Phrixus and Helle were son and daughter of King Athamas, son of the winds god Aeolus and the cloud goddess Nephele. When Athamas remarried Ino, daughter of Cadmus, King of Thebes, his second wife grew jealous of the two children of her predecessor. When crops failed and messengers were sent to Delphi to discover why, she bribed the messengers into telling Athamas that the drought would not end until he sacrificed Phrixus.

As Phrixus was tied to the stake and the stake was lit, Nephele appeared as a huge rain-cloud, which prevented the sacrifice. Then she sent a flying golden ram on which the two children sat and flew to the north. As they passed the streights between Europe and Asia Minor Helle fell off the ram, for which the streights were called Hellespont (Helle's sea). Phrixus reached Colchis safely, where he was greeted by King Aeetes, who gave him one of his daughters in marriage. Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus, and gave its pelt (the Golden Fleece) to Aeetes for safekeeping. Aeetes kept the Fleece in a sacred oak tree, where it laid until Jason took it.

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