Greek Mythology >> Nymphs >> Oreads >> Chelone (Khelone)


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Tortoise (khelônê)

KHELONE (Chelone) was a nymph of Mount Khelydorea (Rich in Tortoises) in Arkadia (southern Greece). When she haughtily refused a summons to attend the wedding of Zeus and Hera, the god Hermes transformed her into a lazy, stay-at-home tortoise (khelônê).


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CHELO′NE (Chelônê), the tortoise. When all the gods, men, and animals were invited by Hermes to attend the wedding of Zeus and Hera, the nymph Chelone alone remained at home, to shew her disregard of the solemnity. But Hermes then descended from Olympus, threw Chelone's house, which stood on the bank of a river, together with the nymph, into the water, and changed her into a tortoise, who had henceforth to carry her house on her back. (Serv. ad Aen. i. 509.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Aesop, Fables 508 (from Chambry 125) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"Zeus invited all the animals to his wedding. The tortoise alone was absent, and Zeus did not know why, so he asked the tortoise (khelone) her reason for not having come to the feast. The tortoise said, ‘Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.’ Zeus got angry at the tortoise and ordered her to carry her house with her wherever she went."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 17. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Adjoining Mount Kyllene (Cyllene) [in Arkadia] is another mountain, Khelydorea (Chelydorea, Rich in Tortoises), where Hermes is said to have found a tortoise, taken the shell from the beast, and to have made therefrom a harp."

Servius, On Virgil's Aeneid 1. 505 (Roman grammarian C4th A.D.) :
"For his wedding with Juno [Hera], Jupiter [Zeus] ordered Mercurius [Hermes] to invite all the gods, the men and the animals to the wedding. Everyone invited by Mercurius [Hermes] came, except for Chelone who did not deign to be there, mocking the wedding. When Mercurius noticed her absence, he went back down to the earth, threw in the river the house of Chelone that was standing over the river and changed Chelone in an animal that would bear her name. Chelone is said testudo (tortoise) in Latin."





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