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Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > H to Helike
H to Helike Helikon to Hexa Hieroglyphics to Holy Twain Homados to Hystaspes 2
Eta; the uppercase form of the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet; Eta is usually pronounced as a long E; the lower case form is η.
The lord of the Dead; the king of the Underworld; the son of the Titans, Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia (Rhea); one of the Olympians and the brother of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Histia (Hestia) and Demeter.
Hades is often portrayed as a “bad” Immortal but he was simply the ruler of one-third of creation; Zeus rules Heaven and Earth, Poseidon rules the Sea and Hades rules the Underworld; his domain was one of darkness and his subjects are the dead but he is not without honor or passion.
The kidnapping of Persephone was one of the most notable events attributed to Hades; with Zeus’ permission, Hades rose to the surface of the earth in his chariot, abducted Persephone, and took her to his home in the Underworld; Persephone’s mother, Demeter, was outraged; she was powerless against Hades because he had acted with the sanction of Zeus, who was not only the “king” of the Immortals but also Persephone’s father.
Demeter withdrew her blessings from the bountiful earth and crops began to fail; Zeus, after many appeals to Demeter, agreed to have Persephone returned to the daylight; he sent Hermes to the House of Hades and demanded that Persephone be released but Hades tricked Persephone into eating a pomegranate seed before she left the Underworld; by eating the seed, Persephone had inadvertently bound herself to Hades and when she was reunited with her mother on Mount Olympos (Olympus) she was compelled to return to the Underworld for a portion of each year.
Very few individuals have ever been to the House of Hades and returned to the surface of the earth; Hermes, as the guide of the dead, was allowed to come and go as need be; Hades also allowed several others to enter his domain and then leave again:
For more detailed information on Hades I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.
The son Kreon (Creon) and Eurydike (Eurydice).
Kreon was the king of the city of Thebes and the brother-in-law of the cursed former king, Oedipus; Haemon was in love with the daughter of Oedipus, Antigone, but Kreon refused to allow any type of union because Antigone had defied Kreon by giving her brother, Polynikes (Polynices) a proper burial; for her defiance of Kreon’s order not to bury Polynikes, Kreon had her entombed alive in a cave.
The blind prophet, Teiresias, warned Kreon that his actions were an affront to the Immortals and that if he did not give Polynikes a decent burial and forgive Antigone, he and his family would suffer dire consequences; Kreon relented and buried Polynikes but before he could free Antigone from the cave, she hanged herself.
Haemon was the first to open the cave where Antigone was entombed and when he saw her dead body he flew into a rage and tried, but failed, to kill his father; Haemon then stabbed himself with his sword and died clinging to the body of Antigone; the tragedy Antigone, by Sophokles (Sophocles) tells the entire tragic story.
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.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
Her name may also be rendered as Halia.
A Doric city on the coast of the district of Karia (Caria) in southern Asia Minor; noted as the birthplace of the historian, Herodotus, and the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum of Halikarnassus.
Approximate east longitude 27.23 and north latitude 37.03.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
A tree nymph; the word nymph means, Bride; a Hamadryad is literally the bride of an oak tree; she lives only as long as the tree she marries is alive.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were more “evolved” than “constructed”, i.e. they weren’t constructed as a single project but rather were the culmination of a long-term building program; the Persians historically demonstrated a passion for planting fruit trees and flowers in their cities and, to the ancient Greeks, Babylon seemed to be the pinnacle of that penchant; the actual date when the fruit trees and flowers became a wondrous garden has escaped historians but the first mention of the Hanging Gardens as a specific reference is from 400 BCE by a doctor in the Persian court; after that, the Hanging Gardens are mentioned by men who probably never went to Babylon so their accounts, as to the size and composition of the gardens, are questionable.
The fact that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are included as a wonder of the ancient world attests to the probability that they were indeed splendid as well as remarkable; in his book The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall purports that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon reached their pinnacle during the reign of queen Samyrnus but he fails to give a specific date as to her reign.
Ponos; one of the children of Eris (Discord).
The assassin of Hipparkhus (Hipparchus).
