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Mythology (7)

Gods & demigods

Britomartis, Dictynna

The Cretans say (the story of Aphaea is Cretan ) that Carmanor, who purified Apollo alter he had killed Pytho, was the father of Lubulus, and that the daughter of Zeus and of Carme, the daughter of Eubulus, was Britomartis. She took delight, they say, in running and in the chase, and was very dear to Artemis. Fleeing from Minos, who had fallen in love with her, she threw herself into nets which had been cast (aphemena ) for a draught of fishes. She was made a goddess by Artemis, and she is worshipped, not only by the Cretans, but also by the Aeginetans, who say that Britomartis shows herself in their island. Her surname among the Aeginetans is Aphaea; in Crete it is Dictynna (Goddess of Nets ).

This extract is from: Pausanias. Description of Greece (ed. W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., & H.A. Ormerod, 1918). Cited Nov 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

Britomartis, appears to have originally been a Cretan divinity of hunters and fishermen. Her name is usually derived from britus, sweet or blessing, and martis, i. e. marna, a maiden, so that the name would mean, the sweet or blessing maiden. (Paus. iii. 14.2; Solin. 11.) After the introduction of the worship of Artemis into Crete, Britomartis, between whom and Artemis there were several points of resemblance, was placed in some relation to her: Artemis, who loved her, assumed her name and was worshipped under it, and in the end the two divinities became completely identified, as we see from the story which lakes Britomartis a daughter of Leto. (Callim. Hymn. in Dian. 189, with the Schol.; Paus. ii. 30.3; Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 1402; Eurip. Iphig. Taur. 126; Aristoph. Ran. 1358; Virg. Cir. 305.) The myths of Britomartis is given by some of the authorities just referred to. She was a daughter of Zeus and Carme, the daughter of Eubulus. She was a nymph, took great delight in wandering about hunting, and was beloved by Artemis. Minos, who likewise loved her, pursued her for nine months, but she fled from him and at last threw herself into the nets which had been set by fishermen, or leaped from mount Dictynnaeum into the sea, where she became entangled in the nets, but was saved by Artemis, who now made her a goddess. She was worshipped not only in Crete, but appeared to the inhabitants of Aegina, and was there called Aphaea, whereas in Crete she received the surname Dictymna or Dictynna (from diktuon, a net; comp. Diod. v. 76). According to another tradition, Britomartis was fond of solitude, and had vowed to live in perpetual maidenhood. From Phoenicia (for this tradition calls her mother Carme, a daughter of Phoenix) she went to Argos, to the daughters of Erasinus, and thence to Cephallenia, where she received divine honours from the inhabitants under the name of Laphria. From Cephallenia she came to Crete, where she was pursued by Minos; but she fled to the sea-coast, where fishermen concealed her under their nets, whence she derived the surname Dictynna. A sailor, Andromedes, carried her from Crete to Aegina, and when, on landing there, he made an attempt upon her chastity, she fled from his vessel into a grove, and disappeared in the sanctuary of Artemis. The Aeginetans now built a sanctury to her, and worshipped her as a goddess. (Anton. Lib. 40.) These wanderings of Britomartis unquestionably indicate the gradual diffusion of her worship in the various maritime places of Greece mentioned in the legend. Her connexion and ultimate identification with Artemis had naturally a modifying influence upon the notions entertained of each of them. As Britomartis had to do with fishermen and sailors, and was the protectress of harbours and navigation generally, this feature was transferred to Artemis also, as we see especially in the Arcadian Artemis; and the temples of the two divinities, therefore, stood usually on the banks of rivers or on the sea-coast. As, on the other hand, Artemis was considered as the goddess of the moon, Britomartis likewise appears in this light: her disappearance in the sea, and her identification with the Aeginetan Aphaea, who was undoubtedly a goddess of the moon, seem to contain sufficient proof of this, which is confirmed by the fact, that on some coins of the Roman empire Dictynna appears with the crescent. Lastly, Britomartis was like Artemis drawn into the mystic worship of Hecate, and even identified with her. (Eurip. Hippol. 141, with the Schol.; comp. Miiller, Aeginet., &c.; Hock, Kreta, ii., &c.; Dict. of. Ant.s. v. Diktunnia.)

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

   Britomartis, "sweet maid". A Cretan goddess, supposed to dispense happiness, and whose worship extended throughout the islands and along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Like Artemis, with whom she was sometimes identified, she was the patroness of hunters, fishermen, and sailors, and also goddess of birth and of health. Her sphere was Nature in its greatness and its freedom. As goddess of the sea she bore the name of Dictynna, the supposed derivation of which from the Greek diktuon, "a net," was explained by the following legend. She was the danghter of a huntress much beloved by Zeus and Artemis. Minos loved her, and followed her for nine months over valley and mountain, through forest and swamp, till he nearly overtook her, when she leaped from a high rock into the sea. She was saved by falling into some nets, and Artemis made her a goddess.

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

  The daughter of Zeus and Carme, who became the Cretan goddess of fishermen and hunters. Artemis loved her deeply, but Britomartis had no relationships with men. King Minos wanted her, but she refused him. He then started chasing her, and when he had almost caught up with her she leapt from Mt. Dictynnaeus into the sea. There she got caught in a fishing net and was rescued the last minute by Artemis who made her a goddess.
  Later Britomartis was also worshipped on Aegina where her temple, Aphaea, can still be seen.
  Another version tells us she was Phoenician, and that she lived on Cephalonia, where she was worshipped as Laphria, before she went to Crete.

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



Carme (Karme), a daughter of Eubulus, who became by Zeus the mother of Britomartis (Paus. ii. 30.2). Antoninus Liberalis (40) describes her as a grand-daughter of Agenor, and daughter of Phoenix.

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