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Mythology (47)

Ancient myths

Hercules' Labor 8: The Horses of Diomedes

AVDIRA (Ancient city) XANTHI
  After Hercules had captured the Cretan Bull, Eurystheus sent him to get the man-eating mares of Diomedes, the king of a Thracian tribe called the Bistones, and bring them back to him in Mycenae.
  According to Apollodorus, Hercules sailed with a band of volunteers across the Aegean to Bistonia. There he and his companions overpowered the grooms who were tending the horses, and drove them to the sea. But by the time he got there, the Bistones had realized what had happened, and they sent a band of soldiers to recapture the animals.
  To free himself to fight, Hercules entrusted the mares to a youth named Abderos.Unfortunately, the mares got the better of young Abderos and dragged him around until he was killed. Meanwhile Hercules fought the Bistones, killed Diomedes, and made the rest flee. In honor of the slain Abderos, Hercules founded the city of Abdera.
  The hero took the mares back to Eurystheus, but Eurystheus set them free. The mares wandered around until eventually they came to Mount Olympos, the home of the gods, where they were eaten by wild beasts.
  Euripides gives two different versions of the story, but both of them differ from Apollodorus's in that Hercules seems to be performing the labor alone, rather than with a band of followers. In one, Diomedes has the four horses harnessed to a chariot, and Hercules has to bring back the chariot as well as the horses. In the other, Hercules tames the horses from his own chariot:
"He mounted on a chariot and tamed with the bit the horses of Diomedes, that greedily champed their bloody food at gory mangers with unbridled jaws, devouring with hideous joy the flesh of men." (Euripides, Hercules, 380)

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

  The eighth labour he enjoined on him was to bring the mares of Diomedes the Thracian to Mycenae. Now this Diomedes was a son of Ares and Cyrene, and he was king of the Bistones, a very warlike Thracian people, and he owned man-eating mares. So Hercules sailed with a band of volunteers, and having overpowered the grooms who were in charge of the mangers, he drove the mares to the sea. When the Bistones in arms came to the rescue, he committed the mares to the guardianship of Abderus, who was a son of Hermes, a native of Opus in Locris, and a minion of Hercules; but the mares killed him by dragging him after them. But Hercules fought against the Bistones, slew Diomedes and compelled the rest to flee. And he founded a city Abdera beside the grave of Abderus who had been done to death, and bringing the mares he gave them to Eurystheus. But Eurystheus let them go, and they came to Mount Olympus, as it is called, and there they were destroyed by the wild beasts.
1. According to Diod. 4.13.4, Herakles killed the Thracian king Diomedes himself by exposing him to his own mares, which devoured him. Further, the historian tells us that when Herakles brought the mares to Eurystheus, the king dedicated them to Hera, and that their descendants existed down to the time of Alexander the Great.
2. From Philostratus we learn that athletic games were celebrated in honour of Abderus. They comprised boxing, wrestling, the pancratium, and all the other usual contests, with the exception of racing -no doubt because Abderus was said to have been killed by horses. We may compare the rule which excluded horses from the Arician grove, because horses were said to have killed Hippolytus, with whom Virbius, the traditionary founder of the sanctuary, was identified. See Verg. A. 7.761-780; Ovid, Fasti iii.265ff. When we remember that the Thracian king Lycurgus is said to have been killed by horses in order to restore the fertility of the land (see Apollod. 3.5.1), we may conjecture that the tradition of the man-eating mares of Diomedes, another Thracian king who is said to have been killed by horses, points to a custom of human sacrifice performed by means of horses, whether the victim was trampled to death by their hoofs or tied to their tails and rent asunder. If the sacrifice was offered, as the legend of Lycurgus suggests, for the sake of fertilizing the ground, the reason for thus tearing the victim to pieces may have been to scatter the precious life-giving fragments as widely and as quickly as possible over the barren earth.

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. 8. The mares of the Thracian Diomedes. This Diomedes, king of the Bistones in Thrace, fed his horses with human flesh, and Eurystheus now ordered Heracles to fetch those animals to Mycenae. For this purpose, the hero took with him some companions. He made an unexpected attack on those who guarded the horses in their stables, took the animals, and conducted them to the sea coast. But here he was overtaken by the Bistones, and during the ensuing fight he entrusted the mares to his friend Abderus, a son of Hermes of Opus, who was eaten up by them; but Heracles defeated the Bistones, killed Diomedes, whose body he threw before the mares, built the town of Abdera, in honour of his unfortunate friend, and then returned to Mycenae, with the horses which had become tame after eating the flesh of their master. The horses were afterwards set free, and destroyed on Mount Olympus by wild beasts. (Apollod. ii. 5.8; Diod. iv. 15; Hygin. Fab. 30; Eurip. Alcest. 483, 493, Herc. Fur. 380, &c.; Gell. iii. 9; Ptolem. Heph. 5.)

