In Greek mythology, Adrasteia (//; Greek: Ἀδράστεια (Ionic Greek: Ἀδρήστεια), "inescapable"; also spelled Adrastia, Adrastea, Adrestea, Adastreia or Adrasta) was a nymph who was charged by Rhea with nurturing the infant Zeus in secret in the Dictaean cave, to protect him from his father Cronus.
She is known to have been worshipped in hellenised Phrygia (north-western Turkey), probably derived from a local Anatolian mountain deity. She is known from inscriptions in Greece from around 400 BCE as a deity who defends the righteous.
Adrastea may be interchangeable with Cybele, a goddess also associated with childbirth. The Greeks cultivated a patronic system of gods who served specific human needs, conditions or desires to whom one would give praise or tribute for success in certain arenas such as childbirth.
Both the early 3rd-century BC poet Callimachus, and the mid 3rd-century BC poet Apollonius of Rhodes, name Adrasteia (here possibly another name for Nemesis) as a nurse of the infant Zeus. According to Callimachus, Adrasteia, along with the ash-tree nymphs, the Meliae, laid Zeus "to rest in a cradle of gold", and fed him with honeycomb, and the milk of the goat Amaltheia. Apollonius of Rhodes, describes a wondrous toy ball which Adrasteia gave the child Zeus, when she was his nurse in the "Idean cave". Hyginus says that Adrasteia, along with her sisters Ida and Amalthea, were daughters of Oceanus, or that according to "others" they were Zeus's nurses, "the ones that are called Dodonian Nymphys (others call them the Naiads)". According to Apollodorus, Adrasteia and Ida were daughters of Melisseus, who nursed Zeus, feeding him on the milk of Amalthea.
At Cirrha, the port that served Delphi, Pausanias noted "a temple of Apollo, Artemis and Leto, with very large images of Attic workmanship. Adrasteia has been set up by the Cirrhaeans in the same place, but she is not so large as the other images."
Epithet for other goddesses
Adrasteia was also an epithet of Nemesis, a primordial goddess of the archaic period. (Her name appears as a-da-ra-te-ja in Mycenaean Pylos.) The epithet is derived by some writers from Adrastus, who is said to have built the first sanctuary of Nemesis on the river Asopus, and by others from the Greek verb διδράσκειν (didraskein), according to which it would signify the goddess whom none can escape.
Adrasteia was also an epithet applied to Rhea herself, to Cybele, and to Ananke, as her daughter. As with Adrasteia, these four were especially associated with the dispensation of rewards and punishments.
In The Dialogue of the Sea-Gods, Poseidon remarks to a Nereid that Adrasteia is a great deal stronger than Nephele, who was unable to prevent the fall of her daughter Helle from the ram of the Golden Fleece.
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