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THT ExCYCLoPEDIA

oF
MnHoLoGY
THE ExCYCLoPEDIA oF
MYTHOLOGY
ClassrcAL

Cel.rrc

GnEex

AnrnuR CoTTERELL
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Frontispiece: The ForglngoJthe Sampoby A Gallen-


IGllela
This page: TheRapeoJGanymedeby PeterPaul
Rubens

Author's Note
The entries in this encvcloDedia are all
Iisted alphabetically.Wft.r. more than one
name exists for a character the entry is
listed under the name used in the original
country of origin flor that particular myth.
Names in iralic caDitalletters indicate that
rhat name has an individual entry. Special
feature spreads examine specific
mythological themes in more detail. lf a
characteris included in a specialfeature
spreadit is noted at the end of their
indMdual entry.

1098765+32
CONTENTS

P n e F A C E6

CInSSICAL MYTHOLoGY B
Introduction l0
L o v e r s o f .Z e u s 2 0
Heroes 30
Oracles and Prophecies 40
Voyagers 50
Monsters and Fabulous Beasts58
Forcesof Nature 6B
G i a nt s 7 6
Founders B4

CeLTIC MyTHoLOGY 9O
Introduction 92
Celtic Otherworlds 104
S a g e sa n d S e e r s l l 4
Magic and Enchantment I24
Wondrous Cauldrons 132
Celtic Romance 140
Single Combat L48
Heroic Quests 156
Fabulous Voyages 164

NoRSE MyTHOLOGY L72


Introduction I74
Nature Spirits 186
T r e a s u r e sa n d T a l i s m a n s 1 9 6
Norse Heroes 204
T h e V a l k y ri e s 2I2
Sorcery and Sp eIIs 220
Tragic Lovers 228
Rings of Power 236
Ragnarok 24+

P r c r u R EA c r x o w L E D G E M E N r2s 5 2
Ixnnx 2 53
PREFACE

PnEFACE
H I S C O M B I N E DE N C Y C L O P E D I A
of successfu\ confronted the Minotaur on Crete, but
mythology contains the three later abandoned his helper, the Cretan princess
ourstanding traditions of Europe - Ariadne. Full of his success against the bull-man,
Greek, Celtic and Norse. They form Theseus forgot the agreement made with his father
the core of European mythological thought, rhe abour changing the sail of his ship from black if he
early ideas and notions which underlie our escaped death himself. As a result of this moment
present-day consciousness. For the stories related of carelessness,Theseus' father committed suicide
in Greek, Celtic and Germanic myths touch upon by leaping from the Athenian acropolis when rhe
the fundamental issues of existence. They reveal black sail was sighred. So in lreiand rhe inability of
the power of love, with its accompanying anxiery Cuchulainn ro srop and think for a moment led to
and jealousy; the conflict between the generarions, his hlling of Conlai, his own son by the Amazon
the old and rhe new; the violence of men, Aoifa. In Norse myth, however, it is the pride of
especially on the battlefield or in single combat; the gods or their opponents, the frost giants,
the mischief of the trouble-maker, bored by rhe which causes disasters ro occur. Unlike the Greel.<s
steady pace of everyday events; the sadness of NEssuS,4 wild Greehcentaur,ties to abductHeracles'new bide whileJerryingher
illness or accidenral injury; the mystery of dearh, acrossthe RfuerEvenus GHER^pE
oFDEhNTM RrN/
ByGurDo 1621
. c^NvAs. )

with a variety of after-life possibilities including


rebirth; the effect of enchantment upon the mind
and body; rhe challenge of the unknown, wherher
a voyage into uncharted waters or a quest fot a
sacred object; the personal danger of a contest
with a monster, even a beheading game; the
sadness of betrayal and treachery, nor least within
a family or a group of colleagues; the cycle of
fertility in human beings and animals, plus the
growth of plans; the horror of madness with its
disruption of human relations; the incidence of
misfortune and luck, plus the whole issue of fate;
rhe relation between human and divine, between
mankind and the gods; the crearion of the world
and the origins of sociery; and, last, but not least,
the nature of the universe.
Different myths rackle these great quesrions in
distinct ways. But heroes and heroines find
themselves in unreiated circumstances facing the
same basic problems in Greece, ireland and
Scandinavia. The Athenian hero Theseus
PREFACE

sea to Poseidon, is real owner. ln consequence of


this sacrilege Minos' wife Pasiphae was consumed
with passion for the beast, and her mating with it
led to the birth of the bull-man known as the
Minotaur: hence Theseus and his combat with the
strange creature. The Athenian hero's entangle-
ment with Minos' family did not stop with the
abandonment of fuiadne and the death of his own
father, however. For Theseus married Phaedra,
another daughter of Minos. She too was cursed
with an illicit passion, not for an animal this dme,
but for her stepson Hippolytus. Before Theseus
A CELTIC Drrv, posib! Dogda, donglestwo worriors high absvehishead, and thus Ieamed the truth, he banished honest Hippolytus
reveakhis awesomepwer, while the wariors in tum lift twoboa6, showingtheir on Phaedra's denunciation of his evil intendons,
supremaq overanirncls (curosrnupcauDRoN,
GiDDsILwR,
c lN Bc.)
and then lost his exiled son in a chariot accident.
and the Celts, the German peoples of northern The abiding interest of mythology, European or
Europe did not develop a heroic tradition of any otherwise, is is frankness about such basic human
significance. The great hero was Thor, the slow- drives. It could almost be described as sacred
witted but honest champion of the gods. He literature undisturbed by theologians. The raw and
delighted the tough Northmen, who appreciated ragged ends of existence are still visible in is tales
how his allergy to frost glants naturally led to skull- of both men and gods.
smashing encounterc in fields and halls. Yet those
who undertook raids as Vikings had a more Srcuto,thegreatNorsehero,helpshismmtor,Regln,re-Jorgehiswondroussword With
it, Srgurd sltv the dragon, Fafnir. {wuto aavtNc,.l2rHcENruRY)
suitable patron in Odin, the one-eyed god of batrle
and the inspirer of the dreaded berserkers.
Usually myths reveal an interwoven pattem of
circumstances ourcide the control of both mortals
and gods. Fate and destiny in European mythology
are almost beyond manipulation. Attempts may be
made to slow down the operation of fate's decrees,
sometimes to thwart them entirely, but they never
work. Odin can do nothing about his future death
at Ragnarok, the doom of the gods. The Celtic sun
god Lugh cannot save his son Cuchulainn on the
battlefield. And even immonal Zeus, the chief god
of the Greeks, has a duty to see that fate takes its
proper course. He cannot control events.
The tangled web of difficulties which besets
Theseus can thus be traced to a number of actions,
but one stands out clearly: the refusal of King
Minos of Crete to sacrifice the white bull from the
INTRODLTCTI()N

IxTRODIJCTION
fl r r r , l x t I E N I C R I - F K 5 w l :nRr tr g r e a t
I
l l m y r h m u k , r * t r l E u r o p cT h t ' ) e r e n
tl MAcEDoNtA

J i g l r c u s r h c n r m e h 1 'w h r r h u e ,ftY
4E \1
refer today to the amazrngstonestold about
(
gods, henres,men and animals Around 400 E RUs

Bc the Arhenian philosopherPlatocoined the


w o r d r n y t h o l o g i ar n o r d e r t o d r s t i n g u i s h
b e t w e e n r m a g i n a r i v e z r c c o u n t so l d i v i n e
a c t t o n sl n d f e rr u a i i t ' : t r t p t i o n r ( , { t \ ' ( n t 5 .
supemamralor othenvlse Although he lived
in an age thzrtwas increasingly scrtntrllc in
o u t l o o k , a n d n o l o n g er i n c l r n e d t o b c l i e v e
cvery detail related about gods and god-
d e s s c s .P l r t t o r c c , , g n i z , ' dt h e p o w r ' r r h a t
resided in myth, and warned hrs followers tcr
beu'areof its seductrve charm
The strcngth of Greek myrholog', Likeall
active traclitions,lay in rrs collecrivcnature
Unlike a story composed by a partrcular during hrs abscnceat the
s l r r t r db y t h r ' s r ' w h ol i s r e n c t1l , 't h q 5 1 1 ' r y - t , ' l l c ru.r[eC.lytemnestra
author, a m)'th ah."'aysstood on its ou'n, *T rh or dramattst making use o[ tt When. for Trojan \Var

a plot and a set of charactersreadily under- i n s t a n c e ,t h e A t h e n r a n sw a t c h e d t h e g r e a t All this would have been famrliar to the
cyclc of plays that Aeschylusstagedabout the Athcnians beforeAcschylus' treatment of the
MAR5 AND NEpruNE, two gocls of ancrent Romc, ricir over m u r d e r o I A g a m em n o n . t h c y r v e r ea l r e a d y m 1 ' t h b e g a n u r t h . { g a m e m n ( ) nr e t u r n i n g
(-rq',
thc Ettnol .guarding itr mrhtary und monnmt homc liom the Trojan War Some of the audi-
a w a r e o f t h c m a i n c h a r a c t e r sa n d t h c i r
rntcrests At klt, an aifiomt putLo above Mdrs burs h$
actlons The audienceknew how the House ence doubtlessrecalledan even older curse
hr)rsd's h(lmcl, whiic Neptunc's putto .anies a seasheil,

symbol oJ thr god's dominion ttvar lhd watves {Mq* r:l of Atreus, Agamemnon'sfather,'"vasfated to laid on l'elops himself by the messengergod
N T P T L NBFY P 4 r r ryr r R ( ) N E sCEA, N L c n d u r e a t e r n b l e p e n o d o [ d o m e s t i cs t n f e H e r m e s P e l o p sh a d p r o v o k e d t h e g o d b y

Not only had Atreus and hrs brother Thycstes relusing a promiscd gift to one of his sons

bcen cursed by rherrown father, Pelops, for Nothing that Aeschylusrncludedin hrs plays

kLllrnghis favounte chrld, their half-brother was unexpected. neirher the murder o[

Chrysippus, but a bloody quarrel of their own Agamemnon, nor the revenge of his son

had also added to the family mrsfbrtune A Orcstes,nor Orestes'punuit by thc Funes for

dispute over the successionto Pelops'throne sheddrnga mother's blood What would have

at Mycenae led Atreus to kill three oI fascinatedthe audiencewas the dramatist's

T h y e s t e s ' s o n s ,a l t h o u g h t h e y h a d s o u g h t approach to these tangled incidents, his'raew

sanctuaryin a temple dedicatedto Zeus, the of motive, guilt and expiation For that rea-

supreme god Even worse, the murderer then son another dramatist was able to tackle the

served the bocliesof his nephews up to his same srory later in Athens during the fifth

brorher at a banquet, afrerwhich he dared to cenrury sC It needs to be remembered that

show Th1'estestheir feet and hands Atreus such drama remained very much part of

paid for the outrage wrth hrs life at the hands ancient religron Today we cannot expect to

of Thyestes' sumving son, Aegisthus, who appreciate the full meaning of these perfor-

l r r t c r h e c a m , ' t h r l o v e r r ' l A g a m e m n t t ns mances, but we are fortunate in halrng the

l0
INTRODUCTION

raw materials from which they were made,


the myths themselves
Myths retain much of rheir power, even
when told in summary, as rhey are in this Venone o

encyclopedia Because Greek myths were


fashioned and refashioned over so many gen-
erations, they acquired their essential form, a
shape that had been collectively recognized
for longer than anyone could remember Even
now, we conrinue to be fascinated by the
stories of Oedipus, rhe man who murdered <-r{
0
"n
\t
his father and married his morher; of the
Athenian hero Theseus, slayer of the strange
tcn&ifii
bull-headed man, rhe Minotaur, of rhe great
voyagerJason,who sailed acrossrhe Black Sea
ro disranr Colchis in order to ferch the Golden
Fleece;of Agamemnon, the doomed leaderof
the Greek expedrtion againsrTroy, o[cunning
Odysseus, one of rhe bravesr of the Greek
and the inventor of the Wooden Horse, rhe
means by which Troy was raken; of the hap- TYRRHENIAN SEA . .- -'!

"'*.
less Pentheus,victim of Dionysus' ecsraric
worshippers, who included his own morher;
IONIAN
of the unbeatable champron Achilles; of rhe
labours of Heracles, Zeus' own son and the
only hero to be granted immortaliry; and
many others As Greek lMng before and afrer
Plato evidently understood, myrhs were ficti-
tious stones rhar illusrrared rruh SIcILIAN SEA
The Romans were no less impressed by the AFR ICA AFRICAN SEA
range and interesr of Greek myrhology
Indeed, rhey adopred it wholesale and iden- people were executedbefore the cult of the Bellerophon Something s)'nthetic can be felr
tified many of their own haiian deities wrrh native wine god Bacchus discarded those in the story of Aeneas, rhe leader of the
those in rhe Greek panrheon, even adopring aspects of Dronysus which mer wrth official refugees {rom Troy His adoption as a
others for whom they possessedno real equiv- disproval This taming of a Greek god, albeir founder-hero made him of particular concem
alent The unruly Dionysus gave Rome Thracian rn ongin, could stand for rhe enrire to the lirst Roman emperor Augustus, but The
considerable rrouble Thrs god ofvegetation, processby which Greek and Roman myrh- Aeneid,the epic poem abour Aeneas written
wine and ecstasywas by no means a comfort- ologr merged in rhe second century BC There by Virgil in the 20s sc, turned out ro be a
able deity for the Greeks, but the Romans were just too many myths for rhe Romans to balanced celebrarion of Roman aurhoriry
were more deeply disturbed by his orgiastic resist, although rhey chose to impose a rypical rather than an exciting heroic narrative The
rites In 186 nc rhe Roman Senarepassed restraint on Greek extravagance hero heededthe call ofduty and abandoned
severe laws against the excesseso[ his wor- Roman heroes could never compare wrth the woman he loved, as Roman heroes were
shippers h is likely rhat severalthousand Heracles, Jason, Theseus, Perseus or expected to do rn every myth

ll
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

ACUtt-leS was rhc son of Krng arranged the mamage of Thetis to knew that he was doomed to die at warrior quickly reached for the
Peleus of Thessaly and the sea a mortal Because she was scr Troy rf he went on the expedition w e a p o n s .g i v i n g h i m s e l I a w a y
nymph THETISHe was the greatesr attached to Achilies, Thetis tried to So Thetis arrangedfor him to be Unmasked, Achilles had no choice
of the Greek wamors, although in make him immorral by various disguised as a grrl and hrdden but to sail for Troy
compansonwith acar'tlllxov and mcans Thc bcst known wrs drp- among the women at the palaceof There he bitterly quanelled wrth
the other Greekhngs who went on ping the new-born baby in the Krng Lycomedeson rhe islandof Agamemnon, the leader o[ the
r h c e x p e d r t r o na g a i n s tT r o y . h e Sryx, rhe rrver rhat ran through Sc1'rosThe Greek felt that wrth- Greeks lt may be that he was
a p p e a r sr o h a v eb e e n s o m c t h i n g HADE-S, the world of the dead our Achilles therr chances of angeredby Agamemnon'suse o[
of a barbarian His anger was as Since Thcris had to hold him by beating the Trojanswere sLtm,but his name to bring IPHIGENTA ro
legendaryas his prowess the heel, thrs one spot was left vul- no one could identify the hidden Aulis, for she had been told she
The uncerrainnatureof Achilles nerable and at Troy brought about hero At last, cunning oDYssEUs was to marry Achrlles, whereas
is apparentin the story of his brrth A, hrlles de.rrh lrom a noisoncd was sent to discover AchiLles, Agamemnon intended to sacnfice
Both zEL'sand pttsr-iitrt.twanted anow shot from the bow ol PeRts which he did by meansof a tnck
to have a son by the beautiful Achrlles learned the skills of Haung tracedthe young man to ACHILLES, reluingbnde hrstentwth
The tis, but PROMETIlirt.'-s, the fire warfare from CHIRON, le ader of the Scpos, Odysseusplacedweapons hs tompdnion,Patroclus,welcomeshrs
god, had wamed them that her off- c.l:NlAt/R.s, who also fed him on among some jewellery in the comratles,Odysseus(centre)arul Aiax
spnng would be greaterthan his wild game to increase his f'erocity palace Whrle Achilles' female (right), who irnplorc tht moodyhero to
Iather Anxious ro avord the Under Chrron's care Achilles c o m p a n i o n sw c r r a d m i r i n gr h c retum Lobattle whereht s sorelyneeded
emergcnceof a powcr qupenorto became renowned as a courageous crafrsmanshipof rhejewels,a call ( A ( H i l | r ! f u i l r \ r , s A ( ; A M r M ! ( ) N ! N l l s s l \ c t : f , s
r h e m s e l v e s ,r h e g o d s c a r e f u l l y lrshrcr bur hi' immortal mothcr
. . b . . ' - . I to arms was sounded and the D l / l ' 4 \ A i i i i I l \ L ' 8 t \ L 1 \ t 1 \ l S L i l l

"F;
P#

TZ
ClesstcAr- MvrHoLocY

her to the goddess ARTEMIS,to AnCeUS was the son of King suggesrion Theseus was sent to
ensure a favourable wind for the Pandion ofAthens, and farher of fight the wild bull of Marathon,
Greek fleer For a long time tne nero THfslus Ha!1ng twrce which he captured alive. Once
Achilles srayed in his rent and manied wirhout begetdng any chil- Aegeusrecognizedhis son, Medea
refused to fight the Trojans. He dren, Aegeuswent to consult the returned in disgust ro her native
even persuaded his mother to use Delphic Oracle bur received only Colchis on rhe Black Sea.But bad
her influence with Zeus to let the the ambiguous answer that he Iuck continued to dog Aegeus and
tide of war go against the Greels. should nor untie his wine skin wentually causedhis death. For it
But Achilles was roused to action until he reachedhome. When he was agreed that Theseus should
by the death of Patroclus, his sought advice from his friend travel ro Crete with the seven girls
squire and lover, at the hands of Pittheus. another ruler. the latter and sevenboys sent as ribute each
the Trojan HEcToR.Patroclus had realizedrhat the oracie had foretold year to feed the MINOTAUR,a bull-
bonowed Achilles' armour, which how Aegeuswould father a heroic headed man. If Theseus was
had been forged by the smith god son. To securethe sewices of such successfulin his dangerous mission
HEPHAISTOS, and entered the fray, ACTAEONwasayoungGreeh hunter a man, Pittheus made Aegeus ro kill the Minotaur, the ship bring-
but he cameup againstHectorwho whounluchily chanceduponthepoolwhae drunk and let him sleep wirh his ing him home was to fly a white
easilydefeatedhim. Artemisandhernymphs woebathingIn daughter Aethra. When Aegeus sail: if unsuccessful. a black sail
In brand-new arrnour Achilles outrage,thevir$ngoddess tumedhim into undersrood what had happened, would signalhis dearh. Retuming
sought out Hector, who asked for a srcgandhewastornapartbyhisovn he placed a sword and a pair of to Arhens after an incredible adven-
respect to be shown for his body if hounds,(IuusrunoN FRoM DlcnoNARy
oF sandals beneath an enormous ture in the Labynnth at Knossos,
he was defeated.Achilles refused, C6srclANTreuns, l89l) boulder. He rold the princessthat Theseus forgot the agreement to
slew Hector with his spear and if she bore a son who could move changehis sail from black to white,
draggedrhe Trojan hero round rhe had been wamed about by his the rock, he was to bring these wirh the result rhar, upon seeing
tomb of Patroclus for rwelve days. steed XeivlHUS, before rhe FURIES rokens to him in Athens on reach- the vesselwith is black sail,Aegeus
Only Thetis could persuade her struck the divine creature dumb. ing manhood. Thus it was that threw himself off the Athenian
son to le! the Trojans recover the An arrow from the bow of Paris, Theseusgew up and was eventu- acropolis to certain dearh
corpse and arrange a funeral, a guided by rhe god of prophecy ally reunited with his father.
serious obligarion for the living. APOLLO,gave Achilles a mortal Meantime, Aegeus had married AEGEUS , Ioohing
outto sea,sees
hisson's
Backin rhe flght, Achilles struck wound. Heroic yet also arrogant, the sorceressMEDF-A, whose magi- ships
retuminghome, allwithblachsails
fear into the Trojans, of whom he Achilles was rhe myrhical figure cal powers had given him another hoistedThinhingthathissonhaddied,
killed hundreds. But his own life most admired by Alexander rhe son, Medus. lt was for this reason Aegeushurledhimsefintothesea,aJter-
was coming to an end, which he Great.At the commencementof char Medea did everything she wardsnamed theAegean
his Asian campaign against rhe could to thwart Theseus. Ar her (lrr/srMr,(,N 8v Nlck 8uLE. 1995)

ACHIIJ-ES Jallsbneath theTrojanwalk, Persians,the youthful Alexander


shotbyParisThesungodaimshisarrow pardcipared in funeral games that
heel,theonlymortal
Jor Achilles'
straight were held at Troy in memory of
partoJthehao'sbody.ln somemyths, Achilles. (Seealso HEROES)
ApolloguidedPais' bw; in othm, thegod,
shottheanow,a seenhere (ArcLLoshys ACfnfON was rhe son of a
ACHILLEry FMNZST ssEN,w^ftRconu{, 1869) minor royal god and Auronoe,
daughrer of. ceouus. A Greek
hunter trained by CHIROw,he
offended rhe goddess,rnrEMISand
paid wirh his life. There are several
reasons given for his terrible end.
Actaeon may have boasted of his
superior skill as a hunrer, or
annoyed the goddessby seeingher
bathing naked. To stop his boasr-
ing, futemis tumed him into a sug
and he was chased and devoured
byhis own hounds. But thesefaith-
ful animals were broken-heaned at
the loss of their master, unril
Chiron carved a statue of Acaeon
so lifelike that they were satisfied.

I3
ClnssrcAr- MvrHoLoGY

AENFASgdzes in wonderat thedecoratwe became, and ir seemed as i[ Italy


templeIn Carthage, whileDrdo,thequeen, and the new sute to be founded on
welromahim to heraotic hingCom its shoreswere both forgotten. But
Aroundthan,pillan,doorsand.beams are watchful;uetrrR, rhe chief Roman
madeoJbronze,whiletheJabulous walls god, dispatched urncuRv wirh a
aredecorated with thefamousale oJ messageto Aeneas,recalling him to
Aenens anil theTrolans his dury and commanding him to
ouuiRfloN BY NrcxBuE,1995) resume the voyage Honified by his
inrention to leave, Dido bitterly
on the eastem Adriatic coast From reproachedAeneas,but his deep
there it made for Sicily, but before sense of piety gave him strength
reaching the Iulian mainland itwas enough to launch the fleet again.
diverted to North Afnca dunng a Then the weeping queen mounted
sudden storm sent by the goddess a pyre which she had ordered to be
;ulo, the Roman equivalent o[ prepared and, having run herself
HERA, who harassed Aeneas rhrough with a sword, was con-
throughout the voyage Only the sumed by the flames
dmelyhelp of rurm;Nr, the Roman When the Trgans finallylanded
seagod, saved the fleet from ship- in laly, near the city of Cumae,
AfNneS was a Trojan hero and Anchises on his back, Aeneas wreck At the ciry of Canhage, the Aeneaswent to consult the SIBYL,
the son ofAnchises and vENUs,the managed to escape Troy with his great trading port founded by the who was a renowned prophetess.
Roman goddess of love He was the father and his son Somehow Phoenicians (which was located She took him on a visit to the
favourite of the Romans. who Creusabecame separatedlrom the in present-day Tunisia), Venus
believedthat some of their eminent party and disappeared Later, ensured that Aeneas fell in love A-ENE{Sandhiscomrddes battlewitha
families were descended from the Aeneassaw her ghost and leamed with is beauriful queen, the widow JbchoJraglnghorpieswho hwerabwe
Trojans who fled westwards with from it that he would found a new DIDO.Becauseofher own flrght to themin thesky,waitingtocanyofl the
him from Asia Minor, after the Troy in distant ltaly. Carthage, Dido welcomed the weahondwovndcl.Prsidclwrts sheher
Greek sack of their city. Upstart After sailing through the Aegean Trojan refugeeswith geat hndness htsfamily:ha blindJathcrAnchls,hs
Rome was only too aware of its Sea,where the small fleet Aeneas and unlimited hospitaliry. wiJeCmtsaandthar tvtosons.(ANs AND
lack of tradition and history in commanded stopped at a number Time passed pleasantly for the HE CoMpNloNs FlGm frE ll^mEs rv Fwcors

comparison with Greece(there was of islands, the fleet came to Epirus lovers, as Aeneas and Dido soon I'ERroE crwtr. 161#7)

a nouble absenceof a glorious past


peopled with mythical heroes and
gods), so the exploits o[Aeneas
conveniently provided a means of
reassertingnational pride. lt was
not a coincidence that the first
Roman emperor, Augustus, took a
personal interest in the myth.
During the Trojan WarAnchises
was unable to fight, having been
renderedblind or lame for boasdng
about his reladonship with Venus.
But young Aeneas distinguished
himself againsr the Greeks, who
fearedhim second only ro urcron,
the Trojan champion. ln gradtude
PRIAMgave Aeneas his daughter
Creusa to have as his wife, and a
son was born named AscANlus.
Although Venus wamed him of the
impending fall of Troy, Anchises
refused to quit the city until two
omens occurred: a small flame rose
from rhe top ofAscanius'head and
a meteor fell close by. So, carryrng

l4
ClassIcAr- MyrHoLocY

AGAMEMNON waxha coolly ahis ACnunuNON, according ro Agamemnon's father. On her it around his body, rendering him
daughtu, Iphignia, is ofered a a Greek mythology, was the son husband's retum, Clytemnesrraar an easy targerfor Aegisthus' axe.
"sacnfciallamb" to apryase theanger oJ of erRrus and the brother of first pretended how pleased she
Artem(: but at the last moment, the MENEIAUS,long of Spana. He was wzlsto seehim Thanlcng the gods A;AX -as rhe son of Telamon of
goddesshenef rebnted and, descending married ro CLyTEMNESTM. From for his safe retum, Agamemnon Salamisand, like ACHILLES, was a
Jromheavat shecarried Iphignia ofl to his citadel at Mycenae,or nearby crossed the threshold ofhis palace, powerful aid to the Greeksin their
Tdurus OHE SACruNCE OFIPHIGENN
8YGIOVNNI Argos, he sent out a summons to ignoring the warning o[ his slave assault on Troy. Afrer Achilles'
BAmsr^, NEM, 1770-) the Greek to join the expedition cAssANDM, the prophetic daugh- death there was a contest for rhe
against Troy The causeo[ the war ter of PRIAM,the defeated Trojan armour of this great warrior, which
underworld. There Aeneasmet his was the flight of Menelaus' wife, king. He rhen rerired to a barhroom had been forged by the smirh god
father's ghost, who showed him HELEN,ro rhar ciry wirh PARI5. in order to change his clothes. HEPFIAISTOS. When ODY55EU5 was
the destiny of Rome.Anchiseshad However, rhe Greek fleer was Clytemnestra quickly threw a large awarded the armour, Ajax became
died of old age during the smy in delayed at Auhs by conrary winds net over Agamemnon and twisted mad with.;ealousy He planned a
Sicily, but his enthusiastic ourline Agamemnon then realized that he nighr attack on his comrades,but
of the future encouraged his son. would have to make a human sac- AJAXheadsof theTrqan onslaught wth rhe goddesserHrNA deceived him
Aeneas also saw Dido's ghost, but rifice in order to appeaseARTEMIS, Wical mightandcourageBeside htm,his into slaughtering a flock of sheep
it did not speak to him and the goddess o[ the forest and wild brother,Tatcerthearcher,aimshisbowat instead. In the light of dawn, Ajax
humedly rumed away animais. His daughter IPHTGENIA theTrojanswho,withJlamingtorches,hopewas suddenly overwhelmed by a
Afterwards, Aeneassreered for was therefore sent to Aulis under to settheGreehshipsalight 0uusmnoru fear of his evil intentions, and fell
che mouth of rhe River Tiber, on the pretexr rhat she was to be rRoM STORIE FROM HoMER. i885 ) on his sword and died
whose river banks the ciry of Rome married to the Greek champion
would be built centuries larer. and hero ACHILLESAccording ro
Conflict with rhe latins, the local one tradition, lphigeniawas sacri-
inhabirants, was bloody and pro- ficed, but accordingto another,she
longed But peacewas made when was savedby Artemrs herselfand
Aeneas mamed l-avinia, the daugh- uken ro Taurus to becomea priesr-
ter of King Larinus lt had been ess in the goddess'stemple
foretold that for the sake of the Clytemnestra never forgave
longdom Laviniamust marryraman Agamerhnon for lphigenia's loss,
from abroad The Tro.lans,in order and she took Aegrsthusfor a lover
to appeaseJuno, adopred the during the ten-yearsiegeofTroy.
Latins' rraditions and language. Aegisthus was rhe son ofThyesres,
(Seealso VOYAGERS) the brother and enemy of Atreus,

I5
CI,q,sslcAL MYTHoLoGY

AlCfSftS, according ro Greek


mythology, was the daughrer of
Krng Pelias of Thessaly When she
was o[ an age to marry, many suit-
ors appeared and her father set a
test to discoverwho would be the
most suirable husband. Alcestis
was to be the wife of the firsr man
to yoke a lion and a boar (or, in
some versions.a bear) to a chariot.
Wirh rhe aid of epoLro, the god of
prophecy, a neighbounng monarch
named Admetus succeededin this
seemingly impossible task But at
the wedding he forgot to make the
necessarysacnfice in gratitude ro
ARTEMIS, the goddessof the foresr
and wrld animals. and so found his
wedding bed full of snakes Once
again Apollo came to the king's
assistanceand, by making rhe AlCUeNt was rhe daughrerof the seer TIRESIAS explained that Eileithyia,ro frusrate the delivery,
FATESdrunk. extracted from rhem Electryon,son of pEFsrus,and the zEUs had come ro Alcmene dis- but a trick savedAlcmene and her
a promise that if anyone elsewould morher of urnacrrs. She married guised as her husband in order to two sons. Hera then put snakes
die on Admetus' behalf, he might Amphitryon, king of Tir;'ns, near father a monal who would aid the into Heracles'cradle, but the infant
continue to live. fu no one would Mycenae in the Peloponnese. gods in their forthcoming battle hero strangled them
volunteer, Alcescisgaveher life for Alcmene refused to consummate against the GIANTS. ku s never ler H era f.a:e.llyinjur e
him prnstpuolr, rhe undenvorld her marriagero Amphitryon undl So Alcmene became pregnant Heracles, and always protected
goddess,was so impressedby this he had avenged the murder of her with rwins: Heracles, the son o[ Alcmene. Once Amphitryon tried
complete devotion rhar she brothers. This the king did, but Zeus, and lphicles, rhe son of ro bum her for infidelity, but was
restoredAlcestis to Admetus. and when he retumed he was amazed Amphirryon. Zeus could not hide stopped by a sudden downpour.
they had two sons who later took to learn from Alcmene rhat she hls sarisfaction from his wife HERA When Alcmene died naturally of
part in the Greek expedirion believedshe had alreadyslept with who realized what had happened old age,Zeus sent HERMES to bring
agarnstthe city ofTroy. him. Amphitryon was enrageduntil Shesent the goddessof childbirth, her body to the ElysianFields,

ALCESTISbelow)welcomes hersuitor, ALCMENE6ght) wasote oJrheslEgod


Admetus,whoanivesin o chaiotdrawnby Zeus'manyloers,but wospunished Jor
Iionsandbears,whileAlcestis'
Jather, herinlideliry
byherangryhusband,
Pelias,
Ioohsonin disbelieJ.
Admetus was Amphitryon, whohereisportr(lyed
setting
theonlyherotoyohethebeasts, sowinning alighta pyrebeneath
her Shewassaved by
thehandoJAlcestis(trrt'srurror
rnovsrorur a heawnly dwnpoursentbyZeus
r R o MG R r ( L A N DR o M r , 1 9 2 0 ) (lrLLsruTr)I 8YNtcKBilu. ,l995)

I6
CLASSIcAL MYinoIocy

AMUIJUS (Iet't) casts outhis nephews,


Romulusand Remus,the twin sonsoJ Rhea
Silviaand the war god Mars, ord.eing that
thq be drownedin the nver Tiber. But thq
are eventually
Jound fo a she-wolJwho
suchlesthem until a shepherd, Faustulus,
tahesthem home (ttlsrurrul rRoM
sroRrEs
l ROM Ll\a, 1885 )

violent and tempestuous temper urs


wrth her. He even slew a comrade god laas, Amulius imprisoned her his father when he rurhlessly killed
who mentioned it Fascination and ordered that her rwin sons, the Trojan hng, PRIAM,ar rhe altar
with Amazon power affectedother REMUS ANDROMULUS, be drowned of zrus'remple. Andromache bore
heroesbesidesAchilles. The adven- in the Tiber Bur rhe rwo boys Neoptolemus three sons, and in
tures of borh rurnecrES and escapeda watery death and grew consequen'cesuffered the hatred of
ll-tt5tu) lnvolveo Datlles wltn up in the countryside Once rhey his barren Greek wrfe When
Arnazons.One of Heracles'famous realized their parenrage, Romulus Neoptolemusdied, Andromache
labours was the seizure of a girdle and Remusretumed ro Alba Longa went on to marry Helenus who,
belonging to the Amazon queen and lalled their uncle Amulius. like her, was a Trojan captive Her
Hippolyta, a theft that required finalyearswere spent in fuia Minor
considerablenerve. ANonOveCHE, the daughter at Pergamum,which was a new ciry
of Eetion, a king of Mysia in Asia founded by one of her sons.
AUUIIUS, in Roman my'thology, Minor, was the wlfe of nncton, rhe
was a descendant of the Trojan foremost Trojan warrior Her entire ANDROMACHE, Hector'syoungwtJe,
hero AENEAS.He usurped the family - parens, brothers, husband bowsherheadin captivityOneoJthe
throne of Alba Longa from his and son - was killed during the noblestbut mostll-starredofheroines,she
younger brother Numitor and Trojan War. After the sack of Troy, seesherhusband, Jatherandseven brothers
forced Numitor's daughter RHEA Andromache was taken off into hilledbyArhilles,
andhersonhurled Jrom
SILYIAto become a Vestal Mrgin so captlvityby Neoptolemus, rhe son thecirywalls;whilesheJallsasa pize oJ
as to deny her father an heir When of the great Greek hero ACHILLES war to Achilles' son (cAf lvr: ANDRi)MAcHli
D)

RheaSihra was raped by the war Neoptolemus had shown rhe same L0RDLErcHroN,cnNVAs,
c 1890)
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

ANTIGONE (abwe) sp'inhlesmrth on


the body oJha brother, Polynices,as a
symbolicat oJbunal For the Greelu,
buial wasa sacredduty, wrthout which a
soul couV not rest;yet Creon, ha uncle,
had daied Polynicesa bunnl, iolating
diine l,||n 04usrunoN ByNrcKBilrE 1995
)

ANDROMEDA Q$), chainedto a roch os


a sacifice m a seamonster,can only pray,
whilehlgh owrhead,theheroPerseuss on
his way Swoopingdwtn on thewinged
hone, Pegaw, he cu* Andromedafree and
slaysthe monster (PERSEUS
REH$
EyJflcHtMwlflEi.wtr,
ANDRoMED 1630)

in an uprising against the new ruler


cREoN, and his body was con-
demned to rot unburied outside
the ciry. Antigone refusedto accept
this impiety and spnnkled earth
over the corpse as a token burial
For this she was walled up in a
cave,where she hangedhenelflike
her mother Jocasta. There are a
number of different versionsof the
myth, but they all castAntigone as
the heroic victim of a family
wrecked by a terrible deed.
ANDROUEDA was the daugh- sandals carrying the head of the ANilCONE was rhe daughrerof
ter o[ Cassiopeand Cepheus,king Gorgon Medusa He fell in love IEDIPUS,king ofThebes, and his ANNOPN LOYER5
SCC OFZEUS
of the Ethiopians When Cassiope with Andromeda, and obtained wrfe and motherJocasta On leam-
boasted that Andromeda was more both her and her father's consent ing of their unwitting incest, APnnOOtfE was the Greek
beautiful than the Nereids, the sea to mamage if he defeatedthe mon- Oedipus tore out his eyes while goddess o[ Iove, beauty and fertil-
nymphs, they complained to the ster. This Perseusdid by using Jocastahanged herself.The peni- iry Unlike her Roman counterpan
tent Oedipus was then guided by yENUs,with whom she was idend-
seagod PosEIDoN He avengedthis Medusa's head, the sighr of which
insult by flooding the land and tumed all living things to stone. Antigone in his wanderings round fied, Aphrodite was not only a
sending a seamonster to devastate After sorne time, Perseus and Greece. She was with him at the goddess of sexuai love but also of
Cepheus'kingdom To avoid com- Andromeda settled in Tirfns, sancuary of Colonus, near Athens, the affection that sustains social
plete disaster it was decided to which Perseusruled. The constel- when her distraught father gained life. The meaningo[ her name is
sacriliceAndromeda to the beast Iation of Andromeda lies close to some hnd of peacejust before his uncertain, although the ancient
and she was chained to a rock at that of Pegasus,and both Cepheus death. She retumed to Thebes, but Greek came to believe it refened
the foot of a cliff. There PERSEUS and Cassiopewere also commem- her troubles were not over. Her to foam Quite possibly this belief
saw her as he flew past on winged orated in the stars. brother Polyniceshad been killed arosefrom the story ofAphrodite's

l8
ClnssrcAr- MyrHoLocY

Roman religions, and was the god with healing and connected with
of prophecy, archery and music sitesin nonhem Greece Indeed, so
The origrn of his name is uncenain accomplished was Asclepius in
but it is probably non-European medicine that Zeus slew him with
A light with the gigandc earth- a thunderbolt for daring to bring a
serpent Python at Delphi gave man back to life. (Seealso FORCES
Apollo rhe sear o[ his famous OFNATURE)
oracle. $rthon was an offspring of
GAIA,mother earth, which issued AnrS, the son of zr.vs and srna,
revelations through a fissurein the was the Greek god of war, and was
rock so that a priestess,the $nhia, Iater idenrified with the Roman war
I.PHRODITE, goddessof lwe andbeauty, queen of the dead. Their birter could give answers to any ques- god uens. Although Ares had no
was bom Jrom theJoam ol the su; sherose quarrel was only ended by zrUs, tions that might be asked.After he wife of his own, he had three chil-
lrom the waveson a seashell,stepping who ruled that for a rhird of the slew the eanh-serpent, Apollo took dren byAPHROOIr, the goddessof
ashoreon Cyprus At hu sile, the west year Adonis was to dwell with its place, though he had to do Iove The rwins, Phobos, "panic",
wtnd, Ztphyus, andFlora, the spingblow himself, for a third parr wirh penance in Thessalyfor the hlling. and Deimos, "[ear", alwaysaccom-
her gently uhore in a showeroJ roses,her Persephone, and for a third part Indeed, Zeus rwice forced Apollo panied him on the bardefield. ln
sacredflower, (THE oFvENUs
BrRrH BysANDRo with Aphrodite. So it was rhar rhe to be the slave of a mortal man to Greek mythology, Ares is depicted
BomcEur,TEMpEv,
c 1482
) ancient Greels accommodated a pay for his crime. as an instigator of vrolence, a
West Asian mother goddessand Apollo's interest in healing tempestuous and passionatelover
binh. When rheTiran CRONOS cur her dying-and-rising husband. suSges6 an anclent assoclatlon and an unscrupulous fnend The
off the penis of his farher Ouranos Indeed the Adonia, or annual with the plagueand is conrrol. His Roman god Mars, however, has
with a sharp sickle, he casr rhe festivals commemorating Adonis' son ASCLEPIUS was also identified nothing of Ares' fickleness
immortal member into the sea, death, were celebrated in many
where it floated amid white foam pars of the eastemMediterranean
Inside the penis Aphrodite grew Becauseof her unruly behav-
and was then washed up at Paphos iour, Zeus causedAphrodire ro fall
on C1prus. There were in fact sanc- in love wirh Anchises, the farher of
tuaries dedicared to her on many AENEAS.ln the Roman version o[
islands, which suggesrsrhar she this myth Venus herself is deeply
was a Westfuian goddesswho was attracted ro rhe Trojan, but wams
brought to Greeceby sea-traders. him to keep the parentageof their
Once she arrived. the ancient son Aeneasa secret.This Anchlscs
Gree}<smarried her in their myth- fails to do, and as a resuk suffers
ology to the crippled smith god blindness or a disability of the
HEPFIAISTOS. But Aphrodire was Iimbs. While the Roman goddess
not content to be a hithful wife and provided, througlr the leadership of
she bore children by severalorher Aeneas, a means for some of the APOILO (abate), the sun gd, urgcs the ARES @lov,t), infuIl atmour,luik the
gods, including DIONYSUSand Trojans to escape and flourish sun-chaiot ta ise in the slty This unusual gods into battle. Howarcr, in war, the gods
ARES.When Hephaisros found out anew in ltaly, the GreekAphrodite wsion oJ themythhas Apollo, rather tlnn were not im4rtial; Ares,Aphrodi? Ael),
about Aphrodire's passion for rhe actually helped to causethe Trojan Helios, as ider, andlbns, insteadoJ Poseidonand Apolb (cntre) wouV oJtm
war god Ares, rhe ourraged smith War. ln order to ensure that he horses, pull the chaiot, ruallingthe linh ad the Trojans, whilc Hqa anil Athena
god made a mesh of gold and would name her zlsthe most beau- fuween lzo anil the sun. (H{oEBUs
Arcrc By (ri$t) supporttt the Greek. orurmroN
caught the lovers in bed togerher. tiful of the goddesses,Aphrodite EMoNRMEtrcANvs,c .1870) noM SroruBrcM HoMER.
l8ll5 )
He called rhe other gods from promised PARIs,son of pRraU rhe
Mount Olympus ro see the pair, hng of Troy, the hand of the most
but they only lauglred at his shame, beaudful woman in the world. This
and posenoru, the god of the sea, fatefully rumed our ro be HELEN,
persuaded Hephaisros to release wife of vrruruqus, kingof Spana.
Aphrodite and Ares.
Perhaps Aphrodire's grearesr APOILO was rhe son of zEUs
Iove was for rhe handsome yourh and the Timness LETO,and the
Adonis, another West Asian deity. twin brother of the goddess
Killed by a wild boar, Adonis ARTEMIS,the virgin hunrress. He
became the object of admirarion for was one of the most important
both Aphrodite and pERsEpHorur, deities of both the Greek and
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

LovERs oF Zr,us
s rRtKtNG ASpEC-T op GRr,t,KN4yt-tIt)Lt)GY is thc
maritai conilict between the two chicf
deities, Hera, an earth gc-rddess, and her
husband, Zcus, suprcmc power on
Olympus One of the most amorous gods in
mytholo gy,Zeus loved countlesswomen and he
courtcd them in as many forms, somctimesas a bull,
a s a s a t y r .a s a s w a n . s r r m c t i m c sa s a m o r t a l m a n ,
and erren in the form of a golden shower. Hera rvas
notoriously jealous and r,engeful,pursuing without
mercy his loversand their offspring.The antagonism
between the two could be viewed as a clashbetween
different religious traditions or local cults, each cult
recognizing a different lovcr who was often regarded
as the anccs[orof a ruling family
ANTIOPE (uhort), rlrughtir,r/u rrvergrtl,w(r\ior((1hl Zeustn tht lom LtJd sdtvr,d
gout-lihccrtaturt 5hc iorl hrn twlr soils,Atlphtotrurcl Zrlhus tlerc,Zus, dtstrtiscc,l
as
Eros,sucl grrd
ct vttuthlulsutl'r,gcnliv sfiaJrrAntrrpe/rom thr sunwhilcshcsicrpsbe-side
Oflove td.roil \f\r'u)rf /r r\nr\(,rr\rr)$1S{r\R8}Atr1)\rr(i)tsRr('(r),(r\l:A-\, 152125J

CALLI-S1-O (ahrrr'), /r,rlt nrrnph und FI/ROPA lr.ghl) ucrs ir(rrr(/ l^ Zt'ti\ In

(()ntfdnl()il()/Atfttnl\ rn t/tr thrlSa trcts t h ( ' \ h d 1 l i , / i r b c a L r t r / r lh u l l r . l t r , t n t t t g t d

l o \ a ( 1h : r r i \ r t n t . /b o r r h t t t t c t s o n , A t i a s / r r r n rl h t n t l l c s o n t l t a n t L t l h r t r n r l h r

-Shcw,us lhcn , hun(t r.l rnlo u bcur erlhcr la st'a trr (.rtft whcri'shr bort hun Lhrtt

ZLus, wrshrrrg to hrclL htr lrom I lcra, or lry srrns I ht' r'anous \tug6 ol th( hdntu drt

Htru htrvll A\ d btdr rhc was shol hv rrprr'sr'ntcd htrt on tht klt, ['uropu

Arl.mrs rn thr /orcsr aar.l wus plared among nr()unl5 tLc bull tntouruged ht ls

fht stcrs ds tht 5h. Baar Hrre, surrounciccl tcrflr'nrss On the nght, she ts homr

lrr th. t(rfhr( \ ry' thr Lhctsc,Arlemrs on,.l ht r selulrlv Jown to rhr sea, w'rlh mrlnl Lltlt

m m p h s r o n r / o r t ( a i l r s t o p o s s r b i va f t er h i ' r I:rotcs (Lrr sprnts) horenng rn lhr riry

(n(ount(r wrth th" ovemhclmtng god, Ztus I rnulh shc foats happiy away, ltdvrng lo

( l l h N AA \ r ) ( r \ | r \ r ( r t r I ' r r f RP 4 rr R rB t N \ , htr moukns (Trlr R{n ,r F( R(n'AB) I)^rrr)

al\vAs l6J640 )

20
M YTTt o

childlry Semdt,apptarshtre
huggrnghis mothcr,whilc Apolkt
s t c r n Jhs w r t hu h u yt t r t ( l r t r i i t r '
becanta goc,l, raisedhts ntothrt
Dionystrs
to heavenand placedher arnongthe starsus
ThyoneThisEtmsrdnmitror is borderedwith iw,
which was l)tonysus' sutred plant (lrrr \ ru rr()Nrn()M
DRSvI Hs Cliss(il Dr(Ir()\ARY
1895
)

DANAE below) u,usconfinedin a brazt'n tLtwer


lry her father whofearedan oracleprtdtctrng thut
ht woukl be hilledby o gundson In htr lout'r shs
n s/roxd ,
wds visiledby Zeusn tfu lonn oJa golc.lt
anclbort hun o son, Pcrsrus When htr lttthtr
thebaby,ht tdsthothoJ thtm out to
drstoveretl
seain a woodenchest,hut thq ftoattd ushorc
on the Isleol Senphoswherethqt wert rtt uttl
lry Dictls (llrr \rMrr()! Bl(rrr)Rc[,s(
)rFR )\'
FRr
T { \ ( , [ u ( x ) r ) T A l(t 5] 9 2 C 1

SEMELE (klt) encourugtd


14'Htro, ptrsuudtd
in all his qlenJour Whenh,'
Zcrs lo shor hrrnscl/
apptarttl beJorthcr as tht radiunt gil ttl thwtdtr
wasconsumediry thc /icrrnes
anrl lightning,-Senreic
unLl,dymg, gavcbrrth prtmuturdy to Diorrysus,
whom Zeussavedlrtnn tht Jirt In thrspowerful
veirion oJ the myth, thegeat godrodutes
5-ynrbolist

Itery.bloodredhghtnrngA wingedchrldhtdrng
from thehght coulclbc Dionysus,whrle thet)arh,
homed godscemsto be a fusion oJ Hudrs und Pun
(l( filR4NrSl\1lrr r) a,t\r4\'rM()RF;t (1\\1\ ltiq6)
CrnssrcAL MYTHoLoGy

I
I
I

THE AncoNAUTS were very THE ARGONAUTS (top) commissioned which Jason did at the cost of one ARIADNE (qbove) hands the vital shetnto
earlyexplorers,mosr likely rhe first Argus to build theArgo, a ship with th,enty of his sandals Thus the prophecy Theseus,whirh allows hrm to trach his way
Greek voyagers to the Black Sea oars Hereht caruesout thestem,while was fulfilled: a man weannS only throughthe Itfuyinth AItu hilling the
They sailed from Thessaly,where Athenamahessails Behindher,perchedon one sandalarrived at lolcus to chal- bull-Iihebeast,the Minotdur, in the
their leader,TAsoN,was the nghtful a pillar, her sacredcreature,the owl, lenge Pelias BecauseJason made Ltbynnth, he sailedaway with her, but
k r n g o f I o l c u s A c c o r d i n gt o r h e symbolizesher wisdom (lLLUsrMroN
rRoM his intentionsknown ar the time of then desertedher on Dia, possiblybelieving
myrh, Jason'sfather,Aeson, was DI(TIoNARY oF ChsSIcAI ANTIQUITIEs ]89] ) a religrousfestival,Peliascould not that shewasdestrnedto marry a god
deposedby his half-brorherPelias, krll his nephew wrthout the nsk o[ (ir l l'srRAnoN FRoM I Alcl s,ooD IAr Es, c I 920 )

who was wamed at the time how JASON (abne IeJt),helpsHera, disguised suffenng divine disfavour So the
he would in tum be overthrown by as an old woman,dcrossthe stredm In the king toldJason that he could have wamors to Join his expedition and
a man wearing only one sandal In cunent he losesa sandal, Julfilling parl oJ the throne provided he obtained they became known as the
order to protectJasonfrom Pe]ias, an oraclethat ahalJ-shodman would tahe rhe Golden Fleece,which was an Argonauts, the crew of the ship
Aeson had secrerlysent his son to Pehas'throne ThepeacochbesideHera apparently impossible task This Argo Among their number were
CHIRON to educatethe young man, her all-seeingvision (ItusrurrcN
denoLes miraculous fleece belonged to a Castor and Polydeuces,ORPHEUS
iike many other heroes On reach- FROM TANGLEWOOD TALI.S, ( 1924 ) ram which had flown to Colchis, a rhe poet, Calaisand Zetes the sons
ing manhood,Jasondeterminedto distant land identified wrth mod- of BoR-EAS and rhe hero HTMCLES
return to Iolcus and reclarm che IASON (abne), with Medea'shelp- she ern Georgia It hung from a tree Together they crossed a sea of
throne During the joumey, how- anointshim wtth a salveto protect him there, guarded by an enormous marvels, visited strange lands and
ever, he was tested by the goddess Jromlire and steel ploughstheJreldswith snake that never slept overcame many obstaclesbefore
HERA,who was disguised as an old the bulls oJ Aietes He was the fvst hero to The DELPHICOMCLE encoul- reaching Colchis, where Hera used
woman She begged him to carry yohe thewlld and,Jiery credtures agedJasonro undertakethe quest the goddessof love APHRODITE to
her safelyacrossa swollen river, (lLLUsrMTpN FRoM TA\GI l,s,ooDTALES ( lg20 ) Hera inspired a group o[Thessa]ran make MEDEA,rhe seconddaughter

22
ClesslcAI- MvrHoLocY

of King Aietes, fall in love with


Jason. The king hated Greek but
he kept his feelings hidden from
the Argonaus. He even consented
toJason's attempt to capture the
Golden Fleece. But first Aietes set
Jason a challenge that was intended
to result in his death. The hero was
required to yoke a team of fire-
breathing bulls, plough and sow a
field with dragon's teeth, and slay
the armed men who would at once
rise from the gound.
With the assistance of Medea's
skills in the magic arm, Jason
accomplished Aietes' task within a
single day. Bur the hng of Colchis
was not prepared to give up the
Golden Fleeceso easily. He secrerly
planned to attack the Argonaus,
who were wamed by Medea, now
Jason's lover. She employed her
magic once again to deal y"ith the
unsleeping snake,andJasonseized
the Golden Fleece The Argonaus
quickly rowed away from Colchis
with the fleece and Medea, whom
Jason had promised to marry once
back in Thessaly it into a constellarion. The Golden version offar older tales of the spon ARTEMIS,virgin goddess oJthewild,
The Colchian princessseemsro Fleece also appear in the heavens of bull-leaping, which dated from alwaysresisted
theloveor attentions
of
have been associatedwirh rhe rires as the first constellarion of the the pre-Greekera of Cretan history. men WhenthehunterActaeon sawhoin
of dismemberrnent as well as Tndiac, Aries the ram. Dionysus himself was known to thenude,bathingwithhu nymphs, she
magic, for during the pursuit of rhe the Greeks as "the roanng one", a indignantlytumedhimintoa sta&which
Argonauts across the Black Sea, ArunONf, in Greek myrhology, "bull-homed god" who was full of wassetuponfo hisownhounds(Durrrro
Medea slowed the Ileet of her hther was the daughter of pestprl,4nand powerand feniliry. AcAEoN ByTrruN,
aNvs,1556-59)
Aietes by hlling and cutring up her King MINos, rhe ruler of Knossos
own brother, Apsyrtus. Piecesof on the island of Crete. When the AruON SECVOYAGER5 atAulis. Only a promise to sacrifice
Apsynus' body were thrown over- Athenian hero THESEUS came to his daughter PHIGENIAwas enough
board, forcing the Colchians to Knossos to pay the annual tribute AnfgUtS was rhe daughter of to appeasethe goddess,although
gather up the remains for a decenr of seven young men and seven the Tiraness LETOand ZEUS,and there are differing accounts as to
burial. t-ater, in Thessaly, Medea girls, fuiadne gavehim a sword and the rwin sisrer of APoLLo. She was whether the girl was acually hlled.
also persuaded the daughters of a skein of thread that allowed him in all likelihood averyancient deity Another monal punished by
King Pelias ro cur rheir father to to escapefrom Daedalus'kbynnth whom the Greeks adopted as god- Anemis was ACTAEON.He had the
pieces and boil him, so as ro rcsrorc after a bloody struggle with the dess of the wild Traces of human misfonune while hundng to come
his youth. This they did, and in dreaded bull-headed man, the sacrifice could still be found in her upon the goddess as she was
hlling him avenged rhe disgrace of MINOTAUR.Theseus and Ariadne worship. Most of all, Anemis liked bathing She changed him into a
Jason's htherAeson. then fled from Crete. but for some to roam the mountains with a com- stag and he was chased and tom
Jason and Medea led an unser- unknown reason the hero aban- panion band of nymphs Cenainly apart by his own hundng dogs.
tled life in Greece. After a few years doned the princess on the nearby the virgin goddess resented any However, according to a different
he deserted her for another island of Dia. The desened princess kind of inmrsion into her domain, version, Actaeon actually tried to
wonvul, butMedeahlled rhis riral may then have become the wife of or any harm done to her favourite approach the naked goddess
and her own children byJason. DloNysus, rhe god of ecsmsy and animals. For killing a sug sacred to hidden beneath a stag's pelt
Jason died in Corinrh as a result of wine. Local legend would suggest Artemis. the leader of the Greek To the Romans, Artemis was
a rotten piece of rhe Argo hlling on such a connection, although the expedition against Troy, King closely identified with their god-
his head. Afterwards rhe gods whole story of the Minotaur was AGAMEMNONof Mycenae, found dess Diana, who was also a goddess
raised the ship to the skyand made probably no more than a garbled his fleet sranded by contrary winds of light as well as of the wild.

23
Cr-RssrcAL MYTHoLocY

baidehLswounded
ASO{NIUSweeps
Jatho, AateasCloseby,in a mantleoJ
mrst,
Aeneas' divinemother,Venus,
dacendsJromheaven wttha spngof
whiletheGreehsurgeo\
healingilittany,
Iapyx,pullsoutthearow-headwrthhis
/orceps(wouxoeo AENW,ANoN,AD62AND
79)

the CentaurCHIRoN, whose Imowl-


edge was so great that zEUshimself
fearedthat Asclepius mrght leam a
way of overcomrng death. When he
did succeed in resurrecdngone of
his patients, Zeus decided that
Asclepius should be punished for
threatening the gods' monopoly
over immortality. Asclepius was
slain by a thunder-bolt, but at
Apollo's request the god of medi-
cine was placed among the stars, zls
Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer.
So impressed were the Romans
with Asclepius' cult that during a
time of plague they requested aid
from Epidauros and a sacredsnake
was duly shipped to Rome.

ArnreNfn, in Greek myth-


olory, was the daughter of Iasus of
Arcadia and was known as a
famous hunness. As an unwanted
daughter she was exposed and left
to die on a mounainside, bur was
suckled by a bear and later brought
up by hunters. This experience
may have inclined her to manly
pursuits. She even tried to enlist
ASCANIUS was rhe son o[ The family ofJulius Caesar,rhe believed to embody the god's heal- with the ARGONAUTS, but fiSOw
AENEASand Creusa According to Julii, claimed descent from Aeneas ing power. The ancient associadon refused herbecause the presenceof
the Romans, he founded the city of through Ascanius, who was also between snakes and medicine is one woman on rhe ship mighr
AIba Longa thirry-rhree years after called Iulus llus ("made of llium"), probably due to the snake's appar- causejealousies amongst them.
the arrival of the Trojan refugeesin Ilium being the old name for Troy enr abiliry to renew its youth each Atalanra's most famous myth
Italy. An altemadve radirion makes year by sloughing off is own shn. concems the lengths to which she
Ascanius' mother l-avinia, a l-atin ASCrnPtuS, the Greek god of Only the stories of Asclepius' went to avoid marriage. She said
princess whose marriageto Aeneas healing, was rhe son of epotto, birth and death were ever well rhat her husband must first beat
brought peace and unity to the god of prophecy, and the lake known to the Greek and Romans. her in a race and any man who lost
L-arinand Trojan peoples. It was in nFmph Coronis. In myrhology he When Coronis dared to take in would be put to death. Despite the
her honour that Aeneas founded is a somewhat shadowy figure, secret a monal as a second lover, an awful consequence of losing, there
Lavinium within three years of which suggess his late arrival as a enraged Apollo sent his sister were many who admired Atalana's
landing. This would mean that major deiry. fuclepius would seem ARTEMISto kill the lake nymph beauty and paid the price against
Ascanius was hng of lavinium fol- to have been a Thessalianhealer with a disease. However, as the herspeed. None could catch her,
Iowing Aeneas' death, and before whose skills became known flames of the funeral pyre bumed although they ran naked while she
he left to take up residence in a throughout Greece: his cult even- Coronis, Apollo felt sorry for his was fu\ clothed Finally, the love
new ciry at Alba Longa. Early rilalry tually took over the sanctuary at unbom son and removed him from goddess ernnoorn took piry on a
between the two cities probably Epidauros in the Peloponnese the corpse. Thus was Asclepius young man named Melanion and
explains the removal myth. Sacred snakes resident there were bom..He was taught medicine by provided him with a way to delay

24
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

miraculously disappearedso rhat


the semen of the smith god fell to
the ground, where it grew into the
serpent Erichthonius The three
daughterso[ Cecrops,the semi-
serpent who first ruled Athens,
were given a box by Athena and
told not to look inside it Ignoring
this command, two of them looked
inside, found themselves gazing
upon Erichthonius, and went
insane However, Athena connn-
ASCLEPIUS, Greehgod oJhealing tends AfnfNn, somerimesArhene, rhe ued to protect Athens. Although ATHENA, goddess oJwisdomarul craJts,
a man on his sichbedA sonof ApoIIo,the daughter ofzrus and rhe Titaness the ciry fell into enemy hands dur- guidedand helpedherJavouites Here she
gredtesthealer,AsclepiuswasglJted wrth Metis, was the Greek goddess o[ ing the Persianinvasion of Greece visits thehero Bellerophonwith a g'Jt - the
mtraculousp(Nters,oncercune(ling d war and crafts Although a fierce in 480-479 nc, the Athenians later bndlewith whichto tameand mount tht
mortalJrom death His attibutes, stafl and urgin like ARTEMIS,she did not went on to achievemasteryof the wingedhorse,Pegdsus{tulsrmn,r rr,,v
setwL sign{ypowerandrnaval oJhJe shun men but on the contrary seaand found their own empire It SToRrEs FRoM GREECE AND RoME, ,l930 )
(IIUsBfloN BYNICK B4E, 1995 ) delighted in being a city-goddess, was during this period that the
most notably at Athens. This city Parthenon was built on the hero took over his job of holding
Atalanta. She gave him three adopted her cult when an olive tree Athenian acropolis up the sky When Atlas returned
golden apples, which he placed at grew on its acropoiis: the other Athena was alwaysregarded by wrth the appleshe suggestedthat
different points on the course diune nval for worship was rhe god the Greeks as an active goddess, he should deliverthem himself, as
Curiosiry gor the better o[Atalanta, POSEIDON, who produced only a involved in the affairs of men She Heracleswas doing so well The
who stopped three times to pick spnng of brackish water Arhena helped several heroes such as hero pretended to agreeand then
up the apples So Melanion won sprang into being fully grown and BELLEROPHON, JAsON,HERACLES askedifAt]as would take the world
the race and Atalancaas a wife. Bur armed from the head of her father and prRsrus Also, it was she who for a moment so that he could
in his hasre to make love to her, Zeus, afrer he had swallowed the eventuallygot ODYSSEUS back to adjust the weight on his shoulder,
Melanion either forgot a vow to pregnant Metis The smith god the island of Ithaca, followrng his so tncking Atlas into resuming his
Aphrodite or consummated their HEPFIAISTOS assistedrhe birrh wirh epic voyagehome from the Trojan lonely duty (SeealsoGIANTS)
union in a sacredplace To pay for a blow from his axe Quire likely War PerhapsAthena's most sig-
the sacrilegeboth he and Aralanta this intervention accounts for her nificant aid was given ro the ATIAS,thegreatTitanglant,wds
were tumed into hons. title of Hephaistia,rhe companion matncide ORESTES Not only did condemned to shouldutheheavms Jorever,
of the smith god. Athena's symbol she offer him protection, but she aspunishment Jorj.ghtingtheslEgod
ATAIr{NTA,thegtJtedhuntress dnd was the wrse owl, which featured also arranged for him to be rried Zeus (Iuvsrunou moM DrcnoNAfr oF cwsrql
unusually athletichuoine,Joundhermatch on Athenian coins. The Romans and acquitted of his terrible crime ANrreurilE, i89l )
in theequally resourceJul andarugetic idendfied her wirh MINERvA,a god- by the ancient court o[ the
MelanionHeretheheroic pairhuntand dessofwrsdom and the arts. Areopagus,in Athens The verdict
sW themonstrous wiWboarwhichhas An early myth relares how meant an end to the blood-feud,
beenravaglngthe plainsoJCalydon Hephaistos tned to rape Athena not leastbecausefor the firsr nme
(lltusrunoN FRoM TANGLTooD TALB c 1920 ) To avoid losing her virginity, she even the FURIES acceptedOresres'
deliverancefrom guilr

ATIAS was a rlTAN, rhe son o[


Iapetus and the Oceanid Cl)'mene
He was thought by the ancient
Greek to hold up the sky, and his
name means"he who cames" His
most famous encounter was wirh
the hero HEMCLES,one of whose
labours was to obtain the golden
apples of the HESPERIDES, female
guardiansof the fruit that morher
earrh, GAIA,presented ro HERAar
her mamage LozEUs Atlas offered
to fetch them for Heracles if the
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

finished eating, Atreus showed his BOREAS, oneoJtheJour wnds, blewJrom


brother rhe hands and feet of his the north, whistling through his conch He
dead sons and told him what he oJtn helped sailorsilth aJiendlJ breeze
had consumed ln horror the sun Alongwtth his brother winds, Eurus,
halted in its course Thyesres'only Zephyrusand Notus,he wasdepicLedLnthe
survmng son, Aegisthus, may have TempleoJWinds (llusrunoN FRoM
DRSMrrH
s
slain Atreus in revengefor this out- CHSIaL DIOIoNARY, i895 )

rage Cenanly he became the lover


of cryrrvNrslRa, whose husband Proteusdspatched Bellerophon ro
ArnruS was the son o[ prLops, ATREUS, sonoJPelops,cherisheda golden AGAMEMNON was the eldest son of southem Asia Minor, where he was
an early king after whom the ram, a double-edgedglJt of the god Hermes Atreus and his successoras king of supposedto meet his end, but ser-
Peloponnesein southern Greeceis The godgave thecovetedtreasureto Atreus, Mycenae, or Argos. Not until vice in the local hng's lorces saved
named, and Hippodaemia The hopingto sowstiJe and discordm the Clytemnestra and Aegisthus had his life Mounted on Pegasus,the
house of Atreus was infamous for houseoJ Pelops,in revengeJor the murder murdered Agamemnon, and were hero was able to overcome the
rhe heredimry curse laid upon it by oJ his son,Myrtilus rhemselveshlled by Agamemnon's monsuous Chimaera,defeatneigh-
the son of urRvrs, rhe messenger (ll r usrMroN By NrcK BTAIE, 1995 ) son ORESTES, did the curse of bouring peoples, including the
god A terrible cycie of murder and Myrtilus come to an end Amazons, and even become the
revengewas ended only by the tnal champion of Lycia A constelladon
Ln Arhens of Atreus' grandson BnUnnOPHON was a Greek was named after his fabulous
oREsTEson a charge of matricide hero from the city of Corinth and winged horse
Family misfortune stemmed the son of Glaucus. He possessed Two mlescast a cenain shadow
from the action of Pelops, the a wonderful winged horse named over Bellerophon's character. In the
fatherofAreus He seemseither to PEGAsus,which had sprung out of firsr he is credited with a brutal
have brought about the death of the GoRGoNMedusa's blood when revenge on the false Argive queen.
Hermes' son Myrtilus, or to have she was beheadedby PERSEUS The By pretending that he really loved
caused him great grief by refusing goddessATHENAgave Bellerophon her, Bellerophon persuaded the
to make a promised gift Fnctron a specialbridle in order to help him queen to elope with him on
berween the sons of Pelops, tame Pegasus. Pegasus,only to pushher off the
Arreus, Thyestesand Chrysippus, Bellerophon's problems began, winged horse's back in mid-air.
arose about the ownership of a as his own name indicates, with a The second nle almost ends in the
golden ram, a wondrous animal murder He evidently killed an hero's death when he attempted to
placed in Atreus' flock by Hermes important Corinthian becausein fly ro Mount Olympus, the home
First, Chrysippus was murdered by exile he changed his name from of the gods. zEUs in anger caused
Atreus and Thyestes,then Thyestes Hipponous to Bellerophon ("hller Pegasusto unseat Bellerophon,
seducedAerope, the wrfe of Atreus, of Bellerus") Although he was who was lamed for life.
in order to gain her help in seizing BELLEROPHON swoopsdownJor the hiII given refuge in Argos by King
the golden ram An enragedAtreus on his wingedhorse,Pegasus,diving Proreus, rhe passion of the local BORBS. the nonh wind. was the
slew Aerope and exiled Thyestes throughthe smoheandJlamesoJ thefire- queen Stheneboeafor him caused son ofEos, the goddessofdawn,
At a banquet supposedly for breathingChimaera,a monsterwith the further difficulties, and not least and the Titan Asraeus. His home
reconciliation, Atreus served his t'orepartoJa lion, thehindpart ol a dragon becausehe steadfastlyrejected her was rhought to be Thrace, which is
brother Thyestes with the flesh of and its middleJormedfrom a goot advances.Srheneboea accused him siuated to the nonh of theAegean
his children When Thyestes had (lrlr,srMroN FROM TANGTTmD TAL6, c i920) of attempted rape and the enraged Sea. In contrast to Zephynrs, the

26
CLASSIcAL MYTHOLOGY

gende west wind, Boreaswas capa-


ble of great dessucdon. During the
Persian invasion of Greece, he
helped the Greek cause by damag-
ing the Persianfleet at the battle of
Anemisium in 480 sc
Boreas abducted Orithyia, a
daughter of King Erechtheus of
Attica. Coming across Onthyra
dancing near a stream, he then
wrapped her up in a cloud and
canied her off to Thrace. She bore
Boreas twin sons, Calais andZrtes,
who were lcrown as the Boreades
At birth these boys were enrirely
human in appearance,but later
they sprouted golden wings from
their shoulders. Theywere hlled by
the geat hero HEMCLES.
Boreas was worshipped in the
city of Athens, where an annual
festival, known as the Boreasmi,
was celebratedin his honour BruroueRrlS ("sweet maid") sought sanctuary in the sacred BRUTUS, thefirst consuloJthe new
was said to be the daughter of grove ofARTEMtS, and becameher republicoJ Rome,condemnshis sonsto
zEUS.She lived on the island of close associate The myth is almost deathJor isingagainst the gwemment
BRITOMARTISIedJromRing Minos Crete, where she spent her rime as certainly an account of the amalga- Brutus, 4s his name implies,t'agned
whopursuedho Jorninemonths, untilat a hunuess l(ng MINos of Knossos mation of rwo ancient culs. idioq but was noJool; wrse\ and duttfuIly,
Itst,in desryir,shelmptintothesea tried to make Britomanis his mis- he led the tial againsthis rebelsons
Luchily,shebecame ottangledin some tress But she fled from him and in BRUTUS was said to be the son (IrLUsrMroN FROM SToruE FROM Llw, ,I885 )

andwhenArtemischanged
ftshingnets, her desperation to preserve her of Tarqurnia, who was rhe sister o[
ho intoa god&ess shewashnavnas virginiry threw herself off a clilf into TARQUINIUS sUPERBUs. He was the Shortly after their return to
Dictynnd, which means "net" rhe sea. The lcng finally gaveup the founder of the Roman Republic Rome, the youngest prince raped
(I[UsIMfloN BYNICXBuE. 1995) pursuit when the Cretan goddess Like most Roman myths, the story LULRLItA. a Koman matron. r nls
o[ Lucius Junius Brutus lays act of violation was the lasr srraw
emphasison dury to the sute, even for the oppressed Roman aristoc-
though in this instance it invojved racy, especiallywhen it was leamed
the sacrifice of two sons. Dunng rhat Lucreria had subbed hdrselfto
the early part of his life Bnrtus was death The outrage was cleverly
regarded as a simpleton, which his used by Brutus as a means of over-
name implies. Indeed, he was throwing the monarchy and setting
something of a joke in the court of up a republic. The now eloquent
Tarquinius Superbus, the last Brutus was elected consul, one o[
Elruscan king to rule Rome When the rwo highest offices of scate.But
a snake was found in the king's this fulfilment of the Oracle was
palace, two princes travelled to soon to cause him grief, when a
Delphi to ask the Oracle to explain conspiracy to restore Tarquinius
this event and Bruus accompanied Superbus to the throne was found
them almost in the role of a jester. to have the suppon ofTitus and
The Oracle told the Romans that Tiberius, rwo of Brutus'own sons
the first person in the delegation to As he was the chiel magistrate,
hss his mother would be the next Brutus, with great digniry, oversaw
ruler of Rome. The princes drew their arrest, trial and executlon
loa to decide who was to hss their Thus, at the moment of the new
mother on their retum home, but Republic's triumph, the qplcally
Brutus tnpped and kissed the Roman idea of self-sacrificeappears
earth, much to their amusement. as part of is foundation myth.

