previous next


Prometheus moulded men out of water and earth1 and gave them also fire, which, unknown to Zeus, he had hidden in a stalk of fennel.2 But when Zeus learned of it, he ordered Hephaestus to nail his body to Mount Caucasus, which is a Scythian mountain. On it Prometheus was nailed and kept bound for many years. Every day an eagle swooped on him and devoured the lobes of his liver, which grew by night. That was the penalty that Prometheus paid for the theft of fire until Hercules afterwards released him, as we shall show in dealing with Hercules.3 [2]

And Prometheus had a son Deucalion.4 He reigning in the regions about Phthia, married Pyrrha, the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, the first woman fashioned by the gods.5 And when Zeus would destroy the men of the Bronze Age, Deucalion by the advice of Prometheus constructed a chest,6 and having stored it with provisions he embarked in it with Pyrrha. But Zeus by pouring heavy rain from heaven flooded the greater part of Greece, so that all men were destroyed, except a few who fled to the high mountains in the neighborhood. It was then that the mountains in Thessaly parted, and that all the world outside the Isthmus and Peloponnese was overwhelmed. But Deucalion, floating in the chest over the sea for nine days and as many nights, drifted to Parnassus, and there, when the rain ceased, he landed and sacrificed to Zeus, the god of Escape. And Zeus sent Hermes to him and allowed him to choose what he would, and he chose to get men. And at the bidding of Zeus he took up stones and threw them over his head, and the stones which Deucalion threw became men, and the stones which Pyrrha threw became women. Hence people were called metaphorically people ( laos) from laas, “ a stone. ”7 And Deucalion had children by Pyrrha, first Hellen, whose father some say was Zeus, and second Amphictyon, who reigned over Attica after Cranaus; and third a daughter Protogenia, who became the mother of Aethlius by Zeus.8 [3] Hellen had Dorus, Xuthus, and Aeolus9 by a nymph Orseis. Those who were called Greeks he named Hellenes after himself,10 and divided the country among his sons. Xuthus received Peloponnese and begat Achaeus and Ion by Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus, and from Achaeus and Ion the Achaeans and Ionians derive their names. Dorus received the country over against Peloponnese and called the settlers Dorians after himself.11 Aeolus reigned over the regions about Thessaly and named the inhabitants Aeolians.12 He married Enarete, daughter of Deimachus, and begat seven sons, Cretheus, Sisyphus, Athamas, Salmoneus, Deion, Magnes, Perieres, and five daughters, Canace, Alcyone, Pisidice, Calyce, Perimede.13

Perimede had Hippodamas and Orestes by Achelous; and Pisidice had Antiphus and Actor by Myrmidon. [4] Alcyone was married by Ceyx, son of Lucifer.14 These perished by reason of their pride; for he said that his wife was Hera, and she said that her husband was Zeus.15 But Zeus turned them into birds; her he made a kingfisher ( alcyon) and him a gannet ( ceyx).16

Canace had by Poseidon Hopleus and Nireus and Epopeus and Aloeus and Triops. Aloeus wedded Iphimedia, daughter of Triops; but she fell in love with Poseidon, and often going to the sea she would draw up the waves with her hands and pour them into her lap. Poseidon met her and begat two sons, Otus and Ephialtes, who are called the Aloads.17 These grew every year a cubit in breadth and a fathom in height; and when they were nine years old,18 being nine cubits broad and nine fathoms high, they resolved to fight against the gods, and they set Ossa on Olympus, and having set Pelion on Ossa they threatened by means of these mountains to ascend up to heaven, and they said that by filling up the sea with the mountains they would make it dry land, and the land they would make sea. And Ephialtes wooed Hera, and Otus wooed Artemis; moreover they put Ares in bonds.19 However, Hermes rescued Ares by stealth, and Artemis killed the Aloads in Naxos by a ruse. For she changed herself into a deer and leaped between them, and in their eagerness to hit the quarry they threw their darts at each other.20 [5]

Calyce and Aethlius had a son Endymion who led Aeolians from Thessaly and founded Elis. But some say that he was a son of Zeus. As he was of surpassing beauty, the Moon fell in love with him, and Zeus allowed him to choose what he would, and he chose to sleep for ever, remaining deathless and ageless.21 [6]

Endymion had by a Naiad nymph or, as some say, by Iphianassa, a son Aetolus, who slew Apis, son of Phoroneus, and fled to the Curetian country. There he killed his hosts, Dorus and Laodocus and Polypoetes, the sons of Phthia and Apollo, and called the country Aetolia after himself.22 [7]

Aetolus and Pronoe, daughter of Phorbus, had sons, Pleuron and Calydon, after whom the cities in Aetolia were named. Pleuron wedded Xanthippe, daughter of Dorus, and begat a son Agenor, and daughters, Sterope and Stratonice and Laophonte. Calydon and Aeolia, daughter of Amythaon, had daughters, Epicaste and Protogenia, who had Oxylus by Ares. And Agenor, son of Pleuron, married Epicaste, daughter of Calydon, and begat Porthaon and Demonice, who had Evenus, Molus, Pylus, and Thestius by Ares. [8]

