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Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > Gordian Knot to Gyro
Gadfly to Golden Girdle of Ares Gordian Knot to Gyro
The king of ancient Phrygia, Gordius, tied a very complicated knot and, according to popular belief, the knot could only be undone by the man who would eventually rule Asia.
When Alexander the Great came to Phrygia, he pondered the knot and instead of untying it, he drew his sword and cut it; by undoing the Gordian Knot, Alexander became an agent of legend and conquered Phrygia and all of Asia.
The legendary king of Phrygia who was credited with tying the famous Gordian Knot.
Gordius was a peasant with no pretense of nobility but when Phrygia was torn by revolt, he became the ruler by order of an oracle; the oracle of Zeus advised the people of Phrygia that their civil strife would end if they would appoint the next man they saw driving a wagon to the temple of Zeus; Gordius was the man the oracle had indicated.
Gordius dedicated his wagon to Zeus and it was noted that the knot by which the yoke was attached to the wagon was so intricate and clever that there must be some divine implication to its existence; a legend arose that the Phrygians would never be conquered unless the knot was undone; when Alexander the Great came to Phrygia on his march into Asia, he pondered the knot and instead of untying it, he drew his sword and cut it.
Gordius was the father of Phrygia’s most famous king, Midas.
The mask of the Gorgon, i.e. the head of Medusa; this image is usually associated with the Aegis of Zeus and a popular theme in Greek artwork throughout the ages.
The collective name for the three hideous daughters of Phorkys (Phorcys); with snakes writhing from their heads, wrists and waists, the three monster-women were dreaded and feared.
Their form, as depicted in Greek art, changed over the centuries until they finally became the snake headed she-monsters we know today; they were named Sthenno, Euryale and Medusa; Sthenno and Euryale were immortal but Medusa was mortal and anyone who gazed upon her face was turned to stone.
Three generations before Herakles (Heracles) the hero Perseus was sent by the king of the island of Seriphos, Polydektes (Polydectes), to kill Medusa and cut off her head.
Perseus first sought out the sisters of the Gorgons, the Graiai, who were gray from birth and shared one tooth and one eye between them; Perseus stole their tooth and eye and, using them as ransom, forced the Graiai to give him the location of the nymphs who had possession of the Cap of Hades (which would make him invisible), a pair of winged sandals (for flying) and a kibisis (a bag to hold Medusa’s head); he later obtained a sickle (or sword) from Hermes and set out to slay Medusa.
With the help of Athene (Athena) Perseus was able to cut off Medusa’s head; after the attack on their sister, Sthenno and Euryale chased Perseus but his flying sandals saved him.
Numerous beasts sprang from the blood dripping from Medusa’s severed head including: the flying horse, Pegasos (Pegasus), Khrysaor (Chrysaor) and countless serpents in the deserts of Libya.
For more detailed information on the Gorgons I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.
The daughters of Zeus and Eurynome; they are: Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia.
The Graces are the attendants of Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and, as their name implies, they are the incarnation of Grace and Charm; from their eyes, bewildering love issues.
In addition to the original three, Phanenna was considered one of the Graces and was worshiped at Sparta.
The Gray Sisters, “sisters gray from birth;” the daughters of Keto (Ceto) and Phorkys (Phorcys); they are: well clad Pemphredo and saffron robed Enyo.
The Graiai are sisters of the Gorgons and the Hesperides; they were said to have one tooth and one eye between them; when Perseus encountered them he took their eye and tooth and forced them to reveal the location of the nymphs who could supply him with the Cap of Hades (which would make him invisible), a pair of winged sandals (for flying) and a kibisis (a bag) so he could complete his quest for the head of the Gorgon, Medusa; later descriptions of the Graiai include Deino as one of the sisters.
A festival of ancient Athens in honor of Dionysus; celebrated in the early Spring and notable for the performance of dithyrambs (a wild and irregular choral song or chant), tragedies, comedies and satyr plays (ribald dramas with a chorus of satyrs).
The Lesser Dionysia (Rural Dionysia) was also a festival of ancient Attika (Attica) honoring Dionysus but it was held in mid-December and consisted of wine feasts, processions and dramatic performances.
The title of The Catalogue of Women which is usually attributed to Hesiod; the Catalogue was widely quoted and many fragments survive.
Each chapter of the Catalogue began with the English equivalent of the word “Eoiae” which can be translated as “Or like her... ”, the poem would then go on to name a particular woman and then tell the story of her past and her descendants, for example: from the beginning of the Shield of Herakles which tells the story of Alkmene (Alcmene), “Or like her who left the home of her fathers and came to Thebes with warlike Amphitryon, even Alkmene, daughter of the leader of men, Elektryon... etc.”
The Catalogue of Women was an attempt by Hesiod to trace the Greek families as they descended through the mothers rather than the fathers because, it is assumed, the Immortals would seed the mortal race through the women they seduced; the only complete poem from The Catalogue of Women extant is The Shield of Herakles.
For the complete translations of the Catalogue of Women, 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 Amazon.com.
The Great Kind Mother; another name for Kybele (Cybele), an Asiatic Earth goddess the Greeks identified with the wife of Kronos (Cronos), Rheia (Rhea).
Before 430 BCE, the center of worship for Kybele was in Phrygia in Asia Minor but a shrine was established in the city of Athens during the plague of 430 BCE in hopes that the Earth-Goddess would be appeased and end the suffering that decimated the Athenians.
The common name for the king of Persia regardless of who held the title.
