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Hermes

Greek The winged messenger of the Greek gods; son of Zeus and Maia (1). Hermes is also associated with fertility, and is god of flocks, roads, trading, and thieves. Hermes was the inventor of the lyre and the guide of souls on the way to Hades. He was the father of many, including Autolycus, Daphnis, and Hermaphroditus. In Roman mythology, he is known as...

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Hermaphroditus

Greek The son of Aphrodite and Hermes, brought up by nymphs on Mount Ida (2), in Crete. One of the nymphs, Salmacis, fell in love with Hermaphroditus but he scorned her. Salmacis prayed to be joined with him forever in one body. The gods answered her prayers, for when she finally clasped him to her their two bodies became one. In terms of mythological...

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Hercules

Roman A god, closely associated with the Greek hero Heracles. Ancient Romans also saw Hercules as the patron and guardian of merchants and soldiers. He was a helper to those in need and protected men at sea from danger and disease. A shrine to Hercules stood on the edge of the Palatine Hill in Rome. He was honored in the Roman festival calendar on...

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Herbs

Greek The mythic power of herbs to transform people and to restore life to the dead features prominently in several Greek myths. Gaia, the Earth Mother, the oldest goddess in Greek mythology, found an herb that would protect the Gigantes (Giants), some of her children, in their war with the Olympian gods. Zeus, the supreme god among the Olympians, who were themselves descendants of Gaia,...

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Heracles

(Herakles; Glory of Hera) Greek The greatest hero of Greek mythology, he was called Hercules by the Romans. Heracles was the son of the god Zeus and of a mortal, Alcmene, who was the wife of Amphitryon of Thebes. Both Alcmene and Amphitryon were descendants of the hero Perseus. Heracles was a superman and demigod and a supreme athlete but at the same time...

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Hera

(Lady) Greek Queen of Olympus, sister and wife of Zeus, daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Known as Juno by the Romans. Mother of Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus, and Eileithya. The patroness of marriage, Hera was the goddess most concerned with the welfare of women and children. Hera was an ancient goddess, existing long before the new gods, including Zeus. Her original name is unknown: Hera is...

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Hephaestus

Greek The god of craftsmen, especially smiths, and of fire; called "the divine artificer." In some accounts, Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera, in some of Hera alone. The Romans gave his attributes and stories to Vulcan. Hephaestus was lame from birth and not as handsome as the other gods on Olympus. Some myths say Zeus or Hera flung him from Mount...

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Hemera

(Day, Daylight) Greek The daughter of Nyx (Night) and Erebus (Darkness); sister of Ether (Air). Mother and daughter lived in the same dwelling. At sunset, Hemera met her mother in the distant West, the realm of Atlas, where that god held up the Earth. There they exchanged places, Hemera entering the home they lived in and Nyx spreading her darkness over the world. At...

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Hellespont

(Dardanelles) Greek The long narrow channel or strait leading from the Aegean Sea into the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. It was an important trade route for ships traveling between Asia and Europe. There were many battles and wars for control of this channel, the most famous of which was the Trojan War. The Hellespont got its name from legends that say Helle,...

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Hellenization

Greek The processes of spreading the influence of Greek mythology, philosophy, language, and culture to societies and cultures that came in contact with the people of ancient Greece. In Greek and Roman mythology, Hellenization refers to the process by which the people of Rome and central Europe, and eventually the Roman Empire, adapted and adopted the myths of Greece as their own, though often giving...

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Hellen

Greek The son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, survivors of the Flood. He was the father of Aeolus, Dorus, and Xuthus and through them the patriarch of all the Hellenes, who were also known as Greeks....

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Helle

Greek Daughter of Athamas and Nephele; sister of Phrixus. Helle and her brother fled from Ino, their stepmother, on the back of the winged ram with the famed Golden Fleece, which Hermes sent to them. One story has it that Helle fell from the air and drowned at a place in the ocean that came to be called the Hellespont in her honor,...

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Helios

(Helius) (The sun god) Greek Helios was husband to Rhodos, the Nymph of the island of Rhodes, which he chose as his favored abode. Their children—Circe, Acetes, and Phaeton—were the first inhabitants of Rhodes. Helios is usually depicted as a charioteer who drove the Sun across the Earth from east to west each day. Helios was all-seeing and often called upon as a witness...

