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Leda and Zeus as swan | Apulian red-figure loutrophoros C4th B.C. | The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu
Leda and Zeus as swan, Apulian red-figure loutrophoros C4th B.C., The J. Paul Getty Museum

ZEUS was the king of the gods, and god of the sky, weather, fate and law.

This page describes three of Zeus' mortal liaisons--Danae who was impregnated by the god in the form of a golden shower, Antiope who was seduced by the god in the guise of a satyr, and Kallisto who was deceived by Zeus disguised as the maiden Artemis.


ALKMENE (Alcmena) A lady of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece) who was seduced by Zeus in the form of her own husband. She bore twins: Herakles by Zeus and Likymnios by her husband Amphitryon.

ANTIOPE A lady of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece) who was seduced by Zeus in the shape of Satyros. She bore him twin sons Amphion and Zethos which were exposed at birth.

DANAE A princess of Argos (central Greece) who was imprisoned by her father in a bronze tower. Zeus seduced her in the form of a golden shower, and she gave birth to a son, the hero Perseus.

DIA A queen of the Lapith tribe of Thessalia (northern Greece), wife of King Ixion. According to some, she was seduced by Zeus, and bore him a son Peirithoos (but others say, the father was her husband Ixion). [see Family]

ELARE (Elara) A princess of Orkhomenos (central Greece) who was loved by Zeus. In fear of the wrath of Hera, he hid her beneath the earth, where she gave birth to a son the Gigante Tityos.

EUROPA A princess of Phoinikia (Phoenicia) (West Asia) who was abducted to Krete )in the Greek Aegean) by Zeus in the form of a bull. She bore him three sons: Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthys.

EURYMEDOUSA (Eurymedusa) A princess of Phthiotis (northern Greece) who was seduced by Zeus in the form of an ant. Their son was named Myrmidon (Ant-Man).

KALLISTO (Callisto) A princess of Arkadia (southern Greece) who was seduced by Zeus in the guise of the goddess Artemis. She was transformed into a bear by a wrathful goddess into a bear and in this form bare a son named Arkas.

KALYKE (Calyce) A queen of Elis (southern Greece), the wife of King Aithlios. She was the mother by Zeus (or by her husband Aithlios) of Endymion. [see Family]

KASSIOPEIA (Cassiopeia) A lady of the island Krete (Greek Aegean) who bore Zeus a son named Atymnios. [see Family]

LAMIA A queen of Libya (North Africa) who was loved by Zeus. When the jealous Hera stole her children by the god--Herophile and Akhilleus--she was driven mad with grief.

LAODAMEIA A princess of Lykia (Asia Minor) who was loved by Zeus and bore him a son, Sarpedon. [see Family]

LEDA A queen of Lakedaimonia (southern Greece) who was seduced by Zeus in the form of swan. She laid an egg from which were hatched the Dioskouroi twins--one Polydeukes was the son of Zeus, the other Kastor the son of her husband Tyndareus. According to some, she was also the mother of egg-hatched Helene (though others say this egg was given her by the goddess Nemesis).

LYSITHOE A woman who bore Zeus a son named Herakles (a man with the same name as the famous hero). [see Family]

NIOBE A princess of Argolis (southern Greece). She was the very first mortal woman loved by Zeus, and bore him two sons: Argos and Pelasgos (though according to others Pelasgos was a son of Poseidon or Earth-Born).

OLYMPIAS An historical queen of Makedonia, the mother of Alexander the Great. According to legend, her son was fathered by the god Zeus.

PANDORA A princess of the Hellenes, one of the daughters of King Deukalion, surviver of the Great Deluge. She was loved by Zeus and bore him sons Latinos and Graikos. [see Family]

PROTOGENEIA A princess of the Hellenes, one of the daughters of King Deukalion, surviver of the Great Deluge. She was loved by Zeus and bore him a son Aithlios. [see Family]

PYRRHA The wife of King Deukalion of the Hellenes, who with her husband survived the Great Deluge. According to some, her first born son, Hellen, was fathered by Zeus rather than Deukalion. [see Family]

PHTHIA A girl from Aegion in Akhaia (southern Greece). Zeus seduced her in the guise of a pigeon or dove.

