1000 Mythological Characters Briefly Described
Funerals, see Libitina, and Manes.
Furies, The, were the three daughters of Acheron and Nox. They were the punishers of evil-doers. Their names were Tisiphone, Megaera, and Alecto, and were supposed to personify rage, slaughter, and envy.
Futurity, see Cassandra.
Gallantes (Gallan′tes), madmen, from Galli (which see).
Galli (Gal′li) were priests of Cybele who used to cut their arms with knives when they sacrificed, and acted so like madmen that demented people got the name of Gallantes.
Ganesa (Gan′esa). The Indian Mercury. The god of wisdom and prudence.
Ganga. One of the three Indian river goddesses.
Gardens, see Pomona (goddess of fruit-trees).
Gautama (Gau′tama) (Buddha). The chief deity of Burmah.
Genii were domestic divinities. Every man was supposed to have two of these genii accompanying him; one brought him happiness, the other misery.
Genitor (Gen′itor). A Lycian name of Jupiter.
Geometry, see Mercury.
Geryon (Ge′ryon) was a triple-bodied monster who lived at Gades, where his numerous flocks were guarded by Orthos, a two-headed dog, and by Eurythion, a seven-headed dragon. These guardians were destroyed by Hercules, and the cattle taken away.
Gimlet, see Daedalus.
Girdle, see Cestus (Venus’s).
Glaucus (Glau′cus) was a fisherman who became a sea-god through eating a sea-weed, which he thought invigorated the fishes and might strengthen him.
Glaukopis (Glauko′pis). A name given to Minerva, because she had blue eyes.
Gnomes (Gno′mes), a name given by Plato to the invisible deities who were supposed to inhabit the earth.
Goat, see Iphigenia, Mendes, and Venus.
Goat’s Feet, see Capripedes.
Golden Fleece, The, was a ram’s hide, sometimes described as white, and at other times as purple and golden. It was given to Phryxus, who carried it to Colchis, where King Aeetes entertained Phryxus, and the hide was hung up in the grove of Mars. Jason and forty-nine companions fetched back the golden fleece. See Argonauts.
Gopya (Gopy′a). Indian mythological nymphs.
Gorgons, The (Gor′gons), were three sisters, named Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa. They petrified every one they looked at. Instead of hair their heads were covered with vipers. Perseus conquered them, and cut off the head of Medusa, which was placed on the shield of Minerva, and all who fixed their eyes thereon were turned into stone.
Graces, The, were the attendants of Venus. Their names were, Aglaia, so called from her beauty and goodness; Thalia, from her perpetual freshness; and Euphrosyne, from her cheerfulness. They are generally depicted as three cheerful maidens with hands joined, and either nude or only wearing transparent robes—the idea being that kindnesses, as personified by the Graces, should be done with sincerity and candor, and without disguise. They were supposed to teach the duties of gratitude and friendship, and they promoted love and harmony among mankind.
[Pg 60] Graces (fourth), see Pasithea.
Gradivus (Grad′ivus). A name given to Mars by the Romans. It meant the warrior who defended the city against all external enemies.
Gragus (Gra′gus). The name by which Jupiter was worshiped in Lycia.
Granaries, see Tutelina.
Grapsios (Grap′sios). A Lycian name of Jupiter.
Grasshopper, see Tithonus.
Grief, see Niobe.
Hailstorms, see Nuriel.
Halcyons (Halcy′ons) were sea birds, supposed to be the Greek kingfishers. They made their nests on the waves, and during the period of incubation the sea was always calm. Hence the modern term Halcyon Days.
Hamadryades (Hamadry′ades) were wood-nymphs, who presided over trees.
Happiness, see Genii.
Haroeris (Haroe′ris). The Egyptian god, whose eyes are the sun and moon.
[Pg 61] Harpies, The (Har′pies), (literally, snatchers, demons of destruction, or, in the modern sense, extortioners). They were monsters, half-birds, half-maidens, having the heads and breasts of women, the bodies of birds, and the claws of lions. Their names were Aello, Ocypete, and Celeno. They were loathsome creatures, living in filth, and poisoning everything they came in contact with.
Heaven never summoned from the depth of hell.
A virgin face, with wings and hookèd claws,
Death in their eyes, and famine in their jaws,
While proof to steel their hides and plumes remain
We strike the impenetrable fiends in vain.”
