In antique age, Cres-Lošinj archipelago was named Apsyrtides, after Apsyrtus, the son of the king Aeetes. The islands are connected to one of the ancient legends about Jason and the Argonauts and their incredible journey searching for Golden Fleece.

The story about Jason

Aeson, Jason’s father ruled in the land of Iolcos. During Jason’s childhood, the kingdom lived in peace. Until Pelias, Enzo’s half brother wanted a throne for himself. After he killed his half-brother, Pelias took the throne. Jason was raised by centaur Chiron who trained many famous warriors. Jason then grew up and became one of his best students and decided to bring back his kingdom.

He came to his uncle and asked to step down. Pelias, of course, rejected him. Jason had to prove himself by the big heroic act if he wanted to be a king. The king’s request was for Jason to bring Golden Fleece in six months time, which was in possession of king Aeetes, king of Colchis. Golden Fleece, the fleece of the gold-hair winged ram, was hung on a tree in king’s garden and was guarded by a dangerous dragon who never sleeps. Jason’s task was almost impossible.

Jason and the Argonauts

The legend about Jason and the Argonauts is a story of an incredible journey of seamen on a ship Argo. The ship got a name by it’s shipbuilder -Argo. And Argonauts actually means “Argo sailors”. Jason got together the bravest Greece heroes. We are familiar with few like Heracles, Orpheus, Theseus, Peleus, Laërtes. The crew was of 50 men, and Jason was their leader.

The quest for the Golden Fleece

No other ship could sail that far. On their way, there was a pass called Cyanean rocks (Symplegades). It was a pair of two rocks that clashed together when someone went through. Jason decided to make it through that pass. He released a dove which flew around the rocks. When two rocks started to clash together, they didn’t catch the dove, but only got it’s feather. The boat moved around the rocks and managed to go through. The rocks clashed together and only scratched the boat.

After long sailing and many adventures, the Argonauts arrived in Colchis. King Aeetes didn’t want to give Golden Fleece. He asked Jason to prove his strength and courage by overcoming three almost impossible challenges. When King’s daughter Medea saw Jason, she fell in love at first sight. She helped him overcome all challenges by using her sorcery and cunning.

King Aeetes’s impossible challenges

The first challenge was to plow the field using fire-snorting bulls which he had to harness. Medea gave him a salve that protected him from the fire. Then he had to sow the field with dragon’s teeth which will make armed men rise from the ground. Medea advised him to throw a stone in the crowd. Soldiers saw that and didn’t know where it came and they started to fight and kill each other. The last challenge was to take Golden Fleece from the dragon who was guarding it. Medea made a potion for Jason which made the dragon fall to sleep. Then Jason took the Golden Fleece and sail away with Medea.

The fatal chase

Medea’s father Aeetes was chasing them. He wanted Golden Fleece back. The Argonauts sailed away down the river until they came to Istria and Kvarner. Medea’s brother Apsyrtus led the chase. Although the chase took time, Apsyrtus managed to catch them. Medea tricked him to negotiation and brought him in front of Jason who killed him. She cut her brother’s body and threw his limbs in the sea. From parts of Apsyrtus’s body islands were created – Apsyrtides.

Apsyrtides islands are actually today’s archipelago in Kvarner with islands: Cres, Lošinj, Unije, Ilovik, Susak, Vele Skarane, Male Skarane and numerous uninhabited islands.

Feel free to write in the comment section if you sailed in Kvarner bay. Have you visited Lošinj or Cres island? Take a charter boat and go exploring.

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