Arimaspea To Ate (Greco-Roman Mythology)



A lost poem by Aristaeus of Proconnesos that describes the Arimaspians or Arimaspi as a one-eyed race who lived in the northern regions of the world.



Described in the lost poem Arimaspea by Aristaeus of Proconnesos, the Arimaspi (Anglicized as Arimaspians) were a one-eyed race living on the Scythian steppes, neighbors to the Hyperboreans. They constantly fought a group of griffins for the horde of gold they guarded.



1. An actual historical figure from the seventh century B.C.; a native of Methymna on Lesbos, he lived at the court of Periander of Corinth in about 625 B.C. He was a lyric poet, virtuoso on the cithara (a more sonorous version of the lyre), and developed the dithyramb (a form a choral song). A curious legend is told of this character.

Having visited Sicily, where he won a musical contest, he boarded a ship to return to Corinth laden with gifts, but while en route the captain and crew decided to murder him for his treasure. Given permission to sing one last song, Arion dedicated the hymn to Apollo and then leaped into the sea. There he was rescued by Delphinos, one of the music-loving dolphins (Apollo’s beast) that had gathered to hear his song, who carried him on its back to Taenarum. From there Arion made his way to Corinth and told Periander of his adventures. Later, when the ship had arrived, the captain and crew swore that Arion had been detained in Sicily, but Periander confronted them with Arion and had them executed by crucifixion. Arion and his lyre were subsequently placed among the stars.

2. A fabulous talking horse, the divine offspring of Poseidon and Demeter conceived when Poseidon, in the form of a stallion, raped his sister, who had taken the form of a mare. It was Arion’s speed that saved Adrastus in the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes.



The son of Apollo and the nymph Cyrene; born in Libya, he became the father of Actaeon. On the advice of Cyrene he sacrificed some cattle to the nymphs, and after nine days he found bees swarming in the remains.

He traveled to Thrace, where he fell in love with and pursued Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus. In her flight from his lust she received a fatal snake bite and died. As punishment the nymphs destroyed his bees, and how he raised a new swarm is told in Virgil’s fourth Georgics. After his death he became a minor deity of healing and was regarded as the inventor of beekeeping and other agricultural pursuits. He also features in the story of Erigone.

Arist(a)eus of Proconnesos


A historical figure probably dating from the seventh century B.C. who described in a lost poem, the Arimaspea, a visit he once made to the northern regions of the world that were inhabited by the one-eyed Arimaspians, the gold-guarding griffins, and the Hyperboreans. Legend held that he was sometimes to be seen in more than one place at a time, which suggests that he may have been a practitioner of the kind of shamanistic out-of-body experiences known to be characteristic of Central Asia. His name was still known as that of a magician in thirteenth-century Byzantium.



At Brauron all girls between the ages of five and ten would spend a period in the service of Artemis, known as being arktoi, "bear virgins" or "bears for Artemis," after which they would take part in a procession at Athens to mark their arrival at maturity. See also: Artemis



Festival held in ancient Athens during which two maidens carried phallic symbols to the shrine of Aphrodite to symbolize her role as a fertility goddess.



The Etruscan ally of Aeneas in his battle with Turnus.



The daughter of Phlegeus, king of Psophis, who married Alcmaeon after her father had purified him for the murder of his mother, Eriphyle, for which he was being pursued by the Erinnyes. As a wedding gift, Alcmaeon gave Arsinoe the fabulous necklace and robe of Harmonia. However, the Erinnyes were still in pursuit, and so Alcmaeon was forced to flee and abandon his wife. See also: Erinnyes



One of the 12 great Olympian deities whom the Romans identified with Diana, although she was also known to them as Cynthia, being said to have been born on Mount Cynthus. The virgin goddess of the chase; the Mistress of the Animals who was worshipped in primitive matriarchal society; protectress of children and young animals; protectress of the hunted and vegetation; goddess of chastity; later, moon goddess. Her worshippers tended to be the ordinary populace.

In reality Artemis is a far more frightening creature. She is just one of many forms of the primitive mother goddess, having special concern for the lives of women, both before and after marriage. Her name is found in the Mycenaean Linear B texts, and she is close to the shadowy Cretan goddesses Britomartis and Dictynna. It is said that Britomartis was a nymph who was pursued for nine months by Minos until she leaped into the sea and was deified by Artemis. Thenceforth they shared the name Dictynna. She may be identified with the potina theron of Minoan religion and is often referred to as potina (lady) of bears or bulls.

