Web Theoi
ASOPOS
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Ασωπος Asôpos Asopus River Asopus

ASOPOS (or Asopus) was a River-God of Boiotia in central Greece, and Sikyonia in the Peloponnesos, southern Greece. The twenty beautiful daughters of this river god, were Naiades of the springs of a host of Boiotian, Korinthian, Sikyonian, Argive and island towns.

The same god presided over two rivers. The first of these had its headwaters on the Sikyonian border with Arkadia and Argos. It flowed north past the towns of Phlios and Sikyon to empty into the Korinthian gulf.
The second river, which was probably believed to receive its waters from the first, arose on Mount Kithairon on the other side of Gulf. This flowed east through southern Boiotia, into the Aegean Sea opposite the island of Euboia. The most important neighbouring rivers of Sikyonian Asopos were the Inakhos of Argos to the south, Kephisos of Attika to the east, and Elisson of Akhaia to the west. To the north of the Boiotian river lay the river Ismenos of Thebes.

PARENTS
[1.1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Apollodorus 3.156, Diodorus Siculus 4.72.1)
[2.1] ZEUS & EURYNOME (Apollodorus 3.156)
[3.1] POSEIDON & PERO (Acusilaus Frag, Apollodorus 3.156)
[3.2] POSEIDON & KELOUSE (Pausanias 2.12.4)
OFFSPRING

[1.1] ANTIOPE (Homer Odyssey 11.261)
[1.2] AIGINA (Pindar Paean 6, Antoninus Liberalus 38, Hyginus Fab 52, Nonnus Dionysiaca 13.201)
[1.3] AIGINA, THEBE (Pindar Isthmian 8)
[1.3] THEBE (by Metope) (Pindar Olympian 6)
[1.4] AIGINA, EUBOIA, KORKYRA, PLATAIA, SALAMIS, SINOPE, TANAGRA, THEBE, THESPIA
(by Metope) (Corinna Frag 654)
[1.5] AIGINA, KLEONE, KORKYRA, PEIRENE, SINOPE, THEBE (Bacchylides Frag 9)
[1.6] ISMENOS, PELEGON, AIGINA, ISMENE, SALAMIS, 17 other DAUGHTERS (by Metope) (Apollodorus 2.5, 3.156)
[1.7] AIGINA, OEROE, THEBE (Herodotus 5.80.1 & 9.51.1)
[1.8] AIGINA, HARPINA, KLEONE, KORKYRA, NEMEA, OEROE, PLATAIA, SALAMIS, TANAGRA, THEBE, THESPIA (Pausanias 1.35.2, 2.15.1, 2.29.2, 2.15.3, 2.5.1, 5.22.6, 9.1.1, 9.20.1, 9.26.6, 9.3.4)
[1.9] KORKYRA, SINOPE (Apollonius Rhodius 2.944, 4.567)
[1.10] ISMENOS, PELASGOS, AIGINA, ASOPIS, HARPINE, KHALKIS, KLEONE, KORKYRA, ORNIA, PEIRENE, SALAMIS, SINOPE, TANAGRA, THEBE, THESPEIA (by Metope) (Diodorus Siculus 4.72.1)
[1.11] AIGINA, HYPSEUS (Statius Thebaid 7.315)
[2.1] Perhaps ANTHEDON, KLONIE, LANGIA, SYLLIS

ENCYCLOPEDIA

ASO′PUS (Asôpos), the god of the river Asopus, was a son of Oceanus and Tethys, or according to others, of Poseidon and Pero, of Zeus and Eurynome, or lastly of Poseidon and Cegluse. (Apollod. iii. 12. § 6; Paus. ii. 5. § 2, 12. § 5.) He was married to Metope, the daughter of the river god Ladon, by whom he had two sons and twelve, or, according to others, twenty daughters. Their names differ in the various accounts. (Apollod. l. c. ; Diod. iv. 72; Schol. ad Pind. Ol. vi. 144, Isthm. viii. 37; Paus. ix. 1. § 2; Herod. ix. 51; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 278.) Several of these daughters of Asopus were carried off by gods, which is commonly believed to indicate the colonies established by the people inhabiting the banks of the Asopus, who also transferred the name of Asopus to other rivers in the countries where they settled. Aegina was one of the daughters of Asopus, and Pindar mentions a river of this name in Aegina. (Nem. iii. 4, with the Schol.) In Greece there were two rivers of this name, the one in Achaia in Peloponnesus, and the other in Boeotia, and the legends of the two are frequently confounded or mixed up with each other. Hence arose the different accounts about the descent of Asopus, and the difference in the names of his daughters. But as these names have, in most cases, reference to geographical circumstances, it is not difficult to perceive to which of the two river gods this or that particular daughter originally belonged. The more celebrated of the two is that of Peloponnesus. When Zeus had carried off his daughter Aegina, and Asopus had searched after her everywhere, he was at last informed by Sisyphus of Corinth, that Zeus was the guilty party. Asopus now revolted against Zeus, and wanted to fight with him, but Zeus struck him with his thunderbolt and confined him to his original bed. Pieces of charcoal which were found in the bed of the river in later times, were believed to have been produced by the lightning of Zeus. (Paus. ii. 5. § 1, &c.; Apollod. iii. 12. § 6.) According to Pausanias (ii. 12. § 5) the Peloponnesian Asopus was a man who, in the reign of Aras, discovered the river which was subsequently called by his name.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


PARENTAGE OF ASOPUS

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 72. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"According to the myths there were born to Okeanos and Tethys a number of children who gave their names to Rivers, and among their number were Peneios and Asopos. Now Peneios made his home in what is now Thessalia and called after himself the River which bears his name; but Asopos made his home in Phlios, where he married Metope, the daughter of Ladon."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 12. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"While he [Aras] was king [of Sikyon], Asopos, said to be the son of Kelousa and Poseidon, discovered for him the water of the river which the present inhabitants call after him Asopos."


ASOPUS & HIS DAUGHTERS

Homer, Odyssey 11. 261 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Odysseus in the Underworld :] I saw [the shade of] Antiope, daughter of Asopos; it was her pride to have slept in the arms of Zeus himself."

Pindar, Isthmian Ode 8. 16 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"A man nursed in seven-gated Thebes to Aigina must offer the first flower of Kharis’ grace; for both [i.e. the eponymous nymphs Thebe and Aigina] were of one father born the youngest daughters of Asopos’ river; and sovereign Zeus looked upon them with favour. One of these [Thebe] did he set by Dirke’s lovely waters, to be queen of this city of charioteers, but you [Aigina] he carried to Oinopia’s isle and wedded."

Pindar, Paean Fragment 6 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Beside the waters of the Asopos, he once carried off from the portal the deep-breasted maiden, Aigina."

Corinna, Fragment 654 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C6th B.C.) :
"[This papyrus text is heavily fragmented :] Asopos went to his haunts . . from you halls . . into woe . . Of these [nine] daughters Zeus, giver of good things, took his [Asopos'] child Aigina . . from her father's . . [N.B. Zeus also abducted Thebe and Plataia], while Korkyra and Salamis and lovely Euboia were stolen by father Poseidon, and Leto's son is in possession of Sinope and Thespia . . [N.B. and Tanagra was seized by Hermes.]
But to Asopos no one was able to make the matter clear, until . . [the seer Akraiphen revealed :] `And of your [Asopos'] daughters father Zeus, king of all , has three; and Poseidon, ruler of the sea, married three; and Phoibos is master of the beds of two of them, and of one Hermes, good son of Maia. For so did the pair Eros (Love) and the Kypris [Aphrodite] persuade them, that they should go in secret to your house and take your nine daughters. One day they shall give birth to a race of heroes half-divine, and they shall be fruitful and ageless; so I was instructed from the oracular tripod. This privilege I alone out of fifty strong brothers have obtained, preeminent spokesman of the holy sanctuary, gifted with truthfulness, I Akraiphen . . and I utter oracular truth; do you then yield to the immortals and make your heart cease from grief, since you are father-in-law to gods.'
So spoke the reverend prophet, and Asopos happily grasped him by his right hand and shedding tears from his eyes answered him thus : '. . theft . . it is my wish . . not unpersuasive . .; and of you . . I am glad . . I cease grieving . . my children . . all . . goddesses . . wedding-gifts I shall give . . for your peoples.'
So much he said; . . Parnes [a mountain-god] spoke in turn . . : `Pleasures . . connection by marriage . . that . . of you .. fortune . . I am content . . Kithairon . . them responsible . . and Kithairon . . Plataia [daughter of Asopos] . . is brought . . the lost . . to the . . Parnes."

Bacchylides, Fragment 9 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C5th B.C.) :
"[The Amazones] tasted the valour of your [Asopos'] descendants, you much-envied lord of rivers, as did the city of Troy with its high gates. On a wide path travel in all directions the countless reports of your family, the bright-belted daughters whom gods settled with happy fortunes as founders of invoilate cities. Who does not know of the well-built town of dark-haired Thebe or of renowned Aigina, who came to the bed of great Zeus and bore the hero [Aiakos] ((lacuna)) . . who of the land of the Akhaians by the tests ((lacuna)) . . Korkyra ((lacuna)) . . fair-robed [Sinope or Kleone] ((lacuna)) . . and Peirene the maiden of the twining garland, and all those others who won glory when bedded by gods, venerable daughters of the ancient noisy river."

Bacchylides, Fragment 13 :
"Daughter of the eddying river [Asopos], gentle-hearted Aigina."

Aeschylus, Sisyphus the Runaway (lost play) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
Weir Smyth (L.C.L.) quotes Pherecydes, a C5th B.C. mythographer, in his discussion of the plot of this lost play : "According to the fabulous story told by Pherekydes (Frag. 78 in Müller, Fragmenta Historicum Graecorum) Sisyphos made known to Asopos that it was Zeus who had carried off his daughter Aigina; in punishment for which offence the god sent Thanatos (Death) against the babbler."

Herodotus, Histories 5. 80. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"Thebe and Aigina, it is said, were daughters of Asopos and sisters."

Herodotus, Histories 9. 51. 1 :
"A tract of ground which lies in front of Plataia, at the distance of ten furlongs from the Asopos and fount Gargaphia . . . This tract was a sort of island in the continent: for there is a river which, dividing near its source, runs down from Mount Kithairon into the plain below in two streams, flowing in channels about three furlongs apart, which after a while unite and become one. The name of this river is Oeroe, and the dwellers in those parts call it, the daughter of the Asopos."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 156 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The Asopos river was born of Okeanos and Tethys, or, according to Akousilaus [Greek mythographer C6th B.C.], of Pero and Poseidon, while others say of Zeus and Eurynome. Metope (herself a daughter of the river Ladon) married him and bore two sons, Ismenos and Pelagon, and twenty daughters, of whom Zeus kidnapped one named Aigina. As Asopos went looking for her, he came to Korinth and learned from Sisyphos that the kidnapper was Zeus. Asopos started after the god, but Zeus sent him back to his own waters with thunderbolts (whence to this day coal is mined from this river). Zeus took Aigina to the island then known as Oinone but now called Aigina after her, where he mated with her and fathered a son Aiakos."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 85 :
"Sisyphos is punished in Haides’ realm by having to roll a stone with his hands and head with the intents of pushing it over the top; but, though he keeps pushing, it always rolls back down. He suffers this punishment because of Asopos’ daughter Aigina. For when Zeus secretly made off with her, Sisyphos is said to have informed Asopos, who was searching for her."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 5 :
"Argos and Asopos' daughter Ismene had a son Iasos, who is alleged to be the father of Io."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 6 :
"Argos Panoptes [of the hundred eyes] . . . Kerkops [Greek poet C6th B.C.] calls him a son of Argos and Asopos' daugher Ismene."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 161 :
"Kykhreus the son of Poseidon and Asopos’ daughter Salamis."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2. 944 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"The Assyrian coast, where Zeus himself had once given a home to Sinope daughter of Asopos, granting her the boon of virginity."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 565 ff :
"Korkyra, where Poseidon found a home, far from her native land, for Asopos’ daughter, Korkyra of the lovely locks, when in his passion he had made off with her from Phlios."

Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 75 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Far behind followed Asopos, heavy-kneed, for he was marred by a thunderbolt." [N.B. Asopos was struck by Zeus with a thunderbolt when he abducted Aigina.]

