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Dione (mythology)

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Dione (/dˈn/; Ancient Greek: Διώνη, romanizedDiṓnē, lit.'she who is under the authority of Zeus') is the name of four women in ancient Greek mythology, and one in the Phoenician religion described by Sanchuniathon. Dione is translated as "Goddess", and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al.[1] Very little information exists about these nymphs or goddesses, although at least one is described as beautiful and is sometimes associated with water or the sea. Perhaps this same one was worshiped as a mother goddess who presided over the oracle at Dodona, Greece and was called the mother of Aphrodite.

One Dione is identified as the mother of the Roman goddess of love, Venus,[2] or equivalently as the mother of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite; but Dione is also sometimes identified with Aphrodite.


Dione is among the Titanides. She is called a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, hence an Oceanid, a water-nymph. She is otherwise called a daughter of Gaia; according to worshippers of Orpheus her father is Uranus,[3] while others identify her father as Aether. She and Zeus are called the parents of Aphrodite by some ancient sources.[4] Hesiod listed Dione among the wives of Zeus who were daughters of Oceanus and Tethys; she is described as beautiful in the "sacred books of Orpheus".[5] She was one of the goddesses assembled to witness the birth of Apollo and Artemis.[6]

The Greek goddess of love sometimes takes the name Dione: this may identify her with Aphrodite, though Homer calls Dione the mother of Aphrodite. Károly Kerényi notes in this context that the name Dione resembles the Latin name Diana, and is a feminine form of the name Zeus (cf Latin deus, god), hence meaning "goddess of the bright sky".[3] This association does not prevent her, however, from being worshipped along with Zeus as a deity of springs, making her a water-goddess.[3]

Nymph or sea-nymph[edit]

One of the Hyades, the rain-bringing nymphs,[7] is Dione, the daughter of Atlas and an Oceanid nymph (either Pleione or Aethra); she[8] married king Tantalus and bore him sons Pelops and Broteas, and a daughter, Niobe.[9]

Among the 50 Mediterranean sea-nymphs called the Nereides was one Dione, like the others a daughter of Nereus and Doris.[10][11][12]

Phoenician goddess[edit]

In the Phoenician History, a literary work attributed to Sanchuniathon, a daughter of Uranus/Heaven and Gaia/Earth is called Dione and also Baaltis.[13] She is a sister of Kronos/Elus whom the latter made his wife after their father sent her, and her sisters, to kill Kronos/Elus. The latter gave the city Byblos to Dione. The exact identity of this Dione is uncertain: Sanchuniathon may have meant to identify her with Dione the Titaness. From her name Baaltis and association with Byblos she is taken to be Ba‘alat Gebal, the patron goddess of Byblos. However, some scholars[14] identify her with Asherah, proposing that Sanchuniathon merely uses Dione as a translation of Asherah's epithet Elat.


  1. ^ For the proposed etymology, see *Dyeus
  2. ^ "Bronze statuette of Venus or her mother, Dione". British Museum. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Kerenyi, 1974. pp. 68–69
  4. ^ Smith, 1873. "Dione"
  5. ^ Kerenyi, 1974. pp. 40, 42
  6. ^ Kerenyi, 1974. p. 133
  7. ^ Smith, 1873. "Hyades"
  8. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 82 & 83
  9. ^ Smith, 1873. "Tantalus"
  10. ^ Smith, 1873. "Nereis"
  11. ^ Apollodorus, 1.2.7.
  12. ^ Bane, Theresa (2013). Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 106. ISBN 9780786471119.
  13. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea. "The Theology of the Phoenicians", in Praeparatio evangelica, 4th century
  14. ^ Frank Moore Cross, Walter A. Maier, and Saul M. Olyan

General and cited references[edit]