After the speaker declares that he has received the blessings of the Muses and thanks them for giving him inspiration, he explains that Chaos arose spontaneously. Then came Gaia (Earth), the more orderly and safe foundation that would serve as a home for the deities and mortals, and Tartarus, in the depths of the Earth, and Eros, the fairest among the deathless deities. Eros serves an important role in sexual reproduction, before which children had to be produced asexually.
From Chaos came Erebus (place of darkness between the earth and the underworld) and Nyx (Night). Erebus and Nyx reproduced to make Aether (the outer atmosphere where the deities breathed) and Hemera (Day). From Gaia came Uranus (Sky), the Ourea (Mountains), and Pontus (Sea).
Uranus mated with Gaia to create twelve Titans: Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetos, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys and Cronus. Through Uranus, Gaia gave birth to the three Cyclopes Brontes, Steropes and Arges as well as the three Hecatonchires Kottos, Briareus, and Gyges.
Uranus was disgusted with the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires, so he hid them away somewhere in Gaia. Angered by this, Gaia asked her children the Titans to punish their father. Only Cronus was willing to do so. Cronus castrated his father with a sickle from Gaia. The blood from Uranus splattered onto the earth producing Erinyes (the Furies), the Gigantes, and the Meliai. Cronus threw the severed testicles into the Sea (Thalassa), around which foam developed and transformed into the goddess of Love, Aphrodite (which is why in some myths, Aphrodite was daughter of Uranus and the goddess Thalassa).
Meanwhile, Nyx alone produced children parthenogenetically: Moros (Doom), Oneiroi (Dreams), Ker and the Keres (Destinies), Eris (Discord), Momos (Blame), Philotes (Love), Geras (Old Age), Thanatos (Death), Moirai (Fates), Nemesis (Retribution), Hesperides (Daughters of Night), Hypnos (Sleep), Oizys (Hardship), and Apate (Deceit).
From Eris, following in her mother's footsteps, came Ponos (Pain), Hysmine (Battles), the Neikea (Quarrels), the Phonoi (Murders), Lethe (Oblivion), Makhai (Fight), Pseudologos (Lies), Amphilogia (Disputes), Limos (Famine), Androktasia (Manslaughters), Ate (Ruin), Dysnomia (Anarchy and Disobedient Lawlessness), the Algea (Illness), Horkos (Oaths), and Logoi (Stories).
After Uranus's castration, Gaia married Pontus and they have a descendant line consisting of sea deities, sea nymphs, and hybrid monsters. One child of Gaia and Pontus is Nereus (Old Man of the Sea), who marries Doris, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and has Nereids, the fifty nymphs of the sea, one of whom is Thetis. Another child of Gaia and Pontus is Thaumas, who marries Electra, a sister of Doris, and has Iris (Rainbow) and two Harpies.
Phorcys and Ceto, two siblings, marry each other and have the Graiae, the Gorgons, Echidna, and Ophion. Medusa, one of the Gorgons, has two children with Poseidon: the winged horse Pegasus and giant Chrysaor, at the instant of her decapitation by Perseus. Chrysaor marries Callirhoe, another daughter of Oceanus, and has the three-headed Geryon.
Gaia also marries Tartarus and has Typhon, whom Echidna marries and has Orthos, Kerberos, Hydra, and Chimera. From Orthos and either Chimera or Echidna were born the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion.
In the family of the Titans, Oceanus and Tethys marry and have three thousand rivers (including the Nile and Skamandar) and three thousand Okeanid Nymphs (including Electra, Calypso, and Styx). Theia and Hyperion marry and have Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon), and Eos (Dawn). Kreios and Eurybia marry to bear Astraios, Pallas, and Perses. Eos and Astraios will later marry and have Zephyros, Boreas, Notos, Eosphoros, Hesperos, Phosphoros and the Stars (foremost of which are Phaenon, Phaethon, Pyroeis, Stilbon, those of the Zodiac and those three acknowledged before).
From Pallas and Styx (another Okeanid) came Zelus (Zeal), Nike (Victory), Cratos (Strength), and Bia (Force). Koios and Phoibe marry and have Leto, Asteria (who later marries Perses and has Hekate). Iapetos marries Klymene (an Okeanid Nymph) and had Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus.
