Jason (originally pronounced ya-SOHN) was one of the greatest heroes of Greek Myth. Lived one generation before the Trojan War, and was one of the heroes that set sail in the ship Argo in order to seek the Golden Fleece.

Jason's father, Aeson, was the king of Iolcos, until his brother Pelias deposed him and took the throne. Pelias then recieved a prophecy, according to which Jason, his nephew, whould someday harm him severely. In order to dispose of his nephew, Pelias then sent Jason on an impossble journey: to bring the magical Golden Fleece from the city of Colchis. Jason gathered 43 men (among whom were Heracles, Orpheus, Hylas, Telamon, Peleus, Castor and Polydeuces -aka the dioscouri- and Theseus) and one woman (Atalanta), and set sail towards Colchis in the ship Argo (after which they were called the Argonauts).

After many hardships, difficulties and adventures the Argonauts reached Colchis, where king Aeetes laid three tasks over Jason, before he would get the Fleece:

a) To capture a team of fire-breathing oxen and plow a field using them.

b) To straw the teeth of a dragon in the aforementioned field and fight the armoured men that grew from them.

c) To brave the dragon who never sleeps that guarded the Fleece.

It was Jason's good fortune that he managed to seduce Aeetis' daughter, Medea, has desperately fallen in love with him, and that she possessed powerful magicks. With her help he completed the three tasks and escaped with the Fleece. Jason and Medea were pursued by Aeetes, his son and their men. Jason convinced Medea to kill her brother, tear his parts and scatter his remains behind the ship, in order to delay the pursuers.

After many more adventures Jason and Medea finally reached Iolcos, where Medea tricked and killed Pelias. The couple had to flee Iolcos, and they reached Corinth. During all that time Medea bore Jason two sons. When they reached Corinth Jason's treacherous character was revealed, as he deserted her for King Creon's daughter Creusa. Medea, scorned and maddened, then killed Creusa and Creon and her own two children, and fled Corynth with the aid of her grandfather the sun god, Helios.

Jason died years later, struck in the head by a timber from the Argo.

Names become popular in cycles. It's rare to see a Betty or a Lucille on anyone younger than 40; likewise, it's uncommon to see Jason on anyone older than 40.

I was fortunate enough to be in one of the first cycles of use for "Jason" this time around. The cycle started in the late 60's, and went through the late 70's. It was uncommon for there to be another Jason in the same class as me, but it happened occasionally, and it was much more common for classes two or three years behind me.

Jason is a complex name. It has several different meanings, depending on what language derivation you choose to use. The first and most common is its Latin definition: "Son of James." My father is named James, but I'm not certain that they knew this meaning when they named me. According to my mother, I was nearly named Justin, but they both took one look at me, and said, "He's Jason."

I prefer the Greek and Biblical derivations which mean the same thing: "Healer." I've always preferred to fix things to breaking them, and have always hated getting in fights. Strangely, I've never suffered any injury greater than a shallow cut or abrasion.

Last but not least is the Hebrew derivation: "Savior." I don't view myself as any kind of a savior, personally, but I'm certainly not the person to make that sort of judgement. Time will tell... who knows? Maybe I'll grow into this one.

There are very few famous people named Jason; it was difficult for me to find more than a small handful. Perhaps in another 20 years there will be a lot of them. Here are a few:

  • Jason Voorhees (Fictional character) This one used to piss me off, as I had to put up with fellow students in grade school going, "CH-CH-CH-ah-ah-ah," at me, and I didn't want to be associated with a mass murderer.
  • Jason Robards (Actor) He's one of the oldest Jasons I know of, and a damned fine actor, starring in far too many things to list here.
  • Jason Priestley (Actor) Best known for his role on Beverly Hills 90210, I've made a point of ignoring him.
  • Jason Alexander (Actor) Best known for his role on Seinfeld, he's one hell of a funny guy when he puts his mind to it.
  • Jason Kidd (Athlete) Best known for his quote upon being drafted to the Dallas Mavericks: "We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees." I'm almost ashamed to share a name with him.
In our society, your given name is something you can take or leave, as you choose. I'm proud to keep the name my parents chose for me.

1. Jason, the Jewish Historian of the Maccabean revolt, came from Cyrene, on the coast of North Africa. He wrote a 5-volume history of the Jews in the second century A.D., beginning with the time of the high priest Onias III and concluded with the defeat of Nicanor. His writings were condensed by an unknown "editor" into the Aprocrypha, mainly the book of 2 Maccabees.

2. Jason was the son of Simon II and brother to Onias III. He was high priest of Jerusalem from 175 to 172 B.C., during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Jason came into his position beacause his brother, Onias III had been absent for a while, and Jason purchased his priesthood from the king. He proceeded to Greekify Jerusalem, stressing Greek values, weakening Jewish culture. During games held in the city, Jason sent envoys with 300 drachma (their currency) as an offering to the god Hercules. This, obviously, isn't very Jewish. Despite all his efforts, Jason was finally overthrown by Menelaus, who outpaid him for the position. In 169 B.C., Jason led 1,000 men into Jerusalem in an attempt to regain power. This failed, and he spent his final years as an outcast, dying at sea en route to Sparta.


sources: The Bible (KJV): 2 Maccabees, and some old Reader's Digest thing about the people of the Apocrypha.

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