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  • 1. Neil philipMYTHS& LEGENDSEXPLAINEDPreviously published as Annotated Guides: Myths & Legends
  • 2. ContentsIntroduction 6EgyptThe Creation 12Re, the Sun God 14Osiris, Isis, and Horus 16SumeriaThe Epic of Gilgamesh 18IranAhura Mazda and Ahriman 20Greece and RomeGods of Olympus 22Prometheus 24Aphrodite and Ares 26The Rape of Persephone 28Orpheus and Eurydice 30Aphrodite and Adonis 32Cupid and Psyche 34Artemis and Actaeon 36Apollo and Daphne 38King Midas 40Pan and Syrinx 42Zeus and Danaë 44Perseus and Andromeda 46The Tragedy of Oedipus 48The Labors of Hercules 50Jason and the Golden Fleece 52Theseus the Hero 54The Minotaur 56Dionysus and Ariadne 58Leda and the Swan 60The Judgment of Paris 62Odysseus Returns Home 64Dido and Aeneas 66Art Editor Sasha HowardProject Editors Antonia Cunninghamand Fergus DaySenior Art Editor Heather McCarrySenior Managing Editor Anna KrugerDeputy Art Director Tina VaughanProduction Controllers Meryl Silbertand Manjit SihraPicture Researcher Jo WaltonUS Editor Chuck WillsFor Ruth and MichaelFirst published in the United States in 1999This revised edition published in 2007 byDK Publishing375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 1001407 08 09 10 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1MD391 – 05/07Copyright © 1999, 2007 Dorling Kindersley LimitedWithout limiting the rights under copyrightreserved above, no part of this publication maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into aretrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or byany means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording, or otherwise), without the prior writtenpermission of both the copyright owner and theabove publisher of this book. Published in Great Britainby Dorling Kindersley Limited. A catalog record for this book is availablefrom the Library of Congress.ISBN: 978-0-7566-2871-0DK books are available at special discounts whenpurchased in bulk for sales promotions, premiums,fund-raising, or educational use. For details,contact: DK Publishing Special Markets, 375Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014or reproduction by DK India, India and GRB, ItalyPrinted and bound by Toppan Printing Co Ltd, ChinaBellerophonDetail from page 47LONDON, NEW YORK,MELBOURNE, MUNICH, AND DELHIDiscover more atOsiris, Isis, and NephthysDetail from page 17VenusFrom page 32
  • 3. Tristan Kills MordredDetail from page 82Northern EuropeThe Norse Gods 68The World Tree Myth 70Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer 72Lohengrin 74The Story of Väinämöinen 76CelticLord of the Beasts 78The Holy Grail 80Tristan and Iseult 82The Death of Arthur 84West AfricaEshu the Trickster 86The Cosmic Serpent 88The CarribeanThe Voodoo Gods 90North AmericaMountainway 92Lone Man 94Myths of the Arctic Circle 96Central AmericaLegends of Quetzalcoatl 98The Hero Twins 100AustraliaThe Dreaming 102The Killing of Lumaluma 104PolynesiaMaui-of-a-Thousand-Tricks 106IndiaThe Churning of the Ocean 108The Avatars of Vishnu 110Shiva and His Family 112Rama and Sita 114ChinaThe Ten Suns of Heaven 116The Eight Immortals 118JapanThe Sacred Mountain 120Amaterasu Hides Away 122The Greek Gods 124Index 125Acknowledgments 128LumalumaDetail frompage 104Japanese DragonDetail from page 120Voodoo SymbolsDetail from page 91
  • 4. Introduction•What is Myth?The word myth derives from the Greekmythos, signifying “word” or “story.”A myth has different meanings for thebeliever, the anthropologist, the folklorist,the psychologist, the literary critic. Thatis one of myth’s functions—to celebrateambiguity and contradiction. Thereis no more point expecting a myth tooffer a single, clear, consistent messagethan there is in trying to turn one ofShakespeare’s sonnets into plain prose.Like poetry, mythology offers away of understanding the worldthrough metaphor. Stories adapt andchange according to the teller andthe context; myths are not fixed anddogmatic but fluid and interpretive. Myth and TimeMany mythologies start before thedawn of time, with the coming intoconsciousness of a creator god, such asthe Egyptian Re (see p. 12). Re himselfis described as the awareness of anall-encompassing divine being,Nebertcher, the lord without limit.Mythological time, unlike clocktime, is cyclical rather than linear.It presupposes what the writerMircea Eliade called “the myth of theeternal return.” It is set in motionby a particular event—in Egypt,the call of the Benu bird asit alighted upon the firstland. It will come to an endeventually, and the cycle ofcreation will begin again.The mythology ofthe Aztec and Maya, and ofNative American nations suchas the Navajo, describes thisworld as being the fifth one. Forthe Navajo, the first four worlds werebeneath this one, from which humanityclimbed up in the myth of the emergence.For the Aztec, four suns had shone onprevious creations before this, the worldof the sun Nahui Ollin, which is blownacross the sky by the breath of thegod Quetzalcoatl.The Maya believed that this currentcycle of creation began on August 13,3114 bce. Although they projected eventsforward until at least 4772 ce, they didnot think it would continue forever. Theirsacred book, the Chilam Balam, tells us:“All moons, all years, all days, all winds,reach their completion and pass away. Sodoes all blood reach its place of quiet, as itreaches its power and its throne. Measuredwas the time in which they could praisethe splendor of the Trinity. Measuredwas the time in which they could know thesun’s benevolence. Measured was the timein which the grid of the stars would lookdown upon them; and through it, keepingwatch over their safety, the gods trappedwithin the stars would contemplate them.”Even the dualistic philosophy ofZoroastrianism, with its opposing gods ofgood and evil, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman,was set in motion when the god of eternaltime, Zurvan, gave birth to the twin gods.IntroductionIt is in the nature of humankind to tell stories, and at the root of every human culture arethe stories we call myths—stories of the creation of the world and of humankind, of the deedsof gods and heroes, and of the end of time. Such stories explain and justify the world, anddefine our role within creation. Once a civilization has become established, the myths thatformed it may dwindle into superstition or entertainment, but even so, they never losetheir intrinsic power, for the world’s mythologies enshrine all the poetry andpassion of which the human mind is capable. From ancient Egypt to Greeceand Rome, from West Africa to Siberia, from the Hindu concept of Brahmanand the endless cycle of creation to the eternal Dreaming of the AustralianAboriginals, the same themes recur, as humankind engages with the greatmysteries of life and death. The best definition of myth is Maya Deren’s inher book on the Voodoo gods: “Myth,” she writes, “is the facts of the mindmade manifest in the fiction of matter.”The First PeopleThis West African carving shows the world inthe form of a calabash gourd, with the first manand woman and the cosmic serpent. The Fon callthis serpent Aido-Hwedo, and he carried thecreator in his mouth when the world was made.Aido-Hwedo is said to have accompaniedthe first man and woman to earth.
  • 5. Introduction•7Our notion of time,the limited time ofcreation, is merely atrick of Ahura Mazda’sto limit the power ofAhriman. At the end oftime, all will be purified,and—as in Norsemythology—a fresh,new creation will arise.The FloodJust as many mythologies lookforward to the destruction of thisworld in a catastrophe, such as theNorse cataclysm called Ragnarok,so many record a time, within thiscreation, when the gods grew angrywith humankind, and attemptedto destroy them with a flood. Thebiblical story of the deluge is oneof many such accounts, and owes much tothe Sumerian/Babylonian account in theEpic of Gilgamesh, in which the Noahfigure is named Utnapishtim (see p. 19).The ancient Greeks told how Zeustried to destroy mankind with a flood, butPrometheus (see p. 24) warned Deucalionand Pyrrha. Manu was saved from theHindu deluge Vishnu in the form his fishavatar, Matsya (see p. 110). Flood mythscan be found in Peru and in China, amongthe Australian Aboriginals and in manyNative American cultures, including theMandan myth of Lone Man (see p. 94).Even in the 19th century, folklorists couldstill collect in Serbia a cycle of Slavonicmyths about the great flood from whichthe sole survivor Kranyatz was preservedby the trickster god of wine, Kurent.The CreatorOne thing that all mythologies agree on isthat the world was created by the deliberateact of a divine being, and that men andwomen were created especially to live in it.In the Mandan creation myth, FirstCreator and Lone Man send a mudhendown to fetch sand from the bottom of theprimeval flood, in order to make the land.The Ainu of Japan tell how the creatorKamui sent a water wagtail down fromheaven to accomplish the same task (see p.120). According to the Yoruba peoplein West Africa, the world was made whenObatala, the son of the greatsky god Olorun, threw earthfrom a snail shell, and got apigeon and a hen to scatter it.The supreme gods of Africatend, like Olorun, to withdrawfrom their creation leaving themain work to their successors.In the original myth preservedby the priests of the Fon sky-cult, it is the androgynous deityThe Eternal Wheel of TimeThis Aztec calendar stone, foundbeneath the central plaza of MexicoCity, is a wheel of timecommemorating the five worldcreations, of which the latest is thecurrent world. The fifth sun,Nahui Ollin, was made by the godsat Teotihuacan (just north ofmodern Mexico City), which wasalso the birthplace of the godsthemselves. The stone is not afully-functioning calendar;the complex Aztec calendarwas based on a 52-year cycleknown as the calendarround, which reconciledthe concurrent 260-dayand 365-day years.Noah and the FloodNoah’s ark rides the flood after thebiblical deluge, in a wood-engravingfrom the Nuremberg Bible of 1483.God decided to destroy humanitybecause of its wickedness, but warnedthe pious Noah of the coming flood,and told him to build the ark and takeon board two of every living creature.After the ark had grounded on MountArarat, God sent the rainbow as asymbol of his covenant never again todestroy the creatures he had made.Noah lived to be 950 years old.
  • 6. Introduction•8Nana-Buluku who creates the world, andthen gives it into the keeping of his childrenMawu and Lisa (see pp. 88–89); but Nana-Buluku is now almost forgotten, and thework of creation credited to Mawu.The Ashanti tell how the supreme godOnyankopon (or ’Nyame) used to livenear men, but moved to the top of the skybecause he was constantly annoyed by anold woman who used to knock him withher pestle as she pounded yams in hermortar. When the old woman realized whathad happened, she told all her children togather mortars and pile them on top ofthe other. At last they had a pile thatnearly reached to Onyankopon. Theyonly needed one more mortar. So the oldwoman told them to take the mortar fromthe bottom, and put it on the top. Whenthey did so, the whole pile collapsed,killing them all. So the lesser gods, theabosom, act as intermediaries betweenthe sky god and humanity.Often, as with the Yoruba god of fate,Eshu (see pp. 86–87), such intermediariesmay be tricksters who introduce an elementof chance, play, and humor into humanity’srelationship with the gods. Obatala, thecreator, is hymned by the Yoruba as thefather of laughter, who rests in the sky “likea swarm of bees.” The Mandans believethat First Creator actually turned into thetrickster god Coyote. Such tricksters, whosemischief may lead them into wickedness,are found throughout mythology, from theGreek Dionysus to the Norse Loki to theJapanese Susano (see pp. 58, 69, and 123).But another theme is the Creator’s carefor the beings he has made. It is this carethat leads Vishnu, the Hindu preserverof the world, to take on hismany avatar forms in orderto help humanity in timesof crisis. His final avatar,Kalkin, the white horse, willappear at the end of this era,to usher in a new age.The Great MotherCreator gods tend to bemale, but much of the workof creation may be delegatedto a goddess. For example,among the Keres of theAmerican Southwest, Utsiti,the creator god, who madethe world from a clot of hisown blood, sent his daughterIatiku with her sister to makethe earth fruitful. Iatikusends her son to lead thepeople up into this world,and then Iatiku and hersister sing a creation song,all the while casting seedsand images of their song out of a basketgiven them by Spider Woman (see p. 93).We still talk of “mother earth.” NativeAmericans consider this as a fact. Smohalla,the Wanapam founder of the Dreamerreligion in the mid-19th century, said: “Youask me to plow the ground! Shall I take aknife and tear my mother’s bosom? Thenwhen I die she will not take me to her bosomto rest. You ask me to dig for stone! ShallI dig under her skin for her bones? Thenwhen I die I cannot enter her body to beborn again. You ask me to cut grass and makehay and sell it, and be rich like white men!But how dare I cut off my mother’s hair?”An Anglo-Saxon charm beseeches thefavor of “Erce, Erce, Erce, Mother ofEarth” with similar fervor. Yet, despite theobvious connection between agriculturaland human fertility, the earth is not alwaysVishnu the PreserverVishnu and his wife Lakshmi (or Shri)are shown riding on their mount, thecelestial bird Garuda. Vishnu, the“wide-strider,” measured out the cosmosin three strides. He is regarded as theprotector of the world, and because ofhis compassion for humankind, descendsto earth in various avatar forms, suchas Prince Rama, to fight evil. WheneverVishnu is incarnated, so is Lakshmi, tobe his bride. Here, Garuda is takingthe loving couple to their ownheaven, Vaikuntha.
  • 7. Introduction•9female. The Egyptians, for example,worshiped Geb as god of the earth, andhis sister-bride Nut as the goddess of the sky.Nowhere has worship of the eternalfemale been so strong as in India, wherevarious goddesses are worshiped underthe enveloping spell of Mahadevi, the greatgoddess. Devi is the consort of the godShiva (see pp. 112–13), and is worshiped asbenign Parvati or Uma or as ferocious andvengeful Durga or Kali. Sankara wrote ofher in the 9th century, “Your hands holddelight and pain. The shadow of deathand the elixir of immortal life are yours.”The combination of “delight and pain”is not confined to India. The great goddessof ancient Mesopotamia, variously calledIshtar and Inanna, also combined the rolesof goddess of love and goddess of war.These dual aspects are explored in the Epicof Gilgamesh, in which she first desiresGilgamesh and then, when he rejects her,exacts a terrible revenge (see p. 18).The Egyptian Isis became absorbed intoRoman myth, and it is she who speaks, withthe unmistakable voice of the great goddess,to Lucius, the hero of Apuleius’ novel TheGolden Ass, when he is initiated into hercult: “I am Nature, the universal Mother,mistress of all the elements, primordialchild of time, sovereign of all thingsspiritual, queen of the dead, queen also ofthe immortals, the single manifestation ofall gods and goddesses that are.”Holding the World TogetherIn the Mysteries of Eleusis in ancientGreece, the great goddess formed thecentral focus of Greek religion (seep. 29). These rituals, open only to theinitiated, related to the myth of thegrain goddess Demeter, and her daughterPersephone, the ineffable maiden. Thosewho witnessed the rites were assured of anew birth in death. The Mysteries werethought by the Greeks to “hold theentire human race together.”Such a belief illustrates the crucialimportance of myth in holding the worldtogether, just as the cosmic serpent coilssecurely around the earth in the Fon creationstory. Australian Aborginal stories about theDreamtime, such as the Gunwinggu storyof Lumaluma (see pp. 102–3), are not justentertainments or nursery tales—they aresacred charters for existence. To understandthem fully one must enter eternal time.Similarly the myths underlying Navajorituals such as Mountainway (see pp. 92–93),and its sandpaintings of the Holy People,define and express what it means to beNavajo. At the end of such a ritual, “Theworld before me is restored in beauty.”When Jasper Blowsnake revealed the sacredWinnebago Medicine Rite to anthropologistPaul Radin (published under the titleNeolithic Mother GoddessThe Venus of Willendorf, a stone figurine of a fertilitygoddess found at Willendorf in Austria, dates from theneolithic period. The breasts and belly are deliberatelyexaggerated in this representationof the great mother goddess.Nut, the Egyptian All-MotherThe Egyptian sky goddess Nut arches over the earth in thisancient tomb painting. She is about to swallow the eveningsun, which is shown again on her upper arm as it starts itsnight journey. Nut became regarded as the mother of all,for even the sun god Re entered her mouth each night totravel through her body and be reborn next morning. Afigure of Nut inside Egyptian coffin lids promised thesame nurture and rebirth for the souls of the dead.
  • 8. Introduction•10The Road of Life and Death), he wasunveiling a mystery as great and as secretas that of Eleusis. “Never tell anyone aboutthis Rite,” ran the ritual. “Keep it absolutelysecret. If you disclose it the world will cometo an end. We will all die.” The secrecyrequired of initiates into the Mysteries ofEleusis was so absolute that we are left toguess from fragments of evidence bothwhat the rituals were and what they meant.Culture HeroesOne of those fragments is the moment inthe Demeter myth when, having taken aposition in a royal household while searchingfor her daughter, the goddess places theroyal prince, her charge, into a divine fireto burn away his mortal parts and give himeternal life, but is interrupted before shecan complete the ritual. The same incidentoccurs in Egyptian mythology, when thegoddess Isis becomes nursemaid to aprince while searching for her husband,Osiris (see p. 16). In the Egyptianstory the prince dies, but in the Greek,the boy, Triptolemus,becomes a benefactor ofhumankind—a culturalhero—when Demeter gavehim grain, a plow, and theknowledge of agricultureto teach to humankind.Triptolemus had his owncult and temple at Eleusis.The role of the gods ingiving the gift of knowledgeto humankind is found inevery mythology. GreekPrometheus, AboriginalAncestors, Mandan LoneMan, Aztec Quetzalcoatl,Polynesian Maui—all arerevered for teaching ushow to live in the world.Alongside suchfigures stand the heroeswho teach us by theirexample—their bravery,virtues, persistence and,sometimes, their flaws.The exploits of the Greek heroes suchas Heracles and Theseus, who arehalf-human, half-divine (see pp.50–51, 54–55) offer a patternafter which the wholly humancan model themselves.The Indian story ofRama (see pp. 114–15),still inspires thedevotion of all Hindus,and his story has evenbeen adopted asthe national epic ofBuddhist Thailand.The Celtic heroKing Arthur (seepp. 80–81, 84–85)is the center ofsimilar legends, inwhich Celtic mythand the aspirationsof medievalChristendom meet.Taoist myths of the Eight Immortals(see pp. 118–19) show how human beingscan aspire to the divine. In their search forperfection, the Immortals earn not longlife on earth, in linear time, but everlastinglife in heaven, in eternal time.Death and the UnderworldFor most of humanity, the moment whenlinear time stops is at death. All mythologieshold out the hope that was so dear to theinitiates of Eleusis, that there may be a newlife beyond this one. The Egyptians hopedto be reborn to live a new life in the Fieldof Reeds, which was a perfected version ofthe Egypt they knew. They were sustainedTriptolemus, Culture HeroTriptolemus, who taught mankind how to use theplow, stands between the two goddesses of the EleusinianMysteries, Demeter, and Persephone. Demeter is handinghim a golden ear of grain (now lost). This marble reliefof the second half of the fifth century bc was found atEleusis, probably in the temple of Triptolemus.The Hero HeraclesThis Greek vase shows Heracleskilling the Stymphalian Birds,the sixth of his 12 labors (see pp.50-51) in which he killed orcaptured several ogres and monsters.Before performing the last of hislabors Heracles had to be initiated into theEleusinian Mysteries. On his death, heascended to Olympus to live with the gods.
  • 9. Introduction•11in this belief by the daily rebirth of Re, thesun. The Vikings believed that warriors whodied in battle would feast in the golden-roofed hall of Valhalla among the gods,before fighting for Odin, the lord ofhosts, in the final battle of Ragnarok.The Roman poet Virgil tells us how thehero Aeneas found his father Anchises inthe fields of Elysium in the underworld(see p. 67). But when he tried to embracehim, he was as insubstantial as air. When hethen saw souls flocking to drink the waterof oblivion to forget their former lives, andbe born again, he asked Anchises what washappening. Anchises explained that in thebeginning the world was pure spirit, but webecome bound to life by love andfear. Only a few are able to restquiet in the afterlife, waiting forthe circle of time to be completed,when they will become pure spiritonce more. Most people hungerfor the world again.The Guarayú Indians ofBolivia tell of the soul’s questafter death, when it is faced withthe choice of two paths to reachTamoi, the Grandfather, wholives in the west. One is wideand easy, the other narrow anddangerous. The soul must choosethe hard path and overcomemany trials before reaching itsdestination and being welcomedand refreshed. Once washed inGrandfather’s restoring bath, thesoul will be young once more,and able to laugh, hunt, live,and love once again in theland of the west.Myths tell not only of whathappens after death, but of howdeath arrived in the world—according to the Zulus,it was all a mistake.The Great One sentthe Chameleon,Unwabu, to tellpeople they would liveforever, but he lingered, andwas passed by Intulo theLizard, with the messagethat all people must die.There are also storiesof heroes who tried toconquer death—Maui,Gilgamesh, the Mayanhero twins (see pp. 100–1).In his search for the secretof everlasting life,the Sumerian heroGilgamesh crosses theocean of death in searchof Utnapishtim, the solesurvivor of the great flood.But Utnapishtim tells him:“There is no permanence.Do we build a house tostand for ever, do we seal acontract to hold for all time?Do brothers divide an inheritance tokeep for ever, does the flood-time ofrivers endure? It is only the nymph of thedragonfly who sheds her larva and sees thesun in his glory. From the days of old thereis no permanence.”Utnapishtim’s lesson is repeated in ahaunting little Aztec poem, addressedperhaps to the lord of life Quetzalcoatl,who descended to the underworld torestore humanity to life (see pp. 98–99):“Can it be true that one lives on earth?Not forever on earth; only a little while here.Be it jade, it shatters.Be it gold, it breaks.Be it a quetzal feather, it tears apart.Not forever on earth; only a little while here.”In a world where the only certainty isuncertainty, the great myths offer uswisdom and comfort to prepare us forour own journey to the Grandfather,into the hands of the unknown god. Neil PhilipHermod Descends to the UnderworldThis 18th-century manuscript illustration shows Hermod, the sonof Odin, descending to the underworld on Odin’s eight-legged steedSleipnir to try to rescue his brother Balder, who had been slain throughthe treachery of the god Loki. Hel agreed to let Balder go if all the worldwept for him; but Loki refused. As a result, the gods hunted Loki down andtied him up in torment—but at Ragnarok, Loki will break loose, and leadthe hordes of the dead to war in a ship made from dead men’s nails.
  • 10. TheCreation•12The CreationIn the beginning, Egyptian myth tells us, there was nothing but the dark endless ocean of Nun. All the elements of life were in the ocean, inert andsenseless. Then the lord without limit came into being, and called himself Re. Hewas alone. With his breath he created Shu, the air, and with his spittle he created Tefnut,moisture, and sent them out across the water. He caused the waters of Nun to recede sothat he had an island on which to stand. Then he looked into his heart to see how thingsshould be, and called forth from Nun all the plants, birds, and animals. He spoke theirnames, and they came into being. Shu and Tefnut had two children: Geb, the earth, andNut, the sky. Nut lay on top of Geb and the sky mated with the earth. But Shu wasjealous and wrenched the sky away, holding her aloft, and pinning the earth down withhis feet. The children of Nut and Geb were the stars.Shu, the airShu, father of the goddess Nut,can be identified by his ostrichplume. He is usually shownholding Nut and Geb, thesky and the earth, apart.AnkhThe ankh was thesymbol of life andwhoever possessedit had the powerto give or take lifefrom lesser persons.Only gods, kings,and queens hadthe authority tohold an ankh.God of thewestern desertHa, the god of the western desert,wears a bull’s tail from his waist.This was part of the Egyptian royalregalia, signifying power and fertility.Symbolof rebirthShu’s staff is inthe form of a snake.Because snakes havethe ability to sloughoff their skins, theybecame a symbol ofrebirth with life-giving powers.Geb’s gooseGeb is sometimesrepresented as a goose,and one of his namesis “the Great Cackler”—a reference to thecackle he gave when heproduced the great eggfrom which the Benubird emerged at the dawnof time (see p. 13).Goddess of orderMaat, the goddess of orderand justice, who is oftendescribed as the “daughterof Re,” accompanies thegod, who sits oppposite her.Nut, the mother of allNut arches her body to make the dome of the sky. Each nightshe swallowed the sun, giving birth to it again each morning.Because of her role as the mother of the life-giving sun, Nutwas regarded as the universal mother. The dead were entrustedto her and her image was marked on the underside of coffin lids.Geb, the earthThe earth god Geb is shown sprawlingrecumbent beneath his sister-spousethe sky. The Egyptians were unusual incomparison with other cultures, becausethey thought of the earth as male.Symbols of Life and StabilityThis figure is Ha, the god of the westerndesert, who protected Egypt from enemiesin the west, especially the Libyans. Raisinghis arms in blessing, he carries the ankh,symbol of the life-giving elements of airand water, from which hangs a sacreddjed pillar, signifying stability.AnkhDjedpillarThe Egyptian GodsAll the gods of ancient Egypt are,like the Hindu gods, aspectsof the great divine essence, namedin one account of the creationas Nebertcher, “Lord to theuttermost limit.” Re, the sungod, represents the creativeconsciousness of this all-powerfulgod, and the rest of the gods,brought into being by Re,represent other aspects. Egyptiangods were also interrelated ormerged: Amun, “the hidden,”the chief god worshipped atKarnak, was a god of the air, but asAmun-Re he was a sun god and asAmun-Min, a fertility god. Knownby various names, most of the godscould also be depicted in animalas well as human form.
  • 11. Mother of the starsNut’s union with her brother Geb and the birth ofher children, the stars (often shown as decoration onher clothing), infuriated her father Shu, who cursedher so that she would never again give birth in anymonth of the year. But Nut gambled with Thoth, themoon god and reckoner of time, and won from himfive extra days outside the 12 lunar months of 30 dayseach. In these days she gave birth to her childrenOsiris, Blind Horus, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys.Scarab beetleThe winged scarab beetleof Re is shown joined withthe mummified body ofOsiris, which rises from thefertile earth. This motifsymbolizes the resurrectionof Osiris and the dailyrebirth of Re.Tendingthe earthMen plow the earthand sow seed. As Remakes his dailyjourney across the sky(center), the warmthof the sun will makethe crops grow—another symbol ofOsiris’ resurrectionfrom the dead.The Egpytian year was made up of 12 lunar monthsof 30 days, plus another five days to make up thenumber to 365. However, the Egyptians did not addthe extra quarter day to make a true solar year.Therefore, their calendar drifted slowly out of syncwith the astronomical calendar, so that it mightofficially be summer in the wintertime, or vice versa.The two calendars came back into line every 1,460years, a mystical cycle for the Egyptian priesthood.Waters of fruitfulnessThe goddess Nephthys, sister of Isis, poursthe waters of fruitfulness over the earth,where men hoe the land. The mummifiedbody of Osiris (see p. 16) is reborn wherethe water makes contact with the earth.Eye of the sun godThe sun was said to be the eye of Re, which he sent to seekShu and Tefnut. When it returned, another eye had takenits place. The first eye wept, and its tears became the firsthuman beings. So Re placed it on his brow as the uraeus,or cobra, to rule the world and spit fire at his enemies.Wedjat eyeThe left eye of the sky god Horus (see p. 16) wasidentified with the moon. It was destroyed in his fightwith his uncle Seth, but made whole again; the symbolof the Wedjat eye stands for wholeness and renewal.This tomb painting shows the worship of the Benu bird.THE EGYPTIAN WORLD PICTUREThis image shows the Egyptian gods in relation the world. In the center, the sky (Nut) archesover the body of earth (Geb), his bent knees indicating the uneven nature of the land, whilethe sun (Re) courses between them. On the left stands Shu (air), next to Ha, god of thewestern desert. On the right, the goddess Nephthys waters the earth.Creator of the UniverseRe, creator of the universe, the gods, andthe first people, wears the sun on his brow.He will rule the world until the end oftime, when all creation shall pass away,and once more the world shall be covered bythe infinite flood of Nun.Sun discUraeusRe’s boatFeather of justiceThe Benu BirdAt the beginning of time, the waters of Nun lay in darkness, until Re thoughthimself into being. At the first dawn, theBenu bird flew across the waters, its greatwings flapping soundlessly, its long legstrailing. The Benu bird reached a rockypyramid, just breaking through the surfaceof the water. It opened its beak, and let outa harsh cry. The sound rang out across theendless waters, shattering the eternal silence.As the light of the first dawn broke overthe darkness, the world was filled with theknowledge of what was, and what was not, tobe. The Benu bird was depicted as a giganticheron; the Greeks later called it the phoenix,recognizing that the bird was really an aspectof the sun god, Re. At the great temple ofAmun at Karnak, a duck was released acrossthe waters of the sacred lake each morning inimitation of the Benu bird.
  • 12. Re,theSunGod•14Re,theSunGodRe,thesungod,tookthreemainforms:Khepri,thescarabbeetle,whowasthe risingsun;Re,thesun’sdisc,whowasthemiddaysun;andAtum,anoldmanleaningonastick,whowasthesettingsun.Eachevening,asthesunreachedthewesternmostpeakofMountManu,theskygoddess,Nut(seep.13),swallowedit,whereuponthesungodjourneyedperilouslythroughanetherworldinhisnightbarque(boat).Here,hewasassailedbydemonsledbythemonstroussnakeApophis,hisenemywho,accordingtoonemyth,cameintobeingattheverysamemomentasRehimself.Inthedarkesthourbeforedawn,Apophismadehismostdesperateattack.Eachnight,Re,intheformofacat,wouldcutoffthesnake’sheadbeforebeingbornonceagainintheeastatdawnfromNut,theuniversalmother.Hewouldthenriseandtravelacrosstheskyuntilthefollowingtwilight,whenApophiswouldbelyinginwaitoncemore.IfApophiswereevertovanquishRe,thesunwouldnotrise.Thisdailycycleofdeathandrebirthcametosymbolizethelifecycleofhumankind,whohopedafterdeathtofindanewbirth.FromtheMiddleKingdom,thevisiblesungodRewascomplementedbyaninvisibledivinity,Amun,“thehiddenone,”whoasAmun-Rewasworshipedasthekingofgods.ScarabBeetleThescarabeus,ordungbeetle,isthesymbolofReinhisroleasKhepri,therisingsun.Rollingalongaballofdung,thescarabbeetleisasymbolofthesunitself.Itwasalsoasymbolofself-generationandrebirth,becauseofthewaytheyoungappearfromtheballofdung.IntotheunderworldHere,theskygoddessNutraisesOsiris,thesonofGebandNutandruleroftheunderworld,toreceivethesundiscbeforeitgoesonitsterrifyingnightjourney.Inthedeepestnight,OsirisandRebecomeone,andaredescribedbothas“RewhorestsinOsiris”and“OsiriswhorestsinRe.”DiscofthesunAsRe,thesungodwasrepresentedbythediscofthesunitself.TheEgyptianBookoftheDead(orBookofComingForthbyDay)isacollectionofspells,manyderivingfromtheearlierPyramidandCoffintexts,designedtoensurepowerforthedeceasedintheafterlife.Copiesweremadeformostwealthyindividualsandburiedwiththem.Atypical,andessential,spellisfor“notdyingagainintherealmofthedead.”PAPYRUSOFANHAYc.1250bceThispapyrusispartofa“BookoftheDead”writtenforAnhay,apriestessofAmun-Re,kingofthegods.Nun,thegodoftheprimevalwaters(seep.12),holdsupthebarqueofsun,uponwhichthescarabbeetle,anothersymbolofthesun,isshownpushingthesundisc,asascarabrollsadungball.TheEgyptiansbelievedthatadeadperson,armedwiththerightspells,couldcountertheterrorsoftheunderworld,Duat,andliveanewlifeintheFieldofReeds.Alltheelementsthatmadeupthelivingpersonhadtobepreservedandresurrected—notjustthephysicalbodyandthetwopartsofthesoul,theka(lifeforce)andtheba(personality,orgenius),butalsotheindividual’snameandshadow.Thesefiveelementsmadethecompletebeing.Re’sSecretNameRecalledtheworldintobeingwithwords.Butone word—hisownsecretname—hekepttohimself.Isis,daughterofGebandNut,theearthandthesky,andwifeofOsiris,decidedtolearnthenamesofallthings,sothatshewouldbeasgreatasRehimself.AtlasttheonlywordshedidnotknowwasRe’sownsecretname.TotrickReintotellingher,Isisgatheredthespittlethathaddrippedfromhismouthashesailedacrosstheskydayafterday(forhewasnowoldanddribbled)andshapeditintoasnake,whichsheleftlyinginhispath.Inevitably,Rewasbittenand,lettingoutaterriblecry,hetrembled,andafogblurredhisvision.Takingadvantageofhispain,Isisofferedtocounteractthepoisonifhewouldtellherhisname.Atlast,hepassedhisnamefromhishearttohers,givingherpowerevenoverhimself.UsingRe’sname,shecommandedthepoisontoflowaway,leavinghimfitandstrong.Thetextofthisstoryalsohadapracticalpurposeasaspellagainstpoison.Recitingthetextovertheimagesoffourgods,includingIsisandHorus,andmakingthepatienteatapaperinscribedwiththespellwasguaranteedtobe“successfulamilliontimes.”
  • 13. 15• Re,theSunGodTheEgyptiancatgoddessBastetUraeusTheenragedcobraisthesymbolofthesungod(andofthepharaohs,whoworeitontheirforeheads);itisoftendepictedattachedtothesundisc.Accordingtoonemyth,theworldwascreatedbythearchergoddessNeithfromtheprimevalwatersofNun.Shecreatedthegodsbysayingtheirnames,andthen(incowform)gavebirthtotheall-powerfulRe.Rewasborninanegg,andwhenheemergedfromtheegghewasdazzledbythelight,andcried:mankindwasformedfromhistears.Nun,fertilityoftheNileThegodNun,whorepresentstheprimevalwatersorflood,holdsupthebarqueofthesun.TosomeextentthemythologyofancientEgyptsimplyreflectsthelandofEgyptitself.EgyptwasdescribedbytheGreekhistorianHerodotusas“thegiftoftheNile,”andwithouttheannualfloodingoftheNile,whichmadeastripeithersideoftheriverfertile,Egyptcouldnothavesurvived.Theimportanceofthesungod’sjourneyfromeasttowest,andtheprimevalfloodrepresentedbythegodNun,isclear.HorusThefalcon-headedHorus,sonofIsisandOsiris,wasoneofthegreatestEgyptiangods.Hewasessentiallyaskygod;hislefteyewasthemoonandhisrighteyewasthesun.InhisroleasthesungodhemergedwithReasRe-Harakhty.“Ohyouwhoaregreatinyourbarque,bringmetoyourbarque,sothatImaytakechargeofyournavigatinginthedutywhichisallotedtoonewhoisamongtheUnwearyingStars.”TheBookoftheDeadCompanyofGodsReisaccompaniedonhisjourneybyseven(fournotshownhere)othergodswithHorusatthehelm.Theothergodscannotbeidentifiedbeyonddoubt.Thecompanyusuallyincludesthreeoftheearliest-createdgods,Sia(perception),Hu(utterance),andHike(magic)aswellassuchimportantgodsasShu,Geb,Osiris,Horus,andThoth.Sometimestherearealsogoddessesinthebarque,especiallyHathor.BarqueofthesunReisshowninhissolarbarque,inwhichhetravelsthroughthesky.HorusBastetWhenhumanbeingsbegantoplotagainstthe ageingRe,hetransformedthegoddessHathor(thesacredcowoffertility)intoaraginglioness,Sekhmet.Herbloodlustbroughtplagueanddeathintoexistence.Thisgoddess,whocouldonlybeappeasedbybeingmadedrunk,graduallybecamereveredunderamoregentleguiseasthecatgoddessBastet.Thedomesticcatwasregardedassacredtoher,andmanycatsweremummifiedinreligiousrituals.Younggirlswereoftennicknamed“kitten.”Butcatswerealsotrainedforthehunt,andaredepictedinEgyptianartretrievingbirdsfelledbytheirmasters’throwingsticks.TheGreeksidentifiedBastetwithArtemis,goddessofthehunt(seepp.36–37),andHerodotusdescribesherannualfestivalasanorgy.
  • 14. Osiris,Isis,andHorus•16LiketheGreekDemeterduringhersearchforPersephone(seep.29),Isis,inhersearchforOsiris,becomesanursemaidtoaprince;bothgoddessestrytogivetheboysimmortalitybyburningawaytheirmortalparts,buttheyareinterrupted.IsisutteredsoterribleacryonseeingOsiris’corpsethatitkilledthebabyprinceshewascaringfor.Osiris,Isis,andHorusOsiris,theruleroftheunderworld,wasoriginallya kingintheupperworldwherehetaughttheEgyptians(andlater,therestoftheworld)howtolive,worship,andgrowgrain.(Theyhadpreviouslybeencannibals.)HeearnedthenameWennefer,meaning“eternallygood.”HewasmurderedbyhisjealousbrotherSeth,whotrickedhimintoawoodenchest,whichhesealedupandsentdowntheNile.Osiris’wifeIsisrescuedthecorpse,butwhenSethfoundit,hecutitupandscatteredthepiecesalloverEgypt.Sorrowfully,IsisandhersisterNepthyscollectedeverypieceand,withthehelpofAnubis,theguideofsoulstotheunderworld,andThoth,thegods’scribe,theypiecedOsirisbacktogetherasthefirstmummy.Isistransformedherselfintoakiteand,hoveringoverthebody,shefannedlifeintoitwithherwings;itwasatthismomentthatsheconceivedason,Horus,whowouldavengehisfather.TherevivedOsiriswentdowntothedarkanddesolateunderworldtobethelordandjudgeofthedead.Falcon’sheadHorusisusuallydepictedeitherasahawkorasamanwithahawk’shead.Hewasoriginallyagodofthesky,andhiseyesweresaidtobethesunandthemoon;inhisroleassungodhemergedwithRe.Hence,whenhelaydyingasachild,theskywentdark(seeboxabove).WifeandmotherIsiswasthearchetypalwifeandmother;withherhandechoingtheshapeofOsiris’shoulder,mirroredontheothersideby Horus,sheemphasizestheunityofthisfamily.SheisoftendepictednursingtheinfantHorus.Cow’shornsIsiswearsasolardiscbetweencowhorns,revealinghercloseaffinitywiththecowmother-goddessHathor.BothIsisandHathorwereatdifferenttimesregardedasthemotherofHorus,and,therefore,oftheEgyptianking,whowasahumanmanifestationofHorus.WorkerofmagicIsiswasaworkerofmagic,andcouldevenpracticeherartonthegods(seepp.14–15).ItwashermagicartsthatenabledhertorestorethebreathoflifetothemummifiedOsiris,andtoaidhersonHorusinhisduelswithSeth.ThestoryofIsisandOsiristellsofadeathandresurrectionthatmirrorstheharvestingofgrainanditsregrowthfromseed;miniaturefiguresofOsirisfilledwithseedkernelswereplacedinEgyptiantombsasapromiseofrebirth.CrownOsiriswearstheatefcrown,atallcrownwithtwosideplumes,designatingkingship.LosteyeHorushaslosthislefteye(themoon).ItwasputoutinhisstruggleswithSeth,whomhehadcastrated.DeadkingOsirisisrepresentedhereasamummifiedking;inhisroleascultureherohewasregardedashavingbeenarealkingatthebeginningofEgyptiancivilization.THEROYALFAMILYOFTHEGODSThisstatuetteshowsthegodOsirisraisedonaplinth,withhisloyalwifeandsonHorusoneachside.OsiriswasbelievedtohaveoncebeenakingofEgypt.HissonHoruswasthelastgodtobekingbuthesenthisspiritintoeachpharoahwhoinheritedtheearthlythrone.Toachieveeternallife,theEgyptianspreservedtheircorpsesbymummification,followingascloselyaspossiblethetechniqueusedbythejackal-headedAnubis,godofmummification,inpreparingthebodyofOsiris.HorusHorusisshownhereasafalcon-wingedwedjateye.HisoriginslieintheearlyEgyptianconceptionoftheskyasthewingsofafalcon.Theeyesandspeckledbellyofthefalconwerethesun,moon,andstarrynightsky.IsisandtheScorpionsPregnant,IsisfledfromSethtotheNiledeltaaccompaniedbysevenscorpions.Onenight,shebeggedshelterofarichladynamedUsert,butsherefusedher.Furious,thescorpionspooledalltheirvenomandbitUsert’sson.Pityingthedyingchild,Isiscuredhim.ShethenwenttoKhemmisandgavebirthtoHorus.Desperatelypoor,Isisoftenhadtoleavethebabyalonewhileshefoundfood.Oneday,shereturnedtofindHoruslyingrigid,bittenbyascorpion.ButIsiscouldnotsavehim,havingusedherpowertocureUsert’sson.HeranguishhaltedReashecrossedtheskyandtheworldwentdark.ResentThothtocureHorusforuntilherecovered,therewouldbenolight,thewellswoulddryup,andthecropswouldwither.
  • 15. 17•Osiris, Isis,andHorusPlaquewithCartoucheRoyalsarcophagi,orcoffins,wererectangularinsidelikethecartouchethatencircledtheroyalname.Justasthecartoucheprotectedtheroyalname,sothecoffinprotectedtheroyalbody.HuneferisleadbyAnubisthroughthehalloftwotruthsAnubisAnubisweighsHunefer’sheartHeartFeatherAmmitHuneferOsirisThefoursonsofHorusHorusIsisandNephthys“Hailtoyou,OsirisWennefer,thevindicated,thesonofNut!Youarethefirst-bornofGeb,theGreatOnewhocameforthfromNut...shoutwithjoy,Osiris,forI havecometoyou;IamHorus,Ihavesavedyoualivetoday.”TheBookoftheDeadRe-HarakhtyThothAfterOsirisdescendedtotheunderworld,hecouldnolongerrulehisearthlykingdom,sohebequeathedittohissonHorus.ButhisevilbrotherSeth,thegodofchaosandconfusion,laidclaimtothethrone.Onlyafter80yearsdidRejudgeHorusthewinner,awardhimthekingdom,andbanishSethtothedesert.HorusfirstperformedthekeymummificationriteofopeningthemouthonhisfatherOsiris.Withotherrites,itensuredthatallthebodilyfunctionscouldberestoredafterdeaththroughthespellscontainedintheBookoftheDead.HorusasawedjateyeHuneferThegodswhositinjudgmentofHuneferincludeUtterance,Perception,andtheSouthern,Northern,andWesternWays.SoulsintheBalanceAfterdeath,eachpersonwentbeforeOsirisintheHallofTwoTruths.Here,amannamedHuneferisledbythejackal-headedgodAnubis.AnubischecksthescalesthatweighHunefer’sheartagainstthefeatherofMaat,whichsymbolizestruth.Ammit—acrocodile-headedmonsterwiththeforequartersofalionandhindquartersofahippopotamus—waitstogobbleuptheheartifHuneferisjudgedguilty.Egyptiansprotectedthemselvesagainstthisoutcomebyincludingintheirtombsaso-calledNegativeConfession—alistofsinstheyhavenotcommitted.Totheright,ibis-headedThoth,godofwritingandknowledge,setsdowntheresult.Furtherright,HorustakesHuneferbeforeOsiris;IsisandNephthysstandbehindthethrone.Above,Huneferadoresacompanyofgods,ledbyRe-Harakhty,whostandaswitnessestothejudgmentofOsiris.
  • 16. TheEpicofGilgamesh•18The Epic of GilgameshGilgamesh was lord of Uruk in Mesopotamia. Two-thirds divine, he was so arrogant inhis glory that the gods created the warrior Enkidu to be a comrade equal to him in strength.They fought each other furiously on their first encounter, then became very close companions andwent together to the great forest to kill Humbaba, “the great evil.” On his return, the goddessIshtar, seeing his beauty, asked Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refused. Furious, she demandedthat her father Anu create a Bull of Heaven to ravage the land. But Enkidu and Gilgamesh struckit dead. At that, the gods decided that one of the heroes must pay and Enkidu fell ill and died.Weeping, Gilgamesh set out to find Utnapishtim, the ancestor of mankind, to ask him why wemust all die. He traveled beyond the ends of the earth to find him and on his way back found aplant that returned youth to the old. But as he stopped to drink at a pool one day, a snake ate theplant, which is why snakes shed their skins and become young again, but men still age and die.Two episodes in thelife of GilgameshThis is an impression from a sealthat dates from between 2340 and2180 bce. On the left, it appears toshow Gilgamesh and Enkidu killingthe monster Humbaba; on theright, Gilgamesh is being ferriedacross the Ocean in search ofUtnapishtim, the mortal survivorof the great flood, whom he hopeswill tell him the meaning of life.GilgameshThis colossal statue dates fromthe eighth century bce and showsGilgamesh in royal regalia,carrying a lion and a serpent-headed staff. These are bothreferences to episodes in the storyof his journey beyond the Ocean tofind out why humans must die.EnkiduThis bull-headed figure is Enkidu, the only creature toequal Gilgamesh in strength. He was created from mudand spit, had a rough and hairy body, and grew up in theforest with the animals, knowing nothing of mankind.The gods who created Gilgamesh gave him aperfect body. Shamash, the sun god, gave him beauty,and Adad, the storm god, gave him courage. Until thegods created Enkidu to curb his arrogance and be hiscompanion, no one could surpass his strength.After killing Humbaba and theBull of Heaven, the god Anu saidthat either Enkidu or Gilgameshmust die as a punishment. Thegods Ea and Enlil agreed so,despite the pleas of Shamash thesun god (to whom the heroes hadsacrificed the bull’s heart), Enkiduwas marked for death. He fell ill,forewarned of death by a dream inwhich he was seized by a black birdand taken down to the House ofDust­—the palace of Erishkegal, theQueen of Darkness.Gilgamesh triumphantGilgamesh defeated Humbaba, who begged for mercywith tears in his eyes and promised to be his servant.Gilgamesh almost agreed, but Enkidu said he was notto be trusted and persuaded Gilgamesh to kill him.HumbabaThis lionlike figure may representHumbaba, a forest giant with a“countenance . . . like a lion,” fierybreath, and terrible jaws. When heroared, it was like a storm, and hiseyes blazed with the power ofdeath. At the suggestion of the sungod Shamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidutraveled into the faraway forestwhere they found and killed him.By doing so they incurred the angerof the gods, especially Enlil, thechief god, lord of earth and air.“Gilgamesh . . . struck Humbaba with a thrust of the sword tothe neck, and Enkidu his comrade struck the second blow”The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • 17. TheEpicofGilgamesh•19Sumerian statue of the goddess Ishtar“I will proclaim to the world the deeds ofGilgamesh . . . the man to whom all things wereknown . . . He was wise . . . knew secret things,he brought us a tale of the days before the flood.He went on a long journey, was weary, worn-outwith labor, returning he rested, he engraved ona stone the whole story.”Prologue to The Epic of GilgameshFerryman of the godsUrshanabi takes Gilgamesh across the Ocean. “For three days theyran on as if it were a journey of a month and fifteen days and at lastUrshabani brought the boat to the waters of death.” He poles whileGilgamesh acts as a mast because, in a fury, Gilgamesh had brokenthe sacred stones that made the boat safe in these perilous waters.Gilgamesh crosses the waters of deathGilgamesh acts as a human mast in the ferryboat ofUrshanabi, the ferryman of the gods. Distraught atEnkidu’s death, he was advised by Siduri, the goddessof wine and wisdom, to seek out the ferryman and crossthe bitter waters of death in his search for Utnapishtim.After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh setout to solve the mystery of death. He marched tothe top of the twin peaks of Mashu, guardians ofthe rising and setting sun, and demanded entryto the underworld from the dreadful scorpionguardians at the gate, who were half-man andhalf-dragon. Inside he journeyed for 12 leagues(30 miles) in utter darkness, before coming tothe garden of the gods where he met the goddessSiduri, who advised him to seek out theferryman Urshanabi (see below).When Gilgamesh reached the far shore, he metUtnapishtim and told him of his despair at Enkidu’sdeath. “Because of my brother I am afraid of death.Because of my brother, I wander through thewilderness.” Utnapishtim told him that death waslike sleep; it comes to all, and is not to be feared.He then told him the story of the flood.“Which of your lovers did you ever loveforever? . . . There was Tammuz . . . for himyou decreed wailing, year after year. You lovedthe many-colored roller but you struck andbroke his wing . . . You have loved the shepherdof the flock . . . You struck and turnedhim into a wolf . . .”Gilgamesh Refuses IshtarThe FloodUtnapishtim, the only man to survive thegreat flood sent by the gods, had livedin the city of Shurrupak, where he served thegod Ea. The city and the gods grew old, andthe goddess Ishtar caused such strife amongmen that the gods could not sleep for thenoise. So Enlil, god of earth, wind, and air,said, “Let us loose the waters on the world,and drown them all.” The gods agreed, butEa warned Utnapishtim of the impendingdisaster in a dream and told him to builda boat, and take on board two of everycreature. For seven nights the tempest raged,until the entire world was covered in water.At last, the boat ran aground on the top ofMount Nisir. To check the water level,Utnapishtim set free a dove, then a swallow,then a raven. When the raven did not return,Utnapishtim knew it had found a restingplace and the waters were subsiding. Inthanks, he lit a fire to make a sacrifice to thegods. Enlil was furious when he smelled thesmoke, but wise Ea interceded, and Enlilmade Utnapishtim and his wife immortal;they are the ancestors of all humanity.Ishtar, Goddess of LoveThe goddess Ishtar (or Inanna) was the mistress of heaven,a powerful goddess of both love and war. Her first consortwas her brother Tammuz (see p. 33). When Tammuz died, Ishtardescended to the underworld to wrest the power of life and deathfrom her sister, the dread Ereshkigal. Leaving her servant Papsukalwith orders to rescue her if she did not return, Ishtar descendedinto the dark land. She started full of bold defiance, shouting at thegatekeeper to open it up before she smashed it down. But at each ofseven doors she was stripped of items of her clothing, and with ither power, until she came naked and defenseless before Ereshkigal,who killed her and hung her body on a nail. With her death, thewhole world began to wither. But faithful Papsukal went to thegods, and asked them to create a being to venture into the land ofdeath and revive Ishtar with the food and water of life. So Ishtar wasbrought back to life, but she had to pay a price. For six months ofeach year, Tammuz must live in the land of the dead. While he isthere, Ishtar laments his loss; when he rises in the spring, all rejoice.
  • 18. AhuraMazdaandAhriman•20Ahura Mazda and AhrimanIn the dualistic mythology of Zoroastrianism, twin brothers Ahura Mazda, who lived in the light, and Ahriman, who lurked in the dark, are inopposition. Between them there was nothing but air. The twins were born from thegod Zurvan, “Time,” the ultimate being who existed in the primal void. AhuraMazda, the wise and all-knowing, created the sun, moon, and stars. He broughtinto being the Good Mind that works within man and all creation. Ahriman (alsoknown as Angra Mainya, meaning “the destructive spirit”) created demons andattacked Ahura Mazda. But Ahura Mazda sent him back into the darkness,saying “Neither our thoughts, teachings, plans, beliefs, words, nor souls agree.”Then Ahura Mazda created Gayomart, the first man and the first fire priest. ButAhriman renewed his attack and broke through the sky in blazing fire, bringingwith him starvation, disease, pain, lust, and death. So Ahura Mazda set a limit totime, trapping Ahriman inside creation. Ahriman then tried to leave creation,but he could not. So he has remained, doing evil until the end of time.When Ahriman caused a drought and poisoned thefirst man, Gayomart (“Dying life”), Ahura Mazda sent rain,which brought forth, from the seed of Gayomart, the motherand father of humanity, Mashya and Mashyoi.ZurvanWorship of the unified god Zurvan became a heresy ofZoroastrianism, which regards Ahura Mazda and Ahrimanas having existed in duality from the beginning of time.Barsom twigsBarsom twigs are sacred and asymbol of priesthood. Zurvangave them to Ahura Mazda, inrecognition that he was his trueson. Their use was spread bythe god Sraosha (“Obedience”),who is present at every religiousceremony. He is embodied inmen’s prayers and hymns, whichhe takes to heaven in a chariotdrawn by four white horseswith golden hooves.MaturityThese figures represent mature human beings. Whenthe world is recreated at the end of time, all adultswill be brought back to life at the age of 40.Ahura Mazda Sun EmblemThis glazed brick relief from the sixth or fifth century bcewas found at Susa in Iran. It shows the winged sun emblemof Ahura Mazda placed above two winged sphinxes,who appear to be standing guard.Ahura MazdaAhura Mazda (also known as Ohrmazd) wasthe culmination of Zurvan’s desire. He isan all-knowing creator whose plans for aperfect world are frustrated by Ahriman.YouthThis figure is a representationof youth. All men are born good,although Ahura Mazda allowsthem to choose between good andevil. It is said that the earth ishappiest where one of thefaithful is standing. At the endof time (see box opposite), thosewho die as children will bereborn at the age of 15.
