The Abduction of Helen
Paris chose Aphrodite as the "fairest" one, so she granted him the privilege of possessing the most beautiful woman on earth – Helen.
It is unclear if Helen consented to follow Paris or if she was abducted. Women at this time had few options and were perceived largely as prizes. In the Iliad, Homer says that Paris seized all of Menelaus’ gold and riches. Herodotus thought it was an abduction. In any case, Helen had already been abducted once – when she was a child, Theseus abducted her because he needed a new wife.
Abduction of Persephone
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. She lived happily until she was abducted by her uncle, Hades. She was picking flowers as she usually did, when suddenly the earth opened wide in a loud earthquake. Hades sprang from the rift, pulled Persephone by her leg, and dragged her down to the Underworld to become his queen.
Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of Ethiopia. Cassiopeia, who was very conceited, was bragging that she and her daughter outmatched the Nereids in beauty and grace. This was an offense that Poseidon could not let go unpunished, so he sent a sea monster to ravage Ethiopia's coast. An oracle revealed to the king that only the sacrifice of his virgin daughter Andromeda could appease this monster. Chained to a rock, she waited to be torn apart by the terrible creature, but the hero Perseus killed the monster and married her.
Aphrodite and Ares
Aphrodite was officially married to Hephaestus but secretly loved Ares. As soon as she had the opportunity, she managed to see Ares, and she made very little effort to hide the adultery from her frustrated husband. Ultimately, Hephaestus' patience grew thin, and he decided he had to make them pay all for the humiliation he had endured. In his workshop, he built an elaborate trap, an invisible, indestructible net! After setting up the trap just above Aphrodite's bed, he left home, pretending to go on a business trip. Just a few minutes after her husband's departure, Aphrodite summoned Ares, and soon they were embracing in the bed. Immediately, the trap engaged and the magic net fell on the divine lovers. The more they tried to free themselves, the less they could move. It was an embarrassing situation for the goddess of love and the god of war – just what Hephaestus intended, public humiliation! He summoned all the Olympian gods and goddesses around the bed to see the spectacle, but their reactions were not as he had expected. Instead of blaming the adulterous couple, the goddesses kept silent and the male gods made dirty jokes and laughed loudly.
Aphrodite and Eros
Like many other deities, Eros was also a concept. He was perceived as the personification of desire and lust. His wings, as well as his bow and arrow, symbolized the swiftness of love. Later, when myths expanded, connections between characters were articulated further. Due to his characteristics, he naturally became the son of Aphrodite (love and desire) and Ares (due to the bow and arrow). From Roman Antiquity until the Renaissance, he was represented as a winged toddler. Aphrodite, being young and beautiful, could hardly be the mother of a grown man (as it was seen in Greek myths ). It's also possible to view her as a sort of variation or counterpart of the figure of Virgin Mary.
Apollo and Cassandra
Cassandra was a Trojan princess, daughter of King Priam. Struck by her extreme beauty, Apollo fell in love with her and promised her the gift of prophecy if she would accept him as her lover. She initially agreed, but when he granted her the power to foresee the future, she refused to give up her chastity. Feigning resignation, he asked if he could at least have a kiss. She saw nothing wrong with that, but instead of kissing her, he spat into her mouth, thereby cursing her so that she could only tell prophecies that would never be believed.
Being conscious of her great skill in weaving and embroidering, Arachne who has been Athena’s pupil, challenged and insulted the wise goddess in a tapestry contest. Athena’s tapestry represented all the twelve Olympian gods in their splendor while Arachne’s was evoking Zeus’ adulatory adventures. Athena lost her temper, she tore the tapestry into pieces and stroke Arachne with a shuttle, this made the gitl to fall in great despair , she hanged herself but Athena refused to let her die, she metamorphosed her into a spider.
Ariadne and Dionysus
After helping Theseus to defeat her brother, the minotaur, Ariadne followed the hero and escaped with him. She was seduced but then abandoned on the shore. Dionysus and his fleet arrived and met the sobbing beauty. Instantly taken by her grace, he fell in love and married her.
