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The mythology of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, is one of the most important means by which we obtain information about the Gods, but these stories are told in riddles. 
This extensive glossary or dictionary of myth should be useful to those who wish to acquire a deeper understanding of their meaning. It includes keys to the symbolism of ancient words and iconography as well as antique and modern scholastic terminology associated with the study of mythology.

Absurdity, Criterion of - If the story-line of a mythological tale presents events which are absurd or immoral, the actual meaning of the myth cannot possibly be literal; this is called the criterion of absurdity in the interpretation of mythology.

Ǽlaphos - (elaphus; Gr. ἔλαφος; ΕΛΑΦΟΣ. Noun.) = Deer. See Nævrós.

Aætós - (aetos; Gr. ἀετός, ΑΕΤΟΣ. Noun.) Aætós is the eagle which is sometimes used to represent Zefs (Ζεύς), as in the story of Ganymídis (Γανυμήδης) who was abducted by the God in the form of an eagle and made his cupbearer in the heavens (Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη 3.7.2 [Aldrich 3.141], and in many other places).

Adámos Dræpáni - (Adamas Drepane; Gr. Ἀδάμας Δρεπάνη, ΑΔΑΜΑΣ ΔΡΕΠΑΝΗ) The Adámos Dræpáni is the unbreakable sickle of Krónos which he used to castrate his father Ouranós. The English word adamantine comes from the ancient Greek ἀδάμας, an adjective meaning "unconquerable." Anything which was ἀδάμας was extremely hard or unbreakable, like diamonds or steel. Δρεπάνη is the word for sickle. In iconography, sometimes Krónos will be represented as a severe mature bearded man with a sickle.

Ainigma (enigma; Gr. αἴνιγμα, ΑΙΝΙΓΜΑ. Noun.) a sign or a riddle. The term is often associated with Pythagóras (Πυθαγόρας) the philosopher, who is said to have taught things aurally and that his teachings were enigmas or riddles, and that the entire meaning was revealed only to those initiated at the highest level. In truth, much of the mythology is enigmatic, and that the deepest meaning is not told plainly, but rather hidden in riddles.

Ainigmatóhdis - (ainigmatodes; Gr. αἰνιγματώδης, ΑΙΝΙΓΜΑΤΩΔΗΣ. Adjective.) enigmatic.

Ainíssomai (Gr. αἰνίσσομαι, ΑΙΝΙΣΣΟΜΑΙ. Verb.) to speak in such a way that the meaning is hidden, to speak symbolically.

Ainos - (aenus; Gr. αἶνος, ΑΙΝΟΣ. Noun.) a tale, fable, story, especially a story with a moralAinos is the root of several words related to the mystical interpretation of myth: ainigma (αἴνιγμα), ainigmatóhdis (αἰνιγματώδης), ainíssomai (αἰνίσσομαι), and ainítæsthai (αἰνίττεσθαι).

Aisios – (aesius; Gr. αἴσιος, ΑΙΣΙΟΣ. Adjective.) auspicious. According to Androkýdis (Ἀνδροκύδης) the Pythagorean, it is symbolic of the true voice (τὰ αἴσια). (Ἀνδροκύδης, as told in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Aithír - (Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ, ΑΙΘΗΡ. Noun.) The word Aithír is sometimes used, particularly by the poets, to mean Zefs (Ζεύς), because this God more than any other exemplifies the quality of the primordial substance Water-Fire-Aithír.

Aitioloyía - (aetiology or etiology; Gr. αἰτιολογία, ΑΙΤΙΟΛΟΓΙΑ. Noun. Etym. αἴτιον "cause" + λόγος "reckoning") Aitioloyía is the study of stories which explain the cause or origin of a thingAitioloyía is the etymological root of the English word etiologyEtiology includes the study of creation myths, the kosmogonía (κοσμογονία) and the thæogonía (θεογονία) of our religion, but it actually is the study of the origin or cause of anything. For example, the story of Pærsæphóni returning to her mother in the spring and going back to Ploutohn in the winter, can be seen as an etiological myth which explains the origin of the seasons. Beyond religion and philosophy, etiology can be applied to other disciplines, such as medicine, as it is applied to the study of the origin of diseases.

Alligoría - (allegory; Gr. ἀλληγορία, ΑΛΛΗΓΟΡΙΑ. Noun.) allegorysymbolic language.

Apotrópaios - (apotropaic; Gr. ἀποτρόπαιος, ΑΠΟΤΡΟΠΑΙΟΣ. Adjective. Etym. ἀπό "away from" + τρόπος "turn.") averting evil.

