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Book of Shadows
Children's Circle

Greek/ Roman Gods and Goddesses

ACHELOOS-A somewhat minor river-god in Greek myth, he was said to have fathered the Sirens (also hence called Acheloides), with one of the Muses being the mother.

ACHELOIDES-Also (and more widely) known as the Sirens , these were the daughters of the Greek river-god Acheloos , and were said to lure sailors to their deaths by virtue of their powerful, unearthly, entrancing singing.

ACHERON-One of the four rivers that ran through the underworld of Hades , in Greek mythology, Acheron was also called the "River of eternal woe."

ACHILLES-Son of Peleus , a mortal, and Thetis , a sea nymph , Achilles' mother was given a choice by the gods (Greek) as to how his life should be:short but glorious, or long but obscure. Fearing for her son's safety, Thetis chose the latter, and to this end bargained with the gods to protect her son from harm. This they granted, by advising the nymph to immerse the child in the waters of the Styx , which would immunise him from all harm. This Achilles' mother did, but having to hold on to her son by the ankle, that he would not be dragged away by the current, this part of the boy did not receive the protection of the gods, and indeed was to prove the death of Achilles. Fearing further for the boy's safety, Thetis disguised Achilles as a girl, and sent him to the court of King Lykomedes , on the island of Skyros. There he was brought up as a girl, among the king's daughters, falling in love with one of them, Deidamia, who bore him a son, Neoptolemos , who later fought in the war against Troy .However, another Greek hero, Odysseus , was sent to Skyros, his mission to locate Achilles and enlist him in the coming Trojan War. Gaining admittance to the court of King Lykomedes under a false pretext, Odysseus recognised Achilles, and ordered a magnificent suit of armour to be brought before the boy. Seeing the breathtaking splendour of the suit, Achilles' head was turned, and he yielded to the call to arms that Odysseus sounded on his battle-horn. The boy offered his services to the war, and was enlisted, as had been Odysseus' intention in the first place.
On the way to Troy, the Greek party mistakenly landed in Mysia, which was ruled by Telephos , a son of Hercules . Telephos fought the invasion of his country, and in the battle was wounded by Achilles' spear. Now Achilles had studied healing and medicine under the Centaur Cheiron , and this knowledge had stood him in good stead when he had had to heal a wound that his friend Patroklos suffered. Telephos found that his wound would not heal, and on consulting an oracle, was advised that it would only be healed by he who had caused it.With the Greek fleet beached at Aulis, Telephos made his way there, where he presented himself to King Agamemnon , in disguise. He then abducted Agamemnon's infant son, Orestes , and threatened to kill the child if his wound were not seen to. Thereupon Odysseus scraped some of the rust from the spear of Achilles, applied it to the wound, which then healed. Delighted with the results, Telephos offered to lead the Greeks to Troy, which was in fulfillment of another oracle.
Achilles then went on to distinguish himself in the long and hard-fought Trojan War, leading the Greeks to the brink of victory, and fulfilling the fate laid out for him by the gods, his mother's choice of which he had himself superseded, once having given in to the call of the warrior, there in Lykomedes' court. In the course of the Trojan War, Achilles gained great fame and respect, killing the Hero of Troy, Hector , as well as the Amazon Pentheselia , before finally being killed himself by Paris , instigator of the Trojan War by his stealing of the beautiful Helen from her husband Menalaus .

ADONIS-A simple shepherd, Adonis gained partial immortality due to the intervention of Aphrodite , Greek goddess of love, who, on witnessing the young shepherd's death by a wild boar, would not allow the gods to take the lifeless body from her arms until they had agreed that Adonis should continue to live half of the year on Earth, during spring and summer, while the winter and autumn months should be spent in the kingdom of the dead, Hades , where she might spend the time with him, beside Persephone , Queen of the Dead, and wife to Hades, king of the Underworld.

ADRASTEA-One of the nymphs who tended the newborn Zeus , on Mount Ida, after his father, Kronos , had tried to devour the child, to try to thwart a prophecy Kronos had heard, that he would be dethroned by his youngest born child.

AEAKOS-One of the three heroes who assisted Hades and Persephone in the Underworld in judging the souls of the dead. Aeakos, along with his two compatriots, had distinguished his life previously by his great sense of wisdom and justice, and it was he who held the keys to the lower region of Hades, being the gatekeeper of that region.

AEETES-Ruler of Kolchis, it was he who possessed the Golden Fleece , in search of which Jason and the Argonauts sailed. He set the adventurers many difficult tasks, before finally conceding defeat and allowing the Fleece to be taken.

AEGEUS-King of Crete, Aegeus married the witch Medea , whose son by Aethra banished her from Aegeus' court after she had tried to poison Theseus . Aegeus met his death when, on observing the return of his son's ship, he noted that the expected white sail was not flying, and thinking Theseus dead, he threw himself off the rocks, to his own death.

AEGIPANES-Minor, inferior forest deities, subjects of the goat god, Pan , they were represented, like Pan himself, as having cloven, goat's feet. They were also known as Paniski.

AEGLE-One of the three sisters of Phaeton , son of the sun god Helios , who, after receiving his father's permission to drive the chariot of the sun for a day, and losing control of it, was slain by Zeus . Aegle, with both her sisters, wept for so long at the demise of their brother that they all became transformed into larch trees, which overhang the banks of the rivers, their tears, constantly flowing, being changed by Zeus into amber.

AELLO-One of the three Harpies , daughters of the storm giant Thaumas and the nymph Elektra . Aello, like her two sisters, had the head of a woman, with the body and wings of a bird.

AENEAS-Son of Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite , Aeneas took part in the Trojan war , distinguishing himself in that conflict. He accompanied Paris on the latter's mission to abduct Helen from Troy. He also descended to the Underworld, accompanied by the Sibyl. There he encountered the woman who had loved him in the upper world, but whom he had had to leave, Dido . When he tried to speak to her, she turned away in silence. Aeneas met his father, Anchises, in Hades too, and he revealed to his son the future glories of Rome. Aeneas was one of the few people who escaped the sack of Troy.

AEOLOS-A minor deity of the winds, Aeolos was the son of a king called Hippotes, and lived on one of the rocky Lipara islands, close to Sicily. In the caves on this island were imprisoned the winds, and Aeolos, directed by the higher gods, let out these winds as soft breezes, gales, or whatever the higher gods wished.Being visited by the Greek hero Odysseus , Aeolos received him favourably, and on the hero's departure presented Odysseus with a bag containing all the adverse winds, so that his friend might reach Ithaca with a fair wind. Odysseus did as Aeolos bid, but in sight of his homeland, having been untroubled by foul weather, he fell asleep and his men, curious, opened the bag, thus releasing all the fierce winds, which blew their ship far off course.

AESON-Father of the famous Greek hero Jason , Aeson was the rightful king of Iolkos in Thessaly. His own father was Aeolos , King of the Winds, and himself a minor deity.

AETHER-One of the sons of Nyx, daughter of Chaos, and Erebos , lord of darkness, Aether can, as his name suggests, be looked on more as an elemental of the pure air, rather than an actual god.

AETHON-A personification, in the world of ancient Greece, of famine.

AGAMEMNON-Brother to Menelaus , Agamemnon was king of Sparta.

AGANIPPE-One of the Muses , who were said to be nymphs of the streams that ran down the sides of Mount Helikon and Parnassos.

AGATHODAEMON-Considered the "good demon" in Greek life, as to every person was assigned at birth a demon, unmixed wine was usually poured out during mealtimes, as an offering to the Agathodaemon

AGENOS-One of the two sons borne by Libya to the sea god, Poseidon

AGNI-The Hindu god of fire, one of the more powerful gods of the East, Agni is said to have been created by the rubbing together of sticks, from which he burst forth like the wind. He is described as extremely powerful, as one would expect from he who is lord of the invincible fire. He is depicted as red of skin, with two faces and seven tongues, to lick up the butter used in sacrifices. It is said that once, having exhausted his strength by consuming too many oblations, Agni, together with Krishna and Arjuna , and in defiance of Indra , consumed the Khandava forest.

AGROTORA-Another name for the Greek goddess Artemis , under which title she was regarded as the patron goddess of hunters.

AJAX-Son of Telamon , Ajax was, with Achilles , the leader of the Greeks during the initial years of the Trojan War . After the death of Achilles, the hero's body was borne back to the Greek camp by Ajax and Odysseus . Thereafter, Achilles' wonderful armour was awarded to Odysseus. Ajax, believing that his neglect had caused---or at least contributed to---the death of his friend, went mad, and fell on his own sword, committing suicide.

