The Capture of the Golden Fleece
Jason and Medea steal the Golden Fleece from the sleeping dragon. Public domain. Credit: The Capture of the Golden Fleece by Jean-François de Troy. The National Gallery of London. Public domain.

The Golden Fleece

The object of the hero’s quest

The Golden Fleece was a magical, woolen garment that featured prominently in Greek mythology. The Golden Fleece comes from the hide of the Golden Ram, which has a colorful story of its own. According to the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, the fleece was guarded by a dragon in the kingdom of Colchis, which was located in what is now modern-day Georgia.

The hero, Jason set out on a quest to retrieve the fleece to prove himself worthy to wear the crown as king of Iolcus, a city in ancient Greece. He enlisted the Argonauts to help, and they had to overcome many challenges and dangers, including navigating through treacherous waters and facing formidable monsters. Ultimately, they were able to retrieve the fleece and bring it back to Iolcus.

What is the symbolism of the Golden Fleece?

The myth of the Golden Fleece has inspired many works of art, literature, and film over the centuries. The Golden Fleece is a symbol that has been interpreted in a number of different ways over the centuries.

A skeptic may think of the Golden Fleece as a MacGuffin, which is an object that keeps the characters motivated and the story moving forward but is unimportant. A MacGuffin could be money or fame or a ticking bomb; however, it wouldn’t make any difference to the story. But if you ask me, the Golden Fleece is much more. Jason’s quest is an archetypal journey that reflects our own journey through life and battles with inner demons, which makes the Golden Fleece a symbol of awakening to the golden truths of the universe. I believe the best rewards aren’t objects but what I call moments of enlightenment, new understandings that increase our appreciation of everyday life. Furthermore, a moment of enlightenment doesn’t just benefit the hero. When the adventurer returns home with the prize, in this case, a way of seeing the world differently, it makes everyone’s life better.

I expand on these ideas in a few other articles: What is an adventure? and What is a hero?

More about the Golden Fleece on Wikipedia.

Scott Stoll

Scott Stoll

My claim to fame is that I rode a bicycle around the world and wrote some books. More about me.
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