Cryptozoology, Greek Folklore, Greek Myth, Mythological Creature Archive

Mythological Creature; Arion, a green maned, divine horse from Greek Mythology

According to greekmythology.com (I’ll keep their hyperlinks so you can refer to their webpage for further research.) Arion was an immortal, talking horse in Greek mythology. He was reported to be very fast and was directly bred by the gods.

Sources differ on how the horse came into being. Some say that he was foaled by the goddess Demeter after laying with Poseidon, while others say that he was born of the goddess of Earth, Gaea, herself.

Its most notable owner was Adrastus, king of Argos. Arion is also mentioned in the myth of Heracles against the Eleans, in which the demigod took the stallion from Oncus. He then rode on Arion during the war, and gifted it to Adrastus afterwards. During the battle of the Seven Against Thebes, in which the brothers Eteocles and Polynices killed each other while vying for the Theban throne, Adrastus was the only attacker to survive thanks to Arion‘s intervention.

Wikipedia says that Arion means “moon-creature on high,” and goes on to talk about the Mythology and literary references of the famed divine horse. I’ve included them below.

The earliest literary mention of Arion is in Homer‘s Iliad (Book XXIII, ln. 346). Statius also made mention of the horse in his 1st-century Latin epic poem the Thebaid (Book VI, 301).

Homer

On the subject of Arion, Homer said in the Iliad: “… there is no man that shall catch thee by a burst of speed, neither pass thee by, nay, not though in pursuit he were driving goodly Arion, the swift horse of Adrastus, that was of heavenly stock…”

Pseudo-Apollodorus

Pseudo-Apollodorus (Book III, Ch. 6, sect. 8) recounts that in the defeat of the Argives, the same battle in which Eteocles and Polynices slew each other, Adrastus alone among the Argive leaders survived, saved by his horse Arion that Demeter, in the likeness of a Fury, had conceived by Poseidon. The scholiasts of the Iliad (XXIII, 347) and of Lycophron (153) attribute to him the same origin.

Pausanias

Pausanias says: “Demeter, they say, had by Poseidon a daughter, whose name they are not wont to divulge to the uninitiated, and a horse called Areion. For this reason they say that they were the first Arcadians to call Poseidon Horse.”

In support of the lineage they advance, Pausanias reports, the Arcadians cite some verses from the Iliad (23.346 quoted above) and the Thebaid (an early Greek epic of uncertain authorship, of which only fragments remain). Pausanias says that “in the Thebaid it is said that Adrastus fled from Thebes: ‘Wearing wretched clothes, and with him dark-maned Areion’ . Latin scholia assert that these verses indicate that Neptune was Arion’s sire. But Pausanias goes on to quote Antimachus of Colophon as saying that Arion was a child of the Earth (Gaia): “Adrastus, son of Talaus, descendant of Cretheus,The very first of the Danai to drive his famous horses,Swift Caerus and Areion of Thelpusa,Whom near the grove of Oncean ApolloEarth herself sent up a marvel for mortals to see.”

According to Pausanias, Heracles, waging war with the Eleans, acquired this horse from Oncus. The son of Zeus would have thus ridden upon Arion when he seized Elis. Thereafter, Heracles gave Arion to Adrastus; this is why Antimachus said of Arion: “Adrastus was the third lord who tamed him.”

******Check out Bulfinch Mythology -the Arion Myth here for the story of Arion and the dolphin. You can also read it here in modern speech. According to these stories, Arion was a musician!

  • Arion appears in Rick Riordan‘s fantasy novel The Son of Neptune, in which he is mastered by the Roman demigod Hazel Levesque, daughter of Pluto. Hazel encounters a caged Arion in the headquarters of the Amazons in Seattle, and successfully manages to both feed and then ride him. He subsequently appears in the remaining installments of the Heroes of Olympus series. According to Percy, the horse usually ‘cusses like a sailor’.
  • Japanese advertisements for the Mitsubishi Starion describe the name as referring to a star, and Arion.
  • Arion is featured in Wizard101. This version is a humanoid horse who is the son of Poseidon: Earth Shaker and the brother of Lamia. The players fight him in Atlantea within the “dungeon zone” of Aquila.

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story, using the Arion in your work- let me know about it in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

Photo Credit: https://tinyurl.com/yxlwlmfm
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