Secretum secretorum - Aspects of Greek Mythology
Background for Ars Magica sagas

The Theogony

When considering the ancient tales of the predecessors of the Greek gods we would do well to first consider our ancient sources known or assumed to contain information on the earliest stages in the world and the Greek gods who peopled it. We have first of all the authority the Greeks themselves most revered, Hesiod, whose Theogony (not necessarily Hesiod's title) offers a brief account of the origins of the cosmos as preface to the extolling of Zeus' rule. Since the purpose of the poem is largely to contrast Zeus' organization of the world with the absence of such order in previous times, the lack of any great detail in this account is not surprising. Whether Greek storytelling had developed further details by the seventh century B.C. is a more difficult question. Homer speaks only rarely of the period before Zeus; references to Kronos and the other Titans in Tartaros (where Zeus put them), to Okeanos as the genesis of all the gods (whatever that means), to Tethys as caring for Hera, and to the first union of Zeus and Hera unknown to their parents, are about the extent of the information that the Iliad and the Odyssey offer. Such brief glimpses guarantee at least that Homer knew of an era before the reign of Zeus, and of Zeus' seizure of power from his father. Nevertheless, we cannot be sure that the poet possessed anything like complete stories of these topics or, if he did, that they were the same as Hesiod's.

Of other works to be considered in this context, the most important was probably the lost epic Titanomachia with its account of the battle between the Olympians and the Titans, and presumably what led up to that battle. As always, discussion of such a source inevitably involves us in the problems connected with the antiquity of the Epic Cycle: we simply do not know if the events recounted in those poems were concocted in a post-Homeric/Hesiodic period to flesh out earlier references, or drawn from a genuine pre-Homeric tradition, or combined from both. Photios does tell us that the Epic Cycle began with the union of Gaia and Ouranos and the birth of the Hundred-Handers and Kyklopes (as in Hesiod), but it is not absolutely certain that he is referring to the Titanomachia.On the other hand, definitely from that work is the information that Ouranos is a son of Aither (Tit frr 1,2 PEG), that Helios sailed in a cauldron (fr 8 PEG), and that Aigaion, son of Gaia and Pontos, fought on the side of the Titans (fr 3 PEG). These points suggest that the Titanomachia, like Hesiod's poem, contained some description of the beginning of things as preface to the account of the battle. On the other hand, the first and last items are in direct contrast to Hesiod (if, as in Homer, Aigaion and Briareos are the same figure), so that the author of the Titanomachia may have used a version not simply fuller than what Hesiod has left us but in some respects different. In all, we really know very little of the extent to which the work may have resembled, influenced or copied Hesiod's account.

Still other sources dealing with first causes bring us a variety of details, not always consistent with what we have seen above. In the sixth century, there surface (in fragments) the versions of early mythographers and philosophers such as Akousilaos of Argos and Pherekydes of Syros, and an entire Theogony was credited to the Kretan Epimenides, with Aer and Nyx as the two first principles. Akousilaos would be extremely valuable if only we had more of him (as in Hesiod, everything began from Chaos); Pherekydes of Syros seems for his part more interested in the possibilities of new philosophic beliefs than in preserving traditions.

As for Epimenides, the Theogony recorded under his name is probably a product of the fifth century; with its novel ideas (Aphrodite as daughter of Kronos) it is no less interesting for that, but very little survives. Definitely of the fifth century is Pherekydes of Athens, who like Hesiod produced an account (or section thereof) referred to as a "Theogony"; Typhoeus and Tityos were included, and we hear of a few other minor gods, but we cannot assess the scope of the work. Perhaps a bit later is the Eumolpia ascribed to "Mousaios," where all things began from a union of Tartaros and Nyx, although the poem seems to have focused primarily on Zeus.

Of post-Archaic sources the most obviously relevant is the first section of Apollodoros' Bibliotheke, where we find an account mirroring for the most part that of Hesiod. There are, however, several differences, notably that the Titans released the Kyklopes and Hundred-Handers before Kronos reimprisons them, Gaia and Ouranos predict to Kronos his overthrow by an offspring, Zeus on Krete is cared for by Adrasteia and Ida (daughters of Melisseus) and guarded by the Kouretes, and Zeus defeats Kronos with the aid of Metis and an emetic. On the other hand, Briareos here fulfills the same role as in Hesiod (i.e., supporter of Zeus). Thus (again, if Briareos and Aigaion are the same figure), we might well conclude that while Apollodoros did not use Hesiod exclusively for his account, neither can he have drawn exclusively from the Titanomachia, since there Aigaion aids the Titans. He might, of course, have fused the two works together, but similarities with Orphic versions have prompted the suggestion that an Orphic Theogony (as part of the Epic Cycle) was his source.

Primal Elements

In the beginning, according to the Theogony, there was (or came into being, since the Greek will allow both) Chaos, a neuter noun meaning "yawning" or "gap" (Th 116). Between what objects, previously, Chaos might have been a gap, Hesiod does not say, and perhaps did not know; since this entity comes first, there is logically nothing to frame it. Later references in the poem suggest a place beneath the earth but not beyond Tartaros, one capable of feeling the heat of Zeus' thunderbolts (Th 813-14, 700; cf. 740, where a chasma is located at the roots of Tartaros and Earth). If this is right, then Chaos is a kind of foundation. Chaos is followed by the appearance of Gaia, the Earth, broad-bosomed and a secure seat for the gods yet to come (Th 117-18). Next is Tartaros (here in the neuter plural form Tartara), mistily dark in the recesses of the earth, and then Eros, the limb-loosener who conquers the hearts of mortals and gods (Th 119-22). Tartaros is elsewhere in the poem the lowest part of the cosmos (even lower than Chaos: Th 814) and the place of imprisonment for certain figures. On one occasion, however, he is sufficiently personified to father a child (Typhoeus) on Gaia (Th 821-22).

As for Eros, the third of these primal forces, the remainder of Hesiod's poem mentions him on one occasion only, as attendant at Aphrodite's birth (Th 201); thus his chief function here seems to be as symbol of the process of sexual union and procreation that will populate the world. As a god he does not appear in Homer at all (note, however, the impact of love at Od 18.208-13). Plato quotes a dactylic couplet, possibly from a Homeric Hymn, in which he is called Pteros because of his wings (Phaidros 252b). In Simonides we first find his familiar role as the offspring of Aphrodite and Ares, but this was not as commonly agreed upon as we might suppose: Sappho makes him the child of Ouranos and Gaia according to one source, of Ouranos and Aphrodite according to another, while Alkaios calls him the offspring of Zephyros and Iris, Akousilaos that of Erebos and Nyx or Aither and Nyx, and the undatable "Olen" the child of Eileithuia (Paus. 9.27.2). Such variation is obviously due to the appeal of allegory in the case of this particular figure, and perhaps inability to pin down his identity. His most common parentage in later times - that of Aphrodite and Ares - is probably no more than a by-product of their own popularity as a couple. In Anakreon, Eros comports himself as the playful tempter to love, the role that later becomes his stock-in-trade. Yet the bow and arrows with which we are so familiar do not appear in literature until the late fifth century, when Euripides speaks of them as the god's weapons of love in the Medeia (530-31), and in the Iphigeneia at Aulis as producing good and bad effects (543-51); previously, Sappho has used the notion of being shaken when she discusses his power.

Next, and definitely born from Chaos, arise Erebos (Darkness) and black Nyx (Night) (Th 123-25). Erebos has virtually no character of his own; in both the Iliad and Odyssey, the word is used to indicate the Underworld (Il 8.368, 16.326-27; Od 10.528, 11.37), while later in the Theogony it becomes the place below the earth into which Menoitios is thrown down and from which the Hundred-Handers are brought up (Th 514-15, 669). This Erebos does, however, mate with Nyx (the first sexual union) to produce Aither (Brightness) and Hemere (Day), figures who constitute in the remainder of the poem strictly physical aspects of the cosmos (compare the description of their alternate forays out into the world at Th 748-57).

