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Title: Lesson 21 The Olympians
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(Date Posted:07/01/2009 07:05 AM)
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What Is The History Of The Olympian Gods?

Where Did They Come From?

What Is There Background?

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:18 AM)

The Olympian Gods and Goddesses

In Greek mythology, twelve gods and goddesses ruled the universe from atop Greece's Mount Olympus. These Olympians had come to power after their leader, Zeus, overthrew his father, Kronos, leader of the Titans. All the Olympians are related to one another. The Romans adopted most of these Greek gods and goddesses, but with new names.

Zeus (Roman name: Jupiter)

The most powerful of all, Zeus was god of the sky and the king of Olympus. His temper affected the weather, and he threw thunderbolts when he was unhappy. He was married to Hera but had many other lovers. His symbols include the oak and the thunderbolt.

Hera (Roman name: Juno)

Hera was goddess of marriage and the queen of Olympus. She was Zeus's wife and sister; many myths tell of how she sought revenge when Zeus betrayed her with his lovers. Her symbols include the peacock and the cow.

Poseidon (Roman name: Neptune)

Poseidon was god of the sea. He was the most powerful god except for his brother, Zeus. He lived in a beautiful palace under the sea and caused earthquakes when he was in a temper. His symbols include the horse and the trident (a three-pronged pitchfork).

Hades (Roman name: Pluto)

Hades was king of the dead. He lived in the underworld, the heavily guarded land where he ruled over the dead. He was the brother of Zeus and the husband of Persephone, Demeter's daughter, whom he kidnapped.

Aphrodite (Roman name: Venus)

Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, and the protector of sailors. She may have been the daughter of Zeus and the Titan Dione, or she may have risen from the sea on a shell. Her symbols include the myrtle tree and the dove.

Apollo

Apollo was the god of music and healing. He was also an archer, and hunted with a silver bow. Apollo was the son of Zeus and the Titan Leto, and the twin of Artemis. His symbols include the laurel tree, the crow, and the dolphin.

Ares (Roman name: Mars)

Ares was the god of war. He was both cruel and a coward. Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, but neither of his parents liked him. His symbols include the vulture and the dog, and he often carried a bloody spear.

Artemis (Roman name: Diana)

Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the protector of women in childbirth. She hunted with silver arrows and loved all wild animals. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin of Apollo. Her symbols include the cypress tree and the deer.

Athena (Roman name: Minerva)

Athena was the goddess of wisdom. She was also skilled in the art of war, and helped heroes such as Odysseus and Hercules. Athena sprang full-grown from the forehead of Zeus, and became his favorite child. Her symbols include the owl and the olive tree.

Hephaestus (Roman name: Vulcan)

Hephaestus was the god of fire and the forge (a furnace in which metal is heated). Although he made armor and weapons for the gods, he loved peace. He was the son of Zeus and Hera and married Aphrodite. His symbols include the anvil and the forge.

Hestia (Roman name: Vesta)

Hestia was the goddess of the hearth (a fireplace at the center of the home). She was the most gentle of the gods, and does not play a role in many myths. Hestia was the sister of Zeus and the oldest of the Olympians. Fire is among her symbols.

Hermes (Roman name: Mercury)

Hermes was the messenger god, a trickster, and a friend to thieves. He was said to have invented boxing and gymnastics. He was the son of Zeus and the constellation Maia. The speediest of all, he wore winged sandals and a winged hat and carried a magic wand.

…also sometimes included:

Demeter (Roman name: Ceres)

Demeter was the goddess of the harvest. The word “cereal” comes from her Roman name. She was the sister of Zeus. Her daughter, Persephone, was forced to live with Hades each winter; at this time Demeter let no crops grow. Her symbols include wheat.

Dionysus (Roman name: Bacchus)

Dionysus was the god of wine, which he invented. In ancient Greece Dionysus was honored with springtime festivals that centered on theater. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, a mortal. His symbols include ivy, the snake, and grapes.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:23 AM)

Although the exact period that the Olympian Gods ruled is lost in the fog of time, it seems that from 800 B.C until A.D. 400, the ancient Greeks worshiped them and believed these deities controlled aspects of life and the natural world.

Zeus ruled clouds and rain and decided outcomes of battles. His weapon was a thunderbolt with which he hurled at those who displease him. He was also known to punish those that lie or break oaths

Poseidon was the god of the sea, protector of all waters. He was widely worshiped by seamen.

Hades was the lord of the underworld, ruling over the dead. He was a greedy god who is greatly concerned with increasing his subjects.

Hera was the supreme goddess, goddess of marriage and childbirth and takes special care of married women.

Apollo was the god of healing who taught man medicine and the god of prophecy

Aphrodite was the goddess of love, desire and beauty. She represented sex, affection, and the attraction that binds people together.

Hermes was the god of commerce. He was the guide for the dead to go to the underworld.

Artemis was goddess of chastity, virginity, the hunt, the moon, and the natural environment. She was the lady of the wild things and the protector of the young.

Hephaestus was the patron god of both smiths and weavers.

Athena was fierce and brave in battle but, only wars to defend the state and home from outside enemies. She is the goddess of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:23 AM)

Birth of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses

Three generations try to hide, eat, or destroy their children.

 

Greek mythology contains creation stories that are very different from either the story of Adam and Eve or the Big Bang. In Greek myths about the early world, themes of parental treachery alternate with tales of filial betrayal.

1.                              In Generation 1, the sky (Uranus) hides his children inside his wife, Mother Earth (Gaia).

2.                            In Generation 2, the Titan father (Cronus) swallows his children, the newborn Olympians.

1.                              In Generation 3,

·                                                         Zeus swallows one mate and sews the soon-to-be born offspring of another inside himself after he kills the mother.

·                                                         Hera, the wife of Zeus, creates a god -- without a mate, but even he isn't safe from his parents, for Hera (or Zeus) hurls her son from Mt. Olympus.

1st Generation

Since generation implies a coming into being, that which was there from the beginning is not generated. What has always been there, whether it be a god or a primeval force (here, Chaos), is not the first generation. If it requires a number, it can be referred to as Generation Zero. Even the first generation here gets a bit tricky if examined too closely, since it could be said to cover 3 generations, but that's irrelevant for this look at parents (particularly, fathers) and their treacherous relations with their children.

According to some versions of Greek mythology, in the beginning of the universe there was Chaos. Chaos was all alone [Hesiod Theog. l.116], but soon Gaia (Earth) appeared. Without benefit of a sexual partner, Gaia gave birth to Uranus (Sky) to provide covering and father the 50-headed Hecatonchires, the Cyclopes (Cyclops), and the 12 Titans.

2nd Generation

Eventually, the Titans paired off, male and female:

·                                 Cronus and Rhea,

·                                 Iapetus and Themis,

·                                 Oceanus and Tethys,

·                                 Hyperion and Theia,

·                                 Crius and Mnemosyne, and

·                                 Coeus and Phoebe

to produce rivers and springs, second generation Titans, Atlas and Prometheus, moon (Selene), sun (Helios), and many others. Much earlier, before the Titans paired off, their father, Uranus, who was hateful and fearful that one of his sons might overthrow him, shut all his children inside his wife, their Mother Earth (Gaia).

"And he used to hide them all away in a secret place of Earth so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Heaven rejoiced in his evil doing. But vast Earth groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons."
- Hesiod Theogony, which is all about the generation of gods.

An alternate story of the use of that flint sickle comes from 1.1.4 Apollodorus*, who says Gaia was angry because Uranus had thrown his first children, the Cyclopes, into Tartarus. At any rate, Gaia was angry with her husband for imprisoning their children either within her or in Tartarus, and she wanted her children released. Cronus, the dutiful son, agreed to do the dirty work of using the sickle to castrate his father.

3rd Generation

Then Cronus, with his sister Rhea as wife, sired six children:

1.                              Hestia,

2.                            Hera,

3.                             Demeter,

4.                            Poseidon,

5.                             Hades, and, lastly,

6.                             Zeus.

Cursed by his father, Cronus was afraid of his own children. After all, he knew how savage he had been. He knew better than to repeat the mistakes his father had made, so instead of imprisoning his children in his wife's body (or Tartarus), he swallowed them.

Like her mother before her, Rhea wanted her children free. With the help of her parents, she figured out how to defeat her husband. When it was time to give birth to Zeus, she did it in secret. Cronus knew she was due and asked for the new baby to swallow. Instead of feeding him Zeus, Rhea substituted a stone. (No one said the Titans were intellectual giants.)

Zeus matured safely until he was old enough to force his father to regurgitate his 5 siblings. As G.S. Kirk points out in The Nature of Greek Myths, with the oral rebirth of his brothers and sisters, Zeus, once youngest, became the oldest. At any rate, he became leader of the gods on snow-capped Mt. Olympus.

4th Generation

Zeus, a first generation Olympian (although in the third generation since the creation), was father to the following second generation Olympians -- in one account or another:

·                                 Athena,

·                                 Aphrodite,

·                                 Ares,

·                                 Apollo,

·                                 Artemis,

·                                 Dionysus,

·                                 Hermes,

·                                 Hephaestus, and

·                                 Persephone.

The list of Olympians contains 12 gods and goddesses, but their identities vary. Hestia and Demeter, entitled to spots on Olympus, sometimes surrender their seats.

 

Parents of Aphrodite and Hephaestus

Although they may have been Zeus' children, the lineage of 2 second-generation Olympians is in question:

·                                 Some claim Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) sprang from the foam and severed genitals of Uranus. Homer refers to Aphrodite as the daughter of Dione and Zeus.

·                                 Some (including Hesiod in the introductory quote) claim Hera as sole parent of Hephaestus, the lame blacksmith god.

"But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head to bright-eyed Tritogeneia (29), the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles. But Hera without union with Zeus -- for she was very angry and quarrelled with her mate -- bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in crafts more than all the sons of Heaven."
-
Hesiod Theogony 924ff

It is interesting, but to my knowledge insignificant, that these two with uncertain parentage married.

Zeus as Parent

Many of Zeus' liaisons were unusual; for instance, he disguised himself as a cuckoo bird to seduce Hera. Two of his children were born in a manner he might have learned from his father or grandfather: Zeus swallowed Metis while she was pregnant. When the fetus was fully formed, Zeus gave birth to their daughter Athena. Lacking the proper feminine apparatus, he gave birth through his head. After Zeus had frightened or burned his mistress Semele to death, but before she was completely incinerated, Zeus removed the fetus of Dionysus from her womb and sewed it into his thigh where the wine god-to-be developed until ready for rebirth.

*Apollodorus, a 2nd Century B.C. Greek scholar, wrote a Chronicles and On the Gods, but the reference here is to the Bibliotheca or Library, which is falsely attributed to him.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:27 AM)

Genealogy of the First Gods

Origin of the Titans and Gods

 

The genealogy of the gods is complicated because the stories told about them are inconsistent and often contradictory. However, since the ancient Greeks traced their ancestry and that of their heroes to the deities, you should have at least a passing acquaintance with the lineages. Further back in mythological time than the gods and goddesses are their ancestors, the primordial powers. Other pages in this series look at some of the genealogical relationships among the primordial powers and their other descendants. This page shows the generations referred to in the mythological genealogies.

Generation 0 - Chaos, Gaia, Eros, and Tartaros

In the beginning were primordial forces. Accounts differ as to how many, but Chaos was probably the first. The Ginnungagap of Norse mythology is similar to Chaos, a sort of nothingness, black hole, or chaotic, swirling disorder or state of conflict. Gaia, the Earth, came next. Eros and Tartaros may also have sprung into existence at about the same time. This is not a numbered generation because these forces were not generated, born, created, or otherwise produced. Either they were always there or they materialized, but the idea of generation involves some sort of creation, so the forces of Chaos, the earth (Gaia), love (Eros), and Tartaros are before the first generation.

Generation 1

The earth (Gaia) was the great mother, a creator. Gaia created and then mated with the heavens (Ouranos) and the sea (Pontos). She also produced, but did not mate with the mountains.

Generation 2

From Gaia's union with the heavens (Ouranos) came the Hecatonchires (hundred-handers: Kottos, Briareos, and Gyes), the three cyclops (Brontes, Sterope, and Arges), and the Titans (Kronos [Cronus], Rheia [Rhea], Kreios [Crius], Koios [Coeus], Phoibe [Phoebe], Okeanos [Oceanus], Tethys, Hyperion, Theia [Thea], Iapetos [Iapetus], Mnemosyne, and Themis).

Generation 3

From the Titan pair Kronos and his sister Rhea came the first Olympian gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia).

Generation 4

From the mating of Zeus and Hera came Ares, the cup-bearer Hebe, Hephaestus, and the goddess of childbirth Eileithuia. There are other, conflicting genealogies. For instance, Eros is also called the son of Iris, instead of the more conventional Aphrodite, or the primeval anc uncreated force Eros; Hephaestus may have been born to Hera without aid of a male.


In case it is not completely clear in this table where brothers marry sisters, Kronos (Cronos), Rheia (Rhea), Kreios, Koios, Phoibe (Phoebe), Okeanos (Oceanos), Tethys, Hyperion, Theia, Iapetos, Mnemosyne, and Themis are all offspring of Ouranos and Gaia. Likewise, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter and Hestia are all offspring of Kronos and Rheia.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:39 AM)

Descendants of the Titans

Pallas, Perses, and Astraios



The Titans were children of Okeanos and Gaia, siblings of the Cyclops and the Hecatonchires (hundred-handers). In the beginning, they had a very limited selection of mates, so they generally married one another, Oceanus mated with Tethys, Hyperion with Theia, Koios with Phoibe, Kronos with Rheia. However, Mnemosyne mated with Zeus, Kreios with his cousin Eurybia, and Iapetos with his niece Klymene, the daughter of his brother Okeanos.


TABLE OF HYPERION AND THEIA

CHAOS
GAIA
EROS
TARTAROS
 
 
 
(GAIA=) PONTOS
OURANOS (=GAIA)
 

 
NEREUS, PHORKYS, THAUMAS, KETO, EURYBIA   HYPERION=THEIA 
KREIOS, KOIOS, PHOIBE, OKEANOS, TETHYS, KRONOS, RHEIA, IAPETOS, MNEMOSYNE, THEMIS
 
 
 
HELIOS,

SELENE, IOS  
  PHAETHOUS, LAMPETIE, PHAETHON  


TABLE OF OKEANOS AND TETHYS

relationships.

Generations 0-1 Pontos=Gaia
Gen. 2 Nereus, Thaumas, Phorkys, Keto, EURYBIA
Gen. 0-1 Ouranos=Gaia
Gen. 2 KREIOS, Hyperion, Kronos, Rheia, Okeanos, Iapetus, Themis, Theia, Mnemosyne, Tethys
Gen. 2 Eurybia=Kreios
Gen. 3 Astraios, Pallas, Perses

Pallas
Pallas (son of Eurybeia and the titan Kreios) mated with the River Styx, offspring of the Titans Okeanos and Tethys. Their offspring were ZELOS (glory), NIKE (victory), KRATOS (power), and BIA (force).
Gen. 2 EURYBIA=Kreios Okeanos=Tethys
PALLAS=Styx
Gen. 3 ZELOS, NIKE, KRATES, BIA

Astraios
Astraios mated with the Dawn (Eos) daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Thea. The children of Astraios and Eos were the winds, BOREAS, ZEPHYROS, and NOTOS.

Gen. 2 EURYBIA=Kreios Hyperion=Thea
ASTRAIOS= Eos
Gen. 3 BOREAS, ZEPHYROS, NOTOS

Perses
Perses mated with the children of Koios and Phoibe to produce HEKATE.
Gen.2 EURYBIA=Kreios Koios=Phoibe
PERSES=Asterie
Gen. 3 HEKATE

Gaia's children Eurybia (daughter of a different father, Pontos; therefore not a Titan) and Kreios (a Titan son of Ouranos) mated to produce Astraios, Pallas and Perses.

Two of Gaia's other Titan children, Okeanos and Tethys bore a series of sons, possibly as many as 3,000, and possibly the same number of daughters referred to as the Okeanids, among whom was the River Styx (because she joined with Zeus in the Titanomachy, oaths are sworn by her) who mated with Pallas. Gaia's Titan children Hyperion and Thea mated to produce Eos (dawn) who mated with Astraios, as well as Helios, and Selene. The remaining child of Eurybia and the Titan Kreios, Perses, mated with Asterie, daughter of the Titans Koios and Phoibe. Asterie's sister was Leto (mother of Artemis and Apollo). Asterie and Perses produced the goddess Hekate.

The tables above and below should help clarify the relationships.

 

Generations 0-1 Pontos=Gaia
Gen. 2 Nereus, Thaumas, Phorkys, Keto, EURYBIA
Gen. 0-1 Ouranos=Gaia
Gen. 2 KREIOS, Hyperion, Kronos, Rheia, Okeanos, Iapetus, Themis, Theia, Mnemosyne, Tethys
Gen. 2 Eurybia=Kreios
Gen. 3 Astraios, Pallas, Perses

Pallas
Pallas (son of Eurybeia and the titan Kreios) mated with the River Styx, offspring of the Titans Okeanos and Tethys. Their offspring were ZELOS (glory), NIKE (victory), KRATOS (power), and BIA (force).
Gen. 2 EURYBIA=Kreios Okeanos=Tethys
PALLAS=Styx
Gen. 3 ZELOS, NIKE, KRATES, BIA

Astraios
Astraios mated with the Dawn (Eos) daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Thea. The children of Astraios and Eos were the winds, BOREAS, ZEPHYROS, and NOTOS.

Gen. 2 EURYBIA=Kreios Hyperion=Thea
ASTRAIOS= Eos
Gen. 3 BOREAS, ZEPHYROS, NOTOS

Perses
Perses mated with the children of Koios and Phoibe to produce HEKATE.
Gen.2 EURYBIA=Kreios Koios=Phoibe
PERSES=Asterie
Gen. 3 HEKATE

 

Generations 0-1 Pontos=Gaia
Gen. 2 Nereus, Thaumas, Phorkys, Keto, EURYBIA
Gen. 0-1 Ouranos=Gaia
Gen. 2 KREIOS, Hyperion, Kronos, Rheia, Okeanos, Iapetus, Themis, Theia, Mnemosyne, Tethys
Gen. 2 Eurybia=Kreios
Gen. 3 Astraios, Pallas, Perses

Pallas
Pallas (son of Eurybeia and the titan Kreios) mated with the River Styx, offspring of the Titans Okeanos and Tethys. Their offspring were ZELOS (glory), NIKE (victory), KRATOS (power), and BIA (force).
Gen. 2 EURYBIA=Kreios Okeanos=Tethys
PALLAS=Styx
Gen. 3 ZELOS, NIKE, KRATES, BIA

Astraios
Astraios mated with the Dawn (Eos) daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Thea. The children of Astraios and Eos were the winds, BOREAS, ZEPHYROS, and NOTOS.

Gen. 2 EURYBIA=Kreios Hyperion=Thea
ASTRAIOS= Eos
Gen. 3 BOREAS, ZEPHYROS, NOTOS

Perses
Perses mated with the children of Koios and Phoibe to produce HEKATE.
Gen.2 EURYBIA=Kreios Koios=Phoibe
PERSES=Asterie
Gen. 3 HEKATE

CHAOS
GAIA
EROS
TARTAROS
 
 
 
(GAIA=) PONTOS
OURANOS (=GAIA)
 

CHAOS
GAIA
EROS
TARTAROS
 
 
 
(GAIA=) PONTOS
OURANOS (=GAIA)
 

 
NEREUS, PHORKYS, THAUMAS, KETO, EURYBIA   HYPERION=THEIA 
KREIOS, KOIOS, PHOIBE, OKEANOS, TETHYS, KRONOS, RHEIA, IAPETOS, MNEMOSYNE, THEMIS
 
 
 
HELIOS,

SELENE, IOS  
  PHAETHOUS, LAMPETIE, PHAETHON  

CHAOS
GAIA
EROS
TARTAROS
 
 
 
(GAIA=) PONTOS
OURANOS (=GAIA)
 

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:43 AM)

Descendants of Pontos

Nereus, Thaumas, Phorkys, and Keto

 

Pontos (sea) and Gaia (earth) had 5 children: Table 1 Genealogy of the 1st Gods

·                                 Nereus,

·                                 Phorkys,

·                                 Thaumas,

·                                 Keto, and

·                                 Eurybia.