27
CLASSTcAL MYTHoLocY

are in fact a number o[ ancient


accounts o[ Phoenicianactiviryin
the Aegean Sea For instance, on
the island of Cythera,which lies off
the southem Peloponnese,a shrine
to Aphrodite is known to have
been erected based on the god-
dess'schief temple in Phoemcra. CERBERUS snafuandgrwlsby the
mouthoJHodesA threz-headed hound
CEICNES SCE OMCLE5 AND witha snahe for a uil, heallowedno
PROPHECIES shadesto retumJromthedead,though a
Ju slippedby wtththehelpol thegds Hts
CRt-t-sro see Lowks oF zEUs darhdn openedontotheStyt(alongwhxh
CharonJemed theikad Qrusrunop w
C,eSSnNonn was rhe daughrer GUNN 5w m.1995 )
of pruaivl,krng of Troy, and his wife
Hecuba. Herbeaurywas asremark- AGAMEMNON,to whom she was
able as her power of prophecy, awarded as part of his share of the
which was said to have been a gift spoils But ultimately Cassandra
CECUS SCCGIANT5 CADMUS sowsthe teeth oJa dragon he from APoLLo,who loved her, but had her revenge on the Greeks.
has slain, and instantly the soil bnstles wtth becauseshe refusedhis advances When Troy fell, she had sought
CenUUS was rhe son ofAgenor, armed wantors, who sping up to attnch he condemned her to prophesy the sanctuaryin ATHENA'stemple but
i<rngof Phoenicia,and Telephassa, eachother OnlyJivesuwived,to become rruth but never ro be believed. was raped, and so the goddess
and the brother of ruRop,r When ancestos oJthe Thebans,whosecity Cassandraforetold the Trojan punished this sacnlegeby killing
Europa was forcibly taken to Crete CadmusJoundedon the site War, the true purpose of the many of the Greeks during rheir
by zEUs, disguised as a bull, (IIU5IMIIoN 8Y NICX BAE, 1995 ) Wooden Horse and the murder of voyagehome However, Cassandra
Cadmus and his four brothers were met her own end at the hands of
sent after her, wrth instructionsnot that the Theban aristocracy was CASSANDM,/rcnnd seer, Jleesthrough Agamemnon's wife CLYIEMNESTM
to return home without her. descended from the five wamors bumingTrq,aghast dt thesightolho an (Seealso ORACIESAND PROPHECTES)
Although the five Phoenician who survived the mutual slaughter predictionsGiJtedwtthpropheq,she
princes failed in their task, they After a penod of penance for clearly Joresaw theTrolanWarandthe cncRops see FouNDERs
seem to have had an impact on the killing Ares' serpent, Zeus gave hcheryoJtheWoodetHorse, butnoone
places where they eventually set- Cadmus a wife - none other than believed ho Jor shewasJatedto beignored CeNfeUnS, according to Greek
tled Cadmus himself was told by Harmonia, the daughter of Ares (IuusrMfloN BvNrcK BilE, 1995) mythology, were said to be the
the Oracle at Delphi to forget about and epuRoottr, goddessoflove descendanmof xlo,v, son of ARE5.
Europa and instead find a cowwith Since he was marr;nnga goddess, These strange creatures had the
a moon-shaped mark on its flank the gods themselvesartended the head, arms and chestof a man but
He was to follow the animal and wedding and gavewonderful gifts the legs and lower half of a horse
build a city on the spot where it The unusual union o[ mortal and They lived in Thessaiy,fed on meat
chose to lie down and rest Har,rng immortal was not blessedby par- and were given to riotous behav-
found the cow and followed it east- trcularly success[ul offspring, iour They were usually depicted as
wards to Boeotia,where at last it however One of their descendans, drunken followers of ololysus,
sank in exhaustion,Cadmus then Pentheus,suffereda homble fate except for wise CHIRONwho was
sent some o[ his men for warer so Having insulted DIoNYsus,he was the tutor to severalheroes,includ-
that they might sacrificethe animal tom to piecesby the god's female ing ACHILLES(Seealso MONSTERS
to ATHENA But rhesemen were worshippers when he spied on ANDFABULOUS BFAsTs)
attacked by a serpent sprung from their secret rites. Among the fren-
the war god enrs After Cadmus zred worshippers was Pentheus' CfnngnUS was a three-headed
had killed the monster, the god- own mother, Agave, the daughter hound, the offspringof rwo mon-
dessAthena adnsed him to remove of Cadmus and Harmonia sters,TYPHON and Echidna He was
its teeth and sow half of them in The ancient Greeks always the watchdog of the Greek under-
the ground lmmediately,armed acknowledged the importance oI world and stopped anyone trying
men arose,but wrly Cadmus rhrew Cadmus' reign, hence, his divrne ro rerum to the land of rhe living.
stones among them so that, sus- wife He was credited with the One of grRacLES'labours was ro
pecting each other, they fell upon introduction from Phoenicia of an fetch Cerberus,a challengethe god
themselves lt was later believed alphabet o[ sixteen letters There of rhe dead. uenrs. allowed him ro

28
CLASSICAL MYTHoLoGY

CHIRON (elt) instructstheyouthJul


Achillesin the afts oJwar, medicine,
hunting, musrcand propheq Uniihe his
brother Centdurs,who Lndulgedin iotous
revelnes,Chiron was notedJor his wisdom
and gtntleness(THrEr)uGlloN
oFA( Hill I t 0v
PoMPEo BAToNr, aANn-s, c I/70)

CtNctNNerUS wasa Roman


hero who was instrumentalin sav-
ing the early Republic ln 458 nc,,
Romc was in danger of berng
d c s t r o l ' e db ; r h e A c q u i . a n ei g h -
bounng lralian tnbe To defeatthis
threat,the Senatevoted to appolnr
C i n c i n n a t u sa s d r c t a t o r ,a t e m
poraryofficevcstcdrvith unlimired
powers A deputationwas senr ro
his small farm, rvhich was the
s m a l l e s tl a n d h o l d i n ga l l o w e d t o
quah$'for citizenshrpThe senators
found Crncrnnatusar work tending
hi< , r,rn< Hr u'as rnld 6[ thg
S en a r e ' s d e c r s i o n a n d r ' " . a ss a l u t e d
as dictaror However. the plebeians,
thc ordinary people, feared that
( in, Lnnatusmight abuse his pos-
-fheir
ition fears proved groundless
and, after the dcfeat o[ the Aeqr-ri.
rhel""oted Crncinnatus a golden
wreath at the end of his sixty days
of office He then returned to his
fields and was remembered as the
perfect example of a r'rnuous and
dutilul Roman citizen

CINCINATTUS, oneoJthe mostmodest


oJ Romanheroesand a modeloJ Roman
integnry AIter 60 daystn ot'fice,he quietly
to hlsJanfl (lrrr,rtqtn,".",,u
retumed,
5r()Rlr5 rR()MIr\ry, 188-5)

undertake,but only on condition a p p c a r a n cocf a r y p i c a (l . E N t A t r R ,


thar he was unarmed Like thc wlth the body and legsof a horsc,
GORGONS, Cerberuswas so dread- and the armsand hcad of a rnan
ful to behold that anyone who His unusualparentagcexplains
looked upon him was turned to why Chiron was so wrse, unlikc
stone He was brother to the Hydra other Centaurs,for he was leamcd
and the Chimaera i n m u s i c ,m e d i c i n e h
, untingand
warfare He was a fnend of 'cPot-trl
CHTRON was rhe son of PhilJra, and the ruror ro several Greek
daughter of ocEANos, and the heroessuch asACHILLES, A-Sa.LEPlL/-S
Titan CRoNoS,who had adopted andTeso,v He lived rn a cave on
-fhessaly,
the form of a horse to hide from his Mount Pelionin and
wrfe RHrAhis passion for Phillra, when he died zru-sscr him rn thc
which is why Chiron had the slryas the constellationCentaurus

29
CrassrcAr- MvrHoLocY

HERoES
HE MYTHS OF ALL CULTUREScontain inspiring individuals
who express ideal traits and talens, such as the courage
of Achilles, might of Heracles, wit of Odysseus and
endurance of Oedipus. A classic hero is a champion
rn every sense, overcomrng trials, ridding the world of
troublemakers , blazrng trails and winning through
despite all the odds. Yet he is neither inr,ulnerablenor
immortal, though often helped, and sometimes
hindered, by the gods. Greek mythology is
unusually rich in heroes and heroines of every kind.
Some, such as Achilles and Hector, are wartime
champions; others, such as Odysseus or Theseus,
are heroes for peacetime, some are positive and
outgoing, such as Heracles or Perseus; still others
are heroes of attitude rather than action, such as
Oedipus, Antigone, or Hector, who, at the end,
remained steadfastin the face of hopeless defeat.
HEMCLES (bdow) shootshis poisonedanows at his oldJoe, the Centaur Nessu.s,
who racedaway wth his
wile, Deuntru, whik lerrying her acrosstheiver EvenusThe dying Centaur olJeredDeianira the glJtof his
bloodus u sulvelor prcseruingthe loveo[ HeraclesThe lovephiltre provedto be a futal tnch Lrywhich Heracles
tlied manyyears later, tragcally, by the handsoJhis insecurebut loting wife, Deiantra, who in her sorrow
h i l l e d h e r s t(llll.r R ( L U s ^ N r ) N r \ \ L r \ a i F R A N : \ ( ) N - s r r i . r k , . ^ N v A s l 8 6 J l 9 2 8 )

HEMCLES (above), best hnow Jor his mighry labour:, was aII his hJea
helper oJ godsand men, setting theearthJree oJmany monstus and rascak
Worshrypedas a heroand deity,he was invohedas d saviour;as the herooJ
labourand strug,le,he waspatron deity oJthe gmnasium In art he appears
as the ideal oJ manly strength, wrth massivemusclesand graveocpression This
celebratedGreehsculptureshowsthehero in reposeleantngon his club, draped
wth thefamous lion's shin (THLFANrsri
HrRcuL c 200Bc)
E BvGLY.oN.
CIeSSICAI- MyTHoLoGY

A C H I L L I . S ( a b o v c ) . y 9 J l i h eh c r r r u n d p c e r l t ' s s u t n r o r w u r l l l l d o r i r u / / y , t / i r g u i s e c r. lr ' r r { r f / r n h r \ r r r r i t h H i i t L r r r r r

t n o t h r t , f l t r t t r . t r r r / t t r t g1 i r\ d 1 c h r n r / r r ) r i f h ( l f ( ) / d n \ l ' c l , l r r r / l r r r l d r ) ) ( l t ( \ l r l t d r r L r q i r rt ,r r r / l - \ r r , r r r r t L r 1 r 1-1\ 1 1 1 1 , rf 1 1 1 1 1

( ) d _ y s s e t r s L r r n t , d t s t r r r s r J a s d l l r r ' r i h d n t , la/ rn,cr .wl ' c J t h c t r r / s l r w r l sr l r r \ \ r \ . u r J L m r r \ ( ) r r i r , 4 , h r / i r . \ i ' l i a r f/ / r ( ( t r l r j

eagerlv, suJJcnly n,ulrtrns iris trur rlr and nit, m hlt Hc l/rr rr arconrpanrr i./ Odlsirrr lrr Inl

PI:RSIU.S, guded tnJ nnrdtd hv tfu gods,utii rble ro


s1a_t
thc nrorla/Crrr-qorr
,\Icdusa,orr ,y'thrri /rrtht/Lrl
stslcrswlrrrlwt:lt rtntfu larLhest
sh,,n,11tht orrut. untl
tthosf l()()lis
lutned mot lrr\lol1{'lJ}rvicvingMlr.lururn hrs
s h r n r nrql r r t L iP e r r ' r rn t r sa b l cl o , r i tr y ' / h ehrr a , / u s h r
rltpt Hrtltitn lry thr rnrrrrbl he/nrtr ,y'Hadcshr /ior to
':ulayu
on wtnuL:cl sanJrr/s gilcn hirn,lry/he n-ynr|hr
\lcdusu r /l ctclrvrtsplrrrt J rrnAlhuru r hreasfllrtr rl
parall,stttt' pttirer rn,lrrtll/c' t r i r i r ! \ i i ) \ I r , r J ' I \ f , ( L I ! , . 1r l i

J\rr\ i lr,)rrl

, ; r 1 , 1
l

( . L O F , I l A l r r h r l r ' . t ,l i o r r r r r nh L r r , r r r , $ t r s
$lrr1 rt\ d itoildg . / A S O N i , r / r r r i ) t / r r ' rr ' / r ' h r c i t r '(r(j/ l ) l ( / i r )r r / t h t . \ r r l r r r r r r l : l i O R A T I t r . S ' i ? h r ) \Ir / r r d 1 r ' R , r r l u r/ r Lr o h i l , l r l r ,
l() fhf lrllli\(d|, L r t r s / ) , r r s L r r n ur,/ r 0 r r r t / r i l r ( | | / t / r ! . r r ' n r b a r / rr . /r ) r i t , q l 1 t / lt r , / i r l f r l l lrr hrrrv hut /l tltr (,oltkrt \ t t b l t ,t r t t t/ J i l r i L tI t l l t l r ! r r( ( ) l ] i l ( t r \l ( r l q . / t i t \ l/ / t r / t l l l l s ( r 0 )
(lgdinst ll()nr( But \h( (lup(d
lr(nn hr tttmp unr.l swcrm Ik'ct,:.whth was sus7;rrrr.lcr./fru
r rbnr u n t h o l t t n d t h h 1 ( r t r m t , W / r / r ' h t h t l , l o l l l h r ' F l r u s r r r r r s ,l h r i l r r r r r r r r rhsa r h r r /
d( rllst lhr / r,b0 lrr lirrrrrr \{rhen l/rt ii()ritdI\ \r,Il }tr'i bd( li t t t t l t r g r r t l r / , \ r t r r r r( ' r 1 1 J 1 1
115l r t s g r r ' u f l r r l t , r r r I i chj t it c b l , l t r h r ' h r r r Jh r r r r r l l j l l t ( ( ) J L / l ) \J( I I , r r r r L , ' , l r / r r r ,h
t r ) I ) a r A d t i t d ,h a r " d s r , , / ( { h r ' nn L / t r I L ( / l / d r f n , t l r r t l h a \ c l r \ t t / r : s l, l r r h r r r q i y ' ( r r l i r r s l V r t / rt l r r h L l p o l 1 p , t 1 7 , 1 1, ,t ' , , t n l i l \ r ( ) f r i ( i r /\r H ( ) r r / l i r i r\ l , l l l . r j r r r r r r o r t r lt j r , j r r r , l ( , / , l l

htr lrct'wtlh:ornc ot|rr hoslagi,s rirrri guvc htr t spk'nJitl l h t s r r r ri r r ' s s, \ I c d c a ,J t r r r r l r t c r r t l t h L t n g o l ( . r r i ri r r s / a s r r n l l t r ' n / t r ' s r [ 0 n l d \ . ] / r t \ ' ( r (f 1 r \ \ l / r r r r t g r r r gI t l l r , , r r r r r Jr l 0 r r V
h r r t r e l J r ' r r r h c r r d r r l r r l r r p h a l r l h t , , f r r r J o n r n ' r l i rh L r , J r r t n r t r l l r , ' L i T r f l r r Lr r r r r u f i h / r r / r / r i r g o n l h r r r r r r r l i i t d l l r , ,lnrlrr 1 / t , \ f t t t c r , r i l ( ( 1 r\ tl { t l r i rr r ) l | 5 i t ( ) | 1 ) | irl t t / t (
r ( ) n l p t l l l l { ) l l \i r . r r i \ i , ' .r r ' | \ ' , , , , , . t l i , . rl 5 r ,
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

CIRCE Q4t), an enchantingnynph, CLYTEMNESTM (abwe), the estrangd

inites Odysseusb dnnhJrom ho maglc wife oJAgamonnon, watchesand waitslor


cup, containingd potion which tums men the shipsfrom Troy,binglngho husband
into swine But Odysseushas ben home Yet no hero's welcomeawaits the

forewamed and, immunized with the herb retumingwarior, onlybetrayaland


moly, he dnnls wtthout coming to ham murder by his wrJeandher lover
(IIUSIMTION FROM TANGLMOOD TALEs, C I92O) (IrLUsTMfloN BYNICX BUE,1995 )

CtnCr, daughter of ruruos, the CLOTUASCC HEROES dess ARTEMIS, either as sacrificial wars. He said that unless the ple-
sun god, was a powerful witch who victim or as pnestess beians, the ordinary people, were
had porsoned her husband, hng of CLrrnunrsrRn was the Like her sister HELEN,whose willing to restore to the nobiliry is
the Sarmatians,before going to rhe daughter ofrpoe and Tyndareos, elopement with PARIScaused the full ancient privileges they should
fabulous island of Aeaea.Her mag- king ofsparta, and the estranged Trojan War, Clytemnestra felt no expect no charity Hounded from
ical powers tumed ODY55EU5' men Mfe of eceurMNoN. Sometimes loyalry towards her husband. She Rome for such an opinion, he
into swine when they landed on she is poruayed as a weak woman, openly conducted an affair with joined the Volsci and evenrually Ied
Aeaea on their way home from easily persuaded by her lover Aegisthus, Agamemnon's cousin, a Volscian army against the ciry. All
Troy. Aided by HERMES, the mes- Aegisthus to assistin the murder of and ruled Mycenae with him. The seemed lost until his mother
senger god, Odysseuswas immune her husband on his return from end of the war required desperate Volumnia spoke to him, asking
to Circe's magic and restored his the Trojan War Otherwise it is measures.When he rerumed home Coriolanus whether he saw her as
crew to human form, and also Clytemnestra who rs the strong Agamemnon was butchered by his own mother or as a prisoner of
gained the witch's aid for the next character,the insdgator of the mur- Aegisthus, usinga wo-headed axe, war. As a result he quit the battle-
part of his joumey For ayearhe der, while Aegisrhusis little more while Clytemnestra had him en- field and went into exile.
stayed as her lover, before she told than a weakling Even before the ungled in a net For this terrible
him how to navigate through the the Greek force departed for Troy, crime, Clytemnestra was herself CneON, in Greek mythology,
waters o[ the Sirens and between Clytemnesrra already had good hlled by her son oREsrEs was the brother o[Jocasta and a
Scylla, a monster, and Charybdis, a reason to hate her husband. In reluctant ruler of Thebes He was
whirlpool. Srylla had been a nval of order to gain a fair wind to Troy, he COruOUNUS wasalegendary regent during the uncertain period
Circe, who had rumed her into a agreed to sacrifice her favourite Roman traitor o[ the fifth century afrerKing LAIUS, Jocasu'shusband,
monster when one of her many child tpntcrruin Even though the BC Conscious above all of his had been killed near the ciry Creon
lovers had shown an interest in the champion ACHTLEShad promised noble birth, Coriolanus objected to offered the throne and the hand of
unfortunate girl ln some accounts, to defend the grrl againstall threats, the Senate'swish to distribute free Jocastato any man who could solve
Circe eventuallymanied Odpseus' rhe Greek host had its way and bread to poorer citizens, who were the nddle of the SPHINX and thus
son Telemachus. lphigenia was offered to the god- starving becauseof Rome's endless rid Thebes of this bloodthirsty

32
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

was a com god whom they associ-


ated with the Golden Age

CUPTU was rhe Roman god of


love and son of the love goddess
IENUS.He was deprctedas a beaut-
iful but wanlon boy, armed with a
qurver fuli o[ "arrowed desires"
Some of his arrows, however,
would um people awayfrom those
who fell rn love wrth them
CREON, reluctanthing oJThebes,Iosthis According to one myth, Venus
son, wiJeand niecein a traglcqde oJ wasjealous ofpsycHE ("the soui")
suicidescausedby his infteible will His and told Cupid to make her love
crushingJatewas to endurea hJeof the ugliest man alive But Cupid fell
solitary gneJand remorse olrl'srurk)NBr in love wrth Psycheand, inv'rsible,
NICK 8arE, I995 ) nsired her everynighr. He told her
nor to rry to see hrm, but, over-
CORIOLT{NUS. a Roman As a result of this act of defiance,
exile.marched to keep chained up. In gratitude, come by curiosity, she did try and
againsthisoA cirywithandmy oJ Creon hadAnngone walled up in a the Cyclopes, the single-eyed he left her Psychesearchedthe
Vokcians, encamping justoutsideRome
cave. lne seer llRt5iAStoro Lreon giants, fashioned for Zeus his world for him, until the sky god
There, heignored aIIentreaties to bury the dead and disinter the
Jorpeace famous hghrning and thunderbolts JUPITER granted her immortality so
until visitedbyhismother(centre), hiswiJe
living, but he refused The result In a subsequenr struggle for that she could be Cupid's consmnt
andtheRoman matrons, whose tears
was personalgnef, when his own power, Zeus and hrs brothers companion The couple's daughter
softenedhis sternheatt(IuusrmroN son committed suicide on leaming
rRoM successfullydealt wrth all the might was named Voluptas ("pleasure")
STouEs FROM Llw.1885) of Antigone's dearh, and hts own and power that Cronos could
wrfe soon followed suit direct against them After his CUPIDJshes playt'ully
amongst thewaves
monsrer. jEDIPIIS managed ro Although Creon was well defeat, Cronos was either banished Heis usuallyportrayed asa cute,
achieve the apparently lmpossible known ro the ancient Greek, his to a distant paradise, or he simply capncious childwithwingsandoJten witha
task, then took over the kingdom, own characterseemslessimponanr slowly faded awayas an unimpor- quiveroJarowsor a torchto inJlame love
marriedJocastaand raiseda family in myth than his role as regent in tant deity The Romansequated in the hearts oJ gods and men (cr prDFrsHrNG
Not until a piague threatened the troubled ciry of Thebes. Cronos with their SATURN,who FREDER((WArrs,-sfprAL ]890 )
B) C;E()RG[

Thebes and the Delphic Oracle was


consulted about irs cause,did ir CRONOS, in Greek myrhology,
become known thatJocasrawas was the son of Ouranos, the sky
Oedipus' mother and that he had god, and GAIA,rhe earth morher.
lolled L-aius.Oedipus blinded him- With the help of Gaia, Cronos
self,Jocastacommitted suicide and emasculatedOuranos and seized
Creon became regent once more. control of the universe He then
A quarrel between Oedipus' married his sister nHEAand fol-
sons, Eteocles and Polynices, Iowed the example of Ouranos in
caused another penod of dismay, disposing of his children by swal-
eventually leaving both of them lowrng them, becausehe had been
dead and Creon on the throne. wamed that he would be displaced
Whereas Eteocleswas regardedby byone ofhis sons Rhea,however,
Creon as a patriot and properly gavehim a stone wrapped in swad-
buned, the body of the rebel dling clorhesinsteadof the infanr
Polynices was thrown outside the ZEUS,his youngest son, who was
city walls and forbidden burial. taken secretlyto Crete in order to
Such a situationwas unaccepmble gow up safelyon the island When
to ANTIGONE,Oedipus' daughter Zeus came ofage, he forced Cronos
and companion during his wan- to vomit up hrs brothersand sisters
denngs around Greece,and on her - POSEIDON, HADES, HERA, HESTIA
retum to Thebes she sprinkled and orl,trrrR - and to releasehis
Poll'nices' corpse with earth, so as uncles and aunts, especiallythe
to give her brother a token burial Tians, whom Cronos had chosen
Cle,ssrcAr- MyrHoLoGY

wrngs olwax and feathersfor him-


self and his son lcarus Despite his
father's waming, Icarus flew too
close to the sun, the wax of his
CURTIUS baps into the chasmin the wings melted and he fell into the
RomanJorum The seersdeclared that the sea and drowned. Daedalusman-
,hasm could only beJilled by Rome's aged ro amve safelyin Sicily, where
greatesttreasure,and so Curtiusymped he amused the daughters of l(ng
in, declanng that therewasno greater Cocaloswith his invendons When
treasurethan a gallant Romancltizen Minos eventually caught up with
(lra|srMTft)N FRoM 5r()RrEs r,RoM Lrw, 1885.) the fugitive craftsman, a battle of
wits ended in Daedalus' favour:
CURTIUS is the subject of a Mrnos was lolled by boilingwater, DANAE (above) was impisoned in a D{ED{[US (nght) craftedwtngs of
srrange incident in Roman myth- or oil, which Daedaiuspersuaded bronze tower by ho Jather, becatsehe feathus, heWtogetho by wax, to escary
ology Around 362 nc a grear Cocalos'daughters ro pour down a Jeareda propheq that he woull be ktlled by t'rom Crete, anl taught hrs son, Iccrus, hon,
chasm appeared in the Forum in pipe into the king's bath. his grandson Yet even htdden away in her toJl, waminghim that he must notJty too
Rome, which led straight down to tower, shewas still accessibleto the god closeto the sun But lcarus wasdrawn to
the underworld It had appeared DRNen was rhe morher of the Zeus, who came to her as a goWat shower thelight ol the sun so his wings meltd and
becausethe Romansforgot to make breeK nero PtR5tuJ ano Ine Thq had a son,Perseus(Drrreauour heJeII into the sea, now named the lcaian
an appropnate sacrificeto the dead daughter ofAcnsius, long of Argos GoLDEN RAIN BY TITIAN, cANvAs, i554 ) (DAEDALUS AND IGRU5 By CMU laNmN, 1799)

Marcus Curtius therelore plunged in the Peloponnese lt had been


on horseback into the bottomless foretold that her son would cause DePHNn, in Greek myrholory, was a gold-tipped shaft and when
pit and was seen no more the death ofAcrisius, so he locked was the daughter of the river god it struck Apollo it made him fall
her in a bronze tower But ZEUS Peneius.She was similar in many immediately in love with Daphne
Cyct-oPts see GrANrs visited her as a shower of golden ways to the goddess ARTEMIS, in The second one, however, had a
rain and Perseuswas conceived that she was also a virgrn huntress lead tip and caused Daphne to
DngP,qlUS, according to Greek The kingbanished the morher and who happily roamed the wrlder- become even more indifferent than
mytholory, was said by some to be her son, but after many adventures ness One day, the love god enos she aiready had been to any lover
the son of Alcippe, the daughtero[ Perseus did accidentally kill shot a flurry of arrows in response Apollo, however, pursued Daphne
the war god eREs,and by others to Acnsius when throwing a discus. ro taunts from APOLLO,the god of relentlesslyuntil, in desperation,
be the son of Merope It is agreed, (Seealso LOv'ERs OFZEUS) prophecy The first ofEros'anows she tumed herselfinto a laurel uee
though, that he came from Athens
He was a gifted craftsman and was
employed by khng MINOSar his
palace of Knossos in Crete.
Daedalus designed and built the
Labynnth for the dreaded vtlo-
TAUR This was the offspnng of
PASIPFIAE, Minos'wife, and a great
bull Daedalus had designed an
anificial cow inro which rhe queen
could place herself and so be able
to mate wrth the bull Thus was the
Minotaur conceived Minos later
impnsoned Daedalus for revealing
the secretof the Labynnth, but he
managed to escapeby constructing

DAPHNE,a iver nymph,wasbvedby


Apollowhopursuedheruntll,on thebanlzs
oJherJather'siver, sheprayedJor
helpand
was at oncechangedinto a laurel tree
Here. herJather, the iver god Penaus,
weepstnconsolably, whlle Apollo strohts her
Ieafi arms tn wonder CApoLLo
ANDDApHNL
8y
(ANvAs.
Nr()ut P(tr,55rN. c 1627)

34
CTASSTcAL MyrHor.ocy
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

DEMETER,QeJt) goddess of theeanh,and


herdaughter,Persephone, holding a mystic
theyung Tiptolemus,
torth,consecrate
theJirstmanto sowcom ThisrelieJ was
s1
:{. Joundat Eleusis,
siteof theEleusian
mystenes whichrcntred onDaneterand
herworship(MARB:E RELTEF,
c 490 BC)

dead she pined and refusedto eat


d
l7
any food, while in the world of the
lirnngher mother iost all interestin
fertiliry,so thar plants languished,
animals ceased to multiply and
people feared lor their future
Eventually,Zeus had to intervene
and rule that Hadesmust grve up
Persephoneif she would not con-
senr to stay with him As she had
by then earen something in his
realm,it was deemedthat she had
not completelyrejectedHades,so
henceforth Persephone would
dinde the year equallybetween her
mother and her husband

DIDO @elow), exoticqueeroJCarthage,


traglcally
stabbed whenhr lover
herselJ
Aneasdesmedher to fufilhisdestiny,
and
leadhispeopleto RomeTheheroine
isportrayedbyVirglaso nobleand
generoussoulwho,in theclassictradition,
endureshertraglcJatealone
OLLUSTMTON 8Y NICK BULE, ]995 )

Dnlpntc ORACLEs." an important cult at Eleusis,just Her myth tums on the disap- The story of Demeter and
OMCLESANDPROPHECIES south o[Athens, where ntes were pearanceof Persephone When the Persephoneis clearlyancient lt has
celebraredannually in the autumn girl was a child, her father, ZeuS, parallelsin the mythology of Wesr
DEUETER, rhe Greekgoddessof when, through music and dancing, wrthout even consulting Demeter, fuia, where gowth and decaywere
vegetadonand fruitfu]ness, was the her worshippers recalled the loss agreed to his brother FIADES' closely associatedwith a dyng and
daughrer of cRolos and RHre and rediscovery of her daughter request that Persephoneshould be reviving deiry For the Greek,
Like her Roman equivalent,Ceres, PERSEPHONEDemeter means his bride and rule the underworld Persephoneas Kore ("the maid-
she was especiallyassocratedwith "mother eanh" - rhe abundant soil wuh him Hadeswas impatient and sn"), was identified as rhe power
com Demeter possessedmysteri- as well as the resting-placeof the rose from the earth and abducted within the com i6elf, which was a
ous powers of growth and even dead (which were known by the Persephoneas she plucked flowers natural extersion of her mother the
resurrection She was the focus of Atheniansas "Demeter'speople") in a field Bur in rhe world of the com goddessDemeter.

36
CLAssrcAL MYTHoLoGY

DIONYSUS, the vital and beautifulGreeh


god oJunc whirls in a state oJblisslul
euphoia inducedW his own Jruit,the
grape Entwined in his hair is a wreath oJ
vine, and coveinghis shouldersthe shin oJ
a lyrw, one oJ the oeatures sdcredto hifi

DtOtttYSUS was rhe son of zEUs


and sruELr, who was a Theban
princess.In Greek mythology, he rs
a youthful god o[vegetation,wine
and ecstasy,known as the "bull-
homed god" because he ofren
adopted the form of this powerful
beast. In Roman mythology he is
representedby the god Bacchus.
Onginally, he may have had a
mythological role somewhat simi-
lar to that of the goddessDEMETER
("mother earth") His cult in later
times, however, developed into
one of personalsalvation,particu-
larly for women worshippers who
were known as maenads
From the beginning, the ancient
Greeks were well aware o[ rhe
strangecharacteroI Dionysus,and
in some city-stateshis wrld, orgras-
tic ntes were outlawed. The most
famous attempt to prohibit his
worship was by King Pentheusof
Thebes The king even tried to
imprison Dionysus, but the chains
fell off him and the prison doors
could not be closed Dionysus then
told Pentheus that he could
observe at lirst hand the secret
rituals performed on a mountain
close to the city, but only if he
disguised himself as a woman. The
hng readily took the bait and spied
on the maenads from a hiding-
place in a tree However, rhe
maenadssoon discoveredhim and,
DIOO, origrnally a princess of the ciry of Canhage The local ruler soon fell in love, but the Roman in their ecsraticfrenzy,thought that
Tyre, in Phoenicia, became rhe agreed to sell her as much ground god luetrrn senr MERcuRvwirh a he was a lion and tore him limb
tragic queen of Canhage and rhe as a bull's hide might contain,so messagereminding Aeneasof his from limb. Afterwards his mother,
abandoned love of AENEA5.Her Dido cut the skin into strips in desdny to found a new Troy in Italy Agave, who was also one o[ the
husband had been murdered by order to obtain an adequateplot and ordenng him to resume his leading maenads, realized to her
her brother, when the latrer When the Trojan hero Aeneas voyage at once When Aeneas horror thar they had dismembered
ascended the throne ofTyre. Dido arrived in Carthage, having been sailed away, Dido became so over- not a lion but her son. After his
escaped from Phoenicia with a blown offcourse on his way to Italy whelmed by the loss of her lover bunal, Agave, together vnth her
small band of followers and sertled from Troy, Dido welcomed him that she stabbed herself and then parents, CADMUsand Harmonia,
in present-day Tunisia, where she and his fellow refugeeswith great leapt inro the flames of. a pyre left Thebesand went into exile
purchased enough land to found understanding Aeneasand Dido (Seealso FOUNDERS) (Seealso LovERsoF zEUs)

37
CLASSICAL MYTHoLOGY

E {'ffi
"\\

i.i"e'i
T H E D t o s C U R I , t h em y s r e r L -THE DIOSCURI (aboLe), truns Castor I
ous twin sons of LHI)A,queen of ant) Pollw, retumed to ccrrtir to help thc \r, ,

Sparta,were known to the Greek Romon ranhs dgoiist tn I anns Ln tht

as Castor and Polydeuces,and ro JohldBatle ol h/re RegrilusAdom(durth

the Romans as Castor and Pollux gltuming urmLtur, and rnountetl on snow
:
They were brothers oI HrLrruand wirrtt sfeels, thty- [ed thL Rom.]ns l() vi.tory ltt'
'I,lt
CTYTIMNESTM Around all rhese ( l t r \ r R { I t r ) \L t i r \ r L \ \ s r j r \ \ r r \ r R a \ i l 1 8 , ! /l

rhilrlro- pY,-pnr al\/tp - . / . - ' m n e srfa . \r.


t h e r c h r r n p a d e f i n i r r -s e n s c o f Ihc Drorr un wcrc revcrcd by

diunc parentage,and it may well the Spartansand rhe Romansrn


be chat they were ancrentdeiries particular Roman .soldiers.swore
whose worship had dechned so rhrt thc nrrscn, r' of I ;strrr and

that their exploits could be told as Pollux on a battlefieldsecuredlor


the mythological actionsof mortal them r.rctonesagarnstall the odds
rulers Castor and Polydeuces("the
heavenly twins whom the corn- EUCfne was rhe daughter of
bearingearth holds") wereregard- A C A M F M N T TkNi n. g o f M y t c n a e .
ed as bcing both dead and alive ln and cttrnv,lESTM, and rhe sister
one story, Polydeuceswas the o l t n e m a ln c l o e ( r R L 1 \ L\ ner
r m m o r r a sl o n o f z t u s w h i l eC a s t o rname (whrchonce may havemeant
was rhe mortal son of Kng " f i r c ' o r " s n a r k ' ) r e { e r st n a m h e r
Tlrrdareos At Polydeuccs'request When Agamemnon rerumed from ELECTRA (ubove),heroicdaughttroJ EOS (bdow), Greth goddess
oJ thedawn,
the twins shared the dl,rniry the Trojan War and was murdered Agamemnonand Clyttmnestra,rneetsher n\f\ rLrrflea.h J,rr to announ\cthecomrng
b c t w e e nt h c n r ,l i v i n g h a l fr h c y c a r
by his wrfe and her loverAegisrhus, tibd brothtr Ortstt's outside ol tht sun Shewas the daughteroJ
beneath the earth with the dead, Electrarescuedher young brother Agamtmnon'stomb It was Electruwho Hypenonund Thcia ttnd sisterto the sun
and rhe other half on Mount Orestes and ensured thar he rescuedher brotherfrom theflii lntentrons god Helros In worhsoJart, shes oJten
Olirmpus wrth the gods They are cstapedAcgrsthuscvrlintcntions o/Aegrsthuslry helpinghim escupt Having deprctedhoveing tn the slry,her roEJbm
shown together rn the constellation Years later, Orcstes retumed to thoughtthat shewouk) neverseehtm ,tJomeJ m a goldtn m.tnllc Shcs
of Gemini Mycenaeas a grown man Electra ugain, sht r seenhtre rqoicing in his accompanedhert by her starry daughters
In their youth the Droscun("rhe m r t h i m a t t h c t r r m br r ft h c i r m u r - ri'[um l()Rr .r r \\r) LL | ( | R\ vlRil r ( 1D ]00 I ( J rr l \ T M r i r ) \ F R o M 5 r ( ) R l t s I R o M l l ( ) M t R , 1 8 8 5 )

sons of Zeus") were ARGONAT/TSdered father and gave hrm advrce


D u n n g r h e e x p e d r t i o nr o r e t n c v e and encouragementIn at leastone
the Golden Fleece, Polydeuces versionof thc myth Electrais por-
hlled with his bare handsAmycus, trayed as berng so consumed by
king of the savageBebryces,who hatred ior Clytemnestrathat she
were a people hung in AsraMinor participatesin the act of revenge
O n a n o t h c r o c c a s i o nt h e t w i n s herself.Lttcr she was overwhelmed
were ranged against the Athenian by remorse, while her distraught
n e r o r H L 5 t u 5 .w n o c a m c oo l l t n c brother fled before rhe FURIES, the
twelve-year-oldHelen pnor to her dertieswho wreakedvengeanceon
mamage to King MENEI,AUS They murderers
brought their sister safelyhome to
Sparta,and even set up a rival to ENOYUTON was rhe king o[ a
Theseuson the throne o[Athens small ciry-statein the Peloponnese,

38
ClessrcAr MvrHoLocY

ENDYMION(abne)waslmedby Selne EUROPA (nght) wasa Phoenician relationshipto Ares,for he was rhe
whovisitedhimin hisetenal sleepHere, pnncessbome away by Zeus, who assumed patron divrnity of the SacredBand
thelovers
partat dawnIn theslg,the theJom oJa great white bull He swam to of Thebes,which was a group of
goddessspinhlesdot beJore
thesun- the island.oJCretewith Europandingon one hundred and fifty pairs of
chaiot,whileoneanhNyxdraws a curtain his bach Sheoentually mamed Asteius, lovers who were all killed by the
oJdarhnessabouther (SLLENE
ANo ENoyMroN the rulerol Crete (luusrur()NFRoMDRsMtrH's Macedonianarmy at the battle of
ByNrcousPouJSrN,
a/NvAs,
c 1591-1665
) ClaslGl DlcroNARY, 1895) Chaeronia in 338 nc After the
battle l(ng Philip of Macedon
in all likelihood Elis According ro Theia Shewasseenasa charioteer locked him in a granted them a specialbunal
Greek mythology, he became the riding across the sl<yjusr before becamethe cicada(an insectnoted
lover of the moon goddessSelene sunrise,pulied by her horsesShiner for im complaining sound) EUnOPe, in Greek mythology,
(frequentlyidendlied wrth Diana), and Bright Her brother, the sun was the daughter ofTelephassaand
who bore him fifty daughters god riruos, had a four-horsechar- EruXYES SCEFURIE5 of King Agenor of Tyre, a city in
Becauseshe could not endure the iot to indicate his greaterstatus. Phoenicia. Agenor's five sons,
thought that Endymion would The Romanscalled her Aurora EROS, according to some Greek including CADMUS, were sent out
eventually die, Selene put her Eos had a repuation for passion rraditions, was rhe son of Erebos to look for their sister after ZEUS,
youthful lover into an everlasting, and fell in love with a largenumber and the Night, while in others he disguisedas a white bull, swam to
deep sleep However, in another of young men, including the was the son of ARES,god of war As the island of Cretewrth Europaon
version of the myth, it is said that particularly handsome Tithonus, the youngest of the gods and the his back There she bore the god
zEUs grarrredEnd)rynion his wish son of Laomedon, king of Troy companion of apHRoottr, he rhree sons. MINOS.RFTADAMANTHYS
that he might be allowed to sleep When Eos asked zrus ro make appearedto enjoy mahng asmuch and saRprporu,beforemanying rhe
loreverin a cavewrthout ageing Tithonus immorral, she forgot mischief as he could by firing his local ruler Astenus By way of com-
about etemal youth and ended arrows of passion into the hearts of pensatlon for Europa's vrrginity,
EOS *rs rhe Greek, wrnged god- with a lover made helpless mth gods and humans alike His con- Zeus gaveAstenus a mighry bronze
dess of the dawn and the third age Thereupon, accordingto dif- nection with homosexuallove may man, Taios, to defend his realm
child of the TITANSHyperion and ferent versions of the myth, she have derived from his supposed (Seealso LovERsoF zEUS)

39
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

ORACLES AND PnOPHECIES

Ar people beheved that the future couid be


revealed, they frequently consulted oraclesof
every kind for personal and politlcal purposes.
The most famous was the Delphic Oracle
where Apollo, rhc sccr-god,spoke through a
p n e s t e s s . T h e f u [ u r e w a s a l s o r e v e a l e db y
oracular signs, such as the fall of dice, lots, or
bumt offerings. Dreams afforded another type of
oracle, usually inspired by the gods, sometimes
to mrslead. Prophecieswere also sought from
s e e r s ,b o t h l i v i n g a n d d e a d . A l t h o u g h t h e
Romans consulted lorc (or sorres) for personal
problems, they rarely, if ever, prophesied for
politicai purposes.

D R [ . . 1 , \ ' 1 5 i h i ' k n r ] . l r r l J 5 ( , D r r l l r t \ r , r , , r 1t l r , / r r l r i l t u r r J x r r r o f t d r r i r s T r r r i l i ' r t h , g , l l t ,

r i ' r r , r l ]t r, r ( r r l r l i J l d r a l l n r r ' 1 l , , r t i(ll l, i r \ i r t \ \ I l r t ItrrLLl.ij5\i\it'.i llir,r,jr,rrr /'r

\ t l r , r t , t t r t l / t , / , r i r l t , . 1 l t , t r t r t , r 1 / . J t i i t/ tl lt t, ,t t ' t , , t t . , , r . , r i L , l P . r r . h l , . t r l i t , ' r i r , r t r i , l '

, i r r , /i r r t r / r , t L .tl h . t t i r l : , , r r , l r ' I r l , t r i r r i s t / r , , r r ! /lrr t n n a i l i i n g l n r r t r l , lr , , n , i i r ,I r r

/ ( l l r , r l l l { ) i r l r\ d / a l } i , , r r , r \ . r r , \ : , i . i I I , j . , ir i l s i ft:

C-I.S.S.,1NDR'1ulrrr ) /rrrrrstcluLLghter
oJl\tant urtJ lirr tilu wtr' a gr/teJ
h r r tl n i L r L\ r L r , t r h r )h r / i . i r r ( ) r n t o
d b et g r o r - c d- S h n
c u s t ' r r J o n t rni r r h
pnph,rl h'.1poi1,rItr f\rhdn.Kfdr thepronttseo/ ho Llr \\''hrnshtrbroke
hdr rrrrrl, ht lrrinrsht
J ho hy lccrrcingthat hat prophilk \, h{rw(\r'r trar,
worll uln'uys,h rqnrrrrJ Ihs powefulpornayulry'(r:rar,/ru rtrrals lhc
:ohtai1,ull :r'rrirr irtrL/,y' thc sorrowfulsecr,rvhoucruralc/yprrrlitlcd the

/ai I o/ Itrl' i( \!\\\r,il\ n \Ju K r i r ( , r ! , r J 4 R B r r ,l 3 8 a ) g j l


CIeSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

',1
i,'. ,i;t r 1 r r , r L , , , , i rt 'n! i, i t , ! r \ l L r r , i
, ,,t+nl.l
{\'dl

5l(i\5 tx ()Ifl:N\ r,,i,,rr i , r , r ' , i , 1l i i , i r , l i t ' t'r / I,rr r i! Lji rrL/!\ \ L j r ) i ri i r l \

i,,i' ,',jr,, r l r i L t l t r L , r l r \ L , r ) i r i r , t , \ t , r r l r i , , l / r r l , t ! l \1 1 , r , 1 r 1 7 r , l L , i . i i t i r .iil,rr ir

\ L , r r r L\ L i Lr , L 1i , r ( , r r i r i \ i j l L ' , , i r i l , l , , 1, ; r 6 i l r r l , , , ' , i 1 1 r i j r , . j , i ' 1 1, , 1, 1 ' r 1 i , i ') l, I


ClassrcAr- MyrHoLoGy

THE FAIES, or the Mdfie, rr,tr tilJolsd


dtblfth aod6ide d nrani dattrny O/ten
dqictod as spinnm, Clotho, at the dght,
with a spindlespinsout the thftdd o/lf,
u,frile lzchais, at the $, nasum the
lengh of a lp, and Atropos, with the
shean, cub it of G cornrN THRFDrvJ M
SnuDMcKorloNc{N s,c 1890)

Gnn, in Greek myrhology, was


the earth,who came out of Chaos
and gavebirth to Ouranos the sky
god, who was her son and hus-
band. So passionate was their
reladonship and so overwhelming
Ouranos' embrace that their off-
Tnr FefES, from rhe Roman, spring could not emerge lrom her
Fatae,were three goddesseslmown womb. One of these buried chil-
to the Greeks as the Moerae Their dren, CRONOS, the youngestson,
origins are uncertain, although decided to overthrow Ouranos.
some called them daughrers of Gaia conceived a great sickle which
night. It is clear, however,rhar at a Cronos used to cut off his father's
certain period they ceased to be penis within the eanh womb The
concemed with death and became god was emasculatedand the sky
instead those powers which decid- separated from the earth From
ed whar must happen ro individu- Ouranos' blood, Gaia conceived
als. The Greeks knew them as the FURIES,the avenging goddesses
Clotho ("the spinner"), Lachesis who pursued murderers.
("the apportioner") and Atropos Ouranos then faded from the
("the ineviuble") A late idea was mythological scene and Cronos
that the Fatesspun a lengrh ofyam FAUNUS, a spiil oJthe plainsandJields, A FURY,goddess oJpunishmnt,wbldsa ruled the universe, uhng his sister
which represenred rhe allorred Jrolics alongwith aJriendly goat Faunus' torch,scourge - thetookoJho
dnd.spears RHEAas a wife. The Greeks regard-
span for each mortal children,hnown as Fauni, hall-mn, halJ- vengeo,nceTheFuiespursuedwrthout ed this as the golden age of the
Alrhough zEUs was the chief goats,weredelightlulbut capicious merqin l{e andin deathall wrong-dom TITANS.Cronos, however, tumed
Greek god, he was still subjecr to crmtures,who sometimesplaguedmen's Sometimes thq werewinged, Embolizng out to be as tyrannical to his own
the decisions of the Fares, and sleepwith nightmares (tLLr/srMr()N
FRoM
DR the*t{tnessoJtheirvengeance (tlruirunoN family as Ouranos had been before
thus the executor of destinyrather SMilH
s CrAssrql
DrcroNARy,
1895) FRoMDRSMrrH's
C6slGLDrcrroNARy, 1895) him. He had been wamed by an
than its source Hence the great oracle that he would be displaced
importance to both gods and being seen as a descendant of the were ponrayed as uglywomen$lth by one of his sons, so he swallowed
humans of oracles which indicared war god MAR5 His mortal son, snakes enrwined in their hair, and his children as soon as they were
the ineutable drift of events ln Latinus, was the king of the Latin were pitiless to those mormls who bom Rhea, on Gaia's advice, gave
mythology, however, the Fates people ar rhe time of erNnqs' had wrongly shed blood They him a stone wrapped in swaddling
played little direct parr (Seealso arrival in Italy after the long voyage relenrlesslypursued oREsrEs,who insteadof the infant ZEUS,who was
OMCLESANDPROPHECIES) from Troy. avengedhis father AGAMEMNON's secretly taken to Crete in order to
murder by killing CLYTEMNESTM, grow up there in safery When Zeus
FnUnUS was rhe Roman god of FLORA SCCFORCESOF NATURE his mother The Furies were only was grown, he compelled his father
the countryside and identified with persuaded to abandon their perse- to disgorge his brothers and sisters,
the Greek PAN.god of the moun- Tnn FUruES, from rhe Roman cution of Orestes after his acquitul including his future wife HEM, the
uinside Faunus was said to be rhe name, Furiae, were the avenging by the Areopagus, an ancient seagod PosEtDoN,the god of rhe
grandson ofsarunN and was cred- goddeqsesof Greek mythology and Athenian council presided over by underworld FIADESand DEMETER.
ited with prophetic powers,which were known as the Ennyes ("the the goddess ATHENA.The verdict the goddessof vegendon.
on occasion inspired the Romans angry ones") Theywere bom from calmed the anger of the Furies, Gaia may have savedZeus hom
to renew effons on the battlelield in the blood of Ouranos that fell into whose name was then changed to a fate similar to that of Ouranos
the face o[ defeat Perhapsrhis is rhe womb of cete,when CRoNos, the less-threatening Eumenides, and Cronos when she wamed him
the reason for Faunus sometimes his son, castratedhim. The Furies ("the soothed ones") that a child of his bom by Metis

42
CIaSSICAT MYTHOL-OCY

"';{.l
1l'
I

t
GAIA i h r 5 r - c r rr i l l l r l r , f / l a i l . ' l i 5 h r ' \

t J r r , , L r tt//rr ci i l t t f L r l , r r r t hr t r t h h c r g r f t i , r /

I n t l . i o u n t l a b u n d . l r r (r N t ) t o n ! x t t s s h t
, 1 ' , , , ' , r 1 6 s y1 , fa l l u n J l h r r o u n s / t c r o /

, l r r L i r , ' r r b r r t s / t r 't r u ' r i r r , d g ( r l d f s \ i ,

J r r t h x h o , / t h cr h r t r l t h r d l l sh a r . r . ( / l t i i i \

bu,ltl0 h0 i l r r l \ i r \ i i L , \r i r\ r , r 6 [ \ l i j ' ) ' r ar

( " r h o u g h t " ) w o u l d r ep l a c e h i m i r s
rht' sr-rpremc gocl So Zeus st:tL-
Lru.'ccl \'1etis iln(l latcr tl-ie godclcs:
A /l l/ NA sprang frorn hrs heacl
'l'hc
srorv r)l fhe separatl()lt
l r r ' l \ \ tL ' l tt l < r , r n r l( . l r l l l l i J l l 1 l l ,l ( l l l

onc lt rs ior:nd rn e valieq'ol ftrrnls


Ln \\'cst Asian rnythologl' I hc
I lumans, who lncd ()n the borclcrs
ol nrodem-furkcy nncl lraq, hlcl in
rherr rnt,rhs thc ntost I Lolcnt
\ crsron of the sk1's ctnascltlaIltltt
Kurnarbr, the equivalent of Cronos,
brt off and swallowccl hrs fathtr's
pe ttis As a rcsult of hts unr.rsr-ral
a t t r o n . h o * ' e v e r , K r - r m a r b ib c c l r m c
prcgnant wirh tcmble deitres. olre
ol whom at Lastove rthrerv hln'r

GnNYIr,teoe n r L J r c ek m l l h
1 , l 1 r g 1r r , a <t h c ' , ' r r
f ro-. thl krnA
"l
of Phrygia, and brother of llus He
was such a beautr{ul young man
t h a r Z F i . r . sa b d u c t e d h i m a n d t c - r o k
hrm to Mounr Olympus ILrbc hls
cupbearer lt was believed thar
Ganymede also bccame Zcus'
lover, and gained hls immonality zt-s
thc consrellation Aquanus. thc
water-camer

GANYMEDE, a handsomeboy,excitttl
rhc passionof Zrus whtr,n the grustol ttn
uglt, borehim uwnyto Mount OrymPui
(IHr R A f t o F G A N Y M Tr ) r B l P F r F R P A r l R l 8 t N \

(ANVA5 1577 )640)


CLASSIcAL MYTHoLoGY

HADES (abwe) , lord oJ theundewvorld, HECTOR Aelow), the Trojan champion,


with his wiJe,Persephone,receivesthe souk snatchesa fioment oJpeocewith his loving
oJthe dead, who are gadedby Hermes wtJeand. small son He wasportrayed as
Hades appedrs with typically darh lools both a raglng warior and a gentlefamily
and unntly hair wer which he often worea man who had taughthimself to be valiant
m a g l ch e l m e tr l r l u s r M r / rop^o M
D Fs M l l H ' out oJdury rather than any natural
CHSIGL DICTIoNARY. I895 ) COUrAge(LLUsrMrraN
ByAUNLEE,
1994)

THE GIANTS (above)weregigantic


creatures with snahe-Iihetails After thq
were defeatedby the gods,thq werebuied
beneathvolcanoesHerewe seethe hound
oJ Artemts hilling a glant at the battle of the
Giants and thegods (zEL,s
ALIAR
oFIERGAMIN,
^TARBLE.
c 1808C)

THe GnNrS, from rhe Roman


name, Giganres, in Greek myrh-
ology, had human shape, excepr
for the snake-like tails thar were
attached to their legs They were
bom at the same time as rhe
FURIES,from rhe blood thar [e]l THE GORGON MEDUSA (abwe) was
into GAIA'Swomb ftom Ouranos' onte a beauttful woman whoseloclu were
severed penis. When the Gianrs tumed to withing snahesby a vengeJul
attacked Olympus, rhe gods stood goddessThe imageoJhu fnghtfulJace was
their ground, but knew rhar they cawed,lihe an etl qe, on wamors' shtelds,
would not be able to defeatrhem, city walls, charmsand amulets (tuusrMroN
because the Gians could nor be FRoil DR SM|TH s CNSIGL DtcTtoNARy. 1895 )
killed by divine hands zEUs rhere-
fore fathered rhe great hero HEM- Tnr GonGoNs werechree
CLES through a morral woman sistersnamed Srheno("strengrh"),
Dunng the geat batrle berween rhe Medusa ("queen") and Euryale
gods and rhe Giants, Heracles ("wide-leaping"), and were rhe
played a decisive pan, finishing off children of Phorcys, son o[ GAIA. THg GneCES. from rhe Roman Euphrosyne and Thalia. They
each opponent wirh poisoned The only mortal of rhe three was name, Gradae,were the daughters were attendants to APHRoDITE and
arrows. It is important to realize Medusa, the victim of rhe Greek of zEUs and Eurynome, and were YENUS, the love goddesses of
that the Giants are quire differenr hero PERSEUS Like her immorul minor goddesses to both the Greece and Rome respectir/ely.A
from the TITANS,who were rhe old- sisrers,she had snakesfor hair and Greela and rhe Romans According favourite subject for artiss, the
est generadonof rhe gods and were one look at her lace could tum any to the most widely accepted Graces were thought to represent
led by CROwOS, Zeus' farher. living man or rhing ro srone myth, their names were Aglaia, beauty, gentlenessand friendship.

+4
CInSSIcAL MYTHoLoGY

Although usually a faithful hus-


band, Hades at one time became
enamouredof the nymph Minthe.
When Persephonediscovered this,
however, she became so jealous
that she tumed the nymph into the
sweet-smellingherb, mint

H,ANPTNS SEE MONSTER5AND


FABULOUS
BF/5TS

HfCefe was believed by some


to be descendedfrom the tltexs.
A Greek goddess with two quite
separateaspects,in the day she was
supposed to have a benign influ-
ence on farming, but during the
hours of darknessshe was interest-
ed in witchcrafr, ghosrsand tombs
ln many ways similar to the veg-
eution goddessDEMETER, Hecate
uncomfortably combined ferriliry
with death as a power of the eanh.
The wrrch MEDEA,JAsoN'srejected
Colchian princess, used to invoke
Hecate in her magic arts. Hecareis
usually portrayed with three faces.
The Athenians were parricularly
respectful towards her, and once a
month they placed offerinp of food
at crossroads,where her influence
was said to be feh.

HnCfOR was rhe eldesr son of


THE 6RACES, or Chaities, graced the Polydegmon ("receiver of many eyes when making a sacrifice. In pRmv, rhe king of Troy during rhe
wodd with beauty, bloom and billiance, guests") on accounr of rhe muld- order to avoid any reference to the Greek siege. The bravest of rhe
IiJting the spints oJ godsand men. In the tudes who had died and come ro nature of the underworld it was Trojan wamors, he was unbearen
earliest worlu of art, the Gracesappear in his kingdom. The ghosts of rhe usual to call Hades by the drle of on the battlefield. He mistakenly
lwing chitons, veiling their beauty, but dead were escortedby HERirarS,the Pluto ("the giver of weahh") killed Patroclus, the squire and
bter on thq woe dqicteil a:snudes $xr messengergod, to the boarman Hades'chief myth concems the lover ofAcHlttES, rhe Greek hero.
THEEGucEsBYRAPMET-W@D, c I50l) Charon who ferried acrossrhe Sryx, abducdon ofPersephone, who was Achilles had quarrelled with
a subtenanean river, only those the daughter of Demeter and his AGAMEMNoNand refused ro fighr,
HeoeS (whose name means "the ghosts who could pay the fare brorher Zeus. Persephone was but Parroclusborrowed his divine
unseen") was rhe Greek god of rhe CERBERUS, the rhree-headeddog, abruptly taken underground by armour in order to nlly the Greek,
underworld, the realm of the dead. guarded the ennance to the under- Hades when she beheld a special only to be slain by Hector. Roused
He was the son of cnoruosand world and prevented anyone from narcissus planted by the earrh from his lethargy, Achilles sought
RHEA,and rhe brorher of.zrus, reuming to the world of rhe living. mother GAIAro please the god of out Hector and compelled him to
POSEIDON,HERA, DEMETERand tu in Egrydan mythology, the death. The conflicr berween Hades fight to the death. Such was
Hestia. He forcibly married Greek associated the undenvorld and Demeter over Persephone's Achilles' anger rhat for rwelve days
PERSEPHONE, Demeter's daughter. wirh the west, the place where the fatewas decided by Zeus,who gave he dragged Hector's corpse round
At the division of the universe after sun sets. Neither the Greeks nor the husband and the mother equal Parroclus' tomb. In rhe end zEUs
the ovenhrow of their father, Zeus the Romans, however, ever thoughr shareso[ her time As a dyrng-and- himself intervened, by sending
took the sky, Poseidon the sea,and of Hades as an evil force like Satan rising goddess, Persephone sank Achilles' mother THETISto stop this
Hades the underworld; the earth in Chrisdaniry. He was cenainly a and rose annually from the under- humiliadon. So in exchange for a
was to be shared among them. grim and implacable deiry, and world, in tune with rhe narural great treasure,Hector's body was
Another name for Hades was worshippers always averted rheir rycle of sowing and hawesting. retumed and properly buried.

