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Ganymedes was the son of Tros, the founder of Troy, or Laomedon, the father of Priam, king of Troy during the war with the Greeks, according to the myth. He was a man of extraordinary beauty to whom Zeus, who not only noticed female beauty, seduced him by the appearance of an eagle. Zeus made love with ...continue reading "Ganymede"

Ganymedes was the son of Tros, the founder of Troy, or Laomedon, the father of Priam, king of Troy during the war with the Greeks, according to the myth.
He was a man of extraordinary beauty to whom Zeus, who not only noticed female beauty, seduced him by the appearance of an eagle. Zeus made love with the boy and guaranteed him immortality and eternal youth, as well as granting him the constellations of Aquarius and Aquila, the eagle. Ganymede became one of Zeus lovers.

This myth is considered one of the origins for homosexuality and sodomy. Also it is an example of greek life and culture at that time.


 

 

 


Zeus was called the master of the gods, and "father of men." The title may be more impressive than meritorious; it seemed applicable to the Zeus of the philosophers who regarded him as a supreme god and sculptor of the universe. The notion was not primitive; Zeus was master of men as Agamemnon was the half-imposed, half-elected king of the Achaeans. Within this capacity he was the guarantor of contracts, oaths, the protector of guests that was involved in the human activity unfolding beneath his vigilant gaze.

 

Powers

Zeus was the sky and thunder god in greek mythology. The mighty deity was thought to be god of the sky and master of the celestial fire, a side of Zeus' personality that the Homeric verses amply portrayed. As "king" of heaven he exercised a sort of providence; but his will was held in check by the immutable laws of fate, and his rule was often limited by these laws and respected. Although inhibited by this restriction, Zeus could govern and follow a policy; his decisions were rarely arbitrary or set forth with passion; they corresponded to hidden intentions, the wisdom of which was ultimately revealed. He was the ultimate dispenser of good and evil to all mortals.

 

Famly

Children

Zeus was the son of Cronus and his sister, Rhea. Also from this relationship had came HestiaDemeterHeraHades, and Poseidon. But a curse had been put on Cronus, who being of a dishonest and violent nature, when he refused to plicate Gaea after he had turned his father off of the thrown. Instead of setting free his brothers, condemned by Uranus never to see the light of day, Cronus kept them shut away in their subterranean prison, which enraged Gaea. Gaea vowed that he would know the very fate that he had put upon his father by being dethroned by his own children. So in order to protect himself from this curse he devoured his offspring as soon as Rhea bore them. The first five he swallowed, but when Zeus was born Rhea decided to save the child. With Gaea's help she found shelter in a Cretan cave where she delivered the infant. Then taking a stone Rhea wrapped it in swaddling clothes and took it back to Cronus, who, without question, seized it and swallowed it. Zeus had been saved, and with the same stroke Cronus sealed his own fate.

 

Story

Myths

The young Zeus grew from infancy in the cave being nursed by the nymphs of Amalthea, and protected by the Curetes, which mean "Young men," who were warriors with spears and shields that performed a war dance around the grotto. This was to drown out the infant's wailing so Cronus would not discover that he had been tricked and devour his son. In this instance, it appears, as frequently happened, the myth grew from a rite: a ritual war dance was practiced in Crete, also in other Hellenized countries, by people imitating the supposed actions of the spirits of the storm in the mountains and sky; such dancing probably gave rise to Rhea's ruse.

While being protected Zeus matured receiving all of his divine powers. When the time came for Gaea's prophecy to be fulfilled Zeus consort was Metis, a daughter of Oceanus, whose name means "Prudence" or more often "Perfidy." She gave him a drug that would make his father vomit up the five children that he had previously devoured and still carried in his body. They all emerged, and with these allies Zeus attacked Cronus and his comrades, the Titans. The war in which they battled each other lasted ten years. Finally, Gaea's oracle promised Zeus victory if he would accept help from the monster that Cronus had imprisoned in Tartarus. Zeus agreed, thus permitting Gaea's wish that Cronus disregarded. Zeus delivered the monsters and was victorious. Accounting for this victory were the weapons that the monsters gave to the young gods that in the future would bear their emblems, which included the thunderbolts that the Cyclopes forged for Zeus. Cronus and the Titans were then confined in the depths of the underworld and took the place of the monsters who became their guards.

