***Human Women in Greek Myths***|
Acacallis to Evadne
Acacallis is a kind of boring story - but that's okay, because it isn't really a story about a girl, it's a story about a city. You'll see. Acacallis was a princess, the daughter of Minos (the King of Crete) and Pasiphae. Acacallis (also called Acalle), went to visit her mom's family in the House of Carmanor (they were leading citizens in the city of Tarrha, which is in the West of Crete). It so happens that Apollo had come to Tarrha from Aegialae with his sister, Artemis being purified. Apollo saw Acacallis and fell in love with her and seduced her. She was his first love. Minos got pissed off about that, and sent Acacallis away to Libya. In Libya she became the mother of Garamas (though some call him the "first man." Incidentally, Acacallis means "no walls" - like the city of Tarrha (and many other Cretan cities). This story is probably just an "explanation story" of when the Hellenes came from Aegialae and took over the city of Tarrha. The nobility fled to Libya, where they began ruling the peaceful Garamantians. Make sense?
Admeta was the daughter of Eurystheus for whom Heracles performed the ninth labor. He went to the Amazons and stole the Girdle of Hippolyta from their queen and brought it back to Admeta. Admeta's mother's name was Antimache. Symbolically, in the story of Heracles, Admeta is a priestess who eventually succumbs to sleeping with the hero, but only after he's beaten her (in the form of the Hydra, a crab, a wild mare, a cloud, and a hind - read the story, if you don't get it). Ademete is also another name for Athena, who helped Heracles along.
Aédon was turned into the first nightingale, that's the important thing. How she got to be that way is up for debate. There are two stories that suggest how she became so transformed. The first story sets her up as the wife of Zethus and the mother of Itylus. She mistakenly killed her son, and, out of pity, Zeus turned her into the nightingale, who nightly laments the murder of her child. The other story is not so nice. In this story, Aédon is the queen of ancient Thebes who tries to murder Niobe's kids, but ends up killing her own. She is turned into a nightingale for the same reason in this story.
She was the daughter of Adrastus and Amphithea, and wife of Diomedes. Diomedes was a big-time Trojan War hero and a favorite of Athena's. I personally think he was pretty cool, because he seriously injured Ares (who screamed like a baby and ran home to Olympus where all the Gods were disgusted). But yeah, then Diomedes did all sorts of other cool things with his buddy Odysseus and then he came home and found out: OH MY GOD! Aegiale had been cheating on him! (Chances are he had been sleeping around like nobody's business himself, but does anyone pay attention to that? Nooooo.) So that's how we know about Aegiale.
Aerope was a great adulteress. She was married to a King of Mycene named Atreus, but she was sleeping with a man named Thyestes (who happened to be Atreus' bitter brother), who wanted to be king. She stole Atreus' golden lamb, gave it to Thyestes, and tricked Atreus into giving the throne to whoever had the golden lamb. Atreus was pissed, and there's a whole story about what he did, but it has nothing to do with Aerope, so I won't tell it. She was also called Merope.
Aethra was the mother of Theseus (and you should definitely know Theseus). She was the daughter of Pittheus (king of Troezen) and the wife of Aegeus (king of Athens). Now despite the fact that she raised and bore Theseus, she is given no more than two words in the telling of the story. She is not even given credit for Theseus' conception, that was the idea of her father.
Agave was the sister of Semele (mother of Dionysus). She said that Zeus wasn't Dionysus' father. She was punished by becoming a Maenad. When Agave's son Pertheus spied on their rituals, Agave and the Maenads ripped him to shreds while Agave cried out, "Victory, victory! The glory is ours; we have done it." They thought that he was a wild boar.
She was the daughter of the half-dragon half-man Cecrops (so made because he was the arbitrator in the fight between Athena and Poseidon over Athens, and Poseidon lost), but artists usually make her pretty normal looking. Her sister was Herse (Ersa?), and Hermes beloved. Well, Aglauros had a thing for Hermes too, and was jealous of her sister. And so when Hermes came to visit, she stood in his way and said she would not move. He was like, "Fine, don't move then," and he turned her into a stone. Aglauros means "Dewfall".
