Aetna To Alcippe (Greco-Roman Mythology)


Greco-Roman Ancient name of the active volcano on Sicily now known as Mount Etna. Two historic eruptions occurred in the fifth century B.C.



A district of ancient Greece on the northwest shore of the Gulf of Corinth. The Aetolian League was a confederation of the cities of Aetolia, which, after the death of Alexander the Great, became the chief rival of Macedonian power, as well as of the Achaean League.



The son of Endymion. Originally he was king of Elis, but having accidentally killed Apis during a chariot race he was banished across the Gulf of Corinth, where he conquered the country that became known as Aetolia. He had two sons, Pleuron and Calydon, their names being used for cities within Aetolia.



The southwest sirocco wind, or the personification of that wind as a deity.



Son of Erginus and brother of Trophonius. The two sons built a treasury for Hyreius, a king of Boeotia, but included a secret opening through which they entered to steal the riches within. They also built a temple to Apollo at Delphi. As a reward they lived merrily for six days; on the seventh day they died in their sleep.



The most famous of all the kings of Mycenae, the son or grandson of Atreus, king of Argos and possibly Mycenae, and the brother of Menelaus. According to legend, Agamemnon was a descendant of Tantalus, son of Zeus and the nymph Pluto, and father of Pelops, Broteas, and Niobe. Homer tells us that his kingdom comprised all of Argolis and many islands. Both brothers married daughters of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, in whose court they had sought refuge from Thyestes. Menelaus married Helen, and Agamemnon married her half-sister, Clytemnestra, having murdered her first husband, Tantalus, and their baby. He had four children of his own by her, though the given names vary. Attic tragedy gives them as Iphigeneia, Electra, Chrysothemis, and Orestes, whereas Homer gives the first two as Iphianassa and Laodice. Some say that Tyndareus helped Agamemnon to expel Thyestes and so regain his father’s throne.

When Helen was abducted by Paris, thus signaling the start of the Trojan War, Menelaus called on his brother to raise a Greek force. The first to rally to his cause was Nestor of Pylos, but Agamemnon also needed more distant allies. In the company of Menelaus and Palamedes, he traveled to Ithaca to persuade Odysseus to join their cause. Others who joined the expedition were Ajax the Greater, the son of King Telamon of Salamis, along with his half-brother, Teucer, the best archer in the whole of Greece. They brought 12 ships with them. Ajax the Lesser, the son of Oileus, king of Locris, also rallied, bringing forty ships. Idomeneos, king of Crete, brought one hundred ships and shared command with Agamemnon. He was accompanied by Meriones.

The huge Greek army assembled at Aulis twice, because the first time they set off they mistakenly invaded Mysia and had to return. As they assembled the second time a hare was torn in half by two eagles, a sign, according to the interpretation of the prophet Calchas, that Troy would be taken, but the Greek forces would be opposed by Artemis, the first sign of this being at Aulis, where contrary winds kept the fleet from sailing. This delay is usually attributed to Agamemnon having killed a hart, thereby gaining the ill favor of Artemis.

Calchas announced that Agamemnon should sacrifice his daughter, Iphigeneia, to appease the goddess. This was duly done, and Agamemnon gained his fair wind—but also the undying hatred of his wife. An alternative version to this story says that Iphigeneia was replaced on the altar at the last moment by a stag as the goddess Artemis carried Iphigeneia away to become her priestess in the barbarian country of Tauris, where she was later rescued by her brother, Orestes.

Agamemnon distinguished himself as commander in chief of the Greek forces at Troy, but his career was marred by a plague sent by Apollo because he had seized Chryseis, the daughter of Apollo’s priest, Chryses. To appease Apollo, Agamemnon reluctantly sent the girl back, but to compensate for the loss he claimed Briseis, the concubine-slave of Achilles, thereby precipitating the famous quarrel that is the subject of Homer’s Iliad.

Achilles, angered by Agamemnon’s actions, refused to take any further part in the fighting, and the Trojans soon began to gain the upper hand. Some say Achilles’ refusal stemmed from his falling in love with Polyxena, a daughter of Priam, and was simply an attempt to curry favor with the father.

With Achilles sulking in his tent and the Trojans now getting the better of the Greeks, Agamemnon was only too pleased to grant a truce so that Menelaus and Paris might settle their quarrel in single combat. But with Paris losing, Aphrodite carried him away, and the battle restarted. Still the Trojans held the upper hand, and in alarm Agamemnon attempted to induce Achilles back into the fray by offering to return Briseis. His offer was refused.

Instead, Patroclus led the Myrmidones while wearing Achilles’ armor, and it was his death at the hands of Hector that led Achilles back into the battle. He made his peace with Agamemnon, who at last returned Briseis to him. Now the battle went in the favor of the Greeks once again.

The decisive action of the Trojan War was the stratagem of the Wooden Horse, supposedly implemented by Odysseus. Leaving behind only Sinon and the massive horse, the Greek forces burned their encampment and sailed to the island of Tenedos, from which they returned on Sinon’s signal after the horse had been taken inside the city by the unsuspecting and foolish Trojans.

