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Greek Deities


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Daedalus of Athens was a very skilled sculptor and inventor. He worked for the king of Knossos who had a creature called the Minotaur, a half human half bull creature. To penalize the Athenians, King Minos of Crete, on which Knossos was situated, would demand as tribute seven young boys and girls who would be put in the labyrinth and when the Minotaur found them he would kill and eat them. King Minos had Daedalus build the Labyrinth, a very complex structure to house the Minotaur and make escaping the Minotaur nearly impossible for the children of Athens. However one year Theseus came as one of the young people to be sacrificed. Theseus was Daedalus' cousin, so it did not take much persuading by Ariadne, who was smitten by Theseus, to tell her a way to escape from the Labyrinth. The plan succeeded, the Athenians escaped from Knossos, and Midas knew who must have done it. He imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the tower to await sentencing. They did not wait, but see Icarus for that story.

( Daemon )
Greek collective name for beings intermediate between gods and humans. Beginning with Hesiod the term designated the spirits of dead heroes. These spirits were later interpreted by the Christians as devils. The term also signified the spirit determining a person's fate (akin to the Roman term genius).

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Greek demonic beings who were associated with the working of metal, offspring of nymphs they included:
Acmon (anvil)
Daemoneous (Subjugator or Hammer)
Celmis (casting)
Delas (Bronze)

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The 10 (some say 100) wizards, offspring of nymphs, who were attendants of Rhea and who protected the infant Zeus. According to Pausinaus their names were:
Idaean Heracles
Also counted sometimes are Isaius, Idas and Pyrhiccus. Some of these are the Dakyloi.

( Damacles )
Damocles was a courtier of Dionysius the Elder. According to a legend, Damocles on one occasion commented to his ruler on the grandeur and happiness of rulers.
Dionysius soon afterwards invited his courtier to a luxurious banquet, where Damocles enjoyed the delights of the table until his attention was directed upward and he saw a sharp sword hanging above him by a single horsehair. By this device Dionysius made Damocles realize that insecurity might threaten those who appeared to be the most fortunate. (The phrase 'Sword of Damocles" is used as a phrase to symbolize potential disaster.)

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She is actually a mortal, born of King of Argos, Acrisius, and Eurydice (the oceanid). She grew up attending to another daughter to the king. Her uncle Proteus, twin brother to Acrisius, molested her. At the same time this bad event occurred an oracle told her father that his grandson would kill him. Now worried that Danae may be pregnant from the rape, he imprisoned her in a tower. There, Zeus visited her as golden sunlight, from which she actually did become pregnant. Of course her father did not believe her story about Zeus, and did not believe her when she said that Proteus had not penetrated her successfully. Acrisius, faced with this severe family crisis, did not kill her. He sent her and her unborn child away to sea while locked up in a sea chest. Virgil said that she floated to Italy where she was found by Pilumnus, who married her and founded the city of Ardea. She was mother of Daunus, who became the ancestor of Turnus. Most other writers however say she went east in the chest to the island of Seriphos. Dicrys the fisherman found her. His brother Polydectes was king of the island. How this king treated her varies by author. Some say she was married by him, and her son raised in the temple of Athena. Most accounts say that he enslaved her and repeatedly tried to rape her (while still pregnant). When she did give birth it was to Perseus. When Perseus grew up, Polydectes (to get rid of this unwanted man) sent him to get the head of Medusa hoping he would fail. The reason he gave is that it would make a startling powerful wedding present for his bride-to-be Hippomedeia. When Perseus returned he found that Polydectes had continued to try to rape his mother, and she and Dictys were now hiding in the sanctuary of the temple of Athena. Perseus got angry and showed the head to all the villains especially Polydectes. When they were turned to stone Perseus made the decent Dictys king and returned to Argos with his mother and former king's daughter Andromeda. On arrival he accidentally killed his grandfather (thus fulfilling the prophecy).

