Myth, then, is a dramatic shorthand record of such matters as invasions, migrations, dynastic changes, admission of foreign cults, and social reforms. When bread was first introduced into Greece - where only beans, poppy-seeds, acorns and asphodel-roots had hitherto been known the myth of Demeter and Triptolemus sanctified its use; the same event in Wales produced a myth of 'The Old White One', a Sow-goddess who went around the country with gifts of grain, bees, and her own young; for agriculture, pig-breeding and bee-keeping were taught to the aborigines by the same wave of neolithic invaders.
Other myths sanctified the invention of wine. A proper study of myth demands a great store of abstruse geographical, historical and anthropological knowledge; also familiarity with the properties of plants and trees, and the habits of wild birds and beasts. Thus a Central American stone-sculpture, a Toad-god sitting beneath a mushroom, means little to mythologists who have not considered the world-wide association of toads with toxic mushrooms or heard of a Mexican Mushroom-god, patron of an oracular cult: for the toxic agent is a drug, similar to that secreted in the sweat-glands of frightened toads, which provides magnificent hallucinations of a heavenly kingdom.
Myths are fascinating and easily misread. Readers may smile at the picture of Queen Maya and her pre-natal dream of the Buddha descending upon her disguised as a charming white baby elephant he looks as though he would crush her to pulp when 'at once all nature rejoiced, trees burst into bloom, and musical instruments played of their own accord'. In English-speaking countries, 'white elephant' denotes something not only useless and unwanted, but expensive to maintain; and the picture could be misread there as indicating the Queen's grave embarrassment at the prospect of bearing a child.
The elephant, moreover, symbolizes intelligence, and Indian writers traditionally acknowledge the Elephant-god Ganesa as their patron; he is supposed to have dictated the Mahabharata. Again, in English, a scallop-shell is associated either with cookery or with medieval pilgrims returning from a visit to the Holy Sepulchre; but Aphrodite the Greek Love-goddess employed a scallop-shell for her voyages across the sea because its two parts were so tightly hinged together as to provide a symbol of passionate sexual love - the hinge of the scallop being a principal ingredient in ancient love-philtres.
The lotus flower sacred to Buddha and Osiris has five petals, which symbolise the four limbs and the head; the five senses; the five digits: and, like the pyramid, the four points of the compass and the zenith. Other esoteric meanings abound: for myths are seldom simple, and never irresponsible. It is the function of ritual practices or ceremonies to encourage the former influence and prevent or neutralise the latter. As an introduction to the study of the varied forms and the often poetic embellishments which these beliefs assumed among different peoples throughout the ages, it is appropriate to inquire into their origins: when in the life of mankind did such beliefs first appear?
Supernatural beings, the objects of these beliefs, can be divided into two categories which, though in principle distinct, overlap in a number of cases. On the one hand there are the dead, ancestors or manes, who have been known to their contemporaries in the form and condition of normal men. On the other hand there are the divinities, strictly speaking, who never existed as ordinary mortals. Our information about the religious beliefs of peoples known to history can be derived from written documents; about primitive peoples who still exist we have the oral reports of travellers and ethnologists.
But for prehistoric ages both of these sources of information are entirely lacking, and we never find ourselves in the actual presence of prehistoric religious beliefs. The only materials we possess are either physical traces of what appear to be vestiges of ritual practices or else pictorial representations of such practices from which can be inferred - with the aid of ethnological parallels - a belief in the existence of the supernatural beings to whom they were addressed. One cannot, therefore, insist too strongly on the hypothetical character of conclusions based on such material. We shall confine ourselves to the study of those people we call Palaeolithic because of their industry in chipped, not polished, stone, and who lived during the Pleistocene geological epoch.
We shall retrace our way cautiously through the course of time and, ignoring facts which are too ambiguous, try to discover what may reasonably be conjectured about their religious beliefs. Mythology in the strict sense of the word. This at least is an acceptable interpretation of wall-drawings discovered in the cavern of the Trois-Freres in the Ariege department of southern France. There are three of them, and two at least seem to form an intentional group. Objectively the one on the right depicts a personage whose upright posture, legs and rump belong to a man. He has a horse's tail, a bison's head and the front legs of an animal, with one hoof distinctly cloven.
He is perhaps dancing, and is certainly playing some kind of bowed musical instrument. He is preceded by an animal which turns its head towards him. To be sure, the human figure may be a magician in disguise who is charming the animal in front of him; but it would seem difficult to disguise the arms of an actual man with imitation hooved forelegs. Moreover, neither of the two animals who precede him is altogether real.
The one nearest to him, a female whose sex is carefully accentuated, has the hind-quarters of the deer tribe and the forequarters of a bison. The forelegs of the reindeer in front terminate in the hooves of anything but a reindeer. We may thus suppose that this group of figures, of which not one entirely corresponds to reality, was intended to represent a mythological scene a sort of Palaeolithic Orpheus charming equally mythical animals by means of his music and dancing.
The Magicians But this interpretation of the Trois-Frercs group is by no means the only one possible. Actually, the combination in the same animal of characteristics belonging to different species is found again elsewhere, not only in other drawings from the same cave. In the Trois-Freres cavern there are two bears, one with a wolf's head, the other with a bison's tail.
A Solutrean bas-relief at Roc in the Charente shows a swine with a bull's back. Such figures, as we shall see, are connected with the magic of hunting and fertility and represent not mythological but real animals who are partially deformed in order to avert the hostility which might be aroused in them were their exact resemblance drawn.
In addition, personages who combine human and animal characteristics occur elsewhere in Magdalenian art, both in wall-paintings and household possessions. Some of them also seem to be dancing and - according to ethnological parallels - may quite probably represent magicians in disguise. Such are, to cite only the least debatable specimens, another figure carved and painted on a wall of the same Trois-Freres cave a man with a bearded head, bull's ears, stag's antlers and a horse's tail - and the three personages with chamois heads carved on a staff found in the Mege shelter at Teyjat in the Dordogne.
Though all these figures may equally be interpreted as either divinities or magicians, it would seem that the figure cut on one side of a limestone pebble from La Madeleine, in which human features are represented under a covering mask, must be that of a magician. On the other face of the same stone there is a feminine figure whose animal head is not so certainly a mask.
If we assume that she also is a magician we reach the interesting conclusion that at least in the Lower Magdalenian period magic functions were not an exclusively masculine prerogative. Whether any of the figures mentioned above actually represented a hybrid deity or not, it is easy to see how the use of magic disguise contributed to the belief in such deities. The power of the magician was attributed to his disguise. It played the role of establishing a mystic communion, a fusion of essence, between him and the animals on which he proposed to act.
