Medusa mythology exam 2007


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MEDUSA mythology exam 2007

Suggested study for this year’s exam.
Characters, stories, themes will be examined based on the letters of the word, “Medusa”. Of course,

Medusa herself fits into this picture. Likewise, the Muses (and any of the 9 whose name begins with

any of these letters!). Toby Phillips can help you with a good mnemonic for the names of the 9 Muses.

Keep in mind, too, any of the Olympian gods whose names begin with these letters. Or the labors of

Consider, too, that the word mythology fits this equation. “muthos” in Greek, “fābula” in Latin are

words for “myth”. You might also think about “monsters”, “snakes”, “dragons” and other generic

names in English that classify aspects of mythology. For example, the Medusa’s head was covered

with snakes. A dragon guarded the Golden Fleece. And didn’t Jason have to fight warriors sown

from dragon teeth? This was true at Thebes.
So let your imagination fly. The obvious place to begin is with names from mythology that begin

with these letters. Take it as far as you have time. This will be the fun in this enterprise. Better

check out “mountains”, “rivers”, and “shrines”; “sun”, “moon”, and “stars”! Names of animals

Names of different groups of sisters, brothers, etc.

Names of the 7 hills of Rome (no brainer).
- Mr. Perrot’s Advice

Entries and groups by Imran Husain, if there are any problems please find me.

Groups Pertinent to Theme:

Fates a.k.a. Moirae- Knew the past, present, and future; spun, apportioned, and cut the ‘Thread of life’- Clotho Lachesis Atropos.

Gray Women a.k.a. Graiae- Weird, old hags who shared an eye and tooth- Enyo, Dino, Pe(m)phredo.
Gorgons- Hideous creatures with snakes for hair- Stheno (Immortal), Euryale (Immortal), Medusa (Mortal).
Furies a.k.a. Erinyes- Followed people who committed serious crimes around and gave them hell-Allecto, Megaera, Tisiphone. Later in mythology, they became a benevolent group and were renamed the Euminides (Eu generally has a positive meaning, euphoria..etc.)
Graces a.k.a. Charites- Chilled on Mt. Olympus and hung around the gods. They often accompanied Aphrodite; embodied grace and charm- Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia.

Maenads- Mostly wood nymphs and satyrs that were followers of Dionysus. They would run wildly (and of course naked) through forests drinking and partying.

Magna Mater- Cybele who is associated with Rhea, the wife of Cronus. Her worship was brought to Rome in some date you’ll never need to know.

Mars/Ares- The only son of Jupiter and Juno, (in most accounts) and the god of war. Mars was handsome, boastful, and generally obnoxious. Mars raped Rhea Silvia, the Vestal Virgin, and thus was the father of Romulus and Remus.

Marsyas- Satyr who took Athena’s flute and learned to play it with great skill. He boasted that he was a finer musician than Apollo (The god of music, among other things) himself. Apollo didn’t take this too well; a contest took place to decide who could play better music- Marsyas lost and was consequently flayed alive.

Medea- Daughter of king Aeetes of Colchis. She was the niece of Circe, and like her, a sorceress. Hera asked Aphrodite to make Medea fall in love with Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. (A group of sailors who went in search for the Golden Fleece) Medea was quite treacherous and lead to the death of her brother Apsyrtus (who was chasing Jason and Medea who ran off with the fleece), Pelias, (Jason’s wicked uncle) and other obstacles in Jason’s path with her powerful magic. When Jason dumped her for Creusa in Corinth, she went to Athens to cause trouble in Aegeus’ (the father of the Athenian hero Theseus) kingdom.

Medusa- See above

Melampus- The most famous seer of his time, when Melampus was a sleeping one night, snakes came and licked his ears, and from then on he had the ability to understand the speech of animals. This ability either complemented or was identified as his ability to foretell the future. People all over Greece sought Melampus’ aid in a variety of problems ranging from illnesses to impotence.

Maia- Pleiad who was the mother of Hermes. Zeus fell in love with her and banged her in a cave when all the other gods were sleeping.

Meleager- When Meleager was born it was prophesized that he would live until a log that was burning in the fire was consumed. His mother hastily took the log out of the fire, and kept it safely. Meleager was sent to gather warriors to vanquish a fierce boar that was ravaging Calydonia in what became known as the “Calydonian Boar Hunt.” He successfully killed the boar, (though his love Atalanta drew first blood) and dedicated its hide to Atalanta. Meleager’s uncles seized the prize from her; in a rage, Meleager killed them. His mother, in revenge, tossed the log that governed his life into a fire. She then killed herself out of grief.

