Greek Mythology >> Greek Gods >> Sea Gods >> Deified Mortals >> Leucothea (Leukothea)


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Leucothea and Palaemon | Greco-Roman mosaic C4th A.D. | Villa Romana del Casale (in situ), Piazza Amerina
Leucothea and Palaemon, Greco-Roman mosaic C4th A.D., Villa Romana del Casale

LEUKOTHEA (Leucothea) was a sea goddess who came to the aid of sailors in distress.

She was once a mortal princess named Ino, a daughter of King Kadmos (Cadmus) of Thebes. She and her husband Athamas incurred the wrath of Hera when they fostered the infant god Dionysos. As punishment the goddess drove Athamas into a murderous rage and he slew his eldest child. Ino then grapped the other, and in her flight leapt off a cliff into the sea. The pair were welcomed into the company of the sea-gods and renamed Leukothea (the White Goddess) and Palaimon (Palaemon).

Leukothea later came to the aid of Odysseus when his raft had been destroyed by Poseidon, and wrapped him in the safety of her buoyant shawl.

The Romans identified her with the goddess Mater Matuta.



[1.1] KADMOS (Homer Odyssey 5.333, Orphic Hymn 74)
[1.2] KADMOS & HARMONIA (Pindar Olympian Ode 2, Pindar Pythian Ode 11, Apollodorus 3.25, Pausanias 9.5.2, Hyginus Fabulae 1, Nonnus Dionysiaca 5.556)


[1.1] LEARKHOS & MELIKERTES (by Athamas) (Apollodorus 1.80 & 3.28, Hyginus Fabulae 1 & 239, Nonnus Dionysiaca 5.556)
[1.2] MELIKERTES (Pausanias 1.44.7, Philostratus Elder 2.16, Virgil Georgics 1.432, Cicero De Natura Deorum 3.15)


INO (Inô), a daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, and the wife of Athamas, who married her in addition to his proper wife Nephele, but according to some, not till after the death of Nephele. After her death and apotheosis, Ino was called Leucothea. The common story about her is related under Athamas [not included here]; but there are great variations in the traditions respecting her, which probably arose from the fact of the story having been made great use of by the Greek poets, especially the dramatists, among whose lost tragedies we find the titles of Athamas, Ino, and Phrixus. It here remains for us to mention the principal traditions about the latter period of her life and her apotheosis. After the supposed death of Ino, and after his flight from Boeotia, Athamas married Themisto; but when he was informed that Ino was still living as a Bacchant in the valleys of Mount Parnassus, he secretly sent for her. Themisto, on hearing this, resolved to kill the children of Ino. With this object in view, she ordered one of her slaves at night to cover her own children with white, and those of Ino with black garments, that she might know the devoted children, and distinguish them from her own. But the slave who received this command was Ino herself in disguise, who changed the garments in such a manner as to lead Themisto to kill her own children. When Themisto discovered the mistake, she hung herself. (Hygin. Fab. 1 - 5.) Other traditions state that Athamas, when Hera visited him and Ino with madness for having brought up Dionysus, killed Learchus, one of his sons by Ino, and when he was on the point of killing also the other, Melicertes, Ino fled with him across the white plain in Megaris, and threw herself with the boy (or, according to Eurip. Med. 1289, with her two sons) into the sea. Melicertes is stated in some traditions to have previously died in a cauldron filled with boiling water. (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1543; Plut. Sympos. v. 3; Ov. Met. iv. 505, 520, &c.; Tzetz, ad Lycoph. 229.) According to Plutarch (Quaest. Rom. 13), Ino killed her own son, as she had become mad from jealousy of an Aetolian slave, of the name of Antiphera, and Plutarch recognized an allusion to that story in a ceremony observed at Rome in the temple of Matuta, who was identified with Leucothea; for no female slave was allowed to enter the temple of Matuta at her festival, with the exception of one, who received a box on the ears from the matrons that were present. Hyginus (Fab. 2; comp. Paus. ii. 44. § 11) states, that Athamas surrendered Ino and her son Melicertes to Phrixus to be killed, because she herself had attempted to kill Phrixus. But when Phrixus was on the point of committing the crime, Dionysus enveloped him in darkness and thus saved Ino. Athamas, who was thrown by Zeus into a state of madness, killed Learchus ; and Ino, who leaped into the sea, was raised to the rank of a divinity, by the desire of Dionysus. Others relate that Leucothea placed Dionysus with herself among the gods. (Plut. de Frat. Am. in fin.) After her leap into the sea, Leucothea was carried by a dolphin to the coast of Corinth, which was governed by Sisyphus, a brother of Athamas, who instituted the Isthmian games and an annual sacairfice in honour of the the. (Tzetz,. ad Lycoph. 107; comp. 229; Schol. ad Pind. Hypoth. Isthm. p. 514, ed. Boeckh.) According to a Megarian tradition, the body of Ino was washed on the coast of Megara, where she was found and buried by two virgins; and it is further said that there she received the name of Leucothea. (Paus. i. 42. § 8.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


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Of the Ionian Sea

Sea Queen

Malt (for brewing)



Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 25 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) had as daughters [by Harmonia] Autonoe, Ino, Semele, and Aguae (Agave), and one son Polydoros."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 5. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) made a brilliant marriage, if, as the Greek legend says, he indeed took to wife a daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. His daughters too have made him a name; Semele was famed for having a child by Zeus, Ino for being a divinity of the sea."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 88 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Soon Harmonia yoked by the cestus-girdle that guides wedded desire, carried in her womb the seed of many children whom she brought froth soon one by one: turn by turn she was delivered of her teeming burden by the birth of daughters, after four times nine circuits had been fulfilled . . . Then [second] came Ino to be her sister, the beautiful consort of Athamas who bore him two children."


Homer, Odyssey 5. 333 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Kadmos' (Cadmus') daughter, slender-ankled Ino who is also Leukothea (Leucothea); once she had been a mortal and spoken with human voice, but now she lives in the salt seas and the gods give her the honour that is her due."

Pindar, Olympian Ode 2. 22 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Such is the tale told of the fair-throned maids of Kadmos (Cadmus), who suffered mightily, but heavy woe falls before greater good . . . The tale runs too, that in the ocean with the sea-maidens, Nereus' daughters [the Nereides], Ino was given undying life forever."

Aeschylus, Athamas (lost play) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
Aeschylus' lost play Athamas told the story of the madness of Athamas and the flight of Ino with her son Melikertes.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 80 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Athamas, lord of Boiotia (Boeotia), sired by Nephele a son Phrixos and a daughter Helle. Then he took a second wife, Ino, by whom he had Learkhos (Learchus) and Melikertes (Melicertes)."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 28 :
"Zeus . . . gave birth to Dionysos, whom he entrusted to Hermes. Hermes took him to Ino and Athamas, and persuaded them to bring him up as a girl. Incensed, Hera inflicted madness on them, so that Athamas stalked and slew his elder son Learkhos (Learchus) on the conviction that he was a dear, while Ino threw Melikertes (Melicertes) into a basin of boiling water, and then, carrying both the basin and the corpse of the boy, she jumped to the bottom of the sea. Now she is called Leukothea (Leucothea), and her son is Palaimon (Palaemon): these names they receive from those who sail, for they help sailors beset by storms."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 44. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"There are legends about these rocks [the Molourian (Molurian) Rocks on the coast of Megara] . . . it is said that from it Ino flung herself into the sea with Melikertes (Melicertes), the younger of his children . . . Then it was that she fled to the sea and cast herself and her son from the Molourian Rock . . . The Molourian Rock they though sacred to Leukothea (Leucothea) and Palaimon (Palaemon)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 34. 4 :
"On this road [under Mount Mathia in Messenia] is a place on the coast regarded as sacred to Ino. For they say that she came up from the sea at this point, after her divinity had been accepted and her name changed from Ino to Leukothea (Leucothea)."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 16 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"Ino throwing herself from the land for her part becomes Leukothea (Leucothea) and one of the band of the Nereides, while as for the child, the earth will claim the infant Palaimon (Palaemon)."

Callistratus, Descriptions 14 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C4th A.D.) :
"[A description of an ancient Greek painting :] There was a figure on the Skythian (Scythian) shores, not yet up for display but fashioned not inelegantly for a contest of beauty in painting. It represented Athamas goaded on by madness. He was shown as naked, his hair reddened with blood and its locks flying in the wind, his eye distraught, himself filled with consternation; and he was armed not by madness alone for a rash deed, nor did he rage merely with the soul-consuming fears which the Erinyes (Furies) send; nay, he even held a sword out in front of him, like a man making a sally . . .
Ino too was present, in a state of terror, trembling slightly, her face place and corpse-like though fright; and she embraced her infant child [Melikertes (Melicertes)] and held her breast to its lips, letting the nurturing drops fall on the nursling. The figure of Ino was hastening towards the promontory of Skeiron (Sciron) and the sea at the foot of the mountain, and the breakers that were wont to surge in billows were spreading out in a hollow to receive her, and something of Zephyros (the West Wind) pervaded the waters as he with shrill blast lulled the sea to rest. For in truth the wax beguiled the sense into thinking that it could fashion a breeze and cause the sea winds to rise and could apply the art of imitation to nature's works. And sea-dolphins were sporting near by, coursing through the waves in the painting, and the wax seemed to be tossed by the wind and to become wet in imitation of the sea, assuming the sea's own qualities.
Moreover, at the outer edges of the painting an Amphitrite rose from the depths, a creature of savage and terrifying aspect who flashed from her eyes a bright radiance. And round about her stood Nereides; these were dainty and bright to look upon, distilling love's desire from their eyes; and circling in their dance over crests of the sea's waves, they amazed the spectator. About them flowed Okeanos (Oceanus), the motion of his stream being well-nigh like the billows of the sea."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 1 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Athamas, son of Aeolus, had by his wife Nebula [Nephele], a son Phrixus and a daughter Helle . . . and by Ino, daughter of Cadmus, two sons, Learchus and Melicertes."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 2 :
"Ino, daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, wishing to kill Phrixus and Helle, Nebula's [Nephele's] children, formed a plan with the women of the entire tribe, and conspired to parch the seed grain to make it unfertile, so that, when the sterility and scarcity of grain resulted, the whole state should perish, some by starvation, others by sickness. With regard to this situation Athamas sent a servant to Delphi, but Ino instructed him to bring back a false reply that the pestilence would end if he sacrificed Phrixus to Jove [Zeus]. When Athamas refused to do this, Phrixus voluntarily and readily promised that he alone would free the state from its distress. Accordingly he ws led to the altar, wearing fillets of sacrifice, but he servant, out of pity for the youth, revealed Ino's plans to Athamas. The king, thus informed of the crime, gave over his wife Ino and her son Melicertes to be put to death, but Father Liber [Dionysos] cast mist around her, and saved Ino his nurse. Later, Athamas, driven mad by Jove [Zeus], slew his son Learchus. But Ino, with Melicertes her son, threw herself into the sea. Liber [Dionysos] would have her called Leucothea, and Melicertes, her son the god Palaemon, but we call her Mater Matuta, and him Portunus. In his honor every fifth year gymnastic contests are held, which are called Isthmian."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 4 :
"Ino with the younger [son of her and Athamas], Melicertes, cast herself into the sea and was made a goddess."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 224 :
"Mortals who were made immortal . . . Ino, daughter of Cadmus, into Leucothea, whom we call Mater Matuta; Melicertes, son of Athamas, into the god Palaemon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 239 :
"Ino, daughter of Cadmus, killed her son Melicertes by Athamas, son of Aeolus, when she was fleeing from Athamas."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 243 :
"Ino, daughter of Cadmus, hurled herself into the sea with her son, Melicertes."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 416 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Bacchus' [Dionysos'] divinity was hymned through all Thebae (Thebes), and Ino everywhere told of the god's (her nephew's) mighty power. Of all the sisters she alone was spared sorrow except her sorrow for her sake. Her pride was high, pride in her children, pride in Athamas, her husband and the god, her foster-child; and this in Juno's [Hera's] sight was more than she could bear . . . [And the goddess summoned up an Erinys to drive the couple mad.]
Then raving through the palace Aeolides [Athamas] shouted ‘Here in this copse, friends, spread the nets! I've seen a lioness with her two cubs!’ And, in this madness hunting her, tracked down his wife and snatched Learchus from her arms, his little laughing son with hands outstretched, and like a slinger whirled him round and round and wildly smashed the baby's head against a granite block; and then his mother, crazed by grief or by the sprinkled poison's power, screamed madly and with streaming hair rushed out with tiny Melicerta in her arms, and shouted ‘Bacchus! Bacchus!’; at the name of Bacchus Juno [Hera] smiled, ‘Well done, the brat you fostered, to bestow a boon like that!’
A cliff hung by the shore; the bottom part was hollowed by the waves and formed a roof to shield the waters from the storms; the top stood hard and high and faced the open sea. Here Ino climbed (her madness gave her strength) and with her burden launched herself, unchecked by any thought of fear, out and away, and where she fell the waves were white with spray. But Venus [Aphrodite], pitying her grandchild's woes, so undeserved, addressed with winning words her uncle : ‘Lord of waters, whose power yields to heaven alone, great Neptunus [Poseidon], what I ask is much indeed, put pity those I love, now tossing in the vast Ionian Sea, and make them gods to join your company. I too should find some favour with the sea, for in its holy depths in days gone by from sea-foam I was formed, and still from foam I take my name in Greece.’
Her prayer was granted. Neptunus [Poseidon] removed their mortal essences, clothed them in majesty and awe, and changed features and names alike, the boy to be Palaemon, and his mother Leucothoe."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 8. 16 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Ino horror-stricken leaps into the sea, nor in her panic remembers the tiny babe [Melikertes (Melicertes)] she carries; her spouse strikes the far end of the Isthmus--baffled."