Árotron –The ancient Greek word for the “plow” is árotron (ἄροτρον) and for “ploughing” aróöh (ἀρόω) or aróssai (ἀρόσσαι, Epic infinitive). The plow or the act of ploughing is obviously agricultural, but it usually has additional symbolic meaning. Agriculture in general is civilizing and promoting peace rather than war. We cultivate the earth and participate in its fruitfulness; this is associated with Dimítir (Δημήτηρ) and other agricultural deities. The plow is also symbolic of the cultivation of the soul, under the dominion of Athiná (Ἀθηνᾶ); as it is said, “Ærmís (Ἑρμῆς) is the plow which is guided by Athiná.” The deepest mystical meaning of the plow is its phallic symbolism, for when it is deified the soul is penetrated by one of the six “male” Olympian deities.

Askíon – (ascion; Gr. ἀσκίον, ΑΣΚΙΟΝ. Adjective.) Askíon means shadowless, symbolic of darkness, because what is dark has no shadow. (Ἀνδροκύδης as told in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Asklipiós, Staff of - The Staff of Asklipiós (Ἀσκληπιός) consists of a large walking stick with a single serpent wrapped around it. The Staff of Asklipiós identifies the God in sculptures and paintings and its presence indicates the healing medicinal arts. The Staff of Asklipiós should not be confused with the Kirýkeion (Kerykeion or Caduceus [Latin]; Gr. Κηρύκειον), a staff having two snakes rather than one. Cf. Kirýkeion.

Basket - See Kálathos.

Bedu - See Vǽdi.

Bee - See Mǽlissa.

Bull - See Távros.

Caduceus - See Kirýkeion.

Chariot - The chariot is sometimes used to symbolize the Vehicle of the Soul. Likewise, a ship or a horse or similar moving things are used in the same way.

Cithara - See Kithára.

Club or Cudgel - See Rópalon.

Cosmogony - See Kosmogonía.

Cosmology - See Kosmoloyía.

Cudgel or Club - See Rópalon.

Creation myth - The creation myth tells the story of the origin of the entire Kózmos (Κόσμος). The “origin myth” is a broader term including all kinds of stories of origins. The creation myth, on the other hand, is specific, being stories that deal only with the origin of the entire Kózmos. In Greek mythology, creation myths tend to be theogonies. Cf. Origin myth and Kosmogonía.

Dáphni – (daphne or dafni; Gr. δάφνη, ΔΑΦΝΗ. Noun.) Dáphni is the bay-laurel tree, sacred to Apóllohn (Ἀπόλλων) because of the story of his love for the Nýmphi (Νύμφη) of the same name who was transformed into the tree to escape the advances of the God. Thus, the tree became sacred to the God. Apóllohn can often be identified in iconography because he is typically portrayed with a crown of laurel branches (δάφνης στεφάνῳ) and such a crown was given as the prize of the Pythian Games in honor of the God. Sometimes we see depictions of Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) and other Gods wearing the laurel crown, but usually the artwork indicates Apóllohn.

Damnamænéfs – (damnameneus; Gr. δαμναμενεύς, ΔΑΜΝΑΜΕΝΕΥΣ) Damnamænéfs (δαμναμένη) is a magic spell, but Androkýdis (Ἀνδροκύδης) the Pythagorean, used the word as a symbol of the sun, for the sun overpowers (δαμάζων) like a magic spell. (Ἀνδροκύδης, as told in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Darkness – See Askíon.

Deer - See Nævrós.

Demigod - See Imíthæos.

Dog - See Skýlax.

Dogs of Pærsæphóni, The – The Pythagoreans call the planets the Dogs of Pærsæphóni. (Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Drys – (drus; Gr. δρῦς, ΔΡΥΣ. Noun. Pronounced: drees.) The word drys means “oak,” a tree sacred to Zefs (Zeus). The God will frequently be depicted in iconography wearing a crown of oak leaves (στέφανος δρυός). At the great Olympic Games in the God’s honor, a crown of wild oak was given as a prize to the victors of the various contests.

Eagle - See Aætós.

Earth – See Lix.

Egg - See Öón.

Elaphus = Ǽlaphos = Deer. See Nævrós.

Eponymous Myth - (from the adjective ἐπώνυμος, "giving one's name to a thing or person." Etym. ἐπί "on, upon" + ὄνυμα "name.") An eponymous myth or story is one which tells how something or someone was named after someone or something’s name. For instance, we call the Greeks Hellenes (Ἕλληνες) after their ancestor, Ǽllin (Ἕλλην).

Ethnogenetic Myth - (Etym. ἔθνος, "group of people", and γένεσις, "origin, manner of descent.") a myth which explains the origin of a group of people. Genealogies are ethnogenetic in nature because they explain how a group of people came to identify themselves. The hymn to Apóllohn (Ἀπόλλων) by the Alexandrian poet Kallímakhos (Καλλίμαχος) explains, by genealogy, how the people of Kyríni (Κυρήνη) originated, and is, therefore ethnogenetic in nature. Cf. Eponymous Myth.

Etiology - See Aitioloyía.

Euhemerism - The term Euhemerism is derived from the name of the late 4th century BCE mythographer Evímæros (Εὐήμερος). Not much is known of his life, but he is thought to have been an atheist who believed that the stories of the Gods were exaggerations of memories of historical personages and events. He believed that famous men were transformed into heroes and Gods through the development of folklore. Thus, Euhemerism is the belief that mythology reflects lives of actual individuals and events which through time have been made fantastic.

