King Athamas’s first wife was the cloud-goddess Nephele, but she grew restless and left him. His choice of Ino as her successor proved even more disastrous.
INO, second wife of the Bœotian King Athamas, hated her stepchildren, Phrixus and Helle, with an ungovernable passion.
So first she blighted the crops in Bœotia, and then, when the harvest failed, she bribed messengers from the oracle at Delphi to tell Athamas that only the sacrifice of his son Phrixus would avert the plague.
But even as the priest raised his knife, a ram with a golden fleece appeared out of the clouds, and whisked the two children away.
Poor Helle lost her grip and fell into the sea, which was afterwards named Hellespont in her memory.
But Phrixus held on, and going ever further north came at last to Colchis, where King Æetes took pity on him.
In thanksgiving to Zeus, the ram was sacrificed; and in gratitude to the king, Phrixus gave him the golden fleece, which was nailed to a tree in the grove of Mars.