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  Abundance  Abundantia  Plenty

In Roman mythology, Abundantia was a minor goddess of luck, abundance and prosperity. She distributed food and money from a cornucopia. She survived into French folklore as Lady Hobunde. (Corn sheaf, Cornucopia ("horn of plenty"), Charity/children, Rudder as symbol of grain harvest which mostly came to Rome by boat)
Aeneas and the Cumaean Sibyl.

Preparations for the descent to the Underworld.  Aeneas and his men land at Cumae. While they busy themselves with fire and food, Aneas goes to the temple of Apollo and consults the prophetic Sibyl.
She tells of a bleak future in cryptic terms, but at the same time grants Aeneas' wish to descend to the Underworld and visit his dead father. Aeneas returns to the beach to find one of his followers, Misenus dead. The search for the Golden Bough, the talisman to which the Sybil; has directed Aeneas, the burial of Misenus and the sacrifice to the gods of the Underworld, all complete the ritual preparations for the descent.

More on Aeneas: 1) 2)

  Aeolus (or Aiolos, Αἴολος)

In Greek Mythology Aeolus was the Keeper of the Winds and by some accounts he was married to Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Their four children were the four Winds: Zephyrus, Notus, Boreas, Eurus.

More on Aeolus 1) 2) 3)

In Greek mythology, Aethra was a daughter of King Pittheus of Troezena and, with Aegeas, or in some versions, Poseidon, mother of Theseus.

More on Aethra: 1) 2) 3)
Alexander the Great and the family of Darius.

At Issus, on the Mediterranean coast just north of Syria, Alexander met and defeated Darius' army again. Darius fled eastward through Mesopotamia, leaving behind his family, his harem and his treasury. Alexander treated Darius' family and harem with tact and courtesy. And, with this victory, Alexander now considered himself king of Asia.

More on Alexander's generosity 1) 2)


Alligator, see Caiman.



1) Vestal Virgins. (0042, 0042.2 symb)

  Amor: see Cupid.


1) Hope (0047 symb). The Anchor, partly hidden by her robes, is derived from St Paul who said of hope (Heb. 6:19), ‘It is like an anchor for our lives…it enters in through a veil.’ (Hall, 1979).

2) Clement (Pope).

3) Nicholas of Myra (Bishop).


In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of Ethiopia. Cassiopeia had bragged that she was more beautiful than the Nereids (water-nymphs), and so in revenge, Poseidon sent a flood and a sea monster to plague the land. Cepheus then consulted the oracle of Ammon, and was told that he had to sacrifice his daughter to the sea monster in order for the problem to end. His people forced him to comply with the oracle, and he chained Andromeda to a rock by the sea. She was rescued by Perseus who killed the monster and then married Andromeda. One of their children, Perses, became the ancestor of the kings of Persia.

Andromeda is Greek for "ruler of men". She is represented in the northern sky by the constellation Andromeda which contains the Andromeda Galaxy.

More on Andromeda: 1) 2)


1) Orpheus playing music for the animals. (0043 symb)


Apollo is the god of prophecy, of musical and artistic inspiration, of archers and of healing.

Lyre, Bow, Quiver, sun-god's Halo. driving a Chariot as sun-god, Crown of laurel leaves, shepherds Crook, Swan, Globe, Wolf. Python (dragon),

Apollo and the Python.
In his youth, Apollo killed the vicious dragon Python, which lived in Delphi beside the Castalian Spring because Python had attempted to rape Leto while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis.This was the spring which emitted vapors that caused the Oracle at Delphi to give her prophesies. Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since Python was a child of Gaia.

More on Apollo

1) Aphrodite/Venus. She holds only one, identified as the apple of Eris (Conflict), which bore the legend "To the most beautiful (goddess)". Paris awarded this apple to Aphrodite, rather than either of her competitors for the title, Athene and Hera, an incident which triggered the Trojan War.

But the ancient Greeks saw apples as suitable love gifts, and perhaps Aphrodite's apple originally simply referred to this, with a possible oblique reference to the shape of a woman's breasts.

2) Atlas. This giant helped Heracles fetch the apples of the Hesperides (see below).

3) Heracles/Hercules. Sometimes he holds a few apples, identified with those of the Hesperides. Fetching these fruits from an island in the far west was one of the heroic feats he had to perform.

4) Three Graces.

5) Paris.

6) Vigilance.

    Apple tree.

This often represents that of the Hesperides. Cf. apple(s). Therefore the following people tend to be near:

1) Atlas.

2) Heracles/Hercules.

3) The Hesperides, or one or two of these.
  Aphrodite: see Venus.

Arion was a legendary poet in ancient Greece (originally of Lesbos) who lived in the court of Periander, tyrant of Corinth, Greece.

Dolphin, Lye, Lira di Braccio a Viol type insrtument, Laurel wreath, Boat in background.

More on Arion 1) 2) 3)
  Arrows: see bow and arrows.
Artemis (Diana).

Artemis devoted herself to the chase. She also discovered how to effect the healing of young children, and the foods which are suitable to the nature of babes. Goddess of the hunters, and watcher over streets and harbours. She became identified with Luna/Selene.
(bow, quiver, spear, deer, stag, dog, chariot drawn by stags horses or nymhps, crescent moon, as Chasity she carries a shield to protect her against Love's arrows,)

More on Artemis
More on Diana


Wife of Mausolus, the satrap of Caria in Asia Minor. She succeeded her husband on his death in 353 B.C., and erected a great monument to his memory at Halicarnassus - hence 'mausoleum'. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was said that she mixed the ashes of Mausolus in liquid which she then drank, thereby, observes Valerius Maximus, making of herself a living, breathing tomb (4:6). Artemisia symbolizes a widow's devotion to her husband's memory. In Renaissance painting she is depicted holding a cup or a goblet, or perhaps with an urn inscribed 'Mausolus'. (0018 symb)
  Asclepius  Asklepios Aesculapius.

Asclepius is the god of healing. (The main attribute of Asclepius is a physician's staff with an Asclepian snake wrapped around it. Not to be confused with a Caduceus which is the attribute of Hermes/Mercury)

More on Asclepius 1) 2)

  Astronomy, personified: see Muses, Urania.
Atala and Chactas.

Tale by Francois Rene Vicomte de Chateaubriand 'Atala or the love of two savages in the dessert', 1801. Love story of Chactas, a young Natchez Indian, and Atala, the daughter of a Spaniard and a Christian Indian woman. Chactas is taken prisoner during a tribal dispute and is chosen to be sacrified. Atala who is the adoptive daughter of the tribal chief, has secretly met him and fallen in love with him. In order to protect his life she sets him free.
After the rescue they live in a small Christian village for which a hermit is the priest.
Atala, who had given her mother the promise to remain a virgin, is torn by her new feelings and commits suicide. The inconsolable Chactis and the hermit, start a heart breaking song and bury the beautiful virgin at sunset (Nh p.144-145).
A feather crown is symbolizing Atala's status as 'daughter' of the tribal chief. Chactas' dark skin is his exotic trademark, as is the palm tree. 

1) Some say that the Titan Atlas worked out the science of astrology and discovered the spherical nature of the stars. But he is best known for bearing on his shoulders the pillars which keep earth and heaven apart. This burden, a heavy one and difficult to grasp, is the punishment Zeus imposed on him for having been the leader of the TITANS during their war against the OLYMPIANS [see Titanomachy]. And Atlas, they say, though pre-eminent in strength, moans as he holds the vault of the sky on his back.
2) Atlas is a scion of the Titans, the Greek race of giants, and the son of Iapetus and the nymph Clymene. He is the father of the Hesperides, the Hyades and the Pleiades. He was also thought to be the king of legendary Atlantis ("Land of Atlas").
In the revolt of the Titans against the gods of the Olympic, Atlas stormed the heavens and Zeus punished him for this deed by condemning him to forever bear the heavens upon his shoulders. Hence his name, which means "bearer" or "endurer".
To complete the eleventh of his twelve labors, Heracles had to obtain the golden apples of the Hesperides, and he asked Atlas for help. Heracles offered to bear Atlas's burden in his absence, when he went to retrieve the apples. Atlas agreed to perform the task readily enough, since he did not plan on ever bearing that burden again. When Atlas returned with the apples, Heracles requested him to assume the load for a moment, saying he needed to adjust the pad to ease the pressure on his shoulders. After Atlas bore the heavens again, Heracles walked off with the golden apples.
When Atlas refused to give shelter to Perseus, the latter changed Atlas into stone, using Medusa's head. On the place where Atlas stood, now lie Mount Atlas (north-western Africa). In art, Atlas is usually depicted as a man bearing a globe.
More on Atlas

Athena (Pallas Athena)/Minerva.

One of the major deities of ancient Greece and Rome, and, like Apollo, a benevolent and civilizing influence. In Greek mythology she was the daughter of Jupiter (Zeus), and sprang fully armed from his head. The familiar figure with spear, shield and helmet (symb. 0011), the patroness of institutions of learning and the arts, seen in civic heraldry, sculpture and painting, is only one of her many aspects. In an early form she was a war goddess, hence her weapons. The serpent-haired head of Medusa was given to her by Perseus after she had helped him to slay his monsters. In antique art the head appears on her 'aegis', or goatskin cloak, which is also fringed with serpents. Later, it decorates her shield. As a war goddess Minerva fights for the defence of just causes, not, like Mars, for the sake of destruction.
Minerva was was the guardian of other heroes besides Perseus. She was the patroness of Athens, and the Parthenon was her temple. Like Diana she was a virgin goddess, though she was not without suitors, among them the smith-god Vulcan (Hephaestus). She was the patroness of many household crafts, especially spinning and weaving, and invented the flute. But above all, the Greeks and Romans, the Renaissance and later, she was the goddess of wisdom. In this role, her owl, sacred to her in antiquity, is perched near her, often on a pile of books, symbols of learning. The snake was associated with the Greek Athena at the beginning of her cult. Its association with wisdom, or prudence, comes from Matt. 10:16, 'Be ye therefore wise as serpents'. Its first use in connection with Minerva, in this specific sense, seems to be in Renaissance allegory, where the goddess personifies wisdom. She may have an olive branch, also sometimes a symbol of wisdom.
  Aurora: see Eos.
Axe  see also Double Axe.

1) Prometheus.    And when the time came for the birth to take place, Prometheus (or else Hephaestus) smote the head of Zeus with an axe, and Athena, fully armed, came out of the top of his head at the river Triton in Libya. This is how Athena was born, but the Libyans say otherwise.

2) Athena.



1) Chronos (0062 symb).



1) Alexander the Great. The god like conquerer is shown as a young student. According to tradition Alexander used to hold a ball in his hand an when it slipped into a metal basin because his hand tired, the noise would wake him. (0027 symb).



1) Ceres (0008 symb).


Basin, metal.

1) Alexander the Great. The god like conquerer is shown as a young student. According to tradition Alexander used to hold a ball in his hand an when it slipped into a metal basin because his hand tired, the noise would wake him (0027 symb).


The Roman goddess of war, popular among the Roman soldiers. She accompanied Mars in battle, and was variously given as his wife, sister or daughter. Bellona's attribute is a sword and she is depicted wearing a helmet and armed with a spear and a torch. She could be of Etruscan origin, and is identified with the Greek Enyo.

1) Symbol of the soul in Ancient Egypt. In pagan antiquity it signified the soul of man that flew away at his death, a meaning that is retained in the Christian symbol. It is generally seen in the hand of the infant Christ, and is most commonly a goldfinch.

2) Juno. Symbol of air, one of the Four Elements; attribute of Juno when personifying Air.

3) Attribute of Touch, one of the Five Senses.

4) Allegorie of Spring, one of the Four Seasons. Birds are caged, snared, tamed on a string.

5) Herculus shooting down the monstrous Stymphalian birds.

6) Symbol of innocence (0001 symb).

A Crow as symbol of hope, because it calls 'cras cras' i.e. 'tomorrow tomorrow' in Latin.   More 1)

Bird, dead

1) Symbol of lost innocence. Depicted as a girl mourning over its lost innocence (0001 symb).
    Black skin: see Skin, dark.


Vestal Virgins. (0042.2 symb)



1) Amor and Chronos (Love and Time). Chronos is sitting in a boat, which is steered by Amor, and has his head lowered in a contemplative manner. The composition was inspired by a popular song by Joseph-Alexandre de Segur (1757-1805) where Amor is singing: “See young shepards and shepardesses – how love lets tim fly”. The song ends with the triumph of Chronos: “I sing in my own way the old refrain of wisdome: Ah! Le temps fait passer l’Amour – time lets love pass” (Nh p. 43) (B0004 symb).


A common attribute of the Virtues personified:

1) the Seven Liberal Arts, especially Rhetoric ('Cicero'), and Grammar whose pupils bend over their books.

2) Philosophy, with a sceptre in her other hand.

3) History, who writes in a book. (0016 symb)

4) the Muses (Urania) (0013 symb), especially Clio (history: 'Herodotus', 'Thucydides') and Calliope (epic poetry: 'Iliad', 'Oddyssey', 'Aeneid').

5) Melancholy, one of the Four Temparaments may be surrounded by books.

6) Paolo and Francesca. Lovers sharing a book.

7) Scipio. A book and a sword offered to a warrior asleep under a tree.

8) Alchemist. The Alchemist may pore over a book in his workshop.