Artemis and Actaeon
Artemis, the goddess of hunting was enjoying a bath in a clear spring. Actaeon, who was hunting with his hounds, inadvertently witnessed the goddess' nudity. She could not let this crime go unpunished. The water she sprinkled on him transformed him into a stag. No longer recognizing him, his dogs chased and killed the unfortunate hunter.
Assassination of Agamemnon
While Agamemnon was away besieging the city of Troy, his wife Clytemnestra, who hated him for having slain her former husband and her child, took Aegisthus as a lover. Though Aegisthus was not very brave, he was ambitious and coveted Agamemnon's kingdom. The lovers plotted to get rid of him, and when Agamemnon finally returned to his castle after ten years, Clytemnestra welcomed him warmly and asked her maids to ready his bath. Afterwards, Clytemnestra wrapped a magic cloth around Agamemnon's head and shoulders as if to dry his wet body. Suddenly, she seized him as Aegisthus leaped on the defenseless king and decapitated him.
Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis, was the personification of justice and purity. Sickened by the way in which mortals behaved, she left the Earth and became the constellation of Virgo.
King Iasus wanted a son and so was very disappointed at the birth of his daughter
Atalanta. He abandoned her on a mountain top to let her die (as was the custom with
an unwanted child). Fortunately, a she-
The goddess Atë is a personification of folly and delusion. Zeus punished her for having managed to delay the birth of Heracles after Eurystheus'birth . She was cast down to the Earth but chose to rest her feet on the head of mortals rather than on the ground.
Athena Salvaging the Heart of Zagreus
Zagreus was the son of Zeus and Persephone. When Hera heard about his birth, she became angry and jealous and asked the Titans to kill the son of her unfaithful husband. Surrounded by them and understanding what they were up to, Zagreus metamorphosed into a series of animals of diverse shapes to escape his pursuers. Nonetheless, they finally succeeded in catching him when he was in the shape of a bull. They tore him to pieces. Aware of the attack, Zeus hurled lighting bolts to drive the Titans away. He sent Athena to rescue Zagreus. She was too late but managed to salvage his heart. She implanted it, still beating, in a statue, thereby resurrecting him.
Another version of the story says that the heart was given to Semele in a drink that impregnated her and led her to give birth to Dionysus.
(For his birth, you should refer to Cybele and Nana’s stories) Attis exposed by his mother Nana is tended by a goat, nevertheless the young man became so beautiful that Cybele fell in love with him. Despite the desire of the Phrygian goddess he lost his virginity with the naiad Sagaritis and to punish him, Cybele made him lose his mind and emasculate himself. (There are many other versions of this story)
Birth of Aphrodite
Uranus' testicles, which Cronus threw into the ocean (see Cronus), fertilized the sea and produced Aphrodite, the goddess of love. According to Homer, though, Aphrodite was Zeus’ daughter.
Birth of Athena
Zeus, who was in love with Metis heard that her offspring would be greater than he was. To keep his prerogative as the ruler of the world and heaven, he swallowed Metis who gave birth to Athena inside Zeus. One day Zeus had a terrible headache. Hermes the god of medicine, and Hephaestus cut his head open with a hammer and a chisel, and Athena came out, fully grown and armed.
Chiron and Achilles
Chiron was a centaur, but unlike the other members of the species, he was well-
Niobe was especially proud of having fourteen children, but she went too far when she made fun of Leto for having only two.
To punish her for this offense, Apollo and Artemis, Leto's two children, massacred all of Niobe's children but Chloris; however, Chloris' skin turned green from the trauma of witnessing her siblings' horrid fate .
Circe was the daughter of Helios and lived on the island of Aeaea that belonged to her father. Odysseus' starving crew, having landed on the island, ignored warnings not to kill Helios' cattle and made a serious offense by slaying these special cows. Pretending to welcome them at her table, Circe served them drugged food that turned all of them into pigs, but the clever Odysseus managed to elude the trap.
