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JOHN PINSENT

iREEK
Mythology was woven closely into the febrtc
and arts of ancient Greece.
Most of the drama, poetry, painting

of the Hie

and sculpture of the Qreeks is based on stories


of gods and heroes and of the mortal men
and women with whom they dealt. The myths
nf the early Qreek peoples had a religious
"' quasl-sclenllfic meaning and formed
ihF- essential background and cultural heritage
"I
later Qreek civilisations. They played
nn important part
Ihal

in

the creation of the glory

wai Gropre

The author, in addition to narrating familiar


and lesser-known stories, traces
the development of particular myths from
the most primitive times to the sophisticated
civilisation that formed the Qolden Age
ui Greece He shows that Qreek mythology
wiis a dynamic expression of the people's
'nscious or subconscious desires not a static
unvarying canon of stories. The richness
'if
Greek myths may be accounted for paniy
dv the widely scattered places In which
ihey developed
on the Qreek mainland,
on the Aegean Islands and in the Greek colonies
of southern Italy. Some of the myths can be
traced back to earlier nature religions.
Others can be explained in terms of modern
r

psychological theory

The stories

Greek mythology have been


artists even since
they first gained currency. This book contains
of
a superb selection
the best examples
of Qreek vase paintings, sculpture and
architecture, many of which have not before
been reproduced In books designed
of

a source of Inspiration to

for the general reader.

The author, John Pinsant, who has

made
Is

a special study of this subject.

lecturer In

Qreek

at the

University

of Liverpool

24 pages
Over 100

in

colour

illustrations In black

and white

Index

Front jacket: Heracles wrestling with

the sea-monster Triton

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GREEK MYTHOLOGY

MYT

IL

ini

JOHN PINSENT

PAULHAMLYN
LONDON NEW YORK SYDNEY TORONTO

coiDUR plate;

13

Bronze Core

17

Temple
Temple
Temple

20
24
38
38
42
42
42

of Apollo,

46

Heracles bringing Cerberus


to Eurystheus

62
66

Athena Promachos

71

Bellerophon and the Chimaera


The Calydonian Boar hunt
Caeneus slain by the Centaurs
Atalanta at the hunt
Man and Centaur

Corinth

at Selinus

of Aphaea, Aegina
Dionysus on a goat
Female statuette from Locri
Hermes and fertility goddess

Wind shown as a running figure


Athena on coin of Syracuse

76
80
81

84

Delphi

The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited

Copyright (C) 1969 John Pinsent

London/New York/Sydney/Toronto
Hamlyn House, Feltham

All rights reserved


Printed in Italy by

Middlesex, England

O.G.A.M. Verona

97
101
101

105
108
123
126
130
130

Amazons

in

battle

Three-bodied serpent man


Medea and Pelias
Theseus leaving Ariadne on Naxos
The sacred site at Olympus

The judgement of Paris


Temple at Agrigento
Achilles receiving his armour
The blinding of Polyphemus

ontent:

THE CHILDREN OF
14

lo

54

The
The

56

Battle of

57

Death of Heracles

99
100

16

The daughters of Danaus


Cadmus
The daughters of Cadmus
The birth of Dionysus

58

ATHENS

lOZ

Midas
Orpheus

63

Tereus and Procne

102

The apotheosis of Dionysus

63

INTRODUCTION
The

ancient sources

THE ORIGINS OF THE

WORLD

The creation myth


The succession myth
The birth of Zeus
The Titans
Typhon

22

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

29

Zeus and Hera

29

Ares and Aphrodite

51

Athena
Poseidon

16
16

23

10

53

94

quests of Heracles

95

gods and giants

58

63

27

32

exploits of Heracles

THE CHILDREN OF AEOLUS

65

Athamas

65

Pelias

68

THESEUS

104

Crete

104

exploits of Theseus
Theseus and Hippolytus

106

The

Sisyphus

69

THE TROJAN WAR

Endymion

69

Tantalus

no
no

THE MONSTER-KILLERS

Pelops, Atreus and Thyestes

112

70

Leda

112

Bellerophon

70

Achilles

114

Perseus

72

Demeter

3 3

Leto, Apollo and Artemis

35

Orion

36

Trojan stories

Otus and Ephialtes

37

THE GREAT EXPLOITS

77

Hephaestus

57

Communal exploits
The Calydonian Boar hunt

77

The judgement of
The sack of Troy

Hermes

39

Pan

40

Nymphs

40

107

77

117
119

THE END OF THE HEROES

129

The death of Agamemnon

131

Melampus
Admetus

79

Jason and the Argonauts

82

Odysseus
Neoptolemus

79

114
Paris

EARLY MAN

45

THEBES

87

The

The Five Ages

45

Prometheus

47

Oedipus
The Seven against Thebes

89

FURTHER READING

Pandora

48

Deucalion

49

HERACLES

93

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

137

Lycaon

49

Amphitryon

93

The

51

Birth of Heracles

94

INDEX

158

flood

return of the Heraclids

LIST

135

136

t^y
'd

iK?-'^
/X-i

INTRODUCTION

seductions and

There is a great deal of Greek mythology, and this book does not contain it all.
Almost all Greek art and literature either
took its subjects from mythology or
made reference to it. The Greeks told stories about the family life of the gods, and
they had a myth about the creation of the
world and how the present dynasty of
the gods came to power; but most of
their mythology is concerned with the
heroic world. This world joined on to
the historical world of the Greeks in
time. It came to an end with the return

icides,

of the children of Heracles to the Pelo-

is

ponnese, the mythological equivalent of

enchanter. Success brings

the Dorian invasion,

of

when

Greek-speaking

Greece and

the last

peoples

settled in Boeotia

wave

entered

and Sparta.

quarrels,

exiles,

illegitimate births,

many of them

taking

Greek
mythology has its share of monsters,
but the humanist outlook of the Greeks
place

inside

the

family

circle.

generally rejected magic. In other re-

myths do resemble fairy tales.


is not, however, an explanaOne of the commonest of such

spects the

A
tion.

label

motifs

is

the tale of the

goes on a journey to a
he

is

set a

number of

young man who


country where

far

tasks or quests in

order to win the hand of a maiden

who

the daughter either of a king or of an

dom

sometimes

him

the king-

of the death

at the cost

of the enchanter, and he lives happily


ever

after.

traced their descent

This pattern recurs in Greek mythol-

back to these children of Heracles.


For the Greeks, heroic mythology

logy with some significant differences.

They constructed

because of a family quarrel or homicide,

human

sometimes provoked by a step-mother.

The Spartan kings

was ancient

history.

genealogies which related

all

the

The young man

usually

leaves

home

personages of the myths, and prepared

The

schematic mythological handbooks to

of death at the hands of his daughter's

explain references in the older authors.

husband, and himself engages in a con-

In the earlier periods, writers

father of the princess

is

often afraid

In other cases

test

with her

improve and even invent myths,


doubtless maintaining that they were

his

daughter's son that represents the

simply telling for the

son of

felt free

to

truth.

first

time the real

Their inventions, however, tended

threat,

suitors.

and the
a

god,

child,
is

it is

be

miraculously

preserved and often suckled by wild

Such patterns are the first thing that


Greek mythology.
The second is the extraordinary character of its content. It is all about hom-

beasts. In the

end he brings about

his

grandfather's death after having acquired

way.
doubt that these

a bride in the usual

There

is little

Museum.

LEFT

Mount Olympus

in Thessaly,

the seat of the gods.

to follow the patterns of existing myths.

strikes the student of

Centaur. Olympia

almost always the

exposed (occasionally

with his mother) to

ABOVE

The young Apollo. The central


of the western pediment of the
fifth century temple of Zeus at
Olympia was Apollo, subduing a

stories

fig

INTRODUCTION
RIGHT
Bronze Core. This six-inch statuette of
about 480 BC was very possibly
identified as a goddess by some
emblem, now lost, in the right hand.

more probable perhaps that it


represented the donor perpetually
offering whatever it was she held.
Traces of silver inlay remain on the
fringe of her dress as she holds it
It is

aside.

At

development

this stage in the

of the art drapery is beautifully handled


to suggest clearly the human form
beneath, a technique which was more
easily handled in bronze than in stone.
British

ABOVE
Bull-leaping. This

bronze

famous Minoan

statuette, until recently in the

Spencer-Churchill collection, is part of


the meagre evidence for the Cretan
sport of bull-leaping which has left

Greek mythology in the


story of Theseus and the Minotaur.
its

trace in

In

all

figure

representations the
is

shown very

human

small and the

bull large, but this figure

had

its

feet

on the back of the bull


and might be in the act of landing
from a back somersault after seizing
firmly

the horns of the bull

and being tossed

upwards. Though just possible, the


manoeuvre must have been extremely
dangerous and the suspicion must
remain that the death of the victim
was the intention, which might be
avoided for a while by a skilful
performer. Some of the representations
may indeed show goring. This figure
is

clearly female, a bride of the

god

mother of the Minotaur,


and perhaps Europa, who is shown
in Greek art as carried off by a very
like Pasiphae,

sedate Zeus-bull. British

Museum.

Museum.

continue to be told because they satisfy

period either by a

some psychological need

their daughter's

in the

minds

of their hearers. Psychological explanausually Freudian, can be

tions,

found

many myths and some have been

for

proposed in

this

book. But the familiar-

ity

of the pattern sometimes obscures

its

chief characteristic: that sons never

inherit

from

Many

fathers.

of the more

unpleasant features of the myths

new

consort or by

who

was, of

course, completely unrelated to

them by

blood.

husband,

Some myths

suggest that the

king impersonated a god


also appear as

who might

an animal, and that in the

end he was made immortal by sacrifice,


a fate which he could sometimes avoid
by the sacrifice of his son.

into

If this state of affairs ever prevailed

place if they are seen as descriptions of

was during, and perhaps


Mycenaean period and
its immediate predecessor, after Greekspeaking people had entered Greece
about 1900 B.C. It was never congenial
to the Greeks, and never seems to have
been accepted by the Dorians, who
The
entered Greece about 1000 B.C.
Dorians perhaps brought with them a
new form of social organisation, based
upon the small nuclear family, in which

fall

what inheritance in the female line looked


like

people

to

who

themselves prac-

tised patrilinear succession.

some support

finds

sis

This hypothe-

in the

Greek heroes who marry

number of

their brother's

daughter.

The study of mythology seems

to

encourage the pursuit of extravagant


speculations that

dence.

not

It

for

is

the

go

far

beyond the eviand novelist,

for the poet


scholar,

goddesses everywhere.

to

see

None

mother-

the less

it

in

Greece

it

early during, the

an autocratic father rules over his wife

and the children of the marriage.

The

seems possible that some of the Greek


myths do preserve traces of a period in
which kings owed their title to marriage

of family are reflected in some of the

with

Greece,

queen, and were liable

violently

overthrown

at

the

to be

end of

tensions that arise in this type

myths and in the


especially

Anthropologists

literature

in

of

classical

Greek tragedy.

call this a 'guilt culture',

INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

poem

which moral sanctions are enforced


by an internalised super-ego based on

which

the child's experience of

book, because they seem best to account

over their inheritance. His father had

some of the
Greek myths.

returned from Asia Minor to Boeotia,

in

its

father.

It

superseded a 'shame culture' characterof the extended family, in which the


child is brought up in an atmosphere of

istic

by its brothers and


and cousins, learning to rely enupon the approval and disapproval

diffused benevolence
sisters

tirely

of its peers. In such a culture


their rapidly

men project

changing emotions upon

world of gods, and feel neither responsibility nor guilt themselves. This type of
culture

is

reflected in the

Homeric

epics,

and the Greeks always retained elements


of

it.

It

too

is

reflected in

some of

the

myths.
It is

explanations of this kind, psycho-

logical, anthropological

and sociological,

are tentatively suggested, along

with others

more

for

traditional,

peculiarities

in

this

of the

The ancient sources


1

The

Iliad

and the

Odyssey, the oldest

surviving works of Greek literature, are

both popularly attributed to one man,


Homer, but the Odyssey is probably a

good

deal later than the Iliad.

Both

are

organisations of older traditional material,

carried

about 800

out in Asia Minor from

B. c.

onwards, but much of the

Days, a didactic
brother, with

whom

addressed to his

he had quarrelled

where there seems to have been a school


of epic poetry especially devoted to
lists and catalogues. The mythological
poem, the Theogony, is generally attributed to Hesiod, but seems rather to be
the work of one of his successors, who
starts the poem with an account of his
graduation in the

poetical

school

of

Hesiod, perhaps as early as the eighth


century.
5

Pindar's

Victory Odes, addressed to

winners in the Olympic and other Greek

mythological material they contain was

games,

humanised to suit contemporary taste.


Hesiod is the author of the Works and
2

poetry with mythological content.

made

are

the

only

surviving

lyric

He

use, in the first half of the fifth

LEFT
Zeus brandishing a thunderbolt.
This 6-inch statuette from Dodona
almost exactly reproduces the pose
of the 'Poseidon' of very much
the same date, about 460 BC.

The

single difference

is

that the short

heavy thunderbolt (which identifies


Zeus) is thrown with a bent arm,
unlike the longer javelin. Dodona
was the site of a very ancient
oracular shrine of Zeus the thunder
god, who gave omens by the rustling

of the leaves of the sacred oak tree.


Thunderstorms are extremely common
on the mountains of north-western
Greece, and the oak tree is more
frequently struck by lightning than

any other

tree.

Former

State

Museums,

Berlin.

RIGHT

Snow on Mount

Parnassus, late
climate of

spring.

The Mediterranean

Greece

is

characterised by a wet

winter, which provides most of the


water required for plant growth,
a short beautiful spring, and a long
arid summer. Some of the hills are high
enough for the winter rain to remain
as snow, even as late as early May,
when the corn is in the ear though
not yet ripe. Deciduous trees are rare,
especially now that goats have turned
much of the hills into scrub. Plutarch
tells us that the women used to lead
a winter procession into Parnassus in
honour of Dionysus, and that one
winter they were all overwhelmed
by the heavy snows.

INTRODUCTION

local

any of the many modern translations of


these works. The Victorian translations
of the Iliad by Lang, Leaf and Myers

expur-

ceremonies and myths, which are ex-

and of the Odyssey by Butcher and Lang

gated or invented myths to accord with

tremely valuable, since they represent

preserve the flavour of the original.

his lofty ethical principles.

the beliefs and practice of the ordinary


treat-

And the annotated translation of


Apollodorus made for the Loeb Library

of myth-

by Sir James G. Frazer deserves special


mention. Frazer's theories, to be found

century, of the mythological traditions

known

Homeric poets and gathered together by their epic successors and


to the

earlier lyric poets.

The

fifth

He sometimes

great Athenian tragedians of the

century, Aeschylus, Sophocles

and

took their plots from the


same sources as Pindar and used them
to express their views of the nature of
Euripides,

the world and

its

gods. Sometimes they

used aetiological myths, which explain

drawing his material


from Athenian and Alexandrian geneaplaces he visited,

logical studies.

Greeks,

less

He

also reports

affected

ments of myth.
Apollodorus wrote
6
ological
logically,

of mythology, and

is

institution.

in-

cases,

suit their

own purposes.

Pausanias wrote a literary and

artistic

guidebook to Greece in about ad 170.

He

told the mythical history of

all

the

geneaIt is

the

only complete surviving Greek account

summary, extremely

a Library

about the same date.

its

vented myths to

literary

information, arranged

a particular ritual

by an account of
They too modified and

by

all

however,

its

therefore,
useful.

stories are

though

In

some

based on

tragic or invented Alexandrian versions

of the myth, and

it

should therefore be

treated with caution.


It

would be invidious

in the Golden Bough, are

ionable;

nowadays unfash-

translation

still

con-

good sense on mythology.


There is no good modern mythological dictionary in
English. The old
three volume Dictionary of Greek and
Roman Biography and Mythology, edited by
William Smith in 1876, is still more extains a lot of

haustive
to single out

but his

than

the

late

H.

J.

Rose's

useful Handbook of Greek Mythology.

Ji/i(gjmiiiiiiii

OF THE WORLD

When

primitive peoples ask questions

Ocean, from which the sun

normally answer them in one of two

golden bowl, presumably on Ocean, are

as

carpenter makes

wood, or they begot


his children.

These

it

chair

out of

as a father begets

are primitive answers

with strong psychological overtones, because the disquiet, which these answers

superior beings, and are visited by the

immortals. Such are the blameless Ethiopians in the south and the virtuous

perboreans

much myth and literature is effective.

live

Ocean

the I/iad to 'Ocean, the source of the

'Ocean,
all

who

made

has been

things'.

The

idea that

the source
all

things

arose out of water can be paralleled in

other cosmogonies.
first

there were

Chaos and Earth. From Chaos came


Erebus and Night; from Night the
Ether (upper air) and Day. Earth first
produced the Sea, then Ocean, and
then the Titans, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion,
lapetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis,

Mnemos-

may have been

It

Ocean, rather than Poseidon, the later


god of the sea, who first bore the Homertitle

ic

for
it

'earth-holder,

shaker of earth':

Ocean surrounds the

earth and keeps

in place, so that like the earth

of Norse

mythology he could

also cause

it

snake
easily

to quake.

yne, Phoebe, Tethys, and finally Cronus.

Many

of these figures are nothing more

than personifications: Themis


vine Ordinance;

16

that

Hy-

gods, and mother Tethys,' and one to

It is at this level

In Hesiod's cosmogony,

south-west corner.

who

north,

given in those terms.

The creation myth

the columns survived, to make Corinth


one of the most impressive sites of
antiquity. Seven still remain at the

the

beyond the North Wind.


There are traces in Homer

of

the height of Corinthian commercial


power, to the Roman conquest of
146 BC when it was burnt out. But

in

once played a larger role in an alternative


cosmology. There are two references in

that

chief

returning every night in a

sets,

from a
primitive level of the mind, and is
therefore best satisfied by an answer
are given to settle, itself stems

Temple of Apollo, Corinth. This, the


temple of the city, survived from
about 540 BC, when it was built at

and into

which he

ways. Either the gods made the world

Aphrodite with goat. Gela, on the


south coast of Sicily, was the most
powerful city in Sicily at the turn
of the sixth century. The clay
plaque found there shows that, as in all
the Greek colonies of the west,
the worship of the goddess was
apparently more important than
that of the gods. The figure is identified
as Aphrodite by the he-goat, one of
her sacred animals. Ashmolean Museum.

rises

about the creation of the world they

is

The succession myth

di-

Mnemosyne is Memory,

mother of the Muses; Hyperion, 'he


that goes over', is the sun; and Phoebe,
'shining', is the moon. Oceanus is distinguished from Pontus, the sea. He is the
stream which girdles the circular earth
and beyond which man cannot sail because there is nothing there except Hades. Those who live on the streams of

It is after this

schematic creation myth

becomes more naturaland has psychological overtones


derived perhaps from the 'primal scene'
of parental intercourse as witnessed by

that the Theogony


istic,

the child, as well as from the infant fear

of its huge and capricious parents armed,


as it is not, with gnashing teeth. Children

can be observed to take an ambiguous

J
y

^mm

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..

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD

The Ludovisi Throne, named after


the papal family on whose estates
was found, with its pair, the Boston
Throne, is one of the most mysterious
ancient works of art that have survived
from the middle of the fifth century.
It seems to have decorated an altar
used in the cult of Persephone
it

in southern Italy. Rejuvenation,

or the triumph of love over age, is


the theme of the reliefs. The relief
shown seems to represent the Return

of the Maiden, either from the sea,


suggested by the pebbles on which
the attendants stand, modestly veiling
the lower limbs of the goddess,
or from a ritual bath, or from the
underworld. Museo dei Thermi, Rome.

pleasure

in

parents,

who

biting

games with

their

pretend to eat them up,

and these reactions illuminate the myth


of Cronus and Uranus, 'Heaven', and
Gaia, 'Earth'.

Uranus hated

his

children

and

as

soon as each was born he hid him away


in a hiding place of Earth and would
not

let

him come

into the light.

The

huge Earth groaned

in pain

an

made adamant,
and called upon her

and devised

evil trick. First she

and from

it

a sickle,

take vengeance on their


lewd father for his evil treatment of
them. Only the youngest, Cronus of the
bent counsel, had the courage to respond, and promised to do the deed.
Earth took him into her bed, with the
sickle in his hand. When Uranus rechildren

to

turned, bringing night, he lay


in desire,

upon Earth

and she was stretched out be-

neath him. Cronus reached out with his


left

hand and seized

his right

his father,

and with

he castrated him with the sickle

and flung the parts behind him with


averted eyes. Blood gushed forth upon

Earth, and from

in due course she

it

bore the Furies and the Giants, and the

Ash nymphs, from whom

the gods

made

men.
But the parts fell on the sea, and from
the bloody foam was made a maiden,
and first she sailed to Cythera and then
to Cyprus. There the fair goddess stepped
from the sea, and grass grew under
the third race of men, the Bronze

and gods and men call her


is, 'Foam born'. This
is a piece of folk etymology for there is
another and in some ways more plausiher soft

feet,

Aphrodite, that

ble account of her genealogy in the Iliad.

Uranus

called his

ers': for in their

strained to

sons Titans, 'Strain-

wantonness they had

do so great

The Ash nymphs

a deed.

are there because

an ash plantation can, by suitable management and regular if not annual


cutting

down, be made

of tough,

straight,

to yield a supply

strong

stems

for

spear hafts, like the ashy stem of Peleus

which only

his

son Achilles could wield.

race of spear-using heroes

be made from the same

might well

wood

as their

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD


LEFT
Aphrodite

at the bath.

Greek

sculpture, intended for public display,

two main types,


naked male figure and a draped
female. The former developed into

early settled for

such free statues of athletes as the


'Poseidon' from Artemisium; the
latter into statues

of goddesses

represented in terracotta by the


Aphrodite bearing Eros. Not until
the fourth century did Praxiteles
introduce the nude or semi-nude statue
of the goddess, though female nudity

appears earlier on small bronzes


and vases for domestic use. This
eighteen-inch marble statuette from
the beginning of the first century BC

reproduces a famous life-size bronze


of the third century, which showed
the goddess at the bath doing up,
or letting down, her hair. It has an
almost Victorian charm lacking in some
of the larger statues of this type.

Rhodes Museum.

This family in some way

weapons, and the regular pruning may


have contributed something to the myth

Ea

of castration.

to destroy them, against her will.

There are
the

parallels to this

Near East

myth

in

in the second millennium.

from about 1200 b. c.


Minor;
these contain a Succession Myth, as it
is generally called, taken over from the

Texts

survive

from the

Hittite capital in Asia

Hurrians of south-eastern Asia Minor.


This

tells

how Anu

the sky

after

which Kumarbi strove with him,

chased him to heaven, bit off his genitals

and swallowed them, but spat out part


from which a god Tamisu and the river
Tigris were born.

similar story, but earlier,

pre-

is

served in various fragments from the


official text

Year
are

used

Festival.

In

at the

New

who

god

is

is

do not come until later: in the


Hittite it is not mentioned and appears

depicted in the humanised form


fifth century,

of the middle of the

to be prior to the story.

and bears a small figure of a winged


Eros to identify her, just as Athena

The resemblance

to the

Greek myth

and extends also to


the myth of the overthrow of Cronus by
Zeus. Various theories have been put

is

certainly close,

how and when direct or indiborrowing might have taken place,


either during the Mycenaean period of

forward
rect

the Bronze
the

eighth

Age

before 1200 B.C.

century,

the

or in

'orientalising

Tethys in the alternative cosmogony of


the Iliad mentioned above strongly sug-

their great-grandson

ABOVE
Votive statuette of Aphrodite, one
foot high. The little city of Medma,
on the western coast of the toe
of Italy, was founded from Locri.
Like its mother-city, it seems to have
had a cult of a goddess, to judge
from this statuette. The goddess

earth

and

initiate a

the mingled waters of their parents.

the sky

They

and Ea cast a magic spell


upon Apsu, stripped him of his regalia
and his strength, and slew him. In this
version the separation of heaven and

Anu

who

all

resolved

remain inside

Apsu, god of the fresh water, and

genealogy of gods

Apsu

Greek art. There can be little


doubt that versions of earlier and eastern
stories were known to the tellers of
versions of the Greek cosmogonies and
have influenced them. Oceanus and

Babylonian

this the first divine pair

Tiamat, the sea goddess,

his son.

silent

fell

god over-

threw Alalu and reigned for nine years,

is

disturbed Tiamat, and

period' of

is

often depicted with a Victory.


Nazionale, Reggio.

Museo

.'.'i

^-.

j-C

- ~

s-j

Wt-o^^.
.i^r;

rt..^

'-i.*5!- (;

-.f

^awS5<e-wif^[^-.

it-'-SC'-'--:

W'>*^''

ife
^S^i&?^

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD


The

latest

of the three temples which

the people of Selinus constructed on


the bluff overlooking their city and its

harbour from the east. The first was


built about 530 BC, not long after the
archaic temple C in the city itself, and
was almost immediately followed by a
grandiose plan for another temple to
the north. This was abandoned at the
beginning of the fifth century, when
Selinus joined the Carthaginians in the

campaign

that led to their defeat in 480.

one surviving,
change of government and
the re-establishment of links with
mainland Greece, and especially with
Olympia. For the temple has some
affinities with that of Zeus at Olympia,
and the metopes of Zeus and Hera,
Artemis and Actaeon, and Heracles
ibis temple, the only

may mark

and the Amazon exhibit the


authentic and severe Greek classical

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD

Apsu and Tiamat. Their estrangement suggests the separation of heaven


and earth which is often felt as implicit
gest

of Uranus.

in the mutilation

The castration of Anu by Kumarbi,


and the generation of a god and of the
Tigris

the

in

myth

Hittite

similarly

toilet-boxes

on

which were presumably

bought by or for women. The little


girl, running to be greeted by love,
is met by attendants who will bind her
hair and dress. She can be certainly
identified from other similar
treatments where the participants
are named as Aphrodite being
welcomed by the Hours after arriving
at Cyprus. Such a treatment is
exceptional: Aphrodite was normally
for the Greeks a dread goddess, who
might punish a young man like
Hippolytus for rejecting her.
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Fletcher Fund, 1959.

When

the

innocuously as a magic sleep and the

Rhea was sent by Gaia and Uranus to


Crete where she had the child in a cave

of the regalia. But Earth plays no

near Lyctus and gave Cronus a stone

part in either of these other versions,

to swallow.

Greek
version owes the strong human and
psychological overtones which give it a

to explain

quality quite lacking in those others.

outwit him in order that Zeus might do

The Oedipal element in the Greek


myth is so strong as to suggest that it

the bidding of the Furies that sprang

his children.

goddesses, perhaps the Earth mother,

chology of the
of the myth

is

east,

but the psy-

stories is purely

obscured in what appears

as

which the

Zeus.

child succeeds in supplanting

the father in his mother's bed with her

connivance. Hesiod does not say

and son were so

why

hostile: in fact

they are rivals for the love of the mother.

Such

the explanation that can be

is

given at one level of the myth: others


not excluded.

with the

sickle,

however well

For Uranus

is

cut

an instrument which

suited

the purpose

for

legitimately suggest that the story

has been also influenced by stories of


the annual sacrifice of the corn or

with

its

explanation

The

As always

its

Greek myth,
complicated history, no one

representative.

may

birth of

in

contain

all

the truth.

Zeus

The overtones so strong in the first part


of the Greek succession myth are abfrom the second. This time the
is Zeus, high god of
the Greeks, and any suggestion of mutilation has been completely suppressed,
sent

successful victor

or perhaps

displaced to

generation,

where

it

the previous

could

safely

be

were indeed
legends that the reign of Zeus was not
entirely secure, and that he feared he
might be supplanted in his turn. But
attributed to Uranus. There

their proverbial fame


by pointing out the tomb of

and also acquired

rather as a classical Oedipal fantasy, in

may

to

Greek.

The elements may have been

borrowed from the

are

in his turn hated

They advised Rhea how

of the cosmological significance

from the nuclear

the guilt culture derived

father

brings in Uranus and Gaia

why Cronus

from the blood of Uranus. Fate is thus


invoked to remove the responsibility
of parricide from Zeus. The birth of
Zeus took place in Crete because the
Cretans gave the name of Zeus to the
young consort of one of their mother-

family.

Much

The poet

to her presence that the

it is

can have arisen only in the period of

to sentimentality, especially

he swallowed, knowing that he would

be supplanted by his son.

edited out of the Babylonian to appear

and

with a realism sometimes descending

The Theogony tells how Rhea bore


Cronus a number of children - Hestia,
Demeter, Hera and Hades, all of whom

youngest, Zeus, was going to be born,

theft

painter treated mythological subjects

averting this

fate.

may have been

suggest the Greek, and

Aphrodite arriving at Cyprus. A group


of painters working from 475 bc
in the workshop of the Penthesilea

he always succeeded in

liars

The name Zeus

is firmly Greek, and


must have been Greeks in Crete,
and not Minoans, who made the identification. But the cave near Lyctus was
superseded after the Bronze Age. This
story must go back to that period when
Greeks were in Crete in the Mycenaean
age, though they were clearly ready to
modify the position and fate of their
chief god into the dying consort of the
Cretan goddess. The infant Zeus was
fed by the milk of Amalthea the goat
and on the honey of bees, w^hile his
cradle was hung on a tree 'that it might
be found neither in heaven nor in earth
nor in the sea'. His cries were drowned
by the armed dance of the Young Men,
the Curetes, who clashed their arms in

so

it

Cretan

ritual.

Zeus grew- rapidly and Earth helped


him to overthrow Cronus. Cronus vomited up his children and last of all the
stone, which Zeus set at Delphi. Again
the help of the mother is enlisted to
rescue the son, but the machinery is
left

perhaps

deliberately

obscure.

On

the analogy of the Babylonian myth, in

which

it is

at this

point that

Marduk son

body of Tiamat to make


heaven and earth, it might be supposed
of Ea

splits

the

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD


that

Zeus

open

slit

hero.

tale

In

who

weather god

his father like a fairy

Hittite version

the

is

the

the equivalent of

Zeus is still inside Kumarbi, where he


was engendered by the swallowed genitals of Anu. For some reason Kumarbi
swallows a stone, after which the god
emerges to engage in battle.

Once again

the

differences

are

as

The Greek
attention upon the

striking as the similarities.

myth concentrates its


stone, which is identified
stone of Delphi.
versions

this

as the sacred

According to other

was the navel stone of

earth (metaphorically rather than

liter-

which marked its dead centre. Zeus


sent two eagles flying, one from the east
and one from the west: they met over

ally)

Delphi.

It is

natural for

men

to think of

own

land as the centre of the earth,


and Delphi was becoming an important
their

cult centre at the time of the

The Titans
One

final

parallel

exists

between the

Greek cosmological myths and those of


the Near East. This is the need for the
newly triumphant god to defend his
position first against gods and then
against monsters sent up against him
by Earth. The former are found only
in the Greek and Hittite myths: in the
Greek the gods are the Titans, who
presumably resented the overthrow of
their brother Cronus. But the battle,
which lasted ten years, may have started
as a revolt of the younger gods. They
expelled the Titans from Olympus, for
the possession of which the battle was
fought in the plains of Thessaly.
At this stage Earth was still on the side
of Zeus and advised him that he could
defeat the Titans with the help of the

three Cyclops

and the three Hundred-

handers, her children by Uranus

inferior vase

Cronus and Rhea. Though a rather


by one of the later

mannerists, the Nausicaa painter,

serves to identify the subject without

working from 450 bc, it is of great


interest as one of the only two

doubt. There was a sanctuary


of Cronus and Rhea in Athens on the
Ilissus near Helicon. A cake with
twelve knobs on it was offered to
Cronus at the beginning of April.
Metropolitan Museum of Art,

of the myth. The other


is by an earlier painter of the same
school. In both there is no doubt
that what is being presented to the male
figure, who greets it with horror
rather than joy, is not a baby but

illustrations

even though it is here given


rough human profile. The scene

a stone

Rogers Fund, 1906.

who

had never been released. So, it seems,


was Oceanus, to whom Rhea entrusted
Hera at this time, according to the alternative 'cosmogony'. This
if

in this version

is

explicable

Oceanus played the

part of Uranus.
It is

common

motif in myth that


completed

a great enterprise cannot be

without the presence of a Helper, often


specially endowed with particular talents
or
weapons. The Hundred-banders

>J^_

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD


Zeus and Typhon. In the

last

half

of the sixth century a distinctive


school of vase painting developed,
probably in Etruria, though the artists

were Greeks from Euboean colonies


in Sicily. Their mythological
illustrations are strong

Zeus
with

is

and

vivid.

Typhon
Typhon is shown

attacking the giant

a thunderbolt.

huge figure with a bestial face


and pointed ears, wings and a double
serpent below the waist. The poets
were able to make his description even
more fantastic, attributing to him a
hundred serpent heads under his
as a

shoulders. Zeus' left leg

is

restored.

Antikensammlungen, Munich.

Temple of Aphaea, Aegina. The goddess


Aphaea seems to have been a form of
the pre-Greek mother-goddess, and
in myth she was associated with
Artemis. Her temple lay on the main
mountain range of the island, at its
north-east end, and gives views of the
island of Salamis to the north. The
classical town of Aegina lay on the
west of the island, looking to
Epidaurus, and the isolation of the
temple, appropriate to a nature goddess,
has preserved the building. The temple
was built about 510 bc, just before the
struggle of the Aeginetans with the
expanding Athenians. The goddess
seems later to have been identified in
cult with Athena, either to symbolise
the link between the two cities or at
the desire of a pro- Athenian party.

played this role in the battle of the Titans,

golden apples. At

a later stage Atlas

was

and

between them

identified

with the mountain that

still

hundred rocks at a time


which enabled them to rout and pursue
the Titans to Tartarus. There they
guarded them for Zeus, though there
is a nasty suspicion that the Hundtedhanders were prisoners as well as

bears his

name

was

it

their ability

to hurl three

warders.
is

to be regarded as a

flat

ed by Ocean,

circular earth surround-

Tartarus,

which seems

bottom of the underworld,


at the west. For the
underworld is always reached from
to be the

approaches earth

the west, the region of the setting sun,


rather than
ically

from any other of the theoret-

possible points

of the compass.

Atlas stood in the west in the sea that


is

beyond Ocean, and

after

him.

He

is

caUed Atlantic

bore on his shoulders

the heaven or the two pillars


which kept apart earth and heaven.
There too the Hesperides guarded the
either

acles at the Straits

Africa, just

of Gibraltar. Atlas

was said to have been turned into stone


by the Gorgon's head, but not by Perseus

since

Heracles,
sent

him

Perseus'
for

the

great-

golden

apples.

divided into two equal hemi-

spheres by a

North

were taken over by Her-

as his pillars

grandson,

Since the world


sphere,

in

As early as

the Odyssey the underworld

has four great rivers,

all

suitably

named.

Most important is Styx, 'Hateful', which


was identified with an icy waterfall
Arcadia, presumably one of the
underworld entrances. By Styx the gods
swore their most binding oath, to break
which entailed keeping silence for a
year and exile for nine (eight years by
our reckoning: this is a great year, when
in

all

the stars and planets return to their

original position, a period that recurs

in

Greek myth and

ritual).

Probably

Styx was once the only river of Hades,


since Cocytus, 'Wailing for the dead',
25

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORLD

The temple of Poseidon on

the

south-east tip of Attica, a sea mark


for any ship sailing by the Cyclades,

seems to have been designed by the


who built the temple of
Hephaestus. All these temples formed
part of Pericles' plan to mark
out Athens as the centre of the
league of island states. This
view shows five of the nine restored
columns of the southern side of the
temple, which have been set up on a
modern artificial base and look west
along the southern coast of Attica and
across the Saronic Gulf in
the direction of Aegina.

architect

is

said to

two

rivers

pain;
like

be

its

are

but the

tributary.

The

other

Acheron {Achos means


white

poplar,

acherois,

the white willow, seems to have

been sacred to Persephone) and Pyriphlegethon, 'burning with the pyre'.

The

fifth

river

Lethe,

first

in Aristo-

phanes, seems to be associated with reincarnation and a spring of

memory.

Typhon
Earth was shocked by the punishment
of her sons the Titans, and, as she had

done once before, shifted her allegiance.


She bore a youngest son Typhoeus,
or Typhon, a serpent man who might
be expected to continue the succession.
Against
the

first

Typhon Zeus employed

for

time the thunder and lightning

and cut out the sinews from


feet, disabling him and
putting him in a cave in Cilicia where
he hid the sinews in a bearskin guarded
by a serpent woman Delphyna. But
sickle

Zeus' hands and

Hermes

who

stole

them and revived Zeus,


winged chariot

flew to heaven in a

and pursued Typhon again to Mount


Nysa (which recurs in the legend of
Dionysus) where the fates weakened
him by giving him mortal food. Only
then could Zeus drive him to Etna by
way of Thrace where his blood marked
the Bloody Mountain, Haemus.
The Greeks certainly explained volcanoes as the work

of fire-breathing

monsters imprisoned under the earth.

The

theft

of Zeus' sinews

in the Hittite

is

paralleled

myth of the encounter

with the dragon lUuyankas,

who

takes

had made him, and

the god's heart and eyes. His son gets

pinned him under the volcano Etna.


But the victory may not have been as

them back by marrying the dragon's

easy as the Theogony suggests.

The version
of Apollodorus says that Typhon was
born in Cilicia, where he fathered monsters on the Gorgon's sister, the snake

from the Greek version, where the task


is performed by the Thief God. Also
in the Hittite, the giant Ullikummi is
only countered by sawing off his legs

woman

with the

that the Cyclopes

Echidna: their children were

daughter. This fairy tale motif

bronze

cutter

that

is

absent

severed

Orthus, the monstrous hound of three-

earth

bodied Geryon, Cerberus, the Hydra


and the Chimaera. Zeus pursued him

All this suggests a version of the succession

myth with

adamantine sickle, probably the one with which


Cronus mutilated Uranus, where he

results

altered

to the borders of Syria with an

grappled with him.

Typhon got

the

to

and heaven in the beginning.

the

contest

to

the persons

make

surviving god,

it

and the

applicable

who wins

and even survives

the

castration.

Zeus and Hera. The Greek

city

of

Selinus in the extreme south-west of


Sicily

owed

its

prosperity to

its

links

with Carthage. From the end of


the sixth century it built an impressive
series of temples which have been
preserved by their isolation. The
mid-fifth century temple E seems to
have been dedicated to Hera. The
metopes were placed not in the open
28

on

bride: the Sacred Marriage has been

RIGHT
The Sacred Marriage of Zeus and Hera.
The German excavations in the
sanctuary of Hera on Samos,
which started in the 1930s, revealed
some of the few surviving Greek
wooden statues, though it has not
always been possible to save them from
disintegration. The late sixth century

humanised. Museo Nazionale, Palermo.

bridal pair,

the facade but

on the ends of
cella. They

the

interior building, the

show encounters between male and


female gods and heroes: the female
heads, arms and feet are of marble
carved by a different and superior
sculptor.

On

Hera unveils

this

metope the goddess


Zeus as a

herself for

now

lost,

probably

THE FAMILY OF

TH:

way Zeus broke the succession


and established his rule. There are,
however, persistent hints in the myths
both that Zeus feared in his turn being
overthrown by his son and also that
some of the gods tried to cast him
down. The world was then divided

myth Dione, the mother of Aphrodite.


Dione's name is the exact counterpart

between the three sons of Cronus, Zeus,


Poseidon and Hades. In the Theogony,
it is Zeus who assigns the blessed gods
their honours. In the Iliad Poseidon
describes the division of the patrimony

for the wife of the chief god.

In this

cycle

among
has

he

the three sons of a father

retired
is

from

active

life,

who

though
is no

not necessarily dead. There

trace either of primogeniture (succession

own and of the Latin Juno.


But generally in mythology Zeus'
consort is Hera. Her name seems to be
the feminine of 'hero' and to mean
of his

This

'the lady'.

had

is

of her

a cult

unquestionably a

a perfectly proper title

But Hera
Argos and is
survival of one of the

own

indigenous mother-goddesses of Greece.

As such, she is closely assciated with


young heroes such as, originally, Heracles, who is named after her 'glory
of Hera', and also

Jason.

of the eldest son) or of ultimogeniture

jealous wife resentful of her husband's

amours and bastards

There are indeed traces in Greek


mythology of what may be called the
Indo-European family of the gods:
that is, of a family of gods organised
upon patriarchal principles. But among
Greeks it is complicated by assimilation

developed legend, Heracles was one).


Indeed, in an amusing passage of the

religious

systems

indigenous

to

Greece.

Iliad,

Zeus

(of

when

they were
still young and in the house of their
parents, before Zeus overthrew
Cronus and claimed the sovereignty.
Attention is focused on the breasts
of the goddess, as in the terracotta

protome of Persephone or Demeter


on page 35.

The word Zeus

list

goddesses.

Hera to bed, saying

invites

This

is

in

first

the

connected with the

part of the Latin Jupiter and with

word

for day.

He is

the sky

god of the

bright sky, but also of the storm, and


is armed with the thunderbolt. He
might be expected to have an exactly
equivalent consort, and so he has in one

so

fact

part

of a

Boeotian catalogue of what the Odyssey


calls 'wives and daughters of heroes',

is

effect

of a

Don

not intended.