Harpikruti (Harpi′kruti). The Egyptian name of the god Harpocrates.
Harpocrates (Harpoc′rates), or Horus, an Egyptian god, son of Osiris and Isis. He was the god of silence and secrecy. He is usually represented as a young man, holding a finger of one hand to his lips (expressive of a command to preserve silence), while in the other hand he holds a cornucopia, signifying early vegetation.
Harvest, see Segetia. A Roman divinity, invoked by the husbandman that the harvest might be plentiful.
Hawk, see Nysus.
Hazis (Ha′zis). The Syrian war-god.
Health, see Hygeia and Salus.
Heaven, Queen of, (Hea′ven) see Belisama. God of, see Coelus.
[Pg 62] Hebe (He′be), daughter of Zeus (Jupiter) and Hera (Juno), was the goddess of youth. She was cup-bearer to Jupiter and the gods, until she had an awkward fall at a festival, causing her to alight in an indecent posture, which so displeased Jupiter that she was deprived of her office, and Ganymede was appointed in her stead.
Hecate (Hec′ate). There were two goddesses known by this name, but the one generally referred to in modern literature is Hecate, or Proserpine, the name by which Diana was known in the infernal regions. In heaven her name was Luna, and her terrestrial name was Diana. She was a moon-goddess, and is generally represented in art with three bodies, standing back to back, a torch, a sword, and a lance in each right hand.
Hecuba (Hec′uba). The wife of Priam, king of Troy, and mother of Paris. Taken captive in the Trojan war, she fell to the lot of Ulysses after the destruction of Troy, and was afterwards changed into a hound.
Heifer, see Ino.
[Pg 63] Helena (Hel′ena) when a child was so beautiful that Theseus and Perithous stole her, but she was restored by Castor and Pollux. She became the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, but eloped with Paris, and thus caused the Trojan War. After the death of Paris she married Deiphobus, his brother, and then betrayed him to Menelaus. She was afterward tied to a tree and strangled by order of Polyxo, king of Rhodes.
Heliades, The (He′liades), were the daughters of Sol, and the sisters of Phaeton, at whose death they were so sad that they stood mourning till they became metamorphosed into poplar trees, and their tears were turned into amber.
Helicon (Hel′icon). A mountain in Boeotia sacred to the Muses, from which place the fountain Hippocrene flowed.
And sings of Helicon’s bright streams;
But Helicon for all his clatter
Yields only uninspiring water.”
Heliconiades (Helico′niades). A name given to the Muses, from Mount Helicon.
Heliopolis (Heliop′olis), in Egypt, was the city of the sun.
Helios (He′lios). The Grecian sun-god, or charioteer of the sun, who went home every evening in a golden boat which had wings.
[Pg 64] Helle (Hel′le) was drowned in the sea, into which she fell from off the back of the golden ram, on which she and Phryxus were escaping from the oppression of their stepmother Ino. The episode gave the name of the Hellespont to the part of the sea where Helle was drowned, and it is now called the Dardanelles. She was the daughter of Athamas and Nephele.
Hellespontiacus (Hellespontia′cus). A title of Priapus.
Hemphta (Hemph′ta). The Egyptian god Jupiter.
Hephaestus (Hephaes′tus). The Greek Vulcan, the smith of the gods.
Hera (He′ra). The Greek name of Juno.
Heracles (Her′acles) is the same as Hercules.
Hercules (Her′cules) was the son of Jupiter and Alcmena. The goddess Juno hated him from his birth, and sent two serpents to kill him, but though only eight months old he strangled them. As he got older he was set by his master Eurystheus what were thought to be twelve impossible tasks which have long been known as the “Twelve Labors of Hercules.” They were:
First, To slay the Nemean Lion.
Second, To destroy the Hydra which infested the marshes of Lerna.
Third, To bring to Eurystheus the Arcadian Stag with the golden horns and brazen hoofs.
Fourth, To bring to his master the Boar of Erymanthus.
[Pg 65] Fifth, To cleanse the stable of King Augeas, in which 3,000 oxen had been kept for thirty years, but had never been cleaned out.
Sixth, To destroy the Stymphalides, terrible carnivorous birds.
Seventh, To capture the Bull which was desolating Crete.
Eighth, To capture the mares of Diomedes, which breathed fire from their nostrils, and ate human flesh.
