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SISYPHUS 100.00%
(i.e. "the crafty"). The son of Aeolus, brother of Athamas, husband of the Pleiad Merope. His son is Glaucus, the father of Bellerophon. He is regarded as the builder of Ephyra, (afterwards Corinth) and as originator of the Isthmian Games. In legends he appears as extremely cunning and crafty; in Homer he is called the "slyest of all men" [Il. vi 153]. The reason why he is punished in the other world, where he is forced for ever to keep on rolling a block of stone to the top of a steep hill, only to see it roll again to the valley, and to start the toilsome task again [Od. xi 593], is not mentioned by Homer; and later legends vary on this point. According to the account which gives the best idea of his cunning, Sisyphus discloses to the rivergod Asopus, in search of his daughter Aegina (see AeACUS), how she had been carried off by Zeus; but this information was not given until Asopus has satisfied the condition laid down by Sisyphus, by creating the spring Peirene, which ever after supplied the citadel and town of Corinth [Pausanias ii 5 § 1]. Zeus desires to kill Sisyphus as a punishment for revealing the facts, and sends Death to him; but Sisyphus fetters Death in strong chains, and no one dies, till at last Ares sets him free and hands Sisyphus over to him. But be commands his wife not to inter him, and succeeds in persuading Pluto and Persephone to let him return for awhile to the upper world in order to punish her want of love. Having no desire to return to Hades, he forgets his promise, and eventually Hermes has to come and fetch him. In the post-Homeric legends Odysseus, on account of his cunning, is made the son of Sisyphus and Anticleia [Sophocles, Ajax 190, Phil. 417; Eur., Iph. at Aulis, 524].
MEROPE 100.00%
One of the Pleiads (q.v.), mother of Glaucusg by Sisyphus.
PEIRENE 75.83%
The spring struck out by the winged steed Pegasus on the citadel of Corinth. For another tradition of its origin, see SISYPHUS.
GLAUCUS 38.54%
King of Corinth, son of Sisyphus and father of Bellerophontes. At the funeral games of Pelias in Iolcus, he was thrown and torn to pieces by his own horses, which Aphrodite in her wrath had driven mad. His ghost was said to appear to the horses racing at the Isthmian games and terrify them. He was accordingly worshipped on the Isthmus, under the name of Taraxippos, or Terrifier of Horses.
The seven daughters of Atlas and the Ocean-nymph Plelone, born on the Arcadian mountain Cyllene, sisters of the Hyades. The eldest and most beautiful, Maia, became the mother of Hermes by Zeus; Electra and Tayggete, of Dardanus and Lacedaemon by the same; Alcyone, of Hyrieus by Poseidon; Celaeno of Lycus and Nycteus by the same; Sterope or Asterope, of (Enomaus by Ares; Merope (i.e. the mortal), of Glaucus by Sisyphus. Out of grief, either for the fate of Atlas or for the death of their sisters, they killed themselves and were placed among the constellations. According to another legend, they were pursued for five years by the Giant hunter Orion (q.v.), until Zeus turned the distressed Nymphs and their pursuer into neighbouring stars. As the constellation of the seven stars, they made known by their rising (in the middle of May) the approach of harvest, and by their setting (at the end of October) the time for the new sowing. Their rising and setting were also looked upon as the sign of the opening and closing of the sailing season. One of the seven stars is invisible; this was explained to be Merope, who bid herself out of the shame at her marriage with a mortal. The constellation of the Pleiades seems also to have been compared to a flight of doves (Gr. peleides). Hence the Pleiades were supposed to be meant in the story told by Homer of the ambrosia brought to Zeus by the doves,-one of which is always lost at the Planetae rocks, but is regularly replaced by a new one [Od. xii 62]. Among the Romans, the constellation was called Vergiliae, the stars of spring.
