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Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > Polyxena to Pyxis
P to Peitho Pelasgians to Phaedrias Phaeo to Pitys Plataea to Polyphemos 2 Polyxena to Pyxis 2
One of the daughters of the last king and queen of the city of Troy, Priam and Hekabe (Hecabe); after the city was sacked by the Argives, she was sacrificed at the tomb of Akhilleus (Achilles) by his son, Neoptolemus.
Hardship; one of the children of Eris (Discord).
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus; her name literally means Sea-Traverser.
The Sea; the son of Gaia (Earth); the brother of Ouranos (the Heavens) and Ourea (Mountains).
The body of water we call the Black Sea.
Originally called Axenos by the Greeks and then later called Euxine; the word Axenos means “an inhospitable place” but the newer name, Euxine, means “kind to strangers”; approximately 178,000 square miles (461,018 square kilometers) in area.
The lord of the Sea; one of the six original Olympians; one of the three sons of Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia (Rhea); often referred to as The Earth-Shaker.
His brothers and sisters are: Zeus, Hades, Hera, Histia (Hestia) and Demeter; when the Olympians divided creation into dominions, Poseidon became lord of the Sea, Hades became lord of the Underworld and Zeus became the supreme ruler with Heaven and Earth as his province.
For more detailed information on Poseidon I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.
The name under which Poseidon (lord of the Sea) was worshiped at Athens; named after one of the legendary kings of ancient Athens, Erekhtheus.
A Greek city in northern Syria; founded by Amphilokhos (Amphilochus), son of the hero and seer, Amphiaraus; located on the coast in northern Syria just south of the border with ancient Kilikia (Cilicia).
A city on the Khalkidike (Chalcidice) Peninsula; founded as a colony in 609 BCE by the city of Korinth (Corinth); Potidaea’s revolt against Athens in 432 BCE was one of the causes of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE).
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
A term meaning Deeds which is used to describe the various heroic acts and adventures that Herakles (Heracles) performed in the latter part of his life.
The Deeds included:
For more detailed information on Herakles I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.
A Greek sculptor; fl. 350 BCE; he is credited with the Statue of Hermes which was found at Olympia in 1877 CE and thought to be the same statue mentioned by the Greek geographer and traveler, Pausanias.
The Litai; the daughters of Zeus.
If a person does not call upon the Litai in times of need, they report to Zeus and recommend that he send Ate (Blindness) to hurt and punish the unbeliever; Ate is swift but the Litai are old and slow; they always come after Ate has inflicted her curses but they can heal and renew to spirit of anyone who calls upon them.
The murderer of Smerdis.
Prexaspes was the trusted companion of the second king of the Persian Empire, Kambyses; when Kambyses dreamed that his brother, Smerdis, was sitting on the throne with his head reaching to the heavens, he was convinced that Smerdis was plotting to depose him and claim the throne for himself; Kambyses gave Prexaspes the cowardly task of killing Smerdis.
Prexaspes secretly killed Smerdis and unwittingly allowed a Mede to assume Smerdis’ identity and take the throne of the empire; before Kambyses could return to his capital, Susa, he died of an accidental wound; while on his deathbed, Kambyses confessed to the high ranking Persians of his army that he had instructed Prexaspes to kill Smerdis and that a false-Smerdis had usurped the throne; the Persians were accustomed to Kambyses’ manipulative nature and did not believe him; after Kambyses died, Prexaspes denied the murder of Smerdis and allowed the false-Smerdis to stay on the throne.
As the months went by, false-Smerdis wanted to insure his reign and offered Prexaspes riches and position if he would publicly proclaim that the false-Smerdis was in fact the true-Smerdis; Prexaspes agreed but as he was addressing the Persians from the balcony of the palace, he had a change of heart and told the truth; he confessed to the murder of the true-Smerdis and then hurled himself from the balcony and died an honorable death on the pavement below; his confession prompted a coup which resulted in the assassination of the false-Smerdis and allowed a Persian, Darius, to reclaim the throne of the empire.