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

The adventures of Unysses, Ismaros

ISMAROS (Ancient city) RODOPI

The myth of the cataclysm of Samothrace

According to the myth of the caclysm of Samothrace, only the Cabiri were saved.

The Eighth Labor of Heracles-The Diomedes’ Horses

VISTONIA (Ancient area) GREECE

Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus. A mythical personage, regarded by the Greeks as the most celebrated of the early poets, who lived before the time of Homer. His name does not occur in the Homeric or Hesiodic poems; but it had already attained to great celebrity in the lyric period. There were numerous legends about Orpheus, but the common story ran as follows: Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus and Calliope, lived in Thrace at the period of the Argonauts, whom he accompanied in their expedition. Presented with the lyre by Apollo and instructed by the Muses in its use, he enchanted with its music not only the wild beasts, but the trees and rocks upon Olympus, so that they moved from their places to follow the sound of his golden harp. The power of his music caused the Argonauts to seek his aid, which contributed materially to the success of their expedition; at the sound of his lyre the Argo glided down into the sea; the Argonauts tore themselves away from the pleasures of Lemnos; the Symplegades, or moving rocks, which threatened to crush the ship between them, were fixed in their places; and the Colchian dragon, which guarded the Golden Fleece, was lulled to sleep; other legends of the same kind may be read in the Argonautica, which bears the name of Orpheus. After his return from the Argonautic expedition he took up his abode in a cave in Thrace, and employed himself in the civilization of its wild inhabitants. There is also a legend of his having visited Egypt. The legends respecting the loss and recovery of his wife, and his own death, are very various. His wife was a nymph named Agriope or Eurydice. In the older accounts the cause of her death is not referred to. The legend followed in the well-known passages of Vergil and Ovid, which ascribes the death of Eurydice to the bite of a serpent, is no doubt of high antiquity; but the introduction of Aristaeus into the legend cannot be traced to any writer older than Vergil himself. He followed his lost wife into the abodes of Hades, where the charms of his lyre suspended the torments of the damned, and won back his wife from the most inexorable of all deities; but his prayer was only granted upon this condition: that he should not look back upon his restored wife till they arrived in the upper world; at the very moment when they were about to pass the fatal bounds, the anxiety of love overcame the poet; he looked round to see that Eurydice was following him; and he beheld her caught back into the infernal regions. His grief for the loss of Eurydice led him to treat with contempt the Thracian women, who, in revenge, tore him to pieces under the excitement of their Bacchanalian orgies. After his death the Muses collected the fragments of his body, and buried them at Libethra at the foot of Olympus, where the nightingale sang sweetly over his grave. His head was thrown into the Hebrus, down which it rolled to the sea, and was borne across to Lesbos, where the grave in which it was interred was shown at Antissa. His lyre was also said to have been carried to Lesbos; and both traditions are simply poetical expressions of the historical fact that Lesbos was the first great seat of the music of the lyre; indeed, Antissa itself was the birthplace of Terpander, the earliest historical musician. The astronomers taught that the lyre of Orpheus was placed by Zeus among the stars at the intercession of Apollo and the Muses.
    Orpheus is spoken of as the first diviner, the first to employ the rites of expiation, the inventor of letters and of the heroic metre--in fact, as the first civilizer of early Thracia and Greece. In these legends there are some points which are sufficiently clear. The invention of music, in connection with the services of Apollo and the Muses, its first great application to the worship of the gods, which Orpheus is therefore said to have introduced, its power over the passions, and the importance which the Greeks attached to the knowledge of it, as intimately allied with the very existence of all social order, are probably the chief elementary ideas of the whole legend. But here comes in one of the dark features of the Greek religion, in which the gods envy the advancement of man in knowledge and civilization, and severely punish any one who transgresses the bounds assigned to humanity. In a later age the conflict was no longer viewed as between the gods and man, but between the worshippers of different divinities; and especially between Apollo, the symbol of pure intellect, and Dionysus, the deity of the senses; hence Orpheus, the servant of Apollo, falls a victim to the jealousy of Dionysus and the fury of his worshippers. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is found in a reversed form in the ancient Keltic tale of the three daughters of King O'Hara. may be mentioned the following poems: Wordsworth, The Power of Music; Browning, Orpheus and Eurydice; W. Morris, Orpheus and the Sirens; R. Lowell, Eurydice; Dowden, Eurydice; Gosse, The Waking of Eurydice; and R. Buchanan, Orpheus the Musician.

