M to Medea 2 Medea 3 to Miletus 2 Milmas to Mytilene

M to Medea 2


The uppercase form of the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet; pronounced Me with a long E; lower case: μ.


An ancient kingdom on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe; the home of Alexander the Great; now a region including parts of Greece, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria.


Referring to the people of the ancient kingdom of Makedon (Macedon) which was located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe.

Madness of Herakles
Madness of Heracles

A tragedy by Euripides of unknown production date.

After his marriage to Megara, Herakles was driven mad by the machinations of the goddess,Hera; in an uncharacteristic fit of unbridled rage, Herakles killed his wife and their children.

The oldest artwork depicting this scene shows Megara escaping Herakles’ wrath but later versions of the story insist that Megara was also murdered at the hands of the insane Herakles.

I personally recommend the translations compiled by Richmond Lattimore and David Grene; you can find this and other plays by Euripides in the 882 section of your local library or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site which is linked to


A winding river in the district of Karia (Caria) in southern Asia Minor flowing into the Aegean Sea near the island of Samos; 240 miles (386 kilometers) in length.

Maeetian Lake

The ancient Greek name for the Sea of Azov.

The Maeetian Lake was a body of water which connected to the northwestern corner of the Euxine (Black Sea); approximately 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers) in area.


The female companions of Dionysus usually represented as frenzied revelers.


Mount Maenalus was sacred to Pan (Goat-God); located east and slightly north of the city of Lerna in Arkadia (Arcadia) on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.


A division of the Skythians (Scythians) who lived to the north of the Euxine (Black Sea) in the vicinity of Lake Maeotis, i.e. the Sea of Azov.

Maeotic Lake

The ancient name for the Sea of Azov.

The Maeetian Lake was a body of water which connected to the northwestern corner of the Euxine (Black Sea); also called the Maeetian Lake or Lake Maeotis by the ancient Greeks; approximately 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers) in area.


Lake Maeotis; the ancient name for the Sea of Azov.

Lake Maeotis was body of water which connected to the northwestern corner of the Euxine (Black Sea); also called the Maeetian Lake or Maeotic Lake by the ancient Greeks; approximately 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers) in area.


The Dog-Star.

Maera was the faithful dog of Erigone and helped her find her father’s dead body after he had been killed by his drunken neighbors after Dionysus gave him the gift of wine; Maera was placed into the heavens as the Dog-Star.


A harp with twenty strings; probably imported to Greece from Asia.


A city on the Gulf of Korinth (Corinth) about mid-way between Athens and the city of Korinth.


One of the six tribes that comprised the original Medes.

The Magi were traditionally considered to be the seers and magicians for the Median kings and even after the Medes were defeated by the Persians (559 BCE) they retained their status as seers and advisors for the royal household; they also officiated at all sacrifices.

When king Xerxes was marching to invade Greece, he built a pontoon bridge over the Hellespont; as the Persians were preparing to cross the bridge into Europe (April 480 BCE) there was a solar eclipse and the moon blocked out the sun; the Magi informed Xerxes that this was a symbol of his certain victory because the Greeks worshiped the sun whereas the Persians worshiped the moon; the Magi were wrong and were beheaded for their mistake.

The other five tribes of Medes were: Arizanti, Budii, Busae, Paratakeni (Parataceni) and Strukhates (Struchates).

Magnesia (1)

A term used to denote several pure minerals which was named after the city in Thessaly which was rich in mineral deposits.

Magnesia (2)

The name of the land on the eastern coast of the Greek mainland next to Thessaly and north of the island of Euboea; the Cape of Magnesia reaches out into the Aegean Sea and shelters the Gulf of Pagasai (Pagasae).

Magnesia (3)

The name of a city in Lydia in Asia Minor located northwest of the Lydian capital Sardis.


A Persian of the Median tribe.

The Magus were a class of Zoroastrian priests usually associated with enchantment and magic; they interpreted dreams and were considered to be wizards and thus feared and respected.


One of the seven daughters of Atlas known as the Pleiades.

Maia was the consort of Zeus and the mother of Hermes; she lived in a cave on Mount Kyllene (Cyllene) in Arkadia (Arcadia).

