Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Line of Pontos

[This part from the already written]

In the beginning there was Chaos. Neither something nor nothing but an indescribable swirling mass of possibility and probability. There were no rules or laws, no restrictions, no borders. There was nothing, and yet at the same time there was everything, for Chaos did not merely lack form but contained all forms.

And it was from this mass of possibility and contradiction that sprang forth Gaia, the earth, fully formed. For there were not yet rules or restrictions to stop gods, or planets, or god-planets, from coming into existence on their own. The Fates had not yet been born. Before that day there was only Chaos, then, in an instant, there were Chaos and Gaia. Gaia, the firm foundation on which all would be built.

She was not a thing of possibility or probability, but a being of is. She was, and so was the first being that could be truly be said to fully be. She was solid and slow to change. Not a swirling mass of probability, but a solid foundation of stone.

Following her other gods burst forth into being, uncreated, for there were still no rules.

Misty Tartaros took his place beneath Gaia, and golden winged Eros, who would be love but knew not yet, took flight above her.

Erebos, the darkness that resides in misty Tartaros, and black winged Nyx, night herself, were next to spring forth. It was in these two that Eros found his purpose, creating the universe's first love. Erebos and Nyx mated, and soon something entirely new came into being.

[First family]

Gaia, having learned that it was possible to give birth, but having no love to mate with, bore on her own starry Ouranos, the sky, to encompass her.

[The Ourea, mountains, and Nesoi, islands, are born to Gaia]

Finally Gaia birthed Pontos, the then barren ocean, to fill her depressions and level out her surface. It was then that the first Nesoi separated from the Ourea.

All these she gave birth to without ever knowing love, but golden winged Eros, had not forgotten her. As he flew between Gaia and newly created Ouranos he saw fit to draw them together in love.

[Creation via mating becomes the way things are done, the Titans rise and Chronos overthrows Ouranos via castration.  Nyx has children which may or may not have had another parent.]

Pontos too, some say, was frightened from the natural way and brought forth a child on his own, but only one, before he returned to what is natural. Whether Nereus, watery/fishy, was the child of Pontos alone or Pontos and Gaia is long forgotten. So long has it been that Nereus is known as “The old man.” Truthful Nereus was incapable of telling lies, but still was gentle in his honesty and never forgetful of what is right and proper.

Regardless of Nereus' parentage Pontos soon obeyed natural law, and Gaia soon had a new mate. Together they brought forth Thaumas, wonder of the sea, proud Phorkys, Keto, sea monster, and Eurybie, the wide ranging force.

[From here on out it's new, and probably boring.  Seriously, Nereus has 50 daughters of which there are 51 listed.  Boring.]

Nereus and a beautiful haired daughter Okeanos named Doris, had fifty daughters collectively named the Nereids.  The names of the Nereids are Ploto, swimmer; Eukrante, successful voyage; Sao, rescue; Amphitrite, the surrounding third; Eudora, good gifts; Thetis; Galene, calm of the sea; Glauce, gleaming; Kymothoe, wave-swift; Speio, seacave; Thoe, swift; charming Halie, brine; Pasithea, all-divine; Erato, lovely; rosy-armed Eunike, good victory; graceful Melite, honey; Eulimene, safe-harbor; Agaue, illustrious; Doto, giver; Proto, first; Pherusa, carrying off; Dynamene, powerful; Nesaea, insular; Actaea, of the shore; Protomedea, first ruler; Doris, bountiful, named after her mother; Panopea, all seeing; beautiful Galatia, milk-white; lovely Hippotheo, swift horses [0]; rosy armed Hipponoe, horse sense; Kymodoke, wave receiver, who with Kymatolege, wave-stiller, and their beautiful ankled older sister Amphitrite could still seas swollen by storms or ravaged by winds; Kymo, wave; Eione, beach strand; well crowned Halimede, brine queen; laughter-loving Glauconome, masterer of the grey; Pontoporeia, sea-traverser; Leagore, assembler (of people); Euagore, praise; Laomedeia, stone queen; Poulynoe, much thinking; Autonoe, thinking itself; Lysianassa, deliverer of homes; Euarne, good lamb/good denial [1], who was of lovely stature and flawless shape; Psamathe, crumbling knowledge/sandy seashore [2], with an elegant body; wondrous Menippe, horse strength, Neso, of/for the island; Eupompe, good journey; Themisto, right/custom/oracular stuff [3]; Pronoe, forethought; Nemertes, infallible, who possesses a heart and soul like her undying father.

Fifty daughters were born to blameless Nereus and fair haired Doris, all excel in skills to perfection.  But there are fifty one Nereids [4].  Chaos, still at work in the world, added one to their number.  Some say that only Nereus and Doris know for sure which one, others say that even they cannot tell.  All that is known is that there is one more than there should be.  It is not remarked upon, and any speculation between the sisters as to which one isn't really one of them is considered extremely ill mannered.

Indeed one of the few ways to provoke the entire family into violently forcing one to leave is to bring up the subject and refuse to drop it.

