Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

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of Hades. He is generally described as having three heads, sometimes as having fifty.
Snakes covered his body instead of hair. None from the world of the living could pass
him but by appeasing him with a certain cake, composed of medicated and soporific
ingredients. (Virg. JEn. vi. 420.)

To seize and bring up this monster was assigned to Hercules as one of his labors.

(h) Scylla and Charybdis are the names, the former of a rock on the Italian shore, in
the strait between Sicily and the main land, and the latter of a whirlpool or strong eddy
over against it on the Sicilian side. The ancients connected a fabulous story with each
name. — Scylla was originally a beautiful woman, but was changed by Circe into a
monster, the parts below her waist becoming a number of dogs incessantly barking,
while she had twelve feet and hands, and six heads with three rows of teeth. Terrified
at this metamorphosis, she threw herself into the sea, and was changed into the rocks
which bear her name.— Charybdis was a greedy woman, who stole the oxen of Her-
cules, and for that offence was turned into the gulf or whirlpool above mentioned.

Cf. Firgil, Mn. iii. 420 ss.— Ovid, Metam. xiv. 66.— Propert. iii. II.— Hyginus, fab. 199.

(0 The Sphinx was the offspring of Orthos and Chimsera, or of Typhon and Echidna ;'
a monster having the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a dog, the tail of a
serpent, the wings of a bird, the paws of a lion, whh a human voice. This monster
infested the neighborhood of Thebes, proposing enigmas and devouring the inhabhants
who could not explain them. At length one of the enigmas, in which she demanded
what animal it was which walked on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three
at night, was solved by CEdipus : he said that the animal was man, who in the morning
of life creeps upon his hands and feet, in middle age walks erect, and in the evening
of his days uses a staff". On hearing this solution, the Sphinx instantly destroyed
herself.

In Plate VIII. are given two images of the Sphinx. One is without wings ; having a peculiar
Egyptian head-dress; from a sculptured monument given by Boissard. The other is from an
engraved gem, given by MafTei; having the calathus on her head, and the sistrum in her paw.

Representations of the Sphinx are very commo)i anioni: Eg}'pfian monuments. A very celebrated colossal statue of a Sphinx yet
remans near the pyramids. It is cut in the solid lock, and is 125 feet in length.— CtarAe's Travels, pt. li. sect. 2. ch. 4.—Denon'i
Travels (vol. i. p. 55. Lond. 1S04).— £ond. Quart. Rev. xix. 193, 403 ss.

(k) The Griffon (Tpvip) was an imaginary animal, said to be produced from a lion and an
eagle, and supposed to watch over mines of gold and whatever was hidden. Its image is some-
times found on ancient medals ; the upper part resembling an eagle, the lower part a lion.

Cf. Virgil,Ec\.\Vn. 21.— Herodotus, iii. l\6.— Pliny, Hist. Nat. x. 49.— .5. F. Grafen vo7i Fdtheim, Von den Greifen der Alten.
Helmst. 1799. 8.

(Z) In the Greek mythology Typhon is ranked among the Giants ; by some considered to be the-
same as Tijphmns (cf. J 98); by others distinguished from him; said to have been produced from
the earth by Juno's striking it; described as having a hundred heads like those of a dragon. —
In Egyptian mythology the monster called Typhon holds an important place, being considered as
the cause of all evil, "the Egyptian devil." (^Fosbroke.) He is described and represented in va-
rious ways; sometimes as with a hundred dragon heads; sometimes as a wolf; sometimes as a
crocodile, and as uniting the tail of a crocodile with the head and fore-legs of the hippopotamus,
as seen in our Plate VIII.



