Part 254: Kastor and PolluxSo in honor of Shinjiro...
DOUBLEHEADER PERSONA MYTHOLOGY UPDATE
Let's talk about the Dioskouroi.
You can't really talk about these two separately, which is why I'm putting them into one big update. Castor and Polydeuces were, like many other Greek heroes, the sons of Zeus, who fathered them on Queen Leda of Sparta in the form of a swan. Leda subsequently produced two eggs, out of which hatched Castor, Polydeuces and their sisters, Klutaimnestra and Helen. Because of their divine origin, the twin boys became known as the Dioskouroi, the sons of Zeus. However, many stories assert that two of Leda's children were mortals fathered by her husband, Tundareos. As such, the Dioskouroi are also known as the Tundaridai, the sons of Tundareos. For the sake of this update, I'm going with the story that puts Castor as the mortal son and Polydeuces as the divine one.
Polydeuces became famous as a boxer and Castor as a great horseman. The two brothers participated in the hunt for the Calydonian boar and the voyage of the Argo. During that voyage, the Argonauts landed in the land of the Bebryces, a mythical people located in the northwestern part of Asia Minor. The Bebrycian king Amykos, himself the son of Poseidon, challenged all passing travelers to a boxing match and killed each one with his divine strength. Polydeuces took up his challenged and slew Amykos during the match.
As part of a pact made with his best friend Pirithous to each marry a daughter of Zeus, Theseus kidnapped Helen and put her in the care of his mother Aithra in Aphidnes. After Theseus had left his kingdom in Attica, the Dioskouroi invaded the country and made his rival Menestheus king instead. They brought Helen back to Sparta and took Aithra with them to serve as her handmaid.
The end of the Dioskouroi would lie in a dispute with their cousins Lunkeus and Idas. Not learning from Theseus's mistakes, the Dioskouroi decided to abduct and marry the Leukippides, Phoebe and Ilaeira. However, Phoebe and Ilaeira were already betrothed to Lunkeus and Idas, who were naturally pissed. Another story says that Castor, Polydeuces, Lunkeus, and Idas all raided Arcadia for cattle, but butchered a calf for food before dividing the herd. Idas suggested that they divide the herd in two and then award each half to the first and second people to finish their meal. He then devoured his portion and his brother's portion and drove the entire herd back to his home in Messene. The Dioskouroi invaded Messene and carried off a large number of cattle.
Whatever the cause, Lunkeus and Idas came to blows with the Dioskouroi. During the battle, Idas mortally wounded Castor with a spear. He then turned to kill Polydeuces, who had already slain Lunkeus. But Zeus struck him down before he could kill Polydeuces.
As Castor lay dying, Polydeuces begged Zeus to allow him to die with his beloved brother. However, because he was divine and Castor was not, Polydeuces was destined to spend the afterlife on Olympus while Castor dwelt in the Underworld. Polydeuces insisted on sharing his immortality with his brother. As a result, the brothers alternated their days between the Underworld and Olympus together.
Interestingly, the Dioskouroi became especially popular gods during the Roman Empire. They were worshiped as patrons of sailors and horsemen. Cicero claims that the notable Scopas scolded his in-house poet Simonides for devoting too much space to the Dioskouroi in a poem meant to celebrate Scopas's victory in a chariot race. Shortly thereafter, Simonides was called out of the room by a message stating that two young men wished to speak to him. After he left, the roof collapsed upon Simonides, killing him.