9) Woman reading a book: “Pendulum clock a la Geoffrin”. An allegorical portrait of Madame Geoffrin, who ran an important salon and who had been painted on the pose of a student by Nattier in 1738. Diderot called the pedulum clock “Pendulum clock a la Geoffrin”. The popular mold was recast numerous times over a period of three decades, one of the earliest casts is in th Wallace collection and dates from circa 1768. (B0002 symb)
  Boots, winged. See sandals, winged.
  Bow and arrows. (A quiver may be added.)

1) Apollo.

2) Artemis/Diana. (0015,
0034 symb)

3) Eros/Cupid/Amor (0019 symb). Amor carving his bow out of Hercules' club (0054 symb). Amor sharpening his love arrows (symb 0055).

4) Heracles/Hercules. Cf. club.

5) America. One of the Four Parts of the World, personified as a female figure with a naked upperbody (crown of feathers, skirt of feathers, caiman, palm tree). (0026 symb)
  Bowl, cup.

1) Dionysus/Bacchus. His bowl has often two ears, and is of a kind used in ceremonial contexts.

2) Maenad/Bacchante. (0037, 0039 symb).

3) Ganymede. He waited at the gods' table; his bowl, too, is a drinking vessel.

4) Hestia/Vesta. It is understood in this case that the bowl contains embers or ashes from her hearth.

5) Filled with sacrifice gifts:
Vestal Virgins (0042 symb).

6) Zeus in scenes depicting his sacred marriage to Hera may hold a large bowl. It is probably implied that he and she will ritually drink from it during the ceremony.

7) Artemisia. (0018 symb).

8) Hebe, with jug and or bowl (cup) and eagle.
    Breasts, bare.

1) Maenad/Bacchante. The Bacchantes belong to the followers of Dionysus/Bacchus, the god of wine and intoxication.  Their drunkness is made clear by their unstable stance and their breasts, bared in their wild dance.
(0037, 0039 symb).
2) Cimon and Pero, Breast-feeding.   See: Roman Charity.  More 2)
3) Hera was deceived into breast-feeding baby Herakles, and he bit down with his powerful teeth, injuring her breast. When she threw him down, he spewed a mouthful of milk, which is still visible today as the Milky Way in the sky.  More 1)


Spear, Shield with union jack, Crown, Lion. Sword, Trident

1) Europa. Zeus fell in love with her, disguising himself as a bull. Beguiled by the bull’s good nature, she garlanted its horns with flowers and climbed upon it’s back (floral garland). Europa is usually shown riding on the bull. According to Robert Graves, "Europa", which may mean "broad face", is a cow's name, and the story may originally have been about a sacred encounter between a cow goddess and a bull god. (0028 symb)

2) Mithras. The central myth where this god figures is about his killing a bull. Most Mithras representations show him sitting on top of this animal, running his sword into it.

3) Theseus & Minotaur. In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a monster, half man and half bull, offspring of Pasiphae, wife of King Minos of Crete, and a bull. It lived in the Labyrinth at Knossos, and its victims were seven girls and seven youths, sent in annual tribute by Athens, until Theseus killed it, with the aid of Ariadne, the daughter of Minos.  More: Theseus, Minotaur, Theseus and Minotaur.

4) Theseus & Bull of Marathon.
Theseus seized the bull of Marathon, which was causing a lot of damage in Attica.
Aethra gave birth to Theseus, who came of age and set off for Athens with the sword and sandals, encountering and defeating six murderous adversaries along the way. When Theseus reached Athens, Medea, the wife of Aegeus, persuaded Aegeus to kill the as of yet unrecognized Theseus by having him attempt to capture the savage Marathonian Bull. Theseus does the unexpected and succeeds, so Medea tells Aegeus to give him poisoned wine. Aegeus recognizes Theseus' sword as he is about to drink and knocks the goblet from his lips at the last second.



1) Psyche/symbol of the soul.  The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means the soul. (0025 symb).


Butterfly wings.

1) Psyche. The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means the soul. (0051 symb).

  Bull's head.

The Minotaur is equipped with one, though the rest of him is human.
  Caduceus. This is a staff entwined with one or two serpents.

1) Asclepius/Aesculapius. His staff has one snake only. The god represented healing, as did the snake—that they shed their sloughs and survive was regarded as an instance, or symbol, of rejuvenation, regeneration, and immortality. Also today, the one-snake staff is an emblem of medicine.

2) Hermes/Mercury. His staff is that of a herald, and moreover entwined with two snakes. Although that of Asclepius only has one, it is easy to suspect that these two staffs originally were the same.

Hermes, who conducted souls to the Underworld, might have been felt in need of such a regenerative object. His snakes are often so stylized that they resemble an upright figure of eight.


1) America. One of the Four Parts of the World, personified as a female figure with a naked upperbody (crown of feathers, skirt of feathers, bow and arrows, palm tree). (0026 symb)

  Camillus, Marcus Furius.  (circa 446- 365 BC) was a Roman soldier and statesman of patrician descent. He was censor in 403 BC, triumphed four times, was five times dictator, and was honoured with the title of Second Founder of Rome.

Sword, laurel, helmet, shield,

More on Camillus:
1) 2)
  The marriage at Cana.

The marriage at Cana is the scene of Christ's first miracle when he turned water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. Christ is seated at the right; next to him is his mother, Mary, who had told the servants to do Christ's bidding. Christ asked to have six stone jars filled with water which, when tasted, was found to be wine of the finest quality.

Jars, cup, bowl, glass,


Bellona. (0044 symb)

  Cap, soft and pointed.

1) Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux.

2) Ganymede.

3) Hephaestus/Vulcan.

4) Mithras. (Sometimes this god instead wears a crown or halo with rays emanating from it.)

Medea, who rejuvenated a ram in a cauldron of boiling water. (This may be the origin, or one origin, of the traditional cauldron used by witches.)
  Ceres: see Demeter.
  Chactas: see Atala and Chactas.

The triomphal car which carries a mythical, allegorical or historical figure, is generally drawn by two or sometimes more creatures of an appropriate kind.

- Angels draw the Chariot of Eternity.
- An ass that of Silenius.
- Butterflies: Amor (0004.5 symb); Amor and Psyche (0004.6 symb).
- Centaurs: Bacchus.
- Cocks: Mercury.
- Dogs: Vulcan.
- Dolphins: Galatea.
- Doves: Venus; Amor (0004.7 symb).
- Dragons: Ceres.
- Eagles: Jupiter.
- Elephants: Fame (one of the Triumphs of Petrarch), Father Time.
- Goats: Bacchus and Cupid.
- Horses: Four horses draw the Chariot of: a. Apollo (the quadriga) (0004 symb), b. Helios the Sun, c. Phaeton (0004.4 symb)  d. Aurora, e. Cupid;
Horses draw the Chariot of: e. Diana/Luna (2), f. Night (2), g. Pluto (3), h. Armida.
- Leopards: Bacchus.
- Lions: Cybille, Cybele. Nike.
- Oxen: a. Death, b. Demeter/Ceres (0004.3 symb).
- Peacocks: Juno.
- Putti: Flora
- Stags (Deers): Diana (0004.2 symb) and Father Time (Chronos).
- Storks: Mercury.
- Swans: Venus.
- Tigers: Bacchus.
- Unicorns: Chastity.
- Wolves: Mars.
- Chariot, wrecked:  Phaeton. (0004.4 symb). 
Chariot clocks.  

The Thriuph of Flora. Atriuphal procession led by Venus in which Flora takes part. Flora rides on a chariot drawn by putti.

See also
Phaeton and Helios (Apollo).
    Roman Charity.    (Cimon & Pero)

When the aged Cimon was forced to starve in prison before his execution, his devoted daughter Pero secretly visited her father to nourish him at her own breast. In his Memorable Acts and Sayings of the Ancient Romans, the ancient Roman historian Valerius Maximus, Pero's selfless devotion was presented as the highest example of honoring one's parent.
    Chest armour.

1) Athena/Minerva as warrior goddess (0033 symb).

Bellona (0044 symb).
  Chronos see also boat

Myth of a Greek God, Saturn (Chronos)

1) The early history of Greece is just a mass of legends wherein history and fable blend inextricably and facts loom doubtfully. The earliest of the legends deal with the gods, and of these gods we are told that the first of all, creator of all things, was Uranus, or heaven, who had for wife Gaea, or earth. To these two were born many children, chief of whom was Saturn, or Chronos, the god of time, from whom come our words chronology, chronometer, etc.

Chronos rebelled against his father and deposed him; or, in other words, active, swift-flying time took the place of immovable eternity. During the reign of Chronos men were born and peopled the earth. Then Chronos was in his turn dethroned by his son Zeus, or Jupiter, the thunderer, the god who typifies the rule of intellect over mere earthly force. Thus Chronos in his old age was exiled from heaven, the region of the gods, and dwelt on earth among men. He made his home in Italy, where he taught men so much that they all lived in peace and wisdom and ever after looked back to the time of Chronos as "the golden age."
2) In the ancient Greek literature, Chronos is the personification of time. He is usually portrayed as an wise, old man with a long, gray beard (Father Time). Chronos is often mistaken for the Titan

Hall (under Scythe):
1) Saturn/Cronus. Attribute of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, and of the old Greek god Cronus, with whom he became identified. Cronus castrated the aged Uranus with a sickle.
2) Cronus/Father time. It was from Cronus that Father Time acquired his scythe which cuts life short.

Hall (under Father Time). The familiar figure with Scythe and Hour-glass, generally winged and nude except for a loin-cloth. He may have a Crutch and sometimes a Snake with tail in his mouth. Father Time's origins are curious. the classical personification of Time had none of the well-known attributes. But it came about that the Greeks confused their word for 'time' chronos, with their old god of agriculture Cronus, who a sickle for attribute, and this in due course became the scythe of Father Time. The Romans indentified Cronus with their Saturn who, as a god of agriculture, also had a sickle. As an aged deity Saturn had a crutch which Father Time likewise acquired.

(Niehüser, p.7 onder ill.3) The god of time represents several elements: Chronos, the Greek term for "time", Kronos, who is the powerful father of gods and human beings in Greek mythology, and his Roman counterpart, Saturn, the old, bearded god of agriculture who has the scythe as attribute. As a result, Chronos, the God of Time, has very diverse charateristics: he is the "Father of all things" (Pindar, Olymp., II, 32) and he is the cruel Kronos, who devoured his own children - time destroys everything initially created (Therefor the idiom "the ravages of time"). He terminates life with his scythe and therefor is also the god of death.

-bearded (winged) old man
-veil over his head
-hour glass
-his chariot drawn by stags
-Ouroboros (snake biting its tail)
-devouring his own children


2) Eos/Aurora. In Greek mythology the goddess of the dawn. The clouds of night roll away and the horizon lightens
(symb 40A-C).

1) Heracles/Hercules. He also sports a bow and arrows, and is sometimes depicted with all this equipment. (0009 symb)

2) Omphale/Iole. After one year as slave and lover in the service of the Lydian queen Omphale, the invincible Hercules is effeminated, that he hands her his lion skin and his weapon, the much feared club. (0009.2 symb).

3) Amor, carving his bow out of Hercules' club. Amor vincit omnia (0054 symb).
  Cockerel (or Cock).

This bird, which crows at daybreak, was linked with dawn and morning
(0020 symb). Paradoxically, it may have been for this very reason that it was an emblem of some Underworld deities—as a kind of insurance or defence against the nether powers? In the Christian era, the cockerel became a symbol of resurrection, and it is therefore sometimes placed on church spires.

1) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

2) Ganymede. A man who died young and unmarried could be seen as a "Ganymede", abducted for homosexual purposes by the chthonic version of Zeus, as Ganymede in the myth was abducted by Olympic Zeus. In the former case, the "Ganymede" may hold a cockerel. Though this has been explained as a love gift, it seems more likely that the bird constituted a defiance and a promise of eventual defeat of the destructive powers.

3) Hades/Pluto. The cockerel, which he may hold in his lap, makes Hades an ambiguous character. Death implies immortality; "To conquer death, you only have to die" (Jesus Christ Superstar).

4) Aurora (symb 0020).

5) Mercury. whose chariot they draw.

6) Lust. (Luxury, Libido) personified. (he-Goat, boar, pig, hare, mirror, ape).


The Roman goddess of concord. She was worshipped in many temples, but the oldest was on the Forum Romanum and dates back to 367 BCE and was built by Camilus. The temple also served as a meeting-place for the Roman senate. Concordia is portrayed sitting, wearing a long cloak and holding a sacrificial bowl in her left hand and a cornucopia in her right. Sometimes she can be seen standing between two members of the Royal House who clasp hands.
    Compasses or 'dividers'.

1) Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, and the personification of Astronomy, one of the Seven Liberal Arts (0013 symb)

2) Geometry. one of the Seven Liberal Arts, and Euclic, its historical representative.

3) Justice, with scales and sword.

4) Maturity, one of the Ages of Man.

5) Melancholy (books, skull, other geometrical instruments), one of the Four Temperaments.

6) Prudence (snake, mirror).

Dividers held by the sitter in a portrait identify him as an architect or navigator. In Renaissance and baroque themes the may denote an artist (from is command of geometry and perspective).
Corn; A sheaf of corn.

  Cornucopia. (horn of plenty)

1) Annona, who personified the Roman corn supply.

2) Roman lares (protective, perhaps ancestral spirits of the home, fields, crossroads, &c.).

