Thursday, September 11, 2014

TFBT: Saving the Drown Toddler Glaucus

“A prodigy has been born for you. Whoever explains it will restore the child to you.”  (Hyginus, Fabulae 136) 

When Glaucus, child of Minos and Pasiphae disappeared, Minos made a great search of Crete looking for his son.  Finally with not hope remaining he consulted the oracles.  The gods responded as above.  The “prodigy” was found among Minos’ herds.  Wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last; first Zeus as “the white bull, the spotless cloud” (Cox) that sired him on his mother Europa, then the  splendid bull of extraordinary beauty the gods sent him, the wooden cow Daedalus designed because of bull  and the Minotaur that resulted.  )  This prodigy this time was a cow that changes colors; from white, to red to black.    The seer Polyidus, son of Coeranus, explained the prodigy by showing that the bullock was like a mulberry tree.  For a thorough discussion of what happen next see Lenny Muellner’s paper “Glaucus Redivivus

No offence to Polyidus, the gathered seers, Apollodorus (Bibliotheca 3.3.1) or Hyginus, but I can think of a better answer. 

The bullock in question most resembled a cloud.  White with gold tint on a sunny day.  Black when heavy with rain.  Ruddy when following the setting sun to his western home.  Clouds like the Vedic god Indra won.

“Indra shatters Vrtra with his bolt  . He cleaves the  mountain, making the streams flow or taking the cows, even with the sound of his bolt.. He releases the streams which are like imprisoned cows  or  which, like lowing cows, flow to the ocean. He won the cows and Soma  and made the seven rivers to flow.”  AA MacDonell 1

MacDonell’s  “many-horned swiftly moving cows” are what Cox calls “golden tinted clouds or herds of Helios”. 2  Helios cows were white with gold horns3  as were Apollo’s. 4 Geryon’s kine grazing in the far west were red.5    Hades’ grazing nearby were black.6  And finally Hera had a cow named Io which changed in color from white to black to violet. 7

So there you go, whether you prefer mundane clouds or the divine kine, both answers are better than Polyidus’.  
3  Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica 4.965
4  Homeric Hymn to Hermes  and Philostratus Eder 1.16-31
5  Apollodorus, The Library 2.106-108
6  Apollodorus Bibliotheca 2.125
7  Suida Isis


  1. I learned about Glaucus from this post of yours. The myths of dead humans brought back to life on Earth seem to have been regarded by Greeks themselves as suspicious and embarassing. Pelops is well known because of the importance of the curse of his house. Who else? Alcestis; but in Euripides, curiously, it is not known to the end what exactly Heracles has brought back from the dead. One thinks of Stephen King's Pet Sematary.

  2. Maya,

    I like your description of the Greek approach to reviving the dead; "suspicious and embarrassing" Athena had vials of gorgon's blood she shared with Aesclepius, Apollo's son. He revived some many dead people that Hades filed a complaint and Aesclepius got a lightning bolt. Medea pulled that Pelop's trick a couple of times; dice 'em up, toss 'em into the cauldron, pull 'em out young and beautiful. Most famously she did it to Alcestis' father Pelias, or rather got his daughters to dice him up and toss him in the cauldron then she disappeared.

    Homer established that when you are dead, you are dead. And for all the "Scholia as Saviors" Greek society had to deal with that embarrassing fact.


  3. To me, it is significant that in some versions of the myth Asclepius was thunderbolt-stricken specifically for reviving other clients of Zeus' lightning (e.g. Capaneus). There is much confusion in Greek mythology about the effects of thunderbolt. On one hand, some think it could kill even those who are born immortal (Menoetius, Typhon). On the other hand, at least one mortal, Anchises, survives a thunderbolt without divine help. Indeed, he, like the river Asopus, remains lame.
    So my guess is that the people "revived" by Asclepius were actually in clinical death, and he just resuscitated them. Later, the same thing happened to him.

  4. BTW, I think that the apotheosis of Asclepius makes a poor combination with Apollo's murder of the Cyclopes. If Asclepius was resurrected before the killing, then it turns out that Apollo rebelled against his father and risked everything just because his son had a bad day. And if Asclepius was resurrected after the killing of the Cyclopes, then it turns out that Zeus actually rewarded Apollo for his rebellion.

  5. Maya,

    The death of the cyclops really pushes the whole question. Can you kill an immortal? Can you send someone to the underworld, who already works in the underworld? The Hesiodic reference to Menoetius is pretty short and terse. Wasn't Typhon buried under Etna? The illusion of death is even more strongly proven in Norse mythology. No one dies they just get a "direct reassignment" to another world. Balder is slain, and Odin sends someone to the underworld to fetch him home. Mimir is beheaded, but Odin rides down the rainbow every day and visits him. When the aesir finally have enough with Loki, they don't kill him, they do the Prometheus punishment to him, because to kill him in this world sets him free some other world. That's why in Hesiod the Titans are "bound" in Tartarus. No mortal dies in Greek myth; their souls go to Hades, their immortal parts go to some version of the Isle of the Blest or Olympus. No one actually dies, it is just an illusion poorly maintained by the gods in order to insure their rule.


  6. I, on the contrary, have the feeling that in both Messopotamian and Indo-European mythologies even gods were subject to death. In Messopotamia, a god was killed by other gods to be used as material for human creation. So those gods seem to be what I call "conditionally immortal", i.e. no spontaneous aging and death but susceptible to accidental death, like most microorganisms. Norse gods are even worse. Without the golden apples of Idun, they would spontaneously age and die, quite like humans.
    There was a promise by Hel the queen of Hell to let Baldr back to the world of the living. However, even first-time readers know that something will thwart the revival efforts and Baldr will remain dead, like Eurydice. He can be revived only after the world as we know it is destroyed, and laws of nature are presumably no longer valid.
    I think the reason why the Aesir did not kill Loki was that he was the god of fire. Killing him could extinguish all fire in the world or, on the contrary, make it uncontrollable. Therefore, killing Loki required at least as much courage from the Aesir as tough sanctions against Putin require from Europeans (esp. as winter is approaching). I find it funny that there have been plenty of people condemning Prometheus, but nobody ever intended to renounce the use of fire.

  7. In my story, even true immortals can be killed, but this is difficult and practically requires destruction of the victim's body. After defeating Typhon, Zeus kills him by throwing him into the crater of Aetna. However, many do not believe he has died, and the local population explains every earthquake as caused by convulsions of Typhon down beneath the volcano. Zeus rants that the impossibility to prove Typhon's death makes the killing not worth the trouble, and pledges never to kill another immortal.
    The Cyclopes, however, are not true immortals. In their genomes, the genes with protective and self-perpetuating effects do not suffice to confer immortality, unless upregulated by ambrosia. In fact, it is exactly the aging of the Cyclopes that triggers the search for ambrosia.
    Hades of course is not really a Lord of the Dead (this is just an invention of Prometheus for his human audience) and has nothing against Asclepius. Zeus alone decides to kill the healer to prevent undue development of medicine. After Asclepius is stricken by a thunderbolt, Apollo performs CPR, then carries his son to Olympus and accuses Zeus in all mortal sins. Zeus relents, accepts Asclepius among Olympians and gives him ambrosia. There is just a teensy-weensy problem: Asclepius remains permanently disabled, which in his dad's worldview is worse than death. So Apollo plans a revenge: first sneaks into the kitchen and replaces ambrosia with an ineffectual substance, then waits till residual ambrosia is cleared from the bodies of Olympian tenants and finally shoots the Cyclopes.
    I do not like very much this way to bring a happy end, but it is the only one allowed by myths - and we must admit that a Zeus cannot be controlled by the methods of Gandhi.

