Dara Newman
April 9, 2000

Greek Mythology

Daphne: Namjoshi's "Nymph" (p. 4)

The story of Daphne is one of a woman uninterested in love. Daphne, a beautiful nymph, preferred to spend her time hunting in the woods rather than meeting men. Because of her beauty men constantly feel in love with her and she was always pursued. Time and time again she rejected each suitor. Daphne's father, the river-god Peneus, was very intent on her marrying and having many sons. However, Daphne cried so much at the idea of marriage that her father could not bring himself to force her to marry.

On one occasion Eros became angry with Apollo for mocking the power of his arrows. As a way to punish him Eros hit Apollo with an arrow that caused him to fall desperately in love with Daphne. Apollo began to pursue Daphne in the woods, but as he approached she began to run faster and faster. When Apollo was about to grasp Daphne she prayed to her father and was transformed into a laurel tree. Still in love with Daphne, Apollo declared that the leaves of the laurel tree would always be green and he would always wear a wreath of laurel leaves around his head. Since then the laurel has become a symbol of victory in Greek culture.

Atlanta: Namjoshi's "The Runner" (p. 7)

Atlanta is the daughter of Iasius and Arcadia. Iasius, who had wanted a son, was so upset to have a daughter that he left her on a mountain to die. The god Artemis took pity on the baby and sent a she-bear to nurse her until Atlanta was found by a group of hunters who took her in and raised her. At a young age Atlanta was warned by an oracle against marriage, claiming that she would marry and then be very unhappy. After this prediction Atlanta shuned men and devoted herself to hunting.

Atlanta became an exceptionally skilled hunter and asked to join a group of hunters trying to kill the Calydonian Boar. Although women were usually not allowed on such expeditions, the leader of the group, Meleager, fell in love with her boyish yet feminine looks and invited her to hunt with him. The Boar killed several of the hunters before Atlanta was the first to wound him.

After this great success Atlanta's father welcomed her back to his home with open arms. When her father pleaded with her to marry, Atlanta said that any man who wished to marry her would have to beat her in a race. If he won he would receive her hand in marriage, if he lost Atlanta would kill him. Many suitors raced her unsuccessfully and lost their lives.

Eventually, Hippomenes fell in love with Atlanta and decided he must race her. Atlanta, who became fond of Hippomenes when she first saw him, agreed to the race. Hippomenes prayed to Aphrodite to help him in the race, and she answered by giving him three golden apples. Each time Atlanta ran ahead of Hippomenes he threw one of the apples to distract her, and with this method he was able to beat her.

The couple was then happily married. However, in their excitement and love for each other, the newlyweds forgot to thank Aphrodite for her help. As punishment, Aphrodite made the couple disrespect Cybele with their lovemaking. The angry Cybele transformed them into lions and they spent the rest of their lives yoked to Cybele's car.

 

Andromeda and Perseus: Namjoshi's "Perseus and Andromeda" (p. 47)

 

Andromeda, daughter of Cepheus, was betrothed to her father's brother, Phineus. In Andromeda's youth, her mother angered Poseidon by claiming that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids of the sea. As a punishment, Poseidon sent a sea monster to devastate the land. Sacrificing Andromeda to the monster was the only way to appease Poseidon. Feeling he had no choice, Andromeda's father chained her to a cliff, naked except for her jewels. Given the situation, Phineus felt he was unable to save the girl he intended to marry.

Returning with the head of Medusa, Perseus noticed Andromeda and instantly fell in love with her. He promised to slay the sea monster if Cepheus promised him Andromeda's hand in marriage as his reward. Cepheus agreed. Perseus killed the monster and married Andromeda. After the wedding an angry Phineus burst in claiming his right to Andromeda. Despite his daughter's request, Cepheus did not uphold his promise to Perseus. When Phineus attacked Perseus, Perseus used the head of Medusa to turn him to stone.

The happy couple then left for Greece where they had six sons and one daughter. Andromeda had an unusual marriage as the wife of a Greek hero who was constantly loyal and affectionate.

 

 

Sources:

Avery, Catherine (ed.). Greek Mythology and Legend. New York: Meredith Corporation,

1972.

Encyclopedia Britannica online.