The Ancient Library

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On this page: Nephele – Nepos – Neptunus – Nereids – Nereus



Astyannx, down from the walls, and offered up Polyxena upon his father's tomb. In Homer he arrives safely with much booty at Phthia, his father's home, and weds Menelans' daughter Hermione, who was promised him during the siege of Troy [Od. iv 5]. Later legend represents him as accompanied by Andromache, Hector's wife, who is allotted him as part of his booty, and Helenus, and then, on the strength of a prophecy of Helenas, as going to Epirus and settling there. It was to a son of his by Lanassa, granddaughter of Heracles, that the later kings of Epirus traced back their descent, and accordingly styled themselves j£dctda>,; while from his son by AndrS-mache, Molossus, the district of Molossia was said to derive its name. He afterwards went to Phthia, to reinstate his grandfather Peleus in his kingdom (whence he had been expelled by Acastus), and wedded Hermione. He soon, however, met his death at Delphi, whither, ac­cording to one story, he had gone with dedicatory offerings, or, ac­cording to another, to plunder the temple of Apollo in revenge for his father's death. The accounts of his death vary, some attributing it to Orestes, the earlier lover of Hermione; others to the Delphians, at the instance of the Pythian priestess; others again to a quarrel about the meat-offerings.

The scene of his death was the altar, a coincidence which was re­garded as a judgment for his ____ murder of Priam. His tomb was within the precincts of the Delphic temple, and in later times he was worshipped as a hero with annual sacrifices by the Delphians, as he was said to have vouchsafed valuable assistance against the Gauls when they threatened- the sacred spot [b.c. 279, Pausanias, x 23].

Nephele. Wife of Athamas, mother of Phrixus and Helle. (See athamas.)

Nepos. See cornelius (1).

Neptunns. The Italian god of the sea, hus­band of Salacia (the goddess of salt water), identified by the Romans with the Greek Poseidon. This identification dated from 399 b.c., when a Lectisternium was or­dained in his honour by the Sibylline books. Like Poseidon, he was worshipped as god of the sea and of equestrian accom­plishments. As such he had a temple in the Circus Flaminins, whilst in the Circus Maxlmus the old Italian god Census had

an altar in a similar In after times Agrippa built a temple and portico to Neptune on the Field of Mars in honour of his naval victory over Sextus Pompeius and Antonius. A festival of Neptune (Neptunalia), accompanied by games, was celebrated on July 23rd. The old harbour god of the Romans was Portunus (q.v.). See poseidon,

Nereids (Gr. Nereides). The Nymphs of the sea, daughters of Nereus (q.v.) and Doris.

Nereus. The eldest son of Pontus and Gaea, husband of Doris, daughter of Oceanus, father of 50 (according to a later account, 200) beautiful Sea-nymphs, the Nereids. He is described as a venerable old man, of a kindly disposition towards mortals, and as dwelling in a resplendent cave in the depths of the ^Egean.


(Naples Museum.)

Like all gods of water, he has the gift of prophecy and of transforming himself into any shape he chooses to assume. He is represented as an old man with the leaves of seaweed for hair and a sceptre or trident. His daughters are likewise benevolent beings, well disposed to mortals. They live with their father in the depths, but rise to the surface in order to amuse themselves with every kind of pastime and to assist sailors in distress. They were especially worshipped on the islands, on the coasts, and at the mouths of rivers, and were depicted in works of art as charming maidens, sometimes lightly clothed, some­times naked, often riding on dolphins and Tritons (see cut). The Nereids most often mentioned in mythology are Amphitrite and Thetis, with Galatea.

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