Preliminaries at the Altar: The Enemy
Until now, now that I’ve
reached my fifties,
all my Muse’s poetry has been harmless:
and no letter of Ovid’s exists, of the thousands
written, that can be interpreted as hostile:
and my books have hurt no one but myself:
the author’s own life was ruined by his ‘Art’.
One person alone (and this itself is a great wrong)
won’t grant me the title of an honest man.
Whoever it is (for I’ll be silent still as yet about his name)
he forces my novice hand to take up weapons.
He won’t let me, a man banished to the frozen
source of the north wind, hide myself away in exile:
and he, inexorably, disturbs the wound of a man
seeking peace, bandies my name about the forum:
won’t let the companion of my marriage bed mourn,
the ruin of her living husband, without troubling her,
and while I cling to the shattered fragments of my boat,
he fights for the planks from my shipwreck:
this robber, who ought to quench the sudden flame,
looks for plunder here in the middle of the fire.
He works so there might be no succour for an aged fugitive:
ah, how much more he himself deserves my misfortune!
The gods are kinder! And to me He’s by far
who did not wish my path to be that of poverty.
So let thanks be expressed for that, whenever possible,
and may I always deal with so merciful a heart.
Pontus might hear it: perhaps might see to it
that the earth nearest me acts as my witness.
But may you who trample on me, violently, in my fall,
be made wretched for it! I’ll be your dearest enemy.
Moisture will sooner cease to conflict with fire,
the sun’s light be merged with that of the moon:
one part of the sky bring east and west winds too,
warm south winds blow out of the frozen pole:
spring with autumn, summer with winter, mix,
dawn and sunset lie in the same part of the sky:
new harmony rise with smoke, that an ancient
quarrel divides, from the brothers’ blazing
than you and I lay down, in a friendship that you shattered
by your crimes, these weapons we’ve assumed, cruel one.
Ibis:41-104 Preliminaries at the Altar: The Invocation
We’ll enjoy that peace,
while life remains to me,
that lies between the wolves and the defenceless flock.
First I’ll wage a war in these verses I’ve begun,
though it’s not the thing to go to battle in this metre:
and as the spear of a soldier, who’s not fighting mad
as yet, buries itself deep in the yellow sand,
so I’ll not hurl my sharpened steel at you as yet,
my shaft won’t seek your hateful life at once:
I’ll not speak your name or actions in this work,
but let you hide whom you are, for a little longer.
Then, if you persist, unrestrained iambics will hurl
my missiles at you, stained with Lycambean
Now, as Battiades cursed his enemy
I’ll curse you, and yours, in the same way.
And like him I’ve involved my poem with hidden matters:
I’ve followed him, though I’m unused to this sort of thing.
Its convolutions are uttered in imitation of those
in Ibis, forgetful of my own custom and taste.
And since, when asked, I’m not saying who you are, as yet,
you too, in the meantime, can take the name of Ibis:
and as my verse will reflect something of my nights,
so may the sequence of your days be wholly dark.
Have this read to you on your birthday, and at new
year, by anyone whose lips have no need for lies.
Gods of earth and sea, who maintain the good
between the disparate poles, where Jupiter rules,
I beg this of you: bend all your thoughts to this,
and let my wishes carry their weight with you:
and you earth itself, and the waves of ocean,
and the highest sky itself, approve my prayers:
and the stars, and that form clothed with rays of sunlight,
and you Moon, that never glittered brighter in your orbit,
and Night whom we revere for the beauty of your shadows:
and you who spin your fatal work with triple
and you the stream of waters, not to be named in
that glides with dread murmurs through infernal valleys,
and you with your hair bound by
who sit before the shadowy doors of the prison:
you too, the lower powers, Fauns,
the rivers, and the nymphs and semi-divine races:
appear, at the last, in our presence, all you gods,
old and new, from out the ancient chaos,
while dread charms are sung by treacherous mouths,
and anger and grief act out their proper parts.
All, in order, show your assent to my desires,
and let there be no part of my prayer that fails.
And let it be fulfilled, I beg: so it may be thought
not my word, but a speech of the race of
And I’ll have recounted these punishments, and he’ll
endure them, let his misery be greater for my skill!
And let the prayers of execration harm his false
name no less, nor the great gods be less inclined to stir:
I curse him as Ibis, whom the mind perceives,
who knows he’s earned these curses by his deeds.
No delay is mine: I act as priest with sure prayer.
Whoever is at my rites, show favour to my words:
whoever is at my rites, speak your words of mourning,
and with wet cheeks begin your weeping for Ibis:
and run with every ill, and on stumbling feet,
and cloak all your bodies with black garments!
You too, why hesitate to don the fatal bands? Now
your funeral altar’s ready, as you yourself can see.
Ibis:105-134 The Litany of Maledictions: The Denial Of Benefits
Your cortège is prepared:
no delay to the sad prayers:
dread sacrifice, relinquish your throat to my knives.
Let earth deny its fruits to you, the rivers their waves,
let the winds and the breezes deny you their breath.
Let there be no heat to the sun, for you, no light for you
from the moon, let all the bright stars forsake your eyes.
Nor let fire or air offer themselves to you,
nor earth or ocean grant you a way.
Exiled, wander helpless, across the alien thresholds,
seek out scant nourishment with a trembling mouth.
Body never free of ills, mind of grievous sickness,
night be worse than day for you, and day than night.
May you be always pitiable, and yet let no one pity:
let men and women take delight in your adversity.
Let hatred for your tears be on you, be so fit to stink,
that when you might have known the worst of ills,
you’ll suffer more. And be, what’s rare, devoid
of common charity, a face offensive to your own fate.
And let no reason fail, of the many, for your dying:
yet life be forced to shun the death you long for:
and your spirit struggle long to leave your tortured
body, and interminable delay torment it first.
Let this come to pass. Just now, himself, Apollo
an omen of the future, a bird flew from the mournful left.
I’ll consider the gods influenced by what I vow, and I’ll
always be nourished, traitor, by expectation of your death.
And first let that day, that comes too slow for me,
take away this life, often sought to excess by you,
that this grief might have the power to vanish in a moment,
and heal my hateful hours, and these hated days of mine.
Ibis:135-162 The Litany of Maledictions: Vengeance From The Grave
Thracians fight with bows,
Iazyges with spears,
while the Ganges runs warm, and
while mountains produce oaks, and plains soft grass,
while the Tuscan Tiber flows with its clear
I’ll wage war on you: death will not end my anger, rather
among the shades it will set a cruel weapon in my hands.
Then, too, when I shall be dissolved in empty air,
my bloodless ghost will still revile all your ways,
then, too, my remembering shadow will pursue
remedy for your deeds, and my bony form your face.
Whether, as I’d not wish, I’m exhausted by long years,
whether I’m dissolved in death by my own hand:
whether I’m lost, shipwrecked by mighty waves,
while the foreign fishes feed on my entrails:
whether wandering birds pick at my limbs:
whether wolves stain their jaws with my blood:
whether any will deign to place me in the earth,
or give my corpse in vain to the common pyre:
wherever I may be, I’ll strive to break from Styx’s
and, in vengeance, stretch an icy hand to where you are.
You’ll see me watching, in the shades of silent nights,
appearing as a vision, I’ll drive away your sleep.
Whatever you do, I’ll flit before your lips and eyes,
and moan so there can be no peace in your house.
Cruel whips, and twining snakes, will hiss, and funeral
torches, forever smoke before your guilty face.
Living, you’ll be haunted by the furies, dead as well,
and the shorter then will be your punishment in life.
Ibis:163-208 The Litany of Maledictions: His Enemy After Death
Your funeral will not
affect you or your tears: you’ll forgo
your life, unlamented: and the mob will all applaud
while you are dragged away, at the executioners’ hands,
and their hooks are buried deep in your bones.
Let the flames that snatch at all men, flee from you:
let the honest earth reject your hated corpse. May
the cruel vulture tear your entrails, beak and claw,
and the greedy dogs rip out your treacherous heart,
and let there be (though you may be proud to be so
loved) a quarrel for your body, among the wolves.
May you be in a place far from Elysian
and be exiled, where the guilty host abide.
Sisyphus is there: he rolls and retrieves
and Ixion, beaten, driven by his wheel’s swift
and Tityus, stretched across nine acres, head
destined to offer his entrails evermore to carrion birds,
and the Belides who always bear water-jars on
that savage crowd, the daughters-in-law of exiled
father, always reaches for the fruit there,
and water overflowing forever, forever torments him.
There let one of the Furies rake
your flanks with her whip,
till the measure of your sins has been confessed:
another give your scored body to her hellish snakes:
the third one scorch your smoking cheeks with fire.
Be tortured by noxious shades in a thousand ways,
and Aeacus be gifted in forming your
The torment in the old tales be transferred to you:
let you be the reason for the ancients to be at peace.
You take Sisyphus’s place: he’ll grant you his weight to roll:
now your new limbs will turn Ixion’s swift wheel:
and here the one who snatches vainly at branch and wave,
here the one that feeds the birds with his uneaten entrails.
Let no second death end the torments of this death,
let there be no final hour to all these ills.
Let me prophesy as few of them as the leaves one might gather
from Ida, or drops of flowing
water from the Libyan Sea.
For there could never be as many flowers in
or yellow crocuses, I would say, in Cilician
nor winter shudder as much from swift Northerlies,
those that make Mount Athos white with all
as all the torments you should undergo that could be recalled
by my voice, out of this mouth that adds to them.
Ah, let as many be yours, you wretch, and such disaster,
that even I might be counted on to be reduced to tears.
Those tears will make me endlessly blessed:
those tears will be sweeter, then, to me than laughter.
Ibis:209-250 The Litany of Maledictions: His Enemy’s Fate
You were born unfortunate
(the gods willed it so),
and no star was kind or beneficent at your birth.
Venus did not shine, nor
Jupiter, in that hour,
neither Moon nor Sun were favourably placed,
nor did Mercury, whom that bright
to great Jove, offer his fires in any
Cruel Mars that promises no peace, lowered
and that planet of aged Saturn, with his
And the day of your birth was dark and impure,
overcast with cloud, so you would only see sadness.
This is the day to which, in our history, the fatal
Allia gives it name: Ibis’s day brought ruin to
As soon as he’d fallen from his mother’s foul
womb, his vile body lay on Cinyphian soil,
a night-owl sat over against him on the heights,
and uttered dire sounds in a funereal voice,
At once the Furies washed him in
where a water channel ran from the Stygian
and smeared venom from a snake of Erebus on
and clapped their bloodstained hands together thrice.
They moistened the child’s throat with bitches’ milk:
that was the first nourishment in the boy’s mouth:
from it the fosterling drank it’s nurse’s fury,
and howled with a dog’s cry over all the city.
They bound his limbs with dark-coloured bands,
snatched from an accursed abandoned pyre:
and, lest it lie unsupported on the naked earth,
they propped his tender head on a hard stone.
Then to make his eyelids retract they brought brands
made of green twigs close to his eyes, close to the lids.
The child wept when he was touched by bitter smoke,
while one of the three sisters spoke, as follows:
‘We have set these tears flowing for all time, in you,
and they’ll always have sufficient reason to fall.’
She spoke: but ordered Clotho to empower the
and she spun the dark fateful thread with her hand:
and so as not to speak a lengthy prophecy with her lips,
she said: ‘There’ll be a poet who will sing your fate.’
I am that poet: from me you’ll learn your torments,
let the gods grant you strength according only to my words:
and let weighty matters follow from my verses,
that you’ll experience with certain grief.
Ibis:251-310 The Litany of Maledictions: Ancient Torments
May you not be tortured
without ancient precedent,
nor your troubles be less than those of the
and may you suffer pain as great as
heir to Club-bearing Hercules, from venom’s
Nor let your grief be less than Telephus’,
who drank from
the doe’s teat, and armed received a wound, unarmed help:
or he who fell headlong from his horse in the
Philopoimen, whose character was nearly
his own ruin.
May you know what Phoenix knew, and, robbed
find your perilous way with the help of a stick.
Nor see more than Oedipus whom his
both her parents being acknowledged sinners:
be blind as Tiresias, the old man famous for
after he’d acted as judge of the gods’ playful quarrel:
and as that man, Phineus, by whose command a
dove of Pallas
was sent out to lead the way, and be a guide to the
and Polymestor, lacking eyes, that had
viewed gold sinfully,
the father giving them as funeral gifts to his murdered child:
and like Polyphemus, Etna’s
shepherd, whose blinding,
Telemus, son of Eurymus, prophesied before
like the two sons of Phineus, from whom he
took the same
light he gave: as the faces of Thamyris and
May someone sever your genitals, as Saturn,
when he was born, severed those of Uranus.
Nor let Neptune in the swelling
waves be kinder to you
than to him whose brother and wife were turned into birds,
or to Ulysses, that cunning man, whom
pitied as he clung to the shattered timbers of his raft.
Or, lest your flesh shall have known only this one manner
of punishment, let it be split and dragged apart by horses:
or you yourself suffer what the man, who thought to be free
by disgracing Rome, endured from the
Nor let divine power be prompt to your relief, just as
the altars of Jupiter brought Hercules no
And as Thessalus leapt from the heights of
you too will throw yourself from the stony cliff.
Or like Cychreus, who snatched
let your body be food for ravenous serpents.
Or, as in Ariadne’s fate, may raging liquid
over your head, covered by the waters.
And like Prometheus, pinned there, without
and exposed, feed the birds of the air with your blood.
Or be thrown like stricken Eumolpus, scion
three times defeated by mighty Hercules,
into the vast sea.
Or like Phoenix, child of
Amyntor, the loved will be hated through
shameful desire, and the son wounded by the cruel sword.
Let no more cups be mixed for you that are safe to drink,
than for him who was born of horned
Or die suspended like the captive Acheus who hung
a wretched witness to the gold-bearing waters.
Or like Achilles’ scion, known by a famous
struck down by a tile hurled from an enemy hand.
Nor let your bones lie more happily than Pyrrhus’,
that were scattered over the roads of Ambracia.
Die driven through by javelins like one born
of Pyrrhus: nor may that rite of Ceres hide
And like that king’s scion spoken of just now in my verse,
drink the aphrodisiac juice given you by your parent.
Or be said to have been killed by a sacred adultress,
as Leucon fell to an avenger said to be holy.