The last king of the city of Troy.
Priam and his fifty sons gathered their allies and resisted the attack of the Akhaians (Achaeans), i.e. the Greeks, for ten bloody years; he was the son of Laomedon and a direct descendent of Zeus; he was the husband of Hekabe (Hecabe) and the father of many daughters; when the walls of Troy finally fell Priam was killed by the son of Akhilleus (Achilles), Neoptolemus.
The grandson of the last king of Troy who was also named Priam.
The rural god of Gardens and Vineyards; a god of the male procreative power; the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite (goddess of Love).
A ancient city in Ionia, i.e. the western edge of Asia Minor; located near the city of Miletus.
A sophist writer and philosopher from the island of Keos (Ceos); circa fifth century BCE.
His name may also be rendered as Prodikos or Prodicos.
The son of the king of Argos, Akrisius (Acrisius) and the brother of Danae; he is most noted for his poor treatment of Bellerophontes (Bellerophon).
When Proetus’ wife, Anteia, made improper advances towards Bellerophontes, he refused her seductive advances; this rejection enraged Anteia so she lied to Proetus and said that Bellerophontes had tried to force himself on her; Proetus was furious but was too scrupulous to kill Bellerophontes; he sent Bellerophontes to Lykia (Lycia) with a message that said “kill this man”; fortunately, the ruler of Lykia was also a scrupulous man; he would not murder Bellerophontes.
The Spirit of Pursuit or Onrush, i.e., charging into battle or chasing enemies.
The father of Naubolos and the son of Nauplios; the grandson of Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Amymone (the daughter of Danaus).
The sixth century CE Greek writer who wrote of the existence of many of the lost poems that once made up the Epic Cycle, i.e., poems about the fall of the city of Troy.
His name may also be rendered as Proculus.
She and her sister, Philomela, were Athenian princesses and the daughters of Pandion; Prokne married Tereus, the king of Thrake (Thrace).
Tereus attacked (or offended) Philomela and in order to keep his outrage a secret he cut out Philomela’s tongue and hid her away in an isolated place; Philomela was able to weave her sad story onto a piece of needlework and send it to her sister.
Prokne found Philomela and the two of them killed Prokne’s son, Itys, and served the cooked body of the child to her evil husband, Tereus; Tereus tried to slay the sisters but all three were transformed into birds; Tereus became a hoopoe, Philomela became a swallow and Prokne became a nightingale; Prokne is often referred to as the Daughter of Pandion, i.e. the swallow, and her wailing marked the beginning of Spring.
The legendary villain who would entice travelers with his hospitality and then bind them to his bed where he would then amputate or stretch them to fit the bed; he was finally beheaded by Theseus and forced to lie in his own bed.
Apollodorus refers to him as either Damastes or Polypemon.
In Greek comedy, the initial portion of the play which sets the themes to be expounded.
The classifications into which modern scholars have divided Old Comedy are usually expressed in six elements:
The name literally means Protectress and refers to the goddess Athene (Athena).
The thirty foot statue atop the Akropolis (Acropolis) at Athens was called Athene Promakhos; designed by the legendary sculptor, Phidias; sailors could see Athene’s upraised golden sword before they could see any other landmark as they approached Athens from the sea.
One of the Epigoni; he was the son of Parthenopaeus and participated in the successful attack on the city of Thebes a generation after his father died in the his attempt to take the city.
A son of the Titan, Iapetos, and the Okeanid, Klymene (Clymene); the brother of Atlas, Menoitios and Epimetheus.
Prometheus incurred the wrath of Zeus for his consideration and kindness towards mortal humans; he defied Zeus on several occasions but when he gave fire to the humans, Zeus had Prometheus chained to the Caucasus Mountains for thirteen generations; each day an eagle would devour his liver and each frigid night the organ would grow back again; finally, Herakles (Heracles) broke the chains and freed Prometheus.