3) Liber, who represented fertility and vegetation. (He could be identified with Bacchus.)

4) Various river gods (because rivers make the surrounding land fertile).

5) Tyche/Fortuna.

6) Pomona, Fruit, Vertumnus disguised as an old woman unmasking himself  (Vertumnus and Pomona)

7) Ceres (symb 0017)

8) Europe

9) Abundance

Crocodile, see Caiman.


1) Vigilance


A crook is a staff, curved into a hook at one end, as used by shepherds and bishops or abbots.

Apollo, Pan, Argus, Polyphemus (Galathea), Christ (adoration of de shepherds).

1) Hera/Juno.

2) Zeus/Jupiter (0022
, 0031 symb).

3) Europe.  As Queen and one of the four parts of the World. (sceptre, horse, cornucopia)

4) Philosophy, may be with three heads.

Crown, turreted.

1) Rhea. This crown means that she was a protectress of cities.

Crown with rays.
These illustrate light.

1) Attis.

2) Helios/Sol, the sun god.

3) Mithras. (But he might as well wear a soft pointed cap, and no crown.)

Laurel crown.

1) Apollo

2) Clio, the Muse of History. (book,  globe, trumpet, Chronos, little Genius). (B1 symb)

Crown of feathers.

1) America. One of the Four Parts of the World, personified as a female figure with a naked upperbody (caiman, skirt of feathers, bow and arrows, palm tree) (0026 symb).

2) Atala (0056 symb), see Atala and Chactas.

3) Chactas (0056 symb), see Atala and Chactas.

See also:

  Cup: see Bowl.
Cupid  Eros, Amor   (see also boat)

Eros is Love, who overpowers the mind, and tames the spirit in the breasts of both gods and men.

Cupid was often punished by Venus, she captures him in a cage or she may have hem across her knee; here raised hand holding a bunch of roses with which to strike him.  Diana's nyphs stole his arrows break or burned them while he was sleeping or clipped his winges, all for the mischief his arrows caused.

More on Eros 1)


Cybele was the goddess of nature and fertility. Also known as Kybele and Magna Mater and the Mother of the Gods, the worship of this goddess spread throughout the Roman Empire. As one of the four elements she personifies Earth.

Lions, mural crown, sceptre, key, globe, green dress with flowers,

More on Cybele: 1) 2)

1) Pan/Faunus; Satyr. (0037 symb)

2) Maenad/Bacchante. (0039 symb)

1) Amor and Psyche. (0051 symb)
    Dark skin: see Skin.

1) Artemis/Diana. She is often accompanied by either a doe or a male deer.
(004.2, base 0034 symb)

2) Dionysus/Bacchus. Many horned or antlered animals, including (male) deer, were linked—or identified—with him.

3) Iphigenia. In one version of the myth of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Artemis substitutes a doe for the girl. (Cf. above about Artemis's doe or deer.) Occasionally girl and doe are depicted so that they seem to melt into each other. This appears to indicate that Iphigenia was felt, or meant, to be simply a human double of the goddess's victim, and therefore of Artemis herself. Generally speaking, victim and recipient deity were often, paradoxically, more or less identified.

In Greek mythology the goddess of agriculture, expecially associated with corn; she was sometimes worshipped as the earth-mother, the prime source of fertility. As the personification of the erarth's abundance she wears of crown of ears of corn (0008 symb) and may have a corn-sheaf, or a cornucopia flowing with fruits and vegetables (0017 symb), or sometimes a sickle. The presence of Bacchus the wine-god complements the idea of plenty.

1) Demeter/Ceres.
Diadem or crown of ears of corn. (0008, 0036 symb)

2) Hera/Juno.
  Diana  see Artemis

The legendary founder and queen of Carthage, daughter of Belus and sister of Pygmalion. In Virgil, she entertained Aeneas (and Achates one of his most trusted captains), who arrived at Carthage during his wanderings, and fell in love with him. When he left her to continue his search for the new home in Italy, she killed herself on a funeral pyre. When Aeneas later encountered her shade on a trip to the underworld, she turned away from him, still refusing to forgive his desertion of her.

Funeral pyre, Sword, Ships sail away, hair Lock.

More on Dido 1 2 3)


A legendary Greek hero, son of Tydeus and Deipyle (Tydides). He was the favorite of Athena and was under her protection. Diomedes participated in the expedition of the Epigone ("the After-born") against Thebes. Later he succeeded his grandfather Adrastus as the king of Argos and joined the Greeks against Troy. On the Greek side, the two greatest champions were Ajax and Diomedes. They fought gloriously and many a Trojan fell before their weapons. Diomedes nearly slew Prince Aeneas. Aeneas was of royal blood, and the goddess Aphrodite (his mother) hastened to the battlefield to save him. She lifted him in her arms, but Diomedes leaped towards her and wounded her hand. Crying out she let Aeneas fall, and weeping for pain she made her way to the Olympus. Although Aphrodite failed to save her son, Aeneas did not die that day. Apollo enveloped him in a cloud and carried him to sacred Pergamos, the holy place of Tory, where Artemis healed him of his wound.

More on Diomedes 1) 2)


1) Actaeon. He is normally shown as surrounded, sometimes savaged by his own hounds, with Artemis watching.

2) Artemis/Diana (0034 symb).

3) Aphrodite/Venus. This companion of the goddess of love represents loyalty/fidelity, so that Aphrodite or Venus with a dog means faithful love. The conjunction seems post-classical.

4) Hades/Pluto. In late classical and Roman art, he may be accompanied by Cerberus (see below).

5) Heracles/Hercules. The dog is in his case the three-headed Cerberus, guarding the entrance of the Underworld (originally perhaps so that the dead would not be able to escape and return home).

6) Mithras. His canine companion has been interpreted as representing Sirius, the Dog Star.

7) Fidelity personified.

1) Apollo.

2) Poseidon/Neptune. In his case, the dolphin is a metonymy for the sea. (And, more generally, this animal can be used simply to indicate marine surroundings.)

3) Also the sea-nymph Thetis and her sisters may ride on dolphins.

4) Anonymous little boys (each of them recalling the legend of Arion) may be shown straddling dolphins' backs. Some lamp-posts in central Lund are decorated with bas-reliefs showing such boys on dolphins.

5) Galatea.
She rides her cockle shell car drawn by dolphins.

6) Arion.

Silenus. He usually rides on it, and appears very intoxicated. (So does the donkey sometimes!)
    Dove. (pigeon)

- Venus     ..it symbolized love and constancy and thus a dove or pair of doves is one of the chief attributes of Venus, and by extension of Lust.

- Concord.
A pair of doves, facing each other.
- Sometimes, surprisingly, an attribute of Chastity.
- Billing doves suggest lovers' embraces.
- Psyche and Amor (0050 symb).

- Holy Ghost. John the Baptist, 'I saw the spirit coming down from heaven like a dove and resting upon him' (John 1:32).
- It appears in representations of the annunciation, baptism of Christ and of Paul, apostle, descent of the holy ghost and trinity.
- Soul.
A dove issuing from a nun's mouth symbolizes her soul rising to heaven, thus Scholastica, sister of Benedict to whom it appeared in a vision, also Reparata and others, the dove may rest on her hand or a book, or hover above her head.
- Peace Personified.  The dove of the ark (Noah) became the symbol of good tidings and peace and is hence an attribute of Peace personified.
- At the ear of a saint inspiring his words, Gregory the Great, but also Bernardino, John Chrysostom, Teresa, Thomas Aquinas.

- With a phial in its beak is the attribute of Remigius.
- On a flowering wand, of Joseph, husband of the virgin.
- Two on a dish, wings spread, of Nicholas of Tolenting.
- A two-headed dove on the shoulder of Elisha.
- Seven doves arranged about the devotional image of Christ or the virgin and child, symbolize the seven gifts of the holy spirit, from Isaiah (11:1-2); sometimes inscribed: sapientia, intellectus, consilium, fortitudo, scientia, pietas, timor.  (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord).
    Dragon. See also Snake.

In European mythology, a dragon is a serpent-like legendary creature. The Latin word draco, as in the constellation Draco, comes directly from Greek drakones. The Latin word means both dragon and snake, and hence the two are sometimes used interchangeably. The Dragon is sometimes known by the Nordic word, ormr (Old English wyrm means serpent — draca means dragon). Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its chthonic lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth, like the mythic serpent, that was a source of knowledge even in Eden.
In the ancient east a beneficent deity associated with the element water, but in Christian culture a symbol of Satan. If chained or trodden underfoot it symbolizes the conquest of evil.
1) Satan
2) Virgin Mary
3) Bernard of Clairvaux
4) Martha
5) Sylvester
6) Margaret of Antioch
7) Michael (winged angel)
8) George
9) Perseus
10) Ceres, drawing her chariot
11) Saturn, drawing his chariot
12) Vigilance personified.
13) Cadmus, Sparti
14) Medea
15) Triptolemus
16) Vigilant guardian of the Golden Fleece and the apples of the Hesperides.

More: 1 2)


    Double axe.

1) Zeus/Jupiter. Like the thunderbolt*, it represents lightning.

(In Crete, the double axe was rather the attribute of female deities.)

2) Hephaestus. In scenes depicting the birth of Athene, this god may carry the double axe.

1) Sacred to Jupiter (Zeus) and his attribute, sometimes with a thunderbolt in his claes.

2) Ganymede, abducted by Zeus/Jupiter in his eagle guise.

) Zeus/Jupiter, who may appear in human shape with the eagle as his companion. (0022, 0031, 0032 symb).

4) A Young goddess with Jug (bowl, cup), an eagle beside her, is Hebe.
    Ear(s) of corn.

1) Annona, personification of the Roman state-owned corn supply.

2) Demeter/Ceres.

3) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

4) Triptolemus, whom Demeter/Ceres and Core/Persephone/Proserpina taught the art of agriculture.
  Ears, pointed.

1) Pan/Faunus. Pan has a goat-like face with pointed ears and horns. (0038, 0039 symb)

Princess Erminia was a character in the epic poem La Gerusalemme liberata by Torquato Tasso. In this tale she falls in love with the Christian knight Tancred, and betrays her people to aid him. Once she discovers that Tancred is in love with Clorinde, however, she returns to join the Muslims. She subsequently steals Clorinde's armor then joins a group of shepards.

The name Erminia is sometimes given as "Hermine". It is related to the name "Armina", the feminine form of "Armand", which meant "Army man".

  Eros see Cupid
  Europa (Europe)

The Cretan moon goddess who was adopted into Greek myth as a virgin Phoenician princess abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull, raped by him, and subsequently abandoned. Europa was the daughter of the King Agenor of Sidon. She had the continent of Europe named for her.

Europe as Queen of the World, and as one of the four parts of the World. (sceptre, horse, cornucopia)

More on Europa 1) 2)


In Greek mythology the goddess of the dawn, often called 'rosy-fingered' by Homer. She was the sister of Helios, the sun-god. Every morning she rose from her bed leaving her aged husband Tithonius still sleeping, and led Helios into the heavens. On Greek vases she has wings (0020 symb) and drives a four-horse chariot, the quadriga. Or she stands mourning for her son Memnon who was killed by Achilles in the Trojan war; the morning dew was said to be the tears she shed for him. She is a popular figure in 17th cent. baroque ceiling painting, driving a two- or four-horse chariot, or riding the winged horse Pegasus. She scatters flowers on her way. The bearded Tithonus may watch her go. Sometimes she flies before the chariot holding a torch (0020 symb). The clouds of night roll away and the horizon lightens. A group of maidens may surround the sun-god's chariot or float in the air before Aurora; they are the Horae, the goddesses of the Seasons who, according to one tradition, were the daughters of Helios.

1) Symbol of the hunt (0004.7 symb).
  Fama  (Pheme, Ossa, Mare)

1) In Greek mythology, Pheme was the goddess of fame and report. She was said to be the daughter of Gaia. Pheme was born at the time of her great displeasure at the overthrow of the Giants. Pheme was always prying. She announced whatever she heard, first to only a few, then louder until everyone had known. Pheme was represented as a winged, gentle figure holding a trumpet.

2) So Fame, having the power of making the small great and the great greater, can neither be disregarded nor underrated. Consequently what she says is listened to carefully and repeated as a prayer. For she appears to change the very nature of things, turning into a shining star what before was neglected and opaque. And being regarded as opposed to oblivion, she is cherished by all those who value remembrance and by those who think she carries under her wings the key to immortality, which separates gods and men.
Such is the nature of this goddess; and her power among men and women is practically limitless, except in the realm of true intimacy and confidence.
3) Pheme is Rumour, a messenger of Zeus, a swift-footed creature, a winged angel of ruin with sleepless eyes and countless tongues and ears. The peaceful world of heaven was forbidden for her, whose voice is ever sounding both good and evil and spreading panic. In wrath she dwells beneath the clouds, a spirit neither of hell nor of heaven, and troubles the earth.
4) Goddess of fame or rumor. She is said to have many eyes and mouths. She travels about the world, first whispering her rumors to only a few, then becoming louder and louder till the whole world knows the news. She lived in a palace with a thousand windows, all of which were always kept open so she could hear everything that was said by anyone on earth. Her friends were Credulitas (error), Laetitia (joy), Timores (terror), and Susuri (rumor). She was known as Ossa to the Greeks.

