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PELOPIA 100.00%

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Daughter of Thyestes, mother of Aegisthus by her own father. (See AeGISTHUS and ATREUS.)
 
AEGISTHUS 100.00%

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Son of Thyestes and his daughter Pelopia. At his birth he was exposed by his mother, and brought up by shepherds. His uncle Atreus, husband to Pelopia, finds him and brings him to Mycenae, thinking him to be his own son; but Aegisthus and his real father contrive to kill him and seize the sovereignty of Mycenae. (See ATREUS.) This position he loses again by his cousin Agamemnon's return from exile; but during that hero's absence at Troy he seduces his wife Clytaemnestra, and with her help slays him treacherously on his return. In the eighth year after this deed comes young Orestes, and avenges his father's death by slaying Aegisthus.
 
CLYTAEMNESTRA 66.03%

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Daughter of Tyndareus, and wife of Aegamemnon. With the aid of her lover, Aegisthus, she murdered her husband, and was, in turn, put to death by her son, Orestes. (See AGAMEMNON, AeGISTHUS, and ORESTES.)
 
ATREUS 23.62%

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Son of Pelops and Hippodamia, grandson of Tantalus. (See PELOPS.) With the help of his brother Thyestes he murdered his step-brother Chrysippus. To escape the wrath of their father, the pair of brothers took refuge with their brother-in-law Sthenelus, king of Mycenae, who gave them Media to live in. Eurystheus, the brother of their protector, was killed in battle with the Heracleidae. Atreus kept possession of the kingdom of Mycenae, which had been given him in charge by Eurystheus, and maintained it in virtue of possessing a golden lamb, which had been given him by Hermes for the purpose of exciting discord in the house of Pelops and avenging the death of his son Myrtilus. Thyestes debauched his brother's wife Aerope, daughter of the king of Crete, and with her aid got possession of the golden lamb and the kingdom. But, as a sign that right and wrong had been confounded, Zeus turned the sun and the moon back in their course. Atreus accordingly recovered the kingdom and expelled Thyestes. To revenge himself, Thyestes sent Pleisthenes, a son of Atreus whom he had brought up as his own, to Mycenae to murder Atreus. But Atreus slew Pleisthenes, not knowing that he was his son. Atreus replied by bringing back Thyestes and his family from exile, and serving up to Thyestes at table the limbs of his own sons. Thyestes fled away; the land was visited with barrenness and famine. In obedience to an oracle, Atreus goes forth to seek him, but only finds his daughter Pelopia, whom he takes to wife. Egisthus, her son by her father Thyestes, who is destined to avenge him, Atreus adopts and rears as his own child. Thyestes is afterwards found by Agamemnon and Menelaus, who bring him to Mycenae. He is imprisoned, and Aegisthus ordered to murder him. By the sword which Aegisthus carries Thyestes recognises him as his son, and proposes to him to slay Atreus. Meanwhile Pelopia, in horror at the discovery of her son's incestuous origin, drives the sword into her own breast. Aegisthus takes the bloody sword to Atreus as a proof that he has executed his commission, and afterwards falls upon him with Thyestes, while he is engaged in making a thank-offering on the sea-shore. Thyestes and Aegisthus thereupon seize the government of Mycenae, and drive Agamemnon and Menelaus out of the country. The older story knows nothing of these horrors. In Homer Pelops receives the sceptre from Zeus by the ministration of Hermes; he leaves it to Atreus, and Atreus to Thyestes, who hands it down to Agamemnon. Hesiod alludes to the wealth of the Pelopidae, but is silent as to the rest.
 
MENELAUS 11.44%
Son of Atreus, and younger brother of Agamemnon, with whom he was exiled by Thyestes, the murderer of Atreus, and fled to king Tyndareos, at Sparta, whose daughter Helen he married, and whose throne he inherited after the death of Helen's brothers, Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux). When Paris had robbed him of his wife and of great treasures, he went with Odysseus to Troy to demand restitution, and they were hospitably received there by Antenor. His just claims were refused, and his life was even in danger; he and Agamemnon accordingly called on the Greek chieftains to join in an expedition against Troy, and himself furnished sixty ships. At Troy he distinguished himself in counsel and in action, and was specially protected by Athene and Hera. In the single combat with Paris he is victorious, but his opponent is rescued and carried off by Aphrodite. On demanding that Helen and the treasures should be restored, he is wounded by an arrow shot by the Trojan Pandarus. He is also ready to fight Hector, and is only prevented by the entreaties of his friends. When Patroclus has fallen, he shields the dead body, at first alone, and then with the aid of Ajax, and bears it from the field of battle with Meriones. He is also one of the heroes of the wooden horse. Having recovered Helen he hastens home, but on rounding the promontory of Malea he is driven to Egypt with five ships, and wanders about for eight years among the peoples of the East, where he is kindly received everywhere and receives rich gifts. He is finally detained at the isle of Pharos by contrary winds, and with the help of the marine goddess Eidothea he artfully compels her father Proteus to prophecy to him. He thus learns the reason of his being unwillingly detained at the island, and is also told that, as husband of the daughter of Zeus, he will not die, but enter the Elysian plains alive. After appeasing the gods in Egypt with hecatombs, he returns swiftly and prosperously to his home, where he arrives on the very day on which Orestes is burying Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra. He spent the rest of his life quietly withHelen, in Lacedaemon. Their only daughter Hermione was married to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles.
 