Nyx's other children, produced without the aid of Erebos or any other partner, are detailed subsequently in the poem: Moros (Doom, Destiny), Ker (Destruction, Death), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (sleep), the Oneiroi (Dreams), Momos (Blame), Oizus (Pain, Distress), the Hesperides who care for the golden apples and fruit trees beyond the streams of Okeanos, the Moirai (fates), here named as Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos, the Keres who punish the transgressions of gods and men (unless these lines refer to the Moirai: see below), Nemesis (Indignation and Retribution), Apate (Deceit), Philotes (Love, here probably sexual), Geras (Old Age) and Eris (Strife) (Th 211-25).

Some of these figures are strictly allegorized personifications, but others do have occasional functions to serve in the myths. The scholia minora to Iliad 1.5-6 tell us, for example, that Momos advised Zeus to marry Thetis to a mortal and himself beget a daughter (Helen) in order to precipitate the Trojan War; the scholiast adds that the story is found in the Kypria, though the lines he then quotes from that poem would seem to preclude Momos' role. Apollo sends Thanatos and Hypnos (at the command of Zeus) to carry the body of Sarpedon back to Lykia in book 16 of the Iliad (681-83). Homer specifically calls them twins, although he does not name the mother. Hypnos also appears in Iliad 14, when Hera approaches him with a proposal to lull Zeus to sleep (Il 14.231-91). In reply, he reminds her that once before he performed this service, when Herakles was leaving Troy, and that Zeus, upon awakening, would have thrown him into the sea had he not fled to Nyx, whom Zeus feared to anger. Nonetheless, the bargain is concluded upon Hera's promise of Pasithea, one of the Charites, to wife, and Hypnos awaits his task in the nighest fir on Ida, disguised as a bird. Subsequently, he even exceeds his commission by reporting events to Poseidon, so that the latter might stir up the Achaians (Il 14.354-60).

Elsewhere, Hypnos and Thanatos are mentioned together again in the Theogony's description of the ends of the earth, where Nyx and these two of her children have their homes (Th 756-66). Here Hypnos is described as roaming the earth with calm and benevolence for men, but Thanatos as having an iron pitiless heart, which makes him hated even by the gods. In fact, Thanatos is a curious divinity; Hades' role as lord of the dead, and Hermes' as conductor of souls, leaves this personification of death very little to do in most myths. Nor is he always impossible to defeat: Pherekydes relates how, sent by Zeus to claim Sisyphos, the god is instead held in strong bonds by his intended victim, so that no one can die; finally, Ares contrives some way to release him. Thanatos also had a role in Phrynichos' lost Alkestis, apparently appearing on stage (as in Euripides' play) and cutting off a lock of his victim's hair to consecrate her. Whether he, like Euripides' Thanatos, wrestled with Herakles and lost we do not know, although it seems likely. Last, he is mentioned in Aischylos' Niobe as a god who loves not gifts, and from whom persuasion stands apart; probably this is for the most part poetic personification of an abstract concept. On literature Hypnos has little to do after the Iliad, but we encounter him frequently in artistic versions of Herakles' slaying of Alkyoneus, where as a small Eros-like figure, he hovers overhead or actually sits on the sleeping giant.

Of Nyx's other children, the Oneiroi as a race of dreams form part of the landscape to the far west (beyond Okeanos) on the suitor's journey to the Underworld at Odyssey 24.12, while a single destructive Oneiros is Zeus' instrument to deceive Agamemnon at Iliad 2.5-6. The Hesperides are apparently included in the same family by virtue of their association with evening and the West, although one might have expected their name to indicate descent from a god of evening, Hesperos (so Paus. 5.17.2). Elsewhere in the Theogony they are called "shrill-voiced" (Th 275: several post-Archaic sources make them singers) and located near Atlas and the Gorgons at the limit of Okeanos, toward the edge of night (Th 517-18). Hesiod will later describe as well the snake offspring of Phorkys and Keto who guards similar apples in the hollows of dark earth at its limits (a difficult geographical concept: Th 333-35).

The initial reference to the Hesperides in the Theogony is the only mention in Archaic literature to their role as tenders of the golden apples (the next preserved allusion is Euripides' Hipp 742). Pherekydes tells us that Gaia brought apple trees bearing golden fruit to Hera as a gift on the occasion of her wedding, and that Hera promised to plant them in the garden of the gods near Atlas, with a snake (Apollonios is the first to call him Ladon: AR 4.1396-98) to guard the apples from the depredations of Atlas' daughters; another source adds in this connection that Pherekydes made the Hesperides daughters of Zeus and Themis (Jacoby argues confusion with the Eridanos Nymphai here). Akousilaos instead makes the Harpuiai the guardians if Philodemos is to be trusted. From the latter writer we learn that the author of the epic Titanomachia also discussed the matter, but Philodemos' text breaks off just as the guardians are about to be named.

Of Archaic poets, Mimneros too places the Hesperides in the West, and a fragment of Stesichoros describes their golden homes on a lovely island, presumably in connection with Herakles' acquisition of the apples as part of his Labors. For Apollonios they are three in number (Hespere, Erytheis, Aigle) and located in Libya, where the Argonautaika encounter them mourning the recent death of the snake, guardian of the apples, at the hands of Herakles (AR 4.1396-1449). The later account of Apollodoros locates garden and Hesperides, instead, near the Hyperboreans (thus presumably in the far north), and names them Aigle, Erytheia, Hesperia, and Arethousa. The Hellenistic historian Agroitas and Diodoros Siculus both discuss the possibility that what the Hesperides guarded were after all sheep, not apples (since the Greek word méla can mean both); Diodoros also adds an unlikely tale about one Hesperis, daughter of Atlas' brother Hesperos, who lay with Atlas and became the mother of seven Hesperides.

Next are the Moirai. Homer mentions them just once by their collective name, at Iliad 24.49, when they are described as a singular Moira who spins with her thread a particular fate for Hektor at his birth, and Aisa substitutes for Moira in a similar phrase at Iliad 18.20.127-28. For its part, Odyssey 7.197-98 speaks of both Aisa and the stern Klothes (spinners) jointly in the same role; these later are surely the Moirai under a descriptive epithet (the form Klothes is elsewhere unattested). Finally, even Zeus (Od 4.207-8), or the gods as a whole (Od 1.17-18), can do the spinning at times. Moira as a singular noun is quite common in both epics, but except for the above instances never clearly personified.

In Hesiod we first find the goddesses' number and individual names: Klotho (the Spinner), Lachesis (the Apportioner), and Atropos (the Unavoidable), who give good and evil to men at their birth (Th 217-19, 904-6). In the earlier of these two passages, where they and the Keres are children of Nyx, these individual names follow awkwardly in 218 after the mention of the Keres, as does the subsequent task of pursuing wrongdoers in 219; very likely both these lines (West brackets them) are in fact intruders, with the wrongdoers originally hunted down by the Keres. The later passage at 904 revises their genealogy in accordance with the new order and makes them the offspring of Themis and Zeus, who is the source of their power. In the Hesiodic Aspis, the three resurface (on the shield itself), with Atropos the shortest and oldest (258-63), but these lines too are probably interpolated; certainly the following reference to a role in battle, if genuine, indicates again the preceding Keres. Elsewhere the Moirai are not much in evidence. Klotho appears in Pindar's Olympian 1 as the goddess supervising the rebirth of Pelops (1.26: a rare story of bringing the dead to life, in seeming violation of moira, and perhaps invented by Pindar), and Lachesis is present in the same author's Paian 12 at the birth of Artemis and Apollo to Leto, as well as at the allotment of honors to the Olympians in Olympian 7. In Olympian 6 all three attend (with Eileithuia) the birth of Iamos, and likewise in Olympian 10 they are present at Herakles' founding of the Olympian games. More unusually, in a fragment of Pindar they bring Themis as wife to Zeus, thus suggesting that they cannot here be his children by her. Another fragment, which may be simply poetic recasting, calls Tyche the most powerful Moira. In this connection we may also note an unassigned lyric fragment with a prayer to Aisa, Klotho, and Lachesis, the daughters of Nyx (1018 PMG).

