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α - Α

Alpha; the first letter in the Greek alphabet; lowercase α, uppercase Α.

The ancient Greeks did not have lowercase letters in their alphabet; the lowercase letters were not invented until the ninth century CE, i.e. about eleven hundred years ago.

Alpha and Beta (β - Β), the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, were combined to give us the English word Alphabet.

Letters of the Greek alphabet were also used as numerals; the letter alpha represented the number 1 and was written as a simple α or as alpha followed by an acute accent, α'.

Abacus

Abacus

A portion of a column of the Doric order; the uppermost member of a capital beneath the architrave; simply stated, the abacus is a slab forming the top of the capital of a column.

Abae (Abai)

Abae

The site of the oracular shrine of Apollon in Phokis (Phocis); the people of Abae claimed to have originally come from Argos and that their city was named after Abas, a son of Lynkeus (Lynceus) and of Hypermnestra, the daughter of Danaus.

The Oracle at Abae is best known as one of the oracles King Kroesus (Croesus) of Lydia consulted when he knew that war with the Persians was inevitable; Kroesus wanted to believe in Oracles but he needed proof that they could be trusted; after giving the matter some thought, he hit upon a plan where he could test the veracity of several of the Oracles without seeming sacrilegious.

Kroesus sent messengers to several oracular sites with a specific question to be asked on a specific day and time; his question was essentially, "What am I doing right now?"; Kroesus sent messengers to Abae, Dodona and Delphi as well as other Greek and foreign oracular sites; they were to ask the question, write down the response and then return to Lydia.

Kroesus read the various answers and the response from Delphi was the only correct one; at the exact time the question was asked of the three Oracles, Kroesus had been cooking a tortoise and lamb in a covered bronze pot; the Pythia at Delphi described the event with uncanny accuracy.

After that, Kroesus trusted the Oracle at Delphi completely but he eventually failed to understand a warning the Pythia gave him and lost his kingdom to the Persians; the Pythia told Kroesus that if he fought the Persians, a great kingdom would fall; Kroesus assumed that his victory was assured but failed to consider the possibility that the fallen kingdom might be his; Kroesus was defeated and enslaved by the King Cyrus.

The historian Herodotus related an interesting story about a conflict the Abaeans had with the Thessalians; several years before the second Persian invasion of Greece (480 BCE), the Thessalians and their allies invaded Phokis; the Phokians were advised by the seer Tellias the Eleian to pick six hundred of their best men and cover them with chalk thus giving them a ghostly appearance; the Phokians attacked the Thessalians at night which added to the unearthly appearance of the chalk-covered soldiers; their attack was successful and resulted in the capture of four thousand slain Thessalians and their shields; half of the shields were dedicated at Delphi and the other half at Abae where they were made into large statues.

When King Xerxes of Persia invaded Greece in 480 BCE, he burned many of the Phokian cities including Abae; after the Persians were forced out of Greece, the inhabitants of Abae refused to rebuild the original Temple of Apollon so that they could remember their hatred of the Persians and the sacrilege they committed; the Temple of Apollon was burned a second time by the Thebans and very little of the original structure survived; a smaller Temple of Apollon was built by the Roman emperor Hadrian and decorated with old bronze statues of Apollon, his sister Artemis and his mother Leto.

At the time when the historian and traveler Pausanias visited Abae (circe 160 CE), he saw the ruins of the Temple of Apollon as well as a theater and market-place, both of ancient construction.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.46-49; book 8.27; book 8.33; book 8.134

Description of Greece by Pausanias, book 10.3.2; book 10.35.1-4

Abantian

The name Abantian was used for the island of Euboea in ancient times and was derived from one of the early tribes of that island, the Abantes; Aristotle states that the Abantes were Thracians from Abae in Phokis (Phocis); the Abantes provided forty ships for the siege of Troy and were commanded by Elephenor; Homer said that the Abantes were furious spearmen with their hair grown long in the back.

Euboea is the long, narrow island located close to the eastern coast of mainland Greece in the western Aegean Sea; the island borders the coast of Greece from Athens, in the south, to Thermopylae in the north.

Google Map

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 535-545

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 625-636

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 632-643

Abarbare

A Naiad, i.e. a water Nymph; the consort of Boukolion (Boucolion) and mother of the twins, Pedasos (Pedasus) and Aisepos (Aesepos).

Boukolion was a son of Laomedon and the brother of the last king of Troy, Priam; Pedasos and Aisepos were both killed in the Trojan War by the Argive commander, Euryalos (Euryalus).

Nymph is a general term for maidens who occupy rivers, springs, mountains, etc.

The name Nymph literally means Bride; there are several specific types of Nymphs:

Okeanid — a Nymph of the ocean;

Naiad — a Nymph of a river, lake and spring;

Dryad — a Nymph of a tree;

Hamadryad — a Nymph of an oak tree;

Sylph — a Nymph of the air; and

Oread — a Nymph of a mountain.

When the Titan Kronos (Cronos) attacked his father, Ouranos (the Heavens), the blood that issued from Ouranos's wounds produced the Nymphs of the Ash Trees, the Furies, the Giants and the goddess of Love, Aphrodite.

Theogony, line 187

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 6, line 22

The Iliad (Fagles), book 6, line 25

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 6, line 23

Abas 1

The father of Kanethos (Canethus) and grandfather of the Argonaut, Kanthos (Canthus).

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 77

Abas 2

The stepfather of the Argonaut, Idmon; Idmon was raised by Abas in Argos but his true father was Apollon; Idmon learned the art of divination from his father and could read signs from birds and in burnt offerings.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 139; book 2, lines 815 and 857

Abas 3

He and his brother Polyidos (Polyidus) were the sons of the dream interpreter, Eurydamas; Abas and Polyidos fought for the Trojans and were killed by Diomedes.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb) book 5, line 148

The Iliad (Fagles) book 5, line 165

The Iliad (Fitzgerald) book 5, line 173

Abas 4

With Hypermnestra, the daughter of Danaus, Abas was the founder of the Phokian (Phocian) city of Abae; Abae was the site of an Oracle of Apollon.

Description of Greece by Pausanias, book 10.35.1

Abdera

A Greek city on the coast of Thrake (Thrace), east of the river Nestos (Nestus).

The city of Abdera was first settled by a man named Timesias of Klazomenae (Clazomenae) in the mid-seventh century BCE; this attempt at colonization was not successful and Timesias and his followers were driven from Thrace by the native inhabitants.

As a result of the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE, the Great King's general, Harpagus, assaulted the land of the Teians who lived in Ionia; the Teians fled to Thrake and re-established Abdera as a Greek city; of all the Ionians who were besieged by the Persians, the Teians were the only ones to flee the Great King's wrath; the other Ionians were reduced to slavery.

The city prospered and by 545 BCE had a protective wall, holy sanctuaries and a well equipped harbor; the city continued to grow and prosper until the Romans conquered the area; from that time on, the city declined into obscurity and finally became nothing more than a cemetery.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.168, book 6.46, book 7.109, 7.120 and 7.126, book 8.120

Google Map

Abydos (Abydus) 1

Abydos

A Greek city on the Asian side of the Hellespont; the city of Sestos lies across the Hellespont on the European side of the narrow channel.

Abydos was the home of a young man named Leander who was in love with a priestess of Aphrodite named Hero; Leander would regularly swim the channel at night in order to meet with Hero in Sestos but one night he lost his way and drowned; this tale from antiquity has inspired many young adventurers to swim the strait to duplicate Leander's feat.

There is a point of land jutting into the Hellespont from the European side of the waterway and it was at this spot, in 480 BCE, that the Persian king, Xerxes, built a pontoon bridge by lashing ships together and crossing the Hellespont from Abydos to Sestos.

Before he arrived at Abydos, Xerxes instructed the townspeople to construct a platform of stones on a hill so that he could stand atop it and survey the massive army and navy he had assembled for the invasion of Greece.

The other Greek cities of the Hellespont were required to supply soldiers and ships for Xerxes's invasion forces but the people of Abydos were ordered to stay at home and protect the pontoon bridge from attack; the bridge was not harmed by any enemy of the Great King but, when Xerxes retreated back to Abydos after his invasion of Greece had failed, the waves and wind had made the pontoon bridge unstable and unusable; Xerxes and his army crossed from Sestos to Abydos via ship.

When the people of Abydos and Sestos learned that the Greeks who had not allied themselves with the Persians were approaching the Hellespont, they dismantled the pontoon bridge and stored the gear at Sestos; when the Greeks arrived, they focused their attention on punishing the traitor-Greeks on the European side of the Hellespont and left Abydos alone.

Because of its strategic location, Abydos played a major role in the long and brutal Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE); many sea battles were fought in the narrow channel between Abydos and Sestos.

Abydos is now known as Canakkale, Turkey.

Approximate East Longitude 26º 40' and North Latitude 40º 15'

Google Map

Histories by Herodotus, book 5.117; book 7.33-37, 7.44-45, 7.95, 7.147; book 8.117; book 9.114

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 836; book 4, line 500; book 17, line 584

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 948; book 4, line 577; book 17, line 661

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 1005; book 4, line 604; book 17, line 656

Abydos (Abydus) 2

The Greek name for a city in ancient Egypt which was known to the Egyptians as Abdu; Abydos was located in Upper Egypt, i.e. southern Egypt, approximately 6 miles (11 kilometers) west of the Nile river.

The modern name of Abydos is Arabet el Madfuneh.

Approximate East Longitude 31º 45' and North Latitude 26º 10'

Google Map

Abyla

Abyla

The ancient name for Jebel Musa; a mountain in northwestern Morocco opposite the Rock of Gibraltar; assumed to be one of the Pillars of Herakles (Heracles); 2,775 feet (846 meters) in height.

Also called Gebel Musa.

Approximate West Longitude 5º 24' 29'' and North Latitude 35º 53' 20''

Google Map

Academy (Akademeia or Academeia)

The Academy was a school which was originally an olive grove near the city of Athens which was sacred to the hero Akademus (Academus) who assisted Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux) in the rescue of their sister Helen when she had been kidnapped by Theseus and Peirithoos (Peirithous).

Plato and his followers taught in the grove of Akademus and thus their school became known as The Academy.

Modern scholars have divided the teachings of The Academy into "schools" because the world-view and style evolved as time passed and as different teachers presided over The Academy; the divisions are:

The Old Academy, circa 400-265 BCE, typified by Plato.

The Middle Academy, circa 265-150 BCE, typified by Arkesilas (Arcesilas).

The New Academy, circa 150-86 BCE, typified by Karneades (Carneades).

The direct, continuous influence of The Academy was finally broken in 86 BCE when Athens was burned by the Romans; attempts were made to re-build on the centuries-old reputation of The Academy but the Roman domination of the entire Mediterranean area was overwhelming and later incarnations of The Academy were mere shadows of the original school.

Achaean League

The confederacy of twelve cities in Achaea on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

The Achaean League was unique in that it was ruled by a democratic system; the League was dissolved by Alexander the Great but later reorganized (280 BCE) with ten cities under the leadership of Aratus of Sikyon (Sicyon) and served as a viable form of governance until it was forcibly disbanded by the Romans circa 146 BCE.

This cooperation between the fiercely independent Greek cities was unprecedented in its time and was governed at first by two generals and then later by one man; perhaps one of the most stabilizing aspects of this league was the stipulation that no man could serve two consecutive terms as leader.

Achaemenes 1

In Persia, the legendary ancestor of Cyrus, Kambyses (Cambyses) and Darius who founded the ruling family called the Achaemenids which lasted until the time of Alexander the Great (circa 330 BCE).

Achaemenes 2

In the Persian royal dynasty, the son of Darius who was the governor of Egypt during the rule of Xerxes (485-465 BCE) and also served as an admiral in the fleet of Xerxes during the invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

Achaemenes was killed by Inarus the Libyan.

Histories by Herodotus, book 3.12

Achaemenids

The first royal house of Persia which was founded by the legendary Achaemenes and ended with Darius III when he was defeated by Alexander the Great (circa 330 BCE).

Achaea (Achaia) 1

Achaea

A northern region of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Achaea was settled before 1000 BCE.

In The Iliad and The Odyssey, the name Achaeans generally referred to all Greeks.

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Achaea (Achaia) 2

The name for the goddess, Demeter, in Attica.

Achaean (Achaian)

Of or pertaining to the district of Achaea (Achaia) on the northern Peloponnesian Peninsula.

An Achaean is a native of Achaea.

The term Achaean is a general terms for all Greeks; in The Iliad and The Odyssey, the terms Achaean and Argive are used interchangeably.

Achaeans (Achaians)

The members of one of the four main divisions of prehistoric Greeks believed to have occupied the Peloponnesian Peninsula and to have produced the Mycenaean culture.

The four divisions of prehistoric Greeks include: Dorian, Achaean, Aeolian and Ionian.

The name Achaeans may also be rendered as Achaians and Akhaians.

Acharnians

A comic play by the Athenian poet, Aristophanes, which was produced in the first years of the Peloponnesian War (425 BCE).

Cast of Characters:

Dikaiopolis (Dicaiopolis)

Amphitheos

Theoros

Kephisophon (Cephisophon)

Euripides

Lamachos

Nikarchos (Nicarchos)

This play was an undisguised plea for peace between the cities of Athens and Sparta but despite the potentially unpopular theme of the play, it was well received in Athens.

The main character of the play, Dikaiopolis (Dicaiopolis), served as the voice of peace but regardless of the passion demonstrated by the play's characters, no one could foresee that the war would drag on for twenty eight years.

The setting of the story is the market in Athens where Dikaiopolis is confronted by an angry group of Acharnians who want to kill him because he has tried to negotiate a private peace with Sparta; the Acharnians want to stone and then decapitate Dikaiopolis but he persuades them to hear his reasoning for wanting peace with Sparta before they kill him.

Dikaiopolis harangues a variety of people including the poet Euripides, the government of Athens, the Athenian military, farmers, merchants and even participants in a wedding.

At the end of the play, the comic lampoons of Dikaiopolis are juxtaposed against the mournful laments of a wounded soldier.

This play is somewhat difficult to read but worth the effort; there is one particularly enjoyable scene where Dikaiopolis is arguing with a desperate Megarian farmer who is trying to raise money by disguising his daughters as pigs and offering them for sale; the underlying message of the scene is that the farmer has been brought to ruin by the war but his destitution is comically relieved by the farcical hoax he's trying to foist on Dikaiopolis.

Aristophanes's plays are sometimes difficult to appreciate because he was a very contemporary poet, i.e. he was writing for the Athenian audience of his day; he would use puns, parody regional accents and speak directly to the audience in ways that force modern translators to seek out the contextual meaning rather than the literal meaning of the poet's words; for that reason, I suggest that if you find a translation that is difficult to enjoy, please don't blame Aristophanes, simply look for a translation that you can enjoy; when trying to find a readable translator, I suggest Patric Dickinson; you may find his books at your local library in the 882 section but his books are out of print and sometimes difficult to find; I also recommend the Penguin Classics book Lysistrata & Other Plays: The Acharnians, the Clouds, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Alan H. Sommerstein (Translator), ISBN: 0140448144; you can also find this book at your local library or you can purchase it from the Book Shop on this site.

Acheloios (Achelous) 1

Acheloios

The god of the river Achelous who is the lord of all rivers.

Acheloios is one of the sons of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

Acheloios and the Muse, Terpsichore, are the parents of the Sirens.

Zeus gave the Rivers, Apollon and the Okeanids the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

The name, Acheloios, may also be rendered as Achelous.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 21, line 194

The Iliad (Fagles), book 21, line 220

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 21, line 226

Theogony, line 340

Acheloios (Achelous) 2

A river in western Greece which runs north to south and divides Aetolia from Akarnania (Acarnania).

The name may also be rendered as Achelous.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 24, line 616

The Iliad (Fagles), book 24, line 725

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 24, line 739

Acheron

The River of Woe.

A river in the Underworld over which Charon ferries the souls of the dead.

Herodotus relates the story of King Periander of the city of Corinth sending an emissary to the Oracle of the Dead on the river Acheron; the king's dead wife, Melissa, revealed, through the oracle, the hiding place of some treasure that she had hidden and Periander could not find without her help.

The Romans thought that the Acheron was a lake.

Histories by Herodotus, book 5.92

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 10, line 514

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 10, line 513

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 10, line 563

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald - Sorrowing Waters), book 10, line 569

Achilles (Achilleus)

Achilles

The son of King Peleus and the Nereid, Thetis; Achilles was the most beautiful and bravest warrior in the Greek army at the siege of the city of Troy.

Achilles has a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on his photo to view that page.

Achlys

A Spirit; Death-Mist or Darkness of Death.

Achlys was depicted on the shield of Herakles (Heracles) as grim, pale and shriveled with long nails, blood stained cheeks and tear-damp dust on her shoulders.

Shield of Herakles, line 264

Acme

Peak, summit, highest point.

Acolyte

An alter attendant; from the Greek word, Akoloothos, i.e. a follower or attendant.

Acoustic

Pertaining to sound; from the Greek word, Akoustikos.

Acro

Prefix meaning height or top-most; for example, the word Acropolis literally means High City; we also have English words such as Acrobat, Acronym and Acrophobia.

Acrocorinth

The citadel of the ancient city of Corinth; strategic in the control of the Isthmus of Corinth.

The traveler and historian, Pausanias (fl. 160 CE) described the Acrocorinth as a mountain peak above the city which was assigned to Helios (Sun); on the way to the summit there were two precincts dedicated to Isis: 1) Isis Pelagian, i.e. Isis of the Sea, and 2) the Egyptian Isis; another Egyptian deity represented on the Acrocorinth was Serapis.

On the summit of the Acrocorinth was the temple of Aphrodite (goddess of Love) with images of Aphrodite, Helios and Eros (the primal god of Love); the spring behind the temple was said to have been created by the river god, Asopos (Asopus) as a reward to King Sisyphus for informing the river god that Zeus had abducted his daughter, Aegina (Aigina).

Description of Greece, book 2 iv 4, v 1-2

Acropolis 1

The Acropolis

The citadel of Athens and site of the Parthenon.

The Acropolis is a rocky plateau rising 200 feet (61 meters) above the city; it measures 300 feet (91 meters) by 150 feet (46 meters) forming the flat rectangular plateau which overlooks the city and the sea.

In prehistoric times the Acropolis served as the site of at least three distinct cultures known as:

1) The Early Helladic — 2500-1900 BCE;

2) The Middle Helladic — 1900-1580 BCE; and

3) The Late Helladic — 1580-1100 BCE; the Late Helladic period was the setting for the mythical kings of Attica such as Kekrops (Cecrops), Erechtheus and Akteus (Acteus).

The historic accounts of the Acropolis begin after the Persian army sacked Athens in 480 BCE; the ruins of the burned and demolished temples atop the Acropolis were used by Themistokles (Themistocles) and Kimon (Cimon) as the foundation for the reconstruction of the walls and temples; the Parthenon and the Propylaea were added by Pericles in 431 BCE.

The above photo is a link to photos of the Acropolis as it looks today; the photo below is what the Acropolis and the city of Athens might have looked like soon after the renovation by Pericles circa 431 BCE.

The Acropolis

Acropolis 2

 An Acropolis

A citadel or high fortified area of any ancient Greek city.

Acroterion (Akroterion)

Acroterion

In the Doric Order of architecture, an ornament placed on a stele or pediment.

Admete 1

An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys; her name means Unwedded; Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

Theogony, line 349

Admete 2

The daughter of King Eurystheus of Argos for whom Herakles (Heracles) took the Golden Girdle of Ares from Hippolyte, the Amazon queen; Admete was eventually married to the Athenian hero, Theseus.

Admetos (Admetus) 1

A king of Pherae in Thessaly (circa 1300 BCE); Admetos was drawn into the plots and dramas of the Immortals when Zeus made Apollon into Admetos's slave for one year as retribution for Apollon's vengeful attack on the cyclops.

Admetos was a kind master and treated Apollon with respect; in repayment for such noble treatment, Apollon arranged for Admetos to marry a lovely woman named Alkestis (Alcestis).

When Apollon found out that Admetos was destined to die immediately after the marriage, he wooed the Eumenides (Fates) with wine until they agreed to allow Admetos to live; the Eumenides were not easily persuaded; they would only allow Admetos to live on the condition that someone else volunteer to die in his place; Alkestis loved her husband so much that she agreed to die for him.

Herakles (Heracles) was so moved by such an act of selflessness that he intercepted Thanatos (Death) as he was escorting Alkestis to the Underworld and returned her to the land of the living and reunited her with Admetos.

Admetos was also one of the Argonauts; when Jason assembled the group of young heroes to assist him in the Quest for the Golden Fleece, Admetos was one of the select men who was chosen to become a crewman on the Argo and sail to Kolchis (Colchis) to retrieve the Golden Fleece from King Aietes (Aeetes); Admetos's role in the adventure was limited as he was only mentioned once in Argonautika but the fact that he participated is important because the Quest for the Golden Fleece was one of the three most prestigious events in ancient Greek history; the other two events were the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt and the Trojan War.

Admetos's son, Eumelos (Eumelus), was commander of eleven ships of soldiers from Pherae at the siege of the city of Troy; this would place Admetos in the generation before the Trojan War, i.e. circa 1300 BCE.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, lines 713 and 714; book 23, lines 289, 391 and 532

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, lines 814 and 815; book 23, lines 332, 440 and 591

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, lines 850 and 852; book 23, lines 332 and 606

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 49

Admetos (Admetus) 2

The king of the Molossians (circa 471 BCE) who gave protection to Themistokles (Themistocles) after he was banished by the Athenians even though his brilliant military leadership defeated the Persians at the battle of the island of Salamis in the 480 BCE invasion of Greece.

Adonis

One of the most beautiful men of ancient Greece; his name became synonymous with idealized masculine perfection.

Adonis

There are conflicting stories as to Adonis's life and death; he was the son of Kinyras (Cinyras) king of the island of Cyprus and the king's daughter Myrrha (Zmyrna); the unholy union was the result of the goddess of Love, Aphrodite's, revenge for Myrrha's disrespect.

At this point, the story of Adonis is unclear; there are several possibilities that we should consider:

1) His mother was turned into a myrrh tree and Adonis was born from this tree; he grew to be a beautiful young man and Aphrodite fell in love with him; or

2) Aphrodite put Adonis in a chest and sent him to the Underworld; Zeus had sympathy for the beautiful young man and allowed him to live half of the year with Persephone in the Underworld and the other half with Aphrodite on the earth's surface; or perhaps;

3) Adonis was raised by Nymphs and met Aphrodite while he was hunting; he was killed by a wild boar sent by Ares (god of War) and from his blood sprang the rose.

The worship of Adonis reached the city of Athens in the fifth century BCE and is assumed to have originated on the island of Cyprus or in the Far East; regardless of his origins, by the mid-seventh century BCE, his name was used by the singer/poet, Sappho, as a general term meaning a favorite or a darling.

Adrasteia

A name for the daughter of Nyx (Night), Nemesis, i.e. Divine Retribution; perhaps meaning The Inevitable.

Without Nemesis there will be no escape from worldly evil; in a surviving portion of the Epic Cycle, Kypria, Nemesis is said to be the daughter of Zeus and that she went to extraordinary lengths to avoid his amorous advances; Zeus chased her over land and sea as she assumed the guise of fish or land creatures to escape him.

Works of Days, line 197

Theogony, line 223

The Kypria, fragment 8

Adrastus (Adrestos) 1

Adrastus was the king of Sikyon (Sicyon) whose life was closely tied to the tragedy surrounding King Oedipus of the city of Thebes.

Adrastus was the son of Talaos (Talaus) and Lysimache; as a young man he was forced to flee Argos and live in the city of Sikyon where he was made heir to the throne and later became king; Adrastus eventually returned to Argos and lived peacefully until his daughters married two men who were destined to make history and bring doom to Adrastus and his son Aigialeus (Aegialeus).

The two men who married Adrastus's daughters were outcasts but were given sanctuary by Adrastus; the men were Tydeus and Polyneikes (Polyneices); Tydeus fled Kalydon (Calydon) for a murder he committed and Polyneikes had been banished from Thebes by his brother Eteokles (Eteocles).

Polyneikes and his brother Eteokles had a bitter dispute as to who should be the king of Thebes after the self-imposed exile of their father, King Oedipus; Eteokles tricked Polyneikes into thinking that the two of them could take turns sitting on the throne but once on the throne, Eteokles refused to honor his agreement and banished Polyneikes from Thebes.

Polyneikes was taken in by Adrastus and allowed to marry Adrastus's daughter, Argeia; Tydeus was also honored by Adrastus by being allowed to marry his daughter, Deipyle; as the years passed, Polyneikes convinced Adrastus that seven armies could attack the seven gates of Thebes and take the city; after Eteokles was ousted, Polyneikes would become the king of Thebes.

Mounted on his immortal steed Arion (Areion), Adrastus led the army which became known as the Seven Against Thebes; the Seven Against Thebes lost the battle and with the exception of Adrastus, all of the commanders were killed including Polyneikes and Tydeus; Eteokles and Polyneikes died on each other's spears.

Ten years after the failure of the Seven Against Thebes, Adrastus led another army to attack Thebes; they were called the Epigoni, i.e. After-Born; the Epigoni successfully captured Thebes but Adrastus's son Aigialeus (Aegialeus) was the only Epigoni commander to be killed in the war; because of the loss of his beloved son, Adrastus died of grief on the way back to Argos.

Adrastus's daughter Aigialeia (Aegialeia) married Diomedes, the son of Tydeus; Adrastus lived one generation before the Trojan War which began circa 1250 BCE; since Diomedes fought in the Trojan War, that would mean that Adrastus died circa 1245 BCE.

Although his name is more properly rendered as Adrestos, it is generally translated as Adrastus.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 572; book 5, line 412; book 14, line 121; book 23, line 347

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 663; book 5, line 471; book 14, line 148; book 23, line 393

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 675; book 5, line 473; book 14, line 139; book 23, line 397

The Thebaid, fragment 4, line 1

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragment 99a, line 3

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragment 24

Adrastus (Adrestos) 2

The son of Gordius and the grandson of the man with the Golden Touch, King Midas of Lydia.

Adrastus accidentally killed his brother and was banished from Phrygia by his father; he went to Lydia as a supplicant and was absolved of his blood-guilt by the king of Lydia, Kroesus (Croesus).

Kroesus had a dream that his son, Atys, was going to die on the point of an iron spear and became very protective of Atys; when Atys went to nearby Mysia to help rid that country of a rampaging wild boar, Kroesus ordered Adrastus to accompany Atys as his guardian and protector; during the hunt, Adrastus accidentally killed Atys with his iron spear just as the dream had predicted.

When he returned to Lydia, Adrastus confessed his guilt but Kroesus said that Atys's death was the will of the Immortals and that Adrastus was not to blame.

Adrastus believed that the accidental murder of his brother and Atys was nothing less than a curse and, to forestall any further innocent bloodshed, he committed suicide by cutting his own throat over Atys's grave.

Although his name is more properly rendered as Adrestos, it is generally translated as Adrastus.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.34-45

Adrastus (Adrestos) 3

A Trojan soldier killed by Agamemnon; Menelaos (Menelaus) encountered Adrastus on the battlefield of Troy after Adrastus had been thrown from his chariot; Adrastus clutched Menelaos's knees and begged to be taken captive and exchanged for a ransom of gold and silver; Menelaos agreed and was preparing to take Adrastus back to the ships when his brother, Agamemnon, came upon the scene; Agamemnon chided Menelaos for having pity and showing mercy to a Trojan man; Menelaos pushed Adrastus away and Agamemnon drove his spear into Adrastus's flank and then put his foot on Adrastus's chest and withdrew the spear from the corpse.

Although his name is more properly rendered as Adrestos, it is generally translated as Adrastus.

The Iliad (Lattimore), book 6, lines 37, 45 and 62

The Iliad (Loeb), book 6, lines 37, 45 and 63

The Iliad (Fagles), book 6, lines 46, 53 and 73

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 6, lines 42, 51 and 58

Adrastus (Adrestos) 4

A Trojan soldier killed by Patroklos (Patroclus); when Patroklos charged into the midst of the battle, Zeus drove fury into his heart; Adrastus was the first man Patroklos killed as he made his way to the gates of Troy; eight more men died at the hands of Patroklos before Apollon turned him away saying that the Trojans were not destined to fall before his spear.

Although his name is more properly rendered as Adrestos, it is generally translated as Adrastus.

The Iliad (Lattimore), book 16, (Adrestos) line 693

The Iliad (Loeb), book 16, (Adrastus) line 694

The Iliad (Fagles), book 16, (Adrestus) line 812

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 16, (Adrestos) line 795

Adrias

The ancient Greek name for the Adriatic Sea.

The body of water that separates Italy from modern Albania.

The Adriatic Sea is an extension of the Mediterranean Sea which separates Italy and the Balkan Peninsula.

Approximately 500 miles (805 kilometers) long and up to 140 miles (225 kilometers) wide.

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Adriatic Sea

The Adriatic Sea is an extension of the Mediterranean Sea which separates Italy and the Balkan Peninsula.

Approximately 500 miles (805 kilometers) long and up to 140 miles (225 kilometers) wide.

Called the Adrias by the ancient Greeks.

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Aea (Aia)

The original name for the land of Kolchis (Colchis).

An ancient country that bordered eastern edge of the Euxine (Black Sea) and south of the Caucasus Mountains.

Aea is best known as the land of the Golden Fleece and the realm of King Aietes (Aeetes).

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Aegaios's Son

Another name for Briareos; he and his brothers, Kottos (Cottos) and Gyes, are three of the most terrible creatures ever to be produced by Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (the Heavens).

Briareos and his brothers have fifty heads and fifty arms sprouting from their massive shoulders.

The Immortals use the name Briareos but mere mortals call him Aigaios's son.

When Briareos and his brothers were in the womb of Gaia, Ouranos would not let them be born; when they attempted to come out, Ouranos would push them back inside; it wasn't until the Titan, Kronos (Cronos), attacked and wounded his father, Ouranos, that the brothers were allowed to be free; Gaia made a sickle of flint and begged for one of her Titan children to attack Ouranos but only Kronos came to her aid; Kronos laid in ambush for his father and struck him down with the flint sickle; the three fifty-headed brothers were allowed to escape Gaia's womb and the blood of Ouranos created the Furies, the Giants, the Nymphs of the Ash Trees and the goddess of Love, Aphrodite.

Kronos had helped his mother, Gaia, free Briareos and his monstrous brothers but he feared their strength and was jealous of their beauty so he imprisoned them under the earth where they remained until the war between the Titans and the Olympians began.

Zeus, the son of Kronos, brought Briareos and his brothers back into the light and gave them nectar and ambrosia to renew their vitality; Briareos, Kottos and Gyes joined the Olympians in the war against the Titans.

After ten years of war, Zeus let loose all his fury and the earth and heavens trembled under his thunderbolts; at that moment, Briareos, Kottos and Gyes bombarded the rebel Titans with three-hundred boulders that buried them, thus ending the war.

Briareos was wedded to the daughter of Poseidon, Kymopolea (Cymopolea).

Briareos is also referred to as Obriareos.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 1, line 403

The Iliad (Fagles), book 1, line 479

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 1, line 463

Theogony, lines 149, 615, 712 and 817

Aegean Culture (Aigean Culture)

Pertaining to or denoting the prehistoric civilization that preceded the historic Hellenic period.

The Aegean Culture flourished on the various islands of the Aegean Sea, the island of Crete and in Argolis on the Peloponnesian eninsula.

Aegean Sea (Aigean Sea)

Aegean Sea

Aigaios Pontos; an arm of the Mediterranean Sea between the east coast of Greece and the west coast of Asia Minor and bounded on the south by the island of Crete.

Approximately 80,000 square miles (207,199 square kilometers) in area, i.e. 400 miles (644 kilometers) by 200 miles (322 kilometers).

Click on the above image to see a large, detailed map of the Aegean Sea.

Aegeus (Aigeus)

King Aegeus

King Aegeus with Medeia and Theseus

A king of Athens; the father of Theseus; Aegeus was the son of Pandion and the consort of Aethra (the mother of Theseus) and Medeia (the ex-wife of Jason).

Aegeus forced his brother, Lykus (Lycus), to flee Athens and settle in southern Asia Minor; Lykus and Aegeus lived one generation before Herakles (Heracles), circe 1300 BCE.

Aegeus is most noted as the father of Theseus; Aegeus left Aethra before Theseus was born and instructed her to place a sword and a pair of sandals under a boulder so that if and when Theseus was strong enough to move the boulder and remove the sword and sandals he would be manly enough to join his father in Athens and claim his royal inheritance.

When Theseus arrived in Athens as a young man bearing the sword and sandals Aegeus did not immediately recognize him; in the intervening years, Aegeus had married the sorceress, Medeia (Medea), and she knew exactly who Theseus was and began devising plans to dispose of him.

Medeia persuaded Aegeus to send Theseus to the plains of Marathon to capture a fierce bull that had been ravaging the countryside; Theseus successfully captured the bull and sacrificed it to Apollon.

Medeia then tried to poison Theseus but Aegeus finally recognized the sword that Theseus carried and saved him from Medeia's plotting.

When Androgeus, the son of King Minos of the island of Crete, attended the first Panathenaea in Athens he attracted the ire of Aegeus by winning all the prizes; Aegeus had Androgeus killed and King Minos waged war on Athens to avenge the death of his son; peace was won only with the promise that Athens would send seven young men and seven young women every year to Minos to be slain by the ungodly bull-monster known as the Minotaur; the tradition continued until Theseus successfully killed the Minotaur.

Theseus and his father had devised a signal by which Aegeus would be able to tell, by the color of the ship's sails, whether Theseus had defeated the Minotaur and was returning safely to Athens; Aegeus saw the ship in the distance and incorrectly interpreted the signal; thinking that Theseus was dead, he threw himself into the sea and drowned; this is perhaps the way the Aegean Sea got its name.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 1, line 265

The Iliad (Fagles), book 1, line 309

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 1, line 313

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.173

Shield of Herakles, line 182

Aegimius (Aigimios) 1

A king of the Dorians of the land of Hestiaeotis.

Aegimius is most noted for his alliance with Herakles (Hercules) in a war with the Lapithae; when the war between the Dorians and the Lapithae dwelling around Mount Olympos (Olympus) became unavoidable, the Dorians asked Herakles to come to their aid; the Dorians promised Herakles one third of their land if he would drive the Lapithae away.

The Lapithae were led by King Koronos (Coronus); Herakles killed Koronos and with the assistance of King Aegimius succeeded in forcing the Lapithae from the disputed land; as a reward, Herakles gave Aegimius one third of the land the Dorians gave him on the condition that Aegimius hold the land in trust for his (Herakles's) descendants; fifty years later, the descendants of Herakles returned and Aegimius, true to his promise, welcomed them.

Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, book IV.37 and IV.58

Pindar, Pythian Ode 1, line 64

Aegimius (Aigimios) 2

Aegimius was part of the Epic Cycle of poems and survives only in fragments.

Aegimius was the king of the Dorians and this poem is thought to be an account of his war with the Lapithae but the brevity of the fragments make that assumption simply an educated guess.

Fragment 1 mentions Phrixus and the Golden Fleece; Phrixus sacrificed the ram with the Golden Fleece and then purified it; he was then welcomed by King Aietes (Aeetes) of Kolchis (Colchis).

Fragment 2 says relates that the goddess Thetis had several children by King Peleus and would put them in a cauldron of water to see if they were mortal or immortal; many of them died; Peleus prevented her from throwing Achilles into the cauldron.

Fragment 3 is very interesting; Apollodorus of Athens mentions this fragment and reports that Hesiod and Akusilaus (Acusilaus) said that the Heifer-Maiden Io was the daughter of Peiren and a priestess of the goddess Hera; when Hera discovered that Zeus and Io were lovers, she touched Io and transformed her into a white cow; when Hera confronted Zeus, he lied and swore that he and Io were not lovers; Hesiod said that this is the reason that the Immortals do not punish men for lying about their secret deeds in matters of love.

Fragment 4 states that Zeus returned the Heifer-Maiden Io to her human form on the island of Abantis and then renamed the island Euboea meaning Island of Fine Cows.

Fragment 5 says that Hera placed Argus to watch over the Heifer-Maiden Io; Argos (Argus) is said to have only four eyes and due to the enchantment of Hera, never slept.

Fragment 6 is very brief and simply states that Hermes killed Argos who is called the herdsman of Heifer-Maiden Io.

Fragment 7 relates that the author of Aegimius was either Hesiod or Kerkops (Cercops) of Miletos (Miletus).

Fragment 8 says that the people who settled the island of Crete were called the Three-fold people, i.e. the Pelasgians, the Achaeans and the Dorians.

Aegina (Aigina) 1

A Nymph; one of the daughters of the river god, Asopos (Asopus), and the sister of Thebe, Kerkyra (Cercyra), Sinope and Antiope.

Aegina and Zeus were the parents of Aiakos (Aeacus); Aiakos and Endies were the parents of Peleus and Telamon and the grandparents of Achilles and Aias (Ajax).

Histories by Herodotus, book 5.80

Aegina (Aigina) 2

An island in the Saronic Gulf between Argolis and Attica, i.e. between the Greek mainland and the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Approximately 52 square miles (135 square kilometers) in area with a shoreline of approximately 35 miles (56 kilometers).

Named after the Nymph, Aegina; the island has been occupied since the Neolithic Period (3000 BCE) and was subsequently settled by the Minoans, the Achaeans (Achaians) and, finally, the Dorians.

After the defeat of the Persians in 480 BCE near the neighboring island of Salamis, the Athenians took control of Aegina and it ceased to be an independent state.

The island of Aegina was also the legendary home of the Myrmidons; Achilles, the son of Peleus, was the leader of the Myrmidons at the siege of the city of Troy.

Approximate East Longitude 23º 26' and North Latitude 37º 46'

Google Map

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 562

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 653

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 664

Eoiae, chapter 68(1), line 60

Hymn to Delian Apollon, line 31

Contest of Homer and Hesiod, line 331

Aegina (Aigina) 3

A city on the island of Aegina; located on the western side of the island.

Approximate East Longitude 23º 25' and North Latitude 37º 45'

Google Map

Great Eoiae, fragment 12

Aegis (Aigis)

Aegis

The shield of Zeus and Athene (Athena) with the severed head of the snake-headed Medusa as the dominate image and surrounded by scenes of warfare and carnage; the overall effect was to strike fear and panic into any foe.

The above image is a fragment of a marble replica of Athene's shield which was once displayed in the Parthenon with the statue of Athene Parthenos; during the Roman period, many small replicas of Athene's statue were made and this shield is the only surviving part of such a replica; this piece was found in Athens and dated to the third century BCE.

Aegisthus (Aigisthos)

The son of Thyestes and the cousin of Agamemnon; most notably, Aegisthus was the consort of Agamemnon's wife, Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), and Agamemnon's murderer.

When the Trojan War ended, Agamemnon returned home to Mycenae as a hero and did not realize that his cousin Aegisthus and his wife Klytemnestra were conspiring to murder him; Aegisthus and Klytemnestra both had reasons to hate Agamemnon but, as later events would prove, neither had the divine right to kill him.

The reasons for Aegisthus and Klytemnestra wanting to kill Agamemnon can be dated back many years before the actual murder; Agamemnon's father (Aegisthus's uncle) Atreus had killed Aegisthus's brothers and sisters as part of a blood feud he was having with Aegisthus's father, Thyestes; from Aegisthus point of view, Agamemnon's murder might have been a continuation of that blood feud; Klytemnestra was furious with Agamemnon because, prior to the Trojan War, he had lured their daughter Iphigenia to Aulis where the Greeks were planning to kill her as a sacrifice to appease Artemis (goddess of the Hunt); Artemis foiled the sacrifice but the fact that Agamemnon would take the life of his own daughter was a crime that Klytemnestra was not willing to forgive; also during Agamemnon's ten year absence, Aegisthus and Klytemnestra had become lovers and that assuredly influenced their decision to murder Agamemnon; regardless of their motivation, the murder of Agamemnon was not in accord with the wishes of Olympian Zeus.

When Aegisthus's intentions to kill Agamemnon became known to Zeus, he sent his messenger Hermes to Aegisthus; Hermes was very clear when he related Zeus's commandment not to kill Agamemnon but Aegisthus ignored Zeus's command and killed Agamemnon anyway.

The plot to kill Agamemnon was not a quick or hasty decision; Aegisthus, with the help of Klytemnestra, had been plotting the murder for at least two years before Agamemnon returned from Troy; Aegisthus set a lookout on the coast to watch for Agamemnon's ships and when he saw Agamemnon, the lookout rushed to Aegisthus with the news; Aegisthus sent chariots to the shore to transport Agamemnon and his men to a feast which had been prepared to supposedly celebrate their victory over the Trojans and their homecoming.

While they were feasting, Aegisthus and his henchmen attacked Agamemnon; the attack was sudden and took Agamemnon by surprise; the proud hero of the Trojan War was killed like an ox at slaughter; Agamemnon's men managed to fight back but when the fight was over, Aegisthus was the only survivor; Agamemnon, all of his men and all of Aegisthus's men were killed.

After the murder of Agamemnon, Aegisthus's fate was sealed; his crimes were threefold: 1) he seduced his cousin's wife, 2) he killed his cousin and 3) he disobeyed the commandment of Zeus; there was really no question as to what Aegisthus's fate would be.

Agamemnon's son Orestes was to be the instrument of retribution against Aegisthus; when his father was murdered, Orestes fled Mycenae and did not return until he had mentally and physically matured; Orestes killed Aegisthus without mercy and became famous throughout Greece for his courage and devotion to his father.

In The Odyssey we are told that Aegisthus set a trap for Agamemnon and killed him without the assistance of Klytemnestra but the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus is much more dramatic and has Klytemnestra single-handedly murdering Agamemnon while the captive sorceress, Kassandra (Cassandra), tries unsuccessfully to warn Agamemnon of his impending doom.

Aegisthus's death can be tentatively dated circa 1230 BCE, i.e. at least ten years after the end of the Trojan War.

Text References

Aegium

A town on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in the district of Achaea (Achaia) on the Gulf of Corinth; the Achaean League met there.

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Aegle 1

According to Apollonius of Rhodes, Aegle was one of the three daughters of Nix (Night) known collectively as the Hesperides; Aegle's sisters are: Eretheis and Hespere.

Aegle and her two sisters lived somewhere in the mysterious West and guarded the Golden Apples which were a wedding gift from Gaia (Earth) to Hera upon her wedding to Zeus.

The Eleventh Labor of Herakles (Heracles) was to retrieve the Golden Apples of the Hesperides.

When the Argonauts were stranded in the Libyan desert, they encountered the Hesperides; Aegle appeared as the trunk of a willow tree, Eretheis as an elm tree and Hespere as a poplar tree; Aegle told the story of how Herakles (Heracles) had killed the dragon that guarded the Golden Apples and had created a spring of fresh water by kicking a rock; she showed the Argonauts the spring that Herakles had created and the Argonauts drank their fill before they continued through the inhospitable desert.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 1422-1449

Theogony, line 215

Aegle 2

The daughter of Panopeus and one of the legal wives of the Athenian hero, Theseus.

In the fragmented remains of the Catalogues of Women, one of the fragments states that after Theseus deserted Ariadne, he married a woman named Aegle and that the tyrant, Peisistratos, had the lines concerning this marriage removed from the works of Hesiod.

Eoiae, fragment 76

Aegospotami (Aigospotami)

A river in ancient Thrake (Thrace) that flowed into the Hellespont.

The Athenian fleet was defeated near the mouth of the Aegospotami by the Spartan naval commander Lysander in the last battle of the Peloponnesian War in 405 BCE.

Histories by Herodotus, book 9.119

Hellenika, book 2, i 21 and 23

Aegyptus (Aigyptus) 1

The son of Belus and brother of Danaus; he was given Egypt to rule and the Egyptians were named after him.

Aegyptus was a descendant of the Heifer-Maiden, Io.

Aegyptus had fifty sons which were supposed to marry the fifty daughters of his brother, Danaus, but Danaus fled with his daughters to the city of Argos where he founded the nation of the Danaans.

The story of Danaus and his daughters was the theme of the play by Aeschylus, The Suppliants.

All but one of the sons of Aegyptus were killed on their wedding night by their brides; the surviving son, Lynkeus, was spared by his wife, Hypermnestra, against the orders of her father, Danaus.

Eoiae, fragment 17

Aegyptus (Aigyptus) 2

The ancient Greek name for Egypt; the name came from a descendant of the Heifer-Maiden Io, Aegyptus.

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Hymn to Dionysos, line 9

Aello

Aello

One of the two winged-women known as the Harpies.

Aello and her sister Okypete (Ocypete) are the daughters of Thaumas and Elektra (Electra).

Hesiod refers to them as "Harpies of the lovely hair, winged women soaring aloft like birds"; they are the sisters of the rainbow goddess, Iris, and are not described as the filthy monsters that we have come to imagine.

Their primary role in Greek mythology was to punish the blind seer, Phineus, on the island of Thynias; Phineus had been blinded by Zeus and, as a double punishment, Helios (Sun) had the Harpies steal his food; the winged sons of Boreas (North Wind), Kalais (Calais) and Zetes, chased away the Harpies and freed Phineus from his curse but Zeus would not allow the brothers to harm the Harpies.

Aello's name literally means Storm.

Theogony, line 267

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 2, lines 188, 252, 264, 276, 289, 298, 432 and 461

Aeneid

The epic poem by the Roman poet Virgil.

The Aeneid is the story of Aineias (Aeneas) which proceeds from the fall of the city of Troy to the eventual founding of Rome by Troy's survivors.

The Aeneid was written between the years 29-19 BCE during the reign of Augustus Caesar (Octavian) and was an undisguised attempt to re-instill the noble values on which Rome had been founded and to give new faith to the people of Rome after the flagrant excesses of Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius.

The Greeks, who defeated the Trojans, are portrayed as villains while Aineias and his followers are portrayed as defeated, but not disgraced, noble warriors who suffered many trials as they traveled the seas from Troy to the mouth of the Tiber River and established the foundations of what would become the mighty empire of Rome.

The Greek heroes such as Menelaos (Menelaus) and Diomedes are depicted as butchers and cowards; graceful Immortals, such as Iris and Pallas Athena (Athene), are given a dark countenance that is unflattering and sinister.

There are many excellent characters in this story including the Amazon-like warrior Camilla and the tragic queen of Carthage, Dido.

The Roman goddess of Love, Venus, is not very lovely in this story; Venus is portrayed as a trickster and devoid of any sympathy or conscience as she enchants Dido and leaves her heartbroken and suicidal.

The Aeneid is unfinished; Virgil had intended to devote three more years to its completion but died before he could complete the final draft; after Virgil's death, Augustus Caesar had the poem copied and distributed under the title, Aineis.

I highly recommend the Robert Fitzgerald translation of The Aeneid which can be found at your library or you can order this book from the Book Shop on this site.

Aeolia (Aiolia)

The floating island abode of Aeolus (Aeolos), Lord of the Winds.

Aeolus lives on Aeolia with his wife and twelve children, six sons and six daughters; the sons became the consorts of the daughters and they all live peacefully on the seemingly magical island; the island of Aeolia is enclosed in bronze and has sheer cliffs to protect it from the waves.

Aeolia is the island on which Odysseus and his crew landed while they were lost in the Mediterranean Sea; Odysseus and his crew stayed with Aeolus and his family for a month; Aeolus graciously entertained Odysseus and, in return, Odysseus told Aeolus tales of the Trojan War, the ships of the Argives and the homecoming of the Achaeans (Achaians).

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 10, lines 1 and 55

The Odyssey (Fagles and Fitzgerald), book 10, lines 1 and 61

Aeolians

One of the four main divisions of the prehistoric Greeks, i.e. Dorian, Achaean (Achaian), Aeolian and Ionian.

The Aeolians settled the island of Lesbos, Aeolis and parts of central Greece.

Aeolic

The dialect of the Greek language as spoken in Aeolis, Boeotia, Thessaly and on the island of Lesbos.

Aeolis

An ancient coastal region and Greek colony in northwest Asia Minor which was named after the original Greek colonists, the Aeolians.

Aeolus (Aiolos) 1

The eponymous founder of the Aeolian nation; a son of Hellen and father of Alkyone (Alcyone), Athamas, Kalyke (Calyce), Kanake (Canace), Makareus (Macareus), Salmoneus and Sisyphus; his brothers were Xuthus and Doris.

Aeolus (Aiolos) 2

Aeolus

Aeolus is the son Hippotas and resides on a floating island named Aeolia; Zeus gave Aeolus the powers to command the winds and, as Lord of the Winds, Aeolus could make the winds as mild or as fierce as he desired.

Aeolus lives on Aeolia with his wife and twelve children, six sons and six daughters; the sons became the consorts of the daughters and they all live peacefully on the seemingly magical island; the island of Aeolia is enclosed in bronze and has sheer cliffs to protect it from the waves.

Odysseus and his crew stayed with Aeolus and his family for a month; Aeolus graciously entertained Odysseus and, in return, Odysseus told Aeolus tales of the Trojan War, the ships of the Argives and the homecoming of the Achaeans (Achaians).

When Odysseus asked Aeolus for assistance in finding his way back to Ithaka, Aeolus agreed to help; he put the winds he commanded into a bag which was made from the skin of a nine-year ox and secured it in the hull of Odysseus's ship with a silver string; Aeolus instructed Odysseus not to open the bag of winds; his instructions were clear, Odysseus was not to open the bag even a little; Aeolus then set Zephyros (West Wind) to speed Odysseus on his way home; Odysseus's crew only knew that Aeolus had given Odysseus a bag but they did not know what was in the bag or of Aeolus's instructions; after ten days at sea, the island of Ithaka was sighted; Odysseus was so close to the island that he could see people on the shore tending their fires; at the sight of his home, Odysseus fell into an exhausted sleep because he had been personally tending the sails so that they would arrive home as quickly as possible; as Odysseus slept, members of the crew began to speculate as to the riches Aeolus might have put in the mysterious bag; the crew finally opened the bag but, instead of finding treasure, they unleashed the winds which drove them back to the island of Aeolia; this time, Aeolus refused to help Odysseus and he was forced to venture back out on the sea without guidance or a favorable wind.

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 10, lines 1, 36, 43 and 60; book 11, line 237

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 10, lines 2, 36, 44 and 60; book 11, line 237

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 10, lines 1, 41, 48 and 66; book 11, line 270

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 10, lines 2, 41, 48 and 66; book 11, line 270

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 764-5

Aeolus (Aiolos) 3

The son of Kretheus (Cretheus) and the father of Aeson, thus he was the grandfather of the famous adventurer, Jason.

Aeon

An eon; a space of time; an age.

Aer

Air; the lower atmosphere as opposed to the Aither, which is the Purer Brighter Air of the upper atmosphere.

Aerope

The wife of Atreus who was seduced by her brother-in-law, Thyestes.

When Atreus found out about this betrayal he banished Thyestes and according to the tragic poet, Aeschylus, Atreus killed all but one of Thyestes's children and fed them to him at a feast.

The only surviving child Aegisthus (Aigisthos), was instrumental in the murder of Atreus's son, Agamemnon.

As a form of justice, Agamemnon's son, Orestes, murdered Aegisthus.

Eoiae, fragment 68 ii

Aeschines 1

A son of the last king of the city of Troy, Priam.

According to the Roman poet, Ovid, Aeschines threw himself into the sea after the death of his beloved Hesperia and was changed into a bird by the goddess Thetis.

Aeschines 2

(389-314 BCE) An Athenian orator and bitter a rival of Demosthenes.

Aeschines began his public career circa 350 BCE; this was during the tumultuous period in which Philip II of Macedon was trying to gain sovereignty over all the Greek cities; Aeschines sought to negotiate a peace that the Athenians and Philip would ratify but only succeeded in becoming the bitter rival of the eloquent statesman, Demosthenes; when Demosthenes and another Athenian named Timarchus suspected that Aeschines was trying to delay the peace process (334 BCE) they publicly accused him of treason; Aeschines successfully defended himself against the charge but Demosthenes would not let the matter rest; another accusation of treason was made against Aeschines and he again successfully defended himself; the speeches which Aeschines delivered in his defense are extant and called Against Timarchus and On the False Embassy.

The enmity between Aeschines and Demosthenes was now well established so when Demosthenes was selected to receive a golden crown for his service to Athens, Aeschines was quick to denounce the affair as being illegal; at the trial of Demosthenes, Aeschines delivered a speech which is called Against Ktesiphon (Ctesiphon) which denounced Demosthenes and the man who had suggested the golden crown, Ktesiphon; Demosthenes successfully rebutted the accusations with an extant speech called On the Crown; Aeschines was completely discredited by the trial of Demosthenes and in 336 BCE left Athens; he established a school of rhetoric on the island of Rhodes and later moved to the island of Samos where he died in 314 BCE.

Aeschines 3

One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BCE).

Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy; an oligarchy is a system of government allowing a few select people or families to rule a city or region based on the assumption that their bloodline or intellect gave them a superior predisposition and right to rule.

The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence; open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.

Hellenica, book 2.3

Aeschylus

The renowned Athenian playwright whose career spanned thirty years (484-455 BCE).

Aeschylus was born in Eleusis circa 512 BCE and died in Gela, on the island of Sicily, circa 455 BCE; his grave marker declared him to be an Athenian veteran of the battle of Marathon (490 BCE).