  8. Maya,

    Zeus cant be controlled by the techniques of Gandhi? Demeter would disagree. All Helios has to do is threaten to shine. Thetis could turn his will as easily as touching his chin. Allthe other gods could not stop her from releasing him.

    As to the Aesir, you are right they are barely fivine without the apples and dwarf built weapons.


  9. The method of Gandhi was to go on a hunger strike. Demeter puts everybody on a "hunger strike". That is different :-).
    After the flood, my new generation of humans are left for some time to live as hunter-gatherers. However, the nymphs working on the fields of Demeter protest that they are forced to do hard work while humans are left idle. Humans are then recruited to work on the fields but not allowed to close the agricultural cycle. Demeter takes all seeds and gives the workers flour and other foodstuff that cannot be sown.
    After the rape of Kore, Demeter blackmails Zeus by sabotaging the crop production. Of course in my story she has no supernatural control over plant growth, so she uses the method of Ino and treats the seeds by heat. Zeus resists for too long, as usual. When he finally gives in, many humans have already died of starvation, including Demophoon and all children from his birth cohort.
    Demeter finally starts to pity humans and, some 20 years after these events, decides to break the divine monopoly on cultured plants and give Triptolemus seeds + the mission to teach mankind agriculture.

  10. Discussing episodes with you helps me to put them in order. Before this comment thread, I had put the Plutus story after that of Asclepius; now I see that the correct place is before it.
    Aristophanes' comedy Plutus never mentions Plutus' mother. One could wonder how Demeter, who invited Sahara when her daughter was given in marriage, so easily allowed her son to be blinded. I think, however, that this fits well into the picture. As we have agreed before, Demeter hardly qualifies for Mom of the Age. She is an obsessive and abusive parent who wants her children never to leave her and never to grow up truly. My Eros, Hebe and Plutus share a genetic disorder that arrests growth and development in puberty, but is treatable. Eros refuses treatment, Hebe wants and receives it, and Plutus wants it but his mother does not allow it (and when the boy comes of age, it is too late).
    Plutus settles among humans to teach them economics, defies the order of Zeus to return to Olympus and has to be dragged there by force. Demeter begs for her son's life (Plutus is ambrosia-dependent, not truly immortal). Then Zeus offers to "only" blind him and she accepts it as a compromise. Deep inside, she is even glad that Plutus will be helpless without his sight, stay with her and be her little boy again.
    So, when Asclepius remains paralyzed, Zeus is not troubled much and thinks that Apollo will get over his son's injury, as Demeter has. But Apollo has a different mindset and does not get over.

    1. Maya,

      In Hellenistic myth Eros (Cupid) weds Psyche (Soul) which has some big romantic esoteric meaning. In older myth Eros is a primordial god.

      Let's talk about Hebe. In Greek myth Hebe passes up cups of nectar. In Norse myth Iduna passed out apples. (Hmm, in the tarot cups and apples share the same significance.) In Norse myth the Aesir and Vanir exchanged hostages. In some societies, such hostages are brides. could Hebe be such a hostage? Heracles could have accomplished a lot of damage if he hadn't be treated nicely welcomed into the family and even adopted by Hera.

      I wonder about Ares and Aphrodite's daughter Harmonia. Zues weds Cadmus' sister Europa and produces three long . lived demi-gods. After helping Zeus slay Typhon, Cadmus weds Zeus grandaughter and they produce two divine daughters and two divine grandsons. Were these cross-marriages an attempt to keep peace between the Theban and Olympian deities?


    2. The Theban deities were actually offspring from the Cadmus-Harmonia marriage and became the cause for divine vendetta against Cadmus and his descendants. So I think that the potential of the house of Cadmus in combination with Theban land to breed deities must have been discovered only after Harmonia was given to Cadmus. Maybe there was some plan of Zeus that went wrong. There must have been much alarm on Olympus, then peace was kept by allowing Dionysus into the Olympian family. I wonder whether the idea to kill Pentheus and destroy Thebes was his own, or inspired by Zeus. Dionysus does not integrate well. I don't know any story of him having a divine friend. In Homer, he seems to be a minor deity who does not dwell on Olympus or even visit it.
      I have wondered about the apotheosis of Heracles. Have you any explanation for it? The usual story is that the oracle told him he would be immortalized after completing the Labors. However, this prophesy seems to reflect just temporal relationship, not causal. Gods have no gain from most Labors (actually, Artemis loses at one point), and Hera is allowed to interfere with them. We have a precedent of Zeus' son completing a Labor and then left to die (Perseus). Moreover, Heracles is not immortalized immediately after completing the Labors, and not even after the Gigantomachy. He is left to get in more and more trouble, until the low point at the funeral stake. Why is he rescued from there? Why doesn't Zeus let him burn?
      I agree with you that, once allowed to Olympus, Heracles is given Hebe as appeasement. Which, again, makes me wonder why Zeus allowed him there in the first place. Possibly humans were becoming so great a danger that the gates needed a stronger guardian :-) ?
      I've recently read this:
      The author thinks that the wounding of Hades by Heracles mentioned in the Iliad reflects an older version of Heracles' immortality, where he was not apotheosed but immortalized himself by defeating Hades in single combat.

    3. Maya.
      As to the divinty of the Heracles, the whole issue gets confused by the seven different characters by that name and the absorption of all the he-man local heroes (and gods) into the myth of the Heracles we know. Let’s not let all these details confuse the single all telling fact; Heracles defeated Death! Did you see “Bob and Ted’s Bogus Adventure”? If you defeat death you are a god!
      Let’s start at the beginning. Zeus spent three days “building” the ultimate weapon against the Giants. Heracles mother is the dauther of Anax, the daughter of Princess Hipponome of Thebes. Hipponome is the sister of Creon & Jocasta and wife to Heracles’ earthly paternal grandfather Alcaeus. The child was name after his grandfather Alcaeus and often call Alcides. I think you are right about the name change, indicates his absorption into the Olympian family. So he has a little Theban ichor flowing in his viens and is built of a triple dose of Zeus. I don’t know how the math works out, but that makes Heracles more than a demi-god. So whatever mortal fraction remains in the Heracles, it was made divine by the last three labors. Geryon Cattle; Geryon lived at the far end of the known world on the shores of the great river ocean where the line between this world and the next get vague. There is lots of argument that the cattle of Geryon are the same as the cattle of Hades. (Both Kings had shepherds of similar names and multi-headed dogs.) This would be the event the Iliad mentions where Hades got shot with one of Heracle’s arrows. Heracles defeated Death! In great mythology it is a “once and for always” thing. You can’t die after that.The Apples of the Hesperides; These were the apples that the Fates gate Typhon, the apples that Idun gave the Aesir, the witch to Snow White and that Eve gave to Adam. They are extremely powerful, one way or the other. Heracles acquired them but didn’t take a bite. Defeating Cereberus; Heracles went to Hades and back again. Most gods can’t even go to Hades and back.