Turning to Aischylos, we find Apollo accused of deceiving and persuading the Moirai (in the matter of Admetos) with the help of wine -- a most surprising notion of which no other trace exists (Eum 723-28: one wonders what Pyrynichos' Alkestis might have said on the matter). The Prometheus Desmotes mentions them in a more respectful vein, as helmsmen (with the Erinyes) of necessity (PD 515-16); to Io's query whether they are stronger than Zeus there is, alas, no direct answer. One other story in which we might expect to encounter them is that of Althaia and the brand given to her at Meleagros' birth. Bakchylides tells this tale in his Ode 5 (140-44), but names simply moira as weaving such a fate for Meleagros; how Althaia learned of the brand's significance, or who created such a situation, we are not told. Phrynichos dramatized the myth in his Pleuroniaia, and there the Moirai may have played a greater role, though presumably not on stage, since the action surely revolved around Meleagros' death years later. As matters stand we must turn to Ovid, Apollodoros and Hyginus for accounts of their involvement in this tale (Met 8.451-57; ApB 1.8.1; Fab 171). Of the three, Hyginus has the most interestung feature, that when they appeared to Althaia Klotho promised that the child would be magnanimous (or noble?), Lachesis that he would be strong, and Atropos that he would love as long as the brand on the heart lasted, conceivably a gift rather than a curse. Whatever the details, it is an odd story -- not fully in accord with other early accounts of Meleagros' fate, and the only preserved suggestion that the Moirai ever communicate directly with mortals regarding their lot. In art they are virtually unknown, but they do appear (as four women, inscribed "Moirai") among the guests at Thetis' wedding on both the François Krater (Florence 4209) and the Erskine Dinos (London 1971.11-1.1).

Closely linked to the Moirai, it seems, are the Keres. Homer knows this word, which means "death" or "destruction," in the plural, but in both poems it appears simply as a synonum for death or divinities brining death (e.g., Il 2.302, 18.535-38; Od 17.547). Of these, the Iliad 18 passage (from the description of Achilleus' shield) is especially noteworthy for its picture of a Ker in bloodstained garment on the battlefield, dragging away a victim by the foot. In hesiod, on the other hand, if Theogony 218-19 is indeed an interpolation, the Keres pursue wrongdoing of men and gods, never ceasing from their anger until they have brought evil to the transgressor; such a role sounds far more like the task usually assigned to the Erinyes. Subsequently, Keres appear in Mimnermos as twin bearers of evils to men, the one of old age, the other of death (2.5-7 W), while on the shield in the Hesiodic Aspis they fight with each other to drink the blood of the newly dead or dying, gnashing their white teeth and snatching up bodies with their claws (Aspis 248-57), and on the chest of Kypselos a single Ker stands behind Polyneikes, displaying teeth like those of a wild beast and long hooked nails (Paus 5.19.6). These last examples again remind us of Aischylos' Erinyes, who may have taken over some of the functions and character of the Keres. Hesiod's own Erinyes are the offspring of Ouranos' blood, as we shall see shortly.

Last of Nyx's children among those requiring comment are Nemesis and Eris. Nemesis (Indignation or Retribution), although she had a cult at Rhamnous in Attika, would scarcely qualify as a mythological figure, were it not for a fragment cited from the Kypria. There we are told that Zeus pursued Nemesis with amorous intent, that she fled over land and sea, changing into every form of animal (including fish) to avoid him, and that, finally captured, she bore to the god a daughter, Helen. Philodemos adds that in the same poem Zeus too in the form of a goose pursued her (implying that she had herself become one), and that their mating resulted in an egg from which Helen was born. Later sources confirm this union of birds (whether geese or swans), with the egg thus produced brought to or found by Leda so that she might raise Helen just as she does when (as in the Iliad) the child is hers; the story was in some way parodied in Kratinos' lost comedy Nemesis.

By contrast, Eris (Strife) is largely just a personification of her name, but Zeus does send her to rouse the Achaians (by shouting) in a memorable passage in Iliad 11 where she comes holding the teras of battle (Il 11.3-14). She also plays one crucial role in Greek mythology as instigator of the Judgment of Paris. Homer knows of this event but just barely alludes to it in the Iliad (24.27-30), with no direct mention of Eris. Our epitome of the Kypria, however, clearly makes her the guilty party (though as part of the plan of Zeus and Themis), and adds that she stirred up the quarrel among the three goddesses at the wedding feast for Peleus and Thetis. That she was not invited to the feast, or used an apple marked "for the fairest," are details that may or may not have been in the Kypria; we find them first in Loukianos, Hyginus and apple only in Apollodoros, although the apple probably goes back to the fifth century in art. Sophokles wrote a play entitled Eris, but nothing survives to indicate even the plot.

In art we find Eris first on the Chest of Kypselos, where she stands between Aias and Hektor, having the most base (aischiste) appearance (Paus 5.19.2), and then named on the tondo of a mid-sixth-century Black-Figure cup, where she is portrayed as quite normal in appearance apart from her wings and winged sandals (Berlin: CH F1775). The later fifth century (c 430 B.C.) Adds to this a Red-Figure calyx krater confirming the narrative of the Kypria: while the lower section presents the Judgment of Paris in its usual form, the upper shows Eris with her hand on the shoulder of Themis (both named) as the two lean toward each other in animated discussion. Hesiod's account goes on to list Eris' own children, born with no father mentioned and virtually all allegories: Ponos (Labor), Lethe (Forgetfulness), Limos (Famine), Algea (Pains), Hysminai (Combats), Machai (Battles), Phonoi (slaughterings), Androktasiai (Slayings of Men), Neikea (Quarrels), Pseudea (Falsehoods), Logoi (Words), Amphillogiai (Unclear Words), Dysnomia (Bad Government), Horkos (Oath), and Ate (Folly) (Th 226-32). Of this list, only the last has any identity, and she, when she appears in the Iliad to deceive Zeus (in the matter of Herakles' birthright: Il 19.91-133), is a daughter of Zeus himself (no mother is mentioned). With regard to that story it may be noted that Hera is the one who actually carries out the deception by rearranging the order of births; Ate merely clouds Zeus' mind so that he does not notice the trick.

Gaia and Ouranos

From Nyx and her children we return in Hesiod to Gaia, who brings into being (1) Ouranos (Sky) to enclose her and be home for the gods (does this mean she foresees the coming of the Olympians?), (2) The Oureau (Mountains), and (3) Pontos (Sea), all expressly without sexual congress (Th 126-32). The Ourea are clearly just a feature of the landscape, but Gaia mates with both Ouranos and Pontos to produce further offspring. To Ouranos she bears first twelve relatively normal children, six male and six female, whom Hesiod will later call "Titans": Okeanos, Koios, Kreios, Hyperion, Iapetos, Kronos, Theia, Rheia, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, and Tethys (Th 132-38). Of these, Kronos is named expressly as the youngest and "crooked-planning" (probably the sense Hesiod gave to the word, even if originally it referred rather to Kronos' sickle), the most terrible of the group, who hated his father.

