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Mythology (69)

Ancient myths


Taurians' sacred fire from Hades

Taurians are a part of the Scythians, who murder strangers and throw them into the sacred fire, which was in the precinct, being wafted up from Hades through a certain rock.

Heracles' 11th Labor- The Apples of the Hesperides

  Poor Hercules! After eight years and one month, after performing ten superhuman labors, he was still not off the hook. Eurystheus demanded two more labors from the hero, since he did not count the hydra or the Augean stables as properly done. Eurystheus commanded Hercules to bring him golden apples which belonged to Zeus, king of the gods. Hera had given these apples to Zeus as a wedding gift, so surely this task was impossible. Hera, who didn't want to see Hercules succeed, would never permit him to steal one of her prize possessions, would she?
  These apples were kept in a garden at the northern edge of the world, and they were guarded not only by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon, but also by the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas, the titan who held the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.
  Hercules' first problem was that he didn't know where the garden was. He journeyed through Libya, Egypt, Arabia, and Asia, having adventures along the way. He was stopped by Kyknos, the son of the war god, Ares, who demanded that Hercules fight him. After the fight was broken up by a thunderbolt, Hercules continued on to Illyria, where he seized the sea-god Nereus, who knew the garden's secret location. Nereus transformed himself into all kinds of shapes,trying to escape, but Hercules held tight and didn't release Nereus until he got the information he needed.
   Continuing on his quest, Hercules was stopped by Antaeus, the son of the sea god, Poseidon, who also challenged Hercules to fight. Hercules defeated him in a wrestling match, lifting him off the ground and crushing him, because when Antaeus touched the earth he became stronger. After that, Hercules met up with Busiris, another of Poseidon's sons, was captured, and was led to an altar to be a human sacrifice. But Hercules escaped, killing Busiris, and journeyed on.
    Hercules came to the rock on Mount Caucasus where Prometheus was chained. Prometheus, a trickster who made fun of the gods and stole the secret of fire from them, was sentenced by Zeus to a horrible fate. He was bound to the mountain, and every day a monstrous eagle came and ate his liver, pecking away at Prometheus' tortured body. After the eagle flew off, Prometheus' liver grew back, and the next day he had to endure the eagle's painful visit all over again. This went on for 30 years, until Hercules showed up and killed the eagle.
   In gratitude, Prometheus told Hercules the secret to getting the apples. He would have to send Atlas after them, instead of going himself. Atlas hated holding up the sky and the earth so much that he would agree to the task of fetching the apples, in order to pass his burden over to Hercules. Everything happened as Prometheus had predicted, and Atlas went to get the apples while Hercules was stuck in Atlas's place, with the weight of the world literally on his shoulders.
   When Atlas returned with the golden apples, he told Hercules he would take them to Eurystheus himself, and asked Hercules to stay there and hold the heavy load for the rest of time. Hercules slyly agreed, but asked Atlas whether he could take it back again, just for a moment, while the hero put some soft padding on his shoulders to help him bear the weight of the sky and the earth. Atlas put the apples on the ground, and lifted the burden onto his own shoulders. And so Hercules picked up the apples and quickly ran off, carrying them back, uneventfully, to Eurystheus.
  There was one final problem: because they belonged to the gods, the apples could not remain with Eurystheus. After all the trouble Hercules went through to get them, he had to return them to Athena, who took them back to the garden at the northern edge of the world.

This text is cited July 2004 from Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains interesting hyperlinks