Aeschylus is said to have written as many as seventy plays but only seven have survived; his extant plays are tragic works that include: The Suppliants, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound, Agamemnon, the Libation Bearers and the Eumenides.

All the plays are excellent and should be read by even the casual student of Greek literature; my favorites are Prometheus Bound and the trilogy known as Oresteia, which includes: Agamemnon, the Libation Bearers and the Eumenides.

The reconstruction of the lost play Achilles by Aeschylus has finally been completed; the trilogy will be performed by the THOC (Cyprus National Theater Company directed by Andy Bargilly) on the island of Cyprus in the Summer of 2004; it was the custom of the ancient Egyptians to wrap their mummies with papyrus and, over the past few decades, fragments of the play, Achilles, have been found in this fashion; finally, enough fragmented portions of the play have been unearthed to reconstruct the lost trilogy; the Greek writer, Elias Malandris, has worked on the reconstruction of the play for over a decade and has humbly, and honestly, stated that the play is simply a faithful adaptation of the original work; the text of the play is currently unavailable.

For a more complete biography of Aeschylus I suggest The Complete Greek Tragedies, Aeschylus I and II, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, ISBN 0226307786 and 0226307948; you can find these books at your library in the 800 section or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site.

Aeson (Aison)

The son of Kretheus (Cretheus) and Tyro and the brother of Athamas.

Aeson was the father of the famous adventurer, Jason, but there are two conflicting stories as to who Jason's mother actually was:

1) Aeson and Alkimede (Alcimede) were the parents of Jason; and

2) Aeson and Polymede were the parents of Jason.

When news was received that the Jason and the Argonauts were returning from their Quest for the Golden Fleece, Aeson was forced to commit suicide by his step-brother, Pelias; this prompted Jason's sorceress wife, Medeia (Medea), to trick the daughters of Pelias into thinking that they could restore their father's youth by chopping him up and boiling him in a magic potion; the trick worked and Aeson's death was avenged.

Theogony, lines 991-1001

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 46 and 253

Eoiae, fragment 13

Aesop (Aesopos)

The famous writer of fables, circa 620-560 BCE.

Ironically, the only real information we have about the life of Aesop is due to his enslavement to a man named Iadmon from the island of Samos; the historian Herodotus simply says that Aesop was a "story teller" and mentioned him only in reference to the famous courtesan, Rhodopis.

Aesop's stories were morality tales involving animals who spoke and displayed all manner of human characteristics.

The fables of Aesop seem to have been very popular in Athens as he is mentioned several times by the comic poet, Aristophanes.

Aesop lived at the time of the Seven Sages; these seven men were renown for their wisdom but Aesop used his clever wit to poke fun at these famous men; Diodorus Siculus quotes Aesop as saying that the Seven Sages did not know how to act in the company of rulers because a man should either associate with rulers as little as possible or, when in their presence, act with as much grace as possible; Aesop was referring to an incident involving the famous Athenian law maker, Solon; when Solon was at Sardis in Lydia, he had a brief interview with King Kroesus (Croesus); Kroesus was aware of Solon's reputation and tried to impress him with his wealth; he asked Solon who he thought was the most blessed man in the world because Kroesus fully expected Solon to bestow that honor on him; Solon did not please Kroesus with his answer because he named three men who he thought had lived and died well and were indeed blessed by the Immortals; he went on to explain that a man's life could not be judged until after his death because seemingly rich men are merely lucky but might still die without honor whereas a poor man who died as nobly as he had lived was truly blessed; according to Aesop, Solon would have been better off to either have never spoken to Kroesus or to have given the egotistical king an answer more to his liking.

When you encounter a book of Aesop's fables, you will notice that each fable is followed by a moral; the morals were added over the ages by unknown authors; some of the morals date from the time of Alexander the Great (circa 350 BCE) and others were added at a later date; the morals seem to have been added as a quick reference for public speakers who wanted to use one of Aesop's fables to make a point in a concise and humorous way.

I personally recommend Aesop: Complete Fables by Robert Temple and Olivia Temple (ISBN 0140446494) which can be found at your local library or can be ordered from the Book Shop on this site.

Histories by Herodotus, book 2.134

Aristophanes, Wasps and Birds

Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, book IX.28

Aesthetic

A person who is sensitive to art, beauty, love or truth; literally, one who perceives.

From the Greek word, Aisthetikos, i.e. relating to perceptions of the senses.

Aethiopis (Aithiopis)

The Aethiopis; one of the lost poems of the Epic Cycle.

According to the sixth century CE Greek writer, Proklos (Proclus), The Aethiopis told the story of the death of the Amazon queen, Penthesilea, and Memnon, the Ethiopian, at the hands of Achilles.

The few remaining fragments of The Aethiopis inform us that Penthesilea was an Amazon and a daughter of Ares (god of War); she came to the aid of the Trojans when the Greeks assailed the city and was killed by Achilles; when Achilles was taunted by another Greek named Thersites for loving Penthesilea, Achilles killed him too.

To avert the anger of the other Greeks, Achilles was required to go to the island of Lesbos and sacrifice to Apollon, Artemis and Leto and then be absolved of his blood-guilt by Odysseus.

The next to die was the Greek soldier, Antilochus; he was killed by Memnon, a son of Eos (the Dawn) who wore armor fashioned by Hephaistos (Hephaestus); in revenge for the death of Antilochos, Achilles killed Memnon; Eos successfully petitioned Zeus to make Memnon immortal.

Achilles, in his zeal and bloodlust, rushed into the city of Troy and was attacked and killed by Alexandros (Paris) and Apollon; the Greeks put up a terrible fight to reclaim the body of Achilles; while Odysseus held the Trojans at bay, Aias (Ajax) carried the body back to the Greek encampment.

Before the Greeks could burn the body of Achilles, his mother Thetis, her sisters, the Nereids, and the Muses took his body to the White Island.

The woes for the Greeks were not over because Odysseus and Aias began to argue over Achilles's armor; Odysseus got the armor and Aias killed himself.

The death of Achilles and the dispute over his armor is a very confusing subject because several versions of the story exist but the one just cited is the account given in the Aethiopis.

For the complete translations of the Epic Cycle, including The Aethiopis, I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 57, ISBN 0674990633; you can sometimes find this book at the library or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site.

Aethon (Erysichthon)

Another name for Erysichthon, the son of Triopas and father of the shape-shifter, Mestra.

Erysichthon angered the goddess Demeter when he cut down one of her sacred groves; as punishment for his sacrilege, Demeter inflicted Erysichthon with an insatiable hunger; no matter how much he ate, Erysichthon was always at the point of starvation; in order to satisfy his unquenchable appetite, Erysichthon would sell his daughter Mestra and use the money to buy food; after being sold or promised in marriage for a dowry, Mestra would transform into an animal and return to Erysichthon so that they could repeat the same deception over and over again.

The clever scheme finally ended when Erysichthon promised Mestra to Glaukos (Glaucus), the son of the notorious trickster, Sisyphus (Sisyphos); Sisyphus was not a man to be manipulated, so he appealed to the goddess Athene (Athena) to deliberate the dispute with Erysichthon; Athene essentially said that "a deal is a deal" but Zeus wanted to further punish Mestra by declaring that the descendants of Glaukos would not be left among human beings.

Erysichthon ended his doomed life in Athens where he was cared for by Mestra.

Catalogue of Women (Aethon), fragments 69.5; 69.61; 70 and 71

Catalogue of Women (Erysichthon), fragment 70

Catalogue of Women (Triopas's son), fragment 69.3

Aethra (Aithre)

The daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen and the consort of King Aegeus of Athens; Aethra was the mother of the hero, Theseus.

Aethra and Theseus

Aethra and Theseus

King Aegeus was traveling on the Peloponnesian Peninsula and came to a small city named Troezen; the king had previously received an oracle from Delphi commanding him not to cavort with any woman until he returned to Athens but he thought the oracle was obscure; he told King Pittheus of Troezen about the oracle and asked what it might mean; Pittheus in some way convinced Aegeus to ignore the obvious message and share the bed of a local woman; it wasn't until later that Aegeus found out that "the local woman" was Princess Aethra, King Pittheus's daughter.

Aegeus suspected that he had impregnated Aethra and hoped that their child would be a son; he hid a sword and a pair of sandals under a large stone and told Aethra where they were concealed; his intention was that if their child was a son, Aethra was to show him where the tokens were hidden when he came to manhood; if he could move the stone and remove the sword and sandals, Aethra was to send him to Athens; she was also instructed to be as secretive as possible about her son's true identity.

King Pittheus was also in on the secret; when the boy was born, Pittheus let it be known that Poseidon (lord of the Sea) was the father; this was believable to the people of Troezen because Poseidon was their patron god.

Theseus grew to manhood and Aethra showed him where the sword and sandals were hidden; Theseus lifted the stone and removed the sword and sandals; Aethra told him the identity of his father and he immediately set out for Athens to claim his royal birthright.

After a few heroic adventures, Theseus arrived safely in Athens; he became king after Aegeus died and several years later involved Aethra in a rather dastardly scheme; Theseus and King Peirithoos (Peirithous) of the Lapithae in Thessaly had become presumptuous in thinking that they were above the law; they were visiting Sparta and saw King Tyndareus's daughter dancing at the temple of Artemis; the young girl was none other than Helen, who ten years later would become Helen of Troy.

Theseus and Peirithoos escaped with Helen and made there way west with the Spartans in hot pursuit; when they got as far as Tegea, their pursuers turned back; they decided to draw lots to see who would "marry" Helen; the winner was obliged to help the loser find a wife; Theseus won the draw and took Helen to the town of Aphidnae; he placed his mother Aethra and a friend named Aphidnus as guardians while he and Peirithoos blundered on to their next fiasco.

The search for Helen was begun by her brothers Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces); they had a considerable army with them; when they reached Athens they threatened to raze the city unless their sister was surrendered; most of the Athenians did not know where Helen was being held prisoner but a man named Akademus (Academus), for whom the Academy of Athens was named, had somehow learned where Helen was being held; Kastor and Polydeukes stormed Aphidnae and rescued Helen.

It has been said that Aethra was captured and taken back to Sparta, that seems possible; it has also been conjectured that Aethra was forced to accompany Helen when she went to Troy because a woman named Aethra was mentioned in The Iliad as one of Helen's handmaidens, this seems unlikely because Aethra was probably twenty years old when Theseus was born and forty when Theseus kidnapped Helen and thus fifty when the Trojan war started and then sixty with the war ended; the Aethra in The Iliad seems to be presented as a woman about the same age as Helen, a role that is just too young for Aethra, Theseus's mother.

Aetna (Etna)

Mount Aetna

Mount Aetna (Mount Etna); an active volcano on the eastern side of the island of Sicily.

With a height of 10,902 feet (3,323 meters), Mount Aetna is the highest active volcano in Europe.

Approximate East Longitude 14º 59' 42.5'' and North Latitude 37º 44' 58''

Google Map

Aetolia (Aitolia)

An ancient coastal district in western Greece bounded by the river Achelous on the west and the Gulf of Patrae on the south.

The most famous city in Aetolia was Kalydon (Calydon); besides their habitations on the Greek mainland, the Aetolians had one city on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, i.e. Elis.

The author of the Catalogues of Women disputes a claim of the poet, Hesiod, and says that the city of Alus in Aetolia was founded by Poseidon, lord of the Sea.

Google Map

Histories by Herodotus, book 6.127; book 8.73

Catalogues of Women, fragment 6

Aetolian League (Aitolian League)

After the death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE), the various cities of Aetolia formed a confederacy that was governed by an Assembly of all free citizens.

A military general was elected annually to head the Assembly and councils were formed but the Assembly retained the power of war and peace.

The Aetolian League expanded its territory to include the city of Delphi in 290 BCE and by 220 BCE controlled most of central Greece outside Attica.

Aetolus (Aitolos)

The son of Endymion and Kalyke (Calyce).

Aetolus was the founder of the nation of Aetolia which was an ancient coastal district in western Greece bounded by the river Achelous on the west and the Gulf of Patrae on the south; the most famous city in Aetolia was Kalydon (Calydon).

Agamede

The daughter of Augeas; Agamede was noted for her skill at using herbs for healing.

Agamedes

Agamedes and his brother, Trophonius, were the sons of Erginos; they were renowned architects and credited with building the temple of Apollon in the city of Delphi.

Agamedes and his brother were also said to have built the treasury of Hyrieus (or Augeas) and to have designed it in such a way that they could come back later and rob it.

During the attempted robbery, Agamedes became ensnared in a trap inside the treasury and Trophonius was unable to free him; in a desperate attempt to conceal his brother's identity, Trophonius cut off Agamedes's head; afterwards, near the city of Lebadeia in Boeotia, Trophonius was swallowed by the earth and an oracular site was established in his name; supplicants would enter the cave and, after receiving the prophecies and omens imparted by Trophonius, would emerge pale and shaken.

Agamemnon 1

Agamemnon

Agamemnon was the king of the city of Mycenae and ruler of the district of Argos on the Peloponnesian Peninsula; he was also the commander of the Achaean (Achiean) army in the Trojan War.

Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and brother of Menelaos (Menelaus) and Anaxibia; his name literally means Very Steadfast.

With his wife Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), Agamemnon had several daughters and one son: Chrysothemis, Iphianassa (Iphigenia), Laodike (Laodice), Elektra (Electra) and Orestes; Klytemnestra was the half-sister of the infamous Helen of Argos and although it was indirect, the relationship with Helen provided the link between Agamemnon and the Trojan War.

Helen was a daughter of Zeus but was raised by Klytemnestra's father, King Tyndareus (Tyndareos) of Sparta; Tyndareus quickly realized that Helen had a devastating effect on men so before he would allow her to marry, he made all the suitors take an oath that if Helen was ever taken from her rightful husband, all of the suitors would come to her rescue.

Agememnon's brother Menelaos was one of Helen's suitors but for some reason Menelaos had Agamemnon go to Sparta in his stead with gifts for Tyndareus and Helen's family; Tyndareus chose Menelaos to marry Helen and Menelaos became the next king of Sparta.

Just as Tyndareus feared, Helen was taken from her home by Prince Alexandros (Paris) of Troy; Helen was not immoral or unfaithful, she was enchanted by Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and simply a pawn in the maneuvering of the Immortals to rid the earth of the demigods, i.e. the children of the Immortals and human women.

Since Agamemnon was the most powerful king in Greece, he took command of the army which was formed to go to Troy and retrieve Helen and her dowry.

An armada of over 1000 ships sailed for Troy but were delayed at the port city of Aulis when Boreas (North Wind) would not let the ships leave the harbor; Agamemnon had offended the goddess Artemis (goddess of the Hunt) and Boreas was doing the bidding of Artemis by keeping the fleet at Aulis; the seer Kalchas (Calchas) said that unless Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphianassa to the goddess Artemis, the fleet would not be allowed to sail to Troy; Agamemnon had Iphianassa brought to Aulis on the pretext that she was to marry Achilles; when the time for the sacrifice came, Artemis took Iphianassa from the altar and substituted a deer in her stead; Iphianassa was saved from the cruel sacrifice but the deed would later come back to haunt Agamemnon and cost him the love of his wife and, consequently, his life.

The fleet finally arrived at Troy and the siege of the city began; the siege continued for nine years without any sort of victory for either side; in the tenth year of the war, Agamemnon made a two fateful errors in judgment by offending the god Apollon and the finest warrior in the Achaean army, Achilles.

The incident involved two slave girls, Chryseis and Briseis; Chryseis was the daughter of a priest of Apollon named Chryses; the priest came to Agamemnon as a supplicant and begged for the return of his young daughter; Agamemnon refused to return Chryseis and threatened her father with violence; Chryses prayed to Apollon and the god stood offshore and showered the Achaean encampment with arrows; the seer Kalchas hesitantly told Agamemnon that Apollon would continue to harass the Achaeans until Chryseis was returned to her father.

Agamemnon, Chryses and Chryseis

The above image shows Chryses begging Agamemnon for the return of Chryseis.

Agamemnon agreed to return the girl and made elaborate sacrifices to appease Apollon; Agamemnon was still angry about losing Chryseis and decided to take a captive girl named Briseis away from Achilles; Achilles was furious but gave Briseis to Agamemnon without a fight but announced that he and his troops would not fight for Agamemnon and that no apology or act of contrition could end the dispute.

Without Achilles, the Trojans began to win more and more battles until finally Agamemnon sent emissaries to Achilles to beg his forgiveness; Agamemnon offered Achilles one of his daughters as a wife and also promised him many fine gifts as well as a rich and fertile portion of his kingdom if he would forgive the insult and return to the fighting; Achilles refused but, although he did return to the fighting of his own accord, never forgave Agamemnon for insulting him.

Even with Achilles back in the fighting, the war could not be won by the massive Achaean army; finally, the goddess Athene (Athena) inspired a man named Epeios (Epeius) to suggest that they build a Wooden Horse to fool the Trojans and gain access to the city; the Achaeans built a large, hollow Wooden Horse in which they could hide some of their best warriors; the horse was then left in front of the gates of Troy with the assumption that the Trojans would take it into the city as a trophy; the Greeks simply called it the Wooden Horse but it has now become as the Trojan Horse.

When the Trojan Horse was in place outside the gates of Troy, Agamemnon moved the Achaean fleet to a nearby island out of sight of the Trojans; once the Trojan Horse was inside the city, the soldiers who had been concealed inside emerged to catch the Trojans off-guard; once the gates were opened to the Achaean army, the city was overrun and the walls were toppled.

During the final siege of Troy, the temple of Athene was plundered and damaged; Agamemnon insisted on staying at Troy to offer sacrifices which might appease the goddess but his brother Menelaos refused to stay and left with his slaves and plunder.

Agamemnon had survived ten long years of brutal fighting and thought that the end of the war meant an end to danger; he was therefore not prepared for the deadly betrayal of his wife and cousin when he returned to Mycenae; his cousin Aegisthus (Aigisthos) and his wife Klytemnestra had been plotting Agamemnon's murder for several years and were ready to kill him as soon as he returned from the war; Aegisthus set a lookout on the coast to watch for Agamemnon's ships and when he saw Agamemnon, the lookout rushed to Aegisthus with the news; Aegisthus sent chariots to the shore to transport Agamemnon and his men to a feast which had been prepared to supposedly celebrate their victory over the Trojans and their homecoming.

While they were feasting, Aegisthus and his henchmen attacked Agamemnon; the attack was sudden and took Agamemnon by surprise, he was killed before he had a chance to defend himself and was slain like an ox at slaughter; Agamemnon's men managed to fight back but when the fight was over, Aegisthus was the only survivor; Agamemnon, all of his men and all of Aegisthus's men were killed.

Agamemnon's murder occurred soon after the end of the Trojan War which would have been circa 1240 BCE; Agamemnon's murder was avenged by his son Orestes.

Orestes, Elektra and Pylades at the tomb of Agamemnon

The above image shows Orestes, Elektra and Pylades at the tomb of Agamemnon.

Agamemnon 2

One of the seven surviving tragedies by the Athenian playwright Aeschylus.

Cast of Characters:

Klytemnestra (Clytaemestra) — Wife of Agamemnon

Agamemnon — King of Mycenae

Kassandra (Cassandra) — Daughter of King Priam of Troy

Aegisthus (Aigisthos) — The cousin of Agamemnon and consort of Klytemnestra

Agamemnon is the first in the Oresteia trilogy dealing with the murder of Agamemnon and the revenge meted out by his son, Orestes.

This play is set at Agamemnon's home where he returns, after a ten year absence, triumphant from his sack of the city of Troy; Agamemnon's wife, Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), knows that her husband's fate is sealed and that he will die before the sun sets; when Agamemnon enters he is accompanied by the daughter of the dead king of Troy, Kassandra (Cassandra); she has the ability to predict the future but she has also been cursed by Apollon and no one believes her prophecies; Agamemnon ignores Kassandra's warnings and is lured into his house where Klytemnestra murders him without mercy.

There is an interesting element to this play that deserves to be noted: at the beginning of the play, a watchman is stationed on the walls of Agamemnon's home to watch for a signal fire that will signify the end of the Trojan War; a series of fires were to be set on various islands and promontories from Troy to Agamemnon's home in Mycenae; this is an inventive example of sending a message (information) at the speed of light at a distance of over 200 miles (322 kilometers) at a time when it was believed that the fastest mode of communication was by horseback.

The other two plays in this trilogy are The Libation Bearers (Choephore) and The Eumenides.

The story of Agamemnon is a fine story and well worth reading; if you wish to read this play I suggest The Complete Greek Tragedies, Aeschylus I, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, ISBN 0226307786; you can find this book at your library in the 800 section or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site.

Agariste

The wife of Xanthippus and the mother of the great Athenian statesman, Pericles.

Agasikles (Agasicles)

The thirteenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta (ruled circa 575-550 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Very little is known about Agasikles and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Agathokles (Agathocles)

(361-289 BCE) A tyrant of Syracuse; the son of a successful pottery maker named Karkinus (Carcinus); Agathokles was a native of the island of Sicily; born in the city of Thermae circa 361 BCE.

Agathokles was raised in the city of Syracuse during the reign of Timoleon and demonstrated his military skill and political ambitions while still a young man.

After the death of Timoleon (circa 300 BCE), Agathokles was banished by the oligarchy and took refuge in southern Italy; he helped organize the defense of his father's hometown of Rhegium from aggression by Syracuse and thereby toppled the oligarchy which had banished him.

Agathokles returned briefly to Syracuse but was soon again banished; this time he did not flee Sicily but instead organized a revolt and overthrew the government of Syracuse and was elected strategos with powers exceeding those of a mere general.

This time Agathokles did not trust the workings of the oligarchy so he instituted a military coup and assumed complete control of the government which resulted in the murder or banishment of all the previous members of the oligarchy.

With or without the support of the populace, Agathokles was now the undisputed tyrant of Syracuse; he immediately began a campaign against several cities which he felt were politically dangerous to him in that they gave refuge to members of the oligarchy which he had banished.

The African city of Carthage had a considerable interest in the politics of the island of Sicily and in 314 BCE, at the request of the city of Messana, the Carthaginians brokered a peace in which they would retain control of eastern Sicily but Agathokles would control the eastern Greek colony cities.

In 311 BCE, in violation of the treaty with Carthage, Agathokles tried unsuccessfully to gain control of the entire island of Sicily; his defeat encouraged the Carthaginians to march against Syracuse; in a desperate, or perhaps inspired, maneuver Agathokles left the defense of Syracuse to his brother and personally took an army to Africa to attack Carthage; the war went poorly on both fronts and Agathokles was obliged to divide his attention between the defense of Syracuse and the assault on Carthage.

Finally, in 306 BCE, another peace agreement was reached with the Carthaginians with essentially the same boundaries as the previous treaty.

Circa 300 BCE, Agathokles began a campaign of conquest in southern Italy which was somewhat successful; he ventured as far east as the island of Kerkyra (Corcyra).

Agathokles was assassinated circa 289 BCE and, as a testament to his despicable reputation, an attempt was made to have his name erased from all public records.

Agathon 1

A poet and dramatist whose works only survive in fragments; circa 450-400 BCE.

Agathon was mentioned and lampooned by other poets, such as Aristophanes, and mentioned by Plato in Symposium.

Agathon was noted as an innovator in the style and presentation of his tragedies by changing the role of the chorus and the character of the music which accompanied his plays.

Agathon 2

One of the sons of the last king of the city of Troy, Priam.

After Priam's favorite son, Hector, had been killed defending Troy, Priam berated his nine remaining sons for being wicked and worthless; Agathon was one of these sons; whether the old king spoke in desperate sorrow or from his heart is impossible to tell.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 24, line 249

The Iliad (Fagles), book 24, line 295

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 24, line 301

Agathon 3

One of the sons of the Athenian playwright, Sophocles and the half-brother of Sophocles's other son, Iophon.

Agathon was the father of the younger Sophocles who, in 401 BCE, produced his grandfather's play, Oedipus at Kolonus (Colonus).

Agaue (Agave) 1

One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.

Her name is translated in a variety of ways; in The Iliad by Lattimore and Fitzgerald her name is spelled Agaue; Fagles renders her name as Brilliance; the Loeb translation of The Iliad uses Agave but the Loeb translation of Theogony uses Agaue; the Liddell and Scott Lexicon defines her name as Illustrious or Noble.

Other than a passing reference to her name, the only Nereid to receive any individual attention in the ancient literature was Thetis; as the mother of Achilles and one of the few goddesses to refuse the amorous intentions of Zeus, Thetis was unique; when the Immortals needed the Nereids, they called upon Thetis to rally her sisters for whatever task was needed.

The Nereids and the Argonauts - After Jason and the Argonauts had taken the Golden Fleece from Kolchis (Colchis), Medeia (Medea), the daughter of King Aietes (Aeetes), helped Jason murder her half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus) in a rather cowardly way; Zeus swore revenge for such a dastardly act but his sister/wife Hera wanted to protect the Argonauts until Jason and Medeia could be absolved of their crime by the Dread-Goddess Kirke (Circe); Hera called upon Thetis to gather the Nereids so they could quiet the waters of the sea so the Argonauts could safely navigate to Kirke's island; Thetis plunged into the sea and called to her sisters; her call was answered and the Nereids helped save the Argonauts.

The Nereids at the funeral of Patroklos (Patroclus) - In the last year of the Trojan War, Achilles's companion Patroklos was killed; Achilles took Patroklos's death very hard and called out to his mother Thetis for consolation; Thetis and the Nereids rose from the sea and graced the dead body of Patroklos with their divine presence.

The Nereids at the funeral of Achilles - The death of Achilles was one of the most dramatic events of the Trojan War; as the son of Thetis, his death had particular significance to the Nereids; at the funeral of Achilles, Thetis, the Nereids and the Muses all came to pay their respects.

Theogony, line 247

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 18, line 42

The Iliad (Fagles), book 18, line 49

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 18, line 47

Agaue (Agave) 2

One of the daughters of Harmonia and Kadmos (Cadmus); the sister of Ino, Polydoros (Polydorus), Thyone (Semele) and Autonoe.

Theogony, line 976

Age of Bronze

The Bronze generation was the third generation of mortal men upon the earth and the first race to be created by Zeus; the time in which they lived was called the Bronze Age.

The first generation of mortals was called the Golden generation and were created by the Immortals when Kronos (Cronos) ruled in heaven; after the demise of the Golden generation, the Immortals created a second generation of mortals which was called the Silver generation; after the Silver generation was covered by the earth, the Bronze generation became the dominate race of mortals.

The Bronze Age mortals were made from the ash spear; their weapons, tools and dwellings were made of bronze; the Bronze Age mortals were inferior to the Silver generation and were terrible and strong; they loved the woeful violent deeds of Ares (god of War).

The Bronze Age men ate no bread and their hearts were hard and fearful; they finally extinguished themselves and passed into the chill House of Hades (lord of the Underworld); their strength could not save them from the grasp of Thanatos (Death) and they left no name as they departed the sunlight forever.

Works and Days, lines 140-154

Age of Gold

The first generation of mortal men to live on the earth was created by the Immortals when Kronos (Cronos) was reigning in heaven; they were called the Golden generation and the time in which they lived was known as the Golden Age.

The Golden generation lived like gods; they had no sorrows and were free from all grief and toil; all plants and animals were theirs for the taking and they lived and feasted beyond the reach of all evils.

The Golden generation was truly loved by the Immortals and after a life of ease and peace, they died as though they were overcome with sleep; the earth eventually covered them but they remained as pure spirits dwelling on the earth; they are kindly spirits who assume the role of guardians of mortal men; they roam everywhere over the earth clothed in mist as givers of wealth and keeping watch over judgments and cruel deeds.

Works and Days, lines 109-121

Age of Heroes

The Age of Heroes denotes the time was when a generation of demigods populated the earth; demigods were the male children of an Immortal and a mortal; the Heroes were the forth generation of mortal men upon the earth and the second generation to be created by Zeus.

The first two generations of mortal men were created by the Immortals when Kronos (Cronos) was reigning in heaven; the third generation was created by Zeus; the first generation was called the Golden generation, the second was called the Silver generation and the third was called the Bronze generation; after the Bronze generation was covered by the earth, Zeus created the Heroes.

The Trojan War began circa 1250 BCE and occurred in the final stages of the Age of Heroes; most of the Heroes were destroyed in grim warfare; some were killed at Thebes fighting for the sons of King Oedipus; many more were killed at Troy fighting to return Helen to her rightful husband; the remainder of the Heroes were given an abode by Zeus on the Islands of the Blessed to live without sorrow along the shore of deep-swirling Okeanos (Ocean); although they were far from the immortal Gods, the Heroes lived happy lives eating honey-sweet fruit which ripened three times each year; Zeus also placed his banished father Kronos on the Islands of the Blessed to rule over the Heroes.

Works and Days, lines 156-169

Age of Iron

The Age of Iron began shortly after the Trojan War ended (circa 1240 BCE); we are currently living in the Age of Iron which makes us a part of what might be called the Iron generation; we are of the fifth generation of mortals to walk the earth and the second mortal race to be created by Zeus.

The poet Hesiod lived circa 750 BCE and lamented that he was part of the Iron generation because our destiny is one of progressive sorrow; there will be good mingled with the sorrow but we are doomed in a very literal sense; the only reward for our sorrowful lives will be death.

As the Age of Iron progresses there will be ominous signs to herald the end:

Children will be born with gray hair on their temples;

There will be disagreements pitting parent against child, guest against host, comrade against comrade and brother against brother;

Using bitter words and with no fear of the Immortals, men will dishonor their parents as they grow quickly old and refuse to repay their parents for their nurturing;

There will be no favor for the man who keeps his oath or lives a life devoted to justice and good will;

The evil doer will be praised because there will be no reverence;

The wicked will hurt the righteous and swear false oaths against them;

Foul-mouthed Blapsei (Envy) will go among the wretched with a scowling face and delight in evil; and

Dressed in their white robes, Aidos (Shame) and Nemesis (Indignation) will flee the earth to join the other Immortals and there will be nothing left but bitter sorrows with no help against evil for the remaining mortals.

As the ages have come and gone, the quality of each race has declined; the first, i.e. Golden, generation lived as gods and the current, i.e. Iron, generation lives in perpetual sorrow; we can only assume that, unless this is the last generation, the plight of the next generation will be truly horrific compared with the previous generations.

Works and Days, lines 175-199

Age of Silver

The second race of mortals on the surface of the earth was called the Silver Generation and their time was called the Age of Silver.

After the earth had covered the Golden race of mortals, the Immortals of Mount Olympos (Olympus) made a second generation which was Silver and less noble than the Gold; the Silver race was completely unlike the Golden race in body and spirit; the Silver generation remained as children for one hundred years; they were simpletons who spent their lives playing childish games; when they finally matured, their lives were brief and sorrowful; they would wrong others and not serve the Immortals or offer sacrifices on the holy altars; when they refused to give honor to the Olympians, Zeus became angry and ended their existence.

The souls of the Silver generation are called blessed spirits of the Underworld and even though they are of a second order compared to the Golden generation, they are worthy of respect and honor.

As to the origins of the Silver Generation, we are only told that they were created by the Immortals who dwelled on Mount Olympos; the poet Hesiod reasoned that since silver was the symbol of Gaia (Earth), she must therefore be responsible for the Silver generation of mortals; Hesiod's theory is not confirmed by other texts and might be thought of as a theological deduction and not necessarily a fact.

Works and Days, lines 121-139

Agelaos (Agelaus) 1

The herdsman who raised Alexandros (Paris); Agelaos lived on Mount Ida near Troy.

Alexandros was the son of the last king of the city of Troy, Priam, and the kidnapper of Helen.

Agelaos (Agelaus) 2

A son of Herakles (Heracles) and the Lydian queen, Omphale.

Agelaos (Agelaus) 3

The son of Damastor; Agelaos was one of the suitors of Odysseus's wife, Penelope.

Agelaos made an insincere attempt to be reasonable about his rude presence but was killed nonetheless when Odysseus returned home and took his revenge.

When Odysseus went to fight in the Trojan War, he left his wife, Penelope, and infant son, Telemachos (Telemachus), at his home on the island of Ithaka (Ithaca); the Trojan War lasted for ten years and it took Odysseus another ten years to return home; after leaving Troy, Odysseus's whereabouts were unknown and many presumed him to be dead; Penelope was besieged by suitors who wanted to marry her and claim Odysseus's vast riches; for the most part, the suitors were indulgent and squandered Odysseus wealth with banquets and excessive drinking; when Odysseus finally returned home, he punished the suitors with the brutal deaths they deserved.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 20, lines 321 and 339; book 22, lines 131, 136, 212, 241, 247, 293 and 327

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 20, lines 358 and 377; book 22, lines 140, 222, 254, 259, 307 and 343

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 20, lines 357 and 380; book 22, lines 143, 235, 268, 273, 326 and 367

Agenor

A king of the city of Tyre; Agenor was the son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and the Nymph, Libya; he was the father of Europa, Kadmos (Cadmus) and Phineus.

Agenor lived two generations before the Trojan War, circa 1310 BCE; all three of his children played important parts in laying the foundations of the Greek culture; Europa was kidnapped by Zeus and taken to the island of Crete where her son Minos became the founder of a remarkable civilization; Kadmos went searching for Europa but, at the advice of the priestess of Apollon at Delphi, abandoned his search and founded the city of Thebes; Phineus was the blind seer who gave assistance to Jason and the Argonauts in their Quest for the Golden Fleece.

Ageretes

The Ageretes were priests of the Earth Goddess, Kybele (Cybele); their name literally means a Collector.

The Greeks identified Kybele with the wife of Kronos (Cronos), Rheia (Rhea); before 430 BCE, the center of worship for Kybele was in Phrygia in Asia Minor but a shrine was established in the city of Athens during the plague of 430 BCE in hopes that the Earth-Goddess would be appeased and end the suffering that decimated the Athenians; she was also called the Great Idaean Mother, i.e. the Great Kind Mother.

Agesander

A first century BCE Greek sculptor who, with Polydoros (Polydorus) and Athenodorus, carved the Laokoon (Laocoon) Sculpture Group which depicted the seer, Laokoon, and his sons being killed by a sea serpent.

After ten years of warfare, the Greeks decided to withdraw their army and leave a Wooden Horse for the Trojans as a feigned peace offering; the clever plan was for the Trojans to take the horse into the city and, after a night of celebration, be caught off guard by the Greek soldiers concealed in the body of the hollow horse.

The Laokoon Sculpture Group depicted the moment when the Trojans were debating as to whether or not to take the so called Trojan Horse into the city; Laokoon, as a seer, recognized the deception and wanted to burn the horse; the lord of the Sea, Poseidon, wanted the Greeks to capture Troy so he sent the sea serpent to silence Laokoon; King Priam of Troy saw the death of Laokoon as a just punishment for giving false prophecies and took the horse into the city; at that moment, Troy was doomed to destruction.

Agesilaus

A work by the Greek historian, Xenophon, chronicling the life of the Spartan king, Agesilaus II.

Agesilaus II was the nineteenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta (ruled 399-360 BCE).

Although lame, Agesilaus was a dynamic and resourceful leader; he died commanding a military expedition against the Persians circa 360 BCE.

Agesilaus I (Agesilaos I)

The fifth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta (ruled circa 815-785 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Very little is known about Agesilaus I and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Agesilaus II (Agesilaos II)

The nineteenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta (ruled 399-360 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Although lame, Agesilaus was a dynamic and resourceful leader; he died commanding a military expedition against the Persians circa 360 BCE.

Agesilaus was the subject of Xenophon's historic text Agesilaus.

Agesipolis I

The twentieth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta (ruled from 395-380 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Beginning with Leonidas I, the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE, the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual.

Prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.

Agesipolis II

The twenty-second Agiadai king of the city of Sparta (ruled from 371-370 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Beginning with Leonidas I, the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE, the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual.

Prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.

Agesipolis III

The twenty-ninth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta (ruled from 219-215 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Beginning with Leonidas I, the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE, the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual.

Prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.

Agiadai

The family name for the descendants of one of the first kings of the city of Sparta, King Agis I.

The dates of his rule are not known for certain but we can assume that he ruled circa 930-900.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon; their families were respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai.

The Agiadai are also referred to as the Agiads.

Agis I

The first and eponymous Agiadai king of the city of Sparta (ruled circa 930-900 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Very little is known about Agis I and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Agis II

The eighteenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta (ruled 427-399 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Agis III

The twenty-first Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta (ruled 338-331 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Agis IV

The twenty-fifth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta (ruled 244-241 BCE).

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Aglaia

One of the Graces who were the incarnation of Splendor, Beauty and Adornment.

Aglaia was the mother of the Greek soldier, Nireus.

Her sisters are: Euphrosyne and Thalia.

Theogony, line 907-911 and 946

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, lines 671-675

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 767-771

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 795-799

Aglaophon

Aglaophon of Thasos was a painter from the island of Thasos circa fifth or sixth century BCE.

Aglaophon was the father and teacher of Polygnotus who also became a renowned painter.

Aglaophonus

Aglaophonus

Aglaophonus is one of the Sirens; her name means Lovely-Sounding

The Sirens are part woman and part bird; they inhabit the island of Anthemoessa; they are children of the Muse, Terpsichore and the river, Achelous; her sisters names are Thelxiope (or Thelxinoe) and Molpe; their names also reflect their vocally seductive prowess: Thelxiope means Charming-With-Her-Voice (Thelxinoe means Charming-The-Mind) and Molpe means Song.

The Sirens lure mariners with their seductive singing to the rocky shore and the memorized sailors die in their wrecked ships; the Dread-Goddess Kirke (Circe) warned Odysseus about the irresistible lure of the Sirens so that when he came near their island, he had his sailors put wax in their ears so that they could not hear the enchanted singing but he had himself lashed to the mast so he could hear the Siren's song without flinging himself into the sea and swimming to his doom.

The Argonauts passed the island of the Sirens several generations before Odysseus; the master musician, Orpheus, played his lyre for the sailors and all but one was able to resist the Siren's song; the Argonaut, Boutes, jumped into the water and swam towards Anthemoessa but before he could reach the deadly shore he was plucked from the water by Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and deposited safely in the Libyan desert.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 12, lines 39+

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 12, lines 44+

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 12, lines 46+

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 885-921

Catalogues of Women, fragment 47

Agnostic

A person who believes God is unknowable; from the Greek word Agnotos, i.e. not known.

Agon 1

In ancient Greece, a contest in which prizes were awarded for a variety of events: athletic, dramatic, musical, poetic and artistic.

Agon 2

A classification of Old Comedy; the Agon was the argumentation portion of the presentation; the classifications into which modern scholars have divided Old Comedy are usually expressed in six elements:

1) Prologue (setting the theme of the play),

2) Parodos (introduction of the chorus),

3) Agon (argumentation),

4) Parabasis (choral ode),

5) Episodes (resolving the Agon) and

6) Exodos (celebratory conclusion).

Agon 3

Struggle; the god of Contest (agones); Agon is mentioned by the traveler and historian Pausanias when he was describing the various shrines and statues at Olympia.

Among the offerings of a man named Mikythos (Micythus) at Olympia was a statue of Agon credited to Dionysius of Argos (circa 460 BCE); the statue was carrying "jumping weights … they are half of a circle, not an exact circle but elliptical, and made so that the fingers pass through as they do through the handle of a shield"; near the statue of Agon were statues of Dionysos (god of Wine), Orpheus (musician and Argonaut), and an image of Zeus represented as a beardless youth.

Description of Greece by Pausanias, (Elis 1) book 5.26.3

Agora 1

The name literally means "an assembly of the people" as opposed to "an assembly of chiefs."

The term Agora was used in both the formal and general sense:

1) To name the people's council of any town,

2) The name of the area where the council met and

3) A common term for the market-place in any ancient Greek town.

Agora 2

A Greek town on the narrow peninsula known as the Chersonese in the district of Thrake (Thrace).

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.58

Agriope

Another name for the wife of Orpheus who was usually known as Eurydike (Eurydice).

Eurydike and Orpheus

Agriope was a Dryad, i.e. a tree Nymph.

Agriope was pursued by Apollon's son, Aristaios and, as she was fleeing, she was bitten by a poisonous snake and died.

After her death, Orpheus was so distraught that he ventured into the Underworld in an attempt to bring her back to the sunlight.

Orpheus used his wit and talent to charm Hades (lord of the Underworld) and Agriope (Eurydike) was allowed to return to the surface of the earth provided that Orpheus lead the way and not look back to see if she was following him.

At the very last moment Orpheus was compelled to look around and, by doing so, Agriope was returned to the land of the dead and lost to Orpheus until he also died.

Agrios (Agrius) 1

Agrios, Latinos (Latinus) and Telegonos (Telegonus) were the sons of Odysseus and the Dread Goddess, Kirke (Circe).

After the Trojan War was over and the walls of Troy were toppled, Odysseus and his men began their arduous voyage home to Ithaka (Ithaca); one of the adventures they had on their way home took place on the island of Aiaia (Aeaea) which was the home of Kirke.

At first Kirke was hostile and tried to enchant the sailors with her potions but Odysseus, with the assistance of the god Hermes, was able to subdue Kirke and make her do his bidding; the goddess not only entertained Odysseus and his crew but gave them invaluable advice as to how to proceed on their perilous voyage home; Odysseus actually made two trips to Kirke's island and it was during those visits that the children were conceived.

Theogony, lines 1011+

Agrios (Agrius) 2

Agrios was one of the huge monsters collectively known as the Giants; the Giants were the children of Gaia (Earth) engendered by the blood of Ouranos (the Heavens).

The Giants waged an unsuccessful war on the Olympians and were severely punished after their defeat; the poet Hesiod states that the Giants were banished to the Underworld but Apollodorus of Athens clearly describes the brutal death of the Giants.

The Giants were mostly human in form but their bodies were massive and they were invincible in their might; they had long drooping locks on their heads and chins; their feet had scales like a dragon or serpent; whether they actually had the feet of dragons or whether they were simply scaled was a point of contention among several of the ancient authors; the traveler and historian, Pausanias, disputed the fact that the Giants literally had dragon feet but ancient artwork generally represented the Giants with dragon-like feet.

The original home of the Giants was either Phlegrae or Pallene but it has been suggested that the two names represent the same place; the Immortals were given an oracle which stated that the Giants could not be killed by a God or Goddess so they decided to enlist the aid of Herakles (Heracles) to do the actual killing; when Gaia learned of the oracle, she began the preparation of a drug that would protect her awful children but Zeus culled a cunning brew of his own that would make the Giants vulnerable to the wrath of the Immortals; in order to have the time necessary for the creation of the drug, Zeus forbade Eos (Dawn), Selene (Moon) and Helios (Sun) to shine until his task was complete.

The goddess Athene (Athena) summoned Herakles and the war against the Giants began:

Agrios (Agrius) and Thoas were beaten with brazen clubs by the Fates; their brothers all met a similar doom:

Alkyoneos (Alcyoneus) - Alkyoneos was one of the two most powerful of the Giants; he was brazen in his contempt for the Olympian Gods and even stole the cattle of Helios from Erythia; he was immortal as long as he remained on his home soil, i.e. he could not be killed by man, god or beast as long as he remained in the land of his birth; he was, however, the first of the Giants to die; Herakles shot Alkyoneos with an arrow and the mighty Giant fell to the ground where he was revitalized by the earth and began to recover from the wound; at the advice of Athene, Herakles dragged Alkyoneos out of Pallene where he was no longer protected by his native soil and he died.

Porphyrion - Alkyoneos and Porphyrion were the two most powerful Giants; while Alkyoneos and Herakles were fighting, Porphyrion joined the battle but was immediately distracted by an intervention from Zeus; an irresistible longing for the goddess Hera overcame Porphyrion and he began to tear at the goddesses' garments; Herakles killed Alkyoneos while Porphyrion was lustfully distracted and Zeus struck the unsuspecting Giant with a thunderbolt and rendered him helpless but not dead; Herakles shot Porphyrion with an arrow and killed him.

Ephialtes was shot with an arrow in the left eye by Apollon and then in the right eye by Herakles.

Eurytos (Eurytus) was killed by Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine) with a thyrsus, i.e. a wand wreathed in ivy and vine leaves with a pine cone at the top.

Klytios (Clytius) was killed by the goddess Hekate (Hecate) with torches; presumably he was burned to death.

Mimas was killed when Hephaistos (Hephaestus) showered him with missiles of hot metal.

Enkelados (Enceladus) tried to run away but Athene dropped the island of Sicily on him.

Polybotes was chased by Poseidon to the island of Kos (Cos) where the god broke off a piece of the island (called Nisyrum) and hurled it at the desperate Giant.

Hippolytus (Hippolytos) was killed by Hermes who was wearing the Helm of Hades which made him invisible.

Gration was killed by Artemis; the other (unnamed) Giants were struck by thunderbolts from Zeus; Herakles shot and killed each of the Giants with arrows as they lay suffering.

Pausanaus, book 7.29

Library, book 1.6

Theogony, line 185

Agro

Tilled land, soil; from the Greek word Agros; we use the prefix, Agro, in words such as agronomy and agrochemical; also, from the Latin form of the word Agri, in words such as agribusiness and agriculture.

Agron

The son of Ninus and a descendant of Herakles (Heracles).

Agron was the first descendant of Herakles to rule the Persian capital, Sardis.

The rule of the Heraklidae, i.e. the descendants of Herakles, lasted 505 years.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.7

Aguieus

A name for Apollon as Guardian of the Streets.

Also, Aguieus was the name of a pillar set up in front of buildings to evoke Apollon's protection.

Aiaia (Aeaea)

The island inhabited by the Dread Goddess, Kirke (Circe).

The location of Aiaia is completely unknown; various scholars have speculated that Aiaia might be somewhere off the west coast of Italy, north and west of Mount Vesuvius but that assumption can only be made by neglecting the numerous allusions to Aiaia being located in the far east near the homes of Eos (Dawn) and Helios (Sun); there are numerous modern day maps showing the travels of Odysseus and the Argonauts, and they all place Aiaia somewhere off the western coast of Italy; this placement of Aiaia is arbitrary and contradicted by the details put forth in The Odyssey and Argonautika (Argonautica); it is important to emphasize that the location of Aiaia is completely unknown.

Aiaia is inhabited by numerous wild animals which have been rendered docile by the drugs and potions which Kirke routinely feeds them.

The first adventures to go to Aiaia were the Argonauts; after Jason and the Argonauts had taken the Golden Fleece from Kolchis (Colchis), Medeia (Medea), the daughter of King Aietes (Aeetes), helped Jason murder her half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus) in a rather cowardly way; Zeus swore revenge for such a dastardly act but his sister/wife Hera wanted to protect the Argonauts until Jason and Medeia could be absolved of their crime by Kirke; Hera used her influence to calm the seas and redirect the Winds so that the Argo could sail safely to Aiaia.

When Jason and Medeia reached Aiaia they found Kirke at the shore trying to wash away the night-visions which had troubled her sleep; she had dreamt that the walls of her home were running with blood; when Kirke had finished bathing, Jason and Medeia followed her to her great hall and assumed the attitude of supplicants by kneeling at Kirke's hearth; Medeia hid her face and Jason laid his sword on the floor; without confessing their crime, Kirke knew of their blood-guilt and why they had come to Aiaia; she began the purification with a blood sacrifice and by calling on Zeus as the Avenger and the Purifier; Kirke recognized Medeia because all descendants of Helios had a radiance emitting from their eyes; she questioned Medeia but Medeia was careful not to mention the murder of Apsyrtos; Kirke finally ordered Medeia and Jason to leave and said that she had preformed the rituals of cleansing and that she knew of their crime but did not condone their disgraceful behavior.

The next adventures to venture to Aiaia were the companions of Odysseus; Odysseus did not sail the Aiaia on purpose; he was being punished by Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and made landfall on Aiaia simply to find water and food for his distressed comrades.

When Odysseus and his crew landed on Aiaia some of the men were drugged and turned into swine by Kirke but Odysseus was given an antidote by Hermes and was able to force Kirke to restore the disfigured crewmen to their proper forms; only one of Odysseus's crew died while on Aiaia; a crewman named Elpenor was capering on the roof of Kirke's palace and fell to his death.

After Odysseus left Aiaia, he went to the Underworld to consult the dead seer Teiresias; while waiting to see Teiresias, Odysseus saw the restless 'shade' of Elpenor; Odysseus realized that he had not given Elpenor a proper burial so he returned to Aiaia to perform the last rights for his dead companion.

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 9, line 31; book 10, line 135; book 11, line 70; book 12, lines 3, 268 and 273

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 9, line 32; book 10, line 135; book 11, line 70; book 12, lines 3, 268 and 273

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 9, line 36; book 10, line 148; book 11, line 78; book 12, lines 3, 291 and 296

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 9, line 35; book 10, line 149; book 11, line 79; book 12, lines 3 and 347

Aiakides (Aeacides)

A patronymic term denoting the descendants of Aiakos (Aeacus) including: Peleus, Telamon, Achilles and Aias (Ajax).

Aiakos (Aeacus)

The son of Zeus and Aegina (Aigina); the husband of Endies and most notably, the father of Peleus and Telamon and thus the grandfather of Achilles and Aias (Ajax).

Aiakos banished Peleus and Telamon because they murdered their half-brother, Phokos (Phocos).

The people who were ruled by Aiakos became known as the Myrmidons because, after a plague had decimated the island of Aegina, Zeus repopulated it by turning ants into men and women; Myrmidon is a variation on the word for Ant.

After his death Aiakos became one of the three judges of the Underworld along with Minos and Rhadamanthys.

His name may also be rendered as Aeakus, Aiacos, Aecus or Aekus.

Aietes (Aeetes)

The son of Helios (Sun) and the Okeanid, Perseis.

Aietes was the legendary king of Kolchis (Colchis) and the husband of Eidyia; with Eidyia, he was the father of Medeia (Medea) and Chalkiope (Chalciope) and with the Nymph Asterodeia, he was the father of a son named Apsyrtos; he was the brother of the sorceress Nymph, Kirke (Circe).

Aietes is most famous for giving sanctuary to Phrixus when he came to Kolchis on the flying ram with the Golden Fleece; Phrixus sacrificed the magical ram and placed its Golden Fleece in the Garden of Ares where it was guarded by a dragon.

When Jason and the Argonauts arrived in Kolchis and asked for the Golden Fleece, Aietes was furious; Aietes decided that it would not be wise to blatantly refuse Jason's request for the Golden Fleece, so he cunningly challenged Jason to demonstrate his strength by harnessing two fierce supernatural, bronze-footed bulls to a plow a field and sow the dragon's teeth of Kadmos (Cadmus); the dragon's teeth would grow into warriors and then Jason would have to fight and kill the Earth-Born warriors; the bulls were fashioned by Hephaistos as repayment for a kindness Aietes's father, Helios, had done for Hephaistos when the Olympians were at war with the Giants..

As the niece of Kirke and a priestess of the Earth-Goddess, Hekate (Hecate), Medeia possessed magical powers; she used her powers to protect Jason and he successfully subdued the bulls, plowed a field, planted the dragon's teeth and killed the Earth-Born warriors.

Aietes was again furious but he was bound by his promise to give Jason the Golden Fleece; Medeia was afraid to stay in Kolchis because she knew that when her father found out that she had helped Jason he would vent his wrath on her; Medeia led Jason to the Golden Fleece and used her supernatural powers to bewitch the guardian dragon.

When the Argonauts fled Kolchis with the Golden Fleece, Medeia went with them; Aietes sent his fleet, led by his son Apsyrtos, to overtake Medeia and bring her back for punishment; Apsyrtos was led into a trap by Medeia and killed by Jason.

When Aietes found out that the Argonauts were being protected by the king of the Phaiakians (Phaiacians), Alkinoos (Alcinous), he demanded the return of his daughter; King Alkinoos, being wise and fair, declared that if Medeia was unmarried she was still subject to her father's will but if she was married, she was responsible only to her husband; Jason and Medeia were married and Aietes was left without a son, without the Golden Fleece and, perhaps most painfully, betrayed by his daughter.

Theogony, line 957

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 2, line 1203; book 3, lines 229, 241-248, 268, 576-608, 1177-1190, 1225-1245 and 1403-1406; book 4, lines 6, 212-240, 341 and 1098-1104

Aias (Ajax) 1

Aias

One of the Greek heroes at the siege of the city of Troy; also known as Telamonian Aias, i.e. Aias, the son of Telamon; the Romans rendered his name as Ajax.

Aias was the son of King Telamon and Eriboea of the island of Salamis; before Aias was born, Herakles (Heracles) was a guest of Telamon and prayed that Telamon would have a manly son; at that moment, Zeus sent an omen in the form of an eagle to signify his blessing; Telamon and Herakles both realized the import of the omen and when Telamon's son was born, he was given the name Aias as a variation on the Greek word for eagle, i.e. aetos.

When Helen was taken from her home and husband in Sparta, Aias was one of the many notable men who went to her rescue; at the siege of Troy, Aias was the commander of the twelve ship contingent from Salamis, which would have been approximately fourteen hundred men.

Aias took his troops to Troy to fulfill the oath he had made to Helen's father, King Tyndareus of Sparta; when Helen was a young girl she was kidnapped and after her brothers safely returned her to her home, she was still the focus of attention from every man who met her; Helen was the daughter of Zeus and therefore semi-divine.

