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Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > Gadfly to Golden Girdle of Ares
Gadfly to Golden Girdle of Ares Gordian Knot to Gyro
The common name for the fly that Hera sent to goad the heifer maiden, Io, so that she could have no rest and be forced to constantly keep moving.
Hera used the Gadfly to punish Io for something that she had neither caused or encouraged, i.e. the young maiden, Io, had attracted the attention of Zeus.
The ancient Greek goddess of Earth.
Gaia was the second Immortal, after Khaos (Chaos), to come into existence; her first creation was Ouranos, the starry Heavens, who was her equal in all ways; then she created Ourea, the Mountains; her third creation was Pontos, the barren Sea.
With her own children, Gaia gave birth to all manner of immortal creatures including; the Titans, Okeanos (Ocean), the Giants, Erinyes (Furies), the Nymphs of the Ash Trees and Hekate (Hecate).
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
Galatea was loved by the Cyclops, Polyphemos (Polyphemus), but rejected him for Akis (Acis); in a jealous rage, Polyphemos crushed Akis with a stone and Galatea transformed Akis into a river.
An Okeanid, i.e. one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.
Zeus gave the Okeanids, Apollon and the Rivers the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus; her name might be translated as Calm.
A peninsula of land in European Turkey between the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea; 60 miles (97 kilometers) in length.
The Gallipoli Peninsula forms the northern side of the Hellespont and had the principal cities of Sestos (located on the Hellespont opposite the city of Abydos) and Elaeus (located at the tip of the peninsula).
The modern name for the whirlpool, Kharybdis (Charybdis), in the Strait of Messina off the northeastern coast of the island of Sicily.
Kharybdis is a daughter of Gaia (Earth) and Poseidon (lord of the Sea); Kharybdis would alternately suck down the waters into her maw and then spew the waters out causing gigantic waves; passing ships were in double jeopardy as they passed Kharybdis because in order to avoid the surging waters, they had to sail dangerously close to the six headed monster, Skylla (Scylla), who occupied the other side of the Strait of Messina.
The third letter in the Greek alphabet.
One of the three sons of Tros; he was abducted by Zeus and taken to Mount Olympos (Olympus) where he was made the cup-bearer of the Immortals and thus became immortal himself; his brothers were Ilos and Assarakos (Assaracos).
A tribe mentioned by the historian Herodotus who lived in the deserts of Northern Africa; Herodotus described them as hunters and farmers who grew their crops on soil they placed on top of the desert salt and used their four-horse teams to hunt the cave-dwelling Ethiopians.
Recent excavations in the African desert of south-western Libya have given us a new appreciation for the Garamantes and their culture; they are now believed to have had at least three large cities and twenty smaller communities which supported a population of perhaps fifty thousand citizens.
Their cities and farms were vitalized by an extensive network of underground irrigation canals which extended for thousands of miles and provided water to nourish the harsh desert environment.
During the rise and pentacle of the Roman Empire, the Garamantes traded in gold, ivory and slaves; the population and culture slowly began to diminish as trade with Rome and other wealthy Mediterranean cities came to an end; the lack of trade and the gradual lowering of the water table sealed the fate of the Garamantes and by 700 CE they were, for all practical purposes, forgotten by history.
Another name for Amphithemis; he was a son of Apollon and Akakallis (Acacallis); his home was in Libya and he had two sons: Nasamon and Kaphauros (Caphauros); his wife was a nymph but her name is unknown.
Also called the Sanctuary of Ares and the Grove of Ares; a grove in the district of Kolkhis (Colchis) where the Golden Fleece was kept.
The Golden Fleece was protected by an ever-vigilant dragon but the sorceress, Medea, cast a spell on the dragon with a hypnotic song and undiluted potions; Iason (Jason) and the Argonauts took the Fleece from the grove and fled Kolkhis.