AKRISIOS-One of two sons of Hypermnestra and Lynkeus , Akrisios and his brother Proetos were fierce rivals from an early age;they did, in fact, hate each other, so much so that, when they were both grown, Proetos fled to Lycia, while Akrisios stayed in Argos. However, having no heir to the throne bothered him, and he consulted the famous and wise Oracle of Delphi prophesised that he would have a daughter, who would bear him a son who in turn would slay his grandfather, and rule in his stead.This daughter, Danae , was imprisoned by Akrisios in an underground chamber, in an effort to stay the prophecy, but Zeus found his way to her as a golden shower, she became pregnant and bore a son, who was called Perseus. Incensed at this thwarting of his plan, and afraid that what the Oracle had prophesised was about to come to pass, he summoned Danae to the altar of Zeus, there to explain herself. Disbelieving her story, Akrisios had Danae and the newborn Perseus locked in a box, and this box then thrown into the sea. The box, however, was rescued, though these events are summed up more fully in the entry on Perseus himself.Having gone through various adventures, Perseus went in search of his father, and found he had left Argos, fearful of the fulfillment of the prophecy. He found him at Larisa, in Thessaly, there with the king of that land, who was engaged in public games in honour of his deceased father. Fulfilling the prophecy, Perseus threw a discus which landed on Akrisios' foot, killing him.

AKTAEE-One of the Nereides , nymphs of the sea;Aktaee represented the imperious rush of billows on island shores, together with her sister, Nesaie

. AKTAEON-A huntsman who had witnessed the goddess Artemis bathing, and as a punishment was transformed into a stag, and devoured by his own hounds

. ALEKTO-One of the Furies , the one known as "the unwearied persecutor".

ALKAEOS-One of the two sons of Perseus and Andromeda .

ALKESTIS-Wife of Admetos , king of Pherae, she was willing to lay down her life for her husband, offering herself to Death in exchange for Admetos' life. However, Hercules saved her by holding Death in a stranglehold until he promised to let Alkestis return to her husband

. ALKIPPE-A daughter of Ares , Alkippe loved Halirrhotios , a son of Poseidon , and was slain by the war god, necessitating the convening of the Areopagus , the court that sat in judgement on gods.

ALKMENE-The mother of Hercules , she was a daughter of Elektryon , one of the two sons of Perseus and Andromeda , and her husband, Amphitryon , was a son of the other, Alkaeos .

ALKYONEUS-The finest warrior of the race of Giants, neither Athene nor great Zeus himself could best him in combat. This was because the Giants' mother Earth had made them proof against all of the weapons of the gods. However, they were susceptible to the weapons of mortals, and it was Hercules , called forth by Athene, who slew Alkyoneus with his arrows.

ALOEUS-Father of the Giants Otos and Ephialtes , who imprisoned Ares in a large brazen vase for thirteen months. Aloeus was known as 'the planter'

. ALPHEIOS-A minor river god, who became smitten with the nymph Arethusa , and chased her until she finally eluded him by appealing to Artemis , who caused the stream she represented to flow underground.

ALSEIDS-See Dryads

AMALTHEA-The goat which provided the infant Zeus with milk, while the nymphs took care of him on Mount Ida.

AMARYNTHIA-See Artemis .

AMMON-An oracle at Lybia, to which the king Cepheus turned.His wife, Cassipoeia had dared to compare herself to the Nereides and thus called down a curse on her land of Aethiopia, sent by Poseidon , consisting of floods and a giant monster called the Kraken , which terrorised the land. Cepheus, seeking an end to this plague, was told by the oracle that he would have to offer his daughter, Andromeda , to the Kraken.

AMORETTES-Tiny winged children that surrounded Aphrodite , in classical painting and sculpture.

AMPHIARAOS-One of the 'Seven against Thebes', the seven heroes who sailed to Thebes, intent on reclaiming the throne from Eteokles .

AMPHION-Twin brother to Zethos , Amphion was blessed with a deep, romantic character, which he used to full effect in playing the lyre that Hermes had given him. Unlike his brother, Amphion disdained the rougher life of the hunter and warrior, preferring instead to accomplish by music whatever Zethos did by force. Like Orpheus , his music had great power, and during the building of the walls of Thebes, Amphion's music easily moved rocks that his brother would strain trying to budge by physical means.

AMPHITRITE-Goddess of the sea, Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon , and had the care of the creatures of the sea. She could control the great waves, making them swamp ships or carry men to safety. She was the daughter of Okeanos and Tethys , and was usually represented with flowing hair and the toes of a crab protruding from her temples, sometimes seated on the back of one of the creatures of the deep---a triton, perhaps.

AMPHITRYON-Husband to Alkmene , mother of Hercules , Amphitryon was the son of Alkaeos , one of the two sons of Perseus and Andromeda .

AMYKOS-The king of Scutari, Amykos was famed as a boxer, and as a cruel man who challenged all who passed through his kingdom to a boxing match. He overstepped his mark however, when he challenged Pollux , one of the Argonauts!

AMYMONE-A beautiful Greek girl whom Poseidon came across in Lerna in Argos, weeping because she could not get the water that her father had sent her to obtain. Poseidon, struck by her beauty, struck the earth with his trident, and water gushed forth.

ANADYOMENE-See Aphrodite .

ANCHISES-A son of Aphrodite , Anchises was father to Aenas , and distinguished himself during the Trojan War , being one of the few people who escaped after the sack of the city.

ANCILE-The sacred shield of Mars, the Roman equivalent of Ares ;Ancile was said to have fallen from Heaven, and was looked on by the Romans as an object of great reverence and luck. Roman soldiers, going into battle, would visit the temple of Mars and swing the shield, imploring the god to protect them in the coming conflict.

ANDROGEOS-The son of King Minos of Crete, who was murdered by King Aegus of Attica. As a punishment, Minos decreed that the people of Attica would send, every year, seven maidens and seven strong youths, to be offered as sacrifice to the monster, the Minotaur , in reparation for the murder of his son.

ANDROMACHE-Wife to the Hero of Troy (on the Trojan side), Hector .

ANDROMEDA-Daughter to Cepheus and Cassiopeia , rulers of Aethiopia, Andromeda was chained to a rock on the seashore as an offering to the monster, the Kraken , which had been terrorising the land. She was rescued by Perseus , who later married her.

ANKAEOSA-Greek hero who joined with Jason in the hunting of the Caledonian Boar.

.ANTAEOS-A fierce Giant who lived in Cyrene, on the coast of North Africa. Hercules bested him in a wrestling match, despite the power given the Giant by his mother Earth.

ANTEIA-See Stheneboea .

ANTIGONE-Daughter of Oedipus and Jokaste , she was unaware of her bastardic origins until she and her sister and two brothers consulted an oracle, on a different matter. The siblings reacted differently, Antigone being the only one who stayed with her father, after Oedipus had put out his own eyes, and wandered the land. When he finally died, in Attica, Antigone returned to Thebes, to whose throne Kreon, her uncle, succeeded after the two brothers Eteokles and Polyneikes killed each other in combat. Although Kreon had the body of Eteokles buried with great ceremony and reverence, he refused to allow the same be done for that of Polyneikes, forbidding any to try, on pain of death. Antigone, unable to bear the knowledge that her brother's shade would know no rest, buried the body secretly, but was discovered and was sentenced to be buried alive. Sealed in a subterranean chamber, she hanged herself, to end it quickly.

ANTIOPE-Daughter of Thebe and Nykteus , Antiope bore two sons, the divergent Zethos and Amphion . Having been approached by Zeus in the form of a satyr , she was driven from her house, and found refuge with Epopeus , the king of Sikyon. She remained here awhile, despite the protestations and demands of her father, but was eventually surrendered to his brother, Lykos . Travelling back with him, she gave birth to the aforementioned twins on the way, the boys entrusted to a herdsman to be brought up. She herself was carried off to the court of Thebes, where she was subjected to relentless cruelty by Lykos' wife, Dirke .
After years of this persecution, Antiope fled to Mount Cithaeron, where her two boys had been entrusted to the care of the herdsman. She met the two there, but did not recognise them. However, she was recognised by Dirke, who had arrived at Mount Cithaeron on some cermonial task. Dirke ordered the two herdsmen (Amphion and Zethos) to bind their mother to the horns of a wild bull, that it might tear her apart. The two boys were about to carry out the order when the old herdsman recognised Antiope, and revealed her as the mother of the twins. Incensed, Zethos and Amphion tied Dirke to the bull, where she met her death.When Antiope, now reunited with her lost sons, returned to Thebes, Lykos abdicated in favour of the twins

AOEDTE-One of the Muses .

