Pallas [pal'las], "maiden."
She was the daughter of Triton (not the sea god) and a friend of
Athena, with whom she practiced fighting. Once while sparring, they
became angry with each other; as Pallas was about to hit Athena,
Zeus sent down his aegis to protect his daughter. Pallas was startled
and Athena took advantage of Pallas' momentary lapse to strike and
kill her. Athena regretted taking the life of her friend, so she
constructed a wooden statue of Pallas and placed her aegis on it.
This statue was the Palladium, which protected Troy until the Greeks
removed it from the city (Apollodorus 3.12.3, Epitome 5.10;
Sack of Ilium 2).
This son of Hermes and god of nature and shepherds is depicted as
part goat and part man. He is often associated with Dionysus. His
ability to inspire terror with a shout or sudden noise gave rise
to the word panic, which is based on his name. He fell in
love with Syrinx, a nymph; she ran from him and was turned into
a bed of reeds. The sound of the wind blowing through these reeds
inspired Pan to pluck two of them and join them together with wax.
This instrument is known as the panpipe, which is called syrinx
in Greek (Homeric Hymn to Pan 19; Ovid, Metamorphoses
Pandora [pan-dor'a], "all gifts."
She was a beautiful woman (perhaps the first woman) created by the
gods to punish humankind. Hephaestus fashioned her out of clay,
Athena clothed her, the Graces adorned her with jewelry, the Seasons
crowned her with flowers, and Hermes taught her to tell falsehoods.
She was given to Epimetheus, who accepted her, because he momentarily
forgot Prometheus' command never to take a gift from the gods. She
opened a box or jar that the gods had given her and from this container
escaped all the ills and troubles that plague humans (Hesiod, Theogony
570-612, Works and Days 47-105; Hyginus, Fabulae 142).
Paris, "leather bag," (also called Alexander or Alexandros).
The son of Priam, king of Troy, and Hecuba was exposed on Mount
Ida at birth because Hecuba had dreamed she gave birth to a torch
that consumed the city of Troy. Suckled by a bear until he was discovered
by a shepherd, he grew up to be the handsomest man alive (Apollodorus
3.12.5). When Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite argued over which was
the most beautiful, Hermes, at the command of Zeus, brought the
three contestants to Paris: Hera promised him political power if
he chose her, Athena pledged him success in battle, and Aphrodite
promised Helen. Paris chose Aphrodite (Homer, Iliad 24.25-30;
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.1-2; Hyginus, Fabulae 92).
Paris was reunited with his parents and he went to Sparta to pick
up Helen. Most versions of the story say Aphrodite caused Helen
to fall in love with Paris and to go willingly with him, other accounts
say he had to use force to take her back to Troy. He was not the
bravest or most industrious soldier in the Trojan War, though he
killed Achilles (Apollodorus, Epitome 5.5). He was killed
by Philoctetes (Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8). Family
The daughter of Helius and Perse, she married Minos and then fell
in love with the bull that Poseidon had given her husband. Daedalus
constructed a hollow wooden cow in which PasiphaŽ was able to copulate
with the bull; her offspring with the bull was the Minotaur. Because
PasiphaŽ grew tired of her husband's many love affairs, she bewitched
him, with the result that he ejaculated poisonous serpents (Apollodorus
3.15.1, 3.15.8). Family Tree
Patroclus [pa-tro'klus] or Patroklos, "glory of the father."
The best friend of Achilles, he donned Achilles' armor and entered
the battle at Troy to make the Trojans think Achilles had reentered
the war. He had promised Achilles to return after frightening the
Trojans into retreat; when the Trojans fled and the Greeks fought
with newfound strength, Patroclus forgot his promise and pursued
the Trojans, killing many of them, including Sarpedon. Hector discovered
it was not Achilles, but Patroclus in Achilles' armor, who was causing
the rout of his men; he killed Patroclus and stripped him of Achilles'
armor (Homer, Iliad 11.599-848, 15.390-404, 16.1-18.355,
19.23-39, 23.62-107; Apollodorus 3.13.8).
Pegasus [peg'a-sus] or Pegasos, "of the springs."