Eurybia and Kreios (son of Ouranos and Gaia), their offspring, and grandchildren. Now, Part 3: Descendants of Pontos - Nereus, Thaumas, Phorkys, and Keto takes a quick look at Eurybia's brothers and sister.

 

Nereus

Nereus earned a name in Greek mythology from his encounter with Hercules. Hercules held Nereus aloft until he revealed the location of either Geryoneus' cattle or the Hesperides, depending on which version of the legend you read. Pherekydes says Nereus changed shape, becoming fire and water to escape Hercules. According to some versions, Gaia may not have been Nereus' mother, but in versions where she was, Nereus gained strength from her whenever Hercules hurled him to the ground.

 

Nereus married Doris, daughter of Titans Okeanos and Tethys. Lines 240-264 of Hesiod's Theogony list the names of all 50 of their daughters, the Nereids. The most important of these daughters were Amphitrite (Poseidon's mate), Thetis (famed as the mother of Achilles and would-be bride of Zeus and Poseidon), Galateia, and Psamathe.

Thaumas

Thaumas married Elektra, another Okeanid (daughter of Oceanos and Tethys). To them were born children known for their speed, Iris, messenger and cupbearing goddess who helps Aphrodite away from the Trojan battlefield after Diomedes wounds her, and the winged, food-stealing Harpuiai (Harpies), Aello and Okypete. According to a fragment of Alkaios (Alcaeus), Iris mated with Astraios' son and her cousin, Zephyros, to produce Eros.

Phorkys and Keto

Phorkys mated with Hekate to produce Skylla and also with his sister Keto to produce monsters, the Graiai, the Gorgons, Echidna, and the snake Ophis. The Graiai (Pamphredo, Enyo, and Deino) are described as gray and swanlike, having one eye and one tooth among them. They live far to the east where they protect their sisters, the Gorgons.

Two of the Gorgons are immortal, Sthenno and Euryale, but the third, Medusa, was not. After mating with Poseidon she did not produce children in the usual manner. Following her decapitation by Perseus, her children, Pegasus and Chrysaor, sprang from her neck. Chrysaor married another Okeanid, Kallirhoe, who bore the three-headed Geryoneus.

Echidna was half beautiful woman and half snake. She mated with Typhoeus, son of Gaia and Tartaros. He had one hundred noisy, fire-beathing snake heads on his shoulders. Their offspring were:

·                                 Orthos, Geryoneus' watchdog

·                                 Kerberos

·                                 Hydra of Lerna

·                                 Chimaira (although the Hydra may actually have been Chimaira's mother)

·                                 Prometheus' eagle

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 02:44 AM)

Descendants of Chaos

 

Generation 0-1 - Chaos and Its Children

In the beginning there was Chaos. Chaos was a gap of some sort, so it only makes sense that out of a black hole (so to speak), Darkness and Night would emerge. These, named Erebos and Nyx, respectively, were the children of Chaos.

Generation 2 Part 1 - Darkness and Night's Children

The mating of these two dark forces, Erebos (Darkness) and Nyx (Night), produced Brightness (Aither) and Day (Hemere).

Generation 2 Part 2 - Night's Children

Without sexual relations, Nyx produced a host of offspring on its own:

·                                 Moros (doom)

·                                 Apate (deceit)

·                                 The Moirai (fates: Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos)

·                                 The Oneiroi (dreams)

·                                 Ker (destruction)

·                                 Thanatos (death)

·                                 Oizus (pain)

·                                 Hypnos (sleep)

·                                 the Hesperides

·                                 Keres (punishes transgressions)

·                                 Nemesis (indignation, retribution)

·                                 Philotes (love)

·                                 Eris (strife)

·                                 Geras (old age)

·                                 Momos (blame)

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:02 AM)

                                              



The Twelve Olympians, in Greek mythology, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. There were, at various times, fourteen different gods recognized as Olympians, though never more than twelve at one time. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis are always considered Olympians. Hestia, Demeter, Dionysus, and Hades are the variable gods among the Twelve. Hestia gave up her position as an Olympian to Dionysus in order to live among mankind (eventually she was assigned the role of tending the fire on Mount Olympus). Persephone spent six months of the year in the underworld (causing winter), and was allowed to return to Mount Olympus for the other six months in order to be with her mother, Demeter. And, although Hades was always one of the principal Greek gods, his home in the underworld of the dead made his connection to the Olympians more tenuous. The Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings; all other Olympians (with the exception of foam-born Aphrodite) are usually considered the children of Zeus by various mothers, except for Athena, who in some versions of the myth was born of Zeus alone. Additionally, some versions of the myth state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone as Hera's revenge for Zeus' solo birth of Athena.



                                                   

 

Greek goddess of love and beauty

Worship

The epithet Aphrodite Acidalia was occasionally added to her name, after the spring she used to bathe in, located in Boeotia (Virgil I, 720). She was also called Kypris or Cytherea after her alleged birth-places in Cyprus and Cythera, respectively. The island of Cythera was a center of her cult. She was associated with Hesperia and frequently accompanied by the Oreads, nymphs of the mountains.

Aphrodite had a festival of her own, the Aphrodisia, which was celebrated all over Greece but particularly in Athens and Corinth. In Corinth, intercourse with her priestesses was considered a method of worshipping Aphrodite.Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates and lime trees.

Her Roman analogue is Venus. Her Mesopotamian counterpart was Ishtar. Her Egyptian counterpart is Hathor, and her Syro-Palestinian counterpart was ŒAshtart (in standard Greek spelling Astarte); her Etruscan equivalent was Turan.

Venus was often referred to with epithet Venus Erycina ("of the heather") after Mount Eryx, Sicily, one of the centers of her cult.

Birth

"Foam-arisen" Aphrodite was born of the sea foam near Paphos, Cyprus after Cronus cut off Uranus' genitals and the elder god's blood and semen dropped on the sea, where they began to foam. Aphrodite was born fully grown out of the foam. Thus Aphrodite is of an older generation than Zeus. Iliad (Book V) expresses another version of her origin, by which she was considered a daughter of Dione, who was the original oracular goddess ("Dione" being simply "the goddess," etymologically an equivalent of "Diana") at Dodona.

In Homer, Aphrodite, venturing into battle to protect her son, Aeneas, who has been wounded by Diomedes and returns to her mother, to sink down at her knee and be comforted. "Dione" seems to be an equivalent of Rhea, the Earth Mother, whom Homer has relocated to Olympus. After this story, Aphrodite herself was sometimes referred to as "Dione". Once Zeus had usurped the oak-grove oracle at Dodona, some poets made him out to be the father of Aphrodite.

Aphrodite's chief center of worship remained at Paphos, on the south-western coast of Cyprus, where the goddess of desire had long been worshipped as Ishtar and Ashtaroth. It is said that she first tentatively came ashore at Cytherea, a stopping place for trade and culture between Crete and the Peloponesus. Thus perhaps we have hints of the track of Aphrodite's original cult from the Levant to mainland Greece.

Plato considered that Aphrodite had two manifestations, reflecting both stories, Aphrodite Ourania ("heavenly" Aphrodite), and Aphrodite Pandemos ("Common" Aphrodite). According to Plato these two manifestations represented her role in homosexuality and heterosexuality, respectively (homosexuality being more divine for Plato).Alternatively, Aphrodite was a daughter of Thalassa (for she was born of the Sea) and Zeus.

Adulthood

Aphrodite, in many of the myths involving her, is characterized as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. Though she is one of the few gods of the Greek Pantheon to be actually married, she is frequently unfaithful to her husband. Hephaestus, of course, is one of the most even-tempered of the Hellenic deities; Aphrodite seems to prefer Ares, the volatile god of war. In Homer's Iliad she surges into battle to save her son, but abandons him (in fact, drops him as she flies through the air) when she herself is hurt (Ares does much the same thing). And she is the original cause of the Trojan War itself: not only did she start the whole affair by offering Helen of Troy to Paris, but the abduction was accomplished when Paris, seeing Helen for the first time, was inflamed with desire to have her - which is Aphrodite's realm. Her domain may involve love, but it does not involve romance; rather, it tends more towards lust, the human irrational longing.

Marriage with Hephaestus

Due to her immense beauty, Zeus was frightened she'd be the cause of violence between the other gods. He married her off to Hephaestus, the dour, humorless god of smithing. Hephaestus was overjoyed at being married to the goddess of beauty and forged her beautiful jewelry, including the cestus, a girdle that made her even more irresistible to men. Her unhappiness with her marriage caused Aphrodite to seek out companionship from others, most frequently Ares, but also Adonis, Anchises and more. Hephaestus once cleverly caught Ares and Aphrodite in bed with a net, and brought all the other Olympian gods together to mock them. Hephaestus would not free them until Poseidon promised Hephaestus that Ares would pay reparations, but both escaped as soon as the net was lifted and their promise was not kept.

Aphrodite and Psyche

Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of a mortal woman named Psyche. She asked Eros to use his golden arrows to cause Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. Eros agreed but then fell in love with Psyche on his own, or by accidentally pricking himself with a golden arrow. Meanwhile, Psyche's parents were anxious that their daughter remained unmarried. They consulted an oracle who told them she was destined for no mortal lover, but a monster who lived on top of a particular mountain. Psyche was resigned to her fate and climbed to the top of the mountain. There, Zephyrus, the west wind, gently floated her downwards. She entered a cave on the appointed mountain, surprised to find it full of jewellery and finery. Eros visited her every night in the cave and they made love; he demanded only that she never light any lamps because he did not want her to know who he was (having wings made him distinctive). Her two sisters, jealous of Psyche, convinced her to do so one night and she lit a lamp, recognizing him instantly. A drop of hot lamp oil fell on Eros' chest and he awoke, then fled.

When Psyche told her two jealous elder sisters what had happened; they rejoiced secretly and each separately walked to the top of the mountain and did as Psyche described her entry to the cave, hoping Eros would pick them instead. Zephyrus did not pick them and they fell to their deaths at the base of the mountain.Psyche searched for her lover across much of Greece, finally stumbling into a temple to Demeter, where the floor was covered with piles of mixed grains. She started sorting the grains into organized piles and, when she finished, Demeter spoke to her, telling her that the best way to find Eros was to find his mother, Aphrodite, and earn her blessing.

Psyche found a temple to Aphrodite and entered it. Aphrodite assigned her a similar task to Demeter's temple, but gave her an impossible deadline to finish it by. Eros intervened, for he still loved her, and caused some ants to organize the grains for her. Aphrodite was outraged at her success and told her to go to a field where golden sheep grazed and get some golden wool.

Psyche went to the field and saw the sheep but was stopped by a river-god, whose river she had to cross to enter the field. He told her the sheep were mean and vicious and would kill her, but if she waited until noontime, the sheep would go the shade on the other side of the field and sleep; she could pick the wool that stuck to the branches and bark of the trees. Psyche did so and Aphrodite was even more outraged at her survival and success.

Finally, Aphrodite claimed that the stress of caring for her son, depressed and ill as a result of Psyche's unfaithfulness, had caused her to lose some of her beauty. Psyche was to go to Hades and ask Persephone, the queen of the underworld, for a bit of her beauty in a black box that Aphrodite gave to Psyche. Psyche walked to a tower, deciding that the quickest way to the underworld would be to die.

A voice stopped her at the last moment and told her a route that would allow her to enter and return still living, as well as telling her how to pass Cerberus, Charon and the other dangers of the route. She pacified Cerberus, the three-headed dog, with a sweet honey-cake and paid Charon an obolus to take her into Hades. Once there, Persephone offered her a feast but Psyche refused, knowing it would keep her in the underworld forever.

Psyche left the underworld and decided to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself. Inside was a "Stygian sleep" which overtook her. Eros, who had forgiven her, flew to her body and healed her, then begged Zeus and Aphrodite for their consent to his wedding of Psyche. They agreed and Zeus made her immortal. Aphrodite danced at the wedding of Eros and Psyche and their subsequent child was named (in the Roman mythology) Volupta.

Adonis

Aphrodite was Adonis' lover and had a part in his birth. She urged Myrrha or Smyrna to commit incest with her father, Theias, the King of Assyria. Another version says Myrrha's father was Cinyras of Cyprus. Myrrha's nurse helped with the scheme. When Theias discovered this, he flew into a rage, chasing his daughter with a knife. The gods turned her into a myrrh tree and Adonis eventually sprang from this tree. Alternatively, Aphrodite turned her into a tree and Adonis was born when Theias shot the tree with an arrow or when a boar used its tusks to tear the tree's bark off.

Once Adonis was born, Aphrodite took him under her wing, seducing him with the help of Helene, her friend, and was entranced by his unearthly beauty. She gave him to Persephone to watch over, but Persephone was also amazed at his beauty and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddesses was settled either by Zeus or Calliope, with Adonis spending four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone and four months of the years with whomever he chose. He always chose Aphrodite because Persephone was the cold, unfeeling goddess of the underworld.

Adonis was eventually killed by a jealous Ares. Aphrodite was warned of this jealousy and was told that Adonis would be killed by a bull that Ares transformed into. She tried to persuade Adonis to stay with her at all times, but his love of hunting was his downfall. While Adonis was hunting, Ares found him and gored him to death. Aphrodite arrived just in time to hear his last breath.

The Judgement of Paris

The gods and goddesses as well as various mortals were invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the eventual parents of Achilles). Only the goddess Eris (Discord) was not invited, but she arrived with a golden apple inscribed with the words "to the fairest," which she threw among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all claimed the apple, and the matter was put before Paris, the most handsome mortal. Hera tried to bribe Paris with an earthly kingdom, while Athena offered great military skill, but Aphrodite was judged most beautiful when she offered Paris the most beautiful mortal woman as a wife. This woman was Helen, and her abduction by Paris led to the Trojan War
.

Pygmalion and Galatea

Pygmalion was a sculptor who had never found a woman worthy of his love. Aphrodite took pity on him and decided to show him the wonders of love. One day, Pygmalion was inspired by a dream of Aphrodite to make a woman out of ivory resembling her image, and he called her Galatea. He fell in love with the statue and decided he could not live without her. He prayed to Aphrodite, who carried out the final phase of her plan and brought the exquisite sculpture to life. Pygmalion loved Galatea and they were soon married.

Another version of this myth tells that the women of the village in which Pygmalion lived grew angry that he had not married. They all asked Aphrodite to force him to marry. Aphrodite accepted and went that very night to Pygmalion, and asked him to pick a woman to marry. She told him that if he did not pick one, she would do so for him. Not wanting to be married, he begged her for more time, asking that he be allowed to make a sculpture of Aphrodite before he had to choose his bride.

Flattered, she accepted.Pygmalion spent a lot of time making small clay sculptures of the Goddess, claiming it was needed so he could pick the right pose. As he started making the actual sculpture he was shocked to discover he actually wanted to finish, even though he knew he would have to marry someone when he finished. The reason he wanted to finish it was that he had fallen in love with the sculpture. The more he worked on it, the more it changed, until it no longer resembled Aphrodite at all.

At the very moment Pygmalion stepped away from the finished sculpture Aphrodite appeared and told him to choose his bride. Pygmalion chose the statue. Aphrodite told him that could not be, and asked him again to pick a bride. Pygmalion put his arms around the statue, and asked Aphrodite to turn him into a statue so he could be with her. Aphrodite took pity on him and brought the statue to life instead.

Other Stories

In one version of the story of Hippolytus, Aphrodite was the catalyst for his death. He scorned the worship of Aphrodite for Artemis and, in revenge, Aphrodite caused his step-mother, Phaedra, to fall in love with him, knowing Hippolytus would reject her. In the most popular version of the story, Phaedra seeks revenge against Hippolytus by killing herself and, in her suicide note, telling Theseus, her husband and Hippolytus' father, that Hippolytus had raped her. Theseus then murdered his own son before Artemis told him the truth.

King Glaucus of Corinth angered Aphrodite and she made her horses angry during the funeral games of King Pelias. They tore him apart. His ghost supposedly frightened horses during the Isthmian Games.Aphrodite was often accompanied by the Charites.In book III of Homer's Iliad, Aphrodite saves Paris when he is about to be killed by Menelaos
.

Aphrodite was very protective of her son, Aeneas, who fought in the Trojan War. Diomedes almost killed Aeneas in battle but Aphrodite saved him. Diomedes wounded Aphrodite and she dropped her son, fleeing to Mt. Olympus. Aeneas was then enveloped in a cloud by Artemis, who took him to Pergamos, a sacred spot in Troy. Apollo healed Aeneas there.She turned Abas to stone for his pride.

She turned Anaxarete to stone for reacting so dispassionately to Iphis' pleas to love him, even after his suicide.

Aphrodite helps Hippomenes to win a footrace against Atalanta to win Atalanta's hand in marriage, giving him three golden apples to distract her with. However, when the couple fails to thank Aphrodite, she has them turned into lions.

Aphrodite in Neopaganism

In many modern Neopagan sects, particularly New Age Hellenistic sects in the United States, Aphrodite takes on the role of the goddess of passion. Not all passion Aphrodite inspires is lustful, much of it is believed to take the form of artistic passion and even passion in argument. Worship of Aphrodite is uncommon and is typically held by individual writers and artist. How she is worshipped often depends on what other gods a sect includes. For example, sects that worship Hera and/or Themis may include worship of Aphrodite, but encourage monogamy and stress her role in committed relationships and marriage. Sects that worship Dionysus and Aphrodite may be entirely hedonistic and include orgiastic rituals (such sects are often considered cults even by Neopagan standards). As such worship of Aphrodite varies between sects.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:07 AM)

Apollo - God of the Sun and Music

 

Apollo is considered to have dominion over plague, light, healing, colonists, medicine, archery, poetry, prophecy, dance, reason, intellectualism, Shamans, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. Apollo had a famous oracle in Crete and other notable ones in Clarus and Branchidae.

Apollo is known as the leader o

f the Muses ("musagetes") and director of their choir. His attributes include: swans, wolves, dolphins, bows and arrows, a laurel crown, the cithara (or lyre) and plectrum. The sacrificial tripod is another attribute, representative of his prophetic powers.

The Pythian Games were held in his honor every four years at Delphi. Paeans were the name of hymns sung to Apollo.

The most usual attributes of Apollo were the lyre and the bow; the tripod especially was dedicated to him as the god of prophecy. Among plants, the bay, used in expiatory sacrifices and also for making the crown of victory at the Pythian games, and the palm-tree, under which he was born in Delos, were sacred to him; among animals and birds, the wolf, the roe, the swan, the hawk, the raven, the crow, the snake, the mouse, the grassho

pper and the griffin, a mixture of the eagle and the lion evidently of Eastern origin.

The swan and grasshopper symbolize music and song; the hawk, raven, crow and snake have reference to his functions as the god of prophecy.The chief festivals held in honour of Apollo were the Carneia, Daphnephoria, Delia, Hyacinthia, Pyanepsia, Pythia and Thargelia.

Among the Romans the worship of Apollo was adopted from the Greeks. There is a tradition that the Delphian oracle was consulted as early as the period of the kings during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus, and in 430 a temple was dedicated to Apollo on the occasion of a pestilence, and during the Second Punic War (in 212) the Ludi Apollinares were instituted in his honour.

It was in the time of Augustus, who considered himself under the special protection of Apollo and was even said to be his son, that his worship developed and he became one of the chief gods of Rome. After the battle of Actium, Augustus enlarged his old temple, dedicated a portion of the spoil to him, and instituted quinquennial games in his honour.