The hunter, Orion, relentlessly pursued Maia and her sisters until they were changed into pigeons by Zeus and eventually put into the night sky as a constellation.

Her sisters are: Alkyone (Alcyone), Asterope, Elektra (Electra), Kelaeno (Celaeno), Merope and Taygete.


A river god; one of the many sons of Tethys and Okeanos (Ocean).

Zeus gave the Rivers, Apollon and the Okeanids the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.


The fifth month of the year in Attika (Attica) roughly corresponding to the last half of November to the first half of December.


The Stormy One; an epitaph of Zeus when he was honored at a festival during the stormy month of Maimakterion.


A reference to the Dog-Star meaning The Sparkler; the dog of Ikarius (Icarius).


One of the children of Aiolos (Aeolus).

Makareos and his sister, Kanake (Canace), had a love affair which resulted in Kanake’s suicide; his other siblings were: Sisyphus, Alkyone (Alcyone), Athamas, Salmoneus and Kalyke (Calyce).


An ancient kingdom on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe; the home of Alexander the Great; now a region including parts of Greece, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria; named after the son of Zeus and Thyia, Makedon (Macedon).


Quarrels; the children of Eris (Discord); also called the Makhas or Machas.


He and his brother, Podaleirios, were surgeons for the Greeks at the siege of the city of Troy; Makhaon and Podaleirios were the sons of the renowned healer, Asklepios (Asclepius).


A term used to describe the people of Ethiopia which literally means Long-Lived.

Maliac Gulf

The body of water that juts into extreme southern Thessaly with the island of Euboea on the east and Thermopylae on the southern shore.


The god of riches in ancient Syria.


The daughter of Astyages and, after the rule of the Medes, the mother of the first Persian king Kyrus I (Cyrus).

While she was still unmarried, Mandane’s father had a dream which was interpreted as signifying the end of the rule of the Medes over western and central Asia; her father would not allow her to marry another Mede because her children would have a claim to the throne; Astyages forced her to marry a Persian named Kambyses (Cambyses) and assumed that no half-Persian/half-Mede child could ever claim the throne of the Median Empire.

After the marriage, Astyages dreamed that Mandane would have a child that would cast a shadow over all of Asia; believing this dream to be another bad omen, Astyages ordered one of his most trusted subjects, Harpagus, to take Mandane’s newborn child and kill it; Harpagus was a loyal Mede but he was no child slayer; he delegated the murder of the baby to another man who was also too moral to kill an innocent baby.

The baby was spared and grew to be a young man before Astyages became aware that Mandane’s son was still alive; Astyages consulted his seers and decided that the young boy was no threat to him or his empire; the boy was given back to his mother and father and named Kyrus (Cyrus).

As punishment for not following orders, Astyages killed the son of Harpagus; when Kyrus came of age, Harpagus, in revenge for his murdered son, urged Kyrus to unite the Persians and revolt against the Medes; the revolution was successful and Mandane became the mother of the Persian dynasty of kings that would rule Persia until the time of Alexander the Great.


Androktasias; Slaughters or Manslaughters; the children of Eris (Discord).


An oracle; either a person or a shrine but usually a title denoting a prophet and reader of the omens of sacrifice.


An ancient city in southern Greece on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in Arkadia (Arcadia).

Marathon (1)

A foot race of traditionally 26 miles (42 kilometers) named after the plain of Marathon in Attika (Attica), located north of the city of Athens; the plain got it’s named from the fennel plant which was very plentiful there; on this plain, the Athenian army defeated the numerically superior Persian army of King Darius in 490 BCE; following the resounding defeat of the Persians, a messenger ran to Athens to tell the worried citizens of their success and after uttering the single word, nike (victory), died of exhaustion; the marathon race is derived from this momentous feat of physical endurance.

The distance of 26 miles is, according to the noted author and hands-on researcher Peter Green, not really the distance from the battlefield at Marathon in to the city of Athens but rather the distance from the village of Marathona which is located two miles north of the actual battlefield; the 2 mile discrepancy in the distance is simply a miscalculation.

One of the little appreciated facts about the battle of Marathon is that, after the defeat of the Persians, the Athenian army, with the exception of the men left to guard the prisoners and booty of the battle, also hurriedly made the 24 mile trek from the battlefield to the city of Athens.