Statius, Thebaid 1. 12 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"With Palaemon in her arms his mother [Ino] quailed not to leap into the vast Ionian Sea."

Statius, Thebaid 9. 401 ff :
"So did Leucothea, not yet a Nereid, wail in Isthmus' haven, when her cold babe [Melikertes (Melicertes)] with gasping breast spewed out upon his mother the angry sea."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 556 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"After the bridals of Nephele of the earlier marriages, maiden Ino went with revels to the bridal chamber of Athamas. She bore Learkhos (Learchus) destined to woe, and Melikertes (Melicertes). She was afterwards to find a home in the sea, as cherishing nurse for the childhood of Bromios [Dionysos] : to both she gave one common breast, Palaimon (Palaemon) and Dionysos."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 59 ff :
"[Hermes delivers the infant Dionysos into the foster-care of Ino :] The god [Hermes] spoke to her [Ino] in friendly coaxing tones, and let pass a divine message from his prophetic throat : ‘Madam, receive a new son; lay in your bosom the child of Semele your sister. Not the full blaze of the lightning destroyed him in her chamber; even the sparks of the thunderbolt which killed his mother did him no harm. Let the child be kept safe in a gloomy room, and let neither the Sun's eye by day nor the Moon's eye by night see him in your roofed hall. Cover him up, that jealous resentful Hera may never see him playing, though she is said to have eyes to se a bull. Receive your sister's boy, and you shall have from Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] a reward for his nurture worthy of your pains. Happy are you among all the daughters of Kadmos (Cadmus)! for already Semele has been brought low by a fiery bolt; Autonoe shall lie under the earth with her dead son, and Kithairon (Cithaeron) will set up one tomb for both; Agaue (Agave) shall see the fate of Pentheus among the hills, and she shall touch his ashes all deceived. A soothsayer she shall be, and a banished woman, but you alone shall be proud; you shall inhabit the mighty sea and settle in Poseidon's house; in the brine like Thetis, like Galateia, your name shall be Ino of the Waters. Kithairon shall not hide you in the hollow earth, but you shall be one of the Nereides. Instead of Kadmos (Cadmus), you shall call Nereus father, with happier hopes. You shall ever live with Melikertes (Melicertes) your immortal son as Leukothea (Leucothea), holding the key of calm waters, mistress of good voyage next to Aiolos (Aeolus). The merchant seaman trusting in you shall have a fineweather voyage over the brine; he shall set up one altar for the Earthshaker and Melikertes, and do sacrifice to both together; Seabluehair shall accept Palaimon as guide for his coach of the sea.’
With these words Hermes was off into the sky unapproachable, twirling in the air the windswift soles of his shoes."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 10. 67 ff :
"[Athamas is driven mad by the goddess Hera as punishment for the fostering of Dionysos :] In the hall he [Athamas] espied little Melikertes (Melicertes) [his son] who had just been brought in, and setting a cauldron over the hearth, a steaming cauldron, he laid his son in it: the fire blazed up, the murderous cauldron bubbled with boiling water. His son called out for ‘papa!’ but none of the servants could help.
Ino his mother came in like a stormwind, and snatched him from the cauldron parboiled and half-consumed. Then she ran out bounding with wild-roaming feet swift as the wind; she traversed the dust of the White Plain, and for that reason she was named after it Leukothea (Leucothea), the White Goddess.
Athamas mad was out of the hall, stirring his knees like the wind and pursuing Ino over the hills in vain,--she was too quick for him. But when the raving husband with restless staggering foot caught her up, at that moment the unhappy woman had halted by the sea which washed her foot, moaning in plaintive tones over her crying child, while she upbraided Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] and Maia's son [Hermes] his messenger : ‘A fine reward you have given me, Flash-thunderbolt, for the care of Bakkhos (Bacchus)! See this boy, Lyaios' (Lyaeus') agemate, half burnt to death! If it please you, strike down with your merciless bolt mother and son together, the little one I nursed in one bosom with you're your divine Dionysos! Child, Necessity is a great god!--where will you flee? What mountain will receive you, now you have fled to the sea? What Kithairon (Cithaeron) will hide you in a dark hollow? What mortal man will pity you, when your father has no mercy? Either sword or water shall receive you: if needs must, better to perish in the sea than by the sword.
‘I know where this disaster came from, rolling upon your mother: I know! It is Nephele sends the Erinyes (Furies) after me, that I may die in this sea where maiden Helle fell. I have heard that Phrixos was carried through the air to the Kolkhian (Colchian) country, guiding aloft the Ram who took him off, and he still lives in a distant land. O that my son Melikertes (Melicertes) too might escape to another country, and travel the high path of the Gold-fleece Ram (krios khrysopokos)! O that Poseidon, the hospitable friend of Glaukos (Glaucus), might save you, pitying your Ino as once he pitied Phoibos [Apollon]! I fear that after the fate of unburied Learkhos (Learchus) I may see you also dead, unburied, unwept, undone, panting under the bloody knife of your father. Make haste! escape from mad Athamas, and then you will not see the father who murdered his child, murder the mother.
‘Receive me you too, O sea! I have done with earth. Receive Melikertes also with hospitable hand, O Nereus, as you received Perseus! Receive Ino, as once Danae in her gloating hutch! I have been justly punished for my impiety. As I made seedless the earth's lifegiving furrow, so Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] has made my family seedless. A kind of stepmother, I planned to mow down the bastard plants of Athamas, and Hera, the real stepmother of newly nurtured Dionysos, is angry with me.’
She spoke, and with trembling feet sprang into the sea, swiftly diving with her son. Seabluehair [Poseidon] opened his arms to receive Leukothea (Leucothea), and took her into the divine company in the deep waters. She helps ever since the seamen who lose their way, and now she is Ino of the sea, a Nereis who has charge of untumultuous calm.
So Kronides (Cronides) [Zeus] pointed her out to the mother of Lyaios [i.e. Semele the mother of Dionysos], because she owed it to Bromios that she was a goddess. Semele in her joy addressed her seafaring sister in mockery : ‘Ino, you have the sea, Semele has gained the round heavens! Give me place! I had an immortal husband in Kronides [Zeus] the plower of my field, who brought forth the fruit of my birth instead of me; but you were wedded to a mortal mate Athamas, the murderer of your family. Your son's lot is the sea, but my son will come to the house of Zeus to dwell in the sky. I will not compare heavenly Dionysos with Melikertes down in the water!’
That is how Semele the heavenly bride yelled out in mockery of her sister Ino's life who dwelt in the sea."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 40. 209 ff :
"[The Indian Queen prays for a fate like Ino's :] ‘May I dwell with the Neiades (Naiads), since Seabluehair [Poseidon] received Leukothea (Leucothea) also living and she is called one of the Nereides; and may I appear another watery Ino, no longer white, but blackfooted.’"