SEMELE A princess of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece) who was loved by Zeus, but through the machinations of Hera was consumed by the heat of his lightning bolts. Zeus rescued their unborn son, Dionysos, from her body and sewed him up in his thigh until he was old enought to be born.

THYIA A princess of the Hellenes, one of the daughters of King Deukalion, surviver of the Great Deluge. She was loved by Zeus and bore him sons Magnes and Makedon. [see Family]


GANYMEDES A prince of Troy (Asia Minor) who was abducted to Olympos by Zeus in the form of an eagle to be his lover and the cupbearer of the gods.



Danae and Zeus as golden shower | Lucanian red-figure krater C5th B.C. | Musée du Louvre, Paris
Danae and Zeus as golden shower, Lucanian red-figure krater C5th B.C., Musée du Louvre

LOCALE : Mykenai, Argolis (Southern Greece)

Homer, Iliad 14. 139 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Zeus who gathers the clouds answered her [his wife Hera] : ‘. . . Never before has love for any goddess or woman so melted about the heart inside me, broken it to submission, as now: not that time . . . when I loved Akrisios' daughter sweet-stepping Danaë, who bore Perseus to me, preeminent among all men.’"

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 26 & 34 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"To Akrision and Eurydike, Lakedaimon's daughter, was born a daughter Danae. . .
While Akrisios was making oracular inquiry into the problem of fathering sons, the god informed him that a son born of his daughter would slay him. In fear Akrisios constructed a bronze chamber beneath the earth, where he kept Danae under guard. Now some say the Proitos [twin brother of Akrisios] seduced her, which led to the hard feelings between the brothers, but others say that Zeus had sex with her by changing himself into gold that streamed in through the ceiling and down into her womb. When Akrisios later learned that she had given birth to Perseus, not believing that Zeus had seduced her, he cast his daughter out to sea with her son on an ark. The ark drifted ashore at Seriphos, where Diktys recovered the child and brought him up."

Strabo, Geography 10. 5. 10 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Seriphos, the scene of the mythical story of Diktys, who with his net drew to land the chest in which were enclosed Perseus and his mother Danae, who had been sunk in the sea by Akrisios the father of Danae; for Perseus was reared there."

Herodotus, Histories 6. 53 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"The Greeks recount these kings of the Dorians as far back as Perseus son of Danae - they make no mention of the god [Zeus, the father of Perseus] - and prove these kings to be Greek; for by that time they had come to be classified as Greeks. I said as far back as Perseus, and I took the matter no further than that, because no one is named as the mortal father of Perseus, as Amphitryon is named father of Herakles . . . Danae [was the] daughter of Akrisios."

Herodotus, Histories 7. 61 :
"Perseus son of Danae and Zeus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 63 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Danae was the daughter of Acrisius and Aganippe. A prophecy about her said that the child she bore would kill Acrisius, and Acrisius, fearing this, shut her in a stone-walled prison. But Jove [Zeus], changing into a shower of gold, lay with Danae, and from this embrace Perseus was born. Because of her sin her father shut her up in a chest with Perseus and cast it into the sea. By Jove's [Zeus'] will it was borne to the island of Seriphus, and when the fisherman Dictys found it and broke it open, he discovered the mother and child. He took them to King Polydectes, who married Danae and brought up Perseus in the temple of Minerva [Athena]."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 155 :
"Sons of Jove [Zeus] . . . Perseus by Danae, daughter of Acrisius."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 576 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Acrisius of Argos . . . denied Perseus could be Jove's [Zeus'] son, whom Danae conceived in that gold shower."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 607 ff :
"Acrisius Abantiades (son of Abas) . . . denied [his grandson] Perseus could be Jove's [Zeus'] son, whom Danae conceived in that gold shower. Yet ere long (so sure the power of truth) Acrisius repented of his . . . rejection of his grandson's claim."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 697 ff :
"Perseus, the son of Jove [Zeus] and her whom, in her prison, Juppiter's [Zeus'] golden shower made fertile."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 113 ff :
"In a golden shower [Zeus] fooled Danae."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 117 ff :
"When he [Midas of the golden-touch] but rinsed his hands in running water the water might have cheated Danae."