Ibis:311-364 The Litany of Maledictions: Ancient Torments
May you send those dearest
to you to the pyre,
an ending to his life that Sardanapalus
Like those about to violate the temple
of Libyan Jove,
may the sand driven by south winds bury your face.
Like those killed by the later Darius’s
may the ash as it subsides consume your visage.
Or like he who once set out from olive-rich
may hunger and cold be the causes of your death.
Or like the Atarnean may you be brought,
to your lord as a prize, sewn inside a bull’s-hide.
May your throat be cut in your room, like him
of Pherae, whose own wife killed him with a
Like Aleuas of Larissa, by your wound, may
those faithless whom you thought were faithful to you.
Like Milo, under whose tyranny Pisa suffered,
may you be hurled alive into shrouded waters.
And may the weapons sent by Jove against Adimantus,
who ruled the Phyllesian kingdom, find you too.
Or like Lenaeus once from
may you be left naked on Achillean soil.
And as Eurydamas was drawn three times round
the tomb of Thrasyllus by hostile Larissean
as Hector who often rendered the walls safe,
them with his body, they not long surviving him,
as the adulterer was dragged over Athenian
while Hippomenes’ daughter suffered
so, when that hated life has departed your limbs,
may avenging horses drag your vile body.
May some rock pierce your entrails, as once
the Greeks were pierced in the Euboean Bay:
and as the fierce ravager died by lightning and the waves,
so may the waters that drown you be helped by fire.
May your crazed mind too be driven by frenzies,
like a man who’s whole body is a single wound:
as Dryas’s son who held the kingdom of
he who was disparately shod on his two feet,
or as Oetean Hercules was once,
Athamas the serpent’s son-in-law,
Orestes Tisamenus’s father, and
Alcmaeon Callirhoe’s husband.
May your mother be no more chaste than her whom
would have blushed to have as a daughter-in-law:
or the Locrian who, disguised as her murdered
servant, joined in love with her brother-in-law.
And may the gods grant you have such joy in your wife’s
loyalty as Talaus, or
or such a wife as the daughters of Belus, who
dared to plan
their cousins’ deaths, whose necks bow, carrying water.
May your sister burn with fire as Byblis and
did, and not prove true except in their sinning.
If you’ve a daughter, may she be what Pelopea was
to Thyestes, Myrrha to
her father, Nyctimene to hers.
Nor let her be more pious and careful of her father’s life
than yours was Pterelaus, or yours
Nisus, towards you:
or she who made a place infamous with her crime’s name,
trampling and crushing her father’s limbs under the wheels.
Ibis:365-412 The Litany of Maledictions: Ancient Torments
May you die like the young
men of Pisa, whose face
and limbs the mountain slopes outside received:
as Oenomaus who stained that soil more
that was often drenched by the blood of wretched princes,
as that cruel tyrant’s traitorous charioteer,
died, who gave a new name to Myrtoan waters:
as those who sought in vain the speeding girl,
Atalanta, she who was slowed by the three
those in the hidden cave changed to new monstrous shapes,
never to return from the house of the dark one:
like those whose bodies violent Aeacides
to the high pyre, aged men, and then women:
like those we read of, whom the vile Sphinx
those defeated by the tortuous questions she uttered:
like those sacrificed in Bistonian
for whom the goddess’s glance is even now hidden:
like those who once were made into a banquet
in the blood-stained stables of Diomede
like those who encountered the lions of
or suffered the Tauric rites of
like the terrified men that ravening Scylla,
opposing Charybdis, snatched from the
like those consumed in Polyphemus’s vast
like those who fell into Laestrygonian
like those the Punic leader drowned in the waters
of the well, making the depths white with their ashes:
as Penelope’s twelve handmaids died, and the
and the chief of the tyrants who armed the suitors:
as the wrestler died, thrown by the Boetian
his conqueror astonished that he had died:
or the strong men crushed in that Antaeus’s
or those killed by the savage crowd of Lemnian
or the one, denounced for wicked rites, on whom
a stricken victim, at last, brought down vast rains:
like Antaeus’s brother, Busiris, bound by
who stained the field, and died by his example:
like the impious man who having poor grass
for fodder, fed his horses on human entrails:
like those two Centaurs,
Nessus, and Eurytion, son-in-law
of Dexamenus, killed, with separate wounds,
by the same avenger:
like one from his city that your great-grandson,
Asclepius, himself saw restored to life:
like Sinis and Sciron and
his father Procrustes:
and the Minotaur, half man and half bull:
Sinis, who sent bent pine-trees from earth to air,
to gaze at the Isthmus’ seas on both sides:
and Cercyon, whom Ceres
saw with delighted
gaze, dying at the hands of Theseus.
Ibis:413-464 The Litany of Maledictions: Ancient Torments
Let these ills, and none
lighter than these, fall on you,
you whom my anger rightly heaps with curses.
Such as Achaemenides knew, abandoned on
Etna, who saw Aeneas’
Trojan sails approaching:
such a fate as Irus, too, that beggar with two
names, and those
who haunt the bridge: let it be more than you dare hope for.
May you love Plutus, god of
wealth, Ceres’ son, in vain,
and riches fail however you search for them:
and as the ebbing wave retreats in its turn,
and the soft sand washes from under your feet,
so may your fortune always vanish, who knows how,
slipping away, endlessly, flowing through your hands.
And like Erysichthon, the father of
Mestra who changed her form
repeatedly, may you be wasted by endless hunger though full-fed:
and may you not be averse to human flesh: but in whatever
way you can, may you be the Tydeus of this
And may you commit an act to make the
of the Sun hurtle back from west to east:
may you repeat the vile banquet at a Lycaonian
trying to mislead Jupiter with a deceptive food:
and I beg someone to test the power of the god,
serve you as Tantalus’s son, or the son of
And scatter your limbs through the open fields
like the ones that delayed a father’s pursuit.
May you imitate real bulls in Perillus’s
with cries that match the contours of the beast:
like cruel Phalaris, your tongue first slit
with a sword,
may you bellow like an ox in that Paphian metal.
When you wish to return to years of youth, may you
be deceived like Pelias,
Admetus’s old father-in-law.
Or may you be drowned, as you ride, sucked down
by the mud, so long as your name wins no renown.
I want you to die like those born from the serpent’s teeth
that Cadmus, the Sidonian,
scattered on Theban fields.
Or as Pittheus’s scion’s did to
may ominous imprecations descend on your head:
like one cursed by the birds without warning,
who purifies his body in a shower of water
And may you suffer as many wounds as they say
they suffered, whom a knife used to cut at from beneath.
And, inspired, slash your private parts to
like those whom Cybele, the Mother,
and like Attis, once a man, become not man or
and strike the harsh cymbals with effeminate hand,
and at a stroke become one of the Great
turned, in one swift step, from winner to sacrifice.
And lest Limon should suffer his punishment alone,
may a horse with cruel teeth feed on your entrails.
Or like Cassandreus, no gentler than his
be wounded and buried under a pile of earth.
Or like the infant Perseus, or the
may you fall, confined, into the ocean waves.
Ibis:465-540 The Litany of Maledictions: Ancient Torments
Or be struck down, a
sacrifice to Apollo at the holy altars,
as Theudotus suffered death from a savage enemy.
Or may Abdera set you apart for certain days,
and many stones hail down on you, accursed.
Or may you suffer the three-pronged bolts of angry Jove,
like Hipponous’s son, Capaneus, or
or Autonoe’s sister, Semele, or
like Phaethon who guided the terrified
horses he chose:
like the cruel scion of Aeolus, and his
son of that blood,
of whom Arctos was begot, that never knows
or as Macelo and her husband, struck down by
so, I pray, may you die by the fire of the divine avenger.
And may you be their prize to whom is
not before the day Thasos needed to be wasted:
and those who tore apart Actaeon catching shy
Artemis bathing, and
Linus, scion of Crotopus.
Nor may you suffer less from a poisonous snake
than Eurydice, daughter-in-law of
Calliope and old Oeagrus:
than Hypsipyle’s ward,
Opheltes: than he, of famous horses,
who first fastened a sharp point into hollowed wood.
May you approach high places no more safely than
and suffer the effects of wine in the same way he did.
And die as tamely, as whoever delighted in calling
savage Dryops to his Theiodamantine weapons:
or as cruel Cacus died, crushed, in his cave,
given away by the bellowing of oxen inside:
or Lichas who brought Nessus’
gift steeped in venom,
and stained the Euboean waters with his blood.
Or like Prometheus may you hang in
from a high rock, or, as books tell, die
as Aegeus who saw the deceptive sail of
as the child, Astyanax, thrown from the
as Ino, the nurse, also aunt, of
as Talus who found a saw the cause of
as the envious girl who threw herself from high cliffs,
who had spoken evil words to the unconquered god.
May a brooding lioness of your country, attack you
in your native fields, and be the cause of a death like Phalaecus’.
May the wild boar that killed Lycurgus’s
son, and Adonis
born of a tree, and brave Idmon, destroy you
And may it even wound you as it dies, like him
on whom the mouth, he had transfixed, closed.
Or may you be like the Phrygian, the Berecyntian hunter,
whom a pine tree killed in the same way.
If your ship touches the Minoan sands,
may the Cretan crowd think you’re from Corfu.
May you be buried in a falling house, like the offspring
of Aleus, when Jove’s star befriended a scion
Or may you give your name to the flowing waters,
like Evenus or Tiberinus,
drowned in the rushing river.
May you be worthy of truncation, like that son of Astacus,
Melanippus, a maimed corpse, your head
eaten by your fellow men,
or may you give your burning limbs to the kindling pyre,
as they say Broteas did in his desire for
May you suffer death shut in a cave,
like that author of unprofitable stories.
And as fierce iambics harm their creator,
may your insolent tongue be your destruction.
And like him who wounded Athens with endless
song, die hated through a deficiency of food.
And as it’s said the poet of the grim lyre perished
may a wound to your right hand be the cause of ruin.
And as a serpent wounded Agamemnonian
may you too die of an envenomed sting.
May the first night of your marriage be the last
of your life: so Eupolis and his new bride
And as they say the tragedian Lycophron
may an arrow pierce you, and cling to your entrails.
Or be torn apart and scattered in the woods by your kin,
as Pentheus at
Thebes, grandson of the serpent, Cadmus.
May you be caught by a raging bull, dragged over wild
mountains, as Lycus’s imperial wife
Dirce was dragged.
May your severed tongue lie there, before your feet,
as Philomela, her own sister’s unwilling
And like dull Myrrha’s author,
Cinna, harmed by his name,
may you be found scattered about throughout the city.
Ibis:541-596 The Litany of Maledictions: Ancient Torments
And may that artisan, the
bee, bury his venomous
sting in your eye, as he did to the Achaean poet.
And, on the harsh cliff, may your entrails be torn
like Prometheus, whose brother’s daughter
May you follow Thyestes’ example, like
and, carved in pieces, enter your father’s gut.
May the cruel sword maim your trunk, and mutilate
the parts, as they say Mamertas’s limbs were maimed.
Or may a noose close the passage of your breath
as the Syracusan poet’s throat was stopped.
Or may your naked entrails be revealed by stripping
your skin, like Marsyas who named a
Unhappy, may you see Medusa’s
that dealt death to many of the Cephenes.
Like Glaucus, be bitten by the horses of
or like the other Glaucus, leap into the
Or may Cretan honey choke your windpipe, like
who had the same name as the two I’ve mentioned.
May you drink anxiously, where Socrates,
wisest of men,
accused by Anytus, once drank with
Nor may you be happier than Haemon in your
or may you possess your sister as Macareus
Or see what Hector’s son,
Astyanax, saw from his
native citadel, when all was gripped by flames.
May you pay for infamies in your offspring, as for his grandfather,
that father’s son, by whose crime his
sister became a mother.
And may that kind of weapon cling to your bones, with which
they say Ulysses, the son-in-law of
Icarius, was killed.
And as that noisy throat was crushed in the wooden Horse,
so may your vocal passage be closed off with a thumb.
Or like Anaxarchus may you be ground in a deep mortar,
and your bones resound like grain does being pounded.
And may Apollo bury you in
Tartarus’s depths like
father, Crotopus, because of what he did to
his son Linus.
And may that plague affect your people, that
right hand ended, bringing aid to the wretched Argolis.
Like Hippolytus, Aethra’s
grandson, killed by Venus’s anger,
may you an exile, be dragged away by your terrified horses.
As a host, Polymestor, killed his
foster-child Polydorus, for
his great wealth, may a host murder you for your scant riches.
And may all your race die with you, as they say
his six brothers died with Damasicthon.
As his funeral added to the musician’s natal ills,
may a just loathing visit your existence.
Like Pelops’ sister, Niobe,
may you be hardened
to standing stone, or Battus harmed by his own
If a Spartan boy attacks the empty air with a hurled
discus, may you fall to a blow from that disc.
If any water’s struck by your flailing arms,
may it all be worse to you than the straits of
As the comic writer died in the clear waves, while
swimming, may the waters of Styx choke your
Or as shipwrecked you ride the stormy sea,
may you die on touching land, like Palinurus.
As Diana’s guardian did to
Euripides, the tragic poet
may a pack of vigilant dogs tear you to shreds.
Ibis:597-644 The Litany of Maledictions: Concluding Words
Or like a
Sicilian may you leap over the
because of whom Etna emits its wealth of flame.
May the Thracian women, thinking you
tear your limbs apart with maddened fingers.
As Althaea’s son burned in the distant
so may your pyre be lit by a burning brand.
As the Colchian bride was held captive by her
and the bride’s father, and with the father the household:
as the thinning blood ebbed from Hercules’
so may the baleful venom devour your body.
As his Athenian child avenged Lycurgus
may a wound
be left for you too to receive from a fresh weapon.
Like Milo, may you try to split open the wood with ease,
but be unable to withdraw your captive hand.
May you be hurt like Icarius, by gifts that
hand brought him from the drunken crowd.
And as a virtuous daughter brought to death
to her father, may your throat be bound in a noose.
And may you suffer starvation behind your own locked door
like the father who punished himself according to his own law.
May you outrage a phantom, like that of Minerva’s,
who stopped the straits at Aulis being an easy harbour.
Or may you pay by death for a false charge, as
was punished, and not delight in what you did not earn.
As Isindius, the host, took the life of Aethalos,
whom even now Ion, mindful, drives from his rites:
as her father himself, from duty, brought Melanthea to light,
when she was hidden in the dark because of murder,
so may your entrails be stabbed by spears,
so, I pray, may all help be withheld from you.