This winged horse sprang from Medusa when Perseus beheaded her;
he had been fathered by Poseidon. Bellerophon tamed him with a bridle
provided by Athena. He helped Bellerophon kill the Chimaera, but
when the hero tried to ride him up to Olympus, Pegasus threw him
off. Pegasus continued on up to heaven, where he lived with the
gods and eventually became the constellation that is still known
by his name (Hesiod, Theogony 319-325; Pindar, Olympian
Odes 13.60-91, Isthmian Odes 7.43-47; Apollodorus 2.3.1-2;
Hyginus, Fabulae 57, Poetica Astronomica 2.1). Family
Peleus [pee'le-us], "muddy."
This son of Aeacus and father of Achilles left his homeland, Aegina,
after killing his half brother Phocus. He went to King Eurytion
of Phthia in Thessaly for purification. He accidentally killed Eurytion
during the Calydonian boar hunt and went to King Acastus of Iolcus,
who purified him. But when Astydamia, Acastus' wife, falsely accused
him of trying to seduce her, Acastus took him hunting on Mount Pelion,
buried his sword in a dung heap, and left him there asleep. Peleus
awoke surrounded by wild beasts and centaurs; Chiron protected him
and returned his sword, a gift from Hephaestus that made him invincible.
Thetis was given to him as his wife. Eris, who was not invited to
the wedding, threw the apple that led to the Judgment of Paris and
ultimately the Trojan War. Peleus and Thetis settled in Phthia,
where Peleus became the leader of the Myrmidons, who had left Aegina.
Thetis and Peleus became the parents of Achilles (Apollodorus 3.12.6-3.13.5).
Family Tree 8.
Pelias [pel'i-as], "black and blue."
He usurped the throne of Iolcus from Aeson, the father of Jason,
and refused to turn the rulership over to Jason, as Pelias had promised
he would when Jason returned with the Golden Fleece (Apollonius
Rhodius, Argonautica 1.5-16; Apollodorus 1.9.16; Hyginus,
Fabulae 12, 13). Medea arranged his death by showing his
daughters how she was able to rejuvenate an aged ram by butchering
it and boiling the parts in a cauldron with magic herbs. She then
promised to help the girls rejuvenate their father in the same way
if they would first kill him and cut him into pieces, but when the
girls put the pieces of their father's body into the boiling water,
Medea refused to add the magic herbs (Apollodorus 1.9.27; Ovid,
Metamorphoses 7.238-349; Hyginus, Fabulae 24). Family
Pelopia [pe-loh-pee'a], "dark-hued face."
She was the daughter of Thyestes. When she was a young woman, Thyestes
raped her without realizing she was his daughter and she gave birth
to Aegisthus. Later, when she discovered she had been raped by her
father, she killed herself (Apollodorus, Epitome 2.10-15;
Hyginus, Fabulae 87, 88). Family
Pelops [pee'lops], "dark-hued face."
This son of Tantalus came to Greece to seek the hand of Hippodamia,
daughter of OenomaŁs, the king of Pisa (in Elis). To win her, he
had to beat OenomaŁs in a chariot race from Pisa to the Isthmus
of Corinth -- OenomaŁs killed those who lost this race. One version
has Pelops pray to Poseidon, who helps him beat OenomaŁs. Another
account says Pelops bribed Myrtilus, the charioteer of OenomaŁs,
to remove the linchpins from OenomaŁs' chariot and to replace them
with wax; in return, he promised Myrtilus a night with Hippodamia
and half of the kingdom. The wheels fell off OenomaŁs' chariot and
he was killed. Myrtilus tried to rape Hippodamia when he saw that
Pelops was not going to keep his part of the bargain; Pelops threw
him off a cliff, but as he was falling to his death, Myrtilus cursed
Pelops and his descendants. This curse became the source of much
misfortune for Pelops' family, the House of Atreus. Pelops named
the area of Greece known as the Peloponnese after himself, and he
became the father of Atreus and Thyestes (Pindar, Olympian Odes
1.67-89; Apollodorus, Epitome 2.3-10; Diodorus Siculus 4.73;
Pausanias 5.10.6-7, 6.21.6-11, 8.14.10-11). Family
Penates [pe-nay'teez], "pantry."
These spirits of Roman households were responsible for a family's
food and well-being, and later the prosperity of the entire state
was tied to them. One account says the Penates were originally associated
with the town of Lavinium, and when an attempt was made to move
them to Alba Longa, they miraculously reappeared in Lavinium. Later
Roman tradition held that the Penates were the Trojan gods given
to Aeneas by the ghost of Hector on the night the Greeks sacked
Troy; Aeneas then brought these gods to Italy.
