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Aepytus  

Madeleine Jost

Aepytus, name of three heroes connected with Arcadia. (1) Aepytus son of Hippothoüs entered the abaton of *Poseidon at *Mantinea, and was blinded and killed by the god. (2) Youngest grandson of (1), Aepytus son of Cresphontes, king of *Messenia, and of Merope, daughter of Cypselus son of Aepytus (1), was exiled when his father and brothers were murdered, but returned to avenge them and take power. (3) Aepytus son of Elatus reigned over Arcadia and was buried at the foot of Mt. Cyllene.

Article

Aërope  

Jenny March

Aërope, daughter of *Catreus, king of Crete, and given by her father to *Nauplius (2) to be sold overseas. She married *Atreus (or, in some versions, Pleisthenes) and gave birth to *Agamemnon and *Menelaus (1). While married to Atreus, she committed adultery with his brother Thyestes, to whom she secretly gave the golden lamb which allowed him to claim the throne. But *Zeus expressed disapproval by reversing the course of the sun (Eur.

Article

Aesepus  

Aesepus, god of the Mysian river of that name, Hesiod, Theog.342.

Article

Aethra  

Herbert Jennings Rose and Jenny March

Aethra, in mythology daughter of *Pittheus, king of Troezen, and mother of *Theseus by *Aegeus. Since Theseus was often said to be son of *Poseidon, various explanations were given: Aethra was sent by *Athena (hence called Apaturia, ‘the Deceitful’) to the island of Hiera or Sphaeria, where Poseidon came to her (Paus. 2. 33. 1); Poseidon visited her the same night as Aegeus (Apollod. 3. 15. 7, Hyg. Fab. 37. 1); it was a tale invented by Pittheus to save her reputation (Plut. Thes. 6). In the Iliad (3. 144) she is mentioned as waiting-maid to *Helen; a story as old as the *Epic Cycle (Iliu Persis fr. 4 Davies) and illustrated on the chest of *Cypselus (Paus. 5. 19. 3) says that she was carried off by the *Dioscuri when they came to rescue Helen from her abduction by Theseus (Apollod. 3. 10. 7, Epit.

Article

Emily Kearns

Aetiology in religion and mythology refers to an explanation, normally in narrative form (hence ‘aetiological myth’), of a practice, epithet, monument, or similar. Typically such explanations elucidate something known in the contemporary world by reference to an event in the mythical past; they are thus related to the traditions of first inventors (see Culture-bringers) and are quite often found in connexion with etymologies. Comparative evidence suggests that many aetiologies in the ancient world will have been of popular origin, while others could derive from the priestly traditions of individual cults, but it is very likely also that some literary aetiologies represent authorial inventions rather than pre-existing accounts. Aetiological accounts are frequent in classical literature. Implicit in a few Homeric passages (e.g. the tombs of *Sarpedon [Il. 16.666–83] and Phrontis [Od. 3.278–85]), they are seen in more developed form in *Hesiod, notably in the story of *Prometheus’ attempt to deceive *Zeus, explaining the unequal division of sacrificial meat between gods and humans.

Article

Michael H. Jameson

Relatively isolated, after the Archaic period Aetolia had the reputation of a rough and violent region. In cult the massive conflagration of live birds and wild animals for Artemis Laphria at *Patrae (originally at Calydon, Paus. 7. 18. 8–13) has seemed to characterize Aetolian barbarism. But archaeological evidence permits a more temperate assessment. Aetolian religion had, none the less, some distinctive, conservative features. *Artemis is a great goddess, with exceptionally comprehensive concerns, including human and natural fertility, while her male partner, usually *Apollo, is a lesser figure. This has been taken to be a continuation of a bronze age pattern. There are important early temples in pairs, a larger one usually for the goddess and a smaller one for her companion, at Calydon, Taxiarchis (the modern site name), *Callipolis, and *Thermum, where alone Apollo is more prominent. At Calydon *Dionysus is associated with this pair, and he is important in local myth. *Zeus is relatively insignificant, *Poseidon unknown.

Article

Aetolus  

W. M. Murray

Aetolus, eponym of the Aetolians. *Endymion, king of *Elis, had three sons: Paeon, Epeius, and Aetolus. He set them to race at Olympia, promising the kingship to the winner. Epeius won, hence the ancient name Epeii for the people of the district. Paeon left the country and gave his name to the district of Paeonia. When Aetolus was forced to leave Elis because of a blood-feud, he went to the country of the *Curetes and gained control of the region which thereafter took his name (Paus.

