Violets/2 – Other myths: Zeus and Io (first part)

In addition to the legend of Cupid, (see here) there are other myths related pansies and violets
According to Greek mythology, Zeus, the king of the gods, fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Io, who lived in Argos, in central Greece.
In order not to be discovered by his wife Hera while he was with her, he disguised into a cloud, and made love with her.

Here is what Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – 17/18 AD) says in his “Metamorphoses” (“Transformations”):

As she was returning from her father’s river, she was seen by Jupiter
Who said to her, “O maiden, worthy of Jupiter, before you make
Some man happy with your bed, seek the shade
of those deep woods (and pointed to the shadow of the woods),
While it is hot and the sun is at its highest point in the middle of the sky.
And don’t be afraid to enter the lairs of wild beasts alone,
Because with a god as protector you will go safely into the secrets of the woods.
And I am no common god, but I am he who holds the great
Celestial sceptres in my hand, and who sends wandering thunderbolts.
Do not flee me!” (For she was fleeing.) Already she had left behind the pastures of Lerna,
And the Lyrcean fields that were thick with trees,
When the god shrouded the wide lands with fog,
held the fleeing girl and destroyed her honour.

But Hera, his jealous wife, learnt about this relationship and turned Io into a cow to keep her away from her husband.
When Io wept over the taste and texture of the coarse grass she was compelled to eat, Zeus turned her tears into delicate, sweet-smelling violets that only she was allowed to eat.

Another version says that it was the king of the gods who transformed her into a heifer to save her from Hera’s jealousy, then made violets sprout from the earth as a pasture for his lover Io and called these beautiful flowers Ion.
The Athenians revered the violet, decorated their houses with it, and wore crowns of violets on various festive occasions.

Hera , seeing the beautiful white heifer, begged Zeus to have her as a present, and then entrusted the cow to her servant Argos , ordering him to keep her chained to a sacred olive tree and to watch her, to prevent Zeus from visiting her.
Argos was a giant surnamed Panoptes, the All-seeing, because he had a hundred eyes, some of which were always awake. He was therefore the perfect guardian because he could guard her day and night without interruption.
Zeus, however, sent the god Hermes, disguised as a shepherd , who managed to make the monster fall asleep. and close all his eyes, by playing the panpipes and telling stories, and then he killed him. Hera rewarded Argos for his service by placing his hundred eyes on the tail of her sacred bird, the peacock.
The sacrifice of Argos freed Io but Hera sent a gadfly to sting her continually, forcing her to run from country to country without rest to escape her insect.
In her wandering, she reached the sea between Europe and Asia and crossed the strait which thus was called Bosporus, which means “the passage of the cow” and finally the Ionian Sea, so named after her.

She met Prometheus, who had been chained on Mt. Caucasus by Zeus who told her that she would be restored to human form and become the ancestress of great heroes.
At last she reached Egypt, where she was restored to her human form.

To be continued

Oltre alla leggenda di Cupido, (vedi qui) ci sono altri miti legati alla viola.
Secondo la mitologia greca, Zeus si invaghì di una giovane e bellissima donna di nome Io, che viveva ad Argo, nella Grecia centrale.
Per non farsi scoprire dalla moglie Era, assunse le sembianze di una nube durata e fece l’amore con lei
Ecco cosa dice il poeta Ovidio (43 a.C. – 17 o 18 d.C.) nel suo capolavoro “Metamorfosi”:

Viderat a patrio redeuntem Iuppiter illam
flumine et ‘o virgo Iove digna tuoque beatum
nescio quem factura toro, pete’ dixerat ‘umbras
altorum nemorum’ (et nemorum monstraverat umbras)
‘dum calet, et medio sol est altissimus orbe!
quodsi sola times latebras intrare ferarum,
praeside tuta deo nemorum secreta subibis,
nec de plebe deo, sed qui caelestia magna
sceptra manu teneo, sed qui vaga fulmina mitto.
ne fuge me!’ fugiebat enim. iam pascua Lernae
consitaque arboribus Lyrcea reliquerat arva,
cum deus inducta latas caligine terras
occuluit tenuitque fugam rapuitque pudorem.