Many, including some gods, are entirely unaware of the discrepancy, considering fifty too high a number to count to for the sake of verifying what they think they already know, that there are fifty Nereids.

Nereus' younger brother Thaumas married Elektra, another of the daughters of deepflowing Okeanos, who bore first swift Iris, who would one day be the messenger of the Olympian gods.  Then Elektra bore the lovely-haired Harpyiae, snatchers/whirlwinds/hurricanes, Aello and Okypete, who with their swift wings outrun birds of prey and the winds themselves, for they fly with the speed of time.

Phorkys and Keto got together and their first children were the beautifulcheeked Graiai.  Two sisters, grey from the moment of their birth they are called the Graiai by both deathless gods and the mortals who walk the earth.  In the beginning there were but two, and though aged from birth they were not the monsters these generations think of [5] but rather two sisters with grace and fashion.  Beautifully robed Pemphredo, she who shows the way, and saffron robed Enyo, warlike.

After them Keto bore the Gorgones, who lived beyond splendid Okeanos, near the border of Nyx where her daughters the Hesperides could be clearly heard.  Terrifying to behold from the beginning [6], even pictures of their forms could frighten mortal and god alike.  Their names were Sthenno, Euruale, and Medousa who received a sorry fate.  Where her sisters were immortal and ageless, she was not.

But some have said that she was gifted with the ability to take on a more pleasing form, certainly there must be some reason that The Dark Haired One (Poseidon) chose her to lie with in a soft meadow amidst the flowers of spring [7].

Before her lack of agelessness could end her mortal life, Medusa was beheaded by Perseus, and from her corpse sprang forth two wonders.  Great Khrysaor, golden blade, named for the sword of gold which he held, and Pegasos, of the spring, the famous winged horse, so named because he was born near the springs of Okeanos.  Pegasos flew from the bloody body of his mother, and from the earth itself, to join the immortals on Olympos, where he brings Zeus thunder and lightning.

Khrysaor inherited his mother's ability to take on multiple forms, which is why he was sometimes a giant, and sometimes a just a large winged boar, and took as his wife Kallirhoe daughter of renowned Okeanos.  Together they became parents to the three bodied giant Geryones.  Geryones, of course, was killed by Herakles for his cattle.  This was part of the Herakles' tenth labor and why he couldn't steal the cattle without killing their owner has never been adequately explained.

Herakles also killed Orthos, Geryones' loyal two headed serpent tailed dog, and Eurytion, widely honored, Geryones' cowherd by trade, though he was a son of Ares and a grandson of Nyx.

This ended the line of the Gorgons.  (Unless Pegasus had children.)

During this time Keto and Phorkys had had more children of their own.  First she bore a monster entirely unlike either mortal or god.  In a hollowed cave, unseen by light of day or dark of night, she bore Ekhidna, viper, a beast against whom nothing could be done.  Half of her was a nymph, bright eyed and fair cheeked.  The other half was a giant serpent, quickly eating raw flesh in the depths of sacred Gaia.

The gods gave to her a glorious home in a place called Arimi.  A wonderous cave under a hollow rock.  They gave it to her in hopes that Ekhidna, forever immortal and ageless, would stay there, far from both themselves and mortals.

It is said that in that lair she lay with Typhonos.  Her first child was Orthos, who would go on become Geryones' companion.  Her next was a monster nigh impossible to overcome which many fear to speak of and none dare describe in detail, Kerebos, the hound of Hades who has a voice of brass and, like his mother, devours raw flesh.  Multiheaded [8] reckless and mighty.

Her third was was the baneful minded Hydra of Lerna who white-armed Hera brought up, preparing it for its eventual battle against Herakles, for Hera's wrath towards Zeus' then mortal son was insatiable.  But, with the help of Iolaus, the will of Athene, and merciless bronze, the son of Zeus and Amphitryon was able to kill the creature.

She bore Chimera.  A creature that breathed fire ceaselessly from at least one of her three heads, lion, goat, and dragon.  She was large, strong and swift.  The front of her body was that of a lion, her middle goat, and her hindparts dragon.

Pegasos and Bellerophon killed Chimera, but not before she continued her line.[9]

She and Orthos joined to produce the Sphinx, scourge of the Kadmeans who would finally meet her ends when Oedipus met her challenge.  She also bore the Nemian Lion, whom Hera took in like the Hydra before him.  Hera, glorious wife of Zeus, raised it to settle in the Nemian hills and there bring calamity to man.  It brought a reign of terror upon the people of Tretos and Apesas.  But, in the end, Herakles killed it.  Then wore its skin wherever he went.

Thus ended the line of Ekhidna.

Keto and Phorkys had one last child, still united by the bonds of the elder Eros, this child was a great serpent.  The dragon tasked with helping the Hesperides guard the apples made of gold.  Some say he had a hundred heads and could speak in many voices.  He never slept and guarded with the determination of one who places their duty above all else.  A duty given to him by Hera.