Article

Herbert Jennings Rose and Jenny March

Agamemnon, in mythology son of *Atreus (or, occasionally, of Atreus' son Pleisthenes), brother of *Menelaus (1), and husband of *Clytemnestra; king of *Mycenae, or *Argos (1), and, in Homer, commander-in-chief of the Greek expedition against Troy, taking with him 100 ships, the largest single contingent (Il. 2. 569–80). He had a son, *Orestes, and three daughters, Chrysothemis, Laodice, Iphianassa (Il. 9.145); *Iphigenia, whom Homer does not mention, seems to be a later substitution for Iphianassa, as does *Electra (3) for Laodice (Xanthus, fr. 700 PMG).Homer depicts Agamemnon as a man of personal valour, but lacking resolution and easily discouraged. His quarrel with *Achilles, who withdrew in anger and hurt pride from battle when Agamemnon took away his concubine *Briseis, supplies the mainspring of the Iliad's action, with Achilles' refusal to fight leading to tragedy. The Odyssey (1.

Article

Aganippe, in mythology, daughter of the river-god Permessus (Paus. 9. 29. 5: spelling ‘Ter-’), nymph of the spring of that name on *Helicon (Callim. fr. 696 Pf.), sacred to the *Muses.

Article

Agapenor (Ἀγαπήνωρ), in mythology, leader of the Arcadian contingent against Troy (Il. 2. 609); son of *Ancaeus. On the way back from Troy he arrived at Cyprus (Lycoph. 479 ff.), where he founded *Paphos and a temple of *Aphrodite and settled (Paus. 8. 5. 2).

Article

Robert Parker

Agathos Daimon (Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων), ‘good god/destiny/fortune’. He is particularly closely associated with the proper use of *wine (cf. modern toasts such as ‘cheers’, ‘good luck’): he received small libations of unmixed wine after meals, and in *Boeotia sacrifice was made to him before the new vintage was broached. But the idea expressed in his name could also be understood more broadly, as is clear from the later-attested practice of dedicating houses and small temples to him, often in association with Agathe Tyche (Good Luck); like other protective figures he was sometimes represented as a *snake.

Article

A. Schachter

When his daughter, *Europa, disappeared, he sent his sons—*Phoenix (1), Cilix, and *Cadmus—to find her. They failed (*Zeus having abducted her to Crete), but founded respectively the Phoenician and Cilician peoples and Boeotian *Thebes (1) (Apollod. 3. 1. 1, with Frazer's notes).

Article

Emily Kearns

Daughter of the Athenian king *Cecrops, Aglaurus makes her best-known appearance in myth and art alongside *Pandrosus and Herse; disobeying *Athena's instructions, the sisters opened the chest where the child *Erichthonius was kept, and what they saw caused them to hurl themselves off the Acropolis to their deaths. But there are clear signs that Aglaurus' origins are separate from her sisters. She had an independent sanctuary at the east end of the Acropolis, and unlike Pandrosus she was linked more closely with adolescents and young fighters (the *ephēboi) than with babies. Her divine connections cover both *Ares, by whom she had a daughter Alcippe (see halirrhothius), and Athena, being associated especially with the goddess's festival, the *Plynteria. The name Aglauros or Agraulos is also sometimes given as that of the wife of Cecrops.

Article

Michael H. Jameson

The agriculture of Greece in the historical period shared the basic cultigens and techniques of most of the other contemporary civilizations of the Mediterranean. Life was sustained by barley and wheat, sown mostly in the autumn as field crops dependent on rainfall between autumn and spring. Hulled barley (two- and six-row) and hulled wheat (emmer and einkorn), introduced to the Aegean from the near east in the neolithic period, remained important crops. Naked wheats, especially tetraploid, durum wheat, evolved in the first millennium bce, but hexaploid bread wheat, better in colder climates, was imported from the north shores of the Black Sea. Cultivation with a simple wooden plough (ard), sometimes tipped with iron, to break up the surface of the soil for receiving seeds in autumn, is treated as normal by ancient sources but recently doubts have arisen as to whether smallholders could produce enough to feed a pair of plough-oxen in addition to their own households. For them hand cultivation by spade and hoe must have been common (see agricultural implements).

Article

Aias  

Herbert Jennings Rose and Jenny March

Aias (Αἴας, Lat. Aiax)(1) Son of *Telamon (1), king of *Salamis (1), hence Aias Telamonius, and also known as the Great(er) Ajax. He brought twelve ships from Salamis to Troy (Il. 2.557). In the Iliad he is of enormous (πελώριος) size, head and shoulders above the rest (3.226–229), and the greatest of the Greek warriors after *Achilles (2.768–789). His stock epithet is “bulwark (ἔρκος) of the Achaeans,” and his characteristic weapon a huge shield of seven-fold ox-hide. He clearly has the better of *Hector in a duel (7.181–305) after which the heroes exchange gifts, Aias giving Hector a sword-belt in return for a sword; and he is at his memorable best when with unshakeable courage he defends the Greek wall and then the ships (see especially 15.676–688, 727–746, 16.101–111). He is also a member of the Embassy to Achilles, when he gives a brief but effective appeal to Achilles on friendship's grounds (9.624–642). At *Patroclus's funeral games he draws a wrestling match with *Odysseus, strength against cunning (23.

