U to Z



The Roman name for the Greek hero, Odysseus.

The son of Laertes and Antikleia (Anticleia); the husband of Penelope and the father of Telemakhos (Telemachus).

Odysseus was one of the most significant heroes of the Trojan War and his exploits can only be appreciated by reading The Iliad and The Odyssey.

When Agamemnon and Menelaos (Menelaus) asked Odysseus to join them in the siege of Troy, he gathered an army and sailed with them; during his ten years at Troy, Odysseus was a fearless leader and a skillful strategist; he was characterized as “resourceful” and “crafty” but his unfailing devotion to the Immortals, especially Athene (Athena), garnered him the intelligence and strength to survive the perils of the battlefield and withstand the treachery of the Trojans and the Immortals.

The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus’ voyage home after the fall of Troy; after killing Poseidon’s son, Polyphemos (Polyphemus), Odysseus and his crew endured all types of deadly ordeals; when Odysseus did not return for ten years, a group of suitors gathered in the hopes of marrying Penelope; when Odysseus arrived home he had to confront the suitors in order to regain his home and property; with the assistance of the goddess Athene, his son Telemakhos, his father Laertes and a few devoted servants Odysseus fought and killed the suitors.


The Underworld is the darkness beneath the earth; a place for the punishment of the wicked after death.

Upper Egypt

This term is used to identify the southern portion of the Nile river valley of Egypt.

The Nile flows from south to north and the designation of Upper Egypt signifies that you are going “up” the river, i.e., south; you might also consider that, since water flows downhill, the source of every river is higher in elevation than its terminal point and this would make the southern Nile the “upper” part of the river; the northern portion of the Nile river valley is conversely called Lower Egypt.


Kydoimos (Cydoimos); a Spirit; the personification of Confusion or Uproar.


One of the nine Muses; the Heavenly One; the Muse of astronomy.


An ancient kingdom in eastern Asia Minor on the shore of Lake Van; fl. 1270-750 BCE.


The Heavens; he was the first-born of Gaia (Earth) and in all ways her equal.

Gaia had many children but after the three Giants, Kottos (Cottos), Briareos and Gyes were conceived, Ouranos would not let them be born, that is, he would not let them leave the body of their Earth-Mother, Gaia; Gaia begged her 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 Nymphs of the Ash Trees (the Meliae) and the beautiful goddess of love, Aphrodite; Ouranos was also the father of the Titans who fought a bitter battle with Zeus and the other Olympians for supremacy of all creation.


A large decorative vase, especially one with an ornamental foot or pedestal.


Vale of Tempe

A valley in eastern Greece in Thessaly between Mount Olympos (Olympus) and Mount Ossa.


(70-19 BCE) The Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro is commonly referred to as Virgil and is most noted as the author of the epic poem the Aeneid.

The Aeneid was written between the years 29-19 BCE during the reign of Augustus Caesar, i.e., Octavian, and was an undisguised attempt to re-instill the noble values on which Rome had been founded and to give new faith to the Roman people after the flagrant excesses of Julius Caesar and Marcus Antony.

The Aeneid tells the story of the Greek hero, Aineias (Aeneas), the final battle of Troy and the eventual founding of Rome by Troy’s survivors; it’s impossible to read the Aeneid without comparing it to the Greek epics such as The Iliad and The Odyssey; one glaring difference is that The Iliad and The Odyssey were written for the “people” and the Aeneid was written for an emperor; Virgil’s loyalties aside, he created an important work of art and gave us a glimpse into the mind the Romans of antiquity; Virgil died before he could finish the Aeneid but Augustus Caesar had the unfinished poem copied and distributed.


A spiral ornament used on capitals in Ionic architecture; from the Latin words voluta (scroll) and volvere (to turn).


War of the Titans

One of the fragmentary remains of the Epic Cycle; this portion of the Epic Cycle is very incomplete and very little can be gained from the few fragments that remain intact; the author of the War of the Titans was either Eumelus of Korinth (Corinth) or Arktinus (Arctinus).

For the complete 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


A comic play by the Athenian poet, Aristophanes, which was produced in 422 BCE and presented at the Lenaea festival where it won second place.

This is my favorite of Aristophanes’ plays; this play is lighter than his other plays and, although it is biting and direct, does not seem to have the venom and bitterness that characterize some of his other works.

