ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Argo in Greek Mythology

Updated on May 2, 2016
Colin Quartermain profile image

Having travelled through Italy, Greece and the Aegean in his youth, Colin quickly became interested in the ancient mythology of the region.

The Argo

Hereoes were a central idea in Greek mythology and the gathering of heroes to bring the Golden Fleece back to Iolcus is one of the most famous stories from antiquity. Only the bravest and most skilled heroes of Ancient Greece would accompany Jason, for only they would be able to survive such an arduous adventure.

The gathering and selection of heroes was only one part of the problem facing Jason, for the retrieval of the Golden Fleece would mean travelling to Colchis. Colchis was thought of as a barbaric land, at the very edge of the ancient world. To make the journey would mean a boat had to be built, but no vessel yet constructed would be up to the task, and so a new boat, the Argo, would have to be built.

The Gods Help with the Argo

Jason was being aided in his quest by several of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece, with the most prominent support coming from Hera. Hera was actually manipulating Jason for her own ends, but nevertheless, she encouraged Athena to get involved in the construction of the vessel.

Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, would design a new seagoing ship, and then the goddess would help in the actually building of the vessel. The construction of the ship was actually put into the hands of Argos, a son of Arestor from the city of Argos.

The Argo

Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907) PD-art-100
Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907) PD-art-100 | Source

Building the Argo

In the sources that survive into today, little is mentioned about the design or the actually building of the vessel, although it is generally thought to resemble the galley design typical of Ancient Greece. Most surviving sources though, do claim that it was a ship that could ship 50 oars.

Arguably the most important feature of the newly designed ship was the prow, for part of it was built making use of oak from the forest of Dodona.

Dodona was one of the sacred regions of Ancient Greece, and was believed to be closely associated with Zeus. Dodona also had its own Oracle, one of the most important in the entire ancient world.

Making use of oak from Dodona was said to have imbued the new vessel with mystical powers, and as a result, the prow of the boat was able to speak and utter prophecies.

The newly designed and built vessel was named the Argo; whether the name was given as recognition for the man who built it, or because the word argos means swift, is not entirely clear, but of course those heroes who sailed onboard her would forever be known as the Argonauts.

The Argo Sets Sail

With a ship built and a crew assembled, it was now time to set sail for Colchis, and it was said in ancient texts, that the Argo itself proclaimed that it was time to leave. Thus, at the appointed time, the Argo was launched from the beach at Pagasae.

The journey to Colchis was a relatively straightforward one for the Argo and the Argonauts, and would take in Lemnos, Samothrace and Ares Island. The voyage, and the landfalls made on the way, would prove more of a danger to the Argonauts than the ship that carried them. That being said, the Argo did have to deal with gigantic waves as it passed the Bosphorus. Additionally, the Argo also had to navigate between the Symplegades, the Clashing Rocks, which randomly came together.

The Golden Fleece on the Argo

Herbert James Draper (1863–1920) PD-art-100
Herbert James Draper (1863–1920) PD-art-100 | Source

The Argo Returns

Eventually, at Colchis, the Golden Fleece was removed from the sacred grove, then the Argo and surviving Argonauts had to make a rapid exit. The Argo was chased by the Colchian fleet, but the murder and decapitation of Apsyrtus, Medea’s brother, did much to slow down the chase.

The murder of Apsyrtus angered Zeus, and so the journey back to Iolcus would not be a straightforward one, and it would be much longer, and far more dangerous, than the outward voyage.

The long and winding route would see the Argo traverse the River Danube, Italy, Elba, Corfu, Libya and Crete, and in Libya, the Argo would have to be carried across the desert by the Argonauts. Ultimately the return journey was again far more dangerous to the Argonauts, rather than the Argo, although the return journey did see the Argo having to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis.

In the end, it was the Argo itself who told Jason how to safely return to Iolcus, with a trip to the island of Circe required. The sorceress Circe would be able to offer forgiveness for the killing of Apsyrtus.

Thus eventually the voyage of the Argo ended at Iolcus, and Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts disembarked from the ship for a final time.

To recognise the achievement of the Argo, a likeness of the boat was placed amongst the stars, as the constellation Argo Navis (now a combination of Carina, Vela and Puppis). The Argo itself though was left beached at Pagasae.

The Greek Myths as Constellations

Sidney Hall (1788–1831) PD-life-100
Sidney Hall (1788–1831) PD-life-100 | Source

The End of the Argo

The Argo though does appear once more in the continuing story of Jason, for years later, after the murder of his children by Medea, the Greek hero comes to the beach at Pagasae. There, a desolate Jason rests in the shade, beneath the prow of the Argo; the Argo by this time had started to rot away, and the prow of the ship falls earthwards, killing Jason where he rested.

All of the physical remains of the Argo would of course quickly rot away, but the legend of the Argo would live on forever.

Jason and the Argonauts 1963

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Colin Quartermain profile imageAUTHOR

    Colin Quartermain 

    3 years ago

    Many thanks for reading and commenting. Colin.

  • manatita44 profile image

    manatita44 

    3 years ago from london

    Interesting story. I saw the movie. You seem to know a lot about Greek mythology. Cool, Bro.

  • Colin Quartermain profile imageAUTHOR

    Colin Quartermain 

    3 years ago

    I agree its one of the great stories of Greek mythology

  • FatBoyThin profile image

    Colin Garrow 

    3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

    I love this story - it's got everything you need: drama, action, goddesses and mythical creatures. What more could you want?! Great Hub.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)