Mentre tornava dal fiume paterno, fu vista da Giove,
che le disse: “O vergine degna di Giove, che farai beato
lo sconosciuto che ti sposerà, ritìrati nell’ombra
di quei boschi profondi (e le indicava l’ombra di quei boschi),
ora che fa così caldo e alto è il sole in mezzo al cielo.
E non temere di addentrarti sola fra covi di belve feroci,
entra tranquilla nel cuore del bosco protetta da un dio
e non un dio qualunque, ma io, io che con mano potente
reggo lo scettro grandi cose celesti e scaglio fulmini vaganti.
Non fuggirmi!”, perché lei fuggiva; e già i pascoli di Lerna,
e i campi del Lirceo fitti di alberi s’era lasciata alle spalle,
quando il dio, indotta un’ampia nebbia sulla terra
vi si nascose, fermò la sua fuga e le rapì l’onore.

Ma Era, la sua gelosissima moglie, scoprì questa relazione e trasformò Io in una mucca per tenerla lontana da suo marito.
Quando Io, costretta a mangiare erba ruvida e dal cattivo sapore, si mise a piangere, Zeus trasformò le sue lacrime in delicate violette dal dolce profumo che solo a lei era permesso mangiare.

Un’altra versione dice che fu il re degli dei a trasformarla in giovenca per salvarla dalla gelosia di Era, e poi fece germogliare dalla terra le viole per poterla fare teneramente pascolare e chiamò questi bellissimi fiori Ion.
Gli Ateniesi veneravano la violetta, ne decoravano le case e indossavano corone di violette nelle varie occasioni festive.

Era, vedendo la bella giovenca bianca, chiese a Zeus di regalargliela e poi la affidò al suo servitore Argo, ordinandogli di incatenarla a un ulivo sacro e di sorvegliarla per impedire a Zeus di farle visita.
Argo era un gigante soprannominato Panoptes cioè ‘che tutto vede’, perché aveva cento occhi, alcuni dei quali erano sempre svegli. Argo era quindi il guardiano perfetto perché poteva custodirla giorno e notte, senza interruzioni.
Zeus però inviò il dio Hermes, travestito da pastore, che riuscì a far addormentare il mostro e chiudere tutti i suoi cento occhi, suonandogli il flauto e raccontandogli storie, e poi lo uccise.
Era ricompensò il suo servitore per il suo servizio ponendo i suoi cento occhi sulla coda del suo uccello sacro, il pavone.
Il sacrificio di Argo liberò Io ma Era mandò un tafano a tormentarla costringendola a correre per tutto il mondo conosciuto per sfuggire all’insetto.
Nel suo vagare, arrivò al braccio di mare tra Europa e Asia e attraversò quello stretto che prese il nome di Bosforo (che significa “passaggio della giovenca”) , e nuotò anche nel mar Ionio, che prese il nome da lei.
Incontrò Prometeo, che era stato incatenato sul Monte Caucaso da Zeus, che le disse che sarebbe stata riportata alla forma umana e sarebbe diventata l’antenata di grandi eroi, e finalmente raggiunse l’Egitto, dove fu riportata alle sue fattezze umane.

continua

79 thoughts on “Violets/2 – Other myths: Zeus and Io (first part)

  1. Wow . Very very interesting. I love this post. Dear Luisa, your blogs are so fascinating that I don’t have words enough to praise them. I do love them so much that I wait eagerly for your post of the day. ♥️♥️♥️♥️😘😘♥️♥️😊😊. Awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness, Luisa, has anyone told you today that you are beyond wonderful?! Greek mythology was one of my favourite subjects, but you ALWAYS know more! Thank you! Please, continue!!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Louisa, this is a fantastic saga and myth. So many gods involved because Zeus fell in love. Can’t say they didn’t have great imagination. I know of the gods but never this story. Thank you, clever woman.
    It is wonderful how the Violet again plays such a role. I do love that flower myself and planted some last week. 🤗🦋.