During the classical period she was especially associated with the rites of passage of girls into womanhood. At Brauron all girls between the ages of five and ten would spend a period in her service, known as being arktoi, "bear virgins" or "bears for Artemis," after which they would take part in a procession at Athens to mark their arrival at maturity.

At Halae Araphenides in Attica a festival known as the Tauropolia involved the offering of some drops of blood from a man’s neck to the presiding goddess, Artemis Tauropolos (the bull goddess Artemis).

She was commonly identified with Eileith-yia, the goddess of childbirth, and was known as Locheia and Soodina in this aspect. She was also, on occasions known as Kourotrophos, "Midwife" and "Nurse," further emphasizing her association as a fertility goddess especially concerned with childbirth.

In Tauris (the Tauric Chersonese) her cult was said to involve the sacrifice of all strangers. In this cult Iphigeneia was once her priestess, and it was from Tauris that she and her brother, Orestes, were said to have taken her image to Brauron, whence the goddess was known as Brauronia. This Brauronian Artemis was worshipped in Athens, as well as in Sparta, under the name of Orthia, where she was worshipped in rituals that included the violent flogging of youths at her altar until they sprinkled it with their blood. During Roman times these youths sometimes died from the floggings. A similar claim of human sacrifices in her honor was made for her aspect of Artemis Triklaria at Patras.

She is perhaps closest to the Anatolian Mother Goddess as Artemis Ephesia (Artemis of Ephesus), who was represented with a huge number of pendulous breasts, though these were sometimes identified as bulls’ scrotums, and worshipped as an orgiastic goddess. Ephesus in Turkey was her chief cult center, with an immensely wealthy temple first built by Croesus. It was this Artemis that Saint Paul encountered (see Acts 19:1-35).

She is commonly, as Artemis Agrotera, a goddess of the wild; on Delos she was worshipped at an altar of counterclockwise-turning goats’ horns. It was at this Ionian shrine that she was most closely associated with her mythological twin brother, Apollo. However, she was worshipped early in Arcadia as a huntress among the nymphs, and this Arcadian Artemis has no connection whatsoever with Apollo, the association being made only by later writers.

In mythology she is Korythalia, "laurel maiden," the twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus and Leto. Hera, jealous of Zeus’s continued philandering, caused Leto to wander from place to place until she gave birth to Artemis under a palm tree on the island of Ortygia and to Apollo on the island of Delos. Artemis shares many of Apollo’s attributes and carried a bow and arrows that were made for her by Hephaistos. She had the power to send plague and sudden death.

As Leto came with Artemis from Delos to Delphi, the still implacable Hera sent the giant Tityus to violate Leto, though some say that it was Artemis herself that was attacked. The giant was killed by the arrows of the twins.

When the gigantic Aloeidae, Ephialtes and Otus, vowed to outrage Hera and Artemis, they piled Mount Pelion on Mount Ossa in their attack on Olympus. Artemis induced the giants to go to the island of Naxos in the hope of meeting her there, but disguising herself as a doe she leaped between the pair, and they killed each other in error. Now Ge, to avenge the deaths of the giants, brought forth the gigantic monster Typhon and sent him against Olympus. All the gods fled to Egypt in animal form, Artemis assuming that of a cat.

Like Apollo, Artemis remained unmarried, and later writers stressed the fact that she was a maiden goddess and punished any lapses severely. She changed the hunter Actaeon into a stag to be torn to pieces by his own hounds simply because he had chanced upon her bathing naked with the nymphs. Some traditions also attribute the death of the giant Orion to Artemis because of his unchasteness. The nymph Callisto, whom Zeus had seduced, was transformed into a bear and hunted down by the hounds of Artemis. The only mortal to whom she is known to have been kind was Hippolytus, but she abandoned even him as he lay dying.

Artemis was attended by Dryades and Naiades, attendants that were usually represented by girls who performed wild and erotic dances.

She displayed her vengeful nature in the story of Niobe. When the latter boasted that she was superior to Leto, for she had had seven sons and seven daughters, the Niobids (though some sources quote only six boys and six girls), whereas Leto only had two children. In punishment Apollo killed the boys and Artemis the girls, although alternative sources say that Artemis only killed five of the six girls. Either they or Zeus turned Niobe into a rock on Mount Sipylus from which her tears fell as a stream.

