PASIPHAE was an immortal daughter of the sun-god Helios. Like her siblings, Aeetes and Kirke (Circe), she was a skilled practitioner of witchcraft (pharmakeia).
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Pasiphae married King Minos of Krete (Crete) and bore him a number of sons and daughters. As punishment for some offence against the gods--committed either by herself or her husband--she was cursed with lust for the king"s finest bull. The queen enlisted the help of the artisan Daidalos (Daedalus) who built her an animate, wooden cow wrapped in bovine-skin. Hidden inside the contraption she coupled with the bull and conceived a hybrid child--the bull-headed Minotauros (Minotaur).
Pasiphae"s husband King Minos also proved unfaithful. When she learned of his indiscretions she bewitched him, causing him to ejaculate poisoned creatures and destroy his lovers. Pasiphae herself, being an immortal, was alone immune to the spell. Minos was later cured by the Athenian girl Prokris (Procris) who devised a remedy for the strange afflication.
Pasiphae was an early Kretan moon-goddess similar to the classical Selene. Both her taurine lover and her Minotaur son--who was also named Asterios (Starry One)--were associated with the constellation Taurus.
FAMILY OF PASIPHAE
<1.1> HELIOS & PERSEIS (Apollodorus 1.80, Cicero De Natura Deorum 3.19)<1.2> HELIOS (Apollonius Rhodius 3.997, Antoninus Liberalis 41, Hyginus Fabulae 40, Ovid Metamorphoses 9.737, Seneca Phaedra 112)<1.3> HELIOS & KRETE (Diodorus Siculus 4.60.4)
<1.1> THE MINOTAUROS (by the Kretan Bull) (Apollodorus 3.8, Diodorus Siculus 4.77.1, Philostratus the Elder 1.16, Hyginus Fabulae 40, Ovid Metamorphoses 8.132, Seneca Phaedra 112, Nonnus Dionysiaca 47.395, Suidas)<2.1> KATREUS, DEUKALION, GLAUKOS, ANDROGEOS, AKALLE, XENODIKE, ARIADNE, PHAIDRA (by Minos) (Apollodorus 3.7)<2.2> ARIADNE, DEUKALION, KATREUS, ANDROGEUS (by Minos) (Diodorus Siculus 4.60.4)<2.3> ARIADNE (by Minos) (Apollonius Rhodius 3.997)<2.4> IDOMENEUS (by Minos) (Pausanias 5.25.9)<2.5> ASTERIOS (by Minos) (Nonnus Dionysiaca 40.290)<2.6> DEUKALION (by Minos) (Hyginus Fabulae 14)<2.7> PHAEDRA, ARIADNE (by Minos) (Ovid Heroides 4.53 & 157, Seneca Phaedra 112)
PAST′PHAE (Pasiphaê). 1. A daughter of Helios and Perseis, and a sister of Circe and Aeetes, was the wife of Minos, by whom she was the mother of Androgeos, Catreus, Deucalion, Glaucus, Minotaurus, Acalle, Xenodice, Ariadne, and Phaedra. (Apollon. Rhod. iii. 999, &c.; Apollod. i. 9. § 1, iii. 1. § 2; Ov. Met. xv. 501 ; Cic. De Nat. Deor. iii. 19; Paus. v. 25. § 9.) 2. An oracular goddess at Thalamae in Laconia, was believed to be a daughter of Atlas, or to be the same as Cassandra or Daphne, the daughter of Amyclas. People used to sleep in her temple for the purpose of receiving revelations in dreams. (Plut. Agis, 9; Cic. De Dir.
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Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
PARENTAGE & CHILDREN OF PASIPHAE
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 80 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :"The Kholkians (Colchians) who were ruled by Aeetes, the son of Helios and Perseis, and brother of Kirke (Circe) and Minos" wife Pasiphae."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 7 :"Minos, residing in Krete (Crete), passed laws, and married Pasiphae, daughter of Helios and Perseis . . . He begat sons, to wit, Katreus (Catreus), Deukalion (Deucalion), Glaukos (Glaucus), and Androgeus: and daughters, to wit, Akalle (Acalle), Xenodike (Xenodice), Ariadne, Phaidra (Phaedra)."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 997 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :"Remember Ariadne, young Ariadne, daughter of Minos and Pasiphae, who was a daughter of Helios."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 1074 ff : "
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 60. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :"
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 25. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :"Idomeneus the descendant of Minos. The story goes that Idomeneus was descended from Helios (the Sun), the father of Pasiphae."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 14 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :"Deucalion, son of Minos and Pasiphae, daughter of Sol
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 19 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :"Circe and Pasiphae and Aeetes, the children of Perseis the daughter of Oceanus by Sol
Ovid, Heroides 10. 91 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 40. 290 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :"He
MINOS & THE WITCHCRAFT OF PASIPHAE
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 197 - 198 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :"
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 41 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :"Prokris (Procris) forsook Kephalos (Cephalus) and went off as a fugitive to Minos the king of Krete (Crete). She found on arrival that he was afflicted by childlessness and promised a cure, showing him how to beget children. Now Minos would ejaculate snakes, scorpions and millipedes, killing the women with whom he had intercourse.But his wife Pasiphae, daughter of Helios the Sun, was immortal. Prokris accordingly devised the following to make Minos fertile. She inserted the bladder of a goat into a woman and Minos first emitted the snakes into the bladder; then he went over to Pasiphae and entered her. And when children were born to them, Minos gave Prokris his spear and his dog. No animal could escape these two and they always reached their target."
