Kithairon is a mountain demi-god with a smaller presence in Greek mythology. Kithairon is one of the Ourea, a set of primordial deities who govern various mountains throughout Greece. Kithairon is the personification of Mount Kithairon. It’s centrally located, acting as a physical boundary between Boeotia to the north and Attica to the south.
Like other Ourea, Kirthairon didn’t frequently appear in Greek mythology. He’s more of a background player, occasionally intervening in conflicts occurring on his mountain. The demi-god often takes the form of a wise older man. But because he came into existence long before the Titans, Olympians, and mortals, Kithairon doesn’t always have a human-like appearance. He’s a personification of his mountain, serving as a foreboding figure that rationalizes a crucial fundamental concept of nature.
The Origins of Kithairon
Kithairon was born shortly after Chaos, the primal emptiness of the universe. Out of Chaos came the first beings to exist: The primordial deities. One of the earliest gods to come into existence is Gaia. Gaia is the personification of the Earth and the mother of all things. Without Gaia, there would be no stories of gods, goddesses, and the beasts we love today.
Shortly after her creation, Gaia gave birth to the Ourea. Also considered primordial gods, the Ourea are mountain gods that personify the various ranges throughout Greece. Artwork is sparse, but most pieces show them as older gentlemen emerging from rocky crags.
The Ourea don’t have a strong presence in the mythos. They’re known more as background figures who provide guidance and judgment when necessary.
Kithairon’s mountain is in central Greece. As a result, the demi-god has a more significant role than most Ourea. He occasionally appears to interact with other figures.
The Singing Competition
Here is one of the more oddball stories involving Kithairon. According to some early poets, Kithairon participated in a singing competition against Helikon. Helikon is another Ourea who ruled over the nearby Helikon mountain.
Helikon’s mountain is considerably bigger than Kithairon’s. When the demi-god was challenged to sing against a rival, he jumped at the opportunity. The two sang for anyone who would hear, and a secret vote was put up to determine the winner.
Unfortunately, the other Ourea couldn’t settle on a winner on their own. The same went for any passerby who got the chance to hear these demi-gods ring their voice through the mountains.
Ultimately, the messenger god Hermes had to make the final decision. He deemed Kithairon as the winner!
Kithairon and Zeus
Another interesting story that features Kithairon involves the king of the gods himself. Like the previous tale, this one occurs many generations after the birth of the Ourea. Their demi-god status is long secure, and the Twelve Olympians rule over the known world.
In this tale, Kirhtairon offers some sage advice to Zeus. The interaction occurs after one of Zeus’ many affairs. The king of the gods was known for his infidelity to his wife, Hera. Of course, those romantic flings with immortals and humans would cause great strain between Zeus and Hera.
Hera became angry at Zeus and gave him the cold shoulder. She withheld her affection, and some accounts say that she refused to talk to Zeus at all.
Kithairon advised Zeus to create a wooden statue and dress it up like Plataea, the daughter of Asopus. Plataea was a beautiful Naiad nymph whose presence would surely rile up the already angry Hera. Zeus followed the demi-god’s advice, dressing up the statue and placing it on his chariot.
Upon seeing what she thought was another one of Zeus’ brides, Hera flew into a fit of rage and jealousy. The goddess ran up to Zeus and ripped the covering off the wooden statue. When she realized that Zeus was not being unfaithful, she spoke to him and the two reconciled.
Kithairon and Dionysus
The story of Dionysus is well-understood. However, the details surrounding his birth are unclear. Most accounts say that Zeus entrusted the Ourea Nysos to raise his divine son on Earth. However, some poets confuse Nysos with Kithairon. For that reason, the two deities are used interchangeably throughout the story of Dionysus.
All that said, some scholars do believe that Kithairon and his mountain played a big part in Dionysus’ story. The young god roamed the mountain range and reportedly entrusted the demi-god to rule his kingdom as he advanced his army to India. Kithairon refused to give the kingdom back upon his return, forcing Dionysus to wait three long years to trick the demi-god into returning it!
Another story says that Kithairon watched over the aunts of Dionysus. The god sought revenge after his mother’s sisters called her a liar for saying that Zeus impregnated her. Dionysus stuck them with madness. Afterward, they roamed aimlessly throughout Kithairon’s mountain range.
Mount Kithairon appears a few other times in Greek mythology. The mountain god remains silent and unseen, but he likely watched over the events as they occurred.
Some of the most notable events include Heracles and Oepidus. Oepidus would go on to have one of the more memorable tales of Greek mythology. But before any of those events could occur, he was exposed by his parents on Mount Kithairon. Meanwhile, the mountain was the site of the Heracles’ earliest achievements. There, he killed the Lion of Mount Kithairon.
Kithairon is a mountain god of Boeotia.
Kithairon is one of possibly ten Ourea.
This demi-god is also referred to as “Cithaeron.”
Kithairon rules Mount Kithairon and its accompanying range. The mountain rises 1,409 meters tall, while the surrounding range stretches approximately 10 miles long.
The central location of Mount Kithairon makes it the backdrop of many scenes in Greek mythology.
Kithairon and his mountain may have played a part in the rituals of Dionysus.
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