Fable - Fables are fictional stories often suggesting a moral teaching, which generally feature as main characters anthropomorphized animals (and sometimes plants, fantastic creatures, and inanimate objects). The most famous name associated with fables is, of course, Aisopos (Αἴσωπος). Fables differ from myths in several ways. Fables are not intended to be understood as true stories, where myths are told as though they are factual, albeit with this truth hidden in symbolic language. The characters in fables are usually animals etc. while the myths usually speak of Gods and heroes. The fables of Aisopos are a valuable foundation and background which help us to understand Hellenic thinking. Greek children, even in modern times, are taught these stories alongside the great myths.

Fairy tale - See Märchen.

Fire of Íphaistos - The Fire of Íphaistos (Ἥφαιστος) is the Fire-Aithír, by which he works with the Forms.

Folklore - The stories, customs, and beliefs of a culture passed down orally are referred to as folklore. Folklore is a general term which includes fables, legends, and mythology.

- Cf. Fable, Legend, Märchen, Mythology, and Sagen.

Four – See Tætrás.

Goat – See Trágos.

Gold - See Khrysós.

Grapes, Bunch of – See Vótrys.

Honey - See Mǽli.

Horned animals - Horned animals in the mythology and iconography are often representative of divinity because the horns are symbolic of the Aithír (Αἰθήρ) flowing from head of Gods.

Horns - The horns on Gods which can be found in mythological iconography represent the Aithír (Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ) which is said to flow out of their head. For this reason, any God, without exception, may be called kallikǽras (καλλικέρας. Noun.), (he/she) with beautiful horns.

Horse - The horse, as well as the chariot and the ship, is sometimes used to symbolize the Vehicle of the Soul.

Imíthæos - (Hemitheos; Gr. Ἡμίθεος, ΗΜΙΘΕΟΣ) Imíthæos is a Demigod. (L&S p. 772, left column, within the entries beginning ἡμιαμϕόριον from the previous page, edited for simplicity.) In the mythology we find personages who are born from the union of a God and a mortal. This usually means that such an individual is an Imíthæos, a Demigod or Semigod; they are "half-God." These are the Heroes. Their souls have been harmonized at the eight level and they are near deification. Because they are so close to deification, they have enormous courage and have power over natural laws. Sometimes they are called Imíthnitos (Ἡμίθνητος), half-God.

Ivy - See Kissós.

Kæravnós - (ceraunus; Gr. κεραυνός, ΚΕΡΑΥΝΟΣ. Noun.) Kæravnós is the thunderbolt, the weapon of Zefs (Ζεύς), created for him by the Kýklohpæs (Κύκλωπες). The thunderbolt is symbolic of Zefs and Kæravnós is one of his titles.

Kálathos - (Calathos; Gr. κάλαθος, ΚΑΛΑΘΟΣ. Noun. Also, ἑλένη, a wicker-basket.) The Kálathos is The Basket of the Mysteries, the Toys of Diónysos. In mythology and iconography, the basket can be simply a basket, or it can have mystical symbolism. In the Mysteries at Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς), a basket was carried in procession containing pomegranates and poppy seeds.

Katáskion – (catascion; Gr. κατάσκιον, ΚΑΤΑΣΚΙΟΝ. Adjective.) Katáskion means shadowy, yet it is symbolic of light, for light casts shadows and shines through between the shadows. (Ἀνδροκύδης as told in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Khælóhni - (chelone; Gr. χελώνη, ΧΕΛΩΝΗ. Noun.) Khælóhni is the tortoise, symbolic of fertility and associated with the Goddess Aphrodíti (Ἀφροδίτη). Also there is the identification with Ærmís (Ἑρμῆς) who created the first lyre (κιθάρα) with a tortoise-shell and later gave it to Apóllohn (Ἀπόλλων).

Khrysós - (chrysus; Gr. χρυσός, ΧΡΥΣΟΣ. Noun.) Khrysós is gold, the color and the metal most associated with the Gods. Gold, therefore, symbolizes deity and immortality, for gold gleams like the sun and does not tarnish. Píndaros (Πίνδαρος) says (frag. 222) that gold is a child of Zefs (Ζεύς) but that men are devoured by it. In the story of Danáï (Δανάη), she is impregnated by Zefs himself, who enters her womb in a shower of golden rain Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη 2.4.1 (Aldrich 2.26), a union which produced the hero Pærséfs (Περσεύς). In another poem (Isthmian Ode 5), Píndaros says that the Titan Goddess Theia (Θεία) gave gold its surpassing strength.

Killing by a God - When a God kills a mortal in ancient Greek mythology, this is ækthǽohsis (ἐκθέωσις), deification. Killing by a God is one of the major keys to understanding the myths of Ællinismόs (Ἑλληνισμός). When a God is "killed" by another God, this indicates a tremendous transformation of that deity.