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

Orpheus was the son of the river-god Oeagrus and the Muse Calliope. He was born in Thracia, not far from Mount Olympus where the Muses too were born.
  He was the most gifted of musicians, and was said to be the inventor of the 9-string cithara (a number derived from that of the Muses). His songs were so sweet that they would tame wild beasts and rugged men and bend branches from trees. Orpheus took part in the expedition of the Argonauts. Being too soft to row, he would keep the rowers in rythm with his songs and, because they were even sweeter than those of the Sirens, he saved his companions from them. He also managed, during an early stop in that island, to have them all initiated to the mysteries of Samothrace, of which he was already himself an initiate.
  Orpheus' wife was Eurydice, a Dryad. One day she was wandering along a creek in Thracia, she was bitten by a snake hiding in the grass and died. So aggrieved was Orpheus that he descended into Hades to try and recover his beloved wife. With his music, he managed to subdue the monsters at the gates and the gods within. Hades and Persephone agreed to let Eurydice go provided she walked behind Orpheus and he didn't try to look at her till he had returned to the world above. Unfortunately, just before reaching the light of day, Orpheus, tortured by doudt, looked behind, and instantly, Eurydice died for the second time, this time forever and there was nothing Orpheus could do to help it.
  Back on earth, Orpheus was so sad that he didn't want to have anything to do with women again. This is why Thracian women, angered at being so despised, decided one day to kill him, teared his body apart and threw the pieces into a river that brought them to the sea. And, so the story goes, his head and lyre eventually landed into the island of Lesbos, where the residents buried them with great honor. And it was said that, from the tomb, the song of a lyre could sometime be heard. This explains why the island of Lesbos was the center of lyric poetry (Mytilene, the main city on that island, was the birthplace of the poets Alceus and Sappho, among others).
  After Orpheus' death, his lyre became the constellation by that name in heaven, and his soul was transported to the Elysium where he keeps singing for the Blessed. The legend of Orpheus gave birth, in the VIth century B. C., to mystery cults supposed to transmit the revelations that Orpheus himself was supposed to have brought back from his descent into Hades. Orphism later became mingled with the Eleusinian Mysteries and with Pythagoreanism.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Eurydice. The beautiful nymph-wife of Orfeus, who was bitten by a snake while running away from Aristaeus, a son of Apollo. The desperate husband then descended to Hades, and begged the god of Death to release her. Hades was so touched by Orpheus' music, that he agreed on the condition that Orpheus would not look back at her during the ascent. Almost back in the world of the living, Orpheus could no longer hear Eurydices footsteps behind him, and could not resist turning around, only to see his wife screaming being pulled back into the underworld.
  Orpheus, mortified by grief wandered aimlessly around the forests where a crowd of maenads attacked him and tore him to pieces. His head fell into a river, still singing laments after his lost wife. It finally floated to Lesbos, where the Muses buried it.

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

Eponymous founders or settlers

Thasos, Thasus

Phoenician, said to have given the island its name



AVDIRA (Ancient city) XANTHI
And he (Heracles) founded a city Abdera beside the grave of Abderus who had been done to death and bringing the mares he gave them to Eurystheus.

Gods & demigods


ISMAROS (Ancient city) RODOPI
Chione, a daughter of Boreas and Oreithyia, and sister of Cleopatra, Zetes, and Calais. She became by Poseidon the mother of Eumolpus, and in order to conceal the event, she threw the boy into the sea; but the child was saved by Poseidon. (Apollod. iii. 15.2, 4 ; Paus. i. 38.3)


