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A Timeline of the Heroic Age

In addition to using material from the Greek myths, Jane Yolen and I wanted to set our Young Heroes tales, as best as we could, against the background of the historical Greek civilization of the Heroic Age. The fall of Troy is not only part of the legends of ancient Greece; it is generally accepted to have been a historical event to which we can give an approximate date. Using this as my starting point, I worked my way back in time, setting the major events of Greek legend in chronological sequence.

Note that Heracles is the original Greek name for the hero we normally refer to as Hercules. The titles of the Young Heroes novels are in italics, showing the years when these adventures supposedly took place.

Robert J. Harris


2200 The Mycenaean peoples invade Greece from the north

1750 Cities of Crete destroyed by an earthquake

1600 Cretan palace at Knossos damaged by an earthquake (Knossos rebuilt within a century and Cretan civilization flourishes)

1357 Perseus slays Medusa

1350 Perseus founds Mycenae

Oedipus becomes King of Thebes

1291 Bellerophon battles the Amazons

1289 Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons

1274 The labors of Heracles begin

1273 Heracles sails to the land of the Amazons accompanied by Peleus and Telamon

1270 Heracles captures Troy and slays Laomedon

1268 Theseus sets out for Athens where he slays the Cretan Bull

1267 Theseus travels to Crete and slays the Minotaur; becomes King of Athens

1266 Queen Hippolyta leads the Amazons to war against Athens

1265 Atalanta and the Arcadian Beast

1263 Jason and the Gorgon’s Blood

1259 Jason leaves Mount Pelion and travels to Iolcus

1258 Voyage of the Argonauts

1254 Hunting of the Calydonian Boar

Atalanta marries Melanion

1253 At the age of six, Achilles begins to hunt wild beasts under Chiron’s instruction

1247 Odysseus in the Serpent Maze

1245 Battle of the Gods and Giants

1237 Death of Heracles

1236 Helen marries Menelaus

1235 Penelope marries Odysseus

1234 Paris abducts Helen

1233 Trojan War begins

1225 Deaths of Patroclus and Hector

Penthesilea and the Amazons arrive to help the Trojans

1224 Achilles slain by Paris at the Skaian Gate

1223 Fall of Troy

1213 After ten years of wandering, Odysseus returns to Ithaca

1200 Fall of Mycenae; end of the Heroic Age

Jason and the Gorgon’s Blood

Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris

For the Harris boys—

Matthew, Robert, and Jamie—

to take along on all their adventures


To Alan and Anita,

and Elizabeth and Steven,

some of the original adventurers



Chapter 1 A Matter of Pigs

Chapter 2 The Wild Band

Chapter 3 Bad Omens

Chapter 4 The Hiding Place

Chapter 5 A Matter of Princes

Chapter 6 The Tug of a Rope

Chapter 7 The Narrow Path

Chapter 8 The Chasm

Chapter 9 Onward and Upward

Chapter 10 The Haunted Peaks

Chapter 11 Winged Fury

Chapter 12 The Storm Breaks

Chapter 13 The Anger of Hera

Chapter 14 The Mountain Wakes

Chapter 15 The Valley of Death

Chapter 16 Alcestis

Chapter 17 Mount Ossa

Chapter 18 The Cavern

Chapter 19 A Question of Death

Chapter 20 A Matter of Life

Chapter 21 The Challenge

Chapter 22 The Ferryman’s Price

Chapter 23 The Dragon’s Mouth

Chapter 24 The Lake

Chapter 25The Trail

Chapter 26 The Spring

Chapter 27 Blood and Water

What Is True About This Story?

A Conversation Between the Authors

A Biography of Jane Yolen

A Biography of Robert J. Harris



THE CENTAUR WAS ANGRIER than Jason had ever seen him before. He was so angry, he didn’t just stamp his hooves and make the earth shake like a drum or roar till all the caves of Mount Pelion echoed with the sound.

No, he was far too angry for that.

He lined up the six boys and paced up and down before them in threatening silence, his hooves padding softly on the grass, his fists clenching and unclenching in a broken rhythm. His unspoken disapproval was like a heavy boulder pressing down on all of them, and Jason most of all.

Especially, Jason thought, because my mouth is so parched and there is a dull throbbing behind my forehead and my limbs ache and I have bumps like small hillocks all over my body. He shook his head to clear it, which just made things worse.

Why can’t I remember why I feel this way? Something about the night before. A revel? He had never been to a revel before.

“Chiron, master …” Prince Acastus began. He always used the centaur’s title when he wanted to wheedle his way out of trouble.

But Chiron was not to be cozened. He was simply too angry.

“Silence!” Now he roared, and the sound of his voice shattered a small birch in two.

And my head, Jason thought.

Prince Acastus was smart enough to shut up, moving back behind his cousin Admetus.

Jason wondered who would be the first of the boys to crack. Since Chiron had raised him from infancy, and he was used to the centaur’s ways, he knew he would not be the one. But these other boys had been on the mountain for only a matter of weeks, sent by their fathers to be trained as hunters, as warriors, as heroes. Sent to the master of all masters, the burly old centaur who was now pacing so angrily before them.

Jason smiled at the thought. As quickly, he stopped smiling. Smiling hurt.

At last the centaur halted in front of them and arched an accusing eyebrow. Jason hated that look most of all. It signaled some awful punishment was going to follow. And soon.

“Pigs,” Chiron said, his voice throbbing and low, like a toothache. “Let us talk about pigs.”

The centaur was intimidating enough even when he was not angry. With the body of a wild stallion, all sinewy strength and animal speed, crowned by the torso of a heavily muscled man, he radiated raw power. His bearded face had all the majestic grandeur of the mountain that reared up over their heads.

“I say ‘pigs,’ and how do you answer?”

Idas, the strongest of the boys, stuck out his chest and set his square jaw in defiance, trying hard to show that he wasn’t afraid, but nobody was fooled. They were all afraid of Chiron. Centaurs were, after all, bigger and stronger than any human adult. And unpredictable. Though Chiron was different from the rest of his breed. Different, apart—and a master teacher.

Idas’ brother, wiry Lynceus, who swore he could spot an ant crawling up a tree trunk clear across the valley, right now had eyes glazed over in panic, as if he’d gone blind.

Tall, gangly Melampus of Pylos had a reputation as a seer. He boasted he could foretell the future by the movements of the birds, and indeed his mind always did seem to be drifting among the clouds. But a single glare from Chiron and he came crashing to earth, taking a nervous step backward.

Admetus didn’t even attempt to put on a show. His round, freckled face drooped, and he shuffled his feet nervously.

Behind him Acastus crossed his arms, trying—Jason supposed—to look heroic. Hard to do, Jason thought, while hiding behind someone else. Acastus kept up the charade for almost five whole seconds before bowing his head under Chiron’s relentless gaze.