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Abaris
In Greek mythology, Abaris was a priest to the god Apollo. Apollo gave him a golden arrow which rendered him invisible and also cured diseases and gave oracles. Abaris gave the arrow to Pythagoras.
Abas
son of Celeus and Metaneira. He mocked Demeter and was turned into a lizard. By some accounts he was the 12th king of Argolis who owned a magic shield.
Abdera
an ancient Greek city supposedly founded by Hercules in honor of his friend Abderus.
Abderus
friend of Hercules. Hercules left him to look after the mare of Diomedes, which ate him.
Absyrtus (Apsyrtus)
son of Aeetes, King of Colchis and brother of Medea. When Medea fled with Jason she took Absyrtus with her and when her father nearly overtook them she murdered Absyrtus and cut his body into pieces and threw it around the road so that her father would be delayed picking up the pieces of his son.
Acacetus
a name sometimes given to Hermes because of his eloquence.
Acamas
son of Theseus and Phaedra. He went to Troy with Diomedes to demand the return of Helen.
Acastus
son of Pelias. He was one of the Argonauts.
Acestes
In Greek mythology, Acestes was a Sicilian bowman who in a trial of skill discharge an arrow with such force that it ignited.
Achaeus
In Greek mythology, Achaeus was a son of Xuthus and Creusa. He returned to Thessaly and recovered the dominions of which his father had been deprived.
Achates
In Roman mythology, the constant companion of the Trojan hero Aeneas in his wanderings subsequent to his flight from Troy. He typified a faithful friend and companion.
Acheloides
daughters of the river-god Achelous and a Muse. They had been nymphs and playmates of Persephone, and for not protecting her when she was carried off by Pluto, they were transformed into beings half-woman and half-bird by Demeter. Later they were transformed into half-woman and half-fish.
Achemon
Achemon and his brother Basalas were two Cercopes who were for ever arguing. One day they insulted Hercules, who tied them by their feet to his club and marched off with them like a brace of hares.
Acheron
In Greek mythology, river in Hades. It was also the name of a river in southern Epirus, Greece, which flowed underground for part of the 58-km (36-mi) course to the Ionian Sea.
Acherusia
In Greek mythology, Acherusia was a cave on the borders of Pontus which led to the infernal regions. It was through this cave that Hercules dragged Cerberus to earth.
Achilles
In Greek mythology, greatest of the Greek warriors in the Trojan War. He was the son of the sea nymph Thetis and Peleus, king of the Myrmidons of Thessaly. When he was a child his mother dipped him into the River Styx to make him immortal. The waters made him invulnerable except for the heel by which his mother held him. Achilles fought many battles during the 10-year siege of Troy. When the Mycenaean king Agamemnon seized the captive maiden Briseis from him, Achilles withdrew the Myrmidons from battle and sulked in his tent. The Trojans, emboldened by his absence, attacked the Greeks and drove them into headlong retreat. Then Patroclus, Achilles' friend and companion, begged Achilles to lend him his armor and let him lead the Myrmidons into battle. Achilles consented. When Patroclus was killed by the Trojan prince Hector, the grief-stricken Achilles returned to battle, slew Hector, and dragged his body in triumph behind his chariot. He later permitted Priam, king of Troy, to ransom Hector's body. Achilles fought his last battle with Memnon, king of the Ethiopians. After killing the king, Achilles led the Greeks to the walls of Troy. There he was mortally wounded in the heel by Paris. The quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, the subsequent battle, and the ransoming of Hector's body are recounted in the Iliad.
Achmon
an alternative spelling for Achemon.
Acis
In Greek mythology, Acis was a son of Faunus and a river nymph. He loved the sea-nymph Galatea and was killed by his jealous rival Polyphemus.
Acrisius
In Greek mythology, Acrisius was a son of Abas and the twin brother of Proetus with whom he quarrelled even in the womb. He was the father of Danae. When Abas died, Acrisius expelled Proetus from his inheritance, but Proetus returned supported by Iobates and Acrisius was compelled to give him Tiryns while he kept Argos.
Actaeon
In Greek mythology, Actaeon was a great hunter who was turned into a stag by Artemis for looking on her while she was bathing. He was subsequently torn to pieces by his own dogs.
Adaro
In the mythology of the Solomon Islands, Adaro is a sea-spirit.
Addanc
The addanc was a dwarf or marine monster which lived near lake llyon. He was killed in some accounts by Peredu who obtained a magic stone which made him invisible.
Admetus
See Alcestis.
Adonis
in Greek mythology, beautiful youth beloved by the goddesses Aphrodite and Persephone. Born of the incestuous union of King Cinyras of Cyprus and his daughter, Adonis was concealed in a chest and placed in the custody of Persephone, queen of the underworld. When Adonis was slain by a wild boar while hunting, Aphrodite pleaded with the god Zeus to restore him to her. Zeus decreed that Adonis should spend the winter months with Persephone in Hades and the summer months with Aphrodite. The story of his death and resurrection is symbolic of the natural cycle of death and rebirth. The name Adonis is etymologically related to adon, a Semitic word meaning "lord" that occurs in the Old Testament in the form Adonai.
Adrastea
Adrastea was an alternative name for Nemesis.
Adrastus
Adrastus was the son of Talaus and the king of Argos. He attempted to restore Polynices to his throne at Thebes, he failed but led a second assault leading the Epigoni. He died of grief when he heard that his son had been killed in the Epigoni assault.
Aeacus
In Greek mythology, king of Aegina (now AŪyina). He was the son of the nymph Aegina, for whom his island kingdom was named, and the god Zeus. Hera, queen of the gods, angry with Zeus for his love of Aegina, sent a plague that destroyed most of the Aeginetans. Aeacus prayed to his father to change a group of industrious ants into human beings to people his deserted city. Zeus granted his wish, creating a race called the Myrmidons. Aeacus ruled over his people with such justice that after his death he became one of the three judges of the underworld. He was the father of Peleus and the grandfather of Achilles.
AŽdon
In Greek mythology, wife of Zethus, king of Thebes. She was insanely jealous of her sister-in-law, Niobe, who had seven sons, while she had only one. Attempting to kill Niobe's eldest boy, Itylus, AŽdon slew her own son by mistake. The god Zeus turned her into a nightingale whose melancholy song is a lament for the boy. According to a later version of the story, AŽdon was called Procne. She and her sister, Philomela, were the daughters of Pandion, the king of Athens. Procne married a Thracian hero named Tereus and gave birth to a son, Itys. Tereus eventually conceived a passion for Philomela, raped her, and cut out her tongue so that she would be unable to betray him. However, Philomela revealed the crime to Procne by embroidering the course of events on a tapestry. To punish Tereus, Philomela and Procne killed Itys and served his remains to Tereus in a stew. When Tereus discovered the truth, he took an ax and went in pursuit of the women, who implored the gods to help them. In response to their pleas, the gods transformed Procne into a nightingale and Philomela into a swallow. Tereus was changed into a hoopoe. In another version of the story the roles of the sisters are reversed so that it is Philomela who becomes a nightingale and Procne a swallow. This version was adopted by the Roman poets, and it is the one most frequently encountered in subsequent Western art and literature.
Aegeus
See Theseus.
Aegis
In Greek mythology, a garment of Zeus, the king of the gods, and of Athena, his daughter. A short cloak with golden tassels, generally worn over the shoulders, the aegis served as the symbol of Zeus's power; it not only protected him but terrified his enemies. Originally made for Zeus by Hephaestus, the god of artisans, it became the ordinary dress of Athena in later mythology. In art, Athena's aegis was frequently depicted as a breastplate or as a shield fringed with serpents. The garment was also occasionally used by other gods.
Aegisthus
In Greek mythology, the son of Thyestes and his daughter Pelopia. Desiring to avenge himself upon his brother Atreus and acting on the advice of the oracle at Delphi, Thyestes consummated an incestuous union with Pelopia. Shortly afterward, Atreus married Pelopia, not knowing she was his niece. When Aegisthus was born, Atreus accepted him as his own son. Aegisthus later learned his true identity and, urged by Thyestes, killed Atreus. While Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, was away fighting in the Trojan War, Aegisthus became the lover of Queen Clytemnestra. He helped Clytemnestra kill her husband upon his return from Troy. Together with the queen, Aegisthus then ruled Mycenae for seven years; he was murdered by Agamemnon's son Orestes.
Aegyptus
In Greek mythology, king of Arabia and Egypt, which he conquered and named for himself. He was the twin brother of DanaŁs, who became king of Argos.
Aello
Aello was one of the harpies.
Aeneas
In Roman mythology, the son of Anchises, a Trojan prince, and Venus, goddess of love. After the capture of Troy by the Greeks, Aeneas escaped from the fallen city with the help of his mother. Carrying his aged father on his back and leading his little son by the hand, Aeneas made his way to the seacoast. In the confusion of flight, his wife was left behind. A long, adventure-filled voyage took Aeneas to Thrace, Delos, Crete, and Sicily, where his father died. The goddess Juno, who had always hated Aeneas and wanted to prevent him from founding Rome, which she knew to be his destiny, tried to drown him in a violent storm. He and his crew were cast up on the African coast, where they were welcomed by Dido, the beautiful queen of Carthage. Dido fell in love with Aeneas and begged him to remain. When he refused and set sail, she took her own life in despair. After several years of wandering, Aeneas reached Italy and the mouth of the Tiber. There he was hospitably received by Latinus, king of Latium. He became betrothed to Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus, but before he could marry her, Juno caused Turnus, king of the Rutuli and a rejected suitor of Lavinia, to make war against Aeneas and Latinus. The war was resolved by hand-to-hand combat, in which Turnus was defeated and slain by Aeneas. Aeneas then ruled for several years in Latium and, by marrying Lavinia, accomplished the union of Trojans and Latins that would one day produce the Roman people. The great Roman epic the Aeneid, by Vergil, tells the story of Aeneas's perilous wanderings in detail and ends with the death of Turnus.
Aeolus
name of two figures in Greek mythology. The best known was keeper of the winds. He lived on the floating island Aeolia with his six sons and six daughters. The god Zeus had given him the power to still and arouse the winds. When the Greek hero Odysseus visited Aeolus, he was welcomed as an honored guest. As a parting gift Aeolus gave him a favoring wind and a leather bag filled with all the winds. Odysseus's sailors, thinking the bag contained gold, opened it and were at once swept back to Aeolia. There Aeolus refused to help them again. Another Aeolus in Greek mythology was the king of Thessaly. He was the son of Hellen, ancestor of the Hellenes, the ancient Greek peoples. Aeolus was himself the ancestor of the Aeolian Greeks.
AŽrope
See Atreus; Thyestes.
Asculapius
See Asclepius.
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, king of Mycenae, and commander of the Greek forces in the Trojan War. He was the son of Atreus and suffered the curse laid on his house (see Atreus, House of). When the Greeks had assembled in Aulis for their voyage to Troy, they were held back by adverse winds. To calm the winds, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis. His quarrel with Achilles over the captive princess Briseis and the consequences of that quarrel form much of the plot of Homer's Iliad. After a ten-year siege, Troy fell and Agamemnon returned in triumph to Mycenae. With him came the Trojan princess Cassandra, who had been awarded to him by the victorious Greek army. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife, greeted him with protestations of love, but while he was in his bath she killed him with the assistance of her lover, Aegisthus. His death was avenged seven years later by his son Orestes. The story of Agamemnon's death is told in the first play of the trilogy Oresteia, by ancient Greek poet Aeschylus.
Ajax
In Greek mythology, mighty warrior who fought in the Trojan War. He was the son of Telamon, king of Salamis, and led the Salaminian forces to Troy. An enormous man, slow in speech but unshakable in battle, Ajax was called "bulwark of the Achaeans" by Homer. Angered because he was not awarded the armor of the dead Achilles, Ajax resolved to kill the Greek leaders Agamemnon and Menelaus. To prevent this, the goddess Athena struck him with madness. In his delirium, Ajax committed suicide by falling on his sword.
Ajax the Lesser
In Greek mythology, chieftain from Locris in central Greece. He fought in the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, he violated the temple of Athena by dragging the prophet Cassandra from the altar of the goddess. Athena appealed to the sea god Poseidon to avenge the sacrilege. When the Greeks sailed for home, Poseidon sent a great tempest. Ajax was shipwrecked, but managed to swim to shore. Clinging to a jagged rock, he boasted that he was a man whom the sea could not drown. Angered by his words, Poseidon split the rock with his trident, and Ajax was swept away by the waves.
Alcaeus
Alcaeus was a son of Perseus and Andromeda.
Alcides
Alcides is an alternative name for Hercules.
Alcestis
In Greek mythology, daughter of Pelias, king of Iolcus in Thessaly. She married Admetus, king of Pherae, whose herds the god Apollo was required to tend as punishment for killing the Cyclopes. During this period of servitude, Apollo and Admetus became friends. When it was time for Admetus to die, Apollo persuaded the Fates to let him live if he could persuade another to die in his place. Alcestis willingly died to spare Admetus's life. Later, Hercules rescued her from Hades.
Alcmaeon
In Greek mythology, son of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle. After Amphiaraus was killed in the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes, Alcmaeon led the Epigoni (the sons of the Seven) in a second expedition. To avenge his father's death, on his return home he killed his mother, because she had coerced her husband to go on the expedition. He afterwards went mad and wandered from place to place, haunted by the avenging goddesses, the Erinyes, until he took refuge at Psophis in Arcadia. There, he married Arsinoe, the king's daughter. When the land was cursed with barrenness because of his presence, he fled to the mouth of the Achelous River and married Callirrhoe, daughter of the river god. The king and his sons pursued Alcmaeon and killed him.
Alcmene
See Amphitryon; Hercules.
Amazons
In Greek mythology, a race of warlike women who excluded men from their society. The Amazons occasionally had sexual relations with men of neighboring states, and all male children born to them were either sent to live with their fathers or killed. The girls were trained as archers for war, and the custom of burning off the right breast was practiced to facilitate bending the bowóhence the name Amazon, derived from the Greek word for breastless. In art, however, in which they are frequently represented, they are depicted as beautiful women with no apparent mutilation. Ancient art, such as that on temple friezes, vases, and sarcophagi, usually presents them in battle scenes. According to legend, they were almost constantly at war with Greece and fought other nations as well. According to one version, they were allied with the Trojans, and during the siege of Troy their queen was slain by the Greek warrior Achilles. Some scholars who attribute a historical foundation to the legends identify the country of the Amazons with Scythia or Asia Minor on the shores of the Black Sea.
Ambrosia
In Greek mythology, ambrosia was the food of the gods which was supposed to confer eternal life upon all who ate it.
Amor
Roman god of love. (Cupid)
Amphion
In Greek mythology, Amphion was a son of Zeus and Antiope. He was the husband of Niobe. Amphion had great skill in music which he was taught by Hermes. He helped build the walls of Thebes, the stones moving themselves into position at the sound of his lyre.
Amphitrite
In Greek mythology, sea goddess, the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, or by another account, Nereus and Doris, and wife of Poseidon. In sculpture, she often appears sitting next to Poseidon in a chariot drawn by Tritons. She was the Greek goddess of the sea and the rightful wife of Poseidon. She had care of the sea's creatures and could stir the waves and hurl them against rocks and cliffs.
Amphitryon
In Greek mythology, prince of Tiryns; Amphitryon was King of Thebes, son of Alcaeus. He married Alcmene, daughter of King Electryon of Mycenae. During his absence on a military expedition, the god Zeus visited Alcmene disguised as Amphitryon. Alcmene gave birth to twin sons: Hercules, the son of Zeus, and Iphicles, the son of Amphitryon.
Amymone
Amymone was a daughter of Danaus. She and her sisters were sent to search for water when Poseidon caused a drought in the district of Argos. Whilst searching she threw a spear at a dear, missed it and hit a satyr which pursued her. She called to Poseidon for help. He came, drove off the satyr and produced a perennial spring for her at Lerna, where he met her.
Anadyomene
Anadyomene is a name of Aphrodite when she was represented as rising from the sea.
Anchises
See Aeneas.
Androcles
In Roman mythology, Androcles was a Roman slave who fled from a cruel master into the African desert, where he encountered a crippled lion and took a thorn from its paw. The lion later recognized the recaptured slave in the arena and spared his life. The emperor Tiberius was said to have freed them both.
Andromache
In Greek mythology, wife of Hector, the Trojan hero. Her husband was slain by the Greek warrior Achilles shortly before Troy was captured by the Greeks in the Trojan War. Astyanax, Andromache's only son, was hurled from the battlements of the city, and Andromache was given to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, as a prize of war. She bore Neoptolemus three sons, and after he was slain at Delphi, she married Helenus, brother of Hector and king of Epirus.
Andromeda
In Greek mythology, princess of Ethiopia, daughter of Cepheus. Her mother, Cassiopeia, angered the god Poseidon by boasting that she herself was more beautiful than the sea nymphs, the Nereids. As punishment, Poseidon sent a horrible sea monster to ravage the land. The Ethiopians learned from an oracle that they would be freed of the monster only if they offered Andromeda as a sacrifice. The maiden was chained to a rock on the seashore, but was rescued by the hero Perseus, who slew the monster and claimed the hand of Andromeda as his reward.
Antaeus
the giant son of Poseidon and Ge. He was invincible so long as he remained in contact with the earth. Hercules killed him by picking him up so that his feet were off the ground and then stifling him.
Anteros
In Greek mythology, Anteros was the god of mutual love. He was said to punish those who did not return the love of others.
Anthesteria
Anthesteria was a Greek festival held each year in honour of the gods, particularly Bacchus and to celebrate the beginning of spring.
Antigone
In Greek mythology, daughter of Oedipus, king of Thebes, and Queen Jocasta. Antigone accompanied her father into exile but returned to Thebes after his death. Oedipus left the throne of Thebes to his sons, Eteocles and Polynices, Antigone's brothers. The two came into conflict over who should rule, and after Eteocles succeeded in establishing himself in power, Polynices led the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes to unseat his brother. In the course of the siege, Eteocles and Polynices killed each other. The new king, Creon, gave Eteocles an honorable burial but ordered that the body of Polynices, whom he regarded as a traitor, remain where it had fallen. Antigone, believing divine law must take precedence over earthly decrees, buried her brother. Creon condemned her to be buried alive. She hanged herself in the tomb, and her grief-stricken lover, Haemon, Creon's son, killed himself. Antigone was the subject of plays by ancient Greek playwright Sophocles and 20th-century French playwright Jean Anouilh.
Antilochus
In Greek mythology, Antilochus was a son of Nestor. He was a hero of the Trojan war and was renowned for his speed of foot. He was killed by Memnon.
Antiope
In Greek mythology, Antiope was a daughter of Nycteus, King of Thebes. Zeus was attracted by her beauty and came to her in the guise of a Satyr. Antiope conceived twins by Zeus, and scared of her father's wrath fled to Sicyon where she married King Epopeus.
Aphrodisia
Aphrodisia was the festival in celebration of Aphrodite celebrated throughout Greece and Cyprus.
Aphrodite
In Greek mythology, the goddess of love and beauty and the counterpart of the Roman goddess Venus. In Homeric legend she is said to be the daughter of Zeus and Dione, one of Zeus's consorts, but in the Theogony of Hesiod she is described as having sprung from the foam of the sea, and etymologically her name may mean "foam-risen." According to Homer, Aphrodite is the wife of Hephaestus, the lame and ugly god of fire. Her lovers include Ares, god of war, who in later mythology was represented as her husband. She was the rival of Persephone, queen of the underworld, for the love of the beautiful Greek youth Adonis. Perhaps the most famous legend about Aphrodite concerns the cause of the Trojan War. Eris, the personification of discordóthe only goddess not invited to the wedding of King Peleus and the sea nymph Thetisóresentfully tossed into the banquet hall a golden apple on which were inscribed the words "for the fairest." When Zeus refused to judge between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, the three goddesses who claimed the apple, they asked Paris, prince of Troy, to make the award. Each goddess offered Paris a bribe: Hera, that he would be a powerful ruler; Athena, that he would achieve great military fame; and Aphrodite, that he should have the fairest woman in the world. Paris declared Aphrodite the fairest and chose as his prize Helen of Troy, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris's abduction of Helen led to the Trojan War. Probably of Near Eastern origin, Aphrodite was identified in early Greek religious belief with the Phoenician goddess Astarte and was known under a variety of cult titles, including Aphrodite Urania, queen of the heavens, and Aphrodite Pandemos, goddess of the whole people.
Apollo
In Greek mythology, son of the god Zeus and Leto, daughter of a Titan. He also bore the epithets "Delian" from Delos, the island of his birth, and "Pythian," from his killing of the Python, the fabled serpent that guarded a shrine on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. In Homeric legend Apollo was primarily a god of prophecy. His most important oracle was at Delphi, the site of his victory over the Python. He sometimes gave the gift of prophecy to mortals whom he loved, such as the Trojan princess Cassandra. Apollo was a gifted musician who delighted the gods with his performance on the lyre. He was also a master archer and a fleet-footed athlete, credited with having been the first victor in the Olympian Games. His twin sister, Artemis, was the guardian of young women, and Apollo was the special protector of young men. He was also the god of agriculture and cattle and of light and truth. He taught humans the art of healing (see Asclepius). Some tales depict Apollo as stern or cruel. According to Homer's Iliad, Apollo answered the prayers of the priest Chryses to obtain the release of his daughter from the Greek general Agamemnon by shooting fiery, pestilential arrows into the Greek army. He also abducted and ravished the young Athenian princess Creusa and abandoned her and the child born to them. Perhaps because of his beauty, Apollo was represented in ancient art more frequently than any other deity.
Arachne
In Greek mythology, a young girl who was so skilled in the art of weaving that she dared to challenge the goddess Athena, a patron of the arts and crafts, to a contest. While Athena wove a tapestry depicting the gods and goddesses in all their splendor, Arachne wove one illustrating their romances. Furious over the perfection of the girl's work, Athena tore it to shreds, and Arachne hanged herself in grief. Out of pity, however, Athena loosened the rope, turning it into a cobweb, and transformed Arachne into a spider.
Arcadia
Arcadia was a green mountainous isolated region in the centre of Peloponnese inhabited by shepherds and peasants.
Ares
In Greek mythology, god of war and son of Zeus, king of the gods, and his wife, Hera. (Ares was the Greek god of storms and tempests. He became symbolic with storms and turmoil in human relationships and hence to being the god of war.) The Romans identified him with Mars, also a god of war. Aggressive and sanguinary, Ares personified the brutal nature of war. He was unpopular with both gods and humans. Among the deities associated with Ares were his consort, Aphrodite, goddess of love, and such minor deities as Deimos (Fear) and Phobos (Rout), who accompanied him in battle. Although fierce and warlike, Ares was not invincible, even against mortals. The worship of Ares, believed to have originated in Thrace, was not extensive in ancient Greece, and where it existed, it lacked social or moral significance. Ares was an ancestral deity of Thebes and had a temple at Athens, at the foot of the Areopagus, or Hill of Ares.
Arethusa
In Greek mythology, a wood nymph, the favorite of the nature goddess Artemis. One day, while Arethusa was bathing in a stream belonging to the river god Alpheus, Alpheus appeared and proclaimed his love for her. Arethusa fled under the ocean to the island of Ortygia, where Artemis transformed her into a fountain. But Alpheus pursued her beneath the sea and was himself changed into a river whose waters united with those of the fountain. In ancient times, it was thought that the Alpheus River ran under the sea from Greece and emerged in the fountain of Arethusa in the Sicilian harbor of Syracuse.
Argonauts
In Greek mythology, the band of heroes who sailed on the ship Argo to obtain the Golden Fleece. The leader of the expedition was Jason, son of Aeson, king of Iolcus in Thessaly. Aeson was deposed by his half brother Pelias, who then tried to prevent Jason from claiming the throne. To this end, he persuaded Jason to undertake the dangerous quest for the Golden Fleece, which was held by AeŽtes, king of Colchis, a region located at the eastern end of the Euxine (Black) Sea. Jason assembled 50 of the noblest young men of Greece to accompany him on the voyage. The group that was chosen included Hercules, Orpheus, Castor and Pollux, and Peleus. The Argo sailed from Iolcus to the island of Lemnos, and on to the Euxine Sea by way of Mysia, an area east of the Aegean Sea, and Thrace. Early in the voyage the crew lost Hercules, who left the ship to search for Hylas, his friend and armor bearer. The Argonauts saved a Thracian king, Phineus, from starvation caused by the Harpies, flying creatures with heads of women, who were carrying off and befouling his food. In gratitude, Phineus told them how to pass through the Symplegades, the rocks that guarded the entrance to the Euxine Sea by clashing against each other when anything went between them. As Phineus had instructed them, the Argonauts released a dove that flew between the Symplegades. As the rocks clanged together and began to return to their positions, the Argo sailed swiftly through. When the ship finally reached Colchis, AeŽtes refused to relinquish the fleece unless Jason could first yoke and plow a field with two fire-breathing, brass-hoofed bulls. He was then to sow a field with dragon teeth and vanquish the armed men that would spring up from them. Helped by AeŽtes' daughter, the sorceress Medea, who had fallen in love with him, Jason accomplished these tasks and carried off the fleece. Medea, fleeing with him, slew her brother, Apsyrtus, to delay the pursuit of her father. On the homeward voyage the Argo safely passed between the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis. Sea nymphs, sent by the goddess Hera, saved the ship from destruction in a storm off the coast of Libya. From there the Argo sailed to Crete and then home to Iolcus.