When Helen was old enough to marry, her father's household was besieged with anxious young men from every part of Greece; Aias was one of Helen's suitors; Tyndareus quickly realized that no matter which man he chose to be Helen's husband, there would always be the possibility of her being kidnapped again; Tyndareus very wisely made all the suitors swear a solemn and scared oath that they would come to Helen's rescue if she was ever taken from her chosen husband; Aias took the oath but Helen was finally married to Prince Menelaos (Menelaus) of Mycenae.

When Helen deserted Menelaos for Prince Alexandros (Paris) of Troy, an armada was assembled and over one thousand ships with over sixty thousand men sailed to Troy to rescue Helen.

The war became known as the Trojan War and lasted for ten brutal years; the Trojan War began circa 1250 BCE and we might assume that Aias was in his early or mid-twenties when the war began.

The supreme commander of the Greek forces against the Trojans was King Agamemnon of Mycenae; Agamemnon knew that, second only to Achilles, Aias was the best warrior in his army; Aias was a very large man and never shirked from the most intense fighting on the battlefield; Aias had a companion who was also named Aias and was often referred to as Lesser Aias because he was somewhat smaller than Telamonian Aias; when the two fought together they were called the Aiantes which is the plural form of the name Aias.

Aias carried a shield that was almost as tall as he was; when not fighting hand-to-hand with the Trojans, he would effectively use the shield to hide an archer so that the archer could shoot an arrow and then duck behind the massive shield for protection before the Trojans could retaliate; when Patroklos (Patroclus) was killed by Prince Hector, Aias fought so fiercely that the Trojans were forced to retreat.

After the death of Patroklos, Achilles held athletic games for his fallen companion; when the wrestling competition was announced, Aias immediately stepped forward assuming that no one would dare stand to fight him; to everyone's surprise, Odysseus rose to the challenge; Odysseus was not a large man but his fighting abilities were never questioned; Odysseus was able to throw Aias to the ground but could not pin him; Achilles let the fight continue until he was sure that there could be no winner without one of the men getting seriously hurt.

Zeus decreed that the walls of Troy would eventually be toppled but he was also intent that it would be a slow and bloody process; in the tenth year of the war, the Greeks devised a clever plan whereby the Trojans would open their gates and unwittingly allow the Greeks to enter the city; a large Wooden Horse was constructed with enough room in the belly of the beast to hide some Greek warriors; the Greeks then sailed their ships to a nearby island out of sight of Troy; the Trojans assumed that the Wooden Horse was a peace offering and that the war was over; once the Wooden Horse was inside the walls of Troy, Helen became suspicious of the horse and the intentions of the Greeks; she walked around the Wooden Horse imitating the voices of different men's wives to see if any of the men she suspected to be hiding in the horse would answer; all the men hiding inside the horse remained silent; when the Trojans relaxed their guard, the Greeks emerged from the horse and the real slaughter began; in The Odyssey, we are simply told that the best Greek warriors were inside the Wooden Horse so we can assume that Aias was included in that category.

Aias's final act of supreme valor was when Achilles was killed; the Trojans wanted Achilles's armor and to mutilate his body but Aias and Odysseus successfully repelled all Trojan advances; finally, Odysseus held off the Trojans while Aias picked up Achilles's body and carried it to safety; when Odysseus and Aias argued over who deserved Achilles's armor, the wise and somewhat older King Nestor of Pylos suggested that a spy be sent to the walls of Troy to see which of the two fighters the Trojans most respected; the conclusion seemed to be that any woman could have carried the body of Achilles out of the fighting but only a real man could have held back the Trojan assault; Odysseus was awarded Achilles's armor; when Odysseus encountered the 'shade' of Aias in the Underworld, Aias would not acknowledge him because he was still angry about not being awarded Achilles's armor.

There is a popular story in which Aias is said to have killed himself out of jealously when Odysseus was awarded the armor of Achilles but in The Odyssey (book 4, lines 499-511), Aias is said to have drowned because he mocked the Immortals and Poseidon (lord of the Sea) shattered the island where Aias committed the blasphemy, sending the hero to the bottom of the sea.

Death of Aias

The suicide of Aias.

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 3, line 109; book 4, lines 499, 502, 509 and 511; book 11, lines 469, 543, 550 and 553; book 24, line 17

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 3, line 121; book 4, lines 560 and 570; book 11, lines 531, 620, 627, 628, 632, 643; book 24, line 17

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 3, line 109; book 4, lines 499 and 509; book 11, lines 469, 543, 550 and 553; book 24, line 17

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 3, line 117; book 4, lines 534 and 545; book 11, lines 550, 643, 646, 654 and 658; book 24, line 17

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragment 68, line 55

The Great Eoiae, fragment 3

The Little Iliad, fragments 1, 3 and 4

Aias 2

The son of Oileus and Eriopis and half-brother of Medon; also called Lesser Aias.

Aias was the king of Lokris (Locris).

He was the Greek hero who fought side-by-side with his friend, Telamonian Aias; the names of the two men are often confused but unlike Telamonian Aias, Lesser Aias was slight of build and was clad in linen instead of bronze.

Aias was the best man with a spear in the Greek army.

Aidoneus 1

A name for Hades (lord of the Underworld).

Theogony, line 913

Aidoneus 2

A king of the city of Thesprotia in the district of Epirus.

Aidoneus 3

The eccentric king of the Molossians circa 1270 BCE.

Aidoneus was named after the lord of the Dead, Hades, his wife was named Persephone, after the wife of Hades; they named their daughter Kore (Core) which is a pseudonym for the goddess Persephone; the family dog was named after the hound of Hades, Kerberos (Cerberus).

King Aidoneus and his family became inadvertently involved in the scandalous exploits of King Theseus of Athens and King Peirithoos (Peirithous) of the Lapithae when the two disreputable kings tried to kidnap Kore.

Theseus and Peirithoos became friends and companions when they fought together against the Centaurs; their behavior became progressively wanton until they succeeded in kidnapping Helen of Sparta, who ten years later became known as Helen of Troy; after abducting Helen, Theseus and Peirithoos drew lots to see who would get to marry her; the winner promised to help the loser find a wife; Theseus won Helen and when it became time for Peirithoos to chose a wife, he decided that he wanted Aidoneus's daughter, Kore; the desperados left Helen in the care of Theseus's mother Aethra and went to Epirus to kidnap Kore.

When Aidoneus realized what Theseus and Peirithoos were trying to do, he fought back by setting Kerberos loose on them; the hound killed Peirithoos; Theseus was taken prisoner and slated for an eventual execution.

Shortly thereafter, Herakles Heracles was a guest of Aidoneus; the king told Herakles of his encounter with Theseus and Peirithoos; Herakles thought it best to not to complain about the cruel death of Peirithoos so he focused his attention on freeing Theseus; he asked Aidoneus to release Theseus as a favor to him; the king finally agreed.

Aidos

The personification of Modesty, Respect and Shame.

In the poem, Works and Days (line 200), Hesiod explains to his brother that when Aidos (Shame) and Nemesis (Indignation) are gone from the earth there will be sorrow and no defense against evil.

Aigialeia

The wife of the Greek soldier, Diomedes and daughter of King Adrastus (Adrestos) of Sikyon (Sicyon).

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 5, line 412

The Iliad (Fagles), book 5, line 471

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 5, line 473

Aigialeus (Aegialeus)

The son of King Adrastus (Adrestos) of Sikyon (Sicyon) and one of the Epigoni, i.e. After-Born.

The Epigoni were the sons of the commanders who had tried to capture the city of Thebes but failed; ten years after the failure of the first assault on Thebes, the Epigoni successfully took Thebes and ousted the King Kreon (Creon).

Thebes was called the City of Seven Gates and the first attempt to capture the city was called the Seven Against Thebes because seven armies had been assembled so that one army could attack each of the city gates; Aigialeus's father Adrastus led the Seven Against Thebes and was the only commander to survive the war; when the Epigoni were ready to attack Thebes, Adrastus led them also.

Aigialeus was the only Epigoni commander to be killed in the war; Adrastus, who was already an old man, died of grief after the death of his beloved son.

Aigikoreis (Aigicoreis)

The name of one of the four oldest tribes of Ionia.

The name literally means Goat-Herds or Goat-Feeders.

The other tribes were known as:

Argadeis — Workmen or Laborers;

Oplites (Hoplites) — Men in Armor; and

Teleontes (Geleontes) — Farmers.

Aigle

The daughter of Panopeus and, according to Plutarch, Theseus might have abandoned Ariadne for Aigle after Ariadne helped him escape the labyrinth of her father, King Minos.

Plutarch's Lives, Theseus, chapter 20

Aigokeros

The constellation Capricorn.

Aigokeros literally means, Goat-Horned.

Aineias (Aeneas)

The son of the mortal Anchises and Aphrodite (goddess of Love).

His name might be translated as Awful, i.e. the Greek word ainos.

Aineias sailed with Alexandros (Paris) when he went to Sparta and kidnapped Helen.

When the Greeks arrived at Troy, one of the first things that Achilles did was to steal the cattle of Aeneas.

Aineias fought in the defense the city of Troy and was one of the few survivors when the city fell to the Greeks.

Zeus promised that Aineias and his descendants would be the rulers of Troy after the reign of Priam was ended; the lord of the Sea, Poseidon, entered the battle of Troy to save Aineias when the young hero became too aggressive and wanted to fight Achilles.

There are several accounts of Aineias's fate after the fall of Troy:

1) During the siege of Troy, Aineias was constantly protected by Aphrodite and was able to escape with his father, his wife, Kreusa (Creusa), and his son, Iulus;

2) Aineias was captured by the son of Achilles, Neoptolemus (Neoptolemos); and

3) The Romans later claimed that Aineias had escaped to Italy and that his ancestors founded Rome, this story is told in the epic poem Aeneid by Virgil.

Theogony, line 1008

Hymn to Aphrodite, line 198

The Kypria, fragment 1

The Little Iliad, fragment 14

Sack of Ilion, fragment 1

Aiora

A festival of ancient Attica at which dolls were swung from trees to commemorate Erigone's suicide by hanging.

From the Greek word meaning Swing.

When mortal men were first exposed to wine, they became drunk and killed Erigone's father, Ikarius (Icarius); Erigone was so grief stricken that she hanged herself from a tree.

Aisa

The goddess of Destiny.

Aisa is similar to the original goddess of Fate, Moira.

Aisepos (Aesepos) 1

One of the twin sons of Boukolion and the Nymph, Abarbare.

Aisepos and his brother, Pedasos, were killed by the Greek soldier, Euryalos, while defending the city of Troy.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 6, line 21

The Iliad (Fagles), book 6, line 24

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 6, line 22

Aisepos (Aesepos) 2

The god of the river Aisepos.

One of the sons of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

The Aisepos River flows into the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) from the Phrygian mainland.

Zeus gave the Rivers, Apollon and the Okeanids the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 825; book 4, line 91; book 12, line 21

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 936; book 4, line 105; book 12, line 24

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book , line 992; book 4, line 107; book 12, line 23

Theogony, line 342

Aithalides (Aethalides)

The son of Hermes and Eupolemeia.

Aithalides was one of the Argonauts and the half-brother of the Argonauts, Erytos and Echion.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis; their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Because of his indelible memory, Aithalides was the herald of the Argonauts; when the Argo landed on the island of Lemnos, Aithalides went to Queen Hypsipyle and asked that she allow the Argonauts to come ashore; after the Argonauts arrived in Kolchis (Colchis), Aithalides went with Telamon to retrieve the dragon's teeth for Jason so that he might fulfill King Aietes (Aeetes) commands so that the Golden Fleece could be retrieved and the Argonaut's quest be completed; there is also a brief mention of Aithalides's eventual fate in Argonautika; he is said to have retained his perfect memory even though he was doomed to sometimes abide among the living and at other times dwell with the dead.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 51, 641 and 649; book 3, line 1175

Aither (Aether)

The daughter of Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).

Aither was conceived with Hemera (Day).

Aither literally means Brighter Purer Air, i.e. the sky above as opposed to the lower atmosphere.

Theogony, line 124

Aithon (Aethon)

One of the chariot horses of the Trojan hero, Hector.

Hector's other horses were: Lampos (Lampus), Podargos (Podargus) and Xanthos (Xanthus).

The Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon defines Aithon as Fiery, Fierce or Tawny.

The names of Hector's horses are rendered in the various translations as:

1) Aithon:

Blaze (Fagles)

Dusky (Fitzgerald)

Aithon (Lattimore)

Aethon (Loeb)

2) Lampos:

Sliver Flash (Fagles)

Dapple (Fitzgerald)

Lampos (Lattimore)

Lampus (Loeb)

3) Podargos:

Whitefoot (Fagles and Fitzgerald)

Podargos (Lattimore)

Podargus (Loeb)

4) Xanthos:

Golden (Fagles)

Tawny (Fitzgerald)

Xanthos (Lattimore)

Xanthus (Loeb)

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 8, line 185

The Iliad (Fagles), book 8, line 210

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 8, line 211

Aithregenes (Aethregenes)

An epithet for Boreas (North Wind) meaning Born in Aither (Aether).

Aithregenes was one of the sons of Eos (Dawn) and Astraios (Astraeus).

Ajax (Aias)

Aias

Telamonian Aias, i.e. Aias, the son of Telamon and Eriboea.

Aias was called Ajax by the Romans and for some unknown reason most writers insist on using his Roman name instead of his proper Greek name.

Aias was one of the Greek heroes at the siege of the city of Troy; also known as Telamonian Aias, i.e. Aias, the son of Telamon; the Romans rendered his name as Ajax.

Aias was the son of King Telamon and Eriboea of the island of Salamis; before Aias was born, Herakles (Heracles) was a guest of Telamon and prayed that Telamon would have a manly son; at that moment, Zeus sent an omen in the form of an eagle to signify his blessing; Telamon and Herakles both realized the import of the omen and when Telamon's son was born, he was given the name Aias as a variation on the Greek word for eagle, i.e. aetos.

When Helen was taken from her home and husband in Sparta, Aias was one of the many notable men who went to her rescue; at the siege of Troy, Aias was the commander of the twelve ship contingent from Salamis, which would have been approximately fourteen hundred men.

Aias took his troops to Troy to fulfill the oath he had made to Helen's father, King Tyndareus of Sparta; when Helen was a young girl she was kidnapped and after her brothers safely returned her to her home, she was still the focus of attention from every man who met her; Helen was the daughter of Zeus and therefore semi-divine.

When Helen was old enough to marry, her father's household was besieged with anxious young men from every part of Greece; Aias was one of Helen's suitors; Tyndareus quickly realized that no matter which man he chose to be Helen's husband, there would always be the possibility of her being kidnapped again; Tyndareus very wisely made all the suitors swear a solemn and scared oath that they would come to Helen's rescue if she was ever taken from her chosen husband; Aias took the oath but Helen was finally married to Prince Menelaos (Menelaus) of Mycenae.

When Helen deserted Menelaos for Prince Alexandros (Paris) of Troy, an armada was assembled and over one thousand ships with over sixty thousand men sailed to Troy to rescue Helen.

The war became known as the Trojan War and lasted for ten brutal years; the Trojan War began circa 1250 BCE and we might assume that Aias was in his early or mid-twenties when the war began.

The supreme commander of the Greek forces against the Trojans was King Agamemnon of Mycenae; Agamemnon knew that, second only to Achilles, Aias was the best warrior in his army; Aias was a very large man and never shirked from the most intense fighting on the battlefield; Aias had a companion who was also named Aias and was often referred to as Lesser Aias because he was somewhat smaller than Telamonian Aias; when the two fought together they were called the Aiantes which is the plural form of the name Aias.

Aias carried a shield that was almost as tall as he was; when not fighting hand-to-hand with the Trojans, he would effectively use the shield to hide an archer so that the archer could shoot an arrow and then duck behind the massive shield for protection before the Trojans could retaliate; when Patroklos (Patroclus) was killed by Prince Hector, Aias fought so fiercely that the Trojans were forced to retreat.

After the death of Patroklos, Achilles held athletic games for his fallen companion; when the wrestling competition was announced, Aias immediately stepped forward assuming that no one would dare stand to fight him; to everyone's surprise, Odysseus rose to the challenge; Odysseus was not a large man but his fighting abilities were never questioned; Odysseus was able to throw Aias to the ground but could not pin him; Achilles let the fight continue until he was sure that there could be no winner without one of the men getting seriously hurt.

Zeus decreed that the walls of Troy would eventually be toppled but he was also intent that it would be a slow and bloody process; in the tenth year of the war, the Greeks devised a clever plan whereby the Trojans would open their gates and unwittingly allow the Greeks to enter the city; a large Wooden Horse was constructed with enough room in the belly of the beast to hide some Greek warriors; the Greeks then sailed their ships to a nearby island out of sight of Troy; the Trojans assumed that the Wooden Horse was a peace offering and that the war was over; once the Wooden Horse was inside the walls of Troy, Helen became suspicious of the horse and the intentions of the Greeks; she walked around the Wooden Horse imitating the voices of different men's wives to see if any of the men she suspected to be hiding in the horse would answer; all the men hiding inside the horse remained silent; when the Trojans relaxed their guard, the Greeks emerged from the horse and the real slaughter began; in The Odyssey, we are simply told that the best Greek warriors were inside the Wooden Horse so we can assume that Aias was included in that category.

Aias's final act of supreme valor was when Achilles was killed; the Trojans wanted Achilles's armor and to mutilate his body but Aias and Odysseus successfully repelled all Trojan advances; finally, Odysseus held off the Trojans while Aias picked up Achilles's body and carried it to safety; when Odysseus and Aias argued over who deserved Achilles's armor, the wise and somewhat older King Nestor of Pylos suggested that a spy be sent to the walls of Troy to see which of the two fighters the Trojans most respected; the conclusion seemed to be that any woman could have carried the body of Achilles out of the fighting but only a real man could have held back the Trojan assault; Odysseus was awarded Achilles's armor; when Odysseus encountered the 'shade' of Aias in the Underworld, Aias would not acknowledge him because he was still angry about not being awarded Achilles's armor.

There is a popular story in which Aias is said to have killed himself out of jealously when Odysseus was awarded the armor of Achilles but in The Odyssey (book 4, lines 499-511), Aias is said to have drowned because he mocked the Immortals and Poseidon (lord of the Sea) shattered the island where Aias committed the blasphemy, sending the hero to the bottom of the sea.

Death of Aias

The suicide of Aias.

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 3, line 109; book 4, lines 499, 502, 509 and 511; book 11, lines 469, 543, 550 and 553; book 24, line 17

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 3, line 121; book 4, lines 560 and 570; book 11, lines 531, 620, 627, 628, 632, 643; book 24, line 17

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 3, line 109; book 4, lines 499 and 509; book 11, lines 469, 543, 550 and 553; book 24, line 17

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 3, line 117; book 4, lines 534 and 545; book 11, lines 550, 643, 646, 654 and 658; book 24, line 17

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragment 68, line 55

The Great Eoiae, fragment 3

The Little Iliad, fragments 1, 3 and 4

Akademus (Academus)

The hero who assisted Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux) in the rescue of their sister Helen after she had been kidnapped by Theseus.

Akademus revealed Helen's hiding place to her brothers and allowed them to rescue her; sometimes this deed is attributed to another hero named Dekelus (Decelus).

His name may also be rendered as Akademos or Academos.

Akakallis (Acacallis)

The daughter of King Minos of the island of Crete; Akakallis was driven from her home by her father and forced to live in Libya.

Akakallis became the consort of Apollon with whom she had a son, Amphithemis.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 1485-1501

Akamas (Acamas)

The son of Theseus and Phaedra; the brother of Demophon.

Akanthus (Acanthus)

Akanthus

The ornamental leaf design used to decorate the capitals of Corinthian columns; the leaf design was copied from the plant Acanthus spinosa.

Akarnania (Acarnania)

The coastal region of the west-central part of mainland Greece; bounded by the Achelous River on the south and the Gulf of Amurakia on the north.

Akaste (Acaste)

An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

Theogony, line 356

Akastos (Acastus)

The son of the King Pelias and Queen Anaxibia of Iolkos (Iolcos).

Akastos is most famous for his participation in the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt but he also participated, against his father's will, in the Quest for the Golden Fleece with the Argonauts.

His father, Pelias, was the man who sent Jason and the Argonauts on the seemingly impossible Quest for the Golden Fleece.

When the Argonauts returned to Iolkos with the Fleece, Jason's sorceress wife, Medeia, induced Akastos's sisters to kill Pelias in an attempt to restore his youth; as punishment, Akastos banished Jason and Medeia (Medea) from Iolkos.

At the funeral games for his father, Akastos's wife, Astydameia, became infatuated with another of the Argonauts, Peleus, and made unwanted advances towards him; when he rejected her, she lied to Akastos and as a result, Akastos had Peleus disarmed and abandoned him on Mount Pelion to die; the Centaur, Cheiron (Chiron) found Peleus and saved him from certain death on the mountain.

His name may also be rendered as Akastus or Acastos.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 224, 321, 1041 and 1082

Akis (Acis)

The lover of the Nereid, Galatea; he was killed by the cyclops, Polyphemos (Polyphemus), because of jealousy.

Akmon (Acmon)

Kerkopes

One of the Monkey-Men known as the Kerkopes (Cercopes).

Akmon and his brother Passalus were the only two beings to make Herakles (Heracles) laugh; as Herakles was sleeping under a tree, the two brothers stole his bow; Herakles caught them and tied them upside-down to a pole which he carried over his shoulder; the Kerkopes were not only unrepentant but highly amused by their plight and as they dangled behind Herakles, they began making disparaging comments about Herakles's hairy posterior.

Herakles, who was so accustomed to sorrow and brutality, couldn't resist the infectious good humor of the Kerkopes and set them free.

This story is one of the fragmentary remains of the Epic Cycle; for the complete translations of the Epic Cycle I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 57, ISBN 0674990633; you can sometimes find this book at the library or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site.

The Kerkopes

Akontius (Acontius)

A love smitten young man from the island of Keos (Ceos) who found a novel way to entwine the one he loved.

Akontius gave an apple to his true love, Kydippe (Cydippe), with an inscription saying, I swear by Artemis that I will marry no one but Akontius; when Kydippe read the message aloud it became a sacred oath; when her parents tried to marry her to other young men she became ill; finally, to fulfill her oath, she married Akontius.

Akragas (Acragas)

A city on the island of Sicily; Akragas is now known as Agrigento.

Akragas was located on the central-southern coast near the Hypsas River (now called the Belice River).

Approximate East Longitude 13º 35' and North Latitude 37º 19'

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Akrisios (Acrisius)

King Akrisios of Argos; the father of Danae and the grandfather of Perseus.

Akrisios was told by an oracle that his grandson would kill him and take his throne as the king of Argos; when Zeus impregnated Danae disguised as a shower of gold, Akrisios put his daughter and her infant son into a coffin-like box and threw them into the sea.

Perseus and Danae survived and eventually Perseus returned to fulfill the oracle's prophecy; Perseus was participating in an athletic competition and accidentally killed Akrisios with a mis-thrown discus.

Akrisios may also be rendered as Akrisius or Acrisios.

Akrotatos (Acrotatus)

The twenty-fifth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled from 265-262 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Beginning with Leonidas I (the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE) the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual; prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.

Akrotiri (Acrotiri)

The name of an ancient Minoan city on the island of Thera in the Aegean Sea where abundant pottery and frescos of the second millennium BCE have been excavated.

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Aktaeon (Actaeon)

The grandson of the founder of the city of Thebes, Kadmos (Cadmus).

Aktaeon

Aktaeon was turned into a stag and killed by his own hunting dogs as punishment for offending Artemis; he either saw her while she was bathing or was too boastful of his hunting skills.

Aktaie (Actaea)

One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.

Her name is translated in a variety of ways; in The Iliad by Lattimore and Fitzgerald her name is spelled Aktaie; Fagles renders her name as Headland; the Loeb translation of The Iliad and Theogony uses Actaea; the Liddell and Scott Lexicon defines her name as Headland or Shore; her name may also be rendered as Aktaee or Actaea.

Other than a passing reference to her name, the only Nereid to receive any individual attention in the ancient literature was Thetis; as the mother of Achilles and one of the few goddesses to refuse the amorous intentions of Zeus, Thetis was unique; when the Immortals needed the Nereids, they called upon Thetis to rally her sisters for whatever task was needed.

The Nereids and the Argonauts - After Jason and the Argonauts had taken the Golden Fleece from Kolchis (Colchis), Medeia (Medea), the daughter of King Aietes (Aeetes), helped Jason murder her half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus) in a rather cowardly way; Zeus swore revenge for such a dastardly act but his sister/wife Hera wanted to protect the Argonauts until Jason and Medeia could be absolved of their crime by the Dread-Goddess Kirke (Circe); Hera called upon Thetis to gather the Nereids so they could quiet the waters of the sea so the Argonauts could safely navigate to Kirke's island; Thetis plunged into the sea and called to her sisters; her call was answered and the Nereids helped save the Argonauts.

The Nereids at the funeral of Patroklos (Patroclus) - In the last year of the Trojan War, Achilles's companion Patroklos was killed; Achilles took Patroklos's death very hard and called out to his mother Thetis for consolation; Thetis and the Nereids rose from the sea and graced the dead body of Patroklos with their divine presence.

The Nereids at the funeral of Achilles - The death of Achilles was one of the most dramatic events of the Trojan War; as the son of Thetis, his death had particular significance to the Nereids; at the funeral of Achilles, Thetis, the Nereids and the Muses all came to pay their respects.

Theogony, line 249

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 18, line 41

The Iliad (Fagles), book 18, line 48

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 18, line 45

Aktaios (Actaios)

Aktaios was the first king of what is now Attica but at that time the region was called Aktaia (Actaea); the name Aktaia literally means Coast-Land and was an appropriate name for the region because it is bounded on three sides by the sea; Attica is the prefecture of Greece which surrounds modern Athens; when Aktaios died, his snake-like son-in-law Kekrops (Cecrops) became king.

Kekrops had four children: a son named Erysichthon and three daughters named Herse, Agauros and Pandrosos; Erysichthon died before Kekrops so when Kekrops died, kingship fell to a man named Kranaos (Cranaus) who was the most powerful man in Athens at that time; among the daughters of Kranaos was a woman named Atthis; Athens was of course named after the goddess Athene (Athena) but Attica was named after Atthis.

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Akte (Acte)

There are three finger-like peninsulas jutting south into the Aegean Sea from Macedonia and Akte is the eastern-most peninsula; Akte is approximately thirty miles long and varies from less than two miles to over six miles in width; the spine of the peninsula rises as it goes south and culminates at Mount Athos which rises to a height of 6,670 feet (2,033 meters).

In 492 BCE, the Persian king, Darius, ordered his brother-in-law, Mardonius, to take a portion of the Persian army and fleet into Greece; when the fleet attempted to sail around the tip of Akte, it was caught in a severe northerly storm; they lost three hundred ships and twenty thousand crewmen died of exposure, drowning or were eaten by sharks.

When the Persians invaded Greece twelve years later under the leadership of King Xerxes, he sought to avoid sailing around Akte and decided to dig a cannel through the narrowest part of the peninsula; three years prior to his planned invasion of Greece, King Xerxes sent slaves from Asia to begin digging the channel and also forced the local Greek inhabitants to share in the work; the channel was completed in the winter of 481 BCE but Xerxes did not proceed into Greece until the following spring.

Google Map

Histories by Herodotus, book 6.43-45, book 7.22, 7.37 and 7.122

Aktis (Actis)

The son of Rhoda and Helius who, when banished from his home for fratricide, fled to Egypt where he taught astrology.

Aktium (Actium)

A promontory in northwest Greece at the entrance of the Gulf of Amurakia to the Ionian Sea.

Antony and Cleopatra were defeated by Octavian and Agrippa in a naval battle near Aktium in 31 BCE.

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Aktor (Actor) 1

The brother of King Augeas and believed to be the father, by Molione, of Eurytos (Eurytus) and Kteatos (Cteatus); although Hesiod thought Eurytos and Kteatos were actually the sons of Poseidon (lord of the Sea); the historian, Aristarchus, claimed that the boys were twins but not like Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux); Aristarchus believed that Eurytos and Kteatos were conjoined twins with their bodies joined together.

Eurytos and Kteatos were also called the Moliones in reference to their mother, Molione.

When Nestor was a young man, he participated in a war between the Pylians and the Epians; as he encountered Eurytos and Kteatos and was moving in to kill them, Poseidon shrouded the boys in a cloud of mist and whisked them out of the battle; at a later time Nestor encountered Eurytos and Kteatos in a chariot race and was bested by the young boys.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 621; book 11, line 750; book 23, line 638

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 714; book 11, line 892; book 23, line 711

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 734; book 11, line 907; book 23, line 729

Catalogues of Women, fragment 9

Aktor (Actor) 2

The son of Azeus and the father of the maiden, Astyoche.

Ares (god of War) secretly came to Astyoche and fathered her two sons: Askalaphos (Ascalaphus) and Ialmenos who commanded the soldiers from Aspledon and Orchomenos with thirty ships for the siege of the city of Troy.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 513

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 603

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 604

Aktor (Actor) 3

The father of Menoitios (Menoetius) and grandfather of Patroklos (Patroclus).

The Iliad (Lattimore), book 11, line 784

The Iliad (Loeb), book 11, line 785

The Iliad (Fagles), book 11, line 938

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 11, line 907

Aktor (Actor) 4

The father of Echekles (Echecles); Echekles was a Myrmidon and fought with the Greeks at the siege of the city of Troy; he was the husband of Polymele and nobly took the child of Hermes and Polymele, Eudoros (Eudorus), and raised him as his own.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 16, line 189

The Iliad (Fagles), book 16, line 224

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 16, line 222

Akusilaus (Acusilaus)

Akusilaus of Argos (late sixth century BCE); the author of Genealogies which survives only in fragments.

Alabaster

Fine-grained gypsum used for artistic and decorative figures.

Alabastron

Alabastron

A jar for oils, ointments or perfumes with a flattened lip, a narrow neck and an elongated body rounded at the bottom.

Alalkomeneis (Alalcomeneis)

A name for the goddess Athene (Athena) as The Protectress.

Alalkomeneus (Alalcomeneus)

The first man.

Alalkomeneus reared the goddess Athene (Athena) and reconciled the animosity between Zeus and Hera.

Alastor

An avenging Spirit; the herdsman's plague.

Aldus

This name is a misspelling in several versions of The Argonautika by Apollodorus Rhodius; the correct spelling is Aleus.

Aleus was a king of Tegea and father of the Argonauts Amphidamas and Kepheus (Cepheus); his daughter Auge was the consort of Herakles (Heracles) and the mother of Telephus (Telephos).

Alebion

A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) who, with his brother Derkynus (Dercynus), was killed by Herakles (Heracles) while attempting to steal the cattle Herakles had taken from Geryon (Geryones) during his Tenth Labor.

Alekto (Alecto)

One of the Erinys (Furies) who was born from the blood of Ouranos (the Heavens).

Her sisters are: Megaera and Tisiphone; also called: Eumenides (the kindly ones) and Semnai (the holy).

Aletes 1

A son of Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra) and her lover Aegisthus (Aigisthos); he became ruler of Mycenae after the death of his parents.

Aletes 2

A descendant of Herakles (Heracles) who conquered Corinth.

Aletes 3

The ancient Greek personification of Truth.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

(356-323 BCE) King of Macedon from 336-323 BCE; conqueror of the Greek city-states, Asia Minor, the Persian Empire, Egypt and India; when Alexander died he ruled the largest empire ever to exist on earth.

In the thousands of years that have passed since Alexander's death, it is almost impossible to sort out the man from the myth but it is undeniable that he was a man of remarkable self determination and courage; he wore a double-plumed helmet in battle which probably served two important functions: 1) it made him conspicuous to his own troops so that they could see and find him in the midst of the battles and 2) it clearly proclaimed his presence to his enemies; he never held back in battles and he was usually at the forefront of the most fierce fighting; he was generous to brave men and repelled by cowardice; he would graciously accept the surrender of an enemy and devastate any nation that dared to deal falsely with him; when he gave authority to his senior officers he expected them to conduct themselves ethically and justly, those who betrayed that trust were executed without the slightest hesitation; Alexander slept with a copy of The Iliad under his pillow and behaved with quiet dignity while, at the same time, indulged the pomp and aloofness of an all powerful king; this man of many faces was loved by his army and feared by any sensible enemy; his life was brief but glorious.

Although the renown of Alexander the Great is common knowledge throughout the Western world, his fame and exploits have come to us in a very piecemeal and undocumented way; there are three primary historical sources for Alexander and all of them were written well after the death of Alexander but presumably based on documents and manuscripts which are lost to modern researchers; Diodorus Sikulus (Diodorus of Sicily) wrote in the first century BCE and gave a compelling account of Alexander's life and times; Plutarch wrote a series of essays between 105 and 115 CE, called Lives, in which he tried to provide insights into Alexander's character through events rather than conquests; Arrian was a first century CE author who has provided us with the most detailed and well documented history of Alexander's life but we must remember that Alexander died in 323 BCE and, therefore, all of these histories were written hundreds of years after the fact; with that in mind, we must try to recapture the primary events of Alexander's life without the benefit of any first hand sources.

Alexander was born in the city of Pella in Macedon early in the month of Hecatombaeon in 356 BCE (Hecatombaeon approximately corresponds to the third week of June to the third week of July of our calendar); he was officially the son of King Philip II and Queen Olympias of Macedon but many, including Alexander, believed that he was actually the son of the Egyptian god, Ammon, who the Greeks recognized as Zeus; the glorious destiny of Alexander was predicted by omens well before his birth; Olympias dreamed that her womb was struck by lightening and a fire traveled all about but then was extinguished; after Olympias became pregnant with Alexander, Phillip dreamed that a seal was placed on Olympias's womb in the form of a lion; the seer, Aristander of Telmessus, told Philip that it was a good omen indicating that his son would be bold and have the character of a lion; on the day that Alexander was born, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was burned and destroyed; the priests said that Artemis was not there to prevent the destruction because she was overseeing the birth of Alexander.

To further complicate knowing the true father of Alexander, Phillip once saw Olympias sleeping on a couch with a serpent beside her; an oracle from Delphi informed Phillip that he had actually seen the god Ammon with Olympias and that he would be punished by losing one of his eyes for having seen an Immortal in such a compromising position; if we ignore the divine implications of Alexander's parentage, he was unquestionably descended from Achilles and Herakles (Heracles) through Olympias and Phillip respectively; from Phillip's perspective, the birth of Alexander was synergistically connected with several other important occurrences; 1) he had just captured the northern Macedonian city of Potidaea, 2) his general, Parmenio, had won a decisive victory against the Illyrians and 3) his racehorse won a victory in the Olympic Games; all of these events prompted great expectations for the future of Alexander.

Alexander was given a classical education under the tutelage of Aristotle and was familiar with all the important Greek poets and philosophers; he grew up in a household fraught with intrigue and luxury but he seemed to shy away from personal indulgences; there were several instances where he demonstrated a maturity far beyond his years; when a delegation of Persian ambassadors visited Macedon, his father was absent so Alexander assumed the role of host and impressed the Persians with his astute questions concerning the prowess of the Persian army, the roads and geography of Persia and the courage of the king; when his father was presented with a gift of an untamed horse from Thessaly, Alexander watched the trainers try and fail to mount the savage beast and made a remark to Phillip about the lack of courage and skill of the trainers; Alexander turned the horse so that it would not be frightened by its own shadow, mounted and rode it easily; he named it Bukephalus (Bucephalas), i.e. Bull Headed; Alexander fought in his first military campaign at the age of eighteen.

When Philip married his second wife, Kleopatra (Cleopatra), Alexander's direct ascension to the throne was jeopardized; it is assumed that Alexander and his mother, Olympias, were responsible for the deaths of Kleopatra, her son and her father.

Phillip was a man of determination and action; he successfully subdued most of the Greek cities (with the notable exception of the Sparta) and was preparing to invade Asia Minor and, ultimately, fight the Persian Empire for complete control of Asia; Alexander was raised and educated with the assumption that he would inherit an empire that spanned two continents (Europe and Asia) but before Phillip could complete his dreams of conquest, he was publicly assassinated.

After his father's death, Alexander assumed the throne of Macedon and proceeded to prove to the Greek cities that his ambitions were as grand as his father's had been; with the exception of the Sparta, the Greek cities accepted Alexander's authority but they also held the unspoken belief that Alexander would not be a successful leader and that they would eventually regain their autonomy.

The most notable Greek city to proclaim allegiance to Alexander and then revolt at the first opportunity was Thebes; the leaders of Thebes unwillingly submitted to Alexander's authority but as soon as Alexander became preoccupied with his military conquests directed at the rebellious nations in northern Greece, the Thebans began to talk openly about regaining their liberty and autonomy; Alexander had left at contingent of soldiers at Thebes in the Kadmeia (Cadmeia), i.e. the citadel of Thebes, to assure its continued submission but when the Thebans allowed exiled leaders to return to the city, the rebellious atmosphere became openly hostile towards Alexander; the Thebans barricaded the Macedonian troops in the Kadmeia and rumors began to circulate that Alexander had been killed; when Alexander heard the news from Thebes, he immediately marched his army to the city and camped within sight of the city walls; Alexander sent envoys to reason with the leaders of Thebes but they were determined to fight for their independence regardless of any threats or promises that Alexander made; Alexander held a meeting of his officers and asked their advice; since the Thebans had surrendered to the Persians without a fight when they invaded Greece in 480 BCE, Alexander's commanders wanted revenge; the battle lines were drawn and the siege of the city began; after hours of fierce fighting, Alexander called up his reserves; the Thebans had no reserves and began to taunt the Macedonians and their allies for their lack of courage and stamina; the taunting enraged Alexander's army and, when the walls were finally breached, no mercy was shown to the defenders; the Macedonians who had been barricaded in the Kadmeia fought their way free and the Theban army was literally crushed between the two pincers of Alexander's army; nearly all the Theban men were killed and the women and children who hadn't been killed in the attack were sold into slavery; the historian Arrian reports that Alexander allowed the descendants of the poet, Pindar, to keep their lives and possessions because he held the poet in such high regard; the city was reduced to rubble (335 BCE) and when word of the slaughter reached the other Greek cities, panic and dread consumed the populations except for the Spartans, who remained opposed to Alexander and even sided with the Persians to defeat him.

Before Alexander ventured out of Greece he went to the oracle at Delphi; the priestess would not see Alexander because he had arrived on a Holy day but Alexander would not be dismissed so easily; he manhandled the Pythia and she reluctantly proclaimed that he would be undefeated.

Alexander then moved into Asia Minor and began his campaign against the Persian Empire; although the Persians had superior numbers, he out maneuvered the badly led Persian forces and, at the river Granikus (Granicus), gave the Persian king, Darius III, his first humiliating defeat.

Alexander's entry into Persia was tied to the legend of the Gordian Knot; the king of ancient Phrygia, Gordius, tied a very complicated knot and, according to popular belief, the knot could only be undone by the man who would eventually rule Asia; there are several explanations as to how Alexander loosed the knot but the most dramatic and theatrical version states that Alexander examined the knot and, instead of trying to untie it, drew his sword and simply cut it open; the story may be as much myth as fact but the implications were clear, i.e. whatever Alexander could not conquer by subtlety, would fall under his sword.

Although Persia was still not completely under his control, Alexander marched south along the eastern Mediterranean coast into Syria and to the city of Tyre; Tyre was an island city and was the most difficult obstacle in Syria but in 332 BCE, after a difficult six month siege, the city fell; Alexander then turned his attention to Egypt and, since the Persians had been ruthless and cruel to the Egyptians, the population welcomed Alexander and surrendered without a fight; Alexander had wanted to go to Egypt for several reasons: 1) the sheer wealth of the nation and 2) to go to the oracle of Ammon and pay tribute to his immortal father; the oasis where the oracle of Ammon was located deep in the desert and proved to be a difficult journey; when Alexander became lost in the desert, he was magically guided by crows to the remote oasis; when he inquired if he had been successful in capturing all the conspirators who had assassinated his father, the oracle replied that his father was immortal thus implying that the god, Ammon, was his true father; Alexander returned to the Nile Delta and laid the foundations for the Greek commercial city of Alexandria.

Alexander then turned his full attention to the complete subjugation of Persia; the king of Persia, Darius III, made a stand near the city of Gaugamela and, once again, fled in utter defeat; Darius made Alexander several offers of conditional surrender but Alexander refused each offer because he wanted complete control with no limitations to his authority or domination.

After occupying and plundering Babylon, Alexander pursued Darius into eastern Persia and, in 331 BCE, found that Darius had been murdered by the Persian generals; the generals fled but Alexander hunted them down and punished them with death for such a brazen act of cowardice and disrespect for their king.

For the next several years (330-327 BCE) Alexander marched north to the Caucasus Mountains and then southward towards India conquering and subduing each country he passed through; he finally arrived in India and proceeded to systematically defeat and subjugate each tribe and district; his intentions to march farther eastward were doused by the growing impatience of his troops to return home; Alexander relented and, in 325 BCE, turned his army westward towards Greece.

When Alexander was near the city of Babylon, he was told that the Caldian priests had predicted his certain death if he entered Babylon; at first, Alexander camped near the city and would not enter the gates but his trusted companions convinced him that his fears were groundless and that there was no place on earth that could be denied to him; Alexander entered Babylon and enjoyed the luxury of the prosperous city; he tried to consolidate his power and encouraged his soldiers to mix with the Persians through marriage and shared authority; to demonstrate his intentions, he married Darius's sister, Stateira.

Alexander had many unfinished plans for the commercialization of Persia and India but, in 323 BCE, he died in Babylon of fever; dead at 32 years of age, Alexander had built the largest consolidated empire on the face of the earth.

Images of Alexander the Great

The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian

Plutarch's Lives, Alexander

Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, book 17

Alexandria

A city in northern Egypt on the western side of the Nile River delta and a principal port on the Mediterranean Sea; founded in 332 BCE by Alexander the Great.

Now known as Al-Iskandariyah, Egypt.

Approximate East Longitude 29º 54' and North Latitude 31º 12'

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Alexandros (Paris)

Alexandros

One of the primary characters in The Iliad where he is generally called Alexandros and occasionally Paris.

The Latin form of his name is Alexander; he was a descendant of the royal family of the city of Troy and one of the fifty sons of the last rulers of Troy, King Priam and Queen Hekabe (Hecabe).

When Alexandros was a guest of King Menelaos (Menelaus) of Sparta, he became infatuated with Menelaos's wife, Helen; the attraction Alexandros and Helen felt for each other was a spell of enchantment cast upon them by Aphrodite, goddess of Love; when Menelaos left Sparta on business, Alexandros and Helen took her dowry and fled to Troy; Alexandros's refusal to surrender Helen to her husband was the cause of the Trojan War and the eventual destruction of Troy.

Prior to his infatuation with Helen, Paris was placed in the unfortunate position of being the judge in what is commonly called The Judgment of Paris; at the wedding feast of Peleus and Thetis, the goddess Eris (Discord) threw down a golden apple which was inscribed "for the most beautiful one"; Athene (Athena), Hera and Aphrodite all assumed that the Apple of Discord was for them; as judge, Paris was forced to choose one of the three goddesses; he chose Aphrodite and thus earned her affection and likewise the wrath of Athene and Hera.

During the last battle of the Trojan War, Alexandros was killed by the legendary archer, Philoktetes (Philoctetes), who possessed the bow of Herakles (Hercules).

The name Alexandros literally means Defending Men.

Alexiares

A son of Herakles (Heracles) and the goddess, Hebe.

Alexikakos (Alexicacus)

An epithet of Apollon, meaning Averter of Evil, referring to his dispelling a plague that afflicted the Athenian forces during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE).

Algea

Pains and Sufferings; the children of Eris (Discord).

Theogony, line 228

Alilat

The Arabian goddess of Love comparable to Aphrodite.

The name Alilat means The Goddess.

Herodotus mentions this connection between Alilat and Aphrodite when he was relating the pledge of peace that the Persian king, Cambyses, made to the Arabians so they would assist the Persian army by providing water for crossing the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and thus allowing the Persians to attack King Amasis of Egypt; the two men making the pledge would allow a third man to cut their hands and smear their blood on seven stones, all the while calling on Alilat (Aphrodite) and Orotalt (Dionysos, a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine) to witness the pledge; Herodotus says that Orotalt and Alilat were the only two Immortals the Arabians honored and that men would crop their hair like Dionysos by cutting it round the head and shaving the temples.

The Assyrians called Aphrodite Mylitta; the Persians called her Mitra.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.131 and book 3.8

Alkaeos (Alcaeus) 1

A lyric poet from the city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos circa 620 BCE; Alkaeos was a contemporary of one of the greatest lyric poets of all time, Sappho.

The term Lyric Poetry is quite literal and designates poetry written to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre; the lyric poets flourished from roughly 700 BCE until 400 BCE.

The fragmentary remains of Alkaeos's poems are quite compelling; several of the surviving fragments refer to civil unrest in his native Mytilene while others can be assumed to have been written by Alkaeos while he was in exile; one of my favorites is designated Fragment 283 and deals with the Trojan War; the fragment has only 13 lines and begins by describing Helen's fluttering heart and ends with the word, slaughter; that is one of the most concise descriptions of the Trojan War I have ever read.

There are several excellent collections of lyric poetry that I can personally recommend; if you want to read a sampling of this poetic style, I suggest 7 Greeks by Guy Davenport or Greek Lyric, an Anthology in Translation by Andrew M. Miller; however, the most complete collection is undoubtedly the three volume collection from the Loeb Classical Library, Greek Lyric, Greek Lyric II and Greek Lyric III; you can sometimes find these books at your local library or you can purchase any of these books from the Book Shop on this site; look in the Poetry section.

Alkaeos (Alcaeus) 2

The son of Androgeus and a grandson of King Minos of the island of Crete.

Alkaeos (Alcaeus) 3

The son of Perseus and the father of Amphitryon and thus the step-grandfather of Herakles (Heracles) and grandfather of Iphikles (Iphicles).

Alkamenes (Alcamenes)

The eighth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 740-700 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Very little is known about Alkamenes and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Alkandre (Alcandre)

The wife of Polybos who gave Helen and Menelaos (Menelaus) many gifts when they stopped in the Egyptian city of Thebes, on their way home from the city of Troy.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 4, line 126

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 4, line 140

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 4, line 137

Alkestis (Alcestis) 1

The wife of King Admetos of Pherae in Thessaly.

Alkestis

Apollon arranged the marriage between Admetos and Alkestis but when he found out that Admetos was destined to die immediately after the marriage, he wooed the Eumenides (Furies) with wine until they agreed to allow Admetos to live.

The Eumenides were not easily persuaded; they would only allow Admetos to live on the condition that someone else volunteer to die in his place; Alkestis loved her husband so much that she agreed to die for him.

Herakles (Heracles) was so moved by such an act of selflessness that he intercepted Thanatos (Death) as he was escorting Alkestis to the Underworld and returned her to the land of the living and reunited her with Admetos.

The above image is from an amphora with Hermes and Herakles clearly identified … the female in the image is assumed to be Alkestis simply by context.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 49-50

Alkestis (Alcestis) 2

A tragedy by Euripides (438 BCE) which tells the story of Alkestis and the noble sacrifice of her own life to save her husband, Admetos.

Cast of Characters:

Apollon

Thanatos (Death)

Alkestis (Alcestis)

Admetos (Admetus)

Herakles (Heracles)

Pheres

The story of Alkestis and Admetos is a very confusing moral commentary; when Thanatos (Death) came for Admetos, his wife, Alkestis, bravely stepped forward and offered to die in his place; it would seem that the proper moral thing to do would be for Admetos to prevent his wife from making the ultimate sacrifice and accept his own death but that is not the way the Immortals arranged things.

This play is tragic in that, after Alkestis's death, her husband and young son lament her death and are gripped with woe and foreboding at her passing; with lines like: "Those who are about to die are dead, and the dead are nothing," gives a convincing feel to the veil of grief that cloaks Admetos's palace.

When Admetos's father, Pheres, came to show his respects for the deceased Alkestis, he and Admetos got into a bitter exchange; Admetos called his father a coward for allowing Alkestis to die; Admetos reasons that a man in old age, like Pheres, should be willing to die to save his son or his daughter-in-law; Pheres counters that no matter what age a man or woman attains, life is still dear and that a parent's duty is to protect and nurture their children but it is not the parent's duty to die for their children or vise versa; the confrontation only makes a sad and lamentable situation worse.

Immediately after Alkestis's burial and in conjunction with his Eighth Labor (Capturing the Mares of Diomedes), Herakles (Hercules) came to Admetos's door and was received as a guest even though the house was steeped in sorrow; when Herakles realized that Admetos had tried to make him welcome even though he was grieving, Herakles decided to use his strength to retrieve Alkestis from the House of Hades; the reunion of Admetos and Alkestis crowns the sadness of this play and leaves us with a feeling of mitigated happiness.

I personally recommend the translations compiled by Richmond Lattimore and David Grene; you can find this and other plays by Euripides in the 882 section of your local library or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site.

Alkibiades (Alcibiades)

(450?-404 BCE) An Athenian politician and general.

Alkibiades was admired and despised by the Athenians who alternatively trusted and denounced him during the course of his remarkable public career.

His military accomplishments against the Spartans at Potidaea and Delium led to his election to the post of strategos circa 420 BCE but his desecration of a monument to Hermes (the Hermae) earned him a death sentence.

Alkibiades fled Athens and lived in Sparta where he aided the Spartans in their continuing war against the Athenians; circa 407 BCE he was invited back to Athens as a military commander but he was never able to regain his former prestige and soon retired; he was assassinated by the Persians circa 404 BCE.

Alkimede (Alcimede)

The wife of Aeson and the mother of Jason; she was the daughter of Phylakos (Phylacus) and ylmene (Clymene).

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 46, 233, 251, 259 and 276

Alkimedes (Alcimedes)

The son of Jason and Medeia (Medea).

Alkimedon (Alcimedon) 1

A hero from Arkadia (Arcadia) whose daughter, Philo, was seduced by Herakles (Heracles).

Alkimedon (Alcimedon) 2

A son of Laerkes (Laerces) who was a captain of the Myrmidons under the command of Patroklos (Patroclus) during the siege of the city of Troy.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 16, line 197

The Iliad (Fagles), book 16, line 232

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 16, line 230

Alkinoos (Alcinous)

King of the Phaiakians (Phaeacians); Alkinoos was the husband of Arete and the father of Nausikaa (Nausicaa), Laodamas and Klytoneos (Clytoneus).

The Phaiakians were a mysterious race of seafarers who lived on the island of Scheria; the original leader of the Phaiakians was descended from Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Giants, his name was Nausithoos (Nausithous); Nausithoos had two male children, Rhexenor and Alkinoos; Rhexenor was married and had one daughter named Arete but no male children; Apollon killed Rhexenor with a shower of painless arrows; no specific reason is given as to why Rhexenor was fated to die in such a way.

After the death of Rhexenor, Alkinoos became king of the Phaiakians; he married Arete and she became queen; Alkinoos and Arete became pivotal in two of the most important events in Greek history, the Quest for the Golden Fleece and the Trojan War.

One generation before the Trojan War, Jason and the Argonauts began their Quest for the Golden Fleece; the Golden Fleece was kept in the distant land of Kolchis (Colchis) at the eastern edge of the Euxine (Black Sea); Princess Medeia (Medea) of Kolchis helped Jason take the Golden Fleece and, without her father's knowledge, fled Kolchis with Jason and the Argonauts; Medeia's father, King Aietes (Aeetes), sent his soldiers after Jason and Medeia, and they finally overtook them on Scheria … the island of the Phaiakians.

At the prompting of his wife Arete, Alkinoos gave Jason and Medeia sanctuary but matters became complicated when King Aietes's soldiers arrived and demanded that the princess be returned to her father; King Alkinoos was unsure what to do but Arete devised a clever solution that would satisfy the Kolchians and allow Jason and Medeia to stay together; Arete advised Alkinoos to supervise a wedding between Jason and Medeia so that she (Medeia) would be legally subject to her husband's will and not her father's; Jason and Medeia were married and King Aietes's men were forced to withdraw; the eventual fate of Jason and Medeia was rather tragic but Arete and Alkinoos did all they could to give them a chance at happiness.

Ten years after the Trojan War ended, the wanderer Odysseus washed ashore on Scheria; Odysseus had been tormented and harassed by Poseidon for ten long years and was completely without hope when he finally collapsed on the Phaiakian beach; with the help of the goddess Athene (Athena), Alkinoos's daughter Nausikaa found Odysseus, naked and delirious; the young woman bathed and clothed Odysseus, and took him to her parent's palace; Nausikaa advised Odysseus to go straight to Queen Arete, kneel before her and ask for her protection; Athene put a cloak of mist around Odysseus and he was able to enter the palace and find Arete sitting by the fireplace before anyone saw him; her knelt before Arete and Athene removed the mist that covered him; Arete and Alkinoos welcomed the mysterious stranger and every effort was made to make the weary man comfortable; Alkinoos organized athletic games, a minstrel sang at a banquet and, at the prompting of Alkinoos, all the Phaiakian men presented Odysseus with lavish gifts.

Finally, Alkinoos ordered that a ship be outfitted to take Odysseus home; for helping Odysseus, Poseidon punished the Phaiakians with perpetual obscurity.