APELIOTES-Greek god of the south-east wind, Apeliotes was depicted as wearing boots, and he carried all kinds of fruit with him.

APHRODITE-The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite epitomised all that was beautiful and pure in woman. Daughter of Zeus and Dione , she bore a son, Eros , and was always accompanied by the Charites , the Horae , Himeros , Pothos and Peitho . She rescued the young shepherd Adonis , struck by his beauty, making the gods promise to allow the youth to live on the Earth for half of each year, spending the remainder in Hades , where she could visit him.Aphrodite married Hephaestos (Vulcan) who, after being told by Helios of his wife's amorous liaisons with Ares , caught both of the perpetrators in a cunning net of his own design, and brought them before Zeus, demanding punishment. Though Aphrodite could be kind and loving to those who found favour with her, she could be just as merciless with those who displeased her, as is illustrated in the list of people she destroyed:Hippolytos , whom she killed; Polyphonte , whom she changed into an owl;Arsinoe , whom she turned to stone;and Myrrha , whom she transformed into a myrtle tree.Like most beautiful women, Aphrodite hated to be outshone, and this vanity led to a contest between herself, Athene and Hera , wife of Zeus himself. How this contest came about was due to the goddess of strife, Eris . She, not being invited to the wedding of Thetis and Peleus , grew angry and threw a golden apple on the floor, labelled "to the most beautiful". Naturally, all three goddesses tried to claim the apple, and Zeus referred them to the shepherd Paris (who was later to gain infamy as the abductor of Helen of Troy , and so set in motion the events that would lead to the Trojan War ).Paris, daunted at such a task, demurred, but was eventually convinced by each of the goddesses in turn, who offered him the throne of Asia (Hera), immortal fame as a hero (Athene), and the most beautiful wife in the world (Aphrodite). He finally found in favour of the goddess of love, and in so deciding made bitter enemies of Hera and Athene, which was to have dire consequences for he and his country.Aphrodite's sigils were the dove, ram, hare, dolphin, swan and tortoise. Her flower was the rose, and she was also associated with the myrtle tree, various beautiful plants, the apple and other fruits.

APOLLO-Born as a son to Zeus and Leto , Apollo was the twin brother of Artemis , and his mother spent some time on the run from Hera , Zeus' jealous wife. She finally found shelter on the island of Delos, in the Aegan Sea, and there delivered her child. A golden burst of light showered the island on the birth of Apollo, and seven swans circled it. But Leto, still running from Hera, had to entrust her newborn children to Themis , who brought them up on ambrosia and nectar, with the result that Apollo attained manhood in only a few hours, and escaped from Themis, declaring his destiny was to become a bowman, a player of the lyre, and a supplier of truthful oracles to mankind. Though his true name was Phoebus-Apollo, he has become known down through the ages as merely Apollo. He was the god of light, the god of music and song, and he who watched over shepherds, goatherds and other herdsmen. So protective was he of animals that he is represented as herding the cattle of Laomedon, which multiplied greatly under his care. Apollo was the friendly god, the god of earthly blessings, his very arrows the rays of the sun that warm and nurture the land and those on it;he was the personification of youth and beauty;he was the god of medicine, who provided for the growth of healing plants;the god of music, whose power could soothe the beasts of the field, and finally he is the god of oracles, who could reveal what the future holds for his children.
However, there was a darker side to Apollo's nature. As a child of the sun, it was he who controlled the weather that affected the world, and as such, any plagues, droughts or famines had to be ascribed to him. For this reason he is often looked on as a god of death, going under the name Carneios. In this character he also appeared under the apellation Hyacinthios, due to his inadvertent killing of the youth Hyacinthos , when throwing his disc at the annual games. It is also said that Zephyros , god of winds, jealous of Apollo's attraction to the boy, blew the god's disc back towards Hyacinthos, causing it to sever the youth's head.In vengeance, too, did Apollo, along with Artemis, destroy the children of Leto, Niobe's daughter, in response to the mother's claim that Leto's children rivalled even the beauty of the two gods. Apollo shot the boys with his arrows, while Artemis slew the girls. But when the last child was to die, Niobe begged the deities to spare her youngest daughter. Apollo and Artemis, however, refused, and the shaft pierced the mother's heart, which became as stone, and she was transformed into a rugged rock.Apollo exercised his power and anger, too, in the Trojan War when, fighting against the Greeks, he levelled heavy losses on the attackers of his city. Apollo was supposed to have travelled in a chariot drawn by swans, in which he would retire to the mythical land of Hyperborea during winter, returning when the spring arrived. He also had a mitra, or cap, and of course a lyre, from which he plucked music to charm the very stars from the heavens. The number 7 was sacred to Apollo, swans circling seven times Delos at his birth, which occurred on the seventh day of the month.Apollo was also the leader of the Muses , not surprisingly, due to his power of music, and played with them on the lyre that Hermes had made for him. In addition, he was supposed to have great powers of healing, and for this reason was regularly petitioned by those afflicted with disease or malaise.
Apollo killed the great dragon Python , which had been barring the way to his oracle at Delphi , thus establishing forever his rightful claim on the place. This was contested somewhat by Hercules , who carried off Apollo's priestess, unhappy with her prophecy, necessitating Apollo's intervention, and the quarrel had to be settled by Zeus, after which the two gods lived in close friendship. Apollo also incurred the wrath of the Father of the Gods himself, having shot at some cyclops in revenge for Zeus having struck his son, Asklepios with a thunderbolt. For this crime, Apollo was exiled for a time from Olympus , and spent time on the Earth, acting as herdsman to Admetos , king of Pherae in Thessaly, and as already mentioned, Laomedon, prince of Troy.Apollo even went as far as to join with Poseidon in an attempt to oust Zeus from the throne of Olympus, but the attempt failed, and both gods were ordered to assist in the building of the walls of Troy. Once this had been accomplished, however, Laodemon refused to pay them as agreed, and in fury, Apollo sent a fierce pestilence that depopulated Troy.
Apollo also argued with Pan , during his exile on Earth, the goat god insisting that the flute was a better instrument that the lyre. For a decision the two deities sought Midas , king of Lydia, who found in favour of Pan, and was punished by Apollo by having his ears grow long as a donkey's. Marsyas , boasting that he could play the flute better than Apollo, did not get off so lightly:he was flayed alive.

ARCHEMOROS-The child of Jason and Hypsipyle , originally called Opheltes. In Nemea, Hypsipyle was met by the 'Seven against Thebes', and the heroes asked her to take them to a well, all the ones they had come across so far having been dry, seemingly as a punishment levied on them by Dionysos , the guardian deity of Thebes. Hypsipyle agreed, but first laid the child on the ground in the wood, contrary to advice previously received from an oracle. When she and the heroes got back, they found the child dead, within the coils of a snake. Tydeus and Kapaneus would have slain the serpent, but Amphiaraos announced it to be a miraculous creature, sent by Zeus as an evil omen. In honour of this, he renamed the child Archemoros, which means 'the dawn of mystery.'

AREOPAGOS-The hill in Athens, known as 'Mars' Hill', on which was held a court of justice, for the deliberation of cases involving life and death. Ares was sent there, to face justice after having killed Halirrhotios , a son of Poseidon , after the sea god's son had become involved with Ares' own daughter, Alkippe .

ARES-Another son of Zeus , Ares was perhaps more a legimate son to the Father of the Gods, as his mother was Hera , the wife of Zeus. He was originally looked on as a god of the storm and the tempest, and more particularly the hurricane. There is no doubt that he was the most terrible and fierce of all the gods, finally finding his niche as the god of war. Ares delighted in slaughter and massacre on a grand scale, and in this he was the antithesis of Pallas- Athene , who was the goddess of well-matched chivalrous fights. Pallas-Athene was invulnerable in battle, and always on the side of the victor, whereas Ares, being the very personification of war, was often wounded, and sometimes even taken prisoner.
As an example of this, during the Trojan War , fighting on the side of the Trojans, having taking under his protection the hero Hector , he was wounded by the Greek Diomedes , and fell to the ground with a thundering crash. He was also wounded by Athene, and when he fell his body covered seven acres of ground.He was once captured by the Giants Otos and phialtes , and imprisoned in a huge brass vase for thirteen months. Ares found contention with Hercules , who slew the war god's son, Kyknos , but was unable to avenge the boy's death due to the intervention of Zeus. He had other sons, in particular Meleager , who slew the great Caledonian Boar, Parthenopaeos , one of the 'Seven against Thebes', and Oenomaeos , among others.
Ares was usually accompanied by Eris , goddess of strife, who, it may be remembered, set the three goddesses Hera , Artemis and Aphrodite to quarelling over which was the most beautiful. Also accompanying him were Deimos and Phobos , signifying Dread and Alarm. He also formed an attachment with Aphrodite, in the course of a liaison with whom he was discovered by Helios , who alerted Hephaestos , who caught both the lovers in a special net he had designed, and dragged them before Zeus for judgement. The sigils of Ares were a spear and a burning torch;his animals were the dog and the vulture.