Artemis also appears briefly in the story of the Trojan War. When the Greek fleet was beset by contrary winds at Aulis, said to have been caused by Agamemnon killing a hart and thus displeasing Artemis, Calchas advised that only the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, Agamemnon’s daughter, would appease the goddess. Reluctantly Agamemnon gave his permission, though some say that Artemis snatched the girl from the altar in the nick of time and substituted a deer for her, bearing Iphigeneia off to Tauris to become her priestess. It was from there that she was later rescued by her brother, Orestes. Following this rescue Artemis pardoned Orestes for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus, and thus halted the pursuit of the Erinnyes.

When Apollo came to be identified with the sun and known as Phoebus, Artemis came to be associated with the moon, coming to be known as Phoebe. Perhaps this is function of her virgin purity, though it is incompatible with the existence of Selene. Later still she came to be identified, more or less, with Hecate.

Though usually represented as a rural divinity, Artemis was the supreme deity in three great cities: Ephesus in Turkey, which was her main cult center; Massalia (Marseilles), to which Ionian Greeks from Asia Minor took her cult between 600 B.C. and 500 B.C.; and in Syracuse, in southern Sicily, where she was known as Artemis Arethusa. She was often portrayed as a huntress, and as such her chlamys reached only to the knees. She carried a bow, quiver, and arrows and was often accompanied by stags or dogs. When she became associated with Selene she wore a long robe and veil, showed a crescent moon on her forehead, and drove a two-horse chariot.

Artemis Agrotera


An aspect of Artemis in which she is described as the goddess of the wild.

Artemis Arethusa


The name by which Arethusa was known in Syracuse, Sicily.

Artemis Ephesia


"Artemis of Ephesus." The aspect of Artemis where she is perhaps closest to the Anatolian Mother Goddess and in which she was represented with a huge number of pendulous breasts, though these were sometimes identified as bulls’ scrotums, and worshipped as an orgiastic goddess. Ephesus in Turkey was her chief cult center, with an immensely wealthy temple first built by Croesus. It was this Artemis that Saint Paul encountered (see Acts 19:1-35).

Artemis Tauropolos


At Halae Araphenides in Attica a festival known as the Tauropolia involved the offering of some drops of blood from a man’s neck to the presiding goddess, Artemis Tauropolos (the bull goddess Artemis).

Artemis Triklaria


An aspect of Artemis worshipped at Patras, where it is claimed human sacrifices were carried out in her honor.



Freed from the Underworld by Heracles when that hero also freed Theseus during his twelfth (and final) labor, he was, according to some, turned into an owl by Demeter for revealing that he had seen Persephone eat while in the Underworld.


Greco-Roman The son of Aeneas who was led away from the doomed city of Troy at the end of the Trojan War by his father, who carried his grandfather, Anchises. However, as some sources give Ascanius’s mother as Lavinia, he might have been born after his father had arrived in Italy and therefore could not have been at Troy. Thirty years after Aeneas’s arrival in Italy he was to found the city of Alba Longa (c. 1152 B.C.) on the site where Aeneas had come across a white sow and her 30 piglets, as foretold in the prophecy of Helenus. The city was ruled by his descendants for some 300 years.

His significance to the Romans is that they called him Iulus; the Julian clan, including Julius Caesar, claimed descent from Aeneas and Aphrodite (Venus) through him.

Asclap~ios, ~ius

Greco-Roman Variant of Asclepios.


Greco-Roman A priestly cast, the supposed descendants of Asclepios, in which the knowledge of medicine as a sacred secret was transmitted from father to son.

Asclep~ios, ~ius


Also: Aesculapius, Asclepius, Aesclepius, Asculepius, Aesculepius, Asclapius, Aes-clapius, Asculapius

A god of medicine whose name, it appears, may be related to the word ascalaphos, "a lizard." He was commonly identified early in the form of or, later, accompanied by a snake, and when his cult was introduced into Athens the poet Sophocles acted as host to the god while his temple was being built. That is to say, Sophocles looked after the sacred snake. Originating from Trikka in Thessaly, Asclepios became the patron deity of three famous healing sanctuaries: Epidaurus, Pergamum, and Cos. On account of the belief that the god prescribed cures in dreams, it was customary for the sick to sleep in his temples or in the "health centers" that were associated with them. The remains of these centers are extensive at Epidaurus and Pergamum and include, in each case, a fine theater.

