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SEMNAE 100.00%
A name of the Erinyes (q.v.).
ERINYES 100.00%
The goddesses of vengeance. Homer speaks sometimes of one, sometimes of several, but without any definite statement about either number, name, or descent. Hesiod makes them the daughters of Gaia (Earth), sprung from the blood of the mutilated Uranus. According to others they were the daughters of Night (Nyx) or of the Earth, and Darkness (Skotos). Euripides is the earliest writer who fixes their number at three, and considerably later we find them with the names Allecto ("She who rests not"), Tisiphone ("Avenger of murder"), and Magaera ("The jealous one.") They are the avengers of every transgression of natural order, and especially of offences which touch the foundation of human society. They punish, without mercy, all violations of filial duty, or the claims of kinship, or the rites of hospitality ; murder, perjury, and like offences; in Homer even beggars have their Erinys. The punishment begins on earth and is continued after death. Thus they pursue Orestes and Alemaeon, who slew their mothers, and CEdipus for the murder of his father and marriage with his mother, without regard to the circumstances by which their offences were excused. Their principle is a simple one, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." In spite of their terrible attributes as goddesses of vengeance they were called Semnai (the honourable) and Euminedes(the kindly). For the punishment of the evil secures the well-being of the good, and by pursuing and destroying transgressors the Erinyes prove themselves benevolent and beneficent. They were worshipped in Athens under the name of Semnai, and had a shrine on the Areopagus, and the hill of Colonus. Fresh water and black sheep were offered to them in sacrifice. The terrible picture drawn of them by Aeschylus in his Eumenides, as women like Gorgons, with snakes for hair, bloodshot eyes, grinding teeth, and long black robes with blood-red girdles, was softened down in later times. They appear as maidens of stern aspect, with snakes in their hair or round their girdles and arms, torches, scourges, or sickles in their hands, generally in the costume of huntresses, and sometimes with wings as a sign of the swiftness of their vengeance (see cut). The Furies (Furiae or Dirae) of the Roman poets are a mere adaptation of the Greek Erinyes. They are generally represented as torturing the guilty in the world below, but as sometimes appearing on earth, to excite to crime and throw men into madness.
One of the Greek Furies. (See ERINYES.)
MEGAERA 69.86%
One of the Greek goddesses of vengeance. (See ERINYES.)
ALECTO 69.86%
One of the Greek goddesses of vengeance. (See ERINYES.)
A boot of leather or felt, rising as far as the calf or above it, and fitting close to the foot. In front it was open and fastened with straps. It was specially adapted for journeys or hunting, and consequently appears often in representations of Artemis and of the Erinyes. Runners in races too, often wore it. (See ELEUSINIA, fig. 1, and ERINYS.)
URANUS 14.91%
Son and husband of Gaea, the Earth, who bore to him the Titans, the Cyclopes, and Hecatoncheires. He did not allow the children born to him to see the light, but concealed them in the depths of the earth. Enraged at this, Gaea stirred up her children against him, and Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, unmanned him with the sickle which his mother had given to him. From the blood that fell upon the earth were born the Erinyes and the Giants. The member which was cut off fell into the sea, and out of the foam produced around it there came into being the goddess called Aphrodite (hence called Aphrogeneia, i.e. foam-born).
CER 13.81%
In Greek mythology, a goddess of death, especially of violent death in battle. In Hesiod she is the daughter of Nyx (night), and sister of Moros (the doom of death), Hypnos (sleep), and Dreams. The poets commonly speak of several Keres, goddesses of different kinds of death. Homer and Hesiod represent them as clothed in garments stained by human blood, and dragging the dead and wounded about on the field of battle. Every man has his allotted Doom, which overtakes him at the appointed time. Achilles alone has two, with the power to choose freely between them. In later times the Keres are represented generally as powers of destruction, and as associated with the Erinyes, goddesses of revenge and retribution.
of Miletus, the son of Meropus, stole from Minos of Crete a living dog made of gold, the work of Hephaestus, which was the guardian of the temple of Zeus, and gave it to Tantalus to keep it safely. When Zeus demanded the dog back, Pandareos fled with his wife Harmothea to Sicily, where both were turned into stones. For his daughter Aedon, see AEDON. Of his two other daughters (Merope and Cleodora or Cameira and Clytea), Homer [Od. xx 66-78] relates that they were brought up by Aphrodite, after their early bereavement, and were endowed by Hera with beauty and wisdom, by Artemis with lofty stature, and by Athene with skill in handiwork; but while their foster-mother went to Olympus to implore Zeus to grant the maidens happy marriages, they were carried off by the Harpies, and delivered to the Erinyes as servants, and thus expiated their father's guilt.