ARETHUSA-One of the nymphs of the fountains, who attracted the ardour of Alpheios , the river god, who pursued her with such persistence that she had to turn to Artemis , who caused the stream that Arethusa represented to flow underground, thus eluding the river god.


ARGES-One of the three Cyclops , whose power was a stream of light.

ARGO-The ship that carried the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece .

ARGONAUTS-The Greek heroes who sailed to Kolchis, in search of the Golden Fleece. They were led by Jason of Iolkos.

ARIADNE-The daughter of King Minos of Crete, and sister to the bestial Minotaur , Ariadne was carried off by Theseus when he escaped from Crete with the head of the Minotaur. Theseus and Aridane fell in love, but the hero, his heart hardened by the, in the end, merciless killing of the Minotaur, abandoned her on the island of Naxos. She was later found by the wine god Dionysos , and forgot her sorrow at the betrayal of Theseus.

ARION-A wonderful black horse, incredibly fleet, and gifted with intelligence and speech of a man. Arion was the result of the union of Demeter and Poseidon , and was also endowed with the power of flight.

ARSINOE-One of the luckless victims of Aphrodite , whom she turned to stone

.ARTEMIS-Also known as Diana, Artemis was the divine personification of the moon, and was twin sister to the sun god Apollo . She became goddess of fertility, of woods and forests, the patroness of the hunter, and, in some instances, the punisher of men through the agency of wild animals, as in the case of the Caledonian Boar. Her favourite animal was the stag, in keeping with her huntress aspect, and she was not slow to punish those who killed---inadvertently or otherwise---her prize animals.A case in point is the time when Agamemnon slew one of her stags, and Artemis detained the Greek fleet at Aulis, on its way to Troy , there extracting the sacrifice of Agamemnon's daughter, Iphigenia . Also, there is the story of the hunter Ataeon , who observed the goddess bathing, and as a result was transformed into a stag himself, and eaten by his own hunting hounds.
She also slew Orion , who was said to have angered Artemis in his pursuit of Eos , the morning.Artemis also became viewed as the protector of fishermen, due to her association with the moon, and its influence on the tides. It is told that, on escaping from King Minos of Crete, she had had to throw herself from a rock into the sea, and was caught in the net of a fisherman. Other attributes ascribed to her include goddess of music, goddess of childbirth, and goddess of virgins. She, like Apollo, was sometimes looked on as a goddess of death, but in her case it was said that someone stricken suddenly and without warning had been laid low by a kindly arrow from Artemis (or, in the case of men, Apollo).Pure in the fullest sense of the word, Artemis vowed when only a young maiden to remain always in a single state, and received the permission of Zeus for this;to punish with great severity any who tried to tamper with this resolve (in particular we see the nymph Daphne , whom she transformed into a laurel tree, and Callisto , whom she turned into a bear).
Nymphs often accompanied her, and she was not angered at all of them. In fact, the story of Arethusa reflects this, the nymph being rescued by Artemis from the unwanted attentions of Alpheios , the river god.Artemis' sigils were, as already mentioned, the stag, but also the dog and the first fruits of the fields.

ASKLEPIOS-The son of Apollo and Coronis , Askelpio's mother was slain at his birth by the arrows of Artemis , but Apollo saved the child, taking him to Mount Pelion, and gave him into the care of the famous physician Cheiron , who brought the child up, instructing him in the arts of medicine and healing, and in the skills of hunting. But Asklepios became so adept in the arts of healing that Hades , fearing that he would lose clients due to the boy's wonders, petitioned Zeus , who, stunned by the audacity of a mere mortal performing such miracles, destroyed Askelpios with a thunderbolt, earning for himself the enmity of Apollo, whom he subsequently banished from Olympus for a time.
It was after his death that Askelpios became as a god to the Greeks, and indeed the Romans, seeking a cure to a pestilence that was ravaging their land, travelled to his temple at Epidauros. No sooner had they entered the temple than a serpent---the sigil of the god of healing---appeared from behind the statue of the god, and followed the Romans back to their ship. Looking on this as a portent of great luck, the men took it back home with them, where on landing in Italy the serpent proceeded to the temple of Asklepios in Antium, thereafter going back to the ship. It did not leave again until, on its way up the Tiber, the ship stopped at an island. Thereupon the pestilence was lifted, and a temple to Askelpios erected in his honour.Thereafter, the temple became a shrine, to which the sick and the deformed would travel, and all were cured. After having been treated, the details of their cases were inscribed on tablets, and hung up in the temple. Of Asklepios' children, the most famed was Hygeia , his wife Epigone , 'the soothing'. He himself is represented as an old, gentle, kind man, with a beard earnest, soothing eyes, resting on a staff around which is coiled a serpent, the sacred sign of his healing power. In addition to the serpent, Asklepios' sigils were the cock, staff and dish.

ASOPOS-One of the minor river gods of Greece.

ASTARTE-See Aphrodite.

ASTRAEAT-he Greek goddess of justice and good faith, modesty and truth, who forsook the Earth during the violence of the Iron Age, turning her back on the mortals, and returned to Olympus .

ASTRAEOS-The Greek god of starlight, who fathered the wind gods.

ATALANTE-One of the heroes who took part in the hunt for the Caledonian Boar.

ATE-The Greek goddess of infatuation, mischief and guilt. Because of her propensity for leading men to commit actions that they later would rue, Zeus , her father, exiled her from Olympus , and thereafter she wandered the Earth, causing misery and hardship, seeking mischief and strife wherever she could.

BACCHUS-See Dionysos

BAUKIS-Baukis, a poor peasant, with his wife Philemon , was visited by Zeus and Hermes , in the country of Phrygia. The gods, receiving such kindness and care from the two poor people, were touched by their devotion, and Zeus, ready to unleash a flood on the country, to punish the evildoers for their crimes, revealed himself to the couple, transformed their shabby cottage into a temple, and installed the two therein as his priest and priestess. He also granted their wish that they might die together, and when, many years later, death overtook them, he changed them into two trees----an oak and a linden---that grew side by side.

BELLEROPHON-A hero of ancient Corinth, Bellerophon caught sight of the winged horse Pegasus , as it alighted near the citadel of Corinth, and tried in vain to catch it. Thwarted, he appealed to the seer Polyidos for help, and was told to lay down to sleep at night beside the altar of Athene . Doing so, Bellerophon dreamed that the goddess herself came to him, and presented him with a golden bridle, bidding him show it to his father, Poseidon , and at the same time sacrifice a white ox to him. On waking, he found he held the bridle in his hand, sacrificed the ox as instructed, and further dedicated an altar to Athene. Pegasus proved susceptible to the bridle, and Bellerophon became his master.Having accidentally slain a Corinth noble, the hero went to Argos, where he was kindly received by the king, Proetos . However, the king's wife, Stheneboea , took a fancy to Bellerophon, and when the young man rejected her advances, she dragged him before her husband, accusing the hero of trying to violate her. Shocked by this claim, Proetos sent Bellerophon to the court at Lycia, to King Iobates, giving the youth a letter in which, unbeknownst to him, were orders to kill the bearer.
Arriving at the Lycian court, Bellerophon was entertained hospitably for nine days, and on the tenth the king asked the youth what his business was, received the letter Bellerophon bore, and dispatched the youth to slay the Chimera , a monster with a lion's front half, a serpent's rear and a goat in the middle. This monster infested the mountains, and slaughtered all who attacked it. But riding Pegasus, far out of the reach of the monster, Bellerophon killed the Chimera with his spear, and returned to Iobates triumphant. Next the king sent the hero to fight against the Solymi, a hostile neighbouring tribe, and again Bellerophon returned victorious. A third time the Lycian ruler sent his guest into danger, this time against the fierce warrior-women, the Amazons, and again he defeated them. When the final attempt to slay him failed (an ambush comprised of all Iobates' finest knights), the king realised that Bellerophon must be the son of a god, and gave the hero the hand of his daughter in marriage, plus half of his kingdom.
But the gods, fickle and cruel as ever, decided that joy should not be Bellerophon's lot. His son Isandros was slain by Ares , his daughter Laodaemia by Artemis , and Bellerophon himself wandered the world, insane, sad and alone, avoiding the company of his fellow men, till in an attempt to climb Mount Olympus itself on the back of his mighty horse Pegasus, he was struck by one of Zeus' thunderbolts, fell to earth and died


BIFRONS-One of the titles of Janus , which means 'two-headed'.