He also erected a new temple on the Palatine hill and transferred the secular games, for which Horace composed his Carmen Saeculare, to Apollo and Diana. As god of colonization, Apollo gave guidance on colonies, especially during the height of colonization, 750-550 BC. According to Greek tradition, he helped Cretan or Arcadian colonists find the city of Troy.

However, this story may reflect a cultural influence which had the reverse direction: Hittite cuneiform texts mention a Minor Asian god called Appaliunas or Apalunas in connection with the city of Wilusa, which is now regarded as being identical with the Greek Illios by most scholars.

In this interpretation, Apollo's title of Lykegenes can simply be read as "born in Lycia", which effectively severs the god's supposed link with wolves (possibly a folk etymology).Apollo popularly (e.g., in literary criticism) represents harmony, order, and reason - characteristics contrasted by those of Dionysus, god of wine, who popularly represents emotion and chaos.

The contrast between the roles of these gods is reflected in the adjectives Apollonian and Dionysian. However, Greeks thought of the two qualities as complementary: the two gods are brothers, and when Apollo at winter left for Hyperborea he would leave the Delphi Oracle to Dionysus.

Together with Athena, Apollo (under the name Phevos) was controversially designated as a mascot of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.The worship of Apollo has revived with the rise of Hellenismos, and the contemporary Pagan movement. One example of this revival is the group, Kyklos Apollon.

Apollo Delphinios

A recent study published in 2005 by researchers at the University of Leicester has unravelled a 2,700 year old mystery concerning The Oracle of Delphi. In ancient times, the constellation Delphinus would have been rising in the eastern sky in late December and early January, the same time that some cities were sacrificing to Apollo Delphinios. In Delphi, this sacrifice took place about a month later. The researchers have confirmed that this is because the temple of Apollo at Delphi is overlooked by huge cliffs to the east. These block out the view of the lower part of the eastern sky, thus delaying the appropriate time of sacrifice for almost a full month compared to other cities on the greek plains.

Birth - When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Hera's husband, Zeus, was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra-firma", or the mainland, or any island at sea. In her wanderings, Leto found the newly created floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island, and gave birth there. The island was surrounded by swans. Afterwards, Zeus secured Delos to the bottom of the ocean. This island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods tricked Hera into letting her go by offering her a necklace, nine yards long, of amber. Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo. Apollo was born on the 7th day of the month Thargelion according to Delian tradition or of the month Bysios according to Delphian tradition. The 7th and 20th, the days of the new and full moon, were ever afterwards held sacred to him.

Youth - In his youth, Apollo killed the vicious dragon Python, which lived in Delphi beside the Castalian Spring, according to some because Python had attempted to rape Leto while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis.This was the spring which emitted vapors that caused the Oracle at Delphi to give her prophesies. Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since Python was a child of Gaia

.

Apollo and Admetus - As punishment, Apollo was banned from Olympus for nine years. During this time he served as shepherd or cowherd for King Admetus of Pherae in Thessaly. Since Admetus was good to Apollo, the god promised him that when time came for King Admetus to die, another would be allowed to take his place instead. Admetus then fell in love with Alcestis. Her father, though, King Pelias would only give permission if Admetus rode a chariot pulled by lions and boars and other wild animals. Apollo helped Admetus accomplish this, and the pair wed. When time came for Admetus to die, Alcestis agreed to die for him. Heracles intervened and both of the pair were allowed to live. When he returned after the nine years, Apollo came disguised as a dolphin and brought Cretan priests to help found his cult in Delphi. He also blessed the priestess of the Oracle at Delphi, making her one of the most famous and accurate oracles in Greece. He had other oracles, including Clarus and Branchidae.

Apollo During the Trojan War - Apollo shot arrows infected with the plague into the Greek encampment during the Trojan War in rage because the Greeks had kidnapped Chryseis, the daughter of Apollo's priest. He demanded her return, and the Greeks eventually complied. When Diomedes injured Aeneas during the Trojan War, Apollo rescued him. First, Aphrodite tried to rescue Aeneas but Diomedes injured her as well. Aeneas was then enveloped in a cloud by Apollo, who took him to Pergamos, a sacred spot in Troy. Artemis healed Aeneas there. Apollo had aided Paris in the killing of Achilles. If he did not accomplish the task himself.

Niobe - A Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions of the myth, a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mt. Siplyon in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept, or committed suicide. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.

Apollo's romantic life and children[edit]Heterosexual relationships

Daphne - Apollo chased the nymph Daphne, daughter of Peneus, who had scorned him. His infatuation was caused by an arrow from Eros, who was jealous because Apollo had made fun of his archery skills. Eros also claimed to be irritated by Apollo's singing. Simultaneously, however, Eros had shot a hate arrow into Daphne, causing her to be repulsed by Apollo. Following a spirited chase by Apollo, Daphne prayed to Mother earth (alternatively, her father- a river god) to help her and he changed her into a Lauraceae tree, which became sacred to Apollo.

Leucothea - Apollo had an affair with a mortal princess named Leucothea, daughter of Orchamus and sister of Clytia. Leucothea loved Apollo who disguised himself as Leucothea's mother to gain entrance to her chambers. Clytia, jealous of her sister because she wanted Apollo for herself, told Orchamus the truth, betraying her sister's trust and confidence in her. Enraged, Orchamus ordered Leucothea to be buried alive. Apollo refused to forgive Clytia for betraying his beloved, and a grieving Clytia wilted and slowly died. Apollo changed her into an incense plant, either heliotrope or sunflower, which follows the sun every day.

Marpessa was kidnapped by Idas but was loved by Apollo as well. Zeus made her choose between them, and she chose Idas on the grounds that Apollo, being immortal, would tire of her when she grew old.

Castalia was a nymph whom Apollo loved. She fled from him and dived into the spring at Delphi, at the base of Mt. Parnassos, which was then named after her. Water from this spring was sacred; it was used to clean the Delphian temples and inspire poets.

By Cyrene, Apollo had a son named Aristaeus, who became the patron god of cattle, fruit trees, hunting, husbandry and bee-keeping. He was also a culture-hero and taught humanity dairy skills and the use of nets and traps in hunting, as well as how to cultivate olives.

With Hecuba, wife of King Priam of Troy, Apollo had a son named Troilius. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilius reached the age of twenty alive. He and his sister, Polyxena were ambushed and killed by Achilles.

Cassandra - Apollo also fell in love with Cassandra, daughter of Hecuba and Priam, and Troilius' half-sister. He promised Cassandra the gift of prophecy to seduce her, but she rejected him afterwards. Enraged, Apollo indeed gifted her with the ability to know the future, with a curse that no one would ever believe her.

Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths, was another of Apollo's liaisons. Pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis fell in love with Ischys, son of Elatus. A crow informed Apollo of the affair. When first informed he disbelieved the crow and turned all crows black (where they were previously white) as a punishment for speading untruths. When he found out the truth he sent his sister, Artemis, to kill Coronis. As a result he also made the crow sacred and gave them the task of announcing important deaths. Apollo rescued the baby and gave it to the centaur Chiron to raise. Phlegyas was irate after the death of his daughter and burned the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Apollo then killed him for the slight.

Homosexual Relationships

Apollo, the eternal beardless youth himself, had the most male lovers of all the Greek gods, as could be expected from a god who was god of the palaestra, the athletic gathering place for youth, who all competed in the nude. Many of Apollo's young beloveds died "accidentally", a reflection on the function of these myths as part of rites of passage, in which the youth died in order to be reborn as an adult.

Hyacinth was one of his male lovers. Hyacinthus was a Spartan prince, beautiful and athletic. The pair were practicing throwing the discus when Hyacinthus was struck in the head by a discus blown off course by Zephyrus, who was jealous of Apollo and loved Hyacinthus as well. When Hyacinthus died, Apollo is said in some accounts to have been so filled with grief that he cursed his own immortality, wishing to join his lover in mortal death. Out of the blood of his slain lover Apollo created the hyacinth flower as a memorial to his death, and his tears stained the flower petals with, meaning alas. The Festival of Hyacinthus was a celebration of Sparta.

Acantha - One of his other liaisons was with Acantha, the spirit of the acanthus tree. Upon his death, he was transformed into a sun-loving herb by Apollo, and his bereaved sister, Acanthis, was turned into a thistle finch by the other gods.

Cyparissus - Another male lover was Cyparissus, a descendant of Heracles. Apollo gave the boy a tame deer as a companion but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it lay asleep in the undergrowth. Cyparissus asked Apollo to let his tears fall forever. Apollo turned the sad boy into a cypress tree, which was said to be a sad tree because the sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk.

Apollo and the Birth of Hermes - Hermes was born on Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia. The story is told in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. His mother, Maia, had been secretly impregnated by Zeus, in a secret affair. Maia wrapped the infant in blankets but Hermes escaped while she was asleep. Hermes ran to Thessaly, where Apollo was grazing his cattle. The infant Hermes stole a number of his cows and took them to a cave in the woods near Pylos, covering their tracks. In the cave, he found a tortoise and killed it, then removed the insides. He used one of the cow's intestines and the tortoise shell and made the first lyre. Apollo complained to Maia that her son had stolen his cattle, but Hermes had already replaced himself in the blankets she had wrapped him in, so Maia refused to believe Apollo's claim. Zeus intervened and, claiming to have seen the events, sided with Apollo. Hermes then began to play music on the lyre he had invented. Apollo, a god of music, fell in love with the instrument and offered to allow exchange the cattle for the lyre. Hence, Apollo became a master of the lyre and Hermes invented a kind of pipes-instrument called a syrinx.Later, Apollo exchanged a caduceus for a syrinx from Hermes.

Other Stories

Musical contests

Once Pan had the audacity to compare his music with that of Apollo, and to challenge Apollo, the god of the lyre, to a trial of skill. Tmolus, the mountain-god, was chosen to umpire. Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower, Midas, who happened to be present. Then Apollo struck the strings of his lyre. Tmolus at once awarded the victory to Apollo, and all but Midas agreed with the judgment. He dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo would not suffer such a depraved pair of ears any longer, and caused them to become the ears of a donkey.

Marsyas was a satyr who challenged Apollo to a contest of music. He had found an aulos on the ground, tossed away after being invented by Athena because it made her cheeks puffy. Marsyas lost and was flayed alive in a cave near Calaenae in Phrygia for his hubris to challenge a god. His blood turned into the river Marsyas.

Miscellaneous

When Zeus killed Asclepius for raising the dead and violating the natural order of things, Apollo killed the Cyclopes in response. They had fashioned Zeus' thunderbolts, which he used to kill Apollo's son, Asclepius. Apollo also had a lyre-playing contest with Cinyras, his son, who committed suicide when he lost.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus and his surviving crew landed on an island sacred to Helios the sun god, where he kept sacred cattle. Though Odysseus warned his men not to (as Tiresias and kirke had told him), they killed and ate some of the cattle and Helios had Zeus destroy the ship and all the men save Odysseus.

Apollo killed the Aloadae when they attempted to storm Mt. Olympus.Apollo gave the order, through the Oracle at Delphi, for Orestes to kill his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus. Orestes was punished fiercely by the Erinyes for this crime.

It was also said that Apollo rode on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans during the winter months.

Apollo turned Cephissus into a sea monster.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:10 AM)

 

In Greek mythology, Ares is the son of Zeus (ruler of the gods) and Hera. Though often incorrectly referred to as the Olympian god of war, he is more accurately the god of savage war, or bloodlust, or slaughter personified. The Romans identified him as Mars, the Roman god of war (whom they had inherited from the Etruscans), but among them, Mars stood in much higher esteem.

 

Among the Hellenes, Ares was always mistrusted. Though Ares' half-sister Athena was also considered to be a war deity, Athena's stance was that of strategic warfare while Ares' tended to be the unpredictable violence of war. His birthplace and true home was placed far off, among the barbarous and warlike Thracians (Iliad 13.301; Ovid, Ars Amatoria, II.10;), to whom he withdrew after he was discovered on a couch with Aphrodite.

 

"Ares" remained an adjective and epithet in Classical times: Zeus Areios, Athena Areia, even Aphrodite Areia. In Mycenaean times, inscriptions attest to Enyalios, a name that survived into Classical times as an epithet of Ares. Vultures and dogs are sacred to him.

 

Ares Symbols

 

Ares had a quadriga drawn by four gold-bridled (Iliad v.352) fire-breathing immortal stallions. Among the gods, Ares was recognized by his brazen armour; he brandished a spear in battle. His sacred birds were the barn owl, woodpecker, the eagle owl and, especially in the south, the vulture. According to Argonautica (ii.382ff and 1031ff; Hyginus, Fabulae 30) the birds of Ares (Ornithes Areioi) were a flock of feather-dart-dropping birds that guarded the Amazons' shrine of the god on a coastal island in the Black Sea. In Sparta, the chthonic night-time sacrifice of a dog to Enyalios became assimilated to the cult of Ares. Sacrifice might be made to Ares on the eve of battle to enlist his support.

 

Ares in Cult

 

Although important in poetry, Ares was rarely included in cult in ancient Greece, save at Sparta, where he was propitiated before battle, and, though involved in the founding myth of Thebes, he appeared in few myths (Burkert 1985, p.169).

 

At Sparta there was a statue of the god in chains, to show that the spirit of war and victory was never to leave the city; dogs (and some believe even humans[citation needed]) were sacrificed to him. The temple to Ares in the agora of Athens that Pausanias saw in the second century AD had only been moved and rededicated there during the time of Augustus; in essence it was a Roman temple to Mars. The Areopagus, the "hill of Ares" where Paul of Tarsus preached, is sited at some distance from the Acropolis; from archaic times it was a site of trials. Its connection with Ares, perhaps based on a false etymology, may be purely etiological.

 

Attendants

 

Deimos and Phobos were his children by Aphrodite and were the spirits of terror and fear. The sister and companion of murderous Ares was Eris, goddess of bloodshed and violence. The presence of Ares was accompanied by Kydoimos, the demon of the din of battle, as well as the Makhai (Battles), the Hysminai (Manslaughters), Polemos (a minor spirit of war; probably an epithet of Ares, as he had no specific dominion), and Polemos' daughter, Alala, goddess/personification of the Greek war-cry, whose name Ares used as his own war-cry. His sister Hebe also drew baths for him.

 

The Founding of Thebes

 

One of the many roles of Ares that was sited in mainland Greece itself was in the founding myth of Thebes: Ares was the progenitor of the water-dragon slain by Cadmus, and hence the ancestor of the Spartans (the dragon's teeth were sown into the ground, and sprung up as the fully armored autochthonic Spartans). From the dragon's teeth, sown as if a crop, arose a race of fighting men, the descendants of Ares. To propitiate Ares, Cadmus took as a bride Harmonia, daughter of Ares' union with Aphrodite, thus harmonizing all strife and founding the city of Thebes.

 

Consorts and Children

 

There are accounts of a son of Ares, Cycnus of Macedonia, who was so murderous that he attempted to build a temple with the skulls and the bones of travellers. Heracles slaughtered this abominable monstrosity, engendering the wrath of Ares, whom the hero wounded (Apollodorus 2.114).

 

Ares in Mythology

 

In the myth sung by the bard in the hall of Alcinous (Odyssey 8.300) the Sun-God Helios once spied Ares and Aphrodite enjoying each other secretly in the hall of Hephaestus and how he promptly reported the incident to Aphrodite's Olympian consort. Hephaestus contrived to catch the couple in the act, and so he fashioned a net with which to snare the illicit lovers. At the appropriate time, this net was sprung, and trapped Ares and Aphrodite locked in very private embrace. But Hephaestus was not yet satisfied with his revenge - he invited the Olympian gods and goddesses to view the unfortunate pair. For the sake of modesty, the goddesses demurred, but the male gods went to witness the sight. Some commented on the beauty of Aphrodite, others remarked that they would eagerly trade places with Ares, but all mocked the two. Once the couple were loosed, Ares, embarrassed, sped away to his homeland, Thrace.

 

In a much later interpolated detail, Ares put the youth Alectryon by his door to warn them of Helios' arrival, as Helios would tell Hephaestus of Aphrodite's infidelity if the two were discovered, but Alectryon fell asleep. Helios discovered the two and alerted Hephaestus. Ares was furious and turned Alectryon into a rooster, which now never forgets to announce the arrival of the sun in the morning.

 

Ares and the Giants

 

In one Bronze Myth, related in the Iliad by the goddess Dione to her daughter Aphrodite, two chthonic giants, the Aloadae, named Otus and Ephialtes, threw Ares into chains and put him in a bronze urn, where he remained for thirteen months, a lunar year. "And that would have been the end of Ares and his appetite for war, if the beautiful Eriboea, the young giants' stepmother, had not told Hermes what they had done," she related (Iliad 5.385­391). "In this one suspects a festival of licence which is unleashed in the thirteenth month." Ares remained screaming and howling in the urn until Hermes rescued him and Artemis tricked the Aloadae into slaying each other.

 

The Iliad

 

In the Iliad, Homer represented Ares as having no fixed allegiances nor respect for Themis, the right ordering of things: he promised Athena and Hera that he would fight on the side of the Achaeans, but Aphrodite was able to persuade Ares to side with the Trojans (Iliad V.699). During the war, Diomedes fought with Hector and saw Ares fighting on the Trojans' side. Diomedes called for his soldiers to fall back slowly. Hera, Ares's mother, saw his interference and asked Zeus, his father, for permission to drive Ares away from the battlefield. Hera encouraged Diomedes to attack Ares, so he threw a spear at Ares and his cries made Achaeans and Trojans alike tremble. Athena then drove the spear into Ares's body, who bellowed in pain and fled to Mt. Olympus, forcing the Trojans to fall back (XXI.391). Later when Zeus allows the gods to fight in the war again, Ares tries to fight Athena to avenge himself for his previous injury, but is once again badly injured when she tosses a huge boulder on him.

 

Ares During the Renaissance

 

In Renaissance and Neoclassical works of art, Ares' symbols are a spear and helmet, his animal is the dog, and his bird is the vulture. In literary works of these eras, Ares appears as cruel, aggressive, and blood-thirsty, reviled by both gods and humans, much as he was in the ancient Greek myths.

Ares in Neopaganism

 

Many modern Neopagans maintain a somewhat traditional view of Ares. Far from the glory that the Romans attributed to him however, most modern Neopagan sects, particularly Hellenistic sects in the United States, discourage worship of Ares altogether. Many sects even forbid Ares worship. Ares is often seen as a cruel, malevolent god who relishes in mortal suffering and feeds on strife. Many modern neopagans believe that ancient civilizations believed much the same, but worshipped Ares out of necessity rather than out of devotion. It is believed that Ares inspires feelings of malevolence and invincibility, sometimes coupled with delusions of grandeur, fueling acts of cruelty and strife. Acts of senseless violence, particularly absent of recognizable motive, are sometimes attributed to the influence of Ares.

 

Some neopagans today do worship Ares, though sects that worship him are considered out of the mainstream and even called cults by Neopagan standards. It is commonly believed that Ares can grant his followers boons of unnatural strength and physical stamina, but that he always exacts a price on the spirit. Though worship of Ares is exceedingly rare, it can exist in many forms. The most common form of worship is in the form of animal sacrifices, particularly the sacrifice of goats which has been documented by police authorities. Most neopagans actively discouraged animal sacrifice, and most consider it cruel and inhumane. There are also laws against animal sacrifice in the United States and Canada.

 

The Temple of Ares was a building located in the northern part of the Ancient Agora of Athens. The Temple was identified as such by Pausanias but the ruins present today indicate a complex history. The foundations are of early Roman construction and date but fragments of the superstructure now located at the western end of the temple can be dated to the 5th century BCE. From the remaining fragments archaeologists are confidant that the belonged to a Doric peripteral temple of a similar size, plan and date to the Temple of Hephaestus. Marks on the remaining stones indicate that the temple may have originally stood elsewhere and was dismantled, moved and reconstructed on the Roman base - a practice common during the Roman occupation of Greece.