According to some traditions, he was the son of Apollo and the nymph Coronis raised by the wise centaur Cheiron, who taught him the arts of healing. In other traditions, Homer included, he was not a god but rather a native of Epidaurus, which was the center of his worship, the "blameless physician" and father of Machaon and Podalirius, the physicians to the Greek army at Troy. These sons became the founding fathers of medicine. Serpents were sacred to him, as shown by his symbol, a caduceus with two serpents entwined around it, and cocks were sacrificed in his honor. His supposed descendants were called the Asclepiadae, a priestly caste where father transmitted to son the knowledge of medicine as a sacred secret.

In the tradition where Asclepios was divine he acted as the physician to the Argonauts and once restored a man to life—usually Hippoly-tus. Thus he cheated Hades and was struck down by a thunderbolt from Zeus; because Hades was so worried about this power, he persuaded Zeus to place him in the heavens out of the way, where he formed the constellation Ophiuchus. Furious, his father, Apollo, killed the Cyclopes in revenge and was duly punished by being made to serve the mortal Admetus for a year.

Asclepios was the father of Panaceia and a daughter named Hygeia, from whom the modern English word hygiene has derived. Asclepios was usually depicted in art wearing a long cloak but bare-chested and carrying his snake-entwined staff. He was one of the elements, along with Zeus, Hades, and Osiris, who was combined into the new, and for a short time successful, god Serapis by Ptolemy I in an attempt to unite Greeks and Egyptians in common worship. Despite his death, Asclepios was regarded as divine, and his role as a savior god made him a particularly dangerous rival to Christianity.

His cult was introduced to Rome c. 293 B.C. in order to cure a pestilence on the order of the prophetic Sibylline Books, and his name became corrupted to Aesculapius.

Asellus Australis


The Southern Ass ridden by Silenus in the company of Dionysos, who rode the Northern Ass, Asellus Borealis, in their battle with the Titans.

Astronomical: Asellus Australis, lying within the constellation Cancer exactly on the ecliptic at approximate celestial coordinates right ascension 8h45m, declination +18°, is a 4X17 magnitude gK0 star at 217 light-years distance.

Asellus Borealis


The Northern Ass ridden by Dionysos in the company of Silenus, who rode the Southern

Ass, Asellus Australis, in their battle with the Titans.

Astronomical: Asellus Borealis, lying within the constellation Cancer at approximate celestial coordinates right ascension 8h45m, declination +22°, is a 4.73 magnitude type A0 star at 233 light-years distance.



Site of the oldest shrine to Aphrodite according to Herodotus.



Daughter of Oceanos and Tethys; the mother of Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus by Iapetus. She was sometimes identified as Clymene.

Asia Minor In ancient times referred to as Anatolia, this was the westernmost part of Asia and comprised the great peninsula that makes up most of modern Turkey. It is bordered by the Black Sea on the north, the Mediterranean Sea on the south, and the Aegean Sea on the west. The waterway made up of the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (ancient name Hellespont) divides the region from Europe. Within the boundaries of Asia Minor were the Aeolian Islands (the Lipari Islands).



The god of the River Asophus, of which there were two on mainland Greece, one in Sicyonia and one in Boeotia. The god was, like all of the river gods, the son of Oceanos and Tethys. He married Merope, the daughter of Ladon, and became the father of Evadne, Euboea, and Aegina, the latter name also being an island with another River Asophus in antiquity.



The modern name for the River Achelous in Boeotia.



The Thracian wife of Perseus; mother of Hecate.



A greyhound whose name means "starry" who, along with Chara (beloved), was a hunting dog used by Bootes in his pursuit of the bear Callisto.

Astronomical: An ill-defined constellation by the name of Canes Venatici—"the Hunting Dogs"—represents both Asterion and Chara, although only the latter has a star named after it, designated alpha Canes Venatici. The constellation is found in the northern celestial hemisphere between approximate right ascensions 12h and 14h, declination between +30° and +50°.



One of the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas, who is also known as Sterope.