BOREAS-The Greek god of the north winter wind, who vied with the west spring wind, Zephyros , for the love of Chloris , goddess of buds and flowers. Bested by his rival, Boreas carried off the wife of Kekrops , the king of Attica, and when called upon by the Athenians when the Persians began their advance against Greece, he sent a terrible wind, which scattered the Persian fleet and largely destroyed it.

BRAURONIA-Another name for Artemis .

BRIAREUS-One of the three Hekatoncheires .

BRITOMARTIS-Another name for Artemis .

BROMIOS-Another name for Dionysos .

BRONTES-One of the three Cyclops , Brontes' weapon was his thunder

CALLISTO-One of Artemis' nymphs, whom she punished by transforming her into a bear.

CALYPSO-One of the Okeanids , whose name meant 'like the hidden tide'. To her drifted the shipwrecked Odysseus on his way home, and falling in love with the Greek hero, Calypso detained him on her island for seven years. Odysseus however, disdaining her offer of immortality, and caring nothing for her love, missing his home, sat so disconsolate by the strand that the gods finally prevailed upon the nymph to allow him to leave.

CASSANDRA-Daughter to Priam and Hecabe of Troy, Cassandra had received the power of prophecy from Apollo and when Paris was born to the king and queen, she declared that the boy would be the ruination of the city.

CASTOR-One of the two Dioscuri.

CENTAURS-A race of fantastic creatures, with the bodies of horses and the torsos of men, the Centaurs sprang from the union of Ixion and Hera , wife of Zeus . They were proud, arrogant, aggressive and boastful.

CERBERUS-The three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to Hades , Cerberus had a serpent's tail, and was also known as the Hound of Hades. Hercules was the only person who ever bested him, bringing him back up with him to the world of men for a time, as part of his Twelve Labours.

CERES-See Demeter.

CERIGO-See Cytherea.

CHARIS-According to the Iliad, the wife of Hephaestos.

CHARITES, THE-In Greek legend, the goddesses of the grace and charm of beauty, and of cheerful amusement, both in nature and in men. They were represented as beautiful young modest maidens, winning and charming, always dancing, singing and running. They also bathed in fountains and decked themselves with flowers, especially with roses, as this flower was sacred to them. The Charites were usually to be found in the company of Aphrodite, doing her bidding or just generally following and adoring her. Their home was among the Muses of Olympus, where they often entertained the other gods. There are various legends as to their parentage;some say they were the offspring of Zeus and Eurynome , others Dionysos and Aphrodite . Their number, too, is in dispute. Three at least are known of, these being Aglaea , Euphrosyne and Thalia. Kleta and Phaenna are also spoken of, though these may merely be different names for two of the three already mentioned, as are Auxo and Hegemone. The youngest of them is generally agreed to be Pasithea . The Charites, also known as the Graces, helped out many of the gods, standing as they did for beauty and sweetness, which was well borne out in song, poetry and dance. Athene called for their aid in her minstrations over life, Hernes had them assist in his function as orator of the gods. Their sigils were the rose, myrtle and dice, ears of corn, and musical instruments such as the lyre, flute and syrinx.

CHARON-The Greek ferryman of the dead, Charon took the dead souls of men and women across the River Styx , into the underworld of Hades , but not before their bodies had been buried in the earth above, with all due ceremony of sacrifice and marks of affection. Until this was done, the souls of the dead would wander listlessly along the banks of the Styx. As payment for the journey across the River of the Dead, Charon demanded a coin, one per soul, which had to be placed under the tongue of the corpse. Without this fee, the Ferryman would refuse to convey a soul into Hades.

CHIRON-The wise Centaur who taught the young Asklepios the arts of medicine and healing, as well as the fleet foot of the hunter. Friend to gods and heroes, Chiron also watched over the childhood of Achilles and Jason . While trying to make peace between Hercules and the Centaurs , Chiron was hit by a poisoned arrow, the unintended victim of one of Hercules' missiles. Unable to cure the wound, which was causing him extreme pain, he offered himself to die in the place of Prometheus , which the gods accepted.

CHIMAERA-A fabulous monster with the front of a lion, the middle of a goat and a serpent's tail. The Greek hero Bellerophon slew the Chimaera, on orders from King Proetos of Lycia.

CHLORIS-Greek goddess of buds and flowers.

CHRYSAOR-The father of Geryoneus, whom Perseus freed from within the body of Medusa, when he slew the Gorgon .

CHRYSIPPOS-The beautiful son of Pelops and a nymph, whom Atreus and Thyestes , slew and were forced to leave Elis.

CIRCE-In Roman legend, a witch who, upon being spurned by Pictus , turned him into a woodpecker. In the mythos of the Greeks, she lived on the island of Aeaea, and she turned Odysseus' men into swine, though the hero himself convinced her to restore them to human form. She then afforded Odysseus and his men the hospitality of her island, and when they eventually left, she counselled them on how to pass safely by the deadly Sirens , and evade the monsters Scylla and Charybdis .

COCKATRICE-See Basilisk .

CRETAN BULL, THE -This white bull had been presented by Poseidon to King Minos of Crete, and by Minos placed among the herd of cattle sacred to the sun. This angered the sea god, as Minos had begged the bull as a sacrifice, to be made to Poseidon, but instead kept the animal, seemingly insulting the sea god by putting it with cattle sacred to Helios. As a result of this, Poseidon caused the Cretan Bull to become wild, and it broke from its stall and ran off, pursued by Minos' wife, Pasiphae , whom Poseidon had cursed with an unnatural desire for the bull. Finally securing the beast in a meadow, Daedalus held it while the queen fulfilled her desire. Of this union was born the Minotaur , for whom the king of Crete later had Daedalus construct a huge, confusing labyrinth. The recovery and subjugation of the beast was attributed to Hercules , as another of his Twelve Labours.

CUMAEAN SIBYL-The title by which the seeress Deiphobe became known.

CUPID-See Eros .

CYCLOPS-Three in number, they were created by Uranos at the beginning of the world, and had only one eye and tremendous strength. Their names were Brontes , Steropes and Arges .

CYPARISSUS-The Roman god Silvanus was said to have changed her into a cypress.

CYTHEREA-Another name for Aphrodite .

DAEDALUS-One of the most famous artists and inventors in Greece, Daedalus had a son, Icarus , who was unlike his father very clumsy and slow. After having killed Icarus' cousin in a fit of jealous rage, Daedalus and his son fled to Crete, where the inventor was summoned to the court of King Minos . The king told Daedalus that he wished the artisan to construct a huge, labyrinthine maze, a prison for his bastard son, the Minotaur , which his wife had conceived after having lain with the Cretan Bull . On completion of this task, Daedalus and his son were sealed up in the labyrinth with the raging Minotaur, but due to the inventor's knowledge of the maze, they both managed to escape.
Having no way off the island of Crete, Daedalus captured some birds and bees, using the beeswax to glue the birds' feathers to slats of wood, which he then made into the framework for two crude pairs of wings, which he attached, one pair to his own back, and one to that of his son. Thus the two escaped from the revenge of King Minos, but Icarus, flying too high and too close to the sun, found his wings melting and he fell into the sea. Daedalus mourned the loss of his son, and was never the same man he had been. When finally Minos caught up with him, by setting him a puzzle the wily inventor could not resist, though its solution gave away his secret, Daedalus slew the king, by diverting scalding water into the bath his captor was taking, preparatory to attending the execution of the Greek artisan.

DAEMONS- Daemons, also known as Genii , were a race of invisible beings, one being assigned by Zeus to every man, to attend, protect and guide him. They were nameless and numberless, the only ones enjoying names the ones that acted as personal attendants to specific gods and goddesses. In the case of daemons assigned to mere mortals, the genii would identify with its particular human, and would endeavour to guide him or her through their life, charting a wise course through the turbulent waters of existence, and on the demise of the mortal, his or her daemon died with them.
To look after one's life, and to be cheerful was to honour a person's personal daemon, and to be reckless, sad or vexed was to go against the genius. On birthdays sacrifices of milk, flowers, wine or incense was offered to the genius, while at most meals some unmixed wine was poured out to the Good Daemon, or Agathodaemon. These personal attendants were usually represented in the form of a youth bearing a horn of plenty and a dish in one hand, and some heads of poppies and ears of corn in the other. A serpent could also represent one of these daemons. Besides the general daemons, the Romans had one great genius whom they reckoned among the gods of the second rank, and esteemed highly, believing that he had some control over the others. The belief of the Greeks later rose to the height of believing that the great heroes were possessed of daemons, and this credo stretched further, until it was believed that every hero who died was in fact translated to a life among the gods.

