Castor and Pollux are twin half-brothers. They share the same mother but different fathers. Castor’s father was the mortal Spartan king, Tyndareus, and Pollux’s father was the Greek god of the skies, Zeus.
With two different fathers, they shared the same mortal mother: Leda.
Who is Leda?
Leda was a princess of the region in Greece called Aetolia. She was a mortal princess whose father was the King of Aetolia named Thestius. Leda would come to marry the King of Sparta, Tyndareus, and have many children with him, including Castor and Helen of Troy.
Leda, Zeus, and Tyndareus
One night, Zeus disguised himself as a swan in need of rescuing from an eagle that was trying to attack him. Leda rescued the swan and was unknowingly impregnated by him. That night, Leda returned home and was also impregnated by her husband, Tyndareus. From these two fathers, Castor and Pollux are born as twin brothers.
Castor and Pollux: Gemini Twins
Castor and Pollux often participated in many Greek myths, including accompanying Jason and the Argonauts, as well as the rescue of Helen from Theseus.
In Jason’s quest with the Argonauts to find the Golden Fleece, Castor and Pollux accompanied them. Pollux defeated King Amycus in a boxing contest while on his voyage with Jason and the Argonauts. Upon arriving in Iolcus, Castor and Pollux help Jason and Peleus destroy the city after King Pelias had ordered Jason to find the Golden Fleece.
Another legendary myth that Castor and Pollux make an appearance is the story of Helen’s abduction. Helen was abducted by Theseus, a king, and founder of Athens. His kingdom was known as Attica, which is where he took Helen. After Castor and Pollux rescued Helen, they returned the favor to Theseus by abducting his mother, Aethra, and taking her back with them to Sparta. In Sparta, Aethra was forced to act as Helen’s slave, until the fall of Troy after the Trojan War when she was returned to Athens.
Castor and Pollux are Inseparable
Though they had different fathers, Castor and Pollux were inseparable twins. They looked out for one another up until the very end.
Castor and Pollux wanted to marry Phoebe and Hilaeira. Phoebe and Hilaeira were already promised to marry cousins of Castor and Pollux. Therefore, Castor and Pollux took the women back to Sparta, and each couple had a son; Castor and Hilaeira had Anogon, and Pollux and Phoebe had Mnesileos. Because of this, Castor and Pollux would ensure a great feud with their cousins.
After their cousins eat all the meat from their cattle by tricking Castor and Pollux, the twins decided to take revenge. Castor and Pollux set out for their cousins’ cattle. When they reached the cattle, Castor climbed a tree while Pollux freed the cattle.
The infuriated cousin, Idas, quickly spotted Castor in the tree. Castor yelled out and warned his twin brother that Idas was nearby before being fatally shot. In the meantime, Pollux was able to kill the other cousin, Lynceus.
Once Lynceus had died, Idas ensued his attack on Pollux. Pollux was being overtaken by Idas and about to die when Zeus intervened. Zeus could not sit back and watch his son die, so he threw a thunderbolt at Idas, striking him dead.
Pollux quickly returned to where Castor lay when Zeus appeared and gave Pollux a choice. Zeus would grant Pollux a place to stay on Mount Olympus, or Pollux could give half of his immortality to Castor. As Pollux and Castor were inseparable, Pollux couldn’t imagine living his life without his twin, so he chose to give Castor half of his immortality. Because of this, Zeus granted Castor and Pollux a place in the skies in the constellation Gemini where they will remain together for eternity.