When Iason (Jason) was on his quest for the Golden Fleece, the priestess of Hekate (Hecate), Medea, prepared a magical potion from the plant that grew from the drops of the blood-like ikhor (ichor) that Prometheus shed while chained to the mountain.
Prometheus is also responsible for the way animal sacrifices are rendered to the Immortals because he tried to fool Zeus by offering fat and bones instead of choice meat; Zeus, knowing all things, recognized the deception but allowed Prometheus to proceed with the charade and made the sacrifice of fat the preferred way to make sacrifice.
Prometheus knew the clever and, sometimes devious, ways with which Zeus manipulated the other Immortals as well as the mortal humans and warned his brother, Epimetheus, not to accept Zeus’ gift of the first woman, Pandora, but Epimetheus was captivated by the irresistible beauty of Pandora and unwittingly unleashed all the woes and hardships that now plague all mortal men.
The name Prometheus literally means Forethought.
One of the seven surviving tragedies by the Athenian playwright Aeskhylus (Aeschylus).
Prometheus Bound is a wonderful play dealing with the punishment of Prometheus by Zeus; while Prometheus was bound to a mountain the heifer maiden, Io, questioned him as to his crime and his fate; Prometheus in turn gives Io hope for release from her own curse.
If you wish to read this play I suggest The Complete Greek Tragedies, Aeschylus II, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, ISBN 0226307948; you can find this book at your library in the 800 section or you can order it through the Book Shop on this site which is linked to Amazon.com.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus.
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.
Now called the Sea of Marmara.
The gateway to the Akropolis (Acropolis) at Athens.
Construction of the Propylaea was begun during the reign of Perikles (Pericles) and was abandoned circa 431 BCE unfinished because of a dispute with the priests of Athene (Athena) Nike and Brauronian Artemis.
The Propylaea was designed by Mnesikles (Mnesicles) and was a combination of Doric and Ionic styles; the structure was damaged and repaired over the centuries and was severely damaged in 1656 when lightning ignited a cache of explosives which the Turkish army had stored in the Propylaea.
(480-421 BCE) A Greek sophist philosopher.
Protesilaus has the dubious honor of being the first Greek warrior killed at the siege of Troy.
When he leapt from his ship he was immediately killed by the Trojan hero, Hektor (Hector); after his death, his younger brother, Podarkes (Podarces), took over his command; the two brothers were descended from the god of War, Ares; his wife, Laodameia (or perhaps her name was Polydora), was so grief stricken that the Immortals allowed Protesilaus to leave the Underworld and return to her for three hours; when he went back into the Underworld Laodameia committed suicide so that she could be with him.
In the city of Elaeus, which is very near Troy (but on the European side of the Hellespont), a tomb and a temple were built for Protesilaus; it is unlikely that the body of Protesilaus was in the tomb because the Greeks normally burned their dead.
Circa 480 BCE, a Persian viceroy named Artayktes (Artayctes) stole the valuables and violated the women of the temple; Artayktes informed the Persian king Kyrus that he had only stolen from a Greek hero who had once invaded the Persian king’s land and Kyrus granted him permission to keep the plunder; Artayktes had carefully worded the justification of his looting of the temple so as not to say that Protesilaus had been dead for almost eight hundred years and that, when the now-dead hero had attacked Troy, he had not attacked the Persian king’s people or property.
At this same time, Kyrus was preparing his invasion of Greece and was ready to cross over from Asia Minor into Europe when the Athenians surrounded Artayktes, his son and his companions at Elaeus; Artayktes managed to escape but the Athenians tracked him down and took him and his son as prisoners; it would seem that Artayktes did not understand the seriousness of his situation because, when he saw one of the soldiers cooking fish, he joked that the fish danced around in the hot coals as if they were still alive just as the dead Protesilaus still had influence with the gods and was able to mete out vengeance to those who had wronged him; Artayktes then tried to use the gold and silver he had stolen from Protesilaus’ temple to bribe the Athenians but they were too honorable to exchange stolen booty from a dead hero’s tomb for the life of a scoundrel; Artayktes was crucified and his son was stoned to death.
