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HELLE 100.00%

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In Greek mythology, daughter of Athamas and Nephele. (See ATHAMAS.)
 
ATHAMAS 100.00%

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Son of Aeolus, king of Thessaly, and Enarete; brother of Cretheus, Sisyphus, and Salmoneus; king of the Minyae in the Boeotian Orchomenus. He was the husband of the cloud-goddess Nephele, mother of Phrixus and Helle, who left him on his union with a mortal, Ino the daughter of Cadmus. Nephele, in anger visited the land with a drought, upon which Ino endeavoured, by means of a pretended oracle, to have her stepson Phrixus sacrificed on the altar of Zeus Laphystius. But Nephele conveyed the children away through the air on a golden-fleeced ram. During the passage Helle fell into the sea, which was afterwards, from her name, called the Hellespontus. But her brother arrived safely at the palace of Aeetes, king of Aea, who gave him his daughter Chalciope in marriage. Afterwards Athamas was himself about to be sacrificed by his peogle to Zeus Laphystius; but he was save by the appearance of Phrixus' son Cytissorus, who brought the news that Phrixus was still alive. His escape, however, only brought down the wrath of the god upon his descendants. The first-born of his race was ever afterwards liable to be sacrificed to Zeus Laphystius, if he entered the council-chamber and did not get out of the way in time. Later on Athamas was visited with madness by Hera, because Ino brought up her nephew Dionysus, the son of her sister Semele. In his frenzy he killed his son Learchus, and persecuted Ino, who with her other son Melicertes leaped into the sea. Here she became the sea-goddess Leucothea, and her son the sea-god Palaemon. On recovering from his madness, Athamas was commanded by an oracle to settle in a place where he should be hospitably treated by wild beasts. In the part of Thessaly which was named, after him, the Athamanian plain, he came upon some wolves, who fled from him, and left him the sheep-bones on which they were feeding. He settled here, and wedded Themisto. (See THEMISTO.) The story is no doubt founded upon the old custom which the Minyae had of offering the first-born of the race of Athamas to Zeus Laphystius, in case he failed to make good his escape as Phrixus did.
 
NEPHELE 91.91%

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Wife of Athamas, mother of Phrixus and Helle. (See ATHAMAS.)
 
LEARCHUS 62.79%
The son of Athamas (q.v.) and Ino. He was killed by his father in a fit of madness.
 
PHRIXUS 39.37%

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Son of Athamas and Nephele, threatened with death as a sacrifice through the malice of his stepmother Ino, escaped with his sister Helle on a ram with golden fleece, sent him by Zeus, Hermes, or Nephele. Helle was drowned on the way in the sea which bears her name, the Hellespont; but Phrixus arrived safely in Colchis, where he sacrificed the ram to Zeus as the "aider of flight" (Zeus Phyxios), and presented the golden fleece to king Acetes. Acetes hung it on an oak in the grove of Ares, and gave Phrixus his daughter Chalclope to wife. Phrixus sent his sons Cytissorus and Argus home. The former saved his grandfather Athamas from being sacrificed; the latter built the ship Argo, which was named after him. (See ATHAMASand ARGONAUTS.)
 
MELICERTIS 19.93%

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In Greek legend the son of Athamas and Ino, and ch~nged, after his death by drowning, into the marine deity Palaemon, while his mother became Leucothea. (See INO). His name (=Melkart), however, shows him to have been originally a Plicenician god. Like Ino-Leucothea, he was worshipped on all the coast of the Mediterranean, especially on that of Megara and at the Isthmus of Corinth, where he was so closely connected with the cult of Poseidon, that the Isthmian games, originally instituted in honour of this god, came to be looked upon as the funeral games of Melicertes. The Romans regarded him as a beneficent god of the sea, and identified him with Portunus, the god of harbours.
 
THEMISTO 14.85%
The third wife of Athamas (q.v.) who married her under the impression that his wife Ino was dead. When he heard, however, that Ino was living as a votary of Dionysus, in the ravines of Parnassus, he secretly sent for her. Themisto, on hearing this, determined, in revenge, to kill Ino's children, and ordered a slave, who had lately come to the house, to dress her children in white and Ino's in black, so that she might be able to distinguish them in the night. But the slave, who was Ino herself, suspecting the evil intention, exchanged the clothes. Themisto, in consequence, killed her own children, and, on becoming aware of her mistake, slew herself also.
 
