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Jason and the Golden Fleece 

The truth behind Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece

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Episode credited cast:
Sasha Behar ...
Storyteller
Michael Wood ...
Himself - Presenter
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The truth behind Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece

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2005 (UK)  »

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Greeks Bearing Myths.
6 August 2011 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

It's a generally superior production, as most of Michael Woods' trips into myths and history are. This one is a bit more grounded than some other, like "Shangri-La", because it was current before the Trojan War rather than invented in the 1930s by a British novelist.

Actually, the myth itself, in its various forms, isn't covered in too much detail. He's not Robert Graves digging into the literary evidence. Jason was a prince of Iolcus but his uncle murdered his father and said that Jason could not assume the throne unless he brought back the golden fleece. This was the unique skin of a ram that was hung in a tree somewhere in Colchis, now part of Asian Georgia.

Jason acquired a ship, the Argos, and assembled a crew of famous figures like Hercules, underwent many adventures, and -- well, rent the movie, "Jason and the Argonauts." It has quaint special effects by Ray Harryhausen. The movie ends happily, like a fairy tale, with Jason returning home and getting everything that was coming to him. What the movie doesn't tell you is that Jason was married to the witch Medea, a jealous and bitter woman who kills their own children, and of whom I believe my ex wife to have been an avatar. And the prow of the rotting Argo falls on the weeping Jason and squashes him like a bug.

Michael Wood's enthusiasm is catching. He takes us on a journey, mostly by boat, along the Argonauts' route, stopping at the various islands mentioned in the story. At the present time, of course, this is now civilized territory although no one would accuse the location of being engulfed in urban sprawl. There's not a McDonald's in sight. Instead, the people of what was Colchis, however Christian they may be now, still sacrifice lambs and hang their fleeces on a tree. Stalin was from Georgia. You'd think the folks there would look like Soviet dictators but they all look Greek to me. Did you ever pluck a ripe olive from a tree and bite into it? Don't.


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