Galatea was the statue Pygmalion, her creator, fell in love with.Impressed by the sculptor’s love for the statue, Afrodita gave life to Galatea. This is my watercolor painting of Aphrodite giving life to the statue
In Greek mythology, Danaë was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Eurydice (no relation to Orpheus’ Eurydice). She was the mother of Perseus by Zeus. She was sometimes credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium.
Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, Acrisius asked an oracle if this would change. The oracle told him to go to the Earth’s end where he would be killed by his daughter’s child. She was childless and, meaning to keep her so, he shut her up in a bronze tower or cave. But Zeus came to her in the form of rain or a shower of gold, and impregnated her. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.
None too happy, but unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods by killing his offspring, Acrisius cast the two into the sea in a wooden chest. The sea was calmed by Poseidon at the request of Zeus and the pair survived. They washed ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were taken in by Dictys, the brother of King Polydectes, who raised the boy to manhood.
Later, after Perseus killed Medusa and rescued Andromeda, the oracle’s prophecy came true.
He started for Argos, but learning of the prophecy instead went to Larissa, where athletic games were being held. By chance Acrisius was there, and Perseus accidentally struck him with his javelin (or discus), fulfilling the prophecy. Too shamed to return to Argos he then gave the kingdom to Megapenthes, son of Proetus (Acrisius’ brother) and took over his kingdom of Tiryns, also founding Mycenae and Midea there.
Sappho was born around 615 B.C. on the N.E. Aegean island of Lesbos in the Pre-classical Greek period at the very foundation of the later Greek Democracy. This was an exciting new time, and Sappho was involved with all the changes that occurred. For example, the Greek alphabet had just been invented, coin money was minted for the first time, the political system had changed radically, and the arts were vigorously renewed. Sappho was greatly loved throughout antiquity both for her personal qualities and creativity. She was widely acclaimed for the astonishing beauty and originality of her lyric poetry which she brilliantly perfected. Poetry in her day was usually accompanied by music and dance. Sappho was so accomplished at composing in all three modes, that she acquired the reputation for being the Divine Inspiration of the Muses. She was held in high esteem and copied even 500 years after her death. However, for the past two thousand years, her work has been fragmented and distorted. Absurd myths have been attached to her name by the patriarchy
The Greek name for the Milky way (Ãáëáîßáò Galaxias) is derived from the word for milk (ãÜëá, gala). One legend explains how the Milky Way was created by Heracles when he was a baby. His father, Zeus, was fond of his son, who was born of the mortal woman Alcmene. He decided to let the infant Heracles suckle on his divine wife Hera’s milk when she was asleep, an act which would endow the baby with godlike qualities. When Hera woke up and realized that she was breastfeeding an unknown infant, she pushed him away and the spurting milk became the Milky Way.
The legend of Minthe
Minthe (or Mintha) was a Naiad Nymph of Mount Minthe in Elis, southern Greece who was loved by the god Hades. When she claimed to be superior to Persephone, the goddess transformed her into a mint plant.
Bacchus was the god of wine and of the special form of inspiration that wine brings. His divinity was eventually to be acknowledged across the ancient world, but that did not happen without opposition. The last of the myths of Bacchus belong to the period that followed his ascent to mount Olympos, and they tell how it came about that his divine power was asserted and his opponents were finally defeated.
Strangely, the opposition to Bacchus was at its strongest in the very region of Greece where he was conceived.
There is a small, ancient city in Boiotia, Orchomenos, forty miles from Thebes. Orchomenos, its founder, was the son of Zeus and Danae (one of Semele’s predecessors). His son Minyas was now king of Orchomenos, and he had three daughters, Leukippe, Arsippe and Alkithoe.
They were good, hard-working, home-loving girls. They loved their husbands, says Aelian, who gives an outline of their story in his Miscellany. They loved their spinning, according to Ovid, and they saw no reason to interrupt their quiet pleasures because the priest of Bacchus had announced a festival for the new god. What was more, they saw no reason to give their servants a holiday.
