82. Medea collects magical ingredients

Once upon a time, the Argonauts returned to Thessaly, and they rejoiced with their respective families and friends. In gratitude for their safe return, they sacrificed a hallowed bull to Jove. They praised the gods with sacred fires, which were further made sacrosanct, by burning costly fragrant frankincense and offering consecrated gifts.

However, Aeson, the ailing father of Jason, was on his deathbed, and hence could not participate in the rejoicing. This grieved Jason, who with tears brimming in his eyes, requested his wife Medea, to use her magic and provide his father few more years to live, by taking those years from his own lifespan. But Medea loved Jason far too much, to deduct years from his lifespan, and thought of rejuvenating Aeson, solely with the power of her magic.

In the silent full moon night, Medea, robed in a flowing garment, her long hair unbound and unadorned, and with bare feet, went away from the palace to a solitary place in the woods. There, looking up at the glittering stars, thrice she paced around, and thrice sprayed her hair with water of crystal streams. Kneeling on the bare, cold ground, thrice she screamed, imploring the goddess Hecate, the three-faced queen of magical arts and all magicians, to witness her need of extraordinary herbs and elixirs, which can renew weakened old age with the strong bloom of youth. Hecate’s chariot driven by three flying dragons, came down from the sky. Medea mounted the chariot and flew away, to collect the required magical ingredients.

For nine days and nine nights, the swift wings of the dragons flew to distant places. With a moon-curved brass sickle, Medea cut weeds, grasses, herbs, and roots, from Ossa, Pelion, Othrys, Pindus, vast Olympus; from the banks of Apidanus, Amphrysus, Enipeus, Peneian, Spercheian, and Boebe. She plucked a secret grass from the fair Euboean fields, and also collected many other secret ingredients. Thereafter, the dragons took her home.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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81. Jason takes the Golden Fleece

Once upon a time, Jason, the son of Aeson, with the help of magical herbs given by Medea, the daughter of King Aeetes of Colchis, was successful in taming and yoking fire-breathing bulls, to plow the field of Mars. Thereafter, from a brazen helmet, he took the teeth of a dragon and planted them, all over the first-time plowed field of Mars. From the sown dragon teeth, sprung up fully armed earth-born warriors. Jason threw a heavy stone in their midst, which distracted the warriors away from him, and they fought amongst themselves. Aided by Medea’s magical incantations, Jason survived the murderous warriors, who killed each other until no one remained.

Now, Jason had to take the Golden Fleece, which was guarded by a terrible dragon. The dragon had a magnificent crest, three flame throwing tongues, and fangs as sharp as a lance. The task was impossible while the dragon was awake and vigilant, and the only possible way, was to make the dragon go in deep slumber.

Jason sprinkled the Lethean juices of a magical herb given by Medea, on the stunning crest of the dragon. Then, he recited three times, such magical words that dull the senses, make the eyes heavy, and bring the deepest of the deep slumbers. The words were so potent that it could halt the flow and make still, the waters of the most hastily flowing river, or even calm the raging waves of a storm-tossed furious ocean.

The juices of the magical herb coupled with powerful magical words, took effect, and the watchful eyes of the dragon were burdened, with heavy slumber. While the dragon slept, Jason took advantage of this opportunity, and he quickly took away the Golden Fleece.

Thereafter, along with the Argonauts, Jason sailed away to Iolcus, his native port, victoriously carrying the Golden Fleece with him. Medea, the joyous and willing Colchian damsel, also sailed away along with Jason.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

80. Jason sows the dragon’s teeth

Once upon a time, Jason, the son of Aeson, desired the Golden Fleece from King Aeetes of Colchis, who agreed on the condition that Jason completed three tasks. Medea, the daughter of Aeetes loved Jason and helped him with magical herbs. Jason had completed the first task of taming fire-breathing bulls to plow the field of Mars. Now, in that plowed field, he had to sow the teeth of a dragon.

From a barefaced helmet, Jason took the dragon’s teeth and sowed them all over the first-time plowed field. Drenched in potent poison and softened by the moist earth, the teeth began to swell, taking new shapes. The teeth did not come out of the earth, until fully formed as armed earth-born warriors. When all the earth-born warriors came out, in unison they aimed their sharp-pointed spears at Jason.

