Homer Hesiod Hymns Tragedy Remythologizing Tools Blackboard Info
Browse the Dictionary
 
OBOLUS A weight as well as a silver coin among the Greeks = 1/6 drachma; the Attic obolus amounted in intrinsic value to 1-3d (Cp. COINAGE.) The ancient used to put this coin in the mouths of the dead, as passage-money for Charon the ferryman in the lower world.
OBSEQUENS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
A Latin author. (See LIVY, 2.)
OCCUPATIO The Roman term for the appropriation of untilled portions of the State lands, consequent upon the invitation of the State, and having for its object the cultivation of the soil. (See further AGER PUBLICUS.)
OCEANUS In Greek mythology, originally the ancient river of the world which flows around and bounds the earth and sea, itself unbounded and flowing back into itself. From Oceanus arise all seas, rivers, streams, and fountains. Herodotus is the first to oppose this view [ii 23, iv 8, 36]. To Homer, Oceanus is the beginning of all things, even of the gods: he the original father, and his wife, Tethys, the original mother. With her he lives, a gentle and hospitable old man, in the farthest west away from the world and its doings. He keeps aloof even from the assemblies of the gods, although river gods and nymphs appear there. It is with the aged pair that Hera grows up, and it is to them that she flees on the outbreak of the war with the Titans. According to Hesiod [Theog. 133, 337-370], Oceanus and Tethys are children of Uranus and Gaea; the former the oldest of the Titans, who after the fall of Cronus submitted to Zeus. From him are sprung 3000 sons and as many daughters, the Oceanides. The oldest of the family, which is spread over the whole earth, are Achelous and Styx. Oceanus was represented as a venerable old man with a long beard: on his head are bull's horns, after the usual manner of river gods; or crab's claws, as customary with gods of the sea; and he is surrounded by sea monsters.
OCELLUS A Greek philosopher, a follower of the Pythagorean school (cp. PYTHAGORAS).
OCHLOCRACY The name among the Greeks for that form of democracy in which the citizens were admitted to the government of the State without any gradation of classes, or any legal provision for checking the caprice of the populace. Under such a constitution public matters fell into the hands of the lowest class of the people.
OCTAETERES
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
A period of eight years. (See CALENDAR.)
ODEION The Greek term for a building constrneted for musical performances on the plan of a theatre, but with far slighter proportions and provided with a roof for acoustical purposes. Hence also the stage was not so deep, and ended in three walls which abutted with one another at obtuse angles. [The oldest Odeion in Athens was that in the neighbourbood of the fountain of Enneacrunus (Pausan., i 4, 1), on the Ilissus, south of the Olympieum. This Odeion was probably built in the time of the Pisistratidae.] The building which served as a pattern for all later ones of this kind was the Odeion built by Pericles about 445 B.C., intended at first for the musical contests at the Panathenaic games, but afterwards used by poets and musicians for rehearsals, by philosophers for discussions, and sometimes even for judicial business. This building was restored after its destruction by fire (87 B.C.) by king Ariobarzanes II, Philopator. The first at Rome was built by Domitian (about 86 A.D.); a second by Trajan. That of Herodes Atticus (q.v.) was considered the largest and most magnificent in ancient times: it was built soon after 160 A.D. at Athens, below the south western cliff of the Acropolis, in honour of his deceased wife Annia Regilla, and a considerable part of it is still standing. It held about 8000 persons and had a roof composed of beams of cedar wood.
ODYSSEUS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
King of Ithaca, son of Laertes and Anticlea, daughter of Autolycus. In post-Homeric legend he is called a son of Sisyphus, borne by Anticlea before her marriage with Laertes. According to Homer, his name, "the hater," was given him by his grandfather Autolycus, because he himself had so often cherished feelings of hatred during his life [Od. xix 402]. His wife Penelope (or Penelopeia), daughter of Icarius (see OEBALUS), is said by later legends to have been obtained for him by her uncle Tyndareos in gratitude for counsel given by him. (See TYNDAREOS.) When his son Telemachus was still an infant, Agamemnon and Menelaus, as Homer tells us, prevailed on him to take part in the expedition against Troy. Their task was hard, as it had been predicted to him that it would be twenty years before he saw his wife and child again. Later writers relate that he was bound as one of Helen's suitors to take, part in the scheme, but tried to escape his obligation by feigning madness, and among other acts yoked a horse and an ox to his plough and so ploughed a field. When however Palamedes, who with Nestor and Menelaus was desirous of taking him to Troy, proceeded to place Telemachus in the furrow, he betrayed himself and had to accompany them to war. He led the men of Ithaca and the surrounding isles to Troy in twelve vessels. In contrast to the later legend, which represents him as a cowardly, deceitful and intriguing personage, he always appears in Homer among the noblest and most respected of the heroes, and, on account of his good qualities, he is the declared favourite of Athene. He combines in his person courage and determined perseverance with prudence, ingenuity, cunning and eloquence. Accordingly he is employed by preference as a negotiator and a spy. Thus, after the disembarkation, he goes with Menelaus into the enemy's city to demand the surrender of Helen. Again, he is among those who are despatched by the Greeks to reconcile with Agamemnon the enraged Achilles. With Diomedes, who delights in his company, he captures the spy Dolon and surprises Rhesus; with the same hero he is said by later legend to have stolen the Palladium from Troy. When Agamemnon faint-heartedly thinks of flight, he opposes this idea with the utmost decision. Everywhere he avails himself of the right time and the right place, and, where courage and cunning are needed, is ever the foremost. After Achilles' death, in the contest with Ajax, the son of Telamon, he receives the hero's arms as a recognition of his services, and by his ingenuity brings about the fall of Troy. Shortly before it, he steals into the city in the garb of a beggar, in order to reconnoitre everything there; he then climbs with the others into the wooden horse, and contrives to control the impatient and the timid alike until the decisive moment. His adventures during the return from Troy and on his arrival in his native country form the contents of the Odyssey of Homer. Immediately after the departure Odysseus is driven to the Thracian Ismarus, the city of the Cicones, and, though he plunders them, loses in a surprise seventy-two of his companions. When he is now desirous of rounding the south-east point of the Peloponnesus, the promontory of Malea, he is caught by the storm and carried in nine days to the coast of North Africa, on to the land of the Lotophagi (Lotus-eaters) whence he has to drag his companions by force to prevent their forgetting their homes for love of the sweet lotus food. Thence the voyage passes into the legendary world of the Western sea, then little known to the Greeks. Odysseus comes first to the country of the Cyclopes (q.v.), where, with twelve of his comrades, he is shut up in a cavern by Polyphemus. The monster has already devoured half of Odysseus' companions before the latter intoxicates him (fig. 1), deprives him of his one eye, and by his