Monday, August 1, 2016

TFBT: Ben's Curriculum, Part VII

10.  Children of Styx

"at the time when the Olympian Lightener summoned all the immortal gods to broad Olympus, and said that whoso of the gods would fight with him against the Titans, none of them would he rob of his rewards, but each should have the honor that he had earlier among the immortal gods. 395 And he said that anyone who was unhonored or ungifted by Kronos, he would establish in honor, and rewards, according to justice. Then first came imperishable Styx to Olympus along with her children through the counsels of her father (Hesiod, Theogony  390ff)

After Zeus rescued his siblings from the pit of their father’s stomach the old guy Cronus must not have been feeling too good, because the half-breed sons of Iapetus took over the leadership of the Titans;

"Now Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled maid Clymene, daughter of Oceanus, and went up with her into one bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bare very glorious Menoetius and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus." (Hesiod, Theogony 507)

So at this point Zeus summons all the unallied gods hoping to find some allies for himself and his siblings; the Olympians.  The first new ally to step forward with her children is the river goddess Styx.  She is one of the elder daughters of the Great River Ocean and oddly, the only river-goddess.  All of Oceanus and Tethys’ other daughters, the Oceanids are the local eponymous goddesses, clouds or the goddesses of springs.  She is the only river.  On top of that (Ha ha!) her river rolls through Hades.   She is one of five stygian rivers.  She has a tributary on earth, near to the city of Nonakris in Arcadia. (Pausanias, 8.17.6) She came on the advice of her father Oceanus; from “whence the gods have risen.” (Homer, Iliad 14. 200)  

Notice that Styx doesn’t bring her husband Pallas.  He and his brothers were more half-breed second generation Titans; "And Eurybia (daughter of Pontus), bright goddess, was joined in love to Crius, (Ram) and bare great Astraeus, (Starry), and Pallas (Warrior), and Perses (Destroyer)." (Hesiod, Theogony 375) Presumably, she left him behind because he joined the Iapetides, that is the losing side in the Titanomachy.  Like Menoetius, he and his brothers disappeared from myth about this time.

The victorious gods honored Styx by swearing their most forceful and binding oaths by the waters of her River. 

“Iris , come her way with a message across the sea's wide ridges, those times when dispute and quarrelling start among the immortals, … and Zeus sends Iris to carry the many-storied water that the gods swear their great oath on, thence, in a golden pitcher, that cold water …And whoever of the gods, who keep the summits of snowy Olympus, pours of this water, and swears on it, and is forsworn, is laid flat, and does not breathe, until a year is completed; nor is this god let come near ambrosia and nectar to eat, but with no voice in him, and no breath, he is laid out flat, on a made bed, and the evil coma covers him.” (Hesiod, Theogony 775 ff)

As for her children; “Styx, daughter of Oceanus, after union with Pallas, bore within the house Zelos and beauteous-ankled Victory; 385 and she gave birth to Strength [Kratos] and Force [Biē], illustrious children,”   Zeal, Strength, Force and Victory pretty great powers for Zeus to ally with right?  Although you got to wonder if Zeus didn’t establish these honors and rewards until after the Titanomachy.  Although, Zeal, Strength and Force are merely abstractions, the worship of Victory was wide-spread.  She was associated with Athena and under the name of Nike got her own tennis-shoe company. 

Hesiod lists one more honor for her children; their “abode is not apart from Zeus, nor is there any seat, or any way, where the god does not go before them; but always they sit beside deep-thundering Zeus.”  You got to wonder if there wasn’t something in the water up on Olympus, because like their cousin Hecate, two of Zeus’ daughters and a sister, the Children of Styx had no children of their own.





all texts from


  1. "Menoetius... disappeared from myth about this time. "

    I think that Menoetius is identical with Menoites the cowherd of Hades. From

    "...Menoites (Menoetes), who was there tending the cattle of Hades, reported these events to Geryon" (Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.108)

    And see what I found yesterday in Boyce's "History of Zoroastrianism":

    "The spirits of the dead travel to his [i.e. Vedic Yama's] realm by a downward path; but in RV [i.e. the Rig Veda] 10.14.2 this gloomy region is called gavyuti "cattle-pasture", an expression which has been connected with Yima's constant epithet of hvathwa "having good herds"... The ancient belief [was] that he [i.e. Yima] was lord of the underworld, where he welcomed the dead to "cattle pastures", the Elysian fields of Iran."

  2. Maya,

    Nice find on Yama. In Vedic tradition there is an image of the sun-god herding his cloud-cows across the sky to his night-pasture in the west

    I want to be lieve that Menoetius is Menoites, but Aaron Atsma is the only authority to support the idea


  3. So the Vedic "Helios" also has a herd of nice cattle! But I bet the Indians have no reckless heroes who slay the sun-god's cows the moment they feel hungry.

    If the two Menoitii are identical, I guess the primary one was the Hades cowherd. It appears in a Heracles myth (an old, I'd say obsolete, layer of mythology). The name Menoites seems not fully understandable, maybe reflecting an older form of language. Homer borrows it as suitable for Patroclus' father and makes it fully understandable (Menoitius). Hesiod may have taken it and given it history to illustrate the might of Zeus, as he did with Atlas.

  4. Maya,
    I have always wondered if the whole Geryon story was originally a non-Greek epic. Just a thought