Trumpet, wings, windrose
ore on Fame 1) 2)


Fasces: set of rods bound in the form of a bundle which contained an axe. In ancient Rome, the bodyguards of a magistrate carried fasces. The word fasces means "bundle" and refers to the fact that it is a bundle of rods, which surrounded an ax in the middle. In ancient Rome, the lictors carried fasces before consul, praetors and dictators, i.e., magistrates that held imperium (which means that they had the right to command and interpret the flight of the birds). Other people escorted by lictors with fasces were Vestal Virgins, governors, and the commanders of legions.  More on this item
  Fates, Three (Moirai/Parcae).

In Greek and Roman religion the spirits who were believed to determine man's destiny, not only the events o his life but its duration, which they fixed at his birth. Whether Jupiter, the omnipotent father of the gods, was bound by their decrees was a matter on which ancient opinion varied. Belief in their existence is said to have survived until today in parts of Greece where they are propitated after the birth of a child. They are generally depicted spinning the thread of life, and measuring and cutting off the allotted length. They are usually old and ugly. Clotho has the distaff (or more rarely a spinning-wheel), Lachesis holds the spindle, while Atropos, the most terrible of the three, is about to snip the thread with her shears. But there is no firm agreement as to their functions. Sometimes Clotho spins the thread and Lachesis measures it with a rod. A basket of spindles may lie beside them. They often form part of larger allegorical compositions and are especially seen with the figure of Death, a skeleton with a scythe, who may be riding on his chariot. (0023 symb)
    Fetters (chain)

1) St. Leonard.
2) Hercules.
  Feather, see: Crown of Feathers; Skirt of Feathers; Writing Feather.

1) Ceres (0008 symb).

She is the secular aspect of Faith when personified, or the trust between master and servant.

Holding a Key in one hand and a golden Seal in the other hand, Dog,

More: 1)

1) on robe of Philosophy, identifying Water.
  Fire: see Flame.

1) Ceres (0008 symb).

1) Personification of Genius (wings, male youth) (0030 symb).

2) Vestal Virgins. (0042, 0042.2 symb).
  Floral garland.

1) Europa. Zeus fell in love with her, disguising himself as a bull. Beguiled by the bull’s good nature, she garlanted its horns with flowers and climbed upon it’s back. Europa is usually shown riding on the bull. According to Robert Graves, "Europa", which may mean "broad face", is a cow's name, and the story may originally have been about a sacred encounter between a cow goddess and a bull god. (symb 0028).

1) Flowers in general are the attribute of Spring personified, one of the FOUR SEASONS.

2) Smell, one of the Five Senses.

3) Flora. (0035)

4) Aurora.

4) Symbol of evanescence of human life in allegorical still life.

5) Sometimes the attribute Of Hope.

6) Attribute of Logic, one of the Seven Liberal Arts.

7) On robe of Philosophy identifying Earth.

Flowers in general are the attribute of Spring personified, one of the FOUR SEASONS; of Smell, one of the FIVE SENSES; of the goddesses FLORA and AURORA. They symbolize the evanescence of human life in allegorical STILL LIFE. They are also sometimes the attribute Of HOPE; and of Logic, one of the SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS. See alsO ALMOND; ANEMONE; APOLLO (11) (Hyacinth); CARNATION; COLUMBINE; DANDELION; FLORA  (Crocus, Marigold); IRIS; LILY; NARCISSUS; POPPY, ROSE; SUNFLOWER; VIOLET.

1) Marsyas.

2) Pan. He played the syrinx, with several pipes. Disney's Peter Pan has inherited this instrument.

3) Orpheus. (0043).

See also: pipe
    French revolution

1) Phrygian cap  (liberty cap)   Sometimes on top of fasces.

2) Shaking hands.  (main serrees)

Table of French (republican) symbols:

Anchor - Hope
Bagpipe - Peace
Bastille - Emblem of the people conquering tyranny
Bishop's cross - Clergy
Black rosette - Emblem of the Queen
Broken chain- Abolishment of slavery
Canon - The power of the army
Carmagnole - Popular republican song and dance
Corn (horn of plenty) - Nature's abundance
Corn sheaf - Abundance, Prosperity
Crown - Monarchy
Eye - Vigilance
Fame - Announcer
Fasces - Unity, Brotherhood, Power, Magistracy
Flag - The Nation
Fleur de Lys - Monarchy
France - The country
Globe - Universality
Guillotine - Revolutionary justice
Hive - The working class
Laurel (wreath) - Victory
Lion - Power
Oak - Civil virtue
Palm (branch) - Victory of the armies.
Phrygian cap - Symbol of liberty
Pique - The people
Rake - The third class ?
Rooster (cockerel) - Vigilance
Spade - The third class ?
Sword - Nobility
Tree - Liberty
Triangle - The perfect accord
Tricolour rosette - Emblem of the patriots
Two enlaced 'L's - Emblem of the Monarchy
White rosette - Emblem of the Royalists
Young woman with mirror - Truth
    Fruits, such as apples, figs, and grapes.

1) Pomona.
  Galatea  Galathea (Nereid)

1) Arch of drapery.  ...above her head may be an arch of drapery, somewhat like a sail in the wind, the attribute of the Roman spirit of the air, Aura.

2) Dolphins     She rides her cockle shell car drawn by dolphins.


Of flowers:

1) Flora (Chloris)

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina. She was especially linked with the narcissus.

3) Europa. Zeus fell in love with her, disguising himself as a bull. Beguiled by the bull’s good nature, she garlanted its horns with flowers and climbed upon it’s back. Europa is usually shown riding on the bull. According to Robert Graves, "Europa", which may mean "broad face", is a cow's name, and the story may originally have been about a sacred encounter between a cow goddess and a bull god. (symb 0028).

Of ivy:

1) Dionysus/Bacchus. Also his devotees, and sometimes his panther(s), are depicted with ivy.

Of oak-leaves:

1) Zeus (at Dodona).

See also: Laurel.

    Genius, little.

Clio, the Muse of History (book, laurelcrown, globe, trumpet, Chronos) (B0001, 0029 symb)

Genius, personification of.

The personification of Genius is shown as a naked youth with open wings and a flame or torch. Genius and Imagination with attributes of the Seven Liberal Arts positioned between them, refers to the idea that they are the most important elements of any type of art. (Nh p. 40-41). (0030 symb).

In antiquity a girdle was a symbol of martial fidelity and was given by the man as a token to his wife at their marriage.

1) Aphrodite/Venus. The girdle of Venus had the power of bestowing sexual attraction on its wearer. She lent it to Juno in order that she might charm her husband Jupiter (Iliad 14:214 ff) (symb 0019.)
  Globe or orb.

Held in the hand of a monarch, signified his sovereignty over the world. In the Christian era, surmounted by a cross, it was one of the insigna of the Holy Roman Emperors end of English kings since Edward the Confessor.
In religious art it may be held by Christ as Salvator Mundi, or by God the Father. The latter may rest with his feet on a terrestial globe.
The globe is widely distributed among personified virtues, the Liberal Arts and some paga divinities, signifying their universality.

1) Truth.

2) Fame.

3) Abundance.

4) Justice, with scales and a sword.

5) Philosophy. The feet of Philosophy may rest on a globe.

6) Fortune. A globe under the feet of Fortune originally indicated her instability in contrast to the firm cube on which Faith and History sometimes stand. Oppurtunity and Nemesis, both whom have associations with Fortune, may be similary represented.

7) Apollo.

8) Cupid.

9) Cybele, the earth goddess.

Clio, the Muse of History. Chronos and the globe as attributes of Clio convey the idea, that history compasses all places and times. The figure of Chronos is often replaced by the clock. (B0001, 0029 symb)

Globe, celestial.

1) Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, or the attribute of Astronomy personified, one of the Seven Liberal Arts. It should bear stars or the mythological figures of the constellations but is not necessarily so represented.
(0013 symb; 0064 symb).

2) Atlas.

3) Zeus. Clock in the form of a celestial globe: Zeus the ruler over the Universe and Time. (0031 symb)

To pagan antiquity the goat generally symbolized lust and to Christians it stood for the damned at the Last Judgment (Matt. 25:32-33). It was associated with the worship of Bacchus, and in art draws his chariot.

1) Aphrodite/Venus.

2) Dionysus/Bacchus.

3) Hermes.

Pan/Faunus; Satyr.

Lust personified. (0037 symb) 

6) Zeus. Birth and clandestine infancy of Zeus. Both Gaia and Uranus foretold Cronos that he would be dethroned by his own son. To avoid this sad fate, he used to swallow his children at birth. This bizarre behaviour, however, enraged his wife Rhea, who being pregnant with Zeus, went to Crete and gave him birth in a cave of Dicte.
Nyphs fed the child on the milk of the goat Amalthea while the Curetes in arms guarded the child in the cave, clashing their spears on their shields, in order to prevent Cronos to hear his voice. In the meantime, Rhea wrapped a stone in clothes and gave it to Cronos to swallow, as if it were the newborn child. This is how Cronos, the second ruler of the universe, was deceived.
(0031 symb)

Goat skin.

1) Juno Sospita, a rather archaic version of the Roman goddess Juno (corresponding to Hera), wears such a skin. She also carries a spear.

Goat legs.

1) Pan/Faunus; Satyr (0037 symb).

1) Aphrodite/Venus. She may ride on such a bird. Cf. pigeon, swan.
  Graces, The three. (Charites)

Aglaea ("Splendor") is the youngest of the Graces and is sometimes represented as the wife of Hephaestus. The other Graces are Euphrosyne ("Mirth") and Thalia ("Good Cheer"). They are usually considered the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, or Dionysus and Aphrodite. According to Homer the Graces belonged to the retinue of Aphrodite.

more on Charites 1)


1) Dionysus/Bacchus, the god of wine.

2) Maenad/Bacchante (0037, 0039 symb).

3) Personification of Autumn, one of the Four Seasons.

4) Scenes of harvesting the grape belong to September, one of the Twelve Months.

See also: vine.

1) Amor sharpening the love arrows (0055 symb).

1) Helena.

2) Vulcan.

3) Eloi.

4) Craft, Industry.

1) Hermes/Mercury, as protector of travellers and conductor of souls to the Underworld, may wear the traveller's typical broad-brimmed hat (petasus), with or without wings, or a smaller winged hat.
(0007 symb).

2) Oedipus may also wear a traveller's hat, but without wings.

3) So may Odysseus/Ulysses.

4) And so may Paris.

See also Polos.

Helios (sometimes identified by the poets with Apollo/Phoebus) is the young Greek god of the sun. He is the son of Hyperion and Theia. By the Oceanid Perse, he became the father of Aeëtes, Circe, and Pasiphae. His other two daughters are Phaethusa ("radiant") and Lampetia ("shining"). He had a son, named Phaeton, whom he once allowed to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death. 
Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot, pulled by for horses - Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon - through the sky, to descend at night in the west. He sees and knows all, and was called upon by witnesses. 


In Greek mythology, Hêbê was the goddess of youth (Roman equivalent: Juventas). She was the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles. Her successor is the young Trojan prince Ganymede. She also drew baths for Ares and helped Hera enter her chariot.

In art, she was usually depicted wearing a sleeveless dress.

The name "Hebe" came from Greek work meaning "youth" or "prime of life".

In Roman mythology, Juventas ("youth") received a coin offering from boys when they put on the adult men's toga for the first time.

Hebe and the Eagle of Jupiter. She stands with a Jug in her hand, from which she had just poured nectar into a cup or bowl. Jupiter's Eagle, at the side of the young goddess, cranes its neck to drink.

Part of the accoutrement of a the warrior. It helps to distinguish the soldier in scenes where he would not ohterwise be in military dress, in particulary Alexander the Great.

1) Athena/Minerva (
0011, 0033 symb).

2) Faith personified.

3) Fortitude personified.

4) Alexander the Great.

Bellona (0044 symb).

Helmet, winged

1) Perseus. It had the power of making him invisible.

Helmet, plumed

1) Hector. When Hector says goodbye to his wife Andromache (Iliad 6:394-396) and their infant son Astyanax and goes to war, the child is frightened by the sight of Hector’s plumed helmet (0041 symb).

In Greek mythology, a hero and personification of physical strength and courage, one of the most popular figures in classical and later art. His twelve labours, in which he triumphs over evil against great odds, are partly myths, partly heroic saga, reflecting his dual nature as god and hero. There are grounds for believing that his story is based on some historical figure.
In ancient Greece Hercules was worshipped as the protector of people and the guardian of cities, and his cult was widespread and important among the Romans. Acoording to myth he was the son of a mortal woman, Alcmena, fathered on her by Jupiter during the absence of her husband Amphitryon, an act which aroused the jealousy of Jupiter's wife, Juno. In addition to his twelve labours, Hercules performed many other feats, and at his death was rewarded by Jupiter with deification: He was borne up to Olympus in a chariot by Minerva, the goddess who was his protectress during his life.
At typical image is the Farnese Hercules, an antique sculpture by Glycon (Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Naples), discovered in 1540, and much copied afterwards. He is muscular, massively built, and has short curly hair and a short beard. His two main attributes are the club - which itself is sometimes a symbol of virue -, and the lion's skin, won in his first labour. Less common attributes are bow, arrow an quiver, his alternative weapons; two snakes; apples held in the hand; a distaff. In allegory, Hercules personifies physical strength; he is then usually accompanied by some other figure, such as Minerva, representing the complementary virtue of moral strength and wisdom

Hercules' Choice (Judgement of Hercules)
Immortality the reward of toil in preference to pleasure. Xenophon tells us when Hercules was a youth he was accosted by two women - Virtue and Pleasure - and asked to choose between them. Pleasure promised him all carnal delights, but Virtue promised immortality. Hercules gave his hand to the latter, and, after a life of toil, was received amongst the gods.

