Sunday, April 17, 2005

Jason and the Argonauts.. and The East Colchis Trading Co.

Some days back, I was watching one of those shows - the ones aired on History or Discovery or some other -y suffixed channel, the shows which somehow mesmerize me with enough intrigue that I try to extrapolate it onto other things or in some other way imbibe it into my own life’s fabric no matter how useless the content.

This particular show was analyzing the story of Jason, the epic Greek hero who, unlike every other epic hero, is endowed with little besides leading the Argonauts, crewmen so renowned the cast of Ocean’s Eleven could have been first-year acting majors.

The agenda of the show was to prove that Jason was not a mythical figure but an ambitious businessman, premising on the ancient Greeks’ use of allegories to tell the tale of businesses, trade routes, and mergers with fanciful hyperbole coalescing kingdoms, quests, and marriages into a riveting epic. The throne Jason sought from the cold, calculative Pelias was ownership of a trading company, and the quest for the Golden Fleece symbolized establishing a trade route from Thessaly in gold-scarce Greece to elementally rich Colchis in western Turkey where laborers used fleece to dredge up gold from turbid river water.

Even Medea, the sultry sorceress-princess of Colchis stolen away by an alluring Jason to later wed him, is theorized to be a symbol of a business contract between two corporate powers. I'm not sure how to interpret, however, how she in her later years turns out to be a scorned termagant, killing her children and an elderly Jason’s young, lithesome mistress.

While I’m sure our contemporary academes are over-crediting the epic writer with symbolism and other nuanced literary complexity, oh, how fun it would be if today’s newscasters delivered corporate news in the greek raconteurs' motif!

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