The Old Man of the Sea; an ancient sea god and a thane of Poseidon (lord of the Sea); the son of Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.
Proteus was noted for his ability to assume different forms and to prophesy; when Menelaos (Menelaus) and his crewmen were stranded on the island of Pharos, he aroused the sympathy of Proteus’ daughter, Eidothea; she waited until Menelaos was alone and told him how he could catch Proteus and induce him to answer questions; each day at noon, Proetus would come out of the water and lie down in a cavern with his seals and sleep; Eidothea advised Menelaos to take his strongest men, cover themselves with seal skins, and ambush Proteus when he came out of the water.
Eidothea skinned four seals and gave the reeking hides to Menelaos and three of his shipmates; she then put ambrosia under their noses so that they could endure the terrible stench of the seals and showed Menelaos the cave where Proteus came out of the water to sleep; Menelaos did as she suggested and caught Proteus unawares; Menelaos grabbed Proteus and would not loosen his grip no matter which form the Old Man of the Sea assumed; Proteus put up a terrible fight and took the shape of a lion, a serpent, a leopard, a boar, fluid water and, finally, a towering tree but Menelaos held fast.
Finally Proteus ceased his struggle and asked Menelaos what he wanted; Menelaos asked about his companions who had fought with him at Troy and in which direction he should travel in order to reach his kingdom; Proteus told Menelaos of the sad deaths of Aias (Ajax) and his brother Agamemnon; Proteus also told Menelaos that Odysseus was still adrift on the wine-dark sea; Proteus advised Menelaos to return to Egypt and make sacrifices to the Immortals so that he might return to his home in Argos.
The name of several of the Egyptian kings mentioned by the historian Herodotus.
One king Proteus played an important role in the kidnapping of Helen of Argos; Herodotus relates that Alexandros (Paris) and Helen did not sail directly to the city of Troy after they fled Sparta with Helen’s dowry; 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 Proteus heard the story, he had Alexandros and Helen brought before him for judgment; he 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 until her husband came to get her but he was very angry with Alexandros and said that he would have had killed him if he were not a guest in his country; Proteus gave Alexandros three days to leave Egypt or his life would be forfeit.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus; her name means First.
Pertaining to or designating a style of vase painting developed in Greece chiefly during the tenth century BCE and characterized by the use of abstract, geometrical motifs.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus; her name means Guardian.
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 who holds a public office; usually the office is a temporary position; in the city of Athens a prytanes would hold office for approximately one tenth of a year, i.e. 35 days.
The second Eurypontidai king of the city of Sparta who ruled circa 865-835 BCE.
Sparta traditionally had two kings who ruled jointly; one king was required to be a descendant of king Eurypon and the other was required to be a descendant of king Agis I (respectively known as the Eurypontidai and the Agiadai).
Very little is known about Prytanis and the dates given for his rule are extrapolations and should be used only as approximations.
One of the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris collectively known as the Nereids, i.e. the daughters of the Nereus; she was the consort of Aeakus (Aeacus) and the mother of Phokos (Phocos); her name means Sea-Sand.
A king of Egypt mentioned by the historian Herodotus.
When Psammetikhus assumed the throne (circa 665 BCE), the Egyptians considered themselves to be the oldest race of humans on earth; Psammetikhus decided to conduct a scientific experiment in order to determine whether or not the Egyptians were in fact the first humans; he took two newborn children of common birth, that is, not royalty, and sequestered them on a farm; the adults who raised the children were instructed to never speak in the presence of the children; the idea was to see what language the children would speak after they were beyond the age of childish babble; their first word was “bekos,” which was the Phrygian word for bread; from this experiment, Psammetikhus determined that the Phrygians were undoubtedly the oldest human race on earth.
