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The son of Helios and the sea-nymph Perseis (Table 14). He was given the kingdom of Corinth by his father but soon left for Colchis, a country lying at the foot of the Caucus, on the coast of the Black Sea. His sisters were the sorceress Circe, who gave Odysseus such an unexpected reception and Pasiphae, the wife of Minos. The traditions about the name of Aeetes' wife are inconsistent. One says she was Eurylyte, another makes her the Nereid Neaera, a third the sea-nymph Idyia, the daughter of Oceanus, and the last Hecate the sorceress, his own niece and daughter of Perseus, king of Tauris (see MEDEA).

In Colchis Aeetes rules over Aea and his capital was the town of Phasis on the banks of the river of the same name. When Phrixus arrived at Colchis, having fled with his sister Helle on a ram with a golden fleece which carried them over land and sea, he was welcomed by the king, who gave him in marriage one of his daughters, Chalciope (Table 33). Phrixus sacrificed the miraculous ram to Zeus and gave the fleece to Aeetes, who nailed it to an oak tree in a wood dedicated to Ares, the god of war. Jason, being ordered by Pelias to bring him the Golden Fleece, went with his companions in search of it. When they reached Aea, after a very adventurous voyage (see ARGONAUTS), the king promised them the fleece provided that Jason succeeded in accomplishing various feats, thinking by this means to get rid of him. But Jason, with the help of Medea, Aeetes' own daughter, succeeded in taming huge bulls and in overcoming other tests which were set him. Aeetes then openly refused to let him have the fleece and tried to burn the Argo. Jason took the fleece by force and fled, taking Medea with him. Aeetes went in pursuit of them but his daughter took her little brother, Apsyrtus whom she killed and dismembered, scattering the limbs on the sea. Aeetes, by waiting to gather them up, allowed Jason to escape. He lost heart and gave up the chase. At a later date Aeetes is said to have been dethroned by his brother Perses, and restored to his rights by Medea, who had returned without being recognized.


Table of Sources:
- Hesiod, Theog. 957; 960
- Hom. Od. 10, 136ff.
- Apollod. Bibl. 1, 9, 1; 1, 9, 23; 1, 9, 28; Epit. 7, 14
- Apoll. Rhod. Arg. 3, 242 with schol.
- Diod. Sic. 4, 45
- Hyg. Fab. 27, etc.
- Hdt. 1, 2; 7, 193
- Cic. Tusc. 3, 12, 26
- See also Argonauts; Theseus; Medea; Jason.