45
CrnssrcAL MYTHoLoGY

Horse. Throughout this long war many other children, among them
the sympathies of Helen were Augeas, CIRCEand PASIPHAEA
mainlywith the Greeks, although gigantic statue of the sun god was
she was reated as the proper wife, erectedat the harbour of Rhodes,
and not merely the mistress, of an island sacred ro him. This so-
Pans. After the fall of Troy, Helen called Colossus was one of the
and Menelauswere reconciled and seven wonders of the ancient
they lived undisturbed at Spana. world, but was toppled by an earth-
quake around 226 Bc.
HEUOS was rhe Greek sun god
and son of the ntqN Hyperion. To HfPHetSfOS was the son of
the Romans he was known as Sol. zEUs and HERlt,andwas the Greek
It was rhought that Helios, after smith god. His Roman equivalent
crossing the slcy,sailed during the was vULcAN, whose smithy lay
night around the earth in a golden beneath the crater of Mount Aetna
bowl on the encircling waters of in Sicily. Hephaistoswas lame as a
oc&{Nos, and so arrived back in result of having interfered in a
the eastjust before dawn. Both rhe quanel between his parents. So
Greeks and the Romans held that angry did Zeus become that he
the inhabited world was a large flung his son from the top of
Mount olympus and let him fall
heavily on the volcanic island of
Lrmnos, in the nonhem part of the
Aegean Sea. ln another version,
Hera ried to drown her imperfect
child, only to be thwaned by sea
nymphs who took him to a beach.
A sequel to this rale has the smith
god gain his revenge as a fully
grown man by making a golden
rhrone for his mother which was
actually a trap. None of the gods
could releaseHera, so Hephaistos
HnffN wasthe daughterof ttrDt HEI-EN (abovd pcces thewqlLsoJTroy HEUOS, god oJ the svn, appearsin worhs was invited to retum permanendy
and zrus, the wrfeof rhe Spartan The nostbeeuttJulwoman of the arcimt oJart as a strongardbeautfulyouth wrth to Mount Olympus. There, under
hng urrurf,{us,and the causeo[ woid,, shewas ako, accordingto Homei, a gluming cyes,and,a crwn oJ laming rays the influence of dnnk, he was per-
the Tro;anWar Her immortaliryas thoughtful heroine, gpen to seft mochery suaded by his friend DIoNYsus to
Just 4s th€ sun's rcys ynetrate everylhere,
thedaughterofthesupremeGreek anl6ygT 4wre oJ themiserycausedbyha so Helios saw everything atdwu iwohd unlock the cunning device and let
deitysuggesFthatHelenwasonce bgaul (Hrreuor rHEW[s oFTRoY
BYLop 4s 4 witness oJo4tlu {t*rsrut oNFrcMDR his mother escape
a goddessand that her incorpor- lEcHril. cav J, c 1880..) SMIrH'sCrAsl(}LDrcloNeY,1895) Hephaistos seems to have come
ation into myth as an unfaithful onginally from Asia Minor, where
queen only occurred when her desirable bnde in Greece. At first island sunounded by an ocean iron rnines date from a very early
q796|ripwaslargelyforg,otten. Menelaus and Helen were very Although Oceanos was sometimes period His cultwas strong in Cana
Zeusmatedwrth Leda,wife of happy, but then PARts,one of the descnbed as a nver, it stretched and Lycia, along its south-westem
theSpartanhng Tyndareos, in the many sons of King rrueu ofTroy, into the unimaginable distance and shore. His rnarriage to the love god-
guiseof a swan.Ledalaid an egg, visited Spana and, with the help of far lrom anyshore dess APHRODIIEmay have some-
and when Helenhatchedfrom it the love goddessAPHf,oDlrr, gaixed One myth of Helios concems thing to do wrth this eastem con-
shebroughtherup asa memberof Helen's a[ec[on. They even eloped rhe death o[ his son PMETHoN nection, as she also came to Greece
the royalfamily.Helen'sbrothers with a part o[ Menelaus' treasury. Once thu impetuousyouth med to from West Asia. Their reladonship
were Castotand Polydeuces, the When the Trolars refrrsed to retum steer his father's radiant chariot, was almost as tumultuous as that
m)|stenous DIOSCURI,arrdhersister Helen and lhe stolen lreasure, but he quickly lost conuol. Only of Zeus and Hera. Once Hephastos
wasKingAcAMaalvoN'sunfaithfuI Agamemnon assembled a great rhe dmely acrion of zEus steadied fashioned a trap to catch his
wlfe CLYTEMNESTM. army to help his brother Menelaus its runaway horses and prevented unfaithful wife in bed with the war
At the time of her mamage to For ten years the city o[ Troy was the earth from catching fire. god nnrs. The Olympian gods
Menelaus, the younger brother o[ besieged and then only captured Phaethon fell from the vehicle and merely laughed at Hephaistos'sit-
Agamemnon, Helen was the most through the tnck of the Wooden was drowned. However, Helios had uation; the seagod PoSEIDoNonly

46
CLASSICAL MYTHoLoGY

HEPIIAISTOS,godoJJ'tre,Jashions HnRn means "lady" and was in his cradle However, later in
gcWen
exquistte worles
in hlsJieryJorgeundoubtedly the title of a powerful his life, Hera succeededin dnvinq
Lame,heleansononeleg Byhim stands mother goddess whom the Greek Heracles temporanly mad
whorewakthathiswtJe,
ApoIIo, Aphrodite,
inhented from the earlier inhabi- There are a number of myths
Ioves
Ares,andHephaistos resoltesto trap
tants of Argos, which was a major about Zeus' courtship of Hera ln
theguiltypalr (THE
FoRCE oFvuLGN ByDrEGo
city in the Peloponnese It was one of them he disguisedhimseif as
VEAseuEz,aNvs,16J0) claimed rhat she was the daughter a cuckoo and took shelter inside
ofcRolos and RHEA;however, her her clothes during a hear,ydown-
promised some remedy if he agreed addition to the Greek pantheon pour Once out of the rain, Zeus
to releaseAphrodrte and Ares was not an easy or straightforward resumed his normal shape and
A myth about ATHENA'sbinh matter, as the ceaselessconflicts promised to marD/ Hera Later she
recounts how Hephaistos split benveenher and her husband zrus bore him the war god eRrs, rhe
open Zeus' head wrth an axe in readily bear wrtness Often her fis goddess of birth Eileithyra, and
order to release the fuily grown of jealousy and quarrelsomeness Hebe, the cupbearer of the gods
goddess Apparently, Zeus had led to disaster for gods, heroesand Another child was the smith god
swallowedAthena's mother, Metis, men, when she relentlesslyper- HtPflAlSlu5,wno ls salo rn some
once he realized she was pregnant secutedZeus' mistressesand their HEM, queenoJheaven,di'rectsHelios mlths to have been the son of Zeus
wlth a powerful deiry Later, children For example, againsrthe acrossthe slry She is crownedwitha and Hera, but in others the off-
Hepharstosfell in love wrth Athena, baby HEMCLES,whom Zeus had dadem and vetl,symbolilngher statusas spring of Hera aione Herawas wor-
but was rejected by her and his fathered in order to help rn the Zeus' bicle Her sceptreB trpryd with d shipped wrth particular reverence
semen fell to earth where it gave coming battle against the GIANTS, cuchoo,sacred to her as the messengeroJ in Crete and at Samos, where a
birth ro the serpent Erichthonius she senr two serpenrs ro kill him, sping, the seasonin which shemaried great temple was said to have been
(Seealso FORCES OFNATURE) but the infant hero strangledthem Zgus (lrri'srurnrlrR()I1
SroRlrs
r R()vLrw,1885
) built for her by the ARGONAUTS

47
ClnssrcAL MYTHoLocY

him to caprure the Erymanthian


boar, which plagued the country-
side of Arcadia. He rrapped it with
a neq and during the hunt Heracles
encounrered a band of crxteuns.
beast-like men who lived in wood-
lands. One of them, Nessus,was
Iater to cause the hero's death.
The fifth labourwas the cleans-
ing ofAugeas'stables. The son of
the sun god, Augeashad vast herds
of animals, which he pastured in
the hngdom of EIis in the westem
Peloponnese. I(ng Eurystheus told
Heracles to remove the immense
piles of dung from the stables, a
feat he achieved by divening rhe
course of a nearby river. The lasr
Iabour that the hero performed in
HEMCLES wra tleswith Anaats,a glant the Peloponnese was the removal
whodrawshisstrmglhJromtheeanh To of the Stymphalian birds. Although
wmhenthegiant'smight,HoaclcsliJshim they had steel-dpped feathen with
highaba,etheurth, and ctusheshimin which they killed borh men and
mid-air Thisbronzec:'prnsestheclassical animals, these birds were fright-
idealoJhcrot shillandmight.crErcumND ened away by the noise of a rattle,
ANTEUS ByPrHAmco, BRoNzE,,,601528
) which the goddess ATHENAhad
specially made for Heracles.
Heracles had to fight it with his On the island of Crete the hero
bare hands and a wooden club. tracked down the bull that utlos
After overcoming the lion, he cured had failed to sacrifice to the seagod
the skin and wore it as a trophy. PosEIDoN. The bull had mated
His next opponent, the Hydra, was with Minos'wife, PASIPFIAE, who
a nine-headed serpent sacred to then gave birth to the MNOTAUR,
Hera. It Iived in a swamp at [€ma, the bull-headed man slain by the
HgnnCt rS, the son otzeus and HERACI.ES slays the llydra,whlle a crab, not far from Argos. The problem Athenian hero THESEUSHeracles
ALCMENE,was the geatest of all the sent by the vengeful goddessHtra, nips at that the hero encountered when captured Poseidon'sbull alive and
Greek heroes. To the Romans he his heek AJter buning away the lTydra's fighting with the Hydra was that for brought it back to Tryns, where he
was known as Hercules, and they eight morul huds, Heraclesburied iu every head he cur off with his let it go free at the end of this
added various encounters in ltaly ninth immoftal head undr a huge roch in sword two new ones grew in its seventh labour. The eighth labour
to his already large cycle of adven- the swamp. (HERCULE
ND frE Hmn^ A F place. But with assistancefrom his was more gruesome. It took
tures. The name Heracles means vAs,c 1920)
GoRauET,c nephew lolaus he was able to Heracles to Thrace in pursuit of the
"Hera's glory" - a circumstance triumph, for Iolaus bumed the man-eating mares of Diomedes,
that firmly ties the hero to Argos, strongholds close to Argos, but srumps of the necks as soon as which he subdued after feeding
the site of the goddess HEM's Hera frustrated this plan so well Heraclesseveredeach head. When them on their master's flesh
temple lt remains a mystery that that the hero became the slave of he retumed ro Eurystheus,the king The last four labours were quite
Heracles should have been perse- Eurystheus, king of Tiryns. She refused to count the exploit as a different in nature. First of all
cuted so much by Hera, even going struck Heracleswith a fir of mad- labour, because Heracles had Eurystheus had,Heraclesfetch the
mad at one point during his life. ness, in the course of which he received help from his nephew. girdle of Hippolyta, queen of the
BecauseZeus needed a mortal hlled his wife and their three sons The next labour was not quire frerce AM,4ZONSThen he captured
champion in the forthcoming with arrows. To atone for this so bloody. Heracleshad to capture the catde of Geryon, a westem king
battle berween the gods and the terrible deed he had to become the Ceryneian hind, which was a who had three heads,three bodies
GIANTS,he fathered Heracles at Eufrstheus' dependent and under- beasrsacredro ARTEMIS, goddessof and six hands. After this labour
the court of Thebes. The chosen took his famous rwelve labours. rhe wild. According to different Heracles brought back the golden
mother was Alcmene, the Theban These labours began with the accounts, he retumed to Tir)ryrs apples of the HESPERIDES, female
queen. Zeus intended Heraclesto killing of the Nemean lion, which with either its golden antlers or the guardians of the fruit that the eanh
be ruler of Mycenae or Tiryns, could not be harmed by arrows. hind iself. Another labour reouired goddess GAIAgaveto Hera on her

48
CrnssrcAr MyrHoLoGY

when he bathed in some waiers with the Roman equivalent of


and she mergedwith him physr- H e r m e s , M E R C U R Y O d i n w a s t h e
caLly The result was a femaleboy, c h a m p r o n o [ w a r r i o r s a n d t h e
hencethe term hermaphrodite But father of the slarn
Hermaphroditoswas not emascu- Hermes is usually depicted as a
lated like Attis, the lover of rhe y o u n g m a n w i t h a w i d e - b n m m e d
PhrygianmorhergoddcssCybele, hat and wrnged sandals, carrynng a
lor this West Asiangod intention- h e r a l d ' s s t a f f c r o w n e d w r t h t w o
ally cut off his own manhood snakes In ancient Greece this staff
assured the messenger safe passage
HEnUgS was rhe Greek messen- even dunng time of war Hermes'
ger god, and the son o[zrus and greatest passion was for the love
Maia He enloyed playrng tncks goddess APtIRoDITE
and games Dunng the TrojanWar, The nvo sons that are attnbuted
rt was Hermeswho wzs alrvayssent to them were borh renowned for
to stealsomethingthat was other- their unusual sexualiry HER,vtApH,
wrseunobtarnable Beforethe sea R O P I T O Sw a s t h e f i r s r f e m a l e b o y .
n y m p h t r u rt t 5 p c r s u e d c dh c r s o n whiLe the gnome-like Pnapus was
A ( H i L L t St o s t o p m u r i l a r i n gt h c [amous for his cnormous penis
corpseof HECTOR, the gods con- Like that o[ Hermaphroditus, the
sideredrhat the simplesrsolutron cult of Priapus originated rn Asia
m i g h t b e r o l e t H c r m e s s t e a lt h e Minor, though some drstance [ar-
broken body Hermes was the god ther north at Lampascus, near the
wlo most easilycrossed the line Black Sea
betweenthe lir'rngand rhe dead,
for the Greeks believed that he HER.lvtESleadsEurydice(centre)and
guided the dead to the realm of Orphns (nght) throughthe undemorld As
H,coEs,rhe underworld This dury psychopomp,HermesconductedsoulsJrom
HERMAPHRODIT O S, the beauuJul son consulted the Delphic Oracle, helps to explain the later idenrifi- l{e on earth to d,eathin Hddes (ruusrurrcr
oJAphroditeand Hermes,inspirerlthe love whrch told him to build a funeral cation of the Germanicgod Odin FRoM D crroNARy ot,CrAssrcAl ANleutTil,s l89l )

ol the watr nymph SalmacisHut, the ppe rn Thessaly When the dyrng
goldn boy bathesm a showeroJ sunlryht, hero climbed on to it, there was
unawart oJ hrsbeautful admirer on tht a great flash of lighrning and
iver banb ( s A LM A ( r s A N D H E M p H R O T T T ( ) s dr Zeus took his son to loin rhe
BARrHoloufl ( SPMN(,tR,, 4Ntes,, /58. immortals
Someof the labourso[ Heracles
wedding to Zeus The last exploit of arereflectedin rhe namesof certain
Heracleswas the mosr testing.lor constellations,such as Leo,which
it meanr a descent into the under- representsthe Nemean Lion, and
world, the realm of the dead From Cancer,the crab that was allegedly
there the hero managed,wrth some sent by Hera to help the Hydra
help from PERSEPHONE, queen of (SeealsoHEROES)
the underworld, ro bnng bnefly
back to Tinns rhe three-headed HEnMAPHRODITOS was rhe
hound crn-arnus As a result of this bisexualoffspnng of the messenger
labour, hard-working Heracles god urRvrs and APnRootrr, rhe
attainedimmortality for himself goddessoilove According to one
No other hero gained this honour Greek myth, rhis handsome boy
Heracles'death on earth, an excited the passion of Salmacis,
event that the Greeksexpected to who was a nymph of a founrain
precede his translarion to Mount nearto the ciry of Halicamassus in
Olympus as a god, was the work o[ Asia Minor When the young
the Cenuur Nessus,who gavethe Hermaphrodirosignored her arten-
hero's second wife a poisoned tions, Salmacisprayed to the gods
galrnent for him to wear Realzing that she might be etemally united
that his death was near, Heracles wrth him The wish was granted

49
CT-eSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

VOYAGERS
HE LUREoF THEuNKNowN prompts all restiessheroes to stnke out on a new
path in search of a fabulous treasureor shining dream,
or for the sheer joy of discovery and adventure.
Three intrepid explorersstand out in
Classicalmphology: Jason, Aeneasand Odysseus.
Jason set sail with his fearlesscrew of Argonauts
in search of the Golden Fleece;while Aeneas'
seven-year voyage after the fall of Tioy led him
to the site of future Rome. Most famous and
appealing, perhaps, was th'e fabled Odyssey of
the shipwrecked wanderer, Odysseus. Tossed
from shore to shore by the angry sea god,
Poseidon, he found his way home after ten years'
wandertng through fabulous lands. The lure of the
AENF,AS'Qbove)s*en yearvoyagtalter tfu lull ofTroYwas
underworld, or a f.orayinto a monster's den, attracts lestibed rn Virgrl'seprrtale,thc AenertJ,rn port a Roman
OdysseyAlttr fleeingwth hs father dnLlsonlrttnt buming Tnty'
many heroes,too, such as Theseuswho went into the At ncasanl his contraclcs awuyIrywayLtJThrar and
sarled

Labyrinth to slay the Minotaur, and found his way I)elos to (.rttt and onwurdsto .Sirily ancJCunhttgt, be.lore
Ltlrum n ltalywherehe bttamc theuntestrulherool
reachLng
out again. Aeneas and Odysseusboth joumeyed to theRomanr Hert, Atnt'us,amvtngon Deios,is hlndlywelcomrd
/ r yK i n g A n i a s( A r N r irAN\l ) tL ( ) sM, r j o r r ^ l r \ r1r ,4 9)7
the underworld in searchof prophetic counsel.
ORPHET/SQtlt) wtnt down tnlo I lddes,tht'
untltrvorltl,Lobnngbachhrswilc, F.urydue
(--hairrrrng
thr shadcsttnLlewn Ptrstphoncwrlh his
bath ttt the
rnusrr.hr' uas allowccito taht F,urydice
uppr:rworld as long as he did not knh bach untrl dear
of Haclts /ust as thty wtre about b stepoul mto tht
h g h t ,t ) r 1 / r e utsu n t c Jr o u n do n i yt o s c eE u r y c lrr ts l l p
bachml<ttht worlclol shades lortttr Here, Owheus
bils /arcwcii to Euryclrce,whib Htmes (IeJt),waits to
lcacJ[urrJiic buh LhroughLhcworld oJ shudts
(lilR\1t\ l:r [\T)t(r lNri()Rfr]rL5,lt1Rrrl, ( 4208( )

ARION 0rght),a l.yntalpoetund ctharaplqer.


sailcJ trr .Sirily b tuhcpdrt in tt magltul conteslwhrch
he won On hrsway homcrn a Lonnthian ship,he
wusrohbcdI thc sarlors,andlorril toleap owrboard
whert' hc was bome uway to safcryIry song-loving
tlolphtns Here, Anon playshis rlhara on tht prow oJ
leuping
thr shrp,rnvohingtht godso.lthe uo, beJore
ovtrbourd llrr'jrMrr)r rR()MTA\(lrlw(x)DT^ll\ ( 1920)

50
CLASSICAL MYTHoLoGY

ODYSSEUS (above), ctltbruted trcl'cllcr, rvas JA5oNfclru')satlcdacrossthf5('ds()napcrrltlas\1}}'c/g('lt/tts/cttntlls:/rrp,thrAr.qrl'c]((ll]l)(li]lL'J


rcnowntd lor hLswil.s dncl silvdr l(rnguc, /or hrs a g t I h t l u t ' n t r n s c a r r hr y t h r ( i o l l t n
unntng, tralt ancl rrrrosify On hrs wuy horne /rrrnr t h eJ n r g o n ' s r 1 e , / u s o n a n J h i s A r . q o n u u t s s a r l c J a r r , 4 . . / r n u l l y u r r Ir lrrrrn' ,g/ au tsl r, r n
[ ussl t u l s p d1s! lr l ] h r s r r r ! , / r ] , r u r r r r r g
I roy, ht btttthtd ut -Srtrly, hornr ry' thc luwlcss rar c r ,rl ti(drn , L \l rt r r , r r r t : r r ' r , ir f i r r \ , ! , i \ \ r \ (
u / u r t r r ge i c t n r ' c d l r t s t d t u a ( ) / A r c s r n l h c s u c r c c i p r t rLt J' or /' ,t ,hrcr g J(,;rr
ol one-qed gants, the Cyt lopcs l3olclrrncl

i n q u i s i r r v r , O d y s s c u sw a n d c r c r Jr n l o a ( - y r l o p s J c n

w h e r t h e a n t l h r s r o m r a d c s h c r a n r t l r u p p c r /h t i r c

hostilc granl To csrrrpc. thn, hltrufuclthc trant arrcl

s L p p e c io u t , / r c l c l c nr n J c r s h c c p r ' b c / l i r s I l t r c

Oc,lysscusand hts r onrarlt s prcrt L thc vrclrl i :rnllt

4 c w i l h c r s h a r y c n c c s/ t a h r ' l r r l l r \ i i \ ( L l

f r i t \ t ' H t \ 1\ l1t ] , 4 j t \ . 1 \ t ) R\l1, i , ) Nt lt l . ( Ji,irr

#
ffi

i,

ODYSSEUS (obovt), /crrt rrs/tcp, rs Lrrrl ()r lri ()iur

roat hy l'hcicacian iai/orr Ar prcJittcc/ hv lfic sctr,

Trrtsiar, Oc.ilsscur rrar hcJ irrrnrcu/onc rrn u /ortrgrr

shrp,only d/lar nrdny vacl\'ilclrc/arlrL Orrtt bath

on his islanc/ htnutlon ol ithara, irc haci arorircr

baLtk Lo lighL w r l h l h e s u r k r r sr y 'h r i w r / c hrfort

hc couk/ rzecin hrs thronc anrl sctlit Jrrrvn n'rlir

P e n t l o p t t l t r t \ r R r r r , \ r a l , \ r\ r ( ) ! r r\ | F ( , ! I l \ r l r rI l a 8j

5I
ClnsstcAr- MyrHoLocy

Hnno AND LEANDER were Leander lost his senseof direction


one o[ the great pairs of loversin and he drowned in the cold waters
Greek mythology Hero was a When his bodywas washed ashore
pnestesso[ epnnoorceat Sesrosin at Sestos,Hero threw herselffrom
the Dardanelles, while Leander her tower and died
lived on the Asianside of the chan-
nel at Abydos They met and fell in Tne HTSPERIDES were sup-
love, but becauseoI her religious posedly rhe daughtersof Hesperus,
calling Hero was barred from mar- the evening star Their nameswere
nage. ln order to keep their affair Hespera, Aegle and Erytheis, and
secret, they arrangedthat Leander they were the guardians o[ a tree of
should swim acrossto Hero each golden applesgrvenby GAIA,moth-
night, guided by a light that she er earth, to the goddess HERAon
placedin her tower Next moming her marriage ro zELls, chief of rhe
he would swrm back at dawn One Greek gods This tree stood in the
stormy night the light blew out, Garden of the Hespendes on rhe

HERO(below) Ioohs
JorherLeander,who THE HESPERIDES (nght)guardedthe
usually
swamto heracross theHellespont golden
apples in thegarden
oJthegodsThe
guidedbya lightin hertwer Butherlight serpentreallsthemythoj thedragon ltdon
blewout in a stormandlttinderwas whoguarded theapples untilhewasslain
drowned |Jm, lxt wArcH oF HERoByLoRD by Heracles (TH[ cARl)r,Nor rHr: HrspLRlDEs
By

LErcH()N cANviS .1880) EDWARD


BURNE-JoNE5,
rANvAs,186973)

slopes of Mount Atlas in the far HOnqftUS was a Roman hero


west For one of his labours the who saved the early Republic from
hero HFMCLES tncked the Titan the Etruscans,when they tned to
ATI-{S into getting him the golden restore TARQUINIUS SUPERBUS to
apples, offenng ro hold up the the Roman throne by force of arms.
heavens in his stead The Etruscansmounted a surpnse
attack and attempted to capture
HORATIUS (below),a Romanhero,held Rome by crossing a poorly defend-
the Sublician Bndge, wtth nuo oJhis ed bridge over the Rrver Tiber
comrades,against the ELruscanamy ''ly'hile With two comrades,Horatius held
other Romanshacheddown the bidge, he the enemy back untrl the Romans
held o[f the entmy until the last moment had destroyed the wooden bndge
whenheleaptinto thestredmand swamto As the final supports were sawrr
saJety(LrusrvnoNFROM
SroRl6FROM
Llw, 1885
) away, he ordered his comrades
CInSSIcAL MYTHoLoGY

IO ,"as the daughter of the river


god Inachus, and was one of the
mortal women who bore children
by zEUs. Although Io was a virgin
priestess of nrRe, Zeus's wife, at
her tempie in Argos, this did not
prevent Zeus from having her
expelled from Argos so rhar he
could make love to herwithout any
difficulties According to one ver-
sion, he tumed Io into a beautiful
heifer, and would have mated with
her at once had not Hera guessed
his intentions and sent a gadfly to
INO rescuesshipwuhed Odysseusby ILUS SCCFOUNDERS killed. The unbom Dionysus, how- prevent the animal from standing
thrauinghimher veil which saveshimJrom ever, was uken from her womb still. It seemsthat Zeus eventually
drowning Shewas honoured along the INO was rhe daughrerof cADMUs, and placed in Zeus'own rhigh unril made love to lo on a cloud over
Greeh shoresas a maine deity who aided the Phoenicianhng of Thebes,and it was time for his birth. Then, ar Egypt, where she was retumed to
sailors in distressand guided ships through Harmonia ln Greek myrhology, rhe suggesrionof Hpnvrs, rhe mes- her human form Surprisingly, she
storms (ODyssEUs AND THEcoDDs INo8y she brought up DIONYSUS, the son senger god, lno suckled the divine was forgiven by Hera. Because lo
AEsNDRoArcfl, F6co. 1580) of zrus and Semele,who was Ino's child and kept him safefrom Hera. had been bovine in shape on her
dead sister. Semele had been However, such a powerful goddess arrival, she became identified with
back to the Roman bank. Theyjust tricked by the goddessHERA,rhe could nor be thwarted wirhour the Egptian cow goddess Hathor.
made it, but Horatius was obhged jealous and vengeful wrfe of Zeus, great personal cost. When she
to swim back in full armour Only who advised her to resr rhe divin- discovered the deceprion, Hera IO, "thewanderer",wulwed byZeuswho
prayer saved the hero as he dodged ity of her lover by relling him to made Ino kill her own children changeilhointoahaJo in ordo toavod
the Etruscan arrows and struggled come to her in his rrue form This After she had done this Ino killed hisjealousw{e Hera Heraorderedall-
across the waters of the Tiber Zeus was also tricked into doing, herself by jumping off a cliff into seangArgusto wakh Io,butZfus,in his
His full name was Horatius and the unfonunate resultwas that the sea. In another myth, she and tum, sentHermes to lull Argusn sleepby
Cocles ("Horatius the one-eyed"). he appeared to Semeleas lightning her infant son Melicertesleaptinto theilreamynota o! hislute (Mt:rcuRy
AND
Whether he was wounded in the and thunderbohs, and she was the sea and became marine deities gNv s, c 1635)
ARGU58y PEEn Plur RUBENJ,
eye remains uncertain, though tra-
dition saysrhar an ancienrsarue of
a lame, one-eyed man was erected
near the bridge in his honour He
was also given as much land as he
could drive a plough over in a day
(Seealso HERoES)

HYPNOS ("sleep"), in Greek


mphology, was the son of Np<, the
night goddess,and the brother of
Thanaros ("Death"). Morpheus,
the god of dreams, was his son.
Hypnos lived in the underworld,
the realm of nnors, and never saw
the sun. On severaloccasionsHERA
asked Hypnos to lull her husband
zEIJs to sleep so rhar she could
attack his son HEMCLESHypnos
usually refused ro anger Zeus,
possibly because he had already
come close to having a thunder-
bolt hurled at him He was saved
by taking refuge with Nrght, whose
power Zeus alwap respected.

53
CressrcAL MYTHoLocY

IPHtCgNfR was rhe eldest in the city wrth only one of his
Qaughterof l(ngAGAMEMNON and sandals The hero had lost it while
Queen CLYTEMNESTRA of Mycenae carrynngwhat seemedto be an old
When Agamemnon and the Greek lady acrossa smft stream,it was in
fleet were about to sail for Troy, lact the goddess HERAin disguise
contrary winds caused by ARTEMIS Unable to harm the unwelcome
kept the ships at Aulis The god- guest becausehe had arrivedat the
dessof the forestand wild animals time of a religious festival,Pelias
had been offended, either by decidedto rid himselfof the threat
Agamemnon himself or by an he represented by sendrngJasonon
action committed by his father an impossible quest He offered to
ATREUS ln any event, Artemis name Jason as his successorpro-
demanded that Iphigenia should IPHIGENIA, theyoung daughteroJ JASON, the son o[ Aeson and uded he should bring home from
be sacnficed To bnng the sacrificial Agamemnonand Clytemnestra,wasolt'ered Phili'ra, was a Greek hero and Colchis the Golden FIeecebelong-
victim all the way from Mycenae to as o "sacnJiciallamb" to appeaseArtemts voyager,bom in Iolcus, a town in ing ro a wonderful ram which had
the port of Aulis in Boeotia,wrth- who wasangry wrth Agamemnon Here, Thessalian Magnesra However, flown there from lolcus
out his wife Clytemnestra'sbecom- while the hrghpriest Calchasraiseshis difficulties arosewhen Aeson, ruler Jason gathered together his
ing suspicious,Agamemnonpre- arms in prayer,Agamemnon(nght) bows of Iolcus, was deposedby his half- companions,who becameknown
tended that lphigenra was to be his headsorowJuliy {tur,srmrrcrrn,," brother Pelias Either because as the ARGONAUTS, and crosseda
married there to the Greek hero 5 r ( ) r i L r , sr R ( ) M H ( ) M F R 1 8 8 5 ) PhilyradisrrustedPelias'intentions seaof mawels, overcamedifficult
and champron ACHILLES After she towardsJason,or simply becauseit task, defeateda guardianserpent
discovered his true intention, Becausehe was polluted by this would berter for the boy if he were and retumed vvith the magrcfleece
Clytemnestra never forgave her unprecedentedact, the Thessalian educated elsewhere,she placed Part of his successwas due to the
husband, and years later on his king could not properly rule his him in the care of the weseCentaur aid of the Colchian princess and
retum from the Trqan War helped land Perhapsa secret passion for CHiRoN,who hved in the Thessa- mtch, vrtre, whomJasonmade
her loverAegrsthusto murder him Dia prompred zEUs himself to lian woodlands Chiron was skilled his wrfe wrrh the assistanceof the
devrsespecial rites of punfication in many things, including medi- goddessATHENA On retuming to
IXION was a Thessalianking of for lxion At first lxion was grateful cine, and may have given the boy lolcus, the Argonauts found that
Lanssaand supposedly the son of to the god, but it was not long the nameJason ("healer") Peliashad assumedthat they had
Phlegyas, though some say his beforehe took an interestin HERA, The Delnhic Oracle wamed died in a shiprweck and murdered
father was ARES,god of war ln Zeus' wife lt was thereforeIxron's Peliasthat he would be rumed off Jason's father Aeson Two versions
order to avoid payrng a bride-price turn to be trapped, when Zeus the throne of lolcus by a man wear- of the myth exist from this point
to Eioneus for his beautiful daugh- made an exactcopy of Hera from a ing only one sandal So rhe usurp- onwards In one of them Peliasis
rer Dia, lxion prepareda trap for his cloud and enticed the unwary hng ing king was amazed and fnght- destroyed by means of Medea's
unsuspecting[ather-in-law- a pit to rapeit The punishmentfor such ened when a matureJasonarrived magic. In another the Argonaum,
filled wrth fire Eioneus fell into it sacrilegious cnme was to spend seeingthat Peliaswrll not honour
on a visrr ro Lanssaand died, and eremiry in Tartarus. the pnson JANUS,a dual-Jaced,god,prestdal
over his promise to Jason, sail off to
lxion thus became the first man to beneath the underworld in hJeHisimage
allthatisdouble-edged Connth after failing to capture
shed the blood of a krnsman wasJoundon cirygates,whichloohboth Iolcus Jason seemsto have accep-
JANUS was a very old ltalian god mwards andourwards,andhewasinvohed red exile in Connth with Medea,
IXION,chained to a rollingwheel, exprates whom the Romansassociatedwith at thestartoJeachnewdayandyearwhen where for some ten yearsthey lived
hissinsin Tartarus, a hellheneath Hades beginnings ln Rome, his double- people loohbothbackwards andJomards happily together and had three
Alongside him,Jellowpisoners Sisyphus gated temple in the Forum was in time (ItLustutto N FRoMDRSMITHs Ct^sslGl sons. Then rhe hero was offered the
snd Tontalus endurethetrownordeols - always kept open in time o[ war DrcroNARY1895) hand of a princessnamed Glauce.
Sisyphus condemed to endless toiland and closed in time of peace.The When he desertedMedeafor her,
Tantalus to endless thirsl (tlu,srhr(rN fR(,M month of January - a time for Jason brought down on his own
DR SMrrHs CKslqL DrcTroNARy, .1895) people to look backwards and for- head the full fury and magical
wards - was sacredtoJanus There powers of the Colchian princess
are few myrhs conceming him, For Medea not only killed Glauce
although his exrra eyesdid on one but she also destroyed her sons by
occasion enable him to catch the Jason. Alone and depressed,the
nymph Carna, who liked to tease hero lingered at Corinth until one
her lovers with sexual advances day, as he sat in the shade of the
before suddenly running away Argo, hrs old ship, a piece of rotten
Their son became a king of the dmber fell and crushed his skull.
important ciry of Alba Longa (Seealso HERoES;voYAGERS)

54
ClnssrcAL MYTHoLoGY

IASON Aeft), thecelebratedherooJthe


Argonauts,was lovedby tht darh sorceress
Medea,whosemaglc at:'shelpedhim slay
thedragonguarding the GoldenFleece
With salvesand invoottons, sheprotected
hm Jrom harm b1Jtre, dmon or sword
UAsoN By G{'sr^Vr MoRetr, a A N v A s , 1 8 6 - 5)

JUNO was rhe Roman equivalenr


of HER,a, rhe wrfe of zEUS,rhe chief
god of the Greeks Juno was the
queen of the sky and the wife of
JUPllt:R>ne wasalwaysassoclateo
wrth the Greek goddessof birth,
E i l e i t h y a .a n d w a s c a l l e db y t h e
Romans"the one who makesthe
child see the light of day" Ar the
touch of a magicalherb specially
grown by Flora, the goddess of
f l o w e n n ga n d b l o s s o m r n g planrs.
Juno became pregnant wlth the
war god MARSJuno's own warlike
aspectis apparentin her attire She
often appearsarmed anclweannga
goatskincloak.which w.rsthe gdr-
ment favouredby RomansoLdiers
on campaign In Rome she was
worshipped on the Capitol hilL
along wirh Jupirer and vtNrRlA,
goddessof wisdom and the arrs
The festivalof Matronaliawas held
in her hon.ruron I March

JUNO (belou), theRornan


rquetn
of huten
oncl o.fwomanhood. atcompautd wo1

woman through life Jrotn brth to autn

She ts here portrat,td rn ciassrral srylc, rrth

a regdl diadtnt, sat'rc hairsry/e, anri

t r o n q u l l , m d J e s t i c , r l r ( l L N o\ \ ' f r D r 4 r )N! l

\ 1 A R 8 ]cE 2 0 CB a )

55
ClessrcAr MyrHoLocY

JUPITER and Mucury, who is weaing


his trawllinghat, enjoyawholesomemeal
with the hindly rustics,Philemonand
Baucis,who aloneamongmortals
welcomedthe godsas thq wanderedin
humanJorm throughPhryga guprrER
ANr)
MERcuRy wrH PHII FMON AND BAUCls, By PETERPA(rL

RUBENS, cANvAs, 1620 25 )

all The god ofprophecy,APoLLo,


was simply punishing the priest for
disobeying a divine command An
altemative view was that the death
o[ Laocoon and his sons was the
work of ATHENAor Poseidon for
causingdamageto the dedicatory
horse A Greek named Sinon had
informed the Trojans that it was an
offenng to the goddessAthena: if
they destroyed it, then Troy would
fall, but if they draggedit inside the
ciry walls, then the Wooden Horse
was a guaranteeof Troy's safery.In
the event the cunning plot worked
JUllteR *as the Roman s}<ygod, conceived a son So as to overcome tryside Oedipus refused to stand for the benefir of the Greek, as
the equivalent of zr.us The cult of the prophecy, the baby was left to aside for the king, a fight ensued those warriors hidden wrthin the
Jupiter Optimus Maximus ("the die on a distant mountainside,his and Laius was killed Thus was horse began a slaughter that led to
best and greatest")beganunder the feet havrng been cut through wrth L-aius'destiny, and the first part of the eventual overthrow and
Etruscan kings, who were expelled a spike This action may havebeen his son's, fulfilled destructionof the besiegedciry
from Rome around 507 nc At first, intended to hastendeath,but it is As for the two serpents,once
Jupiter was associatedwrth the ele- not impossible that Laiuswas also I-IOCOON was a Trojan, said they had crushed Laocoonand his
ments, especiallystorrns,thunder concemed to prevent the child's by some to be the brorher of sons to dearh, they hid themselves
and lightning, but he later became ghost from walking freely But the Anchises, and a pnest of the sea in either the temple of Apollo or
the protector o[ the Roman people effect was quite rhe opposite A god tosrtooN Borh the Greek the temple of Athena
and was their powerful ally in war shepherd heard the baby's screams and the Romansrememberedhim
The games held in the crrcus rn and took him to Connrh, where as the man who warned the IAOCOONandhtssons weremtshedto
Rome were dedicatedro him the childless l(ng Polybus adopted Trojans not to acceptthe so-called deathbya pairoJg](mtsea-setpents The
him and gave him the name o[ Greek gift of the Wooden Horse andentpoets dfereddstotheserpents'
I-etUS, son of Labdacus,king of Oedipus ("swell-foot") He even drove a spearinto its side oign, whether thq were
sentbyAthena or
Thebes, was the father of orolpus When Oedipus reached man- to show his fellow country.'rnenthat Apollo, and whether ltocoon wds innocent
and one of the most tragic figures hood he went to Delphr to ask inside the hollow belly could lurk a or guilry and ofwh.lt sin (lll'srur()N FRoM
in Greek mythology The fate rhat about his parentageHe was told terrible danger to Troy However, D( ItoNARy(n,ClnssrcArANreuilfii, /891l
destroyed his family was due to a that he would be reunitedwith his like rhe prophetess CASSANDM,
curse uttered by PELOPS in revenge parens in a temble manner,for he Laocoon was ignored Worse than
for L^aiuscarrynngoff Pelops'young was desrined to kill his father and the fate of Cassandrawas that o[
son Chrysippus, who later hanged marry his mother Concluding Laocoon and his two sons, for no
himself for shame incorrecrly that Corinth was his Trolan lifted a hand to heip when
In Thebes, l-aius tookJocasu as place of birth, Oedipus travelled two great sea-serpentssuddenly
his wrfe, but they had no children, towards the north and approached amved and crushed them to death
which rhe Delphic Oracle rold Thebes On the road he encoun- There was no agreement,how-
them was fortunate, becausel-aius tered laius, who was on his way to ever, among rhe Greeks or the
was destined to be killed by his consult the Delphic Oracle about Romans about why Laocoon and
own son For a time Larus and the SPHINX, a monsterwith the face his sons were killed by the sea-
Jocasta did not share the marriage and breastsof a woman, the body serpents One opinion was that
bed Then one night, full of wine, of a lion and wlngs, which was Laocoon's punishment was not
Laius slept with her and Jocasta causing havoc in the Theban coun- connected wrth the Trojan War at

56
CInSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

LEDA was lovedby Zns in the shapeoJa


swl.n From their union, Ledaproducedtwo
eW, one contdrningthetwins,Castorand
PolydeucesAsyoung men, the twinsdre
oJtendepictedwi|h eg-shdpedhelmats,
ntrrR
recolling their unusual parentage Lr'r),\
LL()N/RD0 D^ VtN( r, c1Nf3\, ( l5l5 l6 )

LnfO was the daughter of the


TITANSCoeus and Phoebe,and she
was one of the few Titanessesto be
worshipped in ancient Greece
However, her cult was commonly
associatedwith those of her more
famous son and daughter APoLLo
and eRtrnzls,whose fatherwas the
stcygod zEUs Leto may havegiven
birth to her dir,rne children on the
sacred island of Delos, which a
helpful PosEtDoNis sard to have
fastenedpermanentlyto the bot-
tom of the seawith a huge pillar
Later.one of Apollo's most impor-
tant temples was built on the
island Even the invading Persians
respectedthis sanctuary,when in
490 BCtheir fleet passedby on its
way to punish the Eretrians and
Athenians for provrdrngaid to the
Greek rebels who were fightrng
Persrain Asia Minor

LETO(below), clutthmghtr trnytwins,


childrenoJZeus, a gJant
Jlees seryentsent
bythewngeJul Herawhorelentlessly
pIoprcdherhusband's lowrs Thebq,
Apollo, a cithara,
pluchs hisattibuteas
godol thearts,whrleArtemis a
clutches
tinybow,rymboloJherroleasgoddess oJ
the wild ttttL \ r&4r()\ a) N( { BF;LE,I 99-5.)

LnnR was rhe daughter of l(ng came to her disguisedas a swan


Thestius of Aetolia, which was a Some say that as a result of therr
statein north-westemGreece Her union Leda produced two e8gs,
husband was Krng Tlmdareos of one containedClytemnesrraand
Sparu Two o[ Leda'schildren were Helen,and the otherthe Dioscun,
CLYTEMNESTM,the murderous but that Helen'sand Polydeuces'
wife of ec,qurMNoN, and HELEN, father was Zeus while Tyrrdareos
who was the unfaithful wife of was the father of the mortals
MENEI-AU5, Agamemnon'sbrother, Clytemnestra and Castor In the
and the causeof the Trojan War caseof Helen there rs little doubt
Leda was also the mother of the that the myth of the Trojan War
DIOSCURI, the twrn sonsCastorand tumed a goddessinto a Queen
Polydeuces Vanous accountsare She clearly has a connection wrth
given of the fathersof her children, older Aegeangoddesseswho were
lor Leda was loveo oy lLU5 wno associatedwrth birds and eggs.
MONSTERS
AND EABI-]LoIJS
Be,qSTS
TASSICAL MONSTERS come in all shapes and colours, sometimes hideous,
but sometimes bewitchitgly fair, sometimes hallhuman and somerimes
entirely demonic. Monsters generally symbolize the dark and unresolved
forces in life and in human narure. Greek mythologl
is full of composirecrearures,such as the Chimaera,Sphinx and
Scylla,symbolizingcomplex evil. Not all monsrerswere cruel,
and some,such as Ladon,guardeda precioustreasure,while the
Sphinx guardedthe passro the city of Thebes.other monsrers
ravagedthe land, such as the Hydra and Chimaera.Still others
were raised by u curse, as when Poseidon
PYTHON (above),a monstrous
sent a sea monster in response to Theseus' serpent,sonof Gaia, hauntedthe caves
of Pamassusuntil slainby Apollo with
r a g e . S a v a g eb e a s t s , s u c h a s s a t y r s a n d his frst anows Apollot'oundedthe

Centaurs, part human and part animal, ffthnn gamcsto rcmmemorate his
tictory and wasaJtmuardsnamed
represent man's unruly, instinctive nature. Apollo PhysiusThe monster'sdeJeat
wascelebratedevay ninelears at the
Although less awesome than demons, they
JestivaloJSteptenaat Delphi and
still harassedand haunted humans. invofuedan enactmottoJthe whole
event lLLUsrMrpN By CLENN STryAD, 1995 )

SCYLLTI (above),a s*-headed sea


monster,fshed Jor dolphins, sea-clogs
and sailorsfrom her cayem m the Strait
oJ Messina According Loone myth, she
was oiglnally a beuutful seanymph,
Iowd b1 Zus and Poserdonin tum, until
changedby the rculoug of Cru mto a
snapping,barhing monster Here, she
snatchesup thecreruoJ Odysseus
as his
ship sail.s
past her cavem 1Lr{rsrMroN
rRo!,SroRlF:sFROM(;RtF(F A\D RoMrr l9J0)

THE SIRENS (ight) werebeauttfuIsea


nymphswho charmed sailorsby tlrcir
alluing songsAlthough iniially depicted
as brrd-maids,thq later became
Jair
temptressesHere, Odysseussailspast
with hts crtw; having advisedhis men to
stop Lheirearswith war, he hadhimself
b o u n dt o t h em a s ts o t h a t h ec o u l d h e a r
the srrensmaglcsongvnthoutbeing
Iured oway (ol)yssfLis A N D T H I S T R E N sB y

FMNcE-so PRrM^rrcdo, aANv"s 1505-70 )


Cle.ssrcAt- MvrHoLoGY
CLASSICAL MYTHoLOGY

ARES,was more widelyworshipped rejuvenate an old ram by boiling he already had a son in the hero
than any of the other Roman gods, him rn a magic pot whereupon he rHEsEUs.Through her wily skills,
probably because his sons REMUS tumed into a lamb. She also dis- Medea prevailed upon Aegeus to
ANDROMULIJSwere said to have posed ofJason'senemy, King Pehas reject Theseuswhen he came co
founded the ciry of lolcus, by persuadinghis daugh- Athens to claim his inheritance,
ters to give him a similar course of and she may also have persuaded
Menfn was rhe daughrer of beauty treatment, but which hlled him to send Theseusto subdue the
Aietes, king of Colchis, a country him As a result, Jason and Medea bull of Marathon. When Theseus
adjoining the Black Sea, and the were banished to Corinth succeededin this dangeroustask
LUCRETIA,aJterhosuxide,retumed. to first wrfe o[ the voyager JAsoN The relarions betweenJason and and at last Aegeusrecognizedhim
hauntSexnsTarquinius, "Jalse
Sextus", Medea means"the cunning one" - Medea went badly wrong Jason as his own successor,Medea fled
thehigh-handed Etruscanwhohadrapeda suitable name for a princess put his firsr wife aside in order to with Medus to Colchis, where they
her,incensing thewholeoJPameShe skilled in the magic ans ln fact, to marry Glauce, a Theban pnncess avenged the recent overthrow and
aryeasasa pale,shrouded phantomwhorhe Greek she hovered somewhere Medea, feelingvery insulted, took death of Aietes Medus became a
singsasshespinsthrough thewatches
oJ between witch and goddess. a terribie revengeonJason Glauce ruler of Colchis, but nothing elseis
the night (llrusrmfloN
FRoMLAys
oFANclENr Medea fell in love with the was bumed alive in a poisoned known of Medea
Thessalian heroJason as soon as he wedding dress, and Medea saw to
LUCRgffA was rhe wife of landed in Colchis with the ARGO- it that her own children byJason MTNEUUS, kingof Sparta,was
Tarquinius Collatinus and repre- NAI/TS,and she used magic to help were also hlled She then escaped rhe younger son ofATREUS. It was
sented the ideal of Roman woman- him gain the Golden Fleece, the to Athens in a magrc chariot, which to recover Menelaus' wrfe HELEN
hood. When Sextus, youngest son objecr of rheir expedirion On the was said to belong to her grand- that his older brotherAGAMEMNON,
of the Etruscan king TARQUINIUS hasty voyage back, when the father Hruos, the sun god king of Mycenae, led the Greek
SUPERBUS,raped her at dagger Colchian fleet gavepursuit, Medea In Athens, Medea married its expedition againstTroy. ln spite of
point around 507 Bc,she made her sacnficed her brother to slow the krng, AEGEUS, and bore him a son being wamed, Menelausnot only
father and her husband promise to pursuers. On their retum to lolcus, named Medus. At this timeAegeus enrenained PAruS,the eldest son of
avenge her honour before she Jason's birthplace, she managed to believed he was childless,although King PRIAMof Troy, but he also
stabbed herself to death. According
to Roman legend, Lucretia's fun-
eral roused the people and their
anger was channelled by rhe inspir-
ing eloquence of Lucius Junius
BRUTUSinto a desire for the over-
throw of the monarchy.

MARS, rhe son of ;ulo and a


magical flower, was originally the
Roman god of fenility and vegeta-
tion but later became associated
with battle. As the god of spring,
when his major fesdvalswere held,
he presided over agriculture in gen-
eral ln his warlike aspect he was
offered sacrifices before combar
and was said to appear on the
battlefield accompaniedby Bellona,
a warrior goddess variously identi-
fied as his wife, sister or daughter.
Mars, unlike his Greekcounrerpan,

MAFS,godoJwar,forceshrmself ongentle
Paxand Abundonti,spintsoJpeaceand
plenty,whileMinemashifullysteers
him
away Thealleguydramat4esanage-old
henlyJdt in thewaringRoman
conJlict,
heart (MrNERv^DRrvrNG
MAs BrJ^coR) RoB{,sfl

TrNroREfio. c/NVAs,c lJ76 )

60
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

MERCURY (above),as the messenger


god oJ the Romans, was closelyidnttJted
with the Greehgod Hermes In worlu oJart,
he typicallywearsa wingedhelmet,
or wide-bimmed traveller'shat, and
canies a herald'sstaft',the emblemof
(MFRCURy AND ARcus By PErIR PAUL
Pedce

RU8EN5, DEIAII, GNV^s, I6J5.)

MEDEA, a ruthlesssorceress, by the intervention of the love god- prosperity. He was apparently Dionysus told him how to wash
JleesJrom
Co\chiswith lason and the Colden Fleece dessAPHRODITEShewas rndebted imported from Greece around the away his golden touch, which
, with herIather,
acrossthe seasto Greece to Parisfor.;udgrngher more beau- fifth century BC Mercuryis usually Midas did in the fuver Pactolus,
Aietes,in pursuit To slowhim down, she tiful than the goddessesHER,+and depicted in the same way as his thereafter famous for the goid dust
cut up her brotho and cast thc parts into ATHENA;in gatitude shehad grven Greek counterpart HERMES, with a ro be lound on im bed
to pichup thepieces
thesea,JorcingAietes him the love of Helen, the most wrnged hat and staff Another my'th told about Midas
beautiful woman alive concerns a musical competition
Jor a piousbunal (lxr 6<rorr FLLTcE
ByH ./
DMPER, cANvAs, (: 1880) After the fall of Troy, Menelaus MIO.CS was sard to be the son of berween rhe gods APoLLoand PAN,
could not bnng hrmself to kill Gordius and Cybele, or to have the divrne inventors of the lge and
went off to Crete and left Helen Helen because of her ourctanding been adopted by Gordius. He was pipes respectively When the prize
alone at Spanawlth the handsome beauty Once again the goddess the kmg of Phrygia and renowned was awarded to Apollo, Midas in-
visiror. Pansand Helen eloped, tak- Aphrodite cast her spell and they for his wealth According to the caudously expressedhis surprise at
ingmany of the reasures forwhich were reconciled and rerumed ro Greeks, his fabulous riches were the outcome and received from
Menelauswas famous Sparta,where rhey lived happily for the result of a hndness he showed Apollo a set of ass's ears for his
During the ten-year strugSle many years When Menelausdied ro 5ILENU5,rhe old goar-like tutor foolish presumption
against Troy, Menelaus played a he went to hve ln the ElysianFields of otoMsus, rhe god of vegetation,
secondaryrole to Agamemnon and wrrh his immortal Helen wlne and ecstasy So pleasedwas MIDAS. rheJabled htngof Phryga.was
the other Greek lcngs, ahhough he Dionysus wrth this behaviour that ich, yetchose,
Jabulously whengranted a
was no coward In single combat MeRCURY*as rhe Romanmes- he offered Midas whatever he wishbythegods,to become ncherstill,by
wlth Pans, Menelaus tried to settle sengergod, and was alsothe deiry wished The king asked for every- ashingJoreverythinghetouched to tum to
rhe dispure berween the Greeks who watched over trade and com- rhing he touched to be tumed into gold Hiswishwasganted,but joyquichly
and the Trojans He won and was merce, as his name suggesm He gold At first Midas was overjoyed tumedto gneJwhenhecouldneither eat
only preventedfrom killing hs nval was associated wrth peace and wrth the gift, but once he realized nor dinh (llrrlsrMfloN ByNrcx B^LE, l9g5)

that even his food and drink were


being transformed on touching his
lips, he was homfied Out of pity

MENEI-AUSAeJ)wasusuallya gentle,
even-tenpered man,buthereheftghts
overtheJaIIen
firercely bodyoJPatroclus
wholiesnahed, JorApoIIohadstrucholJhis
helmeqsplinteredhis ashspeorondbrohet
htscorselet,
shppinghLm baresothathe
wouldbemsilyhilledbyHectorolrusrurft)N
FR()M SroRrfs r R()M HOMER, 1885 )

6l
CIeSSICAL MYTHoLoGY

MINgRve (whose name may unsuspeccingCreran king. After his


have originally meanr "rhoughr") death Minos became a srem judge
was the Roman goddessof wrsdom in the realm of.Hlors, rhe urider-
and the arts, rhe equivalenr of the world, the land of the dead.
Greek goddess ATHEN,. She was
worshipped rhroughout ltaly, THe MINoTAUR was rhe
though only in Rome did she rake monsrrous son of a whire bull,
on a wariike character Minerva is which was senr by the sea god
usually depicted wearing a coar of POSETDON,and pASrpI.IAE.
rhe wife
mail and a helmet, and carryringa of King MINoS of Crete When the
spear The Romans dedicared the child was bom it had rhe head of a
spoils of war to her. bull and the body of a man, and
was given the name Minomur
MtnOS was rhe son of zEUsand ("Minos'bull").
EUROPAand became the king of The creature was fed on seven
Crete, wrth his palace siruated at boys and seven girls sent annually
I(nossos The Greek regardedhim as uibute by rhe Athenians. To free
both as a jusr lawgiver and as a his counr)rmen of this tenible bur-
cruel oppressor To build his won- den rhe hero tHrsrus came ro
derful palace, Minos employed rhe Knossos, entered rhe maze-like
Athenian craftsman DAEDALUS, Labynnth where rhe Minotaur lived
whose creatronswere thought ro be and killed it. He was assistedby
almosr divine 5o lifelike were his Krng Minos' daughter ARIADNE,
sutues, for instance, rhat they had who gave him a ball of rhread,
to be chained down in order ro insructing him ro unravel it on his
stop them running away Minos wayinto the mazeso thar he could
was lesspleased, however,with the find his way our again She also
hollow cow thar Daedalusmade for gaveTheseusa sword.
his queen, PASIPHAE, so thar she In the srrange srory of rhe
might satisfy her desire for rhe Minotaur the Greelcsrecalledin a
whire bull which possooN had garbled form the glones of rhe older
sent from the wavesas a sign that MINERVA (abne), the Romangoddessof THE MINOTAUR (below) wrestles inhabitants of Crete It is now
Minos should ascend rhe Cretan wisdom, is depictedhere tamingd wiW with Theseusin the labyrtnth, which is known that rhe bull games of rhe
throne. The MINOTAUR, a man wirh Centaur, who symbolizesthe darh unruIy rtpresentedbythe meanderpattem at the ancient Cretans involved young
a bull's head, was the outcome o[ sideoJhuman nature HtsJeaming sides Thebull-baiters above illwtrate the athletes leaping over bulls, even
Pasiphae's unnarural union This expression suggestsman's longlngJor sport oJbull-leaping, part oJ the mystoious attempring somersauls holding the
monstrous creature was housed in divinity, despitehimsef {Mrnrnve ero rne bull-cult oJancient Crete GHEBULL-BArrEK By homs Although some of them
the Labynnth, a special maze built CENTAUR By SANDRo BofttcEu, C/.NAS, c 1482) JoHN DUNGN, w rERcoLouR,c ]880) doubtless sustained seriousinjury,
by Daedalusar Minos' request. or may wen have been hlled, rhere
Minos was known to the Greek Minos carried a shell and promised is nothing to suggesrrhar a man-
as an ancient ruler of the seas His to reward anyone who could passa eating creature was involved
naval strengrh could well have thread through ir Daedalusalone
owed somerhing ro Daedalus' could soive the problem, which MoenRg see FArEs
inventiveness Cenainly he was not eventuallyhe was unable to resist.
prepared for anorher ruler ro enjoy When l(ng Cocalos,on Daedalus' Tne MUSTS, from rhe Roman
rhe remarkable services of the behalf, claimed rhe prize, Minos name, Musae, were rhe daughters
craftsman. When Daedalusand his demanded that the craftsman be of zfuS and Mnemosyre, a TITAN,
son Icarus Ieft Crere wirhour per- surrendered to him. But rhe daugh- whose name means "memory"
missron, Minos sailed ro Sicily in ters of Cocalos were unwilling to They used to dance and sing ar par-
hot pursuit. There, in the ciry of Iose the inventive man who made ties held by the gods and heroes.
IGmikos, Minos mer his death. rhem beautiful toys, and with his For the Greek, cheMuseswere the
Daedalus had arrived in Sicily as a help they plotred Minos' dearh. inspiration of poetry, music and
refugee He quicklywent ro ground When rhey rook rheir royal guesr to dance. Later, other intellectual
and was hidden by King Cocalosof the bathroom, Daedalus led a pipe activities were added ro rherr care.
Kamikos ln order ro find our through the roof and boiling water, Although accounts of rheir number
where rhe craftsman was hiding, or oil, was poured down upon rhe differ, it is generally accepted that

62
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

the echo of her votce Narcissus


was then condemnedby Nemesis,
goddess of retnbution, to spend
the rest of his days adminng his
own reflecdon in a pool At last he
died and was tumed into rhe flower
that bears his name

NnPruNr was an ancrent


Iralian water god whom the
Romans identified wrth PoSEIDON
Compared to Poseidon,however,
Neptune plays a minor role in
Roman mythology

FORCES
NOTUS SCC OFNATURE

ocrnNos was a TrrAN,the son


of Ouranos and Gete,but never an
enemy of zEUs On the contrary, he
prorected Zeus' wrle HEnA and
mother RHEAwhen the gods fought
rhe Titans As ruler of the encircling
sea, which rhe Greek believed
surrounded the world, Oceanos
THE MusEs, guidingspiritsoJthe arts, married his sister Tethys and they
inspired aII $t'ted artists, though thq produced three thousandnvers.
resentedany smots competition dnd
depnvedthe SircnsoJtheirJeathosJor OCEANUS1eJr). Jatherof thenver
daing to be better than than in song The gods, witha rypically
isdepictedhere
nine Musesappear hereamid the lsPiing face,unrulylocluand
tempestuous
anistsoJ theRenaiss4nceGxr Rsrv or lHr homedbrowAbwehim,Selene, the
uw6, c 1506)
Mus6BvLouNzoCO5TA, crescentmoon,sheds a mildlight;andon
eithersidelash thesars,Phosphorus AeJt)
there were nine Muses altogether - andHespmts(ight) (tununox o^uu
oF CLASSTGL ANTIQUlrl6, l89l )
CIio, Euterpe, Thalia, MelPomene, DroloNAfr

Terpsichore, Erato, PolYhYmnia,


Urania and Calliope.