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The father of fifty daughters, the Danaides. He was grandson of Poseidon and Libya, son to Belus and Anchinoe. His twin brother was Aegyptus. Belus was king of a large amount of land, and gave Danaus the rule of Libya, and Aegyptus the rule of Arabia. Aegyptus wanted more so he took over Egypt as well. When Belus died, the brothers quarrelled over who should get what territory. Before Belus died Danaus had fathered fifty daughters with various wives. Aegyptus had fifty sons (also by various wives). A convenient matching number, Aegyptus thought. But Danaus felt that the sons would dominate the union and he would be left badly off. He fled, with all his daughters to Argos. When they saw a ship with 50 oars, each oar controlled by a princess (it might be said they manned the oars) they considered this a gift from the gods and made Danaus king. For some time there was peace and prosperity in the land, then another ship with fifty princes showed up, the sons of Aegyptus. Danaus decided not to get into a war over this and so planned a large group wedding. But before the wedding he instructed all his daughters to take a dagger and slit the throat of their husbands on the first night of the wedding. The daughters did as their father told them, except for Hypermnestra and her husband Lynceus, who ran away. Danaus could not find suitors interested in being married to any of the remaining husband killing daughters, so he was forced to find Hypermnestra and Lynceus and convince them to come back. After him they ruled Argos and had a son called Acrisius who fathered Danae.

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There are three Daphnes mentioned in the ancient literature. One Daphne was a daughter of Teiresias, usually called Manto as mentioned by Diodorus Siculus 4.66.1
The next Daphne, and most famous became the goddess personifying the laurel tree. She is said to be the daughter of Creusa and a river god Peneius (in Thessaly). Legend has it that she was changed into a laurel to avoid the sexual advances of the god Apollo, to whom the laurel became sacred. This tragedy came about because her brother was Hypseus and her sister was Stilbe. Stilbe became by Apollo the mother of Lapithes and Centaurus, and the god was therefore brother-in-law to Daphne. During his visits to Stilbe he became attracted to Daphne. He tried to seduce her, which she rejected. Finally, he chased her in order to rape her. She prayed to her father (or to Gaia some authors say) to save her. She was changed into the laurel tree. From that time on, the laurel tree was sacred to Apollo. Every ninth year the Delphians sent to Tempe a procession of well-born youths. Their leader plucked a branch of laurel and brought it back to Delphi. On this occasion a solemn festival, in which the inhabitants of the neighbouring regions took part, was celebrated in Tempe in honour of Apollo Tempeites.
The final Daphne mentioned was a daughter of the Ladon River in Elis (there is also a Ladon River in Arcadia). She was extremely beautiful, and Leucippus, the son of Oenomaus, king of Pisa, wanted to marry her. She would have nothing to do with males, and preferred to hunt with her female companions. He dressed up as a woman and befriended her. One day after hunting they thought to go for a skinny dip in the River Ladon and stripped Leucippus in spite of his attempts to avoid it. On seeing he was a man they killed him with their spears.

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"Panic" or "Fear". Follower of the Greek god of war. Son of Ares and Aphrodite. His siblings were Anteros, Enyo, Eros, Harmonia, Phobos and Terror (Pallor). Deimos and Phobos accompanied Ares in battle.

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One of the Greek Graiae, guardians of the Gorgons. Daughter of Phorkys and Ceto, she was the sister of Enyo and Pephredo. The three Graiae collectively had one eye and one tooth, which they shared among themselves.

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Greek mother and corn (grain) goddess associated with the earth, vegetation and agriculture. She is also a goddess of death, as shown by the story of Persephone. Daughter of Cronos and Rhea. Sister of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades and Hestia. Mother of Persephone by Zeus, and of Plutos by Iason. Demeter is particularly prominent in the Greek legend of the abduction of her daughter Persephone (Kore) by the underworld god Hades. Distraught at her loss, Demeter neglected her duties as a vegetation deity while she searched for her daughter. Fearing catastrophe, the gods intervened, and Hades agreed that Persephone would be returned provided that she had tasted nothing while in the underworld. However, Persephone had tasted a pomegranate. As a result, she was released only on condition that she should spend three months of each year in the underworld with Hades, the rest in the world of the living. The three months spent in Hades are believed to coincide with the three dry summer months in Greece. This legend formed the basis of an important Greek fertility cult, known as the Eleusinian Mysteries after the famous cult centre at Eleusis. Demeter was also honoured in the feast of the Thesmophoria, a fertility rite from which men were excluded and whose rites were a carefully guarded secret. She was depicted as a matronly figure, often riding a chariot or seated upon a throne. Her attributes included ears of corn (grain) and a basket filled with flowers, grain and fruit. The pig and the snake were sacred to her.

( Despoena )
"Mistress". An honorific title among the Greeks, notably applied to the goddess of the underworld in Arcadia. We know of no other name for this Arcadian goddess, perhaps proving the secrecy of her rites. She was later identified with Persephone.