Hesiod's Theogony, written shortly after 700 BC, relates the most accepted tradition regarding the birth and childhood of Zeus. But there were others: Arcadia in particular prided itself on having been the cradle of this god. It became easy to deduce the past-Hellenic Zeus was formed by absorbing many local "great gods." For example, in Crete itself Zeus probably replaced a vegetation god, since the Cretans exhibited a "tomb of Zeus," and few but vegetation deities were believed to be subject to periodic deaths and rebirths.

Zeus, the supreme sky-god of the Greeks and a composite figure, was believed to be involved in the daily affairs of people, but was never thought of as a creator deity. As Hesiod notes, the origins of things were related in other myths concerning Uranus, the sky, and Gaea, the earth. The Dorian invasion of Greece around 1200 BC resulted in the superimposition of the Indo-European sky father cult on an indigenous Minoan-Mycenaean tradition in which the earth goddess was predominant, just as in India the Aryans submerged the Hindus valley culture. Even though traces of pre-Greek tradition are seen in Hera being the wife of Zeus, it was he as Nephelogeretes, "the cloud gatherer," who reigned over all things. He was given other names as well that depicted his different aspects and functions; they included Ombrios, "rain god"; Kataibates, "the descender"; Keraunos, "lightening"; Gamelios, "god of marriage"; Teleios, "giver of completeness"; Pater, "father"; and Soter, "savior." Hades, the god of the dead, and Poseidon, the god of the sea, were distinguished from Zeus because their powers were seen as extensions of his in their special realms. They were granted separate mythical forms, yet the writ of the Olympian Zeus, "the wolfish," Lykaios, ran everywhere, and he alone judged the winners and losers.

 

Wifes

In a similar tradition established by his father, Cronus, Zeus soon took a divine wife. Hesoid says his first wife was Metis, and from this union Athena was born. His second wife was Themis, the incarnation of law or equality. The first offspring was Horae (the Hours or the Seasons). The Horae were three in number: Eunonia, Dice and Eirene (Order, Justica and Peace), but the Athenians knew them as Thallo, Auxa and Garpo. Their names evoked the principle stages of vegetation: the plant's spouting, growth, and fructification. However, the agricultural aspects of the cults gradually took on social concepts, and the spirits who principally presided over the land were transformed into social concepts pertaining to city life. Then came three daughters known as the Fates or Morae: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos who determined the destiny of every human being. This destiny was symbolized by a thread, which the first Fate drew up from her distaff, the second Fate wound, and the third Fate cut at the end of the lifespan that it represented was over.

Zeus' third wife, Eurynome, bore him three more daughters, the Graces (Charites): Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia. Similar to the Horae the Graces were vegetation spirits and spread the joys of nature in the hearts of men. They lived on Olympus, together with the Muses, with whom they loved to sing and dance. Like the Muses they were companions of Athena and presided over her feminine tasks.

After this Zeus was companion with his daughter Demeter from which union Persephone was born. Then he attached to Mnemosyne who bore him nine daughters, the Muses. Leto was his next wife who bore Zeus Artemis and Apollo. Next the god Hermes was born to Maia, daughter of Atlas. Last in line of Zeus' divine wives was Hera, his sister, who bore him a son Ares, the god of war, and two daughters: Hebe, who personified youthfulness, and whose task for a long time was to serve nectar at celestial banquets until she became the wife of Hercules; and Eileithyia, the female spirit presiding over childbirth.

Even after marrying Zeus was not a faithful husband, for he loved many mortals. These included Alcmene, who bore him Hercules, and a daughter Semele with whom Zeus fathered Dionysus. Furious by his abandonment, Hera bore the god Hephaestus by herself without the help of Zeus.