Kirýkeion - (Kerykeion or Caduceus [Latin]; Gr. Κηρύκειον) The Kirýkeion is the herald's staff usually associated with the Olympian God Ærmís (Ἑρμῆς) and also Íris (Ἶρις), both messenger deities. It consists of a staff with two intertwined snakes, their heads facing each other near the top; in later iconography we find the staff terminated with a pair of wings. The Kirýkeion in the Mystíria is the scepter of Phánis which unites the three worlds, Earth, the Middle Sky, and the Heavens; it is held by each of the Six Kings (Phánis, Nyx, Ouranós, Krónos, Zefs, and Diónysos) and, in reality, any deity which wields the generative power. Cf. Asklipiós, Staff of.

Kissós - (cissus; Gr. κισσός, ΚΙΣΣΟΣ. Noun.) Kissós is ivy, sacred to Diónysos (Διόνυσος). Whenever ivy is mentioned in mythology, or when (grape-) ivy appears on figures of sculpture or pottery, the scent of the Dionysian Mysteries has been found; the figure is either Diónysos himself or some person or divine being sacred to him.

Kithára - (Cithara; Gr. κιθάρα, ΚΙΘΑΡΑ. Noun.) The kithára is the seven-stringed lyre of Apóllohn (Ἀπόλλων) given to him by his brother Ærmís (Ἑρμῆς). The kithára can also be found in depictions of Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς). The seven strings of the kithára represent the seven centers of the soul, which when strummed by Apóllohn begin to spin. The lyre can also indicate the presence of the Mystíria.

Kosmogonía - (cosmogony; Gr. κοσμογονία, ΚΟΣΜΟΓΟΝΙΑ. Noun. Etym. κόσμος "order, to put in order" + γέννα "birth".) story telling the birth or origin of the universe.

Kýohn - (kuon; Gr. κύων, ΚΥΩΝ. Noun. Pronounced: KEE-on.) The Kýohn is the dog, sacred to Ártæmis and Ækáti; this animal is symbolic of the Agathós Daimohn (Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων), which the Goddess Ártæmis uses to hunt the beautiful souls near deification; Ækáti uses the dog, the Agathós Daimohn, to deliver our prayers to the Olympian Gods.

Laurel - See Dáphni.

Lǽohn - (Leon; Gr. λέων, ΛΕΩΝ. Noun.) The lǽohn is the lion, typically symbolic of Zefs (Ζεύς), for, as the lion is the king of beasts, Zefs is the lord of both Gods and men, indeed, of everything in the Kózmos (Κόσμος). The lion may be found to represent the zodiacal sign of Leo as well as the constellation of Leo, both of which are ruled by this God.

Læontí - (leonte; Gr. λεοντῇ, ΛΕΟΝΤΗ: Attic/Ionic Epic Noun contraction. Also, λεοντέη, Epic Ionic Noun.) The læontí, or lion-skin, is symbolic of Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς) who, as one of his Twelve Labors, slew the Næmǽos Lǽohn (Νεμέος Λέων), skinned it and wore its hide. If there is a figure on pottery wearing the lion-skin, it inevitably will be Iraklís. Cf. Rópalon.

Lampás - (Gr. λαμπάς, ΛΑΜΠΑΣ. Noun.) The lampás is the torch, held by Dimítir (Δημήτηρ) in her search for Kóri (Κόρη), her daughter, Pærsæphóni. It is a major symbol of the Mystíria, wielded by the priests of Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς) and participants of the Dionysian Mysteries.

Legend - A legend is a traditional story, thought of as true, about historical individuals or common people, rather than about Gods. An example of a legend would be the story of George Washington and the apple tree or the legends of King Arthur. The important differentiating characteristic concerning legends is that their subjects are mortal people where myths are generally stories about Gods.

- Cf. FableFolkloreMärchenMythology, and Sagen.

Leopard – See Párdalis.

Leopard-Skin – See Párdalis.

Light – See Katáskion.

Lion - See Lǽohn.

Lion-skin - See Læontí.

Lix – (Gr. λίξ, ΛΙΞ. Noun.) Lix is an ancient word for earth. (Ἀνδροκύδης, as told in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Lyre - See Kithára.

Mǽli - (meli; Gr. μέλι, ΜΕΛΙ. Noun.) Mǽli or honey, like the sun, is golden, the color most associated with the Gods. Food can be placed in honey and it will preserve the food; therefore, honey is symbolic of the immortality of the Gods and the immortality of the soul. Cf. Mǽlissa.

Mǽlissa - (melissa; Gr. μέλισσα, ΜΕΛΙΣΣΑ. Plural: μέλισσες.) Mǽlissa is the Greek word for the honey-bee. The bees or the Mǽlissæs (plural) are symbolic of the Nýmphai (Νύμφαι) or the priestesses of Dímitir (Δημήτηρ). Cf. Mǽli.