Cabeiri (Kabeiroi), mystic divinities who occur in various parts of the ancient world. The obscurity that hangs over them, and the contradictions respecting them in the accounts of the ancients themselves, have opened a wide field for speculation to modern writers on mythology, each of whom has been tempted to propound a theory of his own. The meaning of the name Cabeiri is quite uncertain, and has been traced to nearly all the languages of the East, and even to those of the North; but one etymology seems as plausible as another, and etymology in this instance is a real ignis fatuus to the inquirer. The character and nature of the Cabeiri are as obscure as the meaning of their name. All that we can attempt to do here is to trace and explain the various opinions of the ancients themselves, as they are presented to us in chronological succession. We chiefly follow Lobeck, who has collected all the passages of the ancients upon this subject, and who appears to us the most sober among those who have written upon it.
  The earliest mention of the Cabeiri, so far as we know, was in a drama of Aeschylus, entitled Kabeiroi, in which the poet brought them into contact with the Argonauts in Lemnos. The Cabeiri promised the Argonauts plenty of Lemnian wine (Plut. Sympos. ii. 1; Pollux, vi. 23). The opinion of Welcker, who infers from Dionysius (i. 68, &c.) that the Cabeiri had been spoken of by Arctinus, has been satisfactorily refuted by Lobeck and others. From the passage of Aeschylus here alluded to, it appears that he regarded the Cabeiri as original Lemnian divinities, who had power over everything that contributed to the good of the inhabitants, and especially over the vineyards. The fruits of the field, too, seem to have been under their protection, for the Pelasgians once in a time of scarcity made vows to Zeus, Apollo, and the Cabeiri (Myrsilus, ap. Dionys. i. 23). Strabo in his discussion about the Curetes, Dactyls, &c., speaks of the origin of the Cabeiri, deriving his statements from ancient authorities, and from him we learn, that Acusilaus called Camillus a son of Cabeiro and Hephaestus, and that he made the three Cabeiri the sons, and the Cabeirian nymphs the daughters, of Camillus. According to Pherecydes, Apollo and Rhytia were the parents of the nine Corybantes who dwelled in Samothrace, and the three Cabeiri and the three Cabeirian nymphs were the children of Cabeira, the daughter of Proteus, by Hephaestus. Sacrifices were offered to the Corybantes as well as the Cabeiri in Lemnos and Imbros, and also in the towns of Troas. The Greek logographers, and perhaps Aeschylus too, thus considered the Cabeiri as the grandchildren of Proteus and as the sons of Hephaestus, and consequently as inferior in dignity to the great gods on account of their origin. Their inferiority is also implied in their jocose conversation with the Argonauts, and their being repeatedly mentioned along with the Curetes, Dactyls, Corybantes, and other beings of inferior rank. Herodotus (iii. 37) says, that the Cabeiri were worshipped at Memphis as the sons of Hephaestus, and that they resembled the Phoenician dwarf-gods (Pataikoi) whom the Phoenicians fixed on the prows of their ships. As the Dioscuri were then yet unknown to the Egyptians (Herod. ii. 51), the Cabeiri cannot have been identified with them at that time. Herodotus proceeds to say, "the Athenians received their phallic Hermae from the Pelasgians, and those who are initiated in the mysteries of the Cabeiri will understand what I am saying; for the Pelasgians formerly inhabited Samothrace, and it is from them that the Samothracians received their orgies. But the Samothracians had a sacred legend about Hermes, which is explained in their mysteries". This sacred legend is perhaps no other than the one spoken of by Cicero (De Nat. Deor. iii. 22), that Hermes was the son of Coelus and Dies, and that Proserpine desired to embrace him. The same is perhaps alluded to by Propertius (ii. 2. 11), when he says, that Mercury (Hermes) had connexions with Brimo, who is probably the goddess of Pherae worshipped at Athens, Sicyon, and Argos, whom some identified with Proserpine (Persephone), and others with Hecate or Artemis. We generally find this goddess worshipped in places which had the worship of the Cabeiri, and a Lemnian Artemis is mentioned by Galen. The Tyrrhenians, too, are said to have taken away the statue of Artemis at Brauron, and to have carried it to Lemnos. Aristophanes, in his " Lemnian Women," had mentioned Bendis along with the Brauronian Artemis and the great goddess, and Nonnus (Dionys. xxx. 45) states that the Cabeirus Alcon brandished Hekates Diasodea purson, so that we may draw the conclusion, that the Samothracians and Lemnians worshipped a goddess akin to Hecate, Artemis, Bendis, or Persephone, who had some sexual connexion with Hermes, which revelation was made in the mysteries of Samothrace.
  The writer next to Herodotus, who speaks about the Cabeiri, and whose statements we possess in Strabo, though brief and obscure, is Stesimbrotus. The meaning of the passage in Strabo is, according to Lobeck, as follows: Some persons think that the Corybantes are the sons of Cronos, others that they are the sons of Zeus and Calliope, that they (the Corybantes) went to Samothrace and were the same as the beings who were there called Cabeiri. But as the doings of the Corybantes are generally known, whereas nothing is known of the Samothracian Corybantes, those persons are obliged to have recourse to saying, that the doings of the latter Corybantes are kept secret or are mystic. This opinion, however, is contested by Demetrius, who states, that nothing was revealed in the mysteries either of the deeds of the Cabeiri or of their having accompanied Rhea or of their having brought up Zeus and Dionysus. Demetrius also mentions the opinion of Stesimbrotus, that the hiera were performed in Samothrace to the Cabeiri, who derived their name from mount Cabeirus in Berecyntia. But here again opinions differed very much, for while some believed that the hiera Kabeiron were thus called from their having been instituted and conducted by the Cabeiri, others thought that they were celebrated in honour of the Cabeiri, and that the Cabeiri belonged to the great gods.