      As to the loner status of Dionysus; I agree with you. He wasn’t well incorporated into the Olympian family. He returned Hephaestus to Olympus That’s the only story I know. I have been studying divine apobatic moments lately, the moment when a god steps from the chariot and in one relief sculpture, Themis drops off Dionysus at the Gigantomachy. Oh by the way, Dionysus rescued and wed Adriane, grand-daughter of Europa, sister of Cadmus. Their mome was Telephassa. I think there is something special about her, but I’ haven’t pegged it down.

    4. Incidentally, my main activity today was picking apples (now we are having about a ton of them at home, wondering what to do with them).
      I've read an essay about the parallel between magic apples in gardens guarded by goddesses: Idun's, Eden's (Eden sounds familiar to Idun, but the goddess is suppressed) and the Hesperides'. Unfortunately, I cannot find it now. BTW, in the Genesis the Trees and their fruits are not identified, are they? It seems someone transplanted the apple from the Indo-European to the Semitic myth.
      I wonder about several things:
      - Why did Sisyphus die at the end, after defeating Thanatos and outwitting Hades?
      - Why couldn't Atlas, who had access to the garden, use the apples to save his children? Or just mythological inconsistency? (Atlas talking with Heracles and walking around after having been petrified by Perseus is possibly the best known such inconsistency.)
      - What would have happened if Heracles had eaten an apple?
      - Heracles defeated Hades but never defeated Geras. Did Hebe save him from the fate of Tithonus?
      - After Heracles was poisoned, what saved him from the fate of Chiron? Or Chiron could also be saved but Zeus preferred to let him go? (It seems that there was a campaign of genocide against centaurs, designed to look as a series of random killings and accidents.)

    5. Maya M,
      You provided a lot of questions to think about this afternoon.
      “Why did Sisyphus die at the end, after defeating Thanatos and outwitting Hades?”
      • First, in Greek Mythology no one really dies. They just get a directed re-assignment to another realm; Hades, Isle of the Blest, Olympus or Tartarus. Sisyphus ends up in Tartarus where the immortal Titans dwelled for a while.
      • There is is another explanation of this, I read this in a paper somewhere once, but I can’t recall the paper’s name. You know how fallen or forgotten gods because heroes and popular heroes and heroines become gods and goddesses? The paper with the forgotten title suggestes that Sisyphus was once a Titan, hence is ability to defeat death and the reason he resides with the rest of the Titans.
      “Why couldn't Atlas… use the apples?”
      • There are so many mysteries and inconsistences in the stories of Atlas, that we will only get headaches trying to figure that all out.
      “What would have happened if Heracles had eaten an apple?”
      • “There the Moirai (Fates) deceived the pursued creature, for he ate some of the ephemeral fruit on Nysa” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 39 – 44) Aaron J. Atsma argues this is a reference to grapes, but I don’t recall elsewhere grapes being called an “ephemeral fruit”. Regardless to “eat” mortal food is to be mortal. Hence Hermes could not eat the flesh of the cattle he stole from Apollo, accidently revealing his godhood.
      “Heracles defeated Hades but never defeated Geras. Did Hebe save him from the fate of Tithonus?”
      • Hebe didn’t have too save her hubby from Geras. He was a god, by birthright (much greater than 50% divne) and acclaim. No one ever said Tithonus was a god or even attained heroic honors.
      “After Heracles was poisoned, what saved him from the fate of Chiron? …(It seems that there was a campaign of genocide against centaurs,”
      • Let’s start with your theory about a plot against the centaurs. You know if you consider the centaurs just another tribe among the many early tribal people (Graves said a mountain tribe) they suffered a surprising number of death via Heracles arrows. Another big slayer of our four-footed cousins was Theseus the wanna-be and famous imitator of Heracles. I will have to think more on that. Oddly, Heracles was one of the few heroes not raised by Chiron. Hmm. You know H&T were monster slayers. Their job was to slay monsters, tame the wilderness, chase away chaos and creepy things in the woods in order that you and I might create the “polis” . Maybe the centaurs are monsters.
      • As to why Heracles didn’t suffer the same fate as Chiron when the Hydra’s venom poinsoned his flesh… well this is tacky, but Chiron was a wimp! Admittedly both ditched their mortal bodies in favor of a more “heavenly” one. Heracles didn’t have much choice since he’d ripped off large portions of his skin in attempting to remove the vest. Chiron on the other hand got shot, but come on so did Hades and Hera. Hera whined about it when playing the pity card (unsuccessfully) and stotic Hades never would have mentioned it.

    6. I like the idea that Sisyphus is a faded Titan. He is married to a Pleiad; all other Pleiades have Olympian partners. His role in the story of Aegina is strictly analogous to the role of Helios in the story of Persephone.

      I think that the wounding of Chiron and Heracles by the latter's poisoned arrows and the wounding of Hera and Hades by Heracles' arrows do not exist in the same mythological plane.
      Homer does not mention the Hydra, how Heracles died (except that Hera was at the bottom, if I remember well), or how Chiron died. Hera was wounded by a "barbed" arrow. If the destructive potential of the arrow was due to its poison, I think it would be likely mentioned; and even if it is not (presumed that everybody knows it), there is no logic to stress on the shape of the arrow, which would be in this case unimportant.
      Those sources that mention Chiron's death attribute it to a poisoned Heracles' arrow which either directly killed him or made him suffer so much that he chose death himself. (I'd say you are too harsh on poor Chiron. Would you say also that Heracles was a wimp, the guy who finished the Nemean Lion and subdued Cerberus by bare hands? And what was the reaction of the same Heracles when affected by the Hydra's venom, "documented" by Sophocles?)
      I think you are right that Centaurs, all Centaurs, were considered monsters, and monsters were scheduled to be exterminated by heroes. The two Centaurs for which it was impossible to invent any credible justification to be killed - Pholus and Chiron, were finished off by Heracles, a hero known for "accidentally" causing someone's death about once per month. Poor luck? You mentioned once that you don't believe Dionysus passed by Ariadne just by chance. I'd propose "Bill's Law": In myth, there is no such thing as coincidence.

    7. The sources that discuss the poisoned arrows are later than Homer and portray a more obedient Heracles. He may snatch a tripod or threaten Helios, but he won't shoot at Hera or Hades, Zeus forbid! He carries Cerberus away with Hades' permission, and is given immortality by Zeus.