May such night be yours, as Dolon, the Trojan,
who by a coward’s pact, wished to drive the horses, that great
May you have no quieter a sleep than Rhesus,
and his comrades before him on death’s road:
like those that forceful Nisus son of
Hyrtacus, and his friend
Euryalus, sent to their deaths with Rhamnes
Or like the scion of Clinias, surrounded by dark fires,
may you bear your half-burned bones to a Stygian
Or like Remus who dared to leap the new-made
walls, may a simple spear take your life.
Last, I pray that you may live and die in this place,
between the Sarmatian
and the Getan arrows.
Meanwhile lest you complain that I’ve forgotten you,
these words are sent to you in a hasty work.
It’s brief indeed, I confess: but, by their favour, may the gods
grant more than I ask, and multiply the power of my prayers.
You’ll read more in time, containing your true name,
in that metre in which bitter wars should be waged.
The End of Ibis
Comment: Although Wikipedia (2010) states that "no
scholarly consensus exists as to whom the poet was directing" this
verbal assault, the article identifies Titus Labienus, a renowned
advocate of free speech who ended his own life when his works were
suppressed, as a possible target. This speculation, like the one
that identifies his friend Sabinus as the target of Ovid's wrath,
strikes the librarian as off the mark. It seems much more likely
that "Ibis" was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (Octavius/Octavian),
who exiled Ovid to Tomis on the Black Sea, since the poem is almost
entirely directed against evil kings and their progeny, with curses
of exile: "May you be in a place far from Elysian Fields, and be
exiled, where the guilty host abide." "Like Hippolytus, Aethra’s
grandson, killed by Venus’s anger, may you an exile, be dragged away
by your terrified horses." Another clue as to Ibis' great
power and influence appears in the verse: "Ibis’s day brought
ruin to our people." Examples of death and misfortune to kings
and their children follow:
- "And Ixion, beaten, driven by his wheel’s
swift circling." [Ixion: King of Lapithae, was bound
by Jupiter to a fiery wheel that turns in the underworld.]
- "Nor let your grief be less than Telephus’,
who drank from the doe’s teat, and armed received a wound,
unarmed help." [Telephus: King of Teuthrantia, was
wounded by Achilles’ spear.]
- "Nor see more than Oedipus whom his
daughter guided, both her parents being acknowledged sinners."
[Oedipus: King of Thebes, unwittingly killed his parents,
then blinded himself, was led around by his daughter.]
- "And as that man, Phineus, by whose
command a dove of Pallas was sent out to lead the way, and be a
guide to the Argo." [Phineus: King of Salmydessus in
Thrace, was blinded by the gods and plagued by Harpies for
prophesying the future accurately.]
- "Or like Cychreus, who snatched Eurylochus’
crown, let your body be food for ravenous serpents." [Cychreus:
King of Salamis, was killed by a serpent.]
- Or like Phoenix, child of Amyntor, the
loved will be hated through shameful desire, and the son wounded
by the cruel sword. [Amyntor: King of Ormenium,
blinded his son Phoenix and cursed him with childlessness after
the king's concubine accused him of violating her.]
- "Or like Achilles’ scion, known by a
famous name, struck down by a tile hurled from an enemy hand."
[Achilles: Son of Peleus, King of Thessaly; Pyrrhus
was his son.]
- "May you send those dearest to you to the
pyre, an ending to his life that Sardanapalus knew." [Sardanapalus:
King of Assyrian Ninevah, set fire to his palace and killed
himself after his court was besieged by the Medes.]
- "May your mother be no more chaste than
her whom Tydeus would have blushed to have as a
daughter-in-law." [Tydeus: King of Calydon, mortally
wounded and gnawed on the skull and ate the brains of his
opponent, was killed by Athene; his son, Diomedes, loved
- "And may the gods grant you have such joy
in your wife’s loyalty as Talaus, or Agamemnon." [Talaus:
King of Argos; Agamemnon: King of Mycenae, murdered by
his wife Clytaemnestra.]
- "If you’ve a daughter, may she be what
Pelopea was to Thyestes, Myrrha to her father, Nyctimene to
hers. Nor let her be more pious and careful of her father’s life
than yours was Pterelaus, or yours Nisus, towards you." [Thyestes:
Son of Pelops, feuded with his brother Atreus over the kingship
of Mycenae, his brother Atreus and his wife killed his children,
cooked them, and served them to him at a banquet; Myrrha:
mother of Adonis through incest with her father Cinryas, King of
Panchaeia; Nyctimene: daughter of Epopeus, King of
Lesbos, unknowingly slept with her father, and was changed by
Minerva into an owl; Pterelaus: Son of Poseidon, King of
Taphos, his daughter Amphitryon cut off his golden locks and
killed him; Nisus: King of Megara, his daughter Scylla
cut off his purple lock which betrayed the city.]
- "As Oenomaus who stained that soil more
deeply, himself, that was often drenched by the blood of
wretched princes." [Oenomaus: King of Pisa, was
killed by Myrtilus, his charioteer, in a crash.]
- "Like Antaeus’s brother, Busiris, bound by
that blood, who stained the field, and died by his example."
[Antaeus: King of Lybia; his brother Busiris, King
of Egypt, sacrificed strangers to Jupiter, was killed by
- "May you repeat the vile banquet at a
Lycaonian table, trying to mislead Jupiter with a deceptive
food: and I beg someone to test the power of the god, serve you
as Tantalus’s son, or the son of Tereus." [Lycaon:
King of Arcadia, presided over cannibalistic practices, and was
transformed into a wolf by Zeus; Tantalus: King of
Phrygia, served his son Pelops to the gods at a banquet and was
punished with eternal thirst in Hades; Tereus: King of
Thrace, raped his wife Procne’s sister, cut out her tongue,
Procne then served him the flesh of his murdered son and turned
him into a bird.]
- "As Aegeus who saw the deceptive sail of
Theseus’s ship." [Aegeus: father of Theseus, King of
Athens, leapt to his death when Theseus forgot to raise a white
sail on his return to Athens.]
- "May the wild boar that killed Lycurgus’s
son, and Adonis born of a tree, and brave Idmon, destroy you
too." [Lycurgus: King of Edoni of Thrace, opposed
Bacchus’ entry into his kingdom so was driven mad, then killed
his son Dryas and hewed his own foot with an axe thinking
both were vines of Bacchus, torn to pieces with wild horses on
the orders of Bacchus; Adonis: son of Myrrha by her
father Cinyras, was killed by a wild boar; Idmon: son of
Apollo, was killed by a wild boar.]
- "May you be buried in a falling house,
like the offspring of Aleus, when Jove’s star befriended a scion
of Leoprepeus." [Aleus: King of Tegea.]
- "Or may you give your name to the flowing
waters, like Evenus or Tiberinus, drowned in the rushing river."
[Evenus: son of Mars, drowned himself in the river
Lycormas after his daughter was stolen; Tiberinus, king,
drowned in the river Tiber.]
- "Or be torn apart and scattered in the
woods by your kin, as Pentheus at Thebes, grandson of the
serpent, Cadmus." [Pentheus: King of Thebes, rejected
the worship of Bacchus, was torn to pieces by the Bacchantes;
Cadmus: Son of the Phoenician King Agenor.]
- "Nor may you be happier than Haemon in
your love." [Haemon: King of Thebes, committed
suicide when his love Antigone died.]
- "And may that kind of weapon cling to your
bones, with which they say Ulysses, the son-in-law of Icarius,
was killed." [Ulysses, King of Ithaca, was killed by
Telegonus with a spear armed with the spine of a sting-ray.]
- "As a host, Polymestor, killed his
foster-child Polydorus, for his great wealth, may a host murder
you for your scant riches." [Polymestor: King of
Thrace, killed his nephew Polydorus, was blinded and murdered by
Polydorus’ mother Hecuba.]
- "May you have no quieter a sleep than
Rhesus, and his comrades before him on death’s road." [Rhesus:
King of Thrace, was killed by Ulysses and Diomedes in a night
raid at Troy.]
Ibis:465-540 The city in Thrace. It was publicly purified once a
year and one of the burghers set apart for that purpose was stoned
to death as a scapegoat. He was excommunicated six days before in
order to ‘bear the sins of the people’. (See Frazer: The Golden
Bough LVIII: The Human Scapegoat in Ancient Greece.)
A town at the narrows of the Dardanelles, opposite Sestos.
Ibis:541-596 Swum by Leander, hence a destructive passage.
A companion of Ulysses left behind in Sicily and rescued by Aeneas.
See Aeneid Book III:588.
Ibis:413-464 A castaway.
The Greek hero of the Trojan War. The son of Peleus, king of
Thessaly, and the sea-goddess Thetis, (See Homer’s Iliad).
Ibis:251-310 Pyrrhus (Neoptolemus) was his son.
Ibis:311-364 Achilles came from Thessaly.
The grandson of Cadmus, son of Autonoë, called Hyantius from an
ancient name for Boeotia. He saw Diana bathing naked and was turned
into a stag. Pursued by his hounds, he was torn to pieces by his own
pack. (See the Metope of Temple E at Selinus – the Death of Actaeon
– Palermo, National Museum: and Titian’s painting – the Death of
Actaeon – National Gallery, London.) See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book
Ibis:465-540 Torn apart by the hounds.
The husband of Alcestis who agreed to die on his behalf.
Ibis:413-464 Pelias was his father-in-law.
Ibis:465-540 The son of Myrrha by her father Cinyras, born after her
transformation into a myrrh-tree. (As such he is a vegetation god
born from the heart of the wood.) See Metamorphoses X:681 Venus fell
in love with him, but he was killed by a wild boar that gashed his
thigh. His blood formed the windflower, the anemone.
Descendants of Aeacus, usually Achilles or his son Pyrrhus.
Ibis:365-412 Probably Pyrrhus (Neoptolemus) at the fall of Troy.
Ibis:163-208 The son of Jupiter and Aegina, grandson of Asopus, the
river-god of the north-eastern Peloponnese. He named his island, in
the Saronic gulf, Aegina after his mother. Jupiter appointed him one
of the three judges of the Underworld. The others were Minos and
King of Colchis, son of Sol and the Oceanid Perse, brother of Circe,
and father of Medea. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book VII:1. The
Argonauts reached his court, and requested the return of the Golden
Fleece. The fleece was that of the divine ram on which Phrixus had
fled from Orchemonos, to avoid being sacrificed. Iolcus could never
prosper until it was brought back to Thessaly. King Aeetes was
reluctant and set Jason demanding tasks as a pre-condition for its
return. Medea assisted Jason to perform them.
Ibis:413-464 Medea killed her half-brother Apsyrtus, and scattered
his limbs about to delay her father’s pursuit.
Ibis:465-540 The father of Theseus and king of Athens. Theseus
forgot to raise a white sail as a signal of success on his return to
Athens from Crete and Aegeus leapt to his death in sorrow.
Son of Belus, brother of Danaus. He was King of Egypt and Arabia.
His fifty sons married the Danaides, the fifty daughters of Danaus.
Learning of his sons’ fate at the hands of the Danaids, he fled to
Aroe where he died, and was buried at Patrae in the sanctuary of
Serapis (Pausanias VII.21.6)
The Trojan son of Venus and Anchises. Aeneas escaped from Troy at
its fall, and travelled to Latium. The Julian family claimed descent
from his son Ascanius (Iulus). See Virgil’s Aeneid.
Ibis:541-596 The daughter of Pittheus King of Troezen who bore
Theseus to Aegeus of Athens.
Mount Etna. The Volcano on Sicily.
Ibis:413-464 On Sicily.
Ibis:597-644 Fuelled by the anger of the giants beneath it.
The king of Mycenae, son of Atreus, brother of Menelaüs, husband of
Clytaemnestra, father of Orestes, Iphigenia, and Electra. The leader
of the Greek army in the Trojan War. See Homer’s Iliad, and
Aeschylus’s Oresteian tragedies.
Ibis:465-540 Orestes was his son.
Ibis:311-364 The son of Amphiaraus, who killed his mother Eriphyle
for causing the death of his father, and was maddened by the Furies.
He married Callirhoe daughter of the river-god Achelous.
Ibis:465-540 The king and founder of Tegea in Arcadia, and father to
Auge, who bore Telephus to Hercules. There was an ancient statue of
Alean Athene at Tegea that Augustus moved to Rome after the defeat
of Antony, and which was placed in the Forum Augustum (vowed at
Philippi in 42BC and consecrated forty years later.)
Ibis:251-310 Scene of Philopoimen’s last defeat.
A tributary of the Tiber. The Romans were crushed by the Gauls under
Brennius in a battle by the river on 18th July 390BC, leading to the
capture and sacking of Rome. It was a day of national mourning (dies
ater) when no public business was transacted.
Ibis:209-250 A black day.
The mother of Meleager, and wife of Oeneus, king of Calydon. The
sister of the Thestiadae, Plexippus and Toxeus. She sought revenge
for their deaths at the hands of her own son, Meleager, and threw
into the fire the piece of wood that was linked to Meleager’s life,
and which she had once rescued from the flames, at the time of the
Fates prophecy to her.
Ibis:311-364 A town in Paphlagonia in Asia Minor, on a peninsula
jutting into the Black Sea. It was mentioned by Homer (Iliad, II,
853), was a flourishing town in the time of Trajan (98-117), and was
of some importance until the seventh century AD. Lenaeus was a title
of Bacchus as lord of the wine-press. The reference is obscure.
Ibis:251-310 The region of western Greece in Epirus, round the Gulf
Ibis:251-310 King of Ormenium, near Mount Pelion. His concubine
Phthia accused his son Phoenix of violating her. Amyntor blinded him
and cursed him with childlessness.
Ibis:365-412 The King of Lybia, son of Neptune and Earth, whom
Hercules defeated by lifting him off the ground in a wrestling
match. He gained strength from touching the ground. Busiris was his
The daughter of Oedipus, King of Thebes. She performed the burial
rites for her brother Polynices, though King Creon had forbidden it
because of her brother’s role in the war of the Seven against
Thebes. See Sophocles’ Antigone.
Ibis:251-310 She acted as guide to her blinded father Oedipus.
Book TV.XII:1-68 Ibis:541-596 An Athenian democrat, one of the
accusers of Socrates. See Plato’s Apology.
