Web Theoi
SKAMANDROS
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Σκαμανδρος Skamandros Scamander River Scamander
Ξανθος Xanthos Xanthus River Xanthus

SKAMANDROS (or Scamander) was a River-God of the Troad, in Mysia, Anatolia (modern Turkey).

The River Skamandros was the largest river of the plain of Troy. Its headwaters were in the foothills of Mount Ida, and its mouth near the entrance to the Hellespont. Several of its tributaries were also personified as River-Gods, such as the Simoeis, Heptaporos, and Kebren. The major neighbouring rivers were the Rhodios to the east, and Satnoeis in the south.

PARENTS
[1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Hesiod Theogony 345, Hyginus Preface)
[2] ZEUS (Homer Iliad, Philostratus Elder 2.8, Ptolemy Hephaestion 4)
OFFSPRING

[1] TEUKROS (by Idaia) (Apollodorus 3.139, Diodorus Siculus 4.75.1)
[2] KALLIRHOE, STRYMO (Apollodorus 3.141, 3.146)
[3] THE NYMPHAI TROIADES (Quintus Smyrnaeus 11.245 & 14.17; Colluthus 1)
[4] GLAUKIA (Plutarch Greek Questions 41)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

SCAMANDER (Skamandros), the god of the river Scamander, in Troas, was called by the gods Xanthus. Being insulted by Achilles, he entered into a contest with the Greek hero; but Hera sent out Hephaestus to assist Achilles, and the god of fire dried up the waters of Scamander, and frightened Scamander, until Hera ordered Hephaestus to spare the river-god. (Hom. Il. xx. 74, xxi. 136, &c.; Hes. Theog. 345.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


PARENTAGE OF SCAMANDER

Hesiod, Theogony 337 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Tethys bore to Okeanos the swirling Potamoi (Rivers) . . . Euenos and Ardeskos, and Skamandros, who is holy [in a list of Rivers]."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 4 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"The author [Hephaestion] speaks of double appellations in Homer; one is that used among the gods, the other current among men; the Xanthos is the only river which is a son of Zeus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Oceanus and Tethys [were born] the Oceanides . . . Of the same descent Rivers: Strymon, Nile, Euphrates, Tanais, Indus, Cephisus, Ismenus, Axenus, Achelous, Simoeis, Inachus, Alpheus, Thermodon, Scamandrus, Tigris, Maeandrus, Orontes."


SCAMANDER ANCESTOR OF THE KINGS OF TROY

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 139 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Dardanos left Samothrake and came to the opposite mainland [the Troad]. That country was ruled by a king, Teukros, son of the river Skamandros and of a Nymphe Idaia, and the inhabitants of the country were called Teukrians after Teukros. Being welcomed by the king, and having received a share of the land and the king's daughter Bateia, he built a city Dardanos, and when Teukros died he called the whole country Dardania."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 141 :
"Tros [King of Troy] married Skamandros' daughter Kallirrhoe, had a daughter Kleopatra, and sons Ilos, Assarakos, and Ganymedes."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 146 :
"He [Laomedon King of Troy] in turn married Strymo, daughter of Skamandros."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 75. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The first to rule as king over the land of Troy was Teukros, the son of the River-god Skamandros and a Nymphe of Mt Ida."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 8 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[The river] Meles through his son [Homer] will grant to . . . the Xanthos to be born from Zeus, and to Okeanos that all rivers spring from him."


THE FIGHT OF SCAMANDER, ACHILLES & HEPHAESTUS

Homer, Iliad 20. 54 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"So the blessed gods stirring on the opponents [the Trojans and the Greeks] drove them together, and broke out among themselves the weight of their quarrel . . . and against Hephaistos stood the deep-edying river who is called Xanthos by the gods, but by mortals Skamandros."