ATE 11.33%
According to Homer, the daughter of Zeus; according to Hesiod, of Eris or Strife. She personifies infatuation ; the infatuation being generally held to imply guilt as its cause and evil as its consequence. At first she dwelt on Olympus; but after she had entrapped Zeus himself into his rash oath on the occasion of the birth of Heracles (see HERACLES), he hurled her down to earth. Here she pursues her mission of evil, walking lightly over men's heads, but never touching the ground. Behind her go the Litai ("Prayers"), the lame, wrinkled, squinting daughters of Zeus. The Litai, if called upon, heal the hurts inflicted by Ate; but they bring fresh evil upon the stubborn. In later times Ate is transformed into an avenger of unrighteousness, like Dike, Erinys and Nemesis.
An ancient criminal court at Athens, so named because it sat on Ares' Hill beside the Acropolis, where the god of war was said to have been tried for the murder of Halirrothius the son of Poseidon. (See ABES.) Solon's legislation raised the Areopagus into one of the most powerful bodies by transferring to it the greater part of the jurisdiction of the Ephetae (q.v.), as well as the supervision of the entire public administration, the conduct of magistrates, the transactions of the popular assembly, religion, laws, morals and discipline, and giving it power to call even private people to account for offensive behaviour. The "Court of Areopagus," as its full name ran, consisted of life-members (Areopagites), who supplemented their number by the addition of such archons as had discharged their duties without reproach. Not only their age, but their sacred character tended to increase the influence of the Areopagites. They were regarded as in a measure ministers of the Erinyes or Eumenides (Furies), who under the name of Semnae (venerable) had their cave immediately beneath the Areopagus, and whose worship came under their care. The Areopagus proving too conservative for the headlong pace of the Athenian democracy, its general right of supervising the administration was taken from it by the law of Ephialtes, in 462 B.C., and transferred to a new authority, the Nomophylakes (guardians of the laws); but it recovered this right on the fall of the Thirty. Its political powers seem never to have been clearly defined; it often acted in the name of, and with full powers from, the people, which also accepted its decisions on all possible subjects. Under the Roman rule it was still regarded as the supreme authority. Then, as formerly, it exercised a most minute vigilance over foreigners.
HORAE 8.31%
The goddesses of order in nature, who cause the seasons to change in their regular course, and all things to come into being, blossom and ripen at the appointed time. In Homer, who gives them neither genealogy nor names, they are mentioned as handmaidens of Zeus, entrusted with the guarding of the gates of heaven and Olympus; in other words, with watching the clouds. Hesiod calls them the daughters of Zeus and Themis, who watch over the field operations of mankind; their names are Eunomia (Good Order), Dike (Justice), and Eirine (Peace), names which show that the divinities of the three ordinary seasons of the world of nature, Spring, Summer, and Winter, are also, as daughters of Themis, appointed to superintend the moral world of human life. This is especially the case with Dike, who is the goddess who presides over legal order, and, like Themis, is enthroned by the side of Zeus. According to Hesiod, she immediately acquaints him with all unjust judicial decisions, so that he may punish them. In the tragic poets she is mentioned with the Erinyes and as a divinity who is relentless and stern in exacting punishment. (See ASTRAeA.) At Athens, two Horoe were honoured: Thallo, the goddess of the flowers of spring; and Carpo, the goddess of the fruits of summer. Nevertheless the Horae were also recognised as four in number, distinguished by the attributes of the seasons. They were represented as delicate, joyous, lightly moving creatures, adorned with flowers and fruits, and, like the Graces, often associated with other divinities, such as Aphrodite, Apollo, and He1ios. As the Hora specially representing spring, we have Chloris, the wife of Zephyrus, and goddess of flowers, identified by the Romans with Flora (q.v.).