In the city of Athens, a name for Persian officials because they served as the Persian king’s spies.
The common name for the peninsula, islands and colonies belonging to the descendants of Hellen, who was the father of all the Greeks.
The areas dominated by the Greeks varied over time but the Balkan Peninsula and the Peloponnesian Peninsula was their traditional home and, with few lapses, the Greeks ruled themselves with a fiercely independent determination which resisted any form of foreign control.
The Greek culture can be generally dated back to the end of the third century BCE Greece when the descendants of Hellen displaced the pre-historic inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula and established the language and culture we have come to call Greek.
Then as now, Greece is more properly known as Ellas.
A strong northeast wind that blows in the central and western Mediterranean Sea; also called Eurokilydon or Eurocilydon.
There are two types of winds:
The divinely created winds nourish and bless the earth but the winds of Typhoeus are wild and destructive.
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.
His name may also be rendered as Grenikus or Grenicus.
Neikea; the children of Eris (Discord).
A mythical creature having the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a loin; called a Hippalektryon, or Ippalektryon, by the ancient Greeks.
The historian, Herodotus, provides a location for the Griffins; he states that they “guard gold” in a land north of the one-eyed Arimaspians and south of the land of the Hyperboreans.
Also called the Sanctuary of Ares and the Garden 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.
A sacred tradition in ancient Greece that bonded guest and host by the exchange of gifts; the bond lasted for generations and anyone who dared to break the sacred bond risked the wrath of the Immortals.
The body of water in central-western Greece which joined the Ionian Sea at the ancient ports of Aktium (Actium) and Nikopolis (Nicopolis) which would be near the modern cities of Preveza and Vonitsa.
The body of water which separates Argolis from Lakonia (Laconia) and located on the southeastern side of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
A body of water which separates the two western-most fingers on the peninsula of Khalkidike (Chalcidice) in the district of Makedon (Macedon) and connects with the northern Aegean Sea.
An elongated body of water which occupies most of the western side of the Peloponnesian Peninsula stretching from the city of Olympia in the north to the city of Kiparissia in the south.
The body of water north of the Isthmus of Korinth which separates the Greek mainland from the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
The body of water which juts into the mainland of southeastern Asia Minor east of the island of Kos; now called the Gulf of Kerme.
The body of water located at the southern extreme of the Peloponnesian Peninsula and bounded on three sides by the district of Lakonia and connecting with the Mediterranean Sea on the south.
A body of water located in central Greece in southern Thessaly and fed by the river Sperkhios (Sperchios).
A body of water on the south-western central portion of the Peloponnesian Peninsula which connects with the Mediterranean Sea.
An inlet of the Aegean Sea in southeastern Thessaly directly north of the island of Euboea; now called the Gulf of Volos.
An inlet of the Ionian Sea on the north-western Peloponnesian Peninsula approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide and 25 miles (40 kilometers) long.
An inlet of the Aegean Sea in south-central Makedon (Macedon) on the western side of the peninsula of Khalkidike (Chalcidice).
An inlet of the northern Aegean Sea located north of the Gallipoli Peninsula; 37 miles (60 kilometers) long and 22 miles (35 kilometers) wide; the islands of Imbros and Samothrake (Samothrace) lie in the Aegean Sea just outside the Gulf of Saros.
An inlet of the Aegean Sea in south-central Makedon (Macedon) on the eastern side of the peninsula of Khalkidike (Chalcidice); the Strimon River flows into the gulf.
An arm of the Ionian Sea in southern Italy; approximately 85 miles (137 kilometers) long; located west of the “heel” of the “boot” that inscribes southern Italy.
Gyes and his brothers, Briareos and Kottos (Cottos) are the sons of Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (the Heavens); all three brothers have fifty heads and fifty arms sprouting from their massive shoulders.
They were trapped in Gaia’s womb by Ouranos until the Titan, Kronos (Cronos), wounded his father, Ouranos, and the brothers were allowed to be free, but their freedom was not to last; Kronos had helped his mother, Gaia, free the monstrous brothers but he feared their strength and beauty and imprisoned them under the earth where they remained until the war between the Titans and the Olympians began.
Zeus brought the three brothers back into the light and gave them nektar (nectar) and ambrosia to renew their vitality; Briareos, Kottos and Gyes joined the Olympians in the war against the Titans; after ten years of war, Zeus let loose all his full fury and the earth and heavens trembled under his thunderbolts; at that moment, Briareos, Kottos and Gyes bombarded the Titans with three-hundred boulders that buried the Titans and ended the war.
The story of Gyges deals with the death of one of the descendants of Herakles (Heracles) and the end of an era.
Gyges was a bodyguard for the king of Lydia, Kandaules (Candaules); Kandaules was a vain man and especially proud of his beautiful wife; he arranged for Gyges to sneak into his bedroom and observe his wife naked; Kandaules’ wife, who was unnamed, knew that she had been observed by Gyges and secretly proposed that he either die for his transgression or kill Kandaules and assume the throne of Lydia.
Kandaules was the descendant of Herakles (Heracles) and killing him would not just be the death of a man but the end of an era because the Heraklidae had ruled Lydia for 505 years; Gyges killed Kandaules and proposed that his right to rule should be decided by the oracle at Delphi; the oracle proclaimed that Gyges was the rightful ruler of Lydia but that in five generations his line would fail; the oracle was, of course, correct and, five generations later, Kroesus (Croesus) was the last ruler of Lydia in the line of Gyges.
A prefix meaning round.
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