Cronus, having taken control of the Cosmos, wanted to ensure that he maintained power. Uranus and Gaia prophesied to him that one of his children would overthrow him, so when he married Rhea, he made sure to swallow each of the children she birthed: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Zeus (in that order). However, Rhea asked Gaia and Uranus for help in saving Zeus by sending Rhea to Crete to bear Zeus and giving Cronus a huge stone to swallow thinking that it was another of Rhea's children. Gaia then took Zeus and hid him deep in a cave beneath the Aegean Mountains.
Tricked by Gaia (the Theogony does not detail how), Cronus regurgitated his other five children. Joining with Zeus, they waged a great war on the Titans for control of the Cosmos called the Titanomachy. The war lasted ten years, with the Olympian deities, Cyclopes, Prometheus (who foresaw that Zeus would win) and Epimetheus, the children of Klymene, on one side, and the Titans on the other (with only Oceanos as a neutral force). Eventually, Zeus released the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes to help him after slaying the monster Campe. The Cyclopes forged Zeus' Thunderbolt, Poseidon's Trident, and Hades' Helm of Darkness. During the battle, the Hecatonchires shook the earth, allowing Zeus to gain the upper hand, and cast the fury of his thunderbolts at the Titans, throwing them into Tartarus. Zeus later battled Typhon, a son of Gaia and Tartarus, created because Gaia was angry that the Titans were defeated, and was victorious again.
Because Prometheus and Epimetheus helped Zeus, they was not sent to Tartarus like the other Titans. Epimetheus created the animals while Prometheus created man. However, Prometheus sought to trick Zeus. Slaughtering a cow, he took the valuable fat and meat, and sewed it inside the cow's stomach. Prometheus then took the bones and hid them with a thin layer of fat. Prometheus asked Zeus' opinion on which offering pile he found more desirable, hoping to trick the god into selecting the less desirable portion. However, Hesiod relates that Zeus saw through the trick and responded in a fury. Zeus declared that the ash tree would never hold fire, in effect denying the benefit of fire to man. In response, Prometheus sneaked into the deities' chambers and stole a glowing ember with a piece of reed. Prometheus then defies the deities and gives fire to humanity (theft of fire).
For this theft, Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a cliff, where an eagle fed on his ever-regenerating liver every day with his freedom occurring through either someone freeing him or having a foresight on which future son with another god would overthrow him. Prometheus would not be freed until Heracles, a son of Zeus, came to free him. Since man had access to fire, Zeus devised woman as a general punishment, in trade. Hephaestus and Athena built woman with exquisite detail, and she was considered beautiful by all mortals and deities (It is generally agreed in academic translations that this woman was Pandora). Hesiod writes that, despite her beauty, woman is a bane for mankind, attributing women with laziness and a waste of resources. Hesiod notes that Zeus' curse, womankind, can only bring man suffering, whether by taking a woman as his wife, or by trying to avoid marriage.
Zeus married seven wives. The first was the Oceanid Metis, whom he swallowed to avoid begetting a son who, as had happened with Cronus and Uranus, would overthrow him, as well as to absorb her wisdom so that she could advise him in the future. He would later "give birth" to Athena from his head, which would anger Hera enough for her to produce her own son parthenogenetically. The second wife was Themis, who bore the three Horae (Hours): Eunomia (Order), Dikē (Justice), Eirene (Peace); and the three Moirai (Fates): Clotho (Spinner), Lachesis (Alotter), Atropos (Unturned), as well as Tyche (Luck). Zeus then married his third wife Eurynome, who bore the three Charites (Graces): Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia.
The fourth wife was his sister Demeter who bore Persephone.
The fifth wife of Zeus was another aunt Mnemosyne from whom came the nine Muses: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsikhore, Erato, Polymnia, Urania, and Calliope. The sixth wife was Leto, who gave birth to Apollo and Artemis.
The seventh and final wife is Hera, who gave birth to Hebe, Ares, Enyo, Hephaestus, and Eileithyia. Of course, though Zeus no longer marries, he still has affairs with many other women, such as Semele: mother of Dionysus, Danae: mother of Perseus, Leda: mother of Castor and Polydeuces and Helen, and Alkmene: the mother of Heracles (who later married Hebe).
Poseidon married Amphitrite and produced Triton. Aphrodite, who married Hephaistos, nevertheless had an affair with Ares to have Eros (Love), Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror), and Harmonia (Harmony), who would later marry Cadmus to sire Ino (who with her son, Melicertes would become a sea deity), Semele (Mother of Dionysos), Autonoë (Mother of Actaeon), Polydorus, and Agave (Mother of Pentheus). Helios and Perseis birthed Circe. Circe, with Poseidon, in turn, begat Phaunos, god of the forest, and, with Dionysos, mothered Comos, god of revelry and festivity. After coupling with Odysseus, Circe would later give birth to Agrius, Latinus, and Telegonos. Atlas' daughter Calypso would also bear Odysseus two sons, Nausithoos and Nausinous.