Argus
In Greek mythology, a 100-eyed giant, also called Panoptes (Greek for "the all-seeing"). Argus was assigned to guard Io, the mistress of Zeus, by Zeus's jealous wife Hera, after Zeus had changed Io into a heifer to conceal her from Hera. The god Hermes, dispatched by Zeus to rescue Io, slew Argus by lulling him to sleep with music and then severing his head. In one version of the story, Argus subsequently became a peacock; in another, Hera transplanted his eyes onto the peacock's tail. Argus was also the name of the builder of the Argo, the ship that carried the Greek hero Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece (see Argonauts). Also known by the name Argus was the old dog of Odysseus, Greek leader during the Trojan War. When his master returned to Ithaca after 19 years, Argus recognized him and promptly died.
Ariadne
In Greek mythology, the daughter of Minos, king of Crete, and PasiphaŽ, daughter of Helios, the sun god. The hero Theseus came to Crete as one of the 14 victims that the Athenians were annually required to offer to the Minotaur, a monsteróhalf bull, half humanóthat was confined in the mazes of the labyrinth. When Ariadne saw Theseus, she fell in love with him and offered to help him if he would promise to take her back to Athens and marry her. She then gave him a ball of thread, which she had obtained from Daedalus, the designer of the labyrinth. Fastening one end of the thread to the door and unwinding it as he went along, Theseus was able to find and kill the Minotaur and then to escape from the maze by rewinding the thread. Taking Ariadne with them, Theseus and his companions fled over the seas toward Athens. On the way they stopped at the island of Naxos. According to one legend, Theseus deserted Ariadne, sailing without her while she was asleep on the island; the god Dionysus found her and married her. According to another legend, Theseus set Ariadne ashore to recover from seasickness while he returned to the ship to perform some necessary task. A strong wind then carried him out to sea. When he was finally able to return, he found that Ariadne had died.
Arimaspians
In Greek mythology the Arimaspians were a one-eyed people who conducted a perpetual war against the griffins in an attempt to steal the griffin's gold.
Aristaeus
In Greek mythology, son of the god Apollo and the nymph Cyrene. He was worshiped as the protector of hunters, herdsmen, and flocks and as the inventor of beekeeping and olive culture. When Aristaeus tried to seduce Eurydice, the wife of the celebrated musician Orpheus, she fled from him and received a fatal snake bite. The nymphs punished him by causing all of his bees to die; but he appeased the nymphs with a sacrifice of cattle, from whose carcasses emerged new swarms of bees. Aristaeus was learned in the arts of healing and prophecy, and he wandered over many lands sharing his knowledge and curing the sick. He was widely honored as a beneficent god and was often represented as a youthful shepherd carrying a lamb.
Artemis
In Greek mythology, one of the principal goddesses, counterpart of the Roman goddess Diana. She was the daughter of the god Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of the god Apollo. She was chief hunter to the gods and goddess of hunting and of wild animals, especially bears. Artemis was also the goddess of childbirth, of nature, and of the harvest. As the moon goddess, she was sometimes identified with the goddesses Selene and Hecate. Although traditionally the friend and protector of youth, especially young women, Artemis prevented the Greeks from sailing to Troy during the Trojan War until they sacrificed a maiden to her. According to some accounts, just before the sacrifice, she rescued the victim, Iphigenia. Like Apollo, Artemis was armed with a bow and arrows, which she often used to punish mortals who angered her. In other legends, she is praised for giving young women who died in childbirth a swift and painless death.
Aruspices (Haruspices)
a class of priests in ancient Rome. Their job was to foretell the future from the entrails of sacrificial victims.
Ascanius
- a son of Aeneas and Creusa. He escaped from Troy with his father.
Asclepius
In Greek mythology, the god of medicine. He was a son of the god Apollo and Coronis, a beautiful maiden of Thessaly. Angry because Coronis was unfaithful to him, Apollo killed her and tore the unborn Asclepius from her womb. He later sent Asclepius to the centaur Chiron to be raised. Asclepius learned all that Chiron knew about the art of healing and soon became a great physician. Because Asclepius threatened the natural order by raising people from the dead, the god Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt. The cult of Asclepius was centered in Epidaurus, but it was popular throughout the Greco-Roman world. The sanctuaries of Asclepius functioned as health resorts, where therapeutic regimens such as exercise and diets were prescribed. The most important practice associated with the cures was the ritual of incubation, in which afflicted people slept within a temple or sacred enclosure in the hope that the god would come to them in dreams and prescribe cures for their illnesses.
Ashtoreth
See Astarte.
Astarte
Greek and Roman name of Ashtoreth, the supreme female divinity of the Phoenician nations, the goddess of love and fruitfulness. Like that of Baal, the corresponding male divinity, the name is frequently found in the earlier books of the Old Testament in the plural form Ashtaroth; not until the time of King Solomon of Israel (10th century BC) did the singular form Ashtoreth occur. She symbolized the female principle in all its aspects, as Baal symbolized maleness. Astarte has been identified with various Greek goddesses: the goddess of the moon, Selene; the goddess of wild nature, Artemis; and the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. The Babylonian and Assyrian counterpart of Astarte was Ishtar.
Astraea
- In Greek mythology Astraea was the daughter of Zeus and Themis, the goddess of justice.
Atalanta
In Greek mythology, the daughter of Schoeneus of Boeotia or of Iasus of Arcadia. Disappointed that she was not a boy, her father abandoned her on a mountainside shortly after her birth. She was rescued and nursed by a she-bear and later raised by hunters. By the time she had grown up, she was a skilled hunter herself. The feat for which she became especially famous was her participation in the boar hunt of Calydon, a city of Aetolia in central Greece. According to another legend, Atalanta was a fleet-footed runner who offered to marry anyone who could defeat her in a race. Those who lost were killed. The youth Hippomenes (or Melanion) won with the aid of Aphrodite, goddess of love, who gave him three golden apples of the Hesperides. He dropped them one by one, and, by stopping to pick them up, Atalanta lost the race. She and Hippomenes were later turned into lions because of an affront to the gods. Parthenopaeus, their son, joined the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes.
Ate
In Greek mythology, daughter of the god Zeus and Eris, goddess of strife. Ate was the goddess of infatuation, mischief and guilt. Ate was the goddess of rash actions and their consequences. She would mislead men into actions which would be the ruin of them. Zeus banished her from heaven after she had tricked him into taking a thoughtless oath. She is said to have been responsible for the bitter quarrel between the Greek heroes Agamemnon and Achilles during the Trojan War.
Athena
one of the most important goddesses in Greek mythology. In Roman mythology she became identified with the goddess Minerva. Also known as Pallas Athena. Athena sprang full-grown and armored from the forehead of the god Zeus and was his favorite child. He entrusted her with his shield, adorned with the hideous head of Medusa the Gorgon, his buckler, and his principal weapon, the thunderbolt. A virgin goddess, she was called Parthenos ("the maiden"). Her major temple, the Parthenon, was in Athens, which, according to legend, became hers as a result of her gift of the olive tree to the Athenian people. Athena was primarily the goddess of the Greek cities, of industry and the arts, and, in later mythology, of wisdom; she was also goddess of war. Athena was the strongest supporter, among the gods, of the Greek side in the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, however, the Greeks failed to respect the sanctity of an altar to Athena at which the Trojan prophet Cassandra sought shelter. As punishment, storms sent by the god of the sea, Poseidon, at Athena's request destroyed most of the Greek ships returning from Troy. Athena was also a patron of the agricultural arts and of the crafts of women, especially spinning and weaving. Among her gifts to man were the inventions of the plow and the flute and the arts of taming animals, building ships, and making shoes. She was often associated with birds, especially the owl.
Atlantiades
Atlantiades was another name for Hermes.
Atlantides
Atlantides was a name given to the Pleiades who were fabled to be the seven daughters of Atlas.
Atlantis
an island continent, said to have sunk following an earthquake. The Greek philosopher Plato created an imaginary early history for it and described it as a utopia. In the tradition of antiquity, Atlantis was a large island in the Western Ocean (the ocean to the west of the known world), near the Pillars of Hercules. The first recorded accounts of Atlantis, which is said to have been engulfed by the ocean as the result of an earthquake, appear in Timaeus and Critias, two dialogues by Plato. According to the account in Timaeus, the island was described to the Athenian statesman Solon by an Egyptian priest, who maintained that Atlantis was larger than Asia Minor and Libya combined. The priest further revealed that a flourishing civilization centered on Atlantis reputedly about the 10th millennium BC, and that the nation had conquered all the Mediterranean peoples except the Athenians. In Critias, Plato records the history of Atlantis and depicts the nation as a utopian commonwealth. Although Plato's descriptive material and history are probably fictional, the possibility exists that he had access to records no longer extant. The tradition that a lost island such as Atlantis once flourished has always fascinated the popular imagination, and the tradition continues to survive. In the 20th century some oceanographers have advanced the theory that Atlantis was once a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. The island, called ThŪra, was buried by a volcanic eruption about 1500 BC. Other theories have been based on archaeological discoveries. Scholars have variously identified the island with Crete, the Canary Islands, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and America.
Atlas
In Greek mythology, son of the Titan Iapetus and the nymph Clymene, and brother of Prometheus. Atlas fought with the Titans in the war against the deities of Mount Olympus. As punishment, he was condemned to bear forever on his back the earth and the heavens and on his shoulders the great pillar that separates them. Atlas was the father of the Hesperides, the nymphs who guarded the tree of golden apples, and Hercules sought his help in performing one of his labors. Hercules offered to assume Atlas's burden if Atlas would obtain the golden apples for him. Atlas happily agreed, thinking to rid himself forever of the wearying load. After Atlas returned with the apples, Hercules asked him to take the burden back for a moment while he arranged a pad to ease the pressure on his shoulders. Atlas assumed the load again, and Hercules departed with the apples. Because the figure of Atlas supporting the earth was often used in the title pages of early map collections, the name now denotes a volume of maps. In classical architecture, atlantes (the plural form of atlas) are male figures used as columns to support a superstructure. Atlantes are the male counterpart of caryatids and are sometimes also called telamones.
Atreus
In Greek mythology, son of Pelops. When the king of Mycenae died without an heir, the notables of the kingdom chose Atreus as their new king. Atreus's brother Thyestes, a rival for the throne, seduced AŽrope, wife of Atreus and mother of Agamemnon and Menelaus. In revenge, Atreus murdered two of Thyestes' sons and served them boiled in a cauldron to their father at a banquet. When Thyestes had eaten the loathsome meal, Atreus ordered a dish holding the bloody heads of the children brought in. Thyestes laid a curse on his brother. Atreus later married Pelopia, daughter of Thyestes, not knowing her true identity. Her son Aegisthus killed Atreus at the command of Thyestes.
Atreus, House of
In Greek mythology, royal family of Mycenae, named for Atreus, who was elected king by the Mycenaean notables. The ill-fated house of Atreus was a favorite subject of ancient Greek writers, including Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Pindar. The cause of the misfortunes that befell the house was the behavior of Tantalus, king of Lydia, who offended the gods and was punished forever in Tartarus. His son Pelops was cursed by the charioteer Myrtilus after accepting Myrtilus's assistance in gaining the hand of Hippodamia in marriage and then throwing him into the sea to drown. Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, was punished by the gods for her arrogance. Atreus, son of Pelops, and his children and grandchildren felt the full weight of divine wrath. First, Atreus's brother Thyestes seduced the wife of Atreus. In revenge, Atreus served the boiled flesh of two sons of Thyestes to their father at a banquet. Thyestes' third son, Aegisthus, later killed Atreus to avenge this deed. Of Atreus's sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus were the most famous. The abduction of Menelaus's wife, Helen of Troy, was the cause of the Trojan War. After the war, Menelaus and Helen were reconciled and, following many adventures, returned to Sparta, where they lived happily. Agamemnon, on the other hand, was killed on the day of his triumphant homecoming by his wife, Clytemnestra, and Aegisthus, whom she had taken as her lover. Agamemnon's death was avenged seven years later by his children Electra and Orestes. When Orestes was at last acquitted of blood guilt in the murder of his mother by the Areopagus in Athens, the curse on the house of Atreus was finally lifted.
Augean Stables
In Greek mythology, the stables owned by Augeas, who in some versions of the myth is a son of the god Helios and king of Elis in northwest Peloponnesus. Augeas possessed an immense herd of cattle, including 12 white bulls sacred to Helios, kept in stalls that had not been cleaned for years. One of the 12 labors imposed on the Greek hero Hercules was cleaning the stables, unaided, in a single day. He did this by diverting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to run through them. Augeas had promised Hercules a tenth of his herd as payment but did not keep his word. Hercules then sent an army against him, slaying Augeas and his sons.
Aurora
Aurora was goddess of the dawn. She was the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, and sister of Helios and Selene.
Autolycus
In Greek mythology, Autolycus was an accomplished thief and trickster. He was a son of the god Hermes, who gave him the power of invisibility.
Bacchanlia
See Bacchus.
Bacchantes
See Bacchus.
Bacchus
See Dionysus
Basalas
Aee Achemon
Bateia
In Greek mythology, Bateia was a daughter of Teucer. She was married to Dardanus by whom she had two sons, Ilus and Erichthonius.
Baucis
See Philemon and Baucis.
Bellerophon
In Greek mythology, the son of Glaucus, king of Corinth; he was the hero who tamed the winged horse Pegasus with the aid of a bridle given him by the goddess Athena. Falling in love with the wife of King Proetus of Argos, Bellerophon aroused the jealously of Proetus, who sent him to his father-in-law Iobates, king of Lycia, with a message requesting that the bearer be slain. The king, having entertained Bellerophon before he read the message, was afraid to anger the god Zeus by carrying out a request that would break the traditional bond between host and guest. Instead of killing Bellerophon, he asked him to kill the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster, which the hero did with the help of Pegasus. He also defeated the Solymi and the Amazons, two warrior tribes. Iobates was impressed by Bellerophon's superhuman courage and married him to his daughter. After a time of prosperity, Bellerophon defied the gods by trying to ride Pegasus up to Olympus, but, thrown to the earth by the horse, he wandered in misery until he died.
Bellona
In Roman mythology, the goddess of war. She is often identified with the Greek war goddess Enyo. Although she was an ancient goddess, Bellona had no flamen, or dedicated priest, and no festival in her honor. Her temple, which was dedicated in Rome in 296 BC, stood in the Campus Martius near the altar of Mars outside the gates of the city. Here the Senate met to receive foreign ambassadors. In front of Bellona's temple stood the columna bellica, or column of war. Here the fetial priests, who supervised the religious aspect of Rome's international affairs, performed ceremonies for the declaration of war.
Beltaine
Beltaine is the name of the feast of the spring equinox.
Bia
In Greek mythology, Bia was a son of Styx and the Titan Pallas. Bia was the personification of might and force.
Boan
Boan was another name for Dana. In this version of events, Boan visited a sacred well which, to punish her for breaking the law, rose up and pursued her to the sea and thus became the river Boyne where lived the salmon of knowledge which fed on nuts dropped from the nine hazel trees at the water's edge.
Boreas
Boreas was the north wind god. He was the son of Astraeus and Aurora.
Briseis
See Achilles; Agamemnon.
Bromius
Bromius was another name for Dionysus.
Bucentaur
The bucentaur was a mythical creature, half man and half ox
Cadmus
In Greek mythology, Phoenician prince who founded the city of Thebes in Greece. When his sister Europa was kidnapped by the god Zeus, Cadmus was ordered by his father, the king of Phoenicia, to find her or not to return home. Unable to locate his sister, he consulted the oracle at Delphi and was instructed to abandon his search and instead to found a city. Upon leaving Delphi, the oracle advised, Cadmus would come upon a heifer, follow her, and build the city where she lay down to rest. Near the site of the new city Cadmus and his companions found a sacred grove guarded by a dragon. After the beast killed his companions, Cadmus slew the dragon and, on the advice of the goddess Athena, planted its teeth in the ground. Armed men sprang from the teeth and fought each other until all but five were killed. Cadmus enlisted the help of the victors in founding the citadel of the new city of Thebes, and they became the heads of its noble families. Before Cadmus could enjoy his new home, however, he had to do penance for killing the dragon, which was sacred to Ares, god of war. After eight years of servitude, Cadmus was made king of Thebes and was given Harmonia, the daughter of Ares and of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as his wife. Although Thebes prospered under Cadmus's rule, misfortune overcame his descendants. In his old age, after two of his daughters and two of his grandsons had suffered violent deaths, Cadmus fled with his wife to Illyria, where at his death he and Harmonia were changed into serpents. According to tradition, Cadmus introduced the alphabet into Greece.
Caduceus
symbolic staff surmounted by two wings and entwined with two snakes. Among the ancient Greeks the caduceus was carried by heralds and ambassadors as a badge of office and a mark of personal inviolability, because it was the symbol of Hermes, the messenger of the gods. According to Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid, the Greek god Apollo gave the staff to Hermes in return for the lyre. In Roman mythology the symbol is associated with the god Mercury. The staff of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, which was entwined by a single snake, was also called a caduceus. The caduceus has been adopted as a symbol by the medical profession; it is also the emblem of the medical branches of the United States Army and Navy.
Calchas
In Greek mythology, the most famous soothsayer among the Greeks at the time of the Trojan War. When the Greek fleet was stranded at Aulis because of a lack of favorable wind, Calchas revealed that the goddess Artemis was offended and that King Agamemnon must sacrifice his virgin daughter Iphigenia before the winds would rise. Calchas predicted the 10-year siege of Troy, and shortly before the conclusion of the war, when the Greeks were stricken with a plague, explained that the god Apollo was angry because Agamemnon had taken as his mistress the daughter of one of Apollo's priests. Calchas was highly respected because of the accuracy of his prophecies, and at his suggestion the Greek commanders built the Trojan horse by which the Greek forces gained access to the city.
Calliope
Calliope was the muse of heroic poems. She was the chief of the muses. She carried a writing tablet and stylus.
Callisto
a daughter of Lycaon. She was one of Artemis' huntresses. She bore Arcas to Zeus. To conceal their affair, Zeus turned her into a bear.
Calypso
In Greek mythology, a sea nymph and daughter of the Titan Atlas. Calypso lived alone on the mythical island of Ogygia in the Ionian Sea. When the Greek hero Odysseus was shipwrecked on Ogygia, she fell in love with him and kept him a virtual prisoner for seven years. Although she promised him immortality and eternal youth if he would stay with her, she could not make him overcome his desire to return home. At the bidding of the god Zeus, she finally released Odysseus and gave him materials to build a raft to leave the island. She died of grief after he left.
Cassandra
In Greek mythology, daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. The god Apollo, who loved Cassandra, granted her the gift of prophecy, but when she refused to return his love, Apollo made the gift useless by decreeing that no one would believe her predictions. Cassandra warned the Trojans of many dangers, including the wooden horse by which the Greeks entered the city, but she was dismissed as a madwoman. After the fall of Troy, she was dragged from her sanctuary in the temple of the goddess Athena by Ajax the Lesser and brought to the Greek camp. When the spoils were divided, Cassandra was awarded to King Agamemnon as his slave and mistress. Cassandra warned him that he would be killed if he returned to Greece; again she was not believed. Upon their arrival in Mycenae she and Agamemnon were murdered by Clytemnestra, queen of Mycenae and wife of Agamemnon.
Cassiopeia
In Greek mythology, the wife of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia. When Cassiopeia boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids, these water nymphs complained to Poseidon, the god of the sea, who sent a sea monster to ravage the land. Poseidon demanded that Cassiopeia's daughter Andromeda be punished for her mother's vanity by being sacrificed to the monster, but the girl was rescued by the hero Perseus. According to tradition, at her death Cassiopeia was changed into the constellation that bears her name.
Castor and Polydeuces
In Greek and Roman mythology, the twin sons of Leda, wife of the Spartan king Tyndareus. Polydeuces is also called Pollux. They were the brothers of Clytemnestra, queen of Mycenae, and Helen of Troy. Although both boys were known as the Dioscuri, or Sons of Zeus, in most accounts only Polydeuces was held to be immortal, having been conceived when Zeus appeared to Leda in the form of a swan. Castor, his fraternal twin, was considered the mortal son of Tyndareus. Both were worshiped as deities in the Roman world, however, and were regarded as the special protectors of sailors and warriors. Living just before the Trojan War, the brothers took part in many of the famous events of the day, including the Calydonian boar hunt, the expedition of the Argonauts, and the rescue of their sister Helen when she was carried off by the Greek hero Theseus. Throughout their adventures the brothers were inseparable, and when Castor was slain by Idas, a cattle owner, in a dispute about his oxen, Polydeuces was inconsolable. In response to his prayers for death for himself or immortality for his brother, Zeus reunited the brothers, allowing them to be together always, half the time in the underworld and half with the gods on Mount Olympus. According to a later legend, Castor and Polydeuces were transformed by Zeus into the constellation Gemini, or The Twins.
Cecrops
In Greek mythology, the founder of Athens and of Greek civilization. Reputed to have sprung half man, half serpent from the soil, he became the first king of Attica, which he divided into 12 communities. He established marriage and property laws, introduced bloodless sacrifice and burial of the dead, and invented writing. During his 50-year rule he arbitrated a dispute over possession of Athens between Athena and Poseidon, awarding it to Athena.
Celaeno
one of the harpies.
Celeus
In Greek mythology, Celeus was King of Eleusis and the husband of Metaneira.
Centaurs
In Greek mythology, a race of monsters believed to have inhabited the mountain regions of Thessaly and Arcadia. They were usually represented as human down to the waist, with the lower torso and legs of a horse. The centaurs were characterized by savageness and violence; they were known for their drunkenness and lust and were often portrayed as followers of Dionysus, the god of wine. The centaurs were driven from Thessaly when, in a drunken frenzy, they attempted to abduct the bride of the king of the Lapiths from her wedding feast. An exception to their bestial behavior was the centaur Chiron, who was noted for his goodness and wisdom. Several Greek heroes, including Achilles and Jason, were educated by him.
Cepheus
king of Aethiopia. He displeased Poseidon by having a beautiful daughter, Andromeda. Poseidon then sent floods and a sea monster to terrorise the area until cepheus gave his daughter as a sacrifice to the sea monster.
Cerberus
In Greek mythology, a three-headed, dragon-tailed dog that guarded the entrance to the lower world, or Hades. He was the offspring of Echidne and Typhon. The monster permitted all spirits to enter Hades, but would allow none to leave. Only a few heroes ever escaped Cerberus's guard; the great musician Orpheus charmed it with his lyre, and the Greek hero Hercules captured it bare-handed and brought it for a short time from the underworld to the regions above. In Roman mythology both the beautiful maiden Psyche and the Trojan prince Aeneas were able to pacify Cerberus with a honey cake and thus continue their journey through the underworld. Cerberus is sometimes pictured with a mane of snakes and 50 heads.
Cercyon
a son of Hephaestus. He was king near Eleusis. He challenged all travellers and wrestled them to death untill he challenged and was killed by Theseus.
Ceres
In Roman mythology, the goddess of agriculture. She and her daughter Proserpine were the counterparts of the Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone. The Greek belief that her joy at being reunited with her daughter each spring caused the earth to bring forth an abundance of fruits and grains was introduced into Rome in the 5th century BC, and her cult became extremely popular, especially with the plebeians. The word cereal is derived from her name. Her chief festival, the Cerealia, was celebrated from April 12 to 19.
Cestus
In Greek mythology, the cestus was a girdle worn by Aphrodite and which was endowered with the power of exciting love towards the wearer.
Chalybes
The Chalybes were mythical inhabitants of north Asia Minor who invented iron working.
Chaos
in one ancient Greek myth of creation, the dark, silent abyss from which all things came into existence. According to the Theogony of Hesiod, Chaos generated the solid mass of Earth, from which arose the starry, cloud-filled Heaven. Mother Earth and Father Heaven, personified respectively as Gaea and her offspring Uranus, were the parents of the Titans. Other children of Chaos include Tartatus and Eros. In a later theory Chaos is the formless matter from which the cosmos, or harmonious order, was created.
Charites
the Greek goddesses of gracefulness and the charms of beauty.
Charon
in Greek mythology, the son of Night and of Erebus, who personified the darkness under the earth through which dead souls passed to reach the home of Hades, the god of death. Charon was the aged boatman who ferried the souls of the dead across the River Styx to the gates of the underworld. He would admit to his boat only the souls of those who had received the rites of burial and whose passage had been paid with a coin placed under the tongue of the corpse. Those who had not been buried and whom Charon would not admit to his boat were doomed to wait beside the Styx for 100 years.
Charybdis
In Greek mythology, the charybdis was a whirlpool formed by a monster of the same name on one side of the narrow straits of Messina, Sicily, opposite the monster Scylla.
Cheiron
a centaur. He was a son of Cronus and Philyra. He learnt hunting and medicine from Apollo and Artemis.
Chimera
in Greek mythology, a fire-breathing monster that had the head of a lion, the body of a she-goat, and the tail of a dragon. It terrorized Lycia, a region in Asia Minor, but was finally killed by the Greek hero Bellerophon.