For MORE information on this woman see DANAE


Zeus as Satyr and Antiope | Greco-Roman mosaic from Zeugma | Gaziantep Museum, Turkey
Zeus as Satyr and Antiope, Greco-Roman mosaic, Gaziantep Museum

LOCALE : Mount Kithairon, Boiotia (Central Greece)

Homer, Odyssey 11. 260 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Odysseus in the Underworld:] I saw [the shade of] Antiope, the daughter of Asopos; it was her pride to have slept in the arms of Zeus himself. She bore two sons, Amphion and Zethos, primal founders of Thebes of the seven gates; they added walls to the spacious city because without them they could not hold it as their dwelling."

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 95 (from Scholiast on Homer's Iliad 2. 469) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Or like her (Antiope) whom Boiotian Hyria nurtured as a maid." [N.B. Hesiod's account presumably went on to describe her liaison with Zeus.]

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 41 - 44 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Lykos the regent of Thebes] was assassinated by Zethos and Amphion for the following reason. Zeus slept with Antiope, daughter of Nykteos. Pregnant she ran away from her threatening father to Epopeos in Sikyon, who married her. His spirit broken, Nykteos commanded Lykos to punish both Epopeos and Antiope, and then took his own life. Lykos led a campaign against Sikyon, and after he had taken it and killed Epopeos, he captured Antiope and led her off. Along the way she gave birth to twin sons at Boiotian Eleutherai. They were exposed, but a herdsman found and reared them, calling one Zethos and the other Amphion. Now Zethos took up the cattle business, while Amphion pursued a career in singing, after Hermes presented him with a lyre. Lykos kept Antiope imprisoned and mistreated her, he and his wife Dirke. Her chains, however, fell loose of their own accord one day [presumably by the will of Zeus], and she made her way unnoticed to her sons' farmhouse, anxious to be taken in by them. They recognised their mother, assassinated Lykos, tied Dirke to a bull, and, when she was dead, threw her body into the spring that is called Dirke after her."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 111 :
"Nykteos and Polyxo were parents of Antiope, and Antiope and Zeus were the parents of Zethos and Amphion."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 38. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[On Mt Kithairon] is a small cave, and beside it is a spring of cold water. The legend about the cave is that Antiope after her labour placed her babies [Amphion and Zethos] into it; as to the spring, it is said that the shepherd who found the babies washed them there for the first time, taking off their swaddling clothes."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 6. 1 :
"Asios the son of Amphiptolemos says in his poem :--‘Zethos and Amphion had Antiope for their mother, daughter of Asopos, the swift, deep-eddying river, having conceived of Zeus and Epopeos, shepherd of peoples.’"

