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PHOIBE
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Φοιβη Phoibê Phoebe Bright, Prophetic

PHOIBE (or Phoebe) was the Titan goddess of the "bright" intellect, wife of Koios, "the inquirer." She was the third goddess to hold the Oracle of Delphoi which she gifted to her grandson Apollon on his birthday. Phoibe's name was associated with the Greek words phoibos, "bright" or "radiant," phoibaô "to purify" and phoibazô "to give prophesy."

PARENTS
[1.1] OURANOS & GAIA (Hesiod Theogony 132, Aeschylus Eumenides 6, Apollodorus 1.8, Diodorus Siculus 5.66.1)
OFFSPRING
[1.1] LETO, ASTERIA (by Koios) (Hesiod Theogony 404, Apollodorus 1.9, Hyginus Preface)
[1.2] LETO (Aeschylus Eumenides 6 & 323)
[1.3] LETO (by Koios) (Diodorus Siculus 5.67.1)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

PHOEBE (Phoibê). A daughter of Uranus and Ge, became by Coeus the mother of Asteria and Leto. (Hes. Theog. 136, 404, &c.; Apollod. i. 1. § 3, 2. § 2.) According to Aeschylus (Eum. 6) she was in possession of the Delphic oracle after Themis, and prior to Apollo.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Hesiod, Theogony 132 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Gaia the Earth] lay with Ouranos (Sky) and bare deep-swirling Okeanos, Koios and Krios and Hyperion and Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoibe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Kronos."

Hesiod, Theogony 404 ff :
"Again, Phoibe came to the desired embrace of Koios. Then the goddess through the love of the god conceived and brought forth dark-gowned Leto . . . Also she bare Asteria."

Homeric Hymn 3 to Delian Apollo 89 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"Leto [on the island of Delos] was racked nine days and nine nights with pangs beyond wont. And there were with her all the chiefest of the goddesses, Dione and Rheia and Ikhnaie and Themis and loud-moaning Amphitrite and the other deathless goddesses. Then the child leaped forth to the light, and all the goddesses raised a cry. Straightway, great Phoibos [Apollon], the goddesses washed you purely and cleanly with sweet water, and swathed you in a white garment of fine texture, new-woven, and fastened a golden band about you." [N.B. The "chiefest of the goddesses" are the Titanides. Amphitrite stands in place of Tethys, Dione is equivalent to Phoibe, and Ikhnaie "the tracing goddess" is Theia.]

Aeschylus, Eumenides 1 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"The Pythia [prophetic priestess of the oracle at Delphoi, speaks] : `First, in this prayer of mine, I give the place of highest honor among the gods to the first prophet, Gaia (Earth); and after her to Themis (Tradition), for she was the second to take this oracular seat of her mother, as legend tells. And in the third allotment, with Themis' consent and not by force, another Titanis, child of Khthon (Earth), Phoibe, took her seat here. She gave it as a birthday gift to Phoibos [Apollon].'"

Aeschylus, Eumenides 6 & 323 ff :
"Phoibe . . . gave it [the oracle of Delphoi] as a birthday gift to [her grandson] Phoibos [Apollon], who has his name from Phoibe . . . Leto's son [Apollon]."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 2 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Ouranos (Sky) . . . fathered other sons on Ge (Earth), namely the Titanes : Okeanos, Koios, Hyperion, Kreios, Iapetos, and Kronos the youngest; also daughters called Titanides : Tethys, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, Dione, and Theia."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8 :
"The Titanes had children ... The children of Koios and Phoibe were Asteria and Leto. " - Apollodorus, The Library 1.8-9

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 66. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The Titanes numbered six men and five women, being born, as certain writers of myths relate, of Ouranos (Sky) and Ge (Earth), but according to others, of one of the Kouretes and Titaia, from whom as their mother they derive the name they have. The males were Kronos, Hyperion, Koios, Iapetos, Krios and Okeanos, and their sisters were Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe and Tethys. [N.B. He omits Theia.] Each one of them was the discover of things of benefit to mankind, and because of the benefaction they conferred upon all men they were accorded honours and everlasting fame."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 67. 1 :
"To Koios and Phoibe was born Leto."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Polus [i.e. Koios] and Phoebe [were born] : Latone, Asterie."


NOTES :

1. Hesiod's Phoibe, mother of Asteria, is probably the cosmological equivalent of Homer's Dione, mother of Aphrodite. The Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo apparently substitutes Phoibe for Dione in its list of oracular Titanides present at the birth of Apollon. Hesiod and Homer were surely each translating the Phoenician genealogy of Ashtarte into a Greek context when they represent an Asteria as the daughter of Phoibe, and an Aphrodite as the daughter of Dione--Phoibe and Dione ("she-Zeus") are here the Phoenician sky-goddess, and Asteria and Aphrodite are Ashtarte.

2. Phoibe was also the Titan-goddess of the Delphic oracle--a shrine which stood at the navel of the earth. She probably spoke with the prophetic voice of her mother Earth, while her husband Koios or Polos (literally "axis of heaven"), was the Titan who uttered the prophecies of his father the Sky. The daughters of the pair--Asteria and Leto--may have represented the oracles of darkness and light. Leto's son Apollon clearly presided over the prophetic power of heaven and light, while Asteria's daughter Hekate was associated with the prophetic powers of the night and darkness, including astrology and communion with the dead or necromancy.


Sources:

  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
  • The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th B.C.
  • Aeschylus, Eumenides - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.