    Miriam

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of the sources of history is mythology . History could be churned out out of those mythology . Now it is not only a story but history that how Zeus , the king of the Gods , who had a beautiful wife like Hera , despite that , he fell in love with a young and beautiful woman Io who lived in Argos , located in the central Greece . Supposedly infallible the king of Gods fell in love with a woman despite he had a beautiful wife in the form of Hera . And it was natural that when Hera knew about all that she turned Io into cow . She also also tried to monitor her activities through Argos who had hundred of eyes . In India we have stories of RAVANA in the RAMAYAN who had ten heads and he could see towards all the ten directions of the world . He had also got boon from LORD BRAHMA that no celestial power could kill him . And when his atrocities on common human beings reached at peak LORD VISHNU took incarnation in the form of RAMA who was a human being himself and killed RAVANA in a battle . Similarly , Zeus sent the God Hermes to kill Argos who had hundred eyes . And Hermes did so . What we learn from such mythological stories is that the Almighty God also commit sometimes blunder during asserting His authority . And like man is also fallible . Anyway , your blog stories entertain us by imparting knowledge also . Thanks !

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I thank you very much for your words of support and encouragement, and I thank you above all for the reference you make to Indian culture, with which you are able to find precious connections.🙏🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing how many legends portray consequences for bad behaviour, thus teaching a lesson to all. It would be interesting to know how widely believed these “moral to the story” depictions were by the people of the time. Thanks for the back story Luisa. Happy Friday. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The purpose of myths was to create stories to explain natural or supernatural facts and to teach a certain good behavior.
      I don’t know how much they were believed by people: perhaps it depended on the ability to reason or accept everything acritically.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. As always, a fantastic post! Oh, how I’ve missed your magical Greek mythology! And I don’t think I’m ever going to look at “pansies” in the same way again since reading your last two pieces! Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Più che mai affascinante questa leggenda, ma povera Io ma quante ne ha passate!!! Sei sempre straordinaria nella scelta degli argomenti che tratti❣❣❣ Grazie infinite 🥰

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Ma è comunque bello perchè così si gusta un pezzo per volta il racconto è lo si può apprezzare di più di volta in volta che invece per intero che sicuramente non si coglierebbero appieno i dettagli. Sei tu che sei una grande per tutto il tempo che dedichi e le elaboriose ricerche che fai senza contare il più delle volte che le devi tutte tradurre, mica roba da ridere!!! Ancora grazie 💖

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Anni fa, spinto da curiosità, ho voluto capire da cosa derivasse il nome “Bosforo”, ed in effetti ero risalito a questa meravigliosa storia mitologica.
    Sarebbe bello se venissero insegnate, davvero. Non solo al Classico, intendo.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Every time I think I know something, I learn I have so much more to discover. I have adored Greek mythology since I was a child and was familiar with this story, but I’d never heard the association with the flowers. Thank you for that delightful tidbit of information to add to the telling. Absolutely fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I was a high school literature teacher, Greek mythology was one of my favorite subjects. The first thing I taught the kids was that myths are made up stories to explain things in nature. We read a lot of myths, but I never knew about this one before. The part about the violets is interesting, but the eyes transferred to the peacock tail – Ingenius!
    In closing that unit, we always did a “contrast and compare” between the ancient Greek world view and our Judeo-Christian heritage. The Greek religion seemed so chaotic, with their many gods competing, lying, betraying, fighting, cheating on one another, and generally acting like childish mortals. It makes interesting reading, but I’m glad I know ONE God that is perfect in wisdom, power, and love. I’m guessing I’m a lot more secure in my faith than the average Greek of the ancient world. 😉
    Thanks for sharing this fascinating story.

    Liked by 1 person

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