Cimmerians
in the poetry of Homer, a mythical people who lived in northwestern Europe, on the shores of the ocean, where perpetual darkness reigned. The name is also used to designate a historical people who settled along the northern shore of the Black Sea and presumably made several inroads into Asia Minor (the accounts are confused). The Cimmerians, driven from their homes, probably in the 8th century BC by the Scythians, overran Asia Minor; they plundered Sardis and destroyed Magnesia. After their defeat by the empire of Lydia about the 7th century BC, the Cimmerians disappeared.
Circe
in Greek mythology, a sorceress, the daughter of the sun god Helios and the sea nymph Perse. She lived on the island of Aeaea, near the west coast of Italy. With potions and incantations Circe was able to turn people into beasts. Her victims retained their reason, however, and knew what had happened to them. In the course of his wanderings, the Greek hero Odysseus visited her island with his companions, whom she turned into swine. On his way to find help for his men, Odysseus met the god Hermes, from whom he received an herb (moly) that made him immune to Circe's enchantments. He forced her to restore his companions to human form, and in amazement that anyone could resist her spell, Circe fell in love with Odysseus. He and his friends stayed with her for a year. When they finally determined to leave, she told Odysseus how to find the spirit of the Theban seer Tiresias in the underworld in order to learn from him how to conduct safely the homeward voyage.
Clio
Clio was the muse of history. She was represented by a scroll.
Clotho
See Fates.
Clytemnestra
in Greek mythology, queen of Mycenae, a city in the Pelopůnnesus, and wife of King Agamemnon. The daughter of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, and his wife Leda, she bore Agamemnon four children: Electra, Iphigenia, Orestes, and Chrysothemis. After Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia so that his ships could sail to Troy, Clytemnestra's love for her husband turned to hatred; while he led the Greek forces in the Trojan War, she took Aegisthus as her lover. When Agamemnon returned in triumph with the Trojan princess Cassandra, Clytemnestra sought revenge for the death of Iphigenia, and, with the help of Aegisthus, she killed both her husband and his Trojan mistress. She and her lover ruled for seven years until they were both slain by Orestes, who had been commanded by the god Apollo to avenge the death of his father.
Comus
Greek and Roman god of banquets.
Cornucopia
In Greek mythology, the cornucopia was one of the horns of the goat Amaltheia, which was caused by Zeus to refill itself indefinitely with food and drink.
Cratos
Cratos was a son of Uranus and Gaea. He was very strong.
Creon
in Greek mythology, brother of Jocasta, queen of Thebes. After King Oedipus was exiled, Creon served as regent of Thebes until his nephew Eteocles, Oedipus's younger son, claimed the throne. The elder son, Polynices, angered at this usurpation of his legal right, led an invading army in the battle of the Seven Against Thebes. Both brothers were killed in combat, and Creon again took command of Thebes, decreeing that all who had fought against the city would be denied burial rites. Burial of the dead was regarded as a sacred duty, and Antigone, sister of Polynices, defied Creon and buried her brother, claiming that she owed a higher obedience to the laws of the gods than to the laws of man. Enraged at her defiance of his authority, Creon ordered that his niece be buried alive. His son Haemon, who had loved Antigone, killed himself in despair at her death. In the story of Jason and Medea, the king of Corinth is named Creon.
Creusa
In Greek mythology, Creusa was the daughter of Erechtheus and wife of Xuthus. She was also loved by Apollo.
Cronus
in Greek mythology, ruler of the universe during the Golden Age. He was one of the 12 Titans and the youngest son of Uranus and Gaea, the personifications of heaven and earth. The first sons of his parents were the three Hecatonchires, the 100-handed, 50-headed monsters whom Uranus had imprisoned in a secret place. Gaea sought to rescue them and appealed for help from her other offspring, including the Cyclopes. Cronus alone accepted the challenge. He attacked Uranus and wounded him severely; Cronus thus became the ruler of the universe. Cronus and his sister-queen, Rhea, became the parents of 6 of the 12 gods and goddesses known as the Olympians. Cronus had been warned that he would be overthrown by one of his children, and he swallowed each of his first five children as soon as it was born. Rhea, however, substituted a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes for their sixth child, Zeus. Zeus was hidden in Crete, and when he was grown, with the aid of Gaea, forced Cronus to disgorge the other five children together with the stone. The stone was later removed to Delphi. Zeus and his five brothers and sisters waged war on Cronus and the other Titans. Zeus was aided by the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, whom he freed from the prison where they were kept by Cronus. Cronus and the Titans were thereafter confined in Tartarus, a cave in the deepest part of the underworld. The Roman counterpart of Cronus is Saturn, the god of sowing and seed.
Cupid
(Latin cupido, "desire"), in Roman mythology, son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart in Greek mythology was Eros, god of love. He is best known as the handsome young god who falls in love with the beautiful maiden Psyche. This story is told in The Golden Ass, a romance by the Roman writer Lucius Apuleius. In other tales he appears as a mischievous boy who indiscriminately wounds both gods and humans with his arrows, thereby causing them to fall deeply in love. Cupid is commonly represented in art as a naked, winged infant, often blindfolded, carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. He is also known as Amor and Cupido.
Curetes
In Greek mythology the Curetes were attendants of Rhea. They were supposed to have saved the infant Zeus from his father Cronus and then to have become a sort of bodyguard of the god.
Cybele
Latin name of a goddess native to Phrygia in Asia Minor and known to the Greeks as Rhea, the wife of the Titan Cronus and mother of the Olympian gods. Cybele was a goddess of nature and fertility who was worshiped in Rome as the Great Mother of the Gods. Because Cybele presided over mountains and fortresses, her crown was in the form of a city wall, and she was also known to the Romans as Mater Turrita. The cult of Cybele was directed by eunuch priests called Corybantes, who led the faithful in orgiastic rites accompanied by wild cries and the frenzied music of flutes, drums, and cymbals.
Cyclops
in Greek mythology, giants with one enormous eye in the middle of the forehead. In Hesiod, the three sonsóArges, Brontes, and Steropesóof Uranus and Gaea, the personifications of heaven and earth, were Cyclopes. They were thrown into the lower world by their brother Cronus, one of the Titans, after he dethroned Uranus. But Cronus's son, the god Zeus, released the Cyclopes from the underworld, and they, in gratitude, gave him the gifts of thunder and lightning with which he defeated Cronus and the Titans and thus became lord of the universe. In Homer's Odyssey, the Cyclopes were shepherds living in Sicily. They were a lawless, savage, and cannibalistic race fearing neither gods nor humans. The Greek hero Odysseus was trapped with his men in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus, a son of Poseidon, god of the sea. In order to escape from the cave after the giant devoured several men, Odysseus blinded him.
Daedalus
in Greek mythology, Athenian architect and inventor who designed the labyrinth for King Minos of Crete. It was built as a prison for the Minotaur, a man-eating monster that was half man and half bull. The labyrinth was so skillfully designed that no one who entered it could escape from the Minotaur. Daedalus revealed the secret of the labyrinth only to Ariadne, daughter of Minos, and she aided her lover, the Athenian hero Theseus, to slay the Minotaur and escape. In anger at the escape, Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the labyrinth. Although the prisoners could not find the exit, Daedalus made wax wings so that they could both fly out. Icarus, however, flew too near the sun; his wings melted, and he fell into the sea. Daedalus flew to Sicily, where he was welcomed by King Cocalus. Minos later pursued Daedalus but was killed by the daughters of Cocalus.
Daemons
were an order of invisible beings. Zeus assigned one daemon to each man to attend, protect and guide him.
Danaans
one of the 3 Nemedian families who survived the Fomorian victory. The brought the stone of destiny from Falias.
Danae
in Greek mythology, the daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos, and, by the god Zeus, the mother of Perseus. Acrisius shut her up in a bronze tower because of a prophecy that her son would kill his grandfather. Zeus became enamored of her and descended in a shower of gold; she gave birth to Perseus.
Danaus
in Greek mythology, the son of Belus, king of Egypt, and Anchinoe. Aegyptus, DanaŁs's twin brother, wished to settle a quarrel between them by marrying his 50 sons to the 50 daughters of DanaŁs. DanaŁs and his daughters, who opposed the arrangement, fled from Egypt to Argos, where DanaŁs became king. The young men pursued them, however, and DanaŁs finally agreed to the marriage, but gave each daughter a dagger with which to kill her husband on the wedding night. Hypermnestra, the only daughter who did not obey, was imprisoned by DanaŁs but later released. As punishment for the murders, the 49 obedient sisters, known as the DanaÔds, were condemned by the gods to the fruitless and eternal task of filling leaking jars in the underworld.
Daphne
in Greek mythology, nymph, daughter of the river god Peneus. She was a hunter who dedicated herself to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and, like the goddess, refused to marry. The god Apollo fell in love with Daphne, and when she refused his advances, he pursued her through the woods. She prayed to her father for help, and as Apollo advanced upon her, she was changed into a laurel tree (Greek daphne). Grief-stricken at her transformation, Apollo made the laurel his sacred tree.
Daphnis
in Greek mythology, the Sicilian shepherd who invented pastoral poetry, born of the union of the god Hermes with a nymph. According to one legend, Daphnis was blinded after breaking a vow of fidelity to a nymph who loved him. In another account, he loved the nymph Piplea, and to rescue her from Lityerses, king of Phrygia, Daphnis entered a reaping contest with the king. Daphnis lost the contest and was about to be beheaded by the king when the hero Hercules appeared and killed Lityerses. In one Greek pastoral poem, Daphnis is the lover of the shepherdess ChloŽ.
Dardanus
in Greek mythology, ancestor of the Trojans and son of the god Zeus and the nymph Electra. He married the daughter of Teucer, who ruled a region in Asia Minor. After Teucer's death he became ruler of the region, which he named Dardania and which was later called Troas or Troy after Tros, Dardanus's grandson. The chief city of the region was named Troy, and the town of Dardanus, adjoining Troy, preserved the name of the ancient king.
Deianira
Deianeira was the daughter of Oeonus and the wife of Hercules.
Deidamia
fell in love with Achilles and bore him Neoptolemus.
Demeter
in Greek mythology, goddess of corn and the harvest, and daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld, Demeter's grief was so great that she neglected the land; no plants grew, and famine devastated the earth. Dismayed at this situation, Zeus, the ruler of the universe, demanded that his brother Hades return Persephone to her mother. Hades agreed, but before he released the girl, he made her eat some pomegranate seeds that would force her to return to him for four months each year. In her joy at being reunited with her daughter, Demeter caused the earth to bring forth bright spring flowers and abundant fruit and grain for the harvest. However, her sorrow returned each fall when Persephone had to go back to the underworld. The desolation of the winter season and the death of vegetation were regarded as the yearly manifestation of Demeter's grief when her daughter was taken from her. Demeter and Persephone were worshiped in the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The cult spread from Sicily to Rome, where the goddesses were worshiped as Ceres and Proserpine.
Demigod
A demigod was a Greek hero. They were men who posessed god-like strength and courage and who had performed great tasks in the past.
Deucalion
in Greek mythology, son of the Titan Prometheus. Deucalion was king of Phthia in Thessaly when the god Zeus, because of the wicked ways of the human race, destroyed them by flood. For nine days and nights Zeus sent torrents of rain. Only Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha, survived drowning. They were saved because they were the only people who had led good lives and remained faithful to the laws of the gods. Having been warned by his father, Prometheus, of the approaching disaster, Deucalion built a boat, which carried him and Pyrrha safely to rest atop Mount Parnassus. The oracle at Delphia commanded them to cast the bones of their mother over their shoulders. Understanding this to mean the stones of the earth, they obeyed, and from the stones sprang a new race of people.
Dia
Alternate name for Hebe.
Diana
in Roman mythology, goddess of the moon and of the hunt. The Latin counterpart of the Greek virgin goddess Artemis, Diana was the guardian of springs and streams and the protector of wild animals. She was, in addition, especially revered by women, and was believed to grant an easy childbirth to her favorites. In art she is typically shown as a young hunter, often carrying bow and arrows. The most celebrated shrine to Diana was on Lake Nemi, near Aricia.
Dido
in Greek mythology, legendary founder and queen of Carthage, and daughter of Belus, king of Tyre. When Dido's husband was killed by her brother Pygmalion, king of Tyre, Dido fled with her followers to North Africa. She purchased the site of Carthage from a native ruler, Iarbus, who, when the new city began to prosper, threatened Dido with war unless she married him. Rather than subject either herself or her followers to these alternatives, Dido killed herself. The most famous version of Dido's story is told by Roman poet Vergil in his mythological epic the Aeneid. According to Vergil, the Trojan prince Aeneas was shipwrecked at Carthage after escaping from the sack of Troy with his father, son, and companions. Dido, who had pledged herself to celibacy after the murder of her husband, received the Trojans hospitably and eventually fell in love with Aeneas. The two began to live together as husband and wife. When it became clear that Aeneas intended to make Carthage his home, Jupiter warned him that he must leave Dido in order to continue on his destined mission and found Rome. In despair at his departure, Dido killed herself on a funeral pyre. Later, on his journeys, Aeneas encountered the ghost of Dido in Hades, but she refused to speak to him.
Dike
the attendant of justice to Nemesis.
Diomedes
in Greek mythology, king of Argos, and the son of Tydeus, one of the warriors known as the Seven Against Thebes. Diomedes was one of the outstanding Greek heroes of the Trojan War. He killed several of the outstanding Trojan warriors, and, with the assistance of the goddess Athena, he wounded Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Ares, god of war, both of whom were aiding the Trojans. When he returned from the war and discovered that his wife had been unfaithful, Diomedes went to Apulia, where he remarried.
Dionysia
See Dionysus.
Dionysus
in Greek mythology, god of wine and vegetation, who showed mortals how to cultivate grapevines and make wine. A son of Zeus, Dionysus is usually characterized in one of two ways. As the god of vegetationóspecifically of the fruit of the treesóhe is often represented on Attic vases with a drinking horn and vine branches. He eventually became the popular Greek god of wine and cheer, and wine miracles were reputedly performed at certain of his festivals. Dionysus is also characterized as a deity whose mysteries inspired ecstatic, orgiastic worship. The maenads, or bacchantes, were a group of female devotees who left their homes to roam the wilderness in ecstatic devotion to Dionysus. They wore fawn skins and were believed to possess occult powers. Dionysus was good and gentle to those who honored him, but he brought madness and destruction upon those who spurned him or the orgiastic rituals of his cult. According to tradition, Dionysus died each winter and was reborn in the spring. To his followers, this cyclical revival, accompanied by the seasonal renewal of the fruits of the earth, embodied the promise of the resurrection of the dead. The yearly rites in honor of the resurrection of Dionysus gradually evolved into the structured form of the Greek drama, and important festivals were held in honor of the god, during which great dramatic competitions were conducted. The most important festival, the Greater Dionysia, was held in Athens for five days each spring. It was for this celebration that the Greek dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote their great tragedies. By the 5th century BC, Dionysus was also known to the Greeks as Bacchus, a name referring to the loud cries with which Dionysus was worshiped at the orgia, or Dionysiac mysteries. These frenetic celebrations, which probably originated in spring nature festivals, became occasions for licentiousness and intoxication. This was the form in which the worship of Dionysus became popular in the 2nd century BC in Roman Italy, where the Dionysiac mysteries were called the Bacchanalia. The indulgences of the Bacchanalia became increasingly extreme, and the celebrations were prohibited by the Roman Senate in 186 BC. In the 1st century AD, however, the Dionysiac mysteries were still popular, as evidenced by representations of them found on Greek sarcophagi.
Dioscuri
See Castor and Polydeuces.
Dis
In Roman mythology, Dis was the god of the underworld, also known as Orcus.
Discordia
the Roman goddess of strife.
Dodona
ancient Greek oracle, in the interior of Epirus, about 80 km (about 50 mi) east of Kťrkira (Corfu). It was sacred to Zeus and his consort Dione. Priests of the temple interpreted the rustling of a great oak tree, the activities of doves in its branches, the clanging of brass pots hung from the branches, and the murmurs of a fountain as responses from Zeus. Both Homer and Hesiod mention Dodona. The oracle at Dodona was one of the most respected of ancient times, and it was consulted by Greeks from many cities and by foreigners. Croesus, king of Lydia, was said to have visited the temple. The shrine was destroyed in warfare by the Aetolians in 219 BC but was probably restored later. Archaeological finds have been made at the site, and the magnificent theater built by the 3rd-century BC king Pyrrhus has been restored.
Dryad
in Greek mythology, a nymph of the trees and forests. In early legend, each dryad was born with a certain tree over which she watched. She lived either in the tree (in which case she was called a hamadryad) or near it. Because the dryad died when her tree fell, the gods often punished anyone who destroyed a tree. The word dryad has also been used in a general sense for nymphs living in the forest.
Echo
in Greek mythology, a mountain nymph. The supreme god, Zeus, persuaded her to distract his wife, Hera, with incessant talk, so that Hera could not spy on him. In anger, Hera robbed Echo of the full power of speech, leaving her only the capacity to repeat the final syllable of every word she heard. An unrequited love for the beautiful Narcissus, who loved only his own reflected image, caused Echo to pine away until only her voice remained.
Eirene
the goddess of peace.
Electra
in Greek mythology, daughter of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and Queen Clytemnestra. After the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, Electra sent her brother, Orestes, to safety at the court of an uncle. She stayed behind in Mycenae, living in poverty under constant surveillance while Clytemnestra and Aegisthus ruled the kingdom. Electra sent frequent reminders to Orestes that he must return to avenge the death of their father. At the end of seven years, Orestes and his friend Pylades went secretly to Agamemnon's tomb. There they met Electra, who had come to pour libations and offer prayers for vengeance. Orestes revealed his identity to his sister, then proceeded at once to the palace, where he killed Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. Electra later married Pylades, Orestes' constant companion.
Electryon
a son of Perseus and Andromeda.
Elementals
The Elementals are creatures or spirits of the elements. They are the forces of nature.
Elysium
also known as the Elysian Fields, in Greek mythology, a pre-Hellenic paradise, a land of perfect peace and happiness. Elysium was originally another name for the Islands of the Blessed, later a region in Hades. In the works of Homer, Elysium was a land at the farthest and westernmost edge of the world to which the great heroes were carried, body and soul, and made immortal. There they were free to pursue their favorite activities, and worries and illness were unknown. Soon, however, Elysium came to be regarded as the abode of the blessed dead, where the souls of dead heroes, poets, priests, and others lived in perfect happiness, surrounded by grass, trees, and gentle winds and enveloped in rose-tinted, perpetual light. In Roman mythology, Elysium was a part of the underworld and a place of reward for the virtuous dead. For some it was only a temporary paradise. At the edge of its soft, green meadows flowed the Lethe, river of forgetfulness, from which all souls returning to life in the world above had to drink.
Endymion
in Greek mythology, a youth of exceptional beauty who sleeps eternally. Endymion was either the king of Elis, a hunter, or a shepherd. According to most accounts he was a shepherd on Mount Latmos in Caria. Selene, the goddess of the moon, fell in love with him and visited him every night as he lay asleep in a cave. She bore him 50 daughters, but she put him to sleep forever so that she might have him to herself. Other legends give different reasons for his eternal sleep. In one, the god Zeus offered him anything he desired, and Endymion chose an everlasting sleep, in which he might remain forever young. In another, his perpetual sleep was a punishment inflicted by Zeus for having dared to fall in love with Zeus's consort, Hera.
Enyo
Enyo was the Greek goddess of war.
Eos
the goddess of dawn. She was the daughter of Hyperion and Thia, and sister of Helios and Selene.
Epaphus
In Greek mythology, Epaphus was a son of Zeus and Io who was born on the River Nile. He became King of Egypt and married Memphis, or by some accounts Cassiopeia. he had a daughter, Libya, who gave her name to the African country of Libya.
Epigoni
in Greek mythology, the sons of the seven Greek chieftains known as the Seven Against Thebes. To avenge the deaths of their fathers, who had been slain in the ill-fated expedition against Thebes, the Epigoni conquered the city and completely destroyed it. Although their name, Epigoni, or the "Afterborn," implied that they had come into the world too late and after all the great deeds had been done, one of their number, the warrior Diomedes, became one of the greatest Greek heroes of the Trojan War.
Epimetheus
the brother of Prometheus.
Erato
Erato was the muse of love and marriage songs. She carried a lyre.
Erebus
the Greek god of darkness.
Erechthius
In Greek mythology, Erechtheus (Erichthonius) was an Attic hero, said to have been the son of Hephaestus and Atthis. He was brought up by Athena.
Erechthonius
see Erechtheus
Eridanus
Eridanus was a Greek river god known as the king of rivers. He was a son of Oceanus and Tethys.
Erinyes
also Furies, in Greek mythology, the three avenging deities Tisiphone (the avenger of murder), Megaera (the jealous one), and Alecto (unceasing in anger). In most accounts the Erinyes are the daughters of Gaea and Uranus; sometimes they are called the daughters of Night. They lived in the world below, from which they ascended to earth to pursue the wicked. They were just but merciless and without regard for mitigating circumstances. They punished all offenses against human society such as perjury, violation of the rites of hospitality, and, above all, the murder of blood relatives. These terrible goddesses were hideous to behold; they had writhing snakes for hair and blood dripped from their eyes. They tormented wrongdoers, pursuing them from place to place across the earth, driving them mad. One of the most famous legends about the Erinyes concerns their relentless pursuit of the Theban prince Orestes for the murder of his mother, Queen Clytemnestra. Orestes had been commanded by the god Apollo to avenge the death of his father, King Agamemnon, whom Clytemnestra had murdered. The Erinyes, however, heedless of his motives, pursued and tormented him. Orestes finally appealed to the goddess Athena, who persuaded the avenging goddesses to accept Orestes' plea that he had been cleansed of his guilt. When they were thus able to show mercy, they became changed themselves. From the Furies of frightful appearance, they were transformed into the Eumenides, protectors of the suppliant.
Erinys
the attendant of vengeance to Nemesis.
Eris
Eros
in Greek mythology, the god of love and counterpart of the Roman Cupid. In early mythology he was represented as one of the primeval forces of nature, the son of Chaos, and the embodiment of the harmony and creative power in the universe. Soon, however, he was thought of as a handsome and intense young man, attended by Pothos ("longing") or Himeros ("desire"). Later mythology made him the constant attendant of his mother, Aphrodite, goddess of love. In Greek art Eros was depicted as a winged youth, slight but beautiful, often with eyes covered to symbolize the blindness of love. Sometimes he carried a flower, but more commonly the silver bow and arrows, with which he shot darts of desire into the bosoms of gods and men. In Roman legend and art, Eros degenerated into a mischievous child and was often depicted as a baby archer.
Eteocles
In Greek mythology, Eteocles was a son of the incestuous union of Oedipus and Jocasta and brother of Polynices. He denied his brother a share in the kingship of Thebes, thus provoking the expedition of the Seven against Thebes, in which he and his brother died by each other's hands.
Eumenides
in Greek mythology, ancient earth spirits or goddesses, associated with fertility but also having certain moral and social functions. Traditionally three in number, the Eumenides were worshiped in Athens, at Colonus, and in lands outside Attica. Although their name is variously described as meaning "the kindly ones," "the reverend ones," and "the gracious ones," the goddesses were usually portrayed as Gorgon-like creatures with snakes for hair and eyes that dripped blood. Their appearance stems from their identification in later legends with the Erinyes, the three avenging goddesses from the underworld. In his play The Eumenides, Athenian playwright Aeschylus recounted the Erinyes' relentless pursuit of Orestes after he killed his mother, Clytemnestra, to avenge the death of his father, King Agamemnon, whom Clytemnestra had murdered. Heedless of motives or extenuating circumstances, the Erinyes hounded Orestes all the way to Athens. There Orestes appealed to the goddess Athena, who presided over his trial by the Areopagus and cast the decisive vote in favor of acquittal. After this trial, the Erinyes accepted a new role as guardians of justice and became known as the Eumenides.
Euphrosyne
See Graces.
Europa
in Greek mythology, daughter of Agenor, the Phoenician king of Tyre, and sister of Cadmus, the legendary founder of Thebes. One morning, when Europa was gathering flowers by the seashore, the god Zeus saw her and fell in love with her. Assuming the guise of a beautiful chestnut-colored bull, he appeared before her and enticed her to climb onto his back. He then sped away with her across the ocean to the island of Crete. Among the sons she bore him were Minos and Rhadamanthus, both of whom became judges of the dead. The abduction of Europa has been the subject of many paintings, including The Rape of Europa by the Italian painter Titian.
Euterpe
muse of lyric poetry and song. Represented playing a flute.
Eurus
the east wind god.
Euryale
Euryale was one of the gorgons.
Eurydice
in Greek mythology, a beautiful nymph, and wife of Orpheus, the master musician. Shortly after their marriage Eurydice was bitten in the foot by a snake and died. Grief-stricken, Orpheus descended into the underworld to seek his wife. Accompanying his song with the strains of his lyre, he begged Hades, god of the dead, to relinquish Eurydice. His music so touched Hades that Orpheus was permitted to take his wife back with him on the condition that he would not turn around to look at her until they had reached the upper air. They had almost completed their ascent when Orpheus, overwhelmed by love and anxiety, looked back to see if Eurydice was following him. The promise broken, Eurydice vanished forever to the regions of the dead.
