Study Guide

Jason: Birth and Early Adventures Summary

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How It (Supposedly) Went Down

A Brief Summary

When Jason is just a little baby, his father, King Aeson, is kicked off the throne of Iolcus by his power hungry half-brother, Pelias. Jason's mother, Alcimede, hides him and sends him off to be raised by Chiron, a super smart centaur. When Jason comes of age, he heads back to Iolcus to claim his throne. Along the way, he helps an old lady (who is really Hera in disguise) cross the cold waters of a raging river. The young hero loses a sandal in the process, but gains the blessing of the Queen of the Gods. When Jason arrives in Iolcus, King Pelias recognizes that the young man is a threat because an Oracle once told him to beware of a man with one sandal. Pelias sends Jason off on the quest for the Golden Fleece, hoping that the hero-to-be will die on the journey.

A Detailed Summary

  • A bouncing baby boy is born to Aeson, King of Iolcus, and his wife Alcimede (aka Polymede).
  • They name the new little prince Diomedes.
  • The happy family doesn't have long to celebrate, however.
  • Not long after the baby is born Aeson's power hungry half-brother, Pelias, marches in and takes over the throne.
  • Pelias locks Aeson up and starts killing the former king's descendents.
  • When the bad guys come to kill little baby Diomedes, however, his mom pulls a fast one.
  • Alcimede and a bunch of other women surround the baby and cry so that the baby's cries can't be heard.
  • The bad guys are fooled and head off to kill some other people.
  • Alicmede then sends her son off to be raised in a cave by the wise centaur, Chiron.
  • Like every other centaur, Chiron has the upper body of a man and the lower body of a horse.
  • Unlike the other centaurs, however, Chiron in civilized and intelligent.
  • Chiron raises the child and teaches him everything a budding Greek hero needs to know: wilderness knowledge, arts, sciences, fighting, etc.
  • Eventually, Chiron renames the boy Jason.
  • When Jason comes of age Chiron sends him off to Iolcus to claim the throne that was stolen by Pelias.
  • On the way to his old hometown, Jason comes to icy, swift-flowing river.
  • An old ugly lady huddles on the banks of the river and asks Jason if he wouldn't mind carrying her across.
  • Jason is a good Boy Scout, and carries the old lady through the rough and cold water.
  • On the way across, the current rips one of his sandals from his feet.
  • It turns out to be a very good thing that Jason is nice to the old lady.
  • See, the crone is really Hera, the queen of the gods, in disguise.
  • The crazy river and old lady get-up is actually a test to see if Jason has what it takes to be a real hero.
  • Of course, Jason passes with flying colors.
  • In some versions, Hera reveals herself to him here, and in others, she just gives him a knowing wink.
  • Either way, Jason has the support of Hera for a long time to come.
  • The queen of the gods hates King Pelias and really wants to see Jason give him what he deserves.
  • Jason continues on his way to Iolcus.
  • Apparently, there aren't any Birkenstock outlets on the way, so he has to keep going with only one sandal.
  • When Jason enters the city, King Pelias is holding some Olympic Games in honor of his father, the sea god Poseidon.
  • Pelias sees Jason prancing around with only one sandal, and he's instantly suspicious.
  • See, not long after Pelias stole the throne, he was warned by an Oracle that one day a man wearing one sandal would take the throne away.
  • Pelias invites Jason to have a lovely meal.
  • The sneaky king asks the one-shoed stranger what he would do if an Oracle had told him that a stranger would one day take his throne.
  • Jason announces himself, telling Pelias exactly why he's come.
  • "Oh, you want the throne back, huh?" says Pelias.
  • Jason replies, "Why yes. Yes, I do."
  • Pelias twirls his mustache evilly, and says "O.K., then. How about you go fetch the Golden Fleece. Bring it back to me and then the throne is yours."
  • Jason says, "Not a problem. Be back in a jiff."

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