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Of the daughters of Coeus, Asteria in the likeness of a quail flung herself into the sea in order to escape the amorous advances of Zeus, and a city was formerly called after her Asteria, but afterwards it was named Delos.1 But Latona for her intrigue with Zeus was hunted by Hera over the whole earth, till she came to Delos and brought forth first Artemis, by the help of whose midwifery she afterwards gave birth to Apollo.2

Now Artemis devoted herself to the chase and remained a maid; but Apollo learned the art of prophecy from Pan, the son of Zeus and Hybris,3 and came to Delphi, where Themis at that time used to deliver oracles;4 and when the snake Python, which guarded the oracle, would have hindered him from approaching the chasm,5 he killed it and took over the oracle.6 Not long afterwards he slew also Tityus, who was a son of Zeus and Elare, daughter of Orchomenus; for her, after he had debauched her, Zeus hid under the earth for fear of Hera, and brought forth to the light the son Tityus, of monstrous size, whom she had borne in her womb.7 When Latona came to Pytho, Tityus beheld her, and overpowered by lust drew her to him. But she called her children to her aid, and they shot him down with their arrows. And he is punished even after death; for vultures eat his heart in Hades.8 [2]

Apollo also slew Marsyas, the son of Olympus. For Marsyas, having found the pipes which Athena had thrown away because they disfigured her face,9 engaged in a musical contest with Apollo. They agreed that the victor should work his will on the vanquished, and when the trial took place Apollo turned his lyre upside down in the competition and bade Marsyas do the same. But Marsyas could not, so Apollo was judged the victor and despatched Marsyas by hanging him on a tall pine tree and stripping off his skin.10 [3]

And Artemis slew Orion in Delos.11 They say that he was of gigantic stature and born of the earth; but Pherecydes says that he was a son of Poseidon and Euryale.12 Poseidon bestowed on him the power of striding across the sea.13 He first married Side,14 whom Hera cast into Hades because she rivalled herself in beauty. Afterwards he went to Chios and wooed Merope, daughter of Oenopion. But Oenopion made him drunk, put out his eyes as he slept, and cast him on the beach. But he went to the smithy of Hephaestus, and snatching up a lad set him on his shoulders and bade him lead him to the sunrise. Being come thither he was healed by the sun's rays, and having recovered his sight he hastened with all speed against Oenopion. [4] But for him Poseidon had made ready a house under the earth constructed by Hephaestus.15 And Dawn fell in love with Orion and carried him off and brought him to Delos; for Aphrodite caused Dawn to be perpetually in love, because she had bedded with Ares. [5] But Orion was killed, as some say, for challenging Artemis to a match at quoits, but some say he was shot by Artemis for offering violence to Opis, one of the maidens who had come from the Hyperboreans.16

Poseidon wedded Amphitrite, daughter of Ocean, and there were born to him Triton17 and Rhode, who was married to the Sun.18

1 Compare Callimachus, Hymn to Delos 36ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 401; Hyginus, Fab. 53; Serv. Verg. A. 3.73; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iv.795; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 13, 79ff.; (First Vatican Mythographer 37; Second Vatican Mythographer 17).

