Web Theoi
DIOSKOUROI
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Διοσκουρος
Διοσκουροι
Dioskouros
Dioskouroi
Dioscurus
Dioscuri
Boys of Zeus
(kouros, dios)

THE DIOSKOUROI (or Dioscuri) were twin star-crowned gods whose appearance (in the form of St Elmo's fire) on the rigging of a ships was believed to portent escape from a storm. They were also gods of horsemanship and protectors of guests and travellers.

The twins were born as mortal princes, sons of the Spartan queen Leda, one being fathered by Zeus the other by her husband Tyndareus. Because of their generosity and kindness to man they were apotheosed into gods at death. At first Polydeukes alone, being a son of Zeus, was offered this gift, but he agreed only on condition that his half-twin Kastor share the honour. Zeus assented, but the pair had to spend alternate days in Haides to appease the Fates and the Gods of the Dead.

OTHER DIOSKOUROI PAGES
Dioskouroi Cult (including statues)

The Dioskouroi also received a place amongst the stars as the Cosntellation Gemini (the Twins). Their alternations between heaven and Haides may refer to the heavenly cycles - their constellation being visible in the heavens for only six months of the year.

The Dioskouroi were depicted as beardless youths, horsemen wearing wide-brimmed traveller's hats.

PARENTS
[1.1] ZEUS & LEDA (both Kastor & Polydeukes) (Hesiod Catalogues of Women Frag 66, Homeric Hymn 32, Alcaeus Frag 34, Terpander Frag 5, Hyginus Fabulae 14, and other sources)
[1.2] ZEUS & LEDA (for Polydeukes), TYNDAREUS & LEDA (for Kastor) (Pindar Nemean Ode 10, Hyginus Fabulae 77 & 80, and other sources)
NAMES
[1.1] KASTOR, POLYDEUKES (Many references)
OFFSPRING POLYDEUKES
[1.1] MNESILEOS (by Phoibe) (Apollodorus 3.134)
[1.2] MNASINOUS (by Phoibe) (Pausanais 2.22.5)
OFFSPRING KASTOR
[1.1] ANOGON (by Hilaeira) (Apollodorus 3.134)
[1.2] ANAXIS (by Hilaeira) (Pausanais 2.22.5)

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 66 (from Scholiast on Pindar Nem. x. 150) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Hesiod in giving their descent makes them [Kastor and Polydeukes] both sons of Zeus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 14 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Castor and Pollux [Kastor and Polydeukes], sons of Jove [Zeus] and Leda, daughter of Thestius."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 77 :
"Jupiter [Zeus], changed into a swan, had intercourse with Leda near the river Eurotas, and from that embrace she bore Pollux [Polydeukes] and Helen; to Tyndareus she bore Castor and Clytemnestra."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 155 :
"Sons of Jove [Zeus] . . . Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes] by Leda, daughter of Thestius."


H28.1A DIOSKOUROS
H28.1B DIOSKOUROS
N16.2 DIOSKOUROI
H28.2 DIOSKOUROI

MORTAL LIFE OF THE DIOSCURI

Details of the mortal lives of the Dioskouroi are not quoted here. Their many adventures included a part in the Voyage of the Argonauts as well as the Calydonian Boar Hunt. They also laid seige to Athens after their sister Helene was kidnapped by King Theseus. They died and were granted immortality shortly after Helene eloped to Troy with Paris, and so did not participate in the Trojan War. The story of their death is detailed below.

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Τυνδαριδαι Tyndaridai Tyndaridae Sons of Tyndareus
Καστωρ Kastor Castor Beaver? (kastôr)
Πολυδευκης Polydeukes Polydeuces, Pollux Sweets? (deukos)

DEATH & APOTHEOSIS OF THE DIOSCURI

Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 1 (from Proclus, Chrestomathy i) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukous (Polydeuces), while stealing the cattle of Idas and Lynkeus (Lynceus), were caught in the act, and Kastor was killed by Idas, and Lynkeus and Idas by Polydeukes. Zeus gave them immortality every other day."

Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 7 (from Clement of Alexandria, Protrept 2.30.5) :
"Kastor (Castor) was mortal, and the fate of death was destined for him; but Polydeukes (Polydeuces), scion of Ares was immortal."

Pindar, Pythian Ode 11 ep4 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"The might of Kastor (Castor), and your fame O royal Polydeukes (Polydeuces); you twin sons divine, who live today within Therapnai's dwellings [the burial place of the brothers], tomorrow in the halls of high Olympos."

Pindar, Nemean Ode 10 ep3 - ep5 :
"The two brothers [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], at the games of Sparta's wide-built city, joint patrons with Hermes and with Herakles the presidency share. And due regard have they for men of justice. Truly the gods are faithful friends. Now, each alternate day they change their dwelling, one day beside Zeus, their beloved father; then in the valley of Therapnai within the earth's deep folds, these brothers share their common destiny [ie their grave at Therapnai]; for so, rather than be for ever a god and dwell in heaven, Polydeukes (Polydeuces) chose for both this twofold life, when Kastor (Castor) fell, laid low in combat. For Idas, in hot anger for the cattle stolen from him with his bronze-pointed spear dealt him a grievous wound . . . and Zeus upon Idas launched his fire-wrought consuming bolt, and the two burned together, friendless, upon one pyre. Hard is it for men to strive against a mightier power.
Then swiftly ran the son of Tyndareus back to his warrior brother, and he found him still living, but within his throat death's rattle sounded. Then with hot tears streaming and bitter groans, he cried aloud: ‘O Father, [Zeus] son of Kronos, what release shall there be from sorrows? Grant that I too with my brother may die, great king, I beg thee. For glory is departed from a man robbed of his friends, and under stress of toils few mortals will abide faithful companions to share in the labour.’
He ended, and Zeus came and stood before him and spoke these words: ‘Thou are my son; but after in thy mother's womb was set the mortal seed of this thy brother, sprung from her hero husband. But see then, none the less this choice I will give thee: if freed from death and the harsh years of age, it is thy will to dwell beside my throne upon Olympos, companion to Athene (Athena) and to Ares, god of the shadowing spear, this choice is thine to take. But if, in thy heart's travail for thy brother, thou art in mind to share all things alike with him, then half thy days shalt thou beneath the earth draw breath, and half within the golden citadels of heaven.’
He spoke, and Polydeukes had no thought but for the single choice; and Zeus made fee the eye, and then the voice of Kastor of the brazen circlet."

Alcman, Fragment 2 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C7th B.C.) :
"Most worthy of reverence from all gods and men, they dwell in a god-built home beneath the earth always alive, Kastor (Castor)--tamer of swift steeds, skilled horsemen--and glorious Polydeukes (Polydeuces)."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 136 - 137 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"They [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] prepared to waylay Idas and Lynkeus (Lynceus), but Lynkeus saw Kastor (Castor) and pointed him out to Ias, who killed him. Polydeukes (Polydeuces) set out after them and killed Lynkeus with his spear, but as he was chasing Idas, a rock thrown by the other hit him and he fell down dazed. Zeus struck Idas with a thunderbolt, and took Polydeukes up to the sky. But because Polydeukes would not accept immortality while Kastor was a corpse, Zeus granted them alternating days among the gods and among mortals."

Lycophron, Alexandra 564 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"An the one pair [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] Hades shall receive: the others the meadows of Olympos shall welcome as guests on every alternate day, brothers of mutual love, undying and dead."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 2. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"In those days [the age of heroes] men were changed to gods, who down to the present day have honours paid to them--Aristaios (Aristaeus), Britomartis of Krete (Crete), Herakles the son of Alkmene (Alcmena), Amphiaraus the son of Oikles (Oecles), and besides these Polydeukes (Polydeuces) and Kastor (Castor)."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 48. 6 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The god [Triton] accompanied the ship [of the Argonauts on which the Dioskouroi sailed as young men] in its voyage without ceasing for two days and nights and foretold to Herakles his Labours and immortality, and to the Tyndaridai (Tyndaridae) that they should be called Dioskoroi (Dioscuri) [i.e. Sons of Zeus] and receive at the hands of all mankind honour like that offered to the gods."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History Book 6 Fragment 6 :
"According to tradition, Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces), who were also known as the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri), far surpassed all other men in valour and gained the greatest distinction in the campaign in which they took part with the Argonauts; and they have come to the aid of many who have stood in need of succour. And, speaking generally, their manly spirits and skill as generals, and their justice and piety as well, have won them fame among practically all men, since they make their appearance as helpers of those who fall into unexpected perils [that is, they appear to mariners in storms]. Moreover, because of their exceptional valour they have been judged to be sons of Zeus, and when they departed from among mankind they attained to immortal honours."

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 13. 38 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"They say he [Alkibiades] used to describe his career as the life of the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri), alive and dead on alternate days. If he was successful the public treated him as a god; if he failed, he was no better than a dead man."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 80 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Castor killed Lynceus in battle; Idas, at his brother's death, forgot both strife and bride, and started to bury his brother. When he was placing the bones in a funeral monument, Castor intervened, and tired to prevent his raising the monument, because he had won over him as if he were a woman. In anger, Idas pierced the thigh of Castor with the sword he wore. Others say that as he was building the monument he pushed it on Castor and thus killed him. When they reported this to Pollux [Polydeukes], he rushed up and overcame Idas in a single fight, recovered the body of his brother, and buried it. Since, however, he himself had received a star from Jove [Zeus], and one was not given to his brother, because Jove said that Castor and Clytemnestra were of the seed of Tyndareus, while he and Helen were children of Jove, Pollux begged that he be allowed to share his honor with his brother. This was granted him."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 224 :
"Mortals who were made immortal . . . Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes], brothers of Helen, sons of Jove [Zeus] and Leda."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 251 :
"Those sho, by permission of the Parcae [Moirai], returned from the lower world . . . Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes], sons of Jove [Zeus] and Leda, return in alternate death."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 22 :
"[Constellation Gemini] Twins. These stars many astronomers have called Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes]. They say that of all brothers they were the most affectionate, not striving in rivalry for the leadership, nor acting without previous consultation. As a reward for their services of friendship, Jupiter [Zeus] is thought to have put them in the sky as well-known stars. Neptunus [Poseidon], with like intention, has rewarded them for he gave them horses to ride, and power to aid shipwrecked men . . . Those who speak of Castor and Pollux add this information, that Castor was slain in the town of Aphidnae, at the time when the Lacedaemonians were fighting the Athenians. Others say that when Lynceus and Idas were attacking Sparta, he perished there. Homer states that Pollux granted to his brother one half of his life, so that they shine on alternate days."

Ovid, Fasti 5. 697 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Constellation Gemini] ‘Tell me the cause of this star sign.’ The god's [Apollon's] eloquent lips supplied the cause: ‘The Tyndarid brothers [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], the horseman and the boxer, had raped and kidnapped Phoebe and her sister [the Leukippides, Leucippides]. 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. The Oebalids could have outrun their pursuers, but it seemed base to win on rapid flight. There is a treeless place, a spot fit for battle. They took their stand there: it's name Aphidna. Castor was stabbed in the chest by Lynceus' sword, and hit the ground wounded and surprised. The avenger Pollux [Polydeukes] is there and spears Lynceus where the neck joins and presses the shoulders. Idas attacked and was barely routed by Jove's [Zeus'] fire; but they deny the lightning disarmed him. The sublime heaven already opened for you, Pollux, when you said: "Hear my words, father. Divide between two the heaven reserved for me. Half of the gift will exceed the whole." He spoke and ransomed his brother by rotating positions. Both stars assist troubled ships.’"

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.’"

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2. 24 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"Human experience moreover and general custom have made it a practise to confer the deification of renown and gratitude upon distinguished benefactors. This is the origin of Hercules [Herakles], of Castor and Pollux [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], of Aesculapius [Asklepios] . . . And these benefactors were duly deemed divine, as being both supremely good and immortal, because their souls survived and enjoyed eternal life."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 15 :
"In Greece they worship a number of deified human beings, Alabandus at Alabanda, Tennes at Tenedos, Leucothea, formerly Ino, and her son Palaemon throughout the whole of Greece, as also Hercules [Herakles], Aesculapius [Asklepios], the sons of Tyndareus [Dioskouroi, Dioscuri]."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 18 :
"If you call Apollo, Vulcanus [Hephaistos], Mercurius [Hermes] and the rest gods, will you have doubts about Hercules [Herakles], Aesculapius [Asklepios], Liber [Dionysos], Castor and Pollux [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri]? But these are worshipped just as much as those, and indeed in some places very much more than they. Are we then to deem these gods, the sons of mortal mothers?"


L6.1 DIOSKOUROI
O6.3 DIOSKOUROI
   

DIOSCURI AS THE CONSTELLATION GEMINI

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 22 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Constellation Gemini] The Twins. These stars many astronomers have called Castor and Pollux [Polydeukes]. They say that of all brothers they were the most affectionate, not striving in rivalry for the leadership, nor acting without previous consultation. As a reward for their services of friendship, Jupiter [Zeus] is thought to have put them in the sky as well-known stars . . . Homer states that Pollux granted to his brother one half of his life, so that they shine on alternate days."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 8. 370 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Now [in the hunt for the Kalydonian Boar] the Gemini (the Twins) [Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], not stars of heaven as yet, came cantering up, both brothers striking, both on snow-white steeds; and both poised quivering spears with flashing points."

Ovid, Fasti 5. 697 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Constellation Gemini] ‘Tell me the cause of this star sign.’ The god's [Apollon's] eloquent lips supplied the cause: ‘The Tyndarid brothers [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], the horseman and the boxer, had raped and kidnapped Phoebe and her sister [the Leucippides]. Idas and his brother go to war for their women [and in the process Kastor (Castor) is killed] . . . The sublime heaven already opened for you, Pollux [Polydeukes], when you said: "Hear my words, father [Zeus]. Divide between two the heaven reserved for me. Half of the gift will exceed the whole." He spoke and ransomed his brother by rotating positions. Both stars assist troubled ships.’"

Seneca, Hercules Furens 4 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"[Hera complains:] ‘I must dwell on earth, for harlots hold the sky [in the form of constellations] . . . [and Zeus' bastard sons] here Orion with threatening sword terrifies the gods, and golden Perseus has his stars; the bright constellation [Gemini] of the twin Tyndaridae [Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] shines yonder.’"


GODS OF ST-ELMO'S FIRE & PROTECTORS OF SAILORS

The Dioskouroi appeared to sailors in distress during storms in the form of St. Elmo's fire, the electrical discharge which creates a glow about the mast-head and rigging of ships.

Homeric Hymn 27 to the Dioscuri (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"[The Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] are deliverers of men on earth and of swift-going ships when stormy gales rage over the ruthless sea. Then the shipmen call upon the sons of great Zeus with vows of white lambs, going to the forepart of the prow; but the strong wind and the waves of the sea lay the ship under water, until suddenly these two are seen darting through the air on tawny wings [in the form of St Elmo's fire]. Forthwith they allay the blasts of the cruel winds nad still the waves upon the surface of the white sea: fair signs are they and deliverance from toil. And when the shipmen see them they are glad and have rest from their pain and labour."

Alcaeus, Fragment 34 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (Greek lyric C6th B.C.) :
"Come hither, leaving the island of Pelops [the Peloponnese], strong sons of Zeus and Leda; appear with kindly heart, Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces), who go on swift horses over the broad earth and all the sea, and easily resue men from chilling death, leaping on the peaks of their well-benched ships, brilliant from afar as you run up the fore-stays [St. Elmo's fire], bringing light to the black ship in the night of trouble."

Terpander, Fragment 5 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C7th B.C.) :
"[The Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] sons of Zeus and Leda, you handsome saviours."

Plato, Euthydemus 293a (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"As though I were calling upon the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri) to save us, the lad and myself, from the mighty wave [literally 'the big wave that comes in every three']."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 43. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"[During the voyage of the Argonauts:] There came on a great storm and the chieftains had given up hope of being saved, when Orpheus, they say, who was the only one on ship-board who had ever been initiated in the Mysteries of the deities of Samothrake [the Kabeiroi, Cabeiri], offered to these deities prayers for their salvation. And immediately the wind died down and two stars fell over the heads of the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri), and the whole company was amazed at the marvel which had taken place and concluded that they had been rescued from their perils by an act of providence of the gods. For this reason, the story of this reversal of fortune for the Argonauts has been handed down to succeeding generations, and sailors when caught in storms always direct their prayers to the deities of Samothrake and attribute the appearance of the two stars to the epiphany of the Dioskouroi."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History Book 6 Fragment 6 :
"They [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] make their appearance as helpers of those who fall into unexpected perils [that is, they appear to mariners in storms]."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History Book 6 Fragment 6 :
"They [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] have come to the aid of many who have stood in need of succour. And, speaking generally, their manly spirits and skill as generals, and their justice and piety as well, have won them fame among practically all men, since they make their appearance as helpers of those who fall into unexpected perils [appearing to mariners in storms]."

Plutarch, Life of Theseus 33. 1 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"There are also those who say that the Tyndaridai [Dioskouroi] were called ‘Anakes’ because of the appearance of their twin stars in the heavens, since the Athenians use anekas and anekathen for ano and anothen, signifying ‘above’ or ‘on high’."

Plutarch, Life of Lysander 12. 1 :
"There were some who declared that the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri) appeared as twin stars on either side of Lysander's [historical Athenian statesman] ship just as he was sailing out of the harbor against the enemy, and shone out over the rudder-sweeps."

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 1. 30 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Let us be . . . like Dioskouroi (Dioscuri) to the poor wretches, ‘saviours and benevolent guardians,’ as those gods are commonly described."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 14 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Castor and Pollux [Kastor and Polydeukes], sons of Jove [Zeus] and Leda, daughter of Thestius . . . both beardless youths. It is written that at the same time stars appeared on their heads, seeming to have fallen there."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 22 :
"As a reward for their [the Dioskouroi's, Dioscuri's] services of friendship, Jupiter [Zeus] is thought to have put them in the sky as well-known stars [constellation Gemini]. Neptunus [Poseidon], with like intention, has rewarded them for he gave them horses to ride, and power to aid shipwrecked men."

Propertius, Elegies 2. 26A (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"How I feared lest the sea perchance should take you name and mariners sailing your waters should weep for you. What vows did I then make to Neptunus [Poseidon], to Castor and his brother [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], and to you, Leucothoe, a goddess now!"

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 366 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The sons of Tyndareus [the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri) amongst the Argonauts] with star-illuminated hair."

Statius, Silvae 3. 2. 1 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"Bring forth your favouring stars, Oebalian brethren [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], and sit upon the twin horns of the yard-arm [as the phenomenon known as St. Elmo's Fire]; let your light illumine sea and sky; drive far away, I pray your Ilian sister's tempestuous star [the star of Helene was considered dangerous to ships], and banish her wholly from the heavens."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 552 (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"The stars of the twin Tyndaridae [Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] come ... to the aid of timorous ships."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 28. 255 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Polydeukes (Polydeuces) brings calm to buffeted ships when he puts to sleep the heavy billows of the galebreeding sea."


GODS OF HORSE-TAMING, PROTECTORS OF GUESTS

Alcman, Fragment 2 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C7th B.C.) :
"Most worthy of reverence from all gods and men, they dwell in a god-built home beneath the earth always alive, Kastor (Castor)--tamer of swift steeds, skilled horsemen--and glorious Polydeukes (Polydeuces)."

Callimachus, Lyric Frag 227 (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"O Kastor (Castor), and you, Polydeukes (Polydeuces), tamers of horses, protectors of the homeless and guides of the guests."


