THE STORY OF CALLISTO

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:12 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Callisto was another maiden who excited the jealousy of Juno, and the goddess changed her into a bear. “I will take away,” said she, “that beauty with which you have captivated my husband.” Down fell Callisto on her hands and knees; she tried to stretch out her arms in supplication,– they were already beginning to be covered with black hair. Her hands grew rounded, became armed with crooked claws, and served for feet; her mouth, which Jove used to praise for its beauty, became a horrid pair of jaws; her voice, which if unchanged would have moved the heart to pity, became a growl, more fit to inspire terror. Yet her former disposition remained, and, with continued groaning, she bemoaned her fate, and stood upright as well as she could, lifting up her paws to beg for mercy; and felt that Jove was unkind, though she could not tell him so. Ah, how often, afraid to stay in the woods all night alone, she wandered about the neighborhood of her former haunts; how often, frightened by the dogs, did she, so lately a huntress, fly in terror from the hunters! Often she fled from the wild beasts, forgetting that she was now a wild beast herself; and, bear as she was, was afraid of the bears.

Whirpool Galaxy in Ursa Major

Whirpool Galaxy in Ursa Major

One day a youth espied her as he was hunting. She saw him and recognized him as her own son, now grown a young man. She stopped, and felt inclined to embrace him. As she was about to approach, he, alarmed, raised his hunting spear, and was on the point of transfixing her, when Jupiter, beholding, arrested the crime, and, snatching away both of them, placed them in the heavens as the Great and Little Bear.

Juno was in a rage to see her rival so set in honor, and hastened to ancient Tethys and Oceanus, the powers of ocean, and, in answer to their inquiries, thus told the cause of her coming; “Do you ask why I, the queen of the gods, have left the heavenly plains and sought your depths. Learn that I am supplanted in heaven, — my place is given to another. You will hardly believe me; but look when night darkens the world, and you shall see the two, of whom I have so much reason to complain, exalted to the heavens, in that part where the circle is the smallest, in the neighborhood of the pole. Why should any one hereafter tremble at the thought of offending Juno, when such rewards are the consequence of my displeasure! See what I have been able to effect! I forbade her to wear the human form, — she is placed among the stars! So do my punishments result, — such is the extent of my power! Better that she should have resumed her former shape, as I permitted Io to do. Perhaps he means to marry her, and put me away! But you, my foster parents, if you feel for me, and see with displeasure this unworthy treatment of me, show it, I beseech you, by forbidding this guilty couple from coming into your waters.” The powers of the ocean assented, and consequently the two constellations of the Great and Little Bear move round and round in heaven, but never sink, as the other stars do, beneath the ocean.

Milton alludes to the fact that the constellation of the Bear never sets, when he says,

“Let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear.”
Il Penseroso

And Prometheus, in James Russell Lowell’s poem, says,

“One after one the stars have risen and set,
Sparkling upon the hoar-frost of my chain;
The Bear that prowled all night about the fold
Of the North Star, hath shrunk into his den,
Scared by the blithsome footsteps of the dawn.”

The last star in the tail of the Little Bear is the Pole star,
called also the Cynosure. Milton says,

“Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
While the landscape round it measures.
* * * * * * * *
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies
The Cynosure of neighboring eyes.”
L’Allegro.

The reference here is both to the Pole-star as the guide of mariners, and to the magnetic attraction of the North. He calls it also the “Star of Arcady,” because Callisto’s boy was named Arcas, and they lived in Arcadia. In Milton’s Comus, the elder brother, benighted in the woods, says,
“Some gentle taper!
Through a rush candle, from
the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation,
visit us
With thy long levelled rule
of streaming light,
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Chynsure.”

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APOLLO AND HYACINTHUS

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:09 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Apollo loved Hyacinthus, but accidentally killed him: Apollo and Hyacinth Myth. Hyacinth’s blood stained the flower beneath his dying body.

Apollo and Hyacinthus

Apollo was so in love with the very beautiful Spartan prince Hyacinthus, son, perhaps, of King Amyclas and Diomede, that he shared in the mortal youth’s life, enjoying the human’s pursuit of sports. Unfortunately, Apollo wasn’t the only enamored deity. One of the winds, Zephyros or Boreas, was, as well. When Apollo and Hyacinthus were throwing the discus, the jealous wind made the discus Apollo had thrown bounce up and strike Hyacinthus. Hyacinthus died, but from his blood sprang the flower that bears his name.

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APOLLO’S MATE

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:07 am (Uncategorized) ()

Apollo mated with many women and a few men. He sired mostly males.