Magic power and the magician's appearance were naturally associated. His aspect, simultaneously animal and human, naturally led to the conception of gods under the same hybrid form. The god possessed similar powers, and the magician, at least in the exercise of his functions, was in some way the god's incarnation.
In any case, whether these figures rcprcsented divinities or magicians, they bear witness to the existence of religious beliefs. There can be no doubt that during the Magdalenian period many caverns, either wholly or at least in their lower depths were sanctuaries. Hunting Magic Food in Palaeolithic times depended primarily on hunting, and the essential role of magic was to assure its success. Mimetic magic with animal disguises must have contributed. But Magdaienian man certainly had recourse to sympathetic or homoeopathic magic, which relies on the theory that an operation performed on an image of a real being will produce the same effect on the being itself.
Many of the drawings and clay figures of the cave of Montespan in the Haute- Garonne seem to have been made in order to be slashed or pierced with holes with the object of wounding real animals. Particularly remarkable is a statue of a bear cub, modelled in the round and placed on a stand, which seems to have been destined for this purpose.
The statue never had a head. There is a cavity in the neck which seems to have been produced by a wooden peg supporting some object - and the skull of a bear cub was found on the ground between the statue's two front paws. This suggests that the headless statue, which is riddled with more than thirty holes, was completed by the head of an actual animal.
There are other indications that it was perhaps covered with an animal's hide which also played a part in the magic ceremony. Also sculptured in the round at Isturitz in the Basses-Pyrenees is a feline creature, perforated in a manner which does not seem to suggest that the holes were made in order to hang up the figure. They must therefore represent wounds; and there are also arrows or harpoons scratched on the figure's thighs and spine.
Another sculpture in the same grotto was even more obviously intended for sympathetic magic. This is a bison in sandstone. On its flank there is a deep vertical incision, at the side of which an arrow is cut. It is even possible that the original fracturing of the head and feet was the result of intentional mutilation which completed the magic ceremony.
From these examples, in which the magic operation consists of actually wounding the animal's image, ancient man passed gradually to merely portraying the wounds or even simply evoking them by- drawing the weapons which were supposed to inflict them. This can he seen, among many other examples, in a wall-drawing of a bear at Trois-Freres. Its body is depicted as having been stoned. It bristles with arrows, and from the muzzle flow copious streams of blood.
In these figures, and in others which seem to represent animals being hunted not with weapons but with snares, it is almost certain that the portrayal of a wished-for event was intended to bring about the event itself. Two drawings on limestone of animals pierced with arrows, a rhinoceros and a stag, found at La Colombicre in the Ain, must antedate the Magdaienian and correspond chronologically to the Solutrean period in a region to which this civilization did not penetrate.
Fertility Magic Since hunting of necessity required the existence of game it is natural that Palaeolithic man, in order that game should be plentiful, also practiced fertility magic. In this case sympathetic magic could not, as with hunting magic, consist of performing in animal images the operations which would produce the desired result on the animals themselves. Fertility could only be caused artificially in effigy. We can therefore consider the representation of certain animal couples, and certain females, as examples of fertility magic. Such animal couples are the clay-modelled bisons of Tuc d'Audoubert, the reindeer sculptured in ivory of Bruniquel and the bull following a cow at Teyjat.
To these may be added a wall-drawing of bison at Altamira. A female fertility figure is the drawing on a flagstone at La Madeleine of a doe accompanied by her fawn. All these specimens are of the Magdaienian period. But the older Solutrean frieze at Roc presents several bas-reliefs of female forms: the sow with cow's back already mentioned and some mares, one of which seems to be accompanied by the rough outline of a male. It is possible, though disputable, that certain figures of wounded men - for example a drawing in the shelter at Saltadora - were intended to bewitch an enemy, and thus correspond to a war magic similar to hunting magic.
We consider it even more doubtful that representations of amorous scenes between human beings or the figurines of women with exaggerated bellies were intended to cause fertility among women. There is the Magdaienian 'Woman with a Reindeer' of Laugerie-Basse and the luxuriant females who are particularly abundant in, though not exclusive to, the Aurignacian period. But their role, we believe, was purely erotic. There is, however, a curious drawing on a blade of bone at Isturitz in which a woman, followed by a man, bears on her thigh a harpoon similar to those which in the picture on the opposite side of the blade have wounded a bison.
This we are tempted to interpret as a love charm. To sum up, there seem to be no indications of hunting magic or fertility magic during Aurignacian times. They only appear with the Solutrean and continue into the Magdaienian period, reaching their apogee in its first phase. Pre-Mousterian Offerings Different religious practices are encountered in pre-Mousterian central Europe, a period which goes back to the last ice age. The most characteristic remains come from Drachenloch, above Vattis in the valley of the Tamina canton of Saint-Gall, Switzerland , which is the highest known Palaeolithic cavern, over 7, feet above sea level.
In two of the chambers there are low stone walls nearly three feet high, which were certainly made by the hand of man. They run along the cave wall, leaving between it and them a space about fifteen inches "wide. This space is filled with the bones of cave bears. These bones are chiefly skulls and are usually accompanied by the two first cervical vertebrae. There are also leg bones belonging, with rare exceptions, to different individual bears.
At the entrance and in the forepart of one of these chambers similar bone-heaps were accumulated in half a dozen rectangular stone chests, covered by large slabs which form lids. In the far end of the same chamber three skulls were gathered together in an empty space between fallen blocks. Another skull had been carefully placed beneath a huge stone which was wedged in a manner to protect it against the pressure of the earth. It was encircled by a sort of stone crown adapted to the shape of the head. All these collections of bears' remains were certainly deliberate Since the skulls were generally attached to the first two vertebra they were not deposited there fleshless, but in a state to be eaten Moreover, the brain, like the legs with their meat and marrowbone represented the most succulent part of the animal.
They were thus all probability offerings to some supernatural power. It is, of course arbitrary to see in this power a Supreme Being like our own God and more likely these choice morsels were offered to conciliate the spirits of the game, to give them thanks for the success of a hunting expedition and to solicit the continuance of their favor in the future. In any case we have here what may be the oldest known example of practices addressed to supernatural powers.
Many of them, moreover, were buried with funerary furnishings such as the jewels and ornaments which have been found on or around them. But even if they had not been presented with these ornaments on burial, at least the survivors had not, in spite of their considerable value, taken them away as they could have done. The fact that they belonged to the dead rendered them in some taboo.
And then other objects found with the bodies could of have been placed there by the survivors, and constitute geniune funerary furnishings, destined for the use of the dead man in after life: utensils, works of art, food. In many cases red ochre clay colored with haematite or iron peroxide was sprinkled over the corpse's grave and has left traces of its colour on the skeleton and surrounding objects. Because of its color certain primitive peoples of today, in particular the Austrialian aborigines, liken red ochre to blood even we call it haematite and for this reason consider it a symbol of life and strength.