Penelope [pe-nel'oh-pee], "striped duck."
She was the wife of Odysseus. She waited patiently and faithfully
for her husband to return from the Trojan War. For three years she
put her suitors off by saying she would choose one of them as her
new husband as soon as she finished weaving a burial shroud for
Laertes, her father-in-law. Each day she worked at her weaving,
but at night she secretly undid what she had accomplished during
the day. By the time the suitors discovered her ruse, Odysseus had
returned and had begun plotting their slaughter (Homer, Odyssey
19.123-163). Family Tree 37.
Pentheus [pen'the-us], "grief."
He was son of Echion, one of the Spartoi, and king of Thebes. Agave,
his mother, became a devotee of Dionysus, but Pentheus opposed him
and his rites. Dionysus, in disguise, encouraged Pentheus to dress
up as a maenad and infiltrate the rites of Dionysus' followers.
When Pentheus went into the mountains in the garb of the bacchae,
his mother and the other maenads, possessed by Dionysus, tore him
apart (Euripides, Bacchae; Apollodorus 3.5.2; Ovid, Metamorphoses
3.511-733; Hyginus, Fabulae 184). Family
Periboea [pe-ri-bee'a] or Periboia.
She was the daughter of Alcathus, who was son of Pelops -- little
more than a name to us (Apollodorus 3.12.7). Family
Periphetes [pe-ri-fee'teez], "notorious," also called Corynetes
This son of Hephaestus lived in Epidaurus, where he terrorized the
community as a brigand, beating his victims to death with a club.
Theseus fought with Periphetes, wrested the club from him, and killed
the fiend with his own weapon; thereafter the club was one of Theseus'
trademarks (Apollodorus 3.16.1; Diodorus Siculus 4.59.2; Plutarch,
Theseus 8.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 38).
She is mentioned as the mother of Asopus -- little more than a name
to us (Apollodorus 3.12.6). Family
Persephone [per-sef'o-nee] (Proserpina), "she who brings destruction,"
also called Kore [ko'ree], "girl," or "maiden."
The daughter of Zeus and Demeter, she was kidnapped by Hades. Hecate
heard Persephone call for her father and Helius saw what happened,
but otherwise no one observed the kidnapping. For nine days Demeter
searched the world for her daughter; on the tenth day she learned
from Hecate and Helius what had become of Persephone. She avoided
the assemblies of the gods, and went to Eleusis disguised as an
old woman, where she became the nurse of an infant named DemophoŲn.
When he saw that there was no other way to appease Demeter, Zeus
sent Hermes to bring Persephone up from the Underworld. Before Persephone
came up from the land of the dead, Hades had her eat a pomegranate
seed, which committed her to spend one-third of each year in the
Underworld. Demeter once again allowed crops to grow on the earth;
she then went back to Eleusis and established the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Persephone is the wife of Hades and the queen of the Underworld
(Homeric Hymn to Demeter; Apollodorus 1.5.1-3; Ovid, Metamorphoses
5.359-550). Family Tree 2.
Perseus [pers'e-us], "destroyer."
This son of Zeus and DanaŽ, with the help of Athena, beheaded Medusa
and brought the head to Polydectes. On his journey he had adventures
with the Stygian nymphs, the Graeae, and Atlas; he also rescued
Andromeda from a sea monster and married her. With Andromeda he
became the father of Perses. He returned to his homeland of Argos
and accidentally killed his grandfather, Acrisius, with a discus.
He then went to Tiryns, where he exchanged kingdoms with Megapenthes,
the king of Tiryns. The city of Mycenae, which Perseus founded near
Tiryns, was ruled by his descendants. Perseus and Andromeda were
turned into constellations at the end of their lives (Apollodorus
2.4.1-5; Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.607-5.249; Hyginus, Fabulae
63, 64). Family Tree 34.
Phaeacians [fee-ay'shi-anz] or Phaiakians.
They were a seafaring people who helped both Jason and Odysseus.
AeŽtes' men caught up to Jason and Medea at Phaeacia, the island
home of the Phaeacians, so the Phaeacians arranged for the two to
be married (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.982-1222; Apollodorus
1.9.25; Hyginus, Fabulae 23). They entertained Odysseus hospitably,
gave him many gifts, and conveyed him safely to Ithaca (Homer, Odyssey
5.382-13.124). While the Phaeacians were returning to their own
island after taking Odysseus home, Poseidon became angry that they
had once again shown their disregard for him by conveying a mortal
over his domain. He turned their ship into a huge rock and threw
up a mountain around the island, so the Phaeacians could no longer
be masters of the sea (Homer, Odyssey 13.125-187).
Phaedra [fee'dra] or Phaidra.
This daughter of Minos, king of Crete, married Theseus and became
the mother of Demophon and Acamas, but she fell in love with Hippolytus,
Theseus' son with Antiope (or Hippolyta). She accused him of seducing
her and then killed herself. Theseus had Poseidon kill Hippolytus
(Euripides, Hippolytus; Seneca, Phaedra; Apollodorus,
Epitome 1.18-19; Diodorus Siculus 4.62; Ovid, Metamorphoses
15.497-546; Virgil, Aeneid 7.761-782; Hyginus, Fabulae
47). Family Tree 23.
PhaŽthon [fay'e-thon], "shine."
This son of Helius (Apollo in some accounts) and Clymene (Rhode
or Prote in some accounts) drove his father's chariot recklessly
until Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica
4.597-611; Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.750-2.380; Hyginus, Fabulae
Philoctetes [fi-lok-tee'teez] or Philoktetes, "lover of possessions."
This son of Poeas inherited the bow and arrows of Heracles from
his father, who had lit the funeral pyre for the hero (Apollodorus
2.7.7). Some sources say Philoctetes himself lit the pyre and received
the bow and arrows directly from Heracles (Diodorus Siculus 4.38.3-8;
Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.229-238; Hyginus, Fabulae 36).
On the way to the Trojan War, Philoctetes led the Greeks to the
isle of Chryse (Tenedos in Apollodorus), where he was bitten by
a poisonous snake; his wound gave off such a stench that the Greeks
left him behind on the island of Lemnos. In the last year of the
war, the Greeks needed the bow and arrows of Heracles, so Odysseus
and Diomedes sailed back to Lemnos to get Philoctetes. Podalirius
and Machaon, sons of Asclepius, healed the wound; Philoctetes then
killed Paris (Homer, Iliad 2.716-728; Sophocles, Philoctetes;
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.27, 5.8; Hyginus, Fabulae 102).
Family Tree 52.
She was the daughter of Pandion and Zeuxippe. When she visited her
sister, Procne, Tereus, her brother-in-law, raped her, secluded
her in a remote outpost, and cut her tongue off. In a tapestry that
she smuggled to her sister, Procne, Philomela depicted the crime
against her. Procne freed her from the outpost and together they
cooked Itys and served him to Tereus; when Tereus chased Procne
and Philomela, they were all turned into birds (Apollodorus 3.14.8;
Pausanias 1.5.4, 1.41.8-9, 10.4.8-9; Ovid, Metamorphoses
6.424-674; Hyginus, Fabulae 45). Family
Phineus [feyen'e-us], "sea bird."
The king of Salmydessus, he was a blind prophet whom Jason and the
Argonauts encountered on their way to get the Golden Fleece. Harpies
snatched away most of his food and befouled the rest. Zetes and
CalaÔs, the winged sons of Boreas, the North Wind, chased the Harpies
away; in return, Phineus foretold the rest of the Argonauts' journey
and warned them of many dangers that lay ahead, and he told them
how to get through the Symplegades (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica
2.178-536; Apollodorus 1.9.21-22; Hyginus, Fabulae 19; Valerius
Flaccus, Argonautica 4.423-636).
Phoebe [fee'bee] or Phoibe, "bright."
She was a daughter of Uranus and Gaia and one of the Titans. By
her brother, Coeus, she was the mother of Leto and Asteria (Hesiod,
Theogony 404-410; Apollodorus 1.1.3, 1.2.2). Family
Tree 3Family Tree 21.
Pholus [foh'lus] or Pholos, "lair."