See also: Omphale; Bird; Club; Lion's skin.



Hermes, the herald of the Olympian gods, is son of Zeus and the nymph Maia, daughter of Atlas and one of the Pleiades. Hermes is the god of shepherds, land travel, merchants, weights and measures, oratory, literature, athletics and thieves, and known for his cunning and shrewdness. Most importantly, he is the messenger of the gods. Besides that he was also a minor patron of poetry. He was worshiped throughout Greece -- especially in Arcadia -- and festivals in his honor were called Hermoea. (Caduceus, Petasus/winged hat, winged Sandals, Purse, Ram)

More on Hermes 1) 2)


1) Atala and Chactas (0056 symb).
  Hippocamp(s); see under horse(s).

Usually personified in Renaissance and baroque art as a winged female in a white robe, who writes in a book or an a tablet sometimes supported on the back of Father Time. (0016 symb)  Her feet may rest on a solid cube, the symbol of her sure foundation. Her image was derived from the classical winged Victory, who recorded the victor's dead on a shield: hence the tablet of History may be oval shaped.
  Hope, see Virtues.
  Horn: see Hunting horn.
  Horn of plenty: see Cornucopia.

1) Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux. They ride on horses, or lead them by the reins. In Homer, only Castor is specifically linked with horses, however. Castor and Pollux in Roman art sometimes rather vaguely represent the equites (of equus, a horse) and/or the cavalry.

2) Helios/Sol, the sun god. Four horses draw his chariot. (Pheaton, Helios's son failed to drive his father's chariot of the sun)

3) Heracles/Hercules is sometimes depicted with horses, those of Diomede, which were ferocious and ate human flesh. Heracles tamed and captured them.

4) Medusa. In this case, the horse is usually, though not invariably, winged, and represents Pegasus, sprung from her blood when Perseus beheaded her.

5) Nyx (Night), whose chariot is drawn by four horses.

6) Poseidon/Neptune. He is sometimes linked with horses, perhaps because curving breakers could be seen as similar to the necks and backs of such animals. Cf the expression "white horses" (on the sea). In pictorial representations, his horses are sometimes shown with fishtails—these creatures are called hippocamps, a kind of "merhorses". Four of them sometimes draw his and his consort Amphitrite's chariot.

7) Selene. As goddess of the moon, she is shown in a chariot drawn by two horses, or, more often, riding on a horse or mule.

Horse, winged.

The winged horse Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa when Perseus beheaded her. The 6th cent. mythographer Fulgentius made Pegasus a symbol of Fame since both are winged, and hence he is seen among the Muses, sometimes on Mount Parnassus. In this context he is also referred to as the poet's horse, which carries the poet to Mount Parnassus. (0012 symb)

1) Perseus. Pegasus was the mount of Perseus when he rescued Andromeda.

2) Bellerphon. Pagasus was the mount of Bellerphon when he slew the Chimaera.

3) Aurora.

4) Medusa.
    Hunting horn.

1) Artemis/Diana (0034 symb).

1) Chronos/father time (0005, B0004 symb).

2) Death.
Imagination, personification of.

The personification of Imagination is shown as a classical female figure, her attributes are a writing table and writing feather. Genius and Imagination with attributes of the Seven Liberal Arts positioned between them, refers to the idea that they are the most important elements of any type of art. (Nh p. 41)
(0030 symb).
  Infant, crying (Child)

1) Hector. When Hector says goodbye to his wife Andromache (Iliad 6:394-396) and their infant son Astyanax and goes to war, the child is frightened by the sight of Hector’s plumed helmet (0041 symb).

A young girl dressed in white, she represents frankness and ingenuity, sometimes wearing a crown, washing her hands of it in a basin placed on an altar, alluding to customs of the ancients which thus disculpated false charges carried against them. (David: "I wash my hands in innocence, and go about Your altar, O Lord"). A Lamb is her distinctive attribute. She appears in the act of being rescued by Justice from the vices, in the shape of ferocious animals, that threaten her, i.e.:  Gluttony (Wolf), Envy (Dog), Wrath (Lion), Deceit (Snake). 

Lamb, Bird, dead Bird: lost innocence/maidenhood. 

Iphigenia, best known as the daughter of Agamemnon, had to sacrifice in order to appease Artemis......

Bearded Priest, Vessel, Stag,

More on Iphigenia: 1 2

Dionysus/Bacchus. He may wear a wreath of ivy, or carry a thyrsus* entwined with it. So may his devotees, the Bacchantes. The ivy is this god's most important emblem by far.
  Jar. see Pot.
  Jason    by James Hunter

Jason, the son of Aeson, was the leader of the Argonauts and the husband of Medea. Because of a prophecy that Jason would someday do him harm, King Pelias of Iolcos sent Jason on a seemingly impossible quest to bring the Golden Fleece (a ram's skin,  (0010 symb)) back from distant Colchis. For the quest, Jason assembled a crew of heroes from all over Greece; Argos built for the heroes the largest ship ever constructed, the Argo.

On the voyage to Colchis, in addition to other adventures, Jason and his crew of Argonauts became the first humans to pass through the Symplegades (the Clashing Rocks); they also freed Phineus from the curse of the Harpies. When they arrived at Colchis, King Aeetes demanded that Jason accomplish a series of tasks to get the Golden Fleece: he must yoke a team of fierce, fire-breathing oxen and plow a field with them; then he must sow the teeth of a dragon in the field, and deal with the warlike armored men who sprouted from these "seeds"; finally, he must brave the sleepless dragon who guarded the Fleece. Jason accomplished all these tasks with the help of Medea, Aeetes' daughter, who had fallen in love with him. After obtaining the Golden Fleece, Jason and Medea fled from Colchis, pursued by King Aeetes' men.

On their voyage back to Iolcos, they encountered the perils of Scylla and Charybdis and the isle of the Sirens as well as Talos the bronze guardian of Crete. In Iolcos, Medea contrived the murder of King Pelias, after which she and Jason fled to Corinth. In Corinth, after many years of marriage, Jason finally deserted Medea to marry King Creon's daughter; Medea wreaked a terrible vengeance, killing the bride and Creon, and even murdering her own children. She then escaped, leaving Jason to mourn his losses. Jason was killed years later when he was struck on the head by a timber from the Argo.

Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica.
Apollodorus. Bibliotheke I, ix, 23-28;
Ovid. Metamorphoses VII, 1-424.
Euripides. Medea.

See also: Ram's skin.


1) Dionysus/Bacchus.

2) Maenad/Bacchante
(0037 symb).

3) Hebe

  Juno was worshipped as protectress of women especially in marriage and childbirth. According to mythology she was the chief goddess of Olympus and both sister and wife of Jupiter. Here we see Cupid holding her girdle. This magic belt, borrowed from Venus was intended to make anyone that wore it irresistibly desirable - which Juno needed to attract the attention of her faithless husband, Jupiter. She also carries a sceptre, which like the peacock was another other attributes. In the "Golden Ass", Apuleius told the story of how Juno sent Argus, a giant with 100 eyes to watch over lo. Mercury then killed Argus, so in his memory Juno placed his eyes onto the tail of her peacock.
  Jupiter; see Zeus.

1) Amor, carving his bow out of Hercules' club. Amor vincit omnia (0054 symb).

1) Vigilance

see also Oil Lamp

Apollo. The laurel and the palm are his sacred trees. He wears laurels as a garland on his head, or holds a laurel sprig or branch.
    Leonard Saint.

The patron Saint of prisoners. He was tought to be a Benedictine monk who founded a monastry at Noblat near Limoges, 6th century. He wears the black or white habit of the Order. He holds broken fetters (chain), and votaries kneeling at his feet are freed captives who were perhaps prisoners of war.

More on Leonard  1)

Leda was the daughter of Thestius and the wife of
Tyndareus. She has been known as the Queen of Sparta. Leda was seduced by Zeus when he came to her in the form of a swan. Leda gave birth to an egg. From it hatched the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux. With Zeus she also had Helen and with Tyndareus she had Clytemnestra.

More on Leda
    Leopards or panthers.

Dionysus/Bacchus. These animals pulled his chariot ("Bacchus and his pards" in Keats), and indicated his eastern origin. Sometimes the god has only one panther as his companion.
    Liberal Arts, Seven

In medieval times, the Seven Liberal Arts offered a canonical way of depicting the realms of higher learning. The Liberal Arts were divided into the Trivium ("the three roads") and the Quadrivium ("the four roads"):

- Grammar: young Pupils with books at her feet, Whip, Woman watering plants.
- Rhetoric: Book, Scroll, Sword, Shield,
- Logic: Snake, her hand resting on a nest of Vipers, Scorpion , Lizard, Scale, Flowers or flowering branch, sometimes represented by two discussing old Men wearing togas.

- Arithmetic: Tablet on which she may be writing, Abacus, Ruler.
- Geometry: Compasses, Globe (terrestial), set Square, Ruler.
- Music, Harmonics or Tuning Theory: row of three or four Bells which she strikes with a hammer, portative Organ, Lute, Viol, Swan.
- Astronomy or Cosmology: Globe (celestial), Compasses, Sextant, armillary Sphere. See also Urania.

There were other important studies in medieval times. For example, philosophy was often envisioned as a metastudy that united all branches of knowledge. For this reason, Philosophia is often depicted as nourishing the Seven Liberal Arts.

More on the seven liberal arts: 1) 2) 3)

1) Symbol of purity

2) Hera. The Virgin Mary inherited this attribute.

3) Annunciation. In a vase or in the hands of archangel Gabriel

4) Female saints: Catherina of Sienna, Clare, Euphemia, Scholastica.

5) Anthony of Padua, Dominic, Francis of Assisi, Francis Xavier, Joseph husband of the Virgin. Thomas Aquinas, Sybil.

In pre-Christian art, the flower often refers to a planned or expected wedding. Cf. how in Renaissance painting the lily may be present in Annunciation contexts.

Iris is sometimes mistakenly called a lily.


1) Cybele's chariot is drawn by two lions. Sometimes she simply sits on a throne flanked by such animals.

2) Africa personified (0057 symb).

Lion's skin.

1 ) Heracles/Hercules. The skin is that of the Nemean lion, which he killed. He is often shown wearing this skin, with the lion's head on top of his own. When a Roman sculpture of the emperor Commodus depicts this ruler in the same kind of outfit, it means that he is identified with Hercules. The identification is emphasized by two other emblems: a club* and some apples*
(0009 symb).

2) Omphale/Iole. After one year as slave and lover in the service of the Lydian queen Omphale, the invincible Hercules is effeminated, that he hands her his lion skin and his weapon, the much feared club (0009.2 symb).



1) Apollo
(0003, 0003.2 symb).

2) The Muses Erato
(lyric and love poetry), (0003.3 symb), and Terpsichore (dancing and song), both linked with lyric poetry (i.e., accompanied on the lyre). All the nine Muses' functions and hence emblems may vary, however.

3) Orpheus.

4) Silenus (occasionally).

1) Vertumnus. Deity unmasking himself.
  Mercury. See Hermes
  Milvian Bridge, battle of the

The Battle of Milvian Bridge took place on October 28, 312 between the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Maxentius. Constantine emerged victorious in name of Christianity. It caused Maxentius to adopt this religion as the official religion of Rome and the path of Western civilization as it had been known was about to be changed forever.

In hoc signo vinces (in this sign, you shall win)
Cross, Flag,

More 1)
  Minerva. See Athena.

1) Aphrodite/Venus. (0052 symb) The mirror became in later art one of her most important emblems. Originally, she may have been linked with mirrors partly because in antiquity they were made of bronze, an alloy of copper and some other metal (usually tin), and copper was her special metal. The "Venus mirror" sign, a cross under a circle, signifies: a) In chemistry and alchemy: Copper; b) In astronomy and astrology: The planet Venus; c) In biology: The female sex.

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina (as a bride).

3) Harmonia.

4) Prudence. She acquired the mirror in late Middle Ages; it signifies that a wise man has the ability to see himself as he really is. (0021, 0046 symb)

5) Vanity, Lust.

6) Science.

Perhaps because of the link with Aphrodite/Venus, the mirror was in Greece and Rome connected with brides and weddings in general.
  Moirai. See Fates, Three.
    Moon (as a lunar crescent).

1) Artemis/Diana.
Diana became identified with the moon goddess Luna (Selene). The Romans worshipped her as a triple deity, Luna (the sky), Diana (the earth), Hecate (the underworld). Her attribute, as a moon goddess, is the crescent moon (moon sickle) worn over her brow or in her hair (symb 0034).

2) Isis.

3) Juno.
  Mucius Scaevola.  (Cauis Muscius)

In the third year of the Roman republic, the Etruscan king Lars Porsenna besieged Rome, hoping to bring back its last king, Tarquin the Proud. Several acts of Roman heroism (by Horatius Cocles, Cloelia, and Mucius Scaevola) convince the invader that he will never be able to capture the city, and therefore, negotiations are opened. The Romans surrender hostages but remain independent.