Evenus begat Marpessa, who was wooed by Apollo, but Idas, son of Aphareus, carried her off in a winged chariot which he received from Poseidon.23 Pursuing him in a chariot, Evenus came to the river Lycormas, but when he could not catch him he slaughtered his horses and threw himself into the river, and the river is called Evenus after him. [9] But Idas came to Messene, and Apollo, falling in with him, would have robbed him of the damsel. As they fought for the girl's hand, Zeus parted them and allowed the maiden herself to choose which of the two she would marry; and she, because she feared that Apollo might desert her in her old age, chose Idas for her husband.24 [10]

Thestius had daughters and sons by Eurythemis, daughter of Cleoboea: the daughters were Althaea, Leda,25 Hypermnestra, and the males were Iphiclus, Evippus, Plexippus, and Eurypylus.

Porthaon and Euryte, daughter of Hippodamas, had sons, Oeneus, Agrius, Alcathous, Melas, Leucopeus, and a daughter Sterope, who is said to have been the mother of the Sirens by Achelous.

1 As to the creation of the human race by Prometheus, compare Philemon in Stobaeus, Florilegium ii.27; Paus. 10.4.4; Lucian, Dial. Deorum i.1; Libanius, Declam. xxv.31, vol. ii. p. 552, ed. R. Foerster; Ov. Met. 1.82ff.; Juvenal xiv.35. It is to be observed that in the earliest versions of the legend (Hes. Th. 510ff. Hes. WD 48ff.; Aesch. PB) Prometheus appears only as the benefactor, not the creator, of mankind.

2 Compare Hes. WD 50ff., Hes. Th. 565ff.; Aesch. PB 107ff.; Plat. Prot. 321; Hyginus, Fab. 144; Hyginus, Ast. ii.15. According to Serv. Verg. Ecl. 6.42, Prometheus stole the fire by applying a torch to the sun's wheel. Stories of the original theft of fire are widespread among mankind. See Frazer's Appendix to Apollodorus, “Myths of the Origin of Fire.” The plant (νάρθηξ) in which Prometheus is said to have carried the stolen fire is commonly identified with the giant fennel (Ferula communis). See L. Whibley, Companion to Greek Studies (Cambridge, 1916), p. 67. Tournefort found the plant growing abundantly in Skinosa, the ancient Schinussa, a small deserted island south of NaxosPliny, Nat. Hist. iv.68). He describes the stalk as about five feet high and three inches thick, with knots and branches at intervals of about ten inches, the whole being covered with a tolerably hard rind. “This stalk is filled with a white pith, which, being very dry, catches fire just like a wick; the fire keeps alight perfectly in the stalk and consumes the pith only gradually, without damaging the rind; hence people use this plant to carry fire from one place to another; our sailors laid in a supply of it. This custom is of great antiquity, and may serve to explain a passage in Hesiod, who, speaking of the fire which Prometheus stole from heaven, says that he carried it away in a stalk of fennel.” He tells us, further, that the Greeks still call the plant nartheca. See P. de Tournefort, Relation d'un Voyage du Levant (Amsterdam, 1718), i.93. The plant is common all over Greece, and may be seen in particular abundance at Phalerum, near Athens. See W. G. Clark, Peloponnesus (London, 1858);, p. 111; J. Murr, Die Pflanzenwelt in der griechischen Mythologie (Innsbruck, 1890), p. 231. In Naxos Mr. J. T. Bent saw orange gardens divided by hedges of tall reeds, and he adds: “In Lesbos this reed is still called νάρθηκανάρθηξ, a survival of the old word for the reed by which Prometheus brought down fire from heaven. One can understand the idea well: a peasant today who wishes to carry a light from one house to another will put it into one of these reeds to prevent its being blown out.” See J. T. Bent, The Cyclades (London, 1885), p. 365. Perhaps Bent mistook fennel for a reed. The rationalistic Diodorus Siculus explained the myth of the theft of fire by saying that Prometheus was the inventor of the fire-sticks, by the friction of which against each other fire is kindled. See Diod. 5.67.2. But Greek tradition attributed the invention of fire-sticks to Hermes. See the HH Herm. 108ff.

3 As to the release of Prometheus, see Apollod. 2.5.11.

4 The whole of the following account of Deucalion and Pyrrha is quoted, with a few trifling verbal changes, by the Scholiast on Hom. Il. i.126, who cites Apollodorus as his authority.

5 As to the making of Pandora, see Hes. WD 60ff., Hes. Th. 571ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 142.

6 As to Deucalion's flood, see Lucian, De dea Syria 12ff.; Ov. Met. 1.125-415; Hyginus, Fab. 153; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 6.41; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 57ff., 99 (First Vatican Mythographer 189; Second Vatican Mythographer 73); Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, i.146ff. Another person who is said to have escaped alive from the flood was a certain Cerambus: the story ran that the nymphs wafted him aloft on wings over the Thessalian mountains. See Ov. Met. 7.353ff.