The main character of the play is an old man named Philokleon (Philocleon) who is hopelessly addicted to being a judge in court; the judges are chosen from the Athenian citizens and paid three obols per day to pass judgment on civil suits; as an old man, Philokleon simply has nothing better to do so he and his friends spend each day in court.

Philokleon’s son, Bdelykleon (Bdelycleon), tried everything to stop his father’s obsessive behavior, including reasoning with him, nagging him, having him bathed and purified, having him initiated as a Korybant, making him sleep in the temple of Asklepios and finally locking him in the house and having the slaves guard every exit.

Philokleon makes every comic attempt to leave the house including slinging himself under a donkey just as Odysseus hid under a sheep to escape the Cyclops; when Philokleon’s elderly friends come at dawn prepared for court, they are required to lower Philokleon out a window by a rope; Bdelykleon catches the old men and a debate begins; the old men play the role of the chorus and are deemed the Wasps because of their sting; they are the men who fought at Marathon in 490 BCE and again defeated the Persian army and navy ten years later; the Persians called the men of Attika (Attica) Wasps because, as the Persians ran for their lives, the Athenians put stings to their backsides.

Bdelykleon makes a passionate appeal to the old men and explains that they are not dispensing real justice but are the dupes of the powerful men of Athens; the judges, he explains, are given a pittance for their work and the real money goes into the pockets of the politicians; the play is lively and silly but retains its focus and intensity.

Aristophanes’ plays are sometimes difficult to appreciate because he was a very contemporary poet, i.e. he was writing for the Athenian audience of his day; he would use puns, parody regional accents and speak directly to the audience in ways that force modern translators to seek out the contextual meaning rather than the literal meaning of the poet’s words; for that reason, I suggest that if you find a translation that is difficult to enjoy, please don’t blame Aristophanes, simply look for a translation that you can enjoy; when trying to find a readable translator, I suggest Patric Dickinson; you may find his books at your local library in the 882 section but his books are out of print and sometimes difficult to find.


There are two types of winds: 1) the divinely created winds, i.e. Boreas (North Wind), Notos (South Wind), Zephyros (West Wind) and the Etesian winds, and 2) the ill-favored winds that were created by the monster, Typhoeus, when Zeus imprisoned him under the earth; the divinely created winds nourish and bless the earth but the winds of Typhoeus are wild and destructive.

For more detailed information on the Winds I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.

Womans Assembly

Ekklesiazusae (Ecclesiazusae); a comic play by Aristophanes produced in 392 BCE.

This is one of Aristophanes’ more ribald plays and might not be suitable for younger readers.

It seems that the women of the city of Athens have decided to kill the poet, Euripides, because of the demeaning way in which he portrays women in his plays; the women put Euripides in the same category as the accursed Persians and declare him an enemy of the state; Euripides persuades his father-in-law, Mnesilokhos (Mnesilochus), to dress like a woman and attend the Women’s Assembly in order to speak out on Euripides’ behalf; at first, Mnesilokhos speaks well for Euripides and seems to be generating some sympathy for the doomed poet but an informant arrives and tells the women that a male spy has invaded their assembly; it doesn’t take long for the women to deduce that the only woman to speak out for Euripides is the intruder.

At this point the play takes a unique turn; I have to admit that I was more than a little surprised when Mnesilokhos snatched up a baby from a woman in the assembly and threatened to kill it unless he was allowed to leave the hall unharmed; I won’t tell you how the situation is resolved but I will say that it’s scenes like this which demonstrate Aristophanes’ true comic genius.

After Mnesilokhos is taken prisoner and restrained, Euripides enters the scene to save his father-in-law from the wrath of the women; the comic banter between Mnesilokhos and Euripides is dialogue taken from Euripides’ tragedies and turned into farcical parodies.

Although the play mocks Euripides, there is an element of respect for his work laced throughout the puns and jokes; the net result of reading this play is that I wanted to read more plays by Euripides and Aristophanes.