After the death of the tyrant, Pisistratus (Peisistratos), one of his sons, Hippias, took control of the government of Athens; his younger brother, Hipparkhus might be thought of as co-tyrant and was thus a powerful man in Athens.
Hipparkhus was in love with a young man named Harmodius but his affection was not returned; Hipparkhus sought to humiliate Harmodius by publicly slandering Harmodius’ sister.
In 514 BCE, as an act of revenge, Harmodius and his friend, Aristogiton, devised a plan to assassinate the two tyrants but the plan went awry and only Hipparkhus was killed.
Soldiers executed Harmodius immediately but Aristogiton was captured and tortured to death; Hippias was never a very popular or effective ruler and he was eventually deposed and sent into exile; after Hippias was exiled, Harmodius and Aristogiton were honored by the citizens of Athens with statues and their relatives were given benefits such as tax exemption.
The daughter of Ares (god of War) and Aphrodite (goddess of Love); her name means Harmony; she is the sister of Phobos (Panic) and Deimos (Terror); the wife of Kadmus (Cadmus).
Harmonia had four daughters and one son: Ino, Agaue, Autonoe, Semele and Polydorus.
There is a story regarding the marriage of Kadmus and Harmonia in which Kadmus gave Harmonia a necklace that had been fashioned by Hephaistos (Hephaestus); the necklace was cursed but the exact ill effects it had on Harmonia and Kadmus are not clear.
The necklace was passed on to her son Polydorus, then to Labdakus (Labdacus), then to Laius, then to Oedipus, then to Polynikes (Polynices) and finally to Eriphyle.
Harpagus was a traitor to his family and a disaster for the empire of the Medes; he was in the service of the Median king, Astyages, and betrayed the entire Median race to the Persians.
While Astyages was the king of the Medes (585-529 BCE) he had two dreams that indicated that his daughter, Mandane, would have a child that would bring an end to the Median rule of western-central Asia; Astyages refused to allow his daughter to marry a Mede and forced her to marry a lower caste Persian named Kambyses (Cambyses) so that any children they might have would not be acceptable as heirs to the Median throne.
When Mandane gave birth to a male child, Astyages instructed his trusted kinsman, Harpagus, to take the new-born boy from Mandane and kill it; Harpagus had no qualms about killing the baby but he was still hesitant to do so because Astyages had no male heir to take the throne when he died and that meant that Mandane would very likely become queen; Harpagus feared that if she found out that he had killed her child she would undoubtedly punish him cruelly.
To distance himself from the guilt of such a crime, Harpagus gave the baby to a herdsman named, Mitradates, and instructed him to leave the child in the wilderness to die; when Mitradates took the child home to his wife, Kyno (Cyno), she told him that their own child had been born dead and she suggested that they keep Mandane’s baby as their own and present the dead baby to Harpagus as proof that the evil deed had been accomplished; Harpagus was deceived and reported to Astyages that his instructions had been carried out and that Mandane’s baby was indeed dead.
Mitradates and Kyno raised the child as their own and all went well until the young boy had a dispute with his playmates; a group of boys were playing a game and Mandane’s son was chosen to play the role of the king; when one of the boys disobeyed a “royal” command, the “king” ordered that he be beaten; the boy who had been punished took offense at such base treatment because his family was of noble birth and a mere herdsman’s son had ordered him beaten; the boy’s father took the insulting matter to king Astyages for justice.
Astyages called the herdsman, Mitradates, and his “son” to stand trial but when Astyages saw the family resemblance of the boy to his daughter and to himself he realized that Mandane’s son was still alive; Astyages demanded the truth from the herdsman and he soon understood the entire sequence of events.
Next he called Harpagus before him and when Harpagus saw the herdsman and the young boy he realized that he had been duped and begged for the king’s mercy; Astyages pretended to be satisfied that Harpagus was innocent of any disloyalty and told him that the boy would no longer live with the herdsman and his wife but be reunited with his true mother and father, Mandane and Kambyses; Astyages also asked Harpagus to send his own son to the palace to be the companion of Mandane’s son and also invited Harpagus to attend a celebratory dinner in honor of the boy; without hesitation, Astyages had Harpagus’ son killed; he kept the head, hands and feet but cooked the rest of the body; when Harpagus came to the palace, Astyages tricked him into eating the flesh of his son and then gave him the head, hands and feet as a reminder of what happens when the king’s orders were disobeyed; Harpagus retained his composure but he also retained a long and bitter hatred for Astyages.