      Aeschylus seems to share the opinion that Chiron's death is a result of Olympian plan, and adds an additional layer of scheming. At the end of the Prometheus Bound, angry Zeus pledges that he will release Prometheus "only when another immortal offers himself to die". I agree with those who see here a metaphor for "never", similar to our expressions "when pattens produce blossoms", "in the cuckoo's summer" (i.e. when the cuckoo sings at summertime) and "at willow's Friday" (i.e. when Palm Sunday happens to be on Friday).
      In this moment, Zeus is anxious to prove that he is resistant to blackmail and, no matter how many rapes he has in his record, he can control it and can stop any time he wants.
      However, things look different several centuries later. It isn't easier for Zeus to stop raping than for the average smoker to quit smoking. Time and again, he thinks that a little rape now won't make much difference... and then gets nervous when gods hear about the pregnancy and start making bets. So he desperately needs an immortal wishing to die.
      Now, imagine the scene in Scythia.
      Prometheus: Thank you very much for shooting that damn pet of your father's.
      Heracles: Will you now tell the name of that damn woman, so that Daddy feels secure and you be free?
      Prometheus: Unfortunately, I cannot be free unless some immortal agrees to die, which is of course an event with p<0.0001.
      Heracles: Damn!... Oh wait! I think I happen to know such an immortal. The centaur Chiron, and it was me who made him wish to die. My damn fate, always accidentally breaking the heads of my teachers or shooting friends or something of this sort... but at least good for you and my dad.

      Doesn't it look a bit staged?

    8. Maya M,

      Thanks for; "Bill's Law": In myth, there is no such thing as coincidence. However, I think it is just a variation on Maya M's "Scholia as Savior".


    9. I didn't hope to find an ancient source supporting my hypothesis that the "accidental" killing of Pholus and wounding of Chiron was a result of divine plot, but here it is, in Diodorus Siculus:
      "Pholus the Centaur, from whom the neighbouring mountain came to be called Pholoê, and receiving Heracles with the courtesies due to a guest he opened for him a jar of wine which had been buried in the earth. This jar, the writers of myths relate, had of old been left with a certain Centaur by Dionysus, who had given him orders only to open it when Heracles should come to that place. And so, four generation after that time, when Heracles was being entertained as a guest, Pholus recalled the orders of Dionysus..."
      He fulfilled the orders, and the gates of Hell opened.

    10. Wow! What a great find. So Heracles and Dionysus are both Thebans and Olympians. Who has it out for the centaurs? Olympus or Thebes?


    11. My guess: Olympus.
      Olympians instigate all wars and genocides in Greek mythology. They start the Titanomachy, exterminate whole-sale two generations of humans (the Silver & Bronze ones), send and support heroes to slay "monsters" and, after the job is done, decimate the Heroic generation by organizing the wars at Thebes and Troy. The only major conflict allegedly started by the other side is the Gigantomachy. On the other side, Zeus has time to find and destroy the immunity-conferring herb, to torture Hera for attacking Heracles at the wrong time and to summon Heracles from Cos. It is usually the attacking party who has time and opportunity for such preparations.
      Dionysus targets folks who have been mean to his mother and/or do not pay due respect to him as a god (e.g. try a Prohibition). We have no data of any centaur being guilty of either. Heracles is the physical perpetrator, but he is remarkable for his lack of initiative. He must always be asked, forced or manipulated to do anything, good or bad. In this case, as in many others, he seems to have been a puppet of Zeus.
      Incidentally, Ovid describes Chiron's daughter foretelling that her father will be wounded by a poisoned arrow, will long for death and will die; but as she is about to give more details, she is transformed by Zeus into a mare, losing the gift of speech.

    12. Maya,
      If liking this theory Ineed to figure out when and where centsurs disappeared from the mythic time-line.


    13. I had the same thought. Let's see when Centaurs appear in myths:
      - Some Centaur Eurytion, in a drunken state, outrages either Pirithous or Heracles, depending on the source, and is injured or killed.
      - The wedding of Hippodamia and the battle of Lapiths with the Centaurs. Homer (Iliad 1:268) says that the Centaurs were "destroyed" in the battle.
      - The curious incident with Pholus' wine leading to the battle of Heracles and the Centaurs. says that these Centaurs and the Lapiths' adversaries were different tribes, residing resp. in Peloponnese and on Mount Pelion. Diodorus Siculus, to explain why a second extermination war was needed, even makes the Centaurs victorious against the Lapiths.
      - Chiron saves Peleus from other Centaurs preparing to kill him and gives him back his sword. This, however, could be earlier than the battle of Heracles.
      - Nessus carries Deianeira and is killed by Heracles.
      - Chiron, after bringing up many heroes and hosting Peleus' wedding, dies as a result of Heracles' poisoned arrow. However, his death comes many years after the injury (his last student Achilles is not even born by the time of the injury).
      The death of the only immortal Centaur make us speculate that all his mortal fellow tribesmen may have already gone. And this is close to the "end of time" of mythology. As far as I know, no one hero returning from the Trojan War has encountered a Centaur. Not even Odysseus, who claims to have had business with all other fabulous creatures.

    14. Are there any other mortal monstrous races that needed to be exterminated?

      Maya on another topic; Hour 25 is calling for papers from member for a mid -November symposium. Can you recommend which of my blogs would be the most interesting paper?

      On an additional topic, how about I formalize some our discusdions into blogs with writing credits for both.

    15. I had a look of the "Legendary Tribes" page at and found a tribe of six-armed giants called Gegenes (Earth-born) that were killed off by the Argonauts, according to Apollonius:
      The "standard" giants also fit: they were mortal (or conditionally mortal), they were killed off (except Periboia who became Founding Mother of the Phaeacians) and, while initially they were not particularly monstrous, they became snake-legged in later art.
      The Amazons were morphologically normal but had "monstrous" behavior. Most major heroes waged ruthless wars against them. Did any survivors remain after the demise of Pentesilea?

      What will be the subject of the Novermber symposium? Or, if defined in a broader range, what is this range?
      Of course you are free to use our discussions.

    16. Maya,

      The other "tribe" I thought of was Cyclops. Cronus stuffed them back into Tartarus. Apollo sent them to Hades. (Of course, they already worked underneath a volcano some where, so I don't know that that means anything.) Odysseus did his part to reduce the "monstrous" species, followed by every founding member of a European dynasty mentioned in the medieval romances.

      No specifics on the symposium yet.

      I will start working on our (Maya's and Bill's) joint papers, in a couple of weeks.

    17. What about taking as a nucleus your post about proper pray:
      and supplementing it with related material from other posts, e.g. about Chryses and Dolon botching it, and Mary & Marthe with their strikingly similar address to Jesus?

    18. Poor Cyclopes. As my narrator says, "Nobody loved them except their mother".
      I think there is crucial difference between being subterranean and being dead in Hades. Of course, Dionysus brought his mom from Hades (if we believe this story), maybe Zeus also brought back to life his servants. However, nobody reports the latter. I wonder why Lucian didn't use this opportunity to ridicule Zeus the Thunderer and mentions only his own tomb in Crete.
      In the "census" of Cyclopes, what puzzles me are the fellow tribesmen of Polyphemus, the ones who survive to be hunted by legendary European kings :-). Where did they come from? We know that the three original Cyclopes were sons of Gaea & Uranus, and Polyphemus was son of Poseidon and Toosa. But who produced the others and discarded them on that island, as in an institution for disabled?
      Pay attention that Cyclopes seem to be all male. Maybe a sex-linked disorder. Generally, the "monstrous" tribes tend to be sex-skewed.