See the Minyades.
Alcestis was the ultimate sacrificing wife. She was married to Admetus, who was a friend of Apollo's. Apollo arranged it with the Fates that Admetus wouldn't have to die if he could find someone else to take his place. He asked his parents and servants, but no one agreed. Alcestis took the poison willingly and died in his place. But Admetus was wayyyyy depressed when she died, and so Heracles went down to the Underworld and brought Alcestis back.
Alcippe was the daughter of Ares (God of War) and Aglauros. She was raped by a son of Poseidon. Ares immediately killed the rapist, and was brought on trial by the other gods. It was the first murder trial. After the facts were laid out, and they heard what happened to Alcippe, Ares was quickly aquitted. Alcippe was also called Phryne. The picture on the left is called "Phryne before the Areopagus" by Jean-Leon Gerome.
Alcmene was the mother of Heracles. Zeus fell in love with her, and disguised himself as her husband, Amphitryon. They made love, but Zeus was so into it that he made that one night last three days. From this union came the hero Heracles. Her husband was mighty confused when he really did come home.
Althaea was the mother of Meleager (whose story is written here, but since it isn't yet finished, Meleager was the guy who finished off the Calydonian Boar and gave Atalanta, see below, the credit). So basically Meleager was cool. But Althaea had issues. And even though she saved her baby's life when he was born, she killed him after he killed her brothers. To fully understand this, you should visit the Myth Pages.
Amymone was one of the Danaïdes. Her dad, Danaus, sent her to get water one day, and in searching she saw a deer. Now I don't know what you do when you see a deer, I usually slow down my car and watch it cross the road, but not this girl. No, as soon as she saw it, she tried to shoot it. Except, whoops! it wasn't a deer after all, it was a satyr. And the satyr, a little pissed about being shot at, tried to rape her. Or maybe that wasn't why - people, especially satyrs, rarely need an excuse. Anyway, Poseidon came along and rescued her, for which she promptly slept with him in thanks, and he, returning the favor (again) showed her where the springs at Lerna were. They lived happily ever after, had a son named Nauplius, and she escaped the fate of her sisters. According to Robert Graves, Amymone could also be the name of the goddess at Lerna, the center of the Danaid water cult. The spring they found is still called Amymone today.
Anaraxete was "a cruel virgin who made her lover, Iphis, commit suicide." Here's the story: Anaraxete was a Greek princess who was totally not about Iphis (who was madly in love with her). He was so bummed he hung himself. She was so cold and uncaring during his funeral that Aphrodite turned Anaraxete to stone.
Andromache was the daughter of Eetion (king of Thebes). Her brothers and her father were killed by Achilles in the Trojan War, as was her husband Hector (whose body Achilles desecrated) and her son Astyanax (who was only a tiny baby). Andromache was made a slave of Achilles' son (Neoptolemus). After she had his kid, and he later died, she married Heleneus (one of King Priam of Troy's few surviving kids) and they became the rulers of the Greek region of Epirus. Of course, that doesn't really get to the character of the woman. Personality wise, she was amazing. Very much an archetype of womanhood, wifehood, etc. in the Iliad, and it's DEFINITELY worth reading at least her part before Hector leaves for battle.
Andromeda was the perfect damsel in distress. She was the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopia (see below for Cassiopia). Cassiopia pissed off the Nereids by saying that Andromeda was more beautiful than they. Poseidon sent a sea monster down that started devouring everything it could. To end the destruction, they decided to sacrifice Andromeda, and chained her to a rock for the monster to eat. Luckily, Perseus (young hero) swooped down to kill the moster and save the girl at just the right moment. He fell in love with her, of course, and wanted to marry her. But her parents were like, "heeeeeeeeck no." So he pulled out the head of Medusa and turned them to stone. Then they got married and had six sons and a daughter. When she died, Andromeda was hung in the sky as a constellation. That picture on the left is of her chained to the rock in a kinky kind of way.