The Hesperides are the daughters of Nyx (Night) who were set to guard the Golden Apples that were a wedding gift to Hera from Gaia (Earth) upon her wedding to Zeus; their names are: Aegle, Eretheis and Hespere.
The Hesperides live in a garden in the far west across the waters of Okeanos (Ocean); the Hesperides guarded the Golden Apples with the help of the dragon, Ladon; the Golden Apples were the object of the Eleventh Labor of Herakles (Heracles).
The highest peak of Mount Ida where Zeus has his altar.
A Mesopotamian city on the eastern side of the Tigris River in central Persia.
When Alexander the Great and his army invaded Persia, the Persian king, Darius III, could not withstand the superior military strategies or leadership of the Greek forces; two years after his humiliating defeat at Issus in 333 BCE, Darius once again faced Alexander near the city of Gaugamela; again, Darius fled in utter defeat and left his army to be routed by the numerically inferior Greeks; this battle is often referred to as the Battle of Arbela.
(Outrage); The goddess of violence and outrage.
A city on the southern coast of the island of Sicily; originally founded circa 688 BCE by colonists from the islands of Rhodes and Crete.
Circa 788, the tyrant who became known as Hippokrates (Hippocrates) of Gela assumed control of the entire island of Sicily; Gela was nearly abandoned circa 482 BCE when another tyrant, Gelon, moved half the population of Gela to the more promising port city of Syracuse.
In 405 BCE the Carthaginians destroyed Gela and Dionysius I of Syracuse ordered that the city be abandoned.
The city was rebuilt circa 337 BCE after Dionysius II was expelled from the island by the Greek commander, Timoleon, who made Syracuse his capital and, with the aid of Greek mercenaries, secured the eastern portion of Sicily as a Greek enclave.
After Timoleon’s death, the rule of Syracuse was entrusted to an oligarchy of six hundred citizens; in 311 BCE, after twenty five years of oligarchic government, the tyrant, Agathokles (Agathocles), came to power and, as revenge for assisting the oligarchy in his oppression, Agathokles had thousands of the inhabitants of Gela put to death.
Circa 281 BCE Gela was razed by pirates and the surviving citizens moved to the city of Phintias (modern Licata); Gela remained mostly uninhabited until 1233 CE when it was renamed by Frederick II as Terranova di Sicilia; the city again became Gela in 1928.
Approximate east longitude 14.15 and north latitude 37.04.
One of the four ancient tribes of Ionia; their name means Farmers; the other tribes were known as: Aigikoreis (Aigicoreis) (Goat-Herds or Goat-Feeders); Oplites (Hoplites) (Men in Armor); and Argadeis (Workmen or Laborers).
The constellation of the Twins, representing the Dioskuri (Dioscuri), i.e. the sons of Zeus: Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux).
The fragmented surviving text of a work by Akusilaus (Acusilaus) from the late sixth century BCE.
A prefix meaning earth.
A book by Ptolemy dealing with, as the name implies, the geography of the known world at the time of its composition (90-168 CE).
The book was a combination of astute perceptions and gross miscalculations but the overall effect was one of inspiration for future generations.
Old Age; a child of Nyx (Night); called malignant and hard-hearted but the name literally means, Of Things Ancient.
Another name for the aged hero, Nestor; I assume that this title denotes Nestor’s age and reputation (rather than his place of origin).
The three-bodied warrior slain by Herakles (Heracles) in the course of his Tenth Labor (Taking the Cattle of Geryon).
Geryon was the son of the immortal Khrysaor (Chrysaor) and Kallirhoe (Callirhoe); he grazed his cattle in the far-western land of Erytheia; he was depicted in a variety of forms because the ancient artists weren’t quite sure how a three-bodied man might look; he is shown with three heads and six feet, one head with three faces and six feet, three winged bodies and other equally unlikely combinations; the written accounts go back as far as Hesiod (eighth century BCE) but the artistic record is much more extensive.