2 As to the birth of Apollo and Artemis, see the HH Apoll. 14ff.; Pind. On Delos, p. 560, ed. Sandys; Hyginus, Fab. 140; and the writers cited in the preceding note. The usual tradition was that Latona gave birth both to Artemis and to Apollo in Delos, which formerly had been called Asteria or Ortygia. But the author of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo distinguishes Ortygia from Delos, and says that, while Apollo was born in Delos, Artemis was born in Ortygia. Thus distinguished from Delos, the island of Ortygia is probably to be identified, as Strabo thought, with Rhenia, an uninhabited island a little way from Delos, where were the graves of the Delians; for no dead body might be buried or burnt in DelosStrab. 10.5.5). Not only so, but it was not even lawful either to be born or to die in Delos; expectant mothers and dying folk were ferried across to Rhenia, there to give birth or to die. However, Rhenia is so near the sacred isle that when Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, dedicated it to the Delian Apollo, he connected the two islands by a chain. See Thuc. 3.104; Diod. 12.58.1; Paus. 2.27.1. The notion that either a birth or a death would defile the holy island is illustrated by an inscription found on the acropolis of Athens, which declares it to be the custom that no one should be born or die within any sacred precinct. See Ἐφημερὶς Ἀρχαιολογική, Athens, 1884, pp. 167ff. The desolate and ruinous remains of the ancient necropolis, overgrown by asphodel, may still be seen on the bare treeless slopes of Rhenia, which looks across the strait to Delos. See H. F. Tozer, The Islands of the Aegean (Oxford, 1890), pp. 14ff. The quaint legend, recorded by Apollodorus, that immediately after her birth Artemis helped her younger twin brother Apollo to be born into the world, is mentioned also by Serv. Verg. A. 3.73 and the Vatican Mythographers (see the reference in the last note). The legend, these writers inform us, was told to explain why the maiden goddess Artemis was invoked by women in child-bed.

3 Pan, son of Zeus and Thymbreus (Thymbris? Hybris?), is mentioned by a Scholiast on Pindar, who distinguishes him from Pan, the son of Hermes and Penelope. See the Argument to the Pythians, p. 297, ed. Boeckh.

4 As to the oracle of Themis at Delphi, see Aesch. Eum. 1ff.; Eur. IT 1259ff.; Paus. 10.5.6; Scholiast on Pind. Argument to the Pythians, p. 297, ed. Boeckh. According to Ov. Met. 1.367ff., it was Themis, and not Apollo, whom Deucalion consulted at Delphi about the best means of repeopling the earth after the great flood.

5 The reference is to the oracular chasm at which the priestess, under the supposed influence of its divine exhalations, delivered her prophecies. See Diod. 16.26; Strab. 9.3.5; Justin xxiv.6.9.

6 As to Apollo's slaughter of the Python, the dragon that guarded the oracle at Delphi, see Plut. Quaest. Graec. 12; Plut. De defectu oraculorum 15; Ael., Var. Hist. iii.1; Paus. 2.7.7, Paus. 2.30.3, Paus. 10.6.5ff.; Ov. Met. 1.437ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 140. From Plutarch and Aelian we learn that Apollo had to go to Tempe to be purified for the slaughter of the dragon, and that both the slaughter of the dragon and the purification of the god were represented every eighth year in a solemn festival at Delphi. See Frazer, on Paus. 2.7.7 (Paus. vol 3. pp. 53ff.). The Pythian games at Delphi were instituted in honour of the dead dragon (Ovid and Hyginus, Fab. 140; compare Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 2, p. 29, ed. Potter), probably to soothe his natural anger at being slain.

7 Compare Scholiast on Hom. Od. 7.324; Eustathius on Hom. Od. 7.324, p. 1581; Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.761ff., with the Scholiast on 761. The curious story how Zeus hid his light o' love under the earth to save her from the jealous rage of Hera was told by the early mythologist and antiquarian Pherecydes of Athens, as we learn from the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., (l.c.). Pherecydes was a contemporary of Herodotus and Hellanicus, and wrote in the first half of the fifth century B.C. Apollodorus often refers to him, and appears to have made much use of his writings, as I shall have occasion to observe in the course of these notes. With regard to Elare or Elara, the mother of Tityus, some people thought that she was a daughter of Minyas, not of OrchomenusScholiast on Hom. and Eustathius on Hom. Od. vii.324, p. 1581). Because Tityus was brought up under the earth, he was said to be earth-born (γηγενής, Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.761). Homer calls him simply a son of Earth (Hom. Od. 11.576), and in this he is followed by Verg. A. 6.595.