Antigone's story (or rather the short version) is told in the Myth Pages, but since that version isn't finished yet, I'll write a short version here as well. Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta and the sister of Ismene. She was strong in every way imaginable. She openly defied her evil uncle King Creon to bury her brother, Polydices, saying that a immoral law should not be followed. Creon sentenced her to be buried alive. Antigone hung herself soon after she was locked into the cave, just before Haemon came to save her.
Antiope was a princess of Thebes who bore two sons (Zethus and Amphion) to Zeus. Fearing her father's wrath, she abandoned them on a mountainside, but as Ananke (the Goddess of Fate) would have it, the boys were saved by a kind herdsman. The Lycus, King of Thebes and Antiope's father, and his wife, Dirce (see below) were very very cruel to Antiope until one day she ran away into the woods. She came to the cottage where her sons lived and they had a joyful reunion. Then her sons - who were now grown - returned and killed both Lycus and Dirce. There's another Antiope.
Look it's another Dionysus chick! Ariadne was born the daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae of Crete. Crete was an expansionist nation, but instead of simply taking over Athens, they allowed a tribute of youths (chicks and dudes) for sacrifice to their monstrous son, the Minotaur. Theseus, the son of the King of Athens, was one such sacrifice. He arrives, Ariadne (who wants out in a bad way) is totally into the foreign hottie and makes him promise to take her with him if he escapes, which she helps him to by giving him magic string that helps him get out of the Labyrinth (where the Minotaur lives). So far so good. Theseus does his thing, and off they go. On the way back to Athens they stop at Naxos, where, for one reason or another, they drop off Ariadne. There she and Dionysus have a thing, possibly, though sources differ. Actually, sources on this one differ really dramatically, so I can give you no definitive myth. However, if interested in this sort of thing, you should check out the novel, The King Must Die by Mary Renault. Awesome book.
See the Minyades.
Atalanta was abandoned at birth by her misogynist father, but turned out just fine as the daughter of a bear. Very Artemis-like, with the virginity and the hunting ... At some point she involves herself in the Calydonian boar hunt. She may or may not have been one of the Argonauts. But, like so many myths about women, her story seems to end with marriage. She returns to her dad (more forgiving lady than me, I must say) who wants her to get married, but she's not feelin' it. So they compromise, if a dude can beat her in a footrace, she'll marry him. Only Hippomenes (aka Meilanion) can do it - and only then with the aid of divinely magicked golden apples - but, nonetheless, their marriage seemed a happy one since it only ended when they were caught having sex on sacred ground (Zeus' or Cybele's) and changed into lions. In case you haven't figured it out, this lady's super-cool. Actually, this lady is so rocking, she gets a big ol' space of her own in the Myth Pages. Trust me, it's worth your time.
The daugher of Harmonia and Cadmus, and sister of Agave (see above), Ino, and Semele. She, like all her sisters, has a tragic story too. She was the mother of Actaeon. This is one you are gonna have to wait for the Myth pages for, but to make a long story short, he was turned into a stag and ripped apart by his hounds for looking at Artemis bathing. That was her tragedy. Not quite as bad as her sisters, but bad enough.
Baubo is sometimes considered a goddess, but I prefer to think of her as human. When Demeter was searching for Persephone, her daughter, she got really really pissed and made the world go into it's first winter. Which scared everyone. But Baubo, when she saw Demeter's sadness, lifted the Goddess's mood by lifting up her dress and flashing her. It made Demeter laugh out loud and winter began to turn to spring. Baubo reached demi-goddess status, and became one of Demeter's priestesses. That picture on the right, you know, the one of the chick holding her dress up? Yeah. That's Baubo.
Baucis was married to Philemon, and the poor, old couple were the only ones who would give shelter to Zeus and Hermes when they were wandering the earth disguised as mortals. They touched Zeus' heart so deeply that he granted their deepest wish: that they could remain together even in death. Zeus transformed them into trees whose branches were intertwined.
The daughter of Miletus, founder of Milete. She fell in love with her twin brother Caunus, who fled from her. She followed him throughout Asia Minor until she died from exhaustion and grief, and was changed into a constantly flowing spring.