Märchen - (German "wonder tale") Märchen is a type of folk story, a fairy tale. Scholars often prefer the term Märchen over fairy tale because, for one reason, many märchen do not include fairies; the term is more general. Märchen is similar to mythology but has a very different flavor. Märchen includes tales of fantastic creatures such as elves, gnomes, ogres, giants, princes and princesses, wicked stepmothers, etc. They have a fantastic and unreal quality and usually make no pretense of being actual true stories. While they can sometimes serve a mild didactic purpose, märchen are often simply strange tales from various regions of the world. Märchen is a part of the folklore of a country, but there is folklore which is not märchen. Cf. FableFolkloreLegendMythology, and Sagen.

Mírai, The white-robed – (moirai; Gr. μοῖραι, ΜΟΙΡΑΙ, usually referring to the Fates. Plural noun of μοῖρα, “part.”) The white-robed mírai symbolize the phases of the moon. (Έπιγένης The Poetry of Orphéfs as discussed in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Moirai – See Mírai.

Mytheme - Mytheme is the requisite motif or essence of a myth, a term often associated with the Claude Lévi-Strauss, the French ethnologist and anthropologist.

Mythíamvi - (mythiamboi; Gr. μυθίαμβοι, ΜΥΘΙΑΜΒΟΙ. Noun.) a collection of fables, such as those of Aisohpos (Aesop; Gr. Αἴσωπος), in contrast to a collection of myths such as those of Apollódohros (Ἀπολλόδωρος).

Mythographía - (Gr. μυθογραφία, ΜΥΘΟΓΡΑΦΙΑ. Noun.) the art or execution of writing or compiling myths.

Mythographer - (English) The mythographer is the individual who collects and writes down the mythological stories. Sometimes the mythographer also invents the stories, but this is not generally the case in ancient Greece, with a few exceptions (Plátohn [Πλάτων] does not present the Myth of Er as an actual myth from great antiquity, but, rather, he created the story to illustrate a point.).

Mythográphos - (Gr. μυθογράφος, ΜΥΘΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ. Noun.) compiler or writer of myths. Cf. Mythólogos.

Mytholǽskhis - (mytholesches; Gr. μυθολέσχης, ΜΥΘΟΛΕΣΧΗΣ. Noun) compiler or writer of myths.  

- Cf. Mythólogos.

Mythologǽoh - (mythologeo; Gr. μυθολογέω, ΜΥΘΟΛΟΓΕΩ. Verb.) to tell the mythic stories.

Mythology - (Etym. μυθολογία "storytelling": μῦθος "story" + λόγος "reckoning") Mythology is a type of story and, also, mythology is the study of these stories. In its narrowest meaning, mythology is the group of stories about the Gods and, as such, is sacred narrative. When used more generally, mythology can also include stories about people and places connected with the Gods and the history of a race of people. Mythology can be somewhat difficult to define in Hellenic studies because all of the culture in antiquity was intertwined with religion. Mythology is usually separated from legend and fable as being stories of a different kind, while all three categories may be classified as part of the folklore of the people.

Mythology in Ællinismós is the body of literature which tells of the origin and activity of the Gods and Heroes; it explains the functioning of our world and the way in which we interact with Nature and with Deity. Some of the mythology tells the stories of how the Greek people arose and founded cities and lineages, but these peoples were deeply intertwined with our religion, so there is an intimate connection with the Gods. Cf. FableFolkloreLegendMärchenSagen.

Mythólogos - (Gr. μυθόλογος, ΜΥΘΟΛΟΓΟΣ. Noun.) one who tells the stories in the myths.

- Cf. Mythográphos

Mytholoyía - (Mythology; Gr. μυθολογία, ΜΥΘΟΛΟΓΙΑ. Noun.) Mytholoyía is the general word for storytelling and legends.

Mytholóyima - (mythologema; Gr. μυθολόγημα, ΜΥΘΟΛΟΓΗΜΑ. Noun.) mythic story.

Mythoplástis - (mythoplastes; Gr. μυθοπλάστης, ΜΥΘΟΠΛΑΣΤΗΣ. Noun.) inventor of mythic stories.

Mýthos - (Gr. μῦθος, ΜΥΘΟΣ. Noun.) wordspeech, a tale, a story.

Nævróömai - (nebroömae; Gr. νεβρόομαι, ΝΕΒΡΟΟΜΑΙ. Verb.) transformed into a faun.

Nævrós - (nebros; Gr. νεβρός, ΝΕΒΡΟΣ. Noun. Also ἔλαφος.) the deer, sacred to the Ártæmis and Diónysos. The deer is symbolic of a divine being. Aktaiohn (Ἀκταίων) was transformed into a stag and then devoured by his own hunting dogs.

Nebroömae - See Nævróömai.

Nebros - See Nǽvros.

