1000 Mythological Characters Briefly Described
They came, that like Pomona’s arbor smiled
With flowerets decked and fragrant smells.”
Poplar-Tree, see Heliades.
Poseidon (Posei′don). The Greek name of Neptune, god of the sea.
Pracriti (Prac′riti). The Hindoo goddess of nature.
Predictions, see Cassandra.
Priapus (Pria′pus), the guardian of gardens and god of natural reproduction, was the son of Venus and Bacchus.
Prisca (Pris′ca). Another name of Vesta.
From hence the wretched Progne sought relief.”
Prometheus (Prome′theus), the son of Japetus and father of Deucalion. He presumed to make clay men, and animate them with fire which he had [Pg 118] stolen from heaven. This so displeased Jupiter that he sent him a box full of evils, which Prometheus refused; but his brother Epimetheus, not so cautious, opened it, and the evils spread over all the earth. Jupiter then punished Prometheus by commanding Mercury to bind him to Mount Caucasus, where a vulture daily preyed upon his liver, which grew in the night as much as it had been reduced in the day, so that the punishment was a prolonged torture. Hercules at last killed the vulture and set Prometheus free.
Prophecy, see Nereus.
Proserpine (Proser′pine). A daughter of Jupiter and Ceres. Pluto carried her off to the infernal regions and made her his wife. She was known by the names of “the Queen of Hell,” Hecate, Juno Inferna, and Libitina. She was called by the Greeks Persephone.
To hear the poet’s prayer,
Stern Proserpine relented,
And gave him back the fair.”
The secret cause of Bacchus’ rage divined.”
Pygmalion (Pygma′lion). A famous sculptor who had resolved to remain unmarried, but he made such a beautiful statue of a goddess that he begged Venus to give it life. His request being granted, Pygmalion married the animated statue.
Pylotis (Pylo′tis). A Greek name of Minerva.
Pyracmon (Pyr′acmon), one of the chiefs of the Cyclopes.
Pyrois (Py′rois) (luminous). One of the four chariot horses of Sol, the Sun.
Quies (Qui′es). The Roman goddess of rest; she had a temple just outside the Colline gate of Rome.
Quietus (Quie′tus). One of the names of Pluto.
Quirinus (Quiri′nus). A name given to Mars during wartime; Virgil refers to Jupiter under the same name.
Quoit, see Hyacinthus.
Race, see Atalanta.
Radamanthus (Radaman′thus), see Rhadamanthus.
Rage, see Furies.
Rainbow, see Iris.
Rama (Ra′ma). A Hindoo god, who was the terrestrial representative of Vishnu.
Ram’s Hide, see Golden Fleece.
Rembha (Rem′bha). The Hindoo goddess of pleasure.
Reproduction, see Priapus.
Rest, see Quies.
Revenge, see Ate.
And awful Rhadamanthus rules the state.
He hears and judges each committed crime,
Inquires into the manner, place, and time;
The conscious wretch must all his acts reveal,
Loth to confess, unable to conceal;
From the first moment of his vital breath,
To the last hour of unrepenting death.”
Rhetoric, see Calliope, also Polyhymnia.
Riches, see Plutus.
Riddle, see Sphinx.
Rimmon (Rim′mon). A Phrygian god of whom Milton says—
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abana and Pharpar, lucid streams.”
Riot, see Saturnalia.
River of Fire, see Phlegethon.
Roads, see Vialis.
Robber, see Cacus, Coeculus.
[Pg 122] Romulus (Rom′ulus). The traditional founder of Rome. He was a son of Mars and Ilia, and twin brother of Remus. The infants were thrown into the Tiber, but were miraculously saved and suckled by a she-wolf, till they were found by Faustulus, a shepherd, who brought them up. Remus was killed in a quarrel with his brother, and Romulus became the first King of Rome.
Rumia Dea (Rumi′a Dea). The Roman goddess of babes in arms.
Rumina (Ru′mina). Roman pastoral deities, who protected suckling cattle.
Runcina (Runci′na). The goddess of weeding or cleansing the ground.
Sacrifices were ceremonious offerings made to the gods. To every deity a distinct victim was allotted, and the greatest care was always taken in the selection of them. Anything in any way blemished was considered as an insult to the god. At the time of the sacrifice the people were called together by heralds led by a procession of musicians. The priest, clothed in white, was crowned with a wreath made of the leaves of the tree which was sacred to the particular god to whom the sacrifice was offered. The victim had its horns gilt, and was adorned with a chaplet similar to that of the priest, and was decorated with bright-colored ribbons. The [Pg 123] priest then said, “Who is here?” to which the spectators replied, “Many good people.” “Begone all ye who are profane,” said the priest; and he then began a prayer addressed to all the gods. The sacrifice was begun by putting corn, frankincense, flour, salt, cakes, and fruit on the head of the victim. This was called the Immolation. The priest then took a cup of wine, tasted it, and handed it to the bystanders to taste also; some of it was then poured between the horns of the victim, and a few of the saturated hairs were pulled off and put in the fire which was burning on the altar. Then, turning to the east, the priest drew with his knife a crooked line along the back of the beast from the head to the tail, and told the assistants to kill the animal. This was done directly, and the entrails of the victim taken out and carefully examined by the Haruspices to find out what was prognosticated. The carcase was then divided, and the thighs, covered with fat, were put in the fire, and the rest of the animal was cut up, cooked, and eaten. This feast was celebrated with dancing, music, and hymns, in praise of the god in whose honor the sacrifice was made. On great occasions as many as a hundred bullocks were offered at one time; and it is said that Pythagoras made this offering when he found out the demonstration of the forty-seventh proposition of the book of Euclid.