The story of Mucius Scaevola is that during the siege, a young Roman of noble birth, Caius Mucius, enters the enemy camp and tries to assassinate king Porsenna. However, instead of killing him, he kills one of his secretaries. When he is brought before Porsenna, the man shows his contempt for torture and pain by voluntarily placing his right hand in a fire. Impressed by this steadfastness, Porsenna releases him, and Mucius answers to this gentle act by informing the king that there are no less than 300 men in Rome who have sworn to kill Porsenna. After his return to the city, Mucius is surnamed Scaevola ("left hand") and the Senate rewards him with a grant of land west of the river, the Mucia Prata, "Mucian Meadows".


More on Mucius: 1)

The goddesses of creative inspiration in poetry, song and other arts; the companions of Apollo. They were the daughters of Jupiter and Titaness Mnemosyne (Memory) who had lain together for nine consecutive nights. The Muses were originally nymphs who prisided over springs that had the power to give inspiration, especially Aganippe and Hippocrene on Mount Helicon and the Castellian spring on Mount Parnassus. The latter eventually became their accepted abode. Thus fountains and streams are often feature in pictures of the Muses. In time their number was established as nine and each acquired her sphere of influence over learning and arts. Their attributes, particulary their musical instruments, are liable to change at different periods, making identification difficult; in the 17th and 18th cents. some may be without attributes. The most constant are the globe and compasses of Urania and Euterpe's flute. From the 17th cent. the attributes given in Ripa's 'Iconologia' were generally  followed.

Clio  (Muse of history): book, scroll or tablet and stylus, from 17th. cent. the book may be 'Herodotus' or 'Thycydides'; Chronos or little Genius (with Scythe); globe; laurel crown; trumpet;  occasionally a swan.
Chronos and the globe as attributes of Clio convey the idea, that history compasses all places and times. The figure of Chronos is often replaced by the clock. The large book, which Clio holds in her hand is a book by Thucydides, the famous history writer of antiquity. the trumpet allows the muse to proclaim the glory of big heroes, in order to teach people and kings (p. 36 Nh.)
(B0001 symb).

Euterpe (music, lyric poetry), flute, often double, or occasionally trumpet or other instrument; from 17th cent., hair garlanded with flowers.

Thalia (comedy, pastoral poetry), scroll, small viol, more rarely other instruments; from 17th cent., masks.

Melpomene (tragedy), horn, tragic masks; from 17th cent., sword of dagger; crown held in hand; sceptres lying at feet. (Stage properties).

Terpsichore (dancing and song), viol, lyre, or other stringed instrument; from 17th cent., often a harp; crowned with flowers.

Erato (lyric and love poetry), tambourine, lyre, more rarely a triangle or viol; occasionally a swan; from 17th cent., a putto at her feet.

7) Urania (astronomy), globe and compasses; from 17th cent., crowned with a circle of stars (0013 symb).

Calliope (epic poetry), trumpet; tablet and stylus; from 17th cent., books (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid); holds laurel crown.

Polyhymnia (Polymnia) (heroic hymns), portative organ, more rarely a lute or other istrument.

1) Africa (coral) (0057 symb).

Many goddesses and mythological queens wear necklaces.

Harmonia is only one example. She may hold a mirror* as well. Her necklace was beautiful but proved unlucky.
    Negro see Skin, dark.

1) Three Amorettti in a nest (0053, 0053.2 symb).
    Nike  Victory

Nike is Victory. She is often seen in company of Athena, who never puts up with defeat. There are no myths attached to her, but she is an old goddess, born before the OLYMPIANS. She lives in Olympus close to Zeus, together with her brothers Zelos, Cratos and Bia [see also Titanomachy]. She is sometimes accompanied by Fame.

Palm, laurel, wings. Chariot drawn by Lions,

More on Nike 1)


A river-god, such as Tiberinus, god of the Tiber, may hold such an object.
    Oil can.

Vestal Virgins (0042 symb).
    Oil lamp.

1) Amor and Psyche (0051 symb).
    Olive tree.

Athene. The tree was regarded as her gift to the people of Athens.

(Apollodorus 2.6:3) For murdering his friend Iphitus in a fit of madness Herculus was sold as a slave to Omphale, queen of Lydia, for three years. But she soon alleviated his lot by making him her lover. While in her service he grew effeminate, wearing women's clothes and adornments, and spinning yarn. Ovid (Fasti 2:303-358) tells how Pan, who had fallen in love with Omphale, went to her chamer one night and, misled by Hercules' change of dress, climbed into bed with him by mistake. He was quickly kicked out. There are two scenes:
1) Herculus seated beside Omphale who is caressing him. The essential feature is the exchange of attributes. She wear's his lion's skin and holds the club (0009.2 symb); he is draped in colouful robes and wears a distaff or spindle, or somtimes a tambourine (an instrument associated with vice). Cupid may be present. The subject is absent from classical Greek art, probably because it shows a hero in an unfavourable light, but it is found in Hellenistic times. In Renaissance and particulary barogue painting it illustrates the idea of woman's domination of man. The story is likely to have originated in primitive fertility rites in which the mother goddess was associated with a subordinate male god. Priests enacting the role of god wore female garments.
2) The scene in Omphale's bedchamber. Pan lies sprawled on the floor, kicked out of bed by Hercules. Omphale's servants have arrived, holding a torch, and are drawing aside the bed-curtains.

1) Athene/Minerva. She was, among other things, a goddess who protected intellectual activities. Her owl sometimes appears alone in post-classical contexts, where it indicates scholarship. A bas-relief of an owl decorates the east façade of the AF building in Lund.

2) Symbol of the night (base 0020.2 symb).
    Palanquin: see Sedan-chair.

1) Apollo.

2) Victory.

3) Fame   .. as the sequel to Victory.

4) Chasisty.

5) Holy innocents    .. group of children holding palms.

6) Felicity    .. and her seven sons.

A palm may also simply indicate that the setting is exotic, from a European point of view.

Palm tree

1) America. One of the Four Parts of the World, personified as a female figure with a naked upperbody (0026 symb).

2) Chactas (0056 symb), see Atala and Chactas.

  Panpipe: see Pipe, Flute.
  Panthers: see Leopards.
  Parcae: see Fates, Three.
    Paris.  Phrygian cap.

More on Paris

1) Immortality (Christian).

2) Juno.

3) Pride (personified).

4) Barbara (Christian Saint).
    Penis. Phallus

Priapus is a god of fertility, protector of horticulture and viticulture. His statue, holding a wooden sickle in his hand, was used in the Roman gardens as scarecrow, and his enormous penis as a threat against thieves.

More on Priapus 1) 2)

Pegasus was a winged horse and good flyer.
(0012 symb) The Pegasus was the result of the ill fated mating of Medusa and Poseidon. It was born from Medusa when her head was cut off by Perseus. Tamed by Bellerophon it served as his mount during his adventures including his slaying of the Chimaera. When Bellerophon attempted to fly Pegasus to Mount Olympus he was dismounted by Zeus. Pegasus continued on and made it to Mount Olympus. Here Pegasus spent his days carrying lighting bolts for Zeus.

See also Horse, winged.

Perseus was, as a child, cast into the sea in a chest together with his mother, whom Zeus had visited in the form of a stream of gold when she was held isolated. By accident, they say, Perseus  killed his grandfather, the man who had sent him and his mother into exile. Perseus 1 beheaded Medusa 1, and later founded the city of Mycenae, where he became king.

More on Perseus 1) 2)

  Phaeton Chariot clocks

A write up found with an Empire chariot mantel clock:
This clock is a translation of the passage in the Metamorphoses in which Ovid recounts Phaeton's unfortunate adventure. To discourage the young man from his mad plan to drive the chariot of the sun, Zeus-Jupiter had explained to him that he would meet only the wild beasts of the zodiac ; Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Cancer, of which some are represented on the arc supporting the chariot. 
Ovid tells how the hours or Horae harnessed the four horses to the chariot, then Dawn or Aurora opened her doors and Phaeton drove upward. But having no experience he was helpless when he met the fearful beasts of the zodiac . Phaeton dropped the reins, his horses bolted and the Earth began to catch on fire. However Jupiter arrested the situation, sending a thunder bolt to wreck the chariot and Phaeton went tumbling down in flames into the River Eridanus.
(0004.4 symb) 
The bronzier has caught the moment when, according to Ovid, Phaeton in ecstasy did not yet realise that his horses were bolting and setting the world on fire. It was a mistake to attribute this chariot to Apollo, because that God did not represent the sun, did not drive a chariot and played no part in Phaeton's adventure.

The fall of Phaeton, painting by Rubens.
story of Phaeton, as told by Thomas Bulfinch.
More on Phaethon.

See also Thunderbolt, Chariot wrecked

  Pheme,   (see Fama/Ossa)
Philosophy   Mother of the Seven Liberal Arts.

Several or two (Moralis and Naturalis) Books, Crown, Sceptre, Scroll, Robe with Flowers at bottom (earth) Fish in the middle (water) and Stars at the top (air), her feet sometimes rest on a Globe to express her dominion over the Seven Liberal Arts.
    Phrygian cap.  Liberty cap.

The `Phrygian bonnet' was a short, pointed, conical cap worn originally by Persian soldiers and, with the top typically folded forward, is seen in early images of the Persian god Mithras. lt was worn by his priests, the magi. The Mithraic cult was widespread in Asia Minor in antiquity and eventually reached Rome. A similar, exaggerated, style was revived in the late 14th and early 15th cent. fashions of ltaly and France. Like the turban, the Phrygian bonnet is sometimes used in or cap art to denote eastern origin. lt is especially the attribute of PARIS. (See ADORATION OF THE MAGI; AENEAS, H; GANYMEDE; LIBERTY.)

1) Paris.

2) French revolution.  The liberty cap dates back at least to Roman times. A freed slave wore it during the ceremony of his manumission, and on special occasions afterwards. Much later, it came to figure heavily in French Revolutionary iconography. I've seen representations of soldiers in the French revolutionary army wearing liberty caps as part of their uniforms.

more 1)
    Pigeon(s).  (see also Dove)

Aphrodite/Venus. Cf. goose, swan.

The instrument depicted in classical Greek and Roman art was strictly not a flute but a reed pipe, a kind of oboe, in Latin ‘tibia’. Renaissance painting depicts a variety of contemporary pipe instruments, the flute (generally vertical), the recorder (a kind of flute), oboe, shawm (with a bell-end), and cromorne (U-shaped at the end). The pipe was a widely accepted phallic symbol in primitive society, and has this meaning when played by the man in pictures of a pair of lovers.

1) Satyr (base 0037 symb); Pan/Faunus (0039 symb)

2) Euterpe, one of the Muses.

3) Mercury, lulling the shepherd Argus to sleep.

4) Vice personified.

Pan-pipes, also called syrinx, a row of graduated tubes bound together, were the instrument of the shepard in ancient Greece.

1) Pan, who also taught Daphnis to play them.

2) Daphnis and Chloe.

3) the shepard Polyphemus (see Galatea).

See also: Blow-pipe.
    Pine tree.


1) Ulysses. Drawn by an ox and an ass.

2) Silver, Ages of the world. Ploughing is one of man's activities in the silver age.   

3) Cincinnatus. A ploughman approched by Roman soldiers.

4) Cunegunda. A redhot ploughshare.


A plate held by a deity is usually a sacrificial dish. In Roman representations, a lar (a protective, perhaps ancestral spirit) may carry such a plate. The lares of a home received daily sacrifices.

A high, cylindrical or almost cylindrical hat worn by:

1) Hera as a bride. She also wears a veil in this context.

2) Demeter (when she has the epithet Thesmophoros). She, too, wears the polos with a veil.

In archaic art, all great goddesses may wear the polos, however.

1) Athene with the epithet Core (the Girl, the Maiden). This fruit is not one of Athene's best known attributes.

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

3) Hera (as a bride). She sometimes holds a pomegranate bud, rather than a fruit, or a whole basket of pomegranates.

The fruit of the pomegranate is red, with blood-like juice, and contains numerous seeds. For these reasons, it seems to have been linked with female reproductive functions—the blood of menstruation and childbirth, with the seeds as symbols of fertility. Therefore the fruit may have been seen as lucky for a bride. On the other hand, it also had Underworld associations. A pomegranate seed is that food of the dead which Core eats, and which, apparently, makes her an inhabitant of the nether world for ever. But because of the associations with reproduction, the pomegranate might have been seen as hopeful, a promise of rebirth, and suitable for the dead to eat. Cf the similar ambiguity surrounding the cockerel* and poppy*.
  Pomona (Vertumnus & Pomona)

Vertumnus rose and shed his old woman disguise (mask), revealing himself to Pomona.

Fruit, mask.

More on Vertumnus & Pomona 1) 2)

    Poppy, poppies.

Core/Persephone/Proserpina. The seeds of this flower were regarded as soporific. This referred to the goddess's annual stay (sleep) in the Underworld, and therefore also to death as a kind of sleep. An alternative interpretation is that the poppy stands for fertility, as each flower produces numerous seeds. The ambiguity of this plant recalls that of the cockerel* and the pomegranate*.
    Pot, jar.

1) Electra, who may be carrying wine as a libation to her father Agamemnon's grave.

2) Isis, the Egyptian goddess whose cult was imported into Rome. Water allegedly fetched from the Nile was used in her cult, and the pot is probably a reference to this.

Priapus is a god of fertility, protector of horticulture and viticulture. His statue, holding a wooden sickle in his hand, was used in the Roman gardens as scarecrow, and his enormous penis as a threat against thieves. 

