Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Jason and Medea - Apollonious of Rhodes

Athene and Here, goddesses, espy young Jason and his argonauts hiding in the rushes with a singular mission. To take away Aeetes golden fleece to Hellas. They are concerned for young Jason and wonder if they could ask Aphrodite a favour. Aeetes would not let go of his golden fleece easily and Jason might lose his life unless of course they could make Aeetes's daughter Medea fall in love with Jason. Medea could help Jason counter Aeetes with her knowledge of charms.
Penguin, 50 p, Rs. 49

They ask Aphrodite to ask her son Eros (the Greek Manmadha) to shoot an arrow at Medea and make her fall in love. Eros does that, enticed with a small bribe by his mother, and Medea falls hopelessly in love with the handsome Jason. The young lad meanwhile tries to talk to Aeetes about his venture and hope that good sense prevails - in exchange for the fleece, he offers that he would fight for Aeetes. But Aeetes is simmering with anger (he would rather have them dead and makes plans to that effect) and he instead gives Jason a tough task of ploughing a field with two fiery bulls that breathe fire and then sowing the field with a serpents teeth which would then grow into warriors of incredible strength. The golden fleece itself was guarded by a fierce dragon. Jason would have to overcome the men and then, he could take away the fleece. The task was tough for someone like Jason and his team of argonauts.

Fair Medea, lovelorn and sad, seeks out Jason and gives him the way out. She tells him precisely what charm to use and when and how to get the strength to achieve his deed. To counter the bulls and their fire she gives him and ointment for strength and protection, for the warriors she gives him a ruse to make the fight among themselves and for the dragon she gives him a herb to put it to sleep. After the job is done says the fair maiden, and when you return to Hellas, will you think of me? Jason is also suitably impressed by the charming lady and says he will take her away as well. Then Jason sets about his impossible task and achieves it. And then he marries her of course.

Ah, a love story as good as any. "A heroic tale of love, anguish.." says the blurb. So it is.

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