Next born are the Kyklopes, three in number, and like to the gods in all things save for the single round eye in their foreheads (Th 139-46). Their names - Brontes, Steropes, and Arges - are connected with lightning and thunder, and indeed they will be the ones to forge the thunderbolt for Zeus.

Last come three more brothers, the Hundred-Handers, the most monstrous of all with their fifty heads and hundred hands, Kottos, Briareos (or Obriareos), and Gyges (Th 147-53). What follows in Hesiod is not entirely clear -- Ouranos hates his children, perhaps just the last six but more likely all eighteen, and as soon as they are born imprisons them deep within the earth, that is, both underground and in the womb of their mother. The reason for his hatred may be their terrible appearance, though Hesiod does not quite say this (Th 155 comes close to implying it as the reason). In any event, he delights in the deed, and Gaia in her anger and distress fiashions a sickle of adamant, after which she asks her children to take revenge on their father. Only Kronos has the courage to volunteer, and is placed by his mother in ambush (inside her body, we will understand, if he too is a prisoner) to await Ouranos. When the latter comes to lie with Gaia, bringing with him night, and stretches out beside her, his son reaches out with the sickle and castrates him. The severed testicles are then thrown behind Kronos into the sea, while Gaia receives the drops of blood that fall from them, and thus produces in time the Erinyes, the Gigantes, and the Melian Nymphai. The testicles themselves float past the island of Kythera to Cyprus, where Aphrodite is born and, accompanied from the very beginning by Eros and Himeros (Desire), assumes her role as goddess of erotic encounters (Th 154-206). In passing, Hesiod makes explicit the deriviation of her cult titles ("Kytherea" and "Kyprogeneia") from Kythera and Cyprus, as well as the supposed formation of her name from the foam (aphros) surrounding the testicles. This section of the Theogony then concludes with Ouranos' prediction that retribution will come to the Titans for their deed (Th 207-10).

Homer relates none of this; indeed, in Iliad 14, Okeanos and Tethys seem elevated to the status accorded Ouranos and Gaia in Hesiod (Il 14.200-210, 245-46), while Aphrodite is throughout the poem clearly the daughter of Zeus (by the Okeanid Dione, Il 5.370-71). The first of these points is especially difficult to assess: Hera tells Zeus as part of her Trugrede that she is on her way to the ends of the earth to visit "Okeanos the genesis of gods and mother Tethys, they who raised me well in their home, receiving me from Rheia when Zeus cast Kronos down beneath the earth and the barren sea." Mother Tethys here need be no more than a stepmother to Hera herself, and the phrase "genesis of gods" might be simply a formulaic epithet indicating the numberless rivers and springs descended from Okeanos; so, for example, at Iliad 21.195-97 he is that from which all rivers and springs and the whole sea derive. But in Hera's subsequent interview tih Hypnos, the latter describes the great river as the "genesis for all," leaving us to wonder whether Homer could have supposed Okeanos and Tethys the parents of the Titans (Kronos' father is never specified), for how else can they fit this description? The second part of Hera's statement also seems problematic, for in the Theogony she is swallowed by her father and presumably emerges from his belly full grown, ready to aid her brother; even if she is not in that poem swallowed, as might be argued following Hyginus (Fab 139), she should be full grown by the time of the overthrow, and have no need of a nurse. Just possibly Homer, in contrast to Hesiod, did think of her as still an infant on re-emerging, and thus needing to be cared for, though if he believed this true of all five siblings he probably did not believe in a general battle between Olympians and Titans. Elsewhere, for what it is worth, the Iliad on several occasions calls the Olympians "Ouraniones," presumably meaning "descendants of Ouranos" (Il 1.570: cf. Il 5.898, where the same term clearly applies to the Titans). "Ouraniones" is also used twice at the end of the Theogony, both times of the Olympians (Th 919, 929). In Akousilaos, Ouranos certainly seems to hold his Hesiodic position, since he is said to have thrown the Hundred-Handers down into Tartaros, lest they be greater than he.

From a later time we have Plato's Timaios, where the genealogy offered looks very much like an attempt to bridge a presumed Homer/Hesiod divergence in Iliad 14: Ouranos and Gaia here beget Okeanos and Tethys who in their turn beget Kronos, Rheia, and the others, plus Phorkys (Tim 40d-e). Just possibly, of course, it is instead an early tradition, and the basis for Homer's description of Keanos. Also puzzling are the scattered references to Ouranos as Akmonides, or son of Akmon. A comment that this genealogy appeared in Hesiod is probably a mistake based on manuscript corruption; it first appears for certain in the Hellenistic Simias' Pteruges (c. 290 B.C.: Eros succeeds Akmonides as ruler of the world) and in Eustathios, who ascribes it to Alkman (with "Akmon" derived from the Greek for "unwearying": 61 PMG). Perhaps the word was not in the beginning intended as a proper name. As a matter of strict accuracy, we should also in passing observe that neither Iliad nor Odyssey ever uses the term "Titan: to denote anuthing except those Titans under the earth with Kronos; as a result we cannot say with certainity, however likely it may seem, that Homer thought of figures such as Hyperion, Themis, Mnemosyne, Leto and Atlas as related to Kronos, or indeed that he thought of their parentage at all.

The second difference between Homer and Hesiod here, that of the otherwise unpretentious Dione (Domer says nothing about her parents either) as Aphrodite's mother, is at least in keeping with the Iliad's general tendency to avoid the magical and fantastic, at any rate in comparison with lost epics (for more details see Griffin, J. 1977. "The Epic Cycle and the Uniqueness of Homer." JHS 97:39-53). Yet we have no basis on which to insist that Homer invented rather than selected a version. The beginning of the Theogony lists a Dione (together with Hebe) among those divinities whom the poem will celebrate (Th 17), as if Hesiod involuntarily recognized the Homeric version (or a line was interpolated here); later on in the poem a Dione will appear as one of the Okeanides (Th 353). Apollodoros follows Homer, but with Dione given the rank of a thirteenth offspring of Ouranos and Gaia (ApB 1.1.3). This is probably an attempt to elevate her status after the fact, since later in the same work a Dione is one of the Nereides (ApB 1.2.7), but we cannot be certain that Apollodoros did not find it in early sources. The usual interpretation of Dione's name as a feminine form of Zeus, if correct, may also indicate a greater early importance than Hesiod allows. The epic Titanomachia, with its presumed beginnings from Gaia and Ouranos (the latter sprung from Aither), might have contributed much in this regard. Different altogether is the view if Epimenides Theogony: a two-line fragment quoted by a scholiast makes Aphrodite, the Moirai, and the Erinyes all offspring of the same father, whom the scholiast identifies as Kronos. One other point of interest comes to us from Proklos' comments on the Timaios: he cites seven lines of a hexameter poem, probably of Orphic origin, in which Okeanos ponders whether to join Kronos and his other brothers in the attack on their ather, as their mother desires, or to remain safely at home. As the fragment breaks off we leave Okeanos in his halls, brooding and angry with his mother and especially his brothers; Proklos tells us that he did not in fact join them.

As for other details in Hesiod's account, the Kyklopes of this early period could scarcely be more different from those encountered by Odysseus in Book 9 of the Odyssey. The latter are expressly described as uncultured shepherds, sons of Poseidon (actually Homer says only that Polyphemos is a son of Poseidon) who have little use for the gods and share with their Hesiodic namesakes just the features of the single eye (if in fact they are all so equipped, and not just Polyphemos: the general description at Od 9.106-15 says nothing on the subject). In the later sections of the Theogony, the Ouranian Kyklopes recede into the background as the Hundred-Handers become more prominent. We will certainly expect them to be immortal, and yet the Ehoiai presents them as slain by Apollo, presumably in anger over the killing of his son Asklepios by Zeus' thunderbolt. Pherekydes confirms this story and motive but makes Apollo's victims the sons of the Kyklopes. And a fragment of Pindar suggests that Zeus himself killed them, lest they forge weapons for anyone else. The Catalogue Poet's version of their fate reappears in the prologue to Euripides' Alkestis as motive for Apollo's exile; the latter history of the Hundred-Handers will be considered in connection with the battle of the Olympians and Titans.