More on Priapus 1)
  Procris Cephalus

The story tells of Cephalus who is given a spear by Aurora, the Godess of the Dawn. The magic spear never misses its target and in a hunting accident, Cephalus spears his own wife Procris who is spying on him because she wrongly suspects him of infldelity.

More on Procris 1)

With Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, signifying not caution but simply wise conduct. Prudence is personified as a woman with a Snake and a Mirror  (0020 symb). The snake is derived from Matthew (10:16), 'Be ye wise (prudentes) as serpents.' She acquired the mirror in late Middle Ages; it signifies that the wise man has the ability to see himself as he really is.
Prudence may less often, have Compasses (her mesured judgement), a book (the Scriptures) or a Stag (prudent in eluding his pursuers). The snake sometimes takes the form of a dragon.
Prudence may, like Janus, have two faces that look in both directions simultaneously, signifying her circumspection. The vice opposed to Prudence is Folly (Stultitia) perhaps portrayed as a jester with a bauble or, probably a corruption of the same image, a man crowned with feathers and holding a cudgel.


Psyche was the daughter of an unknown king. Her beauty was so extraordinary that men would worship her instead of courting her.
Aphrodite then, out of jealousy for her beauty, sent Eros to make Psyche fall in love with some unworthy man while an oracle said that Psyche must wed a horrible monster on the top of a mountain. Psyche then was first exposed, and then carried by the wind to a castle. But Eros, instead of obeying Aphrodite, fell in love with Psyche and visited her every night, although never allowing Psyche to see him. However, following the advices dictated by jealousy that her two sisters gave her, Psyche managed to know who her lover was. Eros then deserted her, and when their love was discovered, Psyche suffered the wrath of Aphrodite, who mistreated her in many ways. However, after several complications the lovers could reunite, and Psyche was reconciled with Aphrodite and made immortal.

More on Psyche 1)  
More on Amor & Psyche  1) 2)

1) Amor/Eros


1) Helle. She rides on a flying ram, or has just fallen off.

2) Hermes, who as a shepherd god sometimes carries a small ram.

3) Medea. She rejuvenated a ram in a cauldron of boiling water.

4) Helle's brother Phrixus. He rides on the same ram, often together with her, but sometimes alone after her fall.

5) Odysseus/Ulysses may be shown clinging to the wool of a large ram, in order to escape from Polyphemus's cave.

Ram's skin.

This is the Golden Fleece (perhaps an archaic sign of royalty). It may be shown hanging in a tree. Iason, helped by Medea, won the fleece and her love. The ram* to which the fleece originally belonged was identical with that of Helle and Phrixus.

1) Jason. (0010 symb)

1) Aphrodite/Venus (0052 symb).

2) Eos/Aurora. In Greek mythology the goddess of the dawn, often called ‘rosy fingerd’, a translation of the famous poetic picture of the morning red, which Homer paints in his Odysse: ‘when the shimmering morning woke up with rose fingers’ (Odysse II, 1). (0040A-C symb).


1) Tyche/Fortuna. Cf wheel.

2) Abundance
  Sandals, winged.

Hermes/Mercury. The wings represent speed and movement. Boots may be substituted for sandals.
(0007 symb).

Perseus. ...He then gave the sandals, satchel and cap to Hermes


Amor. The weighing of Amor: on one scale Amor on the other a butterfly, representing Psyche and the rational-sensual love (0025 symb).

1) Demeter/Ceres.

2) Hades/Pluto.

3) Hera/Juno. Sometimes, in this case, the sceptre is topped with a cuckoo. Occasionally this goddess holds a sceptre so long that it might as well be called a staff.

4) Rhea. Also in her case, the sceptre may be long enough to be called a staff.

5) Zeus/Jupiter
(0022 symb).

6) Europe (crown).

7) Philosophy
    Scissors: see Shears.

1) Philosophy

2) Phetoric, one of the Seven Liberal Arts.

1) Saturn/Cronus. Attribute of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, and of the old Greek god Cronus, with whom he became identified. Cronus castrated the aged Uranus with a sickle.

2) Cronus/Father time. It was from Cronus that Father Time acquired his scythe which cuts life short.
(0002, 0005, B0004 symb)

3) Carried by Death. The scythe which life cuts short.

4) Attribute of Summer. As a tool of the husbandman it is the attribute of Summer personified, one of the four seasons, and occasionally of Ceres.

5) Amor carrying a scythe: Triumph of Love over Time, 'Omnia vincit Amor' (0062 symb).
  Seasons. (the four seasons)

Spring:  young woman with Flowers and Garlands in her hair. sometimes a Spade or Hoe. Represented by: Flora, Venus.  More: 1)

Summer: Sickle, ears or sheaf of Corn, Fruit. Represented by: Ceres.  More: 1)

Autumn: Grapes, Vine leaves, wine Barrel. Represented by: Bacchus.

Winter: old Man, near Fire. Represented by: Angerona, Boreas, Vulcan. More: 1) 2)


Tritons. These marine deities of lower rank may hold such seashells, perhaps use them as trumpets. A triton with such an instrument tops the university fountain in Lund.


1) Aphrodite/Venus. In Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", the goddess stands up in a large, vertical seashell of this kind. The motif may not be older than this particular painting, though the myth of Aphrodite's birth from the sea certainly is.
Hall: The scallop shell was in antiquity the attribute of Venus, who was born of the sea, or according to a few classical authors from the shell itself. She floats ashore in a shell or holds one in her hand (0019 symb).

1) Carried by black slaves: Paul and Virginie. A whole group of pendulum clocks is based on the book by Bernardin de Saint Pierre from 1788: "Paul and Virginie". Dominigue is the loyal slave of Virginie and her mother, who - unhappy about the affairs in France - had moved to the Ile de France. Viriginie falls in love with Paul, the son of another immigrant, but has to leave the island (Nh. p 150-152) (0060, 0061 symb).
  Sheaf (corn).

Demeter/Ceres (0008, 0036 symb).
  Shears  (scissors)

The three Fates.  ...while Atropos, the most terrible of the three, is about to snip the thread with her shears.
    Shepherd's staff.

1) Attis.

2) Ganymede.

3) Paris.

Jesus as the Good Shepherd was later depicted with such a staff. It developed into the episcopal crozier.
  Shield with Gorgon's (Medusa's) head.

1) Athene/Minerva
(0011, 0033 symb).

2) Perseus.

Also the Greek hoplites carried such shields. The Gorgon's head was a typical apotropaic device.

1) Cronus/Saturn. The latter was an old agricultural Roman deity; the sickle was an instrument of harvest (and perhaps a lunar emblem as well, on account of the crescent shape). When Cronus was interpreted as Time personified, the sickle became a symbol of his destructive powers. In the Middle Ages, it turned into the scythe wielded by Time, who thus preserved an agricultural connection, or Death. Today, the personified Old Year sometimes borrows Time's emblems, the scythe and the hourglass.

2) Perseus. The sickle as his weapon seems gradually to have ousted his sword.

3) Demeter/Ceres (004.3, 0008, 0036 symb).

4) Maenad/Bacchante (Grape sickle) (0039 symb).

Sisyphus (also Sísyphos or Sisuphos), in Greek mythology, was the son of Aeolus and Enarete, husband of Merope, and King/Founder of Ephyra (Corinth). According to some (later) sources, he was the father of Odysseus by Anticlea, before she married her later husband, Laertes.
Sisyphus is best known for being punished in the Underworld by rolling a stone with his hands and head in an effort to heave it over the top of a hill; but regardless of how much he pushes, the stone rebounds backwards again and again. This punishment he endures because when Zeus had secretely carried off Aegina, Sisyphus disclosed the secret to her father, the river god Asopus, who was looking for her.

More on Sisyphus 1) 2)


1) This rattling instrument is sometimes held by Isis, the great Egyptian goddess whose cult became popular in the Roman empire. Her priests and other devotees used sistra, perhaps for apotropaic purposes.
    Skin, dark.

1) America is personified as a female figure with a dark skin (0026 symb).

2) Africa personified, female figure (0057 symb).

3) Chactas, male (0056 symb), see
Atala and Chactas.

4) Dominigue (black male or boy) and Virginie (female, white skin). A whole group of pendulum clocks is based on the book by Bernardin de Saint Pierre from 1788: "Paul and Virginie". Dominigue is the loyal slave of Virginie and her mother, who - unhappy about the affairs in France - had moved to the Ile de France. Viriginie falls in love with Paul, the son of another immigrant, but has to leave the island. Domingue is the perfect personification of the 'noble savage' (Nh, p. 150-153) (0058, 0059 symb).

5) The sedan-chair with Virginie and Paul is carried by black slaves (see Skin, dark 4) (0060, 0061 symb)

See also: ram's skin, lion's skin.
  Skirt of Feathers

2) America. One of the Four Parts of the World, personified as a female figure with a naked upperbody (crown of feathers, palm tree, bow and arrows, caiman) (0026 symb).
    Slave (black): see Skin, dark.

1) Asclepius/Aesculapius. See also caduceus.

2) Athene. A small guardian snake may be half hidden behind her shield.

3) Apollo, who killed Python, a much larger and more dangerous serpent.

4) genii or iunones. The "soul" of the father of a Roman household was known as his genius, that of the mother as her iuno. These spirits could either be depicted with a snake, or as snakes (the male one was then bearded).

5) Hermes/Mercury. See caduceus.

6) The Hesperides. Their apple-tree is guarded by a snake.

7) Iason. One cup-painting shows him as half regurgitated from the jaws of a huge serpent. The literary versions of the Iason stories do not mention this event, which may symbolize rebirth (cf caduceus). The name "Iason", suitably, means "healer".

8) Laocoon and his sons. They were strangled by sea serpents.

9) Prudence. The snake is derived from Matthew (10:16), 'Be ye wise (prudentes) as serpents'. (0021, 0046 symb).

10) Snake-haired woman, Medusa.

11) Pan/Faunus. (0038 symb); Satyr. The handling of snakes form part of the rites of Bacchus and they therefore became  the attribute of his attendants.

12) Chronos, Father time, Saturn, snake biting it's tail (Ouroboros).

Snake/serpent, winged.

1) Demeter/Ceres. Ceres may ride a chariot drawn by dragons. Originally a dragon was merely a large snake (associated with fertility in primitive religion). and in classical sculpture Ceres is shown holding a snake in each hand (Hall 1979, p. 62)
 (0036 symb).



The attribute of the warrior and the hunter. It is seen in the hand of:

1) Athene/Minerva (0011 symb).

2) Foritude.

3) Constancy.

4) Diana. The hunters weapon is generally the lighter javelin, made for throwing.
  Sphere, Armillary

An old astronomical instrument in which the principal ‘circles’ of the heavens were represented by means of metal rings.

1) Attribute of Astronomy, one of the Seven Liberal Arts (0030 symb).

2) Symbol of the universe.

3) Attribute of Urania (see Muses) (0064 symb).

Oedipus, who solved the riddle of a famous sphinx. Cf wings.

Fates, Three. The attribute of Lachesis, of the Three Fates the one who spins the thread of human life. (0023 symb)


1) On robe of Philosophy, identifying Air.
  Star gazer.

1) Astronomy: see Muses.

1) Aphrodite/Venus.

2) Leda. She was seduced by Zeus disguised as a swan
(0014 symb). In one version, their encounter caused Leda to lay two eggs, each containing a famous pair of twins: Helen and Clytaemnestra, and Castor and Polydeuces/Pollux. Because of their mixed parentage, sometimes only one of the twins was in each case regarded as divine: Helen, but not Clytaemnestra; Polydeuces, but not Castor (0032 symb).

1) Aeneas. He is sometimes depicted with a white sow that was the augury for his founding of Lavinium. He sacrificed the animal to Juno.

2) Atalanta. She was one of those who killed the Calydonian boar, and is shown as participating in this hunt.

3) Circe is occcasionally shown with men who have partly been turned into swine and other animals; perhaps these victims of her magical powers are supposed to be in the actual process of being transformed.

4) Heracles/Hercules may carry a boar. This is the fierce Erymanthian wild boar, and to capture this animal was one of Heracles's Labours. The hero may be shown as presenting this swine to Eurystheus, for whom these were performed.

5) Meleager was also involved in the Calydonian boar hunt, just as Atalanta (see above).

The playing of drums by women formed part of the rites of Dionysus in ancient Greece. Hence his devotees, the Maenads, art typically represented beating a tambourine.

1) Maenad/Bacchante (0037, 0039 symb).

2) Vice personified.

3) Hercules dressed as a woman.

4) Erato, the Muse of love poetry.

  Telemachus and Calypso.

Telemachus was shipwrecked on the island of the nymph Calypso, where Ulysses too had been wrecked and kept by Calypso who had wanted to marry him. Similarly, Calypso fell in love with Telemachus and detained him by persuading him to relate his previous adventures. Venus sent Cupid to aid her in her designs, but Telemachus fell in love with Eucharis, one of Calypso's nymphs, provoking the godess's wrath. Cupid incited the other nymphs to burn a new boat that Mentor had built to aid Telemachus's escape. Telemachus was delighted by this delay but was thrown into the sea by Mentor and they were picked up by a passing vessel.

More on Telemachus: 1)


1) Astronomy, see Muses.


It represents lightning, and is often depicted as an oblong, rather plump "bomb" (but sometimes as a double axe*).

