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Mythology: Amalthea | cymVolon

Mythology: Amalthea

Mythology - Greece

Depending on the version of the myth one reads, Amalthea (Greek: Amalteia; meaning abundance, generosity) was either a goat, or a nymph, or even both. Whichever the case may be, the role played by her was largely the same as she was the one who raised him and kept him safe, hidden in a cave far from his father’s sight. There is still a version in which Zeus was raised by the nymphs Adrasteia and Ide, daughters of Melisseus and Amalthea was the she-goat. But the most commonly accepted version of the myth is the following.

When Rhea gave infant Zeus to Amalthea -the nymph-, she placed him in a golden cradle upon a tree so that he could be found neither in heaven nor on earth. But Cronus could still hear the wailing of the infant, so she then gathered about the cave the Kuretes to dance, shout, and clash their spears against their shields.

Amalthea owned a magical she-goat, who suckled the god and later on Zeus named her after his favorite nymph. One day while he was playing with the goat, not being aware of his strength, he accidentally broke one her horns. To atone for this, Zeus gave it to Amalthea, promising that the possessor should always have in abundance everything he desired. This became known as the Horn of Amalthea or Cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae), an eternal symbol of abundance.

When Zeus became of age, it was time to fulfill the prophecy and overthrown his father, Cronus. In order to do that he had to face the Titans, who ruled the universe under Cronus. For that he needed a suitable shield (or armour, according to others), which would be invulnerable and terrifying to look upon. So, after Amalthea -the goat- was dead Zeus gave Hephaestus Amalthea’s skin in order to make this shield “aegis” (meaning goat in Greeks), which could not be pierced by arrows, and placed on it the head of the Gorgon or Medusa, which turned all those who looked upon her to stone.

After becoming ruler of heaven, Zeus rewarded Amalthea for her devotion, and her protection of him, by placing her among the stars – where she became a member of Capra-group at constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer, but Amalthea is best known as moon of Jupiter.

author: Danae Tsiligkiri


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20 Responses to “Mythology: Amalthea”

  1. 1
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  2. 2
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  11. 11
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  12. 12
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