IV. — Mythical History of the Heroes.



§ 118. In Grecian story three periods are distinguished even by the ancients :
the unknown, o.^rfKov, of which no historical monuments remained to make known
the state of society ; the fabulous, [xv^ixov, of which the accounts left are mingled
with manifold fictions; and the historical, latoptxbv, of which a genuine and
trustworthy history is recorded. The first extends to the deluge of Deucalion,
the second to the introduction of the Olympiad into chronology, and the third
mrough the subsequent times. To the second of these periods belonged the
Heroes, as they are called, and it is on that account often styled the heroic age.
These personages are supposed to have possessed extraordinary powers of body
and mind, and distinguished merit is ascribed to them as having founded cities



p. II HEROES. PERSEUS. 133

or countries, improved their manners and morals, or otherwise exalted or de-
fended them.

§ 119. Grateful sensibility to the merits of ancestors and progenitors was a
most common cause of the sort of deification with which these heroes were
publicly honored after death ; and the disposition towards this grateful remem-
brance was quickened and sustained by oral traditions respecting their deeds,
which were much adorned and exaggerated by the poets. Hence it came, that
most of the heroes were at last viewed as sons of gods, and often of Jupiter
himself. The veneration for the heroes was however less sacred and less uni-
versal than the worship of the gods. To the latter, important festivals were
established, regular priests ordained, appropriate temples erec*^ed, and public
solemn sacrifices offered. The heroes, on the other hand, received only an
annual commemoration at their tombs, or in the vicinity, when offerings and
libations were presented to them. Sometimes, ho'vever, the respect paid them
exceeded these limits, and they were exalted to the rank and honors of the
gods. The introduction of solemnities in memory of heroes is ascribed to
Cadmus.

Cf. Firg. JEa. iii. SOl.—Sallier, in the Hist, de VAcad. da Iivcr. vol. iv. p. 299.

§ 120. The heroes of the Greeks were of different ranks. Some were viewed
as a sort of household deities, such as after their mortal existence watched over
their families and friends and were honored and worshiped only by them.
Others, whose services while they lived were of a more extended character,
were worshiped by w^hole states and tribes, as demi-gods, and sometimes had
their appropriate festivals and mysteries, and even temples and priests. To
such was ascribed a more general superintendence of human affairs. It is the
latter class that we are here to notice particularly, as they were the most illus-
trious, and their worship was not limited to the Greeks, but was adopted also
among the Romans. Of these only the principal can be mentioned, in doing
which the order of time will be followed.

§ 121. The Giants and Titans (§ 97) might correctly be ranked among the
Heroes, and regarded as the most ancient. To the same class, too, belong
Inachus, founder of the kingdom of Argos ; his son Phorotieus, to whom various
merits were ascribed ; and Ogyges, a king of Bceotia, memorable from the flood
which occurred in his reign. This rank also was enjoyed, especially among
their respective people and tribes, by Cecrops, founder of the Attic state; Deu-
calion, a Thessalian prince, who with his wife Pyrrha escaped the general flood
that happened in his times ; Amphidyon, author of the celebrated council or
confederation of the early Grecian states; Cadmus, who came from Phoenicia
to Greece, and contributed so much to enlighten and improve the people (cf. P.
IV. §34; Z)a«aus, to whom the kingdom of Argos was indebted for its advance-
ment; Bellerophon, who was said to have destroyed the monster Chimaera, and
to have performed other exploits; Pe/o/?s, king in Elis, from whom Pelopon-
nesus took its name, as his descendants occupied that peninsula ; and the two
princes of Crete by the name of Minos, one celebrated as a lawgiver, the other
as a warrior.

Some writers argue ag-iinst the existence of two individuals by the name of Minos. — See HoclCs Kreta. Gotting. IS23. 3 vols. 8.

§ 122. Perseus was one of the most distinguished of the early heroes. He
was the son of Jupiter and Danae, educated by Polydectus on the island Se-
riphus. His chief exploit was the destruction of the gorgon Medusa, whose
head he struck off with a sword given to him by Vulcan. From the blood
that fell, sprang the winged horse Pegasus, on which Perseus afterwards passed
over many lands.