cunning escapes with his comrades. From this time the anger of Poseidon, on whom Polyphemus calls for revenge, pursues him and keeps him far from his country. On the island of Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds (q.v.), he finds hospitable entertainment, and receives on his departure a leathern bag in which are inclosed all the winds except the western. The latter would carry him in nine days to the coast of Ithaca, but, whilst Odysseus is taking rest, his comrades open the bag, which they imagine to contain treasure, and the winds thus released carry them back to Aeolus. He orders them off from his island, regarding them as enemies of the gods. On coming to Telephylus, the city of Lamus, king Antiphates and his Loestrygones, cannibals of immense stature, shatter eleven of their vessels, and the twelfth is saved only by Odysseus' wariness. (See PAINTING, fig. 5.) On the island of Aeaea the sorceress Circe turns part of his crew into swine, but, with the help of Hermes, he compels her to restore them to their human shape and spends a whole year with her in pleasure and enjoyment. When his companions urge him to return home, Circe bids him first sail toward the farthest west, to the entrance into the lower world on the farther bank of Oceanus, and there question the shade of the seer Tiresias concerning his return. (See HADES, REALM OF.) From the latter he learns that it is the malice of Poseidon that prevents his return, but that nevertheless he will now attain his object if his comrades spare the cattle of Helios on the island of Thrinacia; otherwise it will only be after a long time, deprived of all his comrades and on a foreign shit, that he will reach his home. Odysseus then returns to the isle of Circe and sets out on his homeward voyage, supplied by her with valuable directions and a favouring wind. Passing the isles of the Sirens (q.v.) and sailing through Scylla and Charybdis (q.v.), he reaches the island of Thrinacia, where he is compelled to land by his comrades. They are there detained for a month by contrary winds; at length his comrades, overcome by hunger, in spite of the oath they have sworn to him, slaughter, during his absence, the finest of the cattle of Helios. Scarcely are they once more at sea, when a terrible storm breaks forth, and Zeus splits the ship in twain with a flash of lightning, as a penalty for the offence. All perish except Odysseus, who clings to the mast and keel, and is carried back by the waves to Scylla and Charybdis, and after nine days reaches the island of Ogygia, the abode of the nymph Calypso, daughter of Atlas. For seven years he dwells here with the nymph, who promises him immortality and eternal youth, if he will consent to remain with her and be her husband. But the yearning for his wife and home make him proof against her snares. All the day long he sits on the shore gazing through his tears across the broad sea; fain would he catch a glimpse, were it only of the rising smoke of his home, and thereafter die. So his protectress, Athene, during Poseidon's absence, prevails on Zeus in an assembly of the gods to decree his return, and to send Hermes to order Calypso to release him. Borne on a raft of his own building, he comes in eighteen days near to Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, when Poseidon catches sight of him and shatters his raft in pieces. However, with the aid of the veil of Ino Leucothea (q.v.), he reaches land in safety and meets with Nausicaa, the king's daughter, who conducts him into the Phaeacian city before her parents Alcinous (q.v.) and Arete. He receives the most hospitable treatment, and is then brought loaded with presents by the Phaeacians on board one of their marvellous vessels to his country, which he reaches after twenty years' absence, while asleep. He arrives just in time to ward off the disaster that is threatening his house. After his mother Anticlea had died of grief for her son, and the old Laertes had retired to his country estate in mourning, more than a hundred noble youths of Ithaca and the surrounding isles had appeared as suitors for the hand of the fair and chaste Penelope, had persecuted Telemachus, who was now growing up to manhood, and were wasting the substance of the absent Odysseus. Penelope had demanded a respite from making her decision until she had finished weaving a shroud intended for her father-in-law, and every night unravelled the work of the day. In the fourth year one of her attendants betrayed the secret; she had to complete the garment, and when urged to make her decision promised to choose the man who should win in a shooting match with Odysseus bow, hoping that none of the wooers would be able even so much as to bend it. Just before the day of trial, Odysseus lands on the island disguised by Athena as a beggar. He betakes himself to the honest swineherd Eumoeus, one of the few retainers who have remained true to him, who receives his master, whom he fails to recognise, in a hospitable manner. To the same spot Athene brings Telemachus, who has returned in safety, in spite of the plots of the suitors from a journey to Nestor at Pylus and Menelaus and Helen in Sparta. Hereupon Odysseus makes himself known and, together with his son and retainer, concerts his plan of revenge. In the shape of a beggar he betakes himself to the house, where he manfully controls his anger at the arrogance of the suitors which is displayed towards himself, and his emotion on meeting Penelope. Next day the shooting match takes place. This involves shooting through the handles of twelve axes with the bow of Eurytus (q.v.), which the latter's son Iphitus had once presented to the young Odysseus. None of the suitors can bend the bow, and so Odysseus takes hold of it, and bends it in an instant, thus achieving the master-shot. Supported by Telemachus, Eumaeus, and the herdsman Philcetius, and with the aiding presence of Athens, he shoots first the insolent Antinous, and then the other suitors. He next makes himself known to Penelope, who has meanwhile fallen into a deep sleep, and visits his old father. In the meantime the relatives of the murdered suitors have taken up arms, but Athene, in the form of Mentor (q.v.) brings about a reconciliation. The only hint of Odysseus' end in Homer is in the prophecy of Tiresias, that in a calm old age a peaceful death will come upon him from the sea. In later poetry Telegonus, the son of Odysseus by Circe, is sent forth by his mother to seek out his father. He lands at Ithaca, and plunders the island: Odysseus proceeds to meet him, is wounded by him with a poisonous sting-ray, given by Circe to her son as a spear-point, and dies a painfal death, which thus comes "from the sea." On Telegonus discovering that he has killed his father, he carries the dead body home with him, together with Penelope and Telemachus, and there the latter live a life of immortality, Telemachus becoming husband of Circe, and Telegonus of Penelope. Besides Telegonus, the legend told of two sons of Odysseus by Circe, named Agrius and Latinus, who were said to have reigned over the Etruscans. Telegonus in particular was regarded by the Romans as the founder of Tusculum [Ovid, Fasti, iii 92], and Praeneste [Horace, Odes iii 29, 8]. In later times the adventures of Odysseus were transferred as a whole to the coast of Italy: the promontory of Circeii was regarded as the abode of Circe, Formiae as the city of the Laestrygones. Near Surrentum was found the island of the Sirens; near Cape Lacinium that of Calypso, while near to Sicily were the isle of Aeolus, Scylla, and Charybdis, and, on the Sicilian shore, the Cyclopes. Odysseus is generally represented as a bearded man, wearing a semi-oval cap like that of a Greek sailor. (See fig. 1.)
