Greek Mythology >> Greek Gods >> Rustic Gods >> River Gods >> Peneus (Peneios)


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River Peneus

PENEIOS (Peneus) was a River-God of Thessalia (Thessaly) in northern Greece.

The Peneios is the main river of the Thessalian plain, flowing down from the Pindaros Mountains, to enter the Aegean Sea via the Vale of Tempe, cutting a path between the Mount Olympos and Ossa. The most important neighbouring rivers were the Baphyras to the north, and the Anauros and Sperkheios (Spercheus) to the south. Several of its tributories were also personified, such as the Enipeus, Titaressos, and Apidanos.



[1.1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Hesiod Theogony 343, Diodorus Siculus 4.69.1)
[1.2] OKEANOS (Pythian Odes 9 ep1)


[1.1] HYPSEUS (by Kreouse) (Pythian Odes 9 ep1)
[1.2] HYPSEUS, STILBE (by Kreouse) (Diodorus Siculus 4.69.1)
[2.1] THE THESSALIDES (Callimachus Hymn to Delos)
[3.1] ANDREUS (Pausanias 9.34.6)
[4.1] KYRENE (Hyginus Fabulae 161, Virgil Georgics 4.320)
[5.1] DAPHNE (Hyginus Fabulae 203, Ovid Metamorphoses 1.452)
[6.1] MENIPPE (Dionysius Halicarnassus 1.28)


PENEIUS (Pêneios), also called Peneus, a Thessalian river god, and a son of Oceanus and Tethys. (Hes. Theog. 343; Hom. Il. ii. 757; Ov. Met. i. 568, &c.) By the Naiad Creusa he became the father of Hypseus, Stilbe, and Daphne. (Diod. i. 69; Ov. Am. iii. 6. 31; Hygin. Fab. 203 ; Serv. ad Aen. i. 93; Ov. Met. iv. 452; Pind. Pyth. ix. 26, where the Scholiast, instead of Creusa, mentions Phillyra, the daughter of Asopus.) Cyrene also is called by some his wife, and by others his daughter, and hence Peneius is called the genitor of Aristaeus. (Hygin. Fab. 161; Virg. Georg. iv. 355.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Homer, Iliad 2. 751 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Lovely Titaressos, who into Peneios (Peneus) casts his bright current: yet he is not mixed with the silver whirls of Peneios, but like oil is floated along the surface above him: since he is broken from the water of Styx, the fearful oath-river."

Hesiod, Theogony 337 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Tethys bore to Okeanos (Oceanus) the swirling Potamoi (Rivers) . . . Hermos (Hermus) and Peneios (Peneus), and Kaikos (Caecus) strongly flowing [in a long list of rivers]."

Pindar, Pythian Ode 9. 13 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"He [Hypseus] was the king of the proud Lapithai (Lapiths), a hero of the seed of the great god Okeanos (Oceanus), child of the second generation, whom in the famous dells of Pindos once the Nymphe, daughter of Gaia (Gaea, Earth), Kreusa (Creusa) bore, sharing the joys of love with the river-god Peneios (Peneus)."

Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 104 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"[The Rivers and Springs flee at the approach of the pregnant goddess Leto, fearing the wrath of Hera should they offer refuge :] She turned her feet back to Thessalia (Thessaly). And Anauros fled and great Larisa and the cliffs of Kheiron (Chiron); fled, too, Peneios (Peneus), coiling through Tempe. But thy heart, Hera, was even then still pitiless and thou wert not broken down nor didst have compassion, when she [Leto] stretched forth both her arms and spake in vain : ‘Ye Nymphai Thessalides (Thessalian Nymphs), offspring of a River [Peneios], tell your sire to hush his great stream. Entwine your hands about his beard and entreat him that the children of Zeus be born in his waters. Phthiotian Peneios, why dost thou now vie with the winds? O sire, thou dost not bestride a racing horse. Are they feet always thus swift, or are they swift only for me, and hast thou today been suddenly made to fly?’
But he heard her not. ‘O burden mine, whither shall I carry thee? The hapless sinews of my feet are outworn. O Pelion, bridal chamber of Philyra, do thou stay, O stay, since on thy hills even the wild lionesses oftentimes lay down their travail of untimely birth.’
Then shedding tears, Peneios answered her : ‘Leto, Ananke (Necessity) is a great goddess. It is not I who refuse, O Lady, they travail; for I know of others who have washed the soilure of birth in me--but Hera hath largely threatened me. Behold what manner of watcher keeps vigil on the mountain top, who would lightly drag me forth from the depths. What shall I devise? Or is it a pleasant thing to thee that Peneios should perish? Let my destined day take its course. I will endure for thy sake, even if I must wander evermore with ebbing flood and thirsty, and alone be called of least honour among Rivers. Here am I! What needeth more? Do thou but call upon Eileithyia.’
He spake and stayed his great stream. But Ares was about to lift the peaks of Pangaion (Pangaeum) from their base and hurl them in his eddying waters and hide his streams. And from on high he made a din as of thunder and smote his shield with the point of his spear, and it rang with a warlike noise. And the hills of Ossa trembled and the plain of Krannon (Crannon), and the windswept skirts of Pindos, and all Thessalia (Thessaly) danced for fear: such echoing din rang from his shield . . . But Peneios retired not back, but abode his ground, steadfast even as before, and stayed his swift-eddying streams, until the daughter of Koios (Coeus) [Leto] called to him : ‘Save thyself, farewell! Save thyself; do not for my sake suffer evil for this thy compassion; thy favour shall be rewarded.’"

