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HEKATE GODDESS
 
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Ἑκατη Hekatê Hecate Worker from Afar
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HEKATE (Hecate) was the goddess of the night, witchcraft and ghosts. This page contains hymns to the goddess and descriptions of her divine role, including invocations to her by witches and necromancers.


HYMNS TO HEKATE

I) HESIODIC HYMN

Hesiod describes the wide-ranging divine powers of the goddess Hekate in the following passage. Hekate was usually regarded as the goddess of witchcraft, though it is unclear whether Hesiod is describing her benefits as being derived from the use of magical incantations or merely general prayers to her divinity. The poet clearly understood that she was a night-time goddess of witchcraft through the naming of her parents. The name of her father Perses (the destroyer) was connected with both Persephone, goddess of the underworld, and Perseis, the mother of the witches Aeetes and Kirke; and her mother Asteria (the starry one) was a goddess of the night.

"Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hekate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her. For as many as were born of Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Heaven) [the Titanes] amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Kronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents.And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hekate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker [Poseidon], easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Eos (Dawn). So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young (kourotrophos), and these are her honours." - Hesiod, Theogony 404

II) HOMERIC HYMNS

"Kourotrophe (nurse of the young) [Hekate], give your ear to my prayer, and grant that this woman may reject the love-embrace of youth and dote on grey-haired old men whose powers are dulled, but whose hearts still desire." - Homer's Epigrams 12

III) ORPHIC HYMNS

"Hekate Einodia, Trioditis [Trivia], lovely dame, of earthly, watery, and celestial frame, sepulchral, in a saffron veil arrayed, pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade; Perseis, solitary goddess, hail! The world’s key-bearer, never doomed to fail; in stags rejoicing, huntress, nightly seen, and drawn by bulls, unconquerable queen; Leader, Nymphe, nurse, on mountains wandering, hear the suppliants who with holy rites thy power revere, and to the herdsman with a favouring mind draw near." - Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate


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HEKATE GODDESS OF THE NIGHT

Hekate was a torch-bearing goddess of the night, the leader of haunting ghosts and inspirer of the night-time baying of hounds. She may have been a goddess of the moon or rather of moonless starlit nights.

"Asteria (Starry One) ... conceived and bare Hekate." - Hesiod, Theogony 404

"Queenly Deo [Demeter] wandered over the earth with flaming torches in her hands [after the abduction of Persephone] ... But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hekate, with a torch in her hands, met her ... [and] sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. So they came to Helios (the Sun), ... and stood in front of his horses" - Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 19

"[Hekate] the golden-shining attendant of Aphrodite." - Greek Lyric I Sappho or Alcaeus, Frag 23
[NB as the goddess of night, when men have intercourse.]

"Torch-bearing Hekate holy daughter of great-bosomed Nyx (Night)." - Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Frag 1B

"Hekate ... pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade ... nightly seen." - Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate

"Propitiating the only-begotten Maiden (Koure mounogeneia) [Hekate] with a midnight offering ... Brimo [Hekate], nurse of youth (kourotrophos), Brimo, night-wanderer of the underworld (nyktipolis khthonie), Queen of the dead (anassa eneroi)." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.840

"Hekate Brimo ... hearing his words from the abyss, came up ... She was garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene; and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1194

"[Selene the Moon cries:] `How many times ... have you [the witchMedea ] disorbed me with your incantations, making the night moonless so that you might practise your beloved witchcraft undisturbed." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.55
[NB Hekate empowered witches with the power to draw down the moon.]

"In the deep stillness of the midnight hour ... she [Medea] stretched her arms to the stars ... O Nox [Nyx the Night], Mother of Mysteries, and all ye golden Astra (Stars) who with Luna [Selene the Moon] succeed the fires of day, and thou, divine triceps (three-formed) Hecate, who knowest all my enterprises and dost fortify the arts of magic." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.162

"Out of Erebos and Chaos she called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) and poured a prayer with long-drawn wailing cries to Hecate." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.403

"Hecate, queen of the night." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.515

"Dionysos waited for darksome night, and appealed in these words to circle Mene (Moon) in heaven: 'O daughter of Helios (Sun), Mene (Moon) of many turnings, nurse of all! O Selene (Moon), driver of the silver car! If thou art Hekate of many names, if in the night thou doest shake thy mystic torch in brandcarrying hand, come nightwanderer, nurse of puppies because the nightly sound of the hurrying dogs is thy delight with their mournful whimpering." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44.198

For additional information on Hekate as a goddess of the night:
(1) Hekate Goddess of Necromancy & Ghosts
(2) Hekate Goddess of Witchcraft (power over moon and stars, nocturnal rites)
(3) Triad of Hekate-Selene-Artemis (as the moon-goddess)


GODDESS OF NECROMANCY & GHOSTS

The gods Hekate, Persephone and Haides presided over the oracles of the dead and the art of nekromankia (necromancy), the summoning forth of the ghosts of the dead.

I) GODDESS OF GHOSTS (GENERAL)

Hekate led the ghosts of the dead to the upper world at night. Her passing was heralded by the baying of dogs.

"The lady Hekate was minister and companion to Persephone [goddess of the underworld]." - Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 436

Aeschylus, Doubtul Fragment 249 (from Plutarch, On Superstition 3. 166A) (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"But either thou art frightened of a spectre (phantasma) beheld in sleep and hast joined the revel-rout of nether (khthonia) Hekate."

"Brimo, night-wanderer of the underworld (nyktipolis khthonie), Queen of the dead (anassa eneroi)." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.840

"Hekate ... pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade; Perseis, solitary goddess." - Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate

"Out of Erebos and Chaos she called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) and poured a prayer with long-drawn wailing cries to Hecate ... a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bark, black snakes swarmed on the soil and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.403

"Baying [of Hounds] loud as that which rings at the grim gate of Dis [Haides] or from Hecate’s escort [of black hounds] to the world above." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.110

"At another time you [Egyptian Isis] are Proserpina [Persephone or Hekate], whose howls at night inspire dread, and whose triple form restrains the emergence of ghosts as you keep the entrance to the earth above firmly barred. You wander through diverse groves, and are appeased by various rites." - Apuleius, Golden Ass 11.218

II) NECROMANCY OF THE CUMAEAN SIBYLLA & AENEAS

The Cumaean Sibyl guided Aeneas to the Underworld through the Oracle of the Dead near Cumae. Virgil's account of the story is partially quoted here.