  • Marpessa (daughter of Euenos)
    Their offspring was Kleopatra, wife of Meleager, although her father may have been Idas. Parthenos is said to have been Apollo’s only daughter [by Chrysothemis (see below)].
  • Chione (daughter of Daedalion)
    Their son was Philammon.
  • Koronis? (the daughter of Azan)
  • Daphne (daughter of Gaia)
  • Arsinoe (daughter of Leukippos)
    Their son was Asklepios (Asclepius).
  • Kassandra (Cassandra)
    See Hughes’ Oresteia for information on the prophetess who actually rejected the god.
  • Kyrene
    Their son was Aristaios
  • Melia (an Oceanid)
    Their child was Teneros.
  • Eudne (daughter of Poseidon)
    Their son was Iamos.
  • Thero (daughter of Phylas)
    Their child was Chairon
  • Psamathe (daughter of Krotopos)
    Linos was their son who was killed by dogs.
  • Philonis (daughter of Deion)
    Philammon, their son, was the first man to train choruses of young women.
  • Chrysothemis
    Their daughter was Parthenos who after an early death become the constellation Virgo.

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APOLLO

Juli 30, 2011 at 10:05 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Most people know of Apollo only as a sun god, but he’s much more. Apollo, sometimes called Phoebus with or without Apollo, is a Greek and Roman god with many, and sometimes conflicting attributes. He is a patron of intellectual pursuits, the arts, and prophesy. He leads the Muses, for which reason he is called Apollo Musagetes. Apollo is sometimes called Apollo Smitheus. It is thought that this refers to a connection between Apollo and mice, which makes sense since Apollo shoots plague arrows to punish disrespectful humans.
There is much to say about Apollo. If he’s unfamiliar, start with the glossary entry on Apollo.

Apollo is thought to inspire the priestess of Delphi to pronounce oracles. Apollo is associated with the laurel, which is used in certain games to crown the victor. He is a god of music, prophecy, and later, the sun.

The Greek god Apollo is the brother of Artemis (huntress and sometimes thought of as the moon goddess), and the son of Zeus and Leda.

Apollo is associated with the prophecies coming from the Delphic oracle and the laurel, since when he pursued Daphne she was turned into a laurel tree to escape from him.

Apollo had few children and many romances. The healing god Asclepius was one of these children. Because of his gifts, Asclepius not only could, but did bring mortals back to life. Zeus was horrified and so stopped him by killing him.

In Euripides’ play Alcestis, Apollo has been forced by Zeus to labor as punishment for his grief-stricken misbehavior when Zeus killed Asclepius.

The Romans did not have a noticeably different version of the name Apollo.

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POSEIDON’S LOVERS

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:47 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Much like his brother Zeus, Poseidon had many affairs. Unlike Hera, however, Poseidon’s wife was neither jealous nor vindictive. In fact, the myths don’t indicate that Amphitrite took much notice of her husband’s love affairs. (According to one story, however, Amphitrite did notice Scylla and, in a fit of jealousy, turned her into a monster.)

Poseidon had affairs with mortals and immortals alike, fathering many children. The following sections describe the best known of his many conquests.

Aethra

Aegeus, ruler of Athens, was unable to have children with his wife, so he went to seek the advice of an oracle. The oracle warned him not to open his wine flask until he reached the highest point in Athens. Aegeus didn’t understand the oracle’s advice. Disappointed, he went to visit the king of Troezen. The king got Aegeus drunk and sent his daughter, Aethra, to his bed chamber. She and Aegeus made love, but that same night she left his bed to make a sacrifice. Poseidon approached her, and this pair also made love. (Some myths say she was raped by Poseidon and that the whole situation was set up by Athena.)

Aethra conceived a child that night — but no one knew whether the father was Aegeus or Poseidon. Most believed that the child was Poseidon’s, although Aegeus claimed the child, a son, as his own. The child, Theseus, became a famous hero. (See Chapter 19 for details about Theseus’s life.)

Amymone

Amymone was one of the fifty daughters of King Danaus. The king sent Amymone and her sisters to find water in the land of Argos. Poseidon had caused the region to dry up, so locating water seemed an impossible task. After walking for many miles, Amymone became tired and decided to rest. Left alone, she was approached by a satyr. (Another myth states that Amymone, in pursuit of a deer, accidentally hit the satyr with a spear.) The satyr attempted to rape the girl, but Poseidon interceded, using his trident to chase away her attacker.

Poseidon proceeded to court Amymone for himself. After making love to her, Poseidon used his trident to create a spring so Amymone could bring water back to her family. (Some myths tell the story a bit differently, saying that Poseidon did not create the spring intentionally but accidentally struck a rock with his trident while chasing the satyr.) Amymone succeeded in her goal of finding water, and Poseidon succeeded in adding another lover to his list.

