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[298] Λήδην. This passage, if it be genuine, makes a break in the list of Boeotian or Thessalian legends. Leda (whose name may be identical with lada, ‘wife,’ found in Lycian inscriptions: compare the name of the Carian island, “Λάδη”) is described as a daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius. Tyndareus (from the same stem as “Τυδεύς”, cp. Lat. tu-tud-i) was a prince of Sparta. Driven thence by his brothers, he found a home with Thestius and married his daughter. Leda became the mother of four children, Castor and Polydeuces, Helen and Clytaemnestra; but the parentage is variously given. Castor and Polydeuces are both called sons of Tyndareus, while their sister Helen is called a daughter of Zeus, Il.3. 426; Od.4. 189, 219, 596; and Clytaemnestra, again, a child of Tyndareus, Od.24. 199.In the Homeric hymns (17 and 33) the two sons are called both “Διὸς κοῦροι” and “Τυνδαρίδαι”, and later forms of the story refine upon this, making Clytaemnestra and Castor the offspring of Tyndareus, and Helen and Polydeuces of Zeus. Thus Castor appears as a mortal, and Polydeuces as an immortal; but when Castor falls in the fight with the Apharidae, Polydeuces gives up half his immortality, sharing it on alternate days with his brother Castor. Cp. Pind. Nem.10. 55μεταμειβόμενοι δ᾽ ἐναλλὰξ ἁμέραν τὰν μὲν παρὰ πατρὶ φίλῳ Διὶ νέμονται, τὰν δ᾽ ὑπὸ κεύθεσι γαίας ἐν γυάλοις Θεράπνας” (where their grave was shown), “πότμον ἀμπιπλάντες ὁμοῖον”, ib. Pind. Pyth.11. 63τὸ μὲν παρ᾽ ἆμαρ ἕδραισι Θεράπνας τὸ δ᾽ οἰκέοντας ἔνδον Ὀλύμπου”.

This story would seem to connect the Dioscuri with some myth representing the alternation of light and darkness, Welcker (Gr. G. 1. 606 foll.) identifying them with the morning and evening star; cp. Stat. Silv.4. 6. 15 foll., where Castor is used for Lucifer. The epithets “λευκόπωλοι, εὔιπποιPind. Pyth.1. 66; Pind. Ol.3. 39, and the expression “ἵπποις μαρμαίροντεEur. I. A.1154, cannot but remind us of “λευκόπωλος ἡμέραSoph. Aj.673.But if the “ἑγερημερία” is so necessary to connect them with such myths, it is remarkable that it finds no place in the Iliad, where Helen describes them (3. 243) as ‘dead and buried’ in Lacedaemon before the Trojan war began. Müller (Dor. 2. 10. § 8) thinks that we have the worship of some ancient Peloponnesian deities blended with the heroic honours of the human Tyndaridae; the former attributes in process of time superseding the latter. See Biogr. Dict.and Myth. s. v.

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  • Commentary references from this page (10):
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis, 1154
    • Homer, Iliad, 3.426
    • Homer, Odyssey, 24.199
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.189
    • Pindar, Nemean, 10
    • Pindar, Olympian, 3
    • Pindar, Pythian, 1
    • Pindar, Pythian, 11
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 673
    • Statius, Silvae, 4.6
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