PHILYRE (Philyra) was an Okeanid-nymph of Mount Pelion in Thessalia (Thessaly) loved by the Titan Kronos (Cronus). When his wife Rhea came upon their rendeavouz, he quickly transformed himself into a horse to escape detection. As a result, Philyre birthed a half-horse, half-man hybrid, the kentauros Kheiron (centaur Chiron). To ease her shame Kronos transformed the girl into a linden tree (philyra in Greek).
FAMILY OF PHILYRA
[1.1] OKEANOS (Eumelus Titanomochia Frag 6; Apollonius Rhodius 2.1233; Hyginus Fabulae 138)
[1.1] KHEIRON (Hesiod Theogony 1001; Pindar Nemean 3.43)
[1.2] KHEIRON (by Kronos) (Eumelus Titanomochia Frag 6; Apollonius Rhodius 2.1233; Apollodorus 1.9, Ovid Metamorphoses 6.126, Virgil Georgics 3.92 & 3.549, Pliny Natural History 7.197)
[1.3] KHEIRON, DOLOPS (by Kronos) (Hyginus Preface & Fabulae 138)
[2.1] APHROS (by Kronos) (Suidas s.v. Aphroi)
PHI′LYRA (Philura). A daughter of Oceanus, and the mother of Cheiron by Cronus. (Pind. Nem. iii. 82; Apollon. Rhod. ii. 1241.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Hesiod, Theogony 1001 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Kheiron (Chiron) the son of Philyra."
Eumelus or Arctinus, Titanomachia Fragment 6 (from Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 554) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"The author of the War of the Giants says that Kronos (Cronus) took the shape of a horse and lay with Philyra, the daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus). Through this cause Kheiron (Chiron) was born a kentauros (centaur): his wife was Khariklo (Chariclo)."
Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 102 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Kheiron (Chiron) my teacher was, this shall I prove. From Khariklo (Chariclo), I say, and Philyra's cave I come, where the chaste daughters of the Kentauros (Centaur) nursed my young days."
Pindar, Nemean Ode 3. 43 ff :
"Akhilleus (Achilles) dwelling in Philyra's halls; while yet a child [i.e. in the care of Kheiron (Chiron)]."
Callimachus, Hymn 1 to Zeus 30 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Neda, eldest of the Nymphai (Nymphs) [i.e. of the Okeanides] . . . earliest birth after Styx and Philyre."
Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 104 ff :
"The cliffs of Kheiron (Chiron) [i.e. of Mount Pelion] . . . O Pelion, bridal chamber of Philyra."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2. 1231 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"By nightfall they [the Argonauts] were passing the Isle of Philyra [at the eastern end of the southern Black Sea coast]. This was where Kronos (Cronus) son of Ouranos (Uranus), deceiving his consort Rhea, lay with Philyra daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus) in the days when he ruled the Titanes in Olympos and Zeus was still a child, tended in the Kretan (Cretan) cave by the Kouretes (Curetes) of Ida. But Kronos and Philyra were surprised in the very act by the goddess Rhea. Whereupon Kronos leapt out of bed and galloped off in the form of a long-maned stallion, while Philyra in her shame left the place, deserting her old haunts, and came to the long Pelasgian ridges. There she gave birth to the monstrous Kheiron (Chiron), half horse and half divine, the offspring of a lover in questionable shape."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Saturnus [Kronos (Cronus)] and Philyra [were born]: Chiron, Dolops."
[N.B. Dolops was the eponym of the Dolopians, a Thessalian tribe which inhabited the Magnesian peninsular, Skyros, and other small islands in the vicinity.]
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 138 :
"When Saturnus [Kronos (Cronus)] was hunting Jove [Zeus] throughout the earth, assuming the form of a steed he lay with Philyra, daughter of Oceanus. By him she bore Chiron the Centaur, who is said to have been the first to invent the art of healing. After Philyra saw that she had borne a strange species, she asked Jove [Zeus] to change her into another form, and she was transformed into the tree which is called the linden."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 126 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Saturnus [Kronos (Cronus)], as a horse begot the centaur Chiron."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 352 ff :
"The peak of shady Pelion, the home of the old [Kheiron (Chiron)] son of Philyreia."
Virgil, Georgics 3. 92 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.) :
"Such, too [i.e. the form of a fine stallion], was Saturnus [Kronos (Cronus)] himself, when at his wife's [Rhea's] coming he fled swiftly [from Philyra], flinging his horse's mane over his shoulders, and with shrill neigh filled the heights of Pelion."
Virgil, Georgics 3. 549 :
"Chiron Phyllyrides (son of Phillyra)."
Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 197 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"Chiron the son of Saturnus [Kronos (Cronus)] and Philyra."
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 152 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Ye shores [of the southern-eastern Black Sea coast] named of Philyra which Saturnus [Kronos (Cronus)] trampled with horse's hoofs."
Suidas s.v. Aphroi (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Aphroi (Africans) : Name of a people; the Karthaginians (Carthaginians). [They are descended] from Aphros who was king of Libye (Libya), the son of Kronos (Cronus) out of Philyra."
[N.B. Aphros is depicted as a sea-centaur in Greco-Roman mosaics found in the vicinity of Carthage in North Africa.]
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Epic Cycle, Titanomachia Fragments - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
- Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Virgil, Georgics - Latin Bucolic C1st B.C.
- Pliny the Elder, Natural History - Latin Encyclopedia C1st A.D.
- Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
- Suidas, The Suda - Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.