Of the birth of the Erinyes, later authors say little, save for the Epimenides Theogony and Aischylos, who makes them daughters of Nyx in his Eumenides Such a descent is logical enough, yet Hesiod's version, in which they are sprung from an act of violence by son against father, seems highly consistent with their general character in Homer. In the Iliad, Amyntor calls upon them to curse Phoinix after the son has taken his father's concubine (Il 9.453-56); Althaua's prayers are heard by them when her son Meleagros kills her brother(s) (Il 15.204); and Athena suggests to Ares that his defeat is caused by them because he abandoned his mother's side in the Trojan War (Il 21.412-14). Likewise in the Odyssey, Telamachos speaks of the potential curses of Penelope if he should expel her from his house, and Odysseus describes the Erinyes of Epikaste working against her son Oidipous (Od 2.134-36; 11.279-80). In all the above instances an intrafamilial offense, usually child against parent, is involved. At other moments, however, a broader range of functions seems indicated. In Iliad 19, the Erinyes are described as punishing under the earth those who have sworn false oaths, and at the end of the same book they, rather than the Moirai, check the voice of the horse Xanthos, while at Odyssey 17.475 we hear of the Erinyes of beggars. Several other references remain uncertain, including the complaint of the Erinyes against Melampous (Od 15.233-34), and the handing over to them of the daughters of Pandareos (to be attendants?: Od 20.77-78), though in this last case one of the daughters (not necessarily one of those handed over) seems to have by mistake killed her own son (Od 19.518-23 and scholia ad loc.).

In most of these passages the actual chastisement imposed by the Erinyes remains lamentably unclear. True, Phoinix is afflicted with childlessness as the curse of his father requested, but Meleagros suffers nothing like the death Althaia prayed for (unless we are to understand that this happens subsequently), nor does Ares' humiliation at the hands of Athena seem very substantial. Again, in the Odyssey, Melampous' quest suffers some obstacles but is ultimately quite successful, and it is difficult to say how the Erinyes might punish Oidipous if he neither blinds himself nor loses his kingdom. Only in the cases of the hypothetical oath-breaker and the daughters of Pandareos do they seem to act directly, and even then we do not learn exactly what they do.

Post-Homeric sources add to this picture some new ideas on their activites. Theogony 472-73 suggests that Kronos' overthrow will be in part aided by the Erinus of Ouranos, although Zeus seems to do all the work; line 473 apparently makes the Erinys concerned about Kronos' treatment of his children, but this is a difficult verse grammatically and may well be an explanatory interpolation. In the Works & Days Erinyes assist at the birth of Horkos (Oath) from Eris, thus confirming their interest in falsely sworn statements (W&D 803-4), and Herekleitos remarks that if the sun should stray from its course the Erinyes, helpers of Dike, would track it down (22B94: this reassertion of natural law on their part seems of a piece with the halting of Xanthos' speech in Iliad 19). Moreover, an unassigned lyric fragment appears to make them responsible for the changing of Hekabe into a dog (965 PMG).

But the Erinyes' best-known roles in Greek myth are their pursuit of the matricides Orestes and Alkmaion, and their involvement with the family of Oidipous. Of the harassment of Orestes Homer knows nothing, but since his Orestes serves as a model for the punishment of faithless wives, such a silence is hardly surprising. Stesichoros at least told the story, if a papyrus commentary on his value as a source may be trusted; apparently he had Apollo give Orestes a bow with which the latter might ward off the goddesses. Subsequently, of course, the tale appears in Aischylos' Eumenides, where the Erinyes are given full stage exposure as disgusting, loathsome creatures, dripping with blood and crawling around on all fours to scent their prey. Yet even here their exact function remains obscure: we are told that they want to drink Orestes' blood (like the Keres of the Aspis) and drag him down to the Underworld, but with no indication of the order or consequences of these torments (Eum 264-69). In the same way, their stated purpose of avenging kindred bloodshed seems especially tailored to the needs of the play, and even then that purpose will not explain why they did not punish Agamemnon for the slaying of his daughter, or Atreus for that of his nephews. At one point, too, they appear to claim responsibility for the protection of strangers, much as was suggested for beggars in the Odyssey (Eum 545-49). Ultimately, they reveal fertility connections in their prayers for and against the welfare of Athens, a detail that may or may not arise strictly from the poet's dramatic purposes. Earlier in the same trilogy, Kassandra has suggested that they have brought about disaster to the house of Atreus in response to Thyestes' adultery with his brother's wife (Ag 1188-93), and the chorus has involved an Erinys in the destruction of Troy, possibly in the guise of or at least by using Helen (Ag 744-49). The story of Alkmaion's killing of Eriphyle is largely a blank in early sources; Homer mentions her crime in the Nekuia, but says nothing of her fate (Od 11.326-27). And though Stesichoros obviously dealt with the tale in his lost Eriphyle, the few preserved fragments do not cover this part; the same is true of the shadowy epic Alkmaionis mentioned by Apollodoros ApB 1.8.5). Later accounts of the Alkmaion myth indicate that he secured relief from the Erinyes through long travel and purification, much as Orestes does in the Eumenides (ApB 3.7.5). If this was also the early version, it might suggest that their function was ordeal by pursuit, rather than s specific punishment. But possibly, too, Alkmaion's harassment is simply modeled on that of Orestes, or vice versa.

From matricides we turn to the house of Oidipous. We have seen that in Homer the Erinyes of Epikaste cause trouble of some sort for her son; presumably his offense was marrying his mother, though Homer might know of other deeds that we do not. In Pindar's Olympian 2, on the other hand, the Erinys destroys the sons of Oidipous with mutual slaughter, having seen their father slay his father as Delphi has predicted (Ol 2.38-42). This notion, that the Erinys might punish anyone but the transgressor himself for his crime, appears here for the first time in preserved literature. Subsequently, we find the goddesses exercising an important role in Seven against Thebes, the last play of Aischylos' trilogy on the legend. But the loss of the first two plays, Laios and Oidipous, leaves us very uncertain as to the goddesses' significance. Clearly Eteokles believes, and Aischylos probably meant the audience to agree, that an Erinys brings about his fatal meeting with his brother Polyneikes. But we do not know whether such intervention was caused by an offense of Laios, Oidipous, or Eteokles himself. Here again, however, it may be noted that the Erinyes operate through manipulation of mortals, as often in Homer, rather than by direct intervention. The name "Eumenides," which forms the title of Aischylos' play on the fate of Orestes (but does not actually appear in the preserved drama), represents perhaps Aischylos' own fusion of the Erinyes with these divinities of Kolonos and elsewhere, as well as with the Semnai Theai of the Areopagos. The individual names -- Alekto, Tisiphone and Megaira -- first occur in the Aeneid (although it is not clear whether Vergil thought of them all as Erinyes: Aen 6.570-72; 7.324-26 [Alekto as daughter of Plouton]; 12.845-48 [Megaira and the twin Dirae]). Subsequently, Apollodoros confirms these names as those of the three Erinyes born from the blood of Ouranos (ApB 1.1.4).