Some
is

in the

more than any of a


of seven women, two of them

Juan

Zeus and Hera

whom,

that he loves her

and the mildly comic

of the divine couple

Otherwise,

she appears almost exclusively as the

(succession of the youngest son).

to

represents the Sacred Marriage,


but in a style which suggests the love

in

who were assimiand daughters of the

of the gods

lated to the sons

divine
Indo-European monogamous
family had already mothers, if not fathers, of their own, and the former they
retained when their paternity was taken

over by

Zeus. Similarly

many

heroes

had a respectable pedigree ending in

oife*^-i:^

The Twelve Olympians. As the


expanding Greek cities absorbed
their smaller neighbours together
with the local cults, they set up an
official state cult of the Twelve
Olympians to express this new sense
of unity.

An

early fifth century

come from Tarentum,


shows that the cult also spread to the
Greek colonies in Sicily and
southern Italy founded at the end of
relief, said

to

rich

the eighth century. Apollo with his


lyre leads the procession with Artemis

and her bow. Then comes Zeus


with the thunderbolt, Athena with
her owl, Poseidon with the trident,
Hera, Hades and Persephone who
carries the ears of corn, helmetted
Ares with Aphrodite holding a flower,
Hermes in cap and with his wand,
the caduceus, and finally a figure
with a basket who is probably Demeter.

Persephone and Hades. The Greek colony


on the toe of Italy, was
the site of an important cult of
Persephone. A large number of
votive plaques all produced
between 480 and 450 bc were found

at Locri,

in a

number of

pits.

All bear subjects related to the

mysteries. Persephone is shown


enthroned with Hades though she
clearly the more important figure.
Museo Nazionale, Reggio.

is

^.

>M^

vi.r
'^

V>'
I

'ii^-

an ancestress, possible a mark of an


earlier society in which a man might

in a

quite normally call himself Parthenius,

Ares gave Aphrodite many gifts,


and she shamed the bed of her lord
Hephaestus. But the Sun, who sees
everything, told him what was going
on, and in anger he went to his forge
and made chains like spiders' webs,
quite invisible, which he hung from the
bedposts as a kind of net, with a device
for letting them down. Then he announced his intention of going off to
Lemnos, the seat of his cult. He was no
sooner out of the house than Ares was

'unmarried woman's son'. But in most


cases, paternity

The god

is

was taken over by

a god.

often said to cast the maiden

into a deep sleep before possessing her,

which might suggest some


of drugs
to a

in a rite of

god or

some

in

ritual

use

sacred marriage

cases to his repre-

sentative.

The amours of Zeus


either

ritual

or

thus

genealogy

reflect

or

both.

But in the monogamous Indo-European


family a wife was not expected to tolerate
her husband's concubines or bastards,

when this social


projected upon heaven
and

was
produced a

structure
it

shrewish Hera.

Ares and Aphrodite

The

were in
is

and Hera
and only one of them

legitimate issue of Zeus


fact three,

member

of the divine family. This

Ares, god of war,

who

is

seems to have

been in some way Thracian and to


have presented to his sons savage maneating mares for their chariots. He appears

famous story

as

the

discomfited

lover of Aphrodite.

in,

would not mind

Hermes

replied that he

even

the goddesses looked on. But

if

Poseidon was not amused, and called


on Hephaestus to loose them, offering
to stand surety for the fine that

Ares

would have to pay for his conduct.


Ares went off to Thrace, but Aphrodite
where are her grove
and smoking altar, and there the Graces
bathed her and anointed her with oil,
immortal oil, and they put on her
to Cyprus, to Paphos,

lovely clothes, a

wonder

to see.

crying:

bed let us turn',


which Aphrodite responded
with alacrity. Down came the net and
back came Hephaestus, again warned
by the Sun. In anger, he summoned
father Zeus and the other gods, claiming
that he was made a laughing stock by
Aphrodite because he was lame. The
male gods came, but the female ones
stayed at home for shame. And Homeric
laughter arose among them at the sight
of the poetic justice by which the
tortoise had caught the hare. Apollo
said to Hermes, 'would you be willing.
'Hither, dear, to the

burdened with heavy chains, to sleep


in
a bed with golden Aphrodite?

call

Athena

to

Hera and Poseidon

are often associated

with Athena as not overfriendly

critics

of Zeus. Athena, Like Hera,

is

not a

name but

Athenian

a title. It

means

'the

one' and refers to another manifestation

of

the

pre-Greek

worshipped,

as

she

mother-goddess
to be

continued

worshipped, in the Parthenon on the


at Athens, She was, however,

Acropolis

quite literally absorbed by Zeus, who by


pure thought brought her to birth from
his

forehead, fully armed in his

own

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

magic goat-skin, the aegis, though


Hephaestus cleft his head with an axe
to effect the delivery.

The

story,

as

old as the

Theogonj,

Zeus loved Metis ('counsel':


a personification) but was warned by
Earth that his son by her would supplant
him and so he swallowed her. Athena
was the child of this union. This is
said that

not the only myth in which Zeus appears


in the role

of Cronus. But the story

of Athena's birth in fact reflects the


resentment felt in a patriarchal society
for

woman's one indispensable

function,

actually bearing the legitimate children

of the father. At

least,

they cry, the father-

god could have children by himself


without the intervention of the mother.
In human terms they devised the physiological theory that the child
plete in the

is

com-

male seed, and that the

no greater than
which also they

mother's contribution

is

that of the earth in

sowed seed. Psychologically, of course,


Athena is the virginal and unmarried
warrior daughter as typical of the Indoas it may have
been of the warrior society which that

European divine family


reflects.

Poseidon
hostility
between Poseidon,
Hera and Athena on the one hand and
Zeus on the other is found in the story
of how Hera, Poseidon and Athena

Actual

bound Zeus. Thetis the sea nymph


released him and brought the hundredhanded Briareus, or Aegaeon, to help
him. This story seems to bear traces
of
Bronze

perhaps of Poseidon.
The seven-foot-high statue was
recovered in 1928 from the sea off
Artemisium, the cape on the northwestern tip of Euboea where the
Persians were defeated in a storm
in 480 BC. Presumably a treasure ship
statue,

carrying art treasures to

Rome

was wrecked on the same treacherous

The

not Attic. It
has been associated with the Aeginetan
Onatas, who made the statue of
Hermes with the ram at Olympia.
The subject used to be talcen as Zeus
with the thunderbolt; now it is more
frequently believed to be Poseidon
with the trident. But the trident
is used for stabbing (as in the coin
of Paestum opposite), and
coast.

statue

is

appears rather to be hurling


a spear. It might represent an
idealised warrior rather than a god.
National Museum, Athens.
this statue

an

succession

alternative

myth.

Common to both is the presence of Briareus as Zeus' Helper, and there can be
little

doubt that Thetis

for Tethys (the


iants)

who

two

played in

cosmology the

this

role taken

standard version.

It

here standing

is

are linguistic varalternative

by Gaia in the

should follow that

Ocean played the part taken by Uranus


and if so Poseidon may stand for him
here, and the binding for the hiding
away of Uranus' children.
Certainly

Poseidon

the father of Briareus,

seems

who

is

to

be

here given

an alternative name that links him with

Aegean Sea, and he may, like Atlas,


have been the giant that stands in the
the

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

and holds the world. If, then, in


Poseidon is Oceanus/Uranus, Zeus, who is never referred to by
sea

this version,

name

must stand in the place


what was presumably
myth of single supplanting. As it is

that

in

of Cronus
a

it,

in

told in the Iliad, however,

it is

a tale of

between the Olympian gods. But


the terms in which it is told seem to
go back to an older mythology.
rivalry

Demeter
Like his

titles,

'earth-holder, shaker of

seems to

name of Poseidon points


some such original role. It
mean 'Husband of Da' where

Da,

Ge and

earth',

also

the

to

like

name of

Da

the

reappears

Gaia,

a pre-Greek

is

mother-goddess
the

as

first

Earth.

of

syllable

Demeter, 'Da mother', who is in Greek


religion the goddess of agriculture and
a sister of Zeus. Demeter had a daughter,

Persephone by name but often called


simply Core, 'girl'. Zeus was her father,
and exercising his paternal rights he
gave her in marriage to Hades. Gaia

approved the marriage and sent up


flowers that tempted Persephone down
a secluded valley which either led
directly to Hades or where Hades raped
her (flowers are the proper accompaniment of a sacred marriage, and Gaia

had specially created the narcissus,


which like Core spends the winter in the
earth) and from where he carried her
off.

Demeter heard the scream which


her daughter gave, and sought her over
the whole world, bearing the

used in her

woman
king's

she

ritual.

torches

In the shape of an old

came

Eleusis,

to

and the

daughters received her kindly,

and brought her into the house to be


nurse to their infant brother Demophoon.

But in her sorrow she would not enter


the

house,

but

stood

grieving

until

lambe made her smile with obscene


jests and set her on a chair. But she
refused wine, asking instead for a gruel

of flour and pennyroyal. She stayed and

nursed

Demophoon,

with ambrosia and


in the

fire,

until

at

anointing

one night

Metaneira caught her


her.

Thus Metaneira

him

night putting him

at

it

lost

mother
and struck

his

the

gift

of

immortality for her son, and Demeter

ABOVE
Obverse of

stater

of Paestum, 550 so.

The Italian town of Paestum was


named after Poseidon and the Greek
form of the name is Poseidonia. The
god was always shown on the coinage
together with the first three letters
of his name reading upwards.

BELOW
The birth of Athena was naturally
a popular subject among Athenian
vase painters. Some versions show
Hephaestus cleaving the head of Zeus
with an axe, but this, which belongs
to a group E close to the master
Exekias, and working about 560 BC,
shows Athena received into the family
of Olympus despite her unorthodox
birth. Zeus with a decorative
thunderbolt sits on a stool, under

He

almost always bearded, though


not well indicated here.
He holds the trident, a fishing spear,
not to be thrown but for stabbing
down into the water. Over his shoulders
he wears what may be a net.
that

is

is

Museum.

British

which

is

a space

and

a small sphinx,

filler.

To

the

left

simply
are

Hermes

bearded Apollo with the lyre.


To the right are Ares dressed as a
hoplite with Corinthian helmet
fully on his head and a goddess who
is perhaps Artemis, as Apollo's
sister, or Aphrodite, Ares' lover.
Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, Pierce Fund.
a

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

BELOW

RIGHT

This early sixth


century statue from Megara Hyblaea

Artemis. This gold votive plaque


from Rhodes of the seventh century

Fertility goddess.

Sicily

was painstakingly reconstructed

from 956 fragments. It is a powerful


representation of the fertility goddess
who was, in one form or another, the
chief deity of the Greek colonies in
Sicily. Here the goddess is firmly
maternal, and suckling twins. She is
Demeter, therefore, rather than
Persephone, although the twins may
suggest a cult of Leto, mother
of Apollo and Artemis. Museo
Archeologico Nazionale, Syracuse.

in

B.C.

shows

oriental influences.

The

goddess is depicted winged, and with


a head out of proportion to the body.
The type is a variant of the Mistress
of Wild Beasts, for here the lions have
been tamed and overcome by the goddess.
She is presumably Artemis, though the
Mistress is a pre-Greek goddess.
The pomegranate flowers hanging from
the plaque suggest that in Rhodes she
retained some of the attributes of a
fertility

goddess. Ashmolean

Museum.

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

BELOW
Persephone or Demeter. Big half
were made
in large quantities in Boeotia during
the fifth century and placed in graves.
An almost identical figure, possibly
from the same mould, was found at
Delphi where it may have been
a dedication. The type is archaic, and
may derive from a cult statue wearing
the characteristic hat. The pose indicates
a mother-goddess, holding a
pomegranate bud in her left hand,
either Persephone or Demeter as
protectress of the dead. Museum
of Fine Arts, Boston, Perkins Collection.
figures, called prototnes,

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS


Delphi. Apollo and Artemis saved their

mother by shooting Tityus with their


is found in Hades being
punished by two vultures, which sit
either side of him and gnaw his liver.
Another of the great sinners punished
in. Hades, Ixion, is also there for an
attempt on a goddess, Hera. But the
birth and fate of Tityus strongly suggest
the Titans, and his story seems to be
arrows, and he

another misplaced piece of a succession

myth.

Orion

Even more
Reverse of stater of Pheneus, about
}6o BC. The people of the small
Arcadian city of Pheneus, in an isolated

and often flooded valley in the


north-east towards the Corinthian
gulf, had always worshipped Hermes
the

god of

the flocks as their chief god,

and dedicated a statue of him


at Olympia in the fifth century
bearing a ram. When the Thebans
defeated the Spartans and set up
Megalopolis as the federal city of
Arcadia, the Pheneans put Hermes
on their coins, but added the figure

Obverse of

stater

from Croton, about

420 EC. The Italian colony of Croton,


at the western end of the gulf of
Tarentum, was founded at the direct
instance of Delphi, the clearing house

Greek geographical
knowledge, and so always showed
the oracular tripod of Apollo on
its coins. The tripod is ornamented
with two twisted garlands, and on

for early

Apollo
and the coiled python which he shot
when he took over the shrine from

either side appear the infant

Earth. British

Museum.

of Poseidon,

is

the story of the

who

gave him the power

of going through the sea, like Atlas and

one version of his birth,


Poseidon and other gods begot him by
making water on a hide, which was then
buried for nine months. This tale is

Briareus. In

an example of folk-etymology (urine


Orion). Orion became a mighty Boeotian

hunter,

'Pomegranate'

Hades

of Areas, their ancestor, whom Hermes


reared when Callisto bore him
to Zeus. British Museum.

curious

beautiful giant Orion, an earthborn child

and

had

who was

for rivalling Hera,

fore have been

kind

wife

called

down to
and may theresent

of local

Per-

sephone.

Then Orion went to Chios and wooed


the daughter of Oenopion, the 'winefaced',

BELOW

which grows from her head

Artemis and nymphs. Outside Athens


there had been, at the very beginning

Mistress of Beasts, later identified


with Artemis. The two female figures
under her protection are therefore

of the sixth century, a technique


of relief decoration of very large
storage pots. From the neck of such
a vase found and very likely made
at Thebes comes this model of a
goddess, clearly identified by the two
lions who flank her and bv the vine

the

as the

nymphs of Artemis, though

they

give the goddess a very maternal


appearance. She wears the same kind
of head-dress as Demeter in the
Boeotian protome on page 35. National

Museum, Athens.

who made him drunk and

blinded

him, perhaps for raping her before marriage. Orion went perhaps to Lemnos,

where he picked up,

if

Hephaestus did

not give him, a boy, the original 'pigmy

on the shoulder of a giant', who guided


him to the sunrise, where he got back
his sight. Orion rushed back to be revenged on Oenopion, who escaped him
by hiding in a brazen house under the
ground made by Hephaestus. Then
Dawn loved him, and carried him to
Delos, where Artemis slew him with
her soft darts. But in some versions it
was Artemis whom he loved, or one of
her nymphs.
There are a large number of primitive
ritual

elements in this story or stories,

and many of them recur


Blinding

is

in other myths.

often a literary substitute for

and there seems little doubt


Orion was originally the male fig-

castration,

that

number of fertility rites, in


some of which his female partner may
have been originally Artemis. The stoure in a

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

known

of Orion are

ries

only from

allu-

sions and late sources, so that the various

elements in them cannot easily be disin detail. But the water-

entangled

walking giant where the sun rises


certainly from a succession myth.

is

Otus and Ephialtes

Some of

the characteristics of Orion are

shared by Otus and Ephialtes, whose


mother, a figure in the heroic genealo-

bore them to Poseidon. At nine

gies,

years of age they were nine cubits broad

and nine fathoms tall, and they tried to


pile Ossa on Olympus and Pelium on
Ossa to scale heaven. They were slain
by Apollo,

for they put Ares into a

bronze

from which Hermes

jar,

stole

him. The object of their quest was, it


seems, Hera and Artemis, and in less
Apolline versions Artemis killed them
a hind ran between them at
which they fired, and hit one another.
Otus and Ephialtes seem also to
have been figures in a fertility cult, particularly associated with the island Nax-

herself;

os.

They

floor,

sons

are

of the threshing

or of a garden or vineyard

(a/oe)

and their female partners seem to have


been identified with Hera and Artemis.
The manner of their death shows them
to have been hunters, and perhaps to
have met some ritual death which relieved everybody else of responsibility.

Hephaestus
In one version of the myth of the birth
of Apollo, Hera was said to have borne

Typhon spontaneously

in revenge for

the birth of Athena. This story

commonly
god of

is

more

of Hephaestus, a

told

eastern origin

who

fire

has been in-

corporated as an Olympian of the second


generation and, since the Greeks learnt

metal working from the East, as the


divine smith.

As

as a blind child

such, he

is

lame. For

can be apprenticed bard,

so a lame one can

work

at

the smithy,

where he does not have to move about


much and where the compensating overdevelopment of arms and shoulders is
an advantage. The loss of an eye, from
sparks,

smiths,

is

another occupational hazard of

which may be the origin of the

one-eyed Cyclops.

ABOVE
Orion crossing the sea. Etruscan
bronzeware was famous even in Greece,
to which it may have been exported
in exchange for Attic painted vases.
Women were important in Etruscan
society, which may account for
the large production of finely decorated
mirrors, from the sixth century
onwards. An archaic example, perhaps

century, shows
naked youth running
across the sea, indicated by a shoal
of fishes. The youth is Orion, the

from the

late sixth

a beautiful

beautiful hunter,

who

has this special

power. British Museum.

BELOW
The bronze youth or Kouros from
the Piraeus of about 530 bc, /eft, is an
example of the nude standing figure
with one leg advanced and arms by
the side: the majesty of the head shows
why such figures were earlier identified
as Apollo: rather, the god was
sometimes depicted in the form of an
admired youth. The charioteer at

Delphi,

right, sixty

years later

470 BC shows the same type,


exceptionally clothed, adapted to a
in

statue

commemorating

a victory in

the chariot race. National

Athens; Delphi Museum.

Museum,

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

LEFT
Dionysus on

RIGHT

a goat. A popular type


of terracotta statuette, especially
in the fourth century and later,
is a god or goddess in association with

a possibly sacred animal.

The

connection of Dionysus with the goat


may be ancient. He sometimes wears
a goat skin himself and goats were
sacrificed to

him

in

some

rituals.

But his satyrs were always in Attica


regarded as horses not as goats,
and the explanation of tragedy as
'goat song' is not entirely satisfactory.
58

Whatever the connection, however,


it was enough for later artists,

who

developed the type of the


youthful Dionysus to the point of

Early fourth century seven-inch


found in a tomb at Locri in
the hand of a female skeleton.
statuette

tambourine originally belonged


and is not the result of a mend
seems to

If the

effeminacy, a charge already brought


against the god and his devotees

to

by Euripides in the Bacchae. But


Greeks did not underestimate the

have three arms) it may identify a


Maenad and have some religious

the

power of a deity who became more


and more associated with all ecstatic
states, and not only those induced
by the religious use of wine.
British

Museum.

it

in antiquity (since the figure

from the Mysteries. But


it might be a
ornament buried
with a young and perhaps unmarried
significance

the pose

is

not wild, and

doll or favourite

woman. Museo Nazionale, Reggio.

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS


Apollo and Artemis as helmeted
archers, the former with the animal
skin often worn by monster slayers,
drive off the giant Tityus from their
mother Leto whom he attempted to
rape. Tityus,

who

is

represented as a

man' with his body covered with


hair, has been shot in the eye. Hermes,
in winged boots, stands by, and for
'wild

decorative purposes the artist has given


the same boots to Apollo. The
is one of a group made
Athens in the early sixth century
for the Etruscan market to cater for the
taste there for vigorous and often
gory scenes from mythology. Louvre.

amphora
in

In Homer, however, Hephaestus

is

the regular son of Zeus and Hera, just

Athena

perhaps

as

was

the

regular

He was born lame, and a


told in the Iliad how Hera cast

daughter.
story

is

is Maia, a nymph, though


name 'mother' suggests a mothergoddess whose original young consort
Hermes might have been. He sometimes
appears as a god of the flocks of sheep,

the rainbow,

the messenger of the

mes' mother

Iris,

her

gods, as in other mythologies.

Argos, where he stands in

But

hymn
the

the

to

first

is

day

concerned only with

is

in the Ufe

of

this

precocious

who

him out of heaven and he was kept for


a great year (eight years) by Thetis. The

especially in

an intimate relation with the house of

'born at

story has slightly sinister overtones, not

Atreus, and in Arcadia where he was

lyre.

only of exposure of unwanted children

born.

At evening he

trickster

hexameter

century

sixth

Hermes

dawn

midday played the

at

stole the

oxen of

far-

shooting Apollo'.

con-

This association with the 'luck of the

cerned, of the primitive succession myth.

was as
one period extremely popular, one of

flocks' extended to all forms of luck,


and Hermes was the god of all forms of
magic and trickery, which the Greeks at
first admired rather than condemned.
Perhaps because these were the characteristics especially of travelling men, or

made during

simply by identification with some other

old he found a tortoise, the shell of

now unknown

which, he saw

but

It

also, as often

is

one version, Hephaeswas to be the god who overthrew

looks as

tus

where Thetis

if,

in

Zeus: indeed, in a myth attested only

on vase

paintings,

on which

the things that Hephaestus


his

it

absence was a magic throne with

which he took his revenge. For Hera


sat on it, and could not be released
until Dionysus made Hephaestus drunk
and persuaded him to return in triumph,
riding on a donkey, in order to set free
his

mother.

Hermes
The

last

Hermes:

of the Homeric Olympians


for

Dionysus

is

is

not mentioned

in either the Iliad or Odyssey, except for

few allusions, and is in any case


unique in having a mortal mother who

a very

comes

in the heroic genealogies. Her-

deity,

Hermes was

also

the spirit of the piles of stones with

which Greek travellers marked paths,


boundaries and holy places.
As a traveller and trickster, Hermes
loved to accompany men, and to escort
them. He used a magic rod to stupefy
men while he practiced magic and deception. He used it also on the special
escort duty which he carried out as
'Psychopompus',
Souls' to

the

'Conductor

the underworld.

When

of

Her-

mes became the general herald and


messenger of the gods the rod became
his

badge of

office.

He

has this role

already in the Odjssey; but in the Iliad,

Hermes was born


Cyllene

visited his

sleep held

in a cave

on Mount

where Zeus had


night 'when sweet

Arcadia,

in

mother at
white-armed Hera', but

his cradle at

noon

left

already determined to

seek the cattle of Apollo. At the thresh-

at once,

could be made

a lyre. So he
went back into the cave and made the
first lyre, on which he proceeded to sing

into the sounding

of his

The

own

box of

birth.

theft

of

the

cattle

was thus

sun went down, the


appropriate time: for Hermes had spent

postponed

until the

the afternoon planning sheer guile in


his heart, the sort

who

of things that

men

are deceivers practise in the season

of black night.

He

'cut out' (a

Greek

metaphor as well) fifty of Apollo's cows


from Pieria, where the gods' cattle were
stalled every night, and drove them
backwards over the sand to Triphyhan

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS


Pylos in the neighbourhood of Olympia

where
have been

Pan

in the north-western Peloponnese,

the

may

story

located.

He

originally

himself improvised a kind

of snow-shoe out of twigs, further to

confuse his tracks or perhaps originally


to

make walking

on

easier

soft sand.

Hermes, lying closely swaddled


on a kind of wheeled couch, denies to
Apollo, in the presence of his mother
Maia and his father Zeus (who
make up a very human family group),

some cattle.
shown hidden in

that he has stolen

The
the

cattle are

mouth of which

is

a cave,

covered by

an olive tree up which a hare has


succeeded in running. The vase
seems directly inspired by the sixth
century Hymn to Hermes. Louvre.

doubt that myths of


reflect the changing

different periods

status of cults.

clothes in the cradle.

nians neglected him.

thus able to claim,

when

to Sparta to ask for help.

he met Pan,

is

in a

Hymn

truth of the oath,

literal

ceive himself
cal

by

false inferences, is typi-

of an early state of society, and was

much admired by

the

early

Greeks.

Zeus however reconciled the two gods:


Hermes returned the cattle and gave

and promised neither to


bow (as in some versions he

Apollo the
steal his

lyre

who

On

why

asked

the

related to 'pasture'),

is

described

son of Hermes by the

as

bride of the Arcadian Dryops, and as


'goatfooted, two-horned, noisy, laugh-

which suggests that Hermes had


assumed the form not of a mortal but
of a goat. Pan seems in fact to be a more
primitive form of that Arcadian god of
the flocks who also evolved into Hermes. His form resembles that of the
goat-satyrs who attended Dionysus and
formed the chorus of the comic play

ing',

that followed the three tragedies of an


Athenian trilogy (the word 'tragedy' has
been explained as 'goat song' - with

some

plausibility).

like

the

common on
animal

But these goat-satyrs,

horse-satyrs

feet,

vases, have

who are more


human and not

perhaps because they are

firmly derived

from dancers impersonat-

had done already) nor to usurp his position as oracular mouthpiece of Zeus. In
return Apollo sent Hermes to his own

ing animals.

elementary teachers of divination:

satyrs are always associated with

'For there are

born

some Holy women,

sisters,

unmarried, rejoicing in swift wings,

on

three:

their heads they are sprin-

kled with white,

and they dwell

in their houses

under

a herd

while

in

Elizabethan

madrigals

nymphs,

Maenads, the wild


Bacchantes, followers of Dionysus over
the hills taming snakes and tearing wild
animals in their frenzy. Many Greek
vases show Maenads fleeing from satyrs,
their

proper prey

repelling

is

them with

the thyrsus (a large

of prophecy which as

less

commonly, yielding

to them.

boy

still

a child

The hymn

to

practised.

Hermes has indeed

been interpreted sociologically as recording a reconciliation between the old


established cult of Apollo,
in

Though

pine cone set upon a stick of fennel) or,

the fold of Parnassus


far off teachers

way

the Athe-

Pan, the 'Feeder' (of the flocks: the

was not himself responsible,


nor had he seen anybody else. Unsatisfied, Apollo haled him off to Olympus
and accused him before Zeus, who of
course knew the truth. But Hermes
swore, quite correctly, that he had not
driven the cows home, nor had he set foot
on the threshold (which he had been at

while encouraging an opponent to de-

historically attested in a

is

nians despatched the runner Philippides

word

cern for the

The

famous story which incidentally shows


the reahty of Greek faith in their myths.
Before the battle of Marathon the Athe-

Apollo taxed him with the theft next

pains to avoid treading on). This con-

no
do

introduction of the cult of Pan at Athens,


for example,

day, that he

infant

that particular analysis

valid in this case, there can be

There he sacrificed two oxen, making


fire by means of fire-sticks (perhaps another local story of the origin of fire), and
hid away the rest. Then he went back
to Cyllene and entered the cave through
the keyhole in the form of a mist, and
wrapped himself up again in swaddling

He was

The

Whether or not
is

which grew

importance with the increasing power

Nymphs
Pan on the other hand is associated with
the nymphs, with whom he often shares
a dedication, especially of a cave.

nymphs seem

These

to be local manifestations

whom

of the Delphic oracle, and the newer cult

of the early goddesses some of

of Hermes, which appealed to a lower

were upgraded into Olympians including


Hera and Athena. Like Artemis, whom

social class in sixth century Athens.

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS


Statuette of Hermes. Pious Greeks
dedicated small bronze statues up to
a foot high in their shrines in gratitude
for favours received or in hopes
of those to come. Sometimes the male
or female figures may represent the

donor: sometimes they are clearly


the god. The winged boots and the
traveller's hat and staff, now lost,
identify Hermes. He is shown in the
archaic style of the end of the sixth
century (though the statuette may
be later) as a bearded man. The ram
also identifies him as god of the herds,
perhaps the characteristic by which
he won the gratitude of the Spartan
dedicator. Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, Pierce Fund.

THE FAMILY OF THE GODS

symbolism of south
Italian terracotta plaques and figures is
very mysterious, and this early fifth
century plaque from Locri (about 470-

The

religious

460 Bc)

still

explanation.
certainly

awaits authoritative
The figure on the right

Hermes,

travelling hat,

in

bears a bird, possibly a

is

sy,

dove or

a hen,

that the plaque

The

is

in

some way

identified as Aphrodite, or at

because brides

just

The

not clear.

inspired Pythia

Delphi, the various Sibyls, and even


all

which they

to the natural objects with

was famous in antiquity for its wine


and oil. Both the vine and the olive
flourish in poor soil and are
spoiled by too much rain.
prosperity seems to
have enabled the inhabitants to strike

and
was used as an

early coinage,

running figure

emblem

at the

century.

It is

long

is

men grow

old, the deer

is

four

raven grows old,

we
nymphs with
In

mean

this

passage the generation

a period of a

hundred

may

years, the

Even in this long life most nymphs


were happy in having no mythological
history. But Charon of Lampsacus, a
fifth century mythographer and histo-

type can just possibly be explained

rian, told a story

its

defeat.

The spring Arethusa was

seen as a nymph who fled from


the river Alpheus at Olympia in
the Peloponnese. Alpheus pursued
her under the sea and their waters
mingled in a freshwater spring.
British

Museum.

could not recall even


her favours.

granted Rhoe-

of prophecy,

which she

when he spurned

So she blinded him

in

The Greek cosmogony with which


least in the literary

much

of a deliberate piece of

its

and some

sources can be pointed to with

some degree of certainty. The process of


myth making is always the same: the
spirit in which it is done, however, va-

The author of the Theogony claimed a


high moral purpose in his language, he
was inspired by the Muses. He told his
:

fine plaits,

Latin saeculum, the time of the longest

myths seriously and they can be shown


have satisfied deep psychological
needs in himself and in his hearers. Charon of Lampsacus seems to be more of
an entertainer, telling the sort of marto

and romantic story that his auHe may, Uke his


younger contemporary Herodotus, have
vellous

dience liked to hear.

thousand years.

perhaps in the course

of his Persian history


and

nymph

ries greatly.

and ten phoenixes

drachma pieces were issued which seem


to show Athena surrounded by the
dolphins normal on Syracusan coins.
The signature of the artist,
Euaenetus, is on the helmet. The

to signify the threat

gift

that of Cassandra

like

of

lives nine ravens:

showing the Syracusan

cus the

how

crow

human life, which would make the life


of a nymph very nearly a hundred

nymph helmeted

something

in reverse,

story telling as that of Charon,

and writers of Greece and


coinage was always superb. After
the defeat of the Athenian expedition
to Syracuse in 412 bc, some four

type,

inal

'Nine generations lives the chattering

but the phoenix

normal Arethusa

is,

least as

how

daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus'.

as a variant of the

it

suggests a literary treatment of an orig-

'counting rhyme' form:

after three deers the

its

Charon's story, attractive though

told in a Hesiodic fragment of traditional

very long lived;

crows,

artists

not recorded in

was concerned is, at


form which alone
survives and which was quoted there, at

as

to attract the best

is

are told to account for his blindness.

the previous section

Museum.

it

Dryad
him

That was what happened to Tiresias,


nymph's son, though different stories

of them are immortal, only, like the

beginning of the fifth


probably a wind bearing
garlands, perhaps Boreas the
North-East wind which gaVe an easy
run into the Thessalian gulf.
Boreas was important for trade, but
could also wreck ships on the
treacherous lee shore of Euboea.

always enabled

revenge.

this

BOTTOM RIGHT
The wealth and power of Syracuse

offended

the

Naiads with fresh water and Nereids,


daughters of Nereus, with the sea. None
Sibyls,

The consequent
good

trees, especially oaks,

with those of other


off the coast

north of Euboea

whereat

rudely;

blinded him. Whether she also gave


the fragment.

is

to visit her (there

between bees and nymphs


already in the Odyssey, and some prophetic priestesses were called 'bees'). But
when it came, Rhoecus was in the middle
of a game of draughts and spoke to it

the gift of prophecy

filled with some kind of


power or because nymphs were

BOTTOM LEFT
The island of Peparethus

him when

tell

divine

regarded as in some sense 'brides of the


god'. Nymphs were classified according

Nazionale,

to

a connection

were held to be

were associated Oreads with the mountains, Meliae with ash groves, Dryads

of Thessaly

British

called brides 'nymphs',

such unfortunates as Cassandra, were

Taranto.

a very

The Greeks

at

been
any rate

the south Italian goddess of fertility


and death who has some of her

Museo

also be prophetic inspir-

but whether this was

seized,

central figure has

characteristics.

which may

ation.

come
is

supposed to be the brides of those they

and the other holds an ointment jar.


Since Psyche is the soul, it seems
funerary.

promised him, and said that a bee should

as a severe

bearded figure surely as the Escorter of


Souls. The little chariot which he enters
is drawn by young male and female
figures, both perhaps winged, who have
been identified as Eros and Psyche. One

liltely

course) asked for her favours, which she

and like her and Pan,


they are dangerous to encounter. Pan
causes irrational wild fear in the noonday
silence of a deserted mountain side: the
nymphs can cause madness, nympholeptures of the wild,

winged boots and

shown

they continued to attend, they are crea-

cus of Cnidos, being for

certain

Rhoe-

some reason

possessed a firm faith in 'the divine'

but

which
got for 'the mythological' the bad reputation that led Thucydides to expel it
explicitly from his scientific history. A
he

is

great

not committed to his

many myths,

stories,

unfortunately, sur-

in

vive only in versions which have been

for saving her

embellishment which began as early as


the fifth century, even though it is
especially typical of learned Alexandrian

Nineveh, saw an oak in danger of


faUing and bade his slaves prop it up.
Its Dryad appeared to him, thanked him
life

(which in

this story

bound up with her tree), and offered


him anything he liked to ask. He (of

is

subjected

poetry.

to

this

kind

of

romantic

s^^

*-*<.^^j

fe
f*-*-

iARLY MAN

The Tholos

at

Delphi.

On

There does not seem to have been any

the

left-hand side of the road approaching


Delphi from the east, just inside
the

town

wall,

was the sanctuary of

Athena before the temple,

that

is,

temple of Apollo. It
had been a shrine of the mothergoddess in the Mycenaean period.
A temple of Athena was built in place
of it (on the extreme left of
the picture) in 600 BC, and replaced

in front of the

in 500 BC.

after excavation.

west end of the

On

in 1905

the safer

site a circular

building,

which the Greeks called a Tholos,


was built in the fourth century
by an architect named Theodorus. He
applied the conventions
of temple building to a shape which
had been used for domestic buildings
first

and was
where
men met together to deliberate and
to eat. The round table solved
problems of precedence and unified
the gathering. There was an

from the

man

in

Greek mythology. There is a late tradition that Prometheus made man out of
clay, into which Athena breathed life and
spirit, and this is rather doubtfully attributed to Hesiod. The earlier Greeks
seem simply to have supposed that men,
and animals, arose spontane-

like plants

ously from the earth. Such 'earth-born'

The surviving columns

were destroyed by a landslide

canonical story of the creation of

earliest period,

men

are

to

said

dynasties -

all

have founded many

those in fact of which

the heroic genealogy did not start with

god, and even when it did the mortal


mother sometimes belongs to such an
a

such building
perhaps on the same
three

at

These

columns were reconstructed

excavation for decorative

effect.

Men

found
after

himself,

common

is

really part

combined

He

of his

which he
with

the

observation of the elderly that

sons are not half the

were.

men

their fathers

imagines a steady degeneration

in terms of the four metals in

use, gold, silver,

common

bronze and iron. This

scheme was at first purely symbolic:


Hesiod knew himself to be living in the
age of Iron because mens' hearts were
hard as iron. He knew too that he was
living in a guilt culture: for in this age,

he

says,

shame

morality in a

culture.

As

authority of the peer group breaks


in

changing

no moral
strong

the

down

social conditions, there are

restraints

until

'internalised'

the
as

on the actions of the

Super-ego has been


conscience, the moral

sanction of a guilt culture.

But Hesiod was also living in an age


and
weapons, but which knew itself to have
succeeded an age in which bronze was
used at least for the latter. The bronze
that habitually used iron for tools

may appear

tion of the

But Hesiod systematised these races of


men in a moral fable. His story of the
Five Ages of

group, are the forces preserving

this

this

The Five Ages

reaction to the hard times in

Delphi,

site.

Nemesis, the righteous indignation of

men, however, were already degenerate,


and notorious for their violence. Though

'earth-born' family.

especially favoured for places

earlier

the disapproval of his peer group, and

Aidos and Nemesis

Aidos, the shame that a

man

left earth.

feels before

do

a fair, if harsh, descrip-

Homeric heroes,

for Hesiod, for

it

whom

would not

these were

and better than his contempoSo he interrupted his scheme of


generations, and interposed them as a
fourth race between the bronze and the
juster

raries.

iron.

The first race, then, that the immortals


made was of gold. They were in the
time of Cronus, and they lived like gods,
without labour and pain. They did not

from old age, but died as if


and the earth bore fruit for
them of her own accord in ungrudging
suffer

falling asleep,

quantity.
this

race

under the

Now
they

that the earth has hidden

are

spirits,

good ones

earth, guardians of mortal

and givers of wealth.

men

fe
4
tn

^^,
V:

EARLY MAN

tempting for those who know the


golden hoards of the Mycenean
1600 B.C.
shaft graves (from about
It is

rich

memory

onwards) to see here some

this period, especially since at least

of

one

they eat corn, but their stout minds were

How,

of adamant, and strong and violent they

the Theogony.

slew one another and went

down

Formerly

to

mouldy hall of dank Hades, nameless. They were then the object of no

the

as such, he cheated

Zeus

men and gods

is

told in

ate together

(and specially favoured mortals such as


Tantalus continued to be admitted to the

golden age, Virgil's 'reign of Saturn',


who was identified with Cronus, may

roic

heroes were meat eaters, as befits a cattle

when they were


Prometheus slaughtered a
great ox, and divided it into two heaps.
In one he put the meat and the offal

be explained largely as a compensation


fantasy for the hard times of the present

breeding aristocracy Homeric banquets

inside the hide, covering

period.

drink'. Classical

of the tombs was fitted with a funnel for


cult libations.

The second

But the

race

belief in a past

was of

They

silver.

worse than the golden race,


them in form and mind.
None the less they were long lived: a
child was suckled for a hundred years.
were

far

quite unlike

But when they were fully grown their


life was short: for in wanton violence
they could not keep their hands off
each other, and refused to worship the
gods or do them

them

sacrifice.

in his wrath.

None

So Zeus hid

too are called 'blessed ones under the

continuous honours.

likely that in

great shift that took place between he-

and

classical

Greece.

The Homeric

are

of 'meats in profusion and sweet

staple

Greeks

ate

bread as a

with olives, cheese, pickled

garlic to make it go down.


Homeric heroes themselves

fish

and

for

Hesiod the intrusive fourth race of men,


who died in war, some at Thebes fighting for the sheep of Oedipus, and some
at Troy. At their death they went to the
Isles of the Blest, the golden age all

now

over again but

located far off in

space and not in time.

but they
It

seems

both these cases there

is

'Never', then cries Hesiod, 'ought


to have been

among

the

fifth

men

but either die before or be born

after-

wards,

separated,

stomach and

the race of iron,

when

it

with

intestines, so that it

the

looked

But he made a

a nasty small heap.

pile

of the bones and covered them with the


a great big heap.

Zeus complained

two heaps were not the same size,


so Prometheus generously let him choose
which he would have. Deceived, Zeus
the

chose the larger.


burnt on the

From

that time

men

of the gods the fat

altars

and the bones, and the

rest

they kept

for themselves.

Hesiod of course claims that Zeus


was not really deceived, and that his
wrath was excited by the intention to
deceive. This sophistication shows that
the story
is

now

of the gods). But

feasts

fat,

are

the less they

earth', second-class it is true,

receive

but their eating habits reflect the

cult:

is

older than Hesiod: but he

right in seeing that the story explains

the sacrificial ritual of his day. It

an

reference to the earth burials of these

for

Greek cultures in Homer and in


Hesiod cremation was the rule, and the
dead are witless and twittering ghosts
and never the objects of cult, which was

never by day

aetiological myth.

toil and woe, nor


by night from being worn'.

the fat and the bones were burnt was

earlier

is

they cease from

The

real reason

is

why

family and has led to the departure of

was originally a sacred meal


which men either ate the god in the
form of his sacred animal, or shared a
meal with the god who was believed to
be present. They consumed or used all

provided their spears but their houses,

Shame and

the useful parts of the animal: the rest

arms and tools were bronze. Nor did

told a different

The
in fact

third race of bronze

made out of

at

But

reserved for these buried heroes.

his chief

concern

is

not for cares and

men were

labour, but for the injustice that divides

which

the ash stems

Indignation. Earlier he had

myth

to account not for

the injustice of the world but for


evils.

Heracles bringing Cerberus to


Eurystheus. This fine example of the
highly coloured and slightly comic
painting of the Ionian emigrant
who decorated vases at Caere was
discovered unbroken, presumably in
the tomb in which it was buried with
its owner. The artist has chosen to

show Eurystheus cowering

Chief

among

these, for Hesiod,

its
is

Athena. All three heads are shown


by this literal minded painter, each
distinguished by colour. Nine snakes
grow from him, to indicate his infernal
origin, three for each head.
One snake survives in later two-headed
representations. Louvre.

was burnt because it was holy. When


the gods were conceived of as living
up in heaven, they were believed to take
pleasure in the sweet savour of a burnt

work.

offering,

and indeed

The holocaust was

Prometheus

the

to live off the

smoke.

introduced, at which

whole victim was burnt for the god,


it became necessary to explain why,
the regular sacrifice, the gods were

Zeus limited the fruitfulness of the earth,


angry because he had been cheated by
the Titan Prometheus, son of lapetus

and

and brother of Atlas. Like Atlas he is


eventually punished by being shackled
to a mountain in the Caucasus while his
liver is gnawed by an eagle. He is

of the Trickster was invoked, and the

in a

monster
Heracles has brought back. This motif
is more usually combined with the
exploit of the Erymanthian boar.
Cerberus is more often shown being
enticed by Heracles with the help of

large pot before the latest

that sacrifice

thus one of the giants

writhings

cause

whose tortured

earthquakes.

