Agustus 1, 2011 at 7:22 am (Uncategorized) (, )

These are female monsters with snakes for hair. Their faces are so ugly that any man that see the face will turn to stone. Oddly the three gorgons have very different origins. Stheno and Euryale were born as gorgons from Phorcys and Ceto. They are immortal. Medusa was not

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Juli 30, 2011 at 6:00 am (Uncategorized) (, )

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The Cyclopes were giant beings with a single, round eye in the middle of their foreheads. According to Hesiod, they were strong, stubborn, and “abrupt of emotion.” Their every action ebbed with violence and power. There are actually two generations of Cyclopes in Greek myth. The first generation consisted of three brothers, Brontes (“thunderer”), Steropes (“flasher”), and Arges (“brightener”), who came from the union of Gaia (earth) and Uranus (sky). The second generation descended from Poseidon, and the most famous of these was Polyphemus from Homer’s Odyssey.
Brontes, Steropes, and Arges (the three descended from Gaia and Uranus) were the inventive blacksmiths of the Olympian gods. They were skilled metal workers and created Zeus’ thunderbolts, Poseidon’s trident, and Hades’ Helmet of Darkness that was later used by Perseus while on his quest to decapitate Medusa. However, they spent the majority of their early existence imprisoned. Their father Uranus (sky) hated all of his offspring (the Titans, Cyclopes, and Hecatonchires or hundred-handers) and kept them confined deep within Gaia (earth). The defeat of Uranus by his son Cronus (a Titan) freed the Cyclopes for a time, but Cronus was a paranoid ruler. He feared the Cyclopes’ power and cast them into Tartarus (the place of punishment in the underworld) where they remained imprisoned until Zeus (an Olympian and son of Cronus) released them, requiring their aid in the Titanomachy (battle of the Titans). With the assistance of the Cyclopes and their thunderbolts, Zeus overthrew Cronus and the Titans and became ruler of the cosmos. He was grateful for the Cyclopes’ help and allowed them to stay in Olympus as his armorers and helpers to Hephaestus, god of smiths. The Greeks also credited them with building the massive fortifications at Tiryns and Mycenae in the Peloponnese.
Brontes, Steropes, and Arges are mainly mentioned in passing in most of the myths to convey strength in heroes and the fine quality of weapons but are major characters in one other event � their deaths at the hands of Apollo. Zeus struck Asclepius, Apollo’s son, down with a thunderbolt for having risen a person from the dead. Apollo was outraged and killed the Cyclopes who had forged the deadly thunderbolt. It appears that Apollo’s rage was misplaced, yet by killing the Cyclopes, he was indirectly punishing Zeus. The ghosts of Brontes, Steropes, and Arges are said to dwell in Mt. Aetna, an active volcano that smokes as a result of their burning forges.
The second generation of Cyclopes was a band of lawless shepherds living in Sicily who had lost the skill of metallurgy. Polyphemus, son of Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, is the only notable individual of the lot and figures prominently in Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus and his crew landed on Sicily, realm of the Cyclopes. He and a few of his best men became trapped in Polyphemus’ cave when Polyphemus rolled a large boulder in front of the entrance to corral his sheep while Odysseus was still inside. Polyphemus was fond of human flesh and devoured many of the men for dinner. On the second night, Odysseus told Polyphemus that his name was “Nobody,” and tricked him into drinking enough wine to pass out. While he was incapacitated, Odysseus/Nobody blinded him with a red hot poker. Polyphemus shouted in pain to the other Cyclopes on the island that “Nobody” was trying to kill him, so no one came to his rescue. Eventually, he had to roll away the stone to allow his sheep to graze. Odysseus and the remaining crew clung to the bellies of the exiting sheep where Polyphemus could not feel them as they passed him on their way to pasture and escaped. As Odysseus sailed away from the island, he shouted to Polyphemus that it was Odysseus who had blinded him. Enraged, the Cyclops threw huge boulders at the ship and shouted to his father, Poseidon, to avenge him.
Recent scholars have hypothesized about the origin of the Cyclopes’ single eye. One possibility is that in ancient times, smiths could have worn an eye patch over one eye to prevent being blinded in both eyes from flying sparks. Also, smiths sometimes tattooed themselves with concentric circles which could have been in honor of the sun which provided the fire for their furnaces. Concentric rings were also part of the pattern for making bowls, helmets, masks, and other metal objects. Notice that the first generation Cyclopes were associated with metal-working while the second generation was not. Apparently, the lawless band of Cyclopes is a later addition to the myths. The incidence with Polyphemus seems to have had an independent existence from the Odyssey before Homer added it to his epic adventure. It was probably told as a separate myth at certain functions.
It is uncertain why the Cyclopes were demoted from the smiths of the gods to a lawless group of monsters with no reverence for the gods. When the universe came into being, there were many monsters and vague forms that were gradually replaced with beings with more human forms. Order was replacing chaos. The monsters were phased out, and this could have lead to the transformation of the “good” Cyclopes to the “evil” Cyclopes that were destined to be fought and defeated by the divine human form.