  • 19. AhuraMazdaandAhriman•21Sacrifice of a thousand yearsThe god Zurvan, a unified, androgynous, undifferentiated god, longed fora son. He offered a sacrifice of 1,000 years to create one. But as the 1,000years drew to an end, he began to doubt his power to produce a son.When it was time for thetwins to be born, Zurvanpromised that his first-bornshould rule the world. AhuraMazda, who was gifted withforesight, told his brother this,and evil-hearted Ahrimanforced his way out first, and liedto his parent, saying, “I amyour son, Ahura Mazda.” ButZurvan was not deceived, andanswered, “My son is light andfragrant, but you are dark andstinking.” And Zurvan wept.AhrimanAhriman—the personification ofZurvan’s doubt—spoiled the worldby creating sin and evil. He defiledeverything he touched, and rejoiced as hedid so. “My victory is perfect,” he crowed.“I have fouled the world with filth anddarkness, and made it my stronghold. I havedried up the earth, so that the plants will die,and poisoned Gayomart, so he will die.”Old ageThese elderly people are approaching the day when they must crossthe Cinvat Bridge, the Bridge of Judgment, to reach either the joy ofheaven or the horrors of hell, according to their acts and consciences.The bridge is wide for the faithful, but narrow as a needle for the sinner.THE BIRTH OF AHURA MAZDA AND AHRIMANThis silver plaque from Luristan, from the eighth century bce, shows the twins, Ahura Mazdaand Ahriman, emerging from the body of Zurvan, the supreme god and personification of time.On either side stand figures representing the three stages of man—youth, maturity, and old age.MithraMithra was a Persian god who became widely venerated in theWest, especially in the Roman Empire, as Mithras. Hewas said to be the son of Ahura Mazda—one of the sevendivinities created by Ahura Mazda to oppose the demonscreated by Ahriman. He was a god of order; but in the need tomaintain order, became a god of war and warriors. He wasseen as a more approachable god—one who in a sensemediated between the pure goodness of Ahura Mazdaand the pure evil of Ahriman. His shrines depict himslaying a bull, a ritual act thought to ensure new life in therenewed creation; worshippers bathed in the bloodfrom sacrificed bulls. The mystery cult of Mithrasas practiced in the Roman Empire was solely formen; it was an ascetic cult that emphasizedtruth and right living, holding out inreturn the promise of life after death.This Roman statue shows the godMithras slaying the bull.The End of All ThingsAs the end of time draws near, the savior, Saoshyant, will arise. Hewill prepare the world to be madenew, and help Ahura Mazda to destroyAhriman. In the time of Saoshyant,people will grow pure. They will stopeating meat, then milk, then plants,then water, until at last they neednothing. Then there will be no moresin, and Az, the demon of lust createdby Ahriman, will starve. She will turn onher creator, and try to swallow him up.Ahriman will beg Ahura Mazda to savehim, and Ahura Mazda will cast himfrom creation, through the very hole hemade when he broke in. Then time willbe at an end, and the world will beginagain. Saoshyant will raise the dead, andAhura Mazda will marry body to soul.First to rise will be Gayomart, the firstfire priest, then the mother and fatherof humanity, Mashya and Mashyoi, thenthe rest of humanity. All the metal inthe mountains of the world will melt,and each man and woman will passthrough the stream of molten metaland emerge purified. To the good, thestream will feel like a bath of warmmilk; to the evil, it will be agony, astheir sins are burned away. Thenew world will be immortal andeverlasting, and free of taint.
  • 20. GodsofOlympus•22HadesHades (see pp. 28–29),Zeus’ brother, was thegod of the underworld.He was marriedto Persephone(see above).Cronos and RheaThis couple may depict Zeus’ parents,Cronos and Rhea, who were banishedto Tartarus in the underworld. Cronos,whose name means “time”, castratedhis father Uranus with a sickle.T he gods of the Ancient Greeks lived atthe top of Mount Olympus, the highest peakin Greece. Later their home was conceived of as aheaven in the skies. From Olympus, the gods loved,quarrelled, watched the world, and helped and hinderedmortals according to their whims. Presided over byZeus (Roman Jupiter), ruler of heaven and earth, therewere many gods and immortals of whom 12 areusually regarded as the most important: Aphrodite(Venus), Apollo (Apollo), Ares (Mars), Artemis (Diana),Athena (Minerva), Demeter (Ceres), Dionysus(Bacchus), Hephaestus (Vulcan), Hera (Juno), Hermes(Mercury), Hestia (Vesta), and Poseidon (Neptune).Hades (Pluto), Zeus’ brother, ruled the underworld.These Olympian gods succeeded earlier generationsof gods. Gaia (Mother Earth) was the first goddess, andbore the race of Titans by her son Uranus. The Titans,led by Cronos (Saturn), seized power from Uranus;and in turn were defeated by their own children, led byCronos’ son Zeus. After the defeat of the Titans, Zeusand his brothers Poseidon and Hades drew lots for thegovernance of the sky, the sea, and the underworld.ErosEros, the god of love,represented as a child ora youth, is usually saidto be Aphrodite’s son.He is shown here aswinged cherub, carryinghis arrows of desire.AphroditeAphrodite (see pp. 26–27),the goddess of sexual love,was born from the foamafter Cronos cast his father’sgenitals into the sea. She hadpower over everyone exceptHestia, Athena, and Artemis.PoseidonPoseidon was the god of the sea. Heis shown here astride a fish, carryinghis three-pronged trident. Poseidon isparticularly noted for his persecutionof the hero Odysseus (see pp. 64–65).PersephonePersephone was thedaughter of Demeterand Zeus. She wasseized by Hades tobe his bride in theunderworld (see pp.28–29).HestiaHestia, Zeus’ sister, wasgoddess of the hearth and asworn virgin. She was moreimportant to the Romansthan the Greeks and wasvenerated as Vesta, andserved by the Vestal virgins.Gods of OlympusAthenaAthena, Zeus’ daughter by thenymph Metis, was goddess ofwar and wisdom. Her approachwas very different from that ofthe brutal war-god Ares. Shewas born from Zeus’ head andis usually shown wearing armour.AresAres, the god of war (see p.27) was the only son ofZeus and Hera. His militantagression was often pitchedagainst the strategy ofAthena (see above).Aphrodite was his lover.“Zeus is the first, Zeus isthe last, the god with thedazzling lightning. Zeus isthe head, Zeus is the middle,of Zeus all things have theirend. Zeus is the foundationof the earth and of the starrysky. Zeus is male, Zeus is animmortal woman. Zeusis the breath of all things.”An Orphic Hymn to ZeusZeusZeus, originally a skygod, was the supreme rulerof heaven and earth. Hewas married to Herabut had many othersexual liaisons.Zeus brandishesthunderbolts, hischief weapons,made for himby the cyclopes
  • 21. The Gods of Olympusby Giulio Romano (c. 1499–1546)This 16th-century ceiling painting showsthe gods and some of the immortals ofMount Olympus. It would have beenpainted to suggest the power andglory of the patron.ArtemisArtemis (seepp. 36–37) wasApollo’s twin sisterand the goddess ofhunting and archery.All wild animalswere in her care.DemeterDemeter, Zeus’ sister, was the Greekearth-goddess. Her brother Zeusfathered her daughter, Persephone.Her search for Persephone formedthe basis of the Mysteries ofEleusis (see p. 29).DionysusDionysus (see pp. 58–59),god of ecstasy and wine, wasthe child of Zeus by a mortal,Semele. He is shown withgoat’s legs and horns.HerculesHercules (see pp. 50–51) was ason of Zeus by a mortal. Herahated him. He earned immortalityby performing 12 impossibletasks. When he went to Olympushe married Zeus’ daughter Hebe.HermesHermes was the messengerof the gods and Zeus’ son byMaia, daughter of the TitanAtlas. He is wearing hiswinged hat and carrying hisherald’s staff, the caduceus.GanymedeGanymede was a youngprince of Troy; Zeus wasso overwhelmed by hisbeauty that he descendedin eagle form and snatchedthe beautiful youth to behis cup-bearer on Olympus.Hera, Queen of the GodsHera was Zeus’ wife and sister. In one account itwas she, not her mother Rhea, who saved Zeusfrom being swallowed by their father Cronos(see above). She was the goddess of marriage,and many of the stories about her centreon her jealousy of Zeus’ many affairs.Saturnby Francisco de Goya (1746–1828)ApolloApollo (see pp. 38–39) and his sisterArtemis were Zeus’ children bythe Titaness Leto. He was god ofprophecy, divination, and the arts,especially music, and also a sun-god,although he was not the sun itself—this was represented by the god Helios.HephaestusHephaestus, the lame blacksmithgod (see pp. 26–27), was the sonof Hera—produced without amate, although some sourcessay that Zeus was his father.He was married to Aphrodite.PanThe goat-god Pan (see pp.42–43), the son of Hermes,was the god of pastures andwild places. He was verylustful and is typicallyshown, as here, carrying offa nymph.Four windsThe winds, Zephyrus(see pp. 35–5), Eurus,Notus, and Boreas(see p. 43) and thestars were the childrenof the Titan Astraeus,and Eos, the dawn.“Hear us blessed Goddess, beloved wifesister of Zeus, Goddess of the moonand stars, shine joy and peace upon us ”Orphic Hymn to HeraThe CreationT he Greeks had several creation myths.In one, Euronyme, the goddess of allthings, divided the sea from the sky, andthen gave birth to a world egg, from whichhatched the planets, earth, and all creatures.In another, Eros was born from the cosmicegg and, as the first god, set the universe inmotion. Before that, all was chaos. Gaia,Mother Earth, inspired by Eros, thenbrought forth Uranus, the sky, and matedwith him, to produce the first immortals,the forefathers of the Olympian gods.Cronos, theChild-eaterCronos (Saturn) was theyoungest of the Titans,the children of Gaia andUranus (the earth and thesky). Uranus hated hischildren and hid them inMother Earth, causing hergreat pain. In revenge, she madeCronos a sickle and encouragedhim to kill his father. When hehad done so, he then marriedhis sister Rhea, but fearful thathis own children might riseagainst him, he swallowed themas soon as they were born: firstHestia, then Demeter, Hera,Hades, and Poseidon. However,when her sixth child, Zeus, wasdue, Rhea gave birth to him atthe dead of night, and entrustedhim to the care of her motherGaia. She gave Cronos a stone to swallow in the baby’s stead. When Zeuswas grown, he asked to be made Cronos’ cup-bearer. He mixed his fathera powerful emetic, causing him to vomit up both the stone and the fiveolder children. Zeus then led his brothers and sisters to war against theTitans whom they defeated and confined to Tartarus in the underworld.Thereafter, Zeus reigned supreme among the gods.
  • 22. Prometheus•24PrometheusPrometheus, a Titan, was the creator of humankind, whom he made out of clayand water. Although he and his brother Epimetheus sided with the Olympian godZeus (Roman Jupiter) during the war of the Titans (see box), Prometheus’ relationshipwith Zeus was uneasy because Zeus thought him wily and, being mortal, more loyal tohumankind than to the gods. In an argument over which parts of an animal should besacrificed to the gods, Prometheus tricked Zeus into choosing the bones and the fatrather than the meat. In retaliation, Zeus removed the gift of fire from the world,causing great suffering to humankind. In response, Prometheus stole fire from thesun, which he gave back to the world. Furious, Zeus chained Prometheus to arock, where his liver was eaten each day by an eagle, and grew back each night.EpimetheusThe name Epimetheus means “afterthought” or “hindsight”;Prometheus means “forethought” or “foresight.” As thenames suggest, Epimetheus, shown here making humanbeings out of clay to Prometheus’ model, was rather foolishand entirely without his brother’s guile and cunning.Turned into a monkeyWhen Prometheus was chained tothe rock by Zeus, Epimetheus, hisnot-so-clever brother, was turnedinto a monkey and banishedto the island of Pithecusa.Watched from AboveZeus, shown here in hischariot, did not trustPrometheus and kept awatchful eye on his activities,suspecting that the Titan’sloyalties lay with mortalsrather than immortals.Jar of sorrowsWhen the world first came into being, it was a happy place,all the sorrows and ills having been shut tightly into a jar (orbox) never to be opened. But the enmity between Zeus andPrometheus jeopardized paradise. When Zeus created Pandora(see p. 25), she opened the jar and paradise was destroyed.The Myth ofPrometheusby Piero di Cosimo(1461/62–1521)This painting depicts several storiesfrom the myth of Prometheus;the creation of man (assisted byEpimetheus); the theft of firefrom heaven, helped by Athena(Minerva); and there are referencesto the later story of Pandora’s box.HumankindThe first human race lasted untilZeus decided to send a great floodto destroy it. The only survivorswere Deucalion (Prometheus’son) and his wife Pyrrha (daughterof Epimetheus and Pandora).Zeus then offered them any giftthey desired, so they asked formore people. Each stone theythrew over their shouldersbecame a new man or woman.Clash of the TitansThe 12 Titans, children of Uranus, the sky,and Gaia, the earth, were the first gods.They were deposed after a 10-year struggleby Zeus, son of Cronos (see p. 23), and sent toTartarus in the underworld, locked behindbronze doors guarded by three 100-armedgiants. Zeus and his siblings then became thegods of Mount Olympus. Prometheus andEpimetheus sided with Zeus in this war; hisolder brothers, Menoetius and Atlas, supportedthe Titans—Zeus killed Menoetius and senthim to Tartarus; Atlas he condemned to supportthe heavens on his shoulders for eternity.
  • 23. Prometheus•25The first manPrometheus shaped the first man in the image of the gods,by mixing earth and water into clay; Athena, the goddess ofwisdom, breathed life into him. Whereas the other animalshung their heads to look at the ground, Prometheus stoodman upright, his head held high with his gaze to the stars.Chained to a rock by Zeus,Prometheus was doomed to30,000 years of agony. He escapedthe full term, however, by warningZeus of the oracle that foretoldthat any son borne to the seanymph Thetis, with whom Zeuswas in love, would be greater thanhis father. (Later,she married a mortal and gavebirth to Achilles, see p. 63.) Freedby Heracles (see pp. 50–51),with Zeus’ consent, Prometheusjoined the immortals on MountOlympus by swapping his ownmortality with the immortalityof the centaur Cheiron (see p.39), who, accidentally woundedby Heracles, was doomed toan eternity of sufferingand wished to die.PrometheusPrometheus gave humankindthe gift of thought, andthe secrets of many skills,including how to navigateand how to tell the time.Chariot of the sunHelios (later identified with Apollo)drove the sun across the sky in hischariot each day; once he allowedhis son Phaethon to take his place,but the youth was unable to controlthe horses of the sun. The earthwould have been destroyed by firehad not Zeus struck Phaethondown with a thunderbolt.Goddess of wisdomAthena passed on her knowledge and wisdomto Prometheus, who shared it with humankind.According to one myth, Prometheus had assistedat Athena’s birth from Zeus’ head, althoughother sources name the god Hephaestus (Vulcan).Sickness and miseryPrometheus passed on onlygood gifts to mankind; theills of the world he shut upin a jar. Until these werereleased by Pandora, the firstwoman, men lived carefreelives with no sorrow, hardwork, or disease.Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82)According to one Greektradition there have been fiveages of man: the Golden Ageduring the time of the TitanCronos, when humankind livedin ease and harmony; a SilverAge; two Bronze Ages (thesecond in the time of the heroes);and then the present Iron Age.PrometheusSteals FireWhen Zeuswas cheated outof the meat ofsacrificial animals, hedecided to withhold the giftof fire so that humankind wouldhave to eat the meat raw. ButPrometheus, guided up into thesky by Athena, stole fire fromthe chariot of the sun and broughtit down to earth in a fennel stalk;the origin of the Olympic torch.PrometheusFennelstalkAthenaPandora’s BoxPandora, the first mortal woman, was created by severalgods, on Zeus’ orders, to wreak havoc after Prometheusstole fire from heaven. Hephaestus (Vulcan) shaped her;Aphrodite (Venus) gave her beauty; Helios taught herto sing; Hermes (Mercury) to flatter and deceive; andAthena (Minerva) clothed her. Although Prometheustold Epimetheus to refuse any gifts from Zeus, he acceptedPandora and married her. As intended, she broughtchaos, opening a forbidden jar and releasing all the illsof the world that had been shut away. Only blind Hoperemained—Pandora coaxed it out to comfort humankind.
  • 24. AphroditeandAres•26Aphrodite and AresAphrodite (Roman Venus), the goddess of love, was married to the blacksmith god Hephaestus (Vulcan) to whom she was never faithful. One day, Helios, the sun god, came toHephaestus and told him that he had seen Aphrodite with her lover Ares (Mars), the god of war,in the blacksmith’s own palace. Deeply jealous, Hephaestus went to his workshop and—in a fury—fashioned a net of metal so fine and light that it was almost invisible, yet so strong that it could notbe broken. This he fastened to the bedposts and rafters in the bedroom. When Aphrodite andAres next went to bed, the net was released and bound them so tightly that they were unable toescape. Hephaestus then invited all the gods to come and laugh at the trapped lovers. Poseidon(Neptune), Hermes (Mercury), and Helioscame. Hephaestus demanded that Zeus(Jupiter) should repay him all the gifts he hadmade in order to win Aphrodite’s hand, but inthe end settled for a fine to be paid by Ares.Amid much laughter, Poseidon offered to standsurety for the debt, and so the lovers were freed.Golden goddessAphrodite is called “golden”by the poet Hesiod. She isalso called “laughter-loving,”although here the joke is on her.Imp of desireSome sources say that Eros(Cupid) was Aphrodite’s son byeither Ares, Hermes, or evenby her father Zeus. Others saythat he was the first god, andhatched from the world eggat the beginning of time.Cunning netWhen Hephaestus learned of Aphrodite’s betrayal, hemade a net of fine metal to catch the lovers.Hephaestus was the blacksmith god and wasworshiped in Athens as the patron of craftsmen.Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and Aresby Tintoretto, originally Jacopo Robusti (1518–94)This painting shows Hephaestus fixing a net to the bed to trap Ares andAphrodite together. Oddly enough, Aphrodite does not realize that he issetting a trap and he does not notice Ares under the bed.All-seeing sunHelios, the sun, sawAphrodite and Arestogether in the palaceof Hephaestus, andimmediately informedthe cuckolded god.This Greek sculpture shows Aphrodite emergingfrom the sea, wringing the water fromher hair as she comes to the island of Paphoson a giant scallop shell.AphroditeScallop shellWet hairFoamThe Birth of AphroditeSome sources say that Aphrodite was a daughter ofZeus, but in the poet Hesiod’s account, she was bornfrom the seafoam (aphros) that gathered around the genitalsof Uranus after they had been cut off and flung away by hisson Cronos (Saturn—see p. 23). The drops of blood thatfell became the Furies, Giants, and the ash-tree nymphscalled the Meliae. Aphrodite came to shore at Paphos inCyprus. As she stepped onto land, grass grew under herfeet. Also called Anadyomene—“She who emerges”—shewas accompanied by Eros (desire) from the beginning.
  • 25. AphroditeandAres•27Goddess of sensual pleasureWhile Hera (Juno) blessed the marriage bed, Aphrodite,her daughter by Zeus, was the goddess of love andpassion. She offered aid to human lovers, but crueland vengeful punishment to those who scorned her.Barking dogThe dog tries to alert Hephaestus to the presence of Ares under the bed buthe remains oblivious. Ares and Aphrodite, although they were caught on thisoccasion, managed to have several children together: Deimos (fear), Phobos(panic), Harmonia (concord), and, according to some sources, Eros (desire).Bed of loveAphrodite had many lovers includingDionysus (Bacchus), who fathered her sonthe phallic god Priapus, and Hermes whofathered the twin-sexed Hermaphroditus.Mortal lovers included Adonis (see pp. 32–33)and Anchises, who was the father of herson, the hero Aeneas (see pp. 66–67).The story of Aphrodite’saffair with Ares, and therevenge of her husbandHephaestus, is sung by theblind bard Demodocus at thePhaeacian Games in TheOdyssey, to the delight ofOdysseus (see pp. 64–65).Jealous husbandHephaestus was enthralledby Aphrodite, and deeplyjealous of her infidelities.Hephaestus himself is earlierrepresented as the husbandof Aglaia, the youngest ofthe Graces, and also ashaving been smitten withpassion for Athena. Hisattempted rape of Athenawas unsuccessful, but wherehis seed fell on the groundit gave birth to Ericthonius,the king of Athens whoinvented the chariot.Crippled blacksmithHephaestus was the son of Hera (Juno). Some say that Zeus was his father,but other writers say that he was conceived without intercourse. A volcanicdeity, he is the blacksmith and metalworker of the gods. When he wasborn lame, Hera threw him from Olympus in disgust.Ares, the warriorAres cowers under the bed until Hephaestusleaves the room. Ares, although he was thegod of war, was not the god of victory, andon several occasions suffered humiliationin battle, as he does in this story of love.Ares, God of WarAres loved to stir up trouble, often inleague with Eris, the goddess of strife (see p.63). He was a bully and a braggart and,apart from Aphrodite, no one, not even hisparents Zeus and Hera, cared for him.Hades, however, appreciated the steadystream of young men who entered theunderworld thanks to Ares’ warmongering.Aphrodite, Goddess of LoveAphrodite was only interested in makinglove. On the one occasion when Aphroditeworked at a loom, Athena, goddess of artsand crafts, protested most vigorously at thisinvasion of her own domain. Aphroditehumbly apologized, and has never donea day’s work since.Aphrodite, Goddess from the EastThe worship of Aphrodite emanated from the island of Cyprus, which wasculturally influenced from the Near East. She is related to the goddess Ishtar (seep. 19); her love for Adonis (see pp. 32–33) echoes that of Ishtar and Tammuz, and theexistence of temple prostitutes in her temple in Corinth reflects the custom in thetemples of Ishtar. Herodotus points out that the Babylonian custom of every womanprostituting herself once in the temple of the goddess was also to be found in Cyprus.
  • 26. TheRapeofPersephone•28The Rape of PersephonePersephone (Roman Proserpine), the daughter of Zeus (Jupiter) and Demeter (Ceres),was carried off by Hades (Pluto) to be his queen in the underworld. Devastated, Demeter,the earth goddess, refused to fulfil her duties until she was returned to her. ButPersephone had eaten a pomegranate seed while she was away, which bound her to Hades.Zeus agreed to a compromise: Persephone would spend four (some sources say six) monthson earth with her mother and the rest of the year in the underworld. This story explains theannual death and rebirth inherent in nature’s cycle—when Persephone is away, Demeter istoo sad to fulfill her duties, but when shereturns, Demeter works with renewedvigor. The myths of Persephone arecomplex because in their inner meaningsthey go to the heart of ancient Greekreligion. In one version of her story, Zeushimself falls in love with her, and seducesher by taking the form of a snake andenveloping her in his coils—the resultingchild is Dionysus (Bacchus). In the morecommon version, she is abducted byHades—but a Hades who reveals manyfeatures of Dionysus in his archaic roleas lord of the underworld (see p. 59).Hades and PersephoneHades was sometimes called Pluto, whichderives from the Greek word for “riches.”The recipent of buried treasure, he was,therefore, considered the god of agriculturalwealth. As such, he exerted influence overcrops and cultivation—hence his marriage tothe earth goddess’ daughter. (In earliertimes Persephone and Demeter may havebeen a single divinity.)Hades in loveHades carries Persephone away. According to Ovid’sRoman version of the story, Aphrodite (Venus)instructed Eros (Cupid) to pierce the underworldgod with an arrow of desire for his niece, in order todemonstrate her power over the other gods.Royal tridentHades struck the groundwith his trident to open upa way to the underworld,where he took Persephoneto be his queen.Weeping water nymphWhen Hades seized Persephone, the nymph Cyane rose from the lakeand rebuked him—but he ignored her. Desolate, Cyane wept so muchthat her blood turned to water, and she dissolved. When Persephone’sgrieving mother Demeter came looking for her, all the mute Cyane coulddo was bear up Persephone’s lost girdle on the surface of the water.CerberusHades galloped over the fields, guarded byCerberus, the three-headed watchdog of theunderworld, breathing venomous fire.Pure maidenPersephone, first known asCore, “the maiden,” was pure andbeautiful. Persephone means “bringerof destruction”—as Hades’ queen, noone could die unless she cut a hairfrom their heads.PersephoneThe island of sicilyThe story is set in Sicily, wherethe maiden Core is wanderinginnocently through the meadowspicking flowers - usually said tobe poppies, which were sacredto Demeter, although violetsand lilies are also mentioned.
  • 27. TheRapeofPersephone•29Persephone was stolen awayfrom the island of Sicily. Theearth giant Typhoeus wasimprisoned beneath theisland and his struggles werecreating earthquakes. Hadeswas concerned in case theearth gaped open and letin daylight, which wouldfrighten the dead.Black horsesHades’ black horses drew his fiery chariottowards the chasm of the underworld. Theywere among his most prized possessions,along with his helmet of invisibility, whichhe once lent to Perseus (see pp. 46–47).Demeter is shown on this Greek black-figure amphora, together with her daughterPersephone and the god Apollo in his chariot.SnakeSnakes have many meanings inGreek myth depending on thecontext. A symbol of fertility inearlier religions, the snakehad similar connotations as anattribute of Persephone’s mother,Demeter, the earth/grain goddess.The artist may also be referringhere to the story of Zeus taking theform of a snake and envelopingPersephone in his coils.The Rape of Persephoneby Christoph Schwartz (or Shwarz) (1545–92)The painting shows the early part of the story of Persephone, when heruncle, Hades, whisks her into his infernal chariot and carries her off to behis queen in the underworld. He ignores the pleas of the water nymphCyane, who sees what is happening and tries to stop him.Chariot snakeornament The Story of DemeterThe daughter of Cronos (Saturn) andRhea (Ops), Demeter was sometimesportrayed with a horse’s head. One of theOlympians, she left Olympus in despair whenPersephone disappeared. One day,she came to Eleusis, near Athens, whereshe stayed with the king and queen in theguise of an old nurse. Grateful for theirkindness, she bathed their son in fire eachnight to make him immortal. But one nightshe was interrupted and the spellwas broken. She then revealed herself inher divine form and ordered that a templeshould be built to her (see below). She alsogave the child, Triptolemus, seed grain, aplow, and the knowledge of agriculture,so that he could teach the skill to humankind.The Mysteries of EleusisThe Mysteries of Eleusis were the mostprofound and secret rituals of Greekreligion, and it was believed that they “heldthe whole human race together.” Therefore,it was vital to observe them each year.Initiates were seen as superior beingsbecause of the vision they had received oflife beyond death. The secrecy the initiatesmaintained was so strict that it is not knownexactly what they experienced, but they seemto have had a three-fold revelation: theassurance that Persephone had given birthin fire to a divine child, the Aeon; a beatificvision of the maiden herself; and the displayof an ear of wheat, with its promise of newlife. The Mysteries were observed for 2,000years; they came to an end when Alaric, kingof the Goths, sacked Eleusis in 396 ce.
  • 28. OrpheusandEurydice•30Lord of the DeadHades was made ruler of the dead when he and his brothersZeus and Poseidon drew lots for the lordship of the sky, thesea, and the underworld. The earth was left as commonterritory, though Hades rarely ventured there except whenabsolutely necessary—as he didwhen he seized Persephone tobe his bride (see pp. 28–29).Orpheus and EurydiceOrpheus was married to the nymph Eurydice, whom he loved dearly. One day she waswalking by the banks of a river when she met the shepherd Aristaeus. Amazed at her beauty,Aristaeus immediately fell in love and pursued her through the countryside. Eurydice fled, but asshe ran, she stepped on a snake. The bite proved fatal. Desolate at her loss, Orpheus determinedto journey into the underworld (from which no living mortal had ever returned), to beg for hiswife to be returned to him. Persephone (Roman Proserpine), queen of the underworld, was somoved by his sorrow, that she agreed to his request on condition that he did not look at Eurydiceon the way back to the daylight. But as they neared the end of their journey, Orpheus could nothelp glancing back to make sure his beloved was still with him, and as he looked she faded beforehis eyes, lost to him forever. Orpheus never recovered and lived in misery until his death.Orpheus sang in praise of the god Dionysus(Bacchus, see pp. 58–59) and founded Orphism, acult whose mysteries centered on the god DionysusZagreus, who was torn apart by the Titans. Humansacrifice may have played a role in Orphism, andOrpheus himself is said to have been torn apart bythe Maenads, who were punished by Dionysus.The FatesThe Three Fates were the daughters of the night: Clotho(“the spinner”), Lachesis (“the drawer of lots”), and Atropos(“the inevitable”). Even Zeus was not more powerful thanthe fates, who measured out each man’s destiny like a lengthof thread—one spun it, one measured it, and the third cut it.Queen of the underworldPersephone, the dreaded queen of the underworld, was themother of the god of the Orphic mysteries, DionysusZagreus, who was fathered by Zeus in the form of aserpent. This may be the reason why she took pity onOrpheus, the poet who had sung Dionysus’ praises.Orpheus in theUnderworldReclaiming Eurydice,or The Musicby Jean Restout II (1692–1768)This painting shows Orpheusbegging Hades (Pluto) and hiswife Persephone, rulers of theunderworld, to return his wifeEurydice to him because he cannot livewithout her. He is singing and playinghis lyre in an attemptto soften their hearts.The usually mercilessHades signals to hiswife Persephone thathe has relented.The MusesThe nine Muses were the daughters of Zeusand the Titaness Mnemosyne (memory).They were regarded as the goddesses of art,poetry, and music—hence artists, writers, andmusicians still speak of being “inspired by themuse.” Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, wasthe mother of Orpheus; when he was torn apartby the Maenads (see p. 31), the other Museshelped her gather his limbs and bury them at thefoot of Mount Olympus. The Muses themselveslived on Mount Helicon. The other eightMuses were: Clio (history), Euterpe (flute-playing), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (lyricpoetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy),Polymnia (mime), and Urania (astronomy).
  • 29. OrpheusandEurydice•31Hesitant walkEurydice, newly arrived in the land of the dead, stillwalked slowly with a limp from her injured foot.When she was returning to the upper world, thiscaused her to lag behind Orpheus, making himdoubt that she was still with him and glance back.Orpheus singingThe singing of Orpheus even eased the tormentsof the damned. According to Ovid, the ghostsceased from their rounds of fruitless labor andconstant torment, and listened to his plea in tears.Even the Furies cried. Hades and Persephonewere so moved that they could not refuse him.Guide of soulsThe god Hermes (Mercury) has a role inthe underworld as the psychopompos, or guideof souls. Here, he leads Eurydice down toher new home. Unusually, he is shownwith wings, rather than winged sandals.Orpheus was torn apart by Maenads, thewild women in the retinue of Dionysus (seepp. 58–59), because he would not join intheir revels. Only his head survived—thisfloated down the river Hebrus singing, andwas washed ashore on the island of Lesbos,where it began to prophesy, until itwas silenced by Apollo.Aristaeus, the shepherd who chasedEurydice, was a son of Apollo, and hetaught mankind the art ofbeekeeping. For his part inEurydice’s death, the gods destroyedhis bees. His mother, the nymphCyrene, advised him to ask the adviceof the sea god Proteus. Proteus toldhim to make offerings to the shade ofEurydice; when he did so, the beesrecovered and swarmed up.OrpheusOrpheus was revered as a great poet andmusician—the son of the muse Calliopeand the son or pupil of Apollo. Orpheuscharmed all the nymphs with his music, butwas indifferent to them until he met the lovelyEurydice, whom he married. He invited themarriage god Hymen to the wedding, butHymen was in low spirits; his torch sputteredand smoked and would not stay alight.The underworld, also called Hades after its ruler, was the land of the dead. Hermes took thesouls of the dead to the River Styx where they paid Charon, the ferryman, to row themacross. Cerberus the three-headed watchdog prevented escape. Hades had several entrancesto the upper world and could also be reached by sea, as Odysseus did (see pp. 64­-65). Themajority of ghosts—conceived of literally as shadows of their former selves—stayed on thefeatureless Plain of Asphodel. A lucky few went to Elysium, the islands of the blessed. Anunlucky few were condemned to everlasting torment in Tartarus—among these were the Titans(see p. 23); King Tantalus, who killed his son, abused the gods’ friendship and was condemnedto stand chin-deep in water that he could never drink (thus forever “tantalized”); and Sisyphus,deceitful and disobedient, who was forced to roll a heavy rock uphill for eternity—everytime it neared the top, the rock rolled back down.The UnderworldCerberus by William Blake (1757–1827)
  • 30. AphroditeandAdonis•32Aphrodite and AdonisAdonis was a beautiful youth with whom the goddesses Aphrodite (Roman Venus) andPersephone (Proserpine, see pp. 28–29) fell in love. He died as a result of their quarrels, killedat the request of Persephone (who wanted to keep Adonis in the underworld with her forever) byAres (Mars), Aphrodite’s jealous lover, who was disguised as a boar. Adonis was the son of Cinyras,king of Paphos in Cyprus, and his daughter Smyrna (Myrrha). Aphrodite had made Smyrna fallin love and sleep with her father while he was drunk, in revenge for Cinyras boasting that hisdaughter was more beautiful than she was herself. When Smyrna fell pregnant, her father triedto kill her but Aphrodite, now feeling sorry for Smyrna, turned her into a myrrh tree. The treesubsequently split in two and the beautiful infant Adonis tumbled out. Aphrodite placed the babyin a chest and gave him to Persephone for safekeeping. Persephone was immediately infatuated.Warnings of a goddessAphrodite clings to Adonis, trying to persuade him not togo hunting. She constantly warned him against exposinghimself to the dangers of hunting wild beasts—fearingespecially the wild boars that could so easily take his life.The struggle betweenAphrodite and Persephone forAdonis led Zeus to ask the museCalliope (see p. 30) to make adecision about the situation. Shedecided that Adonis shouldspend a third of his time withAphrodite in the upper world, athird with Persephone in theunderworld, and the rest hecould do with as he pleased. ToPersephone’s anger, Aphrodite,with the aid of her magic girdle,persuaded him to spend his freetime with her as well.Careless CupidAccording to the Roman poet Ovid,Aphrodite fell in love with Adonisbecause her son Eros (Cupid), the godof love, accidentally grazed her withone of his arrows while he was kissingher one day, thus inflaming her withpassion for the beautiful youth.Born from a treeSome sources say that afterhis mother had been turnedinto a myrrh tree, the babyAdonis continued to developinside the tree. When it wastime for him to be born, Ilithyia,the goddess of childbirth,released him. Others say that—foreshadowing his death—awild boar charged the treeand split it in two.Aphrodite and Adonisby Hendrick Goltzius(1558–1616/17)This painting shows the goddessAphrodite and the youth Adonisin a summer embrace, just beforehe goes off on a hunting trip.Aphrodite entreats him notto go because she isfrightened for his safety.White RosesThe rose, a flower sacred to Aphrodite,was originally white. According toone story, as she ran to help the dyingAdonis, Aphrodite stepped on a thornand the blood that fell onto the whiterose petals stained them red.Hunting dogsAdonis loved hunting and only laughedat Aphrodite who, prophetically, wasterrified that he would be harmedon one of his hunting trips.
  • 31. AphroditeandAdonis•33Determined to huntAdonis comforts Aphrodite, but isdetermined to take his leave whilethe sun is shining and his dogs arekeen to take up the chase.Fearless youthAdonis was a fearless youth and his bravado in ignoring Aphrodite’s warnings led to hisdownfall. Persephone, angered that Aphrodite should have twice as much of Adonis’time as she did, complained to Aphrodite’s lover Ares (see pp. 26–27). Furiously jealous,Ares changed into a wild boar and, evading Adonis’ spear, mortally wounded him.The dying days of summerIt is harvest time and the summer is coming towardan end, indicating that it will soon be time for Adonisto visit Persephone in the underworld. Symbolically,it also prefigures Adonis’s death.Chariot of a GoddessAphrodite’s golden chariot is drawn by two swans. Aphrodite wasoften accompanied by birds, especially doves and sparrows.Echo and Narcissusby Nicholas Poussin (1594–1665)Echo, fading to a shadow from her unrequited love for Narcissus, gazes on himas he lies dead by a pool in a forest glade, while Eros, the god of love, looks on.When Adonis died, he should haveremained in the underworld, never to see theupper world and Aphrodite again. But shebegged Zeus not to allow Persephone to takehim from her completely and he agreed to letAdonis join her above ground for the fourmonths of the summer each year.Red materialThe red material suggests the dropsof blood that fell to the ground asAdonis lay dying, charged by a wildboar. Where these drops fell, theresprang up blood-red anemoneflowers. Aphrodite wept as sheclasped him in her arms.“I shall sing of Aphrodite, born on CyprusWho brings sweet gifts to mortals and whose lovelyface ever shines with a radiant smile.”Homeric Hymn to AphroditeEcho and NarcissusEcho was a nymph who, because she offended one of the gods, was doomed not to speak, except to repeat the last syllable of whatever had been said toher. Some say that Hera (Juno) laid this curse on her, exasperated by her constantchatter; others that it was Pan (see p. 42), annoyed by her cloying love. It was hermisfortune to fall in love with Narcissus, the beautiful son of the river Cephissusand the nymph Liriope. But as she was only able to echo him, Narcissus ignoredher, and she faded to a shadow. Retribution, however, awaited Narcissus. Selfishand dismissive of all his admirers, he fell in love with his own reflection in a poolon Mount Helicon. Sick for love, he lay by the water’s edge gazing at his ownreflection until he died, and the gods turned him into the narcissus flower.Tammuz, the Eastern AdonisAdonis is the Phoenician word for “lord” and the story of Adonis’ death and resurrection reflects aspects of the Near-eastern god Tammuz (see p. 19). Tammuz was the spouse of the goddessIshtar, who descended to the underworld to rescue him from death. He is essentially a fertility god,associated with the miracle of the harvest. His death and rebirth were celebrated each spring andautumn and the spectacle of women weeping for Tammuz is mentioned in the Bible (Ezekiel 8:14).Like Adonis, he was killed by a boar and while he is in the underworld all vegetation withers. TheSumerian “Innanna’s Journey to Hell” is an early version of Ishtar and Tammuz, under the namesInnanna and Dumuzi, and records an early song for the lost god: “Who is your sister? I am she. Whois your mother? I am she. Day dawns the same for you and me. This is the same day we shall see.”
  • 32. CupidandPsyche•34Cupid and PsycheThe story of Cupid and Psyche is a Roman one inwhich Venus (Greek Aphrodite), the goddess of love,became infuriated by Psyche’s beauty and told Cupid (Eros)to make her fall in love with the vilest of men. Unexpectedly,Cupid fell in love with her himself and married her. But Psychebecame lonely because her new husband only visited at night, andhe told her that she must never look at him or their unborn child wouldnot be immortal. To combat Psyche’s loneliness, her sisters came to stay but,jealous of her lovely home, they convinced her that her unseen husband must be a monster.Terrified, Psyche took a lamp and looked at him while he slept—he awoke and fled. Full ofremorse, Psyche searched for him everywhere, eventually coming to the palace of Venus,where she was set several impossible tasks. The last led to her falling into a deathlike sleep.Cupid revived her and took her to Olympus, where Jupiter (Zeus) made her immortal.The birth of PsycheThe story of Cupid and Psyche has manyfairy-tale characteristics. In true fairy-talestyle, Psyche’s parents are never namedexcept as “a king and queen.” Psyche’stwo older sisters, shown here holdingthe newborn Psyche, were eclipsedby the beauty of their new sister.The Story of Cupidand Psycheby Jacopo del Sellaio(1441/42–93)This wooden panel from a chest givenas a wedding gift, shows the love storyof Cupid and Psyche. Designed toconcentrate on the love angle, severalimportant episodes within the story areleft out, and less important references,such as the conception and birth ofPsyche, are included. Presumably this isbecause, as it was painted on a weddingchest, a reference to having childrenwas considered appropriate.Love Fallsin LoveCupid, sent by his motherVenus to visit vengeance onPsyche by making her fall inlove with a vagabond, was himselfcaptivated by her beauty, and enlistedthe god Apollo to help him win her.Worshiping suitorsEvery day, people from far andwide came to admire the beautifulprincess. They said she wasVenus in human form, and beganto neglect the worship of thegoddess—much to Venus’ anger.Temple of ApolloConcerned for Psyche, her fatherconsulted the oracle of Apollo at Miletus.He was told that Psyche must dress forher wedding, climb a mountain, and thereawait a nonhuman suitor.Cupid and Psyche—a Fairy taleT he story of Cupid and Psyche shows myth shading into fairy tale. It isincluded as a story-within-the-story in a Latin novel, the Metamorphosesof Apuleius, usually known as The Golden Ass. Although Apuleius presents thestory as an allegory of the Soul (Psyche) in search of Love (Cupid), and setsthe story in the world of the Roman gods, it is recognizably a version of a fairytale widely distributed in the Indo-European tradition, known to folklorists as“The Search for the Lost Husband” or “The Animal Bridegroom.” Variantsinclude “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Black Bull of Norroway”; over 60versions have been recorded from Italian oral tradition.
  • 33. CupidandPsyche•35Sleeping BeautyPsyche’s sleep here is a reminder of the deathly sleep thatcame upon her when she opened the box of beauty fromthe underworld (see above). In true fairy-tale style, shecould only be woken by her true love, Cupid.Psyche and Charon by John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope (1829–1908)Grieving parentsPsyche’s parents—shownhere with her two sistersand their elderlyhusbands—were shocked atApollo’s prophecy. ButPsyche—realizing that theworship of her beauty musthave offended Venus—begged them not to grieve.Doomed conspiratorsPsyche’s sisters’ plan to ruin her happinessproved their downfall. In revenge, Psyche(who had been prevented from committingsuicide by Pan) told them that Cupid nowwished to marry one of them instead. Each,in turn, climbed the mountain to meet him—but when they jumped off, Zephyrus did notcatch them and they plunged to their deaths.Laid on the turfThe wind laid Psyche down onthe soft turf, where Cupid’sinvisible servants found her.Obedient to the will of thegods, Psyche had declaredherself ready for her newhusband, even if he was bornto destroy the world.Jealous sistersPsyche’s sisters were summoned to keepher company. But they were jealous ofher happiness, claiming that her husbandwas really a serpent, who would devourboth her and her unborn child.Alone on a mountain topPsyche stood on the mountain top toawait her spirit suitor. Zephyrus, thewest wind, lifted her off her feet andwafted her to Cupid’s beautiful palace.Dire warningCupid, who made himself invisible toPsyche, told her not to try to see him,because if she did so, their unbornchild would not be born immortal.Palace of luxuryCupid’s palace had jeweled floors andgold and silver walls. But despite the luxury,Psyche was lonely, for Cupid’s servants, likeCupid himself, remained invisible to her.Winged flightCupid, angry that Psyche had disobeyedhim, flew away. Psyche tried to hold onto his leg, and was carried some distanceinto the air, but soon had to let go.A god discoveredWhen Psyche shone her lamp on Cupid’s face,meaning to slay him if he were indeed a monster,she was so shocked by his beauty that she spilled hotoil on his shoulder. But first she wounded herselfon one of his arrows, thus falling in love with Love.Psyche’s Search for CupidPsyche searched everywhere for Cupid and eventually braved Venus’palace. Here, she became a slave and was given various tasks: the first,to separate a roomful of mixed grain, she achieved with the help of acolony of sympathetic ants; the last, borrowing a box of beauty from thegoddess of the underworld (see pp. 28–29), was accomplished with the helpof a speaking tower. Aware of the danger, Psyche acted upon the tower’sadvice and took two pieces of bread soaked in honey to appease the watchdog Cerberus, and two coins in her mouth to pay Charon, the ferryman, totake her across the River Styx and back. But against its advice, she openedthe box, and fell into a deathly sleep. Finally she was revived by Cupid,granted immortality, and gave birth to their daughter Voluptas (pleasure).
  • 34. ArtemisandActaeon•36Dogs of DeathActaeon’s faithful hounds did not recognizetheir master once the furious Artemis hadtransformed him into a stag. True to theirnature, they chased and killed him.Artemis and ActaeonArtemis (Roman Diana) was goddess of thehunt and the moon. Likeher brother Apollo (seepp. 38–39), she was a childof Zeus and the Titan Leto.She was also the goddess ofchildbirth and, by extension,of all young creatures, becauseher mother gave birth to herwithout pain. The story ofActaeon seeing her bathe andher revenge in turning himinto a stag to be set upon by his own dogs, is best told inOvid’s Metamorphoses. This is a Roman source, although thestory is Greek in origin. Artemis’ reaction may be accountedfor by the importance of her eternal virginity, which shebegged Zeus to grant her at the age of three. However,some sources claim she was taking revenge on Actaeon forhaving claimed to be a better hunter than she was.Zeus seduces Callisto disguised as Artemisby Jean-Simon Barthélemy (1743–1811)Zeus kneels before Callisto disguised, wearing the crescent moon of Artemis.ActaeonActaeon’s father Aristaeus was the son ofApollo; his mother Autonoë was the daughterof Cadmus, founder of Thebes (see p. 49),and brother of Europa (see p. 45).Artemis surprised by Actaeonby Titian, originally Tiziano Vecelli(o) (c. 1488/90–1576)This picture shows the moment when Actaeon, while hunting in the forest,accidentally comes upon Artemis and her nymphs bathing. The virgin goddessis horrified, tries to cover herself, and will avenge herself by turning Actaeoninto a stag to be hunted down and killed by his own hounds.Crescent MoonArtemis wears a crescent-moondiadem in her hair, showing heralso to be a moon goddess.Callisto, Tricked by ZeusCallisto, Artemis’ favorite nymph, caught the eye of Zeus, who seducedher disguised as Artemis. Artemis was furious when she learned of this andbanished Callisto, even though she had tried to resist Zeus’ advances. Shortlyafterward, when Callisto gave birth to a son, Arco, Zeus’ jealous wife, Hera(Juno), turned her into a bear and Callisto fled. Arco was rescued and 15 yearslater pursued and caught his mother during a hunt. To prevent him fromkilling her, Zeus whisked them both up into the sky where they became theconstellations of the Great Bear and Arctophylax, or “guardian of the bear.”
  • 35. ArtemisandActaeon•37Sacred grottoArtemis is seen bathing in her secret cave at the heart of thevalley of Gargaphie near Thebes. She carved the arches fromthe living rock, and made the pool from a spring of pure water.Daughter of the riverArtemis is attended by the nymphCrocale whose father was Ismenus,god of the river Ismenus in Boeotia,near Thebes, and a son of Apollo andthe Nereid, Melia. As Crocale bindsher hair, Artemis suddenly starts backin horror at the sight of Actaeon.Artemis’ maids of honorThe six nymphs depicted here are Crocale, Nephele, Hyale,Rhanis, Psecas, Phiale—just a handful of Artemis’ huge retinuewhich included 60 ocean nymphs, who acted as maids of honor,and 20 river nymphs, who looked after her clothes and her dogs.Artemis, goddess of hunting,used her skills to protect hermother Leto in the sacred grove atDelphi, striking down the giantTityus who was trying to rape her.Water nymphs of ArtemisArtemis was always attended by water nymphs, bothNaiads—spring, river, and lake nymphs—and Nereids,or sea nymphs. In classical mythology, every principalspring and river was inhabited by one or more Naiads.Unarmed goddessUnprotected, her bow and arrowin the care of her nymphs, Artemiscould do nothing but dash springwater in Actaeon’s face. At the firsttouch of water, he sprouted antlersand gradually turned into a stag,a form in which he would beunable to tell anyone that hehad seen her naked.“The blazing eye of a young girl doesnot escape me, if she has tasted of a man:for such I have an experienced eye”Actaeon, in Toxotides of AeschylusAnimal skinsAnimal skins hang out to dry fromthe boughs of a tree, reminding us ofArtemis’ role as the goddess of hunting.Stag’s HeadThe stag’s skull placed on acolumn is a forewarningof Actaeon’s metamorphosisand death.Goddess of theCrossroadsHecate was the Greek goddess of the night, ghosts, andmagic, and a haunter of crossroads.Her statue with three faces lion,dog, and mare—used to be placedwhere three roads met, one facelooking down each road. Hecate issaid to be the daughter of Asteria,Leto’s sister. She is sometimesidentified with her cousin, Artemis,and like her she is closely associatedwith the moon. In her triple aspectshe is said to represent Selene(Luna) in heaven, Artemis on earth,and Persephone (Proserpine) in theunderworld (see pp. 28–29).
  • 36. ApolloandDaphne•38ApolloandDaphneApollo,thegodofarchery,music,prophecy,andlight,wasverypowerful,butnot alwayssuccessfulinlove.HisfirstlovewasthenymphDaphne,whorefusedhim.Apollo’sfierypassionandDaphne’scoldresistancewereboththefaultofEros(RomanCupid),who,angryatjokesApollohadmade,shothimwithagoldenarrowtomakehimfallinlove,andDaphnewithaleadenonesothatshewouldrejecthim.ApollopursuedDaphnewithlovingentreaties,allofwhichshespurned,asfarasthebanksoftheRiverPeneus.Here,justashereachedoutforher,shecalleduponherfather,therivergod,forhelpandwasimmediatelytransformedintoalaureltree.Apollowasleftbereft.UnlikehisfatherZeus(Jupiter),Apollodidtake“no”forananswer,althoughhesometimesexactedterriblerevenge.Forexample,whentheSibylDeiphoberefusedhimdespitebeingofferedasmanyyearsoflifeasshecouldholdgrainsofsandhewassoangrythathegaveherathousandyearsmorelifebutwithouteternalyouth.ShelivedoutherdesiccateddaysinajaratCumae,refusedheronlywish—todie.LonghairApollolethishairgrowlong.Intributetohim,Romanmendidnotcuttheirhairshortuntiltheywere17or18.TransformationDaphnewastransformedintoalaureltreewhenshecalleduponherfather,Peneus,tohelpher.Here,thefirstlaurelleavesarespringingfromherfingers.LaurelwreathHeartbroken,ApollosworethatifhehadlostDaphne,hewouldatleasthonorhermemorybywearingawreathoflaurelleavesfromthenon.ThelaurelandthepalmwerebothsacredtoApollo.AmongApollo’sloveswasHyacinthus,mortal,good-natured,andhandsomesonofthemuseClio.ButZephyrus,thewestwind,alsowishedtobeHyacinthus’friend,andinafitofjealousycausedhisdeathbyblowingApollo’sdiscusoffcoursewhilethetwowerehavingasportingmatch.Thebluehyacinthflowerappearedwheretheyoungman’sbloodfell.ApolloandDaphnebyGiovanniBattistaTiepolo(1696–1770)ThispaintingshowsthegodApolloreachingouttoclaspinhisarmsthereluctantnymphDaphne.Shehascalledtoherfather,therivergodPeneus,whoanswersherpleaandisturningherintoalaureltree.EroshidesbehindDaphne.DaphneDaphnerejectedApollowhenshewasanymph;asatreeshestilltrembledandshrankfromhiskissesandcaresses.Eros,GodofLoveThegodofsexualdesire,Eros,wasoftenportrayedasaspitefulchild,whodelightedincausingmischiefwithhisarrowsofdesire.ApolloApollo,hishaloshowinghisroleasthegodoflight,hadspecialcareforflocksandherds.ThisrelatestohisstintasaherdsmanforKingAdmetus—workgiventohimbyhisfatherZeusaspunishmentforkillingthecyclopes(seeboxbelow).
  • 37. 39•ApolloandDaphneDaphne,thewaternymphpursuedbyApollo,wasalsolovedbyamortal,Leucippus.Leucippusfollowedherdisguisedasamaiden,butthejealousApolloadvisedthenymphstobathenaked.WhenLeucippusremovedhisclothes,hisdeceptionwasdiscoveredandthenymphstorehimtopieces.RivergodDaphne’sfatherlistenstoherdesperatepleasandsavesher.Theoarandtheoverturnedwaterurnaretraditionalsymbolsofarivergod.SpitefulchildEros,thecauseofApollo’sunhappyloveaffair,hidesfromthegodbehindDaphne.Heissometimespunishedforhisdeeds,particularlybyArtemis(Diana)andAthena(Minerva)whobothrepresentchastity.DaphnewasoneofArtemis’retinueofnymphs(seepp.36–37).ArrowsItwasApollo’sroleasthearchergodthatledhimtobeidentifiedwiththesun,whoseraysfalllikearrowstoearth,andearnedhimthenamePhoebus,“thebright.”ThelaurelwassacredtoApolloasaresultofhisloveforDaphne.AthisshrineatDelphi,hishighpriestess,Pythia,chewedalaurelleafbeforeutteringanoracle.Theanswersgiveninherdivinelyinspiredecstasywereoftenobscureandambiguous.ThephilosopherHeraclituswrote,“ThelordwhoseoracleisinDelphineitherdeclaresnorconceals,butgivesasign.”“Apolloeventheswansingsofyou.AsitlandsuponthebanksoftheriverPeneus.Thesweet-singingbardsingsofyouFirstandlastwithhishigh-tunedlyre.Haillord! Hearmysong.”HomericHymntoApolloThisGreekvotivereliefdatingfromthe5thcenturybceshowsafamilysacrificingabulltoAsclepiusandhisdaughterHygeia.AsclepiusAsclepiuswasthesonofApolloandthenymphCoronis.ButCoronistookahumanlover,Ischys,and,inafitofanger,Apollokilledher.HesoonrepentedandtoldHermes(Mercury)torescuehisunbornchildfromherwomb.Apollothenentrustedthechild,Asclepius,toCheiron(seebox),whoeducatedhim,andhegrewuptobethegodofhealthandmedicine.Athena(Minerva),alsohelpedhimbygivinghimtwovialsofbloodfromtheMedusa—bloodfromherleftsideraisedthedead;bloodfromtherightcauseddeath.WhenAsclepiusraisedHippolytus,Theseus’deadson(seep.57),Hades(Pluto)thegodoftheunderworldcomplainedtoZeus,whofelledAsclepiuswithathunderbolt.Apolloretaliatedandkilledthecyclopes(seep.64)whohadmadethethunderbolt.ZeuslaterrestoredAsclepiustolife.CheironCheironwasthegreatestofthecentaurs,whowerehalf-man,half-horse.HewasthesonofCronos(RomanSaturn,seep.23)andthenymphPhilyra,towhomCronoshadappearedasahorse.TheothercentaursweredescendedfromCentaurus,agrandsonofAres(Mars),whomatedwiththemaresonMountPelion.UnlikethegentleandintelligentCheiron,thecentaurswereuncivilizedandbrutish.ApollotaughtCheironarchery,medicine,andmusic;he,inturn,tutoredApollo’ssonAsclepius,aswellastheheroJasonandhisowngreat-grandsonAchilles(seepp.52–53andp.63).Cheironwasanimmortal,butcededhisimmortalitytoPrometheus(seepp.24–25)toescapeaneternityofpainafterHeraclesaccidentallywoundedhim(seep.51).Zeusgrantedhimthelesserimmortalityoftheskies,whereheistheconstellationCentaurus.