The name Alkinoos may also be rendered as Alkinous or Alcinoos.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 6, lines 12, 17, 139, 196, 213, 299, and 302; book 7, passim; book 8, passim; book 11, lines 346, 347, 355, 362 and 378; book 13, passim

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 6, lines 14, 20, 153, 215, 236, 328 and 331; book 7, passim; book 8, passim; book 11, lines 393, 395, 404, 411 and 429; book 13, passim

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 6, lines 15, 22, 150, 210 and 318; book 7, passim; book 8, passim; book 11, lines 403, 414 and 439; book 13, passim

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 1098-1109

Alkithoe (Alcithoe)

A daughter of Minyas; she was driven mad for mocking Dionysos, a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine.

Alkmaeon (Alcmaeon) 1

A son of Amphiaraus (Amphiaraos) and Eriphyle; Alkmaeon was one of the Epigoni, i.e. After-Born.

Alkmaeon's father Amphiaraus was one of the Seven Against Thebes who died in his attempt to capture the city of Thebes; Alkmaeon's mother Eriphyle had accepted the priceless Necklace of Harmonia as a bribe to encourage Amphiaraus to join the doomed expedition to capture Thebes; before he left for his certain death, Amphiaraus made Alkmaeon swear that he would avenge his death not only against the Thebans but against Eriphyle as well.

Alkmaeon was true to his father's wishes; he killed his mother for betraying Amphiaraus and also became a commander of one of the armies which eventually captured Thebes; Alkmaeon thought his actions were noble but the Immortals saw it otherwise; for his misplaced loyalty, Alkmaeon was driven mad by the Erinys (Furies).

The name Alkmaeon may also be rendered as Alkmaion or Alcmaion.

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragment 992, line 1

Alkmaeon (Alcmaeon) 2

A renowned king of Athens; the son of Megakles (Megacles); Alkmaeon was the eponymous founder of the honorable Athenian family known as the Alkmaeonidai (Alcmaionidai).

Alkmaeon became rich when he was invited to the Lydia by King Kroesus (Croesus) and was rewarded by Kroesus for his service to the Lydians when they consulted the Oracle at Delphi.

Kroesus was a graciously eccentric host and told Alkmaeon that he could have all the gold he could carry away from the Lydian treasury; the only conditions Kroesus imposed were that Alkmaeon could only make one trip into the treasury and that the gold had to be carried on his person; Alkmaeon accepted the opportunity and challenge proposed by Kroesus with ingenuity; he put on a large tunic leaving a deep fold to hang down in front and then put on the widest boots he could find; when Alkmaeon was taken into the treasury, he fell upon a heap of gold dust and stuffed his oversized boots and filled the fold of his tunic with gold dust; as a final touch, Alkmaeon sprinkled gold dust on the hair of his head and even put some in his mouth; when Alkmaeon came out of the treasury he had difficulty dragging his boots and his cloths were swelled out to the point that he resembled anything other than a man; instead of being offended, Kroesus was highly amused when he saw Alkmaeon; he let Alkmaeon keep all the gold he had managed to carry from the treasury and then added more gold to Alkmaeon's plunder.

Alkmaeon returned to Athens an exceedingly wealthy man; he became a breeder of chariot horses and won a victory at the Olympic games; his wealth was passed on to his family who, inheriting Alkmaeon's wit and charm, became leading Athenian citizens.

The name Alkmaeon may also be rendered as Alkmaion or Alcmaion.

Histories by Herodotus, 6.123 and 6.125

Alkman (Alcman)

A lyric poet from the seventh century BCE; according to tradition, Alkman was from Sardis, Lydia in Asia Minor but he undoubtedly spent his adult life in Sparta.

The term Lyric Poetry is quite literal and designates poetry written to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre; the lyric poets flourished from roughly 700 BCE until 400 BCE.

Alkman's poems were not typically Lyric and were generally called Partheneion (maiden-song) which were not for solo performance; the Partheneion were choral pieces which were composed for public festivals.

Unfortunately, very little remains of Alkman's work; the few fragments we have are evocative and tantalizing; one such fragment is called, Hymns to Artemis of the Strict Observance; it was a hymn to be sung by young maidens, dressed as doves, at the Feast of the Plow; the imagery and subtle grace of this poem must have been breathtaking in its entirety.

There are several excellent collections of lyric poetry that I can personally recommend; if you want to read a sampling of this poetic style, I suggest 7 Greeks by Guy Davenport or Greek Lyric, an Anthology in Translation by Andrew M. Miller; however, the most complete collection is undoubtedly the three volume collection from the Loeb Classical Library, Greek Lyric, Greek Lyric II and Greek Lyric III; you can sometimes find these books at your local library or you can purchase any of these books from the Book Shop on this site; look in the Poetry section.

Alkmene (Alcmene)

Alkmene

The daughter of Elektryon (Electryon) and the mother of Herakles (Heracles) and Iphikles (Iphicles).

Alkmene's father was accidentally killed in a dispute over some cattle by a young warrior named Amphitryon; in order to repay Alkmene for this cruel accident Amphitryon promised to avenge the murder of her brothers at the hands of the Teleboans.

Amphitryon was to consummate his marriage to Alkmene when he completed his promise but before he could return, Zeus came to Alkmene in the guise of Amphitryon and seduced her; from Zeus she conceived Herakles and from Amphitryon she conceived Iphikles.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 14, line 323; book 19, lines 98 and 119

The Iliad (Fagles), book 14, line 387; book 19, lines 115 and 138

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 14, line 363; book 19, lines 111 and 134

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 120; book 11, line 266

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 2, line 133; book 11, line 302

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 128; book 11, line 304

Theogony, lines 526 and 943

Shield of Herakles, lines 15, 89+ and 467

Eoiae, fragment 99 ii, line 20

Great Eoiae, fragment 2

Hymn to Herakles the Lion-Hearted

Histories by Herodotus, book 2.43 and 2.145

Alkyone (Alcyone) 1

One of the seven daughters of Atlas known as the Pleiades.

The hunter, Orion, relentlessly pursued Alkyone and her sisters until they were changed into pigeons by Zeus and eventually put into the night sky as the constellation, the Pleiades; to see the Pleiades from the northern hemisphere, the sisters are located above and to the right of the constellation of Orion in the zodiacal house of Taurus.

The name Alkyone literally means Sea-Bird.

Alkyone's sisters are: Asterope, Elektra (Electra), Kelaeno (Celaeno), Maia, Merope and Taygete.

Astronomy, fragment 1

Eoiae, fragment 62

Alkyone (Alcyone) 2

One of the daughters of Aeolus (Aiolos) and the wife of Keyx (Ceyx).

Husband and wife were both changed into birds that bore their names; Alkyone was changed into a Kingfisher and Keyx was changed into some other sort of sea bird.

Alkyone's siblings were: Sisyphus, Kanake (Canace), Makareos (Macareus), Athamas, Salmoneus and Kalyke (Calyce).

Alkyone (Alcyone) 3

The by-name (nickname) of the daughter of Marpessa and Idas, Kleopatra (Cleopatra).

When Kleopatra was kidnapped by Apollon, Idas stood up to the god but could not save his maiden daughter.

Alkyone literally means Sea-Bird and the by-name was given to Kleopatra because her mother wailed and cried "like a sea-bird" for her kidnapped daughter's return.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 9, lines 562

The Iliad (Fagles), book 9, line 684 as Halcyon

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 9, line 684

Alkyone (Alcyone) 4

A seabird which is protected by Poseidon (lord of the Sea).

The Alkyone lays its eggs in the winter and to make sure the eggs are not damaged by the cold weather, Poseidon calms the sea and makes the weather mild; the Alkyone lays its eggs on low, rocky outcroppings of the sea and from the shore or from boats, the calm, glassy waters give the illusion that the Alkyone is laying its eggs directly on the surface of the water.

Alkyoneos (Alcyoneus)

Alkyoneos was one of the huge monsters collectively known as the Giants; the Giants were the children of Gaia (Earth) engendered by the blood of Ouranos (the Heavens).

The Giants waged an unsuccessful war on the Olympians and were severely punished after their defeat; the poet Hesiod states that the Giants were banished to the Underworld but Apollodorus of Athens clearly describes the brutal death of the Giants.

The Giants were mostly human in form but their bodies were massive and they were invincible in their might; they had long drooping locks on their heads and chins; their feet had scales like a dragon or serpent; whether they actually had the feet of dragons or whether they were simply scaled was a point of contention among several of the ancient authors; the traveler and historian, Pausanias, disputed the fact that the Giants literally had dragon feet but ancient artwork generally represented the Giants with serpent-like feet.

The origin of the Giants was either Phlegrae or Pallene but it has been suggested that the two names represent the same place; the Immortals were given an oracle which stated that the Giants could not be killed by a god or goddess so they decided to enlist the aid of Herakles (Heracles) to do the actual killing; when Gaia learned of the oracle, she began the preparation of a drug that would protect her awful children but Zeus culled a cunning brew of his own that would make the Giants vulnerable to the wrath of the Immortals; in order to have the time necessary for the creation of the drug, Zeus forbade Eos (Dawn), Selene (Moon) and Helios (Sun) to shine until his task was complete.

The goddess Athene (Athena) summoned Herakles and the war against the Giants began:

Alkyoneos was one of the two most powerful of the Giants; he was brazen in his contempt for the Olympian Gods and even stole the cattle of Helios from Erythia; he was immortal as long as he remained on his home soil, i.e. he could not be killed by man, god or beast as long as he remained in the land of his birth; he was, however, the first of the Giants to die; Herakles shot Alkyoneos with an arrow and the mighty Giant fell to the ground where he was revitalized by the earth and began to recover from the wound; at the advice of Athene, Herakles dragged Alkyoneos out of Pallene where he was no longer protected by his native soil and he died.

Alkyoneos and his brothers all met a similar fate; his brothers were:

Porphyrion - Alkyoneos and Porphyrion were the two most powerful Giants; while Alkyoneos and Herakles were fighting, Porphyrion joined the battle but was immediately distracted by an intervention from Zeus; an irresistible longing for the goddess Hera overcame Porphyrion and he began to tear at the goddesses' garments; Herakles killed Alkyoneos while Porphyrion was lustfully distracted and Zeus struck the unsuspecting Giant with a thunderbolt and rendered him helpless but not dead; Herakles shot Porphyrion with an arrow and killed him.

Ephialtes was shot with an arrow in the left eye by Apollon and then in the right eye by Herakles.

Eurytos (Eurytus) was killed by Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine) with a thyrsus, i.e. a wand wreathed in ivy and vine leaves with a pine cone at the top.

Klytios (Clytius) was killed by the goddess Hekate (Hecate) with torches; presumably he was burned to death.

Mimas was killed when Hephaistos (Hephaestus) showered him with missiles of hot metal.

Enkelados (Enceladus) tried to run away but Athene dropped the island of Sicily on him.

Polybotes was chased by Poseidon to the island of Kos (Cos) where the god broke off a piece of the island (called Nisyrum) and hurled it at the desperate Giant.

Hippolytus (Hippolytos) was killed by Hermes who was wearing the Helm of Hades which made him invisible.

Gration was killed by Artemis; Agrios (Agrius) and Thoas were beaten with brazen clubs by the Fates; the other (unnamed) Giants were struck by thunderbolts from Zeus; Herakles shot and killed each of the Giants with arrows as they lay suffering.

Pausanaus, book 7.29

Library, book 1.6

Theogony, line 185

Allegory

An abstract or symbolic narrative; in Greek, agoreuein means to speak, proclaim.

Almagest

The name of a work on astronomy by Ptolemy, originally called Mathematike Syntaxis (System of Mathematics).

During the Middle Ages the work became known by its Arabic name, Almagest; assumed to have been written between 141 and 147 CE; Almagest means The Greatest, i.e. The Great Compilation.

Aloas

The goddess of the Thrashing Floor.

Aloeus

A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Kanake (Canace); Aloeus was the husband of Iphimedeia (Iphimedea) but her two monstrous sons Otos (Otus) and Ephialtes were from her union with Poseidon.

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragments 5 and 6

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, line 305

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 11, line 348

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 11, line 353

Alope

A daughter of Kerkyon (Cercyon) who was taken by Poseidon (lord of the Sea), and bore him a son, Hippothoos (Hippothous).

Alosedne

A name for Aphrodite (goddess of Love) meaning Sea-Born.

Alpha

The first letter in the Greek alphabet; lowercase α, uppercase Α.

The ancient Greeks did not have lowercase letters in their alphabet; the lowercase letters were not invented until the ninth century CE, i.e. about eleven hundred years ago.

Alpha and Beta (β - Β), the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, were combined to give us the English word Alphabet.

Letters of the Greek alphabet were also used as numerals; the letter alpha represented the number 1 and was written as a simple α or as alpha followed by an acute accent, α'.

Alphabet

An alphabet is a sequence of symbols or letters that compose a written language.

The word Alphabet comes from the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, i.e. Alpha and Beta; originally, the Greek alphabet had nineteen letters and employed no accents when written; the 24 letter Greek alphabet is credited to Kallistratos (Callistratus) of the island of Samos in the forth century BCE.

The dialects used by the ancient Greeks included:

Epic (used by Homer);

Ionic (used by Herodotus);

Doric (used in the Attic choral songs) and

Aeolic (used by Sappho).

Several important things happened to the Greek alphabet circa 400 BCE:

1) In 403 BCE the Athenians incorporated the Samian letter Η (Eta) to represent the long e sound into their alphabet; this was done so that the ε, which was called εἶ (as in eight), could be used as a short e sound and renamed e-psilon (ε-ψιλόν meaning epsilon-plain).

2) Several other letters of the Greek alphabet were renamed circa 400 BCE; the υ had been called ὗ (as in boot) but was renamed υ-ψιλόν (upsilon-plain) to indicate a shorter u sound; the ο had been called οὗ (as in ooze) but was being confused with the ω (as in oh); both letters were renamed to better describe their pronunciation — ο-μικρον (o-small) and ω-μεγα (O-large).

3) Originally, the Greek alphabet had nineteen letters and employed no accents when written; after circa 403 BCE, the regional accents were replaced by Koine, i.e. common pronunciation; in the third century BCE, Byzantine scholars began using accents when writing Greek in order to help non-Greeks master the pronunciation of the language; other accents were used to indicate changes in pitch but were later used to denote stressed syllables.

The noted educator, John Taylor Gatto, has some interesting insights into the importance of the Greek alphabet; he suggests that the Greeks recognized that a "revolutionary power could be unleashed by transcending mere lists, using written language for the permanent storage of analysis, exhortation, visions, and other things. After a period of experiment the Greeks came up with a series of letters to represent sounds of their language. Like the Phoenicians, they recognized the value of naming each letter in a way distinct from its sound value."

The ancient Greek alphabet and the modern Greek alphabet differ in at least two significant ways:

1) The ancient Greeks did not have lowercase letters in their alphabet; the lowercase letters were not invented until the ninth century CE, i.e. about eleven hundred years ago; and

2) The sound associated with some letters has changed dramatically; for example, the modern Beta is called Vetta and pronounced as a V sound whereas the ancient Beta was called Beta and had a B sound; other differences will become apparent as you compare the two alphabets.

Ancient Greek:

The ancient Greek alphabet might be rendered as follows (I have included the lower case form of each letter because they are encountered in almost all Greek language renditions of the ancient classics:

English Name Uppercase Lowercase Greek Name Pronunciation
Alpha Α α alpha cup; father
Beta Β β beta b
Gamma Γ γ gamma hard g; ng; going
Delta Δ δ delta d
Epsilon Ε ε epsilon short e; bet
Zeta Ζ ζ zeta wisdom; dz; adaz
Eta Η η eta long e
Theta Θ θ thata th
Iota Ι ι iota short: bin; long: bean
Kappa Κ κ kappa ka
Lambda Λ λ lambha la
Mu Μ μ mu em
Nu Ν ν nu en
Xi Ξ ξ kse ks/x; tax
Omicron Ο ο omicron short o; pot
Pi Π π pi p
Rho Ρ ρ rho trilled r
Sigma Σ σ sigma s; say
Final Sigma   ς sigma s; say
Tau Τ τ tau t
Upsilon Υ υ upsilon ew; ü
Phi Φ φ phi ph
Chi Χ χ chi kh
Psi Ψ ψ psi ps; hips
Omega Ω ω omega long o; go

Ancient diphthongs:

Diphthong Transliteration Pronunciation
αι ai; ae; e ai; asile; high
αυ au au; sauerkraut
ει ei; e; i ei; sleigh
ευ eu e + u
ηυ eu e + u
οι oi; oe; e; i oi; coin; toy
ου ou; u ou; soup; oo
υι ui uy; ew

Numerals:

Letters of the Greek alphabet were also used as numerals; there were four letters which were dropped from the ancient alphabet but were retained to represent numbers: the digamma (ϝ), the stigma (ϛ), the koppa (ϟ) and the sampi (ϡ).

The following list shows the numbers which corresponded to the letters of the Greek alphabet:

α = 1 β = 2 γ = 3 δ = 4 ε = 5 ϝ = 61 ζ = 7 η = 8 θ = 9
ι = 10 κ = 20 λ = 30 μ = 40 ν = 50 ξ = 60 ο = 70 π = 80 ϙ‬ = 902
ρ = 100 σ = 200 τ = 300 υ = 400 φ = 500 χ = 600 ψ = 700 ω = 800 ϡ = 900

1) The stigma (ϛ) and the sigma-tau (στ) were used to denote the number 6 after the digamma (ϝ) was no longer in use.

2) The Q-shaped koppa (ϙ‬) was used in ancient texts but a new z-shape koppa (Ϟ and ϟ) has been used in offical Greek documents since 1821 CE to represent the number 90.

Modern Greek:

The modern Greek alphabet might be rendered as follows:

English Name Uppercase Lowercase Greek Name Pronunciation
Alpha Α α alpha butt
Beta Β β vetta over
Gamma Γ γ gamma fuego; after i or e = yield
Delta Δ δ thelta th; author
Epsilon Ε ε epsilon long e; beat
Zeta Ζ ζ zeta lazy
Eta Η η eta long e; beat
Theta Θ θ thata th; author
Iota Ι ι yota long e; beat
Kappa Κ κ kappa k; skin
Lambda Λ λ lamtha la; leave
Mu Μ μ me may
Nu Ν ν ne not
Xi Ξ ξ kse ks; box
Omicron Ο ο omacron short o; bought
Pi Π π pe p; spin
Rho Ρ ρ rho three
Sigma Σ σ sigma see; before voiced consonants = lazy
Final Sigma   ς sigma see; before voiced consonants = lazy
Tau Τ τ tau stick
Upsilon Υ υ epsilon long e; beat
Phi Φ φ fe fat
Chi Χ χ he loch; before i or e = hew
Psi Ψ ψ psi ps; taps
Omega Ω ω omega long o; go

Alpheios (Alpheius) 1

Alpheios is the god of the Alpheios River; he is most famous for his love affair with Arethusa; there are several interesting stories about how their love began and ended; one story states that Arethusa was a Nymph who was being pursued by Alpheios; Artemis, goddess of the Hunt, transformed Arethusa into a spring to evade Alpheios; another story relates that Alpheios was a hunter who was in love with a female hunter named Arethusa; she crossed over to the island of Ortygia on Sicily and was transformed into a spring; Alpheios, because of his love for Arethusa, was changed into a river; these stories are justified by the fact that the Alpheios River originates on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, flows under the Adriatic Sea and emerges on Ortygia where it mingles its waters with the spring Arethusa.

His name may also be rendered as Alpheos or Alpheus.

Theogony, line 338

Alpheios (Alpheius) 2

The Alpheios is a river on the Peloponnesian Peninsula which originates at a place appropriately called Pegae (Springs) in Arkadia (Arcadia); the Alpheios then flows past the land of Pisa and past Olympia, it falls into the Adriatic Sea above Kyllene (Cyllene), the port of Elis; the Alpheios flows under the Adriatic Sea and emerges on the island of Ortygia on Sicily where it mingles with the waters of the spring Arethusa.

Herakles (Heracles) diverted the Alpheios to complete his Fifth Labor, i.e. cleaning the stables of Augeas.

The name may also be rendered as Alpheos or Alpheus.

Google Map

Althaia (Althea)

The wife of King Oineus (Oeneus) of Kalydon (Calydon).

Althaia and Oineus had nine children: Pheres, Agelaos (Agelaus), Toxeus, Klymeneos (Clymeneus), Periphas, Gorga, Meleagros (Meleager), Deianeira (Deianira) and Tydeus; of the nine, Meleagros was the most worrisome to Althaia; she was a woman of fierce passion and her bitter resentment of Meleagros's pride made her directly responsible for his untimely death.

Althaia's husband Oineus did not make her life easy; for not offering the first-fruits of the harvest to Artemis (goddess of the Hunt), Oineus caused two calamities to befall Kalydon.

First, Artemis urged the Kouretes (Curetes) to attack Kalydon; Meleagros was expected to lead the defense of the city but he refused to fight; the elders of the city offered many gifts to Meleagros if he would help defend the city and King Oineus begged for his son to take up the sword and save the city from certain destruction; finally, at the pleading of his wife Kleopatra (Cleopatra), Meleagros donned his armor and entered the battle at the last moment; the city was saved but the gifts that he had been offered were not given because the people of Kalydon felt that Meleagros had not done his duty in a proper way.

Secondly, Artemis sent a savage boar to ravage the orchards of Kalydon; Meleagros assembled a company of brave warriors to hunt and kill the boar; the boar hunt became known as The Kalydonian Hunt (Calydonian Hunt); after killing the boar, Meleagros awarded the hide of the boar to the huntress Atalanta because she had been the first to wound the beast; Althaia's brother(s) tried to take the boar hide away from Atalanta and Meleagros killed him (them); Althaia secretly began to plot Meleagros's death.

When Meleagros was born, an oracle informed Althaia that her new son would die as soon as the wood in the hearth was burned away; wishing to save her son, Althaia extinguished the fire and preserved the unburned wood; when Meleagros killed her brother(s), Althaia went into a simmering rage and when she felt the right time had come, took the wood she had hidden at Meleagros's birth and burned it; Apollon killed Meleagros in accordance with the oracle.

We are not informed as to how or when Althaia died but we do know that Oineus remarried and continued on as king of Kalydon after her death; Althaia lived two generations before the Trojan War which was circa 1250 BCE; assuming one generation to be thirty years, that would mean that Althaia lived circa 1310 BCE.

Catalogues of Women and Eoiae, fragments 51 and 98

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 9, line 555

The Iliad (Fagles and Fitzgerald), book 9, line 676

Alyattes

King of Lydia circa 617-560 BCE and the father of Kroesus (Croesus).

When Alyattes became king, he inherited a war of attrition against the people of Miletos (Miletus) that had gone on for twelve years; the war had the same basic theme each year: the Lydians would attack the Milesians and burn their crops but they would not kill the people or destroy their homes.

The Milesians were no match for the powerful army of Alyattes and suffered year after year of deprivation; in the twelfth year of the war, the army of Alyattes accidentally set fire to the temple of Athene (Athena) at Assesos and it was utterly destroyed.

Alyattes and his subjects, gave little thought to the destruction of the temple until Alyattes was afflicted with a lingering illness; he sent an emissary to the oracle at Delphi seeking a cure for his illness and was told that until he rebuilt the temple of Athene at Assesos he would suffer ill health.

The prince of Miletos, Thrasybulus, heard what the oracle had told Alyattes and contrived a way to end the yearly invasion of his country; when Alyattes sent a herald to Miletos seeking a truce so that the temple could be rebuilt, Thrasybulus had the people of Miletos gather all their meager stores of food and wine and stage a mock celebration; the herald of Alyattes saw the display of affluence and dutifully reported the scene to his master; Alyattes was convinced that the years of war against Miletos were in vain and negotiated a permanent truce that included the construction of two temples for Athene.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.17-25

Amathea (Amatheia)

A daughter of Nereus and Doris, i.e. a Nereid.

When Zeus was born, his mother, Rheia (Rhea), hid him from his father, Kronos (Cronos), and placed the infant god in the care of Amathea; she nurtured Zeus and fed him goat's milk; in some versions of the story Amathea is a goat or a Nymph rather than a Nereid.

In gratitude, Zeus supposedly gave Amathea the horn of a goat that would give her anything she desired; this horn was called the Horn of Plenty which the Romans named cornucopia, from the Latin cornu copiae.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 18, line 48

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 18, line 53

Amazons 1

Amazon

The Amazons were a society of female warriors reputed to be the daughters of the war god, Ares and the Nymph, Harmonia.

The Amazons lived at the fringe of the civilized world beyond the shores of the Black Sea in the land of Scythia.

The Greek word, Amazon, comes from the combination of A (meaning Without) and Mazos (meaning Breast); the Amazons were said to have cut off their right breast so that it would not interfere with their use of the bow in battle.

The historian, Herodotus, said that the Scythians called the Amazons oeorpata which is the equivalent of Man Killers (Orer being the Scythian word for Man and Pata meaning Kill).

Early artwork representing the Amazons showed them as fierce warriors but later renderings showed them as comely women dressed in Persian garb.

There are several accounts of Greek heroes encountering the Amazons:

1) When Jason and the Argonauts were sailing to Kolchis (Colchis) to retrieve the Golden Fleece, the blind seer, Phineus told Jason that he would pass the Cape of Zeus, Lord of Hospitality, and see a stone temple which was built by the Amazon queens, Otrere and Antiope, in honor of Ares; Phineus said that if the Argonauts stopped at the temple, they would receive advantageous help from the sea; Phineus was refused to divulge the exact nature of the help the Argonauts would receive but his prophecy proved to be true; also, the Argonauts sailed past the Amazon's homeland which was near the mouth of the river Thermodon where it flows from the Amazonian mountains into the Black Sea; the Amazons did not live in a city but were divided into three tribes: 1) the Themiskyreians (Themiscyreians) who had Hippolyte as their queen, 2) the Lykastians (Lycastians) and 3) the dart-throwing Chadesians;

2) The Ninth Labor of Herakles (Heracles) involved retrieving the belt of the Amazon queen, Hippolyte; the belt that Herakles was supposed to retrieve was not magical or valuable but simply described as a glistening or gaudily woven girdle; Herakles ambushed one of the Amazons, a daughter of Ares named Melanippe, and held her for ransom; Hippolyte surrendered the girdle and Herakles released Melanippe unharmed;

3) When Theseus, king of Athens, encountered the Amazons, he married their queen, Antiope; the subjects of Antiope declared an unsuccessful war on the Athenians;

4) Bellerophontes was sent to Lykia (Lycia) by the jealous king of Argos, Proetus, so that he could be killed; Bellerophontes was given a series of suicidal tasks and one of them was to go to the land of the Amazons and slaughter them; true to his heroic nature, Bellerophontes survived and the Amazons suffered under his sword; and

5) During the siege of the city of Troy, Helen and King Priam had a conversation in which Priam told of the time when he had fought with the Amazons; he said that they were the equal of men and the only reason the Greek men won the battle was because they outnumbered the Amazon women.

The legendary ferocity and uniqueness of the Amazons endures into our modern age; when the Spanish conquistadors were exploring South America (circa 1500 CE) they came across a tribe of women warriors and named the river where the warrior women lived the Amazon.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 3, lines 189; book 6, line 186

The Iliad (Fagles), book 3, line 229; book 6, line 219

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 3, line 224; book 6, line 219

Histories by Herodotus, book 4.110-117; book 9.27

Argonautica, book 2, lines 386, 983 and 1174

Amazons 2

An ancient society of warlike women from Libya; the ancient Amazons flourished thousands of years before the northern, i.e. traditional, Amazons came into existence.

The historian Diodorus Siculus relates that there was a female dominated society known as the Amazons who lived in western Libya before mortal kings ruled in Egypt; Libya included all land west of Egypt in northern Africa; the Amazons of Libya had many things in common with the Amazons who lived at a much later time at the eastern edge of the Black Sea (Pontos Euxinus); Diodorus claims to have taken his account of the ancient Amazons from "many early poets and historians" but the only one he mentions by name is Dionysius of Alexandria (fl. 150 BCE).

The ancient Amazons lived in western Libya at the edge of the inhabited world; they were a society completely dominated by women; all young women were required to serve in the army and could not associate with men until their military obligations were complete; men were relegated to working in the homes and tending the children; the men had no social freedoms whatsoever; young girls had their breasts seared off so that they would not develop at maturity and become a hindrance when fighting, thus the name A (without) Mazos (breast).

The location of the home of the ancient Amazons is described in several ways: 1) it was near the Atlantic Ocean; 2) it was near Mount Atlas; 3) it was on a large island named Hespera; and 4) it was in a marsh called Tritonis which was fed by the river Triton.

The island of Hespera, whose name simply means West, supported fruit trees as well as herds of goats and sheep but would not grown grains; the Amazons ruled the island from their city of Cherronesus (implying a peninsula) and, with the exception of the sacred city of Mene, ruled all the neighboring tribes and lands; Mene was exempt from Amazon occupation because it was inhabited by Ethiopian Ichthyophagi (Fish-Eaters) and also because it was prone to fiery eruptions; as to why the Fish-Eaters would be a deterrent to Amazon domination is not clear and although Mene was prone to fiery eruptions, it also possessed a multitude of precious stones which were called anthrax (ruby), sardion (cornelian) and smaragdos (any green stone).

The Amazons were highly trained and well armed warriors; their shields were made from the skins of large snakes which were common to Libya; their primary offensive weapons were swords and lances; they were very skilled in the use of bows and arrows in that they could not only use them facing forwards but also effectively shoot backwards when they were being pursued.

The first major civilization to be conquered by the Amazons was that of the Atlantians; with an army of thirty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry Queen Myrina of the Amazons captured the Atlantian city of Kerne (Cerne); in order to strike fear into the neighboring cities, the Amazons killed all the men of Kerne and enslaved all the women and children; the remainder of the Atlantian cities surrendered without a fight and accepted the Amazons as their masters; after Kerne was reduced to rubble, Queen Myrina rebuilt the city and named it after herself.

The Atlantians urged Queen Myrina to go to war against their hostile neighbors, the Gorgons; this was another race of warlike women who constantly raided the borders of the Atlantian country; after a pitched battle with the Gorgons, the Amazons withdrew without a decisive victory; Perseus would later kill Queen Medusa of the Gorgons and Herakles (Heracles) exterminated the race entirely.

As time went by, the Amazons relaxed their guard and the captive Atlantian women attacked and killed many of the Amazons until they were able to mount a counterattack; the fury of the Amazons was unleashed and all the rebels were butchered; Queen Myrina ordered that mounds be raised for the fallen Amazons and they were called the Amazon Mounds.

Queen Myrina went on to visit most of Libya and finally entered Egypt where she made a treaty with the God-King Horus; she then made war on the Arabians and conquered Syria; as she made her way north and west, the nations which surrendered to her remained free; when she reached the Aegean Sea at Pergamum; she founded many cities and named them after herself (Myrina in Mysia), her sister (Mitylene on the island of Lesbos) as well as Kyme (Cyme), Pitana and Priene which were named after her subordinate commanders.

While sailing in the northern Aegean Sea, Queen Myrina was caught in a storm; she offered up prayers to Kybele (Cybele) as the Mother of the Gods and was carried safely to an uninhabited island; Myrina had a prophetic dream and named the island Samothrace, which means Sacred Island; from there, Myrina and her army made their way back to Libya.

The reign of Queen Myrina ended violently when an army of exiles led by Mopsos (Mopsus) of Thrake (Thrace) and Sipylos (Sipylus) of Scythia invaded the territory of the Amazons; Queen Myrina and the larger part of her army were killed; the remainder of the Amazons retreated to their homeland and were eventually annihilated by Herakles.

At the beginning of book 4, Diodorus Siculus offers a pseudo-apology for the historians who preceded him because of their reluctance to write about truly ancient events; he believed that they simply could not grasp the time frame in which the oldest stories took place and for that reason ignored them; in keeping with the boldness of Diodorus, I too will offer dates, no matter how unlikely they may seem, for some of the events related to Greek mythology and history; the following approximation of the dates for the ancient Amazons will fall in that category.

We are given several clues as to the time period in which the ancient Amazons lived:

The first clue would be their war with the Atlantians; Atlantis existed before 8600 BCE and, although declining in influence, Atlantis was still a vital and prosperous land when the Amazons invaded.

The second clue is the treaty Queen Myrina made with the God-King Horus of Egypt; Egypt was first ruled by a series of gods and then by demigods but the first human kings did not rule until circa 3100 BCE; Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, was one of the last God-Kings and ruled Egypt circa 8970 BCE; he ruled for 300 years.

Using the above dates as rough guidelines, we might assume that the ancient Amazons flourished circa 8700 BCE. I realize that the above dates may seem incredible, but I remind you that they are only a crude attempt to place the ancient Amazons in a timeline.

Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, book 3.52-55

Amber Islands

A name given by the Greeks in later times to the islands of the North Sea; also called the Elektrides (Electrides).

Google Map

Ambrosia

The food of the Immortals.

During the siege of the city of Troy and after the death of his dear friend, Patroklos (Patroclus), Achilles refused to sleep or rest until the he had exacted his revenge on the Trojans; at the command of Zeus, the goddess, Athene (Athena), came to Achilles in the guise of a hawk and put ambrosia and nectar in his breast so that he would not suffer from hunger or weakness when the fighting began again.

When Hera entered the gates of Mount Olympos (Olympus), the Horae (The Hours) tended her horses and fed them ambrosia because they were immortal.

In order to get the giants, Briareos, Kottos and Gyes, to join the Olympians in the war against the Titans, Zeus released them from their underground prison and fed them nectar and ambrosia to renew their vitality.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 8, line 434; book 19, lines 347 and 353

The Iliad (Fagles), book 8, line 499; book 19, lines 412 and 418

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 8, line 490; book 19, lines 381 and 387

Amestris

The wife of King Xerxes and the mother of Darius.

As the queen of the Persian Empire, Amestris was accustomed to the intrigues and excesses of her husband, Xerxes, but she exceeded all others in heavy-handed cruelty.

When Xerxes tried, and failed, to seduce his brother's wife he set his designs on his son's wife, Artaynte; Amestris devised a clever and evil plan to punish her husband and foil his impulses for infidelity; she gave Xerxes an exquisite cloak that she knew young Artaynte would covet; Xerxes gave the cloak to Artaynte as Amestris predicted and by doing so Amestris knew without doubt that her husband was being unfaithful to her.

Amestris waited for the king's birthday and, as custom dictated, the king was obliged to grant favors and give gifts to his subjects; Amestris asked Xerxes for Artaynte's mother as a gift and he could not refuse even though he suspected an evil end to such an unusual request; Amestris had Artaynte's mother killed and mutilated.

Xerxes feared revenge for such unjustified treatment of the innocent woman and had his brother, his nephews and their supporters murdered to prevent any retaliation.

Histories by Herodotus, book 9.108-113

Ammon

The Egyptian god which the Greeks equated with Zeus.

The oracle of Ammon in Libya has a special significance the Greeks because after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, he went to Libya to consult the oracle and supposedly gained favor from the god to continue his conquests.

The Oracle of Ammon and the oracle of Dodona are assumed to be the two oldest Greek oracles in existence; two priestesses with the skill of divination were carried away by Phoenicians; one was sold in Libya and the other was sold in Greece; the two women taught their skills to other women and thus the Greeks obtained their first oracles.

Histories by Herodotus, book 2.54-58

Amorgos

A Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea in the Kyklades (Cyclades) Group southeast of the large island of Naxos and eastern-most of the Kyklades.

The island is 46.7 square miles (121 square kilometers) in area with a shore line of 69.6 miles (112 kilometers).

Approximate East Longitude 25º 59' and North Latitude 36º 50'

Google Map

Ampelos

A satyr who was placed among the stars by Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine).

Amphiaraus (Amphiaraos)

The husband of Eriphyle and father of Alkmaeon (Alcmaeon) and Amphilochus.

Amphiaraus was a participant in the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt and one of the Seven Against Thebes; his life and death were tied to the Necklace of Harmonia which was crafted by Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and presumed to be a curse to anyone who possessed it.

Polyneikes (Polyneices) was the son of Oedipus and as a direct descendant of the founder of the city of Thebes, inherited the Necklace of Harmonia as his birthright; when Polyneikes was exiled in Argos and organizing the attack on Thebes, he bribed Amphiaraus's wife Eriphyle with the Necklace of Harmonia to persuade Amphiaraus to join the quest to conquer the city; the armies which were formed to attack Thebes were called the Seven Against Thebes.

Amphiaraus was a seer and knew that when the Seven Against Thebes attacked Thebes it would be fatal to himself and most of the other soldiers in the armies; regardless of his foreknowledge, he marched off to Thebes and his doom; before he left for war, Amphiaraus made his son Alkmaeon swear that he would take vengeance on Eriphyle and the city of Thebes so that his death would not be forgotten.

A generation later, Alkmaeon avenged his father's death when he killed his mother and became a commander in the army known as the Epigoni, i.e. After-Born (the children of the Seven); the Epigoni were led by King Adrastus (Adrestos) of Sikyon (Sicyon) and they successfully captured Thebes.

Amphiaraus did not die in the assault on Thebes but he, his chariot and horses were swallowed by the earth on the road between Thebes and Chalkis (Chalcis) at a place called Chariot. Amphiaraus was deified after death and an oracle was established in his name at the city of Oropus (Oropos); to prove his divinity, Amphiaraus made himself known to the Thebans through an oracle and asked if they would prefer him to assist them as an oracle or as an ally in war; the Thebans chose to have Amphiaraus as an ally in war and thereafter Thebans were forbidden to sleep in the Temple of Amphiaraus to receive his oracles; the cult of Amphiaraus eventually spread throughout Greece and his fame lasted well into Roman times before his shrine at Oropus was destroyed.

Amphictyonic League

Called the Amphiktyonia (Amphictyonia); the council was composed of deputies from several Greek cities which met twice a year at the cities of Delphi and Thermopylae.

The primary concern of the League was religious matters and their unity had little effect in resolving political or military disputes; the League was supposedly founded by the legendary ruler, Amphiktyon (Amphictyon).

Amphidamas

One of the sons of Aleus and brother of Auge and Kepheus (Cepheus).

Amphidamas and Kepheus joined the Argonauts in the Quest for the Golden Fleece; the Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

When the Argonauts were in the Euxine (Black Sea) they came upon the Island of Ares and were attacked by dangerous birds with arrow-like feathers; Amphidamas wisely advised the Argonauts to not waste their arrows trying to shoot the birds out of the sky; instead, he told them that he had seen Herakles (Heracles) fight the Stymphalian Birds using a pair of krotalas (castanet-like clappers) and the noise frightened the birds away; Amphidamas suggested that half the Argonauts row the Argo to safety while the other half don their armor to protect the ship; the idea was for the armed men to cover the rowers with their shields and project their spears from the sides of the ship; to add to the bird's confusion, Amphidamas told the armed men to move their heads vigorously so that the plums on their helmets would distract and frighten the birds.

Competitive games were held in the city of Chalkis (Chalcis) on the island of Euboea in honor of Amphidamas; the poet Hesiod said that he competed in the games and won a prize for one of his songs.

Works and Days, lines 655+

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 161; book 2, line 1046

Amphiktyon (Amphictyon)

A son of Deukalion (Deucalion) and Pyrrha and the brother of the founder of the Greek race, Hellen.

Amphiktyon seized the throne of Attica and devised a plan for avoiding disputes at his council meetings by becoming the first man to mix water with wine; he is credited with founding the Amphictyonic League.

Amphillogias (Amphilogiai)

Disputations or Disputes; the daughters of Eris (Discord).

Theogony, line 229

Amphilochus

One of the sons of Amphiaraus and the brother of Alkmaeon (Alkmaeon); Amphilochus founded the city of Posideium in northern Syria.

Amphimarus

A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea); Amphimarus and the Muse, Ourania (Urania), are believed to be the parents of the poet Linus (Linos).

Amphinomos (Amphinomus)

He was the most aggressive and considered to be the best man among the suitors of Penelope.

Amphinomos was killed by Odysseus's son, Telemachos (Telemachus).

When Odysseus went to fight in the Trojan War, he left his wife, Penelope, and infant son, Telemachos (Telemachus), at his home on the island of Ithaka (Ithaca); the Trojan War lasted for ten years and it took Odysseus another ten years to return home; after leaving Troy, Odysseus's whereabouts were unknown and many presumed him to be dead; Penelope was besieged by suitors who wanted to marry her and claim Odysseus's vast riches; for the most part, the suitors were indulgent and squandered Odysseus wealth with banquets and excessive drinking; when Odysseus finally returned home, he punished the suitors with the brutal deaths they deserved.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 16, lines 351, 394 and 406; book 18, lines 119, 125, 395, 412 and 424; book 20, lines 244 and 247; book 22, lines 89 and 96

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 16, lines 388, 437 and 450; book 18, lines 138, 145, 445, 465 and 478; book 20, line 271; book 22, lines 94 and 102

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 16, lines 421 and 478; book 18, lines 152, 157, 482, 502 and 516; book 20, line 268; book 22, lines 95 and 103

Amphion 1

The husband of Niobe; Amphion and his brother Zethos (Zethus) were sons of Zeus and Antiope.

Amphion presumably built the foundations and bulwarks of the city of Thebes by moving the stones with the enchanting music from his kithara.

In the play, Antiope, by Euripides, the story was expanded and the twin boys, now grown to manhood, avenged the harsh treatment their mother had received at the hands of her uncle and aunt, Lykus (Lycus) and Dirke (Dirce); as punishment for their ill-treatment of Antiope, Lykus was deposed as the king of Thebes and Dirke was killed cruelly on the horns of a bull.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, line 262

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 11, line 321

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 11, line 325

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 736 and 740

Amphion 2

Amphion and his brother Asterios were the sons of Hyperasios (Hyperasius) and Hypso from Pellene; Amphion and Asterios were most noted for being Argonauts.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 176

Amphion 3

The son of Iasos, king of Orchomenos.

Amphion was the father of Chloris and thus, the grandfather of Nestor, Chromios, Periklymenos (Periclymenos) and beautiful Pero.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, line 283

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 11, line 298

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 11, line 299

Amphipolis

A city in Thrake (Thrace) on the Strymon River approximately 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the coast of the Gulf of Strimon.

The area around the city has been inhabited since the Neolithic Period and continuously populated since the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BCE).

The city was occupied by the Greeks as early as the seventh century BCE and gained great importance with the discovery of nearby gold mines.

In 442 BCE, soon after the Peloponnesian War began between Athens and Sparta, Amphipolis declared its independence; in 357 BCE, Amphipolis fell under the control of Phillip II of Macedon.

Approximate East Longitude 23º 86' and North Latitude 40º 80'

Google Map

Amphipolos

Epithet for Aphrodite (goddess of Love) as the Busy-One.

Amphiro

An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

Theogony, line 356

Amphithemis

A son of Apollon and Akakallis (Acacallis).

Amphithemis was also called Garamas; his home was in Libya and he had two sons: Nasamon and Kaphauros (Caphaurus); his wife was a Nymph but her name is not known to us.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 1485-1501

Amphitrite

One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.

Amphitrite

(Poseidon and Amphitrite)

Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) who helped Theseus retrieve the ring that King Minos threw into the sea as a test of Theseus's divine heritage; when the king of the island of Crete, Minos, met Theseus he doubted that the young man was actually the son of Poseidon; as a test, Minos threw a ring into the sea and waited to see if Theseus could retrieve it; Amphitrite caught the ring and returned it to the hand of Theseus.

Amphitrite is also called Queen of the Sea.

Other than a passing reference to her name, the only Nereid to receive any individual attention in the ancient literature was Thetis; as the mother of Achilles and one of the few goddesses to refuse the amorous intentions of Zeus, Thetis was unique; when the Immortals needed the Nereids, they called upon Thetis to rally her sisters for whatever task was needed.

The Nereids and the Argonauts - After Jason and the Argonauts had taken the Golden Fleece from Kolchis (Colchis), Medeia (Medea), the daughter of King Aietes (Aeetes), helped Jason murder her half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus) in a rather cowardly way; Zeus swore revenge for such a dastardly act but his sister/wife Hera wanted to protect the Argonauts until Jason and Medeia could be absolved of their crime by the Dread-Goddess Kirke (Circe); Hera called upon Thetis to gather the Nereids so they could quiet the waters of the sea so the Argonauts could safely navigate to Kirke's island; Thetis plunged into the sea and called to her sisters; her call was answered and the Nereids helped save the Argonauts.

The Nereids at the funeral of Patroklos (Patroclus) - In the last year of the Trojan War, Achilles's companion Patroklos was killed; Achilles took Patroklos's death very hard and called out to his mother Thetis for consolation; Thetis and the Nereids rose from the sea and graced the dead body of Patroklos with their divine presence.

The Nereids at the funeral of Achilles - The death of Achilles was one of the most dramatic events of the Trojan War; as the son of Thetis, his death had particular significance to the Nereids; at the funeral of Achilles, Thetis, the Nereids and the Muses all came to pay their respects.

Theogony, lines 240-264

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb) book 3, line 91; book 5, line 422; book 12, lines 60 and 97

The Odyssey (Fagles) book 3, line 101; book 5, line 466; book 12, lines 67 and 107

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald) book 3, line 99 (not mentioned by name but as "the stormwaves on the deep sea"); book 5, line 440; book 12, lines 72 and 115

Amphitryon

The son of Alkaeos (Alcaeus); the husband of Alkmene (Alcmene) and the father of Iphikles (Iphicles) and step-father of Herakles (Heracles).

As a young man, Amphitryon, had accidentally killed Alkmene's father in a dispute over some cattle and, to repay her for this cruel accident, Amphitryon promised to avenge the murder of her brothers at the hands of the Teleboans; Amphitryon was to consummate his marriage to Alkmene when he completed his promise but, before he could return, Zeus came to Alkmene in the guise of Amphitryon and seduced her; from Zeus Alkmene conceived Herakles and from Amphitryon she conceived Iphikles.

Shield of Herakles, lines 89+

Amphora (Amphoras) 1

Amphora

A two handled storage container made of fired clay which date to the eighth century BCE; the sizes of the amphorae can vary from large to small and, depending on their intended use, amphorae were either decorated or not, i.e. when used for commercial transport, the amphorae were quite plain and unadorned but those used in a household or temple tended to be painted so elaborately that they could be considered to be works of art.

The word Amphora (amphi-phoreus) can be literally translated to mean "carried from both sides," thus the handle on each side of the container.

Amphora (Amphoras) 2

A unit of measure; approximately six gallons.

Amphoriskos

A miniature Amphora, i.e. a jar or vase with an oval body, narrow cylindrical neck and two handles that rise almost to the level of the mouth; an amphoriskos is typically four inches tall.

Amusia

The inability to produce or comprehend musical sounds; the word is formed from the prefix A meaning "without" and Muse meaning "The Muses," i.e. artistic inspiration.

Amyklae (Amyclae)

An ancient city in Lakonia (Laconia) slightly southeast of Sparta on the eastern banks of the Eurotas River.

Amyklae was founded by Amyklas (Amyclas) and renowned as a city of fierce independence; when the Dorians invaded Greece in the twelfth century BCE, the citizens of Amyklae remained aloof to their influence and even after the Dorians had taken control of the city, the native inhabitants continued to maintain their customs and tradition.

Soldiers from Amyklae participated in the Trojan War.

The exact location of the ancient city is not known because it was never very large or rich and therefore lost in the mists of time.

The name, Amyklae, may also be rendered as Amyklia or Amyclia.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 584

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 676

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 689

Amyklaean Apollon

A name for Apollon in the Lakonian (Laconian) city, Amyklia (Amyclia).

Amyklas (Amyclas)

The father of Hyakinthus (Hyacinthus) and the founder of the city of Amyklae (Amyclae) on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Amykos (Amycos)

A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and the Nymph, Melie.

Amykos was the king of the Bebrykians (Bebrycians) and was known for his ruthlessness and his skill at boxing.

When the Argonauts sought hospitality from Amykos, he challenged their best man to fight with him; since Herakles (Heracles) was no longer with the Argonauts, Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux) rose to the challenge; he literally beat Amykos to death.

The name, Amykos, may also be rendered as Amykus or Amycus.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 2, lines 1-10

Amymone

One of the fifty daughters of Danaus collectively called the Danaids.

Amymone and her sisters were forced to marry their cousins but, at the prompting of their father, all of the sisters with the exception of Hypermnestra, killed their husbands on their wedding night; their punishment was to try and fill leaky jars with water in the Underworld for eternity.

Amymone was seduced by Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and had a son named Nauplios; Poseidon created and named a spring after Amymone.

Amyntas

The father of Philip II and thus the grandfather of Alexander the Great.

Amyntor

The father of Phoinix (Phoenix) and husband of Kleobule (Cleobule).

When Amyntor was being unfaithful to Kleobule, she begged Phoinix to seduce the mistress and turn her affections away from Amyntor; when Amyntor detected the plot, he cursed Phoinix and drove him from the city of Kalydon (Calydon).

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 9, line 448

The Iliad (Fagles), book 9, line 545

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 9, line 546

Amystis

A large cup commonly used in the district of Thrake (Thrace).

Amythaon

The son of Kretheus (Cretheus) and Tyro who supported Jason's claim to the throne of Iolkos (Iolcos).

Anabasis

Sometimes called The Persian Expedition; a book by Xenophon describing the plight of ten thousand Greek mercenaries who were forced to fight their way from central Persia back to Greek-controlled territory.

After the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) had ended, Greece was awash with career soldiers who became mercenaries for lack of any other marketable skills.

Xenophon was not a soldier but became involved with the army of mercenaries who had been hired by Cyrus the Younger, the brother of the Persian king, Artaxerxes II.

Cyrus hired the Greek soldiers to augment his army in an attempt to put himself on the throne and depose Artaxerxes; the Greeks fought valiantly and, compared to their Persian counterparts, were superior in all matters of warfare.

After the army had penetrated deep into Persia, Cyrus was killed and the Persian segment of the army was utterly defeated; the Greeks were victorious but, after the death of Cyrus, they had no sponsor, i.e. paymaster, and thus, no incentive to continue the fight.

The victorious Persians demanded that the Greeks disarm and become soldiers of Artaxerxes; the Greeks reasoned that in order to be soldiers, for Artaxerxes or anyone else, they could not surrender their arms; after fruitless negotiations to disarm the Greeks, the Persians agreed to let the Greeks return to the Aegean coast, i.e. Greek territory, unhindered.

The Persians requested that all the high ranking Greek commanders attend the signing of a peace accord and, in an act of unmitigated barbarity, the Persians murdered many of the Greek officers; the remnants of the Greek command staff were mostly officers of mid-rank and not qualified to lead an army but necessity dictated that the Greeks either die fighting or die like sheep.

Xenophon was not a soldier but his rational and successful suggestions soon made him the commander of the Greeks; he earned the respect of the soldiers and officers because he conducted his affairs in an honest and democratic way and was willing to undertake any plan or maneuver that would work, regardless of the source of the idea.

The ten thousand soldiers were reduced to six thousand as fought their way back to Greek territory; the story is true and inspiring and a "must read" for all students of history or anyone with a fascination for the origins of military strategy and the triumph of the human spirit.

The name Anabasis means "up-country" or "going up"; the Greeks used the term as an idiom in the same way we might say "downtown" to indicate the center of a city; Anabasis was the common term for anyone traveling from the Aegean Sea to the center of the Persian Empire.

I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 90 (ISBN 0674991001) translated by Carleton L. Brownson; you can find this book at your local library or it can be ordered from the Book Shop on this site.

Anadyomene

One of the names of Aphrodite (goddess of Love) which literally means, to rise up from the sea.

Anaetius

One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BCE).

Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy; an oligarchy is a system of government allowing a few select people or families to rule a city or region based on the assumption that their bloodline or intellect gave them a superior predisposition and right to rule.

The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence.

Open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.

Hellenica, book 2.3

Anakeion (Anaceion)

A name given to temples of the Dioscuri, i.e. Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux) who were the twin sons of Zeus and Leda.

Anakreon (Anacreon)

A lyric poet from the late sixth century, i.e. circa 570 BCE; he was from the coastal Ionian city of Teos, in Asia Minor.

The term Lyric Poetry is quite literal and designates poetry written to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre; the lyric poets flourished from roughly 700 BCE until 400 BCE.

The fragmented remains of the lyric poems written by Anakreon are actually quite charming; they tend to remind me of Sappho with their simplistic romantic innocence.

There are several excellent collections of lyric poetry that I can personally recommend; if you want to read a sampling of this poetic style, I suggest 7 Greeks by Guy Davenport or Greek Lyric, an Anthology in Translation by Andrew M. Miller; however, the most complete collection is undoubtedly the three volume collection from the Loeb Classical Library, Greek Lyric, Greek Lyric II and Greek Lyric III; you can sometimes find these books at your local library or you can purchase any of these books from the Book Shop on this site; look in the Poetry section.

Anarchy

A modern term derived from the Greek word Anarchia; the word literally means Without Archon, i.e. without a democratically elected leader of the government.

Anarchia

A term which refers to the year 404 BCE in which the city of Athens had no Archon, i.e. without a democratically elected leader of the government.