NNTNOS SCCFORCESOFNATURE

NARCSSUS, according to Greek


myhology, was the beautiful son of
the River Cephissus in Boeotia and
the nymph Linope Among the
many who loved him, including
immortals and monals, was Echo,
who slowly pined away, leavingjust

NARCISSUS (nght), a beaut{ul youth,


wasknenfo thenymph&ho who,Joiling
to attrdct him, dted of gtef He, in hs tum,

Jelltn lne wrth ttts wn reiection and pned


away until changedby the goik inn the
jower that bearshis nanc (Ecrono
Nficsus sYJWlY^roousE,w#, IW )

63
ClesstcAL MyrHoLoGy

ODYSSEUS ahghtsontheislandoJAeau
wherehe iswamedby Hermes oJthe
honorsoJCirce'senchantingwine,
which
tumsmenintoswineThisJatehasalready
beJallen
onecomradeandsoO$tsseus must
heephu guard(clRcE
wrHrHEcoMMDr oF
ODssEUsByA[ssANDRo
A[oe,rtrsco,
1580
)

Greek warriors under his own


command The Trojans dragged
the Wooden Horse inside their
walls when they leamed from a
Greek, deliberately left behind
when the rest put to sea, thar rhe
offering would bring their ciry a
guaranteeof divine protection. Bur
during the night the Greeks
emerged from it, and surprised
the Trojans. Hence, the ancient
saying "Never trust the Greeks
bearing grfa"
Although Troy fell, the wildness
of the looting and the slaughter
deeply offended the gods. [n par-
ticular, the goddessAIHENAwas
enraged ar rhe rape of cesseruoRn
within the sanctuary of her own
temple. Odysseustried to appease
Athena, and he escapeddrowning
in the geat storm which the angry
goddesssent to shatter the vicrori-
ous Greek fleet on its homeward
OOYSSEUS, king of tthaca, was was hidden. Again, arAulis, where year struggle againsr rhe Trojans, joumey. But he could not entirely
one of the Greek leaderswho took the Greek fleet was stranded by Odysseus was importanr not so avoid blame, and PoSEIDoNsaw ro
part in the Trojan War. He was contrary winds, it was Odysseus much as a fighter but as a counsel- it that he was the last Greek leader
celebrared for both his parr in rhis who tricked Agamemnon's wife lor and a schemer. His eloquence to reach home, after a voyage last-
conflict and his remarkable voyage CLYTEMNESTMinto sending her was renowned, and ir was probably rn8,some ten years.
home to his island kingdom in the daughter IPHIGENIA from Mycenae, Odysseus who thought of rhe The long period of wanderirrg
lonian Sea. supposedly ro marry Achilles. Wooden Horse, which gave rhe that Odysseus suffered was a
A brave and clever man, lnstead, however, lphigeniawas to Greeksvictory. favourite story of both the Greek
Odysseus was sometimes rhoughr be sacrificedroARllMIs, goddessof Odysseus deceived the Trojans and the Romans. who knew the
ro have been rhe son ofslsypHus, Ihe wild, in order ro obtain a fair wirh this horse built of wood voyager by the name of Ulysses.
the trickster of Greek myrhology wind to Troy. Throughout rhe ren- whose hollow beN was filled with The exact route that he followed
But his real farher was probably remains a mystery, not leasr
Laertes, whom he succeeded as because his travels took him
king of lthaca. His morher was beyond known territory and inro
named Anricleia and his fairhful strange and dangerous lands. From
wife Penelope was rhe sister of King Troy Odysseus sailed first ro
TyndareosofSparta.
From the starr of the campaign ODYSSEUS raises hisgreatbanond,with
againsr Troy it is clear rhat King effonbssnifltt, stretches
thebowst'ing
AGAMEMNaN,the Greek leader, whichthesuitorshadstruggJed invainto
placed geat store upon Odysseus' funil. He thrn slaysthesuianwhohne
cunning. He was sentwirh Nesror, denuredhk wealthandplagued,hk wrle
the aged king of $os, to discover dunnghisbng voyage home(tuustunon
where the great warrior ACHILLES FRoM SToRE FRoM HoMER 1885 )

64
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

ODYSSEUS. on his way throughthe


ghostlyundenvorld,tonsultsthe shadeoJ
Tiresras,who wams hrm that rJhe olJends
Helioshe will retum homealoneon a

Joreignship only at'termatryyears'


wandeing (TrRr,srAs oDYssFUs
coL:Nsn-s 81
Al EsitNDR() Ari ()R/, FREs(tr, 1580 )

[ather-in-law. But Penelope unrav-


eiled it each night, undl one ofher
maids betrayed the tnck Finally,
after ten years, Penelope agreed to
marry the suitor who could bend
and string Odysseus' great bow.
Thrace,where he lost many of his westem edge of the encrrcling sea, swallowed by the great whirlpool This challenge was proposed on
men in battle. After this bloody rhe realm of ocEaruos, where Charybdis In an exhausted state the advice of the goddessAthena
incident the places he touched ghosts came from the underworld he dnfted to the wondrous island fhe only suitor who succeededat
upon are less easy to identify. realm of riAprs ro meet him The of the sea nymph Calypso, who the challenge was a beggar, who
Storms drove him to the land of the shade ol rhe blrnd seer TIRESIAS cared for him and eventually pro- rhen threw off his disguise and
Lotophagi ("rhe Iotus-eaters"), gave Odysseus a special waming posed mamage But not even revealedhrmself as Odysseus.
whose diet made visitors forget abour his homeward joumey to immortaiiry would tempt him, and Assistedby hrs son Telemachus
their homelands and wish to suy Irhaca He rold him that if the cat- after seven years the gods forced and two loyal retainers,Odysseus
on forever Then he encounteredin tle of the sun god HELIoSon the Calypso to let Odysseus set off dispatchedthe suitors and hanged
Sicily, it was later believed, the isle of Thrinacia were harmed by again Shipwreckedonce more in the rreacherous maids Reunited
Cyclops P)LWHEMU s, whose father him he would never reach his the land of the Phaeacians,he was wrth his family at last,including his
was Poseidon By putting out home The ghost of Odysseus' welcomed as an honoured guest father Laertes, Odysseus then
Polyphemus'single eye when the mother also spoke of the dilliculdes and offered a passage back to defeatedan attack by the relations
gigantic man was befuddled with being faced by Penelopein Ithaca Ithaca So it was that he was secret- of the suitors and rerurned Ithaca
wlne, Odysseusand his compan- at the time The ghost of ly ianded near his own palace, to peace Zeus himself threw down
ions managedto escapebecoming Agamemnon, his old comrade-in- which he entered disguised with a thunderboit to signalan end to
his dinner They then amved on arms, also wamed him about his Athena's aid as a beggar the fighring. (Seealso VOYAGERS)
the floating island of Aeolus, who homecoming; when he retumed Penelope had been patientiy
was the ruler of the winds There home he had been murdered by awaicingOdysseus'rerum from the ODYSSEUS thewanderer retums
home
Odysseusreceiveda rarepresent, a his wrfe and lover in the bathroom war. Akhough pressed to marry aJtertwenty yearsandembraces Penelope
sack full of wrnds The idea appears Turning eastwards, Odysseus one of her many noble suitors,she at last Shehadrejused to achnowledgeher
in many different mythologies, but sailed back towards Greece and had put rhem off for a while by husband untilhehadremincledherof the
according to the Greeks,it was of was the only man who dared to pretending that she could not serretof theirbed,whichwascurued outof
little use on the voyagebecausethe listen to the allunng song of the marry until she had finished a greaLolivetreegrownin thecourtyard
cunosity of Odysseus'men got the Sirens,bird-women of storm He weaving a shroud for Laertes,her (ll-LL rsTMTrL)N |RoM 5l r)Rll 5 l ROM Hrwl R, I 885 )

beuer of them and they opened the filled his men's earswith wax and
sack and the winds no ionger blew had himself bound urth strong
in a helpful direction cords to the mast Odysseusthen
A tragedy overcame the passedrhrough the strairsberween
squadron of ships that Odysseus Sicily and ltaly, where six of his
led among the Laestrygones,a race crew were seizedby the six-headed
of giant cannibals Only his own monster Scylla On the island of
ship survrved the attack and Thrinacia, as Tiresias had foretold,
reached Aeaea, the island of the the voyagers were tempted by
enchantressCIRCE, laier considered hunger ro slay some o[ Helios'
to be situated off ltaly Odysseus catrle Despite his warning, the
resistedher spells,wrth the aid of desperaremen killed and cooked
the messengergod nrRvls, and severalcows when Odysseuswas
made the enchantressrestore to asleep.Later they desertedhim,
human shape his men who had but were drowned in a storm sent
been tumed to swine Afterwards, by zEUsat Helios' request
on Circe's advice,he sailedto the Alone, Odysseus was almost
ClessrcAL MyrHoLocy

OEOIPUS ("swell-foot")was rhe OEDIPUS pudes ner the Sphinx s


unluciy son of King L{IUS and Adilb, whbh she chalbngesall trq',ellcrsn
QueenJocastaof Thebes Because, Thebesto solve Wha. Oedipus outwits the
as a guest at the court of prLops, Sphiw, sheJlingshetulf ina the cham
Laius had taken sexualadvanrage below and datroys hmelf . Ocdipus is
of Pelops' young son Chrysippus, portraydhere, ashe s in anc.eil art, as a
a curse was laid on rhe ruling house calm and pensivehrro (oorpusND rBE
of Thebes Indeed, an oracle SPHIM ByJilN AU6USTE lN6E, wA, l@)

wamed Laius that any sonJocasra


bore him would hll him For a long Jocasu, Oedipus decided ro rry or
time the king and queen aban- die in the attempt. By ourwirdng
doned the marriagebed, bur dnnk rhe Sphinx and causingics dearh,
one night caused Laius to rhrow Oedipus unwittingly fulfilled his
caurion to rhewnds and a son was own destiny: he had killed his
duly conceived At birth, the infant father, now he married his morher
was pierced in rhe feet and left ro For a dme Oedipus andJocasm
die on a distanr mountainside,a lived happily rogerher, having a
fairly common practice for un- famiiy of two sons, Polynices and
wanred children in ancient Greece Ereocles, and two daughrers,
However, a shepherd lound the ANTIGONEand Ismene. Then a
baby and took it ro King Polybus of dreadful plague settled on Thebes,
Corinrh, who, having no children, and Creon was sent to ask the
adopted rhe boy and chose the Oracle at Delphi for a remedy. The
name of Oedipus because of his dMne command he brought back
damaged feet When he grew up, to the city was to dnve our the
Oedipus was taunted that he was murderer of Laius.Alrhough rhe
not Polybus'son, so he went ro ask famous seer TIRESIA5 announced

OEDIPUS,aJtoyearsol wanderingsince the Delphic Oracle about his


hs exrleJromThebes, Ieanson hLsloyal parentage. He was told thar he was
daughterAntigone;thq travelto Colonus desrined ro kill his farherand marry
whereit is destined
thatOedipuswillJinally his mother, and in horror he fled
find peaceanddeathin a sacred grove north. En route he encountered
(lLrusrMrfoN BYNtcx BilE. 1995) l-aius, whose charioreerdeliberare-
iy ran over Oedipus' foot The
result was rhat Oedipus killed
everyone there, except one of his
father's servantswho ran away
Arrivrng in Thebes, Oedipus
discoveredits people were greatly
distressed at the news of Laius'
dearh and rernfied of the spnirux,
an ugly monster causing havoc in
the countryside, When the regent
CREONannounced thar whoever
nd the ciry o[ rhe Sphinx would be
offered the throne and the hand of

ORESTES6ght) fnds some peaceat the


shnneoJApolloin Delphiwhcreheha
led, pursuedby theFuries,aJtermurdering
hismother.At Delphi,Orestes ispartly
punJiedbyApollo,andewn theFuiae,
asleepon thealtar,fnd rest In time,
OrestesisocquittedfotheArmpags
(ORL5E, M^$LE, c 200 BC)

66
CINSSICAL MyTHoLoGY

that Oedipus was the guiity one, ORPHEUS, aJtuhtsdeath,became an


the new hngwould not believe rhis oracle,
andispictured huebangconsulted
was true until he rraced rhose byaThracian maid Hishead rests
ona
involved in his own exposure as a lyrethatis encrusted
withseaweedbecause,
child Convinced ar lasc of his orcr musical,
evenin deathhisdecapitated
excepdonalcrime, Oedipus blind- headhadfloateddownstream calling
Jor
ed himself and left Thebes. His Eurydice(ATnrecnN MAID wtrHrHEHFID ot-
mother and wife, Jocasta, had OnpHrussyGusreveMoREAU,
ceruyes,
1865)
akeady commirred suicide In the
company of his daughter Andgone, departed wife thar just before rhey
a broken Oedipus evenually found reachedthe surfaceof the ground,
spiritual peacein a sacredgrove at he could not resist a quick glance
Colonus near Athens His death in the half-light The result was rhar
there was considered to be a good Eurydice tumed inro a ghost again
omen by the Athenians,becausein and sank back to Hades' kingdom
graritude for the sancuary he was forever Orpheus' own fate was to
given, Oedipus had foretold rhat be dismemberedby Thracian mae-
his bones would save rhem from nads, the female worshippers of
any future attack by the Thebans DIoNYsus,the god of vegetation,
wine and ecstasyApparently, they
OnfSfgS was the son of King tore the singer to pieces excepr for
AGAMEMNON of Mycenae and his head. which was rhen casr inro
CLYTEMNESTM and is renowned for a river and went floating down-
having commitred matricide In streamcalling out "Eurydicel"
ancient Greece there were many Ancient fascinarion with this
placesassociatedwith his purifica- romantic story was probably con-
tion after such a tenible crime For nected wirh religious ceremonies
example,in front of the sancruary and rituals rhat were aimed ar
of.eporto in Troezen, there was a securing personal salvation after
hut used by Oresres,which was death The worshippers of both
said to have been buik ro avoid Orpheus and Dionysus believed in
receiving the pollured murderer as some form of afterlife Painringsof
a guest in a normal house throughout Greece When finally d^y she died of a snake bite Orpheus have even been found in
When Agamemnon left ro lead he went to Delphi for help, since Orpheus was so saddened and the catacombs, rhe early burial
the Greek expedition againstTroy, Apollo had advisedhim to slay his grief-stricken by this sudden loss chambers of Christians in haly
his wife Clyremnesrrarook a lover, father's murderers, Orestes was that he no longer sang or played (Seealso yOYAGERS)
Aegisthus When Agamemnon told to go to Arhens and srand tnal Then he decided to risk his own life
returned, some ten yearslater, the by the fueopagus,an ancienrcoun- in a desperatejoumey ro the land ORPHEUS waspursued
andtornapartby
rwo lovers murdered him, and it cil presided over byATHENA.The of the dead in the forlom hope of theJrenzedmaenads, whowerethewtld
was to avenge rhis crime that verdict in his favour calmed the bringing Eurydice home. By using devoteesoJDionysusThq wereusually
Oresteshlled his mother The grear Furies, so they were renamed the his miraculous music, Orpheus depicted,
asthq arehere,whirlingin
horror feh by the Greeks over Eumenides ("the soorhed god- was able to charm rhe boarman, withswirlingrobes,
ecstary, and
Orestes' actions runs deep in his desses").lt is likely, however, rhar Charon, who femed him across dishev hair.( uusrvruw
elled,snalubound
myth Correcr though he was ro the Greeks called them by this the Styx, and the rhree-headed rnov Dn SvrrH'sCr,tssrocrDtcrloNARy.1895)
seekvengeancefor his father's mur- euphemism because rhey were CERBERUS so rhat he could enrer
der, as the Delphic Oracle had afraid to use their real name, the the underworld Even rhe ghoss of
advised him ro, the killing of a Erinyes, "the angry ones" the dead were greatly moved by his
mother by her son could not be song, but the rulers of the under-
expected to bring anyrhing orher OruON SECGIANT5 world, HADESand his wife prnsr-
than dire misfonune. The FURIES PHONE,granted Orpheus his only
were avenging deities who tracked OnPHEUS was a Thracian singer desireon one condition: under no
down all rhosewith blood on rheir much reveredin ancient Greece. circumstances was Orpheus to
hands, and they now relenrlessly He was said ro be the son of look back at Eurydiceuntil borh of
pursued Oresres. Calliope,MUSEof epic poerry His them were complerely rerumed to
Wild-eyed and distraught, chief myth concems the dearh of the land of rhe living But so over-
Orestes wandered as an outcast his wife, the nymph Eurydice One come was the singer by love for his
FORCES OF NATTJRE
H E W O N D E R S A N D M Y S T E R I E SO F N A T U R E A T C
explained in mythology through the will and
actions of the gods. Sunrise and sunset, storrns
and tidal waves. summer and winter unfold as
part of a divine drama. For the ancient Gree}<s,rhe sun
rose and set because Phoebus Apollo drove the
glittering sun-chariot on a fiery course across the stry,
preceded by Eos who sprinkled moming dew from
her vase. Sp.ingtime came when Persephone,who
symboltzed the seed-com, rose from the underworld
to live in the light of day with her mother, Demerer,
goddessof corn. The tempestuousseagod, Poseidor,
could stir up sea-storrns,or soothe the waves; while
mighty Zeus could strike from afar with a bolt of
lighmirg or brighten the sly with rainbows. In addition
to the great gods of stry, land and sea, nature spints o
nymphs infused the forests,fields and nvers.

POSEIDON (above),the turbulentgod oJthe seas,


symbolizedthe might of the sea-stormHe dwelt in a
goldenpalacein the depthsof the ocean,and rode
the wavesin his sea-chaiot, drawn by sea-horses,
speedingso Jastthathe passedJromSamothraceto
Aegaein threegreat stndes Besidehim bashshis
APOLL0 (above),god oJ light, wife, the sea nymph Amphitite,while a schoolof

rymbolized not only sunlight- Jor titons (part men, part fsh) t'nsharoundhis chaiot
ongnally Helios (the sun) blowngtheir conches,which thq used to raise or
radiateddaylightand wasonly calm the wdves (PosErDoN
ANDHrsCHARIoT
ByMtR^BEuo
Iater identifed with Apollo - but c 1197
Cavaroru, )
alsothebngnt,I{e-g:ing pure,
healinglight oJ divtnity Apollo's ZEUS QeJt),the chiefdary, gwemed thewinds and
light underlieshis other rolesas clouds,rain, thunder andlightning By strilcinghis
god oJhealing,god oJprophecy oeglshecausedstormsand tempests
to rage,but
and god of the arts He withdrew equally,he could calm the elemantsand brighten the
in winter to sunny Lycius and slE k theJatherof thehours,hegwemed the
returnedin spingto dispel changingseasonsAn awesomebutbenigngod,he is
winter Here,he dnves the sun- seenhereresplendantin frry light, beannghis aeg1s,
chaiot on its courseacrossthe rymbol oJhissamagn pruer ovu allJorcesof
heavens (IrLusrn
crroNrnovSronrEs natureand all other go& guprrER
^NDSEMELE
By
nnouLrw 1885) Gusttvt MOREAU, c^NvAs, perxt- 1896 )
FLOM (nght),blooming
Romangoddess
of spnng,
was honouredeveryyear at
the time oJthe Floralia, a
theaticalfestivalwhenthe
peopledechedthemselves
in

flowers and enjoyeda great


feast lastingJorsk days
Flora,sereneandbenign,is
herehonouredtn alavish
parade Poussin's
atmosphencscenev:idly
raives the pagan splendour
of the early Greehpostoral

Jestivak (THeTruuupH
or
FLORA By Nrcol s PoussfN,

cANVAs, c 1627 )

HEPIIAISTOS (below),the smith god, is typrcallydepicted


as a grave, intenseman weanng a worhman's cap and
immersedrn hisf,ery craft He hadforges beneathvolcanoes
but olsoon Olympus where20 bellowsworhed athis
bidding Famedfor hts artistry, he craJtedworhs of wonder,
such as Achtlles'shield,embossedwith a dramatic sceneoJ
liJeand death,joy and gneJ,peaceand war (Aporr,orNrur,
FoRGr, oF Hr,pHArsros av Dtrc<; VELAseuEz, cANVA-s, onett, 1630 )

THE NAIADS (above),orwater NOTUS (below),the southwind, ZEPLIYRUS(below),thewestwind,


nymphs.dweltbesiderunntng broughtwrthit fog and rain Here,as a dwelt with his brotherwrnd. Boreas.in
water Lihe thar cousins,the wingeddeity,Notuspours ruin from aa palacein Thrace He wasfather oJ
Nereidsand Oceanidsof the vase,muchas hrsmother,Eos,goddess the rmmortalhorses.Xanthusand
oceans,the OreadsoJthe hills and of dawn, spinhlesdov Jrom a vase Balius, Achilles'battle steedswho
the Dryads of Jorestsand trees,thq beforethesun-chanotin the early gallopedwtththe speedoJwind
were usually sweet,benrgn spirits morrung (l[usrnerroru
FRoM
DRSr,.rrrn's (lt-t-usrnzcrtolJFRoMD RSr'ltrn's C r-rssrca I

Naiad,s,especially,werehelpJuland CLAssr( L DrcnoNARY, l89l ) DrcrroNARY.


1891)
healing nurturing fruits,flowers
and mortak Yet theyouth Hylas
who went to draw waterJroma
poolwasluredby the nymphsinto
thewaterand neverseenagatn
(HYtAs AND rHE WArER NyrilpHS ByJ W

WArERHousE, c NvAs, c 1890 )


CTeSSIcAL MyrHoLoGY

PAt'l (abarc) playshs pipesat dush '4sa


spint oJthe darhforest,he oJtenstartled
solitary trav ellers,arousingsuddenawe
and panic He is usuallydepictedwith
shagt head, goat's horns and hocves,
dancing or playing a synnx (tLLUsrMrroN
nnov TnNclrwooD TALES. c 1920 )

PAN was the son of the messen-


ger god HERIvfEs. fu the Greek god
of the mountainside, the pastures
of sheep and goats,he was himself
goat-homed and goat-legged.Pan
was gspecially associated with
Arcadia, the mountainous smte in
cenral Peloponnese. He was play-
ful and energedc,but very irritable,
especiallyif disturbed during his
aftemoon nap. He liked to play on
a pipe, which was known as a
syrinx after a nymph of that name
who tumed herself into a reed-bed
to avoid his advances. For Pan
could also be a frightening god
when he blew on his conch Our

PANDORA(below)," all-g1fs",wasthe
firstwomantaappearonearth,createdby
thegodstoworhmischieJJor men word "panic" derives from this order t6.'upset PROMETHEUS, the PARIS (abwe), the judgeoJa diinebeauty
Inepressibly cuious,shecouWnotresist aspect of his diviniry His worship Greekgod of fire and friend of men. contest,choseAphroditeas thewinnq
opainga sealed jar, containingthe
horors spread from Arcadia to Athens When she went to live zrmongmen, becausesheoflredhim the woril'sJairest
andsichness,
of life: stnJe sorrov,t
andgneJ. immediately after the Athenian and she was given a grft from the gods woman Behind her, wse Athena had
(luusrncttou sv NrcxBEA!f. 1945) Plataeanvictory over the Persiansat which was a sealed jar that con- promtsed hirn Jame, whib quenly Hua
Marathon in '180 BC, because he tained all the misfortunes of exis- had offeredhim pwr. (TueJuoceueur
or
made the Persiansflee in panic. He tence. But soon Pandora's great PARrs BYJE{N REGN ULT, C/.I,wAS, 1820 )

rendered a similar service for ZEUS curiosity overcamea natural fear of


during the battle against CRONOS what might be inside, and she PnruS was one of the fifry sons of
and the TITANS.His conch deeply broke the seal, releasing solrow, King PRTAMof Troy. According to
worried kus' opponents. diseaseand conflict. As a result, the the Greeks, he was responsible for
men who originally comprised the causing the Trojan War. Paris was
PnNOORA was the Greek Eve, human race gained a monal, female a very handsome young man and
the bringer of all sorrows for companion, but also untold woes. wooed HELENso well thar she left
manhnd. She was the first woman Appropriately, the name Pandora her husband trlrrunutus, hng of
and was created by HEPHAISTOS, means "all gifts" - the bad as well Sparta, and fled with her lover to
the smith god, on ZEIIS'orders in as the good. Troy. His unusual attracdveness

70
CInSSICAL MYTHoLoGY

was believed to have been a gift By favour of Poseidon the


from APHRODITE, the goddess of restoredPelopsbecamefamousas
love. In retum for choosing her as a champion charioteer,which was
the fairestof goddesses,Aphrodire an accomplishmenr thar the
offered Paris the most beautiful ancient Greek regardedas one of
woman in the world, Helen. the greatest So when Oenomaus,
During the long siege of Troy king of Elis, offered his daughter
Pariscut a poor figure as a warrior. Hippodameia in marriageand also
His singlecombar with Menelaus, his lands to anyone who could
Helen's husband, was supposed to defeathim in a chariotrace,Pelops
have settled the outcome of the acceptedthe challenge But he had
whole war. Instead it revealedParis to agree that Oenomaus could
as a coward, who only escaped shoot an arrow at him if he caught
with his life through the interven- up with his chariot Thirteen con-
tion of Aphrodite. As a resuh, rhe testantshad aireadyperished
Trojan champion HECTOR,his It was said that Pelopsbribed a
eidest brother, treated him very certain Mptilus, rhe king's chano-
badiy [t was an irony of fare thar a PEGASUS, a magnificentwingedhorse, The seagod eosuDoN so loved teer, to remove the linchpins from
poisoned arrow shot from Paris' dips and divesthrough theJlamesof the Pelopsthat he sezed rhe youth and his master'schariot, but when he
bow should have found the one ftre-breathingmonster,the Chimaera On carried hlm off ro Mounr Olympus won Pelops refused to acknowl-
vulnerable spot on the mighty his bach,Bellerophonurgeshim on The Possibly because of this divine edge this assistance ln different
Greek champion ACHILLES,his hero had successJully tamed Pegasuswith a favour shown to his son, Tantalus versions of the story, he either
heel Parishimself was hlled by an goldenbidlegvn tohimby Athena was honoured by the gods as no rhrew Myrtilus into the sea,or he
arrow, pnor to the fall of Troy (lrrusrncrro^J FRoM TANGLEwooD TALEs. c 1920 ) other morral He was allowed to ear spurned him As a consequence,
nectar and ambrosia,the immortal the father of Myrtilus, who was the
PeStPHeE, in Greek mythology, shown to himself Pasiphaewas to food servedto the deities on their messengergod HERMES, saw thar a
was the daughter of Hruos, rhe be stncken with a passionatedesire mountain home But Tantalus fell curse afflicted the descendanrsof
sun god, and wife of MINos, hng of for the bull. In order to gratify her from divine favour and suffered Pelops The consequencesof this
Crete The seagod rosrlDoN sent lust, the greatcrafsman DAEDALUS etemal torrnent as a result curse on the house of AIREUS,
a white bull as a sign of Minos' made a cow, inro which Pasiphae Accordrng [o one version of the Pelops'eldestson and the fatherof
right to rule the island, but the king fitted and so could mate with the myth, Tanulus cut up, boiled and AGAMEMNON, is the basis for thar
refused to sacnfice the animal bull Later, she gave birth to rhe served his own son Pelops to the family's tragic story
when it emergedfrom the waves, MINOTAUR ("Minos' Bull"), which gods in order to test their om-
and Poseidonpronounced a curse was kept in rhe Labynnth niscience Only DEMETER, the god- PELOPS, in thewinnrngchanot, races
in anger at the lack of respecr dessof vegetation,partook of the alongtheGreeh.
trach,Jastoutstipprnghts
PECnSUS, in Greek mythology, feast,inadvertentlyeatinga piece of ival Oenomaus,whosechanotswewesand
PASIPHAE, queenoJCrete,wasdrawn was the flytrg horse belonging to Pelops'shoulder Later,when the crashesPelops'white shoulderwas madeof
irresistibly
toa mystmous whitebullwhich the Connthian hero BELLEROPHONgods retumed the youth to life, the ivory,Jashionedby thegodsafterhe had
emrged fromthewavesShedorcloped a The winged steed was born from missing piece of his body was beenpartly eatenby Demeter (Iuu-srR.anor
strangepassionJorthebull,andfrom hu blood which spilled from the sev- repiacedby ivory avGLrrux .1995
Srrw,cno, )
unionwtththecreature sheborea dreadJul ered head of the GORGON Medusa,
bull-man,theMinotaur,whowashept who was alreadypregnanr by rhe
hiddenin anunderground maze sea god PoSEIDoN(a deiry always
(lrrusrRertorusv NrcxBEArr 1995) associatedwith bulls and horses)
Bellerophon was given a magic
bridle byATHENAro help him tame
PegasusWhen the hero tried ro fly
to Mount Olympus, Pegasusthrew
him on rhe instrucrion of zrus

PEIOPS was rhe son of Kirg


TANTALI/S, rhe ruler of a kingdom
in fuia Minor Pelops'nameis still
recalledin the Peloponnese("rhe
isle of Pelops"),which is rhe large
peninsulaof southem Greece
ClnssrcAL MvrHoLoGY

PENEIOPE was the daughrerof


Icarius, king of Sparta, and a
nymph Peribaea As the faithful
wife of ooYssrus, the ruler of
Ithaca,she was celebratedfor her
patience in waiting almost twenty
yearsfor his retum from Troy Beset
by suitors, Penelopekepr them at
bay for a long time by prerendingto
weave a shroud for her father-rn-
law Laertes Each night she would
secretly unravel the day's work
Eventually,rhe retum of Odysseus
savedher from an enforcedsecond
marriage,but she remained cold
towards her saviour until she was
absolutelycertain of his identity
Peneloperefused to be convinced
that the new arrival really was
Odysseusuntil he describedtheir
bed, carved in part from a tree
trunk still rooted in the ground

PenSePHONE was the daugh-


ter of zp,Ltsand DEMETER, the eanh
goddess,and becamequeen of the
underworld as the abductedwrfe of
HADESAccording to the Greeks,
Zeus promised his beautiful daugh-
ter to Hadeswithour consuldngher
mother When Hades rose from rhe
underworld and took his bride by
force, Demeter was beside herself
wrth grief The goddesswandered
the earth searchingfor her daugh-
[er, two burning torches in her
hands As a result the land was no
longer ferrile Plans wrlted, animals

PENELOPE (nght),pattentwtJeof PERSEUS and Andromeda (above)peer

Odysseus,shared herhusband's clev


emess rn
glngerlyat theJaceoJMedusa,reJlected

Duinghislongabsence, shehepthermany thewater Bume-Jones' Medusarecallsthe

at baybyrefusrng
suitors to matryunttlshe tranquil an and death-lthebeau4toJthe

hadcompleted a shroudwhtchshesecretly GreehMedusascawedon amuletsand

unravelledeachnight,untilthesuitors charms,whichremrndus that shewasonce

discovered her ploy (luusrn,rrto^/Fno,vs tt.rrtt,s beauttful (THrBartrut HI:AD BtiRNE-


ByEDMUND

r , n o vH o u t , n . . 1 8 8 5 ) Jorurs, caNves,188/)

PERSEPHONE (Jar ngh), goddess


of
death,spentthe winter rn the underworld,
nsing eachspnng to live with her mother,
the goddessoJcorn Shesymbolizesthe
seed-cornthat is buned, nsesandJalls
agarnin a q,cleof constantrenewal- a
themecentralto the Eleusianmysteies
( P t ' R S t , p H o N l . M A R B L E ,D E T A I L ,c +90 BC)

72
ClnssrcAL MvrHoLocY

bore no offspringand death sulked First he visited the Grarae.three oldsaved the beauriful erupRoMEDA her his second wife He seems to
mankind. In rhe end, Zeus was hags who shared a single eye from a seamonster, he married her, have abandonedher sisterARIADNE
obliged to intervene and ruled that Perseusseized the eye and obliged but severalpeople had to be tumed not long after she helped him kill
Persephone should spend rime the Graiae to tell him about the to stone before he and his bride the MINOTAUR,the bull-headed
each year with both her husband nature of the Gorgons, their three retumed safely to Danae Having creature kept in the Labynnth at
and her mother. Persephonecould dreadful sisters. retumed his magrcalequipmenr ro Knossos Like her mother Pasiphae,
never return entirely to the living Most important of all, they HERMES, the messenger god, who gave birth to the Minotaur,
world because she had eaten in informed him how a direcr glance Perseusvisited Argos only to find Phaedrawas soon overcomeby an
Hades' realm: avery old idea that from Medusa's eyes would turn that Acrisius had already fled to illicit desire.It was not for an ani-
snicdy divided the food of the dead him to stone. He also received l-arissaon hearing of his grandson's mal this time, but for her srepson,
from that of the living three useful gifts from some friend- arrival The prophecy was lulfilled, Hippolytus, the son of Theseus'
The story of Persephone's ly nymphs: a cap of invisibility, nevertheless, when Perseus was earliermarriageto the queen of the
abduction, disappearance and winged shoes and a bag for invited to compete in the gamesar AMAZ.ONS, Hippolyta. When she
retum parallels the fertiliry myths Medusa's head Ready for the Lanssaand his discus hit rhe old saw how Hippolytus was homfied
of West Asia. She may well have exploit at last, Perseusput on the man on the head by her passion for him, Phaedra
been a pre-Greek goddess,a deity shoes and flew to the Gorgon's Becauseof the accident the hero hanged herself and left a message
worshipped by earlier setrlers of cavein the far west. Careful not to chose to be king of Tiryns rather to Theseussaying that his son had
the counuywho was later incorpor- look at Medusa directly, he than Argos On hearing of their ried to rape her. Theseusexiled his
ated into Greek religion. Her asso- approached by watching her reflec- deathsAthena placed both Perseus son. who was later killed in a char-
ciation with the dead may have a tion in his shield Having cut off and Andromeda in the sky as con- iot accident In another version,
similar origrn. The Athenians, who Medusa'shead and stowedit in his srellations (Seealso HERoEs) Theseuscursed his son and asked
were originally a non-Greek speak- bag, Perseusflew awayunseen by POSEIDON to destroy Hippolytus,
ing people, referred to the dead as her rwo sisters. PHAEORA was the daughter of which he did by sending a sea-
"Demeter'speople" The chilling powers of rhe head Kirg MINOSand Queen PASIPHAE monster Phaedra, filled with
were used to good purpose by of Crete According to the Greeks, sorrow. then killed herself
PfnSnUS was the son of.zrus Perseuson his way home Having the Arhenian hero THEsEUS made
and oaruer, daughrer of Acrisius, PUegfUON was the son of rhe
king of Argos Danaehad been shur sun god HELIoS and Clymene,
up in a bronze tower in order to daughrer of ocnnlsos He drove his
thwart a prophecy that if she had a father's four-horse chariot so fast
son he would kill Acrisius. Bur that he lost control and threatened
Zeus visited her as a golden show- the world with a terrible heat ZEIJS
er and Perseuswas bom A tenifred stopped him with a thunderbolt,
Acrisius placed mother and son in which sent Phaerhon crashing to
a wooden chest and cast it on the the eanh The great god may have
sea.The protection of.Zeus,how- also flooded the earth in an attempt
ever, was enough to bring them to reduce rhe temperature Ir was
safelyto the shoresof the island of believed rhat Phaethon's mad
Seriphos, where Perseusgrew up exploit could be rraced in the
among fishermen shape of the Milky Way, while he
On reaching manhood Perseus was reflectedin the constelladonof
was sent by the local ruier, Auriga, the charioteer
Polydectes,to fetch the head of the
GORGON Medusa,avery dangerous THe PI-HADES were the seven
task. Luckily for the hero the god- daughrersof the Tiun ATl,As,and
dess ATHENAhated Medusa and were named Maia, Elecra, Taygete,
insrructed him how ro proceed Celeno, Merope, Asterope and
Alcyone They may have become
PHAEDRA,seenherewithhersister stars,or doves, in order to escape
Aiadneandhusband Theseus.wasthe from rhe passionateintentions of
unfortunate
daughter of KingMinos and Orion, the giant hunter Their
Queen Pasiphaeof CreteShe Jellin love appearancein the nighr s\y in May
Uthherstepson Hippolytus which coincides with rhe beginning of
oatually prarcdtobeherdownJall summer, and the constellation of
Cfnrsrus wtrH ARTADNE AND PHAEDM By BENEDETTO Orion then appears to be in
Gr,vluenr rHE youNGER, cet'tves, 1702 ) perpetualpursuir of them

73
CIASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

ZEUS took the slqy, FTADESthe


underworld and Poseidon the sea,
while the land was ruled by all
three It was agreedthat Zeus was
the senior deiry, though Poseidon
frequently assertedhis indepen-
dence Once he even chained up
Zeus. with the aid of HERA,Zeus'
wife, and his daughter ATHENA
Possibly becausehis element was
the tempestuoussea,Poseidonwas
thought of as an unruly god.
Earthquakeswere attributed to his
anger, and Hades was often afraid
that the roof of the underworld
would cavein becauseof the shak-
ing Poseidongave the earth PRIAM,thehingoJTroy, sa\tours
a
Poseidon was pictured riding moment ofrarepeacewithHelenonthe
rhe deep in a chanot pulled by citywalk,as shedescibes
thehingsand
golden seahorsesIn his handswas of theGreehhost,
chieJtains whocirclethe
a mighry trident, a weapon capable cityon theplainsbelow(IrtusrwroNFRoM
oFGREECF
of stirring the waters to fury, like SroRrES eruo
Ror'ar.
1930)
the sudden violence of an Aegean
storrn His wife was Amphitrite, a the Greeks,although the maritime
POLYPHEMUS, a one-qedg1ant,was in pain, but in responsero the other seanymph whose name recallsthat state of Athens did not always
love with the nymph Galatea,but she Cyclopes' questionshe cried our of the seamonster Triton This fear- enjoy the best reladonswith him
scornedhim,lovinginsteadthehandsome that he was being attacked by ful pre-Greek creature was tumed Because the Athenians chose
Acrs In a jealousrage,theglant crushed Nobody, so they went away, con- by the Greeks into the merman. Athena as the deity of their ciry,
Aciswith a roch;but Galateatumedher sidering him drunk or mad ln the One of Poseidon's children by Poseidon flooded the countryside
belovedinto a Srcilianiver beannghrs morning Polyphemusopened the Amphitrite bore this name undl Zeusbrought about an under-
ntme (PotypHr:MUS AND tHt- NvvpH G,qt,qrl-n av entrance to the cave to let out his However, the sea god had many standing The temple of Athena
ANNTBALE CARMCCT, rnrsc<1, c 1595.) flock and feit the back of each ani- other offspring by other partners. stood on the acropolis in Athens
mal as it passed to ensure no men He even mated with the GoRGoN and Poseidon'sown sanctuarywas
POI-YPHEMUS was rhe son of escaped But Odysseus and his Medusa, much to the annoyanceof conspicuously sited on Cape
POSEIDONand the sea nymph men tied themselvesto the under- the goddessArhena From the sev- Sunium, which majesticallyjuts
Thoosa He was a Cyclops, a one- sides of the sheep and managed to ered head of Medusa sprang the out into the AegeanSea
eyed giant, and was thoughr ro leave undetected For this crime winged horse PEGASUS, surely a Another naval power that
have lived on the island of Sicily againsthis son, Poseidonpromised favourite of Poseidon Worship of offended Poseidon was Crete
ODYSSEUS, during his longjoumey revengeon Odysseus the seagod was wrdespreadamong When its ruler, King MINoS,asked
home, came to the island and
asked for hospitality, but called POSgtoON was the son of
himseif Nobody Polyphemus CRoNos and Rnra He was the
indeed proved to be a dangerous Greek god of the sea, and the
hosr and treated rhe Greeksas part equivalent of the Roman NEPTUNE
of his flock, shutting them up in his He was panicularly associatedwith
cave and earing them one by one horses and bulls After the over-
for his evening meal Odysseus throw of Cronos, his three sons
dared not kill the Cyclops during divided the world between them:
the night becausehis men lacked
the strength ro move the boulder POSEIDON, godoJtheoceans,rodethe
blocking rhe entrance to the cave wavesin a chaiotdrawnbygoldmsea-
So Odysseus thought of a cunning ongedtident,
horsesWtthhisthree-pr
plan to enable their escape He got rymbolofhispower,heshatteredtherochs,
Polyphemus drunk on wine and calledJorth andshooh
storms theearth
then put out his single eye with a (Nr,pruNe AND Hls HORSES By E K BIRCE,

smke The rnjured grant roared wrrh cANvAs. c 1880)

74
CL,qssrc.{L MrrHOroGY

P S Y C H E r \ . . 1 -. s ob e a t t t r l u l t l r r t r A p / t i r r r l i t t

l r i ' t r : . l t t t/ ,d c t l o u -rst t t r l s c t t f h d s , , r r I r r , . s t t ,

i r r . s p r r tP s t c h e r r r r h r t | c r s s r 0 r r/ ( ) r r l l r r { t h

r i r r l r h L r t l t e u a s s o e r r t r ? n c c r lr r h t ' r r h , s r n r

l r er t h a t h e d r o p p e r l a n u n o l \ ( ) n h r s / ( ) ( ) t ,

and .softll tn love wrth hu hinr.srl/ Lr L n,,

tt tht ( - . .- \.( d - ^ . J ft L^, l. . a J<r 5j tot .n . ; rr ryr rhl riLr n h r r l l


J r / L r l t
5 L , u

cmcrged from thc \\ a\ es Rclrgrous


( llslom rpallired MtnOSt() s.tenficL'
the anrmal. but he chose not tcldo
so, \\,'rth the result that his o\\'n \\'rfe
P A . S I P H AbEe c a m e t h e b u l l ' s l o r . e r
f h c i r q r. r* ,2. f ]n. o en n i { ) n n r r r d r , , ' , 1r h c
IllNOlALrR. the bull-headed man
.'.....,",/
l

sl:1ln
l ( l

n\' *\f nPnl2fl


I

f-|[fqt lHl\l,t \

(See alsoFORCE.S
OF\A f L.R!)

PruenA was rhe son of Laomedon


^ hr P l l J( .r t. ^r 'l -l u
c, ,l .l 1l L .rrrh. r, r' f. r. rr )- u
.. , 1r .dtu, ,B, lr rt t,r L
\'. L ' .t

of the Rrver Scamander 81, the trme

of the Tro.lan War Pnam, rhe krng


. . r fT r o ) ' . \ \ ' a s a l r c a d y a n t r l d m a n .
lathcr ol'fift1 sons. >t)mc hy his
qllcen Hecuba. thc rcst b; ..'ther
\\'omen Although hc disapproved
of the confllct urth the Greeks and
lts callse, Pnam rvas alu,ays krnd to
H E It \ throughout the l()ng5icge
Shc had eloped to Troy wrth his
son PARIS Pnam was killed in the
courtyard of hrs palace whe n the
Greeks sacked Tro1,

PROUETHEUS was a son of rhe


IITAN Iapetus and one o[ the older
Greek gods who sided wlth zEU-sin
his fight against hrs father cRONoS
His fame was due to his affection
for mankind, to whom he gave fire
Zeus, the leader of the new and
stronger gods, had hrdden fire
away, but Prometheus stole it and
brought lt to earth wrh hrm But mrghtrer rhan his farher 81'mai<rng l r f e, b u t o t h e r g r f t s* e r c p c r h a p s s en t h e r s o n L I I ( ) \ t o r . n l i k cP s v c h c
this drew Prometheus into confhct sure that Thetis married a morral iess hclpful O ut of the fl am r ng l r r l l r n l o v c r i i t h t h e r r g l r t ' s lt r - c . I t u l - c
wrrh Zeus, who chained the rebel- ruler, the newly 'urctonous gods forgecameweaponsof rvarr,pltrs ali he could lincl Brrt rvhcn Eros sar,r'
lious Titan to a rock and senr an protected themselves because her the mr sene sthat l ol l or vr hc di s m p- hcr hc fcll rn ltrrt' .rflclforgor his
eagle to ear his liver As rhis organ son turned out to be the warrior tion of'a simple wa1'of hfc mother's commancl Thcl' became
was immortal, it grew at nrght as ACHILLES, an inr.rncrble bur nor lovers, rhor-rgh Eros ftrrbadc Ps,vche
fast as the bird could consume rr by immorral fighter PSYCHE in GreekrehgrousbcheI e v e r t o l o o k r - r p t , r -hi r m \ \ ' h e n a t
day Prometheus was oniy released Zeus' anger wrth mankrnd was was the "sou1" ,br - r tr n m ) 'thol og) ' l a s r s h e d i c l . h c f l c c l i n f c a r o I n ' h a t
when he gave Zeus the informarron on occasron explained by poor sac- she was r ep r es entedas a pnnc c s s A p h r o d i t c r i o u r L d c l o t o h r m n o u '
that the sea nymph rHEris. whom nfices Bur Prometheus himself was so beautrfulthat peopleadorcclhcr t h e s e c r et \ \ ' l i s ( ) u t l n t h e e n d .
- fo
both Zeus and posrtDoN were pur- not a strarghtforward helper errher r nsr eadof a puR c tptr u put an hor.vever, .rirt r.\ lgrccd that the
suing, would give birth to a son He gave [ire, an essenria] of cnrhzed cncl to thrs s ac r i l egc ,A;r hr oc l r tc I r l r ' c r sr ' t ' u l J h t ' r r n i t r ' d l ( ) r e t e r n i t ) '

75
CIeSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

GIANTS
IANTS SYMBOLIZE IMMENSE PR1MAL
forces, neither good nor bad, but
Iarger than life. While Greek
grants could be "g.ntle"
guardians, such as TaloS,the gigantic
bro nze man who defended the island of
Crete, others, such as Geryon, were
predators, preying on unwary travellers.
Equally, the Cyclopes were orginally creative
beings, making armour and omaments in the
forge of Hephaistos, and building the
rnassive city walls of Tiryns . Later on they
were also portrayed as moody, rebellious
shepherds who igtored divine laws and
preyed on monals. The gods themselves are
g i g a n r i c , e s p e c ia I I y t h e o l d e r g o d s ,
reflecting their primal nalure, such as
the Titans, and the Giants, who were
beings with mighry torsos and snake-like
legs. The Titans overthrew their father
Ouranos, replacing him with Cronos, who
was in his turn dethroned by his son
Zeus. Such a cosmic struggle between
older primal gods and a younger
generation is a common feature in
world mythology.

ATIAS (nght), the"bearer"or "endurer", bore theheavenson his


us puntshmentfor havingfought agatnstZeus with the o
shoulders,
thatgr
dwrne Titans ThemythprobablyaroseJrom thermpressron
reJ
mountainsbear theheavensIn anotherstory,Atlcs, becausehe
Perseusshelter,was tumed to a stonymountatn,namedafter htm
globe showingthe
Here, the heavensare depictedas a celestral
constellattons (THE FARNESE ATLAS, M^RBLE, c AD 200 )
ClassrcAr- MyrHoLoGy

THE CYCLOPES

Jabulousraceof
AeJt),
one-qed glants,were
initrally regardedas
creativecraJtsmen
who
helpedHephaistosin his
volcantct'orge,crat'ttng
specialarrnour, suchas
Hades' rnvrstblehelmer
Zeus'thunderbolt
and
Poseidon's
tndent Yet
thq were alsoportrayed
aslawless,
man-eattng
shepherdsOne such,
Polyphemus,
herelooms
over Odysseusandhts
comradeswho have
rashlystrayed tnto his
den QtrusrurtoN FRIM

SroRrrsrnov Hovr-n, .1885)

ORION (abwe lef), who wasoneof Posadon'sunruly sons,w4s a glganticand handsomehunter, who couldwalh CACUS (above),sonoJ Hepharstos,
and a goat-hheg1ant,prryedon
through the oceanswithhis feet on the seabedand hrsheadabwe the waves Lrhehtsglant brother, the one-eyed human berngswho strayedLtyhtscavenear Rome Cucusstole
Polyphemus,Oion wasblindedin a quarrel,but his Ees werehealedby the radianceof the sungod Hehos There Geryon'sredcattleJrom Heracleswhrlehe slept,and hid them in his
are many diffenngstonesconcerninghis
death,but accordingtoone myth,thelwe that Eos,the goddess oJ the cave Howater,thecattlebeganto bellowand Heraclescameand
dawn,felt for Oion was suchthat it causeddivine lealouryuntil Artemtswaspersuadedto shoothim with an slayedCacus,retnevrngthe cattle that he had onglnally stolent'rom
arrov/ on behalfoJthe gods He wasthen raisedto the starstoJorm a constellation(IttusrwrrctN
0yNrcKBEALE,
tg95) Geryon (Hr,naclt-s SLcys r r-1, GL,rr r C,rcus av GLluaerrtstt leNcErrt, c 1670 )
CInSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

PYCN4ALION was a king of


Cyprus According to rhe Greeks,
he commissioned an ivory statueof
his ideal woman, sinceno real one
measured up to his expectations
Nor surpnsingly, Pygmalion fell
hopelesslyin love with rhe statue,
an even more unsatisfactory fate
than he had prevrously suffered
Becauseof his obviously genuine
disappointment, the love goddess REMUS nNn ROMULUS (obove)were

APHRODITT brought the statue to setadift on the Tiber by Amulius,but the

life and made it love him Some va- cradlecameashoreandwasJoundby a she-

ditions tell how the couple had a wolf. The nvins Qef) march tnumphantly

daughter named Paphos,who gave from Alba Longa On theleft, Romulus


her name to the town bearsaloft theheod oJ their treachrous
uncle, Amulius On the nght, Remus

PYTHON AND
SCC MON5TER5 carnesthewildhead of Camers,a piest
BEASTS
FABULOUS thehingto drwn the wins
who counselled
(li-rusrnerrorus FROM [AYs oF ANCIENT ROME, 188] )

were
Rruus AND ROtr,tut-uS
rhe rwrn sons of nnr,,4SILVIAand RHEA SILYIA (below),a vestalvirgn,

MARS,and rhe two founders of waslovedbyMars,andborehim twin sons,

Rome Rhea Silvia had been the Romulusand Remus For violating the laws

only child of King Numitor of Alba oJher holy order, shewasthrown into the

Longa When Numitor's brother Ttber, but the god oJ the nver, Tibernus,

AMULIUSdeposed him, he also sayedand mamed her (t'lenswrrnRnreSIrwe

forced Rhea Silvia to become a BYFMNcEsco DEL CossA FREsco,1476)

Vestal Virgrn, thereby ensuring rhat


rherewould be no other claimant
to the throne But the war god
Mars raped her in his sacredgrove,
and Rhea Silvia gave binh to
Romulus and Remus
Amulius ordered his servans to
hll the new-bom nvins. but instead
they cast them on the Tiber Their
cradle was carried swrftly away and
evenrually came to rest on a mud-
bank To look after his children
Mars sent his sacred animal, the
wolf Later Romulus and Remus
were discoveredin the wolf s lair by
a shepherd named Faustulus,who
took rhe foundlings home So they
were raised as shepherds,although
the ability of the brothers to lead
others, and to fight, eventually
became widely known. One day
Numiror met Remusand guessed
who he was and so the lost grand-
children were reunited with him,
but they were not content to live
quietly in Alba Longa. Insread,they
went off and founded a ciry of their
own - Rome A quanel, however,

78
ClessrcAL MyrHoLoGY

SARPEDON is lifted by Thamtos (Death) Rnnn SLVIA*as rhemotherof


andllypnos (Slap) from thebattlfield of REMUSAND ROMULUSShe was the
Troy This Lyatn rulq, an ally of the only child of Numitor, the king of
Trqans, waslater confusedwithZats' son Alba Longa. When he was deposed
of the samename lu:usrtAnoNFRoM
sroRrEs by his younger brother AMIJLIUS,
FRoM HoMER, .1885)
the new king forced Rhea Silvia to
become a Vestal Virgin. However,
eruued and Romulus hlled Remus, Amulius could not guaranteeRhea
possiblywith a blow from a spade. Silvra'sprotection from the atten-
Though he showed remorse at rhe tions of the gods and she was raped
funeral, Romulus ruled Rome wirh by MARSin his sacred grove. Her
a srong hand and rhe ciry flour- twin sons were rhen cast into the
ished. It was a haven for runaway swollen Tiber, where she may have
slavesand other fugitives, bur suf- been drowned
fered from a shortage of women,
which Romulus overcame by Rouurus seeREMU5
arranging for the caprure of
Sabinewomen at anearby fesdval. SnnPfOONwasthesonof.zrus
After a reign of forty years he and ruRoPA. He was adopred by
disappearedto become, some of Asterius, king of Crete. Sarpedon
his subjecs believed, the war god quanelled with ond of his brothers,
Quirinus. MINOS,over the throne of Crete
The Romulus and Remus mFh and fled to Asia Minor, where he
was as popular as rhar of erruras. founded the Greek ciry of Miletus
From the beginning of republican It is said that Zeus allowed him to
times, around 507 gc, the she-wolf live to a great age
became the symbol of Roman
nationhood. (Seealso FoUNDERS) S,qfUnN was an ancient Italian
com god, the Roman equivalent of
RPtnaI,lANTHyS was rhe son the Greekgod cnoruos, though he
of ruRopa and zEUs, and the had more in cornmon with the
brother of tvrlos and seRpEDoN. goddessDEMETERHe was believed
According ro one radition he mar- ro have ruled the eanh during a losr
riedarcuENE after the dearh of her Golden Age. His fesrival, the
husband Amphitryon. Others say Satumalia,was celebratedin Rome
rhat he was one of the rhreeJudges over sevendays and was held at the
of the Dead and lived in the para- end of December
dise of Elpium, in the far wesr
Tnf S.qfYnS were the wild
Rnnn was the daughter of spirirs of Greek and Roman wood-
Ouranos and cen. fu the wife of lands Their bestial nature was
CRONOS, she bore six children, rhe shown in their horse-like or goat-
heanh goddessHesria, the goddess like appearance.They were mainly
of vegetation DEMETER, the earth associated wirh DIoNYsus, rhe
goddessHEM, the underworld god Greek god of vegerarion,wine and
FtADEs,rhe seagod rosaDoN and ecstasy,and played a crucial role in
zEus, the skygod. Cronos, having his festivals.(Seealso MONSTERS
leamed chat one of his children ANDFABULOUS BEASTS)
would depose him, swallowed all
of them, except for Zeus, as they SATURN,"thesower", wasalsoregarded
were bom. Rhea substiuted rhe asanearlyhingoJIntiumdunnga lost
babyZeus with a stone wrapped in GoldenAgeHere,withhisdaughterJuno,
swaddling clothes. He was rhen heisweaingexoticrobes,
relectingthe
mken to the island of Crete, where RomanbelieJthathewasaJoreignerwho
the worship of Rhea was norable, jed to Latium to escape Zeus guNo nlro

and was secredyraised. Serunn ByPAoLoyERoNEsE. .1553-55)


c,qruv,qs

79
C lessr (.Ar My I H or-oc,\'

scnu see\.10\-\
rER,s
Ar\r) SIBl'I- tht' gftttl.st'o /orctold rhr (ie.stur\
FAI]t/l ()Lr5BEA-S
l -5 r r f R r r r i r t t t sp r e d r r t t ' r 1i n t h t - S i h - l l r n eB o o h s

r y h r rh h t t u m e a t , r t u l s ( ) r 1 1e o / r e l i g r o u s

Sruelg s e e L c ) \ ' r r R -OSI . 7 E L ' , - S r n . s 1 ) l lfili( ) n t t n r i g r r r i L r t t , r ' \ i r r \ r ' ' r . r r r R LL r . '

StnYl, rn Roman myrhology, was


rhc prophcrcss nho d r , ' , 'let n c a r - S f S l ? H { I - S r l i r r h r \ 1 r / n t / t r a f u r ts t r r /

Cumac, rn southem italy' ()t-r. ,rt. r i t ( ' n t r (l i . \| L r n t . S h t ' ,/ 1r r r h r S . s r r r .hS b t ' r r r {

explarns hou, shc became rmmortal .(rrrir nttfr/ frrrn'r'r tir f ri.\h rt nrarhlt' hlor h

b r - r ts t i l l s r e w o l d
c)
She refused tfrc np tt hrll oniy to .set it rrri/ down agtnn

favour.s of ,qpttl i rt, rhe gocl ol /l I i \ lli \ ll, 'r nt \tr A Ill.1l / l')')i

prophecl-, so he condemned her rcr


an endless old agc -Shevu'asalready \\'hcn the offer rv:is refused. Srby.l
ancient when AENFASconsulted bun-rcd three books and offered rhe
her about hrs visit to the under- other srx at the samc pnce, br-tt rhe
world Another story concems rhe offer was strll refr-rsed. so rhree
famous Srbyllinc Books, u hrch more \\'ere burnt and thcn she
were a collection of oracles thar offered the last three at rhe ongrnal
detailed Rome's destiny These ^;.-.- I- L^-,^ .he Romans closed
rLL rl l Ila)Lt L
Pr

were offered fbr saic ro Rome dur- the deal before all the rrreplaceable
rng the rule of thr Erruscan krngs oracles were totalll' destroved

80
CInSSICAL MyTHOLOGY

THE SPHINX, or throttler,perchedon a


rochat a passto the cil oJThebesand
challengedall travellerswith a nddle,
da,ouing all whoJailedthe test In
Moreau's chtllingscene,the queenly,Jeline
Sphinxpaws her victims (TurTnruurpHRur
Spnrrux nv GustrvE M1RFAU. wermcotoun. 1888 )

the widowed queenJocasta,and so


fulfilled his tragic desriny because
SILENUSwasajwial satyr,muchglvento the queen was his mother
sleepanddnnh Baldbuthairy,andasJat The Greek Sphinx should not
androundashiswine-bag,hewasmore be confused with the Egyptian
oftendrunhthansober,butwhen drunhor Sphinx. The Grear Sphinx at Grza
asleep,
hebecame aninspired
andmuch was the protector of the pyramids
prophet(Iuusrnenoru
sought-aJter rnov and scourge of the sun god Ra
DrlnoNnnv
oFCrAssrcAL
ANleurrEs,
i89i)
TAnPgfn was a Roman heroine,
SU-ENUS was variously described the daughter of Spurius Tarpeius,
as the son either of the Greek the commander of the Capiroline
messengergod HERMES, or of PAN, fortress at Rome She may have
the goatJike god of the pastures played a role in savrngthe city A
He was usually portrayed as the war berween Romans and Sabines,
elderly companion of oiolysus, a people of central ltaly, had been
the Greek god of vegetation,wine provoked by ROMULUS' abduction
and ecstasy.ln appearanceSilenus of Sabinewomen to provrde wives
was a fat, bald man with the tail for Rome's men One radirion says
and earsof a horse Becauseof the thar Tarpeialet the Sabinesinto her
hndness shown to Silenus by King father's fortress afrer making them
MIDASof Phrygia,Dionysusgranted promise to give her what they wore
the king his famous and shorr- on rheir lefr arms, their shields
sighted wish for a golden touch Another mentions only rheir
braceierc ln the first version the
STNENS SCC MONSTER5AND Sabinesrealued thar they had been
FABULOUS
BM5T5 tricked and threw their shields at
her and killed her The Romans
STSYPHUS was rhe son of King could not agreehow Tarpeiadied
Aelus of Thessalyand Enarete He nothing if he died, Sisyphussaid of a lion and the wings of a bird, but, whateverher motive was, real
was known to the Greeks as the that his bodywas unburied and the she was sent as a curse on the ciry traitors were always thrown from
craftiest of men. and suffered for customary offerings to the dead of Thebes by the goddess HERA the Tarpeian Rock
his rickery by endless labour in had not been made He must The Sphinx guarded a pass ro rhe
Tarurus, a place of punishment therefore see to the arrangemenrc city and asked all who wished to TARPEIA, o Romanherorne,wsscrushed
beneath the underworld. Sisyphus himself before he could be said to passa riddle Those who failed to oJtheSabines
todeathbytheshields as
is credited wirh the foundation of be truly dead Finally, Zeus lost give the correct answerwere eaten thrystormed thegates
through oJthe
Corinth. According ro one tradi- patience and condemned Sisyphus The riddle was: "What rhingwalks Capitohne
Jortress toone
According
tion, he angered zEUs by revealing to Tanarus ro pay for his lifelong on four legs in the morning, on shehadluredtheSabines
legend, to
insrde,
that the god had abducred the impiety. For the rest of etemiry he three in the evening, and is weak- l{efor Rome
trapthem,soglvingher
daughter of a river god. Zeus there- had to roll a block of stone to the est when ir walks on four?" The (l[rrsrnarro,r' FRoM STORTF-st nov Ltr r J885 ]

fore sent Thanatos,god of death, to top of a hill only to seeit roll back correct answer was Man, because
take Sisyphus to the underworld again as it reached the crest he walks on four as a baby and
Somehow the ingenious hng tem- Ieans on a stick in old age When
porarily made Thanaros his own THE SPHINX, according ro OEDIPUS gave the correct answer,
prisoner. When the gods again Greek mythologlr, was the daugh- the Sphinx hurled herself over a
claimed him, Sisyphus tricked ter of Echidna, either by rrrHoru or cliff and died As a reward for
HADESinto letting him retum to by Onhus. A monsterwrth the face destroying rhe monster, he was
earth. Having told his wife to do and breasts of a woman, the body made king of Thebes and mamed

8l
ClessrcAL MvrHoLocY

TAnqurNtus Supennus THESEUS was the son either of retrieved the sword and sandals TARQUINfUS SUPERBUS,a crueland
was rhe sevenrhand last Etruscan POSEIDONor AEGEIISthe king of On his joumey to Athens he slew ryrannicalhing sireda no lesscrueland
king of Rome, who reigned in the Athens His mother was Aethra several desperatebandits, a f.ear- ignoble son, Tarquinius Sextus,who raped
sixrh century ec His youngestson, The childlessAegeusconsulted the some son of HEPHAtsros,and a the Roman matron, Lucretia She,in
Tarquinius Sextus,causedthe end Delphic Oracle and was told not to dreadful sow, the daughter of the shame,hilled herselJ.Theoutrageprw ohed
of rhe monarchy by raping the untie his wine skin undl he monster ITPHONAt Eleusis.then an uprisingand Tarquiniuswas
Roman matron LUCRETIA, which retumed home He did not under- a kingdom separatefrom Arhens, werthrown (TnrRape
oFLucRErA
ByPALIrL
caused BRUrus to lead a rebellion stand what the oraclemeant and so Theseuswas forced to acceprthe
Tarquinius was defeated and the visited his friend Ki.g Pittheus of challenge of a wrestling match with
Roman republic was established Troezen Realizingthat Aegeuswas its king, Cercyon The aggressive the king recognizedhis sword as
going to beget a powerful son ruler died as a result of rhe conresr, the hero carved the meat. The plot
TARQUINIUSSE)ffUS, asheJIedthe immediately after the celebration so Theseusbecameking of Eleusis, was revealed, Medea fled from
battleJield
oJLaheRegrllus,wasstruch feast for his saferetum to Athens, which he later added to the Athens with her son, and Aegeus
from behindHisingloiousdeathwas Pittheusmade his guestdrunk and Athenian kingdom named Theseusashis successor
recountedrn Macaulay'slcys:"Andin the put him to bed with his daughter On his amval in Athens. The next cycle of Theseus'
bach felt theRoman
JalseSextus / And
steel Aethra, and so Theseuswas con- Theseus leamed that his father explois was designed to securethe
wng;lingin thedusthedied,lihe a worm ceived Beflorehe left for home, Aegeuswas hardly able to hold on saferyof Athens First, he deahwith
beneath the wheel " (lur'.srncl,r," rno,u L.rysor, Aegeustook the pregnantAethra to to the throne Not only was the Pallas' sons. Then he killed a wild
ANL[,NTR()Mr:.l88i ) a great boulder undemeath which apparently heirless hng challenged bull that was ravagingMarathon, [o
he placed his sword and sandals by the fifry sons of his half-brother the north-east of the city. He also
He told her that, should she have a Pallas,but, worse sdll, Aegeushad overcame the MINOTAUR,the
son, she must wait until he was fallenunder the spell of unDEA,the srrange offspring of p,qstpHnE, the
strong enough to raise the boulder former wife of;asoN and a power- wife of Kirg MINos of Crete. An
before she senr him ro his farher's ful witch She hoped that her own annual ribute of youngAthenians
court After Aegeus'departurethe son Medus would succeedAegeus was fed to the Minotaur, which
wily Pitrheus said his daughrer's Although Theseus hid his rrue lived in the Labyrinth rhat had
lover was really Poseidon identity, Medea knew who he was been designed by oAEDALUS. No
When Theseus came of age, and persuaded Aegeus to let her one had ever managed to find their
Aethra explained that he was heir poison the mighty stranger at a way through this maze, so when
to the Arhenian rhrone and he banquet Theseuswas savedwhen Theseus volunteered to confront
ClessrcAL MyrHoLoGy

THESEUS'uploitsareillustrated onan
inticateRomanmosaicAt thecentreof
thelabynnthTheseus withthe
battles
MinotaurOntheleJt,Theseus and
Anadne pledgetharlweat thealtar,
whileat thetop,TheseussetsAiadne
ashore,desmingtheunfortunate matden
on Dia,on thenght trHrE)clorrs
oFTHEsEUs,
MosArcc AD200)

the Minotaur his farher despaired


It was agreed that if Theseus
should, by some miracle, suwive,
he was to change the sail of the
tribute ship from black to white on
the homeward voyage
At Minos' palacein Knossosthe
goddessAPHRODITE gaveTheseus
an invaluable ally in ARIADNE,a
daughter of the Cretan king who
fell in love wrth the hero Princess
Ariadne knew that the Labynnrh
was so complex that the only way
out was to follow back a rhread
fastened to the entrance After
Theseus had promised to marry
her, Anadne gave him a ball of near Athens But discord enrered was so humiliated by his rejection version, Hippolytus was hlled by a
rhread and a sword The hero his own house when his second that she hanged herself and left sea monster rhar was raised by
entered the Labynnrh, slew rhe wife PFiAEDM,another daughter of Theseus a letrer in which she Theseus'anger,and Phaedra,filled
Minotaur and rhen set sail for Minos, came to desireher stepson accusedHippolytus of artempted with remorse,killed herself
Athens with Ariadne and the rest of Hippolytus, to lhe young man's rape He was exiled and died in a Theseuslater seizedthe twelve-
the Athenian parry He rhen lefr the horror Ahhough he promised ro chanot accident before his father year-oldHELEN,daughterof zELls,
princess on the nearby island of keep her passiona secre[,Phaedra discovered the truth In another as a future wrfe He ciaimed that
Dia h is thought rhat he was in only she was worthy enough to be
love with another woman, but his wrfe, possibly becauseof her
whatever the reasonhe was soon divine father But she had powerful
repaid for his heardessnessfu the hnsmen, and her rwo brorhers,the
ship approachedAthens, Theseus DIOSCURI, defeatedthe Athenians
forgot to changethe sail ro indicate and drove Theseusabroad He died
to his farher that he was alive on the island of Scpos, when its
Aegeussaw a black sail and, think- ki.g, fearingthe presenceof such a
ing his son dead, threw himself off man, pushed him over a cliff as he
the Athenian acropolis admired the view k was believed
The suicide meanr thar Theseus that in the fifrh cenrury BC, rhe
was now king of Athens, and he Athenian admiral Cimon wenr ro
joined all the communidesof Attica Scy'ros and brought the hero's
into one scate Apart from enlargrng bones back to Athens, where they
Athens' territory, Theseus also were kept in a shrine
undertook a number of heroic
exploits On one expedirion he THESEUS aruoSINIScircleeachother
captured Hippolyta, the queen of in a battleof witsandwills Sinis,thepine-
TheAMAZONS, who bore him a son, bender,wasa robber whohilledbytyirg
Hippolytus, bur she died shorriy hts victim between two bent pine trees and
afrerwards Theseus gave rhe then letting them sping upnght, thereby
accursedoEDtPUsand his daughrer teaing the man apart (TurseusANr)SrNrs,
ANTIGONE sancruaryat Coionus. ( 490 BC )
RED-Frcr./RE.