It is reasonable to suppose that the ochre spread over the tombs and bodies of Palaeolithic man was intended, like the deposits of food to strengthen the dead one during his journey to the after-world and his sojourn in his new abode. Among numerous examples of these various funeral practices we shall call attention only to those that are particularly character-istic, and establish at which periods such practices were in force.
The Magdalenian skeleton of Hoteaux in the Ain, covered with red ochre, was found in a small trench. Behind the head a large stone had been placed. Beside it were chipped flint instruments and a chieftain's staff in reindeer horn on which was engraved a stag. The skeleton of Sordes in the Landes had several slabs placed on its skull and had been covered with red ochre. Beside it was found about forty bears' and three lions' canine teeth, almost all carefuly pierced. Some twenty of them were carved with seals, fish and arrows. In view of their position they must have constitutited a necklace and a belt.
The perforated shellfish which formed the adornment of 'the crushed man' of Laugerie-Basse belonged to two species which are native to the Mediterranean. Having come from such a distance they must have been especially valuable. Under the right hand of the skeleton of Solutre there were numerous flints chipped in the shape of laurel leaves and also a pierced scallop shell. Found with it were two crude statuettes of reindeer in stone. The skeleton of Klause in Bavaria was enclosed between boulders fallen from the ceiling. They had been arranged to make a place or the body.
It was completely surrounded by a mass of red powder. Above and benoath the head was a great heap of fragments of mammoths' tusks. For the Aurignacian period a number of consonant facts have been established in the caverns of Grimaldi, near Menton. In the grotto 'des Enfanis' the two negroid skeletons lie in a trench about thirty inches deep. The head of the old woman was found in a tightly closed chest formed by two lateral blocks of stone, covered over by a horizontal slab.
The young man was wearing a sort of crown made of four rows of pierced nassas. The same shellfish provided the two bracelets on the old woman's left arm. This tomb contained red powder in the rubble, around the head and on parts of the young man's skeleton. The two children, to whom the cave owes its name, were wearing a kind of apron made of thousands of perforated nassas. In the same cave a female skeleton was covered over with animal bones, the jawbones of a wild boar and some chips of flint. Under its head there was a white stone bearing traces of red coloring.
It was literally lying in a bed of trochus shells. Not being pierced, these shells could not have been for adornment, but had been put near the body for food. At La Barma Grande the three bodies stretched side by side were placed in an obviously man-made trench and had a bed of red earth. They wore adornments composed of shells, teeth, fish vertebrae and artificial pendants in bone and ivory. These skeletons were accompanied by very beautiful flint instruments, and the woman's head reposed on the femur of an ox.
The corpse of Paviland in Wales was powdered with iron oxide which stained the earth and burial objects, and in some places formed a coating on the bones. Although probably male, it has for this reason been christened 'The Red Lady'. Beside it was found the entire head of a mammoth complete with tusks. Near the thighs were found two handfuls of small shells drenched in red, and near the chest some fifty fragments of round ivory rings. At Predmosti in Moravia twenty human skeletons were gathered under a veritable lid of stones.
A child's skeleton wore a necklace of fourteen pendants. Beside the skeleton of Brno there were more than six hundred fragments of fossilised shells, strung together to form conical tubes. Some were still inserted in each other and together they must have made a kind of breastplate for the body. Near it were also found large perforated stone disks, small disks decorated with incisions, three solid disks made of mammoth's or rhinoceros's ribs, some rhinoceros ribs, and finally an ivory statuette of a human being.
The skeleton and some of the objects in the tomb were partially stained red. The skeleton of La Chapelle-aux-Saints belongs to the Mousterian period. It lay in a trench a little less than five feet long, about three feet wide and a foot deep. The head lay against a corner of the trench, propped by stones and covered over with broad slabs of bone. At La Ferrassie the two children at least were laid in artificial trenches. The man's skeleton was covered by rubble and protected by chips of bone. The skeleton of Moustier had its skull placed on a sort of pillow formed by a heap of flint fragments carefully adapted to the shape of the head.
The nose seems to have been especially protected by two chips of flint. The bodies of both La Chapelle-aux-Saints and Moustier were provided with funerary furnishings, instruments and joints of game. The use of red ochre has not been observed in the Mousterian period, but burial rites are as apparent then as in later Magdalenian times. What, then, was their intention? Since they were performed for people whose earthly life was finished they imply a belief that the dead continue after death to lead some kind of existence.
This posthumous life appears to have been conceived as similar to life on earth, with the same needs and the same means of satisfying them. This explains the ornaments left with the dead, the implements, the food quarters of venison and piles of shellfish and the red ochre. In thus providing for the posthumous needs of the dead, the survivors seem, however, to have acted less from disinterested affection than from self-interest.
Their care seems to have been to encourage the deceased's favourable disposition towards themselves, to soften his possible hostility or to put him physically in a position where he could do no harm. Generally speaking, primitive people believe that death, like sickness, is the result of a magic operation. Deaths to which we assign natural causes are attributed by them to an evil spell, the author of which, whether unconscious or malevolent, they attempt to discover by various means.
This being so, it can be understood that the dead were thought to harbour vengeance against their presumed murderers and, in consequence of the idea of collective responsibility, against all those who survived them. At the very least they would entertain sentiments of envy towards those who still enjoyed the earthly life of which they themselves had been deprived. It seems, then, that the basic attitude towards the dead was one of fear, and that burial rites were originally measures of protection against the deceased. This Palaeolithic trenches and tombs may have been intended less the shelter the dead than to imprison them.
This would account for the statuette's being made with neither leg nor right arm. Particularly remarkable is the trussed-up position in which made of these bodies were found. A typical example from the Magdalenian period is the old man of Chancelade in the Dordogne, covered with red ochre, with arms and legs folded and the vertical column bent to such a degree that the skeleton only occupies a space little more than two feet long and sixteen inches wide. In the grotto 'des Enfants', which is Aurignacian, the negroid young man's legs were completely drawn up to his thighs.
The old woman's thighs were raised as far as possible so that her knees reached the level of her shoulders. The legs were sharply folded under the thighs and the feet nearly touched the pelvis. The forearms were bent upwards so that the left hand was just beneath the shoulder-blade. In the Mousterian period the woman of La Ferrassie had her legs doubled up; the bent right forearm rested along the thigh, the hand on a knee. This arm and the legs formed a letter 'N', the knee reaching a distance of only six inches from the shoulder.
The legs of the skeleton of La Chapelle-aux-Saints were folded and raised so that the kneecaps were more or less on a level with the chest. This contracted condition which has been observed in so many skeletons from the Mousterian until the Magdalenian period could of course, only have been imposed on the body by those who buried it. In addition, it means that the body must have been tied up at the moment of death: for rigor mortis would later have prevented its being forced into such a position. It seems, then, that among Palaeolithic as among other primitive peoples who share similar burial customs, the doubled-up posture of the body was only a result of the trussing-up and binding - this beirig the essential operation, intended to prevent the dead from coming back to torment the living.