Fama
an alternative name for Pheme.
Fates
in Greek mythology, the three goddesses who determined human life and destiny. Known as Moirai in Greek and Parcae in Latin, the Fates apportioned to each person at birth a share of good and evil, although one might increase the evil by one's own folly. Portrayed in art and poetry as stern old women or as somber maidens, the goddesses were often thought of as weavers. Clotho, the Spinner, spun the thread of life; Lachesis, the Dispenser of Lots, decided its span and assigned a destiny to each person; and Atropos, the Inexorable, carried the dread shears that cut the thread of life at the appointed time. The decisions of the Fates could not be altered, even by the gods.
Faun
See Faunus.
Faunus
in Roman mythology, the grandson of the god Saturn, worshiped as the god of the fields and of shepherds. He was believed to speak to people through the sounds of the forest and in nightmares. Faunus is the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Pan. He was attended by the fauns, creatures half men and half goats, the counterparts of the Greek satyrs. In some legends Faunus was identified as an early king of Latium, who taught his people how to plant crops and breed stock. He was also credited with introducing the religious system of the country and was honored after his death as a god.
Flora
in Roman mythology, goddess of flowers and springtime. Her festival, the Floralia, was licentious in spirit and featured dramatic spectacles and animal hunts in the Circus Maximus. Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, wearing a crown of flowers.
Fortuna
in Roman mythology, the goddess of chance and good luck. From earliest times, her worship was extensive throughout the Roman Empire. At first, she was regarded as a kind of fertility goddess or bearer of prosperity; gradually, she was invoked exclusively for good luck. As the goddess of chance, she was often consulted about the future at her oracular shrines in Antium and Praeneste (now Anzio and Palestrina). A favorite subject in art, Fortuna is usually depicted holding a rudder in one hand and a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, in the other. The rudder signified that she guided the destiny of the world; the cornucopia, that she was the provider of abundance.
Furiae
(also known as the Erinys, Dirae, Eumenides or Semnae - that is, the 'revered' goddesses) the daughters of Night, or according to some accounts, of the Earth and Darkness, or by another account the offspring of Cronus and Eurynome. They were attendants of Hades and Persephone and lived at the entrance to the lower world.
Furies
See Erinyes.
Gaea or Ge
in Greek mythology, the personification of Mother Earth, and the daughter of Chaos. She was the mother and wife of Father Heaven, who was personified as Uranus. They were the parents of the earliest living creatures: the Titans; the Cyclopes; and the Giants, or Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handed Ones). Fearing and hating the Giants, despite the fact that they were his sons, Uranus imprisoned them in a secret place on earth, leaving the Cyclopes and Titans at large. Gaea, enraged at this favoritism, persuaded her son, the Titan Cronus, to overthrow his father. He emasculated Uranus, and from his blood Gaea brought forth the Giants and the three avenging goddesses the Erinyes. Her last and most terrifying offspring was Typhon, a 100-headed monster, who, although conquered by the god Zeus, was believed to spew forth the molten lava flows of Mount Etna.
Galatea
in Greek mythology, one of the 50 Nereids, the daughters of Nereus, the old man of the sea. The gay, mocking sea nymph was loved by the Cyclops Polyphemus, an ugly giant with one huge eye in the middle of his forehead. Galatea did not return his love, however; she teased and ridiculed him, arousing his hopes with kind words and then rejecting him. In later legends, although her attitude toward the lovelorn Cyclops grew kinder, Polyphemus never won her. Galatea finally fell in love with Acis, a handsome young prince, whom Polyphemus killed in a jealous rage. In Roman mythology, Galatea was the name of a statue of a beautiful woman that was brought to life by Venus, goddess of love, in response to the prayers of the sculptor Pygmalion, who had fallen in love with his creation.
Ganymeda
an alternative name for Hebe.
Ganymede
in Greek mythology, a handsome young Trojan prince whom the god Zeus, in the guise of an eagle, snatched from the midst of his companions and bore up to Mount Olympus. He was granted immortality and replaced Hebe, goddess of youth, as cupbearer to the gods. Ganymede was later identified with the constellation Aquarius, "the Water Bearer."
Genii
an alternative name for the daemons.
Genius
in Roman mythology, a protecting, or guardian, spirit. It was believed that every individual, family, and city had its own genius. The genius received special worship as a household god because it was thought to bestow success and intellectual powers on its devotees. For this reason, the word came to designate a person with unusual intellectual powers. The genius of a woman was sometimes referred to as a juno. In art, the genius of a person was frequently depicted as a winged youth; the genius of a place, as a serpent.
Glaucus
See Bellerophon.
Golden Fleece
in Greek mythology, the fleece of the winged ram Chrysomallus. The ram was sent by the god Hermes to rescue Phrixus and Helle, the two children of the Greek king Athamas and his wife, Nephele. Athamas had grown indifferent to his wife and had taken Ino, the daughter of King Cadmus, for his second wife. Ino hated her stepchildren, especially Phrixus, because she wanted her own son to succeed to the throne. Realizing that her children were in grave danger because of the jealousy of their stepmother, Nephele prayed to the gods for help. Hermes sent her Chrysomallus, the winged ram, whose fleece was made of gold. The ram snatched the children up and bore them away on his back. Soaring into the air, he flew eastward, but as he was crossing the strait that divides Europe and Asia, Helle slipped from his back and fell into the water. The strait where she was drowned was named for her: the Sea of Helle, or the Hellespont. The ram safely landed Phrixus in Colchis, a country on the Black Sea that was ruled by King AeŽtes. There he was hospitably received and, in gratitude to the gods for saving his life, sacrificed Chrysomallus at the temple of the god Zeus. Phrixus then gave the precious Golden Fleece to AeŽtes, who placed it in a sacred grove under the watchful eye of a dragon that never slept. Many years later, the Argonauts led by Phrixus's cousin, the Greek hero Jason, recovered the Golden Fleece with the help of the daughter of King AeŽtes, the sorceress Medea who, out of love for Jason, put the dragon to sleep.
Gordian Knot
in Greek mythology, complex knot tied by Gordius, king of Phrygia and father of Minos. Gordius was a Phrygian peasant who became king because he was the first man to drive into town after an oracle had commanded his countrymen to select as ruler the first person who would drive into the public square in a wagon. In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his wagon to the god Zeus and placed it in the grove of the temple, tying the pole of the wagon to the yoke with a rope of bark. The knot was so intricately entwined that no one could undo it. A saying developed that whoever succeeded in untying the difficult knot would become the ruler of all Asia. Many tried, but all failed. According to legend, even Alexander the Great was unable to untie the Gordian knot, so he drew his sword and cut it through with a stroke in 334 B.C. The expression "to cut the Gordian knot" is used to refer to a situation in which a difficult problem is solved by a quick and decisive action.
Gorgon
in Greek mythology, one of three monstrous daughters of the sea god Phorcys and his wife, Ceto. The Gorgons were terrifying, dragonlike creatures, covered with golden scales and having snakes for hair. They had huge wings and round, ugly faces; their tongues were always hanging out, and they had large, tusklike teeth. They lived on the farthest side of the western ocean, shunned because their glance turned persons to stone. Two of the Gorgons, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal; Medusa alone could be killed. The hero Perseus, a gallant but foolish young man, volunteered to kill Medusa and bring back her head. With the help of the deities Hermes and Athena, Perseus cut off Medusa's head. From her blood sprang the winged horse Pegasus, her son by the god Poseidon.
Graces
in Greek mythology, the three goddesses of joy, charm, and beauty. The daughters of the god Zeus and the nymph Eurynome, they were named Aglaia (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer). The Graces presided over banquets, dances, and all other pleasurable social events, and brought joy and goodwill to both gods and mortals. They were the special attendants of the divinities of love, Aphrodite and Eros, and together with companions, the Muses, they sang to the gods on Mount Olympus, and danced to beautiful music that the god Apollo made upon his lyre. In some legends Aglaia was wed to Hephaestus, the craftsman among the gods. Their marriage explains the traditional association of the Graces with the arts; like the Muses, they were believed to endow artists and poets with the ability to create beautiful works of art. The Graces were rarely treated as individuals, but always together as a kind of triple embodiment of grace and beauty. In art they are usually represented as lithe young maidens, dancing in a circle. Also known as the Charites.
Graeae
three daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. They had only one eye and one tooth between them which they shared. Perseus forced them to tell him where he could find Medusa by stealing their solitary eye and tooth. Also known as the Grey Women.
Great Mother
See Cybele.
Griffin
legendary creature, usually represented in literature and art as having the head, beak, and wings of an eagle, the body and legs of a lion, and occasionally a serpent's tail. The griffin seems to have originated in the Middle East, as it is found in the paintings and sculptures of the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. The Romans used the griffin merely for decorative purposes in friezes and on table legs, altars, and candelabra. The griffin motif appeared in early Christian times in the bestiaries, or beast allegories, of St. Basil and St. Ambrose. Stone replicas of griffins frequently served as gargoyles in the Gothic architecture of the late Middle Ages. The griffin is still a familiar device in heraldry and is thought to represent strength and vigilance.
Hades
in Greek mythology, god of the dead. He was the son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea and the brother of Zeus and Poseidon. When the three brothers divided up the universe after they had deposed their father, Cronus, Hades was awarded the underworld. There, with his queen, Persephone, whom he had abducted from the world above, he ruled the kingdom of the dead. Although he was a grim and pitiless god, unappeased by either prayer or sacrifice, he was not evil. In fact, he was known also as Pluto, lord of riches, because both crops and precious metals were believed to come from his kingdom below ground. The underworld itself was often called Hades. It was divided into two regions: Erebus, where the dead pass as soon as they die, and Tartarus, the deeper region, where the Titans had been imprisoned. It was a dim and unhappy place, inhabited by vague forms and shadows and guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed, dragon-tailed dog. Sinister rivers separated the underworld from the world above, and the aged boatman Charon ferried the souls of the dead across these waters. Somewhere in the darkness of the underworld Hades' palace was located. It was represented as a many-gated, dark and gloomy place, thronged with guests, and set in the midst of shadowy fields and an apparition-haunted landscape. In later legends the underworld is described as the place where the good are rewarded and the wicked punished.
Haemus
In Greek mythology, Haemus was a son of Boreas and Oreithyia. He married Rhodope and by her had a son, Hebrus. He and his wife presumed to assume the names of Zeus and Hera and were turned into mountains for their insolence.
Hamadryad
See Dryad.
Harmonia
in Greek mythology, daughter of Ares, god of war, and Aphrodite, goddess of love, and wife of Cadmus, founder of Thebes. At Harmonia's wedding, which was attended by the gods, Aphrodite gave her a beautiful necklace made by Hephaestus, god of metalwork. Although the gift brought her good fortune, it brought only death and misery to her family. In their old age Harmonia and Cadmus were transformed into serpents.
Harpies
in Greek mythology, foul creatures with the heads of old women and the bodies, wings, beaks, and claws of birds. They could fly with the speed of the wind, and their feathers, which could not be pierced, served as armor. The Harpies frequently snatched up mortals and carried them off to the underworld, always leaving behind a sickening odor. One of the many perils to be overcome by the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece was an encounter with these dread, half-human creatures, who were slowly starving a pathetic old man by befouling his food before he could eat it. The Argonauts were on the point of killing the creatures when Iris, goddess of the rainbow, intervened. At her request they merely drove the Harpies away. The Trojan prince Aeneas also came upon the Harpies, but he and his crew put out to sea to escape them.
Hebe
in Greek mythology, the goddess of youth, the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe served for a long time as cupbearer to the gods, serving them their nectar and ambrosia. She was replaced in this office by the Trojan prince Ganymede. According to one story, she resigned as cupbearer to the gods upon her marriage to the hero Hercules, who had just been deified. In another, she was dismissed from her position because of a fall she suffered while in attendance on the gods.
Hebrus
In Greek mythology, Hebrus was a river god. He was the son of Haemus and Rhodope.
Hecate
in Greek mythology, goddess of darkness, and the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria. Unlike Artemis, who represented the moonlight and splendor of the night, Hecate represented its darkness and its terrors. On moonless nights she was believed to roam the earth with a pack of ghostly, howling dogs. She was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft and was especially worshiped by magicians and witches, who sacrificed black lambs and black dogs to her. As goddess of the crossroads, Hecate and her pack of dogs were believed to haunt these remote spots, which seemed evil and ghostly places to travelers. In art Hecate is often represented with either three bodies or three heads and with serpents entwined about her neck.
Hector
in Greek mythology, the eldest son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and husband of Andromache. In Homer's Iliad, Hector is the greatest of the Trojan warriors. As commander of the Trojan forces he is instrumental in holding off the Greek army for nine years and finally succeeds in forcing the Greeks back to their ships (see Trojan War). During the battle, however, Hector kills Patroclus, the bosom friend of Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors. Achilles has withdrawn from the fighting because of a quarrel with King Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek forces, but in order to avenge the death of Patroclus, he returns to the battlefield. Grief-stricken and frenzied, Achilles pursues Hector three times around the walls of Troy, kills him, and then ties his body to his chariot and drags it around the walls and back to Patroclus's funeral pyre. Learning that the Greeks are withholding burial rites from his son, the sorrowing Priam makes his way behind Greek battle lines with the aid of the god Hermes and begs Achilles to relinquish Hector's corpse. Moved by the sorrow of the aged king, Achilles agrees to yield the corpse and declares a truce to permit the Trojans to honor Hector with a suitable burial. A description of the funeral honors paid to Hector concludes the Iliad. In contrast to the fierce and alienated Achilles, Hector is depicted as a devoted family man and chivalrous warrior.
Hecuba
in Greek mythology, wife of Priam, king of Troy, to whom she bore Hector, Paris, Cassandra, and 16 other children. Following the fall of Troy and the death of Priam, the aging Hecuba was taken prisoner by the Greeks. During the siege of Troy, her youngest son, Polydorus, had been entrusted to the care of the king of Thrace. On the way to Greece, where she was being taken by her captors, Hecuba discovered that Polydorus had been murdered on the Thracian shore. In revenge, she put out the eyes of the king and murdered his two sons. According to legend Hecuba met death in one of three ways: in despair at her capture she leapt into the Hellespont (now the Dardanelles); she was killed for abusing her captors; or she was metamorphosed into a dog.
Helen of Troy
in Greek mythology, the most beautiful woman in Greece, daughter of the god Zeus and of Leda, wife of King Tyndareus of Sparta. She was abducted in childhood by the hero Theseus, who hoped in time to marry her, but she was rescued by her brothers, Castor and Pollux. Because Helen was courted by so many prominent heroes, Tyndareus made all of them swear to abide by Helen's choice of a husband and to defend the husband's rights should anyone attempt to take Helen away by force. Helen's fatal beauty was the direct cause of the Trojan War. The story of the ten-year conflict began when the three goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite asked the Trojan prince Paris to choose the most beautiful among them. After each of the goddesses had attempted to influence his decision, Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite, who had promised him the world's most beautiful woman. Soon afterward Paris sailed to Greece, where he was hospitably received by Helen and her husband, Menelaus, king of Sparta. Unfortunately, Helen, as the fairest of her sex, was the prize destined for Paris. Although she was living happily with Menelaus, Helen fell under the influence of Aphrodite and allowed Paris to persuade her to elope with him, and he carried her off to Troy. Menelaus then called upon the Grecian chieftains, including Helen's former suitors, to help him rescue his wife, and with few exceptions they responded to his call. During nine years of indecisive conflict, Helen wove a web depicting her sad story. Then Paris and Menelaus agreed to meet in single combat between the opposing armies, and Helen was summoned to view the duel. As she approached the tower, where the aged King Priam and his counselors sat, her beauty was still so matchless and her sorrow so great that no one could feel for her anything but compassion. Although the Greeks claimed the victory in the battle between the two warriors, Aphrodite helped Paris escape from the enraged Menelaus by enveloping him in a cloud and taking him safely to Helen's chamber, where Aphrodite compelled the unwilling Helen to lie with him. After the fall of Troy, Menelaus was reunited with his wife, and they soon left Troy for their native Greece. They had, however, incurred the displeasure of the gods and were therefore driven by storms from shore to shore in the Mediterranean Sea, stopping in Cyprus, Phoenicia, and Egypt. Arriving at length in Sparta, Menelaus and Helen resumed their reign and lived the rest of their days in royal splendor. They had one daughter, Hermione.
Helicon
Helicon was a mountain in central Greece, on which was situated a spring and a sanctuary sacred to the Muses.
Helios
in Greek mythology, the ancient sun god, son of the Titans Hyperion and Thea, and brother of Selene, goddess of the moon, and Eos, goddess of the dawn. Helios was believed to ride his golden chariot across the heavens daily, giving light to gods and mortals. At evening he sank into the western ocean, from which he was carried in a golden cup back to his palace in the east. Helios alone could control the fierce horses that drew his fiery chariot. When his son PhaŽthon persuaded Helios to let him drive the chariot across the sky, PhaŽthon was killed. Helios was widely worshiped throughout the Greek world, but his principal cult was at Rhodes. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes was a representation of Helios. He is often identified with Apollo, Greek god of light.
Hellen
ancestor of the Hellenes, or Greeks. He was the son of Pyrrha and Deucalion, who because of their piety were spared in a devastating flood that destroyed all creation. Hellen was believed to be the father of the principal nations of Greece. From his sons Aeolus and Dorus sprang the Aeolians and Dorians, and from the descendants of his son Xuthus came the Achaeans and Ionians.
Hemerus
Hemera was the Greek goddess of day. She was born from Erebus and Nyx. She emerged from Tartarus as Nyx left it and returned to it as she was emerging from it.
Hephaestus
in Greek mythology, god of fire and metalwork, the son of the god Zeus and the goddess Hera, or sometimes the son of Hera alone. In contrast to the other gods, Hephaestus was lame and awkward. Shortly after his birth, he was cast out of Olympus, either by Hera, who was repelled by his deformity, or by Zeus, because Hephaestus had sided with Hera against him. In most legends, however, he was soon honored again on Olympus and was married to Aphrodite, goddess of love, or to Aglaia, one of the three Graces. As the artisan among the gods, Hephaestus made their armor, weapons, and jewelry. His workshop was believed to lie under Mount Etna, a volcano in Sicily. Hephaestus is often identified with the Roman god of fire, Vulcan.
Hera
in Greek mythology, queen of the gods, the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, and the sister and wife of the god Zeus. Hera was the goddess of marriage and the protector of married women. She was the mother of Ares, god of war; Hephaestus, god of fire; Hebe, goddess of youth; and Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth. Hera was a jealous wife, who often persecuted Zeus's mistresses and children. She never forgot an injury and was known for her vindictive nature. Angry with the Trojan prince Paris for preferring Aphrodite, goddess of love, to herself, Hera aided the Greeks in the Trojan War and was not appeased until Troy was finally destroyed. Hera is often identified with the Roman goddess Juno.
Heracles or Herakles
See Hercules.
Hercules
in Greek mythology, hero noted for his strength and courage and for his many legendary exploits. Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek hero Heracles. He was the son of the god Zeus and Alcmene, wife of the Theban general Amphitryon. Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, was determined to kill her unfaithful husband's offspring, and shortly after Hercules' birth she sent two great serpents to destroy him. Hercules, although still a baby, strangled the snakes. As a young man Hercules killed a lion with his bare hands. As a trophy of his adventure, he wore the skin of the lion as a cloak and its head as a helmet. The hero next conquered a tribe that had been exacting tribute from Thebes. As a reward, he was given the hand of the Theban princess Megara, by whom he had three children. Hera, still relentless in her hatred of Hercules, sent a fit of madness upon him during which he killed his wife and children. In horror and remorse at his deed Hercules would have slain himself, but he was told by the oracle at Delphi that he should purge himself by becoming the servant of his cousin Eurystheus, king of Mycenae. Eurystheus, urged on by Hera, devised as a penance the 12 difficult tasks, the "Labors of Hercules." Briefly, they were: 1) Kill the Nemean lion. 2) Destroy the Lernean hydra. 3) Capture alive the Erymanthian boar. 4) Capture alive the Ceryneian stag. 5) Kill the Stymphalian birds. 6) Clean the Augean stables. 7) Bring alive into Peloponnesus the Cretan bull. 8) Obtain the horses of Diomedes. 9) Obtain the girdle of Hippolyte. 10) Kill the monster and cattle of Geryon. 11) Obtain the apples of Hesperides. 12) Bring from the infernal regions Cerbeus the three headed dog of Hades. The Twelve Labors The first task was to kill the lion of Nemea, a beast that could not be wounded by any weapon. Hercules stunned the lion with his club first and then strangled it. He then killed the Hydra that lived in a swamp in Lerna. This monster had nine heads: One head was immortal; when one of the others was chopped off, two grew back in its place. Hercules seared each mortal neck with a burning torch to prevent reproduction of two heads; he buried the immortal head under a rock. He then dipped his arrows into the Hydra's blood to make them poisonous. Hercules' next labor was to capture alive a stag with golden horns and bronze hoofs that was sacred to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and the fourth labor was to capture a great boar that had its lair on Mount Erymanthus. Hercules then had to clean up in one day the 30 years of accumulated filth left by thousands of cattle in the Augean stables. He diverted the streams of two rivers, causing them to flow through the stables. Hercules next drove off a huge flock of man-eating birds with bronze beaks, claws, and wings that lived near Lake Stymphalus. To fulfill the seventh labor Hercules brought to Eurystheus a mad bull that Poseidon, god of the sea, had sent to terrorize Crete. To bring back the man-eating mares of Diomedes, king of Thrace, Hercules killed Diomedes, then drove the mares to Mycenae. Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, was willing to help Hercules with his ninth labor. As Hippolyta was about to give Hercules her girdle, which Eurystheus wanted for his daughter, Hera made Hippolyta's forces believe Hercules was trying to abduct the queen. Hercules killed Hippolyta, thinking she was responsible for the ensuing attack, and escaped from the Amazons with the girdle. On his way to the island of Erythia to capture the oxen of the three-headed monster Geryon, Hercules set up two great rocks (the mountains Gibraltar and Ceuta, which now flank the Strait of Gibraltar) as a memorial of his journey. After Hercules had brought back the oxen, he was sent to fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides. Because Hercules did not know where these apples were, he sought help from Atlas, father of the Hesperides. Atlas agreed to help him if Hercules would support the world on his shoulders while Atlas got the apples. The old man did not wish to resume his burden, but Hercules tricked Atlas into taking the world back. The 12th and most difficult labor of Hercules was to bring back the three-headed dog Cerberus from the lower world. Hades, god of the dead, gave Hercules permission to take the beast if he used no weapons. Hercules captured Cerberus, brought him to Mycenae, and then carried him back to Hades. Death of the Hero Hercules later married Deianira, whom he won from Antaeus, son of the sea god Poseidon. When the centaur Nessus attacked Deianira, Hercules wounded him with an arrow that he had poisoned in the blood of the Hydra. The dying centaur told Deianira to take some of his blood, which he said was a powerful love charm but was really a poison. Believing that Hercules had fallen in love with the princess Iole, Deianira later sent him a tunic dipped in the blood. When he put it on, the pain caused by the poison was so great that he killed himself on a funeral pyre. After death he was brought by the gods to Olympus and married to Hebe, goddess of youth. Hercules was worshiped by the Greeks as both a god and as a mortal hero. He is usually represented as strong and muscular, clad in a lion skin and carrying a club. The most famous statue of the mythical hero is in the National Museum in Naples.
Hermaphroditus
in Greek mythology, a youth who was transformed by the gods into a being half male and half female, after a nymph, whose love he had rejected, prayed to be forever united with him.
Hermes
in Greek mythology, messenger of the gods, the son of the god Zeus and of Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes was the Greek god of oratory. As the special servant and courier of Zeus, Hermes had winged sandals and a winged hat and bore a golden Caduceus, or magic wand, entwined with snakes and surmounted by wings. He conducted the souls of the dead to the underworld and was believed to possess magical powers over sleep and dreams. Hermes was also the god of commerce, and the protector of traders and herds. As the deity of athletes, he protected gymnasiums and stadiums and was believed to be responsible for both good luck and wealth. Despite his virtuous characteristics, Hermes was also a dangerous foe, a trickster, and a thief. On the day of his birth he stole the cattle of his brother, the sun god Apollo, obscuring their trail by making the herd walk backward. When confronted by Apollo, Hermes denied the theft. The brothers were finally reconciled when Hermes gave Apollo his newly invented lyre. Hermes was represented in early Greek art as a mature, bearded man; in classical art he became an athletic youth, nude and beardless.
Hermione
in Greek mythology, daughter of Helen of Troy and Menelaus, king of Sparta. Although she was betrothed to Orestes, king of Mycenae, after the Trojan War Hermione married Neoptolemus, the son of the Greek hero Achilles. Orestes later killed Neoptolemus and became Hermione's second husband.
Hero
in Greek mythology, priestess of Aphrodite, goddess of love, at Sestos, a town on the Hellespont (now Dardanelles). Hero was loved by Leander, a youth who lived at Abydos, a town on the Asian side of the channel. They could not marry because Hero was bound by a vow of chastity, and so every night Leander swam from Asia to Europe, guided by a lamp in Hero's tower. One stormy night a high wind extinguished the beacon, and Leander was drowned. His body was washed ashore beneath Hero's tower; in her grief, she threw herself into the sea.
