Jason: The Feminine Hero
In recent years, the Hellenistic Age (323-31 BC) has become a topic of intense interest among classicists. This age, which greatly enriched the corpus of Greek literature, has as one of its most seminal works the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius. In many ways, Apollonius' work is a perfect representation of Hellenistic literature and thought in that it is an alloy of conventional classical literature and Hellenistic innovations. Hence, the Argonautica exhibits many paradoxical features: an epic, yet shorter than anything Homer wrote and "Callimachean," yet 'definitely not a "slender" work. This paradox is reflected in the dyadic character of Jason who has both masculine and feminine traits, is both conniving and amechanos, both hero and anti-hero. This last topic, the conception of Jason as an epic hero, has been the subject of most of the scholarship on the Argonautica in the last fifty years. While Glei dismisses any further work on the question of Jason's heroism as unnecessary, this paper shall nevertheless explore a perspective which has never been taken up by previous scholars, that to understand his heroism, you have to understand how his masculinity is represented and how a Hellenistic audience might have reacted to it based on the model of a Hellenistic king. Because so much work has been done on the subject ofJason's heroism, it is appropriate first to survey the major developments in the scholarship as a background for this examination.