Greek/ Roman Gods and
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
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
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
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
AETHON-A personification, in the world of ancient Greece,
AGAMEMNON-Brother to Menelaus , Agamemnon was king of
AGANIPPE-One of the Muses , who were said to be nymphs of
the streams that ran down the sides of Mount Helikon and
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
AGENOS-One of the two sons borne by Libya to the sea god,
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
AGROTORA-Another name for the Greek goddess Artemis ,
under which title she was regarded as the patron goddess of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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),
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
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
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,
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.
ARGEIPHONTES-See Hermes .
ARGES-One of the three Cyclops , whose power was a stream
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
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.
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
ASTRAEOS-The Greek god of starlight, who fathered the wind
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.
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
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
.BEREKUNTIA-See Rhea .
BIFRONS-One of the titles of Janus , which means
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
DISCORDIA- See Eris .
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'
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
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
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
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
EUMENIDES- See Erinys .
EUNEIKE- One of the Nereides , who with her two sisters,
Erato and Pasithea , signified the fascination of the gaily
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
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
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
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!