Originally in Greek mythology, Achelous was the god of all rivers and water of the world. During Hellenistic times, Achelous was only associated with the Achelous river. This is the largest river in all Greece. Every river has its own river spirit and Achelous was considered the chief of all the deities of rivers.
In Etruscan mythology, Achelous was considered an important deity. He was intimately associated with water. This has become a Greek tradition. Achelous also has significant underworld associations. In the 8th century, iconography representing a man-faced bull was initially adapted for Achelous as he was considered an Etruscan deity. The Greeks also eventually adopted this tradition of his image.
Throughout Greece, Achelous was treated as an important divinity from the earliest times. Achelous was invoked when people took oaths, make prayers as well as made sacrifices and more. An oracle was considered a gateway to knowing the will of the gods. Every oracle Achelous gave to humans is believed to have been added to by Zeus at Dodoma. It included a command to provide sacrifices to Achelous. The meaning of the god himself to people in Greece is illustrated by the widespread worship of Achelous. Some believe this may account for the belief that Achelous is the representative of sweet water in general. This means they believed Achelous to be the source of all nourishment.
Seer-Healer And Mercenaries
One of the most important exponents in Etruscan and Greek societies during the Iron Age were the mercenaries and seer-healers. The image of Achelous was a man with the face of a bull. He was an emblem used by the mercenaries and seer-healers in Greek societies for hundreds of years. It is believed this early figure was initially adapted by the iconographic and mythological traditions of Asalluhi, who was the god of magic and incantations. This was done because Achelous was also considered a princely bison figure in Near Eastern traditions. Achelous was believed to go to the surface of the earth in marshes and spring. He would then eventually begin flowing as rivers.
The king of Calydon was Oeneus. Achelous was a suitor of the king’s daughter who was named Deianeira. On some thrones in ancient Greece were representations of the contest between Heracles with Achelous. It is in Megarans at Olympic in the treasury where there was a statue of Achelous made of gold and cedar wood that was created by a greek named Dontas. There are also many depictions of Achelous as a bearded man in his prime or an older gray-haired man. In Classical and Archaic times, it was common to depict Achelous as a man-faced bull. It was also common for a city’s coinage to feature a man-faced bull.
Achelous battled Heracles for the attention of Deianira. She was a river nymph. During the battle, Achelous turned himself into a bull and a serpent. Heracles ripped off one of the horns of Achelous This forced him to surrender to Heracles. Achelous wanted the horn back. He traded the goat horn of Amalthea to Heracles to get it back. Achelous then gave the horn to the Naiads. They changed the horn into a cornucopia. Deianeria was relieved. She was horrified at the idea of being courted by a river god from the underworld.
Some consider Achelous to have fathered the Sirens of Terpsicore, Calliope or Melpomene. They were created from the blood Achelous lost when Heracles pulled off his horn. Alcmaeon was a god who was the son of Eriphyle and Amphiaraus. After losing a large battle, Alcameon found peace at a spot along the Achelous river. It was here that Achelous offered Alcameon his daughter Callirhoe for marriage. Before this could happen, Achelous required Alcmaeon to get jewelry and clothing from his mother who was called Eriphyle. This was the clothing Eriphyle wore when she sent the father of Achelous to his death. Alcameon agreed and was also going to get the cloths from king Phegeus. This is the person who had sent his sons to murder Alcmaeon.
Italian Middy Feast
When Theseus was waiting for a river’s raging flood to subside, he was the guest of Achelous. Where Thesus stayed was described as a building made of rough and spongy pumice. It had a floor of soft moss. Oyster and freshwater mussel shells covered the ceiling. In Italy during the sixteenth century, there was a desire to recreate this Classical space. It also inspired these types of dwellings to be built in France. The banquet served at the home of Achelous was written about and became a prototype for midday feasts in Italy. They would take place in garden grottoes under fountain-cooled shade.
Origin Of River Achelous
It is said Achelous lost one of the Sirens that was his daughters. During his intense sadness, he invoked his mother Gaea. She received Achelous to her bosom. On the spot where this occurred, Gaea caused a river named Achelous to come forth. It is said that the river had a bull’s voice. The winding of the river is said to have been caused because Achelous could turn himself into a serpent.
Recent studies have shown the substance of Achelous as a god goes back to Old Europe during the Bronze age. This was a time when some Old European cultures disappeared. These traditions eventually made their way to Greece, Sardinia, Italy, and Sicily. No single group of people followed Achelous, but his image has lasted through many generations. A god that is a man-faced bull is found in many places around the Mediterranean.
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