According to the belief current among the Greeks, the world of the dead, or the spacious abode of Hades, with its wide doors, was in the dark depths of the earth. In the Odyssey, its entrance and outer court are on the western side of the river Oceanus, in the ground sacred to Persephone, with its grove of barren willows and poplars. Here is the abode of the Cimmerians, veiled in darkness and cloud where the sun never shines. The soil of this court, and indeed of the lower world in general, is a meadow of asphodel, an unattractive weed of dreary aspect usually planted on graves. The actual abode of the subterranean powers is Erebos, or the impenetrable darkness. In later times entrances to the lower world were imagined in other places where there were cavernous hollows which looked as if they led into the bowels of the earth. Such places were Hermione and the promontory of Taenarum in the Peloponnese, Heraclea on the Euxine, and Cumae in Italy, where the mythical Cimmerli were also localized. The lower world of Homer is intersected by great rivers, the Styx, the Acheron (river of woe), Cocytus (river of cries), a branch of the Styx, Phlegethon and Pyriphlegethon (rivers of fire). The last two unite and join the waters; of the Acheron. In the post-Homeric legend, these rivers are represented as surrounding the infernal regions, and another river appears with them, that of Lethe, or oblivion. In the waters of Lethe the souls of the dead drink forgetfulness of their earthly existence. The lower world once conceived as separated from the upper by these rivers, the idea of a ferryman arose. This was Charon, the son of Erebos and of Nyx, a gloomy, sullen old man, who takes the souls in his boat across Acheron into the realm of shadows. The souls are brought down from the upper world by Hermes, and pay the ferryman an obolos, which was put for this purpose into the mouths of the dead. Charon has the right to refuse a passage to souls whose bodies have not been duly buried. In Homer it is the spirits themselves who refuse to receive any one to whom funeral honours have not been paid. At the gate lies the dog Cerberus, son of Typhaon and Echidna. He is a terrible monster with three heads, and mane and tail of snakes. He is friendly to the spirits who enter, but if anyone tries to got out he seizes him and holds him fast. The ghosts of the dead were in ancient times conceived as incorporeal images of their former selves, without mind or consciousness. In the Odyssey the seer Tiresias is the only one who has retained his consciousness and judgment, and this as an exceptional gift of Persephone. But they have the power of drinking the blood of animals, and having done so they recover their consciousness and power of speech. The soul therefore is not conceived as entirely annihilated. The ghosts retain the outer form of their body, and follow, but instinctively only, what was their favourite pursuit in life. Orion in Homer is still a hunter, Minos sits in judgment as when alive. Perhaps the punishments inflicted in Homer on Tityus, Tantalus, and Sisyphus (for Ixion, the Danaides, Peirithous, and others belong to a later story) should be regarded in this light. The penalties inflicted on them in the upper world may be merely transferred by Homer to their ghostly existence. For the idea of a sensible punishment is not consistent with that of an unconscious continuance in being. It must be remembered, at the same time, that Homer several times mentions that the Erinyes punish perjurers after death. We are forced then to conclude that the ancient belief is, in this instance, found side by side with the later and generally received idea, that the dead, even without drinking blood, preserved their consciousness and power of speech. Connected with it is the notion that the have the power of influencing men's life on earth in various ways. The most ancient belief knows nothing of future rewards of the righteous, or indeed of any complete separation between the just and the unjust, or of a judgment to make the necessary awards. The judges of the dead are in the later legend Minos, Rhadamanthys, Aecus, and Triptlemus. It was a later age, too, which transferred Elysium and Tartarus to the lower world, Elysium as the abode of the blessed, and Tartarus as that of the damned. In the earlier belief these regions had nothing to do with the realm of Hades (See HADES). The name Tartarus was in later times often applied to the whole of the lower world. The ghosts of those who had lived a life of average merit were imagined as wandering on the asphodel meadow. In general it must be said that the ancient ideas of a future life were always subject to considerable changes, owing to the influence of the doctrines taught in the mysteries, and the representations of poets, philosophers, sculptors, and painters (see POLYGNOTUS). The general tendency was to multiply the terrors of Hades, especially at the gates, and in Tartarus. (For the deities cf the lower world see HADES, PERSEPHONE, and ERINYES.) The Greek beliefs on the subject found their way to Rome through the instrumentality of the poets, especially Vergil. But they did not entirely supplant the national traditions. (See ORCUS, MANIA, MANES, LARES, and LARVAe. )
of Argos. Son of Amphiaraus (q.v.) and Eriphyle. As his father, in departing on the expedition of the Seven against Thebes, has bound him and his brother Amphilochus, then mere boys, to avenge him on their faithless mother, Alcmaeon refuses to take part in the second expedition, that of the Epigoni (q.v.), till he has first fulfilled that filial duty; nevertheless his mother, bribed by Thersander with the garment of Harmonia, persuades him to go. The real leader at the siege of Thebes, he slays the Theban king, Laodamas, and is the first to enter the conquered city. On returning home, he, at the bidding of the Delphian Apollo, avenges his father by slaying his mother, with, or according to some accounts, without, his brother's help; but immediately, like Orestes; he is set upon by the Erinyes, and wanders distracted, seeking purification and a new home. Phegeus, of the Arcadian Psophis, half purifies him of his guilt, and gives him his daughter Arsinoe or Alphesiboea to wife, to whom he presents the jewels of Harmonia, which he has brought from Argos. But soon the crops fail in the land, and he falls into his distemper again, till, after many wanderings, he arrives at the mouth of the Achelous, and there, in an island that has floated up, he finds the country promised by the god, which had not existed at the time of his dying mother's curse, and so he is completely cured. He marries Achelous' daughter, Callirrhoe, by whom he has two sons, Acarnan and Amphoterus. Unable to withstand his wife's entreaties that she may have Harmonia's necklace and robe, he goes to Phegeus in Arcadia, and begs those treasures of him, pretending that he will dedicate them at Delphi for the perfect healing of his madness. He obtains them; but Phegeus, on learning the truth, sets his sons to waylay him on his road, and rob him of his treasure and his life; and then Alcmaeon's two sons avenge their father's death on these murderers. Alcmaeon, like his father, received divine honours after death; he had a sanctuary at Thebes, and at Psophis a consecrated tomb.