  The Attic writers of this period offer nothing of importance concerning the Cabeiri, but they intimate that their mysteries were particularly calculated to protect the lives of the initiated (Aristoph. Pax, 298). Later writers in making the same remark do not mention the name Cabeiri, but speak of the Samothracian gods generally (Diod. iv. 43, 49; Aelian, Fragm.; Callim. Ep. 36; Lucian. Ep. 15; Plut. Marcell. 30). There are several instances mentioned of lovers swearing by the Cabeiri in promising fidelity to one another (Juv. iii. 144; Himerius, Orat. i. 12); and Suidas (s. v. Dialamdanei) mentions a case of a girl invoking the Cabeiri as her avengers against a lover who had broken his oath. But from these oaths we can no more draw any inference as to the real character of the Cabeiri, than from the fact of their protecting the lives of the initiated; for these are features which they have in common with various other divinities. From the account which the scholiast of Apollonius Rhodius (i. 913) has borrowed from Athenion, who had written a comedy called The Samothracians (Athen. xiv.), we learn only that he spoke of two Cabeiri, Dardanus, and Jasion, whom he called sons of Zeus and Electra. They derived their name from mount Cabeirus in Phrygia, from whence they had been introduced into Samothrace.
  A more ample source of information respecting the Cabeiri is opened to us in the writers of the Alexandrine period. The two scholia on Apollonius Rhodius contain in substance the following statement: Mnaseas mentions the names of three Cabeiri in Samothrace, viz. Axieros, Axiocersa, and Axiocersus; the first is Demeter, the second Persephone, and the third Hades. Others add a fourth, Cadmilus, who according to Dionysius that dorus is identical with Hermes. It thus appears these accounts agreed with that of Stesimbrotus, who reckoned the Cabeiri among the great gods, and that Mnaseas only added their names. Herodotus, as we have seen, had already connected Hermes with Persephone; the worship of the latter as connected with that of Demeter in Samothrace is attested by Artemidorus (ap. Strab. iv.); and there was also a port in Samothrace which derived its name, Demetrium, from Demeter (Liv. xlv. 6). According to the authors used by Dionysius (i. 68), the worship of Samothrace was introduced there from Arcadia; for according to them Dardanus, together with his brother Jasion or Jasus and his sister Harmonia, left Arcadia and went to Samothrace, taking with them the Palever, ladium from the temple of Pallas. Cadmus, however, who appears in this tradition, is king of Samothrace: he made Dardanus his friend, and sent him to Teucer in Troas. Dardanus himself, again, is sometimes described as a Cretan (Serv. ad Aen. iii. 167), sometimes as an Asiatic (Steph. s. v. Dardanos; Eustath. ad Dionys. Perieg. 391), while Arrian (ap. Eustath.) makes him come originally from Samothrace. Respecting Dardanus' brother Jasion or Jasus, the accounts likewise differ very much; for while some writers describe him as going to Samothrace either from Parrhasia in Arcadia or from Crete, a third account (Dionys. i. 61) stated, that he was killed by lightning for having entertained improper desires for Demeter; and Arrian says that Jasion, being inspired by Demeter and Cora, went to Sicily and many other places, and there established the mysteries of these goddesses, for which Demeter rewarded him by yielding to his embraces, and became the mother of Parius, the founder of Paros.
  All writers of this class appear to consider Dardanus as the founder of the Samothracian mysteries, and the mysteries themselves as solemnized in honour of Demeter. Another set of authorities, on the other hand, regards them as belonging to Rhea (Diod. v. 51; Schol. ad Aristid.; Strab. Esccrpt. lib. vii.; Lucian, Dc Dea Syr. 97), and suggests the identity of the Samothracian and Phrygian mysteries. Pherecydes too, who placed the Corybantes, the companions of the great mother of the gods, in Samothrace, and Stesimbrotus who derived the Cabeiri from mount Cabeirus in Phrygia, and all those writers who describe Dardanus as the founder of the Samothracian mysteries, naturally ascribed the Samothracian mysteries to Rhea. To Demeter, on the other hand, they were ascribed by Mnaseas, Artemidorus, and even by Herodotus, since he mentions Hermes and Persephone in connexion with these mysteries, and Persephone has nothing to do with Rhea. Now, as Demeter and Rhea have many attributes in common -both are megaloi Deoi- and the festivals of each were celebrated with the same kind of enthusiasm; and as peculiar features of the one are occasionally transferred to the other (e. g. Eurip. Helen. 1304), it is not difficult to see how it might happen, that the Samothracian goddess was sometimes called Demeter and sometimes Rhea. The difficulty is, however, increased by the fact of Venus (Aphrodite) too being worshipped in Samothrace (Plin. H. N. v. 6). This Venus may be either the Thracian Bendis or Cybele, or may have been one of the Cabeiri themselves, for we know that Thebes possessed three ancient statues of Aphrodite, which Harmonia had taken from the ships of Cadmus, and which may have been the Pataaikoi who resembled the Cabeiri (Paus. ix. 16.2; Herod. iii. 37). In connexion with this Aphrodite we may mention that, according to some accounts, the Phoenician Aphrodite (Astarte) had commonly the epithet chabar or chabor, an Arabic word which signifies "the great," and that Lobeck considers Astarte as identical with the Selene Kabeiria, which name P. Ligorius saw on a gem.