Memnon- King of Ethiopia, who conquered Africa. He was the son of Eos and Tithonus, and was killed by Achilles at Troy.

Manes- Shades of the dead (Usually ‘loved ones,’ although to be fair, everyone is probably loved by someone..) in the underworld.

Menelaus- Brother of Agamemnon and ruler of Sparta. Menelaus was the husband of Helen, the beautiful woman whose kidnapping caused the Trojan War. Above all the Greek suitors, Helen chose Menelaus, and her father Tyndareus, gave his kingdom to him. Agamemnon and Menalaus were collectively known as the Atridae, or ‘Sons of Atreus.’

Mercury-(Hermes in Greek)- Son of Jupiter and Maia, Mercury was the god of swiftness, cleverness, liars, thieves, and merchants. Mercury was the messenger/herald of the gods, and often did Jupiter’s bidding. On the day he was born, Mercury caused a lot of trouble. He went straight to Apollo’s (his brother) herds, and stole most of his cattle. He covered their tracks and hid in his cave with his mother. He also took a tortoise shell and made the first lyre (a stringed instrument). When Apollo asked Mercury about the cattle he lied, claiming that he was just a baby. Eventually Apollo found out, and was angry because Mercury had killed a few of the cows to sacrifice. Mercury hastily presented Apollo with the lyre, which please him so much, that he gave Mercury his whole herd, wand, and winged sandles.

Metamorphoses- Ovid’s tale of mythological changes, a great source of many mythological tales.

Metis- Consort of Zeus, literally means “Wisdom” it was prophesized that Metis would have first a daughter, and then a son more powerful than his father. Zeus swallowed her up after ‘gettin it on’ and the goddess Athena sprung from his head, fully grown and armored.

Midas- Helped Silenus a mentor and follower of the god Dionysus when he was in a drunken stupor. For his hospitality, Dionysus offered him a wish. Midas asked for the “Golden touch,” which he later realized was a foolish request.

Minos- Son of Europa and ruler of Crete, became one of the judges in the underworld after his death. Minos had the labyrinth built and placed the Minotaur (which was the offspring of his wife Pasiphae and a bull) in it. He demanded that a tribute of 7 Athenian men and women be delivered to Crete every year to be fed to the Minotaur.

Minotaur- Half man, half bull, son of Pasiphae (Driven to insanity by Poseidon) and a bull.

Mnemosyne- Mother of the muses, name literally means ‘Memory.’

The Moon-Selene

Muses- There were 9 muses, and each governed an aspect of knowledge and art. (the mother of muses is Mnemosyne)

Euterpe Lyric Poetry

Erato- Love poetry

Melpomene- Tragedy

Urania- Astronomy

Calliope- Epic Poetry

Clio- History

Terpsichore- Dance

Thalia- Comedy

Polyhymnia- Hymns to the gods.

Myrmidons-Followers of Achilles, created from Ants when Aeacus (Achilles’ grandfather who lived on Aegina) prayed to Zeus for companions.

Myrtilus- Treacherous charioteer who helped Pelops win a race against Hippodamia’s father for her hand in marriage. (He was promised wealth and a night in bed with Hippodamia, but when it came time for Pelops to pay up, Myrtilus was mysteriously killed..)


The Earth- Terra- Ge, Gaia, Gaea, Er

Echidna- Monstrous offspring of Gaia who was the mate of Typhon, and mother of nearly all the great monsters in mythology.

Echo- Nymph who loved Narcissus, though he did not share her feelings. She helped Zeus hide a relationship from Hera. Hera was pissed and made it so that Echo could only repeat what she last heard, hence the name.

Eileithyia- A daughter of Hera, and the goddess of childbirth. Has some random stories here and there. Her most significant myth is during the birth of Heracles. (During which she delays his mother’s pregnancy)

Eleusinian Mysteries- A cult devoted to the goddess Demeter, (Ceres) which the goddess established at Eleusis.

Electra- Daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. She urged her brother Orestes to avenge the murder of their father by killing the treacherous Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.

Elysian Fields (Elysium)- Region of the underworld where the greatest heroes and do-gooders were honored. They were allowed to keep their bodies, and live in happiness.