  • 38. KingMidas•40A Vain BoastThe god Pan, playinghis pipes to a group ofimpressionable nymphson Mount Tmolus, boastedthat his music was betterthan that of the god ofmusic, Apollo. Apollochallenged him to a contest,with the mountaingod as judge.King MidasMidas, King of Phrygia, was unlucky in his dealingswith the gods. Doomed (at his own request) in hisearly years as king to turn everything that he touched intogold, he learned his lesson and wanted only to live a simplecountry life. But in doing so, he upset the god Apollo, whotook revenge. Out walking one day in the countryside hecame across a musical competition in progress betweenthe gods Apollo and Pan, with Tmolus, the spirit of themountain, acting as judge. Apollo played the lyre, andPan played the pipes (see pp. 42–43).Apollo was so skillful that Tmolusawarded him the prize, demanding thatPan admit his pipes were inferior. Midasdisagreed with Tmolus’ judgment,preferring Pan’s playing. Apollo was sooffended by this that he changedMidas’ ears into those of an ass. Midaswas so ashamed that he hid them undera turban, but finally his secret becamepublic and he killed himself.Foolish KingMidas, freed by Dionysusfrom the double-edged gift thatturned everything he touched togold, then despised riches. He lefthis kingdom to live simply inthe country and worshipPan, the god of wild andlonely places.Goat-godHere, Pan plays a flute, ratherthan the pan pipes. This isanother indication, coupledwith the presence of Athena, thatthe artist confused elements of thestory of Marsyas with that of Pan.Laurel wreathApollo is crowned with a wreathof wild laurel from Parnassus. Itsignifies his mastery of the creativearts, and recalls his fated love forthe nymph Daphne, who was turnedinto a laurel tree (see pp. 38-39).God of musicApollo, the god of music, playedthe lyre—the stringed instrumentinvented for him by Hermes(Mercury), Pan’s father. It wasplayed by either strummingor plucking with a plectrum.A whispered secretWhen Apollo turned his ears into those of an ass, Midas hidhis shame under a turban. Only his barber knew the truth.At last the burden of secrecy was too much to bear, andthe barber went to a lonely spot, dug a hole in the ground,and whispered the king’s secret into the ground. Next year,reeds grew there, and when they were stirred by the windthey whispered, “King Midas has ass’s ears.” WhenMidas knew his secret was out, he killed himself.AthenaThe goddess Athena (Minerva) stands next to Aphrodite,the goddess of love. Athena’s presence may be aconfusion on the artist’s part with the story of Marsyas(see opposite), or simply a reference to that other famousmusical competition between Apollo and a rival.Goat’s hornsAss’s ears
  • 39. KingMidas•41Mountain godTmolus, called to judge therelative merits of the musicof Pan and Apollo, was theincarnated spirit of the mountain.Portrayed as an old man, heseparates himself from hismountain form by shaking hislocks free of trees, and creating awreath of oak leaves on his brow.Hills and valleysOverlord to the whole ofNature herself, Pan’s musicfilled the hills and valleys ofthe countryside with joy andan expectation of good things.Ass’s earsMidas was the only one to disagree withTmolus’ judgment; he preferred Pan’ssimple flutings. Apollo, enraged thatanyone so stupid should be allowed tohave human ears, transformed Midas’ earsinto those of an ass—long, gray, and hairy.The creation of Pan’s pipesThe story of Pan’s invention of the panpipes from river reeds following hispursuit of the nymph Syrinx is alludedto here. These two satyrs, also half-man,half-goat, sit by a clump of reeds onthe banks of a river.The Judgmentof Midasby Gillis van Coninxloo(1544–1607)This painting shows the endof Apollo and Pan’s musicalcompetition when Apollo hasalready cursed Midas with ass’sears. There are also referencesto other stories, including Pan’sinvention of the pan pipes, andthe secret of Midas’ earsbecoming widespread.King Midas, the son of Gordius, a peasantwho had been made king of Phrygia by thewill of the gods, grew up convinced of theimportance of money. As a result, whenDionysus (Bacchus) offered to grant him awish for having helped his drunken satyrcompanion, Silenus, Midas asked thateverything he touched should turn to gold.All went well, until he felt hungry—“Bringme food!” he cried. Alas, it turned to gold!“Bring me wine!”—the same thinghappened. Horrified, Midas beggedDionysus to help him. The god told him towash himself in the River Pactolus—whichexplains why the river and its banks arestill flecked with gold dust.The MusesThe women watchingand listening to thecompetition are theMuses, deities of poeticinspiration who oftenaccompany Apollo.The Flaying of MarsyasAthena made herself a double flute but, because playing it distorted her beauty,she cursed it and threw it away. It was found by a satyr named Marsyas who taughthimself to play the discarded instrument and, unwittingly, took on Athena’s curse. Hebecame such a fine player that he challenged Apollo to a musical contest, with the Musesas judges. The loser was to submit to any punishment the victor decided. Both musiciansplayed so beautifully that the judges could not decide between them—until Apollochallenged Marsyas to play upside down, which was possible on Apollo’s lyre but not on theflute. Apollo hung the impudent challenger on a pine tree and flayed him alive; so muchblood flowed from the tortured satyr that it created the river Marsyas. Some say the riverwas formed from the tears of his fellow satyrs and nymphs, in grief at his torment.This Greek ivory statue, c. 200 bce, shows the satyr Marsyastied to a tree before Apollo exacts his vicious revenge.
  • 40. PanandSyrinx•42Pan and SyrinxPan (Roman Faunus) lived on earth in Arcadia, rather than on Mount Olympus with othergods (see pp. 22–23). Although essentially a good-natured god, he was extremely lustful and wasrenowned for pursuing nymphs, such as Syrinx, whom he chased from Mount Lycaeum to the banksof the River Ladon, before she escaped by turning into a clump of reeds. From these reeds, hefashioned the first “pan pipes.” The god of flocks and shepherds, Pan’s name derives from theearly Greek “Paon,” which means “herdsman.” His parentage is obscure; most sources say his fatherwas Hermes (Mercury), although others name Zeus (Jupiter). His mother Dryope, a granddaughterof Apollo, is sometimes called Penelope, which has led to stories of Pan being the son of Odysseus’wife Penelope, either by Hermes or Zeus in the form of agoat or ram; or even that Pan, a name meaning “all,” wasborn after Penelope slept with all her suitors while herhusband was away (see p. 65). Pan was also able to inspirethe sudden, groundless fear known as “panic. ” Forexample, in 490 bce, he is said to have caused the Persiansto flee in terror from the Athenians, in return for theAthenians worshiping him and performing ceremonialrites. These later became the Roman Lupercalia, a festivaldedicated to the fertility god Faunus.Half-goatPan’s goat-form inspired the conventional depiction of the Christiandevil; some writers see the “devil-worship” of the European witch-cult as a continuation of the rites of Pan.Pan and Syrinx by François Boucher (1703–70)This painting shows Pan, who has fallen in love with the beautiful nymph Syrinx,pursuing her to the banks of the River Ladon. As he reaches to embrace her, shecalls on the river goddess to help her to escape.Hermes, Messenger of the GodsHermes was Pan’s father. A son of Zeus by Maia, the eldest of thePleiades, he helped Zeus to woo the princess Io by lulling the 100-eyed guard dog Argus to sleep with the story of Pan’s pursuit of Syrinx.The messenger of the gods, flying with theaid of his winged sandals, Hermesalso acted as a guide of souls to theunderworld, and invented the lyre,which he gave to his brother Apolloin recompense for stealing his cattle(see p. 40). Hermes was also the god oftravelers and a fertility god, representedby stone statues with erect phallusescalled herms. Herms were placed onroadsides, in public places, and in thehome. One fateful night in Athensin 415 bce hundreds of phalluseswere broken off; modern scholarssuggest this was a women’s protestagainst Athenian militarism.Although Pan boasted that hehad seduced all of Dionysus’Maenads, as well as the moongoddess Selene (Luna), he wasoften rejected. His leastdignified pursuit was ofHercules’ lover, Omphale,queen of Lydia. Climbing intoher bed, Pan tried to embraceher, only to discover the couplehad exchanged clothes in theirloveplay and he was embracingHercules. Hercules kicked Panout of bed and across the floor.Caduceus, amessenger’s emblemin Ancient Greece toensure safe passageWinged sandalsfor swift travelHermesHermes, shown here on a Greek red-figurecup dating from the late 5th century bce, isdepicted as an athletic young man.
  • 41. Beautiful nymphSyrinx was so beautiful that she was often mistaken for hermistress, the goddess Artemis. The only way to tell them apart wasthat Syrinx carried a bow made of horn and Artemis one of gold.Chaplet of firPan wears a chaplet of fir on hishead, a reference to Pitys, a loverwho was transformed into a fir tree.River goddessThe river goddess heard Syrinx’s cries andcame to her rescue. Clasping her in her arms,she transformed her into a clump of reeds,thus disappointing Pan in his amorous pursuit.Chaste nymphSyrinx was a nymph of the virgin goddess Artemis(Diana, see pp. 36–37), who demanded chastityfrom her attendants. Pursued by Pan, she was runto ground on the banks of the River Ladon, where,unable to escape and terrified of Artemis’ fury,she called upon the river goddess to help her.The River LadonThe River Ladon is shown here as a nymphwith a water jar. In some versions of thestory, the River Ladon, who transformsSyrinx, is her father. Transformation hasmany roles in Greek myth: while Syrinx usesit to escape, the nymph Pitys, another of Pan’slovers, is turned into a fir tree by the earthgoddess Gaia. Boreas the NorthWind, a disappointed andangry suiter of Pitys,crushed the fir treeagainst a rock,jealous that shepreferred Panover him.Burning torchEros (Cupid) inflamed Pan withlove for Syrinx, symbolizedby the burning torch.“In the evening, he shouts ashe returns from the hunt,And plays sweet music onhis pipes of reed.”Homeric Hymn to PanWater jugWater jugs or urns areoften used to symbolizea river god or goddess.Origin of the Pan PipesTo escape Pan’s advances, Syrinx was turnedinto a clump of reeds, and the wind whistledthrough them and made sweet music. Pan,thwarted of his desires, cut the reeds into severalunequal lengths, fastened them together withwax, and made the first syrinx, or pan pipes.The Death of PanDuring the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (14–37 ce), a man called Thamus, sailing past theGreek island of Paxi, was hailed by a godlike voice calling, “Thamus, the great god Pan isdead!” This cry was repeated whenever the sailors saw land, and a terrible weeping arose fromthe countryside around. Some accounts place this event at the moment of Christ’s birth,a fitting time as many of Pan’s attributes have been assigned to the devil of Christiantradition. Some writers suggest the cry was a mishearing of “The all-great Tammuz is dead,”a ceremonial lament for the death and rebirth of the oriental god Tammuz (see p. 33).
  • 42. ZeusandDanaË•44EagleofpowerTheeagle,Zeus’attendantbird,issymbolicofpowerandvictory.Inmattersofloveandwar,Zeusneveraccepteddefeat.CloudsgatheringGodoftheskyandrulerofweather,Zeusisoftencalled“thecloud-gatherer.”Heisoftenshownwithhisweapon,thethunderbolt.ZeusandDanaËDanaËwasthebeautifuldaughterofAcrisius,kingofArgos,whowassupposedtoruleinrotationwithhistwinbrotherProetus.ButAcrisiusrefusedtoyieldthethrone,andProetus,inanger,triedtoseducehisdaughter.TerrifiedbyaprophecythatifDanaëeverboreasonthechildwouldkillhim,Acrisiusshutherupinabronzetowerawayfrommortalmen.Unfortunately,hecouldnotguardagainstthegodsandZeus(RomanJupiter),fulfillingthepatternofmanyofhisconquests,cametoherindisguise(here,asashowerofgold)andfatheredthegreatheroPerseus(seepp.46–47).WhenAcrisiusfoundoutaboutthebaby,hecastDanaëandhersonouttosea.TheydriftedforseveraldaysbeforetheycametotheislandofSeriphos,wheretheyweretakeninbyDictys,brotherofPolydectes,thekingoftheisland.Overtheyears,theoldkingtriedtoforceDanaëtomarryhim.Seekingtoprotecthismother,PerseussucceededinkillingtheterrifyingGorgonMedusa,usingitslethalheadtoturnPolydectesintostoneandsaveDanaë.Yearslater,theprophecywasfulfilledwhenPerseusaccidentallykilledAcrisiuswithadiscusinasportingcompetition.JealouswifeOutsidethewindow,silentlyobservingherhusband’sbetrayal,Heratakesontheformofhertotembird,thepeacock.“…Danaë,wheninthecarvenchestthewindblowingandtheseastirringshatteredherwithfear.HercheekswerewetassheputherlovingarmroundPerseus,saying,‘Oh,child!Whattroubleismine…”SimonidesZeusandDanaËbyJoachimUtewael(1566–1638)ThisRenaissancepaintingshowsZeusappearingtoDanaëasashowerofgoldthroughtheroofofherbronzeprison.ThechildfromthisunionwastheheroPerseus.GoldenGodZeusvisitedDanaëinashowerofgold.Someartistsdepictthisastheburningraysofthesun,othersascoins.Some,ashere,combinebothimages.LaterrationalizationsofthismythexplainedthegoldsimplyasabribetoDanaë’sguards.ZeusinloveLookingdownontheyoungandbeautifulDanaëincarceratedinherbronzetower,Zeusfellinloveandwasdeterminedtovisither.BarredwindowsAlthoughAcrisiusissaidtohavelovedhisdaughterDanaë,heselfishlyshutherawaybehindcloseddoorsinordertosavehisownlife.TheSonsofZeusandEuropaZeusandEuropa(seebelow)hadthreesons:Minos(seep.56),hadamanthys,andSarpedon.Minos,whohadbeenmadeheirtotheCretanthronebyhisstepfatherAsterion,quarreledwithhisbrothersanddrovethemfromtheisland.AsZeus’sons,theybothbecamekingselsewhere.RhadamanthysalsotutoredHeracles(seepp.50–51)andissaidtohavemarriedHeracles’motherAlcmeneafterherhusbanddied.BothRhadamanthys—whowasawiselawmaker—andMinos—whoreceivednewlawsfortheGreeksfromhisfatherZeuseverynineyears—becamejudgesintheunderworldwhentheydied.
  • 43. 45•ZeusandDanaËSurprisedservantDanaë’shandmaidendropsherspinningasZeusappearsthroughtheroofasashowerofgold.SpinningyarnInGreekmyth,spinningwasoftenasymboloftheThreeFates,whospunthethreadoflife,measuredit,andcutitofftotheallottedlength.ThereferencehereindicateshowhopelessitwasforAcrisiustotrytoescapehisfate,asdecreedbytheOracle.Asforetold,hisgrandsonPerseusdidaccidentallykillhimwithadiscusseveralyearslater.CondemnedtodeathAccusedofcomplicityindeceivinghim,Danaë’shandmaidenwasputtodeathwhenAcrisiusdiscoveredthebirthofhisgrandsonPerseus.TheRapeofEuropabyValentinAlexandrowitschSerow(1865–1911)“IshallsingofZeus,thebestandgreatestofthegods,Farseeing,mighty,thefulfillerofdesigns.”HomericHymntoZeusGriffinThegriffin—part-eagle,part-lion—isoneofmanyfantasticmonstersandbeastsinGreekmythology.ThegriffinonDanaë’sbedrepresentsthestrongguardunderwhichherfatherhadplacedher;outsidethedoorswasapackofsavagedogs.Danaë,PrincessofArgosDanaëwasthedaughterofAcrisiusofArgosbyEurydice,thedaughterofLacedemon(nottobeconfusedwithEurydice,wifeofOrpheus).Acrisius’twinbrotherProetus,kingofTyryns,hadquarreledwithhisbrothereveninthewomb,soitwasnosurprisethatheshouldcovethisbrother’sdaughter,northatAcrisiusshouldtrytopreventhim.Zeus’complicatedlovelifeisthesourceofmanystories.Hisovermasteringsexualenergywas,infact,hisprimarycharacteristic—proof,perhaps,ofhisrestlesscreativedrive.AlthoughmarriedtoHera(Juno),hehadmanychildrenbyotherwomen,immortalsandmortalsalike,whobecamegodsorheroes.Zeusdidnotwastetimeonthenicetiesofcourtship,andmanyofhisseductionswereinfactrapes,asisthecasewithbothDanaëandEuropa.GodofloveAlthoughhedidnotplayanactualpartinthestoryofZeus’seductionofDanaë,Eros(Cupid),thegodofsexuallove,isdepictedhere.Hispresenceindicatesthatlovecanovercomeallobstacles,evenbarreddoorsandarmedguards.BowandarrowErosalwayscarriesabowandarrow.ThepoetOvidsaidthatthereweretwokindsofarrow—goldenonestoinspirelove,andleadenonestotakeloveaway.HesiodcallsDanaë“rich-haired”EuropaandZeusEuropawasthedaughterofthePhoeniciankingAgenorOneday,Zeussawherplayingwithhermaidensbytheseaand,overcomebylust,tooktheformofahandsomebullandmingledwiththeking’sherdonthebeach.Europastrokedhim,hunggarlandsofflowersonhishorns,andheseemedsogentlethatsheeventuallyclimbedonhisback.Zeusimmediatelychargedouttosea,carryinghertoCretewherehemadelovetoherunderaplanetree,which,accordingtotradition,hasbeengreeneversince.Europagavebirthtothreesons:Minos(seep.56),Rhadamanthys,andSarpedon.ShesubsequentlymarriedAsterion,thekingofCrete,whoadoptedMinosashisheir.
  • 44. PerseusandAndromeda•46Perseus and AndromedaPerseus was the son of Zeus (Roman Jupiter) and Danaë (see pp. 44–45),who was sent in search of the Gorgon Medusa’s head by Polydectes, Danaë’sunwanted suitor. The three Gorgons were sometimes beautiful, but alwaysterrifying, serpent-haired creatures who turned people to stone with a singleglance. Helped by Athena (Minerva) and Hermes (Mercury), Perseus managedto cut off Medusa’s head and put it in a bag. Flying home, aided by Hermes’winged sandals, he came upon Andromeda, a beautiful Ethiopian princess,chained to a rock and left as a living sacrifice for a sea monster to assuage theanger of the sea god Poseidon (Neptune). Perseus fell in love, killed the monster,and married Andromeda. On his return, Polydectes, who presumed him dead,laughed scornfully when Perseus told him he had brought Medusa’s head—smilinggrimly, Perseus withdrew it from its bag and immediately Polydectes was turned to stone.PerseusPerseus was one of the great Greek heroes and, in his youth,accomplished daring deeds. Of royal blood, he did not wishto succeed to the throne of Argos after the death of hisgrandfather (see p. 45), so ruled Tyryns and Mycenaeinstead. Here, he founded the family of the Perseids,from which Heracles was descended (see pp. 50–51).When Perseus first set off tofind the Gorgon Medusa, he was told by Athenato seek out the three Graiae, the Gorgons’ sisters.The Graiae, hideous old hags with just a singleeye and tooth between them, would tell Perseushow to find the Stygian nymphs who would helphim to overcome Medusa. When the Graiaerefused to help him, Perseus snatched their singleeye as they passed it between themselves. Held toransom, they told him what he needed to know.He then threw the eye into a lake so that theycould not warn the Gorgons of his plans.Love at first sightThe infant Eros (Cupid), with hisflaming torch, indicates that Perseusis in love with Andromeda.Sword of HermesFired by heroism and love, Perseus prepares to swinghis sword and destroy the evil sea monster. The curved,unbreakable, sword was also a gift from Hermes. Perseusfirst used it to strike off Medusa’s head while she slept.He fled the scene undetected by the other Gorgons,thanks to the magic helmet that made him invisible.Bronze shieldPerseus carries a bronze shield, which was lent to him byAthena. She warned him not to look at Medusa directly,but to look at the reflection in the bronze shield, to avoidbeing turned into stone. Athena later set Medusa’s headon the shield and carried it as part of her armor.Vengeful nymphsThe sea nymphs, or Nereids, were offended by Andromeda’smother and called on Poseidon to avenge them. He sent a tidalwave and a terrible monster to maraud the coast of Ethiopia.Flesh-eating sea monsterThe sea monster ravaged the coast, devouring men,women, and children. An oracle had told the king that itcould only be assuaged by the sacrifice of his daughter.Perseus rescuing Andromedaby Charles-Antoine Coypel (1694–1752)This painting shows Perseus about to rescue Andromedafrom the sea monster. The sea is raging, and the angry seanymphs look on in dismay. Andromeda’s distraught parentsand the crowds on the city walls pray to the heavensand beseech Perseus to succeed.Magical giftsPerseus received help in his quest fromthe Stygian nymphs. They lent himthree magical items left in their care:Hermes’ winged sandals, Hades’helmet of invisibility, and a bag inwhich to put the Gorgon’s head.
  • 45. PerseusandAndromeda•47Chained maidenAndromeda was chained to a rock on the Phoenician coastas the final sacrifice to the monster. She was the daughterof Cepheus, king of Joppa, and his wife Cassiopeia.Boastful motherCassiopeia had boasted that she and her daughterwere more beautiful than the sea nymphs, thusbringing down Poseidon’s vengeance upon the coast.Divine fatherLightning in the sky shows thepresence of Zeus, who fatheredPerseus in a shower of gold.Distraught fatherWhen King Cepheus asked the oracle of horned Ammon(that is, the Egyptian god Amun, here assimilated intoclassical myth) how to turn aside Poseidon’s anger, hewas told that the only way was to sacrifice Andromedato the monster. So, to save his people, he chainedher to a rock for the monster to devour.Monster AdversaryThe sea monster, unaware that Perseus could fly, attackedhis shadow on the water, enabling Perseus to swoop downand kill it using Hermes’ sickle-shaped sword. Poseidon wasfurious: not only had Perseus rescued Andromeda but hehad killed Medusa, one of Poseidon’s former lovers.When she died, his two unborn children rose upfrom her spilled blood—the winged horsePegasus and the warrior Chrysaor.Although Cepheus and Cassiopeiapledged Andromeda to Perseus, she wasalready betrothed in marriage to her unclePhineas. Nonetheless, her wedding toPerseus went ahead, only to be interruptedby the arrival of an irate Phineas with alarge armed guard. In danger of beingoverwhelmed by such numbers, Perseusused the Gorgon’s head to turn Phineasand 200 of his men to stone.Bellerophon Slays the Chimaera by Giovanni-Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770)Bellerophon Slays the ChimaeraBellerophon, like Perseus, was a heroic, royal figure who enjoyed the patronageof Athena. A guest at the court of King Proetus of Argus (see p. 44), the queenfalsely accused him of trying to rape her. Loath to kill a guest directly, Proetus senthim to his father-in-law King Iobates with a letter asking that the bearer be put todeath. Iobates, expecting him to be killed, asked Bellerophon to slay the Chimaera, afire-breathing monster with the front legs of a lion, the body of a she-goat, and the tailof a snake, which was devastating his kingdom. Bellerophon tamed the winged horsePegasus with a golden bridle given to him by Athena, and, swooping down, riddledthe beast with arrows and thrust a lump of lead between its jaws. The Chimaera’sbreath melted the lead and it choked to death. When he survived other trials, Iobatesgave up trying to kill Bellerophon and made him his heir instead. When he heardthe accusation that had been made against him, Bellerophon returned to Argos andkilled the queen, pushing her off Pegasus’ back into the sea. He eventually died ablind, lame beggar, having offended Zeus by trying to ride Pegasus up to heaven.
  • 46. TheTragedyofOedipus•48RiddleoftheSphinxTheSphinxwassentbyHera(RomanJuno)toplagueThebesbecause,beforehebecameking,Laiushadabductedayouth,Chryssipus,tobehislover—aliaisonthatwasacrimeagainstmarriage.TheSphinxusedtoambushhervictimsoutsidethecity,andaskherfamousriddle,“Whatbeingwalkssometimesontwofeet,sometimesonthree,andsometimesonfour,andisweakestwhenithasthemost?”Whentheyfailedtoanswercorrectly,shedevouredthem.TheTragedyofOedipusOedipus,thesonofKingLaiusandhiswifeJocastaofThebes,wasabandonedasababyafteritwasprophesiedthathewouldkillhisfatherandmarryhismother.Lefttodie,hewasfoundandtakentoKingPolybusofCorinth,whowaschildless.Oedipusgrewupunawareofhisorigins,and,untilhevisitedtheOracleatDelphi,unawareoftheprophecy.Whenhewastold,hewashorrifiedanddecidednottogohome,therebysettinginmotionthetrainofeventsthathemostwishedtoavoid.LeavingDelphi,OedipusmetandkilledKingLaiuswhowasonhiswaytoasktheOraclehowtoridThebesoftheSphinx,amonsterwhokilledhissubjectswhentheycouldnotanswerherriddles.UnawareofLaius’identity,OedipuswenttoThebes,ridthetownoftheSphinx,becamekinghimself,andmarriedJocasta.Whenaplaguebrokeoutsometimelater,theOracleblameditonKingLaius’murderer,andOedipusgraduallyrealizedthathewasthekiller.Therevelationofhisbirthsoonfollowed.Aghast,JocastahangedherselfandOedipusputouthisowneyes.Attheendofhislife,OedipusisdepictedbySophoclesasablindbeggar,wanderingfromplacetoplace,pursuedbytheFuries(seep.26).HediedatColonus,welcomedtotheunderworldintheendbyHades(Pluto)himself,andgrantedabeatificinnervisionofPersephone(Proserpine)akintothatexperiencedbytheinitiatesatEleusis(seep.29).OedipusandtheSphinxbyJean-Auguste-DominiqueIngres(1780–1867)ThispaintingshowsOedipusconsideringtheanswerthatheshouldgivetotheSphinx’sriddle.Heissurroundedbythebonesoftheunfortunateswhohavegiventhewronganswer.Belowamanflees,intheexpectationofyetanotherdeath.“Allunknowingyouarethescourgeofyourownfleshandblood,thedeadbelowtheearthandthelivinghereabove,andthedoublelashofyourmotherandyourfather’scursewillwhipyoufromthisland”OedipusRexbySophoclesc.430ceOedipusOedipusponderslongandhardbeforeheanswerstheSphinx:“Man,whocrawlsonallfoursasababy,standsontwofeetinmaturity,andleansonastickinoldage.”Cheatedofherprey,theSphinxcastsherselffromtherocktoherdeath.OedipuswasabandonedasababybecauseLaiuswastoldbyApollo’sOracleatDelphithathemustremainchildlessorriskcalamitytoThebes.LaiuseitherdisobeyedtheOracle’sadviceorwassoupsetthathegotdrunkandsleptwithhiswifeJocastaanyway.TheSphinxThismonsterwithawoman’shead,aneagle’swings,aserpent’stail,andthebodyofalion,wasthedaughterofEchidna(whowaspart-woman,part-serpent).Echidna’sbroodincludedmanyofthemonstersofGreekmythology,includingtheChimaera(seep.47),theHydra,Cerberus(seep.31),theNemeanLion,andtheCrommyonSow(seepp.54–55).
  • 47. 49• TheTragedyofOedipusOedipus’feetThenameOedipusmeans“swollenfoot.”Whenhewaslefttodieasababy,Oedipus’feetwerepiercedwithaspike—perhapstopreventhisghostfromwalking.ThecityofThebesThecityofThebeswasthecapitalofBoeotia(notbeconfusedwiththeEgyptiancityonthesiteofpresent-dayLuxor,calledThebesbytheGreeks).ItwasfoundedbyCadmus,thebrotherofEuropa(seep.45),ontheinstructionoftheOracleatDelphi.FirstCadmushadtokilladragonthatguardedthespotandhadkilledallhismen.Topopulatethecity,hesowedthedragons’teethandwarriorssprangup.Oedipus’mother,Jocasta,wasthedaughterofoneoftheSownMen,Menoeceus.DeadMen’sBonesWhenpeoplecouldnotanswerherriddle,theSphinxkilledthem,litteringthecountrysidewiththeirbones.EarlysourcesdescribetheSphinxasflyingtothecitywall,chantingherriddle,andsnatchingyoungmeninherraveningjawswhenthecitizensfailedtoanswerher.ForthisreasontheanxiouscitizensofThebesgatheredeverydaytosolvetheriddle.SpearsOedipusiscarryingthespearsthathewouldhaveusedwhenhemetwiththechariotofhisnaturalfatherKingLaiusinthenarrowmountainpass.Orderedtoletthetravelerspass,Oedipusbecameangrywhenoneofhishorseswasdeliberatelykilled,andafightensuedinwhichLauisdied—thusfulfillingthefirstpartoftheprophecy.FleeingmanThisfiguremaybetheonlymaninKingLaius’entouragewhoescapedwhenLaiusandOedipusfoughteachotherontheroad—thesamemanwhowasinstructedbyLaiustoabandonOedipusasachild.HereturnedtoThebesandtoldthecitythatabandofrobbershadsetuponthekingandmurderedhim.AntigoneandherSisterIsmeneontheBattlefieldbyMarieSpartelliStillman(1844–1927)WhenplaguestruckThebes,theseerTeiresiassaidthegodsdemandedthatoneoftheSownMen(seeopposite)shouldsacrificehimselfforthecity’sgood.Jocasta’sfatherimmediatelyleapedfromthecitywalls.ButTeiresiassaidanothermanhadbeenintended:one“passingforanalien...[but]Thebanborn,tohiscost...father-killerandfather-supplanter.”OedipusandJocastahadfourchildren—twosons,EteoclesandPolynices,andtwodaughters,AntigoneandIsmene.Antigone,Oedipus’DaughterAntigone,Oedipus’daughter,wentintoexilewithherfather,returningonhisdeathtofindhertwobrothers,EtioclesandPolynices,fightingforthethrone.TheykilledeachotherandCreon,theiruncle,whohadsupportedEtiocles,buriedhimwithhonor,leavingPolynicestorotonthebattlefield.Onpainofdeath,Antigoneperformedatokenburial.Furious,Creonshutherupinacavetodie,refusingthepleasofHaemon,hissonandAntigone’sbetrothed,toforgiveher.OntheadviceoftheseerTeiresias,hefinallyrelented.Butonopeningthecave,hefoundthatAntigonehadhangedherself.Cursinghisfather,Haemonkilledhimself.
  • 48. TheLaborsofHercules•50Hercules did not know where to find the gardenof the Hesperides where the golden apples grew. Thenymphs of the river Eridanos told him that the shape-shifting sea god Nereus knew the answer. Herculeswrestled with Nereus to force him to answer hisquestion. The god transformed himself into allkinds of creatures, but Hercules held him fast,and at last he had to reveal the secret.Hercules was a semi divine hero, the child of Zeus (Roman Jupiter) by Alcmene, amortal. Although Zeus meant him to be a greatking, Hera (Juno) made sure that this honorpassed instead to Hercules’ cousin Eurystheus.Hercules grew into a great hero, keen eyed,skilled with the bow and javelin, and possessed ofsuperhuman strength, which he used to wield ahuge club cut from an olive tree. However, Hera,still jealous of Zeus’ infidelities, afflicted the adultHercules with madness, and he killed his wifeand children. Devastated, he visited the Oracleat Delphi, where he was told that he could becleansed of this blood-guilt and gain immortalityif, for 12 years, he served King Eurystheus.Eurystheus, an inferior man, set him ten seeminglyimpossible tasks, later extended to 12 as thepetty-minded king quibbled over the means usedto achieve two of them. The most difficult taskswere the last: the capture of the watchdog of theunderworld, Cerberus, and the acquisition of theapples of the Hesperides (shown here), whichwere guarded by a fearful serpent. Herculescompleted his tasks successfully, encounteringmany adventures along the way. When he diedseveral years and exploits later from putting ona poisoned shirt, he rose to Olympus, causingAtlas to stagger under the sudden extra weight.LyreSinging was thechief recreation of theHesperides. Here, one ofthem dreamily strums onan upside-down lyre. (It wasby playing the lyre upside-downthat Apollo vanquished hischallenger Marsyas in amusical contest [see p. 41].)Garden of the HesperidesThe garden of the Hesperides was at theedge of the earth, enclosed behind ahigh wall. Inside, the golden-apple treewas guarded by a terrifying serpent. Ittook Hercules a long time todiscover the whereabouts of thegarden and reach it. On the way hehad many adventures, whichincluded freeing Prometheus (seepp. 24–25) and killing the eaglethat daily fed on his liver.Cranes of VigilanceCranes are a symbol of vigilance. However, as theHesperides seem to be asleep, and the applesthat they are guarding are eventually stolen,the presence of the cranes may be ironic.Daughters of a TitanThe Hesperides were the daughtersof the Titan Atlas (see p. 22) andHesperis, the daughter of theevening star Hesperus (Venus).They lived in a garden hidden inthe far west; their name means“daughters of the evening.”This Roman bronzeshows the baby Herculeskilling two serpents withhis bare hands—anearly indication of hissuperhuman strength,and a clue to hisfather’s identity.The Labors of HerculesThe Childhood of HerculesHercules was conceived when Zeus came to Alcmene in the guise of her husband King Amphytryon,the grandson of Perseus (see p. 46–47). Zeus, knowing that he had fathered Hercules, boastedthat the next descendant of Perseus to be born would be a great king. So Hera, to thwart her husband,arranged for Hercules’ birth to be delayed and that of his cousin Eurystheus to be accelerated. Alcmenebore two children: Hercules and, a day later, his brother Iphicles. At eight months old, Hera placed twoserpents in the babies’ cradle—Iphicles fled, showing himself to be Amphytryon’s son, but Herculesstrangled the snakes with his bare hands. Hercules spent much of his youth living with Amphitryon’sshepherds, having accidentally killedone of his tutors in an argument.Then, at 18, he killed a hugelion that was decimating theflocks and soon afterwardset out upon theadventurouslife of a hero.HerculesSerpent Serpent
  • 49. TheLaborsofHercules•51Guardian serpentLadon, the terrifying serpent that guarded the apples,had 100 heads (although they are not shown here)each of which spoke a different language. Like theSphinx (see p. 48), he was a child of the monstersTyphon and Echidna. When he was killed, thegrief-stricken Hera set him in the sky as theconstellation Draco.SleepingHesperidesSources vary as towhether there were threeor four Hesperides. Thoseshown on the left are Aigle,Erytheia, and Hesperia. Sopeaceful here, the theft of the applescaused them unspeakable sorrow.In one story, Nereus (or Prometheus) advised Herculesto trick Atlas, who supported the sky, into fetching thegolden apples. While he was away Hercules held up thesky. When Atlas returned, he refused to take up hisburden again, but Hercules persuaded him to do so whilehe arranged a pad on his head. As soon as Atlas had thesky on his shoulders, Hercules took the apples and ran.The Garden of the Hesperidesby Frederic Leighton (1830–96)This painting shows three of the Hesperides asleep in their garden beneath the golden-appletree guarded by the serpent Ladon. Hercules’ eleventh task was to find and take theseapples and give them to Eurystheus, his cousin and master.Golden ApplesThe golden apples belonged to Hera, whohad been given them as a wedding presentby her grandmother Gaia. Eurystheusdid not believe that Hercules couldwin them, and when Hercules didso, Eurystheus gave them back,not wishing to incur the goddess’anger. They were returned tothe garden by Athena.The Twelve Labors1. Hercules strangled the Nemeanlion and wore its invulnerable peltas armor, with its head as a helmet.2. Hercules killed the nine-headedHydra whose heads grew back induplicate each time one was cut off.3. Hercules captured the bronze-hoofed, golden-horned Ceryneianhind, sacred to Artemis. He blamedthe sacrilege on Eurystheus.4. Hercules captured and killed theErymanthian boar that had beendevastating the countryside. Inkilling it, he also accidentally shotthe centaur Cheiron (see p. 39).5. Hercules was told to clean outthe filthy stables of Augeias in oneday, so he diverted two rivers torun through and sluice the yard.6. Hercules shot down the flesh-eating Stymphalian birds, whichhad wings, beaks, and claws of iron.7. Hercules captured the Cretanbull, father of the Minotaur (seepp. 56–57), which had gone mad.8. Hercules captured the flesh-eating mares of Diomedes.9. Hercules acquired the belt ofAres the war god from Hippolyta,queen of the Amazons.10. Hercules took possession ofthe cattle belonging to the three-headed monster Geryon.11. Hercules stole the goldenapples of the Hesperides.12. Hercules kidnapped Cerberus,guardian dog of the underworld.Hera charged Ladon, theserpent, to prevent anyone fromstealing the golden apples, andalso to stop the Hesperidesfrom eating them.
  • 50. JasonandtheGoldenFleece•52Jason, the son of King Aeson who was usurped by his half-brother Pelias, was brought upby the centaur Cheiron (see p. 39). When he grew up, he went to his uncle’s court to presshis claim to the throne. Pelias, warned to beware a claimant wearing one sandal (as Jason did,see left), agreed to name him as his heir if he fetched him the Golden Fleece belonging toAeëtes, the cruel king of Colchis. With the help of Athena (Roman Minerva) he built a ship,the Argo, and and gathered a crew of 50 or so, the Argonauts, which included many ofCheiron’s ex-pupils. He then sailed to Colchis, where Aeëtes’ daughter, the witch Medea, fellin love with him and helped him to steal the fleece and escape. Returning home, Medeamurdered Pelias, but strangely Jason did not claim the throne. Instead the couple lived inCorinth for ten years until Jason rejected Medea to marry King Creon’s daughter, Glaucis.Medea avenged herself by killing Glaucis, Creon, and her own children by Jason, before fleeing.Jason died an old man, crushed beneath the falling prow of the Argo.The Golden FleeceThe fleece had belonged to a goldenflying ram endowed with reason andspeech. This ram was given by Hermes(Mercury) to Phrixus and his sisterHelle, the children of King Athamas ofBoeotia, who were escaping from theirvindictive stepmother. Unfortunately,Helle fell into the sea (now called theHellespont) and died. Phrixus escapedto Colchis, sacrificed the ram to Zeus,and gave the fleece to Aeëtes. Aeëteskilled Phrixus and hung the fleece upon a tree guarded by a serpent.AncaeusAncaeus the steersman stoodby Jason’s side as the Argo fled.Originally a rower who shared abench with Hercules (see pp. 50-51),Ancaeus took over the wheel whenthe original helmsman, Tiphys, died.All the Argonauts survived thedangers of the voyage except forTiphys and Idmon the seer. Idmon hadprophesied at the start that everyonewould survive except himself. Hewas gored by a boar and died.Jason and the Golden FleeceJason, Protected by HeraJason sailed under the specialprotection of Hera. When Jasonwas hurrying to the court ofKing Pelias to lay his claim tothe throne, he had to cross aflooded river. An old womanstood forlornly on the bank andbegged him to carry her across.He did so, losing one of hissandals in the process. The oldwoman was Hera in disguise,and this small service earnedJason her devoted help.Medea, Witch and LoverMedea, a witch with a fiery and ruthless temperament, was madly in lovewith Jason. When she thought he was plotting with her brother Apsyrtusto leave her behind, she boiled with rage, longing to set the Argo on fire, andhurl herself into the flames. Although Medea used her magic to help him, Jasonwas terrified of her. Her aid was substantial—not only did she charm the serpentthat guarded the Golden Fleece, but she also restored Jason’s father Aeson tohis lost youth by replacing the blood in his veins with a magic potion. She evenremoved the usurper Pelias by persuading him she would rejuvenate him as well.But once his daughters had cut him up as she directed, she simply boiled himin her cauldron, and refused to bring him back to life. After being rejected byJason, and taking her terrible revenge (see above), Medea married King Aegeusof Athens, where she enters the story of another hero, Theseus (see pp. 54–55).Taken from a Greek vase, this illustration shows Medea and Jason beneath thesacred oak tree on which the Golden Fleece was hung. Medea has charmed, or put tosleep, the serpent guardian and Jason, with his protectress Hera standing behindhim, has taken down the fleece, which now hangs over his arm. Hermes, who firstadvised Phrixus to sacrifice the golden ram to Zeus (see above) stands behind Medea.
  • 51. JasonandtheGoldenFleece•53The GoldenFleeceby Herbert JamesDraper (1864–1920)This painting shows Jason,Medea, and the crew of theArgo fleeing from KingAeëtes, Medea’s father,after stealing the GoldenFleece. Jason, holding thefleece, gesticulates to theenemy. Half the crewdefend the ship, while therest row for their lives andarrange the sails. Medea(center) is preparing to killand cut up her youngbrother, whose pieces shewill scatter into the sea todelay her father.Defending the shipWhen he reached theArgo with his prize, Jasoninstructed his crew to setsail immediately. Half thecrew were to row for allthey were worth, two to abench, and the other halfto protect the rowers. Thetwo parties took turns.Passionate LoveMedea loved Jason because Hera and Athena (Juno andMinerva), whose favor he had gained, arranged withAphrodite (Venus) and Eros (Cupid) for her to fall in lovewith him. As a result, Medea was consumed with suchpassion for Jason that she betrayed her own father and usedher magic for both good and ill, to help Jason in his task.Matchless crewThe crew of the Argo probably consisted originally of men of Thessaly, but becameenlarged over time by the addition of heroes such as Hercules and Orpheus (seepp. 30–31), as well as men from various Greek cities eager to share in the glory.Among the crew were Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of the north wind; Castorand Polydeuces, the Dioscuri; Peleus, the father of Achilles; Telamon, the fatherof Ajax; Lynceus, who had superhuman eyesight; and Mopsus, the seer.Pursuing fleetThe fleet of King Aeëtesfailed to catch the Argo,largely through the wilesof Medea, who inheritedher father’s ruthlesstemperament.Helpless victimThe bound victim here isMedea’s brother Apsyrtus.According to one account,Medea cut him into piecesand threw them one by oneinto the sea, thus delayingher father’s pursuit while hegathered together his son’sscattered limbs for burial.The poet Apollonius placesthe murder on dry land, andsays that Jason licked andspat out the victim’s bloodthree times, to prevent theghost from haunting him.Jason, triumphant thiefThe exultant Jason yells his defiance toAeëtes, who is pursuing him. When, withthe aid of Medea’s spells, Jason stole thefleece from the sacred grove of Ares (Mars),we are told that he put it over his shouldersand reveled in it like a girl admiring herselfwhen the moonlight catches her silk gown.When Jason arrived in Colchis, heasked Aeëtes to give him the GoldenFleece. Surprisingly the king agreed, buton two conditions: that Jason harnesstwo fire-breathing bulls with bronzehooves and then use them to plant a fieldwith dragons’ teeth. Medea provided asalve of invulnerability that enabledJason to yoke the bulls and defeat thewarriors that sprang up. But Aeëtes thenrefused to keep his word so, withMedea’s help, Jason stole theGolden Fleece and fled.The ArgoHomer writes of “the celebrated Argo,” and the boat is almostas much the hero of the story as Jason himself. It even has avoice of its own, for its prow was cut from the speaking oak ofZeus at Dodona. It was built by Argus on the instructions ofAthena. Confusingly, another Argus, son of Phrixus, whohad been put to death by Aeëtes, later joins Jason’s crew.Adventures of the ArgonautsOn the way to Colchis, the Argonauts met with manydangers, but always escaped by strength or stratagem.Early on, they benefited from the superhuman strengthof Hercules who singlehandedly deflected an attack by agroup of six-armed earth giants. But Hercules left the crewbefore reaching Colchis (although he did return later),distraught at the loss of his friend Hylas who had beenpulled into a well by water-nymphs entranced by hisbeauty. Other dangerous challenges on the voyageincluded a boxing match with King Amycus (who wasused to winning and slaughtering his opponents), won byPolydeuces, the inventor of boxing (see p. 60); navigatingthe Clashing Rocks, which moved and smashed anythingin their way; and resisting the perilous charms of theSirens (see p. 64), when the bard Orpheus drownedout their song with the beauty of his own music.
  • 52. TheseustheHero•54Theseus the HeroTheseus was one of Greece’s most famous heroes. Said to havehad two fathers, King Aegeus of Athens and the sea god Poseidon (RomanNeptune), he grew up unaware of who his father was. He showed heroic qualitieseven as a child—when Hercules (see pp. 50–51) visited and caused panic amongthe children by throwing his great lion skin over a stool, the seven-year-oldTheseus fetched an ax to confront the beast. When he was 16, Theseus’mother Aethra told him that Aegeus was his father. She led him to the Altarof Strong Zeus where Aegeus had left his sword and sandals under aheavy rock so that if Aethra bore him a son, the boy could reclaimthem when he was strong enough and come to Athens. Theseusmoved the rock with ease, claimed the tokens of his birth, andset out for Athens. He encountered many trials along theway (shown here), which he overcame with a skillcomparable to that of his cousin Hercules.Welcomed in Athens as a hero, Theseus was invitedto a banquet at the king’s palace. Aegeus wasunaware of Theseus’ identity,but his wife, the witch Medea(see p. 53), had her suspicionsand tried to poison him. Shefailed, Aegeus recognizedTheseus as his son andheir, and Medea andher son Medus fled.The Exploits of TheseusThis Greek plate dates from c. 440 bce and depicts severalof Theseus’ exploits both along the road to Athens andlater in his career when he was recognized as Aegeus’ sonand heir to the Athenian throne.The Bull of PoseidonThe capture of the fierce white bull ofPoseidon was the first feat Theseus achievedafter coming to Athens; some say he was sent by Medea,who hoped he would be killed. Since being brought overfrom Crete by Hercules (see p. 51), the bull had becomewild again, and had killed many people. Theseusseized it by the horns and dragged it through Athensto the Acropolis, where he sacrificed it to Apollo.When theseus first set outupon the road to Athens, he wasattacked by the banditPeriphetes who used to beattravelers to death with an ironclub, thus earning himself thenickname of “Club-man.”Theseus killed Periphetes, andcarried his club ever after,finding it an infallible weapon.The Crommyonwild sowTheseus traveled toCrommyon, where heperformed his thirddaring deed by killingPhaea, a ferocious wild sowthat had been ravaging thecountryside. Phaea wassaid by some to be one of themonstrous children of Typhonand Echidna (see p. 48).Sinis, the pine-benderTheseus’ second dangerousencounter was with Sinis, a manso strong he could bend the topsof pine trees until they touchedthe earth, hence his nickname,“the pine-bender.” He would askpassers-by to help him hold thetrees down, then let go, catapultingthe unwary stranger into the air; or hewould tie his quarry to two bent trees,and then release them, ripping hishapless victim in two. Theseus servedSinis in the same manner, and then tookhis daughter, Perigune, as his lover.She bore him a son, Melanippus.TheseusIron clubBull ofPoseidon
  • 53. TheseustheHero•55MinotaurSoon after Theseus reached Athens, the cityhad to send young men and women to Creteto be fed to the Minotaur, a monster half-man,half-bull. Theseus volunteered, faced themonster, and killed him(see pp. 54–55).The bed of ProcrustesTriumphant from defeating KingCercyon, Theseus came upon thegiant Procrustes (Sinis’ father) wholived near the road to Athens. Asevil as his son, he used to offertravelers a bed for the night.But he only had one bed, and tomake sure it was the right sizefor all comers, he stretchedshort men on a rack (orbeat them out with ahammer) and chopped offthe feet of tall men.Theseus made him liedown on his own bedand, as he was too tall,he cut off his head.Sciron the brigandTraveling near Megara, shortly after leavingCrommyon (see opposite), Theseus met a brigand(bandit) named Sciron, who used to sit on a rock by afootpath high above the ocean and ask travelers to wash his wearyfeet. When they did so, he used to kick them to their deaths inthe sea below, where they were eaten by a giant turtle that lived inthe bay. When Sciron tried to trick Theseus, the hero seized hislegs and the outlaw met the same doom as his victims.Shortly after his wife Phaedra died (see below), Theseusand his widowed friend Pirithous, king of the Lapiths and a sonof Zeus, decided to marry again—but only daughters of Zeuswould do. First they kidnapped Helen of Sparta (see p. 62)for Theseus, and then they visited the underworld toabduct Persephone (Proserpine). Hades, Persephone’shusband, welcomed them courteously and asked them tosit. They did so, but when they tried to stand up, theyfound themselves welded to their seats, unable to movewithout ripping their flesh. They sat in agony for fouryears until Hercules arrived to capture Cerberus.Recognizing his cousin suffering in mute torment, hewrenched Theseus free. But when he tried to freePirithous, the leader of their impudent expedition,the earth began to quake and they had toleave him in eternal torment.The Death of Hippolytusby Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)TheseusWrestling with King CercyonSuccessful in his first four encounters, Theseus cameto Eleusis, where he was challenged by King Cercyonto a wrestling match. Like King Amycus, who had aboxing fight with the Argonauts (see p. 53), Cercyonwas used to winning, and putting the loser to death.But Theseus raised him high in the air and dashedhim to the ground, and so won the throne of Eleusis,which he later added to the kingdom of Athens.Hippolytus, Theseus’ sonHippolytus was the son of Theseus by either the Amazon queen, Hippolyta, or her sister Antiope. When Theseus rejected herto marry Phaedra, sister of his former love Ariadne (see pp. 56–57),Hippolyta appeared at the wedding fully armed and in the ensuingbattle was killed. Phaedra bore Theseus two children but then shefell madly in love with her stepson Hippolytus who, being a devoteeof the virgin goddess Artemis (Diana), refused her. Phaedra, afraidlest her secret would be revealed, broke down the door of herchamber, ripped her clothes, and accused him of rape. Theseus,horrified, believed her and prayed to Poseidon to avenge her. Inresponse, Poseidon sent a bull up from the waves to frightenHippolytus’ horses as he drove his chariot on the seashore.As planned, the horses panicked, Hippolytus fell, becameentangled in the reins, and was dragged to his death. Artemisthen revealed the truth to Theseus and Phaedra hanged herselfin shame. Shortly afterward, Artemis persuaded Asclepius (seep. 39) to bring Hippolytus back to life; the Romans said that ingratitude he instituted the cult of Diana (Artemis) at Nemi.Cercyon
  • 54. TheMinotaur•56The MinotaurThe Minotaur was the son of Pasiphaë, the wife of King Minos of Crete,and a white bull belonging to the sea god Poseidon (Roman Neptune). Minoshad deeply offended Poseidon who, in revenge, caused Pasiphaë to fall in lovewith the animal. The resulting offspring was the Minotaur, a violent creature, half-man and half-bull, who ate human flesh. To hide his shame and protect his people, KingMinos asked the inventor Daedalus to construct a labyrinth from which the monsterwould never be able to find its way out. Every nine years, to appease it, Minos gavethe Minotaur a sacrificial offering of seven young women and seven young men,which he exacted as tribute from the city of Athens. One year, the hero Theseus(see pp. 54–55) volunteered as a victim, intending to kill the Minotaur and rescueAthens from its terrible fate. With the help of Ariadne, the king’s daughter who hadfallen in love with him, he succeeded. He then set sail for Athens with Ariadne but lefther on the island of Naxos, where she married the god Dionysus (see pp. 58–59).King Minos was the son ofEuropa by Zeus (see p. 45);Europa later married KingAsterius, who adopted Minosas his heir. When he becameking, Minos prepared an altarto Poseidon and prayed for abull to emerge from the seato be sacrificed. A beautifulwhite bull promptlyappeared, but it was sohandsome that Minos took itfor himself, and sacrificed alesser animal in its stead.Poseidon was furious and toavenge this slight madeMinos’s wife, Pasiphaë, fallin love with the white bull.Tribute shipThe black ship of mourning comes intoharbor with the tribute of seven youths andseven maidens, demanded by King Minos everynine years from the subjugated city of Athens.Royal sistersAriadne and Phaedra werethe two daughters of Minos andPasiphaë. Their brothers includedAndrogeus and Glaucus. It was inpayment for the Athenians’murder of Androgeus that Minosrequired the tribute ofyouths and maidens.Foreign steersmenThe Athenian boat was piloted by Phaeax,and steered by Nausitheus. Neither manwas a native of Athens, for the Atheniansat this date knew nothing about navigation.TheseusThe hero Theseustalks with Ariadneand Phaedra. It iswith their help thathe kills the Minotaur.Reel of ThreadAriadne offers Theseus areel of thread given to her byDaedalus, the architect of thelabyrinth. Tying one end to theentrance and tracing the windingpaths of the labyrinth, Theseuscould find his way out again.ThreadTheseus and the Minotaurby the Master of theCampana CassoniThis wooden panel depicts Theseus’ arrival inCrete and his meeting with the royal princesses;Ariadne giving him the reel of thread to helphim; his success in killing the Minotaur, andhis departure with Ariadne—but the shipstill carries black sails of mourning,anticipating the end of the story.The LabyrinthT he labyrinth was named after the Cretandouble-headed ritual ax, the labrys. Itmay be that such an ax was used in the lostCretan religious mysteries to which theMinotaur story must relate. The maze isclearly a plan of the underworld, to which thehero (Theseus) must descend with the helpof the maiden (Ariadne). The link continueswhen Minos, at his death, becomes a judge,deciding people’s fate in the afterlife. Mazesappear on Cretan vases, coins, and frescoes,and ritual dances were probably performedin maze patterns. Homer speaks in the Iliadof “the dancing floor which Daedalus oncebuilt in Knossos for lovely-haired Ariadne.”Also at Knossos, frescoes show youths andmaidens leaping over bulls in ritual dances.