Amymone and Poseidon had a son from their union: Nauplius, whose extensive knowledge of the seas and astronomy would make him a hero to seafarers. Nauplius also founded the town of Nauplia, a famous naval port near Argos.

Demeter

Another of Poseidon’s conquests was his sister Demeter. Wishing to escape her brother’s advances, Demeter transformed herself into a mare. But Poseidon wasn’t to be put off. He transformed himself into a stallion and mated with her in a pasture, both of them in the form of horses.

Together they produced Desponia, a nymph, and Arion, a wild horse. Desponia was worshiped alongside her mother in Arcadia. The people there erected statues of the mother and daughter as women with mares’ heads. Arion was a famous winged horse who could speak. Some myths say that his right feet were like a human’s.

Iphimedia

Iphimedia was an unhappily married woman. Her husband, Aloeus, a son of Poseidon, was also her uncle. Iphimedia was in love with Poseidon and made a habit of walking along the seashore. She would often sit down and scoop up the water, allowing it to flow over her breasts. Poseidon found this alluring, and his union with Iphimedia produced two sons: the Giants Ephialtes and Otus.

According to some myths, Iphimedia wasn’t the biological mother of Ephialtes and Otus. Rather, like the other Giants, these two were sons of Gaia. These myths say that Iphimedia raised Ephialtes and Otus, acting as their nursemaid.
Medusa

As you recall from Chapter 4, Medusa was a Gorgon, with snakes for hair and a terrifying appearance that could turn anyone to stone. Some myths say, however, that Medusa wasn’t always this fearsome creature. In these myths, she was once a beautiful woman, and her beauty caught Poseidon’s eye.

Poseidon approached Medusa as she was visiting one of Athena’s temples. They made love in the temple — an act unacceptable to the virgin goddess Athena. As punishment, Athena turned Medusa into the horrifying creature she is known as today. However, this transformation wasn’t enough for Athena; she also helped Perseus to slay Medusa.

When Perseus cut off Medusa’s head, two children appeared — Chrysaor and Pegasus — the results of her union with Poseidon. Some myths say that Chrysaor was born from Medusa’s neck and Pegasus from her blood. Others say that both were born when drops of Medusa’s blood landed in the sea.

Chrysaor means “the man with the golden sword”; he was born wielding a golden sword. He would grow to marry Callirrhoe (an Oceanid) and father two children: Geryon (a Giant with three heads) and Echidna.

Echidna was a horrible beast: half-woman and half-serpent. Not all myths agree that she was born of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe. According to Hesiod, she was the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. Some myths even say that she was the daughter of Gaia and Tartarus. Despite these differences, all agree that she was a frightening creature — and the mother of most of the monsters in classical mythology.
The second son, Pegasus, was a winged horse, who would later play a role in several myths. Pegasus was wild and free until tamed by either Athena or the hero Bellerophon (depending on which myth you read). At the end of his days, Pegasus was changed into a constellation.

Theophane

Theophane was a beautiful young woman who had several suitors, including Poseidon. To avoid competition, the sea god abducted Theophane and took her to an island.

Theophane’s suitors searched for their missing love. They eventually discovered where she was, but before they could reach her Poseidon turned the island’s inhabitants to sheep — including Theophane. At the same time, Poseidon transformed himself into a ram. When the suitors arrived on the island and found nothing but a big flock of sheep, they decided to have a feast. As they prepared to slaughter the animals, Poseidon changed the sheep into wolves that slaughtered the suitors instead.

Poseidon and Theophane mated while in their sheep forms, so their son (whose name is not recorded) was born a ram. But this wasn’t just any ram — he had a fleece of gold and was able to speak and fly.

Thoosa

Thoosa was the daughter of Phorcys (a son of Gaia). Her affair with Poseidon is known mostly for its offspring: the Cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus was not one of the original race of Cyclopes. Instead, he was a violent, savage, man-eating creature. Chapter 19 tells what happened when the hero Odysseus ran up against Polyphemus.

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POSEIDON COULD BE NICE SOMETIMES

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

You’ve seen that Poseidon could be a harsh god. He was always ready for a fight, not terribly clever, and untrustworthy. But he also had a kinder, gentler side:

Poseidon granted the twin brothers Castor and Pollux some of his own power — the ability to calm the seas. He also appointed them protectors of sailors, thus giving away a little of his own glory.

When Ino and her son Melicertes threw themselves into the sea, Poseidon took pity on them and changed them into sea deities.

Poseidon also gave his most precious creation — the horse — to those he favored. Many myths attest to this act of kindness.