Aristophanes’ plays are sometimes difficult to appreciate because he was a very contemporary poet, i.e. he was writing for the Athenian audience of his day; he would use puns, parody regional accents and speak directly to the audience in ways that force modern translators to seek out the contextual meaning rather than the literal meaning of the poet’s words; for that reason, I suggest that if you find a translation that is difficult to enjoy, please don’t blame Aristophanes, simply look for a translation that you can enjoy; when trying to find a readable translator, I suggest Patric Dickinson; you may find his books at your local library in the 882 section but his books are out of print and sometimes difficult to find.

Wooden Horse

The fall of Troy was only accomplished by use of the Wooden Horse which is also called the Trojan Horse.

After ten years of an unsuccessful siege on the walls of Troy, the Greeks devised a plan by which they would pretend to abandon the war and retreat back to their homes; the Greeks built a hollow Wooden Horse, which was filled with Greek soldiers, and left it in front of the gates of Troy; the Trojans saw the horse and debated its significance and fate.

Some of the Trojans thought that the Wooden Horse was a symbol of peace and a tribute to the goddess Athene (Athena); others thought that the Wooden Horse was a trick and should be burned where it stood; the Trojan seer, Laokoon (Laocoon), tried to warn king Priam that the Wooden Horse was a trick and not a peace offering but Poseidon (lord of the Sea), who was clearly on the side of the Greeks, sent one of his giant sea-serpents to kill Laokoon and one (or both) of his sons; Priam assumed that Laokoon was killed because he was giving false prophecy and ordered that the Wooden Horse be brought inside to walls of the city.

The Trojans were ecstatic; they believed that they had survived ten years of fierce fighting and were now ready to accept the Greek’s peace offering; after a day and night of celebration, the Trojans collapsed into a state of wine-induced exhaustion; the Greeks inside the Wooden Horse emerged from hiding and fell upon the unsuspecting Trojans; once the gates of the city were opened, the entire Greek army entered the city and leveled the walls of Troy and killed or enslaved every Trojan citizen.

Works and Days

A poem by Hesiod which consists of 828 lines; assumed to have been written in the seventh century BCE and passed from generation to generation until it became the poem we now possess.

In this poem, Hesiod engages in a monologue with his brother, Perses, on matters that range from the practical day-to-day administration of the family farm, to the spiritual and ethical conduct that Hesiod believed was essential if Perses wanted to lead a productive and worthwhile life; there are priceless pieces of advice and humble bits of wisdom included in this poem; one of my favorite passages urges Perses to be friendly and welcoming to his neighbors because, during times of crisis, your neighbors will rush to your aid at a moment’s notice whereas your relatives will take the time to dress properly before they come (lines 342-345).

Works and Days can be found as part of the Richmond Lattimore book, Hesiod, which includes Works and Days, Theogony and The Shield of Herakles, ISBN 0472081616 (paper bound) or 0472439030 (clothbound); for the complete translations of the Epic Cycle I also recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 57, ISBN 0674990633; you can find these books at most libraries or you can order them from the Book Shop on this site which is linked to



The uppercase form of the twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet; pronounced He (long E).


An Okeanid, i.e. one of the daughters Okeanos (Ocean) and Tethys.

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


The wife of Sokrates (Socrates).

Xanthippus (1)

The father of the Athenian statesmen, Perikles (Pericles).

Xanthippus (2)

The son the Athenian statesmen, Perikles (Pericles) and brother of Paralus.

Xanthippus married a young woman with very expensive tastes and was prompted to live beyond his means; without Pericles’ permission, Xanthippus used his father’s name to secure a loan and when Xanthippus could not repay the loan, Pericles refused to assist him and denounced his son; the embittered Xanthippus began to spread scandalous stories about his father’s private life; father and son were never reconciled; Xanthippus and his brother, Paralus, died of the plague which ravaged the city of Athens circa 430 BCE.

Xanthos (1)

He and Balios were the famed sons of Podarge (Podargus) and the immortal horses of Akhilleus (Achilles).

Xanthos (2)

One of the chariot horses of the Trojan hero, Hektor (Hector); his other horses were: Aithon, Podargus and Lampos.

Xanthos (3)

An ancient city of Lykia (Lycia) in southwestern Asia Minor near the mouth of the Xanthos River.

Xanthos (4)

A river in Lykia (Lycia) in southwestern Asia Minor which flows southwards into the Mediterranean Sea.

