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The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived…

The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles (1921)

by Padraic Colum

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One of five titles to be selected as a Newbery Honor Book in 1922, the year that the award was instituted, Padraic Colum's The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles reads like a children's version of Hesiod's Theogony. The tale of Jason and the Argonauts, who set out on a quest to Colchis - a kingdom located in the northern Black Sea area, in what is now the Republic of Georgia - hoping to obtain the fabled Golden Fleece and bring it back to Greece, the book also features numerous storytelling interludes in which Orpheus relates to the other heroes various tales concerning the creation of the world and the adventures of the Olympian gods and goddesses.

Here the young reader will encounter the odd story of the early races of men - the golden, silver, and bronze - who came before our own. Here too is the tale of Prometheus and his theft of fire, and of Deucalion and his extraordinary boat. Pandora, Hades and Persephone, the hero Perseus - all appear in Orpheus' tales, which are embedded in Colum's larger narrative about the Argonauts, their quest, and their adventures afterward.

I enjoyed this book, which made me feel quite nostalgic for the wonderful course in classical mythology I took while in college, and am now longing to see Ray Harryhousen's film, Jason and the Argonauts, again. That said, I can certainly understand why someone would hesitate to recommend this to young readers, as I don't think it makes a very good introduction to the subject. It does not have the uninterrupted sequential narrative that contemporary children might expect, and assumes a basic knowledge of Greek mythology. As an intermediate step however, between such classic children's book as D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and actual classical texts like Hesiod's Theogony and the Homeric Hymns, this would be ideal, I think. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 15, 2013 |
I would prefer to read the authentic Greek translations, or "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton, over this book.
It attempts to abridge and simplify the stories, focusing on Jason of the Argonauts (the Golden Fleece), but I did not like the writer's style at all.
Not the best form of reading about Greek mythology. ( )
  joririchardson | Jan 20, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Padraic Columprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pogány, WillyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the children of Susan and Llewellyn Jones
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A man in the garb of a slave went up the side of that mountain that is all covered with forest, the Mountain Pelion. He carried in his arms a little child.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0590436848, Paperback)

Product Details Paperback: 316 pages Publisher: Scholastic; 1St Edition edition (1990) Language: English

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

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Describes the cycle of myths about the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece, as well as the tales of the Creation of Heaven and Earth, the labors of Hercules, Theseus and the Minotaur, etc.

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