8 As to the crime and punishment of Tityus, see Hom. Od. 11.576-581; Pind. P. 4.90(160)ff., with the Scholiast on Pind. P. 4.90(160); Lucretius iii.984ff.; Verg. A. 6.595ff.; Hor. Carm. 2.14.8ff., iii.4.77ff., iii.11.21ff., iv.6.2ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 55; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 4, 110 (First Vatican Mythographer 13; Second Vatican Mythographer 104). The tomb of Tityus was shown at Panopeus in Phocis; it was a mound or barrow about a third of a furlong in circumference. See Paus. 10.4.5. In Euboea there was shown a cave called Elarium after the mother of Tityus, and Tityus himself had a shrine where he was worshipped as a hero (Strab. 9.3.14). The death of Tityus at the hands of Apollo and Artemis was represented on the throne of Apollo at Amyclae (Paus. 3.18.15), and it was the subject of a group of statuary dedicated by the Cnidians at DelphiPaus. 10.11.1). His sufferings in hell were painted by Polygnotus in his famous picture of the underworld at Delphi. The great artist represented the sinner worn to a shadow, but no longer racked by the vultures gnawing at his liver (Paus. 10.29.3).

9 As she played on the pipes, she is said to have seen her puffed and swollen cheeks reflected in water. See Plut. De cohibenda ira 6; Athenaeus xiv.7, p. 616ef; Prop. iii.22(29). 16ff.; Ovid, Fasti vi.697ff.; Ovid, Ars Am. iii.505ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 165; Fulgentius, Mytholog. iii.9; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. G.H.Bode, i. pp. 40, 114 (First Vatican Mythographer 125; Second Vatican Mythographer 115). On the acropolis at Athens there was a group of statuary representing Athena smiting Marsyas because he had picked up the flutes which she had thrown away (Paus. 1.24.1). The subject was a favourite theme in ancient art. See Frazer, note on Paus. 10.29.3 (vol. ii. pp. 289ff.).

10 As to the musical contest between Marsyas and Apollo, and the punishment of the vanquished Marsyas, see Diod. 3.59; Paus. 2.22.9; Ov. Met. 6.382ff.; Ovid, Fasti vi.703ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 165; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 40, 114 (First Vatican Mythographer 125; Second Vatican Mythographer 115). There has been some doubt as to the interpretation of the words τὴν κιθάραν στρέψας; but that they mean simply “turned the lyre upside down,” as Heyne correctly explained them, is shown by a comparison with the parallel passages in Hyginus (“citharam versabat”) and the Second Vatican Mythographer (“invertit citharam, et canere coepit. Inversis autem tibiis, quum se Marsya Apollini aequiparare nequiret,” etc.). That the tree on which Marsyas was hanged was a pine is affirmed by many ancient writers besides Apollodorus. See Nicander, Alex. 301ff., with the Scholiast's note; Lucian, Tragodopodagra 314ff.; Archias Mitylenaeus in Anth. Pal. vii.696; Philostratus Junior, Im. i.3; Longus, Pastor. iv.8; Zenobius, Cent. iv.81; Tzetzes, Chiliades i.353ff. Pliny alone describes the tree as a plane, which in his time was still shown at Aulocrene on the way from Apamea to PhrygiaPliny, Nat. Hist. xvi.240). The skin of the flayed Marsyas was exhibited at Celaenae within historical times. See Hdt. 7.26; Xen. Ana. 1.2.8; Livy xxxviii.13.6; Quintus Curtius iii.1.1-5; Pliny, Nat. Hist. v.106.

11 See Hom. Od. 5.121-124; Hor. Carm. 3.4.70ff.

12 The same account of Orion's parentage was given by Hesiod, whom Pherecydes probably followed. See Eratosthenes, Cat. 32; Hyginus, Ast. ii.34.

13 Some thought that Orion waded through the sea (so Verg. A. 10.763ff.), others that he walked on the top of it (so Eratosthenes, Cat. 32; Scholiast on Nicander, Ther. 15; Hyginus, Ast. ii.34).