Anarchia literally means Without Archon; instead of an Archon, the city was ruled by Thirty Tyrants who were elected at the end of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE); the reign of the Thirty Tyrants lasted only one year; the short lived government they instituted was an oligarchy; an oligarchy is a system of government allowing a few select people or families to rule a city or region based on the assumption that their bloodline or intellect gave them a superior predisposition and right to rule.

The modern term, anarchy, is derived from Anarchia and refers to an ungoverned state with the connotation of lawlessness and chaos.

Anatolia

The area between the Aegean Sea and the Euphrates River; called Asia Minor by the Romans; the word, Ανατολη, in Greek literally means The Rising of the Sun, i.e. The Place of the Sunrise.

Google Map

Anauros (Anaurus)

A river which flows from Mount Pelion to the Gulf of Pagasai (Pagasae); the river in which Jason lost his sandal on his way to Iolkos (Iolcos).

The river Anauros also washed away all traces of the grave of Ares's son, Kyknos, after he had been killed in battle with Herakles (Heracles); Kyknos had offended Apollon by stealing sacrifices intended for the god and Anauros obliterated Kyknos's grave at Apollon's request.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 9

Shield of Herakles, line 477

Anax

One of the Giants; the father of Asterios.

Anaxagoras

A Greek philosopher circa 500-428 BCE.

Anaxagoras was originally from Klazomenae (Clazomenae) in Ionia but, at age 40, he went to Athens and became well known to Pericles.

Anaxagoras is credited with the concept of Dualism in which Mind and Matter are two different realms of reality; he is also credited with being the first man to explain the nature of solar eclipses.

Anaxagoras was called Nous (Mind) because of his remarkable intellect; he taught that Necessity was the dominating force of the universe and that Chance was an antiquated, superstitious belief that had no logical basis or intellectual foundation.

Text References

Anaxandridas I

The eighth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 675-660 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Very little is known about Anaxandridas I and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Anaxandridas II

The fourteenth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 560-520 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Very little is known about Anaxandridas II and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Anaxandros

The eleventh Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 640-615 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Very little is known about Anaxandros and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Anaxarete

A princess who was turned to stone for scorning the love of a commoner.

Anaxibia 1

A daughter of Atreus and Aerope; the sister of Agamemnon and Menelaos (Menelaus); the mother of Pylades.

Anaxibia 2

The wife of the aged Greek hero, Nestor.

Anaxibia 3

The wife of King Pelias of Iolkos (Iolcos) and the mother of the Argonaut, Akastos (Acastus).

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Anaxilas

The tenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 645-625 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Very little is known about Anaxilas and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Anaximander of Miletos

A Greek astronomer and philosopher from Miletos (Miletus) circa 611-547 BCE; he is credited with the invention of the sundial.

His name is also rendered Anaximandros.

Text References

Anaximenes

A sixth century Greek philosopher at Miletos (Miletus) who taught that all material things were derived from air.

Text References

Anayros

A river in Thessaly; the name implies a Torrent.

Anchises

The consort of Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and the father of the Trojan hero, Aineias (Aeneas).

Anchises had the singular honor of being to only mortal man to father a child with the goddess of Love, Aphrodite; Zeus caused Aphrodite to fall in love with Anchises so that she would not be too proud of the fact that she was able to make the other Immortals fall in love with mortal men and women.

Aphrodite pretended to be a mortal maiden who had been taken from her home in Phrygia by Hermes and left on Mount Ida in order to become Anchises wife; Anchises willingly believed her because she was so beautiful; after they had consummated their love, Aphrodite revealed her true identity; she told Anchises that he would become the father of a noble prince of the Trojans with many fine heirs; she said that their son would be named Aineias, meaning Awful, because she had been made to love a mere mortal and, even though Anchises was righteous and handsome, she found their union to be offensive and beneath her station.

Their son, Aineias, was one of the most stalwart of the Trojan allies during the siege of the city of Troy and was under the constant protection of his immortal mother, Aphrodite.

Anchises stole several of the horses which Zeus had given Tros as compensation for the abduction of Tros's son, Ganymede; Anchises bred these horses and gave the offspring to his son, Aineias, to be used as his chariot horses during the siege of Troy.

Anchises had a daughter named Hippodameia (Hippodamia) who surpassed all young women of her age in beauty and wit; Hippodameia married one of the finest men of Troy, Alkathoos (Alcathous), but he was killed defending Troy by the unstoppable Idomeneus.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 820; book 5, lines 268 and 313; book 13, line 428; book 20, lines 208, 239 and 240

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 931; book 5, lines 296 and 350; book 13, line 496; book 20, lines 243, 276 and 277

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 987; book 5, lines 285 and 364; book 13, line 489; book 20, lines 240, 272 and 273

Hymn to Aphrodite, lines 45-201

Androgeus

The son of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae of the island of Crete; the father of Alkaeos (Alcaeus).

When Androgeus went to the first Panathenaic Games in Athens he attracted the ire of King Aegeus by winning all the prizes; Aegeus had Androgeus killed and Minos waged war on Athens to avenge his son.

Peace was won only with the promise that Athens would send seven young men and seven young women every year to Minos in order to be slain by the ungodly Minotaur; the tradition continued until Theseus killed the Minotaur.

Androktasias (Androktasiai)

Slaughters or Manslaughters; the children of the goddess of Discord, Eris.

Theogony, line 228

Shield of Herakles, line 155

Andromache 1

The wife of the Trojan hero, Hector, and the mother of Astyanax.

Andromache was the daughter of King Eetion of the city of Thebes; when Andromache married Hector she was an orphan because Achilles had killed her father, Eetion, and her seven brothers; Achilles honored Eetion after murdering him by burning his body without stripping his armor and then piled a burial mound over his remains; the Nymphs of the mountains planted elm trees over the mound as a tribute to Eetion.

Andromache's mother was captured by Achilles and returned for ransom but Artemis killed her with a shower of arrows.

After the fall of the city of Troy, Astyanax was killed by Achilles's son, Neoptolemus (Neoptolemos), and Andromache was forced into slavery.

After Neoptolemus's death Andromache married one of the surviving sons of Priam, the seer Helenos; they eventually lived in Asia Minor with their son, Pergamum.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 6, lines 371, 377, 395 and 405; book 8, line 187; book 17, line 208; book 24, line 723

The Iliad (Fagles), book 6, lines 441, 448, 467 and 480; book 8, line 211; book 17, line 239; book 24, line 850

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 6, lines 432, 438, 458 and 472; book 8, line 212; book 17, line 232; book 24, line 864

Andromache 2

A tragedy by Euripides performed in Athens circa 426 BCE.

Cast of Characters:

Andromache

Hermione

Menelaos (Menelaus)

Peleus

Orestes

The goddess Thetis

Andromache was the wife of the slain leader of the Trojan army, Hector; after the fall of the city of Troy, she was forced into slavery by Neoptolemus (Neoptolemos), the son of the fallen Greek hero, Achilles, and became his concubine; Neoptolemus and Andromache have a young son named Molossus.

The play opens with Andromache hiding in the temple of the goddess Thetis; Thetis is the mother of Achilles and thus the grandmother of Neoptolemus; Andromache thinks that Thetis will protect her from the murderous plots that are being hatched in the palace while Neoptolemus is away consulting the oracle of Apollon at Delphi; Neoptolemus has married Herminie (Hermionie), the daughter of Helen and the king of Sparta, Menelaos (Menelaus); Hermione is extremely agitated that she has not been able to give Neoptolemus a child and she blames Andromache by saying that a spell has been cast upon her; her solution is simple and direct, she wants to kill Andromache and her son Molossus.

As a precaution, Andromache has sent Molossus out of the country but she soon learns that Menelaos has kidnapped Molossus and holding him as a hostage; Andromache tries to reason with Hermione by saying that a mere concubine and slave is no threat to her position as the legal wife of Neoptolemus and that the illegitimate son of a concubine can never presume to be a king; Hermione is resolute and promises Andromache that she and her son will die.

Menelaos confronts Andromache and says that if she will leave the sanctuary of Thetis's temple her son will be spared a cruel death; Andromache sees the hopelessness of her situation and finally surrenders to Menelaos; he then tells her that she has been tricked and that she and her son will both be killed; Andromache berates Menelaos and calls all Spartans cowards and liars; Menelaos freely admits that he has no scruples regarding the death of his enemies and that while Neoptolemus is away from the city, he (Menelaos) can act without legal or moral restraint.

At this point, Peleus enters the scene; he is the grandfather of Molossus and he demands that Menelaos release Andromache and his grandson; the two men argue and finally Peleus threatens to assault Menelaos if the hostages are not freed; Menelaos is not really afraid of the old man but agrees to release Andromache and Molossus; he says that he will leave the city and return to exact his vengeance in the near future.

When Hermione learns that her father has left the city and that Peleus is protecting Andromache and Molossus, she becomes suicidal; she realizes that when Neoptolemus learns of her murderous plots, he will reject her and throw her out of his house; when she is at the peak of her anxiety, her cousin Orestes comes to the gates of the palace looking for her; Orestes has come to take Hermione away from Neoptolemus; it seems that before Menelaos went to Troy, he promised that Hermione would be the wife of Orestes but then changed his mind and gave his daughter to Neoptolemus; Orestes has come to claim his rightful bride; to make sure that Neoptolemus will not interfere with his plans, Orestes laid a trap and killed him at the alter of Apollon at Delphi; for the past several years, Orestes has been doing the bidding of Apollon; as per instructions from the god, Orestes killed his mother and then murdered Neoptolemus; it seems that Orestes is justified in these murders because Apollon sanctioned them.

When Peleus learns that his grandson has been murdered, he loses all hope for the future; he lost his son, Achilles, at Troy and now Neoptolemus has been killed; he sadly accepts the fact that he will have no heir to carry on his name and that his final years on earth will be wracked with sadness; to ease his pain and suffering, his estranged wife Thetis appears and promises Peleus that the future will be better than he imagined; she says that he will be blessed with immortality and live with her under the sea; she says that his (although illegitimate) grandson Molossus will some day be a king and that Andromache will marry her dead husband's brother, Helenus; Thetis also says that Neoptolemus should be buried at Delphi so that the crimes of Orestes and Apollon can be remembered with shame.

The play was produced in Athens in the early part of the Peloponnesian War so it should be no surprise that the Spartan king, Menelaos, is portrayed in a dark and unflattering way.

I personally recommend the translations compiled by Richmond Lattimore and David Grene or the Bantam Classic Ten Plays bt Euripides translated by Moses Hadas and John McLean (ISBN 0553213636); you can find this and other plays by Euripides in the 882 section of your local library or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site.

Andromache 3

One of the alternative names given to the queen of the Amazons.

Retrieving the queen's belt (girdle or cuirass) was one of the Labors of Herakles (Heracles); as the story was passed down, the name of the Amazon queen changed from Andromeda to Andromache and finally, Hippolyte.

Andromeda 1

One of the alternative names given to the queen of the Amazons.

Retrieving the queen's belt (girdle or cuirass) was one of the Labors of Herakles (Heracles); as the story was passed down the name of the Amazon queen changed from Andromeda to Andromache and finally, Hippolyte.

Andromeda 2

Andromeda

The daughter of the King Kepheus (Cepheus) and Queen Kassiopeia (Cassiopeia) of Ethiopia.

Kassiopeia offended the Nereids and, as punishment, Poseidon (lord of the Sea) sent a sea monster to ravage the kingdom; in order to stop the monster's rampage, it was necessary for Kepheus and Kassiopeia to offer Andromeda as a sacrifice to the monster but before the monster could devour Andromeda, Perseus arrived on the scene and, using the severed head of Medusa, turned the monster to stone.

Now that Andromeda was safe from harm, a man named Phineus and his henchmen tried to kidnap Andromeda; Perseus also used Medusa's head to turn Phineus and his men to stone; after these dramatic events, Perseus and Andromeda were married.

Andron

A son of Anius who was given the power of prophecy by Apollon.

Andros

Andros

A large Greek island in the northern Kyklades (Cyclades) Group in the Aegean Sea southeast of the large island of Euboea.

Approximate East Longitude 24º 42' and North Latitude 37º 45'

Google Map

Androthea

The Man-Goddess, i.e. Athene (Athena).

Ankaios (Ancaeus) 1

A son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) who joined the Argonauts and became the helmsman of their ship, the Argo, after the original helmsman, Tiphys, was killed.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 185; book 2, lines 865, 891, 898 and 1276; book 4, lines 210 and 1260

Ankaios (Ancaeus) 2

A son of Lykurgos (Lycurgus) who, second only to Herakles (Heracles), was the strongest man among the Argonauts; Herakles, of course, was the strongest man alive and to be called his second in any endeavor is a supreme complement; when the Argonauts drew lots for seats, Ankaios and Herakles were awarded the center seats without having to draw lots because of their obvious prowess and strength.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

When Lykurgos's father, Aleos, heard that Ankaios was planning to go with the Argonauts, he hid Ankaios's weapons and the young hero was forced to march off wearing a bear skin and carrying a two-edged ax.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 161, 398, 426, 429 and 531

Annulet

Annulet

The ring-like molding around the capital of a column.

Antaios (Antaeus)

A Giant son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Gaia (Earth).

When Herakles (Heracles) was on his way to the Garden of the Hesperides as part of his Eleventh Labor, he encountered Antaios in Libya and was forced into a fight.

By all accounts, Antaios was a strong and vicious opponent; in some ancient artwork, Antaios is shown roofing his father's temple with human skulls (presumably from dead opponents).

Antaios was also thought to be unbeatable if he was in contact with his mother, i.e. Earth; Herakles lifted Antaios off the ground, depriving him of his strength, and defeated him.

Anteia (Stheneboea)

A queen of Argos; the wife of King Proetus and noted for her role in the banishment of Bellerophontes (Bellerophon).

The name Stheneboea was given to this queen at a date sometime after the composition of The Iliad, i.e. after 750 BCE; she was referred to as Anteia by Homer when Bellerophontes recounts his linage in book 6 of The Iliad.

According to Bellerophontes, Anteia (Stheneboea) tried to seduce him but he refused her advances; the queen went to her husband King Proetus and told him that Bellerophontes had tried to force his affections on her; Proetus did not want to kill Bellerophontes outright so he sent the young man to Anteia's father in Lykia (Lycia) with instructions for Bellerophontes to be killed; Anteia's father is not named in The Iliad but in later versions of the story, his name is given as King Iobates; the king did not kill Bellerophontes immediately and soon came to have the greatest respect for him as a man and a warrior.

She is also called Antia and as the wife of Proetus, was the mother of Iphianassa, Iphinoe and Lypsippe.

She is also called Antia and as the wife of Proetus, was the mother of Iphianassa, Iphinoe and Lypsippe.

Anteros

A brother of Eros (god of Love).

Anteros was most often regarded as the avenger of unrequited love.

Anthemoessa

The island of the Sirens; thought to be one of the islands west of Naples off the Italian coast; perhaps Ischia or Capri.

Anthesteria

The Anthesteria (Feast of Flowers) was an Athenian festival which was a celebration of Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine); this winter festival was celebrated in the Athenian month of Anthesterion, which would be in the month of February by our calendar.

Anthesterion

Anthesterion was the eighth month of the year in Attica and approximately corresponds to the third week of January to the third week of February of our calendar; this cold month was the time of the Anthesteria (Feast of Flowers) which was a celebration of Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine); it was also a time for a celebration and banishment of the dead.

Antianeira

The consort of Hermes and daughter of Menetes; her sons were Erytos and Echion.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 51-56

Antigone 1

Antigone was one of the unfortunate daughters of King Oedipus of the city of Thebes.

Antigone's lineage is difficult to explain in ordinary terms because her father was also her brother.

Antigone's grandfather, Laius, was the king of Thebes and was married to Iokaste (Jocasta); because of offenses Laius had committed in his youth, he was told by the oracle at Delphi that his son would kill him and marry his wife, Iokaste.

When Laius and Iokaste had a son they plotted to kill the child but, through a series of divinely directed events, their infant son Oedipus escaped death and was raised in the city of Corinth as the son of King Polybos.

When Oedipus grew to manhood the oracle at Delphi told him that he was destined to kill his father so he left Corinth and returned to Thebes without realizing that Thebes, not Corinth, was the home of his true mother and father.

On the way to Thebes, Oedipus met Laius on the road and after an altercation, killed him; Oedipus also encountered the Sphinx on the road to Thebes and after answering her riddle correctly, she killed herself.

When Oedipus arrived in Thebes he was hailed as a hero for outwitting the Sphinx; he became the king of Thebes and since Iokaste was now a widow, married her without realizing that she was his mother.

Oedipus and Iokaste had four children: Antigone, Ismene, Eteokles (Eteocles) and Polyneikes (Polyneices); when the children were young adults, Oedipus realized what had happened and that he had, true to the prophecy, killed his father and was now married to his mother.

Iokaste killed herself in shame; Oedipus blinded himself and went into a self-imposed exile; Ismene stayed in Thebes but Antigone went with her father as his guide and companion; Eteokles, as the eldest son, became the king of Thebes and exiled his brother Polyneikes.

After many years of wandering, Oedipus took refuge in the sanctuary of the Eumenides (Furies) near the town of Kolonus (Colonus); Ismene found Oedipus and Antigone in the sanctuary and tried to warn him that Polyneikes and Iokasta's brother Kreon (Creon) were both seeking his support in the coming confrontation between Eteokles and Polyneikes.

Kreon appeared in the sanctuary and kidnapped Ismene and Antigone in order to bring pressure on Oedipus to return to Thebes but the king of Athens, Theseus, rescued the young women before Kreon could make his escape.

Polyneikes also came to the sanctuary and pleaded with his father to support his bid for the throne of Thebes; at first, Oedipus refused to acknowledge Polyneikes but Antigone persuaded her father to at least listen to his son; Oedipus listened but would not to give Polyneikes his blessing.

Soon afterwards, Oedipus died at Kolonus; Polyneikes went to Thebes with his armies to depose Eteokles but both brothers were killed in the fray; Kreon decreed that Eteokles would have a proper burial because he had died defending Thebes but Polyneikes's body would be left to the dogs and vultures because he had died in disgrace by attacking his homeland and trying to depose the rightful king.

Antigone sought the help of Ismene so that Polyneikes could be buried properly but Ismene would not be a part of any plan that might antagonize Kreon; without Ismene's help, Antigone defied Kreon and gave her brother a humble but proper burial.

Contrary to the wisdom of the seer Teiresias, Kreon had Antigone sealed in a cave where she was expected to die of starvation; after appeals from the city elders, Kreon finally relented and decided to give Polyneikes a proper burial and release Antigone.

When Kreon arrived at the cave he found that Antigone had hanged herself; Kreon's son Haemon was in love with Antigone and had intended to marry her; Haemon was so distraught that Antigone was dead that he tried and failed to kill his father, Kreon, and then, in a fit of anguish, killed himself and died clinging to Antigone's dead body.

When Kreon returned to the palace he found that his wife Eurydike (Eurydice) had also taken her own life.

The ages of Antigone and Ismene are a matter of debate; their ages are not clearly given but many scholars believe that Antigone was the youngest simply because her actions seem more impulsive and therefore, more immature.

For the complete telling of this story, read The Theban Plays by Sophocles; I recommend the Penguin Classics version of The Theban Plays translated by E. F. Watling (ISBN 0140440038); you can find these plays at your local library or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site.

Antigone 2

The third in a trilogy of tragedies by Sophocles circa 440 BCE; the trilogy is usually called The Theban Plays and also includes Oedipus Tyrannus and Oedipus at Kolonus (Colonus).

Cast of Characters:

Antigone - Daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta

Ismene - Antigone's sister

Kreon (Creon) - King of Thebes and brother of Jocasta

Haemon (Haimon)- Son of Kreon and Antgone's fiance

Teiresias - The blind Prophet

Eurydike (Eurydice) - Kreon's wife

This is the third of three plays which are sometimes called The Theban Plays; each play deals with a different aspect of the Oedipus saga.

This particular play takes place directly after Antigone's brothers, Eteokles (Eteocles) and Polyneikes (Polyneices) have killed each other on the battlefield; Kreon has assumed the throne of Thebes and has decreed that, since Eteokles died in defense of his city, he shall be given an honorable burial but Polyneikes's body is to be left to the dogs and crows; Antigone tries to enlist the help of her sister, Ismene, to defy Kreon and bury Polyneikes but Ismene does not want to provoke Kreon and refuses to help.

Antigone sneaks onto the battlefield and, without being observed by the sentries, places a layer of dust over Polyneikes's body and performs the necessary burial rights; when the act is discovered, Kreon tells the sentries that if they don't catch the perpetrator, they will be held personally responsible for the crime; they set a trap and finally catch Antigone.

When Antigone is brought before Kreon, she makes one of the best speeches ever delivered in a Greek tragedy; she is defiant and says that she is obeying the laws of the Gods and that Kreon has no authority to overrule divine law; Kreon is unmoved and refuses to back down; Antigone is sentenced to death.

Kreon decides that he doesn't want Antigone's blood on his hands so he has her walled up inside a cave so she can either starve to death or take her own life; Kreon's son, Haemon, is very respectful of his father and tries in the most judicious way persuade Kreon to bury Polyneikes and to dissuade him from going through with Antigone's execution; Haemon and Antigone were supposed to be married and Haemon is motivated not only by his love for Antigone but also by his sincere belief that his father is acting in a manner contrary to proper moral behavior; instead of evoking his father's sympathy Haemon is assailed with accusations of cowardice.

The next character to enter the action is the blind seer, Teiresias; he tells Kreon that instead of meaningful omens from the sacrifices, slime is pouring from the altar, birds are squawking nonsense and the sacrificial animals are falling to pieces in the flames; Teiresias has deduced that the Gods are offended because of Kreon's refusal to bury Polyneikes and his unjust treatment of Antigone; Teiresias urges Kreon to change his mind before it's too late and the whole city is cursed; Kreon remains adamant and accuses Teiresias of being motivated by money and not a true prophet; Teiresias spares no words and does not attempt to lessen the severity of his prophetic visions; Teiresias tells Kreon that in order for him to understand the disgrace he has caused, the Gods will curse his family; Kreon asks the chorus of Theban elders for advice and they tell Kreon to undo the evil he has done as soon as possible.

Kreon rushes to bury the body of Polyneikes and then hurries to the cave where he has entombed Antigone; when he arrives at the cave, he finds that Antigone has hanged herself and his son, Haemon, is clutching Antigone's corpse; Haemon tries to kill Kreon but, failing, throws himself on his own sword; when Kreon's wife, Eurydike, hears the news about Haemon, she retires into the palace and takes her own life; the curse of Oedipus has claimed more victims and serves to teach us all another lesson in humility and propriety.

I personally recommend the Penguin Classics version of The Theban Plays translated by E. F. Watling (ISBN 0140440038); the book includes the three plays dealing with Oedipus and his family: King Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone; you can find this book at your local library or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site.

Antigonus I

A Macedonian general under Alexander the Great circa 382-301 BCE; Antigonus was the son of Phillip and called the One-Eyed for the obvious reason; after Alexander conquered Phrygia, he appointed Antigonus as governor; in the turmoil that followed Alexander's death, Antigonus was killed (301 BCE) at the battle of Ipsus fighting against Seleukos (Seleucus) and Lysimachos (Lysimachus).

Antigonus II

(319-239 BCE) A king of Macedon from 283-239 BCE; the son of Demetrius I.

Antikleia (Anticleia)

The mother of Odysseus.

Antikleia died while Odysseus was fighting at the siege of the city of Troy but, on his way home, Odysseus saw Antikleia as a 'shade' when he evoked the spirits of the Underworld with promises of sacrifices and by pouring a mixture of honey mixed with milk, wine, water, white barley and blood into a pit; the spirits emerged from the land of the dead and the shade of his mother stood before him.

After Antikleia had drunk the bloody mixture in the pit, she conversed with her son and told the sad story of how her misery and loneliness at his absence had finally killed her.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, lines 85 and 152-224

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 11, lines 95 and 173-256

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 11, lines 95 and 170-255

Antikythera

A small island in the Mediterranean Sea northwest of the island of Crete and on the boundary between the Sea of Crete and the Mediterranean Sea.

Antikythera is perhaps most famous as the site of the discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism which is the world's oldest geared mechanism; see the following entry for more details on the Antikythera Mechanism.

Google Map

Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera Mechanism

A bronze device which is thought to be the world's oldest geared mechanism with thirty two geared wheels and inscriptions relating to the signs of the zodiac and the months of the year; the Antikythera Mechanism is thought to date from 80 BCE and was found in the wreckage of a Roman cargo ship off the coast of the island of Antikythera and thus named the Antikythera Mechanism; the mechanism is thought to originated on the island of Rhodes because when the Roman writer Cicero visited Rhodes in 79-78 BCE, he noted a similar device built by the Stoic philosopher Poseidonios of Apameia.

A Greek sponge diver named Elias Stadiatos found the Antikythera Mechanism in 1900 CE but its significance was not realized until two years later when an archaeologist named Valerios Stais studied the device in detail; he initially thought the encrusted and corroded relic was simply a gear imbedded in rock but upon closer examination, realized that there were geared wheels meshed to other geared wheels which indicated that it might have been a sophisticated astrolabe, i.e. a device used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers to plot the position of the sun and stars.

Two thousand Greek characters are inscribed on the device which indicated that the Antikythera Mechanism could be used to plot the phases of the moon and the path of the sun through the sky; recent studies have confirmed the inclusion of the Babylonian Metonic and Saros cycles which are a 19-year lunar cycle and an 18 year (+11.3 days) lunar and solar eclipse cycle respectively.

Pieces of the Antikythera Mechanism are missing but models of the device show levels of mechanical and astronomical sophistication thought to be unknown to the ancient Greeks; ongoing studies are being conducted by the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project; the Antikythera Mechanism is currently on display at the Greek National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Antilochos (Antilochus)

Antilochos was one of the sons of King Nestor and Queen Eurydike (Eurydice) of Pylos.

Antilochos and his father King Nestor fought on the side of the Acheian (Achaian) Greeks at the siege of Troy; when the Trojan War began (circa 1250 BCE), Antilochos was a young man; Nestor was the oldest man to fight in the war and Antilochos was perhaps the youngest; Antilochos and many other young men were destined to die at Troy because the Trojan War was not intended to be an easy victory for the Greeks; Zeus wanted to use the war in order to kill as many demigods as possible; the demigods were the children of the Immortals who had mated with mortals; although he was not a demigod, Antilochos was destined to die at Troy.

Even though he was young, Antilochos was respected by the older men in the Greek army; he was brave, fleet of foot and fiercely loyal to his comrads; the aspect of his character which allowed him to survive until the tenth year of the war was his ability to know when to fight and when to retreat; he would throw himself into the most frantic parts of the fighting but then pull back when the Trojans became overwhelming; he fought with his spear, his sword and by hurling boulders; he would kill Trojan charioteers and then take their chariots back to the Achaean camp as trophies.

It was not uncommon for the Immortals to become directly involved in the fighting but it was always an honor to have one of the Immortals fight at your side; when Antilochos was attacked by a Trojan named Adamas, Poseidon (lord of the Sea) stepped in to protect Antilochos; Poseidon turned Adamas's spear aside so that it broke off in Antilochos's shield instead of injuring him; when Idomeneus was being threatened by Aeneas (Aineias), he called to Antilochos for help; Antilochos ran to Idomeneus's side without hesitation even though Aeneas was one of the most feared men in the Trojan army; Aeneas was a demigod and often protected by his mother, Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and Apollon.

Achilles was the best warrior in the Greek army but he refused to fight because he was angry with the Greek commander, Agamemnon; when the Trojans overran the protective wall and were setting fire to the Greek ships, Achilles's companion Patroklos begged Achilles to fight but Achilles refused; however, with Achilles's reluctant consent, Patroklos donned Achilles's armor and charged into the Trojan ranks; the Greeks thought that Achilles had entered the battle and regained their courage; the Trojans thought that Achilles was back in the fighting and began to retreat.

Wearing Achilles's armor, Patroklos became too bold and was killed before he reached the walls of Troy; the confusion on the battlefield made it impossible for Antilochos to know that Patroklos was dead; when Prince Hector took Achilles's armor from the dead body of Patroklos, the Trojans attacked the Greeks with newfound courage and ferocity; Antilochos had ventured too far into the midst of the Trojan warriors and barely escaped with his life; although Achilles's armor had been taken, it became paramount to the Greeks to retrieve Patroklos's body before the Trojans could disgrace it; while they were fighting to recover Patroklos's body, Telamonian Aias and Menelaos (Menelaus) were desperately looking for Antilochos because they were afraid he had been killed in the confusion caused by Patroklos's reckless charge into the Trojan defenses.

Antilochos fought his way to where Menelaos and Aias were fighting but Menelaos waved him away; since Antilochos was so fast on his feet, Menelaos wanted him to run to Achilles and tell him that Patroklos was dead; Antilochos found Achilles at his shelter and hesitantly told him that his friend was laying dead on the battlefield; both men wept; when Achilles regained his composure, he wanted to charge into the Trojans but realized that he had no armor because he had given his armor to Patroklos and now Prince Hector was wearing it; in desperation, Achilles went to the barrier wall surrounding the Achaean encampment and screamed his most fierce war cry; the soldiers in both armies were stunned by the sound of Achilles's booming voice and began to pull back from the battlefield; as the Trojans retreated, the body of Patroklos was recovered by the Greeks and taken to Achilles.

Achilles organized funeral games in honor of Patroklos; Antilochos participated in two of the events but did not win either of the first-place prizes; during the chariot race, Antilochos ignored the advice of his father and ran a very questionable race; he slighted (I hesitate to say "cheated") Menelaos on several occasions and came in second-place; Menelaos was furious; he demanded that Antilochos stand before his chariot and swear that he had behaved fairly during the race; Antilochos did not hesitate to confess his youthful indiscretions; Antilochos willingly gave Menelaos the mare he had won as the second-place prize.

In the foot race, Antilochos played by the rules and came in last-place; it was obvious that the other runners were given divine assistance and Antilochos really had no chance of winning no matter how hard he tried; after the race, Antilochos cheerfully acknowledged the fact that his youth and fleetness were of no use when the Immortals were involved in choosing the winners; Achilles was endeared to Antilochos for his contagious good humor.

In spite of his courage and well honed fighting skills, Antilochos was not destined to survive the Trojan War; after the funeral games in honor of Patroklos were over, the war resumed and the fighting reached new heights of brutality and carnage; Antilochos was again in the thick of the fighting and shirked from no opponent; one of the demigods fighting for the Trojans was King Memnon of Ethiopia; Memnon was the son of Eos (Dawn) and he too was fated to die at Troy but not before he killed Antilochos; we are not told the details of the fight between Antilochos and Memnon but we do know that after Memnon killed Antilochos, he met his death at the hands of Achilles.

Antilochos was killed circa 1240 BCE; that would mean that he was probably less than thirty years old when he died.

Antimachos (Antimachus) 1

A Greek poet (fl. 410 BCE) from the Greek city of Kolophon (Colophon) in Ionia, Asia Minor; his poems were epic in nature and modeled after the Homeric style; also called The Kolophonian (Colophonian).

The name, Antimachus, may also be rendered as Antimachos.

Antimachos (Antimachus) 2

A Trojan advisor to King Priam.

During the siege of the city of Troy, Odysseus and Menelaos (Menelaus) went to the Trojans under a flag of truce and asked that Helen be returned so that the war could end.

Antimachos was one of the Trojans who advised that Helen not be surrendered and that the Greek emissaries, Odysseus and Menelaos, be killed; King Priam would not allow the murder of Odysseus and Menelaos and they returned to the Greek encampment unharmed.

When Agamemnon caught the two sons of Antimachos, Peisandros and Hippolochos, on the battlefield they begged for mercy by saying that their father would pay a fortune for their safe return; Agamemnon reminded them that their father wanted to murder his brother, Menelaos, and killed the sons of Antimachos without hesitation.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, lines 123, 132 and 138; book 12, line 188

The Iliad (Fagles), book 11, lines 145, 154 and 160; book 12, line 218

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 11, lines 150, 157 and 159

Antioch

A modern city in southern Turkey on the Orontes River; the capitol of ancient Syria.

Antiope 1

The consort of Zeus and the mother of Amphion and Zethos (Zethus).

As with many of the older myths, there is a certain amount of ambiguity as to who was who; in The Odyssey, Antiope is said to be the daughter of the river Asopos (Asopus) and the sister of Sinope but in Argonautika she is said to be the daughter of Nykteus (Nycteus). The poet, Euripides, seems to agree with the version in Argonautika which makes it easier for the tragic plot to have some bloodshed and revenge.

The story of Antiope and her sons, Amphion and Zethos, was mentioned in The Odyssey where Odysseus encountered her 'shade' at the entrance to the Underworld; she explained how Zeus had seduced her and engendered the twins, Amphion and Zethos; the two brothers are credited as the builders of the foundations and bulwarks of the city of Thebes.

In Argonautika, it is clear that Antiope's father, Nykteus and her uncle, Lykus (Lycus), were both rulers of the city of Thebes and both died as a direct result of Zeus's relationship with Antiope.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, line 260

The Odyssey (Fagles and Fitzgerald), book 11, line 296

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 736; book 4, line 1090

Antiope 2

A lost tragedy by Euripides that expanded the story of Antiope and her sons, Amphion and Zethos (Zethus).

In the play, Antiope was the daughter of the king of Boeotia; after she was impregnated by Zeus, Antiope fled and gave birth to twin boys, Amphion and Zethos.

Her father Nykteus (Nycteus) killed himself in shame but made his brother, Lykus (Lycus), promise to punish Antiope; Lykus made good his promise and imprisoned Antiope, but when she managed to escape, her sons Amphion and Zethos, now grown men, avenged the harsh treatment of their mother and deposed Lykus and killed his wife Dirke (Dirce) by tying her to the horns of a bull.

I personally recommend the translations compiled by Richmond Lattimore and David Grene; you can find this and other plays by Euripides in the 882 section of your local library or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site.

Antiope 3

The queen of the Amazons also known as Hippolyte.

Antiope was captured by Theseus and became his wife; when the Amazons came to rescue Antiope, she fought with Theseus so that she could stay with him rather than return to her home in Scythia.

Antiope and Theseus had a son named Hippolytus; Antiope's fate is uncertain but her son was denounced by Theseus's second wife, Phaedra, and killed.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 2, line 387

The Returns, fragment 1

Antipater (Antipatros) 1

A Macedonian statesman and general; circa 398-319 BCE; regent of Macedonia from 334-323 BCE; the father of Kassander (Cassander).

Antipater (Antipatros) 2

Antipater of Sidon; a Greek poet; fl. 100 BCE.

Antiphates

The king of the giant cannibals called the Laistrygones.

When Odysseus and his fleet of ships anchored in a narrow harbor, three men went ashore to look for the king of the land; the three scouts were led to the house of Antiphates by his daughter.

Antiphates snatched up one of the men and began to prepare him as dinner; the other two men raced back to the ships to warn Odysseus but before the ships could escape the harbor, thousands of Laistrygones mounted the cliffs and began pelting the ships with man-sized boulders; the ships were broken to pieces and the men were speared like fish by the Laistrygones; Odysseus and his crew were the only ones to escape the harbor.

The name Antiphates might be translated as Unspeakable.

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 10, lines 107, 114 and 199

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 10, lines 106, 114 and 199

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 10, lines 117, 125 and 218

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 10, lines 118, 128 and 218

Antiphonos (Antiphonus)

One of the sons of the last king of the city of Troy, Priam.

After Priam's favorite son, Hector, had been killed defending Troy, he berated his nine remaining sons for being wicked and worthless; Antiphonos was one of these sons.

Whether the old king spoke in desperate sorrow or from his heart is impossible to tell.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 24, line 250

The Iliad (Fagles), book 24, line 296

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 24, line 301

Antiphos (Antiphus) 1

One of four sons of an elder of Ithaka (Ithaca), Aigyptios (Aegyptius); Antiphos was a Greek spearman who sailed from the city of Troy with Odysseus and was devoured by the cyclops, Polyphemos (Polyphemus).

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 2, line 17

The Odyssey (Loeb, Fagles and Fitzgerald), book 2, line 19

Antiphos (Antiphus) 2

A man who lived on the island of Ithaka (Ithaca) who was trusted by Telemachos (Telemachus).

After Odysseus did not return from the Trojan War for ten years, his home was invaded by suitors for his wife Penelope; Odysseus's son, Telemachos, was a young man of twenty years old and the suitors treated him shamelessly; there were still a few men on Ithaka who had known and respected Odysseus and Antiphos was one of those men; he was approximately the same age as Odysseus which would mean that he was forty years or so; while the suitors were devising evil towards Telemachos, he was able to find comfort and encouragement from men like Antiphos, Mentor and Halitherses.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 17, line 68

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 17, line 71

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 17, line 85

Antistrophe

In Greek drama, the Strophe is the first of two motions where the chorus directs its attention to one side of the stage and then, with the Antistrophe, directs its attention to the other side of the stage.

Aoide (Aoede)

One of the original three Muses; her name literally means Song.

Aosphoros

The daughter of Eos (Dawn); the Morning-Star that we call Venus; also called Eosphoros.

Apate

Trick or Deception; a daughter of Nyx (Night).

Theogony, line 224

Apaturia

An annual festival at Athens where the older youths were enrolled in the "fratra", i.e. a brotherhood or fraternity.

Apeliotes

The Winds

The Southeast Wind.

The Winds have a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on the above image to view that page.

Apene

A chariot race in the Olympic Games.

The apene was a race between chariots pulled by two mules; the apene was introduced into the Olympics during the 70th Olympiad in 500 BCE where Thersios of Thessaly was the victor.

Aphareus

The father of the Argonauts, Idas and Lynkeus (Lynceus); the brother of Tyndareus.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 151

Aphetae

Aphetae literally means To Launch or Send Off and was the name given to a place on the Cape of Magnesia where it is believed that Herakles (Heracles) was left behind by Jason and the Argonauts when they went in search of the Golden Fleece.

The definitive source for the Quest for the Golden Fleece, Argonautika, implies that Herakles was left in Mysia, which is in Asia Minor; this confusion might be because there are two countries named Magnesia, one on the coast of the Greek mainland and the other in Asia Minor.

Aphetae was also important because, when the Persians invaded Greece in 480 BCE, they sheltered from a storm in the Gulf of Pagasai (Pagasae) and anchored near Aphetae.

Argonautika, book 1, lines 122-132

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.192

Aphidnus

A small town in the district of Attica approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) north and east of the city of Athens.

Aphrodisia

The Aphrodisia was a festival held in honor of Aphrodite Pandemos during the Attic month of Hekatombaion (approximately the third week of June to the third week of July of our calendar); Pandemos means All the People and thus Aphrodite Pandemos might be rendered as Aphrodite of all the people.

Aphrodite

Aphrodite

The goddess of Love; Aphrodite was born of the mixture of ocean foam and the blood of the deposed god, Ouranos (the Heavens).

Aphrodite has a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on her photo to view that page.

Aphrodite Orania

Aphrodite Orania or Aphrodite Urania; Heavenly Aphrodite.

The temple of Aphrodite Orania in the city of Askalon (Ascalon) in ancient Syria was thought to be the oldest shrine to the goddess on earth; when the Scythians (Scythians) invaded what we call the middle east, they marched through Syria; most of the soldiers did not plunder or harm the Syrians but some of them looted the ancient temple of Aphrodite Orania; the soldiers and their descendants were afflicted by the goddess of Love with a disease which is generally called the "female sickness" and causes loss of virility; the Scythians call the victims of this illness, Enareis, i.e. hermaphrodite.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.105; book 4.67

Apios

A term meaning the Peloponnesus, i.e. the Peloponnesian Peninsula; probably named after the legendary King Apis.

Apis 1

A pre-historical king of the Peloponnesian Peninsula; the peninsula was called Apios after King Apis.

Apis 2

Apis Bull

Apis Bull; an Egyptian deity with the physical characteristics of a bull; associated with the Greek bull-man, Epaphos (Epaphus).

Apis was sometimes depicted in the shape of a man with the head of a bull and as a bull with the disk of the Sun in his horns but his common shape was simply that of a bull; worshiped in Egypt as early as 3000 BCE as a symbol of fertility, then as Apis-Atum in relation to the Sun and finally becoming associated with the god Osiris as Osiris-Apis, guardian of the dead.

When the historian Herodotus (484?-425? BCE) was in Egypt, he encountered the priests of Apis examining and sacrificing an Apis Bull; the bull representing Apis had to be perfect in all ways and any imperfection would disqualify the sacrificial victim; an Apis Bull would be born at random intervals and the birth of a perfect bull was an occasion for celebration and sacrifice; the bull as doused in wine and the throat was cut; the body of the beast was flayed and eaten but the head was either thrown onto to Nile river or sold to any Greeks who happened to be nearby; the ritual of the sacrifice was intended to infuse the head of the bull with the evil of the worshipers and therefore could not be eaten; female cattle were never sacrificed because they were the Egyptian equivalent of the Heifer-Maiden Io, and thus sacred.

When the Persian King Kambyses (Cambyses) was in Egypt (circa 524 BCE), an Apis Bull was born and the Egyptians donned their best attire for the celebration; Kambyses assumed that the celebration was because of his recent military humiliations and accused the priests of mocking him; he had the sacred animal brought before him and stabbed it in the thigh with a dagger and ridiculed the priests for worshiping a frail and mortal deity; when the Apis Bull died, Kambyses proclaimed that anyone who continued the celebration would be killed.

The Apis Bull that Kambyses killed was actually just a calf; the animal was considered to be divine because it was born to an infertile cow which had been struck by lightening and then became pregnant; the calf was black with a white triangle on its forehead, a white eagle mark on its back, double hair on its tail and a knot under its tongue; the combination of these signs made it indisputable that the animal was sacred.

Histories by Herodotus, book 2.38-39, 2.41 and 2.153; book 3.27-29

Apis 3

An ancient city in southwestern Egypt near the Libyan border.

The people of Apis, and another city named Marea, believed that they were Libyans and not Egyptians; they wanted to be exempt from Egyptian religious law, in particular the law against eating the flesh of cows, so they asked the oracle at Ammon for a verdict on this matter and were told that they were Egyptians because they drank from the waters of the Nile river.

Histories by Herodotus, book 2.18

Apistarchos

Apistarchos

A epithet for Zeus as Best-Ruling.

Apollodorus (Apollodoros) 1

A Greek painter of the fifth century BCE who introduced the style of three-dimensional painting with the innovation of shadows; none of his work survives and he is known only through literary sources.

Apollodorus (Apollodoros) 2

Apollodorus Dysklus (Apollodorus Dysclus); a Greek grammarian; died circa 140 BCE.

Apollodorus is responsible for the numbering of the Labors of Herakles (Heracles); up until his time the chronology of the Labors was not specific but he recorded the sequence of the Labors which we still use.

Apollodorus (Apollodoros) 3

Apollodorus of Athens; a Greek mythographer circa first century BCE; assumed to be the author of a literary collection called The Library.

Although he is commonly referred to as Apollodorus of Athens, there is much doubt as to his actual name, when he lived and if he actually wrote The Library; the introduction to the Loeb Classical Library (vol. 121) makes it abundantly clear that we know very little about Apollodorus and that his name could very easily be a misinterpretation by later chroniclers; rightly or wrongly, The Library is attributed to Apollodorus of Athens and, until more conclusive evidence is unearthed, he is given credit for this invaluable contribution to the study of the ancient Greek religion.

Apollodorus never mentions himself or his origins and we are left to speculate as to the details of his life and times; one exceptional fact about his writing is that, although he is presumed to have lived while Rome was a potent military and political force in the Mediterranean, he never mentions the Rome, Romans or Roman deities; this omission is quite remarkable and, for a time, encouraged scholars to assume that he predated the Roman Era, however, his mention of the mythographer, Kastor (Castor), definitely places him sometime after 61 BCE.

The Library, consisting of three "books" in one volume, is a commentary on the Greek gods, goddesses and heroes; it is concise and authoritative; the exploits and linage of the various characters are delivered in a scholarly, matter-of-fact manner and makes subtle additions to the more commonly known facts of Greek prehistory.

There are two versions of The Library that I have personally read and recommend: the Loeb Classical Library vol. 121 (ISBN 0-674-99135-4) and Apollodorus's Library and Hyginus's Fabulae, Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology (paperback ISBN 978-0-87220-820-9); both books are available from the Book Shop on this site.

Apollon (Apollo)

Apollon

The son of Zeus and Leto; brother of Artemis; Apollon was the patron of the oracle at the city of Delphi.

Apollon has a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on his photo to view that page.

Apollon Lykeios

A name for Apollon referring to the Temple of Apollon in the Lykeum (Lyceum), i.e. a gymnasium, noted for its covered walkways, located in an eastern suburb of the city of Athens.

Apollon Patroos

A representation of Apollon as the protector of his father, Zeus; the statue of Apollon Patroos at Athens is attributed to the master sculptor, Euphranor.

Apollon Smintheus

Apollon as the Mouse God, i.e. he sends plagues in the guise of mice that were thought to carry pestilence.

Apollonius of Perga

(circa 262-190 BCE) A Greek mathematician whose innovative work in geometry can still be found in his extant works: On Conic Sections and On Section of a Ratio.

Apollonius coined the terms Ellipse, Parabola and Hyperbola and developed theories on Epicycles and Eccentrics to explain the orbits of the planets; he was born in Asia Minor and educated in Alexandria, Egypt.

Apollonius of Rhodes (Apollonios Rhodios)

(circa 295-215 BCE) A Greek epic poet born in Alexandria, Egypt where he was the director of the Library of Alexandria (circa 250 BCE).

His most famous work, Argonautika (Argonautica), was a four-volume epic of the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts.

An argument with his teacher, Kallimachus (Callimachus), over literary style forced Apollonius to flee Egypt and seek citizenship on the island of Rhodes, thus he is known as Apollonius of Rhodes.

I highly recommend Argonautika translated by Peter Green (ISBN 0520076877); this book can be found at your library in the 883 section or you can order Argonautika from the Book Shop on this site.

Apology

A short work by Plato that was supposed to be the speech given by Socrates in his own defense at his trial in 399 BCE in which Socrates denied that he had corrupted the religion and youth of Athens; despite Plato's implied eloquence of Socrates's speech, his many enemies prevailed and he was condemned to death.

The English word Apology does not really convey the correct meaning of the essence of the speech that Socrates is credited with making; the Greek word from which Apology is derived is more correctly defined as "in answer to" or "to speak in defense" or "defend oneself"; Socrates was not begging forgiveness or offering excuses, he was defending himself against what he considered to be false criminal charges.

Apostle

The pioneer of any reform movement; Apostle literally means "one who is sent out."

Apples of the Hesperides

The golden apples which were given to Hera by Gaia (Earth) as a wedding gift when she married her brother, Zeus.

The golden apples were in the safekeeping of the Hesperides, i.e. the daughters of Nix (Night), and the dragon, Ladon, in the far West beyond the Pillars of Herakles (Heracles).

As one of his Twelve Labors, Herakles (Heracles) was required to retrieve the golden apples from the Hesperides and return them to his cousin, Eurystheus.

Apsinthians

The Apsinthians were the bitter enemies of the Dolonki and fought them for possession of the Chersonese.

At the advice of the oracle at Delphi, the Dolonki made the Athenian, Miltiades, their tyrant (circa 540 BCE); Miltiades built a wall which effectively kept the Apsinthians from continuing their war with the Dolonki.

Histories by Herodotus, book 6.35-36

Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus)

A son of King Aietes (Aeetes) and the Nymph, Asterodeia; half-brother of the sorceress, Medeia (Medea) and Chalkiope (Chalciope).

The people of Kolchis (Colchis) called him Phaethon (which may be rendered as Shining One); after Jason and the Argonauts took the Golden Fleece and fled Kolchis, Aietes sent Apsyrtos with a fleet of ships to capture them; Apsyrtos's half-sister, Medeia, assisted Jason with her magical powers and went with him when he fled.

When the Argonauts were finally cornered and feared a direct confrontation with Apsyrtos and his numerous ships, Jason and Medeia devised a treacherous plan where they would meet with Apsyrtos and she would pretend surrender herself to him while Jason waited in ambush; as Medeia was talking to Apsyrtos, Jason attacked and killed him; without a leader, the pursuers lost their momentum and the Argonauts made their escape.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 3, lines 220+

Arabia

A general term for the deserts east of Egypt and south of Phoenicia.

Arabia was mentioned by the historian, Herodotus, and the people of Arabia were clearly distinguished from other nations but it wasn't until the time of Alexander the Great (circa 330 BCE) that the land of Arabia became fully defined by the Greeks; Herodotus states that Arabia is the furthest to the south of all the world.

One of the most significant things that Herodotus says about Arabia is that the sacred bird, the phoinix, originated there.

Herodotus also mentions a winged serpent which attempted to fly from Arabia into Egypt each spring but were met at a pass in the desert by the sacred Egyptian bird, the Ibis, and killed; these flying serpents also guarded the frankincense plant; the aromatic storax plant was burned to drive the serpents away from the frankincense and allow the Arabians to harvest the profitable export.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.131 and 1.198; book 2.8, 2.11, 2.15, 2.19, 2.73, 2.75 and 2.141; book 3.7, 3.8, 3.91, 3.97 and 3.107-113

Arabian Gulf

The body of water known to the ancient Greeks as the Erythraean Sea; the name, Erythraean, implies the color of blood and was used to designate the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and, later, the Persian Gulf.

Arachne

A woman from Lydia who challenged the goddess Athene (Athena) to a weaving contest and was changed into a spider for her presumptuousness.

From her name we get the English word, Arachnid, to designate natures ultimate weavers, the spider; an Arachnid can be a spider, scorpion, mite or tick.

Araros

The son of the comic dramatist, Aristophanes.

It was recorded that his father gave Araros two plays to produce but they are lost to us.

Aratus

Aratus of Sikyon (Sicyon) (271-213 BCE); a Greek general and leader of the Achaean League.

Arbela

An ancient city of Assyria which was east of the Tigris river on the site of modern Erbil (also spelled Arbil).

Arbela was the headquarters of the Persian king, Darius III, before his defeat by Alexander the Great at Gaugamela in 331 BCE.

Arbitration (Epitrepontes)

A comedy by Menander of Athens (circa 342-292 BCE); the title means Arbitration but has also been rendered as The Arbitrants, Those who Submit Their Case to Arbitration and Desperately Seeking Justice.

We only have about half of the original text of this play but trying to remain faithful to Menander's style, several "complete" copies of the play have been published; the following synopsis was derived from a reconstruction/translation by Sheila D'Atri and Palmer Bovie.

Cast of characters:

Charisios - the husband of Pamphile

Pamphile - the wife of Charisios

Chairestratos - the neighbor of Charisios

Smikrines - the father of Pamphile

Karion - a cook

Onesimos - a slave of Charisios

Habrotonon - a harp-girl

Syros - a slave of Chairestratos

Daos - a shepherd

Pietho - the goddess of Persuasion

Chorus - revelers in the street

This was the first play I read by Menander and as with all poets, it takes a little time to grasp their wit and flow; the play revolves around a baby who was abandoned in the wilds and the arbitration, from which the play derives it's name, concerns the personal effects left with the abandoned baby and who should keep them.

The play begins with two household slaves arguing about the strife and confusion that has become part of their owner's lives; Charisios has left his wife Pamphile and moved into his neighbor's house because he believes his wife has been unfaithful; to irritate Pamphile, Charisios pretends to have an affair with a harp-girl named Habrotonon; the neighbor, whose name is Chairestratos, is secretly infatuated with Habrotonon but since Charisios is his friend, Chairestratos won't make his feeling known.

The plot thickens; a baby has been left in the wilds and found by a bachelor shepherd named Daos; a man named Syros begs Daos for the baby so that the child can have a mother and father; Daos gives the baby to Syros but will not surrender the ring and other ornaments which were found with the baby; the two men cannot settle the argument as to who should have the ornaments so they go in search of an arbitrator.

It would seem that if you wanted a dispute settled, you would not go to a home where the household disputes and arguments are spilling out into the streets, but that's exactly what Daso and Syros do; they find themselves outside Charisios's house confronted by the most angry and confused person in the play, Pamphile's father Smikrines; of course, Daso and Syros ask Smikrines to arbitrate their dispute.

The threads of the play start to intertwine at this point; the slave Onesimos is the pivot for the dialogue and the harp-girl Habrotonon is the voice of reason and deduction; Habrotonon comically deduces the identity of the parents of the abandoned baby and they are none other than Charisios and Pamphile; husband, wife and baby are reunited, and Chairestratos now has a chance to become more than friends with Habrotonon.

One of the best lines in the play is delivered by Habrotonon when she says that Smikrines looks like a philosopher, "three times full of gloom and doom"; all in all, an interesting play which seems to bend a very crooked plot line into a straight-out comical satire.

Arcadio-Cyprian

An ancient language group of eastern Greece comprising Arkadian (Arcadian), Pamphylian and Cypriot.

Archaic Period

The term, archaic, generally implies something that is no longer current or applicable.

The Archaic Period of ancient Greece was roughly from 1100 BCE until the sack of Athens by the Persians in 480 BCE and denotes the artistic and literary style which preceded the Classical Age.

The term archaic comes from the Greek word archaikos which literally means old fashioned, antiquated or primitive but most critics do not use the term in a negative sense, they simply use the word to denote an older but not necessarily inferior style.