    19. I am tempted to translate a short dialog from my story explaining the genesis of centaurs:
      Prometheus (to Oceanus): Do you know who has created the "golden" humans?
      Oceanus: Your father, with help from Hyperion and Coeius.
      P: And why?
      O: What a question! To work instead of us, of course. Why else anybody would trouble to create beings in our image from clay? Centaurs were a failure, but I think humans with a little more work would have become a success, if the war had not got in the way.
      P: Were the centaurs created with the same purpose?
      O: Yes, they were intended to be clever workhorses not needing anyone to direct them. However, most of them turned out wild and uncontrollable. And the few who are not, are in the other extreme, too civilized. Do you know any of them?
      P: Only Chiron from Mount Pelion.
      O: So you know what wise and noble being he is. You cannot yoke him to plough, can you? So we left all centaurs free and decided to use as workforce ordinary horses and oxen plus humans.

      (Of course no human generation has been created from clay, but ignorant gods keep confusing carbon with silicon. The older Titans have some responsibility and engineer creatures as males-only with the intention to add females only in case of success. Zeus brings the GMO folly one level up and orders his team of mad scientists to create the humans from the beginning in male-female founder couples. I didn't want like Hesiod in the Theogony to make Pandora the first human female.)

    20. maya,

      I really shouldn't encourage you ... but if you are going to have the Titans "create" centaurs, the lead mad scientist has to be Cronus. Graves has their theory that the first generation Titans represent the cardinal directions; Hyperion east, Iapetus north, Cronus center, Oceanus all around... The second (and some of the first generations) are represented by their totems. Cronus is the Horse; hence his son Posiedon's ability to sire horses. And as to the creation of human, what sort of rocks did Delphi tell Prometheus son to throw over his shoulder after the flood. I sometimes get the impression that the heroic/iron generation would have failed too without the divine intermixing.

    21. Divine genes presumably had an impact on human appearance and abilities. However, I think you are quick to judge that the Bronze Age generation would be non-viable without them. Remember what efforts it takes to exterminate this generation: first Pandora's jar, then the flood.
      The stones are of course meaningless in my interpretation, I doubt how meaningful they are in the original myth. They seem pure distraction: cover your heads and throw objects noisily in order not to see or hear what exactly happens behind your backs. Much like the counting of a patient after anaesthesia is applied. also allocates the old Titans to world directions, but Iapetus is the West.
      As for my centaurs... it would be best to leave them out, but Chiron has an important role in the plot. He is associated with Cronus, like the "Golden Age" humans. The rest of centaurs of course also go there. I cannot afford to have Cronus metamorphosed into horse and then transmitting horse traits to his son, or Ixion enjoying an intercourse with some humanoid cloud. Science fiction has its rules: no tales of this sort, everybody is in this world as a result of evolution or engineering.
      Cronus and Zeus are rulers, so they cannot be scientists. I don't think one person can be successful in both activities, and anyway nothing in myth suggests that either ruler has technical knowledge. They just tell their subordinates, the real scientists, to create this or that and fund the project. Creation of a centaur or a human, of course, is a magnificent task which must be government-sponsored. You cannot do it like Frankenstein, secretly in a basement. (Though I am much indebted to Frankenstein, of course.)
      For the creation of centaurs and golden humans, I picked those Titans who look more intellectual. For the creation of later humans, the myth fixes the mad scientists: Prometheus, Athena & Hephaestus.

    22. I thought a little more about Hebe.
      She not only becomes Heracles' consort, she has a wedding party, mentioned by two or three sources and depicted in artworks.
      There are, to my knowledge, only three divinities for whom a marriage feast is described. All three are females married to fulfill not their will but the will of Zeus. And all three are given to males of mortal origin.
      The first one is Harmonia. I have tried hard to find out what happened to her. It seems that she and her husband went to the Isles of the Blessed, together with the others of their generation. Hence, her 100% Olympian descent and her Olympian citizenship by birth were made void. Moreover, many sources say that she was turned into a snake.
      The second divine bride is of course Thetis.
      So Hebe in being made Heracles' wife was most likely considered a mere tool to achieve a purpose of Zeus, like the two brides before her. She was lucky, however. We do not hear of any disaster resulting from her marriage.
      (To be precise, the Prometheus Bound mentions the protagonists's wedding. But this is a single source, and he is a Titan. Titans have better family values. My Zeus argues with Hera that the very institution of marriage is an outdated relic from the Titans' rule.)

    23. I have just found something corroborating our discussion about the Centaurs - by J.N. Bremmer in Laura Feldt (Ed.), Wilderness in Mythology and Religion:

      "...The connections of the Centaurs with the Satyrs were stressed to an increasing extent from the sixth century onwards. However, the satyrs survived, so to speak, in mythology, because one could perhaps meet them in Dionysiac worship, and of course one could see them in the theatre.
      As a result of Heracles' fight against the Centaurs, so Apollodorus notes in his somewhat garbled version, they fled in all directions... We witness here a theme that has not received any attention in recent discussions. Yet, Homer already states that Peirithoos, the king of the Lapiths, chased his enemies away from Mount Pelion... Other narratives relate a more sombre picture. Already around 470 BC, Pindar (3.1 - 3) wishes that Cheiron... the 'wild beast', was still alive. Pholos had died immediately after having inadvertently dropped one of Heracles' poisoned arrows on his foot in the aftermath of the latter's fight against the Centaurs, and Nessos was killed by Heracles. As Euripides simply states, 'the mountain-dwelling tribe of fierce Centaurs he laid low, killing them with his winged shafts'.
      It is clear from these notices that already from the early Archaic Age onwards the Centaurs were continually marginalised. First, they were..."

      (A lacuna follows due to damage of 2 pages of text or, more precisely, to the Google Books' protective measures against folks like me who want to read everything without payment.)

      "...Centaurs were no longer perceived as more or less human opponents but more and more as monsters that had to be eradicated, even the more civilised ones. The annihilation of the Centaurs shows that, in the rationalising fifth century BC, the ideas of the Greeks about their mountains had considerably changed. They may have remained dangerous territory, but the mountains were no longer inhabited by creatures symbolising their 'wild' nature."

      (BTW, under your influence I added to my manuscript explicitly that the creation of the "golden" generation of humans plus the centaurs was ordered by Cronus.)

  11. Thetis could make Zeus fulfill her wish just because the wish was acceptable. If she had begged for her son's immortality, Zeus would have just said no. (As my Prometheus tells her in an attempt to dissuade her from the ambrosia-and-fire procedure, the mere fact that Zeus allows it proves that it cannot immortalize anybody.)
    Zeus accepts a temporary reversal and postponement of his plan which makes the fate of Trojans even more tragic because it gives them false hopes. Quite like Thebes after the attack of the Seven - it was given false hopes and 10 additional years of existence. Did some goddess beg Zeus for this? Possibly the Erinyes, summoned by Oedipus' curse against Polyneuces? I wish some artist to draw them touching Zeus' chin in supplication. It would be an interesting painting, though not so cute as that of Thetis.

