The Ancient Library

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On this page: Hecataeus – Hecate – Hecatombe – Hecantoncheires



fication of youthful manhood. As repre­senting the eternal youth of the Roman State, luventas had a chapel on the Capitol in the front court of the temple of Minerva, and in later times a temple of her own in the city. It was to Jupiter and Juventas that boys offered prayer on the Capitol when they put on the tftga virllis, putting a piece of money into their treasury.

H6catseus. A Greek IQgographfts or chronicler, born of a noble family at Miletus, about 550 b.c. In his youth he travelled widely in Europe and Asia, as well as in Egypt. At the time of the Ionian revolt he was in his native city, and gave his countrymen the wisest counsels, but in vain. After the suppression of the rising, he succeeded by his tact and management in obtaining some alleviation of the hard measures adopted by the Persians. He died about 476. The ancient critics assigned him a high place among the Greek historians who preceded Herodotus, though pronouncing him inferior to the latter. His two works, of which only fragments remain, were : (1) A descrip­tion of the earth, which was much consulted by Herodotus, and was apparently used to correct the chart of Anaximander; and (2) a treatise on Greek fables, entitled Genealogies.

H6cate. A Greek goddess, perhaps of non-Hellenic origin. She is unknown to Homer, but in Hesiod she is the only daughter of the Titan Perses and of Asteria, the sister of Leto. She stands high in the regard of Zeus, from whom she has received a share in the heaven, earth, and ocean. She is invoked at all sacrifices, for she can give or withhold her blessing in daily life, in war, in contests on the sea, in the hunting field, in the education of children, and in the tending of cattle. Thus she appears as a personification of the divine power, and is the instrument through which the gods effect their will, though themselves far away. In later times she was confused with Persephone, the queen of the lower world, or associated with her. Sometimes she was regarded as the goddess of the moon or as Artemis, sometimes she was identified with foreign deities of the game kind. Being conceived as a goddess of night and of the lower world, she was, as time went on, transformed into a deity of ghosts and magic. She was represented as haunting crossways and graves, accom­panied by the dogs of the Styx, with the spirits of the dead and troops of spectral

forms in her train. She lends powerful aid to all magical incantations and witches' work. All enchanters and enchantresses are her disciples and proUgis; Medea in particular is regarded as her servant. She was worshipped in private and in public in many places, for instance Samothrace, Thessaly, Lemuos, Athens, and jEgina. Her


(Rome, Capitoline Museum.)

images were set up in the front of houses and by the road-side, with altars in front of them, and a roof above them. On the last day of the month, which was sacred to her, offerings were made to her in the crossways of eggs, fish, and onions. The victims sacrificed to her were young dogs and black she-lambs and honey.

In works of art she is usually portrayed in three forms, represented by three atatues standing back to back. Each form has its special attributes, torches, keys, daggers, snakes, and dogs. In the GZgantdmachia of PergamSn she appears with a different weapon in her three right hands, a torch, a sword, and a lance. (See pergamene sculptures.)

Hecatombe (Greek). The original mean­ing of the word was a sacrifice of a hundred oxen; but in early times it was applied generally to any great sacrifice, without any idea either of oxen or a definite number. Such great sacrifices were especially common in the worship of Zeus and Hera.

H6cit6ncheir6s (" the hundred-handed ones "). In Hesiod they are three giants, each with a hundred arms and fifty hands.

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