Son of Jupiter and Latona (Leto), brother of Diana (Artemis), born
on Delos. God of poetry, art, medicine, prophecy, archery, herds and
flocks, and of the sun.
Ibis:105-134 The god of prophecy.
Ibis:251-310 Tiresias was gifted with prophecy, Apollo’s art.
Ibis:465-540 Sacrificed to at the altars.
Ibis:541-596 The father of Linus.
The north wind. As a god he is Boreas.
The ship of Jason and the Argonauts, built with the aid of Athene.
The Argonauts sailed her to the Black Sea to find the Golden Fleece.
Ibis:251-310 Athene-Minerva protected the Argo, and her sacred dove
was sent ahead through the clashing rocks to guide the ship.
A daughter of Minos. Half-sister of the Minotaur, and sister of
Phaedra who helped Theseus escape the Cretan Labyrinth. She fled to
Dia with Theseus and he abandoned her there, but she was rescued by
Bacchus, and her crown was set among the stars as the Corona
Borealis. (See Titian’s painting – Bacchus and Ariadne – National
Gallery, London: and Annibale Carracci’s fresco – The triumph of
Bacchus and Ariadne – Farnese Palace, Rome)). The Northern Crown,
the Corona Borealis, is a constellation between Hercules and Serpens
Caput, consisting of an arc of seven stars, its central jewel being
the blue-white star Gemma.
Ibis:251-310 This a variant of her fate.
The son of Coronis and Apollo, hence great grandson of Saturn, and
named Coronides. He was saved by Apollo from his mother’s body and
given to Chiron the Centaur to rear. He is represented in the sky by
the constellation Ophiucus near Scorpius, depicting a man entwined
in the coils of a serpent, consisting of the split constellation,
Serpens Cauda and Serpens Caput, which contains Barnard’s star,
having the greatest proper motion of any star and being the second
nearest to the sun. He restored Hippolytus and others to life. He
saved Rome from the plague, and becomes a resident god. (His cult
centre was Epidaurus where there was a statue of the god with a
golden beard. Cicero mentions that Dionysius the Elder, Tyrant of
Syracuse wrenched off the gold. (‘On the Nature of the Gods, Bk III
82). Asclepius himself was killed and restored to life by
Ibis:365-412 Great grandson of Saturn, via Jupiter and Apollo.
Ibis:465-540 Ibis:541-596 The son of Hector and Andromache, who at
the fall of Troy was hurled from the citadel onto the rocks below,
or as some sources say leapt to his death.
The daughter of King Schoeneus of Boeotia, famous for her swift
running. Warned against marriage by the oracle, her suitors were
forced to race against her on penalty of death for losing. She fell
in love with Hippomenes. He raced with her, and by use of the golden
apples, won the race and her. (See Guido Reni’s painting – Atalanta
and Hippomenes – Naples, Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte)
Ibis:365-412 The golden apples.
Ibis:311-364 A city in Mysia in Asia Minor, opposite Mytilene the
city of Lesbos. Herodotus I.160. The incident described is obscure.
Ibis:311-364 The son of Aeolus, who married Ino, Cadmus’s daughter.
He was maddened by Hera (See Metamorphoses IV:512). Ovid also refers
to the myth in which Cadmus and his wife Harmonia were turned into
serpents. (See Metamorphoses IV:563)
The patron goddess of Athens, born fully grown and armed from the
head of Zeus. Associated with virginity, olive-cultivation, domestic
arts (spinning, weaving, and pottery etc) wisdom, learning,
technology and the mind.
The chief city of Attica in Greece, sacred to Minerva ( Pallas
A high promontory of the Macedonian Chalcidice, on a peninsula in
the northern Aegean.
Ibis:163-208 Snow covered in winter.
Ibis:413-464 A Phrygian shepherd, loved by Cybele. An incarnation of
the vegetation god, the consort of the Great Goddess. He castrated
himself and became a sexless follower of hers. See Catullus:63.
The Emperor Augustus Caesar (63BC –14AD). (The title was also
granted to Tiberius). Augustus was Julius Caesar’s grand-nephew,
whom Julius adopted and declared as his heir, Octavius Caesar
(Octavian). (The honorary title Augustus was bestowed by the Senate
16th Jan 27BC). He married Scribonia and then Livia. He exiled Ovid
to the Black Sea region in 8AD for ‘a poem and a mistake’ (carmen et
error). The poem probably the Ars Amatoria, the mistake probably
something to do with the notorious Julias’ set (the younger Julia,
Augustus’s grandaughter, was banished as was the Elder Julia his
daughter), that Ovid knew of and repeated. He may possibly have
witnessed ‘an illegal’, that is politically unacceptable, marriage
between Julia the Younger and her lover. (She subsequently had an
illegitimate child while in exile).
Ibis:1-40 He allowed Ovid to retain his possessions.
The god Dionysus, the ‘twice-born’, the god of the vine. The son of
Jupiter-Zeus and Semele. His worship was celebrated with orgiastic
rites borrowed from Phrygia. His female followers are the Maenades.
He carries the thyrsus, a wand tipped with a pine-cone, the Maenads
and Satyrs following him carrying ivy-twined fir branches as thyrsi.
(See Caravaggio’s painting – Bacchus – Uffizi, Florence) He was
equated by the Romans with Liber the fertility god. See Euripides’
Bacchae. Also called Lenaeus, ‘of the winepress’.
Ibis:465-540 Nursed by Persephone and by the nymphs of Mount Nysa.
Ibis:41-104 Ovid used a poem of Callimachus as a model and adopted
the name of Ibis for his enemy.
Ibis:541-596 A countryman changed by Mercury into a flint
(touchstone, the ‘informer’) See Metamorphoses II:676
A Thracian people of the Aegean coast around Abdera and Dicaea, and
as far west as the Nestos. Used by Ovid and others as a term for the
Ibis:465-540 A son of Tantalus. He committed suicide in the flames
because of his ugliness, or as some say on being driven mad by
A king of Egypt who sacrificed strangers to Jupiter, killed by
Hercules. He was the brother of Antaeus of Libya.
Ibis:365-412 An example of cruelty.
Ibis:311-364 The daughter of Miletus, and Cyanee, twin sister of
Caunus.The twins were noted for their beauty. Byblis fell in love
with Caunus and wooed him incestuously. See Metamorphoses IX:439.
Ibis:465-540 The three-headed giant who lived in a cave, stole
Hercules’ cattle, and was killed by him. The bellowing of the stolen
bulls gave him away.
The son of the Phoenician king Agenor, who searched for his sister
Europa stolen by Jupiter. The founder of (Boeotian)Thebes. The
father of Semele.
Ibis:413-464 Athene commanded him to sow the teeth of the serpent
(from the snake of the Castalian Spring, that he had killed) in the
soil of Thebes. The Sparti or sown men were born from the soil, and
they fought each other until only five were left.
Ibis:465-540 Grandfather of Pentheus.
The Muse of epic poetry. The mother of Orpheus.
Ibis:465-540 The mother of Orpheus.
A nymph of Nonacris in Arcadia, a favourite of Phoebe-Diana. The
daughter of Lycaon, and descended from Atlas. Jupiter raped her and
pregnant by him she was expelled from the band of Diana’s virgin
followers by Diana as Cynthia, in her Moon goddess mode. She gave
birth to a son Arcas, and was turned into a bear by Juno. Her
constellation is the Great Bear.
Ibis:465-540 Callisto the daughter of Lycaon.
The daughter of Aeolus, God of the Winds and Enarete. Her ill-fated
love for her brother Macareus was the theme of Euripides’ Aeolus.
The son of Hipponous and Astynome. One of the seven leaders who
attacked Thebes. He was killed by Zeus’s lightning bolt when
attempting to scale the walls (or attack the Electra Gate). His wife
Evadne threw herself into his funeral pyre.
Ibis:465-540 Blasted by Jove’s lightning.
Ibis:413-464 His fate.
Creatures, half-man and half-horse living in the mountains of
Thessaly, hence called biformes, duplex natura, semihomines,
They were the sons of Ixion, and a cloud, in the form of Juno.
Invited to the marriage feast of Pirithoüs and Hippodamia, Eurytus
the Centaur precipitated a fight with the Lapithae.
Ibis:365-412 The Centaurs Nessus and Eurytion.
The Corn Goddess. The daughter of Saturn and Rhea, and Jupiter’s
sister. As Demeter she is represented in the sky by the
constellation and zodiacal sign of Virgo, holding an ear of wheat,
the star Spica. It contains the brightest quasar, 3C 273. (The
constellation alternatively depicts Astraea.) The worship of her and
her daughter Persephone, as the Mother and the Maiden, was central
to the Eleusinian mysteries, where the ritual of the rebirth of the
world from winter was enacted. Ceres was there a representation of
the Great Goddess of Neolithic times, and her daughter her
incarnation, in the underworld and on earth. Her most famous cult in
Rome was on the Aventine, and dated from the 5th century BC.
Ibis:251-310 Her rites were the Eleusinian mysteries. The reference
Ibis:365-412 Her delight at the death of Cercyon.
Ibis:413-464 The mother of Plutus.
Ibis:365-412 A brigand who wrestled with travellers and crushed them
to death. He was served in the same way by Theseus, to Ceres great
The whirlpool between Italy and Sicily in the Messenian straits.
Charybdis was the voracious daughter of Mother Earth and Neptune,
hurled into the sea, and thrice, daily, drawing in and spewing out a
huge volume of water.
See Homer’s Odyssey Book XII.
Ibis:365-412 Ulysses’ men caught in the whirlpool.
Ibis:163-208 The southeast coastal region of Asia Minor,
incorporated into the Empire from 67BC when Pompey suppressed the
endemic piracy of the coastal area. Famous for its saffron, derived
from crocus flowers.
Gaius Helvius Cinna, the neoteric poet and friend of Catullus and a
student of Valerius Cato. His epyllion Zmyrna described the incest
between Myrrha and her father Cinyras. He also wrote light verse.
Mistaken for one of the conspirators, the praetor Lucius Cornelius
Cinna, after Julius Caesar’s assassination, he was killed by the
mob. See Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
The river Cinyps of North Africa flowing into the sea near the
Syrtes. In the Metamorphoses Medea uses one of its water snakes as
an ingredient for her magic potion. Ovid also gives it as Juba’s
place of origin.
Ibis:209-250 Cursed soil.
The sea-nymph, daughter of Sol and Perse, and the granddaughter of
Oceanus. (Kirke or Circe means a small falcon) She was famed for her
beauty and magic arts and lived on the ‘island’ of Aeaea, which is
the promontory of Circeii. (Cape Circeo between Anzio and Gaeta, on
the west coast of Italy, now part of the magnificent Parco Nazionale
del Circeo extending to Capo Portiere in the north, and providing a
reminder of the ancient Pontine Marshes before they were drained:
rich in wildfowl and varied tree species.) Cicero mentions that
Circe was worshipped religiously by the colonists at Circei. (‘On
the Nature of the Gods’, Bk III 47)
(See John Melhuish Strudwick’s painting – Circe and Scylla – Walker
Art Gallery, Sudley, Merseyside, England: See Dosso Dossi’s painting
- Circe and her Lovers in a Landscape- National gallery of Art,
She transformed Ulysses’s men into beasts. Mercury gave him the
plant moly to enable him to approach her. He married her and freed
his men, staying for a year on her island. (Moly has been variously
identified as ‘wild rue’, wild cyclamen, and a sort of garlic,
allium moly. John Gerard’s Herbal of 1633 Ch.100 gives seven plants
under this heading, of which the third, Moly Homericum, is he
suggests the Moly of Theophrastus, Pliny and Homer – Odyssey XX –
and he describes it as a wild garlic). Circe was the mother by
Ulysses of Telegonus.
One of the three Fates. Clotho spins the thread. Lachesis measures
it. Atropos wields the shears.
Ibis:209-250 She spins Ibis’s fate.
Ibis:541-596 He destroyed the Harpy, Poene, visited on Argos by
Apollo after Crotopus’s crime of killing Linus and Psamathe. A
plague then descended on the Argolis, which was ended by Corobeus
confessing to his act at Delphi, and being sent out to build a
temple to Apollo wherever the sacred tripod he was carrying fell to
Ibis:541-596 The Argive father of Psamathe who killed her son Linus.
The Phrygian great goddess, Magna Mater, the Great Mother,
personifying the earth in its savage state, worshipped in caves and
on mountaintops. Merged with Rhea, the mother of the gods. Her
consort was Attis, slain by a wild boar like Adonis. His festival
was celebrated by the followers of Cybele, the Galli, or Corybantes,
who were noted for convulsive dances to the music of flutes, drums
and cymbals, and self-mutilation in an orgiastic fury. Her worship
was introduced at Rome in 204BC. She wore a many-turretted crown,
and is often represented with many breasts.
Ibis:413-464 Worshipped with ecstatic self-mutilation.
Ibis:251-310 The first king of Salamis, in some versions of myth the
grandfather of Telamon. He killed, bred, or was killed by a serpent
in various mythological variants. He is said to have appeared to the
Greek fleet at the Battle of Salamis as a snake.
Ibis:413-464 The son of Apollo and Hyrie, a great hunter of Tempe.
He is turned into a swan when he attempts suicide to spite Phylius
by diving into a lake, thereafter called the Cycnean Lake. Ovid
gives a variant myth here. See Metamorphoses VII:350
Ibis:541-596 Possibly Damasicthon son of Kodros, the Ionian.
The fifty daughters of Danaüs, granddaughters of Belus, king of
They were forced to marry their cousins, the fifty sons of Aegyptus,
and, with one exception, Hypermnestra, who saved the life of Lynceus
because he preserved her virginity, killed them on their wedding
night. The others were punished in Hades by having to fill a
bottomless cistern with water carried in leaking sieves.
Ibis:163-208 Ibis:311-364 Their crime and punishment.
Darius III, King of Persia (d 330 BC). He was defeated by Alexander
the Great at Issus. Alexander subsequently gave Darius rites of
burial after he had been murdered by his own kin.
Ibis:311-364 Ovid may intend Darius III (not the second, who was not
historically significant) Codomannus, defeated by Alexander at the
Issus in 333BC and Gaugamela in 331BC, and subsequently murdered by
the satrap Bessus. The incident referred to is unclear.