"The Sibyl [performing the rites of necromankia at the oracle of the dead at Cumae] first lined up four black-skinned bullocks, poured a libation wine upon their foreheads, and then, plucking the topmost hairs from between their brows, she placed these on the altar fires as an initial offering, calling aloud upon Hecate, powerful in heaven and hell. While other laid their knives to these victim’s throats, and caught the fresh warm blood in bowls, Aeneas sacrifices a black-fleeced lamb to Nox (Night), the mother of the Furiae, and her great sister, Terra (earth), and a barren heifer to Proserpine. Then he [Aeneas] set up altars by night to the god of the Underworld [Hades], laying upon the flames whole carcases of bulls and pouring out rich oil over the burning entrails. But listen! - at the very first crack of dawn, the ground underfoot began to mutter, the woody ridges to quake, and a baying of hounds was heard through the half-light: the goddess was coming, Hecate. [a path then opened up for the Sibyl & Aeneas to travel down to Hades]." - Virgil, Aeneid 6.257

III) NECROMANCY OF AESON & ALKIMEDE

Aeson and his wife, the witch Alkimede, are here described performing necromancy to learn from the ghosts of the dead the fate of their son Jason, and also to bring down the curses of the dead upon King Pelias, who has sentenced them to death.

"Unto the lord of Tartarus [Haides] and unto the Stygian ghosts was Alcimede [mother of Jason] bringing holy offerings in fear for her mighty son [the Argonaut Jason], if Shades summoned forth [using the magic of Nekromankia] might give her surer knowledge. Even Aeson himself, who shares her anxiety but who hides such unmanly fears in his heart, yields and is led by his wife. In a trench stands blood and plenteous offering to hidden Phlegethon and with fierce cries the aged witch calls upon her departed ancestors and the grandson of great Pleione [Hermes guide of souls]. And now at the sound of the spell rose a face, insubstantial, and [the ghost of] Kretheus gazed upon his mournful son and daughter-in-law, and when he had sipped the blood he began to utter these words [tells him that Jason is safe, but King Pelias is plotting Aeson’s death] ... He [Aeson] returns to the holy rites [of the Underworld Gods]. Beneath the gloom of an ancient cypress, squalid and ghastly with darksome hue, a bull still stood, dark blue fillets on his horns, his brow rough with the foliage of yew; the beast too was downcast, panting and restless, and terrified at the sight of the shade. The witch [Alkimede], according to the custom of her evil race had kept him, chosen above all others, to use him now at last for these hellish practises. When Aeson saw that the bull still remained at the hour of the awful rites unslain, he dooms him to death, and with one hand upon the horns of the fated victim speaks for the last time [cursing his half-brother King Pelias] ...
Then he appeased the goddess of triple form [Hekate goddess of earthly ghosts], and with his last sacrifice offers a prayer to the Stygian abodes, rehearsing backward a spell soon, soon to prove persuasive; for without that no thin shade will the dark ferryman [Kharon] take away, and bound they stand at the mouth of Orcus [Haides]." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1.730

IV) NECROMANCY OF TEIRESIAS

In the following passage the seer Teiresias performing necromancy to commune with the ghosts of the dead. The ghost of the same seer is consulted by Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey.

"[The seer Teiresias performs necromancy:] Loud bayed the pack of Hecate; thrice the deep valley gave out a mournful noise; the whole place was shaken and the ground was stricken from below. `My prayers are heard,' says the priest; `prevailing words I uttered; blind Chaos is burst open, and for the tribes of Dis [Haides] a way is given to the upper world.'" - Seneca, Oedipus 569

"There stands a wood, enduring of time, and strong and erect in age, with foliage aye unshorn nor pierced by any suns ... Nor do the shadows lack a divine power: Latonia’s [Artemis-Hekates’] haunting presence is added to the grove ... Her arrows whistle unseen through the wood, her hounds bay nightly, when she flies from her uncle’s [Haides’] threshold and resumes afresh Diana’s kindlier shape [Diana is here regarded as a dual Artemis-Hekate] ...
[Teiresias performing the rites of nekromankia] bids the dark-fleeced sheep and black oxen be set before him ... Then he entwined their fierce horns with wreaths of dusky hue, handling them himself, and first at the edge of that well-known wood [sacred to Hekate] he nine times spills the lavish draughts of Bacchus into a hollowed trench, and gifts of vernal milk and Attic rain [honey] and propitiatory blood to the Shades below; so much is poured out as the dry earth will drink. Then they roll tree trunks thither, and the sad priest bids there be three altar-fires for Hecate and three for the maidens born of cursed Acheron [the Erinyes]; for thee, lord of Avernus [Haides], a heap of pinewood though sunk into the ground yet towers high into the air; next to this an altar of lesser bulk is raised to Ceres of the Underworld [Persephone]; in front and on every side the cypress of lamentation intertwines them. And now, their lofty heads marked with the sword and the pure sprinkled meal, the cattle fell under the stroke; then the virgin Manto [daughter of Teiresias], catching the blood in bowls, makes first libation, and moving thrice round all the pyres, as her holy sire commands, offers the half-dead tissues and yet living entrails, nor delays to set the devouring fire to the dark foliage. And when Tiresias heard the branches crackling in the flames and the grim piles roaring - for the burning heat surges before his face, and the fiery vapour fills the hollows of his eyes - he exclaimed, and the pyres trembled, and the flames cowered at his voice: ‘Abodes of Tartarus and awful realm of insatiable Mors [Thanatos, death], and thou, most cruel of the brothers [Haides], to whom the Shades are given to serve thee, and the eternal punishments of the damned obey thee, and the palace of the underworld, throw open in answer to my knowing the silent places and empty void of stern Persephone, and send forth the multitude that lurk in hollow night; let the ferryman [Kharon] row back across the Styx with groaning bark. Haste ye all together, nor let there be fore the Shades but one fashion of return to the light; do thou, daughter of Perses [Hekate], and the cloud-wrapt Arcaidan [Hermes] with rod of power lead in separate throng the pious denizens of Elysium; but for those who died in crime, who in Erebus, as among the seed of Cadmus, are most in number, be thou their leader, Tisiphone, go on before with snake thrice brandished and blazing yew-branch, and throw open the light of day, nor let Cerberus interpose his heads, and turn aside the ghosts that lack the light." - Statius, Thebaid 4.410

V) NECROMANCY OF WITCHES

Witches were practitioners of necromancy. Their magic spells were also worked in in necromantic-like ceremonies.

For INFO on Hekate and the magic of witches see Hekate Goddess of Witchcraft (below)

VI) ORACLES OF THE DEAD

The Oracle of the Dead in Thesprotia was a shrine dedicated to the gods Haides and Persephone. Hekate was probably invoked as the mistress of ghosts in the rituals.

