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Q: female orphans in greek mythology ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: female orphans in greek mythology
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: j10-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 02 Sep 2003 19:09 PDT
Expires: 02 Oct 2003 19:09 PDT
Question ID: 251616
Who are the females and males in greek mythology whose mothers died in
their infancy or who were orphaned in the first two years of life?
Please separate by gender.

Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 03 Sep 2003 04:04 PDT
Hello j10 - thanks for an interesting question. 

Could I just ask you whether we need to keep exactly to your
guidelines of females and males "whose mothers died in their infancy
or who were orphaned in the first two years of life"? It may be hard
to come up with many names since some motherless characters in Greek
mythology had a strange, supernatural birth. For others, it may be
unclear why they had no parents.

So far I only have three suggestions for females and males who lost
their mother when they were babies and only one of those is a strict
match with your criteria. Of the other two, one was abandoned as a
baby and the other was magically cared for by his father in the last
weeks of pregnancy.

If you would be interested in characters who were orphans or
motherless for other reasons, do let us know!

Thanks - Leli

Clarification of Question by j10-ga on 03 Sep 2003 12:15 PDT
Sure.  I'd like the info using the strict criteria ( please keep
separate) but, by all means feel free to liven up the search with the
supernatural and unclarified.  happy hunting and thanks lele-ga

Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 04 Sep 2003 09:08 PDT
Thanks for your message, j10. 

I'm sorry to say I just haven't got enough information for you. I hope
another researcher will be able to come up with a list.

One name to get you started is Aesculapius/Asklepios. There are a few
versions of the story of his birth and parents here:

Best Wishes - Leli
Subject: Re: female orphans in greek mythology
Answered By: hlabadie-ga on 04 Sep 2003 11:59 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
These are the best known examples (at least to me). The Greek Myths by
Robert Graves (2 vols., Penguin) gives a good synopsis of the Hellenic
mythology, if you ignore his commentaries, which are generally
regarded as idiosyncratic.


Dionysus, son of Zeus and Semele. Semele was consumed by the lightning
bolt in which Zeus appeared to her. Dionysus was rescued from her
ashes by Hermes and sewn into the thigh of Zeus to continue his

Hermes and the Birth of Dionysus

"When Zeus and Semele first got to know each other, Zeus was disguised
in simple clothes. Zeus'wife, Hera, was angry with both Zeus and
Semele. Hera disguised herself as Semele's nurse and made Semele
curious about her new boyfriend. The next time Zeus visited, Semele
made him promise that the next time he came, he would come to her as
he really was. On his next visit, he came as the god Zeus, and Semele
was consumed to ashes by his brillance. Zeus took Semele's baby,
Dionysus, and nurtured him until he was ready to be born. Once he was
born, Zeus gave Dionysus to Hermes to protect the baby from Zeus'
wife, who was jealous. Hermes put the baby Dionysus in the care of Io,
Semele's sister."

Asclepius, son of Apollo and Coronis. Coronis was slain by Artemis,
Apollo's sister, after Coronis was unfaithful to the god. Hermes cut
the child from her corpse.

Asclepius, Greek Mythology Link

"Asclepius is the god of healing. 

His mother dies before he is born 
When Asclepius was still in the womb, Apollo killed his mother Coronis
2 for having wedded Ischys;"

Hippolytus, son of Theseus and Antiope. Antiope was slain (by Theseus
himself in most versions of the story) while Hippolytus was an infant.


"During his reign there was the war of the Seven against Thebes and
Theseus' expedition against the Amazons. While fighting the Amazons
Theseus deceitfully abducted one of them, Antiope. In attempt to
regain their sister the Amazons marched on Athens, a decisive battle
occurred near Pnyx where the warrior-women were defeated and signed a
peace pact.
The cause of this war is also recounted as follows: Theseus married
Antiope with her consent, but, after she bore him a son, Hippolytus,
he repudiated her to marry Phaedra, a sister of Ariadne. Then the
Amazons came to demand justice for Antiope, who, however, perished in
the battle."
(Hippolytus figured in the tragedy of Phaedra, Theseus wife, who fell
in love with the teenage boy.)

Chrysaor, son of Poseidon, sprung from the blood of Medusa after she
was decapitated by Perseus.

Medusa - Wikipeida

Chrysaor - Wikipedia

"In Greek mythology, Chrysaor ("golden falchion") was a giant, the son
of Poseidon and Medusa. He was conceived on the floor of a temple to
Athena who, enraged at the desecration, turned Medusa into a Gorgon.
As such, Chrysaor and his brother, the winged horse, Pegasus, were not
born until Perseus chopped off Medusa's head. They were born from the
drops of blood."


Athena, daughter of Zeus and Metis. Metis, while pregnant, was
devoured whole by Zeus, who then gave birth to Athena through a cleft
in his skull.

Library Book I (Apollodorus)

"Zeus slept with Metis, who changed into many forms in order not to
have sex with him, and when she became pregnant he swallowed her down
quickly, seeing that Ge said that, after having the daughter she was
pregnant with, she would have a son who would become ruler of heaven.
Zeus was afraid of this and swallowed her. When it was time for the
birth, Prometheus (although others say it was Hephaistos) struck Zeus’
head with an ax and Athena, dressed for battle, sprang up out of the
top of his head near the river Triton."

Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus and Alcidice. Salmoneus was founder of the
city Salmonia in Elis. Alcidice died in childbirth.

"Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus and Alcidice, who was raised by
Cretheus (Salmoneus'
brother), fell in love with the river-god Enipeus."

(The death of Alcidice seems to have been inferred. Salmonia,
according to the received story, was utterly destroyed by Zeus as a
punishment for the impiety of Salmoneus, who mocked him.)

"Salmoneus first settled in Thessaly, but he later came to Elis and
founded a city there. He was punished for his impiety because he was
full of hubris and wanted to make himself the equal of Zeus. He said
that he actually was Zeus and, stopping offerings to the god, he
ordered that sacrifice be made to himself. He used to drag dried up
hides and bronze basins behind his chariot and say that he was making
thunder. He used to throw burning torches into the air and say that he
was making lightning. Zeus struck him with a thunderbolt and
obliterated the city he had founded and all of its inhabitants."

Apollodorus, ibid

(In other words, Tyro was sent away before the destruction of the
city, and this would have been done only if her mother were already


j10-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks for the info, very helpful and will save me mucho time.  As I
am just beginning a research project, I expect to need you again.  If
I can name you at publication I would be delighted. Let me know how
google does this. Chrysaor is my favorite.

Subject: Re: female orphans in greek mythology
From: hlabadie-ga on 04 Sep 2003 13:52 PDT
Thanks for the rating and the tip.

You can specify that a question is for a particular researcher by
adding the phrase "(for XXXX-ga)" to the question's subject line. As a
courtesy, that researcher will have first crack at answering.


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