  • 55. TheMinotaur•57Athenian heroThe Athenian hero Theseus—heir to KingAegeus—makes his way to the labyrinthwhere the Minotaur is incarcerated, surethat the gods will help him triumph.Half-man, half-beastThe Minotaur, with his human mindtrapped in the body of a beast, is oneof the most tragic and pitiable of all themonsters of Greek mythology. He evenhad a human name, the same as thatof Minos’ foster-father: Asterius orAsterion. Both names mean “star”;Minotaur means simply “bull of Minos.”Savage animalThe Minotaur, like his father therampaging white bull, was liable tokill anyone who stood in his way—here he is shown being capturedand driven into the labyrinth.Guardians of the mazeAriadne and Phaedra guard themaze in which their half-brother,the Minotaur, is confined.Promise of marriageAriadne fell in love with Theseus— perhaps at theprompting of Aphrodite (Venus)—and offeredhim her help in slaying the Minotaur if he wouldtake her back to Athens with him as his wife.Death in the mazeAt the heart of the maze,Theseus engages the Minotaurin single combat. Accordingto different sources, he slayedhim, either with his bare hands,a club, or with a sword thatAriadne had given him.A love betrayedTheseus leaves with Ariadne after he haskilled the Minotaur with her help. But hewill abandon her on the island of Naxos,where she will become the bride of Dionysus.Black SailsWhen previous tributes had been paid, theships taking the victims to Crete had setout and returned with black sails. KingAegeus was so confident in Theseus that hegave him white sails to hoist if he defeatedthe Minotaur. But Theseus forgot to raisethem and Aegeus, seeing the black sails onthe horizon, threw himself into the sea,now called the Aegean in his memory.The Fall of Icarus (detail), by Carlo Saraceni c. 1580/85–1620PhaedraTheseus later marries Ariadne’s sisterPhaedra, who falls in love withHippolytus, Theseus’s son bythe Amazon Hippolyta.Daedalus and IcarusDaedalus was an Athenian inventor who had been taught his skills by thegoddess Athena (Minerva) herself. However, he was eclipsed by his nephewTalos who, while still a youth, invented the saw, the potter’s wheel, and thecompasses. Jealous of him, Daedalus threw Talos off the roof of Athena’s templeand killed him. For this, he was banished and took refuge at the court of KingMinos, where he had a son, Icarus, by a slave girl. After Theseus slew the Minotaur,Minos shut Daedalus and Icarus in the labyrinth. The only way to escape from theunroofed labyrinth was by air, so Daedalus made two pairs of wings out of feathersand wax. He told Icarus neither to fly too near the sun, which would melt the wax,nor too near the sea, which would wet the feathers, and then the pair took flight.But Icarus, exulting in the freedom of the air, forgot his father’s words and flewever higher, until the sun melted the wax and he plummeted to his death in theocean below. Daedalus arrived safely in Sicily and took refuge with King Cocalus.Minos pursued him to the island, where Daedalus, who had installed a system ofhot-water pipes in the palace, scalded him to death while he was bathing.
  • 56. DionysusandAriadne•58Dionysus and AriadneA riadne, a Cretan princess, married the god Dionysus (Roman Bacchus) on the island of Naxos, where she had been abandoned while sleeping by her lover, Theseus (see pp. 54–55). Why he did this is unclear—he seems either to have tired of her, or feared taking her home to Athens as hisbride. Some accounts say that when Ariadne awoke to discover that he had left her, she either hangedherself in her grief or, as she was pregnant, was destroyed in childbirth by the goddess Artemis (Diana),urged on by Dionysus whowas furious that Theseus andAriadne had profaned hissacred grotto on Naxos. But other sources say thatDionysus wanted Ariadne,and scared Theseus away byappearing to him in a dream,causing him to forget her.Dionysus then marriedAriadne, although their firsttwo children, Oenopion andThoas, are sometimes referredto as fathered by Theseus.Music andpoetryDionysus was associated,through the creativeinspiration of wine, withpoetry, song, music, anddrama, resulting inmuch revelry.MaenadsThe female devotees of Dionysus wereknown as Maenads, which translates as“raving women.” In their ecstatic orgiesthey tore animals—and even humanssuch as Pentheus, King of Thebes—to pieces, and devoured their raw flesh.SilenusSilenus, Dionysus’ drunken old tutor, is his constant companion, and the leader of his revelers, made up of Sileni, Satyrs, Maenads, and Bassarids.The God PanThe god Pan (see pp. 42–43), seenhere playing the pan pipes, is oftenin Dionysus’ company. Some sourceseven suggest that Dionysus was hisfather. Although he has goatlikecharacteristics, he is not a satyr.TreesThe yew, fir, fig, ivy, and vinewere all sacred to Dionysus.RevelersThe orgiasticworship of Dionysuslasted until 186 bcewhen the Bacchanaliarites were suppressedby decree of theRoman Senate.Dionysus and Ariadneby Johann Georg Olatzer (1704–61)Dionysus and Ariadne celebrate theirmarriage with their friends. Thepainting contains plenty of referencesto Dionysus’ role as god of the vine.SatyrsThe satyrs were spirits with somegoatlike characteristics, not least theiruninhibited lust. Dionysus himself wasthe father of the phallic god Priapus, by the goddess Aphrodite (Venus). AriadneThe daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë,Ariadne is wearing a bridal wreath, givento her by Dionysus. It had belonged tohis stepmother, the sea nymph Thetis(see p. 25). When Ariadne died, thechaplet, a crown of seven stars, becamethe Corona Borealis. CherubsThe cherubs here mayrepresent Dionysus and Ariadne’s future sons: Oenopion, Thoas,Staphylus, Latromis,Euanthes, andTauropolus.Pan pipes
  • 57. DionysusandAriadne•59Crown of ivy and vineDionysus was the first to wear a crown, and is rarely seenwithout his crown of ivy and vine. He usually holds athyrsus, a rod which is also twined round with vines and ivy, topped with a pine cone (an ancient fertility symbol).Sacred grapesVines and grapes were sacred to Dionysus, who as god of viticulturewas credited with introducing the vine. His original role, however,was god of honey and the mead that was brewed from it. Under one of his Greek names, Bacchus, he became the Roman god of wine and shed most of his other roles.Worshiping maidensMaidens carrying golden baskets filled withfruits marched in the Dionysian festivals.Sacrificial goatThe slaughter of a goat wascentral to the worship ofDionysus. As a child, the godwas temporarily transformedinto a kid by the god Hermes(Mercury); goats were alsoassociated with vines.DionysusThe god of vegetation, wine, and ecstasy, Dionysus was theson of Zeus (Jupiter) by Semele, daughter of Cadmus (seep. 49). Hera (Juno), Zeus’ jealous wife, tricked Semele intodemanding that Zeus make love to her in his true form, aflash of lightning, and she was burnt to death. Zeus rescued the unborn child, sewing him into his thigh until he wasready to be born; hence Dionysus was called “twice-born.”This Greek bowl,dating from the 6thcentury bce, depicts Dionysusand the sailor-dolphins.Temple of DionysusThe island of Naxos (Dia) was especially sacred to Dionysus, andone ancient source tells us that he was angered when Theseusand Ariadne enjoyed sexual relations in his temple there.Mistress of the LabyrinthT he marriage of Dionysus and Ariadne reflects archaic mythic patterns from Minoan culture, inwhich Dionysus, taking the roles of both Zeus and Hades, was the chief god and often appearedas a bull. Pasiphaë’s bull lover (see p. 56), and the Minotaur, the offspring of this union, can alsoboth be seen as manifestations of this god. Ariadne, as mistress of the labyrinth (which representsthe underworld) is the Minoan Persephone (see pp. 28-29). This interpretation explains the storiesin which Dionysus is the son of Persephone, and also why Dionysus—in his role as Hades—lays claim to Ariadne. The Ephesian philosopher Heraclitus tells us that “Hades and Dionysus are one.”Dionysus and the DolphinsDionysus, drunk on wine and “as pretty as a girl,” wascaptured while fast asleep on the island of Chiosby sailors. When he awoke, he asked to be taken hometo Naxos. The sailors agreed but treacherously sailedthe other way. Realizing this, Dionysus pretended toweep and implored them to take pity. But they laughed at him, so the angry god, accompanied by the shadowyshapes of wild animals, stopped the boat and causedvines to sprout up the masts. The terrified sailors flungthemselves into the sea, where they changed intodolphins—all except the steersman who, having taken the god’s side, was protected, and later initiated into theDionysian mysteries.
  • 58. ledaandtheswan•60LedaandtheSwanLeda,wifeofTyndareusofSparta,wasanotherofZeus’(RomanJupiter’s)humanlovers.WalkingbytheriverEurotas,shewasoverpoweredbyZeusintheguiseofaswan.Asaresult,shelaidtwoeggs,fromwhichhatchedfourchildren—HelenandClytemnestra,andPolydeucesandCastor—althoughonlyHelenandPolydeucesareconsideredtobeZeus’offspring.LedaisthenlaterdeifiedasNemesis,thegoddessofjustretribution.InsomeearlyversionsLedamerelyfindstheeggcontainingHelen,daughterofZeusandNemesis.Inthisstory,NemesistriestoevadeZeusbyshape-shifting,turningfromoneanimalintoanotherinherattemptstoescape.ButZeusfollowssuit,trumpingeachchangewithhisown,untilshefinallyturnsintoagooseandhemateswithherintheformofaswan.Shedropsheregginamarsh,whereLedafindsit.Alternatively,Zeus,againdisguisedasaswan,pretendstobeindanger,takesrefugeinthebosomofNemesisandthenravishesher.Hermes(Mercury)thenthrowstheeggbetweenLeda’sthighssothatshe“givesbirth”toit.LedaandtheSwanbyFrancescoMelziorMelzo(1493–1570)ThispaintingcombinesLeda’srapebyZeusintheformofaswan,withthehatchingofthetwoeggsthatshelaidasaresult—“givingbirth”tothetwinsHelenandPolydeuces,andCastorandClytemnestra.Helenwastobecomethecauseofafamousten-yearwarbetweentheTrojansandtheGreeks(seepp.62–63).DeceivedbyaswanLeda,approachedonthebanksofariverbyagentleswan,realizedtoolatethatthebirdwasmerelyZeusindisguise.Thegodoverpoweredandrapedher.SpartaInthebackgroundthecityofSpartacanbeseen,whereLedaruledasqueenwithherhusbandKingTyndareus.TyndareuslatermadeMenelaus,thehusbandofLeda’sdaughterHelen,hisheir.Shape-shiftinggodOneofthemoststrikingattributesofZeuswashisabilitytochangeintoanyshapehechose.Inhisseductionsorrapesofmortalwomen,heoftenenticedthembyappearingintheformofsomelargebutseeminglytameanimal,andthenoverpoweredthemwhentheypettedandcaressedhim.“Sing,Oclear-voicedMuse,ofCastorandPolydeuces,begottenbyOlympianZeusandborntogreatLedabeneaththepeaksofTaygetos...Hail,O Dioscuri,ridersofswifthorses!”HomericHymntotheDioscuriClytemnestrabyJohnCollier(1850–1934)Nemesis,withwhomLedaisassociated,wasthedaughterofNight,andthegoddessofdivineretribution.Sheoversawthedistributionofwealth,lookedafterbalance,avengedarroganceandpunishedanyexcess—evenofhappiness—thatupsetthenaturalbalanceoftheworld.WifeofaKingLeda’shusband,Tyndareus,wasasonofPerseus’daughterGorgophone;herfatherwasKingThestius.ClytemnestraClytemnestra,Leda’sdaughter,wasforcedtomarryAgamemnon,kingofMycenae,afterhekilledherhusbandTantalusandherchild.Sheborehimfourchildren:Iphigenia,Electra,Chrysothemis,andOrestes.HeearnedherparticularhatredwhenhesacrificedtheirdaughterIphigeniatogainagoodwindwhenhesetsailtorescuehersisterHelenfromTroy.Whilehewasgone,ClytemnestraplottedwithTantalus’brotherAegisthus(alsoherlover)totakerevenge.OnhisreturntheykilledAgamemnoninhisbathwithanax,alsomurderingCassandra,theTrojanprincesshehadbroughtbackashislover.Aprophetess,CassandrahadwarnedAgamemnon,butitwasherfatenevertobebelieved.Severalyearslater,Orestes,toavengehisfather’sdeath,killedhismotherandAegisthus,acrimeofmatricide,whichledhimtobedrivenmadbytheFuries.
  • 59. 61• ledaandtheswanTwinDestiniesThetwinbrotherswereknownastheDioscuri(“sonsofZeus”)and,asCastorandPollux,becameimportantRomandeities.WhenCastorwasfatallywoundedinaquarrelwiththeirtwincousinsLynceusandIdas,PolydeucesbeggedhisfatherZeusnottolethimoutlivehisbrother.TakentoOlympus,PolydeucesrefusedtoaccepthisimmortalitywhileCastorremainedintheunderworld.Sotheycompromised,spendingonedayonOlympusandthenextinHades,realmofthedead.BornfromaneggLedalaidtwoeggsasaresultofherencounterwithZeus,andthefourchildrenbornfromthemallachievedrenown.Sourcesdifferastothefatherhoodoftheindividualchildren,butgenerallyHelenandPolydeucesareregardedasZeus’children,andClytemnestraandCastorasthechildrenofLeda’shusbandTyndareus.InseparabletwinsCastorandPolydeuceswereinseparablefrombirth,eventhoughonewasofhumanparentage,theother,divine.Castorwasamightywarriorandtamerofhorses,whilePolydeuceswasagreatboxer;theonlywaytotellthemapartwasbytheboxingscarsonhisface.HelenHelengrewuptobeexcessivelybeautifulandhadmanysuitors.Aftershewascarriedoff,attheageof12,byTheseus(afterhiswife,Phaedra,haddied,seepp.56–57)andhadbeenrescuedbyherbrothers,hersuitorsallsworerevengeifanyonetriedtostealherawayfromherchosenhusband.HelenmarriedKingMenelaus,andwhenshewasabductedbytheTrojanprinceParis(seepp.62–63),hersuitorskepttheirpromiseandlaidsiegetoTroy.Aftertheirdeath,theDioscuriacquiredasemi-divinityandwereveneratedasthetwinorGeminiconstellation.TheywereespeciallyimportanttotheSpartans,andlater,inthefifthcenturybce,totheRomans.Heroicdivinities,whoinlifehadbeeninvolvedinmanybattlesandadventures,theRomansbelievedthattheyhelpedthemonthebattlefield.ColumbinesUnderfootgrowpurplecolumbinesrepresentingresolution,oradesiretowin.TheymayrefertoZeus’determinationtomakelovetoLeda.TheLatinnameforcolumbineisaquilegia,fromtheLatinforeagle.Itreferstothespur-shapedpetalsreminiscentoftalonsandmaybeanotherreferencetoZeus,whoisoftenaccompaniedbyaneagle(seep.44).PolydeucesMotheroffatedgirlsThreeofLeda’sdaughters—Helen,Timandra,andClytemnestra—becamevictimsofAphrodite’s(Venus’)angerwhenTyndareusoverlookedherwhenmakingsacrificestothegods.Shedoomedthemtobe“twice-marriedandthrice-married”andbringshameuponthemarriagebed.ClytemnestraClytemnestra,Helen’stwinsister,wasfirstmarriedtoTantalusofPisa,andthenforciblymarriedtoMenelaus’brotherAgamemnon(seeabove).CastorAMythinTapestryT hestoryofLedaandtheswanwaswovenintapestrybyArachne,whochallengedAthena(Minerva)herselftoaweavingcompetition.Whilethegoddesswovestoriesofthefatesofpresumptuousmortals,Arachnewovethoseofdivinescandals,includingZeus’rapesofLeda,Danaë,andEuropa(seepp.44-45).AlthoughArachne’sworkequaledherown,Athenadestroyedit,anddroveArachnetohangherselffromshame.Atthelastmoment,thegoddesstookpityandcutherdown,allowinghertoliveintheformofaspider,withherweavingskillsintact.
  • 60. TheJudgmentofParis•62The Judgment of ParisP aris was the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, the ancient city of Ilium in Asia Minor. Shortly before he was born, Hecuba dreamt that she had given birth to a burning torchfrom which wriggled fiery snakes. As she awoke, she screamed that Troy was burning. Hecuba’s fearfuldream was interpreted to mean that Paris would bring about the fall of Troy. Therefore, a shepherdwas sent to expose him on Mount Ida. But five days later, the shepherd found the child unharmed,suckled by a she-bear, so he adopted him. One day, while caring for his adoptive father’s flocks, Pariswas visited by Hermes (Mercury) and the three goddesses, Athena (Minerva), Hera (Juno), andAphrodite (Venus). Hermes asked him todecide which goddess was the most beautiful—an impossible choice—and to award her agolden apple. Paris chose Aphrodite becauseshe promised to give him Helen, wife of KingMenelaus of Sparta, the most beautiful womanin the world. His decision set in motion theevents that led to the abduction of Helen and the start of the ten-year Trojan war.Owl of wisdomAthena was often accompanied by an owl to signifyher role as the goddess of wisdom and war.Blue eyesOne of Athena’s names means “blue-eyed, ”andthe eyes of her statues were painted blue. Shewas the patron goddess of the city of Athens.Battle shieldAthena was the goddess of war. She had sprung fully armed from thehead of her father Zeus, after he had swallowed her pregnant motherMetis, for fear she might give birth to a son stronger than himself. The motif on her shield is the head of the Gorgon Medusa, which was given to her by Perseus (see pp. 46–47).The Goddess AthenaWhen the war broke out between the Greeks and the Trojans, Athena(and Hera), furious with Paris, supported the Greeks. However, Athenawithdrew her support after the fall of Troy when the Trojan princessand prophetess Cassandra was violated in one of her shrines. The onlyGreek she continued to protect was Odysseus (see pp. 64–65).Hera, queen of heavenHera, queen of heaven, was the goddess of marriage. Her own was astormy one, and she often figures as a jealous and vengeful wife.For persecuting Heracles (see pp. 50–51), Zeus hung her from Olympus by the wrists, with anvils tied to her ankles.God of loveEros (Cupid), the impish god of love, oftenaccompanies Aphrodite,the goddess of sexual love.AphroditeAphrodite stands naked withAthena and Hera before Paris.They had all agreed to abide byParis’ decision, and Hermesallowed him to set the rules— so Paris required all threegoddesses to disrobe.This Roman drinking cup shows Priam, Hector’s father, beggingAchilles for the return of his son’s body.AchillesAchilles, a Greek hero of the Trojan war, was the son of Peleus and Thetis. He was invulnerable, apart fromone heel, having been dipped in the River Styx as a baby. Heterrified the Trojans and when he argued with Agamemnonand refused to fight, the Greeks began to lose. To help,Patroclus, his lover, wore Achilles’ armor in battle. When he was killed by Prince Hector, Achilles killed Hector anddragged his body behind his chariot through Troy. Achillesdied when an arrow, shot by Paris, pierced him in the heel.
  • 61. Eris, the Goddess of StrifeEris was responsible for instigating the quarrel andcompetition between tbe three goddesses. Offended bynot being invited to the wedding of the mortalPeleus with the sea nymph Thetis, she came to thefeast and threw down a golden apple inscribedwith the words “to the fairest,” thus causingthe argument that led to the Trojan war.Apple of StrifeParis holds the golden apple, not sure to whomhe should give it. Apples were sacred to Hera,so she felt that she had an even greaterclaim than the other two. Unable to decidebetween themselves who should win, thegoddesses had all agreed that as Paris wasthe handsomest of mortal men he should bethe judge of theirbeauty and award theapple accordingly.Peacock of prideThe peacock was Hera’s bird, as the owl was Athena’s. Itsignifies pride and ostentation, and the eyes in its tail are those of the 100-eyed guard dog Argus, killed by Hermes in the furtherance of Zeus’ love affair with the mortal princess Io.Persecutor of TroyHera’s fury when Paris chose Aphrodite knew no bounds, andshe devoted all her energy to supporting the Greeks in the warwith Troy. She even lay with Zeus under the cover of a cloud inorder to allow Poseidon to assist the Greeks unobserved.Mount IdaParis lived on Mount Ida tending his adoptive father’sflocks. At this point he is married to Oenone, daughter ofthe river god Cebren, with whom he has a son Corythus.But he abandoned her for Helen without a second glance.Herald’s staffHermes’ staff is called a caduceus—the two snakesattached themselves when Hermes found themfighting and laid his staff between them.Paris, spoiled for choiceParis had a difficult decision to make. Not only were thegoddesses potentially dangerous, but they all tried to bribehim. Hera offered riches and earthly dominion; Athenawisdom and victory in battle; and Aphrodite offered himHelen, the most beautiful woman in the world.Toward the end of the war Paris was fatallywounded by Philoctetes, a Greek who had beencalled from the island of Lemnos after acaptured Trojan prophet revealed that Troywould never fall without his aid. Armed with abow that had once belonged to Heracles (see p.50), Philoctetes shot Paris with arrows dippedin the poison of the Hydra. Knowing he was ingreat danger Paris returned to Mount Ida wherehe begged his former wife Oenone to heal him.But Oenone, so long abandoned, refused andParis died. She then killed herself out of grief.The Judgment of Parisby Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)Paris, with Hermes leaning on the tree behind him,holds out the golden apple while the three nakedgoddesses stand before him, waiting for his decision.Eris, goddess of strife, watches overhead.Hermes, Zeus’ messengerWhen the goddesses began to squabble over the golden apple, Zeus refused to decide between them. Instead he asked Hermes to escort them to Mount Ida for Paris to decide which of them deserved it the most.Golden appleThe Trojan WarT he Trojan war is related in Homer’s Iliad andmay have its roots in a real conflict in the 12thcentury bce. In the Homeric tradition, the war waswaged by the Greeks, led by Agamemnon, to recoverHelen, his sister-in-law, who had eloped with Paris.The first nine years were inconclusive, but in thetenth, Troy fell. Fooled into thinking the Greeks hadgiven up, the Trojans took in a huge wooden horse,left, they thought, as a religious offering. When thecity gates shut, the Greeks hidden inside sprang outand sacked Troy. Aeneas (see pp. 66–67), a Trojanprince, escaped and founded the Roman state. Legendtells how his great-grandson Brutus gathered andsettled with the remains of the Trojan race in Britain,then inhabited by just a few giants. There he foundedthe city of New Troy— later known as London.
  • 62. OdysseusReturnsHome•64Odysseus Returns HomeOdysseus (Roman Ulysses), hero and king of Ithaca, sacked several cities inThrace before sailing home after the Trojan war. Owing to the enmity of the sea godPoseidon (Neptune), his journey took ten years. His adventures included first landing onthe island of the Lotus eaters, where some of the crew were trapped in a trance, and thenon the island of the cyclopes (see box), where several of the crew were devoured. It wasOdysseus’ blinding of the cyclops Polyphemus—Poseidon’s son—that angered the sea godwho subsequently blew Odysseus off course, wrecked his ships, and ultimately killed his entirecrew. In his travels, Odysseus indulged in two romantic interludes on the way—the first withCirce, an enchantress who had turned his crew into pigs,and the second with the sea nymph Calypso, with whomhe stayed for seven years before his longing for hishome and wife moved the gods to pity. Unbeknownto Poseidon, Athena (Minerva) and the other godshelped Odysseus build a raft and sail for home; but whenPoseidon discovered this he was enraged and wreckedthe ship. Odysseus was washed ashore where he wasdiscovered by Nausicaa, daughter of Alcinous, king ofthe Phaeacians, who—at the cost of himself provokingPoseidon’s anger—helped Odysseus home to Ithaca.Odysseus and the Sirensby Herbert James Draper (1864-1920)This painting shows Odysseus and his crew as they sail past the island of thesirens, whose irresistible song lured sailors to their doom. On Circe’s advicethe crew stuffed their ears with beeswax so that they could not hear the falsepromises embodied in their seductive chant. Odysseus, wishing to hear theirsong, was lashed to the mast so that he could not leave the ship.Lashed to the mastOdysseus alone heard the sirens’ song—for he had asked his crew to tie him tothe mast so that he could listen to it.Tightening the knotsWhen Odysseus heard the sirens’ voices, he longed to join them, and begged hiscrew to untie him; but they obeyed his previous orders, and lashed him tighterstill. The man tightening the ropes is Eurylochus, Odysseus’s brother-in-law.Odysseus was the first man to hearthe sirens’ song and live. Their islandof Anthemoessa was littered withthe bleached bones of sailors theyhad lured to their deaths. Previouslyonly Jason and the Argonauts (see pp.52-53) had passed the sirens andsurvived—because the minstrelOrpheus (see pp. 30-31) drownedout their singing with his lyre.Deaf to all entreatiesOdysseus had to sail past the island of the sirens, whoseirresistible song lured sailors to their doom. On the advice ofthe enchantress Circe, Odysseus stuffed his crew’s ears withbeeswax, so that they could not hear the sirens’ seductive chant.Odysseus and Polyphemus by Tibaldi Pellegrino (1527–96)Odysseus stabs Polyphemus in the eye, which bubbles and hisses beforewinking out. When his neighbors call out to ask who is hurting him,the cyclops shrieks “Nobody” and they do not come to his aid.The CyclopesT he cyclopes were one-eyed giants. The poet Hesiod says that therewere three of them, the sons of Uranus (Cronos) and Gaia, andthat they forged Zeus’ thunderbolts—these cyclopes were killed byApollo for the death of Asclepius (see p. 39). The ones Odysseus meetstend sheep and live on an island now thought to be Sicily. Landingthere, Odysseus and his men were shut in a cave by the cyclopsPolyphemus, who ate several of them. Odysseus—who told the giantthat his name was “Nobody”—made him drunk and blinded him with asharpened tree trunk heated in the ashes of the fire. The next day he andhis crew escaped hidden under the giant’s sheep as they went to pasture.
  • 63. Bird-womenThe sirens were conceived of as harpylikecreatures, part-bird, part-hag. While theywere singing, they seemed like beautifulmaidens—but those who succumbed totheir song soon learned their true nature.Companionsof a GoddessAccording to one legend, thesirens had originally beenthe companions of Persephonebefore she was abducted by Hades(see pp. 28-29). Because theyfailed to save her, the goddesschanged them into grotesquecreatures as a punishment. Thesirens’ song tells, falsely, of thepleasures of the underworld.They also claimed thepower of prophecy.ThwartedCheated of their prey, the sirens are supposed to havedrowned themselves in anger and frustration. The bodyof one, Parthenope (“maiden-voice”) was washed ashoreat Naples, and the city originally bore her name.Sailors’ perilThe sirens here are depicted as mermaids,seductive maidens, half-human, half-fish, whosing to sailors of the delights of life underthe sea, luring them to shipwreck.Near the sirens’ island are two furtherdangers—the deadly whirlpool Charybdis,and the ravenous sea monster Scylla.Steering a course between the two, Odysseussailed too close to Scylla, and the monstersnatched six sailors from his ship—onewith each of her six heads.Deceptiveyoung beautyThe siren singsOdysseus and his crew have just sailed back from theunderworld, where Odysseus sacrificed a ram and a ewe to theshades of the dead. The ghosts, twittering like bats, flocked tothe blood, but Odysseus held them at bay until the seerTeiresias had told him how to get home.Odysseus the SurvivorOdysseus survived theonslaught of the sirens’song, thanks to the adviceof Circe. He was helpedand beloved by manyfemales in his travels, notleast the goddess Athena,who helped him long aftershe had stopped aidingthe rest of the Greeksin the Trojan war.Penelope and her SuitorsOdysseus’s wife Penelope was alone for 20 years, during which time a band ofsuitors had gathered in her palace, each hoping to marry her. She delayed,refusing to make a choice until she had woven a shroud for Odysseus’ father.But each night, she unpicked her day’s work, so it was never finished. By the timeOdysseus came home—disguised as a beggar—Telemachus, his heir, was of age, andthe suitors were planning to kill him. Only recognized by his dog and his old nurseEurycleia, Odysseus revealed himself to his son, and together they killed the suitors.He convinced Penelope of his identity by knowing the secret of their marriage bed,which was carved from a living tree and so could not be moved. When Odysseusdied Penelope married Telegonus, his son by Circe; and Circe married Telemachus.
  • 64. DidoandAeneas•66Dido and AeneasAeneas, a Trojan prince, was the son of Venus (Greek Aphrodite) and amortal called Anchises. Aphrodite told Anchises that his son would one dayfound a great dynasty and, indeed, the Romans regarded Aeneas as the founder oftheir race. Virgil’s Aeneid tells how he escaped from the sack of Troy carrying hisfather on his back and how, after a long journey, during which his father died, hecame to Italy and founded a settlement on the site of Rome. The most famous part ofthe story is his love affair with Dido, Queenof Carthage. Shipwrecked by Juno (Hera),who did not wish him to fulfil his destiny,Aeneas and his men were brought to Dido’scourt, where he and Dido fell in love. Aeneasstayed in Carthage as her consort, untilJupiter (Zeus) sent Mercury (Hermes) totell him to leave and continue his journey.When Dido found out that he planned toleave her, she had a funeral pyre built and,as his ship set sail, she climbed up onto itand stabbed herself to death with his sword.Consumed by LoveDido’s first husband Sychaeus, whom she had loveddeeply, had been killed by her own brother, and Didohad sworn never to remarry. But after Cupid kindledthe fire of love in her heart for Aeneas, she wasconsumed by desire for him.By taking Aeneas as her consort, Dido became a pawnin a power game between Juno and Venus. Juno hated theTrojans (see p. 62) and deliberately wrecked Aeneas’ shipsat Carthage, her own city, and encouraged a union withDido to prevent him from founding Rome. Venus did nottrust Juno and wished her son to fulfil his destiny. Unsureof Juno’s plans and afraid of the house of Carthage, sheacted first, making sure that Cupid (Eros) caused Dido tofall so deeply in love with Aeneas that her allegiance toJuno would be forgotten.Devoted sisterAnna, Dido’s sister, encouraged herin her love for Aeneas. When Didobuilt a pyre, Anna helped, thinkingshe meant to practice love magic,either to bring Aeneas back orto free herself from his spell.Dark caveLight shines from the cave, offering shelter from the storm.It was here that Juno, goddess of marriage, to whom Didohad made sacrifice, joined her with Aeneas. In doing this, sheplanned to keep Aeneas in her favored city of Carthage ratherthan let him found Rome, a city that might destroy Carthage.Dido, queen of CarthageDido is wearing a yellow dress.When she welcomed Aeneas and hismen to Carthage, he gave her a dressin gratitude. It had a border wovenof yellow acanthus flowers and hadoriginally belonged to Helen of Troy.Dido and AeneasEscape a Stormby Johann Heinrich Tischbein (1722–89)This painting shows Dido and Aeneas about toenter a cave to shelter from a storm that has blown upwhile they have been out hunting. Inthe cave, they admit their love for each otherand thereafter Aeneas is Dido’s consort.AeneasAeneas follows Dido, accompaniedby Cupid. Like Dido, Aeneas hadbeen married but his wife, Creusa,had died on the journey. He had ason called Ascanius, who in Virgil’sAeneid is almost adult.
  • 65. DidoandAeneas•67NymphsThe heavens were witness tothe “marriage” of Dido andAeneas within the cave. Lightningflashed, and nymphs wailed upon themountaintops, for they knew that thismoment would lead to Dido’s death.Jealous kingThis figure may be Achates, Aeneas’ armor-bearer and companion. But his glowering lookssuggest that he is Iarbas, the king of Libya. Iarbaswas in love with Dido but she rejected him. Whenhe learned that she loved Aeneas, he jealouslybegged his father Jupiter to end their union.Divine stormWhile Dido and Aeneas were out hunting, they wereovertaken by a storm. It was no natural gale, but onesent by Juno in order to separate them from theircompanions, and force them to take refuge in a cave.Dido killed herself in grief, lamenting thatAeneas had not even left her with a child to love inhis stead. But even in death she suffered for manyhours before Iris, Juno’s messenger, cut a lock of herhair to release her soul from her body.Wrecked ShipsAeneas and his men were driven ashore at Carthage because Juno hadheard that if they founded a new city it would destroy her own city ofCarthage. By wrecking them there and bringing Dido and Aeneastogether, she hoped to prevent this.The Founding of RomeRomulus and his twin brother Remus were the sons of Aeneas’ descendant Rhea Silvia, a vestal virgin, and Mars (Ares), the god of war. At theirbirth, their mother’s evil uncle Amulius (who had deposed her father) killedher and threw the boys into the River Tiber. Luckily, they were carried ashoreand cared for by a female wolf until they were found by Faustulus, one of theold king’s shepherds. When the boys grew up, Faustulus told them theirhistory and they killed Amulius and restored their grandfather to the throne.Then they decided to build a city on the Tiber. They each climbed a hill andsought omens from the gods as to which of them should rule it. Romulus,having seen 12 vultures to Remus’ six, was favored and began to plow afurrow to mark the city’s limits. When Remus leaped over the furrowjeering (which was a sacrilegious act) Romulus killed him. To gather apopulation, Romulus made his city a sanctuary, and it was soon filled withoutlaws who stole their wives from the nearby Sabine tribe. Once Romewas established, Mars took Romulus away in his chariot to become a god.Aeneas in the UnderworldOn leaving Dido, Aeneas wished to see his dead father Anchises again, so he visited the Sybyl of Cumae. She advised him to pluck a golden bough from thesacred grove, and offer it to Proserpine (Persephone), who would guide him. Onceamong the dead Aeneas saw Dido, who turned silently away from his tearful words,and also found his father. But when he tried to hug him, he only embraced the air.He also saw souls drinking the water of oblivion so that they would forget theirformer lives and be born again. Anchises showed him a parade of souls who wouldbe born again as great Romans, including Romulus and the Roman Emperors.This bronze statue used to stand on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, where Romulussaw the 12 vultures and began to make the city boundaries. It shows Romulus andRemus being suckled by the she-wolf. Wolves were said to have connections withthe god of war, so it is possible he sent her purposefully to rescue his children. Thewolf dates from the fifth century bce but the children are later additions.She-wolfRomulus andRemus
  • 66. TheNorseGods•68The Norse GodsOdin the chief god, or “All-Father” of the Norse gods and his brothers, Vili and Ve, created the world from thebody of the first living creature, the frost giant Ymir, whomthey killed. Ymir had come into being when the fiery sparks ofthe hot, southern land of Muspell had met with the meltingice of Niflheim, the cold land in the north. When Odin andhis brothers killed him, Ymir’s blood drowned all the frostgiants except Bergelmir and his wife, who later bore a race ofgiants, forever opposed to the Norse gods (see opposite).Once he was dead, the brothers used Ymir’s bones to makemountains, his skull to make the dome of the sky, and hisblood became the seas. Then they set the stars, the sun, andthe moon in the sky. One day, when walking along thebeach, they found two tree trunks—an ash and an elm. Fromthese, they made the first man and woman, Ask and Embla.Odin breathed the spirit of life into them, Vili gave themthoughts and feelings, and Ve gave them hearing and sight.They were given the realm of Midgard—Middle Earth—tolive in (see pp. 70–71). The gods lived in the realm of Asgard.There were two races of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir, whowaged war against each other until they agreed to a truce.Of the three gods depicted in this tapestry, the battlegod Odin and his warlike son Thor were Aesir, andFreyr, the fertility god, was one of the Vanir. Freyr wentto live with the Aesir to seal the truce.The Ride of the Valkyries by Arthur RackhamAn 11th-century account of the heathen temple at Uppsala tells us thatOdin, Thor, and Freyr were the three most important gods, and describeshow they were worshiped in the form of statues, and how sacrifices of dogs,horses, and men were made to them. Much less is known about the Vikinggoddesses than the gods, though one primary source, Snorri Sturluson,claims that they were just as holy and powerful.Missing eyeOdin has only one eye. He sacrificedthe other one for a single mouthfulof water from the spring of wisdom,which bubbled from underneaththe second root of the worldtree Yggdrasil (see pp. 70–71).Odin, lord of hostsOdin had many names and many disguises, but he is mostoften invoked as a battle god. Here, he carries an ax, butmore frequently carries the spear Gungnir; one of his epithetsis Spear-Brandisher. Odin inspired warriors with battle ecstasy,and welcomed the battle dead in his paradise hall of Valhalla.World TreeOdin once hanged himself onthe world tree, Yggdrasil, fornine days and nights. Piercedwith a spear, he sacrificedhimself to himself, in a magicrite to bring him hiddenknowledge. On the ninth day,he saw magic runes below him.When he managed to lift them,they set him free and filledhim with power.The ValkyriesThe valkyries were supernatural women whohad several roles: they lived with Odin in thegolden hall of Valhalla, where they served ale to theshades of dead warriors; they also rode into battlein armor, wielding spears, and allotting victory anddefeat—“valkyrie” literally meaning “Chooser ofthe Slain.” Two valkyries, Gunn and Rota, chosemen for death, accompanied by Skuld (necessity),the youngest of the Norns, one of the Three Fateswho shaped men’s lives. The valkyries may havehad a special relationship with the warriors knownas “berserks” who, inspired by Odin’s battle fury,flung off their armor to fight with supernaturalstrength. Certainly the beserks were likely to die inbattle, and so win a place in Valhalla, where theysplit their time between fighting and drinking.Valhalla was envisaged as a vast golden hall, with aroof of shields, a frame of spears, and 540 doors,through each of which 800 warriors would be ableto march abreast at the last battle of Ragnarok.
  • 67. TheNorseGods•69Freyr, god of fertilityFreyr, a god of fertility, was originallyone of the Vanir, who became subsumedin Odin’s more warlike Aesir. Freyr andhis sister Freya were the children ofNjord, the god of the sea.Ask, the first manAsk and his wife Embla were the first man and woman.They were created by Odin from logs on the seashore andare said to be the ancestors of all mankind.Ear of cornFreyr holds an ear of corn, in token of his role as thegod who controls rain and sunshine. He is also a godof fertility, and some kind of ritual marriage seems tohave formed part of his rites. His sister Freya, who wasprobably originally a fertility goddess, became regardedas a goddess of battle, love affairs, and soothsaying.Thor, Godof ThunderThis bronze statuettedepicts Thor, the thundergod whose weapon wasthe hammer Mjollnir.Mjollnir was given toThor by the god Loki (seep. 71), who had trickedthe dwarves into givingit to him. It could nevermiss its mark, andreturned to thethrower’s hand.Thor’s hammer, Mjollnir, enabled the Aesir to protectAsgard against the giants. A giant did once stealit and would only return it if the goddess Freya wouldmarry him. So Thor and Loki dressed up as Freya and hermaid. When Mjollnir was placed in Thor’s lap to bless theunion, he discarded his disguise and killed all the giants.Thor, god of thunderThor the thunder god was Odin’s eldest son; his motherwas the earth. He was immensely strong and famed for hisenormous appetite. In a contest in the land of the giants,he drank so much of the sea at one gulp that he created thetides. He traveled in a chariot drawn by two goats.Viking tapestryThis picture shows a detail from a Viking tapestry datingfrom the 12th century. It shows the Aesir gods Odin andThor, and Freyr, who was one of the Vanir.It used to hang in a church in Halsingland.Early Germanic peoples worshiped Odinas Wotan or Woden, the origin of the word“Wednesday.” His wife Frigg, is the origin ofFriday, Thor gives us the word for Thursday andTiw or Tiwaz, another Germanic battle god, isthe source for Tuesday. Tiw survives as Tyr inNorse mythology, but most of his functions seemto have been transferred to Odin.HammerRaven friends of OdinOdin is often depicted with his tworavens, Huginn and Muninn (Thoughtand Memory) perched on hisshoulders. He sent them flyingabroad each day from his chairin Asgard, from which hecould survey all of the worlds.Loki and the GiantAfter the war between the Aesir and the Vanir, Asgard was left without a defensive wall.One day, a man came on horseback and offeredto rebuild the wall even stronger than before.But his price for the job was the sun, the moon,and the goddess Freya for his wife. On the adviceof the trickster god Loki, the gods agreed butonly on condition that the work was done in sixmonths—which they considered impossible. Butthe man and his horse Svaldifari worked so fastthat three days before the deadline the wall wasalmost complete. The gods were horrified, soLoki, who could change shape, disguised himselfas a mare and lured Svaldifari away, leaving theman unable to finish the wall in time. At this, theman became so angry that he began to swelland revealed himself to be a rock giant, a racewho hated the gods. Thor killed him with onehammer blow. Months later, Loki returnedleading a strange foal—Loki’s child by Svaldifari.This was Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged steed,who could outrun anything, and bear its riderright down to Hel, the land of the dead.
  • 68. TheWorldTreeMyth•70TheWorldTreeMythAccordingtotheNorsepoemTheLayofGrimnir,“Ofalltrees,Yggdrasilisthebest.”Yggdrasilisahugeashtreethatstandsatthecenterofthecosmos,protectingandnourishingtheworlds.Thegodsaredescribedasridingouteachday“fromYggdrasil”todealoutfatestomankind,anditwasonYggdrasilthatthesupremegodOdinwillinglysacrificedhimself,hangingintormentforninelongnightsbeforehecouldseizetherunesofpower.Yggdrasilsupportednineworlds,setinthreelayers.AtthetopwasAsgard,therealmoftheAesir,orwarriorgods,Vanaheim,therealmoftheVanir,orfertilitygods,andAflheim,therealmofthelightelves.Inthemiddle,linkedtoAsgardbytherainbowbridgeBifrost,wasMidgard(MiddleEarth),therealmofmortalmen,andalsoJotunheim,theworldofthegiants,Nidavellir,thehomeofthedwarfs,andSvartalfheim,thelandofthedarkelves.BelowwasNiflheim,therealmofthedead,anditscitadelHel.TheninthworldissometimessaidtobeHelandsometimestheprimevalfireofMuspell,whichwilldevourcreationattheendoftime.Yggdrasilitselfwillsurvive,andwillprotectinHoddmimir’sWoodthemanandwomanwhowillre-peopletheworld.ThebranchesofYggdrasilspreadoutoverthewholeworld,andreachuptoheaven.EagleAgianteaglesitsatthetopofYggdrasil,withahawkperchedbetweenitseyes.Theflappingoftheeagle’swingscauseswindsintheworldsbelow.TreeofsacrificeYggdrasilliterallymeans“terriblehorse”or“Odin’shorse,”asOdin,whenhewassacrificedonthetreetogainknowledgeofthemagicrunes,isdescribedas“riding”it,inthesamesensethatNorsepoetsrefertoagallowstreeasahorse.THEWORLDTREEThismanuscriptshowsYggdrasil,theworldorcosmictree,whichsupportsthenineNorseworlds.Stagsandgoatsnibbleatitstwigs,itstrunkrots,andthedragonNidhogggnawsitsroots,causingitgreatsuffering.ButthetreeissavedfromdecaybythethreeNorns­—Fate,Being,andNecessity—whosprinklethetreeeachdaywithwaterfromthewelloffate.GagFenrirhowledsoterriblywhenheknewhewasbound,thatoneofthegodsstuckaswordbetweenhisupperandlowerjawasagag.RiverofspittleThedroolfromFenrir’smouthrunsdowntoformtheriverofHope.ThisVikingstoneatKirkAndreasontheIsleofManshowsFenrirswallowingOdin,whohasoneofhisravensonhisshoulder.FENRIRTHEWOLFFenrirthewolfwasasonofLoki,thetrickstergod.HewasbroughttoAsgard,butgrewsofiercethatonlythegodTyrdaredtofeedhim.Here,heisshownboundandgaggedbythegods.TheytrickedhimintolettingthembindhimwithtwochainscalledLaedingandDromibyteasinghimthathewouldnotbeabletoescape.Hedidsowithease.Butthentheyboundhimwithamagicalchainandhewasunabletoescape.HewillremainbounduntilthefinalcataclysmicbattleofRagnarok(seeabove).MagicfetterFenririsboundbyanunbreakablefettercalledGleipnir.Itwasmadebythedarkelvesfromthesoundofacat’sfootfall,awoman’sbeard,amountain’sroots,abear’ssinews,afish’sbreath,andabird’sspittle.Itwasassoftandsmoothassilk.TheBattleofRagnarokRagnarok,sometimescalledtheTwilightoftheGods,is thefinalcataclysmthatwilldestroythisworldandthegods.Afterthreeterriblewinters,auniversalwarwillbreakoutandthegodLoki—nowanenemyoftheAesir—andhisson,Fenrirthewolf,willbreakfromtheirbonds.Lokiwillthensailwithanarmyofthedeadtothefinalbattle,inwhichFenrirwillswallowthesun,andkillOdin;ThorwillslaytheWorldSerpent,butdiefromitspoison;andthegodswillperish.FinallySurt,guardianofthefiresofMuspellsincethebeginningoftime,willreleasethemandengulftheworldinflame.Afterthisworldisdestroyed,anewonewillarise.OnlyOdin’ssonsVidarandVali,andThor’ssonsModiandMagni,willsurvive,andthegodsBalderandHodwillreturntolife.Theywillsitonthenewearthandtalkoftheworldthatwas;inthegrasstheyshallfindthegoldenchesspiecesofthegods.Twopeople,LifandLifthrasir,willsurviveinthebranchesoftheWorldTreeandrepopulatetheearth.
  • 69. 71• TheWorldTreeMythDragonattherootsAtthebottomofYggdrasilinNiflheimliesthedragonNidhogg,whichglutsitselfoncorpses.Healsognawsattherootsoftheworldtree,hopingtodestroyit.Heisatwarwiththeeagleatthetop.ThreerootsYggdrasilhadthreeroots.BeneaththefirstwasthewelloffateguardedbythethreeNornswhocontrolpeople’slives.Beneaththesecondwasthewellofwisdom,guardedbytheheadoftheAesirMimir,whowaskilledbytheVanirgods,butwhoseheadOdinpreservedwithherbsandspells.Beneaththethirdwasawellofpoison,fromwhichflowedtheriversofHel.ItwasatthewellofwisdomthatthegodHeimdalllefthisgreathornuntilheshouldneedittosummonallcreationtothefinalbattleofRagnarok(seeabove).SquirrelmessengerThesquirrel,Ratatosk,runsupanddownthetree,carryinginsultsfromthedragonattherootstotheeagleatthetop.SpecialfruitThecookedfruitofYggdrasilensuredsafechildbirth.Thetreedripsdewsosweetthatbeesmakehoneyfromit.StrangenewfettersFenrirwassuspiciousofthestrangenewfetter,andagreedtobeboundonlyifoneofthegodsputtheirhandinhismouth.Tyrthrusthisrighthandintothebeast’smouthandwhenFenrirrealizedhehadbeentricked,hebitoffTyr’shand.TremblingleavesWhenRagnarokapproaches,theWorldTreewillbegintoshakeandtremble.FourdeerFourhorneddeer—Dain,Dvalin,Duneyr,andDurathror—livedonYggdrasil’strunk,nibblingthefreshgreenshoots.ShelteringtreeYggdrasilsheltersthenineworlds.Attheendoftheworld,duringthebattleofRagnarok,itwillprovideshelterforamanandwoman,LifandLifthrasir,whowillfeedonthesweetmorningdew,andbethesourceofnewlifeintheagetocome.AlthoughitwasprophesiedthatatRagnarok,FenrirwouldswallowthesunanddevourOdin—beforebeingkilledinturnbyOdin’ssonVidar—thegodsrefusedtoprofanetheholygroundofAsgardbykillinghim,sotheychainedhimupinstead.SpawnofLokiFenrirwasthesonofLokiandthegiantessAngrboda.Hisbrothers,alsofatheredbyLoki,wereJormungand,theWorldSerpent,whichencircledMiddleEarth,andwasoncefishedupbyThor,andHel,rulerofthedead.“ThreerootsspreadthreewaysUndertheashYggdrasil.Helisunderthefirst,Frost-Giantsunderthesecond,Mankindunderthelast.”TheLayofGrimnirLoki,theTricksterGodCapableofgoodandevil,Lokiisanambiguousfigure,whoinlater recordsbecomesentwinedwiththeimageoftheChristiandevil.AlthoughhewasbroughtupasOdin’sfoster-brother,hewasactuallyagiant.Hewasacceptedamongthegodsbecauseofhislivelywit,butitisperhapshis“outsider”statusthatisattherootofhislaterbitternessandvengefulness.Heplaystricksonthegods,stealingorhidingtreasuressuchastheapplesofyouth(causingthegodstoage),orFreyja’spreciousnecklace,Brisingamen;buthealwaysrescuesthesituation.However,hebecomesincreasinglymaliciousafterhecausesthedeathofBalder,Odin’sson,thehandsomestofthegods.Forthis,thegodscatchhimandbindhimtoarockwiththeentrailsofoneofhissons,andasnakedropspoisoninhisface,whichhiswifecatchesinacup.Whensplashed,hiswrithingsmadetheentireearthshake.HedoesnotescapeuntilRagnarok(seeabove).This12th-centurystoneshowsLokiboundtoarockforkillingBalder.
  • 70. SigurdtheDragon-slayer•72SigurdtheDragon-slayerSigurd,sonoftheheroSigmundandafavoriteoftheNorsegodOdin,grewupanorphan.Avaliantyouth,heslewthedragonFafniratthebehestofRegintheSmithandtookhistreasure(seebelow).Butthetreasurehoardwastaintedbyaringthathadbeencursed(seebox)anddisasterfollowed.SigurdsoonmarriedGudrun,daughterofGjuki,kingoftheNiflungsandagreedtohelpherbrotherGunnartowinBrynhild,avalkyriewholivedbehindawalloffire.DisguisedasGunnar,hewonher,gaveherthefatefulring,andGunnarmarriedher.ButSigurd’sownwifeGudrun,seeingBrynhildwearingthering,couldnotresisttauntingherwiththetruestory.BrynhildwasfuriousanddemandedthatGunnarandhisbrotherHognimurderSigurd.ShethenkilledherselfandwasburnedonSigurd’sfuneralpyre.Afterthis,GudrunmarriedAtli,Brynhild’sbrotherandhekilledGunnarandHogniforher,inrevengeforkillingSigurd.ButGudrunthenkilledherchildrenbyAtli,madetheirskullsintocups,andservedAtlitheirbloodaswineandtheirheartsasmeat.Thenshesetfiretohishall,andeveryoneinit.Underwater,BeowulffightsGrendel’smotherwhohadattackedhimforthedeathofherson.SigurdkillsFafnirCrouchinginthepit,Sigurdstabbedupward,slicingthroughthedragon’sbody.WhenSigurdkilledFafnir,hewasdousedinthedragon’sblood,whichmadehiminvulnerable,exceptforatinyareaonhisback,wherealeafhadstucktohisskin.ThedyingdragonaskedSigurdwhohewas.Sigurd,fearingtogivesuchacreaturepoweroverhimbytellingithisname,toldFafnirhisnamewas“Noble-beast,”andthathehadnofatherormother:“Iwalkthisworldalone.”Brother-in-lawInalaterpartofthestory,Sigurd’sbrother-in-lawtriestoescapefromasnakepitbyplayingalyrewithhistoesandcharmingthesnakes.DyingdragonBeforehedied,FafnirwarnedSigurdtoleavethetreasurealone,foritwouldbringonlymisery.ButSigurdtookitsothathecouldwinGudrun,daughterofGjuki,kingoftheNiflungs,ashisbride.SigurdSigurdisthegreatestoftheGermanicheroes,herooftheVolsungaSaga,theNibelungenlied,andofmanyEddaicpoemssuchasReginsmalandFafnismal.ThestoryofSigurdwasdevelopedinNorsesagasandpoemsandalsoinGermanicliterature,culminatinginthehighlysophisticatedsagaofloveandrevenge,TheNibelungenlied,inwhichSigurdiscalledSiegfried,andthestoryofthedragon-slayingisunimportant.TodaymostpeopleknowitasthebasisofWagner’soperacycleTheRing(seep.79).churchdoorwayThisdoorwaywascarvedinabout1200andcomesfromachurchatHylestad,Norway.ItshowsthestoryofSigurd.Ontheright,ReginforgeshimaswordandSigurdkillsthedragon.Ontheleft,Sigurdtastesthedragon’sbloodand,asaresult,understandsthebirds,whowarnhimthatReginisplanningtokillhim.SigurdthenkillsRegin.TheHeroicDeedsofBeowulfEverynightfor12years,thehallofHrothgar,king oftheDanes,hadbeenvisitedbyamonsterofthefensnamedGrendel,whoattackedandkilledHrothgar’smen.Atlastahero,BeowulfoftheGeats,sworetokillGrendelordieintheattempt.Thatnight,whenthemonsterenteredthehall,Beowulfwrestledwithhim,toreoffhisarm,andthecreaturefledhowlingintothenighttodie.Thenextnight,therewasgreatfeastingbutunexpectedly,asthecompanyslept,Grendel’smotherdescendeduponthehalltotakerevengeforherson’sdeath.Thenextmorning,Beowulftrackedhertothelakewhereshelived,divedintothemurkywater,andkilledherwithagreatsword,tooheavyforanyonebutaherotowield,whichhefoundlyingonthelakebed.ThewatersboiledwithbloodandBeowulf’sfollowersthoughthemustbedead—buthesurfaced,holdingtheheadsofGrendelandGrendel’smother.BeowulfbecameagreatkingoftheGeats,anddiedinoldagebattlinganothermonster—afire-breathingdragon,whichforcenturieshadguardeditshoardoftreasureinanancientburialmound.
  • 71. 73• SigurdtheDragon-slayerRegin,smithtoakingReginbecamesmithatthecourtofKingHjalprekofJutland,foster-fatheroftheyoungherooftheVolsungs,Sigurd.Thecruel-heartedRegintookSigurdunderhiswing.HetoldtheboyaboutFafnir’shoard,andofferedtomakehimaswordwithwhichtoslaythedragon,andwinthegold.TestingtheswordTotestthereforgedblade,SigurdswungitdownonRegin’sanvil,whichshatteredintwo.TheswordwassosharpthatwhenSigurdputitinrunningwateritseveredatuftofwoolthatdriftedagainstitsedge.PoisontongueAsthedragonreturned,itspatpoisonatSigurd.AtrapforthedragonSigurdandReginwenttoGnita-heathwherethedragonlived,anddugatrenchforSigurdtohidein.CookingtheheartWhilecookingthedragonFafnir’sheart,Sigurdaccidentallyburnedhisthumb.Whenheputitinhismouth,hediscoveredthathehadacquiredthedragon’spowers,andcouldunderstandthelanguageofbirds.SigurdkillsReginSigurdhadlovedandtrustedRegin.WarnedbythebirdsofRegin’streachery,Sigurd,overcomebyfeelingsofbetrayal,ranhimthroughwiththeswordthatReginhimselfhadforged.CheatedbrotherReginhadbeencheatedofhisshareofOtter’sransombyhisbrotherFafnir,whotookitallforhimself.ReginfledfromFafnir,whopossessedahelmetofterror,andFafnirturnedhimselfintoadragonsothathecouldlieonhishoardandprotectit.Sigurd’shorseSigurd’shorseGrani,whichwouldonlycarryitsmaster,wasdescendedfromOdin’shorseSleipnir(seep.68).HereGraniisshownloadeddownwiththedragon’streasure—includingthecursedringofAndvari.Sigurd’sswordwasremadefromfragmentsofGram,theswordthathadbelongedtohisfather,theheroSigmund.IthadbeenagiftfromOdin,thegodofbattles,whohadbroughtithimselfintoSigmund’shallandthrustitintotheroof-tree.OnlySigmundhadbeenstrongenoughtopullitout.WhenSigmunddied,Odinshatteredthesword.BirdsinthetreeThebirdssinginginthetreeabovewarnedSigurdthatReginintendedtotrickhim.AfterSigurdhadkilledFafnir,Reginrevealedthedragonhadbeenhisbrother,andthatSigurd,therefore,owedhimablood-debt.However,hesaidthatifSigurdcutoutthedragon’sheartandcookeditforhimtoeat,hewouldacceptthatdeedaspayment.Dragon-SlayerWhenFafnirreturned,Sigurddrovetheswordthroughhim,killinghim,butdrenchinghimselfwithblood,thusbecominginvulnerable.ItispossiblethatoriginallyitwasSigurd’sfatherSigmundwhowasthedragon-slayer—theeighth-centuryAnglo-SaxonpoemBeowulf(seeabove)sayshekilledadragonandgaineditstreasure.Otter’sRansomOnedaythegodsOdin,Loki,andHonirvisitedMiddleEarth.TheysawanotterabouttoeatasalmonandLokithrewastoneandkilledit.Comingtoahouse,thegodsofferedthemeatinexchangeforaroomforthenight.ButtheirhostHreidmar’ssmilesoonfaded,fortheotterwashisownson,Otter.Skilledinmagic,Hreidmarmadethegodshelplessand,withhisothersonsFafnirandRegin,tiedthemupandthreatenedtokillthem.Instead,Odinofferedtopayaransom,soHreidmardemandedasmuchgoldaswouldfillandthencompletelycoverOtter’sflayedskin.Lokiwasreleasedtosearchforthegold.HelpedbyAegirandRan,theseagods,hecaughtthedwarfAndvari,whowashidingdisguisedasafish,andforcedhimtohandoverhistreasure.Lokiwouldnotevenallowhimtokeepamagicringthatwouldenablehimtobuilduphisfortuneagain;soAndvaricursedtheringtobringmisfortunetowhoeverownedit.WhenLokireturned,hehadalmostenoughgoldtopaytheransom—onewhiskerwasstillleftuncovered.SomaliciousLokitookoutAndvari’sring,andaddedittothepile,andwithit,Andvari’scurse.