  There are also writers who transfer all that is said about the Samothracian gods to the Dioscuri, who were indeed different from the Cabeiri of Acusilaus, Pherecydes, and Aeschylus, but yet might easily be confounded with them; first, because the Dioscuri are also called great gods, and secondly, because they were also regarded as the protectors of persons in danger either by land or water. Hence we find that in some places where the anakes were worshipped, it was uncertain whether they were the Dioscuri or the Cabeiri (Paus. x. 38.3). Nay, even the Roman Penates were sometimes considered as identical with the Dioscuri and Cabeiri (Dionys. i. 67, &c.); and Varro thought that the Penates were carried by Dardanus from the Arcadian town Pheneos to Samothrace, and that Aeneas brought them from thence to Italy (Macrob. Sat. iii. 4; Serv. ad Aen. i. 378, iii. 148). But the authorities for this opinion are all of a late period. According to one set of accounts, the Samothracian gods were two male divinities of the same age, which applies to Zeus and Dionysus, or Dardanus and Jasion, but not to Demeter, Rhea, or Persephone. When people, in the course of time, had become accustomed to regard the Penates and Cabeiri as identical, and yet did not know exactly the name of each separate divinity comprised under those common names, some divinities are mentioned among the Penates who belonged to the Cabeiri, and vice versa. Thus Servius (ad Aen. viii. 619) represents Zeus, Pallas, and Hermes as introduced from Samothrace; and, in another passage (ad Aen. iii. 264), he says that, according to the Samothracians, these three were the great gods, of whom Hermes, and perhaps Zeus also, might be reckoned among the Cabeiri. Varro (de Ling. Lat. v. 58) says, that Heaven and Earth were the great Samothracian gods; while in another place (ap. August. De Civ. Dei, vii. 18) he stated, that there were three Samothracian gods, Jupiter or Heaven, Juno or Earth, and Minerva or the prototype of things -the ideas of Plato. This is, of course, only the view Varro himself took, and not a tradition.
  If we now look back upon the various statements we have gathered, for the purpose of arriving at some definite conclusion, it is manifest, that the earliest writers regard the Cabeiri as descended from inferior divinities, Proteus and Hephaestus: they have their seats on earth, in Samothrace, Lemnos, and Imbros. Those early writers cannot possibly have conceived them to be Demeter, Persephone or Rhea. It is true those early authorities are not numerous in comparison with the later ones; but Demetrius, who wrote on the subject, may have had more and very good ones, since it is with reference to him that Strabo repeats the assertion, that the Cabeiri, like the Corybantes and Curetes, were only ministers of the great gods. We may therefore suppose, that the Samothracian Cabeiri were originally such inferior beings; and as the notion of the Cabeiri was from the first not fixed and distinct, it became less so in later times; and as the ideas of mystery and Demeter came to be looked upon as inseparable, it cannot occasion surprise that the mysteries, which were next in importance to those of Eleusis, the most celebrated in antiquity, were at length completely transferred to this goddess. The opinion that the Samothracian gods were the same as the Roman Penates, seems to have arisen with those writers who endeavoured to trace every ancient Roman institution to Troy, and thence to Samothrace.
  The places where the worship of the Cabeiri occurs, are chiefly Samothrace, Lemnos, and Imbros. Some writers have maintained, that the Samothracian and Lemnian Cabeiri were distinct; but the contrary is asserted by Strabo. Besides the Cabeiri of these three islands, we read of Boeotian Cabeiri. Near the Neitian gate of Thebes there was a grove of Demeter Cabeiria and Cora, which none but the initiated were allowed to enter; and at a distance of seven stadia from it there was a sanctuary of the Cabeiri (Paus. ix. 25.5). Here mysteries were celebrated, and the sanctity of the temple was great as late as the time of Pausanias (Comp. iv. 1.5). The account of Pausanias about the origin of the Boeotian Cabeiri savours of rationalism, and is, as Lobeck justly remarks, a mere fiction. It must further not be supposed that there existed any connexion between the Samothracian Cadmilus or Cadmus and the Theban Cadmus; for tradition clearly describes them as beings of different origin, race and dignity. Pausanias (ix. 22.5) further mentions another sanctuary of the Cabeiri, with a grove, in the Boeotian town of Anthedon; and a Boeotian Cabeirus, who possessed the power of averting dangers and increasing man's prosperity, is mentioned in an epigram of Diodorus. A Macedonian Cabeirus occurs in Lactantius. The reverence paid by the Macedonians to the Cabeiri may be inferred from the fact of Philip and Olympias being initiated in the Samothracian mysteries, and of Alexander erecting altars to the Cabeiri at the close of his Eastern expedition (Plut. Alex. 2; Philostr. de Vit. Apollon. ii. 43). The Pergamenian Cabeiri are mentioned by Pausanias (i. 4.6), and those of Berytus by Sanchoniathon and Damascius. Respecting the mysteries of the Cabeiri in general, see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Cabeiria.