Endymion- Mortal man who was loved by Selene, the Moon. He chose to be forever youthful by staying with the Moon in eternal sleep.

Eos (“dawn”)- Goddess of the dawn. She loved Tithonus and asked Zeus to give him eternal life, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus eventually grew old and shriveled away till he was turned into a grasshopper. (I don’t know why a grasshopper, and I don’t know why me..) Eos and Tithonus had Memnon.

Epigoni- The sons of the ‘Seven Against Thebes’ who avenged their fathers’ deaths by sacking Thebes.

Epimetheus- A Titan and brother of Prometheus who was married to Pandora, the first woman. When mankind was created, Epimetheus gave all the ‘Good’ traits (Speed, strength, etc.) to the animals.

Erebus- Region in the underworld where the dead first passed when they entered Hades’ realm.

Eris (Strife)- Goddess of discord and uproar, naturally, she was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. (Who wants hell at a wedding?) Eris didn’t take this so well, she is the one who threw the Apple that said “To the fairest” at the wedding, consequently causing the mayhem that culminated in the Trojan War. (Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera all fought over the apple, and Paris was chosen to judge the beauty contest..He chose Aphrodite because she promised him the hottest girl in the world…This turned out to be Helen..You know the drill..)

Eros (Cupid)- Son of Aphrodite, and god of love; Eros was married to Psyche.

Erymanthian Boar- Capturing this destructive boar was one Heracles’ painstaking labors.

Eteocles- Brother of Antigone and Polyneices, all who were children of Oedipus. When Oedipus (who blinded, and exiled himself) left Thebes, he left the kingdom to his sons. Eteocles and Polyneices decided that each would rule for one year, and switch off the kingship annually. They drew lots and Eteocles got to rule first. When his allotted time was up, he decided he rather liked being king, and chased Polyneices out of town. Polyneices wasn’t going to take that sitting down, so he gathered up a force known as ‘The Seven Against Thebes,’ (Which had seven champions) and marched on the city. The alliance failed, as six of the seven died. Eteocles and Polyneices killed each other, putting that conflict to an end.

Eumaeus- Odysseus’ faithful swineherd who remained loyal to him despite the hell that broke loose in his house. When he returned, Eumaeus was the first person Odysseus met, and helped him reclaim his kingdom.

Europa- When Europa was playing on the seashore, Zeus spied her and came to her in the form of a magnificent white bull. Captivated by the amazing creature, Europa played with it, but the as soon as she climbed on its back, it took her to Crete; there, Zeus had his way with her. Europa had three sons (Minos, Radamanthu(y)s, and Sarpedon), two of whom became judges in the underworld.

Euryclea- Faithful nurse of Odysseus who recognized him through his disguise when he finally returned home from Troy.

Eurydice- Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, the greatest mortal musician. When Eurydice was running from a beekeeper who lusted for her, she was fatally bitten by a snake. Orpheus traveled woefully to the underworld. There, he appealed to Hades and his queen Persephone to return his love to him. His beautiful song moved even the king of the dead, who consented to return Eurydice- so long as Orpheus did not gaze upon her till they had left the underworld. Just before leaving the abode of the dead, Orpheus could no longer resist. He looked at Eurydice and she returned to the underworld for good.

Eurystheus- Task manager and cousin of Heracles. Eurystheus was a greedy coward who was jealous of his cousin. He chose twelve nearly-impossible labors for him to perform as a part of his purification for killing his wife and children. (Of course Heracles was driven mad by Hera, because Zeus got with his momma Alcmene)


Daedalus- Father of Icarus and great inventor. Daedalus designed and built the Labyrinth for king Minos of Crete who imprisoned him. Daedalus aided Theseus in his escape from the labyrinth, and also devised his own escape by fashioning wax wings (He used feather and candle wax). As he and Icarus flew to freedom, Icarus flew too close to the son, which melted his wings causing him to fall to his death.

Danaids- The fifty daughters of Danaus who were forcibly married to his brother’s fifty sons.

Danaans-Another name for Greeks.

Danae- The mother of Perseus who was a lover of Zeus. A prophecy foretold that Danae’s son would cause the death of her father, Acrisius. To prevent any such child, Acrisius locked Danae in a high tower where no one could reach her. Our playa Zeus spied her and enamored, came to her in a ‘Golden shower.’ When Danae was found pregnant, Acrisius, outraged, put Danae and her son Perseus into a chest, and threw it into the sea. Zeus kept them safe, and they floated to the safety Seriphos. They were found by Dictys, a humble fisherman, who was also the brother of Polydectes, the king of the island. Dictys took care of Danae and Perseus till he grew up.

