As Entered Apprentice Masons we learn about the Golden Fleece and Roman Eagle. I wanted to learn more about the legend of the Golden Fleece and better understand its relation to the lambskin apron and Roman Eagle. While researching the topic, I came across an excellent article in the Masonic Leader, a great website which promotes Masonic education.
The legend of the Golden Fleece has been handed down for many centuries. Mythology tells us that the Golden Fleece was said by the Greeks to be hidden in a remote land far across the trackless sea. This precious fleece grew upon the back of a ram, the gift of one of their gods. This ram was constantly guarded by bulls that breathed fire and by a fierce dragon that never slept. The promise to the Greeks was (so legend went) that if they could find and recover the Golden Fleece and bring it to Greece, wealth and prosperity would flourish in that country. The hope of redeeming that promise led to the formation of an order which embraced in its membership many of the most illustrious men of that period, who were called Argonauts from the name of the ship, Argo, on which they sailed. Legends are filled with the daring deeds and suffering of those men in the cause in which they enlisted. The badge of the order was the symbol of a Golden Fleece. (Most of us are familiar with the story of Jason and the Argonauts; a legendary Greek hero leads a team of courageous adventurers in a perilous quest for the legendary Golden Fleece.)
At a later, though still ancient, period there was formed among the Romans an order that embraced only those renowned in war. Its symbol was the Roman Eagle. Of these two orders, the object of one was worldly wealth; the object of the other was military glory. (There was an interesting movie about the honor of the Roman Eagle made a few years ago. In the movie they vividly illustrated the desires of both orders.) Both of these orders have faded from the face of the earth, as unquestionably will any other orders founded on this kind of vain or immoral desires.
But allegedly more ancient than the order of the Golden Fleece or that of the Roman Eagle is the order whose badge is a lambskin or white leather apron, whose aim is innocence and purity of life, and whose object is charity. That this order, Freemasonry, has survived, while all others have perished, teaches us that if we live in accordance with its tenets, we, too, shall persevere.
Let us recommit ourselves to strive to live in accordance with the great tenets of this venerable Fraternity.
Yours in Brotherhood
Robert J. Gregory, WM