The youngest child and only son of Agamemnon and Clyt'mnestra. In Homer [Od. iii 306] it is only stated that in the eighth year after the murder of his father, who was never able to see him again after his return home, he came back from Athens and took a bloody vengeance on 'gisthus and his mother. In later legend he is described as doomed to death, but saved from his father's murderers by his nurse Arsinoe or his sister Electra, and brought by a trusty slave to Phanote on Parnassus to king Strophius, husband of Anaxibia, the sister of Agamemnon. Here he lives in the most intimate friendship with Pylades, his protector's son, until his twentieth year, and then comes with his friend, by Apollo's direction, to Mycen', and in concert with Electra effects the deed of vengeance. This deed is represented in Homer as one indisputably glorious and everywhere commended; but in later legend Orestes is, after his mother's murder, attacked by delusions and harassed by the Erinyes. According to 'schylus, in his Eumenides, the Furies do not suffer him to escape even after he is purified in the Delphian temple. Acting on the advice of Apollo, he presents himself at Athens before the court of the Areopagus, which on this occasion is instituted by Athene for the trial of homicide. The goddesses of vengeance appear as prosecutors, Apollo as his witness and advocate, and on the trial resulting in an equality of votes, Athene with her voting pebble decides in his favour. According to Euripides, in his Iphigenia among the Tauri, Orestes goes with Pylades (as in 'schylus) by Apollo's advice, to the Tauric Chersonese, in order to fetch thence the image of Artemis which had fallen from heaven in former times. The friends are captured upon landing, and according to the custom of the country, are to be sacrificed to Artemis, when the priestess, Iphigenia (q.v.), and Orestes recognise one another as sister and brother, and escape to Greece with the image of the goddess. According to the Peloponnesian myth, Orestes spent the time of his delusion in Arcadia [Pausanias, viii 5 § 4], and after he had on one occasion in a fit of frenzy bitten off a finger, the Eumenides appeared to him in a dream, in white robes, as a token of reconciliation. After he is cured, he places himself, by the murder of Aletes, 'gisthus' son, in possession of his father's dominion, Mycen', and marries his sister Electra to Pylades. Hermione, daughter of Menelaus, had been betrothed to himself, but during his wanderings she was carried off by Achilles' son Neoptolemus. After Orestes had slain the latter at Delphi, he married Hermione, and through her came into possession of Sparta. His son by this marriage was Tisamenus. He died of a serpent's bite in Arcadia, and was buried at Tegea: his reputed remains were afterwards, by the direction of the oracle, brought to Sparta [Herod. i 67].
Son of (Eneus of Calydon and of Althaea, husband of Cleopatra (see, IDAS), one of the most celebrated heroes of Greek legend. He took part in the enterprise of the Argonauts and brought about the celebrated chase of the Calydonian boar (see OENEUS), to which he invited the most renowned heroes of the time, Admetus, Amphiaraus, Jason, Idas, Lynceus, Castor and Pollux, Nestor, Theseus and Pirithous, Peleus, Telamon, and others. Many lost their lives, till at last Meleager slew the monster. However, Artemis thereupon stirred up furious strife between the Calydonians and the Curetes (who dwelt at Pleuron) about the head and skin of the boar, the prize of victory. The Calydonians were victorious, as long as Meleager fought at their head; but when he slew the brother of his mother, she uttered a terrible curse on him, and he retired sullenly from the fray. The Curetes immediately forced the Calydonians to retreat, and were already beginning to climb the walls of Calydon, when, at the height of their distress, he yielded to the prayers of his wife and again joined in the fight to ward of destruction from the city; but he did not return alive, for the Erinys had accomplished the curse of his mother. According to a later legend, the Moerae appeared to his mother on the seventh day after his birth, and announced to her that her son would have to die when a log of wood on the hearth was consumed by the flame; whereupon Althaea immediately snatched the log from the fire and concealed it in a chest. At the Calydonian Hunt Meleager fell in love with Atalante (q.v.), and gave her (who had inflicted the first wound) the prize, the skin of the animal which he had killed. He slew the brothers of his mother, the sons of Thestius, when they were lying in wait for the virgin to rob her of the boar's hide. Overcome by pain at the death of her brothers, Althaea sets fire to the log, and Meleager dies a sudden death. His mother and wife hang themselves; his sisters weep so bitterly for Meleager, that Artemis for pity changes them into gninea-hens, (Gr. meleagrides). Legends relate that even in the nether world Meleager retained his dauntless courage; for when Heracles descended to Hades, all the shades fled before him except Meleager and Medusa.
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.
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