After the fall of Troy, a Greek soldier, Ajax of Locris, raped a woman named Cassandra in a temple of Athena. Indignant, Athena asked her uncle for help in punishing the rapist. Poseidon sent a violent storm that destroyed much of the Greek fleet.
Poseidon was widely worshiped throughout ancient Greece. Sailors offered sacrifices to Poseidon in hopes of calm seas, and he was also connected with fresh water and fertility. Yet he was greatly feared for his ability to whip up storms and cause earthquakes, as well as his unpredictable nature.

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ATHENA AND ARACHNE

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:28 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Image Detail

While Athena was a friend to Greek heroes, she wasn’t so helpful to women. The story of the weaving contest between Arachne and Athena is one of the most familiar myths about Athena, and its central theme is also popular. Greek mythology repeatedly hammers home the danger of comparing oneself with a goddess. The theme appears in the story of Cupid and Psyche, where Aphrodite is offended. While ultimately there is a happy ending, to avert Aphrodite’s wrath, Psyche’s family abandons her to death. In the mythological story of Niobe, Artemis punishes the mortal mother for boasting that she is a more fortunate mother than Artemis’ mother, Leto: Artemis destroys all Niobe’s children. The punishment Athena inflicts on her capable, but merely mortal victim is more direct. If Arachne wants to claim to be a better weaver than Athena, so be it. That’s all she’ll ever be good for.

The Roman poet Ovid writes about the metamorphosis Arachne suffers in his work on transformations (Metamorphoses):
One at the loom so excellently skill’d,
That to the Goddess she refus’d to yield,
(Ovid, Metamorphoses VI)
In the myth, Athena challenges Arachne to a weaving contest in order to prove herself. The expert crafts goddess Athena is favorably impressed with Arachne’s weaving of divine debaucheries:

This the bright Goddess passionately mov’d,
With envy saw, yet inwardly approv’d.
The scene of heav’nly guilt with haste she tore,
Nor longer the affront with patience bore;
A boxen shuttle in her hand she took,
And more than once Arachne’s forehead struck.
Athena can’t tolerate the affront to her pride, though, so she turns Arachne into a spider doomed to weave forever. From the unfortunate spider-woman comes the name for the 8-legged creatures — arachnids.

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WHY HERCULES HAD TO PERFORM THE 12 LABORS

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:20 am (Uncategorized) ()

For most of his life, Hercules (Greek: Herakles/Heracles) was in thrall to his Uncle Eurystheus, the King of Tiryns, but it wasn’t until Hercules committed unspeakable acts that Eurystheus really got to have some fun at his nephew’s expense — with Hera’s help.

  • Hercules Genealogy and Relationship With Eurystheus

Hera, who had been angry with Hercules since even before he was born and had repeatedly tried to destroy him, now drove the hero mad and delusional. In this state, Hercules imagined he saw Eurystheus and Eurystheus’ family. In reality, the figures he saw were his own children and his well-loved wife Megara. Hercules slew them all (or most of them) and incinerated 2 of the children of his brother Iphicles, as well. In some accounts, Megara survived. In these, when he came to his senses, Hercules transferred his wife Megara to Iolaus. [To learn more about Hercules’ murderous rage, you should read the Hercules Furens tragedies of Seneca and Euripides.]

Hercules Seeks Purification for His Crimes

Madness was not an excuse for the carnage — not even madness sent by the gods — so Hercules had to make amends. First, he went to King Thespius on Mt. Helicon [see map of northern Greece, Dd, in Boeotia] for purification, but that wasn’t enough.

Hercules’ Expiation and Marching Orders

To learn what further course he must take, Hercules consulted the oracle at Delphi where the Pythian priestess told him to expiate his crime by serving King Eurystheus for 12 years. During this 12-year period Hercules had to perform the 10 labors the king would require of him. The Pythian also changed Hercules’ name from Alcides (after his grandfather Alcaeus) to what we normally call him, Heracles (in Greek) or Hercules (the Latin form and the one most commonly used today regardless of whether reference is to a Greek or Roman myth). The Pythian also told Hercules to move to Tiryns. Willing to do anything to atone for his murderous rage, Hercules obliged.

The Twelve Labors – Introduction

Eurystheus set before Hercules a series of impossible tasks. If completed, some of them would have served a useful purpose because they removed the world of dangerous, predatory monsters — or excrement, but others were capricious whims of a king with an inferiority complex: Comparing himself with the hero was bound to make Eurystheus feel inadequate.

