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Melinoe

Ag melinoe by rorozoro-d90k7vz

Names (S)
Melinoe
Rules Over
Ghosts
Title
Goddess Of Ghosts
Gender
Female
Parents
Consort
Nil
Siblings

Melinoe is the goddess of ghosts. She was either the daughter of Hades and Persephone or the daughter of Zeus and Persephone. Melaina ("The Black One") is the under-earth or chthonic aspect of the Greek Great Goddess, said to bring nightmares.

Name Meaning

Melinoë may derive from Greek mēlinos (μήλινος), "having the color of quince," from mēlon (μῆλον), "tree fruit". The fruit's yellowish-green color evoked the pallor of illness or death for the Greeks. A name derived from melas, "black," would be melan-, not melin-. Melinoe: “Soothing One,” “Gentle-Minded,” or perhaps “of the Color of Quince”

Birth

In the Orphic Mysteries, a spin off from traditional Greek Mythology, Melinoë is the daughter of Persephone, who was visited by Zeus disguised as her husband Hades.

There are other traditions that call her a daughter of Hades himself[1][2][3]. Among them include the story of Melinoe's contraception upon the Island Nysion (Or Mysion) when Hades engaged in a tryst with his wife, Persephone, although no surviving scriptures detail this as unlike the Orphic Tradition, this story has been passed down orally.

Both parentages afirm that Melinoe is not only born but conceived at the mouth of either the Cocytus or the Acheron, one of the rivers of the underworld, where Hermes in his underworld aspect as psychopomp was stationed. 

Hymn

Following is the translation by Apostolos Athanassakis and Benjamin M. Wolkow, of the Orphic hymn to Melinoe, presenting Melinoe as the daughter of Zeus and Persephone:

I call upon Melinoe, saffron-cloaked nymph of the earth,
whom revered Persephone bore by the mouth of the Kokytos river
upon the sacred bed of Kronian Zeus.
In the guise of Plouton Zeus and tricked Persephone and through wiley plots bedded her;
a two-bodied specter sprang forth from Persephone's fury.
This specter drives mortals to madness with her airy apparitions
as she appears in weird shapes and strange forms,
now plain to the eye, now shadowy, now shining in the darkness—
all this in unnerving attacks in the gloom of night.
O goddess, O queen of those below, I beseech you
to banish the soul's frenzy to the ends of the earth,
show to the initiates a kindly and holy face.

Virginia Stewart-Avalon, M.Ed, elder and Preistess of the Sibylline Order presents two an alternate translation of the Hymn to Melinoe, as followed by the Sibyllines[4]. The Sibyllines are one of the many groups that practice modern Hellenism.

I call saffron-veiled Melinoe, Daughter of Persephone and the Mystic Hades,

Where flows the mournful river Cocytus, he beguiled the daughter of the Earth,

So Thy limbs are partly black and partly white,

Night's Daughter and Daughter of the light,

Thy specter, now veiled in shadow,

Now shimmering silver, inspires mortal fear.

Terrestrial Queen, expel from our hearts, the soul's mad fears wherever found,

And with holy aspect bless this incense, and Thy mystics, and this divine rite.

The following is the second alternate adaption of the 'Hymn to Melinoe', from the Sibylline Order[5]:

I call upon saffron-veiled Melinoe,

Conceived from the Daughter of Demeter and the Son of Kronos,

Born from when blissful life and dreaded death mixt,

It was there, where flows the woeful river of Acheron, 

Zeus Katachthonios seduced Kore Karpophoroi,

So Thy limbs are partly black and partly white,

Night’s Daughter and Daughter of the light,

This maiden spectre drives mortals to madness with her airy apparitions

as she appears in weird shapes and strange forms,

now plain to the eye, now shadowy, now shining in the darkness—

all this in unnerving attacks in the gloom of night.

O goddess, O queen of those below, I beseech you

to banish the soul's frenzy to the ends of the earth,

show to the initiates a kindly and holy face.

Trivia

  • Her name means "Dark Thought" in Greek.
  • She appears in the story "The Sword of Hades" in Rick Riodrdan's book "The Demigod Files"
  • Melinoe is depicted in numerous different ways in modern society. Because of the Orphic's writing down their myths the most common interpretation of Melinoe is that she is the daughter of Zeus and Persephone. However many believe that she, along with Hades, Zagreus and numerous other gods, was a victim of syncretism. As in the Orphics, the title Zeus Kronion was a title that not only applied to Zeus, but to Hades as well[6]. It's unknown exactly who Melinoe's father is, though its important to note that the Orphics believed that Zeus and Hades/Plouton were the same god. This is because Zeus was portrayed as having an incarnation in the underworld identifying him as being Hades and leading to Zeus and Hades essentially being two representations and different facets of the same god and extended divine power. [7][8][9]The Orphic Hymn to Melinoe also references this by mentioning that Persephone was impregnated upon the bed of Zeus Kronion in the Underworld by the River Cocytus. The idea of defining Zeus as Hades has been present in Ancient Greek literature from Homer to Nonnos.[10] Hence the Orphics stating Zeus Kronion tricking Persephone by disguising as Plouton, was just a reference to Hades having a role that links him to being both Zeus and Plouton in the Orphic Mysteries. Hence it's entirely possible that Melinoe's true parentage regards her as the daughter of Hades, rather than being a daughter of Zeus.

References

  1. (Images of Eternal Beauty in Funerary Verse Inscriptions of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman Periods By Andrzej Wypustek)
  2. Bell, Malcolm (1981). Morgantina Studies, Volume I: The Terracottas. pp. 89, 90, 106, 107, 254
  3. Taylor-Perry, Rosemarie (2003). The God who Comes: Dionysian Mysteries Revisited (Mentions the fact that Zeus and Hades were believed to be the same deity)
  4. https://archive.org/details/SibyllineHymns
  5. https://archive.org/details/SibyllineHymns
  6. http://www.hellenicgods.org/plouton---the-epithets
  7. The God Who Comes: Dionysian Mysteries Revisited by Rosemarie Taylor-Perry (2003), Algora Publishing, ISBN:978-0-87586-213-2
  8. Images of Eternal Beauty in Funerary Verse Inscriptions of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman Periods by Andrzej Wypustek (2013), BRILL Publishing, ISBN:978-90-04-23320-1
  9. Early Greek Myth by Timothy Gantz (1996), Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN:978-0801853609
  10. Virgin Mother Goddesses Of Antiquity by Marguerite Rigoglioso (2010), Palgrave Macmillan Publishing, ISBN:978-1-349-38159-3