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Son of Zeus and Europa, brother of Minos. He was praised by all men for his wisdom, piety, and justice. Being driven out of Crete by his brother, he is described as having fled to the Asiatic islands, where he made his memory immortal by the wisdom of his laws. Thence he is said to have removed to Ocalea in Boeotia, to have wedded Alcmene, after the death of Amphitryon, and to have instructed her son Heracles in virtue and wisdom. In Homer [Od. iv 564) he is described as dwelling in the Elysian fields. Here Alcmene, after her decease, is said to have been wedded to him anew. Later legend made him the judge of the dead in the under-world, together with Aeacus and Minos.
ALCMENE 100.00%
Daughter of Electryon, wife of Amphitryon (q.v.), mother of Heracles by Zeus. On her connexion with Rhadamanthys, see RHADAMANTHYS. After her son's translation to the gods she fled from the face of Eurystheus to Athens, but went back to Thebes, and died there at a great age. She was worshipped at Thebes, and had an altar in the temple of Heracles at Athens.
ELYSIUM 47.97%
In Homer Elysium is a beautiful meadow at the western extremity of the earth, on the banks of the river Oceanus. Thither the favoured of Zeus such as Rhadamanthys his son, and his son-in-law Menelaus, are carried without having seen death. They live a life of perfect happiness, there is no snow, nor storm, nor rain, but the cool west wind breathes there for ever. Hesiod speaks of the islands of the blest by the Ocean, where some of the heroes of the fourth generation of men live a life without pain, and where the earth produces her fruits three times in the year. According to Pindar, all who have three times passed blamelessly through life live there in perfect bliss under the sway of Cronus and his assessor Rhadamanthys. Such are Cadmus and Peleus, and Achilles through the intercession of his mother Thetis with Zeus. Like Cronus, the Titans, after their reconciliation with Zeus, dwell on these islands. In later times Elysium with its bliss was localized in the world below, and regarded as the abode of those whom the judges of the dead had pronounced worthy of it. (Cp. HADES, REALM OF.)
EUROPE 32.65%
A figure in Greek mythology. In Homer she is the daughter of Phoenix, in the later story of the Phoenician Agenor, and sister of Cadmus. Zeus, in the shape of a bull, carried her over the sea to Crete, where she bore him Minos, Rhadamanthys, and according to the later legend, Sarpedon also. Zeus left her with Asterion, king of Crete, who brought up her sons and left them his kingdom. She was worshipped in Crete under the name of Hellotis, especially at Gortyn, where she was supposed to have been wedded with Zeus, and to have borne him her sons. A festival called Hellotia was held in her honour, at which her bones were carried in a wreath of myrtle.
MINOS 31.84%
A mythical king of Crete, the centre of the oldest legends of that island. He is the son of Zeus and of Europa; in Homer, brother of Rhadamanthys, father of Deucalion and Ariadne, and grandfather of Idomeneus. Residing at Gnossus as the "familiar friend of Zeus," he had a "nine-yearly" rule over the flourishing island [<italic>Od.</italic> xix 179], an expression which later generations explained as signifying periods of nine years; at the end of which he went into a cave sacred to Zeus, in order to hold converse with his father, and to receive the laws for his island. Just as he was thought to be the framer of the famous older Cretan constitution, so he was also considered a founder of the naval supremacy of Crete before the times of Troy; Hesiod calls him the "mightiest king of all mortals," who rules with the sceptre of Zeus over most of the neighbouring peoples. Later legend gives him another brother, Sarpedon, and a number of children (among others Androgeos, Glaucus, Catreus, and Phaedra) by his wife Pasiphae, a daughter of Helios and Perseis. When after the death of Asterin, the husband of Europa, he has driven away his brothers in consequence of a quarrel, he seizes the kingship of Crete, in which he is supported by Poseidon, who, on his prayer that he should send him a bull for sacrifice, causes a wonderfully beautiful snow-white bull to rise from the sea. But as he, desiring to keep it for his own herd, sacrifices another, the god to punish him inspires his wife Pasiphae (q.v.) with love for the bull. Homer [Od. xi 322] calls Minos the "meditator of evil"; in later times he was represented as a hard-hearted and cruel tyrant, especially on the Attic stage, because of the part he played in Attic legends. On account of the murder of his son Androgeos (q.v.) at Athens, he undertook an expedition of revenge against Attica, captured Megara (see NISUS), and compelled the Athenians to send him once in every nine years seven boys and seven girls to Crete, to be devoured by the Minotaur (q.v.; see also THESEUS). Tradition made him die in Sicily, whither he had pursued Daedalus (q.v.) on his flight, and where king Cocalus or his daughters stifled him in a hot bath. His Cretan followers interred him near Agrigentum, where his grave was shown. In Homer [Od. xi 568] Odysseus sees him in Hades with a golden sceptre in his hand, judging the shades; he does not appear in the legends as judge of the dead by the side of Aeacus and Rhadamanthys till later [Plato, Apol. 41 a, Gorg. 523 e].
CRONUS 21.89%
In Greek mythology, the youngest son of Uranus and Gaea, who mutilated and overthrew his father, and, with the assistance of his kinsfolk the Titans, made himself sovereign of the world. He took his sister Rhea to wife, and became by her father of Hestia, Demeterr, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. But his mother prophesied that one of his children would overthrow him. He accordingly swallowed them all except Zeus, whom Rhea saved by a stratagem. Zeus, when grown tip, obtained the assistance of the Ocean-nymph Thetis in making Cronus disgorge his children, and then, with the help of his kinsfolk, overpowered Cronus and the Titans. According to one version of the fable, Cronus was imprisoned in Tartarus with the Titans; according to another, he was reconciled with Zeus, and reigned with Rhadamanthys on the Islands of the Blessed. Cronus seems originally to have been a god of the harvest; whence it happens that in many parts of Greece the harvest month was called Cronion. His name being easily confused with that of Chronos ("Time"), he was afterwards erroneously regarded as the god of time. In works of art he was represented as an old man with a mantle drawn over the back of his head, and holding a sickle in his hand. The Romans identified him with Saturnus, their god of sowing (see SATURNUS).
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. )
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