1 u. 0{ his subsequent achievements, the most remarkable were his changing king
Atlas into a high rock or mountain, by means of Medusa's head, and his deliverance
of Andromeda, when bound and exposed to be devoured by the sea-monster. In con-
nection with the latter adventure he also changed into stone Phineus, who contended
with him for the possession of Andromeda. He inflicted the same afterwards upon
Polydectes tor ill treatment towards Danae. To Perseus is ascribed the invention of
the discus or quoit, whh which he inadvertently occasioned the death of his grandfather
AcrLsijs. Finally he founded the kingdom of Mycenas. After his assassination by

M



ISi GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHOLOGY.

Megapenthes, ne was placed among tne constellations, and several temples were
erected to him. besides a monument between Argos and Mycenae. (Cf. Ov. Met. iv.
603. V. 1-350.)'

2. The fables respecting Perseus are by some considered as a modification of the story of the
Persian Mithras (cf $ 35), and a piece of ancient sculpture on one of the gates of the citadel
of Mycena3 has been thought to confirm the analogy. — Creuzer, Syuibolik. — Oell, Itinerary of
Greece.

3. Atlas, whom on account of his refusing hospitality to Perseus, the latter is said
to have changed into a mountain, is described as the son of Japetus and the king of
Mauretania. He owned numerous flocks of sheep and beautiful gardens abounding
with citrons and oranges. His seven daughters, renowned for beauty and wisdom,
were called Atlantides from their father, and Hesperides from their mother Hesperis.
The gardens called the gardens of the Hesperides were said to be guarded by a dread-
ful dragon that never slept. The name of Atlas was given to the chain of mountains
in that part of Africa, and to the ocean on the west. Whether from reference to the
height of those mountains or to the astronomical researches of the king, Atlas is said
to have supported the heavens ; and accordingly artists have represented him as bear-
ing an immense sphere on his shoulders.

Thus he is seen in the Sup. Plate 22. On some monuments, Hercules is represented in a similar way ; because, as is said, he eased
Atlas of his burden— Cf. Ogle, Ant. Expl. plate 35.

§ 123. Of all the Grecian heroes, no one obtained such celebrity as Her-
cules, son of Jupiter and Alcmena. Wonderful strength was ascribed to him
even in his infantile years. Eurystheus king of Mycense imposed upon him
many difficult enterprises, which he carried through with success ; particularly
those, which are called the twelve labors of Hercules. These were : to kill the
Nemaean lion ; to destroy the Lern^an hydra ; to catch alive the Stag with
golden horns; to catch the Erymanthean boar; to cleanse the stables of Au-
gias ; to exterminate the birds of lake Stymphalis ; to bring alive the wild bull
of Crete; to seize the horses of Diomedes ; to obtain the girdle of Hippolyta,
queen of the Amazons ; to destroy the monster Geryon ; to plunder the garden
of Hesperides, guarded by a sleepless dragon; and to bring from the infernal
world the three-headed dog Cerberus.

These various exploits v/ere often made the theme of description and allusion in the poets.
The first is detailed in the 25th Idvl of Theocritus. The twelve labors are described in 12 verses
in the 2d Chiliad of Tietzes (cf. P."V. $ 81).— The story of Hercules strangling the serpents while
an infant is given in the 24th Idyl of Theocritus.

§ 124 u. Many other exploits were ascribed to him, by which he gave proof of his ex-
traordinary strength, and exhibited himself as an avenger and deliverer of the oppressed.
Such were, his slaying the robber Cacus, so much dreaded in Italy ; the deliverance of
Prometheus, bound to a rock ; the killing of Busiris and Antaeus ; the contest with
Achelous ; and the rescue of Alceste from the infernal world. Less honorable was his
love of Omphale queen of Lydia, by which he sank into the most unworthy effemi- .
nacy. His last achievement was the destruction of the centaur Nessus. Nessus dying
gave his poisoned tunic toDejanira; Hercules afterwards receiving it from her, and
putting it on, became so diseased that he cast himself in despau- upon a funeral pile on
mount CEta.

