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Aeetes

King of Colchis in Greek mythology, Aeetes figured prominently in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. He was the father of Medea and Apsyrtus.

Phrixus, son of Athamus and Nephele, along with his twin Helle, were hated by their stepmother, Ino. Ino hatched a devious plot to get rid of the twins, roasting all the towns crop seeds so they would not grow. The local farmers, frightened of famine, asked a nearby oracle for assistance. Ino bribed the the men sent to the oracle to lie and tell the others that the oracle required the sacrifice of Phrixus. Before he was killed though, Phrixus and Helle were rescued by a golden ram sent by Nephele, their natural mother. Helle fell off the ram and died, but Phrixus survived all the way to Colchis, where Aeetes took him in and treated him kindly, giving Phrixus his daughter, Chalciope, in marriage. In gratitude, Phrixus gave the king the golden fleece of the ram, which Aeetes hung in a tree in his kingdom.

Some time later, Jason arrived to claim the fleece as his own. Aeetes promised to give it to him only if he could perform certaint tasks. First, Jason had to plow a field with fire-breathing oxen that he had to yoke himself. Then, Jason sowed the teeth of a dragon into a field. The teeth sprouted into an army of warriors. Jason was quick-thinking, however, and before they attacked him, he threw a rock into the crowd. Unable to decipher where the rock had come from, the soldiers attacked each other and defeated themselves. Finally, Aeetes made Jason fight and kill the sleepless dragon that guarded the fleece. Jason then took the fleece and sailed away with Medea, who had fallen in love with him and helped him win the fleece. Medea distracted her father as they fled by killing her brother, Apsyrtus. Aeetes stopped to gather the pieces of his son.



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