1000 Mythological Characters Briefly Described

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Parthenon (Par′thenon). The temple of Minerva (or Pallas) on the Acropolis at Athens. It was destroyed by the Persians, and rebuilt by Pericles.

Parthenos (Par′thenos) was a name of Juno, and also of Minerva. See Pallas.

Pasiphae (Pasiph′ae) was the reputed mother of the Minotaur killed by Theseus. She was said to be the daughter of Sol and Perseis, and her husband was Minos, king of Crete.

Pasithea (Pasith′ea). Sometimes there are four Graces spoken of; when this is so, the name of the fourth is Pasithea. Also called Aglaia.

Pavan (Pav′an), the Hindoo god of the winds.

Peace, see Concordia.

Peacock, see Argus.

Pegasus (Peg′asus). The famous winged horse which was said to have sprung from the blood of Medusa when her head was cut off by Perseus. His abode was on Mount Helicon, where, by striking the ground with his hoof, he caused water to spring forth, which formed the fountain afterward called Hippocrene.

“Each spurs his faded
Pegasus apace.”
“Thy stumbling founder’d jade can trot as high
As any other Pegasus can fly.”
Earl of Dorset.
[109] “To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.”

Peleus (Pe′leus). A king of Thessaly, who married Thetis, one of the Nereides. It is said that he was the only mortal who married an immortal.

Pelias (Pe′lias). A son of Neptune and Tyro. He usurped the throne of Cretheus, which Jason was persuaded to relinquish and take the command of the Argonautic expedition. On the return of Jason, Medea, the sorceress, undertook to restore Pelias to youth, but required that the body should first be cut up and put in a caldron of boiling water. When this had been done, Medea refused to fulfil her promise. Pelias had four daughters, who were called the Peliades.

Pelias (Pe′lias) was the name of the spear of Achilles, which was so large that none could wield it but the hero himself.

Pelion (Pe′lion). A well-wooded mountain, famous for the wars between the giants and the gods, and as the abode of the Centaurs, who were expelled by the Lapithae. See Ossa, a mount, which the giants piled upon Pelion, to enable them to scale the heavens.

“The gods they challenge, and affect the skies,
Heaved on Olympus tottering Ossa stood;
On Ossa, Pelion nods with all his wood.”

Pelops (Pe′lops), son of Tantalus, king of Phrygia. His [110] father killed him, and served him up to be eaten at a feast given to the gods, who, when they found out what the father of Pelops had done, restored the son to life, and he afterward became the husband of Hippodamia.

Penates (Pena′tes). Roman domestic gods. The hearth of the house was their altar. See Lares.

Perpetual Punishment, see Sisyphus.

Persephone (Perseph′one). The Greek name of Proserpine.

Perseus (Per′seus) was a son of Jupiter and Danae, the daughter of Acrisius. His first famous exploit was against the Gorgon, Medusa. He was assisted in this enterprise by Pluto, who lent him a helmet which would make him invisible. Pallas lent him her shield, and Mercury supplied him with wings. He made a speedy conquest of the Gorgons, and cut off Medusa’s head, with which he flew through the air, and from the blood sprang the winged horse Pegasus. As he flew along he saw Andromeda chained to the rock, and a sea-monster ready to devour her. He killed the monster, and married Andromeda. When he got back, he showed the Gorgon’s head to King Polydectes, and the monarch was immediately turned into stone.

“Now on Daedalian waxen pinions stray,
Or those which wafted Perseus on his way.”
F. Lewis.

Persuasion, goddess of, see Pitho.

Phaeton (Pha′eton). A son of Sol, or, according to many [111] mythologists, of Phoebus and Clymene. Anxious to display his skill in horsemanship, he was allowed to drive the chariot of the sun for one day. The horses soon found out the incapacity of the charioteer, became unmanageable, and overturned the chariot. There was such great fear of injury to heaven and earth, that Jove, to stop the destruction, killed Phaeton with a thunderbolt.

“Now Phaeton, by lofty hopes possessed,
The burning seat with youthful vigor pressed.”
“The breathless Phaeton, with flaming hair,
Shot from the chariot like a falling star
That in a summer’s evening from the top
Of heaven drops down, or seems at least to drop.”

Phaon (Pha′on). A boatman of Mitylene, in Lesbos, who received from Venus a box of ointment, with which, when he anointed himself, he grew so beautiful that Sappho became enamored of him; but when the ointment had all been used Phaon returned to his former condition, and Sappho, in despair, drowned herself.

