Golden Fleece, in Greek mythology, the magic fleece of the winged ram that saved Phrixus and Helle, the children of Nephele and Athamas, from the jealousy of Ino, Athamas' second wife. The ram flew to Colchis , but Helle fell into the sea, which was thereafter known as the Hellespont. Phrixus arrived safely, sacrificed the ram, and hung its fleece in a wood guarded by a dragon. The ram became the constellation Aries . Phrixus married a daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis and begot Argus and three other sons. The quest of Jason and the Argonauts was for this fleece. The legend of the Golden Fleece may have some basis in reality. Ancient Colchis is the modern Georgian region of Mingrelia, and in neighboring Svanetia, inland in the Caucasus, miners have for centuries used sheepskins to collect gold grains and flakes from mountain streams.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Folklore and Mythology