Article

Dioscuri

Robert Parker

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics


Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.2233

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Dioscuri, ‘sons of Zeus’, a regular title (already found in 6th-cent. bce inscriptions, CEG 373, 391, 427, cf. Inscriptiones Graecae 12. 3. 359), of Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux), who on the human plane are also Tyndaridae, sons of *Tyndareos. They are the brothers of *Helen, Tyndareos' daughter, in *Homer's Iliad 3. 237–244, where they are treated as being dead; but in Odyssey 11. 300–4 they are ‘alive’ even though ‘the corn-bearing earth holds them’, and the author explains that they are honoured by *Zeus and live on alternate days, ‘having honour equal to gods’. Here and in *Hesiod they are sons of Tyndareus and *Leda; later, as in *Pindar (Nem. 10. 80–2), Polydeuces is son of Zeus, his twin Castor of Tyndareos, and at Polydeuces' request they share his immortality between them, living half their time below the earth at *Therapne near Sparta, the other half on *Olympus.

Article.  1049 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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