    1. Maya,

      I disagree. Zeus' silent nod suggests that this is something he didn't want to do. (For whatever reason.) Achilles was suppose to be more powerful than Zeus, Zeus has to acknowledge that he owes Achilles (and the Fates) something, But, even then, it's not that straight forward. The counsels of Themis and Athena have something to do with the will of Zeus too. Should be an interesting discussion this topic this week at hour 25.

    2. Yes, he is reluctant. I think he is sincere when saying that he fears the inevitable quarrel with Hera. Zeus hates quarrels. Remember that, when he decides to marry Persephone off to Hades, he tries to keep it secret from her mother. His fear of Demeter's reaction is so strong that drives him to irrationality - because it is clear that the secret cannot last for long. The ruler of the Cosmos behaves like a guilty child desperately trying to postpone punishment.
      I suppose that the "prophesy" that Achilles would live long in peace is another part of what Zeus owes him and Thetis. I.e. it is not a true prophesy but a reluctant promise by Zeus that, if Achilles stays quiet, he will be allowed to live the natural length of his life.

  12. Telephassa is said to mean "far-shining". The same lady is also called Argiope, "silver-faced" or "silver-eyed". Looks like the Moon. It is strange to me that the Greeks paired the "official" Moon-goddess Selene with Endymion, a patient in PVS, and made Artemis (another possible Moon-goddess) virgin, and at the same time assigned very important descendants to minor lunar quasi-deities such as Io and Telephassa.
    Some sources say Telephassa was a mere mortal, but I like more those who make her daughter of Nile. It seems to me that all mythological figures who are even remotely interesting either descend from water deities or marry them (like Hephaestus) or both.
    You can see the family tree here:
    Libya, granddaughter of Zeus and Io, has two sons, Agenor and Belus. Both have a dangerous dose of divine genes, both marry daughters of Nile, both live in far-away countries but their children are lured back to Greece. Both families are decimated by the will of Zeus. We all know about the royal house of Thebes and Sarpedon's death at Troy. At the same time, the fate of the sons of Aegyptus is rarely discussed. Whose plan were their deaths? Of Danaus and his daughers, or of Zeus himself? It seems that 50 male and 50 female descendants of Zeus were too many, and a drastic reduction was needed.

  13. Maya M,

    I like your interpretation of Telephassa. As to the moon goddess epithet, Robert Graves was fond of tagging every other heroine with that title and claiming that most of Artemis epithets were the names of the goddesses her cult absorbed.

    As to Aegyptus, that seems to be a place where wondrous, mysterious things happened and exotic people like pygmies populated the landscape. Aegyptus like Mt Atlas can really give you a head ache trying to uncoil the pretzels there.


  14. Maya,

    Once again you bring up lots to look at. I like your note on the sex-skew of the monstrous races. As to Polyphemus and his neighbors; didn't Odysseus just make that all up to explain the disappearance of his crew and to entertain his hosts at dinner parties?

    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll work up
    and supplementing it with related material from other posts, e.g. about Chryses and Dolon botching it,

  15. You are right that we cannot be sure in anything Odysseus says. For him, lying is a basic life function. He is the type of person who can deceive a polygraph.
    This said, it is a fact that Poseidon is angry at him.

  16. It seems that Odysseus' comrades didn't like him much but knew he was necessary to bring about the happy (for them) end at Troy.
    I read somewhere that in another version of the Achilles' story, his menis was directed not against Agamemnon but against Odysseus, because Achilles wanted the war to be won by strength and courage only, not by cunning.
    Other stories also need a nasty person to bring about a happy end. E.g. my Apollo, or Tolkien's Sméagol, or Loki. Indeed, Loki brought about a lot of happy ends for the Aesir, but we know that a bill for these happy ends is to come, interest included.
    The problem with these characters is that, with the exception of Sméagol, they haven't the decency to disappear after bringing the happy end.
    Actually, Odysseus was quite OK on Calypso's island. Of course, he was held against his will and always longing for Penelope... though my gut feeling is that, if a male engages in sexual acts, he cannot be wholly unwilling.
    Then, Athena stirs the pot. She has a vital role in the Heroic Age Collapse, though nobody reveals her motivation; and now she apparently remembers that Ithaca has too many living men and it is high time to bring Odysseus home to correct this.

  17. Maya,
    I just mentioned to my wife, just now, that Athena stirred the Odyssean pot when she did because Telemachus was coming of age.

    That came up because we went to see, "Maze Runner" Dont repeat our mistake. Any movie with a "To be continued" ending, sucks by definition

  18. Maya,

    To your list of divine wedding ceremonies I think you can add Dionysus and his mortal wife (and cousin) Adriane. (Hope I spelled that right.) Dionysus pretty much stormed Olympus with dead mother and mortal wife in tow. I don't think that was the will of Zeus. But, I must agree that Hebe and Harmonia's weddings were a hostage exchange and nothing more.

    As to reading the Odyssey, I agree Odysseus is dispicable. But, along with all the bad in the world there is a lot of good. Nausicca and her mother Arete are incredible people. Ino is a wonderful (Theban) goddess. You should not let Laertes' son deprive them from your acquaintance.

    Yes, Hector's death was Achilles' destiny, no one else could have slain him. Patroclus could not have stolen his buddy's glory even if he wanted to. Oh, Patroclus was one of three comrades of Achilles who accidently slew a relative. Peleus had quite the army of renegades that he sent with Achilles.

  19. I think you are quite right that Dionysus bringing his zombie mom and mortal bride to Olympus was hardly the will of Zeus. I have long wondered what exactly about Dionysus is the will of Zeus. You know that some source said that the first incarnation of Dionysus (Zagreus) was scheduled by Zeus to be his heir - and my opinion is that resignation is very, very unlike Zeus. However, maybe this child was "meant by destiny" to be Zeus' heir.
    You once pointed out that Hera's "jealousy" is actually just fear that someone else's son could displace her invaluable Ares - she does no harm to mothers of girls, and not even to those of boys after the boy is born. I tried to sort out the mother-son pairs persecuted by Hera. I excluded Aegina & Aeacus, because they were targeted according to only one source, and not the most reliable in the world (Hyginus). Lamia is obscure; and besides, here the children were killed and we have no idea what they would have become. So, who remains?
    1) Leto & Apollo;
    2) Io (& Epaphus?);
    3) Semele & Dionysus;
    4) Alcmene & Heracles.
    Because Io was successfully chased away, Epaphus was born at a safe distance, far from the site that could potentially empower him. What is the common denominator for the other three? They all were or became immortal, even though two were born by mortal mothers, and they all seem to have been a grave threat to Zeus' rule.

