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In Greek mythology, the Telchines (Ancient Greek: Τελχῖνες, Telkhines) were the original inhabitants of the island of Rhodes, and were known in Crete and Cyprus.


Their parents were either Pontus and Gaia, or Tartarus and Nemesis, or else they were born from the blood of castrated Uranus along with the Erinyes.[1] In another story there were nine Telchines, children of Thalassa and Pontus; they had flippers instead of hands and the heads of dogs and were known as fish children.[2]

They were regarded as excellent metallurgists: various accounts[3][4] state that they were skilled metal workers in brass and iron, and made a trident for Poseidon and a sickle for Cronus, both ceremonial weapons.[5] By some accounts, their children were highly worshipped as gods in the three ancient Rhodian towns of Ialysos (Ἰαλυσός), Kamiros (Κάμειρος) and Lindos (Λίνδος).[citation needed]

The Telchines were entrusted by Rhea with the upbringing of Poseidon, which they accomplished with the aid of Capheira (Καφείρα), one of Oceanus' daughters.[3] Another version says that Rhea accompanied them to Crete from Rhodes, where nine of the Telchines, known as the Curetes, were selected to bring up Zeus.[6]

The Telchines were associated and sometimes confused with the Cyclopes, Dactyls and Curetes.[7]

They were believed to bring about hailstorms, snow, and rain at will, to assume any shape they pleased,[8] and produced a substance poisonous to living things.

The gods (Zeus, Poseidon or Apollo) eventually killed them because they began to use magic for malignant purposes;[9] particularly, they produced a mixture of Stygian water and sulfur, which killed animals and plants[10] (according to Nonnus, they did so as a revenge for being driven out of Rhodes by the Heliadae).[11] Accounts vary on how exactly they were destroyed: by flood,[9] or Zeus's thunderbolt,[12] or Poseidon's trident,[13] or else Apollo assumed the shape of a wolf to kill them.[14] They apparently lost one of the titanomachias, the battles between the gods and the Titans.


The following individual names are attested in various sources:

Relation Name Sources
(Sch. on) Bacchylides Diodorus Ovid Nonnus[15] Hesychius[16] Stephanus[17] Tzetzes[1][18] Eustathius[19]
Parentage Gaia and blood of Uranus
Gaia and Pontus
Pontus and Thalassa
Tartarus and Nemesis
Individual Names Lykos (Lycus)
Aktaios (Actaeus) or √ or
Hormenius or Ormenos
Damon or Demonax
Mimon or Simon
Female Telchines Makelo or Macelo
Dexithea or Dexione

Known female Telchines were Makelo, Dexithea (one of Damon's daughters)[20] and probably Lysagora (the attesting text is severely damaged).[21] Ovid in his Ibis mentions that Makelo, like the other Telchines, was killed with a thunderbolt;[22] according to Callimachus[23] and Nonnus,[13] however, Makelo was the only one to be spared. According to Bacchylides,[21] the survivor is Dexithea. Bacchylides also mentions that Dexithea later had a son Euxanthios by Minos.[24] This Euxanthios is also known from Pindar's works.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tzetzes on Theogony 80
  2. ^ Eustathius on Homer, p. 771
  3. ^ a b Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 55. 5 ff
  4. ^ Strabo, Geography 14. 2
  5. ^ Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 28 ff
  6. ^ Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 19
  7. ^ Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 7
  8. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 5. 55.
  9. ^ a b Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 365 ff
  10. ^ Strabo, Geography 14. 2. 7
  11. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 36 ff
  12. ^ a b Pindar, Paean 5
  13. ^ a b Nonnus, Dionysiaca 18. 35
  14. ^ Servius' on Aeneid IV. 377
  15. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 36
  16. ^ Hesychius s. v. Mylas
  17. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Ataburon
  18. ^ John Tzetzes. Chiliades, 7.124
  19. ^ Eustathius on Homer p. 772
  20. ^ Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 75
  21. ^ a b Bacchylides, Fragment 1
  22. ^ Ovid, Ibis, 475
  23. ^ Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 3. 1
  24. ^ Confirmed by the account of Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 1. 2

External links[edit]