But the

Greeks very early took his name to


mean 'Forethought' and gave him a
brother 'Afterthought', Epimetheus, and
in many respects he behaves like the first
man. Clever, with his brother FooUsh.

in

given the worse part. The folk


deceit takes

story of

way

it

its

how

tale

motif

compUcated
came to be the

place in the

the world

is.

For in

retaliation

Zeus either hid

fire

away or witheld it from the ash trees


from which men extract it by fire sticks,
which they rub together until the hidden
revealed.

fire is

good

But Prometheus, like a


it from heaven

culture hero, stole

where

it

can be seen in sun and

stars.

and from which

He

carried

it

it

descends in lightning.

away, as

men

did, in the

hollow stem of a dried fennel, stopped


up with clay at either end so that the
pith should not smoulder away too

to look after your

sons, divide your inheritance

when you

are dead.

Hesiod, in the Works and Days, says

woman was named Pandora,


and Epimetheus accepted her although
Prometheus had warned him to accept
no gifts from Zeus.
The name Pandora, which Hesiod explains by the gifts with which she was
endowed, shows that the story is based
upon religious ritual. For Pandora is the
Giver of All, that is, the Earth goddess,
and a vase painting, as so often, preserves
a different and perhaps a more primitive
form of the myth. It shows Epimetheus,
armed with a hammer or possibly a double axe, releasing from some kind of
underground chamber a Pandora who is
rising from the earth. This motif, which
that the

quickly.

Pandora
But Zeus still had a trick in hand. He
had Hephaestus make a clay figure like
a maiden, equipped with all kinds of
monstrous guile, and Athena dressed
her, and Zeus gave her to foolish
Epimetheus, who accepted her. For the
poet of the Theogony, in the tradition of

Greek misogyny, there


than the race of

is

no greater

women, who

evil

are like

drones in the hive, consuming a man's

you cannot cheat Zeus:


one thing worse than a wife,
and that is not having one. For then
substance. But

for there

you have no children

old age, and your relatives, and not your

is

suggests the return of Persephone, recurs

among other places, the Peace, of


Aristophanes, where the hero Trygaeus,
in,

the

man

of the Vintage, releases Peace

from the subterranean chamber in which


War has imprisoned her, and thereby
regains his youth.

This suggests that Pandora was once


a

blessing rather than an evil,

return released

men from

whose

the starvation

which they were reduced. Indeed


Hesiod goes on to tell the well known
story by which Pandora was not herself
to

the evil, but simply the cause


evils

came upon the

earth,

by which
admittedly

through

her feminine curiosity. For


Epimetheus had, or Pandora brought

with her, a great storage

jar,

like those

which were all the


evils that might attack man. Presumably
Zeus, benevolent in this version, had
bottled them up and men were still
living in the Golden Age. But Woman
found

in Cnossus, in

LEFT

vase in the severe classical style

of about 450 BC depicting a ritual


version of the myth of Pandora. She
rises from the earth to be the bride of
Epimetheus, as a Love hovers over
her. Epimetheus' hammer is not
a smith's hammer but the type that
might be used to break open a prison
or to break clods of earth. Hermes,
as a young man with all his attributes
including the winged hat, brings a
flower from Zeus, perhaps to symbolise
the charms of Pandora, but
appropriate too if she is the returning
spring. It is hardly a charm, as was
the flower moly which Hermes gave to

Odysseus to protect him from the wiles


of Circe. Ashmolean Museum.

RIGHT
The little temple of Athena Nike
('Victory') stands on the site of an old
Mycenaean bastion which covered
the entrance to the Acropolis and
enabled the defenders to throw
at the unprotected right side of the
attackers. It was an appropriate
site for such a shrine, and as
early as 449 BC there were plans to
build a temple to commemorate
the role of the goddess in the
victories of the Persian War.
But they interfered with Pericles'
designs for the Propylaea and were
not carried out until 421, with the
Erechtheum and in the same Ionic
style. It is in fact the most
prominent building on the restored
Acropolis. It looks west over the
Areopagus and Pnyx, the two assembly
hills of Athens.

EARLY MAN
took out the bung,

just as the

compa-

nions of Odysseus undid the goat-skin


which held all the contrary winds, and

out they
lip

the

all

of the

woman

But Hope clung to the


and did not get out, for

got.

jar

put back the bung before

The flood is variously


Some ingeniously connected

Deucalion

The mythical chronology of


ries

of the creation of

certain
clearly

man

is

these stoquite un-

and inconsistent. For Pandora is


supposed to be the first woman,

regarded as a blessing by the Greeks for

and yet men already existed in the reign


of Cronus. But at this stage they join

while desire pushes them from behind,

on

Hope was

she could get out.

not always
:

it

them on from in front to commit


of folly. But the point of view may

leads

acts

have shifted rapidly, as

is

possible in

myths, and the traditional explanation


may be right, that Hope has stayed with

men and

alone reconciles

them

evil plight. Diseases originally

and

gave

audible

approach, so that

warning

men could

to their

had voices
of

their

avoid them.

But now Zeus, angry for some reason


with men, has taken away their voices,
and they can attack men without warning
by day and night.

to

the

heroic

genealogies

of the

fate

tice',

who begged

to drive the chariot of

his father the sun, but, failing to control


it,

plunged to

his death: his

In the course of his erratic career

Baltic.

Phaethon came too near the

throwing over their shoulders the bones


of their mother, that is, the stones of
the earth, which became men and women
according to whether Deucalion or

the pretext of putting out the

sembles that for people

(/aas

and

re-

/aos).

mourning

were turned into poplars dripping


amber tears into the Po, the southern end
of the over-land amber route from the
sisters

and Pandora is said to be Pyrrha, who


was the wife of Deucalion, 'the Greek
Noah' who alone survived the flood
with which Zeus destroyed the men of
Bronze. They re-peopled the earth by

etymology, since the Greek word

with the

of Phaethon, the 'sorcerer's appren-

Greeks. For the daughter of Epimetheus

Pyrrha threw them. The stones are folk

motivated.
it

earth,

and

besides, presumably, turning the negroes

black, he set

it

on

fire.

This gave Zeus

the excuse to destroy the Bronze

men

by deluging the earth with rain under


fire

started

by Phaethon.

Lycaon
Others said that the flood was occasioned by the impiety of Lycaon, king

of

Arcadia,

Pelasgia

which was

after

then

Lycaon's

earthborn Pelasgus. 'The

called

father,

men

the

of those

days', Pausanias says, 'were guests

and

shared the same table with the gods for

and they openly

their justice

and

met

gods' hands with honour,

piety,

him. Then he overwhelmed the earth

lucky enough to hand over the post to a

with

successor.

rain.

This

another

is

aetiological

myth,

gruesome ceremonies
which survived on Mount Lycaeus ap-

explaining

the

parently to the time of Pausanias,

who

The

was in fact a rain-maker:


was a spring on Mount Lycaeus which flowed in summer as well
priest

for there

as

winter (which

is

When

not true of all springs


there

was

a drought,

says that they sacrificed there in secret to

in Greece).

good, and those who


had done wrong similarly with wrath'.
But then Zeus visited the Arcadians in
the guise of a work-man, and wanting

Lycaean Zeus, but

the priest agitated the surface of this

whether it really was Zeus, either


Lycaon or his fifty sons mixed with the

since

at the

those

who were

to test

flesh

of the sacrifice the entrails of a baby.

'officiously to

was not to my
and has been fron

the rites of the sacrifice


taste

be as

let it

it is

the beginning'. It

then,

one

was believed

man

at

form for nine years or for ever


were-wolf was probably the

place

named

after

it

Trapezus,

and blasted with thunderbolts the sons


of Lycaon, all but the youngest, Nyctimus, who was saved when Earth caught
hold of Zeus' right hand and appeased

sacrifice

at the sacrifice the

during

portion that had in

the baby's entrails, -and he

become

if

human flesh. The


man who ate

that period he tasted

Lycaon into
at the

the

that ever

turned into a wolf, and remained in that

This so angered Zeus that he turned


a wolf, overturned the table

pry into

it

may have

the wolf-priest of Zeus until

when, unless the


distribution was fixed, he might be

the

next

sacrifice,

spring with an oak branch, whereupon


a mist arose,

which

which turned into a cloud,


and brought rain

attracted others

to Arcadia. It
fore, that

is

not surprising, there-

Lycaon's

sacrifice

produced

flood.

The poor and

inhospitable hills of

Arcadia were always the most primitive


part of Greece. There are
tive survivals in the

many

myth and

primi-

the cere-

mony, which may have started as the


regular sacrifice and ritual cannibalism
of a sacred king impersonating the god:

EARLY MAN

later

sacrifice.

years, another great year) before landing

of rain magic in the story of the flood.


Flood myths are not, however, confined

by Lycaon

him
is

(as the

sometimes said

to have been his son), uhimately to

be

succeeded by the youngest son of his


mother. Eventually the sacral kingship

was down-graded to a priesthood, and


an unwanted baby substituted for the
sacrifice. There are many traces of this
type of ritual in other Greek myths,

which

will be

noted in their place.

The flood
Deucalion,

however, lived

in

Phthia,

was and which has some claims to be


the original home of many Greek traditions.

When

the rains came, Deucalion

was advised by

the
hills

is

Prometheus to
which he floated for

his father

build a chest in

Mycenae

one of the two great Bronze


Argos. Though
overlooked by two taller

fortified sites in
site is

the top of Mount Parnassus

which was
submerged and to
which the inhabitants of Lycoreia, 'Wolf

on

apparently

never

Mountain', claimed to have been led to


safety

by

the

these were out of range of

Two royal grave


have been discovered. The
one shown, surrounded by a continuous
roofed passage-way of thin upright

ancient weapons.
circles

blocks, contains the famous Shaft

Graves which, when opened by


Schliemann, were full of gold.

RIGHT

The temple of Hephaestus

at

Athens

popularly called the Theseum.


It owes this name to the four metopes,
two on each side at the east end,
which depicted exploits of Theseus,
is still

early assumption that the


Athenians would have commemorated
their great founder. But temples
were built only to gods, and in fact
the ten metopes of the east end
showed ten labours of Heracles. The
temple overlooked the market place,
from which it was designed to be seen

and to an

and from where this


photograph was taken. It stood
by the quarter of the smiths and
bronzeworkers, whose patrons
were Hephaestus and Athena. Built
about 449 bc, it is the oldest

at its best

temple built entirely of marble.

howling

of

(sacred?)

and though they may also be


memories of real local inundations, such
as the famous one that buried Ur under

to Greece,

twelve feet of

silt,

may

they

wolves. Similarly the Megarians claimed

reflect the infantile fantasies

their founder Megarus, son of


Zeus and a local Sithnid water-nymph,
had been led to the summit of the nearest
mountain by the cry of cranes. Others
brought the chest to rest on a mountain

learning bladder control,

that

in Thessaly,

Thessaly, where the original Hellas

Age

relics

nine days and nights (perhaps originally

baby

sacrificed

in

There seem to be some

he invested his son with the sover-

eignty and sacrificed

perhaps the original

site,

on Mount Athos, or even on Mount


Etna in Sicily. But the fame of Delphi
and Parnassus naturally made it the
canonical

site.

The motif of escape in a floating chest


recurs in the myth of Perseus and Danae,
and might reflect a ritual way of avoiding

equally

of the child

who

fears that

he may drown the world in an uncontrollable flood, and his relief when he
realises that the

world has been deliv-

ered from this awful

fate.

myth can be explained

As

always, the

in different terms

at different levels.

The descent of Athamas, the son of


Aeolus, the son of Hellen, the son of
Deucalion and Pyrrha, shows how these
timeless creation myths join on to the
heroic genealogies of the Greeks, which

must be

dealt with next.

THE CHILDREN OF

Genealogical interest

many

typical of very

is

primitive societies, and important

questions of status, precedence and propownership may depend upon the

erty

The

accurate establishment of descent.

Maori

chiefs of the

century

could

end of the nineteenth

recite

pedigrees,

their

apparently quite accurately, right back


to the Polynesian invasion of New Zea-

been made to
establish a genealogical chronology of
the pre-Dorian period by using the
land.

Attempts

have

There were then kings or nobles in


neighbourhood of Troy who claimed
descent from Aeneas, and for this reason
(they were perhaps potential patrons of
epic poetry) Aeneas had to survive the
fighting at Troy and its fall. It was his
the

which made him such

survival

a con-

number of doubton the way to Italy,

venient ancestor for a

Greek cities
where he was already known in the
fifth century, and ultimately for the
fully

Romans when

they wished, perhaps after

who

could claim de-

Homeric pedigrees.

defeating Pyrrhus,

But these pedigrees were not only


preserved in the metrical formulae of

scent

ABOVE
Hermes and Argus. The painting
shows a naked Hermes, identified
only as a traveller with hat on his baclc,
attacking with a sword a naked
unarmed Argus, who has only one

hexameter poetry they were also continued into the historic period. For many
royal and noble families in Greece and

heroic ancestor.

Asia Minor traced their descent from

process was carried out for the heroes in


the sixth and fifth centuries, when the

over his body. To the


right the bull can only be Zeus,
unless it simply represents Argus'
characteristic of cowherd. Museum

Trojan

social prerogatives of aristocratic birth

battle

were being challenged. These logogra-

face but eyes all

fiir

Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.

Homeric heroes on both the Greek and


side. Aeneas is twice rescued in
by the gods, once by Aphrodite
from Diomede and once from Achilles
by Poseidon. In the first case Aphrodite

an image of him to be fought


over, which suggests that he may have
been killed in the original tradition. But
substitutes

Europa and the bull. The city of Selinus


was finally sacked in 409 BC

second Poseidon gives an

explicit

from

standing

among

into people,

invent their

sons.

Now

the might of Aeneas shall lord

over

the

Trojans,

children's children,

him'.

and

who

it

so

shall

his

shall

come

after

similar

respect-

genealogy by turning places and tribes

loved him above

other

them from the surviving and

lish

his

able historians Herodotus and Thucydides, started the practice of filling out a

motive for his intervention, 'that the


race of Dardanus might not perish to
destruction without seed: for Cronides
all

with

phers, as they are called to distinguish

by the Carthaginians, in support


of Segesta, another Sicilian settlement.
destroying an old mid-sixth century
limestone temple to provide stone.
A metope, which was recovered almost
undamaged, shows Zeus, in the form
of a bull, carrying off Europa to Crete
over a sea symbolised by dolphins.
Museo Nazionale, Palermo.

Greeks

of Boeotian poetry.

in the

hastily repaired the fortifications,

the

Systematised catalogues were characteristic

in Sicily

They

Achilles, to establish their

and did

their best to estab-

consistent relation between dif-

ferent mythological figures.

and dramatists
are, for

still

own

felt

But the poets

quite

traditions,

free

to

and there

example, several quite different

accounts of the fate of

Haemon and An-

tigone.

The Alexandrian

scholars continued

THE CHILDREN OF

10

the

work of

systematisation,

and on the

basis of their efforts Eratosthenes calcu-

lated the date of the Sack of

equivalent of
scholarship

1 1

84

lies

b. c.

Troy

as the

This Alexandrian

behind

the

extensive

genealogies in ApoUodorus. But com-

was never obtained:


and contradictions abounded,
and loose ends were left. That is why
the emperor Tiberius could quite seriously ask his scholarly friends, the Greek
'grammarians' 'Who was Hecuba's mother?' and 'What song the Sirens sang,
or what name Achilles assumed when
he hid himself among the women?'.
Some genealogies went very far back
plete consistency

variants

and are linked with the two great centres


of Mycenaean Greece, Boeotian Thebes
and Argive Mycenae. Both Cadmus,

founder of Thebes, and Danaus,

who

became ruler of Argos (the foundation


of Mycenae was reserved for a descendant, Perseus), are represented as immigrants from Phoenicia and Egypt respectively. But both are provided with
respectable Greek antecedents through
their great common ancestress lo, and
Danaus is certainly the eponym of the
Danaans,
another

and

also

tribe

name

who

have provided

for the Greeks in the Iliad

seem to have been known to

the Egyptians.

lo
lo was priestess at the Heraeum, the
famous and ancient shrine of Hera at

Argos, being the daughter of the local

THE CHILDREN OF
river Inachus

(though she was also proartificial genealogy

vided with a long

which gave eponyms and

many

a history to

of the places in the whole Pelo-

ponnese). Zeus loved her, and she was

turned into a heifer, either by Zeus, to

Head of

Terracotta antefixes
Italian temples had a
religious purpose as well as the practical
one of concealing the ends of the tiles
lo.

Greek and

and protecting the wooden

roofs.

They

also

protected the building spiritually,


either by depicting a deity, such as
the Dioscuri, or by frightening off evil
spirits

with a gorgon mask, a

favourite early subject. In the fourth

century the heads of other mythological


characters were used. The head of lo
from Tarentum preserves traces of the
type from which it is derived in the

round

face, the curly hair

horns. Metropolitan

Rogers Fund, 1910.

and the

Museum

of Art,

frequently appear and disap-

pear in this form, and there was a legend

Zeus himself seduced Hera first in


form of a cuckoo, as he did Leda in
the form of a swan.

that

the

This then explains the appearance of

form of

Hermes

conceal her from Hera after he had lain

Zeus

in the

with her in the form of a cloud or had


covered the place with a cloud to hide

made

to kill Argus, rather than exercise

marriage of Sky-father and

a bird.

is

his traditional craftiness, to explain his

which may

title

Argeiphontes,

Earth-mother, or by Hera, to keep her

mean

'slayer

from Zeus, who therefore assumed the


form of a bull.
At some stage lo was tethered to an
olive tree in the grove of the Mycenaeans and guarded by the All-seeing
Argus, who himself wore a bull's hide
and had eyes all over his body, and (in
some versions) two faces. Zeus, in the
form of a hawk or a woodpecker, guided
Hermes to the spot. Hermes charmed
Argus, with the music of the pipe though
perhaps originally with his magic rod,
and stole lo away from Argus, whom he
slew with the cast of a stone. Then Hera

essarily originally of this

sent a gadfly

which drove lo by a cirEgypt she


bore her son and called him Epaphus,
either because by a touch (which is what
the word means) Zeus restored her to
her real shape, or because she had con-

Poseidon;

cuitous route to Egypt. In

Phoenicia and Belus (Ba'al) married a

this sacred

in

Homer

in

10

ceived simply at a touch.

Almost

all

amours of Zeus

the

ritual as well as
difficult to see

genealogy and

how

the

reflect

it is

not

myth of lo could

be explained in terms of the

ritual

of the

Argive Heraeum. There are clear traces in


myth of a bull cult of Zeus, who assumed
that

form to abduct Europa, and of


Hera herself,

the identification of lo with

who

retains in

Homer

the traditional

really

of Argus', though not nec-

Argus.

The Egyptian connection has sometimes been taken seriously, and

it is

true

Greek contacts with


Egypt seem to be implied by the Hovery

that

early

meric references to Egyptian Thebes,

which ceased to be the


in about 1400 b. c.

some

capital of

Egypt

More probably

at

stage the Greeks were impressed

by the Egyptian bull cult of Apis, and


the cow goddess Isis, with whom they
identified lo. Her son Epaphus provided
ancestors for
tions.

many of

the eastern na-

His daughter Libya bore twins to


of these

Agenor went

to

daughter of the Nile and also begot


twins, Egyptus and Danaus.

Human

twins have always excited suand in some parts of England


used to be taken as proof of the wife's
infidelity. In Greece the second husband
implied in this view was taken to be a
god, and one of the pair is sometimes
perstition,

mortal: alternatively, only a god is strong


enough to beget two sons at once.
Twins therefore occur very frequently in
Greek mythology not all of them have
divine parents, for some may reflect the
institution of dual kingship which sur:

at Sparta in the historical period.

epithet normally translated as 'ox-eyed'

vived

but probably originally meaning 'cow-

behind the myth,

Dual kingship may have been a device for reconciling two systems of inheritance. Two brothers marry two unre-

and might have been preceded by the

lated heiresses, each thus acquiring title

faced'.

The mating of the

sacred heifer might

ritual slaughter

decessor,

who

lie

of the

sacred bull to a

new

bull's pre-

turns up as Argus in his

bull hide.

of this, of course, was


any of the Greek narrators of
the developed myth, who simply repeated
the traditional elements in any order

Nothing

known

to

that suited them,

from other

and included elements


Some Mycenaean

rituals.

monuments suggest
god

the descent of a

that they visualised


as a bird.

The gods

to a

kingdom

in the female Hne. In each

succeeding generation the son of one


house marries the daughter of the other,
so that the

kingdoms

are

exchanged

gularly, but each grandfather

is

re-

succeed-

ed by his grandson in the male line.


This grandson often appears in the stories,

somewhat

inconsistently,

daughter's son, though by

strict

as

his

matri-

linear succession he should be the grand-

daughter's

husband.

This

hypothesis

THE CHILDREN OF

10

(for that is

all

has the merit of

is)

it

providing a single simple explanation


for a

number of the more puzzling

tural features of the stories,

complete pattern
in any

struc-

though the
found

rarely if ever

is

one myth.

from Gortyna,
500 BC. The Cretan cities marked
their coinage with symbols taken from
the mythical past of their land, which
also had a live ritual significance.
stater

The water-loving willow-tree


suggests that the local Europa was,
Helen in Rhodes, a tree goddess,
visited by Zeus, as Leda was, in the
form of a bird, but an eagle and not a
like

swan. Here, as so often,


from the literary myth.

ritual diverges

on the Acropolis, but


well sounded like the
sea when the south-west wind blew and
there was the mark of a trident on a
near-by rock. But Athena created the
olive and was awarded the land. These

created a spring

of

salt

water.

The

may

contests

The daughters of Danaus

Obverse of

reported for Attica: there too Poseidon

legitimately be taken to

reflect conflict

Danaus and Egyptus had each the traditional fifty children, Egyptus sons and
Danaus daughters. A marriage was proposed between the two, but either Danaus or his daughters rejected it and
fled to Argos, where the Argives accepted Danaus as king after Apollo sent a
wolf to kill an Argive bull as an omen.
The sons of Egyptus pursued their brides
across the sea, and Danaus feigned

between the patriarchal


and earlier moth-

religion of the Greeks

er-goddesses.
It

is

not clear

why Danaus

or his

daughters were so opposed to marriage

with their cousins, which was approved

he found his daughters husbands by giv-

by Greek law for reasons of inheritance.


It might be a reminiscence of Egyptian
brother-sister marriage, of which the
Greeks did disapprove. But perhaps it
was marriage and not children that the
Danaids objected to, and perhaps they
killed their husbands after intercourse
and not to preserve their virginity. The
suggestion that Danaus quarrelled with
Egyptus over the kingdom is the trans-

ing them away as prizes in a foot-race.

ference of a

But after their death these Danaids were


punished in Hades: they had to carry
water in sieves to fill a leaking pot. But
one Danaid refused to kill her husband,

of twins, but cannot provide sufficient

consent to the marriage, but ordered his


daughters to

marriage

husbands on the
and bring him their

kill their

night

heads, which he buried separately.

who

Lynceus,

eventually

Then

became king

number of

for the

not very

first

motivation.

similar motif

race for brides: there

one winner

who

is

is

the foot-

normally only

supplants his father-in-

law, the situation of Hypermnestra and

Lynceus. Elements in their story were

Danaus.

after

common motif in the history

recurrent motifs appear

connected with landmarks in Argos and

time in this story, though

with various

with some mo-

of the heads

clearly, together

The separate burial


may simply be a device to

rituals.

it. The Greeks


punishment after

account for the existence of two sepa-

death until the time of Plato, except for

be magic, to lay their ghosts or to protect

few notable sinners, including the DaBut the form of their punishment
suggests that they were originally spring-

the land.

that are peculiar to

tifs

not

did

believe

in

naids.

nymphs, or priestesses with magical


powers for finding springs. One of them,

Amymone,

appears

as

exercising

just

When

Poseidon and Hera


contended for the land of Argos, Inachus adjudged it to Hera, and Poseidon
that power.

in

anger dried up

naus sent

all

Amymone

the springs. Dato

draw water on

She occupied her search


by hunting, and throwing at a deer hit
a sleeping satyr. Poseidon saved her from
their arrival.

the satyr's advances, only to press


his

own. In

on her

return, he revealed to her the

perennial springs of Lerna, important in


the

summer drought of Greece.

similar contest between Poseidon


and the mother-goddess of the land is

rate

'tombs of the

suitors'.

Or

it

might

Danaus then was Linked with Argos


in this way, like his great ancestress lo.

The other branch of

lo's

descendants

was brought to Crete and to Thebes,


and retained the bull cult which in Argos
seems to have been superseded by that
of the wolf god Apollo Lyceius, whose
intervention secured Danaus the kingdom. Agenor became king of Tyre,
where Europa and Cadmus were either
his children or grand-children. Zeus
loved Europa, and came for her in the

form of
where a

a bull, carrying her off to Crete

bull cult

is

copiously illustrated.

The monuments seem to show bull-leaping, but this may be a euphemistic way
of referring to goring. The name Europa, 'broad-faced',

is

quite appropriate for

THE CHILDREN OF

Cadmus, with
set

of the Greek tribes that came to


Thebes seems to have followed the same
custom, and it is the cow which has
led to the association with Europa.
Cadmus himself was associated with

One

Cadmus
his

mother and brothers,

out to look for Europa, and settled

in various places to

which they gave

their

snakes and with Ares.

Cadmea was

names. Cadmus himself followed


cow, later said to be marked on the
flank with a moon, until it lay down:
there he founded a city - the Cadmea,
the citadel of the later Thebes.

The Del-

phic oracle claimed that he was following

its

advice: but the Italic ver sacrum,

or sacred spring, provides a close par-

This was a device for dealing with

allel.

over-population in the poor but empty


hill

country of central

often

all

Italy.

Every so

human and aniwere vowed to the god.

the live births,

mal, of a year

The spring on

the

sacred to Ares, and, as such

springs often are, was guarded by a snake

(not a dragon

the Greek dracon

is

fierce

and mythical but still a snake). Cadmus


killed it and sowed its teeth in the earth,
from which armed men sprang up, who
fell

to fighting, either spontaneously or

when Cadmus

cast a stone

among them.

Five survived, the ancestors of the Theban aristocracy, who called themselves
Sparti,

'sown men', and

clearly prided

autochthonous,

themselves

on

earth born.

Cadmus served Ares

being

for a wife,

10

and whose wedding the gods

attended.

Harmonia
Aphrodite

is

like

one of the attendants on

Hebe ('youth'),

the

Hours

(actually plural of Hore, season of spring

or youth) and Graces.

with a divine dowry,


necklace, the latter

Harmonia came
a

robe

and a

made by Hephaestus

and containing irresistible love-charms.


Like the golden apple 'for the fairest',
which appeared at the wedding of Peleus

and Thetis, it did not bring good luck.


At the end of their lives Cadmus and
Harmonia left Thebes and led a tribe
called Eel-men to victory against the
lUyrians, of whom they became the king
and queen, being turned into great serpents. That is to say they were identified,

following an

great year to atone for killing his snake,

probably not before the time of Euripides, with the snake gods of an Illyrian

ox or other sacred animal, which they


sacrificed at the new tribal centre, which

or possibly to win his daughter Har-

tribe.

was therefore called Bovianum, 'Oxton'.

of the mortals

When

they came to maturity, they went

out to found a

Cadmus and
potters

new

tribe,

the serpent.

working

in

The

Paestum

local

in the

fourth century produced some fine


large vases with mythological
subjects. Python, about 340 BC,
produced this copy of an earlier vase
showing Cadmus killing the serpent
which guarded the sacred spring on the
site of Thebes. But he has added
the huge pile of stones with one of
which Cadmus, whose cap marks him
as a foreigner, kills the snake. In his

other hand he holds the water pot.


The figure above the mirror is
probably Harmonia, admiring the
necklace she was given when she

became Cadmus's bride. Hermes and


Pan are introduced as spectators.
Louvre.

monia. For Cadmus,

who

is

for a

In

fact, as deified ancestors,

they

like Peleus, is

received offerings as snakes, very likely

allowed a

in

one
goddess

Thebes

itself.

LEFT
Death of Actaeon. The Pan painter,
a master of the severe style of Attic
vase painting about 460 bc, was able
to depict with intensity the terrifying
heartlessness of the gods as they were
conceived in the fifth century and in
Greek tragedy.' There is no trace of
the original ritual. Artemis points
her plague arrows at the offending
Actaeon, who is merely identified by
the hounds, since he is dying already.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Pierce Fund.

RIGHT
Death of Actaeon. Almost contemporary
with the Pan painter's vase is a metope
of the same scene from Temple E
at Selinus. But the spirit of the work
is quite different, because the very
young Artemis looks on at the automatic
consequence of her violated privacy
with horrified compassion for her
victim. The transformation of Actaeon
into a stag is suggested by the horns
which are indicated above him,

and the dogs are

Museo

The daughters of Cadmus

The

birth of Dionysus

of a man, a bull or a goat. Impersona-

of the god or his sacred animals,

tion,

Cadmus' daughters appear

Onl)'
stories

in the

of the next generation at Thebes.

Their names were Autonoe, Ino, Semele


and Agave. Autonoe married Aristaeus,

who presides over beekeeping and olive-growing and sends


a rustic deity

winds in the sum-

forty days of cooling

mer.

He was

the son of a Thessalian

whom

Apollo loved when he


saw her wrestling with a lion: later he
was said to have carried her to Libya
where the city of Cyrene was named
after her. Their son, Actaeon, was a
mighty hunter of the type of Orion. He

Ino also has Thessalian connections, for


she married Athamas, one of the sons

whom

of Aeolus, with
linked.
is

The

fate

two

was

the

The Phrygian god was particularly


god of the vine: for wine induces

name

nysus, and which led to the rapid spread

that

Cadmus,

for her

of the Phrygian earth-mother,

Zemelo, and she

the ecstatic sense of release

of the

cult, especially

cult

boasting that he was a better hunter

the fate of being ritually torn to pieces

peculiar divine status

by Maenads, which was once the

fact that

than Artemis.
her and

is

He

his

also

own hounds

wanted to marry

therefore the male consort in

a fertility rite,

who

ends up by being

ritually torn to pieces.

But when Arte-

mis becomes the virgin huntress his


is

58

fate

punishment for seeing her naked.

god whose

the
is.

is

fate

of

substitute or surrogate he

For Dionysus

is

blend of the Thra-

cian and Phrygian gods of vegetation

and

fertility,

who

were

ritually torn to

pieces by their worshippers in the

form

among women.

compensated for the hard times and

for

was devoured by

which was

experienced by the worshippers of Dio-

one of the Phrygian


elements in the cult of an originally
Thracian god. Agave was the mother,
by one of the sown men, of Pentheus,
whose name seems to mean 'man of
sorrows'. For his opposition to the
Bacchic worship of Dionysus he suffered

huntress,

and the germ

of drama.

was

sisters

a part of the ritual

god Dionysus. Semele is


mother: but she was not originally

the daughter of
is

her

story of the other

that of the

his

naturistically treated.

Nazionale, Palermo.

cial

It

so-

tensions of the guilt culture of the

dark ages of Greece after the end of

Mycenaean
apparently

culture.

know

The Mycenaeans did


god called Dionysus,

but the rapid expansion of his ecstatic

was almost

pians
a

he

who

mortal

is
is

certainly later,
is

and

the only one of the


said to

his

reflected in the

Olym-

have been born of

woman.

Greek gods were born: but it is


almost the definition of Greek divinity
that the gods are ageless and immortal.
All

p.

I"

'

'

nwii# wi.
i

i|i iiJii<iig|

4jpyiitt j|iiiiiiy.
i

i i

0J> ;

t l|ijj>>..,ffl|**

i, l

W|p|

iii

I'

1^
.V

i-

THE CHILDREN OF
all

be.

men would wish

that

10

themselves to

'dying god', perfectly at

home

in

Thrace or Phrygia, was a theological


impossibihty in Greece. So the myths of

Dicnysus are

who

human

of

full

suffer his fate for

surrogates

him. Their stories

and those of other dying heroes were


enacted in his honour at the dramatic
festivals

of Athens.

Semele, Dionysus' mother, was loved

by Zeus, who promised to grant her


whatever she might ask, perhaps out of
pleasure in her pregnancy. Semele asked
him to appear to her in his divine form
she may have been put up to this by

who

Hera,

appears as the jealous wife,

or perhaps she was merely following the

by which the reigning pair

early practice

imitated (or impersonated, or were held

Zeus and Hera.


Such mortal presumption shocked the
later Greeks, and was always punished
by the gods jealous of their prerogatives.
So when Zeus, who could not escape
from his promise, appeared to Semele
she was consumed by the fire of his

to be incarnations of)

Her tomb continued


may have contained a

thunderbolt.

smoulder:

it

marking the place

flame

cred

to
sa-

where

lightning had struck.

But Zeus snatched his unborn son


from his mother's womb and sewed him
into his own thigh, from where in due
course he was born. Like the tale of the
birth of Athens, this is a male myth expressing resentment and jealousy of wom-

name
name of Zeus, and

an's role in childbirth. Dionysus'

certainly contains the


it

is

may mean 'son

of Zeus', just as Athena

the 'daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus'.

His mother
the

myth,

is

of no great importance in

unlike

other

mother-god-

desses.

The newly born Dionysus was put


out to nurse,

first

with Ino, his mother's

who dressed him in girl's clothes


common custom to avert the evil eye,

sister,

(a

but here said to be intended to hide the


child

from Hera), then with the nymphs

of the legendary
in the

form of

like that

Mount Nysa, sometimes

a kid. This story

is

very

of the infancy of Zeus, on which

might conceivably have been based.


But two strange stories in Pausanias sug-

it

gest a ritual.

The

inhabitants of Prasiae

on the eastern coast of the Peloponnese


said that the dead Semele and the infant

THE CHILDREN OF
Death of Actaeon.
Only some twenty years after the
treatment by the Pan painter, that
of the Lycaon painter shows an increase
in sensationalism which may owe
something to drama. Artemis no longer
but stands by in a ritual pose
with a torch while Zeus gives
approval from the other side. But the

Dionysus were
Perseus.

Actaeon, with horns like Pan, tries to


defend himself with his spears. The
hounds may even have been figments
of his imagination. Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston.

They buried Semele, and Ino

appeared in her wanderings to nurse

Dionysus.

acts,

hounds are maddened by Lyssa,


Madness, who appears as a character
in the Heraclei Mad of Euripides, and

up by the sea in a
Danae and the infant

cast

chest, like that of

similar chest, with an

Dionysus in
lian,

it,

was given

image of

to a Thessa-

Eurypylus, as his share of the spoils

of Troy. The image drove him mad, and


he made his way to Patrae, where he put
an end to the annual sacrifice of a bridal
pair to Artemis and became a hero at
the annual festival of Dionysus. These

suggest a regular ritual at which

stories

an infant Dionysus was brought to land


in a chest, and then nursed.
It was in Phrygia that Dionysus discovered the vine, and taught

make wine from

From

it.

men

to

there he set

out to convert the world, punishing

Hermes and

those

Hermes, recognised by his travelling


cloak and hat, magic staff, and what
look like formalised wings on his
boots, holds the infant Dionysus, who
reaches out towards a Maenad with
a thyrsus. The nurses of Dionysus play
a part in many ritual myths. In
narrative mythology they were localised
on Mount Nysa in Asia Minor, with
which the name of the god was
connected, and are described as nymphs.
British

who

refused to accept him. This

the infant Dionysus.

pattern

ritual

women who went

one.

The

out into the

rout of
hills

was

normal part of the cult of Dionysus.


They may have been taking out the old
year and bringing in the new one, a
type of ceremony well attested in Eua

rope.
real

But the

may also reflect


new and socially
The first such story

stories

opposition to a

disruptive religion.
is

Museum.

is

told in the Iliad. Lycurgus attacked

the nurses of Dionysus,

who

fled into

the sea where Thetis protected him.

The

gods punished Lycurgus with blindness

and a short
Here the

life.

ritual role

of the 'nurses'

who have
found the new baby and brought him
back. Dionysus flees into the sea because
in other rituals it was from there that he

is

The capture of Silenus was a popular


Greek vase painting, but

subject in

clear

they are the Maenads

came. As in the story of his infancy,


there are reminiscences of the succession

representations of the actual event are


rare. This late sixth century vase

myth, with Thetis playing the grandmother role that she did for Zeus in

by the Achelous painter

the story of Briareus.

dramatic.

The

is

highly

Silenus (not in any

of the vases identified as the fat


old Pappa Silenus but as a regular
horse satyr) is taken by two hunters
armed with two throwing spears
in the very act of drinking at the
fountain running with wine, which
stands before a stylised olive tree. It is
possible that a genre scene 'Hunters
surprise a satyr' preceded its association
with Midas and later moralisation,
though an earlier vase shows a bound
satyr brought before the king.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers

Fund, 1949.

The

Iliad has as usual suppressed the

gorier details of the fate of Lycurgus.

He went mad and

attacked his son with

an axe, thinking he was pruning a vine.

was made
fruitful again when Lycurgus was torn
to pieces by horses on Mount Pangaeus.
Doubtless he was ritually eaten, and
pieces of him strewn on the fields,
though the horses seem to come from
the ritual of the Thracian Ares, whose
sons, like the Thracian Diomede, often

The land became

barren, and

Death of Orpheus. The work of the


Achilles painter reflects the serene
of Periclean sculpture. It freezes
into calm the action of a violent
style

subject, the death of

Orpheus.

severe Thracian woman, identified


by the tattoos on her left forearm,

prevents the dying Orpheus from


destroying his lyre or striking her with
runs down
it. Blood from a spear thrust
his right side. There is no hint of
ritual tearing

down

or of the head floating


Museum of Fine Arts,

the river.

Boston, Special Fund.

10

THE CHILDREN OF

lO

The goddess Athena

as

Defender of

the City, Promachos, she


for

who

fights

naturally associated strongly

it, is

with Athens, the city from which


the goddess in fact talces her name.
Pericles set up a colossal bronze
statue of the goddess in this
pose beside the Parthenon as part
of his redevelopment of the Acropolis.
It was reproduced in large
numbers of small votive statues of
varying date and competence, and
copied over much of the Greek and
Roman world. In her left hand she
holds a hoplite shield, almost
horizontal to keep the opponent at as
great a distance as possible, while
she threatens him with the stabbing
spear held in the right. The goddess
dispenses with the breastplate, instead of
which she sometimes wears the
aegis, or divine goatskin with the
gorgon's head. But she is normally
helmeted. This version, in which the
high plume suggests Italy, has
a certain coarse strength about it.
British

Museum.

man-eating mares. The other eleclearly describe the Thracian veg-

own

ments

The son

etation

cult.

Dryas,

'tree-man',

shows Dionysus

is

also

called

and an Attic vase


worshipped in this

form.

But the best known story is that of Dionysus' return to his birth-place, Thebes.
Rejected

there,

Dionysus

maddened

and drove them to Mount


Cithaeron, where they routed the troops
sent against them. Pentheus imprisoned

women

the

the effeminate male leader of the Bac-

chantes (who

is

clearly distinguished

Dionysus in the play), or he


he did - in fact they caught a

from

thought
bull.

The

leader escaped, and persuaded Pentheus


to put on women's dress and spy on the

Bacchantes on the mountains.

To do

he climbed a pine tree, which the


Bacchantes uprooted and then tore him
this

by his mother AgShe returned in triumph with the


head of her son as a trophy, only to come

ritually to pieces, led

ave.

to herself

Greek

and learn the sad lesson of

all

tragedies: mortal submission to

the will of the stronger gods.

In Attica the worship of Dionysus

was

easily

but the

assimilated to a local cult,

ritual

death could not be avoided.

Icarius gladly accepted the gift of the

THE CHILDREN OF

and

vine,

in the

proper missionary

spirit

gave wine to some shepherds, who in


ignorance drank it unmixed like water
(the Greeks normally diluted it with at
three parts of water). In their
madness, the shepherds, thinking they

least

Dionysus, and Orpheus

is

always re-

presented as one of his followers. His

chronology varies, but


husband of one of the daughters of Cadmus, appears in one of his
stories. Orpheus was the son of Calliope,
mythological
Aristaeus,

muse of

were poisoned, killed Icarius, whose


daughter hanged herself when she found
his body. This story explains the Athenian festival, paralleled in Italy, at which

the

small images were set swinging in the

lyre,

epic poetry (for his verses

were in hexameters, like the I/iad and


the Odyssey and the Boeotian poems of
the school of Hesiod). He had a magic

branches of trees in the heat of summer,

with which he charmed trees and


rivers as well as the wild beasts: even

when Erigone,

stones gathered round

the daughter 'born in

the spring', had been killed by the hot

which sounds

summer's drought.

of stone

Midas

loved

whom Aristaeus also loved and


her wedding.

encountered both Midas and Orpheus.

to death. Inconsolate,

is

kind of King of Fairyland in

the

world.

