My last post here on my blog was about returning home from lecturing on a cruise on the Voyages to Antiquity line. Now, almost a year later, it’s time to board the Aegean Odyssey again for another stint! It’s almost embarrassing how I’ve let this blog fall by the wayside, but this past year has been one of great change as I took on a new academic position at Anderson University in South Carolina. A cross-country move, 120 new students, and responsibilities teaching the full range of art from all cultures and all historical periods kept me quite busy!
But now it’s time to recharge my batteries on a ship, sailing the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The highlight of this cruise for me, and the topic of one of my lectures, will be retracing the route of Jason and the Argonauts from Greece to the shore of modern Georgia (ancient Kolchis). Although we think of as just a story – with all of its fantastic supernatural elements like Harpies, fire-breathing bulls, and warriors grown from dragon’s teeth – for the ancient Greeks the Argonautika was a historical event that they dated firmly in the 13th century B.C.E: 1264 B.C.E. to be exact. So is it pure mythology, or does the story of the Quest for the Golden Fleece preserve an echo of a real historical voyage made by Mycenaean Greeks in a fairly primitive ship at a time when the Black Sea (which later Greeks called The Inhospitable Sea) represented the very limits of the known world? I hope this trip will shed some light on that question for me. After all, Ray Harryhausen’s 1963 film “Jason and the Argonauts” was one of the reasons I became so entranced with ancient myth and legend in my childhood!
As time and internet connect permit, I’ll try to post pictures and short comments along the route of the trip.