Daphne- The daughter of the river god Peneus, and first love of Apollo. Apollo was making fun of Cupid’s archery, so the devious god shot Apollo with his love arrow. Apollo fell in love with Daphne, but Daphne wanted remain a Virgin like Artemis. Apollo chased her all over the place, and when he was about to catch her, she prayed to her father Peneus to help her. Peneus changed her into a Laurel tree, which became Apollo’s sacred tree. (This is supposedly the origin of the laurel wreath)

Deianira- The second wife of Heracles whom he fought over with the river deity Achelous. Deianira was the sister of Meleager who was killed by his crazy mother. One day, a punk centaur named Nessus seized Deianira and ran off with her- Heracles was not amused. He fought with Nessus, and killed him with a poisoned (from the toxic blood of the Hydra) arrow. As Nessus died, he told Deianira to take some of his blood, because it would act like a love potion should Heracles ever love another woman more than her. Little did Deianira know that the blood of the centaur was also poisoned due to the potent venom from the arrow that killed Nessus. When Heracles fell in love with another maiden (Iole), Deianira remembered the ‘Potion’ and anointed a robe with it. Wearing the poisoned robe brought about Heracles’ death. Sure it was an accident, but just remember that Deianira was good for nothing.

Delos- The island where Leto gave birth to the “Delian” twins Apollo and Artemis. When Leto was pregnant (compliments of Zeus) Hera demanded that no land allow her to stay and give birth. Delos formed after Hera gave this command, and therefore was their birthplace.

Delphi- City sacred to Apollo. Delphi was the sight of Apollo’s most famous oracle.

Demeter (Ceres in Latin)- Olympian deity who was a daughter of Cronus, and brother of Zeus. Demeter was the goddess of agriculture, grains, and the harvest. Many stories revolve around her grief and search for her daughter Persephone, who was abducted by Hades. (Persephone became his wife)

Deucalion- Old man who, along with Pyrrha, was the only human to survive the great flood. Since Deucalion and Pyrhha were pious and god-fearing, they were spared. To repopulate the Earth, they correctly interpreted an oracle which demanded that they “Throw the bones of their mother over their backs.” They tossed stones (the bones of Earth--the mother of all) over their backs, Deucalion creating males, and Pyrhha females.

Dictys- See Danae.

Dido- Queen of Carthage and lover of Aeneas. Dido gained a huge amount of land for herself when the local African chieftains agreed to give her the amount of land that she could encircle with a bull’s hide. Cutting the hide into very narrow string, she managed to claim a huge kingdom for herself. When the gods ordered Aeneas to abandon her and sail to Italy, she killed herself out of grief cursing him and praying that there never be peace between the Romans and the Carthaginians. (Indeed they never were at peace; Rome and Carthage fought three Punic Wars)

Diomedes- Name shared by a great Greek hero in the Trojan war (who captured the Palladium, and wounded Aphrodite, among other things) and a King who possessed horses that ate human flesh. One of Heracles’ labors were to capture the ‘Man-eating Mares’ of Diomedes. (As a pleasant side note, Heracles tamed the horses by feeding Diomedes himself to them)

Dionysus ( Bacchus in Latin)- Dionysus was the last Olympian god, and the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. Dionysus became the god of wine, grapes, and merriment. He made drunkards and party-animals out of mankind, and was involved in various transformations in mythology. For some reason or another, many people refused to accept Dionysus as a god, and met grisly ends (most were turned into random animals) for their insolence.

Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux)- Collective term that refers to Castor and Pollux; it literally means “Striplings of Zeus.” Castor and Pollux were the twin brothers whose parents were Zeus and Leda. They make up the constellation Gemini.

Dis- Epithet of Hades/Pluto literally meaning “The rich one.”

Doris- Daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and the wife of Nereus. Doris had fifty daughters collectively known as the Nereids.

Dryads- A subset of nature loving nymphs, Dryads were tree-hugging forest dwellers.
Ulysses- Alternate name of Odysseus who was the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus has a long story

Underworld- Abode of Hades and final resting-place of the dead.