The worship of Hercules soon became universal, and temples were erected to his
honor, numerous and magnificent. He received a great many surnames and epithets
from his exploits and from the places of his worship. Hercules and his labors afforded
the artists of ancient times abundant materials to exercise their ingenuity in devices, and
they very often employed them.

Tno of the most celebrated antique statues represent Hercules ; the Torso, or Herculese Belvidere, and the Herculet Farnese : cf.
E IV. § 1S6. 6, 7. The latter represents him leaning upon his club, as it were after his labors. A view of it is given in Plate XLIV.
65. 6, copied from Winckelmann. An enjrwing of the same is given in the Sup. Plate 22. The other representation in this Plate
shows the infant Hercules strangling the serpent ; from an antique sculpture.

For other principal representations of Hercules, see Montfaucon, Ant. Expl. T. i. pi. 123. 141, and Ogle's Ant. Expl. No. 31-10.—
See also Laur. Be^eri, Hercules Ethnicorum, ex. var antiq. reliquiis delineatus. Col. March. 1705. M.—Heynii Not. ad Apollodor.
p. 325 — /. GurlitVs Fragment, d. archsol. Abhandl. Ub. Hercules. Magd. ISOO. i.—Ph. BuHmanv, Ober d. Mythos des Herakles.
Berl. ISIO. S.—Dupuis, Orig. de tous les cult. vol. ii.— Respecting the ancient writers on the Mythol. of Hercules, see MUUer''s Hist,
and Antiq. of Dor. Race. Oxf. 1S30. vol. i. p. 523.

Among the various solutions of the story of Hercules, there is one which very ingeniously applies the account of his twelve labors
tc the passage of the sun through the twelve signs of the Zodiac. A view of this is given in Anthaii's Lempriere.

§ 125. Theseus, a son of ^geus and ^thra, or according to others a son of
Neptune, was excited by the renown of Hercules, to engage in enterprises the
most hazardous, and he successfully accomplished them. Among these was
the extermination of a multitude of robbers and assassins that infested Greece,
and especially the destruction of the Minotaur a terrible monster of Crete, tc



p. n. HEROES. JASON. CASTOR AND POLLUX. 135

which the Athenians had previously been compelled to send seven male youth
and as many young virgins annually, to be devoured by him. By the help of
Ariadne, a daughter of JNIinos, Theseus was enabled to trace the winding of the
labyrinth, in which the monster had his abode, and put him to death. Ariadne
accompanied him on his return to Athens, but he ungratefully deserted her on
the island of Naxos.

^ 126 u. The other principal exploits of Theseus were his descent to the lower world
with his friend Pirithous, his victory over the Amazons {§ 116), whose queen Hippolyta
became his wife, and the assistance he gave Adrastus, king of Argos, against the The-
ban prince Creon. Great praise was awarded to him for improving the legislation and
the whole morals of Athens and Attica ; and yet he was for some time an exile. The
manner of his death is variously related, but it seems by all accounts to have been
caused by violence.

The honor paid to him was accompanied with unusual solemnities ; a superb temple
was consecrated to him at Athens, and a festival was estabhshed called 6fiacia, held on
the eighth day of every month, whh games, and a regular sacrifice termed OyroStov.
Provision was made at the public expense to enable the poor to share in the festivities
of this occasion.

Cf. Plut. in Ki«. Thes.—Diod. Sic L. iv. c 61.— Ou. Metam. vii. 404 ; viii. 152; xii. 210.— Milford's Greece, ch. i. sect. 3.— Foi
a view of the temple of Theseus, see Plate XXL fig. 3.