When it became obvious that the Athenians intended engage the Persians on the plain of Marathon, the Persians divided their army into two segments: infantry and some cavalry to fight at Marathon and the remainder of the cavalry to attack Athens from the south; when the southern contingent boarded their ships to sail to Athens, the Athenians attacked at Marathon; within 3-4 hours the Persians were defeated with over 6,000 casualties and the remainder of their forces making a narrow escape by sea; the Athenian army then made a forced march back to Athens to defend the city from the Persian cavalry; when the Athenian troops, battle weary, bloodstained and in full armor, arrived at Athens before the Persians could disembark their cavalry, the amazed Persians halted their attack on the city and returned to Asia Minor, defeated and humiliated.

Marathon (2)

An ancient village near the plain of Marathon on the Greek mainland approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) northeast of the city of Athens.

Approximate east longitude 23.58 and north latitude 38.10.

Marathon (3)

A son of Epopeus and the father of Korinthus (Corinthus).

Marathonian Bull

The savage bull that the hero, Theseus, captured on the plain of Marathon north of the city of Athens.

Later versions of the story say that the Marathonian Bull was the same bull that Herakles (Heracles) had captured on the island of Crete during his seventh Labor; after Herakles returned the bull to his cousin, Eurystheus, the bull was supposedly released on the plain of Marathon and then recaptured by Theseus; the chronology of the Labors of Herakles and the life of Theseus would date this event to one generation before the Trojan War.


A commander in the Persian military.

Mardonius was closely related to the Persian kings for three reasons:

  1. His father, Gobryas, was one of the seven men who had instigated the rebellion which removed the Medes from the throne of Persia and installed Darius I as king;
  2. He married Darius’ daughter, Artozostre; and
  3. He was the cousin of Darius’ son, Xerxes, who followed his father to the throne.

Mardonius was an ambitious and resourceful young man and in 492 BCE, Darius gave him command of the army and navy with the intention of invading Greece; Mardonius sent the army to the Hellespont and sailed down the coast of Asia Minor to the Ionian Greek colonies; he removed the local princes and, surprisingly, established democracies in the various cities and adjacent islands; Mardonius then joined the rest of the Persian fleet at the Hellespont and marched into Europe.

Most of the northern Greeks surrendered their freedom to the Persians without a fight and all seemed to be going well until the fleet left the island of Thasos and tried to sail around the peninsula near Athos; a violent north wind blew into the northern Aegean Sea and did great damage to the fleet; perhaps as many as three hundred ships and twenty thousand men were lost in the storm at Athos.

Following this loss of men and equipment, Mardonius proceeded with his mission but while the army was encamped in Thrake (Thrace), they were attacked by a tribe called the Brygi; Mardonius was wounded and many of his men were killed but he resolutely set about subduing the Brygi and the other rebellious tribes in Thrake and Makedon (Macedon); with the heavy losses at sea and the harm done to the land force by the Brygi, Mardonius abandoned his European expedition and returned to Persian soil.

Darius was not deterred in his desire to conquer the Greeks but, when his invading troops were utterly defeated at Marathon in 490 BCE, he left the Greeks who had not already surrendered to him alone and made no demands for tribute or loyalty.

When king Darius died the kingship fell to his son, Xerxes; Mardonius was Xerxes’ cousin and had considerable influence with the new king; Mardonius was, by now, well versed in the practice of politics in Persia; he used his closeness to the new king to further his military career and he knew that if he was granted a governorship, his wealth and power would be on par with the most powerful men in the Persian Empire.

Knowing that Xerxes had already decided to completely enslave the Egyptians, he added his voice to the cry for war with Egypt and advised Xerxes to then turn his attention to Greece as the gateway to further European conquests; Mardonius wanted to be the governor of Greece and reminded Xerxes that the conquest of Europe, and especially Greece, had been one of his father’s ambitions and that the Athenians, in particular, had to be punished for the humiliating defeat inflicted on Darius’ army at Marathon.

Mardonius also encouraged Xerxes by telling him of the untold riches that awaited him in Europe with its fertile lands and uncounted trees; aside from the Greeks, there were no civilized people in Europe, i.e. no central governments and no powerful rulers or armies to oppose the Persians.