Xanthos (5)

Xanthos of Lydia; the author of a work on the history of Lydia called Lydiaka.


Known as the Graces or the Charities; 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.

For more information on Xaritas I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.


A term that simply means Foreign.


The son of Karkinus (Carcinus); he wrote the tragedy Tlepolemus.


A Greek philosopher circa 396-314 BCE.


A Greek philosopher and poet circa 570-480 BCE.


(circa 434-355 BCE) A Greek historian and essayist.

Xenophon has numerous works which have survived intact; he was a practical and energetic man and seemed to have had fame thrust upon him rather than actively seeking notoriety and fortune.

Since Roman times, his grammar and vocabulary have made his works the basis for the study of ancient Greek; I feel that his most important and engaging work is Anabasis, which describes the retreat of Greek mercenaries from the heart of the Persian Empire back to Greek territory; he was a religious and pious man and his writings reflect his humble nature even though he refers to himself in the third person and is not hesitant to proclaim his own virtues.

Xerxes II

The legitimate son of the Persian king, Artaxerxes I and queen Damaspia; after his father’s death, Xerxes ruled for forty five days in 423 BCE and was murdered by his half brother, Sogdianus, who was then murdered by Darius who assumed the throne as Darius II.

Xerxes I

The king of Persia from 486-465 BCE; the son of Darius I and Atossa.

The fact that Atossa was the daughter of the founder of the Persian Empire, Kyrus (Cyrus), gave Xerxes a clear advantage over Darius’ other sons but Atossa wielded great influence over Darius and before he left on an expedition to Egypt, Darius officially appointed Xerxes his successor; Darius died before he could return to Persia and Xerxes became king of the Persian Empire circa 486 BCE.

In Greece, he was known as The Warrior; his massive army invaded Greece in 480 BCE for a variety of reasons including: 1) revenge for his father’s humiliating defeat ten years previously in 490 BCE, 2) the prompting of his general and cousin, Mardonius, who wanted to be satrap of Greece, 3) the vengeful encouragement of the banished Athenian tyrant, Hipparkhus (Hipparchus), and 4) the self-serving prophecies of another Athenian expatriate, Onomakritus (Onomacritus); the only man to advise Xerxes not to invade Greece was his uncle, Artabanus.

Xerxes first quelled the rebellious Egyptians and Ionian Greeks along the coast of Asia Minor; he then proceeded with his plans to subjugate Greece; the army he assembled to march on Greece was immense, consisting of perhaps as many as five hundred thousand men not counting the support personnel; of course this figure is disputed because we only have the word of the historian Herodotus to go on; regardless of the actual size of the Persian army, the Greeks were outnumbered by an overwhelming margin.

It took a month for the Persian army to reach the narrow passage of the Hellespont where they intended to cross over into Europe; Xerxes lashed ships together side by side to create a 4,077 foot pontoon bridge across the Hellespont and prepared to march his army from Asia to Europe; when a violent wind broke the bridge to pieces, Xerxes had men with whips pronounce curses and deliver three hundred lashes on the water; he lowered a yoke into the water to symbolize his domination and finally branded the water with hot irons; the men who had been responsible for the bridge’s construction were beheaded; after he had calmed down, Xerxes repented and made offerings to the water spirits of the Hellespont so that he might be forgiven for his act of irreverence; to appease the waterway, he burned incense, poured libations, offered myrtle branches, a golden cup and bowl and also a sword; whether Xerxes did these things to appease the Hellespont or as a tribute to the sun god of Greece is not clear, regardless, the bridge was completed and the troops marched safely across.

As the army moved down the eastern coast of the Greek mainland, each independent Greek nation was either threatened or beaten into submission; the first major disappointment for Xerxes came at the battle of Thermopylae; a Spartan commander named Leonidas blockaded the pass with a small troop of soldiers; Xerxes was certain that when the Greeks saw his vast army they would simply run away, so he camped for four days in full view of the defiant Greeks; on the fifth day it became obvious that the Greeks were not going to surrender their fortifications without a fight; Xerxes sent a detachment of Medes and Kissians (Cissians) against the Greeks assuming that the Greek defenses would collapse with one aggressive assault; after a full day’s fighting, the Persians suffered heavy losses and failed to dislodge the Greeks; on the next day Xerxes sent in his best troops, the Immortals, to attack the Greeks but they could not force their way through the Greek lines; wave after wave of soldiers were hurled against the Greeks but the Persians remained ineffectual; this went on for several days and the Greeks seemed to never tire or decrease in number.