Hesperides
in Greek mythology, the daughters of the Titan Atlas Atlas and Hesperis. Aided by a dragon, the Hesperides guarded a tree, with branches and leaves of gold, that bore golden apples. The tree had been given to the goddess Hera on her wedding day by Gaea, Mother Earth. One of the 12 labors imposed upon the hero Hercules was to bring back the golden apples of the Hesperides.
Hestia
in Greek mythology, virgin goddess of the hearth, the eldest daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. She was believed to preside at all sacrificial altar fires, and prayers were offered to her before and after meals. Although she appears in very few myths, most cities had a common hearth where her sacred fire burned. In Rome, Hestia was worshiped as Vesta, and her fire was attended by six virgin priestesses known as vestal virgins.
Hippocoon
In Greek mythology, Hippocoon was a King of Sparta. He was the son of Oebalus and Gorgophone. He refused to purify Hercules after he murdered Iphitus and further offended Hercules by killing Oeonus.
Hippolyte
in Greek mythology, queen of the Amazons and daughter of Ares, god of war. She was slain by the hero Hercules when he took from her, as one of his labors, the girdle given to her by her father. According to another legend she became the wife of the Greek hero Theseus, by whom she had a son, Hippolytus.
Hippolytu
in Greek mythology, son of the Theban hero Theseus and his wife Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons, or sometimes the son of her sister Antiope. Hippolytus was an excellent hunter and charioteer, and he was a devoted servant of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Hippolytus spurned all women, and when his stepmother, Phaedra, fell in love with him, he rejected her advances. In despair at his refusal, Phaedra committed suicide, leaving a letter accusing Hippolytus of having attempted to ravish her. Theseus, believing his son guilty, invoked his father, Poseidon, god of the sea, to destroy Hippolytus. As the young man drove his chariot along the shore, Poseidon sent a sea monster that frightened his horses; they ran away, dashing the chariot to pieces. Mortally wounded, Hippolytus was carried to his father, who had in the meantime learned from Artemis that his son was innocent. As Hippolytus died, the grief-stricken father and son were reconciled.
Horae
the Greek goddesses of the seasons. They were daughters of Zeus and Themis.
Hyacinthus
in Greek mythology, handsome Spartan youth loved both by Apollo, god of the sun, and by Zephyrus, god of the west wind. One day, as Apollo was teaching the young man to throw the discus, the god accidentally killed Hyacinthus. From the blood of the youth, Apollo caused a flower (not the modern hyacinth, but possibly the iris or larkspur) to spring up, each petal inscribed with an exclamation of lamentation. According to another legend, Zephyrus was jealous of the youth's love for Apollo and blew upon the discus, causing it to strike Hyacinthus.
Hydra
in Greek mythology, nine-headed monster that dwelled in a marsh near Lerna, Greece. A menace to all of Argos, it had fatally poisonous breath and when one head was severed, grew two in its place; its central head was immortal. Hercules, sent to kill the serpent as the second of his 12 labors, succeeded in slaying it by burning off the eight mortal heads and burying the ninth, immortal head under a huge rock. The term hydra is commonly applied to any complex situation or problem that continually poses compounded difficulties.
Hygea
daughter of Aesculapius. She was the goddess of health.
Hylas
in Greek mythology, handsome youth, the inseparable companion of the hero Hercules. Hylas accompanied Hercules as his armor bearer during the voyage of the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. When they stopped on the coast of Mysia in Asia Minor, Hylas was drawn by a sea nymph into the spring from which he was drawing water. He never appeared again. Hercules abandoned the expedition in order to look for Hylas, and afterward, the Mysians conducted a search for Hylas one day of each year.
Hymen
Greek and Roman god of marriage.
Hymenaeus
Hymenaeus is an alternative name for Hymen.
Hyperion
in Greek mythology, one of the Titans. He was the father of Helios, god of the sun, Selene, goddess of the moon, and Eos, goddess of the dawn.
Hypnos
son of night, and twin brother of Thanatos. He provided rest and relieved pain.
Iacchus
Iacchus is an alternative name for Dionysus.
Icarus
See Daedalus.
Idomeneus
legendary Cretan king, the son of Deucalion and the grandson of King Minos of Crete. A suitor of Helen of Troy, he was one of the most valiant of the Greeks in the Trojan War. Beset by a violent storm on his way home from the war, he vowed to the sea god Poseidon that should he arrive home safely, he would make a sacrifice of the first living thing he met. The first to meet him when he landed was his own son, but he nevertheless fulfilled his vow. When a plague broke out on Crete, however, he was banished by his subjects. He fled to Calabria in Italy and then to Colophon in Asia Minor, where he is reputed to be buried.
Io
in Greek mythology, daughter of the river god Inachus. She was loved by the god Zeus, who changed her into a white heifer to protect her from the jealousy of his wife, Hera. Suspecting that the animal was really Zeus's mistress, Hera asked for the heifer as a gift and set the 100-eyed monster Argus to guard it. Because the monster never slept with all his eyes shut, Io was unable to escape until Zeus sent his son, the messenger god Hermes, to rescue her. Hermes managed to kill the monster after he had put Argus's 100 eyes to sleep with a series of boring stories. Hera was still angry, however, and next sent a gadfly to torment Io, who wandered over the earth in misery. Io finally swam across the sea that was later named for her (the Ionian Sea) and at last reached Egypt. There she was restored to her original physical form, and she bore Zeus a son, Epaphus, who was an ancestor of the Greek hero Hercules.
Ino
see Leucothea
Iphigenia
in Greek mythology, eldest daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Before the Trojan War, when the Greek forces prepared to sail from Aulis for Troy, a strong north wind held the thousand Greek ships in the harbor. A soothsayer revealed that Artemis, goddess of the hunt, was angry because the Greeks had slain one of the wild animals she protected. The only way to appease the goddess and gain favorable winds for the ship was to sacrifice Iphigenia. Agamemnon, fired by his ambition to conquer Troy, agreed to the sacrifice. He summoned his daughter from Mycenae, telling her she was to marry Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors. When the maiden arrived in Aulis, she was carried to Artemis's altar and slain. At once the north wind stopped blowing and the Greek ships set sail for Troy. In the plays of the ancient Greek poet Euripides, Iphigenia was not sacrificed. Artemis, who would not permit her altar to be defiled with human blood, substituted a deer for the sacrifice and carried Iphigenia to the land of the Taurians (modern Crimea). There she became the chief priestess of Artemis's temple. After many years she was rescued by her brother, Orestes, and returned with him to Mycenae.
Irene
Irene was the Greek goddess of peace. She was sometimes regarded as one of the Horae, who presided over the seasons and the order of nature, and were the daughters of Zeus and Themis.
Iris
in Greek mythology, goddess of the rainbow, the daughter of the Titan Thaumas and Electra, daughter of the Titan Oceanus. As messenger of the god Zeus and his wife, Hera, Iris left Olympus only to convey the divine commands to humankind, by whom she was regarded as an adviser and guide. Traveling with the speed of the wind, she could go from one end of the earth to the other, and to the bottom of the sea or to the depths of the underworld. Although she was a sister of the winged monsters, the Harpies, Iris was represented as a beautiful maiden, with wings and robes of bright colors and a halo of light on her head, trailing across the sky with a rainbow in her wake.
Ixion
in Greek mythology, the first man to murder one of his kinspeople. He killed his father-in-law to avoid giving him promised bridal gifts. After obtaining purification from the god Zeus, Ixion ungratefully sought to seduce Hera, the wife of Zeus. To foil Ixion, Zeus created a cloud in Hera's image; Ixion was deceived and consequently sired the monstrous Centaurs. As punishment, Ixion was bound to a wheel of fire that revolved eternally in the underworld.
Janus
in Roman mythology, the god of doors and gateways, and also of beginnings, which the Romans believed ensured good endings. His principal temple in the Forum had doors facing east and west for the beginning and ending of the day, and between them stood his statue with two faces, gazing in opposite directions. In every home the morning prayer was addressed to him, and in every domestic undertaking his assistance was sought. As the god of beginnings, he was publicly invoked on the first day of January, the month that was named for him because it began the new year. He was invoked too at the beginning of wars, during which the doors of his temple in the Forum always stood open; when Rome was at peace, the doors were closed. Janus has no counterpart in Greek mythology.
Jason
in Greek mythology, son of Aeson, a king in Greece. Aeson's throne had been taken away from him by his half brother Pelias, and Jason, the rightful heir to the throne, had been sent away as a child for his own protection. When Jason grew to manhood, however, he courageously returned to Greece to regain his kingdom. Pelias pretended to be willing to relinquish the crown, but said that the young man must first undertake the quest of the Golden Fleece, which was the rightful property of their family. Pelias did not believe that Jason could succeed in the quest, nor that he would come back alive, but the young man scoffed at the dangers ahead. Jason assembled a crew of heroic young men from all parts of Greece to sail with him on the ship Argo. After a voyage of incredible perils, the Argonauts reached Colchis, the country in which the Golden Fleece was held by King AeŽtes. AeŽtes agreed to give up the Golden Fleece if Jason would yoke two fire-breathing bulls with bronze feet, and sow the teeth of the dragon that Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, had long before slain. From the teeth would spring up a crop of armed men who would turn against Jason. Jason successfully accomplished this task with the aid of Medea, the king's daughter. Unknown to Jason, the goddess Hera had intervened in his behalf by making Medea fall in love with him. Medea gave Jason a charm to sprinkle on his weapons that would make him invincible for the day of his ordeal and helped him steal the fleece that night by charming a sleepless dragon that guarded it. In return for her help, Jason promised to love Medea always and to marry her as soon as they were safely back in Greece. Carrying the fleece and accompanied by Medea, Jason and his crew managed to escape from AeŽtes. On reaching Greece, the crew of heroes disbanded, and Jason with Medea took the Golden Fleece to Pelias. In Jason's absence Pelias had forced Jason's father to kill himself, and his mother had died of grief. To avenge their deaths, Jason called upon Medea to help him punish Pelias. Medea tricked Pelias's daughters into killing their father, and then she and Jason went to Corinth, where two sons were born to them. Instead of feeling grateful to Medea for all she had done, Jason treacherously married the daughter of the king of Corinth. In her grief and despair, Medea employed more sorcery to kill the young bride. Next, fearing that her young sons might be left alone for strangers to mistreat, she killed them. When the furious Jason determined to kill her, she escaped in a chariot drawn by dragons.
Jocasta
in Greek mythology, wife of Laius, king of Thebes, and mother of Oedipus, king of Thebes. When an oracle foretold that Jocasta's son would kill his father, Laius had the child's ankles pierced and abandoned him on a mountain. The infant, rescued by a shepherd and given the name Oedipus, was adopted by Polybus, king of Corinth. Later, when the oracle at Delphi proclaimed that he would kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus, not wanting any harm to come to Polybus, left Corinth. On the road to Boeotia, Oedipus quarreled with and killed a stranger he mistook for a robber. The victim was his true father, Laius. Believing her son dead, Jocasta did not recognize Oedipus when he reappeared in Thebes as a young man. The youth saved the city from the sphinx and, as a reward, was married to Jocasta, who bore him four children. When she learned that Oedipus was her son as well as her husband, Jocasta committed suicide in horror and despair at their incestuous relationship.
Juno
in Roman mythology, queen of the gods, the wife and sister of the god Jupiter. She was the protector of women and was worshiped under several names. As Juno Pronuba she presided over marriage; as Juno Lucina she aided women in childbirth; and as Juno Regina she was the special counselor and protector of the Roman state. Her special festival, the Matronalia, was celebrated on March 1. Juno is the Latin counterpart of the Greek queen of the gods, Hera. The month of June was named after her.
Jupiter or Jove
in Roman mythology, the ruler of the gods, the son of the god Saturn, whom he overthrew. Originally the god of the sky and king of heaven, Jupiter was worshiped as god of rain, thunder, and lightning. As the protector of Rome he was called Jupiter Optimus Maximus ("the best and greatest") and was worshiped in a temple on the Capitoline hill. As Jupiter Fidius he was guardian of law, defender of truth, and protector of justice and virtue. The Romans identified Jupiter with Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks, and assigned to the Roman god the attributes and myths of the Greek divinity; the Jupiter of Latin literature, therefore, has many Greek characteristics, but the Jupiter of Roman religious worship remained substantially untouched by the Greek influence. With the goddesses Juno and Minerva, Jupiter formed the triad whose worship was the central cult of the Roman state.
Labyrinth
building made up of intricate, mazelike chambers or passages so designed that a person entering one would find it difficult to find a way out. Among the many labyrinths in the ancient world, perhaps the most celebrated was a funeral temple built by Amenemhet III in Egypt, which contained 3000 chambers. Equally famous was the labyrinth on Crete, which may have existed only in myth. Its conception was possibly derived from the elaborate floor plan of the palace at Knossos. In Greek mythology, the Cretan labyrinth was constructed by the Athenian craftsman Daedalus as a prison for the Minotaur, a part-bull, part-man monster. Other ancient labyrinths were on the island of Lemnos and at Clusium (now Chiusi), Italy. The term labyrinth is also applied to mazelike patterns on the floors of some medieval churches, intended perhaps to symbolize the tortuous journey of Christian pilgrims toward salvation. Garden mazes walled by clipped hedges are also called labyrinths, as, for example, that at Hampton Court, London, planted in the 17th century and still extant.
Lacedaemon
In Greek mythology, Lacedaemon was a son of Zeus and Taygete. He married Sparte. He was King of Lacedaemon and named the capital city Sparta after his wife.
Lachesis
See Fates.
Laestrygones
race of giant cannibals. They were ruled by Lamus. At Telepylos Odysseus lost all but one of his ships to them.
Laius
in Greek mythology, king of Thebes, husband of Jocasta, and father of Oedipus. Having been told by the oracle at Delphi that he would be killed by his own son, Laius exposed the newborn child on a mountainside. A shepherd rescued the child, however, and adopted him. The prophecy was fulfilled when Oedipus as a young man unknowingly killed his father.
LaocoŲn
in Greek mythology, priest of Apollo, god of the sun, or of Poseidon, god of the sea. In the last year of the Trojan War, the Greeks prepared a giant wooden horse, which they pretended was a votive offering to the goddess Athena, but which was in reality a hiding place for Greek soldiers. LaocoŲn, fearing a ruse, vainly urged the Trojan leaders to destroy the gift, warning "I fear the Greeks even when they come bearing gifts." While the people were trying to decide if they should risk bringing the horse inside the city walls for the sake of the favorable omens supposedly connected with it, Poseidon, the divinity most bitter toward Troy, sent two fearful sea serpents swimming to the land. Advancing straight to the spot where LaocoŲn stood with his two sons, the serpents wrapped their coils around the children. LaocoŲn struggled to tear them away, but they overpowered him and strangled him and his sons. The Trojans, convinced that this was a signal from heaven to ignore LaocoŲn's advice, brought the horse within the city walls and thus directly contributed to their own destruction. The most famous literary interpretation of the LaocoŲn legend is in Vergil's Aeneid. The most famous representation in art is a marble sculpture of the priest and his sons being crushed in the coils of the serpents; this group, known simply as LaocoŲn dates from the 1st century BC, and is now in the Vatican in Rome.
Laodamia
in Greek mythology, wife of the Thessalian commander Protesilaus, the first Greek slain when the Greek fleet reached the coast of Troy in the Trojan War. When the news of her husband's death reached Laodamia, she implored the gods to let her see him once again if only for a short time. Her pleas were answered, and the god Hermes led her husband back from the underworld for a 3-hour visit. When it came time for him to return, however, Laodamia could not bear to give him up. She killed herself and returned with her husband to the underworld.
Laodice
Laodice was a daughter of Priam and the wife of Helicaon. When Troy fell she was swallowed by the earth.
Laomedon
in Greek mythology, king of Troy and father of Priam, later king of Troy. At the command of the god Zeus, Poseidon, god of the sea, and Apollo, god of the sun, built for Laomedon the walls of Troy. When the walls were finished, however, Laomedon refused to pay them the wages agreed on, and Poseidon sent a sea serpent to ravage the country. To appease the monster, the desperate Laomedon agreed to sacrifice his daughter Hesione. As the maiden sat on the shore waiting to be devoured, she was rescued by the hero Hercules. In return for saving Hesione, Laomedon had promised Hercules the immortal horses that Zeus had given to his grandfather. But when Hercules had slain the monster, Laomedon refused to keep his promise. Hercules then sacked the city and killed the king.
Lares
in Roman mythology, tutelary deities of the crossroads and country districts; also, and more commonly, the gods of the household. The lares compitales were worshiped at the compitum, or "crossroads" where four pieces of property joined. The lares familiares, or "household gods," which were sharply distinguished from the lares compitales, are considered by some modern scholars to have been the deified spirits of dead ancestors, which were worshiped as good spirits in contrast to the malevolent tormenters, the larvae; according to a more widely accepted theory, the household Lares were likewise originally spirits of the tilled fields and only later invested with domestic functions. The lar familiaris, or guardian spirit of the household, was the center of the family worship, and the word lar was frequently employed by Roman writers in the sense of "home." During the period of the Roman Republic each home had only one lar familiaris, but under the Roman Empire two Lares were regularly worshiped, and they came to be identified with the Penates. The regular state religion included the worship of "public Lares," or lares praestites, guardians of the city, who had a temple and an altar on the Via Sacra near the Palatine Hill.
Larissa
Larissa was a city in Thessaly where Achilles was reportedly born.
Leda
in Greek mythology, wife of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, and the mother of Castor and Polydeuces, Clytemnestra, and Helen of Troy. After the god Zeus had wooed her in the guise of a swan, she laid two eggs. From one were hatched Pollux and Helen, who were immortal children of Zeus, and from the other Castor and Clytemnestra, who were mortal children of Tyndareus.
Lemnos
small island at the mouth of the Hellespont. Hephaestus landed on Lemnos when Zeus threw him out of heaven, and set up a forge on the island.
Lethe
in Greek mythology, the river of forgetfulness, situated in the underworld. The spirits of the dead drank from its waters to forget the sorrows of their earthly life before entering Elysium. When the Trojan prince Aeneas visited the world of the dead, he found a great number of souls wandering on the banks of the stream. His father, Anchises, with whom he was joyously reunited, told him that before these spirits could live again in the world above, they must drink of the river of oblivion to forget the happiness they had experienced in Elysium.
Leto
in Greek mythology, daughter of the Titans Phoebe and Coeus, and the mother of Artemis, goddess of the bow and of hunting. She was loved by the god Zeus, who, fearing the jealousy of his wife, Hera, banished Leto when she was about to bear his child. All countries and islands were also afraid of Hera's wrath and refused the desperate Leto a home where her child could be born. Finally, in her wanderings, she set foot on a small island floating in the Aegean Sea. The island, which was called Delos, was a rocky, barren place, but when Leto reached it and asked for refuge, it welcomed her hospitably. At that moment four great pillars rose from the bottom of the sea to hold the island firmly moored forever after.
Leuce
Leuce was a nymph loved by Hades. He turned her into a white poplar tree.
Leucothea
friendly sea-goddess who assisted Odysseus in his dangerous voyage. She was the daughter of Cadmus and originally the wife of Athamas, in which capacity she bore the name of Ino. She had incurred the wrath of Hera because she had suckled the infant Bacchus, and was pursued by her raving husband and thrown into the sea where she was saved by a dolphin and subsequently took her place as a marine deity under the name of Leucothea.
Liber
See Dionysus.
Libera
Roman name for the Greek goddess Persephone.
Litai
goddess of recompense.
Luna
Roman name of the Greek goddess Selene.
Lutinus
Roman name for the Greek god Priapus.
Maenads
See Bacchus.
Maia
daughter of Atlas and the mother of Hermes.
Manes
in Roman mythology, spirits of the dead, apparently hostile, and therefore euphemistically termed di manes, the "kindly ones." Sometimes the Manes were identified with di parentes, or "dead ancestors" living in the underworld, who came forth only on certain days, at which time propitiatory offerings were made to them.
Mars
in Roman mythology, god of war. One of the most important Roman deities, Mars was regarded as the father of the Roman people because he was the father of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome. Although his original nature and functions are obscure, Mars was identified by the Romans with the Greek god of war, Ares. The month of March was named for Mars. To commemorate his victory over the assasins of Julius Caesar in 42 BC, Emperor Augustus honored Mars with the cult title Ultor (Avenger) and a new temple.
Marsyas
in Greek mythology, one of the satyrs. He found the flute that Athena, the goddess of cities, handicrafts, and wisdom, had invented and later discarded because playing on it puffed out her cheeks and distorted her features. Marsyas became such an accomplished musician that he challenged the god Apollo, who played the lyre, to a contest, the winner of which would have the right to punish the loser. The Muses awarded the victory to Apollo. The god thereupon flayed Marsyas, from whose blood the river Marsyas sprang.
Medea
in Greek mythology, sorceress, the daughter of AeŽtes, king of Colchis. When the hero Jason, in command of the Argonauts, reached Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece, Medea fell hopelessly in love with him. In return for Jason's pledge of everlasting fidelity and his promise to take her back to Greece with him, she used her magic gifts to enable him to deceive her father and obtain the fleece. Medea then sailed away from Colchis with Jason, taking Apsyrtus, her young brother, with her. To escape from AeŽtes's pursuit, Medea killed Apsyrtus and scattered his remains on the sea. The king stopped to gather them up, and the delay enabled Jason and his party to escape. In another legend, it was Jason who killed Apsyrtus after AeŽtes had sent him in pursuit of the fugitives. When Jason and Medea reached Greece, they found that Jason's wicked uncle Pelias had been responsible for the death of Jason's parents. To avenge their deaths, Jason once again asked Medea to aid him with her magic. Responsive as always to his wishes, Medea brought about the death of Pelias by a cunning trick. Telling his daughters she knew how they could make their aging parent young again, she dismembered an old sheep and boiled the pieces. After she uttered a charm, a frisky young lamb jumped from the pot of hot water. The daughters were convinced they could similarly restore their father to his youth. So, after Medea had given Pelias a powerful sleeping potion, they were persuaded to cut him into pieces, but Medea then disappeared without saying the magic words that would bring him back to life. After this Jason and Medea fled to Corinth, where two sons were born to them. They lived happily there until Jason fell in love with the daughter of King Creon of Corinth. In revenge, Medea killed her rival by sending her a poisoned robe. Fearing that Creon would attempt to avenge the death of his daughter by harming her sons, Medea killed them. Medea escaped the wrath of Jason by leaving Corinth in a winged car and fleeing to Athens. There she achieved great influence over King Aegeus. Through her sorcery, she realized that Aegeus was unknowingly the father of Theseus, a young hero, who was arriving in Athens. She did not wish to have her influence with Aegeus disturbed by the appearance of a son, so she plotted with Aegeus to invite Theseus to a banquet and give him a poisoned cup. Aegeus willingly conspired with her through fear that the Athenians would prefer the popular young hero to him and would want to place Theseus on the throne. Fortunately, Theseus made himself known to his father, who dashed the poisoned cup to the ground. Medea escaped the wrath of Aegeus by fleeing to Asia.
Meditrina
Roman goddess of health. She was a sister of Hygea. Unlike Hygea who preserved good health, Meditrina restored good health and was celebrated in a festival held in October when old and new wine were drunk together to restore good health.
Medusa
Medusa was the youngest and most beautiful of the gorgons. She loved Poseidon and desecrated the temple of Athene by meeting Poseidon there. For this she was punished by having her hair turned to snakes. The result was her appearance was so hideous to behold that it would turn the viewer to stone.
Megapenthes
son of Proetus and King of Argos. He exchanged his dominion with that of Perseus and afterwards killed Perseus.
Meleager
in Greek mythology, son of Oeneus and Althea, king and queen of Calydon. Meleager led the hunt for a boar that the goddess Artemis sent to devastate the country. The hero finally killed the animal, but gave the head and skin to the huntress Atalanta, who had been the first to wound the beast and with whom Meleager was in love. When his maternal uncles, angered at this award, took the trophies from Atalanta, Meleager killed them.
Melpomene
Melpomene was the muse of tragedy. She was a daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne. She is generally represented as a young woman, with vine leaves surrounding her head and holding in her hand a tragic mask. She carried a sword.
Memnon
in Greek mythology, king of Ethiopia, the son of the Trojan prince Tithonus and of Eos, goddess of the dawn. In the tenth year of the Trojan War, Memnon brought his army to the assistance of Troy. He fought bravely but was eventually killed by the Greek hero Achilles. To comfort Memnon's mother, however, the god Zeus made him immortal. A colossal statue near Thebes in Egypt was said to represent Memnon.
Menelaus
in Greek mythology, king of Sparta, brother of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and husband of Helen of Troy. When Helen was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris, Menelaus organized an expedition to bring her back. Under the leadership of Agamemnon, Menelaus and the other Greek kings set sail for Troy. At the close of the ensuing Trojan War, Menelaus was one of the Greeks who hid in the wooden horse and sacked the city. After being reconciled with Helen, Menelaus set out for Greece. After a series of adventures in the eastern Mediterranean,Menelaus and Helen finally reached Sparta. There Menelaus prospered greatly, and he and Helen enjoyed a long and happy life. According to Homer's Odyssey, Menelaus was promised a place in Elysium after his death.