Oinos - (wine; Gr. οἶνος, ΟΙΝΟΣ. Noun.) When oinos or wine is found in the mythology, it can be one of several things. Wine may literally be wine, the fermented juice of the grape, but often when the story is connected to the mythology of Diónysos, wine is symbolic of the divine Aithír (Αἰθήρ), which is the influence of Zefs (Ζεύς) on the soul. The Jovian Aithír intoxicates the soul and to the ancients, this reminded them of wineOinos is also a name of Diónysos and the mention of wine can indicate his presence, for Diónysos is the action of Zefs on Earth. When we use dark, sweet red wine in ritual, we bring this mythology into our religion, for wine represents the blood, the Ikhóhr (Ιχώρ), of Diónysos; as we drink the wine, we share in divinity.

Öón - (ōon; Gr. ᾠόν, ΩΙΟΝ. Noun. Plural: ᾠά.) Öón, the egg, is a major symbol in the iconography of ancient Greece. The egg is a symbol of both the soul of an individual as well as the soul of the Kózmos. It is a symbol of the Mystíria (Mystery Religion; Gr. Μυστήρια) and is, therefore, often referred to as the Orphic egg. The egg is also a symbol of the omphalós (ὀμφαλός), i.e. the naval, of the world, and there is a large stone öón at Dælphí (Delphi; Gr. Δελφοί). This vaitylos (baetylus or sacred stone; Gr. βαίτυλος) is also symbolic of the stone given by Rǽa (Ῥέα) to Krónos (Κρόνος) when Zefs (Ζεύς) was born. We find numerous (i.e., eggs, plural) on statues of Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις) at Ǽphæsos (Ἔφεσος), appearing like many breasts; these are symbolic of the souls she hunted with her dogs.

Óphis - (Gr. ὄφις, ΟΦΙΣ. Noun.) Óphis or the snake is a symbol of Earth. When a snake sheds its skin, this is symbolic of immortality. Other ancient words can be used to designate the snake, and there are mythological creatures who bear their names: Drákohn (Δράκων) and Ǽkhidna (Ἔχιδνα). There is the serpent-God Ophíohn (Ὀφίων) or Ophionéfs (Ὀφιονεύς) who is sometimes depicted as a snake wound around an egg or around the body of Phánis (Φάνης).

Origin myth - The origin myth is an etiological story, a myth which explains how specific cities, peoples, or individuals came to exist. The term can also apply to stories which relate the origin of phenomena of the natural world or even explanations of how customs, social behavior, and institutions came about. Cf. Aitioloyía and Creation Myth.

Panther – See Párdalis.

Párdalis – (Gr. πάρδαλις, ΠΑΡΔΑΛΙΣ) a leopard or panther. Diónysos is often seen in iconography riding on the back of this animal. Often members of his entourage will be wearing leopard skins (παρδαληφόρον δέρος): Kǽntavri (Κένταυροι), Sátyri (Σάτυροι), Mainádæs (Μαινάδες), etc.

Pig - See Ys.

Pine-cone Staff – See Thýrsos.

Plow and Ploughing – See Árotron.

Pomegranate - See Róa.

Rape by a God - See Sex with a God.

Róa - (Gr. ῥόα, ΡΟΑ. Noun.) the pomegranate, the same word used for both the tree and its fruit. In the mythology, the pomegranate may indicate reference to the Mystiria of Dimítir (Demeter; Gr Δημήτηρ) and Pærsæphóni (Persephone; Gr. Περσεφόνη) as indicated in the Homeric hymn to Dimítir (2). In the hymn, Ploutohn offers some pomegranate seeds to Pærsæphóni, thereby requiring her return to his realm for the winter portion of every year. Ploutohn is connected with the wealth and verdure of the earth, so the róa signifies richness and fertility, which is the origin of why, even in modern Greece, the fruit is broken at a wedding or at the door of a new home. According to Pafsanías (Παυσανίας), a pomegranate is found on a statue of Íra (Ἥρᾱ), about which he must be silent, for the meaning he says is a mystery (2.17.4), and there are other connections of this fruit to the Goddess.

Rópalon - (Gr. ῥόπαλον, ΡΟΠΑΛΟΝ. Noun.) You can identify Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς) on pottery if you see a figure wielding a rópalon, which is a club or cudgel. (Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη 2.4.11). Cf. Læontí.

Sagen - (German) Sagen is a term used by scholars to refer to legendsagen is told as true stories about actual people (though embellished with fictional elements) and it is contrasted with märchen or fairy-tales, stories which are not expected to be understood as factual. Cf. FableFolkloreLegendMärchen, and Mythology

Season of AphrodítiThe season of Aphrodíti is the time for sowing seed. (Έπιγένης The Poetry of Orphéfs as discussed in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Semigod - See Imíthæos.

Sex with a God - When mythology tells a story of a mortal having sex with a God or being "raped" by a God, this indicates that the mortal is receiving an enormous influence from the deity and is undergoing a great transformation. Sexual activity of many kinds by primordial deities such as Ouranós (Οὐρανός) and Yaia (Γαῖα), Krónos (Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Ῥέα), and Zefs (Ζεύς) and Íra (Ήρα) are examples of the generative activity of the Gods in the formation of the Kózmos (Κόσμος).