For MORE information on the necromantic oracles see:
CULT OF HAIDES & PERSEPHONE


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HEKATE GODDESS OF WITCHCRAFT

I) GODDESS OF MAGIC (GENERAL)

"We are told that Helios (the Sun) had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel. And Perses had a daughter Hekate, who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness; she was also fond of hunting, and when she had no luck she would turn her arrows upon human beings instead of the beasts. Being likewise ingenious in the mixing of deadly poisons she discovered the drug called aconite and tired out the strength of each poison by mixing it with food given to the strangers. And since she possessed great experience in such matters she first of all poisoned her father, and so succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess, she became know far and wide for her cruelty. After this she married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus.
Although Kirke also, it is said devoted herself to the devising of all kinds of drugs and discovered roots of all manner of natures and potencies such as are difficult to credit, yet, notwithstanding that she was taught by her mother Hekate about not a few drugs ...
Aeetes, partly because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hekate, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers. But since Medea as time went on opposed the purpose of her parents more and more, Aeetes, they say, suspecting his daughter of plotting against him consigned her to free custody [that is, on parole]; Medea, however, made her escape and fled for refuge to a sacred precinct of Helios on the shore of the sea." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1

"[Athena] sprinkled her [Arakhne] with drugs of Hecate (Hecateidos herbae), and in a trice, touched by the bitter lotion [the girl was metamorphosed into a spider]." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.139

II) MAGIC OF THE WITCH MEDEA

Hekate was the source of the magical power of the witch Medea. Most of her magic is described as nocturnal and / or necromantic.

"[Medea curses Jason who plans to abandon her and marry Glauke:] 'By the goddess I worship most of all, my chosen helper Hekate, who dwells in the inner chamber of my house [household shrine], none of them shall pain my heart and smile at it! Bitter will I make their marriage, bitter Kreon's marriage-alliance, and bitter my banishment from the land!" - Euripides, Medea 396

"As a rule she [Medea] did not spend her time at home, but was busy all day in the temple of Hekate, of whom she was priestess." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.250

"[Argos, nephew of Medea, to Jason:] ’You have heard me speak of a young woman [Medea] who practices witchcraft under the tutelage of the goddess Hekate. If we could win her over, we might banish from our minds all fear of your defeat in the ordeal [yoking the fire breathing bulls of Aeetes]." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.478

"[Argos, nephew of Medea, to the Argonauts:] ’There is a girl [Medea] living in Aeetes’ palace whom the goddess Hekate has taught to handle with extraordinary skill all the magic herbs that grow on dry land or in running water. With these she can put out a raging fire, she can stop rivers as they roar in spate, arrest a star, and check the movement of the sacred moon." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.529

"[Medea prays to Hekate]: And yet I wish he [Jason] had been spared. Yes Sovran Lady Hekate, this is my prayer. Let him live to reach his home." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.466

"[Medea persuaded by her aunt Khalkiope to help Jason:] ‘At dawn I will go to Hekate’s temple with magic medicine for the bulls [to protect Iason from their fiery breath]." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.735

"She [Medea] wished to drive to the splendid Temple of Hekate [in Kolkhis]; and while they [her handmaidens] were getting the carriage ready she took a magic ointment from her box. This salve was named after Prometheus. A man had only to smear it on his body, after propitiating the only-begotten Maiden (Koure mounogenes) [Hekate] with a midnight offering, to become invulnerable by sword or fire and for that day to surpass himself in strength and daring. It first appeared in a plant that sprang from the blood-like ichor of Prometheus in his torment, which the flesh-eating eagle had dropped on the spurs of Kaukasos ... To make the ointment, Medea, clothed in black, in the gloom of night, had drawn off this juice in a Caspian shell after bathing in seven perennial streams and calling seven times on Brimo [Hekate], nurse of youth (kourotrophos), Brimo, night-wanderer of the underworld (nyktipolis khthonie), Queen of the dead (anassa eneroi). The dark earth shook and rumbled underneath the Titan root when it was cut, and Prometheus himself groaned in the anguish of his soul." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.840

"[Medea to Iason:] Medea forced herself to speak to him. ‘Hear me now,’ she said. ‘These are my plans for you. When you have met my father and has given you the deadly teeth from the serpent’s jaws, wait for the moment of midnight and after bathing in an ever-running river, go out alone in sombre clothes and dig a round pit in the earth. There, kill a ewe and after heaping up a pure over the pit, sacrifice it whole, with a libation of honey from the hive and prayers to Hekate, Perses’ only daughter (mounogenes). Then, when you have invoked the goddess duly, withdraw from the pyre. And to not be tempted to look behind you as you go, either by footfalls or the baying of hounds, or you may ruin everything and never reach your friends alive. In the morning, melt this charm, strip, and using it like oil, anoint your body. It will endow you with tremendous strength and boundless confidence ... neither the spear-points of the earthborn men nor the consuming flames that the savage bulls spew out will find you vulnerable." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1022

"Iason waited for the bright constellation of the Bear to decline, and then, when all the air from heaven to earth was still, he set out like a stealthy thief across the solitary plain. During the day he had prepared himself, and so had everything he needed with him; Argos had fetched him some milk and a ewe from a farm; the rest he had taken from the ship itself. When he had found an unfrequented spot in a clear meadow under the open sky, he began by bathing his naked body reverently in the sacred river, and then put on a dark mantle which Hypsipyle of Lemnos had given him to remind him of their passionate embraces. Then he dug a pit a cubit deep, piled up billets, and laid the sheep on top of them after cutting its throat. He kindled the wood from underneath and poured mingled libations on the sacrifice, calling on Hekate Brimo to help him in the coming test. This done, he withdrew; and the dread goddess (thea deinos), hearing his words from the abyss, came up to accept the offering of Aison’s son. She was garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene; and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her. The whole meadow trembled under her feet, and the Nymphai of marsh and river who haunt the fens by Amarantian Phasis cried out in fear. Iason was terrified; but even so, as he retreated, he did not once turn round. And so he found himself among his friends once more, and Dawn arrived." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1194

"The beautiful Medea sped through the palace, and for her the very doors responding to her hasty incantations swung open of their own accord." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.39

"She [Medea] meant to reach the temple [of Hekate]. She knew the road well enough, having often roamed in that direction searching for corpses [for necromantic rites] or for noxious roots, as witches do." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.48

"Rising from the distant east, the Lady Selene (Moon), Titanian goddess, saw the girl [Medea the witch] wandering distraught, and in wicked glee said to herself: ‘So I am not the only one to go astray for love, I that burn for beautiful Endymion and seek him in the Latmian cave. How many times, when I was bent on love, have you disorbed me with your incantations, making the night moonless so that you might practise your beloved witchcraft undisturbed! And now you are as lovesick as myself. The little god of mischief has given you Iason, and many a heartache with him. Well, go your way; but clever as you are, steel yourself now to face a life of sighs and misery.’ So said Selene." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.55
[NB Hekate empowered witches to draw down the moon.]