  When the labours had been performed in eight years and a month,(1) Eurystheus ordered Hercules, as an eleventh labour, to fetch golden apples from the Hesperides, for he did not acknowledge the labour of the cattle of Augeas nor that of the hydra. These apples were not, as some have said, in Libya, but on Atlas among the Hyperboreans.(2) They were presented < by Earth> to Zeus after his marriage with Hera, and guarded by an immortal dragon with a hundred heads, offspring of Typhon and Echidna, which spoke with many and divers sorts of voices. With it the Hesperides also were on guard, to wit, Aegle, Erythia, Hesperia, and Arethusa. So journeying he came to the river Echedorus. And Cycnus, son of Ares and Pyrene, challenged him to single combat. Ares championed the cause of Cycnus and marshalled the combat, but a thunderbolt was hurled between the two and parted the combatants.(3) And going on foot through Illyria and hastening to the river Eridanus he came to the nymphs, the daughters of Zeus and Themis. They revealed Nereus to him, and Hercules seized him while he slept, and though the god turned himself into all kinds of shapes, the hero bound him and did not release him till he had learned from him where were the apples and the Hesperides.(4) Being informed, he traversed Libya. That country was then ruled by Antaeus, son of Poseidon,(5) who used to kill strangers by forcing them to wrestle. Being forced to wrestle with him, Hercules hugged him, lifted him aloft, broke and killed him; for when he touched earth so it was that he waxed stronger, wherefore some said that he was a son of Earth. After Libya he traversed Egypt. That country was then ruled by Busiris,(6) a son of Poseidon by Lysianassa, daughter of Epaphus. This Busiris used to sacrifice strangers on an altar of Zeus in accordance with a certain oracle. For Egypt was visited with dearth for nine years, and Phrasius, a learned seer who had come from Cyprus, said that the dearth would cease if they slaughtered a stranger man in honor of Zeus every year. Busiris began by slaughtering the seer himself and continued to slaughter the strangers who landed. So Hercules also was seized and haled to the altars, but he burst his bonds and slew both Busiris and his son Amphidamas. And traversing Asia he put in to Thermydrae, the harbor of the Lindians. And having loosed one of the bullocks from the cart of a cowherd, he sacrificed it and feasted. But the cowherd, unable to protect himself, stood on a certain mountain and cursed. Wherefore to this day, when they sacrifice to Hercules, they do it with curses. And passing by Arabia he slew Emathion, son of Tithonus,(7) and journeying through Libya to the outer sea he received the goblet from the Sun. And having crossed to the opposite mainland he shot on the Caucasus the eagle, offspring of Echidna and Typhon, that was devouring the liver of Prometheus, and he released Prometheus, after choosing for himself the bond of olive,(8) and to Zeus he presented Chiron, who, though immortal, consented to die in his stead. Now Prometheus had told Hercules not to go himself after the apples but to send Atlas, first relieving him of the burden of the sphere; so when he was come to Atlas in the land of the Hyperboreans, he took the advice and relieved Atlas. But when Atlas had received three apples from the Hesperides, he came to Hercules, and not wishing to support the sphere < he said that he would himself carry the apples to Eurystheus, and bade Hercules hold up the sky in his stead. Hercules promised to do so, but succeeded by craft in putting it on Atlas instead. For at the advice of Prometheus he begged Atlas to hold up the sky till he should> (9) put a pad on his head. When Atlas heard that, he laid the apples down on the ground and took the sphere from Hercules. And so Hercules picked up the apples and departed. But some say that he did not get them from Atlas, but that he plucked the apples himself after killing the guardian snake. And having brought the apples he gave them to Eurystheus. But he, on receiving them, bestowed them on Hercules, from whom Athena got them and conveyed them back again; for it was not lawful that they should be laid down anywhere.
1. This period for the completion of the labours of Herakles is mentioned also by the Scholiast on Hom. Il. viii.368 and Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.353ff., both of whom, however, may have had the present passage of Apollodorus before them. It is possible that the period refers to the eight years' cycle, which figured prominently in the religious calendar of the ancient Greeks; for example, the Pythian games were originally held at intervals of eight years. See Geminus, Element. Astron. viii.25ff., ed. C. Manitius; Censorinus, De die natali 18. It is to be remembered that the period of service performed by Herakles for Eurystheus was an expiation for the murder of his children (see Apollod. 2.4.12). Now Cadmus is said to have served Ares for eight years as an expiation for the slaughter of the dragon, the offspring of Ares (see Apollod. 3.4.2). But in those days, we are told, the "eternal year" comprised eight common years (Apollod. 3.4.2). Now Apollo served Admetus for a year as an expiation for the slaughter of the Cyclopes (Apollod. 3.10.4); but according to Serv. Verg. A. 7.761, the period of Apollo's service was not one but nine years. In making this statement Servius, or his authority, probably had before him a Greek author, who mentioned an enneateris as the period of Apollo's service. But though enneateris means literally "nine years," the period, in consequence of the Greek mode of reckoning, was actually equivalent to eight years (compare Celsus, De die natali 18.4, "Octaeteris facta, quae tunc enneateris vocitata, quia primus eius annus nono quoque anno redibat.") These legends about the servitude of Cadmus, Apollo, and Herakles for eight years, render it probable that in ancient times Greek homicides were banished for eight years, and had during that time to do penance by serving a foreigner. Now this period of eight years was called a "great year" (Censorinus, De die natali 18.5), and the period of banishment for a homicide was regularly a year. See Apollod. 