Shadowless – See Askíon.

Shadowy – See Katáskion

Ship - The ship is sometimes used to symbolize the vehicle of the soul. Likewise, a chariot, a horse, or similar moving things are used in the mythology with the same symbolism.

Skýlax - (sculax; Gr. σκύλαξ, ΣΚΥΛΑΞ. Noun.) the dog, a young dog or puppy. The dog represents the Agathós Daimohn (Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων), the soul of someone who loves and guards each mortal person, the good soul of a person who has given up a life to protect someone they love, something like a "guardian angel." They are the dogs of Ártæmis (Ἄρτεμις), who uses them to help her hunt down the beautiful souls, and they are the dogs of Ækáti (Ἑκάτη), who uses them to deliver the prayers of mortals to the Gods.

Snake - See Óphis.

Sphinx – (Gr. Σφίγξ, ΣΦΙΓΞ. Noun.) The Sphinx is most commonly thought of as an Egyptian symbol, but the Sphinx figures prominently in Greek iconography and mythology. In our tradition, most generally, the Sphinx is symbolic of the deified soul. Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς (Στρώματα V.8), quoting ancient sources, says that the Sphinx is the spiritual tone which binds and pervades the world, and that it is Aithír which tethers the Kózmos together and permeates everything. Later in the same text, he says that the Sphinx is the harmony of the world.

Stákhys - (stachys; Gr. στάχυς, ΣΤΑΧΥΣ. Noun, singular and plural.) Stákhys are ears of wheat or grain, frequently found in the arms of Dimítir (Δημήτηρ), representative of her giving agriculture to mankind.

Sun – See Damnamænéfs.

Sýmvolon - (symbolon; Gr. σύμβολον, ΣΥΜΒΟΛΟΝ. Noun.) Sýmvolon, is symbol. When the term sýmvolon or symbol is used in mythology, it refers to something which is incomplete in itself, without it's 'other half' to provide recognition of its meaning. Originally, the σύμβολον consisted of two halves of an ἀστράγαλος (knucklebone) or other object, which two parties in a contract broke between them as evidence of identity.

Tætrás – (tetras; Gr. τετράς, ΤΕΤΡΑΣ. Noun.) Tætrás is the number four but it is symbolic of the year, according to Androkýdis (Ἀνδροκύδης) the Pythagorean, referring to the seasons (Εἶαρ [spring], Θέρος [summer], Φθινόπωρον [autumn], and Χειμών [winter]. (Ἀνδροκύδης as told in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Távros - (Taurus; Gr. ταῦρος, ΤΑΥΡΟΣ. Noun.) Távros or the bull is sometimes used to represent Zefs (Ζεύς), Poseidóhn (Ποσειδῶν), Diónysos (Διόνυσος), or the power of Nous(Νοῦς, Mind).

Tears of Krónos – The Pythagoreans poetically describe the Sea as the Tears of Krónos. (Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Tears of Zefs – By the tears of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) is meant a rain shower. (Έπιγένης The Poetry of Orphéfs as discussed in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Theodicy - Theodicy is an explanation of why there is evil in the world. The term can apply to myths which serve this function as well as more general and even scholastic explanations. The etymology of the word (θεός “divinity” + δίκη “justice”) refers to divine justice and a theodicy attempts to answer the question, "Why is there evil in a world which is the dominion of deity?" 

Thæogonía - (theogony; Gr. θεογονία, ΘΕΟΓΟΝΙΑ. Noun. Θεοί "Gods" + γέννα "birth.") story telling the genealogy or birth of the Gods

Theriomorphic Deity - (from the Gr. θηριόμορφος, "in the form of a beast." Etym. θηρίον "beast" + μορφή "form.") In some myths, a God will appear in the form of an animal; such a manifestation is called theriomorphic. An example of such a myth would be the seduction of Lída (Λήδα) by Zefs (Ζεύς) who appeared to her in the form of a swan.

Thunderbolt - See Kæravnós.

Thýrsos – (thyrsus; Gr. θύρσος, ΘΥΡΣΟΣ. Noun.) the staff of Diónysos and his followers. It consists of a long piece of giant fennel. At its tip is a pine-cone and about an inch or so below this is tied a decorative ribbon (ταινία). This alone is how the thýrsos is usually depicted but sometimes you will see a very large pine-cone with little bunches of grapes intertwined in the scales. Fertility and abundance is the symbolism. The thýrsos is a phallic symbol. In the Διονυσιακά of Νόννος we find the thýrsos also being used as a weapon.

Torch - See Lampás.

Tortoise - See Khælóhni.

Trágos – (Gr. τράγος, ΤΡΑΓΟΣ. Noun.) The trágos is a he-goat, an animal associated with Diónysos and the Mysteries. Many Orphic gold tablets have written some variant of “a goat, I fell into the milk.”