Delos, Delia tellus
The Greek island in the Aegean, one of the Cyclades, birthplace of,
and sacred to, Apollo (Phoebus) and Diana (Phoebe, Artemis), hence
the adjective Delian. Its ancient name was Ortygia. A wandering
island it gave sanctuary to Latona (Leto). Having been hounded by
jealous Juno (Hera), she gave birth there to the twins Apollo and
Diana, between an olive tree and a date-palm on the north side of
Mount Cynthus. (Pausanias VIII xlvii, mentions the sacred palm-tree,
noted there in Homer’s Odyssey 6, 162, and the ancient olive.) Delos
then became fixed in the sea. In a variant she gave birth to
Artemis-Diana on the islet of Ortygia nearby.
Ibis:465-540 Diana’s island. Possibly Ovid is referring obscurely to
the Delian league and its sacking of the island of Thasos, which
because of its gold mines was a source of riches.
Ibis:251-310 The blind Greek bard who entertains the guests in
Alcinous’ palace in Phaeacia in Homer’s Odyssey VIII.
Ibis:365-412 King of Olenus. Hercules rescued his daughter
Mnesimache from the Centaur Eurytion, the king’s son-in-law.
Ibis:465-540 The Telchines, mythical craftsmen and wizards living on
Ceos, angered the gods by blighting the fruits of the earth. Zeus
and Poseidon (or Apollo) destroyed the island and its population,
but spared Dexithea and her sisters, daughters of Damon (or Demonax),
the chief of theTelkhines, because Macelo, Dexithea’s sister, had
entertained the two gods. Macelo’s husband offended the gods, and
they were both destroyed.
Daughter of Jupiter and Latona (hence her epithet Latonia) and twin
sister of Apollo. She was born on the island of Ortygia which is
Delos (hence her epithet Ortygia). Goddess of the moon and the hunt.
She carries a bow, quiver and arrows. She and her followers are
virgins. She is worshipped as the triple goddess, as Hecate in the
underworld, Luna the moon, in the heavens, and Diana the huntress on
earth. (Skelton’s ‘Diana in the leaves green, Luna who so bright
doth sheen, Persephone in hell’) Callisto is one of her followers.
(See Luca Penni’s – Diana Huntress – Louvre, Paris, and Jean
Goujon’s sculpture (attributed) – Diana of Anet – Louvre, Paris.)
She was worshipped at the sacred grove and lake of Nemi in Aricia,
as Diana Nemorensis, and the rites practised there are the starting
point for Frazer’s ‘The Golden Bough’ (see Chapter I et seq.) She
hid Hippolytus, and set him down at Aricia (Nemi), as her consort
Virbius. The Romans identified the original Sabine goddess Diana
with the Greek Artemis and established her cult on the Aventine.
Strabo mentions the connection of the cult of Aricia with the Tauric
Chersonese (5.3.12, C.239)
Ibis:465-540 Delos was her island.
Ibis:541-596 Her pack of hounds. Cerberus was an incarnation of
Hecate, a mask of Diana.
The Thracian King of the Bistones who fed his horses on human flesh.
Their capture formed Hercules’s eighth labour.
Ibis:465-540 The wife of Lycus, King of Thebes, who mistreated her
niece Antiope. Antiope was rescued by her sons Amphion and Zethus
who tied Dirce to the horns of a wild bull and set it loose.
The Trojan son of Eumedes. He acted as a spy in the Greek camp and
asked for the horses of Achilles as his reward. He was killed by
Ulysses and Diomedes during their raid behind the enemy lines. See
Iliad Book X.
Ibis:311-364 The son of Mars, and brother of the Thracian Tereus. If
this is the Dryas referred to, the incident of his son is obscure.
Ibis:465-540 The father of Theiodamas, who ruled the area below
Mount Parnassus, and who was easily defeated by Hercules. The
Dryopians were taken to the shrine of Apollo and made slaves.
An unidentified island, like Same, near Ithaca, and belonging to
Ulysses. Ulysses (Odysseus) and his comrades are called ‘Dulichian’.
A comrade of Ulysses. The Odyssey describes his death when he
tumbles from the roof of Circe’s house, the morning after a heavy
bout of drinking. His ghost begs Ulysses for proper burial, and for
the oar that he pulled with his comrades to be set up over his
grave. His ashes were entombed on Mount Circeo.
Ibis:465-540 His fate.
Ibis:163-208 A region of the underworld for spirits in bliss,
rewarding virtue in life.
The Underworld (also a god of darkness).
Ibis:209-250 Source of the Furies’ snake venom.
A son of Vulcan (Hephaestus), born without a mother (or born from
the Earth after Hephaestus the victim of a deception had been
repulsed by Athene). Legendary king of Athens (as Erechtheus) and a
skilled charioteer. He is represented by the constellation Auriga
the charioteer, containing the star Capella. (Alternatively the
constellation represents the she-goat Amaltheia that suckled the
infant Jupiter, and the stars ζ (zeta) and η (eta) Aurigae are her
Kids. It is a constellation visible in the winter months.)
The daughter of Icarius.
Ibis:597-644 She hung herself on finding him dead.
Ibis:413-464 The son of the Thessalian king Triopas. His daughter
was Mestra. After living off Mestra’s shape-changing skills he ended
by consuming himself. See Metamorphoses VIII:725
One of the largest of the Aegean islands close to the south-east of
Greece and stretching from the Maliac Gulf and the Gulf of Pagasae
in the north to the island of Andros in the south. At Chalcis it is
less than a hundred yards from the mainland.
Ibis:465-540 Lichas hurled there.
A mythical Thracian singer, the son of Poseidon and Chione (the
daughter of Boreas and Oreithiya, making Eumolpus a decendant of
Erictheus, king of Athens), and a priest of Ceres-Demeter, who
brought the Eleusinian mysteries to Attica. He learned the mysteries
from Demeter herself or from Orpheus (see Metamorphoses Book XI:85).
The priestly clan of the Eumolpidae claimed descent from him, as the
Kerkidae did from his son Keryx. His son Ismarus married a daughter
of Tegyrius the King of Thrace, and Eumolpus himself succeeded to
the throne on their death. He taught Hercules the lyre.
Ibis:251-310 His mother Chione hurled him into his father Neptune’s
sea to avoid Boreas’s anger. Neptune saved him.
Ibis:465-540 A younger contemporary of Aristophanes, a comic poet
and playwright. An Athenian poet of the Old Comedy, he flourished at
the time of the Peloponnesian War (c. 446—411BC). Fragments of his
plays survive. May be intended here.
The tragic poet c480-406BC, one of the three major writers of Attic
tragedy, according to tradition born in Salamis on the day Xerxes’
fleet was destroyed.
Ibis:541-596 Eaten by dogs in the temple according to Hyginus Fabula
The beautiful boy in Virgil’s Aeneid (IX:176) loved by Nisus, son of
Hyrtacus, who avenged his death by killing Volcens, before dying
Ibis:597-644 Died with his friend after killing the sleeping Rhamnes.
Ibis:465-540 The wife of Orpheus, who died after being bitten by a
snake. Orpheus went to the Underworld to ask for her life, but lost
her when he broke the injunction not to look back at her. See
Metamorphoses Books X:1 and XI:1. (See also Rilke’s poem, ‘Orpheus,
Eurydice, Hermes’, and his ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’, and Gluck’s Opera ‘Orphée’).
Ibis:251-310 Supposedly a companion of Odysseus, who expelled
Cychreus, son of Neptune and Salamis, daughter of the river god
Asopus, from the throne of Salamis. Cychreus had killed a serpent to
gain the kingdom, and bred one to defend it, and Ovid has some
variant on what is a fragmentary myth whereby he was eaten by
Ibis:365-412 The Centaur. Hercules rescued Mnesimache the daughter
of King Dexamenus of Olenus from him, and apparently killed him,
though Eurytion also appears in the myth of Theseus’s fight against
Ibis:465-540 Son of Mars. He married Alcippe and had a daughter
Marpessa. Suitors contended with him for her in a chariot race, the
loser being killed. Idas stole her, and Evenus drowned himself in
the river Lycormas which became the river Evenus.
The three Fates, the Moirai, or Parcae, were goddesses born of
Erebus and Night. Clothed in white, they spin, measure out, and
sever the thread of each human life. Clotho (the Spinner) spins the
thread. Lachesis (The Assigner of Destinies) measures it. Atropos
(She Who Cannot Be Resisted) wields the shears. The Parcae were
originally Roman goddesses of childbearing but were assimilated to
the Fates who preside over birth marriage and death.
Ibis:41-104 Powers invoked by Ovid.
Furiae, the Furies
The Furies, Erinyes, or Eumenides (ironically ‘The Kindly Ones’).
The Three Sisters, were Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera, the daughters
of Night and Uranus. They were the personified pangs of cruel
conscience that pursued the guilty. (See Aeschylus – The Eumenides).
Their abode was in Hades by the Styx.
Ibis:41-104 The Furies sat at the ‘prison’ gate of the city of Dis.
See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book IV:416
Ibis:163-208 Their whips, snaky hair and smoking torches.
Ibis:209-250 Their ministrations to the newborn Ibis.
The sacred river of northern India.
Ibis:135-162 Its warm waters
A Thracian tribe occupying both banks of the lower Danube south and
east of the Carpathians, considered of superior intelligence by
Herodotus (4.92). Alexander defeated them. They were also called the
Daci (Dacians). Strabo ( 7.3.11-12, C.304) considers them a merging
of two tribes and aggressive by nature.
Ibis:597-644 The Getic bowmen.
Monsters, sons of Tartarus and Earth, with many arms and serpent
feet, who made war on the gods by piling up the mountains, and
overthrown by Jupiter. They were buried under Sicily.
Ibis:597-644 Buried beneath Sicily.
Ibis:541-596 The son of Sisyphus and Merope, and father of
Bellerephon, who lived at Potniae near Thebes. Aphrodite punished
him for feeding his mares on human flesh by causing them to eat him
Ibis:541-596 The Boeotian son of Anthedon or Poseidon who tasted the
herb of immortality and leapt into the sea where he became a marine
god. See Metamorphoses VII:179
Ibis:541-596 Ovid indicates another Glaucus, who drowned in honey.
This was Glaucus son of Minos, who drowned in a jar of honey in the
cellars of Cnossos, whom Polyeidus restored to life.
The son of Creon, King of Thebes and the nephew of Jocasta.
Antigone’s betrothed in the Sophoclean version, he committed suicide
at her death.
Ibis:541-596 His fate.
Ibis:251-310 The great Carthaginian commander, son of Hamilcar Barca.
Ovid may refer to the incident after Cannae when Hannibal sent ten
Roman survivors under oath to discuss ransom terms with the Senate.
One of the men sent broke his oath to return, when the Senate
refused the plea, and they then sent him back forcibly to Hannibal,
to be dealt with. They thereafter established a rule that Roman
soldiers must conquer or die in the field. (Polybius The Roman
Ibis:541-596 A Mede in the service of King Astyages, who disobeyed
his orders and failed to destroy the infant Cyrus. He was cruelly
punished by Astyages who served him his own child at a banquet. The
story is told in full in Herodotus I.107-119.
The Trojan hero, eldest son of Priam and Hecuba, the husband of
Andromache and father of Astyanax. After killing Patroclus he was
himself killed by Achilles and his body dragged round the walls of
Troy. His body was yielded to Priam for burial, and his funeral
forms the close of Homer’s Iliad.
Ibis:311-364 Book EIV.XVI:1-52 His body was dragged three times
round the walls of Troy by Achilles’ chariot.
Ibis:541-596 Father of Astyanax.
(The following material covered by Ovid in the Metamorphoses). The
Hero, son of Jupiter. He was set in the sky as the constellation
Hercules between Lyra and Corona Borealis. The son of Jupiter and
Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon (so Hercules is of Theban descent,
and a Boeotian). Called Alcides from Amphitryon’s father Alceus.
Called also Amphitryoniades. Called also Tyrinthius from Tiryns his
city in the Argolis. Jupiter predicted at his birth that a scion of
Perseus would be born, greater than all other descendants. Juno
delayed Hercules’ birth and hastened that of Eurystheus, grandson of
Perseus, making Hercules subservient to him. Hercules was set twelve
labours by Eurystheus at Juno’s instigation.
1. The killing of the Nemean lion.
2. The destruction of the Lernean Hydra. He uses the poison from the
Hydra for his arrows.
3. The capture of the stag with golden antlers.
4. The capture of the Erymanthian Boar.
5. The cleansing of the stables of Augeas king of Elis.
6. The killing of the birds of the Stymphalian Lake in Arcadia.
7. The capture of the Cretan wild bull.
8. The capture of the mares of Diomede of Thrace, that ate human
9. The taking of the girdle of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons.
10.The killing of Geryon and the capture of his oxen.
11.The securing of the apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. He
held up the sky for Atlas in order to deceive him and obtain them.
12.The bringing of the dog Cerberus from Hades to the upper world.
He fought with Acheloüs for the hand of Deianira. He married
Deianira, killed Nessus, fell in love with Iole, daughter of Eurytus
who had cheated him, and received the shirt of Nessus from the
outraged Deianira. (See Cavalli’s opera with Lully’s dances – Ercole
Amante). He was then tormented to death by the shirt of Nessus.
Ibis:365-412 He killed King Antaeus of Libya, brother of Busiris,
who was a giant, child of mother Earth, by lifting him from the
ground that gave him strength, and, cracking his ribs, held him up
until he died. He also killed Busiris, King of Egypt brother of
Antaeus, who sacrificed strangers at the altars, to fulfil a
prophecy that an eight-year drought and famine would end if he did
so.He killed the servant Lichas who brought the fatal shirt, then
built a funeral pyre, and became a constellation and was deified.
(See Canova’s sculpture – Hercules and Lichas – Galleria d’Arte
Moderna, Rome). He had asked his son Hyllus, by Deianira to marry
Iole. His birth is described when the sun is in the tenth sign,
Capricorn, i.e. at midwinter, making him a solar god. His mother’s
seven night labour would also make his birth at the new year, a week
after the winter solstice. He captured Troy and rescued Hesione,
with the help of Telamon, and gave her to Telamon in
marriage.Philoctetes received his bow and arrows after his death,
destined to be needed at Troy. Ulysses went to fetch Philoctetes and
Ibis:251-310 Sacrificing at the altars to Jupiter after taking
Oechalia, Hercules put on the shirt of Nessus, and the poison of the
Hydra tormented him, and corroded his flesh. Philoctetes received
his bow. Taught the lyre by Eumolpus whom he defeated in contest.