"As he [the Kholkian Drakon] writhed he saw the maiden [Medea] take her stand, and heard her in her sweet voice invoking Hypnos (Sleep), the conqueror of the gods, to charm him. She also called on the night-wandering Queen of the world below [Hekate] to countenance her efforts. Iason from behind looked on in terror. But the giant snake, enchanted by her song, was soon relaxing the whole of his serrated spine and smoothing out his multitudinous undulations ... Medea, chanting a spell, dipped a fresh sprig of juniper in her brew and sprinkled his eyes with her most potent drug; and as the all-pervading magic scent spread round his head, sleep fell on him." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.143

"She [Medea] reinforced her words with magic, scattering to the four winds spells of such potency as would have drawn wild creatures far away to come down from their mountain fastnesses." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.442

"I [Medea] swear by Helios’ sacred light and by the secret rites of Perses’ night-wandering daughter [Hekate]." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1018

"Listen to me,’ she [Medea] said [to the Argonauts]. ‘I think that I and I alone can get the better of that man, whoever he may be, unless there is immortal life in that bronze body. All I ask of you is to stay here keeping the ship out of range of his rocks till I have brought him down.’
They took the ship out of range, as Medea had asked, and rested on their oars waiting to see what marvellous device she would employ. Medea went up on the deck. She covered both her cheeks with a fold of her purple mantle, and Iason led her by the hand as she passed across the benches. Then, with incantations, she invoked the Keres (Spirits of Death), the swift hounds of Haides (kunes Aidao) who feed on souls and haunt the lower air to pounce on living men. She sank to her knees and called upon them, three times in song, three times with spoken prayers. She steeled herself of their malignity and bewitched the eyes of Talos with the evil in her own. She flung at him the full force of her malevolence, and in an ecstasy of rage she plied him with images of death.
Is it true then, Father Zeus, that people are not killed only by disease or wounds, but can be struck down by a distant enemy? The thought appals me. Yet it was thus that Talos, for all his brazen frame, was brought down by the force of Medea’s magic. He was hoisting up some heavy stones with which tow keep them from anchorage, when he grazed his ankle on a sharp rock and the ichor ran out of him like molten lead. He stood there for a short time, high on the jutting cliff. But even his strong legs could not support him long; he began to sway, all power went out of him, and he came down with a resounding crash." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1659

"They [the Argonauts] made fast their stern cables on the Paphlagonian coast at the mouth of the River Halys. Medea had told them to land there and propitiate Hekate with a sacrifice. But with what ritual she prepared the offering, no one must hear. Nor must I let myself be tempted to describe it; my lips are sealed by awe. But the altar they built for the goddess on the beach is still there for men of a later age to see." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.245

"[Medea] said [to the Argonauts] that she had brought with her many drugs of marvellous potency which had been discovered by her mother Hekate and by her sister Kirke; and though before this time she had never used them to destroy human beings, on this occasion she would be means of them easily wreak vengeance upon men who were deserving of punishment." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.50.6

"She [Hekate] married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus ...
Aeetes, partly because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hekate, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers. But since Medea as time went on opposed the purpose of her parents more and more, Aeetes, they say, suspecting his daughter of plotting against him consigned her to free custody [that is, on parole]; Medea, however, made her escape and fled for refuge to a sacred precinct of Helios (the Sun) on the shore of the sea." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1

"To the ancient shrine of Hecate Perseis [daughter of Perses], deep in the forest in a shady grove, she [the witch Medea] made her way [to meet with Jason] ... [Jason] grasped her [Medea’s] hand and in low tones besought her aid and promised marriage ... Then by the pure rites of Triformis [three-bodied Hecate] and by whatever Power dwelt in that grove he swore, and by her father’s father [Helios the sun] who sees all the world, and by his triumphs and his perils passed. Then she was sure; and straight the magic herbs she gave into his hands and taught their use [making him invulnerable to fire]." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.74