PASIPHAE, THE CRETAN BULL & BIRTH OF THE MINOTAUR
Bacchylides, Fragment 26 (from Papyrus) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :"Pasiphae . . ((lacuna)) Kypris (Cypris)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 8 - 11 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :"Minos aspired to the throne
Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 311 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :"
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 13. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :"The next Labour which Herakles undertook was to bring back from Krete (Crete) the bull of which, they say, Pasiphae had been enamoured."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 77. 1 : "Now according to the myth which was handed down to us Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, became enamoured of the bull, and Daidalos (Daedalus), by fashioning a contrivance in the shape of a cow, assisted Pasiphae to gratify her passion. In explanation of this the myths offer the following account: before this time it had been the custom of Minos annually to dedicate to Poseidon the fairest bull born in his herds and to sacrifice it to the god; but at the time in question there was born a bull of extraordinary beauty and he sacrificed another from among those which were inferior, whereupon Poseidon becoming angry at Minos, caused his wife Pasiphae to become enamoured of the bull. And by means of the ingenuity of Daidalos Pasiphae had intercourse with the bull and gave birth to the Minotauros (Minotaur), famed in the myth. This creature, they say, was of double form, the upper parts of the body as far as the shoulders being those of a bull and the remaining parts those of a man. As a place in which to keep this monstrous thing Daidalos, the story goes, built a labyrinth, the passage-ways of which were so winding that those unfamiliar with them had difficulty in making their way out; in this labyrinth the Minotaur was maintained and here it devoured the seven youths and seven maidens which were sent to it from Athens, as we have already related.But Daidalos, they say, on learning that Minos had made threats against him because he had fashioned the cow, became fearful of the king and departed from Krete (Crete), Pasiphae helping him and providing and vessel for his escape . . . But certain writers of myths have the following account: Daidalos remained a while longer in Krete, being kept hidden by Pasiphae, and king Minos, desiring to wreak bengeance upon him and yet being unable to find him, caused all the boats which were on the island to be searched and announced that he would give a great sum of money to the man who should discover Daidalos. Thereupon Daidalos, despairing of making his escape by any boat, fashioned with amazing ingenuity wings whish were cleverly designed and marvellously fitted together with wax."
Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 16 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :"
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 30 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :"The bull with which Pasiphae lay he
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 40 :"Pasiphae, daughter of Sol
Ovid, Metamorphoses 8. 130 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :"
Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 735 ff :"Crete should lack no monstrous birth,
Ovid, Fasti 3. 499 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :"The horns of a handsome bull captured my
Ovid, Heroides 4. 53 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :"
Ovid, Heroides 4. 165 ff :"
Virgil, Aeneid 6. 24 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :"Crete rising out of the waves; Pasiphae, cruelly fated to lust after a bull, and privily covered; the hybrid fruit of that monstrous union--the Minotaurus (Minotaur), a memento of her unnatural love."
Propertius, Elegies 2. 32 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :"Once was the wife of mighty Minos
Propertius, Elegies 3. 19 : "She
Propertius, Elegies 4. 7 : "For two abodes have been appointed
Seneca, Phaedra 112 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :"
Seneca, Phaedra 173 ff : "
Seneca, Phaedra 687 ff : "O thou
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 47. 395 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :"
Suidas s.v. En panti muthoi kai to Daidalou musos (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :"En panti muthoi kai to Daidalou musos--In every myth there is also the defilement of Daidalos (Daedalus) : It is said that Pasiphae was in love with a bull and begged Daidalos to make a wooden cow and rig it up and put her in it; and mounting her like a cow, the bull made her pregnant. From her the Minotauros (Minotaur) was born . . . Since the origin and blame for these evils were attributed to Daidalos and he was loathed for them, he became the subject of the proverb."
CULT OF PASIPHAE
Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 26. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :"From Oitylos (Oetylus) to Thalamai (Thalamae)
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 19 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :"
Suidas s.v. Pasiphae (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :"Pasiphae : Name of a goddess."