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Juli 30, 2011 at 5:08 am (Uncategorized) (, )

The minotaur was a fearful man-eating beast who was half-man and half-bull. He was born to Pasiphae, the wife of King Minos of Crete. To prevent the minotaur from eating his own people, Minos had the minotaur shut up in a complex labyrinth designed by Daedalus, who had also built the contraption that had permitted Pasiphae to be impregnated by the white bull of Poseidon.
To keep the minotaur fed, Minos ordered the Athenians to send over 7 young men and 7 young women each year. When Theseus heard the wails of the families on the day on which the young people were to be sent as feed, he volunteered to replace one of the young men. He then went to Crete where, with the help of one of the king’s daughters, Ariadne, he was able to solve the labyrinthine maze and slay the minotaur.

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Juli 30, 2011 at 3:26 am (Uncategorized) (, )

The monstrous hound Garm guards the entrance to Helheim, the Norse realm of the dead. It has four eyes and a chest drenched with blood, and lives in Gnipa-cave. Anyone who had given bread to the poor could appease him with Hel cake. On the day of Ragnarok, Garm will join the giants in their fight against the gods. The god of war Tyr will kill it in this cataclysmic battle but will die from the wounds inflicted by the hound.
Garm is often equated with the wolf Fenrir. It can also be compared with Cerberus, the Greek guardian of the underworld.

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Juli 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Arachne was a young woman from Lydia, sometimes said to be a princess, who offended Athena, and suffered the consequences. Her story helped serve as a warning to all to take care to not offend the gods.
Arachne was gifted in the art of weaving. Not only were her finished products beautiful to look at, but the very act of her weaving was a sight to behold. Nymphs were said to abandon their frolicking to come observe Arachne practice her magic. So remarkable were her works that observers often commented that she must have been trained by the very patron goddess of weaving, Athena herself. Arachne scoffed at this. She was disgusted at being placed in an inferior place to the goddess and proclaimed that Athena herself could not do better than her.
Athena was quite perturbed at Arachne’s bold claim, but she decided to give the young woman a chance to redeem herself. She came to Arachne disguised as an old woman and warned her to be careful not to offend the gods, lest she incur their wrath. But Arachne told the old woman to save her breath. She welcomed a contest with Athena, and, if she lost, would suffer whatever punishment the goddess deemed necessary.
The goddess accepted the challenge and revealed her true form. The nymphs who had come to watch Arachne’s weaving shrunk back in fear, but Arachne stood her shaky ground. She had made a claim, and she was sticking to it. So the contest began, the mortal at her loom, the goddess at hers. Athena began to weave the scene of her contest with Poseidon for the city of Athens. A beautiful scene developed from the threads, showing Poseidon and the salt water spring, and Athena with an olive tree, gifts to the people who would name Athena as their patron, and their city after her. The bystanders marveled at the goddess’ work.
Arachne, for her part, created a tapestry showcasing scenes of Zeus’ various infidelities: Leda with the Swan, Europa with the bull, Dana� and the golden rain shower. So exquisite was the mortal’s work that the bull seemed lifelike, swimming across the tapestry with a real girl on his shoulders. Even Athena herself was forced to admit that Arachne’s work was flawless. (Whether or not Arachne was actually better than Athena is still a mystery.)
Angered at Arachne’s challenge, as well as the presumptuousness of her choice of subjects, Athena tore the tapestry to pieces and destroyed the loom. Then she touched Arachne’s forehead, making sure that she felt full guilt for her actions. Arachne was ashamed, but the guilt was far too deep for her poor, mortal mind. Depressed, she hanged herself.
Athena took pity on Arachne. She most likely did not expect that Arachne would commit suicide. She brought her back to life, but not as a human. By sprinkling her with the juices of aconite, Athena transformed the woman into a spider, her and her descendants to forever hang from threads and to be great weavers.