 

Roman Name

Zeus' Roman name was JupiterA.G.H.


Sources:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, pp. 103-104, 115-116 Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, 1980, p. 163

 


The legend of Zagreus is one of the strangest stories in Greek mythology. Zagreus was born after Zeus disguised himself as a serpent and ravished Persephone. The god wanted to make Zagreus his heir and eventually confer world royalty upon himself. But the Fates decided otherwise. In order to escape Hera's jealousy, Zeus entrusted the little child to the care of Apollo and the Curetes, who hid him in the forests of the Parnassus. But Hera discovered where the child was concealed and ordered the Titans to abduct him. Zagreus changed into a bull, but failed to escape the Titans, who cut him to pieces and devoured him, half raw and half cooked. Athena
and Apollo rushed to the scene of the disaster, but they were too late; they were able to save only pieces of the divine child. But these included the heart of Zagreus, which was still beating. Zeus absorbed it and regenerated the child within his own body, and then he took the name of Iacchus. Following this he became more or less confused with Dionysus and figured in the mysteries of Eleusis. His previous fate made him able to be the patron of any religion of rebirth and immortality, because in the Titan's banquet he had lost his entire mortal life and in returned obtained divine life. A.G.H.


Sources:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 121

 


Uranus, or Ouranos, was the primordial god of the Greeks. Hesiod, in the seventh century BC, in his Theogony traced the genealogy of the Greek gods back to the first divine pair Uranus and Gaea, sky and earth. Their relationship was passionate, since Uranus was "drawing near and spreading out in all directions, eager for love, enveloped the earth in all directions." But this act was also destructive: Uranus permanently coupling with Gaea meant that the sky could hold back the children in the earth's womb. They had six giant sons--Okeanos, Koeos, Kreos, Hyperion, Iapetos, and Cronus--and six daughters--Klymene, Rhea, Tea, Thetis, Mnemosyn, and Phoebe. The twelve collectively were known as the Titans. Uranus fearing their power threw them into the abyss of the Tartarus and chained them their. However, one of these buried offspring, Cronus, the youngest son, was determined to overthrow his sky father. It was said that Gaea conceived a sickle with sharp teeth, for Cronus threw the weapon so well that he cut off Uranus' phallus within the earth's body.

The emasculated sky was separated from the earth, pushed asunder according to the West Asian myth, which relates from his blood Gaea conceived the "strong ones," the Erinyes, the Titans, and other creatures, while the fallen phallus engendered in the sea Aphrodite. Uranus then passed into oblivion while Cronus ruled the universe, taking his sister Rhea for his wife. The Titans ruled and lived in the Golden Age, but Cronus too disposed of his sons because he was warned by an oracle of Gaea the a son also would overthrow him. Cronus knew why this curse had been placed on him, because after overthrowing his father Gaea requested that he free his brothers that Uranus had imprisoned, a request that Cronus ignored.

Eventually this prophecy was fulfilled. By disguise and with the help of Gaea, Rhea saved her youngest son Zeus. He was reared in secrecy until reaching maturity when he overthrew his father and the Titans. A.G.H.


Sources:

Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, 1980, p. 152
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 197

 


Thetis was a Greek goddess of rivers and oceans, one of the daughters of Nereus, who took responsibility with Okeanos for these bodies of water. She was a minor deity who, according to mythology was a mermaid. She was of particular significance as the mother of Achilles, fathered by an unnamed mortal. According to legend, her attempt to make Achilles mortal failed because the heel by which she held him by when immerging him in the river Styxremained dry. She entrusted his education to the centaur Chiron. Nereides, attendant sea creatures, surrounded her, and after Achilles' death she returned to the ocean depths. A.G.H.