This also explains the diversity of positions in which Palaeolithic bodies are found: provided that they were securely bound and could not leave their graves, the actual position of the body was of secondary importance and could be left to individual initiative. Although fear of the dead seems to have been the dominant sentiment it does not follow that in some cases at least there was not also a belief that the dead could be helpful and beneficent especially when funeral rites devised to assure their maximum well-being in the after-life had been performed. This seems to account for certain practices which differed from burial in the strict sense in that they tended not to set the dead apart from the living but on the contrary, to preserve their remains and keep them, as it were to hand.
Such, notably, was the practice of stripping the flesh from the body before burial. This was done by various means, especially by natural putrefaction in a provisional grave. The object was to conserve the skeleton or its bones, which were sometimes worn by the survivors as amulets. The practice seems to have existed from Palaeolithic times.
An entire skull of a woman complete with lower jawbone, was placed on a rock and surrounded by a hundred and seventy shells of different sorts, some pierced, some not. Skulls in the same cave, belonging to Lower Magdalenian and Upper Solutrean periods, show clear traces of deliberate flesh-stripping and have undoubtedly been cut and altered. In the Au-rignacian cave of Le Cavillon at Grimaldi three such bones were found: the broken radius of a child and two bones from a man's foot, coloured a vivid red.
Scattered nearby was a set of pierced and unpierced shells. A tomb at Predmosti contained only a few bone-remains which had been scraped; the head was missing but must once have been there, for two teeth still remained. A Mous-terian skeleton, found in a trench at La Ferrassie, had its skull deprived of face and jawbone, placed nearly four feet away from the body.
At Le Pech de I'Aze the skull of a five or six years old child was surrounded by deliberately broken animal bones, by teeth and by a quantity of implements. Finally, we must take into account many finds of isolated human bones from all periods, generally skulls or jawbones. They have yielded - together with abundant vestiges of fire, and work in bone and stone - the remains of a dozen human beings, halfway between Pithecanthropus man of Java and Neanderthal man of Mousterian Europe.
The Axe of Oderider: Book II of the Severed Prophecy by James O. Cannon
For the moment these remains are confined to skull and lower jaw, without traces of cervical vertebrae, while the animals on which these men fed are represented by bones from all parts of the body. There can thus be no question of cannibalism or of the heads being cut from corpses immediately after death. To all appearances these skulls must have been preserved after the bodies had been stripped of flesh.
Hence from the remotest times when, on the evidence of the skull which is all we have of his body, man was still closely related to the ape, it would seem that there are proofs of his industry and that, at least in the form of a cult of the dead, he revealed traces of religion. Henri Martin Effigies of female animals connected with fertility magic frontpiece back. Men diguised as chamois. Hunting magic Page 2. Fashioned from Nile mud, these female figures were probably fertility Goddesses or served as simple representations in magic rites.
Prehistoric period Page 2. Begouen and H. Breuil Mythic scene or representation of some form of hunting magic Page 3. Cave in the Matopo Hills, Rhodesia Page 4. Breuil Bear stoned and pierced with arrows, vomitting blood Sympathic magic Page 4. The figure below with raised knees is possibly a wife mourning him, but she could possibly be ready for burial with him-- in effect to follow him into the next world. The curved lines in the lower part may represent a river, a frequent symbol among primative people for the barrier to be crossed before reaching the next world.
Numerous other figures are shown and offerings of food. The God is portrayed seated in a throne wearing his headdress of a crown surmounted by two tall plumes and holding a sceptre and the ankh or symbol of life. Neolithic period Page 7. The signs near the drawing are believed to be an early form of pictograph Sha'ib Samma in the Yemen Page 7. In the world of primitive magic success in either was sought by the formal representations such as these. From a cave painting at Teruel Page 9. Page 9. Garonne according to R. She bears a throne upon Her head, the ideogram of Her Name.
Below is the djed symbol of stability , which also represents Her husband, Osirsis Stone relief. First dynasty, c Cairo. Introduction No one who strolls through the Egyptian galleries of a museum can fail to be struck by the multitude of divinities, who attract attention on all sides. Colossal statutes in sandstone, grantite, and basalt, minute statues in glazed composition, bronze even gold, portray gods and goddess frozen in hierarchical attitudes, seated or standing. Sometimes these male or female figures have heads with human features.
The same divinities are receiving adoration and offerings, or performing ritual gestures for the benefit of their worshippers, can be seen again on the bas-reliefs of massive sarcophagi or sculptured on funerary stelaw and stone blocks stripped from temple walls. They recur on mummy cases and in the pictures, which illumated the papyri of the Book of the Dead. In view of such amultipicity of divine images it may seem strange to suggest that the religion of Ancient Egypt is very imperfectly known to us. Such however is the case; though we know the names of all these Gods and Goddesses and the temples which They were worshipped, we understand little of their nature and seldom know even the legends concerning them.
It is true that the innumerable religious texts which have survived often allude to mythological occurences. The full stories themselves, however, are almost never set down; for they were known to every Egyptian and handed down from generation-to-generation by word of mouth alone. Only the myths of Osiris--one of the greatest Gods in the Egyptian pantheonhas been transmitted in detail to us by Plutarch.
Plutarch, though Greek and writing of times already long past, was evidently well-informed; for in the ancient texts we find frequent references ti the events he relates, notably in those texts, which, the old kings of the sixth dynasty had engraved inside their pyramids centuries before him.
It seems that the earliest representations of Eyptian deities appeared about the middle of the fourth millennium, long before the earliest hieroglyphs. In those days, the inhabitants of the Nile valley lived in tribes. Each tribe had its own God, which was incarnated in the form either of an animal, of a bird or of a simple fetish. There is a fragment of a palette for grinding malachite in the Louvre on which we see men of one of those early tribes setting forth to hunt.
They are bearded, unlike the clean-shaven men of later historical epochs, and they wear only a belted loincloth. At the back of the belt is attached the bushy tail of an animal. At their head marches their chief. In one hand he brandishes a club. In the other he grasps the staff of a standard or totem pole, which bears a kind of perch for a falcon.
On other objects of the same class the hawk is replaced by an ibis, a jackal, a scorpion, or perhaps by a thunderbolt, a bucranium, or two crossed arrows on a shield. These are the Gods of the tribe who led their followers into battle and, when necessary, fought for them. Often, indeed, one of the divine animal's paws is a human hand which grasps a weapon to slaughter the enemy or an implement to attack his fortress. These animal deities, however, gradually gave way to Gods in human form, and at the end of his anthropomorphic evolution nothing of the primitive animal is left except the head surmounting the body of a man or woman.