83
FOIJNDERS
HEANCIENTsBELIEVED that many of their fabulous cities
were founded by the pioneering heroes and heroines
of legend,such as Cadmus of Thebesand Dido of I
Carth age. In Classical mythology, the heroic ethic \
combined with the Greek ideal of polis, or city-state, to
cre ate a varLety of dynamic founders who built such
celebrated cities as Athens, Mycenae, Sparta and Thebes.
The Greek polis was an autonomous, ind.penden[ / a
community of citizens, slaves and foreigners who gathered
within and around a fortified ciry. Each ciry honoured its own
hero who was also often its legend ary founder, such as Perseusof Cncnops (above),one oJthe
mythicJoundersoJ Athens,and the
Mycenae and Lacedaemon of Sparta. Mythic founders were first hing of Attica, is depicted with

innovative, godlike heroes, guided by destiny and deiry to createa d serpent'stail, recallinghis oigln
as an aboiglne of Attica He
fresh, vibrant culture. Apart from leading a ribe to a bright new dividedthe nativesinto twelve
communitiesandJoundedthe
land, and buildirg a strong citadel, founders often developed Acropolis,the strongholdoJAthenl

helpful new ways and customs: Cecrops of Athens, for instance, whichwas alsonamed Cecropia
aftu him An innovator, Cecrops
encouraged religious worship, while Cadmus of Thebes introduced abolishedbloodsocifce, encour-
agedtheworshipof Zzus and
an alphabet of L6 Phoenician letters. A city or ribe sometimes Athenaand introducedbasiclaws

honoured irc founder hero by sharing his name, such as llium, of property, politicsond mariage
(l[usrnenoru FROM DrcfloNARY oF

named after llus, the Ttojans after Tios, and Rome after Romulus. CrASslcAL ANTrqunrs, i89l )

ArHErus (ngh), the splendidcapital oJ Attica,


owed its oiglnboth to Cecrops,whoJounded
the ancientAcropolis,and to Theseus
who
united Attica's twelve statesinto one, and
made Athenstheir capital The ci1 divided
rnto the upper town, or Acropohs,and the
lowerwalledtown. as well as threeharbour
towns TheAcropolis,seenhere,riseson a
steeproch, its summit oncecrownedwith
sparhlingtemples Mostfamous oJ all was the
Parthenon,built oJPentelicmarble in pure
Doic styleand adomedwithinandwithout
with gllded and painted sculpture North oJ
the Parthenonrosea great statuteoJthe ciry's
Athena,whosehelmetand spearwere
goddess,
seenfrom the sea Athens,the arttstic centreoJ
the ancientworld, reachedits greatest
splendourin the time oJPmcles(160-429 sc)
(THE AcRopol,rs sv ClnL HaeG, ceNves, c 1890 )
SSICAL MyTH OLOGY

Rovurus (above),the mythicJounderof Ron1e,was


, wtth his twtn brother,Rernus
suchledatbtrth by a she-wolf
The tvvrnshad beencastinto the RiverTrberIry therrg'eat-
uncle Amuhuswho covetedthe throneof Alba Longa,but
theird:ine Jather,Mars, senthrssacredanimul,thewolf,
to savehis sons lLtter thetwinswere rescuedLrythe good
Roiur (above)
, theworld-ruItngcaprtalof Italy, situatetlon the RiverTrber,wasfoundedtn c AD 753 W the mythrchero, shepherdFaustuluswhorarsedthemas lus own Once
RomulusTheColosseum, seenhere,wusoneol the{eatest monumentsol theancrentci\, tmtiatedby theEmperor gowt1, theyleftAlba LongatoJound Rorne,but the
and inaugtratedby his son,Tttus,rn B0 ,qn Theggantrc amphttheatrewasdesrgned
Vespastan to accommodate87,000 belhgerent overthe stteand nune ol the
brothersbtckered
a centralarena In Jront of the amphttheatrenses the tnumphalArch of Titus,
around crrculartrers, overloohing
spectators future clqy,and Romulussbw Remus,settrngthewarlike
erectedtn eo 81, to celebrateTttus' vtctonouscampatgntn Judaea (\lru or rHr,C()Lossr,r rr KERIFL,
rMavLrpr cANvA.s
, 1846
) toneof thefuture ctty (lLLr
srnlrrorD)P4{l f{{)()r)norrr, )
c 1920

Tnov (above) or llium arose on the grassy plain oJ Troas lry

the Joot of Mount Ida Founded lry the mythrc hero, Ilus,

son ol Tros, the anctent ctty was named lltum and Trola

after both Jather and son The famous walls oJ Troy were
(above), Iegendary
Dtoo founder of Curthage ,supervr.ses a tedm of architects and masons on the leJt banh of the bay Dido butlt'by the gods, Poserdon and Apollo, rn the rergn of IIus'
had fled to Afnca from Tyre in Phoeniciu wherc her husband, Sychaeus. hud been murdered by her brother, \gmalion, who son, Inomedon The nextktng, Pnam, ruled danng the

coveted the throne oJ Tyre On the coast of North AJntu, the local king, Iarbus, sold Dtdo as much land as she might contain traglc Trolan War, provohedby Pans' abduction of Helen,

rn a bull's htde By artt'ully cutting the hrde into nen'ow stnps, Drdo managed to se(ure enough land to hurld a cttadel, wtfe of the Greeh chteJtatn, Menelaus At a cntical stage

named Byrsa, or "hrde" Around thts fort, the lubuktus ctry oJ Carthuge flouished from 853 nc On the nght bank, the sttll, rn the ten-year siege, the Greehs dreamt up the Trolan

crlm tomb of $,chacus nsc.s be.srdca ncw .sapling, sl,mboh2rn g the growth oJ Carthage The glrls und boys playrng on the Horse, a massNe wooden modelhrdingwrthtn tts hollow

banh represent the future power und gentrattons of Cunhage; while the nstngsun, lih.ewtse, rymbolizes the nsrng power oJ belly an army oJ Greelzs (THr,Tnol,r:i Honsr B) Nrr r r ri t r nri l
thebnghtnrwcity ( l ) r n o B r r r r D r N c ( - { R r H ' \ ( , r , B } / w f i , R N I : R l, 8r .l l5, )v v a . s TEMPERA.
A|3BArr,. c .i560)
CINSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

THnffS was a seanymph and the blind seer,


TIRESIAS, thelegendary

daughter of Nereus and Doris She advisedmany heroesSomelistenedto him,

was the mother of ecutt-t-rS, the but others,to thar cost,ignoredhim,such

great Greek hero Becauseit was as hard-headedCreon,or short-sighted

known that she was fated to bear a Pentheus His goldat stofJwas a gJt Jrom

son mightier than his father, both Athenaand enabledhimtofndhis way

zEtJSand PoselDoN gave up all lihe a sightedman (ILLUsrMroN


FRoM

thoughts of possessingThetis,who DrcfloNARy oF CtAsslc,{L ANTIQUITIES, .1891 )

was much admired on Mount


Olympus, the home of the gods the seerwitnessedthe same sight
lnstead, Zeus ensured that she and became a man again His
became the wife of a mortal king, unique experienceled to Tiresias
Peleusof Phthia Thetis bore him being askedby LEUSand HERa,the
sevensons,but she was dissatisfied chief Greek deities, to settle a
with the mortaliry of her children dispure berween rhem as to which
She tested them wrth fire and boil- sex got most pleasureout of love
ing water, but none could with- When he said that it was the
smnd such treatment, not even the female,Herablinded him, but Zrus
youngest boy Achilles until Thetis awarded him a long life and the
dipped him in the Sryx, the nver of power of prophecy
the dead Even then, she forgot to
wet the heel she held him by, with THf TtfeNS and Titanesses,
the result that he was not totaily according to Greek mythology,
immortal About this time Thetis were the children of Ouranos, the
left Peleusand retumed to the sea, sky, and GAIA, the earth These
although she continued to assist grgantic beings were the older gods
Achilles as far as she could during who ruled before the Olympian
his evendul life gods, who were the brothers,
sisrersand children of zEUs The
TtnnSfRS, in Greek mythology, Titans included cRoNoS, RHn.e,
was the son of a nymph, Chanclo, came in disguise to Thebes As a The blindness of Tiresias was Coeus, Metis, Mnemoslme and
and Everes,descendantof one of result of Pentheus'refusalto listen explained by two tales One Hyperion
CADMUi'own men The blind seer to the seer, he gravely offended account states that the affliction They came to power after
of Thebes, he was so wise that even Dionysus and was tom to pieces bY was a punishment for seeing the Cronos emasculated his father
his ghost had kept its wits, and not the god's frerLaedworshippers, the goddess ATHENA bathing The Ouranos with a sickle provided by
been overcome by forgetfulness maenads Tiresiasalso confirmed other story is a somewhat lesstra- Gaia, his long-suffering mother
Iike the other inhabitants of the rhe pronouncement of the Delphic ditional explanarion Tiresiasone The eventual battle between the
underworld At the edge of the Oracle that it was indeed King day saw snakesmating and struck older generarionof gods, the Titans
world Tiresias advised oDYSSEUs OEDIPIJS who was personally them with a staff, whereupon he led by Cronos, and the younger
rhat he would never retum home responsible for the plague which turned into a woman. After living generation, the Olympians led by
ro lthaca if he harmed the catde of roubled the Thebans as a woman for a period of time, his son Zeus,lasted ten years and
HELIos,rhe sun god shook the universe like no other
During his lifetime Tiresias conflict. Afterwards Zeus threw
played a pan in severalmyths For those deities who had opposed
rnstance,he wamed King Pentheus him down to Tartarus, which was a
in vain about the identity of land beneath the underworld.
DIOI{YSUS, when that powerful god The battle against the Titans
should not be confused with the
an immortalseo
THEIIS, although Olympian gods' Iater struggle with
nymph,lovedher with
mortalson,Achilles, the GIANTS.In order to win this
ofahuman
all thecareandtendemess terrible confrontadon, Zeus knew
motherShesharedhis andrushed
sorrows, that he would require the help of
o/hismoftllity
to hisaid,wer conscious a mighry, mortal champion, and
Hereshebingshimsomesplendid aftnour so he fathered by 'LLCMEwEthe
as he mourns Patroclus' death (Ittusru.qnou greatest of the Greek heroes
rnov Sronrrsrnou Hovrn, i885 )
HEMCLES.

86
CInSSICAL MYTHOLOGY

THE TITANS wereglganticbangswho


ruled the earthbeJorethe Olympian gods
Thq overthro,rtheir tyrannicalJather,
Ouranus,and put Cronosinhis place
Cronos, inhis turn, swallowedallhis
children, exceptZeus,who was raisedin
secreE Here, RheapresentsCronoswith a
stonewrapped in swaddling clothesinstead
of thebaby Zeuswhois saJelyhiddenaway
(RHrrc nr.ro Cnouos, RELTEF,c 400 BC )

supreme deity, but the recently


victorious ZEUS destroyed him
with a mighty thunderbolt The
volcanic activity of Mounr Aetna
in Sicily was believed to be caused
by Typhon's imprisonment
beneath the crater. The struggle
berween Typhon and Zeus was an
evenly balanced fight, however
At one point 7:uswas left helpless
in a cave,weaponlessand without
his sinews Fortunately rhe mes-
sengergod HrnvEs came to his aid
on this occasion Before his final
defeat,Typhon sired the Chimaera,
the huge seamonster killed by the
hero PERSEUS

VENUS was rhe Roman equiv-


alent of apHRopirE, the Greek love
TyPHON (left), a fire-breathing serpent, goddess Venus was onginally a
was impisonedbeneaththe crqterwhen the goddess connected with agricul-
volcanoat Mount Aetna mtpted ture. but when she was identified
Symbolinng the darhJorcesoJearth, he wrth Aphrodite she took on a more
sired monstersas hideousas himself:the active and differenr role in myth-
flaming Chimaeraand snarlingCerberus ology One of her most crucial
(GnrcxVxr..c 600BC) acdonswls to retumAENMS'spear
after it had stuck in a tree stump
TYPHON was a terrible, serpenr- during his fight with the Iralian
Iike monster whose eyes shot out champion Tumus Indeed, in some
flames. He was conceived by GAIA, versionsAeneasis her son
mother earth, when she was ban-
ished to Tartarus along with the
orher defeated TITANS
According to the Greeks, Typhon
endeavoured to establish himself
as the ruler of the world, the

VENUS, the RomangoddessoJlwe, is


rarely portrayed withouther capnciousand
chmtbic son,Cupid This gracefulportrait
oJher by the French artist Boucher, Jull oJ
light and charm, owesmuch to Venusof
FRoM
Arles QrtusrnerroN or CL,tsstcel
Dtcttoxeny
189])
Arurreurrrs,
CInSSICAL MyTHOLOGY

VnSfn was the Roman equivalenr the dethronement and exile of the
of the Greek goddessHestia,who Eruscan monarchy, the death of
was the goddess of the hearth Virginia was a major factor in the
Vesta, however, was worshipped ending of an aristocratic tyranny in
both as the guardian of the 449 sc.
domestic heanh and also as the The lust of a comrpt official,
personification of the ceremonial Appius Claudius, for Virginia lcnew
flame. Ceremonies in her honour no bounds. He even dared to claim
were conducted by the Vestal that the girl was his slave and used
Virgins, who were young girls from the law to have her handed over to
noble families who took vows of him. At the last moment her father
chastity for the thirty years subbedVirginia through the heart,
during which they served her declaring that her death was less
Vesra's chief festival, the Vestalia, painful to suffer than her dishon-
was held on TJune our. The Roman arrny rose to
support him, along with the
VtnCtNLA was the daughrer of a WRGINIA (abwe) dies in the arms oJher WTCAN (below), Roman god oJfve, poorer citizens not then bearing
Roman centurion named Virginius father who hilledher to releaseherfrom presentsVenus with gloious armsforher arrns, and checks were placed
and, as with LUCRETIA, she was a bondageto the comtpt Appius Clnudius son,Aeneas The goldar swordwas thereafter on magistrates' powers.
Roman connected with a major He then cursedthe Claudionline, who were descibed in the Aeneid as loaded wtth
constitutional change Whereas overthrown by the outragedRomans doom NENus tN rHE FoRGE oF vuLCAN BY VUICAN was the Roman smith
Lucretia's rape and suicide led to (Ir-r-usrnerroru
FRoM rnov Ltw, 1885)
SroRrFs FMNcors BoucHER, cenve,s, 1757 ) god and the equivalent of the
Greek HEPtiAIsros. He was widely
associatedwith Maia and YEsrA,
who were both goddessesof the
hearth. His smithywas believed to
be situated undemeath Mount
Aetna in Sicily. At the Vulcanalia
festival, which was held on 23
August, fish and small animals
were thrown into a fire.

XnNTHUS was said to be the off-


spring of the HARPYPodarge and
ZEPHYRIIS, the west wind. He was
one of wo immonal hones belong-
ing to the great Greek champion
ACHILLESand had the power of
human speech. Achilles inherited
the horses from his father, King
Peleusof Phthia, who had received
them as a present from the gods on
his wedding to the sea nymph
THETIS. Achilles tookXanthus and
Balius, the other wonderful steed,
to Troy with him They performed
extremely well on the battlefield,
although theyseemed unnerved by
the slaughter. When Achilles
quesdoned them, Xanthus wamed
the champion that his own death
was near, at which point the horse
was struck dumb by the FURIES

ZTPHYNUS SCC FORCE5OF


NATURE

88
CIASSICAL MYTHOLOGY

ZEUS, all-powufuIfathu oJ the gods,


enthronedon Olympus,isbegedby Thetis
to help her son, Achilles;she tugshis beard
and claspshis hneein her affectionateway,
as descnbedin thelliad, and thegreat god
nodshis assent (ZrusnNoTnrnsrvJr,rl-
A]GUSTE lNGREs, c,qruvas, 18.11)

After the overthrow of Cronos,


Zeus divided up the world between
himself and his two brothers,
HADESand PoselDoN Zeus chose
to rule the sky, Hades the under-
world, and Poseidon the sea: the
earth and Mount OlYmPus,which
was the home of the gods, were
regarded as common territory A
rare visitor to either of them was
Hades, who preferred to be among
the dead Trus'influence, however,
was felt e,rery*h.re, although he
had no control over destiny itself
Rather he was the god who saw
that fate took is proper course
The many lovers taken byZeus,
both mortal and immortal, form
the very stuff of mytholory It is
hghly likely that they describe the
coming together of severalreligious
radinons , as7-eusincorporated the
attributes of rival deities and gained
credit for all important even6 The
continual antagonism between
Zeus and his wife HERA,who was
definitely an ancient, pre-Greek
mother-goddess in origin, often
ZBUS was the supreme deity in broke out into major conflict. So
Greek mythology and the son of jealous was Hera that she sPenr
the Titans cRoNos and nHr,q The most of her dme persecuting ktJs'
Romans identified Zeus wrth their lovers and their children Once
Zeus became so angry about Hera's
J7PITER,an all-powerful slcy god
The ryrannical Cronos insisted on cruelty to the hero HEMCLES,his
swallowin g alI Trus' older bro thers greatest son by a mortal woman,
and sisters as soon as they were that he suspended the goddess
bom, but Zeus escapedthis fate from a pinnacle by her wrists and
when his mother Rhea offered hung weights on her ankles (See
Cronos a stone wrapped up in OFNATURE)
also FORCES
swaddling clothes to swallow
instead.In secrecy,kuswas raised XANTHUSeNn BALIUS, immortal
on the island of Crete. He grew ro horsesandchildrenof thewestwind,
"torewiththespeed oJwtnd" Thq were
manhood determined to topple his
father. The wise Metis, an earlylove Achtlles' duing theTrojan
battlesteeds
and daughter of ocEANos, gave War,andweptJorfallenheroes onthe
Zeus the idea of a potion that feld Here,Zzusleads themasa glt oJ
would make his fathervomit up all thegodsto Peleus onhisweddingday
(IrruSrnenOruBy GLENNSrrtvnw, 1995)
the children he had swallowed.
INTRODUCTION

INTRoDL]CTIoN
ODAYPEOPLE
OF CELNC DESCENT
IN of paganism It seems that poets wenr on Irish myths nearly always include fighring,
Europe are concentrated on its reciting the sagaslong after St Parrick con- though the combat is undenaken more often
wesrem shores They live chiefly in verted the Irish and cleared the country of by heroes than by gods. The fearless warrior
Brittany, Comwall, Wales, Scotland, the Isle snakes, because these tales were seen as enter- Cuchulainn, rhe lone defender of Ulster dur-
of Man and lreland At one dme, however, the tainment. lrish folklore insisrs, however, rhar ing the invasion of forces raised by Queen
Cels were spread over a large parr of the they kept something of their magic, since rhe Medb of Connacht, is very much the ideal. He
Continenr, and in 278 BC one roving band Devil could never enter a house where rhe was chosen as the Irish champion afrer a
even penetrated as far east as Asia Minor, exploits of the heroes were being sung. beheading conresr with the watergiant Uath
where rhey gave rheir name ro Galatia. Until No other man had courage enough to receive
Bnarvrvrxwasa classic Celticheroinewho remainedcalm
the rise of Roman power, the Celts were a rhe giant's retum blow. Yet Cuchalainn, "the
anddigniJiedunderpressure A Jakelyslandered
wtfe,she
force to be reckoned with. Rome itself had wasJorcedto sufierunjustly,untilrescued Hound of Culann", enjoyed but a brief life;
b hn brother,
been sacked by rhem in 385 BC, a historical Bran the Blessed (BnaNweNryG SarRrurucneM,
cANVAs,c Ig20 ) his refusal to rerum the affecrions of Monigan,
fact not forgotten by the legronaries who gave the goddess of slaughter, sealed his fate. Nor
Julius Caesar vrcrory berween 59 and 49 sc even the intewention of his father Lugh, the
over the Celdc tribes living in Gaul, presenr- sun god, could save him
day France Although largely incorporated The apparently endless conflicr appears
into the Roman Empire, the Cels condnued less tenible when it is recalled how the Cels
to worship their own gods and goddesses believed in reincamation. Their otherworld,
right up ro the dme of the official adopdon by unlike the Greek or Roman underworld, was
rhe Romans of the Christian faith. Then their not a dismal abode of the dead. Rather ir was
rehgion and mytholory waned in importance, a paradise in which souls rested prior ro rheir
except where people remembered tales about rebinh in the world. The warrior-poer Oisin,
the Celtic gods and heroes of the past. Even son of the Fenian leader Finn MacCool, spent
in distant lreland, an island thar was never three hundred years there before reuming to
under Roman control, the influence of Ireland. Oisin was warned that he would
Christianiry was soon felt. Bur here conver- never be able to go back to the underworld if
sion did nor mean rhe wholesale desrrucdon he dismounted from amagScsreed.When rhe
of rhe Celtic heitage, for monks rook great saddle slipped and he fell to rhe ground,
care from the fifth cenrury onwards to write Oisin was immediately changed from a hand-
down the ancienr sagas some yourh into a blind, grey-haired, with-
To this remarkable effort of preservarion ered old man Only St Patrick is said to have
we owe almost our enrire knowledge of Celtic bothered to listen to his fantasdc story as it
mythology. For excepr in Wales, where a was being written down.
small group of stories was recorded, nothing The interest of St Parrick in the advenrures
else was ever commirred to writing. The Cels of Oisin and, indeed in the explois of many
always distrusted script and preferred to rely other heroes of old, is obviously a later
on speech and properly trained memories. embellishmenr, but it does indicate a degree
In lreland the poet was held in particular of tolerance not readily found elsewhere in
esteem. Possibly because there was a clear dis- Christian Europe. Yet saints in lreland could
tinction there berween druid and poet in pre- curse as well as anyone else when the occa-
Christian times. The newly-founded monas- sion demanded For instance, the trouble-
teries could therefore undertake the work of some King Suibhne Geilt was cursed by St
recording rhe ancient rexts without any fear Ronan for his violence towards the fairh. and

92
t\tR()l)t(ll()\

.J
*fu;'
ffi
td
,t
..:
r+Ih.*
*j

, , r r l l , , t l\ 1 i t : , i i r , i l t i ) r ' l ( , l l l , , t i i f l , r , . 1 i 1 , fi 1 1 1 1 1
Ilfnrltf

( i t . i t r t l ' t ) r i \\ t ( , i t . i ' ( L , , i t r i i , i I i r :i , , t i { i t l i , , l l l , , l , , i i l l ,'/ltr

)t ;l(ir))(l\
i r / , r : . 1 r i i ( l l i r ] r , l , i ,r il l , ' r l , / i t , i t , 1 ' r r r r ' i 1 1 l i r , i )

i r i l i t 1 , , , , 1,ri r 1 , fr . l \ 1 r , r r l 1 , l l i r . \ 1 1 1 ; , ' , f r. i / t r , ) l i i \ i r i . l . i r l l iI

ATLANTIC
OCERN
: p t ' r l t t h c r c - : t t r l h L . l L t c r i r l h t h t ' t I l . t t - : t- .

t r ' n s t l r s ( ) t ; l b r r c l l t ' l l 1 - 1 1 1l r1O{ t r l t t c e t ( ) I I C Ci t l l ( i

a t r t l n g i r t l l l g h t . : I l t r t h r r l t l l L r t \ \ . t l t ' l - (l - c \ :

I p l . t r c ( c l t r t r p \ I h r r l , . , , { )c : 1 - r cir. i l l r r h e
' \ r t h L r r l i . l lIlr \ t h > ( h t t . t L ; l l l l t \ h l t . b e . ( ) l l l ( ' 1 1

t c l r t r l t l ( ' l c n l ( ' l l t I h t ' i l r L t ' - tl t r t t h t ' ( i r , l t l t : t h c

n l ( r : l . ' r b , , l t r L cl r\ l r ) t P l t ' \ltir,'trgh sllllll.llI() il

( L'lrttntitqtt t;tLtltlttrtltht> ilt'l\ rc''t'l rill:

t h r ' t L t l tL t . c t l. t t t l l r ' i . t > t \ t l [ ) ] l t ' t . t r l . l . t l t h r '


( f L l rl t l \ l ( ) l l t l l t ' r r l l t t l l . l i l t ' t t ' i \ t . ' . ti l l t l l l t r t r c l
R Dn,..
' 'I'Ef
B LAC K r i i r r t h f l , , r i t ' i l1 t r ' , t lI ll l t ' - P r ' . i l t l l r t t : l t l l ( i - t l t : t:
Srn
: t t l c l t r i l t s I t t ' , i t g h t l r r I ] t l t i l l l l i ) \ J t r - r ' 1 l hi r l
o Rour THRAcq
SperN ' a
\ n n r r i t l t c a l t L t r u : t . L . t t t ' tl o : t . i l l t l l l \ ( l L l ( ' \ t

:f-'- ' I<trt{ht- t)tlLr \tr


[ ) r r ' ( ) r r L t l ) t cKc rl n g \ t t i r r r r
-4"
. rDEr-pur . qq- ( , . r l . r l - i a c\ \l; 1 5I ) L t r ( f' I l r r t l { h I t r f r t ' r l l . l t l t t ' t l . r f L r l l

\ r > r r ) nr r t t h t ' ( i r l r r l u i t t t i l h e r r r r r k. t : ( )ttt

I rrtrl i trt'tir ttcts t't'tl llt> h.ttttl.

\\ht'tltct trt Il()[ \rtlltll \\.t:.t flt.trr]1i.lL

9l
INTRODUCTION

Mrnuru .tNo Nnrun representopposite polesoJthe


CelticothemvorWMalin, in the tradition of Celtic
druids, guided his hing Arthur, with wrsdomand

Jorestght;while Nimue,his enchantress,symbolked the


threateningpwm oJthe othenvorld.(THrBrcuruNcon
MERLTN By E BURNEJoNES, cAwAs, c i8l0-14 )

figure is still uncerrain. It is quire likely rhat


he may have been a successful warlord in the
confused and violent period following the
withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain
around 4I0 eo That his myth blames the
ultimate vicrory won by rhe Anglo-Saxon
invaders on civil strife perhaps reflects a
kemel of truth. The Celtic peoples were norG-
rious for only rarely combining against an
extemal, common foe, so deep-rooted were
their own birrer quarrels. Thus British chival-

ry came ro an end with Kirg Arthur's disas-


trous bartle againsr his nephew Modred near
Salisbury. Hardly a knighr survived and the
Kirg himselfwas badlywounded His depar-
ture to Avalon, accompanied by three myste-
rious ladies, gave rise ro rhe idea of his
undeath. In an otherworld, ir was believed,
Kirg Arthur lingered, awaiting reincamadon
as a national saviour.

ARrnunandhisChristian Fellowship of l{nights


probabty
deived
fromtheearlierWelsh warlordArthur,who
journqedto theothenvorldwthhiswarband in search
oJa
wondrous cauldronHere,theKnights oftheRoundTable
erpenencetheGrailvision
for thefirsttime,amiddivine
light and splendour. (MeruuscrurrmusrurroN, c 1470 )

9+
INTRODUCTION

B
Celrrc MyrHoLocy

Annnfn, which probably means who was unable ro ler go of rhe fell in love wirh his brother's wife, felt sorry/ for ailing Ailill and
"doer of deeds", was, in Irish horse's tail Abarta took them to E7AIN,who was actually a goddess, eventuallypromised ro sadsfyhis
mythology, a mischievous god He the otherworld, for that was rhe one of the TUATHADE DANANN desire as the only means of saving
was one of the TUATTIADEDANANN, reason for his appearanceon earth Etain had been the second wife of his life It was arranged thar rhey
who ruled lreland undl rhey were- This wonderful land was rhoughr the proud and handsome god should meet secretly in a house
overcome by the Milesians,warlike by the Celts to be the home of the MIDIR,who lived under a mound in outside Tara However,Ailill never
invaders from Spain Driyen under- gods and goddesses,and the place the middle of Ireland She had came because he fell into an
ground, Abana and his kin appear where souls briefly resred before been rebom as a human as punish- enchantedsleep
in the Irish sagasmore like heroic rebirth The rest of the Fianna. or ment for her great jealousy of
mortals rhan gods, although in the Fenians, acquired a magic ship to Midir's first wife. Fuamnach When Atut-t- MnC MAIA, according
tale of his trick on the Fenian war- give chase to Abarra's sreed.The High Kirg Eochaidh was looking to some versions of the myth, was
riors there remains a srong trace of best tracker among rhem was Finn for a bride himself, he heard reporrs the hng of Connacht and husband
his original dMniry MacCool'sassismntFoltor He suc- that described Etain as rhe fairest of the warrior-queen MEDB.He is
Abana offered himself as a ser- ceededin navrgadnga course to the maiden in Ireland So he broughr genera\ ponrayed as a ratherweak
vanr ro FINNMACCOOL, one of the otherworld for the rescue expedi- the beautiful former goddessback characterwho was entirely under
foremosr Irish heroes,and heredi- tion There Abana was compelled to his palace atTara, rhe capital the influence of Medb It was due
tary leader of the FmNNA Abarn to releasethe prisoners aswell as to There Eochaidh and Etain enjoyed ro her taundng that he agreedro go
tried ro serveFinn MacCool short- run back to Ireland himself holding a happy married life Ailill, how- to war with Ulster over the Brown
ly after the hero had succeededhis on to the horse'stail Honour being ever, gradually succumbed to a Bull of Cuailgne.Ailill finally met
father as leader of rhe band. As a sarisfied,rhe Fenians agreed ro a terrible wasring diseasebecauseof his death at the hands of coNALt,
gesture of goodwill, rricky Abarta peacewirh Abarta his unrequited passion for rhe who killed him in revenge for the
presented the Fianna wirh a wrld, new queen death of rrRcus MACRITH
grey horse Only afrer great effort AILILL, rvho was the brother of Etain was steadfast in her
did the warriors manage to ger a Eochaidh, a High Kirg of lreland, love for Eochaidh, but she also AINE was rhe Irish goddess of
bridle on the animal, and rhen it love and ferdlity She was the
refused to move even one hoof AINE, Irishgoddess oJloveandJertility, AI\4AETHON, thoughtheJruitfulrustic daughter of Eogabail,who was the
when mounted It was not until wasworshipped onMidsummer Evebythe godoJagnculture, wasnotalwayshelpful foster son of the Manx sea god
fourteen warriors had climbed localpeople wholit up herhiII withtorches ItwasAmaethon thatrobbedArawn, MANANNANMAC LIR HeT main
on its powerful back rhat it would Whensomeglrlsstayedlate onenight,Aine thereby
prwohingtheBattleof Trees, ond, responsibilty was to encourage
stir at all Once Abana had appeared amongthem andra,ealed thehill whorefusedto helphard-pressedCulhwch human love, although one mortal
mounted behind rhem, it broke tobealivewrthfaines, whichwereonly toplough,sowandreapahill in a dq - o Iover of hers, Kirg Arllil OIom of
immediarely inro a gallop, even visible throughher magc"ing tashinhis questto win Olwat Munster, paid for his passionate
pulling along a fifteenrh warrior (lLrusrnerroruByNtcK Brew., 1995) (lr-r-usrRqnoru
ByNrcK Buu, 1995) audacity with his life When he
CeITIC MYTHOLOGY

brothers plunged the country once


again into dreadful srife The fight-
ing came to an end only with the
death of Eber. Amairgen then
installed Eremon as High King of
Ireland atTara Even then conflicts
still occurred becauseof the cease-
Iessrivalnes between lesserrulers.

AUNONTNS SCCPELLES

ANNWN was a Welsh other-


world that was an idyllic land of
peace and plenty. ln Annwn there
was a fountain of sweet wine and a
cauldron of rebirth, which, it
would seem, was the basis of the
medieval Grail myth ln one Welsh
tradition, ARTHURlost most of his
warriors in a disastrous attempt to
seize this magic cauldron.
The lord of Annwn was the
grey-cladAMwN, wirh whom the
Dyfed chieftain PWYLLagreed to
exchange shapes and responsibil-
ities for ayear Arawn had a pack of
hounds, the Celtic "hounds of
hell", which were believed to fly at
night in pursuit of human souls
(See AISOCELTICOTHERWORLDS;
WONDROUS
CAULDRONS)

attempted to force himself upon magically transformed rrees inro AJVTAIRGEN(above)was one oJthe Jirst ANNWN (below), aWelshotherworld,
Aine and rape her, she slew him warriors to fight in the battle druidsin lreland He possessedboth andrest,filled
wasa landoJJruitfulness
with her magic. spiitual and political authoity, and wtththesongoJbirds Annwn'smaglcal
Aine's worship was alwaysasso- AUAInCEN, sometimes known pronouncedthe first judgement in the guarded
cauldron, byninemaidens, healed
ciated in lreland with agriculture, as Amergin, was one of the first land,decidingwhowouldbe thefirsthing. thesichandrestoredthedeadto lfe A
because,as a goddessof fertility, Irish druids, the ancient priests in An inspiredshamanand seer,heis credited motifin Celticmyth,magic
recurrent
she had command over crops and Celtic lands He came to Ireland with a mysticalpoem in the Book of Jeaturein thetalesoJBranand
cauldrons
animals. Even as late as the last with the Milesians Thesechildren Invasions (ILLusrn
crtoxA^roN'
) Dagda (IllusrnlloN By NIcK BxLE, 1995 )

century, celebrationswere still held of ulrrsluS, or Mil, who was a


in her honour on Midsummer Eve leader of the Celts who lived in
at l(nockainy, or "Aine's hill", in Spain, were believed to be the
County Ketry ancestorsof the present-dayIrish
Having defeated the divine rulers of
AueerHoN (whose name lreland, the ru,trqADE DANANN,
means "labourer" or "ploughman") the Milesians could not agreeon
was the god of agnculture and the which of their leaders should be
son of the Welsh goddess ool hng Two sons of Mil, Eremon and
Amaethon was said to have EBER, contested the throne and for
stolen fromAMWN, the lord of the the sake of peace the island was
orherworld euruwru, a hound, a divided into rwo kingdoms, one in
deer and a bird, and as a result the north, the other in the south.
causedthe Cad Goddeu or Battle However, peacewas not to surive
of Trees It was in this battle rhat for long, and renewed fighting
Amaethon's brother, GWYDION, between the followers of the two

97
Crr-Trc MyrHoLocy

who wrote down the trish sagas


tried to legidmize rhe binh by
making Boann the wife of Dagda,
but it is obvrous that Aonghus wzls
a divine love-child
Aonghus was handsome and
fourbirds alwap hovered abovehis
head which were said ro represenr
kisses. Birds also feature in his AMWN, hingof Annwn,stidesthrough
courtship of CAER,a girl of divine hisenchanted accompaniedby
Jorest his
descentwho came from Connacht theCeltic"houndsoJhell",
Jlyinghounds,
and lived as a swan Her father, oneof whosedutieswasto escortsoukon
ANU, a greatearthgoddessandmotheroJ what Aoifa loved best and Scathach Ethal, was one of the TUATHADE tharjoumeyto theothaworldLihesome
all theheroes,
washnown asthe"lasting told him that above ali else she DANANN He seems to have been otherfairy creatures,
thq appearwhite
one"andalsoasDana,mother oJthe treasured her chanot At first the reluctant about the marriageuntil withredears,a tohenoJtheothenvorld
TuathaDeDanannIn Munster thereare combat went as expectedin Aoifa's Aonghus' father, Dagda, made (luusrnenor.r
ByJAMEs
Alrx,cNorn,
1995
)
twohillshnownasthePapsof Anubecause favour, but Cuchuiainn distracted Ethal his prisoner lt was finally
thq rymbolizedherbreasts(tuusrRarroru
ny her attention at a critical moment agreed that Aonghus could marryt night dunng a hunt. From rhen on,
Grrruli
SrEwanD,
1995
) by calling out that her chanot horse Caer provrded he could identi$r her no woman could everseeDiarmuid
was in trouble Afterwards, Aoifa and she was willing to be his bride without loving him. This included
ANU, sometrmescalled Danu or became Cuchulainn's lover and On the feastof Samhain,Aonghus GMINNE, the princess who had
Dana, was the mother goddess of bore him a son named cotvl,ql It found Caer swimming on a lake been promised by the High King of
Irish myrhology The TUATHADE was, however, the boy's fate to be wich a hundred and fifty other lreland to his Fenian commander
DANANN("the people of the god- killed by his own father swans He instantly recognizedher FINNMACCOOLAonghus savedthe
dess Dana") were her divine chil- and she agreed to marry him Iovers from the great warrior's
dren and the gods and goddesses AONCHUS was the Insh love An interesting tale rhat has wrath, but he could not protect
who ruled Ireland prior to the god His father was DAGDA,the attached imelf to Aonghus con- Diarmuid from the fate given to
amval of the Milesians h is quite father of the gods and the protector cerns his foster-son DIARMIIIDLtA him at birth by the gods, that he
possibie that the monks who wrote of druids, and his mother was the DUIBHNE, or "Diarmuid of the Love should be killed by a magic boar
down the lnsh sagasfrom the fifth water goddess BOANN Rarherlike Spot" This attractiveyoung man Nevertheless, Aonghus brought
century onwards underplayed the 7-eus,Dugdr deceivedBoann's hus- received a magic love spot on his Diarmuid's body back to his own
original role o[ goddessesin rheir band and lay with her The monks forehead from a mysterious grrl one palace at New Grange, on the
compilations Certainly, the srories bank of the RiverBoyne,where he
they recorded show us a man's breathed a new soul into it so that
world, a place where warriors seem he could talk to his foster-son
most at home The cult of Anu was
especiallyassociatedwith Munster, AnAWN was rhe ruler of the
and two hrils in County Kerry are Welsh otherworld aNruwru,which
still known as Da Chich Anann was a paradiseof peaceand plenty
("The Papsof Anu") The Dyfed chiefrain PuvLLbecame
friends with Arawn and was
AOIFA, somerimes known as allowed to claim in his title some
Aoife, was the daughter of Ard- authority over the otherworld The
Greimne and an lrish warrior- two rulers met by chance While
princess in the Land of Shadows, out hunting, Pwyll encounrereda
an otherworld kingdom Her sisrer strange pack of hounds chasinga
SCATHACHinstrucred rhe Ulster stag, so he drove them off and ser
hero CIJCHUIAINNin the arts of
war But when the sisterswent ro AOIFA,a wanior-pnncess JromtheInnd
war Scathach was frightened ro oJShadows, sparswithheryoungson,
take the hero with her into battle in Conlai,instructinghim
in themartialarts
case Aoifa killed him Undeterred Thetraditionofwamor-womenwds
by Aoifa's repurarion as a fighter, stronginCelticsociery,
where women bore
Cuchulainn challenged her ro arrnsaslateasAD700,andwhere the
single combat. Beforethe fighr rook fiercestgodswereoJtenwomen
place, Cuchulainn askedScarhach (Itrusraanov ByJAMEI ALExANorn, 1995 )

98
CEI-TIC MYTHOLOGY

AONGHUS AeJ), an engagtnggodoJ


Iwe and courtesy,a Celtic equivalatt oJ
Eros,oppearsin thisJoncijul portrayal
as a charming, iJ somewhatwhimsical
character,who calms thefoamy seawith his

Jairy maglc (Aor.rcnus,


coD oFLovEAND
COURTESY, PUTTING A SPELL OF SUN,IMERCAIU ON

THE SEA ByJoHN DUNCAN, cANVAs, orrntl, 1908 )

ART(above)conJrontsan armyoJsavage
andvenomous glanttoadsonhispeilous
journq throughtheLandofWonder, in
of DelbchaunA taboolaidon the
search
younghero bythejealousgoddessBecuma,
forcedhim tofind andwinthelovely
glrlimpnsoned byherwiched
parents
(luusrnerroru
BvARTHUR c 1900
R4cKHAM, )

than she gave birth to DYI4N


and rtrtL GwYDION,Arianrhod's
brother, immediately took charge
of Lleu and brought him up, but
this did not prevent Arianrhod
placing a seriesof raboos upon him,
including the stricture that he was
to have no wrfe in the human race

ART, in Irish mythology, was the


son of Conn of the Hundred
his own hounds on to the prey same period of time, but without ArueNnnOD was the daughter Battles.In one myth, Conn's jeal-
Just as the stag was about to fall, a making love to her of the Welsh goddess DoN and ous mistress, the goddess Becuma
grey-clad figure appeared and Arawn wamed Pwyll that he niece of MArH, king of Gwynedd. Cneisgel,contrived to send Art off
rebuked h^ryll for rhis discourtesy must hll Havgan by a single blow, Marh could sleep only if his feet on a perilous journey through the
in the field. It was Arawn. In order for if struck a second time he wereheld in avirgin's lap, andwhen Land of Wonder in search of
to placate Arawn and to gain his instantly revived. When Pwyll and Goewin, the virgin who usually Delbchaem ("Fair Shape") After
friendship, Pwyll accepted a pro- Havgan fought, the Welsh chieftain acted this part for him was raped by facing untold dangers,he managed
posal that he should exchange dealt him a fatal blow and ignored his nephew Gilvaethwy, it was to find and rescue Delbchaem
forms with him for ayear and then Havgan'splea to finish him offwith suggestedthat Ananrhod should Art's son by another woman was
tlayArao*'s enemy, Havgan.ltwas another strike. As a result of this mke her place. To test her purity C)PJ\LACMAC ART Arr was hlled by
also agreed that hryll would share service, Arawn and Pwyll became fuianrhod had to step over Math's the rebel Lugaide Mac Con in the
the bed of Arawn's queen for the closeallies and Dyfed prospered. wand No sooner had she done so battle of Moy Muchruinne

99
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

AnfnUR is undoubredly the best have a connectionwith Josephof After a number of yearsArrhur
I<nownof rhe Celdc heroes He was Anmathea, not leastbecauseit had joumeyed ro London to watch his
mosr popular during rhe Middle a special place resewed for rhe first toumament A knight who had
Ages,when the exploirs of his fol- Graii WhileJoseph of Anmarhea been appointed by Merlin ro act as
lowers, the Ifuights of the Round was imprisoned in Paiesdne,the the boy's guardianwas tahng part,
Table,impressedthe gearer part of Grail is said ro have kept him alive but finding he was wirhour a
westem Europe It was wirh some Later he broughr it ro Brirain, sword, he sent Arthur to get one
misgivrngs thar the Church per- where it disappeareddue ro peo- Wi thou t r ealizrngrhe signific ance
mitted a Chrisriamzed version of ple's sinfulness Thus the recovery of the sword in rhe stone,Arthur
theseCeltic myrhs ro occupy such of the Grail became the grearquesr pulled it out and gave it ro the
an importanr placein rhe medieval of Arthur's knights amazedknight. Thus was the heir
imagination It was never quire at ARTHUR, a child oJdestiny,was guarded When Urher fendragon died, of Uther Pendragonrevealed
easewith the story of rhe Grail, or and guided by spintual forcesfrom birth the ltuighrs of the Round Table Even rhen, there were knights
5AN6REAI, which JOSEPH OF Smugg;Ied
out oJTintagelCastlebyMerlin, were at a loss ro know who should who would nor accept Arthur as
ARIMATHMwas believed ro have the mage,he wasfosteredin safetyand be the nexr hng They decidedrhar
brought to Britain, since its mirac- secrery,unawareof his destiny untilhis Merlin should guide them The ARTHUR,at restin anenchantedforest,
ulous propenies were clearly nghtfuI time to draw the swordfrom the wlzard told them that rhey would gazes in wonderat theamazngQuesting
derived from the Celtic cauldron. a stone,thusprovinghisbirthnght (urnur.r know who Uther's successorwas Beastat thewell lt wasaferlieor
vesselof plenry aswell as of rebinh AND ARTHUR By W HATHERELL, CANVA5, C 1910 ) when he drew a magrc sword from bewitchingotheruv
orldlywonder,which
The strength of popular feeling for a srone, which had mysreriously deJied captureSirPellinoreandlater
the Arthurian myth can be appre- Irish sagas,one of which describes appearedin London Many knighs SirPalomides spent yearsinfutilepursuit
ciated by a riot thar occurred in how he stole the hounds of rhe tried ro pull the sword from the of thetantalizngchimaera
l l l 3 a r th e ro wn o f B o d m in in Fenian leader FINNMACCOOLon stone, but none could move it (lrrusrnarrou ByAUBREy BEARDSLEy,c 1870 )

Comwall becausethe French ser- one of his daring raids Indeed, as


vants of visiring nobiliry denied a warrior, hunter of magic boars,
Arthur's undeath killer of giants, wrtches and mon-
Although some of the earliest sters, and as leader of a band of
storiesconcemingfuthur are found heroeswhose adventuresled them
in Welsh poems of the sevenrh into untold mysteriesand marvels,
century, rhere can be little doubr Arthur had much in common with
that the warlike hngbelongs to rhe Finn MacCool But according to
heroic traditions of borh lreland the ninth-century monk Nennius,
and Wales He appearsin several Arthur was a historical leader who
rallied the people of Bntain against
ARTHU& promptedby Merlin, aslu the Anglo-Saxon invaders after the
Lady oJ the LaheJor thesword, Fxcalibur Roman legions had gone Nennius
Theyoung hing mawelledat theshining credir Anhur with rwelvevicrories, .l
I
sword but Merlin insistedthat the scabbard but does not mention the account
wasworth ten of the swordsbecause it of his death recorded slighdy later
pra,ented bss of blood in banle (tuusnenoru in a history of Wales, which srares
BYAUBREYBERosuv, c 1870.) that Arthur and his swom enemy
M?DREDboth fell in 537 ar rhe
bartle o[Camluan
Anhur was the son of rhe Brirish
king UTHER PENDMGON and
Igraine, wife of rhe Cornish duke
Gorlois He was conceived out of
wedlock and brought up away
from his parens by rhe wizard
MERLIN The resourceful Merlin
had already designed for Uther
Pendragona wonderful stronghold
and placed in ir the famous Round
Table, at which one hundred and
fifty knights could be seated.This
unusual piece of furniture may
CEr-TIC MvrHoLoGY

ARTHUR S RoundTablesewedmany GUINEVERT. At first Merlin object- was coveredby the dead and dyttg. his weakened kingdom from the
purposes:it pruented quarels aver ed ro the match, since he knew of Although he had won, King Arthur Anglo-Saxons,however The whole
ce; rymbolQed wh olaness; and
pr eceden Guinevere'slove for Sir IANCELOT, had to be carried away by these of the Anhunan myth tums on rhe
commemoratedthe TableoJthe l-ast the most handsome of the lfuights I<rr€hs, such was the severiryof his disintegation of the chivalnc uniry
Suppo, with the Grail at the centre of the Round Table But he later wound Knowing his own end was that was establishedby the Round
(Knc Anrnur. rND THE l(t.ttcHTs oF THE RouND blessed the married couple and, near, he had Excalibur rhrown into Table, but which was finally
Tesre SuUMoNED To rHE QuEsr By A SrnnNcr according to one version of the a lake, where a hand swiftly seized destroyedby the implacablehatred
DAMSEL By E BURNE-JoNEs, rApEsrRy, 1898-99 ) myth,gaveAnhur the Round Table it Then Anhur boarded a magic berweenArthur and Modred (See
as a wedding grft Nevenheless,the boat and disappeared. His last also MAGICAND ENCHANTMENT,
king Only with Merlin's aid was queen and Lancelot were soon words were that he was going to HEROTC QUEsrs)
the young ruler able to defeat his Iovers, and when futhur found out AVALONto be cured of his wounds
opponents and bring peace to about his wife's unfaithfulness so that he might retum one day to ARTHURrestsin peoce in Avalon,
Britain How much he depended Lancelot fled to Brittany lead his people once more guardedbyfourt'airyqueens Morganle
on magic became obvrous to Anhur pursued Sir l^ancelotand The inscription on Arthur's Fay,cowledin blach,consults herboohoJ
Arthur early in his reign Having besiegedhim in his Breton strong- tomb at Glastonbury picks up this to healthewounds
maglccraJts, of the
drawn his own sword wrthout hold The siege had to be lifted, Celtic idea of reincamation It "undead"htngThewinged appantion
cause against one of his knights, however, because news reached reads: "Here lies Arrhur, king that carryingthe Grailrymbolizes thehope and
Arthur was dismayed to see the the king that his nephew Sir was, king that shall be " Such an Juturepromise oJArthur'sreign (t-et',tonr
blade sharter.Merlin savedhim by Modred had seized Camelot and undeath was not enough to save D'ARTHUR BYJAME5 ARCHER, c,quvas, 1860)
putting the knight to sleep, for even forced Guinevere to consent
futhur was otherwise unalrned. tn to marriage,after spreadingstories
despair the king wandered along of the king's death on campaign
the shore of a lake when. tci his Returning ro Brimin, Arthur sum-
amazement, he saw a hand and moned his knights to do battle
arm rise out of the water, holding with the rebels Prior to the con-
another magrcsword. This was the flict, it was agreedthat the hng and
famous Excalibur, his sure support, his nephew would meet between
according to the l-:ldy of the Lake, the rwo armies to discuss the pos-
who handed it to him sibility of peace. Becauseneither
Rearmedand reassured,Arthur one trusted the other, each ordered
went on to be a great king. He his forces to attack if they saw any-
defeated the Anglo-Saxons, aided one draw a sword When a knight
King Leodegraunceof Scotland in unsheathed his weapon to kill a
his wars against the Irish and even snake, a terrible battie was fought,
campaigned as far away from his in which the flower of British
kingdom asRome. ln rerum for the chivalry fell
aid given to Lrodegraunce, Arthur Only two of Arthur's knights
was betrothed to his daughter were left alive on a batdefield that
Cnlrrc MyrHoLoGy

AVnI-ON was another name for


the Welsh otherworld, ANNwN.
and its name suggess that itwas an
island of apples The mortally
woundedARTHURwas ferried there
by three mysterious women in a
black boat, following the terrible
batrle againsrSir MODRED'sarmy
The undead king was expected to
retum from Avalon and lead the
oppressed Celtic population of
Britain to victory over rheirAnglo-
Saxon and, Iater, Norman con-
querors According to one version
of the myth, Excalibur was forged
there Tradidonally, Avalon has
been idendfied with Glastonbury,
the supposedsite of Arthur's tomb. BRIOR was rhe Irish Cyclops The fateful meeting between AVALON, Arthur's last restingplace, was
(Seealso CELTICOTHERWORLDS) This one-eyedgod of death was rhe Lugh and Balor occurred at the an otherworldlyretreat of wonder, mystery
most formidable of the FoMoRII, second battle of Magh Tuireadh, a and peace lts nine guardian queensrecall
BAOB (meaning "crow") was an the violent and monstrous seagods fiercecontest berween the Fomorii an actual, histoncalordu oJnine nuns who
Irish goddess of battle She was one who ruled Ireland before the arrival and the Tuatha De Danann lived olJthe coastoJRomanBittany, as
of a group of war deitieswho could of the TIJATHADE DANANN So Nobody could stand Balor's lethal well as the nine mythical maidensguarding
influence rhe outcome of conflict dreadful was his one eye thar he gaze, not even the Tuatha De Annwn's maglccauldron (KrucAnrHun
rN
by inspiring the combarants wirh destroyedwhoever he looked upon Danann leaderNUADA.rhe owner AvALoN By E BURNE-JoNIs, ctuves, 1894 )

fear or courage The others were and his eyelid had to be levered up of a sword which previously none
Known as MORRIGAN, NEMAINand by four servans It was prophesied could escape The battle was just single eyelid of Balor was slowly
MACHA.Myth connec$ Badb with that he would be slain by his own tuming into a Tuatha De Danann closing through weariness Lugh
the historical bartle of Clonrarf in grandson, To avoid rhis fate he rout, when Lugh noriced that the crept near to him with a magic
1014, when the High Kirg Brian locked his only daughter ETHLINN sling-shot in hand The momenr
defeated the Viking invaders and in a crystal tower on Tory Island, off BANSHEE, or beansidhe,womenoJthe the eyelid opened again,he hurled
Badb was said ro have appeared the north-west coasr of Ireland faines,livedunderground in sparlzling sidhe the stone so hard rhat ir forced the
over rhe warriors' heads. Even so. Balor was killed in barrle - Joiryheavens hiddenbeneath gassy eyeball backward through Balor's
with a sling-shot by the sun god mounds on Inshhilkideskgendhasit head, with the result that it was rhe
BALOR, aJormidable one-qed god of LIIGH,Ethlinn's son and the cham- thatabanshee attaches itselftoaJamily Fomoni who now sufferedfrom the
death,led the misshapenFomoni against pion of the Tuatha De Danann andwams ofimpendingdeathwith an destrucdve effect of its paralysing
theyoungerTuatha De Danann Herehis Lugh's father was Cian, a lesser eeie wail (tu-usrnerror.rByH I FIRD, i902 ) stare The Tuatha De Danann were
grandson, Lugh, castsaJatal stoneinto member of the Tuatha De Danann able to defeat the Fomorii, who
Balor's deadlyq,e,forcing it bach through With the assistance of a female were driven from Ireland for ever.
his head where its lethal gazedestroyshis druid, Cian had enrered the crystal (Seealso CELTICOTHERWORLDS)
warriors marching behind him tower and slepr wirh Ethlinn.
(llr-L,srn cloN By MTn,qNDA Gnev, 1995
) When Balor leamed that his daugh- BRNSHEE is the modern name
ter had given binh to three sons, he for the beansidhe ("woman of the
ordered that rhey be drowned in a fairies"), the traditional fairy of the
whirlpool nearTory Island Balor's Irish countryside After the arrival
servants duly rolled them up in a of the Milesians from what is now
sheet, but on rhe way ro the Spain (the ancestorsof the presenr-
whirlpool one of the boys fell out day Irish) the gods and goddesses
unnoticed Either rhe druid rhen known as rhe TUATHADEDANANN
handed the fortunate baby to the disappeared underground and
smith god cotnHNIU, or alternat- dwelt in mounds, and over the
ively MANANNANMACUn, the god centuries they were slowly trans-
of the sea, decided to foster him. ln formed in the popularimagination
either event, Lugh was saved and into fairies. It was believed thar the
set on the road to his desriny as rhe wailing of a banshee foretold the
slayerof Balor. approach of a human death.

102
CnITIC MVTHOLOGY

BTOTVERE SCCBEDW}R one of the important fesdvalsof the BTLE SCCBELENU5 BELENUS, a Celtic sungod,was

Celdc calendar,was celebratedon honoured on the eveof Beltaine when Celts

BEOWYR, according to welsh the first of May in his honour, and BUqfHNATwas the wife of King litbonfires, the "firesof Bel", symbolizng

mythology, was a one-handed his name survives in a number of CU RoI of Munster She fell in love the raysoJthe sunand the promiseof

warrior who, together with his place names such as Billingsgate, with cucHut AINN,the geat Ulster summer fruitfulness Here, thefaines, once

friend and companion I<AI,played "Bile's gate" (formerly a fish market hero and enemy of Cu Roi, and Celtic gods,ide outJrom their hollow hills

an important pail in helping in London) Although his worship betrayed her husband's people by to celebrateBeltaine (THrRrorps
oFrHEsrDHE

CULHWCHto procure the prizes he was clearly widespread,little elseis showing the hero how he could BYJOHN DUNCAN, cANVAs, l9ll )

required to win the hand of known about him enter her husband's apparentlY
otwEN. They were both members impregnable fortress A stream water, Cuchuiainn was able to
of King ARTHUR'scourt. In later BTN DTCTTPFRAN SCEBRAN flowed through rhe fort and when follow its course. In the fiercebattle
Anhurian romance Bedwyr became THEBLESSED Blathnat poured milk into the that followed Cu Roi was killed and
Sir Bedivere, the faithful knight Cuchulainn was able to ride off
who remained with King Arthur with Blathnar He also took with
after he was mortally wounded, him Cu Roi's bard, Fer Cherdne
threw the sword Excalibur into the When the party halted on a cliff
lake on the king's insrucdons and top, however, Fer Cherdne took
bore his body to the boat which the opportunity to avengehis for-
camed him to AVALON mer master's death by grabbing
hold of Blathnat and jumping over
BEL seeBELENUS the edge with her in his arrns.

BEUNUS, also known as Bel, BEDWYRguardedArthurat theendoJhis


was a Celtic sun god known to the hJe,asthq waitedbyalaheJortheship
Romans Julius Caesarcompared thatwouldferrythehingtoAvalonThis
blends
e scene
evocativ realism
photographic
Belenus to Apollo, the god of
prophecy He appears in various witha ghostlybachdrop 4n
to create
and convincing
elfective oJ
representation
forms across the Celtic world, as
an otheweorldly realm (Monr D'AnrHun nv
Beli to the Welsh, Bile to the lrish
and Belenusto the Gauls Beltaine, JoHw Genntcx,ctNvts, 1862)

r03
CEr-Trc MyrHoLoGy
Can-soxnx (above),the Grail CastleoJArthunan legend,
was an otherworldlyheavenguardedbyangelsand
wondrousspintswhoseunearthlysongwasbeautful
theGratl,aholy
bqond imagnrng Thecastlehoused
vessel,sard to be the Cup oJthe Inst Supper,whtch
Lancelotwasferned
containedhealingsptntualsustenance
to Carbonehon a ghostlyshtpwtthout captatnor crewand
permitteda dtstantvisionof the sacredchahcebecauseoJ
his courogeoussprnt Hts loveof Guinevereforbade a
completevision (lui'sruroN BvALAN
Lrr, 1984
)

Beron (above)andhis mtsshapen


people,the Fomont,
symboltzethe darht'orcesof the otherworld Beforetheir
deJeatat thehandsof the TuathaDe Danann,they
oppressedthe Insh with crushingtnbutesand cruelry
Pwytt, idingthrough alush, woodedidyll, suddenly
Jound symbolizea Lord oJWinter, because
heJoughtan annual While the Tuatha De Danann livedundergroundrn
himselfin the othemvorldlyrealm of Annwn AJterdnving battlewith Havgan("SummerSong") On oneoccasion,he glittenngsidhe, the Fomoii roamedbeneath
lahesand
off someshtningwhitehoundsJrom a t'allen stag,he ashedPwyll to swapplaceswrth him Jor a year, at the end seasrn bleahpurgatones Balor'ss,nglerye, poisonedtn
Arawn, thegrry-cladlordof Annwn Lthethe
encountered oJwhich PwyllJoughtand won theseasonalduel youth, paralysedhrsenemteswith rtsdeadlygaze
Greehgod oJthe underworldHades,Arawn may possibly (lrrusrRerroN sy Ar,4N LEE, 1984 )
(lr-r-usrnaloru BYALAN Let, 1984 )

:IO5
CeITIC MyTHoLoGY

BlooruEDD (whose name when he found a silver branch that


means "bom of flowers" or "flower was covered with white flowers.
face") was a beautiful, magical Gathering his kinsmen together,
woman Shewas conjured by MATH Bran displayed the magic bough,
andGwyoioN from the blossoms of only to be surprised by the sudden
oak, broom and meadowsweet to appearanceof a woman dressed in
be the wife of LLEIJ,Gwydion's veryunusual cloth She sang to the
nephew, because Lleu's mother, assembledcompany of the great
ARIANRHOP, had declared that he wonders to be found in the lands
should marry/ no mortal woman beyond the sea, the otherworld
For a time rhe young couple livec. islands, each larger than lreland,
together happily, but one day Lleu and inhabited by beautiful women
went to visit Math and while he who had no knowledge of sorrow,
was awayBlodeuedd hndly offered sicknessor death Happiness, she
hospitaliry to a passinghuntsman, sang to them, was the lot of all
Goronwy, the lord of Penllyn Iiving in these wonderful lands
Blodeuedd and Goronwy fell in Then the strangewoman stopped
love and began to plot the murder singing and vanished, taking the
of LIeu This was no easy task, for magic bough with her Bran had
Lleu could be kilied only while been unable to hold on to it, even
standing wrth one foot on a goat's with both his hands
back and rhe other on the edge of a The next day Bran sailed west-
bath tub, and only by u spear wards with t'wenty-sevenkinsmen
which it had taken a full year to Their first encounter was with the
make However, even though the BLODEUEDD (above),thefairest woman BOANN below), awater goddessand the sea god MANANNAN MACLIR,who
pair finally succeededin meeting all in the world, was conjuredout oJ blossoms mother of Aonghus,violated the sanctil oJ was dnving his chariot across the
the conditions and attackedhrm, by the maglciansGwydionand Math, so a sacredwell oJ inspiration In outragethe waves Once again the lrish heroes
he did not die buc flew into the air that shecouldbe thewtfe of Gwydion's wqters bubbledand swelled,formin g a were informed by the seagod of the
in the shape of an eagle Math and nephew,Lleu But shebetrayedher torrent which becamethe River Boyne, marvels that awaited them Even
Gwydion set out ro avenge LIeu husbandJoranotherman Gwydion,here, which is namedafterher In its current then the seaappearedto be a plain
When they found Blodeuedd, watchesas his beautiful creation comesto swam the Salmonof Knowledge,seenhere of flowers,with blossoming shrubs
Gwydion turned her into an owl. life (tttustwrroNByALAN
LEE,
1984
) (Iuusrnenoru ByARTHUR RActclrru, c 1910 ) and an orchard of fruitful trees
the bird of the night That day Bran's boat came to the
Isle of Merriment, where his crew
BOANN was a warer goddessand could hardlystand up for laughing,
the mother of AONGHUs,the Insh and then in the evening they
god of love According to the dif- reached the Isle of Women. The
ferent versions of her myth, she was beautiful women's leader called to
mamed eirher ro NECHTANor ro Bran to step ashore, but he was
Elcmar DAGDA,the chief god of afraid to land; so she threw a ball of
rhe TUeTHADEDANANN.was her rhread that stuck to Bran's hand,
lover and the father of Aonghus He and by magic drew the boat from
was able ro seduce Boann by send- the waves.When they came ashore
ing her husband on a nine-month the Irish heroes found soft beds
joumey that seemedbut one day and delicious food ready for them
The delightful stay seemed to them
BRAN, son of Febal, is the hero of to last for only ayear, but in fact
the most famous of the Insh voyage many yearshad passed When one
myths Seavoyages fascinated the of the crew grew homesick and
Irish storytellers,who would tell of persuaded Bran that it was time
strange adventures on remote rhat they sailed home, he was
islands, including those of orher- wamed by the chief woman not [o
worlds, such as the home of gods set foot on soil again. Arriving off
and goddesses,as well as the place the lrish coas[, Bran discovered
where souls briefly rested before that nobody recognizedhim, and
rebirth Bran's greatjourn ey began he was known only as a legendary

r06
Crlrtc MYTHoLoGY

figure who had long ago embarked BnnN THE BLESSED, rhe son
on a great voyage to the other- of the seagod Llp, played a differ-
worlds, so he set sail again; but not ent role to BMN, son of Febal ln
before one desp erate hero forgot Welsh mythology, he was called
the waming and jumPed ashore, Bendigeidfran and seems to have
and immediately tumed into a Pile been an otherworld god, although
of ash, as though he had been dead he was also active as a British king
for centuries in mortal affairs He allowed his
The voyage of Bran is certainlY sister BMNWENto marry the Irish
an ancient myth, although it was king tvtATHOLwCH,wrthout the
not written down until the eighth consentof her hallbrother EFNISIEN.
century by monks Even though Becauseof this slight, Efnisien
the monla added cenain Christian cut off the lips, ears and tails of
elements such as references to Matholwch's horses during the
JesusChrist and Adam's sin, theY wedding feast in Wales. Not
did not obscure the tale's original unnaturally, hosdlities almost
magical atmosphere. (See also broke out between the Irish and
FABULOUSVOYAGES) the Britons as a result, but Bran

visited
BRANbelow),onhisepicvoyage, BRANTHEBLESSTo(ngh),themighry
woman
wherethechieJ
theIsIeoJWomen, rulu oJBitain, sailedto lrelandto rescue
shipto shorewith
broughthis maglc hisbeauttful BranwenIn the
sister,
threadHere,sheholdsa cupofplenty, BranwasmortallY
ensuingbattle,
of theisland
idyllicdelights
symbolizngthe wounded,buthishead,cutfromhisbody,
stayed
Thevoyagers for whatthq thought livedon Hismaglcal ofrebirthis
cauldron
wasayearbeforethq,leJtJorhome alongwithhishead
seenhere,restored,
(Irrusrnnnot'r BvDervur,qMr"tR, 1993) (luusrnerrorv BYAL4NLer, 1984)

managed to avoid a war bY Pre- seven of their own alrny survived


sendng Matholwch with a magic Even Bran was killed, bY a wound
cauldron This otherworld vessel caused by a poisoned arrow On
could bring men back to life, but his deathbed he told his followers
without restoring their speech to cut off his head, which aqqar-
Back in Ireland, Matholwch was ently was still able to eat and talk
unable ro convince his warriors that during the voyage home A later
Bran's gift was adequatecomPen- addidon to the myth saYsthat the
sadon for the damage done to the head was brought to London and
horses So Branwen ceased to be buried facing EuroPe, to ward off
the Irish queen and was made to foreign invaders KingAnhur is said
work in the palacekitchens, even to have used the head for its Power
though she had alreadY given The Celts believed that heads
Matholwch a son and heir, GwERN were the seat of the soul, which
When Bran leamed of how she was may partly explain their pracdce of
being treated, he raised a great head-hunting Even more curious,
army and sailed to lreland In the was the medieval Chnstian claim
ensuing battle the Britons slew that Bran was the first British man
every Irish man there was, but onlY (SeeaISOWONDROUS CAULDRONS)

r07
Crr-Ttc MyrHoLoGy

BMNGAINE (above)and lseult peer

euizzcally at the shyyoungstrangerin the


palace garden, pur4ling w r his idntity
But as soonas the dogleapt fondly onto his
lap, thq recognized the strangeras Tnstan,
who had been wsumed dead Thq wue
confusedatfrstbecausehe was much
changedafterhiswandeings in the
wildwood (luusrncrtonByEvELwpAUr-
c 1g2O
)

BnnNCnINE was rhe maid of


ISEULT,princess of lreland and
lover of rRtsraN. tseuk had been
promised in maniage ro King MARK
of Comwall. Trismn, his nephew,
came to lreland to escort her across
the sea. Before rhe ship sailed,
Iseult's mother gave Brangaine a
love potion for Iseult and Mark on
their wedding night, as ir caused
those who drank ir to love only
each other for the rest of their lives
However, during rhe voyage,Trisran
became thirsty and unwittingly
drank the potion, and then offered
some to Iseult.
Through all rhe ensuing difficul-
ties Brangaine was always loyal,
sharing their secrets,such as when
Trismn was brought ro Mark's
castle mistaken for a wild man.
even tahng Iseuh's place in Mark's
bed on rhe wedding nighr.