When the Minyans saw that Jason, their leader of the Argonauts, was surrounded by armed earth-born warriors, even the boldest Minyan, was fearfully unnerved with failing courage. Medea also was terrified, seeing so many raging enemies against her beloved Jason, who was alone. Her complexion turned ashen white, blood left her rosy cheeks, and chilling fear made her slump to the ground. Her terror-struck heart, frantically wished that the magic herbs given to him, would take effect. However, she started invoking mysterious incantations to protect him, in case the herbs failed to accomplish their purpose.

Meanwhile, Jason lifted a huge stone, hurled it in the midst of the warriors, who being distracted, turned away from him and started to fight among themselves. They fought with clashing arms and blood-curdling cries, until all were slaughtered in violent conflict. The Greeks declared Jason as the victor, and with open arms embraced him. At that time, the heart of Medea also yearned, to fold Jason in her loving arms, but modesty restrained her, and she silently rejoiced in her deep love for Jason.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

79. Jason tames bulls to plow the field of Mars

Once upon a time, Jason, the son of Aeson, wanted the Golden Fleece from King Aeetes of Colchis, who gave him three tasks to complete. Medea, the daughter of Aeetes, fell in love with Jason, who promised to marry her. Medea helped Jason by providing magical herbs.

The first task was to plow the field of Mars, with fierce, untamed, and fire-breathing bulls. Hundreds of Colchians, expectantly stood on the hills, to witness Jason tame the bulls, yoke them, and plow the field. The Minyans were also gathered to see their leader Jason, emerge victorious. Aeetes, dressed in purple and holding his ivory scepter, sat high above on the hill, watching the field where the unruly bulls were roaming freely.

Jason arrived and faced the ferocious animals. The huge brazen-footed bulls, had sharp horns with tips of iron, and through their terrible nostrils, breathed out fire. Their hot sides and heated throats, demonstrated the contained fire within, just like the erupting flames of forges, show the intensity of the fire within.

The bulls turned their brutal faces towards Jason, bent their heads showing iron-tipped horns, pawed the dust of the earth with their brazen cloven feet, and filled the air with fearful bellowing, while the flames coming out of their adamantine nostrils, scorched the grass nearby. Fear gripped the hearts of the Colchians and the Minyans.

Aeetes anticipated Jason to flee, but under the powerful charm of the magic herbs given by Medea, Jason fearlessly walked up to the wild bulls. He stroked their down-hanging dewlaps, placed the yoke on their necks that had never been yoked, and made them pull the heavy plow. The field of Mars, which was never plowed, now felt the plow and was made fit for sowing. The Colchians were spellbound, Aeetes was amazed, but the Minyans cheered their hero, whose courage increased by their victorious shouts. Medea was happy and visualized marrying Jason.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

78. Medea resolves to help Jason

Once upon a time, King Aeetes of Colchis had received the Golden Fleece from Phryxus. Jason, the son of Aeson, along with the Argonauts, approached Aeetes to ask the Golden Fleece. Aeetes agreed to give, provided Jason completed three tasks. Firstly, after taming fierce bulls, Jason had to make them plow the field of Mars. Secondly, he had to sow the teeth of a dragon in that field and lastly, he had to defeat the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece.

While Aeetes was explaining the tasks to Jason, the virgin Medea, daughter of Aeetes, was present near her father’s throne. As soon as she saw Jason, at the very first sight, she fell in love with him. Her love-struck heart frantically began to beat with happiness, but knowing the hard labours that Jason faced, her heart sank into unhappiness. Desire persuaded her to help Jason, but reason persuaded her otherwise.

Later in the day, Medea went to the altar of goddess Hecate to pray. While walking she thought that was her heart made of stone? If not, then why would she deny any help to Jason? Even a heart of flint would be moved by his youth, nobility and handsome countenance. If she did not help, then he would surely die. But, if she helped, then he would marry her. She thought of sailing away with him, forsaking her father, brother, Gods, and her native land. Forsaking would be easy, as her father was strict, her brother was just a child, the Gods were always in her heart, and her native land was rough. If she left, then she would not be leaving behind valued hopes. As Jason’s bride, in his sweet embrace, she would forget all fears and sorrows. But what if he sailed away alone, leaving her behind?