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Helicon, Mount

Greek The highest mountain in Boeotia, in the southern part of the Greek mainland. It was celebrated in Greek mythology as the haunt of the nine muses. The poet Hesiod lived on the slopes of Mount Helicon. In later mythology, the spring of Hippocrene, created when the winged horse Pegasus stamped his hoof, flowed just below the summit....

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Helenus

Greek Son of Priam and Hecuba; brother of Paris, Hector, and Cassandra. With his sister, Helenus shared the gift of prophecy. In Homer's Iliad, Helenus gives good advice to Hector, leader of the Trojans in the Trojan War. In the play Andromache, by Euripides, Helenus weds his fellow captive Andromache after the fall of Troy. In some accounts, Helenus becomes king of Epirus. In...

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Helen

Greek Daughter of Zeus and Leda, said to have been born from an egg, since Zeus came to Leda and mated with her disguised as a swan. Often called Helen of Troy, Helen was in fact from Sparta. She was the sister of the Dioscuri (Castor and Polydeuces) and of Clytemnestra. She became the wife of Menelaus, king of Troy. Helen was said...

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Hecuba

Greek Wife of King Priam of Troy; daughter of the king of Phrygia; mother of many, among them Hector, leader of the Trojans in the Trojan War, and Paris, whose abduction of Helen was a leading cause of the war. Hecuba was a character in Homer's Iliad and in Euripides' tragedies Hecuba and The Trojan Women....

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Hector

Greek A great hero of the Trojans (see Trojan War); eldest son of Priam, king of Troy, and of Hecuba; brother of Paris, Helenus, and Cassandra; husband of Andromache; father of Astyanax. Hector has very little mythology except in Homer's Iliad. His death, the violation of his body by Achilles, and his magnificent funeral bring the Iliad to an end. There are references to...

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Hecatoncheires

(Hecato nchires) Greek The hundred-handed giants, offspring of Gaia and Uranus. Their names were Briareus, Cottus, and Gyges. They helped Zeus in the war against the Titans. The Hundred-Handed Ones are thought to represent early bands of warriors, who were organized in groups of 100 men. In Latin poetry, their name is Centimani....

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Hecate

Greek A goddess with ancient origins whose traits changed significantly over time; daughter of Perses and Asteria. In her earliest form, Hecate was a goddess of goodwill who gave prosperity and victory to people. She was originally a Titan. In her later forms, Hecate was a powerful goddess of magic and witches. She presided over sorcery and had the power to send spirits of...

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Hebe

Greek Daughter of the gods Zeus and Hera and cupbearer to the gods. She became the wife of the hero Heracles after he was deified and transported to Olympus. Later Hebe was represented as the goddess of youth, with the power to rejuvenate, that is, bring back youth. In Roman mythlogy she is called Juventas (Youth)....

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Harpies

(Swift Robbers) Greek The storm winds; daughters of Electra (3), a sea Nymph, and an ancient sea god, Thaumus; sisters of the goddess of rainbows, Iris. In early stories, the Harpies were shown as beautiful winged women. They were said to appear suddenly and snatch up people and objects and were blamed for sudden disappearances. The Harpies served the great god Zeus, who wielded thunder...

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Harmonia

(Peace) Greek Daughter of Aphrodite and Ares; wife of Cadmus, king of Thebes. All the Olympian Gods attended the wedding of Harmonia and Cadmus. The gods blessed Harmonia with many gifts, including a golden necklace from Aphrodite, made by the smith-god, Hephaestus. The necklace had the power of giving unfading beauty to its wearer, but it would also bring misfortune in the later history of...

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Hades

Greek God of the Underworld, associated in Roman mythology with Pluto, Orcus, and Dis. Hades was the son of Cronus and Rhea, and like his sisters, Demeter, Hera, and Hestia, and his brother Poseidon, was swallowed by Cronus. His brother Zeus escaped and eventually rescued his brothers and sisters from Cronus. After the defeat of Cronus, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades drew lots to see who...

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Greece

Today, a nation in southeastern Europe, part of the Balkan Peninsula. This country's official name is the Hellenic Republic, and the people who live there call their country "Ellas" or "Hellas." These names reflect images of the ancient past of this part of the Mediterranean world. Greek comes from Graeci, the name the Latin-speaking people of Italy gave to colonists from across the Ionian...

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