Homer, Odyssey 5. 333 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[As Odysseus was sailing from the island of Kalypso (Calypso) on a raft, Poseidon sent a storm to capsize the vessel :] One being saw him [Odysseus], Kadmos' (Cadmus') daughter, slender-ankled Ino who is also Leukothea (Leucothea); once she had been a mortal and spoken with human voice, but now she lives in the salt seas and the gods give her the honour that is her due. She it was who now felt compassion for Odysseus the persecuted wanderer; she flew up from the waves as a seagull might, sat on the strong-bound raft and spoke : ‘Unhappy man, why has Poseidon who shakes the earth become so monstrously angry with you? Why does he sow all these seeds of misery for you? But despite his malice he shall not destroy you utterly. Only you must do as I say--I think you do not lack understanding; strip off these clothes, leave the raft for the winds to toss, strike out with your arms and try to reach land again on the Phaiakian (Phaeacian) shore; it is there you are fated to find deliverance. And see--this is a scarf of mine, of celestial make; wind it round you above your waist, and you need fear neither death nor harm. But once you have grasped the shore with your hands, undo the scarf and throw it into the wine-dark sea again, far from the shore; and avert your eyes.’
With that, the goddess gave him the scarf; then sank once more, as a seagull might, into the billowy sea, and the dark wave covered her. Odysseus, acquainted with many perils, was distrustful now and spoke in bitterness to his ardent soul : ‘Wretch that I am! Can this divinity in her turn be laying a snare for me in her command to forsake the raft? I will not at once do what she said, because the land that she called my refuge seemed still far away when I caught a glimpse of it. No, I will do this instead--it seems the most prudent thing. As long as the planks hold together, I will stay on board and endure whatever evil comes; but when once the waves have shattered the craft piece from piece, I will take to swimming : there is nothing better I can think of.’
While he was inwardly planning thus, Poseidon the earth-shaker heaved a huge wave against him--overwhelming, hideous, with arching crest; and it struck him full . . . so the wave now scattered the raft's long planks. But Odysseus bestrode a single plank, like a man riding a horse; he stripped off the clothes Kalypso (Calypso) gave him, drew the scarf round him above his waist at once, then let himself fall downwards into the sea, striking out with his arms and striving desperately to swim . . .
Then for two nights and two days Odysseus was driven at random by swollen billows . . . [until he eventually came ashore on the island of the Phaiakes (Phaeacians)] When he had got his breath again and rallied the spirit in his breast, he undid the scarf the goddess had given him and threw it into the seaward flowing river. The swelling water carried it on downstream, and Ino hastened to catch it in her hands."