ATALANTE 9.85%

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Greek heroine of the type of Artemis. There were two slightly different versions of her story, one current in Arcadia and the other in Boeotia. (1) The Arcadian version. Atalante, daughter of Zeus and Clymene, was exposed by her father, who had desired male offspring only. She was suckled by a bear, until she was found and brought up by a party of hunters. Under their care she grew up to be a huntress, keen, swift and beautiful. She took part in the Calydonian boar-hunt, was the first who struck the boar, and received from Meleager the head and skin of the beast as the prize of victory. (See MELEAGER.) She is also associated with the voyage of the Argonauts. She turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of her numerous suitors; but at last she propitiated the wrath of Aphrodite by returning the faithful love of the beautiful Millanion, who had followed her persistently, and suffered and struggled for her. Their son was Parthenopaeeus, one of the Seven against Thebes. (See SEVEN AGAINST THEBES.) (2) The Boetian version. Atalante was the daughter of Schoeneus, son of Athamas, and distinguished for beauty and swiftness of foot. An oracle warns her against marriage, and she accordingly lives a lonely life in the forest. She meets the addresses of her suitors by challenging them to race with her, overtaking them in the race and spearing them in the back. She is at length beaten by Hippomenes, who during the race drops on the ground three golden apples given him by Aphrodite. Atalante stoops down to pick up the apples, and thus loses the race. Hippomenes forgets to render thanks to Aphrodite, and the goddess in anger causes the pair to wander into a sanctuary of Cybele, where they are changed into lions.
 
