After the goddess Nephele married King Athamas, they had two children—a boy called Phrixus and a girl, Helle. Athamas tired of his wife and drove her away, keeping the children and eventually marrying Ino, daughter of the goddess Harmonia. Nephele heard the king was marrying again and resentfully complained of this betrayal to Hera, goddess of marriage and birth.
Ino was a poor stepmother. She did not like the king’s children and wanted one of her own son’s to be the one to eventually take over the throne. She constantly worried about her sons’ inheritance, finally coming up with a plan to be rid of Phrixes.
Ino arranged the roasting of some seed corn, ensuring it would not sprout when planted. The seeds were placed in the ground but no crop grew. Athamus sent messengers to ask an oracle for advice but Ino bribed the messengers to report that the oracle said “If Phrixus is sacrificed, the fields will grow a bountiful crop.”