OEBALUS King of Sparta, father of Hippocoon, Tyndareos, and Icarius by the Nymph Bateia. The first of these expels his brethren from their home, but falls with all his sons in battle against Heracles and Cepheus of Tegea; upon this Tyndareos (q.v.) returns and takes possession of his father's realm. Icarius, who remains in Acarnania, becomes by Polycaste, or (according to another account) by the Naiad Peribcea, father of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus.
OECUS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The dining-room of a Roman dwelling-house. (See HOUSE.)
OEDIPUS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
Son of Laius, descendant of Cadmus through his paternal grandfather Labdacus and his great-grandfather Polydorus. According to Homer [Od. xi 271-280], he kills his father and marries his mother Epicaste (in later accounts Iocaste); the gods, however, immediately cause the misdeed to be known, and Epicaste hangs herself; OEdipus however rules on in Thebes, haunted with many sufferings by the vengeful spirit of his mother. Homer also mentions the funeral games celebrated in his honour [Il. xxiii 679], but does not tell of the birth of his sons and the grounds of their feud. According to the ancient OEdipodeia of Cinaethon, OEdipus after Iocaste's death marries Euryganeia, whence sprang his sons Eteocles and Polynices, and his daughters Antigone and Ismene [Paus., ix 5, 11]. According to the ancient legend, OEdipus curses his sons either because Polynices had set before him at the banquet the table and goblet which Cadmus and Laius had used (which he regarded as an attempt to remind him of his transgression), or because they had inadvertently sent him the haunch-bone of a victim instead of the shoulder-bone. In the hands of the tragedians, especially of Aeschylus and Sophocles (in the OEdipus Tyrannus), the legend has been changed into the following form. Laius, husband of Iocaste, daughter of Menceceus, and sister of Creon, has a curse resting on him in consequence of some misdeed. He is told by the oracle of Apollo that he will die by the hand of his son. When a son is born to him, he accordingly orders a slave to expose him, with his feet pierced, upon Cithaeron. The slave consigns the child to the care of a shepherd belonging to the king of Corinth, Polybus, and he takes it to his master. The boy, who derives the name OEdipus (Swellfoot), from his swollen feet, is adopted by the childless Polybus and his wife Periboea in place of offspring of their own. On reaching manhood, he is reproached during a carousal with not being the son of his presumptive parents, and betakes himself without their knowledge to Delphi, in order to find out the truth. The terrible response of the oracle, to the effect that he will slay his own father and then beget children in wedlock with his mother, causes him to avoid Corinth. At the place in Phocis where the road from Delphi to Daulis leaves the road to Thebes, lie is met by his real father, who is on a journey to Delphi to question the god concerning the devastation of his land by the Sphinx. As OEdipus will not move aside, a quarrel arises, and he kills his father together with his attendants one of whom alone escapes. He proceeds to Thebes, and there frees the city from its plague by solving the Sphinx's riddle; as a reward he receives from Creon the dominion of Thebes and the late king's widow, Iocaste, for a wife; and the latter bears him four children (given by the older myth to Euryganeia). Years afterwards failure of crops and pestilence come upon Thebes, and the oracle promises liberation from the disaster only if the murder of Laius be requited by the banishment of the murderer. The result of OEdipus' eager endeavours to identify this person is the discovery of the horrors which he has unconsciously perpetrated. Iocaste hangs herself in despair, and CEdipus puts out his own eyes. Deposed from his throne, and imprisoned at Thebes by his sons to conceal his shame from men's eyes, or (according to another account) driven by them into banishment, whither his daughters accompany him, he pronounces against his sons a curse, to the effect that they shall divide their inheritance with each other by means of the sword, a curse which is fulfilled with awful exactness. (See SEVEN AGAINST THEBES.) His grave was afterwards shown at the village of Eteonus, on the borders of Attica and Bceotia, in the sanctuary of Demeter, and worship done to him as to a hero. At Athens too, in a sacred demesne of the Erinyes, between the Areopagus and the Acropolis, was a monument to OEdipus, whose bones were supposed to have been brought hither from Thebes.--Sophocles, in his OEdipus at Colonus, follows another legend. He represents him as coming to the Attic deme of Colonus at the bidding of Apollo, and as finding there, in the sanctuary of the now propitiated Eumenides, the longed-for peace of the grave. His bones, the place of burial of which was known to none, are a precious treasure for the country, to guard it from hostile invasions.