Mentor
in Greek mythology, elderly friend and counselor of the hero Odysseus and tutor of his son Telemachus. In the Odyssey of Homer, the goddess Athena frequently assumes the form of Mentor when she appears to Odysseus or Telemachus. In modern English the tutor's name has become an eponym for a wise, trustworthy counselor or teacher.
Mercury
in Roman mythology, messenger of the gods, the son of the god Jupiter and of Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas. Mercury was also the god of merchants and of trading and shared many of the attributes of the Greek god Hermes. The worship of Mercury was introduced into Rome in 495 BC when a temple was dedicated to him near the Circus Maximus. His festival was celebrated on May 15.
Midas
in Greek mythology, king of Phrygia in Asia Minor. For his hospitality to the satyr Silenus, Dionysus, god of wine, offered to grant Midas anything he wished. The king requested that everything he touched be turned to gold, but he soon regretted his choice because even his food and water were changed to gold. To free himself from the enchantment, Midas was instructed by Dionysus to bathe in the Pactolus River. It was said that afterward the sands of the river contained gold. Midas was also one of the judges in a musical contest between the gods Apollo and Pan. When Midas preferred Pan's playing of the pipes to Apollo's playing of the lyre, Apollo changed Midas's ears to those of an ass. Midas was able to conceal his ears from all but his barber, who whispered the secret into a hole in the ground. When the wind blew, the reeds that grew over the hole repeated the story.
Minerva
in Roman mythology, goddess of handicrafts. Identified from an early date with the Greek goddess Athena, Minerva was the patron of the arts, and trades. With Jupiter and Juno, she was worshiped in the great temple that crowned the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome.
Minos
in Greek mythology, legendary ruler of Crete. Some ancient writers identified several kings by his name, especially Minos the Elder and his grandson Minos the Younger, but this distinction never appears in the accounts themselves. Minos was the son of Zeus, father of the gods, and of the princess Europa. From the city of Knossos he colonized many of the Aegean islands, and he was widely considered a just ruler. In the most famous story about Minos, he refused to sacrifice a certain bull. The god Poseidon punished him by making his wife PasiphaŽ fall in love with the animal, and she subsequently gave birth to the Minotaur. According to Attic legend, Minos was a tyrant who took harsh measures to avenge the death of his son Androgeos at the hands of the Athenians. At stated intervals he exacted a tribute from Athens of seven youths and seven maidens to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Minos eventually met his death in Sicily, and he then became one of the judges of the dead in the underworld. The legends concerning Minos probably have a historical basis and reflect the age when Crete was supreme in the Aegean region and certain cities of Greece were subject to the kings of Knossos.
Minotaur
in Greek mythology, monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. It was the offspring of PasiphaŽ, queen of Crete, and a snow-white bull the god Poseidon had sent to PasiphaŽ's husband, King Minos. When Minos refused to sacrifice the beast, Poseidon made PasiphaŽ fall in love with it. After she gave birth to the Minotaur, Minos ordered the architect and inventor Daedalus to build a labyrinth so intricate that escape from it without assistance would be impossible. Here the Minotaur was confined and fed with young human victims Minos forced Athens to send him as tribute. The Greek hero Theseus was determined to end the useless sacrifice and offered himself as one of the victims. When Theseus reached Crete, Minos's daughter Ariadne fell in love with him. She helped him escape by giving him a ball of thread, which he fastened to the door of the maze and unwound as he made his way through it. When he came upon the sleeping Minotaur, he beat the monster to death and then led the other sacrificial youths and maidens to safety by following the thread back to the entrance.
Mnemosyne
in Greek mythology, the goddess of memory. She and Zeus, father of the gods, were the parents of the nine Muses. Mnemosyne was one of the pre-Olympian Titans, who were the children of the god of the heavens, Uranus, and the goddess of the earth, Gaea. She signified the memory of great events.
Moerae
Greek goddess of right and reason.
Momus
ancient Greek god of jeering.
Morpheus
in Greek mythology, god of dreams, the son of Hypnos, god of sleep. Morpheus formed the dreams that came to those asleep. He also represented human beings in dreams. The name Morpheus is derived from the Greek word for "shape" or "form."
Muses
in Greek mythology, nine goddesses and daughters of the god Zeus and of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Muses presided over the arts and sciences and were believed to inspire all artists, especially poets, philosophers, and musicians. Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, Clio of history, Euterpe of lyric poetry, Melpomene of tragedy, Terpsichore of choral songs and the dance, Erato of love poetry, Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, Urania of astronomy, and Thalia of comedy. They were said to be the companions of the Graces and of Apollo, the god of music. They sat near the throne of Zeus, king of the gods, and sang of his greatness and of the origin of the world and its inhabitants and the glorious deeds of the great heroes. The Muses were worshiped throughout ancient Greece, especially at Helicon in Boeotia and at Pieria in Macedonia.
Myrmidons
in Greek mythology, inhabitants of the island of Aegina in the Gulf of Saronikůs, the followers of Achilles during the Trojan War. During the reign of Achilles' grandfather Aeacus, Hera, the wife of Zeus, sent a plague that destroyed the island's inhabitants, because Zeus loved Aegina, the maiden for whom the island was named. Aeacus, in despair, prayed to Zeus; seeing a troop of ants as he did so, he asked that they be transformed into people numerous enough to fill his empty city. Zeus answered his prayer in this manner, and because Aegina was repopulated from an anthill, its people became known as Myrmidons, from the Greek word meaning "ants" (myrmÍkes).
Myrtilus
son of Hermes.
Naiads
in Greek mythology, nymphs of brooks, springs, and fountains. Endowed with youth and beauty, they were gifted in music and dancing and the social graces. They were also thought to have healing and prophetic powers.
Narcissus
in Greek mythology, a handsome youth, the son of the river god Cephissus. Because of his great beauty many women fell in love with Narcissus, but he repulsed their advances. Among the lovelorn maidens was the nymph Echo, who had incurred the displeasure of Hera and had been condemned by the goddess never to speak again except to repeat what was said to her. Echo was therefore unable to tell Narcissus of her love, but one day, as Narcissus was walking in the woods, he became separated from his companions. When he shouted, "Is anyone here?" Echo joyfully answered, "Here, here." Unable to see her hidden among the trees, Narcissus cried "Come!" Back came the answer, "Come, come," as Echo stepped forth from the woods with outstretched arms. Narcissus cruelly refused to accept Echo's love; she was so humiliated that she hid in a cave and wasted away until nothing was left of her but her voice. To punish Narcissus, the avenging goddess Nemesis made Narcissus fall hopelessly in love with his own beautiful face as he saw it reflected in a pool. As he gazed in fascination, unable to remove himself from his image, he gradually pined away. At the place where his body had lain grew a beautiful flower, honoring the name and memory of Narcissus.
Nauplius
son of Amymone and Poseidon. He was the wrecker of Nauplia.
Nemesis
in Greek mythology, personification of divine justice and the vengeance of the gods, sometimes called the daughter of Night. She represented the righteous anger of the gods against the proud and haughty and against breakers of the law; she distributed good or bad fortune to all mortals. No one could escape her power.
Neoptolemus
also called Pyrrhus, in Greek legend and poetry, the son of the warrior Achilles and Deidamia of Scyros. Neoptolemus was reared at Scyros and, after the death of Achilles, was taken to Troy by the hero Odysseus in the final year of the Trojan War, because it was prophesied that the Greeks could not take Troy without the help of Neoptolemus. He was among the warriors who entered Troy in the Trojan horse, and when the city was captured, he killed Priam, king of Troy. Neoptolemus never returned to Scyros, but settled instead in Epirus. He was later considered the ancestor of the Molossian kings of that region. He married Hermione, daughter of Menelaus and Helen of Troy, king and queen of Sparta. Slain at Delphia, Neoptolemus was buried within the precincts of the temple there, and festivals were held in his honor every eight years.
Neptune
in Roman mythology, god of the sea, son of the god Saturn, and brother of Jupiter, king of the gods, and Pluto, god of the dead. Originally a god of springs and streams, he became identified with the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon. His festival was celebrated on July 23.
Nereids
in Greek mythology, nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea. They were the 50 lovely daughters of Nereus, the old man of the sea, and his wife, Doris. They lived at the bottom of the sea, but often came to the surface to aid sailors and other travelers. They were believed to ride dolphins and other sea animals. The most famous of the Nereids were Thetis, the mother of the Greek hero Achilles; Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon, god of the sea; and Galatea, who was loved by the Cyclops Polyphemus.
Nereus
in Greek mythology, sea god, son of the sea god Pontus and Gaea, Mother Earth, called the old man of the sea. He was married to Doris, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus, by whom he had 50 beautiful daughters, the nymphs of the sea, called the Nereids. Nereus lived at the bottom of the sea.
Nessus
See Hercules.
Nestor
in Greek mythology, king of Pylos, son of Neleus and Chloris. In his early life, Nestor was a distinguished warrior and participant in many of the great events of the day. He took part in the fight of the Lapiths against the centaurs, was among the Calydonian boar hunters, and sailed with the Argonauts in quest of the Golden Fleece. Although well advanced in years when the Trojan War began, he sailed with the other Greek heroes against Troy. Having ruled over three generations, he was renowned for his wisdom and justice, and he served as wise counselor to the Greeks during the war. After the fall of Troy, Nestor returned to Pylos and welcomed Telemachus when the youth came for information about the fate of his father, Odysseus.
Nike
in Greek mythology, goddess of victory, daughter of the Titan Pallas and the river Styx. Nike fought with the god Zeus in his battle against the Titans, and in Greek art is sometimes represented as winged and carrying a wreath or palm of victory. The Nike of SamothrŠki, or Winged Victory (Louvre, Paris), is one of the finest pieces of Hellenistic sculpture.
Niobe
in Greek mythology, daughter of Tantalus, and the queen of Thebes. Her husband, King Amphion, was a son of the god Zeus and a great musician. Niobe bore him six handsome sons and six beautiful daughters. Although she was happy, Niobe exhibited the same arrogance toward the gods that her father had shown (see Atreus, House of). Thus, she commanded the people of Thebes to worship her instead of the goddess Leto, who had only two children. The gods heard her words on far-off Mount Olympus and resolved to punish her. Leto's children, Apollo, god of prophecy and a master archer, and Artemis, goddess of the hunt, fired their arrows with deadly aim, killing all of Niobe's children. The grief-stricken Niobe was turned into a stone that was forever wet with her tears.
Notus
the south wind god.
Nymphs
in Greek and Roman mythology, lesser divinities or spirits of nature, dwelling in groves and fountains, forests, meadows, streams, and the sea, represented as young and beautiful maidens, fond of music and dancing. A nymph was a higher being than a human, but not immortal like a god. They were respected in mythology.The nymphs were distinguished according to the part of nature they personified, and included the Oceanids, or daughters of Oceanus, the ocean that flows around the earth; the Nereids, or daughters of the sea god Nereus, nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea; the Potameides, river nymphs; the Naiads, nymphs of springs and freshwater streams; the Oreads, nymphs of mountains and grottoes; and the Dryads, nymphs of the forests.
Nyx
a goddess of night. She was a daughter of Chaos. She married Erebus.
Oceanides
The oceanides were 40 sea nymphs of the ocean. They were the daughters of Oceanus.
Oceanus
in Greek mythology, one of the Titans, the son of Uranus and Gaea. With his wife, the Titan Tethys, he ruled over Ocean, a great river encircling the earth, which was believed to be a flat circle. The nymphs of this great river, the Oceanids, were their daughters, and the gods of all the streams on earth were their sons. In later legends, when Zeus, chief of the Olympian gods, and his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, overthrew the Titans and assumed their power, Poseidon and his wife, Amphitrite, succeeded Oceanus and Tethys as rulers of the waters.
Ocypete
one of the harpies.
Odysseus
in Greek legend, a Greek hero, ruler of the island of Ithaca and one of the leaders of the Greek army during the Trojan War. Homer's Odyssey recounts Odysseus's adventures and ultimate return home ten years after the fall of Troy. Initially, Odysseus was mentioned as the son of Laertes, king of Ithaca, although in later tradition Sisyphus, king of Corinth, was considered his real father, his mother having later married Laertes. At first Odysseus refused to accompany the Greeks to Troy, feigning madness by sowing his fields with salt, but the Greeks placed his son Telemachus in front of the plow, and Odysseus was compelled to admit his ruse and join the invading army. Throughout the Iliad of Homer, he is portrayed as a brave, sagacious, cunning warrior, and he is awarded the famous armor of the Greek warrior Achilles on the latter's death. Odysseus was responsible for bringing the Greek heroes Neoptolemus and Philoctetes to Troy for the final stage of the conflict. In the Odyssey it is said that he proposed the strategem of the Trojan Horse, the means by which Troy was conquered. In the works of later classical writers, particularly those of the Greek poet Pindar, the Greek playwright Euripides, and the Roman poet Vergil, Odysseus is characterized as a cowardly and scheming politician. In Latin his name is rendered as Ulysses.
Oedipus
in Greek mythology, king of Thebes, the son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes. Laius was warned by an oracle that he would be killed by his own son. Determined to avert his fate, he bound together the feet of his newborn child and left him to die on a lonely mountain. The infant was rescued by a shepherd, however, and given to Polybus, king of Corinth, who named the child Oedipus ("Swollen-foot") and raised him as his own son. The boy did not know that he was adopted, and when an oracle proclaimed that he would kill his father, he left Corinth. In the course of his wanderings he met and killed Laius, believing that the king and his followers were a band of robbers, and thus unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy. Lonely and homeless, Oedipus arrived at Thebes, which was beset by a dreadful monster called the Sphinx. The frightful creature frequented the roads to the city, killing and devouring all travelers who could not answer the riddle that she put to them. When Oedipus successfully solved her riddle, the Sphinx killed herself. Believing that King Laius had been slain by unknown robbers, and grateful to Oedipus for ridding them of the Sphinx, the Thebans rewarded Oedipus by making him their king and giving him Queen Jocasta as his wife. For many years the couple lived in happiness, not knowing that they were really mother and son. Then a terrible plague descended on the land, and the oracle proclaimed that Laius's murderer must be punished. Oedipus soon discovered that he had unknowingly killed his father. In grief and despair at her incestuous life, Jocasta killed herself, and when Oedipus realized that she was dead and that their children were accursed, he put out his eyes and resigned the throne. He lived in Thebes for several years, but was finally banished. Accompanied by his daughter Antigone, he wandered for many years. He finally arrived at Colonus, a shrine near Athens sacred to the powerful goddesses called the Eumenides. At this shrine for supplicants Oedipus died, after the god Apollo had promised him that the place of his death would remain sacred and would bring great benefit to the city of Athens, which had given shelter to the wanderer.
Oeonus
son of Licymnius. He was attacked by a dog belonging to the sons of Hippocoon, he threw a stone at the dog and in revenge the sons of Hippocoon killed him.
Oileus
one of the Argonauts, he was the father of Ajax.
Omphale
queen of Lydia. She bought Hercules as a slave who stayed with her for 3 years.
Oneiros
ancient Greek god of dreams.
Ops
Roman goddess of plenty and the personification of abundance.
Oreads
in Greek mythology, nymphs of grottoes and mountains. One of the most famous Oreads was Echo, who was deprived by the goddess Hera of the power of speech and could only repeat the last words that were said to her.
Orestes
in Greek mythology, son of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and Clytemnestra. He was still a boy when his mother and her lover, Aegisthus, murdered Agamemnon. Orestes' older sister Electra, fearing for the boy's life, sent him to live with their uncle Strophius, king of Phocis. There he grew up with Pylades, son of Strophius, who became his lifelong companion. When he reached maturity, Orestes realized that he had a sacred duty to avenge the death of his father, but the crime of matricide was abhorrent to him. He consulted the oracle at Delphi and was advised to kill the two who had murdered his father. With Pylades he returned to Mycenae and avenged Agamemnon's death. Pursued by the avenging goddesses the Erinyes, Orestes wandered through many lands. Finally, at the command of the god Apollo, he went to Athens to plead his cause before the goddess Athena and a council of nobles, the Areopagus. Orestes declared himself guilty of matricide, but stated that he had been cleansed of guilt through suffering. The court, accepting the plea, acquitted Orestes. According to the dramas of the Greek playwright Euripides, some of the Erinyes refused to accept the verdict and continued to pursue Orestes. In despair he again consulted the Delphic oracle. He was advised to go to the land of the Taurians (modern Crimea) and steal the sacred image of Artemis from the temple of the goddess. With Pylades he went to the temple and discovered that the priestess was his sister Iphigenia, whom he had thought to be dead. With her help they stole the sacred statue and returned with it to Mycenae. Thereafter the Erinyes let Orestes live in peace.
Orion
in Greek mythology, handsome giant and mighty hunter, the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and Euryale, the Gorgon. Orion fell in love with Metrope, the daughter of Oenopion, king of Chios, and sought her in marriage. Oenopion, however, constantly deferred his consent to the marriage, and Orion attempted to gain possession of the maiden by violence. Incensed at his behavior, her father, with the aid of the god Dionysus, threw him into a deep sleep and blinded him. Orion then consulted an oracle, who told him he could regain his sight by going to the east and letting the rays of the rising sun fall on his eyes. His sight restored, he lived on Crete as the huntsman of the goddess Artemis. The goddess eventually killed him, however, because she was jealous of his affection for Aurora, goddess of the dawn. After Orion's death, Artemis placed him in the heavens as a constellation.
Orpheus
in Greek mythology, poet and musician, the son of the muse Calliope (see Muses) and Apollo, god of music, or Oeagrus, king of Thrace. He was given the lyre by Apollo and became such an excellent musician that he had no rival among mortals. When Orpheus played and sang, he moved everything animate and inanimate. His music enchanted the trees and rocks and tamed wild beats, and even the rivers turned in their course to follow him. Orpheus is best known for his ill-fated marriage to the lovely nymph Eurydice. Soon after the wedding the bride was stung by a viper and died. Overwhelmed with grief, Orpheus determined to go to the underworld and try to bring her back, something no mortal had ever done. Hades, the ruler of the underworld, was so moved by his playing that he gave Eurydice back to Orpheus on the one condition that he not look back until they reached the upperworld. Orpheus could not control his eagerness, however, and as he gained the light of day he looked back a moment too soon, and Eurydice vanished. In his despair, Orpheus forsook human company and wandered in the wilds, playing for the rocks and trees and rivers. Finally a fierce band of Thracian women, who were followers of the god Dionysus, came upon the gentle musician and killed him. When they threw his severed head in the river Hebrus, it continued to call for Eurydice, and was finally carried to the shore of Lesbos, where the Muses buried it. After Orpheus's death his lyre became the constellation Lyra. For the importance of Orpheus in Greek religious history, see Orphism.
Orphism
in classical religion, mystic cult of ancient Greece, believed to have been drawn from the writings of the legendary poet and musician Orpheus. Fragmentary poetic passages, including inscriptions on gold tablets found in the graves of Orphic followers from the 6th century BC, indicate that Orphism was based on a cosmogony that centered on the myth of the god Dionysus Zagreus, the son of the deities Zeus and Persephone. Furious because Zeus wished to make his son ruler of the universe, the jealous Titans dismembered and devoured the young god. Athena, goddess of wisdom, was able to rescue his heart, which she brought to Zeus, who swallowed it and gave birth to a new Dionysus. Zeus then punished the Titans by destroying them with his lightning and from their ashes created the human race. As a result, humans had a dual nature: the earthly body was the heritage of the earth-born Titans; the soul came from the divinity of Dionysus, whose remains had been mingled with that of the Titans. According to the tenets of Orphism, people should endeavor to rid themselves of the Titanic or evil element in their nature and should seek to preserve the Dionysiac or divine nature of their being. The triumph of the Dionysiac element would be assured by following the Orphic rites of purification and asceticism. Through a long series of reincarnated lives, people would prepare for the afterlife. If they had lived in evil, they would be punished, but if they had lived in holiness, after death their souls would be completely liberated from Titanic elements and reunited with the divinity.
Palladium
in Greek mythology, statue of the goddess Athena holding a shield and a spear. It was believed to have been hurled from Olympus by the god Zeus at the founding of Troy. The safety of a city was believed to depend on the careful preservation of the image in the sanctuary of the goddess. In the tenth year of the Trojan War the Greek heroes Diomedes and Odysseus stole the Palladium, thus facilitating the fall of Troy. The Romans, tracing their ancestry from the Trojans, believed that the Palladium, which was kept at Rome in the temple of Vesta, goddess of the hearth, was the Trojan original, brought to Italy by the hero Aeneas after the sack of Troy.
Pales
Roman god of cattle-rearing.
Pallas
In Greek mythology Pallas was one of the Titans. He was a son of Crius and Eurybia and brother of Astraeus and Perses. He married Styx and fathered Zelus, Cratos, Bia and Nike.
Pallas Athena
See Athena.
Pan
in Greek mythology, god of woods, fields, and fertility, the son of Hermes, messenger of the gods, and a nymph. Part animal, with the horns, hoofs, and ears of a goat, he was a rollicking deity, the god of the shepherds and the goatherds. A wonderful musician, he accompanied, with his pipe of reeds, the woodland nymphs when they danced. He invented this pipe when the nymph Syrinx, whom he was pursuing, was transformed into a bed of reeds to escape him; Pan then took reeds of unequal length and played on them. The god was always wooing one of the nymphs by playing on his pipes, but was always rejected because of his ugliness. Pan's haunts were the mountains and caves and all wild places, but his favorite spot was Arcadia, where he was born. The word panic is supposed to have been derived from the fears of travelers who heard the sound of his pipes at night in the wilderness.
Pandarus
in Greek mythology, Lycian who fought as an ally of the Trojans in the Trojan War. A famous archer, he broke the truce between the Greeks and the Trojans by wounding Menelaus, king of Sparta. Pandarus was later slain by the Greek hero Diomedes.
Pandion
son of Erichthonius, the King of Athens.
Pandora
in Greek mythology, first woman on earth, created by the god Hephaestus at the request of the god Zeus. Zeus wished to counteract the blessing of fire, which had been stolen from the gods by the Titan Prometheus and given to human beings. Endowed by the gods with every attribute of beauty and goodness, Pandora was sent to Epimetheus, who was happy to have her for his wife, although he had been warned by his brother Prometheus never to accept anything from Zeus. In bestowing their gifts on Pandora, the gods had given her a box, warning her never to open it. Her curiosity finally overcame her, however, and she opened the mysterious box, from which flew innumerable plagues for the body and sorrows for the mind. In terror, she tried to shut the box, but only Hope, the one good thing among many evils the box had contained, remained to comfort humanity in its misfortunes. In another legend, the box contained blessings that would have been preserved if Pandora had not allowed them to escape.
Parcae
See Fates.
Paris
also called Alexander, in Greek mythology, son of Priam and Hecuba, king and queen of Troy. A prophecy had warned that Paris would someday be the ruin of Troy and, therefore, Priam exposed him on Mount Ida, where he was found and brought up by shepherds. He was tending his sheep when an argument arose among the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite as to who was the most beautiful. The three goddesses asked him to be the judge. Each tried to bribe him, Hera promising to make him ruler of Europe and Asia, Athena to help him lead Troy to victory against the Greeks, and Aphrodite to give him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Paris favored Aphrodite, even though at the time he was in love with the nymph Oenone. His decision made Hera and Athena bitter enemies of his country. This and the abduction of Helen, in Menelaus's absence, brought about the Trojan War. In the tenth year of the siege of Troy that followed, Paris and Menelaus met in hand-to-hand combat. Menelaus would easily have been the victor except for Aphrodite, who enveloped Paris in a cloud, and carried him back to Troy. Before the fall of the city, Paris was mortally wounded by the archer Philoctetes. Paris then went to Oenone, who had a magic drug that could cure him. She refused him, but when he died, Oenone killed herself out of misery.
Pasiphae
the wife of King Minos of Crete and mother of Phaedra and of the Minotaur.
Patroclus
in Greek mythology, dearest friend of the hero Achilles whom he accompanied to the Trojan War. In the tenth year of the conflict Achilles withdrew his troops, the Myrmidons, from combat because of a quarrel with Agamemnon, commander of the Greek forces. Without Achilles, the Greeks began to lose to the Trojans. Finally, as the Trojans began to burn the Greek ships, Patroclus persuaded Achilles to allow him to lead the Myrmidons to the rescue. Clad in Achilles' armor, Patroclus led the Greeks to victory, forcing the Trojans back to the walls of their city. In his moment of glory, however, Patroclus was slain by the Trojan commander, Hector. To avenge his friend's death, Achilles rejoined the battle and killed Hector.
Pax
alternative name for Eirene.
Pegasus
in Greek mythology, winged horse, son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and the Gorgon Medusa. Pegasus sprang from Medusa's neck when she was killed by the hero Perseus. Shortly after its birth, the magic steed struck the ground on Mount Helicon, and on the spot a spring, later sacred to the Muses and believed to be a source for poetic inspiration, began to flow. All longed in vain to catch and tame the creature, and this became the obsession of Bellerophon, prince of Corinth. On the advice of a seer, Bellerophon spent a night in the temple of the goddess Athena. As he slept, the goddess appeared to him with a golden bridle and told him that it would enable him to capture Pegasus. When Bellerophon awoke, he found the golden bridle beside him, and with it he easily captured and tamed the winged horse. Pegasus thereafter proved to be a great help to Bellerophon and aided the hero in his adventures against the Amazons and the Chimaera. Bellerophon was overcome by his own pride, however. When he attempted to fly to the top of Olympus to join the gods, the wise horse threw him, leaving Bellerophon to wander disconsolately about, hated by the gods. Pegasus found shelter in the Olympian stalls and was entrusted by Zeus with bringing him his lightning and thunderbolts.
