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LEDA 100.00%
Daughter of Thestius, and sister of Althaea, and wife of Tyndareos. According to Homer it was by Tyndareos, that she became the mother of Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces), and also of Clytaemnestra, while Helen was her daughter by Zeus. Generally, however, Helen and Pollux are described as children of Zeus, Clytaemnestra and Castor as those of Tyndareos. According to the later story, Zeus approached Leda in the shape of a swan, and she brought forth two eggs, out of one of which sprang Helen, and out of the other Castor and Pollux.
 
THESTIUS 100.00%
Son of Ares and Demonice; king of Aetolia, father of Althaea and Leda (q.v.).
 
DIOSCURI 29.46%
i.e. sons of Zeus, the horsetamer Castor, and Polydeuces (Lat. Pollux) the master of the art of boxing. In Homer they are represented as the sons of Leda and Tyndareos, and called in consequence Tyndaridae, as dying in the time between the rape of Helen and the Trojan War, and as buried in their father-city Lacedaemon. But even under the earth they were alive. Honoured of Zeus, they live and die on alternate days and enjoy the prerogatives of godhead. In the later story sometimes both, sometimes only Polydeuces is the descendant of Zeus. (See LEDA.) They undertake an expedition to Attica, where they set free their sister Helena, whom Theseus has carried off. They take part in the expedition of the Argonauts. (See AMYCUS.) Castor, who had been born mortal, falls in a contest with Idas and Lynceus, the sons of their paternal uncle Aphareus. The fight arose, according to one version, in a quarrel over some cattle which they had carried off; according to another, it was about the rape of two daughters of another uncle Leucippus, Phoebe and Hilaira, who were betrothed to the sons of Aphareus. On his brother's death Polydeuces, the immortal son of Zeus, prays his father to let him die too. Zeus permits him to spend alternately one day among the gods his peers, the other in the lower world with his beloved brother. According to another story Zeus, in reward for their brotherly love, sets them in the sky as the constellation of the Twins, or the morning and evening star. They are the ideal types of bravery and dexterity in fight. Thus they are the tutelary gods of warlike youth, often sharing in their contests, and honoured as the inventors of military dances and melodies. The ancient symbol of the twin gods at Lacedaemon was two parallel beams, joined by cross-pieces, which the Spartans took with them into war. They were worshipped at Sparta and Olympia with Heracles and other heroes. At Athen too they were honoured as gods under the name of Anakes (Lords Protectors). At sea, as in war, they lend their aid to men. The storm-tossed mariner sees the sign of their beneficent presence in the flame at the mast-head. He prays, and vows to them the sacrifice of a white lamb, and the storm soon ceases. (See HELENA.) The rites of hospitality are also under their protection. They are generally represented with their horses Xanthus and Cyllarus, as in the celebrated colossal group of Monte Cavallo in Rome. Their characteristic emblem is an oval helmet crowned with a star. The worship of Castor and Pollux was from early times current among the tribes of Italy. They enjoyed especial honours in Tusculum and Rome. In the latter city a considerable temple was built to them near the Forum (414 B.C.) in gratitude for their appearance and assistance at the battle of the Lake Regillus twelve years before. In this building, generally called simply the temple of Castor, the senate of ten held its sittings. It was in their honour, too, that the solemn review of the Roman equites was held on the 15th July. The names of Castor and Pollux, like that of Hercules, were often in use as familiar expletives, but the name of Castor was invoked by women only. They were worshipped as gods of the sea, particularly in Ostia, the harbour town of Rome. Their image is to be seen stamped on the reverse of the oldest Roman silver coins. (See COINAGE.)
 
HELENA 15.96%
The divinely beautiful daughter of Zeus and Leda, the wife of Tyndareos of Sparta; sister of the Dioscuri and of Clytaemnestra. The post-Homeric story represented her as carried off, while still a maiden, by Theseus, to the Attic fortress of Aphidnae, where she bore him a daughter Iphigeneia. She was afterwards set free by her brothers, who took her back to Sparta. She was wooed by numbers of suitors, and at length gave her hand to Menelaus, by whom she became the mother of one child, Hermione. In the absence of her husband she was carried away to Troy by Paris the son of Priamus, taking with her much treasure. This was the origin of the Trojan War. The Trojans, in spite of the calamity she had brought upon them, loved her for her beauty, and refused to restore her to her husband. She, however, lamented the fickleness of her youth, and yearned for her home, her husband, and her daughter. After the death of Paris she was wedded to Deiphobus, assisted the Greeks at the taking of Troy, and betrayed Deiphobus into Menelaus' hands. With Menelaus finally she returned to Sparta after eight years' wandering, and lived thenceforth with him in happiness and concord. According to another story, mainly current after the time of Stesichorus, Paris carried off to Troy not the real Helena, but a phantom of her created by Hera. The real Helena was wafted through the air by Hermes, and brought to Proteus in Egypt, whence, after the destruction of Troy, she was taken home by Menelaus. (See PROTEUS.) After the death of Menelaus she was, according to one story, driven from Sparta by her stepsons, and fled thereupon to Rhodes to her friend Polyxo, who hanged her on a tree. Another tradition represented her as living after death in wedlock with Achilles on the island of Leuce. She was worshipped as the goddess of beauty in a special sanctuary at Therapne in Laconia, where a festival was held in her honour. She was also invoked like her brothers the Dioscuri, as a tutelary deity of mariners. (See DIOSCURI.)
 
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