Notes on Objects & Places from Mythology

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Mythology Objects/Places

Graces: There are three Graces: Aglaia (splendor), Euphrosyme (Mirth), and Thalia (good cheer). They make life better for men and are the children of Zeus and Eurynome.

Muses: There are nine Muses, originally unnamed. They are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory). They slowly acquired names and attributes: Clio(history), Urania (astronomy), Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy), Terpsichore (dance), Calliope (epic poetry), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (god songs), Euterpe(lyric poetry). Helicon is one of their mountains. Often they are companions to Apollo.

Naiads: Water nymphs of rivers and fountains.

Underworld: Lies somewhere beyond the edge of the world. In other stories, it is located beneath the surface of the land. It is sometimes divided into Tartarus and Erebus (a deeper level). Until Virgil, little is known about the underworld..

Styx: The primary river separating the real world from the underworld. It is by the Styx that the gods swear and make an unbreakable oath.

Cerberus: A three headed dog guarding the entrance to the underworld. Beyond him are three judges who determine punishment for the sinners: Rhadamnathus, Minos and Aeacus.

Elysian fields: The sacred place in the underworld where heroes and good people go.

Lethe: The underworld’s river of forgetfulness.

Furies (Erinyes): Goddesses who punish evil doers. The Greeks believed that they punished sinners while they were on earth. Their names are Tisiphone, Megaera and Allecto.

Sileni: Part man and part horse creature who is pictured on Greek vases.

Satyrs: Part man and part goat creatures who live in the wild.

Ureads, Dryads and Ham-dryads: Nymphs of mountains, rivers, and trees respectively.

Centaurs: Half men half horse known primarily for excessive lust and violence. Chiron is a centaur known for his wisdom and teaching.

Gorgons: Three terrible women, two of whom are immortal. Medusa is not. They are dragon-like, with wings. Their mere sight turns men into stone.

Sirens: Singing beasts in the middle of the sea that cause ships to wreck on their island.

Fates, Moirae, Parcae : There are three: Clotho, spins the thread of life, Laches, dispenses lots and lengths to the thread, and Atropos, cuts the thread.

Lares, Penates: Roman gods of house and hearth. Also associated with ancestor worship.

Titans: The first gods on earth who were overthrown eventually by the Olympians.

Olympus: The heavenly home of the gods.

Maenads (Bacchantes): Bands of women under the control of wine who follow Dionysius around and cut a path of destruction in their wake.

Thebes: Home city of Dionysius and Oedipus. Athens unites with others in the Seven Against Thebes.

Cyclopes: One-eyed children of Gaia and Ouranos. They survived the war between the Titans and the Olympians and became servants of Zeus.

Crete: The island of Minos where the Labyrinth was held. Also the sheltering place of Zeus while he grew strong enough to overcome his father.

Sidon: An ancient city located in modern Lebanon.

Argo: The ship on which Jason and the other champions made their voyage in search of the golden fleece.

Thessaly: A northern region of Greece known for its wildness.

Harpies: Flying beasts who harass Jason and the Argonauts while they are feasting with a prophet. They also attack Aeneas and the Trojans.

Amazons: Warrior women who live on an island in the eastern Aegean.

Colchis: The named of King Aeetes’ kingdom where the Golden Fleece was held.

Scylla and Charybdis: Always paired together, these are two obstacles that face each other. Scylla is a six-headed dragon-like beast and Charybdis is a whirlpool. Jason, Odysseus and Aeneas must endure these obstacles.

Corinth: A city near Thebes where Medea and Jason settle and Jason decides to take a new wife.

Pegasus: The winged horse Bellerophon desired more than anything else. He got the horse with the help of Athena and used it to defeat many adversaries. He did not lose it until he attempted to fly up to Olympus.

Chimaera: A beast with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a dragon’s tail that Bellerophon defeated.

Labyrinth: The intricate maze Daedalus designed to hold the Minotaur.

Argos: The home city of Agamemnon and favored city of Hera.

Delphi: The major oracle of Apollo, the god of prophets. Throughout mythology men are following the advice of the oracle for better or for worse.

Minotaur: The half man and half bull created by Pasiphae’s lust for a bull. Minos, Pasiphae’s husband, had the Labyrinth built for the creature instead of destroying it.

Calydon: The city that was ravaged by a great boar. Its king called for the Great Calydonian Boar hunt that brought together many of the great heroes. Atalanta was there.

Troy: The city on Asia Minor that was the site of the Trojan war. Paris came from here to steal Helen from the house of Menelaus. It also gave birth to Aeneas who led the remnants of its people to found a city in Italy.

Myrmidons: The soldiers of Achilles. They were formed in the time of his grandfather from ants.

Ithaca: The island nation of Odysseus.

Carthage: The city founded by Queen Dido on North Africa. She came there from Sidon. The Trojans were washed up here after a storm.

Cumae: The site of Italy’s passage to the underworld.

Phrygia: A region in Asia Minor.

Asgard: The home of the gods in Norse mythology.

Valhalla: The hall for heroic men in Asgard in Norse Mythology.

Valkyrie: Women who attend on Odin and the rest of the Norse pantheon.

Ragnarok: The final day of the world when good is overcome by evil and everything ends.

Eleusinian Mysteries: The harvest time festival honoring Demeter and Dionysius. The festival was held for nine days once every five years in Greece, but the actual events of the festival are still largely unknown.

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