Following the successful completion of the campaign, Agamemnon returned home, accompanied by Cassandra, a Trojan prophetess he claimed as booty. Here he found his wife’s vengeance awaiting him. While he had been away she had taken Aegisthus as her lover, and together they planned to murder both him and Cassandra. Greeting her returning husband regally, she trapped him in a net while he was taking a bath, and after Aegisthus had struck him twice she beheaded him with an axe. Then Clytemnestra disposed of Cassandra. Orestes fled to Phocis, from whence he later returned to wreak his vengeance. Electra and Chry-sothemis remained under the tyranny of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra.

According to Pausanias, the ancient kings of Mycenae were buried within the walls of the citadels. In 1876 Heinrich Schliemann uncovered the grave circle, including its magnificent golden grave goods. Among these was the famous funerary mask that he hailed as the "face of Agamemnon." The identification has never been substantiated, but it is romantic and unforgettable by its association with the king who was the leader of the most famous and best known of all Greek myths and leg-ends—the Trojan War.



A fountain at the foot of Mount Helicon in Boeotia that was sacred to the Muses, hence they subsequently were called Aganippides. It was thought to inspire those who drank from it. Another fountain, Hippocrene, also sacred to the Muses, was known as Aganippis.



Name used to refer to the Muses following their association with the sacred fountain of Aganippe.



Epithet added to the fountain of Hippocrene because it was sacred to the Muses, who were also known as Aganippides through their association with another fountain, Aganippe.



According to Virgil’s Aeneid, a tribe living in Thrace.



Daughter of Cadmos, legendary founder and king of Thebes, and his wife, Harmonia, daughter of Ares and Aphrodite. She was the sister of Autonoe, Ino, Semele, Polydorus, and Illyrius and the mother of Pentheus. When Pentheus resisted Dionysos he was driven mad and, when caught spying on the orgiastic worship of the god, was torn to pieces by the Maenads, or Bacchae. Among these frenzied worshippers were his own mother, Agave, and her sisters, Autonoe and Ino. Agave bore his head back to Thebes in triumph, believing it to be that of a lion. When she recovered her senses she fled from Thebes to Illyria. Some said that her murder of Pentheus was Dionysos’s revenge on her, for she had spread the rumor that her sister Semele had had a liason with a mortal, meaning Dionysos was not the son of Zeus but of a man.

The legend of Agave is used by Euripides in his play Bacchae.



1. Son of Poseidon and king of Phoenicia who, according to common tradition, was the father of Europa and Cadmos by his wife, Tele-phassa. When Zeus, in the form of a bull, carried off Europa, Agenor sent Cadmos in search of her.

2. The son of the Trojan Antenor and Theano.



"The Bright One"; the third of the three Charities or Graces. A bestower of beauty and charm.

Aglauros Greek 1. The wife of Cecrops.

2. The daughter of Cecrops. The infant Erichthonius was entrusted to her and her sisters.



The granddaughter of Actaeus, the first king of Athens. She threw herself to her death from the Acropolis because an oracle demanded a self-sacrifice for Athens.



The site, on the island of Sicily, of two outstanding fifth-century B.C. temples dedicated to Hera and Concord and situated on either side of a scenic ridge.



The Greek form of the more common, Latinized Ajax.

Aid~es, ~oneus


Another name for Hades—the realm, not the god.



Modern Greek name for the island of Aegina; also Aiyna.



Alternative modern Greek name for the island of Aegina; also Aiyina.



1. The son of Telamon, king of Salamis. Known as Ajax the Greater or Great Ajax to distinguish him from Ajax the Lesser, he was a courageous fighter who boasted that he did not need the help of the gods and brought 12 ships and his half-brother, Teucer, the best archer in all Greece, to the Trojan War. He was distinguished by his huge shield.

He accompanied Odysseus and Nestor when they went to Scyros to recruit for the Trojan War, the occasion when Achilles was discovered disguised as a girl among the daughters of King Lycomedes. Ajax the Greater was second only to Achilles among Greek heroes of the war.

Sometime during the first nine years of the war, he and his company raided the Thracian Chersonesus, and in Teuthrania he killed King Teuthras and took his daughter, Tecmessa, as booty. During the tenth and final year of the war he and Hector fought in single combat until nightfall. Then, remembering the friendship between their forefathers, they exchanged gifts, Hector giving Ajax the Greater a sword and receiving a purple baldric. When Patroclus was slain by Hector, Ajax joined Menelaus in retrieving the body.

Following the death of Achilles he and Odysseus rescued the body, and Ajax treated Achilles’ son, Neoptolemus, as his own. But then he and Odysseus fought for possession of Achilles’ fabulous armor, destined by Thetis for the bravest of the Greeks. However, the Trojan prisoners named Odysseus the bravest, and the arms were duly awarded. Homer, in Odyssey, says that Odysseus killed him, whereas Sophocles in his tragedy Ajax tells that Ajax was sent mad when he offended Athene after the armor had been awarded to Odysseus, slew the sheep of the Greeks (believing them to be his enemies), and finally killed himself by falling on the sword that Hector had given him. A long dispute then ensued over his burial rights in light of what he had done.