Many different authors and historians have chosen different dates for the beginning of the Archaic Period but, generally speaking, we may push the dawn of archaic styles all the way back to the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BCE) and the foundations of Greek culture.

Our conception of archaic Greece cannot be easily defined because poets and artists surely saw the world in the same way in which we see it but they simply chose to represent it in a manner that was both unrealistic and simplistic; statues in profile and poems with highly embellished characters were not true representations of the subjects they depicted but they were sufficient to express the intent of the artists and the themes they wished to convey.

The sack of Athens in 480 BCE was a devastating event but, from the ashes of the ruined city, a new vitality emerged that changed the way the Greeks viewed themselves and the manner in which they chose to reflect their world in art and literature; the sack of Athens is a convenient place in history to mark the end of the Archaic Period and the beginning of what we call the Classical Age; as in all classifications, the transition from one style, or age, into another cannot be pinpointed to a clearly defined moment or event but, for the sake of discussion, the Archaic Period can be said to have perished in the flames of the Acropolis and risen, like the phoinix (phoenix), as the next evolutionary step of a process that had no beginning and whose ending can only be realized in the imagination of generations yet to come.

Of the many books on the subject of archaic Greece, I personally recommend The Art and Culture of Early Greece, 1100-480 B.C. by Jeffery M. Hurwit (ISBN 080149401X); if you cannot find this book at your library, you can order it from the Book Shop on this site.

Archelaos (Archilaus)

The sixth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 785-760 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Very little is known about Archelaos and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Archemoros

The son of King Lykurgos (Lycurgus) of Nemea who was killed in infancy by a serpent and in whose honor the Nemean Games were founded.

Archemoros was also referred to by the name Opheletes which implies a debt or obligation.

Archemoros was in the care of a woman named Hypsipyle who was an exile from the island of Lemnos; when the army of the Seven Against Thebes was passing through Nemea, Hypsipyle acted as a guide for the soldiers; while she was preoccupied with the soldiers, Archemoros was bitten by a snake, or dragon, and died.

Hypsipyle was granted a pardon for the child's death and the Nemean Games were founded in memory of Archemoros.

His name may also be rendered as Archemorus.

Archidamos I

The ninth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 660-645 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Very little is known about Archidamos I and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.

Archidamos II

The seventeenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled 469-427 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Archidamos III

The twentieth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled 360-338 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Archidamos IV

The twenty-third Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled 305-275 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Archidamos V

The twenty-seventh Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled 228-227 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Archidike (Archidice)

According to the historian, Herodotus, Archidike was the most famous courtesan in all of Greece; the dubious honor of second place goes to a woman named Rhodopis.

Histories by Herodotus, book 2.135

Archilochos (Archilochus)

A lyric poet and mercenary, circa 650 BCE.

The term Lyric Poetry is quite literal and designates poetry written to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre; the lyric poets flourished from roughly 700 BCE until 400 BCE.

The poems of Archilochos survive only in fragments and range from tender verses of love to brutal tales of battle and brawling; he is assumed to have come from the Aegean island of Paros and earned his living as a mercenary soldier.

His caustic wit earned him both grudging recognition and bitter resentment; his scorn of bravery caused him to be banned from Sparta.

Of the surviving fragments, my personal favorite may be rendered "Hot tears cannot drive misery away, Nor banquets and dancing make it worse."

There are several excellent collections of lyric poetry that I can personally recommend; if you want to read a sampling of this poetic style, I suggest 7 Greeks by Guy Davenport or Greek Lyric, an Anthology in Translation by Andrew M. Miller; however, the most complete collection is undoubtedly the three volume collection from the Loeb Classical Library, Greek Lyric, Greek Lyric II and Greek Lyric III; you can sometimes find these books at your local library or you can purchase any of these books from the Book Shop on this site; look in the Poetry section.

Archimedes

The renowned Greek mathematician and engineer; circa 287-212 BCE.

Born in Syracuse on the island of Sicily and presumably educated in Alexandria, Egypt, Archimedes returned to his native island and served in the court of Hieron II where he earned his reputation as a master of the physical sciences; Archimedes was an astronomer, a physicist and a renowned inventor; while in the service of Hieron, he measured the purity of Hieron's golden crown using the principal of specific gravity, i.e. he immersed the king's crown in water and then immersed the same weight of pure gold to see if they displaced the same amount of water; if the crown displaced less water it would have to be an alloy and not pure gold; supposedly, when Archimedes was in his bathtub he recognized the principals of specific gravity by noticing how the water level rose when he immersed himself in the water; at that moment, he is purported to have shouted "Eureka"; 'eureka' can be loosely translated as, "I have found it"; the phrase 'the eureka moment' is now commonly used when someone has had a revelation or mental triumph.

Archimedes invented the lever and is credited with saying, "Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth"; different versions of this story use diverse wording but the gist of the quotation seems credible; it is tempting to equate Archimedes with Leonardo de Vinci but the two geniuses differ in one very significant way, Leonardo recorded his inventions with detailed drawings whereas Archimedes was reluctant to document his work; Archimedes was more theoretical than practical but on one occasion he built an impressive array of weapons for the defense of Syracuse.

When the Romans under the command of Marcellus attacked Syracuse in 214 BCE, Archimedes was persuaded to supervise the construction of a variety of machines for the defense of the city; Marcellus attacked Syracuse by land and sea but the sea assault failed because of Archimedes's weapons; Marcellus withdrew the land forces and, much to Marcellus's dismay, the city was taken after a protracted siege.

We have a tendency to underrate the level of ancient technology but Marcellus's assault on Syracuse provides a remarkable example of the way in which incredible machines were imagined and implemented; Marcellus used sixty quinqueremes (a galley with five banks of oars on each side) to attack Syracuse; he lashed eight quinqueremes in pairs to support a siege device called a sambuca (harp); the 'harp' was apparently designed to hoist men from the decks of the ships to the top on the seaward battlements of Syracuse; the name 'harp' supposedly comes for the many ropes attached to booms, giving the apparatus the appearance of a musical instrument; Archimedes designed a variety of machines ranging from trebuchet-like devices for hurling 500 pound (227 kilograms) stones and close range dart launchers called "scorpions."

Another vaguely described device that Archimedes devised was capable of grabbing the Roman ships and hoisting them from the water; the upended ships would be dashed on the battlements and then dunked back in the sea; the combined use of Archimedes's machines forced Marcellus to keep his ships at least an arrow's shot from to the walls of Syracuse; when the Romans attacked under cover of darkness, Archimedes used the 'scorpions' for close range defense and then hurled large stones at the retreating ships; the ships supporting the 'harp' were destroyed and many seamen were drowned; Marcellus compared Archimedes to Briareos (Briareus) in that he was like a hundred handed giant who used ships like cups to ladle water from the sea and then effortlessly destroy the 'harp.'

According to the biographer Plutarch, Archimedes was a bit of an eccentric; to quote Plutarch, " And therefore we may not disbelieve the stories told about him, how, under the lasting charm of some familiar and domestic Siren, he forgot even his food and neglected the care of his person; and how, when he was dragged by main force, as he often was, to the place for bathing and anointing his body, he would trace geometrical figures in the ashes, and draw lines with his finger in the oil with which his body was anointed, being possessed by a great delight, and in very truth a captive of the Muses."

Syracuse was finally taken and Archimedes was killed in the confusion; he was apparently hard at work and when a Roman soldier grabbed him; Archimedes called for one of his machines to save him; the soldier, having seen the deadliness of Archimedes's 'machines,' killed the helpless old man without hesitation; Marcellus gave Archimedes a splendid burial amid the tombs of his fathers; Archimedes had asked his kinsmen to mark his grave with a cylinder enclosing a sphere with an inscription "giving the proportion by which the containing solid exceeds the contained"; in 75 BCE the Roman statesman and orator Cicero found Archimedes's tomb neglected and forgotten.

Archimedes's works on circles, cylinders and spheres still survive.

Plutarch's Lives, Marcellus, 14.3 - 15.7

Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 26.18

Architrave

Architrave

The undecorated lintel resting directly on the columns, i.e. lowermost member of a classical entablature; generally speaking, an entablature is any raised architectural member and consists of 1) an Architrave, 2) Frieze and 3) Cornice.

Archon

A title which literally means "a ruler" or "a commander."

The nine chief magistrates of the city of Athens were called Archons.

Arcturus (Arktouros)

The star which was named after Arkas (Arcas), the ancestor of the Arkadians (Arcadians); Arcturus means Guardian of the Bear; the bear he is guarding is his mother, Kallisto (Callisto), i.e. Ursa Major (the Great Bear).

The rising of Arktouros in the night sky marked the beginning of Spring; Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Bootes (the Wagoner), 36 light years from our solar system.

Works and Days, line 566

Ardeskos (Ardescos)

A river god; one on the sons of Tethys and Okeanos (Ocean).

Zeus gave the Rivers, Apollon and the Okeanids the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

The name, Ardeskos, may also be rendered as Ardeskus or Ardescus.

Theogony, line 345

Areios (Areius) 1

A name for the Hill of Ares on the west side of the Acropolis in Athens where the highest court held its deliberations for capital crimes such as murder.

Ares is the god of War and Areios means Warlike or Martial.

Areios (Areius) 2

Areios and Talaos were the sons of Bias and Pero; Areios and Talaos (Talaus) were the half-brother of Leodokos (Leodocus); all three young men were Argonauts.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Ares is the god of War and Areios means Warlike or Martial.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 118

Arene

A city near Pylos, located on the southwestern Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 151

Areopagus 1

(Areios Pagos) A hill in Athens west of the Acropolis.

The name, Areopagus, literally means Warlike District but is sometimes rendered simply as Rocky Hill.

Areopagus 2

The council that met on the hill, Areopagus, on the Acropolis in the city of Athens.

Originally this council had vast public functions but later it became a purely judicial body.

Ares

Ares

The god of War.

Ares has a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on his photo to view that page.

Aresias

One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BCE).

Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy; an oligarchy is a system of government allowing a few select people or families to rule a city or region based on the assumption that their bloodline or intellect gave them a superior predisposition and right to rule.

The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence; open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.

Hellenica, book 2.3

Arete 1

Arete was the daughter of Rhexenor and the wife of Rhexenor's brother, Alkinoos (Alcinous).

Arete was of the race of Phaiakians (Phaeacians) and lived on the island of Scheria; the original leader of the Phaiakians was descended from Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Giants, his name was Nausithoos (Nausithous); Nausithoos had two male children, Rhexenor and Alkinoos; Rhexenor was married and had one daughter but no male children; Apollon killed Rhexenor with a shower of painless arrows; no specific reason is given as to why Rhexenor was fated to die in such a way.

After the death of Rhexenor, Alkinoos became king of the Phaiakians; he married Arete and she became queen; they had two sons and one daughter, Nausikaa (Nausicaa), Klytoneos (Clytoneus) and Laodamas; Arete had an important role in the conclusion of two of the most important events in Greek history: the Quest for the Golden Fleece and the Trojan War.

One generation before the Trojan War, Jason and the Argonauts began their Quest for the Golden Fleece; the Golden Fleece was kept in the distant land of Kolchis (Colchis) at the eastern edge of the Euxine (Black Sea); Princess Medeia (Medea) of Kolchis helped Jason take the Golden Fleece and, without her father's knowledge, fled Kolchis with Jason and the Argonauts; Medeia's father, King Aietes (Aeetes), sent his soldiers after Jason and Medeia, and they finally overtook them on Scheria … the island of the Phaiakians.

When Medeia met Queen Arete she told her how she had helped Jason take the Golden Fleece and how Jason had sworn an oath that he would marry her when they finally returned to Jason's home at Iolkos (Iolcos); Arete felt genuine sympathy for the young lovers but matters became complicated when King Aietes's soldiers arrived and demanded that the princess be returned to her father; King Alkinoos was unsure what to do but Arete devised a clever solution that would satisfy the Kolchians and allow Jason and Medeia to stay together; Arete advised Alkinoos to supervise a wedding between Jason and Medeia so that she (Medeia) would be legally subject to her husband's will and not her father's; Jason and Medeia were married and King Aietes's men were forced to withdraw; the eventual fate of Jason and Medeia was rather tragic but Arete did all she could to give them a chance at happiness.

Ten years after the Trojan War ended, the wanderer Odysseus washed ashore on Scheria; Odysseus had been tormented and harassed by Poseidon for ten long years and was completely without hope when he finally collapsed on the Phaiakian beach; with the help of the goddess Athene (Athena), Arete's daughter Nausikaa found Odysseus, naked and delirious; the young woman bathed and clothed Odysseus, and took him to her parent's palace; Nausikaa advised Odysseus to go straight to Arete, kneel before her and ask for her protection; Athene put a cloak of mist around Odysseus and he was able to enter the palace and find Arete sitting by the fireplace before anyone saw him; her knelt before Arete and Athene removed the mist that covered him; Arete was surprised to see a strange man on his knees appear out of nowhere but not too much so, after all she was the grand-daughter of Poseidon, and the ways of the Immortals were not strange to her.

King Alkinoos accepted his wife's protection of Odysseus and offered the desperate man every hospitality; after all had been said and done to make Odysseus feel welcome, King Alkinoos put him on a Phaiakian ship so that he could finally go home; for helping Odysseus, Poseidon punished the Phaiakians with perpetual obscurity.

The name Arete implies Goodness and Virtue.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 7, lines 54, 66, 141, 142, 146, 231, 233 and 335; book 8, lines 423, 433 and 438; book 11, line 335; book 13, lines 57 and 66

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 7, lines 62, 76, 167, 168, 173, 266, 268 and (the white-armed queen) 384; book 8, lines 484 and (the queen) 490; book 11, line 380; book 13, lines 66 and 76

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 7, lines 57, 69, 150, 151, 156, 247, (ivory-skinned lady) 250 and (the great lady) 359; book 8, lines 461 and (the queen) 467; book 11, line 389; book 13, lines 71 and 82

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 4, lines 1098-1109

Arete 2

One of the daughters of Dionysius the Elder and wife of her uncle, Dion.

Arethusa 1

A Nymph who was changed into a spring by the goddess Artemis to save her from the river god Alpheios (Alpheius).

Arethusa

Arethusa was being pursued by Alpheios and took refuge on the island of Ortygia on Sicily; in order to frustrate Alpheios's relentless advances, Artemis transformed Arethusa into a spring; there is another story which says that Arethusa was simply a huntress before she became a Nymph; she crossed over to Ortygia and was transformed into a Nymph of the spring which bears her name; the fact that Alpheios truly loved Arethusa is demonstrated by the fact that the river Alpheios, which originates on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, flows under the Adriatic Sea and emerges on Ortygia where he mingles his waters with Arethusa.

Arethusa 2

Arethusa is the name of a spring either on the island of Ortygia or the island of Euboea; the majority opinion places Arethusa on Ortygia.

There are several strange stories regarding Arethusa's origins; one story states that Arethusa was a Nymph who was being pursued by the god of the river Alpheios (Alpheius); Artemis (goddess of the Hunt) transformed Arethusa into a spring to evade Alpheios; another story relates that Alpheios was a hunter who was in love with a female hunter named Arethusa; she crossed over to Ortygia and was transformed into a spring; Alpheios, because of his love for Arethusa, was changed into a river; these stories are justified by the fact that the river Alpheios originates on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, flows under the Adriatic Sea and emerges on Ortygia where it mingles its waters with the spring Arethusa.

Perhaps the most believable story regarding the creation of the spring of Arethusa comes from a native of Sicily, Diodorus Siculus, i.e. Diodorus of Sicily; Diodorus states that the island of Ortygia was given to Artemis by the Immortals and verified by the oracles; to honor Artemis, the Nymphs of the island caused a great spring to gush forth; they named the spring Arethusa; the spring was filled with a large variety and quantity of fish that were considered to be sacred to the goddess; the fish were not eaten by sensible people but on certain occasions, desperate men would eat the spring's fish; Artemis would inflict appropriate punishment on the offenders.

Aretos (Aretus)

One of the sons of King Nestor and Eurydike (Eurydice) of Pylos.

After the Trojan War had been over for ten years, Odysseus had not returned home and his son Telemachos (Telemachus) needed to know the fate of his father; Telemachos left his home on the island of Ithaka (Ithaca) and first went to Pylos which was the kingdom of Nestor; Nestor had safely returned from the war and Telemachos was anxious to ask him for news of his father; while at the home of Nestor, Telemachos was treated like an honored guest and Nestor regaled the young man with tales of the war and the heroes who fought and died to bring Helen home again; Nestor prepared a feast for Telemachos and Aretos assisted in the sacrifice of a heifer to the goddess Athene (Athena).

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 3, lines 414 and 440

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 3, lines 463 and 491

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 3, lines 448 and 475

Areus I (Araios I)

The twenty-forth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled from 309-265 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Beginning with Leonidas I (the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE) the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual; prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.

Areus II (Araios II)

The twenty-sixth Agiadai king of the city of Sparta who ruled from 262-254 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Agis I and the other was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon (respectively known as the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai).

Beginning with Leonidas I (the sixteenth Agiadai king who ruled from 490-480 BCE) the names and dates for the Spartan kings became a part of the historical record and are generally accepted as factual; prior to Leonidas I the dates for the Spartan kings are extrapolated back from historical times to approximate the time periods in which each king ruled.

Argadeis

One of the four ancient tribes of Ionia.

The name, Argadeis, literally means Workman or Laborers.

The other tribes were known as:

Aigikoreis (Aigicoreis) (Goat-Herds or Goat-Feeders);

Oplites (Hoplites) (Men in Armor); and

Teleontes (Geleontes) (Farmers).

Argeia

The daughter of King Adrastus (Adrestos) of Sikyon (Sicyon) and the wife of Polyneikes (Polyneices); Argeia was the mother of Thersandros.

Argeiphontes

Another name for the god, Hermes, meaning Slayer of Argos, i.e. Hermes killed the many-eyed Argos (Argus) who was set to watch over the Heifer-Maiden, Io.

Io was the beautiful daughter of Inachus, king of the city of Argos on the Peloponnesian Peninsula; she began having strange dreams with voices and visions telling her to leave her bed and go into a field where Zeus could 'see' her; she told her father of the dreams and he sought advice of the oracles at Pytho and Dodona but they could offer no help; finally, he sent an embassy to Loxias; for the oracles of Loxias, the meaning was crystal clear; they advised Inachus to disown his daughter, cast her into the streets and drive her from his country; if this was not done, the oracles warned, Zeus would eradicate Inachus and his people without mercy; with heavy heart, Inachus obeyed the oracles and forced his young daughter, Io, from his house.

Zeus's wife, Hera had not missed the drama unfolding in the land of Argos; she was angered by Zeus's (attempted) infidelity so she punished Zeus by punishing Io; as Io fled in tears from her father's house, she began to change; horns popped out on her head and, as she ran, she completely transformed into a black and white heifer; a gadfly began to sting and pester her, forcing her to run farther and farther from her home and happiness.

Hera wanted to be sure that her husband, Zeus, could not be alone with his new infatuation so she set the herdsman, Argos, to follow the Heifer-Maiden. Argos was called Argos Panoptes, meaning 'all seeing' because he had eyes placed all over his body; some accounts say that he had one hundred eyes but the poet, Aeschylus, said that he had ten thousand eyes; Io was terrified of Argos and she fled from his fearsome gaze and the annoying sting of the ever present gadfly.

Zeus was inflamed when he saw Argos watching Io; with Argos on guard he couldn't secretly meet with the lovely Io; he instructed his son, Hermes, to kill Argos; to this day, Hermes is often called Argeiphontes, The Slayer of Argos; he lulled the herdsman to sleep with sweet music and then beheaded the sleeping watchman before he could defend himself; Io was finally free of the all seeing Argos.

For a masterful telling of this wonderful story, I suggest that you read Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus; I recommend the Richmond Lattimore and David Grene translation which can be found at your local library or you can order the play from the Book Shop on this site.

Arges

The stubborn-hearted cyclops.

One of the sons of Gaia (Earth); he and his brothers, Brontes and Steropes, are the Titans who forge the thunderbolts for Zeus.

The name, Arges, means Vivid One.

Theogony, line 139

Argestes

Another name for Notos (South Wind) meaning Clearing or Brightening.

Argestes is one of the sons of Eos (Dawn) and Astraios (Astraeus); his brothers are: Zephyros (West Wind) and Boreas (North Wind).

Theogony, lines 378+

Argive

Of or pertaining to the district of Argos on the eastern Peloponnesian Peninsula; an Argive is a native of Argos.

Argives

The general term for all Greeks in The Iliad and The Odyssey.

The term Argive and Achaean (Achaian) are, for all practical purposes, interchangeable.

Argo

The Argo was the most famous ship to ever sail the ancient seas; it was the ship used by Jason and the Argonauts when they sailed from Iolkos (Iolcus) to Kolchis (Colchis) on their Quest for the Golden Fleece.

The name Argo can be literally translated as Swift or as an eponymous name after the builder, Argos (Argus); the members of the crew were called the Argonauts, i.e. Argo Seamen; the most famous Argonaut was Herakles (Heracles) but others included sons of Poseidon, sons of Boreas (North Wind) and sons of Helios (the Sun); the Quest for the Golden Fleece occurred circa 1285 BCE.

The Argo was built by Argos but the inspiration and guidance came from the goddess Athene (Athena); the Agro was constructed on the Gulf of Pagasai (Pagasae) near Iolkos; special wood was hewn on nearby Mount Pelion for the Argo and for that reason it is often referred to as Pelian Argo; Athene provided the beam of the ship, which was set in the center of the stem . . . it was made of Dodonian oak . . . Dodona was the site of the oldest Oracle of Zeus in Greece; when the Argonauts were in danger of being destroyed by Zeus, Hera used the Dodonian stem to speak to Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces) and warn them of their peril; naval vessels are typically considered to be 'female' and the Argo was no exception but perhaps Athene's spiritual presence on the Argo made that appellation all the more appropriate.

After the Quest for the Golden Fleece, there is no record of the Argo being used again; there was a persistent rumor that after Jason's wife Medeia (Media) deserted him, murdered his children and caused his lover to kill herself, Jason was killed when rotten planks of the Argo fell on him.

For the complete story of Jason and the Argonauts, I recommend Argonautika by Peter Green, which is available at most libraries and from the Book Shop on this site.

Text References

Argolid Plain

A valley south of the city of Mycenae in Argolis on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Argolis

An ancient district of Greece in the far-eastern portion of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Argonautika (Argonautica)

A four-volume epic of the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts written by Apollonius of Rhodes in the third century BCE.

Argonautika tells the story of the Golden Fleece:

King Pelias of Iolkos was warned that a stranger with one sandal would come to take his throne and so when Jason arrived, having lost one of his sandals in a river, Pelias devised a plan where Jason would be required to undertake an impossible task and never return; Pelias also made the mistake of offending Hera by not giving her proper honor at his sacrifices and so Hera plotted to have Pelias punished; the voyage of the Argonauts was to be the method by which Hera would achieve this end.

Pelias sent Jason to retrieve the magical fleece of gold that had been created by Hermes and kept in the Grove of Ares (god of War) in the far-off land of Kolchis; the king of Kolchis was a mighty ruler and a fierce man named Aietes (Aeetes); Pelias was certain that Aietes would never voluntarily surrender the Golden Fleece and that Jason would never be able to take it by force.

Jason was not foolhardy enough to attempt such a feat alone, so he gathered the bravest and most adventuresome men in Greece to aid him in his quest; the members of the crew that Jason assembled were collectively known as the Argonauts; they took their name from the ship which was built expressly for their voyage, the Argo; the ship was designed by a man named Argos and the construction of the ship was overseen by the goddess of craft and skill, Athene (Athena).

The most famous Argonaut was, of course, Herakles (Heracles) but others included the sons of Poseidon, sons of Boreas (North Wind) and sons of Helios (Sun).

The land of Kolchis was on the eastern edge of the sea named the Euxine (Black Sea); they sailed north through the Aegean Sea to the Hellespont and onwards to the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) and survived the attacks of several of the native inhabitants; they encountered the pitiful, blind seer, Phineus, who was being punished by Zeus and Helios by having his food eaten and defiled by the she-birds, the Harpies; the winged sons of Boreas, Kalais (Calais) and Zetes chased away the Harpies and freed Phineus from his curse; Phineus then rewarded the Argonauts by giving them instructions as to how to get to Kolchis and safely return to their homeland.

The Argonauts had to pass through the Clashing Rocks which guarded the narrow passage from the Propontis to the Euxine; called "the twin Kyanean (Cyanean) Rocks where the two seas meet," the gigantic rocks would clash together whenever any living thing tried to pass between them; Phineus, told the Argonauts to send a dove through the Clashing Rocks before they attempted to sail their ship through; if the dove survived, it would be safe for the Argo to proceed; the dove flew between the Clashing Rocks with only the loss of its tail feathers and the Argo sailed boldly into the passage; Athene held back one of the rocks with one hand and pushed the Argo through with the other; the Clashing Rocks then became stationary islands and never menaced sailors again.

In the land of the Mysians, one of the sailors, Hylas, went in search of water and was abducted by the Nymphs of a spring; Herakles and Polyphemos (Polyphemus) refused to leave the island without Hylas and the Argo sailed without them; the fate of the Argonauts began to change and they suffered their first casualties; Idmon was the first to die; he died from wounds inflicted by a monstrous, white-tusked boar; then Tiphys died of a fast-acting sickness; when they came to the Isle of Ares, Oileus died after he was struck by a feather from one of the war god's birds; on the Isle of Ares they found the four sons of Phrixus who were shipwrecked on the island; their father, Phrixus, was the one who had originally sacrificed the golden ram and given it to Aietes; the four brothers joined the Argonauts and they proceeded to Kolchis.

Jason tried to reason with Aietes but the king was beyond reason; Hera and Athene went to Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and asked her to intervene on Jason's behalf; Aphrodite sent Eros (the primal god of Love) to shoot the king's daughter, Medeia (Medea), with an arrow of irresistible love; when Medeia saw Jason she was helpless in her desire for him; Medeia was a priestess of the goddess, Hekate (Hecate), and the niece of the sorceress-Nymph, Kirke (Circe).

Aietes decided that it would not be wise to blatantly refuse Jason's request for the Golden Fleece so he cunningly challenged Jason to demonstrate his strength by harnessing two fierce supernatural, bronze-footed bulls, plow a field and plant the dragon's teeth of Kadmos (Cadmus); the dragon's teeth would grow into warriors and then Jason would have to fight and kill the Earth-Born warriors.

Jason met with Medeia and together they plotted how he could survive the ordeal and win the Golden Fleece without having to fight Aietes's army or resort to common thievery; Medeia gave Jason a potion which was made from the flowers that grew from the blood of Prometheus as he laid suffering, chained to the Caucasus Mountains; Jason made a sacrifice to Hekate and bathed himself and his weapons in the magic potion.

At dawn the following day Jason went into the field to face the bronze-footed bulls and plant the dragon's teeth; the Earthborn warriors sprang from the ground and attacked Jason with fury; using the same trick that Kadmos had used, he tossed a stone in the midst of the warriors and let them fight amongst themselves until their numbers were small enough so that he could kill the remainder; Aeietes was furious.

Medeia, still in the thralls of love, led the Argonauts to the Grove of Ares where the Golden Fleece was kept; the Fleece was protected by an ever-vigilant dragon but Medeia cast a spell on the dragon with a hypnotic song and undiluted potions; Jason took the Fleece and fled.

Aietes soon realized the treachery of his daughter and sent a fleet in pursuit; Aietes insisted that he would have honored his promise to surrender the Golden Fleece but he justified his pursuit of the Argonauts because they had taken Medeia.

In their escape, the Argonauts took the long and difficult route up the Ister (Danube) River and across southern Europe, hoping to elude their pursuers; Aietes's son, Apsyrtos, led the fleet that pursued the Argo; when the Argonauts were finally cornered and feared a direct confrontation with Apsyrtos and his numerous ships, Jason and Medeia devised a treacherous plan where they would meet with Apsyrtos and Medeia would pretend to surrender herself to him while Jason waited in ambush; as Medeia was talking to Apsyrtos, Jason attacked and killed him; without a leader, the pursuers lost their momentum and the Argonauts made their escape; fearful of what King Aietes would do when they returned without Medeia or Apsyrtos, the sailors chose to stay in Europe and never return home to Kolchis.

The keel of the Argo, inspired by Athene, warned the Argonauts that Zeus was furious at the murder of Apsyrtos and urged them to go to Kirke's island and beg forgiveness; on the island of Kirke, Medeia asked to be forgiven but Kirke could not absolve them of such a wanton murder; Hera implored Thetis and the other Nereids, Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and Aeolus (Aiolos) (lord of the Winds) to protect the Argonauts and guide them through the dangers that awaited them on the open sea; one by one, the monster, Skylla (Scylla), the whirlpool, Charybdis, and the clear-voiced Sirens were overcome; when they arrived on the island of the Phaiakians (Phaeacians) the king, Alkinoos (Alcinous), declared that he would not help Jason and Medeia unless they were married and so the couple took the sacred wedding vows and gained sanctuary.

Once again at sea, the Argo was blown ashore in Libya by a tempest; the Argonauts had to carry the ship across the Libyan desert to lake Trito; the god Triton arose from the lake and guided the desperate Argonauts back to the Mediterranean Sea.

When they approached the island of Crete, the Argonauts were unable to make a safe landing because the gigantic bronze man, Talos, guarded the shore; again Medeia used her magical powers to save the Argo from certain destruction; she invoked the Death-Spirits to befuddle Talos and, in a fit of confusion, Talos stumbled on the rocky shore and tore the thin membrane at his heel allowing the fluid of life, ichor, to drain from his otherwise impervious body.

From Crete the remaining Argonauts sailed safely to their home in Thessaly thus ending the Quest for the Golden Fleece and the voyage of the Argo according to Apollonius; the continuation of the story was told by poets such as Euripides and in various pieces of artwork dating back to the fifth century BCE.

After arriving back in Iolkos, Jason found that his father was dead through the trickery of King Pelias; Medeia hatched an evil revenge on Pelias and his daughters; using her occult skills, Medeia convinced Pelias's daughters that she could restore their father's youth if he was cut into pieces and put in a caldron filled with magical herbs; to demonstrate the process, Medeia successfully performed the process on a ram; the unwitting girls followed Medeia's instructions and their father was killed but not reanimated.

When news of Medeia's sorcery had spread throughout Iolkos, Jason and Medeia are forced to flee to the city of Corinth and take refuge with King Kreon (Creon); Jason and Medeia had two children but Jason fell in love with the king's daughter, Glauke (Glauce); Medeia was well practiced in the art of revenge so she made a poison cloak for Glauke and effectively murdered her; as a further attack on Jason for his infidelity, Medeia killed their two children and fled to Athens on a chariot drawn by dragons; Medeia eventually made her way to Persia and founded the race we know as the Medes.

I highly recommend Argonautika translated by Peter Green (ISBN 0520076877); this book can be found at your library in the 883 section or you can order Argonautika from the Book Shop on this site.

Argonauts

The Argonauts were the crew of the divinely designed and expertly crafted ship, the Argo; the crew members of the Argo were called Argonauts because Argo + nautes = Argo Seamen; the mission of the Argonauts was to find the Golden Fleece and return it to Greece from the distant land of Kolchis (Colchis) at the eastern edge of the Euxine (Black Sea); the Argonauts were the most celebrated band of heroes ever assembled in ancient Greece.

When King Pelias gave Jason the seemingly impossible task of retrieving the Golden Fleece from the distant land of Kolchis, Jason sent out an appeal for the bravest men in Greece to assist him; the Argonauts were the men who answered that summons.

The date of the Quest for the Golden Fleece is a matter of speculation but we are given several hints as to the chronology of events: Herakles (Heracles) was forced to leave the Quest for the Golden Fleece and return to his Twelve Labors and we know that after his completion of the Ninth Labor (Retrieve the Belt of the Amazon Queen, Hippolyte), Herakles stopped at the city of Troy while King Laomedon ruled the city; Laomedon was the father of the last king of Troy, Priam; we can count backwards from the sack of Troy (circa 1250 BCE) and perhaps determine the date of the Quest for the Golden Fleece; we know that the siege of Troy lasted for ten years, that would push the date back to 1260 BCE; we know that Priam was an old man when Troy was sacked (perhaps 50 years old); that might put the Quest for the Golden Fleece back another 25 or so years, i.e. the Quest for the Golden Fleece might be dated at circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius of Rhodes tells the incredible story of the Argonauts; Argonautika is a remarkable adventure story but it is primarily a love story recounting the romance and marriage of Jason and the sorceress, Medeia (Media); in my opinion, the finest translations of this masterpiece are by David Green and R.C. Seaton; you can sometimes find these books at your local library or they can be purchased from the Book Shop on this site.

The Argonauts - An Alphabetical List

Argos (Argus) 1

The Many-Eyed giant sent by Hera to watch over the Heifer-Maiden, Io.

Io was the beautiful daughter of Inachus, king of the city of Argos on the Peloponnesian Peninsula; she began having strange dreams with voices and visions telling her to leave her bed and go into a field where Zeus could 'see' her; she told her father of the dreams and he sought advice of the oracles at Pytho and Dodona but they could offer no help; finally, he sent an embassy to Loxias; for the oracles of Loxias, the meaning was crystal clear; they advised Inachus to disown his daughter, cast her into the streets and drive her from his country; if this was not done, the oracles warned, Zeus would eradicate Inachus and his people without mercy; with heavy heart, Inachus obeyed the oracles and forced his young daughter, Io, from his house.

Zeus's wife, Hera had not missed the drama unfolding in the land of Argos; she was angered by Zeus's (attempted) infidelity so she punished Zeus by punishing Io; as Io fled in tears from her father's house, she began to change; horns popped out on her head and, as she ran, she completely transformed into a black and white heifer; a gadfly began to sting and pester her, forcing her to run farther and farther from her home and happiness.

Hera wanted to be sure that her husband, Zeus, could not be alone with his new infatuation so she set the herdsman, Argos, to follow the Heifer-Maiden; Argos was called Argos Panoptes, meaning 'all seeing' because he had eyes placed all over his body; some accounts say that he had one hundred eyes but the poet, Aeschylus (Aeschylus), said that he had ten thousand eyes; Io was terrified of Argos and she fled from his fearsome gaze and the annoying sting of the ever present gadfly.

Zeus was inflamed when he saw Argos watching Io; with Argos on guard he couldn't secretly meet with the lovely Io; he instructed his son, Hermes, to kill Argos; to this day, Hermes is often called Argeiphontes, The Slayer of Argos; he lulled the herdsman to sleep with sweet music and then beheaded the sleeping watchman before he could defend himself; after he was killed by Hermes, Argos's eyes were placed on the tail feathers of the peacock; Io was finally free of the all seeing Argos.

Argos (Argus) 2

The son of Arestor who, with the urging and inspiration of Athene (Athena), designed and built the ship, Argo, for Jason and the Argonauts.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 105-114

Argos (Argus) 3

The faithful dog of Odysseus who recognized his master after Odysseus had been gone for twenty years.

When Argos finally saw Odysseus he died knowing that he had waited faithfully for his master to return.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 17, lines 292, 300 and 326

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 17, lines 319, 329 and 359

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 17, lines 377 and 421

Argos (Argus) 4

One of the four sons of Phrixus and Chalkiope (Chalciope); Argos and his brothers, Kytissoros (Cytissorus), Melas and Phrontis, all became Argonauts.

Chalkiope was the daughter of King Aietes of Kolchis (Colchis); Phrixus, and his sister, Helle, were given a flying ram with a Golden Fleece to escape their evil stepmother, Ino, and their father, King Athamas of Orchomenos (Orchomenus); during their escape from Orchomenos, Helle fell from the ram and drowned in the sea but Phrixus managed to reach Kolchis and sacrifice the ram in the Garden of Ares; King Aietes was so impressed with Phrixus and the miraculous golden ram, he allowed him to marry his daughter, Chalkiope, without the wedding gifts which were traditionally expected from a suitor.

Argos and his brothers were raised in Kolchis but after their father died, he and his brothers left to avenge their father's unwarranted treatment by King Athamas; Argos and his brothers did not reach Orchomenos as they had planned; instead, they became stranded on the Island of Ares in the Euxine (Black Sea); they were rescued from the island by the Argonauts; the Argonauts were on their way to Kolchis to retrieve the Golden Fleece and their encounter with Argos and his brothers was more than a chance occurrence; Argos and his brothers joined the crew of the Argo and returned to Kolchis.

After the completion of the Quest for the Golden Fleece, Argos and the Argonauts went their separate ways; of the four sons of Phrixus, only Kytissoros was finally able to confront Athamas to hold him accountable for the malevolent treatment of their father; when Kytissoros arrived at the town of Alus in Achaea (Achaia), Athamas was slated to die as a sacrifice in accordance with a command from an oracle of Zeus; instead of killing Athamas, Kytissoros saved him from the sacrificial death and, by doing so, incurred the resentment of Zeus; from that time forward, the eldest member of Athamas's family was forbidden, on penalty of death, to enter the town hall of Alus.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 2, lines 1140-1156

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.197

Argos (Argus) 5

An ancient city in southeastern Greece on the Gulf of Argolis.

Argos

Argos was a powerful rival of Sparta, Athens and Corinth.

Several cities were named Argos but the Peloponnesian Argos was the most famous.

Approximate East Longitude 22º 44' and North Latitude 37º 39'

Google Map

Aria

A Nymph; the mother of Miletos (Miletus) by Apollon.

Miletos was the founder of the city bearing his name, Miletos, in Karia (Caria) on the coast of the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor near the Maeander River.

Ariadne

Ariadne was the consort of Theseus before he became king of Athens; she was the daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae of the island of Crete; Ariadne was the sister of Deukalion (Deucalion) and Euryale.

Ariadne

Ariadne and Dionysos

Ariadne met Theseus when he went to Crete to end a deadly feud which had developed between King Aegeus of Athens and King Minos of Crete; when King Minos's son Androgeus went to the first Panathenaic Games in Athens he attracted the ire of Theseus's father, King Aegeus, by winning all the prizes; Aegeus had Androgeus killed and Minos waged war on Athens to avenge his son; peace was won only with the promise that Athens would send seven young men and seven young women every year to Crete in order to be slain by the ungodly bull-man known as the Minotaur.

The Athenian youths were placed in a labyrinth and the Minotaur would hunt them down and savagely kill them; the tradition continued for three years until Theseus voluntarily entered the labyrinth and killed the Minotaur; Theseus was given a spool of thread by Ariadne which he unwound as he entered the labyrinth and was thus able to retrace his steps and escape the intricate maze; after the ordeal with the Minotaur, Theseus and Ariadne fled Crete.

According to The Odyssey, Odysseus encountered the 'shade' of Ariadne when he evoked the spirits of the Underworld; Theseus was taking her to Athens after he had escaped the labyrinth but abandoned her on the island of Dia; after Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine) "bore witness against her," the goddess Artemis killed Ariadne.

That is the oldest mention of Ariadne but, according to Plutarch, the stories relating to Theseus, Ariadne and the labyrinth were not as clear-cut as we might imagine; the idea that Ariadne was in love with Theseus is a common thread that winds through all the stories but her ultimate fate is by no means clear; she either:

1) Was abandoned on the island of Dia and killed by Artemis;

2) Inherited the throne of Crete after the deaths of her father, Minos, and her brother, Deukalion, and she made a pact of truce with Athens;

3) She committed suicide after Theseus abandoned her;

4) She was taken to the island of Naxos after Theseus abandoned her for a woman named Aigle and she married a priest of Dionysos named Oenarus;

5) Theseus put the pregnant Ariadne ashore on the island of Cyprus and was not able to return before she died in childbirth;

6) After Dionysos made Ariadne his wife, Zeus made her immortal and un-ageing; or

7) There were two women named Ariadne stranded on the island of Naxos: one was married to Dionysos and her passing was celebrated with gaiety; the other Ariadne was abandoned by Theseus and her passing was commemorated with sorrow and lamentation.

Regardless of the fate of beautiful Ariadne, Plutarch reminds us that it was never wise to offend the eloquent and dramatic Athenians because they would exaggerate and immortalize any insult or transgression against them; King Minos earned the hatred of the Athenians and he and his family are forever condemned to suffer the jibes and taunts of pre-historical innuendo.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 18, line 592

The Iliad (Fagles), book 18, line 692

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 18, line 680

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 11, line 321

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 11, line 364

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 11, line 373

Plutarch's Lives, Theseus, chapters 16, 19-21

Theogony, line 947

Arimaspians

The Arimaspi; a race of one eyed men who lived north of Scythia.

Their name comes from the Scythian language: Arima means One and Spou means Eye.

Histories by Herodotus, book 4.13 and 4.27

Arioi

Another name for the Medes or Aryans.

They were subjects of the Persian Empire but always distrusted by the Persians because the Persians had once been conquered and ruled by the Medes; the Magi were the most influential tribe of Medes and were used as seers and religious advisors by the Persians.

Arion (Areion) 1

The immortal horse of King Adrastus (Adrestos) of Sikyon (Sicyon).

Arion was the spawn of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and the goddess, Demeter.

Adrastus was the king of Sikyon (Sicyon) whose life was closely tied to the tragedy surrounding King Oedipus of the city of Thebes; Adrastus led two separate armies to attack Thebes and rode Arion into battle on both occasions.

The first army was known as the Seven Against Thebes; the Seven attacked Thebes with the intention of ousting King Eteokles (Eteocles) and placing his brother Polyneikes (Polyneices) on the throne; with the exception of King Adrastus, all the commanders of the Seven Against Thebes were killed; Polyneikes and Eteokles died on each other's spears.

The second assault on Thebes was also led by Adrastus astride Arion; the second army was comprised of the sons of the Seven and called the Epigoni (After-Born); Adrastus's son Aigialeus (Aegialeus) was one of the commanders of the Epigoni; the Epigoni captured Thebes and Aigialeus was the only Epigoni commander killed in the war; because of the loss of his beloved son, Adrastus died of grief on the way back to Argos.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 23, line 346

The Iliad (Fagles), book 23, line 392

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 23, line 398

Arion (Areion) 2

The chariot horse of Iolaos (Iolaus).

When Iolaos and Herakles (Heracles) fought against the son of Ares (god of War), Kyknos (Cycnus), Arion pulled their chariot to victory.

Shield of Herakles, line 120

Arion (Areion) 3

A seventh century Greek poet and inventor of the dithyramb, i.e. a vehement and wild choral song or chant in honor of Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine); usually irregular in form.

Aristagoras 1

The tyrant of the city of MIletos (Miletus) in Karia (Caria) circa 500 BCE and most notable as the instigator of the Ionian Revolt.

Aristagoras was the Persian satrap (regional governor) of Miletos who ruled with the permission of the Persian king; in Aristagoras's time, the Great King was Darius I.

An opportunity arose to increase Aristagoras's wealth and influence when some rich exiles from the island of Naxos appealed to Aristagoras for help in regaining their positions of authority on the recently democratized island; Aristagoras asked the satrap of Sardis, Artaphrenes, for advice and Artaphrenes, in turn, took the matter to King Darius; Aristagoras made promises of wealth and power if the centrally located island of Naxos was under Persian control.

Darius approved the plan for an invasion of Naxos and allotted 200 ships and a limited amount of money for the task; Aristagoras was second in command of the expedition, serving under an influential man named Megabates.

Preparing for the attack on Naxos, the fleet gathered near the island of Chios; when Megabates was making his inspection of the fleet, he found one of the ships unguarded; Megabates had the ship's captain bound with his head protruding through an oar-hole; Aristagoras appealed for mercy but Megabates insisted on the humiliating punishment; Aristagoras deliberately disobeyed Megabates and freed the errant captain; Megabates was furious and devised a clever plan where Aristagoras would lose his wealth, power and his life.

Megabates secretly sent a messenger to Naxos and warned the unsuspecting islanders of the impending invasion; the people of Naxos made hasty preparations and were ready when the Persians arrived; a siege of four months ensued and the Persians realized that they could not afford to continue because their war-chest was empty and the easy victory which Aristagoras had promised was not to be had.

The Persians withdrew and Aristagoras realized his future looked bleak; at this same time, a captive of King Darius named Histiaeus, sent a message to Aristagoras and urged him to organize a revolt of the Ionian Greeks; the time seemed right to Aristagoras so he plotted to arrest all the princes of the Ionian cities and replace them with men he could trust.

With the institution of military governors and the revolt against Darius clearly in the open, Aristagoras sailed to Sparta to seek an alliance; the Spartan king, Kleomenes (Cleomenes), when he heard how far the Persian capital of Susa was from the Aegean Sea (three months march), dismissed Aristagoras abruptly; Aristagoras then tried to bribe Kleomenes but was again rebuffed.

Aristagoras took his appeal to the city of Athens and presented his proposal to the popular assembly; where Aristagoras had been unable to persuade one man (the Spartan king), he had no trouble gaining the support of the people of Athens; they promised twenty ships and appointed a commander named Melanthius to assist Aristagoras.

Other allies joined the revolt and Aristagoras organized an attack on the Persian city of Sardis; Aristagoras did not go to Sardis himself but sent a large ground force to capture the city while he waited in Miletos.

Circa 498 BCE, Sardis was burned but not captured; the homes of the city were made of straw and when one house was set ablaze, with the exception of the Acropolis, the entire city burned to the ground; the Ionians retreated to the city of Ephesus and were soundly defeated by the pursuing Persians.

The Athenians withdrew their support for the Ionians but the revolt continued; the city of Byzantium was captured and other northern provinces joined the Ionians against the Persians; the island of Cyprus tried to join the revolt but was soon recaptured by the Persians; Darius instructed his best generals to quash the revolt and the Ionians were soon losing territory to the Persian onslaught.

When Aristagoras realized that his fate was not going to be one of victory or honorable defeat, he took his few supporters to Thrake (Thrace) and tried to continue his tyranny on the humble people of that land; he was finally killed trying to capture an unimportant town in a poor nation.

The Ionian Revolt ended with the Persians again in control of the Greek colonies of Asia Minor but now the Persians were openly hostile to the cities of the Greek mainland for their support of the Ionians; when the Greeks burned Sardis, the temple of the goddess Kybele (Cybele) was inadvertently destroyed and the Persians, in retribution, desecrated many Greek temples and shrines when they eventually invaded the Greek mainland in 490 and 480 BCE; also, the Persians never forgave the Athenians for meddling in the affairs of their empire and the burning of Sardis was a pretext for the burning of Athens in 480 BCE.

Histories by Herodotus, book 5.30-38, 5.49-51, 5.54-55, 5.65, 5.97-103 and 5.124-126

Aristagoras 2

The tyrant of the city of Kyzikos (Cyzicus) in the upper portion of Mysia circa 495 BCE.

(Note: this entry and that of Aristagoras of Kyme are essentially the same)

When the Persian king, Darius, tried to invade Scythia, Aristagoras and other allies were left at the Ister (Danube River) to guard the pontoon bridge which had granted Darius's army entry into Europe and assured his return to Asia Minor.

When it became obvious that Darius was defeated and that the Scythians had outmaneuvered the Persian army, the Scythians tried to persuade the Persian allies to tear down the bridge and let them capture and kill Darius.

Aristagoras and the other allies reasoned that Darius was the source of their authority and that his death would surely mean the end of their tyrannies; the Persian allies made a pretense of destroying the bridge to appease the Scythians and waited for Darius to arrive.

The Scythians were unable to find Darius and his army because, being strangers in Scythia, Darius and his army became lost and were not where the Scythians thought they logically should be; Darius eventually returned to the bridge and made his escape from Europe.

The Scythians decided that, as free men, Aristagoras and the other allies were base and unmanly but as slaves they were very good because they were subservient and loyal.

Histories by Herodotus, book 4.138

Aristagoras 3

The tyrant of the city of Kyme (Cyme) in western Lydia circa 495 BCE.

(Note: this entry and that of Aristagoras of Kyzikos are essentially the same)

When the Persian king, Darius, tried to invade Scythia, Aristagoras and other allies were left at the Ister (Danube River) to guard the pontoon bridge which had granted Darius's army entry into Europe and assured his return to Asia Minor.

When it became obvious that Darius was defeated and that the Scythians had outmaneuvered the Persian army, the Scythians tried to persuade the Persian allies to tear down the bridge and let them capture and kill Darius.

Aristagoras and the other allies reasoned that Darius was the source of their authority and that his death would surely mean the end of their tyrannies; the Persian allies made a pretense of destroying the bridge to appease the Scythians and waited for Darius to arrive.

The Scythians were unable to find Darius and his army because, being strangers in Scythia, Darius and his army became lost and were not where the Scythians thought they logically should be; Darius eventually returned to the bridge and made his escape from Europe.

The Scythians decided that, as free men, Aristagoras and the other allies were base and unmanly but as slaves, they were very good because they were subservient and loyal.

Histories by Herodotus, book 4.138

Aristaios (Aristaeus)

The son of Apollon and Kyrene (Cyrene).

Apollon seduced Kyrene and removed her to Libya and turned her into a Nymph; when Aristaios was an infant, Apollon took him to the cave of the Centaur, Cheiron (Chiron), for his education.

As a grown man, Aristaios became a favorite of the Muses who made him the keeper of their flocks; he was called Hunter and Shepherd because he was so skillful with all types of animals.

Aristaios's affection for the Nymph, Eurydike (Eurydice), caused her death and roused the ire of Eurydike's sisters; as punishment for his impulsiveness, the Nymphs killed all of Aristaios's bees; he was able to appease the Nymphs and regain his bees with the intervention of Proteus (the Old Man of the Sea).

When the Dog-Star, Sirius, rose in the sky and scorched the land, Apollon took Aristaios to the island of Keos (Ceos) so that he could use his powers of healing and prophecy to help the islanders; Aristaios gathered the inhabitants and made a great altar in order to sacrifice to Sirius and Zeus; as a result of Aristaios's prayers, Zeus sent a cooling wind, called the Etesian winds, which lasted for forty days and continues annually when the Dog-Star rises in the Summer sky.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 2, lines 500-527

Aristarchus 1

Aristarchus of Samothrake (Samothrace); circa 216-144 BCE; a Greek philologist and critic; head of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt circa 180-145 BCE.

Aristarchus 2

Aristarchus of Samos; late third century BCE Greek astronomer; he put forward the theory that the earth and planets revolved around the sun but, although his basic theory was correct, he operated under the false assumption that the planets moved in circular (as opposed to elliptical) orbits and his theory failed to gain acceptance.

Aristides (Aristeides)

An Athenian statesman and general circa 530-468 BCE; the son of Lysimachos (Lysimachus).

Aristides was always considered to be a man of reason and conservative deliberation; he served the city of Athens in several crucial military encounters including: the battle of Marathon, the sea battle with the Persians at the island of Salamis and the final defeat of the Persian army on the plains of Plataea; all three of these encounters were outstanding successes for the Greek cities but especially for the Athenians.

Histories by Herodotus, book 8.79-82 and 8.95; book 9.28

Aristippus

Aristippus of Kyrene; circa 435-356 BCE; Greek philosopher from the city of Kyrene (Cyrene) in northern Africa.

Aristippus was the founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy; he taught that pleasure is the only rational aim of life.

His name may also be rendered as Aristippos.

Aristodemus 1

The Spartan coward and hero during the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

Aristodemus was denounced as a coward when he survived the battle at Thermopylae but was honored as the bravest man on the battlefield at Plataea.

Aristodemus was a Spartan soldier and accompanied the king, Leonidas, to the narrow pass at Thermopylae to await the invading Persian army where the three hundred Spartans (plus four thousand allies) faced perhaps as many as five hundred thousand Persians.

Aristodemus and another man named Eurytos (Eurytus) where afflicted by an ailment of the eye and were not fit to fight; Leonidas released both men from their duty but when the Persians finally broke through the Spartan lines, Eurytos had his helot take him into the thick of the fighting where he was killed; Aristodemus survived the Persian attack and returned to Sparta as the only survivor of the battle.

Aristodemus was labeled as a coward and no Spartan would give him a spark for his fire or speak to him; some said that he had not been ill at Thermopylae but instead had been a messenger and had lingered on the road so he would not have to fight and die in the battle; regardless of the reasons, he survived and all the others perished.

When the Persians burned the city of Athens and forced the allied Greeks back to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, the Persians seemed destined to enslave all of Greece; the Persian defeat in the naval battle near the island of Salamis gave the Greeks new hope and, after the majority of the Persian forces had retreated, the two armies faced one another near the town of Plataea in Boeotia.

During the battle of Plataea, Aristodemus attacked the Persians like a madman and was credited as the bravest of the Spartans who fought that day; some said that he fought with such zeal because he wanted to die in battle to prove his manhood.

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.229-232; book 9.71

Aristodemus 2

The great-great-grandson of Herakles (Heracles) and a king of the city of Sparta.

The Spartans credit him with establishing their nation on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Aristodemus was the son of Aristomachos who was the son of Kleodaeus (Cleodaeus) who was the son of Hyllos who was the son of Herakles.

Histories by Herodotus, book 6.52; book 7.204; book 8.131

Aristogiton (Aristogeiton)

Aristogiton was a co-conspirator in the failed attempt to assassinate the Athenian tyrant, Hippias.

After the death of the Athenian tyrant, Pisistratus in 514 BCE, his son Hippias became tyrant; Aristogiton and his companion, Harmodius, plotted to kill Hippias because of a personal insult which Aristogiton and Harmodius found to be unforgivable.