Source:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 259

 


Theseus is said to be a legendary hero based on a historical personage, which is why the religious element is missing from his cycle of legends. Uncertainty surrounds the question of his father. One legend says his father was Aegeus, if so, then the lineage of Theseus descend from Erichthonius and the kings of Attica. In this legend, Aegeus unable to have children with his successive wives consulted the oracle of Delphi, but failed to understand the message he received. On his return Aegeus visited Pittheus, the king of Troezen, and told him the message. The king immediately understood the message of the oracle. Pittheus then got Aegeus drunk and laid him beside his daughter, Aethra, and Theseus was born. Another legend concerning the same night says that in a dream Aethra was told in a dream to go and offer sacrifice on an island, where Poseidon violated her. In this tradition, Thesues was the son of a god.

Facts

After the birth of their son Aegeus had Aethra keep Theseus at Troezen, because he did not want to take his son back to Attica where his nephews were attempting to cause disorder. Before leaving Troezen Aegeus hid a sword and a pair of sandals beneath a rock, advising Aethra not to tell the child the secret of his birth until he was old enough to retrieve these things himself. The child grew to a young man; at sixteen he retrieved the sword and sandals and made his way to Athens.

In his travels to Athens Theseus performed feats that made his fame increase. All of his feats helped liberate people from bandits, giants, and other evildoers. When arriving at Athens, his father, Aegeus, was under the power of the sorceress-magician Medea, who had promised to rid him of his sterility. Medea, hearing of the fame of the new arrival, immediately guessed his identity. Aegeus was at first afraid of him, but was persuaded by Madea to invite the young man to a banquet with the intention of poisoning him. When Theseus arrived with the sword and sandals his father immediately recognized him as his son. Aegeus sent Medea into exile and acknowledged Theseus before all of the citizenry.

According to one tale, Medea had tried to test Theseus before persuading his father to poison him; this was that Theseus would fight the Marathonian bull, which was devastating the countryside, perhaps the same Cretan bull that Hercules had retrieved. Theseus overpowered it and offered it as sacrifice to Apollo.

After being recognized as the king's son Theseus' first act was to fight his father's nephews, the Pallantids, who were angered because Aegeus' heritage would not come to them. Dividing into two groups they laid a trap to ambush Theseus who was warned of their plan by the herald Laos. This enabled Theseus to foil their plot and massacre his enemies.

Minotaur

However, things did not advance smoothly for the king's son, and past events were going to lead him into his most famous adventure. A curse had been put on Attica because previous residents had falsely taken the life of Androgeus, the son of Minos, the Minotaur. For this grievous act Minos demanded in retribution that seven maidens and seven youths be sacrifice to him every nine years. When this tribute was about to be paid for the third time, Theseus volunteered as one of the victims. When setting off he was given two sets of sails: black for the onward journey, as it was an occasion for grief; and white for the return trip if he succeeded in killing the Minotaur.

Upon his arrival in Crete Theseus was imprisoned in the labyrinth that housed the monster. However, before his imprisonment he had been noticed by the monster's daughter, Ariadne, who fell in love with him and gave him a ball of thread to enable him to find his way out of the complicated corridors of the labyrinth. Theseus promised to marry her on his return. In the labyrinth Theseus felled Minos with blows, and set off on the return journey with Ariadne and the young people he had saved.

Ariadne

On the returned trip the ship stopped at Naxos, where Ariadne fell asleep on the shore, and when awaking the next day Theseus' ship had already sailed. Conflicting legends say that Theseus loved another woman, or he was ordered by Dionysus to abandon Ariadne whom the god wanted to marry himself. Soon after the ship sailed the god arrived in his chariot and took Ariadne to Olympus.

In the meantime, Theseus, grief-stricken after abandoning Ariadne, forgot to change the ship's sail from black to white. Aegeus, his father, watching for him on the shore, when seeing the black sail immediately thought Theseus had been killed and threw himself into the sea; and from whence it has been called the Aegean Sea. Theseus' first task after becoming king was to bring all of the scattered villagers and farmers within the city of Athens. Next he constructed the main monuments, organized the constitution, minted coinage, which were among his historical contributions.