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 69. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"To Okeanos (Oceanus) and Tethys, so the myths relate, were born a number of sons who gave their names to Rivers, and among them was Peneios (Peneus), from whom the river Peneios in Thessalia (Thessaly) later got its name. He lay with the Nymphe named Kreusa (Creusa) and begat as children Hypseus and Stilbe, and with the latter Apollon lay and begat Lapithes and Kentauros (Centaurus)."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 72. 1 :
"According to the myths there were born to Okeanos (Oceanus) and Tethys a number of children who gave their names to Rivers (Potamoi), and among their number were Peneios (Peneus) and Asopos. Now Peneios made his home in what is now Thessalia (Thessaly) and called after himself the River which bears his name."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 34. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Andreus, son of the river Peneios (Peneus), was the first to settle here [i.e. Orkhomenos (Orchomenus)]."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 14 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[Ostensibly a description of an ancient Greek painting at Neapolis (Naples) :] The Thessalians in early times were not permitted by the Peneios (Peneus) to have any land at all, since mountains encompassed the level spaces, which the stream continually flooded because it had as yet no outlet. Therefore Poseidon will break through the mountains with his trident and open a gateway for the River [i.e. the Vale of Tempe.] . . . The River also rejoices as one exulting; and, keeping the usual posture of resting on his elbow (since it is not customary for a river to stand erect), he takes up the river Titaresios as being light water and better to drink and promises Poseidon that he will flow out in the course he had made. Thettalia [Thessaly personified] emerges, the water already subsiding; she wears tresses of olive and grain and grasps a colt that emerges along with her."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 203 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Apollo was pursuing the virgin Daphne, daughter of the river Peneus."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 478 & 544 & 568 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Many would woo her [Daphne]; she, rejecting them all, manless, aloof, ranged the untrodden woods nor cared what love, what marriage rites might mean. Often her father [Peneios (Peneus)] said, ‘My dearest daughter, it is my due to have a son-in-law.' Often her father said, `It is my due, child of my heart, to be given grandchildren.’ She hated like a crime the bond of wedlock and, bashful blushes tingeing her fair cheeks, with coaxing arms embraced him and replied : ‘My dear, dear father grant I may enjoy virginity for ever; this Diana [Artemis] was granted by her father.’ He, indeed, yielded . . .
[But the god Apollon fell in love with Daphne and pursued her through Thessalia (Thessaly) :] So ran the god and girl, he sped by hope and she by fear. But he, borne on the wings of love, ran faster, gave her no respite, hot on her flying heels and breathing close upon her shoulders and her tumbling hair. Her strength was gone; the travail of her flight vanquished her, and her face was deathly pale. And then she was at the river, swift Peneus, and called : ‘Help, father, help! If mystic power dwells in your waters, change me and destroy my baleful beauty that has pleased too well.’ Scarce had she made her prayer when through her limbs a dragging languor spread, her tender bosom was wrapped in thin smooth bark, her slender arms were changed to branches and her hair to leaves; her feet but now so swift were anchored fast in numb stiff roots, her face and had became the crown of a green tree; all that remained of Daphne was her shining loveliness . . .
There is a vale in Haemonia [i.e. Thessalia], enclosed with hanging forests, steep on every side; men name it Tempe. Here Peneus rolls at towering Pindus; foot his foaming course, and from his mighty fall the swirling clouds of mist drift down in rain upon the trees, and far the waters' wearying roar resounds. Here is the home, the mansion, the retreat of that majestic Amnis (River) [Potamos]; seated here within a rock-hewn cavern he dispensed justice to all his waters and their Nymphae (Nymphs). Hither assemble first the neighbouring streams, restless Enipeus, old Apidanus, Spercheus poplar-fringed, gently Amphrysos and Aeas, doubtful whether to console Daphne's fond parent or congratulate. Soon other rivers come, whose course's flow where'er their currents drive and lead at last their wandering waters weary to the sea."





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