1000 Mythological Characters Briefly Described

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Iacchus (Iac′chus). Another name for Bacchus.

Iapetos (Iap′etos). The father of Atlas. See Japetus.

Iblees (Ib′lees). The Arabian Satan.

Icarus (Ic′arus), son of Daedalus, who with his father made themselves wings with which to fly from Crete to escape the resentment of Minos. The wings were fixed to the shoulders by wax. Icarus flew too near the sun, and the heat melting the wax, caused the wings to drop off, and he fell into the Aegean or Icarian sea and was drowned.

Ichnobate (Ichnoba′te). One of Actaeon’s hounds; the word means tracker.

Idaea (Idae′a). A name of Cybele, from Mount Ida, where she was worshiped.

Idaean Mother (Idae′an Mother). Cybele was sometimes so called, in Cyprus, in which there is a grove sacred to Venus.

[71] Idalia (Ida′lia). A name of Venus, from Mount Idalus, in Cyprus, in which there is a grove sacred to Venus.

Imperator (Impera′tor) was a name of Jupiter, given to him at Praeneste.

Inachus (I′nachus) was one of the earliest of the demi-gods or heroes, King of Argos.

Incendiary, see Erostratus.

Incense, see Venus.

Incubus (In′cubus). A Roman name of Pan, meaning The Nightmare. See Innus.

Indigetes (Indig′etes) were deified mortals, gods of the fourth order. They were peculiar to some district.

Indra (In′dra). The Hindoo Jupiter; his wife was Indrant, who presides over the winds and thunder.

Infants, see Natio.

Innus (In′nus). A name of Pan, the same as Incubus.

Ino (In′o), second wife of Athamas, King of Thebes, father of Phryxus and Helle. Ino had two children, who could not ascend the throne while Phryxus and Helle were alive. Ino therefore persecuted them to such a degree that they determined to escape. They did so on a ram, whose hide became the Golden Fleece (see Phryxus and Helle). Ino destroyed herself, and was changed by Neptune into a sea-goddess.

Inoa (Ino′a) were festivals in memory of Ino.

[72] Instrumental Music, see Euterpe.

Io (I′o) was a daughter of Inachus, and a priestess of Juno at Argos. Jupiter courted her, and was detected by Juno, when the god turned Io into a beautiful heifer. Juno demanded the beast of Jupiter, and set the hundred-eyed Argus to watch her. Jupiter persuaded Mercury to destroy Argus, and Io was set at liberty, and restored to human shape. Juno continued her persecutions, and Io had to wander from place to place till she came to Egypt, where she became wife of King Osiris, and won such good opinions from the Egyptians that after her death she was worshiped as the goddess Isis.

Iolaus (Iola′us), son of Iphicles, assisted Hercules in conquering the Hydra, by burning with hot irons the place where the heads were cut off; and for his assistance he was restored to youth by Hebe. Lovers used to go to his monument at Phocis and ratify their vows of fidelity.

Iothun (Io′thun). Celtic mythological monsters, or giants.

Iphicles (Iph′icles) was twin brother of Hercules, and father of Iolaus.

Iphigenia (Iphigeni′a) was a daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Agamemnon made a vow to Diana, which involved the sacrifice of Iphigenia, but just at the critical moment she was carried to heaven, and a beautiful goat was found on the altar in her place.

[73] Iris (I′ris), daughter of Thaumas and Electra, was the attendant of Juno, and one of the messengers of the gods. Her duty was to cut the thread which detained expiring souls. She is the personification of the rainbow.

Iron, see Vulcan.

Isis (I′sis), wife of Osiris, and a much worshiped divinity of the Egyptians. See Io.

Itys (I′tys) was killed by his mother Procne when six years old, and given to his father Tereus, a Thracian of Daulis, as food. The gods were so enraged at this that they turned Itys into a pheasant, Procne into a swallow, and Tereus into a hawk.

Ixion (Ixi′on), the son of Phlegyas, King of the Lapithae. For attempting to produce thunder, Jupiter cast him into hell, and had him bound to a wheel, surrounded with serpents, which is forever turning over a river of fire.

“The powers of vengeance, while they hear,
Touched with compassion, drop a tear;
Ixion’s rapid wheel is bound,
Fixed in attention to the sound.”
F. Lewis.
“Or, as Ixion fix’d, the wretch shall feel
The giddy motion of the whirling wheel.”

Jani (Ja′ni) was a place in Rome where there were three statues of Janus, and it was a meeting-place for usurers and creditors.

Janitor (Ja′nitor). A title of Janus, from the gates before [74] the doors of private houses being called Januae.

Janus (Ja′nus). A king of Italy, said to have been the son of Coelus, others say of Apollo; he sheltered Saturn when he was driven from heaven by Jupiter. Janus presided over highways, gates, and locks, and is usually represented with two faces, because he was acquainted with the past and the future; or, according to others, because he was taken for the sun, who opens the day at his rising, and shuts it at his setting. A brazen temple was erected to him in Rome, which was always open in time of war, and closed during peace.

“Old Janus, if you please,
Grave two-faced father.”
“In two-faced Janus we this moral find,—
While we look forward, we should glance behind.”

Japetus (Jap′etus), son of Coelus and Terra, husband of Clymene. He was looked upon by the Greeks as the father of all mankind. See Iapetos.

Jason (Ja′son), the son of Aeson, king of Iolcos; he was brought up by the centaur Chiron. His uncle Aeeta sent him to fetch the Golden Fleece from Colchis (see Argonauts). He went in the ship Argo with forty-nine companions, the flower of Greek youth. With the help of Juno they got safe to Colchis, but the King Aeetes promised to restore the Golden Fleece only on condition that the Argonauts [75] performed certain services. Jason was to tame the wild fiery bulls, and to make them plow the field of Mars; to sow in the ground the teeth of a serpent, from which would spring armed men who would fight against him who plowed the field of Mars; to kill the fiery dragon which guarded the tree on which the Golden Fleece was hung. The fate of Jason and the rest of the Argonauts seemed certain; but Medea, the king’s daughter, fell in love with Jason, and with the help of charms which she gave him he overcame all the difficulties which the king had put in his way. He took away the Golden Fleece and Medea also. The king sent his son Absyrtus to overtake the fugitives, but Medea killed him, and strewed his limbs in his father’s path, so that he might be delayed in collecting them, and this enabled Jason and Medea to escape. After a time Jason got tired of Medea, and married Glauce, which cruelty Medea revenged by killing her children before their father’s eyes. Jason was accidentally killed by a beam of the ship Argo falling on him.

Jocasta (Jocas′ta) (otherwise Epicasta), wife of Laius, King of Thebes, who in after-life married her own son, Oedipus, not knowing who he was, and, on discovering the fatal mistake, hanged herself.

Jove. A very general name of Jupiter.