His

man

kingdom was

settled as Phrygia, to

where

in

finally

his fabulous

rose-gardens were transferred from their

To

original place in Macedonia.

rose-gardens Silenus

turned aside, the

man with

eldest of the satyrs, a fat old

the snub nose and

these

low forehead which

was the Greek convention for such wild


and lustful creatures. He fell asleep in
Midas' garden, where a fountain had
been filled with wine to catch him. Midas
feasted him, and returned him to Dio-

ran from

As she

snake and was stung

him she trod upon

popular Greek fables, the richest

nymph,

chased

In the course of his travels Dionysus

Midas

wood

Eurydice,
at

Orpheus followed
her to Hades, and charmed Persephone
into letting Eurydice go, on condition
that he did not look behind him until
he got her safely on the earth. Of course
he failed to
rejecting

all

the

fulfil

other

condition and,

women, he wandered

band of Thracians preaching his


own mysteries and those of Dionysus,
until he was torn to pieces by Thracian
Maenads, who were jealous for the honour of their sex. They cast his head into
the river Hebrus, and it sang 'Eurydice,

with

Eurydice' as

it

earth

in

way, bringing back the

this

spring, and Eurydice

must be

a deity

of the same type. Dionysus descended

through the bottomless Alcyonian lake


Argos by the spring of Lerna where

in

annual

were

mysteries

performed

at

nature of which Pausanias

the

night,

refuses to divulge.

The
lie

arrival of

Dionysus by sea may

behind the myth told in the hexameter

Hymn

circles.

Orpheus

Semele and conduct her to Olympus


under her Greek name Thyone, the
'possessed'. Persephone or Core, and in
one version also Pandora, rise from the

him and danced,

another explanation

like

10

and illustrated on a famous vase.


Dionysus was kidnapped by Etruscan
pirates (in a later version he took passage
with them for Naxos, where he had a
cult involving Ariadne),

unable to

persisted

tie

advice of the pious steersman.

Out

at

was wreathed in a
fruiting vine and the mast and oars were
twined in ivy. Ivy was much used in
sea suddenly the sail

Bacchic

rites,

probably

because

evergreen and preserves the

it

is

of the

life

vegetation spirit during the dead season.

The god became a


and made a

lion

deck,

amidships,

driving

on the

she-bear

the

sailors

fore-

appear
to

the

where they huddled round the

stern

pious steersman.

floated to the sea.

who

even when they were


him up and despite the

in their intention

The

lion seized their

asked, that everything he touched might

Georgics with the story

first

and they all jumped into the


sea and were turned into dolphins. But
Dionysus stopped the steersman from

turn to gold.

surviving author to bring in the romantic

following their example, revealed him-

who

nysus,

But

granted

like a

him

man who

the

boon he

swears an oath,

The

story of

Orpheus has

attracted

who

ends his

writers ever since Virgil,

motif of Aristaeus.

and

is

the

He probably

got

leader,

self to

him and made him rich. Presumbecame a Dionysiac mis-

from the Alexandrian scholars but


it might have a basis in a ritual sacrifice
of a virgin. Eurydice's sisters took their

ably he too

to ask that the gift be rescinded, a well

revenge by making

the well-known friendliness of dolphins,

known

die: he learnt

he was held to the

words, and

literal

when even

meaning of

the food he put

to his lips turned to gold he

wash
all

fairy tale motif.

his

was forced

He was

told to

in the sands of the river Pactolus,

the sands of

which turned

thus fulfilling a prophecy


infancy,
into his

to gold,

made

in his

when ants carried grains of corn


mouth while he was sleeping,

showing that he would be the


man on earth.

richest

Orpheus
The mysteries of Orpheus were another
which spread in Greece in

this

how

all

Aristaeus' bees

to get a

new swarm

from the decaying carcass of

a bullock,

a superstition (for the bees are really a

form of fly) shared by the ancient


Hebrews. The prohibition on looking
back is a folk-tale motif. Cronus in the
succession myth and Deucalion after the
both threw things over their
shoulders without looking back. The
flood

singing head

is

a similar motif.

The apotheosis of Dionysus

ecstatic cult

the hard times of the seventh century

onwards. They resembled the cult of

Dionysus too was said to have descended


into Hades to bring up his mother

sionary.

The

story

is

partly intended to explain

who

rescued the poet Arion in similar


circumstances (an example of a myth

being transferred to a historical personage). But chiefly it exhibits the manifest

power of

the god,

who

painter Exekias as a
in

sailing

is

shown by

huge bearded

the

figure

ship like a dolphin, with

two dolphins painted on its side fore


and aft, and a bird-beaked stern. This
is the early form in which the god is
depicted, full of that quality which the
Greeks never failed to attribute to their
gods, whatever the stories they told of
them, a quality that aroused in men
feelings of reverent worship.
63

The Erechthcum, as it was called by


Greek traveller Pausanias in the

the

second century ad, is the most recent


building on the Acropolis in Athens,
constructed during the Peloponnesian
war from about 420 bc. But its site
was the most sacred and oldest on the
Acropolis, where a number of very
ancient cults were sited, and this
accounts for

To

the

left,

its

odd

shape.

facing north, a normal

temple facade led into the ancient


shrine of Poseidon and Erechthcus,
also entered

from the door

to be seen

by the sacred olive of Athena, and


stairs leading from the porch
of the maidens. Here were the
marks of Poseidon's trident, and the
'sea' or brackish pool which he created
there. Here the cleft of the oracular
hero Erechtheus, struck by lightning.

from

64

was

left

open

to the

heaven and

protected from flooding by the porch


of the maidens. Outside, next to the
olive, was the tomb of the serpent
man Cecrops. Two other heroes also
had shrines in the temple further
east.

Then came

a wall, completely

cutting off a temple of Athena,


where the ancient wooden image of the
goddess was kept, perhaps removed
there from the older temple which
the Parthenon had succeeded in

all

but sanctity. This temple was entered


at a different level

from

normal

which was balanced on


which
can be seen above the door by
facade,

the west by the false fa(;ade


the olive.

The

a shrine of

Cecrops,
in the

olive itself stood in

one of the daughters of

who may

also be symbolised

Caryatids of the porch.

THE CHILDREN OF AEOLU

Cadmus, Aeolus had sons as


The stories about them

Unlike

over his wife and the kingdom.

Then

well as daughters.

sons avenge their father's death by

seem to contain saga, that is, genuinely


historical material however garbled and

ing their mother.

misplaced, as well as ritual elements.

tery,

the raw material for

number of primitive motifs

large

and suggest a modified patriarchal

recur,

This bald catalogue of incest, adul-

and matricide provides


most Greek tragwhich took their plots from

parricide

edies,

system. Genealogies are normally reck-

heroic mythology.

oned

centration

in the male line, but sons rarely

succeed fathers: they often marry their

them
more often sac-

brother's daughter, as if that gave


a better

title.

They

sometimes

rificed,

cauldron,

they

or

are

by

boiling

leave

in

country

the

and marry another king's daughter,


with whom, of course, they get the
kingdom.
kings often fear death

Conversely,
at the

hand of

their daughter's

son and

edness. In

many

of two completely incompatible social


structures.

The important children of Aeolus


are four sons

seem

and three daughters: the


be genealogical

The four sons

their daughter's hand,

but their daugh-

the right man.


Sometimes they prevent their daughter's
marriage, but she is impregnated by a
betrays

ter

god.
is

them

to

Then they expose

the child, but

the promised supplanter. Their actions

incestuous love of their

and

own

by an

daughter,

one hero actually fathered a


son in this way, at least keeping the
succession in the male line. Their wives
too join in the conspiracy against them,
at least

inviting

young men who

husbands to

kill

their

visit

to

fictions.

Athamas, Sisyphus,
Salmoneus and Cretheus, and the three
daughters Alcyone, Canace, and Calyce.
are

Athamas

it

miraculously preserved to return as

are often said to be motivated

cases they are simply

the consequence of the strong interaction

Sometimes they

ritual contests for

tragedians' con-

be explained only in terms of individual


psychology or of essential human wick-

rest

up

The

on such themes reflects the


tensions of Athenian social and family
Ufe. But the original stories are not to

take fruitless steps to avoid this fate.


set

kill-

their

host and take

Athamas, king of Orchomenus,


cenaean

site

on the Thessalian

My-

side of

Boeotia, seems to have practised rain

magic

like his ancestor

Deucalion. Atha-

mas married Nephele, whose name


means 'cloud' she may have been a fairy
like the Swan-maiden, whom Athamas
captured by stealing her clothes, though
such stories are told in Greek only of
sea nymphs like Thetis. At any rate she
:

Phrixus and the Golden Ram. The


type of the god or goddess
riding upon an animal is one that
may go back to a period when god
and animal were even more closely

artistic

identified. It recurs in a

number

of myths of heroes, such as Europa and


the bull and, as here, Phrixus on the
Golden Ram, and even perhaps
Odysseus escaping from the Cyclops'
cave. This late version in terracotta,
perhaps towards 435 BC, shows Phrixus
not riding but holding on to a ram
that appears to be swimming the
Hellespont. It may have been balanced

on the large wooden chest for which


it was designed (it is ten inches long)
by a figure of Helle on the ram, for
an earlier figure of her, shown seated

on

the

faces

ram

left.

like

Europa on her

Metropolitan

bull,

Museum

of Art, Rogers Fund, 191 2.

^ ^
'-^r
IT-

'^'^i

THE CHILDREN OF AEOLUS


is

evidence for her husband's concern

drought he proposed to sacrifice his son Phrixus on


Mount Laphystius but Zeus sent a golden
ram on which Phrixus made his escape
with rain-making. In

with

his sister Helle.

He

Delphi. The reconstructed columns

of the fourth century temple are seen


from above, looking south-east up
the valley to the pass.

reached Col-

end of the Black Sea,


where Aeetes was king. Helle fell off
on the way and the Hellespont is named
after her. But Phrixus sacrificed the
chis at the far

ram

whom

to Zeus of Escapes, to

Deucalion had sacrificed

and hung up

its fleece

same

in a sacred grove.

Athamas was about

Later in Thessaly,
to suffer the

also

after the flood,

fate

of

sacrifice

to

Zeus Laphystius when his grandson,


who had returned from Colchis, rescued
him. In consequence, the

eldest

male

of the line of Athamas and Phrixus had

some time been

for
if

liable

to

sacrifice

he entered the council chamber there,

an act by which he was presumably


deemed to have become king. It is
doubtful, however,

if

the sacrifice was

ever more than simulated in the time

of Herodotus,

This

who

reports the custom.

does not seem to be

sacrifice

Athamas was

part of the rain magic.


liable to

be sacrificed at the end of his

term, or

when he

emergency,
Golden

like

Bough.

lost his virility, or in

any sacred king in the

He was

sacrificing

his

son as his surrogate or substitute. The

golden ram

emblem of

seems to have been an


with which

sovereignty,

Phrixus was temporarily invested, and

not

'a

ram caught

in a thicket'

and sub-

stituted for him.

Later the sacrifice of Phrixus was


accounted for by the wiles of a wicked
step-mother.

ond wife Ino

/^7^.

Athamas took

as his

sec-

Cadmus.
By her he had two children, in whose
interests their mother wanted to be rid
of Phrixus and Helle. So she parched
the seedcorn and persuaded the oracle
the daughter of

(always the sign of a later version) to


require their sacrifice to cure the famine.

For

their part in rearing

Dionysus,

Athamas and Ino were driven mad and


killed their children: Melicertes was
boiled in a cauldron and then Ino
jumped into the sea with him. They
were worshipped, especially
as

^^'i,

at Corinth,

Leucothea, the White Goddess, and

the infant Palaemon, and are in fact a


mother-goddess and consort, the former
67

THE CHILDREN OF AEOLUS


the winter, and during these 'halcyon
days' the sea remained calm.

The

lake

by which Dionysus entered Hades was


Alcyonian, and

called

have

therefore

the

story

reminiscences

may

of

the

chest that brought the child to land.

Pelias
Sisyphus

is

said,

in an obscure story,

and to have

to have hated Salmoneus,

been told that if he had children by


Salmoneus' daughter Tyro they would

avenge him. In

Tyro appears

fact.

as

married to the other brother, Cretheus.

She bore twins to

who assumed

god, Poseidon,

form of the river


Enipeus, for which she conceived a
passion. One of the sons, Pelias, avenged
the

on Cretheus' second

her

wife,

who

mistreated her (perhaps the second wife

was married under the


and probably on Cre-

in such cases

patriarchal rules)

theus as well, since Pelias inherited the

kingdom. He

is,

of course, represented

as a villainous usurper,

on the

of Hera.

altars

who killed Sidero


He was in turn

supplanted,

and indeed

boiling

in

cauldron,

sacrificed by
by Cretheus'

grandson, Jason.
Pelias

and

his brother

were exposed

herdsman
brood mares

in a chest, but saved by the


in charge of a troop of

when one

of them drew his attention

by kicking Pelias in the


Poseidon often appears in the form
of a stallion, just as Demeter, his original
consort, appears in that of a mare so it is
possible that Pelias was the divine twin

to the children
face.

Labour of Sisyphus. The same painter

who

depicted the capture of Silenus


on page 60 also drew this picture
of Sisyphus punished in the underworld.
Persephone holds four huge ears of
corn in one hand and two in the other.

Hades himself (the Greeks spoke


always of the house of Hades, never of
Hades as a place) is portrayed as a
white-haired old man with a staff.
Antikensammlungen, Munich.

and marked as such by his father. When


they were fully grown they returned
to lolcus, the city of Cretheus, where
they were recognised by the tokens of
identity

which they had worn when


It was then that
avenged his mother. But he

they were exposed.


Pelias

quarrelled with his mortal brother Neleus


identified with the nurse of

Dionysus,

perhaps because the child came from


the sea. Athamas killed the other child

and went into


Salmoneus
tised

exile in Thessaly.

also

rain-magic,

seems to have pracimitating Zeus by

dragging cauldrons behind his chariot


for thunder and throwing out torches
for lightning. So too his sister Alcyone

and her husband Ceyx called each other


Hera and Zeus. This identification - rather than impersonation - was required
of early kings. But the later Greeks
considered it blasphemous. Salmoneus
was blasted by real lightning, and Alcyone and Ceyx were turned into the sea
birds whose names they bear. The
halcyon was said to nest on the sea in

who went

off to Pylos.

There has obviously been some substitution and suppression in this part
of the story of the sons of Aeolus and
their families, but

many

it

none the less

exhibits

features of the pattern of inter-

acting forms of succession. Apart from


the

one

obscure

story,

the

Sisyphus has been completely

role
lost,

of

and

THE CHILDREN OF AEOLUS


all

rolled

the Corin-

Such helmets are known


from the shaft graves excavated by
SchLiemann at Mycenae: so perhaps
Autolycus was a tomb-robber. But
Sisyphus outwitted him. When Autolycus stole his cattle and changed their
colour, Sisyphus marked their hooves,
and so recognised his own and got them

time there were few

back. This looks like a rationalised ver-

four sons to Poseidon, one of

The sons of

sion of the exploit of Hermes, Autolycus'

Aloeus, married his brother's daughter

and of the invention of branding

Iphimedia. But her children were sons

the other myths about

fairy-tale

him contain

motifs.

Sisyphus
Sisyphus, with the keenest eye for profit

of any man, lived

at

Corinth where his

tomb was, 'though even of


thians of his

own

who knew where

it

was'.

Aeolus were widely dispersed in Greece:


Salmoneus went to Elis, and it is likely
that the quarrel he or Cretheus

had with

was about the inheritance.


Such quarrels, especially between twin

tor Ormenides.

father,

Corinthians used Q, the original


form of the first letter of their town).

(the

Finally Sisyphus cheated

Sisyphus

brothers, are another recurrent motif in

and they too are probably


consequence of the social structure.

Death and

took him prisoner, so that nobody died


until Ares released him. Then Sisyphus

body unburied,

the stories,

told his wife to leave his

and persuaded Hades to let him return


to repair this impious omission, probably swearing some crafty oath which

is

Because of his reputation, Sisyphus


brought into association with two

other heroes of similar character, Auto-

'who surpassed other men in


thieving and the oath', and Odysseus,
whose mother was Autolycus' daughter
and whose real father was sometimes
lycus,

said to be Sisyphus.

One

of Autolycus'

was that of a boars' tusk helmet,


which he took from Eleon sonof Amynthefts

made Hades think he would


some future

once, instead of on

No
tale,

details are

return at
occasion.

preserved of this folk-

a kind of story generally alien to

the temper of

Greek mythology. But

is one of the great sinners whom


Odysseus saw punished in Hades, pushing up a hill a stone which continually

he

back to the bottom. This punish-

ment suggests the Titans under

Endymion
The other two daughters of Aeolus
belong rather to religion. Canace bore

whom,

of Poseidon, Otus and Ephialtes

from Corinth, 325-508

bc.

The winged horse Pegasus, on

the

obverse, though born from the


Gorgon's blood in the African desert,
was always at home in Corinth,
where Bellerophon, himself originally

Corinthian, caught it and bridled it


with the help of Athena. The
Corinthians put Pegasus and Athena
on their coinage, only bringing the
type up to date from time to time.
Athena's helmet, on the reverse, worn
a

who

on Ossa. Calyce was the


mother of Endymion, another of the
Handsome Hunters carried off by a
goddess. The Moon took him to Asia
and bore him fifty daughters. He sleeps
for ever eternally young in a cave on
Mount Latmus in Caria. Presumably,
like all such sleepers, he will awake one
day. But his tomb was also shown in the
stadium at Olympia in Elis, and he is
said to have made his sons hold chariot
piled Pelion

There is also
was admitted to Olympus,
but expelled and cast asleep for an
attempt on Hera: this is appropriate
behaviour for a mighty hunter.
races for the inheritance.
a story that he

.'V

Stater

their

mountains.

back to show the face and not

down

as in war, has the leather neckpiece

showing under it. The boar and the


letter P (the Greek R) are mint marks
dating the issue. The Q under Pegasus
stands for Corinth.

69

DNSTER=KILLE

no lack of monsters in very


whether in Minoan and
Mycenaean art or in mythology, in
which Typhon, the opponent of Zeus
There

is

early Greece,

in the

succession myth,

grandfather of

all

is

the

great-

monsters. This and

other conflicts with monsters have

all

stories;

there

then

for Acrisius

who went

Proetus,

Mycenaean

are

drove

settlements)

father-in-law lobates

pattern, but in an earlier version he

restored

Greek art is the seventh century,


when Gorgons (with or without Perseus),

and, but

Sphinxes, Sirens

commonly, Chimaeras abound


'orientalising' art of the time.

myths are

earlier

than this:

in

less

the

But the
the

two

great mortal monster-killers, Bellerophon

and Perseus, are already known in Homeric and Hesiodic poetry. They involve
both Aeolids and Danaids, though the

this

pattern,

the mention of Lycia. There were a

Perseus was a descendant of Danaus

things', orders for his

of the

part in the fighting

much

Iliad,

of

it

against

the

Myrmidons under Patroclus. This might


reflect Mycenaean settlement there rather
than the

Greek migrations

later

to Asia

Minor.

twins,

phus.

He

Corinth, exiled for the

left

Proetus at Tiryns.

was

have been the work of

god: perhaps

the story was suppressed in the interests

of a genealogy in the male

when

line. Later,

grown, they fought for the


kingdom. The result was a draw, and
the two brothers were reconciled. This
was probably a trick, as in other similar
fully

and came to
was later recog-

brother,

his

god', Poseidon,

no story of their
begetting, which might be expected to

He

who

form
winged horse
Pegasus by Medusa, the mortal Gorgon.
Bellerophon was remarkable for his
beauty. The wife of Proetus, Antia in
Homer, later Sthenoboea, asked him
to

in his horse

also the father of the

lie

with her and,

accused

'May you

him
die,

ophon'. This

many

before

O
is

when he
Proetus,

Proetus, or

refused,

saying

kill Beller-

the motif of the virtu-

on a

spirit-destroying

own

death which

'baleful signs' are certainly a refer-

ence to writing, the power of which

impressed an

illiterate

encountered

it,

people

when

they

but they are hardly,

been suggested, the sole surviving

lobates

womb. But

is

tablet

recollection of the

Acrisius and Proetus, strove even in the


there

The

as has

Bellerophon

and gave

baleful signs, having graved

he was to show to the king of Lycia.

first

nised as 'being the noble offspring of a

The

to Lycia,

phically unlikely,

who

her husband.

Bellerophon himself.

him

folded

murder of

kill

rules of hospitaUty prevented


killing

Instead 'he sent

him

may

was, Proetus was convinced,

it

though the
him from

number of epic traditions about Lycia.


The Lycians play a large, but geogra-

by Acrisius, one of the twin grandsons


of Hypermnestra, the virtuous Danaid
did not

a deliberate rejection of that

is

killed his host.

As
in

Bellerophon was the grandson of Sisy-

genealogies will not synchronise.

have

rule at Argos.

is

in

Proetus

to Tiryns, while Acrisius continued to

type of hero and monster

Certainly the great period for monsters

regular succession pattern. Bellerophon's


refusal

The only unusual element


story, which falls into a regular

very early.

and

ous Joseph: but the wife is not originally


wanton, merely playing her part in a

married the king's daughter. But his

sometimes been derived from religious


ritual of the Near East, where the artistic
is

out

Lycia (where

to

made

Mycenaean Linear B.
number of fruitless

attempts to arrange Bellerophon's death.


First he sent

him

against the Chimaera,

monstrous goat with the head of a


lion and the tail of a snake. Bellerophon
killed her from the back of Pegasus,
the gift of his father Poseidon, on which
a

may have come from Greece.


For Pegasus is firmly located at Corinth,
where BeUorophon caught him and
Athena bridled him: the winged horse
is the badge of the coins of Corinth.
Then Bellerophon was sent on two
expeditions, one against the Solymians
and one against the Amazons. On the
way back from the latter he was ambushed
indeed he

THE MONSTER-KILLERS

'Melian relief of Bellerophon

and the Chimaera. It was made in the


middle of the fifth century bc either
as decoration for a chest or for

suspension on the wall as a decoration.


It has been restored from other
examples of the same type.
Bellerophon's body and the horse's

front legs were missing, but the


restorations can be regarded as certain.

Bellerophon's posture, which suggests


Mithras killing the bull, is made
necessary by the goat's head which
has turned an ordinary lioness into the
monster, with the addition of a snake's
head at the end of her tail. The

type of horse and rider was adapted


for other mythological subjects, such
as Perseus and the Gorgon and Helle

on

the ram. British

Museum.

LEFT

Danae and the Shower of Gold.


In the fifth century some Attic vase
painters illustrated the more human
aspects of the legend of Perseus,
perhaps reflecting Attic drama. Danae
is preparing for bed, untying one
of the scarves that hold her hair,

when she is surprised by the descent


of the gold. The pose suggests the earth
by the rain.
Hermitage Museum, Leningrad.

fertilised

ABOVE
Obverse of four drachma piece from
Athens, 530-520 Bc. When the
Athenians began their commercial
expansion about 5 20 bc, they introduced
the famous coinage with the head of

Athena and the owl that was known


over the Greek world as 'Attic
The earlier and purely local

all

owls'.

coinage used other symbols, such as


this gorgon's head, which
existed as a charm long before it was
attached to the Gorgon. In this case
it probably suggests the aegis of

Athena

A very fierce and convincing Chimacra


appears on an amphora by the Swing
painter in the second half of the
sixth century. It is nearly as tall as
a

man, and

a wild goat rears out

of

its back, so that it can attack two men


There is, however, no trace
of the snake on its tail. The type of
Bellerophon and the Chimaera was well
established by this time, and though
Chimaeras appear alone, there is no
other picture of a Chimaera hunt
like this. The figure on the right with
a club has been identified as Heracles,
and the other on the left, with some
kind of bent weapon, hardly a sword,

at once.

as his

companion

lolaus.

There

is

indeed a nude Heracles without


attributes on the other side of the vase
but no surviving legend associates
Heracles with the Chimaera.
British

7i

Museum.

by a picked band of Lycians: none of


them returned home, for Bellerophon
slew the lot. After this genuine saga of
Lycian war, which has been assimilated
to the pattern of exploits

king's

supplanter

is

by which the

selected,

Bellero-

phon married the king's daughter and


became king of Lycia. But he came to
bad end:

he returned to Greece
and carried off Sthenoboea, whom he
a

first

Bellerophon's daughter lay with Zeus

and bore Sarpedon, for whose death


at Troy Zeus 'poured bloody drops of
rain to the earth honouring his dear
son, whom Patroclus was going to
The twin brothers, Sleep and
kill'.
Death, carried his body back to Lycia
for

embalming and
mother died

burial.

don's

at

the

But Sarpehands of

Artemis, probably a piece of

ritual sur-

from the back of Pegasus; then he tried to ride up to heaven,


an impiety for which he was thrown off
Pegasus and lamed when he fell to earth.
After that he wandered about as an
outcast, although to go to heaven and
dine with the gods was originally the

This was the

prerogative of a divine king.

hands of Perseus, the 'Destroyer', per-

cast into the sea

vival, just as

rophon

it

seems

likely that Belle-

originally died at the hands of

his supplanter

Sarpedon.

Perseus
fate also

of Acrisius at the

.41

in
jj-

,T

V^'Mw

(.'.^'---t;-

THE MONSTER-KILLERS
the

Perseus

Gorgon Medusa was

monster to be slain. She had a horrible


head with two tusks and a protruding
tongue, and snakes for hair. Yet Poseidon had loved her, and she bore him
two children, the winged horse Pegasus
and the giant Chrysaor. This and her
name, which means 'ruler', suggest that
she was once the earth-mother in the
form of a horse from a version of the
succession myth in which Poseidon was
the chief god.

Gorgon

Perseus killed the

in fairy-

manner with the help of marvellous

tale

who

Marsyas,
musical

against lyre, and


was winning until Apollo reversed the
lyre and continued playing, a trick
which Marsyas could not do with the
pipes. Whereupon Apollo flayed Marsyas alive, cutting off
a knife, a fate

and for deciding against Apollo was


punished with ass's ears, which he tried
to conceal under his Phrygian cap. He

digging

called

cibisis into which he put the head but


which may originally have been a neverfailing magic source of supplies for the
journey; a polished shield, in which to

Gorgon without being turned

see the
to

and a special weapon, the


half sword, half sickle, which

stone;

harpe,

revealed their existence only to his barber,

who

the

Gorgon and her

sisters

who were

usually located in the African

desert.

the

of the

by

secret

a hole in the earth in a

secluded

Returning from killing the Gorgon,


was involved in yet another

supplanter story to get himself a bride.

now

Jaffa,

king of

boasted that she was

than the daughters

of Nereus,

which probably means that she impersonated or was identified with a sea
goddess. Poseidon punished this blas-

There they were guarded by the three


aged sisters, who shared a single eye.

phemy by sending

Perseus stole the eye, and thus either

daughter, Andromeda, by turning

them
into letting him pass and showing him
the way. Thus he was enabled to come
upon the Gorgon asleep.

stone with the Gorgon's head (a story

evaded the

sisters

or blackmailed

Various legends are attached to the

Many of them
who wore the Gorgon's

death of the Gorgon.

concern Athena,

head on her goatskin aegis (an early

form of

Gorgon's head

shield: the

favourite device

on

is

hoplite shields) as

war goddess. Medusa's children


have sprung from her dying
body, probably, like the Furies and
Uranus, from her spilt blood. Chrysaor,
who was named after the golden sword
befits a

were

his

said to

father

left

as

token

of paternity,

himself fathered the three-bodied giant

Geryon whom Heracles killed.


Athena invented the pipes to

which

Perseus

a sea

monster, from

delivered

the

king's
it

to

probably told to explain an off-shore


rock).

He

her father's

marry

had to save her from


brother, who wanted to

also

Then Perseus returned

to

Seriphus

and turned Polydectes and his court into


a stone circle. His action is variously
justified: either he saved his mother
whom the king was trying to starve to
death at the altar where she had taken
refuge (it was no sacrilege to deny a
suppliant food) or he was asked to
bring his contribution to a banquet and
teased into taking out the Gorgon's
head.

When

Perseus returned with his

mother and bride to Argos, Acrisius


fled to Larissa in Thessaly, where Perseus visited him, only to cause his death

dying hiss of the snakes in the


Gorgon's hair. But when she saw how

death suggests a form of contest, to

by an unlucky

cast of the discus. This

her cheeks were distended in playing

decide the supplanter, which was

them, she cast them away. The aban-

in order that the blood guilt

doned pipes were picked up by

upon an inanimate

a satyr.

On

Perseus and the Gorgon.

wine

Amasis,
who has signed the jug on the left,
produced one of the most fearful

gorgons ever depicted,

entirely justifying

Perseus' averted gaze, as he stabs her

mouth. For her mask is almost


lionlike, with a huge white gash of a
mouth and four tusks as well as the
tongue protruding. Her matted locks
suggest a mane or a beard and four
in the

snakes curve decoratively but


threateningly from her head, while
two larger ones are entwined in her belt.

To the right a bearded Hermes assists,


perhaps subduing the monster with
his

wand

to assist the

young and
Museum.

beardless Perseus. British

her.

imitate

the

ABOVE
jug, the great painter

wife of Cepheus,

Cassiopeia,

Joppa,

to

of

Perseus

fairer

way

burden

hole broadcast the secret.

myth.
his

tried to relieve himself

spot, into which he whispered the secret.


But the reeds which grew up from the

possibly suggests the original succession

Thus equipped, he made

some

musical contest between Pan and Apollo,

made him

wallet

reflect

Midas was the judge of a similar

ritual.

intolerable

with

his skin

all

which might

primitive and barbaric Asian sacrificial

magic gifts from the gods or from some


nymphs. They comprised winged sandals
from Hermes; the cap of Hades, which
invisible;

challenged Apollo to a
pipes

duel,

object.

'fixed'

might

fall

LEFT
Perseus slaying the Gorgon.
second sixth century temple
(temple C)

still

The
at Selinus

survives and the

metopes have been excavated in


fragments from it. They are in a far
heavier style than those of the earlier
temple, one of which showed Europa
and the Bull (page 5;), and ail the
characters are
It is

shown

full face.

for this reason

and not to avoid being turned


that Perseus

is

not looking

to stone,

at the

Gorgon, whose head is in the form


of the old gorgon mask. He kills her
with a simple sword, but is shown
with the winged boots of Hermes.
The goddess behind him, who may
have worn the aegis, is Athena.
Medusa holds an unwinged Pegasus,
her child by Poseidon who presumably
visited her in the form of a stallion.
Museo Nazionale, Palermo.

THE MONSTER-KILLERS

The Calydonian Boar

hunt. This

Frangois vase which in

many

band cup signed


by two potters or potter and painter,
Archicles and Glaucytes, which is
shown in black and white on page '107.
Two of the most popular exploits

ways may have been its model.


To the right are Meleager with his
bitch Thcro, Peleus (who killed his
host Eurytion by mistake), Melanion
and Cimon with a dog Podargos

in archaic art, about 540 bc, are

(swift-foot).

is

the other side of the

shown on

and the
Minotaur on the other side and the
Calydonian Boar hunt on the side
shown. All the characters and their
dogs are labelled, but there is no sign
the vase: Theseus

of Atalanta as there

is

on

the earlier

On the other side are


Castor and Pollux, Mopsus the seer, and
Jason and Idasus (perhaps = Idas)
with the dogs Gorgus and Charon.

The names show

that the literary

tradition of the hunt as a

exploit

communal

was well known. The white

dog on top of
tall

as a

man,

the boar, which


appropriately

is

as

is

called Leucius, 'Whitey'. The mangled


remains of Podes lie below.
Antikensammlungen, Munich.

REAT exploit:

Bellerophon and Perseus performed individual exploits and became the found-

games of Oedipus, which belong to a


Theban cycle which culminated in the

and in
Mycenae. For Perseus did not take up
the inheritance of Acrisius in Argos,
but exchanged kingdoms with Megapenthes, the heir of Proetus at Tiryns.

failure of the Seven against Thebes


and the success of their sons, the Epigoni, 'those born after'.
The Odyssey was conceived as a later
sequel to the I/iad, and succeeds in

From

dealing incidentally with the fates of

ers of ruling dynasties, in Lycia

there he

is

Mycenae. Various

have founded

said to
stories

were told to

account for the name, the ending of

which

pre-Greek. Either the cap

is

off his scabbard, or

fell

he picked a mush-

room, thus discovering a spring. The


Greek for both objects is myces. The
exchange of kingdoms suggests the dual
kingship and picks up the rivalry of
Acrisius and Proetus.

all

heroes

the

who

fought

at

exploits

of the generations after

Trojan war

is

the culminating episode

of Greek mythology. But the exploits


of the Calydonian Boar hunt and the

Voyage of

the Argonauts are fitted

on

to the heroic genealogies especially of

the children of Aeolus.

Odysseus. But the story of his wanderthough very largely made up of

The Calydonian Boar hunt

ings,

and folk tales, seems


motifs from
also to have drawn on the last of these
lost epics, which told the tale of the
Argo and Jason's quest for the Golden
fairy

Fleece.

These communal enterprises may be


a literary device to group the
stories of a number of heroes around a

exploits

of the sack of Thebes was that Thebans


play little part in the siege of Troy. The

in the course of narrating that of

Troy

partly

Communal
The

almost

on Thebes. One consequence

the attacks

But they may

central theme.

also reflect

The

Calydon

in

Aetolia

claimed descent from Aeolus by

Endym-

dynasty

ion.

It

has

at

its

share

of the sons of

Evenus was son of Ares, and


therefore the owner of (probably maneating) mares with which he ran chariot
gods:

races against the suitors of his daughter

When

Marpessa.

their skulls to his

they

lost

house

he

walls.

nailed

He was

something of the political organisation


of Greece under the Mycenaeans, who

defeated by the divine one of a pair of

the

heroes of one generation, in addition

built their cities at points of strategic

Idas

importance, linked them with

him

Bellerophon and Perseus are more


quently co-operative.

to their personal mythology, are

together

brought

some great communal


which seems, in most cases,

for

enterprise
to have

fre-

number of

formed the material of an epic

poem. The I/iad, describing essentially,


though in its own highly sophisticated
literary

war,

is

way, the history of the Trojan


the only one of these epics

which

has survived.
It

also

refers

to

Meleager,

chief

hero of the Calydonian Boar hunt, and

makes

one reference to

the

funeral

the

of

rudiments

system,

and

fortified

against

perhaps,

at least

subject

winged chariot with which he

beat Evenus, and carried off his daughter.

them not

The

only,

each other but also


population.

these sagas are connected with

race, or the pursuit, ended at a river,


which Idas could presumably cross in
his winged chariot. In disgust Evenus
killed his horses and threw himself
and them into the river which was

given his name.

This variant of the myth of the supplanter

related).

The Theban

communications

For all
Mycenaean cities, Thebes, Orchomenus and
the port lolcus, Argos and Mycenae
(together with Troy which is culturally
against

Spartan twins, Idas, brother of Lynceus.


was son of Poseidon, who gave

stories stand apart

from

the rest, though Argives took part in

is

clearly based

of chariot

race

and

on

a local ritual

sacrifice,

which

recurs in the story of Pelops and

lies

behind some of the Olympic games. But

primitive

wine-god. But the daughter

further complicated,

Deianeira

drove

the story of Idas

is

chariot

as

may

in

war-

ing this monster, though at some cost


to themselves, but a quarrel arose over

some
versions have been Ares, who was also

the spoils. Artemis saw to

Zeus separated them and allowed Marpessa to choose the one she wanted.
She chose Idas, for she feared that Apollo
would desert her in her old age. In one

have been the father of Oeneus'


son Meleager. Meleager led the heroes
in the Calydonian Boar hunt, as a result

these great

of which he himself met his

lanta, a virgin huntress

version Apollo begot a son on Marpessa

Artemis was angry with Oeneus because he had failed to sacrifice to her the
first-fruits of his vine-yard. This is the
motif of the neglected fairy for he had
sacrificed to the other gods. But some

because he then

fell in

with Apollo, and

fought him for the hand of Marpessa.

to supplant Evenus.

The cousin of Evenus


line

in the male

was Oeneus, 'wine man',

have been the

first

said to

to receive the vine

from Dionysus. He got it, and his


nickname, by abandoning his wife for
Dionysus to beget a daughter, a version
which suggests that he started as a

maiden, and so her father


said to

fate.

vine-yard ritual

may

lie

behind the story.

huge boar which ravaged the


land, especially, no doubt, the vines.
The combined heroes succeeded in killShe sent

whole enterprise

no good

The

to

(like

communal

all

it

the

exploits)

that the
rest

of

brought

any of those engaged in

it.

quarrel in fact arose over Ata-

who

is

obviously

form of Artemis and as such needed


for the Boar hunt. In her story, elements
from the myths of Artemis and her
nymphs are mixed with others taken
from those of the sons of gods. Thus
she was exposed by her father, who
wanted a son, but was suckled by a bear,
Artemis' animal. She made her suitors
run a foot race for her hand, and put
a

THE GREAT EXPLOITS


Jason and the snake. This cup by
the great painter Douris is perhaps a
little earlier than the vase depicting
the Golden Fleece, but it attests
Athenian interest in the myth in the
early fifth century.

Both vases show

Jason under the protection of Athena,


but this one, in which Jason is
identified by name, brings out some
of the ritual implications of the myth.
For if Jason was swallowed and
regorged by the snake it suggests
that his quest was, as befits a

whose name

is

man

'Healer', for

immortality, and that he, like


Pelias, died and was rejuvenated.
Vases, even if they are derived from
drama, often depict earlier versions
of a myth than are preserved in the
literary tradition.

Etrusco, Vatican.

Museo Gregoriano

them to death if they lost, but was


punished for the eventual loss of her
virginity by being turned into a lion.
Like Callisto, she is said to have violated
a

which seem to derive from the

who

Lycaeus. Those

entered

it

shadows and were hunted to

lost their

death or exile as 'stags' like Actaeon.

One

of the two alternative genealogies

emer-

father, to save the city in a grave

gency.

Many

sanctuary of Zeus, perhaps that on

Mount

sacrifice

of a son, probably as a surrogate for his

of the heroes

who were present

Calydonian Boar hunt also appear


as Argonauts. Jason, their leader, is the
at the

grandson of Cretheus in the male line,


and the Quest for the Golden Fleece is

of Atalanta made her Arcadian, the other

the

a Boeotian descendant of Aeolus.

selected. Like Perseus,

The famous golden apples with


which Melanion prevented Atalanta
from overtaking him are a fairy tale
motif, like the magic objects thrown out
in the 'flight from the enchanter' to
become impenetrable thickets and mountains. They have become apples, and the
gift of Aphrodite, because an apple was

into going for

the traditional love gift of the Greeks.

language of birds and animals for

They have

an oak was

really

nothing to do with the

by which the supplanter

test

it:

he would destroy an enemy, and Jason


answered, 'by sending him for the
Fleece'.

Melampus
Melampus, Jason's cousin,
felled,

son was called Parthenopaeus,


'unmarried woman's child', and the

they cleaned

was sometimes

Ares

said to be

The quarrel over the spoils of the


Calydonian Boar was caused by Meleathe

love for Atalanta.

first

Atalanta was

to hit the boar, but Meleager

killed it. So he was awarded the skin,


which he gave to Atalanta. His mother's
brothers (who are always important in
societies organised on matrilinear principles) objected, and claimed it by family
right. In the ensuing war Meleager
killed them, and his mother cursed him,
so that he withdrew from the fighting
and locked himself into his chamber

He

with his wife.

refused to

despite the pleas of his father

was about

until the city

when he

come

out,

and mother,

the cost of his

own

city,

presumably

mother did more than merely


She prayed for the death
of her son, a prayer which the Fury
heard. She actually caused his death by
putting back on to the fire the brand
in which the 'external soul' of Meleager
was lodged, and which she had taken
from the fire when he was seven days
old. Meleager was in fact put to death
his

refusing

to

accept the

matrilinear descent,
as told in the Iliad,

used

this

knowledge to get

The

daughter

was the cattle


of Phylacus, which were guarded by a
wonderful hound which nothing could
escape.

bride-price

Melampus

let

himself be caught

and put into prison. There he heard


the worms saying that they would
gnaw through the beam the next night,
and established his reputation by asking
for

new cell. Impressed, Phylacus


how to cure the impotence of his

asked
son,

which had been magically caused

when he put

a gelding knife in a sacred

oak, as a bird told Melampus.

caused.

As

his reward,

The

wound

of that knife cured the

it

rust

had

Melampus got

the oxen, and his brother his bride.

though

claims
his

Admetus

at

life.

curse him.

for

and in gratitude

to be sacked,

yielded to the pleas of his wife

and delivered the


For

He

it,

out his ears with their

his brother Bias a bride, the

of Neleus.

or Meleager.

ger's

tongues.

the

when

he saved the young

snakes that lived in

father

learnt
:

Hesperides. Despite her marriage, Atalanta's

is

Jason is tricked
Pelias asked him how

of

story,

contains elements

Admetus was another cousin of Jason.


Apollo served him as cowherd, and made
cows drop twins. This special
was explained as Apollo's
penance for killing the Cyclops who
made the thunderbolt with which Zeus
all

his

relationship

killed

Asclepius for raising the dead.