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 7 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Antiopa, daughter of Nycteus, was by a trick violated by Epaphos [Epopeos king of Sikyon], and as a consequence was cast off by her husband Lycus. Thus widowed, Jupiter [Zeus] embraced her. But Lycus married Dirce. She, suspecting that her husband had secretly lain with Antiopa, ordered her servants to keep her bound in darkness. When her time was approaching, by the will of Jove [Zeus] she escaped from her chains to Mount Cithaeron, and when birth was imminent and she sought for a place to bear her child, pain compelled her to give birth at the very crossroads. Shepherds reared her sons as their own, and called one Zetos from [the Greek] ‘Seeking a Place’, and the other Amphion, because ‘She gave birth at the crossroads, or by the road.’ When the sons found out who their mother was, they put Dirce to death by binding her to an untamed bull; by the kindness of Liber [Dionysos], whose votary she was, on Mount Cithaeron a spring was formed from her body, which was called Dirce."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 8 :
"Antiopa of Euripides (which Ennius wrote): Antiopa was the daughter of Nycteus, king in Boeotia; entranced by her great beauty, Jupiter [Zeus] made her pregnant. When her father wished to punish her on account of her disgrace, and threatened harm, Antiopa fled. By chance Epaphus [Epopeos], a Sikyonian, was staying in the place to which she came, and he brought the woman to his house and married her. Nycteus took this hard, and as he was dying, bound by oath his brother Lycus, to whom he left his kingdom, not to leave Antiopa unpunished. After his death, Lycus same to Sicyon, and slaying Epaphus [Epopeos], brought Antiopa bound to Cithaeron. She bore sons, and left them there, but a shepherd reared them, naming them Zetus and Amphion. Antiopa had been given over to Dirce, Lycus' wife, for punishment. When opportunity presented itself, she fled, and came to her sons. But Zetus, thinking her a runaway, did not accept her. Dirce, in the revels of Liber [Dionysos], was brought to the same place. There she found Antiopa and was dragging her to death. But the youths, informed by the shepherd who had reared them that she was their mother, quickly pursued and rescued their mother, but slew Dirce, binding her by the hair to a bull. When they were about to kill Lycus, Mercurius [Hermes] forbade them, and at the same time ordered Lycus to yield the kingdom to Amphion."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 155 :
"Sons of Jove [Zeus] . . . Zethus and Amphion, by Antiopa, daughter of Nycteus."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 111 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Juppiter [Zeus] once in a Satyrus' guise had got Nycteis [Antiope daughter of Nykteus] with twins."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 16. 240 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"You have heard of love's game of trickery for Antiope, the laughing Satyros, the sham of a deceitful mate."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 301 ff :
"Zeus the Ruler on High once took the shape of a Satyros, and wooed he maiden Antiope under a deceitful shape, in the mock love of a dancing bridal."

For MORE information on this woman see ANTIOPE


Leda and Zeus as swan | Greco-Roman mosaic C3rd A.D. | Cyprus Museum, Nicosia
Leda and Zeus as swan, Greco-Roman mosaic C3rd A.D., Cyprus Museum

LOCALE : Sparta, Lakedaimonia (Southern Greece)

For the MYTH of Zeus' seduction of Leda in the guise of a swan see LEDA


LOCALE : Mount Lykaios, Arkadia (Southern Greece)

Hesiod, The Astronomy Fragment 3 (from Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Catasterismi Frag 1. 2) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"The Great Bear (Arktos Megale)--Hesiod says she [Kallisto] was the daughter of Lykaon and lived in Arkadia. She chose to occupy herself with wild-beasts in the mountains together with Artemis, and, when she was seduced by Zeus, continued some time undetected by the goddess, but afterwards, when she was already with child, was seen by her bathing and so discovered. Upon this, the goddess was enraged and changed her into a beast. Thus she became a bear and gave birth to a son called Arkas. But while she was in the mountain, she was hunted by some goat-herds and given up with her babe to Lykaon. Some while after, she thought fit to go into the forbidden precinct of Zeus, not knowing the law, and being pursued by her own son and the Arkadians, was about to be killed because of the said law; but Zeus delivered her because of her connection with him and put her among the stars, giving her the name Arktos (Bear) because of the misfortune which had befallen her."

Hesiod, The Astronomy Fragment 3 (from Commentary Supplementary on Aratus 547) :
"Of Bootes also called the Bear-Warden (Arktophylakos). The story goes that he is Arkas the son of Kallisto and Zeus, and he lived in the country about Lykaion. After Zeus had seduced Kallisto, Lykaon, pretending not to know of the matter, entertained Zeus, as Hesiod says, and set before him on the table the babe which he had cut up."

