Web Theoi
POINE
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Ποινη Poinê Poena Retribution, Penalty,
Punishment (poinê)

POINE (or Poene) was a monstrous Drakaina (she-dragon) summoned forth from the Underworld by the god Apollon to punish the Argives for the cruel death of his infant son Linos.

Poine may have been the same as the Argive Ekhidna, a similar monster said to have terrorized the land, and also bears a close resemblance to the child-devouring demon Lamia.

PARENTS
HAIDES ? (Statius Thebaid 1.588)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 43. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Psamathe, daughter of Krotopos [of Argos], bore a son to Apollon, and being in dire terror of her father, exposed the child. He was found and destroyed by sheepdogs of Krotopos, and Apollon send Poine (Vengeance) to the city to punish the Argives. They say that she used to snatch the children from their mothers, until to please the Argives slew Poine. Whereat a second punishment plague fell upon them and stayed not. So Koroibos of his own accord went to Delphoi to submit to the punishment of the god for having slain Poine."

Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 1. 2 (from Papryus Rylands 13 Fragment 471-3) (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Linos died torn by dogs : and his untimely fate as sung by minstrel men and the wandering of Krotopos [missing text] I singright on as I received it. Nor did Apollon remain unheeding forever of his bride of hapless fate, but to expiate a child’s death by the death of children Poine, and avenger of grievous wrath came against the Argives, who leapt upon their homes and made empty-armed the mothers and lightened the burden of the nurses."

Statius, Thebaid 1. 588 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[The Argive king Krotopos had a daughter who was loved by the god Apollon. She secretly gave birth to a son and entrusted the babe to the care of a shepherd. But the man was negligent and as the infant] lay careless [in a meadow] and drinking in the day with open mouth, fierce ravening dogs mangled the babe and took their fill with bloody jaws. But when tidings reached the mother’s horror-struck ears, father and shame and fear were all forgot; herself straightway she fills the house with wild lamentation, all distraught, and baring her breast meets her father [Krotopos] with her tale of grief. Nor is he moved, but bids her--Oh horrible!--even as she desires, suffer grim death. Too late remembering thy union, O Phoebus [Apollon], thou dost devise a solace for her miserable fate, a monster conceived ‘neath lowest Acheron in the Eumenides’ [Erinyes’] unhallowed lair: a maiden’s face and bosom has she, from her head an ever-hissing snake rises erect, parting in twain her livid brow. Then that foul pest, gliding at night with unseen movement into the chambers, tore from the breasts that suckled them lives newly-born, and with blood-stained fangs gorged and fattened on the country’s grief. But Coroebus, foremost in prowess of arms and high courage, brooked it not, and with chosen youths, unsurpassed in valour and ready at life’s hazard to enlarge their fame, went forth, a willing champion. From dwellings newly ravaged she was going, where in the gateway two roads met, to corpses of two little ones hung at her side, and still her hooked talons claw their vitals and the iron nails are warm in their young hearts. Thronged by his band of heroes the youth rushed to the attack, and buried his broad blade in her cruel breast, and with flashing steel probing deep the spirit’s lurking-place at length restored to nether Jove [Haides] his monstrous offspring. What joy to go and see at close hand those eyes livid in death, the ghastly issue of her womb, and her breasts clotted with foul corruption, whereby our young lives perished! Appalled stand the Inachian youth, and their gladness, though great now sorrow is ended, even yet is dim and pale. With sharp stakes they mangle the dead limbs--vain solace for their grief--and beat out the jagged grinding teeth from her jaws: they can--yet cannot glut their ire. Her did ye flee unfed, ye birds, wheeling round with nocturnal clamour, and ravening dogs, they say, and wolves gaped in terror upon her, dry-mouthed. But against the unhappy youths the Delian [Apollon] rises up fierce at the doom of his slain Avengeress, and seated on the shady top of twin-peaked Parnassus with relentless bow he cruelly scatters shafts that bring pestilence, and withers beneath a misty shroud the fields and dwellings of [Argos]. Pleasant lives droop and fail, Mors [Thanatos, death] with his sword cuts through the Sister’s [Moirai’s, fates] threads, and hurries the stricken city to the shades. Our leader then inquiring what the cause may be, what is this baleful fire from heaven, why Sirius reigns throughout the whole year, the word of the same god Paean [Apollon] brings command, to sacrifice to the blood-stained monster those youths that caused her death."

Suidas s.v. Ker (and Greek Anthology 7. 154. 3) (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Ker : Spirit (psykhe); also death-bringing fate (moira thanatephoros). Also [in the plural] Keres, death-bringing fates . . . For that which [is] inborn warmth [is] a spirit. `I [Poine] am a tomb-haunting Ker, and Koroibos killed me.'"


Sources:

  • Callimachus, Fragments - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd A.D.
  • Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
  • Suidas - Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.