Elsewhere in Orchomenos – and elsewhere in Boiotia – noblewomen and slaves side by side wrapped fawnskins around their shoulders and unfastened the ribbons that usually tied their hair. They put on wreaths of vine and ivy, and each carried a thyrsos, as they set out towards the mountains at nightfall to enact the traditional ritual that young Bacchus and his Mainads had established. The lines of ever-moving torches grew longer and reached higher towards the sky. The household of Minyas and his daughters worked as hard as ever. Can it be that they were worshippers not of Bacchus but of Hera, who favours married love and dutiful households? They spun and wove and made sure that their servants worked alongside them.
One unexpected detail is provided by Antoninus Liberalis in a collection of mythical tales called Metamorphoses; he drew on the work of a local Boiotian poetess, Corinna of Tanagra, according to whom Bacchus himself visited the recalcitrant household of Minyas and for this purpose temporarily adopted the shape and the persuasive tones of a young girl.
‘All the women of Orchomenos are on their way to the mountains,’ she said. ‘Will you not join them in the worship of Bacchus?’
They seemed not to be listening.
‘This new god is powerful,’ she continued modestly, ‘and he has much to offer to us mortals.’
They were not interested.
‘It is said that he becomes impatient with those who reject him, and uses his power to punish such people.’
They changed the subject.
Bacchus found that he was becoming impatient. He turned into a lion cub, and that new shape, though it left him unable to use human speech for persuasion, did at least monopolise the attention of the household of Minyas. The lion cub glanced for a moment at the beams that formed the frame of the loom at which some of the women were working. In response to that glance, milk and honey began to drip from the ends of the beams. Then he turned into a leopard, and at the same moment the flow of milk became a river of wine. Then he became a bull. And during these transformations the noise of unseen drums, cymbals and flutes was heard through the house. The sacred scent of myrrh and saffron filled the air. The half-finished tapestry on the loom developed leaves and tendrils and turned itself into a flourishing vine.
The daughters of Minyas were never truly conscious of the powers of the god that they had scorned. Until this moment they had been composedly scornful of the new religion and its demands. Now, as the house was transformed around them, Bacchus entered their minds, as gods can, and their terror and confusion led them beyond all understanding.
They knew at once that a sacrifice must be made to lessen his anger. That was almost all that they knew … but no: they remembered having had a way of choosing when some unwelcome task had to be allotted to one of the three. They threw three pebbles, each of a different colour, into an earthenware jug, and a servant reached in blindly to bring out one of them. It was Leukippe’s. She must provide the sacrifice. So Leukippe called for her son, Hippasos, and when he came she seized hold of him and held him down. Then, helped by her two sisters, she tore him to pieces. As was proper at sacrifices, she burned the fat from his body on an altar; the flesh they themselves tasted. At last, with the blood of Hippasos still running from their lips and spattering all their clothes, the three sisters made their way towards the mountain. The rest of the womenfolk of Orchomenos were meanwhile returning, but the daughters of Minyas remained there, feeding on ivy leaves, bindweed and bay.
Eventually Hermes, aware of their apparently endless confusion, ended it by turning them into three creatures of the air, a real metamorphosis succeeding the false one. Leukippe became a bat, Arsippe a little owl and Alkithoe an eagle owl. All three of these hate the sunlight, Antoninus Liberalis observes. Ovid, however, says that it was Bacchus himself, not Hermes, who effected the transformation, and all three became bats. As Ovid tells it, on a certain night so dark that they could not see what was happening to them, all three of the sisters felt that skinny membranes were growing along their arms and legs, and they themselves were shrinking. Although they had no feathers they found that they could fly, and that is what they have done ever since, every night, still continuing their complaints in thin, high-pitched, reedy voices. Appropriately, since they had been so reluctant to go to the woods and hills with the Mainads, they now do not haunt the woods and wild places, as birds do, but attics, roofs and barns.
The story of the daughters of Minyas is told by Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 10, citing Korinna and Nikandros; also by Aelian, Miscellany 3.42; Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.1-415; Plutarch, Greek Questions 38. For the momentary idea of Pentheus’s mother and sisters that they will feast on the flesh that they have killed — on Pentheus himself, in effect — see Euripides, Bakchai 1184 with E. R. Dodds’s note in his commentary on this passage
This is my painting of the daughters of Minyas
Jupiter and Callisto