Jump to content

Perse (mythology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Member of the Oceanids
ParentsOceanus and Tethys
SiblingsOceanids, Potamoi
ChildrenCirce, Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, Perses, Aloeus

In Greek mythology, Perse (Ancient Greek: Πέρση, romanizedPérsē, lit.'destroyer') is one of the 3,000 Oceanids, water-nymph daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys.[1][2][3] Her name was also spelled as Persa, Perseide, Persea[4] or Perseis (Περσηίς, Persēís).[5] Perse married Helios, the god of the sun, and bore him several children, most notably the sorceress-goddess Circe.


Perse was one of the wives of the sun god, Helios.[6][7] According to Homer and Hesiod, with Helios she had Circe and Aeëtes,[8] with later authors also mentioning their children Pasiphaë,[9] Perses,[10] Aloeus,[11] and even Calypso,[11] who is however more commonly the daughter of Atlas. It is not clear why Perse bore Helios, the source of all light, such dark and mysterious children.[12]

When Aphrodite cursed Helios to fall in love with the mortal princess Leucothoe, he is said to have forgotten about Perse.[13] She seems to have been linked to witchcraft and knowledge of herbs and potions, much like her daughters Circe and Pasiphaë.[14] She might have also been associated with the witchcraft goddess Hecate, who was also called Perseis (as in "daughter of Perses")[15][16] and who is said to be Circe's mother in one version.[17][18]

Possible connections[edit]

Perseis' name has been linked to Περσίς (Persís), "female Persian", and πέρθω (pérthō), "destroy" or "slay" or "plunder".[citation needed]

Kerenyi also noted the connection between her and Hecate due to their names, denoting a chthonic aspect of the nymph, as well as that of Persephone, whose name "can be taken to be a longer, perhaps simply a more ceremonious, form of Perse",[19] as did Fowler, who noted that the pairing made sense given Hecate's association with the Moon.[20] It has been suggested that Hecate's "Perseis" epithet denotes lunar connections.[21] However, as Mooney notes, there is no evidence that Perse was ever a moon goddess on her own right.[22]

An inscription of Mycenaean Greek (written in Linear B) was found on a tablet from Pylos, dating back to 1400–1200 BC. John Chadwick reconstructed[n 1] the name of a goddess, *Preswa who could be identified with Perse. Chadwick found speculative the further identification with the first element of Persephone.[24][25]


Perse's family tree

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The actual word in Linear B is 𐀟𐀩𐁚, pe-re-*82 or pe-re-swa; it is found on the PY Tn 316 tablet.[23]


  1. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 356
  2. ^ Kerényi, Carl (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 40.
  3. ^ Bane, Theresa (2013). Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-7864-7111-9.
  4. ^ Virgil, Ciris 66
  5. ^ Tzetzes on Lycophron, 798
  6. ^ Hecataeus of Miletus, fr. 35A Fowler
  7. ^ Hard, p. 44
  8. ^ Homer, Odyssey 10.135; Hesiod, Theogony 956
  9. ^ Apollonius of Rhodes, 4.591; Apollodorus, 1.9.1; Cicero, De Natura Deorum 48.4
  10. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Preface
  11. ^ a b Tzetzes ad Lycophron, 174 (Gk text)
  12. ^ Bell, s. v. Perse
  13. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.205[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Ovid, The Cure for Love Part IV
  15. ^ Apollonius of Rhodes, 3.478
  16. ^ Johannsen, Nina (2006). "Perse(is)". In Cancik, Hubert; Schneider, Helmuth (eds.). Brill's New Pauly. Translated by Christine F. Salazar. Kiel: Brill Reference Online. doi:10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e914920. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  17. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.45.1
  18. ^ The Classical Review vol. 9, p. 391
  19. ^ Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951, pp 192-193
  20. ^ Fowler, p. 16, vol. II
  21. ^ The Classical Review vol. 9, pp 391–392
  22. ^ Mooney, p. 58
  23. ^ Raymoure, K.A. "pe-re-*82". Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B. Deaditerranean. "PY 316 Tn (44)". DĀMOS: Database of Mycenaean at Oslo. University of Oslo.
  24. ^ Chadwick, John (1976). The Mycenaean World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN 0-521-29037-6. At Google Books.
  25. ^ Comments about the goddess pe-re-*82 of Pylos tablet Tn 316, tentatively reconstructed as *Preswa
    "It is tempting to see ... the classical Perse ... daughter of Oceanus ...; whether it may be further identified with the first element of Persephone is only speculative." John Chadwick. Documents in Mycenean Greek. Second Edition


External links[edit]