§ 127. Jason and the Argonauts. One of the most celebrated enterprises of
the heroic ages, one which forms a memorable epoch in the Grecian history, a
sort of separation-point between the fabulous and the authentic, was the Arcro-
nautic expedition. This was a voyage from Greece to Colchis in order to obtain
the golden fleece, conducted by Jason, the son of .^Eson, king of Thessaly.
The undertaking was imposed upon him by his uncle Pelias. He invited the
most illustrious heroes of Greece to unite in the expedition, and among those
who joined him were Hercules, Castor and Pollux, Peleus, Pirithous, and The-
seus. The vessel built for the purpose was named Arrro, which after various
adverse events arrived at ^a, the capital of Colchis. .'Eetes was then king of
Colchis, and promised to Jason the golden fleece only on certain most difficult
conditions.

§ 128. Although Jason fulfilled these conditions, yet ^Eetes was unwilling
to permit him to take the desired booty, and sought to slay Jason and his com-
panions. This purpose was betrayed by Medea, the king's daughter, by whose
assistance and magical art Jason slew the dragon that guarded the fleece, and
seized the treasure. He immediately fled, accompanied by Medea, but was pur-
sued by her father. Medea put to death her brother Absyrtus, cut his corpse
into pieces and strewed them in the way, in order to stop her father's pursuit.
Jason was afterwards faithless to her, and married Creusa, or, as others name
her, Glauce, a daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. Medea took vengeance by
causing the death of Creusa and also of the children she had herself born to
Jason. After death Jason received the worship bestowed on heroes, and had a
temple at Abdera.

See the poems on the Areon. Eiped. by OrpJieus, ApoUomiui Rkodius, and Valerius Flaccits. (Cf. P. V. §§ 48, 73, 376.)— 5anter,
on the Argon. Exped. in Mem. de VJicad. des Insar. vol. iv. p. 54 ; xii. !23; liv. 41.— ffcynii Not. ad ApoUodor. p. 177.— C. P.
Levesque, sur le Retour des Argonauts, in the Mcni. de Vlnslitut, C 1 a s s e d. Sciences Mor. et Pol. vol. iv.

Various explanations have been put upon the story of the Argonauts. One writer thinks the
golden fleece was the raw silk of the East. Hag-er, Pantheon Chinois.— Another thinks the phrase
arose from the habit of collecting gold, washed down from the mountains, by putting sheepskins
in the channel of the streams. Jhtfurd, ch. i. sect. 3. — Bryant (Anal. Anc. Myth.) considers the
whole story as a tradition of the flood.

§ 129. Castor and Pollux, who were among the Argonauts, were twin sons
of Jupiter and Leda, and brothers to Helena. On account of their descent,
they were called Dioscuri (Atoijxot'poc), although, according to some. Castor
was the son of Tyndarus, the husband of Leda. Castor distinguished himself
in the management of horses, and Pollux in boxing and wrestling. The last
exploit of the Dioscuri was their contest with Lynceus and his brother Idas.
Castor was slain by Lynceus, and Lynceus by Pollux: and as Idas was about
to avenge the death of his brother, Jupiter srnote him with lightning. — Pollux
obtained from Jupiter the honors of deification and immortality in conjunction
with his brother Castor. Both were placed among the constellations and re-
presented by the Gemini or twins in the zodiac. Both the Greeks and the



136 GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHOLOGY.

Romans consecrated temples to thera, and they were especially invoked and
worshiped by mariners.

1. They were said to be placed among the marine gods, from having cleared the
Hellespont and the neighboring seas irom pirates. They were invoked as 'A-Trorponoi,
averlers of evil : and wliite lambs were sacrihced to them. — The Romans honored them
especially for services supposed to be received from them in pressing dangers; as in the
battle with the Latins near lake Regillus. They constantly swore by their names ; the
oath used by the women was JEcastor, or by the temple of Castor ; that of the men
was JEdcpol, or by the temple of Pollux.

Representaiions of Castor and Pollux are found particularly on Roman monuments. A fine representation, drawn from a large
gem given by Maffei, is seen in our Sup. Plate 21.