  20. Hera, I continue to believe, is a red herring. When she is dragged into myth, expect some distraction. It is often stated that Heracles is a "favorite son" of Zeus. What we know, however, is that Zeus never tried to protect his son from the murderous attempts of Hera, except in one case, when the giants had their D-day and only Heracles could defeat them. In Euripides, Heracles blames Zeus along with Hera for his misfortune.
    Io is traditionally described as persecuted by Hera. However, sources differ about who turned her into cow - Hera or Zeus himself; this is already a clue to the interchangeability of wife and husband in the "bad jealous Hera" stories. In the Prometheus Bound, everyone blames Zeus more than Hera for the plight of Io, and in the Suppliants, the reason why the Danaids bring trouble to themselves and their hosts is that they fail to grasp the role of Zeus in Io's misfortune.
    Io could also show us what Hera and/or Zeus really wanted by banning "all the land" from allowing Leto give birth. Maybe the idea was to do what was successfully done with Io - to chase her to some remote place not fully qualifying as "land" where her son would be mortal and bring no trouble to Olympus, except possibly by his returning descendants. It seems that after giving birth, Leto was allowed to return to Olympus with her children only after a pledge that she would disarm her son. The hymn to Apollo begins with the "once and always" scene of disarming (however, in some versions, Leto failed to disarm Apollo at least once, and he disarmed his Father by shooting the personnel of his industrial-military complex).
    So we see that, while Zeus and Hera had their quarrels, and she may have tried a coup once or twice, they were generally a perfect husband-and-wife team. Or, if you prefer, a good cop - bad cop team, with Hera as the bad cop.
    Of course the question remains why Zeus conceived all these troublesome sons in the first place. There are some attempts to whitewash him. E.g. Nonnus says that Zeus conceived Dionysus to help the suffering mankind (i.e. the supreme God sent his Son to be mankind's Savior and to show humans the right path by dismembering some of them). Or some say that Zeus selected Alcmene to conceive a son with rare qualities. However, this doesn't fit. Heracles was planned by Zeus to be a king, and he is absolutely unfit for this. His fitness as action hero was a serendipity. I think the proper explanation for these sons' conception is the most simple one, namely, that Zeus was unable to properly control himself and his own procreative power.

  21. Hera, like Zeus, has a talent for forming strange and effective alliances free of squeamishness. Zeus' victory and rule is based on his alliance with six monstrous uncles (the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handers). Hera's victory over Zagreus is based on her alliance with her (six?) uncles, the Titans. This move is a total win. Zeus gets rid of the dangerous toddler, at least for some time, and obtains a wonderful excuse to destroy the Titans.
    Later, Hera sends monsters against Heracles. This is win-win, because Olympians seem to dislike both the monsters and Heracles. Perhaps there was secret hope that Heracles would die in a final embrace with the last monster.


    1. Maya,

      You are right. That whole Zagreus as heir story; ripped apart and eaten by the Titans, is so “out there” totally not mainstream and reeks of a philosopher using mythology to his own end. This a orphic myth right?
      So the four threats to Olympuis you proposed we analysis are ;
      1) Leto & Apollo;
      2) Io (& Epaphus?);
      3) Semele & Dionysus;
      4) Alcmene & Heracles.
      5) you excluded Aegina & Aeacus

      Let’s start by recalling that the Giants would have won, except for that demi-god Heracles. A modern author or two points out that Dionysus is a demi-god and relief sculpture of the Gigantomachy often included Achilles, Bootes, and the Discouri. The bottom line here is that, demi-gods are the most powerful class of beings and since humanity had so interbreed with the gods; we are all a threat.

      The gods knew they needed a hero (or two). Io was the ancestress of Heracles (per Prometheus), Heracles is a threat so Hera persecutes him because she can’t help herself.

      The gods knew they needed a hero or two so Zeus built Heracles with three days in the sack with a Theban princess. Zeus built

      Zagreus/Dionysus, by bagging his own daughter and reinforcing the divine genes, swallowing the fetus and then reinforcing the divine genes by bedding another Theban princess to produce Dionysus. What chance did Seleme have of surviving the birth of that sort of child? I take it as a given that we agree the Theban royal were often gods in their own right.

      I don’t think you can dismiss Aeacus. He was the “holiest” greek however lived. He often dined with the gods and I get the feeling the Fates were using him to design some optional alternative reality.

      As to Hera harassing all these people. Keep in mind that it was the law of the gods that they couldn’t interfere with one aonther’s desires. She is the mother of Typhon; who knows which side she is on, but bottom-line she will do what ever to maintain power.

      Finally Apollo; maybe Zeus needed Delphi and the only way he could yank it away from the Matriarchal goddesses was with Apollo killing their Champion Python? I don’t know what Zeus’ motives are. Clearly Apollo was the greatest threat to the throne.

      What do you think?

    2. Indeed, the gods needed a hero or two for the Gigantomachy. And if they did not know beforehand the precise time of the Gigantomachy, they had to keep at least one suitable hero in every generation. This can explain bringing back the exiles Lyncaeus and Cadmus, as well as the births of Perseus, Theseus, Pirithous and Heracles. However, those same heroes were also a threat, so Zeus apparently didn't feel comfortable. So he tried to reach an optimal compromise by moves in opposite directions, e.g. by saving Lyncaeus while letting his brothers die. Possibly Hera realized the hero-threat very well and was an expert geneticist but kept underestimating the threat from the giants.
      I admit I cannot make any sense of Typhon's story, so I do not try. He is of course the fault of women, that baneful tribe, be it Hera or Grandma Gaea, your choice, doesn't matter :-). But why is Hesiod's Zeus, this archetype of a psychopath, "saddened" while disposing of Typhon's remains? When I read such a thing, I surrender.

    3. About Aeacus: He is indeed a saint in comparison to other Greek mythological figures, e.g. his son Peleus or half-brother Minos (also described as virtuous; we have commented on Peleus, Minos' "virtue" hardly needs commenting). However, Aeacus makes a mess of his family life. He fathers a child from the Nereis Psamathe. Some sources say he raped her; my opinion is that it was consensual - she could retaliate but chose not to. Anyway, Aeacus brought together sons from 2 mothers and did a poor parenting job, effectively setting a stage for fratricide.
      Let's include Aeacus. He is actually a double of Deucalion. Both are important but obscure figures. Both find themselves alone, ask Zeus to give them fellow humans and he grants their wish in a supernatural manner. Both, together with their Semitic counterpart Noah, have a connection with wine (in the name of Deucalion, and in the former name of Aeacus' island - Oenopia). Both are connected with Phthia. We do not know why Zeus spared Deucalion and granted him a wish. (Well, he built an arc, but it could be easily submerged.) Deucalion's prototype Atrahasis was made immortal after surviving the flood. Deucalion could wish immortality but he used his wish to populate the Earth with humans. So his wish for a human population became a commitment to mortality.
      Aeacus' story is a small-scale adaptation of the creation of human race, or of its demise and re-creation, if we take the variant with Hera and the plague. Otherwise, Aeacus' behavior makes no sense. Any human finding himself alone on an island would not ask his divine daddy to give him human company engineered on invertebrates. Instead, he would go to the nearest overpopulated polis and announce, "I am founding a colony! Free land, good climate, no infrastructure yet! Who comes?" Or, if the island's population had been destroyed by a plague, the survivor would just pack, leave and seek a new home elsewhere.
      If Hera sent a plague to punish Aeacus, why did everybody die except him? Possibly he was quasi-immortal at the time and became mortal after his wish - again, to wish mortal company means to commit yourself to mortality. So Aeacus (and possibly Deucalion) was made harmless based on his love of humans. Zeus arranged this, and in Aeacus' case, Hera may have helped him.

