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DIOSCURI - DIÓSKOURI - ΔΙΟΣΚΟΥΡΟΙ
Kástohr and Polydéfkis



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Generalities: The Parentage and Family of the Dióskouri

The word Dióskouri (Dioscouri; Gr. Διόσκουροι, ΔΙΟΣΚΟΥΡΟΙ) simply means "sons of Zefs(Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς), the etymology being Διός "Zefs" + κούροι "boys or youths." The term can apply to any sons of Zefs, such as the Kouritæs (Curetes; Gr. Κούρητες), but it is usually associated with two particular Gods.

The Dióskouri are Kástohr (Castor; Gr. Κάστωρ, "beaver") and Polydéfkis (Polydeuces or Pollux; Gr. Πολυδεύκης, "much sweet wine"). They are the twin sons of Lída (Leda; Gr. Λήδα). The father of Kástohr is Tyndáræos (Tyndareus; Gr. Τυνδάρεως) of Spárta (Gr. Σπάρτα); the father of Polydéfkis is Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς). They are the brothers of Ælǽni (Eleni or Helen; Gr. Ἑλένη) and Klytaimnístra (Clytemnestra; Gr. Κλυταιμνήστρα). The Dióskouri are highly significant deities in the pantheon of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and play an important role in much of the mythology of our religion.


The Birth and Heritage of the Dióskouri

Lída, wife of king Tyndáræos of Spárta, observed a swan being pursued by an eagle. She gave the swan refuge; they became affectionate and she coupled with the swan, which was a transformation of Zefs. That same evening, she also coupled with her husband. These unions produced two eggs from which all the children, ÆlǽniKástohr and Polydéfkis, and Klytaimnístra, were born. It is usually said that Ælǽni and Polydéfkis are the progeny of Zefs, and thus immortal. 

There are divergent accounts concerning the details of this story, such as who of the children was born from which egg, stories not mentioning eggs, and who of the children were mortal and who of the children were immortal. In some variants of the story, the Dióskouri are both said to be the sons of Zefs. In Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) they are depicted as mortal.

The Dióskouri became great Íroæs (Heroes; Gr. Ἥρωες). They participated in many memorable events such as the journey of the Argóh (Argo; Gr. Ἀργώ) and the hunt of the Kalydóhnios kápros (Calydonian boar; Καλυδώνιος κάπρος).


The Rescue of Ælǽni by the Dióskouri

Before their sister Ælǽni had been taken by Páris (Gr. Πάρις) to Tría (Troy; Gr. Ἴλιον or Τροία), she had first been abducted by Thiséfs (Theseus; Gr. Θησεύς), king of Athens. Thiséfs and Peiríthous (Pirithous; Gr. Πειρίθους), king of the Lapíthai (Lapiths; Gr. Λαπίθαι), decided to marry daughters of Zefs. Thiséfs chose Ælǽni, and having obtained the young girl, left her in the care of his mother, and went to help Peiríthous obtain Pærsæphóni in the kingdom of Aithis (Hades; Gr. Ἅιδης). They were tricked by the God, and bound with snakes to chairs, later to be rescued. In the meanwhile, Kástohr and Polydéfkis rescued their sister and made Mænæsthéfs (Menestheus; Gr. Μενεσθεύς) king of Athens, the regal power later to be returned to the family of Thiséfs after the Trojan war.


The Divine Honors of the Dióskouri

Kástohr and Polydéfkis had been tricked by their cousins out of some cattle. In the effort to retrieve their property, Kástohr was mortally wounded by Ídas (Gr. Ἴδας). When Kástohr lay dying, Zefs gave his brother Polydéfkis a choice of either eternity on Ólympos (Olympus; Gr. Όλυμπος) or he could share his immortality with his brother. He made the latter choice and the two brother alternate between Aithis and Ólympos

"Nevertheless, as Pollux refused to accept immortality while his brother Castor was dead, Zeus permitted them both to be every other day among the Gods and among mortals." [1]

Kástohr and Polydéfkis, who are in Latin called Gemini, the Twins, are also the brightest stars of the constellation of that same name, or, in ancient Greek, Dídymi (Didymoi or Gemini; Gr. Δίδυμοι).


The 
Dióskouri in Iconography

The Dióskouri can be identified in ancient art as resplendent, beardless youths, usually naked or very scantily clad having just a cape, and their bodies are of perfect and athletic proportions. They wear the pílos (Gr. πῖλος), a (generally) brimless, conical felt cap quite associated with these deities; there is some thought that the cap is a remnant of the eggs from which the mythology says they hatched. At other times they are depicted wearing the crowning wreath of the Olympic games, the crown of olive leaves. Sometimes they are mounted on horses or have horses at their side.