OENEUS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
King of Calydon, in Aetolia, the hills of which he was the first to plant with the vine received from Dionysus. He was son of Portheus or Porthaon, and brother of Agrius and Melas; by Althaea, daughter of Thestius, he became the father of Tydeus, Meleager, and Deianira. (See HERACLES.) As he once forgot Artemis in a sacrifice, she sent the Calydonian boar, which ravaged the country, and, even after its slaughter in the famous Calydonian Hunt, occasioned the death of Meleager (q.v.). From the plots of his brother Melas he had been delivered by Tydeus through the murder of Melas and his sons, but after the deaths of Tydeus and Meleager, his other brother Agrius, and the sons of that brother, deprived him of his throne and cast him into prison. His grandson Diomedes however revenged him with the aid of Alcmaeon, to whom he had once given hospitable entertainment, and who was desirous of taking OEneus with him to Argos, after he had given over the throne of Calydon to his son-in-law Andraemon, whose son Thoas, in Homer [Il. ii 638], leads the Aetolians to Troy. But the two sons of Agrius, who have escaped death, lie in wait for him in Arcadia, and there slay the old man. Diomedes carries his body to Argos, and deposits it in the city which after him was called OEnoe. While in Homer OEneus is dead before the expedition to Troy, later mythology represents him as surviving the Trojan War, and as restored to his kingdom by Diomedes on the latter's flight from Argos.
OENONE A nymph of mount Ida, bride of Paris before he carried off Helen. In resentment at her lover's faithlessness, she refused to help him when he was mortally wounded; and, in her remorse at her refusal, ended by hanging herself.
OGYGES One of the Boeotian autochthones, or aborigines, son of Boeotus or (according to another account) of Poseidon. He was king of the Hectenes, the oldest inhabitants of Boeotia, which was visited during his reign by an inundation of Lake Copais, named after him the Ogygian flood.
OICLES Son of Antiphates, grandson of Melampus, father of Amphiaraus. He fell as a companion of Heracles in the battle against Laomedon of Troy.
OIL was very extensively used in ancient times. Apart from its use as an article of food and for burning in lamps, it served to anoint the body after the bath and in the paloestra. The oil most used was that obtained by means of olive presses from the olive tree, which seems to have been transplanted from Syria to Greece and thence to Italy. The best olive oil produced among the Greek states was that of Attica; here the olive tree was considered a gift of the national goddess Athene, who by means of it had obtained the victory in her contest with Poseidon for the possession of the country. Here also the olive tree was under the special protection of the State; no one was allowed to cut down olive trees on his own plot of land, except for specified purposes, and then only a specified number. Moreover many olive trees standing on private ground were regarded as the property of the goddess of the State, and it was therefore forbidden on pain of death to cut them down. They were under the special control of the Areopagus, which had them inspected from time to time by certain officials, and they were farmed out by the State [Lysias, Or. ix]. Part of the oil thus obtained had to be sold by the farmer to the State at a fixed price; this was only used for festive purposes, especially to be distributed in prizes to the victors in the Panathenaic contests (Pindar, Nem. x 35]. In Italy the olive tree, which spread thence to France and Spain, grew so well that the Italian oil, especially from the neighbourhood of the South Italian cities Venafrum and Tarentum, and that from the Sabine country, was considered the finest in the world and so met with a ready sale abroad. The best kind was considered to be oil from unripe olives, especially the first from the press [Pliny, N. H. xv 1-34]. The manufacture of fragrant oils and ointments, of which the ancients made a far more extensive use than ourselves, was very important. There was a very large number of preparations of this kind which were used for embrocations of the person, pomades for the hair of the head and beard, for perfuming the dress, bath-water and the like. They were prepared, some by a cold method, some by a hot, by mixing oils pressed for the most part from fruits, such as the oil of olives, nuts, and almonds, with the volatile oils derived from native or oriental vegetable substances. The most expensive kinds were brought from the East, the birthplace of this manufacture, as, for example, the much-prized nardinum, pressed from the flowers of the Indian and Arabian grass nardus [Pliny, N. H. xiii 1-25]. For preserving them vessels of stone were preferred, especially those of alabaster [ib. Section 19]. To meet the demand, vast perfume manufactories existed everywhere in abundance.
OILEUS King of the Locrians, father of the lesser Ajax (q.v., 1).
OLEN A mythical poet of Lycia belonging to early Greek times, standing in connexion with the worship of Apollo in Delos and represented as having composed the first hymns for the Delians. The legend which was especially attributed to him was that of Apollo's sojourn among the Hyperboreans.
OLIGARCHIA The name given in Greek writers to that form of constitution where a portion of the community, privileged either by reason of nobility of birth or of wealth, are exclusively, or at least in preference to otbers, in possession of power. The former case is an example of an absolute despotism; the latter resulted where the magistracies, though filled exclusively from the privileged classes, nevertheless depended on popular election; or where the mass of the people possessed a share in deliberation or in the drawing up of decrees, while to the privileged body was reserved the right of making proposals, convoking and presiding over the assemblies, and ratifying the decrees.
OLYMPIAD
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
A period of four years from one celebration of the Olympian games (see OLYMPIAN GAMES) to another. The Olympiads were counted from the victory of Corcebus (776 B.C.); the last, the 283rd, ended 394 A.D., with the abolition of the Olympian games. This method of reckoning never passed into everyday life, but is of importance, inasmuch as, through the historian Timaeus, about 240 B.C., it became the one generally used by the Greek historians.
OLYMPIAN GAMES
OLYMPIEUM
OLYMPUS One of the mythic poets and musicians belonging to Phrygian mythology, pupil of Marsyas. The art of flute-playing, invented by Marsyas, was supposed to have been perfected by Olympus. A Phrygian family, in which the art of flute-playing was hereditary, traced their descent from him. The Phrygian Olympus, who lived about the 7th century before Christ, invented the auletic nomos (q.v.), and brought it into esteem among the Asiatic Greeks, was said to have been descended from the mythical Olympus.
