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Dioscuri

Castor and Pollux or Polydeuces


Temple of Castor and Pollux Ruins, taken by A.M. Kuchling

 Related Terms
• Helen of Troy
 
 

Definition: The Dioscuri were the twin sons of Zeus and Leda or Tydareus and Leda. When Tyndareus is called the father, Castor and Polydeuces -- or Pollux, as he is known in Latin, are known as the Tyndaridae. Sometimes Castor is considered the son of Tyndareus and Polydeuces the son of Zeus, just as the Dioscuri's sister Clytemnestra is the daughter of Tyndareus, while their sister Helen of Troy is the daughter of Zeus.

Among their adventures, the Dioscuri went on an expedition to rescue their sister Helen of Troy from Theseus. The Dioscuri are also counted among the Argonauts.

Of the Dioscuri, the one, Castor, was a horse tamer and the other a boxer, but Castor died in a fight. Polydeuces, grief stricken about the loss of his twin, asked Zeus to kill him, too. Instead, the Dioscuri spend alternate days together. An alternate version of their deaths has Zeus make the Dioscuri the constellation of the Twins.

Passage from the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius:

(ll. 98-144) Nor were the Bebrycians reckless of their king; but all together took up rough clubs and spears and rushed straight on Polydeuces. But in front of him stood his comrades, their keen swords drawn from the sheath. First Castor struck upon the head a man as he rushed at him: and it was cleft in twain and fell on each side upon his shoulders. And Polydeuces slew huge Itymoneus and Mimas. The one, with a sudden leap, he smote beneath the breast with his swift foot and threw him in the dust; and as the other drew near he struck him with his right hand above the left eyebrow, and tore away his eyelid and the eyeball was left bare.
~Book II

In Rome the Dioscuri -- Castor and Pollux -- were honored as gods and as expletives. Women only would swear by Castor. There was a temple built at Rome to honor Castor and Pollux after the help they provided at the Battle of Lake Regillus. Tiberius, the second emperor of Rome, restored it.

Also Known As: Castor and Pollux, Castor and Polydeuces, Tyndaridae

Related Resources:

People From the Trojan War You Should Know

Homeric Hymn to the Dioscuri

A Second Homeric Hymn to the Dioscuri

Helen of Troy the Basics
Information about Helen of Troy and her family, Castor and Pollux, Clytemnestra, Tyndareus and Leda.

Elsewhere On The Web

Dioscuri - Encyclopedia Mythica

Dioscuri - Carlos Parada

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