He was a centaur who entertained Heracles when the hero was preparing
to capture the Erymanthian boar for his fourth labor. He served
a jar of wine to Heracles that belonged to all the centaurs, a deed
that caused the centaurs to attack Heracle. While driving the centaurs
away, Heracles inadvertently hit Chiron with one of his poisoned
arrows; Chiron found relief by trading his immortality for the mortality
of Prometheus. Pholus also met his death in this battle when he
accidentally dropped one of Heracles' arrows on his foot (Sophocles,
Trachiniae 1095-1096; Euripides, Heracles 364-374;
Apollodorus 2.5.4; Diodorus Siculus 4.12.3-8; Hyginus, Fabulae
Phorcys [for'sis] or Phokys, "pig."
This son of Gaia and Pontus was a sea god who married Ceto and became
the father of the Gorgons and the Graeae. Some accounts call him
the father of Scylla, Echidna, Ladon, the Hesperides, and the Eumenides
(Homer, Odyssey 1.71-73, 13.96; Hesiod, Theogony 237-336;
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.828-829). Family
Phrixus [friks'us] or Phrixos.
This son of Athamas and Nephele, a cloud, was rescued by a flying
golden ram when Ino, his stepmother, tried to have him killed. Phrixus'
sister, Helle, fell from the ram at the Hellespont, but Phrixus
rode it to safety in Colchis, where he sacrificed the ram and flayed
it -- this was the Golden Fleece that Jason retrieved (Apollodorus
1.9.1; Diodorus Siculus 4.47; Hyginus, Fabulae 1-3, Poetica
Astronomica 2.20). Family
PirithoŁs [pi-ri'thoh-us] or Pirithoos, "run around."
The son of Ixion and king of the Lapiths, he invited the centaurs
to his wedding, but they became drunk and tried to rape the bride
and other Lapith women. A fight broke out and the centaurs were
routed; this battle became famous and was a popular theme in Greek
art (Pindar, Pythian Odes 2.21-48; Apollodorus, Epitome
1.21; Diodorus Siculus 4.69.1-70.1; Ovid, Metamorphoses 12.210-535;
Hyginus, Fabulae 33). PirithoŁs and Theseus went to the Underworld
to capture Persephone to be the bride of PirithoŁs. They were captured
and held by coils of snakes; PirithoŁs was never released, but Theseus
was freed by Heracles (Apollodorus, Epitome 1.23; Plutarch,
Theseus 32, 34; Diodorus Siculus 4.63.1-5). Family
Pluto [plou'toh] (2), "wealth."
She is an obscure goddess, daughter of Cronus and Rhea or of Oceanus
and Tethys (Hesiod, Theogony 355). Family
Pluto [plou'toh] (Hades) (1), "wealth."
This is one of the names the Romans commonly used for the god of
the Underworld. It comes from the Greek word ploutos, meaning
"wealth"; the Romans also used the name Dis or Dis Pater, from Latin
dives ("wealth") and pater ("father"), for the ruler
of the Underworld. The god of the Underworld was considered wealthy
not only because he controlled the many precious metals inside the
earth, but also because grain and other life-giving crops were thought
to grow from inside the earth.
Poeas [pee'as] or Poias, "keeper of pastures."
This son of Thaumacus was one of the Argonauts. When Heracles came
to Mount Oeta, in Trachis, suffering unendurable pain from the poison
in the robe that had been dipped in the blood of Nessus, Poeas was
the only one who had the courage to light the funeral pyre that
Heracles had arranged to be built for himself. In return for Poeas'
kindness, Heracles gave to him his bow and arrows; these weapons
were later passed on to Poeas' son, Philoctetes, although one version
of the story says Philoctetes lit the pyre himself and received
the weapons directly from Heracles (Apollodorus 2.7.7). Family
Polydorus [po-li-do'rus] or Polydoros.
This son of Cadmus and Harmonia became king of Thebes. He was the
father of Labdacus, but he died while Labdacus was still a child
(Pausanias 9.5.3-4). Family
Polynices [pol-i-neye'seez] or Polynikes.
This son of Oedipus and Jocasta was also brother of Eteocles, with
whom he was to alternate as ruler of Thebes, each brother ruling
for one year at a time and then stepping down. When Eteocles refused
to hand the throne over to Polynices at the end of the first year,
Polynices and six other leaders (the Seven against Thebes) led an
expedition against the city; Eteocles and Polynices killed each
other at the same moment. Creon decreed that Polynices was not to
be buried, but Antigone disobeyed and buried her brother at the
cost of her own life (Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes; Sophocles,
Oedipus at Colonus 1254-1447, Antigone; Euripides,
Phoenician Women, Suppliants; Apollodorus 3.6.1-3.7.1;
Hyginus, Fabulae 68-74). Family
Polyphemus [po-li-fee'mus] or Polyphemos, "many words."
