Echidna (mythology)

Echidna (mythology)

In the most ancient layers of Greek mythology Echidna (Greek: Ἔχιδνα) ("ekhis" (ἔχις), meaning "she viper") was called the "Mother of All Monsters". Echidna was described by Hesiod as a female monster spawned in a cave, who mothered with her mate Typhoeus (or Typhon) every major horrible monster in the Greek myths,

"the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, terrible smelling, with greasy skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth. And there she has a cave deep down under a hollow rock far from the deathless gods and mortal men. There, then, did the gods appoint her a glorious house to dwell in: and she keeps guard in Arima beneath the earth, grim Echidna, a nymph who dies not nor grows old all her days." —— ("Theogony", 295-305)
Usually considered offspring of Tartarus and Gaia, or of Ceto and Phorcys (according to Hesiod) or of Chrysaor and the naiad Callirhoe, or Peiras and Styx (according to Pausanias, who did not know who Peiras was aside from her father), her face and torso of a beautiful woman was depicted as winged in archaic vase-paintings, but always with the body of a serpent (see also Lamia). She is also sometimes described as having two serpent's tails. Karl Kerenyi noted an archaic vase-painting with a pair of echidnas performing sacred rites in a vineyard, while on the opposite side of the vessel, goats were attacking the vines (Kerenyi 1951, p 51f): chthonic Echidna as protector of the vineyard perhaps.

The site of her cave, Arima, Homer calls "the couch of Typhoeus" ("Iliad", II.783). When she and her mate attacked the Olympians, Zeus beat them back and punished Typhon by sealing him under Mount Etna. However, Zeus allowed Echidna and her children to live as a challenge to future heroes. She was an immortal and ageless nymph to Hesiod ("Theogony" above), but was killed where she slept by Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed giant. [http://www.theoi.com/Text/Apollodorus2.html#1 Apollodorus, Library 2] Accessed June 14, 2008.]

Typhon and Echidna's offsprings

The offspring of Typhon and Echidna were:Fact|date=February 2007
# Nemean Lion
# Ladon
# Chimera
# Sphinx
# Lernaean Hydra
# Cerberus
# OrthrusSome sourcesFact|date=February 2007 also include the Gorgons and the Graeae as her children. Hesiod claims that Sphinx and the Nemean Lion were her children by her son, Orthrus. It is also believed that the eagle (some say vulture) that ate Prometheus' liver was also born to Echidna, though this has never been proven.

According to Herodotus (III.108), Hercules had three children by her:
# Agathyrsus
# Gelonus
# Scytha/Scylla

ee also

* Echidna, a monotreme mammal of Australia and New Guinea named after the mythological monster.

References

* [http://www.loggia.com/myth/echidna.html Mythography article]
* Kark Kerenyi, 1951. "The Gods of the Greeks" (Thames and Hudson)
* [http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/1111.html Echidna] in the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Echidna (disambiguation) — Echidna may refer to:Animals: * Echidnas, a.k.a. spiny anteaters, a family of Australian monotremes * Echidna (genus), a genus of moray eels * A junior synonym for Bitis , a genus of African vipersEntertainment: * A character in the video game… …   Wikipedia

  • echidna — /i kid neuh/, n. Also called spiny anteater. any of several insectivorous monotremes of the genera Tachyglossus, of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, and Zaglossus, of New Guinea, that have claws and a slender snout and are covered with coarse …   Universalium

  • Echidna — Taxobox name = EchidnasMSW3 Groves|pages=p. 1 2|id=10300002] image caption = Western Long beaked Echidna regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Monotremata familia = Tachyglossidae familia authority = Gill, 1872 subdivision …   Wikipedia

  • Echidna —    From Greek mythology, this monster is half nymph and half snake. She is not immortal, but never grows old. She is also the mother of many monsters in Greek mythology, including the Sphinx, Chimera and Cerberus …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • ECHIDNA —    a fabulous monster that figures in the Greek mythology, half woman, half serpent, the mother of Cerberus, the Lernean Hydra, the Chimæra, the Sphinx, the Gorgons, the Nemean Lion, the vulture that gnawed the liver of Prometheus, &c …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Chimera (mythology) — The Chimera on a red figure Apulian plate, ca 350–340 BC (Musée du Louvre) For other uses of the term chimera, see Chimera (disambiguation). The Chimera or Chimaera ( …   Wikipedia

  • Drakaina (mythology) — In Greek mythology, a drakaina (Greek: δράκαινα) is a female dragon, sometimes with human like features. Examples included Campe, Ceto, Delphyne, Echidna, Scylla, Lamia (or Sybaris), Poine, and Python (when represented as female). Python, slain… …   Wikipedia

  • Dragons in Greek mythology — Topics in Greek mythology Gods Primordial gods and Titans Zeus and the Olympians Pan and the nymphs Apollo and Dionysus Sea gods and Earth gods Heroes Heracles and his Labors Achilles and the Trojan War …   Wikipedia

  • Gaia (mythology) — Infobox Greek deity Caption = Name = Gaia God of = Goddess of the Earth Abode = Earth Symbol = Consort = Uranus Parents = Chaos Siblings= Children=Uranus, Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion Mount = Roman equivalent = TerraGaia (pronEng|ˈgeɪə or… …   Wikipedia

  • Crow (Australian Aboriginal mythology) — In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Crow is a trickster, culture hero and ancestral being. In the Kulin nation in central Victoria he was known as Waa (also Wahn or Waang) and was regarded as one of two moiety ancestors, the other bein …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”