7 Compare Pind. O. 9.41ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 153.

8 This passage as to the children of Deucalion is quoted by the Scholiast on Hom. Il. xiii.307, who names Apollodorus as his authority.

9 As to Hellen and his sons, see Strab. 8.7.1; Paus. 7.12; Conon 27. According to the Scholiast on Hom. Il. i.2, Xuthus was a son of Aeolus.

10 According to the Parian Chronicle, the change of the national name from Greeks (Graikoi) to Hellenes took place in 1521 B.C. See Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, ed. C. Müller, i.542ff. Compare Aristot. Met. 1.352; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Γραικός, p. 239; Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Γραικός; Frazer on Paus. 3.20.6; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, ii.160.

11 As to the early seats of the Dorians, see Hdt. 1.56.

12 As to the Aeolians of Thessaly, compare Paus. 10.8.4; Diod. 4.67.2.

13 As to Aeolus, his descendants, and their settlements, see Diod. 4.67.2-7; Scholiast on Pind. P. 4.107(190).

14 According to Ov. Met. 11.271ff., Ceyx reflected his father's brightness in his face.

15 Compare Scholiast on Aristoph. Birds 250; Scholiast on Hom. Il. ix.562; Eustathius on Hom. Il. ix.562. p. 776. The story may be a reminiscence of an ancient Greek custom, in accordance with which kings are said to have been regularly called Zeus. See Tzetzes, Antehomerica 102ff.; Tzetzes, Chiliades i.474; A. B. Cook, “The European Sky-god,” Folklore, xv. (1904), pp. 299ff.

16 Compare Lucian, Halcyon 1; Scholiast on Aristoph. Birds 250; Ov. Met. 11.410ff., especially 710ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 65. The identification of the seabird ceyx is doubtful. See D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birds (Oxford, 1895), p. 81.

17 As to the Aloads, see Hom. Od. 11.305ff.; Verg. A. 6.582ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 28.

18 This answers to the ἐννέωροι of Homer (Hom. Od. 11.31), the meaning of which has been disputed. See Merry, on Hom. Od. x.19. Hyginus, Fab. 28 understood ἐννέωροι in the same way as Apollodorus (“cum essent annorum novem”).

19 They are said to have imprisoned him for thirteen months in a brazen pot, from which he was rescued, in a state of great exhaustion, by the interposition of Hermes. See Hom. Il. 5.385ff. Compare my note, “Ares in the brazen pot,” The Classical Review, ii. (1888) p. 222.

20 Compare Hyginus, Fab. 28.

21 As to Endymion and the Moon, see Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.57ff., with the Scholiast; Paus. 5.1.4; Mythographi Graeci, ed Westermann, pp. 319ff., 324; Hyginus, Fab. 271. The present passage of Apollodorus is quoted almost verbally by Zenobius, Cent. iii.76, but as usual without mention of his authority. The eternal sleep of Endymion was proverbial. See Plat. Phaedo 72c; Macarius, Cent. iii.89; Diogenianus, Cent. iv.40; Cicero, De finibus v.20.55; compare Cicero, Tusc. Disp. i.38.92.

22 Compare Paus. 5.1.8; Conon 14.

23 As to Evenus and Marpessa, see Scholiast on Hom. Il. ix.557; Eustathius on Hom. Il. ix.557 p. 776; Plut. Lives. 40; Hyginus, Fab. 242 (who calls Evenus a son of Herakles). According to the first two of these writers, Evenus, like Oenomaus, used to set his daughter's suitors to run a chariot race with him, promising to bestow her on the winner; but he cut off the heads of his vanquished competitors and nailed them to the walls of his house. This seems to be the version of the story which Apollodorus had before him, though he has abridged it.

24 Compare Scholiast on Hom. Il. ix.557 (who cites Simonides); Eustathius on Hom. Il. ix.557 p. 776; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 561; Paus. 5.18.2.

25 Paus. 3.13.8 agrees with Apollodorus in saying that Leda was the daughter of Thestius, who was a son of Agenor, who was a son of Pleuron; and he cites the epic poem of Areus as his authority for the genealogy.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1521 BC (1)
hide References (37 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (33):
    • Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 1
    • Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 107
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.5.11
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.56
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 565
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 510
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 571
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 60
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 48
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 50
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.305
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.31
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 4 to Hermes, 108
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.4.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.12
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.8.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.13.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.18.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.1.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.1.8
    • Pindar, Olympian, 9
    • Plato, Phaedo, 72c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 321
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.385
    • Strabo, Geography, 8.7.1
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 11.271
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.125
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 7.353
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.82
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.582
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 11.410
    • Servius, Commentary on the Eclogues of Vergil, 6.41
    • Servius, Commentary on the Eclogues of Vergil, 6.42
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: