Hekate - Section C

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I. Parentage of Hekate

Perses & Asteria

1. Hesiod, Theogony 404 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) : "[The Titanis] Asteria (Starry One) of happy name, whom [the Titan] Perses (Destroyer) once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hekate."

2. Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 19 (trans. Evelyn-White) : "Tender-hearted Hekate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaios. "

3. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8 - 9 (trans. Aldrich) : "The Titanes had children… Perses and Asteria of Hekate."

4. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 1035 (trans. Rieu) : "Hekate, Perses’ only daughter (mounogenes)."

5. Lycophron, Alexandra 1174 (trans. Mair) : "The maiden daughter of Perseus, Brimo Trimorphos (the three-formed)."

6. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 45. 1 (trans. Oldfather) : "We are told that Helios (the Sun) had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel. And Perses had a daughter Hekate, who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness."

7. Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 74 (trans. Melville) : "Now to the ancient shrine of Perseis [Hekate, daughter of Perses] she [Medea] made her way."

8. Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 18 (trans. Rackham) : "If you think Latona [Leto] a goddess, how can you not think that Hecate is one, who is the daughter of Latona’s sister Asteria?"

9. Seneca, Medea 812 (trans. Miller) : "I see Trivia’s [Hekate's] swift gliding car… O Perseis [Perses’ daughter]."


1. Bacchylides, Fragment 1B (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) : "Torch-bearing Hekate holy daughter of great-bosomed Nyx (Night)." - 23. [B.40: Bl. 31] Ἑκάτα δαδοφόρε, Νυκτός Μελανοκόλπου θύγατερ.


1. Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 467 : ''[Pherecydes clearly identified Aristaios with the Titan Astraios (the Starry One). Most poets consider Hekate as a daughter of Night in one way or another, be that Asteria (Starry), Astraios (Starry) or Nyx (Night).]

II. Offspring of Hekate

Virgin Goddess

1. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 840 (trans. Rieu) : "The only-begotten Maiden (Koure mounogenes) [Hekate]."

2. Lycophron, Alexandra 1174 (trans. Mair) : "The maiden daughter of Perseus, Brimo Trimorphos [Hekate]."


1. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 827 ff (trans. Rieu) : "[Kirke addresses her niece Medea :] `Nor let them [the Argonauts] go too near the hateful den of Ausonian Skylla, that wicked monster borne to Phorkys by night-wandering Hekate, whom men call Kratais.'"

Kirke & Medea

1, Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 45. 1 (trans. Oldfather) : ”We are told that Helios had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis and the other king of the Tauric Khersonese, …Perses had a daughter Hekate … she married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus."

III. Overview

1. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology : [Hesiod, Theogony]: “Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents. And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hecate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then, albeit her mother's only child, she is honored amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honors.”

2. Hesiod, Theogony 404 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) : "Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods . . . For as many as were born of Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Heaven) [the Titanes] amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Kronos [Zeus] did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her."

3. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 34 - 38 (trans. Aldrich) : "[When the Gigantes made war on the gods of heaven] In the course of the battle… Hekate got [the Gigante] Klytios with fire-brands."

The Rape of Persephone

1. Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 19 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) : "Then she [Persephone] cried out shrilly [as she was seized by the god Haides] with her voice, calling upon her father, the Son of Kronos [Zeus], who is most high and excellent. But no one, either of the deathless gods or mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tender-hearted Hekate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaios, heard the girl from her cave, and the lord Helios (the Sun)… Then for nine days queenly Deo [Demeter] wandered over the earth with flaming torches in her hands, so grieved that she never tasted ambrosia and the sweet draught of nektaros, nor sprinkled her body with water. But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hecate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news: `Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts, what god of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart? For I heard her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was. But I tell you truly and shortly all I know.' So, then, said Hecate. And the daughter of rich-haired Rheia answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding flaming torches in her hands. So they came to Helios (the Sun), who is watchman of both gods and men, and stood in front of his horses: and the bright goddess enquired of him."

2. Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 436 ff : "[After Persephone was returned from the underworld to Demeter :] Then bright-coiffed Hecate came near to them, and often did she embrace the daughter of holy Demeter: and from that time the lady Hecate was minister and companion to Persephone."


1. Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 38. 7 (trans. Jones) : "The hero Eleusis, after whom the city [of Eleusis] is named, some assert to be a son of Hermes and of Daeira [Hekate?], daughter of Okeanos."

2. Propertius, Elegies 2. 29c (trans. Goold) : "Brimo [Hekate?], who as legend tells, by the waters of Boebeis [in Thessalia] laid her virgin body at Mercurius’ [Hermes’] side."


1. Lycophron, Alexandra 1174 ff (trans. Mair) : "The maiden daughter of Perseus, Brimo Trimorphos (Three-formed), shall make thee [Queen Hekabe of Troy] her attendant [after her transformed into a dog], terrifying with thy baying in the night all mortals who worship not with torches the images of Zerynthia [Hekate] queen of Strymon [in Thrake], appeasing the goddess of Pherai with sacrifice. And the island spur of Pakhynos [in Sikelia, Sicily] shall hold thine [Hekabe’s] awful cenotaph, piled by the hands of thy master [Odysseus], prompted by dreams when thou hast gotten the rites of death in front of the streams of Heloros. He [Odysseus] shall pour on the shore offerings for thee, unhappy one, fearing the anger of the three-necked goddess [Hekate], for that he shall hurl the first stone at thy [Hekabe's] stoning and begin the dark sacrifice to Haides."

2. Hyginus, Fabulae 111 (trans. Grant) : "When Ulysses was taking into servitude Hecuba, Priam's wife… she threw herself into the Hellespont, and is said to have been changed into a dog. The place is called Cyneus (of the Dog) from this."

3. Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 430 & 561 ff (trans. Melville) : "Troy fell and Priam too. His ill-starred wife [Hekabe] lost, after all besides her human shape; her weird new barking terrified the breeze on foreign shores where the long Hellespont contracts in narrows… There lie across the strait from Phrygia, where Ilium was, the provinces of Thrace, where Polymestor had his wealthy palace. To him in secret Praim gave in charge his young son Polydorus to be reared . . . When Troy;s fair fortune fell, that wicked king took his sharp sword and slit his charge's throat… Upon the beach cast up she [Hekabe] saw her Polydorus' corpse and the huge wounds the Thracian knives had made… Hecuba, rage linked with grief, oblviious of her years… made her way to Polymestor, author of that foul murder, and sought an audience… She attacked the king and dug her fingers in his eyes, his treacherous eyes, and gouged his eyeballs out… Incensed to see their king's calamity, the Thracians started to attack the queen with sticks and stones, but she snaped at the stones, snarling, and whn her lips were set to grame words and she tried to speak, she barked. The place remains today, named from what happened there [Kynossema, or Dog's Barrow]. Then still remembering her ancient ills, she howled in sorrow through the land of Thrace. That fate of hers stirred pity in the hearts of friend and foe, Trojans and Greeks alike, and all the gods as well--all: Juno [Hera] too, Jove's wife and sister, did herself declare the tragic end of Hecuba unfair."

4. Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.362 ff : "Past the tomb of Paris [in the Troad] buried in the shallow sand; the meadowlands that Maera terrified with monstrous barks [N.B. Ovid connects Hekabe or Hekate with the dog-star Seirios or Maira]."

IV. Identifications


1. Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Frag 71 (from Pausanias 1.43.1) : "I know that Hesiod in the Catalogue of Women represented that Iphigeneia was not killed but, by the will of Artemis, became Hekate."

2. Greek Lyric III Stesichorus, Frag 215 (from Philodemus, Piety) : ”Stesichorus in his Oresteia follows Hesiod and identifies Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia with the goddess called Hekate. “

3. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 1.43.1 : "Now I have heard another account of Iphigenia that is given by Arkadians and I know that Hesiod, in his poem A Catalogue of Women, says that Iphigenia did not die, but by the will of Artemis became Hekate."

4. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 2.22.7 : "[In Argos] near the Lords [shrine of the Dioskouroi] is a sanctuary of Eilethyia, dedicated by Helene when, Theseus having gone away with Peirithoos to Thesprotia, Aphidna had been captured by the Dioskouroi and Helene was being brought to Lakedaimon. For it is said that she was with child, was delivered In Argos, and founded there the sanctuary of Eilethyia, giving the daughter she bore [Iphigeneia] to Klytaimnestra, who was already wedded to Agamemnon, while she herself subsequently married Menelaos. And on this matter the poets Euphorion of Khalkis and Alexandros of Pleuron, and even before them, Stesikhoros of Himera, agree with the Argives in asserting that Iphigenia was the daughter of Theseus. Over against the sanctuary of Eilethyia is a temple of Hekate [the goddess probably here identified as the apotheosed Iphigeneia], and the image is a work of Skopas. This one is of stone, while the bronze images opposite, also of Hekate, were made respectively by Polykleitos and his brother Naukydes."

5. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1 : "We are told that Helios (the Sun) had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel. And Perses had a daughter Hekate, who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness; she was also fond of hunting, and when she had no luck she would turn her arrows upon human beings instead of the beasts. Being likewise ingenious in the mixing of deadly poisons she discovered the drug called aconite and tired out the strength of each poison by mixing it with food given to the strangers. And since she possessed great experience in such matters she first of all poisoned her father, and so succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess, she became know far and wide for her cruelty. After this she married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus ... Aeetes, partly because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hekate, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers."


1. Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 674 : "We pray that other guardians be always renewed, and that Artemis-Hecate watch over the childbirth of their women."

2. Aristophanes, Frogs 1358 : "O Artemis, thou maid divine, Diktynna, huntress, fair to see, O bring that keen-nosed pack of thine, and hunt through all the house with me. O Hekate, with flameful brands." 3. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1 : "Aeetes succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis [usually described as a temple of Hekate, but the author equates the two] and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess."


1. Seneca, Medea 6 : "[Medea cries out to Hekate:] `Thou [Hekate-Selene] who doest show thy bright face as witness of the silent mysteries, O three-formed (triformis) Hecate.'"

