In Greek mythology, Tithonus or Tithonos (Ancient Greek: Τιθωνός) was the lover of Eos, Titan of the dawn. He was a Trojan by birth, the son of King Laomedon of Troy by a water nymph named Strymo (Στρυμώ). In the mythology known to the fifth-century vase-painters of Athens, Tithonus was envisaged as a rhapsode, as the lyre in his hand, on an oinochoe of the Achilles Painter, ca. 470 BC–460 BCE (illustration) attests. Competitive singing, as in the Contest of Homer and Hesiod, is also depicted vividly in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo and mentioned in the two Hymns to Aphrodite.
Eos kidnapped Ganymede and Tithonus, both from the royal house of Troy, to be her lovers. The mytheme of the goddess's immortal lover is an archaic one; when a role for Zeus was inserted, a bitter new twist appeared: According to the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, when Eos asked Zeus for Tithonus to be immortal, she forgot to ask for eternal youth (218-38). Tithonus indeed lived forever
In later tellings he eventually turned into a cicada, eternally living, but begging for death to overcome him. In the Olympian system, the "queenly" and "golden-throned" Eos can no longer grant immortality to her lover as Selene had done, but must ask it of Zeus, as a boon.
Eos bore Tithonus two sons, Memnon and Emathion. In the Epic Cycle that revolved around the Trojan War, Tithonus, who has travelled east from Troy into Assyria and is the founder of Susa, is bribed to send his son Memnon to fight at Troy with a golden grapevine. Memnon was called "King of the East" by Hesiod, but he was killed on the plain of Troy by Achilles. Aeschylus says in passing that Tithonus also had a mortal wife, named Cissia (otherwise unknown).
A newly-found poem on Tithonus is the fourth extant complete poem by ancient Greek lyrical poetess Sappho.
Eos and Tithonus (inscribed Tinthu or Tinthun) provided a pictorial motif that was inscribed on Etruscan bronze hand-mirrorbacks, or cast in low relief.
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