The impasse at Thermopylae was eventually resolved when a local inhabitant named Ephialtes showed the Persians a mountain trail which would allow the Persians to mount a surprise attack on the Greeks from the rear; Xerxes had his first taste of Greek determination and tactics but he did not think that any amount of gall or intelligence could stand against his massive military; the Persian Empire was the most powerful governmental state on earth and the Greeks, although they were the only civilized people in Europe, were, by comparison, simply a loosely organized and constantly bickering conglomeration of nations who happened to share a common language and heritage.

After the Persians won the battle for Thermopylae and four months after he crossed into Europe, Xerxes burned the city of Athens; the majority of the Athenian citizens had abandoned the city by the time the Persians arrived and the few who remained were systematically captured or killed; the Athenians had retreated to the nearby island of Salamis and the Greek nations of the Peloponnesian Peninsula had constructed a wall across the Isthmus of Korinth (Corinth); to Xerxes’ eyes, the Greeks were clearly making a last stand and he had no doubt that he would soon be the sovereign of all Greece.

Xerxes assembled his fleet south of Salamis and was waiting for the dawn when a Greek messenger arrived and told him that the Greeks were going to try to escape in the night; Xerxes ordered his navy into action and the Greeks, who had indeed been planning to evade a sea battle, were forced to fight; just as the narrow terrain at Thermopylae had benefited the outnumbered Greeks, the confined waters around Salamis were more advantageous to the smaller Greek force than to the superior numbers of the Persian navy; as Xerxes sat on a hill and watched the battle, the Persians ships were burned and sunk before his eyes; he did not want to appear weak or defeated, so he pretended to mount another assault as he actually made preparations to return home with as many ships and troops as he could save; time was of the essence because Xerxes was afraid that the pontoon bridge over the Hellespont would be destroyed by the Greeks before he could make his escape; his senior commander, Mardonius, was given a contingent of troops and ordered to stay in Greece and protect Xerxes’ retreat.

Mardonius knew the mind of Xerxes and the politics of the Persian Empire; he understood that if he was not killed by the Greeks, he would surely be blamed for the failed Greek expedition and be executed as soon as he returned to Persian soil; he retreated from Attika (Attica) and made a stand near the town of Plataea; the battle around Plataea was not a single, definitive confrontation but rather a series of running skirmishes which wore down the disheartened Persians and finally resulted in the death of Mardonius and the utter destruction of what remained of the Persian army.

As far as other achievements, both noble and base, attributed to Xerxes, the following deserve to be mentioned:

  1. The preceding Persian kings had demonstrated some respect for the temples and holy relics of the captured city of Babylon but Xerxes had no scruples regarding these sacred artifacts; he plundered the temple of Zeus and took a fifteen foot golden statue of the god; when the priest objected, Xerxes had him killed;
  2. In the spirit of exploration, and to confirm the Carthaginian claim that the Phoenicians had sailed around all of Libya (Africa), Xerxes pardoned a criminal on the condition that he sail from Egypt, through the Pillars of Herakles (Heracles), around Libya and return to the Arabian Gulf; the criminal returned to Egypt without completing his mission; he told some astounding tales which Xerxes correctly interpreted as lies and had the man impaled;
  3. As Xerxes was marching his army through Lydia on his way to Greece, he was entertained by a very wealthy man named Pythius; the king liked Pythius’ show of respect and his generous offer to donate all of his wealth to augment Xerxes’ war-chest; all went well until Pythius asked the king for a small favor; he asked that his eldest son be exempt from the army; he said that he would gladly allow his other four sons to fight in Greece but he needed his eldest to help him manage his affairs; Xerxes became enraged; he had Pythius’ son cut in half and had the halves put on each side of the road so that the army could march between them;
  4. In order to keep in communication with his far flung empire while he was busy subjugating the world, Xerxes employed a clever and practical innovation; he used a network of horseback riders to rapidly carry messages from the battlefield to his subordinates at home; each messenger would ride for one day and then pass the message to a fresh rider who would in turn ride for one day and then relay the message to a fresh rider; the motto that has been attributed to the United States Postal Service, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” comes almost directly from Herodotus’ description of the Persian messengers of king Xerxes; of course, a comparison of the mounted Persian messengers must be made to the famed Pony Express which delivered mail in the American west during the years of 1860-1;
  5. His treatment of two Spartan messengers is one of the most curious episodes related to Xerxes; when Xerxes’ father, Darius, had sent heralds to Athens and Sparta demanding their submission, they were killed; the Athenians did not give the matter another thought but the Spartans regretted the incident and were determined to make amends; prior to Xerxes’ invasion of Greece, the Spartans sent two messengers, sacrificial victims really, to Xerxes and they offered their lives as recompense for the dishonorable way the Persian heralds were treated; Xerxes surprised everyone, including his generals and advisors, by not executing the Spartan volunteers; instead, he took the Spartans on a tour of his assembled army and navy and let them return to Sparta unharmed; the purpose of this maneuver was to allow the Spartans to marvel at his strength and be cowed into submission rather than fight a pointless war; needless to say, Xerxes misjudged the Spartans;
  6. The love affair with his brother’s daughter was a tragic and embarrassing affair; Xerxes wanted to have the affection of his brother’s wife and so he devised a devious plan where his own son, Darius, would marry his brother’s daughter and thus put him in closer contact with the woman of his desire, the girl’s mother; the affection for the girl’s mother was not returned so Xerxes became infatuated with his son’s new bride; her name was Artaynte and she returned the king’s affection; when Xerxes’ wife, Amestris, became suspicious of the affair, she concocted a plan where she could find out if Xerxes was being unfaithful to her; she gave Xerxes an exquisite cloak that she knew young Artaynte would covet; Xerxes gave the cloak to Artaynte as Amestris predicted and by doing so Amestris knew without doubt that her husband was being unfaithful to her; Amestris waited for the king’s birthday and, as custom dictated, the king was obliged to grant favors and give gifts to his subjects; Amestris asked Xerxes for Artaynte’s mother as a gift and he could not refuse even though he suspected an evil end to such an unusual request; Amestris had Artaynte’s mother killed and mutilated; Xerxes feared revenge for such unjustified treatment of the innocent woman and had his brother, his nephews and their supporters murdered to prevent any retaliation.

Xerxes died in 464 BCE was followed by Artaxerxes I.

  • Histories, book 1, chapter 183; book 4, chapter 43; almost all of books 7 and 8; book 9, chapters 108-113
  • Xoanon

    A simple, carved image, especially one in which the original block of stone or wood is readily apparent.


    One of the three sons of Hellen; his brothers were Doris and Aiolos (Aeolus); he was the husband of Kreusa (Creusa) and the stepfather of Ion.

    When Xuthus married Kreusa he did not realize that she had a son by Apollon which Kreusa had abandoned in a cave; Hermes rescued the abandoned child, named Ion, and took him to Delphi to be raised by the priestesses of Apollon; when their marriage was childless, Xuthus and Kreusa went to the temple of Apollon at Delphi for advice; they were told that they should adopt the first child they met when they left the temple; the first child they encountered was Ion but Kreusa was sure that Ion was a child of Xuthus born out of wedlock to another woman; she plotted to kill Ion but the priestess of Apollon showed her the swaddling clothing in which the infant was wrapped when he had been presented at the temple; Kreusa accepted the fact that Ion was her abandoned child and she and Xuthus took the child to Athens where, according to Athene (Athena), a prophecy had been fulfilled and that Ion would become the founder of the Ionian race.


    A lake near the town of Ktimene in the district of Dolopia in Thessaly.


    A covered portico such as a promenade.



    The goddess Hebe, 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.



    Zeta; the uppercase form of the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet; lower case: ζ.


    One of the Ionian Islands located off the western coast of the Peloponnesian Peninsula in the Ionian Sea; 157 square miles (253 square kilometers) in size; now called Zakinthos.

    Approximate east longitude 20.44 and north latitude 37.52.


    A term referring to The West implying the gloom of the Underworld and nether-darkness.


    Rivalry or Emulation; he is the son of the Titan, Pallas, and the Okeanid, Styx; the brother of Bia (Force), Kratos (Cratos) (Power) and Nike (Victory).