1) Summanus, a Roman god in charge of nocturnal thunder and lightning.

2) Vediovis. He was a Roman, rather mysterious god who may have represented some negative aspect of Jupiter, perhaps his capacity to kill as the wielder of lightning.

3) Zeus/Jupiter
(0006, 0022, 0031 symb).

4) The fall of Phaeton. The Chariot, and four hourses, reins flying, all tumble headlong out of the sky. Jupiter throws a thunderbolt
(0004.4 symb).

This staff, topped with a pine cone, is a typical emblem of Dionysus/Bacchus. Also his worshippers, the Bacchantes, may carry such staffs. It has been suggested that the pine cone obliquely refers to that pine resin with which some Greek wine was (and is) flavoured.
  Time: see Chronos.

1) Artemis/Diana. Torches in this context have been interpreted as a reference to nocturnal hunting. To me it seems more likely that they symbolize the light of the moon. Like Hecate, Artemis and probably Diana were lunar deities, among other things.

2) Eros/Amor/Cupid in connection with weddings, when torches were used to accompany the bride after dark.

3) Core/Persephone/Proserpina. A torch may refer to her wedding, or rather abduction.

4) Hecate. She is sometimes shown in triad, with three torches, as presiding over a crossroads where three roads meet. Both the torches and the number three refer to the moon, the former because they shine at night, the latter because it was the lunar sacred number. (The moon had three aspects: waxing, full, waning).

5) In sanctuaries dedicated to Mithras, there were often two sculpted figures, one holding an upright torch, the other an inverted one, probably symbols of the rising and setting sun. But also an almost opposite interpretation is possible: that the upright torch stands for night, when torches were needed, and the other one for day, or morning, when they were put out.

6) Eos/Aurora, goddess of the dawn (0020 symb).

7) Personification of Genius (wings, flame, male youth) (0030 symb).

1) Poseidon/Neptune.
The god who ruled the sea.  The trident was a weapon used for tuna fishing. But the number three was also a sacred or lucky number. The god was supposed to stir up storms at sea with his trident. He could also use it to create freshwater springs.

2) Symbol of the sea (B0004 symb).

1) The straight trumpet, the Roman tuba, is the attribute of FAME (0063 symb). She sometimes has two, a long and a short. It is occasionally the attribute of the MUSES Calliope, Euterpe and, from the 17th cent., Clio. Trumpets are blown by angels to announce the LAST JUDGEMENT, and at the day of wrath (APOCA-
LYPSE). Seven priests blow trumpets, perhaps made of ram's horns, outside the walls of Jericho (JOSHUA). In concerts of angels from the 15th cent. may be seen the contemporary trumpet with a double bend, the forerunner of the mod-ern instrument.

Apollo and Heracles/Hercules are sometimes shown as fighting for the tripod of Apollo's temple at Delphi. The struggle has been said to symbolize a Dorian attempt to take over this cult centre. The tripod was that on which the oracle (sibyl) sat when she prophesied; three was a sacred number.
  Urania: see Muses.

1) Artemisia
(0018 symb).

Urn from which water flows.

2) River-god / personification of water (0024 symb).

  Veil or shawl.

1) Aphrodite

2) Core/Persephone/Proserpina.

3) Cybele may wear one with her crown.

4) Hera (as a bride).

5) Hestia/Vesta wears one on her head and shoulders. So did each Vestal in Rome. This was really a bridal headdress; Vesta was chaste, and so had the Vestals to be, because they were considered to be married to the eternal fire on Vesta's sacred hearth. Fire is almost always male in mythology and folklore. Cf the veils of nuns, who in many ways were the Vestals' successors. Nuns were, and are, called the brides of Christ.

6) Nereids (sea nymphs) sometimes hold—rather than wear—arching or billowing veils, probably representing the waves of the sea.

7) Also sacrificing Roman heroes, such as Aeneas, may be depicted with their heads veiled, according to the custom in Rome.

8) Psyche (and Amor) (0050 symb).

Veil with stars (Veil of Night).

1) Eos/Aurora. Aurora lifting the veil of night (0020 symb).
  Venus (Gr. Aphrodite) and Cupid

Venus is the Roman name for the goddess of love and fertility. In Greek mythology she is known as Aphrodite and is one of the 12 Olympian gods. Venus, and Aphrodite, had the function of imparting love and sexual attraction. One of the legends say that she was born from the foam (aphros in Greek) of the sea, from which she appeared as a woman.
(Attributes Shell
(0019 symb) and Dolphins, both recall her birth from the sea). She is the mother of Cupid and the Three Graces are her attendants. Venus loved and had affairs with gods and mortals alike and is involved in many mythological legends. The Odyssey mentions Venus' infidelity to Vulcan, who was her husband and had been imposed on her by Jupiter as punishment for her indifference to his love. Apart from Cupid, Venus had other godly offsprings, among which are: Harmony, conceived with Mars (or Ares);
Hermaphroditus, conceived with Mercury (or Hermes);
Priapus, conceived with Bacchus (or Dyonisos). Among Venus' mortal lovers are Adonis (see note on Venus and Adonis, lot 3) and Anchises with whom she gave birth to Aeneas, a Trojan and the legendary ancestor of the Romans whose story is told in Virgil's Aeneid.

Cupid was the son of Venus. His name is Eros in Greek and Amor in Latin. While for the Greeks Eros is the god of love in the sense of carnal desire, for the Romans Cupid is the god of love, in the full sense of the word. Cupid always hovered round lovers with his bow and arrows which he aimed at gods and mortals alike. Sometimes he is shown blindfold because love is blind but it also signifies darkness due to the element of sin in his doings and mischief.
Eros had a brother, Anteros, who symbolized reciprocated love. Often two litde cupids are seen together seemingly fighting; their fight is not one of discord but a symbol of the strength of their feeling for each other. When Eros and Anteros are portrayed as twin Cupids (or even twin Venuses) they illustrate sacred and profane love and their struggle symbolizes that dual aspect of love.
Cupid's love is Psyche whom he visited only at night and made her promise not to set eyes on him. However, one night Psyche, urged by her sisters as well as curiosity, took an oil lamp to gaze at her lover while he slept; but he awoke as a drop of hot oil fell on him and left her angrily. Psyche wandered over earth looking for him and, in the hope of winning him back, tried to accomplish Venus' impossible tasks. Various gods interceded in vain with Venus until finally Jupiter (or Zeus), moved by Cupid's plea, had her carried to heaven by Mercury (or Hermes), whereupon the two lovers were reunited and married.

Cupid was often punished by Venus, she captures him in a cage or she may have hem across her knee; here raised hand holding a bunch of roses with which to strike him.  Diana's nyphs stole his arrows break or burned them while he was sleeping or clipped his winges, all for the mischief his arrows caused.

Venus and Adonis.
Venus, was hopelessly in love with the beautiful Adonis. One day while hunting he was slain by a wild boar but Venus was too late to save him.

More on Venus and Adonis: 1)

    Virtues (the seven virtues)

Theological virtues:
-Hope, her opposing vise is despair, Anchor, Flowers (the hope of the fruit), Crow because it calls 'cras cras' i.e. 'tomorrow tomorrow' in Latin. 

Cardinal virtues:
  Vestal Virgin.

Priestess of the temple of Vesta (Gk Hestia), the Roman goddess of the fire that burns in the hearth. One of the Vestals’ duties was to keep the altar fire in the temple burning perpetually. They were sworn to absolute chastity (0042, 0042.2 symb).

More:  1)
    Victory: see Nike.


One of the virtues required of monarchs and others in public life, hence chiefly represented in secular allegory.

1) Crane, the long-legged wading bird stands on one foot; the other is raised holding a stone in its claw, when the bird fell asleep the stone dropped and immediately reawakened it, so that it was ever watchful.
2) Lamp.
3) Dragon, the vigilant guardian of the Golden Fleece, and the apples of the Hesperides.
4) Book.

More: 1)

    Vine. (leaves).

1) Dionysus/Bacchus. It seems odd that the ivy* is far more common as an emblem of his.

2) Maenad/Bacchante (0037 symb).
3) Autumn

See also:

1) Circe as a sorceress.
2) Hermes/Mercury as conductor of souls to the Underworld.

The later wands of fairies, witches and wizards seem to be derived from these two classical precedents.

Tyche/Fortuna. She usually has either a wheel or a rudder, as well as a cornucopia. Perhaps the wheel originally symbolized the turning year, but developed into an emblem of the vicissitudes of life. As such, the wheel was used well into the Middle Ages. Fortuna as a Roman goddess stood for chance rather than fate. So did her later, more vulgar equivalents, Dame Fortune and Lady Luck.

  Whet stone: see Grind stone.
  Winds. the four.

In Greek Mythology Aeolus was the Keeper of the Winds, he was married to Eos the goddess of the dawn. Their four children were the four Winds:

Boreas is the Greek god of the North wind.
1) beard, wings.

Eurus is the Greek god of the East wind, his Roman name is Vulturnus.
1) wings.

Notus is the god of the very warm and moist South wind, his roman name is Auster.
1) wings.

Zephyrus is the Greek god of the West wind, his roman name is Favonius,
1) flowers,  plants, wings.


  Wild boar: see Swine.

Many creatures in classical mythology sport birds' wings. Quite often these indicate speed, but sometimes the reference is clearly rather to a position "up there" (in the sky), or to something/somebody that is not a material object or person.

These are only a few examples, relatively common in pictorial art:

1) Eos/Aurora, goddess of dawn
(0020 symb).

2) Eros/Cupid/Amor. The son of Aphrodite/Venus, he was depicted as a naked winged boy
(B0004 symb), sometimes with a bow and arrows (0019 symb). There are also cupids in the plural; these tend to have a purely decorative function.

3) Nike/Victoria (Victory). Personifying military victory, she usually, though not always, is equipped with wings. It is possible that she originally stood for a quick or unexpected victory—hence the wings, meaning speed.

4) Pegasus: see

5) Psyche. She represents the human soul, and is normally winged—perhaps because thought is quick like a bird, perhaps because the soul was believed to rise, like a bird or butterfly, at the moment of death. (0051 symb).

6) History. Usually personified in Renaissance and baroque art as a winged female in a white robe, who writes in a book or an a tablet sometimes supported on the back of Father Time (0016 symb).

Sirens. They were part women, part birds. Post-classically, they developed into mermaids.

8) Sphinxes. The Greek ones were part women, part lions, and had wings. (Egyptian sphinxes, on the other hand, are part men, part lions, and lack wings.)

9) Summanus. The Roman god of nocturnal thunder and lightning, he is sometimes depicted with wings, to indicate that he belongs to the upper regions (the sky). His other emblem is the thunderbolt*.

10) Winds. Personified winds could have wings.

11) Icarus.

12) Chronos / Father Time (0002, B0003 symb).

13) Personification of Genius (flame or torch, male youth) (0030 symb).

14) Zephyr (butterfly wings).

See also:
Sandals, winged; Butterfly wings; Hat; Snake.

Romulus and Remus. When these twins, later founders of Rome, were newborn, they were suckled by a she-wolf. The triad of boys and wolf became a symbol of Rome, as city and empire. The wolf was one of Mars's sacred animals, and the myth is symbolic. Mars was, or became, the Roman god of war. Romulus and Remus stand for all Romans: nourished on wolf's milk, they were "inevitably" a martial people.

Writing table.

1) Personification of Imagination (writing feather, female figure) (0030 symb).
Writing feather.

1) Personification of Imagination (writing feather, female figure) (0030 symb).

1) Wings (butterfly)
  Zeus/Jupiter (or Jove).

The supreme ruler of the gods and the mortals, and the chief of the twelve Olympians. All the powers and functions of divinity wer embodied in him. He was the god of the sky and the changing weather whose thunderbolts destroyed his enemies. But he was alson merciful and protected the weak.
In Greece one of the principal seats of his worship was the temple of Zeus at Olympia, which contained the famous statue of Phidias, wrought in gold and ivory, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The traditional image of Jupiter, his noble features framed by the ambrosial locks that made Olympus shake when he nodded, may have come down to us from this long lost original. But the common picture that emereges through the work of later artists is a different, less majestic one. This is the god of many loves, who deceives maidens, divine and mortal, by his metamorphoses, while his wife Juno (Hera) hovers in the background, angry and scheming.
His main attributes are few: the Eagle (which flew towards him as he was about to make war on the Titans - an augury of his subsequent victory). It may be regarded as his messenger, or sometimes as the personification of Jupiter himself. The Thunderbolt (generally a kind of double-ended, tow or three-pronged and barbed fork or, in baroque painting, a bunch of flames) is the ancient attempt to represent lightning. It is often held in the eagle's claw. The Sceptre (symbol of regal authority)
(0022 symb).

More on Zeus 1)


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Robert Graves: The Greek Myths, Volumes 1 & 2. Pelican/Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1985-1986.
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John Pinsent: Greek Mythology. Paul Hamlyn, London, &c, 1969.
Pantheon.org: Micha Lindemans, Encyclopedia Mythica.
Ovid: Metamorphoses.

Martin P:n Nilsson: Olympen. Prisma, Stockholm, 1985.
Stuart Perowne: Roman Mythology. Newnes Books, Feltham, 1983.
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Gösta Säflund: Att tyda antika bildverk. Paul Åströms förlag, Gothenburg, 1984.
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Beijing Art publishers: Mythological Attributes and Symbols, 1966.
Wikipedia.org: Free encyclopedia.