 

The temple probably came from the sanctuary of Athena Pallenis at modern Stavro, where foundations have been found but no temple remains are present.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:14 AM)

 

In Greek mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. She was usually depicted as the maiden goddess of the hunt, bearing a bow and arrows. Later she became associated with the moon, as her brother was with the sun.

She was one of the most widely venerated of the gods and manifestly one of the oldest deities (Burkert 1985:149). In later times she was associated and considered synonymous with the Roman goddess Diana. In Etruscan mythology, she took the form of Artume. Deer and cypress are sacred to her.

She was the virgin moon goddess of the hunt, wild animals, healing, wilderness, chastity, and childbirth. She was worshipped as a fertility/childbirth goddess in many places since, according to some myths, she assisted her mother in the delivery of her twin.

At some point in the Classical period, she was identified by some with Hecate, the primal, pre-Olympian feral goddess. She much later became more identified with and eventually supplanted Selene as the moon goddess to complement her twin's identification with and supplantation of Helios as the sun god.

Artemis also assimilated Caryatis (Carya). Her priestesses were addressed with the title Melissa, which means "bee".

Artemis was not worshipped heavily in much of mainland Greece. In Asia Minor, however, she was a principal deity. The city of Ephesus is probably the best known of the Asian centers of her worship, from the story in the Acts of the Apostles, where the Ephesian metalsmiths who feel threatened by Paul's preaching of the new faith, zealously riot in her defense, shouting "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"

In Rome, she was heavily venerated at Mount Tifata near Capua and in holy forests (such as Aricia, Latium) Her high priest lived in Aricia; his position was passed to the person who was able to kill him with a bough, picked from a tree in the forest.

Festivals in honor of Artemis include Brauronia, held in Brauron and the festival of Artemis Orthia in Sparta.

Young girls were initiated into the cult of Artemis at puberty. However, before marrying (an event in which they had little say, and which occurred shortly after puberty), they were asked to lay all the accoutrements of virginity (toys, dolls, locks of their hair) on an altar to Artemis.

Diana

Diana was worshipped in a temple on the Aventine Hill where mainly lower-class citizens and slaves worshipped her. Slaves could ask for and receive asylum in her temples. She was worshipped at a festival on August 13. Her name may have come from diviana (the shining one).

It is often presumed that defeated peoples become a substratum beneath that of their conquerors. It seems plausible that the association of Diana worship with slaves may reflect the conquest of Goddess worshippers by, presumably, the early Romans.

Artemis in Art

In art, she was typically portrayed with a crescent moon above her head and her bow and arrows, created by Hephaestus and the Cyclopes. These arrows, in contrast to her role as goddess of childbirth, were said to be the cause of women dying in childbirth. Her brother Apollo exhibited contradiction as well, as he was a god of healing who brought leprosy, rabies and gout.

In Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In Ephesus, and elsewhere in Asia Minor, she was worshipped primarily as an Earth and fertility goddess, akin to Cybele, unlike in mainland Greece. Statues in Greece depict her with her bow and arrow. In Asia Minor, she was often depicted with multiple rounded protuberances on her chest. They were formerly believed to be multiple breasts but are now known to have represented bull testes.

Appellations

As Agrotora, she was especially associated as the patron goddess of hunters. Artemis was often associated with the local Aeginian goddess, Aphaea. As Potnia Theron, she was the patron of wild animals; Homer used this title. As Kourotrophos, she was the nurse of youths. As Locheia, she was the goddess of childbirth and midwives. She was sometimes known as Cynthia, from her birthplace on Mount Cynthus on Delos. She sometimes used the name Phoebe, the feminine form of her brother, Apollo's, Phoebus.

Birth

When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Hera's husband, Zeus, was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on terra firma, or the mainland, or any island at sea. Leto found the floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island and gave birth there. The island was surrounded by swans. As a gesture of gratitude, Delos was secured with four pillars. The island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labour. The other gods forced Hera to let her go. Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.

Childhood

At three years old, Artemis asked her father, Zeus, while sitting on the god king's knee, to grant her several wishes. She asked for perpetual virginity, lop-eared hounds, does to lead her chariot, and nymphs as her hunting companions. He granted her wishes. All of her companions remained virgins, and she guarded her chastity very closely.

Men

Actaeon

She was once bathing nude in the woods when the Theban prince and hunter Actaeon stumbled across her. He stopped and stared, amazed at her ravishing beauty. He was so stunned that he accidentally stepped on a twig, and Artemis noticed him. She was so disgusted at his stares that she changed him to a stag and set his own hounds to kill him. He was torn apart by the deadly hunting dogs, who never knew that the stag they were hunting was their own master. Alternatively, Actaeon boasted that he was a better hunter than she and Artemis turned him into a stag and he was eaten by his hounds.

Adonis

In some versions of the story of Adonis, Artemis or Ares (her lover in this story) sent a wild boar to kill Adonis. This version is suspect because it implies that Artemis had lain with Ares and by virtually all accounts, she remained chaste throughout time.

Siproites

A Cretan, Siproites, saw Artemis bathing nude and was changed by her into a woman. (The complete story does not survive in any mythographer's works, but is mentioned offhand by Antoninus Liberalis.)

Orion

After leaving Eos, Orion became a follower of Artemis. She eventually killed him, though the reasons given vary:

1. Orion and Artemis were engaged. Her brother, Apollo didn't believe it was appropriate for her to marry a mortal. Apollo convinced Orion to walk out into the water and then dared Artemis to try to hit the barely visible speck (actually Orion's head) with an arrow from the shore. She succeeded, killing him.

2. Orion raped one of Artemis' female followers. She sent Scorpio, a scorpion, to kill him and both were placed in the stars as constellations. This legend explains why the constellation Scorpio rises just after Orion begins to set -- the scorpion still chases him. Orion's dog became Sirius, the dog-star.

Other stories

Callisto

Artemis killed any of her companions who lost their virginity, such as Maera and Callisto.One of Artemis' companions, Callisto, lost her virginity to Zeus, who had come disguised as Artemis. Enraged, Artemis changed her into a bear. Callisto's son, Arcas, nearly killed his mother while hunting, but Zeus or Artemis stopped him and placed them both in the sky as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Agamemnon and Iphigenia

Artemis punished Agamemnon after he killed a sacred deer in a sacred grove and boasted he was a better hunter. On his way to Troy to participate in the Trojan War, Agamemnon's ships were suddenly motionless as Artemis stopped the wind. An oracle named Calchis told Agamemnon that the only way to appease Artemis was to sacrifice Iphigenia, his daughter. According to some versions, he did so, but others claims that he sacrificed a deer in her place and Iphigenia was taken to Crimea to prepare others for sacrifice to Artemis.

Niobe

A Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Siplyon in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept, or committed suicide. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.

Taygete

Zeus pursued Taygete, one of the Pleiades, who prayed to Artemis. The goddess turned Taygete into a doe but Zeus raped her when she was unconscious. She thus conceived Lacedaemon, the mythical founder of Sparta.

Otus and Ephialtes

Otus and Ephialtes were a pair of brothers and giants. At one point, they wanted to storm Mt. Olympus. They managed to kidnap Ares and hold him in a jar for thirteen months. He was only released when Artemis offered to sleep with Otus. This made Ephialtes envious and the pair fought. Artemis changed herself into a doe and jumped between them. The Aloadae, not wanting her to get away, threw their spears and killed each other.

The Meleagrids

After the death of Meleager, Artemis turned her grieving sisters, the Meleagrids into guineafowl.

Chione

Artemis killed Chione for her pride and vanity.

Atalanta and Oeneus

Artemis saved the infant Atalanta from dying of exposure after her father abandoned her. She sent a female bear to suckle the baby, who was then raised by hunters.

Among other adventures, Atalanta participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar, which Artemis had sent to destroy Calydon because King Oeneus had forgotten her at the harvest sacrifices.

Artemis in Neopaganism

Many Neopagans, particularly Hellenistic sects in the United States, that worship Artemis today seem to omit many of the ancient myths. Those myths which are accepted by modern Neopagans seem to be interpreted rather abstractly, as mostly metaphor. Artemis is believed to be rather concerned with her follower's well being, but to reserve her boons to those who respect nature.

Artemis, in modern worship, is often seen as the goddess of wealth, magic, abundance, fertility, hunting, and longevity. While many who practice magic worship Hecate more favor Artemis for her supposed benevolence. Worship of Artemis may often include the burning of oils and incense, prayer, ritual nocturnal hunts, the burning of bread, and prostration. Artemis is thought to grant numerous boons and blessings on her followers, and is commonly worshipped by both men and women.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:20 AM)

 

In Greek mythology, Athena, the shrewd companion of heroes, became the goddess of wisdom, as philosophy became applied to cult in the later fifth century. She remained the patroness of weaving, crafts and the more disciplined side of war. Athena's wisdom also includes the cunning intelligence (metis) of such figures as Odysseus. She is attended by an owl, and is often accompanied by the goddess of victory, Nike. Wearing a goatskin breastplate called the Aegis given to her by her father, Zeus, she is often shown helmeted and with a shield bearing the Gorgon Medusa's head, a votive gift of Perseus.

Athena is an armed warrior goddess, and appears in Greek mythology as a helper of many heroes, including Heracles, Jason, and Odysseus. In classical myth she never had a consort or lover, and thus was often known as Athena Parthenos ("Athena the virgin"), hence her most famous temple, the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens. In a remnant of archaic myth, she was the mother of Erichthonius by an attempted rape, which failed.

In her role as a protector of the city, Athena was worshiped throughout the Greek world as Athena Polias ("Athena of the city"). She had a special relationship with Athens, as is shown by the etymological connection of the names of the goddess and the city.

Mythology

Birth of Athena, Daughter of Zeus

Athena is most commonly described as the daughter of Zeus. It is also often implied that she is his first-born child, which accords her special status: the weapons for which she is so famous are weapons she and he share exclusively, including the thunderbolt.

The Olympian Version

In the Olympian pantheon, Athena was remade as the favorite daughter of Zeus, born fully armed from his forehead after he swallowed her mother, Metis.The story of her birth comes in several versions. In the one most commonly cited, Zeus lay with Metis, the goddess of crafty thought and wisdom, but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear children more powerful than the sire, even Zeus himself. In order to forestall these dire consequences, after lying with her, Zeus "put her away inside his own belly;" he "swallowed her down of a sudden," He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. When it came time, Zeus was in great pain; Prometheus, Hephaestus, Hermes or Palaemon (depending on the sources examined) cleaved Zeus's head with the double-headed Minoan axe, the labrys. Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown and armed with a shout, "and pealed to the broad sky her clarion cry of war. And Ouranos trembled to hear, and Mother Gaia" {Pindar, Seventh Olympian Ode).

Hera was so annoyed at Zeus producing a child apparently on his own that she caused herself to conceive and bear Hephaestus by herself. Metis never bore any more children, and Zeus persisted as supreme ruler of Mount Olympus

.

Other Origin Tales

Fragments attributed by the Christian Eusebius of Caesarea to the semi-legendary Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, which Eusebius thought had been written before the Trojan war, make Athena instead the daughter of Cronus, a king of Byblos who is said to have visited 'the inhabitable world' and bequeathed Attica to Athena.

The Parthenon at Athens is her most famous shrine.

In Greek mythology, Pallas was an epithet for Athena. There are, however, several Pallades (feminine plural) and Pallantes (masculine plural).

Pallas was the playmate of Athena, a daughter of the god Triton (or Tritonis), her foster-father. One day, while Pallas and Athena were sparring, Zeus appeared between them with the aegis and Pallas, in her fear, forgot to parry a blow from Athena. She was killed and Athena mourned her by becoming "Pallas Athena". She also carved from a tree trunk a statue of Pallas, the Palladium, which she left with Zeus. Later Electra, whom Zeus seduced, took refuge behind this palladium; Zeus tossed it away and it fell on the land of Ilium (Troy), where Ilus had a temple built for it.

Pallas was also a Titan, son of Crius and Eurybia, husband of Styx. He was the father of Zelus, Nike, Cratos, and Bia (and sometimes, Eos or Selene). This Pallas was the god of wisdom. Aeson or Aethon was the name of his horse.

An archaic winged god is also named Pallas, with wings attached either to the ankles or to his back, like the archaic winged goddesses. He was, according to one tradition, the father of Pallas Athena and tried to rape her. She killed him and tore his skin off to make the Aegis.

Yet another Pallas, a goatish Giant, confronted Athena during the Gigantomachy; she killed him and also turned his skin into the aegis.

The last Pallas is the son of Lycaon and founder of the Arcadian town of Pallantion. He was the teacher of Athena, yet also the father of Nike and Chryse, two manifestations of Athena. The incest motif appears yet again, in the form of a consummated marriage between her and her teacher.

History

Athena has no Greek etymology, and probably was already a goddess in the Aegean before the coming of the Greeks, although her name is not attested in Eteocretan. She has been compared to Anatolian mother goddesses like Cybele, her name possibly of Lydian origin (G. Neumann, Kadmos 6, 1967), and her byname Pallas has been compared to Hittite palahh, a divine raiment.

In Mycenaean Greek, A-ta-na-po-ti-ni-ja /Athana potniya/ (Mistress Athena) is referred to in the Knossos Linear B text V 2. and A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja /Athana diwya/, the final part being the Linear B spelling of what we know from ancient Greek as Diwia (Mycenaean di-u-ja or di-wi-ja) "divine" (see dyeus). There is evidence that in early times, Athena was an owl herself, or a bird goddess in general. In book 3 of the Odyssey, she takes the form of a sea-eagle. Her tassled aegis may be the remnants of wings.

Athena is associated with Athens, a plural name because it was the place where she presided over her sisterhood, the Athenai, in earliest times.

In the Olympian pantheon, Athena was remade as the favorite daughter of Zeus, born from his forehead. The story of her birth comes in several versions. In the one most commonly cited, Zeus lay with Metis, the goddess of crafty thought, but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear children more powerful than Zeus himself. In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus transformed Metis into a fly and swallowed her immediately after lying with her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. Metis immediately began making a helmet and robe for her fetal daughter. The hammering as she made the helmet caused Zeus great pain and Prometheus, Hephaestus, Hermes or Palaemon (depending on the sources examined) cleaved Zeus's head with the double-headed Minoan axe (labrys). Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown and armed, and Zeus was none the worse for the experience.

Athena was patron of the art of weaving and other crafts, wisdom and battle. Unlike Ares, who was hot-headed and undependable in battle, Athena's domain was strategy and tactics. Having taken the side of the Greeks in the war against Troy, Athena assisted the wily Odysseus on his journey home.

Athena in Art

Athena was depicted on the obverse side of the Coin of Attalus I, depicting the head of Attalus' great uncle Philetaerus. Athena is classically portrayed wearing full armor, carrying a lance and a shield with the head of the gorgon Medusa mounted on it. It is in this posture that she was depicted in Phidias's famous gold and ivory statue of her, now lost to history, in the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis. Athena is also often depicted with an owl (a symbol of wisdom) sitting on one of her shoulders. The Mourning Athena is a relief sculpture that dates around 460 BC and portrays a tired, emotional Athena. In earlier, archaic portraits of Athena in vase-paintings, the goddess retains some of her Minoan character, such as great birdwings.

Episodes


Erichthonius

According to Apollodorus, Hephaestus attempted to rape Athena but was unsuccessful. His semen fell on the ground, and Erichthonius was born from the earth. Athena then raised the baby as a foster mother. Alternatively, the semen landed on Athena's leg, and she wiped it off with a piece of wool which she tossed on the ground. Erichthonius arose from the ground and the wool. Another version says that Hephaestus wanted Athena to marry him but she disappeared on his bridal bed; he ejaculated onto the ground instead. Athena gave three sisters, Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaulus the baby in a small box and warned them to never open it. Aglaulus and Herse opened the box which contained the infant and future-king, Erichthonius. The sight caused Herse and Aglaulus to go insane and they threw themselves off the Acropolis.

An alternative version of the same story is th

at while Athena was gone to bring a mountain to use in the Acropolis, the two willful sisters opened the box. A crow witnessed the opening and flew away to tell Athena, who fell into a rage and dropped the mountain (now Mt. Lykabettos). Once again, Herse and Aglaulus went insane and threw themselves to their deaths off a cliff.

Erichthonius later became King of Athens and implemented many beneficial changes to Athenian culture. During this time, Athena frequently protected him.

Athens

Athena competed with Poseidon to be the patron deity of Athens. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and the Athenians would choose whichever gift they preferred. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a spring sprung up; the water was salty and not very useful, whereas Athena offered them the first domesticated olive tree. The Athenians (or their king, Cecrops) accepted the olive tree and along with it Athena as their patron, for the olive tree brought wood, oil and food. This is thought to remember a clash between the inhabitants during Mycenaean times and newer immigrants. It is interesting to note that Athens at its height was a significant sea power, defeating the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis near Salamis Island in 480 BC. Athena was also the patron goddess of several other cities, notably Sparta. In an alternate version, Poseidon invents the first horse. Athena's gift is still chosen.

Perseus and Medusa

Athena guided Perseus in eliminating Medusa, a dangerous unreformed relic of the old pre-Olympian order, and she was awarded the grisly trophy that turned men to stone, for her shield.

Heracles

Athena instructed Heracles how to remove the skin from the Nemean Lion, by using the lion's own claws to cut through its thick hide. The lion's hide became Heracles' signature garment, along with the olive-wood club he used in the battle. Athena also assisted Heracles on a few other labors. She also helped Heracles defeat the Stymphalian Birds, along with Hephaestus.



 

This red-figure vase from ca. 420 BC, depicts the birth of the 'Earth-born One' (Erichthonios). Earth (Gaia) presents the new-born child to Athena, who represents the reborn serpent-friendly Eve after the Flood. The figure to the left of Gaia and the child is Hephaistos, the eldest son of Zeus and Hera, the deified Kain. According to the myth surrounding this event, Athena obtained the sperm, or seed, of Hephaistos (Kain), and placed it into the Earth, and out of Earth sprang the rejuvenated line of Kain after the Flood. The essence of ancient Greek religion is very simple. After the Flood which caused the line of Kain to disappear into the earth, Athena, the reborn serpent-friendly Eve, nurtures the reborn line of Kain which re-emerges from the earth into which it had disappeared.

Medusa and Tiresias

Medusa, unlike her two sister-Gorgons, was mortal and extremely beautiful. But she had sex with - or was raped by Poseidon in a temple of Athena. Upon discovering the desecration of her temple, Athena changed Medusa's form to match that of her sister Gorgons as punishment. Medusa's hair turned into snakes, her lower body was transformed, and meeting her gaze would turn any living creature to stone. In one version of the Tiresias myth, Tiresias stumbled upon Athena bathing, and was blinded by her nakedness. To compensate him for his loss, she sent serpents to lick his ears, which gave him the gift of prophecy.

Lady of Athens

Athena competed with Poseidon to be the patron deity of Athens, which was yet unnamed in this telling. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and that the Athenians would choose the gift they preferred. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a spring sprang up; this gave them a means of trade and water, but it was salty and not very good for drinking.

In an alternate version, Poseidon offered the first horse. Athena, however, offered them the first domesticated olive tree. The Athenians (or their king, Cecrops) accepted the olive tree and along with it Athena as their patron, for the olive tree brought wood, oil and food. This is thought to commemorate a clash between the inhabitants during Mycenaean times and newer immigrants. It is interesting to note that Athens at its height was a significant sea power, defeating the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis near Salamis Island in 480 BC. Athena was also the patron goddess of several other cities, notably Sparta.

Counselor

Athena guided Perseus in his quest to behead Medusa. She instructed Heracles to skin the Nemean Lion by using its own claws to cut through its thick hide. She also helped Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds, and to navigate the underworld so as to capture Cerberos.