Since Hercules was doing these tasks to atone for his crimes, Eurystheus insisted there be no ulterior motive. Because of this restriction, when King Augeas of Elis [see Peloponnese map Bb] promised Hercules a fee for cleaning his stables (Labor 5), Eurystheus denied the feat: Hercules had to do another to fill his quota. That King Augeas reneged and didn’t pay Hercules made no difference to Eurystheus. Other tasks the king of Tiryns set his nephew were make-work. For instance, once Hercules retrieved the apples of the Hesperides (Labor 11), but Eurystheus had no use for the apples, so he had Hercules send them back again.

Eurystheus Hides From Hercules

One more important point needs to be made in connection with these tasks. Eurystheus didn’t just feel inferior to Hercules; he was also afraid. Anyone who could survive the suicide missions on which King Eurystheus had sent the hero must be very powerful indeed. It is said Eurystheus hid in a jar and insisted — contrary to the instructions of the Pythian priestess — that Hercules stay outside the Tiryns city limits.

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PREMATURE BIRTH OF EURYSTHEUS AND THE DELAYED BIRTH OF HERCULES

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:13 am (Uncategorized) ()

Malvorlage  Hera

Hera, the jealous queen of the gods, the sister and wife of Zeus, pursued and harassed the great hero Hercules (Greek: Herakles or Heracles, meaning “glory of Hera”) from even before his birth until his death and apotheosis. When Hercules’ mother Alcmene was due to give birth to him, the goddess of childbearing crossed her own legs and hands, a form of sympathetic magic that blocked Hercules’ entrance to the world of light. This wasn’t just to punish Alcmene for having had an affair with her husband Zeus. Hera also wanted to make sure Perseus’ grandson Eurystheus would be born before Alcmene’s son, because Zeus had promised the first born son of his and Perseus’ blood would become king.
‘Hearken unto me, all ye gods and goddesses, that I may speak what the heart in my breast biddeth me. This day shall Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, bring to the light a man that shall be the lord of all them that dwell round about, even one of the race of those men who are of me by blood.’
Iliad Book XIX 101-105.
Hera accomplished her goal. Eurystheus, born two months prematurely, was destined to be king of Mycenae and lord over his week-late-nephew Hercules.

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HOW DID HERCULES DIE?

Juli 30, 2011 at 6:05 am (Uncategorized)

Malvorlage  Hercules

The demi-god Hercules withstood many life-threatening events and monsters, but even he eventually died. Find out how and what Hercules’ part was in his own death.
Answer: When Hercules was trying to take his bride Deianeira home, he had to cross the Evenus River. Nessus, a centaur, served as ferryman. First he rowed Hercules across and then, as he started to row Deianeira across, he tried to rape her. Hercules, justly enraged, drew one of his poisoned arrows and shot the centaur. Before he died, the centaur persuaded Deinaeira to take some of his blood to use as a love potion should Hercules ever cause her to worry.
In time, Deianeira became suspicious of Hercules’ interest in another woman, named Iole, so she smeared some of the carefully-saved centaur blood on a tunic and gave it to Hercules, trusting that it would act as a love potion and return him to her.

Unfortunately, the centaur had lied. The blood contained not a love potion, but a powerful poison from the poison with which Hercules had tipped his arrows. It had come from the Lernaean hydra.

When Hercules put on the tunic, it burned. He was in such excruciating pain that he wanted to die and had a funeral pyre built for himself. He then mounted it and had it lit. He died and went to the gods where he was reconciled with his tormenter, the queen of the gods, Hera. She allowed him to marry her daughter Hebe and live among the gods thereafter.

Intending to offer sacrifice, [Hercules] sent the herald Lichas to Trachis to fetch fine raiment. From him Deianira learned about Iole, and fearing that Hercules might love that damsel more than herself, she supposed that the spilt blood of Nessus was in truth a love-charm, and with it she smeared the tunic. So Hercules put it on and proceeded to offer sacrifice. But no sooner was the tunic warmed than the poison of the hydra began to corrode his skin; and on that he lifted Lichas by the feet, hurled him down from the headland, and tore off the tunic, which clung to his body, so that his flesh was torn away with it. In such a sad plight he was carried on shipboard to Trachis: and Deianira, on learning what had happened, hanged herself. But Hercules, after charging Hyllus his elder son by Deianira, to marry Iole when he came of age, proceeded to Mount Oeta, in the Trachinian territory, and there constructed a pyre, mounted it, and gave orders to kindle it. When no one would do so, Poeas, passing by to look for his flocks, set a light to it. On him Hercules bestowed his bow. While the pyre was burning, it is said that a cloud passed under Hercules and with a peal of thunder wafted him up to heaven.
Apollodorus Lib. 2.7.7

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