Hercules was the son of Jupiter connected with the shrine of Jupiter
Ammon in Libya.Ibis:311-364 Ibis:597-644 He endured the torment of
the shirt of Nessus and built his funeral pyre on Mount Oeta,
between Aetolia and Thessaly. (see Metamorphoses IX:159)
The son of Theseus and the Amazon Hippolyte. He was admired by
Phaedra, his step-mother, and was killed at Troezen, after meeting
‘a bull from the sea’. He was brought to life again by Aesculapius,
and hidden by Diana (Cynthia, the moon-goddess) who set him down in
the sacred grove at Arician Nemi, where he became Virbius, the
consort of the goddess (as Adonis was of Venus, and Attis of
Cybele), and the King of the Wood (Rex Nemorensis). All this is
retold and developed in Frazer’s monumental work, on magic and
religion, ‘The Golden Bough’ (see Chapter I et seq.). (See also
Euripides’s play ‘Hippolytos’, and Racine’s ‘Phaedra’.)
Ibis:541-596 Venus made him fall in love with Phaedra. He died when
his horses stampeded at the vision of a bull from the sea.
Ibis:311-364 The son of Megareus. Great-grandson of Neptune. Falling
in love with Atalanta, he determined to race against her, on penalty
of death for failure.By means of the golden apples he won the race
and claimed Atalanta.He desecrated Cybele’s sacred cave with the
sexual act and was turned, with Atalanta, into a lion. The reference
to his daughter is obscure, if this is the Hippomenes’ Ovid
Ibis:135-162 Its cold waters.
Megara Hyblaea, a small town in eastern Sicily, near to and north of
Syracuse, famous for its sweet-scented honey. Modern Mellili.
Ibis:163-208 Its flowery meadows.
Ibis:465-540 The daughter of Thoas, who nursed Lycurgus’s son
Opheltes. The boy was attacked and bitten to death by a serpent.
A Sarmatian tribe living near the Danube.
The mysterious enemy of Ovid, subject of his curse-poem Ibis based
on a poem of Callimachus’s. TIV.IX has close similarities with
Ibis:41-104 Ovid adopts the name Ibis as a cover for his true enemy.
Ibis:541-596 Odysseus was the above’s son-in-law.
Ibis:597-644 Also Icarius or Icarus the father of Erigone, killed by
Ida, Idaean ‘measures’
The extensive range of mountains in western Mysia, the highest peak
Gargaros rising to over 4500 feet and commanding a fine view of the
Hellespont and Propontis. There is also a Cretan Mount Ida.
Ibis:163-208 Heavily wooded.
Ibis:465-540 The seer, the son of Apollo and Cyrene. He was one of
the Argonauts and was killed by a wild boar by the river Lycus on
the Black Sea coast.
The Ithacan beggar with whom Ulysses had a boxing match on returning
to his palace. His nickname Irus was a version of Iris since he was
also a messenger, at the beck and call of the suitors.
Ibis:163-208 King of the Lapithae, father of Pirithoüs, and of the
Centaurs. He attempted to seduce Juno, but Jupiter created a false
image of her, caught Ixion in the act with this simulacrum, and
bound him to a fiery wheel that turns in the Underworld.
The sky-god, the Greek Zeus, son of Saturn and Rhea, born on Mount
Lycaeum in Arcadia and nurtured on Mount Ida in Crete. The oak is
his sacred tree. His emblems of power are the sceptre and
lightning-bolt. His wife and sister is Juno (the Greek Hera). (See
the sculpted bust (copy) by Brassides, the Jupiter of Otricoli,
Ibis:209-250 In astrology a beneficent planet, ruling knowledge,
travel etc. Jupiter was the father of Mercury, by Maia.
Ibis:251-310 Jupiter’s temple of Ammon in Libya where he was the
Ibis:311-364 Cambyses sent an army to attack the Ammonians and the
temple of Jupiter at Ammon (Siwa Oasis, El Khargeh) but the army
vanished in a sandstorm. (Herodotus III.26)
Ibis:541-596 Married his sister Juno, and avenged his grandfather
A mythical race of cannibal giants appearing in Odyssey Book X.
Under their king Antiphates they captured and ate several of
Ulysses’s men. Traditionally located in Magna Graecia, but perhaps
from regions further north.
Ibis:365-412 Attacked Ulysses’ men.
Beneficent spirits watching over the household, fields, public areas
etc. Each house had a Lararium where the image of the Lar was kept.
The Lares are usually coupled with the Penates the gods of the
Ibis:41-104 Powers invoked by Ovid.
Ibis:311-364 Larisa was the daughter of Pelasgos, and two of the
cities of Thessaly were named after her. There was an Aleuas of
Larissa who organised the Thessalian League in the seventh century
BC, and claimed descent from Hercules. The incident described is
The north Aegean island south west of Imbros, and the home of Vulcan
the blacksmith of the gods. Philoctetes was bitten by a snake there,
and on Ulysses advice was abandoned there. He had inherited the bow
and arrows of Hercules and Ulysses subsequently sailed for the
island to bring them back to be used at Troy. Thoas was once king
there when the Lemnian women murdered their menfolk because of their
adultery with Thracian girls. His life was spared because his
daughter Hypsipyle set him adrift in an oarless boat.
Ibis:365-412 The Lemnian women who killed their husbands.
Ibis:251-310 There was a Leucon son of Athamas who sickened and died
of disease. The reference is obscure.
The White Goddess, the sea-goddess into whom Ino was changed, who as
a sea-mew helps Ulysses (See Homer’s Odyssey). She is a
manifestation of the Great Goddess in her archetypal form. (See
Robert Graves’s ‘The White Goddess’). Ino, the daughter of Cadmus,
wife of Athamas, and sister of Semele and Agave fostered the infant
Bacchus. She participated in the killing of Pentheus and incurred
the hatred of Juno. Maddened by Tisiphone, and the death of her son
Learchus, at the hand of his father, she leapt into the sea, and was
changed to the sea-goddess Leucothoë by Neptune, at Venus’s request.
Ibis:465-540 As Ino she nursed the infant Bacchus-Dionysus.
The coastal district of North Africa, west of Egypt.
Ibis:163-208 Extensive coastal waters.
Ibis:465-540 The servant who brought Hercules the gift of Nessus
given to Deianira, the envenomed shirt that killed him. Hercules
killed Lichas, throwing him from the Euboean heights.
Ibis:465-540 Ibis:541-596 The son of Psamathe daughter of Crotopus
of Argos. Linus was torn to pieces by Crotopus’s hounds. Not to be
confused with the Poet Linus brother of Orpheus.
Son of Pelasgus. Lycaon was a king of primitive Arcadia (Parrhasia)
who presided over barbarous cannibalistic practises. He was
transformed into a wolf by Zeus, angered by human sacrifice. His
sons offered Zeus, disguised as a traveller, a banquet containing
human remains. They were also changed into wolves and Zeus then
precipitated a great flood to cleanse the world. The father of
Callisto who was changed into the Great Bear, hence the north pole
is ‘Lycaonian’ or ‘Parrhasian’.
Ibis:465-540 His barbaric banquets.
Ibis:465-540 An Alexandrian Greek poet, of the early 3d cent. BC
born in Chalcis, one of the Pleiad, a group of seven tragic poets of
Alexandria who flourished under Ptolemy II Philadelphus. His only
extant poem Cassandra or Alexandra, is an obscure and difficult work
in iambic verse. In ancient times his tragedies were highly
esteemed. May be intended here.
King of the Edonians (Edoni) of Thrace who opposed Bacchus’ entry
into his kingdom at the River Strymon and tried to cut down the
god’s vines. Lycurgus was driven mad and killed his own son Dryas
with an axe thinking he was a vine, and hewed at his own foot
thinking it one. He pruned the corpse, and the Edonians, horrified,
instructed by Bacchus, tore Lycurgus to pieces with wild horses on
Mount Pangaeum. There are many variants of this myth.
Ibis:465-540 Ovid appears to give an alternative myth of Dryas’s
death if this is the Lycurgus intended.
Ibis:597-644 Ovid may refer to the Athenian orator
(c.396-325BC).Pupil of Plato and Isocrates, Lycurgus became a
successful financier, statesman and orator in Athens. He increased
the wealth of Athens after readministrating its finances, and had
several buildings built or refurbished. He was on Demosthenes side
in the orator’s opposition to Philip II of Macedon.
Rivers of that name in Bithynia and in Pontus.
Ibis:41-104 Arrows stained in Scythian blood.
Ibis:465-540 The King of Thebes whose wife was Dirce, and niece was
Ibis:541-596 Son of Aeolus. He slept with his sister Canace, whom
Aeolus in horror drove to suicide.
The daughter of Atlas, a Pleiad, and mother of Mercury by Jupiter.
Ibis:209-250 Ibis:465-540 The mother of Mercury. The second
reference is to Iasion, son of Maia’s sister Elektra, whom,
according to one tradition, Zeus killed with a flash of lightning
when he slept with Demeter. (See: Hom. Od. v. 125, &c.; Hes. Theog.
969, &c.; Apollod. l. c.; Diod. v. 49, 77; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 29;
Conon, Narrat. 21.)
The war god, son of Jupiter, the Roman name for the Greek god Ares.
An old name for him is Mavors or Mamers. In his military aspect he
became known as Gradivus.
Ibis:209-250 In astrology a maleficent planet, ruling war, passion,
A Satyr of Phrygia who challenged Apollo to a contest in musical
skill, and was flayed alive by the God when he was defeated. (An
analogue for the method of making primitive flutes, Minerva’s
invention, by extracting the core from the outer sheath) (See
Perugino’s painting – Apollo and Marsyas – The Louvre, Paris). He
taught the famous flute-player, Olympus.
Ibis:541-596 A river named after him in Asia Minor.
One of the three Gorgons, daughter of Phorcys the wise old man of
the sea. She is represented in the sky by part of the constellation
Perseus, who holds her decapitated head. Athene turned her into a
monster because she was raped by Neptune in Athene’s temple. The
sight of her face turned the onlooker to stone. She was killed by
Perseus, who used his shield as a mirror. Her head decorated
Athene’s aegis breastplate.
Ibis:413-464 Medusa had various cousins, including the Harpies.
Ibis:465-540 The son of Astacus, the Theban. He helped defend Thebes
in the War of the Seven, and was killed by Tydeus who ate his
The messenger god, Hermes, son of Jupiter and the Pleiad Maia, the
daughter of Atlas. He is therefore called Atlantiades. His
birthplace was Mount Cyllene, and he is therefore called Cyllenius.
He has winged feet, and a winged cap, carries a scimitar, and has a
magic wand, the caduceus, with twin snakes twined around it, that
brings sleep and healing. The caduceus is the symbol of medicine.
(See Botticelli’s painting Primavera.)
Ibis:209-250 In astrology a beneficent planet of mind and
Ibis:413-464 The daughter of Erysichthon who could change her shape
The Roman name for Athene the goddess of the mind and women’s arts
(also a goddess of war and the goddess of boundaries – see the Stele
of Athena, bas-relief, Athens, Acropolis Museum). Originally an
Italic goddess of handicrafts and arts, she was early identified
with the virgin Pallas Athena.
Ibis:365-412 Ovid seems to refer to a cult of Thracian Minerva,
though the detail sounds more like that of Diana at Ephesus, whose
veil might not be lifted, and in the Chersonese, where she was the
object of human sacrifice.
Ibis:597-644 The reference is possibly to the substitution of a
phantom for Iphigenia at Aulis, but that is usually attributed to
Artemis-Diana and not Athene-Minerva. Alternatively it may refer to
Ajax the Lesser’s rape of Cassandra in Athene’s temple during the
sack of Troy which caused Athene to delay the Greek’s return voyage.
The son of Pasiphaë, wife of Minos, and the white bull from the sea.
A man-headed bull, imprisoned in the Labyrinth (‘the place of the
axe’) built by Daedalus at Cnossos, who was destroyed by Theseus.
(See the sculpture and drawings of Michael Ayrton, and Picasso’s
variations on the theme in the Vollard Suite)
Ibis:365-412 Destroyed by Theseus.
The nine Muses were the virgin daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne
(Memory). They are the patronesses of the arts. Clio (History),
Melpomene (Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Euterpe (Lyric Poetry),
Terpsichore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry),
Urania (Astronomy), and Polyhymnia (Sacred Song). Mount Helicon is
hence called Virgineus. Their epithets are Aonides, and Thespiades.
Ibis:1-40 His work harmless to others.
Ibis:311-364 The daughter of Cinyras, mother of Adonis,
incestuously, by her father.
Ibis:465-540 Subject of a poem by Cinna.
Ibis:365-412 The charioteer of King Oenomaus, who traitorously
caused the King’s chariot to crash, killing him and allowing Pelops
to claim the king’s daughter Hippodameia. Pelops subsequently threw
Myrtilus into the sea. He was set among the stars as the
constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, and gave his name to the
Myrtoan Sea that stretches from Euboea past Helene to the Aegean.
God of the sea, brother of Pluto and Jupiter. The trident is his
emblem. (see Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of Neptune with four
sea-horses, Royal Library, Windsor: See the Neptune Fountain by
Bartolomeo Ammannati, Piazza della Signoria, Florence.) Identified
with the Greek Poseidon.
Ibis:251-310 Neptune caused Ceyx to be drowned, and him and his wife
Alcyone to be turned into birds, the halycons. Ceyx was son of
Lucifer (Phosphorus, the Morning Star), Alcyone was the daughter of
Aeolus, god of the winds. The significance of frater here is not
clear to me. Athamas was Alcyone’s brother, as a son of Aeolus, and
Ceyx was his brother-in-law (uxoris frater). Athamas too suffered
extensively, his wife Ino being turned into the sea-mew, the
sea-goddess Leucothea, who is mentioned in the next verses.
Ibis:365-412 The Centaur killed by Hercules for carrying off
Deianira. See Metamorphoses IX:89
Ibis:465-540 The fatal gift of the poisoned shirt steeped in
Nessus’s blood, which contained the venom of the Hydra from
The daughter of the Phrygian king Tantalus, and Dione one of the
Pleiades, daughters of Atlas. The wife of Amphion, king of Thebes.
She rejected Latona and boasted rashly about her fourteen children.