OLYMPUS A mountain situated in Thessaly, the summit of which [nearly 10,000 feet above the sea] rises from the region of the earth's atmosphere into the sky, and was, according to the earliest popular belief of the Greeks, the abode of the higher (hence named Olympian) gods. Below the summit, which, according to Homer's description, is never ruffled by winds or drenched with rain, but is always radiant in cloudless splendour [Od. vi 42-45], comes the region of clouds, which Zeus at one time gathers together and at another dispels; it forms the boundary between the celestial region and that of the earth; and accordingly Homer elsewhere implies that the clouds are the gates of heaven, which are guarded by the Hours [Il. v 749]. On the highest peak Zeus has his throne, and it is there that he summons the assemblies of the gods. The abodes of the other gods were imagined to be placed on the precipices and in the ravines of the mountain. When the height of the vault of heaven came to be regarded as the abode of the gods, the name Olympus was transferred to the sky.
OMEN The Roman term for a favourable or unfavourable sign, especially a word spoken by chance, so far as it drew the attention of the hearers to itself and appeared to be a prognostic. An omen could be accepted or repudiated, and even taken in an arbitrary sense, except in the case of words which already had in themselves a favourable or unfavourable signification. For example, when Crassus was embarking on his unfortunate expedition against the Parthians, and a man in the harbour was selling dry figs from Caunus with the cry Cauneas, which sounded like cave ne eas, "beware of going," this was an evil omen [Cic., De Div. ii 84]. On festal occasions care was taken to protect oneself from such omens; for example, when sacrifice was being made, by veiling the head, by commanding silence, and by music that drowned any word spoken. People were particularly careful at solemn addresses, new year greetings, and the like. On the other hand, for the sake of the good omen, it was usual to open levies and censuses by calling out those names that were of good import, such as Valerius (from valere, to be strong), Salvius (from salvere, to be well), etc. [Cic., Pro Scauro, 30. The word omen probably means a voice or utterance].
OMPHALE
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
Daughter of Iardanus, widow of Tmolus, and queen of Lydia, with whom Heracles spent three years in bondage. (See HERACLES.)
OMPHALOS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
A marble boss in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, which was regarded as the centre of the earth. (See DELPHIC ORACLE.)
ONAGER A catapult for hurling stones. (See further, ARTILLERY.)
ONATAS
ONESANDRUS A Greek philosopher, the composer of a work dedicated to Q. Veranius, consul in 49 A.D., and dealing with the Duty of a General, in which he treats the subject in philosophical commonplaces, without any practical acquaintance with it, and simply from an ethical point of view.
ONESICRITUS A Greek historian, of the island of Astypal'a or 'gina. In advanced years he was a pupil of the Cynic Diogenes, and then accompanied Alexander the Great upon his expedition. By order of Alexander he investigated, with Nearchus, the route by sea from India to the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris. He afterwards lived at the court of Lysimachus, king of Thrace. During Alexander's life he began a comprehensive history of that personage, which fell into disrepute owing to its exaggerations and its false accounts of distant lands [Strabo, p. 628]. Only scanty fragments of it are preserved.
ONIROCRITICE
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The art of interpreting dreams. (See MANTIKE and DREAMS.)
ONIROS The god of dreams (q.v.).
ONOMACRITUS An Athenian, who lived at the court of Pisistratus and his sons. At the request of Pisistratus, he prepared an edition of the Homeric poems. He was an industrious collector, and also a forger of old oracles and poems. Those which go under the name of Orpheus are regarded as, for the most part, concocted by himself. He was detected in forging an oracle of Mus'us, and banished from Athens by the Pisistratid'; but he was afterwards reconciled to them, and in their interest induced Xerxes, by alleged oracular responses, to decide upon his war with Greece [Herodotus, viii 6].
OPALIA AND OPECONSIVA Feasts of the Roman goddess Ops (q.v.).
OPHELTES Son of king Lycurgus of Nemea. He was killed by a serpent at the time of the expedition of the Seven against Thebes (q.v.), owing to the negligence of his nurse Hypsipyle (q.v.), who laid the boy on the grass while she showed the thirsty heroes the way to a spring of water. It was in his memory that the Nemean games were originally celebrated, and he was worshipped there under the name Archemorus (q.v.), given him by the seer Amphiaraus.
OPISTHODOMUS
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The room which in many Greek temples adjoined the temple chamber itself at the rear, and which often served for the preserving of the temple treasure, and indeed even of the State moneys. For the latter purpose the Athenians used the opisthodomus [of the old temple of Athene, and afterwards (according to the ordinary view) the western chamber] of the Parthenon at Athens [Aristoph. Plutus, 1192; Dem. Syntax. 14; Timocr. 136]. (See TEMPLE, and plan of ACROPOLIS.)
OPPIAN
OPS The old Italian goddess of fertility, wife of Saturn, with whom she shared the temple on the Capitol and the festival of the Saturnalia, while the Opalia were held in her honour on the 19th December. As goddess of sowing and reaping she had, under the name Consivia, on August 25th a special festival, the Opeconsiva, at which however only the Vestals and one of the pontifices could be present. As her abode was in the earth, her worshippers invoked her while seated and touching the ground [Macrobius, Saturnalia, i 10]. Just as Saturn was identified with Cronus, so Ops was afterwards identified with Rhea, and then, as mother of Jupiter, honoured along with Jupiter himself on the Capitol.
OPTIMATES At Rome, in the last century of the Republic, this title was borne by the adherents of the "best" men in a political sense (i.e. the conservatives), working in the interests of the Senate and the aristocracy of office (nobiles, see NOBILITY), and in opposition to the democrats (populares).