With such mixed thoughts, while Medea proceeded to the altar of Hecate, she met Jason on the way. Holding the hallowed Sun and goddess Hecate as witnesses, Jason promised marriage to Medea. Thus assured of Jason’s love, Medea resolved to help him gain victory in his tasks.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

77. Boreas and Oreithyia

Once upon a time, Boreas, son of Eos and Astraeus, was inflamed with love for the fair-cheeked Oreithyia, daughter of Praxithea and King Erechtheus of Athens. With gentleness and agreeable speeches, Boreas asked Erechtheus for the hand of Oreithyia. But Erechtheus took light of his kind words and declined Boreas’ wish.

Boreas refused to suffer humiliation and debase himself to weakness. After all, he was mighty Boreas, the great cold North wind. His might was his right and violence was his strength. Great actions comprised his drink of life. The snow was broken by him. He could drive out the gloomy clouds, toss the waters of the seas, and uproot large oak trees. He could pelt the Earth with hail and sleet. Rushing through limitless spaces, the hollow clouds rumbled his fury. The farthest caves of the Earth were penetrated by him, and from those limitless deeps, the terror-stricken shades of hell scattered away. With such powers at his command, Boreas concluded that force was the law of life, and using force, he decided to abduct Oreithyia.

Thus, the impetuous Boreas, spread out his rustling wings, traveled across mountain summits, wide seas, and reached Athens. There, while the men of Erechtheus were busy closing the gates and windows, which were furiously flapping in the gusty wind, Boreas forced himself into the palace. In sheer contempt of Erechtheus, who had rejected him as a suitor, Boreas caught Oreithyia and keeping her close to his breast, he flew away. Swiftly crossing great lands, his large wings fanned the cold winds near Ciconian Walls, where Oreithyia willingly became his wife.

Oreithyia gave birth to Cleopatra, Chione, Zetes, and Calais. The hero twin sons, Zetes and Calais, had their mother’s face, but like their immortal father, they had bird-like wings, which appeared when their golden hair and beards had grown. Later, they joined the Argonauts, to help find the Golden Fleece.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

76. Procne and Philomela take revenge

Once upon a time, Procne was maddened with rage for her husband Tereus, the king of Thrace had raped her sister Philomela. Thereafter, to keep his evil act hidden, Tereus had sliced off Philomela’s tongue. Consumed with terrible fury, Procne raved to cut the tongue of Tereus, blind his lustful eyes, burn him alive, and give every painful death, ever imagined in the wretched anger of hate.

While the frenzied Procne was raging wildly, her little son, Itys, came running and clung to her. She thought Tereus would suffer most, if he lost what he loved the most. Since Tereus loved Itys the most, Procne resolved to kill Itys. Discarding her maternal love, in great anger she took a sword and fatally struck Itys, while Philomela cut through his tender throat. Then both the sisters mangled the remains of Itys, boiling a part of it in steaming pots bubbling over with the child’s blood, while the rest they roasted over hissing and spitting fires.

Thus, when the mangled remains of Itys were cooked, Procne, under a false pretense of a holy rite, invited Tereus for a feast. The gluttonous Tereus gorged himself and called Itys, to share the excellent meat. Procne, eager to rejoice over Tereus’s sorrow, cried out that the child whom Tereus was calling, was inside him. At that moment, Philomela, with disheveled hair spattered with the blood of Itys, sprang forth and hurled the head of Itys, in front of Tereus’s horror-struck face, while more than ever longing for her sliced tongue to utter fitting words.

The howling Tereus overturned the table, thrust his fingers deep in his mouth, vainly struggled to disgorge the half-digested flesh of his son, wept burning tears, and rushed with his sword, to kill the two sisters. But Procne and Philomela fled as if birds on wings, and truly they turned to red-breasted swallows, with the red feathers branding them for the murder of Itys. The chasing Tereus also turned to a sharp-beaked bird, called as Hoopoe.

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Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani