MELINOE was a frightful underworld Goddess who presided over the propitiations offered to the ghosts of the dead. She wandered the earth at night with a retinue of ghosts, striking fear into the hearts of mankind. Her limbs were black one one side of her body and white on the other, revealing her dual chthonian and heavenly aspects.
The word meilia, which forms the first part of her name, was often used to describe propitiatory offerings made to the ghosts of the dead. Melinoe was probably an Orphic title for the goddess Hekate, who was sometimes named as a daughter of Zeus and Persephone.
Orphic Hymn 71 to Melinoe (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To Melinoe, Fumigation from Aromatics. I call, Melinoe, saffron-veiled, terrene, who from Phersephone dread venerable queen, mixt with Zeus Kronion, arose, near where Kokytos’ mournful river flows; when, under Plouton’s [Haides’] semblance, Zeus divine deceived with guileful arts dark Phersephone. Hence, partly black thy limbs and partly white, from Plouton dark, from Zeus ethereal bright. Thy coloured members, men by night inspire when seen in spectred forms, with terrors dire; now darkly visible, involved in night, perspicuous now they meet the fearful sight. Khthonion queen, expel wherever found the soul’s mad fears to earth’s remotest bound; with holy aspect on our incense shine, and bless thy mystics, and the rites divine."
- The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns C3rd B.C - C2nd A.D.