Peirithous
King of the Lapiths and a son of Ixion and Dia. He waged war against the Centaurs and helped Theseus carry off the Amazon Antiope and later Helen. He tried to abduct Persephone, but was bound to a stone seat by her husband Hades and remained a prisoner in the underworld.
Peleus
in Greek mythology, king of the Myrmidons in ThessalŪa, the son of Aeacus, king of AŪyina. He took part in the hunt for the Calydonian boar and the journey of the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, but he is especially famed for his marriage to Thetis, one of the Nereids, who was destined to bear a son mightier than his father. Although Zeus, father of the gods, loved Thetis, he wished her married to a mortal because of this prophecy. Aided by the gods, Peleus lay in wait for Thetis by the shore, and in spite of her transformations into fire, water, and wild beasts, he held her fast until she returned to her original form. The marriage was attended by all the gods, with the exception of Eris, goddess of discord and strife, who, enraged at being excluded, threw into the gathering a golden apple inscribed "To the Most Beautiful." The award of the apple to Aphrodite, goddess of love, by the Trojan prince Paris led to the Trojan War. By Thetis, Peleus was the father of the Greek hero and warrior Achilles. Eventually Peleus and Thetis went to dwell among the Nereids. Peleus outlived both his son and his grandson Neoptolemus.
Pelias
in Greek mythology, son of Poseidon. Pelias usurped the throne of Iolcus from his uncle Aeson and sent Aeson's son Jason, the rightful heir, to carry off the Golden Fleece from Colchis, hoping that he would never return. With the aid of the sorceress Medea, however, Jason succeeded. Returning with Medea and the fleece, Jason found that Pelias had forced Jason's father to kill himself. In revenge Medea tricked Pelias's daughters into cutting him up and boiling him in the hope of magically restoring his youth.
Pelops
in Greek mythology, son of Tantalus. When he was a child, his father killed him and served his boiled flesh to the gods at a banquet. The gods realized the nature of the meal, punished Tantalus, and restored Pelops to life. The goddess Demeter, distracted by the loss of her daughter Persephone, had eaten the flesh of the left shoulder. When the body was put together again, the shoulder was replaced with one of ivory. Pelops later won the hand of Princess Hippodamia by winning a chariot race from her father, King Oenomaus of Pisa. Unknown to Pelops, the princess had bribed the charioteer Myrtilus to remove the linchpins from Oenomaus's chariot. Later Pelops quarreled with Myrtilus and hurled him into the sea. Before he drowned, the charioteer cursed Pelops, but the curse had no effect on Pelops but did on his children (see Atreus, House of). The Pelopůnnisos Peninsula of southern Greece is named in his honor.
Penates
in Roman mythology, gods of the storeroom, who were worshiped, along with the Lares, in every home as protectors of the house. They were often represented as dancing, holding a drinking horn as a symbol of prosperity. The Penates were also worshiped publicly as special protectors of the community and the state.
Penelope
in Greek mythology, daughter of Icarus, king of Sparta, wife of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and mother of Telemachus. Although her husband was gone for more than 20 years during and after the Trojan War, Penelope never doubted that he would return, and she remained faithful to him. She was wooed by many suitors who devoured and wasted Odysseus's property. Unwilling to choose a new husband, Penelope kept their advances in check under the pretext of completing a shroud that she was weaving for Laertes, her father-in-law. Each night she unraveled the work she completed during the day, and by this means avoided having to choose a husband. Finally betrayed by a maid, Penelope was compelled to finish the work. The suitors were preparing to force a decision when Odysseus returned in disguise, killed them, and revealed his identity to his faithful wife.
Peneus
river god. He was a son of Oceanus and Tethys.
Persephone
in Greek mythology, daughter of Zeus, father of the gods, and of Demeter, goddess of the earth and of agriculture. Hades, god of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone and wished to marry her. Although Zeus gave his consent, Demeter was unwilling. Hades, therefore, seized the maiden as she was gathering flowers and carried her off to his realm. As Demeter wandered in search of her lost daughter, the earth grew desolate. All vegetation died, and famine devastated the land. Finally Zeus sent Hermes, the messenger of the gods, to bring Persephone back to her mother. Before Hades would let her go, he asked her to eat a pomegranate seed, the food of the dead. She was thus compelled to return to the underworld for one-third of the year. As both the goddess of the dead and the goddess of the fertility of the earth, Persephone was a personification of the revival of nature in spring. The Eleusinian Mysteries were held in honor of her and her mother. Proserpine was the Latin counterpart of Persephone.
Perseus
in Greek mythology, slayer of the Gorgon Medusa; he was the son of Zeus, father of the gods, and of DanaŽ, daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos. Warned that he would be killed by his grandson, Acrisius locked mother and child in a chest and cast them into the sea. They drifted to the island of Seriphus, where they were rescued and where Perseus grew to manhood. Polydectes, king of Seriphus, fell in love with DanaŽ, and, fearing that Perseus might interfere with his plans, sent him to procure the head of Medusa, a monster whose glance turned men to stone. Aided by Hermes, messenger of the gods, Perseus made his way to the Gray Women, three old hags who shared one eye between them. Perseus took their eye and refused to return it until they gave him directions for reaching the nymphs of the north. From the nymphs he received winged sandals, a magic wallet that would fit whatever was put into it, and a cap to make him invisible. Equipped with a sword from Hermes that could never be bent or broken and a shield from the goddess Athena, which would protect him from being turned to stone, Perseus found Medusa and killed her. Invisible in his cap, he was able to escape the wrath of her sisters and with her head in the wallet flew on his winged sandals toward home. As he was passing Ethiopia, he rescued the princess Andromeda as she was about to be sacrificed to a sea monster and took her with him as his wife. At Seriphus he freed his mother from Polydectes by using Medusa's head to turn the king and his followers to stone. All then returned to Greece, where Perseus accidentally killed his grandfather Acrisius with a discus, thus fulfilling the prophecy. According to one legend, Perseus went to Asia, where his son Perses ruled over the Persians, from whom they were said to have gotten their name.
Phaea
Crommyonium Sow, a wild pig said to have been the offspring of Echidna and Typhon. It ravaged the town of Crommyon on the Isthmus of Corinth until it was destroyed by Theseus.
Phaedra
Phaedra was a daughter of Minos, King of Crete and Pasiphae. Her unrequited love for Hippolytus led to his death and her suicide.
Phaethon
in Greek mythology, son of Helios, god of the sun, and of the nymph Clymene. Helios had rashly promised to grant his son anything he wished, and PhaŽthon chose to drive the chariot of the sun across the sky. Vainly Helios tried to explain to him that no mortal could drive the chariot; PhaŽthon, however, insisted that his father keep his promise. Helios, after explaining the dreadful hazards, reluctantly yielded. Soon PhaŽthon realized that his father had been right. Terrified, he lost control of the horses, and driving too near the earth set it on fire. To save the world from utter destruction, the god Zeus hurled his thunderbolt at the rash young driver, killing him instantly. PhaŽthon fell to earth and according to legend was buried on the banks of the Eridanus River (now Po River).
Pheme
goddess of fame. She was a daughter of Gaea.
Philemon and Baucis
in Roman mythology, peasant couple of Phrygia, remarkable for their mutual love. When Jupiter, father of the gods, and his messenger, Mercury, wandered through Phrygia in human form seeking food and lodging, they were turned away by all except the aged Philemon and his wife, Baucis, who hospitably entertained them. As a reward for their kindness, Jupiter saved them from a flood that he sent to punish the Phrygians for their cruelty and changed Philemon and Baucis's humble cottage into a temple. He also swore to grant them anything they might wish, but they asked only to be priest and priestess of his temple and to die at the same time. Jupiter fulfilled his promise, and in their extreme old age he transformed Philemon and Baucis into an oak and linden tree, which grew from one trunk so they would never be separated. This marvelous tree stood for many years before the temple and was honored by the people.
Philoctetes
in Greek mythology, famous archer, the friend of the hero Hercules, who bequeathed to him his bow and poisoned arrows. On the way to the Trojan War, Philoctetes was bitten in the foot by a snake, and because the wound failed to heal, he was left behind on the island of Lemnos. In the final year of the war, when an oracle declared that the Greeks could not capture Troy without the arrows of Hercules, the hero Odysseus, accompanied by the warrior Diomedes or by Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, went to Lemnos and persuaded Philoctetes to come to Troy. After being treated for his wound by a Greek physician, Philoctetes joined the battle and killed the Trojan prince Paris. Returning to his home in northern Greece after the war, Philoctetes found that a revolt had broken out against him, whereupon he again set sail and settled in Italy.
Phlegethon
in Greek mythology, river of fire, one of the rivers of the lower world, along with Acheron, Styx, Lethe, and Cocytus.
Picus
a Roman god. He was the son of Saturnus and father of Faunus. His wife was Canens. He was a prophet and god of the forest.
Pitho
daughter of Aphrodite. She was the goddess of persuasion.
Pleiades
in Greek mythology, seven daughters of Atlas and of Pleione, the daughter of Oceanus. Their names were Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope. According to some versions of the myth, they committed suicide from grief at the fate of their father, Atlas, or at the death of their sisters, the Hyades. Other versions made them the attendants of Artemis, goddess of wildlife and of hunting, who were pursued by the giant hunter Orion, but were rescued by the gods and changed into doves. After their death, or metamorphosis, they were transformed into stars, but are still pursued across the sky by the constellation Orion.
Pleuron
son of Aetolus and Pronoe and brother to Calydon. He married Xanthippe by whom he fathered Agenor, Sterope, Stratonice and Laophonte. He is said to have founded the town of Pleuron in Aetolia.
Pluto
in Roman mythology, god of the dead, the husband of Proserpine. The Latin counterpart of the Greek god Hades, Pluto assisted his two brothers, Jupiter and Neptune, in overthrowing their father, Saturn. In dividing the world among them, Jupiter chose the earth and the heavens as his realm, Neptune became the ruler of the sea, and Pluto received as his kingdom the lower world, in which he ruled over the shades of the dead. He was originally considered a fierce and unyielding god, deaf to prayers and unappeased by sacrifices. In later cults and popular belief the milder and more beneficent aspects of the god were stressed. Believed to be the bestower of the blessings hidden in the earth, such as mineral wealth and crops, Pluto was also known as Dis or Orcus, the giver of wealth.
Poena
attendant of punishment to Nemesis.
Polites
Polites was a son of Priam and Hecabe. He was killed before them by Neoptolemus.
Pollux
Pollux was the Roman name for Polydeuces.
Polybus
Polybus was king of Corinth. He raised Oedipus as his own son.
Polydeuces
Polydeuces was twin brother of Castor. He was a son of Zeus and Leda. He was born from an egg after Zeus visited Leda disguised as a swan.
Polydorus
Polydorus was a son of Cadmus and Harmonia. he was King of Thebes and husband of Nycteis by whom he fathered Labdacus.
Polyhymnia
Polyhymnia (Polymnia) was the muse of song and hymns. She wore a veil.
Polynices
son of Oedipus. He and his brother Eteocles were supposed to rule Thebes in alternate years, but Eteocles refused to relinquish the throne, and Polynices sought the help of Adrastus. Polynices and Eteocles killed each other in single combat.
Polyphemus
in Greek mythology, a Cyclops, the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and of the nymph ThoŲsa. During his wanderings after the Trojan War, the Greek hero Odysseus and his men were cast ashore on Polyphemus's island home, Sicily. The enormous giant penned the Greeks in his cave on Mount Etna and began to devour them. Odysseus then gave Polyphemus some strong wine and when the giant had fallen into a drunken stupor, bored out his one eye with a burning stake. The Greeks then escaped by clinging to the bellies of his sheep. Poseidon punished Odysseus for blinding Polyphemus by causing him many troubles in his subsequent wanderings by sea. In another legend, Polyphemus was depicted as a huge, one-eyed shepherd, unhappily in love with the sea nymph Galatea.
Pomona
Roman goddess of garden fruits.
Poseidon
in Greek mythology, god of the sea, the son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, and the brother of Zeus and Hades. Poseidon was the husband of Amphitrite, one of the Nereids, by whom he had a son, Triton. Poseidon had numerous other love affairs, however, especially with nymphs of springs and fountains, and was the father of several children famed for their wildness and cruelty, among them the giant Orion and the Cyclops Polyphemus. Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa were the parents of Pegasus, the famous winged horse. Poseidon plays a prominent part in numerous ancient myths and legends. He contended unsuccessfully with Athena, goddess of wisdom, for the control of Athens. When he and Apollo, god of the sun, were cheated of their promised wages after having helped Laomedon, king of Troy, build the walls of that city, Poseidon's revenge against Troy knew no bounds. He sent a terrible sea monster to ravage the land, and during the Trojan War he helped the Greeks. In art, Poseidon is represented as a bearded and majestic figure, holding a trident and often accompanied by a dolphin. Every two years the Isthmian Games, featuring horse and chariot racers, were held in his honor at Corinth. The Romans identified Poseidon with their god of the sea, Neptune.
Priam
in Greek mythology, king of Troy. He was the father of 50 sons, notably the great warrior Hector, and 50 daughters, including the prophet Cassandra. As a young man Priam fought with the Phrygians against the Amazons, but by the time of the Trojan War he was too old to fight. The conflict had begun when the Greeks set out to recapture Helen of Troy, who had been abducted by Priam's son Paris. During the ten years of fighting, Priam anxiously watched the course of battle from the walls of Troy with his wife, Queen Hecuba. After his son Hector was slain by the Greek hero Achilles, Priam went to the Greek camp to beg for his body. Achilles spared Priam's life and gave him Hector's body for burial, but during the sack of Troy, Priam was killed by Achilles' son Neoptolemus.
Priapus
in Greek mythology, god of fertility, protector of gardens and herds. He was the son of Aphrodite, goddess of love, and of Dionysus, god of wine, or, according to some accounts, of Hermes, messenger of the gods. He was usually represented as a grotesque individual with a huge phallus. The Romans set up crude images of Priapus in their gardens as scarecrows.
Procne
daughter of King Pandion and Zeuxippe. She married Tereus.
Procris
Procris was a daughter of Erechtheus and wife of Cephalus. Artemis gave her the hound Laelaps which she gave to her husband.
Procrustes
in Greek mythology, a robber who lived near Eleusis in Attica. Originally named Damastes or Polypemon, he acquired the name Procrustes ("The Stretcher") because he tortured his victims by cutting them down to fit his bed if they were too tall, or hammering and stretching them if they were too short. He was captured by the Greek hero Theseus, who inflicted upon Procrustes the same kind of torture that he had imposed upon his victims.
Proetus
son of Abas and the twin brother of Acrisius. In a dispute between the two brothers over the kingdom of Argos, Proetus was defeated and expelled. He fled to Iobates in Lycia and married his daughter Stheneboea. Iobates restored Proetus to his kingdom by force and Acrisius then agreed to share it, surrendering Tiryns to him. When Bellerophon came to Proetus to be purified for a murder, Sthenebeoa fell in love with him. Bellerophon refused her and she charged him with making improper proposals to her. Proetus then sent him to Iobates with a letter asking Iobates to murder Bellerophon.
Prometheus
in Greek mythology, one of the Titans, known as the friend and benefactor of humanity, the son of the Titan Iapetus by the sea nymph Clymene or the Titaness Themis. Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus were given the task of creating humanity and providing humans and all the animals on earth with the endowments they would need to survive. Epimetheus (whose name means afterthought) accordingly proceeded to bestow on the various animals gifts of courage, strength, swiftness, and feathers, fur, and other protective coverings. When it came time to create a being who was to be superior to all other living creatures, Epimetheus found he had been so reckless with his resources that he had nothing left to bestow. He was forced to ask his brother's help, and Prometheus (whose name means forethought) took over the task of creation. To make humans superior to the animals, he fashioned them in nobler form and enabled them to walk upright. He then went up to heaven and lit a torch with fire from the sun. The gift of fire that Prometheus bestowed upon humanity was more valuable than any of the gifts the animals had received. Because of his actions Prometheus incurred the wrath of the god Zeus. Not only did he steal the fire he gave to humans, but he also tricked the gods so that they should get the worst parts of any animal sacrificed to them, and human beings the best. In one pile, Prometheus arranged the edible parts of an ox in a hide and disguised them with a covering of entrails. In the other, he placed the bones, which he covered with fat. Zeus, asked to choose between the two, took the fat and was very angry when he discovered that it covered a pile of bones. Thereafter, only fat and bones were sacrificed to the gods; the good meat was kept for mortals. For Prometheus's transgressions, Zeus had him chained to a rock in the Caucasus, where he was constantly preyed upon by an eagle. Finally he was freed by the hero Hercules, who slew the eagle.
Proserpine
See Persephone.
Protesilaus
in Greek mythology, king of Phylace in Thessaly, who was killed in the Trojan War. An oracle had proclaimed that the first Greek to touch the Trojan soil would be the first to die. Aware of it, Protesilaus bravely leaped ashore and was slain. His wife, Laodamia, grieved so that the gods permitted him to visit her for three hours.
Proteus
in Greek mythology, son of Poseidon, god of the sea, or his attendant and the keeper of his seals. Proteus knew all things past, present, and future but was able to change his shape at will to avoid the necessity of prophesying. Each day at noon Proteus would rise from the sea and sleep in the shade of the rocks on the island of Pharos in Egypt with his seals lying around him. Persons wishing to learn the future had to catch hold of him at that time and hold on as he assumed dreadful shapes, including those of wild animals and terrible monsters. If all his ruses proved unavailing, Proteus resumed his usual form and told the truth. Among those who fought with Proteus to learn the truth was Menelaus, king of Sparta.
Psyche
in Roman mythology, beautiful princess loved by Cupid, god of love. Psyche was the personification of the passion of love. Jealous of Psyche's beauty, Venus, goddess of love, ordered her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. Fortunately for Psyche, Cupid instead fell in love with her and carried her off to a secluded palace where he visited her only by night, unseen and unrecognized by her. Although Cupid had forbidden her ever to look upon his face, one night Psyche lit a lamp and looked upon him while he slept. Because she had disobeyed him, Cupid abandoned her, and Psyche was left to wander desolately throughout the world in search of him. Finally, after many trials she was reunited with Cupid and was made immortal by Jupiter, king of the gods.
Pygmalion
in Roman mythology, sculptor of Cyprus. Pygmalion hated women and resolved never to marry. He worked, however, for many months on a statue of a beautiful woman, and eventually fell madly in love with it. Disconsolate because the statue remained lifeless and could not respond to his caresses, Pygmalion prayed to Venus, goddess of love, to send him a maiden like his statue. Venus answered his prayer by endowing the statue with life. The maiden, whom Pygmalion called Galatea, returned his love and bore him a son, Paphos, from whom the city sacred to Venus received its name.
Pylades
Pylades was son of Strophius and Anaxibia. He assisted Orestes in murdering Clytemnestra and eventually married his sister Electra.
Python
in Greek mythology, great serpent, the son of Gaea, Mother Earth, produced from the slime left on the earth after the great flood. The monster lived in a cave near Delphi on Mount Parnassus and guarded the oracle there. The god Apollo slew the Python, claimed the oracle for himself, and was thereafter known as Pythian Apollo. The god was said to have established the Pythian Games to commemorate his victory.
Quirinus
in early Roman mythology, god of war worshiped by the Sabines. In later Roman mythology, Quirinus was identified with the deified Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome.
Remus
in Roman mythology, the twin brother of Romulus, who was believed to have founded the city of Rome in 753 BC.
Rhadamanthus
in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Europa and the brother of Minos, king of Crete. According to Homer, Rhadamanthus dwelt in Elysium. Later legends report that, respected for his judgment and probity, he was made one of the three judges of the underworld.
Rhea
in Greek mythology, mother of the gods, a Titan, the daughter of Uranus and Gaea, Heaven and Earth, and the sister and wife of the Titan Cronus. For many ages, Cronus and Rhea ruled the universe. Cronus, having been warned that one of their children was destined to seize his throne, tried to avert this fate by swallowing his offspring as soon as they were born. After the birth of her sixth child, the god Zeus, Rhea outwitted her husband by giving him a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he swallowed, thinking it was the baby. In the meantime, she had hidden the child in Crete. Later, when Zeus was grown, he forced his father to disgorge the stone, along with the five other children who had been born to Rhea: Poseidon, god of the sea; Hades, god of the dead; Demeter, goddess of the earth; Hestia, goddess of the hearth; and Hera, goddess of marriage, who became the wife of Zeus. In Roman mythology, Rhea was identified with Cybele, the great mother of the gods.
Romulus
in Roman mythology, founder and first king of Rome. He and his twin brother, Remus, were the sons of Mars, god of war, and of Rhea Silvia, also called Ilia, one of the vestal virgins. Rhea Silvia was the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa, who had been deposed by his younger brother Amulius. Amulius had made Rhea Silvia a priestess so that she would have no children to make claims against his throne. After the birth of her two boys, to remove any threat against himself, he had them thrown in a basket into the Tiber River. The twins were not drowned, however. They were rescued and nursed by a she-wolf on the slope of the Palatine Hill and were later discovered by the shepherd Faustulus and reared by his wife, Acca Larentia. When they grew to manhood, the brothers deposed Amulius and placed their grandfather Numitor on the throne. The brothers then decided to build a city. After quarreling over the spot, they finally chose the Palatine Hill. Romulus built a wall, over which Remus, to show its inadequacy, scornfully leaped; Remus was thereupon killed by Romulus or one of his companions, and Romulus became sole ruler of the city. He provided an asylum on the Capitoline Hill for runaway slaves and homicides and procured wives for them by seizing the Sabine women at a festival to which he had invited the Sabines. After a series of wars between Romulus and the Sabines, they were finally reconciled, with Romulus as king. According to legend, Romulus was carried up to the heavens by his father, and was later worshiped as the god Quirinus.
Sarapis
See Serapis.
Sarpedon
son of Zeus and Europa. He went to Asia Minor and became the king of the Lycians after helping Cilix of Cilicia to defeat them. He helped Troy in the Trojan wars before being killed by Patroclus.
Saturn
in Roman mythology, ancient god of agriculture. In later legends he was identified with the Greek god Cronus, who, after having been dethroned by his son Zeus (in Roman mythology, Jupiter), fled to Italy, where he ruled during the Golden Age, a time of perfect peace and happiness. Beginning on December 17 of each year, during the festival known as the Saturnalia, the Golden Age was restored for seven days. All business stopped and executions and military operations were postponed. It was a period of goodwill, devoted to banquets and the exchange of visits and gifts. A special feature of the festival was the freedom given to slaves, who during this time had first place at the family table and were served by their masters. Saturn was the husband of Ops, goddess of plenty. Besides Jupiter, who was ruler of the gods, Saturn's children also included Juno, goddess of marriage; Neptune, god of the sea; Pluto, god of the dead; and Ceres, goddess of the grain. In art Saturn is usually shown bearded, carrying a sickle or an ear of corn.
Saturnus
Roman god of learning and agriculture. He appeared to King Janus and gave lessons on agriculture to his subjects.
Saturnalia
See Saturn
Satyrs
in Greek mythology, deities of the woods and mountains, with horns and tails and sometimes with the legs of a goat. The satyrs were the companions of Dionysus, god of wine, and spent their time pursuing nymphs, drinking wine, dancing, and playing the syrinx, flute, or bagpipes.
Sceiron (Sciron)
a robber who haunted the frontier between Attica and Megaris. He robbed travellers and kicked them into the sea where they were eaten by a tortoise that lived there. He was killed by Theseus.
Scylla and Charybdis
in Greek mythology, two sea monsters dwelling on the opposite sides of a narrow strait, the personification of the dangers of navigation near the rocks and eddies. Scylla was a horrible creature with 12 feet and 6 long necks, each bearing a head with 3 rows of teeth, with which she devoured any prey that came within reach; she lived in a cave on a cliff. Across the strait, opposite her, was a large fig tree under which Charybdis, the whirlpool, dwelt, sucking in and belching forth the waters of the sea three times daily, engulfing anything that came near. When the Greek hero Odysseus passed between them, he was able to avoid Charybdis, but Scylla seized six men from his ship and devoured them. In later times, the geographical position of this dangerous passage was believed to be the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, with Scylla on the Italian side. Scylla, originally a beautiful maiden loved by a sea god, had been transformed into a monster by her jealous rival, the sorceress Circe.
Sea Serpent
imaginary marine creature supposed to be of snakelike form and monstrous size. During the times of wooden sailing vessels, sea serpents were widely believed to have destroyed many ships. No scientific evidence as yet supports the existence of snakelike sea monsters. Exaggerated descriptions of sea snakes or oarfishes have probably been responsible for most reports of sea serpents; floating seaweeds have probably also contributed to this myth. Such a monster has also been reputed to exist in the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland.