ORACLES
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64

Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The seats of the worship of some special divinity, where prophecies were imparted with the sanction of the divinity, either by the priests themselves or with their co-operation. There were a great many such places in all Greek countries, and these may be divided, according to the method in which the prophecy was made known, into four main divisions: (1) oral oracles, (2) oracles by signs, (3) oracles by dreams, and (4) oracles of the dead. The most revered oracles were those of the first class, where the divinity, almost invariably the seer-god Apollo, orally revealed his will through the lips of inspired prophets or prophetesses. The condition of frenzy was produced for the most part by physical influence: the breathing of earthly vapours or drinking of the water of oracular fountains. The words spoken whilst in this state were generally fashioned by the priests into a reply to the questions proposed to them. The most famous oracle of this kind was that of Delphi (see DELPHIC ORACLE). Beside this there existed in Greece Proper a large number of oracles of Apollo, as at Ab' in Phocis, in different places of Boeotia, in Euboea, and at Argos, where the priestess derived her inspiration from drinking the blood of a lamb, one being killed every month. Not less numerous were the oracles of Apollo in Asia Minor. Among these that of the Didym'an Apollo at Miletus traced its origin to the old family of the Branchid', the descendants of Apollo's son Branchus. Before its destruction by Xerxes, it came nearest to the reputation of the Delphian. Here it was a priestess who prophesied, seated on a wheel-shaped disc, after she had bathed the hem of her robe and her feet in a spring, and had breathed the steam arising from it. The oracle at Clarus near Colophon (see MANTO) was also very ancient. Here a priest, after simply hearing the names and the number of those consulting the oracle, drank of the water of a spring, and then gave answer in verse. The most respected among the oracles where prophecy was given by signs was that of Zeus of Dodona (q.v.), mentioned as early as Homer [Od. xiv 327=xix 296], where predictions were made from the rustling of the sacred oak, and at a later time from the sound of a brazen cymbal. Another mode of interpreting by signs, as practised especially at the temple of Zeus at Olympia by the Iamid', or descendants of Iamus, a son of Apollo, was that derived from the entrails of victims and the burning of the sacrifices on the altar. There were also oracles connected with the lot or dice, one especially at the temple of Heracles at Bura in Ach'a; and prophecies were also delivered at Delphi by means of lots, probably only at times when the Pythia was not giving responses. The temple of the Egyptian Ammon, who was identified with Zeus, also gave oracles by means of signs. Oracles given in dreams were generally connected with the temples of Asclepius. After certain preliminary rites, sick persons had to sleep in these temples; the priests interpreted their dreams, and dictated accordingly the means to be taken to insure recovery. The most famous of these oracular shrines of the healing god was the temple at Epidaurus, and next to this the temple founded thence at Pergamum in Asia Minor. Equally famous were the similar oracles of the seer Amphilochus at Oropus, of Trophonius at Lebadea in Boeotia, and of the seers Mopsus and Amphilochus at Mallus in Cilicia (q.v.). In later times such oracles were connected with all sanctuaries of Isis and Serapis. At oracles of the dead (psychomanteia) the souls of deceased persons were evoked in order to give the information desired. Thus in Homer [Od. xi] Odysseus betakes himself to the entrance of the lower world to question the spirit of the seer Tiresias. Oracles of this kind were especially common in places where it was supposed there was an entrance to the lower world; as at the city of Cichyrus in Epirus (where there was an Acherusian lake as well as the rivers of Acheron and Cocytus, bearing the same, names as those of the world below), at the promontory of T'narum in Laconia, at Heraclea in Pontus, and at Lake Avernus near Cum' in Italy. At most of them oracles were also given in dreams; but there were some in which the inquirer was in a waking condition when he conjured up the spirits whom he wished to question. While oracles derived either from dreams or from the dead were chosen in preference by superstitious people, the most important among oral oracles and those given by means of signs had a political significance. On all serious occasions they were questioned on behalf of the State in order to ascertain the divine will: this was especially the case with the oracle of Delphi (see DELPHIC ORACLE). In consequence of the avarice and partisanship of the priests, as well as the increasing decline of belief in the gods, the oracles gradually fell into abeyance, to revive again everywhere under the Roman emperors, though they never regained the political importance they had once had in ancient Greece. Such investigation of the divine will was originally quite foreign to the ROMANS. Even the mode of prophecying by means of lots (see SORTES), practised in isolated egions of Italy, and even in the immediate neighbourhood of Rome, as at C're, and especially at Pr'neste, did not come into use, at all events for State purposes, and was generally regarded with contempt. The Romans did not consult even the Sibylline verses in order to forecast the future. On the other hand, the growth of superstition in the imperial period not only brought the native oracles into repute, but caused a general resort to foreign oracles besides. The inclination to this kind of prophecy seems never to have been more generally spread among the masses of the people than at this time. Apart from the Greek oracular deities, there were the oriental deities whose worship was nearly everywhere combined with predictions. In most of the famous sanctuaries the most various forms of prophecy were represented, and the stranger they were, the better they were liked. In the case of the oral oracles the responses in earlier times were for the most part composed in verse: on the decay of poetic productiveness, they began to take the form of prose, or of passages from the poets, the Greeks generally adopting lines of Homer or Euripides, the Italians, lines of Vergil. The public declaration of oracles ended with the official extermination of paganism under Theodosius at the end of the 4th century.
ORCHESTRA
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The space of the Greek theatre situated in front of the stage, in which the chorus went through its evolutions. In the Roman theatre it was absorbed in the area occupied by the audience. (See THEATRE.)
ORCUS In Roman mythology, a peculiar divinity of the dead, a creation of the popular beliefs. He carried men off to the lower world, and kept the dead imprisoned there. His name, like that of the Greek Hades, served to denote the lower world. (Cp. DIS PATER.).
ORESTES
ORGEONES
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The Athenian term for the members of a society for the observance of a divine cult not belonging to the State religion, especially those who, without belonging to the old families (see GENNET'), nevertheless like them formed a family union originating in descent from the same ancestors, and possessed a special family worship. The adoption of the children of families belonging to such a religious society occurred, as with the Gennet', at the same time as their enrolment into the phratries at the feast of the Apaturia (q.v.).
ORGIES The ordinary Greek term for ceremonies, generally connected with the worship of a divinity, but especially secret religious customs to which only the initiated were admitted, and equivalent in meaning to "mysteries." It was customary to designate as Orgies the mysteries of the worship of Dionysus in particular. These were sometimes celebrated with wild and extravagant rites.