BRANWEN(righ? releases a starling


bearinga pleafor help,across the seato
her giantbrother,Bran Whenhereads
of her plght in lreland,he setssail
immediately witha Welsh Jleet
(Ir-rrrsrnenoruByAI.AN LEE,Iggq )

r08
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

BnnUWnN was the daughter of BRES, in Irish mythology, was leadership, the De Danann were
briefly the leader of the TUATHADE under the command of Bres But
Llyr, the Welsh equivalent of the
DANANN,the implacable enemies Breshad no gift for leadershiPand
Irish seagod tm, and sister to BRAN
THE BLESSED,ANd UEruAWYDAN of the F)MORII, the sea gods who becamesomethingof a tyrant On
When High Kitg MATHOLWCH of ruled treland long before rhem the restoradon of Nuada, Bres and
Ireland came to Bran's court at Breswas an unusual leader of the his mother En fled to Elatha in
Tuatha De Danann because his order ro seek Fomoni assistance
Harlech itwas ageed rhat Branwen
father was EIATHA, who was a This caused the second battle of
should be given to him in marriage
was Fomoni king of a land that IaY Magh Tuireadh, in which Nuada
But her half-brother EFNISIEN
under the sea. Elatha had met a was killed Through the bravery of
not consulted and, feeling insulted,
he cut off the lips, earsand tails of Tuatha De Danann goddessnamed the sun god tucu, however, the
En on the sea-shoreand made love Fomoni were routed and Breswas
Matholwch's horses To restore
peace Bran offered the lrish king to her on the sand Bres was bom taken prisoner One version of the
as a result, although En was careful myth explains how, in return for
replacement horses and a magic
to say nothing to her husband his life, Bres promised to instruct
cauldron Matholwch retumed to
BRENDAN,thelish saintandnavigator, about the boy's real father the Tuarha De Danann in the arts
Ireland with Branwen, who was at
first receivedwith geat rqoicing for retumsto lrelnndafterhtswondrous voyage When Bres grew up, he fought of planting and sowing croPs It is
in search of theLandoJPromise Histour againstthe existing inhabitans of possiblethat Bres,like his wife, the
she was generouswith gifts, and
oJtwelve mysteious includdaland
rslnnds Ireland, the ntRnoLG,at the first fertiliry goddessBRIGID,was a deiry
before long she gavebirth to a son,
the
of birdlilu spiits, whichwaspossibly battle of Magh Tuireadh In this connected with agriculture
GWERN But after a few Years
Matholwch's fnends and family LandoJhomise Hisamazngtnle seems engagementNUADA,the leader of
(Iuusrnenoruthe invading Tuatha De Danann,
tobeablafi oJearliervoyages BrunN was one of the three sons
began to complain that the com-
pensation he had received from BY c: 1920
Srrpsrrus,
IAMES ) Iost a hand and in consequencehe of tutREaNN, whose family were
Bran was not enough To satisfY retired for a time Nuada tried to engagedin a feud with the family of
second in a boat made of wood. use a silver replacement without Cian, father of the god LUGH
Ihem, Matholwch insisted that
Miraculous events took place due success,until Miach, son of the When Lugh sent Cian to summon
Branwen relinquish her Position
to the saint's faith. One Easter a healinggod oreru;ECHT,made him the warriors of rhe TUATHADE
as queen and become a cook for
whale appearedso that St Brendan ^ hand of flesh and blood DANANNto battle, Bnan and his
the court.
During the next three Years,as and his followers could hold a ser- However, until Nuada was fully brothers, Iuchar and lucharba,
vice on its broad back After the ser- recoveredand able to resume his killed him during his journey To
Branwen worked in the Palace
vice, the whale plunged under the atone for this act of murder theY
htchens, she reared a starling and
waves and swam away.This great BRIANandhisbrothers setoutona were given by Lugh eight tasks to
taught it to recognizeher brorher
animal was made docile by St pmbusvoyage acrosstheworldtoJufil perform. Among the objecm theY
Bran Then she sent it acrossthe
Brendan, as were numerous whirl- aghttasls,sethythesungodLughWith had to retrieve were three aPPles
sea with a letter tied to its leg,
pools. Even the Devilwas unable to daringandresourcethq sought andfound from the Gardens of the Sun, a
telling of her reatment. When Bran
disurb the saint's serenirywhenhe wondrous treasures,suchasan inincible healing pigskin from the king of
and the Britons leamed of her fate
they brought an army to lreland. showed him the pain of Hell St swordandhealingpigshin,whichhelped Gr.eece,a poisoned spear from the
Brendan also restored to life one of theDeDanannin tharbattlewtththe king of Persia, a cooking-sPit
the Navigatorwas rhe the monks who were his compan- Fomoni (Iu-usrnqnorvBvSTEPHEN Rno, 1912) belonging to the nymphs of an
BnfUOnN
ions after he had insisted on seeing underseakingdom and the seven
dtle given to a sixth-century lrish
pigs of Kitg Asal of the Golden
sainr. Indeed, the account of the this forbidden sight for himself
On the voyageshe also encoun- Pillars.which could be cooked and
rwo voyages undenaken bY St
Brendan was just as PoPular in rhe tered a heathen giant, whom he eaten one day and found alive the
next Finally, they were to shout
Middle Ages as the stories told bapdzed, terrifying mice and an
about the l(nights of the Round enorrnous sea cat. Finally, they rhreetimes on the Hill of Mochaen
Table. This wonder tale is in the reached the island in St Brendan's Having successfullybrought back
sameradition as that of BR{N, son vision. Inhabited by a hermit to Lugh all the magical objects he
required, they then set out to
of Febal, although its direct insPi- clothed in feathers,it was probably
ration was the voyageof the Aran the Land of Promise, a place of perform their last dutY However,
hero MAELDUN.Having nken holY Chrisdan resunection similar to the they were mortally wounded bY
Mochaen and his sons. Tuireann
orders, Brendan prayed to go on a Celtic otherworlds On his return
pilgrimage into unknown lands. An to Ireland, St Brendan refused to therefore asked Lugh if he might
angel then showed him an island in smy in his old monastery but borrow the magical pigskin and so
moved instead to a retreat near heal his sons, but the god refused
a vision. ln search of this beautiful
land, St Brendan set sail twice, first Limerick, where he died. (Seealso and Dnan and his brothers died.
(SeCAISOFABULOU S VOYAGES)
in a craft made from shns, and FABULOUSVOYAGES)

r09
Crlrtc MyrHoLocy

BruCtU was one of the trouble- first and beheaded rhe monsrer, BruCtn, somerimes known as ST BRIDEisJemedhyangek Jromlonato
makers of Irish myrh An Ulsrer whereupon the creaturerose, took Brigit, was a goddessof healing and Bethlehem
on theweof Chnst'sbirthto
lord, he arranged a great feast to up its head and departed.The next fertiliry who was believed to assist fostertheinfantChnstCelticand
which he invired all rhe Ulsrer day Cuchulainn offered his own women in labour. She seems ro Christianmotifsmergein thisscene,while
heroes,and ordered thar the hero's head and the monsrer pronounced have been widely worshipped in theangek'soanng Jlightbq ondtheJrame
portion be given to rhe grearesr him the bravestman in lreland. Ireland and Britain, where she was enhancesthepwafully spintualefect
among them. Ar which point rhe mosr likely known as BRIGANTIA. In (SrBnroe
ByJoHN
Dur.rct'r,
crNVAs,
c 1913
)
three great warriors, CUCHUIIINN, Bntpg seeBRTGTD Irish mythology, she was the wife
CONALLand Laoghaire, sprang up of BREs,the half-roMout god who St Brigit, or Sr Bride, one of
at once and began'fighting each BruceNrm ("Highone" or briefly led the TUATHADE DANANN Ireland's patron sainm, may have
other for the honour In order to "Queen") was the chief goddessof after the first batde of Magh been a priestess of the goddess
settle the argument ir was agreed the Brigantes,rhe dominant rribe in Tuireadh against the FIRBOLG. Bres Brigid prior to her conversion ro
that a monster should be sum- the north of England before rhe was handsome but also oppressive, Chrisdaniry. It was said thar she
moned ro tesr the courage of the invasiron of the Romans. She was like all Fomorii, so his reign was was able to feed animals without
three heroes. Briciu did this by associated with water, war and short. Brigid, however, bore him reducing the available food for the
challengrng each one ro cut off rhe healing, and also with prosperiry. A three sons. She often appearsirsan people, and this also linla herwith
demon's head, on the understand- widely revered goddess, she was alternative for her mother ANU, Brigid, who was celebraredat rhe
ing that the following day rhar man worshipped throughour rhe Celdc which suggesrc rhat rhey were Celtic fesdval of Imbolc on the first
should then lay his own head on world. In Ireland she was known as probably different aspects of the of February, at the same dme as the
the block. Cuchulainn stepped up BRIGIDand in France as Brigindo. same mother goddess. ewes came into milk.

rr0
Crlrrc MvrHoLoGY

CelqnN, in Irish mytholory,


was a misshapen druid of novoRtt
origin who was said to have studied
sorcery for seventeen years. Queen
MEDB of Connachr dispatched
Calatin along with his numerous
sons to fight the Ulster hero CAILTE,a Fanian warnorandbard,was
CUCHUIATNN'. All of them had their renowned Jorhissongs andlegends Bards
Ieft hands and right feer missing, or tyic poetsplayeda centralrolein Celtic
but they never missed with their society,perpetuatingthemysteies,praising
poisoned spears, and Cuchulainn theirleaders
and satinzngthar enemies
only succeeded in beadng rhem flouishedin lrelandnghtup
Bardicschools
CAER wu afairy maiilatwho walwd C-runf, son of Row,+w,was a with the assistanceof a Connacht to thesnenteanthcentury(Aeu,crr^rr
avR
by Aonghus Shechosenlweas a ntanfor Fenian warrior and poet, and a warriorwho disapproved of such a H,+veu c 1890)
pan oJher hfe. What the sryansgathud cousin of nruruMACC))L, Ieader of one-sidedcontest. The destruction
on the Lalu oJ the Dragon's Mouth, the FIANNA,the wariorbodyguard of the male Caladns did not spell becausethe dog was his namesake,
Aonghuswmt toJind Caer and win her of the High King of lreland. Cailte, the end of Cuchulainn's troubles, or becauseit would have been dis-
Iwe. ,4s he reachedout to hqhe was also though exceptionally thin, was a however, for not long afterwards courteous to refuse a piece of the
tuned into a s'tttan,and thq flan away formidable fighter and is credited Calatin's wife gave birth to three cooked meat, Cuchulainn stopped
togethq. (luusrnenorrvGrrur Srrw,cRD,
I995) with killing LIR, the sea god who daughters, who were blinded in and took hold of the dog's shoul-
was rhe father of ueN,qruNANMAC one eye, like the Germanic god der fu a result, his own hand and
Bructr seeBRTGTD uR. But it was as a poet that he was Odin, so as to leam the magic ars. shoulder withered. Gravely weak-
most admired, and his most Soon the three Calatin sisters ened, he sdll advanced with his
C-AER*as afairymaiden lovedby famous audience was St Patrick. becamepowerful wirches, and rhey faithful charioteerIAEG
AONGHUS,the Irish love god. Her Possibly after retuming from an deceived Cuchulainn wrth their
father Ethal was one of the TTJATIIA otherworld, Cailte was said to have spells, and so assisted Queen C,tueloT seeHEROTC
QUEST5
DE DANANN. Aonghus became uavelled through Ireland recount- Medb's invasion of Ulster. When
aware of Caer in a dream and so ing to the saint the legends of the Cuchulainn rode out in his chariot C-nUUIOS was rhe god of the
atracted was he to her beaury that hills, woods and lakes that they against the invaders, he came Remi, a Celtic ribe living in what is
he fell into a deep sickness.When encountered, and also the great acrossthese hideous women cook- now Belgium, although there is
the identity of Caerwas discovered, exploits and batdes of the Fianna. ing a dog next to the road Either evidence that he was also wor-
Aonghus immediately asked her shipped as a divinity of war in
father for her hand, but Ethal said nonhem Brimin and at the town of
itwas not in his power to granr rhis Camulodunum ("The Fort of
becausehis daughter had taken the Camulos"), modem Colchester,in
form of a swan. It was agreed,how- Essex. The name of the town
ever, that Aonghus could ask Caer formed the basis for the mythical
to mary him but only if he was city of Camelot. The Romans as-
able to recognize her from among sociated Camulos with their god
the large flock of swans with whom Mars. He was said to wield an
she lived. invincible sword.
When the swans arrived at the
Lake of the Dragon's Mouth, C-nnnnewC, in welsh myrh-
Aonghus went to the shore and, ology, was the son of BR.aN (son of
recognizing Caer, called out her the sea god, Llp). When Bran
name. Afterwards Aonghus and sailed with his army to Ireland to
Caerwere married. avengethe ill-ueatment of his sis-
ter BMNWEN by the High Kirg
CA IELOT,a mythicalcastle-city named MATHOLWCH, he left Caradawc as
aftr Camulos, l4,as
theheartoJArthur's chief steward. When news of
hingdom, theseatof hispou,er,symbolof Bran's death arrived, Caradawcwas
hisgolden ageandhismostbelnedhome overthrown by Caswallon, son of
ItsshiningtowersdrevrhnightsJrom all the death god Beli.
wer theworfl Partof themystique of
Camelot is its elusivelocation
whichhas yet CennoNEK see cELrrc
to be found (tlrusrncflor'r BvATANLEE,lg}q) OTHERWORLDS

tll
Crlrrc MyrHoLocy

CERIDWENboika n.agical brarthoprng


to endowherill.favouredsonwithwidom.
At theandoJayear,thebrothwouWfuA
justthreepreciousdropsoJinspiration;
but
thesesplashed onto thelundoJGvrwn
Bach,whobecame all-hnwing.(tuusrnrnoN
BYJ^MESAttxfivpen,
1995)

CATHBAD (abwe), the inspireddruid ARTHUR in his lasr barrle, at


and seer,predicted Dardre's traglc destiny Camlan. At firsr none of Sir
ather birth Druids,bothmaleandfemale, MoDRED'smen would fighr Morfan
heldhigh ranh in Celtic societyThq were because they thought he was ugly
counwllors,judges, tecichm and enough to be a devil.
ambassadors Evena htgh hing could not
speahat an assanblybeJorehisdruid CEnNUNNOS was a Celdc god
(luusrnenoru
ByNtcKBE{LE,
1995) worshipped in both France and
Britain. He is usually depicted
CnfHnnD, in Irish mythology, sitting cross-leggedand wearing a
wasa seeranddruid,andadvisor sleevelessunic and bead necklace.
to CONCHOBHAR MACNESSA,the He has an impressive pair of
hng of Ulsrer Cathbad prophesied antlers, and the name Cemunnos
that though ortnoRE would have means "the Homed One", which
great beauty she would bring suggests that he was a god of wild
destruction ro Ulsrer He also fore- animals and the foresr,ahhough he
told that the hero CUCHULqINN has also been seenas a god of plen-
would have a glorious bur shorr ry The Romansidenrified him wirh
life When King Conchobhar Mac their god Mercury, rhe messenger
Nessa became cruel rowards rhe god and the guide of the dead to
end of his reign, Cathbad cursed the underworld. In medieval
the king and his srronghold at Ireland the anders of Cemunnos
Emain Macha. Carhbad had three were transferred ro the Devil.
children, DECHTIRE, the mother of
Cuchulainn, Elbha, rhe morher of CfSrun was the daughter of Bith,
NAOISE,and Findchaem, mother of son of Noah and one of the earliest
CONALLCeamach. arrivals in lreland. In her myrh,
Celtic and Hebrew radidons were
CfnlnWEN was a welsh god- brough t somewhar u ncomfo rtably
dess of fertility and the mother of together by the monks who wrore
Afagddu, reputedly the ugliest man down the sagasand who suggested
in the world. To compensarefor his that the first setrlers had reached
Iooks Ceridwen boiled a cauldron lreland before the Flood. Although
of knowledge for ayear and a day Bith was denied a place in rhe fuk,
so thatAfagddu could become wise he was fortunate to be advisedby a
and respected,and she set Gwion god to build his own boat. Cesair
Bach, the second son, to watch appears to have guided him to rhis
over the por. Bur Afagddu was decision as well. They sailed for
denied the prophedc gift when a sevenyearsand eventually reached
drop fell on Gwion Bach's finger
and he unthinkingly sucked it ln CESAIR, granddaughta oJNoah, set sail
fury, Ceridwen chased and are withhcrJathq, Bith, to escarythe Flood.
Gwion Bach, only later to reincar- After a serar-yearvoyage,thq reached the
nate him as TALIESIN, who was the shoresof lreland. Yet neither Cesairnorhq
greatest of all rhe Welsh bards.
fatho surnvedthe Floodwhenit ngu@
Ceridwen had another equally ugly the land, although her husband, Fintan,
son, Morfan, who was also a fear- escapedbychan$nginto a vrlmon.
some warrior. He fought with King (Iuusrntnol ByJAMEs
ALDc{NDEI,
IggS)

112
CeITIc MyrHoLoGY

the daughter of Etain Oig and At this time Conaire Mor was
CORMAC king of Ulsrer. However, some distance from Tara As he
Cormac wztsso disappointed not to headed back ro rhe palace in his
have a son that he ordered Mess chariot, a flock of birds descended
Buachallato be thrown into a pit. upon him Theyhad such wonder-
According to the myth, the baby ful plumage rhat Conaire Mor
girl was savedby rwo hnd-hearted forgot the raboo about hlling birds
servants, who could not bring and got out his sling. The birds
themselvesto carry out the king's shed their fearhersand artacked rhe
order lnstead they gave Mess charioteer as warriors But one of
CERI\TUNNOS, a Celtichunter godoJ Buachallato a cowherd.When she the birdlike fighters, who was more
beasts,is typicallydepictedin alotus grew up, herbeautywas so remark- handsome than the rest, protected
positionThe"horned one"wasalordof able that Eterscel,the High King of Conaire Mor. He inrroduced him-
animakandishere sunoundedw wild Ireland, decided to manryher He self as his father Nemglan and CONAIREMORwasburdenedby more
creatures sucha thestagboarandlion was also persuadedby a prophecy reminded the young man rhar he geis(taboos) thananyotherl'ishwarlord
In onehandhe closps awarior'storc, which said that an obscurewoman must never cast stones ar birds for Violation oJgeisledto misJortuneor death
in theothera strpent,demonstrating would bear him a famousson. But they were his own kin As a andmarhed a traglcturning-point
in the
hispwr. (Gurvorsnup ccuLDRoN,
GTLDED on the night before the wedding, penance,Nemglan told his son to hero'shfe Despite hiswisdom,Conaire
srLVE&c 1008C) Mess Buachallaslept with the god walk naked along the road to Tara, Mor wasluredbyhisenemies into,
Nemglan, who had magnificenr can)nng only his sling If he did breahinghisgeisonebyone
Ireland, where Cesairwas married plumage. From this union was this, and promised ro rule lreland (luusrnrnoru nySrrpHrruRao,1910
)
ro FINTAN.When the rising warers bom Conaire Mor. whom Mess in peace, Conaire Mor would be
of the Flood engulfed the land, Buachallapassedoff as the son of made High Itng part in the growing disorder, the
Fintan saved himself by changing Eterscel The one instrucrion rhat So it was that Conaire Mor was country soon slid back into clan
into a salmon, but the rest of Bith's Nemglan told Mess Buachalla to received atTaraas the High Kirg. warfare Evenually, the High Kirg
famrly drowned This myth is lqrown give to their child was rhar he was Peaceand prosperity ar first marked had to forgo the ways of peaceand
as the first invasion of lreland. never to hll a bird. his reign, although the lure of plun- break his promise to his farher.
Subsequentinvasionswere by the When Conaire Morwas a young der gradually drew the trish back to Conaire Mor soon realizedrhar this
PARTHOLONand Nemed, the man, Etersceldied and the right of their old habit of cartle-raiding. would bring about his own down-
FoMoNr and ruente DE DANANN, successionwas raised in Tara, the Since ConaireMorwas reluctant to fall. While on campaign, he came
who were all more or less super- Irish capital It was agreedto follow punish severely those who rook to a roadsidehostel where he was
natural in nature The final invasion the ancient custom of the dream greetedby three strangehorsemen,
of lreland was by the sons of After a feast,one of the court would CLIODHNAfledto Glandore to livewith whose clothes, weapons, bodies
MIIESIUS,who camefrom Spainand have a spell of truth sung over him hermortallwer, Ciabhan,but theseagod, and horseswere all red A hideous
brought human rule to the island as he slept The man rhe courtier Manannan Mac Lir, sent a great wave to old woman told Conaire Mor rhar
dreamed abour would then be the scoopher up and bnngher home Here, during his stay in the hostel
CltOnHNA, in Irish mythology, next High King In rhe succession lulled to sleepbyJairy music, shednfts "neither skin nor flesh of you wrll
was an otherworld goddess of dream a naked man was revealed, bach toJairyland The Wave oJCliodhna is escapefrom the place to which you
beauty. [t was said that her rhree walhng along the road to Tara with still one oJ the threegreat wavesoJlreland have come, savewhat rhe birds will
magical birds could sing the sick ro a sling in his hand (IrrusrnenorByJAMES Ar-H(
rvorn,1995) take in rheir claws " The same
sleepand cure them. Cliodhna was night a rebel force surrounded the
passionatelyin love with a mortal hostel and attacked Three dmes
named Ciabhan,a yourh with won- the building caught fire and three
derful curling lock One day on times the flames were brought
the shore near Cork, while Ciabhan under control, but all the water had
went hundng inland, Cliodhna was now been used When a druid
put into a magic sleep by the sea accompanying the rebels laid a
god ivt,+ru,eNNAN MACLIR,who then spell of thirst on the High King, he
sent a wave to pull her back ro rhe sent one of his companionsto fetch
[^andof Promise. some water On retuming, the war-
rior saw that the fight was over and
CONrunf MOn was a High Conaire Mor's severedhead lay on
King of Ireland He was the son of the floor So he poured the warer
a cowherd's foster-daughternamed into the king's head, at which
Mess Buachallaand the bird god Conaire Mor's decapitated head
NEMGIANHis motherwas acrually praised him for his senseof dury

rl3
CTITIC MYTHoLoGY

SAGES AND SEERS


H E S P I R I T U A LS E E R Sa n d s h a m a n s o f
Celtic myth were endowed wirh
extraordinarygifts of proph ecy,
wisdom and healing.They
enjoyed a profound rapport with narural
and supernatural forces, and acted as
intermediaries between the realms of
the living and the dead, berween rhe
visible world of men and the invisible
otherworld, a realm of wondrous
spints. Most famous of all was Arrhur's
wise counsellor, Merlin; but other
inspired druids Amairgen, Taliesin
and Cathbad feature in Celtic myths
as prophetic bards and counsellors [o
clan chiefs and kings. Some lived as
hermits in the wilderness, while
remaining powerful in Cekic society.
Although on the whole helpful to
rnortals, some dark sorceresses,such as
Morgan, Nimue or the Calatihs, used
their supernatural gifts ro bewitch and
rnanipulate mortals for their own ends.

MoRcaru Ln Fev (abovenght), QueenoJ Avalon,the otherworldlyIsleof Apples,bears


an apple bough, the celtic symboloJpeaceand plenty A glfted sorceress,
sheis oJten
portrayed as a darh soul, thwartingArthur and manipulatingheroes At a deeperlevel,
she is a winter goddessof darhnessand death,opposingArthur, theLord of summer
Sherorcals the redeemingaspectof her characterin her role as sovereignhealeroJ Avalon
and guardian of Arthur's body in death (Iuusrnarroru
rv srueRrLrntqoun,1994
)

Mrnrtru (ngh) is best rememberedas the fatherly and spiitual guardian of Arthur A
wise seer,Merltn counselledthe younghing sometimessternlyand sometimesgently, but
always with wisdom Merlin was alsoa peerlesssage,crediteduth the designof the
Round Table, the plan for Camelot and the stone'ing at StonehengeHe leamt his craft

from a master, Bleise,portrayedhere as anhistonan recordingthedeedsoJ Arthur's


ragn, as reportedby Merlin (MeruuscRrpr
rllusrunoN, c i300)
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

Hrrr,cwEs helow) was a


in theArthunan
sorceress
mythswho had sether heart
on the noblehnight Sv
I-ancelot,whom shehad
lovedfrom aJarJor some
sevenyears Eventually,she
managedto lurehtm tnto
her ChapelPenlousand
there shetned all the
methodsshehnewto inspire
hts loveJor her But tt was
to no avatlbecause
the
steadJast and loyal hnight
lovedonewomanonly,
Arthur'squeen,theJair
Guinnere, and he had come
to thechapelwith but one
missrontn mtnd,whtchwas
to collectheahngtalismans

Jor thewoundedlzntght Str


Meliot When l-ancelotleft
wrththetahsmans,he
was
completelyuntouchedlry
Hellawes'loveand evenher
magcal craJt Thesorceress

Jinallyreahzedthat he
would ne,terlwe her and
shedtedoJabrohenheart
(lr-r-usrnarroru
BYAuBREY
BFARDSLEY,c 1870)

Dnurps (abwe) heldbothpoliticaland sptntual


power in Celtrc societyand wereglfted not only as
shamansand seersbut alsoas legaland moral
advisors Druids underwenta long apprenticeshtp
oJat leasttwaty years,learningthe mystmesand
lnws by heart Hqe, druids on a snowyhill celebrate
the wintu sokticebygathmngabough oJ mistletoe,
cutwtth the sacredgoWatsichlebornebythe

Joranost druid CtaeDRUTDS


BRTNGTNG
lNrHEMrsrLEroE
By
C HENRY AND E A HoRNED, c,qNv,rs, 1890 )

Tnueslru QeJt),a propheticpoet and shamanistic


seer,was$Jtedwrth all-seeingwisdomaftu
consuminga "geal" oJ inspirationfrom Ceidwen's
cauAron Wales'sgreatestbard, heJoretold the
comingoJthe Saxonsand the oppression
oJthe
Cy^ry as well as his own death He appearshereas
an eagle,thebird oJtenchosenbyshamanson their
spirirJlighu or trance)ournqs to the othenrorld The
eagJe'sgoW nimbus symbolkesTaliesin'sradiant
btOttt (tuusrntnoNBySruARr
Lrnt4onN,1991)

lI5
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

CONnlL, in Irish mythology, refused his advances and eloped hero just managed to win by the
was the foster-brother of the Ulster with a handsome young warrior use of cunning, they became lovers
hero CUCHUI-,{INNAs children, named NAolSE.But the hng never and Conlai was conceived. When
they swore that if either was hlled gave up his passion, and so even- he left, Cuchulainn gave Aoifa a
first the other would avengehim. ually he had Naoise hlled and was gold ring. Yearslater Conlai wore
When Queen MEDBof Connacht married to Deirdre. She found her this ring on a visit to Ulster, where
invaded Ulster, Cuchulainn faced situation so intolerable that she he challenged the local heroes to
her army single-handed,but he was committed suicide by throwing combat. Just like his father, Conlai
doomed becausehe had offended herself from a speeding chariot. was quick to anger and soon over-
the war goddess MoRRIGAN.After Fergus Mac Roth, appalled by came CONALL,Cuchulainn's foster-
Cuchulainn had been killed, and Conchobhar's behaviour, offered brother Despite the misgivings of
his head and sword-hand cut offby his servicesto Ulster's enemiesand his wife EMER,Cuchulainn could
the enemy, the warriors of Ulster a long war ensued. Conchobhar not resist fighting the young
were stined by Conall to wreak was himself hlled by a magrcsling- stranger himself. Too proud to
bloody revenge. They caught up shot. It was the famous "brain ball" announce his own identity when
with Queen Medb's army and made by Conall out of the brains of challenged by Cuchulainn, Conlai
Conall slew those who had killed CONALLoJtheVictones, aveteran a slain Leinster king. The ball accepted the possibility of death
his foster-brother. Later, Conall warlord,avenged deathby
Cuchulainn's lodged in the hng's skull, and his and drew his sword. Although
went on to ravage the whole of slayinghishillmonebyone.Fromthe doctors advised him to avoid any Cuchulainn was impressed by
Ireland as he punished Queen MacDa Tho,
brainof oneoJhisvictims, strenous exerciseand excitement. sword-play that matched his own,
Medb's allies one by one. In doing hemadea maglcbrainball, alethal Some yearslater Conchobhar Mac he lost his temper the moment
so he eamed his title, Caemach weaponConallhere iswelcomedby his Nessagot into arageand the "brain Conlai cut off one of his locks of
("of the Victories"). lJlsterman in MacDa Tho'sdun
at aJeast ball" causedhis death. hair. The terrible combat only
(lrrusrn
tnorBY Pen,1910
STEPHEN )
N'IncNnssn,
CoNcnoBHAR CONU,I, somerimesknown as CONI-AI, theill-starcdsonof Aorfaand
in Irish mythology, was an Ulster of her royal marriage through a Connla, was the doomed son of the Cuchulainn, grm up in Slye,a strangerto
king. He was the son of Fachtna secret aflairwith a druid. When her great Ulster hero CUCHUL{INN. hisJatherWhenhewent to Ukterto
Fathach and rurssa, a local beaury husband died shonly after the wed- According to one Irish tradition, challaryethelocalheroes,hemet
who, according to one tradition, ding, Nessa was courted by his Cuchulainn hadvisited the l-and of Cuchulainn combat
in single andwa
conceived Conchobhar on the eve half-brother and successor,FERGUS Shadows in order to challenge the hilled Recogntanghissontoolate,
MAC R?TH. But she would onlY warrior woman AOIFAto single Cuchulainn wu wemvhelmed wrthgnef.
CONCHOBHAR 1\4ACNESSA, ahigh agree to become his wife on the combat. After the fight, which the (luusrnerolr By IAMESALH<rvorn, 1995)

hingof lreland,grantedaffns to theyoung condidon that he would first let her


Cuchulainn, but when the boy grasped his son Conchobhar rule as king of
a
spears,thq splinteredin his hand; nrarct, Ulster for a year. An ambitious and
his stcmp No
chanotshatteredbeneath determined woman, Nessa
weaponswithstoodthehero's mighty grasp instructed her son how to be a
untilhewas glventhehing's own arrns great ruler so that when the dme
(Iu-usrnrnoru fulo,l9l0)
avSrrpnrru arrived for Fergus Mac Roth to
retum to the throne, the people of
Ulster simply refused to let
Conchobhar step down.
Although he was maried, Kitg
Conchobhar fell deeply in love with
DEIRDRE,whO WAS SOMCTiMES
called Derdriu ("of the Sorrows").
She was the daughter of an Ulster
chieftain, and at herbinh the druid
CATHBAD had wamed that, though
Deirdre would be the most beauti-
ful woman in lreland and would
marry a king, she would be the
cause of death and destruction
throughout the land. By the time
Deirdre grew up, Conchobharwas
an old man, and she in disgust

t16
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

endedwhen Cuchulainn drove his Conuec Mec Anrwas rhe


spear through Conlai's stomach. High King of Ireland during the
Only then did Cuchulainn notice period that FINNMACCOOLled the
on his young opponent's finger the Fenian warrior band. He was the
gold ring he had given to Aoifa. most famous of the earlyrulers of
Cuchulainn, overwhelmed with Ireland, his reign being tentadvely
remorse and grief, canied the dyrng dated from 227 to 266. Cormac
Conlai to his house and afterwards Mac Art was the Irish Solomon, a
buried his forgotten son. wise and powerful king, who was
well served by the brave exploits of
COnUeC was the son of rhe Finn MacCool. His wisdom seems
Ulster hrg CONCHOBHAR MAC to have impressed the TUATFIA DE
NESSA.An Irish myth tells of his DANANN.These gods and goddess-
distasteat his father's treacheryin es invited Cormac Mac Art to their
hlling NAOISE,the husband of home in the othenvorld, where
DEIRDM, and of his going into they gave him wonderful presens.
volunmry exile with the deposed One of these was a silver branch
Ulster ruIer FERGUS MACROTH.Not that bore golden apples, and when
until he receivedan invitation from shaken produced music that could
his father Conchobhar, when the cure the sickandwounded. On his
dF tg hng had nominated Cormac own death Cormat Mac An had to
as his successor,did he consider hand back this incredible talisman
retuming home. However, a One of Cormac's sons, Cellach,
druidess had wamed Cormac that raped the niece of Aonghus of the
if he went back to Ulster he would CORMAC @elow), returninghome afta CORMAC IVf{CARTS (abwe) ragn Tenible Spear In the ensuing fight,
be killed, but he set out anyway hulongvoluntary acile,stoppedhya was dtstingushedbypeaceandplmty Cellach was slain and Cormac lost
and on the joumey he fell into a roaikrde hostelwhqe he wa lulled n sleep A wr,e and good man, he wa Jnoured by an eye. As a High King could have
deep magrc sleep and was slain by by the soft notesof aharp DeJarceless
in the Tuatha De Danann who inited him to no imperfection Cormac had to
a group of warriors. The atmckwas hrs enchantedsleep,he wu slain by tharhiddnworld, and gavehima anrative step down and his son Cairbe took
said to have been arranged by a assdssins,sentby theharpkt, Cratfttne, in applebranch In tunewtth Chnsttan his place. The repumtion of the
jealous husband, whose wife had rnenge for Cormac's afiair wtthhts Ufe hindness,he warmly welcomedSt Patnch at High King remained so strong that
fallen in love with Cormac. (IrusrnenorayNrcxBaqr-e,
I995) hts court (Iuusrmnorunvleurs Ar-rx.al.iprn
1995) Iater the Insh Chnstians also adopt-
ed him. It was claimed that Cormac
Mac Art leamed of the Christian
faith before it was actually preached
in Ireland by St Patrick, with the
result that he ordered that he
should not be buried at the royal
cemetery by the River Boyne
becauseof its pagan associadons.

CnnnnNE was the goldsmirh of


the TUATI]ADE DANANTV and the
brorher of cotgHNIU, the smith
god, and Luchtar, the carpenter.
During the second battle of Magh
Tuireadh, when the De Danann
finally defeated the FOMORII,the
three brothers could be seen on the
battlefield making and repairing
spears with magical speed As
Goibhniu fashioned a blade with
three blows of his hammer, Luchtar
carved a handle in a flash, and
Creidhne crafted rivets that flew
into place and bonded at once.

tl7
CrlTrc MvrHoLocY

RoTH,Dechtire along with fifty of it was not obvrous to everyonejust enemiesand he soon tookup aITIls
her kinswomen flew to the other- how strong and brave he was until against three semi-divine wariors
world in the form of a flock of he hlled an enorrnoushound with named Foill, Fannell and Tuachell,
birds During the wedding feastshe his bare hands One day, arriving aswell as their numerous followers,
had swallowed a fly and dreamed late at the gate of a house where all of whom he hlled. In this com-
as a result of the sun god LIJGH, King Cochobhar Mac Nessa was bat Cuchulainn displayed for the
who told her ro make this joumey. being entertained by the Ulster first dme the dreadful shape of his
Cathbad reassured his son-in-law smith CULANN,the young hero was battle-frenzy. His body trembled
by sapng that Dechtire had merely attackedby the ferociousguard dog violently; his heels and calves
gone to visit her otherworld re- and only savedhimself by dashing appearedin front; one eye receded
lations, for her mother was a out its brains on one of the gate's into his head, the other stood out
daughter of rhe god eorucHUS In pillars. Their host had now lost a huge and red on his cheek; a man's
fact, Lugh kept Dechtire there for faithful guardian, so Setantaoffered head could fit into his jaw; his hair
his own pleasure for three years to take the hound's place while a bristled like hawthom, with a drop
When Dechtire and her women replacement was found When of blood at the end of each single
retumed to Emain Macha, the Culann thanked the young warrior hair; and from the top of his head
stronghold of the Ulster kings, in but declined his offer. it was decid- arosea thick coiumn of dark blood
CUCHUIAINN as a youngsterlivedat the form of brightly coloured birds, ed that henceforth Setantawould Iike the mast of a ship. Retuming to
the court of the High King wherehe Dechdrewas expectingLugh's son, be known as Cuchulainn ("the Emain Macha in his chariot,
trained with other sonsoJchieJtains,whom Setanta Sualtam Mac Roth was so Hound of Culann") "gaced with the bleeding headsof
he soonoutstipped in arms and might pleased to have his wife home Even though Cathbad wamed his enemies",and with the battle-
Ahhoughsmall,he glowedwith an inner again that when the boy was bom that anyone going to battle for the frenry still upon him, Cuchulainn
divinelight and warmth, which he inheited he accepredhim as his own child first time on a cermin day was des- was only stopped from circling the
JromhisJatherthe sungod Lugh As a youth, Setanta quickly tined for a short life, Cuchulainn defencesand screamingfor a fight
(LLusmencr|
nvSrrpurru
Rno,1912) leamed the wavs of the warrior. but could nor wait to dealwith Ulster's through a ploy of the Ulster queen
Mughain She led out of Emain
CUcHUIAINN, in trish myrh- Macha some hundred and fifty
ology, was the champion warrior naked women carrying three vats of
o[ Ulster His name means "the cold water An embarrassed or
Hound of Culann", although he amazed Cuchulainn was swiftly
was usually called the Hound of womanhandled into the vats The
Ulster Cuchulainn was the lnsh first one burst is sides The second
Achilles, a larger-than-life fighter boiled furiously, but the last vat
whose bouts of [emper often became only very hot. Thus was
causedgrief to himself and others the young hero tamed after his first
Anger certainly made him slay his tasteof blood.
son CoNtAI, when the young man In his calm, everyday state of
ravelled from the [^and of Shadows mind Cuchulainn was a favourite of
to visit Ulster The fifteen-year-old womenfolk But he fell in love wrth
warrior was Cuchulainn's son by EMER,the daughter of Fogall, a wrly
the wamor-princess AOIFANeither chieftain whose castlewas close to
father nor son would identifi them- Dublin Cuchulainn asked for
selves,so a tragic fight ensued A Emer's hand but Fogall, who was
gold .irg on Conlai's finger againstthe match, pointed out that
revealed too late that he was Cuchulainn had yet to esrablishhis
Cuchulainn's own offpsring reputation as a warrior and sug-
Cuchulainn's mother was gestedthat he should go and leam
DECHTIRE,the daughter of the
druid )ATHBAD,an advisor to the CUCHUIAINN,theInshAchilles,
Kirg CONCHOBHARMAC NE55A It performdmanymightydeeds inhisbneJ
was Cathbad who foretold that yearsThehero's dreamy qesreflect
Cuchulainn would become agreat hrsidealism, in the
whichis expressed
warrior but die young Shortly after insciptionbeneath thisportrait,"I carenot
her marriage to SUALTAMMAC thoughllastbuta dayiJmynameand
ROTH,who was the brother of the myJamearea pwer Jorater"
deposed Ulster ruler FERGUS MAC (CucHuretrll ByJoHN DuNcAN, c,tnves, l9l3)

1r8
Crlrtc MYrHoLocY

For a year and a day Cuchuiainn


was taught by Scathach, and
became the lover of her daughter
UATHACHScathachseemsto have
fearedfor the saferyof Cuchulainn,
and she wamed him without suc-
cess not to challenge her sister
Aoifa But Cuchulainn beat Aoifa
by cunning, and afterwards she
became his mistress, conceiving
the unfortunate Conlai Cuchulainn
finally retumed to Fogall's strong-
hold and claimed Emer, but only
after a heated battle wrth Fogall and
his warriors, during which Fogall
leapt to his death escapingthe hero
Acclaimed as the champion of
Ireland in a beheading contest, CUCHUIAINNjourneyed to theIsleoJ
Cuchulainn was soon unbeatable to trainin themartialarts Onthe
Sltye
in combat, a skill he was to need Islehemetamanwhogavehimaflaming
dearly in his last campaign, which wheeltoguidehimthroughthedeadly
was a single-handed defence of qngnire TheguidewashisJather,thesun
Ulster against the invading army ol god,Lugh(Iuusrnqrt,r," Rno,
avSrrpnrru 1912
)
Queen MEDB of Connacht The
main reason fo'r this large-scale Medb's forcesby the use of clever
cattle raid was a famous brown bull racticsand lighrning attacks,until
which was kept in Cuailgne But the effects of Macha's curse had
the tyrannical ruler of Ulsrer, King almost worn off, and the dazed
Conchobhar Mac Nessa, also warriors were able ro respond to
played a part in gathering rebei'lious SualtamMac Roth's call to arms
Ulstermen and others from many But their help came too iate for
parts of Ireland to Queen Medb's Cuchulainn Pressedon all sidesbY
side. One prophecy told the queen his enemies,the Ulster chamPion
that there would be "crimson and was overcometn spire of aid from
red" upon her forces becauseof his divine father, rhe sun god Lugh
Cuchulainn's prowess,but she was His only companion, L-aeg,was laid
derermined to invade and she also low with a spear,then Cuchulainn
had three advantages Firsr, the himself suffereda temble stomach
greathero had made bitter enemies wound that even Lugh could not
of rhe CATATIN family, whose heal Finally, Cuchulainn ded him-
daughterswere wrtches Just pnor self ro an upright stone in order to
to his last stand along with his light dll his last breath As soon as
faithful charioreerIAEG,they cast a he died Morrigan, in the form of a
spell on Cuchulainn which with- crow, settled on his shoulder and
ered a shoulder and a hand his enemies cut off his head and
Second, Medb attacked when right hand, leavinghis bodY for the
Ulster's heroes were laid low by carrion birds Conall, his foster-
MACHA'scurse, and were unable to brother, managed to recover the
CUCHUIAINN, mortally woundedin from the Scottish champion fight for five days and nights missing parts, but Ulster wePt for
hsJinal combatbut determinedto ftght to Domhall. Domhall told Cuchulainn Finally, Cuchulainn had lost the the lossof their champion Indeed,
the end,lashedhimselfto a pillar and died rhat his best trainer in arms would support of the goddessMORRIGAN, so widespreadwas Cuchulainn's
onhisfeet At theend a crw settledonhis be SCATIIACH, awanior-pnncess in because he had rejected her fame that his exploits inlluenced
shouher, signtfyingdeath This memonal the Land of Shadows So he trav- passionare advances Yet he still the developmenr of the Arthunan
rymbolkes all thosewho JoughtJor lish elled to this mysterious land and managed to conduct a successful myths in Britain and France (See
indqendarce. (Tnr Dr.,rrnoFcucHUtArNN served Scathach She taught the single-handed defence and was also MAGICAND ENCHANTMENT,
BY O SHEPP RD. sRoNzt, 1916 ) young hero his famousbattle leap. able to slow the advanceof Queen CELTICROMANCE)

I19
Celrrc MvrHoLocY

CUufNN, in lrish myrhology, CU ROt andhiscomrade,Cuchulninn, on


was an Ulster smith who was onewiWescapade, raidedInisTerFalga,
thought to be a reincamation of the offthehing's bootyandbeautiful
carrying
sea god MANANNANMAc tlR It was daughter,BlnthnatWen theheroes fell
his enormous guardian dog that outwq thegtrrl,Cuchulcinnwas qt one
young Semnta hlled with his bare pointbeatatandbuned upto hisarms
hands. Culann was angry about whileCu Roigalloped offwrthBlathnat
this so Setantaoffered to become (luusrnnnoru At-Ex
ByIAMES rvpen,
I 995
)
his hound until a new one was
trained. Thereafterthe young man Culhwch AIso like Balor, the
was known as CIJCHUL{INN."the Welsh glant did not favour the idea
Hound of Culann". of his daughter marrying a man. At
intewiews held on successivedays
CUtnwCn, in welsh myth- Yspaddaden threw a poisoned
ology, was the son of Cildydd, one spear at Culhwch and his compan-
of KingARTHUR'sk"ryhtt. His step- ions, but they managed on each
mother hated Culhwch so much occasion to catch it and throw it
that she placed a curse on him that back. When Culhwch finally put
he could marry only OLWEN,the out one of the giant's eyeswith a
daughter of the giant Yspaddaden. retum throw, Yspaddaden agreed
This fate. however, seemed less to the marriage on condition that
dreadful once Culhwch found Culhwch perform a whole seriesof
Olwen, a task which took over a difficult tasks.With the assistance
year, for they fell deeply in love. of KingArthur's men and a couple
Culhwch's nexl problem was how of divine allies, Culhwch success-
to persuade her giant father to fully completed these trials, then
agree ro the match. Like the lrish killed Yspaddaden and married
Cyclops BALoR,Yspaddaden's eye- Olwen. (Seealso HERoIcQUESTS)
lids needed to be levered up with
supports in order for him to see Cuuel (whose name means
"sky") was the father of the Fenian
CUHNN below),theLllstersmith,and hero Finn Mac Cumal, more com-
theHighKingConchobhar gazein monly known as FINNMACCOOL,
amazement at theyoungCuchulainn who who was born after his father's
slanCulann'sJiercehoundoutnghtwhen death. Cumal was also a renowned
thegeat guarddoghadattached thehero Ieader of the FIANNAand chief of
at the gateTo compansateJorhillinghis the CIan Bascna.He was killed by
hound,Cuchulainn offoedto talu itsplace Jadhg, a druid, who had been
(tllusrncfloN sv SrEprer.rPe'r:.,1912) enraged when Cumal eloped with
his daughter.

Cu Rot (whose name means


"hound of Roi") was a Munster
hng. It was King Cu Roi who trans-
formed himself into IJATH, the
dreadful giant, in order to choose
the champion of lreland. The three

CULIIWCH (nght), onhis questJor


Olwen, arives at Afthur's court, seehing
help and counsel ThisVictoian painting
e,tohesa medievalmood,portrayingthe
hero as a courtlyhunterJrom the Ageof
Chivalry The surlystovard couldbe
Arthur's brusque seneschal,I(qt (xrr-nwvcn,
Grsxrl,w<no,c 1940)
rHEKfNG'sSoNayAnrnrrn

I20
Crlrrc MYrHoLocy

contenders for the championship -


Laoghaire, Cuchulainn's foster-
brother coNALL, and cucuulAlNN
himself - were invited by Cu Roi to
a beheading contesr, which only
Cuchulainn had enough courage to
go through with. I-ater, Cu Roi and
Cuchulainn carried off ntlruNer,
a beautiful woman. Although she
expressedher love for Cuchulainn,
Cu Roi took her to his casrle in
Munster. When Cuchulainn laid
siege to the stronghold, Blathnat
betrayed Cu Roi by showing how
the place could be entered.

CYNON, according ro a late Qynon then foughr his mysterious ordered by the Fomorii ro consume DAGDA, father of the gods,owneda
Anhurian myth,was a knight who opponent but was defeared. this massive meal, which he wondrouscauldron of plenty and a
encountered a black man with one readily did with a huge wooden double-edgedmaglc club, caried on
foot and one eye, and bearing a DnCOn means "the good god". ladle "so big that a man and a wheels Thisbronzerelief of aweful
Iargewooden club. This Fomorii- He was in fact rhe grear god of woman could have slept together Celticdaty,wth awheel, is regardedby
like fighter, doubtless a cousin of Irish mythology, and was usually in it" This test tumed Dagda rem- someto be Dagda, wtth the wheel
the violent and misshapen Irish sea depicted as a man in rustic clorhes porarilyinto a grossold man, bur ir rymbohzng his treasures (culoesrnup
gods, ordered Cynon to go ro a dragging an enorrnous club on did not prevent him from making CAULDRoN, ctLDED stLvER, c lN BC )

founuin and fill with water a silver wheels. With one end of this love to a Fomorii girl, who
bowl that he would find there , and weapon he could slay his enemies promised to use her magic on the sacredrite that was performed
then to throw the water against a and with the other he could resrore behalf of the Tuarha De Danann. by a Sumerianruler and a priesress
marble slab. Sir Cynon did as he the dead rc life. Dugduwasbelieved The story may recall, in a distorted in Mesopotamia. This union was
was instructed and a Black l(night to be wise, full of knowledge and form, a holy marriage between a meant to ensure prosperity,
appearedto the sound of thunder well versed in rhe magic arts He chieftain and a maiden at the strength and peace.
and the singing of magic birds. Sir was a chief of rhe TUATHADE beginning of each year: similar to Although the evenrualdefeat of
DANANN the Fomorii at the second battle of
CLNON,anArthurunhero, battleswith Dagda was a grear fighter and DANA,thegreatmothr goddess,
gaveher Magh Tuireadh was really due ro
theBlnchKnight,a mysteious warnorwho the lover of tr,loRRlcnN,the war nameto the TuathaDe Danann,a raceof the sun god rucH, ir was Dagda
appeared b rragc Although deJeated, goddess.The bones of his enemies wonderJul,beautiful but often vulnerable who was held in the grearesr
Cynonreturndhome onfootto tellthe were described as "hailstones godswho lived in the sparhlingotherworld respect, even after the Tuatha
tnb, and thusinspiredOwainto setouton under horses' hooves" when he Here, thqr gather to hear thepoignant song De Danann were in their tum
htsmemorable quat.Yearslntr Cynon wielded his mighty club. Like an oJ Lir's children, ill-staned godswho were overthrown by the sons of
retracdhissteps of awain
in search all-powerful chiefrain, Dagda led tumed into swans (llrusrnerroru
aySrrpHrl MILESIUS,the ancesrors of rhe
(luusnsnoN nv H Tnrluan 1920) the Tuatha De Danann on the bat- Rrlo,1912
) present-dayIrish
tlefield, slaying all rhosewho dared To Dagda fell the imporunr msk
to confront him. Yet he was also of setding the defeatedTuarha De
associatedwith abundance, being Danann underground.Just as rhe
able to sadsff the hunger of every- Fomorii had retrearedbenearh the
body by means of an inexhaustible waves, so the vanquished De
cauldron. That Dagda took great Danann disappearedunderground.
pleasure in eating was apparent, Over the centuries these powerful
when just before rhe second batde deities were gradually transformed
of Magh Tuireadh he visited rhe into fairies - the bean sidhe or
camp of the F2MORII,his bitter BANSHEES of lrish folklore. (Seealso
enemies, during a truce at the time WONDROUS CAULDRONS)
of the NewYear festival.There they
made for him a ponidge of milk, DANA, anorher name for ANU,
flour, fat, pigs and goats, enough was the goddess atter whom the
for fifry men. TUATHADEDANANNwere named -
On pain of dearh Dagda was "the people of the goddessDana".

121
CTITIC MyTHOLOGY

DnCnnRE, in Irish mythology, DEIRDRE gievesfor thedeath of hn

was the mother of.cucuul,{INN. belaved Ncoiseand his brothers,slain by

She was a daughter of Maga, the the jealous KingConchobhar Over the

child of the love godAoNGHUsand brothers'grave, shesanghu pitiable

of the druid ;ATHBAD.advisor to Iament,"May myheartnotbreah todayfor

King CONCHOBHARMAC NESSAof the sea-tidesoJour ewryday softclwsare

Ulster. When Dechtire married strong but I am soffM itself. " (Detnom
or

iUALTAMMAC RorH, a fly flew into rnr Sonnows c 1912


Durvcrtl,
BYJoHN )

her cup during the wedding feasr


and she swallowed it. She fell into half novoRII, took his place. But

a deep sleep and dreamed that the Bres was a tpant and became very

sun god LUGHinsisted that she and unpopular, so Nuada was restored
to the leadership, once Dian
fifty of her kinswomen follow him
to the otherworld as a flock of Cecht's son Miach had made him

birds. Three years later a flock of a new hand of flesh and blood.

brightly coloured birds reappeared Apparently the god of healing grew

at Emain Macha, the capital of jealous of his son's medical skills

Ulster. The Ulstermen went after and so killed him.

them with slings, but were unable


to hit any of rhem. It was decided, DTNNUUID UA DUIBHNE,
therefore, to surpnse.the birds at or Diarmuid "of the Love Spot",
night as they rested. So it was rhat was the foster-sonof the lrish love
rhe warriors came upon Dechtire, god eorucHUS.His mortal father
herwomen and Lugh sleepingin a gavehim to the god as a child, a grft
hut on a site renowned for its mag- that was retumed when Diarmuid
ical propenies. When Conchobhar Df tROne was the cause of DTNBNORGAILLE was the receivedthe famous love spot as a
was told of of this he sent for Ulster's sorrows,according to lrish daughter of a ruler of Lochlann. young Fenian warrior One night,
Dechtire at once, but she told her mythology The drui d cetuneo When her father left her on the when out hunting, Diarmuid and
captors that she was too ill to be foretold this before she was bom, shore as a tribute for the FOMORII, three companions took shelterin a
able to travel for another day. The as well as telling of how beautiful she was rescued by the Ulster hero small hut in a wood. There a beau-
next moming she showed them she would become. When she CIICHULAINNand fell in love with tiful young woman received them
her new-bom son, a gift to Ulster. grew up, King CONCHOBHARMAC him. In order to follow him, she but chose to sleep only with
NE55Awished to marry her, even rumed herself into a swan Diarmuid She told him that she
DECHTIRE,whohaddisappeared though he was already advanced in However, unaware of the bird's was Youth, and that the love spot
mysteriouslyonhq wedding day,returned years, but Deirdre would have true identiry, Cuchulainn brought she put on his forehead would
threeyearslaterwrththeshiningsungod, none of this. Shepersuaded NAolsE her down with a sling-shot She make him inesistible to women. fu
Lugh Dechtirebroughtwrthhera $ft from and his brothers to run away with retumed to human form and he a consequence,Diarmuid's life was
theotherworld-her child,Setanta,
who her to Alba After living for many sucked the stone out of the wound, almost continuously troubled bY
l)kter'sgreatest
became hqo, Cuchulainn yearsin their voluntary exile, they bur now theywere linked byblood desperatewomen, the worst being
(llrusrn crtoN av G DrNn cu, c 1900) were tricked into retuming to and so he could not marry her. GMINNE,the passionatedaughter
Ulster on the understanding that of High King C)NMACMAC ARr.
they would come ro no harm. But DnN CnCnf was the lrish god Grainne was betrothed to FINN
Conchobhar arranged to have of healing Itwas said thatwith his LIACCOOL. the Fenian commander,
Naoise killed and then forced daughter Airmid, he had charge of but she wanted Diarmuid and
Deirdre to agree to marry him. a spring whose waters restored the forced him to elope with her. For
Once married, however, Deirdre dy,.g gods to life. After NUADA,the sixteen years the Fenians Pursued
remained sad and kept her disunce Ieadcr Of thc TI]ATIL4DE DANANN, them until, at the request of the
flrom the ki.g,with the result that Iost his hand fighdng the FIRBoLG hng and the love god, a peacewas
he handed her over to the killer of at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh, grudgrngly made.
Naoise Rather than sleep with this Dian Cecht gave him a silver hand, It seemed that Diarmuid and
man, she threw herself from his thus earning him the title Nuada Grainne would settle down to a
speeding chariot and smashed her "of the Silver Hand" ImPressed contented famrly life and they had
brains out on a rock From each of though the Tuatha De Danann several children. But Diarmuid's
the graves of Naoise and Deirdre were by Dian Cecht's handiwork, own desdnywas about to catch uP
grew a pine, which eventually inter- Nuadawas felt to be no longerfit to with him. His mortal father had
rwined and grew as a single tree be a war leader and BRES,who was hlled his brother at binh because

L22
Crlrrc MyrHoLoGY

he believed that Aonghus' sreward,


Roc, was responsible for rhe preg-
nancy. However, Roc revived the
infant as a magic boar and told ir ro
bring Diarmuid ro his dearh When
hundng one daywirh Cormac Mac
Art and Finn MacCool, Diarmuid
came face to facewich this creature
His hounds fled in reror, his sling-
shot had no impacr on rhe charg-
ing boar's head and his sword
broke in two, so rhe inesisrible
Diarmuid was left bleeding ro
death on the ground. Finn
MacCool refusedro fetch rhe dying
Diarmuid a drink of warer, and by DIAKMUID, goredby a wild boar, was
the time the other hunters amved deniedhealingwater by Finn, still smarting
on the scene, he was too near to over Diarmuid's lwe alfair with Grainne A
death to be saved Grainne was Celtic Adonis,thehero waslwedby women
devastatedby the loss, alrhough oftenagainst his will, and,lihe Adonis,was
she was moved by rhe way rhar hilledby aboar, but enjoyedsomeJormoJ
Aonghus took care of Diarmuid's immoftality (llrusrncno,\
B\HI F)RD,
lgl2 )
corpse He took the body to his
DIAN CECHT (abwe), god of healing, DON below), theWelsh mother goddess, own palace by rhe River Boyne, DON was the Welsh equivalenr of
guards the sacredspnngof healthwtthhis wo,sds popular as her lnsh countapart, where he breatheda new soul inro rhe Irish mother goddess DANA and
daughter,Airmid lts miraclewaterscured Dana ThisfemaleJigure, surroundedby Diarmuid so that they could con- was the daughter of Mathonwy,
the sichand restored thedead,to hJe birds and children, is widely assumedto be verse each day This was how the sister of MATH, and rhe wife of Beli,
Knwn as theJathu of medicine,Dian a Celtic mother goddessSheis one of young man came to live with rhe the god of death. She had many
Cechtis creditedwth a remarlable sath- sqeral Celtic daties embossed
on the TIIATHADE DANANN,who had by children, including AMAETHON,
centuryBrehonLaw tract on thepracticeof gildedpanelsof the GundestrupCauldron this time left the upper world and ARIANRHOD, Govannon, GWYDION,
medicine (luusrnenoru
ayNrcxBute,i995) (Graep srLv'ER. c lOO BC ) lived beneath the soil of Ireland Gilvaerhwy and ruupp

DIARMUID (below),a gJtedFanian


warior, was lured undergroundby the De
Danann who often recruitedchampionsto

ftght in their othewvorldlybattles To test


hts sletll,thE senta mysteriouswarior to
challengehim ashe dranhfrom theirforest
well luusrnenoNsySrrpar/ Rno.i9l2 )

I23
MNCIC AND EXCHANTMENT
NCHANTMENT PERMEATES Celtic myth, shrouding
the tales in a haunting, dreamlike qualiry. The all-
pervasive otherworld lies behind much of the
mystery and magic, penetrating the forests and
lakes, and crafting charmed rings and weapons.Yet spells
and magic also arosein the visibleworld where bards,druids
a n d s o m e p r i v i l e g e d h e r o e s ,s u c h a s F i n n M a c C o o l ,
possessedmagicalpowers. Bardscould weaken the enemy
with satire or enchantedsleep,while druids bewitched the
host with magical illusions. Off the battlefield, love and
romancewere also subject to spells,love philtres or magical
rickery, as in the romancesof Sadb,
Rhiannon and Iseult. On the
brighter side, many heroesenjoyed
the gifts of the otherworld, such as
Arthur's sword, Excalibur,or Fergus
M a c R ot h ' s s i d h e s w o r d ; w h i l e
F e r g u sM a c L e d a ' s w a t e r - s h o e s
affordedunderwateradventures;and
countlessheroeswere nourished or
reborn from magicalcauldrons.
Frncus Mlrc l-r:oe, (abwe), a high hing of Uktu, wned a pair of water-
shoeswith whkh he enjoyd underwatcr travel He ne,tr tired oJacplonng the
dqtl$ of thelvaihrsand nvcn of lrelondunttlhe encounteredaferce rwar-hotse
in Loch Rury The inadatt so tmiJied Fergs thathis face becamepermanently
dktoned wrthfear.'4s onlyan unbbmkhed hing couWrule lrelnnd, Fe, gus
returned n the loch to slay the monstu before goingilwn himself, but wth a
Rrto,1912)
rYSTEPHEN
face atlost restoredand snene 0uusrpcnoN

THn EruCnersrro Fonrsr QeJt)of Arthuianlegend, ww alivewithbeguiling


BelleDame Sans
Jairy maidats, who oftm taunted effanthnighs One such,Ia
Mqa, desatbd by thepoet Keats, was a funshee who lttracted monnl Wers
and then
for hr wn amusemant,insptnng them wtth a hopelss infaruatnn
leavingthembereftof wtll or Wrpose until thq uthqed on thelolu, "abne and
palely toitrnng" k thelnnguishinghmghthue sleqs,he dreamsof the pab

::r#:'KX:L:i-DamehotdsinthrarrII'TSTLLEDAMESANS
CelrIC MvrHoLocY

E x c - . q r t s t * 1 , 1 l r 1 r r t{' r. f) h u r \ r i r ( l r r l r t r , /s t r , , r , l r l t , , t t tt t r r l rt l i t / t t h r , r /

l h i r t t t r r t i h e tsi t t t / t i t l i : l t cl 1l i s , t l , t t l l t t / / t t 1 t 1 , ( l ( r l\1( \, l h h c u c / / r r t t t r t l ft /t t/ t

I r s s i r f h l r r p rri r rh , l r t / t l , r i r , { r r / r r l i i t t l r ,i t c t : l t i tl t , l t r 1 , t l1j t l r t , i l i s t t t . - ,t ,t tt , t

l r r l t r s l t r t l / - . i t s l t \' tl r r t ( r { r l 1 t I ' c t r f r , r : t l / t h t t f i t t , ; t l t r . l r l \ t t l r l t l \ r } l t l t l tr l

Pwrrr's fubove)Jamt[ywanderm un enchunted MrRrnv (ngh), wtseand thoughtJtlthoughht' u,as.