Homerica, Contest of Homer and Hesiod 316 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic B.C.) :
"[Artemis] slew Kallisto with a shot of her silver bow."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 100 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Eumelos [epic poet C8th B.C.] and certain others maintain that Lykaon had a daughter named Kallisto, although Hesiod [epic poet C8th or 7th B.C.] says she was one of the Nymphai, while Asios [poet C8th or 7th B.C.] identifies her father as Nykteos, and Pherekydes [writer C6th B.C.] as Keteos. She was a hunting companion of Artemis, imitating her dress and remaining under oath a virgin for the goddess. But Zeus fell in love with her and forced her into bed, taking the likeness, some say, or Artemis, others, of Apollon. Because he wanted to escape the attention of Hera, Zeus changed Kallisto into a bear. But Hera persuaded Artemis to shoot the girl with an arrow like a wild animal. There are those who maintain, however, that Artemis shot her because she did not protect her virginity. As Kallisto died, Zeus seized his baby and handed it over to Maia to rear in Arkadia, giving it the name Arkas. Kallisto he changed into a star, which he called Arktos (the Bear)."

Callimachus, Hymn 1 to Zeus 40 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"The stream Neda [in Arkadia] . . . its primeval water do the son's son of the Bear, Lykaon's daughter, drink."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 25. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Io, the daughter of Inakhos, and Kallisto, the daughter of Lykaon, of both of whom exactly the same story is told, to wit, love of Zeus, wrath of Hera, and metamorphosis, Io becoming a cow and Kallisto a bear."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 3. 6 :
"In addition to all this male issue, Lykaon had a daughter Kallisto. This Kallisto (I repeat the current Greek legend) was loved by Zeus and mated with him. When Hera detected the intrigue she turned Kallisto into a bear, and Artemis to please Hera shot the bear. Zeus sent Hermes with orders to save the child that Kallisto bore in her womb, and Kallisto herself he turned into the constellation known as the Great Bear (Arktos Megas), which is mentioned by Homer in the return voyage of Odysseus from Kalypso :--‘Gazing at the Pleiades and late-setting Bootes, and the Bear (Arktos), which they also call the Wain (Amaxa).’ But it may be that the constellation is merely named in honor of Kallisto, since her grave is pointed out by the Arkadians."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 35. 8 :
"Descending from Krounoi [in Arkadia] for about thirty stades you come to the grave of Kallisto, a high mound of earth, whereon grow many trees, both cultivated and also those that bear no fruit. On the top of the mound is a sanctuary of Artemis, surnamed Kalliste (the Beautiful)."