Sometimes the head, too, has become human and all that remains are vestigial ears or horns. From the second dynasty on, the divine types seem to have become definitely fixed and to remain unchanged until the end of paganism. Like the hunters of the ancient tribes seen on the palette in the Louvre, the Gods of the historical epoch are shown "dressed in short loin-cloths ornamented by animals' tails.
The Goddesses, like great ladies, wear a narrow robe, held at the shoulders by shoulder straps and falling nearly to their ankles. Gods and Goddesses alike often retain the head of the animal from which they were derived. They wear heavy wigs, thanks to which the transition between the snout of an animal or the beak of a bird and their human bodies takes place so smoothly that our aesthetic sense is scarcely violated and these hybrid beings seem almost real.
At other times the head is human, and in this case the shaven chin of the God is adorned by an artificial plaited beard, which recalls the bearded faces of the first Egyptians. Sometimes too their names are written in hieroglyphic signs. Like the ancient tribal chieftains, the Gods carry sceptres with one end forked and the other decorated by, say, the head of a greyhound.
Goddesses bear in their hand a simple stalk of papyrus. By the time that the animals and fetishes of the prehistoric epoch had become divinities in human form the nomad warriors whom they once led into battle had long since settled down to till the soil. Their Gods were installed in the towns they built, and were thus transformed from tribal into local deities. Every town, village and district had its God who bore the title: 'Lord of the City.
Conceived in the image of a man, but of a man infinitely strong and powerful, he possessed a vital fluid - the 'sa' - which he could renew at will by having another God, better provided, lay hands on him. But he could not defend himself for ever against old age, and sometimes he even died. He delighted in revealing himself to men, and he would become incarnate in the temple statue, in a fetish, or in a chosen animal which the initiated could recognise by certain signs.
At first the God lived alone, jealous of his authority. But the Egyptian could not conceive of life without a family and soon he married off his God or Goddess and gave him or her a son, thus forming a divine triad or trinity in which the father, moreover, was not always the chief, contenting himself on occasion with the role of prince consort, while the principal deity of the locality remained the Goddess.
This occurred at Dendera, where the sovereign was the Goddess Hathor. The God resided in the temple, which was his palace, with his family and sometimes with other Gods whom he permitted to surround him. Only Pharaoh, the king, whom he called his 'son' had the right to appear in his presence. But as the king naturally could not officiate everywhere at once he delegated high priests to each sanctuary to perform in his place the ceremonies of the cult, while numerous priests and priestesses composed the domestic staff of the God and administered his sometimes immense domains.
On certain dates the 'Lord of the City' brought joy to his people by deigning to show himself to them in all his glory. Abandoning the deep shadows of the naos the inner sanctuary of the temple where only Pharaoh's representative had the privilege of worshipping him daily, he would emerge majestically and be borne through the streets in his golden barque on the shoulders of his priests.
In addition to such local Gods, some of whom imposed their authority over several provinces at a time and even throughout the entire land, the Egyptians worshipped, though generally without cult, the great divinities of nature: the Sky, the Earth, the Sun the Moon and the mighty river which, in the words of Herodotus, created Egypt - the Nile. In the Egyptian language the word 'sky' is feminine. Thus the Egyptians made the sky a Goddess, Nut or Hathor, whom they represented either as a cow standing with her four feet planted on earth, or as a woman whose long, curved body touches the earth only with the tips of her toes and fingers.
It was the starry belly of the Goddess which men saw shining in the night above them Sometimes also they imagined the sky as the head of a divine falcon whose eyes, which he opened and closed alternately, were the sun and the moon. The earth, on the contrary, is masculine. Thus it was a man lying prone, from whose back sprouted all the world's vegetation.
They called him Geb, the earth-God. The sun had many names and gave rise to extremely vast interpretations. In his aspect of solar disk the sun was called Aten. Depending upon whether he rose, or climbed to the zenith, on he was given the names Khepri, Ra or Atum. He was also call Horus and it was under this name, joined with that of Ra, that later reigned over all Egypt as Ra-Harakhte. It was claimed that he was reborn every morning of the celestial cow like a suckling calf, or like a little child of the sky- Goddess.
Another conception of him was that of an egg laid daily by the celestial goose, or more frequently a gigantic scarab rolling before him the incandescent globe of the sun as, on earth, the sacred scarab rolls the ball of dung in which it has deposited its eggs. The moon, too, was called by different names: Aah, Thoth, Khons. Sometimes he was the son of Nut, the sky-Goddess. Sometimes he was a dog-headed ape, or an ibis; at others, the left eye of the great celestial hawk whose right eye was the sun. Not content with explaining the phenomena of the external world, the priests of the principal sanctuaries busied themselves in constructing cosmological systems to demonstrate how the Gods had successively appeared and how all that exists had been created.
We have a fair knowledge of four of these systems which were taught in the four great religious centres of Hermopolis, Heliopolis, Memphis and Busiris. In each of these sanctuaries the priests attributed the work of creation to the great local God. In his own temple Thoth, Ra, Ptah and Osiris was each proclaimed to have created the world, but each in his own way.
Sometimes it was taught that the Gods had issued from the mouth of Demiurge and that all had been created by his voice. Sometimes it was alleged that they were bora when the creator spat or performed an even cruder act. Again it was said that men had been engendered by his sweat or by a flood of tears gushing from his eyes. Another explanation was that men, together with the entire animal world, had emerged from the sun-dried mud of the Nile. It was also taught that the Demiurge had modelled them from the earth and fashioned them on a potter's wheel. Like all people in antiquity the Egyptians explained everything by the intervention of a God, and for them there was nothing which was not capable of containing supernatural power.
Consequently the number of Gods worshipped in the Nile valley was considerable, and a list found in the tomb of Thuthmosis III enumerates no fewer than seven hundred and forty. Of most of them we know only the names and it would serve no useful purpose to mention them here. We shall limit ourselves in this study to those deities who enjoyed a genuine cult or who occupied a real place in Egyptian mythology, beginning with the study of the Gods and Goddesses associated with the Ennead or company of Gods of Heliopolis that is to say, with the cosmological system taught by the priests of Heliopolis.
We shall then review the great protective divinities of the Pharaohs and the kingdom, enumerating them in chronological order when in the course of the royal dynasties they appeared particularly important. Afterwards we shall come to river Gods and desert Gods included in the above categories; then to the various divinities who concerned themselves with men's birth or death; and finally who deified humans among whom will be found the living Pharoah who was himself a veritable God. We shall conclude with a study of the sacred animals which towards the end of paganism, were without doubt the most popular divinities in Egypt.