  • 72. Lohengrin•74LohengrinLohengrintheSwanKnightisaheroofmedievalEuropeanmythwhowaseventuallyabsorbedintoArthurianlegend,asthesonoftheGrailknightParsifal(Percival,seep.80).Accordingtothe13th-centuryfolkepicLohengrinandrelatedsources,whenthedukeofBrabantdied,heurgedhisonlychild,Elsa,tomarryhisknight,FriedrichofTelramund.ButElsarefusedFriedrich,whocomplainedtotheEmperor,HenrytheFowler,thatshehadbrokenherpromise,andaccusedherofkillingherfather.Facedwiththesecharges,andwithoutanyonetodefendher,Elsaprayedforhelp.ThiscausedthebellintheGrailkingdomofMontsalvattopeal,indicatingthatsomeoneneededhelp.Lohengrincametoherrescue,helpedbyamagicalswan.LohengrindefeatedFriedrichinsinglecombat,thusprovingElsa’sinnocence,andFriedrichwascondemnedtodeath.LohengrinthenmarriedElsa,andbecamedukeofBrabant,butonlyonconditionthatsheneveraskedhimhisnameorwherehehadcomefrom.ButtheinevitablehappenedandElsawasleftaloneandbrokenhearted.“Lohengringrewtobeastrongandvaliantmaninwhomfearwasneverseen.WhenhewasofanagetohavemasteredtheartsofchivalryhedistinguishedhimselfintheserviceoftheGrail.”Parzival,c.1200byWolframvonEschenbachTheHolyGrailThisholyobjectofquestandlegend(seepp.80–81)hoverslikeablessingasLohengrindefendsElsa’shonor. ThelegendoftheSwanKnightwasfirstincorporatedintoArthurianlegendintheParzivalofWolframvonEschenbach(c.1200).There“Loherangrin”issaidtothethesonoftheLordoftheGrail,Parzival,andhiswifeCondwiramurs.Hehasatwinbrother,Kardeiz,whoinheritsParzival’searthlythrones,whileLohengrininheritshisspiritualones.ActIIoftheOperaSiegfriedbyAubreyBeardsley(1872-98)Lohengrin’sprohibitionagainstbeingquestionedabouthisnameandbackgroundrecallsCupid’swarningtoPsychenottoattempttolookonhisface(seepp.34).SuchatabooiscommoninEuropeanfolktales,andcanbefoundinstoriesofmarriagetomagicalswanmaidens,withwhichtheoriginalLohengrinstorymayhavebeenconnected.LohengrinThisillustrationshowstheendofAct1ofWagner’sopera,Lohengrin.AtthispointLohengrinhasmysteriouslyarrivedandbeatenFriedrichincombat,clearingElsaofthedreadfulchargesmadeagainsther.SiegfriedandtheNibelungTreasureSiegfried(originallySigurd,seepp.72–73)isacentralfigureoftheGermanepicNibelungenlied(c.1203),andofWagner’sRingcycle.HegainedthecursedNibelungtreasure,andthenwooedKriemhild,thesisterofGunther,theBurgundianking.GunthergrantedSiegfriedherhandinreturnforhishelpinwinninghimtheamazonianqueenBrunhild.SiegfrieddefeatedandsubduedBrunhild,whothoughtitwasGunther,usinghiscloakofinvisibility.Butwhenthecouplesmarried,thequeensquarreled,andthetrickcametolight.Brunhild,vowingvengeance,enlistedthehelpofHagen,oneofGunther’svassals,whodiscoveredthattheinvulnerableSiegfriedhadonevulnerablespotonhisback(seep.72).HagentoldKriemhildtomarkSiegfried’scloakatthisspotasprotection,butthenkilledhim.Ingrief,BrunhildkilledherselfonSiegfried’sfuneralpyre.HagenthenstoletheNibelungtreasureandhiditintheRhine.Later,KriemhildmarriedEtzel(orAtli),kingoftheHuns,andtheyslewbothGuntherandHagen;buttotheend,evenathisdeath,Hagenrefusedtorevealwherehehadhiddenthetreasure.TheSwanKnightLohengrin,theSwanKnight,isshownhereastheveryimageofthe“parfitgentilknyght.”HeappearsinavisiontoElsa,andshebecomesconvincedthatheisherfuturehusbandandwillcometosaveher.
  • 73. 75• LohengrinElsa,HeiresstoBrabantAsheiresstotheDuchyofBrabant,ElsawasaPrincessoftheHolyRomanEmpire.Intheyear1204(whenWolframvonEschenbachwasprobablyatworkonParzival),HenryofBrabant,whohasnosons,receivedauthorityfromEmperorPhiliptonamehisdaughterMariaashisheir,thusgivingtopicalitytovonEschenbach’suseofLohengrinstory.SwanhelmLohengrin’shelmwithswan’swingsmarkshimasaknight,bothofthisworldandofthespiritworld.OrtrudOrtrud,wifeofFriedrichvonTelramund,isaninventionofWagneranddoesnotappearinthemedievalsources.TheevilantithesisofthepureElsa,itisshewhourgesFriedrichtodenouncethegirlandtauntsheratherweddingwithLohengrin’sanonymity.InWagner’sversionofthetale,FriedrichisElsa’sguardianandhisaccusationisthatshehasmurderedherbrotherGottfried,thetrueheirofBrabant,whohasdisappeared.Gottfriedhas,infact,beenturnedintoaswanbyOrtrud’smagic.HeisreleasedfromthespellattheendoftheoperabyLohengrin.DragonStatuesoftwosaintswatchovertheduelbetweenLohengrinandFriedrich.ThestatueofSt.GeorgekillingthedragonmayrefertoFriedrich’sheroicpast.Although,thwartedbytheself-willedElsa,Friedrich’ssenseofrejectionhascurdledintospite.Hewasoriginallyasoundchoiceasahusbandforher,havingprovedhisworthbyslayingadragonatStockholminSweden.WhenLohengrinarrivesatAntwerp,drawnbytheswan,hetellsElsathatifhemarriesher,shemustneveraskhisname.Shepromisesnevertoask—butaftersomeyears,duringwhichtheyhaveseveralchildren,hercuriositygetsthebetterofher.IntheoriginalLohengrinsheisshamedintoaskingbythemockeryoftheDuchessofCleves;inWagner’sopera,itisattheurgingofOrtrud,Friedrich’swife.TheGrailitselfhasdecreedthatwhenknightsgooutfromtheGrailkingdomtheymustdosoanonymously,andthatiftheiridentityisrevealedtheymustreturn.SoLohengrinmustgo“backtothekeepingoftheGrail,”leavingElsaonlyhissword,horn,andringasheirloomsforhischildren.DuellingswordThenotionthatguiltorinnocencecouldbedecidedinsinglecombatbyknightlychampionsiscommonplaceinmedievalromance.Suchaduelisnotameretrialofstrengthorskillfor,ashere,divinepowersmayaidtherighteous.HenrytheFowlerTheemperorHenrytheFowlerwasarealhistoricalfigure,thefirstnon-CarolingianruleroftheGermanReich(916-36).HiswifeMatildawasadescendantofWidekund,thepaganrulerwholedtheSaxonresistancetoCharlemagne,andalthoughafterherdeathshewasveneratedasaChristiansaint,shewasalsofearedforhersupposedsupernaturalpowers.FriedrichHere,Elsa’schallenger,Friedrich,isshownhumbledatthehandsofLohengrin.Inkeepingwithhisknightlycourtesy,Lohengrindidnottakehislife;insteadtheEmperorcondemnsFriedrichtobebeheaded.InWagner’sopera,LohengrinkillsFriedrichinalatercombat.ThrFairyMelusineT heMelusinelegendmirrorsthatofLohengrin.Melusinewassaidtobethe daughterofElinus,kingofScotland,andthefairyPressina.Whenshegrewup,shelearnedthatherfatherhadseenherbirthagainsthermother’swishes,sosheimprisonedhiminamountain.HermotherblamedherforthisandcondemnedhertobecomeaserpentbelowthewaisteverySaturday.Wanderingthroughthewoodsoneday,RaymonddePoitiers,CountofLusignan,sawherbathing.HefellinloveandshemarriedhimonconditionthathenevervisitedheronaSaturday.ButRaymond’sbrothersconvincedhimthatshesawaloveronSaturdays.Finallyhespiedonher,sawherserpent’scoils,andshedisappearedforever.
  • 74. TheStoryofVäinämöinen•76The Story of VäinämöinenVäinämöinen, hero of the Finnish epic, The Kalevala, was the first man on earth, and a singerand poet of magical powers. A great shaman, he was the main prophet and seer of the Finnishpeople, who cleared the land, planted barley, and spent his time singing songs of creation.Then, one day, a younger rival, Joukahainen, challenged him to a singing match. Angered atthe boy’s insolence, Väinämöinen sang him into a swamp and, despite his pleas, would notfree him until Joukahainen had promised him his sister Aino in marriage. Väinämöinen wasdelighted, but Aino was so greatly distressed that she drowned herself in the sea (see below).Väinämöinen then went in search of another wife. Along the way, his horse was shot downin revenge by Joukahainen, and he fell into the ocean. From there he was rescued by aneagle, which carried him to the Northland, home of his enemy, Louhi the sorceress.Väinämöinen could only gain his freedom by promising Louhi the Sampo, a mysterious magicobject (see opposite). Many battles, impossible tasks, and adventures later, Väinämöinensailed toward the setting sun, never to be seen by mortals again.VaïnämöinenVaïnämöinen, whom Ainocalls a “dodderer,” approachesher as she gathers twigs in theforest. “Don’t for anyone,young maid, except me,young maid, wear the beadsaround your neck, set thecross upon your breast, putyour head into a braid, bindyour hair with silk!” he cries.Aino, only girlAino’s name means “only,”from the Finnish wordAiona, meaning “only one ofits kind.” Here she rejectsVäinämöinen, wrenchesthe beads from her neck,and runs home weeping.Birch twigsWhen Väinämöinen approached her, Ainowas gathering birch twigs for the sauna. Itwas to the sauna that a hare brought thenews of her death to her mother.To Aino’s horror, hermother was pleased withthe match and did notunderstand her daughter’sgrief. She gave Ainowedding clothes woven byMoon-daughter andSun-daughter.Strange fishAino escapes as Väinämöinen stretches to claspher. Taunting him, she dives into the waves.Although he searched all the waters of Finland,Väinämöinen never caught Aino again.Aino-Mythby Akseli Gallen Kallela(1865–1931)This tryptych shows an earlyepisode in the Kalevala, compiledfrom an oral tradition of Finnishfolk songs by Elias Lönnrot(1802–84). On the left,Vaïnämöinen meets Aino whorejects him as her husband andruns home to find her mother infavor of the match. On the right,Aino sits naked by the sea beforeshe drowns herself in despair. Inthe central panel, Vaïnämöinen,who has gone fishing, catchesAino, who has become a mermaid.But she escapes and swims away.“Not for you or anyone do Iwear crosses upon my breast, tiemy hair with silk.”The Kalevala: The Drowned Maid“Old Väinämöinen was delighted to haveJoukahainen’s maid care for him in his old age.”The Kalevala: The Singing Match“. . . now would be the time for me to part from this world—the time to go to Death . . . down below the deep billows . . .”The Kalevala: The Drowned MaidOld ManVäinämöinen, the eternalbard, spent 700 years inhis mother’s womb, andwas already old by thetime he was born.
  • 75. TheStoryofVäinämöinen•77Contemplating deathAino reached the sea early in the morning of the thirdday. Heartbroken, she took off her clothes and swamout to a boulder in the distance. There she sat until“the boulder sank down and the maid with the rock.”In a source poem for thisstory, the girl, named Anni,hangs herself rather thanmarry her suitor. Aino’s deathby drowning is more subtleand less definitive. Shebecomes one with the sea,comparing its water to herblood, its fish to her flesh, itsdriftwood to her bones, andthe grasses on the shore toher hair. When her motherlearns of her fate, her tearscreate three new rivers.Forlorn fishermanWhen Väinämöinen learned of Aino’s death, his consolation was togo fishing on the sea. There he landed a beautiful “fishy fish I neversaw the like of!” He drew his knife to cut it up, but it flipped out ofthe boat and revealed itself to be Aino, turned into a mermaid.Sea VoyagerVäinämöinen was a great boatbuilder and sea voyager. Althoughhis mother was the Daughter ofthe Air, he was born in the seaand his name derives fromväinä—“river mouth”.Forging the Sampo by Akseli Gallen Kalela (1865–1931)Drowning MaidWhen Aino drowns she becomes a mermaid, “thewave-wife’s watery maid, Ahto’s peerless cbild.”As she drowns she identifies herself with the sea—the waters are her blood and the fish her flesh.The Magical Mill of PlentyStranded in the Northland, Väinämöinen needed the sorceress Louhi tohelp him home. She agreed to help and to give him her daughter, theMaid, as his bride if he forged for her the magical Sampo, the mill of plenty,out of a swan’s quill-tip, a barren cow’s milk, one barley grain, and the woolof one ewe. Unable to forge it himself, Väinämöinen asked Ilmarinen, thesmith who had forged the sky, to help him, promising him the Maid inreturn. Ilmarinen had to build a new forge to make the Sampo, and onlyafter great labor did he create this mill, which ground out grain on one side,salt on another, and money on the third. Delighted, Louhi hid the treasurebehind nine locks, and rooted it in the earth. But, despite his success,Illmarinen had to return home alone because the Maid refused to marryhim. Later, after she had been wooed by other men, including Väinämöinenand Lemminkäinen, a “wanton loverboy” who was killed but restored tolife by his mother, Ilmarinen did marry her. However, she died and,when attempts to forge another wife out of gold proved unsuccessful, hedecided to win back the Sampo. So he sailed north with Väinämöinen andLemminkäinen and stole it. Returning home, they were attacked by Louhiand the Sampo was lost in the sea. And, although the grain and moneyparts were broken, to this very day the Sampo continues to grind out salt.The Birth of VäinämöinenIn the beginning there was only seaand air. Weary of being alone,Ilmatar, the Daughter of the Air, laydown on the sea and conceived a child.But for 700 years, she could not givebirth. Eventually, a seabird, sent bythe sky god, Old Man, nested on herknee and laid six eggs of gold and oneof iron. Three hatched and the restsmashed into the sea. The bottom halfof the eggs became the earth, and theupper half became the heavens—theyolk was the sun, the white the moon,and the mottled shell became the starsand the clouds. Still Ilmatar did notgive birth, so she began to shape theworld, dividing land and sea. Her son,Väinämöinen, the first man, was born30 years later. He floated in the sea,reaching dry land eight years later.
  • 76. The Lord of the BeastsThe early Celtic god Cernunnos was the Lord of the Beasts, andis shown as such in various reliefs, most notably on the Gundestrupcauldron (see below). He was worshiped most strongly in centralFrance, and is often accompanied by ram-headed serpents. Hewears a chieftain’s torc around his neck and is sometimes shown withpurses filled with coins. His name means “The Horned One,” and heis evidently a god with nearly as complicated a role as the GreekDionysus (see pp. 58–59). He is predominantly a god of fertility andprosperity, but is also a god of the underworld. A coin found inHampshire seems to show him as a sun god, with a solar wheel between his horns.In northern Britain he was called Belatucadros, “The Fair Shining One,” whomthe Romans associated with the war god, Mars. Although there are no survivingstories about Cernunnos, he may survive in folk belief as Herne the Hunter, theantler-horned spectral rider who leads the ghostly Wild Hunt across the sky.Cross-legged postureCernunnos’ posture may show a Near-Easternorigin, or may simply reflect the habitual sittingposture of the Celts who, according to classicalauthors, sat on the ground. His position here isstrikingly similar to that of a horned Indian deityshown on a seal from Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan,who also sits cross-legged surrounded by animals;it is suggested that this Indian deity represents Shivain his role as Lord of the Beasts (see pp. 112–13).BullHorned bulls are often shown in association withCernunnos, as for instance on a stone relief fromRheims, France, in which Cernunnos holds asack from which coins flow down to a bull and astag. Many Irish myths center around theattempted thefts of supernatural bulls, mostnotably the Táin Bó Cuailnge, whose hero isCuchulain, son of the sun god Lugh. The twobulls whose battle is the climax of the Táin aresaid to have originally been divine swineherds—even after undergoing many transformations,they can still reason like human beings.VegetationCernunnos was primarilya god of nature, fertility,and abundance, and isassociated with fruit,corn, and vegetation,as well as animals.Torc of rankCernunnos both wears a torc around his neckand holds another one in his hand. A Celticchieftain would have worn a torc as a markof rank, and warriors were also rewardedwith torcs and armrings. Dio Cassius writesof the British queen Boudicca that “Shewore a great twisted golden necklace.”Gaulish warriors went naked into battle savefor their gold or bronze torcs and armrings.Cernunnos, the Horned GodThe horns of Cernunnos and and those ofthe stag are identical and show how thegod was regarded as part-man, part-beast; on one British relief his legs aredepicted as ram-headed snakes. It is alsopossible that Cernunnos was able toassume animal shape.The Gundestrup CauldronThis image showing a horned deity with wildanimals is a panel from the Gundestrup cauldron,which was found in Denmark, one of the Celticterritories, in 1891. It is made of silver-gilt embossedplates welded together and datesfrom the first or second century bce.Stag hornsDolphinThe significance of the dolphin and its rider in thisscene is not clear, but may suggest that Cernunnoshad sway over the beasts of the sea. A dolphin alsoappears on the scepter found in Willingham Fen,England, which shows an unidentified sky god.
  • 77. TheLordoftheBeasts•79“After February 6th many people both saw andheard a whole pack of huntsmen in full cry. Theystraddled black horses and black bucks while theirhounds were pitch black with staring hideouseyes. This was seen in the very deer park ofPeterborough town, and in all the woodstretching from that same spot as far asStamford. All through the night monks heardthem sounding and winding their horns.”The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 1127 ceRam-headed serpentCernunnos is often shown with serpents (bothwith and without ram heads) symbolic of deathand fertility. It has been suggested that theincident in the Irish Driving of Fraích’s Cattle,in which the hero Conall Cernach meets afierce serpent, reflects a memory of the godwhose name the hero bears. The horns are acurious addition to the serpents, and may showtheir close identification with the god himself.“At the stag’s call the animals came,as numerous as the stars in the sky . . .there were serpents and lions and all sortsof animals. He looked at them, and toldthem to go and eat, and they bowedtheir heads, and did him homageas vassals to their lord.”The Mabinogion, 14th centuryWild animalsThese two sparring animals arenot usually identified, but their pawsand manes suggest that they may belions. These animals incongruouslyappear in some Celtic stories, suchas the early Welsh “Lady of theFountain,” in which they areassociated with a divine herdsman.The stag’s horns worn by Cernunnos may have alingering echo in the horns worn by the dancers inthe Horn Dance, held for centuries each Septemberin the Staffordshire village of Abbots Bromley. Oneset of the reindeer horns worn by the dancers hasbeen carbon dated to around 1000 ce.BoarBoars had cult significance for the Celtsfrom early times. One Gaulish god is actuallycalled Moccus, “pig,” and a boar and serpentaccompany depictions of the north Britishgod Veteris. A boar was the first convert ofthe Irish St. Ciaran, followed by a fox, abadger, a wolf, and a stag. It has beensuggested that this shows the old mythologybeing assimilated into the Christian tradition.The Mother GoddessCeltic mythology abounds in strong women, and the worship ofa mother goddess seems to have been basic to Celtic culturefrom neolithic times. Many dedications are to the Matres, a triplemother goddess, shown with symbols of life and abundance,but also associated with death and war, as personified, forexample, by the triple Irish war goddess, the Morrigan. Thereare also single mother and fertility goddesses, such as the horsegoddess Epona, and the Celtic “Venus” who is modeled inmany clay figurines. The mother goddess is often coupled withthe tribal all-father, as in the pairing of the Gaulish Sucellus, “theGood Striker,” and his consort Nantosuelta, “the WindingRiver,” or, in Ireland, the Dagda and the Morrigan. Images ofthe Celtic mother goddess can still be seen on Christian churchesin Britain and Ireland, in the statues of women in a pose either ofsexual invitation or childbirth known as sheela-na-gigs.This fertility figure, known as the “Willendorf Venus,”was found at Willendorf, Germany, and dates from neolithic times.The Cauldron ofthe DagdaAnother important Celtic god wasthe Dis Pater (UnderworldFather), from whom, Julius Caesarsaid, “The Gauls all assert theirdescent . . . and say that it is theDruidic belief.” This all-fathergod, both creator and ruler of theunderworld, was known in Gaul asSucellus, but in Ireland as the Dagda.The Dagda was essentially a tribal godand the Irish warriors in the UlsterCycle swear “by the god to whom mytribe swear.” His ritual mate was eitherthe triple war goddess, the Morrigan,or Boann, the goddess of the riverBoyne. The Dagda was the chief ofthe ancestral Irish tribe known as theTuatha de Danann, “the people of thegoddess Danu.” They had four magictalismans: the stone of Fal, whichshrieked under a lawful king; the spearof Lugh, which ensured victory; thesword of Nuadha, from which nonecould escape; and the cauldron of theDagda, from which none would gounsatisfied. This cauldron is one ofthe origins of the Holy Grail (see pp.80–81). In the Welsh myth cycle of theMabinogion it appears as a cauldron ofregeneration, bringing dead warriorsto life. The Dagda had a club withthe same property: one end killed theliving, the other end revived the dead.
  • 78. TheHolyGrail•80The Holy GrailDepending on the source, the Holy Grail was either thedish that Christ used at the Last Supper, or the vessel usedto catch his blood at the Crucifixion. According to tradition it wasbrought to England, with the lance that was used to pierceChrist’s side, and left in the care of the Grail-keeper, or FisherKing. Legend tells how the wounding of the Fisher King’s father,usually referred to as the Maimed King, caused the land to becomebarren; he could only be cured and prosperity restored if a pureheartedknight found the Grail and asked the right questions. The Quest,which becomes a test of each knight’s purity and worth, is initiatedwhen a vision of the Grail appears to King Arthur and hisknights. Although Christian, this legend is built on a substructureof Celtic mythology, which abounds in horns of plenty andcauldrons (including one that restores life) and in quests inwhich the hero must venture into the otherworld towin some precious prize. It is, therefore, no surprisethat there are several versions of the legend. But theyall agree that Arthur never went on the Quest and thatonly one knight (in later versions, Sir Galahad) finallyproved worthy of finding this most precious object.Sir GalahadThe pure and saintly Galahadis the knight who finds theGrail, asks the relevantquestions and frees theland from misery. Hewas the son of SirLancelot by Elaine,the daughter of KingPelles, the FisherKing. Lancelot hadbeen made drunk,and led to believethat Elaine was histrue love, QueenGuinevere(see p. 85).Sir PercevalSir Perceval was the hero of several early Grailromances (see above), but in the later French Questof the Holy Grail, and Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, hemerely accompanies Sir Galahad, the purest of allthe knights, when he succeeds in the Quest.Sir Perceval dies shortly afterward.Sir BorsSir Bors was Sir Galahad’s other companion at the end of theQuest, and the only knight to survive and return to Camelot.He was Sir Galahad’s uncle, and had been granted a visionof the Grail years earlier when he prayed that the boy mightbecome as good a knight as his father, Sir Lancelot.AngelsWhen the knights approached the Grailchapel, they saw visions of angels, a signthat they were about to be granted anotherworldly experience.Sir Galahad has cast asidehis helmet and weapons toworship the Grail.In one version of the Grail legend, the Fisher King is namedas Bron. This connects him with Bran the Blessed, legendary king ofEngland in the Welsh Mabinogion. Bran possessed both a horn ofplenty and cauldron of rebirth. After he was wounded with a spear,his head was cut off and buried beneath the Tower of London, toprotect the land; but King Arthur dug it up to show thatBritain needed no other protection other than him.Fruitful EarthWhen the quest for the Grail came to anend, the land became fruitful once more.Sir Perceval, Early HeroIn the later versions of the Grail legend, Sir Galahad finds the Grail. But theearliest Grail hero was Sir Perceval. Broughtup by his mother in Wales, in ignorance ofthe world, Perceval is inspired by a group ofarmed knights, whom he takes for angels, toset out to seek his fortune. He comes to theGrail castle, where he fails, out of politeness,to ask the vital questions about the Grail andthe lance. Later, he reaches King Arthur’scourt, and an old woman curses him for thisfailure, which has caused the land to becomebarren. The second time Perceval goes tothe Grail castle, he asks the right questions:Whom does the Grail serve? and why doesthe lance drip blood? In one of the mostpoetic Grail narratives, the Perlesvaus orHigh Book of the Grail, Perceval takes theGrail on a magic boat and comes to the Isleof Plenty, where he is to be king. Beneaththe Isle of Plenty is the Isle of Need,whose people will be fed by the Grail.
  • 79. TheHolyGrail•81Holy SpearOne of the angels is shownholding a spear. A spearthat drips blood into theGrail is a feature ofmany Grail stories,and is identified withthe lance of themythical Longinus,which pierced Christ’sside on the cross.However, the conceptis probably derived from thelightning spear of the Irish sungod Lug. Galahad uses the bloodfrom this spear to cure the FisherKing’s father, the Maimed King,whose injuries have caused theland to become barren.The end of the QuestKneeling before the Grail, SirGalahad asks the ritual questions,“What is the Grail? Whom doesthe Grail serve?,” thus bringingthe quest to an end. The liliessurrounding Sir Galahad indicatehis pure and saintly character.The Holy GrailThe Holy Grail is variously described as a cup, aplate, and even as a stone. Its likely origin is in Celticstories of a horn of plenty. A platter that provided“whatever food one wished” was one of the WelshThirteen Treasures of Britain, and the Grail alsoprovided King Arthur’s knights with whateverfood and drink that they desired.Grail chapelThe Grail chapel is in the castle ofCorbenik belonging to the Fisher King,who is often called King Pelles. Corbenikcan be translated as the “Castle of theBlessed Horn” or the “Castle of the SacredHost.” Galahad, Perceval, and Bors arefed from the Grail by Christ himself.This 15th-century illumination shows the vision of the Grail appearing to Arthur and his knights theday that Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot and sits in the Siege Perilous.The Attainmentdesigned by Sir EdwardBurne-Jones (1833–98)Based on the legend as told by ThomasMalory in Morte d’Arthur, printed in1483, this tapestry shows Sir Galahad,Bors, and Perceval, before the Holy Grail.Son of Sir LancelotSir Galahad was the son of SirLancelot, who had come veryclose to ending the quest for theGrail. But, although Lancelotwas the bravest and mostskilful of King Arthur’sknights, he was judgedunworthy of success becauseof his adulterous love forQueen Guinevere (see p. 85).When he dared approach theGrail chapel, he fainted andremained as if dead for 24 days.The Round TableT he Round Table was a gift to King Arthur from his future father-in-law, King Leodegrance, whohad received it from Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon (see p. 84). Other sources say KingArthur himself had it made to prevent quarrels about seating arrangements. The Round Table hadseats for 150 knights, and when a knight proved worthy to sit at it, he found his name set miraculouslyon his chair in letters of gold by the magic of Merlin the wizard. Only one seat, the so-called SiegePerilous, would remain empty, until either Sir Perceval or Sir Galahad—depending on the source—arrived to claim it. In some versions it is by sitting in this danger seat that the Grail hero dooms theland, thereby requiring the Grail Quest to put things right. This recalls the Welsh story of Pryderi,nephew of Bran, who brings desolation on Dyfed by sitting on a perilous mound after a banquet.BedivereGaherisGarethGalahadLancelot GawainAgravainPercevalArthurBors
  • 80. TristanandIsolde•82TristanandIsoldeTristanwasayoungknightintheretinueofhisuncle,KingMarkofCornwall.Oneday,whenaswallowdroppedafairhairattheking’sfeet,hedeclaredthathemustmarryitsowner.TristanembarkedonthequestandarrivedinIreland,whereheslewamaraudingdragonandclaimedthehandofIsolde,theking’sdaughter,forshewasthegirlhesought.TakingherbacktoKingMark,fateintervenedwhenthepairaccidentallydrankalovepotionintendedforIsoldeandtheKing.Evenso,IsoldemarriedKingMark,keepingTristanasherlover.Endingsvary:inonetradition,KingMarkslaysTristanwhosedyingembracealsokillsIsolde,andthepairareburiedsidebyside(seebelow);anothertellsofTristan’sbanishmentandmarriagetoanotherIsolde,IsoldeoftheWhiteHands.AsTristanliesdying,havingsentforthefirstIsoldetocomeandhealhim,hiswifetellshimthattheshipsenttofetchherhasblacksails,indicatingthatshehasrefusedhisrequest.Atthis,hedies,heartbroken.ButIsoldedoesarrive,andshetoodiesofgrief.TristanWhenTristanarrivedathisuncle’scourthedidnotrevealhisidentity,butwaitedforanopportunitytoprovehimself.WhenKingMarkrefusedtopaytheIrishtheircustomarytribute,theysenttheirchampionMorholttoexactit,butTristanfoughtanddefeatedhim.MorholtWhenMorholtdied,hissister,Isolde’smother,foundinhisskullafragmentofTristan’ssword.IsoldelaterrecognizedTristanbyhisdamagedsword.Inthe13th-centuryFrenchproseTristan,thebasisforlaterversions,TristantakesMorholt’sseatattheRoundTable.LovePotionAfterTristanwonIsolde’shandforKingMark,theysetsailforCornwall.Isolde’smotherpreparedalovepotionforIsoldeandMark,andentrustedittoIsolde’smaid,Brangain,whomistakenlyservedittoTristan.He,unwittingly,shareditwithIsolde.KingMarkInthebackground,theartisthasplacedafigureofKingMarkshakinghisfistatthelovers.Buthedidnotdiscoverthetruthuntilafterhismarriage.EvenonhisweddingnightMarkwasdeceivedwhenIsolde’smaidBrangainslippedintohisbedinsteadofIsolde.Later,Isolde,desperatetopreservethesecret,triedtohaveBrangainkilled,butsherelentedwhenBrangainstillrefusedtobetrayher.TheveryfirstTristan-figurewasDrust,sonofTallorc,aPictishkingoftheeighthcentury,whosestory(partlypreservedintheIrish“WooingofEmer”)developedinIrish,Welsh,andBretonlegendintotheTristanstoryasweknowit.TheStoryofTristanandIsoldedesignedbyDanteGabrielRossetti(1828–82)Thesefourstained-glasswindowsrelatethestoryofTristan’sdefeatofMorholt,hisloveforIsolde,andhismadnessanddeath.ThekissTristanhasdrunkthepotionandkissesIsolde’shand—theirfateissealed.DiarmuidandGraniaT heloveofDiarmuidandGraniaisakeytaleintheIrishcycleofstoriesabouttheheroFinnMacCumhalandhiswarriorband,theFianna.ItsharesmanyfeatureswithTristanandIsolde,andWelshstorytellersevidentlyadaptedittofitinwiththelegendofthePict,Drust.Grania,theHighKingofIreland’sdaughter,wasbetrothedtoFinnbutattheweddingfellinlovewithhisnephewDiarmuidwhohadalovespotonhisforeheadthatmadehimirresistibletowomen.GraniaimposedmagicbondsonDiarmuidsothathefollowedher,andthetwoelopedandbecamelovers.Afteralongpursuit,FinnfoundDiarmuiddying,goredbyaboar.Finnhadthepowertosavehim,forasaboyhehadburnedhisthumbonthesalmonofknowledgeand,asaresult,couldmakeanyonewhodrankfromhishandsyoungandhealthyagain.Twicehefilledhishandswithwaterandletittrickleaway.ThethirdtimehecarriedthewatertoDiarmuidbutitwastoolate:hewasdead.UnlikeIsolde,thepassionateGraniadidnotdieforlove,butwasreconciledwithFinn.
  • 81. 83•TristanandIsoldeMadforLoveTristanandIsolde’sloveaffaircontinuedundertheinfluenceofthelovepotion,despiteKingMark’sjealoussuspicions.Onvariousoccasions,thepaironlyjustescapedbeingfoundout.EventuallyTristanwasbanishedtoBrittany,wherehemarriedIsoldeoftheWhiteHands.ButhecontinuedtolanguishforloveofIsolde.Therefore,disguisedoncemoreastheminstrelTantris,hewentbacktoCornwalland,pretendingtobemad,managedtoseeheragain;insomeversionsofthelegendhedoesgomad.JeeringmobJeeringshepherdsmockedTristaninhisapparentmadness,asheplayedhisharpintheforest,chasinghimandshouting“Lookatthefool!”SuchthreateninggroupsappearseveraltimesintheTristanlegends,moststrikinglyintheTristanofBeroul,inwhichKingMark,havingcondemnedIsoldetobeburnedatthestake,commutesthesentenceandhandsherovertoagroupofa100lepersinstead—afatefromwhichsheissavedbyTristan.JealouskingKingMarkhasjustslainTristan.MarkisanambiguousfigureintheTristanlegend—alovinghusband,butalsoajealousandattimesvindictiveone.BythetimeoftheFrenchproseTristan,thecharacterofKingMarkhasbecomeblackened.Nowavillain,andenemyofKingArthur,hemurdersTristanasheplayshisharptoIsolde,andshealsoperishes.FatedloversIsoldeclaspsthedyingTristan,anddiesheartbroken.ThefactthatTristanandIsoldehavenochoiceintheirpassion,beingboundtogetherbythelovepotion,isanimportantelementoftheirstory.Evenafterdeath,thepotionretaineditspower.Treessprangupfromtheirgravesandintertwined,andalthoughKingMarkcutthemdownthreetimes,theyalwaysgrewagain.TristanandIsoldearethearchetypalloversofmedievalromance.AlthoughthestoryhasbecomeentwinedwiththatofKingArthur(insomestoriesTristanbecomesaknightoftheRoundTable)itisessentiallyCelticinorigin,andtheactiontakesplaceinCornwallandIreland.ThismedievalmanuscriptilluminationshowsSirBertilak’swifetryingtoseduceSirGawain.TristanindisguiseTristanreturnedbrieflytoCornwalldisguisedasaminstrel,Tantris.Bypretendingtobemad,hewasabletoseeIsoldeandremindheroftheirlove.LikeKingMidas(seepp.40–41),KingMarkwassaidtohavetheearsofananimal.Onlyhisdwarfknew,butwhentheresponsibilitybecametoogreat,thedwarfconfidedthetruthtoahawthornbush:“KingMarkhashorse’sears.”Markmeans“horse”inallCelticlanguages.SirGawainandtheGreenKnightGawainandtheGreenKnightisapoemdatingfromc.1400,whichtellshowSirGawain’scourageandvirtueweretested.OneNewYear’sDay,ahugegreenknightchallengedGawain,oneofKingArthur’sknights,tocutoffhishead.WhenGawaindidsothegreenknightcalmlypickeditupandtoldhimtocometotheGreenChapelayearlater,toreceiveablowinreturn.Afteralongjourneytowardcertaindeath,GawainspentthreedaysatthecastleofSirBertilak,preparingtomeethisdoom.Duringthistime,SirBertilak’swifetried,andfailed,toseducehim.Butshedidsucceedinmakinghimacceptamagicgirdle—agiftthatheconcealedfromhishost.ThenextdayattheGreenChapel,thegreenknightinflictedaminorwoundwithhisax—arebukefortakingthegirdle.HethenrevealedhimselfasSirBertilak,giventhisterribleformbytheenchantressMorganleFay(seep.85)totestthehonorofKingArthur’sknights.SirGawain,convincedhehadfailed,leftinshame,buttheotherknightsoftheRoundTableworegreengirdlesfromthenoninhishonor.
  • 82. TheDeathofKingArthur•84The Death of King ArthurKing Arthur and his knights were the model for medieval chivalry—pure in heart and deed and defenders of the weak against the strong. Arthur lived in Camelot with hisqueen, Guinevere, surrounded by his noble knights. But even they had failings, and that ofSir Lancelot—to fall in love with Guinevere—was Arthur’s downfall. Told of the affair by SirAgravain, one of his knights, Arthur condemnedGuinevere to die. Lancelot rescued her, but indoing so, killed Agravain’s brothers Gareth andGaheris. Another brother, Sir Gawain (see p.83), insisted Arthur follow Lancelot to Franceto fight. Arthur left Mordred, his son by hishalf-sister Morgause, as regent. But Mordredturned traitor, and Arthur had to come back toface him at the battle of Camlann. Here, Arthurran him through; but Mordred, withsuperhuman effort, hauled himself the length ofthe lance, and dealt Arthur a fatal blow. Takenfrom the battle, and knowing his fate, Arthurasked Sir Bedivere to cast Excalibur, his magicalsword, into the lake where a hand arose to takeit. As Arthur breathed his last, a barge appearedto take him to the mystical isle of Avalon.Merlin the EnchanterMerlin was Arthur’s mentor, anda caster of spells and reader ofdreams. It was he who enabledArthur’s father, King UtherPendragon, to take on theappearance of the dukeof Cornwall and lie withCornwall’s wife Igraine.But he required theresulting child aspayment for his help.Lady of the lakeNimue, a lady of thelake, talks with Merlin.She was the reason Merlinwas not with Arthur in hislast troubles. Beguiled byher charm and beauty, Merlinhad told her his magicalsecrets, and she had thenused them to imprison himin a rock (or hawthorn tree).King Arthur, slain by his sonIt was Sir Mordred, Arthur’s son by his sister Morgause, who struck the king’s deathblow. Arthur had, at Merlin’s instigation, tried to kill Mordred as a baby—castingadrift all children born that May day. But when the ship foundered, Mordredalone was saved; for even King Arthur could not escape his own fate.A tombstone was raised to KingArthur, with the inscription, Hic iacetArthurus, rex quondam rexque futurus:“Here lies Arthur, the once and futureking.” Folk belief says that Arthur andhis knights lie asleep under a hill,ready to awaken and lead Britainin its hour of deepest need.DragonThe dragon onArthur’s breast isthe crest of his family,the Pendragons.The Sword in the StoneArthur grew up as the son of Sir Ector, a knight into whose family Merlin had placed him anonymously at birth.Several years later, King Uther Pendragon died leaving noheir, and the realm fell into disarray. But soon afterward,Merlin placed a sword thrust through an anvil into a stonein a London church, with the words “Whosoever pullethout this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king bornof all England.” Every English knight tried, and failed, toremove it, including Arthur’s brother, Sir Kay, who hadlost his own sword while traveling, and sent Arthur to findanother one. When Arthur returned with the magic sword,Kay recognized it at once, and falsely claimed his own rightto kingship. But Sir Ector was suspicious and uncovered thetruth, so Arthur became king, and Sir Kay his steward.
  • 83. TheDeathofKingArthur•85The isle of Avalon is thoughtby some to be Glastonbury. Butit is probably a Celtic isle of theblest, such as the land of youth,Tir na n’Og. In Tennyson’sThe Passing of Arthur, the islandlies in the west, the directionof the setting sun.Morgan le FayThe enchantress Morgan le Fay was a daughter of Igraine ofCornwall and, therefore, Arthur’s half-sister. Morgan le Fay isdepicted as Arthur’s implacable enemy, but she is also identified asone of the three queens who came to take him to the fairy realm ofAvalon. Her sister Morgause was married to King Lot of Orkney, bywhom she had four sons, all of whom became knights of the RoundTable: Gawain, Agravain,Gaheris, and Gareth.When Arthur wasdeclared king, KingLot declared war onhim, and Morgauseseduced him, givingbirth to her sonMordred asa result.Weeping queensThe dying king was attended by three weepingqueens, who accompanied him to the isle of Avalon.Only Morgan le Fay is named but they must all havebeen at home in the fairy realm as well as the humanone, as the name “le Fay” suggests.Magical bargeMagical boats appearmiraculously to carryArthurian knights fromplace to place, especiallyin the quest for theHoly Grail. This oneappears to take Arthurto the isle of Avalon.This detail from a French manuscript, L’ystoire Lancelot duLac shows Lancelot and Guinevere, and dates from c. 1470.The Holy GrailAlthough King Arthurhimself never took an activepart in the great quest for theHoly Grail, the artist heredepicts the Grail appearingto the dying king, with apromise either of renewedhealth or resurrection.Le Morte d’Arthur by James Archer (1824–1904)This picture shows Arthur’s last moments before he is taken to the isle of Avalon. It is based on the poem ThePassing of Arthur by Tennyson.The four women directed by Morgan Le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister, are tendingto him and other important elements of Arthur’s life, such as Merlin and the Holy Grail, are also included.Book ofspellsLancelot and GuinevereT he illicit love of Lancelot and Guinevere is one of thestrongest threads in Arthurian literature. A fine knight,with great integrity, Lancelot was bitterly ashamed of hislove and fought against it; even, at one point, going mad. Buttheir love was preordained and could not be resisted. As aresult, Lancelot could not approach the Holy Grail (seep. 80) and after his rescue of Guinevere, Arthur’s knightssplit into warring parties, giving Mordred the opportunityto betray and kill his father. After the battle of Camlann,Lancelot went back to England and saw Guinevere oncemore. She told him she was resolved to enter a convent,“for through our love that we have loved together is mymost noble lord slain” (Le Morte d’Arthur, Thomas Malory).Lancelot entered a hermitage, only leaving it when helearned in a vision that Guinevere was dying. By embracingthe religious life, Lancelot finally redeemed himself.
  • 84. EshutheTrickster•86Eshu statuetteThis wooden carving of Eshu is part of the costume ofan Eshu priest and is designed to be worn hooked overthe shoulder. It shows Eshu dressed as a priest with an Eshustatuette (like itself) over its left shoulder. Eshu’s contradictorynature is shown by the fact that the carving has two faces, thesecond one at the back of the phallic headdress (see above).One face looks into the spirit world, and the other into theworld of men. Also, each side of the carving is different.LightningThe decoration here mayrepresent lightning; thelightning bolt was Eshu’sgift to Shango, thethunder god.Eshu the TricksterEshu is the trickster god of the Yoruba people of West Africa. He acts as a messenger andmediator between gods and men, and he is a key player in divination, “the cornerstone of Yorubaculture,” a ritual that resolves and balances the conflicting forces of the world. Full of human contradictionsand a lover of mischief, Eshu looms larger in Yoruba myth than either the supreme god, Olodumare, orthe creator, Obatala who, with the other orisha, or benevolent gods, created dry land and human beings.The orisha, such as Shango, god of thunder (see below), Ogun, god of iron and war, and Ifa, god ofdivination, are opposed by the ajogun or malevolent gods, such as Iku (Death) and Arun (Disease). In theendless cosmic struggle between good and evil, one of Eshu’s key roles is to trick the ajogun. But like theNorse god Loki (see pp. 69), Eshu is related to the ajogun as well as the orisha, forming a link betweenthem; and like Loki, he has sometimes been wrongly identified with the Christian devil. The wrath of theajogun can be turned aside by sacrificing to Eshu, and his role might be best expressed as god of Fate.Tester of HumanityEshu tests human beings todiscover their true nature.If they resist temptation, herewards them; if they givein, he punishes them.A Shango staffDouble-headed ax—a symbol ofthunder“Eshu throws a stone todayAnd kills a bird yesterday”Yoruba PoemTransformationEshu can assume 256 different forms, and the mostconstant thing about him is his changeability. Hecan appear as a giant or as a dwarf; as a cheeky boyor as a wise old man. He can speak all languages.Shango, God of ThunderShango was the fourth king of Old Oyo, and onlylater became the god of thunder and lightning.His reign on earth ended when he was banished fromOyo by the superior power of the hero Gbonka.Shango hanged himself in the forest in shame, butrather than dying, he returned to his place in the sky.From here, he keeps an eye on humanity, and still sendshis thunderstorms. Shango had three wives: Oya, Oshun, andOba. Oya is the goddess of the Niger River, into which shestepped when Shango’s life on earth came to an end. Shangois often depicted with a ram’s head and horns. The sound ofthunder is said to be the sound of a ram bellowing. Because he isthought to punish the guilty by striking them with his thunderbolts,Shango is regarded as the god of justice and fair play. The double-headed ax shown here symbolizes the thunderbolt. It signifies“My strength cuts both ways,” meaning that no one is beyondthe reach of his authority. Devotees of Shango, possessed by thegod, hold a staff representing the god’s thunder-ax as they danceto the sound of the bata drum—said to have been invented byShango to terrify his opponents. A very powerful god, Shangononetheless is subordinate to Eshu in terms of authority.
  • 85. EshutheTrickster•87Two sides, one manEshu’s headdress differs on bothsides, indicating his changeability.In one story, Eshu breaks up a firmfriendship between two men bywearing a hat which is white onone side and black on the other,causing them to quarrelirreconcileably about thecolor of his hat.Medicine calabashesCalabash gourds appear on Eshu’sheaddress to show he hasmagical powers.“Death, Disease, Loss, Paralysis, BigTrouble,Curse, Imprisonment, AfflictionThey are all errand boys of Eshu.”Yoruba SayingEshu is said to haunt gatewaysand crossroads where he candivert humans from theirplanned course.Eshu figureEshu is holding a smallstatue of himself, much asone of his priests would do.His ability to introducechance and accident intolife means that he is widelyrespected. He is known forhelping people only if theyoffer him sacrifice, a ritualpresided over by a priest.Eshu’s eyesWhen Eshuis angry, heinternalizes hisemotions andweeps tears ofblood, or hitsa stone untilit bleeds.Eshu’s medicinal powers gave Shango the ability to spit lightning bolts. Oneday, Shango, wanting even more power, asked Eshu to make him a medicinethat would help him to terrify his enemies. He paid Eshu by sacrificing a goat,and his wife Oya went to collect the medicine. But the packet was so small thatshe doubted its strength and tasted it. Arriving home, she greeted Shango andfire suddenly flashed from her mouth. Furious, Shango tried to kill her withhis thunderstones, but she hid. When his anger cooled, he forgave her, andtried the medicine himself. So much flame leaped from his mouth that thewhole city of Oyo was burned to the ground.“Eshu turns right intowrong, wrong into right.”Yoruba Poem“Eshu supports onlyhe who offers sacrifice.”Yoruba SayingThe Wily Trickster, HareMany stories are told in Africa of animal trickster figures. One such is Hare (who in American folklore became BrerRabbit). One story tells how Hare owes money to both Elephantand Crocodile. To placate them he tells them that he will repaythem with interest—all they have to do is pull on a rope ofliana and they will recover a treasure chest. So withoutrealizing it, they engage in a tug-of-war, each unawarethat the other is pulling at the far end of the rope.Of course, in the meantime, Hare escapes. In onlyone story of the many that reveal his wily character,is he completely outwitted. This is the story of therace between Hare and Tortoise, in which Tortoise,instead of racing Hare, simply positions membersof his family along their circular racecourse, and sitswaiting to greet Hare at the finishing line.Anansi the SpiderAnansi the spider is a trickster figure belonging to the West African Ashanti tribe. Among the Zande tribe he is known as Ture. Oneof the best-known myths is the one in which Anansi asks the sky godOnyankopon (also called Nyame) if he can buy the stories for which heis famous. “What makes you think that you can buy my stories?” askedthe god. “I have refused them to the great and powerful and you are no-one important.” But Anansi insists on a price, so Onyankopon tells himto bring him Onini the python, Osebo the leopard, Mmoborothe hornet swarm, and Mmoatia the spirit—creaturesthat he considers impossible to catch. But Anansi, withhis wife’s help, traps them all, adding his own motherfor good measure! The sky god is so impressedthat he gives Anansi his stories with hisblessing. Since then, they have beencalled spider-stories. Anansi or Nancystories are now commonly told in theWest Indies as well as Ghana.This headpiecebelonged to the Yorubapeople in Nigeria and wasused in ceremonies toimpersonate the trickster Hare.Hare’s earsHareOrb-webspider
  • 86. TheCosmicSerpent•88TheCosmicSerpentTheFonpeopleofAfricatellhowthecosmicserpent,Aida-Hwedo,wasbroughtintobeingatthebeginningoftimebytheCreator,anandrogynousgodwithtwofaces:MawuthefemalemoonandLisa,themalesun.Aido-HwedohelpedwiththecreationbycarryingtheCreatorinhismouthastheworldwasshaped.Butwhentheworkwasdone,theCreatorsawthattherewastoomuchweightfortheearthtobear—toomanytrees,toomanymountains,toomanyelephants,everything.SoheaskedAido-Hwedotocoilhimselfintoacircleandlieunderneaththeoverburdenedearthlikeacarrying-pad.AsAido-Hwedodoesnotliketheheat,theCreatormadetheoceanforhimtolivein.ButtheearthchafesonAido-Hwedo,andwhenheshiftstoeasehimself,hecausesearthquakes.Aido-Hwedoeatsironbarsthatareforgedforhimbyredmonkeysthatlivebeneaththesea.Whentheironrunsout,hungerwilldrivehimtoeathisowntail.Thentheearthwithallitsburdenswilloverbalance,andtipintothesea.AsecondAido-Hwedo,therainbowserpent,livesintheskyandsendsthethunderboltsofthegodstoearth.Serpent’sheadAido-HwedocarriedtheCreatorinhismouthastheworldwasbeingshaped;thatiswhytheworldcurvesandwindsasitdoes.TheCreatorpressedtheearthtogetherandmadeitintotheshapeofagourd,andAido-Hwedothencoiledaroundit.Therearesaidtobe3,500snakecoilsabovetheearth,and3,500below.Aido-HwedoThenameAido-Hwedomeanseither“Youwerecreatedbeforetheearthandbeforethesky”or“Youarebothintheearthandinthesky.”Aido-Hwedointheseasupportstheearthandeverythingonit;Aido-Hwedo,therainbowserpentinthesky,sendsthunderboltstoearth.Thesecondcrackofthunder,therecoil,isthesoundofAido-Hwedo’stailwhippingbackafterflingingthebolttoearth.ThetwoAido-Hwedosaresometimesregardedastwins.PaintedWoodenBowlThispaintedwoodenbowlfromWestAfricashowstheworldandaman,woman,andsnake.TheFonbelievethatthefirstmanandwomancametoearthinthecompanyofAido-Hwedo,theCosmicSerpent.Aido-HwedoisalsosaidtohavehelpedtheCreatortoshapetheworldlikeagreatcalabashgourd.InthemythologyoftheFonsky-cult,theCreatorparent,Nana-Buluku,isreveredasthecreatoroftheworld,whichMawuthenshapedandpeopled.ButlikemanyAfricansupremegods,Nana-Bulukuisscarcelyrememberedtoday;thenameMawuhascometomean“God”inFon.Aftertheworldwasmade,theCreatorissaidtohavemadethefirstpeoplefromclayandwater.Hepreparedthemixtureinthesamewayaspreparingbuildingmaterialsforahouse.Aido-Hwedocanbeseenasapersonificationofcreativepower—apowerthatcanstillbeseenintherainbow,inwater,intheebbandflowofthesea,andinthedanceofthestars.Gu,theGodofIronGu,thegodofiron,isoneofthe14childrenofMawuand Lisa.Thefirstthreewere:DaZodji,thechiefoftheEarthpantheon;So,thechiefoftheThunderpantheon;Agbe,thechiefoftheSeapantheon.OtherkeyfiguresincludeAgè,thegodofthehunt,Djo,thegodoftheair,andLegba,thetricksterandmediator,theFonequivalentofEshu(seepp.86­–87).Guisthegodofironand,therefore,alsoofwar,weapons,andtools.AsagodofwarheissometimesknownasEbo.Guissaidtobemadeofironor,alternatively,tohaveabodyofstoneandaheadlikeanironsword.ThenotionthatGu’sheadwasshapedlikeaswordrelatestoamythinwhichLisaissentbyMawutouseGuasatooltocleartheforestsandteachmenhowtobuildsheltersanddigtheground.Eversince,thecutlassthatMawu-LisagavetomankindhasbeencalledAli-su-gbo-gu-kle,The-road-is-closed-and-Gu-opens-it.Butaswellasbeingpersonifiedinthefirstcutlass,Guisalsoregardedasanimportantdeity.Asthegodofsmiths,hehimselfisthoughtofasasmith,alwaysatworkinhisforge.Forthisreasonhisshrinesneverhavearoof,foriftheydid,theywouldburndown.AnironstatueofthegodGu
  • 87. 89• TheCosmicSerpentAido-HwedoThisbas-relieffromthepalaceofKingGhezoofDahomeyshowsAido-Hwedowithhistailinhismouth(seeabove).Aido-HwedoisalsoknownasDaAido-Hwedo.“Da”isthewordforsnakebutas“Da”Aido-Hwedoitmeansthelivingqualityofeverythingthatisflexible,sinuous,andmoist,suchastherainbow,smoke,theumbilicalcord,eventhenerves.“Da”alsomeanswealth,goodfortune,andalldesirablethingsthattendtoslipfromone’sgrasp.FirstpeopleAlthoughMawuissaidtohavecreatedhumankind,traditiontellsthatthefirstmanandwomancamedownfromthesky.Theybroughtwiththemalongwandandacalabashgourd.Itwasrainingthedaytheycamedown,anditcontinuedrainingfor17days,duringwhichtimetheydidnotspeak,butonlycalledoutthenameofthegodwhohadsentthemdowntoearth,“Segbo,Segbo,Segbo...!”SegboisanothernameforMawu.WorldlikeacalabashTheworldissaidtoberoundlikeacalabash,agourdwhich,whenempty,canbeusedasawaterpotorturnedintoarattle.Fontemplescontaincarvedanddecoratedcalabashesthathousesmallofferingstothegods.UnreachablehorizonTheplacewheretheseaandskymeetatthehorizonisthoughttobeanidealplace,inaccessibletohumans.Itissymbolizedbythejoinwheretheupperandlowerlipsofadividedcalabashmeet.WorshipingthegodsThefirstmanandwoman,whoaresometimesnamedAdanhuandYewa,establishedtheworshipoftheskygodsMawuandLisa,andofthelessergodstheirchildren,suchasGu,thegodofiron,andAgè,thegodofhunting.Aido-HwedoissaidtohaveexistedbeforeanyofthechildrenofMawu,“createdbywhoevercreatedtheworld.”AstatementthatAido-Hwedo“camewiththefirstmanandwomanoftheworld”mayalludetothesnake’sphallicquality,ortothewayinwhichsnakeshavecometobeidentifiedbytheFonpeoplewiththelifeforce.Insomestories,thesnaketeachesthefirstmanandwomanthemysteryofprocreation.TheOriginofDeathManyAfricanculturescontainamythexplainingtheoriginofdeath:theZulustellhowtheCreatorsentthechameleonUnwabutotellhumankindthatitwouldnotdie,andIntulo,thelizard,totellitthatitmust.Thechameleonlingeredontheway,butthelizardranstraightthere,sohismessagearrivedfirst.TheHottentotversiontellshowthemoonsentaninsecttosay,“...asIdie,anddyinglive,soshallthey.”Onthewaytodeliverthismessage,theinsectmetthehare.Onhearinghiscommission,theharesaidthatashewasthefasterrunner,hewouldgo.Whenhereachedtheearth,hetoldhumankindthatthemoon’smessagewas,“AsIdie,anddyingperish,soyoushalldieandcomewhollytoanend.”Whentheharereturnedandtoldthemoonwhathehadsaid,shewasangryandstruckhimonthenose.Sincethen,thehare’snosehasbeenslit;butpeoplestillbelievewhattheharetoldthem.