Son of Glaucus of Corinth (or according to another account, of Poseidon), and grandson of Sisyphus. His proper name is said to have been Hipponoes; the name Bellerophontes implies that he was the slayer of some now unknown monster. In later times his name was wrongly explained as the slayer of a certain Corinthian, Belleros, on account of which be was supposed to have fled to Proetus at Tiryns, or (as Homer has it) at Corinth. The wife of Prcetus, Anteia (or Stheneboea), falls in love with the beautiful youth: he is deaf to her entreaties: she slanders him to her husband, who resolves on his destruction. He sends Bellerophon to Lycia, to his father-in-law Iobates, with a tablet in cypher, begging him to put the bearer to death. Iobates first commissions Bellerophon to destroy the fire-breathing monster Chimaera, a task which he executes with the help of his winged horse Pegasus (see PEGASUS). Thereupon, after a fierce battle, he conquers the Solymi and the Amazons, on his return slays an ambush of the boldest among the Lycians, and Iobates now recognises his divine origin, keeps him with him, and gives him the half of his kingdom, and his daughter to wife. The children of this marriage are Isander, Hippolochus, the father of Glaucus and Laodamia, and the mother of Sarpedon by Zeus. Afterwards Bellerophon was bated by all the gods, and wandered about alone, devouring his heart in sorrow. His son Isander was killed by Ares in battle against the Solymi, while Laodamia was sacrificed to the wrath of Artemis. This is the Homeric version; but, according to Pindar, Bellerophon's high fortune made him so overweening that he wished to mount to heaven on Pegasus; but Zeus drove the horse wild with a gadfly, and Bellerophon fell and came to a miserable end. He was honoured as a hero in Corinth, an enclosure being consecrated to him in the cypress grove of Craneion.
ATHAMAS 12.58%
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.
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. )
King of Ithaca, son of Laertes and Anticlea, daughter of Autolycus. In post-Homeric legend he is called a son of Sisyphus, borne by Anticlea before her marriage with Laertes. According to Homer, his name, "the hater," was given him by his grandfather Autolycus, because he himself had so often cherished feelings of hatred during his life [Od. xix 402]. His wife Penelope (or Penelopeia), daughter of Icarius (see OEBALUS), is said by later legends to have been obtained for him by her uncle Tyndareos in gratitude for counsel given by him. (See TYNDAREOS.) When his son Telemachus was still an infant, Agamemnon and Menelaus, as Homer tells us, prevailed on him to take part in the expedition against Troy. Their task was hard, as it had been predicted to him that it would be twenty years before he saw his wife and child again. Later writers relate that he was bound as one of Helen's suitors to take, part in the scheme, but tried to escape his obligation by feigning madness, and among other acts yoked a horse and an ox to his plough and so ploughed a field. When however Palamedes, who with Nestor and Menelaus was desirous of taking him to Troy, proceeded to place Telemachus in the furrow, he betrayed himself and had to accompany them to war. He led the men of Ithaca and the surrounding isles to Troy in twelve vessels. In contrast to the later legend, which represents him as a cowardly, deceitful and intriguing personage, he always appears in Homer among the noblest and most respected of the heroes, and, on account of his good qualities, he is the declared favourite of Athene. He combines in his person courage and determined perseverance with prudence, ingenuity, cunning and eloquence. Accordingly he is employed by preference as a negotiator and a spy. Thus, after the disembarkation, he goes with Menelaus into the enemy's city to demand the surrender of Helen. Again, he is among those who are despatched by the Greeks to reconcile with Agamemnon the enraged Achilles. With Diomedes, who delights in his company, he captures the spy Dolon and surprises Rhesus; with the same hero he is said by later legend to have stolen the Palladium from Troy. When Agamemnon faint-heartedly thinks of flight, he opposes this idea with the utmost decision. Everywhere he avails himself of the right time and the right place, and, where courage and cunning are needed, is ever the foremost. After Achilles' death, in the contest with Ajax, the son of Telamon, he receives the hero's arms as a recognition of his services, and by his ingenuity brings about the fall