ORION A Greek scholar born at Thebes in Egypt, who taught about the middle of the 5th century A.D. at Alexandria and Constantinople. He is the author of a somewhat important etymological lexicon, and an anthology of maxims collected from the old Greek poets.
ORION
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
A mythical hunter of gigantic size and strength and of great beauty. He was the son of Hyrieus of Hyria in Boeotia; or (according to another account) of Poseidon, who gave him the power to walk over the sea as well as over dry land. He is sometimes represented as an earthborn being. Many marvellous exploits were ascribed to him: for instance, the building of the huge harbour-dam of Zancle (Messana) and the upheaving of the promontory of Pelorum in Sicily [Diodorus, iv 85]. After his wife Side had been cast into Hades by Hera for having dared to compare herself to that goddess in beauty, he crossed the sea to Chios in order to woo Merope, the daughter of (Enopion, son of Dionysus and Ariadne. As he violated her in a fit of intoxication, (Enopion blinded him in his sleep and cast him out upon the seashore. He groped his way, however, to Lemnos and the smithy of Heph'stus, set one of the latter's workmen, Cedalion, upon his shoulders, and bade him guide him to the place where the sun rose; and in the radiance thereof his eyesight returned. (Enopion hid himself beneath the earth to escape his vengeance. Eos, smitten with love for Orion, carried him off to Delos (Ortygia), and there lived with him, until the gods in their anger caused him to be killed by Artemis with her arrows. According to another story, Artemis shot him in Chios or Crete, either for having challenged her to a contest with the quoit, or for having endeavoured to outrage her whilst engaged in the chase. Another legend relates that the earth, terrified by his threat that he could root out every wild creature from Crete, sent forth a scorpion, which killed him with its sting. His tomb was shown in Tanagra. In Homer [Od. xi 572] Odysseus sees him in the lower world as a shade still pursuing with his club of bronze the creatures whom he slew in former times. As regards the legend of his being placed among the stars, see PLEIADES. The morning rising of his constellation, which was already known as early as Homer [Il. xviii 488] denoted the beginning of summer, his midnight rising denoted the season of the vintage, and his late rising the beginning of winter and its storms. Whilst he sinks, the Scorpion, which was likewise placed among the stars, rises above the horizon. Sirius (Gr.Seirios), the star of the dog-days, is described, as early as Homer [Il. xxii 29], as the dog of Orion. Of his daughters Menippe and Metioche, it was related that they were endowed by Aphrodite with beauty and by Athene with skill in the art of weaving; and when, on the occasion of a pestilence ravaging Boeotia, the sacrifice of two virgins was required by the oracle, they voluntarily, to save their country, pierced their throats with their shuttles. As a reward for their voluntary sacrifice, Persephone and Pluto changed them into comets; while a sanc, tuary was built in their honour at Orchomenus, and expiatory offerings were yearly paid to them.
OSCHOPHORIA At Athens a festival in honour of Dionysus. (See further DIONYSIA, 1.)
OSIRIS An Egyptian god, who, with his sister and wife Isis (q.v.), enjoyed in Egypt the most general worship of all the gods. He is the male god of the fructification of the land. From him comes every blessing and all life; he gives light and health; he causes the Nile to overflow with its fertilizing waters, and all things to continue in their established order. He is always represented in human shape and with a human head (see cut). His hue, as that of a god who bestows life, is green; his sacred tree is the ever-green tamarisk. The Greeks identified him with Dionysus. Originally he ruled as king over Egypt, where he introduced agriculture, morality, and the worship of the gods, until his brother Typhon (Set) contrived by deceit to shut him up in a chest and put him to death by pouring in molten lead. The murderer cast the chest into the Nile, which carried it into the sea. After long search the mourning Isis found the chest on the coast of Phoenicia, at Byblus, and carefully concealed it. Nevertheless Typhon discovered it in the night, and cut the corpse up into fourteen pieces, which he scattered in all directions. Isis, however, collected them again, and buried them in Phil' or Abydus, in Upper Egypt. When Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, grew up, he took vengeance upon Typhon when, after a most obstinate struggle, he had defeated him in battle. Although Osiris lived no longer upon the earth, he was ever regarded as the source of life. In the upper world he continues to live and work by the fresh power of his youthful son Horus, and in the lower world, of which he is king, the spirits of those who are found to te just are awakened by him to new life. His hue as ruler of the lower world is black, his robes white, his symbol an eye opened wide as a sign of his restoration to the light of day. Osiris, by his ever-renewed incarnation in the form of the black bull Apis, the symbol of generative power, assures for the Egyptians the endurance of his favour, and the consequent continuance of their life in this world and the next. In this incarnation he is called Osarhapi (Osiris-Apis), the origin of the Greek Serapis (q.v.) or Sarapis. The fortunes of Osiris were celebrated in magnificent annual festivals connected with mourning ceremonies, in which the Egyptians, as is observed by the ancients [e.g. Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, 32, and 'lian, De Nat. Animalium 10, 46], lamented in Osiris the subsidence of the Nile, the cessation of the cool north wind (whose place was taken for a time by the hot wind Typhon), the decay of vegetation, and the shortening of the length of the day.
OSTIUM
Deprecated: Function split() is deprecated in /www/www-ccat/data/classics/myth/php/tools/dictionary.php on line 64
The entrance hall in the Roman dwelling-house. (See HOUSE.)