The Earth Mother Rhea convinced Cronus, the youngest of the seven Titans, to attack their father, Uranus. Cronus castrated his sleeping father with a sickle. After having thrown Uranus’ testicles into the sea, Cronus became the sovereign of the Earth.
The cult of Cybele has its root in Phrygia, but she was familiar to the Greeks and had connections with Greek gods. She was raised by lionesses and was the keeper of the key of richness.
A story says she was sleeping on the ground in the shade of some trees when Zeus noticed her. Watching her rest so peacefully, he felt aroused and masturbated.
Agditis, a hermaphrodite, sprang from the semen that spilled on the ground. The gods, convinced that he represented a serious threat to their power, emasculated him, and from his blood sprouted an almond tree... (see Nana)
Daedalus and Icarus
Minos was so mad at Daedalus for having explained to Ariadne how to help Theseus that he imprisoned him and his son Icarus in the labyrinth. The only way out was to fly. Daedalus fastened on some wings made of feathers and beeswax. Before their attempt to escape, Daedalus advised his son not to fly too near the waves nor too close to the sun. Ignoring his father's advice, Icarus flew too high, and as the sun melted the wax, the feathers fell off of the wings and Icarus drowned in the sea.
An oracle warned King Acrisius that the son of his daughter Danae would ultimately cause his fall. To prevent this calamity, he locked Danae (who had not yet conceived any child) in a dungeon isolated from any male contact. But Zeus, in the form of a golden rain shower, fell through the bars and impregnated Danae. As a result, she gave birth to Perseus.
This story begins with a challenge between Apollo and Eros to see who was the more skilled archer. Eros made his point by shooting an arrow into Apollo, who then fell in love with Daphne. He began to court the mountain nymph, but she ignored him. As this continued, his flirting became increasingly insistent. Soon, he was chasing her. She ran fast, but he ran faster, and when she was on the verge of being caught, helped by her father, Peneus, she transformed into a laurel tree.
Dejanira was the wife of Heracles. Once, she was almost raped by the centaur Nessus, but Heracles rescued her by killing him with a poisoned arrow. Before dying, though, Nessus made Dejanira believe that a mixture of his semen and his blood with olive oil would prevent Heracles from being unfaithful.
When Dejanira grew older, Heracles started to find her less attractive and began looking for a younger wife. This made Dejanira very sad, and when Heracles asked her to bring him a fresh shirt for a sacrifice ceremony, she gave him one with Nessus’ mixture. When Heracles wore the shirt, it caught fire and could not be extinguished, so he died in agony.
Dionysus, the son of Zeus and Semele, was the god of wine and ecstasy (* another version of his resurrection is Zagreus’ story)
Dionysus as a Child
To conceal him from the infuriated Hera (see Athena Salvaging the Heart of Zagreus),
Dionysus was taken to Nysa, where he was raised and dressed like a girl. It was during his childhood that he invented wine.
She is the goddess of chaos, strife, conflict. When she heard that Peleus and Tethis were celebrating their wedding and that everyone was invited but her; in the middle of the festivities, she threw the golden apple on which was engraved “to the fairest one”. Incident that lead to the Trojan war...
Eros and his FollowersI
In representations from the Renaissance and in our tradition of Valentine's day, Eros/Cupid is often represented as a plump cherub (see Aphrodite and Eros), but in Greek antiquity, he has been represented as a winged young man. One very interesting representation of the god that I have seen is a small terracotta figure probably used on a home altar. The god holds a phiale (offering dish) in his right hand and a big bird (duck or chicken) in his left.
Eros and Psyche
At the time, Psyche was the most beautiful woman alive. This made Aphrodite jealous. She decided to send her son Eros to shoot an arrow and make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. But the plan did not work because Eros pricked himself accidentaly with one of his own arrows.
