Modern-day Argonauts set sail in replica vessel

VOLOS (AFP) – A replica of the Argo, a mythical Greek ship believed to have sailed 3,000 years ago on a heroic quest from Greece to modern-day Georgia, set sail Sunday from the port of Volos on a trial run. Built with Bronze Age tools to the specifications of a Mycenaean-era vessel, the 28.5-meter (93-foot) wooden ship sailed into the waters of the Pagasitic Gulf – the legendary expedition’s original starting point – after a four-year construction project. According to Greek legend, the expedition headed by Jason and featuring some 50 other heroes – including Hercules and Peleus, the father of Achilles – sailed to the Black Sea kingdom of Colchis on a mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece, the skin of a divine ram. Equipped with a ram of its own, the 14th century BC ship was of similar design to the vessels that later carried the Greek armies of the Trojan War described in Homer’s «Iliad,» organizers said. In 2003, Greek shipbuilders also created a replica of a 3,500-year-old Minoan ship that sailed the Aegean Sea the following year. In the Argonaut legend, Jason returned from Colchis to Iolkos (near modern-day Volos) with the fleece and the daughter of the local king, Medea, as his wife. According to the tale dramatized by Euripides, Medea later became insane with jealousy after Jason left her for another princess and killed their two children in reprisal. The modern Argo will sail on its two-month maiden voyage to the Black Sea with a crew of 50 rowers – representing every country in Europe – next year.