Psammetikhus is also important in Greek history because he was responsible for allowing Greeks from Karia (Caria) and Ionia to settle in Egypt; he also put Egyptian boys in the Greek settlement so that they might learn the Greek language, thus becoming interpreters; this made it possible for Greek travelers and scholars to study in Egypt.
The largest of a group of small islands that share the same name; located in the eastern Aegean Sea near coast of Asia Minor and west of the island of Khios (Chios); Psara is also the name of the fishing village on the island.
Approximate east longitude 25.37 and north latitude 38.35.
The twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet; upper case: Ψ; lower case: ψ.
The modern name for Mount Ida; a mountain in western Asia Minor, southeast of ancient Troy; 5,810 feet (1,771 meters) in height.
The personification of the Soul; the word literally means Breath but has come to mean The Breath of Life, i.e., the soul.
The story of the love between Psyche and Cupid as told in The Golden Ass by Apuleius (fl. 155 CE) is essentially Roman in nature but has been adopted as a Greek story because it is assumed that the Roman version of the story was taken from an older Greek tale; an old woman was trying to amuse some young women who had been taken prisoner by a group of robbers and told the story of how Venus was trying to make Psyche fall in love with a mortal man and enlisted Cupid’s help but when Cupid saw Psyche he forgot his mission and fell in love with her himself.
A wine jar with an oval body tapering at the neck, set on a high base; used for cooling wine.
Claudius Ptolemaeus; (90-168 CE); an Egyptian mathematician, astronomer and geographer.
Ptolemy was born in Alexandria, Egypt but was Greek in his heritage and language; his authority was from the Makedonian (Macedonian) dynasty which traced its roots to Alexander the Great; his name reflects his times in that his first name is Roman and his last name is Greek.
His works include: Mathematike Syntaxis (System of Mathematics) and Geographike Hyphehesis (Geography).
(surnamed Philadelphus) (309?-247? BCE) The king of Egypt (285?-247? BCE); the son of Ptolemy I.
(surnamed Soter) (367?-280 BCE) Ruler of Egypt (323-285 BCE); founder of the Makedonian (Macedonian) dynasty in Egypt.
Proioxis; the Spirit of Pursuit or Onrush; as in charging into battle or chasing enemies.
A town in ancient Makedon (Macedon) west of the Gulf of Salonika (Salonica); the site of a decisive Roman victory the Makedonians in 186 BCE.
A sculptor and king of the island of Cyprus who carved an ivory statue of a maiden and fell in love with it; in response to his prayers, Aphrodite (goddess of Love) brought the statue to life.
The brother of the tragic Carthaginian queen, Dido.
He is considered to be both a fictional and historic figure; in either case he is portrayed as a greedy and murderous man; the son of king Matgenos of the Phoenician city of Tyre, he murdered his uncle (who was also his brother-in-law), Sychaeus, hoping to take his fortune; he was unable to seize Sychaeus’ money because Dido took the accumulated wealth and fled to northern Africa where she founded the city of Carthage.
A race of African dwarfs who fought battles against cranes; they would supposedly attack the large birds and destroy their nesting fields; they were mentioned by Homer, Aristotle and other classical authors.
The young man who befriended Orestes and accompanied him on his wanderings.
After Orestes had exacted his revenge on his mother, Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra), and her lover, Aigisthos (Aegisthus), for the murder of Agamemnon, Pylades married Orestes’ sister, Elektra (Electra).
A seaport on the southwestern Peloponnesian Peninsula in the ancient district of Messenia.
Pylos was the home kingdom of the aged Trojan War hero, Nestor; the Bay of Pylos was the site of an important victory by the Athenians over the Spartans in 425 BCE during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE); now called Navarino.
Approximate east longitude 21.43 and north latitude 36.55.