    Zeno (1)

    (circa 340-265 BCE) A Greek philosopher from the island of Cyprus; he is called: Zeno of Kitium (Citium) and Zeno the Stoic.

    Zeno was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy in Athens circa 300-315 BCE; he taught that people should be free of passion, unmoved by joy or grief and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity; he could argue relentlessly on any side of any argument; he has been described as an “assailer of all things”; he was honored with a public funeral in Athens because he was thought to have lived his life in harmony with his teachings.

    Zeno (2)

    (circa 490-430 BCE) Zeno of Elea; a Greek philosopher who is most famous for what is commonly known as Zeno’s Paradox.

    Zeno’s Paradox has been explained by sociologists such as Robert Anton Wilson, mathematicians such as Rudy Rucker, and even characters in the TV series, Star Trek; Zeno’s Paradox can be stated formally as: the relation of the Discrete to the Continuous and requiring the concept of Limit for its satisfactory explanation; as a practical example: if you were ten feet away from a wall and you move halfway towards it and then stop and then move halfway towards it again and then stop and then move halfway towards it again and then stop and on and on in this fashion, you will never reach the wall because you will always have another half the distance to traverse; the distance to the wall is clearly Finite but you have made it Infinite simply by your method of measurement.

    Zeno (3)

    Zenon; (fl. 460 BCE); the successor to Parmenides in the Eleatic School of philosophy which investigated the phenomenal world, especially with reference to the phenomena of change; he was famous for his devotion to his beliefs and was honored with a public funeral in Sparta.


    A name for the Lokrian (Locrian) colonists from mainland Greece who settled near Mount Zephyrium in southern Italy; also called the Epizephyrian.


    Mount Zephyrium in southern Italy; home of the Zephyrian who were Lokrian (Locrian) colonists from mainland Greece.


    The West Wind; one of the sons of Eos (Dawn) and Astraios and the husband of Iris; his brothers are: Boreas (North Wind) and Notos (South Wind).

    There are two types of winds: 1) the divinely created winds, i.e. Boreas (North Wind), Notos (South Wind), Zephyros (West Wind) and the Etesian winds, and 2) the ill-favored winds that were created by the monster, Typhoeus, when Zeus imprisoned him under the earth; the divinely created winds nourish and bless the earth but the winds of Typhoeus are wild and destructive.

    For more information on the Winds I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.


    The sixth letter of the Greek alphabet; upper case: Ζ; lower case: ζ.


    One of the two winged sons of Boreas (North Wind) and Oreithyia.

    As Argonauts, he and his brother, Kalais (Calais), chased away the Harpies so that the blind seer, Phineus, could eat once more; the two brothers chased the Harpies but Zeus would not allow Zetes or Kalais to harm them; it was only at the will of Zeus that the winged women ceased their torment of Phineus.


    He and his brother, Amphion, were sons of Zeus and Antiope; the two brothers presumably built the foundations and bulwarks of the city of Thebes; Zethos married the nymph, Thebe, and the newly built city was named after her.

    In the play, Antiope by Euripides, the story was expanded and the twin boys, now grown to manhood, avenged the harsh treatment their mother had received at the hands of her uncle and aunt, Lykus (Lycus) and Dirke (Dirce); Lykus was deposed as the king of Thebes and Dirke was killed cruelly on the horns of a bull.


    The king and symbolic father of the Immortals; one of the children of the Titans, Kronos (Cronos) and Rheia (Rhea).

    Zeus is married to his sister Hera; he is the brother of Histia (Hestia), Demeter, Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Hades (lord of the Underworld); when all creation was divided between Zeus and his brothers, Zeus became the ruler of the Heavens, Poseidon became the ruler of the Seas and Hades became the ruler of the Underworld.

    For more detailed information on Zeus I suggest that you return to the Home Page of this site and consult the Immortals section.


    (fl. circa 430-400 BCE) One of the most famous painters of his time.

    Several descriptions of his work offer us a glimpse of the talent and imagination of this man; he was said to have painted grapes so realistically that birds flew down and tried to eat them; he was mentioned by Pliny the Elder regarding his depiction of a scene from the life of Herakles (Heracles) in which Herakles was struggling with the snakes that Hera sent to kill him while he was still an infant.