This deed had offended Hades and made


men immortal like gods. Asclepius was

woman, Corhim false with

Apollo's son by a mortal


onis,

who

later

played

another mortal. This story, like that of


Marpessa, may reflect the theory that

^.ki.c:u.>i:w5

^'ii'^'d^A'

THE GREAT EXPLOITS

LEFT
Caeneus

slain

by the Centaurs.

number of vase
the name of the

painters

great Thasian painter


Polygnotus, the friend of Sophocles
famous for his painting of the sack
of Troy. All of them may have applied
his innovations to vase painting,
as in this vase

of about 440 bc. The

invincible Caeneus disappears into

two
ground

the lower frame of the painting as

Centaurs

hammer him

into the

way to destroy him.


has a pole, the other uses a skin

as the only

One

in the old

way

as a shield, while

he

prepares to use a rock. Caeneus is a


hoplite with a very deep shield and
using his secondary armament,
the sword. Musees Royaux d'Art
et d'Histoire, Brussels.

ABOVE
The earliest mosaic
pavements are found in Greece
from 400 BC made from natural pebbles.
But the developed art is Hellenistic
and it became extremely popular among
the Romans. In the fourth century ad
hunting scenes were especially liked,
and Atalanta was portrayed as the type
Atalanta.

borrowed

of the huntress. Her quarry in this


mosaic was not the Calydonian Boar
but a lion, now lost, and she was
balanced by Meleager hunting
a leopard. At the other end of a
large

is

room

in a villa at Halicarnassus

was a mosaic of the hunt of Dido


and Aeneas. This combination of
Greek and Roman mythological motifs,
and of eroticism and hunting is
notable. British

Museum.

THE GREAT EXPLOITS

one twin had

a divine

and the

father

other a mortal one. But Apollo killed

and

Coronis,

Hermes
from her womb on
he

either

snatched the child

or

But he already bore the mark of which


Pehas had been warned to beware. He
was the 'single-sandalled man'. This was

appear as Argonauts,

in fact particularly an Aetolian custom,

despite their extremely primitive origins,

when

the Centaurs are in the heroic tradition.

designed to give a better foothold

the pyre.

This legend assimilates the birth of


Asclepius to that of Dionysus. But the
Epidaurians,

who had a

cult of Asclepius

mud. But Jason

fighting in

have

woman

old

when

lost the sandal

across

is

ferrying an
re-

Pirithous, however,

just as Jason is
educated by the immortal Chiron. For

On

said to

stream. She

Both Caeneus and

voyage the Argonauts met

their

with a number of adventures, which, like


all

Greek mythology, contain elements

Some may be genuine

involving 'incubation', sleeping in the

vealed herself as Hera and promised her

of different kinds.

temple to learn the cure by a dream,

help, a fairy-tale motif. Jason's absence

traditions

accounted for by the story that he


had been entrusted to Chiron the Centaur for his education and safe custody,

others are there to enable the Helpers

told a typical story of exposure,

mountain

on

and feeding by
goats. Various men were listed as having
been raised from the dead by Asclepius.
Some of them may have been originally
'dying

called Nipple,

whose

gods'

stories

included

is

a tale told of

many

hills,

lustful

and

easily

the
in-

resurrection, like Lycurgus the surrogate

flamed with wine, relations of the La-

of Dionysus.

piths,

Apollo

won

for

Admetus

Alcestis, daughter of Pelias,

ing

for

him

the

his bride,

by perform-

required

exploit

of

yoking a lion and a boar to a chariot.


But Admetus was doomed to an early
death, and found the marriage chamber
full of snakes sent by Artemis. Apollo

made the Fates drunk, and extracted


from them the concession that Admetus
might live if any could be found to die
for him. Only his wife would do so but
Persephone sent her up to earth again.
:

Euripides introduces Heracles to wrestle

with Death for the

of Alcestis, but

life

in the original story can be seen the

sacred king, with

whom

the fertility of the realm,

bound up
and whose wife
is

impersonates the Girl and returns from


the underworld in the spring.

Pirithous was king of the Lapiths, but

seems himself to be a very primitive

one of those invited to Zeus' table, despite having


murdered his wife's father by making
him fall into a pit of burning coals when
he came for the promised bride-price.
Zeus purified him from this murder,
which was probably originally a sacrifice.
Ixion repaid the kindness by an
attempt on Hera, which was foiled when
Zeus made a duplicate of her in cloud,
upon which Ixion begot the first Centaur. Ixion's action was regarded as
impiety and he was punished in Hades
by being bound to a wheel, flaming
divine king. For he

Admetus appears as one of Jason's


Argonauts: Bias and Melampus do not,
though the latter possesses a special
skill. For though the saga of the Argonauts may contain some recollections of
real voyages of exploration, it also has
many folk-tale motifs, one of which is a
crew of Helpers, the special talents of
each of whom must originally have been
required. The Quest itself is such a

is

the

emblem of

and not the

fleece

in

the Colchians collected gold-dust

Jason arrived

at the

sov-

which
from

court of Pelias

as a stranger, as the supplanter often

is.

minating in an orgy such as doubtless


took place when the Argonauts landed.

The myth provided

a historical expla-

nation for the ceremony.

A
story

ceremony

similar

lies

behind the

of Hylas, the boy favourite of

He was

Heracles.

carried off by water

nymphs and

vainly sought by Heracles,

who

"Hylas" o'er the


followed in

'cried

hills',

dition in order that this episode might

form of a horse, out of a daughter

Mysia.

annually

Heracles was only attached to the expeexplain the ritual.

No

other use

made

is

of Oceanus. Behind both these myths

of his special qualities. Whereas Pollux,

lie a ritual in which a


god could assume the form of a horse.
The war of the Lapiths and Centaurs
originated at the wedding of Pirithous,
when the Centaurs got at the wine and

the boxer, defeated a savage king

there seems to

tried

to

carry off the

women.

In the

his

is

ceremony of mourning on Lemnos, durall fires were put out for nine
days and no ship might land. It was
presumably part of a fertility cult, culing which

given a different parentage, by Cronus,

in antiquity.

ereignty,

object

this insult their

custom

a river, a rationalisation already current

its

mainland Thrace. For

wives killed them. There was an annual

which his wife's father died.


But Chiron, the one good Centaur, was

and impious Caeneus was battered into the ground by


the Centaurs. Caeneus had been a woman. Poseidon
raped her, and then
turned her into an invulnerable man to
prevent anybody from following his
example. Caeneus' impiety was shown
by his refusal to worship anything but

motif:

first

Lemnos, always important


because it is on the island-hopping route
to the Dardanelles. Here they found
only women who, 'because they did
not honour Aphrodite', had been afflicted with a bad smell, which drove
their husbands to fetch women from

like the pit in

in the

Jason and the Argonauts

whose enemies they were. They


off^spring of Ixion, whose son

were the

who

The

to display their special skills.

stop was at

heroes.

The Centaurs were wild men of


Thessalian

from voyages of exploration;


others are based on ritual, and yet

fight the invulnerable

own

spear stuck into the ground.

Here, as in the myth of Ixion, there seems


to be

some primitive

ritual.

challenged

all

comers to

who

a fight, a ritual

contest perhaps originally held in Greece.

Zetes and Calais, winged

Similarly

sons of the North wind, chased away the

who were

Harpies

persecuting the blind

Phineus. In gratitude, he showed the

Argonauts the way to Colchis. Phineus


plays the role taken in the story of Per-

seus by the aged sisters. There are


sides to the Harpies,
like the

heads.

ghosts
are

who

Sirens as birds with

They

who

also

are

many

are represented

women's

snatching winds,

or

carry off the living, but they

like

the

Gorgons, and

like

Medusa they bear wind-swift horses


Poseidon.

to

Delphi perhaps owed

On

divide and Oedipus killed his father,

large archaic temple.

as a sacred shrine to the landscape.

and south-west down

The
The

to the same plan a fourth century


temple was built in 320 bc after the

its

reputation

stream and a spring descend in a


cleft between the Phaedriades Rocks,
with Parnassus rising behind them.
The cleft joins a narrow but

remarkably
east

up

which leads
where the roads

fertile valley

to the pass

to the sea.

looks south.
precinct was walled in the middle
of the sixth century bc, when a large
polygonal wall was built, partly
destroying the earlier sanctuary of
Gaia, the earth, in order to support a
sacred

site

this site

one had collapsed in 373.


reconstructed columns of
last temple are shown, looking

earlier

The
this

and

six

south to the
valley

hills

across the

which hides the

sea.

THE GREAT EXPLOITS

The

blindness of Phineus

is

variously

explained. In the original version

it

was

caused by the sun, either because Phineus


preferred long

to sight, or because

life

had already revealed the way to

he

Colchis

Phrixus.

to

This

suggests

version in which Phrixus was not the

who

man

took the Golden Fleece to Colchis,

man who brought it back from


and Phineus was the guardian of

brought

contact

into

with

many

as

other myths as possible.

On

his return, Jason dealt with


by boiling him in a cauldron, as
Ino had done to Melicertes, who became a god. Pelias was persuaded that

Pelias

Medea would

rejuvenate him, as

she

did an old ram, and his daughters ac-

performed

removing

but the

tually

there,

blood-guilt from Jason. This form of

the secret

home of

The way

there

this task, thus

sacrifice

of the divine king, which

was further guarded by


the Clashing Rocks, which even destroyed one of the doves which brought

what

clearly

ambrosia to Zeus.

a ram, the

The motif of

how

the child of the sun.

the doves

is

also used

Argo passed through


dove which
brought them together and following
to explain

the

these rocks, by sending out a

it

through

as the rocks

rebounded. The

it

is,

is

seems to have been

by those whose god (Zeus

that preferred

or Hermes) could appear in the form of

emblem of

sovereignty.

It

recurs in the history of the house of

Atreus.

The rejuvenation motif shows

ABOVE
that,

Only two Greek vases

was followed by

the story of Jason and the Golden


Fleece. The vase painted by the Orchard

'resurrection',

who were

as

of

from the

doves suggest an original Quest for the

those heroes

Water of

Life,

which kept the gods

dead by Asclepius. The magic herbs

immortal.

The rocks have sometimes

used by Medea suggest the Herb of

been identified

as icebergs.

After arriving at Colchis, Jason had

perform traditional exploits to win


king's daughter and the Golden
Fleece. The wizard's daughter, Medea,
herself a witch, fell in love with him
and helped him to yoke the fire-breathing
bulls, sow the Dragon's teeth, and destroy the armed men who sprang up.
Then she charmed the snake which
guarded the Fleece, helping Jason to
escape by a gruesome variant of the
Flight from the Enchanter. For what
she threw in the path of her father were
chopped up pieces of her brother Apsyrto

the

tus,

in

who may

have started

some fertility
The required

as the victim

The

returned

this

the surface.
Pelias was succeeded by his son,
whereupon Jason and Medea went to
Corinth, where Jason acquired another

bride in the

king's

was varied to accommodate

One

the river Phasis east from

on which they turned

her children, and fled to Athens in a


chariot

fell

city,

and the Corinthians perhaps

Jason with the hero of a local


An annual ceremony mourned

identified
ritual.

the slain children, and seven boys and

seven
(the

girls

in

black with shorn hair

Greek mark of mourning,

a sanctuary, a ritual

way

they were

form of

which suggests the

story of the Athenian victims sent to

such fairy brides,

the

self-punitive activity) spent the year in

them north and west,


by the rivers Danube and Po, the old

On

the stern

Corinth was an early and important

Crete

routes.

when

upon him while he was

asleep.

naval

illustrate

may have
been inspired by a play, possibly
by Aeschylus, since it is parodied
in another vase which shows a satyr
playing the role of Jason under the
protection of Dionysus. This vase too
has a slightly comic appearance as
a tiny Jason reaches up to seize the
Fleece from under the head of the
snake which surrounds the tree.
The cloaked figure with his hand on
the stern of the Argo must, from
his size, be another deity, perhaps the
river Phasis which is going to give
the ship a good shove off to help
Jason escape. The female head might
be the speaking bough from Dodona
built into the Argo where it could
address the rowers. Metropolitan
Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane
Dick Fund, 1934.
painter, about 470-460 BC,

drawn by winged snakes. Jason

south to the Nile, and back by Libya,


colonised in the seventh century. Another route took

But he

her to death in a magic garment, killed

of the Argo

Colchis to Ocean,

amber

daughter.

never enjoyed her, for Medea burned

exploits are paralleled

increasing geographical knowledge.

way was up

The myth of Jason suggests that


Quest may not have been as beneficent and disinterested as it appears on
father.

died at Corinth, killed

route by which the Argonauts

raised

Life found in the epic of Gilgamesh


and in other Greek myths. Like the
Water of Life this is often the object of
a Quest to save the life of the Princess'

cult.

and perhaps derived from other stories.


Apollo yoked a lion and a boar to win
Pelias' daughter for Admetus, and heroes
are always dealing with monstrous bulls,
lions and boars. The sown men come
from the Theban legend.

Jason seizing the Golden Fleece.

as in the case of Melicertes, the sacrifice

for

the

Minotaur.

Medea may

have been originally the goddess there:


like

Thetis,

eventually desert their husbands in

mythology.

always

Greek

Man and Centaur. The bronze statuette,


only four-and-half inches high,
is one of the earliest Greek metal
statuettes surviving. It was probably
dedicated at a shrine perhaps as
early as the beginning of the eighth
century BC, but there is no record
of where it was found. The Centaur
is

shown

in the early style, a

man

from whose back a horse's body


emerges. The encounter is probably
hostile rather than friendly, as there

on the Centaur's body of the


end of what seems to have been a
sword in the man's right hand.
An anonymous Lapith and Centaur
seem the most likely identifications.
But the encounter could be given
are traces

a friendly interpretation, as in vases

of Chiron receiving the infant Jason.


Metropolitan Museum of Art.

ABOVE
The Parthenon was

BELOW

Athens
the 440s BC on the
built at

under Pericles in
site of an earlier temple destroyed
by the Persians. The Athenians used
some of the money paid as tribute
by the Greek islands for defence
against the Persians, and deliberately
constructed on the Acropolis
monumental display of the power
of Athens that had kept the Persians
out of the Aegean. The western
fa9ade of the Parthenon, shown here,
was that seen from the entrance porch.
a

The sculptures on the pediment


showed the conflict of Athena and
Poseidon for the land of Attica,
but only the figures of Cecrops
and one of his daughters are left on
the temple. The metopes below,

which

are

still

battle of the

in place,

showed

the

Athenians and Amazons.

The processional way from

the entrance

round to the eastern end of


the Parthenon, from which the shrine
was entered which housed the
huge gold and ivory statue of Athena.
led

Agrigento, the ancient Acragas, was

founded early in the sixth


century from Gela to extend Greek
control westwards on the south coast
of Sicily. After the defeat of the
Carthaginians in 480 BC an aggressive
democracy turned the acropolis into
a monumental display of power,
with a huge temple of Zeus
flanked by five temples along the city
wall. Of these. Temple F, seen here

from the north-east, is contemporary


with the Parthenon but older in style.

One

After the death of Cadmus, a second

foundation story

is

told of Thebes, in-

volving the divine twins

have

to

the

are

who seems

children of Antiope,
inally

Amphion and
They

sons of Zeus.

Zethus,

orig-

been the daughter of

Her sons

the local river Asopus.

are

and may have been some kind

was one of the daughters of Niobe,


whom Amphion had married. Niobe
line

dating from the beginning

century, of a series of
illustrations of Oedipus and the

Sphinx. Oedipus

bearded traveller

shown

mature
and the Sphinx is

is

as a

monumental. The scene suggests a


cemetery in which a traveller meditates
upon human life. Later, Oedipus
appears as a young man armed with
sword or spear, and the Sphinx becomes

more

lifelike.

Vatican.

to

the years lost to his mother's kin.

Antiope
daughter

to

said

is

of Nycteus,

have been the

who came

to

forcibly recovered

they are outside the heroic gen-

The only surviving descendant of the

fifth

said

is

to

Thebes.

is,

ealogies

earliest,

spared

of ancient cult figures in the city of

that

The

all

been

Thebes from Orchomenus. When she


became pregnant, she was expelled, and
in some versions she married Epopeus,
king of Sicyon, from whom she was

almost completely without descendants,

of the

daughter, however,

marry Neleus,
Pelias' brother. She became the mother
of the long-lived Nestor, who was given
have

likened herself

to,

or identified with,

two chiland six

Leto, who, she said, had but

dren, while she had six sons

daughters. Apollo and Artemis punished


this

presumption

by

killing

all

the

children of Niobe, 'and they lay nine

days in their gore, nor was there any

one to bury them; for Zeus had made


the

Eventually Niobe

people stones'.

too was turned into a stone, which

wept for

its

children:

it

was

still

later identi-

brother.

stance

He

by Lycus, Nycteus'

imprisoned her

had been reared by

Dirce

shepherds.

had intended for


Antiope, and her dead body was thrown
into a spring that took her name.
suffered the fate she

These complicated
ventions of
gedians,

fifth

who

tra-

habitually cast their plots

to a Theban cult similar to that in Corinth


which mourned the children of Medea.

three strains in

The

myth which

planter,

stories are the in-

century Athenian

into the pattern of the

stones suggest a stone circle, or a

hated

and eventually proposed to kill her


by tying her to the horns of a wild bull
in a Dionysiac orgy on Cithaeron. From
this fate she was rescued by the twins
she had earlier exposed there, who
her,

with one on Mount Sipylus in Lydia,


and Niobe was made daughter of Tantalus. But the story originally belonged
fied

at the in-

who

of his wife Dirce,

myth of

the sup-

may
The
Greek mythology come

elements of which they

have already attached to the

stories.

out very clearly in this story the simple


:

explains a ritual,

its

literary

misapplication of the story of Deucalion,

elaboration with the addition of other

who made

ritual elements, and the genealogies


which connected the subjects of different

flood.

people from stones after the

The dripping

of water magic.

stone

may

be a piece

myths.
87

The best known features of the story


Amphion and Zethus come from the
literary tradition. Amphion the musician
of

contrasted with Zethus the farmer


and warrior, the former of course being
preferred by the poets, who added the
Orphic detail that Amphion fortified
Thebes by charming the stones with his
lyre. More primitive legends were attached to places: Dionysus punished
Antiope for the death of his devotee,
Dirce, and sent her mad to Phocis where
she was buried. The tomb of her sons
was at Thebes, and in the spring the
Phocians tried to steal earth from it and
sprinkle it on Antiope's tomb, to make
their crops good and harm those of
Thebes. A fertility cult lies behind this
survival; but it may not have been originally attached to Amphion and Zethus
and their mother.
is

great

Theban dynasty was that of


which Oedipus be-

longed. Labdacus, founder of the

only

artificially

Punishment of Niobe. This masterpiece


of the severe classic style of painting
about 460 BC has given its name
Niobid painter. The terrifying
and unpitying figures of Artemis
and Apollo dominate the scene as they
to the

complete the slaughter of the sons


and daughters of Niobe, who dared
to compare herself with Leto. Louvre.

of one of the

line,

linked to the house

of Cadmus, but his mother


ter

and parricide
which may have been absent in its original form. For the Oedipus story is
created by combining the two forms of
create a motif of incest

story

of the supplanter.

In one,

who

performs

is

the stranger

the exploit of defeating the Sphinx and


is

thus chosen to marry the queen (or

the

king's

kingdom

daughter)

and

in the other, he

is

inherit

the

the divinely

begotten grandson, the grand-daughter's

husband who becomes king. It is the


combination of the two which gives
the situation of Oedipus its particular

is

The

horror.

incest

motif

is

normally

where he carried

and that of parricide is disguised


by making the child the son of a god,
the murdered father a grandfather or
uncle, and the murder itself no more
than an accident.
When Oedipus discovered he had
killed his father and married his mother,
Jocasta committed suicide and Oedipus

son while teaching him to

blinded himself. His wife's brother, that

'L'.

Laius, Oedipus' father,

is

drive a chariot. Pelops' curses were the

The

cause of the fate of the Labdacids.

homosexuality

theme

must

be

late:

Laius behaves as a typical supplanter,

BOTTOM

possible to see how at some time


myth of Oedipus was modified to

It is

the

the daugh-

sent into exile to Elis,


off Pelops'

bore him two sons and two

Sown men. In all Theban

myths the inheritance in the female line


is much clearer than it is in any other
stories, perhaps because the myths are
older. Nycteus and Lycus, and Amphion
and Zethus, are fitted in as regents or
usurpers, Nycteus sometimes as one of
the Sown men himself. Labdacus has
no mythology and may be only a cipher:
his name suggests the Greek letter
lambda,

who

daughters.

Oedipus

the Labdacids, to

is

casta,

the

Oedipus
The

manhood, Oedipus was taunted by a


drunk with not being the true son of his
father, and himself went to the oracle at
Delphi for information, only to be told
that he would marry his mother and kill
his father. Resolved never to return to
Corinth, he set out for Thebes. He was
forced from the road by an old man in
a waggon, whom he killed. He found
Thebes beset by the Sphinx (the Strangler) whose riddle he was able to solve,
becoming king in place of Laius, who
had been killed by robbers on a journey.
Oedipus then married the queen, Joto

Pelops,

and

again

while

absent,

important figure in matrilinear

societies,

Thebes until Oedipus' sons,


Eteocles and Polynices, came of age,

ruled in

when

they

kingship, as

quarrelled

over the joint

they were twins. Oedipus

Oedipus slaying the Sphinx.

like

In this late fifth century


treatment of the myth by one of the
circle of the painter Midias, Oedipus
is shown in the act of killing the
Sphinx. She crouches before him
exposing her neck for the coup de grace,
as he leaps upon her with a hoplite
spear. Beside the column

driving a chariot, the same fate himself.

cursed them and went to Athens, where

The oracle warned Laius


would die at the hands of his

against the

Apollo holding his bay.


presiding over the fate of Oedipus,
whom he sent to Thebes by his

sits

British

Museum.

suffers,

that

he

'Swell-

blem on

But the child was found by

shepherds of the childless king of Corinth, Polybus,


his

own and

foot',

who

called

reared the child as

him Oedipus,

because of his mutilation.

defended the frontier

Grown

Cithaeron with his feet pinned together


a spike.

his buried corpse

Thebans who had rejected


him. Polynices went into exile to Argos,
where he married the daughter of Adrasstus the king. Adrastus had been told
to yoke his daughters to the lion and the
boar, and he recognized in Polynices
the lion. For he bore that Theban em-

son: in

consequence, his child was exposed on

by

if

his shield.

|
"

The Seven against Thebes

Atalanta's

son Parthenopaeus

joined the attack

on Thebes,

as

also

an Ar-

oracular

hero

when Zeus opened

cleft in the earth

with

thunderbolt be-

join the attack because he

him as he fled from Thebes defeatand he vanished down it. In the


fifth century the Thebans transferred
the cult to the border town of Oropus,
of which they disputed possession with

Mycenae and Thebes. Hesiod says that


some of the heroes died at Thebes

like so

the Athenians, in order that the oracular

fighting for the sheep of Oedipus. In

Oedipus, and be the cause of his death

was bribed with the


necklace of Harmonia and she sent her
husband to his death. In fact, Amphiaraus was probably bound by the rule of

brought upon him by

a matrilinear society to follow Adrastus

This

is

the occasion of the next great

communal
two

the

and

enterprise of the Heroic Age,

on Thebes by

attacks

their sons. It

the Seven

seems to be genuine

saga, reflecting political rivalry

the epic tradition the

been

have

and the

last evil

Furies

the

made

in

invoked

between

may

first

attack

the

lifetime

by

his

of

mother's

was led from Argos in the


interests of a Theban pretender. But
there was a Calydonian contingent which
attack

links this

communal

exploit with that

of the Calydonian Boar hunt. Tydeus,

son of Oeneus, was also in


killing

some

close

male

exile for

relative.

He

married the other daughter of Adrastus


for

on

his shield

was emblazoned the

all late

Roman

carving

is

equally

and many later


sarcophagi can be dreary and fussy.
But this alabaster urn from Chiusi,
which is plausibly identified as the
dying Eteocles and Polynices, combines
successful as art,

two

but
reversed postures, in a scene of
the

ed,

seer

Oecles, father of the reluctant

Amphiaraus, was also shown in


Amphiaraus was reluctant to

Arcadia.

knew that,
many of these communal enterit was bound to fail.
But his

prises,

wife,

figures, in identical

hero might protect the frontier.


All the Seven died except Adrastus,

Eriphyle,

who was

his wife's brother.

way to Thebes the Seven


founded the Isthmian games, in honour
of Opheltes Archemorus, the Corinthian
king's infant son, devoured by a serpent
when his nurse showed the Seven a
spring. His name suggests that he was
himself a snake, Ruler of Death, and
their

the object of a local cult.

course,

commemorate

Games, of

dead

man

as

well as selecting his supplanter.

Amphiaraus

Calydonian Boar.

Not

fore

tomb of

On

curse.

The

cadian rather than a Boeotian, and the

also received cult as an

who

escaped on his magic horse Arion.


Tydeus was invited alone into Thebes,
beat them all at athletic contests, and
then slew all but one of a fifty-man
ambush on the way back. This suggests
an exploit, like that of Bellerophon. In
the attack of the Seven, which the Thebans repulsed by sacrificing the son of
king Creon, Tydeus was fatally wounded
by Melanippus, who was also killed.
Athena would have made Tydeus immortal, but he disgusted her by eating
the brains of his dead adversary before
he died, an act of ritual cannibahsm
which may originally have been the very
means of immortality.

tremendous emotional power, which


is enhanced by the presence of the
winged figure (possibly the curse of
Oedipus) staring directly out

the pathos of brother killing brother

their frequent civil wars,

fought

with almost Byzantine intensity.

largely by a professional

army which

In earlier ancient accounts, it is the


impiety of the brothers, especially

often contained relatives,

of Polynices, that

is

stressed

here

much stronger. It was a theme


known to the Roman experience from

is

who found

themselves on opposite sides.


Museo Archaeologico, Florence.

"'^'^^^^!RS|H
fought his brother

Polynices

Ete-

vowed

the fairest of the spoils. This

common

one of the seven gates of Thebes.


Both were killed, but Polynices was left
to rot unburied on the orders of Creon.
Antigone disobeyed his orders, for her
brother Polynices was more important
to her than husband or child would
have been. Antigone was walled up in
a cave to die without polluting her
killers: Creon's son died with her, for

looks like a variant of the

love.

not existed

the deed, the

islands

at the

ocles at

The Theban

victory had been

the Greeks called a

which

like

Cadmean

was too

a Pyrrhic victor\'

costly to the winners.

Ten

what

victory,

years later

Seven succeeded in
restoring Thersander, son of Polynices.
This time victory was promised them
under the leadership of Alcmaeon, son
of Amphiaraus, who defeated the Thebans in a pitched battle at GUsas where
of the

sons

the

their

tombs were shown. Then

Tiresias

motif of the home-comer's vow. Alcmae-

home and avenged

on returned

his

by kiUing his mother,


for which the Furies drove him mad.
Exile to Psophis, with marriage to the
death

father's

daughter,

king's

not

did

him:

cure

instead, the earth refused to bear fruit.

Finally he settled

on

of the river Achelous. This

proach

had

a land that

when he did
freshly laid down

mouth
ap-

literal

found also in the story of the


birth of Apollo and Artemis on Delos.
Alcmaeon married the river's daughter, CaUirhoe, who wanted the necklace
of Harmonia which Alcmaeon had given
is

He

to Arsinoe.

asked for

it

back, pre-

tending he was going to dedicate

it

at

Delphi, but his wife's brothers discovered the deception and murdered him.

advised them to abandon Thebes, and

Callirhoe

waggons and joined


the tribe of the Illyrians to which Cadmus
and Harmonia had gone before.
Tiresias, the Theban prophet, appears
in every Greek tragedy set in Thebes,

father may have been Zeus,


might at once become full grown to
avenge Alcmaeon's death. This they did,
and took the necklace at last to Delphi.
There are early and late elements in
this story, which was dramatised by both
Sophocles and Euripides. The Delphic
oracle is late. But the swift-growing
children are giants like Otus and Ephialtes, and the role of the wife's brother
belongs to matriUnear society. But ma-

they went out in

from the Bacchae to the Antigone. He


was already famous enough for Odysseus
to

make

but

special,

unnecessary',

journey to Hades to get from him in-

formation which Circe also gave him:


for he

was the only man

to retain his

He was
nymph's son, given the gift of prophecy
when he was bhnded for seeing Athena
naked, a legend that may have been
deliberately modelled on that of Actamong

intelligence

the dead.

aeon.

In what

probably the earUer legend

is

sons,

tricide

is

in

iety',

then prayed that her infant

whose

the crime of a patriarchal soc-

which

a wife's infidelity

The stories of the two great matriAlcmaeon and Orestes, although


they may have influenced one another,
may,

like

the

This enabled him to

rilinear

quarrel

settle

man enjoys

in

stories

strive for possession

between Zeus and Hera by testifying


from personal experience that in love

which gods

of a land,

reflect

the conflict between patriarchal and mat-

rituals

societies and
and customs.

their

respective

only a tenth of the woman's

pleasure. This assertion, part of a patriarchal societ}''s resentment

and envy of

women,

so angered Hera by

lation of

women's

its

secrets that in

reve-

revenge

The

sixth century temple

Selinus stood

Only the north


been rebuilt:

finally

when Thebes

was evacuated. His daughter was sent


which the Argives had

to Delphi, to

it

side of the temple has


collapsed early in

when Selinus was


village. The photograph
from the inside. The
entrance was to the right, and the
surviving metopes were on its fagade.
the Christian era,

died

at

the edge of the sea, to the west


of the ancient port in the estuary.

or else he saw and disturbed the same

Tiresias

on the Acropolis on

she turned Tiresias back into a man,

snakes again.

to

cides,

saw and disturbed two snakes


coupling, and was turned into a woman.
Tiresias

is

be punished with death.

decayed

shows

it

^yiiaS

'^'
1

The third metope from the temple


of Hera at Selinus shows Heracles
about to kill the Amazon Queen
Hippolyta. She had promised to yield
him her girdle willingly, but Hera
provoked the other Amazons into
92

an attack. The ambiguities of love


and death contained in this legend
fascinated the artists of the Periclean
period. Heracles uses his lion skin
as a shield to ward off the axe blows
of the Amazon, and seizes her oriental

ii

jiiM.

,-

i rf -rt^nBigai

''^' ?::.^iV^^:helmet as he prepares the coup de grace


with his club (now lost). Museo
Nazionale, Palermo.

HERACL]

The

story of Heracles

another that

is

connects Thebes and Argos. But this


is

because a Tirynthian hero, a descend-

ant of Perseus in the junior line and

Mycenae, has been

vassal of the lord of


identified

with

Theban hero

Alcaeus, 'Mighty'.

To

his

Amphitryon killed him in an 'accident':


his club bounced off the horns of a
charging cow. So Amphitryon went to
Thebes and the fourth son of Perseus,
Eurystheus, took over Mycenae.
In Thebes, too, Amphitryon behaved

called

story have

man

he deliv-

like a typical supplanter. First

of

ered the land from a monstrous vixen

insatiable appetites, capable of fathering

which could never be caught. It had


been sent by Dionysus and children had
to be exposed to it. Amphitryon sent

been added
fifty

folk-tales of a strong

sons in a night.

against

Amphitryon
Amphitryon, Heracles'
from Argos to Thebes in
of

father,

went

a typical story

Perseus' grand-daughter Hip-

exile.

it

wonderful hound

like that

with which Phylacus guarded his


It

never failed of

gods resolved

cattle.

quarry, and the

its

this folk-tale

dilemma by

turning them both to stone, probably

pothoe, 'Swift Mare', was carried off

a pair of standing stones.

by Poseidon and bore him Pterelaus,


king of the Teleboans, whom his father

against the Teleboans, because Alcmena,

made immortal by putting his external


soul into a golden hair on his head.
he was blond

was indistinguishable
from the rest, and it is clear that only
his daughter knew which one it was.
If

In the

it

genealogies, Poseidon's son

called Taphius, but he

is

inserted only

is

Then Amphitryon resumed


with proper matrilinear
death

of her

the previous war.

Comaetho

fell in

war

piety, refused to

yield her virginity until he

the

the

had avenged

brothers,

killed

Pterelaus'

daughter

love with

in

Amphitryon

and killed her father by pulhng out the


golden hair to which her name refers

By

Amphi-

to identify the Teleboans with an exist-

(come

ing tribe: the golden hair shows that

tryon should have married her: instead,

Pterelaus

was

originally the god's son.

Pterelaus' sons claimed


their

mother's

went off to
kingdom, his

uncle,

fight

good

all

the rules

patriarchal hero, he killed

Reverse of Syracusan gold loo

litra

piece, 590-380 BC. Heracles

wrestles with the

Nemean

lion

Mycenae from

her for her treachery and returned to

who

Alcmena. But he found that he had been


anticipated by Zeus, who had taken his
form and prolonged the night to the
length of three to beget the mighty
Heracles. Amphitryon then begot the

350 BC. In the fourth


century the youthful Heracles,
resting after a labour, was replaced on
coins by the child strangling the snakes

mortal twin, Iphicles.

sent against

Electryon,

them.

He

left

his

and his daughter


to his wife's brother Amphitryon, making him swear to respect Alcmena's
virginity. But when Electryon got back
cattle

like a

hair).

whose skin he
BOTTOM

later

wore.

Reverse of stater from Croton about

him by Hera.

Heracles was eventually admitted to

Birth of Heracles

Olympus and became

When

Heracles was to be born, Zeus

vowed

that the next Perseid

born should

Mycenae, intending it to be Heracles. But Hera sent Ilithyia, who presided


over childbirth, to stop the birth by
rule

sitting cross-legged, a

common

piece of

though only

the object of cult,

rarely as a god, mostly as

a kind of very superior hero.

told to

the developed legend she

month child. Ilithyia


did not go away until somebody gave
a cry of joy as if Alcmena had been de-

able enemy. Zeus lulled

which she then was. This story


was told to explain how it was that the
mighty Heracles had to serve Eurystheus,
just as the compUcated series of perhaps
traditional tales about Amphitryon were
used to get Heracles born in Thebes in

thrust

the period after the death of Oedipus.

cles strangled

livered,

But Heracles' position may


flect

really

is

his implac-

him in relays, though he thought


was always the same one. He also

in to
it

won

Creon's daughter, as a reward for

Thebans from

delivering the

a tribute

has the appearance of a late Alexandrian

went mad and killed his children and


so was sent to perform Labours for
Eurystheus in penance. Thus again a
variation on a traditional theme was

myth. Hera also sent snakes to the cradle

used to get Heracles back to Argos.

him

spilling her milk

off",

the firmament as the Milky

of the twins: Iphicles

is

over

Way. This

shown on

vase painting as cowering, while Hera-

The

exploits of Heracles

Heracles' earliest exploits are located at

in details

on the

figures,

was

discovered about 530 bc. Around


510 both painter Euphronius and
potter Cachrylion signed a cup on the
outside of which Heracles' exploit
against

Geryon

having used his

is

shown. Heracles,

bow

But Alcmena,
originally a

name

who was
or

title

probably

of a mother-

goddess, remained located at Thebes,

them.

BELOW RIGHT

amphora by

sons in one night

daughters of Thespius.

piece of historical information. But he

Heracles and the cattle of Geryon.


The technique of red-figured painting,
which allowed the artist to put

of the great master


Exekias, about 560 bc, Heracles is
attacking the Stymphalian birds
with a sling. British Museum.

fifty

and Hermes put Heracles to her breast:


but he bit it and awoke her, and she

BELOW LEFT

a predecessor

fifty

He
won one of them. Thespius fed the others
on the

paid to Orchomenus, perhaps a genuine

Heracles and the Stymphalian birds.


Heracles was always one of the most
popular subjects of Attic vase painting,
and especially so in the sixth century,
when Athens was still strongly
aristocratic. In this

whose skin he always

wore, and begot

sleep,

Hera to

re-

the political fact that Tiryns was

subordinate to Mvcenae.

legend

show how he was prepared


for this fate in infancy. At the same time
it brings him into a fihal relation with
Hera, whose name he bears, though in

was

magic, until Sthenelus' wife bore Eurystheus as a seven

Thebes. At eighteen he killed the lion

of Cithaeron,

to kill the

where two curious legends were told


about her. One tells how Amphitryon

condemned her

to be burnt to death for

three-headed hound and one of the


bodies of Geryon, advances with his
club on the other two. Geryon looks

two shield
winged pig

like three hoplites in line

emblems can be

seen, a

and an octopus. Athena, with the

gorgon on her

shield, hastens to his

aid, leaving lolaus

and the wounded

Eurytion in reserve. Antikensammlungen,


Munich.

her supposed infidelity

when he was

the hydra,

fighting the Teleboans.

But Zeus ex-

of which was replaced by two

which had nine heads, each

when

it

tinguished the pyre with a miraculous

was cut

shower of

of lolaus, but only because Hera sent

rain,

perhaps originally a

piece of rain magic.

how Hermes
when she was

tells

bier

ed

The other legend

stole

her from the

dead, and substitut-

stone which the

Thebans rever-

enced, while Zeus took her to the Isles

of the Blessed. This


logical

myth,

is

the

partly

feeling that the

partly an aetioresult

of a

mother of Heracles de-

served special treatment.

Almost
iants

of the single exploit

by which

The

the hero vanquishes a monster.


five are all localised in the

the

Nemean

first

Peloponnese

Lernaean hydra,

lion, the

the Ceryneian hind with

its

golden horns,

the Erymanthian boar, and the Stym-

phalian birds.

To

all

of these various

other legends are attached.

To

deal with

Heracles and the Centaurs. The city


of Assos occupies an impregnable
site on the mainland of Asia Minor
opposite the island of Lesbos, and
was the first site ever to be excavated
by the American Institute of
Archaeology.
late sixth century
temple was found there. Following
Ionian practice, the architrave
immediately above the columns was
sculptured as well as the metopes,
while the pediment was left
bare. The hard volcanic stone partly
accounts for the primitive appearance
of this relief, which shows Heracles
with his bow driving off the Centaurs.
While seeking the Erymanthian
boar he lodged in Arcadia with
Pholus, seen on the left with a cup
of the wine which he specially

opened for Heracles. The wine


maddened the Centaurs, and they
attacked Heracles. Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of the Archeological
Institute of

America.

RIGHT
Heracles bringing Cerberus from the
underworld. The type of the youthful

Heracles was

known

as early as the

end of the sixth century, and appears


in this plate by Paseas, who has simply
appplied to the circular area at his
disposal part of a frieze of figures,
bottom with a palmette.
Aided by Hermes, who conducts men

filling the

to the underworld and is identified


by the caduceus and hat, Heracles,

waving his bow and dressed in an


apparently headless lion skin, leads up
Cerberus. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,
Pierce Fund.

Heracles enlisted the help

a crab to bite his heel

cannot fight two'

as

and 'even Heracles


the Greek proverb

lolaus seared the roots with

said.

head was cut

as each

fire

off.

With the hydra's poison Heracles


anointed the arrows of the

which, exceptionally for

bow

a hero,

drove

tra-

With these arrows he


the drunken Centaurs with

club.

off

whom

with

he was

normally armed and not with the


ditional

Heracles' Labours are var-

all

off,

he lodged

when fetching the


wounded Chiron,

boar.

He

who

traded his immortality with

accidentally

tal).

The

castanets

birds

seem to be immor-

he scared with brazen

made by Hephaestus.

Some of

single exploits.

He overcame

the

Cretan Bull, a sacred animal, which was


either that

which

carried

Europa or one

sent out of the sea by Poseidon.

He

also

tamed the man-eating Mares of Diomede


of Thrace, captured the Cattle of Geryon,
and even brought up the three-headed
dog Cerberus from Hades. Diomede was
a son of Ares, and so might be expected
to have used his mares to race the suitors
of his daughters, and then to tear them
apart, possibly in honour of Dionysus.
This motif has been suppressed in the
interests of Heracles. But a son of Hermes was dragged to death by the mares
when Heracles left them with him.

the

Titan Prometheus (another late legend,


for Titans normally

also

Heracles' other Labours are

The quests of Heracles


The

other Labours are quests, which

took

Heracles

afield

and even outside the world of

progressively

further

men. One of the Peloponnesian Labours


may have started as a quest, the cleansing of the cowsheds of Augeas, which
Heracles accomplished by diverting a
river. For Augeas in some versions was
the child of the

Sun and the

task

is

of

the type of impossible ones which have

win the Magician's


it would be
done for him by animals which he had
befriended. More prosaically, the Labour
to be performed to

daughter. In a fairy tale

has elements of a simple cattle

So has that of the


three-bodied giant.

raid.

Geryon, the
But he lived beyond

Cattle of

Ocean, on which Heracles sailed in the


Sun's Golden Bowl. He got the Bowl
by threatening to shoot the Sun with
his arrows,

swamp

it,

and when Ocean

tried to

he threatened him too. These

are the acts of the

myth, and the

god

cattle,

in a succession

even

if originally

those of the Sun, are not entirely in

though ApoUodorus solemnly has

place,

Bowl
them back.
slightly more traditional quest is

Heracles embark them too in the


to bring

that for the Girdle of Hippolyta, the

Amazon Queen, who


willingly. It

yielded

was given

it

to

him

to Hippolyta

by

Ares because of the warlike prowess of


the Ama2ons, who lived without men

and met

their neighbours only

year for procreation.

once a

They reared only

the girls, cutting off the right breast so


that

it

should not get in the way

when

they drew the bow-string or threw the


spear,

detail usually

ignored in

RIGHT
Heracles and the Golden Apples
of the Hesperides. The sculptured
metopes of the early fifth century
temple of Zeus at Olympia were not
under the pediment, but over the
porches in front of and behind the

number, they seem


Twelve Labours
of Heracles, founder of the Olympian
games and the great hero of the
Dorians, who developed the games
shrine.