  • 88. TheVoodooGods•90WorshipersTheworshipersfollowingOgounhopetobepossessedbyaloa,inVoodoorites.Theloadisplacestheworshiper’ssoul,orgros-bon-ange(big-good-angel),whichwillsurvivemortaldeathtobecomeoneoflesInvisibles,thespirits.OgounOgoun,godofwar,fire,andpatronofironworkers,ridesuponhiswhitehorse.Inhisroleasamilitaryleader,Ogounhasalsoacquiredmanypoliticalskills;theconferenceofthegodsonthefutureofHaiticannotstartwithouthim.MountainoriginThePetrovoodoocult,whichgrewoutoftherageoftheslaveexperience,wasborninthehillsofHaiti,amongescapedslavesknownasMaroons.In1791aPetroceremony,ledbyaVoodoopriest,BoukmanDutty,sparkedanuprisingforindependence.GraveThecrossonthistombisthesymbolofBaronSamediandthecrossroadofdeath.AnofferingofrumtoGhedestandsatitsbase.AlltheVoodoogodsareidentifiedwithCatholicsaints:ErzuliewiththeVirginMary,LegbawithbothSt.PeterandLazarus,OgounwithSt.JamestheGreater,DamballahWedowithSt.Patrick,AzaccawithSt.Isidore,BaronSamediwithSt.Expedit,andsoon.THEVOODOOGODSINCLINETOWARDSTHEFATEOFHAITIbyCameauRameauThispaintingreflectsthewidespreadbeliefthatthegodsareinvolvedinthepoliticsoftheisland,oftenhelpingtoelectorgetridofapresident.ItshowsthemajordeitiesofRadaVoodoo(oneofthegentlerformsofVoodoo)incounciloverHaiti’sfuture.TheVoodooGodsTheVoodoogodsofHaiti(andtheircounterpartsintheCandombléandSanteríacultsofBrazilandCuba)derivefromWestAfricanmythologies,butarealsoshapedbyslaveryandtheinfluenceofCatholicismintheNewWorld.ThewordvoduistheAfricanFonwordfor“god”;andloa,meaningspirit,isaCongoleseword.Voodooisareligionwithmanyloas,whoarededicatedtoservinghumansaslongastheyarewelcomedandwellfed.Butthereislittleformalmythologyinthesenseofacreationnarrativeorheroicexploitsofthegods.Thisisbecausethegodsareactorsinthelivesoftheirworshipers—evenpossessingthemduringVoodoorites.Thusthecharactersandattributesofthegodsaslivingbeingsareseenasmoreimportantthantheirhistories.ThisisborneoutinthestoryofagangofGhedesbesiegingthepresidentialpalace(seeright),showingthatVoodoogodscanbeapotentpoliticalforceinshapingHaiti’spresentandfuture.ErzulieFredaErzulieFredaisoneoftheaspectsofErzulie(orEzili),thegoddessoflove.SheistheconsortofAgwé,thegodofthesea,butalsodallieswithDamballahWedo,thegodofthunder,withOgoun,thegodofwarandiron,andwithGhede(Gédé)inhisroleasGhedeNimbo,thegravedigger.Ghede,theLordofDeathandLifeGhede,themasteroftheunderworld,isalsoalordoflife,stronglyassociatedwitheroticactivityandwiththeprotectionofchildren.Heisagluttonforbothfoodanddrink,stuffingfoodintohismouthwithbothhandsandwashingitdownwithgreatswigsoffieryspirits.Yetheisalsoelegantandsophisticated.Hebrooksnoquestioningofhisauthority.Earlierthiscentury,acrowdofGhedes(Voodoopriestspossessedbyhisspirit)marchedonthepalaceofPresidentBornoinPort-au-Prince,singing“PapaGhedeisahandsomefellow.”EachwasdressedinGhede’sbestclothes:top-hatandtailcoat,smokedglasses,acigaretteorcigar,andacaneinhishand.Whentheyarrivedtheydemandedmoney,andthePresident,whoknewthatnomanisstrongerthanDeath,gaveittothem.Ghedewearsdarkglassesbecausehespendssomuchtimeundergroundthathiseyesaresensitivetothesun.Withhislefteye,hesurveystheentireuniverse;withhisrighteye,hekeepsaneyeonhisfood.AltarstoBaronSamedi,suchasthisone,alwaysshowacross,atleastoneskull,ahat,sunglasses,andrum.
  • 89. ChildThechildinErzulieFreda’sarmsalmostcertainlyrepresentsthetwinchildrenofVoodoomythology,theMarassa.TheyareofgreatimportancetoVoodoobeliefandritualandtheirfeast,onceheldatharvesttime,hasbeenassimilatedwithChristmas,inassociationwiththeChristchild.JarofspiritsThejarprobablycontainsfiercealcohol—perhapsGhede’sspecialdrinkofcruderumsteepedinhotspices,whichonlyhecanbeartoswallow.CockerelTheblackcockerelisabirdofsacrifice,waitingtobeslaughteredtoGhede.SnakeThesnaketwinedaroundLegba’swalkingstick,thesymbolofhisoldage,representsDamballahandAyidaWedo(Aido-Hwedo,seep.88),themaleandfemalerainbowsnakeswhoembracetheworld,acrosstheskyandbeneaththesea.CallingtheGodsThedesignsknownasveversareusedtocallthegodsandaredrawnontheearthinflour.AtthecentreofthecircleinaVoodooritualwouldbethepoteau-mitan,thecenter-postbywhichthegodsmaketheirentrancetotheceremony.TheshipsymbolstandsforAgwé,thegodoftheseaandformalconsortofErzulie.Agwéhimselfisgenerous,faithful,andstrong.PapaLegbaPapaLegba,thegodofthecrossroads,isdepictedasafrailoldman,althoughheiscelebratedasthelordoflife.AprayeratchildbirthbegsLegbato“opentheroadforme...donotletanyevilspiritsbarmypath.”Legbastraddlesalltheworlds,andallprayersmustpassthroughhim.BaronSamediGhede(Gédé),thegodofdeath,isshownhereinhismostauthoritativeroleasBaronSamedi.Hemustbekeptinformedofeverythinggoingoninlife.Jauntyandoftenirresponsible,BaronSamedihasaskullandcrossbonesonhishatincaseanyoneamusedoroffendedbyhisactionsforgetsthathislifeforcecomesfromhismasteryofdeath.ErzulieDantòErzulieisseenhereinherhappierguise,identifiedwithNotreDamedeGrace(OurLadyofGrace),sometimescalledLaSirène(theSiren).ShetakesthisformwhensheisAgwé’sconsortinthesea.Erzuliecanalsoappearasanoldwoman,GranErzulie,and,inarageofgriefanddespair,asErzulieGe-Rouge.AzaccaAzacca(orAzaka),dressedinpeasantclothingandcarryingastrawsatchel,isthepatronoffarmingandallagriculturalwork.HeprobablyderivesfromthecorncultureofHaiti’soriginalIndianpopulation,ratherthanfromAfricanroots.AzaccaissaidtobetheyoungerbrotherofGhede(seeabove);butwhereGhedeissophisticatedandworldly,Azaccaissimpleandnaive.CaneGhede’scaneisbothaphallicsymbol,appropriatetoagodwhoseactionsareoftenobscene,andabalanceonwhichthelordofdeathmayweighsouls.ErzulieFredaErzulieFredaisidentifiedherewiththeChristianVirginofSorrows.Sheoftencriesforthelossofheronlychild,byOgoun,agirlcalledUrsulewhodrowned.VoodoomythologyderivesmainlyfromtheFoninNigeria(seepp.88–89).Legba,Aido-Hwedo,Agbè,andGuretainmanyoftheirFoncharacteristics,althoughGuhastakenthenameoftheNagosgodofwar,Ogoun.TheharsherPetrorites,forgedinangerandadversityintheNewWorld,haveCongo,Bomba,andLimbaroots.ShipCirclePapaGodandGeneralDeathAHaitianfolktaletellshowPapaGodandGeneralDeathwerewalkingtogetheroneday.GeneralDeathpointed toahousefromwhichhehadtakenasoulthedaybefore,andanotherhewasduetotakeonefromthenextday.“Youalwaystake,whileIalwaysgive,”saidPapaGod.“Thatiswhypeoplepreferme.”ButGeneralDeathdidnotagree.SotheydecidedtoeachvisitthemanwhosesoulGeneralDeathwouldtakethenextday.WhenPapaGodaskedthemanforacupofwater,herefusedhim.“Ihavetowalktenmilestofetchwater,”themansaid.“ButIamPapaGod,”PapaGodreplied.“Istilldon’thaveanywaterforyou,butIwouldgivesometoGeneralDeath.”“Why?”askedPapaGod.“Becauseunlikeyou,whogivemenowaterwhileothersareswimminginit,GeneralDeathhasnofavorites.Allarealiketohim.”Andindeed,whenGeneralDeathasked,themanlethimdrinkhisfillofcoolclearwater.GeneralDeathwassopleasedthatnextday,hedidnotstopattheman’shouseafterall.
  • 90. Mountainway•92Holy PeopleEach figure represents one of the HolyPeople of cultivated plants. Each one is adifferent color to represent each plant, butotherwise they all wear a single eagleplume on their heads and turquoise andcoral earrings, bracelets,and armlets, which symbolizeChanging Woman andWhite Shell Woman(see above).Thezigzag patterns onthe gods’ arms andlegs symbolize lightningagainst black rain clouds(with the colors reversedon the north god foraesthetic reasons).MountainwayOne day, Reared-within-the-Mountain, ayoung Navajo man, was captured by someUte warriors. Shut in a lodge on the edge of aravine, he called on Talking God, grandfather ofthe gods, and god of the dawn and the eastern sky,to rescue him. So Talking God appeared throughthe lodge smokehole as a flash of lightning, andthey escaped. On his way home, the young manmet many animals and people, including the HolyPeople, who made him as beautiful as they wereand taught him the shamanistic secrets of theMountainway ceremonies. The sandpainting hereis part of these ceremonials and relates to theyoung man’s night in a cave with four bears. Thebears unrolled this picture for him on a sheet ofcloud. It shows the Holy People of cultivatedplants. When Reared-within-the-Mountain firstsaw the bears, they were lying by a fire in thesame positions as the Holy People in the picture.Eventually Reared-within-the-Mountain arrivedhome, but he hated its smell. So, after teachinghis family the secrets of Mountainway, hereturned to live with the Holy People.Cultivated plantsEach plant relates to the Holy Person to the left of it.Clockwise from top right (northeast), they are a tobaccoplant, a stalk of corn, a beanstalk, and a pumpkin vine.Their color reflects the body of the Holy Person, andtheir roots are in the sacred water in the center.Sunbeam raftsThe Holy People are standing onsunbeam rafts. They are placed in eachof the four cardinal directions, whichare crucial to the rituals of nearlyevery Native American culture.Bowl of waterA bowl of sacred water sits in thecenter of the painting, sprinkledover with special charcoal andsurrounded with sunbeam symbols.Skirts of sunlightEach Holy Person wears a skirt of red sunbeams.Mountainway songs invoke figures such as DaylightBoy and Daylight Girl in tracing the beautiful journeyfrom the house of dawn to the house of evening light.PlumeArmletsBraceletEarringsChanging WomanChanging Woman is the most important goddess of theNavajo. Daughter of Long Life Boy and Happiness Girl, shewas brought to life by Talking God from a turquoise image, andbrought up by First Man and First Woman. She is cruciallyinvolved in the creation, and is identified with the essence of life,growing old and becoming young again in an endless cycle ofregeneration. Her sister is White Shell Woman. ChangingWoman married (but did not live with) Sun God, who carries thesun on his back and hangs it on the west wall of his lodge eachnight. Their sons, the hero twins, Monster Slayer and Born-for-Water, aided by Spider Woman (see opposite), located theirfather, who helped them to make the earth safe by destroying themonsters that ruled it. But despite killing many evil creatures,they could never slay Old Age, Cold, and Hunger.
  • 91. Mountainway•93The bears in the story lay around a fire that wasburning without any wood—the flames were issuingfrom four colored pebbles. The bears taught Reared-within-the-Mountain how to make the bear kethawns,sticks to be sacrificed to the bear gods.Birds of dawnThese blue birds are known by the Navajo as the heralds of dawn andrelate to Talking God, the god of dawn and the eastern sky who makesa distinctive sound, “hu’hu’hu’hu,” as he approaches.Sacred ObjectsEach god holds three sacred objects—a charm, a rattle, and abasket. Rattles like these, painted black with a white design tosymbolize the rain cloud and lightning are used by the shamanin the Mountainway ceremony. The baskets, shaped in theancient sun-symbol of the swastika, are dressed witheagle plumes and face counterclockwise.PouchesEach god carries a pouch covered with porcupine quills. These poucheswere precious to the Navajo because they traded for them with nationssuch as the Ute. When Reared-within-the-Mountain makes his escape,Talking God instructs him to take with him two bags filled withembroideries, as well as tobacco, which he later offers to the bears.Rainbow GoddessTalking God bridged a canyon by breathingout a rainbow, which led Reared-within-the-Mountain to the bear cave. This representsRainbow Woman, goddess of the rainbow.Navajo Sand PaintingThis painting is a representation of the painting thatReared-within-the-Mountain saw in the bears’ home.Sand paintings such as this are sacred. Their Navajoname means “place where the gods come and go .”Mountainway is one of many Navajo chantways, ceremonies thatexpress myths through song, prayer, dance, ritual, and sand-painting,usually for healing purposes. The painting is created and destroyed aspart of the ritual and the sand transferred to the body of the personwho is being sung over. The sand painting here is one of the first to berecorded in a fixed medium, with the approval of the singer; someargue that to make a permanent record is to abuse its meaning.When Reared-within-the-Mountain left hishome to live with the Holy People, he told hisbrother, “You will never see me again—but whenthe showers pass and the thunder peals, you willsay, ‘There is the voice of my elder brother.”Navajo woven blanketRattleBasketCharmSpider WomanSpider Woman is an important figure in the mythologies of theAmerican Southwest and plays various roles, including assistingat the creation. In Navajo myth, she is a helpful old woman. Shehelps the hero twins, Monster Slayer and Born-for-Water, and it isshe who taught the Navajo how to weave. This is why Navajosmust never kill spiders, which also help humans by catchinginsects, flies, and mosquitos. Any child who kills a spider isexpected to have crooked second teeth, because Spider Womanis said to have needle-sharp teeth that slant backward to stopher prey from escaping. To encourage Navajo girls to becometireless weavers, spiders’ webs are rubbed on their arms. Andwhen a Navajo woman uses Spider Woman’s knowledge toweave a rug, she must weave a break into the pattern at theend, so that her soul can come out, back to her.
  • 92. LoneMan•94Buffalo dancersEight dancers dressed in buffalo skinsdanced outside the medicine lodge duringthe Okeepa, in order to ensure plentifulsupplies of buffalo for the coming year.The Evil SpiritO-ke-hée-de (the owl or Evil Spirit)appeared on the fourth day to disruptthe dance, creating alarm or fear.The medicine man pacifies him withthe sacred pipe—but he is finallyvanquished by one of the women. Thiswoman then takes the leadin the celebratory feast that night.She is said to hold the power ofcreation and of life anddeath, and be the motherof the buffaloes.The Buffalo Danceby George Catlin (1794-1872)This painting shows the Mandan Indians, who lived on theupper Missouri river, performing part of the annual Okeepaceremony. It celebrated the subsiding of the waters after thedeluge in the Mandan flood myth; Lone Man was theonly survivor, landing his Big Canoe on a highmountain to the west, where he still lives. If theceremony was not performed, the Mandanbelieved the flood would rise again todestroy the human race once more.Lone ManIn the beginning, says the NativeAmerican Mandan creation myth, theearth was covered in water, and darknessreigned. Then First Creator and Lone Man,walking on top of the waters, saw a mudhenand asked her what she ate and she fetchedthem a grain of sand. First Creator andLone Man took the sand and from it theymade the land. First Creator made the hills,and the animals that lived there, and LoneMan the flat country. They both thoughtthat their own creation was the best, butagreed that time would tell. Then LoneMan created people and decided to live withthem to protect and guide them. So hebecame a corncob, and a young Mandan girlate him and became his mother. Lone Mangrew up pure and good and traveled in amagic canoe with 12 men, performingmiracles. When it was time for him to leave,he told the people to set up a cedar trunkpainted red in the center of the village, andto burn incense and offer it sacrifices. Hesaid, “This cedar is my body, which I leavewith you as a protection from all harm.”He told them to build a barricade aroundthe cedar as a protection—if the water roseagain, it would rise no higher than the firsthoop, and then subside.Medicine lodgeThe medicine lodge was sacredand only used during theOkeepa ceremony. It was thelargest lodge in the village.Part of the Okeepa ceremony was to initiate boys intomanhood. While the tribe danced outside, the initiatesstayed in the medicine lodge, neither eating nor sleeping.On the fourth day, they underwent physical tortures.Almost every aspect of the Okeepa incorporated the Mandan belief that theylived at the very center of the world. Their own name for themselves was simplyNumakaki —“people.” In the Bel-lohk-na-pick, the Buffalo Dance, the eight buffalodancers separated into four pairs, dancing to the north, east, south, and west.Willow boughsEach dancer carries willowboughs on his back to representthe willow twig brought backto Lone Man by a dove as thewaters began to subside. Theceremony took place when thewillow leaves were full grownalong the river bank.Morning raysFour dancers, each bearing astaff and a rattle, naked exceptfor a kilt and headdress ofeagles’ quills and ermine,accompany the four pairs ofbuffalo dancers. Two, paintedred with white stripes, werecalled the Morning Rays.Turtle drumsFour sacred drumsin the shape ofturtles were beatenduring the dance byfour Mandan elders.They represent thefour turtles thatsupport the earth.Evil Spirit’s wand isbroken by the womanEvil Spirit’sbody is coveredin black grease.In the Okeepaceremony thewoman throwsyellow dirt athim and it sticks.SacrificesThe Mandansmade sacrifices ofcostly cloth to theGreat Spirit. Fourof these stood onpoles outside themedicine lodge.They may representspirits of the fourcardinal points.
  • 93. This Cheyenne shield shows the turtle in the “earth-diver”role taken by the mudhen in the Mandan creation myth.Earth lodgesThe Mandan lived in earth lodgesconsisting of a timber frame thatched withwillow boughs, covered with a foot or twoof clay and gravel. The roofs became sohard that the inhabitants—20 or 30 perlodge—could sit out on top of them.The Okeepa was an annual ceremony lasting four days. It began with Lone Man enteringthe village and smoking a pipe to the initiation of young men and calling to the Great Spirit togive them the strength to succeed. Outside, the buffalo dance, shown above, was performed toask the Great Spirit to continue his influence in sending buffaloes as food every year. It waslast performed in 1836/37 just before a smallpox outbreak wiped out almost the entire tribe.Big canoeThis barrel-shaped object made of planks and hoops stoodin the center of the village. It was the shrine containing thecedar post that Lone Man left behind in his place. In thecontext of the Okeepa ceremony, it represented the arkof the Mandan flood myth, which by the 1830s hadincorporated various elements of the biblical flood.The nightTwo of the fourindividual dancers,painted jet black withcharcoal and grease,and covered with whitespots called stars, werecalled the Night.Crying tothe Great SpiritDuring the dance the chiefmedicine man leans againstthe Big Canoe, with thesacred pipe in his hand,crying to the Great Spirit forhelp in the coming year.AntelopesThe Mandan boys were painted yellow to play thepart of antelopes in the dance. They alternately chasedand were chased by adult men dressed as bald eagles,wolves, swans, rattlesnakes, vultures, and beavers.The adult dancers each sang their own “medicine songs”—sacred and personal song-poems. The words were simple anddirect. A song collected by Frances Densmore from WoundedFace of the Black Mouth Society of the Mandan translatesin its entirety: “earth always endures.”Grizzly bearsTwo men dressed as grizzly bearssit by the Big Canoe, threateningto devour anyone who comesnear them, and generallydisrupting the ceremony.Women bring them dishesof meat to appease them.The Legend of MadocT he echoes of Christianity in Mandan mythologyand culture, and the similarity of the circularMandan “bull boat” to the Welsh coracle, struck GeorgeCatlin who lived among the Mandan. He suggested thatthe Mandan were descended from a lost expedition ofWelshmen under the command of Madoc, a princewho sailed from North Wales to America in 1170 andfounded a colony there. However, the Madoc legend isdubious and seems to have been a Tudor construct toconfound Spanish claims to the Americas. Nonetheless,it has led to 15 Native American languages beingidentified as “Welsh,” of which Mandan has remainedthe most popular choice. Indeed, the story has begunto infiltrate the beliefs of the few Mandan that remain,some of whom say that Lone Man was a white man whobrought the Mandan people across a great water in hisBig Canoe and landed them on the Gulf of Mexico.Turtle MythThe four sacred drums of the Mandan were buffaloskins sewed together in the shape of large turtles.They were filled with water said to have been gatheredfrom the four corners of the earth as the flood subsided.The Mandan believed that the world rested on fourturtles. The world flooded when each of these turtlesmade it rain for ten days each, and the waters coveredthe earth. Whether this flood happened before or afterLone Man and First Creator made this earth is notclear. Originally, the Mandan flood myth was set afterthe emergence from the world below, and does not seemto have involved Lone Man, whose story seems to havebeen influenced by that of Noah as well as Christ.Myths of a great flood are common among NativeAmerican peoples, as is the idea that the worldrests on the back of either one or four turtles.
  • 94. MythsoftheArcticCircle•96The girl whomarried a whaleA Chukchi girl married awhale who carried her farfrom home. But her brotherfollowed her, persuaded her tosing her husband to sleep, andstole her back. The whalefollowed, but when it came to shorethe people speared it to death.However, the wife gave birth to alittle whale. First she kept him in abowl of water, then in a lake, and finallyshe freed him into the sea. There, he ledother whales in for the people to hunt,until he himself was killed by a stranger.Endless forestOn the other side ofthe sea, the Chukchisay that there is anendless forest. Thespirits of this forestcome to trade withhumans, but theirpresence is onlyindicated by the foxor beaver skinsthat they carry; they aremere shadows. Theylike to be paid intobacco for the skins.Gull-maidenA Chukchi lad stole the clothes lefton the shore by a bathinggull-maiden, and married her. Theyhad two children, but the gull-wifehankered for the freedom of the air.When a flock of gulls flew by, theyplucked their wings and stuck feathers onthe wife and children, and they flewaway. But the husband traveled to thecountry of the birds and won his wife back. Heanointed her with reindeer blood (themost important rite of Chukchi marriage) and sheceased to be a bird and became truly human.The harsh climate of the Arctic has forged an equallyharsh mythology, in which such key figures as Sedna, mistressof the sea beasts (see below), enact stories of primal violence.The sealskin painting shown here depicts this disturbing worldin which spirits and humans share the same air, and there is aconstant lurking awareness that any creature may be about tochange itself into another. To contain the whole world in asealskin combines a sense of confinement with its opposite—a feeling of boundless space and freedom. Just such acontradiction is found in the widespread Inuit myth ofthe two couples who set out to discover the fullextent of the world. They took their sledsand went in oppositedirections, traveling foryears across the ice. Finally,having grown old along theway, they came full circle,back to where they first started.“The world is big!” said thefirst man. “Even bigger thanwe thought!” said the second.And with that they die.IglooInuits are shown building an igloo out of blocks of ice.The myth of the Inuit who traveled round the world (seeabove) shows that the world is round, like an igloo. Theneighboring Chukchi live in tents.ARCTIC COSMOSThis sealskin was painted in the19th century and is thought tohave been produced by the ArcticChukchi (Luorovetlan people).However, its depiction of the Arcticcosmos includes other groups withwhom the Chukchi share physical,cultural, and linguistic affinities—their Siberian neighbors theKoryak, and the Inuit, who in theBering Strait are more properlytermed Yup’ik.Sedna, Inuit goddess of the seaSedna was an Inuit girl who encountered her father’s wrath when sherefused all human suitors, married a dog, and gave birth to puppies.Horrified, her father threw her into the sea and cut off her fingers whenshe tried to climb back into his boat. So Sedna sank to the seabed whereshe became a powerful spirit, and her severed fingers became the firstseals. As mistress of the sea, Sedna is vital to human survival. But herfather’s harsh treatment has made her capricious and if not constantlyplacated, she shuts the sea beasts away and humankind starves. Whenthis happens, a shaman must make the terrifying trip to her house, faceits terrible guardians, and appeal to Sedna face-to-face. Here, becauseall the sins of humankind fall into the ocean and collect in her hair asgrease and grime, he must clean Sedna’s hair and dress it in two thickbraids because, without fingers, she cannot clean it herself. Then thegrateful goddess frees the beasts, and humankind can eat again.Myths of the Arctic CircleSedna by Germaine ArnaktauyokSedna sinks to the ocean-bottom, her severed fingers becoming the first seals.
  • 95. Shore spiritsAuas are little female spirits that live by the sea shore. Theywear a pointed skin hood on their heads, and are bright, cheerful,and helpful to men. They are no taller than the length of a man’s arm.SednaSedna, Inuit mistress of the sea beasts (whose story is alsoknown to the Chukchi), is depicted with her matted hair,holding two of her puppy children. The master of the landanimals is Igaluk (or Tarqeq), the moon man.The moon’s wifeThe moon’s wife is shown with her facehalf-black with soot. There are manyversions of her story: the Chukchi tell howMoon rescued her from an abusive husband;in another version, she was deserted and left tostarve. Crawling in search of food, she came toMoon’s house, and became his wife. After shebroke a taboo, she was sent back to earth.The Sun’s wifeA Chukchi woman married the sun, but a black beetlepersuaded her to swap clothes, and the sun thoughtthe beetle was his wife and took her to his home.The real wife gave birth to a son, who soughtout his father, and the sun killed the beetle,and took back his true wife. When shebecame homesick, he extended a rayof sun to earth so that they coulddescend and visit her father.The Inuit think of the sunas female, and a widespreadmyth tells how she was onceraped by her brother the moon.Hunting sealTwo Chukchi cousins lived by the sea.When one lost his hunting skills, the otherleft him to die on an island. After three days, avoice told him to take courage and he saw awhale beached on the shore—enough food for a year.A year later, the wicked cousin returned, calling, “Cousin,are you there?” but there was no reply. Seeing the whalebones, the wicked cousin got out of his canoe to look. Thefirst cousin leapt in and rowed away. When he returneda year later and saw his cousin’s skeleton, he kicked theskull and said, “You got what you deserved.”Raven creates the worldOne Chukchi myth tells how Raven madethe land from his feces and the water fromhis urine. He chopped up trees and made theanimals and sea beasts from the pieces.Kayak TravelersBoth Chukchi and Inuit myth tell how there is only oneentrance to the earth through the high mountains that surroundit. People came into the world through this opening. Later, travelersin a kayak found the entrance, but the cliffs closed together and brokeoff one end of the kayak—so that now kayaks only have one pointed end.RavenRaven is regarded by theChukchi, Koryak, andInuit, as the creator ofall life and bringer oflight to the world.ArcherThe Chukchi say that the Belt ofOrion is the crooked back of thearcher Rulte’nnin. It becamebent after his wife beat him.The Chukchi CreationIn the beginning there were no people—justthe Creator, an old man, and Tangen, a youngboy. They wrestled until they were tired andthen Tangen said, “Let’s create people.” “Verywell,” said the Creator. So they took handfulsof earth, blew on them, and made the grass-haired people. But they could not speak, soTangen wrote for two years and gave them thewritings—but still they could not speak, and theCreator only laughed. So Tangen wrote for threeyears, and three years more, but still they couldnot speak. Then the Creator turned himself intoa raven and cawed at the people, “Krya, Krya,”and they cawed back, “Krya, Krya,” and thenthey could speak. The Creator reported back inraven form to the Divine Being in heaven, andthe Divine Being sent reindeer to feedthe people. Before the Divine Beingcould put the sun into the sky, theCreator/Raven stole the sun and hid itin his mouth. He kept on denying that hehad it, saying with a muffled voice, “Searchme.” When Tangen’s messengers searched him,they tickled him so thoroughly he couldn’t stophimself from laughing. At that, the Sun escapedfrom his mouth into the sky and lit up the world.
  • 96. LegendsofQuetzalcoatl•98LegendsofQuetzalcoatlQuetzalcoatlwasoneofthemostimportantAztecgods—acreatorgod,alsocreditedwiththegiftofcorntomenandtheteachingofmanyartsandsciences,includingmeasuringtime.Alsogodoftheair,heactedasroadsweeperforthelife-givingraingods.Inthisguise,inwhichheiscalledEhecatl(meaningWind),hedescendedtoMictlan,theunderworld,tostealthebonesofmankindfromhisfatherMictlantecuhtli,thegodofdeath(seebelow).However,ashefled,hedroppedthebones,andaquailnibbledthem.Asaresult,whenQuetzalcoatlscatteredhisownblooduponthemtocreatehumanbeings,thenewraceofrevivifiedmenwereofdifferentsizesanddoomedtodieagain.Quetzalcoatl’sgreatrivalwashisbrotherTezcatlipoca,awargod,whomanagedtogetridofQuetzalcoatlbytrickinghimintodrinkingtheintoxicatingpulqueandsleeping,whiledrunk,withhissisterQuetzalpetlatl.Ashamed,Quetzalcoatlsailedawaytotheeastonaraftofserpents,promisingtoreturn.In1519,whentheSpaniardHernandoCortéslandedinMexicofromtheeast,theAztecsbelievedhimtobeQuetzalcoatlreturned.WindsignThisisthedaysignforwindandresemblesQuetzalcoatlinhisguiseasthewindgod.ConicalhatQuetzalcoatl’sconicalhat,thecopilli,isoneofhismostdistinguishingfeaturesandhistempleinthesacredprecinctofTenochtlicanhadaconicalroof,reminiscentofhisheaddress.OneofthereasonswhyCortéswastakentobeQuetzalcoatlwasthehigh-crownedhatthathewore.GodofthewindQuetzalcoatlisseenhereinhischaracterasEhecatl,thewindgod.Hewearsapectoralofshapedconchshell,knownasthe“windjewel,”andaredbird-beakedmask(basedonaduck’sbeak)withfierceincisors.TheAztecsbelievedthatthesunonlymovedbecauseitwasblownbyQuetzalcoatl’sbreath.QuetzalcoatlisknownastheFeatheredorPlumedSerpent,becausehewashalfrattlesnakeandhalfquetzalbird.Quetzalmeans“birdofparadise”andCoatlmeans“serpent.”Quetzalcoatlwasalsoassociatedwiththesun.GodandkingInsomedocumentsQuetzalcoatlisdescribedsolelyasagod,butothersrefertoahumanincarnationaskingofthelegendarycityofTollan.AlloftheAzteckingsmodeledthemselvesonhim.GodofdeathMictlantecuhtli,shownasaskeleton,iscoveredinbloodandwearsaneyeball-necklace.Every260days,amanrepresentingthegodwassacrificedatnightinthetempleofTlalxicco,“thenaveloftheworld.”Thevictimmayhavethenbeeneatenbythepriests,inanactofcommunion.RitualStaffTheritualstaffwithbellsismadeofboneandknownasachicahuaztli.GlyphsTheglyphsrunningdownthesidesofthisimageareacalendarforthe260-dayritualyear,thetonalpohuallior“bookofthedays,”whichwasbrokenupinto20x13-dayperiods.ThisritualcalendarexpressedtheAztecunderstandingofthecomplexinterrelationoftheworldofmenandtheworldofthegods.Itranalongsidea365-daysolarcalendar(notadjustedforleapyears),andthetwocalendarscoincidedonceevery52years,anoccasionformuchrejoicing.AztecGoddessesT heAztecsworshipedanumberofimportantgoddesses.CoyolxauhquitakesaparticularlyactiveroleinAztecmythologyastheeviloldersisterofHuitzilopochtli,thesupremegodwhowasassociatedwiththesunandwithfire.WhenCoyolxauhquidiscoveredthathermotherCoatlicuewaspregnant,sheslewherinafitofjealousy,withtheaidofher400brothers.Inherdeaththroes,CoatlicuegavebirthtoHuitzilopochtli,andthesupremegod,whoemergedfullyarmed,dismemberedhistreacheroussister.ThisprimalbattleprovidedthemythiccharterforAztechumansacrifice.Othergoddesses,suchasXochiquetzal,thegoddessoflovewhowasalwaysdepictedintheblossomofyouthfulattraction,werelessfierce.AlthoughXochiquetzalwasalsoassociatedwithpregnancyandchildbirth,shesharedthisrolewithChalchiuhtlicue,thegoddessoflakesandstreams,whoisoftendepictedwithtwochildrenissuinginastreamfrombeneathherjadeskirt.OtherimportantgoddessesincludeChicomecoatl,thegoddessofcorn,andTlatzeotl,thegoddessofpurificationandcuring.
  • 97. 99• LegendsofQuetzalcoatlDeathThisisthedaysignforDeath,andresemblesMictantlecuhtli,thegodofdeath.SkullThegodsaresupportedbyaschematicskull,whichmaybesymbolicoftheearth.Thisdepictionofthetwoopposedgodsshowsthemalmostastwoaspectsofthesameperson.Asenseofthedualityofopposites(lifeanddeath,dayandnight)iscentraltoMesoamericanreligiousthought.ThehighestheavenswereruledbyOmeteotl,thegodofduality,whowasbothmaleandfemale.QuetzalcoatlwasaccompaniedonhisdescentintoMictlanbyhis“double,”thecoyotegodXolotl,whichmeanstwin.DeerThedeeristhethirdperiodof13daysintheAzteccalendar.Startingatalligator(below),thecalendarisreadalligator,jaguar(opposite),deer,flower,reed,death,rain,grass,serpent,flint,monkey,lizard,movement,dog,house,vulture,water,wind,eagle,rabbit.SacrificialvictimThishieroglyph,chalcíhuitl,wasusedtomarkasacrificialvictim,oraplaceofsacrifice.Quetzalcoatl’sHatInhisroleasthewindgodEhecatl,Quetzalcoatlmaywearahatwithajaguarskindesignor,ashere,onedividedintoblackandredsectionswithaneyeinthemiddle;thebackplumesalsohaveanextrapairofeyes.Thesteppeddesignisthoughttorepresentthemovementofthewind.Inthehatbandaretheinstrumentsofbloodletting—aboneknifeandamagueyplantspine.BloodspotsTheAztecsbelievedtheyowedablood-debttothegodsbecausetheyhaddrawntheirownbloodtogeneratethenewraceofhumans.Theyrepaidthegodswiththeirownblood.DaydiscsThese12dotsrepresentthesecondtothirteenthdaysofeach“month.”Thealligatorontherightisthefirstdayofthefirst“month,”thefirstdotisthesecondday,theseconddotthethirddayandsoforth.Thefirstimageontheleftsideisthefirstdayofthenext“month”andthedotsarethenreadlefttorighttoarriveatthedeer,thenrighttolefttotheflowerandsoontotherabbitinthetopleft-handcorner.“QuetzalcoatlcametothekingdomoftheDead,totheLordandLadyoftheKingdomoftheDead.Hesaid,‘BeholdwhyIhavecome.Youareconcealingthepreciousbones.Ihavecometocollectthem’”LegendoftheSunsAZTECBOOKOFSECRETSThisillustrationfromanAztecritualscreenfoldmanuscript,nowknownastheCodexBorgia,depictsQuetzalcoatlinhisguiseasEhecatl,thewindgod,andMictlantecuhtli,thegodofdeath,standingback-to-backonanupturnedskull.ThemanusciptwouldhavebeenusedbyanAztecpriestfordivinationofthefuture;manypages,includingthisone,incorporatecalendars.EyesSpineKnifeEyeTlaloc,theRainGodT lalocwastheAztecgodofrainandlightning.Heisdistinguishedbyhis“goggleeyes”andjaguarteeth.HisjaguarheritagederivesfromtheOlmeccivilization,whoseraingodwasdepictedasawere-jaguar.SomescholarsbelievethatthebasicOlmeccreationmythtoldofthecopulationofawomanandajaguar,makingtheOlmecs“thepeopleofthejaguar.”Tlalocwasknownas“theprovider,”fortherainthatmadethecorngrowwashisgift.Hewastheruleroftheweatherandmountainspirits.Inthisstonecarving,Tlalocisshownupturningoneofhisninerainbuckets.
  • 98. TheHeroTwins•100The Hero TwinsThe Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, were Central AmericanMayan gods venerated for ridding the world of the earth giants and othermonsters. In the story below, they rescue their father and uncle from Xibalba,the gloomy underworld. Years before they were born, their father HunHunahpu and uncle Vucub Hunahpu were challenged by One Death andSeven Death, the lords of Xibalba, to a game of tlachtli, the Mayan ritual ballgame. But they were tricked, sacrificed, and buried under the ballcourt. Whenthe twins grew up and learned of their father’s fate, they traveled into the depths ofXibalba past many dangers to wreak vengeance. When they arrived, they defeatedthe lords of Xibalba at tlachtliand were thrown into theHouse of Lances where theywere stabbed at by demons.They escaped, but were thenshut up in the Houses of Cold,Jaguars, Fire, and Bats.Surviving all these, the twinsboasted that they wereimmortal and, to prove it, weresacrificed and had their bonesground like flour. When theycame back to life, their enemieswere so impressed that theywished to experience death andrebirth themselves. So the twinskilled them but, as planned, didnot revive them. Instead theybrought their father and uncleback to life and went home.Water-lily JaguarWater-lily Jaguars drooling blood form two corners of thetemple; the other two (one is hidden) show Xocfish Monsters.The Water-lily Jaguar is a form of the underworld JaguarGod, who represents the sun in the underworld.AxHunahpu is shown in act of sacrificing a manto demonstrate his powers. He is wieldingthe sacrificial ax of Chac-Xib-Chac, a godassociated with the sacrificial death dance.Sacrificial victimThe man’s role as ritual victim isproclaimed by the akbal, “darkness,”signs on his back and leg.SerpentA Vision Serpent emergesfrom the victim towardXbalanque. It is a symbolof rebirth and generatedby bloodletting. VisionSerpents are often shownrearing up from a bloodoffering, belching outgods and ancestors.XbalanqueXbalanque, like hisbrother, is disguised,but his identity is madeclear by the jaguar pawon the nose of his mask.Xbalanque often hadjaguar markings on hisface, arms, and legs.HunahpuHunahpu is wearinga jaguar-pelt skirt, andthe headband of the JesterGod. Mayan kings worejade head ornaments of theJester God; a court jesteris a suitable disguise forHunapu here, since heperforms magic tricks toamuse the gods of Xibalba.The Hero Twins first sacrificed a dog and revived it; then a man; thenXbalanque sacrificed Hunahpu and revived him. One Death and Seven Deathpleaded, “Do it to us!” but after killing them, the twins refused to revive themand then humilated the other lords of Xibalba, curbing their power.THE HERO TWINSThis image is taken from a vase and showsthe Hero twins in disguise, in the presenceof One Death, the chief lord of theunderworld. This story is told in thePopol Vuh, or “Council Book,” arecord of Mayan mythology.The Principal Inca Gods of PeruT he Incas of Peru worshiped Inti, the sun, as their ancestor; his sister-wife wasMama Kilya, the moon. Two chief gods, the fire-and-earth god Pachacamacand the rain-and-water god Viracocha, came to be regarded as their sons. Viracocha,whose sister-wife was the sea mother Mama Cocha, was also regarded a creator god.The first world he created was a world of darkness, peopled by giants he had madefrom stone. But they were disobedient and he punished them by sending a greatflood. Then he made humans out of clay and lit the world by sending the sun, moon,and stars up into the heavens from his abode in Lake Titicaca. After he had taught thepeople how to live in the world he sailed away like Quetzalcoatl (see p. 98).
  • 99. One DeathThe chief lord of Xibalba, OneDeath, sits on his throne in anunderworld temple, surroundedby goddesses; he is shown tyingon the wrist cuff of the one whokneels before him. Two others sitcross-legged at his feet, while afourth pours him a drink and afifth leans over his back pillow.Macaw OwlThe Macaw Owl,the messenger ofXibalba, perches onOne Death’s hat.The messenger owlsact as guides downto the underworld.Drawing attentionOne of the goddesses tapsanother on the foot to drawattention to the sacrificebeing made by the disguisedHero Twins. In the land ofdeath, the Hero Twins’powers of resurrectionmust have seemeddoubly miraculous.The underworld, Xibalba, was a dreadful hell, whose name meansliterally “place of fright.” Only those who died a violent death went toheaven, all others were consigned to Xibalba. It lay to the west, andcould be entered through a cave, or through still, standing water.Bald-headedgoddessesOne Death is tendedby five bald-headedgoddesses, who aredepicted as noble andbeautiful women.This one is shownpouring liquid into acup—probably pulque,an alcoholic drink.Rabbit ScribeA rabbit scribe writes in an open codex bound withjaguar pelt. A rabbit helped the Twins at the start of theball game—Hunahpu had his head cut off by a bat andthe underworld gods decided to use it as the ball. Toallow Hunahpu to fix his head back on, the rabbitpretended to be the ball and ran away with the DeathGods in pursuit. Mayan art sometimes shows a rabbitstealing the regalia of One Death. The usual Mayanscribes are the Monkey twins, Hun Batz and HunChuen, the Hero Twins’ half-brothers.The HeroTwins are shownmasked andin disguise,having broughtthemselves backto life after beingsacrificed byOne Death andSeven Death.PointedforeheadsIn Mayan culture,long pointedforeheads wereconsidered beautiful.Babies had theirheads bound at birthso that their skullswere squashed toachieve this effect.The Story of Snake-WomanT his two-headed heaven snake from Peru recalls the spirit snakes withhuman heads who are among the servants of the Pillan, the thunder godof the Amerindians of Chile. Sky spirits such as this may be invoked by ashaman in initiation, healing, or magical ritual. The cloth’s precise mythologyis not known, but it may depict a myth such as the Peruvian Sharanahua storyof Snake-Woman. Snake-Woman was lured out of her lake by a man whowished to seduce her. But when he grabbed hold of her, she became huge,reaching right up to the sky. Then she shrank back to his size, coiled aroundhim, and dragged him to her underwater home. The man thought his newwife very beautiful, but when he drank the hallucinogenic shori, he saw herin her true form and was terrified. Although Snake-Woman calmed him,he was not happy and her brother took pity on him and led him home. This cloth found in an ancient Peruvian tomb shows a two-headed heaven snake.
  • 100. TheDreaming•102SpearsTheoldman,likehissons,hashisspearsready;theovalobjecttotheleftishisspearthrower.TheDreamingT he“Dreaming”ofAustralianAboriginalmythologyisoftenreferredtoastheAltjeringa.Itisthetimeofthecreationoftheworld,butitisnotregardedaslyinginthepast,butratherinaneternalpresent,whichcanbeaccessedinritual.Storiesknownas“Dreamings”telloftheexploitsofAncestorbeings,whodoforthefirsttimesomethingofwhichallfutureactionsaremerecopies.TheDreamingtracksoftheAncestorsareencodedinsonglines,andinscribedinpaintings,whichformamythologicalmapoftheAustralianlandscape—awebofsacredmemorieswhoseheartisatUluru(AyersRock).TheDreamingAncestorsareregardedasbeingswhosleptintheprimalworld;butthentheyawokeandshapedhumanbeingsandalandscapeinwhichtheycouldlive.ThepaintingbelowtellsthestoryoftheFireCountryDreaming,amyththatbelongstotheWarlpiripeopleofCentralAustralia.Init,twoancestorsfromtheJangalaclanarepersecutedbytheirpowerfulshamanfatherbecausetheyaccidentallykillakangaroo,whichissacredtohim,andgiveittohimtoeat.Inrevenge,hesendsamagicalfiretopursuethemwherevertheygo.Itburnsthemfromheadtofootandtheydie.CampfireTwocampfiresmarkthecampbelongingtothetwoJangalaandtheiragedfather.Thetwosonswentouthunting,leavingtheirfatherinthewarmth.Blue-tonguedlizardmanThisistheoldman,Blue-tonguedLizard.Hepretendedtobeblindsothathissonshuntedforfoodforhim.Butwhentheyleftthecamp,hewouldtakeweaponsandcatchhisownmeat,whichhedidnotsharewiththem.TwosonsTheoldman’stwosons,theJangala,aredescribedasbeautifulyoungmen,whosufferedpainandhardshipinordertolookaftertheirfather.Theygavehimthebestofeverythingtoeat,suchasthetailofthekangaroo.HuntingtracksofthesonsThehuntingtracksofthesonsleadtoKirrkirrmanu,wheretheykilledthekangaroosacredtotheoldman.FIRECOUNTRYDREAMING1988byDollyNampijinpaDanielsandUniNampijinpaMartinThestoryofFireCountryDreamingisamajormythoftheWarlpiripeople.TheversionhereistakenfromtheoralaccountgivenbyUniNampijinpain1990.TheWarlpiriwordfortheDreamingisJukurrpa.EvilspellThisblackmarkistheevilspellusedbytheoldmantocreateafiretofollowandkillhissons.GoannaDreamingManymythsareaboutanimalsintheDreaming, andoneofthemostimportantisGoanna,themonitorlizard,whoamongotherthingswasresponsibleforinventingthecanoe.ThepeopleoftheMurrumbidgeerivertribetellhowalltheanimalsdecidedtointermarryandthemalegoannashadtomarrymagpiesorteals.Forsomereason,thegoannas,whowereoriginallyvegetarian,begantoeatthefleshoftheirownyoungandalsobabyporcupines—adietthatmadethemlazyanddishonest.Thenoneyeartherewasadroughtandalltheanimalssufferedexceptforthegoannaswhohadasecretsupplyofwater.Theirnewwivesbeggedthemtosharetheirwaterwiththeemusandtheporcupineswhoweredyingofthirst,buttheyrefused.Sothewifeofthechiefgoannafoundthesecretreservoirand,withthehelpofbushspirits,causedittoflowintotheMurrayriverinatorrentthatseparatedthegoannasfromtheirwives.Sincethen,thetealshaverefusedtomarrythegoannas.GoannaDreamingbyKaapaTjampitjinpa(c.1920–89)
  • 101. 103• TheDreamingContinuallyIgnitingFireTheJangalaarechasedbyafire“alwayspresent,alwayspresent…Astheyputitout…itateattheirfeet,theirknees,theirheads,untiltheirskinwascoveredinburns.”(UniNampijinpaMartin,1990)FlightofthesonsThesetracksshowthepathofthesons’flightfromthefire.Theyhadbothbeenbadlyburned,fromtheirfeettotheirheads;theywereinagonyandneardeath.Thesons’campsThesecirclesmarkspotswherethesonscamped.Thehorseshoe-shapesindicatethesons.Whentheysleptatnight,thefiredieddown;whentheyrose,sotoodidthefire.BorderHereistheborderwiththecountryofthePitjatjantjarapeople.ThepartofthestorythatinvolveswhathappenedduringthetimethatthefiredrovetheJangalabrothersacrossthisborderbelongstothePitjatjantjara.DeathsiteThisisNgarra,asaltlake,wherethetwoJangalastopped,tooexhaustedtogoanyfurther.Itisasacredsite,whereonlymenmaygo.Thetwoverticallinesbelowitarethebodiesofthetwodeadsons.TracksoftheOldManThehuntingtracksoftheoldmanleadtoNgama,theSnakeCave.ItisfromtheRainbowSnake(seep.105)thattheoldmanderivedhismagicalpowers.poweroverfireisanattributeofaboriginalshamans,or“menofhighdegree.”AmongtheKattang-speakingpeoplewhooccupiedthenorthernshoreofPortStephens,theinitiationceremonyinvolvedaprocessofdeathandrebirth,duringwhichtheinitiatewasthrownontoafireandthenliftedupandheldoverituntilitwasburnedout.EmutracksThesearrowsrepresentthetracksofanemuwithabrokenleg.AnotherWarlpirimythtellsofanemuthattravelsacrosstheFireDreamingcountryeatingbushfoodandlayingeggs.Thissacredlandscaperecordsitstracks.SnakecaveFootprintsFlamesreignitingBunjil,SupremeCreatorBunjiltheeaglehawkisthesupremecreatordeityoftheKooripeoplesofVictoria.Hehadtwowivesandason,Binbeal,therainbow.Bunjilmadethemountainsandrivers(includingPortPhillipBay),andthefloraandfauna,andtaughthumankindhowtolive.ThenheaskedBellin-Bellinthecrow,hisoppositeandrival,toopenhisbagandletoutsomewind.WhenBellin-Bellinopenedthebag,awhirlwindsweptoutthatrippedtreesfromtheearth.StillBunjilcalledformorewind,andBellin-Bellinopenedhisbagevenmore,untilBunjilandhisfamilywerelifteduptotheskyworld.TheKooribelievedtheskywasheldupbyfourprops.Soonafterthefirstwhitemencame,wordpassedthattheeasternskypropwasrotting.Shortlyafterward,theskyfell.
  • 102. TheKillingofLumaluma•104The Killing of LumalumaLumaluma was a whale who came out of the sea in the shape of a man at CapeStewart, near Milingimbi, in central coastal Arnhem Land, Australia. Onceon dry land, he acquired two wives and made his way west, taking with him theimportant religious rituals known as mareiin, ubar, and lorgun, as gifts to humanity.But Lumaluma was greedy and abused his sacred role—for whenever he sawdelicious food, such as sweet wild honey, or succulent yams, he declared it mareiin,sacred, and thus only he could eat it. But at the same time he was demonstratingthe rites, clapping together his special sticks and saying, “It’s good, all of it!” Hecame to one place where people had set up camp and he could hear them cuttingdown trees. Seeing their fires burning and their food prepared, he ran toward it anddeclared the meal sacred. He ate all the big pieces of food and left only the scraps forthe people of the camp. This happened many times until, finally, he began to eat thebodies of dead children. This was the final insult and the Arnhem Land people tooktheir spears, sticks, and spear-throwers and put him and his wives to death.Sacred designsLumaluma’s body iscovered with designs thathe cut into his skin beforehis death to demonstratethe mareiin ceremony.These crisscross ocherdesigns tell sacred storiesof each man’s ancestralcountry. Other elementsof Lumaluma’s teachingswere sacred dancesand chants used inreligious ceremonies.Shade hutsLumaluma is enclosed bythe branches of a shade hutthat was built over hisbody. Such huts are builtover sacred ground in theperformance of ritualslearned from Lumaluma.Dying LumalumaWhen the men began tospear him, Lumaluma toldthem to slow down, so thathe had time to teach themonce more how to transformthemselves in the mareiinceremony, when they go totheir sacred place.Lumaluma is described as having been accompanied bythe Rainbow Snake. If his attackers had buried him,Lumaluma would have died forever. But since they left hisbody on the beach, he was able to slip back into the sea,and came back to life as a sea creature “like a RainbowSnake.” But he never came back to land.WivesWhen Lumaluma emerged from the sea,he stole two wives while the men wereout fishing. These wives traveled withhim and shared in his death; theirskeletons lie next to his. LikeLumaluma, they continued toteach the religious rituals as theywere speared to death and wereresponsible for teaching thewomen’s religious ceremonies.Log coffinThis log coffin depicts a water python on oneside and a goanna on the other (hidden fromview). Above it is a long tom fish also carvedby Yiridja clan members. These traditionaldesigns are also used in body painting, groundsculptures, and bark paintings.MoietiesIn Arnhem Land, everything in the universe is classified as belonging to either the Dua orYiridja moieties, according to a division laid down inthe dreamtime. The myths of the Djanggawuls—twoeternally pregnant sisters and their brother—belongto the Dua, while those of Barama and Laindjungbelong to the Yiridja. It was these ancestors who broughtthe moieties their sacred objects and designs; likeLumaluma, they taught the people many sacred rituals.LumalumaThe angry people ofArnhem Land, pushedbeyond endurance, killedLumaluma with theirspears and sticks. Afterkilling him, they left thebody seated against a treeon the beach, with stringtied around the torso andneck to hold it in place.
