Jason, and who was Jason? Famous later, sure, on the basis of this trip, and later for his sordid domestic affairs and king to boot, but at the time what was he but a jumped-up rustic with pretensions of royalty and an uncle who maybe recognized him and maybe he didn’t. Certainly not a name to bank on; he couldn’t have raised a penny except that somehow or other he got ahold of Hercules and convinced him that the long shipride would be an adventure or at least a good story later.

Hercules brought in the others, an all-star team of heroes and petty kings, famous sons of famous fathers and laughing, curly-headed youths and grizzled shipbuilding Greeks and off they went, bright and beautiful on a fool’s errand.

They couldn’t hang on to Hercules, not once his boy disappeared, gone down the watery gullet of some nymph, slurped away with nothing to mark his passing except a few rings on the surface of a pond; Hercules wouldn’t leave without his boy, his white-limbed and graceful Hylas, and after that the heart went out of the expedition. They lost their innocence with the big mass-murdering lug.

Later, when innocent Absartis was left to bob in ragged chunks on the sea it was Hercules that bobbed with him; Jason and the others had filled his absence the only way that made sense, with a violent, too-human sacrifice, and lost doubly their innocence.