Twelve

to have

shown

in

the

during the eighth century. Heracles did


not get the Golden Apples of the
Hesperides himself. The giant Atlas
got them for him wliile Heracles
supported the vault of heaven on a
cushion. Athena, shown here as a
severe maiden, helped him, taking
the weight with her left hand. At this
period, the hero is clearly inferior
to the gods. Archaeological Museum,
Olympia.
96

art.

Another metope

irrom the late sixth

upside down on a pole over his


shoulders. In that position they had
good view of his hairy rump
and they recognised
the black bottom of which their
mother had warned them to beware.

century temple C at SeUnus shows


Heracles with the two Cercopes.

These mischievous monkey men stole


bow as he slept on a rock
at Thermopylae. But when he woke,
he caught them and hung them

Museo

Heracles'

Nazionale, Palermo.

aMp-**.

m^:!^'

tm^l

\^^l'

.S*a>3!irt,^iji>i

silver relief found at Perugia, which


formed part of the decoration of a
chariot ornamented with plaques of
bronze and silver. It was made in Ionia,

possibly at Clazomenae, in the sixth


century, and

extent of

its

journey illustrates the

Greek contacts with

Etruria,

and

manufacture for a
perhaps unlikely that
the chariot was exported as well. The
Amazons (if they are indeed female
since the hair is little longer and the
bust no more developed than that of
many undoubtedly male statues) on
their ability to

market, since

it is

their rearing horses are an appropriate

decoration for a war chariot. The righthand warrior appears to be spearing


the fallen figure
is

on

the ground,

which

also being trodden by the horses.

British

Museum.

Heracles and the tripod of Delphi. One


of the earliest surviving vases in the
red-figure technique, by the Andocides

shows the fight between


Apollo and Heracles for the tripod
of Delphi. When Heracles killed
the son of Eurytus, who refused him
his daughter, he went to Delphi to be
painter,

purified.

When

the Pythia, the

priestess, refused, Heracles stole the

tripod and carried

it off with the


approval of Athena. Staatliche
Museen, Antikenabteilung, Berlin.

CENTRE
Heracles and the Erymanthian boar.
Heracles is
presenting the boar head down to
a completely terrified Eurystheus who
cowers in a huge pithos buried almost

neck

to the

in the earth.

Athena on one

side stretches

out her left hand, beautifully


extending the aegis fringed with
snakes. On the other side a bearded
lolaus holds the club (the bow and
arrows are on Heracles' back).
British

Museum.

RIGHT
Heracles with his family. The
decorations on oil-flasks are often
either sepulchral or domestic, reflecting
their two chief uses. The genre scene
of the son reaching out for his father
from his mother's lap is given piquancy
by its application to Heracles, not
the most domestic of heroes. He is resting
on his club with his bow probably
unstrung and strapped to the quiver.
His wife Deianeira holds their son
Hyllus, who survived Heracles to
become the ancestor of the Dorians.

Ashmolean Museum.

Whatever
tal

their origin in beardless orien-

warriors, the

Amazons

male

are a

fantasy of role reversal, and are extremely

popular in

art.

In another legend, Heracles served

Omphale,

There

were

originally

ten,

all

of

which, including the contests with mon-

much

of the quest about

sters,

have

them

that Heracles brings

back

to

this

Eurystheus,

all

who

fetch a

in

Apples

which time he wore women's

dress,

perhaps to deceive the ghost. The epi-

Amazons looks like a


variant of this. It may have been borrowed from the myth of Theseus, who
sode with the

plays an important part in the

Hera

is

war

that

said to

Little is

made of the Labour,

except to provide an opportunity for


Heracles' visits to Troy, and to

make

up the canonical number of Labours.

terror in a brazen pot

of the Hesperides, perhaps

He made

This myth

is

the origin of

from which,
wreathed with the snake that guarded
the

pillars

of Heracles,

the apples, the dollar sign

is

derived.

They were transferred to the story of


Geryon, which was located in Spain,
where the symbol was often used on
coins.

After this Heracles went to Hades


to bring back the

dog Cerberus, whose


Geryon also,

three heads suggest that

Life with the

with his three bodies,

For a moment

too.

who

it

he would

pad and return, the motif of the

Trickster.

Water of

Heracles plays the part of the giant

Atlas take

a trick, saying that

sinister implications.

variant of the

same

the apples.

cowers

way round.

years in expiation for a murder, during

him

back by

have stirred up, though


such borrowings are usually the other

Lydian Queen, for three

heaven and earth, taking over


burden from Atlas, who fetched

the objects

which he buries in
the earth. Later the canon was made up
to twelve by the addition of two more
which are much more other-wordly.
Eurystheus is said to have rejected two
of the Labours, the Cowsheds of Augeas
and the Lernean hydra, the one because
it was done for pay and the other because Heracles had help.
First Heracles was sent for the Golden

that

bears

the

really lived there

number of Greek

god Dionysus, 'harrow

heroes, and
hell' in this

The story seems to contain a


number of themes: the Quest for the

way.

Death and Resurrection of the Hero, and the Return of the


Water of

Life, the

Tripod. This suggests that Apollo

may

have been originally involved in some


way in the contest for the daughter of
Eurytus,

who

was, like him, an archer.

the context of Heracles' service

like

Otus and Ephialtes, they have been

transferred to
in order to

the

time of the heroes

make use of

early motif survives.

Heracles.

One

There was a herb

which would make the Giants completely


immortal (obviously the Herb of Life):
but Zeus forbade Sun and Moon to

Girl in the Spring, the last appearing

This

in the story of Alcestis.

the traditional pattern of the sup-

with Omphale, which provides also the


occasion for his second visit to Troy,
where his role, to be discussed with the

been

other Trojan stories, was originally that

stop Earth getting

of a supplanter.

The succession myth and the myth


of the supplanter are in fact the same
story appearing in a divine and in a

Heracles' other adventures are closer


to

planter,

suggesting that he

identified with a
First

has

number of local

heroes.

is

he gave his wife Megara to lolaus,

his assistant,

and wooed

lole,

daughter

The

battle of the

gods and giants

of Eurytus, beating her father at archery.

Eurytus refused to pay up, on the


reasonable grounds that Heracles might

On

go mad again and

fight

When

kill his

children, Hera-

son and went to


Delphi to be purified. There he was
involved in a fight with Apollo over the
cles killed

Eurytus'

his return from Troy, Heracles was

co-opted as the gods' Helper in their

with the Giants,

who

defeated only by a mortal.

could be

The

Giants,

born of Earth by the blood of Uranus,


belong to the succession myth. But,

shine,

human

and picked the herb himself,

context.

to

it.

The human may have

impersonated the god, as many heroes


are exphcitly punished for doing. If so,
the

myth originated

in ritual,

though

continued to be told because of the


psychological satisfaction it provided.
it

Elements of

it

were therefore added to

other

mythical

stories,

show

a tendency to

typal

pattern.

of which

all

into that arche-

fall

seems very possible


was at

It

that such a ritual of succession

some time

carried out at least at

some

places in Greece.

Two

of the Giants perform deeds

Alcyoneus

that recur in other myths:

of the Sun, and Por-

stole the cattle

They were
on the Phlegraean plains in
Thessaly, near Mount Olympus. But

phyrion

tried to rape Hera.

defeated

Heracles'

position

ambiguous,

is

cause at Pylos, where he slew

be-

all

the

descendants of Neleus except Nestor,

he fought with the

Hades with

wounding

gods,

his arrows, hitting

Hera in

her right breast, and gashing Ares in

ABOVE

BELOW

Heracles in the garden of the


Hesperides. The Athenian vase painter
Midias, at the end of the fifth century,
decorated a water pot

This late (about 410 Bc) and vigorous


painting of Heracles rescuing Deianeira
from the Centaur Nessus is an exact
copy of a vase signed by both potter

with two bands,


one on the shoulder and one below
the handle. In the centre of the

and

Heracles is sitting on his lion


a rock in the garden of the
Hesperides. He is looking at one
of them named Lipara, 'shining', who
already holds an apple. Behind Heracles
latter

skin

is

on

his squire lolaus,

is full

and the garden

of Argonauts (not shown

in this detail). British

Museum.

the thigh. Pylos seems to have been an

painter, Erginus

and

Aristophanes. In earlier
versions Heracles has the lion skin,
but he is always armed with the club,

though

in the literary tradition

he used his arrows, the poison from


which turned Nessus' blood into the
charm that caused Heracles'

Museum

of Fine Arts,
Boston, Pierce Fund.
death.

entrance to the Underworld, but other-

wise Heracles

is

himself behaving like

a Giant.

But most of his opponents are Giants,


keep on turning up in his stories.
of the most famous is Antaeus,
regained his strength when he
touched his mother, the Earth, and was

who
One
who

dealt with by being held in the air until

he died.

A pair

Poseidon,

of divine twins, sons of

were

turned

into

two-

He also
who prac-

bodied giant called 'the MoUone'.

overthrew an Egyptian king


tised

human

and

sacrifice

tried

it

on

Heracles.

The death of Heracles


Finally Heracles himself

the hands of a

met

woman and

his fate, at

dead man.

He wrestled with the river Achelous,


who took the form of a bull-headed
snake, for the

hand of Deianeira. But

he took her into exile because he com-

murder at
was said to be that of a
cup-bearer, but must have been origmitted another 'accidental'
the

wedding

it

inally the father

the

of the bride.

centaur Nessus

On the way

carried

Deianeira

across a river and then tried to rape her.

Heracles killed

him with

his

poisoned

arrows, but, before he died, he gave

Deianeira a charm to keep her husband's


love.

She used

it

when

Heracles sacked

the city of Eurytus and sent back lole

But Nessus' charm, his blood


with which she was to anoint a garment
as his prize.

(the Shirt of Nessus),

was

in fact a poi-

The decoration of

the pediment

Greelc temple presented a number


of problems to the sculptor who
wished to create a unified scheme.

of

the greatest was how to


the two sides where they slope to a
narrow point. In the old Athena temple,

One of
fill

associated with the tyrant Pisistratus

and dating probably from about


560 BC, these spaces were filled by
monstrous figures, which could
easily be adapted to any area.
At one end Heracles wrestled with
a Triton. At the other appeared this
three-bodied serpent man with wings.
Benevolent though he looks, such
three-bodied figures are in
mythology almost always hostile,
and he could possibly be another

opponent of Heracles, even Geryon


himself. Acropolis

BELOW
Medea and

Museum, Athens.

son which burned him up, similar to


that

which Medea gave

to Jason's in-

tended bride. Like

that,

of the

pyre

equivalent

it

is

magic

upon which

and consenting
to his fate, immolated himself on
Mount Oeta. He handed on to the man
who Ht the pyre his magic bow and
arrows which were the symbols of his

Heracles,

recognising

sovereignty.

There

a folk-tale motif in this story

is

partly exphcit

and partly

implicit. It

was
no

Heracles' fate to die at the hands of

man

living, a hteral ambiguity. It

may

have originally meant at the hands of


the supplanter who brought the Water

Herb of

from the land of the


it means at the
hand of a dead man. Deianeira's willingness to employ the charm may have
been similarly explained if Nessus told
her that, when it was used, Heracles
would never love another woman.
The death of all heroes may once
have meant their immortality. In Heracles the theme is made explicit, and he
ascends to Olympus from the pyre in the
form of an eagle, the bird of Zeus whose
son he was. There he was reconciled
or

Life

dead. But in the story

to Hera, possibly his original mother,

and given eternal youth, Hebe, the cupbearer of the gods, to wife. But on earth
he never received divine honours, only
those paid to heroes. In Greek theology
the race of gods and the race of men,

though born of
always
mortal

separate,

who

tried

of his mortality.

were
and woe betide any
to overstep the bounds

a single mother,

boiling cauldron, beneath which


Pelias.

The

Jason adds a brand to the

later

Athenian black-figure vase painters,


like the Leagros group of 530-510 bc,
had to compete with red figure, not
entirely successfully. This crowded
scene shows Medea at the start of
her proof to Pelias that she can
rejuvenate him.

The ram

is

in the

Medea

fire.

aged
one of whose daughters watches
The ram became a lamb.
But when his daughters performed
to the left looks at the

Pelias,

in concern.

on Pelias, he only
became immortal perhaps, but
the operation

certainly dead. British

Museum.

ATHEN

Geographically,

eastward-

the

Attica,

facing peninsula in mainland

Greece,

gave

to the three daughters of Ce-

it

crops forbidding them to open


so,

communications between Boeotia and


the Peloponnese, which passes through
Corinth. Though Athens was a Myce-

The

that

naean settlement, the isolation of Attica,

Greeks.

which also preserved it from disturbance,

the

does not even

is

of Greece.

important regions

less

lie

on the main

It

of

reflected in the comparative paucity

of Attic mythology. The


tance of Athens was based
Its

line

harbour, the Piraeus,

later

on
is

impor-

sea power.

ideally situ-

it.

Two

were driven mad by the


sight of a serpent in the chest, and hurled
themselves down from the Acropolis.
of them did

has always been one of the poorer and

idea

the

Athena should bear

virgin

goddess

was repug-

a child

nant to the developed theology of the

The

story

is

essentially that of

of Dionysus,

nurses

though the

Athenian myth comes close to the orig-

which the divine


was born of the goddess without

inal state of affairs in

child

a father.

ated for a sea port trading not only with


Birth of Erichthonius. Gaia, 'Earth',

the Black Sea, but also with the south

baby to Athena while Nike,


'Victory', holds out the swaddling
band. Zeus holding a stylised
thunderbolt looks on, supported by
a girl over whose head is written
'Oinanthe is beautiful'. She is probably
one of the daughters of Cecrops,
who took over the infant Erichthonius.
The scene shows that Erichthonius
was originally the son of the mothergoddess, a role Athena lost at Athens,
where she remained 'nurse of

and east. It is no accident, then, that


Athenian mythology is closely linked
with that of Crete. As Schhemann
followed Homer to Troy and to Mycenae, so Sir Arthur Evans was led by
the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
to discover the centre of the great Mi-

hands

youths'. British

Museum.

noan

civilisation at Cnossus.

The

first

inhabitant of Attica was an

earthborn serpent-man called

He was

the judge in

the

Cecrops.

contest be-

tween Athena and Poseidon for possession of the land, and awarded it to

Athena for her creation of the olive.


The daughters of Cecrops were the
nurses of Erichthonius, another serpent-

man who was

in a

sense the son of

Athena. For he was born from the earth

when Hephaestus

tried to rape

Athena put the baby into

Athena.

a chest,

and

Tereus and Procne

The Athenian king Usts contained a


number of names which were brought
into

genealogical relation to

arbitrary

each other.

whom

is

One

of them

attached

is

Pandion, to

fable

about the

hoopoe, the nightingale and the swallow,


which explains their songs in terms of
a fate

which

is

made up of some of

the

elements of a supplanter myth. Procne

and Philomela were

who

sisters,

daughters

Procne to
Tereus, Idng of Thrace. Tereus begot
on her a son Itys, but then raped her
sister Philomela and cut out her tongue to
prevent her telling what had happened.
of Pandion,

married

But she wove the story into a tapestry, and in this way told Procne, who
took her revenge by serving up Itys as
a meal for his father. Tereus pursued

them with an axe, and the gods turned


them into birds. Philomela is the nightingale, who calls alternately upon Tereus
and Itys, Procne is the swallow, who
twitters unintelligibly, trying to tell her
fate,

and Tereus

pursues them

the hoopoe,

is

crying

who

'Pou pou pou',

'Where, where, where?'

Another king
of

human

is

Erechtheus, a kind

coianterpart of Erichthonius.

The daughters of Erechtheus met


which seem

fates

to be versions of those of

the daughters of Cecrops. Orithyia was

carried off by

the

North Wind, who

helped the Athenians by destroying the


ships of their enemies

Zetes and Calais,

and begot on her

who were

Argonauts.

She was said to have been carried off


from the banks of the Ilissus while
gathering flowers, like Persephone:

it

would be appropriate if she had cast


herself down from the Acropolis into
the arms of her lover. The other daughters sacrificed

tory

for

Eleusis.

themselves to ensure vic-

their

father

in

war with

The Acropolis

at

Athens. Greece

consists of a series of small plains,

many of them on

the sea, surrounded


by mountains. For protection from
Greek cities were founded
around easily defensible outcrops
pirates,

of limestone. Later,
such a hill was called an acropolis.
That of Athens is the most famous,
and in the fifth century Pericles turned
it into the sacred centre of Athens.

On
is

the

left,

to the west,

the formal entrance, the Propylaea,

Parthenon and
between them the Erechtheum.

in the centre the

Aegeus was the putative father of Theseus, the great Athenian hero. Perhaps
because of his name, which could mean
'Founder', Theseus was honoured as
the

man

the

cit}'-state

responsible for the creation of

of Athens by persuading

come and live


together in Athens and accept him as
their overlord. As Heracles was taken
all

the local rulers to

over, especially by the Spartans, as the


Dorian hero, so Theseus was built up
as his Ionian counterpart. Heracles was

made to found the Olympic games to


commemorate one of his exploits, since
were the chief cultural
Dorian aristocracy. The
Athenians were never distinguished in
these; but in everything else Theseus
athletic contests

In some of the stories about Theseus


father

his

sources

is

is

Poseidon,

who

explicitly stated to

in

have

late

lain

with Aethra the same night. Theseus'


father left his

sword under

a token of his paternity,

did

when he

lay

as

a rock as

Poseidon

with Medusa the Gor-

gon and begot Chrysaor. But there is


no trace of a mortal twin. That a man's
wife should bear a son to the god is, of
course, one way in which succession in
the female line can be reconciled with
a patriarchal system.

CreU

activity of the

The
is

Old Age
known only from art

story of Heracles and

a folk tale

and not from

literature. Several vases

show Heracles

in all his accoutrements

attacking a dwarf figure labelled

'Old Age'. This Etruscan bronze mirror,


the other side of which was originally
highly polished, may show an
idealised version, perhaps derived from
a comedy, in which 'Old Age' was
a giant. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

TOP RIGHT
Wall painting of Theseus leaving
Ariadne on Naxos. Roman wall painting
follows Hellenistic models no less
than Roman mosaic, and mythological
erotic panels such as this example
from Herculaneum, overwhelmed
in the eruption of ad 79, are common
in both media. Ariadne awakes
on the island of Naxos to find that
Theseus has deserted her. British Museum.
104

Aegeus then returned to Athens, and


here that the Cretan connection

is

it

first

appears as either the companion or the

appears in the person of Androgeus,

imitator of Heracles.

son of Minos. Minos may have really


been the title of the divine king of
Crete and not a name. But all the stories
are told of one man, the son of Zeus

But the Cretan connection shows that


Theseus is more than a fictional hero
representing Athenian aspirations, and
it must constitute the oldest part of the
myth. It starts before his birth in the
reign of Aegeus, who had no son. The
Delphic oracle told Aegeus not to loose
the wineskin before he got home. Not
understanding

this,

he visited Pittheus

Troezen on his way back,


him drunk and loosed on him
at

ter

as well as

judge in Hades, married to Alcmena.

the

is

said to

have

drunk.

Like

and the wine-skin may

whose name is definitely pre-Greek. He


went into exile, ending with Minos as

daugh-

him, Aegeus was begetting his supplanter

brother, perhaps a twin, Rhadamanthys,

At

his

first

they

dead,

merely judged between

continuing the activity for

which they were famous in life, perhaps


an aspect of Minoan culture that had
impressed the Greeks.

BuUs

reflect a ritual

symbolising sexual intercourse.

who survived to the generaHe had a

tion before the Trojan war.

who made

when

Aethra. Laius too

begotten Oedipus

and Europa,

He

got

feature in the story of Minos.


title

to the

kingdom when Po-

In return, Procris got the wonderful

seidon sent a bull from the sea in answer


to his prayer.
it

For

his failure to sacrifice

he suffered many

evils. First

unpleasant affliction that

made

was an
it

im-

him to beget children: for


he emitted not semen but snakes, scorpions and milhpedes, which killed any
woman. He was cured by Procris, the
wife of Cephalus, who made an artificial
woman which drew off all the animals,
after which he was able to beget children
normally. The legends of Crete are full
possible for

Another
of them was Talos, the burning brazen
of mechanical marvels like

this.

man who patrolled Crete. Medea killed


him when the Argonauts passed, by
opening the vein in

his leg

out his magic blood.

and

letting

took to Thebes,
where it caught the monstrous vixen,
together with a spear that never missed

dog

its

that

Cephalus

mark. But

when Dawn

it

of the Sun and

sister

of Aeetes king of
in love with the

fell

he

bull that should

have been

Cephalus

Dawn

off,

sent

him

was
and
but when she came

back disguised to see

if

Procris

able to seduce her,

she went to Crete,

back played a similar trick, disguising


herself as a boy and giving both hound
and spear to Cephalus for a promise of his
favours. Though they were reconciled,
Procris secretly followed her husband
as

fact his wife Procris.

Colchis. But she

carried

He was

was in

The cured Minos begat sons and


daughters on his wife Pasiphae, daughter

caused her death. For

pined for his wife, and


faithful.

a deer but

who had

sacrificed.

Athens for killing an apprentice who had surpassed


him, made her an artificial cow inside
which she gratified her passion and
conceived the Minotaur. Daedalus also
Daedalus,

left

designed the Labyrinth,

named

after the

Cretan double-axe, but perhaps rather


a ritual

maze than

folk-memory of the

Palace of Cnossus.

Minoan

power

reflected in the

he went hunting each morning, and


took her revenge by causing him

story of Minos' son Catreus. His sonAl-

what he took to be

thaemenes went to Rhodes to avoid be-

Dawn

to cast the spear at

sea

is

THESEUS
Reverse of stater from Cnossus, 350-325

RIGHT

Bc. Cnossus, site of the palace of

Theseus killing the Minotaur. The


decoration of an Attic wine cup

Minos, adopted as its


symbol the labyrinth, a ritual maze
with one path to the centre which

became more difficult as the stem


got longer and the cup shallower.
From 550 BC the band between the
handles was decorated with a frieze

round the whole pattern.


Such mazes are known from all over
Europe and have been found engraved
on megalithic monuments. They
leads right

may be diagrams of a

On

of miniature figures, as in the vase


signed by the potter Glaucytes. Both
sides of the vase show great exploits:
on one the Calydonian Boar hunt
(page 76); on the other Theseus
killing the Minotaur. Theseus wears
an animal skin like Heracles, the great

ritual dance.

arrowhead and
both probably

either side are an

a thunderbolt,

emblems of Zeus.

British

Museum.

monster slayer, and the exploit is


watched by Ariadne on the right and
Athena on the left. Behind each of them
is a procession of alternate women
and men. Antikensammlungen, Munich.

coming his
he

failed,

when

father's

murderer of course
:

killing Catreus 'by accident'

he visited Rhodes.

his sister to death

by Hermes,

who

when

He

also kicked

she was raped

only caught her by

Like a goddess, she turned into a sea


bird.

Not even

the sacrifice of three

ters,

were not the king's daughthough probably victims of the

same

ritual as the

sisters (they

daughters of Cecrops)

probably by tearing them apart between


trees. The Athenians claimed
Theseus had founded the Isthmian

two of the
that

Games

in

honour or expiation of

Sciron kicked

men

Sinis.

over the chff to a

could save the Athenians from Minos'

man-eating

same sacrificial
was turned to
Polypemon

Polyidus, found the body after correctly

and they were forced to agree to


supply seven youths and maidens a year
to be thrown to the Minotaur there was
a somewhat similar ritual at Corinth.
This was the tribute that Theseus joined.
He slew the Minotaur, and by this

describing the colour of a marvellous

exploit

cow

betrayed her father and helped him.

lifted into the air,

The

Antaeus he gained strength from the


earth. The Crommyonian sow, called
Phaea, 'grey', looks like a duphcate of
Heracles' Erymanthian boar, and some-

spreading fresh bull hides in her path


to

make her

slip.

This must

reflect a

Rhodian ritual. Another of Minos' sons,


Glaucus,was drowned in a jar of honey
(the Minoans seem to have embalmed
dead in great

their

jars).

prophet,

and was asked to revive it,


which he did when he saw a snake
bring the Herb of Life to the body of
its dead mate. A Cretan ritual from the
story of the supplanter seems to lie
as a test,

behind

this

tale.

Minos' third son Androgeus died at


the horns of a bull. After triumphing
at the

Panathenaic

festival,

he was sent

fleet,

won

who

the king's daughter,

Theseus

exploits of

For when he was full grown Theseus


recovered the sword from under the
stone where his father had left it, and
set out for Athens by the coast road
along the Isthmus.

On

the

way he

dealt

against the bull of Marathon, identified

with

with the Bull from the Sea, which Hera-

plagued the road, thus conveniently performing half the number of labours

had taken from Crete and turned


loose in Attica after showing it to Eurystheus. The news of his death was used
to account for a ritual on the island of
Faros, where they sacrificed to the Graces
without garlands or flutes. It was said
that Minos had started to sacrifice there,
and in his grief at the news tore off' his
garland and stopped the flutes.
cles

Minos
First

later

made war on Athens.

six

robbers and monsters which

required to equal those of Heracles.

The

other six seem to be the Bull of Marathon, which Theseus finally disposed of

when he got
exploit, the

to

Athens

as

Centaurs, the rape of Helen

descent into Hades. In these

he

is

his

first

Minotaur, the Amazons, the

and the
last three

associated with Pirithous, king of

the Lapiths.

he captured Megara through the

There are elements of folk

tale in the

some of

whom

treachery of the king's daughter Scylla.

stories of the robbers,

For love of Minos she pulled out the


hair that was her father's external soul.
But Minos drowned her, tying her feet

may be decayed

an iron club which Theseus took over

to a ship's stern, perhaps a ritual death.

his

in

imitation of

victims

by

giants.

Periphetes had

men

turtle

below: he suffered the

fate

himself and the turtle

a rock.

Procrustes

into shape to

was the man who

fit

hammered

his bed:

Theseus

fitted it exactly

and

thus turned the tables on Procrustes.

Cercyon was a wrestler

whom

Theseus

perhaps because like

times appears mascuhne in vase paint-

But

ings.

the rest reflect Athenian

all

claims to the area, and the restoration of

law and order

is

an appropriate activity

for Theseus the political hero.

Theseus then successfully performed


one exploit. He killed the Bull of Marathon which Heracles had set free. But
his chief exploit was the killing of the
Minotaur, in which he was helped by
Minos' daughter Ariadne. She gave him
the ball of thread that
to return successfully

of the

ritual

would enable him


from the centre

Labyrinth

after

kiUing the

Minotaur with his bare hands. Afterwards he left Ariadne, asleep on Naxos.
She was soon consoled by Dionysus. In
the local ritual of Dionysus she was his
consort.

variant of the exploit, appropriate

may appear

Sinis

killed

for a son of Poseidon,

means of pine

trees,

the story of the contest between Theseus

Heracles.

in

'accidental'

and it seems just possible that the Amazon legend was originally Athenian
and not part of the story of Heracles.
Then Theseus joined Pirithous in the
war of the Lapiths and the Centaurs,
which, like the war of the gods and the
Giants, was used in the fifth century to
symbolise the triumph of Athenian civ-

'forgot' to

ilisation

and Minos on the voyage to

Crete.

thundered in a clear sky to

Zeus

attest

his

fatherhood of Minos. Theseus by his


father's aid recovered a

golden ring that

Minos threw into the sea, and a golden


crown as well. But whatever form the
exploit took, it ended predictably in the
death of Aegeus. Theseus
change the sails to the colour
that would announce success, and Aegeus threw himself down from the point
on the Acropolis from which the sea

can be seen. His death

is

clearly related

to the similar fates of kings' daughters


at

Athens.

Minos shut up Daedalus in the Labywhich he had given the secret


to Ariadne. But he and his son Icarus
escaped on wings (another Cretan invention). Icarus emulated Phaethon and
went too near the sun. The glue of his
wings melted and he was precipitated
into the sea. Minos pursued Daedalus
to Sicily, where he discovered him by
rinth of

a typical piece

shell

ant.

of Daedalic technology,

threaded with the help of an

But the

local king's daughters saved

Daedalus by boiling Minos immortal


after his bath, like the daughters of
Pelias.

Theseus and Hippolytus

The

rest

He went

of Theseus'

life is

anti-climax.

with Heracles against the

Ama-

zons, and carried off the queen as his

Amazon

invasion of

had thus

provoked.

bride, defeating the

Athens that he

Theseus' son, Hippolytus, was

named

Amazon

queen,

after

his

mother, the

over the barbarian.


Also with Pirithous he carried out
his last two exploits, both of which

BELOW
Lapith and Centaur. The metopes on
the south side of the Parthenon all
had a single theme, the battle of the
Lapiths and Centaurs. The figures have
the sad repose of developed classical
art. The Centaur has nothing bestial
about him, but is the ideal type of
an older man, as the Lapith is of a
young man. Elgin Marbles,
British

Museum.

mm

J--*^

.\

v,->

f^

LEFT

The

sacred

site at

Olympia.

TOP RIGHT
Castor and Pollux. The artist Psiax
used both the red and the black figure
technique about 530 BC. On this vase
the figures are not named, but the

two young cavalrymen in leather


helmets, which leave the ear open
hear orders, and in some kind of

to

riding breeches, could well be twins

and therefore Castor and Pollux, who


appear named on a famous vase
by Exekias. If so, the old man on the
stool is Tyndareus and the woman
their mother Leda. The twin sons
of Zeus, the Dioscuri were the patrons
of the horseriding aristocracy.

Romano,

Museo Civico

Brescia.

ABOVE
Theseus and the Minotaur.
This vase of about 550 BC
shows a robust Theseus
killing a subdued Minotaur with

sword in the vulnerable part


of the neck where the helmet joined
the breastplate in an armoured
hoplite. The six Attic youths, one with
a fillet in his hand, three of the others
with wreaths, stand on either side of
him, and he has put his cloak down
his

on

a rock.

Ashmolean Museum.

BOTTOM RIGHT
Theseus carrying off Helen. Pirithous
draws his sword to ward off opposition
as Helen's servant vainly tries to save
her.

Antikensammlungen, Munich.

sister

of Ariadne,

fell

in love with Hip-

polytus, and her nurse tried to procure

him

for her.

But Hippolytus,
later Peleus,

like

Bellerophon and

played the virtuous Joseph.

with an oath, and he was unable to rebut


the accusations. Whereupon Theseus

invoked one of the curses given by his


father Poseidon, and another Bull from

came to cause Hippolytus' death


manner appropriate to his name

the Sea

dragged to death over the rocks. Finally


the virgin goddess Artemis appeared to
reconcile father and son, and to institute
the

cult

of her favourite Hippolytus.

But behind the chaste figures of goddess


and devote it is possible to discern the

Ashamed, Phaedra hanged herself, preserving her good name with a letter

in a

accusing Hippolytus. Theseus at once

bolted with

accused his son of trying to supplant

along the coast road which Theseus

supplant him, slaying

him. The nurse had bound Hippolytus

had himself taken to Athens, and he was

ing the course of a ritual chariot race.

'Horse

loosed'.

him

His
as he

frightened

drove into

who remen who shall

team

consort of a crueller goddess,

exile

gularly

chooses

the

him

after or dur-

TROJAN W^

Achilles and Penthesilea. Terracotta


was the preferred material for sculptural

Greece because of its


cheapness and the ease with which
it could be modelled. It is
details in early

though

virtually indestructible,
fragile,

and

is

not

liable, like stone,

of about 600 BC, decorated


the tomb of a warrior, since it shows
relief,

Achilles, the ideal warrior, victorious


that the

may be

He

is

shown

facing

gorgon head of
seen. Part of a

at his feet

is

left

so

his shield

Metropolitan

Museum

Samuel D. Lee Fund, 1942.

of Art.

communal

enterprise of

who

passed

it

on to Hermes. From there

it

Though

then to Atreus, shepherd of hosts, and

succeeded in its aim, the


were great, and an air of
and defeat hangs over it all. Few
it

difficulties

of the

heroes

kingdoms

returned to

find

their

and few of the dynasties survived for more than a few


generations. For this there is a historical
reason. Many of the leaders came from
new families with much shorter geneasecure,

went

first

to Pelops, striker of horses,

on his death to Thyestes, of many lambs,


and finally to Agamemnon. This is not
the same as the genealogy, which begins
with Pelops* father Tantalus in Lydia.

Tantalus

unsettled by further migrations, and the

one of those divine kings


and eventually punished for some act of presumption, like Ixion and perhaps Bellerophon.
He is the son of Zeus, though there were

new

some attempts

dead warrior

labelled Aenea, so that his

opponent must have been an Amazon,


presumably Penthesilea, the queen
who led the Amazons to Troy to help
the Trojans. Greek artists preferred
to illustrate episodes from the legends
of the Trojan war and not from the
Iliad.

last great

the Greek heroes was the Sack of Troy.

failure

to reworking. Part of an early Attic

in a duel.

The

logies

than

those of the children

of

Cadmus, of Aeolus and of Danaus.


Greece had presumably already been
situation

may be

reflected in the

rise

of Mycenae rather than Thebes as

the

dominant power

in

Greece.

My-

cenaean settlements have been found


all

over the eastern Mediterranean, on

the coast of Asia Minor, in Cyprus and


in

Syria.

It

is

likely

Mycenaean

that

Greeks controlled Crete during the

last

Tantalus

shepherd kings, deriving their authority

from Hermes, the god of


given very early in the

made

Iliad.

the sceptre, and gave

flocks,

is

Hephaestus
it

to Zeus

to link

him with Thebes,

where his daughter Niobe seems to


have belonged. There are various accounts of his

sin, that

he revealed the

counsels of the gods or stole ambrosia


to give to

men: but they all add up to


made the king's son im-

the ritual that

mortal as the king's surrogate.


In a variant Tantalus, like a Titan,

great period of the Palace at Cnossus.

Something of this may lie behind the


myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, just
as the sack of Troy may reflect an episode in the period of the expansion. But
myth and epic are not history.
The great leader of the Greek expedition is Agamemnon, king of Mycenae.
His place in a list of what seem to be

is

adinitted to the table of Zeus

buried under

Mount

is

Sipylus, for perjury,

or perhaps abuse of his oath, like Sisy-

phus.

The

story

concerns

the

theft

of a golden dog from the shrine of Zeus

by Pandareus, who entrusted


But when he asked for
it back, Tantalus swore some oath to
Zeus which denied all knowledge of it.
Pandareus, to whom Demeter had granted the ability to eat anything without
in Crete
it

to Tantalus.

suffering for
in

it,

may have been involved

the punishment, for his daughters

\:

-i*^

'l!,.

THE TROJAN WAR

i/'^:

THE TROJAN WAR

twin Lynceus. But Zeus loved Leda,


and came to her in the form of a swan.
Quite exceptionally, she is said to have
borne two sets of twins, one of each
pair being mortal and one immortal:
one pair was female, Helen and Clytemnestra, the only set of female twins in

Greek mythology. Even more exceptionally, Leda is said to have laid either
one or two eggs.
The quarrel of Castor and Pollux
with Idas and Lynceus arose when they
carried off the daughters of Leucippus,

'White Horse',

who had

to the other pair.

been promised
Another version maizes

them quarrel over the division of the


spoils of a cattle raid, and contains folktale elements making use of the special
talents of Idas,
at

who

could eat anything

high speed, and Lynceus,

who was

keen-sighted. Idas cut one of the


into four parts,

and proposed

cows

that half

go to the man who finished


first, and half to the second.
Then he gobbled up his and his brother's
before the Dioscuri even started. So
the booty
his

portion

they laid an

ambush

for Idas

and Lyn-

ceus, but the latter's keen sight discovit. Both mortal twins were killed.
But Zeus struck Idas with lightning,
which should mean he received cult
as a hero in Hades, and carried Pollux
up to heaven. But for love of his brother
he spent one day with him in Hades, and
the next took him up into heaven with

ered

him. This accounts for the two kinds

came

woo

Helen, but the contest,

if

to

there ever

was one, has been suppressed. Instead


another folk

there

is

oath,

which

is

tale,

of the suitors'

used to account for the

Greeks against
Troy. Tyndareus feared to favour one
suitor over another, until Odysseus advised him to make them all swear loyalty to the chosen one. This was Menelaus, whose brother, Agamemnon, was
expedition

of

all

the

already married to Clytemnestra, Helen's

mortal twin. Both the sons of Atreus,


therefore,

wives.

owed

their

kingdoms

the period of Locri's greatest prosperity,

and have been influenced in style


by the sculptures of the Parthenon.
Modern taste makes them face one
another: in antiquity they probably
faced outwards, as here. They show
the two Dioscuri, the divine twin

of cult received by the Dioscuri.


All the heroes of Greece

Two marble groups of the Dioscuri


formed the projecting decorations
at either end of the pediment of the
Ionic temple at Locri, a Greek colony
on the toe of Italy and the last port of
call before Syracuse. The groups
belong to the end of the fifth century,

to their

horsemen who were extremely popular


objects of cult in Italy as gods of
sailors and horsemen. They are
shown dismounting, with the aid
of two Tritons, in order to reside in

both

Locri and bless its inhabitants.


Nazionale, Naples.

Museo

THE TROJAN WAR


have been suppressed and have con-

Achilles

tained a contest. Acastus stole Peleus'

Though

share of the spoils of the hunt, but Peleus

off

proved

the Trojan war was triggered


by the rape of Helen, its origins lavfurther back in the house of Achilles,
the greatest of the

Greek heroes

In the ///W he

often called Aeacides,

is

at

Troy.

not son but grandson of Aeacus, who


was the most just of all the Greeks and
ended up in Hades as the third judge
with Minos and Rhadamanthys. His reputation for justice seems to rest on his
fame as a rain-maker. Greece was afflicted by a drought attributed to the impious
deed of Pelops, who murdered an Arcadian king and scattered his limbs over
the land. Aeacus then ascended the
mount of all the Greeks on Aegina, and
prayed successfully to his father Zeus

common
As

sometimes drawn on a white ground


which covered the red clay, as in a
wine jug of the late sixth century
by the painter of London. It shows
Peleus taking refuge in a tree from
the attack of a lion and a boar after
his host Acastus had robbed him
of his magic spear. Acastus' wife
had tried to seduce Peleus and, failing,
accused him to her husband. But lion
and boar recur as sacred animals in
many exploits, and the vase, as often
happens, suggests an earlier ritual
in which Peleus was the supplanter

hand of Thetis, for

gave Peleus the

Zeus and Poseidon had contended, but both abandoned her when they
learnt that her son was to be mightier

As always where Thetis

than his father.


is

concerned, this

is

a watered

nymph

Aegina,

Myrmidons, were
Zeus turned into men, in a
variant of the myth of Deucalion and
Pyrrha, when Aeacus was alone on the
island. Aeacus had two sons, Peleus
and Phocus: a third, Telamon, is really
a local hero of Salamis, if he is not

versions Thetis

who

is

is

water nymph,

a t3'pical

captured by the hero and held

through

her

various

transformations.

After this he might keep her as his wife

provided she never spoke to him.

The gods came

Strife,

his people, the

other folk-tale motif), cast

whom

belt

which supports the


The mother of Phocus,

presum-

ably because she was not invited (an-

ants

the

wedding of

to the

and

simply

down

version of the succession myth. In other

Peleus and Thetis, but

the story of his children.

Peleus treed by a lion and a boar.


Greek black-figure vases were

folk-tale motif.

reward for his chastity the gods

whom

for rain. Traces of the ritual survive in

His mother was the

them by producing
which he had cut out, a

his title to

the tongues

golden apple inscribed

the

among them

'for the fairest',

which occasioned the

contest for

Trojan war. The surviving child of the


marriage was Achilles. Thetis had destroyed six previous children by putting

them on

the

fire

or boiling them in a

cauldron to make them immortal.

When

relled (one should be the son of a

was doing the same to AchiUes


Peleus interrupted her, and she spoke
to him and had to return to the sea.
She had made him immortal and invulnerable except for the heel, which Peleus

number of

supphed like Pelops' shoulder blade, but


from the bone of a swift-footed giant.
The version that AchiUes was dipped

shield-hero Ajax.

and originally perhaps of Peleus as well,


was a seal-maiden; sea nymphs recur in
the family history.

The two sons quar-

god)
and Peleus killed Phocus 'accidentally'
by a cast of the discus: there are a
familiar ritual motifs here.

Peleus went into exile and appeared


as a potential supplanter in
First in

two

Phthia, where he married the

king's daughter, he 'accidentally' killed

Joseph Pulitzer Bequest.