The Erinyes, also known as Furies, were female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses". A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath". Burkert suggests they are "an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath". They correspond to the Dirae in Roman mythology, and some suppose that they are called Furies in hell, Harpies on earth, and Dirae in heaven.
According to Hesiod's Theogony, when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Erinyes as well as the Meliae emerged from the drops of blood when it fell on the earth (Gaia), while Aphrodite was born from the crests of sea foam. According to variant accounts, they emerged from an even more primordial level—from Nyx, "Night", or from a union between air and mother earth. Their number is usually left indeterminate. Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three:
- Alecto or Alekto; the one with the job of castigating the moral crimes (such as anger), especially if they are against other people,
- Megaera; the one who is the cause of jealousy and envy, and who punishes people who commit crimes (especially marital infidelity),
- Tisiphone or Tilphousia; the one who punishes crimes of murder, like parricide, fratricide and homicide.
Dante followed Virgil in depicting the same three-character triptych of Erinyes; in Canto IX of the Inferno they confront the poets at the gates of the city of Dis. Whilst the Erinyes were usually described as three maiden goddesses, the Erinys Telphousia was usually a by-name for the wrathful goddess Demeter, who was worshipped under the title of Erinys in the Arkadian town of Thelpousa.
The Erinyes live in Erebus and are more ancient deities than any of the Olympians. Their task is to hear complaints brought by mortals against the insolence of the young to the aged, of children to parents, of hosts to guests, and of householders or city councils to suppliants - and to punish such crimes by hounding culprits relentlessly. The Erinyes are crones and, depending upon authors, described as having snakes for hair, dog's heads, coal black bodies, bat's wings, and blood-shot eyes. In their hands they carry brass-studded scourges, and their victims die in torment.
Heracles (known in Roman as Hercules) is one of the best-known heroes in Greek mythology. He had a complicated family tree. According to legend, his father was Zeus, ruler of all the gods on Mount Olympus and all the mortals on earth, and his mother was Alcmene, the granddaughter of the hero Perseus.
Heracles had enemies even before he was born. When Zeus' wife Hera heard that her husband's mistress was pregnant, she flew into a jealous rage. First, she used her supernatural powers to prevent the baby Heracles from becoming the ruler of Mycenae. Though Zeus had declared that his son would inherit the Mycenaean kingdom, Hera's meddling meant that another baby boy, the feeble Eurystheus, became its leader instead. Then, after Heracles was born, Hera sent two snakes to kill him in his crib. The infant Heracles was unusually strong and fearless, however, and he strangled the snakes before they could strangle him.
But Hera kept up her dirty tricks. When her stepson was a young adult, she cast a kind of spell on him that drove him temporarily insane and caused him to murder Megara, his beloved wife, and their two children. Guilty and heartbroken, Heracles tracked down Apollo, the god of truth and healing, and begged to be punished for what he had done.
Apollo understood that Heracles’ crime had not been his fault — Hera's vengeful actions were no secret — but still he insisted that the young man make amends. He ordered Heracles to perform 12 "heroic labors" for the Mycenaen king Eurystheus. Once Heracles completed every one of the labors, Apollo declared, he would be absolved of his guilt and achieve immortality.
- The Nemean Lion
First, Apollo sent Heracles to the hills of Nemea to kill a lion that was terrorizing the people of the region. Heracles trapped the lion in its cave and strangled it. For the rest of his life, he wore the animal's pelt as a cloak.
- The Lernaean Hydra
Second, Heracles traveled to the city of Lerna to slay the nine-headed Hydra — a poisonous, snake-like creature who lived underwater, guarding the entrance to the Underworld. For this task, Heracles had the help of his nephew Iolaus. He cut off each of the monster's heads while Iolaus burned each wound with a torch. This way, the pair kept the heads from growing back.
- The Ceryneian Hind
Next, Heracles set off to capture the sacred pet of the goddess Artemis: a red deer, or hind, with golden antlers and bronze hooves. Eurystheus had chosen this task for his rival because he believed that Artemis would kill anyone she caught trying to steal her pet; however, once Heracles explained his situation to the goddess, she allowed him to go on his way without punishment.