PATRON GODS OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Pindar, Olympian Ode 3 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"For to these [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri] he [Herakles] gave, when he departed to high Olympos, to preside over the glorious contest [the Olympian Games]."

Pindar, Nemean Ode 10 ep3 :
"The two brothers [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], at the games of Sparta's wide-built city, joint patrons with Hermes and with Herakles (Heracles) the presidency share. And due regard have they for men of justice. Truly the gods are faithful friends."


HYMNS TO THE DIOSCURI

Homeric Hymn 17 to the Dioscuri (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"Sing, clear-voiced Mousa (Muse), of Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces), the Tyndaridai (Tyndaridae), who sprang from Olympian Zeus. Beneath the heights of Taygetos stately Leda bare them, when [Zeus] the dark-clouded Son of Kronos had privily bent her to his will. Hail, Tyndaridai, riders upon swift horses."

Homeric Hymn 32 to the Dioscuri :
"Bright-eyed Mousai (Muses), tell of the Tyndaridai (Tyndaridae), the Sons of Zeus, glorious children of neat-ankled Leda, Kastor (Castor) the tamer of horses, and blameless Polydeukes (Polydeuces). When Leda had lain with [Zeus] the dark-clouded Son of Kronos, she bare them beneath the peak of the great hill Taygetos,--children who are deliverers of men on earth and of swift-going ships when stormy gales rage over the ruthless sea. Then the shipmen call upon the sons of great Zeus with vows of white lambs, going to the forepart of the prow; but the strong wind and the waves of the sea lay the ship under water, until suddenly these two are seen darting through the air on tawny wings. Forthwith they allay the blasts of the cruel winds nad still the waves upon the surface of the white sea: fair signs are they and deliverance from toil. And when the shipmen see them they are glad and have rest from their pain and labour. Hail, Tyndaridai, riders upon swift horses!"

Anonymous, Inscription from the shrine of Asclepius at Epidaurus (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric V Anonymous Fragment 937) (C7th to 6th B.C.) :
"High-skilled Asklepios (Asclepius); and summon the two Dioskouroi (Dioscuri) and the august Kharites (Charites, Graces) and glorious Mousai (Muses) and kindly Moirai (Fates) . . . Greetings, all you immortal gods everlasting and immortal goddesses!"


DIOSCURI ATTENDANTS OF HERA

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 10. 30 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"[Description of an ancient Greek play portraying the Judgement of Paris:] Each maiden representing a goddess was accompanied by her own escort. Juno [Hera] was attended by Castor and Pollux [the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri], their heads covered by egg-shaped helmets prominently topped with stars; these Castors were represented by boys on stage."


CULT OF THE DIOSCURI

See the Cult of the Dioskouroi page.


IDENTIFIED WITH FOREIGN GODS

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 56. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The Keltoi (Celts) who dwell along the ocean venerate the Dioskoroi (Dioscuri) above any of the gods, since they have a tradition handed down from ancient times that these gods appeared among them coming from the ocean."


Sources:

  • Hesiod, Catalogues of Women - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th BC
  • Homerica, The Cypria - Greek Epic BC
  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Greek Lyric I Alcaeus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C6th BC
  • Greek Lyric II Alcman, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th BC
  • Greek Lyric II Terpander, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th BC
  • Plato, Euthydemus - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
  • Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd BC
  • The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns BC
  • Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st BC
  • Plutarch, Lives - Greek Historian C1st-2nd AD
  • Aelian, Historical Miscellany - Greek Rhetoric C2nd-3rd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Ovid, Fasti - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Propertius, Elegies - Latin Elegy C1st BC
  • Cicero, De Natura Deorum - Latin Philosophy C1st BC
  • Seneca, Hercules Furens - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
  • Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Statius, Silvae - Latin Epic C1st AD
  • Apuleius, The Golden Ass - Latin Epic C2nd AD
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD
  • Suidas - Byzantine Lexicon C10th AD