Article

Aion  

Robert Parker

Was for late antiquity the personification and god of indefinitely extending time. In early Greek αἰών means ‘life’ (often in the sense of ‘vital force’), ‘whole lifetime’, ‘generation’. It was perhaps through application to the kosmos, the lifetime of which is never-ending, that the word acquired the sense of eternity (cf. Pl. Ti. 37d; Arist. Cael. 279a23–8). There is no good evidence for cult of Aion in the Classical or Hellenistic periods. The transition from philosophy to religious practice is first suggested by a statue of Aion dedicated at *Eleusis (at some time in the 1st cent. bce or ce) by three brothers ‘for the power of Rome and continuation of the mysteries’ (Syll.3 1125): Aion is celebrated as ‘ever remaining by divine nature the same’ and closely linked with the single unchanging kosmos. Numerous developments occurred in the imperial period: Aion was identified with the power ruling the kosmos (so regularly in the Corpus Hermeticum, and sometimes in magical papyri, see magic), with the sun (magical papyri), perhaps with the eternity of Rome and the emperors (see aeternitas), and much else besides; in a festival at *Alexandria (1), probably of late foundation, an image was brought out of the inner sanctuary of the Koreion, with the announcement that ‘the Maiden has brought forth Aion’ (Epiph.

Article

Aither  

Herbert Jennings Rose

Aither (Αἰθήρ), personification of the purer upper stratum of air (approximately the stratosphere), next to or identical with the sky; son of Erebus and Night (see nyx) (Hes., Theog. 124–5); of *Chaos and Darkness (Hyg. Fab. pref. I); husband of Day and of Earth (ibid. 2–3). See also tartarus.

Article

Alastor  

Herbert Jennings Rose, B. C. Dietrich, and Alan A. D. Peatfield

Alastor, avenging deity or *daimōn, typically pursuing (there may be an etymological connexion with ἐλαύνειν, the form ἐλάστερος being also found) and punishing a killer or his kin. Similar words are alitērios, prostropaios, and palamnaios, which can often be applied indifferently to killer, victim, and avenger, the common factor being an act causing pollution. Hence we also find alastōr as a common term of abuse meaning ‘scoundrel’ or ‘wretch’ (Dem. 18. 296, 19. 305). Yet alastōr, its cognates and similar words can also appear as epithets of *Zeus, expressing a deity with both punitive and purificatory aspects; and other superhuman powers with very comparable functions are the *Erinyes.In tragedy, the alastōr exacts punishment for murder by causing new bloodshed and ensuring continuity of guilt as in the successive generations of *Atreus' family. After killing her husband *Agamemnon, *Clytemnestra identifies with ‘the ancient bitter avenger (alastōr)’ of *Atreus (Aesch.

Article

Alan H. Griffiths

Alcathous, son of *Pelops and *Hippodamia, was exiled from his homeland for fratricide; finding that the kingship of *Megara was on offer to whoever could kill the ferocious lion of Cithaeron, he claimed the prize (keeping the beast's tongue as proof, like *Peleus). He subsequently built the city's walls with help from *Apollo and was honoured with memorial games as a founding hero (Pind. Isthm. 8. 74). See Paus. 1. 41 f. and the account of the local historian *Dieuchidas (FGrH 485 F 10, from schol. Ap. Rhod. 1. 516–18). An epigram on an important 5th cent. bce casualty list, found at Athens in 1995 but not yet fully published, mentions a battle between cavalry and infantry fought ‘by the walls of Alcathous’, i.e. Megara.

Article

Ken Dowden

Alcestis, in mythology, daughter of *Pelias, wife of Admetus king of *Pherae (Thessaly), who is prepared to die in his place.Pelias promised Alcestis to whoever could yoke a lion and boar to a chariot (Apollod. 1. 9. 15). Admetus was assisted in this feat by his lover (Soph. fr. 851 Radt) Apollo (cf. *Poseidon, *Pelops, and *Hippodamia), who had been punished by serfdom to Admetus for killing the *Cyclopes (Hes. Catalogus mulierum frs. 51–7 M–W) or the Pythian snake. But at his marriage Admetus forgets to sacrifice to *Artemis and finds the bridal chamber full of snakes. On *Apollo's advice he appeases Artemis and obtains from the Fates the concession that someone may die in his place. In the event, only Alcestis will, but Kore (*Persephone) sends her back from death or (in tragedy) *Heracles rescues her by wrestling with Death (*Thanatos).