Her seven sons were killed by Apollo and Diana, the children of
Latona (Leto), and her husband commited suicide. Still unrepentant,
her daughters were also killed, and she was turned to stone and set
on top of a mountain in her native country of Lydia where she weeps
eternally. (A natural stone feature exists above the valley of the
Hermus, on Mount Sipylus, which weeps when the sun strikes its
winter cap of snow – See Freya Stark ‘Rome on the Euphrates’ p9.
Pausanias also lived nearby at one time, and saw the rock.) See
Metamorphoses Book VI:146
Ibis:541-596 Turned to stone.
The son of Hyrtacus. He and Euryalus, followers of Aeneas were noted
for their friendship. They died together after entering Turnus’s
camp and killing Rhamnes the Rutulian who was sleeping, and his
followers, see Virgil’s Aeneid (IX:176).
Ibis:597-644 Died with his friend, after killing the sleeping
Ibis:311-364 The King of Megara, besieged by Minos. He had a purple
lock of hair on his head, on which his life, and the safety of his
kingdom, depended. His daughter was Scylla. Scylla cut off the
sacred lock and betrayed the city.
Ibis:311-364 The daughter of Epopeus king of Lesbos who unknowingly
slept with her father. She fled to the woods and was changed by
Minerva to her sacred bird the Little Owl, often depicted on ancient
Athenian coins. See Metamorphoses II:566
Ibis:465-540 The Thracian king, father of Orpheus by Calliope the
King of Thebes, who unwittingly killed his father and married his
mother. See Sophocles great trilogy The Theban Plays.
Ibis:251-310 He blinded himself, and was led around by his daughter
Ibis:365-412 King of Pisa in Elis, son of Ares and the father of
Hippodameia. He caused her suitors to race against him in their
chariots, killing the losers. He was eventually killed by Pelops.
Ibis:465-540 The son of Lycurgus devoured by a serpent. The Nemean
games were founded in his memory.
The only son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, brother of Electra,
Iphigenia and Chrysothemis. Pylades was his faithful friend. He
avenged the murder of his father by killing Clytmenestra and her
lover Aegisthus. He brought back his sister Iphigenia from the
Tauric Chersonese, and the image of Artemis from her temple there to
Athens, or in Roman myth to Aricia. The rites of the sanctuary
there, at Nemi, are the starting point for Frazer’s ‘The Golden
Bough’ (see Chapter I et seq.)
Ibis:311-364 Maddened by the Furies.
Ibis:465-540 There seems to be a variant myth here of Clytemnestra’s
dream of a serpent, interpreted as Orestes, who killed her and
Aegisthus. Orestes is killed by a snake according to Apollodorus.
The mythical musician of Thrace, son of Oeagrus and Calliope the
Muse. His lyre, given to him by Apollo, and invented by
Hermes-Mercury, is the constellation Lyra containing the star Vega.
(See John William Waterhouse’s painting – Nymphs finding the head of
Orpheus – Private Collection, and Gustave Moreau’s painting –
Orpheus – in the Gustave Moreau Museum, Paris: See Peter Vischer the
Younger’s Bronze relief – Orpheus and Eurydice – Museum für Kunst
und Gewerbe, Hamburg: and the bas-relief – Hermes, Eurydice and
Orpheus – a copy of a votive stele attributed to Callimachus or the
school of Phidias, Naples, National Archaeological Museum: Note also
Rilke’s - Sonnets to Orpheus – and his Poem - Orpheus, Eurydice and
Hermes.) See Ovid’s Metamorphoses Books X and XI. He summoned Hymen
to his wedding with Eurydice. After she was stung by a snake and
died he travelled to Hades, to ask for her life to be renewed.
Granted it, on condition he does not look back at her till she
reaches the upper world, he faltered, and she was lost. He mourned
her, and turned from the love of women to that of young men. He was
killed by the Maenads of Thrace and dismembered, his head and lyre
floating down the river Hebrus to the sea, being washed to Lesbos.
(This head had powers of prophetic utterance) His ghost sank to the
Fields of the Blessed where he was reunited with Eurydice. He taught
Midas and Eumolpus the Bacchic rites.
Ibis:465-540 Eurydice stung by the snake.
Ibis:597-644 Killed by the Bacchantes.
A mountain in Thessaly in Northern Greece.
Ibis:251-310 Thessalus apparently died there.
Ibis:597-644 The son of Nauplius whom Ulysses’ wrongfully had stoned
to death, after making it appear that he had been a traitor and
received enemy gold.
Aeneas’s helmsman who fell into the sea while asleep and drowned.
See Virgil’s Aeneid.
Ibis:541-596 Drowned in sight of land according to Ovid.
Ibis:251-310 She protected the Argo, and her sacred dove was sent
ahead through the clashing rocks to guide the ship.
The daughter of the Sun and the nymph Crete (Perseis). She was the
wife of King Minos of Crete and mother of Phaedra and Ariadne.
She was inspired, by Poseidon, with a mad passion for a white bull
from the sea, and Daedalus built for her a wooden frame in the form
of a cow, to entice it. From the union she produced the Minotaur,
Asterion, with a bull’s head and a man’s body.
Ibis:41-104 Named as a source of an accursed race.
The Greeks. Originally an ancient Greek people (Pelasgi) and their
king Pelasgus, son of Phoroneus the brother of Io. He was the
brother of Agenor and Iasus.
Ibis:465-540 Possibly Pelasgus is intended here.
The half-brother of Aeson whom he drove from the throne of Iolchos
in Thessaly. He sent Aeson’s son Jason in search of the Golden
Fleece. Medea pretended to rejuvenate him but instead employed his
daughters to help destroy him.
Ibis:413-464 Failed rejuvenation.
The son of Tantalus, and brother of Niobe. He was cut in pieces and
served to the gods at a banquet by his father to test their
divinity. Ceres-Demeter, mourning for Persephone, did not perceive
the wickedness and ate a piece of the shoulder. The gods gave him
life again and an ivory shoulder. He gave his name to the
Peloponnese. He was a famous horseman and charioteer. Later he
carried off Hippodamia.
Ibis:163-208 The son of Tantalus.
Ibis:541-596 Brother of Niobe.
The wife of Ulysses, and daughter of Icarius and the Naiad Periboa.
(See J R Spencer Stanhope’s painting- Penelope – The De Morgan
Foundation). See Homer’s Odyssey.
Ibis:365-412 Her maids and the suitors killed at the end of the
The son of Echion and Agave, the grandson of Cadmus through his
mother. He was King of Thebes. Tiresias foretold his fate at the
hands of the Maenads (Bacchantes). He rejected the worship of
Bacchus-Dionysus and ordered the capture of the god. He was torn to
pieces by the Bacchantes for his impiety.
Ibis:465-540 Torn to pieces by his mother and the other Bacchantes.
The son of Jupiter and Danaë, grandson of Acrisius, King of Argos.
He was conceived as a result of Jupiter’s rape of Danaë, in the form
of a shower of gold. He is represented by the constellation Perseus
near Cassiopeia. He is depicted holding the head of the Medusa,
whose evil eye is the winking star Algol. It contains the radiant of
the Perseid meteor shower. His epithets are Abantiades (scion of
Abas), Acrisioniades, Agenorides, Danaëius, Inachides, Lyncides.
(See Burne-Jones’s oil paintings and gouaches in the Perseus series
particularly The Arming of Perseus, The Escape of Perseus, The Rock
of Doom, Perseus slaying the Sea-Serpent, and The Baleful Head.)(
See Benvenuto Cellini’s bronze Perseus - the Loggia, Florence). He
slew the gorgon, Medusa, killed Acrisius accidentally in fulfilment
of prophecy, and married Andromeda.
Ibis:413-464 Called Abantiades. The infant Perseus and his mother
Danae were cast into the sea in a wooden box by her father Acrisius,
son of Abas, King of Argolis.
Son of Clymene, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys whose husband was the
Ethiopian king Merops. His true father is Sol, the sun-god (
Phoebus). He asked his mother for proof of his divine origin and
went to the courts of the Sun to see his father who granted him a
favour. He asked to drive the Sun chariot, lost control of the
chariot and was destroyed by Jupiter in order to save the earth from
being consumed by fire. See Metamorphoses Books I and II.
Ibis:465-540 Struck down by Jupiter’s thunderbolt to avoid the earth
The Tyrant of Agrigentum in Sicily, 571-555BC. He was noted for his
cruelty. He had Perillus the sculptor and inventor design a brazen
bull for him where victims could be roasted alive and made Perillus
himself its first victim. Polybius (Histories XII.25) claims to have
seen the bull, which had been taken to Carthage at the time of the
Carthaginian conquest in 406/5BC. Diodorus Siculus (History
XIII.90.4) reports the same and that subsequently Scipio returned it
to Agrigentum after the sack of Carthage in 146BC.
Ibis:413-464 Ovid implies he was also tormented in the bull.
A river in Colchis, famous for its gold. Medea is called the Phasian.
Ibis:597-644 Of the region of the river, hence Colchian.
Ibis:311-364Alexander d. 358 BC was tyrant of the city of Pherae in
Thessaly after 369. He was opposed by other Thessalian cities and by
the Thebans. Pelopidas failed (368) in one expedition against him
and was briefly imprisoned. Returning in 364, Pelopidas destroyed
Alexander's power in the battle of Cynoscephalae, though he himself
was killed. Alexander was subsequently murdered by members of his
own family, led by his wife Thebe (see Plutarch’s: Life of
The son of Poeas. He lit Hercules’ funeral pyre and received from
him the bow, quiver and arrows that would enable the Greeks to
finally win at Troy, and that had been with Hercules when he rescued
Bitten by a snake on Lemnos, he was abandoned there on Ulysses
advice. Ulysses accepted later that Philoctetes and his weapons were
essential for the defeat of the Trojans and brought Philoctetes and
the weapons to Troy.
The daughter of Pandion, sister of Procne, raped by her sister’s
husband Tereus. She convinced her father to allow her to visit her
sister Procne, unaware of Tereus’s lust for her. Tereus violated
her, and she vowed to tell the world of his crime. He severed her
tongue and told Procne she was dead. Philomela communicated with
Procne by means of a woven message, and was rescued by her during
the Bacchic revels. She then helped Procne to murder Itys, the son
of Tereus and Procne.
Pursued by Tereus she turned into a swallow or a nightingale. See
Metamorphoses Book VI.
Ibis:465-540 Her tongue cut out.
Ibis:251-310 The Arcadian Greek general of Megalopolis (c253-182BC:
see the life by Plutarch: a life by Polybius, who carried home the
general’s bones after his death, is lost: see also Pausanias
VIII.49.3). He fought in various battles for the Achaian League
against Laconia. In old age he fought the Messenians, his proud
aggressive character leading him to wage war when unfit to do so. He
fell from his horse through weakness, and was captured, and
ultimately executed by Deinocrates and the Messenians, drinking
poison. Ovid perhaps plays here on the fact of his face being ‘no
picture’, and the hubris that led to his downfall. Ovid places his
final battle near Tegea in the Alean fields, since Aleus was the
founder of Tegea, or perhaps uses Alean loosely for Arcadian.
King of Salmydessus in Thrace, and son of Agenor, he was a blind
prophet, who had received the gift of prophecy from Apollo. He was
blinded by the gods for prophesying the future too accurately, and
was plagued by a pair of Harpies. Calais and Zetes, the sons of
Boreas, and his brothers-in-law, rid him of their loathsome
attentions, in return for advice on how to obtain the Golden Fleece.
The two winged sons chased the Harpies to the Strophades islands,
where some say their lives were spared. Phineus and his second wife
Idaea persecuted his two children by his first wife, Cleopatra, the
sister of Calais and Zetes.
The son of Amyntor, hence Amyntorides, blinded by his father and
cursed with childlessness, who was cured by Cheiron the Centaur and
became guardian to Achilles.
A region in Asia Minor, containing Dardania and Troy, and Mysia and
Pergamum. Ovid uses the term for the whole of Asia Minor bordering
the Aegean. Phrygius often means Trojan.
The district of Elis in which Olympia lay, and often synonymous with
Elis. Pisa presided over the Olympic games until c 580BC.
Ibis:541-596 The son of Priam of Troy sent to his uncle Polymestor
who murdered him.
Pluto, Dis, Hades, Plutus
The God of the Underworld, elder brother of Jupiter and Neptune, and
like them the son of Saturn and Rhea. Identified with Plutus the son
of Ceres, god of riches.
Ibis:413-464 Identified with Plutus, wealth.
Ibis:251-310 Ibis:541-596 King of Thrace, husband of Ilione daughter
of Priam. He murdered his own child Deiphilus rather than Polydorus,
Iliona’s nephew, sent to him by Priam for safety, whom Agamemnon had
bribed him with gold to kill. Polydorus blinded him. Alternatively
Polymestor killed Polydorus for the gold sent by Priam for
safekeeping, with the boy, and the boy’s mother Hecuba in turn
murdered him, and tore out his eyes.
The brother of Eteocles and Antigone, the son of Oedipus and Jocasta.
The leader of the Seven against Thebes.
Ibis:1-40 The smoke of their funeral pyre divided by enmity.
One of the Cyclopes, sons of Neptune, one-eyed giants living in
Sicily (Trinacria). He was blinded by Ulysses, causing
Poseidon/Neptune’s enmity against him, and adding to his long
wanderings. The Cyclops were linked to metal-working and the volcano
of Mount Etna on Sicily.
Ibis:251-310 Ibis:365-412 Blinded by Ulysses whose men he had
attacked and some of whom he had consumed.
The Black Sea, originally called αξειυος:axenus, inhospitable,
because of its storms, and the barbarous tribes on its coast, later
hospitable, εϋξειυος:euxinus, as a euphemism. Hence Euxene as an
epithet. Ovid also calls the region in which Tomis lay, Pontus. The
name is extended to the land adjacent to the Sea, along its southern
shore as far as Colchis, sometimes the whole Thracian shore.
Ibis:1-40 A witness to his ‘gratitude’ to Augustus for being
Ibis:365-412 Or Polypemon, the father of Sinis, who used to cut
travellers down to the size of his bed or stretch them accordingly.
Theseus served him in the same way.
Ibis:251-310 Ibis:465-540 Ibis:541-596 The creator of mankind, son
of the Titan Eurymedon, or of Iapetus by the nymph Clymene. He stole
fire from the gods. He was tormented by Jupiter, by being chained
naked to a pillar in the Caucasus, where a vulture tore at his liver
day and night.
Ibis:541-596 The daughter of Crotopus who bore Linus to Apollo. Her
father’s hounds killed the boy.