Odysseus' cunning and shrewd nature quickly won Athena's favor, though she is largely confined to aiding him only from afar (implanting thoughts in his head) during his journey home from Troy. It is not until he washes up on the shore of an island where Nausicaa is washing her clothes that Athena can actually arrive herself to provide more tangible assistance.

She appears in Nausicaa's dreams to ensure the princess rescues Odysseus and eventually sends him to Ithaca. Athena, herself, appears in disguise to Odysseus upon his arrival. She initially lies and tells him Penelope, his wife, has remarried and Odysseus is believed to be dead, though Odysseus lies to her, seeing through her disguise. Pleased with his resolve and shrewdness, she reveals herself to him and tells him everything he needed to know in order to win back his kingdom. She disguises him as an elderly man so that he will not be noticed by the Suitors or Penelope and she helps Odysseus defeat his suitors and end the feud against their relatives.

Cult and Attributes

Her epithets included Atrytone (= the unwearying), Parthénos (= virgin), and Promachos (the pre-fighter/-tress, i. e. the person who fights in front).

In poetry from Homer onward, Athena's most common epithet is glaukopis, which is usually translated "bright-eyed" or "with gleaming eyes". It is a combination of glaukos ("gleaming," "silvery," and later, "bluish-green" or "gray") and ops ("eye," or sometimes, "face").

It is interesting to note that glaux "owl") is from the same root, presumably because of its own distinctive eyes. The bird which sees in the night is closely associated with the goddess of wisdom: in archaic images, she is frequently depicted with an owl perched on her head. In earlier times, Athena may well have been a bird goddess, similar to the unknown goddess depicted with owls, wings and bird talons on the Burney relief, a Mesopotamian terracotta relief of the early second millennium BC.

In the Iliad (4.514), the Homeric Hymns and in Hesiod's Theogony, she is given the curious epithet Tritogeneia. The meaning of this term is unclear. It seems to mean "Triton-born," perhaps indicating that the sea-god was her father according to some early myths, or, less likely, that she was born near Lake Triton in Africa. Another possible meaning is "triple-born" or "third-born," which may refer to her status as the third daughter of Zeus or the fact she was born from Metis, Zeus and herself; various legends list her as being the first child after Artemis and Apollo, though other legends identify her as Zeus' first child.

In her role as judge at Orestes' trial on the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra (which he won), Athena won the epithet Athena Areia.

Athena was later associated with the application of philosophy to cult in the fifth century. She remained the patroness of weaving, crafts and the more disciplined side of war. Athena's wisdom encompasses the technical knowledge employed in weaving, metal-working, but also includes the cunning intelligence (metis) of such figures as Odysseus.

The owl and the olive tree are sacred to her. She is attended by an owl, and is often accompanied by the goddess of victory, Nike. Wearing a goatskin breastplate called the Aegis given to her by her father, Zeus, she is often shown helmeted and with a shield bearing the Gorgon Medusa's head, a votive gift of Perseus. Athena is an armed warrior goddess, and appears in Greek mythology as the counselor of many heroes, including Heracles, Jason, and Odysseus.

Athena was given many other cult titles. She had the epithet Athena Ergane as the patron of craftsmen and artisans. With the epithet Athena Parthenos ("virgin"), Athena was worshiped on the Acropolis, especially in the festival of the Panathenaea. With the epithet Athena Promachos she led in battle. With the epithet Athena Polias ("of the city"), Athena was the protectress of Athens and its Acropolis, but also of many other cities, including Argos, Sparta, Gortyn, Lindos, and Larisa. She was given the epithet Athena Hippeia or Athena Hippia as the inventor of the chariot, and was worshipped under this title at Athens, Tegea and Olympia. As Athena Hippeia she was given an alternative parentage: Poseidon and Polyphe, daughter of Oceanus.. In each of these cities her temple was frequently the major temple on the acropolis.

Athena was often equated with Aphaea, a local goddess of the island of Aegina, located near Athens, once Aegina was under Athenian's power. Plutarch also refers to an instance during the Parthenon's construction of her being called Athena Hygieia ("healer"):

"A strange accident happened in the course of building, which showed that the goddess was not averse to the work, but was aiding and co-operating to bring it to perfection. One of the artificers, the quickest and the handiest workman among them all, with a slip of his foot fell down from a great height, and lay in a miserable condition, the physicians having no hope of his recovery. When Pericles was in distress about this, the goddess [Athena] appeared to him at night in a dream, and ordered a course of treatment, which he applied, and in a short time and with great ease cured the man. And upon this occasion it was that he set up a brass statue of Athena Hygeia, in the citadel near the altar, which they say was there before. But it was Phidias who wrought the goddess's image in gold, and he has his name inscribed on the pedestal as the workman of it."

In Classical Art

Athena is classically portrayed wearing full armor, with the helmet raised high on the forehead like a hat; she carries a spear and a shield with the head of the gorgon Medusa mounted on it. It is in this standing posture that she was depicted in Phidias's famous lost gold and ivory statue of her, 36 m tall, the Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon. Athena is also often depicted with an owl (a symbol of wisdom) sitting on one of her shoulders. The Mourning Athena is a relief sculpture that dates around 460 BC and portrays a weary Athena resting on a staff. In earlier, archaic portraits of Athena in Black-figure pottery, the goddess retains some of her Minoan character, such as great bird wings, though this is not true of archaic sculpture such as those at Aphaea. Other common types of Athena statue may be found here.

Apart from her attributes, there seems to be a relative consensus in sculpture from the fifth century onward as to what Athena looked like. Most noticeable in the face is perhaps a high nose with a high bridge that almost seems like a natural extension of the forehead. The eyes are typically somewhat deeply set. The lips are usually full but the mouth is fairly narrow, usually just slightly wider than the nose. The neck is somewhat longish. The net result is a serene, somewhat aloof beauty.

Arachne

The fable of Arachne is a late addition to Greek mythology, that does not appear in the myth repertory of the Attic vase-painters. Arachne's name simply means "spider". Arachne was the daughter of a famous dyer in Tyrian purple in Hypaipa of Lydia. She became so conceited of her skill as a weaver that she began claiming that her skill was greater than that of Athena herself

.

Athena gave Arachne a chance to redeem herself by assuming the form of an old woman and warning Arachne not to offend the gods. Arachne scoffed and wished for a weaving contest, so she could prove her skill. Athena wove the scene of her victory over Poseidon that had inspired her patronage of Athens. According to the Latin narrative, Arachne's tapestry featured twenty-one episodes of the infidelity of the gods: Jupiter being unfaithful with Leda, with Europa, with Danae.

Even Athena admitted that Arachne's work was flawless, but was outraged at Arachne's disrespectful choice of subjects that displayed the failings and transgressions of the gods. Finally losing her temper, Athena destroyed Arachne's tapestry and loom, striking it with her shuttle, Arachne realized her folly and hanged herself. In Ovid's telling, Athena took pity on Arachne who was changed into a spider. The story suggests that the origin of weaving lay in imitation of spiders and that it was considered to have been perfected first in Asia Minor.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:21 AM)



In Greek mythology Dêmêtêr ("mother-earth" or possibly "distribution-mother") is the goddess of grain and fertility, the pure nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death, and preserver of marriage and the sacred law.

She is invoked as the "bringer of seasons" in the Homeric hymn, a subtle sign that she was worshiped long before the Olympians arrived. Another story states that she was one of the twelve Olympians. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter has been dated to sometime around the Seventh Century BC. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon. The Roman equivalent is Ceres, from whom the word "cereal" is derived.

Demeter is easily confused with Gaia or Rhea, and with Cybele. The goddess's epithets reveal the span of her functions in Greek life. Demeter and Kore ("the maiden") are usually invoked as to theo ('"The Two Goddesses"), and they appear in that form in Linear B graffiti at Mycenaean Pylos in pre-classical times. A connection with the goddess-cults of Minoan Crete is quite possible.

According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, the greatest gifts which Demeter gave were cereal (also known as corn in modern Britain) which made man different from wild animals; and the Mysteries which give man higher hopes in this life and the afterlife.

Demeter and Poseidon

Demeter and Poseidon's names are linked in the earliest scratched notes in Linear B found at Mycenaean Pylos, where they appear as PO-SE-DA-WO-NE and DA-MA-TE in the context of sacralized lot-casting. The 'DA' element in each of their names is seemingly connected to an Proto-Indo-European root relating to distribution of land and honors (compare Latin dare "to give"). Poseidon (his name seems to signify "consort of the distributor") once pursued Demeter, in her archaic form as a mare-goddess. She resisted Poseidon, but she could not disguise her divinity among the horses of King Onkios. Poseidon became a stallion and covered her. Demeter was literally furious ("Demeter Erinys") at the assault, but washed away her anger in the River Ladon ("Demeter Lousia"). She bore to Poseidon a Daughter, whose name might not be uttered outside the Eleusinian Mysteries, and a steed named Arion, with a black mane. In Arcadia, Demeter was worshiped as a horse-headed deity into historical times.

Demeter and Persephone

The central myth of Demeter, which is at the heart of the Eleusinian Mysteries is her relationship with Persephone, her daughter and own younger self. In the Olympian pantheon, Persephone became the consort of Hades (Roman Pluto, the underworld god of wealth). Demeter had a large scope of abilities, besides being the goddess of the harvest she also controlled the seasons and because of that was capable of destroying all life on earth. In fact her powers were able to influence Zeus into making Hades bring her daughter Persephone up from the underworld. Persephone became the goddess of the underworld when Hades abducted her from the earth and brought her into the underworld. She had been playing with some nymphs, whom Demeter later changed into the Sirens as punishment for having interfered, and the ground split and she was taken in by Hades. Life came to a standstill as the depressed Demeter searched for her lost daughter.

Finally, Zeus could not put up with the dying earth and forced Hades to return Persephone by sending Hermes to retrieve her. But before she was released, Hades tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, which forced her to return for six months each year. When Demeter and her daughter were together, the earth flourished with vegetation. But for six months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm. Summer, autumn, and spring by comparison have heavy rainfall and mild temperatures in which plant life flourishes. It was during her trip to retrieve Persephone from the underworld that she revealed the Eleusinian Mysteries.

In an alternate version, Hecate rescued Persephone. In other alternative versions, Persephone was not tricked into eating the pomegranate seeds but chose to eat them herself, or ate them accidentally, that is, not knowing the effect it would have or perhaps even recognize it for what it was. In the latter version it is claimed that Ascalaphus, one of Hades' gardners, claimed to have witnessed her do so, at the moment that she was preparing to return with Hermes. Regardless, the result is the occurrence of the unfruitful seasons of the ancient Greek calendars.

Persephone is not only the younger self of Demeter, she is in turn also one of three guises of Demeter as the Triple Goddess. The other two guises are Kore (the younger one, signifying green young corn, the maiden) and Hekate (the elder of the three, the harvested corn, the crone) with Demeter in between, signifying the ripe oars, the nymph, waiting to be plucked, which to a certain extent reduces the name and role of Demeter to that of groupname. Before Persephone was abducted by Hades, an event witnessed by the shepherd Eumolpus and the swineherd Eubuleus (they saw a girl being carried of into the earth which had violently opened up, in a black charriot, driven by an invisible driver), she was called Kore. It is when she is taken that she becomes Persephone ('she who brings destruction'). Hekate was also reported to have told Demeter that she had heard Kore scream that she was being raped.

Demeter's stay at Eleusis

Demeter was searching for her daughter Persephone (also known as Kore). Having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, she received a hospitable welcome from Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica (and also Phytalus). He asked her to nurse Demophon and Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira.

As a gift to Celeus, because of his hospitality, Demeter planned to make Demophon as a god, by coating and anointing him with Ambrosia, breathing gently upon him while holding him in her arms and bosom, and making him immortal by burning his mortal spirit away in the family hearth every night. She put him in the fire at night like a firebrand or ember without the knowledge of his parents.

Demeter was unable to complete the ritual because his mother Metanira walked in and saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright, which angered Demeter, who lamented that foolish mortals do not understand the concept and ritual.

Instead of making Demophon immortal, Demeter chose to teach Triptolemus the art of agriculture and, from him, the rest of Greece learned to plant and reap crops. He flew across the land on a winged chariot while Demeter and Persephone cared for him, and helped him complete his mission of educating the whole of Greece on the art of agriculture. Later, Triptolemus taught Lyncus, King of the Scythians the arts of agriculture but he refused to teach it to his people and then tried to murder Triptolemus. Demeter turned him into a lynx.

Some scholars believe the Demophon story is based on an earlier prototypical folk tale.

Children

  Persephone (by Zeus)

  Zagreus (by Zeus)

  Despoina (by Poseidon)

  Arion (by Poseidon)

  Plutus (by Iasion)

  Philomelus (by Iasion)

  Eubolus by (Carmanor)

Portrayals

  Demeter was usually portrayed on a chariot, and frequently associated with images of the harvest, including flowers, fruit, and grain. She was also sometimes pictured with Persephone.

  Demeter is not generally portrayed with a consort: the exception is Iasion, the youth of Crete who lay with Demeter in a thrice-ploughed field, and was sacrificed afterwards ­ by a jealous Zeus with a thunderbolt, Olympian mythography adds, but the Cretan site of the myth is a sign that the Hellenes knew this was an act of the ancient Demeter.

  Demeter placed Aethon, the god of famine, in Erysichthon's gut, making him permanently famished. This was a punishment for cutting down trees in a sacred grove.

Demeter in Astronomy

Demeter is a main belt asteroid 26km in diameter, which was discovered in 1929 by K. Reinmuth at Heidelberg.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:23 AM)

 

Hephaestus was the Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan; he was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals and metallurgy, and fire. He was worshipped in all the manufacturing and industrial centers of Greece, especially Athens.

Though his forge traditionally lay in the heart of Lemnos, Hephaestus was quickly identified by Greek colonists in southern Italy with the volcano gods Adranus of Mount Etna and Vulcanus of the Lipara islands, and his forge moved here by the poets. The first-century sage Apollonius of Tyana is said to have observed, "there are many other mountains all over the earth that are on fire, and yet we should never be done with it if we assigned to them giants and gods like Hephaestus" (Life of Apollonius of Tyana, book v.16).

Hephaestus and his brother Ares were sons of Hera, with or without the cooperation of Zeus. In classic and late interpretations, Hera bore him alone, in jealousy for Zeus's solo birth of Athena, but as Hera is older than Zeus in terms of human history, the myth may be an inversion. Indeed, in some versions of Athena's birth, the goddess only enters the world after Zeus' head is split open by a hammer-wielding Hephaestus. Either way, in Greek thought, the fates of the goddess of wisdom and war (Athena) and the god of the forge that makes the weapons of war were linked. In Attica, Hephaestus and Athena Ergane (Athena as patroness of craftsmen and artisans), were honored at a festival called Chalceia on the 30th day of Pyanepsion. Hephaestus crafted much of Athena's weaponry, along with those of the rest of the gods and even of a few mortals who received their special favor.

An Athenian founding myth tells that Athena refused a union with Hephaestus, and that when he tried to force her she disappeared from the bed, and Hephaestus ejaculated on the earth, impregnating Gaia, who subsequently gave birth to Erichthonius of Athens; then the surrogate mother gave the child to Athena to foster, guarded by a serpent.

Hyginus made an etymology of strife (Eri-) between Athena and Hephaestus and the Earth-child (chthonios). Some readers may have the sense that an earlier, non-virginal Athena is disguised in a convoluted re-making of the myth-element. At any rate, there is a Temple of Hephaestus (Hephaesteum or the so-called "Theseum") located near the Athens agora, or marketplace.

The Temple of Hephaestus (Hephaesteum or the so-called "Theseum"),
located at near the Athens agora, or marketplace.

Hephaestus also crafted much of the other magnficent equipage of the gods, and almost any finely-wrought metalwork imbued with powers that appears in Greek myth is said to have been forged by Hephaestus: Hermes's winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis breastplate, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Achilles's armor, Heracles's bronze clappers, Helios's chariot, the shoulder of Pelops, Eros's bow and arrows and Hades's helmet of invisibility. Hephaestus worked with the help of the chthonic Cyclopes, his assistants in the forge.

He also built automatons of metal to work for him. He gave to blinded Orion his apprentice Cedalion as a guide.

Prometheus stole the fire that he gave to man from Hephaestus' forge. Hephaestus also created the gift that the gods gave man, the woman Pandora and her famous box.

In Rubens' gritty Vulcan [Hephaestus] forging the thunderbolts of Jove, only the title is mythic in an essay in realism illuminated by the firelight of the forge.In Iliad i.590, Zeus threw Hephaestus from Olympus because he released his mother Hera who was suspended by a golden chain between earth and sky, after an argument she had with Zeus.

Hephaestus fell for nine days and nights before landing on the island of Lemnos where he grew to be a master craftsman and was allowed back into Olympus when his ability and usefulness became known to the gods.Hephaestus was quite ugly; he was crippled and misshapen at birth: in the vase-paintings, his feet are sometimes back-to-front. In art, Hephaestus was shown lame and bent over his anvil.

He walked with the aid of a stick. Hera, mortified to have brought forth such grotesque offspring, promptly threw him from Mount Olympus. He fell, as he tells it himself in the Iliad (xviii.395) many days and nights and landed in the Ocean where he was brought up by the Oceanids Thetis (mother of Achilles) and Eurynome.

(Hephaetus¹s physical appearance indicates Arsenicosis, low levels of arsenic poisoning result in lameness and skin cancers. Arsenic was added to bronze to harden it and most smiths of the Bronze Age would have suffered from chronic workplace poisoning).

Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical golden throne which, when she sat on it, didn't allow her to leave it. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to let her go but he repeatedly refused. Dionysus got him drunk and took him back to Olympus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus released Hera after being given Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as his wife.

Hephaestus and Aphrodite

In the Olympian order, Hephaestus was formally paired with Aphrodite, whom no one could possess. Although married to Hephaestus, Aphrodite gave herself in secret to Ares, according to a tale in the Odyssey. When Hephaestus found out about it from Helios, the Sun, who sees all, he surprised them during one of their trysts ensnared in his invisibly fine and unbreakable net and left them exposed for all of Olympus to see.

The Thebans told that the union with Ares produced Harmonia, as lovely as a second Aphrodite. But of her union with Hephaestus, there was no issue, unless Virgil was serious when he said that Eros was their child (Aeneid i.664). But in Homer's Illiad the consort of Hephaestus is a lesser Aphrodite, Aglaia "the glorious," the youngest of the Graces, and Hesiod agrees.

Hephaestus fathered several children with mortals and immortals alike. One of those children was the robber Periphetes. With Thalia, Hephaestus was sometimes considered the father of the Palici.

Hephaestus was somehow connected with the archaic, pre-Greek Phrygian and Thracian mystery cult of the Kabeiroi, who were also called the Hephaistoi, "the Hephaestus-men," in Lemnos.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:25 AM)

 

In the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology, Hera, or Here was the wife and older sister of Zeus. Her chief function was as goddess of marriage. Her equivalent in Roman mythology was Juno. The cow and later the peacock are sacred to her. In late symbolic interpretations of the gods, she was identified as the upper air.

Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned and crowned with the polos, the high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses, Hera may bear in her hand the pomegranate, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy (Ruck and Staples 1994). "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier, aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos" (Burkert 1985:131).

Etymology and Early History

Unlike some Greek gods, such as Zeus and Poseidon, Hera's name is not analyzable as a Greek or Indo-European word. She therefore seems to be a survival of a pre-Greek "great goddess" figure - perhaps one of the powerful female divinities of the Minoan pantheon, or of some unidentified pre-Greek ("Pelasgian") people.

Hera's importance in the early archaic period is attested by the large building projects undertaken in her honor.

Hera's importance in the early archaic period is attested by the large building projects undertaken in her honor. The temples of Hera in the two main centers of her cult, the Heraion of Samos and the Heraion of Argos in the Argolid, were the very earliest monumental Greek temples constructed, in the 8th century BC.