- The Erymanthean Boar
Fourth, Heracles used a giant net to snare the terrifying, man-eating wild boar of Mount Erymanthus.
- The Augean Stables
Heracles’ fifth task was supposed to be humiliating as well as impossible: cleaning all the dung out of King Augeas’ enormous stables in a single day. However, Heracles completed the job easily, flooding the barn by diverting two nearby rivers.
- The Stymphalian Birds
Heracles’ sixth task was straightforward: travel to the town of Stymphalos and drive away the huge flock of carnivorous birds that had taken up residence in its trees. This time, it was the goddess Athena who came to the hero's aid. She gave him a pair of magical bronze krotala, or noisemakers, forged by the god Hephaistos. Heracles used these tools to frighten the birds away.
- The Cretan Bull
Next, Heracles went to Crete to capture a rampaging bull that had impregnated the wife of the island's king. Heracles drove the bull back to Eurystheus, who released it into the streets of Marathon.
- The Mares of Diomedes
Heracles’ eighth challenge was to capture the four man-eating mares of the Thracian king Diomedes. He brought them to Eurystheus, who dedicated the mares to Hera and set them free.
- The Belt of Hippolyta
The ninth labor was complicated: stealing an armored belt that belonged to the Amazon queen Hippolyta. At first, the queen welcomed Heracles and agreed to give him the belt without a fight. However, the troublemaking Hera disguised herself as an Amazon warrior and spread a rumor that Heracles intended to kidnap the queen. To protect their leader, the women attacked the hero's fleet; then, fearing for his safety, Heracles killed Hippolyta and ripped the belt from her body.
- The Cattle of Geryon
For his 10th labor, Heracles was dispatched nearly to Africa to steal the cattle of the three-headed, six-legged monster Geryon. Once again, Hera did all she could to prevent the hero from succeeding, but eventually he returned to Mycenae with the cows.
- The Apples of the Hesperides
Next, Eurystheus sent Heracles to steal Hera's wedding gift to Zeus: a set of golden apples guarded by a group of nymphs known as the Hesperides. This task was difficult — Heracles needed the help of the mortal Prometheus and the titan Atlas to pull it off — but the hero eventually managed to run away with the apples. After he showed them to the king, he returned them to the gods’ garden where they belonged.
For his final challenge, Heracles traveled to the Underworld to kidnap Cerberus, the vicious three-headed dog that guarded its gates. Heracles managed to capture Cerberus by using his superhuman strength to wrestle the monster to the ground. Afterward, the dog returned unharmed to his post at the entrance to the Underworld.
Later in his life, Heracles had a number of other adventures — rescuing the princess of Troy, battling for control of Mount Olympus — but none were as taxing, or as significant, as the labors had been. When he died, Athena carried him to Olympus on her chariot. According to legend, he spent the rest of eternity with the gods.
Once, as Ovid relates in Metamorphoses XI. Dionysus found his old schoolmaster and foster father, the satyr Silenus, missing.
The old satyr Silenus had been drinking wine and had wandered away drunk, later to be found by some Phrygian peasants, who carried him to their king, Midas (alternatively, he passed out in Midas' rose garden). Midas recognized him and treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and nights with politeness, while Silenus delighted Midas and his friends with stories and songs.
On the eleventh day, he brought Silenus back to Dionysus in Lydia. Dionysus offered Midas his choice of whatever reward he wished for. Midas asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold.
Midas rejoiced in his new power, which he hastened to put to the test. He touched an oak twig and a stone; both turned to gold. Overjoyed, as soon as he got home, he ordered the servants to set a feast on the table. "So Midas, king of Lydia, swelled at first with pride when he found he could transform everything he touched to gold; but when he beheld his food grow rigid and his drink harden into golden ice then he understood that this gift was a bane and in his loathing for gold, cursed his prayer" (Claudian, In Rufinem). In a version told by Nathaniel Hawthorne in A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys (1852), Midas found that when he touched Zoë, his daughter, she turned to gold as well.
Now, Midas hated the gift he had coveted. He prayed to Dionysus, begging to be delivered from starvation. Dionysus heard his prayer, and consented; telling Midas to wash in the river Pactolus. Then, what ever he put into the water would be reversed of the touch.