Homer, Iliad 21. 211 ff :
"Now swift Akhilleus would have killed even more Paionians except that the deep-whirling River spoke to him in anger and in mortal likeness, and the voice rose from the depth of the eddies : `O Akhilleus, your strength is greater, your acts more violent than all men’s; since always the very gods are guarding you. If the son of Kronos has given all Trojans to your destruction, drive them at least out of me to the plain, and there work your havoc. For the loveliness of my waters is crammed with corpses, I cannot find a channel to cast my waters into the bright sea since I am congested with the dead men you kill so brutally. Let me alone, then; lord of the people, I am confounded.’
Then in answer to him spoke Akhilleus of the swift feet : `All this, illustrious Skamandros, shall be as you order. But I will not leave off my killing of the proud Trojans until I have penned them inside their city, and attempted Hektor strength against strength, until he has killed me or I have killed him.’
He spoke, and like something more than mortal swept down on the Trojans. And now the deep-whirling river called aloud to Apollon : `Shame, lord of the silver bow, Zeus’ son; you have not kept the counsels of Kronion, who very strongly ordered you to stand by the Trojans and defend them, until the sun setting at last goes down and darkens all the generous ploughland.’
He spoke : and spear-famed Akhilleus leapt into the middle water with a spring from the bluff, but the River in a boiling surge was upon him and rose making turbulent all his waters, and pushed off the many dead men whom Akhilleus had killed piled in abundance in the stream; these, bellowing like a bull, he shoved out on the dry land, but saved the living in the sweet waters hiding them under the huge depths of the whirling current. And about Akhilleus in his confusion a dangerous wave rose up, and beat against his shield and pushed it. He could not brace himself with his feet, but caught with his hands at an elm tree tall and strong grown, but this uptorn by the roots and tumbling ripped away the whole cliff and with its dense tangle of roots stopped the run of the lovely current and fallen full length in the water dammed the very stream. Akhilleus uprising out of the whirlpool made a dash to get to the plain in the speed of his quick feet in fear, but the great god would not let him be, but rose on him in a darkening edge of water, minded to stop the labour of brilliant Akhilleus and fend destruction away from the Trojans.
The son of Peleus sprang away the length of a spearcast running with the speed of the black eagle . . . He sped away, on his chest the bronze armour clashed terribly, and bending away to escape from the river he had fled, but the River came streaming after him in huge noise . . . Always the crest of the River was overtaking Akhilleus for all his speed of foot, since gods are stronger than mortals. And every time swift-footed Akhilleus would begin to turn and stand and fight the River, and try to discover if all the gods who hold the wide heaven were after him, every time again the enormous wave of the sky-fed river would strike his shoulders from above.
He tried, in his desperation, to keep a high spring with his feet, but the River was wearing his knees out as it ran fiercely beneath him and cut the ground from under his feet. Peleides groaned aloud, gazing into the wide sky : `Father Zeus, no god could endure to save me from the River who am so pitiful. And what then shall become of me? ... But now this is a dismal death I am doomed to be caught in, trapped in a bid River as if I were a boy and a swineherd swept away by a torrent when he tires to cross in a rainstorm.’
So he spoke, and Poseidon and Athene swiftly came near him and stood beside him with their shapes in the likeness of mortals and caught him hand by hand and spoke to him in assurance.
First of them to speak was the shaker of the earth, Poseidon : `Do not be afraid, son of Peleus, nor be so anxious, such are we two of the gods who stand beside you to help you, by the consent of Zeus, myself and Pallas Athene. Thereby it is not your destiny to be killed by the river, but he shall be presently stopped, and you yourself shall behold it . . .’
So speaking the two went back again among the immortals, but Akhilleus went on, and the urgency of the gods strongly stirred him, into the plain. But the River filled with an outrush of water and masses of splendid armour from the young men who had perished floated there, and their bodies, but against the hard drive of the River straight on he kept a high spring with his feet, and the River wide-running could not stop him now, since he was given great strength by Athene.
But Skamandros did not either abate his fury, but all the more raged at Peleion, and high uplifting the wave of his waters gathered it to a crest, and called aloud upon Simoeis : `Beloved brother, let even the two of us join to hold back the strength of a man, since presently he will storm the great city of lord Priam. The Trojans cannot stand up to him in battle. But help me beat him off with all speed, and make full your currents with water from your springs, and rouse up all your torrents and make a big wave rear up and wake the heavy confusion and sound of timbers and stones, so we can stop this savage man who is now in his strength and rages in fury like the immortals. For I say that his strength will not be enough for him nor his beauty nor his arms in their splendour, which somewhere deep down under the waters shall lie folded under the mud; and I will whelm his own body deep, and pile it over with abundance of sands and rubble numberless, nor shall the Akhaians know where to look for his bones to gather them, such ruin will I pile over him. And there shall his monument be made, and he will have no need of any funeral mound to be buried in by the Akhaians.’
He spoke, and rose against Akhilleus, turbulent, boiling to a crest, muttering in foam and blood and dead bodies until the purple wave of the river fed from the bright sky lifted high and caught in its waters the son of Peleus.
But Hera, greatly fearing for Akhilleus, cried in a loud voice lest he be swept away in the huge deep-eddying River, and at once thereafter appealed to her own dear son, Hephaistos : `Rise up, god of the dragging feet, my child; for we believe that whirling Xanthos would be fit antagonist for you in battle. Go now quickly to the help of Akhilleus, make shine a great flame while I raise up and bring in out of the sea a troublesome storm of the West Wind (Zephyros) and the whitening South Wind (Notos), a storm that will burn the heads of the Trojans and burn their armour carrying the evil flame, while you be the banks of Xanthos set fire to the trees and throw fire on the River himself, and do not by any means let him turn you with winning words or revilements. Do not let your fury be stopped until such time as I lift my voice and cry to you. Then stay your weariless burning.’
Hera spoke, and Hephaistos set on them an inhuman fire. First he kindled a fire in the plain and burned the numerous corpses that lay there in abundance, slain by Akhilleus, and all the plain was parched and the shining water was straitened . . . So the entire flat land was dried up with Hephaistos burning the dead bodies. Then he turned his flame in its shining into the river. The elms burned, the willows and tamarisks, the clover burned and the rushed and the galingale, all those plants that grew in abundance by the lovely stream of the River. The eels were suffering and the fish in the whirl of the water who leaped out along the lovely waters in every direction in affliction under the hot blast of resourceful Hephaistos. The strength of the River was burning away; he gave voice and called out by name : `Hephaistos, not one of the gods could stand up against you. I for one could not fight the flame of a fire like this one. Leave your attack. Brilliant Akhilleus can capture the city, now, for me. What have I to do with this quarrel?’
He spoke, blazing with fire, and his lovely waters were seething. And as a cauldron that is propped over a great fire boils up dancing on its whole circle with dry sticks burning beneath it as it melts down the fat of wine made tender, so Xanthos’ lovely streams were burned with the fire, and the water was boiling and would not flow but stopped under stress of the hot blast strongly blown by resourceful Hephaistos. And now the River cried out to Hera in the winged words of strong supplication : `Hera, why did your son assault me to trouble my waters beyond others? It is not so much I who have done anything against you as all the rest of the gods who stand by to help the Trojans. Now indeed I will leave off, if such is your order, but let him leave off too, I will swear you a promise not ever to drive the day of evil away from the Trojans, not even when all the city of Troy is burned in the ravening fire, on that day when the warlike sons of the Akhaians burn it.’
Now when the goddess of the white arms, Hera, had heard this immediately she spoke to her own dear son, Hephaistos : `Hephaistos, hold, my glorious child, since it is not fitting to batter thus an immortal god for the sake of mortals.’
So she spoke, and Hephaistos quenched his inhuman fire. Now the lovely waters ran their ripples back in the channel. But when the strength of Xanthos had been beaten, these two gods rested, since Hera, for all she was still angry, restrained them."

Plato, Republic 391a-b (trans. Shorey) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"[From Plato's critique of the portrayal of the gods in Homer :] But, for Homer's sake I hesitate to say that it is positively impious to affirm such things of Akhilleus and to believe them when told by others . . . How he was disobedient to the River [i.e. Skamandros], who was a god and was ready to fight with him."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E4. 7 - 8 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Driving the Trojans in a body to the Skamandros, where he [Akhilleus] destroyed many, including Asteropaios, the son of the river Axios’ son Pelegon. In fury the River rose up against him. But Hephaistos chased the river with a great flame and dried up its stream."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 1 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[Ostensibly a description of an ancient Greek painting at Neapolis (Naples) :] Skamandros. Have you noticed, my boy, that the painting here is based on Homer, or have you failed to do so because you are lost in wonder as to how in the world the fire could live in the midst of water? Well then, let us try to get at he meaning of it. Turn your eyes away from the painting itself so as to look only at the events on which it is based. Surely you are familiar with the passage in the Iliad where Homer makes Akhilleus rise up to avenge Patroklos, and the gods are moved to make battle with each other. Now of this battle of the gods the painting ignores all the rest, but it tells how Hephaistos fell upon Skamandros with might and main. Now look again at the painting; it is all from Homer. Here is the lofty citadel, and here the battlements of Ilion; here is the great plain, large enough for marshalling the forces of Asia against he forces of Europe; here fire rolls mightily like a flood over the plain and mightily it creeps along the banks of the River so that no trees are left there. The fire which envelops Hephaistos flows out on the surface of the water and the River is suffering and in person begs Hephaistos for mercy. But the River is not painted with long hair, for the hair has been burnt off; nor is Hephaistos painted as lame, for he is running; and the flames of the fire are not ruddy nor yet of the usual appearance, but they shine like gold and sunbeams. In this Homer is no longer followed."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 245 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Phaethon driving the chariot of the sun set the earth aflame and scorched the rivers including :] Xanthus doomed to burn at Troy a second time [i.e. by the hand of Hephaistos]."

Seneca, Troades 186 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"He [Akhilleus] choked rivers with corpses, and Xanthus, seeking his way, wandered slowly along with bloody stream."


SCAMANDER & THE FALL OF TROY

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 11. 245 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"All the Nymphs [Naiades] were wailing, daughters born of Xanthos [Skamandros] and fair-flowing Simois [to see so many Trojans fall in battle]."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 14. 71 ff :
"Then, when he saw that burg [the city of Troy] beloved destroyed, [the River] Xanthos [i.e. Skamandros], scarce drawing breath from bloody war, mourned with his Nymphai for ruin fallen on Troy, mourned for the city of Priamos blotted out . . . Xanthos' soul was utterly whelmed in grief for Ilion made a desolation; grief undying was his, immortal though he was."

Tryphiodorus, The Taking of Ilias 322 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C5th A.D.) :
"[The Trojans dragged the Wooden Horse into Troy : And as they haled, loud rose the din and the vaunting. Groaned shady Ida together with her Nymphe-haunted oaks: the eddying waters of the river Xanthos shrieked, and the mouth of Simoeis rang aloud."

Tryphiodorus, The Taking of Ilias 683 ff :
"Xanthos, beholding the fiery doom of the city [of Troy], wept with seaward flowing fountain of lamentation, and, terrified by the anger of Hera, yielded to Hephaistos [and let the city burn]."


RIVER-GOD SCAMANDER, MISCELLANY

Homer, Iliad 12. 18 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[After the Greeks had departed from Troy :] Poseidon and Apollon took counsel to wreck the wall [of the Greeks], letting loose the strenght of rivers upon it, all the rivers that run to the sea from the mountains of Ida, Rhesos and Heptaporos, Karesos and Rhodios, Grenikos and Aisepos, and immortal Skamandros and Simoeis . . . Phoibos Apollon turned the mouths of these waters together and nine days long threw the flood against the wall, and Zeus rained incessantly, to break the wall faster and wash it seaward. And the shaker of the earth himself holding in his hands the trident guided them, and hurled into the waves all the bastions' strengthening of logs and stones . . . and turned the rivers again to make their way down the same channel where before they had run the bright stream of their water."

Philostratus the Younger, Imagines 10 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting :] Here is the city of 'beetling Ilion,' as Homer calls it; and a wall runs round about it such as even the gods disdained not to claim as the work of their own hands. On the other side is the station of the ships and the narrow strait of the Hellespontos that separates Asia from Europe. The plain between the city and the strait is divided by the river Xanthos, which is represented, not as 'roaring with foam' nor yet as when it rose in flood against [Akhilleus] the son of Peleus, but its bed is lotus grass and rushes and foliage of tender reeds; it reclines instead of standing erect, and presses it foot on the sources to keep them within bounds, now moistening ((lacuna)) . . the stream keeps within bounds."

Colluthus, Rape of Helen 1 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poetry C5th to 6th A.D.) :
"Ye Nymphai Troiades (of Troy), children of the river Xanthos [Skamandros], who oft-times leave on your father’s sands the snoods that bind your tresses and the sacred toys of your hands, and array you for the dance on Ida, come hither, leaving the sounding river."


Sources:

  • Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
  • Plato, Republic - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th A.D.
  • Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
  • Philostratus the Younger, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
  • Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History - Greek Mythographer C1st-2nd A.D.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Seneca, Troades - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
  • Colluthus, The Rape of Helen - Greek Poetry C5th-6th A.D.
  • Tryphiodorus, The Taking of Ilias - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
  • Photius, Myriobiblon - Byzantine Greek Scholar C9th A.D.