So, I just finished reading The Lost Hero and all I could think about as I read this book was how much I NEVER want to have anything to do with Jason and the Argonauts as a writer of historical fiction/fantasy. Never, you guys. Never, ever, ever. I cannot say it enough. And this is why:
1) No one agrees about who all took part in this famous Voyage of Heroes.
I suppose it isn't Jason's fault that his crew has become muddled over time, so I guess Jason himself is not my enemy in this, but rather the city-states who each wanted to have their hero take part and so completely obscured any truth that might have ever existed. (Myth Shmyth. I said HISTORICAL fantasy, didn't I?)
2) Trying to fit the voyage of the Argonauts into an historical and linear narrative with OTHER heroic quests and adventures is completely impossible.*
If you do figure out who went, fitting it in between Heracles' 12 labors etc, Theseus' Labors etc (And don't forget "Not Without Theseus" was actually a SAYING because he was involved in everything, apparently), Helen's abductions and the Trojan War, and the stories of the Dioscuri (Helen's brothers) is kind of ridiculous. It all takes place AT THE SAME TIME. Frankly, I'm inclined to believe that none of the major players went with Jason at all, because there is just no way to put it all together and have everyone be where they're supposed to be later. No. Way.
3) Balancing UMPTEEN Heroes all in one cast of characters while giving them all distinct personalities and a fair shake while not IMPOSSIBLE (Joss Whedon, do not fail me with Avengers), definitely poses challenges.
There sure would be plenty of conflict within the party. No lack of ego and hubris as they all struggle to work as a team when each one is used to taking the lead and doing their own thing. I mean, if Jason is in charge, that makes everyone else involved his SIDEKICK, and I'm just not sure how to tackle Heracles or Theseus as a sidekick to anyone -- they're both forces to be reckoned with, to say the least. Then of course there is the potential of bad blood between heroes who had engaged in altercations pre-voyage, all confined to a ship for how long?
It isn't that I don't like to challenge myself when writing -- but Jason and the Argonauts is a Gordian Knot of epic proportions, and frankly, it gives me a headache just THINKING about it. Consider the fact that we're all worried about whether AVENGERS is going to work as a movie, because the cast of heroes is so large -- and then remember that there were between 40 and 60 men (and women) named as Argonauts. Even for a book, which allows a lot more "screen time" than a film, that is a LOT of folks to work into a narrative.
Sorry, Jason. Not for all the tea in China am I touching that story. Not for a million dollars would I write that book (well, okay, I'd give it a SHOT for a million dollars, but I would not make any promises regarding quality, and if I failed, I'd definitely have to be able to keep the money...)
*I've discussed the trouble with chronology and historical dating of myth before, as you might recall.