The murder attempt failed and Hippias's brother, Hipparchus, was killed instead; in the aftermath, Harmodius was killed immediately but Aristogiton was captured and tortured to death.

After Hippias was deposed and sent into exile, Harmodius and Aristogiton were honored by the citizens of Athens with statues and special benefits for their relatives, such as tax exemption.

Aristomachos (Aristomachus)

One of the descendants of Herakles (Heracles); the father of Temenus.

Ariston

The fourteenth Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 550-515 BCE.

Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of King Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of King Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).

Aristophanes

An Athenian comic dramatist who wrote plays which were produced from 427-382 BCE.

Aristophanes was prolific, popular and sometimes offensive; his extant plays include: Clouds, Frogs, and Lysistrata among others.

Little is known of his personal life except that he was the son of Philippos and the father of Araros.

His acid-like ridicule of Socrates in Clouds (423 BCE) might have set the stage for the tragic and callous trial of Socrates in 399 BCE; Aristophanes portrayed Socrates as a blithering intellectual with little or no concern for the consequences of his thoughts or actions and very probably caused the death of a brilliant man for the sake of a few laughs.

At least thirty two titles are credited to him but only eleven survive, they are (in chronological order of their production dates):

The Acharnians, 425 BCE;

The Knights, 424 BCE;

The Clouds, originally produced in 423 BCE but the existing, revised version is circa 420 BCE and incomplete;

The Wasps, 422 BCE;

Peace, 421 BCE;

The Birds, 414 BCE;

Lysistrata, 411 BCE;

The Poet and the Woman, i.e. Thesmophoriazusae, 411 BCE;

The Frogs, 405 BCE;

The Woman's Assembly, i.e. Ekklesiazusae, 392 BCE; and

Plutus, 388 BCE.

Aristophanes's plays are sometimes difficult to appreciate because he was a very contemporary poet, i.e. he was writing for the Athenian audience of his day; he would use puns, parody regional accents and speak directly to the audience in ways that force modern translators to seek out the contextual meaning rather than the literal meaning of the poet's words; for that reason, I suggest that if you find a translation that is difficult to enjoy, please don't blame Aristophanes, simply look for a translation that you can enjoy.

You can find his plays at your local library in the 882 section or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site.

Aristophanes of Byzantium

A notable Greek scholar who was the head of the Library at Alexandria, Egypt circa 195 BCE; he devised notation references and standardized the way accents appear in Greek texts.

Aristoteles

One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BCE).

Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy; an oligarchy is a system of government allowing a few select people or families to rule a city or region based on the assumption that their bloodline or intellect gave them a superior predisposition and right to rule.

The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence; open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.

Hellenica, book 2.3

Aristotle

Aristotle

The preeminent Greek philosopher circa 384-322 BCE.

Aristotle was a pupil of Plato and the tutor of Alexander the Great; as a historical figure, quite a bit is known of his life but I will only touch on the more notable aspects of his distinguished career as a natural scientist.

Aristotle was born in Stageira, Chalkidike (Chalcidice) in northern Greece; his father, Nikomachus (Nicomachus), was the physician to King Amyntas of Macedon; Amynas was the father of Philip II who was, in turn, the father of Alexander the Great.

Aristotle went to Athens in 367 BCE and studied under Plato until Plato's death in 347; circa 343 he returned to Macedon to tutor young Alexander; in 335, as Alexander marched into Persia, Aristotle returned to Athens and became a popular and affluent lecturer at the gymnasium in the grove sacred to Apollon Lykeios, known as the Lykeum (Lyceum).

After the death of Alexander in 323, Aristotle left Athens and died the following year at Chalkis (Chalcis) on the island of Euboea.

His works have been divided into three divisions relating to 1) his early philosophical works (now lost), 2) his scientific and historical writing (mostly lost) and 3) his later scientific and philosophical works which are the major source of our knowledge of his thoughts.

This is simply a short description of the life and works of Aristotle because literally thousands of detailed books have been written about him and I suggest that any serious inquiry of Aristotle should begin at your favorite library or you can use the Book Shop on this site to order the books you need.

Arithmetic

The use of numbers; the simplest form of mathematics; (in Greek, arithmo means number).

Arizanti

One of the six tribes which comprised the original Medes.

The Medes were inhabitants of Asia Minor and subjects of the Assyrian Empire until circa 709 BCE and derived their name from the notorious sorceress Medeia (Medea) and her son Medus after they fled Greece and settled in Asia Minor.

The Medes were the first group to revolt against the Assyrians and after ruling for four generations, set the stage for the formation of the Persian Empire; the Medes were united by a man named Deiokes (Deioces) who was their first king.

The other five tribes of Medes were: Budii, Busae, Magi, Paratakeni (Parataceni) and Struchates.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.101

Arkadia (Arcadia)

Arkadia

A mountainous region of ancient Greece located on the central Peloponnesian Peninsula which was founded by the legendary son of Zeus and Kallisto (Callisto), Arkas (Arcas).

Arkadia was traditionally known for the contented pastoral innocence of its people who claimed to be the oldest inhabitants of Greece.

Google Map

Arkas (Arcas)

A son of Zeus and Kallisto (Callisto).

Arkas was the eponymous ancestor of the Arkadians (Arcadians); he and his mother were set among the stars where Kallisto became known as the constellation The Great Bear and Arkas the star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes and he was thereafter known as the Bear Warden and protector of his mother.

Kallisto was the daughter of Lykaon (Lycaon) and lived in Arkadia (Arcadia); she would occupy herself with the wild beasts of the mountains with the goddess Artemis; she was seduced by Zeus and became pregnant; when Artemis saw Kallisto bathing, she was enraged to see that her companion was pregnant and changed Kallisto into a bear; her child was born and she named him Arkas (Arcas); mother and son were eventually captured by some goatherds and returned to her father, Lykaon; Kallisto violated the law by going into the precinct of Zeus and was hunted down by Arkas and other Arkadians (Arcadians); Zeus saw her plight and placed her in the heavens as the constellation the Great Bear.

The fate of Arkas was more unpleasant than that of his mother; we are initially told that Arkas participated in the hunt for his mother in the precinct of Zeus but then we are told that after Kallisto and Arkas returned to her father's home, Lykaon pretended not to know of his daughter's fate (being transformed into a bear by Artemis) and, while he was entertaining Zeus at his home, Lykaon chopped up Arkas while he was still a baby and served the infant to Zeus as a meal; Zeus placed Arkas in the heavens as the star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes and he was thereafter known as the Bear Warden and protector of his mother.

The Astronomy, fragment 3

Arke (Arce)

A daughter of Thaumas and the sister of Iris and the Harpies.

Zeus took away her wings when she aided the Titans in their war against the Olympians.

Arkeisios (Arceisius)

A son of Zeus and Euryodia.

Arkeisios was the father of Laertes and thus the grandfather of Odysseus.

His name may also be rendered as Arkesius or Arcesius.

The Odyssey (Lattimore), book 4, line 755; book 14, line 181; book 16, line 118; book 24, lines 270 and 517

The Odyssey (Loeb), book 4, line 755; book 14, line 182; book 16, line 118; book 24, lines 270 and 517

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 4, line 851; book 14, line 209; book 16, line 132; book 24, lines 299 and 570

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 4, line 807; book 14, line 217; book 16, line 138; book 24, lines 298 and 575

Arkesilas (Arcesilas)

Arkesilas of Pitane (316-241 BCE); a Greek philosopher who taught at The Academy at Athens and is considered to be the founder of what is called the Middle Academy.

The Academy was a school which was originally an olive grove near the city of Athens which was sacred to the hero, Akademus (Academus) who assisted Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux) in the rescue of their sister Helen when she had been kidnapped by Theseus and Peirithoos (Peirithous).

Plato and his followers taught in the grove of Akademus and, thus, their school became known as The Academy.

Modern scholars have divided the teachings of The Academy into "schools" because the world-view and style evolved as time passed and as different teachers presided over The Academy; the divisions are:

The Old Academy, circa 400-265 BCE, typified by Plato.

The Middle Academy, circa 265-150 BCE, typified by Arkesilas.

The New Academy, circa 150-86 BCE, typified by Karneades (Carneades).

The direct, continuous influence of The Academy was finally broken in 86 BCE when Athens was burned by the Romans; attempts were made to re-build on the centuries-old reputation of The Academy but the Roman domination of the entire Mediterranean area was overwhelming and later incarnations of The Academy were mere shadows of the original school.

His name may also be rendered as Arkesilaus or Arcesilaus.

Arktinus (Arctinus)

Arktinus of MIletos; the author of The Sack of Ilion which formed part of the Epic Cycle; The Epic Cycle is a series of poetic epics and lays that filled in certain details on which The Iliad and The Odyssey neglected to elaborate regarding the Trojan War; The Epic Cycle is also referred to as The Trojan Cycle.

Only fragments of the original two books survive; Arktinus is credited as the author of another portion of the Epic Cycle, the War of the Titans but Eumelus of Corinth is also listed as the author of that epic.

For the complete translations of the Epic Cycle, including The Sack of Ilion, I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 57, ISBN 0674990633; you can sometimes find this book at the library or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site.

Arktos (Arctus)

A Centaur who fought against the Lapith spearmen.

The Lapithae were the residents of Thessaly near Mount Pelion; when King Pirithous was having the wedding feast for his daughter, Hippodamia, the neighboring Centaurs raided the festivities and tried to kidnap Hippodamia; a war between the Lapithae and Centaurs resulted and the Lapithae eventually drove the Centaurs from the area of Mount Pelion.

His name may also be rendered as Arktus or Arctos.

Shield of Herakles, line 186

Arnaios (Iros)

The beggar who taunted Odysseus at the prompting of the suitors of Penelope.

His true name was Arnaios but he was called Iros (the masculine form of the name Iris) because he earned his bread by being a messenger and was thus compared, insultingly, to the messenger of the Immortals, Iris; he was beaten and broken by Odysseus for his insults and abuse.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 18, line 5

The Odyssey (Fagles and Fitzgerald), book 18, line 6

Arrhephoria

The Arrhephoria was a festival which honored the two girls (Arrhephoroi) who had been chosen to be the attendants of the goddess, Athene (Athena) at her shrine on the Acropolis; the Arrhephoroi were from six to ten years old and served the goddess for one year; during the celebration of the Arrhephoria, the new Arrhephoroi were initiated and the two retiring girls were ritualistically given sacred gifts and relieved of their duties; the Arrhephoria was held on the sixth and seventh day of the month of Skiraphorion, which would be approximately early June by our calendar.

Arrhephoroi

The Arrhephoroi were two young girls who had been chosen to be the attendants of the goddess, Athene (Athena) at her shrine on the Acropolis; the Arrhephoroi were of noble birth and chosen in their seventh year; the Arrhephoroi served the goddess for one year and carried the peplos and other holy objects for Athene Polias (Guardian of the City).

There was an annul festival called the Arrhephoria where the new Arrhephoroi were initiated and the two retiring girls were ritualistically given sacred gifts and relieved of their duties; the Arrhephoria was held on the sixth and seventh day of the month of Skiraphorion, which would be approximately early June by our calendar.

Arrian

The Roman historian, magistrate and philosopher; circa 86-175 CE; he is primarily remembered as the author of The Campaigns of Alexander (also called The Anabasis of Alexander).

His Roman name has been rendered as Lucius Flavius Arrianus and Flavius Arrianus Xenophon but there is general agreement about the achievements of Arrian and his life as a prolific writer and respected politician; the characteristic which distinguishes Arrian from other contemporary Roman writers is that he wrote in Greek instead of Latin; Arrian did not write in the Greek language of his time, which was the same style as the Greek versions of the New Testament; his style was more archaic and an imitation of classical Greek authors who wrote hundreds of years before his time, such as Xenophon, Thucydides and Herodotus.

Arrian was born in Nikomedia (Nicomedia) which was the Roman capitol of Bithynia; Arrian's father was a naturalized Roman citizen which gave Arrian all the rights and privileges which Roman citizenship entails; his father was probably a prosperous man and this enabled Arrian to attain a quality formal education; to complete his education, Arrian went to Nikopolis (Nicopolis) in Epirus where he studied philosophy under a remarkable self-made man named Epiktetus (Epictetus); Arrian was so impressed and influenced by the teachings of Epiktetus that he later wrote eight books called Discourses which preserved the words of Epiktetus; four of the eight books survive.

Arrian served in the imperial Roman service as a consular in several places including the Danube River, Kappadokia (Cappodocia) and possibly Gaul and Numidia; it seems likely that Arrian's appointment in Kappadokia was given to him by the Roman Emperor Trajan because of his proven administrative abilities and not for political or personal reasons; Arrian commanded two Roman legions in Kappadokia and wrote The Formation Against the Alans and Circumnavigation of the Black Sea to document his military campaigns against the invading Alans and his exploration of the Black Sea; Arrian left Kappadokia in 138 CE and moved to Athens in 145 CE where he eventually became archon; he died in Athens sometime before 180 CE.

In his work, The Campaigns of Alexander, Arrian did a great service not only to Alexander but to the preservation of history; he apparently drew from many sources and, when different authors contradict one another, he gives the varying reports and does not pretend to present unquestioned facts; I personally found the Penguin Classics translation by Aubrey De Sélincourt to be very readable; you can find this book at your local library or you may purchase it from the Book Shop on this site.

Other known works by Arrian include: 1) Manual (or Handbook, 2) The Formation against the Alans (or Order of Battle against the Alans), 3) Circumnavigation of the Black Sea (or Voyage Round the Black Sea), 4) On the Chase, 5) Indike (or Indica), 6) Events After Alexander (or Affairs After Alexander) and 7) History of Bithynia.

Arsetis

The king of the Persian Empire from 338 to 336 BCE; he was preceded by Artaxerxes Ochos and followed by Darius Kodomannos.

Artabanus (Artabanos)

A Persian prince; the brother of King Darius I and the only man to advise both Darius and his son, King Xerxes I, not to venture into Europe with the expectation of conquest.

When Xerxes was holding a war council to discuss the plans for the invasion of Greece (480 BCE), Artabanus gave a passionate appeal for caution and restraint; he proposed that if the king was determined to send an army to Greece, that he (Artabanus) and the king's cousin, Mardonius, should lead the army and Xerxes should remain at home; Xerxes was furious; he said that if Artabanus were not his uncle, he would be punished for such empty words.

Xerxes envisioned a world where all nations, innocent and guilty, would be denied the ability to pose a threat to the Persian throne because he intended to make the entire world a part of his empire; he feared that Greece had the potential to threaten the mighty Persian Empire; during the reign of Xerxes, the Greeks posed no threat to his empire but one hundred and thirty seven years after Xerxes's death, the Persian Empire was weak and disorganized; the invasion of Persia was planned by Philip II of Macedon and finally completed by his son, Alexander the Great beginning circa 335 BCE.

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.10-11 and 7.46-53

Artabazus (Aratbazos)

A Persian commander in the army of King Xerxes.

Artabazus was the son of Pharnakes (Pharnaces) and commander of the Parthians and Chorasmians when Xerxes mounted his invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

After the Persians successfully crossed into Europe and marched south towards the city of Athens, the only serious military obstacle they faced was at the narrow pass known as Thermopylae; the overwhelming forces of the Persian army finally overcame the Spartans at Thermopylae and they marched unopposed into Attica and burned Athens.

The Persian army seemed invincible but when Xerxes encountered the Greek navy he was dealt a crippling defeat near the island of Salamis; without his navy to provide supplies for his massive army, Xerxes made plans to return to Asia Minor; Artabazus escorted the Great King back to Persian territory and then marched back into Greece with the intention of combining his army with that of the senior commander, Mardonius.

Before he could move farther south to join Mardonius, the three finger-shaped peninsulas called the Chalkidike (Chalcidice) demanded Artabazus's attention; several of the cities of the Chalkidike had renounced their alliance with the Persians after they had learned of the Persian defeat and withdrawal.

Artabazus laid siege to the city of Potidaea and was assisted by the betrayal of a Greek named Timoxenus from the city of Skione (Scione); Artabazus and Timoxenus exchanged secret messages by tying a small strip of paper to the shaft of an arrow and shooting the arrow to a prescribed place for the other to retrieve; one of Artabazus's arrows missed the mark and struck a man in the shoulder; the arrow was examined and Timoxenus's betrayal was discovered; the people of Potidaea did not confront Timoxenus because they did not want to bring eternal shame to innocent people of his city for his crime.

After three months of siege, the Persians offended the god Poseidon (lord of the Sea) by acting in a sacrilegious manner towards the god's temple and statue on the outskirts of Potidaea; as a result of the sacrilege, an unusually large ebb-tide flooded the plain; Artabazus started to move his army to higher ground but before they could reach safety, a flood tide swept over the army and drowned many of the Persian soldiers.

Artabazus took the remainder of his army and moved south to Thessaly where Mardonius had camped; the entire Persian force then moved to the city of Plataea and prepared to do battle with the allied Greeks who still resisted Persian domination.

As the two armies faced each other across the Asopos (Asopus) river, Artabazus advised Mardonius to withdraw to the safety of the walled city of Thebes and not fight the Greeks on the open plain; Artabazus also suggested that they use their accumulated wealth to simply buy off the Greek cities which still remained hostile and not risk the entire army in a pitched battle.

Mardonius was not agreeable to this plan because he was sure that he could win a military victory over the Greeks despite the fact that their oracular sacrifices had, for ten consecutive days, been unfavorable.

The battle at Plataea was joined and, at dawn on the second day of battle, Mardonius saw that the Spartans had pulled back from their front line positions and he announced that his enemy, the Spartans, and his second in command, Artabazus, were both cowards.

Mardonius charged into the Greek lines and was killed; Artabazus took the troops under his command and marched away from the fighting; Artabazus fled towards Byzantium and hoped to pass over into Asia before news of Mardonius's death and the Persian defeat reached the northern Greek cities.

Leaving many of his men to die from weariness and hunger, Artabazus crossed the Hellespont by boat and thus survived the Persian invasion of Greece.

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.66; book 8.126-129; book 9.41-2, 9.58, 9.66 and 9.89

Artaxerxes I (Artoxerxes I)

Artaxerxes Longimanus; the king of the Persian Empire from 465 to 423 BCE; the successor of Xerxes I.

Artaxerxes II (Artoxerxes II)

Artaxerxes Memnon; the eldest son of King Darius II and Parysatis.

In Greece, Artaxerxes was called The Great Warrior.

When Darius died, Artaxerxes became the king of Persia and ruled from 404 to 358 BCE; Artaxerxes was a suspicious man and was easily convinced that his younger brother, Cyrus, was plotting against him and trying to steal the throne.

Artaxerxes had Cyrus arrested for treason; their mother, Parysatis, intervened and Cyrus was allowed to go free; Cyrus never forgave the indignity his brother had heaped upon him and, if he had not been his brother's enemy before his arrest, he was surely his enemy afterwards.

When Cyrus finally had enough support to mount a revolt against Artaxerxes, he marched from the city of Sardis into the heart of Persia and was utterly defeated at the battle of Kunaxa (Cunaxa) in 401 BCE; Cyrus was killed in the final battle.

Artaxerxes III (Artoxerxes III)

Artaxerxes Ochos (Ochus); the king of the Persian Empire from 358 to 338 BCE; he was preceded by Artaxerxes Memnon and followed by Arsetis.

Artaynte

The daughter of Masistes and the wife of Darius II of the Persian Empire.

Artaynte was forced to marry Darius at the bidding of Darius's father, King Xerxes of the Persian Empire; Artaynte was the niece of Xerxes.

Xerxes coveted the wife of his brother, Masistes, and used young Artaynte as a pawn in his game to seduce his brother's wife; Xerxes arranged for his son, Darius, to marry Artaynte and thus endear himself to the girl's mother but Xerxes soon lost interest in Masistes's wife and began a love affair with Artaynte.

When Xerxes's wife, Amestris, suspected the betrayal, she set a clever trap for her husband and her daughter-in-law; she gave Xerxes an exquisite cloak that she knew Artaynte would covet; Xerxes, in his prideful way, promised Artaynte anything she desired and she surprised him by asking for the unique and beautiful cloak; Xerxes tried to dissuade her by offering her gold, cities and command of her own army but Artaynte wanted only the cloak.

When Amestris saw the cloak in the possession of young Artaynte, she planned an evil and unexpected revenge; instead of punishing Xerxes or Artaynte, Amestris killed and mutilated Artaynte's mother.

As a logical conclusion to this tragedy, Xerxes killed Artaynte's father, Masistes, her brothers and her father's supporters so that they could not enact revenge for the excesses of the king and his hateful wife, Amestris.

Histories by Herodotus, book 9.108-113

Artemis

Artemis

The daughter of Leto and Zeus and sister of Apollon.

Artemis has a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on her photo to view that page.

Artemis Brauronia

The goddess Artemis, as Artemis Brauronia, had a shrine on the Acropolis where annual rites were established during the rule of the tyrant, Pisistratus (Peisistratus), sometime before 527 BCE; the origins of the worship of Artemis Brauronia began in the Attic town of Brauron after Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, brought a statue of the goddess from Tauris in Scythia to Brauron; this means that the statue of Artemis arrived in Brauron shortly after the Trojan War ended or circa 1230 BCE; Pisistratus was from Brauron and when he took control of the government of Athens, he established a shrine for Artemis Brauronia on the Acropolis which was called the Brauroneion.

Artemisium

A coastal city on the northern tip of the island of Euboea.

Artemisium was the site of the first naval engagement between the Greeks and the Persian invaders in 480 BCE; the Greeks sent their fleet to the waters around Artemisium because of its proximity to the narrow pass at Thermopylae; the intention was to block the Persian army's path at Thermopylae and, at the same time, keep the Greek war ships close enough to the Greek army so they could coordinate their efforts against the overwhelming Persian forces.

As the Persian army marched on Thermopylae, their navy beached their ships near the town of Sepias and made camp; the next morning, the skies were clear but the seas were rough and the local inhabitants knew that a storm, which they referred to as a Hellespontian, was building in the northern Aegean Sea; the Persians lost four hundred ships in the four day storm.

When the Persians took to the sea again, they sailed south and rounded the Cape of Magnesia; fifteen of the Persian ships were well behind the rest of the fleet and, when they saw the Greek ships at Artemisium, they mistakenly thought they were part of their own fleet; they sailed into the midst of the Greeks and were captured.

The Greeks left Artemisium and sailed for the island of Salamis without engaging the main body of the Persian fleet.

Google Map

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.175-176 and 7.192-193; book 9.40

Artemisia 1

The only female naval captain to fight for the Persians during the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

Artemisia advised the Persian king, Xerxes, not to engage the Greeks in a sea battle for two reasons:

1) Artemisia reasoned that if the Persians attacked with their army instead of their navy, the Greeks would surrender the island of Salamis and retreat to defend the cities of the Peloponnesian Peninsula; they could then be defeated in smaller groups; and

2) Artemisia warned the king that the Greeks had a good navy and that many of his ships were manned by incompetents, such as the Egyptians and the Cypriots.

Xerxes, feeling confident after the sack of the city of Athens, did not heed Artemisia's advise and engaged the Greek navy; although the Persians lost the sea battle, Artemisia distinguished herself when she employed a radical maneuver by ramming and sinking another Persian ship; the Greeks were clearly winning the sea-battle and in a desperate attempt to survive, Artemisia rammed a Persian trireme in order to be mistaken for one of the Greek ships and escape in the confusion.

King Xerxes was so impressed with Artemisia that he said that his men were becoming women and his women were becoming men.

The Athenians thought it was such an insult that a woman would make war on them, they offered a reward of ten thousand drachmas to any captain who could take her alive; she escaped the battle and the reward was never collected.

Histories by Herodotus, book 8.68, 8.87, 8.88 and 8.93

Artemisia 2

The devoted wife of Mausolus of Halicarnassus.

As a lasting monument to his fame and fortune, Artemisia constructed an above-ground tomb in the center of the city of Halicarnassus to house the body of her beloved husband throughout eternity; the tomb was 140 feet (43 meters) in height including the podium, the colonnade, the pyramidal roof and the chariot statue that crowned the structure; his tomb became known as The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Artemis Munychia

Artemis Munychia (Mounychia) denotes a shrine of the goddess overlooking the port of Munychia which is several miles west of Athens; the people of Athens and Attica honored Artemis with a ten day festival during the Attic month of Munychion (Mounychion) so the name, Artemis Munychia, had a double meaning: 1) the harbor and 2) the month; the time of the festival of Artemis Munychia would be approximately early April by our calendar.

Aryans

Another name for the Medes of the Persian Empire.

The Aryans lived among the Persians for many generations but were never assimilated into the Persian culture and thus retained their own distinct customs.

The Aryans were listed separately from the Medes as Persian allies during the invasion of Greece in 490 BCE; they carried bows like the Medes but otherwise the Aryans were more Asian in appearance.

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.62 and 7.66

Aryballos

A jar for fragrant ointments with a spherical body, a flat-rimmed mouth and a single handle extending from the lip to the shoulder.

Asbolos (Asbolus)

A Centaur who fought against the Lapith spearmen.

The Lapithae were the residents of Thessaly near Mount Pelion; when King Pirithous was having the wedding feast for his daughter, Hippodamia, the neighboring Centaurs raided the festivities and tried to kidnap Hippodamia.

The Lapithae and Centaurs went to war and the Lapithae eventually drove the Centaurs from the area of Mount Pelion.

Shield of Herakles, line 185

Asia 1

An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Tethys and Okeanos (Ocean); the wife of Prometheus.

Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.

Theogony, line 359

Asia 2

One of the three continents known to the Greeks, i.e. Asia, Europe and Libya.

Asia was the land east of the Mediterranean Sea and extended to the desert wastes beyond India.

The historian, Herodotus, speculated that Asia was named after Prometheus's wife Asia but he is clearly unsure where any of the continents got their names; he also said that the Libyans believed that Asia was named after a man named Asies who was a member of the tribe of Asiads from the city of Sardis.

Histories by Herodotus, book 4.45

Asia Minor

A peninsula in western Asia between the Euxine (Black Sea) and the Mediterranean Sea including most of modern Asiatic Turkey.

Asia Minor is a Roman designation fir what the Greeks referred to as Anatolia; the word, Ανατολη, in Greek literally means The Rising of the Sun, i.e. The Place of the Sunrise.

Asine

An ancient town on the southern Peloponnesian Peninsula on the Gulf of Argolis.

Asios (Asius)

The son of Dymas and uncle of the Trojan hero, Hector.

During the siege of Troy, Apollon assumed the guise of Asios in order to goad Hector back into the battle.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 16, line 717

The Iliad (Fagles), book 16, line 837

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 16, line 823

Askalaphos (Ascalaphus)

He and his brother, Ialmenos, were the sons of Ares (god of War) and the maiden, Astyoche.

Askalaphos and Ialmenos fought for the Greeks at Troy with soldiers from Aspledon and Orchomenos; their complement of troops filled thirty ships which would equal approximately 5,100 men; Askalaphos was killed during the siege.

His name may also be rendered as Askalaphus or Ascalaphos.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 512

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 602

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 603

Askanius (Ascanius)

The son of the Trojan ally, Aineias (Aeneas) and Kreusa (Creusa).

Askanius was also called Iulus.

Asklepios (Asclepius)

Asklepios

Asklepios was the greatest healer of the ancient world; the son of Apollon and Koronis (Coronis).

Asklepios was also the father of Machaon and Podaleirios; both brothers fought with the Greeks against the Trojans and served as physicians for the Greek army.

As the son of Apollon, Asklepios was semi-divine and became known as the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing; several shrines were established in honor of Asklepios including one in Athens and another at the city of Epidaurus; patients would sleep in the temple and either they would be cured in the night or they would have dreams that would indicate the correct treatment for their ailments; some were healed with calming incantations, some were given potions and others were cured with surgery.

The birth and death of Asklepios is an unusual and tragic story which involved the blessings and anger of the Immortals; Asklepios's mother was a mortal woman named Koronis who lived in Lakereia on the banks of Lake Boibias in Thessaly; Apollon took Koronis as his lover and she became pregnant; Koronis thought she could deceive Apollon and have an illicit affair with a man named Ischys without Apollon's knowledge but, even though Apollon was at his shrine at Pytho, his all-seeing abilities allowed him to perceive the young woman's impious behavior; before the goddess of childbirth, Eileithyia, could bring Koronis to term, Apollon's sister, Artemis, killed Koronis with a shower of golden arrows while she slept; many of Koronis's neighbors were also killed in the conflagration; when Koronis's relatives placed her on the funeral pyre and lit the flames, Apollon could not endure to have his offspring killed for the mother's irreverent deeds; Apollon swooped down to the pyre, parted the flames, and took the unborn Asklepios; the baby was given to the Centaur, Cheiron (Chiron), where he learned the art of healing.

Asklepios became too enamored with his own abilities and finally committed an act of selfishness which angered Zeus and resulted in his death; instead of using his god-given abilities with gracious humility, Asklepios accepted gold as a payment for restoring a dead man to life; Zeus struck down Asklepios and the man he had resurrected was also killed with a flash of lightning and thus ended the life of the greatest healer of the ancient Greek world.

The name, Asklepios, may also rendered as Asklepius, Asclepius, Aeskulapius or Aesculapius.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 731; book 04, lines 194 and 204; book 11, lines 518 and 613; book 14, line 2

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 833; book 04, lines 224 and 234; book 11, lines 609 and 725; book 14, line 2

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 872; book 04, lines 236 and 248; book 11, line 594; book 14, line 3

Pindar, Pythian Ode 3, lines 1-57

Askos

Askos

A pitcher used to store or pour oil and wine; an askos typically had a rounded or ellipsoid body with one or more spouts; the askos pictured above is quite ornate and was probably not for everyday use.

Asopos (Asopus) 1

The god of the springs of Asopos which are located in southern Boeotia and flows eastward from the slopes of Mount Kithaeron (Cithaeron).

Asopos is the son of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

His name means Never Silent.

Asopos is the father of the maiden, Kerkyra (Corcyra) and also Sinope, Antiope, Thebe and Aegina (Aigina).

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 4, line 383; book 10, line 287

The Iliad (Fagles), book 4, line 446; book 10, line 337

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 4, line 463; book 10, line 320

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 117 and 736; book 2, line 947; book 4, line 567

Asopos (Asopus) 2

The god of the river Asopos which is located on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in the district of Argolis and flows northward into the Gulf of Corinth.

The Asopos river is approximately 49.7 miles (80 kilometers) in length.

Aspasia

(470-410 BCE) The mistress of the illustrious Athenian statesmen, Pericles.

Aspasia was of humble birth and became Pericles's mistress after he left his first wife; she was a woman of wit and intelligence who could converse with politicians and philosophers with ease.

Aspasia and Pericles had one son, also named Pericles; After Pericles became estranged from his first wife he took Aspasia as his lifelong companion; Pericles's two legitimate sons by his first wife, Xanthippus and Paralos, were the victims of a plague that ravaged Athens in 425 BCE and forced him to champion the revocation of a law that he had sponsored before the plague years; when the king of Egypt had given Athens a gift of forty thousand measures of grain, every citizen was entitled to an equal share; Pericles initiated a law that would strictly define an Athenian citizen as only those with two Athenian parents; this law resulted in the loss of citizenship for almost five thousand people; the loss of citizenship meant that many of these people were sold into slavery; after his sons had died, Pericles revoked the law so that his illegitimate son, by Aspasia, could inherit his fortune.

Aspathines

One of the seven Persians who successfully mounted the revolt which deposed the usurper who came to be known as false-Smerdis from the throne of the Persian Empire.

When the second king of the Persian Empire, Kambyses (Cambyses), was occupied with the subjugation of Egypt, a Mede named Smerdis assumed the role of Kambyses's dead brother, also named Smerdis, and claimed the throne for himself.

Kambyses had secretly arranged the murder of his brother, Smerdis, and therefore knew that the Smerdis on the throne was not his brother but before Kambyses could return to confront the false Smerdis and reclaim his throne, he accidentally wounded himself with his own sword and died.

The false Smerdis was very clever at concealing his true identity and never left the palace or allowed high ranking Persians to see him; the false Smerdis not only bore the same name as Kambyses's brother but was also physically similar to him, with one exception: the Median Smerdis had no ears; Kambyses had inflicted a punishment on the Mede that required that his ears be lopped off.

One of the seven conspirators, Otanes, was the first to suspect that something was wrong and devised a plan to determine the truth of the matter; Otanes's daughter, Phaedyme, was the wife the true Smerdis and was occasionally required to attend the false Smerdis as part of his pretense to the throne; Otanes instructed her to secretly feel Smerdis's head to see if he had any ears; Phaedyme bravely obeyed her father and recognized the false Smerdis for what he was.

Otanes began to recruit other Persians in what would ultimately be a rebellion; with the help of Aspathines, Gobryas, Intaphrenes, Megabyzus, Darius and Hydarnes, Otanes plotted to murder the false Smerdis and reclaim the throne of the empire for the Persians.

The seven rebels fought their way into the usurper's chamber and killed him; Aspathines was seriously injured in the fight; when the populace found out what had transpired, a wave of violence swept the city and only darkness saved the Medes from complete extermination.

The seven men then debated as to which type of government to establish; the former king, Kambyses, had been cruel and excessive in the extreme but Darius argued for another monarchy and finally won the others to his point of view; Darius was installed as the third king of the Persian Empire in 521 BCE.

Aspathines and the other rebels were granted special privileges in the new kingdom and were allowed to have an audience with the king at any time unless he was with one of his wives.

Histories by Herodotus, book 3.68-88

Asphaleios

Asphaleios

An epithet for Poseidon (lord of the Sea) meaning, the Securer.

Aspis (Shield)

A comedy by Menander of Athens (circa 342-292 BCE); only the first half of the original text of this play survives but trying to remain faithful to Menander's style, several "complete" copies of the play have been published; the following synopsis was derived from a reconstruction/translation by Sheila D'Atri and Palmer Bovie.

Cast of characters:

Daos - an old slave of Kleostratos

Smikrines - the older brother of Chairestratos

Tyche - goddess of Chance

Chairestratos - the younger brother of Smikrines

Chaireas - the step-son of Chairestratos

Sostratos - a fake doctor

Kleostratos- the step-brother of Chairestratos

Chorus - revelers in the street

This was the second play of Menander's I had the pleasure of reading; the plot is actually straight forward but there are twists and turns which make the story surreal as well as believable.

The story revolves around two brothers who are both wealthy but one is stingy and the other is generous; one is a miserly old bachelor and the other is a beloved family man.

The slave Daos returns from a war in Lydia and relates the death of his master, Kleostratos; the battle was so fierce that the dead soldiers could not be given individual burials; Daos found a dead and disfigured soldier carrying Kleostratos's distinctive shield and assumed that Kleostratos was dead; Daos returns home to Athens with the gold and slaves Kleostratos had captured before his death and tells Kleostratos's grieving father and conniving uncle the bad news.

Tyche, the goddess of Chance, appears early in the play to remind the audience that things are not always as they seem and that the reports of Kleostratos's death might be premature.

Chairestratos is the step-brother of Kleostratos and has two pressing problems regarding his daughter and Kleostratos's fiancé; Smikrines, the miserly brother of Chairestratos, decides that he will marry Chairestratos's daughter, his niece, and claim her dowry; he does not care that he is forcing the poor girl to marry an old man instead of her youthful lover, Chaireas.

At this point in the play, Kleostratos seemingly returns from the dead; he was not killed in the war but only wounded; his slave Daos found his distinctive shield next to a disfigured dead body and mistakenly assumed that his master had been killed; Kleostratos has now returned home and is ready to marry his fiancé.

Kleostratos's return from the dead is greeted with joy and disbelief but before Smikrines hears the news, Daos has a brilliant idea to save Chairestratos's daughter from a forced marriage and at the same time, see that the scheming old Smikrines gets what he deserves; the whole family enthusiastically agrees to join in the plot against Smikrines.

In order for the plot to succeed, Kleostratos must remain hidden from Smikrines and Chairestratos must feign a severe illness; a fake doctor is summoned and pretends to examine Chairestratos and then informs Smikrines that his brother will soon die; while Smikrines is reeling from the news of his brother's impending death, Daos casually mentions the fact that Kleostratos's fiancé has a sizable dowry and now has no one to marry since Kleostratos was killed in the war; as the senior man of the family, Smikrines can dictate who marries who and begins to rethink the hastily concocted scheme marry his niece; he realizes that if he marries Kleostratos's fiancé, he will get a much larger dowry and that's all he really wants.

The fake doctor announces that Chairestratos has died; Smikrines declares his love for Kleostratos's fiancé and relinquishes his claim to marry his niece; instead of astounding his family with his boldness, Smikrines is the one who is astounded when Kleostratos and Chairestratos both emerge alive and well; Chairestratos's daughter is now free to marry her young lover and Kleostratos can marry his fiancé; Smikrines realizes that he has been tricked and that there is nothing he can do about it; all in all, a happy ending.

As I said at the beginning of this review, the original text of this play is not complete and the "completed" play which I reviewed was a reconstruction based on what the modern authors thought the original "might" have looked like; I can only assume that the modern authors were sincere in their appreciation of Menander and sought to complement his play and make it accessible for others to appreciate; I personally appreciated the way this play is presented and recommend it for readers of all ages.

Aspledon

The son of the Nymph Mideia and lord of the Sea, Poseidon.

Little is known about Aspledon other than the fact that a city in Boeotia was named after him; the city was eventually deserted because of a shortage of water.

Aspledon's mother Mideia also had a city in Boeotia named after her but it was moved from its highland location to lower ground and renamed Lebadeia to become the site of the Oracle of Trophonius.

Description of Greece by Pausanias, book 9 (Boeotia) 38.9 and 39.1

Assarakos (Assaracus)

Assarakos was one of the three sons of Tros; his brothers were: Ganymede and Ilos; Assarakos was the father of Kapys (Capys), the grandfather of Anchises and the great-grandfather of the Trojan hero, Aineias (Aeneas).

Tros was lord of the Trojans; he was the great-grandson of Zeus and the great-grandfather of Priam, who was the last king of Troy.

Ganymede (Ganymedes) was abducted by Zeus and taken to Mount Olympos (Olympus) where he was made the cup-bearer of the Immortals and thus became immortal.

Ilos was the the fourth king of Troy and the grandfather of King Priam; Ilos was the eldest son of Tros and the father of Laomedon; Troy, i.e. Ilion, was named after Ilos.

His name may also be rendered as Assarakus or Assaracos).

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 20, lines 232 and 239

The Iliad (Fagles), book 20, lines 268 and 277

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 20, lines 265 and 272

Assesos (Assesus)

A small town near MIletos (Miletus) in Karia (Caria); the site of the temple known as Athene of Assesos.

The ruler of Sardis, Alyattes, was continuing a war of attrition against the people of Miletos by burning their crops each year at harvest time; the Milesians were no match for the powerful army of Alyattes and suffered year after year of deprivation.

In the twelfth year of the war, the army of Alyattes accidentally set fire to the temple of Athene at Assesos and it was utterly destroyed; the barbarians gave little thought to the destruction of the temple until Alyattes was afflicted with a lingering illness; he sent an emissary to the oracle at Delphi seeking a cure for his illness; he was told that unless he rebuilt the temple of Athene at Assesos he would suffer ill health indefinitely.

The prince of Miletos, Thrasybulus, heard what the oracle had told Alyattes and contrived a way to end the yearly invasion of his country; when Alyattes sent a herald to Miletos seeking a truce so that the temple could be rebuilt, Thrasybulus had the people of Miletos gather all their meager stores of food and wine and stage a mock celebration; the herald of Alyattes saw the display of affluence and dutifully reported the scene to his master.

Alyattes was convinced that the years of war against Miletos were in vain and negotiated a permanent truce which included the construction of two temples for Athene.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.18-23

Asteria

The daughter of the Titans, Phoebe and Koios (Coeus); Asteria is the wife of Perses and the sister of Leto and mother of the Roaring Goddess, Hekate (Hecate).

Theogony, line 409

Asterion

The son of Kometes (Cometes); Asterion was one of the Argonauts.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 35

Asterios (Asterius) 1

The son of the Giant, Anax.

Asterios (Asterius) 2

Asterios and his brother, Amphion, were the sons of Hyperasios (Hyperasius) and Hypso from Pellene; Asterios and Amphion were most noted for being Argonauts.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, line 176

Asterism

A collection of stars in the heavens; a star-pattern that is not a constellation; for example: the Big Dipper and Little Dipper are asterisms.

Asterism is from the Greek root word Aster meaning Star.

Asterodeia

A Nymph from the Caucasus Mountains who was the consort of King Aietes (Aeetes) of Kolchis (Colchis).

Asterodeia and Aietes had one son, Apsyrtos, who was killed by his half-sister, Medeia (Medea) and Jason after they had stolen the Golden Fleece and were fleeing Kolchis.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 3, lines 210-259

Asterope

One of the seven daughters of Atlas known as the Pleiades.

The hunter, Orion, relentlessly pursued Asterope and her sisters until they were changed into pigeons by Zeus and eventually put into the night sky as the constellation, the Pleiades; to see the Pleiades from the northern hemisphere, the sisters are located above and to the right of the constellation of Orion in the zodiacal house of Taurus.

Her name literally means Lightning.

Asterope's sisters are: Alkyone (Alcyone), Elektra (Electra), Kelaeno (Celaeno), Maia, Merope and Taygete.

Asteropetes

An epithet of Zeus which literally means, the Lightener.

Astraea (Astraia)

The constellation Virgo, i.e. the Star-Maiden.

Astraios (Astraeus)

The son of the Titans Eurybia and Krios (Crius).

Astraios was the consort of Eos (Dawn) and the father of Zephyros (West Wind), Boreas (North Wind) and Notos (South Wind).

Theogony, lines 379+

Astron

Used in the plural to mean, Stars; used in the singular to mean the star Sirius.

Astronomy

Astronomia; commonly called The Astronomy; the fragmentary remains of commentary by unknown authors about a work attributed to Hesiod which deals with the stars; only five brief sections of the commentaries are intact.

Fragment 1 - The Astronomy is attributed to the poet, Hesiod; the Pleiades are always called Peleiades and described as the stormy daughters of Atlas; they are called Lovely Taygete (Teygeta), dark'faced Elektra (Electra), Alkyone (Alcyone), bright Asterope, Kelaeno (Celaeno), Maia and Merope; also mentioned is Hermes (herald of the Immortals) as the son of Maia who was born in the mountains of Kyllene (Cyllene).

Fragment 2 - Zeus created the sisters of Hyas into stars which are called Hyades; the poet, Hesiod, says that the sisters are like the Graces and named Phaesyle, Koronis (Coronis), rich-crowned Kleeia (Cleeia), lovely Phaeo and long-robed Eudora.

Fragment 3 - A brief description of the plight of Kallisto (Callisto) and her son, Arkas (Arcas); Kallisto was the daughter of Lykaon (Lycaon) and lived in Arkadia (Arcadia); she would occupy herself with the wild beasts of the mountains with the goddess Artemis; she was seduced by Zeus and became pregnant; when Artemis saw Kallisto bathing, she was enraged to see that her companion was pregnant and changed Kallisto into a bear; her child was born and she named him Arkas; mother and son were eventually captured by some goatherds and returned to her father, Lykaon; Kallisto violated the law by going into the precinct of Zeus and was hunted down by Arkas and other Arkadians (Arcadians); Zeus saw her plight and placed her in the heavens as the constellation the Great Bear.

The fate of Arkas was more unpleasant than that of his mother; his story is also slightly contradictory to the first part of Fragment 3; we are initially told that Arkas participated in the hunt for his mother in the precinct of Zeus but then we are told that after Kallisto and Arkas returned to her father's home, Lykaon pretended not to know of his daughter's fate (being transformed into a bear by Artemis) and, while he was entertaining Zeus at his home, Lykaon chopped up Arkas while he was still a baby and served the infant to Zeus as a meal; Zeus placed Arkas in the heavens as the star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes and he was thereafter known as the Bear Warden and protector of his mother.

Fragments 4 and 5 - The fate of the mighty hunter, Orion, is told in two ways; the version told in Fragment 4 is full of adventure, drunkenness, divine punishment and forgiveness; the version as told in Fragment 5 is rather mild and says that Orion was placed in the sky as a constellation because he was noble and a credit to his father, Poseidon.

Fragment 4 recounts the most repeated account of Orion's life and death; he was the son of the god, Poseidon, and Euryale, the daughter of King Minos of the island of Crete; Orion had the ability to walk on water as easily as any other man could walk on land; Orion went to the island of Chios and outraged Merope, the daughter of Oenopion, by his drunkenness; Oenopion blinded Orion and he fled to the island of Lemnos; Hephaistos (Hephaestus) took pity on the blind hunter and gave him a servant named Kedalion (Cedalion) to act as his guide; Orion carried Kedalion on his shoulders to point out the roads and help him find his way around the world; while in the east, Orion was healed by Helios (Sun) and resumed his prideful and indulgent life; when he ventured to the island of Crete he hunted with Artemis and Leto; his zeal for hunting made him boast that he would kill every wild animal on the earth; outraged by his boasting, Gaia (Earth) sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion and, after his death, Artemis and Leto persuaded Zeus to place Orion in the heavens as a constellation.

Fragment 5 says that Orion piled up the promontory of Peloris at the northeastern tip of Sicily and, to the delight of the local inhabitants, created the Bay of Poseidon; he then went to the island of Euboea and lived an exemplary life; he was then placed in the heavens as a constellation so that he might be remembered forever.

Astyages

The fourth king of the Medes.

Astyages was the son of Kyaxares; his father had subdued most of central Asia, with the exception of the city of Babylon, and therefore Astyages inherited a large empire.

Astyages was a superstitious man and was troubled by a dream in which his daughter, Mandane, "flooded" his empire; he asked the Magi to interpret the dream and was told that the dream was a bad omen and meant that his daughter would cause the ruin of his empire.

To avoid the presumed consequences of the dream, Astyages arranged for Mandane to marry a non-threatening Persian named Kambyses (Cambyses) instead of a higher caste Mede.

When Mandane became pregnant, Astyages had another dream in which Mandane's child cast a shadow over all of Asia; the Magi again warned Astyages that the dream was a bad omen.

Astyages instructed one of his trusted men, Harpagus, to kill the child as soon as it was born but through a series of what would seem to be divinely choreographed events, Harpagus passed the murderous deed to another man who refused to kill the child; Mandane's child was spared and another child's dead body was substituted in its place.

As the child grew older, Astyages became aware of the deception that Harpagus had instigated but when he again consulted the Magi, they told him that the child was no threat to the king or the empire; Astyages took no action against the boy but killed the son of Harpagus as punishment for not obeying orders.

Mandane's son was returned to her and named Cyrus; when he became a man he was encouraged by Harpagus to lead the Persians in a revolt against Astyages and assume the throne as a Persian king.

When Cyrus and his followers attacked the Medes, Astyages had the Magi impaled for giving him such bad advice and sent his uninspired, ill-prepared army into the field against the Persians; a large number of Astyages's army deserted and joined the Persians and the remainder were utterly defeated; Astyages became the prisoner of Cyrus until he died.

Astyages ruled the Persian Empire from 594-559 BCE.

Astyanax (Skamandrios)

The son of the Trojan prince, Hector, and his wife, Andromache.

Astyanax was only an infant when the city of Troy was plundered and he was killed by Achilles's son, Neoptolemus (Neoptolemos).

Astyanax was called Skamandrios (Scamander) by Hector but everyone else called him Astyanax; his name might literally be translated as Lord of the City.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 6, line 403; book 22, lines 500 and 506

The Iliad (Fagles), book 6, line 477; book 22, lines 587 and 594

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 6, line 469; book 22, lines 586 and (Lord of the lower town) 594

Astypalaea (Astypalea) 1

The daughter of Phoinix (Phoenix) and Perimede; the consort of Poseidon (lord of the Sea); the island of Astypalaea was named after her.

Astypalaea and Poseidon had a son named Ankaeus (Ancaeus) who became ruler of the Leleges, i.e. the precursors to the Lakedemonians (Lacedemonians).

Description of Greece by Pausanias - book 7 (Achaea) 4.1

Astypalaea (Astypalea) 2

An island in the Aegean Sea named after a daughter of Poseidon.

Astypalaea

Google Map

Astydameia (Hippolyte)

The wife of King Akastos (Acastus) of Iolkos (Iolcos).

Akastos was one of the Argonauts and the son of Pelias; Pelias was the man who had sent Jason and the Argonauts on the seemingly impossible Quest for the Golden Fleece.

When the Argonauts returned to Iolkos (Iolcos) with the Fleece, Jason's sorceress wife, Medeia (Medea), induced Akastos's sisters to kill their father, King Pelias.

At the traditional funeral games for Pelias, Astydameia became infatuated with another of the Argonauts, Peleus, and made unwanted advances towards him; when he rejected her, she lied to Akastos and as a result, Peleus was abandoned on Mount Pelion to die.

Peleus had been given a knife made by the hands of Hephaistos (Hephaestus) but Akastos took the knife so that Peleus's would be defenseless; the Centaur, Cheiron (Chiron) restored the knife to Peleus and saved him from certain death.

Astyoche

The daughter of Aktor (Actor); a consort of Ares (god of War) and the mother of the Greek commanders: Askalaphos (Ascalaphus) and Ialmenos.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 513

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, line 603

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, line 605

Atalanta (Atalante)

Atalanta

The famed huntress who was a preeminent member of the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt.

The Kalydonian Hunt was organized by Meleagros (Meleager) in order to rid the countryside of a savage boar which had been released near the city of Kalydon (Calydon) by the goddess Artemis (goddess of the Hunt) in order to punish King Oineus for his failure to make a proper sacrifice to her; Atalanta was the first to wound the beast and was awarded the skin after the boar was finally killed by Meleagros.

Atalanta is also known as the virgin huntress who promised to marry the man who could win a foot race against her; a man named Hippomenes (or Meilanion) took up the challenge and, at the suggestion of Aphrodite (goddess of Love), during the course of the foot race with Atalanta he dropped three golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides in Atalanta's path; when she stopped to pick up the golden apples, Hippomenes won the race and married Atalanta.

Ate

The goddess Ate; one of the daughters of Eris (Discord); Ate is an ancient Greek goddess personifying the crimes caused by human recklessness and the divine punishments that surely follow.

In The Iliad, Ate and the Litai (Prayers) are linked together; the Litai are described as old and feeble but Ate is strong and swift; the Litai follow Ate and, if called upon, heal the wounds that she inflicts but if a person denies the Litai, they go to Zeus (their father) and insist that Ate be summoned to continue the punishment of the unbeliever.

Ate is sometimes defined as the personification of Ruin, Delusion or Folly but her name literally means Blindness.

The Iliad (Lattimore), (Ruin) book 9, lines 504, 505 and 512; (Delusion) book 19, lines 91, 126, 129 and 136

The Iliad (Loeb), book 9, lines 504, 505 and 512; book 19, lines 91, 126, 129 and 136

The Iliad (Fagles), (Ruin) book 9, lines 613 and 622; book 19, lines 106, 148, 151 and 155

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), (Folly) book 9, lines 613 and 621; book 19, lines 100, 145, 147 and (my folly, my delusion) 155

Athamas

The infamous father of Helle and Phrixus; the grandson of the euphonious founder of the Greeks, Hellen.

Athamas was the son of Aeolus (Aiolos) and Enarete; his siblings are variously listed as: Alkyone (Alcyone), Athamas, Kalyke (Calyce), Kanake (Canace), Kretheus (Cretheus), Makareos (Macareus), Perieres, Salmoneus, and Sisyphus.

Athamas was the ruler of Orchomenos (Orchomenus) and married to the Nymph, Nephele (Cloud); he rejected Nephele for the mortal woman, Ino, who then plotted to have Athamas's son, Phrixus, killed as a sacrifice.

Nephele and the god, Hermes, devised the escape of Helle and Phrixus on a magical flying ram with a Golden Fleece; the youths flew away from Orchomenos on the ram but Helle fell from its back and drowned in the sea.

Phrixus sought sanctuary in the land of Kolchis (Colchis) on the eastern shores of the Euxine (Black Sea) and sacrificed the ram in the Garden of Ares; the Golden Fleece remained there until it was retrieved by Jason and the Argonauts.

Athamas's son, Phrixus, married one of the daughters of King Aietes (Aeetes) of Kolchis, named Chalkiope (Chalciope), and they had four sons; the grandsons of Athamas had sworn vengeance against him for the ill treatment of their father but when one of the sons, Kytissoros (Cytissorus), finally met Athamas, he found the old man in desperate circumstances; Athamas was in the town of Alus in Achaea (Achaia) and was about to be sacrificed at the instruction of an oracle; Kytissoros saved his grandfather and incurred the resentment of Zeus; from that time forward, the eldest member of Athamas's family was forbidden, on penalty of death, to enter the town hall of Alus.

Histories by Herodotus, book 7.197

Catalogues of Women, fragments 3 and 7

Athene (Athena)

Athene

The virgin goddess of wisdom, fertility, the useful arts and prudent warfare.

Athene has a page in the Immortals section of this site … click on her photo to view that page.

Athene of Assesos (Athena of Assesos)

The name of a temple dedicated to Athene (Athena) in the small town of Assesos in Asia Minor near the city of Miletos (Miletus).