During his reign there was the war of the Seven against Thebes and Theseus' expedition against the Amazons. While fighting the Amazons Theseus deceitfully abducted one of them, Antiope. In attempt to regain their sister the Amazons marched on Athens, a decisive battle occurred near Pnyx where the warrior-women were defeated and signed a peace pact. The cause of this war is also recounted as follows: Theseus married Antiope with her consent, but, after she bore him a son, Hippolytus, he repudiated her to marry Phaedra, a sister of Ariadne. Then the Amazons came to demand justice for Antiope, who, however, perished in the battle.

A series of legends centered on the friendship of Theseus and the Lapith prince Peirithous. The latter became jealous of Theseus' reputation, so he stole his cattle and was preparing to fight him when was suddenly struck with admiration for his adversary. He offered his friendship instead, which Theseus accepted. The two fought together against the centaurs.

During their friendship the two one day decided they both would marry daughters of Zeus. They first abducted Helen for Theseus. Helen was not yet of marrying age so was secretly taken to Aphidna where she was guarded by Aethra. But her brothers, the Dioscuri, freed her during Theseus' absence. Then the two companions set off for the underworld to win PersephoneHades received them amiably and invited them to sit at his table. But the chairs they sat in had magical properties that held the two captive until one day when Hercules ventured through the underworld and won permission for Theseus to leave. Peirithous remained rooted in his chair of forgetfulness for forever where Hades had committed him.

Wife

When returning to the world of light and his city Theseus found a troubling situation. His wife Phaedra had fallen in love with Hippolytus, the son that Antiope, the Amazon had borne him, and had told the boy of her love. Hippolytus was totally hostile to such passion and refused her with indignation. When seeing Theseus, Phaedra was in torn clothes, pretending to be mourning and distraught because, as she said, Hippolytus had attempted to violate her. Theseus became violently angry, he wanted to kill his son but knew he dared not do so himself. He remembered the promise that Poseidon had given him, the god would make any three wishes that he made be fulfilled. Theseus asked that his son be put to death. As Hippolytus was driving his chariot in the region of Troezen a monster rose from the sea and so frightened the horses that they broke loose and dragged Hippolytus to his death. When hearing of the tragedy Phaedra hung herself in remorse.

Death

Theseus found no comfort in his beloved city of Athens, different factions shared power and he recognized he was king in name only. Sensing the he would never regain real control of the kingdom he went into exile cursing the Aegean. He retired too the island of Scyrus, where on pretense, King Lycomedes welcomed him favorably, but took him up onto a mountainside and cast him into the sea. Theseus' death went unnoticed, but after the after the Medic wars the oracle of Delphi instructed the Athenians to bring the ashes of Theseus back to his own country. A.G.H.


Source:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, pp. 146-149

 


Thea, or Theia, was a Greek goddess, the consort of Hyperion, and mother of Helios, Eos (dawn), and Selene (moon). A.G.H.


Source:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 259

 


Thanatos was a Greek minor god of death. In legend he was one of the two sons of Nyx, and resided in a remote cave, which he shared with his twin brother Hypnos, the god of sleep, by the river Lethe. A.G.H.


Source:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 258-259

 


Tethys, a Greek sea goddess and one of the Titans, was the daughter of Cronus and Gaea as well as being both sister and consort of OkeanosA.G.H.


Source:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 257

 


 

Styx was the son of Night; he had fought on the side of the Olympians, and for this reason Zeus accorded him the privilege of being guarantor of vows made by the gods. Whenever a god wanted to bind himself by a vow, a ewer of water was drawn from the Styx and taken back to Olympus as a witness to the vow. If the god perjured himself, he was deprived of breath for an entire year, and for nine years he lived away from divine assemblies. The name of Styx was given a stream in Arcadia whose waters were supposed to have harmful properties; it was a strong poison broken up by metals that were thrown into it. This stream was considered to be a resurgence of the underworld river.

In another tradition, Styx was a Greek chthonic underworld goddess, the daughter of Okeanos and Tethys, and mother of Nike. She was the deity of the river Styx beside which the gods swore their oaths. A.G.H.

 


 

Sources:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 136