Lycophron, Alexandra 755 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"And hardly shall the frontlet of Bryne [Leukothea] save him [Odysseus] from the evil tide with torn breast and fingers wherewith he shall clutch the flesh-hooking rocks."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 7. 22 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"[The philosopher Damis speaks :] ‘I am ready to believe that Leukothea (Leucothea) did really once give her veil to Odysseus, after he had fallen out of his ship and was paddling himself over the sea with his hands. For we are reduced to just as awful and impossible a plight, when some god, as it seems to me, stretches out his hand over us, that we fall not away from all hope of salvation.’"

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 125 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When a raft had been made there, Calypso sent him [Odysseus] off with an abundance of provisions, but Neptunus shattered the raft with his waves because he had blinded his son, the Cyclops. While he was being tossed about by the waves, Leucothoe, who we call Mater Matuta, who lives forever in the sea, gave him her girdle to bind around his chest, to buoy him up. When he had done this, he swam to safety."


Pindar, Pythian Ode 11. 1 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Daughter of Kadmos (Cadmus), Semele from your high place amidst the queens of heaven, and Ino Leukothea (Leucothea), you who dwell by the immortal sea-nymphai, Nereus' daughters, come with the noble mother of Herakles (Heracles) to the shrine of Melia, to the treasure-house of golden tripods, the temple that above all others Apollon held in honour, and he named it the Ismenion, the seat of prophecy that known no lie. Daughters of Harmonia, the god now summons to assemble here that band of heroine women who dwelt within this land, that you may sing in praise of holy Themis and Pytho, and the centre-stone of earth, whose word is justice--here as evening's shadows fall."

Alcman, Fragment 50 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C7th B.C.) :
"Ino Thalassomedoisa (Queen of the Sea)."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 28 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Now she [Ino] is called Leukothea (Leucothea), and her son is Palaimon (Palaemon): these names they receive from those who sail, for they help sailors beset by storms."

Orphic Hymn 74 to Leucothea (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To Leukothea (Leucothea), Fumigation from Aromatics. I call, Leukothea, of great Kadmos (Cadmus) born, and Dionysos' nurse, who ivy leaves adorn. Hear, powerful Goddess, in the mighty deep vast-bosomed, destined thy domain to keep: in waves rejoicing, guardian of mankind; for ships from thee alone deliverance find, amidst the fury of the unstable main, when art no more avails, and strength is vain. When rushing billows with tempestuous ire overwhelm the mariner in ruin dire, thou hearest with pity touched his suppliant prayer, resolved his life to succour and to spare. Be ever present, Goddess! In distress, waft ships along with prosperous success: thy mystics through the stormy sea defend, and safe conduct them to their destined end."

Ovid, Heroides 19. 123 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"With what great waves the shores [of the Hellespontos] are beaten, and what dark clouds envelop and hide the day! It may be the loving mother [Nephele the Cloud] of Helle has come to the sea, and is lamenting in downpouring tears the drowning of her child--or is the step-dame [Ino], turned to a goddess of the waters [Leukothea], vexing the sea that is called by her step-child's hated name?"