  • 103. The story of Lumaluma was told toanthropologist Catherine H. Berndt in1950 by Mangurug, one of the mostsenior women of the Gunwinggu (orKunwinjku) people of Western ArnhemLand, who regard Lumaluma as theirsacred Ancestor. The artist is a man ofthe Born clan of the Gunwinggu.SeekingretributionMen from the Dua andYiridja moieties of theYolngu people set off tofind Lumaluma. Aboriginalcommunities are often splitinto two halves, or moieties,each named after its ownprimordial spirit Ancestor.The ancestral heroes of theDua came by sea; those ofthe Yiridja by land.CanoesSome of the men huntingLumaluma are in canoes,because Lumaluma wasoriginally a sea creature, saidto be a whale. Even when hewas in the guise of a man, hecould still transform himselfinto a whale to hunt fish.As with other Aboriginalartifacts, canoes are saidto have originated in theancestral Dreaming. Thefirst canoe was made byGoanna, the monitorlizard, in human form.Yiridja WarriorA warrior of the Yiridja moiety attacks Lumaluma. He carries hisspears and his bondok, or spear-thrower, and his body is paintedwith traditional designs in yellow ocher. The Gunwinggu learnedtheir ritual body designs from Lumaluma. Theintricate patterns represent the ancestral landscape.“Lumaluma stayed alive for a while. But then he was a very big man: hedidn’t die quickly. He gave them all that sacred ritual. He asked them, ‘Did youget it all . . . ? Did you get it all, that sacred information I gave you? Tell me!’And those people, those real people, answered him, ‘We have it all.’”Mangurug, Senior Woman of the Gunwinggu PeopleTHE KILLING OF LUMALUMA,1988, by Djorlom NalorlmanThis picture shows the death of Lumaluma,an important Ancestor, who brought certainreligious rituals to humankind. Painted onbark, in earth pigments on a plain yellow ocherground, the picture shows the climax of theLumaluma myth as a frieze to be read fromright to left. Along the top, men of the Dua andYiridja moieties (see below, right) are shownembarking in their canoes; on the left, they killLumaluma; his skeleton and those of two wivesare shown bottom left. Various sacred objects aredepicted to the right of the skeletons.Sacred objectsWhen Lumaluma died, the men gathered up his clappingsticks and ritual basket and other sacred objects that werereleased from his body to be used in religious ceremonies.This sacred rangga emblem is carved by Dua clan membersto represent a yam. Also shown are a stone ax, a Yiridja dillybag (with handle), a Dua dilly bag (without handle), andbetween the dilly bags, a bondok, or spear-thrower.Dilly bagDilly bags are baskets made of woven tree-fiber and are used to carry sacred objects.The contents of the bag are secret, but thebag itself is worn openly, and is sometimesheld between the teeth during a ceremony.The bags are said to represent the wombsof the ancestral Djanggawul sisters.Snake Dreaming, 1989, by Keith Kaapa Tjangala (b.1962)SpearsSpear-throwerBody ornamentThe Rainbow SnakeT he Rainbow Snake, an important figure in Aboriginal mythology, issaid to have emerged from a water hole (much as Lumaluma camefrom the sea) during the Dreaming, the time of creation, which canstill be accessed in religious ceremonies. As he traveled the country, hismovements created the hills and valleys and particularly the waterwaysof the ancestral landscape, which are now among some of the holy placesof Aboriginal culture. The great snake now arches above the land as therainbow, and can be seen in the reflection of light in water— on the sea atnight, in pools of water, or in the sparkling droplets of a waterfall—andin substances such as quartz crystal and pearl shell. It is from the RainbowSnake that the Aboriginal shamans, or “men of high degree,” obtainthe powers that they manipulate through quartz crystals. The name ofthe Rainbow Snake varies. To the Gunwinggu people he is Ngalyod andfeatures as several Rainbow Snakes, rather than a single creature. Onestory tells how the Gunwinggu killed a Ngalyod that had swallowed anentire community because it was infuriated by a child’s constant crying.
  • 104. Maui-of-a-Thousand-Tricks•106Maui-of-a-Thousand-TricksInPolynesianmythology,thecreationoftheworldiscreditedeithertothesky-fatherRangiandtheearth-motherPapaortotheseagodTangaroa(seeright).However,itwastheheroMaui(shownhere),whofisheduptheislandsofPolynesiafromthebottomoftheseausingagreatfishinghook.Hismother,oftencalledHina,whichsimplymeans“girl”or“youngwoman”(as,confusingly,arehiswife,sister,andgrandmother),becamepregnantbymysteriousmeans(usuallybyputtingonaman’sloincloth),andgavebirthtoMauiintheformofafetus.Hegrewupaheroicfigure,cleverandstrong,andearnedhimselfthenameof“Maui-of-a-thousand-tricks.”Hecoulddoanything,exceptconquerdeath(seebelow)andimprovedtheworldformankind.Amongotherthings,hepusheduptheheavens,stolefirefromtheunderworldformankind,andsnaredthesun.Hethoughtitmovedacrosstheskytooquicklyandtoslowitdown,Mauilassooeditwitharopemadeofcoconutfiber,butthesunburnedittoacinder.Sohemadeanotherropefromthesacredhaironhissister’sheadandwaitedbytheeasternedgeofthesea.Atdawnheflunghisropeandcapturedthesunbythethroat.Andalthoughitbeggedandpleaded,Mauiwouldnotletitgountilithadagreedtogivelongdaysinsummerandshortdaysonlyinwinter.Top-knotManyPolynesianscallMauibythenameMaui-tikitiki-a-Taranga.Thisisareferencetothemythinwhichhismother,herenamedTaranga,cradledhisprematurefetusinthetop-knotofherhair,andsentitouttosea.Asonlymenwearthetop-knot,andothersourcesnameMaui’sfatherasAtaraga,themysteryofMaui’sbirthdeepens.AmorecommoncreationmyththantheTangaroastoryisthatthesky,Rangi,andtheearth,Papa,laytogethertocreatethegods.TheywerethenseparatedbytheirsonandTangaroa’sbrother.InMaorimyththissoniscalledTane(seebox),althoughhisnamevaries.SomePolynesiancreationchantsareabstractandphilosophical;othersaresodetailedintheiraccountofthecreationthattheyevencelebratethebirthofthedustintheairfromtheunionof“Smallthing”and“Imperceptiblething.”TattoosMaui’stattoosaretypicalofPolynesianculture.AversionofthewidespreadMauilegendsfromManihikisaysthathisfatherwascalledManuahiwhareandhismotherwasTongoiwhare,andtheyweretheoffspringofthegodTangaroa-of-the-tattoed-face.InRaratonga,MauiwassaidtobeTangaroa’sson.Horrifiedatthesightofhismother’sfirstgrayhairs,Mauitriedtoconquerdeathbyforcinghimselfuponthesleepinggoddessofdeath,Hine-nui-te-po.Butthebirdsinthetreesfoundthesightsofunnythattheylaughedandwokethegoddess,whocrushedMauitodeath.Shell-borngodTangaroawasthefirstgod.Helivedinashellthatwasroundlikeanegg.Nothingexistedbuttheshellandthevoid.FinallyTangaroabrokehisshellandcalledout,“Who’sthere?”Buttherewasnothing.MakerofallthingsSinceTangaroawasbornintoemptiness,hemadetheworldfrombothhisshellandhisbody.Thetophalfoftheshellbecamethesky,andthebottom,therockandsand.Hisbackbonemadeamountainrange,hisentrailsmadetheclouds,hisfleshmadetheearth.Evenhisfingernailsandtoenailsmadethescalesandshellsofthefishinthesea.Heisoftendescribedasagodofthesea.FatherofthegodsTangaroacreatedafamilyofgodsfromwithinhimself.Here,thenewborngodscrawloverhisbody.TangaroaGivesBirthtotheGodsThiswoodenstatueofTangaroa(A’a)showshimgivingbirthtothegodswhocrawlalloverhisbody.Thereisanopeningatthebackofthisstatueandinsidethereisaloosegroupofmoregodfigures;awoman’swombwascomparedtotheshellofTangaroa.“Fromtheconceptiontheincrease,Fromtheincreasethethought,Fromthethoughttheremembrance,Fromtheremembrancetheconsciousness,Fromtheconsciousnessthedesire.”MaoriCreationChant
  • 105. GreatfishMaui’scatch,whichisreallylandfrombelowthesea,isdescribedasvariouskindsoffish—sometimesanulua,sometimesahahakahaki.Eitherway,itwastooheavyforMaui’sfragilefishingline,andhecouldnotraiseitentirelyfromthesea.Hencetherearemanyislands,ratherthanonelandmass,becausethefish’sbodybrokethroughthewaterinseveralplacesbutcouldnotbehauledupcompletely.FishinguptheislandsMauiisshownintheactoffishinguptheislandsofPolynesia.Ashepulledontheline,heteasedhisbrothersbyaskingthemtoguesswhatkindoffishhehadcaught.FishhookThenameofMaui’sfish-hook,Manai-a-ka-lani,means“Come-from-the-heavens.”Itwasgiventohimbyhismother,Hina,andisamagicfishhookthatoncebelongedtoKuula,thegodoffishing.MAUIHAULSUPTHEISLANDSThiscarvingshowsthemythinwhichMauihaulsuptheislandsofPolynesia(shownhereasafish).Thecarvingisprobablyahousepost,astructureholdingupthewallsandceilingwhichwouldbemadefromwovengrasses,andmaterials.ItshowsMauiwiththree-fingers.ThefirstcarvingwiththistypicalMaorithree-fingeredmotifwassaidtohavebeenbroughtfromTangaroa’shouseontheflooroftheocean,byanancestorcalledMutuwhohadamissingfinger.WatchingeyesTheeyesonthiscarvingrepresentKoururutheowl,whowassacrificedbytheagriculturegodRongo(HawaiianLono)andplacedunderthefarwallofhishouse.NowKoururu’seyesglareprotectivelyfrommanyhousecarvings.TheFoundingofEasterIslandMysteriousstoneheadsontheslopesofEasterIslandEasterIsland,themostsecludedPolynesianisland,isthoughtto bethemythicalnaveloftheworld.Itwasdiscovered,accordingtolocallore,astheresultofadream.Farawayinthewest,atattooistcalledHaumakadreamedthathetraveledacrosstheseatoalandwithbeachesoffairwhitesand.HetoldhismasterHotumatua(oneoftwomencontendingforthethroneintheirland)whosentsixmeninsearchofit.Thesemensetoffacrossthewater,takingwiththembreadfruit,yams,coconuts,andotherthingstoplantand,afteralongjourney,cametoEasterIsland,anopenlandofgrassesthatwavedlikethesea.Theyexploredthelandbutrejecteditasuninhabitablebecausetherewasnofreshwater.Butastheycamebacktothebeach,theysawtwocanoes—onebelongingtoHotumatua,theothertoTu’ukoihu,thepriest.Hotumatualandedfirst,andhissonTu’umahekewasbornonthebeach.Thepriestcutthechild’snavelcordwithhisteeth,putthecordinagourd,andsentitouttosea.Thenthepeoplecameashore—bythehundreds—tosettlethenewlandwithHotuMatuaasking.Tane,theForestGodT ane,theforestgod,wasbornwithhisbrothersRongo,thegodofcultivatedplants;Tangaroa,thegodoffishandreptiles;Haumia,thegodofwildplants;Tu,thewargod;andTawhiri,thestormgod,fromtheunionofRangiandPapa,theskyandtheearth.ButsocloselydidRangiandPapaclingtoeachotherthatthegodscouldnotleavetheearthwombandTanehadtowrenchhisparentsapart.Althoughgenerallyapeacefulgod,TanewasinconstantconflictwithhisbrotherTangaroa,theseagod,becausehegavehumanbeingsthewoodandplantfibertomakeequipmentforfishing.Tane’snamemeans“Man”andheiscreditedwithakeyroleinthecreationofhumanbeingsandtheirmortality.Itissaidthathecreatedhisownwife,Hine-hau-one,outofsand,andbreathedlifeintohernostrils.Laterhemarriedtheirdaughter,Hine-titama,Hina-the-dawn-maiden,butwhenshelearnedthathewasalsoherfather,shefledfromhimandbecameHine-nui-te-po,thedeathgoddess.Beforethiseventdeathdidnotexist.
  • 106. TheChurningoftheOcean•108The Churning of the OceanOne day, the Indian gods gathered on Mount Meru, the navel of the world, to discuss howto gain the amrita, or elixir of immortality, which was hidden deep in the ocean. At the godVishnu’s suggestion (see pp. 110–11), they decided to try to churn it out, using Vasuki the snake asa rope, and Mount Mandara, set on top of a giant tortoise, as a paddle. The Devas, the gods friendlyto humankind, seized Vasuki at one end, and the Asuras (or anti-gods) seized him at the other. Aseach side pulled, the paddle turned this way and that, churning the ocean, which soon became milkyand turned into butter. The gods continued churning and gradually “fourteen precious things” cameforth, including the sun, the moon, Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi, and finally, Dhanvantari, the god’sphysician, carrying the amrita. The Devas and the Asuras clamored to taste it but Vishnu trickedthe Asuras out of drinking it, and only Rahu, “the grasper,” a monstrous demon, had a sip.To prevent the whole of him from achievingimmortality Vishnu cut off his head. Thisremained immortal and declared war on themoon god, Soma, alternately swallowing andregurgitating him, in an attempt to find moreof the immortal elixir (also called soma).Cosmic oceanIn the beginning, according to the holy book Rig Veda, there was neitherBeing nor non-Being, just “darkness swathed in darkness.” This isusually described as a primal ocean, on which the world egg floated.Gifts of the oceanThe ocean yielded manygifts including the sacredparijati tree, whichperfumed the wholeworld with its blossoms,and Airavata, the colossalwhite elephant (on the left),the mount of the god Indra.DevasThe Devas, holdingonto the tail of thesnake Vasuki, arethe gods. There areusually said to be 33of them. Their homeis on Mount Meru.BrahmaBrahma, one of themajor gods, has fourheads. He used tohave five, but Shivacut one of them offwhen Brahma claimedto be his superior.TortoiseVishnu took the form of the tortoise Kurma tohelp the gods retrieve lost treasures from the ocean;hence he is present at both the top and the bottomof the churning stick. Brahma, too, took tortoiseshape to make the world. The name of Kasyapa, thefather of the Asuras, also means “tortoise.” In Hindumythology, the world rests on a giant tortoise.LakshmiLakshmi, sitting near a conch shell, a symbol of Vishnu, hasalready been pulled from the ocean. The female in front of her isbusy pulling out Chandra, the moon (who is also known as Soma).This Indian ivory shows Durga killing the buffalo demon.Durga and the BuffaloDurga, the warrior goddess, is a form of the Indianmother goddess, Mahadevi. Other forms includegentle Parvati, wife of Shiva (see pp. 112–13). Durga wascreated by the gods when they were deposed by the Asurasfrom their home on Mount Meru. Arising from the flamesof their fury, she rode into battle on a lion, killing everydemon in her path, until she faced their leader, Mahisha,the demon buffalo. After a terrible fight, Durga defeatedhim and, her foot on his neck, forced the spirit from hismouth, and cut off his head. As he died, all the gods, andall the creatures in the world shouted “Victory!” and agreat lamentation arose from the demon hordes.
  • 107. VishnuVishnu, seen here directingthe churning of the ocean,is recognizable by hisfour hands, holding hiskaumodaki, or mace,his sudarshana, or discus,his padma, or lotus, and hisshankha, or conch. His wifeLakshmi, is the goddess of goodfortune. Also known as Padma, thelotus, she is one of the beings bornfrom the churning of the ocean. Othersinclude Chandra, the moon god,and Varuni, the goddess of wine.In the holy book, Rig Veda, it is said of amrita(or soma), “We have drunk soma, we havebecome immortal, we have entered intothe light, we have known the gods.” Somawas a plant-based hallucinogen.Cheated DemonsThe Devas persuaded theAsuras to help them churnthe ocean by promising thatthey, too, would share in theelixir of life—but this was atrick, and only one of theAsuras, Rahu, got so muchas a sip. For this, Vishnusliced off his headwith his discus.Upturned mountainThe gods uprooted MountMandara to use as theirchurning stick. Afterward,when the Devas had beatenthe enraged Asuras in battle,the gods replaced themountain in the Himalayas.AsurasThe anti-gods known as Asuras were theenemies of the gods, or Devas. The two groupsare locked in constant warfare, but neither sidecan triumph. “Asura” originally meant “god,”but mutated to mean demon.World snakeThe serpent Vasuki, with which the gods churnedthe ocean, is the king of all the serpents or Nagas.He is also known as Shesha and Ananta. He livesin the primal ocean, wrapped around the earth,and serves as a bed for the god Vishnu.One thousand mouthsEven the endless energy of the Asuras was sapped by the heatand flames issuing from Vasuki’s 1,000 mouths. Whenever oneof them yawns, it causes an earthquake. At the end of the world,the snake will belch forth the poison that will burn up creation.Sacred cowSurabhi, the cow of plenty, is the mother of allcattle, which are sacred to Hindus. WhenPurusha, the first being, who is oftenidentified with Brahma, took the shapesof all the animals to bring them intobeing, he first became a bull and a cow.The sunUccaihsravas, the whitehorse of the sun, was bornfrom the ocean of milk.Physician of the godsDhanvantari, the divine physician, is the last tobe born from the ocean, bearing a jar of amrita,one of the precious things that for some reasonhad not been automatically recreated at thebeginning of the new age.Dhanvantariappears fromthe ocean.Golden maceDiscusLotusConchThe Asura Rahu,hauls Dhanvantari,the physician of thegods, from the ocean.Cycles of CreationThere are many Hindu creation myths, the earliestones involving an act of incest between fatherand daughter to produce, in one way or another, allliving things. A later myth involves the god Brahmawho, from a union with his daughter Vak, “the word,”creates the first man, Manu (see p. 110). Brahma isresponsible, every kalpa, or 4,320,000,000 humanyears, for creating the world. Each kalpa is a day andnight of Brahma; in the day, Brahma creates theuniverse but at night it reverts to chaos. At nightVishnu sleeps on the snake Ananta, on the cosmicocean. At dawn, a lotus grows out of his navel, whichcontains Brahma, who creates the world anew.
  • 108. TheAvatarsofVishnu•110 TheAvatarsofVishnuV ishnuisoneofthreeimportantIndiangods,ofwhichtheothertwoareBrahmaandShiva.Eachhasarole: Vishnuistheprotectorandrestoreroftheworld,Brahmathecreator,andShivathedestroyer.Confusingly,althoughBrahmacreatedtheworld,bothheandShivawerebornfromVishnu,BrahmaemergingfromVishnu’snavel,andShivaspringingfromhisforehead.Vishnuisalsocalledthe“wide-strider”becausehecancrossthewholeworldinthreestrides.ThereareendlessstoriesaboutVishnu,ofwhichthemostimportantrelatetohisincarnations,oravatars,inwhichhehascometoearth,inanimalorhumanform,tohelphumankind.Intheory,therehavebeennineavatarsandatenthisyettocome,althoughmanystoriesexistthatdetailotherappearances.Lakshmi,Vishnu’swife,hasalwaysaccompaniedhiminhisincarnations—forexample,asPrinceRama’swifeSita(seep.114–15),orasKrishna’sloverRadha,andhiswife,Rukmini.ThatLakshmicanbeincarnatedtwiceintheKrishnastoryandthatotheravatarstoriesexistisindicativeofthewayinwhichmythsgrow,appropriatingelementsfromdifferentsourcesatdifferenttimes,oftenresultinginavaryingversionsofacommontheme.Matsya,thefishVishnu’sfirstavatarwasMatsyathefish,aformhe tooktoprotectManu,thefirstman,fromthedeluge.WhenManufoundthetinyfish,ittoldhim,“Lookafterme,andIwilllookafteryou.”Butthen thefishgrewtoolarge,soManureleaseditintothesea.Thenthefishwarnedhimthattherewasgoingtobeaflood,andtoldhimtobuildanark.Whenthefloodcame,thefishgrewahorn,towhichManufastenedhisship,usingAnanta,theworldsnake,asarope,andthefishtowedhimtosafety.Varaha,thewildboarInhisthirdincarnation asVarahathewildboar,VishnurescuedtheworldafterithadbeenswampedbythefloodandtakenoverbythedemonHiranyaksha.Varahaslewthedemonand raisedtheearthup againwithhistusk.Narasimha,theman-lionOnce,ademonkingcalledHiranya-Kashipuruledthe world.Hewascruelandwicked,andinvulnerabletomen,animals,orgods,insideoroutsidehishouse,bydayorbynight.Oneday,asajoke,Hiranya-Kashipustruckapillarinhispalace,andaskedifVishnuwasinthere.Tohisamazement,Vishnuemerged,roaring,asaferociousman-lion(hisfourthavatar),andtore thedemontopiecesattwilight ontheverandaofthepalace.Vamana,thedwarfVishnu’sfifthavatar,Vamanathedwarf,wasborntocurbthepowerofanotherdemonking,Bali.WhenhebeggedBaliforonlyasmuchlandashecouldcoverinthreestrides,thekinglaughedandgrantedhiswish.HewashorrifiedwhenVamanacoveredthewholeworld,leavingBalionlythekingdomofPatala,underneaththeearth.Kurma,thetortoiseKurmathetortoise,Vishnu’ssecondavatar,heldupMt.Meruandhelpedthegodsreclaim14treasuresfromtheseaofmilk(seepp.108-9).Thisilluminationdatingfrom1770showsVishnuandLakshmionVishnu’svehicleGaruda.VishnuandLakshmiV ishnuandLakshmiareshownridingthesacredbirdGaruda,whoislinkedwithfireandthesun,uptotheirheavenoflove.ThemaritaldevotionofVishnuandLakshmiextendsthroughallofVishnu’sincarnations.Lakshmiwasbornfromtheoceanatthechurningoftheseaofmilk(seepp.108–9),whichprovidesherwithagarlandoffreshflowerseveryday.Oneofhernames,Padma,thelotus,identifiesherwiththeperfectionofthisflower.TheholyriverGangesisatherservice,andtwoelephantsshowerherwithitswaterwhenshebathes.AlsoknownasShri(prosperity)Lakshmiisthegoddessofgoodfortune,andalsoofgrowthandfruitfulness.
  • 109. Parashu-Rama,theaxmanInthissixthincarnation,VishnuwasbornintotheBrahmancaste,orclass,ofscholars.Atthistime,thewarriorcaste,theKshatriya,dominatedtheworld,butthegodsthoughtitbetterthattheBrahmansshould rule.SoParashu-Rama (whowasalsoawarrior)destroyedthewarriorswithhisax,andslewtheir1,000-armedking,Kartavirya.Rama,thegentleAsRama,hisseventhavatar,VishnuwasborntoslaythedemonRavana.KingDasharathaprayedforason,andVishnugavehimabowlofdivinenectartosharebetweenhisthreewives.Asaresult,foursonswere born:Rama,whoreceivedhalfthedivineessence,Bharata, whoreceivedaquarter,andLakshmanaandSatrughna, whoreceivedaneightheach.Therefore,allfourbrotherssharedinVishnu’sdivinenature.TheBuddhaTheBuddha,theninthavatarshownherewiththeattributesofVishnu,wasahistoricalfigure.Hetaughthumankindhowtofreeitselfofdesire,andtheillusionofthisworld,anditsendlessreincarnations.TheBuddha’spreviousincarnationsarerecountedintheJatakaTales.Kalkin,thewhitehorseAttheendofthiseraofthe world,whenhumankindhasbecometotallydegenerate,Vishnuwillcomeinhistenthincarnation,ridingawhite horseandwieldingaflaming swordtodestroythewicked andrenewtheworld.KrishnaKrishna,theeighthavatar, ispreeminentlyVishnuin hisroleaslover.Heloved RadhaandthestoryoftheirloveisafavoritethemeinIndianartandliterature.However,Krishnadidgo towarandthephilosophicalconversationhehadwithArjuna,hischarioteer,becametheBhagadvadGita,oneofHinduism’sholybooks.Vishnu’sdiscus,symbolofthemindandthesunVishnu’smace,associatedwiththepower ofthemindtheavatarsofvishnuThis18th-centurypicturefromRajasthaninnorthernIndia,showsthetenofficialavatarsofVishnu.InthecenterVishnuisshownasKrishna,accompaniedbyhisloverRadhaandtwocowgirls.Theothernineincarnations—fivehuman,fouranimal,andonecomposite—runaroundtheedge.KrishnaandtheGopisKrishnaisshownplayinghisflute,attendedbyRadha,hisfavoritegopi,oneoftheyoungwomenofhisadoptivetribewhowereallinlovewithhim.ThestoriesofKrishnaaresoextensivethat,likeRama,hecanbeconsideredasagodinhisownright,althoughheisamanifestationofVishnu.Hisnamemeans“black”and,withhisflute,maysuggestatribaloriginforthisavatar.RadhaKrishnaTheGodKrishnaDuringhereighthpregnancy,Krishna’smotherDevakiwasimprisonedbyherevilbrotherKingKamsabecauseitwasprophesiedthathereighthchildwouldkillhim.ButDevakismuggledoutthebaby,Krishna,andhewasplacedinafamilyofcowherds.Althoughhewasevidentlyagod(hismothersawtheuniverseinhismouthand,asababy,hekilledtheogressPutana,whofedhimpoisonedmilk),Krishnawasplayful,andmanystoriestellhowhestolebutterandteasedthegirls.WithBalarama,hisbrother,hehadmanyadventures,killingKingKamsaandwinninghisbride,Rukmini.AlthoughitissaidthatVishnuputoneblackandonewhitehairfromhisheadinDevaki’swombtocreatethebrothers,BalaramaisclearlyanavatarofAnanta,theworldserpent,forthesnakecameoutofhismouthwhenhedied.Krishnahimselfwaskilledafteralonglifebyahunter,whoshothimbyaccidentinthesoleofhisfoot,hisonlyvulnerablespot.
  • 110. ShivaandHisFamily•112ShivaandHisFamilyThegodShivalivedonMountKailasawithhiswife,thegentlegoddessParvati,andhistwosonsSkanda(orKartikeya)andGanesh.Skanda,hisoldestson,wasoriginallysixchildrencreatedbyShivaalone,butoneday,Parvaticuddledthechildrentogethertoomuchandtheymergedintoasinglebodywithsixheads.Skanda,whowastheHindugodofwar,grewintoahandsomeyoungman,quitetheoppositeofhisfatlittlebrother,theelephant-headedGanesh.Assoonashewasoldenough,hekilledthedemonTarakawhohadbeenoppressingthegods.Ganesh,ontheotherhand,wasbornfromthedirtParvatihadwashedoffinherbath.Storiesvaryastohowheacquiredhiselephanthead:inoneParvatitellshimtostopanyonefromdisturbingherinherbath,andwhenherefusestoletShivain,Shivaburnsoffhisheadwithhisthirdeye;inanother,Shiva,whohasbeenaway,doesnotrecognizehissonandsearsoffhisheadthinkingheispayingcourttoParvati;yetanothertellshowtheplanetSaturn,whilebabysittingGanesh,forgetsthepowerofhisglance,andburnsoffhisheadbyaccident.Ineachstory,Ganesh’shumanheadisreplacedwiththatofanelephant.PeacockThepeacockisthevehicleofSkanda,thebabyonParvati’slap.NandithebullNandi,Shiva’smilk-whitebull,istheguardianofallfour-leggedcreatures.Rudra,Shiva’snameintheearliestHinduholybooks,wastherulerofthebeasts.Parvati,Shiva’swifeParvatiisthedaughteroftheHimalayamountainhimself.LikeDurgaandLakshmi(seep.108),sheisanaspectofthegreatmothergoddess,Mahadevi.GaneshGanesh,theremoverofobstacles,mustbepropitiatedatthestartofanyenterprise.Heisalsoagodofwisdomandlearning,andwasthescribeoftheholybook,theMahabharata,usingoneofhistusksasapen.Ganesh’ssteedGanesh’scompanionandsteedisarat.ButGaneshislazy,andwillnottravelunnecessarily.OncehemadeabetwithSkandathatthefirsttotravelaroundtheworldshouldwinSiddhi(success)andBuddhi(intelligence),astheirbrides.Amanofaction,Skanda,madethelongjourney,butGaneshsimplystayedathomeandread;whenSkandareturned,Ganeshwaswaitingtotellhimallthewondersoftheworld,andsowonthebet.ThirdeyeThethirdeyeonShiva’sforeheadblazeswiththefireoftenmillionsuns,andcanconsumeanycreaturewithflame.ShivawassoangrywhenKama,thegodoflove,piercedhimwithdesireforParvatiwhilehewasmeditating,thatheopenedhiseyeandreducedhimtoash.SoKamaisnowananga,“bodiless.”CrescentmoonShivawearsthemoonofwisdominhishair.ShivaShivawearsaleopard(oftentiger)skintorepresenthismasteryoverfeelingsofaggressionandgreed.Vasuki,thecobra(seep.109),iswrappedaroundhisneck.DangerousChildParvaticradlesSkanda,thegodofwar,wholaterrestoredpeacetoheavenandearthafterhedefeatedthedemonTaraka.HeisidentifiedwiththeplanetMars.Agni,GodofFireT hefiregodAgni,agodofsacrifice,isbornanewwheneverafireislit.OneofthechiefVedic(earlyIndian)gods,hisrolegraduallydiminished,asmanyofhisattributesweretakenoverbyeitherShivaorSkanda(withwhomAgniwasbrieflyandagonizinglypregnantduringSkanda’shighlycomplicatedconceptionandgestation).WhileShiva’sfirewilldevourtheworldatdoomsday,Agni’sbothconsumesandpurifiesthedirtandsinofthisworld;forthisreasonHindusburnthebodiesoftheirdead.ThepurifyingpowerofAgni’sfirewasgrantedhimbythesageBhrigu.Bhriguabductedanotherman’swife,andtheinjuredhusbandaskedAgni,whoknewallhomes,whereshewastobefound.Agnitoldhim,andBhriguwassoangrythathecursedfiregodtoeateverythinginhispath,whetherpureorimpure.Agniarguedthatasagodhehadtotellthetruth,soBhrigugrantedhimthepowertopurifyeverythingheburned.Agnihastwoheads,afire-redbody,andseventonguesthatgreedilylickupthebutterusedinsacrifices.
  • 111. Hanuman,theMonkeyGodStandingasidefromtheothergodsisHanuman,themonkeygod,thegeneralofRamaintheRamayana(seepp.114-15).HewasthesonofthewindgodVayu,wascapableofchangingshape,andwasimmenselystrong.Heisregardedastheepitomeofloyalty.VishnuVishnu,thepreserver,ledthegodstopetitionShivatoforsakelove-playwithParvatiandhelpthemslaythedemonTaraka;Skandawasborntovanquishthedemon.BrahmaBrahma,thecreator,madethesunandthemoonandplacedtheminthesky,andcreatedAgni(fire),Vayu(wind),andVaruna(water).ChandraChandra,orSoma,themoongod,married27sisters,butthenpreferredhisfirstwife.Hiswivesthencomplainedtotheirfather,whocursedChandrawithleprosy.Horrified,theybeggedtheirfathertoliftthecurse,buthecouldonlysoftentheblow.Thus,Chandra,themoon,graduallybecomesgray-skinned,andthenrecovershisoriginalsilvercolorinanendlesscycle.SuryaSuryaisthesungodandisusuallyseentravelingacrosstheskyinachariotdrawnbysevenmares.“ThebrahminssawRudra(Shiva)dancinginthesky,thatsupremeliberatorwhoinstantlyreleasespeoplefromtheirignorance,whoiskindandbenevolenttohisdevotees.”KurmaPuranaBandofworshipersRishis,Brahminpriests,gatheratthebottomofMountKailasatolistentoShiva’steachings.TigerofShivaAsRudra,“thehowler,”Shivaisreveredaslordofthebeasts.Heisoftenshownwearingatigerskinandisgodoftheforestandofhunting.MountKailasaMountKailasameans“theSilverMountain.”Fromit,thegreatriverBrahmaputrasprings,flowingthroughTibetbeforeturningsouthtojointheholyGangesinBengalandBangladesh.“Greatgod,supremelord,whatareyoudoinginsidethere? Allofus,thegods,havecometoyouforrefuge,forwearetorturedbyTaraka;protectus.”ShivaPuranaHanuman,theloyalmonkeygeneralShivaandHisFamilyonMountKailasaShivaandhisfamilyareshownhereonMountKailasawithadeputationofgodsandholymenatthebaseofthemountain.Theymaybeworshipingtheholyfamilyor,despitethepresenceofSkanda,theymaybeaskingShivatohelpthemdestroythedemonTaraka—forwhichpurposeSkandawasborn.LordoftheDanceShiva,called“thedestroyer,”isshownasafamilyman;asaholymanwithmattedhairandanash-smearedbody;asBhuteswara,lordoftheghosts,wearingaskullnecklace;andashere,aslordoftheTandava,theuniversaldanceinwhichhedancesthecreationanddestructionoftheworld,tramplingthedwarfofhumanignorance.Bytheferociousconcentrationofthisdance,Shivarevealsthecosmictruth.Hedancesinacircleofflames,cuppinginonehandtheflameofdestruction,andinanotherthedrumofcreation.Theholymenwhosawhimdancinghailedhimthus:“Webeholdyoudancing,sourceoftheworld,lodgedinourownhearts!ByyoudoesthiswheelofBrahmaturn.You,soleguardianoftheworld,arefilledwithMaya.Wetakerefugeinyou!Weadoreyou!YouarethesoulofYoga,themasterofconsciousnesswhodancesthedivinedance!”This11th-centurybronzeshowsShivaasLordoftheDance.
  • 112. RamaandSita•114Rama and SitaKing Dasharatha of Ayodya in India was childless and made a special sacrifice to the gods, hoping that they would give him sons. Meanwhile, the godsbegged their lord Brahma to help them against Ravana, the demon king. So Brahmaasked the god Vishnu to vanquish the demon. Vishnu agreed and was born, in his seventhincarnation, as Rama and his three brothers Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna.Unaware of their divinity, the brothers grew up as the sons of King Dasharatha and histhree wives and married. Rama married Sita, an incarnation of Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi,and was made his father’s heir. However, owing to the intrigues of one of his father’swives, he left the city with Sita and Lakshmana, to live in the forest. There, they liveda quiet life for ten years, until one day Ravana tricked the brothers into leaving Sitaalone, and abducted her. Rama andLakshmana, helped by Hanuman,general to the monkey kingSugriva, searched everywhere untilHanuman finally found her, shutup on the island of Lanka. With anarmy of monkeys and bears, Ramakilled Ravana in a huge battle. Hewas reunited with Sita and returnedto Ayodya where he became kingand ruled for 11,000 years.SitaThe name Sita means “furrow.”When her father King Janaka ofMithila was plowing his fields, shesprang up from a furrow, and headopted her as his daughter.LakshmanaLakshmana, whose name means “lucky-omened,” had one eighth of Vishnu’sdivine essence and was always at Rama’sside. He even married Sita’s sister, Urmila.Forest exileRama was exiled to the forest for 14 years becausehis step-brother Bharata’s mother wanted her sonto succeed to the throne. King Dasharatha agreedbecause she had once saved his life and he hadpromised to grant her two requests. Grief-stricken, he died, and Bharata, horrified by hismother’s actions, begged Rama to return. But herefused, so Bharata put Rama’s golden sandals incharge, venerating them until Rama returned.The demon RavanaRavana specialized in ravishing thewives of other people. To abduct Sita,he disguised himself as a wanderingyogi, or holy man. When he askedher to go with him, she rejectedhim utterly, whereupon he revealedhimself in his grotesque trueform, and kidnapped her.Silent witnessesAs Sita was abducted,she called to the forestand the trees to bearwitness to Rama thatshe had been stolenaway against her will.Journey Through the SkyAs Sita was carried through the sky by Ravana,she saw five monkeys sitting on a mountain.She cast down her jewels and her gold veil, inthe hope that this would help Rama to find her.Five monkeysThese monkeys—Sugriva, the exiledmonkey king, and his generals—saw Sita and Ravana fly overhead.Later, they met Rama, who helpedSugriva vanquish his usurperbrother Valin, and in return, theyhelped Rama to search for Sita.Hanuman finally tracked her down.Scenes from the RamayanaThis 19th-century illustration shows scenes from theRamayana, the story of Rama’s life. It shows theepisode in which Rama hunts a magical deer, leavingSita in the care of Lakshmana. However, the demonRavana tricks Lakshmana into leaving Sita, thenwhisks her off, fighting any creaturethat tries to stop him.
  • 113. RamaandSita•115Demon in DisguiseThe golden deer was a demonin disguise called Maricha, whohad been asked by Ravana toentice Rama and his brother away,leaving Sita defenseless. Ravana wasavenging his sister Surpanakha whomRama had rejected. In a fit of jealousy shehad attacked Sita, and had her nose and earscut off by Lakshmana.Rama, avatar of VishnuRama’s blue skin marks him as an avatar of Vishnu.Rama, or Rama-Chandra, is “moon Rama” or“gentle Rama,” in contrast to Vishnu’s previousavatar, the warrior Parashu-Rama. Rama shareshis divine essence with his brothers, though he,with half of Vishnu’s divinity, has the chief role.Captive princessSita, who refused to yield to Ravana, was taken to the golden city on the island ofLanka. When Hanuman found her there—having changed shape and leapt acrossthe sea in a single bound—he showed her Rama’s ring as a token and promised toreturn. As he left he was caught, but escaped and managed to set fire to the city.JatayuJatayu, king of the vulturesand son of the legendarybird Garuda, attacks andwounds Ravana with hisbeak. But Ravana killedhim and Jatayu’s soulwent up to Heaven atthe request of Rama.In pursuit of RamaLakshmana, tricked by Ravana into imagining he heard Rama cryingfor help, left Sita (at her insistence) and ran to his brother’s aid.Rama killed themagical deer withan arrowA Sad EndRama rejected Sita after he rescuedher because he believed she wasdefiled. Sita, unable to bear the slander,wanted to die but the gods would notallow it. They testified to her purity andtold Rama he was an avatar of Vishnu(see pp. 110–11). Rama and Sita livedhappily for 10,000 years until Rama,told that his subjects still consideredSita impure, sent her into exile whereshe gave birth to his twin sons. Yearslater, Rama saw his sons and asked Sitato come back. But her heart was brokenand she sank into the earth. Rama ruledsadly for another 1,000 years beforehe also returned to the gods. In theThai version, Sita reappears from theunderworld to be Rama’s wife once more.The Siege of LankaAt the siege of Lanka, Rama and his monkey army, led by Hanuman, fought the rakshasas, or demons, led by Ravana. These included such terribleadversaries as Lightning-Tongue, Smoke-Eye, Death-to-Men, and Big-Belly. Allof these were vanquished in turn, but Rama could not conquer Ravana himselfuntil he had worshiped the sun, and borrowed the chariot and charioteer of thesky god Indra. With this divine aid, Rama pursued his enemy, though every timehe cut off one of Ravana’s ten heads, another grew in its place. Finally, he shotthe demon with an arrow forged by Brahma—it flew like the wind, struck likethe sun, passed through Ravana, cleaned itself in the sea, and returned to Rama’squiver. The gods rejoiced, and the sun shone down on the field of battle.This 19th-century illustration shows the crossfirebetween Ravana and Rama during the battle of Lanka.
  • 114. TheTenSunsofHeaven•116The Ten Suns of HeavenIn the beginning, there were ten suns, the sons of Di Jun, Chinese Emperor ofthe Eastern Heavens, and his wife Xi He, goddess of the sun. They lived in a giantmulberry tree that grew up from the waters of the Heaven Valley—waters that werealways boiling hot because the suns all bathed there. Each morning, the suns took turnsshining in the sky, leaving the others resting in the tree. But one day, bored with theirorderly life, they all rushed up into the sky at once and ran around wildly having fun.Their tenfold strength began to scorch the earth but when their parents told them tobehave and come down they would not listen. So Di Jun sent his archer, Hou Yi, to teachhis sons a lesson. Yi then shot down nine of the ten suns. Di Jun was devastated and hestripped Yi and his wife Chang E of their immortality and banished them from heaven.Heavenly gateThe heavenly gates areguarded by two soldiers.Above them, a bell is rungby two heavenly beasts, toreport that the soul of thedeceased is passingthrough.Hare in the moonWhen Chang E arrived in themoon, she found she was notalone. Her companion in themoon is a hare, which sitsbeneath a cassia tree (the tree ofimmortality) pounding herbs ina mortar to make the elixir oflife. An old man is said also tolive in the moon; he spends histime trying, in vain, to chopdown the cassia tree.Turned into a toadWhen Chang E gulpeddown the elixir that Hou Yihad won from the QueenMother of the West, shebegan to float up to themoon. As she ascended, shetried to call out, but foundshe could only croak. Toher horror, although shehad indeed becomeimmortal, she had alsobeen turned into a toad.The Funeral Bannerof Lady DaiChina, second century bceThis funeral banner divides into four sections.The top rectangle depicts deities in heaven.The section below, from the heavenly gates toLady Dai, shows how mortals ascend to heavento become immortals. The third section, belowthe upturned bell, shows the mourning peoplewho have survived the deceased, and thefourth, below the altars full of food, isa reproduction of the afterlife.Gates ofheavenLadyDaiUpturnedbellAltarJadesymbolof statusand moralrectitudeChang E Flees to the MoonHere, Chang E, Hou Yi’s wife who lost her immortality when herhusband did, travels up to heaven. After his disgrace, Hou Yitraveled to the Kun Lun Mountains to bring back a potion ofimmortality. There was enough for one person to return to heavenand live as an immortal, or for two to become immortal. Hou Yihad planned to share it with Chang E, but she stole all of it andfloated into the sky to live in the temple of the moon.
  • 115. TheTenSunsofHeaven•117Pan Gu holds the Yin-Yang symbol.Nü WaThe goddess Nü Wa was thefirst god to appear after PanGu created the world (seeright). She had the body of asnake and could change shape70 times a day. She moldedthe first people from mud,taught them to have children,and became the goddess ofmarriage. On either side ofher are cranes—symbolsof longevity. Below themare heavenly dragons.Fusang treeThe ten suns lived in the legendary Fusang Tree inTang Gu, a place beyond the eastern Sea. It had ninebranches up its trunk and a special branch at the top.Each day, one of the suns would set off from thisbranch in a chariot pulled by six dragons, accompaniedfor a short distance by his mother. The tree featuresin many ancient myths, often relating to the sunrise.Children of the Emperorof the Eastern HeavensThe Emperor of the Eastern Heavens had ten children,each one a golden sun. Every day they took turns goingout and shining on the earth, having first washedthemselves in the boiling sea. Every night theirmother collected them and brought them home.DragonsDragons are synonymous with serpents in Chinesemythology and represent wisdom, benevolent heavenlypower, and the fertilizing earth currents. There are fourdragon kings who live in the clouds and give out rainwhen needed. Local dragon-kings preside over streams,rivers, and wells. The dragons shown here are thosethat draw the moon and the sun across the sky.The legend of Hou Yi and the ten sunsWhen the ten suns (see p. 116) refused to go home, their fathergave Hou Yi a new red bow and a quiver of ten white arrows andtold him to “threaten my sons with this bow.” But Yi became soangry at the sight of the dead and dying burned people on earththat he shot first one, then another eight suns from the sky.When they landed, the people saw golden, three-legged crows(shown here with two legs), pierced with an arrow. Hou Yi wasso angry that he had to be reminded to leave one sun in the sky.Detail of the Lady Dai funeral hangingCreation myths of Nü WaHuman beings were created by the goddess Nü Wa, either out of mudand water, or with her brother Fu Xi.Wanting the gods’ approval, she and Fu Xilit two bonfires and said, “If Heaven wantsus to marry, may the smoke of the two firesmingle; if not, may it drift in separate ways.”It mingled, so they married; but Nü Wa wasshy and covered her face with a fan—asbrides still do today. Nü Wa felt protectivetoward humanity. When Gong Gong, theWater God, made holes in the sky during abattle with Zhu Rong, the Fire God, andthe whole world was unbalanced and ravagedby fire and flood, Nü Wa melted stones toplug the gap and make the sky as good asnew. And, to make it extra safe, she killed agiant turtle and used its four legs as pillarsto support the four corners of heaven.Pan Gu Creates the WorldIn the beginning, the universe was contained within an egg, inside of which the vital forces of yin (dark, female, and cool) and yang (light, male, and hot) interacted witheach other. Inside the egg, Pan Gu, formed from these forces, slept for 18,000 years.When he awoke, he stretched and broke the egg. The heavier elements inside theegg sank to form the earth, and the lighter ones floated to form the sky. Between theearth and the sky was Pan Gu. Every day, for another 18,000 years, the earth and skyseparated a little more, and every day Pan Gu grew at the same rate so that he alwaysfilled the space in between. At last the earth and sky reached their final positions, andexhausted, Pan Gu lay down to rest. But he was so worn out that he died. His torso andlimbs became the mountains. His eyes became the sun and moon, his flesh the land, hishair the trees and plants, and his tears the rivers and seas. His breath became the wind,and his voice the thunder and lightning. Finally, Pan Gu’s fleas became humankind.
  • 116. TheEightImmortals•118The Eight ImmortalsThe Taoists venerate eight immortals who, through piety and virtue, haveachieved eternal life. They have nothing in common apart from their immortality,and lived at different times in history, but they are usually depicted in a group,although myths and folktales attach to each of them individually. They livewith the gods in the Kun Lun Mountains at the center of the earth. Here,they feast and amuse themselves in the gardens of the Jade Emperor,the supreme ruler of heaven, where the magical peach-tree ofimmortality grows. Every 1,000 years, they are invited,together with the gods to eat the peaches at a great feastgiven by the Jade emperor’s wife, the Empress Wang.Shou Hsing,God of LongevityShou Hsing (or Shou Lao) is the god oflongevity, one of the three Star Gods orGods of Happiness. He is depicted as anold man with a stick, and a bulbous baldhead. He decides the date of everyone’sdeath, and writes it down on a tablet atthe moment of birth. Occasionally he hasbeen persuaded to change his mind—oneyoung man so pleased him with theoffering of a jar of wine that ShouHsing reversed the numbers 1and 9, giving him 91 yearsof life rather than 19.Auspicious deerThe deer is a symbol oflongevity and good fortune.Hsien is the Chinese word for“immortal.” The Chinese character forHsien juxtaposes the characters for“man” and “mountain,” signifying a manwho lives on a mountain. The eightimmortals are the most famous of theHsien. Immortality is not just long lifeon earth, but eternal life in heaven.Mountain paradiseThe gods and immortals liveon the Kun Lun mountains,the Taoist paradisesometimes calledShou Shan (“thehills of longevity”).Ho Hsiang-kuHo Hsiang-ku is the onlyfemale among the eight immortals.She was a Taoist ascetic in the reign ofthe Empress Wu. Sworn to virginity, shelived alone in the mountains, where the secrets ofimmortality were revealed to her in a dream. She isshown holding a lotus, and looks after unmarried girls.Ts’ao Kuo-chiuTs’ao Kuo-chiu left his home in shame after his brother wasexecuted for murder. He devoted himself to following the Tao,“the Way.” When he met the immortals Chung Li Chu’an and LuTung-pin, they asked him where the way was, and he pointed to thesky. They asked him where the sky was, and he pointed to his heart.So they taught him the secrets of perfection, and he became animmortal. He is holding a court writing tablet.WalkingstickChung Li Ch’uanChung Li Chu’an was aportly and ratherflippant character.The Story of the Kitchen GodOnce there was a mason called Tsao-wang who, nomatter what he did, was always poor. Finally, he wasso poor that he had to let his wife marry someone else.One day, without realizing it, he worked for the newhusband. His ex-wife, who still cared for him, baked himsome cakes, secretly putting a coin into each one. Butbecause it was his destiny to be poor, the mason gavethem away. When he discovered what he had done, hedespaired and killed himself. But the ruler of heaven, onaccount of Tsao-wang’s sad life, took pity and made himthe god of the kitchen. Now, his picture hangs in everykitchen, and once a year he reports on each family’sbehavior to heaven. Many people smear his mouth withhoney or sugar so that he can say only sweet things.
  • 117. Li Hai and the ToadLi Hai was a minister of state whoone day received a visit from theimmortal Chung Li Ch’uan (see below).The immortal proceeded to perform a trick,balancing ten eggs on top of each otherwith a gold coin between each egg. “Isn’tthat rather precarious?” asked Li Hai. “Notas precarious as your position,” answeredthe immortal. Li Hai took the hint,resigned his post, and set off in searchof perfection. On his journey he metthe immortal Lu Tung-pin, whotaught him how to turn gold intoimmortality pills; so Li Hai alsobecame an immortal. He traveled theworld accompanied by a three-leggedtoad. But the toad often slipped away from him andjumped into a nearby well, so Li Hai had to lure itout using a string of gold coins as bait.Li Hai is invoked as a god ofprosperity, and is also the patrondeity of needlemakers.Li Hai stands on his three-legged toadwith money in his hand.There are three Chinese gods ofhappiness, Shou Hsing, the god oflongevity, Lu Shen, the god of goodfortune, and Fu Shen, the god ofhappiness. Lu Shen is sometimesreplaced by Tsai Shen, the god ofwealth. In Chinese art, they areoften shown standing together.Chung Li Ch’uanChung Li Chu’an lived in theperiod of the Han dynasty. Hediscovered how to make silver fromcopper, but instead of keeping themoney for himself he gave it to thepoor. He is shown holding a peachof immortality.Lan Ts’ai-hoLan Ts’ai-ho was a wanderingminstrel, and is often depicted witha lute. He was an effeminate cross-dresser—a kind of holy fool, who worewarm clothes in the summer, and slept inthe snow in winter. One day, after he hadpassed out drunk outside an inn, he rose toheaven in a cloud. He looks after the poor.Han Hsiang-tzuHan Hsiang-tzu was a student ofLu Tung-pin. A master fluteplayer, hecan make flowers blossom at his command.He climbed the tree bearing the peaches ofimmortality, but fell off the top, attaining immortalityjust before he hit the ground. He is the patron of culture.Chang Kuo-laoChang Kuo-lao was a famous hermit who resisted all attempts to lure him tothe capital city. At last he made the journey, at the request of the EmpressWu, but when he reached a temple he fell down dead. His body decayedand was eaten by worms, yet he recovered. He traveled on adonkey which he could magically fold up into a pieceof paper—this is what he is holding.Lu Tung-pinLu Tung-pin was a moral philosopher.One day he met Chung Li Ch’uan, thefirst of the Immortals. While Chung Li washeating rice wine, Lu fell asleep and dreamedhis future life, in which he was successful andhappy, but ultimately lost everything. He awokeconvinced of the vanity of worldly ambition andbecame Chung Li’s disciple. He traveled theworld fighting evil and helping people, and isshown carrying a magic sword given to him by aFire Dragon.Li T’ieh-kuaiLi T’ieh-kuai, meaning “Li with theiron crutch,” looks after the sick and isshown as an old lame beggar. Called toheaven to be instructed by the spiritLao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, Litold one of his students to burn hisbody if he did not return in seven days.But the student, called to his mother’sdeathbed, burned it after six. When Lireturned he had to enter the body of abeggar who had just died of starvation.SoulLi T’ieh-kuai’s soul is shownin the vapor rising from hisgourd of life-preservingmedicine, hovering abovethe beggar’s body itinhabits.THE EIGHT IMMORTALS VISIT SHOU HSINGThis plate shows the eight immortals visiting Shou Hsing, the god of longevity,who also lives in the Kun Lun Mountains. Clouds swirl around them all. The souls of goodpeople, who are no longer reincarnated, may also dwell in the Kun Lun mountainsalthough usually, they are sent to the land of Extreme Felicity in the west.ChinesemoneyPeach of immortality
  • 118. TheSacredMountain•120The Sacred MountainThe Shinto religion, “the Way of the Gods,” recognizes divine spirits,kami, in all natural phenomena. Sengen-Sama, the goddess of Mount Fuji, isthe most sacred. Mount Fuji is so important to the Japanese that ithas given rise to many myths. It is even believed to be the abode ofKunitokotachi, the Eternal Land Ruler, the invisible, all-pervading creator deitywho arose as a reed from the primeval ocean of chaos. The legend illustratedbelow relates how the great 12th-century warrior Tadatsune went to Mount Fujito confront the monsters who were terrorizing the local inhabitants. With twoof his most trusted henchmen, he entered the great cavern at the base of themountain and followed an underground river. Suddenly, Sengen-Sama appearedon the far bank with a dragon by her side. Tadatsune’s companions tried to crossto reach her but she dispatched them within seconds. The goddess congratulatedTadatsune for his bravery but warned him not to try to cross over the river himself,or he would surely meet the same fate. Tadatsune bowed to her and retraced his steps.Mountain GoddessSengen-Sama is the beneficent goddess of MountFuji. Pilgrims come from all over Japan to worshipher. They climb to the top of the mountain torevere her in the rays of the rising sun.DragonDragons are a symbolof the fertilizing power ofrain. Taka-okami, the dragongod of the mountains, andKura-okami, the dragon god ofthe valleys, were created fromthe blood spilled when Izanagikilled the fire god (seep. 121). They controlrain and snow.Sacred treeSengen-Sama holds a branch of the sacred sakaki tree inone hand, and a magical jewel in the other. The sakaki tree(Cleyera japonica) is one of the wonderful objects used to lure thesun goddess Amaterasu out of her cave (see pp. 122–23).JewelSengen-Sama holds a magicaljewel in her right hand.Mount Fuji and her neighbor, the male Mount Haku, once argued over whichof them was the highest. To settle the matter, the Buddha of Infinite Lightran a pipe from the top of Mount Haku to the top of Mount Fuji. When thewater spilled over Fuji’s peak, the goddess was so cross that she beat Hakuover the head and cracked his skull in eight places (nowthe eight peaks of Mount Haku). As a result, Mount Fuji is now taller.Myths of the AinuIn the beginning, the earth was a lifeless swamp, with six heavens above and six worlds below. One day, thecreator, Kamui, sent a wagtail to make land. When thebird arrived, it had no idea what to do. Panicking, itbeat the water with its tail (as it does today) and slowly,dry land began to appear. Seeing how lovely theworld now was, the animals (who lived in the heavens)begged Kamui to let them live there. Kamui agreedand created the Ainu people, who had earth bodies,chickweed hair, and willow-stick spines (which bendin old age). Then he sent Aioina, the divine man, toteach the Ainu how to hunt and cook. When Aioinareturned to heaven, the other gods complained that hestunk of human beings, so he threw away his clothes.His discarded slippers turned into the first squirrels.