After his occupation of Egypt, Xerxes held a council meeting to determine the best way to invade and conquer Greece; with the exception of one man, Artabanus, Mardonius and the other advisors encouraged Xerxes to proceed with the invasion; Xerxes was furious at Artabanus and, again, Mardonius was on the correct side of the throne by favoring the invasion; whether Mardonius was acting from greed, servility or sincerity is impossible to say but regardless, he pleased Xerxes and earned himself a major role in the events to come.

There were seven military commanders of the Persian invasion of Greece but Mardonius was by far the most trusted and respected by the Great King; this trust and respect would later be the bindings on Mardonius’ death shroud.

The Persian army numbered as many as five hundred thousand men-in-arms and perhaps as many support personnel; the troops marched across northern Asia Minor and crossed the Hellespont on an ingenious pontoon bridge; messengers would approach each Greek city and demand earth and water as a symbol of submission to the Persian authority; cities that surrendered were forced to provide soldiers for the already formidable Persian army; citizens who refused to accept the Persians as masters usually fled with only the belongings they could carry.

The Persian army was divided into three sections; Mardonius was with the portion which marched down the eastern coast of Greece abreast of the Persian fleet; Mardonius’ role in the various battles as the army moved south towards the city of Athens was largely unrecorded but he again came to prominence when, after the sack of Athens, the Persian navy suffered a staggering defeat near the island of Salamis; Xerxes, who had accompanied his invading army into Greece, was in a precarious position; he risked either the complete destruction of his army and navy if he stayed in Greece or humiliating disgrace if he withdrew his forces without a victory.

Mardonius realized that he was probably going to have to take the blame for the failed invasion so he decided that he had only one course of action; Mardonius proposed that Xerxes should return home and that he, Mardonius, be left behind to complete the enslavement of the people of Greece; Mardonius blamed the Persian allies for the failed mission and assured Xerxes that the Persians were in all ways superior to the Greeks; this line of reasoning pleased Xerxes and he gave Mardonius a force of three hundred thousand troops and instructed him to guard the remainder of the army’s retreat and then to proceed with the conquest of the Greeks.

After Athens had been burned, the Greeks built a wall across the Isthmus of Korinth (Corinth) to protect the Peloponnesian Peninsula but now that the Persians were withdrawing, the Greeks assumed that their withdrawal would be complete and that all that remained to be done was the punishment of the Greek cities which had betrayed their homeland and given tribute and troops to the Persian king.

Mardonius followed the Great King’s retreat as far north as Thessaly where they were overtaken by a Spartan messenger; the messenger informed Xerxes that the oracle at Delphi had proclaimed that Xerxes must provide retribution for the killing of the Spartan king, Leonidas, at the battle of Thermopylae; Xerxes found this demand amusing and informed the messenger that Mardonius would pay all the retribution necessary.

After Xerxes departed, Mardonius stayed in Thessaly and, having made slaves of most of the northern Greek cities, sent a Greek named Alexander of Makedon (Macedon) as his representative to Athens; Alexander informed the Athenians that Xerxes was willing to forgive their offenses against him and allow them to live freely if they would only submit to his authority; Mardonius had been charged by the Great King to rebuild the temples of Athens and restore freedom to all people who did not oppose him; Alexander added that the Athenians had no chance of withstanding the Persians forever; the Great King, regardless of his name, was beyond any mortal man in power and wealth; if the Athenians defeated one Persian army, the Great King would simply send a larger army and eventually the Greeks would be enslaved; if the Athenians agreed to the generous offer made by the king they would not have to suffer the bonds of abject slavery which was surely their fate if they defied the Great King; the Athenians were polite to Alexander but quite adamant in their refusal to become willing slaves of the Persian king.

The Athenians knew that as soon as Mardonius received their refusal, he would march south and try to take Athens by force; the following spring (479 BCE), Mardonius marched towards Athens and drafted Greek men from the cities he passed; when he arrived in Thebes, the Thebans tried to convince Mardonius that he should remain there and threaten or bribe the hostile Greek cities into submission rather than make war on a united Greek army; Mardonius was anxious to retake Athens and, ten months after its initial burning at the hands of the Persians, Mardonius entered the empty city; the Athenians had evacuated to the island of Salamis again.