Upon arrival in Erytheia, Herakles promptly slew Geryon’s two-headed dog, Ortho, and after a fierce fight Geryon and his herdsman, Eurytion, were also killed; on the long journey to Erytheia, Herakles became so weary of the burning heat of Helios, he raised his bow and shot an arrow at the Sun; Helios was so amused at Herakles’ impudence that he gave the hero a golden bowl to traverse the western sea; after Herakles had killed Geryon, he put the cattle into the golden bowl and sailed back across the sea.
Huge monsters; the children of Gaia (Earth) engendered by the blood of Ouranos (the Heavens).
The Gigantes waged an unsuccessful war on the Olympians and were imprisoned under the earth after their defeat; the Gigantes were giants who were mostly human in form but with serpents for feet.
The stone peninsula on the south-central coast of Spain; 1,396 feet (426 meters) in height; located at the western extreme of the Mediterranean Sea where it connects with the Atlantic Ocean.
Gibraltar and Jebel Musa were called the Pillars of Herakles (Heracles) by the ancients; Gibraltar was known as Kalpe (Calpe) and Jebel Musa was known as Abyla.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
The daughter of the king of the city of Korinth (Corinth), Kreon (Creon).
After Iason (Jason) and the Argonauts had taken the Golden Fleece from Kolkhis (Colchis) and eluded capture by the pursuing fleet of king Aietes (Aeetes), Iason and his sorceress wife, Medea, were forced to leave Iason’s home in Iolkos (Iolcos) and the pair took refuge in Korinth; Iason fell in love with Glauke and abandoned Medea; in her rage, Medea made a poisoned cloak for Glauke and effectively murdered her.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
An epitaph for Athene (Athena) meaning Bright Eyed; the owl, her symbolic bird, is called a glaukes because of it’s intense eyes; likewise, the silver Athenian coin, the glaukes, was called an owl because it was imprinted with Athene’s sacred bird.
A Trojan ally from Lykia; the son of Hippolokhos (Hippolochos); the grandson of Bellerophontes (Bellerophon).
In the last year of the siege of the city of Troy, Glaukos faced the Greek hero, Diomedes, and told the story of his lineage and the tale of Bellerophontes; Diomedes said that his grandfather, Oineus, had been a guest-friend of Bellerophontes and, as the grandsons of these two men, it was not proper for them to fight; they got down from their chariots and exchanged armor (Zeus took Glaukos’ senses away because he exchanged his golden armor for Diomedes’ bronze armor).
His name may also be rendered as Glaucos or Glaucus.
A divine seer who lives in the sea; Glaukos was thought to have been a man from the waist up and a fish from the waist down.
When the Argonauts were on their way to Kolkhis (Colchis), Herakles (Heracles) and Polyphemos (Polyphemus) left the crew of the Argo to search for their lost companion, Hylas; when the ship set sail without them, the Argonauts began to argue about the wisdom of leaving Hylas, Herakles and Polyphemos behind; as the argument reached the point of violence, Glaukos rose from the sea and grabbed the keel of the Argo; he proclaimed that the will of Zeus had been done; Herakles was to return to his Twelve Labors, Polyphemos was destined to found a new town and Hylas had become the husband of a water nymph; the Argonauts accepted this without further debate and returned to their quest.
The token by which a lost child is identified.
The legendary Athenian king, Aegeus, left a sword and a pair of sandals under a boulder so that when his son, Theseus, was strong enough to move the boulder and remove the sword and sandals he would be manly enough to join his father in Athens and claim his royal inheritance; the sword and sandals were referred to as the gnorismata.
One of the seven Persians who successfully mounted the revolt which deposed the usurper, Smerdis, from the throne of the Persian Empire.
While the second king of the Persian Empire, Kambyses (Cambyses), was occupied with the subjugation of Egypt, a Mede named Smerdis assumed the role of Kambyses’ dead brother, also named Smerdis, and claimed the throne for himself.