Virgil, Georgics 1. 432 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.) :
"If at her [the moon's] fourth rising she pass through the sky clear and with undimmed horns, then all that day, and the days born of it to the month's end, shall be free from rain and wind; and the sailors, safe in port, shall pay their vows on the shore to Glaucus, and to Panopea, and to Melicerta, Ino's son."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. 585 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"This realm [the Hellespont] the father of the deep [Poseidon] himself awarded me [Helle, stepdaughter of Ino, who was also transformed into a sea-goddess], willing justly, and our gulf envies not Ino's sea [the Gulf of Corinth]."

Propertius, Elegies 2. 26 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"How I feared lest the sea perchance should take you name and mariners sailing your waters should weep for you. What vows did I then make to Neptunus [Poseidon], to Castor and his brother [the Dioskouroi (Dioscuri)], and to you, Leucothoe, a goddess now!"

Propertius, Elegies 2. 28 :
"Ino also in early life wandered over the earth: now she is invoked as Leucothoe by sailors in distress."

Seneca, Oedipus 444 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Cadmean Ino, foster-mother of shining Bacchus [Dionysos], holds the realms of the deep, encircled by bands of Nereides dancing; over the waves of the mighty deep a boy holds sway, new come, the kinsman of Bacchus, no common god, Palaemon."

Statius, Thebaid 1. 120 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[The] Isthmus scarce withstood the waves on either side. With her own hand his mother [Leukothea (Leucothea)] snatched Palaemon from the curved back of his straying dolphin steed and pressed him to her bosom."

Statius, Silvae 3. 2. 1 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"But above all others thou, Palaemon, with the goddess mother [Leukothea (Leucothea)], be favourable [on this sea-voyage], if 'tis thy desire that I [the poet Statius] should tell of thine own Thebes, and sing of Amphion, bard of Phoebus, with no unworthy quill."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 59 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"You [Ino] shall ever live with Melikertes (Melicertes) your immortal son as Leukothea (Leucothea), holding the key of calm waters, mistress of good voyage next to Aiolos (Aeolus) [god of the winds]. The merchant seaman trusting in you shall have a fineweather voyage over the brine; he shall set up one altar for the Earthshaker [Poseidon] and Melikertes, and do sacrifice to both together."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 20. 350 ff :
"Lykourgos (Lycurgus) indignant [that Dionysos had escaped him by fleeing into the sea] shouted aloud to the water--‘I wish my father [Ares] had taught me not war alone, but how to deal with the sea! . . . But since I have not learnt the work of seafaring fishers, and know nothing of the tricks of hunting in the deep with a cunning mesh of nets, you may have Leukothea's house in the watery deep, until I can dislodge both you and Melikertes (Melicertes) as they call him, another of your kin . . .
‘Ho Fishermen! Searchers of the haunts of Nereus! Spread not your nets for the denizens of the deep, but haul out Dionysos in the meshes! Let Leukothea (Leucothea) be caught along with Lyaios (Lyaeus), and let her come back to the land.’"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 21. 170 ff :
"In the Erythraian Sea [the Red Sea], the daughters of Nereus [Nereides] cherished Dionysos [driven to refuge in the sea by Lykourgos (Lycurgus)] at their table, in their halls deep down under the waves. Mermaid Ino threw off her jealousy of [her sister] Semele's bed divine, and struck up a brave hymn for winepouring Lyaios (Lyaeus) [Dionysos]. Ino the nurse of Dionysos made music; and Melikertes (Melicertes) his foster-brother ladled out nectar from the bowl, and poured the sweet cups for his agemate. So he remained in the hall deep down in the waves under the waters, and he lay sprawled among the seaweed in Thetis' bosom; he embraced never satisfied Kadmos' (Cadmus') daughter, Ino his nurse, mother of a noble son, sister of his own mother, and often he held in the loving prison of his arms Palaimon (Palaemon) his yearsmate, his foster-brother."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 43. 253 ff :
"[When Poseidon led the sea-gods into battle against Dionysos and his allies in the Indian War :] The tribes of Nereides sounded for their sire the cry of battle-triumph: unshod, half hidden in the brine, the company rushed raging to combat over the sea. Restless Ino [Leukothea (Leucothea)] speeding unarmed into strife with the Satyroi, fell again into her old madness spitting white foam from her maddened lips."