Selene
in Greek mythology, goddess of the moon, the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and the sister of Helios, god of the sun. Selene fell in love with the handsome young shepherd Endymion, whom she lulled into an eternal sleep so that he could never leave her. In art, Selene is represented driving a chariot drawn by two horses, or sometimes, by two oxen. She is often identified with the Olympian goddess of the moon, Artemis.
Semele
in Greek mythology, the daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, king and queen of Thebes, and the mother of the god Dionysus. Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, realizing that her husband was madly in love with the Theban princess, tricked Semele into asking to see Zeus in his majesty. Bound by an oath, Zeus appeared before the unfortunate woman in all his divine glory. As Semele gazed at him, she was consumed by the lightning bolts that radiated from him. Zeus was able to rescue her unborn child, Dionysus, from the ashes, however, and he hid the fetus in his side until it was time for it to be born. Later the young god rescued Semele from the underworld and brought her to Olympus.
Serapis
also Sarapis, in Greek and Egyptian mythology, a deity, variously associated with Osiris, Hermes, and Hades, introduced in the 3rd century BC as a state god for both Greeks and Egyptians. Serapis was believed by Egyptians to be a human manifestation of Apis, a sacred dead bull that symbolized Osiris; in Greek mythology, Serapis was represented as a god of fertility and medicine and the ruler of the dead in Tartarus. The worship of Serapis spread throughout the ancient world and the Roman Empire. The cult waned with the ascendancy of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility, and the destruction of the temple to Serapis in Alexandria in AD 385 marked the virtual end of paganism in the Roman Empire.
Seven Against Thebes
in Greek mythology, ill-fated expedition against the city of Thebes undertaken by seven chieftains and their followers under the leadership of Adrastus, king of Argos, and Polynices, the son of Oedipus, the former king of Thebes. After losing the throne to his younger brother, Eteocles, Polynices fled to Argos and married the daughter of Adrastus. The Argive king then organized a great army to march against the Thebans and restore Polynices to the throne. The other leaders of the expedition were Tydeus of Calydon, Parthenopaeus of Arcadia, Capaneus and Hippomedon of Argos, and Amphiaraus. The seven gates of Thebes were defended by seven Theban champions. During the siege Polynices and Eteocles slew each other, thus fulfilling the curse of their father. The battle ended with the defeat and death of all the Argives except Adrastus, who fled with his broken army to Athens. Ten years after the disaster, the sons of the seven warriors, the Epigoni, successfully marched against the city to avenge the deaths of the heroes.
Sibyl
in Greek and Roman mythology, any woman inspired with prophetic power by the god Apollo. The sibyls lived in caves or near streams and prophesied in a frenzied trance, usually in Greek hexameters, which were handed down in writing. Early Greek writers mention only one sibyl, probably the Erythraean Herophile, who predicted the Trojan War. In later legends, the number of sibyls was increased to ten, including the Samian, the Trojan or Hellespontine, the Phrygian, the Cimmerian, the Delphian, the Cumaean, the Libyan, the Tiburtine, and the Babylonian or Persian sibyls. Of these, the most important in Roman mythology was the Cumaean sibyl, Deiphobe. Apollo had promised to grant her anything she wished, and she asked to live for as many years as there were grains of sand in her hand. She did not ask, however, for eternal youth as well and became so withered that she was hung upside down in a bottle. Her overwhelming desire to die could not happen. In later legend, she guided the Trojan prince Aeneas through the underworld to visit his father Anchises. According to another legend, she appeared in the form of an aged woman before Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last king of Rome, and offered him nine prophetic books at a high price. When he refused her, she destroyed three books and then offered the remaining six at the original price; again Tarquin refused, and she destroyed three more. The king finally bought the remaining three at the price demanded for the nine. These three books were placed in the temple of the god Jupiter in Rome and were consulted in times of great emergency. Although the original Sibylline Books were destroyed in a fire in 83 BC, a new collection was subsequently compiled. These, however, were destroyed in AD 405.
Silenus
in Greek mythology, oldest of the satyrs, the son of Hermes, messenger of the gods, or of Pan, a woodland god. The tutor of the young god Dionysus, Silenus often accompanied him on his travels. The old satyr was usually drunk, and he could be compelled, if caught in a drunken sleep, to prophesy the future. As a reward for his hospitality to Silenus, Dionysus granted Midas, king of Phrygia, the golden touch. In art Silenus is represented as a little old man in a state of jovial intoxication.
Silvanus
in Roman mythology, god of uncultivated fields and forests, the protector of cattle and flocks. Originally a deity without a name who was referred to by the adjective silvanus (Latin, "living in a wood"), he was later identified with the pastoral gods Pan and Faunus.
Sirens
in Greek mythology, sea nymphs, with the bodies of birds and the heads of women, the daughters of the sea god Phorcys. The Sirens had voices of such sweetness that mariners who heard their songs were lured onto the rocks on which the nymphs sang. The Greek hero Odysseus was able to pass their island with safety because, following the advice of the sorceress Circe, he stopped the ears of his companions with wax and had himself firmly bound to the mast of the ship so that he might hear the songs without danger. In another legend the Argonauts escaped the Sirens because Orpheus, who was on board the Argo, sang so sweetly that he drowned out the song of the nymphs. According to later legends, the Sirens, in vexation at the escape of Odysseus or at the victory of Orpheus, threw themselves into the sea and perished.
Sisyphus
in Greek mythology, king of Corinth, the son of Aeolus, king of Thessaly. Sisyphus saw the god Zeus carry off the beautiful maiden Aegina and told her father what he had witnessed. Enraged with Sisyphus, Zeus condemned him to Tartarus, where he was compelled for eternity to roll to the top of a steep hill a stone that always rolled down again.
Sol
Roman name for the Greek god Helios.
Somnus
in Roman mythology, god of sleep, the son of Night and the twin brother of Death. His home was in a dark cave in the far west, where the sun never shone and all things were wrapped in silence. Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, flowed near the cave, and poppies and other sleep-inducing plants grew close by. Somnus had power over both gods and mortals and is often represented as a sleeping youth carrying a poppy stalk. Somnus was an alternative name for the Greek and Roman god Hypnos.
Sphinx
in Greek mythology, monster with the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird. Lying crouched on a rock, she accosted all who were about to enter the city of Thebes by asking them a riddle, "What is it that has four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?" If they could not solve the riddle, she killed them. When the hero Oedipus solved the riddle by answering, "Man, who crawls on four limbs as a baby, walks upright on two as an adult, and walks with the aid of a stick in old age," the sphinx killed herself. For ridding them of this terrible monster, the Thebans made Oedipus their king. In ancient Egypt, sphinxes were statues representing deities, with the body of a lion and the head of some other animal or of man, frequently a likeness of the king. The most famous of all Egyptian sphinxes is the Great Sphinx of Giza, near the pyramids. Dating from before 2500 BC, the Great Sphinx is about 20 m (about 66 ft) high and about 73 m (about 240 ft) long.
Stheino
one of the gorgons.
Strophius
King of Phocis.
Styx
in Greek mythology, a river, the entrance to the underworld. It was often described as the boundary river over which the aged ferryman Charon transported the shades of the dead. The river was personified as a daughter of the Titan Oceanus and Tethys, and Styx was the guardian of the sacred oaths that bound the gods. She dwelt at the entrance to Hades in a lofty grotto which was supported by silver columns. Styx took her children to help Zeus in the fight against the Titans. The actual river, the modern name of which is the Mavronťri, is in northeastern Arcadia, Greece. It plunges over a 183-m (600-ft) cliff, then flows through a wild gorge. The ancient Greeks believed that its waters were poisonous, and the river was associated with the underworld from the time of Homer.
Suada
alternative name for Pitho.
Talaus
King of Argos. He was the son of Nias and Pero. Talaus sailed with the Argonauts.
Talos
bronze man given to Europa by Zeus to guard Crete. He would clutch people to his breast and jump into a fire so that they were burnt alive.
Tantalus
in Greek mythology, king of Lydia and son of Zeus, ruler of the gods. Tantalus was honored above all other mortals by the gods. He ate at their table on Olympus, and once they even came to dine at his palace. To test their omniscience, Tantalus killed his only son, Pelops, boiled him in a cauldron, and served him at the banquet. The gods, however, realized the nature of the food. They restored Pelops to life and devised a terrible punishment for Tantalus. He was hung forever from a tree in Tartarus and afflicted with tormenting thirst and hunger. Under him was a pool of water, but when he stooped to drink, the pool would sink from sight. The tree above him was laden with pears, apples, figs, ripe olives, and pomegranates, but when he reached for them the wind blew the laden branches away. The word tantalize is derived from this story.
Tartarus
in Greek mythology, the lowest region of the underworld. According to Hesiod and Vergil, Tartarus is as far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens and is closed in by iron gates. In some accounts Zeus, the father of the gods, after leading the gods to victory over the Titans, banished his father, Cronus, and the other Titans to Tartarus. The name Tartarus was later employed sometimes as a synonym for Hades, or the underworld in general, but more frequently for the place of damnation where the wicked were punished after death. Such legendary sinners as Ixion, king of the Lapiths, Sisyphus, king of Corinth, and Tantalus, a mortal son of Zeus, were placed in Tartarus.
Telamon
in Greek mythology, king of Salamis, the son of Aeacus, king of Aegina, and the father of the hero and warrior Ajax the Greater. After he and his brother Peleus were banished from Aegina for murdering their half brother, Telamon went to Salamis, where he married the princess Glauce and succeeded to the throne. Telamon fathered Ajax by his second wife, Periboea, or Eriboea. He later helped the hero Hercules kill Laomedon, king of Troy, and was given Laomedon's daughter Hesione in return; she bore him Teucer, who also became a great warrior. Other famous events in which Telamon took part include the Calydonian boar hunt and the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.
Telemachus
in Greek mythology, son of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his wife, Penelope. The constant companion of his mother during the long years of Odysseus's wanderings after the fall of Troy, Telemachus watched with increasing unhappiness as the many ill-mannered suitors for the hand of his mother lived riotously on his father's estate. Unable to bear the taunts of these men any longer, the youth set out for Pylos to learn from the old king Nestor the fate of Odysseus. Although the old man could not help him, he sent Telemachus to Menelaus, king of Sparta, from whom the boy learned that his father had been held prisoner by the nymph Calypso. Still uncertain as to whether his father was alive or dead, Telemachus returned to Ithaca only to discover that during his absence Odysseus had returned home. The king had not revealed himself, however, having been disguised as a beggar. After a joyous reunion, Telemachus helped Odysseus kill the suitors and make himself known to Penelope. According to a later legend, Telemachus married the sorceress Circe or her daughter Cassiphone.
Telepylos
capital city of the Laestrygones.
Telesphorus
the god of that which sustains the convalescent. He is depicted with Aesculapius and Hygea.
Tellus or Terra Mater
in Roman religion, an ancient earth goddess. Considered a goddess of fertility, she was prominent with Ceres, the goddess of grain, in the rituals surrounding the sowing of seeds.
Terminus
Greek and Roman god of boundaries.
Terpsichore
the muse of dancing. She carried a lyre.
Tethys
in Greek mythology, a Titan, daughter of Uranus, god of heaven, and Gaea, goddess of earth. Tethys was the wife of her brother Oceanus and by him the mother of the 3000 Oceanids, or ocean nymphs, and of all the river gods.
Teucer
in Greek mythology, the name of two heroes, one Trojan and the other Greek. The Trojan Teucer was the son of the river god Scamander and the nymph Idaea, and was the first king of Troy. He is thought to be a hero invented by the Teucri, the founders of the city of Troy. Teucer the Greek was the son of Telamon, king of Salamis, and of Hesione, daughter of King Laomedon of Troy. He accompanied his half brother Ajax to the Trojan War, in which he distinguished himself by his archery. He would have shot Hector if Zeus had not broken his bowstring. After the war Teucer was banished by his father because he had not prevented the death of Ajax, whereupon he sailed to the island of Cyprus and there founded another Salamis.
Thalia
muse of comedy and burlesque. She wore a comic mask.
Thanatos
ancient Greek god of death and of pain.
Themis
in Greek mythology, one of the Titans, the daughter of Uranus and Gaea, Heaven and Earth, and the mother of the three Fates and the Seasons. The goddess of divine justice and law, Themis was the constant companion of the god Zeus and sat beside him on Olympus. In ancient art she is represented holding aloft a pair of scales on which she weighs the claims of opposing parties. She was the Greek goddess of human rights.
Thersites
in Greek mythology, a member of the Greek army in the Trojan War. Homer describes him in the Iliad as the ugliest and most impudent of the Greeks. He was beaten by the Greek hero Ulysses for reviling the Greek general Agamemnon, to the amusement of the assembled Greeks. According to later writers, Thersites mocked the Greek hero Achilles for mourning the death of the Amazon queen Penthesilea and was slain by Achilles.
Theseus
in Greek mythology, the greatest Athenian hero, the son of either Aegeus, king of Athens, or Poseidon, god of the sea, and Aethra, daughter of Pittheus, king of Troezen. At the age of 16, Theseus, having been brought up in Troezen, went to Athens to claim Aegeus as his father. The young man chose to make the hazardous journey by land, clearing the road of bandits and monsters. Among the villains whom Theseus killed, making each suffer the method of death he had inflicted on others, were Sciron, Sinis, and Procrustes. Theseus arrived in Athens wearing a sword and a pair of sandals that Aegeus had left for his son in Troezen. Medea, Aegeus's wife, attempted to poison Theseus, but as soon as Aegeus recognized the heirlooms, he proclaimed Theseus his son and heir and banished Medea. His early adventures included his encounter with the Minotaur, a monster half human, half bull, who was confined in a labyrinth under the palace of Minos, king of Crete. With the help of Ariadne, Minos's daughter, Theseus killed the Minotaur and escaped from the maze. On his return to Athens, however, he forgot to hoist a white sail signaling his success against the Minotaur. Aegeus, seeing a black sail, believed his son dead and threw himself from a rocky height into the sea, which has since been known as the Aegean Sea. As king of Athens, Theseus was wise and generous, but he retained his love of danger and adventure. He abducted the Amazon Hippolyta, who bore him a son, Hippolytus. He took part in the Calydonian boar hunt and in the quest of the Argonauts for the Golden Fleece. He was a devoted friend of Pirithous, king of the Lapithae, whom he accompanied to the underworld to rescue the goddess Persephone. Both men were imprisoned by the god Hades for their rash deed, but Theseus was subsequently rescued by Hercules. Returning to Athens, Theseus found his kingdom in disarray, torn by rebellion and corruption. Unable to reestablish authority, he sent his children away and sailed to the island of Skyros, where Lycomedes, king of Skyros, murdered him by throwing him from a cliff into the sea. Later the Delphic oracle commanded the Athenians to gather Theseus's bones and bring them back to Athens. The Athenians then paid him great honor by building him a tomb dedicated to the poor and helpless whom he had befriended.
Thetis
in Greek mythology, the daughter of the sea divinities Nereus and Doris, and the most famous of the Nereids. She was wooed both by Zeus, the supreme deity, and by Poseidon, god of the sea, until they learned the prophecy that she would bear a son who would be mightier than his father. She was then given to Peleus, ruler of the Myrmidons, who was considered the most deserving mortal. By Peleus, Thetis became the mother of the hero Achilles.
Thyestes
in Greek mythology, son of Pelops and brother of Atreus. Thyestes was the rival of his brother for the throne of Mycenae. He seduced Atreus's wife, AŽrope, and persuaded her to steal the fleece of a golden lamb that Atreus treasured. The people of Mycenae decided that the possessor of the fleece should be their king, and Thyestes was chosen. The god Zeus intervened, however, and, by causing the sun to reverse its course and set in the east, gained Thyestes' abdication. Atreus succeeded as king and banished his brother. Later he discovered the infidelity of his wife and in revenge called Thyestes back from exile. At a welcoming banquet, Atreus served his brother the flesh of Thyestes' two murdered sons. When this was revealed to him, Thyestes laid a curse on Atreus and his descendants. The oracle at Delphi then advised Thyestes to ravish his own daughter, Pelopia. From the incestuous union was born Aegisthus, who later helped fulfill the curse that Thyestes had placed on the house of Atreus.
Thyrsus
a wand wreathed with ivy leaves, and topped with a pine-cone carried by the Ancient Greeks as a symbol of Bacchus.
Tiresias
in Greek mythology, a Theban seer. He was said to have been struck blind by the goddess Athena because he had seen her bathing but to have been recompensed by her with the gift of prophecy. According to another version, he was for a time transformed into a woman. Later, having become a man again, he was asked by Zeus and Hera, king and queen of the gods, to tell which sex had more pleasure in love. When he replied that woman had nine times as much pleasure as man, Hera, in anger, blinded him, but Zeus granted him long life. Tiresias played a prominent part in Theban legends, delivering prophecies to Oedipus, king of Thebes. He died while fleeing the wrath of the Epigoni, bellicose descendants of the Argive heroes who were killed in the war of the Seven Against Thebes.
Titans
in Greek mythology, 12 children of Uranus and Gaea, Heaven and Earth, and some of the children of the 12. Often called the Elder Gods, they were for many ages the supreme rulers of the universe and were of enormous size and incredibly strong. Cronus, the most important of the Titans, ruled the universe until he was dethroned by his son Zeus, who seized power for himself. The other important Titans were Oceanus, the river that flowed around the earth; Tethys, his wife; Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory; Themis, the goddess of divine justice; Hyperion, the father of the sun, the moon, and the dawn; Iapetus, the father of Prometheus, who created mortals; and Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders. Of all the Titans only Prometheus and Oceanus sided with Zeus against Cronus. As a result, they were honored and the others were bound in Tartarus. Eventually, however, Zeus was reconciled with the Titans, and Cronus was made ruler of the Golden Age.
Titanomachia
the 10 year war waged in Thessaly by Zeus and the Olympian gods against Cronos and the Titans led by Atlas. The war deposed the Titans.
Tithonus
in Greek mythology, the son of Laomedon, king of Troy, and the brother of Priam, Laomedon's successor. He was loved by the dawn goddess, Eos, who bore him a son, the hero Memnon, king of Ethiopia. Eos obtained the gift of immortality from the gods for Tithonus, but, because she forgot to ask that he remain eternally young, Tithonus in his old age withered away to a decrepit and shriveled old man. A later account related his final transformation into a grasshopper.
Triptolemus
in Greek mythology, the original priest of the corn goddess Demeter and founder of the Eleusinian Mysteries celebrated in Demeter's honor. The son of King Celeus of Eleusis, Triptolemus herded his father's cattle. One day he observed the daughter of Demeter, Persephone, being carried off in the chariot of her abductor, Hades, god of the underworld. Persephone was restored to her mother, and Demeter gave Triptolemus the wooden plow and seed corn, and then sent him to instruct mortals in the art of agriculture. She also taught him the rites that became the most famous of all Greek religious festivals.
Triton
in Greek mythology, trumpeter of the deep, the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and of his wife Amphitrite. He lived with his parents in a golden palace in the depths of the sea, but sometimes went to the coast of Libya, where he once came to the aid of the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. Human in form to the waist, but with the tail of a fish, Triton blew loudly upon his large seashell to raise great storms and blew gently to calm the waves. In later legends, the attendants of the water deities were known as Tritons, and they had a similar appearance.
Tros
grandson of Dardanus and the father of Ilus. He gave his name to the city of Troy.
Tyche
Greek goddess of luck.
Tydeus
Tydeus was the son of Oeonus and Calydon. After commiting a murder whilst a youth he fled to the court of Adrastus.
Tyndareus
Tyndareus was the king of Sparta. He was deposed by his brother Hippocoon, and reinstated by Hercules.
Typhon
Typhon was the father of destructive and fierce winds. He is dereived from the Egyptian Set or Seth.
Ulysses
Roman name for Odysseus.
Unicorn
fabled beast, pure white in color, having the head and legs of a horse and a long, twisted horn set in the middle of its forehead. Symbolic of holiness and chastity, the unicorn was prominent in tapestries of the Middle Ages. It has been widely used in heraldic signs.
Urania
muse of astronomy. She carried a globe.
Uranus
in Greek mythology, the god of the heavens and husband of Gaea, the goddess of the earth. Uranus was the father of the Titans, the Cyclopes, and the 100-handed giants. The Titans, led by their ruler, Cronus, dethroned and mutilated Uranus, and from the blood that fell upon the earth sprang the three Erinyes, or Furies, who avenge crimes of patricide and perjury. Although Uranus may have been worshipped as a god by earlier inhabitants of Greece, he was never an object of worship by the Greeks of the historical period.
Venus
in Roman mythology, originally a goddess of gardens and fields but later identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. In imperial times she was worshiped under several aspects. As Venus Genetrix, she was worshiped as the mother of the hero Aeneas, the founder of the Roman people; as Venus Felix, the bringer of good fortune; as Venus Victrix, the bringer of victory; and as Venus Verticordia, the protector of feminine chastity. Venus was the wife of Vulcan, god of metalwork, but she was often unfaithful to him. Among her many lovers were Mars, the god of war; the handsome shepherd Adonis; and Anchises, the father of Aeneas. Venus was also the mother of Cupid, god of love.
Vertumnus
Roman god of garden fruits and seasons. He was the husband of Pomona.
Vesta
in Roman mythology, the goddess of the hearth, worshiped by Roman families as a household deity. The most important public shrine to Vesta was her round temple in the Forum at Rome, where her fire was said to have been brought from Troy by Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome. The shrine was symbolic of the safety of the city and was watched continually by six vestal virgins, priestesses who kept the fire burning and who served for terms of 30 years according to severe rules. In early June of each year a festival honoring Vesta, called Vestalia, was held. In form the goddess was associated with the flames of her fire. Her Greek counterpart was Hestia.
Victoria
alternative name for Nike.
Vulcan (Latin Volcanus)
in Roman mythology, the god of fire. Originally an old Italian deity who seems to have been associated with volcanic fire, Vulcan was identified with the Greek god Hephaestus in classical times. At Rome his festival, the Volcanalia, was celebrated on August 23. He was particularly revered at Ostia, where his was the principal cult.
Xuthus
son of Helen by the nymph Orseis. He was King of Peloponnesus and the husband of Creusa. After the death of his father, Xuthus was expelled from Thessaly by his brothers and went to Athens, where he married the daughter of Erechtheus.
Zagreus
son of Zeus. He was torn apart and eaten by Titans apart from his heart which Athene saved. He is sometimes identified with Dionysus.
Zelus
son of the Titan Pallas and Styx. He was a constant companion of Zeus and personified zeal.
Zephyrus
in Greek mythology, the god of the west wind. He was the son of the Titan Astraeus and of Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Zephyrus was said to be the husband of Iris, the goddess of the rainbow and a messenger of the gods. His brothers were Boreas and Notus, the gods of the north and south winds, respectively.
Zethus
son of Zeus and Antiope and twin brother of Amphion.
Zeus
in Greek mythology, the god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods. Zeus corresponds to the Roman god Jupiter. Zeus was considered, according to Homer, the father of the gods and of mortals. He did not create either gods or mortals; he was their father in the sense of being the protector and ruler both of the Olympian family and of the human race. He was lord of the sky, the rain god, and the cloud gatherer, who wielded the terrible thunderbolt. His breastplate was the aegis, his bird the eagle, his tree the oak. Zeus presided over the gods on Mount Olympus in Thessaly. His principal shrines were at Dodona, in Epirus, the land of the oak trees and the most ancient shrine, famous for its oracle, and at Olympia, where the Olympian Games were celebrated in his honor every fourth year. The Nemean games, held at Nemea, northwest of Argos, were also dedicated to Zeus. Zeus was the youngest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea and the brother of the deities Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera. According to one of the ancient myths of the birth of Zeus, Cronus, fearing that he might be dethroned by one of his children, swallowed them as they were born. Upon the birth of Zeus, Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes for Cronus to swallow and concealed the infant god in Crete, where he was fed on the milk of the goat Amalthaea and reared by nymphs. When Zeus grew to maturity, he forced Cronus to disgorge the other children, who were eager to take vengeance on their father. In the war that followed, the Titans fought on the side of Cronus, but Zeus and the other gods were successful, and the Titans were consigned to the abyss of Tartarus. Zeus henceforth ruled over the sky, and his brothers Poseidon and Hades were given power over the sea and the underworld, respectively. The earth was to be ruled in common by all three. Beginning with the writings of the Greek poet Homer, Zeus is pictured in two very different ways. He is represented as the god of justice and mercy, the protector of the weak, and the punisher of the wicked. As husband to his sister Hera, he is the father of Ares, the god of war; Hebe, the goddess of youth; Hephaestus, the god of fire; and Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. At the same time, Zeus is described as falling in love with one woman after another and resorting to all kinds of tricks to hide his infidelity from his wife. Stories of his escapades were numerous in ancient mythology, and many of his offspring were a result of his love affairs with both goddesses and mortal women. It is believed that, with the development of a sense of ethics in Greek life, the idea of a lecherous, sometimes ridiculous father god became distasteful, so later legends tended to present Zeus in a more exalted light. His many affairs with mortals are sometimes explained as the wish of the early Greeks to trace their lineage to the father of the gods. Zeus's image was represented in sculptural works as a kingly, bearded figure. The most celebrated of all statues of Zeus was Phidias's gold and ivory colossus at Olympia.
Zeuxippe
daughter of Eridanus and the wife of Pandion.
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