Sunday, September 3, 2017

Get on Board this Boat and join Odysseus and Argonauts

Odysseus, also known by the Roman name Ulysses, (Ulyssēs ,Ulixēs), was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca  and a hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. 

Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Illiad and other works in that same Epic Cycle.

Husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laertes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his brilliance, guile, and versatility (polytropos), and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (mētis, or "cunning intelligence"). He is most famous for the for ten eventful years he took to return home after the decade-long Trojan War.
    Henriette Mertz (1898–1985) was an American patent attorney and ancient history researcher from Chicago. 
   During World War II, she worked as a code-breaker for the U.S. government's cryptography department.
   In her work entitled The Wine Dark Sea, Mertz argued that Odysseus sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the North Atlantic. Moreover, Mertz believed that Odysseus faced Scylla and Charybdis when he arrived at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia
   Mertz also proposed that the Argonauts travelled across the Atlantic Ocean, down the east coast of South America, past the mouth of the Amazon and Rio de Janeiro to the Rio Plata of Argentina. From Rio Plata, Jason went to the altiplano of Bolivia and to Tihuanaco where the Golden Fleece was located.

   The Argonauts (Ancient Greek: Ἀργοναῦται, Argonautai) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology, who in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece.  
   Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts" literally means "Argo sailors".
   They were sometimes called Minyans, after a prehistoric tribe in the area.

   After the death of King Cretheus, the Aeolian Pelias usurped the Iolcan throne from his half-brother Aeson  and became king of Iolcus  in  Thessaly  (near the modern city of Volos). 

   Because of this unlawful act, an oracle warned him that a descendant of Aeolus would seek revenge. Pelias put to death every prominent descendant of Aeolus he could, but spared Aeson because of the pleas of their mother  Tyro. 
   Instead, Pelias kept Aeson prisoner and forced him to renounce his inheritance. Aeson married Alcimede, who bore him a son named Jason. 

   Pelias intended to kill the baby at once, but Alcimede summoned her kinswomen to weep over him as if he were stillborn. She faked a burial and smuggled the baby to Mount Pelion. He was raised by the centar Chiron, the trainer of heroes.

   When Jason was 20 years old, an oracle ordered him to dress as a Magnesian  and head to the Iolcan court. While traveling Jason lost his sandal crossing the muddy Anavros river while helping an old woman (Hera in disguise).     The goddess was angry with King Pelias for killing his stepmother Sidero after she had sought refuge in Hera's temple.

   Another oracle warned Pelias to be on his guard against a man with one shoe. Pelias was presiding over a sacrifice to Poseidon  with several neighboring kings in attendance. Among the crowd stood a tall youth in leopard skin with only one sandal. 
   Pelias recognized that Jason was his nephew. He could not kill him because prominent kings of the Aeolian family were present. Instead, he asked Jason: 

   "What would you do if an oracle announced that one of your fellow-citizens were destined to kill you?" Jason replied that he would send him to go and fetch the Golden Fleece, not knowing that Hera had put those words in his mouth.

   Jason learned later that Pelias was being haunted by the ghost of Phrixus. Phrixus had fled from orchomenus  riding on a divine ram to avoid being sacrificed and took refuge in colchis  where he was later denied proper burial. 

   According to an oracle, Iolcus would never prosper unless his ghost was taken back in a ship, together with the golden ram's fleece. 
   This fleece now hung from a tree in the grove of the Colchian Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. 
   Pelias swore before Zeus  that he would give up the throne at Jason's return while expecting that Jason's attempt to steal the Golden Fleece would be a fatal enterprise. However, Hera acted in Jason's favour during the perilous journey.

   Jason was accompanied by some of the principal heroes of ancient Greece. 
   The number of Argonauts varies, but usually totals between 40 and 55; traditional versions of the story place their number at 50.
   Some have hypothesized that the legend of the Golden Fleece was based on a practice of the Black Sea  tribes; they would place a lamb's fleece at the bottom of a stream to entrap gold dust  being washed down from upstream. 

   This practice is still in use, particularly in the Svaneti  region of Georgia. 

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