Athene at Assesos

The ruler of Sardis, Alyattes, was continuing a war of attrition against the people of Miletos by burning their crops each year at harvest time; the Milesians were no match for the powerful army of Alyattes and suffered year after year of deprivation; in the twelfth year of the war, the army of Alyattes accidentally set fire to the temple of Athene at Assesos and it was utterly destroyed.

The barbarians gave little thought to the destruction of the temple until Alyattes was afflicted with a lingering illness; he sent an emissary to the oracle at Delphi seeking a cure for his illness; he was told that unless he rebuilt the temple of Athene at Assesos he would suffer ill health indefinitely.

The prince of Miletos, Thrasybulus, heard what the oracle had told Alyattes and contrived a way to end the yearly invasion of his country; when Alyattes sent a herald to Miletos seeking a truce so that the temple could be rebuilt, Thrasybulus had the people of Miletos gather all their meager stores of food and wine and stage a mock celebration; the herald of Alyattes saw the display of affluence and dutifully reported the scene to his master.

Alyattes was convinced that the years of war against Miletos were in vain and negotiated a permanent truce that included the construction of two temples for Athene.

The above image is a bas-relief found in the ruins of the Temple of Athene of Assesos.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.18-23

Athene Paeinia (Athena Paeinia)

Athene (Athena) the Healer; when the traveler and historian Pausanias was in Athens at the portico to the Kerameikos (Cerameicus) he mentioned seeing several statues and one of these was of Athene Paeinia.

Athene Parthenos (Athena Parthenos)

Athene Parthenos

The goddess Athene (Athena) the Maiden.

The fifty foot, ivory and gold covered statue stood inside the main sanctuary of the Parthenon; the original statue was known to have had the birth of Pandora (the first woman) on the base and Amazonomachy (war with the Amazons) on the shield; the statue was designed and built by the legendary sculptor Phidias during the time of Pericles, i.e. 469-429 BCE.

The above image is a marble representation of what the original statue of Athene Parthenios might have looked like; this statue was found at Athens and is commonly known as the Varvakeion Athena and dates from the third century CE.

Athene Polias (Athena Polias)

Athene Polias

The goddess, Athene Guardian of the City; the oldest temple of Athene on the Acropolis of Athens was dedicated to Athene Polias; this name was in contrast to Athene Parthenos which generally referred to the statue of Athene in the Parthenon as Athene the Maiden.

Athene Promachos (Athena Promachos)

Athene Promachos

The goddess Athene the Protectress.

Athene Promachos was a statue of Athene on the Acropolis which overlooked the city of Athens; the thirty foot statue was designed by the legendary sculptor Phidias and stood outdoors facing towards the west; when sailors approached Athens from the sea they could Athene's upraised golden sword before they could see any other landmark.

The above marble statue is similar to what the original Athene Promachos might have looked like; her upraised right hand can be assumed to have once held her sword; this statue was found in Epidaurus and dates from the third century CE.

Athene Soter (Athena Soter)

The goddess, Athene the Savior; on the last day of the month of Skiraphorion, and thus the last day of the year in Attica, there was a celebration of Zeus Soter and Athene (Athena) Soter as Saviors to ensure their divine blessings for the coming new year.

Athenodorus

A first century Greek sculptor who, with Polydoros (Polydorus) and Agesander, carved the original Laocoon (Laokoon) Group of sculpture which shows the Trojan seer, Laokoon, and his sons in the coils of a snake-like ketos, i.e. sea monster.

After ten years of warfare, the Greeks decided to withdraw their army and leave a Wooden Horse for the Trojans as a feigned peace offering; the clever plan was for the Trojans to take the horse into the city and, after a night of celebration, be caught off guard by the Greek soldiers concealed in the body of the hollow horse; the Laokoon Sculpture Group depicted the moment when the Trojans were debating as to whether or not to take the so called Trojan Horse into the city; Laokoon, as a seer, recognized the deception and wanted to burn the horse; the lord of the Sea, Poseidon, wanted the Greeks to capture Troy so he sent the sea serpent to silence Laokoon; King Priam of Troy saw the death of Laokoon as a just punishment for giving false prophecies and took the horse into the city; at that moment, Troy was doomed to destruction.

Athens

Modern Athens

The largest city in modern Greece with an urban population of approximately 757,400 and 3,216,200 in the surrounding suburbs; located on the western side of the Attic Peninsula with ports on the Saronic Gulf.

Prehistoric Athens (before 11,000 BCE)

Athens is a very ancient city with a history that goes back thousands of years before the Trojan War; the stories and "myths" which describe the origins of Athens are misleading and belie the true antiquity of the city; in order for the chronology of the first kings of Athens to make sense, we need to accept the fact that Athens was contemporary with Atlantis and wielded immense power in the Mediterranean area before 11,000 BCE.

The goddess Athene (Athena) took over the seed of the Athenians from Gaia (Earth) and Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and established the city as her province; Athens became preeminent in all endeavors and was well governed because of its excellent constitution.

The social structure of prehistoric Athens had several successful elements which Athene dictated; the different classes of citizens were segregated to improve their efficiency; priests, artisans, craftsmen and soldiers were independent of one another; the military was particularly effective because the soldiers were not required to work at menial jobs; they focused their entire attention to protecting Athens and its resources.

Prehistoric Athens was described by Plato in the dialogues Timaeus and Kritias (Critias); as well as discussing social and philosophical topics, the two dialogues are our only source of information about prehistoric Athens and the lost continent of Atlantis; Plato got his information indirectly from the Egyptians and according to the Egyptians, prehistoric Athens was the dominant economic and military power in the Mediterranean area and eventually defeated the Atlantians in a protracted war when Atlantis tried to take control of the lands around the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the Egyptians, Athens was founded about a thousand years before Egypt; at that time, Athens was more of a country than a city and covered the approximate area indicated on the map below:

Prehistoric Athens

Athens and Egypt were both established and protected by the goddess Athene (Athena); Athene was known as Neith in Egypt; Athens was named after the goddess but it is not clear as to what the first Egyptians called themselves; the name Egypt is an Anglicized version of the name by which the Greeks called the land around the Nile River; the Sumerians (circa 3900 BCE) referred to Egypt as Magan.

The facts relating to prehistoric Athens were preserved by the Egyptians because the geographic location of Egypt allowed it to survive the many natural disasters which destroyed the other literate societies of the prehistoric world; Athens lost its historical records after two particularly destructive events, one by a fire in the heavens and the other in the form of a deluge; both of these events were remembered as mythological episodes and not as actual historical events because the social institutions of Athens were destroyed and not reestablished until thousands of years after the natural disasters.

The fire in the heavens which destroyed Athens was recorded as the occasion when Phaethon took his father's Sun-chariot and flew too close to the earth; the celestial fire was very destructive in the highlands which surrounded Athens but the damage was apparently severe enough to devastate the population of Athens and destroy the economic backbone of the entire Attic peninsula.

The deluge mentioned by the Egyptians and recorded by Plato was only one of many floods which afflicted Athens but the one referred to as The Deluge was devastating; as a result of The Deluge, the continent of Atlantis was lost beneath the waves and the entire landscape of Greece was altered to such an extent that the physical appearance of landmarks such as the Acropolis of Athens were dramatically changed; to the Greeks, the deluge was recorded only as a myth and became an account of the time when it seemed that the entire human race was almost obliterated by a sudden flood; the flood was so severe that the topsoil of the entire Attic peninsula was washed into the sea; all of the costal cities, including Athens, were completely destroyed; the myth which recorded this event centered around Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha; they were the only survivors of the flood and the human race was repopulated by their descendants.

After the deluge, Athene again guided the people of Greece and began to reestablish Athens; the landscape of the new Athens made it more suitable for trading and commerce rather than agriculture; the once great city took several thousand years to become a recognizable metropolis again because Athens was fragmented into several small towns and was called by the plural term, Athenai.

Athens and Theseus circa 1270 BCE

Theseus

The Athenian hero Theseus lived and died just prior to the Trajan War which would have been prior to 1250 BCE.

Theseus was a brave and resourceful man but one of his most enduring contributions was of a political nature; the city of Athens had been, like all Greek cities, an independent city with its own laws, foreign policies and system of government; from the time of the first mortal kings of Athens to the time of Theseus (circa 1270 BCE) there had been periods of cooperation and periods of contention amongst the cities of Attica but Theseus changed all that with an innovative solution; Theseus united the entire area under one central Athenian government and the agriculturally poor region gradually became an important international trading hub as well as a formidable colonial and military power; the unification of Athens was called the Synoikismos which means Living Together or Marriage; a public feast was initiated to commemorate this event and was called the Synoikia (Synoikiera) and was celebrated on the seventeenth day of the month of Hekatombaion (which would be early September by our calendar).

Athens and the Trojan War circa 1250 BCE

By the time of the Trojan War, Athens was a Mycenaean city because the Mycenaeans were the most powerful military force in Greece; Athens was respected and prosperous but had to submit to the obvious military might of Mycenae; when King Agamemnon of Mycenae assembled the invasion force to capture the city of Troy, the Athenians participated by sending fifty ships (approximately 8,500 men) under the command of Menestheus; the Athenians at Troy were considered to be excellent horse handlers and shield fighters.

The Athens of Herodotus

Herodotus

A bust of Herodotus on desplay at the Stoa of Attalos in Athens.

The historian Herodotus (circa 484-circa 425 BCE) made many references to Athens and the Athenians but did not describe the physical appearance of the city in any detail.

One phase of Athenian history which Herodotus focused on was the rise to power of the tyrant Pisistratus (Peisistratus) after the constitution of Solon was abandoned; by all accounts, Solon was a brilliant man, so when the social and economic future of Athens was threatened, he was asked to devise a constitution which would restore order and prosperity to the beleaguered city; the constitution which Solon wrote was to remain unaltered for ten years to insure that his reforms could have a lasting effect.

Many Athenians were dissatisfied with the new constitution and sought to make reforms; Solon promptly left Athens so that he would not be pressured to alter his constitution; Pisistratus was in the right place at the right time; he was gladly accepted as tyrant of the city and his first act was to discard Solon's constitution; the rule of Pisistratus was turbulent and he was driven from the city but immediately asked to return; Pisistratus returned to Athens in a chariot driven by a woman who was dressed to resemble the goddess Athene to imply that the goddess endorsed his return; the Athenians welcomed Pisistratus and indulged his flamboyant character; he proved to be an effective and benevolent ruler but after his death in 527 BCE, his two sons, Hippias and Hipparchus, were hated and eventually Hipparchus was assassinated; Hippias was driven from Athens and took refuge with the King Darius of Persia.

Spurred by ambition and the prompting of Hippias, King Darius invaded Greece in 390 BCE; as Darius marched towards Athens, it became obvious that the city would either have to fight or submit; rivaled only by Sparta for her military prowess, Athens assembled an army and marched north to Marathon to fight the Persians; the Athenians sent an emissary to Sparta asking them to send an army to help fight the Persians but they refused because they were conducting a religious ceremony.

When the Athenians arrived at Marathon and saw the size of the Persian army, they faltered; the ten generals of the Athenian armies were divided as to whether they should fight or withdraw but the fear of being enslaved by the Persians restored their resolve to fight and they won a resounding victory over the numerically superior Persians; the Athenian men who fought at Marathon were affectionately called Wasps because they put their stingers to the Persians.

Ten years later in 390 BCE, the son of Darius, King Xerxes, mounted a new attack on Greece; many of the Greek cities and colonies surrendered to Xerxes without a fight but Athens and Sparta refused to negotiate; the Spartans sent a small contingent to face the Persians at Thermopylae and their noble deed allowed the Greeks to assemble their defenses.

One Athenian man proved to be the guiding force in the fight against the Persians, his name was Themistocles; at his urging and, in accordance with a proclamation from the Oracle at Delphi, Athens built a sizable navy; the money to finance the navy came from the rich deposits of silver at Laurium (Laureion) in southern Attica; Laurium was nothing less than a slave labor facility and was a dark blot on the otherwise noble Athenian reputation; despite their resolve and planning, the Athenians were no match for the Persian army as it marched on Athens.

Xerxes ordered that Athens should be burned to the ground; all but a few Athenians fled the city for the island of Salamis; the Athenian navy formed near Salamis and a defensive wall was built at the isthmus leading to the Peloponnesian Peninsula; Themistocles tricked Xerxes with a false message and lured the Persian navy into the confining waters around Salamis; the Greeks outmaneuvered the Persians and sank most of Xerxes's fleet; fearing that another naval defeat would endanger his return to Persia, Xerxes ordered a full naval withdrawal and assumed that his army could still defeat the Greeks but his optimism proved to be ill advised; the Persian army was dealt a staggering defeat at Plataea (Plataeae).

Athens was in ruins and the slow process of rebuilding began; the olive tree which Athene had planted on the Acropolis was badly burned when Xerxes destroyed Athene's temple but within a few days after the defeat of the Persians, the olive tree sprouted new leaves; the Athenians correctly assumed that the goddess had not forsaken her city and the reconstruction began immediately.

Athens and Pericles circa 431 BCE

Pericles

Pericles was one of the most famous of all the Athenian statesmen and his influence on the city can still be seen today; after the Persians plundered and burned Athens, Pericles transformed the rubble strewn city into an architectural masterpiece.

Even though the city of Athens was a democracy, the so called Age of Pericles was in fact a period in which one man ruled the government with king-like powers; although he wielded his authority with the consent of the Athenian citizens, he was both admired and criticized for his almost tyrannical domination of the armies and proprietary use of the wealth of the ever expanding Athenian empire; he was a man of great personal charisma and had a reputation for being honest and above corruption or favoritism.

Pericles was not a handsome man nor was he a gifted public speaker and for those reasons he was often criticized by his political opponents and satirized by the comic playwrights; his popular appeal was due to his consistent honesty and sincere devotion to the betterment of Athens and its citizens.

Pericles was determined to spend the wealth of Athens on the Athenian citizens and its colonies; able-bodied men were assigned to paid positions in the army and navy, whereas other citizens were employed in all manner of public works projects which were brilliantly coordinated and resulted in the construction of some of the most enduring and artistically profound structures ever to grace the Greek landscape; all manner of skills, crafts and arts were required for the construction of such masterpieces as: the Parthenon, the Odeum, the Propylaea and the protective Long Walls (which went from Athens to the nearby ports of Piraeus and Phaleron); these civic projects employed vast numbers of workers and gave opportunities to otherwise underemployed Athenians.

Pericles ruled Athens for forty-five years (469-429 BCE); when he first entered the political arena, he was opposed by Kimon (Cimon) and the political faction named the Good and True Party; Kimon was generally perceived as a Spartan sympathizer or, at worst, a Spartan lackey; Kimon was ostracized in 461 BCE but was allowed to return to Athens in 450 BCE and died a year later on a military campaign on the island of Cyprus; after his political detractors, like Kimon, were either ostracized or dead, Pericles ruled without serious political opposition for approximately fifteen years (444-429 BCE) but that did not exempt him from personal attacks and civil prosecutions.

After Pericles became estranged from his first wife he took the courtesan Aspasia as his lifelong companion; his two legitimate sons, Xanthippus and Paralos, were the victims of a plague that ravaged Athens and forced him to champion the revocation of a law that he had sponsored before the plague years; when the king of Egypt had given Athens a gift of forty thousand measures of grain, every citizen was entitled to an equal share; Pericles initiated a law that would strictly define an Athenian citizen as only those with two Athenian parents; this law resulted in the loss of citizenship for almost five thousand people; the loss of citizenship meant that many of these people were sold into slavery; after his sons died, Pericles revoked the law so that his illegitimate son by Aspasia could inherit his fortune.

During his career Pericles led and won at least nineteen successful military campaigns in the defense of Athens or to ensure the expansion of Athenian trade throughout Greece, Asia Minor and the Aegean Sea; his utter contempt for Sparta led to many minor battles with the proud and militant Spartans and set the stage for the long and bitter Peloponnesian War which began in earnest three years before Pericles's death; he was survived by one son who was also named Pericles.

Athens

The above photo is of a model of Athens as it might have appeared soon after the reconstruction during the archonship Pericles circa 431 BCE; this view is from the north and shows the Acropolis in the center; the city wall surrounds the city.

Athens and the Peloponnesian War 431-404 BCE

Athens and Sparta were different in many subtle and overt ways but their differences were usually resolved without prolonged conflicts; in 457 BCE Athens became too aggressive and fought with Sparta in what is sometimes called the First Peloponnesian War; Athens entered into a war with the city of Corinth and the island of Aegina but eventually had to fight with Sparta; as the Athenians became more aggressive, they unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the Persian contingent in Egypt; the Egyptian defeat combined with several other failed campaigns forced Athens to negotiate a thirty year truce with Sparta in 446 BCE.

In 431 BCE a crisis arose which could not be negotiated or ignored; the resulting conflict became known as The Peloponnesian War; the specific cause of the war may be debated but the root cause was simply the long simmering animosity between Athens and Sparta.

At the start of the Peloponnesian War, Athens was at its peak of physical refinement and beauty; the Athens which Pericles had resurrected from the ashes of the Persian desecration was without doubt the most beautiful city in Greece; the historian Thucydides, who wrote extensively about the Peloponnesian War, said that anyone who compared Athens with Sparta would incorrectly assume that Athens was the preeminent power in Greece because of the majesty and grandeur of the city; apparently, the magnificence of their city and the wealth they had accumulated made the Athenians feel invincible but the discipline and determination of the Spartans proved the Athenians wrong.

As for the look of the city, the most dramatic addition to Athens as a result of the conflicts with Sparta was the construction of the Long Walls; the Athenians built three protective walls between 459 and 457 BCE which extended from the City Wall of Athens to the port facilities of Piraeus and Phaleron; the Athenians were far superior to the Spartans on the seas and the Long Walls were built to keep the Spartan incursions into Attica from interfering with the Athenian merchant fleet.

The walls are referred to as Northern, Middle (Southern) and Phaleric; the the Northern Wall was approximately 4.1 miles (6.61 km) in length and ran from Piraeus to the City Wall of Athens at the western side of Nymph Hill; the Middle Wall was approximately 4.13 miles (6.62 km) in length and ran from Munychia (Mounychia) to the City Wall of Athens near the Museum Hill; the Phaleric Wall was approximately 2.67 miles (4.3 km) in length and angled to the south from the City Wall of Athens near where the Ilissus River runs under the wall and connected with the wall surrounding the port facility at Phaleron.

Northern and Middle walls ran parallel to one another for most of their length and had a cross-wall and gate before reaching the City Wall of Athens; the walls were 12 feet (3.65 m) thick and made of quadrangular blocks resting on a natural stone foundation; an indeterminate number of towers were placed along the walls and were made of large square blocks held together with iron clamps; their were two roads running parallel to the Northern Wall, one road was outside the wall and the other was between the Northern and Middle Walls; the outside road was straight and level which means that it was undoubtedly used as the primary route to Piraeus when there was no threat of attack.

After the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BCE), the Spartans forced the Athenians tear down the walls so that they could have access to Athens if the Athenians showed any sign of resistance to Spartan hegemony; remnants of the walls could be seen as late as 1900 CE but, with the expansion of modern Athens, few traces of the walls or its foundations are still visible.

The following map will give you a rough idea of how the Long Walls connected from the City Wall of Athens to the ports.

The Long Walls

Athens and Alexander the Great 336-323 BCE

The Macedonian domination of Athens began during the reign of Philip II (359-336 BCE) and became more extreme when Philip died and his son Alexander took the throne in 336 BCE; with the exception of Sparta, all of the major Greek cities had been rendered submissive by Philip.

The cities of Thebes and Athens were reluctant to bow to Macedonian rule but did so anyway; the Thebans and Athenians were vocal in their unwilling submission but took no overt action which would incur the wrath of Philip or Alexander; the primary Athenian dissident orators were Demosthenes, Lykurgos (Lycurgus), Hypereides, Polyeuktos (Polyeuctus), Diotimus and Moerocles.

The people of Thebes were very anxious to be free of Macedonian rule and were the first city to revolt; we might assume that the Thebans expected other cities to join their cause but support was mostly token; the Athenians voted to support Thebes but took no action; Demosthenes supplied arms to Thebes and thus earned the hatred of Alexander.

Alexander's retaliation on Thebes was swift and brutal; Alexander more or less allowed his captains to do as they wished and the result was the slaughter of most of the Theban men and the enslavement of the women and children; when the Theban refugees reached Athens and reported the destruction of their city, all open resistance to Alexander was silenced.

Alexander had been paying close attention to the Athenians and their half-hearted loyalty to him; after Thebes was rendered docile, Alexander demanded the surrender of a list of dissident Athenian orators and generals; Demosthenes was at the top of the list; as a gesture of contrition, Alexander lessened his demands and only demanded the exile of a few generals but the message was clear, Athens was his to do with as he pleased.

At the Battle of Granikus (Granicus), Alexander captured a number of Athenian mercenaries who were fighting for the Persians; Alexander was appalled at the idea of Greeks fighting for the Persians and sentenced the mercenaries to slavery and hard labor; when Athens appealed to Alexander for the release of the mercenaries, Alexander refused for tactical and diplomatic reasons; he did not want hostile soldiers free to attack his home guard but to show that he could be magnanimous, he extended the possibility that the mercenaries might be released at a future date.

Although he was always suspicious of Athens, Alexander showed his respect for the distinguished accomplishments of the Athenians; when Alexander burned the Persian city of Persepolis, he declared that he burned the city as a suitable revenge for when King Xerxes had burned Athens; Alexander also returned the bronze statutes of Harmodius and Aristogeiton which had been stolen from Athens by Xerxes.

After Alexander's death in 323 BCE, Antipater became the Macedonian ruler of mainland Greece; Athens mounted an armed bid for independence with the aid of the Aitolians (Aetolians), Lokrians (Locrians), Phokians (Phocians) and the Thessalians; the conflict which followed is called The Lamian War, named after the town of Lamia, northwest of Athens; the war lasted one year and involved land and sea battles; the rebels were finally crushed and Antipater made generous peace treaties with all the cities except Athens; as punishment for leading the revolt, Athens was occupied by Macedonian garrisons and most of the former citizens of Athens lost all civil rights; those who were rich enough to retain their citizenship still lost the right of self-rule as well as a severe reduction to their personal freedoms.

I am ending this entry after the death of Alexander the Great because he was the last demigod to have a direct influence over the affairs of Athens.

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Athloi

A term meaning Labors and used to denote the Labors of Herakles (Heracles).

When Hera discovered that Zeus, her brother/husband, had been consorting with a mortal woman named Alkmene (Alcmene), she wanted to diminish the respect and authority Alkmeme's son might inherit; Hera made Zeus swear a solemn oath that the next son born in the line of Perseus would become the next king of Argos; Zeus assumed that Alkmeme's son would have that honor and agreed to the terms of the oath; Zeus failed to anticipate Hera's trickery.

When Alkmene was ready to give birth, Hera delayed Eileithyia (Eilithyia), the goddess of Childbirth, from attending Alkmene until a cousin of Herakles named Eurystheus could be born; true to the oath which Zeus took, Eurystheus became the king of Argos.

From infancy, Herakles had a very troubled life because of Hera's jealousy and malicious meddling; when Herakles went temporarily insane and murdered his wife (and possibly his children), he went to the Oracle at Delphi for absolution and was told that, among other things, he would have to become the bondman of his cousin Eurystheus; Herakles obeyed the oracle and presented himself to Eurystheus to accept his punishment; the tasks which Eurystheus forced Herakles to perform were called The Athloi, i.e. The Labors.

The Twelve Labors of Herakles were:

1) Killing the Lion of Nemea;

2) Killing the Hydra;

3) Capturing the Keryneian (Ceryneian) Hind;

4) Capturing the Boar of Mount Erymanthos (Erymanthus);

5) Cleaning the Stables of Augeas;

6) Killing the Stymphalian Birds;

7) Capturing the Kretan (Cretan) Bull;

8) Capturing the Mares of Diomedes;

9) Retrieving the Belt of Hippolyte;

10) Taking the Cattle of Geryon (Geryones);

11) Retrieving the Golden Apples of the Hesperides; and

12) Bringing Kerberos (Cerberus) from the Underworld.

For a more detailed description of the Twelve Labors of Herakles, go to the Herakles page.

Athos

Mount Athos

Mount Athos; a mountain in the district of Chalkidike (Chalcidice) in northern Greece on the Akte (Acte) peninsula.

There are three finger-like peninsulas jutting south into the Aegean Sea from Macedonia and Akte is the eastern-most peninsula; Akte is approximately thirty miles long and varies from less than two miles to over six miles in width; the spine of the peninsula rises as it goes south and culminates at Mount Athos which rises to a height of 6,670 feet (2,033 meters).

Approximate East Longitude 24º 19' 38'' and North Latitude 40º 09' 28''

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Images of Athos

Atlantis

Atlantis was the name of the island which was possibly the first culturally advanced civilization on earth.

At an undisclosed time in the distant past, Poseidon (lord of the Sea) claimed the unpopulated and undeveloped island which would eventually become Atlantis; Poseidon carefully guided the evolution of Atlantis so that it would become a socially and spiritually advanced culture; after many generations of prosperity and abundance, the people and rulers which Poseidon had entrusted with the perpetuation of Atlantian culture lost their moral fortitude and were destroyed by Zeus.

Atlantis was first mentioned in two dialogues written by the Greek philosopher Plato; the dialogues were entitled Timaeus (Timaios) and Kritias (Critias); they were two of the last three dialogues attributed to Plato during his long and prolific life and presumed to have been written circa 358 BCE; the dialogue Timaeus provides the introduction to the subject of Atlantis and the dialogue Kritias continues with a detailed description of the island but ends abruptly as Zeus is preparing to destroy the island.

Plato related two discussions in which a man named Kritias told the story of the creation and destruction of a Atlantis; the story had been passed down to Kritias as part of his family heritage; during his youth, Kritias was told the story of Atlantis by his grandfather who was also named Kritias; the elderly Kritias was told the story by his father Dropides who had been told the story by a family friend named Solon; Solon was a noted Athenian statesman and during his travels in Egypt, was befriended by a priest who related the story of Atlantis in amazing detail.

In the dialogue Timaeus, we are given a brief introduction to the founding of Atlantis and the way in which the historical record was preserved by the Egyptians; an elderly Egyptian priest informed Solon that the Greeks were like children when it came to history; the Egyptians had records which went back millennia whereas the Greeks had only a vague idea of the historical events which shaped their culture.

The dialogue of Timaeus declares that the ancient city of Athens was preeminent among the cultures of the Mediterranean area; when the Atlantians became too proud and aggressive, Athens used its military might to subdue the Atlantians; the victory which Athens enjoyed was short lived because cataclysms in the form of floods and earthquakes soon engulfed the region; Atlantis sank beneath the waves and was totally destroyed; the city of Athens was devastated but remnants of its population survived to rebuild the city thousands of years later; the memories of Atlantis and the greatness which Athens once enjoyed were recorded by the Egyptians but completely lost to the rest of the world.

The Location of Atlantis

According to Kritias, Atlantis was located at a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea; there were two landmarks called the Pillars of Herakles (Heracles) which designated the dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; the ocean was navigable at that time and in front of the mouth of the Pillars of Herakles was an island larger than Libya and Asia combined; it was possible for travelers to cross from the island of Atlantis to the other islands and then to a continent which encompassed the ocean; violent floods and earthquakes sank Atlantis in a single day and night; after the destruction of Atlantis, the Atlantic ocean became impassable and impenetrable because of the mud shoals created by the island's subsidence.

The island of Atlantis was located to the south of a majestic mountain range which protected it from the north winds and allowed the harvesting of two crops annually; merchant and military ships could sail from Atlantis into the Mediterranean Sea for commerce and conquest; the island was a veritable paradise with every form of food, an abundance of natural resources and all types of animals; the only animals specifically mentioned were bulls, horses and elephants.

The Founding of Atlantis

Atlantis was founded in the remote past at an unknown date; the Olympian gods, in their ultimate wisdom, divided the domains of the earth fairly and evenly; Poseidon was given dominion over the island which was to become Atlantis; he took a woman named Kleito (Cleito) as his wife and began to reshape the island as a tribute to her and the children she had by him; the project of island reconstruction was so extensive that it might be rightly called terraforming.

Kleito was the daughter of two of the Earthborn inhabitants of the island when Poseidon arrived; in the center of the island, near the sea, was a hill where Kleito's parents had once lived; Poseidon fortified the hill by enclosing it with concentric rings of sea and land; there were two rings of land and three of sea; Poseidon then created two springs, one flowing hot and the other cold.

Poseidon and Kleito had five pairs of male twins; he divided the island into ten parts and allotted a portion to each of his sons; the eldest was named Atlas and he was given the central portion of the island and authority over his younger brothers; the name of the island and the surrounding ocean was named after Atlas, Atlantis and Atlantic respectively.

The Sons of Poseidon and Kleito

The first born twins were Atlas and Eumelus; Atlas occupied the central portion of the island and Eumelus ruled the portion of the island closest to the Pillars of Herakles; Eumelus was his Greek name but was called Gadeirus (Gadirus) in his own language.

The second twins were named Ampheres (the eldest) and Euaemon (Evaemon) (the youngest).

The third twins were named Mneseus (the eldest) and Autochthon (the youngest).

The fourth twins were named Elasippus (the eldest) and Mestor (the youngest).

The last twins were named Azaes (the eldest) and Diaprepes (the youngest).

The succession of kings passed from eldest to eldest for "many generations" with each succeeding king possessing more wealth and power than his predecessors.

Atlantis Evolves

Besides the abundance which the island provided, materials and metals were imported for the massive building projects which included temples, dwellings and port facilities.

The first major undertaking of the Atlantian kings was to bridge the rings of water which Poseidon had placed around Kleito's original dwelling in the center of the island; the center of the island was not the geographic center but on one side centered along the length of the island and 6.5 miles (10.4 km) from the ocean; the palace where Poseidon and Kleito had lived was expanded by each generation of kings until it was extraordinary in size and beauty; they next dig a large canal approximately 5.5 miles (8.8 km) in length from the sea to the outermost ring of water to provide safe harbor for large ships; bridges and canals were built to connect the innermost rings with guard towers and gates situated to protect the bridges and canals; the canals were roofed over and wide enough for one trireme.

On the acropolis of the central ring was a temple sacred to Kleito and Poseidon; the temple was surrounded with a wall sheathed with gold and considered to be sacred ground; the five sets of twins were born on the acropolis and yearly offerings were brought to the acropolis in their honor.

The plain on which Atlantis was located was relatively flat and bordered by mountains on the north and the sea on the other sides; the plain was a masterpiece of agricultural engineering; channels were dig on the plain to provided irrigation and also used to transport workers and produce to and from the port facilities; the channels would have resembled a checkerboard if viewed from the air.

The Temple of Poseidon

A magnificent Temple of Poseidon was constructed on the innermost ring of the island; the temple was 600 feet (182.88 meters) long and 300 feet (91.44 meters) wide and proportionate in height; the temple was outlandish in appearance (barbaric) and was covered with silver and accented with gold covered pinnacles; inside, the roof was ivory flecked with orichalcum, gold and sliver; orichalcum is assumed to have been metallic compound second only in value to gold; the pillars and floor of the temple were covered with orichalcum.

The centerpiece of the temple was a gigantic statue of Poseidon in a chariot drawn by six winged steeds; the statue was so large that Poseidon's head touched the ceiling; around the statue were one hundred Nereids riding dolphins; there were also votive offerings from private men dedicated to Poseidon.

Around the exterior of the temple were images and statues of the ten original kings, notable Atlantians as well as distinguished foreigners from the lands Atlantis ruled.

Bulls roamed the precincts of the temple and were included in the rituals of the ten kings who regularly met there; the killing of the bulls and the use of the bull's blood were essential elements to sanctify the legitimacy of the ten kings.

The Pillar of Poseidon

One of the most important artifacts in Poseidon's temple was the Pillar of Poseidon; this orichalcum pillar was inscribed by the first ten kings with the injunctions dictated by Poseidon for the orderly administration of the island.

Alternately on every fifth and sixth year, the ten kings would meet in the Temple of Poseidon to consult on matters of mutual interest as well as give judgments on any wrong committed by any of the kings; the injunctions on Pillar of Poseidon were the basis of their legal judgments; as part of the ceremony, each king was required to kill a bull using only a noose and club; the blood of the bulls was poured over the Pillar of Poseidon and each king invoked the solemn oath which was inscribed on the pillar; also inscribed on the pillar were the punishments prescribed by Poseidon for breaking the sacred oath.

The kings of Atlantis had absolute dominion over their allotted territory; the most important law was that the kings would never make war on each other; they were also required to provide military assistance to one another if any of them were threatened by outside forces.

The Completion of Atlantis

At its peak of power and prosperity, Atlantis was a wonder of engineering and beauty; the hot and cold springs which Poseidon had created were essential to the island's success; the springs were on the center land ring and gushed water for a variety of purposes; besides the obvious necessity of drinking water, the springs were used for baths; men, women and animals all had separate baths which could be made hot or cold as the season required; using aqueducts, the springs were also used to water the elaborate gardens on the outer land ring; the outer land ring also had a gymnasium, a stadium and a race track which ran around the entire outer ring.

The End of Atlantis

Nine thousand years prior to Kritias recounting the story of Atlantis (circa 9600 BCE), there was a bitter war between those who lived inside the Pillars of Herakles and those who lived outside; those outside the Pillars were comprised of Atlantians and their vassal states; those inside the Pillars were primarily the Athenians; the Atlantians held dominion over Italy and northern Africa but were not content with their successes and continued to expand their military ambitions; only the city of Athens had the military might to resist the aggression of Atlantis.

Through the countless generations, the rulers of Atlantis had lost their divine spark; the blood of Poseidon had flowed through the veins of the original kings but as the generations progressed, the kings began to lose the essence of their divine heritage; the kings of Atlantis became too proud and their eventual defeat was delivered by Athens.

When Zeus saw the hubris of the Atlantians, he called a council of the Olympians; we are not told the details of this meeting because the dialogue of Kritias ends abruptly; we do know that Atlantis was destroyed by earthquakes and floods in a single day and night; the Atlantians were not the only ones affected by the cataclysm; with the exception of Egypt, the entire Mediterranean basin was laid waste; the Egyptians were the only ones left to preserve the story of Atlantis which they did and eventually passed it down to Kritias.

Plato, Timaeus (Timaios) and Kritias (Critias)

Atlas 1

Atlas

A son of the Titan, Iapetos, and the Okeanid, Klymene (Clymene).

Atlas was the brother of Prometheus, Menoitios and Epimetheus; Atlas was condemned by Zeus to support the heavens on his shoulders for his part in the Titan's war upon the Olympians.

Atlas is the father of the Pleiades, the Hyades and the Nymph, Kalypso (Calypso); from his position at the edge of the world he could hear the Hesperides sing; his name was given to the Atlas Mountains in northwestern Africa.

The Pleiades are: Alkyone (Alcyone), Asterope, Elektra (Electra), Kelaeno (Celaeno), Maia, Merope and Taygete.

The Hyades are: Eudora, Kleeia (Cleeia), Koronis (Coronis), Phaeo and Phaesyle.

Theogony, lines 509, 517 and 746

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 1, line 52; book 7, line 245

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 1, line 62; book 7, line 283

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 1, line 73; book 7, line 263

Atlas 2

The son of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and a mortal woman named Kleito (Cleito).

Atlas was the eldest of five pairs of twin boys born to Poseidon and Kleito and the first king of the island of Atlantis.

As the eldest son, Atlas had dominion over his other nine brothers and gave each of them various parts of the island to rule; from King Atlas we derive the name for the Atlantic Ocean but whether Atlas was named after Atlantis or visa versa is not clear.

Plato, Timaeus and Kritias (Critias)

Atossa

One of the daughters of Cyrus the Great (king of the Persian Empire from 559-529 BCE)

Atossa was married to her brother Kambyses (Cambyses) while he was the second king of the Persian Empire; the marriage was forced on her by her seemingly insane brother.

After Kambyses died, Atossa was required to marry the new king, Darius I.

Atreides

The sons of Atreus; in The Iliad this refers exclusively to Agamemnon and Menelaos (Menelaus) but Atreus had two other sons named Anaxibia and Plisthenes and they could also be properly referred to as Atreides.

Atreus

One of the sons of Pelops and Hippodamia; husband of Aerope and the father of Agamemnon and Menelaos (Menelaus).

As the king of Mycenae, Atreus inherited a family curse; his father, Pelops, was cursed by Myrtilus because of an unpaid debt, i.e. a breach of honor.

When Pelops died, his brother, Thyestes, was to become the ruler but Atreus drove him and his family from Mycenae and became king; Atreus supposedly killed several of Thyestes's children and, as an ultimate insult, fed them to him at a feast.

Atreus's other sons were Anaxibia and Plisthenes.

Atropos

One of the Fates.

Atropos and her sisters are the daughters of Zeus and Themis; the three sisters determine the life and death of all mortal beings; Atropos was the eldest of the three and superior to her sisters; her sisters are: Klotho (Clotho) and Lachesis.

Atropos cuts the thread of life when the proper time has come for death.

Klotho spins the thread of life and Lachesis determines the length of the thread.

The three sisters are also called the Moirai to denote their descent from the original goddess of Fate, Moira.

Theogony, lines 218 and 905

Shield of Herakles, line 258

Atrytone

Another name for Athene (Athena); the name literally means Unwearied or Tireless One; different translators treat the name in different ways; the Lattimore and Loeb Classical Library translations use the name literally as Atrytone, whereas Fagles and Fitzgerald substitute Tireless One and Unwearied respectively.

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, line 157; book 5, line 115; book 10, line 284; book 21, line 420

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, (Child of Zeus) line 184; book 5, line (tireless one) 127; book 10, (daughter of Zeus) line 326; book 21, (tireless one) line 481

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, (Tireless daughter of Zeus) line 180; book 5, (tireless one) line 133; book 10, (tireless one) line 316; book 21, (Daughter of Zeus) line 489

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 4, line 762; book 6, line 324

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 4, (tireless one) line 859; book 6, (tireless one) line 356

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 4, (Tireless child of Zeus) line 814; book 6, (unwearied child of royal Zeus) line 343

Attica (Attiki)

Attica

A peninsula on the mainland of southeastern Greece; Attica Prefecture is the most populated geographic region in modern Greece with a population of approximately four million which is one third of the population of Greece; Athens, as the capital of Attica Prefecture and the country of Greece, has eighty five percent of the population of Attica.

Attica is approximately 1,470 square miles (3.808 square kilometers) in size and bounded on the east, west and south by the sea, and on the north by Boeotia; besides Athens, the other two principle cities of Attica are Megara and Eleusis.

Aktaios (Actaeus) was the first king of what is now Attica but at that time the region was called Aktaia (Actaea); the name Aktaia literally means Coast-Land and was an appropriate name for the region because it is bounded on three sides by the sea; when Aktaios died, his snake-like son-in-law Kekrops (Cecrops) became king.

Kekrops had four children: a son named Erysichthon and three daughters named Herse, Agauros and Pandrosos; Erysichthon died before Kekrops so when Kekrops died, kingship fell to a man named Kranaos (Cranaus) who was the most powerful man in Athens at that time; among the daughters of Kranaos was a woman named Atthis; Athens was of course named after the goddess Athene (Athena) but Attica was named after Atthis.

Atthis was married to a man named Amphictyon who rose up against Kranaos and deposed him; Amphictyon was eventually banished from Attica by a reptilian looking Immortal named Erichthonius who was the son of Gaia (Earth) and Hephaistos (Hephaestus).

The preceding events took place well before what we would call "recorded history"; Attica was not mentioned in the accounts of the Trojan War but appeared briefly in Histories by Herodotus circa 425 BCE.

One generation before the Trojan War (circa 1280 BCE), the various cities of Attica were constantly at odds with one another; sometime the disputes were petty and at other times they became violent; the Athenian hero Theseus successfully united the cities of Attica with Athens as the capital city; the economic and military power of Attica reached new heights because of the cooperation of the Attic cities; Athens was the focus of this new prosperity but the surrounding cities also enjoyed the commercial opportunities their unity provided.

After the Trojan War ended circa 1240 BCE, Menelaos (Menelaus) had a fateful encounter off the southern tip of the Attic Peninsula near Cape Sunium (Sounion); when Phrontis, the helmsman of Menelaos, was swept overboard by the god Apollon, Menelaos, Helen and the rest of the survivors from Troy, were blown off course and ended up in Egypt instead of the Peloponnesian Peninsula and their intended destination of Sparta.

In the centuries following the Trojan War, Athens and Attica grew and prospered until the Persian Empire invaded Greece in 490 BCE; the Persians were defeated at the battle of Marathon by an army consisting mainly of men from Attica; the second Persian Invasion in 480 BCE was more difficult to repulse; the Persians marched south from northern Greece and left the cities which would not surrender in ruins; when the Persians reached Attica they were ruthless in their destruction; Athens and Attica were burned and looted before the Persians were finally defeated and forced to retreat back to Asia.

The politicians of Attica used the rich silver deposits from Laurium (Laureion) in southeastern Attica to finance their war with the Persians and these same riches gave them the needed revenues to rebuild Athens and the entire Attic Peninsula after the Persians were defeated and forced to retreat; the silver mines of Laurium were nothing more than slave labor camps and the wealth derived from Laurium is still a topic of disgrace for the otherwise noble heritage of Attica.

Atys

One of the two sons of the Lydian king, Kroesus (Croesus).

Atys's other brother was a deaf mute and therefore Kroesus assumed that Atys would follow him as the next king of Lydia; when Atys was a young man, Kroesus had a dream in which Atys was killed by an iron spear; Kroesus sought to protect Atys and had all spears removed from his home and refused to allow Atys to participate in any military actions.

The Mysians, who lived to the north of Lydia, were plagued by a fierce boar and asked Kroesus to send Atys and other brave men to help them drive the boar from their country; at first, Kroesus refused to allow Atys to go on the hunt because of the ill-omened dream but Atys convinced his father that he was in no danger from the boar, or any other beast, because he was not fated to die by tooth or claw but by an iron spear; Kroesus saw the logic of Atys's argument and agreed that he should go on the hunt to prove his manhood and gain the respect of his people as a man of strength and skill.

At this same time, a supplicant named Adrastus (Adrestos) came to Lydia and begged Kroesus for sanctuary because he had accidentally killed his brother and was driven from his home by his father; Kroesus welcomed Adrastus into his home and absolved him of his blood-guilt.

As repayment for his hospitality, Kroesus ordered Adrastus to accompany Atys on the boar hunt and serve as Atys's guardian and protector; during the course of the hunt, Adrastus cast his spear at the boar and accidentally killed Atys; when he faced Kroesus and admitted his guilt, Kroesus forgave him and said that the death of his son was not the work of any man but the will of the Immortals.

Adrastus could not live with his shame and killed himself; Kroesus was left with no heir to his ever expanding kingdom.

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.34-45

Auge

Auge and Herakles

The consort of Herakles (Heracles) and the mother of Telephus (Telephos); the daughter of Aleus and the wife of Teuthras; she had been seduced by Herakles before she married Teuthras; the above image shows Auge being adducted by Herakles.

Auge's brothers Amphidamas and Kepheus (Cepheus) were Argonauts and were with Herakles on the Quest for the Golden Fleece.

Augeas 1

The father of the healer, Agamede, who was noted for her skill at using herbs for healing.

Augeas 2

The king of Elis who owned the stables that Herakles (Heracles) was ordered to clean in only one day as his Fifth Labor.

Augeas had three thousand oxen (or cattle) and the stables had not been cleaned for thirty years; Herakles undertook this Labor with the same shrewd combination of brain and brawn that characterized his other Labors; with the help of his protector, Athene (Athena), he diverted the rivers Alpheios (Alpheius) and Peneios (Peneus) to the stables and, using a large wrecking bar, knocked a hole in the wall allowing the torrential waters to flush out the accumulated detritus.

Augeias

The son of Helios (Sun).

Augeias was the wealthy ruler of the city of Elea in southwestern Italy on the coast of Lukania (Lucania) and one of the Argonauts.

The Argonauts were a company of the greatest heroes and adventurers in ancient Greece; the Argonauts were assembled by Jason to assist him in retrieving the Golden Fleece from the land of Kolchis (Colchis); their name was derived from their ship, the Argo (Argo + nautes = Argo-seamen); the Quest for the Golden Fleece can be assumed to have occurred circa 1285 BCE.

Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodius, book 1, lines 172-175

Aulis

A town on a hilly promontory on the western banks of the river Euripus near the narrow channel separating mainland Greece from the island of Euboea.

Before the Trojan War began, Aulis was the scene of several remarkable encounters with the Immortals.

When the Argive fleet was gathered at Aulis to attack Troy, the Greek commander Agamemnon began to boast that he surpassed Artemis in hunting skills; the goddess would not let such an insult pass unpunished so she called upon Boreas (North Wind) to prevent the Greek fleet from leaving Aulis; the seer Kalchas (Calchas) instructed Agamemnon to sacrifice his daughter Iphianassa to the goddess Artemis in order to appease her and allow the fleet to sail to Troy ; Agamemnon had Iphianassa brought to Aulis on the pretext that she was to marry their greatest warrior, Achilles; when the time for the sacrifice came, Artemis took Iphianassa from the altar and substituted a deer in her stead; Iphianassa was taken to the land of Tauris to serve as a priestess for Artemis; in some accounts, Artemis made Iphianassa immortal whereas in other accounts, she was rescued by her brother, Orestes.

Aulis was also the scene of an incredible demonstration of Zeus's powers; the Greeks were preparing an elaborate sacrifice to the Immortals when a snake appeared from under the altar; the snake was a thing of horror with its back mottled with blood; it was clear to all present that the snake was sent by Zeus; the snake slithered to the top of a nearby tree where a mother sparrow lorded over a nest of eight chicks; the snake ate each of the chicks despite their pitiful screaming; finally the snake grabbed the mother snake by the wing and ate her too; in order to prove to the men watching the spectacle that the entire vision was of divine origin, the snake turned to stone; Kalchas correctly reasoned that each of the nine birds symbolized a year of fighting at Troy and that the Trojans would finally be defeated in the tenth year of the war.

Google Map

Works and Days, line 651

The Kypria, line 64

The Iliad (Lattimore and Loeb), book 2, lines 303 and 496

The Iliad (Fagles), book 2, lines 356 and 586

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 2, lines 351 and 582

Aura

A companion of Artemis who bore twins to Dionysos (a.k.a. Bacchus, god of Wine); Zeus changed her into a spring because she, in a fit of madness, killed one of her children.

Aurora (Phaethon)

One of the chariot horses of the goddess of the Dawn, Eos; her other horse was named Lampos (Lampus).

When Odysseus was finally reunited with his wife, Penelope, the goddess Athene (Athena), prolonged the night so that the two lovers could be together; Athene also held back Eos and would not let her yoke her colts, Phaethon and Lampos, to her chariot.

The Liddle and Scott Greek-English Lexicon defines Phaethon simply as Shiner but Robert Fitzgerald translates Phaethon as Daybright and Robert Fagles translates it as Aurora.

The Odyssey (Lattimore and Loeb), book 23, line 246

The Odyssey (Fagles), book 23, line 280

The Odyssey (Fitzgerald), book 23, line 276

Auson

The son of Odysseus and the Nymph, Kalypso (Calypso).

Autolykos (Autolycus)

A thief; the son of Hermes and Chione; the father of Antikleia (Anticleia) and the maternal grandfather of Odysseus.

Autolykos possessed the power of changing the shape of whatever he stole and making it, and himself, invisible.

His name may also be rendered as Autolykus or Autolycos.

The Iliad (Lattimore), book 10, line 266

The Iliad (Loeb), book 10, line 267

The Iliad (Fagles), book 10, line 310

The Iliad (Fitzgerald), book 10, line 293

Autonoe 1

One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.

Other than a passing reference to her name, the only Nereid to receive any individual attention in the ancient literature was Thetis; as the mother of Achilles and one of the few goddesses to refuse the amorous intentions of Zeus, Thetis was unique; when the Immortals needed the Nereids, they called upon Thetis to rally her sisters for whatever task was needed.

The Nereids and the Argonauts - After Jason and the Argonauts had taken the Golden Fleece from Kolchis (Colchis), Medeia (Medea), the daughter of King Aietes (Aeetes), helped Jason murder her half-brother Apsyrtos (Apsyrtus) in a rather cowardly way; Zeus swore revenge for such a dastardly act but his sister/wife Hera wanted to protect the Argonauts until Jason and Medeia could be absolved of their crime by the Dread-Goddess Kirke (Circe); Hera called upon Thetis to gather the Nereids so they could quiet the waters of the sea so the Argonauts could safely navigate to Kirke's island; Thetis plunged into the sea and called to her sisters; her call was answered and the Nereids helped save the Argonauts.

The Nereids at the funeral of Patroklos (Patroclus) - In the last year of the Trojan War, Achilles's companion Patroklos was killed; Achilles took Patroklos's death very hard and called out to his mother Thetis for consolation; Thetis and the Nereids rose from the sea and graced the dead body of Patroklos with their divine presence.

The Nereids at the funeral of Achilles - The death of Achilles was one of the most dramatic events of the Trojan War; as the son of Thetis, his death had particular significance to the Nereids; at the funeral of Achilles, Thetis, the Nereids and the Muses all came to pay their respects.

Theogony, line 258

Autonoe 2

A daughter of Kadmos (Cadmus) and Harmonia; the sister of Ino, Agaue, Polydoros (Polydorus) and Thyone (a.k.a. Semele).

Theogony, line 976

Auxesia

A Spirit; the personification of Fertility.

The Epidaurians were in desperate straits because their land would not yield crops; when they consulted the oracle at Delphi, the Pythia (priestess of Apollon) instructed then to make images of Auxesia (Fertility) and Damia (Increase) and assured the Epidaurians that things would change for the better; the Epidaurians then asked if they should make the effigies of stone or bronze; the Pythia told them to make the statues of olive wood; the Epidaurians went immediately to Athens for the olive tree wood they needed; there are two possible reasons why the Epidaurians asked the Athenians: 1) the olive trees of Athens were the most holy because the goddess Athene (Athena) had given the Athenians the first olive trees or 2) the only place in Greece that had olive trees was the countryside around Athens; regardless, the Athenians agreed to give the Epidaurians the wood they needed with the stipulation that the Epidaurians make yearly offerings to Athene Polias (Athene, Guardian of the City) and to the first king of Athens, Erechtheus; the Epidaurians kept their agreement and their crops began to grow again.

Histories by Herodotus, book 5.82

Auxo

One of the Graces, worshiped in Athens.

Avenue of Lions

A series of stone lions which were a gift from the island of Naxos for the shrine of Apollon on the island of Delos.

Axenos (Axine)

The large inland sea which we call the Black Sea.

The sea was originally called Axenos by the Greeks and then later called Euxine (Pontos Euxinus); the word Axenos literally means, "an inhospitable place" but the name Euxine means, "kind to strangers."

Approximately 178,000 square miles (461,018 square kilometers) in area.

Axion

A son of King Priam of Troy; Axion was killed in the final battle for Troy by Eurypylos (Eurypylus).

The Little Iliad, fragment 12

Axios (Axius) 1

A river in Macedon which runs north to south and enters the Aegean Sea near the city of Therme.

Google Map

Axios (Axius) 2

The god of the river, Axios, in Macedon.

Azov

The Sea of Azov

Sea of Azov

The Sea of Azov is an inland sea which is connected to the Black Sea (the ancient Euxine) and situated southeast of the Ukraine and bordered by the Crimean Peninsula on the west, the Caucasus Mountains on the south and Russia on the east; the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea are connected by the Kerch Strait which is named after the largest city on that narrow strait; the Sea of Azov is approximately 15,444 square miles (40,000 square kilometers) in area.

The Sea of Azov was called the Maeetian Lake (Maeotic Lake) by the ancient Greeks; the cities of Panticapaeum and Phanagoria were colonized by the Greeks as early as the sixth century BCE and their location on the Kerch Strait made them prosperous because of the various products which were shipped through the strait and destined for markets in Greece and Asia Minor.

The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world with a maximum depth of 46 feet (14 meters); the northern, eastern and western shores of the sea have sandbars which are called spits or sandspits but the southern shore is rocky and steep; the sea floor is generally flat and the salinity varies from three percent at the mouth of the Don River to eighteen percent on the western shore where the sea connects with the Kerch Strait and the Syvash Lake which has a salinity of 60 percent.

The primary rivers flowing into the Sea of Azov are the Don and the Kuban; the Don River enters the Sea of Azov in the northeastern corner where the prosperous Greek city of Tanais was founded in the seventh century BCE; the Don River supplies more than fifty percent of the fresh water flowing into the Sea of Azov; the Kuban River flows into the Sea of Azov on the southeastern side; other minor rivers include the Obytochna, the Berda, the Kalmiius, the Miius and the Yeia.

The geographer Strabo (circa 50 BCE) stated that there was a tradition that the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea were once connected by way of the Sea of Azov; a careful inspection of a satellite map will confirm that possibility via the Don River valley; this has led to the assumption that the ancient Maeetian Lake was the entrance to a larger sea which occupied the same area as the modern Caspian Sea but was enormous by comparison.

The Russian name for the Sea of Azov is Azovskoye More or Azovskoe More.

The Sea of Azov is shown on the above map with the German name Asowsches Meer.

Google Map

Histories by Herodotus, book 1.104

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