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Medea is sent to assist Jason and the Argonauts in finding the Golden Fleece. She later marries King Aegeus and sends Theseus on tasks to kill him.

In order to help him on his quest, Hera sent Medea to meet Jason when he arrived in Colchis. Jason and Medea completed three tasks in order to get the fleece: they plowed land with fire-breathing oxen, sowed dragon’s teeth, and defeated an army of earth-men that sprang from their labors. Finally, he used a potion provided by Medea to put the dragon who guarded the fleece to sleep, and they grabbed the fleece and escaped from Colchis.

Upon their return to Iolkos, Jason discovered that Pelias had murdered his father. In revenge, Medea told Pelias’ daughters that she could turn their father young again if they cut him into pieces and put him in a pot with a special herb. She demonstrated with a ram, and a lamb jumped out of the pot. The daughters wanted their father to enjoy his youth again, so they cut him up and threw him in the pot, but Medea did not add the herb. They were driven out of Iolkos by Pelias’ son Acastus.

Jason broke his vow to Medea by marrying another woman named Creusa, the daughter of Creon, the King of Corinth. As revenge, Medea gave the girl a cursed robe which burned her and her father alive. She then killed all of her and Jason’s children, and fled.

She later returned to Athens and married King Aegeus; together, they had a son named Medus. In some versions of the myth, Theseus arrived in Athens and King Aegeus did not recognize him as his son, but Medea did. Medea wanted to kill him so that he wouldn’t threaten Medus’ claim to the throne. She sent him on a quest to capture the Cretan bull, but Theseus was successful and did not die. She made a plan to poison Theseus and got Aegeus to agree; however, Aegeus recognized the sword Theseus was carrying as his own just as he brought the poisoned wine to his lips and knocked it out of his hand. Aegeus was so angry at Medea that he banished her.

In some versions of Medea’s story, she and Achilles were married in the gods’ realm, after they both died.


Medea Quick Reference

Parents

King Aeetes and Idyia of Colchis


Notable Myths

  • The Golden Fleece
  • Jason’s Betrayal
  • Theseus and Medea

Companions

  • Jason
  • Aegeus
  • Achilles

Symbols / Attributes

  • Poison Bottle
  • Golden Fleece

Be sure to check out the lesson plans on Jason and the Golden Fleece!

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