Uranus- With Gaia, the Earth, Uranus was the father of

Ursa Major- Constellation “The great bear.” Callisto, a victim of Zeus’ insatiable lust, was turned into a bear by a pissed of Hera. Her son Arcas was a great hunter, and when he saw his mother, he was going to shoot her, but the gods intervened, and they were both changed into the constellation you know and love today…(Even though it looks more like a golf club)

Salamis- Home of Ajax (who next to Achilles, was the greatest Greek warrior) and his father (Telamon) before him.

Salmacis- A nymph who loved Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Ahrodite. The gods pitied them and they became one entity..lovely..

Sarpedon- Son of Zeus and Europa. Sarpedon is killed at Troy by Patroclus who was dressed in Achilles’ armor. It was said that when Sarpedon died, Zeus cried tears of blood.

Saturn- Roman counterpart of the Greek Cronus (meaning time). Cronus was a Titan and the father of the Olympian gods with his wife Rhea. Cronus tried to eat all his kids so that he would never be overthrown. Having acquired a taste for children, when Zeus was born, he intended to gobble him up like the others. Somehow, Rhea tricked him into eating a rock, and Zeus grew up to eventually overthrow his father just as he feared. Not only was he deposed, but Cronus was castrated by Zeus with sickle. From his blood came the Furies, and his severed genitals..(in most versions) were responsible for Aphrodite’s birth.

Satyrs- Wild, and often bothersome goat-men. Satyrs had the head and torso of a man, but the legs, hooves, and horns of a goat.

Scylla- Scylla was a huge beast with serpents, dog heads and other random animals sticking out of its body. Scylla was once a beautiful maiden who was turned into a brutal monster by a jealous Circe.

Semele- The mother of Dionysus, Semele was seduced by Zeus, and once again, a jealous Hera tried to mess everything up. She told Semele that her husband was probably some low-life who lied to her about being the king of the gods. Semele’s doubt grew, so she made Zeus promise to grant any wish that she might request. She wanted undeniable proof that it was indeed Zeus who was her lover, so she asked him to show himself in his full splendor. Zeus tried to dissuade her, because the sight of his glory would surely kill her. Semele could not be moved, and died in a fiery explosion. Zeus did manage to save the unborn Dionysus, and sew him to his thigh, where he was conceived (for this, Dionysus is called “Twice-born”)

Seven Against Thebes- See Eteocles.

Sibyl- A priestess, sometimes prophetic. The most famous sibyl is the one at Cumae who led Aeneas into the underworld.

Silenus- See Midas.

Sirens- Beasts (often winged) that looked somewhat like women (beautiful from far away, not so much up close). Their voices were so alluring that men jumped off their ships and swam to their island/rocks where they were easy pickings for the hungry bird-women. When Odysseus and his men sailed by the Sirens, they put wax in their ears to pass safely. Orpheus (when he was aboard the Argo) played such enchanting music that he outsang the sirens.

Sisyphus- A famous sinner in the underworld who tricked the gods and escaped death many times. Once he told his wife not to put a coin under his tongue/eye when he died. (this was a mandatory custom, so that the dead could pay the ferryman to carry them through the underworld) Telling the ferryman that he forgot his coin, and promising to return with it, he went back to the world of living, and escaped death. On another occasion, Sisyphus even went so far as to chaining Hades to his throne with an unbreakable handcuff of his own design. Sisyphus was eternally damned in the underworld, forced to push a boulder up a hill forever. (when he got to the top the rock would roll back down- apparently he couldn’t get out of the way)

Spartoi- The sown men, the Spartoi sprang armed, and ready for battle from dragon’s teeth planted into the ground. There were two sets of Spartoi, one group sown by Jason, and the other by Cadmus. (Presumably these were from the same dragon teeth)

Sphinx- An offspring of Typhon and Echidna depicted in many different forms in mythology. Commonly, the Sphinx had the body of a lion and the head of a human. The Sphinx ravaged Thebes asking riddles to all passerby, and devouring them if they answered incorrectly. No one could solve the riddle of the Sphinx, and to make matters worse, (in most accounts) Thebes, at the time, was stricken by plague, and people were starving.

Stymphalian Birds- A group of carnivorous birds that were causing trouble near the city of Stymphalos. Heracles’ sixth labor was to get rid of these bothersome birds. To get rid of them, Heracles either shoots them with arrows, or more commonly, chases them away with golden cymbals. They are usually described as having claws of brass, and feathers of steel, which they could shoot off like darts.