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

Legendary people of Boeotia, expelled by Argives, mysteries of C. instituted at Thebes by Methapus, sanctuary, history of rites, wrath of C. implacable, identified with Boy Lords at Amphissa, land of Pergamus sacred to, minor deities worshipped in many places, in Samothrace and Memphis.


Eurymedon. A Cabeirus, a son of Hephaestus and Cabeiro, and a brother of Alcon. (Nonn. Dionys. xiv. 22; Cic. de Nat. Deor. iii. 21.)


Axieros, a daughter of Cadmilus, and one of the three Samothracian Cabeiri. According to the Paris-Scholia on Apollonius (i. 915-921), she was the same as Demeter. The two other Cabeiri were Axiocersa (Persephone), and Axiocersus (Hades).

Gods & heroes related to the location

Heracles in Thasos

And having come to Thasos and subjugated the Thracians who dwelt in the island, he gave it to the sons of Androgeus to dwell in.



ISMAROS (Ancient city) RODOPI
Perseus Encyclopedia


VISTONIA (Ancient area) GREECE
Dryas (Druas), a son of Ares, and brother of Tereus, was one of the Calydonian hunters. He was murdered by his own brother, who had received an oracle, that his son Itys should fall by the hand of a relative. (Apollod. i. 8.2; Hygin Fab. 45). There are five other mythical personages of this name. (Apollod. ii. 1.5; Horn. Il. vi. 130; Apollod. iii. 5.1; Hom Il. i. 263; Hesiod. Scut. Herc. 179.)

Historic figures


AVDIRA (Ancient city) XANTHI
From Opous of Locris , son of Hermes, killed by the mares of Diomedes, the city of Abdera founded by Herakles beside his grave. (Apollod.+2.5.8)

Abderus, a son of Hermes, or according to others of Thromius the Locrian. (Apollod. ii. 5. Β§ 8; Strab. vii. p. 331.) He was a favourite of Heracles, and was torn to pieces by the mares of Diomedes, which Heracles had given him to pursue the Bistones. Heracles is said to have built the town of Abdera to honour him. According to Hyginus, (Fab. 30,) Abderus was a servant of Diomedes. the king of the Thracian Bistones, and was killed by Heracles together with his master and his four men-devouring horses. (Compare Philostrat. Heroic. 3. Β§ 1; 19. Β§ 2.)

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


DIKEA (Ancient city) AVDIRA
Dicaeus, (Dikaios), a son of Poseidon, from whom Dicaea, a town in Thrace, is said to have derived its name. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Dikaia.)


IDONIS (Ancient area) GREECE
Edonus, (Edonos), the mythical ancestor of the Edones in Thrace. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Edonioi.) The name is therefore used also in the sense of "Thracian," and as Thrace was one of the principal seats of the worship of Dionysus, it further signifies "Dionysiac" or "Bacchantic." (Ov. Rem. Am. 593; Hor. Carm. ii. 7. 27.)


ISMAROS (Ancient city) RODOPI
Son of Eumolpus, marries the daughter of Tegyrius king of Thrace.Is said to have fled with his father from Aethiopia to Thrace, and from thence to Eleusis.


MARONIA (Ancient city) RODOPI
Maron. A son of Evanthes (some also call him a son of Oenopion, Seilenus. or of Bacchus, and a pupil of Seilenus, Nonn. Dionys. xiv. 99; Eurip. Cyclop. 141, &c.), and grandson of Dionysus and Ariadne, was a priest of Apollo at Maroneia in Thrace, where he himself had a sanctuary. He was the hero of sweet wine, and is mentioned among the companions of Dionysus. (Hom. Od. ix. 197, &c.; Eustath. ad Hom. pp. 1615, 1623; Philostr. Her. ii. 8; Athen. i. p. 33; Diod. i. 18.)