The other major offspring of Ouranos' blood, the Gigantes, do not share the same obvious rationale for birth in this unusual fashion, and indeed there is little mention of them in Archaic sources. Homer notes a people of this name ruled by one Eurymedon, and adds that he and his atê-possessed subjects perished, but we are not told how (Od 7.58-60; possibly this is the same Eurymedon guilty of the rape of Hera). Bakchylides confirms what the name "Gigantes" implies, that they were children of the earth; he speaks of the hubris that destroyed them, but he too does not offer details. The equally sparse tradition of the Gigantes' battle with the Olympians needs to be discussed later. As for the Melian Nymphai, the final product of Ouranos' castration, they too shall be dealt with in more detail latter. We should, however, note that Alkaios and Akousilaos both add another set of offspring, the Phaiacians, as resulting from the castration.

Turning to Aphrodite's birth, we find that sources after Homer and Hesiod have little to add. The opening of Homeric Hymn 6, the only other Archaic evidence, rather supports Hesiod's view of the matter, since it makes the goddess arise from the sea foam near Cyprus (though with no direct mention of Ouranos). One notable change here is that, after the birth, the Horai, rather than Hesiod's Eros and Himeros, come to adorn her and accompany her to Olympos; in Hesiod's account the Horai, as daughters of Zeus, have not yet been born. Oddly enough, nothing we have from Pindar, Bakchylides, or Aischylos commits itself on the subject of Aphrodite's father. In later literature, she is almost universally the daughter of Zeus, though the Epimendies Theogony as noted before does make her spring from Kronos. Artistic representations of her rising up from the sea (in presumably a birth scene) do not begin before the mid-fifth century.

Gaia and Pontos

Next in Hesiod's account are the children sprung from Gaia and her other offspring/consort, Pontos. These are five in number (though the first is not actually called a child of Gaia): Nereus, Thaumas, Phorkys, Keto and Eurybia (Th 233-39). For Nereus, Hesiod offers a brief description - honest and unlying, knower of laws and just counsels, gentle and unerring -- but his primary function, like that of his siblings, is to produce further offspring. His one real appearance in myth occurs when Herakles seizes and holds him in a successful attempt to extract information necessary to his labors (the way to the Cattle of Geryoneus or to the Hesperides). According to Pherekydes, the sea god turns himself into fire and water in an effort to escape, but to no avail. Prior to the fifth century, Attic Black-Figure shows this tale, with Triton unaccountably the wrestler while Nereus watches.

Nereus marries Doris, a convenient daughter of Okeanos and Tethys, and their children - all female - are the fifty Nereides, for whom Hesiod gives a complete set of names (Th 240-64). Of these daughters, only four - Amphitrite, Thetis, Galateia and Psamathe - will have any further role to play in Greek myth as individuals, though as a group the fifty appear with Thetis in the Iliad to lament the death of Patroklos, rising up together from the depths of the sea and their cave where they live with their father (Il 18.35-51). Homer, on this occasion, names thirty-four Nereides (thirteen on his list do not appear on Hesiod's), although he specifies that all the others came as well. The same mourning of Patroklos was dramatized by Aischylos in his Nereides, where the daughters were presumably the chorus, as they may have been also in the Hoplon Krisis, if in that play Thetis actually came in response to the request that she judge the contest for her dead son's arms. In any case, the Odyssey certainly presents the Nereides as attending also the funeral of Achilleus (Od 24.47-59), and this is repeated in Proklos' summary of the Aithiopis (in both sources they are accompanied by the Mousai). Aischylos and Pindar (Is 6.6) further agree that they were fifty in number.

Pontos' second son, Thaumas, also marries an Okeanid, Elektra, by whom he fathers Iris and the two Harpuiai, Aello and Okypetes (Th 265-69). For Iris we must look to the Iliad, for she is never mentioned in the Odyssey, and only rarely in subsequent literature (despite her popularity in vase-painting). Oddly enough, Homer never discusses her parentage (although Il 11.201 comes close to calling Zeus her father); the epithets applied to her focus rather on her speed and her function as the messenger of the gods. In this latter capacity she plays a variety of roles. On three occasions she is sent by Zeus to bear his commands to other gods (Hera and Athena, Poseidon, Thetis: Il 8.398-425; 15:55, 144-200; 24.77-99), while on two others he sends her to mortals (Hektor, Priam, both times in her own form: Il 11.185-210; 24.143-88). For her part, Hera sends the goddess to Achilleus (again in her own form) to advise him, in secret from Zeus (Il 18.165-202). On two further occasions Iris appears to mortals (Priam, Helen) disguised as a human; here we are not specifically told that she has been sent by anyone, and what she offers is basically information combined with practical advice (Il 2.786-807, where she comes "from the side of Zeus"; 3.125-40). Finally there are two points at which she clearly acts of her own accord, first in helping Aphrodite to leave the battlefield (by chariot) after her wounding by Diomedes (Il 5.353-69 [note that she also unhitches the chariot and feeds the horses]), and second in conveying Achilleus' prayer to Zephyros and Boreas by flying to the former's home (Il 23.198-212). In this last instance she stresses that, upon completion of her errand, she will return to the land of the Aithiopes to share in the sacrifices they are preparing for the gods. To be fair, we should add that the Odyssey certainly knows of her, even if she is not mentioned, since the beggar Arnaios is nicknamed "Iros" after her (Od 18.6-7).

In Hesiod, she makers only one real appearance, as the divinity who journeys to the Styx and brings back water when one of the gods who wishes to take an oath (Th 780-86). Proklos' summary of the Kypria shows her revealing to Menealos the departure of Helen with Paris, and in two of the Homeric Hymns she also functions as a messenger: in that to Apollo she is sent by the other goddesses to fetch Eileithuia for Leto's lying-in (HAp 102-14), while in the Hymn to Demeter Zeus sends her (unsuccessfully) to summon Demeter to Olympos after the famine has arisen (HDem 314-24). In this instance we should note that, after Iris has failed, Zeus sends Hermes to Hades; thus, both gods serve as messengers in the same work. The only other early mention of Iris is from a fragment of Alkaios where she becomes by Zephyros the mother of Eros. She is almost always represented with wings (the Iliad, in fact, twice calls her chrysopteros, "golden-winged": Il 8.938; 11.185).

The Harpuiai would appear to share parentage with Iris on the basis of their tremendous speed; the Epimenides Theogony, however, calls them daughters of Okeanos and Gaia, while Pherekydes of Syros assigns as their father Boreas (and as sister Thyella). In a separate fragment the Epimenides Theogony also equates them with the Hesperides, andin this same connection both that work and Akousilaos put them in charge of the apples; Pherekydes has them guard Tartaros. In the Iliad there is mention of a single Harpuia, Podarge, who mates in the form of a mare with Zephyros and produces Xanthos and Balios, the horses of Achilleus (Il 16.150-51). The Odyssey offers the more familiar plural "Harpuiai" for windspirits whom Telemachos and Eumaios describe, perhaps figuratively, as carrying off Odysseus, and to whome Penelope refers as the abductors of the daughters of Pandareos (Od 1.241; 14.371; 20.77-78); their role in this last event seems to be as agents of the Erinyes, to whom they hand over the daughters. In the same context, Penelope calls them thuellai (storm-winds), and that may have been another name for them. We see the two of them illustrated in flight on a spouted bowl by the Nessos Painter with the word "Arepuia" inscribed; the artist has depicted them as normal-looking women marked out only by their large wings. Their tormenting of Phineus and their flight from the sons of Boreas is not a story for which we have early sources (although it was recounted in the Ehoiai.