"Aeson [father of Jason], now near to death, weary and worn by weight of years. Then said his fond son, Aesonides [Jason]: ‘Dear wife [Medea], to whom I owe my own return, you who have given me all, whose bounteous favours exceeded all my faith - yet, if this thing your spells can do - for what can they not do? - take from my youthful years some part and give that part to my dear father’, and his tears fell unrestrained. His love touched his wife’s heart ... and answered: ‘How vile a crime has fallen from your lips! So I have power to transfer to another a period of your life! This Hecate forbids; not right nor fair is your request. But more than your request, a greater boon, I’ll aim to give; not with your years I’ll dare the attempt but by my arts, to win again your father’s years long gone, if but her aid Triformis [three-bodied Hekate] gives and with her presence prospers the bold tremendous enterprise.’ Three nights remained before Luna’s [Selene the Moon’s] bright horns would meet and form her orb; then when she shone in fullest radiance and with form complete gazed down upon the sleeping lands below, Medea, barefoot, her long robe unfastened, her hair upon her shoulders falling loose, went forth alone upon her roaming way, in the deep stillness of the midnight hour. Now men and birds and beasts in peace profound are lapped; no sound comes from the hedge; the leaves hang mute and still and all the dewy air is silent; nothing stirs; only the stars shimmer. Then to the stars she stretched her arms, and thrice she turned about and thrice bedewed her locks with water, thrice a wailing cry she gave, then kneeling on the stony ground, `O Nox [Nyx the Night], Mother of Mysteries, and all ye golden Astra (Stars) who with Luna [Selene the Moon] succeed the fires of day, and thou, divine triceps (three-formed) Hecate, who knowest all my enterprises and dost fortify the arts of magic, and thou, kindly Tellus [Gaia the Earth], who dost for magic potent herbs provide; ye Venti (Winds) and Aurae (Airs), ye Montes (mountains), Lacus (Lakes) and Amnes (streams), and all ye Di Omnes Nemorum (Forest-Gods) and Di Omnes Noctis (Gods of Night), be with me now! By your enabling power, at my behest, broad rivers to their source flow back, their banks aghast; my magic song rouses the quiet, calms the angry seas; I bring the clouds and make the clouds withdraw, I call the winds and quell them; by my art I sunder serpent’s throats; the living rocks and mighty oaks from out their soil I tear; I move the forests, bid the mountains quake, the deep earth groan and ghosts rise from their tombs. Thee too, bright Luna [Selene the Moon], I banish, though thy throes the clanging bronze assuage; under my spells even my grandsire’s [Helios the Sun’s] chariot grows pale and Aurora [Eos the Dawn] pales before my poison’s power. You at my prayer tempered the flaming breath of the dread Bulls, you placed upon their necks, necks never yoked before, the curving plough; you turned the warriors, Serpentigenae (Serpent-Born), to war against themselves; you lulled at last to sleep the guardian [Draco] that knew not sleep, and sent safe to the homes of Greece the golden prize. Now I have need of essences whose power will make age new, bring back the bloom of youth, the prime years win again. These you will give. For not in vain the shimmering stars have shone, nor stands in vain, by winged Dracones drawn, my chariot here.’ And there the chariot stood, sent down from heaven her purpose to fulfil. She mounted, stroked the harnessed Dracones’ necks, shook the light reins and soared into the sky, and gazing down beheld, far far below, Thessalian Tempe; then the Serpents’ course she set for regions that she knew of old. The herbs that Pelion and Ossa bore, Othrys and Pindus and that loftiest peak, Olympus, she surveyed, and those that pleased some by the roots she culled, some with the curve of her bronze blade she cut; many she chose beside Apidanus’ green banks and many beside Amphrysus; nor was swift Enipeus exempt; Peneus too and the bright stream of broad Spercheus and the reedy shores of Boebe gave their share, and from Anthedon she plucked the grass of life, not yet renowned for that sea-change the Euboean merman found. And now nine days had seen her and nine nights roaming the world, driving her Dracon team. Then she returned; the Dracones, though untouched save by the wafting odour of those herbs, yet sloughed their aged skins of many years. Before the doors she stopped nor crossed the threshold; only the heavens covered her; she shunned Jason’s embrace; then two turf altars built, the right to Hecate, the left to Juventas [Hebe goddess of Youth], wreathed with the forest’s mystic foliage, and dug two trenches in the ground beside and then performed her rites. Plunging a knife into a black sheep’s throat she drenched the wide ditches with blood; next from a chalice poured a stream of wine and from a second chalice warm frothing milk and, chanting magic words, summoned the Numina Terrena (Deities of Earth) and prayed the sad shades’ monarch (Rex Umbrarum) [Haides] and his stolen bride [Persephone] that, of their mercy, from old Aeson’s frame they will not haste to steal the breath of life. And when in long low-murmured supplications the deities were appeased, she bade bring out the old exhausted king [Aeson], and with a spell charmed him to deepest sleep and laid his body, lifeless it seemed, stretched on a bed of herbs. Away! She ordered Jason and away! The ministrants, and warned that eyes profane see not her secrets; then with streaming hair, ecstatic round the flaming altars moved, and in the troughs of flood dipped cloven stakes and lit them dripping at the flames, and thrice with water, thrice with sulphur, thrice with fire purged the pale sleeping body of the king. Meanwhile within the deep bronze cauldron, white with bubbling froth, the rich elixir boils. Roots from the vales of Thessaly and seeds and flowers she seethes therein and bitter juices, with gem-stones from the farthest Orient and sands that Oceanus’ ebbing waters wash, and hoar-frost gathered when the moon shines full, and wings and flesh of owls and the warm guts of wolves that change at will to human form. To them she adds the slender scaly skins of Libyan water-snakes and then the livers of long-lived gazelles and eggs and heads of ancient crows, nine generations old. With these and a thousand other nameless things her more than mortal purpose she prepared. Then with a seasoned stick of olive wood she mixed the whole and stirred it. And behold! The old dry stick that stirred the bubbling brew grew green and suddenly burst into leaf, and all at once was laden with fat olives; and where the froth flowed over from the pot and the hot drops spattered the ground beneath, fair springtime bloomed again, and everywhere flowers of the meadow sprang and pasture sweet. And seeing this Medea drew her blade and slit the old king’s throat and let the blood run out and filled his veins and arteries with her elixir; and when Aeson drank, through wound and lips, at once his hair and beard, white for long years, regained their raven hue; his wizened pallor, vanquished, fled away and firm new flesh his sunken wrinkles filled, and all his limbs were sleek and proud and strong. Then Aeson woke and marvelled as he saw his prime restored of forty years before." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.162

1] Ye gods of wedlock, and thou, Lucina [Hera], guardian of the nuptial couch, and thou [Athena] who didst teach Tiphys to guide his new barque to the conquest of the seas, and thou [Poseidon], grim ruler of the deeps of sea, and Titan [Helios the sun], who dost portion out bright day unto the world, and

"[Medea cries out to Hekate:] `Thou [Hekate-Selene] who doest show thy bright face as witness of the silent mysteries, O three-formed (triformis) Hecate, and ye gods by whose divinity Jason swore to me ... I have yet curse more dire to call down on my husband – may he live." - Seneca, Medea 6

"[Medea:] `I have a robe ... [and] a gleaming necklace of woven gold and a golden band which the sparkle of gems adorns, with which the air is encircled. Let my sons bring these as gifts unto the bride [Glauke of Korinthos], but let them first be anointed and imbued with baneful poisons. Now call on Hecate. Prepare the death-dealing rites; let altars be erected, and let now their fires resound within the palace.'" - Seneca, Medea 570