AESCHYLUS 7.11%

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The earliest of the three great tragic poets of Greece, son of Euphorion. He was born at Eleusis, near Athens, B.C. 525, of an old and noble stock, fought at Marathon, Salamis and Plataeae, and in his 25th year appeared as a writer of tragedies and rival of Pratinas and Choerilus, though he did not win his first victory till 488 B.C. About 476 he lived in Sicily, at the court of Hiero of Syracuse, and composed his Aetnoeans for the consecration of the city of Aetna, founded by that king in the place of the ancient Catana. On his return to Athens he was beaten by the young Sophocles with his very first play, but vanquished him again the next year with the Tetralogy of which the Seven against Thebes formed a part. After the performance of his Oresteia, B.C. 459, he quitted home once more, perhaps in disgust at the growing power of the democracy; and after three years' residence at Gela in Sicily, was killed, says one story, by an eagle dropping a tortoise on his bare skull. The inhabitants of Gela buried his remains, and honoured them with a splendid monument. At a later time the Athenians, on the motion of the orator Lycurgus, placed a brazen statue of him, as well as of Sophocles and Euripides, in the theatre; by a decree of the people a chorus was granted for every performance of his plays, and the garland of victory voted him as though be were still living among them. His tragedies, like those of the other two, were preserved in a special standard copy, to guard them against arbitrary alterations. His son Euphorion was also an esteemed tragic poet, so was his sister's son Philocles and his descendants for several generations. (See TRAGEDY.) The number of Aeschylus's plays is stated as 90, of which 82 are still known by title, but only 7 are preserved: (1) The Persians, performed in 473 B.C., was named from the chorus. Its subject was the same as that of Phrynichus' Phaenissae, the defeat of Xerxes at Salamis, but was differently treated. (2) The Seven against Thebes, part of a Tetralogy, embracing the cycle of Theban legend, of which Laius and OEdipus formed the first two pieces, and the satyric drama Sphinx the conclusion. (3) The Suppliants, the reception of Danaus and his daughters at Argos, evidently part of another Tetralogy, and, to judge by the simple plot and its old-fashioned treatment, one of his earliest works. (4) Prometheus Bound, part of a Trilogy, the Prometheia, whose first and last pieces were probably Prometheus the Fire-bringer and Prometheus Unbound. Lastly, the Oresteia, the one Trilogy which has survived, consisting of the three tragedies, (5) Agamemnon, the murder of that hero on his return home; (6) The Choephoroe, named from the chorus of captive Trojan women offering libations at Agamemnon's tomb, in which Orestes avenges himself on Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra; and (7) The Eumenides, in which Orestes, pursued by the Furies, is acquitted by the Areopagus at Athens. This Trilogy, composed B.C. 458, and probably the last work exhibited by Aeschylus at Athens, gives us an idea of the whole artistic conception of the poet, and must be looked upon as one of the greatest works of art ever produced. The style is marked by sublimity and majesty, qualities partly attributable to the courageous and serious temper of the time, but chiefly the offspring of the poet's individuality, which took delight in all that is great and grand, and loved to express itself in strong, sonorous words, an accumulation of epithets, and a profusion of bold metaphors and similes. His view of the universe reveals a profoundly philosophic mind, so that the ancients call him a Pythagorean; at the same time he is penetrated by a heartfelt piety, which conceives of the gods as powers working in the interest of morality. However simple the plot of his plays, they display an art finished to the minutest detail. His Trilogies either embraced one complete cycle of myths, or united separate legends according to their moral or mythical affinity; even the satyric dramas attached to the Tragedies Stand in intimate connexion with them. Aeschylus is the true creator of Tragedy, inasmuch as, by adding a second actor to the first, he originated the genuine dramatic dialogue, which he made the chief part of the play by gradually cutting down the lyrical or choral parts. Scenic apparatus he partly created and partly completed. He introduced masks for the players, and by gay and richly embroidered trailing garments, the high buskin, head-dresses, and other means, gave them a grand imposing aspect above that of common men; and he fitted up the stage with decorative painting and machinery. According to the custom of the time, he acted in his own plays, practised the chorus in their songs and dances, and himself invented new dance figures.
 
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