Pontos and Gaia's third son, Phorkys, marries his own sister Keto, and the resulting offspring are the most monstrous of all Pontos' progeny - the two Graia, three Gorgons, Echidna, and the snake Ophis (Th 270-336). As for Phorkys himself, the Odyssey calls him "old man of the sea" like his brother Nereus (Od 13.96, 345), and makes him the grandfather of Polyphemos through a daughter, Thoosa (Od 1.72). Elsewhere in Archaic literature he appears only as progenitor of the Graiai, a role he serves in Akousilaos, Pherekydes, Pindar and Aischylos, as well as in Hesiod.

The Graiai are described in the Theogony simply as gray from birth (Th 270-73). Aischylos gives them one eye among them and one tooth at Prometheus Desmotes 792-97; it is not clear whether the tooth is also shared, or whether they have one each. The same play makes them three in number, long-lived and "swan-shaped"; whether this should be taken literally, or simply refers to their white hair, is a difficult point. Whatever Aischylos intended, they live near their sisters, the Gorgons, somewhere far to the east (and apparently on dry land, where Io could reach them). Aischylos' lost Perseus trilogy included a play entitled Phorkides in which Perseus stole the eye (and threw it away) so as to thwart their task; unfortunately, we cannot be certain that they appeared in the play (though it seems very likely), and if so, whether they were chorus or actors. Neither does there survive from the play any indication of where the sisters are located (save that the eye is thrown into the Tritonian lake). The same is true of Pherekydes' account, where the sisters are named Pemphredo, Enyo and Deino. Here they clearly have one eye and one tooth among them, and Perseus steals both in order to obtain information needed for his task. The information acquired, he returns both items and continues on his journey. Pindar's brief mention, with is use of the word "darkened" for Perseus' treatment of the Graiai (Py 12.13), rather suggests agreement with Aischylos' version.

Unlike the Graiai, the Gorgons are from the beginning (in Hesiod) three in number (Th 274-83). Hesiod names them as Sthenno, Euryale, and Medousa, and places them toward the edge of night, beyond Okeanos, near the Hesperides, in other words to the far west (he does not say whether the Graiai lived near them). Of the three, Sthenno and Euryale and immortal and ageless, but Medousa is mortal (Hesiod offers no explanation of this odd situation). She alone mates with Poseidon (assuming that Kyanochaites is here, as elsewhere, an epithet of the sea god), and after her beheading by Perseus, Chrysaor and the horse Pegasos spring forth from her neck. Hesiod simply says that Pegasos flew up to Olympos to carry the lightning and thunderbolts for Zeus. Chrysaor marries another convenient Okeanid, Kallirhoe, who bears the three-headed Geryoneus later to be slain by Herakles (Th 287-94; 979-83).

In contrast to the Theogony, Homer, although he describes several Gorgon heads on bucklers (e.g., Il 11.36-37) and conjured up yet another to frighten Odysseus in the Nekuia (Od 11.633-35), never directly alludes to the tale of Medousa, save perhaps in Iliad 5, where the description of Zeus' aigis worn by Athena includes the Gorgon head customarily donated by Perseus (Il 5.738-42). In the Kypria (context not clear, although the point of reference seems to be Phorkys and Keto), the Gorgons are pictured as living on a rocky island named Sarpedon in the stream of Okeanos. Pherekydes also puts them somewhere in Okeanos; the summary of his account says little about their physical appearance, but does note that Medousa's face turned men to stone, and adds that the head was ultimately given to Athena for the aigis. The Aspis offers a typically garish portrait: Gorgons with twin snakes - glaring and gnashing their teeth -- wrapped around their waists, and possibly a vague reference to snakes for hair (Aspis 229-37). Snaky locks are in any case well attested by Pindar (Py 10.46-48; 12.9-12), and here again Medousa's head lithifies, while Euryale's lament becomes the model for the song of the flute. In Pythian 10, we also see Perseus journeying to the land of the Hyperboreans in the far north on his quest for the head; the Gorgons may or may not have been located there. For Aischylos, we must again be content with the description in Prometheus Desmotes, since there are no relevant fragments from the Phorkides. As noted above, his Gorgons live near their sister Graiai to the far east; they have wings and snaky hair, and no mortal can look upon them and live. This last detail suggests that Aischylos believed all three sisters could turn men to stone, but he may be exaggerating for effect, or perhaps he refers to their generally ferocious character. The tale that Medousa was once beautiful, and fell prey to Athena's anger by mating with Poseidon in the goddess' temple, first appears in Ovid (Met 4.790-803); something of the same sort also surfaces in Apollodoros, who says that Medousa wished to rival Athena in beauty (ApB 2.4.3). Such an idea may have been developed at some later point in time to dignify Poseidon's union with the Gorgon; certianly it will not explain the equally hideous condition of her two sisters. Euripides' surprsing statement in Ion that Athena herself slew a Gorgon (not actually called Medousa) at Phlegra, where the gods fought the Gigantes, might be relevant to a tale of rivalry, though the text's implication is that Gaia spawned the monster especially for that battle (Ion 989-96).

After the Graiai and Gorgons, Phorkys and Keto produce Echnida, half fair maiden (presumably the upper half) and half terrible snake, a monster who lives alone in a cave under the earth, far from men and gods. The one variant of her parentage comes from the Epimenides Theogony, where she is the offspring of Styx and one Peiras. Echidna mates with Typhoeus, the challenger of Zeus, and the results are all animals: Orthos, the watchdog of Geryoneus, Kerberos, the fifty-headed watchdog of Hades, the snaky Hydra of Lerna, and possibly the fire-breathing Chmaira with its three heads, one of a lion, one of a goat and one of a snake, arranged respectively at the front, middle and back (Th 304-25). Alternatively, the mother of the Chimaira could be the Hydra (by an unnamed father) depending on the pronoun referent at 319. To this list, Akousilaos and Pherekydes agree in adding the eagle who devoured Prometheus' liver; Hesiod gives it no parentage.

About Orthos we find nothing more than that he was killed by Herakles during the raid on Geryoneus' cattle. Artistic representations sometimes include him (always dead, usually with arrows protruding from his body) in scenes of the combat; on several occasions (including the earliest), he has two heads. Kereberos' duties as watchdog (and devourer of any who try to leave Hades) are described later in the Theogony (769-74). He is mentioned in connection with Herakles' task in both the Iliad and the Odyssey (Il 8.367-68; Od 11.620-26), but without any further details of his appearance, and the same is true in Bakcyhlides, where his parentage from Echidna is repeated (5.60-62). Pindar's lost dithyramb on Herakles in the Underworld seems, however, to have given the creature one hundred heads, if the scholia minora to the Iliad can be trusted. The earliest artistic portrayal, a Middle Corinthian kotyle from Argos, shows only one head, but has snakes growing out all over his body. A Lakonian cup from the middle of the sixth century increases the number of heads to three and adds a snake for tail as well, and this (with sometimes only two heads) becomes the standard representation in both art and literature. On the Corinthian kotyle mentioned above, Kereberos appears to run from Herakles, but on all subsequent examples it is Herakles (and even his divine helpers) who display caution. Presumably the frequent variant of two heads arose from logistical problems in draftsmanship.

As for the Hydra, Hesiod says simply that Hera raised her to be a danger to Herakles, and that he slew her with the aid of Iolaos, but a scholion adds that Alkaios gave her nine heads, and Simonides fifty. Pausanias adds that, in his opinion, she had originally just one, and that the epic poet Peisandros added additional heads in order to make her more fearsome; whether he is right to suppose Peisandros the first in this respect we cannot, of course, say. The representations in vase-paintings usually show a multitude of snaky heads and bodies (joined together towards the tail), often as many as ten. For the actual detail that two heads grew from each severed neck, or that one head was immortal, we must await Ovid (Met 9.69-74: two heads only) and Apollodoros (ApB 2.5.2); nevertheless the sickle (usually for Iolaos) is a standard element in early representations of the battle (together with a sword or club for Herakles). As for the searing of the necks to prevent regrowth, the first evidence is a late sixth-century Black-Figure amphora on which Iolaos holds a torch; Euripides in the Herakles Mainomenos adds that Herakles "burnt out" the Hydra, which may well confirm this idea. Sophokles' Tracinai together with the Herakles appear to be our earliest firm sources for the idea that the blood of the Hydra was poisonous and could be applied to Herakles' arrows.