    4. As for Apollo: Have you paid attention to the opening monologue of the Eumenides? The play is about power and prerogatives taken away from the (female) Erinyes, and it begins with a tale of the succession of Delphi deities, all females until the last and current one, Apollo. We are told that transitions of power were voluntary. You can believe it if you like :-).
      I think your theory about Delphi is good. And you are right that Apollo is such a threat that any gain from having him hardly justifies the risk. Lucian's Zeus explicitly complains that Apollo receives more worship.
      Apollo, Dionysus and Heracles have in common the nasty tendency to mutilate people in the most barbaric way imaginable (Apollo - Marsyas, Dionysus - Pentheus and Heracles - the Minyan envoys; if I were Creon, I would keep my daughters a mile away from such a hero and express my gratitude in another way). Dionysus and Heracles actually cannot do anything constructive. You need them only when you have someone to be killed or something to be destroyed. They could seize the power from Zeus but they could not serve as supreme gods, except for a short time in an apocalyptic or cyclic religion, to prepare the current world's destruction. So of the three sons hated by Hera, Apollo is the only one who also has some ability for civic life. Nevertheless, it is awkward to have a plague deity elevated to the supreme god's position, and I guess this is why everyone preferred to keep good old Zeus. (I also don't think Achilles would make a good ruler of the Cosmos, or actually of anything. Maybe the reason why Zeus was warned of the succession prophesy was the realization that, while he sucks as a ruler, his son would suck even more.)

    5. Maya, I think I spoke elsewhere of Apollo and the Eumenides. The shock troops of Fate didn't seem too imtimidated byApollo and his little golden bow and arrow. Nordid they seem concerned when Athena mentioned she kept the keys her father's armory. When Zeus wakes up Mt Ida he sends Iris with an order to remove homself from the battlefield. She has to remind him whose side the erinyes will beon should the two brothers come to blows. They were tiugh!

    6. Maya, I like that Aeacus-deucalion connection. I will have to think on that. As to choicing life commending the choser to mortality: how does that apply to "Polydeuces who chose life forCastor, who had cherished in battle" Nemean 10:59 althoughmythographers come up with lame stories about them alternating days in H/H myth shows the Divine Twins in one anothers company all the time. Sometime with their sisterHelen.

    7. Maya, as to keeping heroes handy, the Olympians knew the date of the Gigantomachy. Priam was put on the throne by Heracles and doomed by Achilles. The bulk ofthe demigods lived in a two- generation Age of Heroes. As for sympathy for Typhon, I think he is a good example of the gods mixed feelings. Hera reast feed half the brood of Echidna. They liked her. Cerecurus served Hades, the Sphinx hera, Pegasus carried Zeus' thunderbolts. The monsters represented an a,ternative to the demigods. Did not Zeus weep forthe Death of Sarpedon, which he planned? In theend the demigods and the monsters had to go or the world would be plunged back into chaos. (Some how I got the impression thst several of the goddesses thought Big-T was hot!)

    8. About the Dioscuri: They were patron gods of Sparta, and most of what we have from ancient Greece is from Athens (Sparta's arch-enemy). I fear that this could distort the mythology around these gods in ways we cannot even guess.
      In some versions of the myth, both Castor and Polydeuces are immortal sons of Zeus. For some reason, however, Greeks were fond of twin pairs with mixed (mortal-divine) paternity. So emerged the versions where the Dioscuri have different fathers, and Polydeuces shows great brother's love to Castor (to counter-weight the opposite stories of the sons of Oedipus and Aeacus). Again, the pattern is here: if you love your human brother, you sacrifice part of your immortality.
      My Zeus is father of both twins but tries to renounce Castor after his injury because doesn't want another disabled person on Olympus after the great troubles with Asclepius.
      I've wondered about the mythological function of the Dioscuri. It seems to have been done totally subordinate to that of Helen. Her brothers exist to rescue her from Theseus. However, they must later be removed, in order not to be heirs to Tyndareus' throne. (Gods apparently fear that Menelaus would have the common sense not to start a world war just over the Most Beautiful Woman; she must as well be epicleros holding the keys to his throne.) Homer removes the brothers by killing and burying them, later mythographers are more merciful.

    9. How do we know when gods start worrying about the Gigantomachy? I think we must look for special efforts to conceive or bring from abroad important individuals. So it depends on which family tree you are tracing. E.g. from Aeacus to Achilles, there are only 3 generations. However, from Cadmus to Polyneices, there are 6 (Cadmus - Polydorus - Labdacus - Laius - Oedipus - Polyneices), and from Lyncaeus to Heracles, there are 8. If we presume that Zeus' procreating heroes is due only to his care about the coming Gigantomachy (rather than to the irresistible urge of a serial rapist), we must count from Io. As you mentioned, this means whole 13 generations, with Zeus intervening twice more and Poseidon once:
      It is true that most important heroes appear close to the end of the Heroic Age, but I doubt that this is wish and plan of Zeus. After all, only several of them are really used in the Gigantomachy (according to the dominant version - only one, Heracles).
      Typhon is indeed described in terms hinting at secret admiration. And actually was there any other reason for making him male? Other bad Greek monsters are female and so is his possible prototype Tiamat.

    10. Maya, like many mortals turned god are saviors upon the sea. Their wives (the daughters of Leucippicus) were also deified.

  22. Yes, like the above mentioned Ino/Leucothea and her son. I wonder, were Ino and Melicertes really "granted" immortality, or they simply failed to die, and Nereus had to find them some job. It seems that the boy did not grow anymore after his "first life" ended.

    It is nice of Hesiod's Zeus to pity Typhon, but at the same time he laughs while planning evil against humans (Works & Days 54-60). I think we have the right to be offended for being regarded as less valuable than some embodiment of chaos.

  23. Maya,

    Can you imagine, if the Olympians had chosen the monsters as allies rather then men? Bill

  24. We are not allies of the Olympians. We are their slaves, like the Messenians to the Spartans. My Zeus coins the words for "slave" and "slavery", having the humans in mind. We must feed the gods by sacrificing, or else will be destroyed like the Silver generation.
    Some monsters do become allies of the gods: Cerberus, Pegassus, the sea monsters sent to eat humans. Most, however, are too dull (or too proud?) to strike a life-saving deal. I guess that if Geryon had sacrificed some of his famous cows now and then, he would have enjoyed a long life.

  25. Maya M,

    Good stuff on the centaurs! I remember reading somewhere that as time progressed depictions of the Gigantomachy and Centauromachy began to represent more and more in the minds of the Greeks the war against "Barabarians". Initially those battles represent the gods and heroes respectively defeating chaos and ordering the world. Once that's done you've got to defeat those rowdy Persians.