"Nurse: `Monstrously grows her [Medea's] grief [at Jason's betrayal], feeds its own fires and renews its former strength. Often have I seen her in frenzy and assailing the gods [Sun and Moon], drawing down the sky; but greater than such deeds, greater is the monstrous thing Medea is preparing. For now that with maddened steps she has gone out and come to her baleful shrine [to Hekate], she lavishes all her stores and brings forth whatever e’en she herself long has dreaded, and marshals her whole train of evil powers, things occult, mysterious, hidden; and, supplicating the grim altar with her left hand, she summons destructive agencies, whatever burning Libya’s sands produce, what Taurus, stiff with arctic cold, holds fast in his everlasting snows, and all monstrous things. Drawn by her magic incantations, the scaly brood leave their lairs and come to her ... When she had summoned forth the whole tribe of serpents, she assembled her evil store of baleful herbs ... These plants felt the knife while Phoebus [the sun] was making ready the day; the shoot of that was clipped at midnight; while this was severed by finger-nail with muttered charm. She seizes death-dealing herbs, squeezes out serpents’ venom, and with these mingles unclean birds, the heart of a boding owl, and a hoarse screech-owl’s vitals cut out alive. Other objects the mistress of evil lays out, arranged in separate heaps; in some is the ravening power of fire; in others numbing frost’s icy cold. She adds to her poisons words, no less fearsome than they. – But listen, her frenzied step has sounded, and she chants her incantations. All nature shudders as she begins her song.'
Medea: `I supplicate the throng of the silent, and, you, funereal gods, murky Chaos and shadowy Dis’ dark dwelling-place, the abysses of dismal Death, gift by the banks of Tartarus. Leaving your punishments, ye ghosts, haste to the new nuptials ... Now, summoned by my sacred rites, do thou [Hekate], orb of the night [as the moon], put on thy most evil face and come, threatening in all thy forms. For thee, losing my hair from its band after the manner of my people, with bare feet have I trod the secret groves and called forth rain from the dry clouds; I have driven the seas back to their lowest depths, and Oceanus, his tides outdone, has sent his crushing waves farther into the land; and in like manner, with heaven’s law confounded the world has seen both sun and stars together, and you, ye bears, have bathed in the forbidden sea. The order of the seasons have I changed: the summer land has blossomed ‘neath my magic song, and by my compelling Ceres has seen harvest in winter-time; Phasis has turned his swift waters backward to their source, and Hister, divided into many mouths, has checked his boisterous streams and flowed sluggishly in all his beds. The waves have roared, the mad sea swelled, though the winds were still; the heart of the ancient woods has lost its shadows, when the bright day has come back to them at commandment of my voice; Phoebus [the Sun] has halted in mid-heaven, and the Hyades, moved by my incantations, totter to their fall. The hour is at hand, O Phoebe [Hekate-Selene], for thy sacred rites.
To thee [Hekate] I offer these wreaths wrought with bloody hands, each entwined with nine serpent coils; to thee, these serpent limbs which rebellious Typhoeus wore, who caused Jove’s throne to tremble. In this is the blood which Nessus, that traitor ferryman, bestowed as he expired. With these ashes the pyre on Oeta sank down which drank in the poisoned blood of Hercules. Here thou seest the billet of a pious sister but impious mother, Althaea, the avenger. These feathers the Harpyia left in her trackless lair when she fled from Zetes. Add to these the quills of the wounded Stymphalian bird which felt the darts of Lerna. – You have given forth your voice, ye altars; I see my tripods shaken by the favouring deity.
I see Trivia’s [Hekate-Selene's] swift gliding car, not as when, radiant, with full face, she drives the livelong night, but as when, ghastly, with mournful aspect, harried by Thessalian threats, she skirts with nearer rein the edge of heaven. So do thou wanly shed form thy torch a gloomy light through air; terrify the peoples with new dread, and let precious Corinthian bronzes resound, Dictynna, to thy aid. To thee on the altar’s bloody turf we perform thy solemn rites; to thee a torch caught up from the midst of a funeral pyre has illumed the night; to thee, tossing my head and with bended neck, I have uttered my magic words; for thee a fillet, lying in funeral fashion, binds my flowing locks; to thee is brandished the gloomy branch [the yew] from the Stygian stream; to thee with bared breast will I as a maenad smite my arms with the sacrificial knife. Let my blood flow upon the altars; accustom thyself, my hand, to draw the sword and endure the sight of beloved blood. [She slashes her arm and lets the blood flow upon the altar.] Self-smitten have I poured forth the sacred stream.
But if thou complainest that too often thou art called on by my prayers, pardon, I pray; the cause, O Perses’ daughter, of my too oft calling on thy bows is one and the same ever, Jason.
Do thou now [she takes a phial] poison Creusa’s robe that, when she has donned it, the creeping flame may consume her inmost marrow. Within this tawny gold [she takes a casket] lurks fire, darkly hid; Prometheus gave it me, even he who expiates with ever-growing live his theft from heaven, and taught me by his art how to store up its powers. Mulciber hath also given me fires which subtly lurk in sulphur; and bolts of living flame I took from my kinsman, Phaëthon. I have gifts from Chimaera’s middle part, I have flames caught from the bull’s scorched throat, which, well mixed with Medusa’s gall, I have bidden to guard their bane in silence.
Give sting to my poisons, Hecate, and in my gifts keep hidden the seeds of fire. Let them cheat the sight, let them endure the touch; let burning fire penetrate to heart and veins; let her limbs melt and her bones consume in smoke, and with her blazing locks let the bride outshine her wedding torches.
My prayers are heard: thrice has bold Hecate bayed loud, and has raised the accursèd fire with its baleful light. Now all my power is marshalled; hither call my sons that by their hands thou mayst send these costly gifts unto the bride.." - Seneca, Medea 670-843

"Medea who now is consectrated to Diana of the Underworld [Hekate] and leads the holy dance." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5.238

"[Medea the priestess of Hekate] in her sacred fillets by the twin torches’ light [which she held]." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5.350

"Persean Hecate dwelling in her lofty groves beheld her [Medea being led in love to Jason by the goddess Hera], and from the depth of her heart uttered these words: ‘Alas! thou dost leave our woodland an thy maidens’ bands, unhappy girl, to wander in thy own despite to the cities of the Greeks. Yet not unbidden goest thou, nor, my dear one, will I forsake thee. A signal record of they flight shalt thou leave behind, nor though a captive shall thou ever be despised by thy false lord, nay, he shall know me for thy teacher, and that I grieved with shame that he robbed me of my handmaid." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.495

"[Aphrodite plans to make Medea fall in love with Jason, and threatens Hekate not to interfere:] 'To the shrine of light-bringing Diana [Hekate], where the Colchian [Medea] is wont to shed the light of sacred torches and with her company of maidens dance around its Queen. Nor let dread of Hecate now come over thee; fear not lest she hinder my [Aphrodite's] efforts. Nay, let her even venture: straightway will the passion pass to her [Hekate], and I will compel her herself to subdue with triple chant the fire-breathing bulls, and to suffer embraces." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.179

"[Medea] wearies heaven above and Tartarus beneath with her complains [of love for Jason]; she beats upon the ground, and murmuring into her clutching hands calls on the Queen of Night [Hekate] and Dis [Haides] to bring her aid by granting death, and to send him who is the cause of her madness down with her to destruction." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.311

"The maiden [Medea] addresses Jason: ‘ ... There remains yet a direr task, believe me, at the huge tree of Mars [Ares] [the quelling of the mighty Drakon], a task which - ah, would that thou hadst so much faith in me and in Hecate, queen of the night, and in the power we sway!" - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.515

"She [Medea] prays to Hecate to send her now more potent spells and mightier powers, nor abides contented with the drugs she knew. Then she girds up her robe and takes forth a Caucasian herb, of potency sure beyond all others, sprung of the gore that dropped from the liver of Prometheus, and grass wind-nurtured, fostered and strengthened by that blood divine among snows and grisly frosts, when the Vulture rises from his feasting on the flesh and from his open beak bedews the cliffs. That flower knows not the languor of life, but stands, immortally fresh, against the thunderbolt, and in the midst of lightnings its leaves are green. Hecate first, plying a blade that Stygian springs hardened, tore forth the strong stalk from the rocks; then showed she the plant to her handmaid [Medea], who beneath the tenth shining of Phoebe’s [Selene the Moon’s] light reaps the harvest of the mountain-side and rages madly among all the gory relics of the god; fruitlessly doth he groan, beholding the face of the Colchian maid; then over all the mountain pain contracts his limbs, and all his fetters shake beneath her sickle [Prometheus suffers anguish when the plant sprung from his blood is gathered]. The Colchian [Medea] began to move through the dark night with sound of magic spells ... and when they came to the tall trees and the shade of the triple goddess [Hekate] ... so in the midnight shadows of the grove did they two [Jason & Medea] meet and draw nigh each other, awe-struck, like silent firs or motionless cypresses ... And already had she begun to take the Titanian herbs and Persean [Hekate's] potencies from her bosom … and forthwith with groans and tears she proffered the poisons to the youth [Jason]." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.352