Astyages was still not sure if the boy was a threat to his throne so he consulted his seers, the Magi; they assured him that the boy was harmless but just to be safe, Astyages placed spies around the child and sent him to live amongst the Persians with his natural parents Mandane and Kambyses; the boy was named Kyrus (Cyrus) and as he grew to manhood he was the best and brightest of his peers; Harpagus waited through the long years and courted Kyrus with gifts and praise; finally, when he deemed the time was right, he sent a secret message to Kyrus stitched inside a dead rabbit; he urged Kyrus to lead the Persians in a revolt to take back the land the Medes had stolen from them only four generations hence.
Kyrus was intrigued by the idea and thought long and hard as to the most effective way to incite a revolution against the Medes; he called an assembly of the Persians and cleverly persuaded them to join him in a revolt against Astyages; Harpagus had spent many years sowing the seeds of discontent throughout Astyages’ empire and when the time came to fight the Persians, Astyages was unable to muster an army to defend his throne.
After Astyages was defeated and taken prisoner, Harpagus mocked and ridiculed him; Harpagus bragged that he had helped Kyrus ferment the revolution and Astyages replied that Harpagus was the most stupid and the most unjust man alive; stupid because, as a kinsman of Astyages, Harpagus would have inherited the throne of the Medes after Astyages died and unjust because he had allowed a Persian instead of a Mede to become king; the masters were now slaves and the slaves were now masters.
Kyrus repaid Harpagus for his assistance by making him a general in the army and, as such, assisted in the Persian conquest of Ionia and southern Asia.
The daughters of Thaumas and Elektra (Electra); their names are Okypete (Ocypete) and Aello.
Hesiod refers to them as “Harpies of the lovely hair, winged women soaring aloft like birds;” they are the sisters of the rainbow goddess, Iris, and not described as the filthy monsters that we have come to imagine.
Their primary role in Greek mythology was when the Argonauts found the blind seer, Phineus, on the island of Thynia being tormented by the Harpies; Phineus had been blinded by Zeus and, as a double punishment, Helios (the Sun) had the Harpies steal his food; the winged sons of Boreas (North Wind), Kalais (Calais) and Zetes chased away the Harpies and freed Phineus from his curse but Zeus would not allow the brothers to harm the Harpies.
The personification of the Heavens; the first-born child of Gaia (Earth) without consort and equal to her in all ways.
Gaia had many children but after the three giants, Kottos, Briareos and Gyes were conceived, Ouranos would not let them be born, i.e. he would not let them leave the body of Gaia, i.e. Mother-Earth; Gaia begged her other children to slay Ouranos but only Kronos (Cronos) was willing to do the deed; Kronos attacked Ouranos with an enormous sickle and castrated him.
From the blood of Ouranos’ injury were born a race of Giants, the Eumenides (Furies), the Meliae (Nymphs of the Ash Trees) and the beautiful goddess of love, Aphrodite.
Ouranos and Gaia are also the parents of the Titans.
The daughter of Zeus and Hera; the sister of
Ares (god of War) and Eileithyia (Eilithyia) (goddess of Childbirth).
After Herakles (Heracles) had ascended to Mount Olympos (Olympus), he wedded Hebe “of the golden crown;” her name literally means Youth and for that reason she is sometimes thought of as the goddess of Youth and Spring.
She and Herakles had one son, Alexiares.
A large sacrifice with one hundred or more animals, usually designating a festival or celebration.
Perhaps the author of the Kypria.
The Kypria was part of the Epic Cycle and has survived only in fragments; the original eleven books have been reduced to twenty two fragments which describe the Trojan War, the Judgment of Paris and other facts about the war and its participants; several of the fragments refer to the author as Hegesias but others note the author as either Homer or Stasinus.
