Greece and the Caucasus. According to legend gold was extracted in the Caucasus by dipping a ram’s skin in the waters of a gold-bearing river. The fleece, on which particles of gold had settled, then became very valuable.

Golden Fleece

pelt of winged ram sought by Jason and Argonauts. [Rom. Legend: Zimmerman, 113]
See: Quest

Golden Fleece

fleece of pure gold from a winged ram, stolen from Colchis by Jason and the Argonauts. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 406]