Fire-breathing bulls of King Aeetes
When you pay a lot of honor to an Olympian, and go all out of your way to win them over with lavish gifts and sacrifices, heaping on the praise like its no tomorrow, it's usually no surprise that they return the favor (at least a little bit!) for you stroking their already immense egos! Such was the case with Ares, the god of war, when it came to the temples and sacred groves that Aeetes (Ay-uh-tees), the King of Colchis, had set up and constructed specifically for his worship.
Aeetes was a pretty bloodthirsty, land-greedy dude, went to war any chance he got and his constant desire to totally stomp his neighbors out of existence (using skeleton warriors hatched from a drakon's teeth!) made the king and god a match made in heaven (literally). Ares thought the guy was his type of spaz, craving the blood and destruction that war brought to the lands it came to, and so made himself the sponsor of the slightly-unstable king.
As a return gift, Ares thought that he had just the thing for a guy who already has it all. For Aeetes, he had his brother Hephaestus design and build two massive, bronze automatones (god-magic animated robots!), the KHALKOTAUROI (Kal-koh-tor-eye), or BRONZE BULLS, that would assist the king in his continued somewhat-jerky, warlike behavior. The Khalkotauroi weren't just any bronze bulls; they stood at least twelve foot tall, were completely indestructible due to their bronze-metal skin, and to complete the aura of terror they put off, the bulls blew intense red-hot fire and choking black smoke from their nostrils. Aeetes thanked Ares profusely for this awesome gift by slaughtering a whole herd of cows; it was like a a kid getting the toy he'd always wanted for Christmas!
Instead of sending the Khalkotauroi off to rampage through nearby foreign cities so that Aeetes could conquer them, the king had a different use for the gleaming, giant bulls. They were set up in a special pasture to protect the kingdom's TRUE treasure; the Golden Fleece, the skinned hide and hair of a flying golden ram.
The Fleece had a very special power that Aeetes wanted to keep safe from any intruders; it could heal anyone of any wound or sickness just by wrapping said injured person in the hide. Just the very presence of the Fleece in Colchis kept all sickness away from the people of the kingdom. so you could say that it benefited everyone there and wasn't something that the king would ever give up without a massive, bloody war.
When Jason and the Argonauts arrived to claim the Fleece, Aeetes promised Jason that if he could yoke up the bulls with a special harness and plow a stony, flint-filled field with it, he could have the Fleece, no questions asked. Inwardly, Aeetes was laughing his bony buttocks off, because he didn't bother to mention to Jason that the bulls would roast him like a pig on a hot cooking spit with their infernal, internal fire before he'd ever be able to tame them! Luckily for the hero, Aeete's daughter, Medea, had been bewitched by Aphrodite to fall in love with him and therefore help him get out of the mess he didn't even know he was in. Medea was a sorceress, a student of Hecate, and filled Jason in on the king's treachery the night before the contest.
She promised Jason a special lotion that he could rub on his body to make him absolutely fireproof (sort of like an SP-2000 sunscreen!), but in exchange, the adventurer had to promise to marry her and take her out of Colchis lickety-split when they had gotten their hands on the Fleece. Jason did as he was told, slathered himself in anti-fire lotion and did the impossible in front of the eagerly waiting Aeetes; he roped the Bulls and managed to harness them, using their bronze strength to plow the rocky ground of the field. No amount of jet-fuel grade breath from the Bulls' mouths managed to touch him (all he really felt was a nice warm breeze in place of the agony he'd have died of if Medea hadn't come along!), and in no time flat, the task was done.
Quaking with rage, Aeetes went COMPLETELY off his rocker and refused the Fleece to Jason, going so far as to toss the drakon's teeth into the stony soil that Jason had just plowed. Within seconds, those teeth became dozens of undead warrior skeletons, screeching and rising their way out of the soil, all commanded by the sneering and vengeful Aeetes. Naturally he sicced them on the adventurers, who had no choice but to run for their lives. The bony soldiers of death marched after Jason and his men relentlessly, never giving up or slowing down, until... Well, to find out how it all ended you'll have to read the story of Jason and the Argonauts!
Nothing much is said on the fate of the Khalkotauri after that little exhibition, but we're fairly sure they went back to their guard duty for Aeetes, flash-frying any intruders or unwelcome guests who moseyed into the kingdom of Colchis. Being automatones, life was probably pretty good, chilling in the pasture on a warm summer day, snorting out smoke and keeping things real down on the farm.
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