Thursday, June 18, 2009
In Greek mythology, Zeus (pronounced /ˈzjuːs/) is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus and the god of the sky and thunder. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical "cloud-gatherer" also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.
Zeus was the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he was married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. He is known for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
In Greek, the god's name is Ζεύς Zeús /zdeús/ (Modern Greek /'zefs/) in the nominative case and Διός Diós in the genitive case. His Roman counterpart was Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart Tinia. In Hindu mythology his counterpart was Indra with ever common weapon as thunderbolt, which he could hold like a staff.
Tykhe was represented with different attributes. Holding a rudder, she was conceived as the divinity guiding and conducting the affairs of the world, and in this respect she was called one of the Moirai (Fates); with a ball she represented the varying unsteadiness of fortune--unsteady and capable of rolling in any direction; with Ploutos or the horn of Amalthea, she was the symbol of the plentiful gifts of fortune.
Nemesis (Fair Distribution) was cautiously regarded as the downside of Tykhe, one who provided a check on extravagant favours conferred by fortune. The pair were often depicted as companions in Greek vase painting. In the vase (right) Nemesis (Indignation) with her arm around Tykhe (Fortune) points an accusing fingure at Helene, who Aphrodite has persuaded to elope with Paris.
TRIPTOLEMOS was a demi-god of the Eleusinian mysteries who presided over the sowing of grain-seed and the milling of wheat. His name means "He who Pounds the Husks."
In myth, Triptolemos was one of the Eleusinian princes who kindly received Demeter when she came mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone. The young goddess was eventually returned to her from the Underworld, and Demeter in her munificence, instructed Triptolemos in the art of agriculture, and gave him a winged chariot drawn by serpents so that he might travel the world spreading her gift. He did so, but when he came to the cold northern land of the Skythians, king Lynkos slew one of the dragons and drove him away. Deventer intervened--transforming the king into a lynx, and denying the Skythians agriculture.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
SELENE was the Titan goddess of the moon. She was depicted as a woman either riding side saddle on a horse or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent was represented as either a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised, shining cloak. Sometimes she was said to drive a team of oxen and her lunar crescent was likened to the horns of a bull. Selene's great love was the shepherd prince Endymion. The beautiful boy was granted eternal youth and immortality by Zeus and placed in a state of eternal slumber in a cave near the peak of Lydian Mount Latmos. There his heavenly bride descended to consort with him in the night.
A number of other goddesses were also associated with the moon, however, only Selene was represented by the old Greek poets represented as the moon incarnate. Other Greek moon goddesses included Pasiphae, the Leukippides, Eileithyia, Hekate, Artemis, Bendis, and Hera (who sometimes doubled for Selene in the Endymion myth).
PRONOIA (or Pronoea) was an Okaenid nymph of Mount Parnassos in Phokis (central Greece). She was the wife of the Titan Prometheus, and the goddess of foresight. Prometheus' wife was also named Hesione and Asia.
Pronoia was closely identified with the goddess Athena who, according to several ancient writers, was worshipped as Athena Pronoia at Delphoi. As an Okeanid she also resembles Athena's mother Metis.
NIKE (or Nicé) was the winged goddess or spirit (daimon) of victory, both in battle and peaceful competition. When Zeus was gathering allies at the start of the Titan War, Styx brought her four children, Nike (Victory), Zelos (Rivalry), Kratos (Strength) and Bia (Force) into the service of the god. Nike was appointed his charioteer, and all four were appointed as sentinels standing beside the throne of the god. Beyond this Nike never acquired any distinctive mythology of her own.
Nike was depicted in ancient Greek vase painting with a variety of attributes including a wreath or sash to crown a victor, an oinochoe and phiale (bowl and cup) for libations, a thymiaterion (incense burner), an altar, and a lyre for the celebration of victory in song.
In scenes of the Gigantomachia (War of the Giants) she often appears driving the chariot of Zeus. In mosaic art and coins Nike isoften shown holding a palm branch as a symbol of victory.
Nike was closely identified with the goddess Athena, sometimes appearing merely as an attribute of the goddess. Sometimes the goddess was pluralised into Nikai.
The most colorful tale of the Greco-Roman war god is told by Homer (Odyssey Book VIII) in his story of Ares and Aphrodite caught in a net. Ares and Aphrodite had an affair. Although Hephaestus caught his wife and Ares in a net and had many witnesses to the adultery, most of the other gods would have been happy to change places with Ares. Ares and Aphrodite had Deimos, Phobos, and Harmonia (Terror, Fear, and Harmony) as offspring .
