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date: 03 October 2022



  • Ken Dowden


Leda, mother of the *Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux/Polydeuces) and *Helen (as well as *Clytemnestra and the minor figures Timandra and Phylonoe), wife of *Tyndareos, daughter of King Thestius of *Pleuron (Aetolia). She is a mythic not a cult figure. Genealogically, she supports the linking of the Tyndarids with *Aetolia, as found in the earliest genealogical authors: see Hes. Cat. fr. 23a M-W, and *Asius, fr. 6 in West, GEF 256. This was reinforced by the hero-shrine of the eponym Pleuron in *Sparta (Paus. 3.13.8). Most striking is the myth that *Zeus in the form of a swan copulated with Leda, who subsequently produced an egg containing Helen (Eur.Hel. 17 ff., 257–9) and Polydeuces (Apollod. 3. 10. 7), an egg displayed in Sparta (Paus. 3. 16. 1). Castor, thus the mortal twin, was born to Tyndareos on the same night. In a different version, stemming from the cult of *Nemesis at *Rhamnus (*Attica) and its local Helen, Nemesis transforms herself to escape Zeus and finally in the form of a goose is fertilized by Zeus in the form of a swan (in the Cypria fr.


  • Greek Literature
  • Greek Myth and Religion

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