The wife of the last king of Troy, Priam; the mother of Hektor (Hector) and numerous other sons and daughters; she was the daughter of Dymas and the sister of Asios.
Her name may also be rendered as Hekuba or Hecuba.
A tragedy by Euripides produced 425? BCE.
Her name may also be rendered as Hekuba or Hecuba.
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 Amazon.com.
The Far-Darter; an earth goddess associated with sorcery, hounds and crossroads.
When Iason (Jason) completed a sacrifice to Hekate, her presence was announced with the gleam of torches, the howling of the hounds of the Underworld, serpents twined in the oak trees, the earth trembled and the nymphs of the marsh and the river shrieked in terror.
The eldest son of the last king of Troy, Priam, and Hekabe (Hecabe).
Hektor was the husband of Andromakhe (Andromache) and father of Astyanax; he was the supreme commander of the Trojan allies during the siege of Troy; he was killed and his body was disgraced by Akhilleus (Achilles) as revenge for the death of Akhilleus’ dear friend, Patroklos (Patroclus).
Akhilleus refused to bury Hektor and each day he would tie Hektor’s body to his chariot and drag it around Patroklos’ burial mound; the Immortals finally intervened and Hektor’s body was restored to its youthful beauty so that he could be returned to his family for a proper burial.
Helen of Argos; one of the most important figures in Greek history and mythology.
Helen was the daughter of Zeus and Leda and the half-sister of the infamous Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), Phoibe (Phoebe), Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux).
Helen entered the legends and hearts of the Greeks when she was kidnapped from her home by two men who were otherwise regarded as noble individuals; the legendary king of the Lapithae, Pirithous, and the Athenian hero, Theseus, were responsible for the kidnapping of Helen when she was a young girl.
While in the city of Sparta, the two men saw Helen dancing in the temple of the goddess Artemis; they were captivated by her childlike beauty and took the girl; after they had successfully eluded their pursuers, the two villains drew lots to see who would be allowed to marry Helen; Theseus won the draw and his plan was to hide Helen until she was of marrying age; she was rescued by her brothers, Kastor and Polydeukes and assisted by another Athenian hero, Akademus (Academus).
Although Helen’s father is assumed to be Zeus, she was raised by Tyndareus who was the king of Sparta and husband of Helen’s mother, Leda; when Helen was ready to marry, Tyndareus was besieged with offers from men of wealth and influence; he knew that Helen had a profound influence on these proud men and that there would be endless bickering and bloodshed when her husband was finally chosen; Tyndareus made all the suitors swear a solemn oath that they accept and defend Helen’s husband regardless of who he might be and that they would avenge anyone who tried to take her from her rightful home.
Helen married a young Spartan named Menelaos (Menelaus); years later, when Menelaos was away from home, Helen entertained a visitor named Alexandros (Paris) and, enchanted by Aphrodite (goddess of Love), the two fled Sparta for the city of Troy; there are two divergent stories regarding Helen of Argos after she left Sparta with Alexandros:
Herodotus relates that, after fleeing Sparta, the two lovers did not sail directly to Troy; contrary winds forced them to Egypt and into the Nile River; there was a shrine to Herakles (Hercules) in that part of Egypt where slaves could seek sanctuary; Alexandros’ slaves deserted their master and, with the protection of the shrine, denounced Alexandros and told the local governor the circumstances under which Helen had been taken from her home.
When the king of Egypt heard the story, he had Alexandros and Helen brought before him for judgment; the king, Proteus, questioned Alexandros as to how he and Helen came to be in Egypt; Alexandros lied to Proteus but the slaves revealed the truth to the king.
Proteus declared that Helen would be given asylum in Egypt but Alexandros was required to leave Egypt within three days; Alexandros returned to Troy alone; when the Greeks besieged Troy, the Trojans truthfully informed them that Helen was not there; the Greeks did not believe them until after they had sacked the city and saw the truth for themselves; Menelaos then went to Egypt and retrieved his wife.
