Friday, 2 March 2012


Here is our hero Jason. This is the Wargames Foundry version, of course

Jason was the son of King Aeson of Iolcus (which was, historically, the northernmost Mycenaean city) whose half brother Pelias seized his throne as part of his plan to rule all of Thessaly.  Jason's mother was either Polymede (the daughter of Autolycus who was the grandfather of Odysseus) or more usually, and according to Apollonius, Alcimede.  In most versions of the story Pelias spares Aeson and his wife, although in the 1999 Hallmark version of Jason and the Argonauts Pelias (a scenery chewing Dennis Hopper) kills Aeson (Ciaran Hinds) and marries his wife, called Polymele in this version.

Ciaran Hinds as King Aeson

Alcimede/Polymede had an infant son, Jason, at the time when Pelias seized the throne, and she arranged for Jason to be whisked away to the countryside to be brought up by Chiron the centaur as she thought that Pelias would kill the rightful heir to Iolcus.

Jason and Chiron -half horse, half Klingon

In some versions of the story it is Aeson himself who leaves Jason with Chiron.  Some people (including Robert Graves) claim that Jason's original name was Diomedes and that it was Chiron who named him Jason, meaning "the healer".  The name Diomedes wasn't attached to Jason until the sixteenth century AD, however.  This seems to have come from a mis-translation of the Greek word for "crafty" dolomedes.

Jason carries a disguised Hera across the River Anauros

Pelias was worried that despite the apparent disappearance of Jason he would one day be overthrown and so consulted an oracle who confirmed that a man wearing one sandal would take his thrown. Years later an older Jason would leave Chiron and his mountain hideaway  and return to Iolcus. About to cross the river Anauros he spotted an old woman and carried her across the river. Losing one sandal in the process.  The old woman was really the Goddess Hera in disguise who gave him her blessing.

Dennis Hopper as Pelias

As a man wearing one sandal he was immediately brought before Pelias (or sought him out, in a typically impetuous way). Pelias either agreed to give up his throne in exchange for the Golden Fleece (more about which another time) or tricked Jason into getting him to volunteer to fetch it. Either way Pelias thought that Jason, like others who had sought it, would never return.

The Foundry figures have rather splendid ram's head shields

Jason was the James T Kirk of the Argo (and how much did Star Trek owe to the Argonautika anyway -with planets replacing islands?) a man who preferred action to words ("we come in peace, shoot to kill"), and certainly tended to speak first and think later (especially in the Robert Graves version, The Golden Fleece).  He was also irresistible to women!

Todd Armstrong as Jason

The Foundry figure gives him the long (golden) locks of Robert Grave's Jason rather than the short hair of Todd Armstrong in the Harryhausen classic.  Interestingly in the computer game Rise of the Argonauts they follow the Todd Armstrong look as well.  

An Armstrong lookalike from Rise of the Argonauts

Armstrong's Jason is too old, however, given that Jason's journey is a coming of age saga.  The Foundry Jason looks much more appropriately young.

Jason London as Jason

Jason London, in the 1999 Hallmark production of Jason and the Argonauts, sports a rather tragic mullet but is more the right age.

So now we have our Jason he will have to start to recruit his Argonauts!