Mardonius sent a envoy to Salamis and urged the Athenians to surrender; one of the Athenian councilors, a man named Lykidas (Lycidas), wanted to bring the matter before the citizens and let them vote on the issue; he and his family were stoned to death for even considering the idea of surrender; when Mardonius learned of the Athenian determination and that the Spartans had marched towards Attika to assist them, he abandoned Athens and marched north into Boeotia; he halted his army near Thebes and built a wooden fortress in case things did not go as he wished on the battlefield.

The Greek cities who allied themselves with the Persians were of mixed feelings as to their new masters; all the submitting Greeks had accepted the harsh fact that their choices had been to either ally themselves with the Persians willingly or be decimated by the overwhelming Persian force and then be enslaved; the Phokians (Phocians) arrived at Thebes to unwillingly join Mardonius’ army and were immediately slandered by the Thessalians as being unreliable and perhaps cowardly; rumors of this slander circulated through the Persian encampment until the Phokians heard it; as a test of their courage, Mardonius sent his cavalry against the Phokians in a mock charge but the Phokians held their ground and did not falter; the Persian cavalry broke off their charge at the last moment and Mardonius was impressed that the Phokians did not break ranks and run; he told the Phokians not to worry because they had demonstrated their trustworthiness and that he would reward them well for their bravery and loyalty.

The Greek army grew in size as it marched north to the city of Eleusis and finally took up a position in the foothills of Mount Kithaeron (Cithaeron); the Persians were stationed along the Asopos river and sent their cavalry to harass the Greeks; the cavalry charges continued until the commander, a man of great wealth and repute named Masistius, was thrown from his horse and killed; the Persians tried and failed to recover the body of Masistius in his glorious golden armor but were beaten back severely by a contingent of Athenians; Mardonius, and the entire Persian army, was distressed at the death of Masistius; they shaved their heads and cut the manes of their horses as a demonstration of their grief; the Greeks, on the other hand, were encouraged because they had withstood the fierce cavalry charges and come out victorious.

Emboldened by their success, the Greeks came out of the foothills and arrayed their troops by nation on the plains of Plataea; the two armies faced one another across the Asopos river and prepared for battle; Mardonius made sacrifices hoping for good omens but the sacrifices were bad for ten consecutive days and Mardonius reluctantly waited; he knew that it was essential that his army have the favor of the gods but he also knew that prolonging the confrontation would allow the Greeks to bring in more reinforcements; the Greeks had amassed one hundred and ten thousand men-at-arms against the three hundred thousand Persians; “the Persians” included men from all parts of the Persian Empire as well as Greeks who had joined the Persian army either voluntarily or under threat; the finest Persian troops were positioned across the river from the Spartans and likewise down the battle-lines with fighters of comparable abilities facing one another.

After ten days of waiting, Mardonius grew inpatient and called his commanders before him; he asked if any of them knew of any oracle which had declared that the Persians would be defeated by the Greeks; the commanders either did not know of any such prophecy or simply kept quiet because they knew that Mardonius was determined to attack the Greeks at dawn on the eleventh day of the standoff regardless of the omens or oracles.

During that night, the Greeks changed their positions in the battle-lines and when Mardonius saw that his best soldiers were not aligned with the Spartans, he taunted them and challenged them to a Spartan-Persian battle with the allies and slaves not participating; Mardonius proposed that the victor of the battle would become the winner of the entire war, a winner-take-all proposition; the Spartans refused the challenge; (this is a curious point in the storyline because it gives us an insight into the Spartan mentality; why would they refuse such a challenge? It would seem that this would be a perfect opportunity for the Spartans to demonstrate their bravery and military prowess, and as victors, they would be the undisputed champions of Greece; I personally believe the Spartans ignored this goad to a one-on-one battle because they were warriors and they viewed the assembled Greek army not as some sort of political or economic display of strength but as a tool of battle and not using the proper tool is something that a true craftsman would never do; why would they use a pocketknife to fell a tree when they had an axe at hand; their intention was to kill all the Persians and punish all the Greeks who had allied themselves with the barbarian invader; they were not after a symbolic victory but rather a fatal and final end to Persian intervention in the affairs of the Greeks); the Spartans held their tongues and their battle position.