    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.


    The social class of ox drivers.

    When the noted statesman, Solon, reorganized the Athenian society (circa 594 BCE) he divided the citizens into four specific groups; the four classes under Solon’s constitution were:

    1. Pentakosiomedimnoi (the owners of large, productive tracts of land);
    2. Ippeis (named for their social class as horsemen or charioteers);
    3. Zeygitai (named for the social class of ox drivers); and
    4. Thetes (the lowest of the four classes of Athenian citizens, literally they were hired farm workers and served as lightly-armed soldiers and common seaman).

    The mother of Adonis and daughter of the mythical king of the island of Cyprus, Kinyras (Cinyras).

    Zmyrna was the mother of Adonis by the unnatural union with her father; she had dishonored Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and the goddess had her revenge by causing Zmyrna’s father to seduce her; Adonis was the result of that union; when Kinyras came to his senses he intended to kill Zmyrna but the Immortals intervened and turned the disgraced girl into a myrrh tree.

    Her name is also rendered as Myrrha.


    A name of Apollon used to denote his generative powers.


    The Zodiac; the word could be translated as Animals-Shining but literally means Bearing Animals.

    The zodiac is a circle of constellations on the ecliptic, i.e. the apparent path of the sun and planets in the sky; the idea of dividing the heavens into a circle of three hundred and sixty degrees and then dividing that circle into thirty degree sections to form the houses, i.e. constellations, of the zodiac originated with the ancient Sumerians and was adopted by succeeding cultures, including the Greeks.


    A Persian commander during the reign of Darius I.

    During the reign of the Persian king, Kambyses (Cambyses), a Mede, commonly called false-Smerdis, assumed the throne of the Persian Empire; Kambyses had been in Egypt and died before he could return to Susa and confront the usurper; false-Smerdis took the throne by deception and ruled for seven months before Darius and six other Persians were able to organize a revolt and restore Persian rule to the empire; as one of the seven revolutionaries, Darius was chosen as the new king.

    Taking advantage of the confusion caused by the rule of false-Smerdis and the subsequent rebellion, the city of Babylon declared its independence from the Persian Empire; the first Persian king, Kyrus the Great, was able to capture Babylon by diverting the Euphrates River and sending his troops into the city through the dried-up riverbed; the Babylonians had learned from their mistakes and Darius was unable to beach the walls or enter through the riverbed; the Babylonians were so confidant of their position that they taunted the Persians by saying, You will take the city when a mule bears an offspring, meaning of course that the city would never fall to the Persians again.

    After nineteen months of frustrating defeats a miraculous thing happened in the ranks of the Persian contingent around Babylon: a mule belonging to a Persian commander named Zopyrus gave birth to a foal; Zopyrus correctly presumed that this was a divine message and that the fall of Babylon was eminent; he devised a clever plan that he knew Darius would never sanction so he proceeded in secret until it was too late for Darius to stop him.

    Zopyrus cut off his nose and ears and presented himself to Darius; the king was horrified that Zopyrus would do such a thing to himself but, as he heard the plan that Zopyrus had devised, he realized that Babylon was within his grasp; Zopyrus planned to surrender himself to the Babylonians and say that Darius had mutilated him because he had advised the king to depart and give up the siege; Darius was to position his most expendable troops at various gates of the city armed only with daggers; Zopyrus would gain the trust of the Babylonians by leading forays against the lightly armed Persians which Darius had positioned at the predetermined city gates and slaughtering them.

    This was supposed to impress the Babylonians with Zopyrus’ military abilities and allow him to gain command authority of the defensive forces; leading the Babylonian army on three separate raids, Zopyrus killed a total of seven thousand Persians and consequently was promoted to captain of the army and warden of the walls of the city; with his new authority, Zopyrus then opened two of the city gates and allowed the Persian army to enter and capture the city.

    Darius tore down the walls of Babylon so that no such rebellion could be accomplished in the future; he made Zopyrus the ruler of Babylon and required no tribute (taxes) be paid as long as Zopyrus lived; Zopyrus’ son Megabyzus distinguished himself as a loyal Persian but his grandson, also named Zopyrus, betrayed the Persians and deserted to the Athenians.

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