Midas did so, and when he touched the waters, the power flowed into the river, and the river sands turned into gold. This explained why the river Pactolus was so rich in gold, and the wealth of the dynasty claiming Midas as its forefather no doubt the impetus for this aetiological myth. Gold was perhaps not the only metallic source of Midas' riches: "King Midas, a Phrygian, son of Cybele, first discovered black and white lead".
Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music, his attempt to retrieve his wife, Eurydice, from the underworld, and his death at the hands of those who could not hear his divine music. As an archetype of the inspired singer, Orpheus is one of the most significant figures in the reception of classical mythology in Western culture, portrayed or alluded to in countless forms of art and popular culture including poetry, film, opera, music, and painting.
The most famous story in which Orpheus figures is that of his wife Eurydice. While walking among her people, the Cicones, in tall grass at her wedding, Eurydice was set upon by a satyr. In her efforts to escape the satyr, Eurydice fell into a nest of vipers and suffered a fatal bite on her heel. Her body was discovered by Orpheus who, overcome with grief, played such sad and mournful songs that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus travelled to the underworld. By his music he softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone (he was the only person ever to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. He set off with Eurydice following, and, in his anxiety, as soon as he reached the upper world, he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be in the upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.
The story in this form belongs to the time of Virgil, who first introduces the name of Aristaeus (by the time of Virgil's Georgics, the myth has Aristaeus chasing Eurydice when she was bitten by a serpent) and the tragic outcome. Other ancient writers, however, speak of Orpheus' visit to the underworld in a more negative light; according to Phaedrus in Plato's Symposium, the infernal gods only "presented an apparition" of Eurydice to him. Ovid says that Eurydice's death was not caused by fleeing from Aristaeus but by dancing with naiads on her wedding day. In fact, Plato's representation of Orpheus is that of a coward, as instead of choosing to die in order to be with the one he loved, he instead mocked the gods by trying to go to Hades to bring her back alive. Since his love was not "true"—he did not want to die for love—he was actually punished by the gods, first by giving him only the apparition of his former wife in the underworld, and then by being killed by women.
The "box" was actually a large jar given to Pandora, which contained all the evils of the world. Pandora was the first woman on Earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create her. So he did, using water and earth. The deities endowed her with many gifts: Athena clothed her, Aphrodite gave her beauty, Apollo gave her musical ability, and Hermes gave her speech.
When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus' brother Epimetheus. Pandora was given a wedding gift of a beautiful jar, with instructions to not open it under any circumstance. Impelled by her curiosity (given to her by the deities), Pandora opened it and all evil contained therein escaped and spread over the earth. She hastened to close the container, but the whole contents had escaped; Apate and all the others, except for one thing that lay at the bottom – the Spirit of Hope, named Elpis. Pandora, deeply saddened by what she had done, feared she would have to face Zeus' wrath, since she had failed her duty. However, Zeus did not punish Pandora because he knew this would happen.
When Perseus was grown, Polydectes came to fall in love with the beautiful Danaë. Perseus believed Polydectes was less than honourable, and protected his mother from him; then Polydectes plotted to send Perseus away in disgrace. He held a large banquet where each guest was expected to bring a gift. Polydectes requested that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting contributions for the hand of Hippodamia, "tamer of horses". Perseus had no horse to give, so he asked Polydectes to name the gift; he would not refuse it. Polydectes held Perseus to his rash promise and demanded the head of the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa, whose eyes turned people to stone. Ovid's account of Medusa's mortality tells that she had once been a woman, vain of her beautiful hair, who had lain with Poseidon in the Temple of Athena. In punishment for the desecration of her temple, Athena had changed Medusa's hair into hideous snakes "that she may alarm her surprised foes with terror".
Athena instructed Perseus to find the Hesperides, who were entrusted with weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon. Following Athena's guidance, Perseus sought out the Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, to demand the whereabouts of the Hesperides, the nymphs tending Hera's orchard. The Graeae were three perpetually old women, who had to share a single eye. As the women passed the eye from one to another, Perseus snatched it from them, holding it for ransom in return for the location of the nymphs. When the sisters led him to the Hesperides, he returned what he had taken.
From the Hesperides he received a knapsack (kibisis) to safely contain Medusa's head. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword and Hades' helm of darkness to hide. Hermes lent Perseus winged sandals to fly, while Athena gave him a polished shield. Perseus then proceeded to the Gorgons' cave.