14 As Side means “pomegranate” in Greek, it has been supposed that the marriage of Orion to Side is a mythical expression for the ripening of the pomegranate at the season when the constellation Orion is visible in the nightly sky. See W. Pape, Worterbuch der griechischen Eigennamen (Brunswick, 1884), ii.1383.

15 This quaint story of Orion and Oenopion is told also by Eratosthenes, Cat. 32; the Old Scholiast on Aratus, Phaenomena 322, quoted in Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, ed. G. Kinkel, p. 89; the Scholiast on Nicander, Ther. 15; Hyginus, Ast. ii.34; Serv. Verg. A. 10.763; and the Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 12 (First Vatican Mythographer 33), except that this last writer substitutes Minos, king of Crete, for Oenopion. The name of the guide whom Orion took on his back to guide him to the sunrise was Cedalion (Lucian, De domo 28; Eratosthenes, Cat.; and Hyginus, Ast. ii.34.). Sophocles made the story the theme of a satyric drama called Cedalion, of which a few fragments have come down to us. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 202ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. ii. pp. 8ff. Euripides represents the blinded Polymestor praying to the Sun to restore his sight (Eur. Hec. 1067ff.).

16 Compare Scholiast on Hom. Od. 5.121, who calls the maiden Upis. According to another, and more generally received, account, Orion died of the bite of a scorpion, which Artemis sent against him because he had attempted her chastity. For this service the scorpion was raised to the rank of a constellation in the sky, and Orion attained to a like dignity. That is why the constellation Orion flies for ever from the constellation Scorpion round the sky. See Aratus, Phaenomena 634ff.; Nicander, Ther. 13ff.; Eratosthenes, Cat. 32; Scholiast on Hom. Il. xviii.486; Scholiast on Hom. Od. v.121; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iii.27; Scholiast on Caesar Germanicus, Aratea, p. 386, ed. Eyssenhardt, in his edition of Martianus Capella. The Scholiast on Hom. Il. xviii.486, cites as his authority Euphorion, a grammarian and poet of the fourth century B.C.

17 Compare Hes. Th. 930ff.

18 Rhode, more commonly in the form Rhodos, is a personification of the island of Rhodes, which Pindar calls the Bride of the Sun (Pind. O. 7.14), because it was the great seat of the worship of the Sun in ancient Greece. A Rhodian inscription of about 220 B.C. records public prayers offered by the priests “to the Sun and Rhodos and all the other gods and goddesses and founders and heroes who have the city and the land of the Rhodians in their keeping.” See P. Cauer, Delectus Inscriptionum Graecarum, p. 123, No. 181; Ch. Michel, Recueil d'Inscriptions Grecques, p. 24, No. 21; H. Collitz and F. Bechtel, Sammlung der griechischen Dialekt Inschriften, vol. iii. p. 412, No. 3749. Every year the Rhodians threw into the sea a chariot and four horses for the use of the Sun, apparently supposing that after riding a whole year across the sky his old chariot and horses must be quite worn out. See Festus, s.v. “October equus,” p. 181, ed. C. O. Muller.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 197
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (38):
    • Aeschylus, Eumenides, 1
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.58.1
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.26
    • Euripides, Hecuba, 1067
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Taurus, 1259
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.26
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 930
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.576
    • Homer, Odyssey, 5.121
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 3 to Apollo, 14
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.4.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.5.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.22.9
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.27.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.11.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.29.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.6.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.30.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.7.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.18.15
    • Pindar, Olympian, 7
    • Pindar, Pythian, 4
    • Strabo, Geography, 9.3.14
    • Strabo, Geography, 9.3.5
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.104
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.2.8
    • Strabo, Geography, 10.5.5
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.437
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.382
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 10.763
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.595
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 10.763
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 3.73
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 3
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.367
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegies, 3.22
    • Ovid, Fasti, 6
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