We append a list of quadrupeds, birds and even insects from whom the Gods and Goddesses borrowed either the features or the attributes. Nun or Nu is Chaos, The primordial ocean in which before the creation lay the germs of all things and all beings. He is sometimes found represented as a personage plunged up to his waist in water, holding up his arms to support the Gods who have issued from him. From very early times his priests identified him with Ra, the great sun God. They taught that inside Nun, before the creation, there had lived a 'spirit, still formless, who bore within him the sum of all existence.
Later, Atum was personified as the setting sun and the sun before its rising. His cult spread rather widely through Egypt, conjointly with that of Ra. Atum was ordinarily considered to be the ancestor of the human race. He is always represented with a man's head, wearing the double crown of the Pharaohs - the 'pschent. Only later was he given a spouse, indeed two - since at Memphis he was united sometimes with Iusaas and sometimes with Nebhet Hotep, who bore him the twin Gods Shu and Tefnut. He had his principal sanctuary at Heliopolis.
The priests of this city affirmed that it was here Ra first manifested himself in the stone object in the form of an obelisk called benben, piously preserved in the temple named for this reason Het Benben - the 'palace of the obelisk. There, in order that his lustre should run no risk of being extinguished, he took care to keep his eyes shut. He enclosed himself in the bud of a lotus until the day when, weary of his own impersonality, he rose by an effort of will from the abyss and appeared in glittering splendour under the name of Ra.
These are the eight great Gods who with their chief Ra - or more exactly Ra Atum, since Ra and Atum were identified with each other - form the divine company or Ennead of Heliopolis. Ra drew from himself and without recourse to woman the first divine couple. It is not until much later that he was given as his spouse Rat - which is only his own name feminised - or Iusaas, Eus- os, Uert-Hekeu, 'the great of magic. At the same time Ra had created a 'first' universe, different from the present world, which he governed from the 'Prince's Palace' in Heliopolis where he normally resided.
The Books of the Pyramids minutely describe for us his royal existence and how, after his morning bath and breakfast, he would get into his boat and, in the company of his scribe, Weneg, inspect the twelve provinces of his kingdom, spending an hour in each. As long as Ra remained young and vigorous he reigned peacefully over Gods and men; but the years brought with them their ravages and the texts depict him as an old man with trembling mouth from which saliva ceaselessly dribbles.
We shall see later how Isis took advantage of the God's senility, made him reveal his secret name and thus acquired sovereign power. Even men perceived Ra's decrepitude and plotted against him. These projects finally reached Ra's ears. Justly enraged, he summoned his council and, having consulted the Gods one by one on the measures which should be taken, he decided to hurl his divine Eye against his rebellious subjects.
The ingratitude of men had, however, inspired in him a distaste for the world and a desire to withdraw himself beyond reach. So on the orders of Nun, the Goddess Nut changed herself into a cow and took Ra on her back. She raised him high into the vault of heaven and at the same time, as we shall later relate, the present world was created. From the moment that the sun God left earth for heaven his life was immutably regulated. During the twelve daylight hours he rode in his boat from east to west across his kingdom. He took great care to avoid the attack of his eternal enemy Apep, the great serpent who lived in the depths of the celestial Nile and sometimes - for instance during total eclipses - succeeded in swallowing the solar barque.
But Apep was always at last vanquished by Ra's defenders and cast back into the abyss. During the twelve hours of darkness the perils which Ra faced were even greater. But again they were overcome and at night he passed from cavern to cavern, receiving the acclamations of the inhabitants of the underworld who waited with impatience for the light he bore and after'his departure fell back into the agony of darkness. Ra, it was also taught, was born each morning in the guise of a child who grew until midday and afterwards fell into decline, to die that night an old man.
We see him represented in many fashions: as a royal child resting on the lotus from which he sprang at his birth; as a man, -seated or walking, whose head is surmounted by the solar disk around which is wreathed the Uraeus, the terrible sacred asp who spits flame and destroys the God's enemies; as a man with a ram's head, Efu Ra, in whom the dead sun is embodied during his nocturnal transit.
Often also we find a personage with the head of a falcon, surmounted by a disk with the Uraeus. The forms and names of Ra are innumerable and the Litanies of the Sun, engraved at the entrance of the royal tombs, list no fewer than seventy-five. Universally recognised as the creator and ruler of the world, Ra, with whom all the other Gods were finally identified, became from the time of the Old Kingdom the divinity particularly revered by the Pharaohs, who called themselves 'sons of Ra. Each time that a Pharaoh was conceived Ra was said to return to earth to espouse the queen. Of the celebrated sanctuary of Heliopolis, where the God was worshipped in the form of a gigantic obelisk - a petrified sun's ray - and where he used to take the form of the bull Merwer, or, at times, the bird Bennu, there remain to-day only shapeless ruins and an obelisk, the oldest in Egypt, erected during the twelfth dynasty by the king, Senusert I.
Khepri or Khepera Signifies at the same time 'scarab' and 'he who becomes. Khepri was the God of the transformations which life, for ever renewing itself, manifests. He is represented as a scarab-faced man or as a man whose head is surmounted by this insect. Sometimes he appears simply as a scarab. Shu Who with Tefnut his twin sister comprised the first couple of the Ennead, was created by Ra without recourse to woman. His name derives from a verb which means 'to raise' and can be translated as 'he who holds up.
It was told of him how, on the orders of Ra, he slipped between the two children, Geb the Earth God, and Nut, Goddess of the sky, who had until then been closely united. He threw them violently apart and elevated Nut high into the air, where he maintained her with his upraised arms. Shu is also the God of air: emptiness deified.
But like the other great divinities of nature he enjoyed no especial cult. He is always represented in human form. On his head he normally wears, as a distinctive sign, an ostrich feather which is an ideogram of his name. Shu succeeded Ra as king on earth. But like his father he experienced the vicissitudes of power; for the children of Apep plotted against him and attacked him in his palace of At Nub. He vanquished them, but disease riddled him so that even his faithful followers revolted. Weary of reigning, Shu abdicated in favour of his son Geb and took refuge in the skies after a terrifying tempest which lasted nine days.
Tefnut Seems to have been a theological conception rather than a real person.
At Heliopolis she was said to be Shu's twin sister and wife, but she appears to have been paired in earlier times with a certain God Tefen of whom we know nothing but the name. Goddess of the dew and the rain, it seems, she also had a solar character. She was worshipped in the form of a lioness or of a woman with the head of a lioness, and the Greeks sometimes identified her with Artemis.
She is depicted in the texts as a pale copy of Shu, whom she helps to support the sky and with whom each morning she receives the new-born sun as it breaks free from the eastern mountains. Anhur The Greek rendering is Onouris seems to signify 'he who leads what has gone away' but has also been translated as 'sky- bearer.