In the cave he came upon the sleeping Medusa. By viewing Medusa's reflection in his polished shield, he safely approached and cut off her head. From her neck sprang Pegasus ("he who sprang") and Chrysaor ("bow of gold"), the result of Poseidon and Medusa's meeting. The other two Gorgons pursued Perseus, but, wearing his helm of darkness, he escaped.
Prometheus was one of the Titans, son of Iapetus (also a Titan) and Clymene, an Oceanid. His brothers were Epimetheus, Atlas and Menoetius. The name derives from the Greek word meaning "forethought".
Prometheus and his brother, Epimetheus, were spared imprisonment in Tartarus because they had not fought with their fellow Titans during the war with the Olympians. They were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure. Prometheus had assigned Epimetheus the task of giving the creatures of the earth their various qualities, such as swiftness, cunning, strength, fur, and wings. Unfortunately, by the time he got to man Epimetheus had given all the good qualities out and there were none left for man. So Prometheus decided to make man stand upright as the gods did and to give him fire.
Prometheus loved man more than the Olympians, who had banished most of his family to Tartarus. So when Zeus decreed that man must present a portion of each animal he scarified to the gods, Prometheus decided to trick Zeus. He created two piles, one with the bones wrapped in juicy fat, the other with the good meat hidden in the hide. He then bade Zeus to pick. Zeus picked the bones. Since he had given his word, Zeus had to accept this pile as his share for future sacrifices. In his anger over the trick, he took fire away from man. However, Prometheus lit a torch from the sun and brought it back again to man. Zeus was enraged that man again had fire. He decided to inflict a terrible punishment on both man and Prometheus.
To punish man, Zeus had Hephaestus create a mortal of stunning beauty. The gods gave the mortal many gifts of wealth. He then had Hermes give the mortal a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. This creation was Pandora, the first woman. A final gift was a jar which Pandora was forbidden to open. Thus completed, Zeus sent Pandora down to Epimetheus, who was staying amongst the men.
Zeus was angry at Prometheus for three things: being tricked by the sacrifices, stealing fire for man, and refusing to tell Zeus which of Zeus's children would dethrone him. Zeus had his servants, Force and Violence, seize Prometheus, take him to the Caucasus Mountains, and chain him to a rock with unbreakable adamanite chains. Here he was tormented day and night by a giant eagle tearing at his liver. Zeus gave Prometheus two ways out of this torment. He could tell Zeus who the mother of the child that would dethrone him was, or meet two conditions. The first was that an immortal must volunteer to die for Prometheus, and the second was that a mortal must kill the eagle and unchain him. Eventually, Chiron the Centaur agreed to die for him and Heracles killed the eagle and unbound him.
The sirens were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, portrayed as femmes fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.
In Argonautica (4.891–919), Jason had been warned by Chiron that Orpheus would be necessary in his journey. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew out his lyre and played his music more beautifully than they, drowning out their voices. One of the crew, however, the sharp-eared hero Butes, heard the song and leapt into the sea, but he was caught up and carried safely away by the goddess Aphrodite.
Odysseus was curious as to what the Sirens sang to him, and so, on the advice of Circe, he had all of his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He ordered his men to leave him tied tightly to the mast, no matter how much he would beg. When he heard their beautiful song, he ordered the sailors to untie him but they bound him tighter. When they had passed out of earshot, Odysseus demonstrated with his frowns to be released.
Some post-Homeric authors state that the Sirens were fated to die if someone heard their singing and escaped them, and that after Odysseus passed by they therefore flung themselves into the water and perished. It is also said that Hera, queen of the deities, persuaded the Sirens to enter a singing contest with the Muses. The Muses won the competition and then plucked out all of the Sirens' feathers and made crowns out of them. Out of their anguish from losing the competition, writes Stephanus of Byzantium, the Sirens turned white and fell into the sea at Aptera ("featherless"), where they formed the islands in the bay that were called Leukai ("white").
The Greek Underworld, also referred to as Hades, was an otherworld where souls went after death and was the Greek idea of afterlife. At the moment of death the soul was separated from the corpse, taking on the shape of the former person, and was transported to the entrance of Underworld. The Underworld itself was described as being either at the outer bounds of the ocean or beneath the depths or ends of the earth. It was considered the dark counterpart to the brightness of Mount Olympus, and was the kingdom of the dead that corresponded to the kingdom of the gods. Hades was a realm invisible to the living and it was made solely for the dead.