2. Seneca, Medea 750 : "[The witch Medea casts her spells:] `Now, summoned by my sacred rites, do thou [Hekate], orb of the night [i.e. the moon], put on thy most evil face and come, threatening in all thy forms."

3. Seneca, Medea 770 : "The hour is at hand, O Phoebe [Hekate-Selene], for thy sacred rites."

4. Seneca, Medea 787 : “"[The witch Medea summons the power of Hekate:] `I see Trivia’s [Hekate-Selene-Artemis] swift gliding car, not as when, radiant, with full face [i.e. the moon], she drives the livelong night, but as when, ghastly, with mournful aspect, harried by Thessalian threats, she skirts with nearer rein the edge of heaven. So do thou wanly shed form thy torch a gloomy light through air; terrify the peoples with new dread, and let precious Corinthian bronzes resound, Dictynna [Artemis-Selene], to thy aid. To thee on the altar’s bloody turf we perform thy solemn rites."”

5. Seneca, Phaedra 406 : "[Phaedra prays to Artemis-Hekate-Selene:] `O [Artemis] queen of the groves (regina nemorum), thou who in solitude lovest thy mountain-haunts, and who upon the solitary mountains art alone held holy, change for the better these dark, ill-omened threats. O great goddess of the woods and groves, bright orb of heaven, glory of the night, by whose changing beams the universe shines clear, O three-formed Hecate, lo, thou art at hand, favouring our undertaking. Conquer the unbending soul of stern Hippolytus; may he, compliant, give ear unto our prayer. Soften his fierce heart; may he learn to love, may he feel answering flames. Ensnare his mind; grim, hostile, fierce, may he turn him back unto the fealty of love. To this end direct thy powers; so mayst thou wear a shining face [Selene the moon] and, the clouds all scattered, fare on with undimmed horns; so, when thou drivest thy car through the nightly skies, may no witcheries of Thessaly prevail to drag thee down and may no shepherd [i.e. Endymion] make boast o’er thee. Be near, goddess, in answer to our call; hear now our prayers."

6. Seneca, Troades 386 : "With such swift course as the lord [Helios the sun] of stars hurries on the centuries, and in such wise as Hecate [Selene the moon] hastens along her slanting ways."

7. Statius, Thebaid 10.365 : "[Statius, in the passage that follows describes Artemis as a triple goddess incorporating: Artemis-Hekate-Selene:] Cynthia, queen of the mysteries of the night, if as they say thou dost vary in threefold wise the aspect of thy godhead, and in different shape comest down into the woodland ... The goddess stooped her horns and made bright her kindly star, and illumined the battle-field with near-approaching chariot."

8. Statius, Thebaid 4.410 : "[The seer Teiresias performs necromancy in the grove of Artemis-Hekate:] There stands a wood, enduring of time, and strong and erect in age, with foliage aye unshorn nor pierced by any suns ... Beneath is sheltered quiet, and a vague shuddering awe guards the silence, and the phantom of the banished light gleams pale and ominous. Nor do the shadows lack a divine power: Latonia’s [Artemis-Hekate's] haunting presence is added to the grove; her effigies wrought in pine or cedar and wood or very tree are hidden in the hallowed gloom of the forest. Her arrows whistle unseen through the wood, her hounds bay nightly [as Hekate], when she flies from her uncle’s [Haides] threshold and resumes afresh Diana’s kindlier shape. Or when she is weary from her ranging on the hills, and the sun high in heaven invites sweet slumber, here doth she rest with head flung back carelessly on her quiver, while all her spears stand fixed in the earth around ... [Teiresias cries out summoning the ghosts forth:] `Haste ye all together, nor let there be fore the Shades but one fashion of return to the light; do thou, daughter of Perses [Artemis-Hekate], and the cloud-wrapt Arcadian [Hermes] with rod of power lead in separate throng the pious denizens of Elysium.'"

9. Apuleius, The Golden Ass 11.5 : "To the trilingual Sicilians I [Artemis] am Ortygian Proserpina [Hekate]."

10. Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44.198 : "[Nonnus in the passage that follows describes Artemis-Hekate-Selene as a triple goddess:] O daughter of Helios (Sun), Mene (Moon) of many turnings, nurse of all! O Selene (Moon), driver of the silver car! If thou art Hekate of many names, if in the night thou doest shake thy mystic torch in brandcarrying hand, come nightwanderer ... If thou art staghunter Artemis, if on the hills thou dost eagerly hunt with fawnkilling Dionysos, be thy brother’s helper now!."


1. Sophokles, The Root Cutters, (Transl. by Robert Von Rudloff) : "Lord Helios and the sacred flames, weapon of Hekate Enodia, which she bears when leading in Olympos and in her haunts by the sacred three-ways on Earth crowning herself with oak leaves and twisting coils of wild serpents."

2. Pausanias, Guide to Greece 3.14.9-10 : "I know of no other Greeks who are accustomed to sacrifice puppies except the people of Kolophon; these too sacrifice a puppy, a black bitch, to Enodia (of the Wayside) [Hekate] ... at night."

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Hekate - Section D (Quotations V-VIII)

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