DAMASTES- A Greek whose usual method of killing his victims was to place them on a bed that was always either too long or too short. If too short, he would cut off part of the person's body in order that that person might fit the bed;if too long, he would stretch his victim to the required length. Theseus slew Damastes, at Eleusis, on his way to Athens.

DANAE- The daughter of Akrisios , whom he imprisoned in a subterranean chamber, in order to prevent the prophecy being fulfilled, that his daughter should bear a son who would slay Akrisios, and rule in his place. But a shower of gold, sent by Zeus , found its way to Danae, and she gave birth to a child, the hero Perseus . Raging at her explanation of the child's conception---and refusing to believe it---Akrisios had his daughter and grandchild sealed in a box, and cast into the sea. However, the box was ensnared by a fisherman called Diktys , as it drifted towards the island of Seriphos. Diktys took care of mother and child, but his brother, Polydektes , enamoured of Danae, sent Perseus to bring back the head of the Gorgon , Medusa , in order that the lad be taken out of the way.

DANAIDES- The daughters of Danaos , king of Argos, they were punished for the murder of their husbands by being sent to Tartaros after death, and being forced to carry water, continuing to pour it into a broken cistern or vase---futile labour, and persisting for all eternity.

DANAOS- Son of Belos , who was himself a son of Poseidon and Libya , Danaos quarreled with his brother, Aegyptos , and taking his fifty daughters with him, sailed to Argos, where he was kindly received by the king. At this time, Argos was suffering under the curse of a deadly drought, which Poseidon had sent, and Danaos sent his daughters to find a spring and bring back some water. It was while so engaged that one of them, Amymone , threw a spear at a stag, which missed but hit a sleeping satyr . Pursued by the satyr, Amymone called on Poseidon for help, and the sea god, smitten by her beauty, drove off the satyr, took the girl, and caused a perennial stream to flow, there at Lerna. Amuymone bore a son to Poseidon, Nauplios , who lured seafaring travellers to their deaths by deliberate misdirection, and enriched himself by plundering their cargoes.
Meanwhile the sons of Aegyptos, having besieged Argos for some time, proposed to forget their differences with Danaos who, without relenting in the least, gave the sons of his brothers his own daughters as wives. However, evil festered in the mind and heart of Danaos, and he gave each of the daughters a knife, in order that they might slay their husbands on the night of the marriage. All agreed, except Hypermnestra , who for her refusal to commit murder was spared the fate her sisters shared after death. She, however, was thrown by Danaos in a dungeon, but when later brought to trial, was acquitted, and in fact succeeded to the throne of Argos, ruling there for many years.

DAPHNE- Whom Artemis turned into a laurel tree.

DARDANOS- The founder of the great, ill-fated city of Troy .

DEIANEIRA- Daughter of Oenus, king of Caledon, who offered her in marriage to the man who could vanquish the river god Acheloos at wrestling. Hercules did so, and Deianeira became his wife. Thereafter, Hercules destroyed the stronghold of Oechalia, and having put the king, who had reneged on a bargain to promise his daughter, Iole to him, despite the fact that Hercules had carried out all of the tasks asked of him, the demigod carried off Iole, intending to sacrifice her to Zeus . However, Deianeira, hearing of this and fearing that her husband's love for Iole was being rekindled, sent to him the robe in which he normally sacrificed, but steeped it in a preparation given her by the Centaur Nessor , meant to bring back the ardour of her husband for her. She did not realise that the potion was deadly posion, and Hercules, donning the robe, quickly died. On hearing of this, Deianeria killed herself.

DEIMOS- With Phobos , (Alarm), Deimos, (Dread) was one of the great hunting hounds of Ares , and both accompanied him on the battlefield.

DEINO- One of the Graeae , her name means 'dread', as does the warhound of Ares.

DEIONEUS- The father of Dia , whom Ixion married. Ixion had promised Deioneus, as was the custom, many presents which he later refused to provide. Deioneus, in his attempts to get what was his, perished in a great pit of fire, prepared for him by the murderous Ixion. This was believed to have been the first murder of a relation in the world.

DEIPHOBE- The oracle of Apollo at Cumae in Italy. She was a daughter of Glaukos , and later became known as the Cumaean Sybil. It was from her that the last king of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, received the three Sybilline Books that contained such important prophecies concerning Rome.

DELPHI- The major oracle of Apollo, from where he cast most of his prophecies. On entering the valley, the young god had to battle the great dragon Python , which barred his way. He vanquished it, and Delphi was ever afterward the seat of his oracle.

DELPHINION, THE- The temple of Apollo, in Athens.

DELPHINIOS- Another name for Apollo.

DEMETER- The goddess of the Earth, in its capacity as a fruitful, growing thing, Demeter (also known as Ceres ), was a daughter of Kronos and Rhea , and was looked upon by the Greeks as the all-nourishing mother of the Earth. The way life evolves from the seed which is cast into the ground and allowed to rot was the principle tenet of the belief in her. The seed was in the keeping of her daughter, Persephone , Queen of Hades , and the life that sprang forth from that seed was Demeter's. In this way the two goddesses were inseparable, and were styled as 'the two in one', or 'the great deities'.
When Hades carried off Persephone, to make her his bride, Demeter, with a mother's grief, mounted her car drawn by winged snakes and travelled through all lands searching for her, leaving traces of her blessing, in the form of instruction in the art of agriculture, wherever she was kindly received. But the person who treated her with the utmost hospitality was Keleos , in the district of Attica, where she in return taught him the use of the plough, and on departing presented Keleos' son, Triptolemos with the seed of the barley, plus her snake-drawn car, so that the boy could travel the lands, spreading the knowledge of agriculture to all men. In Arcadia, in Crete, she bore to Jasion , the first sower of grain, a son, Plutos , while in Thessaly she battled Erysichton , 'the earth upturner', or 'the ploughman', and Aethon , the personification of famine.
When Poseidon threatened to manhandle her, she turned herself into a horse and fled, but the sea god pursued her, turning also into a horse. He caught her, and together they produced the winged horse Arion . Horrified at this deed, Demeter hid for a long time in a cave, finally emerging to purify herself in the river Ladon, and rejoining the other gods and goddesses. Demeter's sigils were ears of corn and poppies, and her sacrifices were cows and pigs.

DEUKALION- With his wife Pyrrha , he was the only one saved from the great flood, sent by an angry Zeus , that destroyed all life on the Earth. The man and woman were commanded by the Father of the gods to repopulate the Earth, and to this end they went around casting stones on the ground, which grew into men and women. From these men and women sprang the Hellenic race, and its offshoots, the Aeolians, Dorians, Achaeans and Ionians.

DIA- See Hebe .

DIANA- See Artemis .

DIKE- See Astraea .

DIKTYS- The kindly fisherman who rescued the box that contained Danae and Perseus , drifting off the coast of Seriphos. Diktys took care of the daughter of Akrisios and her child, and for his kindness was spared, along with his own people, when Perseus turned the island to a barren rock.

DINDUMENE- Another name for Rhea.

DIOMEDES- The king of Thrace, Diomedes was reputed to have been the son of Ares , and like his father, and the people he ruled over, was fierce in combat. He was the owner of horses that fed on human flesh, which, by consuming, they became furious and so powerful that they had to be chained with manacles of iron. Hercules was directed to bring these unearthly beasts to Mykenae, as part of his Twelve Labours, and in so doing, fought with and killed Diomedes, feeding the king to his own horses.

DIONE- The mother of Aphrodite .

DIONYSOS- The god of wine and gaiety, Dionysos was the son of Zeus and Semele , a daughter of King Kadmos of Thebes, and his birth was frowned upon by Hera , who, angry at this rival to her husband's affections, disguised herself and proceeded to Thebes, where she met and falsely befriended Semele, encouraging her to ask that Zeus should appear before her (Semele) in all his great majesty as god of thunder. On Hera's return to Olympus , Zeus, swearing to grant Semele's request, whatever it may be, had to hold to his oath, and therefore appeared as a display of thunder and lightning to Semele, a display which killed her. As she died, Semele gave birth to Dionysos, who of course died, but whom Zeus restored to life, and fearing his wife's reprisals, charged Hermes to convey the child to Nysa, where Silenos and the nymphs brought up the infant. Dionysos' formative years were spent in innocence in the company of the nymphs, satyrs , sileni, herdsmen and vine-tenders of Nysa. But when he attained manhood he set out on a journey through all lands, even into the remotest parts of India, instructing the people how to tend the vine, and other arts of peace, teaching them also the value of just and honourable dealings. Dionysos was praised everywhere as the greatest benefactor of mankind, but for all this if he met stubborn resistance from someone who refused to listen to his teachings, he always punished them severely. A case in point is Lykurgos , whom the wine god caused to become insane, so that he felled his son, mistaking him for a vine plant. The enormity of this deed caused Lykurgos to kill himself also.
There was also Pentheus , king of Thebes, whom Dionysos caused to be torn to pieces by his own mother and her following of women, for daring to look on at their orgiastic rites. As a god of the spring rites, of the flowering plants and fruitful vines, Dionysos was said to be in terrible pain during winter, when most living things sicken and die, or hibernate, and in this way he was similar to Demeter , who sorrowed in winter for her lost daughter, Persephone . Dionysos was also revered as the god of the theatre, and all the performing arts. His sigils were the vine, ivy, pomegranate, and his sacrifices were of goats and pigs.

