Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ixion

In Greek mythology, Ixion (/ɪkˈsaɪ.ən/ ik-sy-ən; Greek: Ἰξίων, gen.: Ἰξίωνος) was king of the Lapiths, the most ancient tribe of Thessaly, and a son of Ares, or Leonteus, or Antion and Perimele, or the notorious evildoer Phlegyas, whose name connotes "fiery". Peirithoös was his son (or stepson, if Zeus were his father, as the sky-god claims to Hera in Iliad 14)

Ixion married Dia, a daughter of Deioneus (or Eioneus) and promised his father-in-law a valuable present. However, he did not pay the bride price, so Deioneus stole some of Ixion's horses in retaliation. Ixion concealed his resentment and invited his father-in-law to a feast at Larissa. When Deioneus arrived, Ixion pushed him into a bed of burning coals and wood. These circumstances are secondary to the fact of Ixion's primordial act of murder; it could be accounted for quite differently: in the Greek Anthology (iii.12), among a collection of inscriptions from a temple in Cyzicus is an epigrammatic description of Ixion slaying Phorbas and Polymelos, who had slain his mother, Megara, the "great one".

Ixion went mad, defiled by his act; the neighboring princes were so offended by this act of treachery and violation of xenia that they refused to perform the rituals that would cleanse Ixion of his guilt (see catharsis). Thereafter, Ixion lived as an outlaw and was shunned. By killing his father-in-law, Ixion was reckoned the first man guilty of kin-slaying in Greek mythology. That alone would warrant him a terrible punishment.

However, Zeus had pity on Ixion and brought him to Olympus and introduced him at the table of the gods. Instead of being grateful, Ixion grew lustful for Hera, Zeus's wife, a further violation of guest-host relations. Zeus found out about his intentions and made a cloud in the shape of Hera, which became known as Nephele (nephos "cloud") and tricked Ixion into coupling with it. From the union of Ixion and the false-Hera cloud came Centauros, who mated with the Magnesian mares on Mount Pelion, Pindar told, engendering the race of Centaurs, who are called the Ixionidae from their descent.

Ixion was expelled from Olympus and blasted with a thunderbolt. Zeus ordered Hermes to bind Ixion to a winged fiery wheel that was always spinning. Therefore, Ixion is bound to a burning solar wheel for all eternity, at first spinning across the heavens, but in later myth transferred to Tartarus. Only when Orpheus played his lyre during his trip to the Underworld to rescue Eurydice did it stop for a while.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Centaurs

A centaur (/ˈsɛntɔːr/; Greek: Κένταυρος, Kéntauros, Latin: centaurus), or occasionally hippocentaur, is a mythological creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.

The centaurs were usually said to have been born of Ixion and Nephele (the cloud made in the image of Hera). Another version, however, makes them children of a certain Centaurus, who mated with the Magnesian mares. This Centaurus was either himself the son of Ixion and Nephele (inserting an additional generation) or of Apollo and Stilbe, daughter of the river god Peneus. In the later version of the story his twin brother was Lapithes, ancestor of the Lapiths, thus making the two warring peoples cousins.

Centaurs were said to have inhabited the region of Magnesia and Mount Pelion in Thessaly, the Foloi oak forest in Elis, and the Malean peninsula in southern Laconia.

Another tribe of centaurs was said to have lived on Cyprus. According to Nonnus, they were fathered by Zeus, who, in frustration after Aphrodite had eluded him, spilled his seed on the ground of that land. Unlike those of mainland Greece, the Cyprian centaurs were horned.

There were also the Lamian Pheres, twelve rustic daimones of the Lamos river. They were set by Zeus to guard the infant Dionysos, protecting him from the machinations of Hera but the enraged goddess transformed them into ox-horned Centaurs. The Lamian Pheres later accompanied Dionysos in his campaign against the Indians.

Centaurs subsequently featured in Roman mythology, and were familiar figures in the medieval bestiary. They remain a staple of modern fantastic literature. The centaur's half-human, half-horse composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, both as the embodiment of untamed nature, as in their battle with the Lapiths (their kin), or conversely as teachers, like Chiron.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Greek Underworld

The Greek underworld, in mythology, is an otherworld where souls go after death, and is the original Greek idea of afterlife. At the moment of death the soul is separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, and is transported to the entrance of the Underworld. The Underworld itself is described as being either at the outer bounds of the ocean or beneath the depths or ends of the earth. It is considered the dark counterpart to the brightness of Mount Olympus, and is the kingdom of the dead that corresponds to the kingdom of the gods. Hades is a realm invisible to the living, made solely for the dead.

Rivers
There are five main rivers that are visible both in the living world and the underworld. Their names were meant to reflect the emotions associated with death.

The Styx is generally considered to be one of the most prominent and central rivers of the Underworld and is also the most widely known out of all the rivers. It's known as the river of hatred and is named after the goddess Styx. This river circles the underworld seven times.
The Acheron is the river of pain. It's the one that Charon, also known as the Ferryman, rows the dead over according to many mythological accounts, though sometimes it is the river Styx or both.
The Lethe is the river of forgetfulness. It is associated with the goddess Lethe, the goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion. In later accounts a poplar branch dripping with water of the Lethe became the symbol of Hypnos, the god of sleep.
The Phlegethon is the river of fire. According to Plato, this river leads to the depths of Tartarus.
The Cocytus is the river of wailing.
Oceanus is the river that encircles the world, and it marks the east edge of the underworld, as Erebos is west of the mortal world.