2. The festival called Dioscuria {6ioaKovpia) was in honor of these brothers, celebrated
especially by the Spartans. On this occasion the gifts of Bacchus were very freely
shared. It was amidst the drinking at the feast in honor of Castor and Pollux, which
Alexander held in Bactra, that he madly slew his devoted friend Chtus.' — 'I'his festival
is supposed by some to have had the same origin as the famous mysteries of the Cahiri,
which were celebrated particularly at Samothrace, and were thought to have great effi-
cacy in protecting from shipwreck and storms.

An ancient structure now exists at Salonica, which is supposed to have been a Cabirian Temple : see Plate V.— Of. G. S. Faier,
Mysteries of the Cabiri. Oxf. 1803. 2 vols. S.—Freret, Les Cabires, in the Mem. Acad. Imcr. vol. xxvii. p. 9

$ 130 M. Heroes of the Theban War. In the early history of Greece, the war of
Thebes, which is dated upwards of 1200 years betore Christ, is much celebrated.
Without relating its incidents we shall here only name some of the principal heroes of
the time. Among these were Etiocles and Polynices, the two sons of CEdipus, king
of Thebes, whose own private story was so tragical. The war arose Irom the dissen-
sion of these brothers, who slew each other in a single combat, and were afterwards
honored as demigods. Several famous chiefs, as Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippomedon,
Parthenoj)(Eus, united with Adrastus, king of Argos and father-in-law of Polynices, to
take part in the war. The events connected with it furnished the poets with matter
for numerous tragedies. — The second enterprise against Thebes, ten years later, was
more fortunate in its issue, but less celebrated. It was undertaken by the sons and
descendants of those slain in the first war, and was therefore termed the war of the
'ETiyoioi. The most illustrious of these were Alcmaeon, Thersander, Polydorus, and
Thesimenes.

The Theban war was one of the favarite themes of ancient pnets. Jlntimachvs of Colophon,
a Greek poet, and contemporary with Clioerikis, wrote a poem in iwenty-foiir books on tlie sub-
ject; the fragments have been collected. Cf. P. V. § 19.— Tiie poem of the Latin poet Statius is
still extant. Cf P. V. $ 378.

Cf. Pans. ix. iS.—Apollod. i. i.—Diod. \v.— Gillies, Hist. Greece, ch. u—KcisMlq/'s Mythology.

5 131. Whilst the Thebans and the Argives were involved in contention and calamity, Tanta-
lus, and his descendants the Tantalides,were equally afflicted by various misfortunes, occasioned
by the impiety of this prince, who was said to be a son of .lupiter, and reigned in Lydia. Being
of immortal descent, he was honored with a visit from the gods during an excursion they made
upon earth. In order to prove the divinity and power of his guests, he served u|) among other
meats the limbs of his son Pklops, whom he had cruelly murdered. The gods perceived his
pertidious barbarity, and refused to touch the dish; but Ceres, whom the recent loss of her
daughter had rendered inattentive and melancholy, ate one of the shoulders. In compassion to
the fate of the young prince, Jupiter restored him to life; and instead of the shoulder which
Ceres had devoured, substituted one of ivory, which possessed the property of healing by its
touch all kinds of diseases.

As a punishment for his cruelty, Tantalus was condemned in hell Q 34) with an insatiable
hunger and thirst in the midst of abundance.— He had a daughter Niobe, who fell a sacrifice to
her intolerable vanity. She was married to Amphion, a prince of Thebes in Boeotia ; and having
a great number of children, she had the temerity to treat Latona, who had only two, with over-
bearing arrogance. Provoked at this insolence, Latona applied to Apollo and Diana, who ($ 38)
destroyed all her boasted offspring except Chloris (cf. $ 3S). Niobe, after the death of her
children, returned to Lydia, and ended her days near Mt. Sipylus ; according to the fables, she
was so shocked at her misfortune, that she was changed into a rock. " On Mt. Sipylus, accord-
ing to Paiisanias, was to be seen a rock which from a distance resembled a woman in deep me-
lancholy, though near at hand it had not the most remote resemblance to one."

Pelops quitted Phrygia and repaired to Elis, where he became enamored of Hippodamia, the



Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 30 of 153)