The Golden Fleece in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is a magical artifact with powerful healing abilities and it’s immensely important to the story at large. There’s a strong likelihood that it will also be included in the Disney Plus series with the show sticking closer to the source material than the movie adaptions did. Percy, the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman, gets tasked with finding it at one point along his journey, but to truly understand it, one must know its history.
Like many concepts in the beloved fantasy series, the Golden Fleece is based on the Greek myth Jason and the Golden Fleece with an updated twist. It originates in the story of Jason and the Argonauts and in the epic, Jason goes on a quest to find the magical item. Interestingly, there are plenty of parallels between the leader of the Argonauts, and Percy Jackson.
What is the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology?
The myth in the Argonautica tells the story of the god Zeus gifting a golden ram to Jason’s ancestor Phrixus, and he used the animal to fly from Greece to Colchis. Aletes, the king of Colchis, sacrificed the ram and hung the fleece on a sacred tree guarded by a dragon that never slept. There was a prophecy that stated if Aletes ever lost the fleece, he would also lose his throne. Jason was sent by King Pelias (his uncle and killer of his father King Aesos) to claim the throne from the king of Colchis and he assembled a team to get the job done.
Jason went on a series of epic quests, sailing the seas and encountering many dangers, and he finally made it to Colchis. He asked King Aletes for his ancestral birthright, but the king made him complete even more tasks. He yoked fire-breathing bulls to plow a field, used dragons’ teeth to sow the field, and he had to fight warriors that sprouted from the ground.
King Aletes’ daughter Medea helped Jason through these tasks with her knowledge and magic, and she even helped him get past the dragon to attain the fleece. For her service, the two marry and go to Greece where Jason claims his father’s throne, but people were fearful of Medea’s magic and they forced the two out of town. King Creon of Corinth offered Jason his daughter’s hand in marriage and Jason accepted it, an act which drives Medea mad. In her madness, she killed their two sons and Creon’s daughter, then fled and married King Aegeus.
What is the Golden Fleece in the Percy Jackson series?
In Percy Jackson, the Golden Fleece has a connection to Camp Half-Blood, the training location for the young demi-gods and magical heroes. Before Percy ever came to Camp Half-Blood, Zeus’ daughter Thalia Grace, daughter of Athena Annabeth Chase, Hermes’ son Luke Castellan, and the loyal satyr Grover Underwood, traveled to the camp.
Percy’s team faced an army of monsters sent by Hades. Thalia bravely stayed behind to fight off the horde, and she was killed in battle. In her honor, Zeus turned her into a pine tree (known as Thalia’s Pine Tree) whose magical borders would protect Camp Half-Blood from monsters and outsiders of all kinds.
In the second book, The Sea of Monsters, the Golden Fleece becomes crucial to the continuation of their way of life. Thalia’s Pine Tree was poisoned by Luke, and Percy, Annabeth, and the cyclops Tyson (whose father is Poseidon, making him Percy’s half-brother) had to find the Golden Fleece to heal the tree or else monsters would destroy their sanctuary.
How does Percy Jackson learn about the Golden Fleece?
Annabeth told Percy about Jason and the Argonauts, and when she asked if he’d heard of it, Percy’s only point of reference was the movie with the “clay skeletons”. In their version of the story, the two children of Zeus, Cadmus and Europa, were about to be offered as sacrifices, but Zeus spared them after they prayed to him. Zeus sent a flying ram with golden wool to pick them up and carried them from Greece to Colchis, but Europa fell off and died.
In Colchis, Cadmus sacrificed the ram and hung the Golden Fleece on a tree in the middle of the kingdom and it brought prosperity to the land. Animals were no longer sick, plants grew more bountifully, and it ended plagues. Jason wanted it for its magically curative properties and from this story, Percy realized that it could cure Thalia’s Pine Tree. It wouldn’t be easy, however, as the Golden Fleece had been lost for centuries. Many heroes searched for it and failed in their attempts. For Percy and his team, they’d have to brave the Sea of Monsters if they hoped to spare their friends and family an unfortunate fate.
There are similarities between both stories, and the Golden Fleece essentially does the same thing. It’s the key to saving Camp Half-Blood and Thalia’s Pine Tree, but for all its good it’s also a catalyst for drama with dangerous consequences for those who seek its power. This certainly proved true for both Jason and Percy.
Will the Golden Fleece be in the Percy Jackson TV series?
With Rick Riordan’s involvement in the Percy Jackson series, there are sure to be references to the Golden Fleece since it has such a significant role in the story. Camp Half-Blood is their home base, and with more time to explore this magical world, there are more opportunities to explore the lore in-depth.
It’s unlikely that Percy will go searching for it in season one, but if the series gets picked up for season two and they do The Sea of Monsters storyline, there’s really no way around it. The Golden Fleece is just that important.