HEROES & VILLIANS
Presented here is a small selection of heroes, heroines, kings and villians from Greek mythology.
A SMALL SELECTION OF HEROES, KINGS & VILLAINS
ACHILLES (Akhilleus) The great hero of the Trojan War, a son of Peleus and the Nereid Thetis. (For the story of his birth see Thetis.)
ACTAEON (Aktaion) A hunter who spied the goddess Artemis bathing and was transformed into a stag and torn apart by his hounds.
ADONIS A handsome youth loved by the goddess Aphrodite who was killed by a boar whilst hunting. (Coming soon)
AMYMONE An Argive princess who was seduced by the god Poseidon when she came to Lerna in search of water during a drought.
ANDROMEDA A beautiful Ethiopian princess who was chained to the rocks as a sacrifice for the sea-monster ravaging the coast. She was rescued and married by the hero Perseus.
ANTIOPE A Boiotian princess seduced by the god Zeus in the guise of a satyr. She bore him twin sons, Amphion and Zethos.
ARACHNE (Arakhne) An arrogant weaver who challenged Athena to a contest and was turned into a spider.
ASCALABUS (Askalabos) An Attican boy who was transformed into a spotted lizard as punishment for mocking the goddess Demeter when she quaffed a drink to quench her thirst.
ASCLEPIUS (Asklepios) A physician from Thessalian Tricca who was so skilled in the art of medicine that he could restore the dead to life. However, since this was a crime against the natural order, Zeus destroyed him with a thunderbolt. He was later elevated to godhood.
ATALANTA An Arcadian huntress, nursed in the wilderness by a bear. She hunted the Calydonian boar, slew Centaurs, defeated Peleus in wrestling, and was married by Melanion who defeated her in a race.
BELLEROPHON (Bellerophontes) A Corinthian prince who captured the winged horse Pegasus and destroyed the monstrous Chimera which was ravaging the land of Lycia.
BUSIRIS (Bousiris) A king of Egypt who, in accordance with an oracle, sacrificed foreigners passing through his land to the gods. He was slain by Heracles when the hero was brought before the altar.
CALLISTO (Kallisto) An Arcadian princess and hunting companion of the goddess Artemis. She was loved by Zeus, but when her pregnancy was revealed was turned into a bear.
CECROPS (Kekrops) An early, earth-born king who founded the city of Athens. He had a snake's tail in place of legs.
CORONIS (Koronis) A Triccan princess loved by the god Apollo. When she cheated on him with another man, his sister Artemis slew her with an arrow.
CYCNUS OF COLONAE (Kyknos Kolonaios) A champion of the Trojans in the first battles of the Trojan War. He was a son of Poseidon, invulnerable to weapons, slain by Achilles.
CYCNUS OF ITONUS (Kyknos Itonios) A bandit prince of Thessalian Phthiotis who fought with Heracles, but was slain and transformed into a swan by his father Ares.
CYCNUS OF LIGURIA (Kyknos Ligyrios) A Ligurian prince skilled in song. After the death of his close friend Phaethon, he mourned the boy with dirges on the banks of the river Eridanos, where he was transformed into a swan.
CYCNUS OF THYRIA (Kyknos Thyrios) An Aetolian youth who demanded many difficult labours of his love Phyllius. When the boy died carrying out one of these, Cycnus was stricken with remorse, faded away and was transformed into a swan.
CYPARISSUS (Kyparissos) A handsome youth of the island of Ceos loved by the god Apollo. He died of grief after accidentally killing his pet stag and was turned into a cypress tree.
CYRENE (Kyrene) A Thessalian princess and huntress. She was loved by the god Apollo who first spied her as she was wrestling a lion.
DANAE An Argive princess who was locked in a bronze cell by her father Acrisius. She was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a golden shower and bore him the hero Perseus.
DEUCALION (Deukalion) A King of Thessaly who survived the Great Deluge sent by Zeus to destroy mankind. He recreated the race after the devastation with the casting of stones.
DIOMEDES OF THRACE (Diomedes Thrakios) A king of the Thracian Bistones who fed his mares on human flesh. He was slain by Heracles who was sent to fetch the horses as one of his twelve labours.
ENDYMION A handsome shepherd prince loved by the moon-goddess Selene. He was granted immortality and eternal youth in a state of slumber.
ERYSICHTHON (Erysikhthon) A Thessalian king who chopped down the sacred grove of the goddess Demeter and was inflicted with insatiable hunger.
ERYX A Sicilian king who stole the finest bull from the herd of Geryon, which Heracles was herding through the island. He challenged the hero to a wrestling match but was defeated and killed.
EUROPA A Phoenician princess abducted to the island of Crete by the god Zeus who carried her across the sea in the guise of a bull.
EVADNE (Euadne) An Arcadian princess loved by the god Apollo, who abandoned their son Iamus in a bed of violets where he was nursed by bees.
GANYMEDE A handsome Trojan prince who was carried off to heaven by the god Zeus in the guise of an eagle where he became the cupbearer of the gods.
GERYON (Geryones) A three-bodied man who kept a fabulous herd of red-skinned cattle on the island of Erythea. Heracles was sent to fetch these as one of his twelve labours and slew the king in his quest.
HERACLES The great hero of the Greeks who completed the twelve impossible Labours assigned him by King Eurystheus.
HIPPOLYTE A Queen of the Amazons, whose belt Heracles was sent to fetch as one of his twelve labours. She was killed by the hero in his quest.
HYACINTHUS (Hyakinthos) A handsome Spartan prince loved by the god Apollo. The boy was accidentally killed by a discus during a game of quoits and transformed by the god into the larkspur flower.
IAMUS (Iamos) A seer of the shrine of Olympia who was nursed by bees on a bed of violets.
IASION A Samothracian prince loved by the goddess Demeter who was struck dead by Zeus with a thunderbolt.
ICARIUS (Ikarios) An Attican man instructed in the making of wine by the god Dionysus. He was killed by local peasants who thought they had been poisoned by the new beverage.
IO An Argive princess loved by the god Zeus, who turned her into a heifer to hide her from the jealous gaze of Hera. The goddess set a gadfly to torment her and she wandered all the way to Egypt where she birthed her son.
IXION An impious Lapith king who sought to rape the goddess Hera but was fooled with a phantom cloud. He was chained to a fiery wheel for eternity as punishment.
JASON (Iason) A Thessalian hero who led the Argonauts in the quest for the Golden Fleece. In Colchis he won the witch Medea for his bride. (For some of the Argonaut stories see the Bronze Bulls, the Colchian Dragon, the Golden Fleece, and the giant Talos.)
LEDA A queen of Sparta who was seduced by Zeus in the guise of swan. She laid an egg from which was hatched Helen and the Dioscuri twins.
LYCAON (Lykaon) A king of Arcadia who slaughtered a child as a meal for Zeus and was transformed by the disgusted god into a wolf.
LYCURGUS (Lykourgos) A Thracian king who attacked the company of the god Dionysus driving him to seek refuge the sea. As punishment for the crime he was driven mad, murdering his wife and sons, before killing himself by chopping off his own legs.
MELEAGER (Meleagros) A prince of Calydon who led the heroes in the hunt for the giant Calydonian Boar. (For one tale see the Calydonian Boar Hunt.)
MIDAS A king of Phrygia who kindly entertained Dionysus' companion Silenus when he became separated from the god's company and as reward was given a golden touch.
MINYADES Three princesses of Orchomenus who scorned the worship of the god Dionysus. They were driven mad and dismembered one of their sons before being transformed into owls and bats.
NARCISSUS (Narkissos) An arrogant Boeotian youth who spurned the attention of others and was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection. Fading away, he was transformed into a daffodil.
ODYSSEUS A hero of the Trojan War, whose fleet was blown off course in a storm on his return. (For tales of his wanderings see Polyphemus, Aeolus, the Laestrygones, Circe, the Underworld, the Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, Lampetia & Phaethusa, Calypso, Leucothea.)
OEDIPUS (Oidipous) A Boeotian hero who destroyed the Sphinx and was crowned King of Thebes. Tragedy ensued when he unintentionally killed his father and married his mother. (For one tale see the Sphinx.)
ORION A handsome giant and hunter, companion of the goddess Artemis. Gaea sent a scorpion to destroy him when he boasted he would hunt down all the animals of the earth.
OTRERA A bride of the war-god Ares and the mother of the Amazon nation.
PANDORA The first woman created by the gods. She delivered evil into the house of man when she opened a jar containing all of the harmful spirits.
PASIPHAE A Queen of Crete, the wife of King Minos. She fell in love with a bull and by means of a wooden cow, coupled with it and gave birth to the Minotaur.
PELOPS A king of Pisa and the Peloponesse.
PENTHESILEA (Penthesileia) An Amazon queen who led her troops to the Trojan War. She was slain by Achilles.
PERSEUS A hero commanded by King Polydectes of Seriphus to fetch the Gorgon's head. He returned with the prize and turned the king to stone.
PHAETHON A child of Helius the sun, who persuaded his father to let him ride the solar chariot, but lost control and was blasted from the sky by Zeus.
PSYCHE (Psykhe) A princess loved by Eros, the god of love. He abandoned her when she tried to discover his true identity, but they were reconciled after she performed many hard labours in the service of the goddess Aphrodite.
PYGMALION A Cypriot king who fell in love with an ivory statue. In answer to his prayers the goddess Aphrodite gave it life.
PYRRHA The wife of King Deucalion, who with her husband survived the Great Deluge.
SALMONEUS A king of Salmonia (Pylos) who pretended to be Zeus and was struck dead by the god with a thunderbolt.
SISYPHUS (Sisyphos) A king of Corinth who tried to cheat death, but was forcibly carried off to the underworld and condemned to eternal torment.
TANTALUS (Tantalos) A king of Lydia who served his slaughtered son at a feast of the gods. As punishment he was condemned to eternal torture in Hades.
TENNES A king of the island of Tenedos who was killed by Akhilleus in a skirmish on the way to Troy.
TITHONUS (Tithonos) A handsome Trojan prince abducted by the goddess Eos for a husband. She requested immortality for her spouse but neglected to ask for eternal youth, and he shrivelled up with time.
TRIPTOLEMUS (Triptolemos) An agricultural hero of Eleusis who was given a winged chariot by the goddess Demeter to spread knowledge of agriculture throughout the world.
TYRO A Thessalian princess who was seduced by the god Poseidon in the guise of the river Enipeus. She bore him the sons Neleus and Pelias.
MYTHOLOGY IN POST-CLASSICAL ART
Oedipus and the Sphinx by the French painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898).