aJtu thetr country,AJed,had been
wtlderness LrythercvtshtngLnly ol th.ehht,
was enchanted
sptntedaway tn a pealoJthunder Thebaffling htsforestght,he ullowedhmself
Nirnue,and desprte
wqsport oJa hngenngcurseplaced
enchqntment to be lureddeepbeneatha stoneand boundthereIry
on hvyll to avengeGwawl, a nval surtort'or the htsown maglc spellsIn anotherlegend,Nrmueput
hond oJRhronnon Eten aJterhrryll's death,the Merlin tntoa trancebeneotha thorn treeand then
spellbli{ttedhs Jamily,untrl Rhrannon'sner\/ trarledhervetlaroundhtm,creattngan mvrstble
husband, Manawydan, strucha dealwtth the towu oJ atr rn whtchhe was trappedJorou It rs

enchanter,who atlast restoredDyt'edto rtsJormer satdthat htsvorcecan sttllbe heardtn theplatntwe


benu\ (lLursrnrnor.r Ue, 1984)
ByA:AN rustltngoJleaves (luustnrrtr.r,v
BvAi,4NI FF lg84)

125
CeITIC MyTHoLoGY

DONN ("rhe Dark One") was rhe druid AMAIRGENhad only jusr Irish did not consider this gift a
Irish god of the dead. He is some- succeededin casting a spell over suflicient redressfor Efnisien's acr
dmes confused with ErEn Donn, the turbulent waves, when Eber of mudlation, and some dme afrer
one of the leaders o[ rhe sons of Donn was seizedby a battle-trenny her arival in Ireland Branwen was
MILESIUS, who insulted ERIU,one and the charm was broken by his demoted from being queen to just
of rhe TT]ATIIADEDANANN, and was wild cries. After rhe defear of the a lowly cook in rhe palacehrchens.
drowned off the south-west coast TUATHADE DANANN,rhe advice of Efnisien accompanied the army
of lreland. Donn's home, the Amairgen was ignored by Eber thatwas sent againstMatholwch to
House of Donn, was thought to be Finn, who refused to acknowledge avengethis insuk. It was fortunare
an assemblypoint on rhe joumey the right of his older brother for Bran that his half-brother did
to the otherworld. Eremon to be king of the whole come, because Efnisien foiled a
DONN, god of the dead,gathers souls island. So it was that lreland was cunning trap that had been laid for
DNUTOS SCC5AGE5ANDSEERS aroundhim as thq assanbleonhis stormy partitioned inro two kingdoms, the Britons by Matholwch in his
islandbejore settingout on theirjournq with Eremon ruling the north and hall. He had placedbehind each of
DUBH was a druidess. According to the othewvorld Inaitably, he became Eber Finn the south. Bur Eber Finn Bran's strongest warriors a sack
to one Irish tradition, her angerat associatedin popularJolhlorewith invaded Eremon's terrirory and Iaid hung from the wall containing an
her husband Enna's passion for shipwreclsand seastorms,andwas oJten waste to his lands until he fell in armed lrishman, and at a signal
another woman uhimately led to confusedwithEber Donn, who died at sea battle. Eremon rhen became rhe they were to fall upon the Britons
the name of Dublin. Dubh used (IrrusrnrnolByJAMEI
ALDa,vprn,
J995) first High King of all Ireland. during what was supposed to be a
magic to drown her rival, but her feast of welcome. When Efnisien
husband in turn drowned her in he headed straighr ro the sea, EnnrcmN, in welsh mythology, inspected the hall beforehand, he
whac became known as Dubhlinn where he immediarely swam as was the rroublesome half-brocher askedwhacwas in one of rhe bags.
("Dubh's pool"). well as a fish. When his uncle, the of nR+NTHEBLEsSED who caused On being told it was com, Efnisien
smirh god Govannon, killed him, the rift berween Bran and King Iaid hold of the sack and felt about
Dn q,'N("Son of the Wave") was all the waves of Britain and Ireland MATHOLWCH. BecauseEfnisien had till his fingers closed on the head of
a Welsh sea god whose parenrs lamented his death. not been consulted by Bran over the warrior within it, then he
were ARIANRHOD and her brorher the marriage of his half-sisrer squeezed and cracked his skull.
GWYDION. fu soon as he was bom Engn was rhe name of rwo of che BMNwEN ro rhe Irish hng, he pro- One by one Efnisien asked about
three leaderswho led the Milesians ceeded to cut off the lips, earsand the contens of the sacksand each
DYI-AN,a Welshseadeity,leaptJromhis in their conquest of lreland. They tails of Matholwch's horsesduring time repeatedhis squeezing.
mother's armsatbirthandplungedstraight were Eber Donn, or Eber "the the wedding feast.To compensare The feast took place therefore
intotheseaand swarrt aswellasanyfsh. Brown", and Eber Finn, or Eber for this act, Bran gaveMatholwch a not as Marholwch had planned.An
Belwedby thesea,all thewaves weptwhen "the Fair". The third was named ma$c cauldron that was capableof even more unexpected rurn of
hewashilled, andhisdeath-groan canstill Eremon. Eber Donn failed ro reach restoring dead warriors to life, bur events occurred when Efnisien
beheardin theroarof theincoming tide the lrish coast because his ship wich one small imperfecrion - rhey rhrew Matholwch's three-year-old
(Tnr B,rprrsrv foundered in a storm caused by, it
ot, Dvt,tN, Soruor rHE WAVEBl came back to life withour rhe son by Branwen on to the fire.
Grrlncr Sxennt,vcn,qrr,
crruvn.sc I900 ) was said, his bloody war cry. The power of speech. However, the Branwen would have leapt after her

L26
CeITIc MyrHoLoGY

EIATII"A (abwe), a F omoii hing lived


beneath the waveswith his wolat and
misshapenpeople Unlihe the other
Fomoii, Elatha was a godlihebang with
Iong golden hair EmuglngJrom the sea
one day in his silvsr ship,he met the lwely
goddess,En, who Jellimmediatelyin lwe
withhim, SoonaJtu, thqhad ahandsome
but troublesomeson,Bies (tr-LusrnrroN
By
NrcxBTALE,
I995)

EBER DONN (abwe) and the Milesian son, but Bran held her back. In the EMER, in Irish mythology, was around to the front of his house.
chiefsdnft in thefairy sea mists of the lrish fight that took place afterwards the the daughter of Fogall and the wife Even then, he thought of Emer's
cowt OnboardEbcr's ship,the druid Britons were almost defeatedby the of.cucuul{INN, who first saw her request, but his enemies the witch-
Amairgencharmedthe seawth magtcof magrc cauldron that Bran had given when he was at the courr of rhe es of celqrlN casr a spell to harden
hts wwr,butEberlet outhis greatwar cry Matholwch, because at night it High Kirg of Ireland at Tara. She his resolve to fighr single-handed.
whichbrolu the druid's spelland stired up restored to life the trish warriors appeared "dark-haired almosr as
a stoftn inwhichhewas drwned who had been slain during rhe day himself, and her skin whire as ENTO SCCCELTIC ROIVIANCE
BvJAMES
0rrusrnerroru ALEX{Noen,
1995) The Britons were in a desperare mare's milk, and her eyeswide and
predicament and so Eftrisien,ar rhe proud and brilliant like the eyes of EME& a peerlessInsh maiden, inspired
EFNISIEN belw) inspectssaclu in cost of his li[e, destroyedthe magicFedelma, his favourite falcon". the lwe ol Ulster'sgreathero, Cuchulainn
Matholwch'shall. In each sachhefelt a cauldron. He hid among the Irish Emer's father was a chieftain from Shewasblessedwiththe sA gJB oJ
warior's head, which he cnshed between dead and was thrown into rhe boil- Meath and was against the match. womanhood:beaul, chasilry,wisdom,
his fngm The moody ticlster went on to ing cauldron, where he strerched He told Cuchulainn to travel to sweetspeech,songand needlecraJtWhen
prwohe a deadly contest,but than, in and burst its sides, bur rhe grear improve his fighting shlls and only thehero courtedher,shesmiledathis
remorse,sacnfced himself to save his effort involved hlled him. then would he consider him as a youth,and saidthathehad "deedsto do"
comrades (tuununov aySrrparru
Rno,l9i0) son-in-law. Cuchulainn survived (Iu-usrnqnox
BySrEpHEN
REID.
1912
)
EL,ffHA, in Irish myrhologr, w6 and retumed to claim his bride.
the son of Delbaeth, the leader of Indeed, Cuchulainn was forced to
the FOMORIIand father of BRES, atuck the reluctant Fogall's fortress
who was briefly the leader of the before the wedding could mke
TUATHADE DANANIV.UnIiKe the place. Although Emer was totally
other Fomorii, who were described enraptured by her handsome hus-
as being hideous and deformed, band, their marriagewas not with-
Elathawas fair and had golden hair. out its troubles, not least because
He met the goddessEri on rhe sea many other women also found the
shore and there they conceived Ulscerhero attrac[ive.Just before
their child Bres. When Bres was his final batde, when he fought rhe
removed from the leadership of rhe army of Queen MEDBalone, Emer
De Danann, he and his morher tried to persuadehim to remain in
went to Elathato ask for help, bur the fortress of Emain Macha, rhe
the Fomorii were defeated at the seat of King CONCHOBHAR MAC
second battle of Magh Tuireadh NE55A.However, he got on his
and dnven from lreland. chanot when it was broughr

t27
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

E?{IN QighD, one of the High Queensof


Ireland, appears withher peers in power
andbeauty:fromleJt to ight, Etain, Greeh
Helen,MedbandFand, theJairyqueen
Thejuelled atp of plenty recalk Etain's
linlu wtth the otherworld (ErnrH,HnuN,
MEDB AND Fexn sv HAnnv Ct,cR(E, ct css, c I9@)

EPONA, rhe celtic horse god-


dess,won the favour of the Roman
army and was depicted in monu-
ments set up at its cavalrybarracl<s
as a woman riding a fast steed, her
cloak billowing with air behind her.
Shewas even given her own festival
in Rome on December 18, Ongi-
nally, Epona was almost certainly
seen by the Celts as a mare, possi-
bly like the great white horse cawed
in the chalk downs near Wantage,
in southem England The fact that
she is often depicted riding a horse
with a foal suggesrc that she was
also a goddess of fertility. In the
Welsh myth of. PwYtt there is a
connection between Epona and his
wife RHIANNON.who is made to
carry visitors into her husband's
palace.

ERIU, or Erinn, was rhe wife of


Ma Greine, son of.)GMA, and her-
self one of the TUATHADEDANANN
When the Milesians invaded, she
and her two sisters. Banba and

EPONA(belw), theCeltichorse goddess,


v,usadoptedhy theRoman cavalrywho
spreadlwcultacross Europe. Hn ,fiy,
portrayedhtnding
oftenplacedin stables,
sometimes
srde-sadille, wtthafoal, which
rejectedherroleasafmtlity goddess,
Embohzdhm by thewheatandbirik

128
Crlrrc MvrHoLocY

EfnltNN, somerimes Erhnea, Fnncus Mec RorH, a king


was the only daughter of BALOR, of Ulster, according to one myth
the one-eyedgiant of Irish myth fell in love with his predecessor's
Balor imprisoned Ethlinn in a widow, NESSA She would only
crysal tower on Tory Island, off the marry him if her son, CONCHOBHAR
north-western coast of lreland, MACNESSA, was allowed to rule for
becauseof a prophecy that said he ayear Conchobhar, with heip from
would be hlled by his own grand- his mother, proved to be a popular
son. However, a cerrain Cian, king and the people refused to let
brother of the smith god GomHrulu, him stand down At first Fergus
managed to reach Ethlinn, and so accepted this but, later, when
the sun godrual was conceived. Conchobhar losr the support of
ETHNE,a gentleTuathaDeDanann Despite Balor's attemprc to have EAND'smaidens appearedto Cuchulainn severalleading Ulstermen, he led
maiden. waslostto theothewvorld whut the baby killed, he survived to be in a vision,beatinghim
withrods,which them in revolt Conchobhar's love
shemislaidher VeiloJlnvisibility,
hq to brought up either by Goibhniu or, Iefthimsore Jorayear Havinggained for ortRPREwas rhe cause of his
thekalm oJFoiry Shewasrescued by according to another version of the hisattention,thq explainedthatthe unpopularity, especially after he
monlsand,according to a latu legend, myrh, by the sea god MANANNAN goddess, Fand,neededhishelptofght the had her lover NAoiSEhlled in order
became a nun,but shewasdisturbed by MACLIR,and so fulfilled his desriny Fomoii AfterdeJmting herattachers, to marry her Fergus wirh rhree
"voices",
theciesof hu Jairyfolh,seehing by hlling Balorat the secondbattle Cuchulainn stayedonFand'sislandJora hundred Ulster warriors joined
herin vain (luusrnarroru
nvSrrpHrru Rr.r:.,
1910) of Magh Tuireadh month (Iuusrnarroru
BySrEpHEN
REID,1912
) Queen MEDBin her invasion of
Ulsrer The great CUCHUIAINN lost
Foda,went to greet them All three EfHNn was rhe daughter of Roc, his life in this war, but not at the
decided to stay with her husband
asked that the newcomers would srewardof the iove god AONGHUS, and forget Cuchulainn Manannan
hands of Fergus They had been
name the island after her. and acted as maid to the daughter Mac Lir then shook his magrccloak
friends before the war and had
AMAIRGEN, druid and advrsorto the of u,+ruaNNANMAC LIR After a between Fand and Cuchulainn so
swom not to fight each other
sons of MILESius,promised rhat chieftain of the TUATLLADE DANANN they would never see each other
During the final battle, Ferguspre-
Ireland would be named after Eriu rried to rape her, she refusedto eat again,and druids gaveCuchulainn
tended to rereat and rhe next time
or drink Aonghus and Manannan and Emer drinks of forgetfulness
rhey met Cuchulainn would do the
ETAIN, in Irish myrhology, was searchedfor a remedy and found (Seealso CELTIC ROMANCE)same Ir was due to Fergus'retreat
one of IheTUATIIADEDANANN and rwo magic cows whose milk never rhat CoNAu, Cuchulainn's foster-
was reincamated severaitimes She ran dry and she lived on their milk
FgoltvtlD rhe story-reller was brother, was ableto defeatMedb's
was the second wife of the god rhe father of orlnoRr One day, army and rally the Ulstermen after
MIDIR His first wife was jealous of ETHNNR SCC ETHLINN when CONCHOBHAR MAC NE55A rhe death of Cuchulainn
Etain and by a druid's speil Etain and some fellow Ulstermen were
was rebom as a morul, the daugh- EXCRT-TBUR SCC MAGIC AND drinking at his house, the unbom FERDIAtsborne fromthebattleJteld by
ter of rhe Ulster warrior Etar To ENCFIANTMENT Deirdre cried out from her mother's hisliJelongJnend,CuchulainnThetwo
hinder Midir's searchfor her, Erain womb The druid c,qtruneo then weregoaded intosingle combatby Medb
was turned first into a pool of FAND, in lrish myrhology, was foretold thar the child would cause andfought gnmlytothedeathAt
water, then a wolrn and finally a fly rhe wife of uaNaruNANMAC LIR nothing but doom and desrrucdon Ferdia's death, Cuchulainn fellexhausted,
When Emr'swife accidenrallyswal- One day she quarrelled with her lamenting,"Why shouldI nseagainnow
lowed the fly she becamepregnant husband and he left her When she FgnOfR son of Daman rhe hethatliesherehasJallenW -y hand? "
wirh Etain Unaware of her previ- was attackedby the nOvORI/,Fand FIRBOLG, was a friend and comrade (llrusrnarro,vev E We[coustNs, 1912)
a - _ - . -

ous existence,Etain was loved both SCNIfor CUCHUIAINN, who CameTo of.cuctlui,AlNN As young men,
by the High King Eochaidh, whom her island and defeared her en- they were both taught ro fighr by
she married, and by his brother emies,and remainedfor one month SCATHACH During the war of the
AILILL This potendally difficult as her lover Before he returned brown bull of Cuailgne, Ferdia
situation wassolved by her sudden home, they arranged to meet again fought on the side of Queen MEDB
discoverythat she was alreadymar- in Ireland.But Cuchulainn's wife, and against Cuchulainn and the
ned to Midir, who had awakened EMER,found out about this secret men of Ulster Ferdia did his best
her memories High King Eochaidh meedng and took fifry of her maid- to avoid coming up against his
lost Etain to the god at a game of ens armed with sharp knives to kill friend, but eventually Medb taunt-
chess,but although she lived once Fand A confused argument then ed him into fighting the great hero
again with Midir for a period of took place between Fand, Emer, in singlecombat and he was killed
time, Etain decided in the end to Cuchulainn and Manannan Mac
retum to Taraand finish her morral Lir, who had also learned of the Frncus Mnc Leoa see
life as Eochaidh'squeen arrangement But in the end, Fand MAGIC AND ENCFIANTMENT
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

THE FIANNA (ngh), afierceband of free FINN MACCOOL bela^D' a Praocious

wariors, guardedthe High King oJIreland and gfted child, enjoyeda specnl ffinity

and rovedup and down the countrysideon wtth the crenturesof the wods He was

vaious ventures Hand-piched,thq were raisedon the sbpa of Bloom Sliew by two

gftedinboth arms andthe arts Although warior women, who helpedhim darcbp the

close-hnit,occasionalivalry brohe out and hqoicirtues oJwtdom and strenglh


(luusrnanor.r c 1910
RAclctAM,
BvARTHUR )
therewastheoddbrawl,as shownhere
(lu-usrnerrp RAcKHAM,
ByARTHUR c 1910
)

THg FrnNNn was rhe famous


band ofwardors responsible for the
safety of the High Kitg of Ireland
Popularly called the Fenians, their
greatestleader was FINNMACCOOL
and the ma.;orityof their members
came from one of two clans, the
Bascnaand the Moma. Many of the
adventures of the lfuights of the
Round Table recall the exploits of
the Fenians.To join, "no man was
taken till in the ground a hole had
been made, such as would reach
the waist, and he put into it with
his shield and a forearm's length of FINECRS, in lrish mythology, So great was Finn MacCool's the elopement, and he exulted over

ahazel stick. Then must nine war- was a druid. Hoping to become prowess as a warrior that he was his rival's morul wound, which he

riors, having nine spears,with a ten supremely wise, he caught the soon appointed over the head of had received when hunting.

furrows'width berween them and Salmon of lfuowledge, but unfor- Goll to lead the Fenians, as his The account of Finn MacCool's

him, assailhim and let fly at him lf tunately for his own ambitions he father had done. Goll accepted this own death is unclear. Some sagas

he sustained injury, he was not gaveit to the young FINNMACCOOL decision with good grace, a gesture tell how he fell attempdng to quell

receivedinto the band " to cook Finn bumt his thumb on that may explain why Finn an uprising among the Fenians

the flesh of the fish and sucked the MacCool did not challenge Goll
FINEGAS,theagedseerandpoet, bum. Realizingthat his pupil Finn over his father's death. Indeed, FINTAN, the Salmonof Knouiledge,bashs

humblyolfersFinn theSalmon oJ was the one destined to gain the Goll eventually manied one of Finn in Nechtan's weIIoJ inspiration, werhung

Knowledge, fulfillingthepropheqthata wisdom, Finegasgenerouslylet the MacCool's daughters, rhough he wtth theNuts of Knowldge Fintnn gained

mannamed"Fionn"wouldbeneftfrom the boy eat the whole fish also slew his son. This last act of hs wisdomfrom eating the nuts whichfell

miraculous fish On eatingthesalmon, violence was too much and the into the well, causingbubblesoJ inspiration

Finn becameas wiseas he was strong with FINN MacCooL, sometimes Fenians pursued him. Trapped, The wellts decoratedherewith Celtic

instant insight into the past andfuture called Finn Mac Cumaill or Fionn Goll chose to suwe to death rather heads,rymbok oJspintualpwer.
(lrusraerrorv
svH R MrtLAn, 1912) MacCumal, was the leader of the than surrender. Finn MacCool (Iuusrnertoru Lrrrepnu, 1994
avSrunRr )

FIANNA,or Fenians, the selecrband used to quote a saying of Goll: "A


of warriors which guarded the High man lives after his life but nor after
King of lreland. His father , CIJMAL, his dishonour."
a previous leader of the Fenians, Under Finn MacCool's leader-
was killed by Goll, a Fenian war- ship, the Fenians reached the high
rior. Cumal had eloped with a girl point o[ their fame as a warrior
named Huma and her father urged band The pursuit of oreRvulDUA
Goll to avengethis dishonour. Goll DIUBHNE,the foster-son of the love
slew Cumal, but later Cumal's son god,eorucHus, alone took sixteen
Finn was bom and brought up years. He had taken GRAINwE,the
secretly. One of his tutors was the daughter of High Kitg C)RMAC
druid FINEGAS,who lived beside MACART,but she was betrothed to
the River Boyne and caught the Finn MacCool at the dme. The
Salmon of lGrowledge. He gave rhe Fenians were relentless in the
fish to his pupil to cook, but Finn chase, but a peace of sorts was
bumt his thumb on the flesh and begrudgingly agreed However,
in sucking it obtained wisdom. Finn never forgave Diarmuid for

r30
Celrrc MyrHoLocy

THE FOMORII, a misshapenraceof sea


gods,oppressedlrelandwith crueltyand
crushingtibutes This imaginative
and pou,aful sceneportrays the Fomoii
as repellentand alien creatures,who are
divatby a sichand menacingJrnry
(THE FoMoRs oR THE PowERs or EvrL Asnoeo rNt

THE \Voru,D ByJoHN Dunctr't, 1912)

themselves,while others refer ro an


ARTHUR-likeundeath in a cave
There he was supposed to remain
in a deep sleep unril such dme as
Ireland needed his aid

FtNfnN was the husband of


Noah's granddaughterCESAIR. It is
likely that the monk who first
recorded the Irish sagasahered the
original myrh in order ro link it THg Ftnnolc, or "bag men", THg FOUOruI were seagods in otherworld His morher Be Find
with Noah's descendants,because in Irish mythology were said to Irish mythology Violent and mis- (who was a goddess and sisrer of
of the deluge rhat only Fintan man- have acquired their name from a shapen, the Fomorii emergedfrom the river goddess BOANN) nursed
aged to survive by becoming a time when they were enslaved in rhe waves to challengerwo rulers of him back to health so rhar he could
salmon. The monk wanted ro tidy Thrace and made ro carry bags of Ireland: the FiRBOLGand rhe claim the hand of Findbhair The
up the lrish myth of Fintan's mys- earth They lived in Ireland just TUATHADE DANANN The Tuatha account of Fraoch and the water
rerious transformation The same before the arrivalof the TUATHADE De Danann were younger gods, monster is thought to have had
name was also glven to the Salmon DANANN But rhey were already and they seizedcontrol of Ireland some influence on the Danish
of I(rowledge, which was so called being hard pressedby theFOMONt, from the Firbolgs at rhe first barde legend of Beowulf's batrle wirh
becauseit had earenrhe nuts of a the seagods whom rhe Tuatha De of Magh Tuireadh, only to have to Grendel, a monster invulnerable to
hazel ree thar grew over the warers Danann eventually overcame At defeatthe Fomoiri at asecondbar- weapons who lived in an under-
of ruecareN's well. the first barrle of Magh Tuireadh tle there in order to secure rheir water cavem
the Tuatha De Danann defeared conquest Often the Fomorii were
THEFIRBOLG, orbag-motarivedin the Firbolg, though the De Danann described as having only a single FINN MACCOOL standsguard on the
lrelnndafterescaping
ahJeofslnvery in Ieader,NUADA,lost a hand. In the hand, foot or eye ramports oJTara awaiting aJiery goblin
Thrace, wherethq hadbeenforced to second bamleof Magh Tuireadh rhe whosemaglc music usually disarmshisJoes
cultivate
thelandbyheavinghewy bagsoJ Fomorii were thoroughly beaten, FOnnru was rhe son of the Ulster Armedwith aJairy spear,Finnbreahsthe
Jmile earthuproctyhilLsln ronlt, thq due mainly to rhe bravery of the king CONCHOBHAR MAC NESSA spelland slnysthe unsuspectingdemon
For
tumedtharbagsintoboatsandsailedto sun god LIIGH, and were driven According to one myth, Queen his valourhe wasmadecaptainof the
Irelnnd (Iuusrnenoru ByNlcK Brer-r.,j995 ) from Ireland for ever MEDBof Connachr fell back before Fianna (lllusrnarrorv BySTEpHEN REID. l9i0 )

rhe fury of the Ulster warriors afrer


her invasion of the kingdom. In
Galway, however, Forbai caught up
with her as she was bathing in a
lake A shot from his sling fatally
struck the old warrior-queen in the
cen[e of her forehead.

FneOCH ("wrath" or "fury"), in


Irish mythology, was a warriorwho
defeateda fearsomewarer monster
in order to manry Findbhair, who
was the daughrer of Queen MEDB
of Connacht The tenible srruggle
with the monsrer left Fraoch very
badly wounded and he recovered
fully only afrer a timely visit to rhe

131
il'i';t'il *'iri' +

WoNDRous C,tuLDRoNs
IMCULouscAULDRoNS featureas a recurrenrmotif in Celtic myrh. Some
overflow with plenty, others restore the dead to life, while still others
contain a specialbrew of wisdom. Dagda'sgiganticCauldron of Plenty
overflowedwith abundant, delicious meats; no hero left his bowl
hungry, though cowardsneverhad their fill. From Bran'smassiveCauldronof Rebirth
waffiors emerged alive but dumb; another
Cauldron of Rebirth in Annwn was
guarded by nine maidens. Cauldrons of
Inspiration provided "greals" or brews of
wisdom. The most famous belonged to
the goddess Ceridwen, whose magi cal
broth endowed Taliesin with all-knowrng
insight. Some cauldrons, such as Dagda's,
combined the magical properties of both
plenty and rebirth. Similar mystery bowls
or cups fea[ure in Greek and easlern
myths as holy vesselsof spintual insight.
Ultim ateIy, the early Celtic cauldrons find
expression in the Arthurian Grail, which
overflows with spiritual sustenance and
leads the hero from death to immoruliry.

CeurpRorvs on Prnvrv Qeft)glttteredin BMN'5 (aba,e) Cauldron of kbirth


bronze,copper, silveror gold, embossed restoredwariors to l{e, but without the
with exquisitecraJtsmanship The gllded powerof speechBran rece:edhis
GundestrupCauldron,here,Jound in a bog wondrouscauWronJrom two martial
in Denmarh, is a magnifcent suwiving glonts,in gratitude JorhtshindnessHere,
exampleof a Celtic cauldron Embossedin the great and gloomy glanx brood ovn
silverg1lt,it is beautiJullydecoratedin the thar bubblingcauldron,Jlnnhedbyarmed
Ia. Tene stylewith Celtic daties and itual wariors on ather side,for thewarlihe
activities, suchas hunting or Jighting glantsproduceda grou,nwarior wery sa
(Gl'xrorsrnup Cerii-onol, GTLDED srLvER, 100 BC ) weelc (tuusrunoNByALAN
LEE,
1984)
t*r

!! 'ii
!! 'i*
{, 1{

?\
'r,.
i
i". a\
" : :4i i" 1n
i t'fuo,u*.
t
,,,w ,#

,:i{l, r:,,i
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

GAIAHAD AeJ), the pure andpeerless


hnight, standsresplendentin ablnze oJ
holylight,armedas a Chistian Crusader
His snow-whiteshield,marhedwtth the
blood of JosephoJAnmathea, wo'sdesigned
in Saras Jor Galahadalone (GilAaeosvw
HATHERELL, cuss, c 1910 )

GAIAIIAD (nght), robed in red, entered


Arthur'scourt escortedbyahermit, and
toohhisplaceat the RoundTable,filling
the SiegePeilous Completingthecircleof
hnights,his arnval sparhedoff the Grail
Quest (G,rL,enRo CouRrByw
EurrpsARTHUR's
H A T H E R E L L ,c A N y A S , c 19IO )

Gnf-tfmD was unique at the Camelot A mystenous lady then Bors when he encountered the After this, various miracles took
court of King ARTHUR, for he alone announced how the sacredvessel Grail. Together they had received place and Sir Galahad was even
saw the entire Grail, or SANGREAL would come and feed all the the sacrament from the long-dead obltged to become a hng for a dme
He may even have handled the knights This happened, although JOSEPH OF ANMATHEA, who told Sir while he waited patiently for his
sacredvessel,as one version of the none at the wonderful meal saw or Galahad to take a bleeding spear to requesr ro be fulfilled. When
Arthurian myth states that Sir touched the Grail When Sir the castle of the "Maimed Kirg" Joseph of Arimathea eventually
Galahad took "Our Lord's body Gawain vowed to find its home in and rub it on this crippled ruler's retumed, Galahad was at last
berween his hands" and then died order to see the Grail for himself, body and limbs Once this taskwas granted his wish to leave the
The quest for the Grail was an most of the t(nights of the Round camed out, and the strange king world Joseph first allowed the
important preoccupation of the Table followed suit, despite the restored to health, Sir Gaiahadsaw pure and humble knight to hold
K.,ghs of the Round Table One of efforts of King Arthur to dissuade the Grail in a vision. When he the Grail for a few moments, then,
the seas was alwaln left vacant as it them from undenahng what might prayed that "he might leave the as Sir Galahad knelt down to pray
was the place reserved for the prove to be their final quest world", a voice told him how his for his deliverance. his soul was
knight who would find the Grail Although they set off in different soulwould live in the next life with suddenly releasedfrom his body
Unril Sir Galahad sat there. no directions, Sir Galahadwas in the Christ the moment his request and "a great multitude of angels
knight had earned the right to company of Sir PERCIVAL and Sir could be granted. bore it up to heaven".
occupy the place wrthout being
instantly swallowed by the earth.
The worthy young Sir Galahad
was rhe son of Sir LANCEtot. the
secret lover of Queen GUINEVERE,
Anhur's wife. From the beginning
of Galahad'smanhood, however, it
is made clear that he is without
blemish. Twelve nuns. who had
raised Galahad, told his father thar
he should "make him a lceight, for
there is no man alive more desew-
ing of the order of knighthood" As
soon as Sir Galahad had taken his
rightful place at the Round Table,
the presenceof the Grail was felt in

GAIAHAD recav
esspiitual nouishment
from theGrail,followedby Percivaland
BorsTheideaof an all-sustainingand
all-inspiing"greal"or brauis rootedin
Celtic myth (How SrnGnLeneo,srRBoRsAND

SrnPrncrvnrwenr Feo wtrH THESANCGRAEL


By

DANIE Rossrrn . cANvAs,1864)

134
CII-TIC MyTHOLoGY

GnwruN, in welsh Gwalchmai, present, the giant behaved as if At the meeting berween Sir GAWAIN, an activeand restlesshnight,
was the most courteous knight at nothing had happened. Calmly Gawain and his fearful opponent, lost interestin theGrail Questquite early
ARTHUR'scourt. He was a strict stooping, he picked up his head the Green lGright tumed out to be on Ahhoughone oJthe first to setJorth,
upholder of chivalry and the enemy and mounted his green charger. none other than Sir Bercilak him- inspinngthe restoJthe Knights,helost
of Sir LtNCELor. Sir Gawain's mosr Then, from the saddle, the Green self. Three times the axe was swung heart, laching the necessarydiscipline,
exrraordinaryadventure concemed Ktrght pointed his severedhead in at Sir Gawain's neck. Twice it was patienceand humility (Tnr.Fnrr
urir,or,srn
the Green lGright. Rather like the Sir Gawain's direcdon and told him deflected because he had not r pE.srRy,
nyWMrxnrs,
GnwRrr.r 1895-96
)
hazard faced by the Ulsrer hero to be at a lonely chapel ayear from abused his host's hospitality by
CUCHUIAINN,when a water giant that day in order to take a tum ar making love to his wife. The third Unlike Sir Gawain. Cuchulainn
came to test the courage of Irish receiving a blow from an axe. On time it made a slighr cut, at which had no hesitarion in slippingaway
warriors, the gigantic Green Kttrght the journey to this dangerous Sir Gawain flinched. It did not cut from the battlefield in order to keep
strode into King Arthur's hall at appointment Sir Gawain stayed off his head because Sir Gawain a secret meedng with a lover, even
Camelot one New Year's Eve and with Sir Bercilak de Hautdesert had only acceptedthe green sash during Queen MEDB's invasion of
challenged the ltuighrs of rhe who had a beautiful wrfe He was out of good manners Yet Sir Ulster. The magical transformation
Round Table to a beheading con- sorely tempted by Sir Bercilak's Gawain realized that courtesy was of Sir Bercilak de Hautdesert into
test. Sir Gawain accepted and cut wife but managed to resist her no equal to moral purity, and the Green lftright was explained as
off the stranger's head in a single advances for rwo days. However, thereafterhe alwap wore the green the work of the wirch MoRGAN LE
blow. fu the severed head rolled on the third daySir Gawain accept- sashas a reminder of his lapse FAY, King Anhur's half-sister.
around the hall, the royal courr ed from her a green sash, which This late Bridsh version of the
relaxed and thought the challenge was the usual token worn by Celtic beheadingcontest was quite GTNATNT SCC CELTICROMANCE;
"
over. But to the amazement of all knight to show his love for a lady. clearly influenced by Christianity SINGLE COMBAT

r35
CeITIC MYTHOLOGY

GOIBHNIU was the Irish smith by rhe Fenians But Diarmuid was
god and one o[ the ruerHA DE killed by a magic boar in a hunting
DANANN He could make a perfect accidentafter Cormac Mac Art and
sword or spearwith three blows of Finn MacCool had finally accepted
his magic hammer Just before the his marriage to Grainne Although
second battle of Magh Tuireadh, a Grainne blamed Finn MacCool for
FOMORIIspy came to see how Diarmuid's death and swore to
Goibhniu made such impressive obtain vengeancethrough her four
weapons, and even wounded the sons, the wily Finn wooed her until
god Goibhniu was said to preside she agreedto manryhim.
over an otherworld feast called Fled
Goibnenn,for which he brewed the GUtunvERE, whose welsh
aIe His Welsh counterpart was GOIBHNIU, the Insh smith god, wasan name, Gwenhwfar, probably GMINNE (abwe), a passionateand

named Govannon outstanding craftsmanand armourer means "white spirit", was the wife wilJulmaiden,JelIJor the iwesistible
Along wtth his glJtedbrothm, Cradhne the of eRrnuR and the secret lover of Diarmuid ,\s shewasbetrothedto Finn
THT GNruI SCC SANGREAL; goldsmith,and Luchtar, the carpater, he Sir LANCELOT. In the stories about MacCool, Diarmuid politely refusedher

see also WONDROUS


CAULDRONS; rrpaired the Tuatha De Danann armour the ltuights of the Round Table, advances But shepersisted untilhe agreed
HEROTCQUESTS. with miraanlots spd on thebattlefeW Guinevereis alwap comparedwith to elope,with the Fianna in hot pursuit
0lrusrmnoNANoN) Helen of Troy, the famous beauty Here, the guilg pairhide in a maglc tree

GnntNNE, in lrish mythology, of Greek mytholory Such a com- ANON)


otrusr&qnoN
was the daughter of coRiuecMAc the foster-son of the love god parison is not unjustified, for both
ART,the High Kirg of lreland She AONGHUS. By using magic, Grainne these women brought disaster to GUINEVEM (below),inher onglnal

was promised to FINNMACC))L, managed to escape from Tara, the those who loved them. ln role as Flovtu Bide, is crmnedMay

leader of the FIANNA,the body- Irish capital, with a rather relucmnt Guinevere'scasethe love affairwith Quear in abower of peals On May
guard of the High King Although Diarmuid Gradually, however, he Sir l.ancelot weakened the uniry of Morning Arthur and his hntghs celebrated

still powerful, Finn MacCool was came to love Grainne, although for the RoundTable. ltwas herbeaury wtth sportsand contestsLancebt,her

quire old and Grainne preferred sixteen years they had to keep that also atuacted Arthur's nephew champion, alwaysoccelled.o-,rncerorexo
DIARMT]IDUA DI,]IBHNE.WhO WAS moving in order to avoid capture Sir uoDRED,who seizedCamelot GUINEVERE.BY HERBERT DMPE& UNVES, 19c.o )

r36
Crlrrc MvrHoLocY

GUINEVERE (abwe), conilemnedto quarrel. He proposed that Gwem, and the builder of London. King GWYDION (abwe) and Gilvaethv,lyJlee
deathJorhu afair with lancelot, was though only three, should be futhur set out after Griddylad and from Prydm's castlewith his precious
rescuedby him. In the bbody contestthot placed on the lrish throne. But demanded that Gwyn ap Nudd *vine The danngtheJt was part oJan
ensuel,I-ancebt slrw many h"rghs. Arthur Branwen's half-brother EFNISIEN retum her to her rightful husband, ingeniousplan to help Gilvaethwy wtn
'thefairatJellovship
wept at theloss of of would not agree and threw the his loyal follower Gwythyr. The Gwan A resourcefulmaglcian,Gwydion
noblc tmights". ([-nncrLo,r
REscuEs
Gunrvmr rv child on to a fire. siege of the otherworld king's casde had tnclud hyde" into anhangpnghis
IVldrrHrnrtt.crNv s,c 1910.) proved to be long and difficult, so wineJor someilhsory honcs
GWYDION was rhe nephew of a strange compromise was agreed 0rrusrnrnourv fin Isz 1981)
and forced Guinevere to consent to MATH,lord of the Welsh hngdom by both sides Gwyn ap Nudd and
marry him during the hng's of Gwynedd. In order to help his Gr"nhyr agreed to meet in combat IRNAN (bela4/) was one oJthree sister
absenceabroad. The confronadon brother, Gilvaethwy, sleep with each May Day until the end of witches.Shespuna magpcwebto snare
between Arthur and Modred at the Gowein, the young woman who time; whoever was the winner on the Fenian waritors The wariors were
battle of Camlan brought to a was Math's footholder, Gwydion doomsday could have Griddylad. rescuedbyGoLwho slav two of thesistm,
bloody end the golden age of stirred up a quarrel beween Math but spared lrnan when shebeggedfor
Brirish chivahy, as hardly a knight and pnyprRr, which meanr that the HTIITWNS SCC SAGE5AND merE. Hmtato, lrnan instantly changed
wuls left alive. Arthur, mortally kingwent awaytowar. When Math SEERS intn a monstrr and Goll hilled hq.
wounded, was mken to AVALoN, rerumed and discovered the decep Rtto,1910)
0rrusrprnorvBySIEpHEN
while Guinevere became a nun at tion, he rumed his nephews into a IRl.lAI.l, in lrish mythology, was a
Amesbury, where she later died. It stag and a hind for one year, into a witch who once spun a magic web
is believed by some that herbody boar and a sow for the next, and to catch some members of the
was buried at Glastonbury, not far into a pair of wolves for the third. FIANNA,or Fenians, the bodyguard
from Arthur's tomb. (See also Later, Gwydion took charge of his of the High King of lreland When
CELNCROMANCE) sister ARIANRHOD's son LLEU. this plan failed, Irnan changed her-
self into a monster and challenged
GWfnN, according ro Welsh GwtoN BacH seeTAUESTN. any one of the Fenians to single
mytholory, w6 the son of the Irish combat. FINNMACCOOL,the leader
king MATHOLWCHand the Welsh GwyN AP NUDD, in welsh of the Fenians,stepped forward but
princess BRANWEN. A dispute mytholory, ws an otherworld hng wzrspersuadedthat itwould notbe
between the two royal families led who crossed swords with King heroic enough for a warrior of his
to Branwen becoming a cook, ART}IL/R.Gwyn aMucrcd Griddylad, stature to fight thag, even if she
which caused her brother, BRltN the daughter of Lludd Llaw Ereint, was in the form of a monster. So
THEBLESSED,to sail to lreland to on herwedding day. According to another Fenian, Goll, slew Iman
avenge the insult. Matholwch sug- one late myth, Lludd Llaw Ereint and as a reward Finn allowed him
gested a compromise to setde the was the son of the death god Beli to marry his daughter.

t37
CEI-TIC MyTHOLOGY

ISeUf.T, somerimes Isolde, was


an Irish princess, and the story of
her love for TRISTANwas extremely
popular in medieval times. The
Celtic myth of Tristan and Iseult
originated in Britmny and was
retold in almost every European
country. It becameattached ro the
Arthurian stories by the later
addition ofeRrnuR to the myth.
lseult, a beautiful woman with
wonderful golden hair, cured the
orphan Tristan of a wound in the
side; a lingering ailment similar to
the one afflicting the "Maimed
Ki.g" in the story of the Grail. On
Tristan's arrival in Cornwall, his
uncle King MARKwanted to name
the young man his successor,but
the nobles objected to this anange-
ment, so the king said that he
would mary/ only the girl to whom
belonged the golden hair a swallow
had just dropped Sir Tristan, rec-
ognizing the hair as belonging to
Iseult, suggested to his uncle that
he should go on his behalf to ask
for her hand.
Disguised as a Comish trader,
Sir Tristan arrived in lreland to find
the country tefiorr:ed by a dragon,
an enorrnous "crested serpent". shock then, on his recovery, that ISEULT and Tnstan unwtttingly dranh a
ISEULTOelow), an lishbeaury,was also Realizing that the best way to Sir Tristan asked for Iseult on love philtre which haghtened their already
andcuredtheComish
a glJtedhealer, advanceKing Mark's suit would be behalf of King Mark. When her a,talzenedpassion,forglng an unbrealubb
hnightTnstanoJalingmngwound While to slay this monster, Sir Tristan own father readily agreed to the and Jinally traglc bond Duncan's strongly
nursinghimto health,thqJellin lne, but sought out its lair and fought it. marriage as a means of restoring Celticportrayal capturesthe intanseand
theirblisswasshortlivedasTnstanwas Although he just managed to over- good relarions between lreland and eNo
undyngnature of thar love CtrusrrH

forcedto leavethelrish courtJor political come the dragon, its poisonous Comwall, lseult was deeply upset. lsoLDE ByJoHN DuNclN, uNvtts, 1912 )

reasons (ltLusrnertoru By EvELYlv Pettt, c I9A0 ) breath weakened him temporarily But her mother gave Iseult's maid
and an imposter claimed to have BMNGAINEa love potion which, if that King Mark found them asleep
won the contest. lseult and her drunk on their wedding night, with Sir Tristan's sword between
mother, however, suspected trick- would make the couple love each them, but he decided not to slay
ery and discovered the injured other forever. All would have been them there and then. Instead he
young knight While they were well had not Tristan accidentally exchanged Sir Trismn's sword for
nursing Sir Trismn back to health, drunk the potion and gtven some his own and left them sleeping.
Iseult nodced that his sword had a to Iseult on the joumey to King Overcome by the mercy shown by
piece missing exactly like the frag- Mark's court. Although Iseult did his uncle, Trisun persuaded Iseult
ment of metal found in the head of marry the Cornish hng, on the to retum to her husband and he
MoRHoLT,the Irish champion. Sir wedding night, under the cover of left forvoluntary exile in Brituny.
Tristan had monallywounded him darkness, Brangaine took her Place In Brittany Sir Trisun married
on the last occasion the Irish tried in the royal bed so that he would but without happiness. On several
to collect ribute from Comwall. suspect nothing. For a time the occasions he rerumed to Comwall
Iseult wanted to hll Sir Tristan lovers managed to meet in secret, in disguise and secretly met lseult
in revenge,but she found that her bur, like the love of culrur'rcnE and again, but war took up most of his
heart would not let her wield the IANCEL?T, they were eventually energies.A serious wound forced
sword against him. It came as a discovered. lt happened one day Sir Trisan to send for Iseult. It was

r38
CEI-TIC MYTHOLOGY

agreedthat lseult should indicate


her imminent arrival with a white
sail. Jealous of the reunion of the
lovers,SirTristan's Breton wife said
a ship with a black sail had been
sighted. Tristan lost the will to live
and threw himself on his sword
before Iseult could land and reach
his bedside. Iseult followed him
into death shonly afterwards.
Stories of elopements,
courtships and ill-fated lovers
were always popular with the
Celts, for whom this late story I(AI (abne), Arthur's steward,was a
of frustrated passion held great hnight of legendarymight and prowess
appeal.(Seealso CELilC ROMANCE) Endowedwithunusualshills,he couldgo

for nine daysunderwaterand could grow as


IfH was said to have dwelt in a tall as a forest tree at will He was very
great towerin Spain, from which he gruf, thwartingboth Peredurand Culhwch
was able to see lreland and so at thegate (Meruuscnrpr c 1450
IlLUsrMloN )
decided to go there. He landed
with ninery followers just after the JosreH oF ARrMArHEAwas
TIJATIaDE DANANwhad defeated a biblical figure who was included
the FOMORIIat the second battle of in Arthunan mythology becauseof
Magh Tuireadh. The Tuatha De the Grail story. Joseph allowed
Danann suspectedIth of harbour- Christ's body to be placed in his
ing invasion plans and so hlled own tomb. His own long life was
him. When his body was retumed said to have been due to the Grail.
to Spain, his sons swore to conquer EitherJoseph, or his brother-in-law
the island. The leader of this Bron with his son Alan, brought
the Grail to Glastonbtry. Later, it
IUBDANbelow),oneof theWeeFoIh, invasion of lreland, the iast to be JOSEPHor ARIMATHEA(above), the disappeared and i$ recovery was
wasinclinedto bragoJhtsgreatness, recorded in Irish mytholory, was manwhointerredChist'sbodyinhis the geatest quest for the lGrights of
incitinghisbardto cathimdownto size Ith's uncle Mil, or MILESIUS wwttomb,isbeliorcdtohavebrought the the Round Table. Only GAIAHAD
greater
by inststingthatJar menlived in AJterbuildinga
Grailto Glastonbury was granted a complete vision of
Ulster, raceof glantsToprwe
averitable IUgnnN was a ruler of tiny churchJoritwhueGlnstonbury fubry the Grail It was handed to him by
htsvalour,Iubdanventured of to thedun people According to lrish myth- nowstands,heJoundeda Jamilyof Grail Joseph of Arimathea, a "bishop
ofthe"glant",Fergus Mackda ology, King Iubdan liked to boast a Guardians(MANUscRrpr
ILLUsTMnoNc 1450) already dead for more than three
(luusrnenoru BYSTEPHEN
REID,I 9t 0 ) lot; to put a stop to this annoying hundred years"; this "good man
habit his court poet told him that men and women was entirely cut took Our Lord's body berween his
Ulsrcrwas a land of gians. He even off. After a year and a day of this hands, and offered it to Sir
made Kirg Iubdan and his wife, harassmentFergus Mac Leda even- Galahad, who received it with
Queen Bebo, travel there in secret tually agreedto releaselubdan and humble joy"
and try the porridge of the king of Bebo, but only on the condition
Ulster, Fergus Mac Leda. thar in return he was given the I(AI, in welsh myrhology, was one
Unfortunately, Iubdan fell into the hng's most valuable and treasured of the senior warriors of ARTHUR's
porridge and, along with his wife, possession,a pair of magic shoes. coun ln medieval romance, he
was mken prisoner by Fergus No Whoever wore these shoes was became the steward Sir lGy. In one
ransom offer proved acceptableto able to travel across the surface tradition, he is a Comishman and
the king of Ulster, although the of water as if walking on dry land, Arthur's foster-brother. He was said
tiny people offered him an abun- and when Fergus Mac Leda put to have magical powers: he could
dant crop of com. So theywent on them on they grew to fit his feet go nine days and nine nights with-
to the offensive: milk became exactly Echoes of the dny people out sleep and breathe for nine days
scarce,rivers and wells were made in this lrish myth can be found and nine nighs under water
foul and polluted, mills burned in Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's
and during the nights the hair of Travek. KNY SCCI(AI

r39
CELTIC ROMANCE
HE LIVELyAND coMpELLINGcharacter of Celtic romance stems from the
heated rivalries and passionsof the lovers.Most, if not all, talesinvolve a
love trianglewith two men contestingone desirablewoman. Sometimesone
of the rivals is young and handsome,while the other is an oppressive
guardian, as in the tale of Naoise and Conchobhar; elsewhere,the two suitors are
simply rival admirers, one loved and the other despised,as in the caseof Pwyll and
Gwawl. This recurrent rivalry probably q'mbolizesa seasonalbattle betweena Lord of
Summer and a Lord of Winter for the Spring Maiden. Celtic love trianglescreate
tension, drama and colourful charactersof timelessappeal.The attractiveyoung
heroes,such as raven-hairedNaoise, or Diarmuid of the Love-Spot,are quite as
irresistibleas the ravishingCeltic beauties,Deirdreand Fand.While all the characters
are portrayedwith touching flaws, the heroinesemergeas sffong and independent
women, expressingwarmth and wisdom.

[-ANcEtor (above)and Guinevere'sabidinglovet'or fatthful consort,and he was n6)er lessenedby thar Tnrsr,q.u(above)ond Iseult snatcha tensemoment togetherin their
eachother woundedArthur, shoohhiscourt and love Here, the couplehissat thar first meeting clandestineromanceThq had gown obsessively
attachedto one
split the Fellowshipof Knights Yet both loversare contnvedbyGalleotin an embroideredmedionl another after acctdentallydnnhing a lovephtltre intendedfor Iseultand
portrayed by Mallory as essentiallygood but traglc setting Althoughtheir lwe grew out oJ the courtly her betrothed,KingMarh of Cornwall Thedoomedlwersembarhedan
characters EvenArthur realizedthat Guinwere had tradition,it wentJar bqond what the courtlycode a desperateand traglc romance,Jraught with guilt and unrequited
beentrue to him inher way as a generousand would have allowed (MaNuscnrpr
ILLUSTMTToNc I 400) longrngs(Tmsren ByAwTuRNBArr,
isoLDE
AND 1904)
cnrvns,
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

I-q,nc was GuCHUIAINN'Schario-


[eer. The Celts were renowned in
the ancient world for their skill in
handling charios on the battlefield,
and l-aeg'sshllwas crucial to many
of Cuchulainn's victories. He was
also a grearfriend and companion
When FANDinvited Cuchulainn to
the Land of Promise, he sent Laeg
before him to suwey the place
During Cuchulainn's final and
monal combat, I-aegthrew himself
in front of a spear aimed at his
master Id, Laeg's brother, was
charioteer to coNALL Caemach
mistress. When he tumed them all Ir{NCELOT, after muchJasting and
I-qNCELOT was one of the geat- down, including Morgan LeFay, praying came dtlast to Carboneh,the
IAEG, chaioteq oJ Cuchulainn, drave the est and noblest knights in the the knight admitted his love for Grail Castle Bang tainted with sin,he
hero on allhis adventures, acted as scout Arthunan tales. He was known as GUINEYEREAll of Sir Lancelot's could not enterbutwas granted avision
and comrade andfinalty casthimselfin Lancelot of the Lake because the great adventures and exploits were Whenhesteppedtoo closehewasstruchby
front of a sryar meantJorhismaster.War
indeed informed by ths secretlove fire andleJt dazedfor 24 days (r-cNcn-or
I-:.dy of the [-ake had plunged him
chaios pbyed altq rob in Celticbattle, into a magic pool when he was a For a dme Queen Guineverewould REFUsED THE GneIL Bv E BuRNE-JoNrs, cetlts, 1870 )
wtth diwer andwcrnor acting cs a single child Sir Lancelot, described as not allow Sir Lancelot to come to
t9I6)
unit 04usrnrnoNByJ LEvENDEctcR, "the flower of knights", was very her, but they eventually became Honour seemedsausfiedand the
atracdve to women, not unlike the lovers. Sir Meliagaunt, however, reputation of Arthur's queen also
IiNCELOT, mosthanikome and gJted handsome lrish warrior DIAKMIIID was suspicious and confronted Sir appeared unblemished, but there
of Arthur's hnights, attractd both monal IJADUIBHNE.Once Ki.g ARTHUR's Lancelot in the presence of King were other ltrights of the Round
anil immortal queens FourJairy queefls half-sister and enemy MORGANLE Arthur and Queen Guinevere. A Table who could not accept this
hae hdnap the sbeping hnight and hold FAYcast a spell over the sleeping tournament was held to discover judgement byarms. So SirAgravain
himin thar castb,demandingthathe kotght and shut him in a dungeon. the truth. "With such great force and Sir M?DREDled rwelve knighs
chooseoneof than tobe hs mistress There she demanded that he must Sir Lancelot smote Sir Meliagaunt to Guinevere's chamber and
(HowFounFArny FouttoLct{crlor
QUEENS choose among four enchanresses on the helmet that the stroke surprised the lovers. Although Sir
s,c 1900)
SurnNcBvWFCALDERoN,cANv who would be his "paramour", or carved the head into two parts." l^ancelotmanaged to make a fight-
ing exit and severaldays later saved
Queen Guineverefrom being bumt
to death, his acdons effectivelysplit
the Round Table and weakened the
sffength of King Arthur's realm
First, Anhur conducted an unsuc-
cessfulsiegeof Sir l-ancelot's castle
in Brittany. Then a second and
more deadlychallenge to the hng's
authoriry came from Sir Modred,
his nephew. In the subsequent
batde at Camlan, near Salisbury,
most of the Ituights of the Round
Table were slain. Ki.g Arthur was
mortally wounded and taken by a
magic boat to AYALON. Queen
Guinevere retneatedfrom the world
and became a nun at Amesbury,
where she died. Sir Lancelot and
Guinevere met only once more
before the knight renounced the
ways of war to lead the life of a
hermit. (Seealso CELilCROMANCE)

r42
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

r t Flll Qigh}hail n fitrn intoan uflc Lamfhada ("of the Long Arm").
to a;apehismurilnouswlfe, Blodarcdd. Quite possibly this great victory
vwndcil and
Hc hidin tlrcfczla,t, represented the rise of youngergods
starnnguntil Gwydionlurdhimdmn amongst the Tuatha De Danann
andratord himn healtluBlodadd themselves, for the youthful Lugh
By
wasturnd intnan anl. otusrnefloN felled Balor with a more modem
44y I r.q1984) weapon than DAGDA's ancient
club. Indeed, an altemative name
LlR, or Llyr in Welsh, was the for Lugh was Samildanach ("the
father of T,IANANNAN lr{c uR, the many-shlled"). This ingenuiry may
Manx seagod, magician and god of account for Lugh's introduction as
healing. Althouglr Lirwas also a sea the father of Cuchulainn in the
god he is hardly mendoned in more historical sagas.The sun god
mytholory, despite Sving his name was believed to have fought along-
to nuilny places, including kicester side his hard-pressed son during
in England. Shakespeareprobably Queen MEDBof Connacht's inva-
had the Welsh LIyr in mind when sion of Ulster. After Cuchulainn's
he wrote his tragedy Kngl-ear. death his foster-brother coNALL
claimed to have received help from
LLEU, named Lleu of the Skilful Lugh when he chased Cuchulainn's
Hand, in Welsh mytholorywas the killers. On one occasion the sun god
son ofARIAwRHoD.His motherlaid another man and plotted Lleu's god GOTBHNIU,Cian's brother, appearedin a magic mist.
a series of curses upon him, includ- death. When the guilry lovers saved Lugh from Balor's wrath and Lugh's final claim to fame is that
i.tg th" promise that he was to have smrck him, Lleu rose into the airin raised him to manhood. his name became part of the term
no name unless she gave him one, the shape of an eagle. After a long Well before the final battle used to describe the fairy in lrish
no weapons unless she provided search, Gwydion found him, between the Tuatha De Danann folklore, because over time "Little
them and no wife of the human restored him to human form and and the Fomorii, Lugh's proweas tls stooping Lugh', or Luchorpain,
race. With the help of his uncle healed his wounds. a warrior had been recognized. The tumed into the leprechaun, the
GWYDION,who raised him, Lleu De Danann leader NUADAstepped tiny guardian of hidden treasure
overcame all these taboos, though ITUO SCCNUDD down in his favour, and at the and the expert cobbler.
the wife conjured by Gurydion and second battle of Magh Tuireadh
the magician lv0{TFIwas nearly his LUCH was the Irish name for the Lugh fulfilled the prophecy of LllGH, theraplndent Celticsungod,
undoing. For this woman, Celtic sun god, who was known as Balor's death when he killed him ledtheTwthaDeDatunnagainstthe
BLODEIIEDD, fell in love with Lleu in Wales and as Lugos in with a sling-shot. Before delivering Fotnuiibn W hisgranilfathu,Mbr,
France. He was alwala described as this decisive blow Lugh had circled whomhesW with hismagtrc As
sling-shot
IJR'Sfour lnely chrWrnwqe turnedinn a young and handsome wanior. the enemy host on one foot and gd oJartsandoafts,lwirwntedtlu
swansbykariulous stqmothq. For Lugh was himself pan FOMORII, with one eye closed, a magic circuit popularboard gameof fdchell,inwhkhhe
9A0yun tlvy adureilcoWandhunga since his grandfather was the lrish that copied the single-leggednessof ucelled,. 0uusrn rnor.r ByE wu:-:cousrrvs, I 912 )
in W waters,clnrminglXtenmwik tluir one-eyed god neroR, the Fomorii the Fomorii in general and one-
poignantsong.Whatat Lastranrd a champion. The Fomorii were sea eyed Balor in particular. It would
humanfomt, thq waebentandbony. gods who challenged the TUATFIA seem that, like the Ulster hero
(l-rn's Carlpnnt ByJorDrDuNcAN, ilNvtrs, I9I2) DEDANANNfor control of lreland; cUcHULAtNNand the berserkers of
theywere sometimes described as Germanic mythology, the battle-
having only a single hand, foot or frenzy gnpped Lugh in such away
eye. Lugh's mother was ETHUNN, that one eye disappeared into his
the only daughrcr of Balor. Because head while the other expanded into
a prophecy had said that Balor a hideous, paralprng stare. Balor's
would be hlled by his own grand- own single eyelid had to be raised
son, he locked Ethlinn in a cryatal by four servants, and Lugh sent his
tov/er on Tory Island, off the nonh- shot smashing into the eye the
westem cozlstof Ireland. But Cian, moment itwas opened. Balor's eYe
son of the Tuatha De Danann heal- was forced back through his head,
rng god DIANIECHT, succeededin with the result that its tenible gaze
reaching Ethlinn and she bore fell upon the Fomorii ranks behind.
Lugh as a result. Either the seagod Thus Balor died and the Fomorii
I&{NANNANlvt{C LIR or the smith scattered. Lugh became known as

r43
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

LUCUS was the name used in Ulster threatened to execute her


Britain and France for a god very husband if she did not race, Macha
similar to rhe Irish rucn and the cursed all Ulstermen to suffer the
Welsh lmu His importance can be pain of childbinh for five days and
judged from the old name for Lyon, five nights whenever the kingdom
Lugdunum ("the fortressof Lug") was in danger. Machawon the race
The Roman emperor Augusrus and gave birth to twins, which is
made it the capital of the provinces said to be the reasonfor calling the
of Gaul, and ordered the inhabi- fortress of the Ulster hngs Emain
tants to celebratethis choice each Macha ("Macha's Twins").
August, the month in which the
feasrof rhe Celtic sun god Lugus MeflPUN, or Mael Duin, was
occurred. The god's name was one of the geat lrish voyagers.The
used for many other place names, late saga that describes his voyage
possibly even London: the Roman is a mixture of Christian and pre-
Londinium may havederived from Christian ideas, in contrast ro the
Lugdunum fundamenully pre-Christian mph-
ical voyage of the earlier BRaN.
IMenON, son of the Welsh dMne Maeldun's fatherwas a chieftain
mother Modron, was said to have of the Aran lslands who attacked
been abducted when only three the Irish mainland, looted a church
nights old and imprisoned in and raped a nun. He was killed
Gloucester However,since only he shortly afterwards by raiders from
was able to control the hound that Olwen's father had demanded. I|{ABON,or Maponos, wastheyouthful overseas,in all likelihood Vihngs.
which cuLHwcH needed to win the Apart from adventureslike this, the Welshlovegod A SrJtdmt$iirrrn,hewas The nun gavebinh to Maeldun and
hand of orwEnr, an expedition was actions of Mabon are uncertain, alsoequated.wrththeclassical
godApollo the child was fostered by the local
mounted to releaseMabon Once suggesdngthat he may have been a AlthoughJorgottanasa god,Maponos ruler's wife, who was the sister of
free, he duly helped to capture rhe former god, possibly Maponos, a survwed inWekhmythasMabon,a the unfortunate nun. It was only
wild boar rwRCH TRwYTHwith the Celtic god of youth, who was incor- shilbdhuntqamongAnhur'schampions when children taunted Maeldun
aid of the hound and to take from porated in Welsh mythology as a (IuusrnenoxsyMl&qr.,oe 1994
Gnev, ) that he was not reallywell bom that
between the boar's ears the razor warrior once his worship was all his foster-mothertook him to see
but forgotten The Romansknew of Ulster. Mac Da Tho promised both his true mother and his parentage
MACHAcursed theUktermen to suft'er
the
Maponos, whom they equated these rulers that they could have was revealed.He then set out with
painof childbirth forfive days, at thetime
with Apollo, the god of prophecy. the hound, and slaughtered the three of his foster-brothersto find
oJlJkter'sgreatest needThebittercurse boar to provide a feast, to which he his father, only to leam that he had
stemmed Jromhq ill-treatment by the If4eC CnCnf was the trish god invited them Fighting broke out been murdered
Uktermenwhen, though nearhqterm,she of eloquenceand the son of.ocue between the Ulster king and the Determined to avenge his
wasJorced to raceonJoottoprweabet After NUADAhad been hlled at the men of Connacht. but the latter father's death, Maeldun was
0[usrpcflol ry SmpHrruPe:,r,1910) second battle of Magh Tuireadh, soon retreated When the hound, advisedbya druid as to which were
Mac Cecht and his brothers could over which rhey had been quar- the favourable days for him to
not decide whether to divide relling, ran after the king's chariot build, launch and sail a three-
Ireland berween them and so they his charioteer cut off its head skinned coracle Then, sdll accom-
consulted a stranger named ItH. panied by his foster-brothers and
Suspecting from his responsethat MnCHe was one of the Irish war also a crew of seventeenwarriors,
he had designson conquenng the goddesses, often identified with he sailed on his long and strange
island himself, they killed him, BADB,MORRIGANANdruTUNIN ShC voyage of revenge
thus provoking the invasion of the first mamed Nemed, a Scythian The first island Maeldun came
sons of MILESIUS ru1er who defeated the FOMORII, to was inhabited by murderers, but
the sea gods who slew her second apparently not the killers of his
MAC Dn THO was king of husband NUADAand herselfat the father. Next they landed upon an
Leinster at the time that MEDBwas second battle of Magh Tuireadh. A isle of enorrnous an$; as large as
queen of Connacht. He owned a later Macha laid a curse on Ulster horses, the ants almost devoured
fine hound and a huge boar, and after her boastful husband said the crew and the boat. l-argebirds
many of his neighbours coveted that, though heavy with child, she living on another island were found
these animals, including Medb and could outrun all the king's horses to pose no threat, however They
CONCHOBHARMAC NE55A,king of and chariots When the king of even provided the voyagers with
Crlrrc MyrHoLocY

on top of a pedestal; the offer of


etemal youth on one island which
was inhabited by a queen and her
daughters; intoxicating fruits; con-
tagious laughter; rwolving fire; and
a hermit who lived on salmon that
was given by * otter and half a loaf
provided each day by angels.
Evenrually, Maeldun caught up
with his farher's killers, bur they
pleaded for mercy and a peace was
agreed.Thus ended thevoyage that
was said to contain "the sum of the
wisdom of lreland". (See also
FABULOUS VOYAGES)

MAEVE see MEDB.