Alcman, Fragment 4a (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C7th B.C.) :
"I came to the lovely sanctuary of Leukothea (Leucothea)."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 15 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"In Greece they worship a number of deified human beings . . . Leucothea, formerly Ino, and her son Palaemon [worshipped] throughout the whole of Greece."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 19 :
"Ino is to be deemed divine, under the title Leucothea in Greece and Matuta at Rome, she is the daughter of Cadmus."

I. MEGARIS Chief City of Megaris (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 44. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"There are legends about these rocks [the Molourian (Molurian) Rocks on the coast of Megara] . . . it is said that from it Ino flung herself into the sea with Melikertes (Melicertes) . . . The Molourian Rock they though sacred to Leukothea (Leucothea) and Palaimon (Palaemon)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 42. 7 :
"On the road to the town-hall [of Megara] is the shrine of the heroine Ino, about which is a fencing of stones, and beside it grows olives. The Megarians are the only Greeks who say that the corpse of Ino was cast up on their coast, that Kleos (Cleos) and Tauropolis, the daughters of Kleson (Cleson), son of Lelex, found and buried it, and they say that among them first was she nnamed Leukothea (Leucothea), and that every year they offer her sacrifice."

II. CORINTH (KORINTHOS) Chief City of Corinthia (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 2. 1 :
"Within the enclosure [of Poseidon at Korinthos (Corinth)] is on the left a temple of Palaimon (Palaemon), with images in it of Poseidon, Leukothea (Leucothea) and Palaimon (Palaemon) himself."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 3. 4 :
"After the image of Hermes [on the road from Korinthos (Corinth) to its port of Lekhaion (Lechaeum)] come Poseidon, Leukothea (Leucothea), and Palaimon (Palaemon) on a dolphin."

Statius, Silvae 2. 2. 34 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"The lofty height of Bacchic Ephyre [Corinth], is the covered way that leads from Lechaeum, of Ino's fame."
[N.B. Lechaeum was the Corinthian port connected with teh cult of Ino and Palaimon.]

III. LACONIA (LAKONIA) Region (Southern Greece)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 23. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"About two stades to the right [of Epidauros Limera in Lakedaimonia (Lacedaemonia)] is the water of Ino, as it is called, in extent like a small lake, but going deeper into the earth. Into this water they throw cakes of barley meal at the festival of Ino. If good luck is portended to the thrower, the water keeps them under. But if it brings them to the surface, it is judged a bad sign."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 26. 1 :
"On [the road from Oitylos (Oetylus) to Thalamai (Thalamae) in Lakonia] is a sanctuary of Ino and an oracle. They consult the oracle in sleep, and the goddess reveals whatever they wish to learn, in dreams. Bronze statues of Pasiphae and of Helios (the Sun) stand in the unroofed part of the sanctuary [of Ino at Thalamai]. It was not possible to see the one within the temple clearly, owing to the garlands, but they say this too is of bronze. Water, sweet to drink, flows from a sacred spring. Pasiphae is a title of Selene, and is not a local goddess of the people of Thalamai (Thalamae)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 19. 3 - 5 :
"On the altar [of Apollon at Amyklai (Amyclae) in Lakonia] are wrought in relief . . . Zeus and Hermes are conversing; near stand Dionysos and Semele, with Ino by her side."

Lycophron, Alexandra 105 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"On the beach she [Helene in Sparta] burns the firstling of the flocks to the Thysad Nympha and the goddess Byne [Leukothea (Leucothea)]."

IV. COLCHIS (KOLKHIS) Region (Black Sea)

Strabo, Geography 11. 2. 17 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Above the aforesaid rivers [the Phasis] in the Moskhian (Moschian) country [Kolkhis (Colchis), at the Eastern end of the Black Sea] lies the temple of Leukothea (Leucothea), founded by Phrixos (Phrixus) [her step-son], and the oracle of Phrixos, where a ram is never sacrificed; it was once rich, but it was robbed in our time by Pharnakes (Pharnaces), and a little later by Mithridates of Pergamon."

V. TYRRHENIA Region (Central Italy)

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 1. 20 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Dionysios [Sicilian tyrant, ca. 430-367 B.C.] stole objects from all the temples of Syrakousa (Syracuse) . . . He [also] sailed to Tyrrhenia [Etruria] and stole all the property of Apollon and Leukothea (Leucothea)."





Other references not currently quoted here: Plutarch Roman Questions 13, Tzetzes on Lycophron.


A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.