When Jason Met Medea

A quick refresher on the origins of infamous relationship.

Chapter 1: Beware the Man with One Sandal

Jason and Pelias

Aeson, King of Iolcus is dethroned by his power-hungry half-brother Pelias. Pelias kills all the descendants of Aeson for fear that they will try to reclaim the throne. However, Aeson’s wife Alcimede saves their son Jason by having her midwives cluster around him at birth and cry, pretending he is stillborn. She sends Jason to learn from the Centaur, Chiron. Meanwhile, Pelias still fears that he will be usurped and consults an Oracle who warns him to beware a man with one sandal.

Chapter 2: A Deal is Struck

Jason carrying Hera

Years later, Pelias is hosting games in honour of Poseidon (water sports, surely?) when it is announced that a man with one sandal has arrived to the city. It’s Jason (he lost his other sandal when helping an old lady cross the river, an old lady who was, in fact, the goddess Hera in disguise, and wants to help Jason defeat Pelias). Pelias holds a banquet for Jason (as you do) and strikes a deal with him: Jason can have the throne if he can retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Chapter 3: The Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece
 

The Golden Fleece is the pelt of a gold-haired flying ram, who was sent to save some kids from being killed by their evil stepmother years earlier. The ram was sacrificed back to the gods and now appears as the constellation Aries. The fleece hangs on an oak tree in Colchis (now Georgia) and is guarded by fire-breathing brass-hooved bulls and an insomniac dragon.

Chapter 4: Argo

The Argo
 

In order for Jason to travel to Colchis, the Argo is built. The ship comes with a wooden plank that can tell the future (gifted by the goddess Athena). Jason rounds up some local talent including Hercules and Theseus, and the lads set sail on an adventure holiday of sorts (promiscuity, sexual experimentation and six-armed giants in loincloths, etc).

Chapter 5: Arrival at Colchis

Jason and the fire-breathing bulls

When they finally arrive at Colchis (a few men short), Jason demands that King Aeetes hand over the Golden Fleece, but the king says Jason can only have the Golden Fleece if he can harness the fire-breathing bulls and plough a field. Despite his legendary “hero” status, the bulls will definitely kill Jason—and he knows it.

Chapter 6: There’s Something About Medea

Jason and Medea

Aeetes’ daughter, Medea, is a powerful sorceress. The goddesses Aphrodite and Hera (who are both Team Jason) compel Medea to fall in love with him, after which she whips up a salve that makes Jason fire-proof so he can succeed in ploughing the field. But instead of seeds, the sneaky Aeetes has given Jason dragon’s teeth, which, when planted, sprout warriors up for a fight. Medea comes to Jason’s rescue again, advising him to throw stones at the warriors. Not knowing where the stones have come from, the warriors turn on each other. But Jason having fulfilled his task, Medea hears her dad saying he plans to go back on the deal. Since she’s so smitten, she takes Jason to the Golden Fleece and sends the guarding dragon to sleep with a spell. They grab the fleece and make a quick getaway on the Argo.

Chapter 7: Happily Ever After(?)

Jason, Medea and children

The runaway lovebirds arrive at Iolcus, ready to take the throne. But Pelias is waiting to kill Jason. Medea saves the day again, telling Pelias she is a witch and can make him young again, but that only his daughters can complete the spell. With a convincing trick where she sacrifices a ram, Medea whips up some decoy “magic” on the daughters, who unwittingly boil their father to death. Once Pelias is out of the way, Jason can return to his rightful throne.

But the people of Iolcus don’t like Medea (she's a bit much). Rejected as rulers, the pair decide it’s OK since they have each other, so they flee to Corinth, set up a home, have children and spend their days in domestic bliss.

Then Jason falls for Glauce, daughter of Creon, King of Corinth, and tells Medea he is leaving her…

Medea | 25 September - 14 November 2015 | Info & Tickets

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