2.8.3; Eur. Hipp.34-37, Eur. Or. 1643-1645; Nicolaus Damascenus, Frag 20 (Fragmenta Historicorum Graccorum, ed. C. Muller, iii.369); Hesychius, s.v. apeniautismos; Suidas, s.v. apenautisai. Hence it seems probable that, though in later times the period of a homicide's banishment was a single ordinary year, it may formerly have been a "great year," or period of eight ordinary years. It deserves to be noted that any god who had forsworn himself by the Styx had to expiate his fault by silence and fasting for a full year, after which he was banished the company of the gods for nine years (Hes. Th. 793-804ff.); and further that any man who partook of human flesh in the rites of Lycaean Zeus was supposed to be turned into a wolf for nine years. See Paus. 8.2; Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii.81; Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.17. These notions point to a nine years' period of expiation, which may have been observed in some places instead of the eight years' period. In the present passage of Apollodorus, the addition of a month to the eight years' period creates a difficulty which I am unable to explain. Ancient mathematicians defined a "great year" as the period at the end of which the sun, moon, and planets again occupy the same positions relatively to each other which they occupied at the beginning; but on the length of the period opinions were much divided. See Cicero, De natura deorum ii.20.51ff. Different, apparently, from the "great year" was the "revolving" (vertens) or "mundane" (mundanus) year, which was the period at the end of which, not only the sun, moon, and planets, but also the so-called fixed stars again occupy the positions relatively to each other which they occupied at the beginning; for the ancients recognized that the so-called fixed stars do move, though their motion is imperceptible to our senses. The length of a "revolving" or "mundane" year was calculated by ancient physicists at fifteen thousand years. See Cicero, Somnium Scipionis 7, with the commentary of Macrobius, ii.11.
2. Here Apollodorus departs from the usual version, which placed the gardens of the Hesperides in the far west, not the far north. We have seen that Herakles is said to have gone to the far north to fetch the hind with the golden horns (see above, Apollod. 2.5.3 note); also he is reported to have brought from the land of the Hyperboreans the olive spray which was to form the victor's crown at the Olympic games. See Pind. O. 3.11(20)ff.; Paus. 5.7.7, compare Paus. 5.15.3.
3. Compare Hyginus, Fab. 31, who describes the intervention of Mars (Ares) on the side of his son Cycnus, and the fall of the thunderbolt which parted the combatants; yet he says that Herakles killed Cycnus. This combat, which, according to Apollodorus, ended indecisively, was supposed to have been fought in Macedonia, for the Echedorus was a Macedonian river (Hdt. 7.124, Hdt. 7.127). Accordingly we must distinguish this contest from another and more famous fight which Herakles fought with another son of Ares, also called Cycnus, near Pagasae in Thessaly. See Apollod. 2.7.7, with the note. Apparently Hyginus confused the two combats.
4. The meeting of Herakles with the nymphs, and his struggle with Nereus, are related also by the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396, citing as his authority Pherecydes, whom Apollodorus also probably follows. The transformations of the reluctant sea-god Nereus in his encounter with Herakles are like those of the reluctant sea-god Proteus in his encounter with Menelaus (Hom. Od. 4.354- 570), and those of the reluctant sea-goddess Thetis with her lover Peleus (see below, Apollod. 3.13.5).
5. As to Herakles and Antaeus, see Pind. I. 4.52(87)ff., with the Scholiast on Pind. I. 4.52(87) and 54(92); Diod. 4.17.4; Paus. 9.11.6; Philostratus, Im. ii.21; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica vi.285ff.; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.363ff.; Scholiast on Plat. Laws, vii, 796a (whose account agrees almost verbally with that of Apollodorus); Ovid, Ibis 393-395, with the Scholia; Hyginus, Fab. 31; Lucan, Pharsal. iv.588-655; Juvenal iii.89; Statius, Theb. vi.893ff.; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. vi.869(894); Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 19, 131 (First Vatican Mythographer 55; Second Vatican Mythographer 164). According to Pindar, the truculent giant used to roof the temple of his sire Poseidon with the skulls of his victims. The fable of his regaining strength through contact with his mother Earth is dwelt on by Lucan with his usual tedious prolixity. It is briefly alluded to by Ovid, Juvenal, and Statius. Antaeus is said to have reigned in western Morocco, on the Atlantic coast. Here a hillock was pointed out as his tomb, and the natives believed that the removal of soil from the hillock would be immediately followed by rain, which would not cease till the earth was replaced. See Mela iii.106. Sertorius is said to have excavated the supposed tomb and to have found a skeleton sixty cubits long. See Plut. Sertorius 9; Strab. 17.3.8.