Sometimes this devolved role is as clear as a simple substitution can make it. According to the Homeric Hymn III to Delian Apollo, Hera detained Eileithyia, to already prevent Leto from going into labor with Artemis and Apollo, because the father was Zeus. The other goddesses present at the birthing on Delos sent Iris to bring her. As she stepped upon the island, the divine birth began. In the myth of the birth of Heracles, it is Hera herself who sits at the door instead, delaying the birth of Heracles until her protegé, Eurystheus, has been born first.

The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo makes the monster Typhaon the offspring of archaic Hera in her Minoan form, produced out of herself, like a monstrous version of Hephaestus, and whelped in a cave in Cilicia (Iliad, ii. 781-783). She gave the creature to Gaia to raise.

At Olympia, Hera's seated cult figure was older than the warrior figure of Zeus that accompanied it. Homer expressed her relationship with Zeus delicately in the Iliad, in which she declares to Zeus, "I am Cronus' eldest daughter, and am honourable not on this ground only, but also because I am your wife, and you are king of the gods."

Though Zeus is often called Zeus Heraios ("Zeus, consort of Hera"), Homer's treatment of Hera is less than respectful, and in late anecdotal versions of the myths (see below) she appeared to spend most of her time plotting revenge on the nymphs seduced by her Consort, for Hera upheld all the old right rules of Hellene society and sorority.

Hera was born of Cronos and Rhea, and was abruptly swallowed after birth due to a prophesy that one of Cronos's children will take over his throne. Zeus was spared and when he grew older he saved all of his siblings, then banished Cronos, because the gods were immortal and could not be killed.

The Cult of Hera

Hera was especially worshipped, as "Argive Hera" (Hera Argeia), at her sanctuary that stood between the former Mycenaean city-states of Argos and Mycenae, where the festivals in her honor called Heraia were celebrated. "The three cities I love best," the ox-eyed Queen of Heaven declares (Iliad, book iv) "are Argos, Sparta and Mycenae of the broad streets." Her other main center of cult was at Samos. There were also temples to Hera in Olympia, Corinth, Tiryns, Perachora and the sacred island of Delos. In Magna Graecia, the temple long called the Temple of Poseidon among the group at Paestum was identified in the 1950s as a second temple there of Hera.

Greek altars of Classical times were always under the open sky. Hera may have been the first to whom an enclosed roofed temple sanctuary was dedicated, at Samos about 800 BC. (It was replaced later by the Heraion, one of the largest Greek temples anywhere.)

Earlier sanctuaries, whose dedication is less secure, were of the Mycenaean type called "house sanctuaries". Samos excavations have revealed votive offerings, many of them late 8th and 7th century, which reveal that Hera at Samos was not merely a local Greek goddess of the Aegean: the museum there contains figures of gods and suppliants and other votive offerings from Armenia, Babylon, Iran, Assyria, Egypt, testimony to the reputation which this sanctuary of Hera enjoyed and to the large influx of pilgrims - and a general reminder to us that Greek myths did not evolve in a cultural vacuum (Burkert 1998).

In Euboea the festival of the Great Daedala, sacred to Hera, was celebrated on a sixty-year cycle.In Hellenistic imagery, Hera's wagon was pulled by peacocks, birds not known to Greeks before the conquests of Alexander: Alexander's tutor, Aristotle, refers to it as "the Persian bird."

The peacock motif was revived in the Renaissance iconography that unified Hera and Juno, and which European painters have kept familiar to us (Seznec 1953). A bird that had been associated with Hera on an archaic level, where most of the Aegean goddesses were associated with "their" bird, was the cuckoo, which appears in mythic fragments concerning the first wooing of a virginal Hera by Zeus.

Her archaic association was primarily with cattle, as a Cow Goddess, who was especially venerated in "cattle-rich" Euboea. Her familiar Homeric epithet boôpis, is always translated "cow-eyed", for, like the Greeks of Classical times, we reject its other natural translation "cow-faced" or at least "of cow aspect".

A cow-headed Hera, like a Minotaur would make a dark demon of fear. But on Cyprus, very early archaeological sites contain bull skulls that have been adapted for use as masks (see Bull (mythology)).

The pomegranate, an ancient emblem of the Great Goddess, remained an emblem of Hera: many of the votive pomegranates and poppy capsules recovered at Samos are made of ivory, which survives burial better than the wooden ones that must have been more common. Like all goddesses, Hera may be displayed wearing a diadem and be veiled.

Emblems of the Presence of Hera

In Hellenistic imagery, Hera's wagon was pulled by peacocks, birds not known to Greeks before the conquests of Alexander: Alexander's tutor, Aristotle, refers to it as "the Persian bird." The peacock motif was revived in the Renaissance iconography that unified Hera and Juno, and which European painters have kept familiar to us (Seznec 1953). A bird that had been associated with Hera on an archaic level, where most of the Aegean goddesses were associated with "their" bird, was the cuckoo, which appears in mythic fragments concerning the first wooing of a virginal Hera by Zeus.

Her archaic association was primarily with cattle, as a Cow Goddess, who was especially venerated in "cattle-rich" Euboea. Her familiar Homeric epithet boopis, is always translated "cow-eyed", for, like the Greeks of Classical times, we reject its other natural translation "cow-faced" or at least "of cow aspect". A cow-headed Hera, like a Minotaur would make a dark demon of fear. But on Cyprus, very early archaeological sites contain bull skulls that have been adapted for use as masks.

The pomegranate, an ancient emblem of the Great Goddess, remained an emblem of Hera: many of the votive pomegranates and poppy capsules recovered at Samos are made of ivory, which survives burial better than the wooden ones that must have been more common. Like all goddesses, Hera may be displayed wearing a diadem and be veiled.

Matriarchy?

There has been considerable scholarship, reaching back to Johann Jakob Bachofen, about the possibility that Hera, whose early importance in Greek religion is firmly established, was originally the goddess of a matriarchal people, presumably inhabiting Greece before the Hellenes. In this view, her activity as goddess of marriage established the patriarchal bond of her own subordination: her resistance to the conquests of Zeus is rendered as Hera's "jealousy", the main theme of literary anecdotes that undercut her ancient cult.

Hera and Her Children

Hera presides over the right arrangements of the marriage and is the archetype of the union in the marriage bed, but she is not notable as a mother. The legitimate offspring of her union with Zeus is Ares, Hebe (the goddess of youth), Eris (the goddess of discord) and Eileithyia (goddess of childbirth). Hera was jealous of Zeus' giving birth to Athena without recourse to her (actually with Metis), so she gave birth to Hephaestus without him. (An alternate version discounts this and says Zeus and Hera were both parents of Hephaestus) Zeus and/or Hera herself were then disgusted with Hephaestus' ugliness and threw him from Mount Olympus. As another alternative version, Hera gave birth to all of the children usually accredited to her and Zeus together, alone by beating her hand on the Earth, a solemnizing action for the Greeks, or by eating lettuce.

Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical throne which, when she sat on it, didn't allow her to leave it. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to let her go but he repeatedly refused. Dionysus got him drunk and took him back to Olympus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus released Hera after being given Aphrodite as his wife.

Hera the Nemesis of Heracles

Hera was the enemy of Heracles, the hero who, more than even Perseus, Cadmus or Theseus, introduced the Olympian ways in Greece (Ruck and Staples 1994). When Alcmene was pregnant with Heracles, Hera tried to prevent the birth from occurring. She was foiled by Galanthis, her servant, who told Hera that she had already delivered the baby. Hera turned her into a weasel.

While Heracles was still an infant, Hera sent two serpents, to kill him as he lay in his cot, the mythographers interpreted the event. Heracles throttled a single snake in each hand and was found by his nurse playing with their limp bodies as if they were child's toys. The anecdote is built upon a representation of the hero gripping a serpent in each hand, precisely as the familiar Minoan snake-handling goddesses had once done.

One account of the origin of the Milky Way is that Zeus had tricked Hera into nursing the infant Heracles: discovering who he was, she had pulled him from her breast, and a spurt of her milk formed the smear across the sky that can be seen to this day.

The Twelve Labors

Hera assigned Heracles to labor for King Eurystheus at Mycenae. She attempted to make almost each of Heracles' twelve labors more difficult.

When he fought the Lernaean Hydra, she sent a crab to bite at his feet in the hopes of distracting him. To annoy Heracles after he took the cattle of Geryon, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. Hera then sent a flood which raised the water level of a river so much Heracles could not ford the river with the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. When he finally reached the court of Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera.

Eurystheus also wanted to sacrifice Cretan Bull to Hera, who hated Heracles. She refused the sacrifice because it reflected glory on Heracles. The bull was released and wandered to Marathon, becoming known as the Marathonian Bull.

Hera's Jealousies

Echo

For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from Zeus' affairs by incessantly talking. When Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to only speak the words of others (hence our modern word "echo").

Leto and Artemis/Apollo

When Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Hera's husband, Zeus, was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra-firma", or the mainland, or any island at sea. She found the floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island and gave birth there. The island was surrounded by swans. As a gesture of gratitude, Delos was secured with four pillars. The island later became sacred to Apollo. Alternatively, Hera kidnapped Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods forced Hera to let her go. Either way, Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.

Callisto/Arcas

Hera also figures in the myth of Callisto and Arcas.

A follower of Artemis, Callisto took a vow to remain a virgin. But Zeus fell in love with her and disguised himself as Apollo in order to lure her into his embrace. Hera then turned Callisto into a bear out of revenge. Later, Callisto's son with Zeus, Arcas, nearly killed her in a hunt but Zeus placed them both in the sky as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

An alternate version: One of Artemis' companions, Callisto lost her virginity to Zeus, who had come disguised as Artemis. Enraged, Artemis changed her into a bear. Callisto's son, Arcas, nearly killed his mother while hunting, but Zeus or Artemis stopped him and placed them both in the sky as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Another alternate version: Artemis killed Callisto in bear form, deliberately.

Hera was not pleased with the placement of Callisto and Arcas in the sky, so she asked her nurse, Tethys, to help. Tethys, a marine goddess, cursed the constellations to forever circle the sky and never drop below the horizon, hence explaining why they are circumpolar.

Semele/Dionysus

Dionysus was a son of Zeus by a mortal woman. A jealous Hera again attempted to kill the child, this time by sending Titans to rip Dionysus to pieces after luring the baby with toys. Though Zeus drove the Titans away with his thunderbolts but only after the Titans ate everything but the heart, which was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter. Zeus used the heart to recreate Dionysus and implant him in the womb of Semele, hence he was again "the twice-born". Sometimes it was said that he gave Semele the heart to eat to impregnate her.

Io

Hera almost caught Zeus with a mistress named Io, a fate avoided by Zeus turning Io into a beautiful white heifer. However, Hera was not completely fooled and demanded Zeus give her the heifer as a present.

Once Io was given to Hera, she placed her in the charge of Argus to keep her separated from Zeus. Zeus then commanded Hermes to kill Argus, which he did by lulling all one-hundred eyes to sleep. Hera sent a gadfly to sting Io as she wandered the earth.

Alternate version: Io was transformed back into a nymph by Hera in Egypt. The Egyptians saw her, and worshipped her as a goddess and her former form, the cow.

Lamia

Lamia was a queen of Libya, whom Zeus loved. Hera turned her into a monster and murdered their children. Or, alternately, she killed Lamia's children and the grief turned her into a monster. Lamia was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would always obsess over the image of her dead children. Zeus gave her the gift to be able to take her eyes out to rest, and then put them back in. Lamia was envious of other mothers and ate their children.

Other Myths Involving Hera

Cydippe

Cydippe, a priestess of Hera, was on her way to a festival in the goddess' honor. The oxen which was to pull her cart were overdue and her sons, Biton and Cleobis pulled the cart the entire way (45 stadia, 8 kilometers). Cydippe was impressed with their devotion to her and her goddess and asked Hera to give her children the best gift a god could give a person. Hera ordained that the brothers would die in their sleep.

Tiresias

Tiresias was a priest of Zeus, and as a young man he encountered two snakes mating and hit them with a stick. He was then transformed into a woman. As a woman, Tiresias became a priestess of Hera, married and had children, including Manto. According to some versions of the tale, Lady Tiresias was a prostitute of great renown. After seven years as a woman, Tiresias again found mating snakes, struck them with her staff, and became a man once more.

As a result of his experiences, Zeus and Hera asked him to settle the question of which sex, male or female, experienced more pleasure during intercourse. Zeus claimed it was women; Hera claimed it was men. When Tiresias sided with Zeus, Hera struck him blind. Since Zeus could not undo what she had done, he gave him the gift of prophecy. An alternative and less commonly told story has it that Tiresias was blinded by Athena after he stumbled onto her bathing naked. His mother, Chariclo, begged her to undo her curse, but Athena couldn't; she gave him prophecy instead.

Chelone - At the marriage of Zeus and Hera, a nymph named Chelone was disrespectful (or refused to attend). Zeus condemned her to eternal silence.

The Iliad

During the Trojan War, Diomedes fought with Hector and saw Ares fighting on the Trojans' side. Diomedes called for his soldiers to fall back slowly. Hera, Ares' mother, saw Ares' interference and asked Zeus, Ares' father, for permission to drive Ares away from the battlefield. Hera encouraged Diomedes to attack Ares and he threw his spear at the god. Athena drove the spear into Ares' body and he bellowed in pain and fled to Mt. Olympus, forcing the Trojans to fall back.

The Golden Fleece - Hera hated Pelias for having murdered Sidero, his step-grandmother, in a temple to Hera. She later attempted to manipulate Jason and Medea to kill Pelias and succeeded.

The Metamorphoses - In Thrace, as Ovid tells in Metamorphoses 6.87, Hera and Zeus turned King Haemus and Queen Rhodope into mountains, the Balkan (Haemus Mons) and Rhodope mountain chain respectively for their hubris in comparing themselves to the gods.

Hera in Neopaganism

Hera is one of the most popular gods among modern Neopagan sects in the United States, particularly among Hellenistic Neopagans. While most mythology regarding Hera seems to be conveniently omitted by most modern Neopagans, her roles remain much the same as they were in classical Hellenistic Paganism.

Hera is seen as the goddess of the home and monogamy, and is believed to inspire love, loyalty, and happiness. Hera is also believed to inspire jealousy and is most commonly worshipped by women. All sects that include the worship of Hera encourage monogamy and the fulfillment of domestic duties. Worship of Hera may include or inspire the collecting of fragrances and ornaments, extravagant home decoration, the burning of oils and incense (particularly within the home), and the spilling of drinks or the burning of bread and other foods as sacrifice. Some have jested that the most common form of worship is the spilling of drinks and the burning of food within the home.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:27 AM)

 

Hermes in Greek mythology, is the Olympian god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures, of invention, of commerce in general, and of the cunning of thieves and liars.

As a translator, Hermes is a messenger from the gods to humans, sharing this with Iris. An interpreter who bridges the boundaries with strangers is a hermeneus. Hermes gives us our word "hermeneutics" for the art of interpreting hidden meaning. In Greek a lucky find was a hermaion.

Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In addition to the syrinx and the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sport of boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes. Modern mythographers have connected Hermes with the trickster gods of other cultures.

Hermes also served as a psychopomp, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the afterlife (the Underworld in the Greek myths). There he is depicted as the only god besides Hades and Persephone who could enter and leave the Underworld without hindrance. Among the Hellenes, as the related word Herma Œa boundary stone, crossing point¹ would suggest, Hermes is the Spirit of Crossing-Over. As such he was seen to be manifest in any kind of interchange, transfer, transgressions, transcendence, transition, transit or traversal, all of which activities involve some form of crossing in some sense. This explains his connection with transitions in one¹s fortunes, with the interchanges of goods, words and information involved in trade, interpreting, oratory, writing, with the way in which the wind may transfer objects from one place to another, and with the transition to the afterlife.

In the Olympian pantheon, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia, a daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes was born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia to Maia. As the story is told in the Homeric Hymn, the Hymn to Hermes, Maia was a nymph, but Greeks generally applied the name to a midwife or a wise and gentle old woman; so the nymph appears to have been an ancient one, or more probably a goddess. At any rate, she was one of the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, taking refuge in a cave of Mount Cyllene in Arcadia.

The infant Hermes was precocious. His first day he invented the lyre. By nightfall, he had rustled the immortal cattle of Apollo. For the first sacrifice, the taboos surrounding the sacred kine of Apollo had to be transgressed, and the trickster god of boundaries was the one to do it.

Hermes drove the cattle back to Greece and hid them, and covered their tracks. When Apollo accused Hermes, Maia said that it could not be him because he was with her the whole night. However, Zeus entered the argument and said that Hermes did steal the cattle and they should be returned. While arguing with Apollo, Hermes began to play his lyre. The instrument enchanted Apollo and he agreed to let Hermes keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre.

Hermes' symbols were the rooster and the tortoise. He can be recognized by his purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and the herald's staff, the kerykeion.

Hermes was the god of thieves because he was very cunning and shrewd and was a thief himself from the night he was born, when he slipped away from Maia and ran away to steal his elder brother Apollo's cattle.

Hermes was loyal to his father Zeus. When the nymph Io, one of Zeus' consorts, was trapped by Hera and guarded over by the many-eyed giant Argus Panoptes, Hermes saved her by lulling the giant to sleep with stories and then decapitating him with a crescent-shaped sword.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek religion, Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.

A syncretic conflation of Hermes with the Egyptian god of wisdom Thoth produced the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, to whom a body of arcane lore was attributed in the Greco-Roman culture of Alexandria. The writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus were edited and published in the Italian Renaissance.

Hermes is a Greek mythological figure who is a son of Zeus and Maia. The name Hermes was derived from the Greek word herma which is a square or rectangular pillar in either stone or bronze, with the head of Hermes (usually with a beard), which adorned the top of the pillar, and male genitals near to the base of the pillar. These were used in Athens to ward off evil and also as road and boundary markers all over Greece markers.

Due to the fact that these statues were used as road markers Hermes was the god of land travel. He was also the god of shepherds, merchants, weights and measurements, oratory, literature, athletics, and thieves. His symbols were the cock, tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and the heralds staff. Hermes was the god of thieves because he was very cunning and shrewd and was a thief himself from the night he was born. The night Hermes was born he snuck away from his mother and ran away to steal his Brother Apollo's cattle.

He drove the cattle back to Greece and hid them and covered their tracks. When Apollo accused Hermes, Maia said that it could not be him because he was with her the whole night, however Zeus entered into the argument and said that Hermes did steal the cattle and they should be returned. While arguing with Apollo, Hermes began to play his lyre. The instrument enchanted Apollo and he agreed to let Hermes keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre.

Hermes was the herald to the gods (messenger of the gods) so he had to guide the souls of the dead to the underworld, the person who does this is called a psychopomp. Hermes was very loyal to his father Zeus, when Zeus fell in love with the nymph Io, Hermes saved her from the many-eyed Argus by lulling him to sleep with stories and songs, decapitating him with a crescent-shaped sword. Some say that is representative of killing the disapproving eyes of the community, always policing good conduct in a shame-based society through their disapproving gaze.

Cult of Hermes

Though temples to Hermes existed throughout Greece, a major center of his cult was at Pheneos in Arcadia, where festivals in his honor were called Hermoea.

As a crosser of boundaries, Hermes Psychopompos' ("conductor of the soul") was a psychopomp, meaning he brought newly-dead souls to the Underworld and Hades. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Hermes conducted Persephone the Kore (young girl or virgin), safely back to Demeter. He also brought dreams to living mortals.

Among the Hellenes, as the related word herma ("a boundary stone, crossing point") would suggest, Hermes embodied the spirit of crossing-over: He was seen to be manifest in any kind of interchange, transfer, transgressions, transcendence, transition, transit or traversal, all of which involve some form of crossing in some sense. This explains his connection with transitions in one¹s fortune - with the interchanges of goods, words and information involved in trade, interpretion, oration, writing - with the way in which the wind may transfer objects from one place to another, and with the transition to the afterlife.