This son of Poseidon was a Cyclops, with a single eye in the middle
of his forehead. In vain he pursued Galatea (Ovid, Metamorphoses
13.750-897). He trapped Odysseus and twelve of his men in his cave;
he ate some of the men. Odysseus masterminded their escape by getting
Polyphemus drunk and blinding him. They left the cave tied to the
bottoms of his sheep and rams. Polyphemus prayed to his father,
Poseidon, and uttered the curse that made the rest of Odysseus'
voyage so difficult (Homer, Odyssey 9.105-542).
Pontus [pon'tus] or Pontos, "sea."
This offspring of Gaia and personification of the sea mated with
Gaia to produce Thaumas, Eurybia (or EurybiŽ), Ceto, Nereus, and
Phorcys (Hesiod, Theogony 131-132, 233-239). Family
Poseidon [po-seye'don] (Neptune), "husband of Da (=Demeter)"(?).
This son of Cronus and Rhea supported Zeus in the Titanomachy. He
drew lots with Zeus and Hades to divide up the universe and became
ruler of the sea (Apollodorus 1.2.1). He had a competition with
Athena for control of Athens. He struck a rock on the Acropolis
with his trident and created the first horse (other sources say
he created a salt spring), but Athena won the contest by causing
an olive tree to spring up. Poseidon was so angry at losing that
he flooded the nearby Thriasian plain, but the Athenians appeased
him by promising to worship him even though Athena would be their
patron deity (Apollodorus 3.14.1). His weapon was the trident (Apollodorus
1.2.1). He was also the god of earthquakes (Homeric Hymn to Poseidon).
He was married to Amphitrite and was the father of Triton (Hesiod,
Theogony 930-933; Apollodorus 1.4.5). By Gaia he was the
father of Antaeus and by Demeter he fathered Arion; he was also
the father of Polyphemus. Family
Tree 2Family Tree 53.
Priam [preye'am], "redeemed."
This son of Laomedon was king of Troy during the Trojan War. He
became king when Heracles killed his father (Apollodorus 2.6.4).
Among his children with his wife Hecuba were Hector, Paris, Cassandra,
Helenus, DeÔphobus, Troilus, and Creusa; he also had numerous offspring
through concubines (Apollodorus 3.12.5). Neoptolemus killed Priam
at the altar of Zeus in Priam's house (Apollodorus, Epitome
5.21; Pausanias 4.17.4; Virgil, Aeneid 2.533-558). Family
Priapus [preye-ay'-pus] or Priapos , "pear tree pruner"(?).
This son of Aphrodite -- Hermes, Dionysus, Pan, Adonis, and even
Zeus are named in various accounts as his father -- is a fertility
god who is usually depicted as deformed, with a huge, erect phallus.
Some sources say Hera gave him this obscene appearance because she
was upset at Aphrodite's promiscuity. Priapus was a gardener and
was found at the doors of houses (Pausanias 9.31.2; Hyginus, Fabulae
160, Poetica Astronomica 2.23).
Procne [prok'nee] or Prokne, "older"(?).
This daughter of Pandion, king of Athens, and sister of Philomela
married Tereus, king of Thrace, and became the mother of Itys. When
Philomela came to visit them, Tereus raped her, sliced off her tongue,
and locked her in a remote outpost in the woods. Philomela wove
a tapestry on which the crime was depicted and sent it to Procne,
who freed her sister; together they cooked Itys and served him to
Tereus. When Tereus realized he had eaten his own son, he chased
Procne and Philomela with his sword; all three of them were changed
into birds (Apollodorus 3.14.8; Pausanias 1.5.4, 1.41.8-9, 10.4.8-9;
Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.424-674; Hyginus, Fabulae 45).
Family Tree 39.
