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KHRYSAOR
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Χρυσαωρ Khrysaôr Chrysaor Golden blade
(khrysos, aor)

KHRYSAOR (or Chrysaor) was a son of the Gorgon Medousa. He was usually represented as giant, but may also have been conceived of as a winged boar, just as his twin brother Pegasos was a winged horse.

PARENTS
[1.1] POSEIDON & MEDOUSA (Hesiod Theogony 278, Apollodorus 2.42, Hyginus Pref & Fabulae 151, Nonnus Dionysiaca 31.13)
OFFSPRING

[1.1] GERYON (by Kallirrhoe) (Hesiod Theogony 287)
[1.2] GERYON (Stesichorus Geryoneis, Ibycus Frag 282A, Apollodorus 2.42, Hyginus Pref & Fabulae 15, Diodorus Siculus 4.17.1)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

CHRYSAOR (Chrusaôr). A son of Poseidon and Medusa, and consequently a brother of Pegasus. When Perseus cut off the head of Medusa, Chrysaor and Pegasus sprang forth from it. Chrysaor became by Callirrhoë the father of the three-headed Geryones and Echidna. (Hesiod, Theog. 280, &c.; Hygin. Fab. Praef. and 151.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Hesiod, Theogony 280 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"But when Perseus had cut off the head of Medousa there sprang from her blood great Khrysaor and the horse Pegasos . . . while Khrysaor is named for the golden 'aor', the sword he handles."

Hesiod, Theogony 966 & 979 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"Sing out now the names of those goddesses who went to bed with mortal men and, themselves immortal, bore to these children in the likeness of immortals . . . Kallirhoe, daughter of Okeanos lying in the embraces of stout-hearted Khrysaor through Aphrodite the golden bore him a son, most powerful of all men mortal, Geryones."

Stesichorus, Geryoneis Fragment S10 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (Greek lyric C7th to C6th B.C.) :
"[Menoites tells Geryon to remember his parents :] Your mother Kallirhoe and Khrysaor, dear to Ares."

Stesichorus, Geryoneis Fragment S11 :
"[Geryon] the mighty son of immortal Khrysaor and Kallirhoe."

Stesichorus, Geryoneis Fragment S87 (from Scholiast on Hesiod's Theogony) :
"Geryon is son of Kallirrhoe, daughter of Okeanos, and Khrysaor."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 42 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When he [Perseus] saw Medousa, he beheaded her. As soon as her head was severed there leaped from her body the winged horse Pegasos and Khrysaor, the father of Geryon. The father of these two was Poseidon."

Lycophron, Alexandra 840 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"The harvester [Perseus] who delivered of her [Medousa’s] pains in birth of horse [Pegasos] and man [Khrysaor] the stony-eyed weasel whose children sprang from her neck.”

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 17. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The cattle of Geryones, which pastured in the parts of Iberia which slope towards the ocean. And Herakles, realizing that the task called for preparation on a large scale and involved great hardships, gathered a notable armament and a multitude of soldiers as would be adequate for this expedition. For it had been noised abroad throughout all the inhabited world that Khrysaor (Golden-Sword), who received this appellation because of his wealth, was king over the whole of Iberia, and that he had three sons [the three-bodied Geryon] to fight at his side, who excelled in both strength of body and the deeds of courage which they displayed in contests of war; it was known, furthermore, that each of these sons had at his disposal great forces which were recruited from warlike tribes. It was because of these reports that Eurystheus, thinking any expedition against these men would be too difficult to succeed, had assigned the Herakles the Labour just described."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Neptune [Poseidon] and Medusa [were born]: Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus. From Chrysaor and Callirhoe [was born]: three-formed Geryon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 151 :
"From Medusa, daughter of Gorgon, and Neptunus [Poseidon], were born Chrysaor and horse Pegasus; from Chrysaor and Callirhoe, three-formed Geryon.”

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 786 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"While deep sleep held fast Medusa and her snakes, he [Perseus] severed her head clean from her neck; and from their mother's blood swift-flying Pegasus and his brother [Khrysaor] sprang . . . he [Medousa], it's said, was violated in Minerva's [Athena’s] shrine by the Rector Pelagi (Lord of the Sea) [Poseidon]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 31. 13 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
“As Medousa was slain [by Perseus], the neck was delivered of its twin birth, the Horse [Pegasos] and the Boy [Khrysaor] with the golden sword.”


Winged Boar on the shield of Geryon | Greek vase painting
L3.1D KHRYSAOR ?
AS WINGED BOAR
Medusa, Pegasus & Chrysaor | Greek vase painting
P23.8 MEDOUSA,
BIRTH KHRYSAOR
   

NOTES :

Just as his brother Pegasos represented the warmth and rains of spring, so Khrysaor may have presided over the warm summer months (of the harvest season). His name khrysaor perhaps referred to the seasonal golden-blades of grain. His wife was the gentle, rain-nymphe Kallirrhoe (the fair flowing).

Khrysaor may have been placed amongst the stars as the Constellation Great Boar (Ursa Major). The Greeks say that the boar constellation was later reassigned, or removed from heaven, probably meaning that the character of Khrysaor was transferred to the Sword of Orion, while Ursa Major became the bear (Kallisto). Khrysaor, unlike most of the other constellations, is specifically described as immortal, meaning it never sets in the Ocean.

Khrysaor remained closely associated in myth with both of the nearby constellations: Orion and Canis Major and Minor. The former was probably his Geryon in one account, and the latter his two-headed dog Orthos. Ursa Major preceded these two in the heavenly procession. An alternative assignment for Orion was Khrysaor's brother, the namesake Orion, a son of Poseidon and the Gorgon Euryale.

In art one sculptural depiction of Khrysaor represents him as a boy beside the foal Pegasos in the arms of their mother Medousa.
There is also a vase painting depicting Khrysaor's son Geryon holding a shield emblazoned with the emblem of a winged boar--a likely representation of Khrysaor considering his boar-tusked, winged mother Medousa and winged-horse brother Pegasos. Pigs were also sacrificed to the earth-goddess Demeter Khrysaoros (of the golden blades) after harvest in autumn to prosper the grain-crop during the new season's planting.

Khrysaor was probably the same as the Erymanthian Boar captured by Herakles as one of his twelve labours.


Sources:

  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
  • Greek Lyric III, Stesichorus, Geryoneis- Greek Lyric C7th-6th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Lycophron, Alexandra - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.