PERSEIS was an Okeanid-nymph loved by the sun-god Helios. She bore him four children--the witches Kirke (Circe) and Pasiphae and magician-kings Aeetes and Perses.
Aeetes was the king of Kolkhis (Colchis), at the eastern end of the Black Sea, and Perses the ruler of the nearby kingdom of Persia. Perses was succeeded on the throne by his niece, the witch Medea, for whom the country was renamed Media. She was regarded as the ancestress of the Median royal family and probably as the founder of the order of the Magoi--the royal magicians.
Perseis' name was derived from the Greek word persô meaning "to destroy," "to slay," or "to sack with fire." Perseis was also the patronymic epithet of the goddess-witch Hekate, daughter of Perses, who was no doubt identified with the Okeanid-mother of witches. The name was later associated with the Greek words for Persia and the Persians.
[1.1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Hesiod Theogony 357 & 957)
[1.2] OKEANOS (Homer Odyssey 10.139, Hyginus Fabulae 156)
[1.1] KIRKE, AEETES (by Helios) (Hesiod Theogony 955; Homer Odyssey 10.139)
[1.2] KIRKE, AEETES, PASIPHAE (by Helios) (Apollodorus 1.83, 3.7, E7.14, Cicero De Natura Deorum 3.19)
[1.3] KIRKE (by Helios) (Apollonius Rhodius 4.591)
[1.4] KIRKE, AEETES, PASIPHAE, PERSES (by Helios) (Hyginus Preface)
[2.1] ALOEIS (by Helios) (Tzetzes on Lycophron)
PERSE (Persê), a daughter of Oceanus. and wife of Helios, by whom she became the another of Aeetes and Circe. (Hom. Od. x. 139; Hes. Theog. 356, 956.) She is further called the mother of Pasiphae (Apollod. i. 9. § 1, iii. 1. § 2 ; Hygin. Praef.), Perses (Apollod. i. 9, in fin.), and Aloeus (Tzetz. ad Lyc. 174). Homer and Apollonius Rhodius (iv. 591) call her Perse, while others call her Perseis (comp. Tzetz. ad Lyc. 798) or Persea. (Virg. Cir. 66.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Homer, Odyssey 10. 139 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"We came to the island of Aiaia (Aeaea); here Kirke (Circe) dwelt, a goddess with braided hair, with human speech and with strange powers; the magician Aeetes was her brother, and both were were the radiant sun-god's [Helios'] children; their mother was Perse, Okeanos' (Oceanus') daughter."
Hesiod, Theogony 346 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"She [Tethys] brought forth also a race apart of daughters . . . They are . . . Perseis and Ianeira [in a list of forty-one names] . . . Now these are the eldest of the daughters who were born to Tethys and Okeanos (Oceanus)."
Hesiod, Theogony 955 ff :
"To Helios, the unwearied Sun, the glorious daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus), Perseis, bore Kirke (Circe) and the King Aeetes."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Sol (the Sun) [Helios] and Persa [were born] : Circe, Pasiphae, Aeeta, Perses."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 156 :
"Children of Sol (the Sun) [Helios]. Circe by Persis, daughter of Oceanus, and Pasiphae."
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 19 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"If Ino is to be deemed divine . . . because she is the daughter of Cadmus, are Circe and Pasiphae and Aeetes, the children of Perseis the daughter of Oceanus by Sol (the Sun) [Helios], to be not counted in the list of gods? . . . If these are not divine, I have my fears as to what will become of Ino, for the claims of all of them derive from the same source [i.e. Homer's Odyssey]."
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 581 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Aeetes] the Perseia offspring of flaming Sol (the Sun) [Helios]." [N.B. "Perseia" is used as an adjective here which implies both "son of Perse" and "Persian."]
- Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Cicero, De Natura Deorum - Latin Rhetoric C1st B.C.
- Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.