Another story, one that conflates Ajax the Greater with his namesake, says that the argument was not over the arms of Achilles but over the Palladium, a statue of Athene, that Odysseus is said to have stolen from within the city of Troy while it was under siege.

From the blood of Ajax the Greater a flower sprang up that bears on its petals the letters "AI"—an exclamation of grief as well as the initial letters of Aias, the Greek form of Ajax. His tomb in Salamis was venerated by the straightforward Dorians who, like Pindar, did not approve of the trickery of Odysseus.

2. The son of Oileus, king of Locris, he took 40 ships to the Trojan War and was referred to as Ajax the Lesser or Little Ajax to distinguish him from Ajax the Greater, so called because he was not the equal of Ajax the Greater. As a soldier he was expert in throwing the spear and second only to Achilles for fleetness of foot; he was portrayed as a charmless, god-defying man.

With the fall of Troy he committed sacrilege against Athene by ravishing Cassandra in the temple of Athene beside the statue of the goddess, then carrying off both the girl and the goddess’s image. Cassandra was claimed as booty by Agamemnon, and on his journey home Athene sent a violent storm to drown him. Poseidon, however, saved Ajax the Lesser but was overruled, and so destroyed with his trident the rock upon which Ajax had taken refuge.

Three years after the return of the heroes from the Trojan War a series of bad harvests in Locris were attributed by the Delphic Oracle to the continuing anger of Athene. As expiation she demanded two Locrian maidens every year, the first to be sent being killed by the Trojans. This custom continued into historic times, but by then the girls were simply made, on arrival on Trojan soil, to run the gauntlet from the beach to the temple. If they managed to escape death by beating they spent the rest of their lives in the shrine of Athene, unmarried.



Tragic play by Sophocles in which he tells of the fate of Ajax the Greater following his dispute with Odysseus over the armor of Achilles. Sophocles tells that Ajax was sent mad when he offended Athene after the armor had been awarded to Odysseus, slew the sheep of the Greeks (believing them to be his enemies), and finally killed himself by falling on the sword that Hector had given him. A long dispute then ensued over his burial rights in light of what he had done. Homer simply states that Odysseus killed him.


Greco-Roman The modern name for the town of Actium.



Also: Acrocorinthos

Variant of Acrocorinthos, the acropolis above ancient Corinth that was the site of the fertility cult of Aphrodite.

Alba Longa


A city of ancient Latium sited near Lake Albano or Alban Lake, about 19 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Rome. Today it is known as Castel Gandolfo. According to legend it was founded c. 1152 B.C. by Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, 30 years after Aeneas had found the white sow and her 30 piglets on that site, fulfilling the prophecy of Helenus. It was ruled by Ascanius’s descendants for nearly three centuries. However, Amulius then usurped the throne of his brother, Numitor, who was exiled. Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, was forced to become a Vestal Virgin, but she was raped by Mars and bore the twins Romulus and Remus. It was the head of the Roman League and the mother city of Rome, as from here Romulus and Remus set out to found the new city.

Destroyed c. 600 B.C., the city was never rebuilt, though the area was appropriated for the villas of the aristocracy.

Alban Lake


A lake near the site of ancient Alba Longa that was drained by the Romans, according to legend, to ensure the fall of the city of Veientia, this condition being first pronounced by a Veientine soothsayer, then confirmed by the Delphic Oracle.

Alban Mount


The mount around which, during the twelfth century B.C., the colonies of immigrants into Latium were centered. The towns of Alba Longa, Aricia, Ardea, and Lavinium gradually arose in the vicinity.

Albano, Lake


Alternative name for Alban Lake.



The father of Amphitryon who was the husband of Alcmene.



The sole daughter of Pelias, king of Iolcos, who was not persuaded by Medea’s ruse that the action of cutting up Pelias and boiling the parts in a cauldron would rejuvenate the aging king; she thus did not participate in her father’s murder. She married Admetus, king of Pherae, and gave her life in return for her husband being allowed to live. It was said that she was returned to the land of the living, either because Persephone refused the self-sacrifice, or because Heracles rescued her.



A name given to Heracles when considered as the reputed grandson of Alcaeus.



The king of the paradisiacal Phaeacia (often identified with Corfu) and the father of Nausicaa. He had given sanctuary to Jason and Medea when they were being pursued by the angry Colchians. When Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, was found shipwrecked on the shore of the island of Scheria by Nausicaa—the raft he was sailing had been wrecked by Poseidon and his life saved by Leucothea and Athene—he welcomed the marooned hero to his palace, entertained him regally, and then furnished a ship that conveyed Odysseus home to Ithaca in an enchanted sleep. The ship was turned into a rock by Poseidon en route, this rock often being identified with Pondikonisi (Mouse Island) south of the Canoni Peninsula.



The daughter of Ares whom Halirrhothius, a son of Poseidon, attempted to rape. Her father killed Halirrhothius and was placed on trial by the other gods. He was, however, acquitted when he gave the full facts behind the murder; the place of the trial became known as the Areopagus.

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