Herodotus believed that the Immortals allowed the Greeks to destroy Troy in order to punish the Trojans for the foul deeds of Alexandros; of course, we are more familiar with Homer’s poetic version of Helen’s plight; in The Iliad, Helen and Alexandros returned to Troy and, when Menelaos demanded her return, Alexandros refused and the ten year Trojan War began; after the fall of Troy, Helen was released from the enchantment of Aphrodite and resumed her marriage with Menelaos; she and Menelaos had a daughter named Hermione.
Helen’s abduction was not an isolated event; the mainland Greeks and the Greeks who had colonized Asia Minor had a long history of kidnapping women from each other; a generation before the Trojan War, the famous Iason (Jason), in his quest for the Golden Fleece, had taken Medea from her home and, according to Herodotus, the failure to return Medea was one of a series of events used to justify the kidnapping of Helen.
A tragedy by Euripides produced in 412 BCE.
This play seems to have reconciled the two versions of Helen’s tragic tale and the destruction of the city of Troy; it would seem that in 412 BCE everyone agreed that Troy had been sacked by the Greeks and that the abduction of Helen had been the cause, however, the Trojan War had been fought some eight hundred years before and the details were in question.
Euripides chose a very clever middle ground on which to base this story and portrayed the characters and events in a plausible way; according to Euripides, Helen was never in Troy and had never married the Trojan prince, Alexandros (Paris); when Alexandros earned the gratitude of Aphrodite (goddess of Love), by choosing her as the most beautiful goddess, he also earned the wrath of Hera, queen of the Immortals.
When Alexandros met and fell in love with Helen, Hera created a phantom in the form of Helen and the real Helen was taken by the god, Hermes, to Egypt; the king of Egypt, Proteus, offered Helen sanctuary until her husband, Menelaos (Menelaus), arrived to claim her.
As the play opens, we find Helen at the tomb of Proteus hiding because Proteus’ son, Theoklymenus (Theoclymenus), wants to betray his dead father’s promise and marry her; a shipwrecked Menelaos arrives at the palace of the new king and begs for an audience; he explains that he, his wife and his crew are stranded on the Egyptian coast and, as one king to another, he is sure that he will be granted help; he is told that Greeks are unwelcome in Egypt and that he will be killed if the young king finds him at the door; he is also told that Helen resides in the palace.
Menelaos believes that he rescued Helen from Troy and does not know that the wife he saved and has been shipwrecked with is the phantom-Helen; Menelaos then goes to the tomb of Proteus and finds the real Helen there; as they talk and discover the truth of their situation, one of Menelaos’ crew arrives and says that the Helen he and the other crew members were protecting has vanished into thin air; Menelaos and Helen begin plotting a means of escape from Egypt and devise a plan to trick Theoklymenus into giving them a ship.
The ending of the play is never really in question but the details of the drama are always intriguing; the play has many seemingly irrelevant, but interesting, asides but the most unusual is the recitation, by the chorus, of the story of Demeter and Persephone.
One very interesting element of the story is in the first few lines where Helen announces that she is in the land of the Nile and that it is fed, not by rain, but by melting snow; the historian, Herodotus (484?-425? BCE), was the one who declared that Helen was never in Troy and was protected by king Proteus in Egypt; Herodotus also said that, while he was in Egypt, the priests told him the Nile was fed by melting snow; Herodotus thought them to be mad or, at least, uninformed; he carefully explains how ridiculous their explanation of the Nile’s flood waters were to an educated man like himself; it would seem that by the time Euripides wrote Helen (412 BCE), the matter had been settled and that, at least on this point, Herodotus had been corrected.
If you care to read the plays of Euripides, I personally recommend the translations by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, The Complete Greek Tragedies vol. 3 & 4, ISBN 0226307662 and 0226307670.
A son of Priam who survived the fall of Troy and was ascribed to be a seer; after Hektor’s (Hector’s) wife, Andromache (Andromakhe), was released from slavery, she and Helenos were married and lived in Epirus.
One of the Akhaians (Achaeans) killed by Hektor (Hector) at the siege of the city of Troy.
A constellation referred to as the bright-gleaming bear.
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