The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The pyramids were built in approximately 2580 BCE which is at least 1,500 years before the other six ancient wonders; the term, Pyramids of Egypt, specifically refers to the three pyramids on the Giza plateau near Cairo, Egypt.
The age of the pyramids is a hotly debated topic and I won’t enter into the various compelling and absurd theories that surround this subject; the historian Herodotus was the first Greek to mention the pyramids and he attributes the construction to three successive generations of Egyptian pharaohs: Kufu (called Kheops by the Greeks), Khafre (Khephren) and Menkaure (Mykerinus).
The pyramids are of different sizes and were built of granite and limestone; the sheer size of the pyramids is daunting even by today’s standards and the amount of stone required for just one of the structures defies the imagination; as an example, the largest pyramid (called the Great Pyramid) is comprised of over two million stone blocks which weigh as much as two tons each; the Great Pyramid is 481 feet (147 meters) in height and 754 feet (230 meters) on each side.
The precision of the construction and the mathematical ideals represented in the shape of the structures have given engineers and philosophers ample data for their explanations, which range from the simplistic to the outrageous, as to the manner and purpose of their erection; the fact remains, the Pyramids of Egypt are truly a wonder and their existence gives us a rare glimpse into the minds and abilities of our ancient ancestors.
The wife of Deukalion (Deucalion); she and Deukalion survived the deluge that Zeus sent to destroy the human race; after the waters subsided, Deukalion and Pyrrha repopulated the earth with men and women by throwing stones onto the earth.
(318-272 BCE) The king of Epirus circa 300-272 BCE.
Another name for the son of Akhilleus (Achilles) and Deidamia, Neoptolemus; the name, Pyrrhus, literally means Red-Haired.
(circa 582-500 or 569-475 BCE) The famous Greek philosopher, mathematician and religious reformer.
Pythagoras was born on the island of Samos and revered to this day with the principal city on the island named after him, Pythagoreon (originally the city was called Samos).
The son of Mnesarkhus (Mnesarchus), Pythagoras migrated to Croton, Italy circa 530 BCE and began teaching religion and science but probably the two disciplines were not separated or distinguishable from one another.
It must be emphasized that what we know of Pythagoras is mostly conjecture and inference; although Plato (circa 427-347 BCE) and Aristotle (circa 384-322 BCE) gave heed to Pythagoras’ religious and mathematical teachings you must remember that Pythagoras had been dead for at least 50 years before Plato was born; all religious and scientific teachings that we ascribe to Pythagoras are all derived from sources removed from Pythagoras by several generations; in some cases, the structure and details of Pythagorean doctrine was not finalized until 500 years after his death.
His religious teachings made him a celebrity in his own time but his scientific insights have endured through the ages; to most modern students, he is perhaps most noted for the formulation of the Pythagorean Theorem which states: in a “right triangle” (a triangle with one angle equal to ninety degrees, i.e. the “right angle”), the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, i.e. A squared + B squared = C squared (with C being the hypotenuse).
The priestesses of Apollon at Delphi who would sit atop tripods and render the prophecies of Apollon in hexameter verse.
The late summer games and festival held at Delphi on the third year of the Olympiad to celebrate the victory of Apollon over the serpent, Python; the contests included musical and athletic competitions.
The ancient name for Delphi; presumed to have been the site of a shrine of an ancient Mother goddess which was displaced when Apollon killed the guardian dragon, Python, and established his oracle on the site.
The large dragon who guarded the chasm at Delphi; the beast was killed by Apollon when he established his oracle on the site.
An ornate, often cylindrical, container used for salves and toiletries.
A constellation visible only from the Southern Hemisphere; the name means Box in Greek.
Red Figure Vase - A style of vase painting invented in Attika (Attica) circa 530 BCE.
This style of vase painting left the decorative figures the color of the clay while the background was painted black; common in Greece, southern Italy and on the island of Sicily.
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