The myth of the Golden Fleece is one of the most famous legends of Greek mythology, which narrates the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts. They went in search of a precious magical object: the fleece of the winged ram Chrysomallus.
The origin of the myth of the Golden Fleece
The golden fleece was the golden cloak of Chrysomallus, a winged ram capable of flying that the god Hermes gave to Nefele, ex-wife of the king of Thessaly. Nephele had two sons, Helle and Phrixus, who were hated by Athamas' second wife, Ino.
She tried to kill them to favor her son, but Nephele saved them by sending them on the back of Chrysomallus towards Colchis, a region on the Black Sea. During the journey, Helle fell into the sea and drowned, giving her name to the canal that separates Europe from Asia: the Hellespont.
Phrixus instead arrived safely in Colchis, where he was hosted by King Aeetes. As a sign of gratitude, Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the fleece to Aeetes, who hung it on a tree in a sacred grove and had a dragon guard it.
Jason and the Argonauts
The Golden Fleece thus became the object of the mission of Jason, nephew of Athamas and legitimate heir to the throne of Iolcus.
Jason had been overthrown by his uncle Pelias, who imposed on him as a condition for returning the kingdom to bring him the golden fleece from Colchis.
Jason accepted the challenge and gathered a team of heroes, called Argonauts from the name of the ship Argo, built with the help of the goddess Athena. Among the Argonauts there were famous people such as Heracles, Orpheus, Castor and Pollux, Peleus (father of Achilles) and Atalanta (the only woman in the group).
The Argonauts faced numerous dangers and adventures along their journey to Colchis.
Here Jason fell in love with Medea, the sorceress daughter of Aeetes, who helped him obtain the golden fleece. Medea gave him a potion to put the dragon to sleep and led him into the woods where the fleece was hanging.
Jason thus managed to take possession of the desired object and fled with Medea and the Argonauts.
Aeetes pursued them with his army, but Medea used a cruel trick to slow him down: she killed her brother Apsyrtus and threw the pieces into the sea, forcing Aeetes to stop to pick them up.
The return of the Argonauts was no less adventurous than their departure. But eventually Jason and Medea finally arrived at Iolcus, where Jason reclaimed his throne.
But Pelias refused to give it up to him and Medea devised revenge: she convinced Pelias' daughters to cut their father into pieces and throw them into a pot, promising to make him rejuvenate with her magic.
Instead Pelias died and Jason and Medea had to flee from Iolcus. They took refuge in Corinth, where they lived for ten years and had two children.
But Jason grew tired of Medea and betrayed her with Glauce, the daughter of King Creon.
Medea, furious, killed Glauce with a poisoned dress and then her own children with Jason, and then fled on a winged chariot given to her by her grandfather Helios, the god of the sun.
The meaning of the myth of the Golden Fleece
The myth of the Golden Fleece is a story rich in symbols and meanings. The Golden Fleece represents power, wealth and wisdom, but also danger and temptation. Jason is the hero who tries to regain his right and fulfill his destiny, but who must face difficult trials and insurmountable obstacles.
Medea is the woman in love who helps him with her magic, but who also becomes his enemy when she is betrayed.
The Argonauts are his traveling companions who support him with their skills and courage, but who also have to pay a price for their undertaking.
The myth of the Golden Fleece is also a story that tells the origins of Greek civilization and its relationships with other peoples. The journey of the Argonauts is a sort of exploration of the ancient world, which leads them to discover different cultures and come face to face with fantastic beings. The myth also reflects the religious beliefs of the Greeks, who saw gods and goddesses as the forces that governed the cosmos and human life.
Finally, the myth of the Golden Fleece is a story that has inspired generations of artists and writers, who have given it different interpretations and versions.
Among the most famous works dedicated to the myth are:
- the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodes, the epic poem that narrates the adventures of the Argonauts;
- Medea by Euripides, the tragedy that stages the drama of Medea;
- Ovid's Metamorphoses, the poem that tells of the transformations of heroes;
- The Golden Fleece by Robert Graves, the historical novel that takes up the myth in a modern key;
- Jason and the Argonauts, the 1963 film that reproduces the myth with special effects
Current affairs of the myth of the Golden Fleece in the Lanaioli high quality knitwear project
The myth of the Golden Fleece and of Jason and his Argonauts has inspired many works of art and literature over the centuries.
Wool is a natural fiber that is produced by many animals, including sheep, goats and camels. High-quality wool is soft, durable and warm, and is used to make clothing such as sweaters, scarves and hats.
In our Woolsmiths' opinion, the myth of the Golden Fleece can be updated today in many ways: high quality wool can be considered as the modern equivalent of the Golden Fleece.
Like the Golden Fleece, high-quality wool is rare and precious. Also, like the Golden Fleece, high-quality wool requires a lot care and attention to be produced.
Lanaioli immediately selected a line of regenerated cashmere yarns to explore the world of sustainability and the economy circular thanks to eco-cashmere sweaters.
We have also activated a short supply chain for the production of merino wool knitwear, sweaters and accessories in merino wool from endangered native sheep breeds.
This is why we take the myth of the Golden Fleece as an example to explain to our audience the experimental approach we have had in designing and creating our knitwear items, from the careful selection of natural and regenerated yarns, up to their production.