[Pg 124] Saga (Sa′ga). The Scandinavian goddess of history. The word means a saw or saying; hence Sagas, which embody Scandinavian legends, and heroic or mythical traditions.
Sagittarius (Sagitta′rius), see Chiron.
Sails, see Daedalus.
Salamanders (Sal′aman′ders). The genii who, according to Plato, lived in fire.
Mount up and take a Salamander’s name.”
Salii (Sal′ii). The priests of Mars who had charge of the sacred shields.
Salmoneus (Salmo′neus). A king of Elis who, for trying to imitate Jupiter’s thunders, was sent by the god straight to the infernal regions.
Salus (Sa′lus). The Roman goddess of health.
Sappho (Sap′pho), a celebrated poetess, a native of Lesbos, who flourished in the seventh century B.C. Her only connection with the goddesses of the time is that the Greeks called her “The tenth Muse.”
Sarcasm, see Momus.
Saron (Sa′ron), a sea-god.
[Pg 125] Saturn (Sat′urn), king of the Universe, was father of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. These gods quarreled amongst themselves as to the division of their father’s kingdom, which ended in Jupiter having heaven and earth, Neptune the sea, and Pluto the infernal regions.
Saturnalia (Saturna′lia). Festivals held in honor of Saturn about the 16th or 18th of December. Principally famous for the riotous disorder which generally attended them.
Saturnius (Satur′nius). A name given to Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, as sons of Saturn.
Satyavrata (Satya′vra′ta). The Hindoo god of law. The same as Menu.
Satyrs (Sat′yrs). Spirits of the woodland, half men, half goats, and fond of wine and women. They were the attendants of Dionysus, and were similar in most respects to the fauns who attended Pan. See Silenus.
. . . . . .
With asses’ hoofs, great goggle eyes,
And double chins of monstrous size.”
Scylla (Scyl′la). A beautiful nymph who excited the jealousy of Neptune’s wife, Amphitrite, and was changed by the goddess into a frightful sea-monster, which had six fearfully ugly heads and necks, and which, rising unexpectedly from the deep, used to take off as many as six sailors from a vessel, and carry them [Pg 126] to the bottom of the sea. An alternative danger with the whirlpool, Charybdis, which threatened destruction to all mariners.
Scylla (Scyl′la). A daughter of Nysus, who was changed into a lark for cutting off a charmed lock of her father’s hair. See Nysus.
Sea, see Neptune.
Seasons, see Vertumnus.
Sea-Weed, see Glaucus.
Segetia (Sege′tia). A rural divinity who protected corn during harvest-time.
Sem. The Egyptian Hercules.
Semele (Sem′ele), daughter of Cadmus and the mother of Bacchus (Dionysus), who was born in a miraculous manner after Jupiter had visited her, at her special request, in all his terrible splendor. She was deified after her death, and named Thyone.
Semi-Dei were the demi-gods.
Semones (Semo′nes). Roman gods of a class between the “immortal” and the “mortal,” such as the Satyrs and Fauns.
Seshanaga (Sesh′anag′a). The Egyptian Pluto.
Sewers, see Cloacina.
Sharp-sightedness, see Lynceus.
Shepherds, see Pan.
Shields, see Ancilia.
Ships, see Neptune.
Silence, see Harpocrates and Tacita.
Silenus (Sile′nus). A Bacchanalian demi-god, the chief of the Satyrs. He is generally represented as a fat, drunken old man, riding on an ass, and crowned with flowers.
Singing, see Polyhymnia, Thamyris.
Sirens, The (Si′rens). Sea nymphs, who by their music allured mariners to destruction. To avoid the [Pg 128] snare when nearing their abode, Ulysses had the ears of his companions stopped with wax, and had himself tied to the mast of his ship. They thus sailed past in safety; but the Sirens, thinking that their charms had lost their powers, drowned themselves.
Sisyphus (Sis′yphus), son of Aeolus and Enaretta. He was condemned to roll a stone to the top of a hill in the infernal regions, and as it rolled down again when he reached the summit, his punishment was perpetual.
A mournful vision! The Sisyphian shade.
With many a weary step and many a groan,
Up the high hill he leaves a huge round stone,
The huge round stone, resulting with a bound
Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the ground.”
Siva (Si′va). In Hindoo mythology the “changer of form.” He is usually spoken of as the “Destroyer and Regenerator.”
Slaughter, see Furies.
Slaves, see Feronia.
Sleep, see Caduceus, Morpheus, and Somnus.
Sleipner (Sleip′ner). The eight-legged horse of Odin, the chief of the Scandinavian gods.
See page 86