ASTERION was a river-god of Argos in the Peloponnese, southern Greece. He and his brother-rivers, Inakhos (Inachus) and Kephisos (Cephisus), were once called upon to judge a contest between Poseidon and Hera for dominion of the land. When they decided in favour of Hera, the god retaliated by drying up their streams.
The Asterion stream flowed west of the town of Mykenai (Mycenae) before disappearing into a cleft in the earth near the Heraion (Heraeum, Temple of Hera). It was a tributary of the river Inakhos.
ASTE′RION (Asteriôn). The daughters of the river-god Asterion near Mycenae, Acraea, Euboea and Prosymna acted as nurses to Hera. (Paus. ii. 17. § 2.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 15. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The oldest tradition in the region now called Argolis is that when Inakhos (Inachus) was king he named the river after himself and sacrificed to Hera. There is also another legend which says that Phoroneos (Phoroneus) was the first inhabitant of this land, and that Inakhos, the father of Phoroneos, was not a man but the river. This river, with the rivers Kephisos (Cephisus) and Asterion, judged concerning the land between Poseidon and Hera. They decided that it belonged to Hera, and so Poseidon made their waters disappear. For this reason neither Inakhos nor either of the other rivers I have mentioned provides any water except after rain. In summer their streams are dry except those at Lerna."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 17. 1 - 2 :
"The sanctuary [of Hera fifteen stades from Mykenai (Mycenae), Argos] itself is on a lower part of Euboia (Euboea). Euboia is the name they give to the hill here, saying that Asterion the river had three daughters, Euboia, Prosymna, and Akraia (Acraea), and that they were nurses of Hera . . . This Asterion flows above the Heraion (Heraeum), and falling into a cleft disappears. On its banks grows a plant, which also is called asterion. They offer the plant itself to Hera, and from its leaves weave her garlands."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 47. 490 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[The River] Asterion, where the young men so often cut the flower of their bared brows as firstfruits of growing age." [N.B. At the coming-of-age ceremony, the Greek youth would cut off his unshorn locks and dedicate it to the local river-god.]
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.