Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Barca Nona, The Ninth Ship

 “Love, did you say?  It is a mighty curse.”  -Medea, Eurypides

The ancient Greek hero Jason (Yeah!) was but a child (ahhh!)  when his evil uncle, Pelias, (imagine twisted up black moustache) dethroned his brother in battle and put himself on the throne of Lolcus and then killed the rest of the family so no one would usurp him.  (Yikes!  Ancient family reunions… not so mucha da funna!)  Jason, the infant, escaped and was given to a shepherd who hid him in the mountains until he was full grown. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…)  Pelias, a ruthless tyrant, felt confidant even after warned by an oracle (these guys are waaay underpaid) that only the man wearing one sandal could bring his ruin.  (Huh?)
 When Jason was grown, he traveled to his father’s kingdom to take back his birthright from Pelias.  (Naturally) Along the way he encountered an old woman attempting to cross a stream and (being a good boy scout) helped the poor woman, he lost a sandal in the waves and continued onward with only one shoe.  Little did he know the old woman, was Hera, the wife of Zeus in disguise.  (Oooh, plot thickening!)
 Word spread of Jason, the one-sandaled traveler who was brought before King Pelias and demanded his father’s throne back (three fingered SNAP!).  Pelias, agreed to returning the land and title to the rightful heir but only upon fulfillment of an amazing heroic task:  Bringing back the Golden Fleece, which was a stunning gold-haired ram held prisoner on a faraway island.  Jason agreed.  (Sucker!)
 With the help of the genius shipbuilder Arnus, (there really needs to be a Greek god of spelling… thanks be for the letter “R”) the great Argo was created and fifty men in ten ships set out to retrieve the golden ram.  (ADVENTURE!) But Jason had a co-pilot:  (Jesus?  Nope, wrong book)  the Great Hercules, (can you smell what the Rock is cooking?) pausing on his fourth labor, joined the voyage for a spell. (Another Sucker!)
 So, Jason and Hercules sailed through the Aegean Sea into the Mediterranean  having adventures and landing on different islands.  The first was Lemnos where the women were cursed by Aphrodite to smell so terribly that their husbands would not touch them.  (Gross!) In anger, the women killed their men and chased Jason and Hercules away (…with their nasty stinky armpit hair) and promptly created the first Ashley Madison website in antiquity.
 Next they sailed to Doliones, arriving on the western shore, where they were greeted warmly by the king, but upon leaving they became lost and arrived on the eastern shore of the same island and were attacked by the same king, which they killed before all realizing their mistake.  (Lewis Carroll anyone?)
 Next they reached Thrace and saved the blind prophet Phineus (sans Ferb) from Harpies sent by Helios.  The seer then showed them how to pass the terrible cliffs of Symplegades (say that three times fast) by releasing doves and following them through the passages.  Finally, they arrived at the island of the Golden Fleece. (It’s about time!)
 Here Jason met the terrible and diabolical love of his life, the princess (witch)  Medea, who tricks him into marriage, helps him steal the fleece, and then kills her own father.  (Not COOL, Lady!)  The two sail away in a honeymoon vessel of blood.  (Haha…Killer Sentence!)
 It’s not smooth sailing though, as punishment for killing her family, Zeus yields his power to push the ship toward the Sirens and total destruction.  (Oh no…Odysseus?  Nope, wrong book)  It is only with the help of beautiful Orpheus, (played by Jared Leto) who lulls the monsters to sleep with his lyre, that they are able to pass. 
 Enraged even more, Zeus orders the Argo and it’s following ships blown off course, scattering them throughout the Mediterranean Sea.  A terrible storm comes and sends the ships in all directions.  When the waves calm, all but one ship is accounted for:  The Ninth Ship, which has been lost.  (Insert Gilligan’s Island song)
 Jason then sends Hercules to find it.  (Now you’re thinking!)  So the great hero leaves his 12 Labors and sails out alone looking for the lost vessel which he finds on Montjuic Hill along the Iberian coast toward Gibraltar.  When Hercules finally locates the survivors, they are not wounded or distraught, in fact, they are overjoyed at the stupendous beauty of the land, the gentle sea breeze, and the lush vegetation.  The men abandon Jason and the Golden Fleece and decide to build a settlement there which they name “Barca Nona,” which means ‘The Ninth Ship’ in Latin.  Hercules leaves them (he was traveling that way anyway) and continues toward the Erymanthian Boar.  (Sheesh!)
As for the doomed Jason, (aren’t all heroes fated?) he returns to find Pelias has killed his own father and his mother dead of grief.  In revenge, he tricks Pelias with the help of Medea’s magic to drink a potion from the fountain of youth that is actually poison.  (Nice!) At Pelias’ death, Jason becomes king.  The bliss doesn’t last long.  Jason spurns Medea and marries another.  (Idiot!)  Medea, furious, murders their two children (what’s with this chick and killing family members?) and casts a spell on the Argo, dropping the great hull of the ship onto Jason’s body as he sleeps.  (Ultimate Irony!)
As for the “Barca Nona,” the land of the Ninth Ship is fruitful and the names changes over time to Barcelona. 

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