Briseis got caught in the middle of things. She was abducted from Troy during the Trojan War and became, quite literally, booty. Sadly, both Achilles (hero of the Iliad) and Agamemnon (Greek king leading the charge against Troy in the Iliad) wanted her booty, and there was this whole big thing over her, cuz Agamemnon took her from Achilles after he'd stolen her fair and square. In the Iliad, that holy of holies, she may have rank, but not nearly as crucial as Chryseis, the daughter of the priest of Apollo who is returned to the Trojans. Briseis is emphatically NOT returned to the Trojans, whatever Brad Pitt might say (and she doesn't kill Agamemnon, either. That's Clytemnestra, see below). Briseis just means "daughter of Briseus," apparently her given name was actually Hippodamia.
I think this is one of Greek Mythology's coolest stories. Caenis was a beautiful young maiden who Poseidon abducted and brutally raped. Afterward, he felt a little bad and offered to give her anything she wanted. She asked to be turned into a man so that would NEVER happen again. Poseidon did as she asked and made her invincible to weapons as well. Caeneus (that was her name as a man) could not be killed, but he was buried under a pile of pine trees by a bunch of Centaurs. Caeneus was an invulnerable warrior of Thessaly; he took part in the Calydonian boar hunt and was put out of commission in the battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs.
Callirhoe was married to Alcmaeon, who was murdered by his first wife's dad. She prayed that her sons would grow up in one day so that they could avenge their father. Zeus granted her prayer, and they grew to six feet in one night and killed their father's murderer. Actually, there's about nine other Callirhoes as well, but this first one's all you get for now.
Carya was the daughter of a Laconian king. Her story is very short. She was the beloved of Dionysus, but she died very suddenly at Caryae. Dionysus wasn't too keen on losing his love, but he couldn't bring her back to life, so instead he turned her into a walnut tree. Artemis brought word of her death to the Laconians, which is where the Goddess got the name Artemis Caryatis. Carya means "walnut tree" and she is associated with the Titaness of Wisdom, Metis.
Cassandra was one of those who was in the Trojan War. Ther are two books you should know that relate to her. Number One: The Iliad; Number Two: The Firebrand, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which is actually ABOUT Cassandra and a VERY good fiction book. Anyway, Cassandra was the daughter of Priam. She was a prophetess - but, because of the times, a prophetess of doom. If anyone had bothered to listen to her, they wouldn't have lost the War, but nooooooo. Oh well. Today calling someone a Cassandra means calling them a prophet of doom. She got her power from Apollo, cuz he hada thing for her. But when she accepted his gift but not his love, he cursed her that her prophesies would never convince anyone. Her name meant "She who entagles men."
Cassiopeia boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids who complained to Poseidon. Poseidon sent a sea monster and demanded that Andromeda (see above) be sacrificed to it. Luckily, Perseus came along and saved Andromeda. Cassiopeia was made a constellation (a woman in supplication to the gods).
Chione had twin sons by two gods. She bore Autolycus (a master thief) to Hermes and Philammon (a master musician) to Apollo. But when she asked Apollo to say she was more beautiful than Artemis, she messed up, because Artemis heard and shot her. Apollo turned her into a hawk.
One of the main characters in The Iliad, she was the traitorous daughter of Chryses (a priest of Apollo) who was taken captive by Agamemnon. When Agamemnon wouldn't let her go, Apollo sent a plague onto the Greek army. Agamemnon promptly let her go, but demanded Achilles' concubine, Briseis, in her place. This caused very big problems. Read the book.
The daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra (see below). Contrary to the fierce and warrior-like sister Electra(see below), Chrysothemis was meek and resigned in the adulterous nature of her mother.
Cilissa was the nurse of Orestes who, when Aegisthus (the murderer who wanted to destroy Agamemnon's line) tried to strangle the baby, placed her own son in Orestes cradle. Orestes was saved (though her own child died) and grew up to kill Aegisthus.