His sons offered Zeus, disguised as a traveller, a banquet containing human remains. They were also changed into wolves and Zeus then precipitated a great flood to cleanse the world. In ancient times his tragedies were highly esteemed. Lycurgus was driven mad and killed his own son Dryas with an axe thinking he was a vine, and hewed at his own foot thinking it one.
He pruned the corpse, and the Edonians, horrified, instructed by Bacchus, tore Lycurgus to pieces with wild horses on Mount Pangaeum. There are many variants of this myth. Pupil of Plato and Isocrates, Lycurgus became a successful financier, statesman and orator in Athens. He increased the wealth of Athens after readministrating its finances, and had several buildings built or refurbished. Dionysus brought terror and joy. Homer , so called from Maeonia a name for Lydia in Asia Minor where he was born according to one legend, or because his father was Maion.
He defeated the Cimbri and Teutones at Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae in BC, and held a record seven consulships, the last being in An old name for him is Mavors or Mamers. In his military aspect he became known as Gradivus. It was dedicated in 2BC. The goddess was depicted fully clothed, perhaps in armour. Domitius Marsus, an Augustan poet, known for his epigrams. He taught the famous flute-player, Olympus. Marcus Aurelius Cotta Maximus. This story led to a suggestion that Fabius committed suicide, and links him to the factions around Julia. The evidence however is flimsy. Ovid refers to the battle of 18th.
July BC near the River Cremera, against the Veientes, when more than three hundred of the Fabii clan were said to have fought and only one survived. Livy II He was consul in 11BC. She is called Aeetias. A famous sorceress. She determined to help Jason to win the Golden Fleece and made him swear on the altar of Triple Hecate to marry her.
Jason carried out his tasks using the magic herbs, including magic juice juniper? When he subsequently abandoned her, she killed Glauce her rival, and then sacrificed her own sons, before fleeing to Athens where she married King Aegeus. Medea vanished in a mist conjured by her magic spells. The sight of her face turned the onlooker to stone. She was killed by Perseus, who used his shield as a mirror. Gaius or Cilnius Melissus, a freedman of Maecenas, grammarian, poet and librarian. He compiled jokebooks in old age.
Gaius Memmius, governor of Bithynia in 57BC, praetor He was an orator and himself a poet. Convicted of bribery he went into exile at Mytilene in He was King of Ethiopia, and traditionally was of a black pigmentation. The Athenian playwright ccBC.
The Scimitars of Icarus
The most celebrated dramatist of the New Comedy he wrote on romantic and domestic themes. He is therefore called Atlantiades. His birthplace was Mount Cyllene, and he is therefore called Cyllenius. He has winged feet, and a winged cap, carries a scimitar, and has a magic wand, the caduceus, with twin snakes twined around it, that brings sleep and healing. The caduceus is the symbol of medicine. King of Ethiopia, husband of Clymene. I am reminded of the attitude to John Donne after his less crippling disgrace: the disgraced individual is an embarrassment, an object of suspicion, and a source of irritating pleas for remembrance and assistance.
Sulpicia was his niece. He switched sides adroitly during the Civil Wars fighting for Octavian at Actium in Ovid stresses the relationship. Probably one of the Caecillii Metellii family. He later transferred his allegiance to Tigranes of Armenia. Or Mettius Fufetius, an Alban commander who was torn apart by horses for treachery in the war with Fidenae, on the orders of Tullus Hostilius. It was the home of leading philosophers including Thales, and Anximander. It declined after the Ionian Revolt in , and was crippled by the silting up of its harbour.
The Minyae, a people named from their king Minyas who ruled Orchomenus in Boeotia. It was subdued fully under Tiberius, but remained a border province. The elder Seneca considered him an excellent poet. Identified with fire. They are the patronesses of the arts. Mount Helicon is hence called Virgineus. Their epithets are Aonides, and Thespiades. IX again has a slight hint of a real Muse and witness, behind the poetry. The sculptor of Eleutherae, one of the greatest of the Greek artists c. His sculpted cattle were famous. Pelops subsequently threw Myrtilus into the sea. He was set among the stars as the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, and gave his name to the Myrtoan Sea that stretches from Euboea past Helene to the Aegean.
The birthday god. The Goddess of retribution. She punishes mortal pride and arrogance hubris on behalf of the gods. Her shrine was at Rhamnous in Attica. The trident is his emblem. Identified with the Greek Poseidon. Identified with Augustus. See Metamorphoses IX He entertained Telemachus at his palace in Pylos, in the Odyssey. The river Nile and its god.
The river was noted for its seasonal flooding in ancient times. Still unrepentant, her daughters were also killed, and she was turned to stone and set on top of a mountain in her native country of Lydia where she weeps eternally. Pausanias also lived nearby at one time, and saw the rock. See Metamorphoses Book VI The son of Hyrtacus. He had a purple lock of hair on his head, on which his life, and the safety of his kingdom, depended. His daughter was Scylla. Scylla cut off the sacred lock and betrayed the city.
He searched for knowledge. His wife was Egeria, the nymph. See Metamorphoses II A city in Euboea. Hercules killed his eldest son Iphitus, and fell in love with Iole. He caused her suitors to race against him in their chariots, killing the losers. The period of five years covering successive Games at Olympia, celebrated every fifth year inclusive from BC, and therefore a useful measure of time. The Nemean games were founded in his memory. His lyre, given to him by Apollo, and invented by Hermes-Mercury, is the constellation Lyra containing the star Vega. After she was stung by a snake and died he travelled to Hades, to ask for her life to be renewed.
Granted it, on condition he does not look back at her till she reaches the upper world, he faltered, and she was lost. He mourned her, and turned from the love of women to that of young men. This head had powers of prophetic utterance His ghost sank to the Fields of the Blessed where he was reunited with Eurydice. His case is poor, and unlikely to be arguable in a court of law. He accepts guilt but denies criminal intent facinus. He was stupid stultus not wicked sceleratus.
He characterises himself as unwise and cowardly non sapiens, timidus and this suggests foolishness in having become involved in something, and cowardice in not reporting it. The ultra-civilised poet to be sent to the edge of civilisation to see how the Empire was maintained and expanded. He does not suggest that he was punished for failing to tell the authorities about it, but for the mere act of being a witness to it. The specific charge of promoting adultery through the poem Ars Amatoria suggests that adulterous behaviour may also have been involved in the error. This author favours the view that Ovid inadvertently witnessed an unacceptable marriage or a related ceremony, involving the younger Julia and a lover, perhaps Decimus Iunius Silanus, with whom she had been accused of committing adultery while her husband Lucius Aemilius Paullus was alive.