( Asteraea )
One of the Greek Horae (Seasons). Also a goddess of justice (Greek Dike). Daughter of Zeus and Themis. Her sisters were the other Horae: Eirene and Eunomia. The main source of information about her is Hesiod. In it she is also called Asteraea. Her name means Justice in Greek. And her sisters names mean Order and Peace. Hesiod wrote that there were several ages on Mankind. The Golden One existed first, the Silver, then Bronze (and Dike hated the bronze one because people were so unjust, so she went to Olympus and refused to come to earth), and several more. Virgil goes on about how wonderful Dike is. Strangely enough there are no stories about her like there are about the other gods.

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Probable origin as ancient war-god in Argos.

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Cult partner of Zeus of Dodoma, ancient earth-goddess. Given variously as the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys (an Oceanid) or Ouranus and Gaea (a Titan). As an Oceanid she had an affair with Zeus and gave birth to Aphrodite (Homer and Hesiod).

( Dionysos, Dionysius, Roman Bacchus )
Greek god of wine and intoxication. Son of Zeus and Semele (although Demeter is sometimes given as his mother). His consort was Ariadne. His cult is believed to have originated in either Thrace, Phrygia or perhaps Lydia. Hera, out of jealousy, is said to have tricked Semele into asking Zeus to reveal his divinity to her. When Zeus complied, his divine majesty was too great for Semele, who was destroyed by his thunderbolts. Zeus retrieved Dionysus from his lover's dead body and sewed him up in his thigh until he was full-grown. As a result, Dionysus was known as Dithyrambos (twice born). Zeus then sent the infant to be raised by Semele's sister Ino and her husband Athamas at Orchomenus. Hera discovered the child's hiding place, and drove Ino and Athamas mad. However, Hermes spirited the infant away to be raised by the nymphs on the legendary mountain of Nysa. Dionysus was educated in the art of agriculture by Aristaeus. He was credited with having the introduction of the vine and the art of making wine. In some legends he was said to have descended to the underworld to bring back his mother Semele, and this presumably led to his role in Orphism, which equated him with Zagreus. His worship was characterized by orgiastic and often violent rites. His female worshippers, known as Bacchants or Maenads, ran and danced through the woods in a drunken frenzy bearing torches and thyrsus staves (made of vine leaves and ivy). The frenzy was believed to give them occult powers as well as superhuman strength, with which they were said to tear sacrificial animals to pieces. Dionysus' epithets included Bromios (thunderer), Lyaios (deliverer [from cares]), as well as Taurokeros (bull-horned) and Tauroprosopos (bull-faced) in reference to his incarnation as a bull at his feasts. Among his festivals were the Greater and Lesser Dionysia, the Anthesteria, the Agrionia and the Katagogia at Athens. Phallic symbolism was particularly prominent at the Dionysia, indicating that Dionysus was there being worshipped as a fertility god.

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Greek sea goddess. Daughter of Oceanus and Tethys (see also Okeaninai). Doris was the mother of the Nereids.

( Dryades, Hamadryads )
Greek woodland nymphs. Each dryad was associated with a particular tree and died when that tree died.

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There are five of these in Greek Mythology.
1. Dryope was a daughter of Eurytus (some say Dryops) and Iole was her half sister. In any event, Dryope tended her father's flocks on Mount Oeta, playing with the Hamadryades. They taught her how to dance and how to sing hymns to the gods.
When Apollo was wandering he saw her playing with the dryads. He changed himself into a tortoise which all of them played with. When placed into Dryope's lap he changed into a snake, which scared the nymphs away. He then changed into his god form and raped her. She quickly married Andraemon, son of Oxylus. Their son Amphissus was very, very powerful. He build the town of Oeta and a temple to Apollo. While her mother was in it one day the nymphs carried her off, leaving an fountain head of fresh water and a poplar tree grew on the site thereafter. Amphissus deduced what happened and created a temple to the nymphs and refused to allow any woman to enter it, but where athletic games were held.
2. The second Dryope was a nymph and mother of Tarquirus by Faunus (Pan). Her son was a prince slain by Aeneas in his war with Turnus. In spite of the pleas of the mother Aeneas beheaded him and would not allow burial of his corpse.
3. This was a Phoenician mother to Chromis. He was born when his mother strained herself dragging a bull to the altar of Dionysus. Chromis was killed in the battle of the Seven against Thebes by being struck through the mouth with a spear.
4. The fourth was one of the Lemnian women who were around when the Argonauts visited. These women had killed off all their men. When the Argonauts arrived they decided they had been without men long enough.
5.A patronymic name of a daughter of Dryops. This Dryope some claim is the father of Pan by Hermes.