Tenerus (son of Apollo)

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In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Theban hero Tenerus was the son and prophet of Apollo. His mother was Melia, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus.[1] According to Pausanius, Melia, who had been abducted by Apollo, gave birth to Tenerus and his brother Ismenus, the eponym of the Theban river.[2] The Teneric plain, Northwest of Thebes was named after Tenerus.[3]

Tenerus was a priest and prophet of Apollo, and had an oracle at the Ismenion, the Temple of Apollo at Thebes.[4] The late 6th–early 5th century BC Theban poet Pindar, called Tenerus "the temple tending seer",[5] and referred to him as "mighty Tenerus, chosen prophet of oracles", to whom Apollo entrusted the city of Thebes, "because of his wise courage", and whom Posiedon honored "above all mortals".[6] A very fragmentary Pindaric Paean, was perhaps addressed to Tenerus. Its first line has the singer sing: "(I come to?) the giver of divine oracles" and in line thirteen "we speak of the hero Tenerus", with mentions in the immediately succeeding lines of "bulls", "before the altar", "they sang a song", and "oracle".[7] Lycophron, refers to Thebes, or perhaps more generally Boeotia, as the "land and temples of Teneros".[8] Pausanias says that Tenerus was given "the art of divination", by his father Apollo.[9] Tenerus was also perhaps connected with the Ptoion, the oracular sanctuary of Apollo Ptoieus at the foot of Mount Ptoion.[10]


  1. ^ Hornblower, p. 433, 1211n; Larson, pp. 40–41, 142; Grimal, s.v. Tenerus, p. 439; Pindar fr. 52k 34–46 Race, pp. 292–295 = A1 (Pa. IX) Rutherford, pp. 189–192; Strabo, 9.2.34; Pausanias, 9.10.6, 9.26.1.
  2. ^ Pausanias, 9.10.6. However, in some traditions perhaps, the Thebans Melia and Ismenus were siblings, rather than mother and son, see Larson, p. 304 n. 57; Schachter 1967, p. 4; Fontenrose, p. 319; Scholia on Pindar Pythian 11.5–6 (Drachmann, pp. 254–255); Oxyrhynchus Papyri X 1241.4.5–10 (Grenfell and Hunt, pp. 104: Greek text, 109: translation).
  3. ^ Hornblower, p. 433, 1211n; Larson, p. 142; Strabo, 9.2.34, citing Pindar, see Pindar fr. 51d Race, pp. 246, 247; Pausanias, 9.26.1.
  4. ^ Hornblower, p. 433, 1211n; Scholiast on Pindar Pythian 11.5–6 (Drachmann, pp. 254–255; Rutherford, p. 196 n. 22); for the Ismenion and the cult of Tenerus, see Schachter 1981, pp. 77–88 (Tenerus: pp. 78–79); Schachter 1967, pp. 3–5.
  5. ^ Pindar fr. 51d Race, pp. 246, 247 = Strabo, 9.2.34.
  6. ^ Pindar fr. 52k 41–42 Race, p. 292, 293 = A1 (Pa. IX) Rutherford, pp. 189–192.
  7. ^ Pindar fr. 52g Race, pp. 278, 279 = D7 (Pa. 7) Rutherford, pp. 338–339. Concerning the first line, Rutherford, p. 340 says "I take it that the reference is to a person not a place, and I suggest that Tenerus is the most appropriate referent."
  8. ^ Lycophron, Alexandra 1211 (Hornblower, p. 433 with note; cf. Mair, pp. 594, 595).
  9. ^ Pausanias, 9.10.6 (Jones and Ormerod).
  10. ^ Although Strabo, 9.2.34, in a passage that quotes from otherwise unknown fragments of Pindar, says that Tenerus was "a prophet of the oracle on the Ptoüs Mountain", Schachter 1981, p. 59, says that Tenerus' "presence at the Ptoion may be due solely to Pindar", while Schachter 1967, p. 4, further explains that Pindar's associating Tenerus with the Ptoion "may be a poetic way of asserting the fact of Theban controll over the Ptoion, by making the legendary prophet of the Ismenion the prophet of the other oracle." See also Hornblower, p. 433, 1211n: "It has been thought, partly from location of the eponymous plain, that Teneros must have been somehow connected with the Ptoiuon. Strabo evidently thought so, 9. 2. 34, and cf. Schacter 1981-94: 1. 59, 3. 40, and many other scholars); but I. Rutherford 2001: 343-4 has challenged this, and is right to insist that hard linking evidence is in short supply. Actually the plain is much closer to Thebes than to the Ptoion (Barr. map 55 E4)."


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  • Fontenrose, Joseph Eddy, Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins, University of California Press, 1959. ISBN 9780520040915.
  • Grenfell, Bernard P., Arthur S, Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Part X, London, Egypt Exploration Fund, 1914. Internet Archive
  • Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, ISBN 9780631201021.
  • Hornblower, Simon, Lykophron: Alexandra: Greek Text, Translation, Commentary, and Introduction Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN 9780199576708.
  • Larson, Jennifer, "Greek Nymphs : Myth, Cult, Lore", Oxford University Press (US). June 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-512294-7
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  • Pausanias, Pausanias Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Race, William H., Pindar: Nemean Odes. Isthmian Odes. Fragments, Edited and translated by William H. Race. Loeb Classical Library No. 485. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-674-99534-5. Online version at Harvard University Press.
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  • Schachter, Albert (1967), "A Boeotian Cult Type" in Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (BICS), No. 14, pp. 1–16. JSTOR 43646076
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