Kambyses had secretly arranged the murder of his brother, Smerdis, and therefore knew that the Smerdis on the throne was not his brother but, before Kambyses could return to confront the false-Smerdis and reclaim his throne, he accidentally wounded himself with his own sword and died.
The false-Smerdis was very clever at concealing his true identity and never left the palace or allowed high ranking Persians to see him; the false-Smerdis not only bore the same name as Kambyses’ brother but was also physically similar to him, with one exception: the Median Smerdis had no ears; Kambyses had inflicted a punishment on the Mede that required that his ears be lopped off.
One of the seven conspirators, Otanes, was the first to suspect that something was wrong and he devised a plan to determine the truth of the matter; Otanes’ daughter, Phaedyme, was the wife the true-Smerdis and was occasionally required to attend the false-Smerdis as part of his pretense to the throne; Otanes instructed her to secretly feel Smerdis’ head to see if he had any ears; Phaedyme bravely obeyed her father and recognized the false-Smerdis for what he was.
Otanes began to recruit other Persians in what would ultimately be a rebellion; with the help of Gobryas, Intaphrenes, Megabyzus, Darius, Aspathines and Hydarnes, Otanes plotted to murder the false-Smerdis and reclaim the throne of the empire for the Persians; the seven rebels fought their way into the false-king’s chamber and killed him; when the populace found out what had transpired, a wave of violence swept the city and only darkness saved the Medes from complete extermination.
The seven men then debated as to which type of government to establish; the former king, Kambyses, had been cruel and excessive in the extreme but Darius argued for another monarchy and finally won the others to his point of view; Darius was installed as the third king of the Persian Empire in 521 BCE.
Gobryas and the other rebels were granted special privileges in the new kingdom and were allowed to have an audience with the king at any time unless he was with one of his wives.
A fleece of pure gold that was all that remained of the flying ram that bore Helle and her brother, Phrixus, as they attempted to fly to safety across the body of water that was later to be named the Hellespont, i.e. the Sea of Helle.
Their mother, Nephele, and Hermes provided the golden ram so that Helle and Phrixus could escape the evil plotting of their stepmother, Ino; Helle fell from the ram and drowned in the water below, thus the name: Helle-pontos.
The ram was sacrificed by Phrixus and the Golden Fleece was kept in Kolkhis (Colchis) until Iason (Jason) and the Argonauts retrieved it as part of the seemingly suicidal mission that was forced on them by the king of Iolkos (Iolcos), Pelias.
The story of the Golden Fleece incorporates numerous creatures and heroes from previous adventure epics as related by Homer; the story of the Golden Fleece is best told by the poet Apollonius Rhodius, i.e. Apollonius of Rhodes, in the epic poem, Argonautika.
I have not tried to relate the entire story here but have only included the highlights of the adventures of the Argonauts; for the complete story I recommend Argonautika by Peter Green, ISBN 0520076877, which is available at most libraries and through the Book Shop on this site which is connected to Amazon.com.
THE STORY OF THE GOLDEN FLEECE
King Pelias of Iolkos was warned that a stranger with one sandal would come to take his throne and so when Iason arrived, having lost one of his sandals in a river, Pelias devised a plan where Iason would be required to undertake an impossible task and never return; Pelias also made the mistake of offending Hera by not giving her proper honor at his sacrifices and so Hera plotted to have Pelias punished; the voyage of the Argonauts was to be the method by which Hera would achieve this end.
Pelias sent Iason to retrieve the magical fleece of gold that had been created by Hermes and kept in the Grove of Ares (god of War) in the far-off land of Kolkhis; the king of Kolkhis was a mighty ruler and a fierce man named Aietes (Aeetes); Pelias was certain that Aietes would never voluntarily surrender the Golden Fleece and that Iason would never be able to take it by force.
Iason was not foolhardy enough to attempt such a feat alone, so he gathered the bravest and most adventuresome men in Greece to aid him in his quest; the members of the crew that Iason assembled were collectively known as the Argonauts; they took their name from the ship which was built expressly for their voyage, the Argo; the ship was designed by a man named Argus and the construction of the ship was overseen by the goddess of craft and skill, Athene (Athena).