Because Ares killed men, he was hated by the Greeks and Ares' cults were few, except in Sparta, but Ares was also known as the savior of cities and father of victory. The Roman war god, Mars, was far more popular. He was considered the father of Rome's founder, Romulus. Originally, Mars was a vegetation/fertility god.
Isis was a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshiped as the ideal mother, wife, matron of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, the downtrodden, as well as listening to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis is the Goddess of motherhood and fertility.
Shortly after 2,500 B.C., during the fifth dynasty, the first written records concerning the worship of Isis appear. The goddess Isis (the mother of Horus) was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, the goddess of the Overarching Sky, and was born on the fourth intercalary day. At some time Isis absorbed some characteristics of Hathor a powerful deity. In later myths about Isis, she had a brother, Osiris, who became her husband, and she then was said to have conceived Horus. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Seth. Her magical skills restored his body to life after she gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Seth. This myth became very important in later Egyptian religious beliefs.
Isis is also known as the goddess of simplicity, from whom all beginnings arose, and was the Lady of bread, of beer, and of green fields. In later myths, Ancient Egyptians believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of her tears of sorrow for her dead husband, Osiris. This occurrence of his death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era.
In Greek mythology, Heracles or Herakles (pronounced /ˈhɛrəkliːz/ HER-ə-kleez) meaning "glory of Hera", or "Glorious through Hera" Alcides or Alcaeus (original name) ("Ἥρα + κλέος, Ἡρακλῆς)" was a divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus. He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.
Extraordinary strength, courage, ingenuity, and sexual prowess with both males and females were among his characteristic attributes. Although he was not as clever as the likes of Odysseus or Nestor, Heracles used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice, such as when laboring for the king Augeas of Elis, wrestling the giant Antaeus, or tricking Atlas into taking the sky back onto his shoulders. Together with Hermes he was the patron and protector of gymnasia and palaestrae. His iconographic attributes are the lion skin and the club. These qualities did not prevent him from being regarded as a playful figure who used games to relax from his labors and played a great deal with children. By conquering dangerous archaic forces he is said to have "made the world safe for mankind" and to be its benefactor. Heracles was an extremely passionate and emotional individual, capable of doing both great deeds for his friends (such as wrestling with Thanatos on behalf of Prince Admetus, who had regaled Heracles with his hospitality, or restoring his friend Tyndareus to the throne of Sparta after he was overthrown) and being a terrible enemy who would wreak horrible vengeance on those who crossed him, as Augeas, Neleus and Laomedon all found out to their cost.
In the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology, Hera (pronounced /ˈhɪərə/ or /ˈhɛrə/, Greek Ήρα) or Here (Ήρη in Ionic and Homer) was the wife and older sister of Zeus. Hera is the Goddess of Childbirth and Marriage. In Roman mythology, Juno was the equivalent mythical character. Hera, wanting to set a good example to the gods, goddesses, and mortals, chose the cow as one of her emblems, because they are the most motherly of animals. Not wanting to be viewed as plain-looking like the cow, she also chose the peacock and the lion.
Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. A scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos."
Hera was well known for her jealous and vengeful nature, most notably against Zeus's paramours and offspring, but also against mortals who crossed her, such as Pelias. Paris offended her by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess, earning Hera's hatred.
HELIOS (or Helius) was the Titan god of the sun. He was also the guardian of oaths and the god of gift of sight. Helios dwelt in a golden palace located in the River Okeanos at the eastern ends of the earth. From there he emerged each dawn driving a chariot drawn by four, fiery winged steeds and crowned with the aureole of the sun. When he reached the the land of the Hesperides (Evenings) in the West he descended into a golden cup which carried him around the northern streams of Okeanos back to his rising place in the East. Once his son Phaethon attempted to drive the chariot of the sun, but losing control, set the earth on fire. Zeus then struck him down with a thunderbolt.
Helios was depicted as a handsome, and usually beardless, man clothed in purple robes and crowned with the shining aureole of the sun. His sun-chariot was drawn by four steeds, sometimes winged. Helios was identified with several gods including fiery Hephaistos and light-bringing Apollon.
Harpokrates was the god of silence.
He was a Greek derivative of the Egyptian god Harpa-Khruti (Horus the Child) who was portrayed as a small boy with a finger held to his lips - an Egyptian gesture, symbolising childhood, which the Greeks mistook for a hush of silence.
The most important of the Genii, who looked after the Roman people as a whole, was referred to as "Genius Publicus Populi Romani" and is commonly seen on the reverse of late 3rd and early 4th century AD coins. There were also Genii for every level of human organization, including each district, town, street and house.