The Ancient Library

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On this page: Medimnus – Medus – Medusa – Megaera – Megalesia – Megara – Megaron – Megasthenes – Mela – Melampus




priestess of Artemis, promises to deliver the country from the barrenness that is oppress­ing it, on condition the supposed son of her mortal enemy is given into her power. When this is done, she recognises her son, who with her aid kills Perses and takes possession of his grandfather's realm. The Greeks looked on Medus as the progenitor of the Medes. According to one legend, Medea became the wife of Achilles in Elysium, as did Helen according to another. At Corinth she was deemed immortal, and regarded as a benefactress of the city, which she was alleged to have delivered from a famine. Elsewhere, she was merely re­garded as an ancient queen. Her seven sons and seven daughters were killed by Corinthian women at the altar of Hera, on account of which a pestilence ravaged the town, and an oracular decree ordained that an annual expiatory offering should be made. This was observed until the destruc­tion of the town.

MSdimnus. A Greek measure of capacity, six times as large as the Roman modius, and in English about lj bushel. Its prin­cipal subdivisions were the chcenix (,V)) xestes (jL), cotjjle, (T^), cydtfius (TTV¥).

Medus. Son of ./Egeus and Medea (q.v.).

Medusa. One of the Gorgons, whose head was cut off by Perseus (q.v.). (See also gorgo.)

Megaera. One of the Greek goddesses of vengeance. (See erinyes.)

Jtegalesia. A Roman festival in honour of Rhea (q.v.).

Megara. Daughter of the Theban king Creon, wife of Heracles (q.v.), afterwards married by him to lolaus.

MSgaron. In many Greek temples a space divided off and sometimes subter­ranean, which only the priest was allowed to enter. (See temple.)

M6gasth6nes. A Greek historian, who stayed for a considerable time, as ambas­sador of king Seleucus Nlcator, at the court of the Indian king Sandracus (b.c. 315-291), at Palibothra on the Ganges. From infor­mation about the country and the people, obtained while he occupied that position, he compiled a historical and geographical work about India, the chief treatise on that country left us by the ancients. On it are founded the accounts of Diodorus and Arrian; beyond this only fragments are preserved. His record of the state of India at the time has been discredited ; but recent investigations have to a great extent shown its trustworthiness.

Mela, See pomponius.

Jtelampus. Son of Amythaon (see Moujs, 1) and of Eidomene; brother of Bias, the oldest Greek seer, and ancestor of the family of seers called Melampodidae. The brothers went with their uncle Neleus from Thessaly to Pylus in Messenia, where they dwelt in the country. Melampus owed his gift of soothsaying to some serpents, which he had saved from death and reared, and who in return cleansed his ears with their tongues when he slept; on awaking he understood the voices of birds, and thus learnt what was secret. When Neleus would only give Bias his beautiful daughter Pero on condition that he first brought him the oxen of Iphiclus of Phylace in Thessaly, which were guarded by a watch­ful dog, Melampus offered to fetch the oxen for his brother, though he knew beforehand that he would be imprisoned for a year. He is caught in the act of stealing them, and kept in strict confinement. From the talk of the worms in the woodwork of the roof he gathers that the house will soon fall to pieces. He thereupon demands to be taken to another prison ; this is scarcely done, when the house breaks down. When, on account of this, Phylacus, father of Iphiclus, perceives his prophetic gifts, he promises him the oxen, if by his art he will find out some way of curing his son's childlessness. Melampus offers a bull to Zeus, cuts it in pieces, and invites the birds to the meal. From these he hears that a certain vulture, that had not come, knew how it could be effected. This vulture is made to appear, and relates, that the defect in Iphiclus was the result of a sudden fright at seeing a bloody knife, with which his father had been castrating some goats; he had dug the knife into a tree, which had grown round about it; if he took some of the rust scraped off it, for ten days, he would be cured. Melampus finds the knife, cures Iphiclus, obtains the oxen, and Bias receives Pero for his wife. Afterwards he went to Argos, because, according to Homer [Od. xv 225-240] Neleus had com­mitted a serious offence against him in his absence, for which he had taken re­venge ; while, according to the usual ac­count, he had been asked by king Prostus to heal his daughter, stricken with madness for acting impiously towards Dionysus or Hera. He had stipulated that his reward should be a third of the kingdom for him­self, another for Bias; besides which Iphlanassa became his wife, and Lysippe"

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