Cultic Characteristics of the Dióskouri

The Dióskouri are said to dwell half of the time in the Aithirial regions of the Immortals, and half of their time in the realm of Ploutohn (Pluto or Hades; Gr. Πλούτων). Ploutohn is the king of the khthonic region, Earth; he is the earthy God; he is the Lord of the Earth. [2] This being so, the Dióskouri are within our realm and have particular interest in the affairs of man; they have a dual function as deities associated with the Aithír (Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ), yet they are also khthonic deities. 

The Dióskouri are known to be protectors of sailors (they are thought to be the phenomenon known as St. Elmo's fire), guardians of guests and travelers, and friends of mankind, helping, particularly in times of crisis. They are associated with the horse and are benefactors of horsemen and races. In ancient times, they were the patrons of the pan-Hellenic Olympic Games, games in honor of their father Zefs. The are called Sohtǽri (Soteroi; Gr. Σωτέροι) "Saviors," Ánaktæs Paidæs (Anactes Paedes; Gr. Άνακτες Παίδες) "Boy Kings," Thæí Mægáli (Theoi Megaloi; Gr. Θεοί Μεγάλοι) "Great Gods," and Amvouliï (Ambulioi; Gr. Αµβούλιοι) "Counselors."


THE HOMERIC HYMNS TO THE DIÓSKOURI

17. To the Dióskouri [3]

Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of Castor and Polydeuces, the Tyndaridae, who sprang from Olympian Zeus. Beneath the heights of Taӱgetus stately Leda bare them, when the dark-clouded Son of Cronos had privily bent her to his will.

Hail, children of Tyndareus, riders upon swift horses!


17. Εἲς Διοσκούρους

Κάστορα καὶ Πολυδεύκἐ ἀείσεο, Μοῦσα λίγεια,
Τυνδαρίδας, οἳ Ζηνὸς Ὀλυμπίου ἐξεγένοντο:
τοὺς ὑπὸ Τηϋγέτου κορυφῇς τέκε πότνια Λήδη
λάθρη ὑποδμηθεῖσα κελαινεφέι Κρονίωνι.
χαίρετε, Τυνδαρίδαι, ταχέων ἐπιβήτορες ἵππων.


33. To the Dióskouri [4]

Bright-eyed Muses, tell of the Tyndaridae, the Sons of Zeus, glorious children of neat-ankled Leda, Castor the tamer of horses, and blameless Polydeuces. When Leda had lain with the dark-clouded Son of Cronos, she bare them beneath the peak of the great hill Taӱgetus, --- children who are deliverers of men on earth and of swift-going ships when stormy gales rage over the ruthless sea. Then the shipmen call upon the sons of great Zeus with vows of white lambs, going to the forepart of the prow; but the strong wind and the waves of the sea lay the ship under water, until suddenly these two are seen darting through the air on tawny wings. Forthwith they allay the blasts of the cruel winds and still the waves upon the surface of the white sea: fair signs are they and deliverance from toil. And when the shipmen see them they are glad and have rest from their pain and labour. Hail, Tyndaridae, riders upon swift horses!



33. Εἲς Διοσκούρους

ἀμφὶ Διὸς κούρους, ἑλικώπιδες ἔσπετε Μοῦσαι,
Τυνδαρίδας, Λήδης καλλισφύρου ἀγλαὰ τέκνα,
Κάστορά θ᾽ ἱππόδαμον καὶ ἀμώμητον Πολυδεύκεα,
τοὺς ὑπὸ Ταϋγέτου κορυφῇ ὄρεος μεγάλοιο
μιχθεῖσ᾽ ἐν φιλότητι κελαινεφέι Κρονίωνι
σωτῆρας τέκε παῖδας ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
ὠκυπόρων τε νεῶν, ὅτε τε σπέρχωσιν ἄελλαι
χειμέριαι κατὰ πόντον ἀμείλιχον: οἳ δ᾽ ἀπὸ νηῶν
εὐχόμενοι καλέουσι Διὸς κούρους μεγάλοιο
ἄρνεσσιν λευκοῖσιν, ἐπ᾽ ἀκρωτήρια βάντες
πρύμνης: τὴν δ᾽ ἄνεμός τε μέγας καὶ κῦμα θαλάσσης
θῆκαν ὑποβρυχίην: οἳ δ᾽ ἐξαπίνης ἐφάνησαν
ξουθῇσι πτερύγεσσι δι᾽ αἰθέρος ἀίξαντες,
αὐτίκα δ᾽ ἀργαλέων ἀνέμων κατέπαυσαν ἀέλλας,
κύματα δ᾽ ἐστόρεσαν λευκῆς ἁλὸς ἐν πελάγεσσι,
σήματα καλά, πόνου ἀπονόσφισιν: οἳ δὲ ἰδόντες
γήθησαν, παύσαντο δ᾽ ὀιζυροῖο πόνοιο.
χαίρετε, Τυνδαρίδαι, ταχέων ἐπιβήτορες ἵππων:
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ὑμέων τε καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ᾽ ἀοιδῆς.