Julia was part of the anti-Tiberius faction. It would be like Ovid to provide a subtle reference via Medea, the Black Sea witch of tragedy, to a clandestine marriage he had witnessed, a fateful and fatal one for those involved. That is consistent with his claim to have seen something whose significance in a political sense? This comment suggests that his presence at a marriage? Cotta initially and instinctively sided with Augustus, but still gave Ovid some support. The implication is that the offence was a combination of the morally dubious and the politically disloyal, rather than an explicit criminal action against Augustus.
Tristia II therefore dates to this year. He was 52 years old in the spring of AD10, see previous note. March 20th, having been born in 43BC. Tristia IV dates to AD The second winter of exile in Tomis is completed. Ignoring the winter of AD9 when he was still travelling, and given the preceding poem that covers two full summers also.
This suggests the poems of Ex Ponto may not be in strict chronological order. Presumably we are in the late summer of. The letter seems intended to reach him by May AD16 when he took office, and therefore allowing for potential delays may have been written early that year. His daughter was his only child, his daughter by his second wife. She was married to a senator Cornelius Fidus and went to Africa with him, a senatorial province. An unworthy member could be deprived of his horse.
That also undermines his exaltation of the Caesars as gods towards the end of Book XV. Ovid mentions his elder brother born on the same day a year earlier who died at age twenty. He mentions the poets in his circle of friends, his poems to Corinna, his susceptible heart but blameless life, his three marriages, his daughter by his second marriage, see above, and the deaths of his parents. It survived as he knew in other copies though. If so written it might not have helped his case! He had apparently started, and then abandoned it. Six books only, in six rolls, seems clear enough. And the work was broken off, as he states.
Ovid uses myths that refer to the Black Sea region in both cases. He mentions the baned Ars Amatoria, the Metamorphoses, and the Tristia itself, plus his considering writing in Getic and corrupting his Latin. Ovid has learned to speak Sarmatian and his Latin is growing rusty. He stresses the savagery of the people whose Greek admixture is drowned by the Getic semi-nomadic and warlike culture. They wear Persian trousers, dress in sheepskins, are unable to understand Latin, and are malicious in their speech about Ovid himself.
Not a picture likely to arouse their enthusiasm for him if the contents got back to them, as we shall see later! About News Contact Shop Now. About News Contact. Dalmatia A Roman province bordering the eastern shore of the Adriatic.
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Danaus, Danaan A term originally applied to the people of Argos but later a general term meaning Greek. Deianira The daughter of Oeneus, king of Calydon, hence called Calydonis, and the sister of Meleager. Ovid implies no alms collecting was allowed the priestesses and prophets of the goddess. Elis The region of the north-west Peloponnese famous for its horses.
Elysium Elysium or the Elysian Fields, identified with the Islands of the Blest, a paradise ruled by Rhadamanthys, apparently distinct from Hades. Emathius A poetic term for Macedonian, originally applied to the Emathian Plain. Eous Book TIV. Epidaurus A city in Argolis, sacred to Aesculapius. Erebus The Underworld also a god of darkness. Erymanthis Arcadian from Mount Erymanthus in Arcadia. Eubius An unknown writer. Euboea One of the largest of the Aegean islands close to the south-east of Greece and stretching from the Maliac Gulf and the Gulf of Pagasae in the north to the island of Andros in the south.
Eurus The East Wind. X Book TV. Fauns Woodland spirits. Fontanus An Augustan bucolic poet. Fortuna The Roman goddess of Fortune, Chance and Luck, identified with the Greek Tyche, and associated from early times with childbirth, fertility and women generally. Ganges The sacred river of northern India. Germanicus translated the Phaenomena of Aratus, a guide to the constellations. V Book TV. I Book EI. Hadria Book TI. Heliades The seven daughters of the Sun god and Clymene. Heniochi Book EIV.
The killing of the Nemean lion. The capture of the stag with golden antlers. The capture of the Erymanthian Boar. The killing of the birds of the Stymphalian Lake in Arcadia. The capture of the Cretan wild bull. The killing of Geryon and the capture of his oxen. The bringing of the dog Cerberus from Hades to the upper world. Hesiod Book EIV. Hesperia Book TIV.
Hister Book EI. Homer The Greek epic poet, fl. Hylas The son of Theiodamas, King of the Dryopians. Hypanis A Sarmatian river, now the River Bug. Icarius Book TV. Illyria Illyris, the district along the east coast of the Adriatic. Janus Book EIV. Lacedaemon, Sparta Book EI. Laestrygonians A mythical race of cannibal giants appearing in Odyssey Book X. Lares Beneficent spirits watching over the household, fields, public areas etc. Latium Book EIV. Lemnos The north Aegean island south west of Imbros, and the home of Vulcan the blacksmith of the gods.
Lesbos The island in the eastern Aegean. Lethe A river of the Underworld, Hades, whose waters bring forgetfulness. Its stream flows from the depths of the House of Sleep, and induces drowsiness with its murmuring. Hence the stream of forgetfulness. Libertas Liberty. Libya The coastal district of North Africa, west of Egypt. Livilla Claudia Livilla Julia the Elder b.
Lixus A river flowing to the sea on the west coast of Mauretania. Luna The moon goddess. Maeonides Homer , so called from Maeonia a name for Lydia in Asia Minor where he was born according to one legend, or because his father was Maion. Marius 2 An Augustan poet. Marsus Domitius Marsus, an Augustan poet, known for his epigrams. Maximus 1 Marcus Aurelius Cotta Maximus.
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Ovid refers to the battle of 18th July BC near the River Cremera, against the Veientes, when more than three hundred of the Fabii clan were said to have fought and only one survived. Melanthus A river in Pontus or Sarmatia. Melissus Gaius or Cilnius Melissus, a freedman of Maecenas, grammarian, poet and librarian. Menander The Athenian playwright ccBC. Merops King of Ethiopia, husband of Clymene.
Metrodorus Book EIV. Mettus Or Mettius Fufetius, an Alban commander who was torn apart by horses for treachery in the war with Fidenae, on the orders of Tullus Hostilius. A name for Vulcan, the smith, as a metal-worker. Myron The sculptor of Eleutherae, one of the greatest of the Greek artists c. Naides The water nymphs, demi-goddesses of the rivers, streams and fountains. Naso Ovid , who always so names himself. Nemesis, Rhamnusia The Goddess of retribution. Nilus The river Nile and its god. Nireus Book EIV.
Nisus 1 The son of Hyrtacus. Notus The south wind, that brings rain.
The warring of the winds. Nox Book EI. Numa 2 An Augustan poet, otherwise unknown. Oechalia A city in Euboea. Olympiad The period of five years covering successive Games at Olympia, celebrated every fifth year inclusive from BC, and therefore a useful measure of time. Ops The goddess of agricultural abundance, goddess of plenty. Opus The capital of the Opuntian Locrians. IV Book TV.
Dating of the Poems: references Book TI.
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