Europa and Zeus as a bull | Apulian red-figure kylix C4th B.C. | Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Europa and Zeus as bull, Apulian red-figure kylix C4th B.C., Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 155 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Sons of Jove [Zeus] . . . Arcas by Callisto, daughter of Lycaon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 176 :
"Jove [Zeus] is aid to have come as guest to Lycaon, son of Pelasgus, and to have seduced his daughter Callisto. From them Arcas was born, who named the land [of Arkadia] from his own name."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 177 :
"Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, is said to have been changed into a bear by the wrath of Juno [Hera], because she had lain with Jove [Zeus]. Afterwards Jove put her among the number of the stars as a constellation called Septentrio [Ursa Major], which does not move from tis place, nor does it set. For Tethys, wife of Oceanus, and foster mother of Juno [Hera], forbids its setting in the Oceanus. This, then, is the greater Septentrio, about whom it is written in Kretan verses [in address to Arkas son of Kallisto] : ‘Thou, too, born of the transformed Lycaonian Nympha, who, stolen from the chill Arcadian height, was forbidden by Tethys ever to dip herself in the Oceanus because once she dared to be concubine to her foster child.’
This bear, then is called Helice by the Greeks. She has seven rather dim stars on her head, two on either ear, one on her shoulder, a bright one on her breast, one on her forefoot, a bright one at the tip of her tail; at the back on her thigh, two; at the bottom of her foot, two; on her tail, three - twenty in all."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 224 :
"Mortals who were made immortal . . . Arcas, son of Jove [Zeus] and Callisto, placed among the stars . . . Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, put in the constellation Septentrio."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 1 :
"[Constellation] Great Bear. Hesiod says she is named Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, who ruled in Arcadia, Out of her zeal for hunting she joined Diana [Artemis], and was greatly loved by the goddess because of their similar temperaments. Later, when made pregnant by Jove [Zeus], she feared to tell the truth to Diana [Artemis]. But she couldn't conceal it long, for as her womb grew heavier near the time of her delivery, when she was refreshing her tired body in a stream, Diana realized she had not preserved her virginity. In keeping with her deep distrust, the goddess inflicted no light punishment. Taking away her maiden features, she changed her into the form of a bear, called arktos in Greek. In this form she bore Arcas.
But as Amphis, writer of comedies [Athenian C4th B.C.], says, Jupiter [Zeus], assuming the form of Diana [Artemis], followed the girl as if to aid her in hunting, and embraced her when out of sight of the rest. Questioned by Diana as to the reason for her swollen form, she replied that it was the goddess' fault, and because of this reply, Diana changed her into the shape we mentioned above. When wandering like a wild beast in the forest, she was caught by certain Aetolians and brought into Arcadia to King Lycaon along with her son as a gift, and there, in ignorance of the law, she is said to have rushed into the temple of Jove Lycaeus [Zeus Lykaios]. Her son at once followed her, and the Arcadians in pursuit were trying to kill them [for the sacrilege], when Jupiter [Zeus], mindful of his indiscretion, rescued her and placed her and her son among the constellations. He named her Arctos (Bear), and her son Arctophylas (Bear Watcher). About him we shall speak later.
Some, too, have said that when Callisto was embraced by Jove [Zeus], Juno [Hera] in anger turned her into a bear; then, when she met Diana [Artemis] hunting, she was killed by her, and later, on being recognised, was placed among the stars.
But others say that when Jupiter [Zeus] was pursuing Callisto in the woods, Juno [Hera] suspecting what had happened, hurried there so that she could say she had caught him openly. But Jove [Zeus], the more easily to conceal his fault, left her changed to bear form. Juno, then, finding a bear instead of a girl in that place, pointed her out for Diana [Artemis], who was hunting, to kill. Jove [Zeus] was distressed to see this, and put in the sky the likeness of a bear represented with stars.
The constellation, as many have stated, does not set, and those who desire some reason for this fact say that Tethys, wife of Oceanus, refuses to receive her when the other stars come there to their setting, because Tethys was the nurse of Juno, in whose bed Callisto was a concubine.
Araethus of Tegea, however, writer of histories, says that she wasn't Callisto, but Megisto, and wasn't the daughter of Lycaon, but of Ceteus, and so granddaughter of Lycaon. He says, too, that Ceteus himself was called the [constellation] Kneeler. The other details agree with what has been said above. All this is shown to have taken place on the Arcadian mountain Nonacris."

Europa and Zeus as bull | Paestan red-figure calyx krater C4th B.C. | The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu
Europa and Zeus as bull, Paestan red-figure calyx krater C4th B.C., The J. Paul Getty Museum

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 401 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Almighty Father (pater omnipotens) [Zeus] surveyed the earth and the affairs of men. His own Arcadia was his weightiest care . . . And as he came and went, busy, there caught his eye [Kallisto] a country Nympha of Nonacris and love flared in his heart. She was no girl to spin soft skeins of wool or vary her hair-style; a buckle held her dress, a plain white band her strangling hair. She carried a light spear--sometimes a bow--Phoebe's [Artemis'] warrior; none so high as she in Trivia's [Artemis'] favour on the mountain slopes of Maenalus; but favourites soon fall.
One afternoon, the sun still riding high, she found a glade deep in the virgin woods and there unstrung her bow, took off her quiver, and lay down on the grass, the coloured case a pillow for her head. Juppiter [Zeus] saw her there, weary and unprotected and alone. ‘This prank,’ he thought, ‘my wife [Hera] will never learn, or should she, all her scolding's worth the prize.’
Taking at once Diana's [Artemis'] form, her face and dress, ‘My dear,’ he said, ‘best of my troop, which mountain coverts have you drawn?’ The girl rose from the greensward; ‘Hail, my queen,’ said she, ‘Greater than Jove [Zeus] I say though Jove should hear.’ Jove [Zeus] heard and smiled, happy that she preferred him to himself, and kissed her on the lips--no modest, maiden's kisses--checked her tale, seized her and by his outrage stood betrayed. She fought, it's true, as hard as girls can fight; (would that Saturnia [Hera] had watched, her wrath were less) she fought, but how could any girl succeed, how master Jove? Victorious, he retired to heaven above; she loathed the forest glade, the woods that knew, and, as she turned to go, nearly forgot her quiver and her bow.
And now Dictynna [Artemis] across high Maenalus progressing with her troop, proud of her kills, observed the girl and called her. At the call she shrank at first lest it were Juppiter [Zeus] again, but then she saw the Nymphae came with their queen, and feared no trap and joined their company. How hard it is for a face to hide its guilt! She scarce could raise her eyes, nor as before stayed by her goddess' side and led the train. Silent, her awkward blushes told her shame. Diana [Artemis], but for her own chaste innocence, might well have learnt by countless little signs the guilty truth; no doubt the Nymphae knew well.
Nine times the crescent moon had filled her orb, when Diana [Artemis], wearied by her brother's beams and by the chase, reached a cool shady grove, through which there flowed a babbling rivulet, whose gliding current shaped its shelving sands. Charmed by the place, the goddess dipped her feet into the stream; and that was charming too. ‘No spy is near,’ she said, ‘here let us strip and bathe.’ The poor girl Parrhasis [Kallisto] blushed; they all undressed; one lingered waiting. As she hesitates, they strip her body--and her secret--bare. Aghast, she spread her hands to hide her shape. ‘Begone!’ Cynthia [Artemis] cried, ‘you shall not stain my stream!’ and bade her quit her company.
Juno [Hera], the Thunderer's (Totantis) consort, knew the truth long since, and had deferred until due time her dire revenge, and now the time was due. Her rival bore a boy (that galled her most), Arcas; on him the goddess turned her eyes, her anger. ‘Strumpet, so it came to this, that you gave birth, and published by that birth my injury and proved my Jove's [Zeus'] disgrace. Now you shall pay! That loveliness, your joy, the grace that won my lord, I shall destroy!’ She seized her by the hair and flung her flat upon the ground. The girl held out her arms for mercy. Over those arms spread grisly fur, her nails lengthened to claws, her hands curved down to serve as feet, the lips that Jove [Zeus] so praised were hideous jaws, and, lest her prayers prevail, her power of speech was quenched; a fearful growl, angry and menacing, came from her throat. She was a bear, but kept her woman's heart; moan after moan proclaimed her misery. She raised her hands (her paws!) towards the stars and blamed, though wordless, Jove's ingratitude. How often in the lonely woods she feared to lay her head, and wandered to and fro before her home, through her familiar fields! How often, when the baying hounds gave chase, she fled across the scarps--the huntress fleeing in panic from the horror of the hunt! And many a time, forgetting what she was, hid from the creatures of the wild; a bear she shuddered to see bears on the high hills, feared wolves although her father was a wolf [Lykaon had been transformed into a wolf by Zeus].
The years rolled on; Arcas was now sixteen, his mother lost, her fate, her name unknown. One day, out hunting in the forest glades of Erymanthus, as he placed his nets, he chanced to meet her; seeing him she stopped stock still, seeming to recognize his face. He shrank away; those eyes, unmoving, fixed for ever on his own, froze the boy's heart with nameless fear, and as she moved towards him he aimed his javelin to strike her dead. the Almighty (Omnipotens) [Zeus] stayed his hand and swept away both son and mother--with the threatened crime--whirled in a wind together through the void, and set them in the sky as neighbouring stars [Ursa Major and Ursa Minor].
Juno [Hera], in fury when that concubine shone midst the stars, descended to the sea, to Tethys and old Oceanus, whom the gods greatly revere, and to their questioning replied : ‘You ask why I, Queen of the Gods (Regina Deorum), come hither from the mansions of the sky? I am dethroned; another reigns; my words are false unless, when night darkens the world, you see, new-honoured in heaven to injure me, twin constellations at the utmost pole, where earth in last and shortest circle turns. Who now would hesitate to insult Juno [Hera]? Who fear to offend me, me whose punishment proves but preferment? Such is my success? So vast my influence! She whom I forbade to be a woman, made a goddess! Thus the guilty pay! So great my sovereignty! Let him unbeast the beast, her shape restore, as Phoronides Argolica's [Io's] was, his other paramour! Why not, deposing Juno, set instead Lycaon's wanton daughter in my bed? But you who reared me, if your hearts are touched by my disgrace, debar from your green deeps that sevenfold star that at the price of shame was set in heaven, nor let that prostitute your waters' pure integrity pollute.’
The Sea-Gods (Di Mari) gave assent, and Saturnia [Hera] departed heavenwards through the cloudless air."

