Pasiphaë

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In Greek mythology, Pasiphaë (English: /pəˈsɪfə.iː/; Greek: Πασιφάη Pasipháē), "wide-shining"[1] was the daughter of Helios, the Sun, by the eldest[2] of the Oceanids, Perse;[3] Like her doublet Europa, her origins were in the East, in her case at Colchis, the palace of the Sun; she was given in marriage to King Minos of Crete. With Minos, she was the mother of Ariadne, Androgeus, Glaucus, Deucalion, Phaedra, and Catreus. She was also the mother of "starlike" Asterion, called by the Greeks the Minotaur, after a curse from Poseidon caused her to experience lust for and mate with a white bull sent by Poseidon.[4] "The Bull was the old pre-Olympian Poseidon," Ruck and Staples remark.[5] In the Greek literalistic understanding of a Minoan myth,[6] in order to actually copulate with the bull, she had the Athenian artificer Daedalus[7] construct a portable wooden cow with a cowhide covering, within which she was able to satisfy her strong desire.[8] The effect of the Greek interpretation was to reduce a more-than-human female, daughter of the Sun itself, to a stereotyped emblem of grotesque bestiality and the shocking excesses of female sensuality and deceit.[9] Pasiphaë appeared in Virgil's Eclogue VI (45-60), in Silenus' list of suitable mythological subjects, on which Virgil lingers in such detail that he gives the sixteen-line episode the weight of a brief inset myth.[10] In Ovid's Ars Amatoria Pasiphaë is reduced to unflattering human terms: Pasiphae fieri gaudebat adultera tauri— "Pasiphaë took pleasure in becoming an adulteress with a bull."

In other aspects, Pasiphaë, like her niece Medea, was a mistress of magical herbal arts in the Greek imagination. The author of Bibliotheke (3.197-198) records the fidelity charm she placed upon Minos, who would ejaculate serpents and scorpions, killing any unlawful concubine; but Procris, with a protective herb, lay with Minos with impunity.[11] In mainland Greece, Pasiphaë was worshipped as an oracular goddess at Thalamae, one of the original koine of Sparta. The geographer Pausanias describes the shrine as small, situated near a clear stream, and flanked by bronze statues of Helios and Pasiphaë. His account also equates Pasiphaë with Ino and the lunar goddess Selene.

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