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Argonaut Greek Argonautes, from Argoa + nautes sailor

In Greek mythology, one of the band of 50 legendary heroes who sailed with Jason on the ship Argo in quest of the Golden Fleece.

Jason, having undertaken the quest of the fleece, called upon the noblest heroes of Greece to take part in the expedition. According to the original story, the crew consisted of the chief members of Jason's own race, the Minyans; later, other and better-known heroes, such as Heracles, were added to their number. After many adventures, the Argonauts finally reached Colchis, where they found that the king, Aetes (Aeetes), would not give up the fleece until Jason performed several tasks. After these were accomplished, Aetes still refused to give it over. Aetes' daughter, the sorceress Medea, who had fallen in love with Jason, helped him steal the fleece and fled with him. Various accounts are given of their homeward course; eventually the Argo reached Iolcos and was placed in a grove sacred to Poseidon in the Isthmus of Corinth.

The story of the expedition of the Argonauts was known at least as early as Homer, and the wandering of Odysseus may have been partly founded on it.

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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