The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.



EPITHETS OF THE 
DIÓSKOURI (under construction)
NOTE: A list of abbreviations can be found on this page: GLOSSARY HOME.

Anaces - See Ánakæs.

Ánakæs - (Anaces; Gr. Ἄνακες, ΑΝΑΚΕΣ) Lexicon entry: Ἄνᾰκες, ων, οἱthe Dioscuri, Pollux and Castor, σωτήροιν Ἀνάκοιν τε Διοσκούροιν: old pl. of ἄναξ; cf. Ἀνάκειον, -εια. (L&S p. 107, right column, edited for simplicity.)

Ánax - (Gr. Ἄναξ, ΑΝΑΞ) Ánax is king.
- Lexicon entry: 
ἄναξ [], ἄνακτος (cf. Ἄνακες), , rarely fem. ὦ ἄνα for ἄνασσα:—lordmaster1. of the Gods, esp. Apollo; of Zeus; Poseidon, of Πλοῦτος; esp. of the Dioscuri, cf. Ἄνακες, Ἄνακοι; of all the Gods. (L&S p. 114, left column, edited for simplicity.)

Sohtír - (soter; Gr. σωτήρ, ΣΩΤΗΡ) Lexicon entry: σωτήρῆρος, voc. σῶτερ: poet. σᾰωτήρ — saviour, deliverer2. epith. of Ζεύς; to whom persons after a safe voyage offered sacrifice; to Ζεὺς Σωτήρ the third cup of wine was dedicated; to drink this cup became a symbol of good luck, and the third time came to mean the lucky time; and Zeus was himself called τρίτος σb. epith. of other Gods, as of Apollo; of Hermes; of Asclepios; of the Dioscuri; even with fem. deities, Τύχη σωτήρ, for σώτειρα: generally, of guardian or tutelary Gods. (L&S p. 1751, left column, edited for simplicity.)

Emithnetus - See Imíthnitos.

Imíthnitos - (emithnetus; Gr. ἡμίθνητος, ΗΜΙΘΝΗΤΟΣ) Lexicon entry: ἡμίθνητος, ονhalf-mortal, of the Dioscuri. 2. half-dead. (L&S p. 772, almost at the end of the left column all of which are words beginning with ημι-, edited for simplicity.)


NOTES:

[1] Apollódohros (Apollodorus; Gr. Ἀπολλόδωρος) Vivliothíki (Bibliotheca or The Library; Gr. Βιβλιοθήκη) 3.11.2, trans. James George Frazer, 1921. We are using the 1989 edition entitled Apollodorus: The Library II, LCL 122, Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA USA) and William Heineman (London, England UK), where this quotation may be found on p. 33.

[2] There are three terms which should be considered here: 

ypokhthónios - (hypochthonic; Gr. ὑποχθόνιος) Ypokhthónios refers to the area under the earth.
khthónios - (chthonios or chthonic; Gr. χθόνιος) Khthónios refers to the surface of the earth.
ypærkhthónios - (hyperchthonius; Gr. ὑπερχθόνιος) Ypærkhthónios refers to the area above the earth.

Ploutohn (Pluto or Hades; Gr. Πλούτων) has dominion over the khthonic---the earthy---regions, the place where we dwell. He also has dominion over the ypokhthonic region under the earth, but there are no souls there but those of worms and microbes and other such things. The idea that there is an underworld where we go after death can certainly be found in mythology, but this "place of misery" is actually the place where we dwell, on the surface of the earth, the area where the mortals live. Please visit this page for a more thorough explanation: Ploutohn.

[3] Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) Hymn 17 To the Dióskouri, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914. We are using the 1936 edition entitled Hesiod - The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, published by Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, MA USA) and William Heinemann (London, England UK), where this quotation as well as the ancient Greek text may be found on pp. 440-441.

[4] Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) Hymn 33 To the Dióskouri, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Ibid. pp. 460-463.

 


The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).




PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as 

 

mythology

  
 

, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek         

 

Transliteration of Ancient Greek         

 

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