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Juli 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

The first labor for the hero Heracles, was to rid the Nemean plain of the wild, enormous and extremely ferocious beast known as the Nemean Lion. This huge creature was the son of the monsters Typhon (who had 100 heads) and Echidna (half maiden – half serpent), and brother of the Theban Sphinx, in some legends it is said that the Nemean lion was suckled by Selene the goddess of the moon, other versions say that it was nursed by the goddess Hera.
Heracles set out to find the monster, which roamed the land of Argolis. Armed with his bow and arrows, (in some versions usually the Classical period he also had a bronze sword) and his club (made from an olive tree which he tore up from the roots). Hunting through the Nemean forest trying to find the lions lair, he suddenly stopped in his tracks when he heard a fearsome roar. Heracles turned and saw the huge lion rushing toward him. Quick as a flash Heracles drew his bow and released an arrow, but it failed to harm the lion. As the monster bore down on Heracles he quickly fired another arrow, and again it did no harm, the bronze heads bending as if hitting solid rock; the skin of this creature could not be penetrated by the sharpest of points. The lion pounced, but Heracles smashed his heavy club into the on coming monster, stunning it.
Realizing no weapon could kill this monster he rid himself of them, and fought the monster with his bare hands, with incredible strength, Heracles wrapped his great arms around the lions neck and strangled it to death. Once the huge monster was dead Heracles set about skinning the beast, but the skin was so tough he could neither tear or cut it. Then he tried the enormous claws which were very sharp, this time it penetrated the hide and Heracles removed his trophy. Realizing how impenetrable it was he threw it over himself as a cloak, and pulling the head over his own as a helmet making the pelt into armor which would make him even more powerful. From this time on the skin of the Nemean Lion became one of the attributes of Heracles, and so did the olive-wood club.
In art the hero is usually depicted wearing the Nemean lion skin, its jaws forming the peak of the helmet while its great clawed paws are knotted at his chest forming a hooded cloak, and he is usually leaning on his club, or hanging it on his shoulder.

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Juli 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

In ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the phoenix is a mythical bird and associated with the Egyptian sun-god Re and the Greek Phoibos (Apollo). According to the Greeks the bird lives in Arabia, nearby a cool well. Each morning at dawn, it would bathe in the water and sing such a beautiful song, that the sun-god stops his chariot to listen. There exists only one phoenix at the time.
When it felt its death approaching (every 500 or 1461 years), it would build a nest of aromatic wood and set it on fire, and was consumed by the flames. When it was burned, a new phoenix sprang forth from the pyre. It then embalmed the ashes of its predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flew with it to Heliopolis (“city of the sun”). There it would deposit the egg on the altar of the sun god.
In Egypt is was usually depicted as a heron, but in the classic literature as a peacock, or an eagle. The phoenix symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death. In that aspect it was often placed on sarcophagi. It is associated with the Egyptian Benu, the Garuda of the Hindus, and the Chinese Feng-huang.
Judaic lore mentions that the phoenix achieved its unique status as an immortal bird because it refrained from bothering the overburdened Noah during the Flood voyage (Sanh. 108b).

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Juli 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Pegasus - Heady Study, horse artwork

In Greek mythology, Pegasus is the winged horse that was fathered by Poseidon with Medusa. When her head was cut of by the Greek hero Perseus, the horse sprang forth from her pregnant body. His galloping created the well Hippocrene on the Helicon (a mountain in Boeotia).

When the horse was drinking from the well Pirene on the Acrocotinth, Bellerophon’s fortress, the Corinthian hero was able to capture the horse by using a golden bridle, a gift from Athena. The gods then gave him Pegasus for killing the monster Chimera but when he attempted to mount the horse it threw him off and rose to the heavens, where it became a constellation (north of the ecliptic).
In another version, Bellerophon killed the Chimera while riding on Pegasus, and when he later attempted to ride to the summit of Mount Olympus, Zeus sent a gadfly to sting the horse, and it threw Bellerophon off its back.