Herakles killed him too, but for his duty he was place amoung the stars, and is known as Draco to this day.  A tribute to his race, to all dragons.  An example for them to aspire to.

But they say his name was Ladon, strong flow.

These were the children of Keto and Phorkys, and with them the line of Pontos ends.  (At least for now, I haven't added in much of the non-Hesiod stuff yet and, well, it's fracking late so I'm just going to post this as is.)


[0] I didn't feel like renumbering my footnotes.  Poseidon made horses right?  Can we then assume, for the sake of argument, that all of the horse people came after Poseidon?  Or should we instead assume that there was an idea of horse out there, but Poseidon was the one to finally give it form.  This would explain how Chronos was able to transform into a horse during the act of sex (so his wife couldn't catch him) thus creating the Centaurs/Kentaurs.  There's no way that could have happened post-Poseidon.

As for why Apollo and Artemis didn't come out half swan, no idea.

If Poseidon were inside of Chronos during the transformation then perhaps that is what planted the idea in his mind (but just an idea because how clear of an image can you get of what a horse is if you're in its belly?) and it was just waiting for the opportunity to come out.

[1] Not kidding, the Eu is "good" arne is harder to figure out, could come from the root for lamb, could come from the root for denial.  Could be a play on words indicating that she's the embodiment of good lambs who deny things well.

[2] Ok, I've got the options of psa+mathe = crumbling/rubbed/lightly-touched + learning, p+ sama +the = away from/on/childless + sign/wonder + run/wonder at, and saying it looks like psymathai, which would appear to be a very rare word for sandy seashore, or it looks like psamathos which is sand of the seashore.

In all likelihood it has to do with sand and seashore because we are talking about the descendant of one of the embodiments of the sea on her father's side and another of the embodiments of the sea on her mother's side.  However crumbling knowledge being like a sandcastle being swept away is just... there's metaphorical possibilities there.

The middle possibility is really reaching, I think, because the only way I can see to get a plain "p" as a prefix would be if the word being prefixed started with a vowel, which would not result in the psi that the name begins in since s is not a vowel.  So "childless sign you wonder at" or "wonder you run away from" or the various other possibilities from that are just right out.

[3] I have a headache, don't start.

[4] Seriously, count them.  If you get fifty two then you probably counted Amphitrite twice, an easy mistake to make.  Some solve the problem by saying that Kymatolege (appearing in the same section as Amphitrite's second mention) is the same as Kymo, I guess Kymo would be a nickname but then one wonders how she laid claim to it when she has two older sisters who could claim the same (and make better arguments for why it makes sense for them) plus why there's no indication that this Kymo is the same as the Kymatolege just mentioned.  Besides, I like the idea of, there are precisely 50 daughters, there are 51 in the group, no one knows where the other one came from or which one it is.

The fact that Thetis' name is seriously close to a word meaning adopted (thetos, e, on if I transliterated right) will be mentioned (see, I just did) but not expanded on in any meaningful way.

[5] Remember that I'm using Hesiod as my primary source with other stuff to fill in?  Well there's not a word about one eye and one tooth between three sisters who Perseus has to deal with.  In fact they and Perseus are never mentioned in the same passage, instead it goes them, their younger sisters the gorgons, Medusa has sex with Poseidon, Perseus chops her head off, moving on.  The only way I see to reconcile this with the idea of three sisters who have the weird curse of having a single eye and tooth to share is to have a second group with the same name, I'm thinking one of them had children perhaps, or that Keto and Phorkys had a second set of daughters who took the same name as the first.

There are five names attested to the Graiai which fits perfectly with a group of three and a group of two.

The only question is where to fit in the group of three.  Put them as the children of one of the Graiai and they can get the name Gaiai through inheritance.  Put them as children of Keto and Phorkys and you get to keep the idea that they're sisters to the Gorgons and daughters of those two.

[6] I base this on vase painting.

[7] I know, I know, temple of Athena.  The thing is, Hesiod is my primary tool here, not Ovid.  Maybe it was a sacred meadow.

[8] Sorry Hesiod, but here we must part ways.  Cerberus has three heads.  Three.  Not fifty.  Fifty is way to many heads for a dog.

[9] Blame sloppy writing here, it's unclear if the she who is doing this child bearing is Ekhidna or Chimera.


[Rewriting Greek Myth Index]

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting that "honey" is accounted among the Nereids. I mean, "swift horses" I get, but honey? IDK, Greeks.

    "Psamathe" is a wonderful name, and I love the "crumbling knowledge" play on it. Like unto the scattering sands are the fragments forgotten...

    Also a mystery! Which of the 51 is not the child of her parents? Ooooh, I smell a story there. /is thrown out of the Nereid party

    I originally read "Deepflowing" as "deepflowering," which I share because I think it might amuse you.

    Also, I totally counted Amphitrite twice and had to re-count. >.>

    Boo for the death of the Sphinx. I always thought that could've been avoided. And the Nemean(sp?) Lion! Hera goes to all the trouble to raise this vicious invincible lion and then some jerk comes along and strangles it. Sigh.