Thessalian City


Argo by Constantine Volanakis

Argo by Constantine Volanakis (19th century)

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain


Iolcus was a city on the coast of eastern Thessaly, located on the northern shore of the Gulf of Pagasae, at the foot of Mount Pelion. In Greek mythology, Iolcus was ruled by the despotic king Pelias, who sent his nephew Jason to steal the Golden Fleece. 

Pelias hoped that Jason would perish on the journey, but with the help of the Argonauts and the witch Medea, he successfully retrieved the Golden Fleece. In the end, Jason murdered Pelias and left Iolcus.[1]

Where was Iolcus located?

Iolcus was located on the coast of eastern Thessaly. The city sat just north of the Gulf of Pagase, near the foot of Mount Pelion. It was in the neighborhood of other important Thessalian cities, including Phthia, the home of Achilles. Iolcus corresponds to the modern-day city of Volos, Greece.

The Waterfront of Volos (Iolcus)

Panoramic photo of the waterfront of Volos in Greece (ancient Iolcus)

AquileaaquileaCC BY-SA 3.0

Jason and the Argonauts

Pelias, the famous mythical king of Iolcus, was a terrible despot. He is best remembered for sending his nephew Jason to Colchis to retrieve the fabled Golden Fleece. Jason put together a crew of heroes to help him on his quest; together, they were known as the “Argonauts,” after their ship, the Argo.

Though Pelias expected Jason to perish on the dangerous journey, he and the Argonauts were successful in stealing the Golden Fleece. They returned to Greece, where Jason murdered Pelias with the help of his Colchian lover, the witch Medea.

Fresco of Pelias and Jason

Fresco from the House of Jason in Pompeii showing Pelias (center) recognizing Jason (bottom right) as he arrives in Iolcus (1st century CE)

National Archaeological Museum, Naples / Marie-Lan NguyenPublic Domain