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Juli 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

The unicorn is a legendary animal. It is usually portrayed as a slender, white horse with a spiraling horn on its forehead, although its appearance and behavior differs, depending on the location. In the west it was usually considered wild and untamable, while in the Orient it was peaceful, meek and thought to be the bringer of good luck. There it is usually depicted as a goat-like creature, with cloven hooves and a beard. In Japan it is called Kirin, and in China Ki-lin.
The word “unicorn” is based on the Hebrew word re’em (“horn”), in early versions of the Old Testament translated as “monokeros”, meaning “one horn”, which became “unicorn” in English. The creature is possibly based on the rhinoceros or the narwhal, a marine creature with one horn.
In the west it was first mentioned by the Greek historian Ctesias in 398 BCE. According to him they lived in India and he described them as ‘wild asses which are as big as a horse, even bigger. Their bodies are white, their heads dark red and their eyes are deep blue. They have a single horn on their forehead which is approximately half-a-meter long.’ This description was based on the tales of travelers, and is a mixture of an Indian rhinoceros, the Himalayan antelope, and the wild ass.
The horn itself is white at the base, black in the middle and with a sharp, red tip. It is believed to possess healing abilities. Dust filed from the horn was thought to protect against poison, and many diseases. It could even resurrect the dead. Amongst royalty and nobility in the Middle Ages, it became quite fashionable to own a drinking cup made of the horn of an unicorn, not in the least because it was supposed to detect poison.
The belief in the healing abilities of the horn is probably based on a medieval story. In this particular tale, many animals once gathered around a pool in the midst of night. The water was poisoned and they could not drink from it, until a unicorn appeared. He simply dipped his horn in the pool and the water became fresh and clean again.
Another medieval story tells of the capture of a unicorn by a maiden. The unicorn was far too fast and wild for the man that was hunting him. He could only be tamed by a maiden who sat lonely underneath a tree in the woods. Attracted by the scent of purity he would lay his head on her lap and she would rock him to sleep. Then she would cut of his horn, and leave him for the hunter and his dogs.
There have been attempts to give these tales a Christian interpretation. In the first tale the horn symbolizes the cross and the pool the sins of the world. In the second story the maiden was Maria, the unicorn Jesus Christ and the horn a representation of the unity of the Father and the Son. Jesus, embodied in the unicorn, was killed for sake of a sinful world.

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Juli 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

The Hydra which lived in the swamps near to the ancient city of Lerna in Argolis, was a terrifying monster which like the Nemean lion was the offspring of Echidna (half maiden – half serpent), and Typhon (had 100 heads), other versions think that the Hydra was the offspring of Styx and the Titan Pallas. The Hydra had the body of a serpent and many heads (the number of heads deviates from five up to one hundred there are many versions but generally nine is accepted as standard), of which one could never be harmed by any weapon, and if any of the other heads were severed another would grow in its place (in some versions two would grow). Also the stench from the Hydra’s breath was enough to kill man or beast (in other versions it was a deadly venom). When it emerged from the swamp it would attack herds of cattle and local villagers, devouring them with its numerous heads. It totally terrorized the vicinity for many years.

Heracles journeyed to Lake Lerna in a speedy chariot, and with him he took his nephew and charioteer Iolaus, in search of the dreaded Hydra. When they finally reached the Hydras’ hiding place, Heracles told Iolaus to stay with the horses while he drew the monster from its hole with flaming arrows. This brought out the hideous beast. Heracles courageously attacked the beast, flaying at each head with his sword, (in some versions a scythe) but he soon realized that as one head was severed another grew in its place. Heracles called for help from Iolaus, telling him to bring a flaming torch, and as Heracles cut off the heads one by one from the Hydra, Iolaus cauterized the open wounds with the torch preventing them from growing again. As Heracles fought the writhing monster he was almost stifled by its obnoxious breath, but eventually, with the help of Iolaus, Heracles removed all but one of the Hydras’ heads. The one remaining could not be harmed by any weapon, so, picking up his hefty club Heracles crushed it with one mighty blow, he then tore off the head with his bare hands and quickly buried it deep in the ground, placing a huge boulder on the top. After he had killed the Hydra, Heracles dipped the tips of his arrows into the Hydras’ blood, which was extremely poisonous, making them deadly.
Other versions say that while Heracles fought the Hydra the goddess Hera sent down a giant crab which attacked his feet). This legend comes from a marble relief dating from the 2nd century BCE found at ancient Lerna, showing Heracles attacking the Hydra, and near his feet is a huge crab. Also other legends say that a stray arrow set alight the forest, and it was the burning trunks which Heracles ripped up and used to cauterize the open wounds.

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