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 72. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"We shall now recount the story of the daughters of Asopos and of the son who were born to Aiakos. According to the myths there were born to Okeanos and Tethys a number of children who gave their names to Rivers, and among their number were Peneios and Asopos. Now Peneios made his home in what is now Thessalia and called after himself the River which bears his name; but Asopos made his home in Phlios, where he married Metope, the daughter of Ladon, to whom were born two sons, Pelasgos and Ismenos, and twelve daughters, Korkyra and Salamis, also Aigina, Peirene, and Kleone, then Thebe, Tanagra, Thespeia, and Asopis, also Sinope, and finally Ornia and Khalkis . . . Ares lay with Harpine, the daughter of Asopos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 35. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"It is said that the first to give this name [Salamis] to the island was Kykhreus, who called it after his mother Salamis, the daughter of Asopos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 5. 1 :
"The spring [of Peirene], which is behind the temple [of Aphrodite on the Akrokorinthos, Korinthos], they say was the gift of Asopos to Sisyphos. The latter knew, so runs the legend, that Zeus had ravished Aigina, the daughter of Asopos, but refused to give information to the seeker before he had a spring given him on the Akrokorinthos. When Asopos granted this request Sisyphos turned informer, and on this account he receives punishment in Hades. I have heard people say that this spring and Peirene are the same, the water in the city flowing hence underground. This Asopos rises in the Phliasian territory, flows through the Sikyonian, and empties itself into the sea here. His daughters, say the Phliasians, were Korkyra, Aigina, and Thebe. Korkyra and Aigina gave new names to the islands called Skheria and Oinone, while from Thebe is named the city below Kadmea. The Thebans do not agree, but say that Thebe was the daughter of the Boiotian, and not of the Phliasian Asopos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 6. 1 :
"Antiope, the daughter of Nykteus, had a name among the Greeks for beauty, and there was also a report that her father was not Nykteus but Asopos, the river that separates the territories of Thebes and Plataia."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 15. 1 :
"A small city Kleonai [in Argos] . . . there are some who say Kleone was one of the daughters of Asopos, that flows by the side of Sikyon."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 15. 3 :
"The land [of Nemea, Argos] was named, they say, after Nemea, who was another daughter of Asopos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 22. 6 :
"The Phliasians also dedicated [at Olympia] a Zeus, the daughters of Asopos, and Asopos himself. Their images have been ordered thus : Nemea is the first of the sisters, and after her comes Zeus seizing Aigina; by Aigina stands Harpina, who, according to the traditions of the Eleans and Phliasians, mated with Ares and was the mother of Oinomaos, king around Pisa; after her is Korkyra, with Thebe next; last of all comes Asopos. There is a legend about Korkyra that she mated with Poseidon, and the same thing is said by Pindar of Thebe and Zeus."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 1. 1 :
"[The name of the town Plataia, Boiotia] comes from Plataia, whom they consider to be a daughter of the river Asopos . . . The Plataians know of no king except Asopos and Kithairon before him, holding that the latter gave his name to the mountain, the former to the river."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 3. 4 :
"On the road from Plataia to Thebes is the river Oeroe, said to have been a daughter of the Asopos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 20. 1 :
"It is said that Pomandros married Tanagra [eponym of Tanagra in Boiotia] . . . in a poem of Korinna [Greek poet C6th B.C.] she is said to be a daughter of Asopos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 26. 6 :
"They say that Thespia was a daughter of Asopos, who gave her name to the city [of Thespiae, Boiotia]."

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 38 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Aigina daughter of Asopos."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 52 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Jupiter [Zeus] wished to lie with Aegina, the daughter of Asopus."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 615 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Great Juppiter [Zeus] . . . thou didst hold Aegina Asopis [daughter of Asopos] in thine arms."

Statius, Thebaid 7. 315 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Asopos . . . in full torrent he sweeps past the wreck of bridges, or in swollen wrath and vengeance for his maiden daughter [Aigina] he lashes his waters to fury and scorns the Thunderer [Zeus] her paramour. For they say that Aegina was carried by force from her father’s stream and hidden in the embrace of Jove [Zeus]; the River in wild rage prepares fierce war against the stars--not yet had even the gods such license--; in defiant, quenchless anger he stood and strove, nor had he any whose aid he could implore, till, scarce subdued by the threefold lightning of the brand, he yielded. Even yet doth the proud flood rejoice from out his heaving banks to pant forth ‘gainst heaven fiery ashes, the signs of his dire punishment, and Aetnaean vapours."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 7. 210 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Father Zeus now deceitfully changed his form, and in his love, before the due season, he flew above River Asopos, the father of a daughter [Aigina], as an eagle with eye sharp-shining like a bird, as he were now presaging the winged bridal of Aigina."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 201 ff :
"Aiakos . . . whom the sham bird begot, mingling with the daughter of Asopos whom he carried off, the eagle, highsoaring Zeus the feathered husband of Aigina. He was named Aiakos from this marriage . . . he graved on his well-wrought shield, as a token of their origin, Zeus the sham bird with a mind, carrying a woman in gentle talons. Near it was a river-god [Asopos] on fire, and a girl [Aigina] beside him sad and downcast, even if she was a lifeless image; she turned her eyes aside as if mourning for her father stiffknee Asopos, and she seemed to be crying--`A fine bridegift you have brought me, in destroying my father.'"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 24. 77 ff :
"Zeus as once before by the river Asopos, for the sake of Aigina’s bed, sailed now as an eagle flying high."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 259 ff :
"Asopos himself made off dragging his lame leg behind him.'"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 8 ff :
"Asopos danced breathing fiery streams, as he swept his floods along and twirled his waters."


ASOPUS & THE WANDERINGS OF LETO

Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 75 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"[The Rivers and Springs fled at the approach of the pregnant goddess Leto, fearing the wrath of Hera should they give her refuge :] Fled, too, Aonia [Boiotia] on the same course, and Dirke and Strophia [two Theban springs], holding the hands of their sire, dark-pebbled Ismenos; far behind followed Asopos, heavy-kneed, for he was marred by a thunderbolt."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 259 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Zeus addresses Apollon :] `When Leto carried her twin burden and had to wander over the world, tormented with the pangs of childbirth; when the stream of Peneios fled from her, when Dirke refused your mother, when Asopos himself made off dragging his lame leg behind him.'"


ASOPUS & THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES

Statius, Thebaid 4. 832 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Adrastos addresse the River Asopos, whose waters refresh the parched troops of the army of the Seven Against Thebes :] O thou, whom no suns are wont to tame, O horned one, so lavish of never failing waters, flow with prosperous current, from whatsoever storehouse thou settest free thy cooling springs, immortally replenished; for hoary Bruma (Winter) pours not our for thee her laid-up snows, nor doth the Rainbow shed waters stolen from another fount, nor do the pregnant storm-clouds of Corus (the North-West wind) show thee favour, but thou flowest all thine own, and no star [Sirios who dries the earth] can overcome thee or destroy. Thee neither Ladon, Apollo’s river, shall surpass, nor either Xanthus, nor threatening Spercheus, nor Lycormas of Centaur’s fame; thee will I celebrate in peace, thee beneath the very cloud of war, and at the festal banquet, ay, honour thee next to Jove [Zeus] himself--so but thou gladly receive our triumphing arms, and gain be pleased to give the welcome of thy streams to our tired warriors, and recognise of thy grace the host thou once didst save."

Statius, Thebaid 7. 315 ff :
"Hypseus [a Theban defender in the War of the Seven Against Thebes] . . . Asopos is deemed his sire, a father worthy to behold, when in full torrent he sweeps past the wreck of bridges."

Statius, Thebaid 7. 424 ff :
"Already they [the army of the Seven Against Thebes] were come to thy banks, Asopus, and the Boeotian streams. The squadrons dared not cross the hostile river forthwith; by chance too he was descending in mighty flood upon the trembling fields, whether the rain-brining bow or mountain clouds had given him strength, or whether the River-sire so purposed and hurled his stream athwart them to forbid their arms."

Statius, Thebaid 9. 446 ff :
"[During the war of the Seven Against Thebes :] He [the river Ismenos], gnashing his teeth, and gave the sign to his already raging waters : cold [Mount] Cithaeron sends succour from the hills, and bids his ancient snows and stores of frost be moving; to the flood his brother [the River] Asopos unites his secret stores, and supplies streams from wide-open veins [underground channels]."


CULT OF ASOPUS

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 2. 33 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"The nature of rivers, and their streams, are visible to us. But men who honour them, and have statues made of them, in some cases set up anthropomorphic statues, while others give them bovine form. A likeness to cattle is attributed . . . by the Sikyonians and Phliasians to the Asopos."


Sources:

  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric IV Corinna, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
  • Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
  • Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
  • Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
  • Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Aelian, Historical Miscellany - Greek Rhetoric C2nd-3rd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.