Circe was an evil, or perhaps just cruelly quirky, sorceress. She was very powerful and turned all of Odysseus' men into swine (they bearly escaped). She also had the power to purify and cleanse the Argonauts of the murder of Apsyrtus. Her name means "Falcon" and that seems pretty appropriate for her character. Circe was the daughter of Helios (the Sun) and Perse, and was the aunt of Medea. She was wayyyyy dangerous because she was so powerful and so bored. She also had a hand in turning the little nymph Scylla into a monster. But you'll have to check out the story in the Myth Pages to understand that.
The name Clymene means "Famous Might". There were a couple of Clymenes. One was believed to be the mother of Atalanta (see above). But the one who seems more important to me was the mother of Phaethon, but if you want to learn about her you will have to check out Clymene, the Nymph.
Clytemnestra was the daughter of Leda and Tyndareus, sister of Helen, Castor, and Polydeuces. She married Agamemnon, and had four children (Chrysothemis - see above -, Electra - see below), Iphigenia, and Orestes). She never forgave Agamemnon for sacrificing Iphigenia to free the Greek ships so they could go to the Trojan War, and while Agamemnon was gone, she plotted with her lover, Aegisthus, to kill Agamemnon. When Agamemnon returned, Clytemnestra killed him and Cassandra(see above). Later in life, with Electra's encouragement, her son Orestes killed Clytemnestra to avenge Agamemnon's death.
There were two chicks named Comaetho, both with super interesting stories, though I have to warn you, they're both sad. Princess Comaetho was the daughter of the king of the Taphians, and this guy attacked the kingdom and he was super cute. But the king had this lock of blonde hair on his head that made him invincible, and Comaetho, being an idiot, couldn't bear that her crush wouldn't win. So she snuck into her dad's room one night and cut it off and then went and gave it to hottie-conqueror-guy. Next day, guy wins, dad dies, and Comaetho was executed by conqueror guy because traitors suck, and women are untrustworthy (that appears to be the moral of the story anyway). The other one's a little more romantic, though. Priestess Comaetho served Artemis Triclaria in Achaia, but she had this major crush on this guy named Melanippus. They did everything they could to get their parents to let them marry, but the 'rents weren't down (probably because having your daughter leave the service of Artemis, the original virgin goddess, for some dude was no good). So, what could they do? Well, they did actually have a few options, but the one they went with involved sleeping together on the temple floor. Artemis got pissed and started killing all these people and didn't stop until the oracle explained that it was Comaetho and Melanippus' fault. So then they were sacrificed and for a long time, the people had to sacrifice the most beautiful girl and boy to appease her. Sad, huh? That's them!
Her name means "raven" or "crow". She was killed by Apollo for her infidelity. She was the mother of Aesclepius (by Apollo).
There were three Creusas. One is Roman, so I'm not even going to talk about her. One is boring (daughter of King of Athens, raped by Apollo, ho hum), so I'm not going to really talk about her. The last was the daughter of the King of Corinth (Creon). Jason, after her returned home from his mission, fell in love with her. Ain't nothing wrong with that, except that, oh yeah! he was already married to Medea. Now, Medea was no one to be messed with. She was a sorceress, and she had killed families out of love for Jason. When Jason ditched her for Creusa, she went crazy and killed Creusa, Creusa's father, and her own children with Jason.
Cyone was raped by her father. After the attack she dragged her dad to the nearest temple and sacrificed him on the altar. I feel no pity for her father, only her.
Cyrene is SOOO COOOL! She was the daughter of a shepherd. So, one day Apollo happens along and sees her. What is this dainty shepherdess doing? She's wrestling a lion that was attacking her father's sheep. Apollo was in love. He carried her off and founded the city of Cyrene, making her queen. To Apollo she bore the sons Aristeus and Idmon. Later she bore a child with Ares.
I'm seriously running short on time to write this, but basically, Danae was the daughter of Acrisius (king of Argos) who was locked in a bronze room. Her dad locked her there because an oracle said her son would kill Acrisius, and Acrisius wasn't too thrilled with the idea. But no lock stops Zeus, and so Perseus was born. When Acrisius heard, he threw the two into a casket and set them into the sea (so that if they died he couldn't be accused of murder, it would be Poseidon's fault). But they didn't die, and Danae went on to live happily ever after (eventually) and Perseus became a great hero. That picture on the right is of two men putting Danae, grasping her son all the while, into the casket that will soon be set on the sea. It is a John Waterhouse painting in black and white.