6. For Herakles and Busiris, see Diod. 4.18.1, Diod. 4.27.2ff.; Plut. Parallela 38; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron ii.367ff.; Ov. Met. 9.182ff.; Ovid, Ars Am. i.647-652; Scholiast on Ovid, Ibis 397 (p. 72, ed. R. Ellis); Hyginus, Fab. 31, 56; Serv. Verg. A. 8.300 and Georg. iii.5; Philargyrius on Verg. G. 3.5; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. xii.155. Ovid, with his Scholiasts, Hyginus and Philargyrius, like Apollodorus, allege a nine or eight years' dearth or drought as the cause of the human sacrifices instituted by Busiris. Their account may be derived from Pherecydes, who is the authority cited by the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396. Hyginus, Fab. 56 adds that the seer Phrasius, who advised the sacrifice, was a brother of Pygmalion. Herodotus, without mentioning Busiris, scouts the story on the ground that human sacrifices were utterly alien to the spirit of Egyptian religion (Hdt. 2.45). Isocrates also discredited the tradition, in so far as it relates to Herakles, because Herakles was four generations younger, and Busiris more than two hundred years older, than Perseus. See Isoc. 11.15. Yet there are grounds for thinking that the Greek tradition was substantially correct. For Manetho, our highest ancient authority, definitely affirmed that in the city of Ilithyia it was customary to burn alive "Typhonian men" and to scatter their ashes by means of winnowing fans (Plut. Isis et Osiris 73). These "Typhonian men" were red-haired, because Typhon, the Egyptian embodiment of evil, was also redhaired (Plut. Isis et Osiris 30, 33). But redhaired men would commonly be foreigners, in contrast to the black-haired natives of Egypt; and it was just foreigners who, according to Greek tradition, were chosen as victims. Diodorus Siculus points this out (Diod. 1.88.5) in confirmation of the Greek tradition, and he tells us that the redhaired men were sacrificed at the grave of Osiris, though this statement may be an inference from his etymology of the name Busiris, which he explains to mean "grave of Osiris." The etymology is correct, Busiris being a Greek rendering of the Egyptian Asir "place of Osiris." See A. Wiedemann, Herodots Zweites Buch (Leipsic, 1890). Porphyry informs us, on the authority of Manetho, that the Egyptian custom of sacrificing human beings at the City of the Sun was suppressed by Amosis (Amasis), who ordered waxen effigies to be substituted for the victims. He adds that the human victims used to be examined just like calves for the sacrifice, and that they were sealed in token of their fitness for the altar. See Porphyry, De abstinentia iii.35. Sextus Empiricus even speaks of human sacrifices in Egypt as if they were practised down to his own time, which was about 200 A.D. See Sextus Empiricus, p. 173, ed. Bekker. Seleucus wrote a special treatise on human sacrifices in Egypt (Athenaeus iv.72, p. 172 D). In view of these facts, the Greek tradition that the sacrifices were offered in order to restore the fertility of the land or to procure rain after a long drought, and that on one occasion the king himself was the victim, may be not without significance. For kings or chiefs have been often sacrificed under similar circumstances (see Apollod. 3.5.1; Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed. ii.97ff.; The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, i.344ff., 352ff.); and in ancient Egypt the rulers are definitely said to have been held responsible for the failure of the crops (Ammianus Marcellinus xxviii.5.14); hence it would not be surprising if in extreme cases they were put to death. Busiris was the theme of a Satyric play by Euripides. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 452ff.
7. According to Diod. 4.27.3, after Herakles had slain Busiris, he ascended the Nile to Ethiopia and there slew Emathion, king of Ethiopia.
8. The reference seems to be to the crown of olive which Herakles brought from the land of the Hyperboreans and instituted as the badge of victory in the Olympic games. See Pind. O. 3.11(20)ff.; Paus. 5.7.7. The ancients had a curious notion that the custom of wearing crowns or garlands on the head and rings on the fingers was a memorial of the shackles once worn for their sake by their great benefactor Prometheus among the rocks and snows of the Caucasus. In order that the will of Zeus, who had sworn never to release Prometheus, might not be frustrated by the entire liberation of his prisoner from his chains, Prometheus on obtaining his freedom was ordered to wear on his finger a ring made out of his iron fetters and of the rock to which he had been chained; hence, in memory of their saviour's sufferings, men have worn rings ever since. The practice of wearing crowns or garlands was explained by some people in the same way. See Hyginus, Ast. ii.15; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 6.42; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvii.2; Isidore, Orig. xix.32.1. According to one version of the legend, the crown which the sufferer on regaining his liberty was doomed to wear was a crown of willow; and the Carians, who used to crown their brows with branches of willow, explained that they did so in imitation of Prometheus. See Athenaeus xv.11-13. In the present passage of Apollodorus, if the text is correct, Herakles, as the deliverer of Prometheus, is obliged to bind himself vicariously for the prisoner whom he has released; and he chooses to do so with his favourite olive. Similarly he has to find a substitute to die instead of Prometheus, and he discovers the substitute in Chiron. As to the substitution of Chiron for Prometheus, see Apollod. 2.5.4. It is remarkable that, though Prometheus was supposed to have attained to immortality and to be the great benefactor, and even the creator, of mankind, he appears not to have been worshipped by the Greeks; Lucian says that nowhere were temples of Prometheus to be seen (Lucian, Prometheus 14).
9. The passage in angular brackets is wanting in the manuscripts of Apollodorus, but is restored from the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396, who quotes as his authority Pherecydes, the writer here seemingly followed by Apollodorus. See the Critical Note. The story of the contest of wits between Herakles and Atlas is represented in one of the extant metopes of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, which were seen and described by Paus. 5.10.9. See Frazer, note on Pausanias (vol. iii. pp. 524ff.).