There were five main rivers that appear both in the real world and the underworld. Their names were meant to reflect the emotions associated with death:
- The Styx is generally considered to be one of the most prominent and central rivers of the Underworld and is also the most widely known out of all the rivers. It is known as the river of hatred and is named after the goddess Styx. This river circles the underworld seven times.
- The Acheron is the river of pain. It is the river that Charon, also known as the Ferryman, rows the dead over according to many mythological accounts, though sometimes it is the river Styx or both.
- The Lethe is the river of forgetfulness. It is associated with the goddess Lethe, the goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion. In later accounts a poplar branch dripping with water of the Lethe became the symbol of Hypnos, the god of sleep.
- The Phlegethon is the river of fire. According to Plato, this river led to the depths of Tartarus.
- The Cocytus is the river of wailing.
- Entrance of the Underworld
The Entrance of the Underworld is where the dead enter. Before the entrance to Hades live Grief and Anxiety, along with Diseases and Old Age. Also Fear, Hunger, Death, Agony, and Sleep, dwell in this place together with Guilty Joys. On an opposite threshold is War, the Erinyes, and Eris. Close to the doors, many other beasts dwell consisting of Centaurs, Gorgons, the Lernaean Hydra, the Chimera, the Harpies, and others. In the midst of all this, an Elm can be seen where False Dreams cling under every leaf.
The souls that enter the Underworld carry a coin under their tongue to pay Charon to take them across the river. Charon may make exceptions or allowances for those visitors carrying a certain Golden Bough. Otherwise, this Charon is appallingly filthy with eyes like jets of fire, a bush of unkempt beard upon his chin, and a dirty cloak hanging from his shoulders. Although Charon embarks now one group now another, some souls he keeps at distance. These are the unburied where they can't be taken across from bank to bank if he had not received burial.
Across the river guarding the gates of the Underworld is Cerberus. There is also an area where the Judges of the Underworld (consisting of the souls of King Rhadamanthus, King Aeacus, and King Minos) decide where to send the souls of the person where each one is sent to either Elysium, Tartarus, or the Asphodel Meadows. King Aeacus judged the souls that came from Europe, King Rhadamanthus judged the souls that came from Asia, and King Minos made the deciding vote.
Tartarus is not considered to be directly a part of the underworld, it is described as being as far beneath the underworld as the earth is beneath the sky. It is so dark that the "night is poured around it in three rows like a collar round the neck, while above it grow the roots of the earth and of the unharvested sea." Tartarus is the place that Zeus cast the Titans along with his father Cronus after defeating them during the Titanomachy. Homer wrote that Cronus then became the king of Tartarus. While Odysseus does not see them himself, he mentions some of the people within the underworld who are experiencing punishment for their sins. Tartarus was later made a place for those who had created havoc on the world and committed crimes specifically against the gods. Known afterlife residents in Tartarus include King Sisyphus, King Tantalus, King Ixion, the Daughters of Danaus, and the giant Tityos.
- Asphodel Meadows
The Asphodel Meadows was a place for ordinary or indifferent souls who did not commit any significant crimes, but who also did not achieve any greatness or recognition that would warrant them being admitted to the Elysian Fields. It was where mortals who did not belong anywhere else in the Underworld were sent.
- Vale of Mourning
The Vale of Mourning is where those who were consumed by unhappy love dwell.
Elysium was a place for the especially distinguished. It was ruled over by Rhadamanthus, and the souls that reside there had an easy afterlife and had no labors. Usually, those who had proximity to the gods were granted admission, rather than those who were especially righteous or had ethical merit. Heroes such as Kadmos, Peleus, and Achilles also were transported here after their deaths. Normal people who lived righteous and virtuous lives could also gain entrance such as Socrates who proved his worth sufficiently through philosophy.
- Isle of the Blessed
The Isles of the Blessed were islands in the realm of Elysium. When a soul achieved Elysium, they had a choice to either stay in Elysium or to be reborn. If a soul was reborn three times and achieved Elysium all three times, then they were sent to the Isles of the Blessed to be sentenced to eternal paradise.
- King Midas does not turn his daughter, named Abigail on the show, to gold. Instead, it is Abigail's lover, Frederick, whom he accidentally touches during an attempted robbery.
- In the myth, the running waters are the only way to remove the golden touch. Lake Nostos' waters, who are guarded by a Siren, cure Frederick of the golden touch.
- Snow White wishes to slay the beast Medusa in order to use her severed head to turn the Evil Queen into stone.
- Prince Charming is turned into stone by Medusa.