Boar hunt. Then

with his spear

at the

Calydonian

forti-

Trojan stories

him hunting on

ing that the genealogical Ust of Trojan

games of

where he

Pelias

(which looks

like

an

he played the virtuous Joseph


with his host's wife. His host could not
Peleus, but took

which was probably magic, and


which none but him could wield. Peleus
escaped from the beasts up a tree, from
which he was rather tamely rescued by
Chiron the good centaur, who had originally given him the spear.
spear,

The

Troy, the modern Hissarlik, was a

Pelion and stole away his ash

lolcus,

exploit),

Mount

later.

is

from the beginning of


the Bronze Age. It had cultural links
with Greece from the time of the first
Greek speakers about 1900 B.C., who
may have entered Greece from Asia
Minor through Troy. So it is not surpris-

at

wrestled with Atalanta at the funeral

kill

much

in the water of the Styx

places.

who killed Acastus. Metropolitan


Museum of Art. Purchase; 1946,

his host

she

original ending of the tale

may

fied palace site

kings

is

as

long

as that

of the Thebans,

or that the mythical history of

Troy

is

interwoven with that of Greece. Indeed,


the first king, Dardanus, is said to have
been a brother of the culture hero lasion,
a consort

of Demeter. In one version

lasion was struck by lightning for his

THE TROJAN WAR


in

horse-breeding,

this

which

reflects

the historical fact that the plain of

was one of the places where

it

possible to pasture horses in large

Troy
was
num-

Zeus gave mares, the best in the


the price of Ganymede, son
of Tros and brother of Ilus, when he
carried him off to heaven to be his
cupbearer. But the story was probably

bers.

as

east,

first

that of the sacrifice of a son.

Laomedon, the son of Ilus, promised


those mares to Heracles,

who

touched

Troy when returning with the girdle


of the Ama2on Hippolyte, and saved
Hesione, Laomedon's daughter, from
a sea monster to which she was exposed.
But he was cheated of his reward. The
story, modelled on that of Perseus and
Andromeda, may in fact have been
borrowed to motivate Heracles' second
visit to Troy when he sacked the city.
But Laomedon had a reputation as a
cheat. He also cheated Apollo and Poseidon of their wages when they had
to serve him for a year as punishment
for the conspiracy from which Thetis
saved Zeus. Apollo herded Laomedon's
cows, as he had done those of Admetus,
at

while

Poseidon built an impregnable


Laomedon not only

wall round Troy.

refused to pay

them

but threatened to
Peleus wrestling with Thetis was
a favourite subject of Greek vase
painters, and from imported vases it
was copied by the engravers of Etruscan
mirror-backs, for which it formed a'
suitably erotic subject.

these engravings

Etruscan in

As time went by

became increasingly

style, as is that

shown

which dates from perhaps the fourth


rather than the fifth century. Thetis

beginning to be assimilated to the


of a winged Etruscan female
demon. Peleus is a boy and not a man.
is

style

British

Museum.

and Dardanus,

presumption,

like

his

status. It

Asia on a

ment

were no ships

them

of inflated hides. There


until

Danaus invented
from

to escape with his daughters

Egypt.

Much

of the early genealogy

is

arti-

though already known to the


Iliad. Dardanus and his grandson, Tros,
are derived from the names Dardanians
and Trojans used in the Iliad. His greatgrandson Ilus is derived from the city
ficial,

that

was in revenge for this treatPoseidon sent the sea-monster

to Troy.

Heracles returned to sack Troy in

what may be

a piece

evidence for

continuous

of genuine saga,
hostility

be-

tween Greece and Troy. He took with


him Telamon, who was the first to
breach the wall because he knew the
one piece of it that had been built not

more appropri-

an earthborn king. Erichthonius

Heracles the Glorious Victor. In grati-

site

was indicated by

of which,
a

was very

like

Thebes,

cow. The name of

his son, Erichthonius,

is

rich, as befits a

son of earth,

but in horses.

He was

not in

cattle

said to

have had three thousand mares

marshes of the river


Scamander. The best of the colts were
sired by the North wind, and were so

at pasture in the

fast that

corn

into slavery

by Poseidon but by his father Aeacus.


Heracles would have slain him for this
presumption, but he averted his fate by
the timely dedication of an altar to

of Ilium, the

ate to

them

with their ears cut off to mark their

brother a son of Zeus, floated across to


raft

their agreed wages,

sell

they did not bend the ears of

when

they ran over them.

possible that Poseidon also had a

It

is

hand

tude, Heracles assigned

daughter

Hesione,

him Laomedon's

who

been Heracles' reward on


visit,

if

should

have

his previous

the pattern of the supplanter

were followed. When she was allowed


to ransom one of the captives, she chose
her brother. Telamon's bastard son by
Hesione is more Trojan than Greek.
Though he fought for the Greeks at

THE TROJAN WAR

Troy he used the eastern bow, and


ended up in Cyprus. His name Teucer
is that of a Trojan king, and may be
that of an eastern god.

one
Orion
and Cephalus indeed he was sometimes
said to be the son of Cephalus. She
Priam's brother Tithonus was

Dawn,

of the consorts of

like

and the child


was therefore exposed, only to be suckled by a bear and brought up by a shepherd. No god is associated with a
bear, only Artemis, which suggests that
Paris was once, like Aeneas, a goddess's
that destroyed the city,

son.

therefore not surprising that

It is

of immortality,

judge

when

but the jealous gods granted only the

apple

inscribed

begged for him the

gift

of her prayer, withholding eternal

letter

made him

the other three goddesses

Strife cast

the

they strove for the golden


'for

the

among them

fairest'

at the

that

wedding

youth, as they did from the Sibyl. So

of Peleus and Thetis. Aphrodite offered

Tithonus withered away and Dawn shut


him up in his chamber, where he may

and he praised her, rejecting


Hera and Athena,
who offered him kingship and victory
in war respectively.
Behind the story, which is alluded
to in the Iliad in the slightly contemptuous form given above (though only
the gift of Aphrodite is mentioned), can
be seen the son and consort of a mother-goddess, who has made him every
woman's darling. His wife Helen seems
once to have been a Spartan treegoddess, and he went to Sparta to carry
her off as if he were a supplanter.
Menelaus with Agamemnon gathered
most of the heroes of Greece with the
exception of the Thebans and the Athen-

have turned into

similar

Anchises,

a grasshopper.

may be

consort

seen in

descendant of Assaracus,

and Ganymede. The


goddess Aphrodite actually bore him
a son, Aeneas, the only son of an
Olympian goddess by a mortal known
to Greek mythology. Aeneas was imof Ilus

brother

portant to later genealogies.

The

story

of his rescue of his father from Troy


appears early. But in the
rodite,

Hymn

to

Aph-

Anchises knows that the consorts

of goddesses do not have a flourishing


hfe,

and Aphrodite warns him

that if

he discloses the maternity of his son

he will be struck by lightning.

It

is

reasonable inference that Anchises too

ended up
desire

as the object

among

those

who

of

and the

cult,

claimed descent

from Aeneas to continue

this cult

may

be the explanation of the stories of the


rescue

of Anchises.

The family

also

claimed the divine Trojan mares, saying


that

Anchises had stolen them from

Laomedon.
The Trojan royal house has much
closer and more frequent dealings with
the gods than any Greek family. This
relationship

continues in the time

Priam, whose daughter Cassandra

of
is

an inspired prophetess.
But because she refused the god her
favours he spat in her mouth, that
nobody might believe her, and she
could safely prophesy the doom of Troy
without in any way altering the course
'bride of Apollo',

of history.

The judgement of Paris


There

is

a story

Paris lust,

the other goddesses,

ians.

that

There was a persistent tradition


Troy was not taken until the twen-

tieth year after the rape

delay

is

First, it

of Helen.

The

accounted for in two ways.


took some time to persuade all

come on the expedition.


Odysseus at least was reluctant. He had
advised Tyndareus to exact the oath
because he wanted to marry Penelope,
daughter of Tyndareus' brother Icarius,
the suitors to

who

tried to persuade

him

to settle in

But Odysseus carried Penelope


off in his chariot, followed by Icarius,
who kept on begging her to stay but
gave up when she veiled her face.
Agamemnon went to Ithaca, off the
west coast of Greece, to persuade OdysSparta.

seus to join him.

Odysseus was reluctant to join the


expedition and at one time was said to

have feigned madness, yoking an ox


and an ass to the plough and sowing
his fields with salt. The stratagem was
discovered when the Greeks put Te-

about Priam's son Paris

lemachus in the path of the plough.


This is a decayed version of the exploit

mother

of yoking beasts, and of the sacrifice of

that suggests a supplanter. His

Hecuba dreamed she bore

firebrand

son.

Odysseus

himself

discovered

Ganymede and

the eagle. Seals were


in the ancient world
most circumstances where nowadays

used
in

genuineness
or a money transaction.
engraver's work was therefore

a signature attests the

of a

letter

The gem

highly confidential, and his art


was partly for this reason highly
regarded in antiquity. Lilte all other
Greek art forms, a high proportion
of the subjects are taken from
mythology. This garnet of the first

Ganymede and

century BC shows

the

eagle which, according to one version,


carried

him

He is giving
cup, a clear

off to heaven.

the eagle a drink

from

reference to his task in heaven. But

on a rock under a tree, dressed


shepherd in a Trojan cap, a type
used also for Paris, and the scene
he

sits

as a

is

therefore on earth.

It

was only
Zeus

for the actual abduction that

assumed the form of an

eagle,

lonides Collection.

LEFT

The body of a terracotta statue of Zeus


and Ganymede found in excavations
since the Second World War fitted
a head found at the end of the
nineteenth century.

It

retains traces

of the original colours. The blackbearded Zeus has a red cloak with
black border.

Ganymede

carries

which Zeus has given him as


a love gift. The whole stands o\er
three feet high, and adorned the top
of the pediment of a small temple or
shrine. It was made by a Peloponnesian
the cock

in Corinthian clay

Archaeological

about 470 bc.

Museum, Olympia.

THE TROJAN WAR

The sacred island of Delos, where


the lonians gathered together to hold
a festival of Apollo on the island
where he was born, lies to the
south-west of Mykonos. The sacred
site lay on the north-west coast
of Delos, under the sacred mountain
of Cythnus on which Zeus and Athena
were worshipped. The ancient path
up the mountain lay to the left of that
prominent in the picture. To the
north of the sanctuary was a sacred
of the picture,
overlooked by a terrace of sacred lions,
set up at the end of the 7th century
by the Naxians, who dominated the
lake, just off the left

island at that time.

Naxos

is

the

largest of the Cyclades, the islands

that continue the line of Attica

between

Crete and Turkey, and the first to


revolt when the Athenians made Delos
the sacred and administrative
centre of their empire.

in this

whom

mother had hidden


Scyros, hoping
way to save him from an early

Achilles,

among

the

his

women on

death.

The second reason

for the delay in

taking Troy was that the Greeks got

and went to Mysia to the south of


There Telephus the king repulsed
them, until Dionysus tripped him with
a vine branch and Achilles wounded
him in the thigh. Telephus was Heracles'
son and a typical supplanter, who was
lost
it.

exposed and suckled by a doe,


his mother's uncles

and came

killed

to Mysia,

where he seems to be a figure in a fertility cult. For the wound would not
heal until, like the magic impotence
inflicted on his son by Phylacus when
gelding rams, it was touched with the
rust of the spear that made the wound.
Telephus came to the Greek camp, and
promised to navigate the Greeks to

Troy

so the

omen

er,

them

told

that

representing the nine

full

years they

would consume at the siege, and then


was turned to stone. The fleet was held
by contrary winds until Agamemnon's
daughter Iphigenia was sacrificed to
Artemis. She was brought under the
pretence that she was going to be married
to Achilles.

Various not very convincing reasons


are given

One

why

a sacrifice

version linked

Brauron (page

35),

it

was required.

with the

ritual at

another with that

of the Sacred Spring,

when

everything

born in a year was vowed to the god.


In fact, in Greek mythology and especially

at

Athens, daughters are often

sacrificed for the victory of

or sacrifice themselves. This

an army,
is

just an-

other case, softened by the story that a

in return.

Even

though an
Troy would fall
in the tenth year. A snake devoured
eight sparrows together with their mothto leave Aulis in Boeotia,

Greek

fleet

was unable

deer was substituted at the

last

moment

THE TROJAN WAR


by the goddess, who carried off Iphigenia to be her priestess among the
Tauri of the Crimea, where human
could safely be attributed to

sacrifices

The Greeks went


where Achilles
Apollo,

first

to Tenedos,

killed the king, a

thus ensuring

On

son of

own

his

early

was
bitten by a snake and marooned on
Lemnos because the Greeks could not
bear the smell of the suppurating wound.
The bow of Heracles, which Philoctetes had been given as a reward for
igniting his pyre, was necessary to the
capture of Troy, and this story conveniently gets it and him out of the way.

When

The

Iliad

a straightforward story

is

Tenedos,

Philoctetes

they finally reached Troy,

the

Trojans refused to return Helen and

broke the truce when Menelaus

won

of

the fighting at Troy, told in personal

terms. Achilles quarrels with

barbarians.

death.

BELOW

The sack of Troy

non because
his

honour

Briseis,

prize,

Chryseis,

his

is

Agamem-

slighted

is

when

taken to replace

whom Agamemnon

to return to her father.

forced

is

He withdraws

to his tent, but allows his friend Pat-

when Zeus

roclus to help the Greeks

permits the Trojans to reach the ships.

He

rejoins the fight for personal reasons

when Patroclus is
as

treats Hector's

Troy, but
it

killed,

and

kills

an act of personal revenge.

is

to Priam,

body, dragging

Hector

He

finally moved to
who reminds him

mis-

round

it

perhaps the chase of Hector round the


walls of Troy, since Achilles is con-

BOTTOM RIGHT
Achilles slaying a Trojan.

Towards

end of the fourth century bc the


native Etruscan style of vase painting
the

introduced a

new

scenes, a native

represent a

character into

many

demon. This does not

new development

in

Etruscan religion; rather, as long as the


followed their Greek models

artists

there

strictly,

was no room for a demon


Here Charon, the Greek
the boatman who

in the pictures.

name adopted from

ferried souls across the Styx to the

underworld, stands by with his

hammer
AIFAS,

as Achilles, mislabelled

that is Ajax, kills one of the


Trojan captives at the tomb of
Patroclus with a downward stab into

the jugular. Achilles appears as a


brutal Italian, but the scene has the
direct power sometimes lacking in more
refined

Greek

Nationale.

vases. Bibliotheque

of the father. This vase is quite calm,


and fully aware of the divine
intentions for Iphigenia. The presence
of Apollo, top left, balancing
his sister Artemis with her bow and
with the typical crossed bands of vases
of this kind, may point to his
instructions to Orestes to rescue
his sister from the Crimea. As it is,
Iphigenia seems almost to be turning

which

supposed to settle the issue. Then the


Greeks settled down to the long siege
of Troy.

But both literature and art stressed


the pathos of the scene and the grief

which stands behind


her rearing up on to the altar, and

can sometimes be explained


of myth and ritual - even

'swift-footed'

a vase - by the
fourth century artist Timanthes.

into the deer

in

ventionally

famous painting - not

of the

the single combat with Paris that was

terms

the fifth century. It also inspired a

restore

father he will never see again. Various

episodes

Sacrifice of Iphigenia.
This was a subject that
appealed to dramatists throughout

but

such

is

of the
wielded by a man

clearly the target

sacrificial knife

whose lack of

distress identifies

as Calchas rather than

On

him

Agamemnon.

the left an attendant holds the


garlands for the victim and perhaps
the flour that was sprinkled on it.
British

Museum.

THE TROJAN WAR

poem.
war are

explanatiotis are irrelevant to the

The myths of
Suicide of Ajax. This bronze
from Etruria was attached

outside the

statuette

to the rim of

and are often con-

cerned with the conditions that had to be


fulfilled before Troy could be taken.

some bronze

object, perhaps acting as one


of the handles. Ajax's attitude

Thus

suggests that he was appealing to


somebody on the other side of the
object, perhaps Athena,

Iliad,

the Trojan

the

to be

man

first

tomb
opposite Troy; elms grew

him from the


consequence of his madness.
Museo Archeologico, Florence.
tried to save

and

could

see

ambushed

Thus,

Troy.

Thrace

in

in the pre-

their leaves faded

cinct,

who

Protesilaus,

received cult at his

who had

was fated

to land

was

It

killed.

when

too,

young Troilus and

the

they

Achilles
killed

him. If Troilus reached twenty Troy

was

safe, so

the

very

no doubt he was

eve

of

the

fatal

killed

on

birthday.

Odysseus and Diomede stole the horses


of the Thracian Rhesus on the night
he arrived at Troy: if they but drank
the waters of Scamander Troy was safe.
Rhesus sounds as though he may have
been a 'son of Ares' once: he was probably the object of cult in an oracular
cave.

As

Sar-

Patroclus died for killing

pedon, the son of Zeus, so Hector's


death was avenged by that of Achilles.
But before that, Achilles killed two of
the exotic

allies

of the Trojans.

The

first

was Memnon, son of the Dawn and


Tithonus. He was buried on the Hellespont, and once a year birds went to
sweep the grave and sprinkle it with
water. There was evidently a tendency
to assume that all the local cult-heroes
had met their death at Troy. The 'birds'

may have been women performing a


bird dance. The other victim was Penthesilea,

came

to

dental'

queen of the Amazons, who


Troy to be purified for the 'accimurder of her sister Hippolyte,

mother
TOP RIGHT
Achilles sparing Priam.
Some metal vessels have survived

from ancient times by being buried


for security in unsettled times

A silver cup of the


period signed both in Greek
and Latin by Cheirisophus
(the name means 'Hand-wise')
and countries.

Roman

was found at Hoby in Denmark.


One side shows the classic scene
which ends the Iliad, and exploits
its poignancy rhetorically.
Priam kisses the hands that slew his
son, and Achilles spares him,
when he thinks of the aged father
who would in his turn mourn
the dead Achilles. National Museum,
Copenhagen.

suggests

of

The pattern
may have been re-

Hippolytus.

that

she

BOTTOM RIGHT
The other side of the silver cup
from Hoby. Odysseus,

cruited as an ally by marrying one of


Priam's sons. Thersites accused Achilles

recognisable by his hat, is trying


to persuade the injured Philoctetes,

of violating the body, and himself put


out its eyes with his spear. For this, or

shown as a beggar with staff


and bandaged foot but no bow,
to return to Troy which could not
be taken without him. Odysseus
concealed his identity, and used
the son of Achilles, Neoptolemus,
to work on Philoctetes. When persuasion
failed, Heracles resolved the
resulting impasse by reminding
Philoctetes that it was the will of the

gods

that

Troy should

fall

and that

possibly
Achilles

for
killed

stealing

some

him, knocking

treasure,
off his

head with one blow. Though Thersites


in the Iliad is a deformed demagogue
properly chastised by Odysseus, he
was in fact a kinsman of Diomede, and
his death caused dissension in the

Greek

camp.
Achilles was shot in his vulnerable
by Paris in a battle at the gates of

he should contribute.
National Museum,

heel

Copenhagen.

Troy. Apollo guided the

shaft, for in a

THE TROJAN WAR

shame
is

culture success as well as failure

projected on to the gods to avoid

personal responsibility disruptive of society, just as ritual killings are always

'accidental'.

romantic version

later

told of Achilles' love for Priam's daughter,

Polyxena, and of secret and treach-

erous meetings and betrayals. This

at-

mosphere of dissension and failure can


even be detected in the Iliad, where the
Greeks on occasions contemplate withdrawal. Clearly the expedition was not
an unqualified success.
arms were awarded to
Achilles'
Odysseus, and not to Ajax who, at the
loss of

more

face than he could reason-

turned on
which social
pressures prevented him from directing
against the Greek leaders, and committed
suicide. He found some difficulty as

ably be expected

Heracles

is

to

bear,

aggression

the

himself

have made him inbut one part of his

said to

vulnerable in

all

body by wrapping him in the lion's


skin. The body of Ajax was buried, not
burnt, and he was the object of cult both
in the Troad, where his grave was by
the sea side and contained huge bones,
and at Salamis his home, where it was
associated with that of his son Euryshield'. There was a story
armour of Achilles was washed
ashore from the shipwreck of Odysseus,
and came to rest on Ajax's grave in the

saces,

'Broad

that the

Troad.

The Greeks then brought


the helper necessary to

Troy

to

the successful

conclusion of the enterprise, Philoctetes


with the bow of Heracles. The Trojan

Helenus,

who had

quarrelled with his

brother for the hand

of Helen after
con-

Paris' death, revealed three further

ditions

that the bones of Pelops should

be returned to Asia

Minor whence he

came, that the son of Achilles should

and that the Palladium, a magic


image of Athena, should be stolen.
Neoptolemus was fetched from Scyros,
where he had been begotten, and, clad
in his father's armour, was prominent
fight,

in the sack of

Troy

the motif suggests

the success of the sons of the

Seven

against Thebes.

The Palladium was said to have been


made by Athena to represent her female
companion Pallas, whom she accidentally
killed and whose name she took. Zeus

Suicide of Ajax. The Etruscan gem


engravers seem to have taken their

from Greek vases, which


were imported into Etruria in large
quantities and later imitated there,
rather than from Greek gems. But a
fifth century example, of which
the impression is shown, is very well
adapted to its medium. The suicide
of Ajax, when he was not awarded
the arms of Achilles, was a subject
subjects

whose

cruelty particularly appealed

to the Etruscans.

Museum

of Fine Arts,

Boston, Bartlett Fund.

Diomede with

the Palladium. Because

they were intended as seals, most


Greek ringstones, like this fourth
century chalcedony one, are engraved
in intaglio to

produce an

relief impression.

effective

Diomede, who has

succeeded in stealing the


Palladium or sacred image from the
Temple of Athena in Troy, is stealthily
tiptoeing with drawn sword to avoid
discovery. The Palladium is shown
as a tiny but perfect image. Such
totems were really either meteoric
stones fallen from heaven or a primitive
and roughly shaped tree trunk
containing the god whose presence
just

made

the city inviolable.

Museum

of Fine Arts, Boston, Bartlett Fund.

RIGHT
The Judgement of Paris. The Penthesilea
painter, working from 475 BC, unlike
some of his followers, could
decorate a toilet box with an
appropriate subject without descending
into sentimentality. The Judgement
of Paris, with the inscription twice

repeated 'The boy is beautiful', runs


right round the jar. Paris is seen

on a rock, wearing a travelling


hat and carrying a club. Behind him is
an older man with a thin stick. He
may be only a spectator to fill the space,
sitting

possibly Zeus or Priam. Hermes,


bearded and similarly dressed as a

but identified by his attributes,


him to the goddesses,
who face one another on the other
side of the vase. Metropolitan Museum
traveller,

comes

to fetch

of Art, Rogers Fund, 1907.

Diomede and Odysseus. Opposite


Diomede Odysseus, shown as always
bearded and

and cloak

sword
hand and indicates

in a cap, holds his

in the left

with his right the feet of a guard


he has killed. Between them is a
similar statue of Poseidon on a column,
next to a stylised representation of the
walls of Troy, outside which, in this
version of the myth, Odysseus

awaited Diomede.

Ashmolean Museum.

THE TROJAN WAR

N^,

,-%

L^^

LEFT

Laocoon and

the sea serpents

is

perhaps the most famous statue of


antiquity. It was discovered in Rome
during the Renaissance. It was the
work of three sculptors of Rhodes in
the first century BC, when a developed
technique of sculpture was put to
the service of sensational realism.
The Rhodians, prosperous merchants
and sailors, were allies of the Romans,
who claimed descent from the
Trojans via Aeneas, and this may
have led to the choice of the subject.

The

priest

Laocoon warned

the

Trojans against the wooden horse


and was destroyed together with his
sons by sea serpents for attempting
to interfere with the fated course
of events. Vatican Museum.

RIGHT
Marble statue of Athena. The
pediments of the temple of Aphaea
on Aegina both show Athena presiding
over scenes of

battle,

perhaps

between Greeks and Trojans (for


there is an archer in one scene),
symbolising the victory over the
Persians in which the Aeginetans
joined with the Athenians. Aphaea
was identified with Britomartis, one

of the forms of the Artemis worshipped


in Crete. But the temple suggests she
may also have had qualities that could
lead to her identification with Athena.
The statue of about 480 BC from
the pediment was originally painted
and decorated with bronze or gold
for which the holes can be seen. The
breast of the goddess probably bore
the gorgon head and her right hand
held a spear. Antikensammlungen, Munich.

THE TROJAN WAR


cast

it

Troy where Ilus built


had to be stolen because
can be taken as long as its gods

down

to

a temple. It

it

no city
remain in it. The Romans, who claimed
that Aeneas had brought the real Palladium to Rome, had a special ceremony
of evocation to entice enemy gods to

Rome. So Odysseus and Diomede

stole

as they had joined in killing the horses


of Rhesus. Odysseus used the trick of
disguising himself as a beggar and en-

it

listing the help

He

the

grave

of

Achilles.

sacked the sleeping


pieties.

city,

The

Greeks

not without im-

Neoptolemus slew Priam

at the

of Zeus where he had taken refuge.


Locrian Ajax raped Cassandra before

altar

the image of Athena. Astyanax, infant

son of Hector, was cast from the battlements like a sacrifice. And Polyxena was

on the tomb of Achilles, the


germ of the romantic story of their love.
sacrificed

of Helen.

also devised the

wooden horse

in

which the heroes entered Troy by a


trick. It may be a recollection of some
kind of siege engine, which breached
the walls at, no doubt, the one place
where they had not been built by gods

and were therefore vulnerable - another


device for throwing the responsibility
of defeat off the defenders. Or it may
represent treachery in Troy, the normal
way in which the Greeks took walled
certainly Antenor and Aeneas
were spared by the Greeks, though they
were needed for genealogical reasons.
All the Greeks but those in the horse
retired to Tenedos, pretending that they
were finally withdrawing and that the
horse was a thank-offering to Athena
(though it ought to have been to Pocities:

seidon,

who

built the walls

and often

appears in the form of a horse). The


Trojans dragged it into the city, of
course disbelieving the prophecies of
Cassandra and also neglecting the am-

biguous warning of Apollo, who sent


two snakes to devour the sons of Laocoon,

who had

begotten them on his

wife in the sanctuar\.

The Greeks in the horse, whose


number varies from twenty-three to
three thousand, were

all

frightened ex-

cept for Neoptolemus. Their presence

was suspected by Helen, who went


round addressing each in the tones of
his wife. Odysseus bade them all keep
and strangled Anticlus, the only
one who was going to cry out. Helen
was accompanied by her second husband, Deiphobus, and her role is ambiguous, for 'some god wanted to give

silence

glory to the Trojans'.

The

first

out of the horse was killed


The rest admitted the

leaping down.

Greek army, which had been guided


from Tenedos by a beacon lighted on

last of the temples at Agrigento,


the ancient Acragas, is almost
contemporary with the Parthenon and,

The

like

it,

survived as a Christian church.

was dedicated to Saints Peter and


Paul, who perhaps took over from the
twin Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux.
National pride and the desire to impress
visitors with the power and wealth of
the city, was a powerful motive for

It

temple building in the ancient world,


and Acragas under its tyrants was one
of the strongest cities in Sicily during
the fifth century. Several temples lie
along the southern city wall, looking

towards the
to the west.

sea,

and

this is the furthest

THE TROJAN WAR

THE TROJAN WAR

Murder of Aegisthus. This painting


of the murder is earlier (500-475 BC)
than any of the surviving dramatic
treatments of the story. It suggests
that Orestes came openly and armed,
though Aegisthus, who is dragged off
his throne, was evidently not
expecting the attack. The horrified
girl is Chrysothemis, the younger
sister who stayed with her mother, and
not Electra, who is associated with
the murder only in drama.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

RIGHT
Orestes and Electra. At the beginning
of the fourth century the local potters
of the Greek colonies in Italy began
to imitate the Attic red figured vases
they had been importing. An amphora

by a painter working in Paestum


from 550-310 BC illustrates a

performance of

a play,

probably the

Electra of Sophocles. Orestes,

shown

conventionally nude, stands on one


side of the memorial pillar on the tomb
of Agamemnon, supported by his
friend Pylades. On the other side
Electra brings a fillet to the tomb
which she is visiting on her way from
the fountain, at which she will fill
the water pot she carries. The
recognition is imminent. Above two
Furies watch the scene. Museum
of Fine Arts, Boston, Pierce Fund.

THE END OF THE HERO

Perhaps because of their various acts

the capture of Thebes by the sons of

of impiety, few of the heroes had a

the Seven.

or

safe

profitable

kill

but because of

of the local oracle of Apollo at Clarus

with

Diomede and Nestor.

the exception of

Menelaus was
Helen for her

The contest was to guess


number of figs on a tree, and the
number of pigs in a sow's unborn farrow.
The story is Ionian propaganda in favour

return home,

at first

determined to

infidelity,

her beauty (and her divine status) was

unable to do

and set out with the


other two. But he was delayed by the
death of his helmsman off Sunium, and
off the south-west promontory of the
Peloponnese a north-westerly drove him
to Crete and Egypt. He spent the next

the

near Colophon.

The impious

so,

suffered

Ajax,

Menelaus,

like

Ancient

shipwreck.

scholars

and date of the


may have taken place
in the summer, at the

tried to fix the exact time


fall

of Troy.

dangerously

It

late

setting of the Pleiads,

when

the sailing

eight years accumulating wealth in the

season ends in Greece and the autumn

was

winds begin to blow. Thus there may

eastern Mediterranean. Finally he

becalmed

off

Pharos,

an uninhabited

which the Odyssey envisages as a long sail from Egypt, to


which Menelaus had to return, on the
advice of Proteus, an Old Man of the
off-shore island

Sea, before he could

make

Sparta. All

be a perfectly

natural

explanation

of

these calamities. Ajax succeeded in getting to shore

and boasted

that he

had

escaped against the will of the immortal


gods,

who promptly proved him wrong.

Poseidon broke

off the

rock upon which

An

early navigation

he was sitting and drowned him.

from

annual Locrian ceremony, in which a

depended on starting
known landmark. At home he

continued to live in immense prosperity

with his divine wife, looking forward


to

the Islands

this is

of the Blest. Most of

a realistic account of freeboot-

ship was launched with black sails,


was explained as mourning for the dead
fire

Ajax.

number of the Greeks returned

ing true enough of any period from the

to find that they

Mycenaean

in the affections of their wives during

Some
at

all.

to the eighth century.

of the Greeks did not return

Calchas the prophet went overland

to Colophon, to die in a kind of magical


conflict (a folk-tale motif)

with Mopsus,

the son of a 'bride of Apollo',

Manto

the daughter of Tiresias. She had emi-

grated there with

some Argives

after

had been supplanted

their absence. This

eneus of Crete,

happened

to

Idom-

but another or addi-

was told to account for his


from a storm he
vowed to sacrifice the first thing he met
on his return, which was of course his

tional story
exile,

that to escape

son or daughter.

plague resulting

ABOVE
This fragment from 560-550 BC

by Nearchos has often

recalled the

passage in the Iliad when Achilles'


horses are suddenly able to answer
his reproaches for deserting
Patroclus by reminding him of his

own

rapidly approaching fate, which

Achilles has long

makes

known and which

his quest for glory the

urgent. But the horses'

names

more
are

not the same, and in fact the vase


showed Thetis and Hephaestus bringing
Achilles his armour. National Museum,
Athens.

RIGHT
Blinding of Polyphemus. A huge early
Attic amphora four and a half feet
high was found in excavations at
Eleusis in 1954. The neck shows the
blinding of Polyphemus, in a

flamboyant

style.

The

painting's chief interest

Homeric

is its

The stick has two


some illustrations which

subject.

points, as in

assume a two-eyed Cyclops, but both


seem to terminate in the one eye,
which is not central and may
Cyclops' origin in the smith
has lost an eye by a spark.

reflect the

who

Eleusis
130

Museum.

THE END OF THE HEROES

from

this

impious

to banish him.

sacrifice led the

people

In this folk-tale motif

Vow,

of the Home-comer's

the order

of events has been deliberately altered


to conceal the normality of the practice,

and to absolve Idomeneus of the


sponsibility for having willed it.

re-

The death of Agamemnon


The
is

of the betrayed husband

classic case

Agamemnon

who was supwho had already

himself,

planted by Aegisthus,

Atreus, his father's brother. In

killed

seducing his cousin's, wife, Aegisthus

was only doing what Thyestes had done


to Atreus. He may have had some real
claim to the kingdom. The murder of

Agamemnon

is

simply an episode in the

gory history of the Pelopids. It contains


elements derived ultimately from ritual:

murdered him

for Clytemnestra

in the

bath-house after a bath, striking him


three blows, possibly with a double axe,
after catching

him

in a hunting net

more

appropriate to a sacred animal than


a

tc

man.
Zeus, through the oracle of his son

Apollo

at

Delphi, ordered Orestes to

avenge the murder of

his father

by

kill-

ing his mother Clytemnestra and her


lover Aegisthus.

He

did so and returned

from

the'

help of his almost

exile

with

incestuously devoted sister Electra and

under the protection of Hermes. Orestes


was purified of the murder of his mother
by Apollo at Delphi. But the Furies

Purification of Orestes. This fourth


century south Italian vase shows the two
chief figures, Orestes and Apollo.
Orestes, with his conical hat off his
head, clasps the navel stone with the
left arm, in which he holds his scabbard,

and with the sword

Odysseus

er.

in his right wards


an invisible Fury. Apollo
performs the purification with two
laurel leaves which he has dipped in the
bowl full of presumably pig's blood.

off

Museum.

British

some of them Penelope seems


husband by some

In

to have recognised her

The

fate

of

Agamemnon, and

the

filial

token and to

have connived in the

duty of Orestes, are in the Odyssey con-

destruction of his rivals. But the poet

and held
up as a model to his son Telemachus.
Odysseus returned from Troy after ten

who

years of wanderings, to find his substance

Argus,

being devoured by the nobility of Ithaca,

ter.

has transferred this to the aged nurse,

were unaffected and continued to pursue


him. Orestes fled to Athens and took
refuge at the image of Athena, who
instituted the Athenian homicide court
of the Areopagus to decide the issue.
Her own presiding vote went to Orestes.

trasted with that of Odysseus,

who were

pressing his wife Penelope


marry one of them. She kept them at
bay until his return by insisting that she
must finish the shroud she was weaving

slain,

This made the votes equal, and, accord-

to

her husband returned until she has tested

Odysseus' father Laertes. This


shroud she unpicked each night. Odys-

Odysseus in making it had incorporated


an olive tree which grew on the site of

seus returned in time to defeat

his palace.

ing to the practice of the court, Orestes

was aquitted. The Furies were persuaded


to accept cult at Athens, becoming the
Kindly Ones, Eumenides, earth-goddesses

rather

like

daughters

the

of

Cecrops.

went there to bring


back his sister to Athens with the image
of Artemis. He was taken prisoner and
Orestes

Iphigenia recognised her brother only


in

the nick

sacrifice.

all

the

suitors in the exploit to determine Pe-

Iphigenia had been carried off to the

Crimea.

for

of time

to

prevent

his

nelope's

husband.

He

used

great

bow, which he alone was able to string,


to shoot them down at a feast.
The story of the Return of Odysseus
is made up of a number of different
traditional versions of what may have
been originally the myth of the supplant-

his

on
hound

recognises Odysseus by a scar

and to the

thigh,

who

Even

faithful

dies after greeting his

the

after

Penelope refuses to believe

him by claiming

mas-

have been

suitors

that his marriage

it

is

bed

has been moved, an impossibihty since

The myths

in the Odjssey appear in

the account of his wanderings

Odysseus gives

at the

acians, a race of ideahsed sailors

swift

and

which

court of the Phae-

whose

own way
men to the

silent ships find their

and may once have

ferried

land of the dead. Angered at their habit

of giving free passage to

all,

including

enemy Odysseus, Poseidon turned

his

ship into a

their
a

myth

rock on

its

return^

that explains natural features of

an island traditionally identified as Corfu.


Odysseus was cast up there by a ship-

wreck and befriended by the king's


daughter Nausicaa.

He

defeated

all

the

Phaeacian nobles in an athletic contest.


The episode is clearly modelled on the

myth of

the supplanter.

Only the exihim from

gencies of the plot prevent

marrying Nausicaa.
He does appear however as the temporary consort of two nymphs or goddesses in the course of his wanderings.
Many of the motifs that occur during
his journey seem to have been taken
from the Argonautic saga, and may
contain some information about northern waters. But they all seem to be

located in the western Mediterranean,

an area in which the Greeks showed


increasing interest from the eighth century. It

was also the scene of some of

the exploits of Heracles.

After leaving Troy, Odysseus touched

ABOVE

BELOW

Orestes and the Furies. This early

Odysseus

bell crater from the beginning


of the fourth century bc is one of the
most dramatic illustrations of the story
of Orestes, a favourite subject. The
painting seems to be closely related to
Aeschylus' play the Eumenides. The
ghost of Clytemnestra is seen awaking

vigorous free style

Apulian

showing that
performed by Apollo

the sleeping Furies,


the purification

is

powerless against the ancient curse


of blood. Apollo, half girt in a richly

embroidered tragic garment, holds his


bay in one hand and in the other
a pig over the head of Orestes, not to
illustrate

but to symbolise the

performed with
its blood
for the purification was not
shown on stage. Louvre.
purification he has
;

The
employed on
even when very

in Circe's house.

vases from 450 bc,

at

Thrace, where he sacked the city of

the Cicones, sparing only the priest of

Apollo,

who

gave him in return some

sketchy in style, as here, could


produce an effective illustration
of action. Odysseus rises from his

exceptional wine that could be diluted

and draws his sword when Circe


tries to turn him into a beast,
like his companions behind him,
one with a pig's head, one with an

was blown to North Africa, to the land


of the Lotus-eaters, whose food caused
all that tasted it to forget home and

chair

ass's.

The herb moly, given him

by Hermes, had rendered Odysseus


immune to her spells, and
she flees before him, dropping
the mixing bowl in which
she had mixed the wine, and the
rod with which she had stirred it.
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Gift of Amelia E. White, 1941.

with twenty parts of water. Thence he

Then in Sicily the Cyclops Polyphemus imprisoned him in his cave


and ate his companions. Odysseus made
him drunk with his Thracian wine and
family.

put out his one eye, escaping in the

morning under the

belly of the Cyclops'

ram.

The

Cyclopes were originally

smiths of Zeus,
bolt.

who made

the

the thunder-

For the purposes of the Odyssey

they have been turned into uncivilised


shepherds, sons of Poseidon, whose
anger Odysseus provokes by blinding

Polyphemus. But they have retained the


single eye typical of smiths which is
necessary to the plot.

The

traditional

motif of the magic ring, which betrays


the position of the escaped hero to the

blinded giant and can be removed only

with the finger on which


put,

is

himself and his


ing.

it

has been

absent. Instead Odysseus betrays

He had

name by

his

own

previously concealed

boastit

and

by saying that he
was 'No man'. But he succeeded in escaping the rocks which the Cyclops hurled
tricked the Cyclops

at

him and proceeded

to the next ad-

venture.

him

Aeolus, king of the winds, got

within sight of Ithaca by tying up

Odysseus went to

sleep,

and

all

Then
com-

the contrary winds in a goatskin.


his

rades, thinking the sack contained treasure, untied

blown

so that they were

it

back west again. They reached the land

Some

cannibal Laestrygonians.

giant

of the

of Odysseus' comrades encounter

the king's daughter, but

little

made

is

of the episode because Odysseus must

be preserved for further adventures, in


the extreme west.

There

daugh-

lay the island of Circe,

of the Sun. Circe turned Odysseus'

ter

Odysseus was

pigs, but

comrades into

protected against her spells by the magic

moly which Hermes found for


must originally have been the
Herb of Life, and Circe the enchanter's

herb

him.

It

who

daughter

But

quest.

all

behind these

lie

the hero in his

assists

the ritual elements which

have been con-

stories

verted into fiction. Odysseus did,


ever,

become

with his

her

threatening

how-

the consort of Circe, after

sword and

making her swear not to harm him.


She sent him to consult the soul of
Odysseus

Tiresias so that

as a typical

hero descended into Hades, where he

encountered

his

who had

penor

Hades by

own crew-man

El-

taken a swift route to

falling to

his

death off the

roof of Circe's palace.

On

way back from Aeaea,

his

Odysseus

island,

passed by the

safely

Sirens, stopping the ears of the

wax and having

with

the mast.

He

rowers

himself tied to

also survived the monsters

and Charybdis,

Scylla

Circe's

whom

he pre-

Rocks which
only the Argo could survive. Scylla was

ferred

to

the

Clashing

kind of monstrous bitch rather

a giant squid, with twelve feet

and

like
six

long necks, each with a horrible head

on

with three rows of teeth. Even

it

was

so she

better than Charybdis, the

whirlpool which sucked in water and


belched
Scylla

it

out again three times a day.

and Charybdis

are

traditionally

located in the straits of Messina between


Italy

and

Sicily,

but they

may

equally

ABOVE
Odysseus and the
rough vase in the

Sirens. This rather


late archaic style

of

first quarter of the fifth


century shows the Sirens still as
essentially birds whose faces alone

the

are

human. Odysseus

has passed the Sirens safely, while


himself enjoying their song,

and

in chagrin at this, like the

Sphinx

when

her riddle was guessed,


one is hurling herself into the sea,
her eyes closed already in death.
Sirens, Sphinx and Harpies all
perhaps originate in an exploit by
which the hero overcomes death.

British

Museum.

Odysseus escaping from Polyphemus.