XANTHIA (Ancient city) XANTHI



ISMAROS (Ancient city) RODOPI
Eumolpus, (Eumolpos), that is, " the good singer," a Thracian who is described as having come to Attica either as a bard, a warrior, or a priest of Demeter and Dionysus. The common tradition, which, however, is of late origin, represents him as a son of Poseidon and Chione, the daughter of Boreas and the Attic heroine Oreithya. According to the tradition in Apollodorus (iii. 15.4), Chione, after having given birth to Eumolpus in secret, threw the child into the sea. Poseidon, however, took him up, and had him educated in Ethiopia by his daughter Benthesicyma. When he had grown up, lie married a daughter of Ben thesicyma.; but as he made an attempt upon the chastity of his wife's sister, Eumolpus and his son Ismarus were expelled, and they went to the Thracian king Tegyrius, who gave his daughter in marriage to Ismarus; but as Eumolpus drew upon himself the suspicion of Tegyrius, he was again obliged to take to flight, and came to Eleusis in Attica, where he formed a friendship with the Eleusinians. After tlhe death of his son Ismsarus, however, lie returned to Thrace at the request of king Tegyrius. The Eleusininians, who were involved in a war with Athens, called Eumolpus to their assistance. Eumolpus came with a numerous band of Thracians, but he was slain by Erechtheus. The traditions about this Eleusinian war, however, differ very much. According to sonic, the Eleusinians under Eumolpus attacked the Athenians under Erechtheus, but were defeated, and Eumolpus with his two sons, Phorbas and Immaradus, were slain. (Thuc. ii. 15; Plat. Menex. ; Isocrat. Panath. 78; Plut. Parall. Gr. et. Rom. 20 ; Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 854.) Pausanias (i. 38.3) relates a tradition that in the battle between the Eleusinians and Athenians, Erechtheus and Immaradus fell, and that thereupon peace was concluded on condition that the Eleusinians should in other respects be subject to Athens, but that they alone should have the celebration of their mysteries, and that Eumolpus and the daughters of Celeus should perform the customary sacrifices. When Eumolpus died, his younger son Ceryx succeeded him in the priestly office. According to Hyginus (Fab. 46; comp. Strab. vii.), Eumolpus came to Attica with a colony of Thracians, to claim the country as the property of his father, Poseidon. Mythology regards Eumolpus as the founder of the Eleusinian mysteries, and as the first priest of Demeter and Dionysus; the goddess herself taught him, Triptolemus, Diocles, and Celeus, the sacred rites, and he is therefore sometimes described as having himself invented the cultivation of the vine and of fruit-trees in general. (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 476; Plin. H. N. vii. .53; Ov. Met. x. 93.) As Eumolpus was regarded as an ancient priestly bard, poems and writings on the mysteries were fabricated and circulated at a later time under his name. One hexameter line of a Dionysiac hymn, ascribed to him, is preserved in Diodorus. (i. 11 ; Suid. s. v.) The legends connected him also with Heracles, whom he is said to have instructed in music, or initiated into the mysteries. (Hygin. Fab. 273; Theocrit. xxiv. 108; Apollod. ii. 5.12.) The difference in the traditions about Eumolpus led some of the ancients to suppose that two or three persons of that name ought to be distinguished. (Hesych. s. v. Eumolpidai; Schol. ad Oed. Col. 1051; Phot. Lex. s. v. Eumolpidai.) The tomb of Eumolpus was shewn both at Eleusis and Athens. (Paus. i. 38.2.)

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


Son of Zeus and Electra, leaves Samothrace, marries the daughter of King Teucer, and calls the country Dardania, father of Idaea, receives image of Dionysus in chest from Zeus.


The son of Androgeos, and grandson of Minos. He accompanied Heracles from Paros on his expedition against the Amazons, and, together with his brother Alcaeus, he was appointed by Heracles ruler of Thasos.


VISTONIA (Ancient area) GREECE
Diomedes, a king of the Bistones, in Thrace, son of Ares and Cyrene. His mares fed on human flesh. Heracles sailed to this quarter, having been ordered, as his eighth labour, to bring these mares to Mycenae. The hero overcame the grooms of Diomedes and led the mares to the sea. The Bistones pursued with arms. Heracles, leaving the mares in charge of Abderus, one of his companions, went to engage the foe. Meantime the mares tore their keeper to pieces; and the hero, having defeated the Bistones and slain Diomedes, built a city by the tomb of Abderus, which he called Abdera after him. Heracles brought the mares to Eurystheus, who turned them loose, and they strayed to Mount Olympus, where they were destroyed by the wild beasts. Another account makes Heracles to have given Diomedes to be devoured by his own mares, and Eurystheus to have consecrated them to Here.

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

Diomedes was a son of Ares and Cyrene, and he was king of the Bistones, a very warlike Thracian people, slain by Herakles.

Population movements

Thracians dwelt in Thasos


Phoenicians made a settlement in Thasos



Son of Minos, of Crete.
More on this article see Cnosus

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