Image: Argo replica
Yiorgos Karahalis  /  Reuters
A man and a child look at the Argo replica ship docked at the port of Volos in central Greece, 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Athens. The ship set sail to retrace a portion of the ancient Argonauts' trip on Saturday.
updated 6/15/2008 8:23:41 PM ET 2008-06-16T00:23:41

A replica of the Argo, the ship that according to legend carried Jason and the 50 Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, sailed Saturday from the central Greek city of Volos on a two-month journey to Venice in Italy.

Turkey's refusal to guarantee the 93.5-foot (28.5-meter) wooden ship safe passage through the Bosporus Strait meant that the ship will not reach its ancient predecessor's destination of Colchis, in what is modern-day Georgia, at the eastern end of the Black Sea. Its route, instead, will retrace part of the Argonauts' return trip.

According to a version of the legend, Jason and the Argonauts, while fleeing from King Aites of Colchis, from whom they had stolen the Golden Fleece, sailed from the Black Sea up the Danube river and then into the Sava and Ljubljanica rivers before continuing their trip on the Adriatic and Aegean seas.

Jason is considered the founder of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia: the city's coat of arms includes a dragon, which Jason allegedly slew.

The ship's crew comprises 50 oarsmen with another 22 on standby on a ship following the Argo, said Vangelis Constantinou, a spokesman for the project.

"We had to reschedule the trip over the last 10 days, following Turkey's refusal," Constantinou added.

The city of Volos had to arrange with 23 cities for the ship's overnight stay. The trip will comprise 37 legs and will total about 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometers).

The ship was built according to known designs for warships during the Mycenaean era. The Argonauts' trip is said to have taken place in the 14th century B.C., almost 200 years before the Trojan war. The ship includes a ram, used to attack and sink enemy ships.

The trip is scheduled to end in Venice on Aug. 11.

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