‘Short on Heroics’: Jason in the Argonautica

Classical Quarterly 38 (2):436-453 (1988)

‘Jason…chosen leader because his superior declines the honour, subordinate to his comrades, except once, in every trial of strength, skill, or courage, a great warrior only with the help of magical charms, jealous of honour but incapable of asserting it, passive in the face of crisis, timid and confused before trouble, tearful at insult, easily despondent, gracefully treacherous in his dealings with the love-sick Medea but cowering before her later threats and curses, coldly efficient in the time-serving murder of an unsuspecting child, reluctant even in marriage.’ So Carspecken put the case against Jason's heroism. In the face of such an indictment, Lawall's plea in mitigation, ‘it must be admitted that [Jason] often reveals the qualities of a true gentleman’, seems somehow inadequate. Criticism since Carspecken has found various overlapping categories for Jason which both take account of the earlier negative judgements and preserve the centrality of his ‘personality’ and character in the poem: Jason is the quiet diplomat who works through consensus rather than force, his is a heroism of sex-appeal, he is an anti-hero, the embodiment of Sceptic ‘suspension of judgement’, or, alternatively, he is ‘one of us’, credible and lifelike. Carspecken himself tried a different tack: the poem is concerned not with individual heroism but with the heroism of the group.
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DOI 10.1017/s0009838800037058
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References found in this work BETA

Euboulia in the Iliad.Malcolm Schofield - 1986 - Classical Quarterly 36 (01):6-.
Les représentations de danse armée dans la céramique attique.Jean-Claude Poursat - 1968 - Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 92 (2):550-615.
Full Moon and Marriage in Apollonius' Argonautica.J. M. Bremer - 1987 - Classical Quarterly 37 (02):423-.

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