Mardonius sent in his cavalry and they did much damage to the Greek forces as well as cut the Greeks off from their primary source of water; after a hard days fighting, the Greeks retreated to gain a better tactical position; the following morning, Mardonius saw that the Greeks had pulled back and interpreted this as an act of cowardice; Mardonius charged into the Greek forces and was soon fighting around the precincts of the temple of Hera; he rode a white charger and was surrounded by one thousand of his best troops but the Greeks were better armored and had more military discipline; Mardonius was killed and his troops were scattered and slaughtered by the Greeks.

One of the Greek soldiers from the island of Aegina, named Lampon, encouraged the Spartan leader, Pausanias, to cut the head from Mardonius’ dead body and impale it as revenge for the four thousand Spartans who were killed at Thermopylae, especially for their leader, Leonidas whom the Persians beheaded and impaled; Pausanias told Lampon that such acts were the deeds of barbarians and that, although Leonidas was his uncle, he would never dishonor his family or city with such a low and shameful display of mutilation.

  • Histories, book 6, chapters 43-45; book 7, chapters 5-10, 82 and 121; book 8, chapter 97, 101-102, 114-115, 140-143; book 9, chapters 1-5, 12-26, 31-86
  • Margites

    The Margites; one of the remains of the fragmentary poems and comments known as Homerica.

    This particular group of fragments is so small and obtuse that little can be gained as to the subject or the intent; the fragment is interesting simply because of its antiquity.

    For Homerica and translations of the Epic Cycle, I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 57, ISBN 0674990633; you can sometimes find this book at the library or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site which is linked to


    The Sea of Marmara; a body of water in northwest Turkey between European and Asian Turkey connected with the Euxine (Black Sea) by the Bosporus and connected with the Aegean Sea by the Dardanelles; also spelled Marmora.


    The daughter of the river god, Euenos, and wife of Idas.

    Kleopatra (Cleopatra), the daughter of Marpessa and Idas, was stolen by Apollon and Marpessa’s sorrowful crying earned Kleopatra the by-name Alkyone, i.e. sea bird.


    A satyr who lost in a flute playing competition with Apollon and was flayed alive as a penalty.


    The brother of the fourth king of the Persian Empire, Xerxes.

    After his humiliating defeat at the hands of the Greeks, Xerxes returned to the city of Sardis; he tried, and failed, to seduce Masistes’ wife (who is un-named); as another ploy to win the woman’s affection, Xerxes arranged for his son, Darius, to marry Masistes’ daughter, Artaynte.

    True to his ever shifting passions, Xerxes lost interest in Masistes’ wife and began a love affair with young Artaynte; when Xerxes’ wife, Amestris, suspected the betrayal, she set a clever trap for her husband and her daughter-in-law; she gave Xerxes an exquisite cloak that she knew young Artaynte would covet; Xerxes, in his prideful way, promised Artaynte anything she desired and she surprised him by asking for the unique and beautiful cloak; when Amestris saw the cloak in the possession of young Artaynte she knew for certain that Xerxes was being unfaithful to her and planned an evil and unexpected revenge.

    Instead of punishing Xerxes or Artaynte, Amestris killed and mutilated Masistes’ wife; Xerxes was caught in the middle of his own intrigues; Masistes, hated him for the savage murder of his wife and left Sardis with the intention of mounting a revolt against Xerxes; to protect his throne, Xerxes caught and killed Masistes, his sons and supporters.


    A nation in eastern Asia that was rather poor and unsophisticated by Persian standards.

    When the seasoned army of Kyrus the Great attacked the Massagetae armies of queen Tomyris, they were utterly defeated and Kyrus was killed.


    The king of the city of Tyre; father of Dido and Pygmalion.

    Mathematike Syntaxis
    System of Mathematics

    A book of astronomical observations compiled by Ptolemy between 141 and 147 CE.

    The name was changed to Almagest in the Middle Ages when it was translated into Arabic; Almagest means The Greatest, i.e. the Great Compilation.

    Mausoleum of Halikarnassus

    One of the Seven Wonders of the World.