of Troy. Shortly before it, he steals into the city in the garb of a beggar, in order to reconnoitre everything there; he then climbs with the others into the wooden horse, and contrives to control the impatient and the timid alike until the decisive moment. His adventures during the return from Troy and on his arrival in his native country form the contents of the Odyssey of Homer. Immediately after the departure Odysseus is driven to the Thracian Ismarus, the city of the Cicones, and, though he plunders them, loses in a surprise seventy-two of his companions. When he is now desirous of rounding the south-east point of the Peloponnesus, the promontory of Malea, he is caught by the storm and carried in nine days to the coast of North Africa, on to the land of the Lotophagi (Lotus-eaters) whence he has to drag his companions by force to prevent their forgetting their homes for love of the sweet lotus food. Thence the voyage passes into the legendary world of the Western sea, then little known to the Greeks. Odysseus comes first to the country of the Cyclopes (q.v.), where, with twelve of his comrades, he is shut up in a cavern by Polyphemus. The monster has already devoured half of Odysseus' companions before the latter intoxicates him (fig. 1), deprives him of his one eye, and by his cunning escapes with his comrades. From this time the anger of Poseidon, on whom Polyphemus calls for revenge, pursues him and keeps him far from his country. On the island of Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds (q.v.), he finds hospitable entertainment, and receives on his departure a leathern bag in which are inclosed all the winds except the western. The latter would carry him in nine days to the coast of Ithaca, but, whilst Odysseus is taking rest, his comrades open the bag, which they imagine to contain treasure, and the winds thus released carry them back to Aeolus. He orders them off from his island, regarding them as enemies of the gods. On coming to Telephylus, the city of Lamus, king Antiphates and his Loestrygones, cannibals of immense stature, shatter eleven of their vessels, and the twelfth is saved only by Odysseus' wariness. (See PAINTING, fig. 5.) On the island of Aeaea the sorceress Circe turns part of his crew into swine, but, with the help of Hermes, he compels her to restore them to their human shape and spends a whole year with her in pleasure and enjoyment. When his companions urge him to return home, Circe bids him first sail toward the farthest west, to the entrance into the lower world on the farther bank of Oceanus, and there question the shade of the seer Tiresias concerning his return. (See HADES, REALM OF.) From the latter he learns that it is the malice of Poseidon that prevents his return, but that nevertheless he will now attain his object if his comrades spare the cattle of Helios on the island of Thrinacia; otherwise it will only be after a long time, deprived of all his comrades and on a foreign shit, that he will reach his home. Odysseus then returns to the isle of Circe and sets out on his homeward voyage, supplied by her with valuable directions and a favouring wind. Passing the isles of the Sirens (q.v.) and sailing through Scylla and Charybdis (q.v.), he reaches the island of Thrinacia, where he is compelled to land by his comrades. They are there detained for a month by contrary winds; at length his comrades, overcome by hunger, in spite of the oath they have sworn to him, slaughter, during his absence, the finest of the cattle of Helios. Scarcely are they once more at sea, when a terrible storm breaks forth, and Zeus splits the ship in twain with a flash of lightning, as a penalty for the offence. All perish except Odysseus, who clings to the mast and keel, and is carried back by the waves to Scylla and Charybdis, and after nine days reaches the island of Ogygia, the abode of the nymph Calypso, daughter of Atlas. For seven years he dwells here with the nymph, who promises him immortality and eternal youth, if he will consent to remain with her and be her husband. But the yearning for his wife and home make him proof against her snares. All the day long he sits on the shore gazing through his tears across the broad sea; fain would he catch a glimpse, were it only of the rising smoke of his home, and thereafter die. So his protectress, Athene, during Poseidon's absence, prevails on Zeus in an assembly of the gods to decree his return, and to send Hermes to order Calypso to release him. Borne on a raft of his own building, he comes in eighteen days near to Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, when Poseidon catches sight of him and shatters his raft in pieces. However, with the aid of the veil of Ino Leucothea (q.v.), he reaches land in safety and meets with Nausicaa, the king's daughter, who conducts him into the Phaeacian city before her parents Alcinous (q.v.) and Arete. He receives the most hospitable treatment, and is then brought loaded with presents by the Phaeacians on board one of their marvellous vessels to his country, which he reaches after twenty years' absence, while asleep. He arrives just in time to ward off the disaster that is threatening his house. After his mother Anticlea had died of grief for her son, and the old Laertes had retired to his country estate in mourning, more than a hundred noble youths of Ithaca and the surrounding isles had appeared as suitors for the hand of the fair and chaste Penelope, had persecuted Telemachus, who was now growing up to manhood, and were wasting the substance of the absent Odysseus. Penelope had demanded a respite from making her decision until she had finished weaving a shroud intended for her father-in-law, and every night unravelled the work of the day. In the fourth year one of her attendants betrayed the secret; she had to complete the garment, and when urged to make her decision promised to choose the man who should win in a shooting match with Odysseus bow, hoping that none of the wooers would be able even so much as to bend it. Just before the day of trial, Odysseus lands on the island disguised by Athena as a beggar. He betakes himself to the honest swineherd Eumoeus, one of the few retainers who have remained true to him, who receives his master, whom he fails to recognise, in a hospitable manner. To the same spot Athene brings Telemachus, who has returned in safety, in spite of the plots of the suitors from a journey to Nestor at Pylus and Menelaus and Helen in Sparta. Hereupon Odysseus makes himself known and, together with his son and retainer, concerts his plan of revenge. In the shape of a beggar he betakes himself to the house, where he manfully controls his anger at the arrogance of the suitors which is displayed towards himself, and his emotion on meeting Penelope. Next day the shooting match takes place. This involves shooting through the handles of twelve axes with the bow of Eurytus (q.v.), which the latter's son Iphitus had once presented to the young Odysseus. None of the suitors can bend the bow, and so Odysseus takes hold of it, and bends it in an instant, thus achieving the master-shot. Supported by Telemachus, Eumaeus, and the herdsman Philcetius, and with the aiding presence of Athens, he shoots first the insolent Antinous, and then the other suitors. He next makes himself known to Penelope, who has meanwhile fallen into a deep sleep, and visits his old father. In the meantime the relatives of the murdered suitors have taken up arms, but Athene, in the form of Mentor (q.v.) brings about a reconciliation. The only hint of Odysseus' end in Homer is in the prophecy of Tiresias, that in a calm old age a peaceful death will come upon him from the sea. In later poetry Telegonus, the son of Odysseus by Circe, is sent forth by his mother to seek out his father. He lands at Ithaca, and plunders the island: Odysseus proceeds to meet him, is wounded by him with a poisonous sting-ray, given by Circe to her son as a spear-point, and dies a painfal death, which thus comes "from the sea." On Telegonus discovering that he has killed his father, he carries the dead body home with him, together with Penelope and Telemachus, and there the latter live a life of immortality, Telemachus becoming husband of Circe, and Telegonus of Penelope. Besides Telegonus, the legend told of two sons of Odysseus by Circe, named Agrius and Latinus, who were said to have reigned over the Etruscans. Telegonus in particular was regarded by the Romans as the founder of Tusculum [Ovid, Fasti, iii 92], and Praeneste [Horace, Odes iii 29, 8]. In later times the adventures of Odysseus were transferred as a whole to the coast of Italy: the promontory of Circeii was regarded as the abode of Circe, Formiae as the city of the Laestrygones. Near Surrentum was found the island of the Sirens; near Cape Lacinium that of Calypso, while near to Sicily were the isle of Aeolus, Scylla, and Charybdis, and, on the Sicilian shore, the Cyclopes. Odysseus is generally represented as a bearded man, wearing a semi-oval cap like that of a Greek sailor. (See fig. 1.)
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