The most famous Argonaut was, of course, Herakles (Heracles) but others included the sons of Poseidon, sons of Boreas (North Wind) and sons of Helios (the Sun).
The land of Kolkhis was on the eastern edge of the sea named the Euxine (Black Sea); they sailed north through the Aegean Sea to the Hellespont and onwards to the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) and survived the attacks of several of the native inhabitants; they encountered the pitiful, blind seer, Phineus, who was being punished by Zeus and Helios by having his food eaten and defiled by the she-birds, the Harpies; the winged sons of Boreas, Kalais (Calais) and Zetes chased away the Harpies and freed Phineus from his curse; Phineus then rewarded the Argonauts by giving them instructions as to how to get to Kolkhis and safely return to their homeland.
The Argonauts had to pass through the Clashing Rocks which guarded the narrow passage from the Propontis to the Euxine; called “the twin Kyanean (Cyanean) Rocks where the two seas meet,” the gigantic rocks would clash together whenever any living thing tried to pass between them; Phineus, told the Argonauts to send a dove through the Clashing Rocks before they attempted to sail their ship through; if the dove survived, it would be safe for the Argo to proceed; the dove flew between the Clashing Rocks with only the loss of its tail feathers and the Argo sailed boldly into the passage; Athene held back one of the rocks with one hand and pushed the Argo through with the other; the Clashing Rocks then became stationary islands and never menaced sailors again.
In the land of the Mysians, one of the sailors, Hylas, went in search of water and was abducted by the nymphs of a spring; Herakles and Polyphemos (Polyphemus) refused to leave the island without Hylas and the Argo sailed without them; the fate of the Argonauts began to change and they suffered their first casualties; Idmon was the first to die; he died from wounds inflicted by a monstrous, white-tusked boar; then Tiphys died of a fast-acting sickness; when they came to the Isle of Ares, Oileus died after he was struck by a feather from one of the war god’s birds; on the Isle of Ares they found the four sons of Phrixus who were shipwrecked on the island; their father, Phrixus, was the one who had originally sacrificed the golden ram and given it to Aietes; the four brothers joined the Argonauts and they proceeded to Kolkhis.
Iason tried to reason with Aietes but the king was beyond reason; Hera and Athene went to Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and asked her to intervene on Iason’s behalf; Aphrodite sent Eros (the primal god of Love) to shoot the king’s daughter, Medea, with an arrow of irresistible love; when Medea saw Iason she was helpless in her desire for him; Medea was a priestess of the goddess, Hekate (Hecate), and the niece of the sorceress-nymph, Kirke (Circe).
Aietes decided that it would not be wise to blatantly refuse Iason’s request for the Golden Fleece so he cunningly challenged Iason to demonstrate his strength by harnessing two fierce supernatural, bronze-footed bulls, plow a field and plant the dragon’s teeth of Kadmus (Cadmus); the dragon’s teeth would grow into warriors and then Iason would have to fight and kill the Earth-Born warriors.
Iason met with Medea and together they plotted how he could survive the ordeal and win the Golden Fleece without having to fight Aietes’ army or resort to common thievery; Medea gave Iason a potion which was made from the flowers that grew from the blood of Prometheus as he laid suffering, chained to the Caucasus Mountains; Iason made a sacrifice to Hekate and bathed himself and his weapons in the magic potion.
At dawn the following day Iason went into the field to face the bronze-footed bulls and plant the dragon’s teeth; the Earthborn warriors sprang from the ground and attacked Iason with fury; using the same trick that Kadmus had used, he tossed a stone in the midst of the warriors and let them fight amongst themselves until their numbers were small enough so that he could kill the remainder; Aietes was furious.