SISYPHUS 9.68%
 
DIONYSUS 3.69%

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sometimes Dionysus (Greek). The god of luxuriant fertility, especially as displayed by the vine; and therefore the god of wine. His native place, according to the usual tradition, was Thebes, where he was born to Zeus by Semele, the daughter of Cadmus. Semele was destroyed by the lightning of her lover, and the child was born after six months. Zeus accordingly sewed it up in his thigh till ripe for birth and then gave it over to Ino, the daughter of Semele. (See ATHAMAS.) After her death Hermes took the boy to the nymphs of Mount Nysa, or according to another version, to the Hyades of Dodona, who brought him up, and hid him in a cave away from the anger of Hera. It cannot be ascertained where Mount Nysa was originally supposed to be. In later times the name was transferred to many places where the vine was cultivated, not only in Greece, but in Asia, India, and Africa. When grown up, Dionysus is represented as planting the vine, and wandering through the wide world to spread his worship among men, with his wine-flushed train (thiasos), his nurses and other nymphs, Satyrs, Sileni, and similar woodland deities. Whoever welcomes him kindly, like Icarius in Attica, and CEneus in Aetolia, receives the gift of wine; but those who resist him are terribly punished. For with all his appearance of youth and softness, he is a mighty and irresistible god, strong to work wonders. A whole series of fables is apparently based upon the tradition that in many places, where a serious religious ritual existed, the dissolute worship of Dionysus met with a vigorous resistance. (See LYCURGUS, MINYADAe, PENTHEUS, PRCETUS.) This worship soon passed from the continent of Greece to the wine-growing islands, and flourished pre-eminently at Naxos. Here it was, according to the story, that the god wedded Ariadne. In the islands a fable was current that he fell in with some Tyrrhenian pirates who took him to their ship and put him in chains. But his fetters fell off, the sails and the mast were wreathed in vine and ivy, the god was changed into a lion, while the seamen throw themselves madly into the sea and were turned into dolphins. In forms akin to this the worship of Dionysus passed into Egypt and far into Asia. Hence arose a fable founded on the story of Alexander's campaigns, that the god passed victoriously through Egypt, Syria, and India as far as the Ganges, with his army of Sileni, Satyrs, and inspired women, the Maenades or Bacchantes, carrying their wands (thyrsi) crowned with vines and ivy. Having thus constrained all the world to the recognition of his deity, and having, with Heracles, assisted the gods, in the form of a lion, to victory in their war with the Giants, he was taken to Olympus, where, in Homer, he does not appear. From Olympus be descends to the lower world, whence he brings his mother, who is worshipped with him under the name of Thyone (the wild one), as Leto was with Apollo and Artemis. From his mother he is called Thyoneus, a name which, with others of similar meaning, such as Bacchus, Bromios, Evios, and Iacchos, points to a worship founded upon a different conception of his nature. In the myth with which we have been hitherto concerned, the god appears mainly in the character and surroundings of joy and triumph. But, as the god of the earth, Dionysus belongs, like Persophone, to the world below as well as to the world above. The death of vegetation in winter was represented as the flight of the god into hiding from the sentence of his enemies, or even as his extinction, but he returned again from obscurity, or rose from the dead, to new life and activity. In this conexion he was called Zagreus ("Torn in pieces") and represented as a son of Zeus and his daughter Persephone, or sometimes of Zeus and Demeter. In his childhood he was torn to pieces by the Titans, at the command of the jealous Hera. But every third year, after spending the interval in the lower world, he is born anew. According to the Orphic story, Athene brought her son's heart to Zeus, who gave it to Semele, or swallowed it himself, whereupon the Theban or younger Dionysus was born. The grave of Dionysus was shown at Delphi in the inmost shrine of the temple of Apollo. Secret offerings were brought thither, while the women who were celebrating the feast woke up Licnites; in other words, invoked the new-born god cradled in a winnowing fan, on the neighbouring mountain of Parnassus. Festivals of this kind, in celebration of the extinction and resurrection of the deity, were held by women and girls only, amid the mountains at night, every third year, about the time of the shortest day. The rites, intended to express the excess of grief and joy at the death and reappearance of the god, were wild even to savagery, and the women who performed them were hence known by the expressive names of Bacchae, Maenads, and Thyiades. They wandered through woods and mountains, their flying locks crowned with ivy or snakes, brandishing wands and torches, to the hollow sounds of the drum, and the shrill notes of the flute, with wild dances, and insane cries and jubilation. The victims of the sacrifice, oxen, goats, even fawns and roes from the forest, were killed, torn in pieces and eaten raw, in imitation of the treatment of Zagreus by the Titans. Thrace, and Macedonia, and Asiatic Greece were the scene of the wildest orgies; indeed Thrace seems to be the country of their birth. In Asiatic Greece, it should be added, the worship of Dionysus-Zagreus came to be associated with the equally wild rites of Rhea (Cybele), and Atys, and Sabus or Sabazius. (See SABAZIUS.) In Greece Proper the chief seats of these were Parnassus, with Delphi and its neighbourhood, Baeotia, Argos, and Laconia, and in Baeotia and Laconia especially the mountains Chitaeron and Taygetus. They were also known in Naxos, Crete, and other islands. They seem to have been unknown in Attica, though Dionysus was worshipped at the Eleusinian mysteries with Persephone and Demeter, under the name of Iacchos, as brother or bridegroom of Persephone. But the Attic cycle of national festivals in honour of Dionysus represents the idea of the ancient and simple Hellenic worship, with its merry usages. Here Dionysus is the god who gives increase and luxuriance to vineyard and tree. For he is a kindly and gentle power, terrible only to his enemies, and born for joy and blessing to mankind. His gifts bring strength and healing to the body, gladness and forgetfulness of care to the mind, whence he was called Lyaeos, or the loosener of care, They are ennobling in their effects, for they require tending, and thus keep men employed in diligent labour; they bring them together in merry meetings, and inspire them to music and poetry. Thus it is to the worship of Dionysus that the dithyramb and the drama owe their origin and development. In this way Dionysus is closely related, not only to Demeter, Aphrodite, Eros, the Graces and the Muses, but to Apollo, because he inspires men to prophesy. The most ancient representation of Dionysus consists of wooden images with the phallus, as the symbol of generative power. In works of art he is sometimes represented as the ancient Indian Dionysus, the conqueror of the East. In this character he appears, as in the Vatican statue called Sardanapalus, of high stature, with a luxuriant wealth of hair on head and chin (comp. fig. 1). Sometimes again, as in numerous statues which have survived, he is a youth of soft and feminine shape, with a dreamy expression, his long, clustering hair confined by a fillet or crown of vine or ivy, generally naked, or with a fawn or panther skin thrown lightly over him. He is either reposing or leaning idly back with the Thyrsos, grapes, or a cup in his hand (fig. 2). Often, too, he is surrounded by the fauns of his retinue, Maenads, Satyrs, Sileni, Centaurs, etc., or by Nymphs, Muses, Cupids, indeed in the greatest possible number and variety of situations. (See the engravings.) Besides the vine, ivy, and rose, the panther, lion, lynx, ox, goat, and dolphin were sacred to him. His usual sacrifices were the ox and the goat. In Italy the indigenous god Liber, with a feminine Libera at his side, corresponded to the Greek god of wine. Just as the Italian Ceres was identified with Demeter, so these two deities were identified with Dionysus, or Iakchos, and Persephone, with whom they were worshipped under their native name, but with Greek rites, in a temple on the Aventine. (See CERES.) Liber or Bacchus, like Dionysus, had a country and an urban festival. The country festivities were held, with unrestrained merriment, at the time of grape-gathering and straining off the wine. The urban festival held in Rome on the 17th March, was called Liberalla. Old women, crowned with ivy, sold cheap cakes (liba) of meal, honey, and oil, and burnt them on little pans for the purchasers. The boys took their toga virilis or toga libera on this day, and offered sacrifice on the Capitol. Side by side with this public celebration, a secret worship, the Bacchanalia, found its way to Rome and into the whole of Italy. The Bacchanatia were celebrated by men and women, in Italy outside the cities, in Rome in the sacred enclosure of Stimula or Semele. They were accompanied with such shameless excesses that in 186 B.C. they were put down, with unsparing severity, by a decree of the senate.
 
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