Pheasant, see Itys.

Philoctetes (Philoct′etes) was son of Poeas, and one of the companions of Jason on his Argonautic expedition. He was present at the death of Hercules, and received from him the poisoned arrows which had been dipped in the blood of Hydra. These arrows, an oracle declared, were necessary to be used in the destruction of Troy, and Philoctetes was persuaded by [112] Ulysses to go and assist at the siege. He appears to have used the weapons with great dexterity and with wonderful effect, for Paris was among the heroes whom he killed. The story of Philoctetes was dramatized by the Greek tragedians Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles.

Philomela (Philome′la) was a daughter of Pandion, king of Athens, who was transformed into a nightingale. She was sister to Procne, who married Tereus, King of Thrace. The latter having offered violence to Philomela, her sister, Procne, came to her rescue, and to punish her husband slew her son Itylus, and at a feast Philomela threw Itylus’s head on the banquet table.

“Forth like a fury Philomela flew,
And at his face the head of Itys threw.”
“And thou, melodious Philomel,
Again thy plaintive story tell.”
Sir Thomas Lyttleton.

Phlegethon (Phleg′ethon). A river of fire in the infernal regions. It was the picture of desolation, for nothing could grow on its parched and withered banks. Also called Pyriphlegethon.

“... Infernal rivers ...
... Fierce Phlegethon,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.”

Phlegon (Phle′gon) (burning), one of the four chariot horses of Sol.

[113] Phlegyas (Phle′gyas). Son of Mars and father of Ixion and Coronis. For his impiety in desecrating and plundering the temple of Apollo at Delphi, he was sent to Hades, and there was made to sit with a huge stone suspended over his head, ready to be dropped on him at any moment.

Phoebus (Phoe′bus). A name of Apollo, signifying light and life.

“Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Toward Phoebus’ lodging.”

Phorcus (Phor′cus), or Porcys. A son of Neptune, father of the Gorgons. The same as Oceanus.

Phryxus (Phryx′us), see Golden Fleece.

Picumnus (Picum′nus). A rural divinity, who presided over the manuring of lands, also called Sterentius.

Picus (Pi′cus). A son of Saturn, father of Faunus, was turned into a woodpecker by Circe, whose love he had not requited.

Pierides (Pier′ides). A name of the Muses, derived from Pieria, a fountain in Thessaly, near Mount Olympus, where they were supposed to have been born. Also, the daughters of Pierus, a king of Macedonia, who settled in Boeotia. They challenged the Muses to sing, and were changed into magpies.

Pietas (Pie′tas). The Roman goddess of domestic affection.

Pillar, see Calpe.

Pilumnus (Pilum′nus). A rural divinity that presided over [114] the corn while it was being ground. At Rome he was hence called the god of bakers.

Pine-Tree, see Atys.

Pirithous (Pirith′ous). A son of Ixion and great friend of Theseus, king of Athens. The marriage of Pirithous and Hippodamia became famous for the quarrel between the drunken Centaurs and the Lapithae, who, with the help of Theseus, Pirithous, and Hercules, attacked and overcame the Centaurs, many of whom were killed, and the remainder took to flight.

Pitho (Pi′tho), the goddess of Persuasion, daughter of Mercury and Venus. She is sometimes referred to under the name of Suada.

Plants, see Demogorgon.

Pleasure, see Rembha.

Pleiades, The (Plei′ades). Seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Their names were Electra, Alcyone, Celaeno, Maia, Sterope, Taygete, and Merope. They were made a constellation, but as there are only six stars to be seen, the ancients believed that one of the sisters, Merope, married a mortal, and was ashamed to show herself among her sisters, who had all been married to gods.

“... The gray
Dawn and the Pleiades before him danced.
Shedding sweet influence.”

Pluto (Plu′to). King of the infernal regions. He was a son of Saturn and Ops, and husband of [115] Proserpine, daughter of Ceres. He is sometimes referred to under the name Dis, and he personifies hell. His principal attendant was the three-headed dog Cerberus, and about his throne were the Eumenides, the Harpies, and the Furies.

“With equal foot, rich friend, impartial fate
Knocks at the cottage and the palace gate.
. . . . .
Night soon will seize, and you must go below,
To story’d ghosts and Pluto’s house below.”