Many graffito dedications to Hermes have been found in the Athenian Agora, in keeping with his epithet of Agoraios and his role as patron of commerce.

Originally, Hermes was depicted as an older, bearded, phallic god, but in the 6th century BCE, the traditional Hermes was reimagined as an athletic youth. Statues of the new type of Hermes stood at stadiums and gymnasiums throughout Greece.

Hermai - Herms

In very ancient Greece, Hermes was a phallic god of boundaries. His name, in the form herma, was applied to a wayside marker pile of stones; each traveller added a stone to the pile. In the 6th century BCE, Hipparchos, the son of Pisistratus, replaced the cairns that marked the midway point between each village deme at the central agora of Athens with a square or rectangular pillar of stone or bronze topped by a bust of Hermes with a beard. An erect phallus rose from the base. In the more primitive Mount Kyllini or Cyllenian herms, the standing stone or wooden pillar was simply a carved phallus. In Athens, herms were placed outside houses for good luck. "That a monument of this kind could be transformed into an Olympian god is astounding," Walter Burkert remarked (Burkert 1985).

In 415 BCE, when the Athenian fleet was about to set sail for Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War, all of the Athenian hermai were vandalized. The Athenians at the time believed it was the work of saboteurs, either from Syracuse or from the anti-war faction within Athens itself. Socrates' pupil Alcibiades was suspected to have been involved, and Socrates indirectly paid for the impiety with his life. From these origins, hermai moved into the repertory of Classical architecture.

Hermes Iconography

Hermes was usually portrayed wearing a broad-brimmed traveler's hat or a winged cap (petasus), wearing winged sandals (talaria), and carrying his Near Eastern herald's staff -- either a caduceus entwined by copulating serpents, or a kerykeion topped with a symbol similar to the astrological symbol of Taurus the bull. Hermes wore the garments of a traveler, worker, or shepherd. He was represented by purses or bags, roosters, and tortoises. When depicted as Hermes Logios, he was the divine symbol of eloquence, generally shown speaking with one arm raised for emphasis.

Birth

Hermes was born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia to Maia. As the story is told in the Homeric Hymn, the Hymn to Hermes, Maia was a nymph, but Greeks generally applied the name to a midwife or a wise and gentle old woman, so the nymph appears to have been an ancient one, one of the Pleiades taking refuge in a cave of Arcadia.

The god was precocious: on the day of his birth, by midday he had invented the lyre, using the shell of a tortoise, and by nightfall he had rustled the immortal cattle of Apollo. For the first Olympian sacrifice, the taboos surrounding the sacred kine of Apollo had to be transgressed, and the trickster god of boundaries was the one to do it.

His epithet Argeiphontes, or Argus-slayer, recalls his slaying of the many-eyed giant Argos who was watching over the heifer-nymph Io in the sanctuary of Lady Hera herself in Argos. Putting Argos to sleep, Hermes dispatched him with a cast stone, like a hero faced by a giant in the land of Canaan.

Hermes' Offspring

Pan - The satyr-like Greek god of nature, shepherds and flocks, Pan was often said to be the son of Hermes through the nymph Dryope. In the Homeric Hymn to Pan, Pan's mother ran away from the newborn god in fright over his goat-like appearance.

Hermaphroditus was an immortal son of Hermes through Aphrodite. He was changed into an intersex person when the gods literally granted the nymph Salmacis's wish that they never separate.

The god Priapus was a son of Hermes and Aphrodite. In Priapus, Hermes' phallic origins survived. According to other sources, Priapus was a son of Dionysus and Aphrodite

Eros - According to some sources, the mischievous winged god of love Eros, son of Aphrodite, was sired by Hermes, though the gods Ares and Hephaestus were also among those said to be the sire, whereas in the Theogeny, Hesiod claims that Eros was born of nothing before the Gods. Eros' Roman name was Cupid.

Tyche - The goddess of luck, Tyche, or Fortuna, was sometimes said to be the daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite.

Abderus was a son of Hermes who was devoured by the Mares of Diomedes. He had gone to the Mares with his friend Heracles.

Autolycus, the Prince of Thieves, was a son of Hermes and grandfather of Odysseus.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:29 AM)

 

In Greek mythology, virginal Hestia is the goddess of the hearth, of the right ordering of domesticity and the family, who received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household, but had no public cult.

In Roman mythology her more civic approximate equivalent was Vesta, who personified the public hearth, and whose cult round the ever-burning hearth bound Romans together in the form of an extended family.

The similarity of names, apparently, is misleading: "The relationship hestia-histie ­ Vesta cannot be explained in terms of Indo-European linguistics; borrowings from a third language must also be involved," Walter Burkert has written (1985, III.3.1 note 2).

At a very deep level her name means "home and hearth": the household and its inhabitants. "An early form of the temple is the hearth house; the early temples at Dreros and Prinias on Crete are of this type as indeed is the temple of Apollo at Delphi which always had its inner hestia".

It will be recalled that among classical Greeks the altar was always in the open air with no roof but the sky, and that the oracle at Delphi was the fane of the Goddess before it was assumed by Apollo. The Mycenaean great hall, such as the hall of Odysseus at Ithaca was a megaron, with a central hearthfire.

The hearth fire of a Greek or a Roman household was not allowed to go out, unless it was ritually extinguished and ritually renewed, accompanied by impressive rituals of completion, purification and renewal. Compare the rituals and connotations of an eternal flame and of sanctuary lamps.

At the more developed level of the poleis Hestia symbolizes the alliance between the colonies and their mother-cities.

Hestia is one of the three Great Goddesses of the first Olympian generation: Hestia, Demeter and Hera. She is the oldest of the three daughters of Rhea and Cronus, the sisters to three brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Originally listed as one of the Twelve Olympians, Hestia gave up her seat in favour of new-comer Dionysus to tend to the sacred fire on Mt. Olympus.

Her altars included every family hearth.

Immediately after their birth, Cronus swallowed Hestia and her siblings except for the last and youngest, Zeus, who later rescued them and led them in a war against Cronus and the other Titans. Hestia, the eldest daughter "became their youngest child, since she was the first to be devoured by their father and the last to be yielded up again" - the clearest possible example of mythic inversion, a paradox that is noted in the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite (ca 700 BCE):

"She was the first-born child of wily Cronos - and youngest too."

It is also recalled in the hymn that Poseidon, and Apollo of the younger generation, each aspired to Hestia, but the goddess was unmoved by Aphrodite's works and swore to retain her virginity. The Homeric hymns, like all early Greek literature, are concerned to reinforce the supremacy of Zeus, and Hestia's oath is taken upon the head of Zeus, as surety.

A measure of the goddess's ancient primacy - "queenly maid...among all mortal men she is chief of the goddesses", in the words of the Homeric hymn - is that she was owed the first as well as the last sacrifice at every ceremonial assembly of Hellenes, a pious duty related by the mythographers as the gift of Zeus, as if it had been his to bestow: another mythic inversion if, as is likely, the ritual was too deep-seated and essential for the Olympian reordering to overturn.

The "great hall" of Minoan-Mycenaean culture as well as the type of earliest enclosed site built for worship on the Greek mainland is the megaron: the name of the Goddess who was venerated in the Helladic megara is not recorded, but at the center of each holy site laid bare by archaeologists was normally a hearth.

Hestia does not figure in any mythic narrative: she did not roam; she had no adventures; she simply was. The Homeric hymn To Hestia is consequently brief, simply an invocation of five lines, a prelude:

Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise: draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.

In the hymn, Hestia is located, not at Mount Olympus, but in ancient Delphi, which was considered the central hearth of all the Hellenes.

That the mere concept of the violation of Hestia is grotesquely improper is the subtext to the anecdote recounted or invented by Ovid (Fasti, vi.319ff), in which Vesta, attending a banquet offered by Cybele on Mount Ida and overcome with sleep afterwards was once almost raped by Priapus, a lesser fertility god, but was saved by the braying of a donkey.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:32 AM)

 

In Greek mythology, Poseidon was the god of the sea, as well as of horses and, as "Earth-Shaker," of earthquakes. The sea gods Rodon in Illyrian mythology, Nethuns in Etruscan, and Neptune in Roman mythology were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Griffiti show that Poseidon was venerated in Bronze Age Greece but as integrated into the Olympian gods Poseidon is the brother of Zeus and Hades and has many children. the is a Homeric hymn to Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, though he lost the contest for Athens to Athena.

Bronze Age Greece

The name seems to rather transparently stem from Greek pósis "lord, husband" and Indo-European *don "flowing water". If surviving Linear B clay tablets can be trusted, the name PO-SE-DA-WO-NE ("Poseidon") occurs with greater frequency than does DI-U-JA (Zeus). A feminine variant, PO-SE-DE-IA, is also found, indicating a lost consort goddess. Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for "the Two Queens and Poseidon" and to "the Two Queens and the King". The most obvious identification for the "Two Queens" is with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated with Poseidon in later periods.

Poseidon is already identified as "Earth-Shaker" in Mycenaean Knossos, a powerful attribute where earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture. In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenean culture, no connection between Poseidon and the sea has yet surfaced; among the Olympians it was determined by lot that he should rule over the sea (Hesiod, Theogony 456): the god preceded his realm.

Demeter and Poseidon's names are linked in one Pylos tablet, where they appear as PO-SE-DA-WO-NE and DA-referred to by the epithets Enosichthon, Seischthon and Ennosigaios, all meaning "earth-shaker" and referring to his role in causing earthquakes. Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in Athens, he was second only to Athena in importance; while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he was the chief god of the polis. According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the caretakers of the Oracle at Delphi before Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many realms: in colonization, for example, Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle from Delphi, while Poseidon watched over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-sacrifice. Xenophon's Anabasis describes a group of Spartan soldiers singing to Poseidon a paean - a kind of hymn normally sung for Apollo.

Like Dionysus and the Maenads, Poseidon also caused certain forms of mental disturbance. One Hippocratic text says that he was blamed for certain types of epilepsy.

Later Myths

Birth and Triumph over Cronus

Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea. In most accounts, he is swallowed by Cronus at birth. However in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Cronus. He was saved by his mother Rhea, who is said to have fed a baby horse to Cronus, serving the same purpose as the rock in Zeus's case.

In some variants, Poseidon was raised by the Telchines on Rhodes, just as Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete.

When the world was divided in three, Zeus received the sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon the sea.

Given Poseidon's connection with horses as well as the sea, and the landlocked situation of the likely Indo-European homeland, some scholars have proposed that Poseidon was originally an aristocratic horse-god who was then assimilated to Near Eastern aquatic deities when the basis of the Greek livelihood shifted from the land to the sea.In any case, the early all-importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer's Odyssey, where Poseidon rather than Zeus is the major mover of events.

Worship

In the historical period, Poseidon was often referred to by the epithets Enosichthon, Seischthon and Ennosigaios, all meaning "earth-shaker" and referring to his role in causing earthquakes.Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in Athens, he was second only to Athena in importance; while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he was the chief god of the polis.

According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the caretakers of the Oracle at Delphi before Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many realms: in colonization, for example, Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle from Delphi, while Poseidon watched over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-sacrifice. Xenophon's Anabasis describes a groups of Spartan soldiers singing Poseidon a paean - a kind of hymn normally sung for Apollo.

Like Dionysus and the Maenads, Poseidon also caused certain forms of mental disturbance. One Hippocratic text says that he was blamed for certain types of epilepsy.Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice.

In art Poseidon's chariot was pulled by a hippocampus or seahorses. He was associated with dolphins and three-pronged fish spears (tridents). He lived in a palace on the ocean floor, made of coral and gems.

In Rome Neptune was worshipped by the Romans primarily as a horse god, Neptune Equester, patron of horse-racing. He had a temple near the race tracks in Rome (built in 25 BC), the Circus Flaminius, as well as one in the Campus Martius. Only July 23, the Neptunalia was observed at the latter temple.

Mythology

Birth and childhood - Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea. Like his brothers and sisters save Zeus, Poseidon was swallowed by his father. He was regurgitated only after Zeus forced Cronus to vomit up the infants he had eaten. Zeus and his brothers and sisters, along with the Hecatonchires, Gigantes and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. According to other variants, Poseidon was raised by the Telchines on Rhodes, just as Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete.

Other stories

Athena became the patron goddess of the city of Athens after a competition with Poseidon. They agreed that each would give the Athenians one gift and the Athenians would choose whichever gift they preferred.

Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a spring sprung up; the water was salty and not very useful, whereas Athena offered them an olive tree.

The Athenians - or their king, Cecrops - accepted the olive tree and along with it Athena as their patron, for the olive tree brought wood, oil and food. This is thought to remember a clash between the inhabitants during Mycenaean times and newer immigrants.

It is interesting to note that Athens at its height was a significant sea power, at one point defeating the Persian fleet at Salamis Island in a sea battle. Another version of the myth says that Poseidon gave horses to Athens.

Poseidon and Apollo, having offended Zeus, were sent to serve King Laomedon. He had them build huge walls around the city and promised to reward them well, a promise he then refused to fulfill. In vengeance, before the Trojan War, Poseidon sent a sea monster to attack Troy (It was later killed by Heracles).

In the Iliad Poseidon favors the Greeks, and on several occasion takes an active part in the battle against the Trojan forces. However, in Book XX he rescues Aeneas after the Trojan prince is laid low by Achilles.

In the Odyssey, Poseidon is notable for his hatred of Odysseus due to the latter's having blinded the god's son Polyphemus. The enmity of Poseidon prevents Odysseus' return home to Ithaca for many years. Odysseus is even told, notwithstanding his ultimate safe return, that to placate the wrath of Poseidon will require one more voyage on his part.

In the Aeneid, Neptune is still resentful of the wandering Trojans, but is not as vindictive as Juno, and in Book I he rescues the Trojan fleet from the goddess's attempts to wreck it, although his primary motivation for doing this is his annoyance at Juno's having intruded into his domain.

When the world was divided in three, Zeus received the earth and sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon the sea.

Role in Society

Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice. In his benign aspect, Poseidon created new islands and offered calm seas. When offended or ignored, he struck the ground with his trident and caused chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings and shipwrecks.

Depiction in Greek Art

Poseidon's chariot was pulled by a hippocampus or horses that could ride on the sea. He was associated with dolphins and three-pronged fish spears (tridents). He lived in a palace on the ocean floor, made of coral and gems.

Lovers

His wife was Amphitrite, daughter of Nereus and Doris.

Poseidon fell in love with Pelops, a beautiful youth, son of Tantalus. He took Pelops up to Olympus and made him his lover, even before Zeus did the same with Ganymede. To thank Pelops for his love, Poseidon later gave him a winged chariot, to use in the race against Oenomaus for the hand of Hippodamia.

Poseidon once pursued Demeter. She spurned his advances, turning herself into a mare so that she could hide in a flock of horses; he saw through the deception and became a stallion and captured her. Their child was a horse, Arion, which was capable of human speech.

Poseidon had an affair with Alope, his granddaughter through Cercyon, begetting Hippothoon. Cercyon had his daughter buried alive but Poseidon turned her into the spring, Alope, near Eleusis.

Poseidon rescued Amymone from a lecherous satyr and then fathered a child, Nauplius, by her.A mortal woman named Tyro was married to Cretheus (with whom she had one son, Aeson) but loved Enipeus, a river god. She pursued Enipeus, who refused her advances.

One day, Poseidon, filled with lust for Tyro, disguised himself as Enipeus and from their union was born Pelias and Neleus, twin boys.

With Medusa, Poseidon had sexual intercourse on the floor of a temple to Athena. Medusa was changed into a monster.

When she was later beheaded by the hero Perseus, Chrysaor and Pegasus emerged from her neck.

After raping Caeneus, Poseidon fulfilled her request and changed her into a man.

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:35 AM)



Zeus in Greek mythology is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull and the oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical Zeus also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently envisaged by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.

The son of Cronus and Rhea, he was the youngest of his siblings. He was married to Hera in most traditions, although at the oracle of Dodona his consort was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. Accordingly, he is known for his erotic escapades, including one pederastic relationship with Ganymede. His trysts resulted in many famous offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera he is usually said to have sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.

His Roman counterpart was Jupiter, and his Etruscan counterpart was Tinia.

He has always been associated as being a weather god, as his main attribute is the thunderbolt, he controlled thunder, lightning and rain.

Theocritus wrote circa 265 BCE, Sometimes Zeus is clear, sometimes he rains. He is also known to have caused thunderstorms.

In Homer's epic poem the Iliad he sent thunderstorms against his enemies.

His other symbols besides lightning, were the scepter, the eagle and his aegis (the goat-skin of Amaltheia).

Prehistory

Zeus is the continuation of Dyeus, the supreme god in Indo-European religion, also continued as Vedic Dyaus Pitar (Jupiter), and as Tyr (Ziu, Tiw, Tiwaz) in Germanic and Norse mythology. Tyr was however supplanted by Odin as the supreme god among the Germanic tribes and they did not identify Zeus/Jupiter with either Tyr or Odin, but with Thor.

In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical Zeus also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the ancient Near East, such as the scepter.

In art, Zeus was usually portrayed as bearded, middle aged but with a youthful figure. Artists always tried to reproduce the power of Zeus in their work, usually by giving him a pose as he is about to throw his bolt of lightening. There are many statues of Zeus, but without doubt the Artemisium Zeus is the most magnificent.

Birth

Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own son as he had overthrown his own father. But when Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Uranus and Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed.

Childhood

Rhea hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete. According to varying versions of the story:

  He was then raised by Gaia.

  He was raised by a goat named Amalthea, while a company of Kouretes, soldiers, or smaller gods danced, shouted and clapped their hands to make noise so that Cronus would not hear the baby's cry.

  He was raised by a nymph named Adamanthea. Since Cronus ruled over the Earth, the heavens and the sea, she hid him by dangling him on a rope from a tree so he was suspended between earth, sea and sky and thus, invisible to his father.

  He was raised by a nymph named Cynosura. In gratitude, Zeus placed her among the stars after her death.

  He was raised by Melissa, who nursed him with goat-milk

Zeus becomes king of the gods

After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge the other children in reverse order of swallowing: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, then the rest. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open.

Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon in Tartarus (The Titans; he killed their guard, Campe. As gratitude, the Cyclopes gave him thunder and the thunderbolt, or lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia.) Together, Zeus and his brothers and sisters, along with the Gigantes, Hecatonchires and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. The Titans were then cast into a shadowy underworld region known as Tartarus.

After the battle with the Titans, Zeus shared the world with his elder brothers, Poseidon and Hades, by drawing lots: Zeus got the sky and air, Poseidon the waters, and Hades the world of the dead (the underworld). Land was left to all three, each according to their capabilities, which explains why Poseidon was the "earth-shaker" (the god of earthquakes) and Hades claimed the humans that died.

Gaia was upset at the way Zeus had treated the Titans, because they were her children. Soon after taking the throne as king of the gods, Zeus had to fight some of Gaia's other children, the monsters Typhon and Echidna. He vanquished Typhon and trapped him under a mountain, but left Echidna and her children alive as challenges for future heroes.

Lovers

According to legend, Metis, the goddess of prudence, was the first love of Zeus. At first she tried in vain to escape his advances, but in the end succumbed to his endeavor, and from their union Athena was conceived. Gaia warned Zeus that Metis would bear a daughter, whose son would overthrow him. On hearing this Zeus swallowed Metis, the reason for this was to continue to carry the child through to the birth himself. Hera (his wife and sister) was outraged and very jealous of her husband's affair, also of his ability to give birth without female participation. To spite Zeus she gave birth to Hephaestus parthenogenetically (without being fertilized) and it was Hephaestus who, when the time came, split open the head of Zeus, from which Athena emerged fully armed.