Styx- River of unbreakable oaths in the underworld. Not even gods could break an oath if they swore by the river Styx.

Sychaeus- Sychaeus was the husband of Dido who was treacherously killed by her brother Pygmalion. (This all happened well before Aeneas rolled into town)

Acheron- The river of Woe in the underworld.

Achilles- The greatest hero of the Trojan War, and by far the most powerful man out of Greeks and Trojans alike. Achilles was the son of Peleus and Thetis. When he was young Thetis, holding him by the ankle, dipped him in the river Styx to wash his mortality away. For some reason (such as the intervention of Peleus) she was not able complete her ritual, and Achilles remained vulnerable on his heel which he was held from. When Achilles was setting off for Troy, Thetis prophesized that if he went to battle he would die young but be remembered forever, while if he remained at home, he would live a long, happy and quiet life. Thetis went to great lengths to dissuade Achilles from battle; she sent him to Skyros to hide at the court of Lycomedes (Achilles was disguised as a woman, but Odysseus exposed him). When Achilles would not relent, Thetis had the gods fashion his armor, and gave him strength for the carnage to come. In battle, Achilles was accompanied by his veteran warriors known as the Myrmidons.

Acrisius- See Danae for story. Acrisius sent Danae away, because a prophesy foretold that her son would kill Acrisius. Years later, when Perseus came to come to terms with his grandfather, Acrisius welcomed him, thinking that he would come to know harm. All was well, but when Perseus competed in the local athletic games, he fulfilled the prophecy; he threw a discuss, but by chance, it landed on an old man, killing him. This turned out to be Acrisius..

Actaeon- Unfortunate hunter who, by chance, spied the goddess Artemis bathing. Struck by her beauty, he could not help but stare. In anger, the goddess turned Actaeon into a stag, and he was devoured by his own hounds which did not recognize him.

Admetus- Apollo had to serve King Admetus as his shepherd for a period of time for slaying the Cylcop(e)s, who aided Zeus. Admetus was kind to the forlorn god, so Apollo decided to help him. He went to the underworld to learn of his fate, but found out that Admetus was going to die soon. He convinced the fates to let someone ‘sub-in’ for Admetus and die for him. However, no one, not even his parents would die for him, because life was too sweet to waste. Finally, Admetus’ wife ALCESTIS, agreed to take his place. When the kingdom was in mourning for Alcestis, Heracles came, and Admetus, a kind host, let him stay in his palace. Heracles partied, and sang loudly, and when he found out that Admetus’ wife had just died, he felt like a jerk. To make up for it, Heracles wrestled death, and retrieved Alcestis to life.

Adonis- Beautiful boy who was loved by Aphrodite. The goddess asked Persephone to keep him for a time, but when she had returned to reclaim Adonis, the queen of the underworld had also fallen in love with him. They fought bitterly, and finally Zeus declared that the child would go to one goddess one-third of the year, the other for the second-third, and for the last portion, he could be with whichever goddess he chose. He chose Aphrodite because she was hotter (probably..but most authors leave that detail out). One day, Adonis went hunting, and was killed by a boar. (some say this was Ares, who was jealous of the boy, because he was getting chicks left and right) Aphrodite grieved, but he got to stay with Persophone in the end…

Aeacus- Son of Europa and grandfather of Achilles. To populate the island of Aegina he prayed to Zeus for help. Zeus changed the ants on the island into Myrmidons, who followed Aeacus, and later were the elite warriors of Achilles.

Aeetes- King of Colchis and father of Medea. When Jason and the Argonauts came seeking the Golden Fleece, he pretended to receive them warmly. Aeetes sent Jason on a number of treacherous tasks. (Medea betrayed her father, by aiding Jason in his tasks on Colchis)

Aegeus- The father of Theseus and ruler of Athens. Aegeus sought an oracle to find out when he should marry. On his way back, he stopped at his friend’s kingdom and told him about the strange advice of the oracle: Do not loosen your winesack before you get to Athens. His friend figured out that the oracle was referring to sleeping with a woman, and quickly offered his daughter Aethra to comfort him. Eventually, Aegeus and Aethra were married. In addition to Aethra, Medea, after she fled from Corinth, (As you recall, Jason fell in love with Creusa here, and chased her off) ended up as a consort of Aegeus. When Theseus came to claim his rights as the prince of Athens, Medea told Aegeus to poison Theseus’ cup, because he was trying to kill him. When Aegeus recognized his son, (by his sword and sandles) he tossed the cup away from Theseus’ hands; Medea, like always, decided to skip town.

