Myths and Legends

The Legend of Medea and the Argonauts

Strabon (Strabo), a Hellene geographer and historian (c. 64 BC - AD 19) born at Amaseia (Pontos, Asia Minor) connects the region of Abbazia (Opatija) with the legend of the Argonauts, a greek tribe that fled from the colhedian king Eatus.

(Click to enlarge)

Voyage of Jason and Argonauts

The legend states that the Argonauts, while escaping from Eat's soldiers, go to the North hoping that the soldiers would stop the chase. Medea, daughter of Eat, is among them. However, the king's soldiers do not desist and follow them up to the Liburnian coast, opposite the island of Cherso-Cres. In order to stop the father, Medeja kills her brother Apsirtes. Eat finds the remains of his dead son, gives up the chase and returns home with his army. According to the same legend, Medea leaves the Argonauts and settled in what is today Medea-Medveja, where she created a settlement, the beginning of the Liburnian culture.

The term Liburnia spreads geographically and marks the region inhabitated by the Liburns, the descendants of Medea, more or less the Riviera of Opatija.

Did the Argonauts of Greek myth go underground in the Slovene karst?

Lazius's maps of Carniola, the first of which was printed in 1545, have a note at Vrhnika, where the Ljubljanica rises from its subterranean course, saying that the Argonauts of the Greek golden fleece myth went underground there on their way from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. The original Greek sources describe only a surface route, either following a branch of the Sava running west to the sea, or requiring their ship to be carried overland for this part of the journey. Elsewhere, though, it was said that fish pass from one sea to the other by underground channels. The subterranean variant of the Argonaut story has not been traced before Lazius, though he may have got the idea from another mapmaker, Hirschvogel, who had lived in Ljubljana. Münster's map of 1550 implies the existence of an underground river between Vrhnika and the Mirna river in Istria, but it does not associate it with the Argonaut story. The idea seems to have arisen just when maps were showing that hills formed a barrier between the east-flowing Sava and the rivers of the Adriatic basin, and when the existence of caves and underground rivers was becoming more widely known  [R. Trevor Shaw, G. Macqueen James - Acta Carsoligica (27/1,1998)]

See also:


  • Text - Legend of Medea -
  • Image -  Bullfinch's Mythology, The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes -
  • Map - Classical Mythology Online -
  • Slovene -

Main Menu

Created: Wednesday, October 25, 2000; Last updated: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Copyright © 1998, USA