This small archaic bronze relief
from the end of the sixth century was
perhaps made to be fixed to a piece
of furniture dedicated in the sanctuary
of Apollo at Delphi.
It shows Odysseus escaping from
the giant Cyclops Polyphemus under

ram that was the bell


wether of the flock and the only
one large enough to bear a man alone.
The others were tied together
in threes with one man between them.
the

The

relief attests the popularity

of the Odyssey, though the

artist

has

making Odysseus
tie himself to the ram instead of
simply holding on to it. Delphi.
altered a detail,

THE END OF THE HEROES


Reverse of four drachma piece
of Acragas, 420-415 bc. The symbols
of the city of Acragas were the eagle
of Zeus, in whose honour the
people built a colossal temple, and the
crab, which, perhaps because
it was proverbial for crooked
dealing, they later supplemented
with a fish or other symbol of the sea.
On this coin they added the sea
monster Scylla, who lived in
the straits of Messina. Her
name means 'whelp', and
is no trace here of the six
heads on long necks which
devoured six of Odysseus' men.
As always, the monsters of Greek

there

more human

art are

than those of literature.

well be tales deliberately told by Phoeni-

from
Odysseus

cians sailors to keep the Greeks

passing the Strait of Gibraltar.


steered

close

to

loss of six of his

Scylla,

men

accepting the

to save the ship

and the rest.


But Odysseus' companions finally
met their fate through their own folly
when they killed and ate the magic
cattle

of the Sun, a type of impiety more

usually

committed

by

Giants.

Zeus

out on his travels again, to keep his


vows. Following Tiresias' instructions,
he found the people who took an oar
for

who

is

necessary to

the plot, to survive clinging to the mast.

was sucked into Charybdis and belched


out again, while Odysseus clung to a
wild fig tree which grew above the
whirlpool. From there he was cast up
It

on

the

who

island

of Calypso, the Hider,

kept him as her unwilling consort

for seven years until the


to send

him home on

gods told her


Poseidon

a raft.

wrecked the raft, but Odysseus was


saved by the White Goddess Leucothea.
She gave him her veil which carried
him safely to the land of the Phaeacians.
Landing there with the help of a kindly
river god, he

threw the

veil

back into

in

north-west

Greece. There he married the queen of


Thesprotians,

the

when

Ithaca

his

only

returning

to

son by her was old

ritual survivals. It

significant that

sor

in

after

Almost

Ithaca.

dynasties

the

is,

however,

Odysseus had no succesthe

all

out in the

died

Trojan

heroic

generation

Neoptolemus

War.

joined up with Helenus, the renegade

Trojan soothsayer

who had

told

the

kingdom. The
later Thesprotians claimed descent from
Odysseus, and told this story to account

to

for

tolemus. Either on his advice or that of

enough

to inherit the

it.

In Ithaca finally he met his death at

struck the ship with a thunderbolt, but

allowed Odysseus,

winnowing fan

genuine

hand of his son by Circe, Telegonus.


He came to Ithaca to seek his father and
'accidentally' slew him with a spear

Greeks the conditions that they had


fulfil

before Troy could be taken,

and had caused them to send for NeopThetis, he avoided shipwreck

by return-

the

ing to Greece by land through Epirus.

tipped with the spine of a sting-ray, the

There he became king over the Molossians, having been advised to settle where
he found a house with foundations of
iron, walls of wood and a roof of wool.
Neoptolemus found the Molossians

from the sea which Tiresias


had prophesied for him. When Telegonus discovered what he had done he
took the corpse to Circe, who made it
gentle death

He married Penelope and


Telemachus married Circe. Circe's other
son by Odysseus was said to be Latinus,
by whose daughter Aeneas became ancestor of the Romans.
immortal.

camping under blankets or

fleeces sup-

ported on spears of which the iron tips

were stuck into the ground. There he


begot them an ancestor Molossus on
Andromache, w-ho had been his share
of the Trojan

spoils.

He

Phthia and reclaimed his

returned to

kingdom from

who had expelled


though in one version
he married Hermione, daughter of Helen
and Menelaus, Neoptolemus got no son
to succeed him there, and died in sordid
the sons of Acastus,
Peleus. But even

Neoptolemus

the sea, doubtless without looking back,

Most of

and the goddess took it up again.


Thus Odysseus survived all his wanderings and came back safely to Ithaca
to reclaim his kingdom. Then he set

later

Many

these stories are typical of the

continuations of the great epics.

of them are fictions to provide a

respectable

heroic

ancestry

peoples, though they

may

for

later

contain some

circumstances
the

attendants

offerings.

The

at

Delphi, brawling with

over the
story

may

flesh

of the

conceal the

THE END OF THE HEROES


Odysseus and the shade of Elpenor.
In the age of Pericles, from
460-430 BC, Greek vase
painting shows the serene classical
of the sculptures of the
Parthenon, especially of the frieze.
Perspective and landscape are
indicated and not shown.
In this masterpiece of the
Lycaon painter, Odysseus has been
escorted to Hades by a bearded
style

and booted Hermes and sacrificed


the two rams which lie dead
behind the rock on which he sits.
Then he is confronted by
the unburied shade of Elpenor,
who had fallen from the roof of Circe's
palace and reached Hades
more swiftly on foot than Odysseus
in his black ship.

Museum

of Fine Arts, Boston,

William

Amory Gardner Fund.

death of a hero in Greek

ritual

last

mythology: for Neoptolemus was killed


with a sacrificial knife and buried near
the temple of Apollo, who was responsible

for

death.

his

There he received

annual offerings as a hero.

The return of the Heraclids


Orestes

the only one of these heroes

is

who was

succeeded by a son. This was

Tisamenus, and
Sparta

the

when he was king of

Heraclids

(descendants

of

Heracles) returned to the Peloponnese


to claim their inheritance.

At

Heracles'

death they had fled from Eurystheus

and found only the Athenians to protect them. Eurystheus was slain in a
battle in Attica and his head and his
body were buried separately, like those
of the husbands of the Danaids, to
protect the strategic routes to Athens.

Then

the Heraclids returned, but were

Gulf and take the Three Eyed


guide.

After

mean

in

as

their guide,

they defeated Ti-

samenus and killed him.


They took possession of the whole
of the Peloponnese, for which they drew
lots, setting up three altars to the Zeus
of their fathers, first for Argos, then for
Sparta and lastly for Messene. Cresphontes wanted Messene, and so he
cast into the pitcher of

water not

but a piece of mud. The

bound

to

come out

first,

On

the altars

found signs which foretold the

at

combat at the Isthmus.


hundred years later the Heraclids
received the same oracle, now interpreted
to mean the third generation, and they
were advised to cross the Corinthian

two were
and he got

subsequent history of the three regions,


a toad for Argos, to

dissolved,

what he wanted. Temenus got Argos,


and the twin sons Sparta, where the

when

feated in single

mud

a stone

so that the lots of the other

the third year, and were again repulsed

Hyllus, son of Heracles, was de-

at

him

they

to

over the eastern Mediter-

may have weakened them

ranean

home, and their strength seems to have


been further dissipated by freebooting
and viking ventures. Such ventures are
represented in myth by the siege of
Troy and in history by the concerted
attack on Egypt by the 'Peoples of the
Sea', which was repulsed by Rameses 11

oracle to await the third crop before


this

settlements

murder of a soothsayer, they crossed


from Naupactus, which took its name
from the ships they built there, in three
tribes led by four descendants of HeraTemenus, Cresphontes and the
cles,
twin sons of Aristomachus. They found
a man sitting on a one-eyed horse. With

dual kingship survived.

They took

as

the

driven out by a plague and told by an


trying again.

Man

some trouble caused by

home,

a wily

warn them

to stay

fox for Messene, but

serpent for the Spartans

who were

terrible in attack.

The Mycenaeans had over-extended


themselves in the unsettled period

at

the end of the second millennium. Their

192 B.C.

The weakness of the Mycenaean dynasties may have given the opportunity
to new bands of Greeks to make their
way by land and sea into the rich pasture
lands of Boeotia and the Peloponnese,

driving out the existing inhabitants to


settle in

Asia Minor, or confining them

to the poorer lands of Attica

They

palaces with

and Arcadia.

Mycenaean
more primitive settlements

replaced

the

great

where small closely knit patriarchal famwhich preilies combined. The sack
served in

its

flames the current accounts

of the Mycenaean kingdom of Nestor


at Pylos,

written on clay,

may

represent

an episode in the invasion of the Dorians,


as the
dialect.

earlier

newcomers are called from their


But traces and traditions of the
period survived in

the

stories

which the Greeks continued to tell, and


which they brought to an end with
their own version of the Dorian Invasion, the

Return of the Heraclids.

lADIM

FURTHE]
1

Dictionaries and

works of

reference

Smith,

W.

(ed.)

A Dictionary of Greek

2nd edition 1927; Merlin Press, 1963.


Murray, Gilbert. 'Early Greek Epic',
in Anthropology and the Classics,

Oxford University

Rohde, E.

Kegan

Routledge and

Psyche.

Paul, 8th edition, 1925;

reprinted 1950

an

from a

and Roman Biography and Mythology.

ed. Marett, R. R.

3 vol.,

London 1876: still the most


exhaustive work in English.

Press, 1908.

school of mythological scholarship.

These three authors founded the

Gary, M., etc. (ed.) The Oxford

anthropological comparative study of

4 Psychological studies:
Kerenyi, C. The Gods of

Classical Dictionary.

Oxford, 1949:

selected articles with further

bibliography.

Rose, H.

J.

Handbook of Greek

Greek mythology. Two volumes


in the American series 'Our Debt
to Greece and Rome' provide short
introductions to the larger works

is

earlier classic

&

Thames

the

Greeks.

&

Hudson, 1959
re-tellings of the Greek myths

Mythology. Methuen, 1958 and also

cited above:

'for adults'. Professor

Methuens University Paperbacks.


2 Greek myths have been retold at
various levels and for different

Harrison, Jane. Mythology. Harrap.

worked with Jung on

in

classes

of readers many times since

Two

the Renaissance.

recent

examples are:
Graves, R. Greek Myths. Cassell and

Penguin,
first

many

reprints since the

and 1955

editions of 1958

respectively.

Robert Graves adds a stimulating


personal commentary on the myths.

Grant, M. Myths of
Romans. Weidenfeld

W.

Roman

the

Folklore. Harrap, 1927.

The following

Thames

R. Greek and

are also introductory

Rose, H. ]. Primitive Culture


Methuen, 1925.
Halliday,

&

Hudson, 1955.

Stokes, Adrian. Greek Culture and Ego,

studies:

W.

in Greece.

Tavistock Publications Ltd, 1958


is

the

work of

a Freudian.

5 Studies of particular myths


Harrison, Jane. Myths of the

R. Indo-European

Folk-Tales and Greek Legend.

Art and

Cambridge University Press, 1933.


A modern classic, and one of the
most important works of classical

Odyssey in

and Monuments of ancient Athens,


Macmillan, 1890.

Greeks and

scholarship to have appeared

&

Nicholson,

since 1945,

New EngHsh

Kerenyi has

psychology of myths.
Otto, W. F. The Homeric Gods.

Halliday,

the

1962; Mentor Books,

is

Dodds, E. R. The Greeks and

the

University of California

Literature.

London, 1882;
with M. de G. Verrall Mythology

Hartland, E.

S.

The Legend of Perseus.

London, 1894-1896.

Library, 1965.

Irrational.

3 General books on mythology

Press, 1951;

and Greek culture:


Frazer, Sir J. G. The Golden Bough,

in paperback.

Argonauts. Methuen, 1925.

The shamanistic elements which


Dodds found in some myths have

Nilsson,

been very speculatively developed


two books:

University Press, 1932;

abridged edition, Macmillan, 1922

and subsequent

reprints.

Harrison, Jane. Prolegomena

to the

2nd edition 1959

also

in the following

Study of Greek Religion. Cambridge


University Press, 1903; 3rd edition

Lindsay, Jack. The clashing rocks.

1932; Merlin Press, 1961.

Butterworth, E. A.

Harrison, Jane. Themis: a Study of

of the pre-Olympian World in Greek

the Social Origins

of Greek Religion.

Cambridge University
1,6

Press, 1912;

Greeks.

the

Hudson, 1951 and

The Heroes of

Thames
are

different

Chapman

&

Hall, 1965.
S.

Some Traces

Bacon,

J.

R. The Voyage of

M.

the

P. Mjcenean Origin of

Greek Mythology. Cambridge

Oldbourne, 1964.
Brown, N. O. Hermes
{the Evolution

the

Thief,

of a Myth). University

of Wisconsin Press, 1947.

Literature and Myth, de Gruyter,

Woodward, J. M. Perseus:
in Greek Art and Legend.

Berlin, 1966.

Cambridge University

a Study

Press, 1937.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
publishers gratefully acknowledge the

The

122 bottom. Bibliotheque Nationale:

following sources for permission to repro-

bottom.

duce

Trustees of the British

the illustrations indicated:

Boissonnas-Borel

bottom

top, 60 centre, 72

Colour

The Trustees of
71,

81,

the British

76.

62,

bottom. Hirmer Fotoarchiv:

loi

38 right, 42 top, 42
right,

Museum:

loi

80,

bottom

42 bottom

left,

126-127, 130 top,

top,

130 bottom, front jacket.

M. Holford:

38

50.

10,

Museum:
left,

119

The

12,

37

75, 88 bot-

tom, 94 bottom left, 99 left, 100 top, 102,


107 bottom, 112, 115, 119 top, 131, 133
top. F.

Bruckmann, Munich:

30-31. J. Al-

lan Cash: 90-91, 103. Deutsches Archaeo-

Athens:

97,

105.

D. Hughes-Gilbey

rousse: 46. Metropolitan

New

York:

17, 66-67.

84, 123.

W.

20-21. Pic-

ZFA: back

108.

La-

of Art,

K. Miiller-Bavaria

^- Pedone-Bavaria

ture Point: 24,

13.

Museum

left.

left,

6 right, 18, 19 left, 19 right,

28, 32, 33 top, 36 top left, 36 top right, 56

69 left, 69 right, 72
74, 78, 83, 86 bottom, 92, 93 top,
bottom,
bottom,
106, 109 top, 113
96
93
52,

56,

59,

right,

Black and White

left,

Antikensammlungen, Munich: 25, 68, 94


bottom right, 107 top, 109 bottom. Archives Photographiques 40. Ashmolean Museum: 16, 35 top, 48, 99 right, 109 left,
:

113 right, 116, 124,

historisches

Anderson:
39, 88 top.

57,

22,

Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe,


53. Museum of Fine Arts, Bos-

ton: 35 bottom, 35 bottom, 41, 58, 60 top,


61, 94 top, 95, 100 bottom, 104, 122 top,

122 centre,

Denmark:

129,

121

135.

top,

National

121

Museum,

bottom. Picture

Point: 15, 26, 44, 86 top, 118. Soprintenalle Antichiti della Calabria: 30 bot-

tom.

Soprintendenza
Orientale:

34.

Antichita dell'Etruria:

alle

Antichita della

Soprintendenza
89,

120.

alle

Staatliche

Museen Antikenabteilung, Berlin: 98. Nick


Stournaras, Athens: 97 bottom right, 133
bottom. T.A.P., Athens, 37 bottom
Dietrich

Hans Teuffen-Bavaria

left.

64.

125, 134. Kunst-

Museum, Vienna:

II. Mansell-Alinari

York:

Hamburg:

Sicilia

bottom,
jacket.

bottom.

Hirmer Fotoarchiv: end-

grad: 72 top
papers, 6

New

of Art,

60 bottom, 65, 85, III, 114, 132

54,

denza

Institut,

left,

23,

29, 75. Ehemals Staatliche Museen, Berlin: 14. Konrad Helbig-Bavaria 51. Hermitage, Lenin-

logisches

Museum

ropolitan

128. Mansell:

132 top. Mansell-

87, 96 top. Mansell-Giraudon


Enrico Mariani-Bavaria 49. Met:

from EnJohn
Boardman published by Thames and Hudson, photograph by Robert L. Wilkins.

The

illustration

on page 117

is

graved Gems: The lonides Collection by

INDEX
Figures in

Androgeus

italics refer to captions

Atalanta

Antaeus 100, 106


Antenor 126

Achelous, river 90, 100

Acheron,

Asopus, river 87
Assaracus 117
Astyanax 126

104, 106

Andromache 134
Andromeda 75, 115

Acastus 114, 134


Achelous, painter 61
river 27

Achilles 18, 53, 54, no, 112, 114,

Callisto 35, )6, 79

Calyce 65, 69
Calydonian Boar

78-79, Si, 89,

/(f,

89, 106,

j^,

Calypso 134
Canace 65, 69

Athamas 51, 58, 65, 67, 68


Athena ip, 25, jo, 31, 32,

Antia 70

35,

Anticlus 126

37,

Acrisius 70, 72, 73, 75, 77

Antigone 90

69, 70, 7-2. 7i. 75. 79, S6, 89, 94,

Actaeon

Antigone 53, 90
Antiope 87, 88

96, 9S, 102, 106, 112,

118, 119, 120,

122, 126, IJO

21, 58, 61, 79, 90

Admetus

79, 82, 85,

Adrastus

88,

115

Anu

89

Athena Nike 102

22, 23

19,

Aeetes 67, 105

Aegaeon 32
Aegean Sea 32
Aegeus 104, 107

Apis 55
Apollo II,

Aeacus 114, 115

4h

ii.

Aegina

30,

25, 114
Aegisthus 112, 12S, 131

J9-40. 57.

Aeneas

119,

no,

35, }6,

31, )},
58,

75.

"7

78.

79.

37,

122,

126,

128,

131,

82.

132,

58, 65, 68, 69, 77,

51,

79,

133

Aeschylus 15, S), i}2

Aethra 104

Agamemnon no,

112,

113,

117,

Apollo Lyceius 56
cult of 35, 40
festival of iiS
sanctuary of i}}
temple of 16, 45

ApoUodorus
Apsu 19, 22

118, 119, 128, 131

Centaurs

Agave 58
Aged Sisters 82
Agenor 35, 56

102, 103, 106, 131

64, 86,
81,

82,

<f/,

95, 106, /07

Cephalus 105, 117

Atreus no, 112, 113, 131


house of 85

Cepheus 75

Augeas 96
cowsheds of 98

Cercopes 96
Ceryneian hind 95

Autolycus 69

Ceyx 68
Chaos 16
Charon (dog) y6
Charon of Lampsacus 43

Autonoe

Cerberus

58

Ba'al 55
Bacchae (Euripides) 58, 90

Beasts, mistress of

Bellerophon

96

Cassiopeia 75
Castor /6, 108, 109, 113, 126

Cecrops

Bacchantes 40, 62
Bacchic Rites 65

15, 27, 54,

Carthaginians /^
Cassandra 43, n2, 117, 126

Atlas 25, 32, 35, 47, 96, 98

3?

Aeolids 70

Aeolus

82.

85, 87, 8S, 90, ^S, 99, 115, 117,

117, 12), 126, 134

53, Si,

Mount

Athos,
22, 29, }o, 31,

77, 78, 79,

Catreus 105, 106

temple of 4S

57. 79.

55.

117, iiS,

126, 131

120, I2J,

Aphaea, goddess 25
temple 25, 12;
Aphrodite 16, 18, 19,

Aeacides 114

43. 45. 47, 48, 60, 62, 64,

Hunt

114

114

109,

Belus

j6

69, 70-72, //, 77,

89,

no

27, 47, 95, 98

Charybdis 133, 134


Cheirisophus 120
Childbirth, goddess of 35
Chimaera 27, 70, //, 72
Chiron 82, 95, 114

Chrysaor 75, 104


Chryseis 119

Ba'al

Apsyrtus 85
Arcadians 50

Bias 79, 82

Agriculture, goddess of 33

Areas )6

Blest, Isles

Aidos 45
Ajax 114,

Archicles 76

Boreas 4)

Cimon j6

Ares

Boston Throne 18

Circe 48, 90, i}2, 133, 134, 1}!


Cithaeron, IVlount 62

122, 129

120,

Locrian 112, 126

79, 95, 96,

Alalu 19
Alcaeus 93
Alcestis 82, 99

Alcmaeon 90
Alcmena 93,

94-95,

^0, 31, 37, 57, 61, 69, 77, 78,

Briseis

Argo

Bull Cult, Crete 56

Argus

/;;,

55,

85,

Aristaeus 58, 63

21,

70, ^2, ^y,

98,

106,

Egyptian

131

Amalthea 22
no, 120
Amphiaraus 89, 90

Aristomachus 135
Aristophanes 27, 48
Arsinoe 90
Artemis 21, 25, }o, )2,

18, 19, 22, 47, 49,

114

Cocytus 27
Coeus 16

Comaetho

55

Greek 55
Bull from the Sea

Ariadne 63, 104, 106, 107, 109


Arion 63
Arion, magic horse 89

107,

Bronze Age

105

Alpheus, river 4)
Althaemenes 105-106

Amazons

119

Britomartis 12;

85

Argonauts 79, 82,


Saga of 132

104

Alcyone 65, 68
Alcyoneus 100
Alcyonian, Lake 65

Clashing Rocks 85, 135


Clytemnestra 113, 131, 1)2

Arethusa 43
Argeiphontes see Hermes
Argive Heraeum 55
77,

Chrysippus 112
Chrysothemis 128

of 47, 95, 129

Briareus 32, 36, 61

112, 120

100,

see

106, 109

Bull-leaping 12, 56

93

'Conductor of Souls' 39
Core 12, 33, 35, 63
Coronis 79, 82

Cosmogony
Greek

Cachrylion 94

Cadmean victory 90
Cadmus 54, 56, 57, 58,
87,

88,

Caeneus

no

81,

82

Cow
63, 65, 67,

16

19,

23

goddess 55

Creation myth

Creon, king 89, 90, 94


Cresphontes 135

Calliope 63

Cretan Bull 95
Cretheus 65, 68, 69, 79
Crius 16

Amyntor Ormenides 69

Asclepius 79, 82, 85

Callirhoe 90

Crommyonian sow

Anchises 117

Ash nymphs

Callistc 35

Cronides 53

Amphion

87, 88

Amphitryon

Amymone

158

93, 95

56

37. J9, 45.


Si, 90,

58, 61,

jj, 35, 36,

Calais 82, 103

72, 78,

Calcash 119, 129

87,

109, 117, 118, 11^, 131

18

see

Phaca

Cronus

i6,

19, 22, 25, 27,

i8,

29,

Cuictes 22
25, 37,

tf;,

Cyllene,

Mount

39

Da

79, 152, 153

Danaus 54, 55, 56,


Danube, river 85
Dardanus 53
105,

70,

117,

no

Gorgus, dog 76

Eratosthenes 54

Graces, the 31, 57, 106

Hours

'Guilt Culture' 12, 45, 58

Hundred-handers

Hades

Eteocles 88,

120

22,

25,

29, }0,

35, 36, 47.

56,

63, 68, 69, 73,

16,

82,

79,

Eros 19, 4}
Erymanthian boar 47,
Escorter of souls 4}

106

90

.??,

90,

0/
Haemon

100,

104,

113,

114,

133,

Euboea

Hebe

Delphic Oracle 40,

Eumenides 131
Euphronius 94

Demophoon

)o, jz, 33, 34, 35,

33

53, 61, 120, 122, 126,

(Aeschylus)

Euripides

Europa

Deucalion 49, 51, 63, 67, 87


Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1

Dido 81
Diomede

35

F.iimenides

129

57, 61, 82,

12, 53, /;, 56, 57.

Eurypylus 61
Eurysaces 122
Eurystheus 47, 93, 94, 98, 106, 155
Eurytion 76
Eurytus

9S, 99

Evenus

77, 78,

Exekias )), 65, 109

Dioscuri //, 109, 115, 126


Dirce 87, 88

19,

Earth

113

goddess of 4)
Phrygian gods of 58

shrine of 54

Italian

Sicilian goddess of }2
Thracian gods of 58

100,

god oi )6, no
Flood myths, Greek 49-51
Fresh water, god of 19

Gaia

18,

22,

32,

Bow

33,

102

1)4,

Glaucytes 76, 106


Glisas, battle of 90

Electra 12S

Gold, age of 45
Golden Apples 79

152, 135

quest of 79

67

Herodotus 43,
Heroic Age 89
Hesiod 14, 16,

31, )2, }}, )6,

37,

105

102,

29, 68,

Jocasta,

Queen

77,

79,

88

Joseph 70
Paris 122

Judgement of
Juno 29
Jupiter 29

22, 45, 47, 48, 63,

22, 23

Labdacus 88
Labyrinth 105, 106, 107
Laertes 131

Laestrygonians 133

?6

25, 79,

Laius 88, 104


96,

98

Laocoon

i2j,

Hestia 22

Laomedon

Hippodameia 112

Laphystius,

Queen

92

Girdle of 96
Hippolyte 115, 120

Hippolytus

76,

lOI

Kouros )7
Kumarbi 19,

67

53,

garden of 100
golden Apples of

Hippolyta,

no

/;;/

Hesione 115, 117

77, 85

of the Blest 47, 95, 129


Isthmian games 89
Ixion 36, 82,

89

15,

55

Isles

Jason

27, )0,

Hesperides

Isis

(Euripides) 61

Hermione 134

108

59
Iron, age of 45

Itys

of 119

Mad

112, 122, 151, i}2, 133,

98

67

Golden Bowl 96
Golden Fleece 68,
6j,

112,

39-40, 41, 43, 48, !), 55, ;/, 6',


69, 75, 82, 85, 94, 95, 106, no,

of Hesperides ^6, 98
Golden Bough (Sir James Frazer)

Golden ram

Heracles

Hermes

117

Glaucus 106

69, 77
Enipeus, river 68

122,

107,

Heras 108
Herb of life 85, 99, loi, 106, 133
Herds, god of the 41

Georgics (Virgil) 63
27, 75,

106,

104,

Heraeum 54

33

Geryon

lOI,

Twelve Labours of 96

sanctuary of 8)
115,

Iris

25, 29, 47, ji, 72,

115, 118, 120,

131, Ij2

Eilithyia 35

Endymion

lolaus 72, ^4, 95, 98, 99, 100

Iphigenia n8, n9, 131

117

82, ^2, 93, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99,

Flocks,

Elara 35
Electra 128, 131

Enchanter 133

58, 60, 61, 67, 85

Iphimedia 69, 73

temple of 92
Heracles n, 21,

58

Girl, deity 34, 82,

/;;/

Ino

Iphicles 92, 94

Egyptus

shade of

Inachus, river 55, 56

lo 54-55, 56
lobates 70

100, loi,

98,

cattle of 95, 96
Gilgamesh, epic of 85

Elpenor 133

no,

21, 22, 23, 28, 29, }0, 51, 32,

cult 37, 82, 88, 118

Ecstatic cult 63

Eleusis 103

57,

108,

lole 99, 100

Ge

Electryon 93
Eleon 69

95,

I02,

82, 90, 9/, 94, 95,

mother

56

32, )}, 36, 57,

68, 69, 7),

Ganymede

55,

48,

115, 117

Ilus
31,

.'/,

Fertility

goddess 48

Echidna 27

Hephaestus

103

lUuyankas, dragon 27

Hellen 51
Hellespont 120

59. 43. 55. 5^. 60,

100

mother-goddess 33
mother, Phrygian 58

Ilithya 94

67. //

(!/,

temple of //

22

55

Irissus, river 2),

Helle

1)0

Furies 18, 22, 75, 79, 89, 90, 112,

16, 18, 22, 23, 27, 32, 35, j6,

122,

119,

117,

37.

rites

50, 99,

"o.

120,

115,

114,

35. 36.

128,

Ea

39. 54. 61. 63. 70. 77. 79.

Helenus 122, 134

Hera

riod

Dryads 43
Dryas 62
Dryops 40

129, 131

Fates 82

Dorian invasion 11
Dorian period see pre-Dorian peDorians 12
Douris y^
Dragon's teeth 85

108, 109, 113, 119, 122,

j6,

117

107,

Iliad 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 29, 33, 37,

126, 129, 134

39,

112,

88,

93. 95. 98. i2. '6, 118

Idomeneus

117

54, 112,

33

rape of io6, 114, 117

Dionysus

62, 63, 67, 68, 78, 82, Sj,

Helen

90
7/. 95.

104
Eurydice 63

Mares of 95
Dione 29
27, j8, 39, 40, 58, 60, 61,

<?/.

70

56,

Idas 77, 78
Idasus 76

Hebrus, river 63
Hector 119, 120, 126

/_;_'

Hyperion 16
Hypermnestra

Icarius 62, 63,

loi

57,

Hecuba

15, )S,

Harmonia

Hylas 82
Hyllus 98, 135

lapetus 16, 47
lasion 54

Euaenetus 4}

57, 88, 104, 131

23, 25

Hydra 27

lambe

Deianeira 78, ^S, 100, loi


Deiphobus 126

Delphyna 27
Demeter 22, 251,
68, no, U2

55

57

Haemus, Bloody Mountain 27


Handbook of Greek Mythology
57, 89, 90
Harpies 82, 112, i)}

27,

22,

37, 47,

55

Etna,

Mount

34,

33,

98,

95,

112,

108,

io6,
95, ^S,

Ether 16

16

16,

Hurrians 19

105

64,

27

22, 23,

Epopeus 87

Dead, goddess of the 35


Death 69, 72, 82

Day

19

myth

Homer 14,
Hope 49

Eriphyle 89

135

Hittite
75, 12;

62,

27

sister

Erigone 63

72, 73

56, 70,

36,

Epic of Gilgamesh 85
Epimetheus 47, 48, 49

Hippothoe 93

70, 71, 72, 75, 82

blood 69
head 25,

Erichthonius 102, 103, 115

Danaans 34
Danae 51, 60,

Dawn

Gorgons

55

Erebus 16
Erechtheus

33

Daedalus 105, 107

Danaids

Epaphus

Ephialtes 37, 69, 90, 99

32. 45. 47. 49. 63, 82

Cyclops

.'.',

107, 108, 109, 120

126

115

Mount

67

Lapith loi
Latinus 134

Latmus, Mount 69
Leda 55, ^6, 109, 112,

82,

85,

Lerna, springs of 56, 63


Lernaean hydra 95, 98
Lethe, river 27

Naiads 45
Nausicaa 132
Neleus 68, 79, 87, 100
Nemean Lion )), 95

Parnassus,

Mount

Parthenon

31, 64, 86, lO}, 113, 126,

14, 51, 8)

')!

Porphyrion 100
Pomegranate 36
Poseidon 16, if,

29, )0, 51, 32, 53,

Parthenopaeus 79, 89
Parthenos 35

35.

Pascas y/
Pasiphae 12, 105

102,

104,

105,

109,

112,

114,

115,

122,

126,

129,

131,

132,

Nephele 65

Patroclus 70, 72, 119, 120, i)0

Libya 55

Nereids 43

Paul, Saint 126

Linear B, Mycenaean 70

Pausanias- 15, 50, 60, 63, 64

Lipara 100

Nereus 43, 75
Nessus 100, loi

134
temple of 27
shrine of 64

Peace 48

Praxiteles if

Locrian Ajax 112, 126

Nestor, 87, 100, 129

Pegasus, the winged horse 6), 70,

Ludovisi Throne iS

New

Pre-Dorian period 53
Priam 117, 119, 120,
126

87, SS

Leto 32, 35, )9,


Leucippus 1 1

Leucius 76
Leucothea 67, 134
Library (Apollodorus)

Mount

Lycaeus,

50,

Nemesis 45
Neoptolemus

79

Lycaon 49-51, 112

134,

Nile, river 55, 85

Mount

Nipple,

Lyssa 61

Nyctimus 50

North wind
Nycteus
Nysa,

115

103,

27, 60, 61

40, 58, 61, 63

Marathon,

of 40

battle

bull of 106

Marduk

Odysseus 49,

22

Mares of Diomede 95
Maia 39, 40

Manto 129
Marpessa

Ocean 16, 32
Oceanus 16, 19,

77, 78, 82

Marsyas 75

Medea 85, 87,


Medusa 70, 73,

100, loi, 105


75, 82, 104

106

99,

69, 77, 90, iiz,


120,

113,

117,

118,

129,

132,

133, 134,

122,

126,

in

Greek

my-

thology 22
77, 8}, 8j, 88, 89, 94,

Megarus 5
Melampus 79, 82
Melanion 76, 79
Melanippus 89
Meleager 76,

77, 78, 79, Si

Meliae 43
1

78, 89

Oenomaus

112

Oeta,

20
113, 117, 119, 129,

154

Proteus 129

58,

34,

35,

Periphetes 106
27, 2p, }0,

35,

34,

35, 36, 48, 63, 68, 82, 103, 108

Psyche 4)

Pyriphlegethon, river

Pyrrha 49,

75. 77. 79. 82, 93, 115

Pyrrhus

Pythia 43

Peter, Saint 126

Python

Phaea 106
Phaedra 108
Phaethon 49, 107

Rameses

35, //

II

135

Return of the Maiden 18

Rhadamanthys 104
Rhea 16, 22, 23
Rhesus 120, 126
Rhoecus of Cnidos 43
Sack of Troy 54, no, 112
Sacred Spring 118
Salmoneus 65, 68, 69

Phocus 114
Phoebe 16
Pholus 9!
((/,

27

114

51,

Pyrrhic victory 90

cult of io

Phrixus

98, 99

Psiax 10)

Pterelaus 93
Pylades 128

Pericles 2j, 48, 62, 86, lO), ij!

18,

47, 51, 95

Psychopompus 59

62

Philomela 102, 103


Phineus 82, 85

Oinanthe 102
Old Man of the Sea 129

Omphale

Pelops 77, 88, no, 112, 114, 122


Penelope 117, 131, 154
Penthesilea no, 120

Philoctetes 119, 120, 122

loi

37, 40, 63, 69, 100, loi

Menelaus 112,

Protesilaus 120

Philippides 40

Mount

Proetus 70, 77

Pelium 37

Phasis, river 85

Oenopion 36

Olympia 21, 4), )6, lof


Olympus, Mount //, 23,

Melicertes 67, 85

Memnon

Oeneus

67, 85

Sarpedon

72,

120

Onatas }2
Ophertes Archemorus 89

Phrygian cap 75
Phylacus 79, 118

Saturn 47

Menestheus 108
Metaneira 33
Metis 32

Orchomenus 94

Pindar 15

Sciron 106

Oreads 43

Pirithous 82, 106, 107, 108, /oy

Scylla 106,

Midas

Orestes

Pisistratus loi

Sea 16

Pittheus 104

Sea goddess, Asia Minor 19

Plato 56
Pleiads 129

Selinus 21, 28

61,

63; 75

Midias

SS,

Milky

Way

Minos

104, 105, 106, 107, 114

Minotaur

100

12, y6, 85, 102, 105, 106,

Mistress of Beasts }2, )6

Mithras 7/

Mnemosyne

69, 99

Mopsus

76, 129

Mother-goddess

29, 31, 35, ^/, 56,

102, 117

Muses 43
Mycenae //
Mycenaean Linear B 70
Myrmidons 70

56,

Orpheus 63
Orthus 27
Ossa 37, 69
Otus 37, 69,

117

58,

151,

1)2,

Scamander, river 115, 120

Semele 58, 60, 61, 63


Seven against Thebes

Pluto 34
Plutus 34
90, 99

133, ij4

culture 14, 45, 122

Po, river 49, 85

Shame

Podargos, dog 76

Shepherd god

35

n7

Podes 76
Pactolus, river 65

Pollux 76, 82, 108, 10^, n3, 126

Sidero 68

Palaemon 67

Polybus 88

Silenus 61, 63, 68

Palladium 122, 125

Polydectes 75

Pallas 125

Polydegmon 54

Pan

Polygnotus

40, 43, //, 61, 75

cult

Pan painter
Pandareus

j8,

Polynices 88,

61

no

Paris 117,

Mount
119,

120

Polyxena

112,

Pontus 16

Sipylus,

Mount

87,

no

Sirens 70, 82, 133


8p,

90

blinding of ijo
61

of 47

Sinis 106

112

Polypemon Procrustes 106


Polyphemus 132, ijj

Pandion 102
Pandora 48-49, 63

Mysteries, ritual of 34

Silver, age

81,

Polyidus 106

of 40

77, 89, 90,

122, 129

Sibyl

Pangaeus,

140

37,

Orithyia 103

uz

Myrtilus

128,

16

Molione, the 100


Molossus 154

Moon

119,

135

Orion

94

no

10),

90,

122,

Procne 102, 103, 112

Promachos 62
Prometheus 45,

69, 114

Perseus 25, 51, 54, 61, 70, 7/, 72-

Oecles 89
Oedipal element

104

Megarians

Mount

Persephone

/;;/

Odyssey 14, 15, 25, 29, 35, 39, 43,


4>, 63, 77, 131, 132, I})

Oedipus 47,

///,

122,

Procris 105

Pentheus

23, 33, 82

6),

114,

134
Pelion,

87, 88

Mount

109,

Pelias 68, 79, 82, 85, 87, loi, 107,

82

82,

72. 75

Pelasgus 50
Peleus i8, 57, 76,

"7

no, 112

87, 88,

Lynceus 56, 77, 11}


Lycurgus 61, 82
Lycus 87, 88

Megara

126,

Year Festival, Babylonian 19


Night 16

Niobe

painter 61

Maenads

122,

120,

i?5

37. 53. 55. 56, 68, 69,

56.

7. 75. 77. 82, 86, 93, 95, too,

122, 126

Sisyphus 65, 68, 69, 70,


Sithnid 51

Sky god, Asia Minor 19


Greek 29
Sleep 72
Snake god, lUyrian 57

no

Temcnus

Solymians 70
Sophocles 15,

Sown men

Si,

90,

129

88

myth of 57

Sparti,

Sphinxes 80,
Sthenelus 94

S7,

88, ij)

Sthenoboea
see

p4, 95

Asia Minor

Virgil 47, 63

battle of 25
Tithonus 117, 120

War

Themis 16, 55
Theodorus 4J

Theseus
22, 27

Greelv 32, 35, 56, 37, 39, 63,


70, 96, 99, 114
original 75

106,

//, /6,

134

Ludovisi iS
Thucydides 43,

Tantalus 47, 87, no, 112


115, 117

Telegonus 1 54
Telemachus 118, 131, 134
Telephus 118

104,

no

Thetis 32, 39, 57, 61, 65, 85, 114,

Talos 105
19

102,

Thcspius 94

Thief god 27
Three eyed man 135
Throne, Boston iS

105, 133

98,

Thunder god
Thyestes no,
Thyone 65

Triptolemus 34
Troilus 120

48

107, 108, 109,

of the 100, 134


Supplanter, myth of the 87, 88

51, 34, 85, 96, 99,

Taphus 93
Telamon 114,

25,

12,

115, 117, !jo,

cattle

Tamisu

22,

Tros 1 1
Trygaeus 48
Twelve Labours of Heracles pi
Twelve Olympians jo
Twins, in Greek mythology 55
Tydeus 89
Tyndareus !op, 112, 113, 117

Typhoeus

Typhon

53

112, 131

Typhon

27,

35,

37

giant 70

Tyro

48

Water of life 85, 98, 99, loi


White goddess see Leucothea
Wooden horse of Troy 126
W'orks and Days (Hesiod) 14, 48
World, creation of the 16

Zemelo

58

Zetes 82, 103

Zethus 87, 88
Zeus 14, 19, 2/,
29, JO,

31,

22, 23, 2;, 27,

32,

33,

5 5.

56. 60, 6i, 67, 68,

2<f,

jiS,

70,

90, 93, 94, 95, pi, 99, lol, 102,

27

Underworld 18, 25, 39, 6S, 100


Uranus 18, 22, 23, 27, 32, 33, 75,
99

104,

loj,

107,

112,

113,

114,

119,

120,

122,

134,

135

108,
115,
125,

temple of S6
Vegetation

Zeus-bull 12

Timanthes

Phrygian gods of 58
Thracian gods of 58
Vegetation cult, Thracian 62

Zeus helper 32
Zeus Laphystius 67
Zeus of escapes 67

up

35,

72. 73. 78. 79. 82. 85, 87, 89,

Tiamat

19, 22
Tiberius, Emperor 54
Tigris, river 19, 22

34,

57. 39. 40. 47. 48, 49. 5. 51.


/i.

68, 73

UUikummi

14

see

2;,

Vine, Phrygian god of the 58

13;

Tityus 35-36, jp
16,

14,

Thersites 120

Theseum
19,

Odes (Pindar)

ic/orj

Titans 16, 18, 23, 27, 47, 69

Thersander 90

114, 117

Tisamenus

32

19,

27. 29. 32. 43. 47.

Styx 25
Succession myth

Sun

Tiresias 43, 90, 129, 133, 134

135

Tereus loz, 105

There 7^

Stymphalian birds

Tethvs 16,
Theia 16

Theogony (Hesiod)

70, 72
also Antia

Storm god 29
Strife

109,

no,

ir/,

iiS,

126,

132,

^v.X
'^A

H^

(Wilfred Ltt)

John Pinsent was born


Gloucestershire,

in

at

1922.

at Oriel College, Oxford.

after World War


do research instead

Winchcomb,

He read 'Greats'
He completed his
and accepted an

offer

degree

II

to

of rejoining the Royal

He

Air Force.

did.

however, remain an active

Reserve and is now a


Squadron Leader. He has been teaching Greek
at Liverpool University since 1950. But he still
considers himself a Roman historian, and is
writing a commentary on Livy which has

member

of the Volunteer

developed from his doctoral thesis. He finds


Greek literature perpetually interesting
and stimulating. This book has arisen
from extra-mural lectures in which he tried
to relate literature to the social structure

of

Greek

life.

For the interpretation of his subject


an Important part

to the general public Is

of the duties of a university lecturer.


Dr. Pinsent

and

lives

in

has three children


Liverpool.

;^