- Snow White is unable to defeat Medusa by cutting off her head and instead tricks the creature into looking into her own reflection. This turns Medusa into a stone while Prince Charming is restored.
- William mentioned that he got magic sand from a Sea Nymph.
- Pegasus' feathers can make a ship fly if sewed into the sail.
- This technique has been used in the Enchanted Forest centuries before Medusa's death. In Greek Myths, Pegasus originated from Medusa's dead body.
- Poseidon is a deity in both myth and show, but he is not referred to as an actual god on the show. Instead, he is known as the sea king, although he calls himself a deity.
- One of the previous Dark Ones was named "Gorgon".
- A Fury comes to Storybrooke to collect the price for using magic.
- Charon comes to take Robin Hood's soul to the Underworld. He later comes to bring Emma and her family to the Underworld as they journey there to find Hook.
- Hercules' medals show motifs from the Labors of Hercules: The Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra, the Ceryneian Hind, the Erymanthian Boar, the Augean stables, the Stymphalian Birds, the Cretan Bull, the Mares of Diomedes, the girdle of Hippolyta, the cattle of the monster Geryon, and the apples of Hesperides. The final labor, Cerberus, is missing, since Hercules hadn't faced him yet.
|Original Character||Adapted as||First Featured in|
|King Midas||King Midas||"The Shepherd"|
|Medusa||Medusa||"The New Neverland"|
|Perseus||Snow White||"The New Neverland" (allusion)|
|Sea Nymph||Sea Nymph||"Out of the Past" (mentioned)|
|Poseidon||Poseidon||"Poor Unfortunate Soul"|
|A daughter of Poseidon's||Ursula||"Poor Unfortunate Soul"|
|Chimera||Chimeras||"The Shepherd" (mentioned)|
|Pegasus||Pegasus||"Good Form" (mentioned)|
|Pandora||Pandora||"Dark Hollow" (mentioned)|
|Siren||Siren||"What Happened to Frederick"|
|Persephone||Zelena||"Our Decay" (allusion)|
|Hades||Hades||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Heracles||Hercules||"Labor of Love"|
|Megara||Megara||"Labor of Love"|
|Cerberus||Cerberus||"Labor of Love"|
|Nemean Lion||Nemean Lion||"Labor of Love" (mentioned)|
|Alcmene||Hercules' Mother||"Labor of Love" (mentioned indirectly)|
|Cronus||Kronos||"Last Rites" (mentioned in text)|
|Morpheus||Morpheus||"The Savior" (mentioned)|
|Three Fates||Three Fates||"Street Rats" (mentioned)|
|Hephaestus||Hephaestus||"I'll Be Your Mirror" (mentioned)|
|Eros||Cupid||"Page 23" (mentioned)|
|Wood Nymphs||Tree Nymphs||"Flower Child"|
|Original Item||Adapted as||First Featured in|
|Atropos' Shears||Shears of Destiny||"Street Rats"|
|Flame of Prometheus||Flame of Prometheus||"Nimue"|
|Golden Fleece||Fleece||"Skin Deep" (allusion)|
|Pandora's Box||Pandora's Box||"Dark Hollow"|
|Pegasus' Feathers||Pegasus' Feathers||"Good Form"|
|Poseidon's Trident||Poseidon's Trident||"Poor Unfortunate Soul"|
|Zeus' Thunderbolt||Olympian Crystal||"Last Rites" (allusion)|
|Hammer of Hephaestus||Hephaestus' Hammer||"I'll Be Your Mirror"|
|Eros's Arrow||Cupid's Arrow||"Page 23"|
|Original Plant||Adapted as||First Featured in|
|Original Location||Adapted as||First Featured in|
|King Midas' castle||King Midas' castle||"Snow Drifts"|
|Underworld||Underworld||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Mount Olympus||Mount Olympus||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Hades' palace||Hades' lair||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Acheron||Acheron||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Lethe||Lethe||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Styx||Styx||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Cocytus||Cocytus||"Souls of the Departed"|
|Phlegethon||Lava river||"Souls of the Departed" (allusion)|
|Tartarus||"Worse place"||"Souls of the Departed" (allusion)|
- Lernaean Hydra
- Ceryneian Hind
- Erymanthian Boar
- Augean Stables
- Stymphalian Birds
- Cretan Bull
- Mares of Diomedes
- Girdle of Hippolyta
- Cattle of Geryon
- Apples of Hesperides and Ladon
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