Medea, still in the thralls of love, led the Argonauts to the Grove of Ares where the Golden Fleece was kept; the Fleece was protected by an ever-vigilant dragon but Medea cast a spell on the dragon with a hypnotic song and undiluted potions; Iason took the Fleece and fled.
Aietes soon realized the treachery of his daughter and sent a fleet in pursuit; Aietes insisted that he would have honored his promise to surrender the Golden Fleece but he justified his pursuit of the Argonauts because they had taken Medea.
In their escape, the Argonauts took the long and difficult route up the Ister (Danube) River and across southern Europe, hoping to elude their pursuers; Aietes’ son, Apsyrtos, led the fleet that pursued the Argo; when the Argonauts were finally cornered and feared a direct confrontation with Apsyrtos and his numerous ships, Iason and Medea devised a treacherous plan where they would meet with Apsyrtos and Medea would pretend to surrender herself to him while Iason waited in ambush; as Medea was talking to Apsyrtos, Iason attacked and killed him; without a leader, the pursuers lost their momentum and the Argonauts made their escape; fearful of what king Aietes would do when they returned without Medea or Apsyrtos, the sailors chose to stay in Europe and never return home to Kolkhis.
The keel of the Argo, inspired by Athene, warned the Argonauts that Zeus was furious at the murder of Apsyrtos and urged them to go to Kirke’s island and beg forgiveness; on the island of Kirke, Medea asked to be forgiven but Kirke could not absolve them of such a wanton murder; Hera implored Thetis and the other Nereids, Hephaistos (Hephaestus) and Aiolos (Aeolus) (lord of the Winds) to protect the Argonauts and guide them through the dangers that awaited them on the open sea; one by one, the monster, Skylla (Scylla), the whirlpool, Kharybdis (Charybdis), and the clear-voiced Sirens were overcome; when they arrived on the island of the Phaiakians (Phaeacians) the king, Alkinoos (Alcinous), declared that he would not help Iason and Medea unless they were married and so the couple took the sacred wedding vows and gained sanctuary.
Once again at sea, the Argo was blown ashore in Libya by a tempest; the Argonauts had to carry the ship across the Libyan desert to lake Trito; the god Triton arose from the lake and guided the desperate Argonauts back to the Mediterranean Sea.
When they approached the island of Crete, the Argonauts were unable to make a safe landing because the gigantic bronze man, Talos, guarded the shore; again Medea used her magical powers to save the Argo from certain destruction; she invoked the Death-Spirits to befuddle Talos and, in a fit of confusion, Talos stumbled on the rocky shore and tore the thin membrane at his heel allowing the fluid of life, ikhor (ichor), to drain from his otherwise impervious body.
From Crete the remaining Argonauts sailed safely to their home in Thessaly thus ending the quest for the Golden Fleece and the voyage of the Argo according to Apollonius; the continuation of the story was told by poets such as Euripides and in various pieces of artwork dating back to the fifth century BCE.
After arriving back in Iolkos, Iason found that his father was dead through the trickery of king Pelias; Medea hatched an evil revenge on Pelias and his daughters; using her occult skills, Medea convinced Pelias’ daughters that she could restore their father’s youth if he was cut into pieces and put in a caldron filled with magical herbs; to demonstrate the process, Medea successfully performed the process on a ram; the unwitting girls followed Medea’s instructions and their father was killed but not reanimated.
When news of Medea’s sorcery had spread throughout Iolkos, Iason and Medea are forced to flee to the city of Korinth (Corinth) and take refuge with king Kreon (Creon); Iason and Medea had two children but Iason fell in love with the king’s daughter, Glauke (Glauce); Medea was well practiced in the art of revenge so she made a poison cloak for Glauke and effectively murdered her; as a further attack on Iason for his infidelity, Medea killed their two children and fled to Athens on a chariot drawn by dragons; Medea eventually made her way to Persia and founded the race we know as the Medes.
The prize that Herakles (Heracles) took from Hippolyte, the Amazon queen, for the king, Admete, of Pherae in Thessaly.
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