|Hekate in Homer and Hesiod|
|Hekate and the Golden Fleece|
|The Dark Side|
Hekate (Hecate) is the daughter of the Titans, Perses and Asteria, and is honored above all other Immortals by Zeus. When Zeus and the other Olympians defeated the Titans and forced them into submission, Zeus found no fault with Hekate and she retained all honors and powers she had before the great War of the Titans.
Hekate's powers and responsibilities are varied and many but they all seem to revolve around prosperity for the deserving humans on the face of the earth but her dominion also encompassed the sea and all things in the heavens. She is always included in the prayers and sacrifices of pious people because she can give prosperity to anyone she pleases and likewise, she can bestow hardship to those who displease her.
Hekate sits on her throne as a hero approaches.
One curious fact that seems to stand out when comparing the works of the poets Homer and Hesiod is that Hesiod proclaims Hekate to be the mother of the six-headed beast, Skylla (Scylla), with Phoibos Apollon as the father. Homer, on the other hand, does not mention Hekate in The Iliad or The Odyssey … this is especially interesting because Skylla is a major character in The Odyssey and it seems likely that Homer would not have neglected such an important detail as Hekate being Skylla's mother. Homer and Hesiod are usually placed in the same time period (circa 750 BCE) and it seems that they would have had access to essentially the same information.
When the diabolical Ares (god of War) kidnapped Persephone and took her to the Underworld, Hekate told Persephone's mother, Demeter, that she had heard screams from her cave but had not seen the actual abduction and could not say who had stolen the young girl … Helios (the Sun), who usually sees all happenings on the earth and sea, was busy accepting offerings and did not see young Persephone being taken from her friends and playmates but still knew that the deed was the work of Zeus and Hades. Hekate took flaming torches in each hand and assisted Demeter in the search for Persephone.
Hekate was honored and praised by young and old alike … she is even called upon to turn the eyes of young girls from their young lovers and dote on gray-hared old men who may have lesser powers by still have hearts full of desire.
Hekate and Trophonius (Trophonios).
In the epic tale Argonautika, Jason and the Argonauts encountered Medeia (Medea), one of the daughters of king Aietes (Aeetes) … Medeia was the granddaughter of Helios (the Sun) and the niece of the Dread Goddess, Kirke (Circe) … most importantly, Medeia was a priestess of the goddess Hekate … she was the most notorious priestess of Hekate in the ancient world … her days were spent perfecting her art in Hekate's temple and her fame as a mistress of potions was second only to her aunt, Kirke.
The quest for the Golden Fleece was one of the pivotal events in Greek prehistory … in order for Jason to claim his throne in Iolkos (Iolcos), which was ruled illegally by king Pelias, Jason gathered the greatest heroes of the day to accompany him to the far away land of Kolchis (Colchis) in order to retrieve the Golden Fleece … by accomplishing this feat, Jason would prove that he was a worthy leader and also that he was loved by the Immortals. The Golden Fleece was the property of the king of Kolchis, Aietes, and was guarded in the Garden of Ares by a giant serpent/dragon … gaining possession of the Fleece was no easy task.
King Aietes was not inclined to relinquish the Golden Fleece to Jason without a test of the young man's strength and cunning … Aietes said that he would give Jason the Golden Fleece if he could demonstrate his strength by harnessing two fierce supernatural, bronze-footed bulls, plow a field and plant the dragon's teeth of Kadmos (Cadmus) … the dragon's teeth would grow into warriors and then Jason would have to fight and kill the Earth-Born warriors who grew from the dragon's teeth.
Jason met with Medeia and together they plotted how he could survive the ordeal and win the Golden Fleece without having to fight Aietes' army or resort to common thievery … as a skilled priestess of Hekate, Medeia made a potion from flowers that grew from the blood of Prometheus as he laid suffering, chained to the Caucasus Mountains … Medeia bathed herself seven times in fresh water and then, dressed in black on a moonless night, called seven times to Hekate by the name of Brimo, night-wanderer and sovereign of the dead … the earth trembled and a bellowing cry came from under the ground … at this sign from Brimo, Medeia severed the flesh textured root of the plant and placed it in a fragrant band strapped to her bosom … she then concocted a potion which was made from the plant and gave Jason instructions as to how to enact its powers.
In order to gain the protection of Hekate, Jason was told to dress in dusky garments and then go alone to the river at midnight and bathe … he was then to dig a rounded pit, build a large pyre and sacrifice a whole ewe … he was then to pray to Hekate as he poured honey from a goblet … at this point Medeia warned him not to be alarmed or retreat if he heard the sound of feet or the baying of hounds for these were signs that Hekate was near and had heard his prayers. At dawn, Jason was to steep the charmed potion in water and then to anoint himself as if it was oil and then to sprinkle the charmed water on his weapons and shield … these precautions would make the spears of the Earth-Born warriors ineffective and make him immune to the fire snorted by the supernatural bulls. Jason did as he was told and, with the protection of Hekate, subdued the supernatural bulls and defeated the Earth-Born warriors.
Despite the honor Hekate receives from Zeus and the good things she represents, Hekate has a dark side that is absolutely terrifying. Her temple in the Underworld is called The Shades and is indicative of the cruel side of her nature.
As she was maturing, Hekate was bold and lawless … she was fond of hunting but if there were no beasts to kill, she would vent her bloodlust on human prey. Her ingenious ability to mix deadly poisons led to the creation of a particularly lethal drug called akonite (aconite) which she tested on strangers who haplessly wandered into her realm … she would also sacrifice strangers at the Temple of Artemis. Her infamy was well known in the ancient world and she was feared for her pitiless cruelty.