DIOSCURI, THE- The twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, who, having become enamoured of the brides of Lynkeus and Idas, Phoebe and Hilaeeira, tried to carry off the two women, and got into a fight with the two grooms. In the combat, Castor was slain, and Pollux, having avenged his brother's death, prayed to Zeus that Pollux be brought back to life, providing that each lived only on alternate days. Zeus granted this plea, and the brothers took on a divine aspect, represented as riding on white horses in the sky, with dazzling spears, each with a star above his brow. The Dioscuri were supposed to guide wandering mariners to safety.

DIRAE- See Erinys .

DIRKE- The wife of Lykos of Thebes, who subjected Antiope to terrible cruelty, so that the mother of Amphion and Zethos had to flee to Mount Kithaeron, where she had left her children in the care of a herdsman. Arriving there, Antiope encountered Dirke, who ordered the two brothers to bind their mother to the horns of a bull, that it might tear her apart. However, recognising Antiope, Amphion and Zethos turned instead on Dirke, lashing her to the bull, on whose horns she died.


DITHYRAMBOS- Another name for Dionysos .

DODONIDS -See Hyads .

DORIDES- See Nereides .

DORIANS- One of the four offshoots of the Hellenic race, that sprang from the line of Deukalion and Pyrrha .

DORIS- Wife of Nereus , who gave birth to the Nereides.

DRYADS- Nymphs of woods and trees, they inhabited groves, valleys and ravines. They were fond of making merry with Pan , Apollo , Hermes , and were very attractive to satyrs . Sometimes they appeared as rustic huntresses or shepherdesses.

DYNAMENE- One of the Nereids who, with her sister Pherusa , signified the great swell and impulse of mighty waves.

ECHO- A mountain nymph , who was a servant of Hera , but had to be kept at a distance, due to her talkativeness. She was loved by the god Pan , but conceived a passion and love for Narcissus , a son of the river god Kephissos :a passion that, unfortunately, he did not return. Echo grieved at this, and pined away day by day, until only her voice was left her. She then took to the woods that Pan frequented, occupying herself by mimicking every vocal sound she heard.

EILEITHYIA- Another of the names given to Hera .

EIRENE- The Roman goddess of peace, also known as Pax, Eirene was one of the Horae ---the most cheerful of the three. She was usually represented as holding a palm branch, or with armour under her feet. She was also shown as closing the temple of Janus .

ELEKTRA- An Okeanid nymph, said to have been the mother of the Harpies .

ELEKTRYON- One of the two sons of Perseus and Andromeda .

ELPIS- God of hope, who stood over the grieving Eros , holding a lily.

ELYSION- Later known as the Elysian Fields, this was an alternative resting-place for the souls of the dead, rather than either Hades or Tartaros. Elysion was reserved mostly for the special favourites of the gods.

EMATHION- One of the two sons of Eos and Tithonos .

ENAGONIOS- Another name for Hermes .

ENDYMION- A youth of whom the goddess Artemis became enamoured, and descended to him.

ENKELADOS - One of the Giants who warred against the Greek gods, and whom Artemis defeated.

ENYALIOS - Another name for Ares .

ENYO- The Greek goddess of war, she was naturally associated with Ares, being in some accounts the wife of the fierce war god, in others his sister. She was known for spreading terror and alarm in combat, and in this way she was likened more to Ares than to Pallas-Athene, who favoured the more chivalrous forms of battle. She was represented with wild, flowing hair, rushing wildly here and there, with a lash in her hand, and armed with shield and spear.

EOS- A daughter of Theia and Hyperion , Eos, also called Aurora, was the goddess of the dawning morning. She was sister to Helios and Selene , and she herself gave birth to the star and winds of the morning, Zephyros , Boreas , Notos and Euros . Their father was Astraeos , the god of starlight.Eos was thought to ride in a carriage drawn by four white steeds, shedding light upon the Earth, although it was believed by others that she rode the great horse Pegasus , which Zeus had given to her after Bellerophon had failed to ride up to Olympus on it. She loved all fresh young life, and was the patron of those who rose early in the morning, to hunt or make war. She had a habit of carrying off beautiful youths she became smitten with, and obtaining immortality for them. Of the ones she did this for were Kleitos , Orion , Kephalos and Tithonos , the last of whom became her husband. However, in requesting immortality for Tithonos, Eos had forgotten to also ask for eternal youth for him, so that as he began to grow old, she did not act the same towards him, though still remaining attentive and loving. When he had become too decrepit for her to bear, though, Eos shut Tithonos in a chamber, where only the sound of his voice escaped, like the chirp of a grasshopper, into which he was transformed.
Kephalos, another of Eos' consorts, angered the goddess Aura , by refusing her advances, as he resolutely remained faithful to his wife, Prokris. The goddess caused Kephalos to inadvertently kill his wife, as Prokris had been hiding in a thicket, observing the rendezvous of her husband and Aura. Kephalos, catching the sound of her and mistaking it for that of a hiding animal, threw his spear and killed his wife. Eos and Tithonos had two sons, Memnon and Emathion , the former very beautiful and widely mourned when Achilles slew him. His corpse was taken by his grieving mother to Thebes, and there she erected to his memory a wonderful monument, so designed that when the rays of the morning sun caught it, it gave forth a sound like the snapping of a harpstring. Eos was depicted as a spirited maiden, with large wings and clad in robes of dazzling white and purple. A star or cap was on her head, a torch in her hand, and she drove a chariot drawn by four horses, or sometimes rode on Pegasus.

EPAPHOS- A son of Zeus and Io , with whom Phaeton , son of Helios , had his famous argument concerning Epaphos' origin, that resulted in his crazed dash across the sky in Helios' sun-chariot.

EPEIOS- A famous sculptor in Greece, who fashioned the famous Wooden Horse for Odysseus , which finally broke the siege of Troy .

EPHIALTES - One of the Giants who made war against the gods;he was defeated by Apollo .

EPIGONE- Wife of Asklepios , her name meant 'the soothing'.

EPIMELIOS- Another name for Hermes .

EPIMENIDES- A prophet of Apollo, who, falling asleep as a herdsman for fifty-six years, and awoke with the gift of prophecy.

EPIMETHEUS- Husband of Pandora , it was he who opened the vase which he had been told was to remain closed, thus unleashing all manner of horrors upon humanity.

ERATO - One of the Nereides , whose province was the fascination of the gaily rising tide, along with her sisters Pasithea and Euneike .

EREBOS- Greek god of darkness.

ERGANE- Another name for Pallas-Athene.

ERICHTHONIOS- Son of Hepaesthos and Gaea .

ERINYS, THE- Their parentage is much discussed, being held by some to be the daughters of Night, by others Earth and Darkness, while still others ascribe to them Kronos and Eurynome as their parents. The Erinys were attendants of Hades and Persephone , and lived at the entrance to the Underworld. Their first duty was to see to the punishment of those who had committed some crime in the world above, but had arrived at Hades without obtaining absolution from the gods. Sometimes this duty extended to the world of men, where the Erinys (also called Dirae, Furiae, Eumenides or Semnae) would pursue criminals, at the behest of Nemesis , permitting the fugitive no rest. An example of the above is the tale of Agamemnon's son, Orestes , who slew his mother, Klytaemnestra , in revenge for his father's death. Orestes was pursued tirelessly and unceasingly by the Erinys, and only finally freed himself of them by bringing, on the advice of an oracle, an image of Apollo from Tauros to Argos. There were three of the Erinys. They were Tisphone , who avenged murder, Alekto , the unwearied persecutor, and Megaera , the grim. They were represented as terrible female figures, clad in black, sometimes winged, with hair made of vipers, and carrying a serpent, torch or knife in their hands.