Eurynome and Ophion
Eurynome was the source of all Creation. She made Earth, Ocean, and separated light from darkness. To warm herself, she danced above the ocean and rubbed her hands together, forming from the north wind a big snake she called Ophion. They danced together and mated. She laid an egg and turned herself into a dove to hatch it, the asked Ophion to curl seven times around it. Then, it cracked and everything that came into existence came from that shell. Ophion tried to convince himself and the rest of the world that he was at the origin of Creation. This made Eurynome very angry to see how Ophion bragged and took credit that he didn't deserve. With her heel, she kicked his teeth out of his mouth and threw him directly into the Tartarus.
The Gorgon is a scary winged female creature who’s hair is entwined with living snakes, who’s hands are made of bronze and nose looks like a boar tusk. The Gorgon could paralyse anyone who looked into her eyes but Perseus was able to defeat the Gorgon Medusa by using a shield as polished as a mirror, she froze like a stone when she saw her own reflection.
Helios, or Helius, is the god of Sun and the father of Pasiphae and Circe. In a golden cart pulled by two magnificent horses, he journeys every day from the East to the West. And at night, he rests in a golden palace. He has the power to see everything that happens on Earth, and he reports it to the gods.
Hephaestus is the son of Hera and Zeus. At his birth, he was very feeble Hera was
so ashamed of his weakness that she threw him from the mount Olympus to the bottom
of the Ocean, where he was raised by Thetis and Eurynome. His impact after that nine-
Hera and the Cuckoo
Zeus tried to seduce his twin sister Hera but failed. When he turned himself into a pitiful cuckoo, she felt sorry for him and warmed him in her bosom. Then, he resumed his natural appearance and satisfied his desire. At this point, she had no choice but to marry him.
Heracles and Omphale
Heracles is one of the most important heroes of Greek mythology and is considered by the Athenians as a great figure, but he was a bully and a murderer. At the time, if you committed murder, you were ostracized or had to make penitence in one way or another. To compensate for the slaying of Iphitus, Heracles was sold as a slave to Queen Omphale. He had to stay with her for one year and became her obedient lover. To please her, he had to wear women’s clothes.
Hermaphroditus and Salmacis
Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. At fifteen he decided to travel the world. After a long day walk he decided to bath in the limpid water of a spring that belonged to the nymph Salmacis. As soon as she saw how handsome he was, she fell madly in love, she tried to seduce him but was firmly rebuffed. She did not give up her lust and embraced him by force, she fervently prayed the gods to never be parted from him. Her wishes were granted, both bodies merged into one having the singularity of having both sexes. Hermaphroditus asked Aphrodite and Hermes that anyone who would bath in the pool would be transformed the same way he has been.
Hermes son of Zeus and Maia was a “multipurpose god”, being smart and inventive, he was the god of thieves, merchants, messengers, travelers, doctors, alchemists, musician, shepherds etc... In ancient Greece, statues representing Hermes were used to show directions, he was wearing flying sandals and the herald wand. With a tortoise shell he created the firs lyre, he took care of the transaction to sell Heracles to the queen Omphale, he helped Odysseus by giving him an antidote against Circe’s magic potion, with Hephaestus he helped Zeus to give birth to Athena, he also sew Dionysus in Zeus’ thigh to allow the gestation to complete.
At the wedding of Hippodamia and Pirithoos, the centaurs were invited to the banquet, but they were unused to drinking wine. When they got intoxicated, they tried to abduct and rape Hippodamia and her female guests.
In the end, Pirithoos, with the help of his best friend Theseus, triumphed over the centaurs.
Hypnos and Endymion
To please Selena, Zeus sentenced the beautiful Endymion to eternal sleep, Hypnos touched by the young man handsomeness fell in love and granted him the power to have his eyes open when sleeping.
If Zeus were living in contemporary times, he would definitely be registered as a sexual offender.
Zeus “fell in love” with the nymph Io. He then covered the earth with darkness and seduced her. To conceal Io from the jealous Hera, he turned her into a cow. Unfortunately, Hera then claimed that she wanted the cow as a gift, and Zeus could not refuse. Thus, Io was sent to graze in the meadows under the surveillance of Argos.
