MAIRA (Maera) was the nymph of the dog-star Seirios (Sirius) whose rising, in conjunction with the sun, brought on the scorching heat of midsummer. Like the Pleiades and Hyades, Maira was a starry daughter of the Titan Atlas. She was the wife of King Tegeates of Arkadia, the eponymous founder of the town Tegea.
ATLAS (Pausanias 8.12.7 & 8.48.6)
SKEPHROS, LEIMON, KYDON, ARKHEDIOS, GORTYS (by Tegeates) (Pausanias 8.53.2)
MAERA (Maira). A daughter of Atlas, was married to Tegeates, the son of Lycaon. Her tomb was shown both at Tegea and Mantineia in Arcadia. and Pausanias thinks that she was the same as the Maera whom Odysseus saw in Hades. (Paus. viii. 12. § 4, 48. § 4, 53. § 1; Völcker, Mythol. des Iapet. Geschl. p. 114.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Homer, Odyssey 11. 326 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Odysseus sees the ghosts of heroines in the underworld :] I saw Maira (Maera) too."
Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 3. 1 (from Oxyrhynchus Papyri 7) (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"The [Kean] priests of Zeus Aristaios Ikmaios (the Lord of Moisture) : priests whose business it is upon the mountain-tops to assuage stern Maira (Maera) [i.e. the dog-star Sirius] when she rises."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 48. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"There are also tombs [at Tegea, Arkadia] of Tegeates, the son of Lykaon (Lycaon), and of Maira (Maera), the wife of Tegeates. They say Maira was a daughter of Atlas, and Homer makes mention of her in the passage where Odysseus tells to Alkinous (Alcinous) his journey to Haides, and of those whose ghosts he beheld there [Odyssey 11. 326]."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 12. 7 :
"The ruins of a village called Maira (Maera), with the grave of Maira . . . For probably the Tegeans, and not the Mantineans , are right when they say that Maira, the daughter of Atlas, was buried in their land."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 53. 2 :
"Apollon and Artemis, they say, throughout every land visited with punishment all the men of that time who, when Leto was with child and in the course of her wanderings, took no heed of her when she came to their land [Tegea in Arkadia]. So when the divinities came to the land of Tegea, Skephros (Scephrus), they say, the son of Tegeates, came to Apollon and had a private conversation with him. And Leimon (Water-Meadow), who also was a son of Tegeates, suspecting that the conversation of Skephros contained a charge against him, rushed on his brother and killed him. Immediate punishment for the murder overtook Leimon, for he was shot by Artemis. At the time Tegeates and Maira (Maera) sacrificed to Apollon and Artemis, but afterwards a severe famine fell on the land, and an oracle of Delphoi ordered a mourning for Skephros. At the feast of [Apollon] Agyieus (the Lord of Streets) rites are performed in honor of Skephros, and in particular the priestess of Artemis pursues a man, pretending she is Artemis herself pursuing Leimon.
It is also said that all the surviving sons of Tegeates, namely, Kydon (Cydon), Arkhedios (Archedius) and Gortys, migrated of their own free will to Krete (Crete), and that after them were named the cities Kydonia (Cydonia), Gortyna and Katreus. The Kretans dissent from the account of the Tegeans."
- Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Callimachus, Fragments - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.