Aegisthus- Lover of Clytemnestra who was responsible for the death of Agamemnon. When Orestes came to avenge his father’s cruel death, Aegisthus was the first one he killed.

Aeneas/Aeneid- Vergil’s masterful epic about the adventures of Aeneas, a Trojan prince who escaped the ashes of Troy, and landed in Italy (His ancestors were the Romans and Latins).

Aeolus- Was the king and keeper of the winds (Boreas-North Wind, Zephyr-West, Notus-South, and Eurus-East) who had a significant role in both the Odyssey, and the Aeneid.

Aeson- The father of Jason (leader of the Argonauts) who was the rightful king of Iolcus. Aeson’s brother, Pelias, usurped the throne, and sent Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece.

Aethra- See Aegeus

Aetna- Volcano in Sicily. Its frequent eruptions were attributed to a number of gods, but most commonly, the monster Typhon was buried underneath it, causing flames to spew out from the top.

Agamemnon- Ruler of Mycenae and commander-in-chief of the Greek forces at Troy. He and his brother Menelaus were known as the ‘Atridae,’ or sons of Atreus. Agamemnon reached home more quickly than other Greek heroes, but met a grisly end nonetheless. Upon returning to Mycenae, he was murdered by his wife and her lover Aegisthis- in his own bathtub. Usually he’s seen as greedy and cruel as a man, so it wasn’t a terrible loss. After the sack of Troy, Agamemnon took Cassandra as a concubine.

Agave- Former queen of Thebes who killed her son, Pentheus, in a drunken rage. When King Pentheus first saw Dionysus he didn’t believe in his divinity. Even after the god showed his miracles, and gave numerous signs suggesting his godliness, Pentheus still refused to accept him as a deity. In anger, Dionysus caused all the women to leave the city, and shamelessly act like his drunk Maenads, when Pentheus followed to call his mother Agave back, she tore him apart in a frenzy.

Ajax, the greater- Warrior second only to Achilles at Troy. He was the son of Telamon, and had many stories in the Trojan War. When Achilles died, he competed with Odysseus for the armor of the fallen hero, but lost because Odysseus was a better speaker. In a rage, he started killing flocks of sheep thinking they were the Greek soldiers who voted against him (Athena cause him to go insane). After he came to his senses, he killed himself out of shame.

Ajax, the lesser – Trash-talking Greek of no relation to Ajax the greater. He was a swift runner, and decent warrior, but otherwise useless. After the sack of Troy, he raped the prophetess Cassandra.

Alba Longa- City founded by Ascanius, the son of Aeneas. It was later sacked by Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome. During the battle for Alba Longa, the Romans and the Albans decided that three champions from each city would decide the battle. The three men representing each side were twin brothers; the conflict between the six was known as “The Horatii (Romans) vs. the Curiatii (Albans).”

Alcestis- See Admetus

Alcinous- King of the Phaecians, Alcinous welcomed Odysseus when he was on his journey home. It was his daughter, Nausicaa, who figured out Odysseus’ true identity, and fell madly in love with him. Alcinous sent him off with ships and supplies on course for Ithaca, his home.

Alcmena/Alcmene- Mother of Heracles, and wife of Amphitryon. Zeus fell in love with her and laid with her ‘frontin’ like he was Amphitryon (Zeus took Amphitryon’s form, and tricked Alcmena) who was away at war. When the real Amphitryon returned, Alcmena already seemed to know about all his war stories. They later figured out what had really happened. Alcmena’s son by Zeus was Heracles, and her son by Amphitryon was Iphicles.

Amalthea- Goat that helped nurse the infant Zeus when he was hiding from Cronus. Amalthea’s horn became the Cornucopia.

Amazons- A group of warrior women who despised men, and were formidable in battle. They have significant roles in the Trojan War, the war between Aeneas and Turnus, and myths involving Heracles and Theseus. One of Heracles’ labors was to fetch the girdle of Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen.

Amphiarius- A seer, and one of the Seven Against Thebes. He was reluctant to go on the expedition, because he foresaw his own death, and that of most of the others. He was forced to meet his doom by his greedy wife Eriphyle who was bribed.