The Greek goddess of justice who is usually depicted carrying scales and wearing a crown of stars. The daughter of Zeus and Themis, she fled to the skies to become the constellation Virgo when men began forging weapons of war.

Astronomical: The well known constellation of Virgo forms one of the constellations of the zodiac as the ecliptic runs through it. Virgo straddles the celestial equator between approximate right ascensions 12h and 1h, declination between +15° and -20°. The Egyptians identified the constellation with the goddess Isis. However, the connection to Astraea is usually considered the more important, as next to her in the sky is the constellation Libra—"the Scales"—which Astraea, as the goddess of justice, was commonly depicted holding. The name Astraea has also been applied to one of the asteroids.



One of the second-generation Titans who fathered the four beneficent winds by the goddess of the dawn, Eos. Boreas (north), Zephyrus (west), Notus (south), and Eurus (east) all lived on the floating island of Aeolia, from where Aeolus controlled their release. Astraeus was also the father, by Eos, of Hesperus, the evening star and, some say, of all the other stars as well.



The son of Hector and Andromache who was hurled from the walls of Troy by the Greeks to destroy the Trojan royal line, fearful that he might one day avenge his parents. He makes a memorable appearance in Homer’s Iliad when, as a baby, he was frightened by the nodding plume on his father’s helmet.



1. The huntress-daughter of Iasus of Arcadia and Clymene, Atalanta was exposed at birth by her father, who wanted a son, and suckled by a she-bear sent by the goddess Artemis, with whom she would become significantly connected. Atalanta was raised by hunters who taught her their arts, and when she grew to adulthood she attempted to join the expedition of the Argonauts, but Jason refused to allow her to board the Argo Navis. She did, however, join in the Calydonian Boar Hunt, where Meleager fell in love with her and gave her the head of the boar he had slain, though Atalanta herself scored the first hit. She also killed two among the party that tried to ravish her.

In due course her father, Iasus, learned that she was still alive, and the pair reconciled. Iasus wanted her to marry, but she wanted to preserve her virgin freedom as a huntress, even killing two centaurs who attempted to rape her. To elude her father’s wishes she devised a test: She would marry the man who won a footrace against her—but would kill those she beat. The fleetest of all mortals, she felt confident she would never have to marry. Many suitors failed and were executed by Atalanta.

She was finally beaten by either Milanion, an Arcadian, or Hippomenes, a Boeotian, the former being normally accepted as the vanquisher. This young man prayed to Aphrodite for help in the race, and she gave him three of the golden apples of the Hesperides. As they raced he dropped the apples one by one; enchanted by their beauty, Atalanta stopped to pick up each one, thus losing the race. The couple married and had a son, whom they named Parthenopaeus. Some sources have Meleager, the young man who fell in love with Atalanta during the Calydonian Boar Hunt, as the father of Parthenopaeus, but his usual parentage is Atalanta and Milanion.

Ovid says that Milanion (Melanion) forgot to thank Aphrodite for her help and lay with his wife in a shrine dedicated to Zeus. For this transgression she turned them both into lions, for the ancient Greeks believed that lions mated only with leopards, not with other lions. Alternative sources say that it was not Aphrodite who transformed the pair, or that they laid together in a shrine of Zeus; instead it was a shrine sacred to the goddess Cybele, and she transformed the couple.


2. Said to be the daughter of Schoeneus (Schoineus) of Boeotia, but she has been frequently confused with, and thus connected to, the Arcadian huntress of the same name, Atalanta. This Atalanta was said to have married Hippomenes, but due to the confusion the same stories are told as being appropriate to both Atalantas.

Atana potina


Possibly a specialized form of the mother goddess mentioned in the Mycenaean Linear B texts; identified with Athene.



The goddess of infatuation and the surrender of moral principles, the personification of the "moral blindness" that pitches men into disaster. She was mythologized as the daughter of Zeus or Eris, and her concept is central to the understanding of ancient Greek religion.

She was thrown out of Olympus by Zeus, who was angered at her mischief, and so lives among mortal men and women. However, when she descends on a mortal to destroy him, her externality does not absolve that person from bearing full responsibility for any actions committed while under her influence. Ate is the essential key to the concept of the Greek tragic hero, who destroys himself by forces he unleashes yet is powerless to control. In Homer’s Iliad it is "wild Ate" whom Agamemnon blames for his anger at Achilles, not himself.

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