OSTRACISM
OVIDIUS NASO A Roman poet, born March 21st, 43 B.C., at Sulmo (now Solmona) in the country of the P'ligni, son of a wealthy Roman of an old equestrian family. He came at an early age to Rome, to be educated as a pleader, and enjoyed the tuition of the most famous rhetoricians of the time, Porcius Latro and Arellius Fuscus. It was not long before the instinct for poetry awoke in him with such power that it needed all his father's resolution to keep him to his legal studies; his oratorical exercises were simply poems in prose, as is testified by one of his fellow students, the elder Seneca [Controv. ii 10, 8]. After he had visited Greece and Asia to complete his education, he entered into political life at his father's desire, and filled several subordinate offices. But he soon withdrew again from public business, partly on the ground of his health and partly from an inclination to idleness, and lived only for poetry, in the society of the poets of his day, among whom he was especially intimate with Propertius. He came into note as a poet by a tragedy called the Medea, which is now lost, but is much praised by ancient literary critics, and about the same time he produced a series of amatory, and in parts extremely licentious, poems. When little more than a mere boy, as he says himself [Tristia, iv 10, 69], he was given a wife by his father; but this marriage, like a second one, ended in a divorce. He derived more satisfaction, as well as the advantage of contact with the court and with men of the highest distinction, from a third marriage, with a widow of noble family and high connexions. To her influence, perhaps, should be referred the fact that he turned his attention to more important and more serious works. He had almost completed his best known work, the Metamorphoses, when suddenly, in 9 A.D., he was banished for life by Augustus to Tomi on the Black Sea, near the mouths of the Danube. The cause for this severity on the part of the emperor is unknown; Ovid himself admits that there was a fault on his side, but only an error, not a crime [Tristia i 3, 37]. At all events, the matter directly affected Augustus; and as Ovid describes his eyes as the cause of his misfortune, it is conjectured that he had been an unintentional eyewitness of some offence on the part of the frivolous granddaughter of the prince, the younger Julia, and had neglected to inform the emperor of the matter. His indecent amatory poems, to which he also points as the source of the emperor's displeasure, can at most only have been used as a plausible excuse in the eyes of the public, as they had been published more than ten years before. After a perilous voyage Ovid reached the place of his exile in the winter of 10-11 A.D.; and there, far from his wife and from his only daughter, who had inherited the poetic talent of her father, far from his friends and all intercourse with men of genius, he had to pass the last years of his life in desolation among the barbarous Get'. Even in his exile his poetic talent did not fail him. It was then that he composed his poems of lamentation, entitled the Tristia, and his letters from Pontus, touching proofs of his grief, though also of his failing powers. His ceaseless prayers and complaints had succeeded in softening Augustus, when the latter died. All his efforts to gain forgiveness or alleviation of his condition met with no response from Tiberius, and he was compelled to close his life, broken-hearted and in exile, 17 A.D. His extant works are (1) Love poems (Amores), published about 14 B.C., in five books, and again about 2 B.C. in three books. The latter edition is the one we possess; some of its forty-nine elegies depict in a very sensual way the poet's life, the centre of which is the unknown Corinna. (2) Letters (Epistutloe), also called Heroides, rhetorical declamations in the form of loveletters sent by heroines to their husbands or lovers, twenty-one in number; the last six of these, however, and the fourteenth, are considered spurious. (3) Methods for beautifying the face (Medicamina Faciei), advice to women respecting the art of the toilette; this piece has come down to us in an incomplete form. (4) The Art of Love (Ars Amandi orAmatoria), in three books, published about 2 B.C., advice to men (books 1 and 2) and women (book 3) as to the methods of contracting a love-affair and insuring its continuance, a work as frivolous as it is original and elaborate. (5) Cures for Love (Remedia Amoris), the pendant to the previous work, and no less offensive in substance and tone. (6) The fifteen books of the Transformations (Metamorphoses), his only considerable work. It is composed in hexameter verse; the material is borrowed from Greek and (to a less extent) from Roman sources, being a collection of legends of transformations, very skilfully combining jest and earnest in motley alternations, and extending from chaos to the apotheosis of C'sar. When it was completed and had received the last touches, the work was cast into the flames by Ovid in his first despair at banishment, but was afterwards rewritten from other copies. (7) A Calendar of Roman Festivals (Fasti), begun in the last years before his banishment, and originally in twelve books, corresponding to the number of the months. Of these only six are preserved, probably because Ovid had not quite completed them at Rome, and had not the means to do so at Tomi. It was originally intended for dedication to Augustus. After Augustus' death the poet began to revise it, with a view to its dedication to Germanicus; he did not, however, proceed with his revision beyond the first book. It contains in elegiac metre the most important celestial phenomena and the festivals of each month, with a description of their celebration and an account of their origin according to the Italian legends. (8) Poems of Lamentation (Tristia), to his family, to his friends, and to Augustus, belonging to the years 9-13 A.D., in five books; the first of these was written while he was still on his journey to Tomi. (9) Letters from Pontus (Epistuloe ex Ponto), in four books, only distinguished from the previous poems by their epistolary form. (10) Ibis, an imitation of the poem of the same name by Callimachus, who had attacked under this name Apollonius of Rhodes, consisting of imprecations on a faithless friend at Rome, written in the learned and obscure style of the Alexandrian poets. (11) A short fragment of a didactic poem on the fish in the Black Sea (Halieutica), written in hexameters. Besides these Ovid wrote during his exile numerous poems which have been lost, among them a eulogy of the deceased Augustus in the Getic tongue, a sufficient proof of the strength of his bent and talent for poetry. In both of these respects he is distinguished above all other Roman poets. Perhaps no one ever composed with less exertion; at the same time no one ever used so important a faculty for so trivial a purpose. His poetry is for the most part simply entertaining; in this kind of writing he proves his mastery by his readiness in language and metre, by his unwearied powers of invention, by his ever-ready wit, elegance, and charm, though, on the other hand, he is completely wanting in deep feeling and moral earnestness. By his talent Ovid (as well as Vergil) has had great influence on the further development of Roman poetry, especially with regard to metre. Many imitated his style so closely, that their poems were actually attributed to himself. Among these, besides a number of Heroides (see above), we have the Nux, the nut tree's complaint of the ill-treatment it met with, a poem in elegiac verse, which was at all events written in the time of Ovid.
Back to Dictionary Browse
 
gutter splint
gutter splint
PLACE HOLDER FOR COUNTER
gutter splint