Entrance of the Underworld
In front of the entrance to the underworld live Grief, Anxiety, Diseases and Old Age. Fear, Hunger, Death, Agony, and Sleep also live in front of the entrance, together with Guilty Joys. On the opposite threshold is War, the Erinyes, and Eris. Close to the doors are many beasts, including Centaurs, Gorgons, the Lernaean Hydra, the Chimera, and Harpies. In the midst of all this, an Elm can be seen where false dreams cling under every leaf.

The souls that enter the Underworld carry a coin under their tongue to pay Charon to take them across the river. Charon may make exceptions or allowances for those visitors carrying a certain Golden Bough. Otherwise, Charon is appallingly filthy, with eyes like jets of fire, a bush of unkempt beard upon his chin, and a dirty cloak hanging from his shoulders. Although Charon embarks now one group now another, some souls he keeps at distance. These are the unburied where they can't be taken across from bank to bank if he had not received burial.

Across the river, guarding the gates of the Underworld, is Cerberus. There is also an area where the Judges of the Underworld decide where to send the souls of the person — to Elysium, the Fields of Asphodel, or the Fields of Punishment.

Tartarus
While Tartarus is not considered to be directly a part of the underworld, it is described as being as far beneath the underworld as the earth is beneath the sky. It is so dark that the "night is poured around it in three rows like a collar round the neck, while above it grow the roots of the earth and of the unharvested sea." Tartarus is the place that Zeus cast the Titans along with his father Cronus after defeating them. Homer wrote that Cronus then became the king of Tartarus. While Odysseus does not see them himself, he mentions some of the people within the underworld who are experiencing punishment for their sins.

Fields of Punishment
The Fields of Punishment was a place for those who had created havoc on the world and committed crimes specifically against the gods. Hades himself would make the individual's punishment of eternal suffering based on their specific crime.

Fields of Asphodel
The Asphodel Meadows was a place for ordinary or indifferent souls who did not commit any significant crimes, but who also did not achieve any greatness or recognition that would warrant them being admitted to the Elysian Fields. It was where mortals who did not belong anywhere else in the Underworld were sent.

Vale of Mourning
The Vale of Mourning is where those who were consumed by unhappy love dwell.

Elysium
Elysium was a place for the especially distinguished. It was ruled over by Rhadamanthus, and the souls that dwelled there had an easy afterlife and had no labors. Usually, those who had proximity to the gods were granted admission, rather than those who were especially righteous or had ethical merit. Most accepted to Elysium were demigods or heroes. Heroes such as Cadmus, Peleus, and Achilles also were transported here after their deaths. Normal people who lived righteous and virtuous lives could also gain entrance such as Socrates who proved his worth sufficiently through philosophy.

Isles of the Blessed
The Isles of the Blessed were islands in the realm of Elysium. When a soul achieved Elysium, they had a choice to either stay in Elysium or to be reborn. If a soul was reborn three times and achieved Elysium all three times, then they were sent to the Isles of the Blessed to be sentenced to eternal paradise.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tartarus

Tartarus (/ˈtɑːrtərəs/; Greek: Τάρταρος Tartaros), in ancient Greek mythology, is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. As far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens, Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato in Gorgias (c. 400 BC), souls were judged after death and where the wicked received divine punishment. Like other primal entities (such as the Earth, Night and Time), Tartarus was also considered to be a primordial force or deity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Crius

In Greek mythology, Crius, Kreios or Krios (Ancient Greek: Κρεῖος, Κριός) was one of the Titans in the list given in Hesiod's Theogony, a son of Uranus and Gaia. The least individualized among the Titans he was overthrown in the Titanomachy. M. L. West has suggested how Hesiod filled out the complement of Titans from the core group—adding three figures from the archaic tradition of Delphi, Coeus, and Phoibe, whose name Apollo assumed with the oracle, and Themis. Among possible further interpolations among the Titans was Crius, whose interest for Hesiod was as the father of Perses and grandfather of Hecate, for whom Hesiod was, according to West, an "enthusiastic evangelist".

Consorting with Eurybia, daughter of Earth (Gaia) and Sea (Pontus), he fathered Astraios and Pallas as well as Perses. The joining of Astraios with Eos, the Dawn, brought forth Eosphoros, the other Stars and the Winds.

Joined to fill out lists of Titans to form a total that made a match with the Twelve Olympians, Crius was inexorably involved in the ten-year-long war between the Olympian gods and Titans, the Titanomachy, though without any specific part to play. When the war was lost, Crius was banished along with the others to the lower level of Hades called Tartarus.

Although "krios" was also the ancient Greek word for "ram", the Titan's chthonic position in the Underworld means no classical association with Aries, the "Ram" of the zodiac, is ordinarily made. Aries is the first visible constellation in the sky at the spring season, marking the start of the new year in the ancient Greek calendar. This fact may have implied that Crius was the Titan god of constellations, measuring the duration of the year while his brother Hyperion measures the days and months.