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LEUKIPPIDES
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Λευκιππις
Λευκιππιδες
Leukippis
Leukippides
Leucippis
Leucippides
Of the White Horses
(leukos, hippos)
Dioscurus & Leucippis | Athenian red-figure amphora C5th B.C. | British Museum, London
Dioscurus & Leucippis, Athenian red-figure
amphora C5th B.C., British Museum, London

THE LEUKIPPIDES (or Leucippides) were two Messenian princesses who were granted immortality alongside their husbands, the Dioskouroi twins. The heroes had abducted the girls from Messenia to be their brides. However, they were already betrothed to the Aphareides--Idas and Lynkeus--who confronted the Dioskouroi over the rape. In the fight which ensued one of the Dioskouroi and both of the Aphareides were killed. Zeus then elevated the Dioskouroi and the brides they had won to godhood.

The Leukippides (White-Horse Maidens) were named Phoibe (Lunar Bright) and Hilaeira (Softly Shining), names closely associated with the star-crowned Dioskouroi, divine horsemen who presided over the constellation Gemini. The words "hilaeira" and "phoibe" were also epithets of the moon-goddess Selene, who drove a two-horse biga through the sky.

PARENTS
[1.1] LEUKIPPOS (Apollodorus 3.11, Theocritus Idyll 22.137, Hyginus Fabulae 80, Ovid Fasti 5.709, Propertius 1.2)
[2.1] APOLLON (Stasinus Cypria Frag, Pausanias 3.16.1)
NAMES
[1.1] HILAEIRA, PHOIBE (Apollodorus 3.117, Pausanias 3.16.1, Hyginus Fabulae 80)
OFFSPRING PHOIBE
[1.1] MNESILEOS (by Polydeukes) (Apollodorus 3.134)
[1.2] MNASINOUS (by Polydeukes) (Pausanias 2.22.5)
OFFSPRING HILAEIRA
[1.1] ANOGON (by Kastor) (Apollodorus 3.134)
[1.2] ANAXIS (by Kastor) (Pausanais 2.22.5)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

LEUCI′PPIDES (Leukippides), i. e. the daughters of the Messenian prince Leucippus. (Eurip. Helen. 1467.) Their names were Phoebe and Hilaeira, and they were priestesses of Athena and Artemis, and betrothed to Idas and Lynceus, the sons.of Aphareus; but Castor and Polydeuces being charmed with their beauty, carried them off and married them. (Apollod. iii. 12. § 8, 10. § 3; Paus. i. 18. § 1.) When the sons of Aphareus attempted to rescue their beloved brides, they were both slain by the Dioscuri. (Hygin. Fab. 80; Lactant. i. 10; Ov. Heroid. xvi. 327, Fast. v. 709; Theocrit.xxii. 137,&c.; Propert. i.2.15,&c.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


STORY OF THE LEUKIPPIDES

Theocritus, Idylls 22. 137 ff (trans. Rist) (Greek bucolic C3rd B.C.) :
"The two sons of Zeus [Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces)], having seized a pair of maidens, the daughters of Leukippos (Leucippu)s, were bearing them off. But there followed two brothers in hot pursuit, the sons of Aphareus, Lynkeus (Lynceus) and mighty Idas, to whom they had been betrothed [Lynkeus slew Kastor, Zeus slew Idas]."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 13. 4 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Anxious to marry the daughters of Leukippos (Leucippus), they [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] kidnapped them from Messene and married them. Polydeukes (Polydeuces) and Phoibe (Phoebe) had Mnesileos, and Kastor (Castor) and Hilaeira had Anogon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 80 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Idas and Lynceus, sons of Aphareus from Messene, had as promised brides Phoebe and Hilaira, daughters of Leucippus. Since these were most beautiful maidens--Phoebe being a priestess of Minerva [Athene], and Hilaira of Diana [Artemis]--Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes], inflamed with love, carried them off. But they, since their brides-to-be were lost, took arms to see if they could recover them. Castor killed Lynceus in battle; Idas [killed Kastor, and Polydeukes Idas, the Dioskouroi twins were then granted immortality]."

Ovid, Fasti 5. 709 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Tyndarid brothers, the horseman and the boxer, had raped and kidnapped Phoebe and her sister. Idas and his brother go to war for their women, to whom they were betrothed by Leucippus. Love drives one group to recover, one to refuse; the identical cause makes each pair fight . . . [Lynkeus killed Kastor, Polydeukes Lynkeus, Zeus Idas, then the Dioskouroi were granted immortality.]"

Ovid, Heroides 16. 327 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Paris addresses Helene:] I will imitate the deed of Aegeus' son and of your brothers. You can be touched by no examples nearer than these. Theseus stole you away, and they the twin Leucippides; I shall be counted fourth among such examples."

Propertius, Elegies 1. 2 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Phoebe, daughter of Leucippus, set Castor afire, and Hilaira, her sister, Pollux [Polydeukes] with her ornaments."

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Ἱλαειρα Hilaeira Hilaera Softly-Shining
(hilaeira)
Φοιβη Phoibê Phoebe Pure, Bright
(phoibos)

CULT OF THE LEUKIPPIDES

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 22. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[In the city of Argos there is] a temple of the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri). The images represent the Dioskouroi themselves and their sons, Anaxis and Mnasinous, and with them are their mothers, Hilaeira and Phoibe (Phoebe). They are of ebony wood, and were made by Dipoinos and Skyllis. The horses, too, are mostly of ebony, but there is a little ivory also in their construction."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 12. 8 :
"Beside the Hellenion [at Sparta in Lakonia] is a sanctuary of Arsinoe, daughter of Leukippos (Leucippus) and sister of the wives of Polydeukes (Polydeuces) and Kastor (Castor)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 16. 1 :
"[At Sparta in Lakonia] is a sanctuary of Hilaira and of Phoibe (Phoebe). The author of the poem Kypria calls them daughters of Apollon. Their priestesses are young maidens, called, as are also the goddesses, Leukippides (Leucippides). One of the images was adorned by a Leukippis (Leucippis) who had served the goddesses as a priestess. She gave it a face of modern workmanship instead of the old one; she was forbidden by a dream to adorn the other one as well. Here there has been hung from the roof an egg tied to ribands, and they say that it was the famous egg that legend says Leda brought forth."


Sources:

  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Theocritus Idylls - Greek Bucolic C3rd B.C.
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Ovid, Fasti - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Propertius, Elegies - Latin Elegy C1st B.C.

Other references not currently quoted here: Lactanius 1.10