The Chimaira is the offspring of either Echidna or the Hydra.. Hesiod's description (heads of lion, goat, snake, fire-breathing capacity) is paralleled word for word in the Iliad's accounts of Bellerophontes' exploits (Il 6.179-82); later in the poem a certain Amisodaros of Lykia is named as the one who raised the monster (Il 16.328-29), and in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Apollo boasts that neither Typhoeus nor Chimaira will avail the dead Python (Hap 367-68). Typhoeus (earlier in the poem the Python's fosterling) is reasonable here, but the Chimaira remains unexplained. Her capacity for breathing fire recurs in an extremely fragmentary remnant of the Ehoiai. The artistic tradition, beginning with the Protocorinthian vessels of the early seventh century, interprets the creature as a lion with the goat's head growing out of the back (not from the same neck as the lion's) and the snake serving in place of the tail (in one early Black-Figure example, the whole rear of the body may end in a snake: Kerameikos 154). Whether the goat's head was responsible for the name "Chimaira" or vice versa is an open question. In any case, she (or just possibly Echidna) mates with the dog Orthos (her brother, if she is descended from Echidna, and uncle, if from the Hydra), and the results here are both lion types, the Phix (elsewhere Sphinx) and the Nemean Lion (Th 326-32).

Hesiod calls the Phix a bringer of destruction to the Thebans, but says nothing about physical appearance or method of operation. Sphinxes as a type, with the canonical lion's body, women's head and wings, are well known in sculpture and metalwork from the Near East and Crete, and in painting from Protocorinthian vase designs; in the Greek world the Sphinx also becomes a popular corwning device on columns and grave stelae. The name "Sphinx" (or "Sphix") is assured for the type from its use on an Attic Black-Figure band cup of about 540 B.C. (Munich 2243). But in all these representations, the creature is employed without mythological context. Our earliest portrayal in which she actually does something is probably the architectural relief from Mycenae of about 630 B.C. on which two sphinxes are reconstructed as standing over a nude male body. Subsequently, a Siana cup by the C Painter shows a Spinx pursuing a number of men (one of whom she seems to have caught: Syracuse 25418), and several other Black_Figure pots of the sixth century repeat that pattern. The first recorded association of Sphinx with Oidipous dates to about 530 B.C., a Chalkidian amphora on which Oidipous sits before the Sphinx, as he does on the famous Red-Figure cup in the Vatican. Here the solving of her riddle (first attested in literature in Sophokles' Oidipous Tyrannos) is obviously the primary consideration. The epic Oidipodeia (where she kills Kreon's son Haimon) might have told us much about these matters, and likewise Aischylos' lost satyr play Sphinx. As to appearance, both Aischylos and Sophokles call her a dog, and while this might be figurative language, it might also reflect a variant tradition: the bodies of lions and dogs, minus the heads, are not so very different. No early author gives any motive for her assault on the Thebans, although as a monster perhaps she did not need one; later writers will at times make her an agent of various gods who visit disaster on Thebes for one reason or another.

The Chimaira's other child, the Lion of Nemea, presents no special features, save for his invulnerable hide. Hesiod, who does not mention this characteristic, says simply that Hera raised him, as she did the Hydra (but here without reference to Herakles), and that Herakles overcame him (Th 328-32). Bakcylides makes the same two points and adds that this was the first of Herakles' Labors, but he too does not tell us whether Hera's tendency had her enemy's destruction as a goal (9.6-9). Elsewhere he and Pindar are the first to describe the skin as impenetrable (Bak 13.46-54; Is 6.47-48). The scene of combat between the Lion and Herakles, one of the most popular in Greek vase-painting, shows the hero usually wrestling with the Lion. The resulting lionskin adorns Herakles as his trademark in much of Archaic art, beginning about 570 B.C., and seems to be as early as the epic account of Peisandros (fr 1 PEG; Athen 12.512f attributes the idea rather to Stesichoros). One final reference of an odd sort comes from the Epimendies Theogony, where the Lion is said to be sprung from (or shaken off by) Selene probably in her role as the moon rather than as a goddess (3B2).

Of Ophis, fourth and last of Phorkys and Keto's brood, we have already spoken in the discussion of the Hesperides. Hesiod makes him guard the apples (though the location -- under the earth? -- is difficult), Theokles carves him in wood at Olympia (together with fruit tree, Hesperides and Atlas: Paus 6.19.8), and Pherekydes gives him the same task at the behest of Hera (in fear of illicit apple-munching by the daughters of Atlas: 3F16, where he also has ninety heads). A Black-Figure lekythos of about 500 B.C. shows him (with two heads) wrapped around his tree and menacing Herakles (Berlin: PM VI 3261). No Archaic source describes his combat with the hero, though the vase illustrations suggest discretion on Herakles' part; Sophokles probably and Euipides definitely say that the hero killed him to get the apples (Tr 1099-1100; HF 397-99).

Finally we come to the fifth and last child of Pontos and Gaia, Eurybia, the second daughter. She marries Kreios, one of the twelve Titans, and thus joins together the lines of descent from Gaia through Pontos and Ouranos (Th 375-77). This union is to some extent the result of the fact that four of the other Titan males marry their sisters, while the two remaining sisters, Themis and Mnemosyne, are reserved for the subsequent attentions of Zeus. Thus, the two remaining brothers must find spouses outside their immediate family. Iapetos will adopt the same solution as did Nereus and Thaumas, his half-brothers, by wedding an Okeanid (in his case, Klymene), while Kreios here takes his half-sister. The children of Kreios and Eyrybia are three: Astraios, Pallas and Perses. Astraios weds his cousin Eos, the dawn (daughter of Hyperion and Theia), and produces three winds, Boreas, Zephyros and Notos, plus the morning star Heosphoros and the stars in general (Th 378-82). Zephyros is at his house with Boreas when Iris comes to summon them to Achilleus in Iliad 23, and appears as the sire of Achilleus' horses in Iliad 16; he later is a contender with Apollo for the affections of Hyakinthos. Boreas is best known for his abduction of Oreithuia, daughter of Erechtheus, a tale dramatized by Aischylos in his lost Oreithuia. Pausanias found him depicted on the Chest of Kypselos, with snake's tails instead of feet, as he carried off his love (5.19.1). The children of the union, as both Simonides (534 PMG) and Akousilaos (2F30) tell us, are Zetes and Kalais, who sail with the Argo. Pherekydes of Syros makes Boreas the father of the Harpuiai as well (7B5).

The second son, Pallas, marries his cousin Styx (daughter of Okeanos and Tethys); their children are Zelos (glory), Nike (Victory), Kratos (Power) and Bia (Force) (Th 383-85). These last two appear briefly in the Prometheus Desmotes, but basically all four are personifications.

The third son, Perses (oddly noted for his wisdom), then marries his cousin Asterie (daughter of Koios and Phoibe and sister of Leto), and their one child is Hekate (Th 409-13). In his long discourse on the powers of this figure, Hesiod makes her a general helper of men, bringing victory and success to their various endeavors if she wishes, and honored by Zeus as she was by the Titans, but with no chthonic or lunar associations mentioned.

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Last modified: Fri Oct 2 19:36:53 EST 1998