This extract is from: Apollodorus, Library and Epitome (ed. Sir James George Frazer, 1921). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

Heracles. 11. The golden apples of the Hesperides. This was particularly difficult, since Heracles did not know where to find them. They were the apples which Hera had received at her wedding from Ge, and which she had entrusted to the keeping of the Hesperides and the dragon Ladon, on Mount Atlas, in the country of the Hyperboreans. (Apollod. ii. 5.11.) In other accounts the apples are described as sacred to Aphrodite, Dionysus, or Helios; but the abode of the Hesperides is placed by Hesiod, Apollodorus, and others, in the west, while later writers specify more particularly certain places in Libya, or in the Atlantic Ocean. The mention of the Hyperboreans in this connection renders the matter very difficult, but it is possible that the ancients may have conceived the extreme north (the usual seat of the Hyperboreans), and the extreme west to be contiguous. Heracles, in order to find the gardens of the Hesperides, went to the river Echedorus. in Macedonia, after having killed Termerus in Thessaly. In Macedonia he killed Cycnus, the son of Ares and Pyrene, who had challenged him. He thence passed through Illyria, and arrived on the banks of the river Eridanus, and was informed, by the nymphs in what manner he might compel the prophetic Nereus to instruct him as to what road he should take. On the advice of Nereus he proceeded to Libya. Apollodorus assigns the fight with Antaeus, and the murder of Busiris, to this expedition; both Apollodorus and Diodorus now make IIeracles travel further south and east: thus we find him in Ethiopia, where he kills Emathion, in Arabia, and in Asia he advances as far as Mount Caucasus, where he killed the vulture which consumed the liver of Prometheus, and thus saved the Titan. At length Heracles arrived at Mount Atlas, among the Hyperboreans. Prometheus had advised him not to fetch the apples himself, but to send Atlas, and in the meantime to carry the weight of heaven for him. Atlas accordingly fetched the apples, but on his return he refused to take the burden of heaven on his shoulders again, and declared that he himself would carry the apples to Eurystheus. Heracles, however, contrived by a stratagem to get the apples and hastened away. On his return Eurystheus made him a present of the apples, but Heracles dedicated them to Athena, who, however, did not keep them, but restored them to their former place. Some traditions add to this account that Heracles killed the dragon Ladon. (Apollod. ii. 5.11; Diod. iv. 26, &c.; Hes. Theog. 215, &c.; Plin. H. N. vi. 31, 36; Plut. Thes. 11; Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1396, &c.; Hygin. Fab. 31, Poet. Astr. ii. 6; Eratosth. Catast. 3.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Eponymous founders or settlers

