Tithonus - Encyclopedia

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TITHONUS, in Greek legend, according to Homer son of Laomedon, king of Troy and husband of Eos (the morning). In the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Eos is said to have carried him off because of his great beauty. She entreated Zeus that he might live for ever; this was granted, but she forgot to ask for immortal youth for him. He became a hideous old man; Eos then shut him up in a chamber; his voice "flowed on unceasingly," but his limbs were helpless. A later development is the change of Tithonus into a grasshopper, after Eos had been obliged to wrap him like a child in swaddling-clothes and to put him to sleep in a kind of cradle. He was probably associated with the Trojan royal house, since the inhabitants of the original home of the legend (probably central or northern Greece) looked upon the East, the land of the morning, as the home of Eos. In some versions she is said to have carried him away still farther East, to the land of Ethiopia near the ocean streams; this is euhemeristically referred by Diodorus Siculus to an expedition undertaken against Ethiopia by Tithonus, son of Laomedon.

It is probable that Tithonus was originally a sun-god; the scholiast on Iliad, xi. 5, who calls him Titan, identifies him with Apollo, and there are many points of resemblance between him and the sun-god Helios. The story is generally regarded as an allegorical representation of the fresh morning sun dried up by the heat of the advancing day. Possibly it is merely intended as a warning to mortals not to unite with immortals, lest they incur the jealousy and wrath of, the gods.

See Homer, Iliad, xi. I, xix. 237; Hymn in Venerem, 219 sqq., with Allen and Sikes's notes; Apollodorus iii. 12, 4; Diod. Siculus iv. 75; Horace, Odes, ii. 16, 30; Propertius iii. io (18); O. Gruppe, Griechische Mythologie, i. 313, n. 16, who attributes a Milesian origin to the story; articles "Eos" by Rapp in Roscher's Lexikon der Mythologie and by Escher in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopddie.

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