Deianira was the wife of Heracles (Greek name for Hercules). When she was almost abducted by a centaur, as he died he gave her a vial of his blood and said that it was a love potion, in reality it was the deadliest of poisons. Deianira unwittingly smeared this on Heracles' cloak, hoping for his affection (which goes to show you shouldn't be insecure) and Heracles died, and there became a God (this whole posthumous Godhood thing). After his death she committed suicide.
Simply the wife of Achilles.
The name "Dido" means The Wanderer, and as a result of this wandering she became the founder and Queen of Carthage. In the Aenad, by Virgil, she is rejected by Aenas, and commits suicide as a result. This is actually Roman Mythology, but thanks to Caitlin Periou, an exception has been made and her story can be found in the Myth Pages.
Dirce was the second wife of Lycus (after he dropped Antiope, see above). She was a bitch and was tied to the horns of a wild bull by Antiope's sons (Amphion and Zethus) and dragged to death. Lycus was also killed.
One of the three Oenotropae, or daughters of Anius, sister of Spermo and Oeno. Elais could turn anything she touched into oil. She and her sisters were captured by the Greek forces on their way to the Trojan War, but Dionysus turned the sisters into doves so they could escape.
Electra was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra (see above) and the sister of Iphigenia, Chrysothemis (see above) and Orestes. When Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon for killing Iphigenia, Electra protected her little brother, Orestes, by sending him away. When he grew up, Electra convinced him to avenge the murder of their father by killing their mother, Clytemnestra. Orestes did, and was haunted by the Erinyes for the rest of his life. The picture on the right is Electra as played by the Greek actress, Lydia Koniordou.
Eleuthera was called, according to P J Criss the "Mother of Greece." But I don't know anything else about her.
Epione was the wife of the famous healer Aesclepius (who was killed for bringing people back to life). She was a healer too, but no one ever remembers that. She was the mother of Hygeia, Goddess of Healing, as well as Acecis, Aegle, Iaso, Janiscus, Machaon, Panacea and Podalirius.
Erigone was the daughter of Icarius, who was one of the first disciples of Dionysus, God of Wine. He threw a party and invited lots of people and then served them wine. The people, thinking they had been poisoned, killed Icarius. Icarius' faithful dog, Maera, led Erigone to Icarius' body. Upon finding him, Erigone was so full of grief she killed herself. Supposedly, she was turned into the constellation Virgo upon dying.
Europa was one of the many beautiful maidens abducted by Zeus. She was out in the field picking flowers with her friends when a white bull showed up. She climbed on its back and it ran away with her. Later she found out it was really Zeus and she bore him three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. When she married the King of Crete, he adopted them and they became Kings on their own eventually.
Eurycleia was the loving nurse of Telemachus and Odysseus in The Odyssey. When Odysseus came in disguise as a beggar, she recognized a scar while she was washing his feet. She was overjoyed to have found her master, since she had stayed loyal to him through the whole ordeal.
Eurydice was the Dryad wife of the musician Orpheus. The couple was very much in love and very happy until this dude named Aristaeus fell in love with her too. She was running away from him and stepped on a viper and died. Orpheus wasn't too happy, so he went to the Underworld, and with his beautiful singing, got Persephone and Hades to let Eurydice come back with him. The only thing he had to do was not look back at her until they were out of the Underworld and into the sunshine again. But he couldn't do it and sneaked a peak. As he did he saw Eurydice slide back to world of shades. He tried again, but found he couldn't get back into the Underworld. This story is decent, but when I saw the Brazilian film, "Orpheo Negro" (Black Orpheus) it seriously tore me up. It was so beautiful. It was haunting. See it with English subtitles. Now.
Evadne was the wife of Capaneus, one of the Seven Against Thebes. When he was killed in the Trojan War Evadne through herself on his funeral pyre and burned with him.
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Last Updated June 24, 2005