Iphimedia was already married to Aloeus who gave her two sons but she was desperately in love with Poseidon (her grandfather (?)). Everyday she used to go to the shore and poured seawater on her breast to be noticed by the god. Finally, her wishes were fulfilled when Poseidon came to her and impregnated the young woman of two another sons.
Janus and Camese
Janus is a Roman god, he is associated with the idea of thansition, beginning and time ( he is at the origine of the month January) he shared the kingdom of Latinum with his wife the queen Camese. In other versions of the myth, Camese was a man.
Judgment of Paris
Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Tethis (parents to Achilles). Therefore, in order to ruin the celebration, she rolled a golden apple into the party where the other goddesses chatted. On this apple was engraved the words: "to the fairest”.
Hera, Aphrodite and Athena each claimed the apple as their own and turned to Zeus to decide who deserved the award most. He declined the responsibility and declared that Paris would make a better judge. Each of the three goddesses then tried to influence this mortal's choice. Athena promised wisdom, Hera wealth and Aphrodite the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. The apple went to Aphrodite, and so Paris abducted Helen and that is what prompted the Trojan War.
Leda and the Swan
The strategy Zeus used to seduce Leda is very similar to the one he used to coax Hera when he took the guise of a cuckoo (see Hera and the Cuckoo), but this time he turned himself into a beautiful swan. The swan was in great danger, being threatened by an eagle, and in compassion, Leda let him seek protection in her arms. Then, he was able to have his way with her. That was how Helen was conceived.
From her union with Zeus, Leda laid two eggs: one containing Clytemnestra and Helen and the other the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux
After having satisfied her lust for the white bull (See Pasiphae and the Cow of Daedalus), Pasiphae gave birth to the Minotaur (literally meaning “the bull Minos”), a child with a human body and the a bovine head. The Minos family was so ashamed of such an offspring that they decided to hide it from the view of the people in a secluded place with high walls – the labyrinth, designed by Daedalus.
Nana (see Cybele)
The nymph Nana passed by the almond tree and decided to lie down and rest in its shade. An almond fell on her lap and impregnated her. She gave birth to Attis, a boy she later abandoned, who was then brought up by goats. When he grew up, he became Cybele's lover.
This is the story of a beautiful young man (probably not very bright) who let himself die of despair for having fell in love with his own reflection in the water of a fountain. His death transformed him into a beautiful flower, the Narcissus.
Nike is a winged goddess who personifies victory. Like her sibling, Kratos (strength ), Bia (force), and Zelus (zeal), she accompanies Zeus and Athena in their various battles. Nike is strong and quick.
Orpheus was a very talented musician. On the day of his wedding, his wife Eurydice was bitten by a poisonous snake. Inconsolable over her death, he went to the underworld to bring her back. He played music so well that Hades agreed to release Eurydice on the condition that he not look back while she was following him home. Unfortunately, during the long journey from the underworld, Orpheus could not resist the urge to make sure that she was still following him, and so he lost her for the second time, this time forever.
Pan and Dionysus
Pan is the god of shepherds, nature and the fields, and he is represented as having the body of a man and the legs and horns of a goat. As he is connected to nymphs, he also accompanies Dionysus in his cult's celebrations and is often represented alongside the god of wine and ecstatic trance. Greeks believed that he had the power to cause a sudden feeling of fear in soldiers on the battlefield. This belief is the origin of the word “panic”.
Prometheus stole from Zeus the art of making fire and gave it to mortals. As retaliation, Zeus commissioned Hephaestus to create the first woman, Pandora, who was to be given to humankind. Each god gave her a gift, such as beauty, intelligence, grace, and the contribution of Hephaestus was to give her deceit. She was sent to humanity as a punishment. A mysterious box was been given to her; as soon as she reached earth she could not help opening the box and releasing calamities.