ERGISKI (Ancient city) THRAKI


Son of Poseidon and the Nymph Aba (Steph. Byz.)

Gods & demigods


Charon the ferryman

Hundred Handers

Perseus Project index


Eurynomus, said by the delphian guides to be one of the demons in Hades, who eats off all the flesh of the corpses, leaving only their bones.


   also called Erinyes (Erinues), and by the Romans Furiae or Dirae. Originally a personification of curses pronounced upon a guilty criminal. The name Erinys, which is the more ancient one, was derived by the Greeks from the verb erino or ereunao, "I hunt down," or "persecute," or from the Arcadian word erinuo, "I am angry"; so that the Erinyes were either the angry goddesses, or the goddesses who hunt or search for the criminal. The name Eumenides, which signifies "the well-meaning," or "soothed goddesses," is a mere euphemism, because people dreaded to call these fearful goddesses by their real name; and it was said to have been first given them after the acquittal of Orestes by the court of the Areopagus, when the anger of the Erinyes had become soothed. It was by a similar euphemism that at Athens the Erinyes were called semnai theai, or the Revered Goddesses.
    In the sense of "curse" or "curses," the word Erinys or Erinyes is often used in the Homeric poems, and Aeschylus calls the Eumenides Arai, that is, curses. According to the Homeric notion, the Erinyes, whom the poet conceives as distinct beings, are reckoned among those who inhabit Erebus, where they rest until some curse pronounced upon a criminal calls them to life and activity. The crimes which they punish are disobedience towards parents, violation of the respect due to old age, perjury, murder, violation of the laws of hospitality, and improper conduct towards suppliants. The notion which is the foundation of the belief in the Eumenides seems to be that a parent's curse takes from him upon whom it is pronounced all peace of mind, destroys the happiness of his family, and prevents his being blessed with children. As the Eumenides not only punished crimes after death, but during life on earth, they were regarded also as goddesses of fate, who, together with Zeus and the Moerae or Parcae, led such men as were doomed to suffer into misery and misfortunes. In the same capacity they also prevented man from obtaining too much knowledge of the future. Homer does not mention any particular names for the Erinyes, nor does he seem to know of any definite number. Hesiod, who is likewise silent upon these points, calls the Erinyes the daughters of Gaea, who conceived them in the drops of blood that fell upon her from the body of Uranus. Epimenides called them the daughters of Cronos and Euonyme, and sisters of the Moerae; Aeschylus calls them the daughters of Night; and Sophocles, of Scotos (Darkness) and Gaea. In the Greek tragedians, with whom (e. g. in the Eumenides of Aeschylus) the number of these goddesses is not limited to a few, no particular name of any one Erinys is yet mentioned, but they appear in the same capacity, and as the avengers of the same crimes, as before. They are sometimes identified with the Poenae, though their sphere of action is wider than that of the Poenae. From their hunting down and persecuting the accursed criminal, Aeschylus calls them kunes or kunegetides. No prayer, no sacrifice, and no tears can move them, or pro [p. 633] tect the object of their persecution; and when they fear lest the criminal should escape them, they call in the assistance of Dike, with whom they are closely connected, the maintenance of strict justice being their only object. The Erinyes were more ancient divinities than the Olympian gods, and were therefore not under the rule of Zeus, though they honoured and esteemed him; and they dwelt in the deep darkness of Tartarus, dreaded by gods and men. Their appearance is described by Aeschylus as Gorgo-like, their bodies covered with black, serpents twined in their hair, and blood dripping from their eyes; Euripides and other later poets describe them as winged beings. The appearance they have in Aeschylus was more or less retained by the poets of later times; but they gradually assumed the character of goddesses who punished crimes after death, and seldom appeared on earth. On the stage, however, and in works of art, their fearful appearance was greatly softened down, for they were represented as maidens of a grave and solemn mien, in the richly adorned attire of huntresses, with a band of serpents around their heads, and serpents or torches in their hands. With later writers, though not always, the number of Eumenides is limited to three, and their names are Tisiphone, Alecto, and Megaera. At Athens there were statues of only two. The sacrifices which were offered to them consisted of black sheep and nephalia--i. e. a drink of honey mixed with water. Among the objects sacred to them we hear of white turtledoves and the narcissus. They were worshipped at Athens, where they had a sanctuary and a grotto near the Areopagus; their statues, however, had nothing formidable, and a festival, Eumenidia, was there celebrated in their honour. Another sanctuary, with a grove which no one was allowed to enter, existed at Colonus. Under the name of Maniai, they were worshipped at Megalopolis.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Hesperides, the famens guardians of the golden apples which Ge had given to Hera at her marriage with Zeus. Their names are Aegle, Erytheia, Hestia, and Arethusa, but their descent is not the same in the different traditions ; sometimes they are called the daughters of Night or Erebus (Hes. Theog. 215; Hygin. Fab. init.), sometimes of Phorcys and Ceto (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1399), sometimes of Atlas and Hesperis, whence their names Atlantides or Hesperides (Diod. iv. 27), and sometimes of Hesperus, or of Zeus and Themis. (Serv. ad Aen. iv. 484; Schol. ad Eurip. Hipp. 742.) Instead of the four Hesperides mentioned above, some traditions know only of three, viz. Hespere, Erytheis, and Aegle, or Aegle, Arethusa, and Hesperusa or Hesperia (Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1427; Serv. l. c.; Stat. Theb. ii. 281); whereas others mention seven. (Diod. l. c.; Hygin. Fab. init.) The poets describe themas possessed of the power of sweet song. (Hes. Theog. 518; Orph. Fragm. 17; Eurip. Herc. Fur. 394; Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1399.) In the earliest legends, these nymphs are described as living on the river Oceanus, in the extreme west (Hes. Theog. 334, &c., 518; Eurip. Hipp. 742); but the later attempts to fix their abodes, and the geographical position of their gardens, have led poets and geographers to different parts of Libya, as in the neighbourhood of Cyrene, Mount Atlas, or the islands on the western coast of Libya (Plin. H. N. vi. 31, 36; Virg. Aen. iv. 480; Pomp. Mela, iii. 10), or even to the northern extremity of the earth, beyond the wind Boreas, among the Hyperboreans. In their watch over the golden apples they were assisted or superintended by the dragon Ladon.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Gods & heroes related to the location



Wife of Orion, rivals Hera in beauty and is cast by her into Hades.


Son of Acheron and Gorgyra, because bore witness against her, Demeter laid a heavy rock on him in Hades.