Ninth, To procure the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons.
Eleventh, To bring away some of the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides.
All these tasks he successfully accomplished, and, besides, he assisted the gods in their wars with the giants. Several other wonderful feats are mentioned under other headings, as Antaeus, Cacus, etc. His death was brought about through his endeavors to preserve Deianira from the attacks of Nessus, the centaur, whom he killed. The centaur, before he expired, gave his mystic tunic to Deianira, who in turn gave it to Hercules, and he put it on, but his doing so brought on an illness of which he could not be cured. In a fit of desperation he cast himself into a funeral pile on Mount Oeta; but Jupiter had him [Pg 66] taken to heaven in a four-horse chariot, and only the mortal part of Hercules was consumed.
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.”
Herdsmen, see Bubona.
Hermanubis (Her′manu′bis), see Anubis.
Hermathenae (Hermathe′nae) were statues of Mercury and Minerva placed together.
Hermes (Her′mes). A Greek name of the god Mercury.
Hermione (Hermi′one), daughter of Mars and Venus, who was turned into a serpent, and allowed to live in the Elysian Fields. There was another Hermione, daughter of Menelaus and Helen; she was betrothed to Orestes, but was carried away by Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles.
Hero (He′ro). A priestess of Venus, with whom Leander was so enamored that he swam across the Hellespont every night to visit her, but at last was drowned; when Hero saw the fate of her lover she threw herself into the sea and was also drowned.
Heroes, see Valhalla.
And those happy climes that lie
Where day never shuts his eye,
Upon the broad fields of the sky:
There I suck the liquid air,
All amidst the gardens fair
Of Hesperus and his daughters three,
That sing about the golden tree.”
Hestia (Hes′tia). The Greek name of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth.
Hieroglyphics (Hierogly′phics), see Mercury.
Highways, see Janus.
Hildur (Hil′dur). The Scandinavian Mars.
Hippia (Hip′pia). A surname of Minerva.
Hippius (Hip′pius). A surname of Neptune.
Hippocampus (Hippocam′pus). The name of Neptune’s favorite horse, a fabulous marine animal, half horse and half fish.
Hippocrenides (Hippocre′nides), a name of the Muses, from the fountain of Hippocrene (the horse fountain), which was formed by a kick of the winged horse Pegasus.
Hippolyte (Hippol′yte), queen of the Amazons, daughter of Mars. Her father gave her a famous girdle, which Hercules was required to procure (see [Pg 68] Hercules). She was conquered by Hercules, and given by him in marriage to Theseus.
Hippona (Hippo′na) was a rural divinity, the goddess of horses.
History, see Clio and Saga.
Honey, see Aristaeus and Dryads.
Hope, see Pandora.
Horae (Ho′rae) were the daughters of Sol and Chronis, the goddesses of the seasons.
Horse, see Cyllaros.
Horse Races, see Neptune.
Horses, see Hippona.
Hortensis (Horten′sis), a name of Venus, because she looked after plants and flowers in gardens.
Horus (Ho′rus). The name of two deities, one Sol, the Egyptian day god; the other, the son of Osiris and Isis. See Harpocrates.
Hostilina (Hostil′ina). A rural divinity; goddess of growing corn.
Hunger, see Erisichthon.
Hunting, see Diana.
Huntsmen, see Pan.
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Hydra (Hy′dra). A monster serpent, which had a hundred heads. It was slain by Hercules. See Hercules.
Hylas (Hy′las). A beautiful boy beloved by Hercules. The nymphs were jealous of him, and spirited him away while he was drawing water for Hercules. See Wm. Morris’s tragedy, “The Life and Death of Jason.”
Hymen (Hy′men), the Grecian god of marriage, was either the son of Bacchus and Venus, or, as some say, of Apollo and one of the Muses. He was represented as a handsome youth, holding in his hand a burning torch.
Who barter youth and bloom for gold:
But Hymen, gen’rous, just, and kind,
Abhors the mercenary mind;
Such rebels groan beneath his rod,
For Hymen’s a vindictive god.”
Dr. Cotton, 1736.
Hymn, see Paean.
Hypermnestra (Hypermnes′tra). One of the fifty daughters of Danaus, who were collectively called the Danaides. She was the one who refused to kill her husband on the wedding night. See Danaus.