  • 119. TheSacredMountain•121Long ago, an old man founda baby girl on the slopes ofMount Fuji and called herKaguya-hime. She grew up tobe beautiful and married theEmperor. After seven years, shetold her husband that she wasnot a mortal, and must returnto heaven. To comfort him, shegave him a mirror in which hewould always be able to see her.Vowing to go to heaven with her,he used the mirror to follow herto the top of Mount Fuji. Butthen he could go no further. Hisdisappointed love set the mirrorablaze, and from that day smokehas always risen from the top ofthe mountain. Mount Fuji’s lastmajor eruption was in 1707.Divine visionThe gaze of the goddess as itfalls upon intruders may bringeither blessing or death.TadatsuneTadatsune was a vassal of the emperorMinamoto no Yoritomo, who becamethe first shogun (emperor) after his victoryat the battle of Dannourra in 1185. Hisbrother Yoshitsune was a legendaryhero who appears in many Noh plays.River homeEvery river has its own god, but is also hometo evil dwarf vampires known as kappa, whodrown their victims and then suck out theirblood. The only way to outwit a kappa is tocause it to bow, thus spilling the waterfrom its skull and dispersing its power.Fallen warriorsTadatsune’s companions—likehim, samurai warriors—liedead on the ground, victimsof the goddess’ displeasureafter they attempted totrespass on her holy ground.Izanami and IzanagiIzanami and Izanagi were the last of seven generations of gods. Here, theystir the ocean with a jeweled magical spear to create the islands of Japan.TADATSUNE AND THEGODDESS OF MOUNT FUJIby Kuniyoshi c. 1844This Japanese tryptych shows the hero Tadatsunetransfixed by the goddess of Mount Fuji aftershe has just killed his companions.Izanami and IzanagiIzanami and Izanagi were commanded by the deities of heaven to shape the earth. Standing on therainbow, the Floating Bridge of Heaven, they stirredthe ocean with a jeweled spear and created Onogoro,the first island. Then they put up a pillar, walkedaround it in opposite directions, met, and coupled.Izanami then gave birth to the islands of Japan andvarious gods and goddesses. However, she was badlyburned at the birth of the fire god, Kagutsuchi, anddied. Bereft, Izanagi killed Kagutsuchi and rushed tothe underworld to beg Izanami to return. She agreed,but warned her husband not to look at her. But hebroke a tooth from his haircomb and lit it as a torch.In doing so, he saw that Izanami was rotting andcovered in maggots, and he fled. Pursued by his demon-wife, Izanagi managed to escape just in time, blockingthe exit with a huge rock. Trapped, Izanami angrilyvowed to kill 1,000 people every day; Izanagi counteredby promising 1,500 births for every 1,000 deaths.
  • 120. AmaterasuHidesAway•122Amaterasu Hides AwayAmaterasu, the japanese sun goddess, Tsuki-yomi, the moon god, and Susano, the storm god,were born to Izanagi, the primal male, after he escaped from the underworld (see p. 124).When they were old enough, Izanagi gave Amaterasu the rule of heaven, Tsuki-Yomi the rule ofthe night, and Susano the rule of the ocean. But Susano felt cheated, and threw a tantrum—hewould rather go to the dark land of his mother, Izanami, than rule the waters. So he challengedAmaterasu to a contest—the one who gave birth to the most powerful deities would cede powerto the other. Amaterasu won, and Susano was so furious that he attacked the sacred weaving hallwhere Amaterasu and her maidens wove the fabric of the universe. He frightened and offended herso much that she withdrew to the seclusion of a cave, plunging both heaven and earth into darkness.The other gods were very concerned and determined to lure Amaterasu back into the world. Theythought long and hard and finally decided to work on her curiosity by causing a commotion outside thecave, and tricking her into believing that they were welcoming a deity even greater than herself. Thissuperior deity was in fact, Amaterasu’s own reflection in a mirror.AMATERASUEMERGESThis tryptych shows themoment when Amaterasuemerges from her cave, amazedat the noise that is going onoutside in the darkness. As sheappears, the world is floodedwith light and Ta-jikawa-wo,hauling back the stone at theentrance, is ready to graspher hand and draw heroutside completely.Omohi-kaneThis is probably Omohi-kane,the wise “thought-combining”deity. He was the deep-thinkingson of Takamimusubi, one ofthe five original gods. It washe who thought up theingenious plans to arouseAmaterasu’s interest andbring her out of her cave.Sake tubThe goddess Ama-no-Uzume danceson an upturned sake tub. Sake appearsin several myths, including the oneabout how Susano won his wife (seeabove). Here, the dancing floor reflectsthe licentious nature of the dance itself.Hand-strength-male-deityTa-jikawa-wo, whose name means Hand-strength-male-deity, pulls aside the rock doorbehind which Amaterasu has hidden herself.He then takes her by the hand and leads herout, while another deity fastens a magic ropeacross the opening to prevent her return.Music of the godsThe gods kept time for theprovocative dance of Ama-no-Uzume by beating on a greatdrum, thus founding a traditionof music and dance in Shintoritual known as Iwata kagura,music of the gods.CockerelThe first plan to arouseAmaterasu’s curiosity was tosimulate a false dawn byprovoking cockerels—“long-crying birds”—to crow.Without the life-giving warmth ofAmaterasu, the sun, theworld fell into chaos;nothing grew, andevil spirits ran riot.Amaterasu’s reappearanceensured the future of theearth and thereafter, sheonly disappeared at night.“As you have blessed the ruler’s reign, making it longand enduring, so I bow my neck as a cormorantin search of fish to worship you and give you praise.”Harvest Prayer to Amaterasu at Ise
  • 121. AmaterasuHidesAway•123Sun GoddessChief goddess of the JapaneseShinto religion, Amaterasu isconsidered to be the ancestor ofthe Japanese imperial family.She has been worshiped atIse since early times.Although Susano is not evil,he has a tempestuous nature. Forexample, when the food goddess,Ogetsu-no-hime, gave him foodthat she had produced from withinher own body, he killed her inanger. But from her corpse grewthe staple foods of Japan: rice,millet, wheat, red beans, and soybeans. A version of this story is alsotold about Susano’s brother Tsuki-yomi, the moon god, but it accordsbetter with Susano’s violent nature.Izanagi, Amaterasu’s father,gave a mirror to each of hischildren, instructing them tokneel before it every morningand evening and examinethemselves. If they had evilthoughts, the mirror would becloudy. A Japanese proverbsays, “When the mirror isdim, the soul is unclean.”MirrorA sacred mirror, madeespecially by the HeavenlySmith, hangs from thesacred sakaki tree. As sheemerges, Amaterasu isblinded by the reflectionof her own light and istricked into believing thatthe gods are celebratingthe arrival of a newgoddess, even greaterand brighter thanshe is herself.Sakaki treeThis tree is the 500-branchedsacred sakaki tree that the godsdug up from Heavenly Mount Kagu.They set it up outside the cave andhung it with white cloth streamersas offerings to the goddess.Vocal audienceThe gods gather, “eight-hundred myriad”strong, and create a cheerful racket. WhenAmaterasu asks why they are laughing,since the world is now in darkness, theyreply that they are welcoming a goddesswho shines more brightly than herself.Ama-no-UzumeAma-no-Uzume performs a kind of striptease outsidethe cave, provoking great hilarity among the gods, andcuriosity on the part of Amaterasu who has no ideawhat is happening. Because of her role in this myth,she is often described as a dawn goddess, but hername means “Terrible Female of Heaven.”AmaterasuIntrigued by the noise and laughteroutside, Amaterasu emerges from thecave to see what all the fuss is about,bringing light back into the world.Susano, the Storm GodOnce Amaterasu had returned to the world, the gods punishedSusano by cutting off his beard and his finger- and toenails andbanishing him to the human world. Here, he saw a pair of chopsticksfloating down the river and set off to find who owned them. He soonfound the owners—an elderly couple devastated at losing sevendaughters to the appetite of an eight-headed dragon, who was about toeat their last child, Kusa-nada-hime, the Rice Paddy Princess. Susanodecided to rescue her, so he changed the girl into a comb, put her inhis hair, and filled eight tubs of sake for the dragon. The dragon drankall the sake and fell asleep. Susano then cut off the dragon’s heads witha magic sword, aine no murakomo, meaning “Clouds of Heaven,”which he had found in its tail. Then he sent the sword to Amaterasuas a token of submission. Together with Amaterasu’s mirror andjewels, it formed the Japanese imperial regalia. Susano then returnedthe Rice Paddy Princess to human form and made her his wife.Susano no Mikoto preparing to kill the eight-headed dragon, 1832, by Keisei.
  • 122. TheGreekGods•124Hera••x••mMarsKeyMarried(Nymph)DescriptiveRomannameUnionOlympiangodsAtlas•x•HesperusHesperidesHephaestusVulcanmAphroditeVenusTheGreekGodsThisfamilytree,startingwiththeunionoftheskyandearth,UranusandGaia,showstherelationshipsbetweentheGreekgodsandgoddessesmentionedinthisbook.ThefourthgenerationbecamethedeitiesofMountOlympusandwerethefirsttohavechildrenwithmortals,thusmixingthedivineandhumanbloodlines.TheOlympianswereledbyZeus,whowasessentiallyaskygod.HisbrothersHadesandPoseidonruledtheunderworldandthesea—theearthwasheldincommon.Zeusisalsocalled“fatherofgodsandmen,”andhisloveaffairs—toomanytolisthere—resultedinthebirthofnumerousgodsandheroes.Europa(Mortal)AriadnePhaedraMinotaur(Half-bull,half-man)xBullofPoseidonKingMinosmPasiphaëLeto(Titan)Callisto(Nymph)Maia(Nymph)Alcmene(Mortal)Danaë(Mortal)Leda(Mortal)Dione(Goddess)Themis(Titan)Mnemosyne(Titan)Metis(SeaNymph)Semele(Mortal)Apollo•x•Coronis(Nymph)ArtemisDianaHermesMercurymDaughterofDryopsHeraclesHerculesmHebePerseusmAndromedaAresxPanFaunusArcoAsclepiusDionysusBacchusAphrodite•x•Anchises(Mortal)HelenmMenelaus•x•ParisClytemnestramAgamemnonCastorPolydeucesPolluxFatesAthenaMinervaAeneasErosCupidTheNineMusesCadmusmHarmonia(Mortal)(Goddess)TheseusmAriadnemPhaedraDemeterCeresPoseidonNeptune•x•Aethra(Mortal)HadesPlutoHestiaVestaHeraJunomPersephoneProserpineHebemHeraclesHerculesEileithyaAresMarsZeusJupiterAristaeusmAutonoëActaeonGaia•x•UranusOtherGiantsTitansSeaNymphsCyclopesLetoEosHeliosSeleneLunaEpimetheusmPandoraCoeus•x•PhoebeMnemosyneThemisCriusThea•x•HyperionPrometheusOceanus•x•TethysCronus•x•RheaSaturn Menoetiusm•x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x••x•xIapetus•••x•Asia
  • 123. AAboriginal myths 7, 9, 10, 102-5Achates 67Achilles 25, 39, 62Acrisius, King of Argos 44, 45Actaeon 36-7, 124Adad 18Adanhu 89Admetus, King 38Adonis 27, 32-3Aeëtes, King of Colchis 52, 53Aegeus, King of Athens 52, 54, 57Aegir 73Aegisthus 60Aeneas 11, 27, 63, 66-7, 124Aeneid, The 66Aeon 29Aesir 68, 69, 70Aeson, King 52Aethra 54, 124Aflheim 70African myths 7-8, 86-9, 90 afterlife 10-11Agamemnon, King of Mycenae 60, 61, 62, 63, 124Agbe 88Agbè 91Agè 88, 89Agenor 45Aglaia 27Agni 112, 113Agravain, Sir 84, 85Agwé 90, 91Ahriman 6-7, 20-1Ahura Mazda 6-7, 20-1Aido-Hwedo 6, 88-9, 91Aigle 51Aino 76-7Ainu people 7, 120Aioina 120Airavata 108Alaric, King of the Goths 29Alcinous, King of the Phaeacians 64Alcmene 44, 50, 124Ama-no-Uzume 122, 123Amaterasu 120, 122-3Ammit 17Ammon 47Amphytryon, King 50Amulius 67Amun 12, 13, 47Amun-Min 12Amun-Re 12, 14Amycus, King 53, 55Anansi 87Ananta 109, 110Ancaeus 52Ancestors, Aboriginal 10Anchises 11, 27, 66, 67, 124Androgeus 56Andromeda 46-7, 124Andvari 73The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 79Anglo-Saxons 8-9Angrboda 71Anhay 14ankh 12Anna 66Anni 77Antigone 49Antiope 55Anu 18Anubis 16, 17Aphrodite (Venus) 22, 23, 25, 26-7, 28, 32-3, 61, 62-3, 124Apollo 22, 23, 25, 31, 34, 35, 38-9, 40, 41, 124Apollonius 53Apophis 14Apsyrtus 52, 53Apuleius 9, 34Arachne 61Ararat, Mount 7Arcadia 42Arco 36Arctic Circle 96-7Ares (Mars) 22, 26-7, 32, 33, 51, 124Argo 52-3, 124Argonauts 52-3, 64Argos 46, 47Argus 53Argus (dog) 42, 63Ariadne 55, 56-7, 58-9, 124Aristaeus 30, 31, 36, 124Arjuna 111Arnhem Land 104, 105Artemis (Diana) 15, 22, 23, 36-7, 43, 55, 124Arthur, King 10, 74, 80-1, 83, 84-5Arun 86Ascanius 66Asclepius 39, 55, 64, 124Asgard 68, 69, 70, 71Ashanti people 8, 87Ask 68, 69Asphodel, Plain of 31Asteria 37Asterion 44Asterius, King 45, 56, 57Astraeus 23Asuras 108, 109Ataraga 106Athamas, King of Boeotia 52Athena (Minerva) 22, 40, 124 and Asclepius 39 and Daedalus 57 Hephaestus and 27 Jason and the Golden Fleece 52, 53 the judgment of Paris 62-3 and Marsyas 41 and Odysseus’ return home 64, 65 and Pandora 25 and Perseus and Andromeda 46 and Prometheus 24 and weaving competition 61Athens 42, 54-5, 56, 62Atlas 23, 24, 50, 51, 124Atli 72Atropos 30Atum 14auas 97Augeian stables 51Australian Aborigines 102-5Autonoë 36, 124Avalon 84, 85avatars 8, 110-11Ayida Wedo 91Ayodya 114Az 21Azacca 90, 91Aztecs 6, 7, 10, 11, 98-9BBabylonians 7, 27Bacchus see DionysusBalarama 111Balder 11, 70, 71Bali 110Barsom twigs 20Bassarids 58Bastet 15Bedivere, Sir 84Belatucadros 78Bellerophon 47Bellin-Bellin 103Benu bird 6, 12, 13Beowulf 72, 73Bergelmir 68Berndt, Catherine H. 105Bertilak, Sir 83Bhagavad Gita 111Bharata 111, 114Bhrigu 112Bhuteswara 113Bible 7Bifrost 70Binbeal 103Blind Horus 13Blue-tongued Lizard 102Boann 79Bolivia 11“Book of the Dead” 14, 15, 17Boreas 23, 43Born-for-Water 92, 93Bors, Sir 80, 81Boudicca 78Brabant, Duke of 74Brahma 108, 109, 110, 113, 114, 115Brahmaputra river 113Bran the Blessed 80Brangain 82Brazil 90Brer Rabbit 87Bridge of Judgement 21Brisingamen 71Bron 80Bronze Ages 25Brutus 63Brynhild (Brunhild) 72, 74Buddha 111, 120Buffalo Dance 94-5Bunjil 103CCadmus 36, 49, 124Caesar, Julius 79Calais 53calendars 7, 13, 99Calliope 30, 31, 32Callisto 36, 124Calypso 64Camelot 84Camlann, battle of 84, 85candomblé cult 90Cape Stewart 104Carthage 66-7Cassandra 60, 62Cassiopeia 47Castor 53, 60, 61, 124Catholic Church 90cats 15Cebren 63Celtic myths 10, 78-85 death of King Arthur 84-5 Holy Grail 80-1 Lord of the Beasts 78-9 Tristan and Iseult 82-3centaurs 39Cepheus 47Cephissus, river 33Cerberus 28, 31, 35, 48, 50, 51Cercyon, King 55Ceres see DemeterCernunnos 78-9Ceryneian hind 51Chac-Xib-Chac 100Chalchiuhtlicue 98Chandra 108, 109, 113Chang E 116Chang Kuo-lao 119Changing Woman 92Charon 31, 35Charybdis 65Cheiron 25, 39, 51, 52Cheyenne 95Chicomecoatl 98Chilam Balam 6Chile 101Chimaera 47, 48Chinese myths 7, 116-19Chios 59Christ 43, 80, 81, 91Christianity 79, 80, 95Chrysaor 47Chrysothemis 60Chryssipus 48Chukchi people 96, 97Chung Li Chu’an 118, 119Churning of the Ocean 108-9Ciaran, St 79Cinvat Bridge 21Cinyras 32Circe 64, 65Clashing Rocks 53Clio 30, 38-9Clotho 30Clytemnestra 60, 61, 124Coatlicue 98Cocalus, King 57Codex Borgia 98-9Coffin texts 14Colchis 52, 53Conall Cernach 79Condwiramurs 74Corbenik 81Core 28Corinth 27, 52Coronis 39, 124Cortés, Hernando 98Corythus 63cosmic serpent 6, 9, 88-9Coyolxauhqui 98Coyote 8creation myths 6, 7-8 Ainu 120 Chinese 117 Chukchi 97 Egyptian12-13 Greek 23 Hindu 109 Mandan 94 Norse 68 Polynesian 106Creon, King 49, 52Crete 45, 55, 56Creusa 66Crocale 37Crommynian Sow 48Crommyon 54Cronos (Saturn) 22, 23, 26, 39, 124Cuba 90Cuchulain 78Cupid 34-5, 66, 74 see also ErosCyane 28, 29Cyclopes 39, 64Cyprus 26, 27, 32Cyrene 31DDa Zodji 88Daedalus 56, 57Dagda 79Dai, Lady 116Dain 71Damballah Wedo 90, 91Danaë 44-5, 61, 124Daphne 38-9Dasharatha, King 111, 114Daughter of the Air 77Daughter of Dryops 124Daylight Boy 92Daylight Girl 92death 10-11, 89Deimos 27Deiphobe 38Delphi 37, 39, 48, 49, 50Demeter (Ceres) 9, 10, 22, 23, 28, 29Demodocus 27Densmore, Frances 95Deucalion 7, 24Devaki 111Devas 108, 109Devi 9Dhanvantari 108, 109Di Jun 116Diana see ArtemisDiarmuid 82Dictys 44Dido, Queen of Carthage 66-7Dio Cassius 78Diomedes 51Dione 124Dionysus (Bacchus) 8, 22, 23, 27, 28, 30, 40, 41, 56, 58-9, 124Dioscuri 53, 61Dis Pater 79Divine Being 97Djo 88dolphins 59, 78dragons 117, 120Dreamer religion 8Dreamtime 9, 102-3Driving of Fraích’s Cattle 79Druids 79Drust 82Dryope 42Dua clan 105Duat 14Duneyr 71Durathror 71Durga 9, 108, 112Dutty, Boukman 90Dvalin 71EEa 18, 19Easter Island 107Ebo 88Echidna 48, 51, 54Echo 33Ector, Sir 84Eddas 72Egyptian myths, 6, 9, 10-11, 12-17 the Creation 12-13 Osiris, Isis and Horus 16-17Re the Sun God 14-15Ehecatl 98, 99Eight Immortals 10, 118-19Elaine 80Electra 60Eleusinian Mysteries 9, 10, 23, 29Eleusis 29, 55Eliade, Mircea 6Elinus, king of Scotland 75Elsa of Brabant 74-5Elysium 11, 31Embla 68, 69Emperor of the Eastern Heavens 117Enkidu 18-19Enlil 18, 19Eos 23, 124Epic of Gilgamesh 7, 9, 18-19Epimetheus 24, 25, 124Epona 79Erato 30Ericthonius 27Eridanos, river 50Eris 27, 63Erishkegal 18, 19Eros (Cupid) 22, 23, 124 and Aphrodite 26, 27, 32 Apollo and Daphne 38, 39 the judgement of Paris 62 Pan and Syrinx 43 Perseus and Andromeda 46 the rape of Persephone 28 Zeus and Danaë 45Erymanthian boar 51Erytheia 51Erzulie Danto 91Erzulie Freda 90, 91Eshu 8, 86-7, 88Etiocles 49Etzel, King of the Huns 74Euanthes 58Euronyme 23Europa 36, 44, 45, 56, 61, 124Eurycleia 65Eurydice 30-1Eurydice (daughter of Lacedon) 45Eurylochus 64Eurystheus, King 50, 51Euterpe 30Evil Spirit 94Excalibur 84Expedit, St 90FFafnir 72, 73Fates 30, 45, 68, 124Faunus see PanFaustulus 67Fenrir the Wolf 70-1Fianna 82Field of Reeds 11, 14Finn MacCumhal 82First Creator 7, 8, 94, 95First Man 92First Woman 92Fisher King 80, 81Flaucis 52flood myths 7, 19, 24, 94-5Fon people 6, 7-8, 9, 88-9, 90, 91Freyja 69, 71Freyr 68, 69Friedrich of Telramund 74, 75Frigg 69Fu Shen 119Fu Xi 117Fuji, Mount 120-1Furies 26, 31, 48, 60Fusang tree 117GGaheris, Sir 84, 85Gaia (Mother Earth) 22, 23, 24, 43, 51, 64, 124Galahad, Sir 80, 81IndexIndex•125
  • 124. Index•126Ganesh 112Ganges, river 110, 113Ganymede 23Gareth, Sir 84, 85Garuda 8, 110, 115Gauls 79Gawain, Sir 83, 84, 85 Gawain and the Green Knight 83Gayomart 20, 21Gbonka 86Geb 9, 12, 13, 15General Death 91Germanic myths 69 Lohengrin 74–5 Sigurd the Dragon-slayer 72-3Geryon 51Ghana 87Ghede 91Ghede Nimbo 90Ghedes 90Giants 26Gilgamesh 7, 9, 11, 18-19Gjuki, King of the Niflungs 72Glastonbury 85Glaucus 56Gleipnir 70Goanna 102, 105goddesses: Aztec 98 Great Mother 8-9 mother goddess 79gods: creation myths 6, 7-8 Egyptian 12 Greek 22-3 Inca 100 Norse 68-9 Voodoo 90-1Golden Age 25Golden Fleece 52-3Gong Gong 117Gorgons 44, 46, 47, 62Gorgophone 60Gottfried 75Graces 27Graiae 46Grail 74, 75, 79, 80-1, 85Gram 73Grani 73Grania 82Great Mother 8-9Great One 11Great Spirit 94, 95Greek myths 7, 9, 10, 22-67 Adonis and Aphrodite 32-3 Aphrodite and Ares 26-7 Apollo and Daphne 38-9 Artemis and Actaeon 36-7 creation myths 23 Dionysus and Ariadne 58-9 gods 22-3 Jason and the Golden Fleece 52-3 judgment of Paris 62-3 King Midas 40-1 labors of Hercules 50-1 Leda and the swan 60-1 Minotaur 56-7 Odysseus 64-5 Oedipus 48-9 Orpheus and Eurydice 30-1 Pan and Syrinx 42-3 Perseus and Andromeda 46-7 Prometheus 24-5 rape of Persephone 28-9 Theseus 54-5 Zeus and Danaë 44-5Green Knight 83Grendel 72Gu 88, 89, 91Guarayú Indians 11Gudrun 72Guinevere 80, 81, 84, 85gull-maiden 96Gundestrup cauldron 78-9Gunn 68Gunnar 72Gunther 74Gunwinggu people 9, 105HHa 12, 13Hades (Pluto) 22, 23, 27, 30, 124 and Ariadne 59 and Asclepius 39 and Oedipus 48 Orpheus and Eurydice 30, 31 rape of Persephone 28, 9 and Theseus 55Haemon 49Hagen 74Haiti 90-1Haku, Mount 120Han Hsiang-tzu 119Hanuman 113, 114, 115Hare 87Harmonia 27, 124Hathor 15, 16Haumaka 107Haumia 107Hawaii 107Hebe 23, 124Hecate 37Hector 62Hecuba, Queen 62Heimdall 71Hel 69, 70, 71Helen 55, 60, 61, 62, 63, 66, 124Helicon, Mount 30, 33Helios 23, 25, 26, 124Helle 52Henry of Brabant 75Henry the Fowler 74, 75Hephaestus (Vulcan) 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 124Hera (Juno) 22, 23, 27, 124 and Callisto 36 and Echo 33 golden apples 51 and Hercules 50 Jason and the Golden Fleece 52, 53 the judgment of Paris 62-3 and Semele 59 and the Sphinx 48 and Zeus 44, 45Hercules Hercules 10, 23, 25, 39, 44, 124 and the Argonauts 53 labors of Hercules 50-1 and Pan 42 and Theseus 54, 55Heraclitus 39, 59Hermaphroditus 27Hermes (Mercury) 22, 23, 26, 27, 42, 124 and Asclepius 39 and Dionysus 59 Jason and the Golden Fleece 52 the judgment of Paris 62, 63 lyres 40 Orpheus and Eurydice 31 and Pandora 25 Perseus and Andromeda 46, 47Hermod 11Herne the Hunter 78Hero Twins 100-1Herodotus 15, 27Hesiod 26, 64Hesperia 51Hesperides 50-1, 124Hesperus 50, 124Hestia (Vesta) 22, 23, 124Hike 15Hina 106, 107Hindu myths, 7, 8, 10, 108-15Hine-hau-one 107Hine-nui-te-po 106, 107Hine-titama 107Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons 51, 55Hippolytus 39, 55, 57Hiranya-Kashipu 110Hiranyaksha 110Hjalprek, King of Jutland 73Ho Hsiang-ku 118Hod 70Hoddmimir’s Wood 70Hogni 72Holy Grail 74, 75, 79, 80-1, 85Holy People 9, 92, 93Homer 53, 56, 63Honir 73Horn Dance 79Horus 13, 14, 15, 16-17Hottentots 89Hotu Matua 107Hou Yi 116, 117Hreidmar 73Hrothgar, King of the Danes 72Hsien 118Huginn 69Huitzilopochtli 98Humbaba 18Hun Batz 101Hun Chuen 101Hun Hunahpu 100Hunahpu 100-1Hunefer 17Hyacinthus 38-9Hyale 37Hydra 48, 51, 63Hygeia 39Hylas 53Hymen 31IIarbas, King of Libya 67Iatiku 8Icarus 57Ida, Mount 62, 63Idas 61Idmon 52Ifa 86Igaluk 97Igraine 84, 85Iku 86Iliad, The 56, 63Ilithyia 32Ilmarinen 77Ilmatar 77Inanna 9, 19 see also IshtarIncas 100Indian myths 9, 10, 108-15 avatars of Vishnu 110-11 the Churning of the Ocean 108-9 Rama and Sita 114-15 Shiva and his family 112-13Indra 115Inti 100Intulo the Lizard 11, 89Inuit 96, 97Io 42Iobates, King 47Iphicles 50Iphigenia 60Ireland 79, 82Iris 67Iron Age 25Ischys 39Iseult 82-3Iseult of the White Hands 82, 83Ishtar 9, 18, 19, 27, 33Isidore, St 90Isis 9, 10, 13, 14, 16-17Ismène 49Ismenus 37Izanagi 120, 121, 122, 123Izanami 121, 122JJade Emperor 118James the Greater, St 90Janaka, King 114Jangala clan 102-3Japanese myths, 7, 120-3Jason 39, 52-3, 64Jasper Blowsnake 10Jataka Tales 111Jatayu 115Jester God 100Jocasta 48-9Jormungand 71Jotunheim 70Joukahainen 76Juno 66, 67 see also HeraJupiter 66 see also ZeusKKagu, Mount 123Kagutsuchi 121Kaguya-hime 121Kailasa, Mount 112, 113Kalevala, The 76Kali 9Kalkin 8, 111Kama 112Kamsa, King 111Kamui 7, 120kappa 121Kardeiz 74Kartavirya 111Kasyapa 108Kay, Sir 84Keres 8Khepri 14Kirrkirrmanu 102kitchen god 118Knossos 56Koori peoples 103Koryak people 96, 97Koururu 107Kranyatz 7Kriemhild 74Krishna 111Kshatriya 111Kun Lun Mountains 116, 118, 119Kunapipi 104Kunitokotachi 120Kunwinkju people 105Kurent 7Kurma 108, 110Kusa-nada-hime 123Kuula 107Llabyrinth 56-7, 59Lachesis 30Ladon 51Ladon, river 42, 43Lady of the Lake 84Laius, King 48, 49Lakshmana 111, 114, 115Lakshmi 8, 108, 109, 110, 112, 114Lan Ts’ai-ho 119Lancelot, Sir 80, 81, 84, 85Lanka 114, 115Lao Tzu 119Latromis 58Lay of Grimnir, The 70, 71Lazarus 90Leda 60-1, 124Legba 88, 90, 91Lemminkäinen 77Leodegrance, King 81Leto 23, 36, 37, 124Leucippus 39Li Hai 119Li T’ieh-kuai 119Lif 70, 71Lifthrasir 70, 71Liriope 33Lisa 8, 88, 89Lohengrin 74-5Loki 8, 11, 69, 70, 71, 73, 86Lone Man 7, 10, 94-5Longinus 81Lönnrot, Elias 76Lono 107Lord of the Beasts 78-9Lot, King of Orkney 85Lotus eaters 64Louhi 76, 77Lu Shen 119Lu Tung-pin 118, 119Lucius 9Lug 81Lugh 78, 79Lumaluma 9, 104-5Luna see SeleneLupercalia festival 42Lynceus 53, 61MMaat 12, 17Mabinogion, The 79, 80Macaw Owl 101Madoc 95Maenads 30, 31, 42, 58Magni 70Mahabharata, The 112Mahadevi 9, 108, 112Mahisha 108Maia 23, 42Maimed King 80, 81Malory, Sir Thomas, Morte d’Arthur 80, 81, 85Mama Cocha 100Mama Kilya 100Mandan myths 7, 8, 10, 94-5Mandara, Mount 108, 109Mangurug 105Manihiki 106Manu 7, 109, 110Manu, Mount 14Maoris 106Marassa 91Maricha 115Mark, King of Cornwall 82-3Maroons 90Mars 67 see also AresMarsyas 40, 41Mary, Virgin 90, 91Mashu 19Mashya 20, 21Mashyoi 20, 21Matilda 75Matres 79Matsya 7, 110Maui 10, 11, 106-7Mawu 8, 88-9Mayan myths 6, 11, 100-1Medea 52, 53, 54Medusa 39, 44, 46, 47, 62Melanippus 54Melia 37Meliae 26Melpomene 30Melusine 75Menelaus, King of Sparta 60, 61, 62Menoeceus 49Menoetius 24Mercury 66 see also HermesMerlin 81, 84Meru, Mount 108, 110Mesoamerican myths 99Mesopotamia 9, 18-19Metis 22, 62Mictlan 98, 99Mictlantecuhtli 98, 99Midas, King of Phrygia 40-1Midgard (Middle Earth) 68, 70, 73Milingimbi 104Mimir 71Minamoto no Yoritomo 121Minerva see AthenaMinoans 59Minos, King of Crete 44, 45, 56-7, 124Minotaur 51, 55, 56-7, 59 124Mithra 21Mithras cult 21Mjollnir 69Mmoatia 87Mmoboro 87Mnemosyne 30, 124Moccus 79Modi 70Monkey Twins 101Monster Slayer 92, 93Montsalvat 74Moon’s wife 97Mopsus 53Mordred, Sir 84, 85Morgan le Fay 83, 85Morgause 84, 85Morholt 82Morrigan 79Mother Earth see GaiaMother goddess 8-9, 79Mountainway myth 9, 92-3Muninn 69Murrumbidgee river tribe 102Muses 30, 41, 124Muspell 68, 70Mutu 107Mycenae 46, 60Myrrha see SmyrnaMysteries of Eleusis 9, 10, 23, 29NNahui Ollin 6, 7Naiads 37Nana-Buluku 8, 88Nandi 112Nantosuelta 79Naples 65Narasimha 110Narcissus 33Native American myths 6, 7, 8, 92-5Nausica 64Nausitheus 56Navajo 6, 9, 92-3Naxos 56, 57, 58-9Nebertcher 6, 12Neith 15Nemean Lion 48, 51Nemesis 60Neolithic 9Nephele 37Nephthys 13, 16Neptune see PoseidonNereids 37, 46Nereus 50, 51Ngalyod 105The Nibelungenlied 72, 74Nidavellir 70Nidhogg 70, 71Niflheim 68, 70, 71Niger, river 86Nile, river 15, 16Nimue 84Nisir, Mount 19Njord 69Noah 7, 95Norns 68, 70, 71
  • 125. Index•127Norse myths, 7, 68-77 gods 68-9 World Tree myth 70-1Nü Wa 117Nun 12, 13, 14, 15Nut 9, 12, 13, 14Nyame 8, 87OO-ke-hée-de 94Oba 86Obatala 7, 8, 86Odin 11, 68-9, 70, 71, 72, 73Odysseus 22, 27, 31, 62, 64-5 Odyssey, The 27Oedipus 48-9Oenone 63Oenopion 58Ogetsu-no-hime 123Ogoun 90, 91Ogun 86Okeepa ceremony 94-5Old Man 77Olmecs 99Olodumare 86Olorun 7Olympus, Mount 22-3, 24, 30Ometeotl 99Omohi-kane 122Omphale, Queen of Lydia 42One Death 100, 101Onini 87Onogoro 121Onyankopon 8, 87Orestes 60Orion 97Orpheus 30-1, 53, 64Orphism 30Ortrud 75Osebo 87Oshun 86Osiris 10, 13, 14, 15, 16-17Otter 73Ovid 28, 31, 32, 36, 45Oya 86, 87Oyo 86, 87PQPachacamac 100Pactolus, river 41Padma 109, 110Pan 23, 33, 40, 41, 42-3, 58, 124Pan Gu 117Pandora 24, 25, 124Papa 106, 107Papa God 91Papa Legba 91Papsukal 19Papyrus of Anhay 14Parashu-Rama 111, 115Paris 61, 62-3, 124Parsifal 74Parthenope 65Parvati 9, 108, 112, 113Parzifal 74Pasiphaë 56, 59, 124Patala 110Patrick, St 90Patroclus 62Pegasus 47Peleus 53, 62, 63Pelias 52Pelion, Mount 39Pelles, King 80, 81Penelope 42, 65Peneus 38Pentheus, King of Thebes 58Perceval, Sir 80, 81Perigune 54Periphetes 54Perlesvaus 80Perseids 46Persephone (Proserpine) 9, 10, 22, 23, 124 and Adonis 32-3 and Ariadne 59 and Oedipus 48 Orpheus and Eurydice 30, 31 the rape of Persephone 28-9 and the sirens 65 and Theseus 55Perseus 29, 44, 45, 46-7, 124Peru 7, 100, 101Peter, St 90Petro voodoo cult 90, 91Phaea 54Phaeacian Games 27Phaeax 56Phaedra 55, 56, 57, 61, 124Phaethon 25Phiale 37Philoctetes 63Philyra 39Phineas 47Phobos 27Phoebus 39Phrixus 52, 53Picts 82Pillan 101Pirithous, King of the Lapiths 55Pitjatjantjara people 103Pitys 43Pleiades 42Pluto see HadesPoitiers, Raymond de 75Polybus, King of Corinth 48Polydectes 44, 46Polydeuces 53, 60, 61, 124Polymnia 30Polynesian myths 10, 106-7Polynices 49Polyphemus 64Popol Vuh 100Port Stephens 103Poseidon (Neptune) 22, 23, 26 Bull of Poseidon 54, 124 and Hippolytus 55 and the Minotaur 56 and Odysseus’ return home 64 Perseus and Andromeda 46, 47 and Theseus 54 Trojan war 63Pressina 75Priam, King of Troy 62Priapus 27, 58Procrustes 55Proetus 44Prometheus 7, 10, 24-5, 39, 50, 124Proserpine 67 see also PersephoneProteus, King of Argus 45, 47Proteus (sea god) 31Pryderi 81Psecas 37Psyche 34-5, 74Purusha 109Putana 111Pyramid texts 14Pyrrha 7, 24Pythia 39Quest of the Holy Grail 80Quetzalcoatl 6, 10, 11, 98-9Quetzalpetlatl 98RRada Voodoo 90Radha 110, 111Radin, Paul 10Ragnarok 7, 11, 68, 70, 71Rahu 108, 109Rainbow Snake 102, 104, 105Rama 8, 10, 110, 111, 113, 114-15Ramayana 113, 114-15Ran 73Rangi 106, 107Raratonga 106Ratatosk 71Ravana 111, 114, 115Raven 97Re 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14-15, 16, 17Re-Harakhty 15, 17Reared-within-the- Mountain 92-3Regin the Smith 72, 73Remus 67Renenutet 12Rhadamanthys 44, 45Rhanis 37Rhea 22, 23, 124Rhea Silvia 67Rhine, river 74Rice Paddy Princess 123Rig Veda 109Roman myths, 9, 11 Cupid and Psyche 34-5 Dido and Aeneas 66-7 Mithras cult 21Rome, founding of 67Romulus 67Rongo 107Rota 68Round Table 81, 82, 83Rudra 112, 113Rukmini 110, 111Rulte’nnin 97SSakaki tree 123Samedi, Baron 90, 91Sampo 76, 77Sankara 9santería cult 90Saoshyant 21Sarpedon 44, 45Satrughna 111Saturn see CronosSaturn (planet) 112satyrs 58scarab beetle 13, 14Sciron 55Scylla 65Sedna 96, 97Segbo 89Sekhmet 15Selene 37, 42, 124Semele 23, 59, 124Sengen-Sama 120Serbia 7Seth 13, 16, 17Seven Death 100, 101Shamesh 18Shango 86, 87Sharanahua 101Shatrughna 114Shinto religion 120, 122Shiva 9, 78, 110, 112-13Shou Hsing 118, 119Shu 12, 13, 15Shurrupak 19Sia 15Sibyl of Cumae 67Sicily 28, 29, 57, 64Siduri 19Siegfried 74 see also SigurdSigmund 72, 73Sigurd 72-3, 74Silenus 41, 58Silver Age 25Simonides 44Sinis 54Sirens 53, 64-5Sisyphus 31Sita 110, 114-15Skanda 112, 113Skuld 68Slavonic myths 7Sleipnir 11, 69, 73Smohalla 8Smyrna (Myrrha) 32Snake-Woman 101Soma 108, 113Sophocles 48South American myths 98-101Sown Men 49Sparta 60, 61Sphinx 20, 48-9Spider Woman 8, 92, 93Sraosha 20Staphylus 58Sturluson, Snorri 68Stygian nymphs 46Stymphalian Birds 10, 51Styx, river 31, 35, 62Sucellus 79Sugriva 114Sumerians 7sun gods 14-15, 25, 92Surabhi 109Surpanakha 115Surt 70Surya 113Susano 8, 122, 123Svaldifari 69Svartalfheim 70Sword in the Stone 84Sychaeus 66Syrinx 41, 42-3TTa-jikawa-wo 122Tadatsune 120, 121Tain Bo Cuailnge 78Taka-okami 120Takamimusubi 122Talking God 92, 93Talos 57Tammuz 19, 27, 33, 43Tamoi 11Tane 106, 107Tang Gu 117Tangaroa 106, 107Tangen 97Tantalus 31, 60, 61Tantris 83Taoism 10, 118-19Taraka 112, 113Taranga 106Tartarus 22, 23, 24, 31Tauropolus 58Tawhiri 107Tefnut 12, 13Teiresias 49, 65Telamon 53Telegonus 65Telemachus 65ten suns of Heaven 116-17Tennyson, Alfred, The Passing of Arthur 85Tenochtlican 98Teotihuacan 7Terpsichore 30Tezcatlipoca 98Thailand 10Thalia 30Thamus 43Thebes 48-9Theseus 10, 54-5, 56-7, 58-9, 61, 124Thestius, King 60Thetis 25, 58, 62, 63Thoas 58Thor 68, 69, 70, 71Thoth 13, 15, 16, 17Thrace 64Tiber, river 67Timandra 61Tiphys 52Titans 22, 23, 24, 31Titicaca, Lake 100Tityus 37Tiw 69Tlaloc 99Tlalxicco 98Tlatzeotl 98Tmolus 40, 41Tollan 98Triptolemus 10, 29Tristan 82-3Tristan of Beroul 83Trojan war 62, 63, 64Troy 61, 62, 63, 66Tsai Shen 119Ts’ao Kuo-chiu 118Tsao-wang 118Tsuki-yomi 122, 123Tu 107Tuatha de Danann 79Ture 87Tu’u ko ihu 107Tyndareus of Sparta 60, 61Typhoeus 29Typhon 51, 54Tyr 69, 70, 71UUccaihsravas 109Uluru 102Ulysses see OdysseusUma 9underworld 10-11 Aeneas in 67 Egypt 14, 16 Greek 31 Orpheus and Eurydice 30-1 Xibalba 100-1Unwaba the Chameleon 11, 89Uraeus 15Urania 30Uranus 22, 23, 24, 26, 64, 124Urmila 114Urshanabi 19Ursule 91Uruk 18Usert 16Ute warriors 92, 93Uther Pendragon, King 81, 84Utnapishtim 7, 11, 18, 19Utsiti 8VVaikuntha 8Väinämöinen 76-7Vak 109Valhalla 11, 68Vali 70Valin 114Valkyries 68Vamana 110Vanaheim 70Vanir 68, 69, 70Varaha 110Varuna 113Varuni 109Vasuki 108, 109, 112Vayu 113Ve 68Vedic gods 112Venus 34-5, 66 see also Aphrodite“Venus,” Celtic 79Venus of Willendorf 9Vesta see HestiaVeteris 79vevers 91Vidar 70, 71Vikings 11, 68-9Vili 68Viracocha 100Virgil 11, 66Vishnu 7, 8, 108, 109, 110- 11, 113, 114, 115Vision Serpent 100Volsunga Saga 72Volsungs 73Voluptas 35Voodoo gods 90-1Vucub Hunahpu 100Vulcan see HephaestusWWagner, Richard 72, 74, 75Wales 79, 82, 95Wanapam 8Wang, Empress 118Warlpiri people 102-3Water-lily Jaguar 100Waugeluk sisters 104Wedjat eye 13Wennefer 16West African myths 7-8, 86- 9, 90West Indies 87White Shell Woman 92Widekund 75Winnebago Medicine Rite 10Woden 69Wolfram von Eschenbach 74, 75World Serpent 70, 71World Tree myth 70-1Wotan 69Wu, Empress 118, 119XYZXbalanque 100-1Xi He 116Xibalba 100-1Xochiquetzal 98Xolotl 99Yewa 89Yggdrasil 68, 70-1Yiridja clan 104Ymir 68Yolngu people 105Yoruba people 7, 8, 86-7Yoshitsune 121Zande people 87Zephyrus 23, 35, 38-9Zetes 53Zeus (Jupiter) 7, 22, 23, 124 Aphrodite and Ares 26 and Artemis 36 and Callisto 36 and Cheiron 39 clash of the Titans 24 Cupid and Psyche 34 and Danaë 44-5 and Europa 45 and Hercules 50 and Io 42 the judgment of Paris 63 Leda and the swan 60 and the Muses 30 and Persephone 28 Perseus and Andromeda 47 and Prometheus 24, 25 shape-shifting 60Zhu Rong 117Zoroastrianism 6-7, 20-1Zulus 11, 89Zurvan 6, 20, 21
  • 126. Acknowledgments•128AcknowledgmentsDorling Kindersley would like to thank Natasha Millen and Guo Zhiping;Dr. Anne Millard; Dr. Will Rea, SOAS, London; Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Rea;Jessica Harrison Hall at the British Museum, London; Ken Mantel at theNarwhal Innuit Gallery, London; Lori Cutler, Jill Barber, Joanne Logan at theCanadian Inuit Art Information Center; the Injalak Arts and Crafts Associationof Gunbalanya, Australia, Merlin Dailey at the Merlin Dailey Gallery, New York;Henrietta Wilkinson for proofreading, and Hilary Bird for the index.Picture CreditsAfrique en Créations /Dirk Bakker; 5 above, 90–91center, 90 above left, 91 below leftAkademische Druck-u. verlagsanstalt; 98–99 center,98 above left, 99 below rightAKG LONDON; back cover center right, backcover center right bottom, 78–79 center, 78 aboveleft, 79 below right /Alte Pinakothek, Munich; 24–25center, 24 left, 25 top right /Bibliothèque Nationale,Paris; 81 above right /Erich Lessing/Musée duLouvre, Paris; 38–39 center, 38 top left, 38 top right,58–59 center, 58 below, 59 above /Gallerie Naz. diCapodimonte, Naples; 57 above /Moscow, SammlungFamilie Serow; 45 below left /Musée du Louvre,Paris; 20 above left, 48–49 center, 48 above, 49 belowright /Museo Capitolino/Erich Lessing; 67 belowright /Museo del Prado, Madrid/Erich Lessing; 23above right /National Gallery of Scotland,Edinburgh; 36–37 center, 36 top left, 37 top right/Staatl. Antikenslg. & Glyptothek, Munich; 3, 59below rightANCIENT ART & ARCHITECTURECOLLECTION; 13 above right, 41 rightStofnun Arna Magnussinar a Islandi; 70–71 center, 71left, 71 rightArtothek /Alte Pinakothek, Munich; 26–27 center, 27below, 27 top right, 32–33 center, 32 left, 33 top right/Bayer & Mitko/Private Collection; 66 - 67 center, 66left, 67 above rightBirmingham Museums and Art Gallery; 80–81 center,80 below left, 80 above left, 81 above leftBRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY, LONDON/NEWYORK/Agnew and Sons, London; 36 below left/Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; 85 above right /Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, West Yorkshire,UK; front cover top left, 52 above left, 52–53 center,53 above right, 82 above left, 82 center left, 82 centerright, 83 below left, 83 above left, 83 above right/Corbally Stourton Contemporary Art, London/Aboriginal Arts Agency Ltd; 105 above, 102 aboveright /Faringdon Collection, Buscot, Oxon, UK;25 top left /Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, UK; 65 belowright, 64–65 center, 65 above right /FitzwilliamMuseum, Cambridge, UK; 28–29 center, 28 left,29 top, 34–35 center, 34 top, 35 below, 56 belowright /Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; 60–61 center,60 above right, 61 below /Guildhall Art Gallery,Corporation of London; 60 above right /ManchesterCity Art Galleries, UK; 84–85 center, 84 left, 85below right /Musée du Louvre, Paris; back covertop center, 39 below /Musée du Louvre, Paris/Lauros-Giraudon; 42 left /Musée du Louvre, Paris/Giraudon; 30 below, 31 below right /Musée duLouvre, Paris/Peter Willi; back cover top left, 46–47center, 46 above, 47 below right /Musée du Louvre,Paris/Giraudon; 30–31 center /Musée du Petit Palais,Avignon/Peter Willi; 56–57 center, 56 below, 57below right /Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; 29 right/National Gallery, London; 42–43 center, 43 belowright, 43 top right /National Gallery, London; 62–63center, 63 below right, 63 above /National Museumof Iceland, Reykjavik; back cover bottom right, 69below right /Nationalmuséet, Copenhagen; 62 left/Palazzo Sandi Porto (Cipollato) Venice; 4 left, 47above /Private Collection; 7 below, 113 above right/Roy Miles Gallery, London; front cover top center,35 top /Royal Library, Copenhagen; 11 right /SimonCarter Gallery, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK; 49 belowleft /Victoria and Albert Museum, London; 78 aboveright, 110–111 center, 111 below right, 111 belowleft, 114–115 center, 114 above right, 115 below leftBRITISH LIBRARY; 83 below rightBRITISH MUSEUM; back cover top right, backcover bottom center, back cover center left b,4 above, 16 above, 17 below, 18–19 center,117 above, 118–119 center, 118 below left,119 above, 119 below /Peter Hayman; 15 rightCentral Art Archives /The Finnish National Gallery/Ateneum, Helsinki; 75 above /The Finnish NationalGallery/Ateneum, Helsinki/ The Antell Collection;74–75 center, 74 above right, 75 rightJean-Loup CHARMET; 52 below leftReproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of theChester Beatty Library, Dublin; 123 above rightCincinnati Art Museum /Museum Purchase, 1957.29;20 center left, 20–21 centerC M Dixon; 8, 10 left, 71 below right, 110 aboveChristies Images; front cover bottom/Cypress BookCompany; 116–117, 116 below left, 116 aboveDuncan Baird Publishers; 121 above right /TheJapanese Gallery; 2, 122–123 center, 122 above left,123 below rightDK (special photography); 10–11 center, 96–97 center /British Museum; 50 below /GlasgowMuseums, St. Mungo; 108 left, 115 below right /JerryYoung; 87 below right /Lynton Gardiner; 93above /Manchester Museums; 4 right, 26 left/Michael Zabe; 6–7 center /Mr. & Mrs. C. J. Rea;86–87 /Musée du Louvre, Paris; 33 below right/Universitets Oldsaksamling; 5 center left, 72–73center, 72 above left, 73 below center /UniversityMuseum of Archaeology and Anthropology,Cambridge; 9 left, 77 above rightGemaldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden; 40 top, 40below left, 40–41 centerE.T. ARCHIVE /Tate Gallery; 31 topMARY EVANS PICTURE LIBRARY /ArthurRackham Collection; 68 below leftEXPLORER/C Regnault; 90 above rightWERNER FORMAN ARCHIVE; 70 abovecenter, 70 above right /British Museum,London; 99 below right /Field Museum ofNatural History, Chicago; 95 below right/Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm; 68to 69 center, 68 above left /Strouhal; 9 rightFOTOMAS INDEX; back cover center left,72 above rightPHOTOGRAPHIE GIRAUDON/Bridgeman;12–13 center, 12 left, 13 below right /Art Resource;94–95 center, 94 above left, 94 below left/Mantoue, Palazzo del Te; 22–23 center, 22 below, 23below right /Musée Guimet, Paris; 112–113 center, 112left, 113 below rightROBERT HARDING PICTURE LIBRARY/GeoffRenner; front cover top right, 107 rightHamburgisches Museum für Volkerkünde;106–107 centerMichael HOLFORD Photographs; back cover centerright, 92–93 center, 92 left, 93 below, 108–109 center,109 below right, 109 above /British Museum; 6 left,14–15 center, 14 above center, 14 above, 15 belowleft, 21 above, 54–55 center, 54 below, 55 above right,87 above right, 88–89 center, 106 right /Museum fürVolkerkünde, Munich; 1, 101 aboveMusée de l’Homme, Paris /Cl. D. Ponsard;89 below /Cl. D. Ponsard; 88 rightArts Induvik Canada Inc. ; 96 belowBarbara and Justin Kerr; 100–101 center,100 above, 101 belowCollection of Merlin Dailey, Victor, New York; 5center right, 120–121 center, 120 top left, 120below leftBoard of the Trustees of the National Museums &Galleries on Merseyside /Lady Lever Art Gallery;50–51 center, 50 above, 51 above rightManchester Museums; back cover bottom rightNational Gallery of Victoria /Injalak Arts and CraftsAssociation Inc. ; 5 below 104–105 center, 105below right /Injalak Arts and Crafts Association Inc.; 104 above left /Warlukulangu Artists AboriginalAssociation Inc. of Yuendumu; 102–103 center, 103below left, 103 below rightNational Museum Copenhagen; back cover center lefta, 76–77 center, 76 below left, 76 above leftREUNION DES MUSEES NATIONAUX /HLewandowski/Musée du Louvre, Paris; inside frontflap, 16–17 center, 18 above left /Musée du Louvre,Paris; 19 right /Musée du Louvre, Paris; 44– 45center, 44 top, 45 below rightSCALA /Palazzo Poggi, Bologna; front cover top left;64 below leftEvery effort has been made to trace the copyrightholders and we apologize in advance for anyunintentional omissions. We would be pleased toinsert the appropriate acknowledgment in anysubsequent edition of this publication.