III) MAGIC OF THE WITCH KIRKE

"She [Hekate] married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus.
Although Kirke also, it is said devoted herself to the devising of all kinds of drugs and discovered roots of all manner of natures and potencies such as are difficult to credit, yet, notwithstanding that she was taught by her mother Hekate about not a few drugs." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1

"Then Circe turned to prayers and incantations, and unknown chants to worship unknown gods, chants which she used to eclipse Luna’s (the Moon’s) pale face and veil her father’s [the Sun’s] orb in thirsty clouds. Now too the heavens are darkened as she sings; the earth breathes vapours ... They [Picus’ courtiers] changed on Circe (who by now had cleared the air and let the wind and sun disperse the mists) and charged her, rightly, with her guilt and claimed their king and threatened force and aimed their angry spears. She sprinkled round about her evil drugs and poisonous essences, and out of Erebos and Chaos called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) and poured a prayer with long-drawn wailing cries to Hecate. The woods (wonder of wonders!) leapt away, a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bark, black snakes swarmed on the soil and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air. The woods (wonder of wonders!) leaps away, a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bar, black snakes searmed on the solid and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air. Stunned by such magic sorcery, the group of courtiers stood aghast; and as they gazes, she touched their faces with her poisoned wand, and at its touch each took the magic form of some wild beast; none kept his proper shape." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.369

For MORE information on this divine sorceress see KIRKE


THE TAURIAN HEKATE & IPHIGENEIA

Some poets identified Hekate with the goddess worshipped by the tribes of the Tauric Chersonese (the Black Sea Crimea). Hesiod says that Agamemnon's daughter Iphigeneia was carried off to the region and transformed into this goddess by Artemis.

For the PRELUDE to this story see ARTEMIS WRATH: AGAMEMNON

"I know that Hesiod in the Catalogue of Women represented that Iphigeneia was not killed but, by the will of Artemis, became Hekate." - Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Frag 71 (from Pausanias 1.43.1)

"Stesichorus in his Oresteia follows Hesiod and identifies Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia with the goddess called Hekate." - Greek Lyric III Stesichorus, Frag 215 (from Philodemus, Piety)

"Now I have heard another account of Iphigenia that is given by Arkadians and I know that Hesiod, in his poem A Catalogue of Women, says that Iphigenia did not die, but by the will of Artemis became Hekate." - Pausanias, Guide to Greece 1.43.1

"[In Argos] near the Lords [shrine of the Dioskouroi] is a sanctuary of Eilethyia, dedicated by Helene when, Theseus having gone away with Peirithoos to Thesprotia, Aphidna had been captured by the Dioskouroi and Helene was being brought to Lakedaimon. For it is said that she was with child, was delivered In Argos, and founded there the sanctuary of Eilethyia, giving the daughter she bore [Iphigeneia] to Klytaimnestra, who was already wedded to Agamemnon, while she herself subsequently married Menelaos. And on this matter the poets Euphorion of Khalkis and Alexandros of Pleuron, and even before them, Stesikhoros of Himera, agree with the Argives in asserting that Iphigenia was the daughter of Theseus. Over against the sanctuary of Eilethyia is a temple of Hekate [the goddess probably here identified as the apotheosed Iphigeneia], and the image is a work of Skopas. This one is of stone, while the bronze images opposite, also of Hekate, were made respectively by Polykleitos and his brother Naukydes." - Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.22.7

"We are told that Helios (the Sun) had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel. And Perses had a daughter Hekate, who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness; she was also fond of hunting, and when she had no luck she would turn her arrows upon human beings instead of the beasts. Being likewise ingenious in the mixing of deadly poisons she discovered the drug called aconite and tired out the strength of each poison by mixing it with food given to the strangers. And since she possessed great experience in such matters she first of all poisoned her father, and so succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess, she became know far and wide for her cruelty. After this she married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus ... Aeetes, partly because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hekate, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1


HEKATE IDENTIFIED WITH ARTEMIS

Artemis was frequently identified with the goddess Hekate. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Artemis the playmate of Persephone perhaps becomes Hekate, the companion of Demeter in the search for her stolen daughter. Hekatos (the far-shooter) was also a common Homeric epithet applied to Artemis' brother Apollon. Depictions of the two goddesses were near identical. The attributes they had in common included a short-skirt and hunting boots, torches and a hunting dog.

"We pray that other guardians be always renewed, and that Artemis-Hecate watch over the childbirth of their women." - Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 674

"O Artemis, thou maid divine, Diktynna, huntress, fair to see, O bring that keen-nosed pack of thine, and hunt through all the house with me. O Hekate, with flameful brands." - Aristophanes, Frogs 1358

"Aeetes succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis [usually described as a temple of Hekate, but the author equates the two] and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess." - Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1


TRIAD OF HEKATE, ARTEMIS & SELENE

The triad Hekate-Artemis-Selene was popular in Roman-era poetry.

"[Medea cries out to Hekate:] `Thou [Hekate-Selene] who doest show thy bright face as witness of the silent mysteries, O three-formed (triformis) Hecate.'" - Seneca, Medea 6

"[The witch Medea casts her spells:] `Now, summoned by my sacred rites, do thou [Hekate], orb of the night [i.e. the moon], put on thy most evil face and come, threatening in all thy forms." - Seneca, Medea 750

"The hour is at hand, O Phoebe [Hekate-Selene], for thy sacred rites." - Seneca, Medea 770

"[The witch Medea summons the power of Hekate:] `I see Trivia’s [Hekate-Selene-Artemis] swift gliding car, not as when, radiant, with full face [i.e. the moon], she drives the livelong night, but as when, ghastly, with mournful aspect, harried by Thessalian threats, she skirts with nearer rein the edge of heaven. So do thou wanly shed form thy torch a gloomy light through air; terrify the peoples with new dread, and let precious Corinthian bronzes resound, Dictynna [Artemis-Selene], to thy aid. To thee on the altar’s bloody turf we perform thy solemn rites." - Seneca, Medea 787

See also the rest of Seneca's passage above, under: Hekate Goddess of Witchcraft

"[Phaedra prays to Artemis-Hekate-Selene:] `O [Artemis] queen of the groves (regina nemorum), thou who in solitude lovest thy mountain-haunts, and who upon the solitary mountains art alone held holy, change for the better these dark, ill-omened threats. O great goddess of the woods and groves, bright orb of heaven, glory of the night, by whose changing beams the universe shines clear, O three-formed Hecate, lo, thou art at hand, favouring our undertaking. Conquer the unbending soul of stern Hippolytus; may he, compliant, give ear unto our prayer. Soften his fierce heart; may he learn to love, may he feel answering flames. Ensnare his mind; grim, hostile, fierce, may he turn him back unto the fealty of love. To this end direct thy powers; so mayst thou wear a shining face [Selene the moon] and, the clouds all scattered, fare on with undimmed horns; so, when thou drivest thy car through the nightly skies, may no witcheries of Thessaly prevail to drag thee down and may no shepherd [i.e. Endymion] make boast o’er thee. Be near, goddess, in answer to our call; hear now our prayers." - Seneca, Phaedra 406