Procrustes [prokrus'teez] or Prokrustes, "he who stretches out,"
also known as Damastes or Polypemon. He lived between Eleusis and
Athens, where he entertained visitors at his inn, which had only
one bed. He cut the legs off those who were longer than the bed
and he hammered out or stretched those guests who were too short
(Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch). Some accounts say he had two beds,
one long and one short: he put short visitors on the long bed and
hammered them to make them fit; long guests he placed on the short
bed, and he cut off the portion of their legs that extended beyond
the length of the bed (Apollodorus, Hyginus). Theseus killed him
in the same way Procrustes had killed his victims (Apollodorus,
Epitome 1.4; Diodorus Siculus 4.59.5; Plutarch, Theseus
11; Hyginus, Fabulae 38).
Prometheus [proh-mee'the-us], "forethought."
The son of Iapetus and Clymene, he joined the side of Zeus in the
Titanomachy even though he was one of the Titans by birth; later
he challenged Zeus by championing the cause of man. Some sources
say it was he who created humans (Apollodorus 1.7.1; Pausanias 10.4.4;
Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.82-88). He prepared two sacrifices
for Zeus and let him choose between them: one of the sacrifices
was the fine meat and organs of an ox wrapped in the paunch, while
the other was only bones covered with rich fat. Zeus chose the less
desirable offering, thus setting the precedent for the kind of sacrifices
to be made by men. Zeus refused to give men the gift of fire, but
Prometheus smuggled it out of heaven and brought it to earth. Zeus
punished mankind by creating women, with Pandora as the prototype,
and he chained Prometheus to a cliff in the Caucasus Mountains;
each day an eagle pecked at his liver and each night the wounds
healed and the liver grew back (Hesiod, Theogony 507-616,
Works and Days 47-105; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound;
Apollodorus 1.7.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 54). Heracles killed
the eagle with his bow and arrow and freed him; Prometheus traded
his mortality for the immortality of Chiron, who had been wounded
by one of Heracles' arrows (Apollodorus 2.5.4; Hyginus, Fabulae
144, Poetica Astronomica 2.15). Family
ProtesilaŁs [proh-te-si-lay'us] or Protesilaos, "first of the
He was the first Greek to leap from the ships onto Trojan soil at
the beginning of the Trojan War, and the first Greek to die -- Hector
killed him. His wife, Laodamia, was so distraught that Hermes brought
ProtesilaŁs back from the Underworld for a few hours. When her husband
had to return to the realm of Hades, she killed herself (Homer,
Iliad 2.695-710; Cypria 17; Apollodorus, Epitome
3.30; Hyginus, Fabulae 103).
Psyche [seye'kee], "soul."
The youngest of three daughters born to a certain king and queen,
the oracle of Apollo said she should be laid out like a corpse and
placed on a mountaintop, where she would be wed to a horrible serpent.
On the mountaintop she fell asleep and was transported to a castle,
where Eros came to her each night after dark; because he left before
sunrise, she had no idea who her lover was. She became pregnant
and Eros told her the child would be divine if she did not try to
find out who he was. Eventually her sisters found her and convinced
her to learn the identity of her lover-when she discovered it was
Eros, he fled from her-Aphrodite imposed a series of nearly impossible
tasks on Psyche-when she completed the tasks, Aphrodite allowed
Eros to marry her-she was taken up to Olympus and fed ambrosia,
which made her immortal (Apuleius, The Golden Ass 4.28-6.26).
Pygmalion [pig-may'li-on], "cubit"(?).
He was a craftsman on the island of Cyprus who created his own wife.
All the women on the island were prostitutes, so he carved an ivory
statue of a woman and treated it as his wife; Aphrodite caused the
statue to come alive for him. He named his wife Galatea and together
they had a son named Paphos, who became the father of Cinyras (Apollodorus
3.14.3; Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.243-297).
Pyramus [pi'ra-mus] or Pyramos, "pyramid"(?), and Thisbe [thiz'bee],
They were two young lovers in Babylon whose parents forbade them
to see each other. They communicated in secret through a small hole
in the wall that divided their living quarters, until the distance
between them became unbearable and they eloped. Thisbe arrived first
at their meeting place, but she was frightened into a nearby cave
when a lion appeared; as she fled, her veil fell to the ground and
the lion chewed on it. When Pyramus arrived, he assumed the lion
had consumed Thisbe, so he ran himself through with his sword. Thisbe
found him dead when she came out from the cave, and she killed herself
with his sword (Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.55-166).