Tríaina - (Gr. τρίαινα, ΤΡΙΑΙΝΑ. Noun.) the trident, the three-pronged spear or scepter of Poseidóhn (Ποσειδῶν) by which he can cause earthquakes, sea-storms, and crack rocks. The tríaina is a symbol which may be used to represent the God, the emperor of the Sea and the Middle Sky.

Trickster - A lovable figure in world mythology is the trickster, a clever character who operates outside the realm of accepted convention and who plays tricks on both Gods and men in what are usually amusing stories. Although many may disagree, it seems that there is no character in Greek mythology who neatly fits into this category.

The mighty Titán (Τιτάν) Promithéfs (Προμηθεύς) has been given the name of trickster because he deceived Zefs in the story of the bones and fat offerings (Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία [Theogony] 545-557) and also for his stealing fire for the benefit of mankind (Isíodos Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι 42-53), but his character seems more bent on compassion for humans, who are his creation, rather than on playing senseless tricks; ultimately, Promithéfs, rather than being a trickster, has a character of abundant majesty and nobility, for he is the great friend of mankind, willing to suffer deeply on our account. 

It is frequently said that Ǽrmís (Ἑρμῆς) is a trickster, largely because of the story of his stealing the cattle of Apóllohn (Ἀπόλλων) in the Homeric hymn which bears his name (hymn 4), and for which he is called the patron of thieves and liars. This myth is an amusing story of a just-born deity; while it does set a tone to his being clever, it does not address the totality of his character. The lying of Ǽrmís addresses the necessity to step outside of convention if demanded by circumstances. For instance, if someone is coming to kill a person in your home, it is necessary to lie and say that you do not know their whereabouts. This could be regarded as a trickster characteristic, but the behavior of a trickster is usually thought of as self-centered and without conscience, qualities unthinkable in an Olympian deity. Ǽrmís appears in some fables of Aisohpos (Αἴσωπος) which have the flavor of the trickster, but other than these few examples, the bulk of stories concerning Ǽrmís portray him as eloquent of speech and noble of character and in the service of Zefs (Ζεύς) as a divine messenger. If any character from Greek mythology fits the role of the trickster, it should likely go to the son of Ǽrmís, Aftólykos (Αὐτόλυκος), who seems to use these qualities of his father but in a less noble fashion, at least according to Hyginus.

Trident - See Tríaina.

Turtle - See Khælóhni.

Vǽdi - (Bedu; Gr. βέδυ, ΒΕΔΥ. Noun. βέδυἈήρVǽdi is water, or the mystic water (or misty air) of the Nymphs. (Orphic Frag. 219 Kern) Vǽdi has also been called air by Νεάνθης of Κύζικος, and fire also. From the perspective of the Mystíria, these three, Water-Aithír-Fire, are all Synækhís Ousía (Συνεχής Οὐσία), the continuous substance.

Vótrys – (Botrys; Gr. βότρυς, ΒΟΤΡΥΣ. Noun.) A vótrys is a bunch of grapes. In vase paintings and sculpture of Diónysos, he is wearing bunches of grapes in his hair. The grape is used to make wine and the wine is symbolic of the Aithír (Αἰθήρ) of Zefs (Ζεύς) which intoxicates and transforms the soul. The presence of bunches of grapes indicates followers of the God as well and the practice of the Mysteries.

Water - See Vǽdi.

Weaving, symbolism of – According to Κλήμης (Clement) Ἀλεξανδρεύς (of Alexandria) in Στρώματα V.8., Orphéfs (Orpheus) used weaving terminology to symbolize agricultural things. He meant by “curved rods” (κεραίσι) ploughs. By the “warp” (στήμοσι) of the loom he meant furrows in the field. The “woof” (μίτος) are the seeds. Of course the agricultural things are themselves symbolic of yet deeper things. (Έπιγένης The Poetry of Orphéfs as discussed in Κλήμης Ἀλεξανδρεύς Στρώματα V.8.)

Wheat-ears - See Stákhys.

Wine - See Oinos.

Year – See Tætrás.

Ypónia - (hyponoia; Gr. ὑπόνοια, ΥΠΟΝΟΙΑ. Noun.) Ypónia is the interpretation of myth, to uncover its hidden and deeper meaning. According to Πλούταρχος, ypónia is the older term, later replaced by alligoría. The word ὑπόνοια literally means “a guess, suggestion, or hint,” having the connotation that a deeper meaning is concealed by the obvious meaning. Cf. Alligoría.

 Ys - (us; Gr. ὗς, ΥΣ. Noun. Pronounced: ees.) Ys is the ancient Greek word for pig. In ancient times, the pig was viewed as an erotic animal and, therefore, it is the mystical symbol of Ǽrohs (Ἔρως), and, for this reason the pig was sacrificed during the Mystíria of Ælefsís (Ἐλευσίς).

Please also visit the main page on ancient Greek mythology: Mythology in Hellenismos

The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

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 

, 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: 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: 

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