Ibis:311-364 Son of Taphius (son of Poseidon) and king of Taphos (an
island off the coast of Acarnania) at the time when Amphitryon
ravaged the islands of the Taphians or Teleboans. Poseidon made him
immortal by implanting a golden hair in his head, but his daughter
Comaetho, having fallen in love with the besieger Amphitryon,
betrayed her father and caused his death by pulling out the golden
hair from his head.
Ibis:541-596 Wife and cousin to Deucalion, and the only woman to
survive the Great Flood. Daughter of the Titan Epimetheus, hence
called Titania. Epimetheus was a brother to Prometheus.
The son of Achilles, later called Neoptolemus. He had children by
Ibis:251-310 Pyrrhus killed Priam at Troy on the altar of Apollo,
and was in turn killed by Machaereus a Phocian and the priest of
Apollo at Delphi on the Pythoness’s orders, for interfering with the
sacrifice there. Ovid says his bones were scattered in Ambracia,
where he had built a city near Lake Pambrotis and the oracle of
Dodona in Epirus.
The son of Mars and Ilia, hence Iliades, twin brother of Romulus.
He leapt the fresh walls Romulus was building to found Rome, in
derision, and Romulus killed him.
Ibis:597-644 He leapt the unfinished walls.
Ibis:597-644 A Thracian king, famous for his horses, killed by
Ulysses and Diomedes in a night raid at Troy.
Ibis:311-364 A mountain in Thrace. Supposed to be a mortal turned
into a mountain for assuming the name of a great god. The scene of
the triennial festival of Bacchus, the trietericus. Orpheus fled
there after losing Eurydice a second time, hence Rhodopeius an
epithet of Orpheus.
Ibis:311-364 An unidentified, possibly mythical, King of Assyrian
Nineveh, who lived in great luxury, and who when besieged by the
Medes set fire to his palace killing himself and his court.
A nomadic Indo-European people related to the Scythians, and
speaking a similar language. They were noted horse-breeders and
horsemen. Their warrior princesses are known from Herodotus and from
archaeological remains (burial mounds or kurgans). They may have
formed the basis for the Amazons. Sarmatia was used as a general
name for Europe east of the Carpathians and north of the Black Sea.
Ovid often calls the region of Tomis, Sarmatian. By his day a
Sarmatian tribe, the Roxolani, had reached as far west as the Danube
Son of Earth and Heaven (Uranus) ruler of the universe in the Golden
Age. Mother Earth persuaded her sons to attack Uranus, and depose
him. Saturn the youngest was given a sickle and castrated Uranus.
The Furies sprang from the shed blood. Saturn was deposed by his
three sons Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto who ruled Heaven, Ocean and
the Underworld respectively. He was banished to Tarturus. He was the
father also of Juno, Ceres and Vesta by Ops.
Ibis:209-250 In astrology a maleficent planet of old age, duty,
grief and cold.
Ibis:251-310 Castrated his father, Uranus.
Ibis:365-412 Great grandfather of Asclepius (the son of Apollo, son
of Jupiter-Zeus, son of Saturn).
Demi-gods. Woodland deities of male human form but with goats’ ears,
tails, legs and budding horns. Sexually lustful. They were followers
Ibis:41-104 Powers invoked by Ovid.
Ibis:365-412 A brigand of the Isthmus who used to kick travellers
into the sea. Theseus served him in the same way.
The daughter of Phorcys and the nymph Crataeis, remarkable for her
beauty. Circe or Amphitrite, jealous of Neptune’s love for her
changed her into a dog-like sea monster, ‘the Render’, with six
heads and twelve feet. Each head had three rows of close-set
teeth.Her cry was a muted yelping. She seized sailors and cracked
their bones before slowly swallowing them. She threatened Ulysses
men and destroyed six of them, and threatened Aeneas’s ships.
Finally she was turned into a rock. (The rock projects from the
Calabrian coast near the village of Scilla, opposite Cape Peloro on
Sicily. See Ernle Bradford ‘Ulysses Found’ Ch.20)
Ibis:365-412 She attacked Ulysses’ men.
The daughter of Cadmus, loved by Jupiter. The mother of Bacchus
(Dionysus). (See the painting by Gustave Moreau – Jupiter and Semele
– in the Gustave Moreau Museum, Paris) She was consumed by Jupiter’s
fire having been deceived by Juno. Her unborn child Bacchus was
Ibis:251-310 Sister of Ino.
Ibis:465-540 Sister of Autonoe.
Sicania, Trinacri. The Mediterranean island, west of Italy.
Ibis:163-208 The flowery meadows of Hybla.
Ibis:413-464 Achaemenides abandoned there.
Ibis:597-644 The giants were imprisoned beneath the island.
A town of the Peloponnese west of Corinth on the Asopus River. (The
home of the sculptor Lysippos. It is near modern Vasilikó.)
Ibis:311-364 The incident referred to is obscure.
The city and port of the Phoenicians in the Lebanon, north of Tyre.
Home of Europa. Famous like Tyre for its purple dyes, and for blown
glass. Referred to by Homer.
Ibis:365-412 A brigand living at the narrowest point of the Isthmus
who tied travellers to bent trees and tore them apart. Theseus
served him in the same way.
Ibis:163-208 Founder of Corinth, the son of Aeolus. He was condemned
to continually roll a huge stone up a hill in Hades, from which it
rolled to the bottom again.
The Athenian Greek philosopher (c469-399BC), Plato’s teacher. An
ethical philosopher with an emphasis on logic, and the ‘Socratic
method’ of interrogation to reveal inconsistency. He was charged
with atheism and corruption of the young and was condemned to die by
drinking hemlock. See Plato’s Phaedo, Symposium etc.
Ibis:465-540 He died by drinking hemlock.
Ibis:541-596 The Delphic oracle acclaimed him as the wisest of men,
which he took to mean that he knew his own ignorance. Anytus was one
of his accusers.
The mythical hybrid moinster with human head (usually female), and
lion’s body. Imported from Egypt, and initially a monster, including
that which questioned Oedipus, the Sphinx eventually became a
winged, musical, harbinger of justice.
Ibis:365-412 Killed those who failed to answer her riddles.
A river of the underworld, with its lakes and pools, used to mean
the underworld or the state of death itself. Arethusa passed its
streams while journeying through the deep caverns from Elis to
Sicily. This is the Arcadian river Styx near Nonacris. It forms the
falls of Mavroneri, plunging six hundred feet down the cliffs of the
Chelmos ridge to jojn the River Crathis. Pausanias says (VIII xvii),
that Hesiod (Theogony 383) makes Styx the daughter of Ocean and the
wife of the Titan Pallas. Their children were Victory and Strength.
Epimenedes makes her the mother of Echidna. Pausanias says the
waters of the river dissolve glass and stone etc.
Ibis:41-104 The gods swore oaths on the waters of Styx.
Ibis:311-364 There was a Talaus, King of Argos, who married
Lysianassa (or alternatively Lysimache). The reference is obscure.
Ibis:465-540 Talus, the son of Perdix, was a pupil of Daedalus and
invented the saw. He was killed by Daedalus in a fit of jealousy,
and thrown from the Athenian citadel, but Pallas turned him into the
partridge, which takes its name from his mother, perdix perdix.
The king of Phrygia, son of Jupiter, father of Pelops and Niobe. He
served his son Pelops to the gods at a banquet and was punished by
eternal thirst in Hades. He was the great-grandfather of Menelaus,
Ibis:163-208 His punishment.
The underworld. The infernal regions ruled by Pluto (Dis) or
specifically the region where the wicked were punished.
Ibis:541-596 The infernal deep.
A people of the Crimea, the Tauric Chersonese.
Ibis:251-310 A soothsayer, son of Eurymus, who prophesied
Polyphemus’s blinding by Odysseus. See Homer’s Odyssey IX:506
King of Teuthrantia in Mysia, son of Hercules and the nymph Auge. He
was suckled by a deer on Mount Parthenius. He was wounded and healed
by the touch of Achilles’s spear at Troy.
The king of Thrace, husband of Procne. He brought her sister,
Philomela, to stay with her, while conceiving a frenzied desire for
the sister. He violated the girl and cut out her tongue, and told
Procne she is dead. Procne then served him the flesh of his murdered
son Itys at a banquet. Pursuing the sisters in his desire for
revenge, he was turned into a bird, the hoopoe, upupa epops, with
its distinctive feathered crest and elongated beak. Its rapid,
far-carrying, ‘hoo-hoo-hoo’ call is interpreted as ‘pou-pou-pou’
meaning ‘where? where? where?’.
Ibis:413-464 The fate of Itys.
Ibis:251-310 The poet of Thrace who fell in love with Hyacinthus the
Spartan prince. Apollo was a rival for the boy, and hearing Thamyris
boast that he rivalled the Muses in song, he told them and Thamyris
was blinded by them, and robbed of his voice and memory.
The oldest and most famous city of Boeotia, founded by Cadmus. The
seven-gated city suffered as a result of its support for Persia, but
gained power over Boeotia in the Peloponnesian War. The Thebans were
at their zenith 371-362BC, when they defeated Sparta under
Epaminondes, and until he was killed at the battle of Mantinea
dominated the mainland. Destroyed by Alexander the Great after a
revolt (335) the city was rebuilt but never regained its former
Ibis:465-540 City of Pentheus.
A Scythian chieftain, or alternatively a king of Libya, who fed
lions on human flesh. Ovid refers to him in Ibis.
King of Athens, son of Aegeus, hence Aegides. His mother was Aethra,
daughter of Pittheus king of Troezen. Aegeus had lain with her in
the temple. His father had hidden a sword, and a pair of sandals,
under a stone (The Rock of Theseus) as a trial, which he lifted, and
he made his way to Athens, cleansing the Isthmus of robbers along
the way (Periphetes, Sinis, Sciron and Procrustes). He killed the
Minotaur with help from Ariadne who gave him the clue that he
unwound to mark his trail, subsequently abandoning her. His
friendship for Pirithous whom he accompanied to the underworld was
Ibis:365-412 His cleansing of the brigands from the Isthmus of
Ibis:413-464 Possibly Theseus is intended here.
Ibis:465-540 He gave the wrong signal to his father on returning
Ibis:251-310 Perhaps Thessalus son of Hercules by Chalciope. Ovid
has him leap from Ossa to his death. Alternatively, but less likely
given the previous verses concerning Hercules, Thessalus who was a
son of Medea, who escaped death after Medea sacrificed her sons on
the altar of Jupiter, later reigned over Iolcus, and gave his name
to all Thessaly.
The king of Lemnos, son of Andraemon, and father of Hypsipyle. Thoas
was king when the Lemnian women murdered their menfolk because of
their adultery with Thracian girls. His life was spared because his
daughter Hypsipyle set him adrift in an oarless boat. He later ruled
over the Thracians, when Orestes rescued Iphigenia.
Roughly the area including north-east Greece, European Turkey as far
as the Bosphorus, and the southern part of Romania. In Ovid’s day
the western boundary was on the River Nestus, and the northern along
the Haemus range, while its coastline ran from the Macedonian Aegean
through Propontis to the Black Sea.
Ibis:135-162 Thracian arrows.
Ibis:365-412 Diomedes the cruel Thracian king.
Ibis:597-644 The River Strymon in Thrace, hence Thracian.
A poetic name for the River Tiber on which Rome is situated, after
King Tiberinus who drowned there.
Ibis:135-162 Its waters.
Ibis:465-540 King Tiberinus drowned there.
The son of Pelops and Hippodamia, brother of Atreus, and father of
Aesgithus. The feud between the brothers over the kingship of
Mycenae was long and complex, and gave rise to a network of myths.
Thyestes committed adultery with Aerope, Atreus’ wife, and Atreus in
revenge killed Thyestes’ children, cooked the flesh, and served it
to him at a banquet. Later Thyestes’ son Aegisthus killed Atreus,
and subsequently Agamemnon.
Ibis:311-364 Pelopia his daughter was a priestess at Sicyon. He
raped her, while disguised.
Ibis:541-596 The banquet.
The Theban sage who spent seven years as a woman and decided the
dispute between Juno and Jupiter as to which partner gained more
enjoyment in love-making. He was blinded by Juno but given the power
of prophecy by Jupiter.
A giant, son of Ge (Earth) whose home was traditionally located in
Euboea, and who attempted violence to Latona (Leto), and suffered in
Hades. Vultures fed on his liver, which was continually renewed.
The ancient city destroyed in the ten-war year with the Greeks, and
identified by Schliemann with Hissarlik four miles inland from the
Aegean end of the Hellespont. The archaeological evidence would
indicate destruction by fire between 1300 and 1200BC. The story of
the War is told in Homer’s Iliad, and the aftermath of it and the
Greek return in the Odyssey. The Troad is the rocky north-west area
of Asia Minor along the Hellespont, dominated by the Ida range,
traditionally believed to have been ruled by Troy.
Ibis:251-310 A troubled people.
The King of Calydon and father of Diomedes, and one of the Seven
against Thebes. Mortally wounded he gnawed on the skull and ate the
brains of his opponent, incurring Athene’s anger. She allowed him to
die for his barbarity, having been prepared to save him and render
Ibis:311-364 Diomedes loved Helen whom Tydeus would have blushed to
have as a daughter in law.
Ibis:413-464 His fate.
The husband of Leda, hence her children are the Tyndaridae. (Castor
and Pollux, Helen, Clytemnestra)
Ibis:311-364 Agamemnon, husband of Clytemnestra was his son-in-law.
Ulixes, the Greek Odysseus, the son of Laertes, and King of Ithaca.
Present at the Trojan War, and most cunning and resilient of the
Greek leaders, the tale of his return home is told in Homer’s
Odyssey. His wife was the faithful Penelope, and his son Telemachus.
Ibis:541-596 He was reputedly killed, by Telegonus, with a spear
armed with the spine of a sting-ray.
The Goddess of Love. The daughter of Jupiter and Dione. She is
Aphrodite, born from the waves, an incarnation of Astarte, Goddess
of the Phoenicians. The mother of Cupid by Mars. (See Botticelli’s
painting – Venus and Mars – National Gallery, London). Through her
union with Anchises she was the mother of Aeneas and therefore
putative ancestress to the Julian House.
Ibis:209-250 In astrology a beneficent planet, ruling wealth, love
Ibis:541-596 Insulted, she made Hippolytus fall in love with
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