Sisyphus in Hades

Sisyphus is punished in Hades by rolling a stone with his hands and head in the effort to heave it over the top; but push it as he will, it rebounds backward. This punishment he endures for the sake of Aegina, daughter of Asopus; for when Zeus had secretly carried her off, Sisyphus is said to have betrayed the secret to Asopus, who was looking for her.

Theseus & Pirithous

Having made a compact with Pirithous that they would marry daughters of Zeus, Theseus, with the help of Pirithous, carried off Helen from Sparta for himself, when she was twelve years old, and in the endeavor to win Persephone as a bride for Pirithous he went down to Hades.

Dionysos & Semele (Thyone)

Having (Dionysos) brought up his mother (Semele) from Hades and named her Thyone, he ascended up with her to heaven.


Tantalus is punished in Hades by having a stone impending over him, by being perpetually in a lake and seeing at his shoulders on either side trees with fruit growing beside the lake. (Perseus Project)

Protesilaus & Laodamia

Of the Greeks the first to land from his ship was Protesilaus, and having slain not a few of the barbarians, he fell by the hand of Hector. His wife Laodamia loved him even after his death, and she made an image of him and consorted with it. The gods had pity on her, and Hermes brought up Protesilaus from Hades. On seeing him, Laodamia thought it was himself returned from Troy, and she was glad; but when he was carried back to Hades, she stabbed herself to death.

Odysseus' journey to Hades

Odysseus/Ulysses & Hades: Perseus Project index


Thamyris paid the penalty in Hades for his boast against the Muses


Amphion is punished in Hades for being among those who made a mock of Leto and her children. For more information about Amphion, see Ancient Thebes, Homeric world, Kings


Homer in the Odyssey represents Teiresias as the only one in Hades endowed with intelligence.


Near Pylus, towards the east, is a mountain named after Minthe, who, according to myth, became the concubine of Hades, was trampled under foot by Core, and was transformed into garden mint, the plant which some call Hedyosmos.


This lake was feigned by the poet for the gates of hell, by which AEneas made his descent, and where he sacrificed to Pluto and the Manes.


Plouton. In Greek mythology, the king of the underworld, identical with Hades.

Pluto: Perseus Encyclopedia



Son of Ceuthonymus, herdsman of Hades, reports to Geryon the theft of the cattle by Herakles, wrestles with Herakles in Hades. (Perseus Encyclopedia)

Historic figures


Haemus, (Haemos). A son of Boreas and Oreithyia, was married to Rhodope, by whom he became the father of Hebrus. As he and his wife presumed to assume the names of Zeus and Hera, both were metamorphosed into mountains. (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. i. 321; Ov. Met. vi. 87; Steph. Byz. s. vv.)



Asia, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, who became by Japetus the mother of Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. (Hesiod. Theog. 359; Apollod. i. 2.2, &c.) According to some traditions the continent of Asia derived its name from her. (Herod. iv. 45) There are two other mythical personages of this name. (Hygin. Fab. Praef.; Tzetzes, ad Lycoph. 1277)



Father of Phineus

Mythical monsters



A dragon sprung from Typhon and Echidna (or from Phorcys and Ceto). He guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, but was slain by Heracles.

Ladon : Various WebPages


ERGISKI (Ancient city) THRAKI


Mother by Poseidon of Ergiscus, founder of the city (Steph. Byz.)




Erebos, a son of Chaos, begot Aether and Heinera by Nyx, his sister. (Hesiod. Theog. 123.) Hyginus (Fab.) and Cicero (de Nat. Deor. iii. 17) enumerate many personifications of abstract notions as the offspring of Erebos. The name signifies darkness, and is therefore applied also to the dark and gloomy space under the earth, through which the shades pass into Hades. (Hom. Il. viii.)


Lethe, the personification of oblivion, is called by Hesiod (Theog. 227) a daughter of Eris. A river in the lower world likewise bore the name of Lethe.

Boreas or Boras

Boreas or Boras, the North wind, was, according to Hesiod (Theog. 379), a son of Astraeus and Eos, and brother of Hesperus, Zephyrus, and Notus. He dwelt in a cave of mount Haemus in Thrace (Callim. hymn. in Del. 63). He is mixed up with the early legends of Attica in the story of his having carried off Oreithyia, the daughter of Erechtheus, by whom he begot Zetes, Calais, and Cleopatra, the wife of Phineus, who are therefore called Boreades (Ov. Met. vi. 683, &c.; Apollon. Rhod. i. 211; Apollod. iii. 15.2; Paus. i. 19.6). In the Persian war, Boreas shewed his friendly disposition towards the Athenians by destroying the ships of the barbarians (Herod. vii. 189). He also assisted the Megalopolitans against the Spartans, for which he was honoured at Megalopolis with annual festivals (Paus. viii. 36.3) According to an Homeric tradition (Il. xx. 223), Boreas begot twelve horses by the mares of Erichthonius, which is commonly explained as a mere figurative mode of expressing the extraordinary swiftness of those horses. On the chest of Cypselus he was represented in the act of carrying off Oreithyia, and here the place of his legs was occupied by tails of serpents (Paus. v. 19.1). Respecting the festivals of Boreas, celebrated at Athens and other places, see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Boreasmoi.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Hesperius (evening)

