Few classical stories are as romantic as that of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The stirring tale of an adventurer who was also a disenfranchised king's son and daring sea-captain has resonated through the ages, rumbling and echoing like the clashing rocks which almost pulverised the doughty Argo to splinters. The themes of the legend are perennial, and endlessly engaging. For even while it tells of a quest to the ends of the earth, of the villainous usurper King Pelias, of dragons' teeth, of the doom of Hylas (beloved friend to Heracles), ravished to his end by nymphs who greatly desired him for his beauty, and of Jason's lust for the witch Medea (betrayed so that he might wed another), it speaks to us of more: of sex and gender; of identity and race; and, of colonisation and conquest. From Pindar to J W Waterhouse, from Max Beckmann to Ray Harryhausen and from Mary Renault to Ian Seraillier, the epic poem of "Apollonius of Rhodes" has inspired later interpretations as rich, salty and diverse as the source text itself. Helen Lovatt here unravels, like untangled sea-kelp, the diverse strands of the narrative and its numerous and fascinating afterlives.
Her book will prove endlessly entertaining to those who love classical literature and myth.
Helen Lovatt is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham and the author of Statius and Epic Games: Sport, Politics and Poetics in the Thebaid (2005).
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2015
Number of Pages: 256