Ovid, Fasti 2. 155 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Callisto once belonged to the sacred circle of Hamdryades and huntress Diana [Artemis]. She touched the goddess' bow : ‘This bow I touch,’ she cried, ‘Be a witness to my virginity.’ Cynthia [Artemis] praised her, and said : ‘Keep the pledge you vowed and you will be my companions' princeps.’ She would have kept the pledge but for her prettiness. She shunned mortals, Jupiter [Zeus] made her sin. Phoebe [Artemis] returned from hunting scores of forest beasts, as the sun occupied or passed midday. When she reached the grove (a dark grove with dense ilex, around a deep fountain of cool water), she said, ‘Let's bathe here in the wood, Tegean virgin’; the other reddened at virgin's false ring. She had instructed the Nymphae too. The Nymphae undress; Callisto is shamed and suspiciously slow. She stripped off her dress. Her womb's obvious plumping betrays her with incriminating weight. The goddess said to her : ‘perjured Lycaonis, leave this virgin band, do not foul pure water.’
The moon's horns had replenished its circle ten times: the supposed virgin was now a mother. Wounded Juno [Hera] rages, and changes the girl's shape. Why do this? She was Jove's [Zeus'] unwilling victim. When she sees her rival with a beast's hideous face, Juno snarls, ‘Go, sleep with that, Jupiter [Zeus]!’ A shaggy bear loped across the scrubby hillsides, who recently was loved by supreme Jove. The bastard boy whom she conceived was no fifteen, when the mother and son came face to face. Indeed she halted, as if she knew him, frantic, and growled. The growl was her parental speech. The ignorant lad would have bedded his honed spike in her, but both were whisked to homes above. They glitter as adjacent stars : the one called Arctos (Bear) leads; Arctophylax (Bear Watcher) seems to follow behind. Saturnia [Hera] still fumes and asks white Tethys' waters not to bathe or touch Maenalian Arctos."

For MORE information on this woman see KALLISTO


LOCALE : Aegion, Akhaia (Southern Greece)

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 1. 15 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"There are traditions in Akhaia that even Zeus himself took on the appearance of a pigeon (piresteros) when he fell in love with a girl called Phthia. This Phthia lived in Aegion."





A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.