    The Mausoleum of Halikarnassus was an above-ground tomb for the ruler of Halikarnassus (Halicarnassus), Mausolus; the tomb was completed by his wife, Artemisia, in 353 BCE; Mausolus was the Persian satrap of the district of Karia (Caria) with Halikarnassus as his capitol city.

    Although Mausolus was a Persian, his inclinations were decidedly Greek; he was noted for his aggressive political maneuvering and lavish spending on public works projects; he was married to his sister, Artemisia, and died in the prime of his life.

    As a lasting monument to his fame and fortune, Artemisia constructed an above-ground tomb in the center of the city of Halikarnassus to house the body of her beloved husband throughout eternity; the tomb was 140 feet (43 meters) in height including the podium, the colonnade, the pyramidal roof and the chariot statue that crowned the structure.


    The son of Hekatomnus; he became the satrap of the king of Persia for the district of Karia (Caria) in 377 BCE with the city of Halikarnassus (Halicarnassus) as his capitol.

    As a native of Karia, Mausolus was a Persian by birth but his interests and loyalties were Greek; he conquered many of the coastal towns to the south in Lykia (Lycia) and, in 357 BCE, he organized the revolt that caused the islands of Kos (Cos), Rhodes and Khios (Chios) to break their ties with the Athenian Confederacy.

    Mausolus was married to his sister, Artemisia, who, after he died at a relatively young age, honored him with a tomb that was so spectacular that his name has become synonymous with all above-ground tombs; we call such tombs Mausoleums.

    The tomb was completed by Artemisia circa 353 BCE and, because of its spectacular size and lavish decorations, became one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


    The common name for the river god, Maiandros, and his river.

    The Meander flowed westward from Phrygia in Asia Minor and entered the Aegean Sea at the ancient city of Miletus; the river was so crooked that we now use the term Meander to mean Wandering.

    Medea (1)

    The daughter of king Aietes (Aeetes) and Idyia and the wife of Iason (Jason).

    Medea was the sister of Khalkiope (Chalciope) and the half-brother of Apsyrtos; she inherited the power of enchantment from her aunt, Kirke (Circe), and used her magic to assist Iason during his quest for the Golden Fleece.

    The goddess, Hera, was offended at Medea’s father, Aietes, and used Medea and Iason to exact her revenge; she induced Aphrodite (goddess of Love) to persuade Eros (the primal god of Love) to shoot Medea with one of his arrows of irresistible love; Medea had no choice but to love Iason when he came to her father’s palace; she used her powers to assist and protect Iason and the Argonauts and, in doing so, betrayed her father.

    When Iason was required to harness the bronze-footed bulls and sow the dragon’s teeth, Medea evoked the goddess, Hekate (Hecate), to protect Iason; when Iason wanted to take the Golden Fleece from the Garden of Ares, Medea enchanted the guardian dragon and, finally, when the Argonauts reached the island of Crete, Medea called down the Death-Spirits to defeat the bronze man, Talos.

    When she left Kolkhis with Iason, Aietes sent her half-brother, Apsyrtos, to bring her back; to avoid capture, Iason and Medea ambushed and murdered Apsyrtos; Zeus was furious at such a callous act and even her aunt, Kirke, would not grant forgiveness to Medea.

    When Aietes found out that Medea was being protected by the king of the Phaiakians (Phaeacians), Alkinoos (Alcinous), he demanded her return; king Alkinoos declared that if Medea was unmarried she was still bound to her father’s will but if she was married, she was responsible only to her husband; Iason and Medea were married and Aietes was left without recourse for his daughter’s betrayal.

    According to Herodotus (book 1, chapter 2), the failure to return Medea was one of a series of events which led to the justification of the kidnapping of Helen and thus, the Trojan War.

    After their successful return to Iolkos (Iolcos), Medea and Iason became involved in more intrigue and murder; Iason’s uncle, king Pelias, had arranged the death of Iason’s father, Aison, and Medea sought to help Iason by causing Pelias’ death; Medea told the gullible daughters of Pelias that she could restore his youthful vigor with one of her potions; she demonstrated the process on a sheep and the daughters were convinced that Medea could do as she said; the unwitting daughters cut their father into pieces and the lifeless fragments did not reanimate.