Pasiphae and the Cow of Daedalus (see Pasiphae and the White Bull)
Pasiphae and the White Bull
Passiphae, the daughter Helios, was given in marriage to the king of Crete, Minos. Minos was devoted to the cult of Poseidon, and slaughtered a bull to honor the god on a regular basis. But one time, the beautiful white bull he had to sacrifice was so exceptional that he refused to slaughter it and chose instead to sacrifice a more ordinary animal. Poseidon perceived it as a serious offense. As a result, the god cursed the queen so that she fell desperately in love with the white bull. She could hardly control the lust she felt for the beast and confided her feelings to Daedalus, who was the engineer of the court. For her, Daedalus conceived and built a hollow wooden cow that was to be left in the bull's pen. Pasiphae would have to slip inside the artificial cow and wait for the bull. The scheme was successful and Pasiphae satisfied her lust. That was how the minotaur was conceived.
Peleus and Thetis
Zeus would have married Thetis if an oracle had not said that her son would be far more powerful than his father. Hence he chose Peleus to be Thetis' husband. Thetis felt contempt toward mortals, which is why Peleus had to be cautious if he wanted to approach the goddess successfully in Cheiron's cave. He hid behind a bush, and when she arrived, he tried to seize her. To escape, she took the shape of many animals in rapid succession. Peleus knew what to expect because Cheiron had warned him, so he held her tightly until she metamorphosed into an octopus. He wouldn’t let her go, so she finally gave up. Then, they got married.
Penelope saved by the birds
When she heard the rumor about the death of Odysseus was spreading everywhere, desperate Penelope tried to commit suicide by throwing herself from a cliff. The birds knew perfectly well that Odysseus was alive, they carried Penelope away from the sea to a safest place. This made Penelope confident about her husband fate.
Phaedra was married to Theseus, who had a son named Hippolytus from a previous union with an Amazon called Antiope. Like his mother, he was devoted to the cult of Artemis and erected a temple to honor the virgin goddess. Perceiving his devotion as a personal offense, Aphrodite made Phaedra fall obsessively in love with him as a punishment. When Phaedra confessed in a letter to stepson how she was passionately in love with him, he burned the letter and rebuffed her advances. Unable to handle the frustration, she tore her clothes as if she had been attacked and screamed that he tried to rape her. Then, she hanged herself in despair.
Polyphemus, Galatea and the infortunate Acis
The cyclops Polyphemus was in love with the nereid Galatea, but she was il love with Acis. Frustrated, Polyphemus get rid of his rival by crushing him with a boulder. The grieving Galatea turned Acis’s blood into a river that is still running in Sicily .
When Eros fell in love with Psyche, he brought her to his palace where she was to spend all day alone, served by invisible servants. At night, when it was too dark to be seen, he would return, make love to her, and then leave at the first glow of dawn.
Punishment of Hera
Homer , The Iliad Volume I book xv. Translated by Samuel Butler
Pygmalion was a very talented sculptor who was devoted to the cult of Aphrodite. He was not interested in women but fell in love with an ivory statue he had carved for the goddess' altar. Aphrodite, touched by his devotion, rewarded him by giving life to the statue .
Rape of Europa
In Greek antiquity, bulls and cows were highly esteemed as animals – they were important for the subsistence of the community and also for their spiritual role as sacrifices to the gods. Furthermore, prophecies were read from their intestines. When Zeus metamorphosed into a magnificent bull, it could not go unnoticed by Europa. The princess approached the bull and found him very placid. She started to pet him and adorn his horns with flowers. Then, when she felt more confident, she tried to ride the animal. He started to run and would not be stop, even when he entered the sea. He swam, Europa clinging to his back, until they reached the shore of Crete, where he raped her and she gave birth to Minos.
Tyche is the goddess who personifies fortune. She was represented as blind and with towers balanced on top of her head. She was the protector of cities.
Zeus and Ganymede
Zeus fell in love with Ganymede, a beautiful young Trojan prince, so he sent an eagle to abduct the young man and brought him to mount Olympus to serve as a cup bearer.