ERIS- Known to the Romans as Discordia, it is from this name that we get a clue to this goddess's nature. Goddess of strife, she was employed by the other gods to stir up fierce disputes and mortal quarrels among men. It was she, in fact, who started the quarrel among the three goddesses, Hera Athene and Aphrodite , at the marriage of Peleus . She lived in the lower world with the Erinys , and was at times represented as the wife or sister of Ares . She was mother to Enyo , goddess of war.

EROS- God of love, Eros was the son of Zeus and Aphrodite , and is represented at the beginning of creation as sorting out the formation of the world, bringing order from chaos, and causing that which was previously barren to become fruitful again. He held sway, not only over the hearts and minds of men, but of gods too, and as such is seen as perhaps one of the most powerful deities in Greek and Roman mythology. The Romans knew him as Amor, or Cupid, and it is in this latter aspect that he figures in the story of Psyche . She was a king's daughter, and most beautiful, so much so that Aphrodite became jealous of her, and sent Cupid to inflame her heart with love for some common man. But the god of love was himself struck by the beauty of Psyche, and carried her off to a secret place, where they spent happy hours together, with the proviso that Psyche was not allowed to look upon her lover with her mortal eyes. However, her sisters ribbed her about this, stirring up curiosity in the young princess's breast, and one night she finally gave in to temptation, taking a lamp and stealing into the god's sleeping chamber. In leaning over to see him, she dropped a hot drip of oil onto his shoulder, and Cupid, awakening and angry that she had disobeyed him, left her. Psyche searched everywhere in vain for her lover, until finally she arrived at the palace of Aphrodite, who charged her to descend to Hades and obtain a vial of beauty ointment from Persephone . Bringing this back, she became overpowered by its odour, sank to her knees and died. Cupid could resist no longer, and intervened, bringing her back to life, and thereafter marrying her, obtaining for her immortality. Eros was originally represented as a figure of youth and beauty, but in later times became more well-known as the chubby, angelic boylike being, with his mass of curly hair and armed with his bow and arrow, the shafts of which, once piercing a human (or divine) heart, infused that person with unremitting love for the first person they saw.

ERYMANTHIAN BOAR, THE- A wild and powerful animal that haunted the slopes of Mount Erymanthos, in northern Arcadia, and which Hercules was ordered to return alive with to Mykenae, as part of his Twelve Labours .

ERYSICHTON- Known as 'the earth upturner', or 'the ploughman', he was bitterly opposed by Demeter , goddess of the Earth.

ERYTHEIS- One of the seven Hesperides .

ETEOKLES - One of the two sons of Oedipus and Jokaste , who, after the abdication of their father, ruled in Thebes, each for a year apiece, as per their agreement. However, when the time came for Polyneikes to take over his place on the throne, Eteokles refused to yield, and in fact exiled his brother from the city. Polyneikes gathered to him six heroes, and marched against Thebes, intent on regaining his rightful place on the throne. In fighting against his brother on the return of his army to Thebes, Polyneikes slew Eteokles, but was himself slain by his brother.

EUMENIDES- See Erinys .

EUNEIKE- One of the Nereides , who with her two sisters, Erato and Pasithea , signified the fascination of the gaily rising tide.

EUNEOS- The son of Jason and Hypsipyle .

EUNOMIA- One of the Horae , goddess of wise legislation.

EUPHROSYNE- One of the Charites .

EUROPA- The daughter of Agenor and Telephassa , Europa became the object of Zeus ' affections, and the great god, turning himself into a great white bull, carried her off to Crete, where she gave birth to three sons, Minos , Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon . Having given birth to these three, Europa married Asterius, king of Crete, who adopted her three sons. Zeus rewarded him by sending him Talos , the man of bronze, to watch over the four, and defend Asterius' realm.

EUROS- The north wind, one of the sons of Eos and Astraeos .

EURYALE- One of the three Gorgons .

EURYBIA- One of the twelve Titans .

EURYDICE- One of the Napaeae , she was seen by and fell in love with Orpheus , but pursued by Aristaeos , a satyr who also loved her, she was bitten by a snake and died. Orpheus, his heart wrung by grief, descended to the Underworld, where he avoided the attentions of the beasts and unwholesome things that dwelled there, by virtue of his beautiful music. He finally came into the presence of Hades and Persephone , and begged for the return of Eurydice, playing his soulful music, to soften their hearts. Hades was unmoved, but his wife, swayed by the melancholic music, which awoke in her memories of the world she had left behind, begged her husband to grant Orpheus his wish. Hades agreed, but on one condition:while on the journey back to the upper world, Orpheus must never once look back to see if Eurydice was following. If he did, she would be lost to him forever. Near the entrance to the world of men, his frustration got the better of him, and he turned. Eurydice was torn from him, back to Hades.

EURYNOME- Mother of the Charites , who found and cared for the god Hephaestos , after his mother, Hera , had cast him off Olympus . She is also believed to have been the mother of the Erinys .

EURYSTHEUS- It was he who set, at the direction of Hera, the Twelve Labours that Hercules was to perform, in order that he be reckoned among the immortals of Olympus.

EURYTHION- One of the Centaurs , who took part in the altercation at the marriage of Peirithoos and Deidamia .

EUTERPE- One of the Muses , the goddess of music.

FATE - Also known as Ananke, and Fatum, to the Romans, Fate was the very personification of the destiny that holds sway over the lives of men, and even gods. Fate was the offspring of Night and Erebos , and her sentences were carried out by the Parcae .

FATUUS- See Faunus .

FAUNA- Either the wife or the daughter of Faunus , the Roman god of the field, she was called 'the kind goddess', and was supposed to have watched over the whole of creation, a kind of caretaker of the world. Her offspring were the Fatui , who were considered to be prophetic deities of the fields, and sometimes evil genii , who were seen as the cause of nightmares. Fauna was usually depicted as an aged woman, with pointed ears and holding a serpent in her hand.

FAUNUS- Basically a Roman version of the Greek god Pan .

FLORA - See Chloris .

FORTUNA- See Tyche .

FURIAE- See Erinys .

GAEA - The Greek goddess of the Earth, one of the first supernatural beings created.

GALATEA - One of the Nereides , whom Zeus coveted.

GALAXURE- One of the Okeanids , her name meant 'like the refreshing coolness of a shady stream'.

GALENE- One of the Nereides, who with her sister Glauke , symbolised the peaceful shimmering light upon the gently moving bosom of the sea.

GAMELIA- Another name for Hera .

GANYMEDA - See Hebe .

GANYMEDE- A son of the Trojan king Tros and Kallirhoe, Ganymede was found by Zeus on Mount Ida, where he himself had been brought up, and struck with Ganymede's beauty, he carried him off to Olympus , where he took over from Hebe as cup-bearer to the gods. Ganymede was usually represented as a youth of unsurpassed beauty, wearing a Phrygian cap, to identify his origin, and the eagle of Zeus by his side.

GERYONEUS- A son of Chrysaor and the Okeanid nymph Kallirhoe . He possessed the bodies of three men, the heads of three men, three pairs of legs and six arms. He was gigantic in size, heavily armed, powerful and winged. He was the lord of immense flocks of cattle. It was these kine that Hercules , as part of his Twelve Labours, had to capture and take away, which he did after fighting with and killing Geryoneus.

GLAUKE- One of the Nereides , who with her sister Galene signifies the peaceful shimmering light upon the gently moving bosom of the sea. Glauke fell in love with Jason , whom she married, and was later killed by the jealous Medea .

GLAUKOPIS- Another name for Pallas-Athene.

GLAUKOS- The son of Sisyphos , who owned a fine herd of horses. But these animals, having been fed on human flesh, turned wild and savaged their master to death. The Greeks believed that his spirit survived, wandering about and frightening horses, in revenge for his untimely death.

GORGONS, THE - Three in number, the Gorgons were daughters of Phorkys and Keto . Their names were Stheino , Euryale and the most famous, Medusa . The Gorgons had the power to turn men to stone, simply by looking at them. If a man could avoid looking into the hypnotic eyes of the creatures, however, he could be saved.

GORGOPHONE- Another name for Pallas-Athene.

GRACES, THE - See Charites .

GRAEAE- Daughters of Phorkys and Keto , the Graeae were, like the Gorgons, three in number, and their names were Deino , Pephredo and Enyo , the last of whom was the goddess of war. The names of the three meant respectively 'alarm', 'dread' and 'horror'. As sisters to the Gorgons, the Graeae were also guardians of the trio, and were represented as misshapen and hideous creatures, hoary and withered from birth, with only one eye and one tooth between them. They lived in a dark cavern, near the entrance to Tartaros .

GYGES - One of the three Hekatoncheires.

So many deities, so little time...more to come!


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