IdAEI^DUNOeloul)andhrssailon
foundawondroussilvr columnrising
straightfrom thesea.lts summit,lostin
tlres}1.,wailrapeilwrtha silvqnet,
flungJarouttosea.Astheywiled
thrugh themah, Aurnan hached of a
pieceu proofoJke tale.(tuusrntnoN By
D,tpur,r ME{ER"1991)

IA{EIDUN, onhs qk voyagt,stoppcn by of them was hot like a volcano.


tlrcblah slandof tlv mill (abarc)tylwe Among other strange creanrres and
liveda glaot"ymilla grtmlygnnding encounters on the voyage were
mounds of cant.Heobwvcdilouriytlut gigantic swine and calves so huge
tlv am synrblizd atlttwt nnbegrydgd that they could not be cooked
eachothcr.Thevoyagm,aghast, *ild whole; sheep rhat changed the
6tttty.fiutsntnoNSYALANlrq 198{
) colour of their wool apparenrly ar
will; a sombre miller who ground
meat. Two subsequent islands of everything that was begrudged in
monsrous, gigantic honsesproved the world; a population of moum-
to be even more dangerous, so it ers; an island divided inro four
was with some relief thar Maeldun hngdoms by fences made of gold,
and his companions landed on the silver, brass and crysral; a casde
Island of the House of rhe Salmon. with a glass bridge where there
There theydiscovered an uninhabi. lived a beautiful girl who rejecred
ted house with food and drink, as Maeldun's advances;crylng birds;
well as comfonable beds, awairing a solitary pilgrim on a tiny island
them. A regular supply of fresh that was enlarged every year by
salmon was provided by a device divine providence; a wonderful
that periodically threw fish into rhe founrain that gushed milk, beer
house from the sea. Similar lunrry and wine; glant smiths; a sea of
was encountered on the next isle, glass; a sea of clouds in which
which was covered with orchards casdes,fores6, animals and a fear-
of delicious apples. some monster suddenly appeared;
Danger w.ts soon encountered an underwaterisland of prophecy;
again, however, on islands that an amazing water-arch; a gigandc
werc populated by rwohing beasrs, silver column and net, from which
fighting horses, a mpterious car the voyagerscut offa small piece as
and fierysvine. The ground on one a souvenir; an inaccessible island

L15
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

MANANNAN Mec LlR, ro.t MmtnWYOeN, sonof Llyr,was


of the lrish sea god ttR, took his rheWelshequivalentof the Irish
name from the lsie of Man, which sea god MANANNAN,though his
is situated in the Insh Sea about Iinla with the seawere far lesswell
halfway berween Ireland and defined The brother of nRerurin
BLES5ED and nnaxwnN, he married
Bntain Manannan was a seagod,
RHIANNON on the death of her hus-
magician and healer, and the ruler
of the Land of Promise, where he band PvwLL. One day he and
lived in Emhain ("of the Apple Rhiannon, along with Rhiannon's
Trees") His home was imagrned to son PRlDrru and his wife Cigfa,
be sited off the western coast of were enveloped in a magical mist
Ireland, somewhere in the Atlantic When it cleared, their palace was
Ocean His wife was the renowned deserted and the land around it
beaury FAND,who fell in love with desolate, so they travelled to
the Ulster hero CUCHULAINN but England, where Manawydan and
finally chose to stay with her sea Pryderi made a lMng as leather-
god husband. Manannan therefore workers. So successfulwere theY
shook a magic cloak benveen Fand that the local craftsmen forced
and Cuchulainn in order to make them to leave. On their return to
sure they would never meet again Wales, both Pryderi and Rhiannon
Manannan Mac Lir was a noble disappearedby magrc, Ieaving Cigfa
and handsome warrior, who drove MANAWYDAN (abwe) tiedto grwv IUARK belw) watchessadly ashrswtJe, and Manawydan alone. He then
a chariot as easily over the waves as wheat aJtu a my stanousblight had Isath, hneek beforea drawn sttord, beside ried to support them by growing a
over a plain and was said to have a devastatedhtsland Onefield was npe for herselJwrthgneJ atTnstan's death Marh, crop of wheat, but his fields were
ship that sailed itself. He had both hawestwhanwernight itwu stipped to whowa oJtenponrayd a a muctfulman, stripped by mice He caught one of
divrne and mortal children, and the stalluby mice In dupair,he planned to gatheredherup andborehr off to a touter the mice and would have hanged
one of his mortal sons, MONGAN, hangone of the mice, until drssuadedbya where shewasrestoredtohealth. it, but a passing stranger offered
was conceived by way of a deceP- strangcr.0[usrnenoru Lez,1984
BYAIAN ) Fum,c 1900)
BYRussELr
ouusrnnnoN him whatever he wanted in return
tion similar to the ruse used for for the mouse's life. Manawydan
ARTHUR's conception Manannan asked for the retum of Rhiannon
slept with an Ulster queen when and Pryderi. The stranger agreed
disguisedas her husband. Mongan and revealedhimself to be Llwyd, a
did, however, inherit supematural magician and friend of Gwawl, the
gifs, including the abiliry to shape- suitorwhom Rhiannon had refused
change,and he went on to become in order to marry Pwyll (Seealso
a greatking and mighry warrior MAGICANDENCFIANTMENT)

thel'ish seagod, IvIePoNoS seeMABoN


MANANNAN,@elou,),
rodethewaves boat
in a self-propelled
MenI( was the king of Comwall
called"WaveSweeper"'4sa seagod,
Manannan couWstirup or soothethesea, in rhe Breton myth of mtstaN and
ISEULT.He was the guardian of his
andhelporhindershipsHeoftenappeared
suchasBran,at theoutvt oJ orphaned nephew Tristan and the
tovoyagers,
husband of Iseult, an Irish princess.
thar tnp 0uustn rtotr BYMIMNDA Gru''t, 1991)
Although jealous of Tristan and
lseult, he was not endrely unsym-
pathetic, and even when he came
upon the lovers sleeping together
with Trisun's sword between them
he did not kill them. He o<changed
the sword for his own and left with-
out waking them. Shamed by this
act o[ mercy, the lovers knew that
they must part. Tristan solemnly
retumed lseult to his uncle and
went into exile in BritunY.
CIITIC MyTHoLoGY

MATHOLWCH'SAqDconvoy uJships MEDB (abwe),themagnifcantbut


glides
up to theraggedWelsh
shorein the malanlentqueen wasa
of Connarht,
preludeto a doomedmarnagebetwean warnorwhoJoughtasfiucelyasMorigan
himself
andBranwen, thebeautifuI
sistr dJ A wiWandwiful woman,sheprecipitated
BrantheBlessed Theshipshadarignsof andpapetuatedthebloody war withUkter
brocaded silhandanuptilted,
shieWasa in whichCuchulainnandothq hqoeslost
signofpeace0uusrnenor.r
ByArNt-ze,1984) thar lwa 0uusrnenoru ByJLEyENDEctcR
, 1916
)

MAIH was rhe brother of rhe IM,qrHoLwCH, in welsh myrh- IMruCN SCCFABULOI) S VOYAGES while she was bathing in a pool
Welsh mother goddessDoN and a ology, was the lrish kingmarried to Forbai had discovered that Queen
great magician At the time that BMNWEN, the sister of nRarutle MEDB, also known as Maeve,was Medb was in the habit of regularly
PRYDERI ruled over Dyfed in the BLESSED and half-sisterof rnvlsrEN. the wamor-queen of Connacht taking her bath in a Galway pool
southem part of Wales, Math was Efnisien, becausehe claimed that According to lrish mythology, no He very carefully measured the
the lord of Gwynedd in the north. he had not been consulted over king could reign in Connachr exact distance between the spot
Except during war, Math could Branwen's wedding, "cut off the unless he was married to Medb, where she bathed and the shore,
only live if his feet were held in the lips of Matholwch's horsesat their who was believed to hold the hng- then he returned to the Ulster
lap of a virgin. When Gilvaethwy, tecth, their earsto their heads,and dom's sovereignryin her person. ft stronghold of Emain Macha and
one of his nephews, fell in love their tails ro their bodies" Later. was also said that she "never was practised with a sling-shot until he
with the young woman who held when Bran took his army to Ireland wrthout one man in the shadow of was able to knock an apple from
Math's feet in her lap, his brother, to avenge the insult of Branwen another". Medb's most famous the top of a pole over the same
GWYDION, tncked Math into going being made a cook, Efnisien tossed action was the invasion of Ulster, distance Satisfied ar last rhat his
to war wrth Pryderi so that the girl Matholwch's three-year-old son when her forcescaptured rhe geat aim was perfect, he stealthily made
might be left behind On discover- GwERNinto a fire In the battle that brown bull of Cuailgne and killed his way back to the pool and hir
ing that he had been deceived, followed, nearly all the Brirons were the Ulster hero CUCHULAINNShe Queen Medb in the centre of her
however, the furious Math turned hlled and all of the Irish except for was herselfslain by Forbai, rhe son forehead using his sling-shot Thus
his nephews into animals five pregnant women. of King CONCHOBHARMAC NESSA, was Ulster revenged.

t+7
SINGLE COMBAT
N wAR,THEANCIENTCElrs relied on heroic single combat, rarher than all-out
warfare,as a meansof settling disputes.Shortagegf manpowerforbademultiple
pitched battles.Instead, chosenchampions,such as Cuchulainn or Morholt,
duelled to the death. Even in a large-scaleepic war, like the campaign of
Cuailgne, the Ulster champion fought in single combat every day with a different
warrior. In the Arthurian legends,single combat continued in the form of Ltghtly
jousts. While the Celtic heroes wore scant arrnour, Arthur's
mounted knights encased themselvesin glittering iron. In
addition to the basic weapons of spear, sword, sling and
shield, the hero of legend had recourse to magical skills
and a range of enchanted weaponS, such as Arthur's
Excalibur or Fergus Mac Roth's Caladcholg, the
originalExcalibur.
Cucnu-uttN Aeft), the Insh champion,
njoys a short rupite betweenbattles
fuhausted by continual combat, he suf ued

from chroniclach of sleep, snatchingcat-naps


beween dueb Once, hisfather Lugh, pitying
him, castthe hero into a magpcalsleepJor three
daysand nights,dunngwhichhehealedallhs
wounds When Cuchulainn deJaded Wtr
abne against theforces of Medb, he confronted
chosenchampionsoneby one Betweenduels,
the restlesshqo harassed the army with his
sling {trrusrnrnoNByYvoNN
r Gr:flenr,
1991
)

Crrrrc Clernv (ngh) ide their


battlehorsesto war, armedwith
spearsand crestedhelmetsThar
comradesonJoot wear breeches
and caps,andbear spearsand,
long bossed shields,while
trumpetersbnngup the rear. The
Celtswereheavilyreliant on thar
long shields,which were usually
made oJwood and sometimes
cwered with decorativebronze
worh Other sharp-rimmed shields
could ako be used as missile
weApOnS(GulotsrnupC,culDnot'r,
GTLDED
srLVER,
c 100BC)
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

lntrnI dn drdn.Eng,ln rnsull trr (,urnt'r't'rc's

hanclmattlen, macle h thc irnrght -s,/rror/

G o a c l e t lr r n h , t h c r r s e , o n d . s h o t h i h u m f r t r r r s

fought trrcles.slr,u;ttrl Gtutnt'-s rLlgc gcrvc hrrn


t h e d g e u n c l h e ( ) r c r ( ( i m e, b u t s p a r c L l t h t

hntght ilri 'rRliii)\3)4i 1\ Iri 1984

O w ' : r t l ' S ( h c l o u ' ) l t i t r J n c s s[ t r i ] i l r r n t r l l t r i hrnr

tt lathlul /rrcnr,irrho prorcr-l to bt u rtrftt.lrl


cornrcdc-rn urlrs In thts unequal rnatth, tht

( ) w , u r n ' sh o n l c a p t t , ,
lldnl ilLisll'ilrntng untrl
()rrlrn s cir'ft'rrr
c \\'hcn rhc ,qrtrntconrp/rrrn,'.:/

t h a t h c r o u l d i r t t n d l t ' ( h r r r r r r r , c l l, ' n t , u , g hi / r r

rr'crr' n()r ftrr hrs lton. Ltrr'urn prr-shcdhrs pct hrri la

l n t i r t l ' r ( f' ( r r 1 r a \ s h
, rrt rhc rnt'prrssrhl, rrc(iIr{r(
/t1l;.'1,,1,'1 thc forlress rrttlls anc/ rrt.:trrlt'Jthc

{ c i l r t t r r t l C c l t h l , r i \ r k 1 i i ,, . .i r i \ , \ \ l r , l , ) t ' +
CTITIC MyTHOLOGY

MfnltN, somerimesMyrddin, MERLIN QeJ), sageJrom anotlier world,


was the famous wizardof Arthunan was an inspiredseerand mysticmage,a
mythology So powerful was his wise counsellorandJaithJulfnend to three
magic that one medieval tradition ablehings This powerJulportrayal captures
credits him with the magical con- the mysticaland visionarynature of Celtic
struction of Stonehenge,the out- bards,rootedin a deepffinity with nature
standing British monument rhat (Mgnrru BY Ar,aN LEE, CANvAs, 1984 )

has survived from ancient times


Another of his worl<swas supposed MIDIR (nght), one oJthe Tuatha De
to be KingARTHUR's famous Round Danann, appearedat the palaceoJTara to
Table, alate copy of which can still carry off Etain, the Ulsterwoman he loved,
be seenat Winchester today long sincelost to him by enchantmentThe
Merlin's birth was the subject of pair dnfted upwardsand disappeared
a strange story Apparently, the througha palacewindow,andJlewto an
Bntons were toid that a great otherworld (Ir-rusrnarroN Rrir, 1910
BySrEpHEN )
fortressthey had built on Salisbury
plain, possibly near Stonehenge, mortal father Such a half-human problem by means of magic Two passedby: "l am also the greatest
would never be safe until the sacrifice seemed impossible to dragonswere, in fact, responsible fool I love another more than I love
ground rhere had been soaked by achieve,until it was leamed that a for the problem myself, and I taught my beloved
the blood of a child who had no beautiful girl was with child by a This mixture of pre-Chnstian how to bind me to herself, and
demon The child tumed out to be and Christian ideas sits strangely now no one can set me free." (See
MERLINbelow), for allhiswisdom, was Merlin, who, though baptized as a with Merlin's later assistanceto also SAGES MAGICAND
AND5EER5:
bewitchedby thehdy oJthel-a,ke who Christian, still possessedfabulous Ki.g Arthur, whose father UTHER ENCHANTMENT)
turnedhislove toherownendsShesapped powers inherited from his demon PENDMGONwas said to have suc-
htspowerandplunderedhis storeofsecret father Somehow the boy did not cessfullyinvaded Bntain about this MIDIR, in Insh mythology, was
hnowledge, and when done, she bound him need to be sacnficedfor the sakeof time Merlin sided with Uther and rhe proud son of DAGDA,father of
in stone by his own spells {trlrmrN ANDNIMUE the fortressbecauseit is likely that employed his powers to enablehim the gods Unlike his father, who is
BYE BURNE-/ONE5, c 1870)
cANVAs, Merlin was able to deal with the to sleep with lgraine, the wife of a usua\ ponrayed asa rough, coarse
Cornish nobleman, by disguising figure, Midir alwaysappeared as a
him as her husband Due to this splendidly dressed young man
deception Arthur was conceived Midir's first wife was Fuamnach,
Once he ascendedthe throne, King the daughter of Beothach She
Arthur had Merlin as his trusted becamefurious with jealousywhen
advisor and often used the wizard Midir mamed a secondwife, ETAIN,
as a messengerbecause, as wrth from Ulster With a druid's aid,
many of the Celtic gods and god- Fuamnach tumed Emin first into a
desses,he could assumeany shape pool, then into a worrn and finally
he pleased into a fly in order to keep her away
There are various accounts of from Midir fu a fly Etain was swal-
Meriin's death One tells how the lowed by the wife of Etar, an Ulster
wtzard forgot about the seat at the warrior, and reborn as the wife of
Round Table thar only GAIAHAD the High King of lreland Although
could use, being the only knight Midir recoveredEtain, he had to
wonhy enough to see the GRAIL accept in the end that she was the
Merlin sat down and was at once High King's consort and leaveher
swallowed up by the earth, like alone Midir also had some diffi-
other sinful men who had tried it culty in acceptinghis father's suc-
before him Another story blames cessorsas leadersof the TUATIIADE
the wrzard's death on his passion DANANN The conflict that he
for women. Either Viviane, possibly started seems to have had a dan-
the Lady of the l-ake, or Nimue, the gerouslyweakening effect on this
daughter of a Sicilian siren, impris- generationof godsjust before the
oned him in an enchanted wood invasion of the Milesians,who then
after Merlin had explained all about went on to defeatthe gods.
the secrets of his own magic As
Merlin told Sir GAWAIN.who once MILE5IU5
MTT- OR MILE SCC

t50
CeITIC MYTHOLOGY

MONCnN was the son of rhe


Manx seagod MANANNAN MACLIR.
According to Irish mythology, his
conception had been made poss-
ible by the use of a deception akin
to the one used by MERLINso that
UTHERcould sleepwith Igaine and
so conceive ARTHURManannan
Mac Lir had assumedthe shape of
an Ulster king in order to sleep
with his beautiful queen. When
Mongan was three days old, his
father took him to one of his other-
world realms, the [-and of Promise,
where the boy remained until he
had grown to manhood. It is
MILESIUSsails Jorlrelandtoavenge the claimed by some traditions that MORGAN LE FAYS (below)paradoncal MODRED (above), Arthur' s treacherous
deathoJhisnephew, Ith,whowasslainby Mongan then retumed to lreland nature is relectedin her dual roleas both nephew,abusedhisroleof regentand
theTuathaDe Danann, rulersoJIreland reincamatedas FINMACCOOL, the healerand dorh maglcian,asArthur's usurpedthe throne,t'orcingArthur to quash
Although Milesiusdid notreachshore famousleaderof the FIANNA, but in thom in liJe,yet also his guardian in death the rebelJorces Bothpmshed in theJrnal
himself,hisfamilysucceeded,deJeating the other accountshe retainedhis own Althougheducatedat a conyent,she battle that endedthe war and so cameto an
DeDanannwhoretreated intoan invisible identity The storiesabout Mongan managedto emergeas a glftedmagcian end theArthuian golden4gc (ARTHUR
AND
otherworld(luusrnenorusySEpHriv
Rrro,19.10
) describe how he used his shape- (MoncnN LE FAy ByA SANDys, wooo,1864) MODRED gy W Hetutmtl, CANVA5, c 1910 )

changing abiliry to get his own way,


MtlfStUS. somerimes Mil or and mention in particular the
Mile, was the name given to a recovery of his wife Dubh Lacha
Spanish soldier whose sons were He had inherited the divine abiliry
said to have organized the final of metamorphosisfrom his father
invasion of Ireland The murder
there of their kinsman ITH caused MOnCnN LE FnY was King
the Milesians to take revenge by ARTHUR'shaif-sisterand in some
conquering the island This rhey versionsof the story she is said to
achieved by defeating the TLTATHA have been the mistress of Sir
DE DANANN,"the people of the Accolon of Gaul. Throughout all
goddessDana", the exisdngrulers. the British myths that tell of
Following the final decisivebattle Arthur's incredible reign Morgan
bet'ween the two forces,which the Le Fay is always depicted as the
Milesians won, the Tuatha De king's implacable enemy, often
Danann retired to an otherworld plotting his downfall According to
beneath the soil of Ireland one story she is supposed to have
stolen the magic sword Excalibur
MOOnfD was the treacherous and sent it to Accolon. who then
nephew of King ARTHURWhile he challengedArthur to single com-
was away waging war in Brirtany, bat. When Accolon dropped the
Arthur had appointed Modred his sword Arthur recognzed it and the
regent, but his schemingnephew other lcright admitted his guilt and
tried instead to uke the rhrone and surrendered However, after the
force GUINEVERE to marry him. On bloody battle against Arthur's
the king's return, a terrible battle rebellious nephew Sir MoDRED,
was fought nearSalisburyandmosr Morgan le Faywas one of the three
of the Iftrighs of the Round Table women who took the grievously
were killed, including Modred. wounded king in a black boar to
Arthur, who had been mortally AyALONThe other two were "the
wounded during the battle, was Queen of Northgales and the
then mken ro AVALoNin a black Queen of Wastelands" (Seealso
boat by three mysterious women SAGESAND 5EER5;SINGLECOMBAT)

r5r
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

MOnHOm was the gigandc of war deities who sometimes


brother of the king of lreland, to appeared as beautiful young
whom King Mark and Cornwall women and sometimes as crows,
were expected to pay an annual screeching over the batdefield.
tribute. Mark's nephew TRISTAN Nemain was said to have been the
was determined to put an end to wife of NUADA. the leader of the
this practice. He therefore sailed to TUATHADE DANANN.
Ireland and succeeded in hlling
Morholt, but not before he had NfnACUtN, an Irish bird god,
been wounded by the giant's great fell in love with Mess Buachalla, the
poisoned sword. Before he died, berothed of Eterscel,High Kingof
Morholt told Tristan that only his MORHOLT,theInshchampion, conJrontslreland. On the eve of the wedding, NElt{IN, oneoJthedrmdfulgoddesses of
sistEr ISEULTwould be able to cure Tistan, theCornishnmcomer,in a duel Nemglan came to her in a bird shn war,appeared sometimesasawashrat
his poisoned wound. ovq InshtaxesDespiteMorholt'sgreater and seduced her, and this was how theford,presaglngdoom hrsLrst
BeJore
pmlerand shill,theyoungTistanfought she conceived corualRnMoR The combat,Cuchulainn sawa washerwerping
MOnTGAN, somedmesknown lilu amightylionanddealttheolderhmght child was passed off as High King andwailingwshennsed aheapofbbody
as Monigu, w6 an Irish goddess of a mortnlblowto htshelm,lodgnga piece Eterscel'sson, but Mess Buachalla raimentfulongngto thegreathero
death on the batdefield who helped oJword inhisbrain 0uusrncnoN avErnrw was careful to wam the boy that he BvSTEPHEN
0rrusrprnoru Rno,1910
)
the TUATHADE DANANNat both Ptw c 1%)0.) must never, whatever the circum-
batdes of Magh Tuireadh. She was smncesmrght be, hll a bird. When iot down this very road when a
associated with the other war NnOmn was rhe eldest son of Conaire Mor was a young man, flock of birds with beautiful
deities MACHA.BADBand rurunlru. Usna and his wife Elbha, daughter Etersceldied and the question of plumage descended upon him.
Her favourite form was the crow, of. cetuneP. When DEIRDREper- the successionwas raised in Tara, Forgemng his mother's instnrcdon
and as such she settled in triumph suaded him to run away with her the lrish capital. Unknown to never to harm any bird, he loaded
on the shoulder of the Ulster hero so that she could avoid maniage to Conaire, there was a prophecy to his sling, at which point the birds
CUCHUIAINNwhen he was finally the Ulster hng COwCHOBHARMACthe effect that Eterscel'ssuccessor immediately tumed into armed
killed in the war against Queen NEssA,Naoise and his two brothers would be a naked man walking warriors. The leader of these
MEDB'sforces.Cuchulainn had not fled with her to Alba. Conchobhar along the road to Tara with a sling incredible warriors, however,
onlyrefused Monigan's love, but in sent FERGUSMAC ROTHto bring in his hand. It happened one day introduced himself to Conaire as
anger he had even wounded her. them all home. Suspicious of that Conaire was driving his char- his real father Nemglan. To make
For such a deed his fate was sealed. Conchobhar, but trusting Fergus' up for his misconduct towards the
promise that no harm would come NAOISEelopes with thegreatIrch beauty, birds, Conaire was told to undress
MORRIGAN,theterible goddess of war, to them, Naoise agreed. In the Dardre fhry fled acrosstheseato and retum home to Tara on foot,
appeared sometimes asawarnorin a event, Conchobhar had Naoise Scotlnnd, pursuedby FqgusMacRothBy carrying only his sling. He thus
futtb, sidingwith herJavourites
Most killed, and so enraged was Fergus LochNess,thq foundrefuge andhunted became the next High King of
oftenshesmrednethead(Ea ravenor Mac Roth that he joined the forces deqanil salmon, lrrng in pastoral
blss Ireland.
crw, shnehing andJlappingher winSsto of Conchobhar's great enemy, untilthq wqe lurd bachto a deadlytrap
scarethehost,or to signtfiimminantdeath, Queen MEDBof Connacht. in lrelandbyan unsuspectingFrgus Mac NESSA, in lrish mythology, was
as hqe (lLnrsrulrn ay Srrprer Ren, 1910) Roth. 0uusrnrfloNANoN) the mother of CONCHOBHARMAC
NeCHfeN was an trish warer NEssA,the Ulster ruler during the
god and, according to some ver- Iifetime of the hero CUCHUL{INN.
sions, the husband of BoANN On Nessa'shusband was King Fachma
Nechtan's hill there was a holywell of Ulster and when the king died
that was the source of all knowl- his half-brother, FERGU
S NIACROTH,
edge, to which only Nechtan and succeeded to the throne and pro-
his three cup-bearers had access. posed marriage to Nessa.
When Boann found herway to the However, she would agee to the
well, the waters rose from the match only on the condidon that
ground and chased afrer her, her son should be allowed to rule
becoming the River Boyne. Ulster for one year. Fergus Mac
Roth was so in love with her that
NguetN (whose name means he readily agreed,but at the end of
"dreadful" or "venomous"), in Irish the year the people of Ulster
mythology, was a goddess of war. refused to let Conchobhar step
Along with nenp, MORRIGAN and down from the throne, so excellent
MACIuA,she formed one of a goup was his rule.

r52
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

NUnnn, also known as Nuada


Airgedamh ("Nuada of the Silver
Hand"), because of a temporury
replacementfor a hand he lost at
the lirst battle of Magh Tuireadh,
was an important Irish god and
Ieader of the TI]ATHADEDANANN
He was mamed to NEMAIN.The De
Danann were a younger generation
of gods than the FOMORII,the sea
gods who were soon to challenge
them at the second batde of Magh
NEMGITIN,abirdgodJrom another- Tuireadh. For a while berween the
world,cameto Mess Buachallabeiorehu nvo battles,Nuada appointed nnrs
weddingtotheHighKing., sheJlavin,his as leaderbecauseof the loss of his
plumage to reveal
moulted abeauttful hand. The silver replacementwas
youthLilu kla andDanaebeforeher, she made by DIANCECHT.But Nuada
lwedthegodandborehima son,Conaire was dissatisfiedwith it and umed
Mor.(IuusrntnoN
BvNrcKBEil-E,
1995) to Dian Cechr's son Miach. who
made him a new hand of flesh and
NHUH was rhe wife of coNALL blood Dian Cecht slew Miach out
Caemach.Whrle CUCHTIIAINN was of jealousy. Nuada's restoration as
recoveringfrom wounds sustained Ieadercausedthe second battle of
during the war against the men of Magh Tuireadh, because the half-
Connacht, Niamh nursed him and Fomorii Bres complained to his
becamehis mistress She then ried hnsmen about his treatment.
to prevent him retuming to battle At the second battle the lethal
But the witch BADB,one of the eye of BALoRkilled both Nuada
daughters of.ceumtN, cast a spell and Nemain before the sun god
on Niamh so that she wandered LIJGHdestroyeditwith a sling-shot
away into the counrryside Badb Their victory saved the Tuatha De
then assumed the form of Niamh Danann, but later they in tum were
and told Cuchulainn that he must defearedby the sons of MILESIUS
retum to the war and fight. That Nuada was the great De
Danann leader, there is no doubt.
Nnu oF Tnr GolnnN He is described as sitting on his
Hetn was a daughter of the sea throne "with a white light about
god uerueNNANMACLIR.She fell in him as it had been a fleeceof silver,
Iove wrth the poet oISlNand they and round his head a wheel of light
Iived happily together in the L-and pulsed and beat with changing
of Promise,which was one of the colours". Nuada is cognate with
otherworld realms. Niam bore the rhe Welsh NUDD
poet a daughter, Plur nam Ban
("Flower of Woman") NUDD, known as Llud to the
Bridsh, is the Welsh equivalent of
NOPENS was a British god of NUADA.He also had a silver hand,
healing, whose magrc hounds were and in one tale was lanown as Llud
also believed to be able to cure the Llawereint (" silver-handed")
sick. Nodens wursworshipped dur-
ing the Roman occupation; the NUDD,or IJud,ruledBitain at a time
nrins of a great temple have been whatitwasplnguedby a strange
MayEve
found on the banks of the River thattwosubtenanean
scrarmIt transpired
Sevem. ln lreland, he became dragowcauselthescream duingan
NUADAof the Silver Hand and in annunlbattb.Thq wqesoothedby sinhing
Wales NUDD of the Silver Hand, meadinba pitdugthrou$tthecantreoJ
also known as Llud to the Britons. the earth 0uusrnrnor ByAuN l;.z, 1981)

r53
CTITIC MyrHoLoGY

OGMA *as the Irish god of OGMA,godoJeloquence, inventedthe


eloquence and the inventor of Ogham scipt, consisting
oJverticallines
Ogham, the earliestsystem of wrir- crossing
a lateralbaseline
Ogham
ing used in lreland. Ogham is messageswerecarved onstoneand
made up of a series of vertical or inscibedonbarhsandwands oJhazelor
sloping lines inscribed on a base aspenOvr 400ancientmessages have
line The sagastell of vast libraries suw|ed(Irrusrnerroru
ByNrcKBMLE,1995 )
of Ogham writing, though only
inscriptions in stone carvings have explained how a spell had been
suryived, and the sagasthemselves placedupon her, but that she had
were later recorded by monks using leamed that if Finn MacCool came
the Roman alphaber to love her. then all the enchant-
Ogma was a son of DAGDA,who men$ would ceaseto have power
was a god described as rhe "Lord of and she could resumeher normal
I(nowledge" Besideshaving a truly shape So it came to passthat Sadb
remarkable skill as a poet, Ogma iived with Finn MacCool as his
was a fighter like other Irish gods misress, and for months neither of
and also, like the the Greek god them stirred from their dwelling
Hermes or the Roman Mercury, he Then news amved of invaders in
was responsiblefor conveying souls ships off Dublin, most likely a
to the otherworld Whereas for the Viking raid, and the Fenians were
Greek and Roman messengergods called to arrns For only one week
this was a sad dury, nor least Finn MacCool was absentdealing
becausethe hngdom of Hades was Mediterranean first encountered OtStN, somerimesOssian, was with the Vikings On his rerum,
not an invidng place, Ogma's task the idea of the transmigration of the son of rhe Fenian, or FIANNA, however, he discovered that Sadb
was a happier one since rhe Celtic souls from their Celdc neighbours IeaderFINNMACCIIL According had been lured awayby someone
otherworld was a delightful and In the sixth century sc the famous to lrish mytholory, Oisin was rhe disguised as himself (a common
peacefulresdng-placefor the soul and unusual Greek philosopher greatestpoet in Ireland, perhaps trick among shape-changersin Irish
prior to irs next rebirth in rhe $nhagoras left the Aegean island of not a surprising achievement con- mythology) Realizingthat it must
world It is thought rhar Greek Samosand went to live in the city sidering how as a young man his be the enchanter whom Sadb had
colonists in the westem end of the of Croton in southem Italy He father had eaten the Salmon of rejected,Finn MacCool organized
becameexremely interestedin the Ifuowledge. Oisin's mother was a searchof everyremote hill, valley
OISINandthefairymaiden, Niamh,Jlew theory of reincamadon. His follow- none other than the goddessSADB, and forestin the country, butwith-
awayona snow-white steedthrough golden ers.who believed that the soul was the granddaughter of oecoe. This out success Eventuallyhe gaveup
mistto theInnd of Promise, whichwasa immortal, acceptedtransmigration made OGMA,the god of eloquence, all hope of finding his mistressand
delightfulotherw orldbq ondalldream s, through animals and plans as well, Oisin's uncle rerumed to his pleasureof hunting
filled withbirdsong andscented Jlowers, and as a result proposed the kin- One day, as Finn MacCool with It happened, by chance, that his
withoverflowing meadandwondrous ship of all living things his companions and dogs was dogs tracked down avery strange
creatures (lLLLrsrR,4rroru
BySTEPHENREID.I9i 0 ) In some lrish myths Ogma is returning homewards, a beautiful quarry and Finn MacCool came
said to have married EtAtN, who deer started up on their path and upon them surrounding a naked
was the daughter of the god of the ensuing chase took them boy with long hair. His two best
healing DIAN CECHTAt rhe second towards Tara, the Irish capital and hounds were, in fact, keeping the
and final battle of Magh Tuireadh the base of the Fenians.At last the pack from seizing the child
Ogma slew Indech, son of the exhausted animal stopped and Having driven offthe dogs, Finn
FOMORII goddessDomnu Indech croucheddown on the gound, but MacCool and the other hunsmen
was one of the leaders of the instead of atuchng their quarry the regardedthe boywith cunosiry. He
Fomorii, who were rhe older sea hounds began to play roufld her, told them that he did not know the
gods who had challenged the and even to lick her head and identity of his father, but that his
TUATHADE DANANN,the younger limbs So Finn MacCool ordered mother was a gentle hind, with
generation of gods of which Ogma that no harm should be done to the whom he lived in a quier valley
was one. After the temble batde deer, which followed them on the safely shut in by steep cliffs. To
was over and the De Danann were way home until sunset. their home a tall, dark stranger
victorious, Ogma claimed as his That same nighr Finn MacCool came every now and again to see
pnze a magic Fomorii sword that awoke to find the most beaudful his mother, but she alwaysshrank
was capable of recounting all the woman he had ever seen smnding away in fear and the man left in
deeds it had performed next to his bed It was Sadb. She anger. When the stranger finally

t54
CeITIC MYTHOLOGY

OISIN returnedfrom the othewvorldaJter


his timeandJoundhimselJ an old man,
aloneand bereJt,the solesuwivor oJa
maglcalage Withhislyre he sangofthe
heroesand godsof hrsera, conjunngup the
maglcalphantomsoJ that bygoneage
(Osstlx at Fnllcots Grtino, c,lu rs, 1800 )

His famous adventure concems


NIAMH,the daughter of the seagod
A,4ANANNAN MACLTR OiSiN rnCThCT
while on a hunt by the shoresof a
lake Shesuddenly appearedriding
a horse with silver hooves and a
golden mane When Niamh toid
Oisin how she had travelleda great
distance to invite him to her
father'sotherworld realm, the l-and
of Promise,he readily mounted the
magic steed and was never seenbY
his father again ln the orherworld
kingdom he foughr against a
FOMORII giant in an underseacom-
bat worthy of his father But aftera
number of other exploits Oisin
began to miss his own land of
Ireland Niamh gavehim her magc
horse so that he could visit his
home, but told him not to dis-
mount otherwise he would never
be allowed to return lreland
struck her with a rnagic hazel appearedto Oisin almosr a strange
wand, the hind was forced to fol- land, for everyone he knew had
low him, although she tned to died long before The peoPle
comfort her son as she left seemedfar sadder and more care-
As soon as the boy finished this wom than the heroes he had grown
accounl, Finn MacCool embraced up with By chance he came uPon
him as his own son by Sadb, and a raggedgoup of men attempting
immediately named him Oisin to move a boulder, which he easily
("Little Fawn") He was trained as lifted for them while still seatedon
a Fenian warrior, which involved his mount However, his saddle
one of the most difficuh coursesof slipped and he fell to the ground
raining imaginable, and becamea In an instant the magic horse van-
shlled fighter like his father,but he ished and the valiant youngwarrior
also inhented the gentler abiliry of was tumed into a blind and frail
eloquencefrom his mother, and his old man
songs and poetry were admired A Christian addition to the end
throughout lreland of this myth includes St Patrick
Becauseeveryone rook Oisin to be
OISIN,on hisretumJromtheotherworld, mad he cried out: "lf your god has
andcold,thepeople slain Finn MacCool, then I would
JoundIrelandbleah
sadandsmall,andhimselJ awearyand say that he is a sffong man " So he
witheredoldmanAfterpassingonthe was taken to the saint, who record-
away
hequietlyslipped
maglclegends, , ed his strange tale and explained
hisendasstrangeashisbegnning the changes to Ireland since the
(lrrusrRarto| nvSTrpHrvRuo, 1910) amval of Christianity

155
HERoIC QTJESTS
HE THRILLING puRSUrrof a real or visionary goal forms the plot of many
compelling tales of advenrure.The goal is not alwaysthe most tantalizing
part of the venture and might seem like a redious or even trivial rask, but
servesto spur the travelleron his way. Other goals,such as the Grail, seem
barely attainable,bur serve as shining symbols of aspiration. The impetus is
sometlmes romantic, as when
Culhwch set our ro find fa:r Olwen;
or retributory, as when Geraint went
forth ro avenge a wrong; while
Peredur, Owain and rhe Grail l(nighrc
were inspired by o rherworldly
visions and ideals. Wharever the
goal, the quesr usually rakes on a
magic of its own, leading the hero
d o w n u n e x p e cr e d b y p a t h s o f
adventure and discovery. En route he
meets new friends and travelling
companions, learns much-needed
Iessons and carches sight of even
more tantahzrng quests ahead.

Ownrru (abne), inspired by the nle of Cynon, setofr in


searchof the Castleof the Fountain, whichwasguarded
by the Blach Knight He passedthrough thefairest vale
untilhe sawo shiningcastleon thehill After enteing
its otherworldlydomain CulhwchdeJeated
the Blach
Knight, and went on to woo his widow AJtera rather
dfficult beglnning,he a,ercameher resentment,and
guardedher realm until hisyenfor adventurelured him
olf again QLLU|TRAn1N
sy A./.uLee,1984
)

Ceueto'r QefD,ertnur' s shining city-castle,drew


hnightsfrom far and wide to join the Fellowshipof the
RoundTable,inspiredby ideak oJcourage,honourand,
vision From Camelot, the questinghnightsetJorthon
joumrys of adventureand discovery,
to seehhonour,to
dvengewrongsand to winladtes and renown The

JigureoJthe questinghnightbecame a symbolof


aspiration (luusrnerrorByAr-AN
LEE,
1984
)
Tnn Gner Qursr
(righ) prwed to be the
hardest,highestand
greatestoJ all quests
Many hnightssetJorth
butJav returned \Vhen
Arthur's wariors
resolvedto undefiahethe
Grail Quest, Arthur
wept, lamenting that the

fairest fellowshipoJnoble
hnightswould nuer meet
again around thetable
at Camelot Hewas
nght,forJnt oJhis
companywuefittedJor
the questandmarry
pmshed (TneAnvtncaNo
DEPARTURE OF THE KNIGHTS BY

E BURNE-JONE5 AND W MoRRls,

TAPESTRY,1895-96)

CutuwcH's QeJt)questJor theJair Olwen involvedthnry-


nine impossibletashs,the longestseiesof tashsrn Celttc
mytholog En route thehero enlistedthehelp oJ Arthur's
Culhwchin oneof hishardesttashs,
war-bandwho asststed
which was the retnonl oJa comb, razor and sctssorsJrom
betweenthe earsoJ theternble,enchantedboar,Twrch
TwWth (/LLLrsrMloN BYAL4N Lrc, 1984 )

PEREDuR's (above) questJor adventure led him through


many wondrouslands At onepoint he passedthrougha
lwely iver vallq,,filled with colourfulpavilionsand a
wondrous multitude oJ windmills and water-mills He
lodgedwith thehead miller andjoustedtn the tournament,
deJeatingcountlesswariors with suchshilland mrght that
he impressedthe localempress Aft'r Jightingherbattles,
he ruIed with herJor Jourteen yearsbeJorecontrnvinghis
searchfor new adventures(lnt'.sraartor Lrr-,1984
Bi-ALAN )

ffi
iiti
'ff
',. i
irri
CeITIC MyTHoLoGY

OfWfN, in welsh mythology, steal a maglc dog, leash and collar; sheer size and cornplexity of rhe
was the daughter of the gianr hire as a huntsman MABON. son of challenges, Culhwch said that
Yspaddaden and her suitor was Modron, who had first ro be "Ki.g Arthur will provide horses
CULHWCH,one of King ARTHUR's released from pnson; find a won- and men to help him win Olwen"
warriors Culhwch's stepmother derful sceed and swift hounds; sreal He also informed the gianr thar he
hated him so much rhar she cursed a comb, scissors and a razor from would retum to slay him. Culhwch
him to mary only Olwen, a girl berween the ears of a fierce boar; succeeded and married Olwen
whom rhe warrior came to love and persuade a number of unlikely "and she was his only wife as long
dearly. Yspaddaden was so upser gues6 to come to Yspaddaden's as he lived" The giant was killed by
by the obvious affecrion berween stronghold. Undaunred by the one of Culhwch's fellow knighs.
Olwen and Culhwch that he set his
daughter's lover a seriesof tasksin OLWEN QeJ),in flaming red, wanders OWAIN below)peersthroughthetangled
order to prevent the marriage through the otherworld,depictedhereas a branchesofthewtldwood,Iihe
a shy,wtld.
Among other things, Culhwch had vibrant, broodingwoodedidyll Olwenwas creatureOvercomewithshameafter
to uproot a forest, burn the wood lovedbyCulhwch,awarior of King wronginghkwtfe,heJIedintothe
for fertilizer and plough rhe cleared Arthur's court, who had to go to great wiWaness andlived
asawildman,wasting
land in one day; force AMAETHON, lengths to securehts bnde awayuntilrescuedbya nobluoman
the god of agricukure, ro nourish (lrrusrnenow
ByATAN
LEE,
1981) (IrrusrnenoN sv Au|v Lrc., 1984)
its crops; make the smith god
Govannon forge rools for the work;
bring four srrong oxen ro help;
obtain magic seed; provide honey
nine times sweeter than thar of a
virgin swarrn; get a magic cup and
a hamper of delicious mear;borrow
the drinking-hom of the under-
water king Gwyddbwyll and rhe
magc harp belonglng to Teirru (an
instrument rhar played irself);
caprure the birds of RHmNruoru,
whose song could wake rhe dead
and lull the living to sleep; provide
a magic cauldron; a boar's tusk for
the giant to shave with and shaving
cream made from a witch's blood:

OWAIN and Arthur (below) appearin a


warrior' s dream, playing grvyddbtvyll
Duing the game, Arthur's hnightsbattle
with Owain's ravens,but the players simply
play on, until Arthur smashesthe pieces
The game symbolizesabattle, possibly for
swereignty (Itrusrnqrroru
ByArr{N
Lee,lggl )
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

castle,the Black l(night, died of the PRNSTTru- SCCPERCIVAL


wound Owain had inflicted on
him. Not deterred by her grief, PAnTHOLON, son of Sera,was
Owain persuaded Luned to plead believed to have led one of the early
his causewith such successthat his invasions of Ireland Together with
widow consented to marry him. twenty-four men and their wives,
Thus he became master of the he is said to have come out of the
Castleof the Founmin, as the Black west after the waters of the Flood
I(night's stronghold was called. But had receded and cleared the island
rhe long absenceof Owain wonied of trees ready for cultivation.
Kingfuthur a great deal, so he sent According to the myth, after living
out a party ef knights to find him in Ireland for some five thousand
Owain retumed with them to King years, the race of Partholon were
Arthur's court, and he gradually sricken by disease and theY all
forgot about his wife. diedwithin thespaceof aweek.
When avery anry lady arrived
at court to accuseOwain of deceit, PgllnS was one of the names
treachery and unfaithfulness, he glven to the "Maimed King" of the
was overcome with shame A GMIL story in whose castle of
remorseful Owain fled to the forest Carbonek the holyvesselwas kePt.
and pursued the solitary life of a In other versions of the tale he is
hermit. There he would have died known asAmfortas Pelleswas said
but for a well-bom lady who used a to have been the father of Elaine,
maglc potion to restore his health. who fell in love with Sir L4NCELOT
Sir Owain took up his arms, slew a and bore him the pure knight Sir
dragon and befriended a lion. The GAIAHAD,who was the onlY one of
knight and the lion had numerous ARTHUR'sknighs granted a vision
adventures,which included saving of the Grail and allowed to hold it.
PARTHOTON (abwe) Jound a lush, a bloody struggle ensued. High Luned from death by buming and
King Cairbe refused to pay the slayrnga giant. Owain retumed to PELLES,theGrailKingguarded theGrail
pnmal countrywhatheJirstlnnded in
Fenians for their sewices and raised the Castle of the Fountain, where in Corboneh, theGrailCastleMaimedby
Irelsnd The foress and ploins wcre alive
another band of fighters to rePlace he was reconciled with his wife. an incurablewound,symbolizng some
with strange,shyandbeaunful creatures
them. In a battle fought at Gabhra, They seem to have spent the rest o[ helivedin a wilight
spiitualimperJection,
Parihobn cbared the land for cultivation
near present-day Dublin, Oscar their lives together in Kingfuthur's awaiting
state,whilehiscountrywasted,
and inhis time threenavlnlus appeared,
hlled Cairbe in single combat but court. (SCCAISOCELTICROMANCE; thecomingoJ Galahad, theredeeming
one of whtchwasnamedafterhts son
ByARTHUR
0rrusrnnnoN c 1910
RACIGIAM, ) was himself mortally wounded. SINGLECOMBAT; HEROICQUESTS) hnight (lrLusrnAnoNavAu,v Lea 1984)

According to one version of the


OSCAR, in Irish mphology, w6 myth, Finn MacCool returned
the son of olstN and the grandson briefly from the otherworld to
of rururuueccooL. His name means moum Oscar'sdeath.
"deer lover" and recalls his grand-
mother, the goddess SADB,whom OwntN, in welsh myrhology,
Finn MacCool first encountered was the son of URIENand one of
while he was hunting. Sadb had King ARTHUR'swarriors. When a
been changed into a hind by ^ fellow warrior named cYNoN was
spell, which Finn MacCool brieflY defeated by ^ mysterious Black
lifted. Oscar's mother was Eibhir, l(tught,Owain set out to find this
who was said to be "a yellow-haired stranger.He severelywounded the
maiden from a warrn country". Black t(night but did not unseat
Oscarwas a mighty fi,ghter,one him, and when the lcright galloped
of the best of all the FIANNA,or off to a nearby casde, he gavechase
Fenians, the waniors who acted as only ro find himself almost a
a bodyguard to the High King of prisoner once he entered its walls.
Ireland. But he lived during a dme Owain was saved by a lady named
when the ruler, Cailbe, felt that the Luned, who gave him a ring of
Fenians had too much power, and invisibiliry. Soon the lord of the

r59
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

PERCIVAL, the PerJectFool,attained a


glimpseof the Grail throughhis innocence
RetumingJrom Sarras,he becameGrail
King,headingtheOrder oJGrail Knights,
sometimeshnownas ParstJal,sometimes
as
Templeisen,aJterthe Knights Templar
(P,tRZivnt Bl MARilN WtX;eNo, CtNveS, 1934 )

PfnCryRL, who was also some-


times called Percevalor Parsifalin
differenr traditions, was in larer
Arthurian mythology somerhing of
an ousider He was brought up in
a forest far from the courr of
Camelot and was completely ignor-
ant of courdy manners However,
he travelledto KingARTHUR's court
and was duly made a knighr, and
then ser off in quesr of the Grail,
the holyvessel that was used ar rhe
Last Supper and which received the
blood that flowed from the spear
thrust in Christ's side at rhe rime of
the Crucifixion The Grail had been
brought ro Bntain by IOSE4HOF
ARIMATHEA, the rich man who had
allowed Christ's body to be placed
in his tomb. However. rhe Grail
was later lost and irc recovery
became the great quest for rhe
IGrightsof the Round Table
The puriry of Sir Percival may
have meanr rhat he was permirted
a brief glimpse of rhe Grail, bur he
was denied the complete vision
and heavenlyreleasethat was even-
tually granred ro Sir GAMHAD, Sir
IANCELOT'sson Only Galahadwas
allowed to touch the Grail, "Our
Lord's body between his hands",
and then to die in rhe company of
angels. The mysrerious Queen o[
the Wastelands, one of rhe three
ladies who rook rhe dpng Ki.g
Anhur roAyALoNafter he had been
wounded in rhe battle againsr entering her bed when, "by chance smoke." So annoyed and filled with PnngOUR in welsh mphology,
MODRED,was Sir Percival's aunt and grace, Sir Percival saw his remorse was Percivalby rhis moral was the seventh son of Errawgand
On his personalquesr for the Grail, unsheathed sword lyrrg on rhe lapse that he felt obhged to inflict a the only surviving male. His father
Sir Percivalunfortunately fell some- ground, and on its pommel was a punishment on the weaknessof his and brothers were hlled before his
what short of the high standard of red cross, rhe sign of rhe own flesh by wounding himself in own coming of age. This did not
conduct required for recovering the Crucifixion, which reminded him the thigh. Meanwhile, the enchant- prevent Peredur from becoming
Grail. One day on his joumey he of his knighrly dury ro behave as a ress who had artempred to waylay one of ARTHUR'swarriors and his
encountered a wondrous and good man. So he made the sign of him and diven him from his quest many advenrures formed the basis
mysterious ship and at once fell in the crosson his forehead.at which "set off with the wind roaring and for the laterstories abour pERcIVAt.
CTITIC MYTHOLOGY

PEREDU&raisedin rusticsecreqt, grav Rhiannon's rejected suitors and years eking out an existence on PEMDUR arousedthe rageof the Pnde
upstrongand agllebutdanidoJcourtly brought up by TEIRNON, a chieftain wild honey, fish and garne, they of the Cleaing whenhe suppedwith his
mannersWhenhesawthreeshining who discovered the infant in his finally decided to travel acrossthe wife The arrogant hnight assumedhis
hnights,hewasentranced Daisinga stable The chieftain's wife named border to Lloegp, present-day wrfe's guilt and punishedheruntil Peredur
saddleof twigs,
andarmedwith a the child Gwri, or "Golden Hair", England But the skill of JinaIIy challengedand werthrov him
sharpened hesetfonhJorArthur's
stahe, but when, aftersevenyears,he was Manawydan and Pryderi as crafts- Here, spladid as a peacoch,the proud one
court (IuusnarroN
BvAr,AN
Lrr,1984
) finally retumed home, Rhiannon men made them many enemies ides out to joust with Peredur
renamed him Pryderi, "Care", and they retumed to Wales ln a (lrlusrnqloru BYAIAN Lrr, 1984)

number, Peredurwas particularly becauseduring the child's absence ruined castle, Pryderi came across
adept at defeadngwitches, who in her life had been very careworn a golden bowl fastened by four PRYDERI, lord of DyJed,marchedinto
Wales took to the field like knighs She had been falsely accused of chains on a marble slab Pryden Gwyneddto awnge the theJtoJhis swineby
attired in full arrnour Indeed. his hlling her son and was made to do went to pick it up, but his hands the resourceJulmaglctan, Gwydion The
myth as it is told in rhe Mabinogon penance by sitting at the gare of stuck to the bowl and he found dispute was to be decidedby singlecombat,
ends with a terrible duel between hvyll's fortress and telling srangers that he couid not move or let it go but the matchwas unequalas Gvuydion
him and a leading witch. "For the of her crime, then offering to cary He was also struck dumb When bewitchedPryden with maglcal illusions
third time the hag slew a man of them on her back into his hall his mother tried to save him, (lrrusrnqrto,^l
nvAu^tLre,1984
)
futhur's before Peredur'seyes,and When Pwyll died, Pryderi suc- Rhiannon and Pryderi disappeared
Peredurdrew his sword and smote ceeded him as lord of Dyfed and in another mist
the witch on the cresrof her helmet gave his mother in marriage to It later emerged rhat all the
so rhat the helmet and all the MANAW)'DAN, son of the Welsh sea strange events had been causedby
arrnour were split into two And god Llyr, although in Pryden's a spell laid on rhe household by an
she raiseda shout, and orderedthe myth Manawydan appears as a enemy of Pwyll, Pryderi's father
rest of the witches to flee, and said morml warrior rather than a god At Manawydan discoveredthe trurh as
it was Peredurwho was destined to their wedding banquet therewas a he was about to hang a mouse for
slay all the witches of Caer Loyw " peal of thunder and a misr fell "No eating their corn The creature
(Seealso HEROIC QUESTS) one could seethe other, although tumed out to be the wife of Llwyd,
the great hall was filled wrth light " the old enemy of Rryll Other mice
PnYOfnI, in welsh mythologr, When the mist cleared, the land helping to devour the crops were
was the son of PWYLL,a notable was desolate People, animals and his wamors ransformed by magic
chieftain of Dyfed in south Wales, crops were gone Pryderi, his wife During their temporary disappear-
and of RHmruNoru Pryderi was Cigfa, Manawydan and Rhiannon ance, Pryderi and his mother had
snatched from his cot bv one of were the only peopie left After two been forced to work as donkeys

16r
CTITIC MyrHoLoGY

at last, becausewhen the babywas Because of this curse, Rhiannon


stolen her maids were so afraid of suffered years of barrennessand,
Rvyll that they blamed Rhiannon. after the birth of a son, she was
They laid bones next to their sleep-
unjustly accused of eating the
ing mistress and smearedher face baby. Even after the boy, whom
and hands with blood. When she named pRronru, which meanr
Rhiannon awoke in amaaement, "Care", had been restored and
the maids told hvyll how she had grown up, the spell condnued to
devoured the babyin the night. dog Rhiannon. At one stage she
Pwyll imposed a humiliating and Pryderi were changed into
penance upon her. Everydayshe donkep. Rhiannon henselfhad her
had to sit by his gate, tell her ale rc
own magical aspect, however, for
every sranger who came and offer the singing of her birds was said to
to canry them on her back to the be able to wake the dead and send
great hall. Not until the eventual the living to sleep.
retum of her son, whom she called Rhiannon is a singular figure in
PRYDERI("Care"), was Rhiannon Welsh mythology. She bore her
excused from her penance (See suffering and injustice with a
also CELIIC OTHERWORLDS; MAGIC padence that still seems remark-
AND ENCHANTMENT) able. But her real nature was in all
likelihood originally connected
RHIANNON, in welsh myrho-
logy, was the daughterof Hereydd, RIIIANNON @lovt),asf'r;t seenW
and the long-suffering wife of hvyll,wasaision inwhiteandgold,
PwYLL,a chieftan of Dyfed. AII of ridinga WrV steel,andclad,in brnadd
Rhiannon's noubles stemmed from silh Thetwoseemdmade for eachothr,
her rejection of Gwawl, the man ro buta anseclorfirltheirWeandmaninge.
whom she had been promised, and As patiartas shewasfuaunJul, Pkiannon
as a result his enraged father had endured,herlat withoutcomplaint
Iaid a spell on Pwyll's household 0uusrRrnop nY NaN ItE. 1984)

P\AryLL was achieftain of Dyfed PWYI (abne),dsguised asabeggar,lies


whose authoriry even reachedinto in waitwrth 100horsanan to tnchGwaul,
ANNwN, the Welsh otherworld. a ival suitorJor thehandoJRhiannon
Indeed. he boasted the title Pen Oncewapwered,Gwawlagredtobave
Annwn ("Lord of Beyond"). One thetwoin peace, buthisbittq anrse
day hvyll was hunringin the forest blightedthar mari4gevnthstrange
when he saw an unusual pack of mtsfoftunes o[usrncnoN B],AIANl^ee,
1984)
hounds running down a stag.
These hounds were snow-white in year, and to slay Havgan. During
colour and had red ears Pwyll the period of exchange it was
drove them off and was serting his understood that Pwyll would not
own pack on the cornered stag make love to Arawn's wife, even
when a grey-clad horseman rode though he would shareherbed
up and accusedhim of discourtesy Pwyll, having successfullyhlled
for chasingaway his hounds. Pwyll Havgan and fulfilled hls promise to
accepted the charge and promised Arawn, retumed home He then
to make amends, at which the wooed and won RHIANNON for his
stranger revealed himself to be wife, although a rival suitor never
AMwN, the ruler of Annwn fuawn forgave him and laid a curse upon
told hvyll that he was being hanied his household, both before and
by ^ rival named Havgan, who after Pwyll's death. For years no
could be slain only by a srngleblow, child was bom and, angeredat her
since a second one immediately barrenness,Pwyll treated Rhiannon
CrlrIC MvrHoLoGY

with horses When Fwyll first set


eyes on her, Rhiannon was riding
"a big fine pale whire horse, cov-
ered with a garment of shining gold
brocaded silk". Also, Rhiannon's
stolen son was found in a stable
and her punishment for Iosing him
was ro act as a beast of burden to
visitorswho came to herhusband's
palace. It is tempdng to link her
wirh the horse goddessEPoNA,one
of the few Celtic gods or goddesses
to be worshipped by the Romans.

RONAN, hrg of Leinsrer,was, in


the tangled relations of his second
RHIANNON'S singing birds were heralfu marriage, the lrish equivalent of the
of theothem,torWTharbeautifuland great Greekhero Theseus.Just like
archantingsongwassardtofu able to Theseus'secondwife Phaedra,the
walu thedudandnlullthelMnginto a king's second wife Eochaid loved
deepsbep. Celtk an andmyth are alwe Ronan's son more than her hus-
with btrds of everyhind. While some, such band. When the stepson showed
as rcNens,pre,ge doom, nuansand singlng his honor of her passion, Eochaid of the TUATHADE DANANN.At the SADB,a gentlegoddess, wa compelledby
birdshenlwtth their maglcal song. toid her husband that the young second batde of Magh Tuireadh anail drud tolivemuchoJhrhfea a
(II.IUSTMIoN ANoN ) man had attempted to rape her. Ruadan was sent to spy on'the deq. Hwaner,sheboreFinnMacCool a
Ronan ordered his son's execution Tuatha De Danann smith god from whosetfury
lwely son, forehead gril, a
RU ADH, an intrqid vqtagil, dtscwqed a and died of remorse when he later G2IBHNIUwho was busily making tuJtofdeuhairwhere shehadlbludthe
secret rslandbeneaththe wana, on which leamed the truth. Eochaid ended spears. Ruadan se2ed one of these boy,gyvingfis tn hs name,"LittleFawn"
li'uednine buunful women who slrpt on her own Iife with poison. weapons and thrust it into the god, avAnrnuR
ouusrnnnoru c 1910
&rcxnnu, )
nine bronze beils Thar qa slwne with but Goibhniu merely pulled it out
rainbow ltght, bavitchingfuafi for nine RUnOnN, in Irish mythology, again and drove it into Ruadan, SADB, in lrish mythology, was the
blissfd nighs beforehe grav ratless again was the son of the goddess BRIGID monally wounding him. When the misrress of rlruru MACC))L, the
orrusrMnoNBYNrcKBE4r41995) and of BREs,the half-noMoRll ruler goddess Bri$d came to the battle- great Ieader of the FIANNA,popu-
field to bewail herson, herweeping larly known as the Fenians, the
was said to have been the first bodyguard of the High King. She
keening in Ireland. first appeared to the hero while he
was out hunting, but although a
RUenH was a voyager whose goddess herself, Sadb had been
ship became becalmed off the placed under a powerful spell by a
nonh coast of lreland. According to wrzardand was compelled to take
lrish mythology, when he swam the form of a deer. That night, how-
away to find help for his dyrng ever. Sadb came to Finn as a
crew, he chanced upon a magical woman and for a dme they lived
underwater island. On the island happily together Then, when Finn
there lived nine beautiful women, was away from home, the wizard
and for nine wonderful nights returned and turned Sadb into a
Ruadh slept with all of them. The deer again Finn searched the
women then informed him that whole of lreland for his lost mis-
together they would bear him a tress,but the only uace he found of
son. Although Ruadh promised herwas a naked boywho had been
faithfully to retum at the end of his raised in the wild. The hero recog-
voyage, he unfortunately forgot nized him as his own son by Sadb,
about his underwater lovers, and so he called him olsltrl, meaning
they, in their fury, pursued him, "Little Fawn". Oisin grew uP to
hcking the severedhead of his son become one of the most famous of
before them like a football. all trish poets

163
CTITIC MyTHoLoGY

EaT\TTT^^T-r \ T ^^\rr a ^ T- r-
rAI' U LTJ U ) V LJ YAtrl,)

HEEptcvoyAGES of Celtic myth are fabuloustours of the otherworld,usually


through an archipelagoof wonder isles.The yen ro travelitself was often
inspired by tales of the otherworld, and the epic tnps of both Bran and
Brendan were sparkedoff by otherworldly visions. Like another intrepid
voyager,Maeldun, they sailedacrossthe oceans,exploring a myriad of dreamlikeisles,
some of timeless delights and some of deadly perils. Like time travellers,Cehic
voyagersexperienceda time walp, either retuming home long alter their time or
condemned to wander on a iourney without end. Another featureof the restless
Celtic voyager was his eventual
disenchantment with otherworldly
delights, and a yeamirg for the changirg
seasonsof his homeland.

MAELDL/NAeJt) sg1sail to avengehis BMN's (abwe) voyagewa sparhedof

father's murder and, en route, passed by a blossomingand scentedsilvu fairy


through a fabulous archipelngo ln one bough,left besde him as he slqt l-ater a
strihing eprsode,he reachedan rslnnd beauttful worwn chd, in othaworlilly robes
surmountedby a fortress with a brazen cameto rerlaim theboufit; shevngalny
door and a glnssdrawbndge which thrut about her lnely home acrossthe sen whbh
the trm,ellen bacluards - a telling signoJ inspiredBran andhslansmn to *t sail
the othemvorld,Whn thq struchthe Far out to ea, tluy reachcdhqwondrous
bronze door, a soponfc sound sent them kb of blosnmingtrea, just one of 50
to sbep until thq awohe to the welcoming sruchdelightfnhearcns vfwe rulclived
voiceof the castle'senchantress When in timclas joy ail plntyYet an tN wn,
Maeldun tned to woo her, the whob cnstle Bran's oart oavdthe clnngpngsr<olrnlns
dissolved,and the scilon found themwlves oJ thar homeland ouusrnrnor rr D,u,rur,r
$'
CeITIC MYTHOLOGY

SnNCnenL, or Grail, was the SANGREAL AeJt),aJter inspiingthe

holyvessel of Arrhurian mythology great questin Bitain, wasbornebach to

during the Middle Ages. It was said Sanasby the three goodhnights,Galnhad,

to be the cup that Christ drank out Pucival and Bors,andwas celebratedin

of at the Last Supper It was also a Euchaistic Mass bejoreoscendingto

believed ro have received the blood heaven (How rHe GMIL ABlDlrH tN A FAR

which flowed from the spear thrust Couurnv BY WTLLIAM MORRIS, ct'qss, c 1890 )

in Christ's side at the Crucifixion.


Brought to Bntain by IOSEPHOF this Christian myth. When "the
ARIMATHEA,rhe rich man who Holy Grail covered with a white
buried Christ, or by his brother-in- cloth" appeared ar Camelot, the
law Bron and his son Alan, the vesselfilled Kingfuthur's hall with
Grail was always associatedwith the most tasty smells, so that the
the early Christian settlement at I(nighs of the Round Table ate and
Glastonbury Another miraculous drank as never before. It was, in
object connected with the Grail fact, nothing lessthan a Celtic caul-
was a bleeding lance or spear. Sir dron of plenry When, at the end of
GAIAHADused its magic power to the quest, the Grail became "Our
cure a mysterious ruler, rhe Lord's body", the draught that Sir
"Maimed Ki.g", who lay between Galahadtook from it atJoseph of
life and death in his castle It Anmathea's request ensured his
seems,however, that Sir PERCIVAL spiritual suwival Like a Celtic caul-
was originally the knight who saw dron of rebirth. it allowed Sir
the Grail, and that it was only in Galahad to live on in a Chrisdan
Iaterversionsthat Galahad took his otherworld This obvious debt to
place as the only knight worthy of Celtic mythology meant that the
such a vision Church never fully embraced the
The Grail was lost, but it was Grail as a Christian symbol The
thought not to have left Britain, gre^t populariry of Grail stories
rather that it was hidden some- forced a degreeof toleration, but
where in the country becauseof the clencs were always aware of its
links with pre-Christian rites (See
SANGRML Oelow)wasguardedby also WONDROUS CAULDRONS;
womerr,
angelic theGrailMaidensHere, HEROTC
QUESTS)
thedweoJheaven bearsa goldcenser from
whicharose"a savourasiJall thespicebf ScrqrHecH (whosename means
the "shadowy") was a warrior-princess
, recalling
theworldhadbeenther'e"
spiq "greal" oJ Celtic myth Gm DAMSEL
oF in the Land of Shadowsand tutor
rur S,ruc GRA|LBYDANTERossErrl, certves,1874) in the martial arts. One myth
recounts that her most famous
sinfulnessof the times lndeed, the the young knight's soul was pupil was the Ulster hero
mere presenceof rhe holy vessel releasedfrom his body and "a great CUCHUIAINNShe taught him his
was enough to act as a challenge to multirude of angels bore it up to famous battle leap and gave him
most knights to pursue a path of heaven" That the Grail was the the spearnamed Gae-Bolg("Belly-
goodness.On its unseen arrival at representation of the body and spear"). Although it made a single
Camelot, the chivalrous Sir GAWAIN blood of Christ there can be no wound on entry, once inside the