    Pelias’ son, Akastos (Acastus), assumed the throne after his father’s death and forced Iason and Medea to leave Iolkos; when the refugees came to the city of Korinth (Corinth), they were given sanctuary by king Kreon (Creon); while they lived in Korinth, Iason and Medea had two sons; Iason fell in love with the king’s daughter, Glauke (Glauce) and abandoned Medea; in her rage, Medea made a poisoned cloak for Glauke and effectively murdered her; after killing her sons, Medea fled to Athens and became the consort of the aged king Aegeus, who happened to be the father of the hero, Theseus.

    Aegeus had abandoned Theseus as a child and did not recognize his son when he came to Athens but Medea, with her supernatural powers, knew who Theseus was and feared that he might threaten her hold on Aegeus; she plotted the death of Theseus and persuaded Aegeus to send him to Marathon to capture a bull that was ravaging the countryside; Theseus successfully captured the bull and, when he returned to Athens, Medea tried to poison him but Aegeus finally recognized his son and saved Theseus’ life.

    Medea fled Athens and settled in Persia, the inhabitants of Persia were called Aryans but changed their name to Medes to honor of Medea.

    Medea (2)

    A tragedy by the Athenian poet, Euripides, which was produced in 431 BCE.

    The play is set in the city of Korinth (Corinth) after Iason (Jason) and Medea have stolen the Golden Fleece from Medea’s father, king Aietes, and been given sanctuary by the tyrant of Korinth, Kreon (Creon).

    Despite the fact that Iason and Medea have two young children, Kreon wants Iason to marry his daughter, who was not mentioned by name in the play; when Medea learns of the marriage she becomes visibly deranged and everyone, except Iason, can see that she is on the verge of a mental breakdown.

    When Kreon informs Medea that she and her two sons are to be banished from Korinth, her overt psychotic behavior vanishes and she becomes calm and calculating; she makes two very clever alliances before anyone can perceive the depth of her evil plotting.

    She binds the women of Korinth, who play the role of the chorus in the play, and the visiting ruler from the city of Athens, Aegeus, with solemn oaths; Medea makes the women of Korinth, who despise Iason for his unmanly and selfish behavior, swear that they will not thwart her revenge on Iason and Kreon; Medea entices Aegeus to swear that he will give her sanctuary after she is banished from Korinth.

    With these two advantages, Medea then arranges for some poisoned gifts to be delivered to Kreon’s daughter; the gifts are enchanted and bring a particularly gruesome death to the young bride-to-be; when Kreon sees his once lovely daughter he cradles what is left of her charred body in his arms; the magical curse is transferred to him and he also dies horribly.

    Medea is not finished; she then takes a sword and slaughters her two young boys; after taunting Iason with the depth of her revenge, Medea makes her escape to Athens on a chariot provided by her grandfather, Helios (the Sun).

    There are several very moving parts of this play; one especially dramatic scene is when Iason stands before Medea and boldly explains that his marriage to Kreon’s daughter is really for Medea’s benefit and that, when he and his new wife have children, Medea’s sons will have the advantage of royal half-brothers; Iason makes no apologies for his choices and says that the fact that Medea has been banished from Korinth is her own fault because she will not accept the good fortune that the marriage to Kreon’s daughter will bring; Medea’s response to Iason’s temerity is eloquent and provocative.

    Another interesting scene is where the nurse, who is completely loyal to Medea and seeks an end to Medea’s mental hardship, wonders aloud why music has never been developed which can cure illness; she laments that the music used at banquets and celebrations is unnecessary because people engaged in those events are already in good health and high spirits.

    Although rather short, this is an excellent play and, aside from the blood and gore, is engaging and well presented; you must remember that the plays presented in Athens are comparable to present day Hollywood movies in that a movie might proclaim that it is based on a true story or a popular book but we all know that literature and truth are always sacrificed for the sake of drama and action; the same was true for Greek plays; many of the assumed facts of the story of Iason and the Argonauts are not to be found or are contradicted in this play; just like a modern movie audience, it’s assumed that the Greek audience knew the background of the story line, but not too well.

    M to Medea 2

    M to Medea 2 Medea 3 to Miletus 2 Milmas to Mytilene


    Home • Essays • People, Places & Things • The Immortals
    Greek Myths Bookshop • Fun Fact Quiz • Search/Browse • Links • About