Zeus was brother and consort of Hera. The issue of their union was Ares, though Hera produced other offspring of her own: Hephaistos, Eileithyia, Hebe. The conquests of Zeus among nymphs and the mythic mortal progenitors of Hellenic dynasties are famous. Olympian mythography even credits him with unions with Demeter, Latona, Dione and Maia.

Among the mortals: Semele, Io, Europa and Leda. Mythic anecdote renders Hera as jealous of his amorous conquests and a consistent enemy of Zeus' mistresses and their children by him. For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from his affairs by incessantly talking: when Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to repeat the words of others.

Hera bore Zeus - Ares, Hephaestus, Hebe and Eileithyia, but Zeus had numerous liaisons with both goddesses and mortals. He either raped them, or used devious means to seduce the unsuspecting maidens. His union with Leto (meaning the hidden one) brought forth the twins Apollo and Artemis. Once again Hera showed her jealousy by forcing Leto to roam the earth in search of a place to give birth, as Hera had stopped her from gaining shelter on terra-firma or at sea. The only place she could go was to the isle of Delos in the middle of the Aegean, the reason being that Delos was, as legend states, a floating island.

In some of Zeus' human liaisons, he used devious disguises. When he seduced the Spartan queen Leda, he transformed himself into a beautiful swan, and from the egg which Leda produced, two sets of twins were born: Castor and Polydeuces and Clytemnestra and Helen of Troy.

He visited princess Danae as a shower of gold, and from this union the hero Perseus was born. He abducted the Phoenician princess Europa, disguised as a bull, then carried her on his back to the island of Crete where she bore three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. Zeus also took as a lover the Trojan prince Ganymede. He was abducted by an eagle sent by Zeus (some legends believe it was Zeus disguised as an eagle). The prince was taken to Mount Olympus, where he became Zeus' cup-bearer.

Zeus also used his charm and unprecedented power to seduce those he wanted, so when Zeus promised Semele that he would reveal himself in all his splendor, in order to seduce her, the union produced Dionysus, but she was destroyed when Zeus appeared as thunder and lightening.

Themis, the goddess of justice bore the three Horae, goddesses of the seasons to Zeus, and also the three Moirae, known as these Fates. When Zeus had an affair with Mnemosyne, he coupled with her for nine consecutive nights, which produced nine daughters, who became known as the Muses. They entertained their father and the other gods as a celestial choir on Mount Olympus. They became deities of intellectual pursuits.

Also the three Charites or Graces were born from Zeus and Eurynome. From all his children Zeus gave man all he needed to live life in an ordered and moral way.

Role and Epithets

Zeus played a huge role in the Greek Olympic pantheon. He fathered many of the heroes and heroines and was featured in many of their stories.

Though he was the god of the sky and thunder, he was also the most supreme cultural artifact; in some senses, he was the embodiment of Greek religious beliefs and the archetypal Greek deity.

The epithets or titles applied to Zeus emphasized different aspects of his wide-ranging authority:

  • Olympios emphasized Zeus's kingship over both the gods and the Panhellenic festival at Olympia.
  • A related title was Panhellenios, ('Zeus of all the Hellenes') to whom Aeacus' famous temple on Aegina was dedicated.
  • As Xenios, Zeus was the patron of hospitality and guests, ready to avenge any wrong done to a stranger.
  • As Horkios, he was the keeper of oaths. Liars who were exposed were made to dedicate a statue to Zeus, often at the sanctuary of Olympia.
  • As Agoraios, Zeus watched over business at the agora, and punished dishonest traders.

Temples

Zeus had many Temples and festivals in his honor, the most famous of his sanctuaries being Olympia, the magnificent "Temple of Zeus", which held the gold and ivory statue of the enthroned Zeus, sculpted by Phidias and hailed as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World". Also the Olympic Games were held in his honor. The Nemean Games, which were held every two years, were to honor Zeus. There were numerous festivals throughout Greece: in Athens they celebrated the marriage of Zeus and Hera with the Theogamia (or Gamelia). The celebrations were many. In all, Zeus had more than 150 epithets, each one being celebrated in his honor.

Panhellenic cults of Zeus

The major center at which all Greeks converged to pay honor to their chief god was Olympia. The quadrennial festival there featured the famous Games. There was also an altar to Zeus made not of stone, but of ash - from the accumulated remains of many centuries' worth of animal victims immolated there.

Outside of the major inter-polis sanctuaries, there were certain modes of worshipping Zeus that were shared across the Greek world. Most of the above titles, for instance, could be found at any number of Greek temples from Asia Minor to Sicily. Certain modes of ritual were held in common as well: sacrificing a white animal over a raised altar, for instance.

On the other hand, certain cities had Zeus-cults that operated in markedly different ways.

Cretan Zeus

On Crete, Zeus was worshipped at a number of caves at Knossos, Ida and Palaikastro. The stories of Minos and Epimenides suggest that these caves were once used for incubatory divination by kings and priests. The dramatic setting of Plato's Laws is along the pilgrimage-route to one such site, emphasizing Cretan knowledge. On Crete, Zeus was represented in art as a long-haired youth rather than a mature adult, and hymned as ho megas kouros "the great youth". With the Kouretes, a band of ecstatic armed dancers, he presided over the rigorous military-athletic training and secret rites of the Cretan paideia.

The Hellenistic writer Euhemerus apparently proposed a theory that Zeus had actually been a great king of Crete and that posthumously his glory had slowly turned him into a deity. The works of Euhemerism have not survived, but Christian patristic writers took up the suggestion with enthusiasm.

Zeus Lykaios in Arcadia

The title Lykaios is morphologically connected to lyke "brightness", and yet it looks a lot like lykos "wolf". This semantic ambiguity is reflected in the strange cult of Zeus Lykaios in the backwoods of Arcadia, where the god takes on both lucent and lupine features. On the one hand, he presides over Mt Lykaion ("the bright mountain") the tallest peak in Arcadia, and home to a precinct in which, allegedly, no shadows were ever cast (Pausanias 8.38).

On the other hand, he is connected with Lycaon ("the wolf-man") whose ancient cannibalism was commemorated with bizarre, recurring rites. According to Plato (Republic 565d-e), a particular clan would gather on the mountain to make a sacrifice every eight years to Zeus Lykaios, and a single morsel of human entrails would be intermingled with the animal's. Whoever ate the human flesh was said to turn into a wolf, and could only regain human form if he did not eat again of human flesh until the next eight-year cycle had ended.

Subterranean Zeus

Although etymology indicates that Zeus was originally a sky god, many Greek cities honored Zeuses who lived underground. Athenians and Sicilians honored Zeus Meilichios ("kindly" or "honeyed") while other cities had Zeus Chthonios ("earthy"), Katachthonios ("under-the-earth) and Plousios ("wealth-bringing"). These deities might be represented indifferently as snakes or men in visual art. They also received offerings of black animal victims sacrificed into sunken pits, as did chthonic deities like Persephone and Demeter, and also the heroes at their tombs. Olympian gods, by contrast, usually received white victims sacrificed upon raised altars.

In some cases, cities were not entirely sure whether the daimon to whom they sacrificed was a hero or an underground Zeus. Thus the shrine at Lebadaea in Boeotia might belong to the hero Trophonius or to Zeus Trephonius ("the nurturing"), depending on whether you believe Pausanias or Strabo. The hero Amphiaraus was honored as Zeus Amphiaraus at Oropus outside of Thebes, and the Spartans even had a shrine to Zeus Agamemnon.

Oracles of Zeus

Although most oracle sites were usually dedicated to Apollo, the heroes, or various or goddesses like Themis, a few oracular sites were dedicated to Zeus.

The Oracle at Dodona

The cult of Zeus at Dodona in Epirus, where there is evidence of religious activity from the 2nd millennium BC onward, centered around a sacred oak. When the Odyssey was composed (circa 750 BC), divination was done there by barefoot priests called Selloi, who lay on the ground and observed the rustling of the leaves and branches (Od. 14.326-7). By the time Herodotus wrote about Dodona, female priestesses called peleiades ("doves") had replaced the male priests.

Zeus' wife at Dodona was not Hera, but the goddess Dione - whose name is a feminine form of "Zeus". Her status as a titaness suggests to some that she may have been a more powerful pre-Hellenic deity, and perhaps the original occupant of the oracle.

The Oracle at Siwa

The oracle of Ammon at the oasis of Siwa in Egypt did not lie within the bounds of the Greek world before Alexander's day, but it already loomed large in the Greek mind during the archaic era: Herodotus mentions consultations with Zeus Ammon in his account of the Persian War. Zeus Ammon was especially favored at Sparta, where a temple to him existed by the time of the Peloponnesian War (Pausanias 3.18).

Other oracles of Zeus - The chthonic Zeuses (or heroes) Trophonius and Amphiaraus were both said to give oracles at the cult-sites.

Zeus and foreign gods

Zeus was equivalent to the Roman god Jupiter (from Jovis Pater or "Father Jove") and associated in the syncretic classical imagination with various other deities, such as the Egyptian Ammon and the Etruscan Tinia. He (along with Dionysus) absorbed the role of the chief Phrygian god Sabazios in the syncretic deity known in Rome as Sabazius.

Zeus in Neopaganism

Far from the role Zeus held in Ancient Mythology, modern Neopagans typically view Zeus as a governing figurehead and little more. Most neopagans reject ancient myths about Zeus. Zeus has relatively few worshippers in modern neopaganism, and (unlike his roles in Mythology) is seen as a god of governance and authority.

Though many see Zeus as the King or Figurehead as ruler over the Olympians, they often consider him of lesser importance than the Gaia and other popular Titan gods who are not believed to be bound to Tartarus.

The power and influence of Zeus is thought to pale in importance to Hades and other gods more directly related to the afterlife. It is thought by many Neopagans, for example, that Hades holds far greater power than Zeus, and that his decisions and authority, particularly over the fate of mortals, often overshadows Zeus. Those sects that do include worship of Zeus often do so in passing, including him with other gods simply because of his relation in mythology.

There is little relevance between actual mythology and modern perceptions of Zeus by most Neopagans. It could be argued that, by and large, modern Neopagan perceptions of Zeus are New Age and not founded in any actual history or mythology. Worship of Zeus sometimes includes the burning of oils, or more often a passing utterance of him as an authority of Olympus or husband of Hera (a more popular deity in modern neopaganism).

 

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RE:Lesson 21 The Olympians
(Date Posted:07/05/2009 05:48 AM)

OLYMPIANS

Official Name: Olympians
Nicknames: Greek gods, Roman gods, Gods of the Graeco-Roman Empire, Olympian Gods, Gods of Olympus, et al.
Former Aliases: No known former aliases
Other Current Aliases: No other known current aliases

==Origin==

Dimension of Origin: Olympus
Habitat: Earth-like
Gravity: Earth-like
Atmosphere: Earth-like
Population: 200-300 range (estimated)

Other Associated Dimensions: Olympus has also been tenuously liked with the underworld known as Tartarus, often spoken of existed underground on earth but these were actually the routes to various inter-dimensional access point between these worlds. Tartarus was the location where enemies of the Olympian gods were often imprisoned, but one section was set aside for procuring the shades and apparitions of the worshippers of the Olympian gods. The honored dead were sent to the Elysian Fields while those shades who could not be adequately judged had to wander the Asphodel Fields. The spirits of the dead were usually escorted by Thanatos, the god of the dead, or by Hermes, the messenger-god to the shore of the Styx where they were ferried across by Charon. The gates of Hades were guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed dog of the underworld.

==History==

History: The Gods of Olympus are a race of superhumanly powerful humanoid beings who were once worshipped by the ancient Greeks and Romans from about 2000 BC to 500 AD. They have very few worshippers today, but their names and attributes have been connected to numerous aspects and objects in Western Civilization. The Olympians dwell in Olympus, a small "pocket" dimension adjacent to Earth; an interdimensional nexus between Olympus and Earth exists somewhere on Mount Olympus in Greece. The Olympians' human worshippers in ancient Rome called these gods by different names than those by which the gods were known in ancient Greece: for example, the Greeks called the king of the gods Zeus, whereas the Romans called him Jupiter or Jove. The Olympian gods, except for Poseidon, patron deity of the Atlanteans, no longer have or actively seek worshippers on Earth. However, certain Olympian gods, notably Hercules and Aphrodite, still take active interest in the welfare of humanity. Many of the Olympian gods have influenced or taken minor parts in historical events from behind mortal facades in order to guide mortals to their fullest potential.

The precise origin of the Olympian gods, like that of all of Earth's pantheons of gods, is shrouded in legend. According to ancient myths, the primeval Earth goddess Gaea is the progenitor of the principal Olympian gods. However, it is unclear whether the Olympian race originated on Earth, Olympus, or in another dimension linked to Olympus. According to ancient myths, Gaea gave birth to the sky god Ouranus. Gaea mated with Ouranus and bore him the first generation of the Olympian race, known as the Titans. The Titans had been revered as gods in the land that would be modern Greece following the end of the Hyborian Age. One of the Titans, Cronus, rose to power when he fatally wounded Ouranus. The dying Ouranus prophesied that Cronus would likewise be overthrown by one of his own children. As a result, upon the birth of each of Cronus's children, Cronus had the infant imprisoned in Tartarus, the most dismal section of the Olympian underworld known as Hades. Appalled at the mistreatment of their children, Cronus's wife, Rhea, a Titaness, concealed her sixth pregnancy from him and secretly gave birth to Zeus near Mount Ida on the island of Crete where he was protected by a number of goddesses. Zeus grew to hood among the human shepherds of Crete. Upon realizing his godhood, he set his siblings – Hestia, Hades, Poseidon, Hera and Demeter, now all grown to hood - free from Tartarus. Zeus and his allies fought a ten year war with the Titans which ended with Zeus's victory. He imprisoned most of the male Titans in Tartarus and established himself in Olympus as supreme ruler of the Olympian race.

Zeus married the goddess Hera, but he engaged in many affairs with goddesses and mortal Earth women. Some of his children were gods. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, and Hestia, together with Zeus's children Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Hephaestus and Hermes, comprised the membership of the high council of the Olympian gods, known as the Pantheon. Hestia later resigned her seat in the council in favor of Zeus's son Dionysus. Zeus's brother, Hades was not a member of the Pantheon, preferring to spend virtually all of his time within the underworld of Hades, which he ruled. After the defeat of the Titans, the Olympians were revered as gods on Earth, and several of them even sought worship rites from mortals. Poseidon became the patron god of the water-breathing Atlanteans, while Zeus sought dominion and custodianship over the people of Ancient Greece and the domains conquered by the Greeks through Western Europe and Northern Africa.

Mount Olympus lay near Olympia, the principal city of the Eternals. Zeus and his daughter Athena met with Zuras, the leader of the Eternals, and his daughter Azura. Noticing the physical resemblance between Zeus and Zuras and between Azura and herself, Athena suggested that the Olympian gods and the Eternals form an alliance in which the Eternals would act as the gods' representatives on Earth. The other three enthusiastically agreed, and Azura took her current name of Thena to signify the sealing of the pact. However, over the years, many humans came tot think of many Eternals not as the gods' representatives but as the gods themselves. This led to a growing resentment by the gods towards the Eternals, which recently erupted into war, but today they are again at peace. Worship of the Olympian gods spread from Greece to Rome, and throughout the Roman Empire.

Gradually, Christianity replaced the worship of the Olympian gods in the Roman Empire, and Zeus decided that the time had come for the Olympians to sever most of their ties with Earth. Most of the Olympians abided by his choice. Poseidon, however, was still allowed to watch over his Atlantean worshippers. Nevertheless, Zeus still retains an affection for and interest in the people of Earth. Several of Zeus's children, specifically Hercules and Aphrodite, have spent periods living among Earth mortals in recent years.

Until recent years, the vast majority of the Olympians have had little contact with humans, apart from encounters with various members of the Avengers. This is primarily due to them being allies and friends of Zeus' son, Hercules.

The Olympians have maintained close ties with certain other gods and pantheons over the centuries. This holds especially true for the Asgardian gods, who are the closest allies of the Olympians. Recently, the Olympians defeated the forces of Mikaboshi, the Japanese god of evil, in a conflict that has lasted for many years between the Japanese gods. However, in the face of the seeming demise of the Asgardians, Zeus created the Olympian Corporation, a philanthropic association, on Earth in order to help the gods reconnect with mortals on earth from behind more human facades.

Relationships to Other Pantheons: The Olympian gods have had good relations with both the Asgardian gods and the Ennead (Egyptian Gods), with whom Alexander the Great compared to when he declared Zeus the equal of Ammon-Ra, Ruler of the Egyptian gods. They have had fair relations with the Devas (Hindu Gods) after the Battle of Marathon; the Romans even honored several of the gods of the East, such as Mithras and Ormazd. There has been some antagonism with the Anunnaki or Mesopotamian gods since the Roman occupation of Canaan and with the Danaans (Celtic) since the Roman invasions of Britain. Since the demise of the Roman Empire, Zeus has made contact with several of the pantheons of earth beyond the Greek and Roman environs through the Council Elite.

==Characteristics==

Body Type: Humanoid
Avg Height: 6' 0"
Avg Weight: 450 lbs
Eyes: Two
Hair: Normal
Skin: Normal
Limbs: Two
Fingers: Five with opposable thumb
Toes: Five
Special Adaptations: The Olympian gods are immortal and cease to age upon reaching hood. They are physically more durable than human beings; their skin, bone and tissue being three times more durable and dense than similar tissue in human beings.

==Powers==

The Olympian gods all possess certain superhuman physical attributes:

Superhuman Strength: The Olympian gods are superhumanly strong with the average Olympian god able to lift (press) about 30 tons under optimal conditions, and the average Olympian goddess able to lift (press) about 25 tons under optimal conditions.

Superhuman Speed: The Olympian gods have the potential of being able to run and move at speeds much greater than the finest human athlete. Only Hermes, Iris and a few others can supersede the majority of the Olympian gods.

Superhuman Stamina: The musculature of the Olympian gods produce considerably less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the muscles of human beings. The average Olympian god can exert themselves at peak capacity for about 24 hours before fatigue impairs them. Hercules, Zeus and Poseidon are physically stronger than most of the Olympian gods.

Superhumanly Dense Tissue: The skin, muscle, and bone tissues of the Olympian gods are about three times as dense as the same tissue of a human body, contributing to their superhuman strength and weight.

Superhuman Durability: The bodies of the Olympian gods are considerably more resistant to physical injury than the bodies of humans. The Olympian gods are capable of withstanding great impact forces and exposure to temperature and pressure extremes without sustaining physical injury.

Regenerative Healing Factor: Despite their natural durability, it is possible for any of the Olympian gods to sustain injury. However, if injured, their highly advanced metabolism enables them to recover with superhuman levels of speed and efficiency. As with most of their other powers, the speed and extent of these powers varies from one Olympian god to another.

Immortality: The Olympian gods are functionally immortal and immune to the effects of aging. They haven't aged since reaching hood. Their bodies are also immune to all known Earthly diseases and infection.

Energy Manipulation: The Olympian gods have some potential to manipulate magical or cosmic energies for some purpose. These powers are mostly limited to changing their appearance or shape, and teleporting across great distances. However, a small minority of the Olympians are capable of manipulating vast amounts of energy for a variety of purposes including teleportation, shapeshifting, matter manipulation, augmentation of their physical capabilities, erecting powerful force fields, firing powerful blasts of energy for destructive purposes and granting augmented attributes to objects and beings.

Known Abilities: The Olympian gods possess specific skills associated with their area of expertise. For example, as the  Olympian god of war, Ares is a formidable combatant with extensive knowledge of both armed and unarmed combat, whereas Aphrodite, the Olympian goddess of love, is highly skilled in all forms of physical and ual pleasure. Most Olympians have had some degree of training in armed and unarmed combat, particularly with swords and the bow and arrow..

==Miscellaneous==

Type of Government: Monarchy
Level of Technology: Magic
Cultural Traits: The Olympians were worshipped as gods by the people of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, which once included much of the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Balkans, British isles and even parts of Gaul.

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