   Hesperus, (Hesperos). The evening star, son of Astraeus and Eos (Aurora), of Cephalus and Eos, or of Atlas. He was also regarded as the same as the morning star.
   Lucifer or Phosphorus (Phosphoros, "the bringer of light"). The name of the planet Venus, when seen in the morning before sunrise. The same planet was called Hesperus, Vesperugo, Vesper, Noctifer, or Nocturnus, when it appeared in the heavens after sunset. Lucifer as a personification is called a son of Astraeus and Aurora or Eos, of Cephalus and Eos, or of Atlas By Philonis he is said to have been the father of Ceyx. He is also called the father of Daedalion and of the Hesperides. Lucifer is also a surname of several goddesses of light, as Artemis, Aurora, and Hecate.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Remarkable selections


Aeacus, porter in Hades

Aeacus was the most pious of men. Therefore, when Greece suffered from infertility on account of Pelops, because in a war with Stymphalus, king of the Arcadians, being unable to conquer Arcadia, he slew the king under a pretence of friendship, and scattered his mangled limbs, oracles of the gods declared that Greece would be rid of its present calamities if Aeacus would offer prayers on its behalf. So Aeacus did offer prayers, and Greece was delivered from the dearth.12 Even after his death Aeacus is honored in the abode of Pluto, and keeps the keys of Hades.

Cerberus, Hound of hell

Perseus Encyclopedia


  A dog with three heads and a dragon's tail who guarded the entrance to the underworld, Hades. He kindly let anyone pass but let no one leave with the exceptions of Orpheus and Hercules, who managed to bring the beast to the daylight.

This text is cited Sept 2003 from the In2Greece URL below.



   Son of Agenor, and king of Salmydessus in Thrace. He was first married to Cleopatra , the daughter of Boreas and Orithyia, by whom he had two children, Oryithus (Oarthus) and Crambis; but their names are different in the different legends: Ovid calls them Polydectus and Polydorus. Afterwards he was married to Idaea (some call her Dia, Eurytia, or Idothea), by whom he again had two sons, Thynus and Mariandynus.    Phineus was a blind soothsayer, who had received his prophetic powers from Apollo; but the cause of his blindness is not the same in all accounts. He is most celebrated on account of his being tormented by the Harpies, who were sent by the gods to punish him on account of his cruelty towards his sons by the first marriage. His second wife falsely accused them of having made an attempt upon her virtue, whereupon Phineus put out their eyes, or, according to others, exposed them to be devoured by wild beasts, or ordered them to be half buried in the earth, and then to be scourged. Therefore the gods struck him with blindness and sent the Harpies to torment him. Whenever a meal was placed before Phineus, the Harpies darted down from the air and carried it off; later writers add that they either devoured the food themselves or rendered it unfit to be eaten. When the Argonauts visited Thrace, Phineus promised to instruct them respecting their voyage, if they would deliver him from the monsters. This was done by Zetes and Calais, the sons of Boreas, and brothers of Cleopatra. Phineus now explained to the Argonauts the further course they had to take, and especially cautioned them against the Symplegades. According to another story the Argonauts, on their arrival at Thrace, found the sons of Phineus half buried, and demanded their liberation, which Phineus refused. A battle thereupon ensued, in which Phineus was slain by Heracles. The latter also delivered Cleopatra from her confinement, and restored the kingdom to the sons of Phineus; and on their advice he also sent the second wife of Phineus back to her father, who ordered her to be put to death. Some traditions, lastly, state that Phineus was killed by Boreas, or that he was carried off by the Harpies into the country of the Bistones or Milchessians. Those accounts in which Phineus is stated to have put out the eyes of his sons add that they had their sight restored to them by the sons of Boreas, or by Asclepius.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Phineus : Various WebPages



Orthus the hound of Geryones

Orthros was the son of Typhon and Echidna and thus the brother of Cerberus, the three headed hound who guarded Hades


Nycteus is one of the four horses of Pluto


Perseus Encyclopedia

Helmet of Pluto

Perseus Encyclopedia


  The ferryman who would take the dead across the river Styx to the entrance of the underworld, Hades. To make sure he would take them, the living used to put a coin in the dead's mouth to pay him. Otherwise the spirit had to wait by the river for 100 years on the beach called Acheron. For this reason, the ancient Greeks also viewed the funeral as a holy and utmost important ritual.

This text is cited Sept 2003 from the In2Greece URL below.

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Ferry Departures

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