Amphitrite- A sea nymph and wife of Poseidon; Amphitrite was queen of the sea.

Anchises- In the Aeneid, he is the aging father of Aeneas. In his youth he slept with the goddess of love, Aphrodite.

Ancus Martius- The fourth king of Rome. Ancus built the Pons Sublicius (the first wooden bridge in Rome) across the Tiber, and founded Ostia, Rome’s first seaport.

Andromeda- A princess who was sacrificed to appease a sea monster. Perseus rescued the maiden and took her for his wife.

Anna- The sister of Dido.

Antaeus- A monster that Heracles fought, Antaeus was the son of Gaia, and remained unbeatable as long as he touched his mother (the Earth). Heracles killed Antaeus by lifting him into the air and choking him.

Antigone- A daughter of Oedipus through his incestuous relationship with his mother, as well as a sister of Eteocles and Polyneices. When Eteocles and Polyneices killed each other, Creon took power in Thebes and declared that Eteocles would be buried, but Polyneices would remain a corpse in the street, because he marched against Thebes (Even though he was probably justified). After a time, Antigone could bear the indignity no longer, and buried her brother unlawfully. For this, she was put to death. Antigone was the subject of a tragedy by Sophocles.

Aphrodite- Goddess of love and beauty. She was either born from Cronus’ castration, or was a daughter of Zeus and Chione. Aphrodite was the wife of Hephaestus, though she was also a lover of Ares.

Apollo- Son of Zeus and Leto, and a god of music, light, healing, archery, and poetry. Apollo was born on Delos and was the twin brother of Artemis.

Apsyrtus- Brother of Medea whom she killed when fleeing her father after helping Jason win the

golden fleece. Medea chopped Apsyrtus into little pieces to slow down her father and pursuers. (They had to collect his whole body to give him a proper burial)

Arachne- Arachne was a mortal who was a master weaver. She boasted she could weave better than Athena. A contest ensued, and Arachne wove a tapestry depicting the gods in a bad light. Whether she wove better than Athena or not, she was turned into a spider for her impudence.

Argonauts- A group of Black Sea sailors who sought the Golden Fleece in Colchis. The Argonauts traveled on the Argo and were led by Jason, braving many terrors including: The sirens, the Symplegades (known as the Clashing rocks), and the Harpies.

Arethusa- Nymph sought by Alpheus, a river god. There was a big chase, and she was turned into spring. In the end, Alpheus’ waters mixed with hers at a spring.

Ariadne- Daughter if Aegeas who helped Theseus kill the Minotaur. For her aid, Theseus swore to marry her. While they were sailing from Crete, Ariadne was ‘Accidentally’ left on the island of Crete. Much later when Dionysus came to Naxos, he found Ariadne and married her.

Arion …….and the tale of the Dolphin…..

Artemis (Diana)- Daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis was the virgin goddess of the moon, the night, and Archery. Artemis is often associated with Selene, the moon, and Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft; collectively this triad is known as Trivia.

Ascanius- The son of Aeneas and Lavinia who founded Alba Longa.

Asclepius- (Aesculapius)- A son of Apollo, who learned the art of healing from Chiron. He soon became the greatest doctor in the world. He was killed by Zeus when he began to resurrect people from the dead, in return for money.

Astyanax- The infant son of Hector and Andromache. When Troy was burned to the ground Astyanax was thrown off the walls of the city (usually by Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles), so that there would be no chance for Trojan revenge.

Atalanta- The fastest mortal foot racer. Atalanta sailed on the Argo, and participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt. She said she would marry any man that could beat her in a footrace, but anyone who lost would be killed. Hippomenes, fell in love with her, and with the aid of Aphrodite and her golden apples, distracted Atalanta enough to win the race. Atalanta and Hippomenes were turned into lions for sleeping in some deity’s temple. (Accounts vary)

Athena ( Minerva)- Goddess of war, arts, and wisdom. Athena was the daughter of Zeus and Metis, and was the patroness of Athens.

Atlas- Titan who held up the Earth on his shoulders as a punishment for not siding with the gods in war. He was tricked by Heracles, and was eventually turned into a mountain range when Perseus used Medusa’s head to change him to stone.

Atreus- Father of Agamemnon and Menalaus. Atreus competed with his brother Thyestes for control of Greece.

Aurora- See Eos


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