"With such swift course as the lord [Helios the sun] of stars hurries on the centuries, and in such wise as Hecate [Selene the moon] hastens along her slanting ways." - Seneca, Troades 386

"[Statius, in the passage that follows describes Artemis as a triple goddess incorporating: Artemis-Hekate-Selene:] Cynthia, queen of the mysteries of the night, if as they say thou dost vary in threefold wise the aspect of thy godhead, and in different shape comest down into the woodland ... The goddess stooped her horns and made bright her kindly star, and illumined the battle-field with near-approaching chariot." - Statius, Thebaid 10.365

"[The seer Teiresias performs necromancy in the grove of Artemis-Hekate:] There stands a wood, enduring of time, and strong and erect in age, with foliage aye unshorn nor pierced by any suns ... Beneath is sheltered quiet, and a vague shuddering awe guards the silence, and the phantom of the banished light gleams pale and ominous. Nor do the shadows lack a divine power: Latonia’s [Artemis-Hekate's] haunting presence is added to the grove; her effigies wrought in pine or cedar and wood or very tree are hidden in the hallowed gloom of the forest. Her arrows whistle unseen through the wood, her hounds bay nightly [as Hekate], when she flies from her uncle’s [Haides] threshold and resumes afresh Diana’s kindlier shape. Or when she is weary from her ranging on the hills, and the sun high in heaven invites sweet slumber, here doth she rest with head flung back carelessly on her quiver, while all her spears stand fixed in the earth around ...
[Teiresias cries out summoning the ghosts forth:] `Haste ye all together, nor let there be fore the Shades but one fashion of return to the light; do thou, daughter of Perses [Artemis-Hekate], and the cloud-wrapt Arcadian [Hermes] with rod of power lead in separate throng the pious denizens of Elysium.'" - Statius, Thebaid 4.410

"To the trilingual Sicilians I [Artemis] am Ortygian Proserpina [Hekate]." - Apuleius, The Golden Ass 11.5

"[Nonnus in the passage that follows describes Artemis-Hekate-Selene as a triple goddess:] O daughter of Helios (Sun), Mene (Moon) of many turnings, nurse of all! O Selene (Moon), driver of the silver car! If thou art Hekate of many names, if in the night thou doest shake thy mystic torch in brandcarrying hand, come nightwanderer ... If thou art staghunter Artemis, if on the hills thou dost eagerly hunt with fawnkilling Dionysos, be thy brother’s helper now!." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44.198


SACRED ANIMALS

I) WEASEL, POLECAT (Greek galeê)

"I have heard that the land-marten (or polecat) was once a human being ... a dealer in spells and a sorceress (Pharmakis); that she was extremely incontinent ... the anger of the goddess Hekate transformed it into this evil creature." - Aelian, On Animals 15.11

"They [the Moirai] turned her [Galinthias] into a deceitful weasel (or polecat) ... Hekate felt sorry for this transformation of her appearance and appointed her a sacred servant of herself." - Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 29

For MYTHS of Hekate and the polecat see:
(1) Hekate & Galinthias (midwife metamorphosed into a polecat)
(2) Hekate & Gale (witch metamorphosed into a polecat)

II) DOG (Greek kuôn, skylax)

"Hekate Brimo ... hearing his words from the abyss, came up ... and hounds of the underworld (kunes khthonioi) barked shrilly all around her." - Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1194

"Zerynthos [in Samothrake], cave of the goddess to whom dogs are slain [Hekate]." - Lycophron, Alexandra 74

"[Dogs] terrifying with thy baying in the night all mortals who worship not with torches the images of Zerynthia [Hekate]." - Lycophron, Alexandra 1174

"I know of no other Greeks who are accustomed to sacrifice puppies except the people of Kolophon; these too sacrifice a puppy, a black bitch, to Enodia (of the Wayside) [Hekate] ... at night." - Pausanias, Guide to Greece 3.14.9-10

"She ... out of Erebos and Chaos called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) ... stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bark." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.403

"Sapaeans [a Thrakian tribe] ... offer the guts of dogs to Trivia [Hekate]." - Ovid, Fasti 1.389

"A baying of hounds was heard through the half-light: the goddess was coming, Hecate." - Virgil, Aeneid 6.257

"Baying [of Hounds] loud as that which rings at the grim gate of Dis [Haides] or from Hecate’s escort [of black hounds] to the world above." - Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.110

"At another time you [Egyptian Isis] are Proserpina [Persephone or Hekate], whose howls at night inspire dread." - Apuleius, Golden Ass 11.218

"Hekate, divine friend of dogs." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3.61

"Hekate ... nightwandering, nurse of puppies because the nightly sound of the hurrying dogs is thy delight with their mournful whimpering." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44.198

"Hekate and the Zerinthian cave, where they sacrificed dogs." - Suidas s.v. All' ei tis humôn en Samothraikei memuemenos esti

For MYTHS of Hekate and dogs see Hekate & Hekabe (transformed into a dog)


Sources:

  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
  • Hesiod, Catalogues of Women - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
  • Homer's Epigrams- Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th BC
  • Pindar, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Greek Lyric I Sappho or Alcaeus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C6th BC
  • Greek Lyric I Alcaeus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C6th BC
  • Greek Lyric III Stesichorus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th-6th BC
  • Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Aeschylus, Suppliant Women - Greek Tragedy C5th BC
  • Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
  • Euripides, Medea - Greek Tragedy C5th BC
  • Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd BC
  • Aristophanes,Thesmophoriazusae - Greek Comedy C5th-4th BC
  • Aristophanes,Wasps - Greek Comedy C5th-4th BC
  • The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns BC
  • Lycophron, Alexandra - Greek C3rd BC
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th AD
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st BC
  • Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd AD
  • Aelian, On Animals - Greek Natural History C2nd - C3rd AD
  • Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st BC
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Ovid, Fasti - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Propertius, Elegies - Latin Elegy C1st BC
  • Seneca, Medea - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Seneca, Oedipus - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Seneca, Phaedra - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Seneca, Troades - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Apuleius, The Golden Ass - Latin Epic C2nd AD
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD
  • Suidas - Byzantine Lexicographer C10th AD

Other references not currently quoted here: Tzetzes on Lycophron 1175; Orphica Argonautica 975; Pseudo-Plutarch On Rivers 5; Ovid Heroides 12.168; Plutarch Roman Questions 49; Eustathius on Homer's Iliad 1197